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How did you know?

Me: How did you know a kiss was just what I needed?

Nell: You and me. Remember? I know these things.

Me: Well, thank you. I know it isn’t something you do lightly. You’re not the kissing type.

Nell: I’m certainly not.

Me: Unlike Dave.

Nell: David is exceptionally cuddly. He loves a PDA.

Me: Public Display of Affection?

Nell: Public Demand for Affection you mean.

Me: Harriet’s the same and she is also generous with her kisses.

Nell: Yes, we have all been kissed by Harriet.

Me: We have.

Nell: But not everyone wears their heart on their collar, you know. It is perfectly acceptable to be reserved.

Me: True. Poppy can be very wary.

Nell: Can you blame her after that shocking incident with the over affectionate poodle?

Me: It was a little full on for a barista.

Nell: You don’t expect to be kissed when you’re just popping out for a quick Starbarks.

Me: No.

Nell: Poppy was quite taken aback. It was lucky for the poodle that she wasn’t carrying her sword.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I think John the Doberman is going to have to let it go. It can’t be trusted with the new social distancing rules.

Me: Is Starbarks open again then?

Nell: Yes. Only takeaways, of course, but John says he can finally see light at the end of the funnel.

Me: Don’t you mean tunnel?

Nell: I do not. Have you never heard of pour over coffee?

Me: Do you mean filter coffee?

Nell: Yes. The filter goes in the funnel.

Me: I see. You made my day with that morning kiss, Nell. It was so unexpected.

Nell: Unexpected kisses are the best. Except for Poppy and that poodle, of course. Now, can we get on with our day?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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No hot options

Me: Dave says there was no breakfast this morning and he’s not sure how he is going to get through the day.

Nell: David is exaggerating. There was no hot breakfast today. Just cereal and fruit. Poppy is staying in her palace.

Me: Is she unwell?

Nell: No. She’s too hot.

Me: Lockdown hair. I’m the same.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: You wouldn’t understand, Nell, because you have self adjusting hair that never really grows.

Nell: I’ll have you know that I used to thoroughly enjoy a visit to the hairdressers.

Me: Yes, but you didn’t need it like Poppy and I. You just got a little tufty.

Nell: A little tufty? Do you mind?

Me: At least Poppy isn’t going grey like me.

Nell: I have told you before that we mature ladies should just embrace our grey. It is a badge of honour.

Me: Do you think lunch is going to be cold, too?

Nell: Yes. Malcolm is preparing a selection of salads and some cold meats with fish for the non meat eaters.

Me: Does Dave know there are no hot options?

Nell: David will just have to deal with it. If he is a very good animal there might be ice cream later.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. But I suppose everyone needs a pyjama day.

Nell: Talking of pyjamas, have you seen the llamas new outfits?

Me: No.

Nell: The Cat and Knitwear Wolf have brought out some colourful shorty pyjamas as part of their summer range.

Me: Do the pyjamas come in all sizes?

Nell: They do but please don’t think of wearing them.

Me: Actually, I was thinking of Henry and Horst.

Nell: Don’t be silly. Woodlice like to sleep au natural. Everyone knows that.

Me: I didn’t. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Darling Faye

Me: This time last year Baby Snail finally arrived. My darling little granddaughter.

Nell: I remember it well.

Me: And now Rainbow is one.

Nell: Her name is Faye Raine.

Me: We usually call her Fayely Whaley.

Nell: I know. Why did you choose that photo of me?

Me: It makes me laugh. You didn’t really want to play puzzles.

Nell: I showed more enthusiasm than Poppy.

Me: True.

Nell: Do you want to hear Faye’s poem?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘This is a day for treats and fun

Because someone we love has just turned one.’

‘Someone we love?’ I hear you say.

‘Has just turned one? It must be Faye.

It can’t be Jonathan Sky’, you roar,

‘Because Jonathan Sky is nearly four.’

‘Of course it’s Faye and please remember

That Jonathan won’t be four ’til September.’

Me: Clever use of ’til there.

Nell: Thank you. May I continue?

Me: Please do.

Nell: ‘Now though you’re very far away

We’re with you in spirit darling Faye.

If we shout to the sky which is awfully blue

We know our message will get to you.

So Happy Birthday Fayely Whaley from all of us here.

We love you so much. We hold you so dear.

Being one is a truly wonderful thing.

It’s a reason to smile and wriggle and sing.

It’s a reason for cake and candles and laughter

And happiness always and forever after.

Granny and Grandpa, Harriet and Dave

Assorted animals and Poppy the Brave

Are all waving our paws and wagging our tails

And celebrating Fayely and birthdays and whales.

So stay safe my darlings and know this is true

We love you all Fayely and Happy Birthday to you.’

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Just like the family. No tears now. Not today.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Weak Animal

Me: What on earth are Poppy and Dave doing with Tony?

Nell: Playing ‘Weak Animal’.

Me: ‘Weak Animal’? What’s that?

Nell: We play it with you all the time.

Me: No, you don’t. I’ve never played ‘Weak Animal’ in my life.

Nell: When we lie down and lift a weak paw have you ever talked in a baby voice and stroked our tummies?

Me: I’ve done that.

Nell: Exactly. Do keep up.

Me: But Tony is behind the gate.

Nell: Yes, that’s why Poppy was helping. She was encouraging David to stretch his leg as high as he could without leaving the ground.

Me: Why?

Nell: You can only win ‘Weak Animal’ if you are stroked from a lying down position.

Me: Did he manage it?

Nell: Yes. Tony stretched too. He’s a good player.

Me: Has anyone ever lost ‘Weak Animal’?

Nell: Insects don’t do well. Llamas are excellent at it, of course.

Me: How are the llamas, by the way?

Nell: Fully recovered. Back in pyjamas with no hats, or a trace of a Welsh accent.

Me: That’s a relief. What about Sidney?

Nell: He’s back to his usual friendly self again but decided to stay on the Isle of Wight.

Me: Why?

Nell: He was looking for a new client base anyway and he enjoys the quiet.

Me: What does he do? Web design?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Sidney is a psychotherapist.

Me: I’m not sure I would go and see a spider.

Nell: Of course you wouldn’t. You’re not a troubled arachnid.

Me: But what if he turns bad again?

Nell: He’s not going to. The Hunter is imprisoned. Stop fussing.

Me: Do cats play ‘Weak Animal’?

Nell: Yes. But under a different name.

Me: What is it?

Nell: ‘Come here, Slave.’

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Forgiveness is all

Nell: David would like to apologise for a mistake he might have made yesterday.

Me: You mean eating my sardines on toast?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Through the back of the chair?

Nell: Yes. He was a little too keen to help with the clearing up. It’s an easy mistake to make.

Me: I’m surprised you’re defending him, Nell.

Nell: At Morning Thoughts we were discussing the importance of Forgiveness and I thought I should lead by example.

Me: I hadn’t finished.

Nell: To be fair to David you should not have walked away from the plate.

Me: I went to get some more tonic water.

Nell: You have three Labradors and a Maltese cross. You cannot walk away from food.

Me: I suppose it was a little naive of me.

Nell: Exactly. But don’t worry we forgive you.

Me: Hang on a minute, Nell. You can’t turn this around. I’m not the one who needs forgiving here.

Nell: Anyway, the good news is that the book is starting to be delivered across the US now and the UK will hopefully follow next month.

Me: Yes, I’m ever so pleased. I know people have been waiting for ages and I’m so grateful for their support.

Nell: We need to ask people to rate it, though, as the stars really matter, and leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads as this will help us greatly.

Me: It really will but I don’t like asking. It’s so pushy.

Nell: Good grief. Just let everyone help you get it out there. These are difficult times.

Me: Dave still shouldn’t have eaten my sardines. I haven’t forgotten about it.

Nell: Forgiveness is all. Just move on. Another day. Another sardine.

Me: I can’t believe you just said that.

Nell: Mistakes happen.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Dominic who?

Nell: Who on earth is Dominic Cummings?

Me: You don’t want to know.

Nell: He’s everywhere.

Me: Yes. That’s part of the problem.

Nell: You can’t open a newspaper without seeing him.

Me: I know.

Nell: I thought it was that awful Dominic Simmons at first.

Me: Who?

Nell: You know Dominic Simmons.

Me: Do I?

Nell: The Siamese jeweller with a whiny voice.

Me: Wasn’t he a friend of The Cat’s?

Nell: An acquaintance, not a friend. The Cat introduced him to us. We were invited to dinner and the wretched creature tried to sell us some highly suspect pieces.

Me: Really?

Nell: It was like an unexpected Tupperware party but at least you know you are going to one of those.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I seem to remember David was tempted by a gold chain and Poppy was rather keen on a jewel encrusted dagger but fortunately they resisted.

Me: Weren’t the jewels fake?

Nell: Yes, Dominic was what some would call ‘dodgy’ and ended up being blackmailed by the Beefies. Those creatures get their beaks into everything.

Me: Talking of Beefies was there any attempt to free Lady Anwen?

Nell: No. PC Panda said the journey was fairly straightforward. They discovered some tainted bacon hidden under her hat but it was removed before any damage could be done.

Me: I don’t think Dave should ever wear a gold chain. He’s not that kind of dog.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: You said he was tempted by Dominic Simmons.

Nell: David has always enjoyed dressing up. When I think about some of the outfits he and Gladys have worn.

Me: I don’t think you should criticise. You’ve been known to wear the odd tiara.

Nell: Only when required and always discreetly.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

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All’s well that ends well

Me: Harriet’s hiding in the bushes.

Nell: I know. We have various operatives hidden throughout the property until PC Panda arrives.

Me: Is that why Gladys is wearing dark glasses and a raincoat?

Nell: No. That’s just a fashion statement.

Me: Why did Dave and Harriet bring Myfanwy and Lady Anwen back here?

Nell: David says he knew I would sort everything out because I always do.

Me: True.

Nell: And The Queen agrees.

Me: The Queen?

Nell: Yes. She joined us at Morning Thoughts.

Me: She did?

Nell: Yes. Via zoom. Do keep up.

Me: You could have told me.

Nell: You were writing. You know perfectly well that nobody is allowed to disturb you.

Me: So what’s next?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf insists that the real Myfanwy is still in there so we shall try and get her back.

Me: How?

Nell: No Good Boyo is sending a couple of Welsh Border Terriers to take her to Lampeter.

Me: That’s in the middle of nowhere.

Nell: Yes, but Auntie Gwen will sort her out.

Me: What about Lady Anwen?

Nell: She’s past saving.

Me: Barking mad?

Nell: Yes. I am rather annoyed but that corgi is completely unhinged. She’s going to Dartmoor Prison. PC Panda is collecting her later.

Me: She’ll still be in Devon, though.

Nell: Yes. We believe the Beefies will try and free her and Sally thinks Sven Gully is involved so we may trap a Beefy, or two.

Me: Excellent.

Nell: In the meantime the Welsh corgi choir are performing Sunday songs in the hope that they will warm Myfanwy’s heart before she leaves.

Me: So all’s well that ends well.

Nell: It will be when I’ve had some hot buttered toast and a cup of Earl Grey. Could you pour please?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part Three

Me: I’m so glad you’re home, Nell. It’s been terrible without you.

Nell: Well, I’m safe now. Where are David and Harriet?

Me: I thought they were with you. Tell me what happened, please.

Nell: Well, Owl Pacino and The Cat took us to the big boat. From there we could see what was happening on the beach.

Me: Go on.

Nell: Myfanwy started screaming and suddenly a whole battalion of bad tempered boxers appeared on the horizon.

Me: No.

Nell: Then a Rolls Royce pulled into the car park and Lady Anwen got out dragging a polite flamingo on a lead.

Me: Not Malcolm?

Nell: Yes. He had secretly joined Count Bingo’s team. Poppy jumped out of the Chinook brandishing her sword and the larger animals surrounded her. Quite easily it must be said.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Poppy shouted ‘Release the flamingo. Your bacon is useless. He’s a pescatarian.’

Me: She’s so fierce.

Nell: Lady Anwen laughed nastily and that’s when the puppies made their move.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: There was a squealing of tyres as David drove in on Knitwear Wolf’s motorbike with Harriet in the sidecar. He zoomed up to Lady Anwen and snatched the lead out of her paws freeing Malcolm.

Me: Go Davey boy!

Nell: Davey boy? Good grief. Where was I?

Me: Malcolm was free.

Nell: Yes. Malcolm flew towards Poppy while David circled round Lady Anwen on the motorbike allowing Poppy to usher everyone to safety in the helicopter.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: As soon as he saw they were safe David drove off with Harriet.

Me: But where are they now?

Nell: Wait, is that a motorbike?

Me: Yes, it’s Dave with Harriet sitting behind him.

Nell: Who’s in the sidecar then?

Me: Lady Anwen and Myfanwy. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part Two

Me: Are you ok, Nell? We were cut off. Tell me everything.

Nell: The bad tempered boxer came back with my ice cream so I took Henry over to Rupert and Myfanwy on the beach. They were deep in conversation.

Me: In Welsh?

Nell: No, Rupert wasn’t really drugged. Unlike Horst who sent an SOS to Henry.

Me: The tainted bacon was in Rupert’s sporran with Horst. Poor woodlouse.

Nell: Exactly. We needed to get him out.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I had to think on my paws, so I said ‘Rupert, I’ve been thinking of getting David a sporran for quite some time. Could I take a look at yours?’

Me: Clever.

Nell: I thought so. Myfanwy gave me a hard stare and as Rupert handed it over I accidentally dropped it and Horst and the bacon fell out.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Rupert was quick to save Horst but Myfanwy saw the bacon.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: She started shouting ‘You deceiving wolf. You didn’t eat the bacon. You’re not bad at all.’

Me: He isn’t.

Nell: But he was supposed to be.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Anyway, that’s when the Welsh corgi choir started singing.

Me: What?

Nell: They were all lined up on the big boat. ‘Delilah’ wasn’t the best song choice but it distracted Myfanwy. She simply had to join in.

Me: Singing is a Welsh thing. We can’t help it.

Nell: Rupert grabbed me and we ran into the sea. I thought all was lost.

Me: No.

Nell: And that’s when I saw them.

Me: Who?

Nell: The Cat and Owl Pacino in a beautiful pea-green boat coming to rescue us.

Me: But The Cat is absolutely terrified of water.

Nell: We are all much braver than we think.

Me: Yes, we are. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part One.

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might. Is it safe for you to talk?

Nell: Yes, Henry and I are in a car down at the beach. The chauffeur is a rather bad tempered boxer but he’s gone to fetch me an ice cream.

Me: Excellent. The plan was to get you to the beach as that increases our options.

Nell: Well, I hope none of them include riding away on an alpaca because I’ve just seen Gladys in a sombrero on the back of Alejandro.

Me: Good. Poppy must have landed. She flew up in the helicopter with the larger animals.

Nell: I thought Rupert’s choice of outfit was unusual but a hatted Pomeranian on an alpaca takes the biscuit.

Me: Distraction techniques. What is Rupert wearing then?

Nell: A kilt. Henry and Horst were in his sporran.

Me: So where is everyone now?

Nell: I’m fairly sure the Royal Owl Force just flew past and there are a group of flamingos in the lake that definitely weren’t there yesterday.

Me: That’ll be Count Bingo.

Nell: I guessed. There’s also some kind of suspicious looking pirate ship on the horizon captained by a large seal wearing a tiara with a penguin in the crow’s nest carrying a film camera.

Me: Good, but I meant the baddies. Where is Lady Anwen?

Nell: She is back at Osborne House. Rupert ate a bacon sandwich soon after he arrived and has been speaking Welsh ever since so she thought it would be safe for us to accompany Myfanwy to the beach.

Me: Oh no. Not bacon.

Nell: He didn’t really eat it. He put it in his sporran.

Me: But he’s speaking Welsh.

Nell: He’s copying Horst. All woodlice speak Welsh. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.