Nell is Concerned about Herr Hoffmann and Other Things

Me: Dave has the dearest ears of any animal I know.

Nell: Never mind that.

Me: When he was tiny they used to trail in the water bowl.

Nell: David was never tiny.

Me: Absolutely adorable. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: If you’ve quite finished I have something to discuss.

Me: Although he is looking a little worried. Did he eat Herr Hoffmann’s boiled egg again by mistake?

Nell: Only one of them and it’s bacon sandwiches for elevenses today because it’s the weekend so no one is going to starve.

Me: Good.

Nell: I want to talk about Herr Hoffmann.

Me: Don’t be jealous, Nell. He’s just a friend and he’s such a gentlemanly sort of bear.

Nell: So everyone keeps telling me. He and Rupert bonded over a shared love of Dickens.

Me: I knew he and Knitwear Wolf would get on well. So what’s bothering you?

Nell: He’s gone back to bed.

Me: Knitwear Wolf has a very busy life and it is Saturday.

Nell: Not Rupert. Herr Hoffmann. He’s fast asleep again and he’s only just finished his breakfast.

Me: I know you shouldn’t sleep on a full tummy but I don’t think it matters now and again.

Nell: He’s sleeping an awful lot and yawning when he’s awake.

Me: Being in another country with everyone talking a different language can be very tiring. I struggled at first when I moved to Berlin.

Nell: Rupert speaks German, so it isn’t that.

Me: Does he? I never knew.

Nell: And Herr Hoffmann understands more English than you think. He finds David very amusing.

Me: I think it’s lovely that you’re so concerned about him.

Nell: I’m concerned about my bedroom. Where am I going to go when I need some quiet?

Me: I don’t know. Sorry.


Who Dips their Paws in the Honey?

Nell: The weather yesterday was an unexpected bonus, wasn’t it?

Me: You certainly seemed to enjoy our walk by the river.

Nell: I find the grass nice and soft under paw.

Me: Harriet was in and out of the water as usual.

Nell: And David got himself wrapped around a tree trunk.

Me: I know. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Kev had to climb down to unwind the lead.

Nell: I don’t know why you and Kev shouted at me not to go into the river.

Me: It was deep and fast flowing after all the rain.

Nell: I’m glad I didn’t listen.

Me: And I’m glad you only had a brief paddle.

Nell: I know my limitations.

Me: Talking of limitations, I think all that travelling has completely exhausted Herr Hoffmann.

Nell: Why have you given him the front bedroom with the shiny red coverlet?

Me: He needed to sleep and he’s not the youngest of bears.

Nell: The front bedroom is my quiet place.

Me: I thought you wouldn’t mind. He really was very tired. He fell asleep in his cottage pie.

Nell: He seemed in good spirits at breakfast. Sharing boiled eggs and soldiers with David.

Me: I know it was sweet the way Dave bit the top off his egg for him, wasn’t it?

Nell: I’m not sure David should have eaten it.

Me: It’s an easy mistake to make. Herr Hoffmann found it funny.

Nell: And who dips their paws in the honey?

Me: He’s a bear. You don’t even like honey. You’re a marmalade sort of animal.

Nell: I thought bears liked marmalade.

Me: Only Paddington and his family.

Nell: We’re not expecting more of them, are we?

Me: No. Paddington lives in London with the Browns.

Nell: Why mention him then?

Me: Sorry.


There’s a Bear in the Kitchen

Nell: So, when were you going to tell me?

Me: Tell you what?

Nell: There’s an elderly bear sitting on a large suitcase in the kitchen.

Me: An elderly bear? Is he wearing a fetching hat?

Nell: Yes, and spectacles. He’s brought us a bag of freshly baked bread rolls.

Me: Oh, that’s so sweet of him.

Nell: We think he’s asking for a Berlin Breakfast but nobody speaks German except you.

Me: It has to be Herr Hoffmann. He’s finally arrived.

Nell: I didn’t even know he was coming.

Me: Neither did I. I knew he was spending a few days in Paris and he said he might hop on the Eurostar.

Nell: Bears don’t hop. Especially elderly ones.

Me: But he wasn’t specific. I expect he wanted to surprise me. Bless him.

Nell: I knew you were going to bring that bear back from Berlin.

Me: You’re going to love him, Nell. Trust me.

Nell: Well, you’d better get into the kitchen before chaos ensues.

Me: Why?

Nell: He’s asking for sausages and you know Poppy doesn’t do sausages on Thursdays.

Me: He’ll be talking about cold sausages, like salami.

Nell: For breakfast?

Me: It’s a German thing. He’ll be happy with some boiled eggs and a slice of ham and some cheese.

Nell: We might as well make a picnic.

Me: Now, that’s an idea. Although, the weather’s a bit iffy and he might be tired.

Nell: Iffy?

Me: Unreliable.

Nell: Maybe you should stop talking to me and go and welcome your friend.

Me: You’re right. He’ll be feeling rather lost.

Nell: He didn’t seem lost. He was chatting away to David when I came to get you.

Me: I didn’t know Dave spoke German.

Nell: He doesn’t. But he’s an excellent listener.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Shout it Out

Me: Can we discuss the sudden craziness, please?

Nell: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Me: You suddenly jumping up on the sofa like an animal possessed and barking like a banshee.

Nell: Oh that.

Me: For no apparent reason at all.

Nell: Not to you.

Me: There were no deliveries, or cats, or pigeons.

Nell: So?

Me: Harriet was completely nonplussed.

Nell: Nonsense.

Me: And then Poppy started singing.

Nell: I’m not sure you could call it singing.

Me: No. It was more of a mad bark.

Nell: We could have done with The Great Barberino.

Me: No, you couldn’t. You two were making quite enough noise on your own.

Nell: Sometimes you just need to let your hair down.

Me: But you’re of a certain age now, Nell.

Nell: Everyone needs a mad moment regardless of age. You should try it sometime.

Me: I’m not sure about that.

Nell: Go out into the field, and have a jolly good bark.

Me: I can’t.

Nell: Not literally. A shout will do.

Me: I might scare the sheep.

Nell: Nothing bothers them. Trust me. They’re used to the llamas cartwheeling.

Me: They thought I was the farmer yesterday.

Nell: Why?

Me: I was doing my daily walk in my wellies and rain jacket because of the weather and they followed me.

Nell: They follow anyone. They’re sheep.

Me: They followed me in a keen sort of way.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: They don’t bother when I’m in shorts and t-shirt. I think I had something farmery about me.

Nell: There’s no such word.

Me: There is now.

Nell: I’m serious about the mad moment. Shout it out.

Me: Now?

Nell: No time like the present. The field’s free. Go on. What are you waiting for?

Me: Okay. Sorry.


Jonathan is Seven

Me: I can’t believe Jonathan is seven today. Where did the time go?

Nell: I’ve written him a poem. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: Then I will begin.

‘Good morning, dear friend,

Have you something to say?’

‘Yes. Jonathan Sky is seven today.’

‘Seven today? How can that be?

The last time I saw him

I’m sure he was three.’

‘Don’t be so silly.

Fayely is four.

So Jonathan has to be

Very much more.’

‘Oh yes, you’re right.

So what’s to be done?

We must have some cake.

And a party and fun.’

‘The party’s arranged

And it’s all about trains

Because Ticket to Ride

Is Johnny’s favourite game.’

‘Did you just say Johnny?’

‘Yes, that’s what he’s called

By Fayely, and Mummy and Papa

And all.’

‘Do Granny and Grandpa say Johnny too?

And Harriet and Dave and Poppy

And you?’

‘I say what I like

As you well know

But in this case

I shall go with the flow.’

‘We need to wear orange.

Where is your hat?’

‘I’m not sure I have one.’

‘Go and ask The Cat.

It always has hats

In its dressing up box

And sequins and glitter

And colourful socks.’

‘I don’t think it matters

What we actually wear

It’s all about love

And showing we care.’

‘Well, my present to Johnny

On the day he turns seven

Is the love we are sending

From his family in Devon.’

‘It’s not just in Devon.

Johnny’s loved far and wide.

He couldn’t be loved more.

Believe me, we’ve tried.

So Happy Birthday to you

Our magical boy.

Have a wonderful day

Full of happiness and joy.’

Me: That’s perfect, Nell. He’s going to love it.

Nell: Almost as much as we love him?

Me: No. That’s impossible. Sorry.


David is Not Amused

Me: Dave’s looking awfully serious this morning. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Do you think it’s because it’s Monday?

Nell: Why?

Me: That’s what I’m asking you.

Nell: I meant what’s wrong with Monday?

Me: Nobody likes Mondays. Especially when it’s grey and rainy.

Nell: I don’t mind Mondays at all. New day, new beginning.

Me: Good attitude.

Nell: Thank you. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the day of the week. David is Mayor of Kingsbridge and has heavy responsibilities.

Me: Such as?

Nell: Looking after the townsfolk.

Me: Townsfolk?

Nell: Stop repeating everything I say.

Me: I noticed Dave was keeping an eye on the stuffed tiger.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: He knows it’s feeling bereft now that Bumper has returned to the US.

Nell: It doesn’t have feelings. It’s a toy.

Me: That’s what you think. Look at its poor little face.

Nell: Do stop.

Me: Is Dave worried about me?

Nell: Should he be?

Me: No, but I’m one of the townsfolk. Maybe it’s Tony?

Nell: It’s nobody in particular. David just wants everyone to be happy.

Me: Bless him. That’s never going to happen. There’s always a Grumbly Guts somewhere.

Nell: Grumbly Guts? What’s indigestion got to do with it?

Me: I mean bad tempered. Someone’s always going to complain. You can never please everyone.

Nell: Well, David wants to try.

Me: I still think he looks annoyed.

Nell: It might be Lionel, I suppose.

Me: Lionel King?

Nell: He’s suggested filming Raiders of the Lost Bark on the main beach. The island would look wonderful in the background and Snoopy and Lucy agree.

Me: What’s wrong with that?

Nell: Dogs aren’t allowed on the main beach until October.

Me: So Dave can’t film there?

Nell: No. But lions can.

Me: I see. Sorry.


Autumn is Here

Me: Autumn is suddenly here.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Did you hear the thunderstorm last night?

Nell: Of course. I may be getting older but my hearing is excellent.

Me: If you say so.

Nell: Stop mumbling.

Me: Only a few days ago I was gazing at the sunshine on the fields and now I can hardly see them through the rain.

Nell: I’m glad the Welsh Corgi Choir are wearing their yellow raincoats and hats.

Me: We should really move Sunday Songs to the barn when the weather’s like this.

Nell: They don’t mind. As long as there’s a hot cup of tea and some shortbread later they’ll be fine.

Me: Rather them than me.

Nell: Poppy’s going to make some roast beef sandwiches for their tea, too.

Me: Good.

Nell: Rupert will bike them over after lunch.

Me: Bless him. He’s such a kind wolf.

Nell: Talking of songs, Snoopy and Lucy want the Welsh Corgi Choir to sing the soundtrack for Raiders of the Lost Bark.

Me: How lovely. Do you need anyone to write the words?

Nell: Don’t even think about it. You’re working on the animation series as well as posting conversations every day.

Me: I rather fancy turning my hand to some song lyrics.

Nell: I’m the poet here.

Me: True.

Nell: Have you posted the link to the funding recently? Every penny donated is a step closer to having the animation series become a reality.

Me: People have been so generous already.

Nell: Your followers are growing and some might not have seen the link.

Me: It’s: https://gofund.me/42cc1159

Nell: Good. We’re all in this together and we’re nearly half way there.

Me: It still feels like a dream at the moment.

Nell: It will happen. Trust me. We can do this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nell is in a Very Good Mood

Me: Look at you having cuddles with Tony.

Nell: He’s not only David’s friend, you know.

Me: Pushing your way through.

Nell: I simply made myself known to him. Tony and I have a special bond.

Me: Dave might be feeling a little jealous now.

Nell: He’ll have to deal with it.

Me: How’s Harriet dealing with Bumper leaving?

Nell: She’s sad but she understands. His home is in the US.

Me: Yes, and they can still write to each other.

Nell: It’s more FaceTiming and texting nowadays.

Me: I know but writing sounds more romantic.

Nell: Let’s leave romance out of it, please. They’re just friends.

Me: That wasn’t what I meant.

Nell: I know.

Me: You’ve been in a very good mood recently. I think it’s because you’ve lost weight and are feeling a little lighter on your paws.

Nell: You’ve lost weight too.

Me: It’s all the walking.

Nell: Keep it up.

Me: I will.

Nell: Poppy has applied for stage manager.

Me: I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Nell.

Nell: It isn’t. Poppy has far too much to do already.

Me: And she’s a bit too fierce.

Nell: She threw a bagel at Babycakes Gillespie this morning. It knocked his hat off.

Me: Why?

Nell: She was aiming at a Beefy and he got in the way.

Me: Are the Beefies still wearing napkins around their necks?

Nell: No. They’ve moved on to medallions.

Me: Beefies love a bit of bling.

Nell: They’re in the shape of a large B. How tacky is that?

Me: It is a bit.

Nell: You wouldn’t catch me with an N around my neck.

Me: Dave wears a silver chain.

Nell: It’s his mayoral chain. That’s completely different.

Me: Except it isn’t.

Nell: Don’t start that again.

Me: Sorry.


David takes it Very Seriously

Me: Is Dave playing Cowardy Custard with Walter Pigeon again?

Nell: Yes. He’s been out there since breakfast.

Me: One of them is going to have to look away soon.

Nell: It won’t be David. He takes the game very seriously.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Walter only does it to annoy. He’ll get bored soon and fly off.

Me: I wonder how they decide when the game begins.

Nell: It’s from the moment you lock eyes.

Me: But how do you know the other person is playing? If they’re not, they’re going to find you staring at them like that very odd.

Nell: They look away and you’ve won. That’s all that matters.

Me: You’re very good at it.

Nell: Yes, I am.

Me: You were doing it to Alice yesterday morning when she was eating her cereal.

Nell: I was not.

Me: You were giving her an unwavering stare. Were you begging?

Nell: I was being supportive.

Me: Is that why she shared it with you?

Nell: Alice likes to share. She’s a sweet girl.

Me: Well, she’s safely home with her little family now.

Nell: Which is exactly where she should be.

Me: Yes. Did Harriet have a lovely day with Jim the Farm Dog?

Nell: She did, which is particularly important after Bumper’s news.

Me: What news?

Nell: He’s decided to return to the US.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Much as he loved being with us all, duty calls and he must return.

Me: But what about the stage manager job?

Nell: We’re going to have to advertise.

Me: And the stuffed tiger? It’s going to be devastated to see him go.

Nell: It’s not real, you know.

Me: It is to me.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Sorry.


She’ll be Back

Nell: It’s very early.

Me: I know but we have to take Alice to the station.

Nell: Not for a couple of hours.

Me: I couldn’t sleep, Nell. Lots of thoughts were milling around in my head.

Nell: Nothing new there.

Me: No. Sometimes it’s just easier to get up and write them down.

Nell: We had a lovely time at the activity field yesterday, didn’t we?

Me: We did. You were extremely sprightly and Poppy positively skipped along. I know you’re trying to cheer me up.

Nell: Is it working?

Me: Not really. I’m awfully sad that Alice is going.

Nell: I know you are but she needs to get back to Andre and the children and her life in Germany.

Me: She does.

Nell: They’re going to be so excited to have her home.

Me: Yes, and she will be happy to see them.

Nell: Which is just as it should be.

Me: It is.

Nell: I think today might have to be a Cuddling Day.

Me: Is there such a thing?

Nell: Of course. David will play a vital part but I shall be there for chats and Poppy will provide tea and scones.

Me: What about Harriet?

Nell: She’s spending the day with Jim the Farm Dog.

Me: Is she, indeed?

Nell: After her talk with Sally she realised she had a handsome suitor on her doorstep.

Me: Exactly.

Nell: So when he knocked on the door with a bunch of wild flowers she was delighted to see him.

Me: Nice touch.

Nell: Rupert’s idea.

Me: Good old Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Less of the old, please.

Me: Noted.

Nell: The time just before you say goodbye is always the most difficult.

Me: It is.

Nell: She’ll be back.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No sorries. Not today.