Sunday Morning Exercises

Me: What is going on?

Nell: David fell asleep during Sunday Morning Exercises.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He was doing really well on his Back Twirling, although I don’t think he needs to sing along, but then he turned over and went to sleep.

Me: I’m glad you’re all exercising though.

Nell: It’s important. Our walks have reduced so we need to keep fit and healthy.

Me: Who is running the exercise class?

Nell: It’s online. Our Penguin did the filming with Gladys and her team and the Welsh Corgi choir are providing the backing music.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought of the Welsh Corgi choir as fitness experts.

Nell: They aren’t, but they can belt out a tune when needed. You should hear their version of ‘Stayin Alive’.

Me: Very appropriate. Who else is on Gladys’s team?

Nell: She has covered all shapes and sizes.

Me: Good.

Nell: We have Alejandro the alpaca and Monty the moose representing the larger animals and Mutley the seniors.

Me: Excellent.

Nell: Malcolm the flamingo and Ginger the Canada goose are covering the larger birds. Timothy refused.

Me: He’s quite a reclusive turkey.

Nell: Yes, and he has his art classes. Owl Pacino and Tawny Tim are encouraging the smaller birds and Susan is bravely representing the seagulls as we live by the sea.

Me: Even the Beefies?

Nell: After much discussion we decided that we are all in this together and if there are any Beefies self isolating at the moment then they should be included.

Me: That’s admirable.

Nell: The Cat is covering the felines and Henry and Horst the insects.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought woodlice could do a lot of moves.

Nell: Then you would be wrong. Henry in particular is astonishingly flexible.

Me: Gosh. Sorry.


Dave is exhausted

Nell: David fell asleep during Morning Thoughts again. Harriet and I were in the middle of a deep discussion and he started snoring.

Me: He’s probably exhausted trying to Keep Us All Safe.

Nell: He’s exhausted after staying up late with Gladys watching Petflix.

Me: It doesn’t matter, Nell. Let them have their fun.

Nell: You know they made bacon sandwiches at midnight?

Me: I thought I could smell bacon.

Nell: Mutley joined them. He thought it was the morning.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Joyce was not amused.

Me: Did you find out what she and Myfanwy were fighting about?

Nell: Yes. Myfanwy wants to join Knitwear Wolf on his rounds but she is not a key worker and should be staying home.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Joyce told her she was irresponsible but she says she can’t bear to be without him.

Me: Well, I have to say I am on Joyce’s side. We are all struggling with not seeing loved ones at the moment but we have no choice.

Nell: Yes. She is putting herself and others in danger. Knitwear Wolf has told her to stay home so hopefully she will listen.

Me: How is Dave coping without Sally?

Nell: He misses her dreadfully but she is needed in London. And there’s always bacon.

Me: When did Joyce move in, by the way?

Nell: A while ago. Mutley needs a lot of care now he is getting frailer so she offered to help.

Me: Maybe Myfanwy needs to move in with Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Stop meddling.

Me: It’s very hard not to be with the ones you love, Nell.

Nell: We have the technology to keep in touch. Use it to let people know you are there for them. We are in this together.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


Taking Selfies in the Sunshine

Nell: What on earth have you and David been up to?

Me: We were taking a few selfies in the sunshine but they kept on going wrong.

Nell: I can see that.

Me: Dave was trying to get my glasses because I couldn’t see, so I had to close one eye.

Nell: Where were your glasses?

Me: On my head which made us laugh. Then Dave stuck his tongue out.

Nell: Which made you laugh again?

Me: Yes, and then Dave had to close one eye.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: When I found my glasses Dave had gone, so Harriet gave me a kiss instead.

Nell: Well, don’t disturb David again, please. He has important work to do.

Me: More llamas in pyjamas?

Nell: Worse.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: Our Penguin filmed a very heated argument.

Me: Not the larger beasts? Only Monty and Olive are finding Alejandro’s singing a little tiring. Moose and reindeer aren’t really used to alpacas.

Nell: No. Monty did mention on our WoofsApp group that there are only so many times one can listen to ‘Guantanamera’ but it wasn’t them.

Me: Not Henry and Horst? They are such peaceful woodlice.

Nell: No. They are a little concerned about their cousin Horace who was seen out when he shouldn’t have been, but they are fine otherwise.

Me: Who was it then?

Nell: Joyce and Myfanwy. Shouting at each other. Knitwear Wolf had to intervene.

Me: Yes, because if you count Our Penguin filming that makes three and you’re only allowed two. In fact if you count Knitwear Wolf it makes four.

Nell: They were keeping to the two metre rule. The question is, what were they shouting about?

Me: Don’t ask me.

Nell: I’m not asking you. It was a rhetorical question.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Keeping us Safe

Me: How is my Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: He is outside on his lounger Keeping us Safe.

Me: That’s quite a lot for a pup to do.

Nell: Firstly, David is not a pup. He will be 3 in June. Secondly, he is in need of Distraction.

Me: Aren’t we all?

Nell: Exactly. If there isn’t enough Distraction people tend to Dwell. And not on the good things.

Me: True.

Nell: David has been tasked with Watching and Waiting.

Me: That’s ever so hard, Nell. He finds it really difficult to wait for anything.

Nell: Harriet goes out to see him regularly with her notebook and they record what he has seen.

Me: Anything interesting yet?

Nell: Three Beefies wearing sombreros flouted the social distancing rules but dispersed after a warning bark.

Me: Seagulls in sombreros? An interesting choice of hat. Maybe because it’s sunny.

Nell: Just showing off I suspect. You know what they’re like.

Me: At least they weren’t throwing mackerel. Anything else?

Nell: A couple of llamas in pyjamas as usual.

Me: A lot of people can’t be bothered to get dressed at the moment.

Nell: Well, they should. They’ll feel much better if they do.

Me: Everyone needs a pyjama day now and again.

Nell: But not every day. Those llamas are becoming lazy. I may have to have a word.

Me: You’re not allowed, Nell. No groups of more than two except from the same family.

Nell: I have a carrying voice. If needed I shall call to them from the garden.

Me: What are you going to say? ‘Take those pyjamas off, you lazy llamas.’ What if they do? We can’t have naked llamas wandering around.

Nell: Naked llamas? Don’t be ridiculous. All llamas have coats. Do keep up.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.


Let’s appreciate what we have

Nell: You could have edited out my nose in that first photo.

Me: I love your nose.

Nell: At least Harriet looks lovely as always.

Me: So does your nose. I enjoyed our walk together so much.

Nell: Yes. It is interesting how precious everything becomes when we can’t just have it whenever we want to.

Me: It is.

Nell: Like Nature and the countryside.

Me: I’m afraid we’ve taken it for granted in the past.

Nell: Or spending time with our family and friends.

Me: Yes. Thank goodness for social media and the internet.

Nell: We need to look out for each other as much as we can.

Me: We really do, Nell, because the world is a little scary at the moment.

Nell: It’s a lot less scarier if we face it together.

Me: True.

Nell: We are all going to be much changed when this is over, you know.

Me: Yes. I think we are.

Nell: I’m sure of it. There is a strange healing going on. In Nature and in ourselves. We are becoming aware of what really matters.

Me: Like kindness?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: And cake.

Nell: Indeed.

Me: Did I tell you I talked to the publishers yesterday evening?

Nell: No. What did they say?

Me: The books are on their way to the US and will hopefully be with everyone at the end of next month as planned.

Nell: Excellent.

Me: If people haven’t preordered they can get them through their local bookshops, or directly from Schiffer Publishing in the US, or Gazelle Book Services in the UK.

Nell: What about Amazon?

Me: Probably, but they are having to prioritise.

Nell: I’m sure people will find the book a great comfort.

Me: I do hope so.

Nell: I know so.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Trust in Spring

Nell: I was sitting outside in the front garden this morning…

Me: Looking very lovely, if I may so.

Nell: Why, thank you.

Me: Especially the crossed paws.

Nell: A lady remains elegant at all times. May I continue?

Me: Of course.

Nell: And I was marvelling at the colours of spring.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It is an optimistic season and we need a little more optimism in our lives at the moment.

Me: It’s very hard to be optimistic, Nell.

Nell: I know, but sometimes it’s the little things that can lift your spirits. An unexpected kindness, a phone call from a friend, or a fresh egg.

Me: A fresh egg?

Nell: Yes. Knitwear Wolf and the Farm Dogs have managed to track some down.

Me: How wonderful.

Nell: So Poppy and Malcolm have been busy making cakes.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: As I explained to the puppies at Morning Thoughts, there are times when we eat healthily and times when we need cake.

Me: We definitely need cake.

Nell: Do you remember visiting your mother in the hospice during her last days when those ladies came in to the room with cake and tea?

Me: Yes, I do. They were smiley and kind and the tea was in a proper teapot and there were pretty cups and saucers and a selection of cakes to choose from.

Nell: Yes, there were.

Me: It meant a lot to us. Their kindness.

Nell: I know it did. Cake can do that.

Me: It can.

Nell: So, I think a little cake is called for at the moment.

Me: It is.

Nell: And kindness. To ourselves as well as to others. Trust in spring and its optimism. It knows better times are ahead if we just weather this storm together.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Birthday dear Chris

Me: That’s Chris with Baby Dave and Baby Harriet.

Nell: Yes, as it’s his birthday today I thought you might like to see these photos.

Me: Gosh. So much has happened since those photos were taken.

Nell: To be perfectly honest so much has happened in the last week.

Me: True. I can’t get my head around it all.

Nell: Then don’t try. Just stay home and stay safe and if you are in the garden wear sunglasses and a hard hat.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. The Beefies are throwing eggs. Gladys managed to catch one with her lacrosse stick.

Me: How can you catch an egg with a stick?

Nell: A lacrosse stick has a net on the end. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know Gladys played lacrosse.

Nell: Oh yes. She and Poppy are both in the Whippets Institute team.

Me: But they aren’t whippets.

Nell: Do you think Manchester United only have players from Manchester?

Me: When you put it like that.

Nell: Now, I’ve written a poem for Chris. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Happy Birthday dear Chris, I think it’s fair to say

That you will be having an odd sort of day.

You can’t party with friends, or go to the lake

But you have Marvin and Shannon

And there is definitely cake.

And even though Toronto is a long way away

We are with you in spirit on your special day.

Our paws are around you and we need you to know

That you are our Chris and we all love you so.

This too will pass.

It isn’t for ever.

Stay safe and stay strong

We are in this together.’

Me: We can do this, can’t we Nell?

Nell: We are doing it.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Mother’s Day

Me: Nell and I would like to wish all you mothers, near and far, a Happy Mother’s Day. Even if it is a little different this year.

Nell: What on earth are you wearing?

Me: It’s my new spy hat. Not as all encasing as the other one, but still effective.

Nell: It’s a monkey.

Me: I thought it was a sheep.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Well, we’re only going for a walk in the meadows. You look lovely as always.

Nell: Thank you. Now, I know this is going to be a difficult day for many mothers as they won’t be spending it with their families.

Me: Unless they are lucky enough to have an animal family too, like me.

Nell: Correct, but it is important for you all to know that people are showing their love for you by keeping away and staying home.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Because by doing that they are keeping you safe.

Me: It’s ever so hard, though.

Nell: Important things usually are.

Me: True.

Nell: So you may not be seeing your children or grandchildren today but, as I told you before, if you close your eyes for a moment you will feel their paws around you.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, Poppy is preparing a special Mother’s Day breakfast for us all.

Me: We don’t have any eggs.

Nell: We have something much more exciting, thanks to Knitwear Wolf.

Me: We can’t eat cardigans.

Nell: No. Bacon.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: Didn’t you hear David’s triumphant bark earlier?

Me: I did wonder.

Nell: So how about a bacon sandwich and a nice cup of tea by the fire?

Me: That sounds lovely. Will there be cuddles?

Nell: There are always cuddles. Just close your eyes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Out of the Ordinary

Me: Harriet seems focussed.

Nell: Yes. She’s on duty.

Me: Is she spying?

Nell: She is keeping an eye out for anything Out of the Ordinary. It might help us in our search for The Hunter.

Me: Is anything ever ordinary around here, though?

Nell: It is all relative. What may seem extraordinary to some is perfectly normal to others.

Me: I noticed Our Penguin isn’t filming today.

Nell: It’s having tea and toast with Timothy.

Me: Some people would say a penguin having tea with a turkey was out of the ordinary.

Nell: Then they would be wrong. There are no eggs, by the way.

Me: No eggs? There are always eggs.

Nell: Not at the moment. Someone has stolen them.

Me: What about Dave’s breakfast?

Nell: He had some cereal earlier and Poppy is making him toast and marmite for elevenses. If we stagger his feeding times he will cope.

Me: But who stole the eggs?

Nell: We suspect the Beefies are behind it. They’ve got fat faces and are being very quiet.

Me: Did you just say they’ve got fat faces?

Nell: Yes. If you had an egg in your mouth you’d have a fat face, too.

Me: Why are they stealing eggs?

Nell: Who knows? To make cakes and omelettes, or just simply to annoy.

Me: Wretched creatures.

Nell: It’s Romeo and the toilet paper all over again, if you ask me.

Me: Do you mean Romeo the Beefy in a long black wig? I didn’t know he stole toilet paper.

Nell: He does it all the time. It’s a Beefy thing. Do keep up.

Me: So nothing Out of the Ordinary?

Nell: No.

Me: No wonder Harriet is focussed.

Nell: Did David just walk past carrying Gladys in my handbag? Wearing hats?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Making Do

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David thought a photo of him might lift your spirits.

Me: He’s right. Sweet boy with his film star looks.

Nell: Anyway, now that everyone is home safely we can turn our attention to the job at hand.

Me: What job?

Nell: Finding The Hunter. He, or she, is definitely out there and up to no good.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Some animals are behaving very badly indeed.

Me: Really?

Nell: Two Weimaraners had a fight in the supermarket over some pasta.

Me: Spaghetti?

Nell: No. Penne if you must know, but that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: There is no need to fight.

Me: Certainly not. If you can’t get Penne, there’s always Fusilli, or those shell ones.

Nell: That’s not the point either.

Me: Oh.

Nell: Life is too short for fighting. If you can’t have something then you need to make do. Make the best of what you’ve got.

Me: If life gives you lemons make lemonade.

Nell: I’m not very keen on lemonade. If life gave me lemons I would ask Poppy to make a lemon drizzle cake.

Me: That’s a good idea.

Nell: David, for instance, is coping with a lack of bacon for breakfast.

Me: Good boy.

Nell: He had cereal and two boiled eggs instead.

Me: Dippy ones with soldiers?

Nell: Of course. And he didn’t complain. We were discussing ‘Making Do’ at Morning Thoughts and he obviously took my advice to heart. Unlike The Cat.

Me: What’s wrong with The Cat?

Nell: The supply of sequins is running low and it is being ridiculously hysterical about it.

Me: Yes, but sequins are like bacon to The Cat.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. The Cat hates bacon. It’s smoked salmon or nothing.

Me: Never mind. Sorry.