Sunday, 5 March 2017

A party at Home Farm, a parting at Bridge Farm and a near miss for Lily: it’s all go in Ambridge

Stores floored by rush for rough puff

Supermarkets and bakeries across Borsetshire sent out for extra supplies of ready-made pastry this week following a ‘massive spike’ in demand.
Shoppers were rationed to one packet of shortcrust per person where stocks were available. Some stores sold out altogether and had to apologise to disappointed customers.
‘We’ve not seen anything like it since Delia went big on cranberries,’ said a spokesperson for Underwoods food hall.
Retailers blamed the shortage on huge orders from Ambridge-based caterers who were cooking for a large party. ‘They’d got pastry in every single dish,’ said one who preferred not to be named. ‘Quiches, savoury puffs, rabbit pie, leek and mushroom pie, cream horns and apple tarts – let’s just say I feel sorry for any guests with a gluten intolerance.’
Contacted for comment, Fallon Rogers of the Ambridge Tea Service said she was sorry if shoppers were inconvenienced but defended her menu. ‘It wasn’t all pastry – we had shepherd’s pie in ramekins,’ she said. ‘Our client Mrs Aldridge was very pleased with our theme. And so what if we didn’t make our own pastry? It was all beautifully cooked – no soggy bottoms at Home Farm!’

Mayor cancels public engagements

The Mayor of Felpersham has cleared her diary this week after being taken ill at a private party last Friday. Rachel Pilkington was a guest of Brian and Jennifer Aldridge at Home Farm, Ambridge, when she apparently had a strong reaction to a sprig of rosemary sticking out of a shepherd’s pie. ‘The Mayor does have some unusual allergies, which often manifest themselves at the end of a convivial evening,’ her press officer said. 
Mrs Pilkington was expected at several civic occasions this week, including the opening of a new wing at Sunny Meadows Care Home. ‘I hope they don’t cancel the tea, but I won’t mind if the Mayor doesn’t come,’ said resident Mrs Edna Sparrow, 92. ‘Last time she was here she drank all my gin.’

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is here to solve your emotional and practical dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

I’m learning to drive and unfortunately last week when I was out with Uncle David I forgot to brake and nearly ran over our neighbour Mrs Snell. She was so furious I was too scared to get out of the car and apologise. But afterwards I sent her a bowl of narcissi with a hand-written card. Did I do the right thing? Lily, Lower Loxley.

Dear Lily,

That was a thoughtful gift and I am sure Mrs Snell will accept your apology. But please pay closer attention to your driving. Police officers, traffic wardens and HGV drivers cannot easily be won over with flowers and a note – although you do have lovely handwriting. That’s the Cathedral School for you.  

Dear Auntie Satya,

A family in our village has started taking in paying guests. I run a 5-star bed-and-breakfast with feng shui in every room, so it is galling to see them poaching our customers. I am tempted to inform their landlord, who is a friend, but I wouldn’t like to see them evicted. What do you advise? Lynda, Ambridge Hall.

Dear Lynda,

Beware: such drastic action may backfire on you and no one likes a sneak. Instead, why not post an anonymous review of your rivals’ offering? Highlight the quirkier aspects, such as ferrets in the kitchen, a pigsty in the back yard, or an elderly gentleman paring his corns at the breakfast table. I’m sure you will soon have guests flocking gratefully to your Egyptian cotton sheets and home-made quince preserve. Good luck!

Dear Auntie Satya,

A man I met recently is doing odd jobs to make ends meet. He has cut my hedge and driven me in his taxi, but refused to accept a tip. Now he is trying to teach me to play cricket. I am pretending to be a duffer, because I quite fancy him, but my Uncle Ravi used to call me ‘Miss Muralitharan’ because I was so lethal with the off-spin. Should I tell him the truth? Anisha, Ambridge.  

Dear Anisha,

On no account. You have already hurt this young man’s pride by offering him money. Undermining his cricket skills at this stage would cut him to the quick and your hopes of romance would be over. Wait until the team is losing to Darrington, then take six cheap wickets to secure the win. In the ensuing euphoria, he will forget your little deception.

The Trials of Tom Archer

In the latest chapter of our romantic Spring saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero fears he will never know happiness again…

Tom wrestled with the sacks of potatoes. They were heavy, but not as heavy as his heart. ‘Come on son, I’ll do that!’ Tony tapped him on the shoulder. ‘You’ve got to start packing! Henry’s made you some brownies for the plane!’
Tom sighed. ‘Oh, dad, how can I go to the Nuffield Scholarship inter-disciplinary farming conference in Brasilia with my friend from Dumfries? I’m needed here!’
Tony shook his head. ‘Don’t feel guilty about leaving the farm, son. You’ve done it before, remember, when you jilted Kirsty? Oh – I’m sorry. What an old fool I am.’
Tom winced in pain, but his father was right. He’d already hurt Kirsty enough. Better for her if he was thousands of miles away. Yet when he texted her in the small hours, when neither of them could sleep, to tell her about Maurice the butcher’s latest merry quip, and she replied with a smiley face, he felt… ‘OK dad,’ he said. ‘Just give me a minute…’


‘So you see, Ruth, that door is firmly closed. I’m not going to Brazil. I just wanted to ask you about the chap who grows Red Russian kale in Darrington.’
Ruth looked up at him, her eyes soft with concern as she tube-fed three tiny lambs with one hand and wielded the disinfectant spray with the other. ‘But you know Tom, you’ll feel better if you get on with everyday jobs,’ she said. ‘Keep yourself busy, like. That’s what worked for me and David. You never get over it, mind.’ She bent her head to the lambs and wiped her eyes on her overalls sleeve.
‘But Ruth – how can I go and talk about organic baby food as if nothing’s happened? I was going to be a dad – now I’m not!’
‘Aye, I know. It’s not easy. But mebbe you could come up with another topic. What about Red Russian kale?’ Ruth grinned at him and he couldn’t help smiling back. ‘Come on, Tom. Is it really too late to change your mind?’


‘Damn! I just sat on the brownies.’ Tom salvaged a soggy package from the car seat. ‘Never mind. I won’t tell Henry,’ Helen said. ‘By the time you get back from Brazil, he’ll have forgotten. Look, we’re nearly there.’ The bright lights of the airport lay before them. Tom was suddenly seized with doubt. ‘Helen – are you sure I’m doing the right thing? Shouldn’t I be in Ambridge, in case Kirsty needs me?’
‘Tom, we’ve been through this,’ said Helen. ‘You know Kirsty said she’d only feel worse if she felt she’d kept you from your farming dream! And you’re doing this for me too, remember? The organic baby food would have been my project, if I hadn’t been in prison!’
‘Yes, of course. Although it might be Red Russian kale now. That’s OK, isn’t it?’
‘It’s all fine, Tom. Now come on. Time to check in. Isn’t that your friend from Dumfries?’
It was. Tom waved at Murdo. No turning back now. But still the thought of Kirsty, and what might have been, tormented him. ‘Helen! I can’t…’ he cried. But his sister had already gone….
To be continued…


  1. Wonderful as always! Thanks, Christine. Love the press officer's remarks - and Mrs Sparrow's!

    1. Poor Mrs Sparrow - she still hasn't got over it. Thank you!!

  2. Made me literally laugh out loud. Looking forward to the cricket season now.

    1. Well that's good to hear Lesley. Let's hope the ladies steer Ambridge back to winning ways!