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The Turning to Dartmoor

Me: Is that my cardigan?

Nell: Yes, I needed something soft for my chin.

Me: You are looking a little tired. Didn’t you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner?

Nell: To be honest I missed Rupert’s company. He cancelled at the last minute.

Me: Yes, and I know why.

Nell: Tell me.

Me: Yesterday evening Olive the Other Reindeer and I were waiting at the top of the lane ready to follow Poppy.

Nell: Did you wear the full Santa outfit or just a hat and beard?

Me: I decided to go for the whole thing plus boots.

Nell: Good.

Me: I’d just taken a bite of mince pie when Poppy sped past us on a motorbike.

Nell: She doesn’t have a motorbike.

Me: It was Knitwear Wolf’s.

Nell: The cheek of it.

Me: She didn’t steal it. He was riding it with Poppy behind him and Myfanwy in the sidecar.

Nell: Myfanwy?

Me: Olive managed to keep up until they took the turning to Dartmoor.

Nell: I see.

Me: And I had to keep taking selfies which slowed us down.

Nell: Why did you do that?

Me: It wasn’t for myself, Nell. Everybody wants their photo taken with Santa and her reindeer.

Nell: Are you eating a biscuit?

Me: Yes. Poppy’s made some delicious shortbread.

Nell: Biscuits aren’t allowed.

Me: Poppy says it’s all fine now and there’s no need to worry anymore.

Nell: What if Poppy has gone over to the dark side?

Me: She was with Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: And Myfanwy.

Me: I forgot that.

Nell: Did you say they took the turning to Dartmoor?

Me: Yes.

Nell: You know what’s up there?

Me: Beefy Mansion?

Nell: And Dartmoor Prison currently housing a certain evil royal corgi.

Me: Lady Anwen?

Nell: Exactly. Put that biscuit down at once.

Me: Sorry.

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David Smells Trouble

Me: Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the United States.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Why is Dave sniffing Poppy’s face? She looks furious.

Nell: Poppy smells of Lion.

Me: Lion?

Nell: Yes, with a hint of Beefy.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: We thought it was Tiger at first, but after closer inspection David says it’s definitely Lion.

Me: I’m sure Poppy can explain.

Nell: She’s refusing to talk.

Me: You don’t think she’s eaten a tainted biscuit and turned Bad do you?

Nell: Anything is possible. After all she wasn’t exactly Good in the first place.

Me: True.

Nell: Have you ever ridden on a reindeer?

Me: Not recently.

Nell: Well, you may have to later.

Me: May I ask why?

Nell: Rumour has it that Poppy is meeting up with Lionel King and Associates for a Thanksgiving dinner. They were seen together earlier.

Me: But Lionel isn’t from the United States.

Nell: Do you know his Associates?

Me: No.

Nell: Well then. Poppy will need to be followed so I suggested you and Olive the Other Reindeer said she’d take you.

Me: Why suggest me?

Nell: I thought you always wanted to be a spy and nobody is going to suspect you.

Me: Won’t I draw attention to myself riding on a reindeer?

Nell: Not at this time of year. Just wear a hat and beard.

Me: Why can’t you go?

Nell: The Puppies and I are having Thanksgiving dinner with Babycakes Gillespie at the Big House. The Cat has invited all the Strictly cast and crew.

Me: I’d have loved that.

Nell: You have much more important work to do.

Me: Everybody’s going to get a Thanksgiving dinner except me.

Nell: Don’t worry. Olive usually has a few carrots and a mince pie with her.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

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Robins and Sunsets

Me: Is there a reason why you’re wrapped in a Small Person’s Duvet and Dave is eating the Dog Drying Towel?

Nell: David is not eating it. He is Carrying It Around.

Me: I wish he wouldn’t.

Nell: It’s his most favourite thing to do, apart from Eating and Cuddling.

Me: And the duvet?

Nell: I was feeling the cold and David kindly brought it to me.

Me: You have blankets. That duvet is for the grandchildren.

Nell: Sometimes blankets simply won’t do.

Me: I know what you mean.

Nell: Now, if you were thinking of asking for bacon this morning please don’t.

Me: But I’m sure I could smell it earlier.

Nell: I’m afraid it all went at First Sitting.

Me: First Sitting?

Nell: The early dog catches the biscuit. Or in this case the bacon sandwich.

Me: Don’t you mean the early bird?

Nell: Don’t mention birds to me. Your friend Robin is becoming decidedly rotund, by the way.

Me: Robins are meant to be round and he’s not just my friend. Did you see that beautiful sunset yesterday?

Nell: I did.

Me: Robin knocked on the window to tell me to go out and see it. Wasn’t that sweet of him?

Nell: Robin should ring the bell like everyone else.

Me: I don’t know why you’ve taken against him.

Nell: You spend far too much time with that bird.

Me: I enjoy chatting to him. He’s an excellent conversationalist and he gives me the bird’s eye view on life.

Nell: May I remind you that it is Conversations with Nell not Robin.

Me: You’re jealous.

Nell: Stuff and nonsense.

Me: At least Robin has time for me. You’re always too busy to chat.

Nell: What do you think we are doing right now?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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News from Terry

Me: It was glorious down on the beach, wasn’t it?

Nell: Most invigorating.

Me: And you joined the puppies for a swim.

Nell: Stop calling them puppies. David and Harriet will be 5 next year.

Me: Was the water cold?

Nell: It’s November. Of course it was cold.

Me: I’m just amazed that you can swim in it.

Nell: A Labrador isn’t bothered by the cold. We’re not whippets.

Me: You like your warm blanket and duvet, Nell.

Nell: Yes, when I get home. You won’t see me wearing a coat when I’m out. Unless I’m attending a garden party, or a wedding of course.

Me: Don’t forget the hat.

Nell: I never forget the hat. Now, Terry told me something most interesting when he delivered the calendar.

Me: What calendar?

Nell: The Conversations with Nell 2022 Calendar. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know it was out yet.

Nell: It isn’t quite. Just almost and needs checking. Where was I?

Me: Why are we using Book a Beefy to deliver them? I thought people were going to buy them online from our World of Nell shop?

Nell: This was a one off. Anyway, that’s not the point. Terry says The Beefies are most unhappy about the biscuits.

Me: Why?

Nell: Nobody wants them.

Me: Good.

Nell: They are having to eat them themselves.

Me: Serves them right.

Nell: And now Portliness is becoming a Problem.

Me: I noticed their tummies seemed rounder but I thought it was just this time of year.

Nell: Terry says the suppliers are most annoyed about the lack of sales.

Me: The suppliers should have thought about that before they tainted the biscuits and made people lose their voices.

Nell: That was the whole point of it though, wasn’t it?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Harriet needs protecting

Nell: It’s good to have you home.

Me: Harriet hasn’t left my side.

Nell: She needs protecting.

Me: Why?

Nell: Didn’t you see the dance off yesterday?

Me: No. I fell asleep.

Nell: After Lionel King’s appallingly low score Harriet and Beauregard found themselves in the bottom two.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: That’s not the worst of it.

Me: It isn’t?

Nell: They were up against Poppy and Stephen Seagull.

Me: Oh my goodness. Was Poppy very fierce?

Nell: She was terrifying. Never mind the quickstep she had that seagull running for his life.

Me: Good for her.

Nell: It was a dance off.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: When it came to voting who to save, Anton sensibly chose Harriet and Beauregard.

Me: Good whippet. And Lionel King?

Nell: He chose Poppy and Stephen Seagull. No surprises there.

Me: What about Princess?

Nell: The foolish seal chose Poppy too. She said she’d never seen such an exciting dance on Strictly.

Me: So it all came down to you as head judge?

Nell: Yes, I had the casting vote.

Me: What did you do?

Nell: I saved Harriet and Beauregard of course. Poppy might be fierce but this is a dancing competition.

Me: What happened?

Nell: That wretched lion went wild. Roaring away about biased judging and Labradors and tigers sticking together.

Me: Silly animal.

Nell: Quite.

Me: Was Stephen Seagull very angry?

Nell: Not at all. I’ve never seen anyone more relieved.

Me: And Poppy?

Nell: She winked at me.

Me: So all is well.

Nell: I’m afraid not. Threats have been made and someone threw a stinky mackerel into Beauregard’s tree house.

Me: It’s actually Oliver’s tree house and Beauregard is a guest.

Nell: That’s not the point. We all need to be on our guard.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Suspicious Sightings

Nell: When will you be home?

Me: Later this afternoon.

Nell: Poppy and the Puppies are waiting at the window.

Me: It’s far too early to be doing that.

Nell: There are no Sunday Songs today so they might as well.

Me: No Sunday Songs?

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir have lost their voices. Why else do you think we allowed those awful rooks to sing at Strictly yesterday?

Me: Was their singing awful?

Nell: Yes. Worse than The Beefies which is saying something.

Me: How was the dancing?

Nell: Malcolm fell off Alejandro’s back in the middle of their Charleston. Princess clapped which was both annoying and unnecessary.

Me: It’s a seal thing. What about Harriet and Beauregard?

Nell: They danced beautifully but Lionel King still gave them a 3. A ridiculously low score. The lifts alone deserved at least an 8.

Me: Who is at risk?

Nell: If it was up to me Poppy and Stephen Seagull would be in trouble.

Me: Didn’t their quickstep go well?

Nell: Chasing someone around the dance floor with a sword is not dancing in my opinion, although others disagreed.

Me: Who?

Nell: Lionel King gave them a 10 and so did Princess.

Me: Why?

Nell: She said she loved the drama of it and she always gives 10s. The lion just did it for badness.

Me: Dreadful animal.

Nell: Can you see the island and the hotel from your balcony?

Me: In the distance.

Nell: Well, get your binoculars because there have been some suspicious sightings.

Me: I don’t have my binoculars with me.

Nell: Borrow some. Think on your paws.

Me: What am I looking for?

Nell: A ship, a lion, some rooks and a corgi.

Me: A corgi?

Nell: Stop questioning everything and get the binoculars.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Of Birds and Biscuits

Me: Oh Nell, is something troubling you?

Nell: I’m finding the lack of you and shortbread biscuits with my tea rather difficult.

Me: Would a scone help?

Nell: Poppy is far too busy rehearsing the quickstep to bake any scones. Stephen Seagull’s steps are slow and sluggish.

Me: Wretched bird.

Nell: Talking of birds, I’m extremely worried about Beauregard and Harriet.

Me: Is singing tonight too much for Beauregard?

Nell: No, he’s looking forward to it. Apparently a few rooks have offered to be his backing singers. I’m concerned about their lack of feathers.

Me: Rooks have lots of feathers.

Nell: Not the rooks. Harriet and Beauregard.

Me: Harriet’s a Chocolate Labrador, Nell, and Beauregard is a tiger. They have coats not feathers.

Nell: I know but they will need feathers to survive. The public vote is awfully feather biased.

Me: Maybe The Cat has some feather boas they can wear?

Nell: Feather boas won’t mud the custard.

Me: Don’t you mean cut the mustard?

Nell: No. I’m talking about muddy custard.

Me: What is muddy custard?

Nell: Haven’t you ever tried Poppy’s Mud Pie?

Me: I can’t say I have.

Nell: You should. It’s delicious.

Me: How do you make it?

Nell: With biscuits and gravy flavoured custard.

Me: Might give that a miss. Did you say biscuits?

Nell: I’m afraid they’re on my mind. The Beefies keep eating them in front of me.

Me: How rude and inconsiderate.

Nell: Yes, and shouting ‘Crunchy’ with your beak full is disgusting.

Me: Does that mean The Beefies still have voices?

Nell: Of course.

Me: Maybe the biscuits don’t affect birds? Ask Malcolm to be a guinea pig and eat one.

Nell: Malcolm is a flamingo not a guinea pig. I could ask Walter Pigeon. He eats anything.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Good for the soul

Me: Look at you flirting with Tony.

Nell: I was merely saying hello.

Me: Were you playing Cheeky Animals, or giving him a kiss?

Nell: I was simply greeting a friend. How’s your writing retreat going?

Me: Really well. I have a beautiful view of the sea from my room and I’m loving the company of other writers.

Nell: Good.

Me: Hope Cove is good for the soul.

Nell: So is the Cottage Hotel.

Me: Yes. Sarah and William have our book on sale here too, with a photo of us beside it.

Nell: How kind of them. I hope I am missed.

Me: You are. I noticed a rather dapper Dachshund showing great interest in your photo.

Nell: A dapper Dachshund?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I thought you said dogs weren’t allowed.

Me: Not in the restaurant, or lounge. And he’s only small, Nell, and not as noticeable as larger dogs.

Nell: I beg your pardon? Small dogs can be extremely noticeable. You should see Poppy this morning.

Me: Why?

Nell: She’s in a top hat and tails.

Me: Any particular reason?

Nell: Dress rehearsal later. She and Stephen are dancing the quickstep.

Me: I see.

Nell: Most unsuitable attire for frying bacon.

Me: Was she wearing an apron?

Nell: Yes, but that’s not the point.

Me: You’ll be pleased to hear I refused the cheese and biscuits.

Nell: Good. I wish the Welsh Corgi Choir were as sensible.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Myfanwy made a lemon posset.

Me: That’s fine. Possets are basically cream.

Nell: With a biscuit crumb on the top.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Now it’s looking like there’ll be no singing at Strictly this weekend.

Me: How awful.

Nell: Beauregard has offered to sing but there’s only so much a tiger can do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Where are you going?

Me: Why are you looking at me like that?

Nell: You know why.

Me: I haven’t eaten a biscuit if that’s what you think. Not even the savoury kind with cheese.

Nell: Savoury biscuits are still biscuits you know.

Me: Well, I haven’t eaten one.

Nell: This is not about biscuits.

Me: It isn’t?

Nell: Why are you packing your case?

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: You haven’t packed a case in nearly 2 years.

Me: It’s nothing to worry about.

Nell: Why was it hidden in the guest bedroom then?

Me: I didn’t want muddy paws on my clothes.

Nell: We all wipe our paws on the mat.

Me: You so don’t.

Nell: Stop dancing around the bowl and tell me where you’re going.

Me: I’m just off on a writing retreat for a few days.

Nell: I understand Timothy’s need to hide but who are you retreating from?

Me: The world in general.

Nell: Here we go. Where are you going?

Me: The Cottage Hotel.

Nell: My favourite place?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Without me?

Me: Without any of you.

Nell: To be on your own?

Me: Well, there’ll be a few other writers there.

Nell: I knew it.

Me: It’s good for me to be with other writers.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: It’s only for a few days and we can keep in touch.

Nell: I shall expect regular updates.

Me: So will I. I need to know what’s going on.

Nell: You might want to steer clear of scones by the way.

Me: Don’t say that.

Nell: Maybe just the one.

Me: I’d take you with me if I could.

Nell: Don’t be silly. I have far too much to do here. I’ll be with you in spirit. You and Me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Dave and Poppy Investigate

Me: What are Poppy and Dave doing in the activity field and why is Poppy dancing?

Nell: There have been rumours of secret meetings and new evidence has come to light.

Me: How exciting. Is it to do with the Christmas Market Committee?

Nell: Why would you mention the committee?

Me: You said there had been some friction amongst committee members recently.

Nell: I didn’t say that. My friend Dorothy did. Some of the committee aren’t happy about the Whippets Institute running the cake stall.

Me: Why?

Nell: All biscuits have been removed.

Me: So was Harriet successful?

Nell: Actually it wasn’t Harriet. Rupert had a quiet word with them.

Me: Good for him. He’s such a persuasive wolf.

Nell: Yes. As soon as they heard about the dangers they agreed to remove them.

Me: What a relief.

Nell: Unfortunately it is only one stall. Other members of the committee see it as denying them Freedom to Taste.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy didn’t help by threatening them with her sword. Rooks don’t take kindly to threats.

Me: Rooks? I didn’t know there were rooks on the committee.

Nell: Everyone is represented. Henry and Horst are on there too and Oliver.

Me: Oliver? Is there a large opossum community in Kingsbridge?

Nell: There might be. Anyway, Olive the Other Reindeer has given him her vote. She’s far too busy at this time of year.

Me: I hope Timothy is represented too.

Nell: Owl Pacino has his vote. Anyway, how did we get on to this?

Me: Poppy and Dave are sniffing out secret meetings.

Nell: Oh yes. I suppose you could be right. Either way we suspect biscuits are involved. Crumbs were found in the grass.

Me: Crunchy crumbs?

Nell: It’s been raining. You can’t expect crunch.

Me: No. Sorry.