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Something To Long For

Me: I wonder what Harriet is thinking about?

Nell: The sea.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: It’s always the sea with Harriet.

Me: It might be Jim the Farm Dog.

Nell: I doubt it.

Me: She’s awfully fond of him.

Nell: Trust me. It’s the sea.

Me: You’re probably right.

Nell: Now, I’m afraid we need to give David some difficult news.

Me: Have we run out of bacon?

Nell: No. Tony is on holiday all this week so he won’t be visiting us.

Me: Oh dear. Dave isn’t going to like that. Couldn’t we just not mention it and hope he doesn’t notice?

Nell: Not notice? David lives for visits from Tony. We need to break it to him gently and remind him Tony will be back next week.

Me: Tony’s visits for Dave are like Harriet’s visits to the sea.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Something to long for.

Nell: Moving on, I have something important to discuss with you.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It concerns The Platinum Jubilee Pudding.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: It’s a trifle.

Me: I love a good trifle.

Nell: You aren’t going to like this one.

Me: Why?

Nell: It’s made with oranges and mandarins.

Me: I’m allergic to oranges.

Nell: Yes, I know but this is the pudding that’s been chosen for The Queen.

Me: The Queen can have it. I’ll have mine without oranges.

Nell: Poppy said you would say that. The thing is, we would all like to try it.

Me: Oh, I see. Well, that’s understandable. I can just watch you all with an empty bowl.

Nell: How about a banana split instead?

Me: I love a banana split. It’s my favourite.

Nell: I was never going to leave you with an empty bowl you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sensitive Sunday

Me: It’s very quiet in here this morning.

Nell: Keep your voice down, please. We are having a Sensitive Sunday.

Me: Is Dave doing some kind of interpretive dance?

Nell: No. He is Getting In Touch With His Inner Self.

Me: He might just be asleep.

Nell: Whatever works for him.

Me: Can I ask why you’re doing this?

Nell: Poppy may be slightly out of control so we’re trying to create an atmosphere of calm and sensitivity around her to encourage her to relax.

Me: Well, there’s not a great deal of sensitivity going on in the kitchen.

Nell: I know. We’re hoping she’ll join us in a minute for some Quiet Time.

Me: I wouldn’t hold your breath. She was making bread when I saw her and there was a lot of vigorous kneading.

Nell: Maybe Sunday Songs will help. The Welsh Corgi Choir are singing lullabies.

Me: In the morning?

Nell: And the llamas are going to roll down the field.

Me: Why?

Nell: Why not?

Me: Watching a llama roll down a field isn’t exactly the most interesting thing I can think of.

Nell: It’s not meant to be.

Me: Unless they bump into each other which would be hilarious.

Nell: They are going to roll slowly and sensitively.

Me: This has disaster written all over it. I can’t wait.

Nell: Why don’t you just go back upstairs and carry on with your writing.

Me: Can’t I do it down here?

Nell: Only if you do it quietly and stop asking questions.

Me: I hope Sensitive Sunday doesn’t mean we’re not having a roast.

Nell: Of course we are having a roast. You can’t be Sensitive on an empty stomach.

Me: Poppy might be too relaxed to cook.

Nell: And pugs might fly.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An Eventful Walk

Me: All in all it was a lovely walk.

Nell: The beginning was. I became a little tired towards the end.

Me: You and I just pace ourselves. The others can wait.

Nell: Except some of them don’t.

Me: No. We should probably address the elephant in the room.

Nell: I certainly hope not. I’m too tired for elephants.

Me: I’m talking about Poppy and her escape.

Nell: I had no idea she had concealed the cutlass in her harness.

Me: Or that she could wriggle out of it so quickly.

Nell: One minute she was there.

Me: And the next Kev was left with a Poppyless lead.

Nell: And an empty harness dangling on the end of it.

Me: We should start calling her Poudini.

Nell: Please don’t. I blame the young collie.

Me: It was just having fun.

Nell: It ran through the middle of our pack.

Me: It was a mistake.

Nell: If it had been a mature animal it would never have done that.

Me: Really?

Nell: No. Everyone knows you must never run through a pack of dogs. It is reckless and foolish.

Me: Poppy overreacted massively. She chased it all over the beach.

Nell: With a cutlass in her mouth.

Me: One minute they were on the rocks, the next they were on the beach.

Nell: Dangerously close to the No Dogs Allowed notice.

Me: Yes, I saw that.

Nell: I’m afraid there is no stopping Poppy when she is provoked.

Me: I have to say, Nell, it looked like they were both having enormous fun.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous.

Me: They were quite a match for each other with their speed and windswept hair. It was exciting to watch.

Nell: That is not the point. It never should have happened.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Tony and the Neon Green Chew

Me: Well, that was a surprise.

Nell: What was?

Me: You and Harriet running to the gate to greet Tony before Dave.

Nell: David needs to stay alert if he’s going to keep up with us girls.

Me: Dave got his cuddles later.

Nell: He did.

Me: He even offered Tony his Neon Green Chew.

Nell: David’s not really offering it, you know. He would never let it go. Harriet tried to take it earlier but he wasn’t having any of it.

Me: Harriet is surprisingly strong, isn’t she? Almost like Poppy.

Nell: No one is like Poppy. She has amazing strength.

Me: And force of will.

Nell: Exactly. She’s the only one who has actually managed to take the Neon Green Chew away from David.

Me: Really?

Nell: Oh yes. David tried to keep hold of it but then she mumbled under her breath ‘I would let that go, Sunny Jim, if I were you.’

Me: She called Dave ‘Sunny Jim’?

Nell: She did.

Me: Do we know why?

Nell: She does that when she’s in a piratey mood.

Me: And did he?

Nell: Did he what?

Me: Let the Neon Green Chew go?

Nell: Of course he did. When Poppy says ‘Sunny Jim’ you give in at once. Resistance is futile.

Me: I’ll remember that.

Nell: I would.

Me: What’s your opinion on fluffy pillows?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Kev and I got new pillows and now I have a stiff neck.

Nell: They need a bit of Squashing In. I’ll do it for you later.

Me: That’s ok, Nell. I’ll do it myself.

Nell: I’d leave it to me, Sunny Jim, if I were you.

Me: Did you just say ‘Sunny Jim’?

Nell: I didn’t say it was only used by Poppy.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Pretty Perfect

Me: Look at Harriet’s dear little face.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I think Harriet might be as beautiful as Dave is handsome, especially when she gives me that soft eyed look.

Nell: Harriet is a lovely Chocolate Labrador.

Me: She is perfectly adorable. Just like her brother.

Nell: Please don’t bring perfection into this.

Me: Why not?

Nell: It is impossible to achieve. Striving for perfection can only result in disappointment.

Me: Well, I think you’re all perfect already so no striving is needed.

Nell: Kind of you to say so but please don’t.

Me: Why?

Nell: Well rounded animals need imperfections too.

Me: What about Whippets?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Speaking as a well rounded person I feel the slimmer community should be included.

Nell: That is not what I was saying and you know it.

Me: I was only joking. You’re right. It would be a boring old world without imperfections.

Nell: It would.

Me: Imagine Poppy as an easy going chef with neatly brushed hair and nothing but a whisk in her paw.

Nell: You can do a lot with a whisk.

Me: Or Dave only ever eating what he’s given and never sitting on visitors or offering spontaneous affection.

Nell: Hard to imagine.

Me: Or Harriet only putting her paws in the sea instead of rushing into the waves with her whole self.

Nell: How else can you rush into the waves?

Me: You know what I mean.

Nell: I do.

Me: Or you never thinking you’re right all the time and telling everyone what to do.

Nell: I am right all the time so that’s never going to happen.

Me: You’re not right about Lionel King, Nell. He’s a bad lion.

Nell: Didn’t we just say imperfections are necessary?

Me: Not that many. Sorry.

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Maturing Marvellously

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy is maturing marvellously. Look at that gorgeous face.

Nell: David is not a cheese.

Me: No, but there’s a new sort of maturity about him recently. Haven’t you noticed?

Nell: If you call trying to cartwheel with the llamas mature then you might be right.

Me: I’m not sure cartwheeling is a good idea.

Nell: It isn’t. His legs are far too short and sturdy for cartwheels. He just fell over.

Me: But that’s what llamas do.

Nell: David is a pedigree Labrador. He has standards to maintain.

Me: True.

Nell: He should stick to tap dancing.

Me: You might be right.

Nell: And maybe a little Ballroom when the Strictly season starts.

Me: No Latin?

Nell: We’ll see how it goes. It depends on the dance.

Me: Yes. I’m not sure those large puffy sleeves are right for him.

Nell: Or anyone. Now, you have a writing workshop this afternoon.

Me: Yes, I know I do.

Nell: I thought I might join you.

Me: You can’t.

Nell: I most certainly can. I have before.

Me: You’re going to see Chloe with Kev. It’s your massage and hydrotherapy session.

Nell: Why didn’t somebody tell me?

Me: I’m telling you now.

Nell: I need to put it in my diary. I could have easily been double booked.

Me: It’s on the whiteboard.

Nell: I don’t bother with that. It’s full of nonsense like shopping lists. Where’s my handbag?

Me: I think Gladys is using it.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: She needed some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle.

Nell: Why is David carrying it then?

Me: He’s taking her over to the Big House.

Nell: In my handbag?

Me: Yes, otherwise the llamas will see her.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.

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Jam, or Lorraine?

Me: I’m glad we went down to the beach. A Thinking Walk was just what I needed.

Nell: Yes, I do my best Thinking by the sea.

Me: Harriet does hers in the sea. There’s no stopping her.

Nell: I know. As soon as we go down the path and she sees the water she’s off.

Me: Bless her. Even Poppy seemed lost in thought today.

Nell: Poppy has a lot to think about.

Me: Matters of the heart?

Nell: No. Jam.

Me: Jam?

Nell: It’s the age old decision between strawberry and raspberry.

Me: Personally, I prefer raspberry except for when I’m eating scones. Then it has to be strawberry.

Nell: I agree. Where do you stand on tarts?

Me: I like a lemon tart.

Nell: Don’t bring lemons into this. We’re talking jam. David has asked for jam tarts for tea.

Me: Oh, so it’s a Matter of the Tart then? See what I did there?

Nell: Just pick a jam, please.

Me: Strawberry is the conventional choice but raspberry would work.

Nell: So would blackberry.

Me: Or marmalade, maybe even red onion?

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: Red onion marmalade is a real thing, Nell. It’s delicious in a goat’s cheese tart.

Nell: Onions are bad for dogs. These tarts are for David. Remember?

Me: Oh yes. Maybe we should just forget the jam and go straight to Quiche Lorraine.

Nell: Who’s Quiche Lorraine? I’ve never heard of her. Why would we go to her when we’re trying to make an important decision?

Me: I’m talking about a cheese and bacon tart.

Nell: Why mention Lorraine then?

Me: I thought Dave might prefer it.

Nell: David asked for jam tarts, not Quiche Lorraine, whoever she is. He is devoted to Sally. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A Sad Day

Nell: We are very sad today.

Me: Yes, we are, Nell.

Nell: You lost a dear friend to cancer yesterday evening.

Me: I did. She was such a vibrant, active woman. It’s very hard to believe she has gone.

Nell: She was one of your writer friends.

Me: Yes, she loved to write.

Nell: And she was a great supporter of your writing.

Me: Yes, she was. I remember when I got the publishing deal she was so happy for me.

Nell: She read our conversations every day and she loved the book.

Me: She did. In fact her recipes are going to be in the next book.

Nell: They are. She was an excellent cook.

Me: Why do people have to leave, Nell?

Nell; Because others are arriving. And they never really leave you know.

Me: Yes.

Nell: You might not be able to see them but if you close your eyes you will feel they are still there.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And if you listen really carefully you will hear them.

Me: She certainly had a lot to say so that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Nell: And in the meantime I am here any time you want to talk.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: And David is available all day for extra cuddles.

Me: Isn’t he supposed to be guarding Poppy?

Nell: John the Doberman is coming over. In fact everyone is.

Me: Really?

Nell: We are one big family. In times like these we need each other.

Me: Yes, we do.

Nell: So, how about a nice cup of Earl Grey and some of Poppy’s shortbread?

Me: That sounds lovely.

Nell: We can curl up on the sofa and talk about your friend.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: You and Me. Always. Never forget that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Poppy Sings

Me: Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting Poppy to break into song like that.

Nell: Nobody was. She can’t even sing.

Me: She seemed to be enjoying herself enormously.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir were stunned into complete silence.

Me: I know. Even the llamas stopped cartwheeling.

Nell: And that never happens.

Me: No. Not often, anyway.

Nell: You’re not supposed to Suddenly Sing at Sunday Songs. There’s a running order.

Me: I don’t think Poppy cares about things like running orders. She’s more of a spontaneous sort of animal.

Nell: And why was David snorting?

Me: I think he was actually beatboxing.

Nell: It sounded like he had something stuck in his throat.

Me: Poppy seemed ever so pleased with herself after it was over.

Nell: We were all pleased that it was over.

Me: That’s not what I meant.

Nell: At least she wasn’t wearing that threatening hat.

Me: I don’t think her hat is threatening. It’s rather sweet.

Nell: It’s not suitable for a Sunday.

Me: Do you think I should wear a hat to afternoon tea with my sisters?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Chris got me a voucher for afternoon tea at the Thurlestone Hotel for Mothers Day so I’m using it today.

Nell: And what about me?

Me: No dogs are allowed in the dining room, I’m afraid.

Nell: Sit outside then.

Me: The forecast is for rain, Nell.

Nell: I am most disappointed in you.

Me: I’ll bring you back a scone, or a piece of cake.

Nell: Don’t bother. I’ll be fine in my lonely hat with a cup of Earl Grey and a stale biscuit.

Me: Stop exaggerating. Biscuits never get stale in this house. Poppy wouldn’t allow it and we have Dave.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Second in Command

Me: Have you seen Dave’s hat? I don’t know why he’s wearing it but he looks magnificent.

Nell: I have seen it, thank you. Poppy gave it to him as her second in command.

Me: In command of what?

Nell: Have you seen Poppy’s hat?

Me: No.

Nell: Well, you might want to do that now. She’s upstairs.

Me: This is exciting.

Nell: Just go and report back to me in the living room. I shall be watching Saturday Kitchen.

Me: I’m going now.

Nell: I don’t need a running commentary, thank you. Just look and leave. Don’t engage in conversation.

Me: I’m back. Poppy looks awfully sweet and a tiny bit fierce.

Nell: And what else?

Me: She’s dressed as a pirate.

Nell: I’m glad you noticed.

Me: Should we be worried?

Nell: Possibly, although a Little Concerned will do for now.

Me: I didn’t notice the cutlass.

Nell: It was there, believe me. She’s taken to hiding it under her fur.

Me: Do you think pirateyness can be catching?

Nell: There is no such word and no, I don’t.

Me: It’s just that Dave has a distinct whiff of the pirate about him today too.

Nell: David has a distinct whiff of bacon about him.

Me: It’s Saturday, Nell. Bacon sandwiches all round. Dave’s looking ever so grand, don’t you think?

Nell: David takes any role he is given very seriously.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Captain of a ship.

Nell: What ship?

Me: There has to be a ship. You can’t be a pirate without one.

Nell: If there is a ship, and I’m sincerely hoping there isn’t, Poppy will be the captain.

Me: Of course. Do you know why pirates are called pirates?

Nell: I do not.

Me: Because they arrrr.

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.