Happy Halloween (sorry for the puns)

Me: Happy Howl-oween Nell.

Nell: I see you’ve started already. Why aren’t you wearing your hat?

Me: I’ll put it on later. Yours is rather impressive.

Nell: Not too much?

Me: Never. Go big or gourd home is my motto.

Nell: Give me strength.

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy in his feathered hat. Isn’t he looking absolutely gourd-geous?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: And Harriet’s hat is quite eerie-sistible.

Nell: You simply can’t stop doing this, can you?

Me: Are all these Halloween puns driving you batty?

Nell: You could say that.

Me: I’m way ahead of the carve today.

Nell: Just stop.

Me: I will soon.

Nell; Thank goodness for that. It’s bad enough trying to get around the house in a huge tasseled sombrero.

Me: Gourd to see Herr Hoffmann is joining in.

Nell: That’s his normal chef’s hat.

Me: Oh, fangs for pointing that out.

Nell: I give up.

Me: You know me. Pumpkin out puns like it’s nobody’s business.

Nell: Somebody bring me a cup of Earl Grey, please.

Me: I suppose tea is better than boos. See what I did there?

Nell: Are you ever going to stop?

Me: It’s only once a year, Nell.

Nell: I know but it’s impossible to have a decent conversation with you. I’m leaving.

Me: Don’t go. Halloween’s not the same if I can’t be witch you.

Nell: Here we go again.

Me: I’ll stop now.

Nell: I’ll stay if you let me drink my tea in peace.

Me: I will.

Nell: Good.

Me: But be scareful. It might be quite hot.

Nell: What did you just say?

Me: Nothing. How do you take your tea, by the way?

Nell: With lemon.

Me: Not scream and sugar?

Nell: You can’t help yourself, can you?

Me: No. Sorry.


Disasters at Breakfast

Nell: David’s taken things too far again.

Me: Why? What has he done?

Nell: Kev was giving him a comforting cuddle on the sofa because of the disaster at breakfast when things got out of control.

Me: What disaster at breakfast?

Nell: David overcooked the boiled eggs this morning so we had to send them back.

Me: Send them back? It’s not a restaurant, Nell.

Nell: Boiled eggs at breakfast need to be dippy. Everyone knows that. What are you going to do with your soldiers if the yolk is hard?

Me: Some people might prefer a hard boiled egg.

Nell: Hard boiled eggs are for picnics. Do keep up.

Me: What happened with Kev?

Nell: David climbed on top of him and knocked him over.

Me: Kev won’t mind.

Nell: What if he does that to a visiting dignitary?

Me: Are we expecting a visiting dignitary?

Nell: He’s the Mayor of Kingsbridge. It could happen at any time.

Me: He’s just affectionate. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Moving on, tomorrow is Halloween.

Me: I know.

Nell: Do you have a costume?

Me: No, I don’t.

Nell: You’d best pop over to the Big House and have a look in The Cat’s dressing up box.

Me: Must I?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Halloween never used to be a thing.

Nell: Well, it is now, especially with the younger animals and the llamas.

Me: Are they trick and treating?

Nell: Of course, but no sweets this year. Llamas are excitable at the best of times, they don’t need sugary treats.

Me: A handful of hay isn’t very exciting.

Nell: Nobody mentioned hay. Fresh fruit will do.

Me: If I was a llama a slice of apple wouldn’t get me cartwheeling.

Nell: Nothing will get you cartwheeling. Be honest.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Autumnal Colours

Me: I’m not sure why, but I’m appreciating the colours of autumn so much more this year.

Nell: Grief makes you aware of your surroundings.

Me: We’re lucky to live in such beautiful countryside. It’s a great comfort.

Nell: It is.

Me: Talking of autumnal colours, Knitwear Wolf is looking particularly dashing this morning in his conker brown cardigan.

Nell: I agree.

Me: Nobody can carry off a cardigan quite like him.

Nell: You know he’s featured in The Growl on Sunday’s colour supplement, don’t you?

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. He and The Cat were interviewed about their autumn range of knitwear. They’ve given it a ridiculous headline, of course.

Me: What is it?

Nell: ‘The Wolf and the Pussy-Cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green coat.’

Me: That’s actually quite clever.

Nell: It’s also factually incorrect. The Cat is furious.

Me: What’s wrong with it?

Nell: They didn’t go to sea. They live by the sea.

Me: True.

Nell: It isn’t a coat, it’s a long cardigan.

Me: That’s a sort of knitted coat.

Nell; And it isn’t pea-green. It’s a beautiful forest green. Peas are far too vivid. Not autumnal at all.

Me: You’re beginning to sound like The Cat.

Nell: I’ve been listening to it complaining all morning.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Now, Sunday Songs is a little earlier today. The Welsh Corgi Choir forgot the clocks had gone back so they’ve been in the field for ages.

Me: Poor little things.

Nell: Herr Hoffmann has baked some German gingerbread treats to keep them going.

Me: I love Lebkuchen. We always had it at Christmas. But is it safe for dogs?

Nell: This gingerbread has no nutmeg and is absolutely delicious.

Me: Good.

Nell: Well, have a piece before David eats it all.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Why is Lionel here again?

Me: Look at Dave with his new toy. Bless him.

Nell: I could do without having to listen to the sound of chewing all the time. I’m trying to read the newspaper.

Me: Stop being such a misery guts. Let him enjoy himself. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David is supposed to be helping Herr Hoffmann with breakfast in the kitchen.

Me: Malcolm and Manuel are there.

Nell: I know but David has responsibilities. Taste testing the bacon is not enough.

Me: It looks lovely and crispy.

Nell: That’s as maybe but he needs to do some actual cooking.

Me: Why is Lionel King here again?

Nell: He’s collecting Roary. It’s half term and they’re spending time together. I told you about that.

Me: Why is he sitting in our living room?

Nell: He has to wait somewhere. There’s not enough room in the tree house and Roary isn’t ready.

Me: He could wait in the garden.

Nell: It’s raining.

Me: Rain hasn’t stopped Gladys and the llamas from exercising.

Nell: Nothing can stop them and besides they’re wearing lycra.

Me: Herr Hoffmann definitely doesn’t like Lionel.

Nell: How do you know that?

Me: He gave him a hard stare.

Nell: Was he wearing his glasses?

Me: Why would Lionel be wearing Herr Hoffmann’s glasses?

Nell: What?

Me: I didn’t even know Lionel needed glasses.

Nell: Not Lionel. Herr Hoffmann. He’s very short sighted.

Me: I can’t remember but I know he doesn’t want him here because he said ‘No Lionels in ze kitchen, please.’

Nell: He meant lions. There’s not enough room.

Me: Roary and Mrs King are allowed in there whenever they like.

Nell: You’re reading too much into this.

Me: I don’t trust him.

Nell: Stop fussing and try and relax. It’s Saturday.

Me: Ok. Sorry.


Autumn Walks

Me: Autumn was my mother’s favourite time of year. She loved the colour of the leaves.

Nell: They’re quite a nuisance underpaw. I much prefer Spring.

Me: Spring is my favourite season too. More hopeful.

Nell: Indeed.

Me: There’s a sadness about Autumn.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I still keep looking for Poppy.

Nell: Of course you do. She was part of our lives for over ten years.

Me: Harriet is an autumn coloured dog. I was thinking that as I watched you all walking along. She blends into her surroundings.

Nell: It’s what spies do.

Me: The Stuffed Tiger doesn’t. It’s a terribly obvious spy.

Nell: It’s a blatant eavesdropper. I was trying to talk to my friend Dorothy on WoofsApp when it leant over and stuck its face in my iBone.

Me: I think it might just have lost its balance, Nell. It can’t actually move on its own.

Nell: What was it doing on the sofa then?

Me: I’m afraid someone must have put it there.

Nell: Well, they should put it there more carefully. The last thing I need is a huge Stuffed Tiger on top of me.

Me: I couldn’t agree more. Tigers are quite autumnal in their colours if you think about it.

Nell: Nonsense. They’re too stripey.

Me: True. Lions blend in more easily.

Nell: You might be right. Lionel said Herr Hoffmann didn’t even notice him at breakfast this morning.

Me: What was Lionel doing here?

Nell: Waiting to collect Roary. It’s half term.

Me: Is he still trying to take him away from Mrs King?

Nell: He just wants to spend some time with his son.

Me: Herr Hoffmann was probably ignoring him, by the way.

Nell: He’s far too well mannered to do that and you know it.

Me; Yes. Sorry.


The Stuffed Tiger is Behaving Suspiciously

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Evidence shows that the Stuffed Tiger is spying on Harriet.

Me: You do know the Stuffed Tiger isn’t real, don’t you?

Nell: Of course I do.

Me: And Harriet is actually the spy?

Nell: A witness saw the Stuffed Tiger lurking behind the Yellow Chair.

Me: A witness? Who?

Nell: It was David, if you must know.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy keeping an eye on his sister.

Nell: Fortunately, David had his iBone with him as he was expecting a call about turning on the Kingsbridge Christmas lights so he took a couple of photos.

Me: Is Dave turning on the Kingsbridge Christmas lights this year?

Nell: He’s the mayor. It’s his job. But that’s not the point.

Me: No. Was Harriet doing anything special when the Stuffed Tiger was spying on her?

Nell: Not really. She was just Having a Think.

Me: Not talking to Sally?

Nell: No. Any talks with Sally are held in secret.

Me: Of course. So, not much for the Stuffed Tiger to spy on at all really?

Nell: It doesn’t know that.

Me: It doesn’t know anything. It’s stuffed.

Nell: But what with? That’s the question.

Me: Is it?

Nell: Goodness only knows what could be hiding in there.

Me: I think it’s just fluff.

Nell: But you don’t know.

Me: True.

Nell: Anybody could be using it to transmit information.

Me: About what?

Nell: The Goings On.

Me: What Goings On?

Nell: There’s always something going on here.

Me: We’re not exactly MI5. It’s usually discussions about missing bacon, or Gladys sleeping in your handbag.

Nell: Has she been doing that again?

Me: No. It was just an example.

Nell: Leave my handbag out of this, please.

Me: Sorry.


Get Yourselves Checked

Me: The view from my window and a sleepy Harriet is just what’s needed on a Wednesday morning.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: Look at the sun on the fields. Isn’t it glorious?

Nell: It is.

Me: This will be what I miss most when we leave.

Nell: We’re not leaving yet.

Me: Anyway, what I wanted to say today was how grateful I am for our wonderful Conversations with Nell community.

Nell: It is rather special.

Me: The love and support we receive on here is truly amazing.

Nell: Yes. Thank you. Now, you wanted to talk about something.

Me: I did. As most of you know I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma this time last year and since then have struggled with anxiety.

Nell: Perfectly understandable.

Me: So when I was called in for routine breast cancer screening I worried about it a lot.

Nell: You did.

Me: But I knew how important screening is as cancer can be cured if found early enough.

Nell: Screening saved your friend’s life.

Me: Yes. They found a tumour they never would have found otherwise.

Nell: They did and she is doing well.

Me: Yes. And more good news is that yesterday I received a letter to say the mammogram showed no sign of cancer.

Nell: A great relief.

Me: So what I want to say to all of you, because I care about you very much, is please go and get yourself checked. Take advantage of screening. It could save your life.

Nell: It could. And even if you’re a worrier like Sara and find the whole thing really stressful, just do it.

Me: Was that too pushy?

Nell: No. If one person goes and gets checked, who wasn’t going to before, it is worth it.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nell hates Goodbyes

Me: Don’t look so sad.

Nell: It’s far too early for a conversation.

Me: Herr Hoffmann’s been up for hours making bread. It smells wonderful.

Nell: We’re not usually involved.

Me: We’re up early because Shel’s flight to Vancouver leaves at 2pm so he has to catch an early train.

Nell: I don’t like it when people leave.

Me: Nobody does, but he’ll be back in April.

Nell: That’s months away.

Me: You had a lovely lunch with him at the Cottage Hotel yesterday.

Nell: It wasn’t just me, though, was it?

Me: I didn’t know Gladys was in your handbag.

Nell: I told David not to put her in there.

Me: It was rather naughty.

Nell: Gatecrashing lunch like that.

Me: At least the llamas stayed at home.

Nell: Not even David can fit a llama into a handbag.

Me: True.

Nell: It was nice to be back at the Cottage Hotel.

Me: Yes. I’m looking forward to my writing retreat next week.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I’m going to the Cottage Hotel. Chris and Shannon are treating me to it.

Nell: You never told me.

Me: I did. I wasn’t able to go last year because of my cancer treatment. Remember?

Nell: Ah yes. Well, that is a good thing.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Dogs are allowed to stay at the Cottage Hotel.

Me: I know, but only in certain rooms and not in the restaurant.

Nell: And?

Me: And it’s a writers’ retreat.

Nell: My name is on the title of the book.

Me: Yes.

Nell: The conversations are with me.

Me: You’re needed at home while I’m away. Someone has to run the household.

Nell: You’re not going today, are you?

Me: No. It’s not until 2nd Nov.

Nell: I hate goodbyes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Cuddles with Dave

Nell: We’re going to have to do something about David.

Me: Why?

Nell: There we were, deep in discussion with Shel after a lovely lunch of roast beef with all the trimmings.

Me: Poppy would have approved.

Nell: She did. She said it wasn’t quite up to her standards but it was a jolly good effort.

Me: That’s a compliment.

Nell: Now stop interrupting, where was I?

Me: Talking about our post lunch chat with Shel.

Nell: Yes, there we were when David climbs onto his lap.

Me: I know. It was adorable.

Nell: I mean, who does that?

Me: Dave does. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: You can’t climb on top of someone in the middle of a meeting.

Me: It wasn’t a meeting. It was a gentle chat.

Nell: It’s unacceptable.

Me: Shel needed cuddles and Dave was there to offer them.

Nell: It looked the other way around to me.

Me: Did you see Shel’s face? He loved it.

Nell: Well, I think David was far too forward.

Me: I think he was just right.

Nell: I told him to get off.

Me: I know you did.

Nell: And he completely ignored me.

Me: He probably didn’t hear you. He was so caught up in the moment.

Nell: Nonsense. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Me: Shel wants us to keep the fundraising for the animation going until December.

Nell: Good.

Me: Just to see if there are any more people willing to donate.

Nell: And then?

Me: We shall see what we shall see.

Nell: Quite. I’m confident we are going to find a way to do this you know.

Me: I really hope so.

Nell: I’m not sure David’s behaviour helped.

Me: That’s where you’re wrong. It was exactly what was needed. Sorry.


Potato, Potahto

Nell: You were very noisy yesterday evening.

Me: We were having a good time.

Nell: I noticed. Why did you have to choose a Chinese takeaway? Dogs don’t eat Chinese food.

Me: It wasn’t about you, for once. My sister Charlotte came over to see Shel and it was about catching up with good friends.

Nell: I was actually very happy to hear you all laugh again. It’s been a while.

Me: It has.

Nell: Is Charlotte staying for Sunday roast?

Me: No, she has to get home.

Nell: But she’ll be here for Sunday Songs?

Me: I expect so.

Nell: She won’t want to miss it.

Me: Why?

Nell: The Whippets Institute Acrobatic Team are performing.

Me: I never knew they had an acrobatic team.

Nell: Whippets are very agile. It’s not all homemade cakes and big bands, you know.

Me: Obviously not.

Nell: Poppy trained half of them. She was an honorary whippet.

Me: Yes. I think I knew that.

Nell: They’re going to be responsible for most of the stunts in the upcoming Indiana Bones and the Raiders of the Lost Bark blockbuster movie.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: And as Shel is visiting they thought they would put on a performance.

Me: Is that why the minibus arrived so early?

Nell: Yes. The llamas are playing the baddies so they wanted a quick run through.

Me: I don’t really see the llamas as baddies. They’re far too cheerful.

Nell: They’re extremely good at falling over.

Me: But does that make you bad, or just clumsy?

Nell: Potato, potahto.

Me: You always say that when you don’t have an answer.

Nell: Do you want honey, or jam on your bread roll?

Me: You’re ignoring me.

Nell: Make a decision, please. I don’t have all day.

Me: Honey. Sorry.