Sunday, 10 July 2016

Lilian sparkles, Toby seduces and Rob muscles in: a complicated week in Ambridge

Locals celebrate foodie successes 

Ambridge businesses were celebrating this week after carrying off top prizes at the Borsetshire Food & Drink Awards.
The ‘Family Dining’ category was won by The Bull, whose chef Wayne Tucson won particular praise from the judges for his sourdough sandwiches. ‘Sadly, Wayne can’t be here as his new partner, the lovely Beverley Drains, passed away very suddenly,’ said Kenton Archer. ‘But I cheered him up by offering him a permanent contract, so it’s all good really!’
There was a poignant moment when Helen Titchener was announced as the winner of the Best Artisan Product award for her Borsetshire Blue cheese. ‘Unfortunately, we weren’t able to set up a video link to the prison, but my wife Pat collected the trophy for Helen,’ said her father Tony Archer. ‘There aren’t any sharp edges on it so we’re hoping they’ll let us post it to her.’
Ian Craig, head chef at Grey Gables, where the event was held, was a wildly popular choice for the ‘Fine Dining’ award. But there was disappointment for Emma Grundy and Fallon Rogers of the Ambridge Tea Room, and for Elizabeth Pargetter of Lower Loxley, who was also recently unlucky at the Borsetshire Businesswoman of the Year awards.
‘I really don’t mind, because I’m here with dishy Doctor Locke, and at least I’m not behind bars like poor cousin Helen,’ said Mrs Pargetter graciously.  
Rex Fairbrother, representing Upper Class Eggs, joked that he was wearing his family’s only dinner jacket. ‘It’s a shame Toby couldn’t come, but he’s busy with Pip on Lakey Hill, recording some birdsong for our video,’ he said. ‘Apparently they forgot to switch the mic on last time, so they’ve gone back for a proper session. Dedicated or what?’
The glittering soirée was sponsored by Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, ably assisted by his attentive and glamorous social secretary, Lilian Bellamy. ‘It’s always a pleasure to entertain Mr Elliott,’ said Mrs Bellamy. ‘In fact, I do it as often as I can. His wife Miranda and her friends are also spending a few days in Ambridge, and I’ve worked hard to keep them well out of the way – I mean, to ensure they have a packed and enjoyable itinerary. It’s all part of the service, darling.’

Ambridge cricket in crisis talks

In a sensational move, Alistair Lloyd resigned this week as Ambridge cricket captain, saying he could no longer steer the team through an ‘unprecedented crisis’.
‘It’s terrible,’ he said. ‘For some weeks we’ve had trouble fielding a decent tea, and not putting up any tea at all against Waterley Cross was the last cheese straw. But I’m determined that no Ambridge team will ever serve shop-bought sandwiches or stale cakes. We need fresh bread to take the tea forward.’
At an emergency meeting of members, PC Harrison Burns was elected to replace Mr Lloyd as captain for the rest of the season.
‘Harrison couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the meeting, but as his girlfriend runs a café and her mum runs a pub, he’s clearly the man to provide a proper tea every match,’ said Adam Macy. ‘We’re now fully confident of our performance with Battenberg!’ (Surely, bat and ball? Ed).  

From the message boards

 This week we drop into the Ambridge Agrichat forum, to see what’s got the local farming community talking:

• Hey guys, check out this pic from the mob-grazing system Pip Archer and I are trying. Isn’t she looking good? And she’s gained an average of 1.3kg per day with minimal handling and low-cost inputs. Delighted! HomeFarmAdam

  Wow, thanks for sharing, Adam – though I’m not sure the irresistible Pip would like you talking about her weight like that! And I wouldn’t recommend minimal handling: more is more, if our date on Lakey Hill is anything to go by! Agree with you about the low-cost inputs though: a couple of cans of warm lager and we were off to the races, if you know what I mean.  UpperClassToby

Does anyone on here have Texel sheep? I’m trying to decide whether to invest in a small pedigree flock, or to use the money for a deposit on somewhere to live, so we don’t have to share with my in-laws. What do you reckon? EdShearer

• Hello everyone, I’m a newbie here, ‘cos so far I’ve been working in aerospace engineering. But I fancy a change and everyone tells me you do farming with drones now, so I’ve got a job interview on Friday! Any tips? AgriAlice

Hi Alice! I used to know someone who was keen on drones: we spent many happy hours sharing a joystick. He’s moved to Scotland now but maybe I could get in touch… no, best not. Anyway, if you can design a jet engine you shouldn’t find tractors too much trouble. Good luck! HomeFarmAdam

The Trials of Anna Tregorran

In the latest chapter of our romantic saga by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine must confront her demons to avoid a tragedy that only she can prevent…

‘I’m not a boy, I’m an elf!’ Anna looked up, trowel in hand, and was horrified by what she saw: young Henry Titchener, with big green ears and a cloak made of bedsheets, twirling round in her mother’s front garden, shrieking with joy. And hurrying behind him were Pat Archer and – how could this be? – a grinning Rob Titchener, in a hideous T-shirt bearing the slogan: ‘’Dads’ bean 2 ElfWorld.”
‘Mum, what the hell…?’ ‘It’s the Grundys’ Great Elf Migration, Anna. The parade passes the door!’ Carol said crossly. ‘Don’t take your existential dilemmas out on me young lady, or it will be an extra dose of ‘naughty time’ tea for you!’
Mumbling an excuse, Anna grabbed her trug and rushed through to the back garden, where she sank, trembling, onto a bench.  What a disaster! Not only had she almost made contact with a prosecution witness, thus jeopardising Helen’s case, but Rob was behaving as if he were still part of the family! No wonder Pat looked so uncomfortable. He must have twisted his way into their precious day with Henry, just as he had into Helen’s heart and mind… Beside herself, she started tearing at the bindweed that threatened to strangle one of Carol’s Borsetshire Blush roses. The strands came away easily enough, but she knew the roots were deep and relentless…


‘Anna? Is that you?’ Helen’s voice sounded brighter. Maybe the new haircut and outfit she’d worn for the court hearing had boosted her confidence. It certainly wasn’t Anna’s pathetic performance before the judge, she reflected ruefully. ‘Helen, how good to hear from you! How are you getting on?’ ‘OK! I’m really enjoying working in the vegetable garden, and I’ve made a friend: Kaz. You’d like her, Anna. She’s helping me think about… well, stuff. You know.’
A small ‘Hallelujah!’ rang out in Anna’s head. She didn’t care if Kaz was Lucrezia Borgia; if she was getting Helen to talk, this was progress.
‘That’s great. But Helen, I must say this: if you feel we haven’t got a good enough rapport, and would rather appoint someone else, I would understand….’ Anna hated herself for trying to run away. But she was so afraid, terrified she would be defeated by Rob, like that other charming, handsome man, the one who’d been cleared of abuse charges and had gone back to murder his wife, her client….
Anna shook her head to banish the terrible memory. What was Helen saying? ‘No, no Anna. You mustn’t leave me now! Jack’s doing well, Aunty Lilian’s coming to see me, and Borsetshire Blue might win the Best Artisan Product of the Year award! It will all be fine, you’ll see!’
Despite herself, Anna smiled. ‘OK, goodnight Helen. See you soon.’ There was a crash downstairs – no doubt her mother dropping another pot of nettle porridge, and cursing her broken wrist.  With a new sense of purpose, Anna went down to investigate. But still the image of Rob, grinning so smugly as he tousled Henry’s hair, played on her mind…

To be continued...



  1. So cleverly done, and funny - thank you!

  2. Thank you for listening and deciphering of this weeks episodes, your insiteful report has saved me from listening to the omnibus.

  3. Deep joy, two editions of the marvellous Observer in two days. Thank you Christine.

  4. Thank you all, very kind! (Though the omnibus is always worth listening to, Alcea Rosea! :-)