Nell is Welcoming

Me: What have you been up to?

Nell: Why?

Me: Were you outside flirting with one of the cleaning team?

Nell: I was merely chatting to a very nice young man and making him feel welcome.

Me: I haven’t noticed you making anyone feel welcome before. You’re usually rather grumpy.

Nell: I don’t like to be disturbed. We were discussing Golden Retrievers, if you must know.

Me: Anyway, how was last night?

Nell: Kev slept downstairs on the sofa again, which was reassuring, although I’m not sure he got much sleep after Harriet joined him.

Me: Oh dear. Was there a lot of coughing?

Nell: Both puppies had a bad bout of coughing at 3:30am, especially Harriet. I think her coughing triggers David.

Me: Yes, he worries.

Nell: They are both in good spirits today so maybe we are through the worst of it.

Me: I shall keep dosing you all with Manuka honey.

Nell: Poppy won’t touch it.

Me: I know. She gives me a hard stare when I try and give it to her. How are you and Poppy?

Nell: We still have a slightly sore throat but we are fine otherwise.

Me: Maybe you have escaped getting it badly, Nell.

Nell: Now, the weather is getting colder and nights are drawing in.

Me: Yes. There’s a definite feeling of autumn in the air.

Nell: So Knitwear Wolf is organising soft blankets and scarves for everyone. You need to choose a colour.

Me: I noticed Myfanwy was wearing a particularly soft scarf when I saw her earlier.

Nell: Myfanwy?

Me: Yes, she was with Knitwear Wolf. I think he was taking her to dance rehearsals on his motorbike.

Nell: Myfanwy was on Rupert’s motorbike?

Me: No. In the sidecar.

Nell: You know what I mean.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Harriet is unwell now too

Me: How are you feeling, Nell?

Nell: A little tired. Harriet is most unwell.

Me: When she started coughing and being sick we knew she had kennel cough.

Nell: I have a slight cough and so does Poppy, but nothing major as yet.

Me: Oh dear. The vet said you might catch it.

Nell: It’s actually a good thing that Chris had to delay his visit.

Me: I suppose so.

Nell: Kev will definitely need to rest today. He slept downstairs with us all again and it was an extremely restless night. Someone was sick on his bed.

Me: Poor Kev. Should Harriet be outside?

Nell: A little fresh air won’t do her any harm and the sun is shining.

Me: She seems dreadfully down.

Nell: She’s missing the beach. Not being able to go on a walk is very difficult for an active animal like her to accept.

Me: I’m afraid rest is essential. Any kind of exercise or excitement can bring on a coughing fit.

Nell: Well, porridge could certainly never be seen as exciting. Even with Manuka honey.

Me: How is Dave coping?

Nell: David is still being sick but not bowed down by it. He’s a great source of comfort to Harriet even if his voice is a little croaky.

Me: He’s not trying to sing to her, is he?

Nell: No. He’s sharing comforting memories and telling her all about the happy times ahead.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: The happy times involve a great many bacon sandwiches.

Me: I thought they might. I do hope you and Poppy don’t get kennel cough.

Nell: It is what it is. We will get through this together. Let’s concentrate on David and Harriet for now and make sure Kev has some rest.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Confusion of Jims

Me: Poppy really cares about Dave, doesn’t she?

Nell: She was playing Cheeky Animals behind his back.

Me: But look at the last photo. She is giving him such a loving look.

Nell: Yes, I agree. The last photo shows her true feelings.

Me: How is Dave today?

Nell: He was sick three times in the night and twice again this morning.

Me: Poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Yes. Kennel cough is most unpleasant.

Me: Any news on the dancing?

Nell: Poppy says Stephen Seagull is being surprisingly good for a thoroughly bad bird.

Me: He’s a nasty piece of work, that one.

Nell: The sword helps. He’s lost a few feathers but that’s to be expected.

Me: What about the others?

Nell: My friend Dorothy says the Portuguese Podenco is a revelation.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: They are dancing the Samba, which isn’t the easiest thing for a Salcombe Setter to do, although the red hair helps.

Me: Yes, I can see that it would.

Nell: Apparently Paolo is extremely encouraging and Dorothy is giving it her all.

Me: Good for her. Did you know Jim Broadbent was filming in Kingsbridge yesterday?

Nell: Are we talking about an Old English Sheepdog here?

Me: No, the actor.

Nell: Jim the Old English Sheepdog is an actor. He was in ‘Lassie’ twice.

Me: Well, my Jim is a man. He is very famous. They’re filming ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ which is one of my favourite books.

Nell: We’ll have to go and see it. I don’t think you can say he is your Jim, by the way. It’s inappropriate and Kev won’t like it at all.

Me: I didn’t want to confuse him with Harriet’s Jim, or your Jim.

Nell: I don’t have a Jim.

Me: No. Sorry.


A Secret Softy

Me: Why are you glaring at me like that?

Nell: David and I were having a gentle discussion about the day ahead and you disturbed us.

Me: I was just checking on him.

Nell: He is doing well. He had porridge for breakfast with Manuka honey and managed to keep it down.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: And now he is having a thoughtful chew on his new toy.

Me: Good.

Nell: The trick is to keep him calm.

Me: He might not stay calm, Nell, as the chimney sweep is arriving soon.

Nell: That’s most inconvenient.

Me: It has to be done.

Nell: David will have to join you upstairs then. But don’t fuss over him.

Me: Why not? You are.

Nell: I’m his aunt and he is unwell.

Me: You’re a Secret Softy. Admit it.

Nell: I am nothing of the kind. I am merely doing my duty. My nephew needs me.

Me: He’s looking a lot better, Nell. His coat is shiny again. It must be all the cuddles.

Nell: David enjoys attention and he’s certainly getting enough of it. Although the llamas are a little too demonstrative for my liking.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Your other boy will be here soon.

Me: Not as soon as I thought.

Nell: Why? Isn’t Chris arriving on Friday?

Me: No. He had to change his flight to the 5th October because the government aren’t accepting visitors with mixed vaccinations until 4th October.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: So we won’t be seeing him until Wednesday week.

Nell: That’s not too much longer to wait.

Me: It isn’t and Dave should be completely well by then and able to go on walks.

Nell: Every bowl has a silver lining.

Me: Don’t you mean cloud?

Nell: No.

Me: Sorry.


A Quiet Sunday

Me: Are you wearing slippers?

Nell: Of course I am. Where are yours?

Me: Upstairs.

Nell: Well, put them on quickly. We need a quiet house. Have you finished your porridge?

Me: I’m not really in a porridge mood.

Nell: It’s made with honey.

Me: I was hoping for bacon as it’s Sunday.

Nell: Don’t mention that word.

Me: Why?

Nell: David is on soft food and we’re all supporting him. Were you even listening to the new guidelines at Morning Thoughts?

Me: No. I was thinking how wonderful it was of Kev to sleep downstairs with you all so I could get a good night’s sleep.

Nell: Kev might need to go back to bed this afternoon as we had a very disturbed night with David coughing.

Me: Was Dave awfully sick?

Nell: I’m afraid he was but he likes his new toy.

Me: My poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Now, although there is a no dancing rule around David at the moment, couples can still practise elsewhere.

Me: Is Sunday Songs still going ahead?

Nell: Yes. With quiet songs. The Welsh Corgi Choir are fully informed and the llamas are wearing ballet shoes.

Me: Is there any chance of a roast dinner later?

Nell: No. We are saving that for next weekend when Chris is here.

Me: What about afternoon tea?

Nell: I’m afraid scones are a little too crumbly for David’s sensitive throat.

Me: Jam and cream are soft.

Nell: You can’t have jam and cream without a scone. Don’t be silly. David will be having a banana split. Ice cream is cool and soothing and bananas are nutritious.

Me: I don’t think Dave likes bananas.

Nell: He won’t know they’re there. Poppy is turning it into a milkshake. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dave isn’t well

Nell: How is David? You’ve been gone for ages.

Me: I’m afraid it is kennel cough, Nell.

Nell: But we have all been vaccinated.

Me: Amy the Vet says it’s like Covid. You can still get it even if you have been vaccinated just not as badly.

Nell: How did he get it?

Me: Amy says kennel cough is everywhere at the moment. She is seeing so many dogs with it, even if they haven’t been in direct contact with other dogs.

Nell: That’s not good to hear. Well, you look completely exhausted.

Me: I am. Dave was retching all through the night. Every half hour. Poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy told me. She decided to come downstairs. She said he slept in your bed.

Me: Yes. The little sleep he had.

Nell: The little sleep you all had. I think a quiet day is called for.

Me: Yes. I agree. Especially for Dave. The thing is, Nell, Amy says Dave must be on complete rest for the next 5 days so I’m afraid there can be no dancing.

Nell: Of course not. Rhubarb hasn’t even arrived from Canada yet and the couples are just starting their training so that’s no problem.

Me: What a relief. I thought he might have to drop out of the competition altogether.

Nell: Drop out? Never. Strictly Come Prancing without David Martin is not an option.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell; Now, Manuel is going to make up a fresh bed for you and Poppy is bringing you a croissant to eat while you’re waiting.

Me: What about Dave?

Nell: David will be having scrambled eggs for breakfast with Manuka honey and water to drink.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Then it’s back to bed for the both of you. No arguments.

Me; Yes. Sorry.


Strange Mats

Me: Why are you looking at me like that? And what’s the matter with Dave?

Nell: There are strange mats in the living room.

Me: Yes, I know.

Nell: They are in the way.

Me: No, they aren’t.

Nell: We have to walk across them to get on and off our sofas.

Me: That’s the whole idea.

Nell: They weren’t there before.

Me: No, they are new.

Nell: David doesn’t trust them.

Me: Well, that’s really silly.

Nell: Mats are notoriously unreliable.

Me: Not these ones, Nell. They are actually there to stop you slipping on the floor.

Nell: Me?

Me: Yes. You slipped recently. Kev told me. So we talked to Chloe and she advised non slip mats in areas where you need to jump up.

Nell: Are you telling me these mats are here because of me?

Me: Yes. You are much stiffer on your legs now with your arthritis and Kev and I want to make you as safe and comfortable as we can.

Nell: The mats don’t really go with the red sofa.

Me: We don’t care, Nell. As long as you are protected.

Nell: That’s actually really sweet and thoughtful of you both. Thank you.

Me: It’s our pleasure.

Nell: Will you be taking the mats to the Strictly Come Prancing venue?

Me: I’m not sure that will be allowed, Nell.

Nell: Only the competition begins on Saturday and I have to sit on a chair.

Me: We will certainly talk to them about it.

Nell: I shall need a non slip mat outside my dressing room, too.

Me: Your dressing room is on the level. There’s no need to jump.

Nell: What if somebody bounces me? Jumps can happen when you least expect them.

Me: You can’t have non slip mats everywhere, Nell. Sorry.


Gaining Perspective

Me: There’s really nothing like walking on the beach with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Looking out to sea makes you realise you’re just a small part of something so much bigger.

Nell: I’m not a small part. I’m head judge.

Me: Sometimes you need to gain perspective.

Nell: No, I don’t. My perspective is fine, thank you.

Me: Look at Harriet dancing on the beach. She doesn’t care anymore that Jim the Farm Dog has been partnered with Juanita.

Nell: Why would she? She’s been partnered with Beauregard who is one of the favourites.

Me: I thought Gladys and Count Bingo Flamingo were the favourites, along with Rita Pawreno and Manuel.

Nell: An octopus and a chihuahua. Not an obvious combination, although they both speak Spanish and are excessively flamboyant. I know who have to be the rank outsiders.

Me: Who?

Nell: Alejandro and Malcolm.

Me: Why can’t a flamingo dance with an alpaca? Count Bingo Flamingo is dancing with a Pomeranian.

Nell: Gladys is an experienced Pomeranian and Count Bingo is an extrovert. Malcolm is a shy and polite flamingo who shuns the spotlight.

Me: But Alejandro adores performing. I think they could surprise us all.

Nell: Well, I’m going to be open and fair in all my decisions which is not something I’m expecting from the other judges.

Me: Anton Du Bark will be fair.

Nell: Yes, but Princess is going to like everyone and Lionel King definitely isn’t.

Me: I can see him marking Beauregard down.

Nell: And Stephen Seagull up.

Me: Poppy will like that.

Nell: Kev is going to have his hands full.

Me: Kev?

Nell: Yes. He’s presenting the show with Henry and Horst. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.


Soothe and Distract

Me: You’re looking awfully serious.

Nell: We are going to have to handle this very carefully.

Me: Handle what?

Nell: Tony’s fall.

Me: Our Tony? Tony the Postman?

Nell: Yes. Tony had a fall down at Bantham yesterday and will be off work all week.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He hasn’t broken anything but he’s a little bruised and battered.

Me: That’s dreadful.

Nell: It could have been worse.

Me: Did you hear about it from Dorothy?

Nell: No. Dorothy was practising in Paignton with the Portuguese Podenco. Toby told Marvin on our WoofsApp group.

Me: But Marvin is in Canada.

Nell: I know that but he is still part of the Young Animal group. Although, why Naughty Nigel is still on there is completely beyond me.

Me: Nigel has a young nature I suppose.

Nell: Anyway, David doesn’t know Tony has been injured so I am going to have to tell him.

Me: Good luck with that. Dave doesn’t even like going one day without seeing Tony.

Nell: I shall organise bacon sandwiches. They will Soothe and Distract.

Me: Only temporarily. Dave forgets he’s eaten one almost immediately.

Nell: Thank goodness he will be meeting his dance partner soon. It will keep him busy.

Me: Do you know who it is?

Nell: I do and I’m not sure Sally is going to be very happy about it.

Me: Who is it then?

Nell: It’s Rhubarb.

Me: The beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog from Toronto?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Marvin’s friend?

Nell: Yes. Now, I’m going to go and tell David about Tony.

Me: Rather you than me.

Nell: Bacon sandwiches might not be enough. Can you ask Poppy for scones, please.

Me: With jam and cream?

Nell: Obviously. News like this cannot be digested over a dry scone.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: Have you seen my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Yes, he’s outside on his lounger playing Cheeky Animals.

Me: Who is he playing with? I can’t see anyone.

Nell: Nobody. He’s just practising.

Me: But you can’t practise without someone else.

Nell: Of course you can. How on earth do you think Poppy became champion?

Me: Talking of Poppy? Have she and Harriet sorted out their differences?

Nell: Yes, the shock of Poppy’s dancing partner put all thoughts of Elliot out of their heads.

Me: That sounds worrying. Who is it?

Nell: Stephen Seagull.

Me: Stephen Seagull? The evil head of the Beefies?

Nell: Yes, that one.

Me: Oh my goodness. Poppy is going to have her paws full.

Nell: Personally I think it’s an excellent decision. She rarely dances without her sword.

Me: He’s a nasty piece of work.

Nell: Yes, it seems extraordinary to me that such a villain can have sweet Susan as his daughter.

Me: Humphrey Heron brought her up.

Nell: True. You know Susan is dancing too, don’t you?

Me: I had no idea. With Malcolm?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Malcolm’s not a professional dancer.

Me: No, I didn’t think so. Who is Susan’s professional partner then?

Nell: Babycakes Gillespie.

Me: That’s an interesting combination.

Nell: I thought so, too.

Me: Was that your iBone?

Nell: It’s just my friend Dorothy.

Me: The Salcombe Setter?

Nell: Yes. She’s been tinging me all morning.

Me: Maybe you should see what she has to say.

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Dorothy has been paired with Paolo the Portuguese Podenco.

Me: I didn’t know Dorothy was a dancer.

Nell: She isn’t. When will you realise that only one in each pair is a professional?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.