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Unexpected Visitors

Me: There was an awful lot of barking this morning. Has someone done something to annoy Poppy?

Nell: Why?

Me: She looks exceptionally fierce for a Friday morning.

Nell: She’s just getting into character I expect.

Me: Of a fierce animal?

Nell: Yes. The Evil Mrs Snow. Do keep up.

Me: It’s only that when I looked out of the window this morning I thought I saw Naughty Nigel.

Nell: What were you doing out of bed?

Me: It was all the barking, Nell. Was it Naughty Nigel?

Nell: Yes, of course it was. And Seamus and Boo. You know the three boys always visit us together.

Me: What a lovely surprise. I haven’t seen them for ages.

Nell: Yes, although Poppy could have been a little more welcoming.

Me: I knew something had annoyed her.

Nell: She says she hasn’t got enough meatballs for everyone now.

Me: You’ll just have to have two each instead of three.

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: It’s all about compromise, Nell.

Nell: Not when it comes to meatballs. Nobody can expect an animal to give up a meatball.

Me: I suppose not.

Nell: Anyway, Poppy is making some more. So, it’s all fine.

Me: It’s nearly Sunday, Nell. Only two more sleeps.

Nell: Yes, I am aware.

Me: It’s nearly time for the Conversations with Nell Christmas Special 2020.

Nell: I know it is.

Me: Everyone is going to finally hear you speak.

Nell: Yes, they are.

Me: I can’t wait. I’m so excited. I do hope they like it.

Nell: They will. Just calm down.

Me: I could hardly sleep last night. Kev and I listened to it and it sounded really good.

Nell: Of course, it did. It’s you and me and Christmas. What’s not good about that?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Behind You

Nell: Is David behind me?

Me: Not really. Why are you asking?

Nell: You are not very good at this, you know.

Me: Good at what?

Nell: You are supposed to shout ‘He’s behind you!’

Me: I didn’t want to give him away. He’s my Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I thought he might be going incognito and I didn’t want to spoil it.

Nell: Going incognito? What are you talking about? We are rehearsing some of his moves.

Me: What moves?

Nell: For the pantomime. You are supposed to give him away. You didn’t think I really couldn’t see him, did you? It is David we are talking about here.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: One of your pantomime duties will be to lead the audience so you will need to concentrate and get this right.

Me: I’m a bit tired, to be honest.

Nell: I don’t mean concentrate now. I mean during the performance.

Me: But I was supposed to shout just now.

Nell: That was just a gentle rehearsal next to your bed. A little warm up.

Me: I’ve just had a dreadful thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Am I the warm up act?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: The one who goes on before the show to get everyone excited.

Nell: I know what a warm up act is.

Me: Only I’m not very good at jokes, Nell.

Nell: You are not the warm up act and you are not going on stage.

Me: Ok.

Nell: Princess is doing that and she will also be in the audience. We might as well put those clapping skills of hers to use.

Me: That’s a relief. He’s still behind you, by the way.

Nell: You are going to have to work on this.

Me: I know. Sorry.

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Photos from Toronto

Me: Is Marvin auditioning for a shepherd?

Nell: No. We are not doing a Nativity this year.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Marvin knows you aren’t feeling well so he sent over these photos from Toronto on WoofsApp.

Me: This horrible stomach bug has really done me in, Nell. I’ve hardly slept.

Nell: That’s why we thought a photo of Marvin in a towel and another of him with Chris and Shannon in the snow might cheer you up.

Me: I love dogs in towels.

Nell: Yes, I know you do.

Me: And I love Chris and Shannon, and Marv too, of course.

Nell: Yes. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of our loved ones when we’re feeling a little low.

Me: Yes. You’re right.

Nell: Has it helped?

Me: Yes, it has.

Nell: Now, David has taken the early shift and will be monitoring you until lunchtime.

Me: I don’t think I need monitoring.

Nell: You most certainly do. We know what you’re like.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: You need to rest. The book can wait. Your deadline isn’t until 1st April 2021.

Me: I know but you wouldn’t believe how much there is to do.

Nell: No arguments. David will keep you warm and entertained.

Me: I don’t really need entertaining.

Nell: That’s what I said at Morning Thoughts but David insisted.

Me: He might get bored just watching over me.

Nell: Never mind. This is part of David’s penance for yesterday’s transgression.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: He opened more than one window on the Advent calendar.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He says the second window was by accident.

Me: Mistakes can happen, Nell. He probably thought a 7 was a 1.

Nell: It was 22 with a large treat inside.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.

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Thinking Thoughts

Me: Where is my Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Outside, Thinking Thoughts.

Me: Why can’t he think inside?

Nell: It’s too noisy and Thoughts are best Thought in the quiet.

Me: True, but it’s quite cold out there.

Nell: Not for a strong and noble animal like David.

Me: You are sounding rather profound this morning, Nell. What has Dave got to think about?

Nell: Opening the first window of the advent calendar, if you must know. He has been chosen to go first.

Me: Why hasn’t he already opened it?

Nell: A delayed treat is a delicious treat. David knows the moment before you eat a treat is almost better than the actual eating. So, he is Savouring the Moment.

Me: Are there treats in the calendar, then?

Nell: Of course, there are. Behind each window is a treat and a picture.

Me: It might be bacon.

Nell: You can’t put bacon in an advent calendar. The mere idea. Good grief. There are biscuits, scones, cheese straws and the odd macaron.

Me: I’m awfully impressed that he’s being so disciplined.

Nell: Yes. David has grown up a lot since we lost Mutley.

Me: Darling Mutley. I miss him so much, Nell.

Nell: We all do, but he’s watching over us now with the other Guardians. Anyway, what do you feel about ice skating?

Me: I beg your pardon?

Nell: Gladys thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

Me: It isn’t cold enough for skating.

Nell: According to Our Penguin these things can be organised nowadays.

Me: Will the ice skating be part of the pantomime?

Nell: Yes. The llamas are dreadfully keen.

Me: Count me out. I’m a dreadful skater.

Nell: The Talking Bowl is heard but not seen. How many times do I have to tell you?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Buying the Tree

Me: There’s nothing like a happy dog.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Harriet. Ears up and a big smile on her face.

Nell: She loves her walks.

Me: I enjoyed getting the tree yesterday.

Nell: You left me in the car.

Me: Shopping at the Garden Centre isn’t what it used to be. COVID19 has seen to that.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: You can’t dawdle.

Nell: I don’t dawdle.

Me: Anyway, we went for a lovely walk afterwards.

Nell: I used to enjoy the Garden Centre.

Me: I know you did.

Nell: A light lunch at the cafe and then a pleasant chat with Faye at The Barn.

Me: The Barn wasn’t open. We’re in lockdown.

Nell: Why were you there, then?

Me: We were allowed to buy our Christmas tree.

Nell: And candles?

Me: Yes, and some homemade dog biscuits.

Nell: I could have chosen those.

Me: You’ll be able to soon, Nell.

Nell: If I’m accompanying you on a jaunt, I expect to leave the car.

Me: It wasn’t a jaunt. It was more of a quick trundle.

Nell: And I do not expect to share the journey home with a spiky tree.

Me: There was plenty of room.

Nell: Would you like it if I said ‘Do join me on a trundle and you won’t mind if a cactus shares your seat.’

Me: It wasn’t a cactus. It looks beautiful now we’ve decorated it, though, doesn’t it?

Nell: Yes, it’s very Christmassy.

Me: And wasn’t it lovely to chat to Chris, Alice and the children on FaceTime?

Nell: David hogged the phone.

Me: He can’t help it. He’s such a Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: All in all it was a very pleasant day. Apart from the needles in my fur.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Secret is Out

Me: It’s Sunday today, Nell.

Nell: Yes, I know. It’s Sunday all day. The sun is shining through the morning mist and I can hear the Welsh corgi choir singing.

Me: It’s lovely to hear carols again, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes. Happy First Advent.

Me: Thank you and the same to you. But it’s Sunday, Nell. We can finally tell everyone about the surprise.

Nell: Well, go on then. Tell them.

Me: What? Me? Now?

Nell: Good grief. Get on with it.

Me: Next Sunday you’re finally going to hear Nell speak.

Nell: I’ve been doing that for years.

Me: I know but until now I’m the only one who has heard you.

Nell: They’ll be able to hear you as well.

Me: Never mind me.

Nell: I beg to differ. I couldn’t have done it without you. And an awful lot of help from Kev.

Me: He’s worked incredibly hard at producing this.

Nell: What we’re trying to say is, that as a surprise for you all, Sara has written an Audio Christmas Special 2020 which you will be able to listen to from next Sunday, 6th Dec.

Me: I thought it was about time you heard Nell’s voice.

Nell: And everyone needs a surprise at Christmas.

Me: Especially this year.

Nell: Yes. 2020 has turned out to be quite a difficult year for us all.

Me: It certainly has. But hearing Nell speak will make your Christmas a little brighter.

Nell: You flatter me.

Me: It’s true, Nell. You are such a comfort. I don’t know where I would be without you.

Nell: Anyway, we hope you enjoy the Christmas Special next Sunday.

Me: It will make you laugh.

Nell: And it will definitely make you cry.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. None at all.

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Bob is not my Uncle

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is looking awfully hungry.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: Dave is drooling again.

Nell: Stop waving a bacon sandwich at him then. Good grief.

Me: He’s already had two, Nell. This one is mine.

Nell: That’s a rather selfish start to the day.

Me: Unbelievable. I happen to know that you and Knitwear Wolf were cosily eating your sandwiches in front of the fire.

Nell: So?

Me: You didn’t offer any of yours to me.

Nell: You were writing upstairs.

Me: I was until Dave popped upstairs to tell me to hurry up and grab a sandwich before they had all gone. Bless him.

Nell: Hats off to David for ingenuity.

Me: Why?

Nell: You’ll weaken and he knows it. Now, have you told everyone about these Black Friday Weekend offers on your book yet?

Me: No.

Nell: The nice people at Gazelle Book Services are knocking 50% off the price of your book this weekend. All people have to do is enter the code GZBLACKF20.

Me: And Bob’s your uncle.

Nell: Bob is certainly not my uncle. He’s a retired ex services Border Terrier.

Me: It’s just a saying. Anyway, if anyone is thinking of buying the book as a Christmas present then please take advantage of this deal.

Nell: I think you shared the link in your story too.

Me: Yes, I did. Why have the Welsh corgi choir arrived? It’s not Sunday.

Nell: Costume fittings with The Cat. Some of their woolly jumpsuits are a little tight.

Me: I hate it when that happens.

Nell: Please tell me you’re not going to be wearing a woolly jumpsuit.

Me: No. Mine is silver like the Talking Bowl.

Nell: You are not going on stage. Especially in a silver jumpsuit.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

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Sharing

Me: I’m impressed with Harriet.

Nell: Why? Because she started barking from 7am again this morning?

Me: I wish she wouldn’t do that. No. When Tony arrives you all rush to the gate.

Nell: Of course we do. It’s Tony.

Me: Yes. But sometimes Poppy is busy in the kitchen so Harriet dashes back to get her.

Nell: Yes, Harriet likes us all to greet Tony. She wants us to share in the joy of his visit before David monopolises him.

Me: Yes. It’s kind of her.

Nell: We Labradors are devoted to the concept of Sharing, you know.

Me: I’m not sure about that, Nell. You can be rather territorial about a bone.

Nell: Why do you think we watch you when you eat?

Me: Because you’re greedy?

Nell: Greedy? How can you say such a thing? We’re merely showing our interest and we know food is there to be shared.

Me: Not my food.

Nell: Who is greedy now?

Me: You never let me eat in peace.

Nell: Do we howl at you?

Me: No.

Nell: Or bark in a rude, demanding way?

Me: Like Poppy, you mean?

Nell: Poppy can be a little too forceful.

Me: You all just gaze at me.

Nell: With love.

Me: For my food. Not me.

Nell: Nonsense. How many times have I heard you say that people show their love for each other through food?

Me: True. It’s one of the things I miss most. There’s nothing like a family meal, or dinner with friends. Thanksgiving is an example.

Nell: My point exactly. Food is meant to be shared. Not greedily scoffed with no thought for others.

Me: I don’t scoff, thank you very much.

Nell: You have your moments. Just appreciate our involvement. Remember Sharing is Caring.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Thanksgiving 2020

Nell: What on earth is all that noise?

Me: Well, the thing is, Nell.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: It’s Thanksgiving in the United States today.

Nell: Yes, I’m aware of that and I would like to wish all our dear friends from across the pond a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Me: Yes, although one of them is actually here.

Nell: Are we talking about the pug in a hat?

Me: Yes. Babycakes Gillespie.

Nell: So what is the thing, because there’s an awful lot of kerfuffle going on for a Thursday morning?

Me: Dave, Harriet, Gladys, The Cat and I thought we might celebrate with him because he’s so far from home.

Nell: So you formed a Thanksgiving committee?

Me: I wouldn’t call it a committee as such.

Nell: Is anyone else involved?

Me: Well, Poppy and Malcolm are preparing all the food with Manuel and Benjamin Seagull.

Nell: And Henry and Horst?

Me: They’ve been helping Knitwear Wolf and The Cat distribute Thanksgiving cardigans.

Nell: How are they doing that?

Me: On the back of the larger animals.

Nell: And Princess?

Me: She’s performing later with Gladys and the llamas. Dave has been persuaded to sing.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Our Penguin is filming it all.

Nell: All we are missing now is the Welsh corgi choir and the Whippets Institute.

Me: Don’t worry. They should be here soon. The minibus got stuck in traffic.

Nell: Why exactly was I not consulted?

Me: We thought you and Kev might be too busy with the surprise.

Nell: I’m never too busy to give thanks with friends and family. This year has been a dreadful one, but we still have each other and for that I am very grateful.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So, where’s my hat?

Me: I’ll get it. Sorry.

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Wednesday Views

Me: I’m very lucky to have this view when I’m writing. I love it so much.

Nell: I know you do.

Me: I think we’re going to have some sunshine today.

Nell: Yes. Harriet is sitting meekly outside on her lounger.

Me: Is she making her sweet little innocent face?

Nell: Yes.

Me: What did she do?

Nell: Barked repeatedly until everyone got up.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy is extremely grumpy. We had burnt toast and the boiled eggs were hard, not dippy.

Me: Gosh. Dave must have been disappointed.

Nell: He perked up after he heard Babycakes Gillespie had gone to get his bagel cart and some Starbarks coffees.

Me: Is that wise?

Nell: After the breakfast we’ve just had, it is essential. A Labrador cannot be expected to get through the day on burnt toast alone.

Me: True. Babycakes seems happier.

Nell: Yes, he and John the Doberman are getting along well, now that Poppy has made her choice.

Me: Has Manuel recovered from yesterday’s excitement on the beach?

Nell: He loved it. He keeps saying ‘Mr David. When we go chase Beefies again?’

Me: By the way, Kev says the surprise is finished.

Nell: What surprise?

Me: The one we’re giving everyone on 6th December.

Nell: That’s supposed to be a secret.

Me: I know but I can’t bear it any longer. I need to share it.

Nell: You are supposed to wait. We haven’t put in all these hours of work to have you just blurt it out.

Me: No. I’ve decided I’m going to tell everyone this Sunday what is happening next Sunday. We need something to look forward to more than ever this year, Nell.

Nell: I know. Ok, we’ll tell them this Sunday. You just can’t wait, can you?

Me: No. Sorry.