Rabbits and Pheasants

Me: Devon is a beautiful place to live, isn’t it?

Nell: It would be a lot nicer without those wretched rabbits.

Me: What wretched rabbits?

Nell: You must have seen them. Hiding in the bushes.

Me: A pheasant just flew past the window.

Nell: It’s probably Phineas visiting Walter.

Me: I expect to see seagulls and small birds but not pheasants.

Nell: We were discussing rabbits.

Me: I know, it just surprised me.

Nell: Phineas is perfectly pleasant for a pheasant, if a little dim. I’ll ask Walter to introduce you the next time he’s visiting.

Me: Thank you. Personally I don’t mind rabbits. What have you got against them?

Nell: They either pop up unexpectedly and run away as soon as you talk to them or they stare at you vacantly.

Me: Like a rabbit caught in the headlights?

Nell: I don’t have headlights. I’m a Labrador.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: Well, I’ve never had a decent conversation with any of them.

Me: Never say never.

Nell: I just did.

Me: Is there something wrong with Poppy?

Nell: Why?

Me: I noticed her hiding between Dave’s legs when we were out on our walk.

Nell: She wasn’t hiding. She was keeping a low profile.

Me: That’s not like Poppy.

Nell: You should have let her take her cutlass.

Me: Weapons are not allowed on the beach.

Nell: Do you know that?

Me: Everyone does.

Nell: Are cutlasses mentioned?

Me: Not specifically.

Nell: Well then.

Me: Dave seemed awfully protective and extremely alert.

Nell: He’s Poppy’s bodyguard.

Me: You wouldn’t think she needed one.

Nell: Well, she does, especially when she’s unarmed.

Me: Is there something I don’t know?

Nell: Where do I begin?

Me: I meant about Poppy.

Nell: Let’s just say, forearmed is forewarned.

Me: I see. Sorry.


Any Questions?

Me: Why are you and Poppy staring at me like that?

Nell: Poppy reported at Morning Thoughts that you’ve been behaving rather strangely. The word she used was ‘jumpy’.

Me: Was it?

Nell: Yes, and she says you’ve been particularly awkward around her since yesterday.

Me: Have I?

Nell: Stop doing that.

Me: Doing what?

Nell: Questioning everything I say.

Me: Am I?

Nell: Good grief. What’s the matter with you?

Me: I don’t like the cutlass.

Nell: Why are you whispering?

Me: Is she wearing it?

Nell: Of course she is. I told you she was exploring her piratey side.

Me: I know but it’s making me ever so nervous.

Nell: Why? You never worried about the sword.

Me: I wouldn’t say that.

Nell: I just did.

Me: I mean I never particularly liked the sword but I was used to it.

Nell: So, what is your problem with the cutlass then?

Me: The cutlass is on her belt. She could whip it out at any moment.

Nell: She could and she does. Malcolm and Manuel are witnesses to that.

Me: Was anyone hurt?

Nell: Only a banana. She chopped its head off.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It didn’t feel anything.

Me: Very funny.

Nell: Is there something you would like to tell Poppy while she’s here?

Me: No.

Nell: Are you sure? No health and safety regulations?

Me: Well, I would ask her to use her cutlass wisely.

Nell: Obviously.

Me: And well.

Nell: Wisely and well? This is 2022 not Shakespearean times.

Me: I just want her to be careful.

Nell: Why not say so at the beginning? Poppy is always careful. You have nothing to fear.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Unless you misbehave or provoke her.

Me: What?

Nell: Just joking.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Friends, Beefies and Poppy

Me: The love between Dave and Tony is wonderful to see.

Nell: They’re the best of friends.

Me: Do you behave like that when you see Dorothy?

Nell: My friend Dorothy and I are lady dogs of a certain age. A quiet nod is all that’s needed.

Me: Is it just me, or have the Beefies been suspiciously quiet lately?

Nell: There’s a rumour going around that they have turned minimalist.

Me: Really? Seagull colours have always been muted but I can’t see them giving up their wigs and sombreros any time soon.

Nell: That’s what I said to Pamela.

Me: The Pyrenean Mountain Dog?

Nell: Yes. We were having tea at Starbarks and she said she’d noticed one earlier staring in the window of ‘Less is More’.

Me: The Maine Coon Sisters’ minimalist shop in the High Street? Is it open?

Nell: Not yet and there’s nothing much in the window. Goodness only knows what the Beefy found so fascinating.

Me: Isn’t Starbarks more of a coffee place?

Nell: Not necessarily. John the Doberman is a charming manager. He has all number of drinks available. Hot and cold. And a delightful selection of muffins.

Me: Do you think Poppy will ever agree to marry him?

Nell: No. Poppy is a free spirit. She won’t ever give up her independence.

Me: Poor John. Condemned to spend the rest of his life Pining for Poppy.

Nell: John’s not the pining type. He’s happy with things as they are. Poppy can be quite a challenge you know.

Me: I do.

Nell: I’m afraid she’s started to explore her more piratey side.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: She’s taken to wearing a cutlass in her belt.

Me: I didn’t know she wore a belt.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.


Cardigans and Curry

Me: Is my poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy being rationed because of the Plated Meal Incident?

Nell: No. He had three rounds of toast with his boiled eggs this morning. Why?

Me: He’s eating a towel.

Nell: He just likes something to chew on. Would you mind letting Harriet and I sleep now? We have a busy day ahead.

Me: I’m not sure toast is enough.

Nell: David is perfectly fine. He has a glossy coat and bright eyes. Stop fussing.

Me: Talking of coats, have you seen Knitwear Wolf’s summer cardigan?

Nell: No. I haven’t spoken to Rupert yet. He went out early to deliver the papers.

Me: It’s in a lovely sandy sort of colour and really suits him.

Nell: Rupert can carry off a casual cardigan with consummate charisma.

Me: Yes. He’s definitely the most stylish wolf I know.

Nell: You don’t know any other wolves.

Me: But if I did, Knitwear Wolf would win paws down.

Nell: Win what?

Me: Nothing.

Nell: Never talk about winning if there isn’t a prize.

Me: It’s just a saying. Like currying favour.

Nell: Don’t bring curry into this, please. It’s far too early in the day to be discussing spicy food.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: I shan’t be able to go back to sleep now.

Me: Oh good because all this talk of cardigans and curry has got me thinking.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Do you think Poppy would put on a curry night?

Nell: Maybe.

Me: Entrance could be only if you’re wearing a light cardigan.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous.

Me: It would boost sales of Knitwear Wolf’s summer line.

Nell: I suppose it might do.

Me: And guests would be stylish and warm on the inside as well as the outside.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.


Some of Us Had Two Dinners

Me: Another lovely day on the beach.

Nell: Yes, it was delightful.

Me: Just what we needed after that delicious roast dinner.

Nell: Some of us had two dinners.

Me: One and a half to be fair. Dave didn’t eat the whole plate.

Nell: All I can say is that it’s lucky The Cat has a small appetite.

Me: And knows Dave really well.

Nell: I don’t understand how the mistake happened. It isn’t exactly far from here to the Big House.

Me: He thought the gravy was leaking so he had to check.

Nell: And was it?

Me: Not exactly, but it was dangerously near the edge of the plate.

Nell: You don’t lick other people’s food. It’s simply not done.

Me: He was just trying to help.

Nell: Imagine if waiters did that in restaurants.

Me: I would rather not.

Nell: ‘Excuse me, madam, but I had to lick your scone. The cream was dangerously close to falling off.’

Me: Unlikely to happen as you put the cream on yourself.

Nell: You know what I mean.

Me: You lick each other’s bowls when you’ve finished.

Nell: That’s different. A tidy bowl is a tidy mind. The Cat hadn’t even started.

Me: Maybe that’s all Dave was doing. Tidying up.

Nell: He ate the meat and potatoes and left the vegetables.

Me: They didn’t have any gravy on them.

Nell: He took away the Roastness from the roast.

Me: I did say it was a bad idea letting him take it over.

Nell: If he never tries he’ll never learn.

Me: He was awfully sorry, Nell. He even offered The Cat his apple crumble and custard.

Nell: The Cat doesn’t eat desserts.

Me: How was Dave to know?

Nell: David knew. Believe me.

Me: Yes. He probably did. Sorry.


Nell’s Day and International Mother’s Day

Me: It’s Mother’s Day today almost everywhere in the world except for the UK.

Nell: Yes, I know it is.

Me: So Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there in every shape or form. You are greatly loved.

Nell: We hope you are being thoroughly spoilt and having a wonderful day.

Me: Talking of wonderful days, Kev and I decided to treat you to one yesterday.

Nell: You did. It was most unexpected and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Me: I think we should call it Nell’s Day. Lunch by the sea, followed by a walk along the river bank and a gentle paddle.

Nell: I do enjoy a gentle paddle.

Me: It was really lovely, wasn’t it?

Nell: Yes, it did us all good.

Me: I’m not sure Poppy and the Puppies would agree.

Nell: They were fine. They are going down to the beach later today after Poppy’s roast.

Me: Yes. Are we expecting any visitors?

Nell: PC Panda said he might pop in.

Me: Officially?

Nell: Of course not. It’s Sunday. He can’t resist Poppy’s Yorkshire Puddings.

Me: Are the llamas still dancing at Sunday Songs?

Nell: No. They’re one llama down after the twisted ankle incident so Gladys said they are best sitting this one out.

Me: Llamas aren’t that good at sitting.

Nell: You know what I mean.

Me: Is The Cat joining us?

Nell: No. It’s far too busy working on the jubilee costumes so David is going to take over a plated dinner later.

Me: Is that wise?

Nell: The Cat loves plated dinners.

Me: But why Dave?

Nell: David is the perfect choice. He has sturdy legs and strong teeth.

Me: For chewing?

Nell: No. For carrying the wicker basket with The Cat’s plated dinner.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Sandy Memories

Me: Can you explain the burying the ball in the sand thing?

Nell: Context, please.

Me: Harriet loves chasing her ball into the sea but then she brings it back and rolls it in the sand.

Nell: Of course she does.

Me: Why? It must be dreadfully sandy.

Nell: That’s the whole idea of a Beach Experience.

Me: A Beach Experience?

Nell: Sea and Sand. I would say Sun but we live in the UK so that can never be guaranteed.

Me: You don’t need the sand in your mouth.

Nell: Don’t you?

Me: No.

Nell: Isn’t one of your favourite childhood memories enjoying your mother’s tomato sandwiches all squished and warm and sandy on a Devon beach?

Me: It is.

Nell: Substitute a tennis ball for the sandwich and you’ll understand.

Me: It’s not quite the same.

Nell: It’s near enough. Aren’t those famous chefs you love watching always telling you to add texture?

Me: Yes, but not sand.

Nell: Ever heard of chocolate soil?

Me: Of course I have.

Nell: Harriet adds Devon sand.

Me: That sort of makes sense.

Nell; And don’t you always say finding sand in your shoes takes you straight back to a memory of the beach?

Me: Yes, I do.

Nell: It’s the same for us with a ball.

Me: So Harriet is making memories?

Nell: Yes. We all are. Every day.

Me: I see.

Nell: Memories are like jewels. We take them out and treasure them when we are in need of comfort.

Me: I’m not all that fussed about jewels. Give me one of my mother’s sandy tomato sandwiches any day.

Nell: Which is exactly what I mean and you know it.

Me: How did you get to be so wise, Nell?

Nell: Years of looking after you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Shortbread or Nothing

Me: There’s something wonderfully calming about watching dogs sleeping.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Look at the way the morning sun highlights the warm tones of Harriet’s chocolate brown fur.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: While her brother Dave snoozes away in shiny black Labrador bliss.

Nell: How do you know David is in bliss?

Me: He ate three bacon sandwiches. Two on purpose and one by mistake.

Nell: How can you eat a bacon sandwich by mistake?

Me: Poppy made it for Gladys but one of the llamas twisted its ankle cartwheeling so she had to leave it and go and find an ankle support.

Nell: What’s that got to do with David?

Me: Dave’s in charge of clearing up today.

Nell: I know he is, I write the roster. Why wasn’t the sandwich wrapped up and put aside for later?

Me: It had already gone.

Nell: Down David’s throat?

Me: It was an easy mistake to make.

Nell: David simply cannot grasp the concept of Leftovers no matter how many times I try to explain it.

Me: I think most Labradors struggle with the idea.

Nell: Excuse me? Why mention Labradors?

Me: Well, you are known for your greediness.

Nell: Greediness? We are not greedy. We are Interested and Supportive.

Me: You can say that again.

Nell: Why should I? You heard me the first time.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: I’m afraid we Labradors are hugely misunderstood.

Me: That reminds me, the vet says your weight is the same as last time and we need to get it down.

Nell: One should never discuss a lady’s age or weight.

Me: It’s because of your arthritis.

Nell: Don’t even think of offering me a carrot with my mid-morning tea. Shortbread or nothing.

Me: It’s going to be nothing then. Sorry.


Back on the Dog Beach

Me: So, we’re back on the dog beach again.

Nell: Yes, until October. It is actually called River Beach and is just around the corner from our usual one.

Me: I know and the walk there is really lovely.

Nell: I don’t like the steps down to the beach.

Me: They are a little awkward.

Nell: But swimming is more convenient.

Me: Yes, I might join you all soon. It’s a shame Dave and Poppy have to be on a lead but at least Dave can still swim alongside Harriet.

Nell: David forgets about the rules and runs round to the No Dogs Allowed side. We cannot allow him to risk prosecution.

Me: No. That doesn’t even bear thinking about. My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy behind bars.

Nell: I believe we are talking fines here not prison sentences.

Me: It’s bad enough.

Nell: I agree. Poppy refuses to conform, of course. She is completely defiant.

Me: She certainly doesn’t like being told what to do. John the Doberman was in awful trouble when he suggested crumpets as an alternative to scones.

Nell: Crumpets? You don’t eat crumpets in May.

Me: Some people do.

Nell: Crumpets are for the colder months. Everyone knows that.

Me: A toasted crumpet with lots of butter after a swim in the sea is just the thing.

Nell: Don’t let Poppy catch you.

Me: I won’t. She gave John really short shrift.

Nell: I can imagine.

Me: Robin says the magpies are being an awful nuisance stealing the small birds’ food.

Nell: That’s magpies for you. They have notions of grandeur. I’ve told you this before.

Me: We have to salute them, Nell, or we risk bad luck.

Nell: A simple nod will suffice. They are magpies not major generals.

Me: Yes. You’re right. Sorry.


Stop being such a Drama King

Nell: Don’t make a fuss of David, please.

Me: Why? Where is he?

Nell: On the sofa wrapped in a big towel. He won’t even play Cheeky Animals with Harriet.

Me: Poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Is he feeling the cold?

Nell: So he claims, but just ignore him. He needs to stop being such a Drama King.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Manuel put too much ice in his Shirley Temple.

Me: In his what?

Nell: I suppose I should have said cocktail, or even mocktail, although I’m not a fan of the word.

Me: What is Dave doing drinking mocktails at this time of the morning?

Nell: The Cat has chosen Manuel as bartender for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Me: That makes sense. He’s ever so good with his tentacles and I can imagine him juggling cocktail shakers.

Nell: Exactly. Anyway, obviously he needs to practice so David and Harriet volunteered as his first testers.

Me: I see.

Nell: They were both thoroughly enjoying them, especially the Mango Mule, when David suddenly yelped.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: He said the Shirley Temple had given him a body freeze.

Me: It shouldn’t have done that.

Nell: I don’t think it did.

Me: I thought you could only get a brain freeze?

Nell: Exactly. David is exaggerating wildly.

Me: Maybe it was just one mocktail too many?

Nell: Yes, that’s what I think. The nachos won’t have helped. I told Poppy to tone down the spice in the salsa.

Me: I prefer mine with guacamole.

Nell: This isn’t about you. David needs to get off the sofa and continue the tasting.

Me: Perhaps Manuel could leave out the ice?

Nell: I beg your pardon? A cocktail without ice is like a scone without jam and cream. Unthinkable.

Me: Yes. Sorry.