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Dave has a lot to think about

Me: Dave is looking rather thoughtful.

Nell: Yes.

Me: He had a very successful visit to the vets yesterday.

Nell: I know.

Me: He weighs 47.8 kilos. He could do with losing a kilo, but he’s still perfect.

Nell: Yes.

Me: The vet said he was a magnificent dog. She even suggested that we contact the Kennel Club to have him registered as a stud dog.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: That’s good news, isn’t it?

Nell: It depends. Sally might not agree.

Me: Oh, I see what you mean.

Nell: We discussed it at Morning Thoughts and David is going to have a quiet with Charlie and Mutley this afternoon.

Me: Mutley can’t hear.

Nell: No. But he can listen and nod knowingly.

Me: Personally I think my Big Brave Beautiful Boy would make a wonderful stud dog.

Nell: I quite agree. He is both handsome and kind which is a winning combination in my eyes.

Me: Yes. He has a wonderful temperament. He is a great credit to you, Nell.

Nell: You are too kind.

Me: Talking of kind, thank you for coming to see my little sister Alex with me yesterday.

Nell: She is unwell. I was glad to be of comfort.

Me: You were glad to eat the cat food.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I heard you crunching in the kitchen.

Nell: I may have stumbled across a few biscuits when I went to find water. I thought they were for me.

Me: You so didn’t, Nell. You checked to see if we were busy chatting and then you slunk in there and wolfed them down.

Nell: Slunk? I have never slunked in my life.

Me: It looked like slinking you me.

Nell: I was moving quietly in respect for the indisposed.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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No sausage

Me: You are going to have to forgive me some time, you know.

Nell: I know.

Me: We had a lovely day yesterday, didn’t we?

Nell: Yes. It was good to see the sun again.

Me: And rainbows.

Nell: And rain.

Me: Not much rain.

Nell: We were the only ones eating lunch outside.

Me: It was glorious down on the beach.

Nell: People actually pointed at us in amazement.

Me: They were admiring the view, or my hat.

Nell: Nobody is going to admire that hat.

Me: No, you are right. Our fish was delicious though, wasn’t it?

Nell: I had a very small portion.

Me: I know.

Nell: And Kev had sausages.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Sizzling sausages.

Me: Yes. His favourite.

Nell: And mine.

Me: I know, but there is nothing to be done.

Nell: People say that when there actually is something to be done. Like giving the poor starving animal a sausage.

Me: We both know you aren’t a starving animal. Anyway, you enjoyed your fish.

Nell: It was not a sausage.

Me: Then we all ran on the beach.

Nell: I ran on the beach. You didn’t do any running.

Me: I kicked your ball.

Nell: You did. Badly, but with a certain degree of enthusiasm.

Me: You met an optimistic young poodle.

Nell: It was very bouncy.

Me: You were bouncy when you were young.

Nell: I was never bouncy.

Me: And after another walk with everyone, including Mutley, we had a lovely dinner together.

Nell: There was no meat.

Me: I know. It was vegetarian.

Nell: I’m not a vegetarian.

Me: No, but James Beddall is, and you know how much you like him.

Nell: I can’t believe you just used the Kind James card. Leave him out of this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Nell is not amused

Me: When are you going to talk to me again?

Nell: I don’t know.

Me: The sun is shining so I thought we might go down to the beach later.

Nell: Maybe.

Me: It won’t be no scones for ever, Nell. You just have to lose a few kilos.

Nell: I am a lady Labrador of a certain age, not a whippet.

Me: I know that.

Nell: The indignity of having one’s weight discussed publicly.

Me: Yes. Unfortunately the scales are in reception.

Nell: How would you like it if you had to weigh yourself in the front garden with people saying hello and discussing the weather all around you?

Me: I wouldn’t like it at all. In fact it sounds like one of those awful nightmares.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But the vet said you are doing really well otherwise.

Nell: A Labrador cannot survive on a handful of dry biscuit alone.

Me: Of course not. I’ll ask Poppy to prepare lots of steamed vegetables and some chicken.

Nell: And then I have a needle stuck in me and something shoved up my nose.

Me: It was time for your boosters. The puppies and Poppy are going tomorrow.

Nell: Well, you need to prepare them. You know how much David hates a weigh-in and as for needles.

Me: Don’t you think it would be best just to take them? They might not get in the car otherwise.

Nell: You have a point. Going to the vets is not something anyone does willingly. The puppies dislike it and Poppy is extremely strong-willed.

Me: That’s why I didn’t tell you.

Nell: As a mature Labrador I would have accepted it.

Me: I’m not so sure about that, Nell.

Nell: Well, we will never know now, will we?

Me: No. Sorry.

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Warm and Safe

Me: What awful weather?

Nell: It’s that Irish storm. Seamus.

Me: You mean Storm Brendan.

Nell: Whatever. My friend Pamela had to cancel her hair appointment.

Me: Why?

Nell: Well, you know Pamela is on the large side?

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s in her genes. All Pyrenean Mountain Dogs are the same. You never see a skinny one.

Me: The mere idea.

Nell: Quite. We met at one of those dreadful public weigh-ins at the vets. Why they have to do that is beyond me. Anyway, where was I?

Me: You were talking about Pamela cancelling her hair appointment because of Brendan.

Nell: I don’t know who he is. Pamela cancelled because of the weather.

Me: That’s what I meant.

Nell: Stop interrupting me, or I’ll lose my train of thought.

Me: Why can’t Pamela go to the hairdresser?

Nell: There’s no point. Do you know how long it takes to wash and blow dry a Pyrenean Mountain Dog?

Me: I can’t say that I do.

Nell: Several cups of tea and an awful lot of biscuits. I know because I’ve waited for her.

Me: Gosh. But I still don’t know why she cancelled.

Nell: Because when she steps outside into all that raging wind and rain it will be for nothing. Unless you want the wild and tousled look, which Pamela doesn’t, it is completely pointless.

Me: I see what you mean.

Nell: No. This is a day for staying in and cuddling up in front of the fire.

Me: That’s what Dave and Harriet are doing.

Nell: Yes, David is keeping Harriet Warm and Safe. It’s what he does best.

Me: I’m going to do the same.

Nell: No. You have another book to write. Stormy weather is perfect for writing so no excuses.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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That Monday Look

Me: Don’t give me that Monday look.

Nell: What Monday look?

Me: It’s the What on Earth are You Going to Say Now look.

Nell: Well, go on then. Say it.

Me: This is going to sound silly, but you know Kev loves watching American Football?

Nell: Yes.

Me: And some of the family, including the large beasts, were watching it with him last night?

Nell: I prefer tennis myself, or a quiet round of golf.

Me: Yes. It’s such a confusing game. All that stopping and starting.

Nell: Monty the Moose tried to explain the rules but Alejandro and Olive said they were completely mystified.

Me: Mutley enjoys it even though he can hardly see and he definitely can’t hear.

Nell: It’s the theatre of it apparently. Gladys loves it and so does The Cat. Did you see what it was wearing? A sequinned bolero?

Me: I thought it looked rather smart. Anyway, talking of dressing up.

Nell: Yes?

Me: You’re going to laugh but I think Henry and Horst were wearing padding.

Nell: Padding?

Me: Yes. You know like the American footballers do. Big wide shoulders.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous.

Me: I was surprised.

Nell: Henry and Horst don’t have shoulders.

Me: I never knew woodlice played American football.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I suppose Henry would be a sprinter and Horst would be in defence because he’s twice Henry’s size.

Nell: Stop.

Me: I knew you wouldn’t believe me.

Nell: They were wearing life jackets.

Me: Life jackets?

Nell: Yes. After the incident with Kev’s bath.

Me: Kev’s bath?

Nell: They were on the tap and nearly fell in. Kev had to save them. They have now been issued with life jackets.

Me: What were they doing in there? Tap dancing?

Nell: Not funny.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Think Twice

Me: Well, I think the puppies could ask for a bounce on next door’s trampoline.

Nell: There will be no trampolining so they can stop gazing out of the window at it.

Me: You are mean.

Nell: David always gets carried away. Don’t you remember last time?

Me: No.

Nell: David bounced Poppy and Gladys right up into the sky.

Me: They loved it.

Nell: Both puppies have a lot to think about and it’s not trampolining.

Me: What is it then?

Nell: If you must know we were discussing ‘Think Twice’ at Morning Thoughts. David in particular struggles with the concept.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: He and Harriet are taking today to do some Careful Considering.

Me: But it’s Sunday.

Nell: Sunday is a day of rest and contemplation.

Me: Not when it starts with show tunes from the Welsh corgi choir.

Nell: I know ‘Hello Dolly’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but you must admit the hats were excellent.

Me: I noticed Lady Anwen was there with Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Yes. She wants him to visit Buckingham Palace.

Me: Does she now?

Nell: Yes. And she suggested he takes David.

Me: Dave would love it. He’s got a top hat.

Nell: All I can say is ‘Think Twice’. If he hasn’t mastered that he shouldn’t be meeting royalty.

Me: The thing is, Nell. I don’t think he ever will.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Some of us are impulsive by nature and I don’t want my Big Brave Beautiful Boy to change.

Nell: It’s not often that I say this, but you might be right.

Me: Really?

Nell: Shall we see if next door will let the puppies bounce on their trampoline?

Me: Will you be joining them?

Nell: Enough. Quit while you’re ahead.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An eventful dinner party

Nell: Where’s David?

Me: Having cuddles and telling Tony about yesterday’s dinner party.

Nell: It was certainly eventful.

Me: Why?

Nell: Lady Anwen nearly choked on a fish.

Me: I didn’t know Poppy was serving fish.

Nell: She wasn’t. Someone threw a mackerel through the window.

Me: Why was the window open?

Nell: Because the Welsh corgi choir were singing outside. But that’s not the point.

Me: Why did Lady Anwen eat it?

Nell: She used to play netball in her younger days so when it came flying in she caught it.

Me: In her mouth?

Nell: Obviously. Luckily Knitwear Wolf knows the Dry Stick Manoeuvre.

Me: Don’t you mean the Heimlich manoeuvre?

Nell: No. You simply hit the person choking on the back with a stick or, in this case, a baguette.

Me: Good for Rupert.

Nell: Yes. It was a tense moment.

Me: I presume the Beefies were behind it?

Nell: Of course. Fortunately Gladys performed a contemporary dance before any questions could be asked.

Me: Quick thinking.

Nell: It was a frosty start until Charlie said ‘May I introduce Prince Rupert?’ and her eyes lit up.

Me: I bet they did.

Nell: She had no idea that Knitwear Wolf was royal.

Me: He isn’t. It’s just where he comes from in Canada.

Nell: I know that and you know that, but she doesn’t.

Me: No.

Nell: At dinner Mutley was on her left and nodded regularly in an interested way.

Me: Who was on her right?

Nell: Rupert. He was wearing an elegant knitted suit and was charm personified. He soon had her eating out of his paw.

Me: I don’t think he should have been feeding her, Nell. She can do that on her own.

Nell: Not literally. I despair of you sometimes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Diplomacy

Nell: Why anyone would choose to be a diplomat is completely beyond me.

Me: But you are so good at it.

Nell: It’s absolutely exhausting. Do you know that corgi actually sniffed at one of Poppy’s scones?

Me: No?

Nell: And asked if they were shop bought.

Me: Shocking.

Nell: I said ‘Lady Anwen, these are Poppy’s award winning scones. People travel from far and wide just to taste one.’

Me: Good for you.

Nell: David ate three by mistake.

Me: I don’t blame him.

Nell: He was supposed to be handing them round.

Me: He was just showing solidarity.

Nell: He’s terrified of her.

Me: Why?

Nell: She’s taken a shine to him. She calls him her Handsome Boy.

Me: What? He is my Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: She says he would be perfect for Myfanwy and the palace would love him.

Me: Sally can’t be pleased about that.

Nell: I told her. Young people must be allowed to make their own decisions.

Me: Quite right too.

Nell: But she kept saying: ‘A wolf, Eleanor? We can’t have a wolf in the family.’

Me: Who is Eleanor?

Nell: It’s my full name.

Me: No, it isn’t. You are Nell.

Nell: I am usually Nell but there are times when I am Eleanor and this is one of them.

Me: If she met Knitwear Wolf she would change her mind. He is such a charming wolf.

Nell: Exactly. So I am having a dinner party and everyone is invited.

Me: Even the large beasts?

Nell: Of course not. I mean Myfanwy, Knitwear Wolf and Lady Anwen.

Me: Can I come?

Nell: I think not. Charlie will join me in hosting and we will sit Mutley next to Lady Anwen.

Me: But he can’t hear.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A Surprise Visitor

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

Nell: I don’t think Gladys should use Alejandro as a surfboard though.

Me: He doesn’t seem to mind. He says the waves remind him of his hammock.

Nell: It’s undignified.

Me: I expect he misses sleeping outside.

Nell: You can’t expect an alpaca to sleep in an outside hammock in this cold weather.

Me: No. You are right. Maybe we could put his hammock up in the barn?

Nell: Yes. I’ll talk to Ron Gilbert. He’s very handy with his paws.

Me: But Ron’s not very keen on Alejandro. He still carries a torch for Gladys.

Nell: Gladys doesn’t need anyone to carry a torch. She uses her iBone light like everyone else.

Me: It’s just a saying. Is Ron coming over then?

Nell: Yes. The Cat is hosting the Knit and Natter group at the Big House so he said he would pop in for a scone.

Me: I didn’t realise Ron knitted. An unusual pastime for a Great Dane.

Nell: It’s not only Welsh corgis who knit you know. Knitwear Wolf himself is joining them.

Me: Well, that will be because of Myfanwy.

Nell: You might be right. They are rarely apart nowadays.

Me: I think it’s sweet.

Nell: Is that someone at the door?

Me: Yes. An irate corgi in a twinset and pearls.

Nell: She’s come to the wrong place. Tell her the Knit and Natter is over at the Big House.

Me: She says she’s from Buckingham Palace.

Nell: Oh dear. I don’t know how they expect me to help them with this.

Me: Is it about Harry and Meghan?

Nell: No. It’s about Myfanwy and Rupert. The royal side of the family aren’t keen on wolves. You’d better show her in.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Thank you

Me: What’s going on here?

Nell: Some of us are trying to rest.

Me: Dave’s on the bed with his big bowl.

Nell: David is protesting.

Me: What about?

Nell: Reduced rations.

Me: It’s January, we’re all cutting back.

Nell: I’m afraid one dippy egg and a single slice of hot buttered toast is not enough for a growing animal.

Me: He ate a bowl of porridge too.

Nell: Yes, and not even by mistake. Out of necessity.

Me: With honey from Malcolm’s bees.

Nell: You don’t expect a flamingo to be a beekeeper. It is one of life’s surprises.

Me: We seem to have a lot of those. Anyway, don’t change the subject. Dave had two breakfasts and look what you’ve all done to the bed.

Nell: Malcolm says Henry and Horst are an enormous help with the bees. They can talk to them you know.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: Beefies are scared of bees, of course. It’s because they won’t take any nonsense.

Me: A bit like you then.

Nell: I shall ignore that remark. Have you thanked everyone yet?

Me: No, I was just about to when I saw Dave.

Nell: The publishers were very impressed with yesterday’s comments. They found them most helpful.

Me: Yes, they did.

Nell: And you were quite overwhelmed with people’s support.

Me: I was, thank you all so much.

Nell: Now, I think on a grey and chilly day like today a nice cup of Earl Grey and some freshly baked shortbread is just what the vet advises.

Me: No, he doesn’t Nell. He said you all need to lose weight.

Nell: Perhaps Kev could light the fire and you and I could do the crossword.

Me: That does sound awfully tempting.

Nell: I knew it would.

Me: Yes. Sorry.