Pinch, Punch, First of the Month

Me: ‘Pinch punch, first of the month.’

Nell: Stop that.

Me: ‘White rabbits, no return.‘

Nell: That’s what you think.

Me: Ouch.

Nell: ‘A kick and a flick for being so quick.’

Me: You kicked me.

Nell: It’s the Devon way.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Me: Well, hopefully we’ll have good luck for the next four weeks.

Nell: Yes. Now, it is the first of March today.

Me: I know.

Nell: So, it’s time to remind everyone that they can support your daily writing by buying you a cup of Earl Grey on the buymeacoffee website.

Me: I don’t like asking, Nell.

Nell: You publish a story every day. The link to the website is on the Conversations with Nell page on Facebook, or in your bio on Instagram.

Me: It’s a pinned post.

Nell: And also here https://www.buymeacoffee.com/saramartin

Me: I’d be most grateful for any support you can give me.

Nell: Yes, we all would. Why are you up and dressed, by the way?

Me: I have my Wednesday Writers workshop this morning.

Nell: How lovely. I might join you.

Me: You’ll have to keep quiet.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: You’re not registered.

Nell: I most certainly am. I have been registered with The Kennel Club since birth.

Me: I didn’t mean that kind of registered.

Nell: I’m a pedigree Labrador. Oxfordshire born and bred.

Me: I meant registered for the workshop.

Nell: Oh, I see. They won’t mind.

Me: You can only listen quietly. No barking or grumbling.

Nell: As if.

Me: I know what you’re like. If you’re hungry, or bored, or wanting attention, you grumble.

Nell: Nonsense.

Me: In fact you’re grumbling now.

Nell: Of course I am. You just pinched and punched me.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Yes, We have no Tomatoes

Me: It’s a bit chilly today, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes. I would recommend wearing a warm hat.

Me: Fortunately we’ve all got our Dartmoor beanies from Tracey.

Nell: Quite. Bless her.

Me: Kev was larking around on the beach again.

Nell: He’s trying to make your photos more interesting.

Me: I didn’t notice until I looked at it later.

Nell: That’s what he thought.

Me: We’re lucky to have so much space, aren’t we?

Nell: I presume you’re talking about the beach now because I have to say this is not the case at home.

Me: No, we do seem to have acquired rather a lot of animals.

Nell: And two of them are stuffed.

Me: Three including Dave. See what I did there?

Nell: David is trying to work on his physique actually.

Me: Why? My Big Brave Beautiful Boy is gorgeous as he is.

Nell: A passing pigeon said he was podgy.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Anyway, he’s having salad for lunch.

Me: He doesn’t like salad.

Nell: Nobody likes salad.

Me: I do and you eat it every day.

Nell: It doesn’t mean I like it.

Me: You love a good tomato.

Nell: Don’t get me started on tomatoes. They’re like gold dust around here.

Me: I know. You don’t realise how much you rely on a tomato until it’s not there. Which is something I never thought I would say.

Nell: How did we get on to tomatoes?

Me: You were telling me Dave is on a diet.

Nell: Oh yes.

Me: Does that mean he’s not eating cake?

Nell: Certainly not. Everyone needs cake, especially in hard times.

Me: I didn’t know Dave was going through a hard time.

Nell: He’s having salad for lunch. How much harder can it get?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.


Morning Sleepy Face

Me: Morning Sleepy Face. Time to rise and shine.

Nell: Ever heard the phrase ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’?

Me: Don’t be so grumpy. It’s Monday and the start of a new week.

Nell: I’m aware of that but can the new week start in an hour or so?

Me: No. Fortunately you’re seeing Chloe today and having your injection so you’ll be in a better mood later.

Nell: Will I really? Having an injection isn’t most people’s idea of fun.

Me: It helps with your arthritis and Chloe will give you a lovely massage.

Nell: She makes me walk through water in a box.

Me: She says you often just float if you’re not in the mood.

Nell: That’s what life jackets are for.

Me: Anyway, it all helps and that’s all that matters.

Nell: I suppose so. Is there any particular reason for your brightness?

Me: The sun’s shining and it’s nearly March.

Nell: True.

Me: Spring is on its way. Did you see the daffodils?

Nell: I did.

Me: Yellow is such a cheerful colour.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: It’s your birthday in March.

Nell: I know.

Me: You’ll be 11 on March 14th.

Nell: Thank you for reminding me.

Me: We’re getting old, Nell.

Nell: Right, that’s it. I’m not lying here any longer longer listening to you going on about injections, arthritis and old age.

Me: Are you getting up then?

Nell: I am.

Me: Maybe we could have breakfast together and a lovely chat?

Nell: Seriously?

Me: How about a dippy egg and soldiers and a nice cup of Earl Grey?

Nell: Fine, but no more talk of getting older.

Me: Not even in jest? Remember it’s important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle.

Nell: I can’t believe you just said that.

Me: Sorry.


Better Times Are Ahead

Me: I do my best thinking down by the sea.

Nell: Yes, the beach is an excellent place for quiet contemplation.

Me: Even though it was quite grey and cold there was an optimistic light in the sky.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: A gentle glow on the horizon promising better times are ahead.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: I know you saw it too.

Nell: I did, actually. And it’s only a few weeks before the better times begin, isn’t it?

Me: Only 18 more sleeps to be exact.

Nell: You had better explain to everyone.

Me: Alice and the grandchildren are arriving from Germany on 17th March and Chris and Shannon from Canada on 20th.

Nell: Yes. A family reunion.

Me: I can’t wait.

Nell: I know.

Me: I’m so glad Shannon is joining us too. The last time we were all together like this was March 2020.

Nell: Just before lockdown.

Me: What a strange few years it has been. So much has happened. Our world has changed.

Nell: It has.

Me: Faye will be 4 in May and Jonathan Sky will be 7 in September.

Nell: Goodness me.

Me: And Chris will turn 35 while he’s here.

Nell: A birthday. There will have to be cake.

Me: Yes. I’m so excited.

Nell: You said that before.

Me: But I am.

Nell: I know. We all are. Now, do you want your bacon sandwich downstairs by the fire?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: It’s rather cold so I think you should wear your fluffy hat for Sunday Songs.

Me: Did I see Tracey out in the field?

Nell: Yes. She’s knitted beanies for the Welsh corgi choir.

Me: How kind of her.

Nell: Tracey is kind.

Me: Just like Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: I know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It’s All About The Cream

Me: You enjoy our visits to the activity field, don’t you?

Nell: Yes. I particularly like the soft grass underpaw.

Me: And Dave and Poppy love running off lead.

Nell: They do.

Me: It must be hard for them to see you and Harriet off lead on the beach but Dave is too big and boisterous.

Nell: And Poppy is too wild and mean.

Me: I’m afraid she is a bit of a bully. I’d say it was because of her illness but she’s always been like that.

Nell: She threw an egg at Malcolm this morning.

Me: But he’s the politest flamingo I know.

Nell: Fortunately Manuel caught it.

Me: Do we know why?

Nell: It would have broken all over Malcolm’s feathers.

Me: I mean why Poppy was cross with Malcolm.

Nell: He said we should try our cream tea the Devon way.

Me: He didn’t.

Nell: I’m afraid he did.

Me: But we eat our scones the Cornish way. Jam on first and then clotted cream.

Nell: I know.

Me: And never the Devon way. Cream on first and then jam.

Nell: Actually your sister Alex does it the Devon way.

Me: What?

Nell: Just saying. We do live in Devon.

Me: I’m afraid I’m on Poppy’s side here. We’re all about the cream not the county.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: My theory is that if you’re a jam person you like it to be on top but if you’re a cream person you like to taste that first.

Nell: Perhaps everyone should just enjoy their cream tea the way they like it.

Me: As long as it’s jam on first.

Nell: It’s not like you to be so inflexible.

Me: We’re talking about scones, jam and cream here, Nell. This is serious stuff. Sorry.


A Visit from Tony

Me: It was good to see Tony again, wasn’t it?

Nell: Yes. It always brightens our day.

Me: Especially Dave’s.

Nell: True.

Me: You can see how big Dave is when he stands on two legs. Harriet seems tiny in comparison.

Nell: David is an extremely large animal.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: So, what do you think of Sally’s news?

Me: You mean the fact that Sally suspects the Baddies are planning to steal the King’s jewels at his coronation in May?

Nell: What part of keeping it confidential didn’t you understand?

Me: You’re the one who brought it up.

Nell: I was being deliberately vague.

Me: No one is going to tell anyone. We don’t have Baddies in our group.

Nell: You don’t know that.

Me: I do.

Nell: I shall certainly be keeping my eyes and ears wide open when I’m there.

Me: Where?

Nell: At the King’s Coronation.

Me: You mean you’re invited?

Nell: Of course. The late Queen and I were great friends.

Me: Were you really?

Nell: Yes. You know we were. We regularly took tea together and she always enjoyed our little chats.

Me: A bit like you and me then?

Nell: Nothing at all like you and me actually. Conversations with you are quite different.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: You’re a constant worry for a start.

Me: Why?

Nell: Dreaming up all sorts of nonsense.

Me: People seem to like it.

Nell: Losing your grip on what’s real and what isn’t.

Me: Are you taking a plus one to the King’s Coronation?

Nell: Yes, and No, I’m not taking you.

Me: I’d be awfully well behaved, Nell. I could wear my new fluffy hat.

Nell: The King’s Coronation is a time for tiaras not hats.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.


Salty Nose or Cheeky Animal?

Me: Salty nose or Cheeky Animal?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: You were licking your nose and I wondered if it was a game.

Nell: It’s far too cold for games.

Me: True. I don’t know how you dogs can go swimming.

Nell: I paddled and the puppies swam. Poppy just barked at other dogs.

Me: Some of you dogs then. Gosh you’re pedantic this morning.

Nell: I’m merely stating facts.

Me: Did I see Knitwear Wolf leaving with Tracey?

Nell: Yes. Tracey has to go back to Dartmoor but she’s promised to visit us again soon.

Me: I think you actually like her.

Nell: There’s nothing not to like. She’s a friendly, caring animal with a good heart.

Me: And she makes Knitwear Wolf happy.

Nell: Yes, she does. They’re great friends.

Me: And they both love knitting and homemade jam.

Nell: They do. Now, enough of all that, Sally has called another meeting.

Me: Have the Baddies approached Kev? Is he about to do something dreadful again?

Nell: I certainly hope not.

Me: The Stuffed Tiger and his bunny sidekick are still here.

Nell: Beaumarchais and Johnny Rabbit were just part of the pretence. They’ve done nothing wrong.

Me: Mere pawns in a sinister game of chess.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Forced to stay wherever they were placed and remain there until the next move.

Nell: Do stop.

Me: I hope Sally will let me join in this time. I have my beautiful furry hat now.

Nell: What has your hat got to do with anything?

Me: After Dave ate my all encasing hat I thought my spying days were over.

Nell: They never began.

Me: Do you think there’s a chance the Baddies will try and recruit me?

Nell: None at all.

Me: No. Sorry.


Posts and Pancakes

Me: I love this photo because it makes me want to reach out and stroke Harriet’s beautiful soft chocolate brown ears.

Nell: Well, don’t please. She’s busy.

Me: She doesn’t look busy.

Nell: Just because we don’t look busy doesn’t mean we aren’t. It’s something we Labradors do particularly well.

Me: It still looks like lounging around to me.

Nell: David isn’t lounging at all. He’s in a particularly keen position.

Me: True. He’s definitely concentrating on something. Walter Pigeon I expect.

Nell: Now, a lot of people are extremely worried because they aren’t seeing your posts every day on Facebook.

Me: I know and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Nell: It’s very frustrating.

Me: I don’t know why FB have to change things.

Nell: The main thing is that people need to know there’ll always be a story for them.

Me: Yes. Every day.

Nell: So, if we don’t appear they just have to type ‘Conversations with Nell’ in the search box and they’ll find us.

Me: It’s an awful nuisance though.

Nell: Or they can make us a favourite which will also hopefully work.

Me: I hope so.

Nell: So do I.

Me: Talking of favourites, wasn’t it kind of Tracey to help Poppy with the pancakes yesterday?

Nell: Pancakes are normally Manuel’s thing.

Me: He had his tentacles full with all the orders.

Nell: There were rather a lot.

Me: I had some of Tracey’s homemade jam on mine.

Nell: I prefer lemon and sugar.

Me: Knitwear Wolf had three. It was lovely to see him enjoying himself.

Nell: Yes, you’ve said that before.

Me: I hadn’t realised how serious he’d become.

Nell: Rupert worries about things.

Me: Yes, he cares deeply for us all.

Nell: And we care about him.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Poppy Doesn’t Like Being Monitored

Nell: This is a bit early. You haven’t got an appointment today, have you?

Me: No. I couldn’t sleep and then Poppy came upstairs to have a grumble so I thought I’d just start writing.

Nell: What’s Poppy grumbling about? David didn’t mean to eat the ham. It was a mistake. He thought it was part of the continental breakfast.

Me: What continental breakfast?

Nell: Exactly. There wasn’t one.

Me: Oh dear. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. It wasn’t the ham. It was Harriet.

Nell: Harriet?

Me: Yes, she’s watching Poppy through the bannisters again.

Nell: I see.

Me: Ever since Poppy’s diagnosis Harriet’s been awfully concerned about her.

Nell: I think now might be the time to let people know about Poppy’s illness.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Recently we’ve all noticed Poppy’s been far more agitated than usual.

Me: And that’s saying a lot because Poppy is not the calmest of animals.

Nell: She’s also had a few minor accidents in the house.

Me: We thought it was wilfulness at first.

Nell: Anyway, at her annual checkup Kev mentioned all this to the vet and after several blood tests and a scan it was confirmed that Poppy has Cushing’s Disease.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Cushing’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a serious health condition in dogs that occurs when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol (cortisone) in the animal’s body.

Me: Which is why Poppy was so agitated.

Nell: And eating and drinking a lot.

Me: The good news is that she’s reacted really well to her medication and the levels have come right down.

Nell: Our vet Joe is extremely pleased as it normally takes a while to sort this out.

Me: She’s still not exactly calm though.

Nell: We’re talking about Poppy here. Poppy doesn’t do calm.

Me: No. You’re right. Sorry.


Bovey Tracey is Adorable

Me: Well, I think Bovey Tracey is adorable.

Nell: She wants us all to call her Tracey.

Me: She’s a breath of fresh air. The moment Knitwear Wolf arrived on his motorbike with Tracey smiling away in the sidecar I knew she would be fun.

Nell: She’s certainly got a lot to say.

Me: I don’t think I’ve seen Rupert in a beanie before but it suits him.

Nell: Everything suits him.

Me: Yes, he really is an exceptionally handsome wolf.

Nell: I know.

Me: Tracey knitted her hat herself, you know.

Nell: I do.

Me: She offered to teach me.

Nell: Good luck with that.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: I’m afraid you’re simply not the crafty type.

Me: I could be.

Nell: I would stick to writing if I were you. Rupert already gave you a beanie so you don’t need one.

Me: He and Tracey gave us all beanies. Why aren’t you wearing yours?

Nell: I’m sitting in the living room enjoying a cup of Earl Grey. I have no need for a knitted hat.

Me: People wear them inside nowadays.

Nell: Why?

Me: It’s just a thing.

Nell: Well, don’t do it. You’re a 64 year old grandmother. Beanies are for outside.

Me: Alright Grumpy Guts. Did you try any of Tracey’s homemade strawberry jam?

Nell: I did not.

Me: It goes beautifully with Poppy’s scones and that Dartmoor clotted cream is the best.

Nell: Right, that’s quite enough. I know exactly what you’re trying to do and I refuse to rise to the bait.

Me: I’m not doing anything.

Nell: Tracey and Rupert are friends and that’s fine with me.

Me: She really makes him laugh. I haven’t seen him so happy in a long time.

Nell: Yes. I noticed that too.

Me: Sorry.