Back to Square One

Nell: I need a serious word with you right now. No arguments.

Me: Let me tell you about my pocketful of happiness first.

Nell: Fine, but I’m not going to let this go.

Me: I was sitting in the activity field with you yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine wearing my hat and watching the puppies and Poppy playing.

Nell: It was good to be out.

Me: And then you ambled over to get them and I called you and you all came running towards me.

Nell: Less of the ambled please, I like to take my time in the field which is something you should be doing too.

Me: And as I watched you I realised how lucky I am to have you all in my life. You are such a joy.

Nell: And then things went very wrong.

Me: Don’t scold me.

Nell: Because when we got home you decided you were going to cook.

Me: I know.

Nell: And you began emptying the dishwasher.

Me: I did.

Nell: Which was a foolish thing to do on so many levels.

Me: I know.

Nell: It’s not your job. You’re not even a member of the washing up team. Manuel is in charge of that.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And your back started to spasm again.

Me: It did. Very badly.

Nell: And we were back to square one.

Me: Yes. It was awful.

Nell: Kev was annoyed with you.

Me: Yes, he was.

Nell: We all were. Even David.

Me: Dave still sat with me later. You all did.

Nell: You are doing nothing today.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And I mean nothing. Apart from the occasional walking around. No carrying, or bending, or lifting.

Me: I promise.

Nell: When you’re in pain we’re in pain. Understood?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What a Day!

Nell: What’s David doing in your bed and why aren’t you in it?

Me: He’s just keeping it warm for me. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I’m calling him Doctor David.

Nell: How are you feeling?

Me: Much better. Yesterday was quite a day.

Nell: You can say that again. There we were quietly enjoying our elevenses when you start wailing.

Me: I was in dreadful pain, Nell. I really was. I thought I was going to faint.

Nell: I know.

Me: I must have pulled a muscle in my back and it went all down into my leg. It was excruciating.

Nell: We’d finally managed to get you settled when the next thing we knew two impossibly handsome young men were making their way upstairs to your bedroom.

Me: They were doctors, Nell. But yes, they could have easily played the lead in Bridgerton.

Nell: It was kind of them to visit you.

Me: They wanted to check it wasn’t anything serious and I wasn’t able to get to the surgery as I was in such pain.

Nell: They were certainly here very quickly.

Me: Yes. Thank goodness for the NHS.

Nell: The main thing is everything is under control now.

Me: It is and I’m a lot better today. I just have to take things easy and keep taking my medication.

Nell: You really haven’t had the best of times recently, have you?

Me: No, I haven’t. Something good needs to happen.

Nell: It will. Trust me.

Me: In the meantime cuddles with Doctor David are helping.

Nell: I’m afraid David has a busy schedule today. You can’t expect the Mayor of Kingsbridge to spend all day in bed.

Me: Except he isn’t actually the mayor.

Nell: Drink your tea before it gets cold, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Gazebos and Toast

Me: My pocketful of happiness today is that the new gazebo has arrived and I can sit outside safely and read.

Nell: Tony was impressed with it.

Me: He was. When Kev first started putting it up I thought it was going to be too big but it’s actually perfect.

Nell: Yes, there’s plenty of room for us all under it.

Me: And the sun worshippers can still enjoy a little sunbathing.

Nell: I presume you’re referring to David.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He loves the warmth of the sun on his fur.

Nell: He overheats. Silly animal.

Me: Says the Labrador with an electric blanket on her sofa.

Nell: Chloe says it’s good for my arthritis.

Me: The grandchildren loved it when they were visiting. They were all warm and toasty.

Nell: Talking of toast, what do you prefer with your boiled egg?

Me: Soldiers to dip in.

Nell: Obviously, but toasted or untoasted?

Me: It depends on the bread. If it’s fresh then definitely untoasted with lots of butter but if it’s a bit stale then toasted.

Nell: Crusts on or off?

Me: Off, please.

Nell: I’m not making you boiled eggs and soldiers.

Me: Why ask?

Nell: My friend Dorothy and I are doing a survey. She thinks people prefer a bread roll with their eggs, or even no bread at all.

Me: That’s shocking.

Nell: Exactly what I said.

Me: Where did she get that idea from?

Nell: Naughty Nigel I expect. He’s on some kind of health kick and has been filling her head with nonsense.

Me: So Dorothy and Nigel are still a thing?

Nell: If you mean are they stepping out together then yes, they are.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: It’s Dorothy and Nigel not Romeo and Juliet.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Many Pocketfuls of Happiness

Me: I’ve got many pocketfuls of happiness today.

Nell: That’s good to hear.

Me: The beauty of Devon in May with its lush green grass.

Nell: Yes. It’s delightful under paw.

Me: The amazing sight of all those little sailing boats wending their way past River Beach.

Nell: They were lovely to see and their laughter and enjoyment was a pleasure to hear too.

Me: And the unexpected kindness of someone who knew I needed cheering up.

Nell: You’d better explain to everyone.

Me: Well, I received a call on Monday from Sarah who owns the Cottage Hotel with her brother William to tell me someone had left me some flowers at reception.

Nell: How very kind.

Me: Yes. They didn’t want to be named and they didn’t leave a note but they read my posts and knew I was going through rather a tough time at the moment.

Nell: You are.

Me: So yesterday you, Kev and I went to collect the flowers and we had a lovely lunch on the terrace.

Nell: You were wearing long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses, Factor 50 suncream and sitting under a parasol, in case anyone is worried.

Me: Yes, I’m being very careful. You make sure of that.

Nell: Skin cancer is not something to be trifled with.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: Have you put that cream on your nose?

Me: Yes. I look like I’ve been in a fight.

Nell: It’s burning the cancer away. That’s all that matters. And you’ve only got one more week of it to go.

Me: Anyway, the flowers are beautiful and whoever left them for me thank you so much.

Nell: People can be very kind if you let them.

Me: They certainly can.

Nell: You’re greatly loved you know.

Me: Yes. Thank you.


A Carpet of Flowers and a Mayoral Chain

Me: My pocketful of happiness today is seeing all the flowers growing on the hill near the beach.

Nell: They were beautiful.

Me: Yes. Like a carpet of loveliness.

Nell: Harriet ran straight into the sea as usual.

Me: Yes, I was still on the top of the cliffs and she was already in the water.

Nell: You were rather slow.

Me: I wanted to take my time and enjoy it all. It feels like everyone rushes everywhere nowadays.

Nell: You’re right.

Me: Gosh. It’s not often I hear you say that.

Nell: Have you spoken to David recently?

Me: We shared a couple of boiled eggs at breakfast.

Nell: When you say ‘shared’, do you mean he ate yours?

Me: I’d almost finished.

Nell: How did he seem?

Me: A little bit frazzled, if I’m honest.

Nell: Being Mayor of Kingsbridge is definitely taking its toll.

Me: Except he isn’t actually the Mayor.

Nell: So many responsibilities and then the latest problem with the mayoral chain.

Me: What problem? And it isn’t a mayoral chain, it’s a safety chain.

Nell: They promised him it wouldn’t rust.

Me: Rust?

Nell: He would never have gone swimming in it had he known.

Me: I’m a bit annoyed about that too.

Nell: How can a mayor expect his people to listen with a rusty chain?

Me: His people?

Nell: The townsfolk of Kingsbridge and beyond are all relying on their mayor to guide them through.

Me: Through what?

Nell: Fortunately The Cat has several sparkling chains in its dressing up box so we can replace it if needs be.

Me: It’s not for decoration, Nell.

Nell: I feel bacon might be needed to get us through the day.

Me: You’re not the Mayor. Dave is.

Nell: Glad you’ve noticed.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Shouting at Sheep

Nell: You look thoughtful.

Me: I’ve been lying here in the tiny part of the bed Harriet has kindly left me watching the sheep in the field with Poppy.

Nell: Poppy’s asleep.

Me: She is now but she wasn’t earlier.

Nell: I know. She and Manuel were in the kitchen making bread.

Me: Being an octopus must be an advantage.

Nell: Poppy says Manuel is quick but not always thorough. She’s been showing him how to knead the dough.

Me: Well, after that she came upstairs and shouted at the sheep.

Nell: I don’t know why she thinks they can hear her.

Me: Everyone else can.

Nell: I’ve told her repeatedly to leave that kind of thing to the farm dogs but she won’t listen.

Me: Poppy doesn’t do listening. She’s a Show and Tell kind of girl.

Nell: She certainly didn’t enjoy school.

Me: I can’t imagine Poppy at school.

Nell: When I was teaching the puppies I found her very disruptive.

Me: What did she do?

Nell: Interrupted lessons dressed as a pirate waving her sword and telling them to stop wasting time on books and to get out into the real world.

Me: Sounds like something you say to me.

Nell: You have too much imagination for your own good sometimes.

Me: Only sometimes?

Nell: The occasional escape into a fantasy world is allowed but you must keep your feet firmly on the ground and it’s my job to make sure you do.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: Talking of ground, we need to find £15,000,000.

Me: 15 million pounds?

Nell: Yes. Burgh Island is up for sale along with the hotel.

Me: I’m afraid we’re struggling to stay here in our cottage. We don’t have that kind of money.

Nell: One can still dream.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy International Mother’s Day

Me: Have you been out in the field already this morning? Your fur’s damp.

Nell: I wanted to welcome Poppy back from Eurovision.

Me: I thought I heard her helicopter. She must have left Liverpool really early.

Nell: She wanted to get home as soon as possible.

Me: She must be exhausted. I felt tired just watching it all yesterday.

Nell: Poppy’s fine. She’s busy making bacon sandwiches.

Me: Just what we need after all that partying.

Nell: David’s helping her so we can expect a few mistakes.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He doesn’t mean to eat things. It’s just excitement.

Nell: Nonsense. Now, today is Mother’s Day in most countries.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: So, we’re sending huge hugs and love to all mothers of any shape or form across the world.

Me: Good.

Nell: And we dogs would like to say a particular thank you to you mothers for your love and support.

Me: What about the cats?

Nell: Cats don’t care about Mother’s Day. It’s all about them.

Me: I think they care more than you realise.

Nell: Dream on.

Me: I feel a bit sorry for UK mothers now. We had our Mother’s Day in March.

Nell: There’s no reason why we can’t be celebrated again.

Me: We?

Nell: I’m the matriarch of this house.

Me: If you say so.

Nell: I know so. Anyway, along with Eurovision hits the Welsh corgi choir will also be singing about love at Sunday Songs.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Poppy’s making gammon for lunch with fluffy mashed potatoes and cauliflower cheese.

Me: Can we have pineapple with it?

Nell: Of course and there’s rhubarb crumble with cream for dessert.

Me: One of my favourite puddings.

Nell: We know. We’re celebrating you. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Tony Pays a Visit and Poppy is Ready for Liverpool

Me: My pocketful of happiness is seeing Tony and Dave together.

Nell: Those two are such good friends.

Me: Dave couldn’t wait to tell him about the Eurovision party this evening.

Nell: And being Mayor of Kingsbridge, of course.

Me: He isn’t Mayor of Kingsbridge. He just has a new silver chain.

Nell: Tony agrees that David makes an excellent mayor. He couldn’t think of anyone better.

Me: You’re ignoring me again.

Nell: In fact Tony says there should be more mayors like David.

Me: I give up. Has Poppy left for Liverpool yet?

Nell: She’s just checking Malcolm and Manuel have everything ready for the party before she leaves.

Me: I hope she flies safely.

Nell: Poppy’s an experienced helicopter pilot. She knows what she’s doing.

Me: But it’s Saturday, Nell, so it’s going to be busy.

Nell: She’s not driving on the motorway.

Me: No, but there might be lots of helicopters heading towards Liverpool today. Eurovision is a big deal.

Nell: Eurovision isn’t a big deal in lots of countries. In fact some people might not even know what you’re talking about.

Me: You’re right. Our friends in North America are probably extremely perplexed.

Nell: Well, tell them what it is then.

Me: The Eurovision Song Contest is organised by the European Broadcasting Union and featuring participants chosen by EBU member broadcasters representing their countries from across Europe and beyond.

Nell: Beyond?

Me: Australia is taking part too.

Nell: True. It’s televised internationally and is taking place in Liverpool because Ukraine won it last year and they can’t host for obvious reasons.

Me: We came second, which was pretty amazing because we’ve been coming last, or almost last, for years.

Nell: Enough explaining. Poppy’s about to take off and we need to wave goodbye.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It’s One Event After Another

Me: How did Dorothy and Nigel’s date go?

Nell: Extremely well. According to Dorothy, Nigel was ‘an absolute hoot’ and they had a wonderful afternoon.

Me: Good.

Nell: She says she never stopped laughing.

Me: Nigel’s awfully charming. Are they going to see each other again?

Nell: We shall see. He has her iBone number so the ball is in his paws.

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He’s exhausted.

Nell: Being Mayor of Kingsbridge is a huge responsibility for David.

Me: Except he isn’t actually the Mayor of Kingsbridge.

Nell: It’s one event after another at the moment.

Me: I know you’re ignoring me.

Nell: A Coronation party last weekend and a Eurovision this.

Me: Are we having a Eurovision party?

Nell: Why do you think the llamas are wearing lycra jumpsuits and long boots?

Me: That’s fairly standard for them. When is all this happening?

Nell: The main party is on Saturday but we’ve decided to continue the theme into Sunday as the Welsh Corgi Choir are keen to feature Eurovision hits.

Me: Good for them.

Nell: I pointed out that they might be a little tired from the night before but they’re sure they can do it.

Me: Bless them. They’re such determined little things.

Nell: And fierce too, if necessary.

Me: Really?

Nell: You know what they say.

Me: I don’t.

Nell: Never cross a corgi.

Me: I’ll remember that. Is Poppy preparing Eurovision themed food?

Nell: No. Poppy will be far too busy performing. I’ve told Malcolm that hot dogs and burgers will do.

Me: Performing?

Nell: Yes. She’s flying up to Liverpool today.

Me: Do you mean Poppy is one of the Eurovision entrants?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. She’s part of the sword dancing presentation team. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Grey Chops

Me: You’re such a classic beauty, Nell.

Nell: You’re too kind.

Me: I could spend the whole day taking photos of you.

Nell: I’d prefer it if you didn’t.

Me: You have such expressive eyes.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: And those grey chops are completely adorable.

Nell: Grey chops?

Me: The grey around your face.

Nell: I know what you mean, but please don’t say ‘chops’.

Me: It’s a term of endearment.

Nell: It’s cockney slang. Ladies don’t have chops.

Me: I still think you’re beautiful even with mud on your nose.

Nell: Mud on my nose?

Me: Yes, you must have been snuffling something again.

Nell: I don’t snuffle. I merely enjoy the occasional sniffari.

Me: If you want to use any of the photos for your profile on Growlmates you’ll have to ask Kev to photoshop the mud out.

Nell: I don’t have a profile on Growlmates and I don’t want one either.

Me: If you say so.

Nell: I have no need of it. I’m quite happy leaving that kind of thing to Naughty Nigel and my friend Dorothy.

Me: Are you saying they’re an item?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Dorothy and Nigel? Have they liked each other’s profiles?

Nell: It’s none of your business.

Me: They’d make a great couple. Nigel is impossibly handsome and Dorothy has glorious red hair.

Nell: It’s not all about looks, you know. There has to be chemistry.

Me: Dorothy and Nigel. How exciting.

Nell: That’s quite enough. Stop jumping to conclusions. Just because Dorothy has agreed to take tea with Nigel at the Cottage Hotel this afternoon doesn’t mean anything.

Me: I knew it.

Nell: And no, we’re not going there to spy on them.

Me: I didn’t suggest that.

Nell: You were about to.

Me: Sorry.