It’s Halloween and Where are the Beefeaters?

Me: Witching you a very Happy Halloween.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Looking fa-boo-lous as always.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Why are you all upstairs?

Nell: Poppy’s in hiding and we’re here to protect her.

Me: Do you think she should be wearing a witch’s hat?

Nell: It’s Halloween.

Me: Dave’s wearing a feathered pirate hat.

Nell: And your point is?

Me: Poppy usually wears a pirate’s hat.

Nell: Poppy is in disguise.

Me: Where are the Beefeaters? Shouldn’t they be here by now?

Nell; It’s an awfully long way from London so they’ve probably had to sleep over somewhere.

Me: They’re not walking, are they? Surely they’ve hired a minibus, or taken the train?

Nell: Have you ever seen Beefeaters on a train?

Me: No. But I hadn’t seen llamas dressed as alpacas until this morning.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: The llamas have all decided to come as alpacas.

Nell: They can’t just make themselves smaller and shorten their ears.

Me: They have. Look in the field.

Nell: Those are alpacas. Alejandro’s family are visiting from Ecuador. The llamas are Gliding with Gladys in the other field. Do keep up.

Me: Oh my gourd. You’re right.

Nell: I give up.

Me: What’s the plan when the Beefeaters finally arrive?

Nell: Poppy will remain hidden while we distract them with Halloween treats and interpretive dance.

Me: That should give them pumpkin to talk about.

Nell: I’m ignoring that.

Me: Are we talking floaty scarves?

Nell: No. Sir Roger Blubbery and Princess will be performing in the pool.

Me: I don’t think you should call him Sir Roger. It might provoke the Beefeaters.

Nell: A part of me is hoping the Beefeaters will get lost and never arrive.

Me: Now that’s just witchful thinking.

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.


Waiting for Beefeaters

Me: There’s been some extremely focused Looking Out Of The Window this morning.

Nell: I know.

Me: Are we expecting guests?

Nell: We’re waiting for Beefeaters.

Me: This is going to sound silly but I thought you just said ‘Beefeaters’.

Nell: I did.

Me: Are we talking meat lovers here, or the colourfully dressed yeoman guards of the Tower of London?

Nell: The latter, of course.

Me: I wouldn’t say ‘of course’. It’s not as if you expect to find a Beefeater in this part of the world and we do have a lot of non vegetarians.

Nell: Why bring vegetables into this?

Me: Never mind. Are the Beefeaters performing at Sunday Songs?

Nell: Beefeaters don’t sing.

Me: They might do. I know Henry VIII allowed them as much beef as they liked and that would definitely make Dave sing.

Nell: They’re coming to arrest Poppy.

Me: What?

Nell: It was all in the letter.

Me: Why didn’t you tell me before?

Nell: We knew you would become agitated and we needed to put certain measures in place.

Me: Are you saying Poppy is going to be taken to the Tower of London?

Nell: Yes. If she doesn’t relinquish her sword.

Me: She won’t do that.

Nell: She’s going to have to. The Royal Terriers are much fiercer than the Royal Corgis. They mean what they say.

Me: What if we gave the Beefeaters somebody else’s sword?

Nell: We don’t have swords lying around you know and Poppy has to do the handing over.

Me: We could make one out of tin foil and a stick.

Nell: This isn’t Blue Peter.

Me: The Cat must have a spare sword in its Dressing Up Box.

Nell: It doesn’t.

Me: We can’t let them take Poppy.

Nell: We won’t.

Me: Good. Sorry.


Beaches, Letters and Chunky Knit Cardigans

Me: We had a lot of beach this time, didn’t we?

Nell: Yes, we did.

Me: We don’t always.

Nell: Of course we don’t. It depends on the tide.

Me: I know but it always surprises me. The beach is never the same from one day to another.

Nell: And you’re the one who grew up by the sea.

Me: I’m allowed to experience wonder. Even if I know it’s coming.

Nell: Poppy tried to eat her lead again.

Me: She doesn’t like to be restricted.

Nell; She’s going to be severely restricted if she doesn’t attend that sword awareness course.

Me: They wouldn’t put her in the Tower of London, would they?

Nell: It seems a little harsh but you never know.

Me: I’m surprised she didn’t listen to Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: So am I. Rupert is such a reasonable wolf.

Me: Yes, and his cardigans are so chunky.

Nell: I don’t think a chunky knit cardigan is going to make any difference.

Me: There’s something so reassuring about them though. And it was nice and long.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I wonder if the letter was from The Palace.

Nell: What letter?

Me: Poppy received an official looking letter in a thick cream envelope this morning.

Nell: That’s unusual of you to notice such detail.

Me: I’ve become a bit of a letter watcher since the cancer diagnosis.

Nell: That’s understandable.

Me: I’m always expecting one from the hospital.

Nell: You have to try not to worry.

Me: I know.

Nell: Talking of which, did Poppy seem worried by the letter?

Me: Not at all. She threw it in the bin.

Nell: What? Go and get it. It might be extremely important.

Me: She won’t like us opening her post.

Nell: She threw it away.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Poppy is Defiant

Me: How did Poppy’s phone call with the Royal Terriers go?

Nell: Not well at all.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: She’s been given 3 points on her licence and has to attend a sword awareness course.

Me: I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Nell: Why would you? You don’t carry a sword.

Me: True.

Nell: She says she’s not going, of course.

Me: She has to attend, Nell.

Nell: I know. Harriet is trying to reason with her right now.

Me: Good luck with that.

Nell: Poppy’s sitting in the yellow chair refusing to listen. She’s completely defiant and only wants to play Cheeky Animals.

Me: Do you think they’ll take her sword away?

Nell: They might try. I’m not entirely sure they’ll succeed, however. She says she’s prepared to fight if necessary.

Me: Should we ask John the Doberman to talk to her? He is her fiancé.

Nell: Ex fiancé. She says she’s done with romance and it’s highly overrated.

Me: What a shame.

Nell: John’s already tried. He came round early this morning with a blueberry muffin. Her favourite.

Me: Did she listen?

Nell: She threw it at him.

Me: What a waste.

Nell: Don’t worry. David caught it. He’s good like that.

Me: Yes, I’ve noticed. Maybe Knitwear Wolf could give it a try? He’s calm and sensible and we all listen to him.

Nell: Yes, we do.

Me: And autumn is his time of the year.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: It’s the perfect time for cardigans and the colours are wonderfully wolfish.

Nell: You worry me sometimes. You really do.

Me: Harriet is an autumn sort of animal too with her glossy conker brown coat.

Nell: Could we stop discussing colour palettes and get back to Poppy, please?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Poppy is in Trouble

Me: That’s an awfully serious face for this time of the morning.

Nell: Buckingham Palace has just been on the phone.

Me: King Charles called you?

Nell: Not Charles himself. Beth and Bluebell the Royal Terriers.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: And they didn’t call me. They called Poppy.

Me: There’s no need to be jealous, Nell. It’s probably a Terrier Thing. Poppy is one of them.

Nell: Poppy is a Maltese/Yorkie cross not a Jack Russell.

Me: She’s still a terrier.

Nell: It’s not a Terrier Thing. It’s a Stop Knighting Random Animals Thing.

Me: I’m surprised they’ve heard about it up in London.

Nell: Someone informed them.

Me: It wasn’t Sir PC Panda, was it?

Nell: No, it wasn’t. And stop calling him Sir.

Me: It won’t have been Sir Roger Blubbery, or the Duke and Duchess of Devon.

Nell: David and Harriet are not dukes or duchesses of anywhere.

Me: No. You’re all kings and queens in my eyes.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Has Poppy agreed to stop?

Nell: She told them she was too busy to talk as she was grilling bacon.

Me: That was a bit rude of her.

Nell: I agree.

Me: What did they say?

Nell: They said ‘Streaky or Back Bacon?’

Me: They never did.

Nell: Of course they didn’t. They told her to call them back after breakfast.

Me: Is she going to?

Nell: I hope so, or there will be trouble.

Me: Do you think they’re going to confiscate her sword?

Nell: It is highly likely.

Me: She won’t surrender it freely you know.

Nell: Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

Me: I wonder who informed them. Someone obviously wants Poppy to be unarmed and vulnerable.

Nell: Poppy doesn’t do vulnerable. The mere idea.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


Kev isn’t feeling well

Me: It’s a shame the weather isn’t a bit brighter for all the tourists down here on half term holiday.

Nell: It’s the end of October.

Me: I know but it’s ever so grey and rainy.

Nell: I thought you said being by the sea was always wonderful.

Me: Yes, I actually love it when it’s wild.

Nell: Well then. The tourists probably do too.

Me: Harriet doesn’t care. She just dashes into the sea rain or shine.

Nell: It’s her happy place.

Me: Yes, bless her.

Nell: Now, Kev has a croaky voice today and is feeling very achy.

Me: I think the stress and strain of the last few weeks has finally got to him.

Nell: I agree. It’s been an extremely worrying time and he’s absolutely exhausted.

Me: He’s been my rock through all this.

Nell: He has. But we’re all going to have to look after him for a change.

Me: Yes, we are.

Nell: Starting with a nice cup of tea with honey and lemon.

Me: Good idea.

Nell: David has offered to sing for him.

Me: Is that a good idea?

Nell: He’s been practising some sea shanties in the hope that he can join Tony’s crew.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy is making chicken casserole for lunch with lots of vegetables and mashed potato.

Me: Just the thing on a cold day.

Nell: And Rupert is going to join Kev by the fire to read the morning papers.

Me: There’s definitely a lot to discuss.

Nell: As Kev has a croaky voice I will do the discussing.

Me: You’re joining Kev and Rupert then, are you?

Nell: I shall be by Kev’s side at all times.

Me: You always have his back, don’t you?

Nell: And yours.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Good News

Me: I thought I’d take some portraits of you all for a change. What do you think?

Nell: My ears are a little windswept.

Me: At least you’re smiling and so is Harriet. Poppy refused to look at the camera and my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy’s playing Cheeky Animals.

Nell: You should share the good news.

Me: Yes. The nurse confirmed that all the cancer has gone.

Me: It is. They’re going to operate again as a precautionary measure to make sure they have a wider margin around where it was.

Nell: Which is wonderful to hear.

Nell: Yes, and the date of the operation is definitely 9th November.

Me: So, now I know what is happening.

Nell: They will continue to keep a close eye on you in the future.

Me: Yes, and I need to keep a close eye on any moles, or marks, that change and any prolonged swelling of my lymph nodes.

Nell: They can be painful if you have a cold, or an infection, so you mustn’t panic if that happens.

Me: No. It’s just if it continues longer than a week.

Nell: The nurse also said that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by what has happened.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And that this should ease over the next few months.

Me: That’s right.

Nell: But you should always let people know if you’re feeling stressed as they can help you through it.

Me: I can’t even begin to say how much everyone’s support means to me. It is such a comfort.

Nell: You also spoke to another nurse about your general health.

Me: I did.

Nell: And cake needs to become a treat not a staple.

Me: I know.

Nell: It can’t be one of your five a day.

Me: No. Sorry.


Another Early Monday

Nell: What are you doing up so early again?

Me: I have an appointment with the nurse.

Nell: Would you like me to come with you?

Me: I’m afraid dogs aren’t allowed in the surgery.

Nell: I could wait in the car with Kev. I wouldn’t mind.

Me: That’s really kind of you but I think you’d be more comfortable at home.

Nell: It’s not about me, is it? It’s whatever is best for you.

Me: You’ll be there to greet me when I come home and you can look after the others while Kev and I are away.

Nell: Personally I think the nurse would appreciate it if I was there.

Me: I’m not sure she would.

Nell: You always forget everything they tell you.

Me: That’s why they send you letters and pamphlets and direct you to helpful websites.

Nell: I seem to remember them telling you not to Google anything.

Me: I haven’t.

Nell: Fine. I’ll make sure there’s a nice cup of tea waiting for you when you get home.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: We might have to hide Poppy’s sword, by the way.

Me: Why?

Nell: She knighted PC Panda yesterday and he only popped in for a quick scone.

Me: Did he mind?

Nell: He accepted ‘the kind gesture’, I quote, but advised her that this wasn’t actually legal and she should ‘cease forthwith’.

Me: And did she?

Nell: Of course not. She just marched off and knighted a passing spaniel who’s only down here on holiday and possibly undeserving.

Me: I hope it was a King Charles Cavalier.

Nell: There’s nothing cavalier about King Charles.

Me: I meant the spaniel.

Nell: Poppy only knighted the spaniel. She didn’t crown it king. That would have been taking things way too far.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Expect the Unexpected

Me: Those waves were magnificent, weren’t they?

Nell: The sea was a little too rough for my liking.

Me: I always love it when it’s fierce and snarly.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: You and Harriet seemed more interested in the seaweed.

Nell: Harriet thought she could smell lion.

Me: Lion?

Nell: Don’t look so surprised. He was bound to come back again. This is his favourite part of the world and his son lives here.

Me: Are we talking about Lionel King?

Nell: Of course we are.

Me: Well, I hope he stays away. That lion is bad news.

Nell: While we’re on the subject of Big Cats. Beauregard and Mrs King are thinking of adding an extension to the tree house.

Me: Why?

Nell: Roary is growing fast and Oliver needs his space.

Me: You wouldn’t expect an opossum to live with a tiger, a lioness and a lion cub.

Nell: Oliver feels safe there.

Me: But then again you wouldn’t expect a fierce terrier to have a flamingo and an octopus as her sous chefs.

Nell: I suppose not.

Me: Or a Welsh corgi choir to be singing in a field.

Nell: It’s Sunday Songs. Where else would they be?

Me: True.

Nell: I certainly wasn’t expecting the Whippets Institute to turn up in their minibus.

Me: Nobody expects the Whippets Institute.

Nell: Nonsense. They usually tell us when they’re coming.

Me: It was a joke.

Nell: I hope they’re not expecting roast potatoes.

Me: Are they staying for lunch?

Nell: It’s Sunday. Everyone’s staying for lunch.

Me: There’ll have to be roast potatoes, Nell. You can’t have Sunday lunch without them.

Nell: I agree. You’d better tell Poppy we have extra guests.

Me: Why me?

Nell: Why not? Are those llamas cartwheeling again?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Case of Mistaken Identity

Me: You three look rather serious.

Nell: I’m afraid there’s been a complaint.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Henry and Horst brought it to our attention as representatives from the insect community.

Me: Has an insect been harmed?

Nell: Ringo was nearly drowned and thrown in a hedge.

Me: That’s awful.

Nell: He was minding his own business strolling along the kitchen counter when someone started screaming at him.

Me: That’s not very nice.

Nell: He managed to hide in the sink until Kev turned the tap on and threw him in the hedge.

Me: Kev did?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Kev would never harm any living thing.

Nell: I agree. We’re all shocked.

Me: I think this might be my fault. You know I lived in Africa during the 1990’s?

Nell: I do.

Me: Well, one of the things we had to be most careful about was scorpions.

Nell: Nasty creatures.

Me: I always warned the children not to turn over stones and we had a scorpion in the house one time.

Nell: What has all this got to do with Ringo?

Me: I thought he was a scorpion.

Nell: Ringo is a beetle. Everyone knows that.

Me: But he looks like a scorpion and he waves his tail around like one.

Nell: Good grief. How did Kev get involved?

Me: I rang him in the studio saying I’d seen a frightening creature and he came to my rescue.

Nell: You didn’t need rescuing.

Me: I thought I did. Kev looked everywhere and while he was washing his hands he saw Ringo in the sink.

Nell: I see.

Me: So he fished him out and put him in the hedge.

Nell: This is all down to your vivid imagination.

Me: I know.

Nell: We don’t have scorpions in Devon.

Me: Sorry.