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Of Birds and Biscuits

Me: Oh Nell, is something troubling you?

Nell: I’m finding the lack of you and shortbread biscuits with my tea rather difficult.

Me: Would a scone help?

Nell: Poppy is far too busy rehearsing the quickstep to bake any scones. Stephen Seagull’s steps are slow and sluggish.

Me: Wretched bird.

Nell: Talking of birds, I’m extremely worried about Beauregard and Harriet.

Me: Is singing tonight too much for Beauregard?

Nell: No, he’s looking forward to it. Apparently a few rooks have offered to be his backing singers. I’m concerned about their lack of feathers.

Me: Rooks have lots of feathers.

Nell: Not the rooks. Harriet and Beauregard.

Me: Harriet’s a Chocolate Labrador, Nell, and Beauregard is a tiger. They have coats not feathers.

Nell: I know but they will need feathers to survive. The public vote is awfully feather biased.

Me: Maybe The Cat has some feather boas they can wear?

Nell: Feather boas won’t mud the custard.

Me: Don’t you mean cut the mustard?

Nell: No. I’m talking about muddy custard.

Me: What is muddy custard?

Nell: Haven’t you ever tried Poppy’s Mud Pie?

Me: I can’t say I have.

Nell: You should. It’s delicious.

Me: How do you make it?

Nell: With biscuits and gravy flavoured custard.

Me: Might give that a miss. Did you say biscuits?

Nell: I’m afraid they’re on my mind. The Beefies keep eating them in front of me.

Me: How rude and inconsiderate.

Nell: Yes, and shouting ‘Crunchy’ with your beak full is disgusting.

Me: Does that mean The Beefies still have voices?

Nell: Of course.

Me: Maybe the biscuits don’t affect birds? Ask Malcolm to be a guinea pig and eat one.

Nell: Malcolm is a flamingo not a guinea pig. I could ask Walter Pigeon. He eats anything.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Good for the soul

Me: Look at you flirting with Tony.

Nell: I was merely saying hello.

Me: Were you playing Cheeky Animals, or giving him a kiss?

Nell: I was simply greeting a friend. How’s your writing retreat going?

Me: Really well. I have a beautiful view of the sea from my room and I’m loving the company of other writers.

Nell: Good.

Me: Hope Cove is good for the soul.

Nell: So is the Cottage Hotel.

Me: Yes. Sarah and William have our book on sale here too, with a photo of us beside it.

Nell: How kind of them. I hope I am missed.

Me: You are. I noticed a rather dapper Dachshund showing great interest in your photo.

Nell: A dapper Dachshund?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I thought you said dogs weren’t allowed.

Me: Not in the restaurant, or lounge. And he’s only small, Nell, and not as noticeable as larger dogs.

Nell: I beg your pardon? Small dogs can be extremely noticeable. You should see Poppy this morning.

Me: Why?

Nell: She’s in a top hat and tails.

Me: Any particular reason?

Nell: Dress rehearsal later. She and Stephen are dancing the quickstep.

Me: I see.

Nell: Most unsuitable attire for frying bacon.

Me: Was she wearing an apron?

Nell: Yes, but that’s not the point.

Me: You’ll be pleased to hear I refused the cheese and biscuits.

Nell: Good. I wish the Welsh Corgi Choir were as sensible.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Myfanwy made a lemon posset.

Me: That’s fine. Possets are basically cream.

Nell: With a biscuit crumb on the top.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Now it’s looking like there’ll be no singing at Strictly this weekend.

Me: How awful.

Nell: Beauregard has offered to sing but there’s only so much a tiger can do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Where are you going?

Me: Why are you looking at me like that?

Nell: You know why.

Me: I haven’t eaten a biscuit if that’s what you think. Not even the savoury kind with cheese.

Nell: Savoury biscuits are still biscuits you know.

Me: Well, I haven’t eaten one.

Nell: This is not about biscuits.

Me: It isn’t?

Nell: Why are you packing your case?

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: You haven’t packed a case in nearly 2 years.

Me: It’s nothing to worry about.

Nell: Why was it hidden in the guest bedroom then?

Me: I didn’t want muddy paws on my clothes.

Nell: We all wipe our paws on the mat.

Me: You so don’t.

Nell: Stop dancing around the bowl and tell me where you’re going.

Me: I’m just off on a writing retreat for a few days.

Nell: I understand Timothy’s need to hide but who are you retreating from?

Me: The world in general.

Nell: Here we go. Where are you going?

Me: The Cottage Hotel.

Nell: My favourite place?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Without me?

Me: Without any of you.

Nell: To be on your own?

Me: Well, there’ll be a few other writers there.

Nell: I knew it.

Me: It’s good for me to be with other writers.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: It’s only for a few days and we can keep in touch.

Nell: I shall expect regular updates.

Me: So will I. I need to know what’s going on.

Nell: You might want to steer clear of scones by the way.

Me: Don’t say that.

Nell: Maybe just the one.

Me: I’d take you with me if I could.

Nell: Don’t be silly. I have far too much to do here. I’ll be with you in spirit. You and Me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Dave and Poppy Investigate

Me: What are Poppy and Dave doing in the activity field and why is Poppy dancing?

Nell: There have been rumours of secret meetings and new evidence has come to light.

Me: How exciting. Is it to do with the Christmas Market Committee?

Nell: Why would you mention the committee?

Me: You said there had been some friction amongst committee members recently.

Nell: I didn’t say that. My friend Dorothy did. Some of the committee aren’t happy about the Whippets Institute running the cake stall.

Me: Why?

Nell: All biscuits have been removed.

Me: So was Harriet successful?

Nell: Actually it wasn’t Harriet. Rupert had a quiet word with them.

Me: Good for him. He’s such a persuasive wolf.

Nell: Yes. As soon as they heard about the dangers they agreed to remove them.

Me: What a relief.

Nell: Unfortunately it is only one stall. Other members of the committee see it as denying them Freedom to Taste.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy didn’t help by threatening them with her sword. Rooks don’t take kindly to threats.

Me: Rooks? I didn’t know there were rooks on the committee.

Nell: Everyone is represented. Henry and Horst are on there too and Oliver.

Me: Oliver? Is there a large opossum community in Kingsbridge?

Nell: There might be. Anyway, Olive the Other Reindeer has given him her vote. She’s far too busy at this time of year.

Me: I hope Timothy is represented too.

Nell: Owl Pacino has his vote. Anyway, how did we get on to this?

Me: Poppy and Dave are sniffing out secret meetings.

Nell: Oh yes. I suppose you could be right. Either way we suspect biscuits are involved. Crumbs were found in the grass.

Me: Crunchy crumbs?

Nell: It’s been raining. You can’t expect crunch.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Dangerous Dunking

Me: Nell, have you got a moment?

Nell: I’m sunning my fur.

Me: You can still talk to me.

Nell: If it’s about Timothy leaving, then talk to PC Panda.

Me: Where has Timothy gone?

Nell: Nobody knows. He’s been given a new identity.

Me: Because of the biscuits? Is he in the witness programme?

Nell: No. It’s Thanksgiving on 25th November and then Christmas. This is a dangerous time to be a turkey.

Me: What about the investigations?

Nell: PC Panda has all the information. The only thing you need to know is you must keep well away from biscuits.

Me: Only crunchy ones. A crumbly shortbread is surely acceptable. Especially if Poppy makes it.

Nell: No shortbread.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: What do you mean by ‘Oh dear’?

Me: I’m not sure anyone told the llamas.

Nell: What?

Me: Or the Welsh corgi choir.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I saw them rehearsing carols in the field.

Nell: And?

Me: And I could be wrong about this but I do believe there might have been some dunking.

Nell: Dunking?

Me: Yes, of crumbly shortbread in their mugs of tea.

Nell: Why didn’t you stop them?

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: And who gave them the shortbread?

Me: I presumed it was Poppy. She always gives them shortbread with their morning tea.

Nell: Poppy has gone sky diving with John the Doberman. She isn’t even here.

Me: Hang on a minute. Did you just say sky diving?

Nell: Yes.

Me: With a Doberman?

Nell: Not any Doberman. Her fiancé John.

Me: I never imagined John as a sky diver. It’s not something you think of such a large dog doing.

Nell: John isn’t sky diving.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: He’s flying the plane.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Nell is Suspicious

Nell: Yes? Can we help you?

Me: Sorry to disturb your meeting with Poppy but you should see how sweet the puppies are looking.

Nell: Seriously?

Me: Yes, they are under the kitchen table sharing a bed and doing that nose to nose thing.

Nell: Well, that’s lovely but I have a crisis on my paws and Poppy and I are in the middle of an important discussion.

Me: If you’re worried about Manuel being eliminated in the dance off yesterday you shouldn’t be. As soon as he realised he was up against Harriet and Beauregard he knew he would lose.

Nell: The question is why were they in the bottom two in the first place? That tiger can tango.

Me: He certainly can and Harriet was amazing too.

Nell: Exactly. I’m beginning to think someone is tampering with the public vote.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Haven’t you noticed only birds are going straight through?

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Poppy and Stephen Seagull. A nasty bird.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Gladys and Count Bingo Flamingo.

Me: They are excellent dancers.

Nell: Alejandro and Malcolm.

Me: A kind flamingo and don’t forget the somersaults.

Nell: Harriet and Beauregard are the only birdless couple left.

Me: True. What does Anton say about it?

Nell: Not a lot. He’s lost his voice.

Me: Oh no. Did he eat a crunchy biscuit?

Nell: Not intentionally.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: He was over at the Burgh Island hotel and had cheesecake for dessert.

Me: Personally, I love a good cheesecake but they are creamy.

Nell: It had a crunchy biscuit bottom.

Me: Oh no! Clever but dastardly.

Nell: My thoughts exactly.

Me: At least it wasn’t a soggy bottom. Nobody wants one of those.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Remembering

Nell: Today is a day of Remembering those we have lost, especially those who lost their lives for others.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We are remembering a brave soldier too. Our beloved Mutley.

Me: The Great Mutliano.

Nell: Life wasn’t always easy for him.

Me: No.

Nell: But he remained brave to the end.

Me: He did.

Nell: Now, the Welsh corgi choir will be joining us for tea and No Biscuits after Sunday Songs.

Me: You don’t need to emphasise the No Biscuits. I am aware.

Nell: Are you though?

Me: I gave my half eaten Biscotti to Timothy and I haven’t eaten another biscuit since. Not even the ginger nut that Kind Magpie offered me this morning.

Nell: What Kind Magpie ?

Me: I was talking to Robin when it appeared with a ginger nut biscuit in its beak.

Nell: Why am I only hearing about this now?

Me: It was nothing special.

Nell: Any suspicious activity must be reported.

Me: It was just a ginger nut and I refused it, even though they are lovely with a cup of tea.

Nell: Honestly I despair of you sometimes.

Me: Talking of despair Manuel doesn’t seem too happy after yesterday’s dance performance.

Nell: I’m afraid twisted tentacles have put him at grave risk of elimination.

Me: What about Poppy and Stephen Seagull’s Samba?

Nell: Poppy’s sleeves were ridiculously large.

Me: She has to put her sword somewhere, Nell.

Nell: And that seagull lacks rhythm.

Me: Malcolm and Alejandro were amazing. All those somersaults on the back of an alpaca?

Nell: I think most of them were unintentional.

Me: Mutley would have loved it all.

Nell: He lives on in our memories you know.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Gone but never forgotten.

Me: No.

Nell: And always watching over us.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Be very wary of birds

Me: Dave is giving me one of your faces.

Nell: What does that mean?

Me: A disapproving look.

Nell: What have you been doing?

Me: Nothing.

Nell: Talking of looks. You have a guilty look about you.

Me: I haven’t touched any biscuits.

Nell: I know that. There are no biscuits in the house. Did you forget to whisper? You know you have to protect your voice.

Me: No. I remembered because Robin had to fly out of the bush onto the bird feeder to hear me.

Nell: Have you been talking to Robin again?

Me: Of course I have. Robin is my friend and we always chat every morning. You know that.

Nell: You have been asked not to chat to strangers while investigations are still undergoing.

Me: Robin isn’t a stranger and he’s got nothing to do with it all. Don’t be so mean.

Nell: I’m not saying he has and I’m not saying he hasn’t. We just don’t know.

Me: He says the Beefies are still pleading innocence.

Nell: A Beefy wouldn’t know innocence if it tapped it on the beak.

Me: Maybe.

Nell: Beefies are strangers to the truth. Everyone knows that.

Me: Robin says we should listen to what they have to say.

Nell: Robin says way too much for my liking.

Me: Are you jealous?

Nell: Of a robin?

Me: Of my friendship with a robin.

Nell: You can be friends with whomever you like but you should be very wary of birds.

Me: So I can’t talk to Malcolm, or Susan, or Timothy?

Nell: They’re family. Just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.

Me: You are jealous.

Nell: I’m far too busy for this nonsense. In case you’ve forgotten there is a dancing competition this evening and I’m Head Judge.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A Spooky Sky

Me: I don’t think Dave appreciates how scary the sky was last night.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: He fell asleep while I was telling him about it.

Nell: David was up early helping Knitwear Wolf deliver the papers. Is there something wrong with your voice?

Me: Why?

Nell: You’re whispering.

Me: You have to whisper when you tell a scary story. And the sky was really scary last night. Ask Poppy. She was there.

Nell: Poppy was asleep in front of the fire.

Me: I know but she was still around.

Nell: Did you nibble on a Spekulatius at the hairdresser’s yesterday?

Me: No. Why would you say such a thing?

Nell: Your voice is definitely croaky.

Me: I’m just a bit tired, Nell. I didn’t sleep well. It was that sky. It spooked me.

Nell: Do stop. You’re letting your imagination run away with you again.

Me: I have an odd feeling something is going to happen.

Nell: Are you sure you didn’t nibble on a biscuit?

Me: I had a bite of a biscuit, Nell. But it wasn’t a Spekulatius.

Nell: What was it?

Me: A Biscotti.

Nell: I told you not to do that. Was it crunchy?

Me: Yes. Very. Just right with my cup of coffee.

Nell: You fool. The danger is in the crunch.

Me: Nobody told me.

Nell; Did you eat it all?

Me: No, I’ve got the rest in my handbag. I was going to have it later.

Nell: We need to take it to Timothy right now.

Me: I can’t lose my voice, Nell. What about our Conversations?

Nell: You should have thought of that before.

Me: I knew something terrible was going to happen.

Nell: Hurry up. Maybe there’s something Timothy can do about it.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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No Biscuits Please

Me: There were an awful lot of Beefies gathering around the island, weren’t there?

Nell: Is that why you made a video?

Me: Yes, I thought it might be useful as evidence.

Nell: Evidence of what exactly?

Me: Increased Beefy activity in the vicinity of the island.

Nell: Stop playing detective, Sherlock Martin.

Me: But why were there so many?

Nell: They seemed to want to keep people away from the island.

Me: I bet that’s where the dangerous Spekulatius biscuits are being made.

Nell: Maybe.

Me: Somewhere on that island a mad professor is busy mixing potions to steal the voices of innocent animals.

Nell: A mad professor?

Me: I can see it all, Nell.

Nell: Well, don’t. Where were you and Kev yesterday, by the way?

Me: In Plymouth getting our booster vaccinations.

Nell: Excellent. You were gone a long time.

Me: There were lots of people which meant a long wait but was also a good thing if you know what I mean.

Nell: I do and I’m glad. We need you to be safe.

Me: I’ve had a thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I’m going to the hairdressers this afternoon and she usually gives me a small Spekulatius with my tea.

Nell: Well, don’t eat it.

Me: It would be rude not to, Nell, and I do love a crunchy biscuit.

Nell: A moment ago you were talking about mad professors making dangerous biscuits and now you want to eat one.

Me: There are never any Beefies at the hairdressers, Nell.

Nell: We can’t even be sure that the Beefies are behind this.

Me: Really?

Nell: Stephen Seagull swears blind to Poppy that they are actually trying to protect everyone and someone is setting them up.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: So no biscuits.

Me: No. Sorry.