Sunday, 29 January 2017

Rob disappears, Ursula reappears and Anisha makes her mark: an action-packed week in Ambridge

Exclusive: ‘Infamy, infamy’ claims Titchener

Rob Titchener, who has not been seen since leaving his job at Damara Capital last week, has contacted the Ambridge Observer to break his silence and hit back at the critics he claims have ‘hounded him out’ of his home in the village.
Speaking from an undisclosed location, Mr Titchener told the Observer: ‘It’s a total lie to say I was sacked from Damara. I was the best manager Berrow Farm ever had. That’s a fact. Those guys who said I blocked the culvert and diverted the water into Ambridge – so dishonest. Sad, just sad. And that so-called flood? It never happened, people. Those losers at the Environment Agency? They faked those photos to show the water four feet deep on the village green, just to destroy me and trash my reputation. Desperate. And you know what? The bad hombres at Bridge Farm, they left their taps on, just to make it look worse. Pathetic.     
‘Let me tell you guys, I love this village. No one is a bigger lover of this village than me. And don’t forget folks, I was the hero of the flood! In fact without me, there wouldn’t have been any flood! Um, wait, no, I mean…’
At this point, the line went dead and further attempts to contact Mr Titchener failed.   

Recipe of the Week

Thanks to Jill Archer of Brookfield for sending us her recipe for Special Celebratory Flapjacks. ‘I made these as a gift for my granddaughter and her boyfriend Toby, with whom I haven’t always seen eye to eye,’ writes Mrs Archer. ‘I believe in cooking from the heart, and I like to think this recipe will bring us together.’ You said it, Jill!

1 old prune
250g Toby-gets-his oats
250g self-centred flour (Fairbrother’s)
4 tbsp nuts, crushed if possible
250g artificial sweetener
3 eggs (reserve the shells for treading on)
250g butter-wouldn’t melt-in-that-man’s-mouth
1 tbsp olive-branch oil
A large pinch of salt  

Meddle (surely ‘muddle’? Ed) all the ingredients together round a dinner table until you have a stiff, awkward mix. Smooth over any cracks with a thick coating of sugar, and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands (the ones Toby is stealing from Pip, you mark my words).

Remember to say Grace before serving.

Coffee break with…. Anisha Jayacoady

In our series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with a new arrival in Ambridge – a superstar vet and proud Scot.

Q We hear you were able to save a valuable horse recently?

A Aye, Lazarus were giein’ it lalldie oer a muckle hedge an’ had a cowp. Oh – listen to me! I’m afraid I do slip into my native Glaswegian when I’m excited! Yes, Lazarus was going flat out over a hedge when he had a fall. A couple of days later we found his leg was infected, but fortunately I was able to remove the infection and flush his knee joint without sending him to equine hospital. His owner was delighted. She were up to high doe, ye ken – I mean, she was very anxious.   

Q We understand you’re a horsewoman yourself?

A Aye right enough, I’ve a bonnie braw meir I’m sae prood o’ – oh, I’m terribly sorry, did I tell you I’m Glaswegian? I mean I have a beautiful mare I’m very proud of; she’s won prizes. Being able to stable her in Ambridge is a real bonus.

Q Are you concerned about living in Blossom Hill Cottage, which has had a troubled history?

A Oh no! If Rob Titchener turned up, I’d just say: Git oot! Away an’ raffle yersel if y’dinnae want some rock salt in yer gabardines! He’d soon get the message. (Are you sure? Ed)  

Q Did you enjoy Burns Night this year?

A Aye, the hale jing-bang, once I’d skelped that wee skellum Jazzer McCreary at the drinkin’.
He thought I buttoned up the back but he’s nae callin’ me a Fanny Toosh, ye ken? Oh dear, I’m such a passionate Scot! Let me translate… I really enjoyed Burns Night once I’d beaten Jazzer in a drinking competition. I couldn’t let him think I’m a naïve, posh Glaswegian girl. So I cheated ever so slightly by drinking water instead of vodka. But you won’t tell, will you?      

Q Thank you, Anisha! Welcome to Ambridge!

A Aye, right enough. Mynd yersel on yer way oot hen. Oops, there I go again!


Got a tired tractor, a rusty roller or a baler on the blink? Need to trade it up or sell it on?
Then you need! Post your pix on our site and we’ll do the rest – match you up with a buyer or seller, help you find the right price and even deliver the kit! All for a competitive commission of just 60 per cent. Plus a box of free-range eggs for every deal over £1,000! Email Josh Archer or Rex Fairbrother today!

WINTER FICTION SPECIAL: The Trials of Pat Archer

In the latest chapter of our passionate family saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine aims to lay the ghosts of the past and has a bittersweet glimpse of the future….

‘Helen, a penny for them, love…’ Pat was worried by her daughter’s distracted air as she stacked up parsnips in strict rows like soldiers. ‘Don’t be silly mother; they’re £1.25 each. We’re an organic shop, or had you forgotten?’ Helen snapped. Then suddenly she seemed to crumple onto the rough-hewn, rustic counter-top. ‘Oh, I’m sorry mum. It’s Rob. I just can’t believe he’s really gone. Why would he, when he’s fought so hard to stay in touch with Jack? It makes no sense.’
‘I know, love. But it might be true! Justin might really have made him an offer he can’t refuse.’ But Helen still looked troubled. Pat decided to change the subject. ‘By the way, where’s Tom today?’ To her surprise, another shadow crossed Helen’s face. ‘Oh, don’t fuss mum, he’s not a baby! Oops – I mean, he’s just gone somewhere.’ And with that she rushed off into the stockroom, calling to Anya. Pat sighed. Would this family ever be free of secrets? But maybe there was something she could do… After selecting a packet of no-soak lentils and some misshapen parsnips for the evening meal, she took out her phone and called Tony…


‘So the good news is love, Rob’s really gone!’ Tony beamed at them all across the steaming pile of lentil bake. ‘I went to his flat and it’s completely empty! No sign of him.’ Pat smiled back and picked up her ladle. ‘Excellent. So that’s settled. Now, who’s for more? And by the way Tom, where did you get to today?” Tom blushed to the roots of his hair. What was going on? But before he could answer, Helen stood up, wrinkling her nose. ‘Oh, sorry everyone, I thought it was the lentils. But Jack’s nappy needs changing. Come and help me, Tom?’
‘No, it’s OK Helen… the thing is mum and dad…’ Tom crumbled his stoneground wholemeal roll, then looked up with a shy smile. ‘The thing is, Kirsty and me, we’re having a baby! That’s where I was today, at the hospital for her scan.’ Pat dropped the ladle, not caring about the brown spatters on the tablecloth. ‘Oh, Tom, how wonderful! When did you and Kirsty get back together?’
‘Well that’s just it mum; we’re not. We’re going to be a modern family. Not living together and that. Any more bake going?’ Pat served her son, once more struggling with conflicting emotions. Would anything about the Bridge Farm Archers ever be normal again?


The next day, Pat was her strong, confident self. She and Tony were going to be grandparents again, and would love Tom and Kirsty’s baby just as much as Johnny, Henry and Jack, whose circumstances were so much less complicated… Well, anyway. It was wonderful news. When the farm shop door opened, she went to the counter with a broad smile, ready for a day of successful retailing.
‘What have you done with him?’ A woman had burst in and stood on the organic coir matting, dripping rain from her billowing black Pac-a-mac. She looked like the wicked witch of the west, thought Pat. Then she ripped off her hood. ‘Ursula!’ she gasped. ‘Yes, it’s me,’ snarled Mrs Titchener. ‘Where is my son?’
Pat drew herself up to her full height. ‘I have no idea Ursula, and I care even less. Why should I?’
‘Because you and your evil family have hounded him out of his home, twisting and manipulating the truth, making out everything was his fault…’
‘How dare you? What about all the reports, the evidence, the court verdict – you’re the twisted one. Your son put Helen through hell and you connived with him at every step!’
‘Please, Pat.’ Ursula began to snivel. ‘Please, he’s my baby. I’ve lost my son!’ For a moment, Pat felt a twinge of sympathy from one mother to another. But she swallowed it down like half-digested lentil bake. ‘That is your problem Ursula. Not mine. Now get out of my shop, and stay out.’ Pat pushed past the sodden, sobbing bundle and opened the door wide, heedless of the driving rain that swept in. Slowly, Ursula shuffled out. Pat shut the door smartly behind her and double-locked it.
To be continued…  


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Lily hosts, Bert emotes and Titchener’s toast: a fabulous week in Ambridge!

Titchener to leave Damara with immediate effect

Rob Titchener, Borsetshire estates manager for Damara Capital, has been dismissed without notice, according to sources close to chairman Justin Elliott. (Is this Lilian again? Note to PA: send her a case of gin on expenses. Ed).
It is not known exactly what triggered Mr Titchener’s departure. He was appointed late last year, and was thought to be riding high at Damara, enjoying the confidence of Mr Elliott and taking a hard line on costs and production targets with the company’s agricultural contractors.
‘Justin was made aware of something Rob had done, when he was employed at Berrow Farm, that he just couldn’t overlook or forgive,’ said the source. ‘Rob was caught making an unauthorised attempt to cover up his error. It was something to do with the flood, darling, but I can’t possibly say as it could still cost Damara millions, and possibly lead to criminal proceedings.
‘Justin said he had to let Rob go, and he took it very badly,’ said the source. ‘And when he started insulting me – I mean, Mr Elliott’s closest associates – that was the final straw. Justin told him to clear his desk and leave on the spot.’
It is believed that Mr Titchener was dismissed without a reference. The Ambridge Observer attempted to contact him for comment, but he did not return calls or answer his door, although a weird, high-pitched keening could be heard from inside the executive apartment he rents on the Edgeley Road.
The news came as a shock to Mr Titchener’s colleagues. ‘Titchener’s gone? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!’ said Adam Macy of Home Farm. ‘Ian darling, get out of bed and fetch another bottle of Prosecco. We’re got even more to celebrate now!’

My Week, by Lily Pargetter

Known as the It Girl of Borchester College, Lily Pargetter, 17, spills the beans on a quiet week at Lower Loxley


It’s so sweet of you to interview me; can we do a selfie? But would you mind just taking off that jacket? I mean, what a way to lose ALL my Instagram favourites…
Perfect. Where was I? Oh yes, today I decided that we definitely wouldn’t be having a massive party at Lower Loxley while my mum is away. And of course because we weren’t having a party, I didn’t ask lovely Ian at Grey Gables to help out with the catering. And he didn’t pass on this fabulous tip: did you know, they start selling off perishables at bargain prices after 5pm at Underwoods? Crab, smoked salmon, guacamole, blinis – everything you’d want for a high-end, sophisticated party. If you were having one of course. Which I’m so, so not!


If you were having a party, today would be brilliant – it’s January, Mum’s away and all my friends need some Lily sparkle in their lives. I mean, who doesn’t feel a million times better wearing a posh frock, with cocktails and canapés? And I’m SO good at getting people to mingle. All those years helping Mum host conferences for photocopier salesmen weren’t wasted! But we couldn’t have a party, because I’d never ever go behind Mum’s back like that. And anyway, we have CCTV cameras at Lower Loxley so she’d find out straightaway. Unless you disabled them. Which I have absolutely no idea how to do, as I’m a girl and only know about eye liner and Lovesick.


Mum came back from her trip to London today so Freddie (he’s my brother, lovely guy, useless at maths but a legend at skinny-dipping) and I did what we always do on a Friday, which is clean the house from top to bottom and hide all the bottles in the barn. Not that there were any bottles of course – well, just Freddie’s usual bottle of elderflower pop. My mum is so sweet to worry about us. Do you know, she found an empty lager can (Freddie is SO dead for missing it) and thought we’d had a party! Really, as if! Although if I were to have a party, it would probably be the best party Lower Loxley has ever seen…

Calling all local poets!

The Ambridge Observer is delighted to be joining forces with Borsetshire County Library, as media partner in its Spring Poetry Competition.
Entries are invited on the theme of ‘The Space Between Words’. Winning poets will see their work published in the Ambridge Observer and will have the chance to read their poems at the next open mic night at the Torn Scrotum in Felpersham.
To help get your creative juices flowing, we asked Bert Fry, the Borsetshire Laureate, to pen a few lines. Thank you Bert and good luck everyone!

My Freda wasn’t one to shout;
She didn’t like to talk things out,
If we had a disagreement,
I would get the silent treatment.

So me and Freda made a pledge,
If I set her nerves on edge,
She would let me know my crime
Through the medium of mime.

That‘s how we got on famously
Until the Flood took her from me,
And I can say quite truthfully
We never had words, Freda and me.

She'd leave her handbag in my way,
But I'd give anything today
To find that handbag on the floor
Instead of Toby's boxer shorts. 

So my advice for all young lovers
Is make time to talk to each other.
Don’t let the space between words grow
Until it is too late. Oh no.

Personal announcement

 Miller - Archer

Mr and Mrs Graham Miller are delighted to announce the non-engagement of their daughter Kirsty, currently of Willow Farm, Ambridge, and Mr Tom Archer of Bridge Farm. Both parties wish to make it clear that they will never under any circumstances marry, and indeed why should they, as Miss Miller is an independent woman whose baby is the result of a one-night stand with an Australian mining engineer called Steve who was just shooting through last September. However, Mr Archer will be supporting Kirsty in the coming months, which is frankly the least he can do after humiliating her so completely, and think of all the expense on the wedding. Mrs Miller is still paying for her hat.
Congratulations from both families!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Justin grounded, Jill up-ended, Kirsty outed and Rob cornered – a sensational week in Ambridge

Elliott trims charity commitments…

Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, has announced he is stepping down from his role as patron of a number of Borsetshire charities and business organisations.
‘My husband has been spending far too much time on local affairs,’ said his wife Miranda. ‘I’m afraid his social secretary, Lilian Bellamy, got him in too deep and the effort has been taking it out of him. But I am in charge of his diary now and I will be ensuring that Borsetshire, and especially Mrs Bellamy, will be seeing a lot less of him from now on.’
Mr Elliott said he hoped the good causes he has been involved with would not be too disappointed. ‘Since appointing Mrs Bellamy I have gained an intimate knowledge of Borsetshire life and I am not the kind of chap who likes to pull out at short notice,’ he said. ‘But once Miranda’s ski instructor gets over his hip replacement, I’m sure her attention will be diverted back to Courchevel and it won’t be long before I’m back in the saddle.’

… but closes in on land deal

Borchester Land is close to concluding a £2.5 million deal to sell a ‘substantial’ area of arable land and woodland to Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, according to sources close to BL chairman Justin Elliott.
‘Justin wanted £2.7 million, but Brian beat him down,’ said the source. ‘He had to admit Brian was a tough negotiator. But it’s still a good deal for BL, and with the cash Brian’s saved, he can let Adam Macy carry on with the herbal leys trial. So it’s all worked out perfectly, darling.’ (Was this Lilian after one too many gins again? Excellent. Ed)  

Police warn against mystery man

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) warned Ambridge residents to be vigilant this week after a ‘sinister figure’ was seen hanging round various properties in the village. ‘Normally, I’d have a word with Neville Booth after this kind of incident, but on this occasion it was Neville who reported it,’ said PC Burns. ‘And Usha Gupta, who’s pretty reliable, also saw someone lurking outside Blossom Hill Cottage. It’s unlikely to be reporters after all this time, though we do get sightseers following the “Bloody Borsetshire Crime Trail”. Honestly, you’d think people would have better things to do.’    

New series: Found on Facebook….

 As a service for readers who aren’t online, we drop in on the Ambridge Facebook group to find out what’s got the community talking…  

Pat Archer Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thanks for all the birthday presents and cards. Little Henry iced my cake beautifully and Helen made delicious tuna rolls – she always did have a way with tuna. And I especially wanted to say thank you to Kirsty Miller for being there for us when Helen was away. She’s almost like a daughter to me and she would have been if of course… anyway, never mind. Thank you Kirsty Miller!

Tom Archer Happy birthday mum! Wasn’t it great to celebrate with the people you love most, especially Kirsty Miller? I won’t say any more because I need to give Kirsty Miller some space…  

Helen Archer Kirsty Miller, U OK hun? I mean, I know you’re pregnant and everything, Tom told me… you don’t mind me knowing, surely? In fact I’m just a teeny little bit upset you didn’t tell me yourself, when I’d splashed out on lunch at Grey Gables. But you didn’t need to dash off… Hang on – why have you unfriended me, Kirsty Miller? What did I do?

Roy Tucker Listen guys, Kirsty just needs to be left alone for a while, OK? I’ve tried to tell her it’s not just about her and the baby any more – there’s me and Tracy Horrobin to think about. I need Kirsty to keep her away from me and she can’t do that if she’s fretting about you lot at Bridge Farm!

Tracy Horrobin  Roy Tucker, did you just tag me in that post you naughty boy? I know you’re playing hard to get but you’ll be back for some more Tracy love once that brainy daughter of yours has gone back to uni. Come to Momma Roy Tucker baby!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

The ‘crisis in the National Health Service’ has been in the headlines this week. All I can say is, from my own experience, the NHS has only itself to blame.
On Monday I had a slight mishap at home. I was trying to reach some Christmas cards that my daughter-in-law, who can be slapdash with the housework, had left up. Just as I was climbing the bookshelf, my granddaughter’s so-called boyfriend burst in on me, claiming to be looking for a laptop (probably wanting to burgle the house). Anyway, he made me lose my balance and I fell awkwardly on one ankle. Of course, I expected him to leave me there on the floor, where I could have been rescued hours later, suffering from mild hypothermia, blaming it all on Toby and insisting to my guilt-ridden family that I was fine. But no, he couldn’t even do that properly. Instead he elevated my leg, packed it with ice, and then drove me to the Minor Injuries Unit at Borchester General.
When we got there, I told the staff all I needed was a paracetamol and a good moan to the family. But they made me have an X-ray and ­– can you believe it – praised Toby for his prompt action. These are medical professionals! Surely they can see he’s feckless, loathsome, and quite frankly the spawn of the devil? If this is the best the NHS can do I’m not surprised the public is rapidly losing faith in it.

Disgustedly yours,
Jill Archer, Brookfield.

What’s on: Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing soon: ‘The Cowman Always Rings Twice’

In this powerful ‘dairy noir’ thriller, a farm manager is driven to desperate measures when a crime he thought was dead and buried comes back to haunt him like flood water bursting out of a blocked culvert. Will he give in to blackmail? Risk losing everything he holds dear? Or lash out like a cornered rat and unmask himself as a true villain? (Likely to contain upsetting but immensely satisfying scenes).