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Dave and Harriet are Four Today

Me: I can’t believe Dave and Harriet are four today. They were only puppies yesterday. Look at those photos.

Nell: Poppy is preparing a special birthday menu.

Me: How exciting. What is it?

Nell: Bacon.

Me: Yes, but what else?

Nell: That’s it. Bacon sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Me: What about the cake? I don’t think I can manage a bacon cake.

Nell: I’m only joking. The cake is going to be a light vanilla sponge with butter icing and ‘Happy Birthday Dave and Harriet’ written on the top.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Manuel is doing the icing. He’s a whizz with a piping bag.

Me: Is there really only bacon?

Nell: Of course not. David will have a side of bacon sandwiches with every meal but nobody else has to.

Me: What a relief.

Nell: I shall manage the odd sandwich, or two I expect. It would be rude not to. Where’s your hat?

Me: Am I supposed to be wearing one?

Nell: What kind of a question is that? Hats go with birthdays like jam with cream.

Me: I don’t always have jam with cream.

Nell: No scones for you then. Have you polished your shoes?

Me: I didn’t know I had to.

Nell: How are you going to join in the tap dancing if your shoes aren’t shiny?

Me: Tap dancing?

Nell: It’s the puppies’ birthday. Of course there will be tap dancing.

Me: Is everyone joining in?

Nell: Yes. In their own way. Some are not suited to dancing, like Princess, and will clap along.

Me: I don’t expect Henry and Horst will be dancing either.

Nell: I beg your pardon? Didn’t you notice their top hats? Now, hurry up. The Whippets Institute minibus just pulled up and you aren’t even dressed.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A lovely lunch

Me: It was so lovely to see both of my sisters again.

Nell: I’m glad you enjoyed your lunch together at The Cottage Hotel.

Me: It’s my favourite place. The staff are really welcoming and the view is amazing.

Nell: Yes, I know. It’s mine too.

Me: I’m sorry you couldn’t come with us, but I wanted to meet Hattie Button.

Nell: I understand. She seems very curly.

Me: Her hair is gorgeously soft. She’s only one.

Nell: And mine isn’t?

Me: Your hair is wonderful. It’s lovely and glossy with a mature wave.

Nell: I’ve no idea what a mature wave is but I’m presuming it’s a compliment.

Me: It is.

Nell: Talking of mature, David gave Charlotte a beautifully restrained birthday kiss when she arrived to collect you.

Me: Yes, he did. Bless him.

Nell: It was a great shame Kev couldn’t accompany you but he really isn’t well yet.

Me: Yes. I know. And that’s why I’m afraid we have had to postpone The Growl on Sunday again.

Nell: People will understand.

Me: Kev is a lot more tired than we were expecting.

Nell: Yes. The Growl can wait. Health comes first.

Me: Before I forget, I was talking to Sarah who owns The Cottage Hotel and we were thinking of holding a little event as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Nell: An event?

Me: Yes, I will be there to sign my book and Tony and The Old Gaffers will sing.

Nell: What about me?

Me: Of course you will be there and Kev too. And I don’t know if it’s possible, but if it is, so will Dave, Harriet and Poppy.

Nell: Why didn’t you say that in the first place?

Me: I thought you’d know it could never happen without you. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Charlotte

Me: There’s an awful lot of noise going on downstairs.

Nell: I know.

Me: It sounds a bit like an animal in pain.

Nell: Don’t be so rude.

Me: I’m not being rude. I’m just concerned.

Nell: If you must know Naughty Nigel is practising his birthday song for your sister Charlotte in the yellow chair.

Me; Why in the yellow chair?

Nell: It used to be his chair and it looks good in the video.

Me: Video?

Nell: Our Penguin is filming.

Me: It’s not the nicest sound, Nell.

Nell: He’s having trouble hitting the high notes.

Me: He should ask Harriet. She can run up and down the scales like nobody’s business.

Nell: And it is nobody’s business. Harriet feels an uncontrollable urge to sing when she’s excited. It’s something Sally has asked her to work on.

Me: I suppose you can’t have a spy break into song at a delicate moment. It would ruin their cover.

Nell: Quite.

Me: I thought I heard Dave’s Big Boy voice too.

Nell: David is one of the backing singers.

Me: Bless him.

Nell: Poppy is on the drums.

Me: I did wonder.

Nell: Gladys and the llamas have got in on the act as usual. I have no idea why they are all wearing leg warmers. I’m expecting Olivia Gluten Swan to turn up at any moment.

Me: Don’t you mean Olivia Newton John?

Nell: Does she have special dietary requirements too?

Me: Never mind. I’m sure Charlotte will love the video. Perhaps I can show it to her at lunch?

Nell: What lunch?

Me: I can’t take you this time. My little sister Alex is bringing Hattie Button and one dog is enough.

Nell: One dog is enough?

Me: Only at lunch today.

Nell: Words fail me.

Me: Sorry.

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We’re fine

Me: Why are you waiting outside the bedroom door with that look on your face?

Nell: You’re writing.

Me: You’re welcome to join me as long as you don’t get all barky with next door’s dogs.

Nell: Barky?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Are we talking about the farm dogs?

Me: Not only them. Any neighbouring dog seems to annoy you.

Nell: If you mean that I sometimes feel the need to raise my voice to remind other dogs of their boundaries then I agree, but I refuse to be silenced.

Me: They’re just innocently walking around their own gardens.

Nell: There’s nothing innocent about it. Ask Poppy. She had a dreadful altercation with an agitated boxer the other day. It was lurking by our fence.

Me: Poppy is even worse than you and as for the Puppies.

Nell: They are going to be 4 on Saturday.

Me: I know. How time flies.

Nell: It’s Sunny’s birthday today.

Me: Yes. I sent her a message. She played you so wonderfully in the audio book. She got your bossiness just right.

Nell: Bossiness? I just like to speak my mind.

Me: You certainly do.

Nell: So, when were you going to tell me about going down to the beach?

Me: I went for a quick swim with Charlotte and Scarlett.

Nell: How was the sea?

Me: Refreshing. Cold at first, but then lovely.

Nell: I remember.

Me: I can’t manage all you dogs on the beach at the moment. As soon as Kev is better we will take you down to the sea again.

Nell: Don’t worry about us. A walk around the orchard is fine.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It really is. We are all happy to look after Kev while you swim. We’re in this together you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Disgraceful Behaviour

Me: Why is Dave outside staring at the sky?

Nell: Something absolutely disgraceful has happened.

Me: He’s standing on his lounger.

Nell: Of course he’s standing on his lounger. He’s not going to let them do it again.

Me: Do what?

Nell: I can hardly bring myself to tell you.

Me: Oh my goodness. What’s happened?

Nell: Somebody has soiled David’s lounger.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And when I say ‘somebody’ I am referring to creatures of the feathered variety.

Me: Malcolm would never do such a thing.

Nell: Of course he wouldn’t. The mere suggestion.

Me: It wouldn’t have been an owl.

Nell: How dare you suggest a member of the Royal Owl Force would stoop so low?

Me: I wasn’t. I suppose it might be Walter Pigeon.

Nell: Walter is a possible suspect but I believe even he would draw the line at that.

Me: Yes, he much prefers playing Cowardy Custard.

Nell: Exactly. There is only one dastardly gang that would do such a thing. A gang with no morals. A gang full of rascals and hooligans and absolute reprobates.

Me: Are we talking about the Beefies here?

Nell: Of course we are. Wretched creatures. It has all the hallmarks of a Beefy attack.

Me: My poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He loves resting on his lounger.

Nell: Yes, he does and the Beefies know it.

Me: Fortunately it’s nothing that a bit of soap and water won’t fix.

Nell: You say that, but how can David feel safe on it again?

Me: He might have to start wearing a hat.

Nell: It’s a sad state of affairs when an animal can’t even lounge outside its own home.

Me: Yes. Truly fowl behaviour. See what I did there?

Nell: I shall ignore that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Poppy is 8 Today

Me: I’m not sure Poppy likes either of the birthday hats The Cat chose for her.

Nell: Can you blame her?

Me: They are a little over the top. Yours suits you.

Nell: I thought it might make Poppy smile.

Me: Did it?

Nell: Slightly. We had a quick game of Cheeky Animals.

Me: Did she win?

Nell: Yes.

Me: I thought Poppy’s Pageant this morning was amazing.

Nell: I enjoyed the Welsh Corgi Choir but we could have done without Gladys and the llamas doing an interpretive dance.

Me: Poppy loved the sword fighting. She raised a paw and waved.

Nell: Thank goodness they were made out of papier-mâché.

Me: Why were they attacking Beauregard?

Nell: Because he was the evil tiger.

Me: But he was smiling.

Nell: Real baddies often do.

Me: Why was Oliver wearing a crown?

Nell: Oliver was the young prince who tamed the evil tiger.

Me: That’s probably why Beauregard was smiling. He wasn’t evil any longer. He was tame.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Princess and Our Penguin were wearing crowns too.

Nell: Yes. They were the King and Queen.

Me: Princess does enjoy performing.

Nell: I know. The clapping gave it away.

Me: It’s a seal thing. Babycakes Gillespie’s Birthday Bagels were delicious and just the thing for a birthday breakfast.

Nell: Yes. John the Doberman provided the coffee from Starbarks as it’s Poppy’s favourite.

Me: Everyone is helping today.

Nell: Yes. We don’t want Poppy to be stuck in the kitchen. Malcolm is doing lunch and dinner will be a barbecue organised by David and Harriet.

Me: It all sounds wonderful. Will there be cake?

Nell: The Whippets Institute are popping over with one this afternoon.

Me: A perfect day of celebration then?

Nell: Poppy deserves nothing less.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Sunday Goofy Face

Me: It’s going to be another hot day.

Nell: I know. The puppies and I just got back from a gentle stroll around the orchard before Sunday Songs.

Me: Sweet Harriet has her goofy hot face. Bless her.

Nell: It is not a goofy face. You have taken the photo from an unflattering angle.

Me: I think she looks adorable.

Nell: Now, we have another week of birthdays coming up.

Me: Yes, we have.

Nell: Poppy’s tomorrow, your sister Charlotte’s on Thursday and the Puppies’ on Saturday.

Me: I can’t believe Poppy will be 8 and the Puppies will be 4. I used to be able to hold Dave in my arms.

Nell: A strange thought.

Me: Yes. When Scarlett took him out for me yesterday she said it was like walking a small pony.

Nell: It was very kind of Charlotte and Scarlett to come over and help with our walk. I needed no help, obviously, but David and Poppy can be a handful.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is just over enthusiastic but Poppy is wild.

Nell: Yes. I don’t think being 8 is going to change that. Poppy’s cooking roast chicken today, by the way, but not until the evening because of the heat and the football.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: England are playing at 2pm, so no distractions please. We will all gather in the living room at precisely 1:30.

Me: When you say ‘all’ you don’t actually mean ‘all’, do you?

Nell: I’m not expecting the Welsh corgi choir or the Whippets Institute to be there, if that’s what you mean, but I’m afraid that tiger will be joining us. He and Oliver are inseparable.

Me: I didn’t know tigers were interested in football.

Nell: England are playing.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

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But nobody else is playing

Me: What’s Dave doing?

Nell: Sitting in the yellow chair.

Me: He’s got one eye closed.

Nell: Yes, it’s perfectly obvious.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: He’s playing ‘I Spy’.

Me: For Sally? I didn’t know Dave was one of her spies. I thought it was just Harriet and Roley Moley. Although I’m not entirely convinced that Beauregard isn’t involved in some way.

Nell: What are you wittering on about?

Me: Dave being a spy.

Nell: David is playing the game ‘I Spy’. The puppies love it.

Me: Why is he closing his eye then?

Nell: ‘I spy with my little eye’. Do keep up.

Me: We never close one eye when we play it.

Nell: Then you’re not playing it properly.

Me: But nobody else is playing with him. My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He looked over at you and you were just sleeping.

Nell: I was pretending to be asleep.

Me: Why?

Nell: It gives me time to think of the answer. Honestly you really don’t know how to play, do you?

Me: But how is Dave to know you are playing?

Nell: David has to wait. He must Exercise Patience.

Me: That’s ever so boring.

Nell: No, it isn’t. You never know when the answer is coming and you never know where it is coming from.

Me: It will be coming from you, Nell. There’s nobody else in the room.

Nell: You’re here.

Me: Yes, but I’m not playing.

Nell: David doesn’t know that.

Me: I didn’t even hear what the something begins with, Nell. I don’t have a chance.

Nell: That’s your own fault.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: You need to listen more. ‘Bacon!’

Me: Why did you suddenly say that?

Nell: The answer is always bacon. David sees it everywhere.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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David gets in the way

Nell: The patient is doing well.

Me: I noticed you and Kev having a special moment together.

Nell: Which David ruined by arriving with a tea towel.

Me: He was just bringing you a gift.

Nell: He was supposed to be helping Manuel dry the dishes.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He can’t help being affectionate.

Nell; David has been told to Tone it Down and to Exercise Restraint.

Me: It’s not in his nature.

Nell: It’s not in that tiger’s nature either. Who wants to be woken up by a tiger playing the trumpet?

Me: It was a bit loud.

Nell: And who booked the Welsh Corgi Choir? It’s Friday not Sunday.

Me: I think they just wanted to show Kev they were thinking of him.

Nell: I am organising his convalescence and Kev needs rest.

Me: Yes, he does.

Nell: Which is why we’ve postponed The Growl on Sunday to the weekend after next.

Me: We’re very sorry that it has been delayed.

Nell: Everyone will understand. Having to wait will make it all the more enjoyable.

Me: I hope so.

Nell: So there is still time for people to sign up or contact us with any questions.

Me: Absolutely. I know Jamie and Kev love hearing from our readers.

Nell: Now, Poppy says Kev has requested spaghetti bolognese for his dinner.

Me: Yes, it’s what he felt like.

Nell: I’m afraid tigers are not allowed to eat in the house so Beauregard is going to have to take his dinner up to the tree house.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Did you see the amount of butter that animal managed to spread about the house?

Me: It was a lot.

Nell: Just imagine what he could do with spaghetti bolognese.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Kev has an operation

Nell: I can’t believe you didn’t tell us.

Me: We didn’t want you to worry.

Nell: Kev has to go into hospital for an operation and you don’t tell us.

Me: It was a minor operation and he didn’t have to stay overnight.

Nell: The first we knew was seeing Kev going out of the door with a case and you with a huge bag of everything.

Me: I knew I would have to wait there all day and they might have had to keep him in so I took what I could.

Nell: What about us?

Me: Tony and Sue and Charlotte and Scarlett were on standby in case it took longer.

Nell: I can’t begin to tell you the worry we have been through.

Me: It wasn’t a bag of laughs at the hospital either.

Nell; Leaving me with a house full of butter.

Me: Yes, that was unfortunate. I didn’t know it was going to happen.

Nell: I have to say Knitwear Wolf was amazing. So calm and dependable.

Me: I had to tell someone.

Nell: You mean Rupert knew?

Me: Yes. I knew he’d look after you.

Nell: I see. He certainly got the house sorted. When the Whippets Institute minibus turned up I was so relieved.

Me: The Whippets Institute?

Nell: Yes. With mops and buckets and several flannels to clean that tiger’s feet.

Me: Did Beauregard mind?

Nell: He loved it. Stretched out in the kitchen like a king surrounded by cleaning whippets. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

Me: I’m not sure everyone would. Anyway, the main thing is that the operation went well.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Kev will have to take it easy for the next few weeks.

Nell: That’s fine. We’ll get through this together. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.