Rob makes a meal of it
Unusually, it was a week of appalling meals in Ambridge, starting with Kate’s Easter Day lunch of celeriac and lentil bake. Not surprisingly, Brian sneaked off early, pretending he had to see Will but secretly stuffing himself with lamb tagine at the pop-up Bull.
Unfortunately, deception came back to haunt him next day, when Kenton spilled the (non-vegan) beans to Jennifer. ‘You couldn’t expect me to pretend I’d enjoyed it!’ said Brian, which made Jennifer even crosser as Brian has been quite good at pretending in his time.
Ruth’s mum Heather was also facing a week of slim pickings (‘I get me lunches brought in now you know,’ she told her daughter, who presumably didn’t) before Ruth marched her round the farm shop and sent her back to Prudhoe with a truckle of Borsetshire Blue cheese, Bridge Farm yogurt and some crackers. ‘This’ll keep me going for weeks,’ Heather protested feebly, as she’d much rather eat Fray Bentos and fish fingers.
Young Henry Archer would rather eat fish fingers too, but his not-yet-stepfather Rob had other ideas. Furious that Helen was spending so much time at the farm shop and Ambridge Organics, he took culinary revenge by making a revolting mushroom stroganoff with cream, salt and lemon juice. Henry cried, and even über-loyal Helen refused to eat it. ‘Well Helen, if you’re never going to be here, what do you expect?’ said Rob, very quietly. Whatever could he mean?
The perils of Daphne: a ferret’s tale
Long-suffering guests at Grey Gables had a further fright this week when Joe Grundy, in a panda jumper, took over the phone in reception.
‘Eddie, Eddie, you’ve got to come! They’re gonna kill Daphne! They got a big van full of potions and poisons for massacring God’s poor creatures!’
The crisis arose after Susan spotted Joe’s errant ferret in the dining room, prompting Caroline (at last) to call in pest control.
This was inconvenient for Charlie, who was trying to soften Adam up with a romantic lunch, after showing him his drone and letting him play with his joystick at Home Farm all morning. (Rewrite. This is a family newspaper, not a Carry On film. Ed).
So began a Benny Hill-style chase round the hotel, with Joe, Eddie and Ed one step ahead of the exterminators. It culminated in the laundry room, where Daphne was holed up in some 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Fortunately for ferret and Grundys alike, Roy was in a good mood, as Phoebe had bought him an Easter egg. He offered to take Daphne home with him, where hopefully she will soon bite Kate on one of her ‘You’re not a fit parent Roy Tucker’ rants.
‘Don’t worry Daphne, it’ll just be like going on a little holiday,’ crooned Joe.
‘It’s been a good day,’ pronounced Eddie, before remembering the trails of pork scratchings that his father has left all over the hotel.
When do the fireworks start, Shula?
Lizzie described the sudden arrival of Dr Richard Locke at Messiah in St Stephen’s as a ‘blast from the past’. And it seems there may be some heat in this old flame, in contrast to Shula’s relationship with Alistair, which is fizzling fast.
With all the empathy of a postbox, Alistair told Shula that she looked ‘every inch the officer’s mother’ in her new dress for Daniel’s passing-out ceremony. ‘It won’t matter what we look like anyway,’ he said, more interested in bird-watching than admiring his wife.
Already disappointed, Shula was irritated when Alistair announced they had to cut their trip to Sandhurst short as he wanted to get back and view some new surgery premises.
‘I hope it’s worth it,’ she snapped. But Alistair revealed he might be getting too old for self-employment anyway. ‘Maybe it’s a sign to get a job in a larger practice, take on some locum work – I’m not sure I have it in me,’ he mused, before succumbing to a weak bladder and nearly missing Daniel uncovering his pips. (What does this mean? Ed).
But the newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Hebden-Lloyd had his mother sussed. ‘I’m ordering you to tell me what’s wrong mum,’ he said, with the subtlety of one of his new tanks.
‘I suppose watching you fulfill your dreams, I was wondering what happened to my own plans,’ she confessed. ‘And I met an old friend this week, which made me wonder what my life might have been if I’d made different decisions.’
‘It’s not all over yet mum!’ Daniel reassured, wise beyond his years. Can it be long before Dr Locke starts making house calls again?
Dragons’ Den Ambridge
In an exciting new series, our tame tycoon invites local small businesses to pitch for investment. How will they get on? Let’s see:
Q: I have this really cool idea for a tea room. The bank won’t give me a loan, but my boyfriend has given me a cheque for £50, the vicar really likes my community spirit, and a bloke I met in the pub on Sunday says he wants to check out my assets! And I’m keen on this crowd-funding, erm, peer-to-peer lending thing – you know what I mean. What do you think? Fallon Rogers.
A: Fallon, I’m afraid what you’ve outlined so far isn’t a strong investment proposition. But I’ve heard your tagine brings all the boys to the yard – maybe you could develop the ’hospitality’ side of the business more?
Q: I’ve sold my dairy cows to start a contracting business. My fiancee and I agreed we could only afford a small tractor, but my dad made me buy a big green monster on credit because it will be more impressive. I have a history of bad luck and getting into debt. Do you think I’ve done the right thing? Ed Grundy.
A: No. I’d rather invest in your fiancee. She seems to be the brains of the outfit.
Q I have a flair for retail and love writing up prices on little chalkboards and arranging peppers in wooden crates. Customers tell me they want to spend all their money once they see me behind the counter! But I’m concerned that my possessive partner is undermining my efforts and quite possibly poisoning my child. What should I do? Helen Archer.
A Have you tried examining some of your life choices lately? I’m out.