David takes it too far

Nell: David has taken it too far again.

Me: What?

Nell: Morning cuddles with Kev.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: We were all enjoying ourselves and then he climbed on top of us to get on to Kev’s lap.

Me: He doesn’t realise how big he is. He’s like a puppy.

Nell: He is like a giant bulldozer.

Me: After that storm I expect cuddles were needed.

Nell: They were.

Me: Where is everyone else? It seems a lot emptier than it was.

Nell: They had an early breakfast of porridge with local honey and have gone to check on the damage.

Me: Is it safe?

Nell: Yes. They all have sou’westers and hats.

Me: I hope Mutley didn’t go with them. He is far too old to be traipsing around the countryside in this weather.

Nell: Of course he didn’t. He’s sleeping in his favourite chair. Didn’t you notice?

Me: No.

Nell: Now, Poppy thinks tray bakes are the answer.

Me: Tray bakes?

Nell: Yes, they can be cut into squares and held in the paw, or claw, quite easily. Everyone will be cold and hungry when they get back.

Me: Yes, they will.

Nell: We have decided on Poppy’s Fruity Traybake, a moist sponge made from banana, apple, carrots and mango, topped with a fruity cream cheese frosting.

Me: Sounds yummy.

Nell: David is doing the icing.

Me: That’s a dreadful idea, Nell.

Nell: Why?

Me: Don’t you remember what happened last time?

Nell: No.

Me: He kept saying ‘One spoon for the cake and one for Dave.’

Nell: He won’t do that again.

Me: On your head be it.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t want icing on my head. It goes on the cake. Honestly, the things you come out with sometimes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Sunday Shelter

Me: You are not going to believe this.

Nell: I probably will.

Me: My bedroom is full of animals.

Nell: Where else were we going to put them?

Me: What about downstairs?

Nell: It’s full. Once word got round during the evacuation that we were providing shelter for the wet and homeless, they all came here.

Me: What evacuation?

Nell: Have you noticed there is a storm going on?

Me: Of course. But I don’t think there were any animals in the bedroom when I went to bed, apart from the usual ones.

Nell: We only started moving them upstairs when it became too full downstairs.

Me: I see. How did I sleep through it?

Nell: Camomile tea. Poppy made your evening cup extra strong. And the larger animals wore slippers.

Me: Do we know how many animals we are sheltering?

Nell: Harriet is making a list.

Me: Good.

Nell: David has worked tirelessly all night providing warmth and security.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy and Malcolm haven’t stopped in the kitchen.

Me: Is there enough food?

Nell: Lunch will have to be soup and a sandwich.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: No. Cheese. The bacon sandwiches went during the night shift.

Me: Understandable.

Nell: Henry and Horst have organised a quiet space for the insects in the downstairs facilities.

Me: Thanks for the warning.

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir are performing Morning Songs from the living room. The fire is lit and there are plenty of blankets courtesy of Knitwear Wolf.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: We are hoping it will raise spirits as some animals have lost their homes.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Once the storm has passed the rebuilding will begin. All will be well. We’ve weathered storms before and we can do it again.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What if?

Me: Where is Poppy?

Nell: In the living room in front of the fire. She always feels the cold after she has been to the hairdressers. David is with her for warmth and security.

Me: Security?

Nell: Yes. Didn’t you hear about the Beefies?

Me: No.

Nell: Poppy was walking along the quay when a group of four angry Beefies started shouting at her ‘Go, Go, Go!’

Me: Why?

Nell: They found out that we have been invited to the Palace.

Me: It’s none of their business.

Nell: That’s what Poppy told them but they wouldn’t listen.

Me: How rude.

Nell: They want invitations, too.

Me: Well, they’re not getting any.

Nell: I certainly hope not.

Me: Although, I suppose Susan is invited and she’s a seagull.

Nell: Susan is not a Beefy.

Me: She’s the daughter of Stephen Seagull, the evil head of the Beefies, although the Queen probably doesn’t know that.

Nell: The Queen knows everything. She just chooses to ignore certain things. Susan’s heritage is not her fault.

Me: You are right.

Nell: I usually am.

Me: What if they are planning to sneak their way into the Palace? What if they disguise themselves as one of us?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Maybe that was the idea all along. The Beefies have been wearing trench coats for a while now.

Nell: It’s the new Birdberry line. They are promoting it.

Me: We will need to double check for anyone wearing a trench coat. Or a moustache.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes.

Me: I know Mutley sometimes wears a moustache but nobody could mistake him for a Beefy.

Nell: You are getting this the wrong way around. We are not disguising ourselves as Beefies. They are disguising themselves as us.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.


A memorable Visit

Me: You look a little pained.

Nell: I’m sitting in a frosty meadow. You try it.

Me: I wondered if it was after yesterday’s adventures.

Nell: I shall certainly need some time to recover from it all.

Me: Come on, Nell, we had a wonderful time.

Nell: Ketchup is no longer allowed in the horse box. Did you see the mess the large animals made after their trip to MuttDonalds?

Me: They couldn’t see anything, Nell. They were wearing hats and boots and there wasn’t much room to move around.

Nell: Sticking their burgers on the end of Olive’s antlers.

Me: Olive didn’t mind.

Nell: How did Henry and Horst get in there? They were meant to be in the minibus.

Me: They were travelling on Alejandro’s sombrero.

Nell: And how on earth did Gladys and Mutley end up on stage at the Princess Theatre?

Me: They went through the wrong door.

Nell: Gladys can dance but Mutley was wearing Ugg boots and he couldn’t hear the music.

Me: He tried though. The audience loved them.

Nell: And just when I thought it was over, David walks on in his top hat and joins Mutley in a celebration of Sinatra.

Me: Those boys can sing, though. Did you hear the applause for ‘My Way’?

Nell: They can’t do this kind of thing at the Palace.

Me: The Queen might enjoy it.

Nell: These impromptu performances have to stop.

Me: Poppy’s scones were a huge success with passers-by.

Nell: Handed out of the window on the end of her sword?

Me: Ingenious.

Nell: Well, Torquay isn’t going to forget us all in a hurry.

Me: That’s exactly what the reporter from the Daily Growl said.

Nell: What reporter?

Me: The one covering our visit.

Nell: With photos?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Are we going yet?

Me: You are all still in bed. I thought we were going to Torquay.

Nell: We are. Later. Let us sleep, please.

Me: I can tell Dave doesn’t want to sleep. He’s got his long suffering face on. It’s just you three girls who are sluggabeds.

Nell: Sluggabeds? How dare you. David wasn’t up early this morning baking bread for everyone like Poppy was.

Me: He isn’t allowed in the kitchen at the moment, after the incident with the missing quiche.

Nell: He also wasn’t up late last night making badges like Harriet and I were.

Me: Badges?

Nell: Yes. Every animal needs a badge in case it gets lost. Name, address, telephone number and species.

Me: Species?

Nell: We don’t want Alejandro put in with the llamas, for instance. He’s an alpaca.

Me: What llamas?

Nell: You don’t know who is wandering around over there. Torquay is a very popular place.

Me: With llamas?

Nell: Stranger things have happened.

Me: True.

Nell: And Malcolm is a Lesser Flamingo. You can’t shove him in with the Highers.

Me: Shove him in where? What do you think is going on in Torquay?

Nell: I am simply covering all eventualities. Imagine Henry and Horst stuck with a group of beetles?

Me: I’d much rather not.

Nell: Quite. We just need a few more minutes to gather our thoughts.

Me: Talking of gathering, a large group of animals in hats and boots are gathering downstairs.

Nell: Good grief. We shall have to join them then. Could you help with the distribution of badges please?

Me: Of course.

Nell: The Cat has threaded them on to sequinned ribbons so they can be worn around the neck.

Me: Henry and Horst don’t have necks.

Nell: Theirs are stick ons. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: Harriet doesn’t want to leave your side.

Me: I know. Bless her. She actually lost her voice when she saw me yesterday and just squeaked.

Nell: We miss you more than you realise.

Me: Dave didn’t have to sit on me.

Nell: He wanted to make sure you weren’t going anywhere.

Me: Don’t worry. I’m here for now.

Nell: What do you mean by that?

Me: Well, I’m going up to London on 3rd March but only for one night.

Nell: There had better be a good reason.

Me: There is. Alice and the children are flying over from Berlin for a visit.

Nell: Jonathan Sky and Baby Rainbow?

Me: Yes. And there’s more.

Nell: Tell me.

Me: Chris and Shannon are flying over from Toronto the following week. So we will all be together.

Nell: This is wonderful news. I’m going to tell everyone at Morning Thoughts. It will completely overshadow the dummy run to Torquay.

Me: What dummy run?

Nell: The larger animals haven’t travelled in a horse box before so Knitwear Wolf suggested we do a practice trip.

Me: That’s a good idea.

Nell: Yes. So we’re going to Torquay tomorrow. The Whippets Institute are lending us their minibus and we are all going in costume.

Me: Costume?

Nell: In our hats and boots. We need to know if the minibus can accommodate animals in hats and if the larger animals can climb into the horse box wearing boots.

Me: I see.

Nell: Lunch will be at MuttDonalds. Everyone enjoys a burger and Mutley owns the chain, so it would be silly not to go.

Me: Can I come too?

Nell: You had better. You’re driving the minibus.

Me: Can’t Kev do that?

Nell: Someone has to drive the horsebox. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: It’s all about looking through windows today, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes. It’s the puppies’ favourite spot next to your desk.

Me: I am watching the sun rise over the sea on the Isle of Wight.

Nell: And they are watching the garden gate for when you come home.

Me: I won’t be back until late afternoon.

Nell: They can sit quietly for a while. It helps them gather their thoughts.

Me: Yes, I know what you mean.

Nell: How did it go yesterday?

Me: It was a beautiful service. The church was full. He was greatly loved.

Nell: As are you.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: An emotional day I am sure.

Me: Yes, I’m glad I went, but now I need to come home.

Nell: You certainly do. We have some difficult decisions to make about the choice of boot for the visit to the Palace.

Me: We do?

Nell: Yes. Are sturdy boots acceptable? The larger animals cannot be expected to wear a light boot. They need support.

Me: I think sturdy is fine as long as they’re clean. They can’t wear muddy boots.

Nell: I agree. Unfortunately the boot problem continues.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Mutley wants to wear his fur lined Ugg boots.

Me: I didn’t know he had any.

Nell: They are for cold days. Personally, I don’t think one should meet the Queen in Ugg boots.

Me: She won’t mind. She wears wellington boots herself.

Nell: Not to afternoon tea.

Me: But Mutley is of a certain age. He needs warm paws.

Nell: True. I’m going to have to go now as the horse box is arriving. I’ll see you at the station later.

Me: The horse box?

Nell: Yes. The larger animals won’t fit in the minibus. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Life is made of memories

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: I thought you’d like a photo of him. I know today is a difficult day.

Me: Why is he sticking his tongue out?

Nell: He had marmite on his toast this morning.

Me: He loves marmite.

Nell: Well, he won’t be getting any more if he doesn’t learn some manners.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: He licked the marmite off Harriet’s toast when she wasn’t looking.

Me: By mistake?

Nell: So he says. Harriet is absolutely furious. I told him if he thinks he can lick the jam off the Queen’s scones then he’s got another think coming.

Me: How do you know you’re getting scones?

Nell: Poppy is making her some. She thought the Queen might appreciate it. She is bringing homemade strawberry jam, too, and Devonshire clotted cream.

Me: The Queen will love that.

Nell: Gladys wants to express her admiration for her in interpretive dance but it isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea.

Me: No.

Nell: And the castanets are dreadfully loud. They even woke Mutley.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Now, how was your journey?

Me: Very long. A train had derailed, so I had to travel a lot of the way by bus. It took me over 8 hours to get here.

Nell: At least you’re there now.

Me: It’s strange to be back on the island. So many memories, Nell.

Nell: Life is made of memories. Happy and sad. Try and embrace them.

Me: I’m going to go for a walk on the beach before the funeral.

Nell: That’s an excellent idea. You won’t be wearing your wellington boots, though, so keep out of the sea as you don’t want wet feet.

Me: How will I manage without you?

Nell: I’m always with you. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: When do you leave for the Isle of Wight?

Me: Soon. The funeral is at lunchtime tomorrow so I am staying on the island until Tuesday.

Nell: He was like a second father to you, wasn’t he?

Me: Yes. I’ve known the family all my life. Their eldest daughter was born a few days after me in the same nursing home on the island. Our mothers shared a room and became best friends.

Nell: Are you sure you don’t need me to come with you?

Me: No. I’ll be fine. You’re needed at home.

Nell: Make sure you keep your phone charged as I will be checking on you regularly.

Me: Yes, keep me updated on preparations for the royal visit.

Nell: Your boots idea is an excellent one. Knitwear Wolf has a friend who works at Barks and has agreed to help.

Me: I don’t think I know Barks.

Nell: You must do. We always get our shoes there.

Me: You don’t wear shoes.

Nell: I have my moments.

Me: That’s not a proper answer.

Nell: Anyway, this friend is going to pop over later with a selection of boots for the hooved animals.

Me: I hope boots are allowed in the Palace. Wouldn’t it be awful if it was one of those places where you have to leave your shoes by the door so you keep the carpets clean?

Nell: Good grief. The mere idea of walking around Buckingham Palace in a new hat and stockinged feet is utterly horrifying.

Me: They might offer slippers. You know the white ones you get in posh hotels.

Nell: Slippers? Do you seriously think that ambassadors and visiting dignitaries are expected to meet The Queen in disposable slippers?

Me: I suppose not. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. Not today.


No hooves

Me: I think Harriet might have been a mermaid in another life. She loves the sea so much.

Nell: You know perfectly well that mermaids do not exist.

Me: You can never be sure. Stranger things have happened.

Nell: Nonsense. Did you notice those greyhounds in red coats on the beach?

Me: I did actually.

Nell: Retired athletes. Charming manners.

Me: Dave seems a bit overexcited today.

Nell: He ate a bowl of yoghurt by mistake. He thought it was whipped cream for Poppy’s Pavlova.

Me: He shouldn’t be eating whipped cream and why is Poppy making Pavlova?

Nell: Lady Anwen is coming to tea to discuss the royal visit.

Me: Is everything going to plan?

Nell: The Whippets Institute have said we can borrow their minibus to get to the Palace.

Me: That’s kind of them.

Nell: But there has been an issue with the larger animals.

Me: No room in the minibus?

Nell: That too, but the main issue is that Her Majesty is not keen on hooves inside the Palace.

Me: Oh dear. I suppose she has a point.

Nell: Yes, her horses never join her in the state rooms. Meetings are held in the stables.

Me: Quite. Could you all eat outside?

Nell: It isn’t really the weather for a garden party. No, I’m afraid it looks like they will have to stay at home.

Me: But Alejandro has a new sombrero. Gladys would never leave him behind.

Nell: I know.

Me: I’ve had a brilliant idea.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: What if they all wear boots?

Nell: Boots?

Me: Knitwear Wolf wears boots all the time. He must know where to get some.

Nell: Good idea. Well done.

Me: I’ve got a hat and boots.

Nell: It’s animals only. Next time, perhaps.

Me: Yes. Sorry.