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Naughty Nigel does it again

Nell: So you arrived in Buckinghamshire safely?

Me: Yes. There were a few delays in London but I got here.

Nell: Naughty Nigel is looking distinctly guilty.

Me: I’m afraid he has been a little bit naughty.

Nell: If you’re going to call an animal Naughty Nigel then you can only blame yourself if he misbehaves.

Me: True.

Nell: So what did he do?

Me: He stole a penguin and ate the polar bear’s tail.

Nell: I sincerely hope you are referring to Christmas tree decorations.

Me: Naughty Nigel has apologised and will try not to do it again.

Nell: Good luck with that.

Me: How’s everyone at home?

Nell: We are coping. Although David only ate two scones for tea with jam, but no cream.

Me: No cream? My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He bounced back at dinner time.

Me: What did you have?

Nell: A takeaway.

Me: MuttDonalds?

Nell: No. Pizza Mutt. We decided on a movie night.

Me: What did you watch?

Nell: Peter Rabbit. Personally I think it was a little far fetched.

Me: Because of the talking animals?

Nell: No. The wild behaviour. If that young rabbit was living with me I’d soon teach him some manners.

Me: I’m sure you would. How are the auditions going?

Nell: Rumour has it that Knitwear Wolf is interested in playing the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Me: I’m not sure the Sheriff of Nottingham would wear a cardigan.

Nell: James Bond did. Several times.

Me: Not recently.

Nell: Still.

Me: I don’t really see Knitwear Wolf as a baddie.

Nell: If you looked at Naughty Nigel you wouldn’t think that either.

Me: I know. Bless him. Butter wouldn’t melt.

Nell: Why are we talking about butter? The naughty animal ate a polar bear’s tail.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Excuse me?

Me: Look, you and Kev yesterday on South Milton Sands.

Nell: Yes, another of our favourite beaches.

Me: I shall look at this and imagine myself there when I am away.

Nell: Excuse me? What did you just say?

Me: I’m going away for a few days to visit Charlotte.

Nell: And you didn’t think to tell me?

Me: It was all very last minute, Nell. I thought I told you.

Nell: This is something we all need to prepare for you know. Going Away can’t just be sprung on us.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It needs Explaining. The puppies need Reassurance that you will return.

Me: Of course I’m returning. I’m coming back on Sunday.

Nell: Sunday? You didn’t say it was an extended visit.

Me: Honestly, I’ll be back before you know it.

Nell: I doubt that. Have you forgotten the welcome we received when we returned from shopping yesterday?

Me: It was like the puppies hadn’t seen us in days.

Nell: Quite.

Me: We will chat every day and send each other photos.

Nell: David will be devastated. You know how much he misses you.

Me: But Sally is staying here for a while.

Nell: Yes. She says latest events have made her realise the importance of Family.

Me: I know what she means.

Nell: No, you don’t. Swanning off to Buckinghamshire at the drop of a hat.

Me: I’m visiting my sister.

Nell: I presume Naughty Nigel will be there.

Me: Yes, and Boo and Seamus.

Nell: We always know when you have been cuddling Other Dogs.

Me: I know you do.

Nell: Well, you had better start packing your case. Cheese, or ham?

Me: What?

Nell: In your sandwiches? You didn’t think I’d let you travel without a picnic, did you?

Me: Cheese, please. Sorry.

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A lovely day

Me: Yesterday was a lovely day, wasn’t it? Look at the colours of that sky.

Nell: Yes, we were truly blessed.

Me: We certainly were.

Nell: It was a busy day. We had to get the Christmas tree from the Garden Centre.

Me: Yes. One of the trees spoke to Kev so we chose it.

Nell: If you say so. Personally, I’m glad we stopped for lunch. I enjoyed my prawn sandwich.

Me: And then we visited Faye at The Barn. She certainly loves you.

Nell: Yes, she enjoys my conversational skills.

Me: And she had drawn a picture of Alejandro.

Nell: An excellent likeness.

Me: Yes. He is going to be so pleased. I’m trying to persuade her to draw you.

Nell: Me?

Me: I could see your face on a mug.

Nell: A mug? A teacup, perhaps, but a mug? I never use mugs.

Me: No, but other people do. I would love it.

Nell: I know you would. Let’s see.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We visited your mother’s grave and you brought her a plant.

Me: I did.

Nell: Kev and I had a little walk while you talked to her.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Thinking can be done quietly and alone but Talking is best done with someone else.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: She is always listening you know.

Me: I know.

Nell: And then we went to the hotel at Buckland tout Saints for a cup of tea.

Me: And you were given biscuits.

Nell: Yes, they are most kind.

Me: A walk on the beach was the perfect end to the day. The sunset took my breath away.

Nell: The coldness of the sea took mine.

Me: Thank you for being there, Nell.

Nell: You and me always. No need for thanks.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Auditioning

Me: What on earth is Kev doing?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: In that photo on the beach?

Nell: Auditioning, of course.

Me: Auditioning?

Nell: Yes. He’s an actor, isn’t he?

Me: I know. But on the beach?

Nell: Gladys needed the right atmosphere.

Me: Gladys?

Nell: Would you kindly stop repeating everything I say?

Me: I’m just a bit confused.

Nell: Gladys is directing the pantomime this year and we are hoping to perform it on the beach.

Me: I didn’t know. What is it?

Nell: Robin Woof and his Merry Dogs.

Me: Is Kev auditioning for Robin Woof?

Nell: No. Gladys sees Kev as King Richard.

Me: I didn’t even know there was going to be a pantomime.

Nell: Didn’t you?

Me: Nobody asked me to audition.

Nell: You and I are better working behind the scenes. You can write things down. It’s more your thing.

Me: Who is going to play Robin?

Nell: Everyone wants to play Robin.

Me: I thought they might do.

Nell: Even Malcolm.

Me: Now that is surprising, although Susan would make a lovely Maid Marian.

Nell: I think Maid Marian is between Harriet and Sally, although Myfanwy might have a chance.

Me: Who is auditioning for Robin then?

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog, David, Malcolm, Alejandro, Mutley and Poppy.

Me: Mutley?

Nell: I think he just nodded at everything to be honest. He’s auditioning for Maid Marian too.

Me: Fair enough. I’m not sure Alejandro is quite right for Robin but I can see Poppy in the role. She’s ever so good with a sword.

Nell: Yes, pantomimes traditionally cast females as males and males as females so who knows.

Me: Maybe Mutley will be cast as Maid Marian?

Nell: Drink your tea and stop talking nonsense.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Extraordinary behaviour

Me: Is Harriet feeling a little worse for wear this morning?

Nell: She and Jim went on a double date with Sally and David. They came home very giggly.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: Poppy is cooking a large Sunday fry up. Sausages, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. Malcolm is in charge of eggs. He does an excellent poached egg.

Me: Yes, it must be a bird thing.

Nell: I have never heard such nonsense in my life. Malcolm has great dedication and a skilled beak. It is not a bird thing at all. Can you imagine Count Bingo Flamingo cooking eggs? Or a Beefy?

Me: I would rather not.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Where did they all go last night?

Nell: There’s a new jazz club in Kingsbridge. A rather talented American stallion runs it. Gregory Snorter. You might have heard of him. Always wears an all concealing hat for some reason.

Me: Like me?

Nell: Not even remotely like you.

Me: Oh.

Nell: He has a wonderful voice and a charming manner. I think he’s an old friend of Knitwear Wolf’s.

Me: Well, Knitwear Wolf has a lovely voice too.

Nell: Talking of lovely voices, did you hear Myfanwy’s solo at Morning Songs?

Me: No, I didn’t.

Nell: She sang ‘Honey, Honey’, an ABBA song and highly inappropriate for a Sunday morning. I was expecting carols.

Me: I love it.

Nell: Gladys and Alejandro were dancing around the house and the Welsh corgi choir joined in with great enthusiasm. Waving paws and performing pirouettes. Extraordinary behaviour.

Me: I wish I’d seen it.

Nell: Myfanwy was singing to Rupert, of course.

Me: Do you think he knows?

Nell: He has no idea. Where is David going with those sausages?

Me: The dining room?

Nell: It’s not upstairs. Stop him.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Stranger things have happened

Me: Look at your adorable sandy face.

Nell: You see this is what you do.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: You simply can’t stop yourself. How would you feel if I posted a photo of you with sand all over your face?

Me: I wouldn’t mind. I think you look lovely.

Nell: Talking of lovely, Henry has an admirer.

Me: He does?

Nell: A rather beautiful butterfly, although what it is doing flying around at this time of year I do not know.

Me: You don’t think it’s Colin, do you?

Nell: What on earth are you talking about?

Me: Well, he is a caterpillar.

Nell: Colin is on a six month contract with The Chronicle. He is covering the Christmas Market next week.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: This butterfly is all unnecessary around Henry. It follows him everywhere, fluttering away.

Me: I think that’s rather wonderful.

Nell: So does Henry. David told me he is chuffed to bits at the attention.

Me: Did you notice Knitwear Wolf’s outfit today?

Nell: Yes. He’s wearing a soft cable knit sweater in dark grey.

Me: How do you know it’s soft?

Nell: It looks soft.

Me: And cuddly?

Nell: I have no idea. Why?

Me: Gladys says Myfanwy’s got a huge crush on him.

Nell: Oh dear. I can’t see that going anywhere.

Me: You never know. Stranger things have happened.

Nell: Don’t I know it.

Me: Look at Gladys and Alejandro and Knitwear Wolf is ever so fond of the Welsh corgi choir.

Nell: ‘Fond of’ says it all though, doesn’t it? I am fond of a scone, or a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: I see what you mean. Dave is fond of bacon sandwiches.

Nell: No. David loves bacon sandwiches. There is a difference.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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It’s been an exhausting few days

Me: Where are the puppies?

Nell: Sleeping under the kitchen table after two rounds of bacon sandwiches. You need to stop calling them puppies. They are two year olds.

Me: I know. Where is Sally?

Nell: The Cat and Gladys have taken her to the spa for a pamper day. David wanted to go too but he fell asleep and we thought it best to leave him so Harriet stayed behind too.

Me: It’s been an exhausting time for everyone.

Nell: Yes, Knitwear Wolf only just got back from Dartmoor. He went by motorbike of course as David had to travel in the helicopter with Sally.

Me: I like his cardigan today. Dark red. Very Christmassy.

Nell: Rupert always dresses well and at this time of year appropriately too.

Me: This might sound a little fanciful, Nell, but I thought I saw a large caterpillar in a Trilby hat talking to itself in the garden.

Nell: Was it eating a Cornish pasty?

Me: Yes.

Nell: That’s Colin from The Chronicle. He’s not talking to himself. Don’t be silly.

Me: But he is eating a Cornish pasty and wearing a hat?

Nell: Of course. He’s a reporter. They have to grab food where they can. He’s interviewing Henry and Horst.

Me: I see. It all makes sense now.

Nell: The Chronicle is doing a piece on bravery and Henry and Horst are an obvious choice.

Me: I agree but I can never hear what they’re saying.

Nell: Nobody can, except David. He’s an excellent listener.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Me: Colin seems to be waving at us with his tail.

Nell: He probably needs his bowl of tea.

Me: Can’t he have a cup like everyone else?

Nell: He’s a caterpillar. No hands. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Me: You’re smiling.

Nell: Yes. This is a day of thanks and I would like to wish all our American friends a Happy Thanksgiving.

Me: So would I but could you tell me what happened?

Nell: It was going well until David ate the canapés by mistake.

Me: He was probably nervous.

Nell: Fortunately Poppy improvised with some slithers of Brie.

Me: Don’t you mean sliver?

Nell: No. Brie tends to slither when it’s really ripe. I found myself sitting next to Ramson.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Those eyes are worse than Paul Hollywoof’s. We had just finished our soup when Sally walked in with Henry on her collar.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: We had all agreed that we would not overreact.

Me: I’m guessing this was a bit difficult for some.

Nell: In David’s case it proved impossible. He threw caution to the wind, along with several bread rolls, ran over to Sally and covered her in kisses.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He simply can’t disguise his feelings.

Nell: The guests applauded.

Me: Bless.

Nell: Ramson rose to his feet angrily so Gladys and Alejandro started performing the Macarena.

Me: Excellent diversionary tactics.

Nell: Everyone joined in while Gladys headed for Ramson.

Me: Bold move.

Nell: She was wearing a Hawaiian flower garland and wrapped it around his neck.

Me: How thoughtful.

Nell: What he didn’t know is that it was full of biting bugs and they soon got to work.

Me: Genius.

Nell: While Ramson was trying to get the bugs off we all ran for the door taking Sally with us.

Me: So everyone’s coming home?

Nell: Except Handsome and Sadie.

Me: Did they perish in the struggle?

Nell: Perished? No. They’ve run off together. Do try and be a little more realistic.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Quiet

Me: Are you safely on Dartmoor?

Nell: Quiet. I am crossing a field in stealth mode.

Me: I’ll whisper. How is everyone?

Nell: Well, I’m never flying in a helicopter with that animal again.

Me: Sadie Hunter?

Nell: No. Alejandro. Why didn’t he tell us he was scared of heights? Hooves everywhere and Gladys dancing the Macarena.

Me: Did Sadie behave?

Nell: She ate cheese most of the way and chatted to Handsome. Those two seem to be getting on like a kennel on fire.

Me: It’s probably part of his tactics. Keep your enemies close.

Nell: I think it’s got more to do with a shared love of Brie myself.

Me: Any news from Dave?

Nell: Yes. We’ve been chatting on WoofsApp.

Me: What did he say?

Nell: We’re meeting outside Beefy Mansion and trying to avoid alerting the sheep.

Me: Why?

Nell: They can’t be trusted. Ramson has them all on a tight rein.

Me: Are they wearing leads?

Nell: It’s a figure of speech. I’m not surrounded by sheep wearing collars.

Me: I wondered.

Nell: Anyway, Henry has been in touch with Horst. Ramson is hosting a dinner this evening and Sally is invited. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to get her out of there.

Me: But you’re not invited.

Nell: I am actually. Knitwear Wolf, Handsome, The Cat and I are guests of Sadie’s.

Me: Do you have anything to wear?

Nell: I packed my pearls and the others are always well turned out but that’s not the point.

Me: What about Poppy?

Nell: She will be in the kitchen. David and Jim are waiting tables.

Me: And Gladys and Alejandro?

Nell: They are the entertainment. You don’t think Gladys was dancing the Macarena for fun do you? It’s the ideal distraction.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sadie spills the beans

Nell: In the end it was the perfectly ripe Brie that did it.

Me: I thought it might.

Nell: Sadie couldn’t resist any longer.

Me: So she finally spilled the beans?

Nell: Beans have no place on a cheese board. Have you ever heard anyone say it was the sight of baked beans that tipped them over the edge?

Me: No, but it’s possible. Anyway, what did she say?

Nell: Sadie is Sally’s sister.

Me: But Sally never mentioned her.

Nell: Same litter but different owners. Sally went to live in the countryside with a kind family but Sadie’s life took a different course.

Me: Poor Sadie.

Nell: Don’t feel sorry for her. She chose to be bad. She is completely devoted to Ramson Hunter and the Black Claw.

Me: So why did she pretend to be Sally?

Nell: The Black Claw have being trying to recruit Sally for a long time to no avail. They wanted her excellent contacts.

Me: She does have a busy social diary.

Nell: Not to socialise. To gain power in the animal community.

Me: I see.

Nell: Ramson and a couple of ruthless rams abducted Sally on her way to visit us and Sadie took her place.

Me: So where is Sally now?

Nell: Imprisoned at Beefy Mansion as we suspected.

Me: So what’s the plan?

Nell: Fortunately Poppy was able to borrow a chinook so we are flying up there now.

Me: Who is we? Only I’m a bit scared of heights.

Nell: Myself, Knitwear Wolf, Handsome, Gladys, Alejandro, The Cat and Sadie, of course. Harriet needs to stay here in case David gets in touch.

Me: Sadie doesn’t really deserve a flight in a helicopter if you ask me.

Nell: Sadie is our bargaining chip. Do keep up.

Me: I see. Sorry.