Goodbye 2020

Me: That photo says it all.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Harriet is worried. You are a secret Cheeky Animal and my Big Brave Beautiful Boy is just chilling.

Nell: What about Poppy?

Me: Poppy is luxuriating on a pillow like the queen she is.

Nell: I’m not a secret Cheeky Animal and Harriet’s not worried.

Me: She is. She knows she did her early barking as well as her middle of the night barking.

Nell: Yes, that was annoying. No wonder David is tired.

Me: We are all tired. It’s New Year’s Eve, Nell. The way I’m feeling I shall be in bed before midnight.

Nell: We all will.

Me: What about the barbecue?

Nell: The barbecue is during the day. We can’t have animals trying to get home in the dark. Not in this cold weather.

Me: You are right.

Nell: The Whippets Institute minibus will provide a shuttle service.

Me: How many guests are we expecting?

Nell: Goodness only knows. Word has spread about the Game of Bones Barbecue so everyone is coming in costume.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: I’m just glad the trampoline has gone.

Me: Yes.

Nell: There’s been far too much bouncing lately.

Me: I’m very glad to be saying goodbye to 2020, What a truly dreadful year.

Nell: Yes. The important thing now is to look forward not back. As I told you before, there is light at the end of the kennel.

Me: I don’t like kennels.

Nell: Nobody does but it’s not for much longer.

Me: No.

Nell: Tonight we are closing the door on the 2020 kennel and moving into 2021.

Me: But it’s still a kennel, Nell.

Nell: With an open door just waiting for you to leave as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Wednesday Madness

Nell: The world is going mad.

Me: People were asking about my all encasing hat so I thought I would show them you and I on the beach and then Kev jumped out wearing it.

Nell: His glasses are upside down.

Me: Are they? Typical. You’re going to laugh, but I thought I saw Poppy just now in a huge hairy coat carrying her sword.

Nell: You did.

Me: She was riding on Monty the Moose.

Nell: I know. She couldn’t find a horse.

Me: Is there any reason why?

Nell: It’s this wretched Game of Thrones thing. Poppy found the box set and is binge watching all episodes.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: She thinks she’s a cross between Jon Snow and the Mother of Dragons and is getting everyone involved.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: David loves the idea, of course. He’s a noble knight and Harriet is a beautiful princess.

Me: I’m not sure Princess will like that.

Nell: She’s the Goddess of the Sea apparently, so she’s fine about it. Our Penguin is filming it all.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: It’s called ‘Game of Bones’.

Me: Brilliant.

Nell: Even Henry and Horst are joining in.

Me: In hairy coats?

Nell: No. Suits of armour. Hairy coats make them look like bits of fluff.

Me: Do you think I could wear my all encasing hat?

Nell: Don’t ask me. The Cat is in charge of costumes. All I know is that Malcolm is at the end of his tether. Thank goodness for Manuel. Nothing phases that octopus.

Me: Why?

Nell: It’s all those tentacles and he’s from Barcelona.

Me: I meant why is Malcolm stressed?

Nell: Poppy wants dramatic food.

Me: Like popping candy?

Nell: No. Like huge joints of meat roasting over an open fire.

Me: I see. Sorry.


Dave gets caught again

Me: I caught Dave again at Cheeky Animal.

Nell: David isn’t supposed to be playing. He has work to do.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He’s meant to be spreading the word about the release of the audio book.

Me: Just tell the cows. Everyone will know then.

Nell: The cows are inside. It’s far too cold for outside gossiping.

Me: Maybe Poppy could ask her Beefy Fan Club. You know they think she was in ‘Game of Thrones’, don’t you?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. That was Jon Snow not Evil Mrs Poppy Snow.

Me: I think it’s because she waves a sword.

Nell: Can we concentrate on the matter at hand, please?

Me: Is the book out on Audible yet?

Nell: No. Just Google Play and Apple Books.

Me: It’s awfully exciting, Nell.

Nell: Yes, and just what we all need to take our minds off this difficult time.

Me: At least the sun is shining today. I don’t mind the cold, if there is sun.

Nell: Tell that to the llamas. They are out there in dressing gowns. Ridiculous creatures.

Me: Babycakes Gillespie has started serving mulled wine as well as coffee with his bagels.

Nell: No wonder that llama fell over just now. I thought it was just showing off.

Me: I love a good mulled wine.

Nell: Don’t you start. Now, New Year’s Eve this year is going to be rather low key.

Me: Probably wise.

Nell: Poppy is thinking of a barbecue.

Me: Isn’t it a bit cold for that?

Nell: Knitted hats and scarves will be provided.

Me: I can wear my all encasing hat.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And nobody will know it is me.

Nell: Everybody knows it is you. Leave the spying to Sally and Harriet.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Monday Thoughts

Me: Harriet has become a proper Devon dog.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: I noticed it on our walk yesterday afternoon.

Nell: I noticed that it was hailing and the fields had turned into mud.

Me: Yes, but look at the wonderful colour of the Devon soil. Rich and red. Just like Harriet

Nell: Harriet is chocolate brown and she is certainly not rich.

Me: You know what I mean.

Nell: She has definitely flourished since we moved down to Devon.

Me: I think we all have, Nell.

Nell: You are right.

Me: I just want this awful pandemic to be over so we can all enjoy it again.

Nell: Try and be patient. There is light at the end of the kennel.

Me: Don’t you mean tunnel?

Nell: Certainly not. What would I be doing in a tunnel?

Me: What would you be doing in a kennel?

Nell: I have no idea but I would definitely want a light on.

Me: True.

Nell: I’m so glad it’s nearly the end of this truly horrible year

Me: Yes. It’s been dreadful.

Nell: Apart from the release of your book, of course, and recording the audio book.

Me: Did I tell you the publishers are going to re-release it next year?

Nell: Yes. We missed all the book markets so hopefully they will take place again.

Me: The book buyers need to like it.

Nell: They will. Better times are ahead.

Me: I hope so. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet our readers?

Nell: It would be most gratifying.

Me: You never know, Nell. It might still happen. I had so many dreams.

Nell: We all did and they can still come true. Life is on hold at the moment, but not for much longer.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Storm Bella

Me: What are you and Dave talking about?

Nell: Storm Bella, if you must know, and stop being such a Nosey Barker.

Me: It’s Nosey Parker.

Nell: No, it isn’t.

Me: It was certainly wild last night.

Nell: Yes, so I don’t want any comments from you about muddy feet, or stray feathers.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: We had rather a house full.

Me: Did you have a Boxing Day party?

Nell: No. All animals, birds and insects were invited inside to shelter from the storm.

Me: What do you mean by all? Not the llamas?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Where would we put three llamas when we had Malcolm and family, Princess and Our Penguin, Henry and Horst and relatives, half the Welsh corgi choir and PC Panda?

Me: Why was PC Panda here?

Nell: He popped in for a scone and stayed on.

Me: I’m surprised the Whippets Institute weren’t here, too.

Nell: Their minibus got stuck so they had to turn back.

Me: Where are the llamas?

Nell: In The Barn with the larger animals and the pug family.

Me: Has Sunday Songs been cancelled then?

Nell: Of course not. Once everyone has had a nice mug of tea and a bacon sandwich we will venture outside.

Me: It’s still rather cold, Nell.

Nell: Yes, but it’s stopped raining and the sun is out. In my experience one can deal with almost anything if the sun is shining.

Me: And you have woolly hats and scarves.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf has made sure there are plenty of those for everyone.

Me: Did I just see a Beefy fly by in a scarf?

Nell: Yes. When I said everyone, I meant it. This Christmas is about kindness. It’s the only way through.

Me: You are right. Sorry.


Christmas visitors

Me: It was lovely to see Elliot and Scarlett.

Nell: David overstepped the boundaries as usual.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. The love just bursts out of him. He can’t help it.

Nell: He can. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Look at his face.

Me: Elliot doesn’t mind. Christmas is the time for showing affection.

Nell: You are right, I suppose, and it certainly was a joy to see them, and Charlotte too.

Me: Yes, and to FaceTime with Alice and the grandchildren in Germany and Chris, Shannon and Marvin in Toronto.

Nell: Thank goodness for technology.

Me: Yes. Did you see all that snow? Magical.

Nell: Marvin said it doesn’t feel magical at 6am in the morning.

Me: It’s a strange old world at the moment, isn’t it, Nell? Let’s hope next year is different.

Nell: Yes, I know it is, but, as I told you, we just need to take one step at a time. We will get through this.

Me: Talking of steps, the llamas were awfully noisy this morning. What on earth was going on?

Nell: Why Santa had to give them roller skates for Christmas I do not know.

Me: Oh, is that what they were doing? I thought they were moving rather fast.

Nell: I must admit I was shocked when I looked outside.

Me: I bet you were. Llamas on roller skates isn’t something you see every day.

Nell: It wasn’t that. They weren’t wearing helmets. Everyone knows helmets must be worn at all times. Gladys always wears hers.

Me: Gladys has roller skates?

Nell: Of course, but she’s aware of health and safety. Llamas are naturally reckless.

Me: Oh dear. It will all end in tiers. See what I did there?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I’ll get my coat. Sorry.


Christmas Day 2020

Me: Happy Christmas Nell. That hat really suits you.

Nell: Happy Christmas to you, too.

Me: Knitwear Wolf is looking impossibly handsome as always. And at least he managed to smile.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: You always look so serious. It’s Christmas.

Nell: I’ve got a lot on my mind.

Me: Is it the pandemic and missing family and friends? It’s just for now, Nell. Next Christmas we will all be together.

Nell: No. Somebody has eaten a large number of stuffing balls.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy made a whole batch of them yesterday. But when I checked just now, half of them had gone.

Me: They look awfully like meatballs, don’t they?

Nell: Yes. Why?

Me: Nothing.

Nell: What do you know?

Me: It’s just that Dave had meatballs for breakfast. He said it was a lovely surprise.

Nell: David had meatballs for breakfast?

Me: Yes, with some leftover ham he found in the fridge.

Nell: Leftover ham? Are we talking about Poppy’s Christmas ham?

Me: Anyone can make a mistake, Nell. I don’t think he ate it all.

Nell: We need to find a sharp knife.

Me: Stop, Nell! My Big Brave Beautiful Boy doesn’t deserve to die.

Nell: What are you talking about? Nobody is going to die. This isn’t Game of Thrones.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: Poppy has gone for a morning walk with John the Doberman so we have a small window to fix this.

Me: How?

Nell: We will reshape the stuffing balls and pre slice the ham.

Me: Shall I do the carving?

Nell: Certainly not. Fetch Manuel. He has excellent knife skills.

Me: Christmas Day is even more exciting than I imagined.

Nell: Just go and get the octopus, please, and stay in the real world.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It’s Christmas Eve you know

Me: The girls are looking lovely.

Nell: Are you talking about the Welsh corgi choir? Those red shawls from Knitwear Wolf are just the thing.

Me: I was talking about Poppy and Harriet actually. I haven’t seen the choir this morning.

Nell: They’re in The Barn entertaining the pug family.

Me: Are they from the United States?

Nell: No, they’re from Wales. You’ve been listening to them sing for years. Have you been on the mulled wine already?

Me: No. I meant the pugs. I thought they might be relatives of Babycakes Gillespie’s.

Nell: Do you seriously think that Babycakes would leave them out in the cold?

Me: No. I suppose not.

Nell: They’re from Cornwall, by the way. They ran a little cafe down there but it had to close due to all the restrictions. They couldn’t pay the rent so they decided to move to Devon.

Me: Things aren’t much better here. It’s a really difficult time. What’s to be done?

Nell: Actually Knitwear Wolf is in a meeting right now with John the Doberman and Babycakes.

Me: What about?

Nell: Pasties. Rupert suggested that John and Babycakes add pasties to their menus for next year with the pugs as their suppliers.

Me: That’s wonderful.

Nell: They need to sort out some proper living accommodation for them first.

Me: The Cat might have room at the Big House.

Nell: The Cat can’t cope with pugs and pasties. Do try and be a little more realistic, please.

Me: Yes. Are we going on a picnic, Nell?

Nell: No. Why?

Me: I saw Poppy packing picnic baskets with sandwiches, cakes, tea and scones.

Nell: That’ll be for Olive the Other Reindeer and friends. They’ve got a busy night ahead. It’s Christmas Eve you know.

Me: Of course it is. Sorry.


We all need hugs

Me: I’m not sure Dave likes his hat, Nell.

Nell: He says it’s too floppy. Just ignore him. He never sulks for long.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Less of the poor, please. I know for a fact that David had two bacon sandwiches with the larger animals before his second breakfast and an early morning bagel from Babycakes Gillespie’s cart.

Me: What is Babycakes doing out with his cart in this horrible weather?

Nell: Needs must. Since he gave up the gangster life, money has been tight.

Me: I’m sorry about that. I know how it feels.

Nell: I think a lot of people do. This Christmas is not going to be an easy one.

Me: So actually all Dave was doing was supporting Babycakes?

Nell: You could see it like that I suppose. He paid him with bacon and hugs.

Me: Sounds perfect to me.

Nell: Yes. Hugs seem to be very high up on most people’s lists this year.

Me: And Dave’s hugs are the best.

Nell: You would know.

Me: You don’t do physical hugs, Nell. Your hugs are verbal ones full of warmth, wisdom and wit.

Nell: Thank you.

Me: Although the warmth bit isn’t always there, if I’m honest.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: You can be a bit sharp occasionally.

Nell: Only for your own good. I always have your best interests at heart.

Me: Yes. We all rely on you to keep us going.

Nell: Well, I’m relying on you to help me with the pugs in blankets.

Me: Are we wrapping sausages in bacon?

Nell: Certainly not. Knitwear Wolf is donating blankets to the poor and needy.

Me: They can’t all be pugs.

Nell: No, but the family we found sheltering in The Barn are.

Me: I see. Sorry.


A Guilty Face

Nell: That’s Harriet’s guilty look. What did she do?

Me: She made a nest with my freshly changed bed. There were pillows everywhere.

Nell: You can’t blame her for that. Pillows need fluffing. Everyone knows that.

Me: That wasn’t fluffing, Nell. That was throwing around recklessly.

Nell: Potato, Potahto.

Me: Anyway, she’s forgiven. Nobody can resist that darling little face.

Nell: I know. Harriet’s guilty face is famous in dog circles. Textbook performance.

Me: It’s not a performance, Nell. Harriet is genuinely sorry.

Nell: Of course she is. Now, did you hear the Beefies this morning?

Me: Yes. They were shouting ‘Snow! Snow!’ It’s not cold enough.

Nell: They were talking about Poppy.

Me: Poppy?

Nell: Yes. The Evil Mrs Poppy Snow. Since the pantomime Poppy has become a huge celebrity. The wretched creatures are flocking here to catch a glimpse of her.

Me: What does Poppy think about it?

Nell: She loves it. Every now and then she pops out of the kitchen into the garden, waves her sword and they all cheer.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: And they’re not throwing mackerel.

Me: Really?

Nell: No. It’s sea bass.

Me: I love sea bass.

Nell: So does Poppy. We’ve got more sea bass flying around than the local fishmonger.

Me: Sea bass for dinner then?

Nell: Actually it’s spaghetti bolognese.

Me: Why?

Nell: Olive the Other Reindeer has got friends over again and everyone knows how much reindeer enjoy spaghetti.

Me: I thought they liked carrots.

Nell: A good bowl of pasta will help build up their strength before the Christmas rush.

Me: Maybe we should put out a bowl of pasta instead of a carrot on Christmas Eve?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Pasta’s not portable. How is Santa going to take that back to the sleigh?

Me: Yes. Sorry.