Dogs can’t climb trees

Me: What’s the matter with my Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Beauregard is in Oliver’s tree house.

Me: Goodness me. Is Oliver ok with that?

Nell: He says Oliver invited him. But I’m not convinced. Does it sound likely to you?

Me: That a tiger would be in a tree house?

Nell: No. Tigers like trees. Everyone knows that.

Me: Not in Devon.

Nell: No, but is it likely that an opossum would invite a tiger into its house?

Me: Was it a particular invitation, or a general one?

Nell: I see what you mean. Oliver might have extended an invitation to us all to come and see the beautiful tree house that Rupert has made for him.

Me: Yes. And Beauregard was the only one who came.

Nell: To be fair we dogs can’t actually get up a tree.

Me: And once a tiger is up there then there isn’t an awful lot of room for anyone else.

Nell: Quite.

Me: Is that why Dave’s so sad?

Nell: Partly, and because a little birdy told him that Chris White-Mckinney is leaving the UK today to go and live with her husband Greg in Florida.

Me: Does Dave know Chris?

Nell: No, but she’s one of our loyal readers and David thinks she might forget us.

Me: I’m sure she won’t. We have lots of readers from all over the world.

Nell: That’s what I said.

Me: Was it Walter?

Nell: Was what Walter?

Me: The little birdy.

Nell: No it was James Beddall.

Me: He’s very caring.

Nell: He’s trying to turn us all vegetarian.

Me: You enjoy your vegetables.

Nell: Harriet is passionate about cauliflower.

Me: I know she is. Do you think I could get up a tree?

Nell: Please don’t. For so many reasons.

Me: Sorry.


Who is Mr Wolf?

Me: What game were you all playing in that field?

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: You seemed to be hiding.

Nell: I was. And very well too, until you noticed me.

Me: But Kev definitely wasn’t hiding.

Nell: He’s not a hiding sort of person.

Me: You can say that again. I think you were playing ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf?’

Nell: Rupert wasn’t there.

Me: No, the game where you creep towards someone and pretend to be statues when they turn around.

Nell: Where was Mr Wolf?

Me: Was it Poppy?

Nell: No. But Poppy was certainly involved.

Me: Well, whatever you were playing you certainly helped me take some good photos.

Nell: Why?

Me: Instead of moving like you usually do, you all kept very still when I looked at you.

Nell: Did we now?

Me: Yes. It was amazing. That’s how I knew it must be a game.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And the funny thing was that every time I looked up you all seemed to be nearer.

Nell: Really?

Me: Yes. Except for you.

Nell: It was a little hot for me. I was enjoying the shade. After yesterday’s excitement I needed some quiet.

Me: I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday.

Nell: And Beauregard thoroughly enjoyed Poppy’s roast. Who eats 4 Yorkshire puddings before the meal has even been served?

Me: He might be from the North.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: That’s what people do. They start their meal with Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Nell: Beauregard was just being greedy.

Me: No. He was enthusiastic like Dave. Hang on a minute.

Nell: What?

Me: I’ve had a thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I’m Mr Wolf.

Nell: Of course you are. I told the others that you would work it out eventually.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Sunday Sensation

Nell: What is he doing here? It’s not lunchtime yet. He’s far too early.

Me: He probably wanted to listen to Sunday Songs. We know he likes jazz.

Nell: And that’s another thing.

Me: What?

Nell: How did the Welsh corgi choir know he was coming?

Me: Maybe they didn’t?

Nell: So you think it’s a coincidence that they’ve been singing jazz songs all morning and are wearing white gardenias in their hair like Billie Holiday?

Me: It is a Bank ‘Holiday’ weekend. See what I did there?

Nell: Very droll. And who booked the Whippets Institute band?

Me: Well, I’m thoroughly enjoying it all and so are the llamas. Look at them dancing.

Nell: Llamas will dance to raindrops. Now he’s playing the trumpet. Where did that come from?

Me: He had it with him I suppose.

Nell: Who takes a trumpet to Sunday lunch?

Me: Well, I think Beauregard is sensational.

Nell: And what kind of a name is that? Beauregard.

Me: It’s French for beautiful view and can also mean easy on the eye. And you’ve got to admit he is certainly one very handsome tiger.

Nell: Sharp suits and shiny shoes aren’t everything you know.

Me: Look at the fun everyone is having, Nell. Why don’t you just join in and stop worrying?

Nell: There is more to this than meets the eye. Mark my paws. Look at Sally. She is watching him closely even though she is dancing with David.

Me: She’s just smiling at him.

Nell: But the smile isn’t reaching her eyes. There is something not quite right about Beauregard and Sally knows it.

Me: Well, if Sally knows it then we’ve nothing to worry about.

Nell: What on earth is Gladys doing? Is that a rose in her teeth?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Lunch, or tea?

Me: It was lovely being back at The Cottage Hotel again, wasn’t it?

Nell: Delightful.

Me: The views at Hope Cove are just amazing and they are always so kind and welcoming. The waiter even brought you a bowl of fresh water.

Nell: I asked for Earl Grey.

Me: I know, but I don’t think he heard you.

Nell: Never mind. It was meant well and I appreciated the thought.

Me: Not every dog is as discerning as you, Nell. Dave is happy with builder’s tea.

Nell: David is happy with anything as long as it comes with a bacon sandwich on the side.

Me: Dave knows what he likes. Remember he used to be a food critic.

Nell: Extraordinary. I wonder how that happened.

Me: He’s very open minded when it comes to food. He’ll try anything. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Did Harriet tell you that Sally has been in touch?

Me: No, she didn’t.

Nell: It’s a bank holiday weekend so she is coming down here for a visit.

Me: That’s wonderful news.

Nell: And she’s bringing a friend.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Why? What’s the problem?

Me: Does Dave know?

Nell: Of course he does.

Me: Is he alright about it?

Nell: Yes. You know how much David loves guests and he doesn’t care who is there as long as he sees Sally.

Me: Well, that’s awfully open minded of him I must say.

Nell: Is it?

Me: Not everyone would welcome a tiger to tea.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Especially a handsome stranger sort of tiger who loves jazz and dancing cheek to cheek.

Nell: Sally is bringing Roley Moley.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: The tiger is coming to lunch on Sunday. It’s heard about Poppy’s roasts.

Me: My mistake. Sorry.


Faye is Two Today

Me: I can’t believe Faye is two today. She was a baby the last time I saw her.

Nell: I’ve written a poem. Would you like to hear it?

Me: I would love to.

Nell: ‘Now gather round please

I have something to say

Today is an awfully BIG sort of day.

It’s a day for balloons

And presents and such,

Eating chocolate for breakfast

And ice cream for lunch.’

‘But what about tea?’

‘For Goodness Sake,

Spaghetti, of course

And lots of cake.’

‘Well, I’m just guessing

But if you asked me

And most of the animals

On land and at sea

I think it’s a somebody’s birthday today

And I think that the somebody

Might just be FAYE.’

‘Of course it is Faye

Who else could it be?

It’s not Dave or Harriet,

Or Poppy or me.’

‘Faye has a birthday

Can it be true?

How old is she then?’

‘I think she is two.

She can’t be three

Because Jonathan is four

And he’s her big brother

And much older I’m sure.’

‘Fayely Whaley is two?

Can it be so?

She was only one yesterday

Where did time go?’

‘Never you mind about time,

Fetch your hat,

And Malcolm and Gladys,

Knitwear Wolf and The Cat.

This is a happy and wonderful day

Where we all get to celebrate

Our dear darling Faye.

So Happy Birthday Rainbow

From all of us here,

Especially Granny and Grandpa

Who hold you so dear.

Let’s wave our paws

And kick up our hooves

And fluff up our feathers

And banish the blues.

Because Birthdays are for dancing

And happiness and fun.

Just know you are loved

So much little one.’

Me: It’s perfect. Thank you.

Nell: No tears. You will see them all again soon. Trust me.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Sun Worshippers

Me: I’ve been doing some thinking.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I’ve come to some interesting conclusions.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: We are all very different.

Nell: Amazing.

Me: It came to me while we were waiting for you and Kev to come back from your hydrotherapy session with Chloe.

Nell: I’ve lost half a kilo. Mind you there is only so much broccoli an animal can take.

Me: I know what you mean.

Nell; I definitely deserve a scone later.

Me: Is that allowed?

Nell: Treats are allowed as long as one savours each bite.

Me: I’ll join you then.

Nell: I thought you might. So what else did you find out?

Me: Some of us are sun worshippers like Dave and me.

Nell: Always falling asleep on your sun loungers?

Me: Yes, the warmth of the sun helps us to relax. It lifts our mood.

Nell: David needs his mood lifted after all that nonsense with Sally and dancing tigers.

Me: Has he heard from her?

Nell: Sally sent him a text on WoofsApp saying ‘Don’t worry.’

Me: Good. Where was I?

Nell: Bathing in sunlight.

Me: Oh yes. And then there are the sensible ones like Poppy who sit in the shade.

Nell: Poppy doesn’t like to overheat.

Me: They are the cautious careful ones.

Nell: When has Poppy ever been cautious or careful?

Me: And finally there are the undecided like Harriet. They flit between the sun and the shade.

Nell: Harriet isn’t undecided. She’s like me. We enjoy the sun for a while and then we need a little shade.

Me: Maybe.

Nell: What it comes down to is that you and David can’t get enough of the sun. So, fetch your sun hats and put on some sun screen.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What’s the matter with the weather?

Nell: If I was an animal who allowed bad weather to get me down I would be very down indeed.

Me: Lucky you aren’t that kind of animal then.

Nell: Yes. The llamas are dreadfully depressed. They are usually in short pyjamas by now.

Me: I know. Look at the first photo. That’s what it’s meant to look like. It’s the end of May.

Nell: Everything is a little out of sorts at the moment. Even Princess was wearing a sou’wester yesterday and she’s a seal.

Me: How is Oliver coping?

Nell: He’s a plucky little thing. Doesn’t complain about the rain at all. He’s even got used to Poppy.

Me: Good.

Nell: Follows her around everywhere she goes.

Me: Like a lost puppy?

Nell: A puppy would never be lost here. The mere idea.

Me: It’s just a saying, Nell.

Nell: It’s a bad one. By the way, we have a lot of birthdays coming up next month. Poppy will be 8, the puppies will be 4 and your sister Charlotte will be an age we shall not disclose.

Me: But first Rainbow will be 2 on Friday.

Nell: Rainbow?

Me: My granddaughter Faye Raine.

Nell: Oh you mean Fayely Whaley. Stop giving her names.

Me: That’s what you just did.

Nell: Everybody calls her Fayely Whaley. Do keep up.

Me: Something very odd is going on in the upper garden.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Knitwear Wolf has climbed up a tree with Poppy’s sword.

Nell: It’s a saw, not a sword. He’s making Oliver a tree house.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: Oliver is happiest in a tree. So, Rupert is making sure he is safe and warm.

Me: What a kind wolf he is. I still think that’s Poppy’s sword.

Nell: Put your glasses on.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: Stop annoying David.

Me: I’m not. We are playing Cheeky Animals.

Nell: Is David really in the mood for a game?

Me: He is, Nell. Look. If you wait long enough he will stick his tongue out.

Nell: Have you ever considered he might be telling you to go away?

Me: No. My Big Brave Beautiful Boy is glad of any distraction.

Nell: You might be right. He could certainly do with thinking about something other than that wretched Handsome Stranger.

Me: Do we know anymore about his identity?

Nell: Rumours are flying around. In some cases literally as the Beefies are spreading them too.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: They keep flying past shouting ‘Hello Stranger.’

Me: There’s no need for that.

Nell: I’m just glad Gladys has a cricket bat and knows how to use it.

Me: I’m not sure violence is the answer.

Nell: No. The bat is for hitting mackerel. She scored a six last time.

Me: Good for her. I didn’t know she played.

Nell: Gladys and Poppy are in the ladies cricket team along with most of the Whippets Institute.

Me: Well, goodness me.

Nell: You should come along one Sunday afternoon when the weather gets better. They are a lively bunch and the tea is excellent.

Me: I will. Thank you. So what are the Beefies saying about the Handsome Stranger?

Nell: Ridiculous nonsense. A Bengal Tiger? Just because tigers enjoy dancing.

Me: I didn’t know tigers danced.

Nell: Oh yes. Tigers love jazz. Can’t get enough of it.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: But as I said to my friend Dorothy, ‘Sally is not going to be won over by a cat, however handsome and stripy it is.’

Me: Tigers are magnificent creatures, though.

Nell: And so is David.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.


Monday Whispers

Me: What is Dave whispering in your ear?

Nell: Never you mind.

Me: And why is Poppy in her palace?

Nell: You’ve got an awful lot of questions for a Monday morning.

Me: I know.

Nell: We’re all whispering at the moment. Oliver is easily startled.

Me: It’s a great shame the Beefies have noticed him. Did you hear them shouting ‘Oliver!’ this morning?

Nell: Yes, Knitwear Wolf mentioned it at Morning Thoughts. He was wondering if a woolly hat pulled down might help.

Me: Over their eyes?

Nell: Whose eyes?

Me: The Beefies. So they can’t see Oliver.

Nell: No. Over Oliver’s ears so he can’t hear them.

Me: Oh yes. That might work. But why is Poppy in a mood?

Nell: She’s having problems with her staff.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: She says whispering is simply not possible in a kitchen. She expects her sous chefs to answer clearly and loudly with ‘Oui’ and anyone not doing so will be asked to leave.

Me: Dave isn’t one of her sous chefs, is he?

Nell: No. David is more of a kitchen helper. Malcolm and Manuel are permanent staff.

Me: But Malcolm doesn’t do loud.

Nell: No. And Manuel keeps saying ‘Si’ instead of ‘Oui’.

Me: He is from Barcelona.

Nell: Quite. Anyway, Poppy says we can make our own lunch and soup is definitely off the menu.

Me: And is that what Dave was telling you? I know he loves a nice bowl of soup on a Monday.

Nell: No, David has other things on his mind.

Me: What?

Nell: Sally has been seen out on the town with a handsome stranger.

Me: Walking and talking?

Nell: Worse.

Me: Sharing a bowl of soup?

Nell: No. Dancing cheek to cheek. You’ve got soup on the brain.

Me: Sorry.


Harriet does well

Me: Isn’t Harriet doing well with our guest?

Nell: I knew she was the dog for the job. She has such gentle ways.

Me: I must say I never expected an opossum to have such a strong voice. When it started singing ‘Don’t let me be Misunderstood’ at Sunday Songs I was amazed.

Nell: He sings in a band back home. Please don’t call him O. Possum. It’s so unfriendly. You don’t call me, N. Martin, or Rupert, K. Wolf.

Me: But it’s his name, Nell.

Nell: It is not. His name is Oliver.

Me: Oh.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: Well, now you do, so less of the O. Possum please.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Now, Oliver is very shy around strangers and will play dead at the slightest provocation so we all need to tread carefully around him.

Me: I don’t think Dave can on those giant paws.

Nell: David has been practising Soft Paws.

Me: What does that mean?

Nell: Being quiet and discreet. Cats are particularly good at it.

Me: Except for The Cat.

Nell: It could be, if it ever got out of high heels and stopped wearing sequins.

Me: That’s never going to happen.

Nell: No. Where was I?

Me: Dave was being quiet.

Nell: Yes. Poppy is being particularly noisy today I’m afraid and has been banging pots around all morning. She says there might not be enough roast beef to go around.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Fortunately Manuel has whisked up some extra Yorkshire puddings and Malcolm was hit on the head with a mackerel by a passing Beefy.

Me: What’s fortunate about that?

Nell: The mackerel was fresh so it can be served as an alternative for the pescatarians amongst us. Do keep up.

Me: Oh, I see. Sorry.