Toby Turns One and Someone Quite Unexpected Performs

Me: Oh no. We forgot Toby’s birthday. He turned one yesterday.

Nell: No need to worry. Toby had a marvellous day with Tony and Sue.

Me: I remember when he was just a puppy.

Nell: Well, now he’s a dashing young Labrador who’s happy about his Uncle David’s engagement.

Me: Talking of engagements, did I see a pair of turtle doves outside?

Nell: You mean Kylie and Jason? Those two always turn up at the merest hint of romance.

Me: Do they?

Nell: Yes. I expect we’re going to have to listen to them singing that song all day now.

Me: ‘Especially For You’?

Nell: No. ‘Feathery We Coo’.

Me: That doesn’t even make sense.

Nell: It’s a huge hit and Malcolm loves it.

Me: Does he?

Nell: Yes, they sang it at his wedding to Susan.

Me: Have we got any other music arranged?

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir will be performing tomorrow at a love themed Sunday Songs.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: And apparently someone rather extraordinary will be performing this evening.

Me: I hope it’s Dave.

Nell: David hasn’t stopped singing since Sally said ‘Yes’. Anyway, it’s someone quite unexpected.

Me: Maybe it’s Lady Baba the singing sheep?

Nell: No, she’s on tour.

Me: Or The Rolling Bones?

Nell: Don’t be silly. They only do stadiums.

Me: Oh Nell. Look at the line-up. ‘George Jones the country singing opossum.’

Nell: Oliver asked him to fly over. He must have agreed.

Me: That’s not the unexpected bit.

Nell: ‘Supporting Act: Poppy Lee Martin and her Line Dancing Llamas.’

Me: That must be why she’s out in the field.

Nell: Are those cowboy boots?

Me: Yes.

Nell: And is that a ten gallon hat?

Me: It certainly is.

Nell: Did Poppy just lasso a llama?

Me: I’m afraid so. Sorry.


Cropping and Cakes

Me: That’s the photo of us that Facebook cropped.

Nell: I thought everyone should be able to see it properly.

Me: Thank you. I spent hours yesterday afternoon trying to find someone to help me get it uncropped.

Nell: I know. Harriet texted me on WoofsApp while Sally and I were enjoying our cream tea.

Me: Hang on a minute. Were you at The Cottage Hotel?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Without me?

Nell: May I point out that you attend a Writing Retreat there twice a year and I have never been invited. Not once.

Me: Still, you could have told me you were going there. It’s my favourite place.

Nell: Sally and I had things to discuss and we wanted to do it privately.

Me: Without me?

Nell: Without anyone. And stop repeating yourself.

Me: What were you discussing?

Nell: Didn’t I just say it was private?

Me: Yes, but it’s only me.

Nell: It’s never only you and you know it.

Me: Were you talking about Dave?

Nell: David certainly came into the conversation.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He is so proud of being an engaged animal.

Nell: As he should be. Now, what do you think your sister Charlotte would feel about making her birthday weekend into a joint celebration of David and Sally’s engagement?

Me: I’m sure she’ll be fine. Our little sister Alex is coming to stay and Naughty Nigel and Boo so they can join in.

Nell: Which is exactly what I told Sally. She has to go back to London on Monday so this weekend would be perfect.

Me: Does Poppy know? We’ll need two cakes.

Nell: Not yet. You should probably tell her soon.

Me: Why me?

Nell: Why not? You’re the one who wanted to be involved.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


That’s What Mothers Do

Me: I admire you, Nell.

Nell: Well, that’s extremely kind of you.

Me: You have the patience of a saint.

Nell: I wouldn’t go that far. You can get a little carried away at times but conversations with you are still enjoyable.

Me: I wasn’t talking about me.

Nell: Weren’t you?

Me: No. I was talking about after walk drinks.

Nell: Are we having a cocktail party? We were discussing what to do to celebrate David and Sally’s engagement but nobody mentioned cocktails, as far as I know.

Me: I meant the big bowl of water you all share down on the beach when we’ve been for our walk.

Nell: Oh, I see.

Me: You always end up drinking last.

Nell: Yes, that’s what mothers do. You know that.

Me: And Dave drinks the whole time.

Nell: David is a large animal. He needs more than others.

Me: And you just sit there patiently waiting your turn.

Nell: Of course I do.

Me: Even Poppy pushes her way in.

Nell: Poppy doesn’t like to wait for anyone.

Me: And Harriet is straight in there.

Nell: Harriet has good survival instincts.

Me: Don’t you ever worry there won’t be any water left for you?

Nell: Of course not. Kev would never let that happen.

Me: But David could drink the bowl dry.

Nell: No, he couldn’t.

Me: How do you know?

Nell: Because Kev always keeps fresh water back for me to drink quietly when the others get in the car.

Me: I thought it was just luck that he still had some water left over.

Nell: There’s no luck about it. I just need to be patient.

Me: I always wait to drink my water too.

Nell: I know. As I said before, that’s what mothers do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Tony is Back and Dave has Big News

Me: It’s good to see Tony back again.

Nell: It is. Did you notice David whisper something in Tony’s ear?

Me: I did. He allowed you and Harriet to greet Tony first though. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: It was the action of an affianced animal, if you ask me.

Me: Affianced? Do you mean what I think you mean?

Nell: Why don’t you ask me?

Me: Did Sally say yes?

Nell: She did.

Me: Dave and Sally are engaged?

Nell: They are.

Me: That’s wonderful news. Tell me everything.

Nell: Well, there were a few hiccups on the way.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy packed enough food for an army so the hamper was very heavy.

Me: I can imagine.

Nell: David had to keep stopping and every time he did Sally insisted he fortified himself with a drink and a small snack.

Me: Dave doesn’t do small.

Nell: Quite. At least the hamper became progressively lighter.

Me: True.

Nell: They managed to find a lovely secluded part of the beach.

Me: Good.

Nell: With room for the Welsh Corgi Choir, Princess and Our Penguin.

Me: I beg your pardon?

Nell: You need background singing when you’re proposing, along with someone to film it and an enthusiastic clapper.

Me: Do you?

Nell: You do if you’re David. Anyway, it was all going well until he got down on bended front legs to propose.

Me: What happened?

Nell: He ended up with his bottom in the air.

Me: I’ve seen him do that before. It’s adorable.

Nell: Fortunately Sally thought so too and said ‘A thousand times yes, darling Davey.’

Me: Are you sure you weren’t there? You seem to know everything.

Nell: It’s trending on YouChewed. Just search for ‘Bottoms up’ and you’ll find it.

Me: Right. Sorry.


Summer Solstice

Me: Another glorious day down on the beach.

Nell: Yes, and today is the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year.

Me: Is it Midsummer’s Day?

Nell: No, that’s on 24th June.

Me: Odd because summer has only just started.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I enjoyed swimming with you all.

Nell: I know.

Me: Harriet kept circling me.

Nell: She was excited.

Me: And you even joined in for a quick paddle.

Nell: I like to keep an eye on you.

Me: The water was amazingly warm.

Nell: We were swimming on the river side. It’s always warmer there.

Me: I’m glad I didn’t notice the fish.

Nell: Fish don’t like to be noticed.

Me: Talking of being noticed, it’s good that Beauregard doesn’t need to come with us anymore.

Nell: Henry and Horst were right. The mere mention of George Jones and the snakes fled.

Me: Maybe they don’t enjoy country music?

Nell: Anyway, I have some extremely exciting news.

Me: You probably shouldn’t tell me then.

Nell: It’s about David and Sally.

Me: Has he proposed?

Nell: Not yet but he told Poppy that he’s going to.

Me: Why Poppy?

Nell: She’s preparing a romantic picnic.

Me: Heart shaped sandwiches and meringue kisses?

Nell: I have no idea but there will be a full hamper. David wants to propose on the beach so he will carry it down there.

Me: I’m a bit worried about the full hamper.

Nell: Why? David is a strong animal.

Me: It might not be full by the time they get there.

Nell: True.

Me: And Dave might be so full that he can’t even speak, let alone propose.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous.

Me: I suppose he could write ‘Marry Me’ in the sand, if necessary.

Nell: It won’t be.

Me: No. Sorry.


Is it time for Dave to Pop the Question?

Me: Dave’s face when Sally appeared in Knitwear Wolf’s sidecar. It was priceless.

Nell: He knocked over several corgis in his dash to get to her.

Me: They didn’t mind, Nell.

Nell: No. Corgis are incredibly resilient. They just kept on singing with their little legs in the air.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: I wouldn’t have been so forgiving.

Me: I don’t know how Sally does it but she manages to look like a film star all the time.

Nell: Yes, she does.

Me: She reminds me of Grace Kelly.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: A classic blonde beauty.

Nell: She and David make a most attractive couple.

Me: I was wondering if Dave might pop the question now that he’s 5.

Nell: What question?

Me: You know the one. Will you share my bowl?

Nell: Nobody wants to share David’s bowl. There’s never anything in it long enough to get a share of anything. Poppy has tried.

Me: You know what I mean. Poppy is engaged to John the Doberman. Harriet is as good as engaged to Jim the Farm Dog. You were married to Charlie.

Nell: Harriet is not officially engaged to Jim and Poppy’s engagement to John is rather on and off.

Me: Nevertheless. I think it might be on the cards.

Nell: Just don’t start hinting, please. You’re dreadfully obvious when you do that.

Me: No, I’m not.

Nell: All that winking and secret smiling.

Me: I don’t wink.

Nell: You do it every time Rupert and I are together.

Me: Not on purpose.

Nell: I think giving someone a thumbs up could be seen as intentional, don’t you?

Me: I love a good romance.

Nell: I know you do but you must let others decide for themselves when the time is right.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dave and Harriet are 5 Today

Me: Where are the puppies?

Nell: Upstairs by the window watching the rain.

Me: They can’t do that on their birthday. It’s miserable.

Nell: They can. I told them to.

Me: Why?

Nell: They’ve had a large breakfast, or in David’s case two, and they need to rest.

Me: Where’s Sally?

Nell: Rupert has gone to collect her from the station.

Me: I can’t believe the puppies are 5 today. It seems like yesterday that they were little.

Nell: David has never been little.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Sunday Songs are about to begin.

Me: Good.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir are singing a selection of David and Harriet’s favourite songs ending with Happy Birthday when Sally arrives on the back of Rupert’s motorbike.

Me: How do they know when that will be?

Nell: They don’t, they’re just going to keep singing until the bike comes down the lane.

Me: But they won’t hear it.

Nell: Gladys and the llamas are listening out. At the first sound they’ll perform an interpretive dance indicating Sally’s imminent arrival.

Me: I can’t wait to see that. Won’t Harriet feel a bit left out?

Nell: No. Jim the Farm Dog will be singing ‘Unforgettable’ earlier in proceedings.

Me: So Dave will be happy for Harriet but sad for himself thinking that his true love is far away when we all know she isn’t.

Nell: Exactly. Now, please don’t give anything away.

Me: I won’t.

Nell: Just smile quietly.

Me: Are we still having Poppy’s Sunday Roast?

Nell: Of course. With all the trimmings and extra Yorkshire puddings and gravy so David can’t possibly make a mistake.

Me: I think you’ll find he can.

Nell: Then he does. It’s the puppies’ birthday today and they can do no wrong.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nobody is Jumping Out of Anything

Me: Birds are amazing little things, aren’t they?

Nell: Are they?

Me: Yes, it was so hot yesterday that nobody could do much at all but they all carried on.

Nell: They certainly did. The noise.

Me: They were having fun enjoying the sunshine.

Nell: David lay outside briefly.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: I called him inside as we dogs can overheat very quickly.

Me: That’s true. You need to make sure you keep cool and drink plenty of water.

Nell: We do. I’m not sure why you found the birds so impressive.

Me: I was amazed at how busy they were. Chirping and splashing in the bird bath. Robin was in fine form. He followed me everywhere.

Nell: You know there’s more than one of him.

Me: Yes, but it was definitely Rob. We were chatting. He’s an excellent listener.

Nell: Good for him.

Me: And I managed to take a photo of a little bird with a feather in its mouth flying up to the roof.

Nell: You’re not this excited when David takes a tea towel.

Me: Of course I’m not. That’s stealing. He knows he’s not allowed and he still does it.

Nell: That bird stole a feather.

Me: It was a white feather.

Nell: Ah, well that is different. White feathers are messages from loved ones.

Me: Yes, they are.

Nell: I can see that might have more significance than a tea towel. Now, you know it’s the puppies’ birthday tomorrow?

Me: Yes. They will be 5.

Nell: Sally is going to surprise David.

Me: She’s not jumping out of a cake, is she? Only I’m not sure he should be startled in this heat.

Nell: It’s just a surprise visit. Nobody is jumping out of anything, I hope.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Charlotte is 60 Today

Me: I can’t believe my younger sister Charlotte is 60.

Nell: Have you seen the photos of the two boys and that wretched cat?

Me: Yes. Nigel is distracted in the last photo and Boo looks absolutely terrified.

Nell: Anybody would be terrified with that animal around.

Me: That animal is called Xav. At least Nigel looks angelic in the first one.

Nell: And they say the camera never lies.

Me: I like the photo of Charlotte laughing with you.

Nell: We always have fun. Now, Naughty Nigel has written a poem for Charlotte. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Knock me down with a feather

And call me Trixie.

Someone said Charlotte

Has just turned sixty.’

Me: Trixie?

Nell: Sixty isn’t an easy rhyme. Give Naughty Nigel a chance. You can’t all be poets like me.

Me: True.

Nell: ‘Me and Boo and that wretched cat

Have organised cake

And a party hat.’

Me: Just the one?

Nell: It’s got 60 on it.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: ‘There are cuddles from Scarlett

And treats from Kerry.

A trip to the beach

And a ride on a ferry.’

Me: What ferry?

Nell: How should I know?

Me: I hope they aren’t going to France.

Nell: Charlotte can go where she likes. It’s her birthday and she can do no wrong.

Me: But she’s coming here next weekend to celebrate with our little sister Alex.

Nell: It’s probably the Dartmouth ferry. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell; So, let’s join together for one big hurrah.

Happy Birthday dear Charlotte

You’re 60 today.

That’s ever so old, but never you fear

You’ll always be younger than Sara, poor dear.’

Me: Well done Nigel, I think.

Nell: Everyone needs an older sister, especially when they’re 60.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Staring at a View isn’t Everyone’s Cup of Tea

Me: Dave really tried to stare at the view for longer this time.

Nell: Yes. For about thirty seconds.

Me: He stared at it with his whole self though.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: He had seriously focussed legs, Nell.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: A proper Big Boy stance. A Big Brave Beautiful Boy stance, to be exact.

Nell: David tried but he’s easily bored.

Me: Staring at a view isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Nell: Talking of tea, I think we should take a picnic the next time we go to the beach.

Me: Kev and I were saying the same thing.

Nell: Nothing too fancy. A few sandwiches, crusts off. Ham, cheese and tomato and egg.

Me: And cress.

Nell: Nobody wants a cress sandwich.

Me: I meant egg and cress.

Nell: I don’t like salad in a sandwich. It makes them soggy.

Me: You said cheese and tomato.

Nell: Tomatoes are different. Everyone enjoys a good tomato, preferably home grown.

Me: I’d like a tomato sandwich.

Nell: Well, have one then.

Me: We’ll need cake.

Nell: Yes. Sensible cake like lemon drizzle.

Me: Or cup cakes?

Nell: I think not.

Me: Or the odd scone?

Nell: Scones are not suitable for beach picnics. Sand and cream don’t mix and jam is too sticky.

Me: What about crisps?

Nell: One should never say no to a crisp.

Me: Did you know crisps are called chips in most countries?

Nell: We’re not having chips.

Me: And chips are fries, or French fries.

Nell: We’re still not getting any.

Me: Just saying.

Nell: We’ll need flasks of tea.

Me: Not Earl Grey. It has to be Builder’s.

Nell: I don’t drink Builder’s tea. Never have done. Never will. I shall take my own flask.

Me: Yes. Sorry.