Diva Barking and Breakdancing

Me: Could we have a quick word?

Nell: I’m checking the hole in the carpet.

Me: It’s been there for years, Nell. Harriet did it when she was a puppy.

Nell: It seems larger.

Me: I’d like to discuss your recent diva barking.

Nell: Last night was a tremendous success, wasn’t it?

Me: Stop trying to change the subject.

Nell: Anton du Bark was extremely impressed.

Me: You’ve started barking first thing in the morning demanding attention.

Nell: Malcolm and Susan’s Cha-Cha was a sight to behold and Mrs King and Beauregard’s Samba was extraordinary. Those big cats are light on their paws.

Me: It’s not fair on those of us still trying to sleep.

Nell: Harriet and Jim’s waltz was simply exquisite.

Me: Kev and I did well, too, considering.

Nell: Considering you got yourself tangled up in your feather boa?

Me: I’d never danced the Quickstep before. It was exhausting. I can barely move this morning.

Nell: The surprise of the night has to be Stephen Seagull and Miss Penny Lanes’s Argentine Tango.

Me: Who knew seagulls could be so bendy?

Nell: It was certainly aggressive.

Me: But nothing could beat Dave and Sally’s American Smooth. Talk about ‘Puttin’ On The Ritz.’

Nell: David suits a top hat and tails.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Sally is the perfect partner. They deserved to win.

Me: Manuel’s guest performance was quite a revelation.

Nell: I can’t say I was expecting an octopus to breakdance.

Me: Or Gladys and the llamas to join in.

Nell: I’m not sure that was planned.

Me: Anyway, back to the barking.

Nell: We’ve no time to chat. I can hear the Welsh Corgi Choir warming up for Sunday Songs and we can’t leave them out in the cold alone.

Me: No. Sorry.


Such Beautiful Colours

Me: We’re so lucky to live where we do, aren’t we?

Nell: Yes, we are.

Me: The light and the colours on our walk down by the river were absolutely breathtaking.

Nell: River walk is my favourite. The grass is soft under paw and I can enjoy a good sniffari.

Me: It’s Kev’s favourite walk, too. Harriet prefers the sea and my Big Brave Beautiful Boy just goes with the flow.

Nell: Now, Gladys and the llamas have a request.

Me: I’m not cartwheeling, Nell.

Nell: Don’t be silly. The mere idea.

Me: I know how keen they are to get everyone moving.

Nell: So, what do you feel about ballroom dancing?

Me: I love watching it, Although, I might prefer Latin if I’m honest. But I’m not sure I can do it.

Nell: How about a glitzy Strictly Come Dancing evening?

Me: Sounds absolutely fabulous.

Nell: That’s what The Cat said when we suggested it.

Me: I don’t have to wear fake tan, do I?

Nell: That’s what Kev said when we suggested it to him.

Me: I don’t mind a few sequins and I’d love a feather boa.

Nell: Good. Get yourself over to the Big House as soon as you can and The Cat will see what it has for you in its dressing up box.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: I will be judging, of course, along with my dear friend Anton du Bark.

Me: I didn’t know it was a competition.

Nell: Of course it is. You are with Kev. David is paired with Sally, Harriet with Jim the Farm Dog, Malcolm with Susan, Mrs King with Beauregard and Miss Penny Lane with Stephen Seagull.

Me: I beg your pardon?

Nell: He asked and Penny agreed. Do you have a problem with that?

Me: No. Sorry.


Marvin has a New Raincoat and Dave Makes a Mistake

Me: Look at Marvin in his new raincoat. Isn’t he adorable?

Nell: He’s not happy.

Me: I know but it can get very cold and wet in Toronto. Chris and Shannon are just keeping him safe and warm.

Nell: Don’t expect me to wear one.

Me: I won’t. You have Devon hair and it isn’t half as cold here.

Nell: Devon hair?

Me: Your hair’s become a lot thicker and wavier since we moved down here.

Nell: You’re making me sound like a poodle.

Me: You were quite sprightly on our walk yesterday. The hydro and massage with Chloe must have done you good.

Nell: In my opinion we should skip the hydro part and go straight to the warming mat.

Me: You’re not going there to sleep, Nell.

Nell: Thanksgiving dinner was a delight.

Me: You’re changing the subject.

Nell: Everyone had a wonderful time.

Me: Yes, we did. Pickled red cabbage isn’t usually on the menu but it was delicious.

Nell: Herr Hoffmann was giving it a German twist.

Me: Poppy would have been proud.

Nell: She was, apart from the turkey incident.

Me: Are you talking about Dave?

Nell: Who else would eat that many slices that fast?

Me: I think it was a misunderstanding. I was holding out the plate in an inviting sort of way.

Nell: You were counting the slices to make sure everyone got some and then David took them.

Me: Not all of them.

Nell: Most of them.

Me: Luckily there was a lot more in the kitchen.

Nell: It was disgraceful behaviour.

Me: He didn’t mean it. Mistakes happen.

Nell: Sally didn’t help by laughing and saying, ‘Oh Davey.’

Me: She loves him.

Nell: Everyone loves David but it still doesn’t mean he can eat all the turkey.

Me: No. Sorry.


Happy Thanksgiving

Me: Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the United States.

Nell: And to Bumper and Babycakes Gillespie and any other Americans far from home.

Me: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dave as happy as when he walked in and saw Sally waiting for him.

Nell: It was a sight to behold.

Me: They’ve been inseparable ever since.

Nell: Sally is his soulmate.

Me: Dear Bumper is back organising us all with his serviettes and stuffed toys.

Nell: He couldn’t believe how much there is to do.

Me: Losing Poppy has shaken us all.

Nell: Talking of Poppy, she wants to make sure Herr Hoffmann has the safe recipe for pumpkin pie.

Me: He does.

Nell: Not too much cinnamon.

Me: He knows.

Nell: And no nutmeg as it’s dangerous for dogs.

Me: Dave’s on the case.

Nell: That’s what I told her.

Me: And Herr Hoffmann’s a very sensible bear.

Nell: The llamas have been cartwheeling since dawn.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Too much sugar. Babycakes Gillespie is handing out doughnuts and you know what llamas are like. They can never say no to a doughnut.

Me: Dave’s a bit like that.

Nell: Fortunately David is busy in the kitchen helping Herr Hoffmann.

Me: It’s been a tough year, Nell, but we still have a lot to be thankful for.

Nell: Each other for a start.

Me: Yes, I don’t think I could have got through it without the love and support of you all.

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

Me: They are.

Nell: I think it might be time to share a cup of Earl Grey and a freshly baked cookie with the others by the fire.

Me: Is there time?

Nell: There’s always time for sharing, especially at Thanksgiving.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Those Deceiving Beefies

Nell: The sea is rather frothy again. Look at my paws.

Me: Stop sending me photos from the island. I need you and Dave to come home now.

Nell: We can’t come back yet. We still haven’t seen any sign of Sally, Harriet or a lion,

Me: I know.

Nell: The only thing of any interest at afternoon tea was a hairy seal with some stuffed animals. It reminded me of Bumper.

Me: Now, that is a coincidence.

Nell: Not really. If Bumper were here he would have taken the Stuffed Tiger to tea.

Me: Bumper is here.

Nell: What? Bumper’s supposed to be in the US.

Me: Harriet and Bumper are still pen pals and he was particularly sad to hear about Poppy.

Nell: Her loss is felt across the world.

Me: When Bumper said he wished he could visit us again, Harriet said he should come for Thanksgiving and they arranged a surprise visit.

Nell: So that’s where Harriet has been?

Me: Yes, she took Poppy’s helicopter and flew up to London to collect Bumper and Sally too, as a surprise for Dave.

Nell: David won’t believe this.

Me: I know. My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is going to be over the moon.

Nell: He’s going to be on the first sea tractor over to the mainland. But wait a minute. What about the supposed sightings of a beautiful Golden Retriever and a pretty Chocolate Labrador having dinner with a lion?

Me: That hairy seal you mentioned doesn’t have ears, does it?

Nell: It does.

Me: And can it walk around on all fours?

Nell: Yes, in a rather ungainly fashion.

Me: It’s not a seal. It’s a sea lion.

Nell: Those wretched deceiving Beefies. I’m presuming the stuffed animals are dogs.

Me: I expect so. Sorry.


What is Going On?

Nell: Don’t try and stop us.

Me: It’s a bad idea, Nell.

Nell: David and I are going to the island. Look at him, he’s bowed down with worry.

Me: He’s standing on the small table again.

Nell: He needs to be by the window.

Me: Yes, but not on the table.

Nell: His sister and his fiancé are missing. The poor animal is distraught.

Me: They’re not exactly missing. We’re fairly sure they’re at the Burgh Island Hotel.

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog isn’t happy.

Me: A farmer’s life isn’t an easy one.

Nell: No. The Beefies say a pretty chocolate brown Labrador was seen having dinner at the Burgh Island hotel with a lion.

Me: That lion is a proper gigolo.

Nell: That’s not the point. First Sally now Harriet.

Me: Exactly. The cheek of it.

Nell: What are she and Sally doing there?

Me: Harriet left a message telling us not to worry and she’ll be in touch.

Nell: That was yesterday.

Me: She’s probably busy.

Nell: Doing what?

Me: Having dinner with lions.

Nell: We don’t even know who the lion is.

Me: It’s obviously Lionel King.

Nell: There’s more than one lion, you know.

Me: Not living at the Burgh Island Hotel with a penchant for a pretty lady, especially one who’s out of bounds.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Lionel enjoys causing mayhem. Ask Rupert.

Nell: What’s Rupert got to do with this?

Me: Lionel is constantly trying to steal you away from him.

Nell: Nonsense.

Me: You know it and I know it. I hope this isn’t all about you, Nell.

Nell: About me?

Me: Maybe Lionel is trying to make you jealous?

Nell: Ridiculous.

Me: And maybe he’s succeeding?

Nell: Sally and Harriet wouldn’t be involved in that.

Me: No. Sorry.


Where is Sally?

Me: I’m not sure if going down to the beach yesterday afternoon and staring longingly at the island was a good idea.

Nell: It’s what David wanted us to do.

Me: We were never going to see Sally from there.

Nell: He says he felt nearer to her.

Me: We don’t even know if Stephen Seagull and the Beefies are telling the truth. It might have been another Golden Retriever.

Nell: Or another lion.

Me: No, it was definitely Lionel King. It’s just the kind of thing he would do.

Nell: What? Have dinner with a beautiful Golden Retriever?

Me: No, try and steal somebody else’s betrothed.

Nell: You just said it might not be Sally.

Me: It’s not like he hasn’t tried it before. Taking you away from Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: I wasn’t with Rupert.

Me: Well, you jolly well should be.

Nell: This is getting us nowhere. We need to take action.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Which is why David and I have decided to go over to the island.

Me: I don’t like the sound of that at all.

Nell: If Sally is there we can have a quick chat with her and sort out any misunderstandings.

Me: If Sally is there and hasn’t told Dave then she doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Nell: She won’t mind a quick cup of Earl Grey and the odd scone.

Me: How did afternoon tea come into this?

Nell: You can’t go to the Burgh Island Hotel without popping in for tea. Besides, David and I will be tired from the journey.

Me: Are you taking Harriet with you?

Nell: No. She’s not here.

Me: Where is she?

Nell: Off on some kind of mission, I expect. You know what spies are like. Dreadfully secretive.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


David is in A Very Bad Mood

Me: I think Dave might actually be in a very bad mood.

Nell: He is.

Me: But he’s never in a bad mood. He has a sunny disposition.

Nell: Not today.

Me: Do you know what’s made him so grumpy?

Nell: I might do.

Me: Have I done something to upset him?

Nell: Have you?

Me: Not as far as I know.

Nell: Well then.

Me: Has Sunday Songs been rained off?

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir aren’t afraid of a little rain.

Me: Are we having salad instead of a Sunday roast?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Sunday roasts are non negotiable.

Me: Well, what is it? Something must have upset him.

Nell: Sally has been sighted on Burgh Island.

Me: Sally, head of MI5 and the love of Dave’s life?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Golden Retriever Sally?

Nell: Yes, and David didn’t even know she was in the area.

Me: She’ll have a very good reason.

Nell: Of course she will.

Me: It won’t just have been a holiday.

Nell: I hope not.

Me: A little break away from everyone and everything.

Nell: No.

Me: Like a retreat.

Nell: Sally is not on a retreat.

Me: She might be.

Nell: She was seen having dinner with a lion.

Me: Dinner?

Nell: Yes.

Me: With a lion?

Nell: I just said that.

Me: Who saw her?

Nell: The Beefies. Stephen Seagull happened to mention it in his ‘thank you for a lovely afternoon tea’ text to David.

Me: Except it didn’t just happen. That nasty piece of work knew it would upset my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: But what was Sally doing on the island?

Me: Having dinner with a lion. You just told me.

Nell: Why keep it a secret? Especially from David?

Me: I’ve no idea. Sorry.


Snuggly Dog Faces, Soggy Sandwiches and Fluffy Scones

Me: There’s nothing like a group of snuggly dog faces. Look at darling Harriet.

Nell: Kindly stop taking photos of us and get back into bed. You’re not well.

Me: I’m just a bit run down, Nell. I think it’s all this looking at houses and talking to estate agents.

Nell: Back into bed. We need to discuss yesterday’s afternoon tea.

Me: Tell me again what happened.

Nell: Stephen Seagull arrived in a bow tie carrying a bunch of seaweed in his beak.

Me: Unusual, but interesting, and better than mackerel, I suppose.

Nell: Only just.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Malcolm showed him into the living room where he decided to sit on the Stuffed Tiger.

Me: How very surprising.

Nell: The tiger thought so.

Me: It always looks like that.

Nell: Anyway, Susan engaged him in polite conversation until Miss Penny Lane arrived.

Me: How did she manage that? The Stuffed Tiger has never said a word to me.

Nell: I’m talking about Stephen Seagull.

Me: Of course.

Nell: When Penny walked in Stephen bowed and took off his hat.

Me: You never mentioned a hat.

Nell: Didn’t I? Then afternoon tea arrived and Stephen asked Penny to join him on the Stuffed Tiger.

Me: It is quite big.

Nell: That’s not the point. She refused and told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of him and his evil gang of Beefies.

Me: Was he offended?

Nell: Not at all. He loved it almost as much as the soggy sandwiches David brought him.

Me: So, you went down the bad tea route?

Nell: We decided on half and half. Soggy sandwiches but fluffy light scones.

Me: Good idea.

Nell: He dipped them in his tea.

Me: How disgusting.

Nell: Fluffy scones are wasted on Beefies.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Differences of Opinion

Me: The puppies seem awfully serious.

Nell: If you’d been at Morning Thoughts you’d know why.

Me: It’s my writing time.

Nell: There were some huge differences of opinion.

Me: Was it about slippers? They really aren’t for everyone and a little bit of mud on the floor isn’t the end of the world.

Nell: It wasn’t about slippers.

Me: What was it about?

Nell: Afternoon tea with Stephen Seagull.

Me: I see.

Nell: The problems began with the guest list.

Me: Is he bringing someone?

Nell: No, but everyone seems to think they should be there.

Me: We all enjoy an afternoon tea.

Nell: You’re definitely not invited, so don’t start.

Me: I can be very well behaved.

Nell: You write everything down.

Me: It’s what I do best. Who’s invited?

Nell: Susan will be attending with Malcolm as her husband.

Me: And Miss Penny Lane?

Nell: Of course. I shall be overseeing proceedings with Harriet as my deputy.

Me: What about Dave?

Nell: David will be serving.

Me: Not a good idea.

Nell: He wants to prove himself.

Me: He’s my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy but food rarely reaches the table untouched.

Nell: I don’t think Stephen Seagull cares about half eaten scones. He’s a Beefy.

Me: Who else will be there?

Nell: Henry and Horst, Rupert and the Stuffed Tiger.

Me: Why is it invited?

Nell: It’s always there. It sits by the yellow chair. You sound like Beauregard. He says if tigers are invited he should be too.

Me: He has a point.

Nell: And I haven’t even got to the food.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Do we offer Stephen a lovely afternoon tea, or soggy leftovers?

Me: Soggy leftovers every time.

Nell: But Beefies like their leftovers soggy.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.