No Cowboy Hats at the Table

Me: Do you think that’s Lionel’s yacht anchored just off the island?

Nell: Possibly. He mentioned sailing it over here to Rupert at dinner last night.

Me: Talking of dinner, Nell. I thought Knitwear Wolf was absolutely magnificent.

Nell: I’m not sure magnificent is the right word but Rupert was certainly on form.

Me: He was wearing a simply beautiful conker brown cardigan.

Nell: As were most of you, including Sally. Don’t think I didn’t notice.

Me: Mine wasn’t conker brown.

Nell: You know what I mean.

Me: Did you also notice the way he said, ‘Shall I carve?’ to Poppy?

Nell: Rupert always carves the roast. He has done since we lost Charlie and Mutley.

Me: And the very particular way he said, ‘May I give you the first slice, Nellie?’

Nell: It was kind of him.

Me: And later ‘Could I possibly offer you another slice?’

Nell: You’re making it sound like it was only me. He offered everyone a slice. Even Lionel.

Me: But not in the same way. Not with a twinkle in his eye.

Nell: Nonsense. Rupert has excellent manners which I can’t say for everyone. Poppy was extremely rude to Lionel.

Me: Was she?

Nell: She could have asked him quietly to remove his hat instead of bellowing out ‘No cowboy hats at the table’.

Me: Most hats should be removed at the front door, to be fair.

Nell: David was wearing a top hat all evening.

Me: You know how much Sally loves him in a top hat.

Nell: You can’t have one rule for David and another for Lionel.

Me: I don’t see why not.

Nell: It must have been extremely hard for Lionel to sit hatless at a table full of cardigans.

Me: He’s not getting any sympathy from me. Sorry.


Sally is Back

Nell: Nice hair.

Me: Thank you.

Me: Did I see Sally arriving earlier in a red car?

Nell: Yes, she has decided to visit us for a few days.

Me: How lovely. Dave must be over the moon.

Nell: David is completely out of control. He ran twice around the garden and jumped into Princess’s pool. There was water everywhere.

Me: Bless him. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Then he ate two ham sandwiches and a packet of biscuits.

Me: Happiness can make you hungry.

Nell: They weren’t meant for him. Poppy was making a picnic for Harriet.

Me: Is she going somewhere?

Nell: I certainly hope so. It would be most odd if she wasn’t.

Me: Where’s she going?

Nell: Out with Jim the Farm Dog.

Me: On a secret mission?

Nell: No.

Me: But Sally is here and Harriet is one of her spies.

Nell: Good grief. Could you be a little more discreet, please?

Me: Do the walls have ears?

Nell: No, the walls do not have ears but someone might be listening.

Me: That’s what I meant.

Nell: Why didn’t you say it then?

Me: Never mind. When you said someone was coming to dinner were you talking about Sally?

Nell: No. I didn’t know she was coming.

Me: Who is then?

Nell: Terry and Marian.

Me: Our friends from Oxfordshire?

Nell: Yes.

Me: They’re not baddies.

Nell: Nobody said they were. Don’t say ‘baddies’. It’s so childish.

Me: Then why is Sally here?

Nell: I might have invited Lionel King.

Me: I don’t believe it.

Nell: This is the time for forgiveness.

Me: Knitwear Wolf isn’t going to agree with you.

Nell: Au contraire. Rupert will be joining us for dinner.

Me: He’s a bigger wolf than I am.

Nell: Obviously.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Pancakes and Glasses

Me: You and Dave were deep in conversation down on the beach. What was all that about?

Nell: Never you mind. Nosey barker.

Me: Harriet was hardly ever out of the water. I hope she isn’t too tired.

Nell: Harriet lives for the sea. You know that.

Me: I felt like you were all on your guard today, though.

Nell: Did you?

Me: Yes. Poppy was particularly alert.

Nell: She always is in large spaces.

Me: I’ve noticed she keeps close to Dave.

Nell: David is her bodyguard.

Me: Shouldn’t he keep close to her?

Nell: It works both ways.

Me: No, it doesn’t. You don’t see celebrities running after their bodyguards.

Nell: Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Me: I suppose so.

Nell: You didn’t see Manuel making the morning pancakes but you’re eating one now.

Me: That isn’t even vaguely the same thing.

Nell: And enjoying it.

Me: Of course I am. Manuel makes the best pancakes.

Nell: It’s all in the tentacles. His pizzas are excellent too.

Me: Some people like theirs with Nutella but I’m a lemon and sugar fan myself.

Nell: On a pizza? That’s disgusting.

Me: No, pancake. I’m not eating pizza for breakfast.

Nell: Some people do.

Me: Only when it’s leftover from the night before.

Nell: Don’t forget your hair appointment this afternoon.

Me: I won’t.

Nell: We need you to look your best.

Me: Why?

Nell: You never know who’s coming to dinner. Now, have you seen my reading glasses?

Me: No. Have you checked in your handbag?

Nell: Yes. No sign of them.

Me: Maybe Princess can lend you hers. She has a pair exactly the same.

Nell: She does not. Where is that wretched seal? She’s taken my glasses again.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.


After the Kerfuffle

Me: Are you and Poppy feeling a touch of the Monday blues?

Nell: No. We’re simply resting.

Me: I’m a bit worried about you both.

Nell: We’re just tired.

Me: You didn’t stay up late watching The Oscars, did you?

Nell: Certainly not. I leave that kind of thing to The Cat.

Me: It does love an awards show.

Nell: Yes, mainly so it can criticise the outfits.

Me: Apparently there was a bit of a kerfuffle last night.

Nell: If you are talking about the llamas, it is all sorted now.

Me: I wasn’t, but what happened?

Nell: Suspected pyjama theft.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: PC Panda was called in.

Me: Really?

Nell: Animals were questioned, including several sheep and a lion.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: It turns out the pyjamas were in the wash. Manuel put one on and forgot to tell anyone about it.

Me: Well, that’s an anti climax.

Nell: Yes, it was all most unnecessary.

Me: Was the lion wearing pyjamas?

Nell: Of course not. Lionel is not a llama.

Me: Just wondering why he was questioned.

Nell: I’m afraid it’s a case of blame it on the lion, as usual.

Me: If the cowboy hat fits.

Nell: People can change you know. Just because someone did something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they’re going to do it again.

Me: What about several things wrong?

Nell: I think we should learn to forgive.

Me: Does that mean you’re going to forgive Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog for commenting on your weight?

Nell: No. Calling someone ‘comfortably plump’ is unforgivable. Especially when you are twice their size.

Me: Maybe she meant it nicely. Maybe plump is attractive in mountain dog circles.

Nell: Maybe pugs can fly.

Me: Don’t you mean pigs?

Nell: No.

Me: Oh. Sorry.


Happy Mother’s Day

Me: Look at you smiling away like a spring chicken.

Nell: Spring chickens don’t smile.

Me: It’s a saying.

Nell: It is not.

Me: Never mind. You look so happy. Is there a particular reason?

Nell: It’s Mother’s Day here in the UK.

Me: Yes, it is. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there in whatever shape or form.

Nell: As the honorary mother of this establishment I have been showered with gifts and love.

Me: Quite right, too.

Nell: David insisted on cuddles.

Me: And Harriet?

Nell: She sang me a sweet song. It was rather early but still greatly appreciated.

Me: Bless her.

Nell: Poppy cooked my favourite breakfast.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: Soft boiled eggs and soldiers made with freshly baked bread and lashings of butter.

Me: No bacon?

Nell: On the side with a sausage.

Me: Not two?

Nell: David had the second one.

Me: By mistake?

Nell: No, I gave it to him as a deposit on our next counselling session.

Me: I’m glad you’re giving it another try.

Nell: Yes. Rupert said that sometimes just voicing your thoughts out loud can help enormously.

Me: I agree. Writing them down helps too.

Nell: I’ll leave the writing to you. Do you have any plans today?

Me: Not really. I’m FaceTiming with the family later.

Nell; Good.

Me: Apart from that I think I’ll have a lazy day.

Nell: Wise after yesterday evening’s shenanigans.

Me: Kev and I just went out to dinner with Terry and Marian. They’re visiting from Oxfordshire.

Nell: They’re my friends too.

Me: Nell, look in the field!

Nell: Stop changing the subject.

Me: The llamas are back with Gladys.

Nell: Of course they are. It’s Mother’s Day Sunday Songs. You didn’t think they’d miss that, did you?

Me: No. Sorry.


David has a Window

Nell: Well, that’s the limit.

Me: What’s the matter?

Nell: David suggested I might like to talk things through with him.

Me: That’s an excellent suggestion. Dave is a trained counsellor.

Nell: I’m not sure I would go that far.

Me: Was he in the garage?

Nell: No, he was in the yellow chair.

Me: I see.

Nell: He said he had an unexpected one hour window and could fit me in immediately.

Me: He has an awful lot of clients. One probably cancelled at the last minute.

Nell: They only come for the cuddles, you know.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. His cuddles are the best.

Nell: I don’t want a cuddle. I’m not the cuddling sort.

Me: He’s an awfully good listener too, Nell, and you only have to pay him in bacon sandwiches.

Nell: Being a good listener does not mean drifting off to sleep.

Me: Oh dear. What happened?

Nell: I was pouring my heart out when I noticed his eyes glazing over.

Me: Are you sure he wasn’t just concentrating really hard?

Nell: And the next minute they were closed.

Me: Maybe he was just resting his eyes. Kev does that a lot.

Nell: He was snoring.

Me: Kev does that too.

Nell: While you are talking to him?

Me: Not usually, but Dave leads a very busy life.

Nell: He does not.

Me: And we went for an exceptionally long walk on the beach.

Nell: Falling asleep during a counselling session is completely unacceptable.

Me: It’s not best paw forward.

Nell: I shan’t be going back.

Me: That’s a shame. Talking can really help.

Nell: The cheeky animal asked me to leave a bacon sandwich in his bowl.

Me: It’s the agreed fee.

Nell: I’m not paying him to sleep.

Me: No. Sorry.


It’s Much Bigger Than That

Me: Look at you having special cuddles with Kev.

Nell: He’s feeling much better.

Me: Yes, we’re all going to go down to the sea later for a walk on the beach.

Nell: Good. Harriet is in need of a swim.

Me: I know she is. The weather is so gorgeous I even thought about going in.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. It’s March.

Me: Some people swim all year round.

Nell: But you aren’t one of them. Paddle, if you must.

Me: You’re right. It’s probably a bit too cold. Lucky I’ve got my lovely cardigan.

Nell: I don’t believe it.

Me: We’ve all got cardigans, Nell. You know that.

Nell: No, look out of the window.

Me: It’s just a Beefy in a cowboy hat. Nothing to worry about.

Nell: Look properly. They are all wearing cowboy hats.

Me: So they are. Some kind of seagull cowboy convention, I suppose.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. I really do. Seagull cowboy convention?

Me: Stranger things have happened.

Nell: No, this means something.

Me: I’ve had a thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Do you think they’re wearing them because of the cardigans?

Nell: Nonsense. Seeing someone in a cardigan doesn’t make you want to put on a hat.

Me: It does if there’s a lion behind it.

Nell: A lion?

Me: With binoculars.

Nell: What?

Me: He’s back again. Watching us from the field.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: The Beefies were bound to support Lionel King. They can’t stand Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Why can’t you all just let me make my own decisions?

Me: It’s much bigger than that now.

Nell: Really?

Me: Cardigans against Hats.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Knitwear versus Millinery.

Nell: I give up.

Me: Wool over Felt.

Nell: I need a lie down.

Me: Sorry.



Me: Why are you giving me a hard stare?

Nell: You know why.

Me: I thought we had a lovely visit to the vets yesterday.

Nell: I wouldn’t call it lovely.

Me: Everybody knows you there, don’t they?

Nell: Of course they do.

Me: And they all call you ‘Noodle’.

Nell: I’m afraid that’s Kev’s fault. He usually takes me.

Me: Yes, they must have heard him call you that.

Nell: It wasn’t the same without him.

Me: He has a cold, Nell. It was nice to see Chloe on reception. She was able to update me.

Nell: Yes, I’m always glad to see her.

Me: She said you gave her a hard stare when she tried to extend your leg too far.

Nell: You would give someone a hard stare if they tried it with you.

Me: I would. Although my legs could do with a little lengthening.

Nell: Not like that.

Me: She also said you raised your lip when they cleaned your ears.

Nell: Enough of the updates. I prefer it when Kev takes me.

Me: Why?

Nell: Kev would never have subjected me to two public weigh ins.

Me: I thought I had to weigh you. I didn’t know Emily was going to weigh you too.

Nell: Or follow it with an injection?

Me: You have one every month. It helps your arthritis.

Nell: It does.

Me: Emily says you need to lose a few kilos.

Nell: I know. I was there. Remember?

Me: We have been eating a little too much cake recently.

Nell: Yes, but never without a very good reason.

Me: True.

Nell: We could have a small piece now with our tea?

Me: We mustn’t. I promised Emily.

Nell: Don’t even think of offering me that raw carrot instead.

Me: No. Sorry.


Happy Birthday Chris

Me: It’s Chris’s birthday today.

Nell: Yes, I know.

Me: Look at those two together.

Nell: Young Marvin has written him a poem.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘My dad Chris is 34 today

So, let’s all sing and shout ’Hurrah!’

Let’s have doughnuts with our morning coffee,

Or cake,

Or sausages,

Or sticky toffee.’

Me: Sticky toffee what? Pudding?

Nell: Sticky toffee anything. It’s Chris’s birthday.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: May I continue reading?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘Uncle Dave suggested bacon,

Auntie Harriet suggested egg,

Great Aunt Nell says I’m mistaken

And Dad might want some cuddles instead.’

Me: Maybe as well, not instead.

Nell: ‘When I asked my Great Aunt Poppy

What exactly she would choose to make.

She suggested a tasty roast dinner,

Or a lovely piece of steak.‘

Me: She has a point there.

Nell: ‘But I know treats aren’t everything.

Dad has shown me this is true.

And so has my dear Mummy Shannon,

And actually Granny, so have you.

It’s love that makes the world go round.

It’s love that makes the perfect day,

So let’s all say ‘Happy Birthday Chris’

And send some great big love his way.’

Me: What a sweet poem.

Nell: Yes. Excellent work for such a young animal.

Me: He’s obviously treading in your pawsteps.

Nell: Indeed.

Me: How can my little boy be 34? It seems like only yesterday he was building sandcastles on the beach.

Nell: He’ll be doing that again in a few months time when he visits us with the whole family.

Me: Yes, he will.

Nell: Shall we have cake with our tea? Poppy has made one in honour of Chris’s birthday.

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: No tears. This is a celebration.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Stop Meddling

Nell: Are you wearing a cardigan?

Me: Yes, the weather is a little chilly today.

Nell: No, it isn’t. That’s not the real reason, is it?

Me: Why do you ask?

Nell: Almost everyone is wearing a cardigan, including Henry and Horst.

Me: Are they?

Nell: Poppy is frying bacon in a cardigan.

Me: How odd?

Nell: David’s cardigan says ‘Wolves all the Way’ on the back.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He wears his heart on his knitwear.

Nell: I’m not surprised at the Whippets Institute, or the Welsh Corgi Choir, as cardigans are part of life to them.

Me: True.

Nell: But when The Cat appears at breakfast in a cardigan, I know something is up. It never eats breakfast and it certainly doesn’t wear cardigans. Ever.

Me: Was it sequinned?

Nell: That’s not the point. Even PC Panda is wearing a cardigan under his jacket so it’s clear there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Me: Well, actually it’s all about ‘meeting the eye’, to be honest.

Nell: You know what I mean. You have been Meddling.

Me: I just asked people to make a choice.

Nell: It isn’t their choice to make though, is it?

Me: I thought you might need pointing in the right direction.

Nell: Rupert isn’t going to like you interfering.

Me: He said he’s incredibly touched by all the support, if you must know.

Nell: And?

Me: He might have added ‘Nellie must be allowed to make up her own mind with no pressure from anyone else.’

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But I know he didn’t mean it.

Nell: I think you will find he did.

Me: Anyway, I have a lovely cardigan here for you, in case you’re feeling the cold.

Nell: Stop Meddling and listen to Rupert.

Me: Sorry.