Sunday, 25 June 2017

Freddie’s new job, Jill’s new hobby and Lilian’s old flame… thrills and spills in Ambridge

Brexit? It's alright, said Fred…

Borsetshire fruit farmers needn’t worry about Brexit making it harder to recruit seasonal workers, according to Borchester College student Freddie Pargetter.
‘Fruit picking is a fantastic job and I’m going to tell all my pals to sign up,’ he said. ‘I’ve done it for a whole day now and I’ve already been invited to a drinks party, met a cool girl called Sonja and saw a brilliant punch-up where the lads from Manorfield Close set fire to a chair and this huge guy, Mouse, laid one of them out, though I’m supposed to say that was in self-defence.’
Mr Pargetter, whose mother Elizabeth owns the Lower Loxley estate, said he was ‘perfectly satisfied’ with the working conditions and pay for seasonal workers. ‘In the holidays I’ll be earning £20 a day, which adds up to £200 for a six-day week, which I reckon is pretty good,’ he said. ‘I’d work at Home Farm full-time if I could, but boring old mother says I’ve got to go back to college and resit my maths GCSE.’

… Tom shows Eurocrats the art of the deal

In other Brexit news, a young Ambridge entrepreneur received a surprise call-up from the UK’s negotiating team in Brussels this week. ‘The offer came out of the blue, but apparently a contact of mine called Matt Crawford had recommended me,’ said Tom Archer of Bridge Farm. ‘He’d told his friends in Whitehall what a great negotiator I was, and they called me in.’
Mr Archer has a track record of working with local power brokers like Brian Aldridge and Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital. ‘Justin Elliott offered £1 million for 3.5 acres of our land, but I managed to beat him down to £850,000 all on my own,’ he said. ‘It’s that kind of experience the UK will need when securing a great deal for British farmers.’
Mr Crawford confirmed that he had suggested Mr Archer and wished him well in his new role. ‘I’m sure Tom will help do some great international trade deals for Brits like me, whose business interests are mainly in Costa Rica,’ he said.

Charity accused of ‘bullying’ shoppers

Trading standards officers in Felpersham are investigating Borsetshire Wildlife Trust (BWT) over allegations that staff at a street stall harassed shoppers last Friday. ‘It was awful,’ said one witness. ‘My little boy was quietly eating his takeaway Happy Meal, when this old lady leapt out and accused him of destroying the planet by eating fast food. Poor little Ryan was in floods of tears, and then this little boy – Henry – pinched him and said he was naughty for not liking fresh fruit like aunty Kirsty. We went straight round to the police station. They should be locked up.’
Kirsty Miller, spokesperson for the BWT, said she was sorry if anyone had been offended. ‘We accept our new volunteer, Mrs Jill Archer, was a little over-enthusiastic,’ she said. ‘But she has more than 50 years’ experience of bee-keeping and does feel passionately about it. And of course she is a trained domestic appliance demonstrator, so is no stranger to the hard sell.’

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: When Rex met Anisha

Enjoy this light-hearted romcom starring a well-meaning but ineffectual taxi driver and a feisty, Glaswegian vet, whose unlikely romance takes them from cricket nets to a really awful Chinese restaurant, with plenty of amusing cat-related banter and tales of rugby club pie-eating contests along the way. Will they or won’t they get together? Who cares! 

SUMMER FICTION SPECIAL: The Trials of… Lilian Bellamy

In the latest chapter of our sizzling romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine fears the past will return to ruin her future happiness…

Lilian stepped out of the cool portico of Arkwright Hall into bright sunshine, fanning herself with her souvenir tea towel. She had enjoyed Lewis’s talk about panelling, but all thoughts of carved lambs tongue mouldings with floral spandrels – perfect for the cloakroom at the Dower House – vanished as soon as she saw Lynda Snell. Oh, why did life have to be so difficult? Only a few weeks ago, she was an ecstatically happy bride-to-be. Now, she had been unforgivably rude to Lynda, dear James’s marriage to that tiresome Leonie was in trouble, and – most annoying of all – Matt was still strutting around, grinning as if he’d struck oil in Penny Hassett… ‘Lilian – darling, what’s wrong?’ Justin took her arm in that slightly proprietorial way he had. ‘Come along – you can apologise to Lynda tomorrow. Dinner at Grey Gables?’
‘Oh Justin, that sounds nice. But what if we bump into Matt?’ Suddenly, her fiancé’s eyes took on the steely glare that was feared in boardrooms from Dallas to Dubai. ‘A most unimpressive man. You’re with me now Lilian.’      
‘Of course, darling.’ She stroked his bespoke linen sleeve. But as they walked to the car, Lilian shivered as a sudden chill breeze whipped up the trees, which seemed to whisper: pusscat…


‘How dare he! Cocky young whippersnapper!’ Justin strode about the drawing room, nearly tripping over the books of soft furnishing samples. ‘We had a deal – until they got greedy, these…’ He stopped short, as if suddenly remembering he was talking about Lilian’s family. ‘Sit down, darling – have some Pimm’s!’ Lilian expertly mixed a large glass, topped up with the emergency extra shot of gin she kept in her bra, and handed it to her agitated lover. ‘But who is this other developer who’s offered Tom so much more?’ Justin shook his head, but she knew the answer, even if he didn’t. Only one man would go out of his way to thwart Justin, and use her hapless brother Tony and his family to do it. Excusing herself to fetch more ice, Lilian leant against the kitchen door, her mind racing faster than one of Matt’s nags. Would he never let her go? And – as she bashed ice cubes out of Justin’s amusing bottom-shaped trays – in her heart of hearts, did she want him to?


Lilian sighed happily as she buckled up Amir’s gleaming bridle. The beautiful Arab snorted softly, reminding her of Justin when they… ‘Hello pusscat!’ She span round to face Matt’s dazzling grin. ‘Gorgeous creature,’ he said. ‘And the horse isn’t bad either…’ She ignored his broad wink. ‘Get out of my way, Matt. I’ve nothing to say to you.’ ‘Don’t worry, I’m going. Just here to see Anisha about my multi-million pound bloodstock venture…’ He sauntered off, whistling ‘Big spender’ as Lilian saddled up, her mood ruined…


‘Wha…. Where am I?’ ‘Sssh, Lilian. Don’t move. You’re in shock.’ Matt! What was he doing here? What had happened? Suddenly, like the crack of pain across her head, the memory returned: Matt had appeared again while she was out on her ride, she’d accused him of cheating Tom, he’d infuriated her, she’d galloped off – and now here she was in a ditch, covered in dirt, and Amir… ‘Oh, no!’ She tried to struggle to her feet but Matt gently held her back. ‘Amir’s grazing down the lane. Don’t worry.’ As he bent over, dabbing at her head with his large, checkered handkerchief, she breathed in that familiar, heady scent of cigar and cedar cologne. ‘I thought you were a goner for a minute,’ he said, and suddenly he looked pale beneath his Costa Rican tan. ‘Oh, pusscat, you know there’s still something there…’ He tried to gather her in his arms and, fighting her dizziness, Lilian leapt to her feet. ‘No, there is nothing and there never will be. Leave me alone Matt, just leave me alone!’ And with that she limped off down the lane, wondering what she would say to Justin…  
To be continued   

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.