Book · Summer · Treasure Island


Me: So what was in the treasure chest?

Nell: Well, the usual, of course. Jewellery, pieces of eight and some gold dogbloons.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: David ate one which worried us for a moment until we realised it was a golden biscuit.

Me: Anything else?

Nell: A signed edition of Westie Wolfenthal’s Amazing Recipes which made Poppy squeal with delight as she loves his food.

Me: I don’t think I know him.

Nell: He wears strange glasses and runs the Fat Pug in Barkshire. A talented chef but slightly eccentric. One never knows if his trifle is going to be sweet or savoury.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The more unusual treasure, however, was at the bottom of the chest.

Me: What was it?

Nell: Dirty socks. Lots of them. Well worn and all singles.

Me: Goodness me. Is that where they went?

Nell: Yes.

Me: I don’t think I would call that treasure.

Nell: You are not a dog. These were collected by the famous pirate Calico Jack Russell over many years. Quite fascinating.

Me: I’ll be very glad to have you home. Alice and Jonathan leave tomorrow.

Nell: I know. You will be sad but remember you have us and so many exciting times ahead that you haven’t even thought of yet. We are bringing you some treasure too, by the way.

Me: You are?

Nell: Licks and cuddles. We thought you might like them. Now pull yourself together and put the kettle on. We shall be needing tea and lots of it. They will be back before you know it.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Ken does a good thing

Me: Please tell me you are all safe.

Nell: We are but it has been quite a day.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Well, I decided the best way to distract the corgis was afternoon tea on the ship. Poppy went ahead of us to make some Welsh cakes. Jonathan and I followed on later with the corgis. Mutley remained on the island with the last coracle to bring the puppies and the treasure back to the ship.

Me: How brave.

Nell: Yes, Mutley is fearless. We had tea on deck so we could see everything that was going on. I positioned the corgis with their backs to the island but they are anybody’s for a Welsh cake so I needn’t have worried.

Me: Quite.

Nell: The puppies arrived proudly dragging a heavy box. Harriet had attached it to David with rope. He is very strong but he was exhausted and had lost his hat.

Me: Good old Dave.

Nell: Suddenly The Cat burst through the undergrowth warning them that Captain Hiro and the others were on their way. It had hidden in the Captain’s rucksack. I must say I have to give it credit for resourcefulness.

Me: Yes. Impressive.

Nell: They were loading the treasure on to the coracle when Captain Hiro arrived. Mutley tried to stop him and a fight ensued but he managed to seize Harriet and held a cutlass to her throat.

Me: No!

Nell: I choked on my cucumber sandwich at that point. I mean Harriet has been through so much.

Me: She has.

Nell: Coleton Fishacre climbed on to David’s head and started picking fleas out of his fur which was both silly and annoying.

Me: Dave doesn’t have fleas.

Nell: I know. Captain Hiro started dragging Harriet towards the treasure when a voice boomed: “Stop!”

Me: Gosh! It must have been an awfully loud voice for you to hear it from the ship.

Nell: We didn’t hear it you fool, we guessed. Stop spoiling my flow. Anyway, it was Ken.

Me: Ken?

Nell: Yes. Ken fell hopelessly in love with Harriet the moment he first saw her and although he knew she was promised to another…

Me: Jim the farm dog.

Nell: Yes, do stop interrupting. Even though his love was unrequited he couldn’t see her suffer. So he threw Captain Hiro to the ground, picked up Coleton Fishacre by the tail and told them all to leave.

Me: How selfless.

Nell: Harriet hugged him and begged him to come with them but he said he would stay and make sure the others didn’t follow them. He was last seen waving her goodbye.

Me: Poor Ken. Anyway, what was in the treasure box?

Nell: I don’t know yet, do I? I’ve been on the phone to you. Stop talking so I can open it.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Where are the puppies?

Me: You sound tired. Did your plan work?

Nell: It all started well. The Cat managed to secure the map and finally we all fell asleep.

Me: Good.

Nell: Harriet was supposed to wake me this morning.

Me: Didn’t she?

Nell: No. Jonathan and I were woken at 7am by a dreadful screeching.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: It was that awful monkey Coleton Fishacre. Someone had trodden on his banana.

Me: Oh dear. Probably Dave.

Nell: Everyone woke up then, of course, and that’s when we discovered they had gone.

Me: Who?

Nell: David and Harriet with the map.

Me: No!

Nell: Yes. I mean I know David is headstrong but Harriet is such a sensible little thing and now they are out there on their own.

Me: What about the pirates?

Nell: Captain Hiro exploded with rage. He actually stamped on Jonathan’s sandcastle. He started screaming at me and it was only when Poppy raised her sword that he backed off.

Me: You must have been scared.

Nell: A labrador shows no fear. I explained that the puppies were still young and it was just harmless fun and that’s when I saw the note.

Me: A note?

Nell: Yes, from Harriet. In Jonathan’s bucket. It said: “Don’t worry. We will find it. Track us on Find my iBone. H. X”

Me: Clever.

Nell: Captain Hiro saw me reading it but Mutley got there first and ate it.

Me: That was quick thinking.

Nell: Yes. He needed a cup of tea and a lie down afterwards, mind you.

Me: So what’s going on now?

Nell: Captain Hiro, Ken and the monkey have gone off to find David and Harriet. Apparently Coleton Fishacre has amazing tracking skills.

Me: Really?

Nell: One hopes not. The corgis are supposed to be guarding us but they are just knitting and singing. Wait, I have a text.

Me: What does it say?

Nell: “Found treasure. On our way back. H. Xx”

Me: How exciting.

Nell: I need to get rid of the corgis before they get here.

Me: That’s awfully harsh, Nell. They haven’t done anything to you.

Nell: Not mass murder, you fool. Distraction. Good grief. Who do you think I am? Attila the Hound? Now, go away and let me think.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Beach barbecue

Me: So, what’s happening?

Nell: We are on the island and plans have been made. Jonathan is working on his digging skills while I keep an eye on proceedings.

Me: What are the plans?

Nell: Poppy is organising a barbecue. Hot dogs, of course, and loaded barkers with fries.

Me: Tasty.

Nell: Mutley is running the bar. Poppy Coladas and his speciality, Dry Muttinis.

Me: They are awfully strong.

Nell: Exactly. After dinner we will all play Shenanigans. David and The Cat are in charge of entertainment.

Me: They are good at that.

Nell: Yes. Captain Hiro keeps the treasure map under his hat so while the corgis sing, hats will be exchanged and The Cat will secure the map. It’s very deft of paw.

Me: Clever. Won’t Ken notice?

Nell: Harriet will invite Ken to dance so he won’t be noticing anything.

Me: What about Coleton Fishacre?

Nell: He will be helping Poppy with dessert. He simply can’t resist a banana. Greedy animal.

Me: And Jonathan?

Nell: Jonathan will have a hot dog for tea, then his bottle of milk and a story as usual. He will sleep next to me. You don’t think I am going to let all this interfere with his routine, do you?

Me: I wondered.

Nell: At first light we will leave camp in search of the treasure while Captain Hiro and the others sleep off the excesses of the night before.

Me: Gosh! You are going to have to be awfully quiet. Can Dave do that?

Nell: David has been practising quietness all day. Harriet and Jonathan played “What’s the time Mr Wolfhound? and he managed to creep up right near them without them hearing a thing. Stop being a doubting dormouse. We can do this.

Me: Ok, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island


Me: Have you reached the island?

Nell: Nearly. David and Ken have been scouting the area on one of the coracles. They are funny little boats. A couple of the corgis joined them but quite frankly they were about as useful as a lead with no collar. However one of them, I think it was Rhys, took this photo on David’s iBone.

Me: It’s good. So you are getting on with the corgis then?

Nell: Yes, they sing a lot. It’s a Welsh thing. Harriet loves it. We were all enjoying it until Coleton Fishacre started rapping.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Anyway, you know I have my suspicions about Captain Hiro and his pirate past?

Me: Yes.

Nell: It seems my fears are justified.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Poppy was busy preparing some fish for supper on deck when she overheard him discussing his dastardly plan with Ken.

Me: Why are you whispering?

Nell: Because Coleton Fishacre is involved and that monkey gets everywhere. Fortunately The Cat can get everywhere too, so it is keeping an eye on him.

Me: Good. What did Poppy hear?

Nell: Captain Hiro is planning on stealing the treasure and abandoning us all on the island.

Me: No! Even the corgis?

Nell: What’s the matter with you? I don’t know about the corgis. I’m talking about us. Your family.

Me: Yes, of course. What are you going to do?

Nell: I am calling a secret meeting in my cabin after this call. The Cat is making Coleton Fishacre a new waistcoat so he has gone for a fitting. Captain Hiro and Ken are busy navigating, or whatever sailors do, so the coast is clear.

Me: By the way, I thought Captain Hiro only spoke Japanese so how did Poppy know what he was saying?

Nell: Poppy speaks fluent Japanese from her time as a sushi chef in Tokyo. Do keep up. Now where’s my handbag? I have a meeting to chair.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Ship ahoy!

Me: That’s a lovely photo of you all.

Nell: Yes, we were at Dartmouth waiting for the Golden Hound to weigh anchor.

Me: Was everyone on board?

Nell: Unfortunately not. I was expecting Captain Flint. You know that parrot from the Caribbean?

Me: Wasn’t he there?

Nell: No, instead there was a very small monkey called Coleton Fishacre. A good friend of Captain Hiro’s apparently. David went very pale when he saw him. He swears he is the same monkey that the elderly pug had on his shoulder.

Me: You mean the short sighted elderly pug with the monkey on his shoulder who gave Beagle Bones the Black Bowl?

Nell: Yes, but we don’t know he was short sighted. Anyway, all Coleton does is talk about nuts. Nut roast, nut cutlets and if it isn’t nuts it’s bananas. Chatter chatter. So annoying.

Me: Very. So are you all ready for the adventure to begin?

Nell: Yes, all our things are safely stowed away and we set sail at first light. I’m glad the corgis were able to source a few Welsh coracles. Not canoes but still useful.

Me: Don’t you think I should go with you?

Nell: No, someone has to hold the fort at home and I have my mobile. Poppy is sharing a cabin with Harriet. Jonathan is with Mutley. David is with The Cat and I have a cabin of my own.

Me: Who has the map?

Nell: Captain Hiro has the map. Mutley and Jonathan are keeping an eye. Mutley is an experienced yachtsdog, of course, having sailed single handed around the world. It will be the first time he has missed Cowes Week in years.

Me: I learnt to sail you know.

Nell: Yes, I know but it was back in your youth and we want to try and be realistic about our skills, don’t we? I wouldn’t be ship’s nurse if I had just done a First Aid course, now would I?

Me: No, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Do we need canoes?

Nell: If that is Captain Hiroshi Takeda on the phone again someone else is going to have to speak to him. Can you ask Jonathan to get Mutley?

Me: But he’s asleep and he doesn’t speak Japanese either.

Nell: He chartered the Golden Hound so he can answer Captain Hiro’s questions. What do I know about rigging? Apparently it has become one of Dartmouth’s tourist attractions, by the way.

Me: Well, the captain and crew are dogs.

Nell: True. Personally, I think they have more than a little of the pirate about them. Poppy agrees but says not to worry. She has been polishing her sword in between baking, though.

Me: Marvellous Great Aunt Pam said we need spades for digging and canoes.

Nell: Yes. I wonder if we really need canoes. Harriet has gone to the Garden Centre with Jim for spades but I don’t think they do canoes.

Me: Where’s Dave?

Nell: David and The Cat are hiding.

Me: Why?

Nell: Captain Hiro shouted at them because they can’t do sailing knots. He has introduced a dress code, by the way. No feathers, or sequins and hats to be worn at all times.

Me: Oh dear. Thank heavens for Big Ken, at least he speaks a little English and is so much kinder than his brother.

Nell: Yes, He’s fallen helplessly in love with Harriet. Made her a bouquet out of seaweed. Jim is not pleased.

Me: Gosh. So when are we setting sail?

Nell: Very soon. I don’t like the idea of sleeping on board with all those corgis. They get under my paws and they only speak Welsh.

Me: Mae Cymraeg yn iaith hardd.

Nell: Don’t start. I know Welsh is a beautiful language but not many of us speak it and the corgis are being exclusive.

Me: I didn’t know you spoke Welsh.

Nell: Of course. I studied at Aberystwyth. Do keep up.

Me: Sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island


Nell: I’m going to need a lie down.

Me: Why?

Nell: I thought Mutley’s news was bad enough.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: He was supposed to organise a sturdy modern cruiser but now we have a tall ship.

Me: You mean the old fashioned sailing vessel?

Nell: I do.

Me: Hopefully the captain will know how to sail her.

Nell: Which is where we come to the second problem. The captain.

Me: Why?

Nell: He is a Shiba Inu.

Me: A what?

Nell: He’s called Hiroshi Takeda. He comes from Japan and he has a wooden leg.

Me: I hope we can call him Hiro.

Nell: So that’s all you are worried about?

Me: Well, no, but it would be easier.

Nell: Good grief! We are about to set sail on a tall ship with a Shiba Inu. Oh, and let’s not forget his brother, Ken, who is an Akita Inu, first mate and bigger than David.

Me: Ken?

Nell: It’s a popular name in Japan. Be thankful. Poppy insists they are experienced and the best we can get at short notice.

Me: I can’t wait to meet the crew.

Nell: They are all corgis and don’t speak a word of Japanese.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Just pull the curtains please before you leave.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

Making plans

Me: Where’s Jonathan?

Nell: In the garden going through a few ideas with Harriet before lunch. Poppy is cooking roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as it’s Jonathan’s favourite.

Me: It is.

Nell: We might as well enjoy a family Sunday lunch while we can, as there is so much to do.

Me: So it’s definitely a treasure map?

Nell: Yes, and we are all agreed that it would be churlish not to go and find it. “Never question an extra biscuit” is my motto.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Now, everyone has their task.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: Mutley is chartering a boat. It will need to be a big one, obviously. Fortunately he has the finances to do so. Jonathan and Kev have been advising.

Me: Good.

Nell: David and Poppy are going into Dartmouth later to find a captain and crew. Unfortunately they are also taking The Cat.

Me: Oh dear. Shouldn’t you be doing that?

Nell: I’m far too busy coordinating everything here with Kev and Harriet. John the Doberman and Jim the farm dog are assisting.

Me: What about me?

Nell: You are going to Combeinteignhead with Jonathan and Alice.

Me: Why are we going there?

Nell: Great Aunt Pam and Cousin Tess have kindly agreed to give us their advice.

Me: Do they know about treasure hunting?

Nell: We are talking about Marvellous Great Aunt Pam here. Everyone has heard of her exploits. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about treasure.

Me: Gosh. I didn’t know.

Nell: Now, I’m expecting a call from Meghan so you need to give me some space.

Me: Is she coming with us?

Nell: Of course not. She is struggling with the whole beige tights and skirts instead of trouser suits issue and needs some sensible advice. Do keep up.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · Treasure Island

A letter for Dave

Nell: Tony’s here. He’s got a letter for David.

Me: Oh no! It’s the Black Bowl.

Nell: Would you please calm down?

Me: Dave is going to have to go on the run.

Nell: Firstly, David is not a pirate, or a traitor. Secondly, as far as I know from Poppy, the Black Bowl is always handed over personally from one pirate to another and Tony is not a pirate either.

Me: He sings sea shanties.

Nell: Enough. It’s probably just David’s latest bank statement.

Me: Barklays?

Nell: No. We prefer Lloyd’s Bark. Bring me the letter.

Me: Dave says it’s from Beagle Bones.

Nell: Now, this is interesting. It’s a map. A really old one.

Me: Why would Bones send it to Dave?

Nell: This is a very special map. Very special, indeed. I’m calling a family meeting and make sure Alice and Jonathan attend. We need as many involved as we can.

Me: I’m quite good at map reading.

Nell: I would prefer you to listen. I’m afraid less is more in your case. We don’t need you confusing the issue with your over active imagination.

Me: Yes. Sorry.