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Poppy is home

Me: It’s so wonderful to have little Poppy home.

Nell: Yes, I know. Try and give her some time to recover. She is exhausted. David is watching over her.

Me: But where has all her hair gone? She had long wild hair the last time we saw her.

Nell: Yes, I know. Sally warned me that this might happen.

Me: Sally knew?

Nell: There have been mysterious clippings going on recently across the country. Sally is investigating.

Me: It’s a professional job.

Nell: Yes. Whoever did it knew what they were doing.

Me: I never had Squawk down as a dog groomer.

Nell: It wasn’t Squawk. He’s working for someone.

Me: Tell me from the beginning.

Nell: When David and Gladys arrived at the hut they could smell the bacon sizzling. They had managed to light the fire and Poppy was cooking the bacon.

Me: Clever Poppy. She knew we would smell it.

Nell: The door was locked but David broke it down.

Me: He’ll do anything for bacon.

Nell: He was rescuing Poppy.

Me: Yes, of course. What happened then?

Nell: David wrapped Poppy up in a soft blanket from Knitwear Wolf and brought her straight home.

Me: Was there enough room in the sidecar for Poppy and Terry?

Nell: Yes. Gladys sat behind David.

Me: In a suit of armour?

Nell: Nothing bothers Gladys.

Me: Has Poppy been able to explain what happened yet?

Nell: She needs to rest. Sally says we must give her time.

Me: Has she said anything at all, Nell?

Nell: No.

Me: What about Terry?

Nell: Nothing. I’m sure they will talk soon.

Me: You don’t think they took Poppy’s voice when they stole her hair, do you?

Nell: Don’t be silly. This is the real world not a story.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Rescue Begins

Me: Where are you and Harriet?

Nell: In the field. What on earth are you wearing?

Me: Kev and I are in disguise.

Nell: Why?

Me: You said we could be part of the backup team.

Nell: Good grief. Just make sure Squawk doesn’t leave the house.

Me: Naughty Nigel, Boo and Seamus are here, too.

Nell: I know. They are aware and Nigel will use force if necessary.

Me: But what’s going on, Nell? An owl arrived first thing this morning and Dave and Gladys dashed off.

Nell: The owl was Tawny Tim. Owl Pacino sent him to let us know that a trickle of smoke was seen coming from a hut near the sea.

Me: Oh my goodness, Nell. What if Poppy is in danger?

Nell: Of course she is in danger. David has borrowed Knitwear Wolf’s motorbike so he should be there soon. Gladys is riding in the sidecar with Our Penguin.

Me: What’s Our Penguin doing there?

Nell: Filming of course. So we can see what’s happening.

Me: Why does Naughty Nigel need to use force?

Nell: Squawk is one of the Beefies. You don’t think he planned all this alone, do you?

Me: Do you mean we might be attacked?

Nell: Not as long as Squawk doesn’t know we know.

Me: Know what?

Nell: That he isn’t Terry. Wait, there’s a message from David on my iBone.

Me: What does it say?

Nell: ‘Definitely bacon. Approaching the barn cautiously.’

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Stay calm. David can do this. There’s another message.

Me: Tell me.

Nell: ‘Poppy is safe. Repeat. Poppy and Terry are safe.’

Me: Oh Nell. Thank goodness. I’m in tears.

Nell: No crying. Act normally until we get back and make sure Squawk doesn’t go anywhere.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Something is going on

Me: Something is going on, Nell. Dave has mud on his nose and cheeks and Gladys is wearing Poppy’s suit of armour.

Nell: Well spotted, Sherlock Martin.

Me: And there is something very strange about Terry.

Nell: Tell me.

Me: He has a hole in his nose.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: And he really smells of seaweed and not in a good way.

Nell: Interesting.

Me: What if they do the same to Poppy? What if she comes back all quiet and shy with a hole in her nose smelling of seaweed?

Nell: Calm down. Now, I am going to tell you something and you have to promise me that this stays between us.

Me: I can’t. I know everyone will keep quiet about it. Is it about Poppy?

Nell: Indirectly.

Me: It’s about Terry, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes. And bacon.

Me: Bacon? I can’t believe we are discussing bacon at a time like this.

Nell: You know I said Squawk had stolen the bacon when he attacked Terry?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Well, that was because Terry had no bacon on him when he arrived here. But when questioned by Sally, Terry had no knowledge of any bacon.

Me: A bang on the head can do that to you, Nell.

Nell: Yes. Terry seems to have forgotten himself completely, doesn’t he?

Me: He’s certainly asking a lot of questions.

Nell: That’s because Terry isn’t Terry.

Me: What?

Nell: We have reason to believe that Terry is Squawk and the real Terry is imprisoned somewhere with Poppy.

Me. And the bacon?

Nell: Exactly. So, David is going to find her. He is camouflaged and ready with Gladys by his side.

Me: Don’t you think Knitwear Wolf might be better?

Nell: David is doing this his way.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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No Sign

Me: Any sign of Poppy yet?

Nell: No. We looked everywhere.

Me: Have a cup of tea by the fire.

Nell: I can’t rest. I need to be out there searching. Where is Terry?

Me: He’s with PC Panda and Sally going through his statement again.

Nell: I can’t believe Squawk would attack his own brother.

Me: They don’t get on, Nell.

Nell: I don’t get on with Majorie Poops, but you don’t see me hitting her with my handbag.

Me: Squawk doesn’t have a handbag.

Nell: You know what I mean.

Me: Who is Majorie Poops by the way? It’s an unfortunate name.

Nell: Agony aunt for The Growl on Sunday. Goes to my Pilates class.

Me: So, what did Terry say?

Nell: He was on his way to meet Poppy when Squawk burst out of the bushes and attacked him.

Me: Did he steal the bacon?

Nell: Of course.

Me: But what about Poppy? Do you think she saw the attack on Terry?

Nell: Maybe. I wonder where Squawk has taken her.

Me: He’s going to regret it. Poppy is not someone to be pushed around.

Nell: I’m glad she has her long hair at the moment. Better to be scruffy and warm.

Me: It’s odd to see Terry looking all scruffy and smelling of seaweed. He is usually so pristine.

Nell: Yes. He’s not himself at all.

Me: Why is it taking so long?

Nell: Sally is very thorough.

Me: There she is, Nell. She’s waving at you to join them.

Nell: Perhaps there’s been a breakthrough.

Me: You’ll let me know what they say, won’t you? I don’t want to be kept in the dark. She’s my darling Poppy too.

Nell: You are coming in there with me. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Gone

Nell: What do you mean she wasn’t there?

Me: Just have a sip of tea. Malcolm has added a little sugar.

Nell: I don’t like sugar in my tea. Poppy knows that.

Me: Poppy isn’t here, Nell. When they got to the field she had gone.

Nell: But she can’t have gone. What did Terry say?

Me: Terry wasn’t there either.

Nell: I need to talk to Rupert.

Me: Knitwear Wolf is in a meeting with Sally and Harriet. I’m sure they will update you when it’s over.

Nell: No. I’m not going to be updated. This is my fault. I need to be in that meeting too.

Me: They will find Poppy soon. I’m sure of it.

Nell: She doesn’t even have her sword.

Me: Poppy doesn’t need a sword. She might be small but she is fierce.

Nell: What is all that weeping and wailing?

Me: It’s Babycakes Gillespie. He can’t stop crying. He brought you some bagels but they are a bit wet, to be honest, and salty.

Nell: I couldn’t eat anything.

Me: It’s having the opposite effect on Dave. He’s had four bowls of cereal already and he doesn’t even like it.

Nell: Is John the Doberman here?

Me: Yes. Knitwear Wolf called him. Everyone is here. The fields are full of animals searching.

Nell: They all love Poppy.

Me: Try not to worry. I’m sure Sally will know what to do.

Nell: Do you think this has something to do with why Sally is here?

Me: Maybe.

Nell: I heard a knock. Is that someone at the door?

Me: I’ll go and see.

Nell: Who is it? Why are you looking at me like that?

Me: It’s Terry. He looks very bruised and battered.

Nell: Is Poppy with him?

Me: No. She isn’t. Sorry.

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Trapped

Me: What’s the matter?

Nell: Poppy is trapped. Knitwear Wolf and David have gone to rescue her. Squawk is involved.

Me: What do you mean trapped? What is Squawk doing there?

Nell: I hope they can get her out.

Me: What happened?

Nell: We were out walking in the fields when we heard a strange noise.

Me: What kind of noise?

Nell: Wounded animal.

Me: Why were you out walking alone?

Nell: I had arranged to meet Terry, and Poppy insisted on coming with me.

Me: Why didn’t Terry come to the house like he usually does?

Nell: It was a special delivery.

Me: To a field? What on earth was Terry delivering? A picnic?

Nell: No. Bacon.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: Yes.

Me: You know bacon is off the menu at the moment, Nell.

Nell: Yes. I know. Poppy was furious when I told her. She said I was ruining her carefully planned healthy eating regime.

Me: Were those really her words?

Nell: She called me a dastardly Diet Breaker.

Me: That sounds more like Poppy.

Nell: She said Terry could keep his wretched bacon and that’s when we heard the noise.

Me: The wounded animal?

Nell: Yes. Poppy didn’t have her sword with her, so she grabbed a sharp stick and went to investigate.

Me: Typical.

Nell: I told her not to go alone, but she insisted.

Me: She’s such a fearless little thing.

Nell: The next thing we knew, the gate slammed shut with Poppy trapped behind it.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: I tried to open it but I couldn’t. I shouted for help and that’s when I saw Squawk.

Me: With the bacon?

Nell: That’s not the point. He was hiding in the bushes. Poppy is trapped, Squawk is involved and where is Terry?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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No Bacon Faces

Me: You and Dave are looking a bit down in the mouth.

Nell: These are our No Bacon faces.

Me: It’s just for now, Nell.

Nell: It’s Sunday. Sunday is a day for bacon and roast dinners.

Me: You never know you might actually enjoy the venison casserole.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: It is delicious at this time of year, especially with cranberries.

Nell: Cranberries? Are you saying there’s no roast either?

Me: Venison is a lean meat. Poppy has a wonderful recipe and there will be lots of lovely vegetables. I think you might be surprised.

Nell: I was surprised at a thin dry piece of toast and no marmalade.

Me: There’s a huge selection of fruit and cereals.

Nell: I’m leaving those to our feathered friends, thank you.

Me: Talking of feathered friends, did I see Terry here earlier?

Nell: Terry?

Me: Yes. I was surprised as it’s Sunday.

Nell: He was probably here for Sunday Songs.

Me: No, he left before they started.

Nell: ‘Singing in the Rain’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Me: Did Princess mean to roll down the hill?

Nell: Who knows. She clapped herself afterwards, but that might have been relief.

Me: It’s a seal thing. I’m sure I saw Terry coming out of the living room.

Nell: I’ve allowed David to rest on the warm blanket. He is still recovering from his bumped leg.

Me: Are you changing the subject?

Nell: We will enjoy a nice cup of tea together.

Me: Did you Book a Beefy?

Nell: I presume Earl Grey is still allowed.

Me: If you’ve sent Terry off to get you treats, I will find out.

Nell: Did you hear David’s tummy rumbling? Maybe you could get him a carrot. He’s obviously struggling.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

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Seriously?

Me: Why are you looking at me like that?

Nell: When were you going to tell me?

Me: Tell you what?

Nell: That I was going to be put in that box full of water again and made to walk for hours.

Me: It wasn’t hours, Nell. It was your hydrotherapy and Chloe gave you a lovely massage.

Nell: It doesn’t feel that lovely this morning.

Me: You’re just a bit achy. Chloe says you have to lose weight.

Nell: I know. I was there when she told Kev.

Me: Poppy knows all about it, so there aren’t going to be any scones, or bacon sandwiches for a while, just lots of vegetables and fresh fruit.

Nell: Fresh fruit? I suppose I could manage a little apple crumble with custard, or cream.

Me: No crumble, Nell, and definitely no cream.

Nell: If you think I am going to stand by and nibble on a carrot while everyone else wallows in cake and trifle, then you are sadly mistaken?

Me: Trifle? We haven’t had trifle in ages.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: We’re all going to try and eat healthily.

Nell: David is never going to survive without bacon.

Me: Let’s see, shall we? How about joining in this morning’s Glide with Gladys?

Nell: Do I look like I want to be gliding anywhere?

Me: You will be pleased when you’ve done it. The llamas are in fine form today. They have colourful umbrellas and Wellington boots.

Nell: So, instead of settling down in front of the fire to watch Saturday Kitchen with a cup of Earl Grey and a shortbread biscuit, you think I’m going to put on lycra and start leaping around in the rain with umbrella wielding llamas?

Me: Yes.

Nell: It is never going to happen.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Frothy Sea

Me: The sea was really frothy yesterday.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Like a bubble bath. It made me want to jump right in.

Nell: I wouldn’t. It’s extremely cold.

Me: The kite surfers didn’t care.

Nell: They’re wearing wetsuits.

Me: Harriet doesn’t care either.

Nell: Harriet is an extreme swimmer.

Me: You used to go in more. You’re a little wary now.

Nell: I am a Labrador of a certain age.

Me: True.

Nell: One thinks twice about running into freezing water.

Me: You didn’t think twice about running into that bulldog.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: He was coming over to say hello and you body checked him.

Nell: I merely gave him a little nudge in the right direction. He wasn’t adhering to the social distancing rules.

Me: It wasn’t very friendly. You’re becoming a bit grumpy in your old age.

Nell: I shall be 9 next month and deserve a little respect. I don’t appreciate being bounced.

Me: You had better tell Poppy then.

Nell: Yes. Poppy never gets tired of bouncing people.

Me: Poppy is a disgrace on the beach. Shouting at everyone and trying to chase dogs of all shapes and sizes. Thank goodness the puppies are friendly.

Nell: Or even over friendly in David’s case.

Me: He’s going to love it when we can have friends and family to visit us again, isn’t he?

Nell: We are all going to love it.

Me: Yes.

Nell: You aren’t the only one who’s been missing them, you know.

Me: Well, that’s good because I was talking to my sister Charlotte and her three boys are coming to spend the day with us next Friday.

Nell: Are you talking about Naughty Nigel, Seamus and Boo?

Me: Yes, isn’t that lovely?

Nell: The whole day?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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It’s the thought that counts

Me: Could we discuss muddy paws, please?

Nell: Can’t we talk later? David and I are enjoying the early morning sunshine.

Me: I only just cleaned the floor and look at it now?

Nell: I don’t know what you expect us to do.

Me: Couldn’t you wear slippers like Kev and I?

Nell: I beg your pardon? We aren’t all llamas.

Me: What does that mean?

Nell: Haven’t you noticed their slippers?

Me: No.

Nell: We can’t take our paws off at the door.

Me: I know that. But you can wipe your paws on the mat.

Nell: We do.

Me: You most definitely don’t.

Nell: Sometimes we simply don’t have the time.

Me: Everything is covered in mud. Even the chairs.

Nell: Stop making such a fuss. It’ll rub off eventually.

Me: I know it will. On me and Kev.

Nell: Perhaps you can provide towels and warm water and wait at the door to wash and dry our feet as we come in?

Me: I’ll be there all day then, Nell. There are so many of you. If you could just wipe your feet on the mat.

Nell: We are certainly intending to do that, so the thought is there.

Me: Intending isn’t doing.

Nell: Don’t you always say, ‘It’s the thought that counts’?

Me: That’s something else entirely.

Nell: Maybe slippers are the answer. We would need them in a wide range of sizes, of course, and labelled with each animal’s name.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: There would have to be pairs at the front and back doors and a place to store them. I’m sure Poppy won’t mind them cluttering up her kitchen.

Me: I give up.

Nell: Was that all? Only David and I want to make the most of the sun.

Me: Yes. Sorry.