Is it time for Dave to Pop the Question?

Me: Dave’s face when Sally appeared in Knitwear Wolf’s sidecar. It was priceless.

Nell: He knocked over several corgis in his dash to get to her.

Me: They didn’t mind, Nell.

Nell: No. Corgis are incredibly resilient. They just kept on singing with their little legs in the air.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: I wouldn’t have been so forgiving.

Me: I don’t know how Sally does it but she manages to look like a film star all the time.

Nell: Yes, she does.

Me: She reminds me of Grace Kelly.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: A classic blonde beauty.

Nell: She and David make a most attractive couple.

Me: I was wondering if Dave might pop the question now that he’s 5.

Nell: What question?

Me: You know the one. Will you share my bowl?

Nell: Nobody wants to share David’s bowl. There’s never anything in it long enough to get a share of anything. Poppy has tried.

Me: You know what I mean. Poppy is engaged to John the Doberman. Harriet is as good as engaged to Jim the Farm Dog. You were married to Charlie.

Nell: Harriet is not officially engaged to Jim and Poppy’s engagement to John is rather on and off.

Me: Nevertheless. I think it might be on the cards.

Nell: Just don’t start hinting, please. You’re dreadfully obvious when you do that.

Me: No, I’m not.

Nell: All that winking and secret smiling.

Me: I don’t wink.

Nell: You do it every time Rupert and I are together.

Me: Not on purpose.

Nell: I think giving someone a thumbs up could be seen as intentional, don’t you?

Me: I love a good romance.

Nell: I know you do but you must let others decide for themselves when the time is right.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dave and Harriet are 5 Today

Me: Where are the puppies?

Nell: Upstairs by the window watching the rain.

Me: They can’t do that on their birthday. It’s miserable.

Nell: They can. I told them to.

Me: Why?

Nell: They’ve had a large breakfast, or in David’s case two, and they need to rest.

Me: Where’s Sally?

Nell: Rupert has gone to collect her from the station.

Me: I can’t believe the puppies are 5 today. It seems like yesterday that they were little.

Nell: David has never been little.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Sunday Songs are about to begin.

Me: Good.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir are singing a selection of David and Harriet’s favourite songs ending with Happy Birthday when Sally arrives on the back of Rupert’s motorbike.

Me: How do they know when that will be?

Nell: They don’t, they’re just going to keep singing until the bike comes down the lane.

Me: But they won’t hear it.

Nell: Gladys and the llamas are listening out. At the first sound they’ll perform an interpretive dance indicating Sally’s imminent arrival.

Me: I can’t wait to see that. Won’t Harriet feel a bit left out?

Nell: No. Jim the Farm Dog will be singing ‘Unforgettable’ earlier in proceedings.

Me: So Dave will be happy for Harriet but sad for himself thinking that his true love is far away when we all know she isn’t.

Nell: Exactly. Now, please don’t give anything away.

Me: I won’t.

Nell: Just smile quietly.

Me: Are we still having Poppy’s Sunday Roast?

Nell: Of course. With all the trimmings and extra Yorkshire puddings and gravy so David can’t possibly make a mistake.

Me: I think you’ll find he can.

Nell: Then he does. It’s the puppies’ birthday today and they can do no wrong.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nobody is Jumping Out of Anything

Me: Birds are amazing little things, aren’t they?

Nell: Are they?

Me: Yes, it was so hot yesterday that nobody could do much at all but they all carried on.

Nell: They certainly did. The noise.

Me: They were having fun enjoying the sunshine.

Nell: David lay outside briefly.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: I called him inside as we dogs can overheat very quickly.

Me: That’s true. You need to make sure you keep cool and drink plenty of water.

Nell: We do. I’m not sure why you found the birds so impressive.

Me: I was amazed at how busy they were. Chirping and splashing in the bird bath. Robin was in fine form. He followed me everywhere.

Nell: You know there’s more than one of him.

Me: Yes, but it was definitely Rob. We were chatting. He’s an excellent listener.

Nell: Good for him.

Me: And I managed to take a photo of a little bird with a feather in its mouth flying up to the roof.

Nell: You’re not this excited when David takes a tea towel.

Me: Of course I’m not. That’s stealing. He knows he’s not allowed and he still does it.

Nell: That bird stole a feather.

Me: It was a white feather.

Nell: Ah, well that is different. White feathers are messages from loved ones.

Me: Yes, they are.

Nell: I can see that might have more significance than a tea towel. Now, you know it’s the puppies’ birthday tomorrow?

Me: Yes. They will be 5.

Nell: Sally is going to surprise David.

Me: She’s not jumping out of a cake, is she? Only I’m not sure he should be startled in this heat.

Nell: It’s just a surprise visit. Nobody is jumping out of anything, I hope.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Charlotte is 60 Today

Me: I can’t believe my younger sister Charlotte is 60.

Nell: Have you seen the photos of the two boys and that wretched cat?

Me: Yes. Nigel is distracted in the last photo and Boo looks absolutely terrified.

Nell: Anybody would be terrified with that animal around.

Me: That animal is called Xav. At least Nigel looks angelic in the first one.

Nell: And they say the camera never lies.

Me: I like the photo of Charlotte laughing with you.

Nell: We always have fun. Now, Naughty Nigel has written a poem for Charlotte. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Knock me down with a feather

And call me Trixie.

Someone said Charlotte

Has just turned sixty.’

Me: Trixie?

Nell: Sixty isn’t an easy rhyme. Give Naughty Nigel a chance. You can’t all be poets like me.

Me: True.

Nell: ‘Me and Boo and that wretched cat

Have organised cake

And a party hat.’

Me: Just the one?

Nell: It’s got 60 on it.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: ‘There are cuddles from Scarlett

And treats from Kerry.

A trip to the beach

And a ride on a ferry.’

Me: What ferry?

Nell: How should I know?

Me: I hope they aren’t going to France.

Nell: Charlotte can go where she likes. It’s her birthday and she can do no wrong.

Me: But she’s coming here next weekend to celebrate with our little sister Alex.

Nell: It’s probably the Dartmouth ferry. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell; So, let’s join together for one big hurrah.

Happy Birthday dear Charlotte

You’re 60 today.

That’s ever so old, but never you fear

You’ll always be younger than Sara, poor dear.’

Me: Well done Nigel, I think.

Nell: Everyone needs an older sister, especially when they’re 60.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Staring at a View isn’t Everyone’s Cup of Tea

Me: Dave really tried to stare at the view for longer this time.

Nell: Yes. For about thirty seconds.

Me: He stared at it with his whole self though.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: He had seriously focussed legs, Nell.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: A proper Big Boy stance. A Big Brave Beautiful Boy stance, to be exact.

Nell: David tried but he’s easily bored.

Me: Staring at a view isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Nell: Talking of tea, I think we should take a picnic the next time we go to the beach.

Me: Kev and I were saying the same thing.

Nell: Nothing too fancy. A few sandwiches, crusts off. Ham, cheese and tomato and egg.

Me: And cress.

Nell: Nobody wants a cress sandwich.

Me: I meant egg and cress.

Nell: I don’t like salad in a sandwich. It makes them soggy.

Me: You said cheese and tomato.

Nell: Tomatoes are different. Everyone enjoys a good tomato, preferably home grown.

Me: I’d like a tomato sandwich.

Nell: Well, have one then.

Me: We’ll need cake.

Nell: Yes. Sensible cake like lemon drizzle.

Me: Or cup cakes?

Nell: I think not.

Me: Or the odd scone?

Nell: Scones are not suitable for beach picnics. Sand and cream don’t mix and jam is too sticky.

Me: What about crisps?

Nell: One should never say no to a crisp.

Me: Did you know crisps are called chips in most countries?

Nell: We’re not having chips.

Me: And chips are fries, or French fries.

Nell: We’re still not getting any.

Me: Just saying.

Nell: We’ll need flasks of tea.

Me: Not Earl Grey. It has to be Builder’s.

Nell: I don’t drink Builder’s tea. Never have done. Never will. I shall take my own flask.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Keep the Noise Down, Please

Me: Look at you all squished in the cushions.

Nell: Could you keep the noise down, please?

Me: One cocktail too many last night?

Nell: Mind your own business.

Me: I saw you kicking up your heels with Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Rupert and I were dancing a slow waltz as befits our age.

Me: It looked more like an Argentine Tango to me.

Nell: Nonsense. I leave that kind of thing to Gladys and the Llamas.

Me: Poppy and John the Doberman were on fire.

Nell: I told her to stop poking the barbecue with her sword but she wouldn’t listen.

Me: Dave was on fine form. I never knew he could sing in Spanish.

Nell: David has been speaking Spanish for years. He and Alejandro are best friends. Do keep up.

Me: It can’t be years, Nell. Dave’s only 4.

Nell: He and Harriet will be 5 on 19th June. Which is this Sunday, by the way.

Me: Really? I keep thinking the puppies have their birthday in July.

Nell: I know you do. This is a busy birthday month. Your sister will be 60 on Friday.

Me: Yes. How did that happen? It seems only yesterday when she was my naughty little sister.

Nell: She still is. Don’t you worry about that.

Me: How about Manuel? Singing away with those guitar playing birds.

Nell: The Gypsy Wings. What kind of a name is that? Sounds like a takeaway.

Me: I thought he sang beautifully and with such passion.

Nell: There was a touch too much tentacle waving for me.

Me: He’s an octopus from Barcelona, Nell.

Nell: True.

Me: Shall I bring you a cup of Earl Grey?

Nell: That would be lovely.

Me: And a couple of nachos?

Nell: Shortbread will do, thank you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Poppy is 9 Today

Nell: Poppy doesn’t look 9, does she?

Me: No, she reminds me of one of those doe eyed Hollywood film stars of the past with her new haircut.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Impossibly cute with a hint of fierceness.

Nell: Well, she demanded chilli in her Huevos Rancheros this morning and extra crispy tortillas. Malcolm had to make them twice.

Me: Do we know why she chose a Mexican themed birthday breakfast?

Nell: No, but everyone is expected to wear sombreros, so you had better find yours.

Me: I don’t have one.

Nell: Of course you do. Check in The Cat’s hat box.

Me: I love ‘The Cat in the Hat’. It makes me laugh.

Nell: Don’t let The Cat hear you say that. It takes its hats very seriously.

Me: I was talking about the book.

Nell: Forget books and concentrate on sombreros, please. Poppy cannot be disappointed today.

Me: You three seemed awfully excited when Kev brought her home from the hairdressers. Dave was peering over the gate to see her. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy’s transformation is always an extraordinary sight for us Labradors. Our coats remain the same.

Me: Yes, I suppose they do. Poppy goes from Wild to Contained in an afternoon.

Nell: I’m not sure Poppy will ever be Contained.

Me: No, but her hair is when it’s been cut.

Nell: For a short while.

Me: Yes, the wildness is never very far away when it comes to Poppy.

Nell: Now, how’s your Spanish?

Me: Not very good.

Nell: You’ll have to ask Manuel and Alejandro to translate then.

Me: Why? The whole day isn’t going to be in Spanish, is it?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Just this evening’s menu. Poppy is having a Mexican fiesta.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.


Cakes and Snakes and George Jones

Me: It was glorious down on the beach, wasn’t it?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Dave always likes to lead the way.

Nell: He’s an enthusiastic animal.

Me: Whereas you and I just take our time.

Nell: Life is to be enjoyed.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Now, it’s Poppy’s birthday tomorrow.

Me: Yes, I know. She’ll be 9.

Nell: Kev is taking her for a hair cut this afternoon so Malcolm and Manuel can get on with her cake.

Me: What cake are they making?

Nell: A plain Victoria Sandwich with fresh strawberries and cream. You can’t go wrong with a classic.

Me: I agree.

Nell: David wanted an owl cake.

Me: Why?

Nell: I have no idea. I said to him ‘We haven’t got time to be making cakes into owls. A simple sponge will do.‘

Me: Does Poppy like owls?

Nell: David says she looks like an owl.

Me: I suppose she does when she’s fluffy but she won’t after this afternoon.

Nell: By the way, if any snakes knock on the door looking for Henry and Horst can you send them round the back, please?

Me: I beg your pardon?

Nell: I can’t be dealing with snakes in the house.

Me: Neither can I, and why would we?

Nell: There was a colour feature on Henry and Horst in the Daily Sliver so now they are all queuing up for autographs.

Me: The Daily Sliver?

Nell: Snakes read newspapers too, you know.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Oliver is hiding in the tree house until the snakes have gone.

Me: I don’t blame him.

Nell: I just wish George Jones was here. He’d never hide away.

Me: George Jones?

Nell: Yes. The country singing opossum from the United States. You must have heard of George Jones.

Me: I haven’t. Sorry.


Sad Days and Sunday Songs

Nell: It was a difficult day yesterday.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Five years since we lost your darling mother.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We went for a lovely walk by the river and then we took her and your stepfather some flowers.

Me: Yes. I’m glad they are together.

Nell: And you were able to talk to her on your own while Kev and I went for a walk.

Me: I was.

Nell: It’s very beautiful up there. So peaceful.

Me: It is. You weren’t gone long.

Nell: We decided it might be best if we stayed close to you.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: No need for thanks. It’s where Kev and I want to be.

Me: I miss her so much.

Nell: I know you do but as I’ve told you before she’s always with you.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Someone loved so dearly never really goes away.

Me: You’re right.

Nell: Now, David is performing at Sunday Songs today.

Me: What’s he singing?

Nell: A duet with Gladys. They’re both wearing cowboy boots and hats.

Me: It’s not really the weather for boots.

Nell: That’s what I said.

Me: I wonder if it’s ‘Islands in the Sun’.

Nell: No. It’s nothing gentle like that. It sounded more like an argument in rehearsal.

Me: ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’?

Nell: Obviously, but we’re trying to guess the song.

Me: That is a song.

Nell: It had something to do with Jackson, whoever that might be.

Me: ‘I’m Going to Jackson’.

Nell: Why?

Me: It’s the name of the song. Jackson is a place.

Nell: Never heard of it but we’d better go now or we’ll miss the llamas line dancing.

Me: I can’t wait.

Nell: Good. We thought it might make you smile. You’re greatly loved, you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


And Then It All Changed

Me: Here’s the thing.

Nell: I don’t like it when you say that.

Me: I know.

Nell: Well, go on then. You’ve obviously got something to say.

Me: I admit that when I first saw Beauregard’s hat I wondered if an extravagantly tasseled sombrero was really the look a tiger should be aiming for.

Nell: Didn’t we all.

Me: But as we started walking to the beach and the path seemed deserted I thought at least it was working.

Nell: Everyone ran away.

Me: Except for the snakes.

Nell: Well, yes. Further down the path things changed a little.

Me: You mean a lot.

Nell: I suppose so.

Me: When you told me Henry and Horst were snake charmers I didn’t realise they were the Sonny and Cher of the snake world.

Nell: They are certainly popular.

Me: I didn’t expect snakes to be lining the path waving their heads in some kind of hypnotic daze.

Nell: It was rather mesmerising.

Me: Or for word to have spread to almost every snake in Devon.

Nell: There were rather a lot of them.

Me: There were hundreds.

Nell: Yes, it reminded me of that snake temple in Bangkok.

Me: You’ve never been to Bangkok.

Nell: No, but you have and you told me about it.

Me: Terrifying place. Snakes everywhere.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: I’m not doing that again, Nell.

Nell: Of course you’re not. One visit to a snake temple is more than enough for anyone.

Me: I meant walk along a snake lined path to the beach with a sombrero wearing tiger and two woodlice celebrities.

Nell: Fair enough. We made the front page of the Daily Growl though. So that’s something to celebrate.

Me: Really?

Nell: Chin up, Poppy’s baked shortbread and Saturday Kitchen is starting.

Me: Yes. Sorry.