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Why is Nell so happy?

Me: I’m not sure Dave has seen your upsidedownmaddogface before.

Nell: Of course he has. Many times.

Me: He looks a little worried, Nell. He’s even dropped his toy.

Nell: Silly animal.

Me: It’s not something you do that often.

Nell: I do.

Me: It’s definitely more of a Dave type thing.

Nell: David is excessively optimistic.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David’s world is a happy one.

Me: So, are you going to tell me why?

Nell: Why what?

Me: Why you’re so happy? Is it because today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year with the promise of light and hope ahead?

Nell: Here we go.

Me: The birth of the sun taking us into longer days and more light for everyone?

Nell: No.

Me: Oh, because I always like the idea that the days get longer from tomorrow. I feel like we’ve turned a corner.

Nell: Yes, you would. You and Dave have more in common than you think. Secret Eating for a start.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Don’t think for a moment that Poppy hasn’t noticed the Christmas cake you were tucking into yesterday.

Me: It’s home made from the farm shop and it’s Christmas, Nell.

Nell: It is still shop bought.

Me: Never mind that. I want to know why you’re feeling so happy so I can share in it.

Nell: It is because of my special injection.

Me: What special injection?

Nell: Kev and Chloe organised it when I went for my hydrotherapy. It helps with my arthritis pain and means I can come off my tablets.

Me: That’s wonderful.

Nell: Yes, I had a really good sleep.

Me: I need one of those.

Nell: You need to go downstairs and apologise to Poppy.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Photos and Christmas Cake

Me: Sometimes you give me a look as if you aren’t quite sure what I’m going to do next.

Nell: And why exactly do you find that so surprising?

Me: I was only innocently taking a photo of the island.

Nell: You were not. You were trying to take a photograph of me surreptitiously.

Me: Spontaneous photos are so much better than posed ones.

Nell: You do realise that people think we are tourists with all this photo taking, don’t you?

Me: I don’t think they do, Nell. Not with four dogs and all the clothes we are wearing.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Tourists are usually optimistically dressed. Do you know some were even swimming in bathing costumes?

Nell: Those were probably wild swimmers.

Me: They were a bit shocked at the temperature of the sea but I wouldn’t say they were wild.

Nell: I give up.

Me: Do you know I haven’t had a piece of Christmas cake this year?

Nell: How did we just go from wild swimming to cake?

Me: I was thinking how lovely it is after you’ve been out in the cold to go home to a cup of tea in front of the fire and a nice piece of Christmas cake and then I remembered that we don’t have any.

Nell: There is always cake in our house.

Me: But not Christmas cake.

Nell: Christmas cake is dangerous for dogs. Have lemon drizzle like the rest of us.

Me: I might see if I can get hold of a small one. I bet Barks and Spencer sell it.

Nell: You can’t bring a shop bought cake into our home. It’ll be scones next.

Me: I’d never do that, Nell.

Nell: I should think not. It’s an outrageous idea.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Wild Shenanigans

Nell: I thought this was supposed to be a day of rest.

Me: It is. Happy 4th Advent.

Nell: There’s some kind of wild fighting going on in the living room.

Me: It’s Poppy and Harriet. They’ve got the big cushion and the dog bed on the sofa and Poppy keeps leaping out and bouncing on Harriet.

Nell: Oh, I see. Well, that makes sense.

Me: Does it?

Nell: They’re playing Wild Shenanigans. It’s a little early and the wrong day, but fair enough.

Me: Is there a right day for Wild Shenanigans?

Nell: Yes, and Sunday isn’t it.

Me: No, probably not. You would think they would both be tired after your exciting rescue, wouldn’t you?

Nell: Poppy is rarely tired and I don’t know why you persist in calling it that. I was perfectly happy to enjoy my breakfast and wait for the sea tractor you know.

Me: We couldn’t let you wait, Nell. You were in danger from that dastardly duo.

Nell: Calm down. Dorothy and I are more than a match for them.

Me: I admire your confidence, but are you sure?

Nell: Yes, we absolutely destroyed them at Bridge.

Me: That’s just a card game.

Nell: I can’t believe you just said that. Bridge is so much more.

Me: If you say so. By the way, word on the street is that there will be no roast today.

Nell: But it’s Sunday and what street?

Me: It’s just a saying. Poppy says she is far too busy preparing for Christmas to be bogged down with parsnips and potatoes so she’s making a simple pasta dish.

Nell: Nobody eats pasta on a Sunday.

Me: Tell Poppy.

Nell: This is exactly why Sunday is not the right day for Wild Shenanigans. Standards simply slip.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A Dramatic Rescue

Nell: Talk about dramatic entrances.

Me: What happened?

Nell: There I was in the hotel enjoying my toast and marmalade when Dorothy said, ‘Is that Harriet?’ and handed me her binoculars.

Me: Dorothy has binoculars?

Nell: Never without them. Anyway, sure enough it was Harriet swimming through the sea scattering Beefies on her way.

Me: Darling Harriet is such a strong swimmer.

Nell: She came bounding through the seaweed straight into the hotel restaurant.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: We were towelling her dry when we saw the speed boat arrive with Knitwear Wolf at the helm.

Me: Very James Bond.

Nell: Charlie was my James Bond. Don’t forget that.

Me: No. But I bet he looked dashing.

Nell: He did rather, although shouting, ‘Nelly, I’m here!’ was a little unnecessary.

Me; What about my Big Brave Beautiful Boy? Wasn’t he on the boat?

Nell: Boats aren’t enough for Poppy and David.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Dorothy and I were just organising some more toast and tea for Harriet when we heard the sound of a helicopter.

Me: Was it one of those VIP guests arriving?

Nell: No, it was David being lowered onto the terrace.

Me: How exciting. Did you fly back with him?

Nell: Certainly not. As I said to Dorothy, ‘Nobody is going to winch me up into that thing, thank you very much. I’m making my own way home.’

Me: I hope Dave had some bacon before he left. It was awfully brave of him to jump out of a helicopter.

Nell: He didn’t jump, he was lowered. But yes, David enjoyed a number of bacon sandwiches and several boiled eggs.

Me: What about Poppy?

Nell: She flew home. There’s nowhere to land on the island and she had lunch to prepare.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Where are you?

Me: Where are you? Poppy and the Puppies have been sitting by the window for hours.

Nell: Dorothy and I are still waiting for the sea tractor. Lionel says the waves are too high at the moment for it to cross.

Me: Lionel King?

Nell: Yes. Dorothy conveniently forgot to tell me that he would be joining us for tea and, as it turned out, dinner.

Me: I don’t like this at all, Nell. Can’t you just swim over?

Nell: I’m a Labrador, not a seal, and what would I do with my handbag?

Me: Are Lionel and Lady Anwen with you?

Nell: Yes. They send their regards.

Me: I don’t want their regards. I want you to come home.

Nell: Stop fussing. It’s just a storm.

Me: Did the hotel provide you with a comfortable room last night?

Nell: Yes, Dorothy and I shared a twin with balcony. Not something I am eager to repeat, however.

Me: Why?

Nell: Dorothy snores. All setters do.

Me: So do Labradors.

Nell: I don’t snore. How dare you?

Me: Of course you do and it’s the sweetest thing.

Nell: Stuff and nonsense.

Me: Well, I’ve just spoken to Knitwear Wolf and he has had enough of waiting. He’s coming to get you right now.

Nell: I’m not going on Rupert’s paddle board.

Me: No, he says he will hire a boat if necessary. You are to stay exactly where you are until he arrives.

Nell: I’m in the restaurant having breakfast with Dorothy and the others.

Me: Oh, and Dave is coming with him.

Nell: I had best order some more bacon then.

Me: If I didn’t know better I would say you were rather enjoying all this.

Nell: I am simply making the best of an unexpected situation.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sandy Faced

Nell: Look at the state of Harriet. She’s ruined her new collar.

Me: She looks adorable all Sandy Faced.

Nell: You would say that.

Me: Beaches are for getting sandy, Nell.

Nell: You don’t have to share the back of the car with her.

Me: A happy car is a sandy car.

Nell: You’re just as bad. How many times have I told you to take your Wellington boots off outside?

Me: You’re a bit grumpy today.

Nell: Yes. I’m a little achy. My arthritis is playing up and I’m feeling rather old.

Me: We can’t have that. Let me go and find Knitwear Wolf. He always knows how to cheer you up.

Nell: Don’t bother Rupert on my account. I’m sure he’s extremely busy delivering soft, warm blankets to the poor and needy.

Me: No, he isn’t. He’s in the kitchen having a mug of tea and a bacon sandwich with Dave.

Nell: Typical.

Me: What about a bacon sandwich and a soft blanket on the sofa?

Nell: Lovely. Do you think Kev might light the fire?

Me: I’m sure he will. Would you like some tea while you’re waiting?

Nell: Yes, but in a pot please, not a mug, and Earl Grey, not builders.

Me: You’re obviously feeling better.

Nell: Could you pass me my iBone and reading glasses?

Me: Of course.

Nell: Well, that’s the limit.

Me: What?

Nell: A message from my friend Dorothy. ‘Can’t play Bridge this afternoon as I’m taking tea with Lady Anwen at the Burgh Island Hotel. Feel free to join us if you’re up to it.’

Me: Well, you’re not up to it.

Nell: I certainly am. If you think a little arthritis is going to stop me from enjoying afternoon tea then you’ve got another think coming.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Calendars and Lions

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy is in the yellow chair looking magnificent.

Nell: David is on the look out for lions.

Me: Don’t say The Cat saw another one in the orchard.

Nell: There’s only one, you know.

Me: There could easily be more around.

Nell: Stop. I have quite enough on my paws without a gathering of lions in my garden.

Me: It isn’t a gathering, actually, it’s a pride, and it’s not your garden. The orchard is communal land.

Nell: Not for lions it isn’t. Now, don’t be alarmed if you see Poppy in her suit of armour.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: She’s decided Lying Low is not for her, especially in the lead up to Christmas, and has gone on the attack.

Me: What about Gladys?

Nell; Gladys couldn’t lie low for longer than a day if she tried. She’s outside Gliding with the Llamas.

Me: I’m on their side. If The Queen doesn’t mind about the egg cups then why should anyone else?

Nell: True. So, what were you doing on your computer yesterday? It definitely wasn’t writing. I heard all the grumbling.

Me: Working on the calendar. Uploading it onto the World of Nell shop was ever so complicated but it’s finally on there.

Nell: Well, that’s a great relief on so many levels. You’ve become quite a calendar bore.

Me: I’ve dropped the price of the audiobook too.

Nell: Good. They will make excellent presents.

Me: There are some lovely photos of you in the calendar, Nell.

Nell: Most kind.

Me: And of Poppy and the Puppies and Kev.

Nell: I hope you included Mutley.

Me: I did. He’s in September. His birthday month.

Nell: Mutley is in every month and every day to me. As is Charlie.

Me: Yes, I know. Sorry.

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Sunglasses and Sea Tractors

Me: It was a bit stormy down on the beach, wasn’t it?

Nell: It’s December so to be expected.

Me: Did you notice the sea tractor crossing over to the hotel?

Nell: Yes, Kev pointed it out to me. He was surprised it was still running.

Me: It must be an exciting journey in this weather I should imagine, with all the waves crashing around you.

Nell: Talking of sea tractors, my friend Dorothy says a handsome lion in a suit and sunglasses was spotted on the sea tractor yesterday.

Me: Really? Who wears sunglasses in this weather?

Nell: That’s not the point. He was accompanied by a corgi wearing a flowered scarf and pearls.

Me: Real pearls, or the large fake ones?

Nell: It doesn’t matter.

Me: Yes, it does. You can’t stand the large fake ones.

Nell: It was a lion and a corgi.

Me: Yes, I know. You just told me.

Nell: It means Lionel King and Lady Anwen are still at the hotel.

Me: Oh, I see. Well, I don’t blame them. I expect the hotel is lovely at this time of year. I know the Cottage Hotel is.

Nell: We don’t want that pair of troublemakers anywhere near us.

Me: I thought they had promised to be good.

Nell: Fiddlesticks. Those two don’t know the meaning of good. Did you see who wrote that nasty article about Poppy and Gladys?

Me: The one in The Daily Growl?

Nell: Yes, I hope there aren’t any others.

Me: No, I didn’t. Was it a Beefy?

Nell: It was by LK and Lady A.

Me: Well, that’s a coincidence. They’ve got the same initials as Lionel and Lady Anwen.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes. I really do. It’s not a coincidence. It’s them.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.

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Lying Low

Me: Why are Poppy and the Puppies under the kitchen table?

Nell: Poppy has been advised to Lie Low so David and Harriet are Lying Low with her.

Me: Has Gladys been advised to Lie Low, too?

Nell: How did you know that?

Me: The Llamas were gliding alone in the field this morning.

Nell: Henry and Horst should have been with them. Were they wearing pyjamas?

Me: I couldn’t see Henry and Horst, Nell. They’re only woodlice.

Nell: I meant the Llamas and there’s nothing ‘only’ about Henry and Horst.

Me: The Llamas were in pyjamas and hats.

Nell: No raincoats, or ski suits?

Me: No.

Nell: Silly creatures. Now they will have to be towelled dry in The Barn and it’s full enough already.

Me: Why?

Nell: Gladys and Alejandro are in there with the larger animals.

Me: Lying Low?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Has it anything to do with the Beefies shouting ‘To the Tower with the Thieves!’?

Nell: Those horrible hooligans must have read The Daily Growl.

Me: What did it say?

Nell: ‘Fierce local chef Poppy Martin and flamboyant professional dancer Gladys Pomeranian in masked raid on Windsor Castle.’

Me: Masked raid?

Nell: They were dressed as Father Christmas.

Me: It was only a few egg cups and they apologised to The Queen in writing. Anyway, you said she was fine.

Nell: You know that and I know that, but the public don’t.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The question is who leaked the information to the press?

Me: It wasn’t me, Nell, or our followers, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Nell: No. It’s someone with a grudge against our family.

Me: The Daily Growl only mentioned Poppy and Gladys, didn’t they?

Nell: They are Family. Attack them and you attack us all.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Bulldozers and Thieves

Me: You love cuddles from Tony too, don’t you?

Nell: I enjoy having my ears stroked when I get the chance, which isn’t often when David is around.

Me: He adores Tony.

Nell: David bulldozers everyone out of the way. He has no restraint.

Me: They’re best friends, Nell.

Nell: I’ll tell you who are best friends. Poppy and Gladys.

Me: Thick as thieves, are they?

Nell: How did you know about that?

Me: Know about what?

Nell: Never mind. Go and listen to the Welsh corgi choir. They’re literally singing in the rain and need all the support we can give them.

Me: Stop changing the subject.

Nell: Or you can help Poppy with the vegetables. She’s cooking Sunday roast with cauliflower cheese for the vegetarians.

Me: I know you heard me.

Nell: I think Chris and Shannon might be FaceTiming us from Toronto later so keep an eye on your iBone. Marvin says it’s rather cold in Canada.

Me: Did Poppy and Gladys take something from Windsor Castle?

Nell; Let’s just say eating boiled eggs is going to be a rather grand affair in our house from now on.

Me: Did they steal The Queen’s eggs?

Nell: Not the eggs. The royal egg cups.

Me: That’s ever so naughty. The Queen will be furious.

Nell: She’s fine. I called her as soon as I spotted them in the kitchen.

Me: Are they made of gold?

Nell: No, but they do have the royal crest. The Cat was ecstatic when it saw them and even had an egg with its smoked salmon to celebrate.

Me: Well, I hope those two rascals have called The Queen and apologised.

Nell: They’re going to write letters this afternoon. Apologies to The Queen have to be made in writing.

Me: Of course. Sorry.