Buying the Tree

Me: There’s nothing like a happy dog.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Harriet. Ears up and a big smile on her face.

Nell: She loves her walks.

Me: I enjoyed getting the tree yesterday.

Nell: You left me in the car.

Me: Shopping at the Garden Centre isn’t what it used to be. COVID19 has seen to that.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: You can’t dawdle.

Nell: I don’t dawdle.

Me: Anyway, we went for a lovely walk afterwards.

Nell: I used to enjoy the Garden Centre.

Me: I know you did.

Nell: A light lunch at the cafe and then a pleasant chat with Faye at The Barn.

Me: The Barn wasn’t open. We’re in lockdown.

Nell: Why were you there, then?

Me: We were allowed to buy our Christmas tree.

Nell: And candles?

Me: Yes, and some homemade dog biscuits.

Nell: I could have chosen those.

Me: You’ll be able to soon, Nell.

Nell: If I’m accompanying you on a jaunt, I expect to leave the car.

Me: It wasn’t a jaunt. It was more of a quick trundle.

Nell: And I do not expect to share the journey home with a spiky tree.

Me: There was plenty of room.

Nell: Would you like it if I said ‘Do join me on a trundle and you won’t mind if a cactus shares your seat.’

Me: It wasn’t a cactus. It looks beautiful now we’ve decorated it, though, doesn’t it?

Nell: Yes, it’s very Christmassy.

Me: And wasn’t it lovely to chat to Chris, Alice and the children on FaceTime?

Nell: David hogged the phone.

Me: He can’t help it. He’s such a Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: All in all it was a very pleasant day. Apart from the needles in my fur.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The Secret is Out

Me: It’s Sunday today, Nell.

Nell: Yes, I know. It’s Sunday all day. The sun is shining through the morning mist and I can hear the Welsh corgi choir singing.

Me: It’s lovely to hear carols again, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes. Happy First Advent.

Me: Thank you and the same to you. But it’s Sunday, Nell. We can finally tell everyone about the surprise.

Nell: Well, go on then. Tell them.

Me: What? Me? Now?

Nell: Good grief. Get on with it.

Me: Next Sunday you’re finally going to hear Nell speak.

Nell: I’ve been doing that for years.

Me: I know but until now I’m the only one who has heard you.

Nell: They’ll be able to hear you as well.

Me: Never mind me.

Nell: I beg to differ. I couldn’t have done it without you. And an awful lot of help from Kev.

Me: He’s worked incredibly hard at producing this.

Nell: What we’re trying to say is, that as a surprise for you all, Sara has written an Audio Christmas Special 2020 which you will be able to listen to from next Sunday, 6th Dec.

Me: I thought it was about time you heard Nell’s voice.

Nell: And everyone needs a surprise at Christmas.

Me: Especially this year.

Nell: Yes. 2020 has turned out to be quite a difficult year for us all.

Me: It certainly has. But hearing Nell speak will make your Christmas a little brighter.

Nell: You flatter me.

Me: It’s true, Nell. You are such a comfort. I don’t know where I would be without you.

Nell: Anyway, we hope you enjoy the Christmas Special next Sunday.

Me: It will make you laugh.

Nell: And it will definitely make you cry.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. None at all.


Bob is not my Uncle

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is looking awfully hungry.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: Dave is drooling again.

Nell: Stop waving a bacon sandwich at him then. Good grief.

Me: He’s already had two, Nell. This one is mine.

Nell: That’s a rather selfish start to the day.

Me: Unbelievable. I happen to know that you and Knitwear Wolf were cosily eating your sandwiches in front of the fire.

Nell: So?

Me: You didn’t offer any of yours to me.

Nell: You were writing upstairs.

Me: I was until Dave popped upstairs to tell me to hurry up and grab a sandwich before they had all gone. Bless him.

Nell: Hats off to David for ingenuity.

Me: Why?

Nell: You’ll weaken and he knows it. Now, have you told everyone about these Black Friday Weekend offers on your book yet?

Me: No.

Nell: The nice people at Gazelle Book Services are knocking 50% off the price of your book this weekend. All people have to do is enter the code GZBLACKF20.

Me: And Bob’s your uncle.

Nell: Bob is certainly not my uncle. He’s a retired ex services Border Terrier.

Me: It’s just a saying. Anyway, if anyone is thinking of buying the book as a Christmas present then please take advantage of this deal.

Nell: I think you shared the link in your story too.

Me: Yes, I did. Why have the Welsh corgi choir arrived? It’s not Sunday.

Nell: Costume fittings with The Cat. Some of their woolly jumpsuits are a little tight.

Me: I hate it when that happens.

Nell: Please tell me you’re not going to be wearing a woolly jumpsuit.

Me: No. Mine is silver like the Talking Bowl.

Nell: You are not going on stage. Especially in a silver jumpsuit.

Me: Ok. Sorry.



Me: I’m impressed with Harriet.

Nell: Why? Because she started barking from 7am again this morning?

Me: I wish she wouldn’t do that. No. When Tony arrives you all rush to the gate.

Nell: Of course we do. It’s Tony.

Me: Yes. But sometimes Poppy is busy in the kitchen so Harriet dashes back to get her.

Nell: Yes, Harriet likes us all to greet Tony. She wants us to share in the joy of his visit before David monopolises him.

Me: Yes. It’s kind of her.

Nell: We Labradors are devoted to the concept of Sharing, you know.

Me: I’m not sure about that, Nell. You can be rather territorial about a bone.

Nell: Why do you think we watch you when you eat?

Me: Because you’re greedy?

Nell: Greedy? How can you say such a thing? We’re merely showing our interest and we know food is there to be shared.

Me: Not my food.

Nell: Who is greedy now?

Me: You never let me eat in peace.

Nell: Do we howl at you?

Me: No.

Nell: Or bark in a rude, demanding way?

Me: Like Poppy, you mean?

Nell: Poppy can be a little too forceful.

Me: You all just gaze at me.

Nell: With love.

Me: For my food. Not me.

Nell: Nonsense. How many times have I heard you say that people show their love for each other through food?

Me: True. It’s one of the things I miss most. There’s nothing like a family meal, or dinner with friends. Thanksgiving is an example.

Nell: My point exactly. Food is meant to be shared. Not greedily scoffed with no thought for others.

Me: I don’t scoff, thank you very much.

Nell: You have your moments. Just appreciate our involvement. Remember Sharing is Caring.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Thanksgiving 2020

Nell: What on earth is all that noise?

Me: Well, the thing is, Nell.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: It’s Thanksgiving in the United States today.

Nell: Yes, I’m aware of that and I would like to wish all our dear friends from across the pond a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Me: Yes, although one of them is actually here.

Nell: Are we talking about the pug in a hat?

Me: Yes. Babycakes Gillespie.

Nell: So what is the thing, because there’s an awful lot of kerfuffle going on for a Thursday morning?

Me: Dave, Harriet, Gladys, The Cat and I thought we might celebrate with him because he’s so far from home.

Nell: So you formed a Thanksgiving committee?

Me: I wouldn’t call it a committee as such.

Nell: Is anyone else involved?

Me: Well, Poppy and Malcolm are preparing all the food with Manuel and Benjamin Seagull.

Nell: And Henry and Horst?

Me: They’ve been helping Knitwear Wolf and The Cat distribute Thanksgiving cardigans.

Nell: How are they doing that?

Me: On the back of the larger animals.

Nell: And Princess?

Me: She’s performing later with Gladys and the llamas. Dave has been persuaded to sing.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Our Penguin is filming it all.

Nell: All we are missing now is the Welsh corgi choir and the Whippets Institute.

Me: Don’t worry. They should be here soon. The minibus got stuck in traffic.

Nell: Why exactly was I not consulted?

Me: We thought you and Kev might be too busy with the surprise.

Nell: I’m never too busy to give thanks with friends and family. This year has been a dreadful one, but we still have each other and for that I am very grateful.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So, where’s my hat?

Me: I’ll get it. Sorry.


Wednesday Views

Me: I’m very lucky to have this view when I’m writing. I love it so much.

Nell: I know you do.

Me: I think we’re going to have some sunshine today.

Nell: Yes. Harriet is sitting meekly outside on her lounger.

Me: Is she making her sweet little innocent face?

Nell: Yes.

Me: What did she do?

Nell: Barked repeatedly until everyone got up.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy is extremely grumpy. We had burnt toast and the boiled eggs were hard, not dippy.

Me: Gosh. Dave must have been disappointed.

Nell: He perked up after he heard Babycakes Gillespie had gone to get his bagel cart and some Starbarks coffees.

Me: Is that wise?

Nell: After the breakfast we’ve just had, it is essential. A Labrador cannot be expected to get through the day on burnt toast alone.

Me: True. Babycakes seems happier.

Nell: Yes, he and John the Doberman are getting along well, now that Poppy has made her choice.

Me: Has Manuel recovered from yesterday’s excitement on the beach?

Nell: He loved it. He keeps saying ‘Mr David. When we go chase Beefies again?’

Me: By the way, Kev says the surprise is finished.

Nell: What surprise?

Me: The one we’re giving everyone on 6th December.

Nell: That’s supposed to be a secret.

Me: I know but I can’t bear it any longer. I need to share it.

Nell: You are supposed to wait. We haven’t put in all these hours of work to have you just blurt it out.

Me: No. I’ve decided I’m going to tell everyone this Sunday what is happening next Sunday. We need something to look forward to more than ever this year, Nell.

Nell: I know. Ok, we’ll tell them this Sunday. You just can’t wait, can you?

Me: No. Sorry.


Chasing Beefies

Me: Weren’t the puppies magnificent on the beach yesterday?

Nell: Yes. They were certainly most enthusiastic.

Me: The way they both ran into the sea scattering Beefies left, right and centre as Poppy barked orders from the beach.

Nell: It was a well coordinated manoeuvre but I’m not sure everybody appreciated it.

Me: Did anyone complain?

Nell: An elderly Airedale and its owner seemed quite startled when we arrived.

Me: I suppose it’s not every day you see a giant Black Labrador with an octopus on its head.

Nell: I told David to let Manuel ride on his back but he ignored me.

Me: Dave looked like he had dreadlocks.

Nell: Yes. He reminded me of Dog Marley.

Me: Where is Dog Marley at the moment? I haven’t seen him in ages.

Nell: Making jam, according to David. Each to their own I suppose.

Me: Good for him. Anyway, it was lovely to see everyone having such fun, especially my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I adore seeing him run free.

Nell: Yes. Those Beefies deserved to be bounced. Rude creatures.

Me: What were they shouting?

Nell: ‘Snow Bite, want a fight?’

Me: That’s unnecessary.

Nell: Rumour has it that they are thinking of holding a rival pantomime.

Me: Really? Who told you that?

Nell: The cows. They said it was called ‘Beefies in the Wood.’

Me: Is that the one where a couple of young Beefies are stolen from Nurse Nellie by the evil Stephen Seagull and left to perish in a wood until Robin Woof rescues them?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Just a thought.

Nell: Nurse Nellie?

Me: It’s a good story though, isn’t it?

Nell: Just try and keep it to yourself for a change, please. You know what you’re like.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Frosted Hair

Me: I made an interesting discovery on our walk yesterday?

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Because you have thick bear-like hair it looks exactly like frosting when the rain falls on it.

Nell: Bear-like hair?

Me: You know what I mean. Since we moved to Devon your hair has become thicker. The puppies’ hair is finer so their hair just looks like it’s been gelled when it’s wet.

Nell: Has it occurred to you that it might actually have been frost?

Me: No. It wasn’t cold enough.

Nell: It felt cold enough to me.

Me: It looked beautiful, Nell, and rather Christmassy. In fact it reminded me that we need to get our Christmas tree soon.

Nell: Well, I’m very glad that my frozen fur made you so happy.

Me: It wasn’t frozen, Nell.

Nell: I’m pleased we are having a Christmas tree, though. I did wonder.

Me: Oh yes. Even though it’s only Kev and I this Christmas we need to make it look nice.

Nell: Only you and Kev? What are you talking about?

Me: Well, we won’t be seeing family.

Nell: But you will be seeing us.

Me: Yes. I don’t know where I would be without you all. You are such a comfort.

Nell: I’m not sure Poppy would agree. She’s going through everyone’s dietary requirements for the Christmas menu with Malcolm and young Benjamin Seagull and she’s not happy.

Me: Is Manuel involved?

Nell: He just keeps smiling and saying, ‘Si, Mrs Poppy.’

Me: Well, he is from Barcelona.

Nell: True. Do you know Gladys is thinking of going vegan?

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: She’s been talking to Henry and Horst again.

Me: Woodlice are naturally vegan, aren’t they?

Nell: Yes, but they don’t have to go on about it.

Me: No. Sorry.


David gets over involved

Me: I finally had a good night’s sleep.

Nell: Yes, we know. Poppy told us at Morning Thoughts.

Me: Poppy did?

Nell: Yes. Poppy shares your bed, so we rely on her for the morning update.

Me: She doesn’t make notes, does she?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: I wouldn’t like to think I was being monitored.

Nell: Of course you are being monitored. That’s what we do. It’s part of a dog’s duty.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. David finds it exhausting. He tends to get over involved.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Yesterday evening when your earache was bad, David reported a sharp pain in his ears.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: But when Poppy told us you had slept well he went straight off to sleep.

Me: Bless him. Oh my goodness, Nell. Something really strange is going on at Sunday Songs. The Welsh corgi choir are wearing woolly jumpsuits and riding around on the llamas.

Nell: Are they singing?

Me: Yes. You’re going to laugh but I could swear they’re singing ‘Ride like the Wind’ by Christopher Cross.

Nell: The one from 1979?

Me: How did you know that? And now Poppy is chasing Harriet madly through the middle of it all and she’s carrying her sword.

Nell: Does Harriet look scared?

Me: She looks terrified. What on earth is going on? Has Harriet criticised Poppy’s scones?

Nell: No. We thought we would use Sunday Songs to practise the big running away scene from the pantomime.

Me: What?

Nell: You know. The one where Snow Bite is chased across Dartmoor by Evil Mrs Snow.

Me: Why are the corgis riding on llamas?

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir are sheep and the llamas are Dartmoor ponies. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What are you doing?

Nell: What are you doing?

Me: Don’t give me that look. I’m just taking a few photos of you and Dave to show how big Dave is.

Nell: Everybody knows how big David is. You were up all night again with earache. Go back to bed.

Me: I need to sweep up those leaves.

Nell: Not now, you don’t. Stop being irresponsible and go back inside.

Me: People have been ever so kind, Nell.

Nell: Well, that’s most gratifying.

Me: They’ve given me all sorts of useful advice.

Nell: Good.

Me: Like putting warm buttered toast on my ear.

Nell: Plain toast. Not buttered. Good grief.

Me: It was a bit greasy. Fortunately Dave ate it.

Nell: He’s very helpful like that.

Me: And sticking a hedgehog in your ear.

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: Don’t worry I would never do that to a hedgehog.

Nell: It would never let you.

Me: I love hedgehogs.

Nell: You must keep your distance. Hedgehogs are solitary beings. Greta says they prefer to be alone.

Me: Greta Garbo?

Nell: I don’t know her surname. She’s Dave’s mysterious hedgehog friend. You might have seen them together.

Me: I didn’t know Dave had a mysterious hedgehog friend.

Nell: Well, he does. He and Henry visit her occasionally at the bottom of the garden.

Me: She could easily eat Henry, you know.

Nell: Anyone could easily eat Henry. Don’t worry she much prefers biscuits, or some of The Cat’s food.

Me: Don’t you mean cat food?

Nell: No. I mean fresh fruit salad if you must know, although she rarely refuses a piece of grilled fillet steak if The Cat has some to spare.

Me: Is she going to be in the pantomime?

Nell: Of course not. Hedgehogs don’t do pantomimes. Everyone knows that.

Me: Sorry.