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Thursday Blues

Nell: What is the matter with you?

Me: I didn’t sleep well.

Nell: Why?

Me: Too much on my mind. I just couldn’t settle.

Nell: What was on your mind?

Me: The pandemic, no money, not knowing when I’m going to see the family again. That kind of thing.

Nell: It’s all very understandable.

Me: Do you know that Faye will be 2 at the end of May and the last time I saw her she wasn’t even 1? I’m never getting this time back again.

Nell: What you need is a distraction.

Me: I don’t know.

Nell: What do you feel about Scotch eggs?

Me: Scotch eggs?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Kev loves them and so does Chris.

Nell: David is a huge fan too. Poppy is making some for the picnic.

Me: I didn’t know we were going on a picnic.

Nell: Someone suggested it at Morning Thoughts. They heard you pacing around upstairs last night and thought it might lift your spirits.

Me: Well, I would like to say a big thank you to that someone. It’s very kind of them to think about me and it is a lovely idea.

Nell: I’m sure that someone will be very pleased to hear that.

Me: I would be delighted to attend the picnic. Will there be cake?

Nell: Of course. Lemon drizzle and lots of sandwiches cut into squares with the crusts off.

Me: The way my mother used to make them?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: I know the someone is you, Nell.

Nell: No, you don’t.

Me: You’re always looking out for me.

Nell: We all are.

Me: Yes, but you’re the one who knows me best.

Nell: We will get through this. Together. Trust me.

Me: Yes.

Nell: You and me. Always. Never forget that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Over To You

Me: Are the puppies playing Bitey Faces?

Nell: Where?

Me: Outside in the front garden.

Nell: Let me see. Oh, no that’s not Bitey Faces. They are playing another game.

Me: It can’t be a serious game as they are wagging their tails like mad.

Nell: They’re playing Over To You. You must have heard of it.

Me: Over To You?

Nell: Yes, and Poppy is adjudicating.

Me: How do you play it?

Nell: David has to take the ball carefully from Harriet’s mouth without dropping it.

Me: Isn’t that just stealing?

Nell: Certainly not. There is a great deal of skill involved.

Me: We have a game like that which we play at parties, but we use balloons and our knees, or necks.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Knees and necks, indeed, and balloons pop.

Me: That’s the idea. It’s hilarious. Can you play in teams?

Nell: Yes. Although not all teams stick to the rules. The llamas are particularly naughty and tend to fall over, or cartwheel, at the slightest opportunity.

Me: Dave seems to be winning.

Nell: Both he and Harriet are excellent players.

Me: I don’t suppose the smaller animals can play.

Nell: Anyone can play. You just need to choose your opponent carefully. Nobody likes to play with Poppy.

Me: Henry and Horst could play together. Not with a ball though. Well, maybe a very tiny one.

Nell: They use apples.

Me: Apples?

Nell: Malcolm cuts them into tiny little pieces.

Me: Have you tried the game with food, too?

Nell: Babycakes Gillespie plays with bagels.

Me: Imagine playing with scones. All that jam and cream. What a dreadful mess that would make.

Nell: The bagels don’t have cream cheese on them, you know. It’s called Over To You, not All Over You.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Filming The Old Gaffers Shanty Crew

Nell: Is that Tony and Sue?

Me: Yes. And The Old Gaffers Shanty Crew. Don’t they sound wonderful?

Nell: You’ve forgotten someone.

Me: Kev was filming and I was taking a few photos and behind the scenes type stuff to show you all.

Nell: I’m talking about the black Labrador.

Me: That’s little Ollie. Hasn’t he grown?

Nell: Indeed.

Me: Such a cheerful friendly boy.

Nell: It looks a lot like Hope Cove and The Cottage Hotel to me.

Me: It is. They aren’t officially open until 17th May but Sarah said we could come and film the Old Gaffers as they will be performing there regularly.

Nell: So, you went to my favourite place?

Me: Yes. It was the perfect setting for their song.

Nell: Without me.

Me: Well, we knew we would be busy and we weren’t sure if you would take kindly to being looked after by anyone else.

Nell: I don’t need looking after, thank you very much. I am my own Labrador.

Me: There were a lot of Beefies and a high risk of barking.

Nell: And Ollie? I believe Ollie can bark.

Me: He was with Sue.

Nell: I could have been with you.

Me: Yes. But you don’t always listen to me and we had to get the recording right because it’s their entry in the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival.

Nell: I could have given my advice.

Me: Yes. But as you’ve got older Nell, you tend to voice your opinions rather loudly.

Nell: I don’t know what you mean.

Me: Well, I’m fairly sure you would have barked at Ollie.

Nell: Those young whippersnappers need a firm paw.

Me: Anyway, I will definitely take you on 17th May when they reopen.

Nell: I’m expecting a cream tea.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Gloating

Me: Smiling, happy dogs. That’s what we all need to see on a Monday morning.

Nell: Tell that to Next Door’s Cat.

Me: What’s Next Door’s Cat got to do with it?

Nell: Let’s just say Next Door’s Cat has ruined the start of our week.

Me: What did it do?

Nell: It sat in the garden in the sunshine blatantly refusing to move. Even when asked to do so several times by more than one of us.

Me: Yes. I heard you.

Nell: The cheek of it.

Me: Was it in our garden?

Nell: No, but it was within easy sight.

Me: It’s allowed to sit in its own garden, Nell.

Nell: It wasn’t just sitting though. It was Gloating.

Me: You don’t know that.

Nell: I do.

Me: I’m afraid there is nothing you can do about it.

Nell: I hope it doesn’t expect to be Gliding with Gladys.

Me: I saw the llamas limbering up earlier. I like their shorts.

Nell: I’m not sure if it’s warm enough for shorts yet.

Me: It probably depends on how hairy your legs are.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Men wear shorts earlier in the year than women and llamas earlier than flamingos.

Nell: You won’t see a flamingo in shorts at any time of year.

Me: Do we know why the Beefies are pretending to be mallards?

Nell: Mallards have unlimited access.

Me: To what?

Nell: Most places. You never see signs saying ‘Don’t feed the mallards.’

Me: I suppose you don’t.

Nell: But we’re constantly being told not to feed the seagulls.

Me: Well, that makes sense. Although, close up they are clearly Beefies in tank tops.

Nell: By then the damage has been done. The chips have been shared, the ice-cream stolen.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Knights in Shining Armour

Nell: What on earth is going on out there? It’s Sunday. A day of rest and contemplation.

Me: The puppies are playing Tug of War with Kev’s sock and I don’t think he’s going to be wearing it again anytime soon.

Nell: Is David being patient?

Me: Not really. Harriet is surprisingly strong for her size.

Nell: She learnt from the best.

Me: I’ve never seen you play.

Nell: Thank you for the compliment but I was referring to Poppy.

Me: Oh, I see. Dave is dragging her along but she’s not giving up.

Nell: Good girl.

Me: Wait. Walter Pigeon has got involved.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Walter doesn’t have a chance.

Me: No. He’s flying over and Dave’s dropped the ball.

Nell: I thought it was a sock.

Me: Figure of speech. Harriet is the victor.

Nell: You see. Perseverance pays in the end.

Me: Especially if your opponent decides to play Cowardy Custard with a pigeon instead. Do you think Harriet and Walter were working together?

Nell: Anything is possible. Walter has a soft spot for Harriet.

Me: I never thought of Walter as a knight in shining armour.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Perhaps he has always loved Harriet from afar.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: And seeing her predicament he decided to swoop in and save the day.

Nell: Talking of days, yesterday was very moving, wasn’t it?

Me: It was. I thought the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral was truly lovely. So quiet and dignified.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I didn’t like to see The Queen so alone.

Nell: Nobody did. But these are the times we are living in.

Me: The Duke of Edinburgh was always by her side.

Nell: He still is. Love like that never dies. He is her Guardian now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Kev comes home

Me: What a wonderful welcome home.

Nell: Yes. We were talking to Tony when suddenly darling Kev appeared.

Me: Dave couldn’t believe his eyes. He was so delighted he squealed with joy.

Nell: Kev had been gone an awfully long time. Days and days.

Me: It was only a few hours, Nell.

Nell: Are you sure?

Me: Yes. He only went to the dentist.

Nell: We thought he had gone away.

Me: Sometimes you get your times really wrong.

Nell: It certainly felt like days and days.

Me: Well, it wasn’t.

Nell: It was like a lifetime.

Me: Don’t exaggerate.

Nell: Such an anxious wait. Even Poppy was concerned.

Me: Did you feel like that when I went to the hairdressers?

Nell: Not really.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Yes. I knew where you were.

Me: How?

Nell: You texted me on WoofsApp. A lot, I might add.

Me: I needed your advice.

Nell: It was only a few hours. We could have discussed it when you got back.

Me: I was gone longer than Kev, you know.

Nell: It didn’t feel very long.

Me: You knew Kev was going to see the dentist.

Nell: I did not. One minute he was here and the next he was gone.

Me: That isn’t true.

Nell: We were so worried. We waited and waited by the gate.

Me: I know you did.

Nell: Counting the hours until he came home.

Me: You mean minutes.

Nell: I do not. Thank goodness Tony arrived to brighten our lonely day.

Me: For goodness sake. You are a drama queen sometimes.

Nell: Waiting for someone you love is so painful.

Me: But you love me too.

Nell: Just stop texting us when you’re out and give us a chance to miss you then.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Look at the size of him

Me: Look at those darling puppies cuddling together.

Nell: Nobody in their right mind could ever call David a puppy. Look at the size of him.

Me: He’s my puppy, and so is Harriet.

Nell: Anyway, it’s no wonder they are tired after the excitement of yesterday.

Me: You mean when Bowie the Labrador went missing?

Nell: I certainly do.

Me: Everyone was wonderful. Sharing my post and searching for him.

Nell: You do realise the whole of the Royal Owl Force was involved?

Me: Gosh!

Nell: Owl Pacino takes a missing animal very seriously.

Me: Good for him.

Nell: Not to mention Count Bingo Flamingo and his flamingo squad. Malcolm joined them.

Me: Bless him. Although, a flock of flamingos descending on Torquay might have scared Bowie away.

Nell: It’s a flamboyance of flamingos. They were very discreet.

Me: Can you be discreet as a flamingo, though, Nell?

Nell: They are highly trained.

Me: I suppose they look less flamingoish when they’re flying.

Nell: I’m going to ignore that. Princess and Our Penguin insisted on going over to Torquay to join the search. Poor Knitwear Wolf had to take them in his sidecar.

Me: They wanted to stream it on YouChewed to raise awareness.

Nell: She clapped all the way home.

Me: That’s probably because he was found.

Nell: She did it on the way over as well.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: Anyway, the naughty animal has promised not to run away again.

Me: Good. Poor Irene and Peter were so worried. Bowie is their special boy. I kept imagining how I would feel if Dave went missing.

Nell: David would never run away. And if he did, he would be spotted very quickly. Like I said before. Look at the size of him.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Art of War

Me: Poppy and Dave are playing Tug of War with one of Kev’s socks.

Nell: Yes, I know. David is being trained in the Art of War.

Me: Poppy doesn’t really think she can win does she?

Nell: She knows she can win.

Me: What?

Nell: And so does David.

Me: But he’s ten times the size of her.

Nell: Yes. That doesn’t matter.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Poppy has enormous strength of will.

Me: That’s true.

Nell: And she is fearless.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy can be fearless too.

Nell: But David is kind and gentle.

Me: Yes, he is. Bless him.

Nell: He would never harm Poppy.

Me: Never.

Nell: And Poppy knows it.

Me: So you think Dave will let go first.

Nell: He always does. Poppy is extremely accomplished in the Art of War.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: She knows how to exploit the enemy’s weakness.

Me: Dave isn’t her enemy.

Nell: I know that.

Me: And personally I see his weakness as a strength. I’m proud of his gentle, kind ways.

Nell: I didn’t say David was supposed to win. He’s learning how to accept defeat at the right moment.

Me: Good boy.

Nell: And how to manage his strength.

Me: I see.

Nell: So, he can use it in the right way when needed.

Me: Poppy has the sock.

Nell: She does.

Me: And now she’s dropped it.

Nell: And David is quietly taking it back.

Me: Poppy is trying to grab it again.

Nell: But David is too tall. He is walking away proudly with his head held high.

Me: He won’t be bending his head anywhere near Poppy again.

Nell: I wouldn’t say that. He forgets very quickly. Poppy will get it back again soon.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Tudor Ham and Bitey Faces

Me: Look at you playing Bitey Faces with Harriet on the bed this morning.

Nell: Everyone has their moments.

Me: Full of the joys of Spring.

Nell: Spring is my favourite season.

Me: So, is it just the weather that’s put you in a good mood?

Nell: No. I had an excellent breakfast.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: Poppy has made some exceptionally good marmalade, if you must know. I had it on hot buttered toast with a lovely cup of Earl Grey.

Me: I’m putting the recipe for that in the next book.

Nell: Good idea. Although I’m surprised she agreed to share it.

Me: I had to do a lot of pleading with her. She’s awfully precious about her recipes.

Nell: I just hope you get the one for Lemon Drizzle cake.

Me: I will.

Nell: What do you think about Tudor Ham?

Me: Tudor Ham?

Nell: Poppy has a wonderful recipe passed on through the generations.

Me: You’re not going to tell me that there was a Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier cross at the court of King Henry VIII are you?

Nell: Of course there was. She worked as a cook in the kitchens. Ask Poppy.

Me: You’re making it up.

Nell: I am not. Mistress Poppy was well known in Tudor circles.

Me: Mistress Poppy? You mean the cook was also called Poppy? Did she bake scones?

Nell: Do pugs fly?

Me: You mean pigs.

Nell: I do not.

Me: Are you telling me that there was a Mistress Poppy in Tudor times baking scones?

Nell: And cooking a particularly delicious ham. Funnily enough it’s in Lady Eleanor’s journal.

Me: Lady Eleanor?

Nell: Yes. The black Labrador.

Me: Nell is short for Eleanor.

Nell: I know. How do you think I inherited her journal?

Me: I give up. Sorry.

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A Guilty Nose

Me: Why is Dave lying in the doorway?

Nell: Poppy has banished him from the kitchen.

Me: He hasn’t stolen a bacon sandwich, has he?

Nell: No. Bacon was not involved.

Me: Whatever he’s done it will be a mistake. My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is not a criminal.

Nell: David has a Guilty Nose.

Me: A Guilty Nose?

Nell: Yes. Everyone knows that Poppy will not allow a Guilty Nose in her kitchen.

Me: What is a Guilty Nose?

Nell: Notice the staining.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Quite.

Me: It looks like mud to me.

Nell: Yes. Digging probably took place.

Me: Maybe he was working in the garden, or playing a game with Henry and Horst.

Nell: David was seen by the plant pots.

Me: Was he near my lavender again?

Nell: A witness reported snuffling near the hedge.

Me: Well, that witness is a proper busybody if you ask me.

Nell: Nobody did.

Me: All he was doing was smelling the lavender. That’s not a crime.

Nell: Mud was found on the ground.

Me: I don’t think it’s fair to banish someone for over enthusiasm.

Nell: If you’re going to snuffle a plant pot then the least you can do is wipe your nose. Especially before entering the kitchen.

Me: I suppose so.

Nell: Poppy has standards to maintain.

Me: Yes, she does.

Nell: She can’t risk her reputation.

Me: How was Dave supposed to wipe his nose?

Nell: With a handkerchief, of course. What a question.

Me: I thought you were going to say grass.

Nell: Grass? Do you wipe your nose on grass?

Me: No.

Nell: Well then.

Me: But what if he doesn’t have a handkerchief?

Nell: Then he asks for one. There are plenty in the drawer you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.