Goodbye 2021

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Look at what’s hiding in our loft.

Me: It’s a lion cub, Nell. How adorable.

Nell: Adorable? It roared at Henry and Horst.

Me: I expect it was frightened. Look at that little face.

Nell: David nearly fell off the ladder.

Me:Henry and Horst take awfully good photos.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: What are we going to do?

Nell: I’m about to call a family meeting. As if there isn’t enough to deal with.

Me: Has something else happened?

Nell: It’s New Year’s Eve. We’re saying goodbye to the old year today.

Me: I always find New Year’s Eve rather difficult, if I’m honest.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: There’s a forced gaiety about it as if you’ve got to have fun even if you don’t want to.

Nell: All I know is there will be doughnuts this afternoon from Babycakes Gillespie’s cart.

Me: That’s a German tradition.

Nell: Yes. I know it is.

Me: And loud partying all evening?

Nell: Actually not. We discussed it at Morning Thoughts and Pyjamas, Ping Pong and Pizza won the vote.

Me: Ping Pong? We haven’t got a table tennis table, or any bats.

Nell: The kitchen table will work perfectly well and we can use frying pans as bats.

Me: Does Poppy know?

Nell: Yes. It was her idea. She said a quiet New Year’s Eve is all well and good but there has to be some kind of action.

Me: Fair enough. We can’t leave that little lion cub in the loft though, Nell.

Nell: It doesn’t want to come down.

Me: Maybe I could have a word with it.

Nell: Let the family decide, please, and do not go climbing up there.

Me: Ok. Sorry.


Toby is In Trouble

Nell: Is that Toby?

Me: Yes. Tony shared a photo. Isn’t he a naughty pup? I expect he’s awfully sorry.

Nell: He doesn’t look sorry.

Me: Well, no he doesn’t, but he will be deep down.

Nell: I’m afraid that pup is growing up to be a little scallywag.

Me: Sue says he’s a Daddy’s boy. Like you.

Nell: Like me? I’m not a boy. I am a lady Labrador.

Me: You’re a proper Daddy’s girl, Nell. You adore Kev and he adores you.

Nell: Everyone is adored in our family. It’s the way we are.

Me: True.

Nell: Now, I have some interesting news about the lion in our loft.

Me: Do tell.

Nell: There have been several sightings of a tail and large paws and Harriet has reported a rather high pitched roar.

Me: Maybe Lionel’s injured himself.

Nell: Evidence suggests that this is not Lionel.

Me: Really?

Nell: Lionel has a deep roar.

Me: What can we do?

Nell: Henry and Horst have volunteered to enter the loft.

Me: No. The lion might eat them.

Nell: Lions aren’t interested in woodlice. If they were llamas, or antelopes I would be worried. On so many levels.

Me: What are Henry and Horst going to do?

Nell: They will be wearing surveillance equipment so we should get a good idea of who exactly is up there.

Me: They’re awfully brave, aren’t they?

Nell: Yes. They are indeed.

Me: How are they going to get up there though? They’ve only got little legs.

Nell: David will carry them on his head.

Me: You can’t let Dave go up there, Nell. The lion will think he’s an antelope.

Nell: Nobody could ever mistake David for an antelope. And rest assured he will merely quietly climb the ladder.

Me: Oh good. Sorry.


Looking and Listening

Me: Do you know why Harriet is hiding on the stairs?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Is it a game? Can I be included this time?

Nell: It is not a game and if we don’t include you it’s because you don’t enjoy it. You’re easily confused.

Me: I am not.

Nell: When we allow you to play Shenanigans you squeal if anyone comes near you.

Me: I don’t like being bounced.

Nell: When you play Cheeky Animals you stick your tongue out at every available opportunity and always get caught first time.

Me: It’s not that easy.

Nell: Or you accuse animals of being unnecessarily rude which is exactly the aim of the game.

Me: I prefer Scrabble.

Nell: Well, we will play later. Knitwear Wolf was only saying the other day that he would love a game.

Me: Is Harriet in a huff?

Nell: A huff?

Me: Yes. Has someone upset her?

Nell: Not yet.

Me: Well, why is she sitting there?

Nell: Harriet is Looking and Listening.

Me: Do you mean spying? Only it’s fairly obvious that it’s her. She isn’t wearing dark glasses, or a fake moustache.

Nell: How many times do I have to tell you that spies don’t do that.

Me: Dave does, and so does Gladys on occasions.

Nell: That’s why David and Gladys aren’t spies.

Me: So, why is Harriet spying?

Nell: I am going to tell you something and you must not overreact.

Me: Of course not.

Nell: We have reason to believe there is a lion in our loft.

Me: A lion! The Cat saw it in the orchard.

Nell: It has moved. Try and stay calm please.

Me: Lionel King is hiding in our loft and I’m supposed to be calm?

Nell: Nobody said it was Lionel King.

Me: Oh. Sorry.



Me: I love the way the puppies fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.

Nell: Together is life for them.

Me: Which is rather wonderful when you think about it.

Nell: Yes, it is.

Me: Harriet was so tiny when she was a puppy and my Big Brave Beautiful Boy was such a giant.

Nell: He still is, in case you haven’t noticed.

Me: Harriet was born first and sometimes she’s clearly the older sister.

Nell: Someone needs to keep him in check when he gets out of paw. You are completely useless.

Me: I can’t resist him, Nell. He’s so huggable.

Nell: I think we might have to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Fetch a paper and pen. There is no time like the present.

Me: Actually, I think Kev might need some help in his studio.

Nell: Absolute nonsense. He just told everyone that he needs a few hours peace and quiet to complete a voiceover.

Me: Really? Well, I’ll just pop over to The Cat’s then for a cup of tea. I’ve been meaning to for ages.

Nell: The Cat drinks coffee and never has visitors until after ten. Stop trying to avoid me.

Me: I don’t like making resolutions, Nell. I never keep them.

Nell: That’s because you aim too high. This year we are going to be realistic. David had done his.

Me: He has?

Nell: Yes. Next year David is not going to resolve to ‘Never Eat Any Meals Again By Mistake’.

Me: He’s not?

Nell: No. David is resolving ‘To Do My Best To Eat As Few Meals By Mistake As I Can’.

Me: I see.

Nell: You have to be sensible about these things and not set yourself up for failure before you start.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Waiting Nicely

Nell: David was given a biscuit.

Me: It was just one biscuit, Nell. Kev said he waited for it really nicely.

Nell: I waited for it really nicely too.

Me: You’ll get the next one, I expect.

Nell: There is only so much Waiting a Labrador can do.

Me: But you Labradors are excellent at Waiting. Poppy has no patience at all.

Nell: Poppy is far too busy to wait for anything.

Me: Waiting isn’t part of her vocabulary.

Nell: She shouted, ‘Chop chop’ at Malcolm during breakfast service this morning and he diced the bacon.

Me: Oh no. Could it still go in sandwiches?

Nell: No. He and Manuel had to make omelettes instead.

Me: I expect they were delicious.

Nell: They were when we finally got them.

Me: Omelettes take time to prepare, Nell.

Nell: Yes, there was an awful lot of Waiting involved and the queue went right out into the garden.

Me: Lucky you are so good at it then.

Nell: Just because one is good at something does not mean one enjoys it.

Me: True.

Nell: The larger animals’ tummies were rumbling so loudly I couldn’t hear the news on the radio.

Me: You need Bluetooth headphones like Kev.

Nell: I don’t want to listen to tummies rumbling through headphones, thank you very much. It was quite loud enough without them.

Me: Never mind. Why did you want to listen to the news?

Nell: The Cat was being interviewed about the lion in the orchard.

Me: Has it seen it again?

Nell: Yes. Sitting in a tree would you believe?

Me: Isn’t that more of a tiger thing to do? Maybe it was Beauregard? Was The Cat wearing glasses?

Nell: Certainly not. The Cat only needs glasses for reading. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Boxing Day

Nell: That’s Naughty Nigel in a Christmas hat.

Me: I know it is.

Nell: With Xav the Cat.

Me: Yes, isn’t Xav looking well after his terrible accident? You would never think he was at death’s door a few months ago.

Nell: While we are all obviously extremely pleased to hear about Xav’s recovery, he is clearly making derogatory comments about Nigel’s hat

Me: You don’t know that, Nell. He might be paying him a compliment.

Nell: Cats don’t do compliments.

Me: Some do.

Nell: Look at Nigel’s face.

Me: Labradors are awfully good at sad faces

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: It’s how you get your treats.

Nell: If a Labrador has a sad face then it will be for a very good reason.

Me: Yes. Greed.

Nell: Greed? How can you say that? We are simply being Supportive and Encouraging.

Me: Why do you have to look sad?

Nell: It’s not Sadness. It’s Concern.

Me: If you say so.

Nell: I’m concerned about the lack of leftovers.

Me: I thought Poppy made extra for bubble and squeak.

Nell: When we opened the refrigerator this morning there was nothing much left.

Me: How odd.

Nell: All I am going to say is David was in charge of Clearing Up.

Me: He’s done a very good job then. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Clearing Up does not mean Eating Up.

Me: Even Dave can’t have eaten everything.

Nell: He was part of a team.

Me: Oh dear. It wasn’t The Three Kings was it?

Nell: Beauregard might have been involved. Tigers can be awfully greedy, but you can’t think Rupert would stoop so low.

Me: Rupert is a wolf, Nell. Wolves have large appetites.

Nell: Rupert is a gentleman wolf. There’s a huge difference

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Merry Christmas to you all

Me: Merry Christmas, Nell.

Nell: I’m not sure how merry it is.

Me: We’re having rather an early start, aren’t we?

Nell: Yes, thanks to David.

Me: He didn’t know he would crash into the vegetable rack and wake everyone.

Nell: Who is frightened of vegetables?

Me: The rack is on wheels, Nell, and it spun around blocking his way and looking like it was about to attack him.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. He only had to push it to one side. There was absolutely no need to start shouting ‘Vegetables!’ like that.

Me: He was dreadfully scared. Poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Potatoes were going everywhere.

Nell: It’s a ridiculous start to Christmas Day. What’s wrong with ‘Merry Christmas’ for goodness sake?

Me: Don’t be so conventional. Maybe shouting ‘Vegetables’ should be the new Christmas greeting?

Nell: Enough. Did you clear it all up before Poppy saw it?

Me: Almost. Malcolm, Manuel and I missed a carrot.

Nell: What did Poppy say?

Me: Something along the lines of ‘Why are the parsnips in with the potatoes and what’s a carrot doing under the kitchen table?’

Nell: I hope you gave a good reason.

Me: I said Olive the other Reindeer must have dropped it when she was here with Santa and Rudolph.

Nell: Did Poppy believe you?

Me: She gave me one of her hard stares and said, ‘Well, I hope Rudolph isn’t staying for lunch because I haven’t catered for more than one reindeer.’

Nell: I hope she’s catered for Santa. He will be hungry after yesterday.

Me: Santa and Rudolph weren’t really here, Nell. I made it up.

Nell: Made it up? What are you talking about? Of course they were here. How do you think all those presents got under the tree?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Christmas Eve

Nell: Was that David again?

Me: Yes, he really shouldn’t have eaten all those Brussel sprouts.

Nell: Open the window, would you? This is more than I can bear. Why are you laughing?

Me: It’s your face, Nell. It’s priceless.

Nell: You didn’t have to share a room with him.

Me: True.

Nell: Now, I know Christmas Eve is the main day of celebration in lots of countries.

Me: Yes, in Germany they will be opening their presents this evening.

Nell: Which is why we will be opening a present this evening too.

Me: Yes, it’s our family tradition.

Nell: You are missing the children and grandchildren, aren’t you?

Me: I am.

Nell: Next year will be different.

Me: We keep saying that, Nell.

Nell: It will. Trust me. Now, where is your hat?

Me: Do I have to wear it today?

Nell: Yes, and tomorrow. Hats are essential at Christmas. You know that.

Me: Why are the llamas wearing wigs then?

Nell: They are in costume.

Me: As what?

Nell: Sheep, of course, and Gladys is their shepherd.

Me: But we’ve got real sheep everywhere.

Nell: I know but real sheep don’t dance.

Me: Harriet makes a lovely Mary with Jim the Farm Dog as Joseph.

Nell: And David, Rupert and Beauregard are excellent kings.

Me: I’m not sure about Poppy’s innkeeper carrying a sword.

Nell: She is a little fierce.

Me: I keep thinking about Mutley playing the Archangel that year.

Nell: Yes, and Charlie and Sally arriving and surprising us.

Me: Happy memories.

Nell: Our loved ones are always with us, you know.

Me: They are.

Nell: We carry them in our hearts.

Me: We do.

Nell: Happy Christmas, my dear.

Me: Happy Christmas, Nell.

Nell: You and me. Always. Now dry those tears.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nell wins at Cheeky Animals and David does some Tasting

Me: I know you were playing Cheeky Animals with me down on the beach.

Nell: Are you absolutely sure about that?

Me: I saw you, Nell. Sticking your tongue out at me when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Nell: I was simply enjoying a brief paddle.

Me: You were trying to catch me out.

Nell: The water was lovely and clear.

Me: It looked lovely and cold to me.

Nell: You don’t have paws so you can’t possibly understand the joy of it.

Me: Well, you didn’t win at Cheeky Animals.

Nell: I think you will find that I did.

Me: I caught you. Several times.

Nell: More than two?

Me: No.

Nell: Ha!

Me: Wait a minute. If I’d said three what would you have said?

Nell: The same thing.

Me: So you’re always going to say you beat me?

Nell: Yes, because I did.

Me: I give up.

Nell: Good idea. Now, Poppy wants to know what you feel about Brussel sprouts with your Christmas roast.

Me: I love them.

Nell: Boiled, steamed or sautéed in butter with a little bacon?

Me: I usually have them steamed but the bacon version sounds tasty.

Nell: That’s exactly what David said. He’s in the kitchen with Poppy right now doing a taste test.

Me: My Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is an awfully good taster.

Nell: It’s true that David has a discerning palate but he has a great deal of trouble Exercising Restraint.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Let’s just say if he is on a Tasting panel he is best Tasting last.

Me: Because of his discerning palate?

Nell: No. Because for David, Tasting means Finishing. Everything.

Me: Oh dear. I hope he hasn’t eaten a whole bowl of sprouts.

Nell: Don’t we all.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Seaweed and Positivity

Me: Seaweed is an odd thing, isn’t it?

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t.

Nell: Good grief. That’s not up to the seaweed. It’s the sea’s decision.

Me: It must be quite hard being a seaweed. You never know where you’ll land next.

Nell: If you are going to suggest that we take some seaweed home then the answer is no.

Me: Harriet would love it.

Nell: We have quite enough to deal with, thank you, without you filling the house with marine plants.

Me: Just saying.

Nell: Well, don’t.

Me: Are you still feeling sprightly after your injection? I was telling Chloe all about you on the phone yesterday.

Nell: Sprightly? I’m not an elderly whippet. Why were you talking to Chloe?

Me: We were arranging your next hydrotherapy.

Nell: Oh. Yes, I am feeling a lot better than I have done for quite some time.

Me: Well, that’s my Christmas present sorted.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: You feeling better and not in so much pain.

Nell: Yes, I understand. Nobody likes to see a loved one suffering.

Me: We love each other very much, don’t we?

Nell: We do.

Me: Maybe I could just put a little seaweed in Princess’s pool?

Nell: Stop. It’s not happening. There’s hardly any room in there anyway, since Arctic Bob came to stay.

Me: I thought he was more of a travelling walrus.

Nell: He is but he’s taken a shine to Princess. He enjoys her positivity, according to Our Penguin.

Me: Dave and the Llamas are positive animals too. That sounds like a band, doesn’t it?

Nell: Don’t go giving them ideas. Have you ever heard a llama sing?

Me: No, they usually dance.

Nell: There’s a reason for that.

Me: Oh. Sorry.