Residents gather to celebrate the Ambridge spirit
There was a delicious buffet, miles of bunting and barn dancing galore at the Brookfield village supper this week, but not everyone was in party mood.
• Alistair had warned Shula he wasn’t up to stripping the willow, but she was still miffed when he preferred to take Aunty Chris home rather than squire her in the Circassian Circle. She made a late-night booty call (invitation to coffee, surely? Ed)) to Dr Richard Locke, and they arranged to meet in the café near Felpersham Cathedral. Probably the very same one where Lilian trysted with the doomed Paul. How soon will history repeat itself?
• Pip was pie-eyed, pining for the move north, and desperate to put all her new-fangled university ideas into practice. ‘That’s my problem. I’m not patient,’ she slurred. Could she be off to inflict a robotic milking parlour on someone else’s farm? As Brookfield is so crowded, it might not be such a bad idea.
• Jolene put on her game face to call the dancing, but is worried about debts, and had to confess to David that Kenton was at home, sulking with his big screen TV and refusing to soil his hands with Brookfield’s ‘dirty money’.
• This upset David, although he had the crowd welling up with his speech about community spirit. (not another one. Ed). ‘It’s not going to be that easy,’ he mused to Pip. But the man who got his sister to forgive him for killing her husband won’t be beaten!
Rob puts Helen to the test
Helen felt she had good reason to celebrate her birthday this week, as Rob, showing all the enthusiasm of a mule, finally took the DNA test. ‘You know, Jess might have convinced herself that I really am the father,’ he ventured to Helen on the way to Felpersham. ‘But you’ve been separated for a year and a half! She’s a fantasist!’ said Helen. So having submitted to the ‘humiliating charade’, Rob’s next challenge will be to try to prevent Helen finding out what will surely be the truth…
No wonder he was so grumpy when Helen told him, over birthday supper in the Flood Bar, about plans to close Ambridge Organics and re-open it at Bridge Farm.
Customers have been swooning over Helen’s cheeses and Tom’s sausages since the temporary shop opened, so they reckon it makes sense to cut overheads and offer local, artisan produce to discerning customers on-site (get on with it; you’re not Mary Portas. Ed).
‘I don’t understand it!’ raged Rob. ‘I do my best to make life easier for you but you’re determined to make the same mistakes over and over again. You never seem to learn!’
So did Helen slap him in the face with her microwaved Hawaiian pizza for speaking to her like that? No; she apologised. ‘I shouldn’t have sprung it on you; you’re really angry with Jess, not me. I’d feel just the same – but there’s nothing to worry about now, is there?’ she soothed, proving that if there is a fantasist in Rob’s life, it probably isn’t Jess…
Ian wonders why Adam’s droning on…
Poor Ian, who is normally as trusting as the hapless Helen, was left to ponder this week why Adam seems to enjoy playing with Charlie Thomas’s joystick so much. (Rewrite. I warned you about this last week. Ed).
This followed a most instructive lesson in soil management, in which Adam contrasted Brookfield’s rich soil (‘full of worms’ said chef Ian approvingly) with the arid dustbowl that Charlie Thomas is creating at Home Farm. ‘I’m confused; you let him treat you to lunch and give you a free go on his drone, yet today you’re running him down as the bad guy,’ said Ian.
‘These things don’t have to be black and white; people can be complicated; they have different sides to them,’ said Adam airily. ‘Charlie Thomas is one of those people.’
At the barn dance, Charlie turned up with a well-dressed beard (young lady. Ed) but still found time to invite Adam to a high-tech farm open day next week – which Adam failed to mention to Ian.
It was lucky Charlie’s broken ankle stopped him dancing, or partygoers might have been shocked to see him and Adam stripping the willow like there’s no tomorrow.
Lull before the storm for the Grundys?
The senior Grundys unwittingly found themselves in an episode of Homes Under The Hammer this week. They were delighted that their landlady Hazel Woolley was doing up Keeper’s Cottage to the very highest spec. ‘It’ll be a right little palace, all paid for by Hazel’s insurers!’ crowed Eddie. Sadly they haven’t stopped to wonder why Hazel, who waters her whisky with the tears of little children, would be so generous. Surely she wouldn’t be planning to turf the Grundys out and bring in higher-paying tenants? All together now: oh yes she would!
Fortunately, Ed’s new tractor is so big it could probably accommodate the whole family, although Clarrie’s battered old sideboard, much-loved legacy from her dad, might be a squeeze.
Emma was less than impressed with the cost of the Mean Green Machine, but Ed softened her up with a pasty in the Flood Bar and she was soon wanting to drive it home. ‘Em, I love you to bits and would give you the world if I could, but no,’ said Ed – his most sensible decision for some time.
New series: Beauty with Bellamy
And now something especially for our lady readers: our new columnist, Lilian Bellamy, has graciously agreed to share her top beauty tips with us. Over to you, Lilian!
• My beauty routine starts first thing, darlings, with a glass of brandy. It makes the world go a little bit blurry just before you put your make-up on – perfect.
• I never, ever, expose my face to daylight. Nothing to do with sunburn; I just look so much better in darkened rooms.
• I strictly follow the 5: 2 diet. On two days of the week I have just five gins, and on the other five I drink whatever I like. Works for me!
• Exercise is very important to me. I always walk to the car.
• I love the pool. Lying beside it with a strawberry daiquiri is my favourite spa treatment – and it’s one of your five a day!
• I’m not a believer in expensive anti-ageing creams – not since my son James recommended this marvellous little man in Bayswater. Thanks to his magic syringe, I look 20 years younger. Just ask my brother-in-law Brian. He says if he wasn’t married to Jenny he’d be after me himself! Not bad for a lady in her late 40s! (NB subs, check. Looks 70 if she’s a day. Ed)