Saturday, 17 June 2017

Open house at Brookfield, a row at Ambridge Hall and big plans at Bridge Farm – an emotional week in Ambridge

Farm visitors treated to a warm welcome

Hundreds of families flocked to Ambridge last weekend as farms threw open their barn doors for Open Farm Sunday.
‘It was a very successful day,’ said Pip Archer of Brookfield. ‘I was worried people wouldn’t come, because of the outbreak of IBR, a really nasty, infectious cattle disease that we had. But funnily enough, people didn’t know about it until I reminded them! Even when I went on about how awful it was, with calves dying and everything, it didn’t seem to put them off Gran’s chocolate sponge.
‘It’s great that people know Brookfield for our milk, lamb and beef, and not as the “farm of plague and pestilence”, said Miss Archer. 'I bet they went home, forgot about the hideous, contagious disease they’d just been exposed to, and increased their orders for Brookfield beef. No wonder Dad says I’m a marketing genius.’
But not everyone was happy that Brookfield had decided to take part in the event. ‘They’ve got a nerve after all the trouble they caused with the IBR,’ said Tom Archer of Bridge Farm. ‘And they’ve got my dad’s classic Fordson tractor, which is worse. Everyone knows the kids love to climb up on an old relic. That’s why we usually invite Joe Grundy over to tell his tales of old Borsetshire.
‘As it was, there was nothing to distract the visitors from my sister Helen. Her friend Kirsty had made a sign for her, which read ‘Yes, I’m Helen Archer who stabbed her husband. No, you can’t have a selfie. Get over yourself and taste my  cheese.’ But it only seemed to make people more determined to ask her about the trial. And no one was interested in my fermented foods at all. Although someone did ask me if Kale Kimchi was that bloke out of EastEnders.’

Your week in the stars

What does fate hold in store for our readers? Our resident astrologer Janet Planet is back with all the answers…


Being as stubborn as a ram is unhelpful if you are having relationship problems, but lucky Arians may find the path back to true love runs a little smoother with the aid of a friendly benefactor – for example a millionaire step-father to be, who is willing to hand over a hefty chunk of change to get you out of his hair and his bathroom.


Virgoans with a head for business will find everything is going swimmingly this week – but be wary of springing unwelcome surprises on your family.  Tell your father that you have gone behind his back to cancel your university place, and you may find that Uranus goes retrograde very quickly indeed.


They say that eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves, but if challenged about spreading a rumour, fair-minded Librans know they are only passing on essential information for the good of the village. And there is always a silver lining to any cloud, especially if by inadvertently overhearing someone’s private conversation, you can make sure your daughter’s family is first in the queue for a starter home in the new development you are not supposed to know about.


This ‘summer of love’ has already proved to be a turning point for hot-headed young Sagittarians, who will be itching to break free from ‘normcore’ activities and to make their fortune. But a word to the wise: if you insist on ending your education at 16, you may still find you need more on your CV than a working knowledge of Call of Duty and a pus-filled eyebrow piercing.

*If you are the twin sister of a hot-headed young Sagittarian, your week will be completely different even though your birthdays are exactly the same.  Such are the mysteries of astrology.

Prize word-puzzle: results in full

The Ambridge Observer has taken the unusual step of publishing the solution to this week’s prize word-puzzle early, as many readers told us it had them completely stumped.  ‘I apologise to readers,’ said puzzle compiler Prof Jim Lloyd. ‘There has been an extraordinary outbreak of recherché vocabulary in Ambridge this week and I could not resist making use of it in my puzzle. But if   readers missed Lynda Snell’s 70th birthday party, the subsequent argument between Mrs Snell and Lilian Bellamy, or indeed the return of Freddie Pargetter from the Isle of Wight Festival, they would have been at a loss.’

2 Leonie’s view of James (with 4 down)
5 Lilian’s view of Leonie
6 Rejected by Leonie?
8 James’ view of Leonie
11 Lynda’s view of James
12 Lilian’s view of Leonie’s emotional state

1 Lynda’s view of James
3 The row between James and Leonie
4 James’ view of Leonie (with 2 across)
7 Lilian’s view of Leonie
9 What Freddie had on the Isle of Wight (1)
10 What Freddie had on the Isle of Wight (2)

The Bridge Farm Artisan Foods Experience:special earlybird offer!

Bridge Farm has big plans to build a state-of-the-art, eco, retro, timber-framed Learning and Experience Centre to demonstrate our passion for artisan foods at premium prices – none of that processed supermarket muck.

And this is your chance to be one of the first to experience the experience for yourself!

A voucher to spend the day in our light, airy, eco, retro (yes, get on with it. Ed) is a wonderful treat for yourself – or a thoughtful gift for a loved one. The fully immersive artisan experience at Bridge Farm includes:

• Welcome, valet parking and directions to the toilets (Kirsty Miller)
• Workshop One: ‘There’s more to it than pickling, you know.’ How fermented foods will save the planet (Tom Archer)
• Workshop Two: ‘That’s the whey!’ Make your own organic paneer (Helen Archer)
• Lunch: Soup, sandwich and an informal chat about yogurt with Emeritus Professor of Dairy, Pat Archer
• Afternoon walk: a guided tour of Home Farm’s herbal leys and an earnest lecture on bio-diversity (Kirsty Miller).
• Workshop Three: ‘A flair for retail’: Helen Archer’s farm shop display masterclass, with an opportunity to buy the ingredients for a quinoa-based meal of your choice.

Remember – this experience is not yet available (it depends on selling off 3.5 acres to Justin Elliott to build houses, though some of them will be affordable, honest).

So book now to reserve your place at our first amazing, experience-of-a-lifetime experience!  Only £100 per person (refreshments extra).  

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Ruairi’s a hit and Justin’s in the… a busy week in Ambridge!

Elliott defends Berrow Farm plan

Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, has been forced to defend his planned development in Ambridge following an impassioned protest by Kirsty Miller at last Friday’s Parish Council meeting.
‘We are aware that not everyone wants this kind of scheme as their near neighbour,’ he told the Ambridge Observer.  ‘But I do not need Ms Miller to tell me that families who need affordable housing are intelligent, inquisitive and playful, with a keen sense of smell. I can assure her they will be housed in airy conditions, in units built to strict environmental regulations. Actually, research shows that when well managed, they do not suffer by living in closely-packed  housing, and their desire to see the sky or rootle in the soil is vastly overstated.   And of course, all their slurry will be disposed of in the anaerobic digester, minimising the chance of pollution in the surrounding area.’
(Note to subs: can you check these quotes with Justin’s PR? Not too sure he’s on message here. Ed.)

Surprise winner of Single Wicket

Chris Carter emerged as the winner of this year’s Ambridge Single Wicket Competition after a closely fought final against Ruairi Donovan. But it was Ruairi, dubbed ‘the Silent Assassin’ by the crowd, who surprised spectators with his stylish stroke play. ‘It doesn’t seem like five minutes since he was a sad little chap, dragging round his smelly old Mousie and being ignored by everyone,’ said one. ‘But you should see him now! They must be giving him extra Weetabix at that boarding school. And he was quite a hit with the ladies.  Even Tracy Horrobin had a glint in her eye. Mind you, she always has a glint in her eye.’
The other surprise of the annual contest for the Mark Hebden Memorial Trophy was the performance of Ambridge’s female cricketers. Both Anisha Jayakody and Lily Pargetter reached the semi-finals, and Lily caused the upset of the day by giving captain Harrison Burns his marching orders in the first round, thanks to an excellent catch by Johnny Phillips.  
‘I’m really pleased for the women,’ said Ms Jayakody. ‘Lily’s made up for her disastrous innings that lost us the match against Wimberton. Although of course that was a league match, and this was just for fun. That’s why I don’t mind not winning. Not really.’ 

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is on hand to sort out all your practical and emotional dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

A property developer, who happens to be engaged to my sister-in-law, wants to buy one of our fields so he can build some houses on it. But my daughter, who doesn’t yet know about his offer, is insisting on supporting her friend, who is passionately opposed to his plan to build a large intensive pig unit in the village. It’s all rather awkward. What should I do? Pat.

Dear Pat, 

In your longer letter, you tell me you are very protective towards your daughter because of the difficulties she has had. But it is time you realised she is no longer a child. Tell her about the developer’s offer. When she hears the details, I am sure she will come up with a million reasons why she isn’t able to support her friend.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I broke up with my boyf a while ago and hoped we could stay friends – you know, hanging out, texting, RTing each other’s jokes and stuff. Tbh, I get bored working all day on the farm and it’s fun to hear from him. But now he tells me it’s agony for him to stand by while I’m having a laugh about relief milking with my friend Todd, and he wants to unfriend me on Facebook. AIBTU to think he’s being mean? Pip.

Dear Pip,

I must admit I found your letter a little hard to decipher. But I consulted my friend Indira, who is more familiar with the vernacular of social media than I. And yes, To Be Honest, I do think you are Being Totally Unreasonable in thinking he is mean. Indira tells me that ‘RTing a joke’ is an indication of approval, which is likely to make the poor young man feel he still has a chance with you. However, neither Indira or I can think of anything remotely amusing about relief milking, so if you and Todd find it funny, perhaps you would be better to recruit him as your next boyf and consign your ex to history, on Facebook and IRL (is that right, Indira?)

Dear Auntie Satya,

I have come to Ambridge to work in polytunnels and live in caravan but I am first time away from my family and I am sad. Then at welcome BBQ I meet young man called Josh who give me beer and show me his website with lots of pictures of tractors, just like at home in Ukraine. Do you think he is good young man for me? Sonja.

Dear Sonja,

It is natural to be homesick, but do not let yourself be flattered by this young man’s attention. From what I know of him, he is probably more interested in you as an employee than as a girlfriend. If you are not careful, you will find yourself scrubbing rust off old farm machinery for less than the minimum wage, and I am sure this is not the rich cultural experience you had in mind.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Justin plots, Pip moves out and Johnny gets lucky: a week of shocks in Ambridge

Shock as piggery plans are leaked  

Borchester Land is readying plans to house more than 15,000 pigs and 500 breeding sows on the site of the Berrow Farm mega-dairy, The Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal.
It’s believed that Justin Elliott and Brian Aldridge were aiming to sneak the plans past residents next week, while environmental activist Lynda Snell is away celebrating her birthday in Florence.
But thanks to our source, who overheard the BL board members talking while   PAT-testing kettles in the fruit pickers’ caravans at Home Farm, we can report that the huge indoor pig unit could be up and running within a few months.
It is believed that much of the infrastructure for an intensive livestock operation is still in place, with the anaerobic digester ready to handle the vast amounts of slurry that would be generated.
Borchester Land initially refused our requests for a statement, and Brian Aldridge was unavailable as he was acting as temporary co-ordinator for the Speedwatch scheme, according to his wife Jennifer. ‘Oh dear, I was afraid this would get out,’ she said. ‘I won’t be able to go to the shops now without someone button-holing me about this. And poor Lynda! She was looking forward to enjoying the Chiostro dello Scalzo (what this? Ed) without a care in the world, and now she’ll be coming back to a sea of – well, you know!’
However, as The Ambridge Observer went to press, Mr Elliott issued a comment.
‘Residents of Ambridge have no need to be concerned,’ he said. ‘It is in my own interests to look after beautiful surroundings. This is why I have arranged for a forestry contractor to manage the Millennium Wood, where my fiancée Lilian and I love to walk and ride, and why I am siting the pig unit at Berrow Farm, where I never go unless I have to and where the only neighbours are a light engineering firm and Price Baumann with their ridiculous drones.’

 Single wicket hots up

This year’s Ambridge Single Wicket contest, on Bank Holiday Monday, is set to be more competitive than ever. The event is being targeted by female cricketers who feel they have a point to prove after being left out of several matches already this season.
‘The girls are taking it very seriously,’ said one insider. ‘Lily Pargetter is having private coaching with Johnny Phillips, and Anisha Jayakody has lined up Barry Simmons to help with her bowling. It looks like there’s some needle between those two, but my money’s on Anisha. After cheating to beat Jazzer in a drinking contest, who knows what she’d do to get her mitts on the Mark Hebden trophy?’

Scruff Gin readies marketing push

Jolene and Kenton Archer of The Bull are investing a ‘three-figure sum’ to promote Scruff Gin, the artisan brand produced by Toby Fairbrother at Hollowtree. The spend is believed to include posters, coasters (rewrite to avoid rhyme. Who do you think you are – Pam Ayres? Ed) cocktail umbrellas and a loyalty card scheme (pictured).

‘If customers buy nine bottles of Scruff, the tenth is on us!’ said Kenton Archer. ‘We have a slight logistical issue as Toby has only made eight bottles so far, but we’re sure there’s plenty more in the pipeline.’
‘I’ve defined a clear profile of my target customer,’ said Mr Fairbrother. ‘She’s a young, confident farmer, sure of herself, very sexy, with the sun streaming through her blonde hair as she drains a tractor sump… That’s my Scruff girl! And this scheme is designed to get her so drunk she won’t even remember that she dumped me.’

Speedwatch team file first reports

As the first Speedwatch patrols begin operations in Ambridge, Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has released a sample report to show just how effective it is proving. ‘It is a shame there were no actual offences recorded, but I am pleased to see my deputy Derek Fletcher performed his monitoring duties very well,’ said scheme co-ordinator Mrs Lynda Snell.

Wednesday May 24
Patrol: Mrs J. Aldridge, Mrs L. Bellamy
6.30pm Arrive at monitoring station
6.45pm Erect warning sign (hard to get the hang of it)
6.50pm Derek Fletcher
6.53pm Gemma Hawkins, looking vexed
6.55pm Speeding car – 37 mph! Reg number TAB? TAV? Sorry…
7.00pm Derek Fletcher again
7.03pm Tea break
7.10pm Derek Fletcher again
7.15pm Adam Macy on his way home. Coo-ee, Adam!
7.20pm Usha Franks, working late, poor thing
7.29pm 43 m.p.h PC Harrison Burns
The rest of this report has been redacted by the Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit.

From the message boards

This week we drop in on the Ambridge Teen Forum, to see what the younger generation are chatting about online…

• OMG!! I asked Amber to go to the Isle of Wight Festival with me and she said yes! Seems she’s a massive David Guetta fan. Haven’t told her about sharing a tent yet but I’m sure we’ll get on OK. Thanks Lily! If you’d not pushed me into it I’d never have asked her. JohnnyP.
• Oh right, so Amber’s the lucky girl, is she? Don’t tell her you’ve no idea who David Guetta is and you’ll be doing dad-dancing to Rod Stewart! And does she know you smell of cow-(moderated. Check the board rules, guys.) Naomi.
• Naomi, you OK hun? I know it’s hard but Johnny isn’t the right boy for you. Don’t worry, I’ll find you someone much more in your league. Lily P.
• Amber? Talk about out of your league Johnny! I don’t know why you couldn’t take me. Except I’m stuck in Exam Hell and mother would kill me if I went off to a festival. She hates them. And we all know why. Freddie P.
• That’s enough, Freddie. Anyway, it will be more fun at home now that Pip is coming to stay. You can play her your Rag’n’Bone Man album and pretend you’re at the festival. And I can’t wait to get my hands on her hair! She’s a lovely woman, but a stranger to the hot brush. Lily P.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

My husband Neil and I would like to thank everyone who sent their best wishes for his 60th birthday last week, and especially the bell ringers of St Stephen’s for the surprise quarter peal. A lot of people have remarked how well Neil looks for his age and have asked what his secret is. So I thought your readers might like to try his favourite supper. The recipe always puts a smile on his face!

Hot ‘n’ bothered chilli

Serves 2 with plenty of seconds

250g lean, masterful mince
450g tin full of beans
1 big hunk of spicy sausage
450g juicy tomatoes (pommes d’amour)
Chilli oil, as hot as you dare
1 sexy stockman cube
Pinch of cumin get it

Stir all the ingredients together and leave to simmer while hubby gets his cocktail shaker out and rustles up a Dirty Banana. Serve with nothing but a smile.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Carter (Mrs), Ambridge View.

Situation vacant

Not-too-personal assistant

Businessman, based in Borsetshire and London, but not that wealthy so don’t get ideas, is looking for someone to manage his correspondence and schedule. This is purely a desk-based role so do not imagine for one second you will be accompanying him to parties or the races. Would suit a no-nonsense, experienced PA, devoid of charisma or personality. Halitosis an advantage. Apply to Lilian Bellamy, the employer’s fiancée, to whom he is totally and permanently committed, c/o The Dower House, Ambridge.