Mystery trip story ‘full of holes’, say Ambridge locals
Two senior Ambridge residents have been accused of ‘cooking up a preposterous story’ to explain their mysterious trip to The Bull last Tuesday lunchtime.
Brian Aldridge and his mother-in-law Peggy Woolley said they decided to make a special visit to the pub because Mrs Woolley fancied a pickled egg and some pork scratchings.
But outraged villagers say they were trying to gain an unfair advantage at the Flower & Produce Show by quizzing them about their entries in the giant veg, floral arrangement and savoury bakes categories.
‘They were asking questions about Robert Snell’s tomatoes, Clarrie Grundy’s fuchsias and Bert Fry’s dahlias, and Brian was taking notes on his phone,’ said a pub regular. ‘It was completely out of character, because he wouldn’t normally take Peggy to the pub unless Jennifer stood over him with a whip.’
‘I knew something was up when Mrs Woolley tried to get a feel of my corn on the cob, and she couldn’t take her eyes off my raspberries,’ said Neville Booth of Grange Spinney. ‘They must think we were born yesterday!’
Mr Aldridge denied he and Mrs Woolley were up to anything suspicious. ‘We may have asked about the Flower & Produce Show; I don’t recall, because it was raining,’ he said. ‘But we went to The Bull because it’s world-famous for its pickled eggs and friends said they had expanded their range of pork scratchings. Did you know, they have the biggest selection in Borsetshire, according to the Good Pub Guide 1993?’
Coffee break with… Tom Archer
In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the dynamic young businessman behind the success of Bridge Farm (Are you sure? Ed.)
Q So, Tom – what’s new at Bridge Farm?
A Well, I’ve got this fantastic idea to future-proof the farm for Henry and Jack’s generation. It’s called agroforestry and it’s like trees with berries and nuts and fruit on, and you grow them in straight lines and then you let animals graze in between and plant crops, and if you grow paracetamol trees the cows will medicate themselves! And it’s called 3D farming and you print it off the internet or something! My friend Natasha from the Nuffield Scholarship reckons it could save the farm and so do I and it’s NOT because I fancy her, OK?
Q Wow, that sounds very – ambitious?
A Tell me about it! It’s tough being the only switched-on, modern, forward-thinking member of the family. My sister Helen is obsessed with her Borsetshire Blue and thinks we should set up a micro-dairy. I keep telling her, she’ll need hundreds of teeny tiny cows to make a kilo of her stinky cheese and there’s no one at Bridge Farm small enough to milk them. But she just doesn’t get it! It’s a good job I’m the grown-up around here.
Recipe of the Week: Nic’s Harvest Pie
Thanks to Emma Grundy of Grange Farm, who sent in this recipe, which she says was a favourite of her late sister-in-law Nic and her family.
1lb shop-bought shortcrust pastry
Scraps of leftover roast beef, lamb or chicken
Chunks of leftover cooked potato
A tin of mixed veg (carrots, peas and beans)
1. Feed all those rubbish ingredients to Holly the dog.
2. Get Clarrie to make one of her famous beef and vegetable pies with her special rough puff pastry.
3. Pass it off as Nic’s Harvest Pie at the Flower & Produce Show if you don’t want little Poppy to be traumatised by the judges’ opinion of her mum’s terrible cooking.
Film of the Week
Now showing at Borsetshire Rural Cinema:
The Karate Kid (PG)*
Seven-year-old Henry and his single mum Helen join a local karate class, but Henry soon finds himself the target of a group of bullies at the Ambridge dojo led by Ninja Keira, who despite not knowing her left from her right is an expert at delivering a sharp kick to the shins.
Fortunately Henry (and Helen) befriend Mr Lee, by day a mild-mannered physiotherapist who never forgets a face, but by night a black belt martial arts instructor. Mr Lee takes Henry under his wing, dissuading him from taking too close an interest in shotguns and preparing him to compete against the brutal Ninja Keira.
*Contains upsetting scenes of helicopter parenting
The secret desires of Russell Jones
In the second chapter of our searing Autumn serial, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero contemplates a life-changing move…
‘And can you imagine, Lily? That Waitrose article said you need stuff like rose harissa and organic bouillon powder to survive at uni! Ridiculous!’
Phoebe Aldridge snorted with laughter and forked more huevos rancheros into her mouth. Lily wrinkled her delicate nose. ‘Oh, but Russ loves Ottolenghi, don’t you darling?’ She patted his arm, leaving sourdough crumbs on his moss-green cashmere sleeve. Russ brushed them off and treated Phoebe to his most charming smile.
‘Yes Phoebe,’ he purred. ‘Lily and I will be living a rather more sophisticated life in Manchester than perhaps you’re used to at… where is it you study again?’
Phoebe put down her fork and looked at him with narrowed eyes. ‘Oxford. University,’ she said. ‘And Lily working all hours while you focus on your art; that’s sophisticated, is it?’
Russ winced slightly, suppressing a belch. This was meant to be a friendly brunch, not a rerun of his grilling by Dr Venables. His digestion still hadn’t recovered from all that unpleasantness about safeguarding, social services and police interviews.
He pushed aside his bowl of butternut squash and kale strata and took Lily’s hand.
‘What Lily and I have is far deeper and more precious than money and work,’ he said. ‘Isn’t it, darling?’
‘Oh yes,’ Lily breathed gratifyingly. ‘Russ is such a great artist…’
‘He’s certainly an artist,’ Phoebe muttered under her breath.
Their bill arrived, and both girls looked expectantly at Russ. He took out his hand-tooled Toledo leather wallet, but before opening it, gave them his most adorable lop-sided grin.
‘Guess what? Those Jo Malone candles I bought for the flat? Took every last penny!’ he said. ‘Silly me!’
‘Oh, darling,’ said Lily. ‘Freesia and English Pear – my favourite. You are SO sweet.’ She bent down to fetch her purse from her handbag. Across the table, Phoebe fixed Russ with a hard stare…
To be continued…