It was a bright and breezy early October evening. Ernie and Theo were meeting up under their favourite lamp post. As usual, Theo had arrived first.
He'd been sat in front of his lap top for most of the day reviewing 'Ernie and Theo’s' sales figures for the year. He was pleased with how they’d done but knew a lot now rested on the Christmas trading period.
He had his paws crossed that all the markets he’d booked went ahead, their customers could safely come along and bought a drying robe or something else from 'Ernie and Theo's' new Christmas Collection.
He was very keen to hear from Ernie if the new workshop was ready to move into. They’d planned to meet there but Boris’s new rules on visiting each other’s houses had put paid to that. Theo thought the workshop was excluded from the rules but even he was that confused about them he decided not to risk it.
He’d just begun strumming his paws impatiently when Ernie appeared around the corner dancing with a tree branch.
“Yeo Theo,” Ernie cried, dropping his branch, “it is good to see you!”
“It’s good to see you too Ernie, but you are a bit late!” Theo replied. “Don’t tell me you got lost again?!” he asked.
“No, no Theo, I set off in plenty of time,” Ernie explained “but yesterday's winds blew some big branches down and it took me a while to get through them.”
“You’re here now, that’s the main thing,” he said, shaking his head and smiling.
Ernie started running over to greet Theo in his usual way.
“No, no!! Stay back” Theo shouted. “Remember the two-metre rule!”
“What two metre rule, Theo? We’ve only got a one metre rule and it’s in the workshop. Did you want me to bring it along?” Ernie asked in a puzzled voice.
“No, no,” Theo replied exasperatedly, “the two-metre rule is a different thing altogether. You’re talking about a ruler not a rule.”
“What’s the difference Theo?” Ernie asked in an even more puzzled voice.
“I haven't got time to explain that,” Theo said, “just trust me, we need to be socially distant!”
“Keeping away from you doesn’t sound very social to me,” Ernie replied, frowning. “But I don’t want to get us in trouble, so I’ll stay here.”
“Good. Now, to business. How is the new workshop and office coming along?” he asked. “According to the plan, we should be in there soon. The Christmas markets aren’t far away and we need to move in and ramp up production.”
“Oh Theo, the new workshop has been my entire life for weeks!” Ernie said. “I thought you were going to call in to see things for yourself?”
“I’ve been too busy planning the Xmas markets and buying fabric for the humans to do that,” Theo said. “I’ve kept an eye on your spending though. You've done well to stay in budget,” he went on, “but when can we move in?”
“We’ve already done it Theo,” Ernie replied proudly.
“That’s great news Ernie,” Theo said, “did everything go according to plan?”
“Well, we got the stud wall up in a day, although it was a long one,” Ernie replied. “The humans ran out of wood so we had to get some more. It wasn’t my fault though. I didn’t chew any of it, although it looked tasty. It was dark by the time they finished it.”
“Estimating quantities for building work isn’t easy Ernie,” Theo explained. “Mark did well to get that job done in a day, it was the hardest part of the project!”
“It was certainly the noisiest. You know what I am like with big bangs and crashes, Theo” Ernie explained, “I stayed out of the way until it was finished!”
“Didn’t you inspect it Ernie?” Theo asked in a worried voice, “you were in charge remember!”
“Yes, I popped in to have a look,” Ernie replied “but remember I am only little, and I didn’t fancy going up the ladder to see the high bits”
“Mark will have done a great job,” Theo said, “Did everything else run smoothly.”
“The painting and putting the new floor down took a while,” Ernie replied. “I had to pop in between my naps to tell the humans to get a move on. You know what they're like, they’ll find any excuse for a tea break,” he added.
“It’s quite thirsty work painting walls and ceilings you know Ernie,” Theo explained, “I hope you weren’t too hard on them!?”
“No, I was very polite,” Ernie replied, “I inspected the work after they’d finished. It looked good to me. I gave them a ‘well done’ tail wag”
“Did you get the lighting sorted out too?” Theo asked.
“Oh yes,” Ernie answered. “Our wires got crossed a bit at first, but the new lights are working now. We still need some more sockets but they can wait,” he added.
"Well Ernie, I am impressed, " Theo said, "you've done a great job. Are the humans happy with it?"
"I think so," Ernie replied. "We went to IKEA to buy some furniture. You'll never guess who we saw?"
"Not Norman Gnome by any chance?" Theo replied, chuckling. "I hope you didn't ask him to work for us this Christmas after what happened last year?!"
"Oh, there's no chance of that," Ernie said, "Norman is rushed off his feet at IKEA. The customers can't get enough of his meatballs!"
"I wish we'd seen him rushed off his feet when he worked for us!" Theo laughed.
Ernie changed the subject, passing over the chance to remind Theo of who'd taken Norman on the previous Christmas.
"When will you be coming to see the new workshop then Theo?" he asked.
"When Boris says I can, and who knows when that will be!!", Theo said..
"Would you like me to send you a photograph of it then?" Ernie suggested.
"That's an excellent idea Ernie," Theo replied, "and let me know how the humans settle in. We can't afford any more rumblings from the factory floor."
"Oh, I don't think we'll get any of those Theo. I checked that it was all screwed down properly when the humans laid it."
Theo looked to the sky and slowly shook his head.
"On that note Ernie, I think I'm going to get my tea. I'll see you soon," he said.
"Yeo Theo," Ernie replied, "I'm going for mine too and then I'll go and keep an eye on the humans in the new workshop, see you next week!