Fraud ‘rife’ at the Flower & Produce, judges claim
The skulduggery threat level at this year’s Ambridge Flower & Produce Show has been raised to critical as judges warned that cheating to win the top prizes is extremely likely.
‘We have been monitoring various suspect gardeners, including one who appears to be feigning terminal illness in order to make fellow competitors feel sorry for him,’ said the head judge at a briefing held at a secret location. ‘We have also intercepted conversations between Ambridge veterans about setting up a cartel, to raise their chances of winning certain categories. The competitions for marrows, onions and parsnips are most likely to be targeted and novice entrants are advised to avoid these.’
In other F & P news, the theme for the home-baked desserts category has been changed. ‘Chef Ian Craig will now be awarding a special prize for the cake that looks most like a baby,’ the judges said.
New series: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet
Alistair Lloyd, much-loved local vet (are you sure? Ed) shares some heart-warming tails (oh, dear Lord. Ed) from his casebook:
Peggy Woolley’s cat Hilda Ogden is a charming little thing, as long as you approach her wearing oven gloves and a fencing mask. But she does have a naughty habit of chasing and killing everything smaller than her. We found this out the hard way when she came for her vaccinations. Oops! But we replaced the hamster, Java finches and fancy rat soon enough; the owners never noticed.
Fortunately, a wily old vet like me has just the solution for cats like Hilda: euthanasia. (Surely: a cute collar with a bell? The Ladies’ Circle won’t stand for this! Ed.)
Coffee break with: Ian Craig
In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the popular head chef at Grey Gables.
Q So, Ian – your food has been getting some great reviews lately. You must be delighted?
A Oh sure, right enough, but it’s a team effort. Did I tell you Adam and I are thinking of adopting a child? We went to an information event about it. It’s supposed to be a secret, mind, but I’m so excited I can’t help telling everyone!
Q That’s great news! And you must be relieved that Oliver Sterling isn’t selling Grey Gables. What are you planning for your Christmas menus?
A Yes, Oliver’s a great bloke. Did you know he and Caroline were foster parents? He said it was really rewarding looking after teenagers, but I’m not so sure, d’you know what I mean? Maybe babies are easier. Mind you, Lilian Bellamy said she couldn’t get a nanny quick enough. And me and Adam would be hands-on parents, so we would.
Q We hear Grey Gables will be hosting the South Borsetshire Hunt Ball this year. Have you got any top tips for cooking game?
A To be honest, I ask my mother-in-law Jennifer. There’s nothing she can’t do with a pheasant. And she took in Brian’s child, young Ruairi, when he was four, you know. The wee boy’s a credit to her now, so he is, but she said it was a really difficult time, and took ages for them to bond…
Q You’re well known for your use of local ingredients. What’s your current favourite?
A I’m a big fan of Borsetshire Blue – and not just because my friend Helen Archer makes it! She knows me so well. She was turning cheeses the other day and she just came out with it. ‘Try surrogacy, Ian!’ she said. ‘You know it’s what you want.’ And you know what? She’s right, so she is. But Adam and I would need to find the right surrogate. I don’t suppose you… (Coffee break over. Ed).
Borsetshire Rural Cinema
Showing this week: special comedy double bill!
Carry On Up The Campsite. It’s fun and games at the end of the fruit-picking season in this classic British farce of caravan-cleaning capers. Matron bursts in on Roy and Lexi – and she doesn’t know where to put her bin bags! Starring Barbara Windsor as Bulgarian bombshell ‘Sexy’ Lexi Bustikova, Jim Dale as Roy Tucker and Jennifer Aldridge as Matron.
The Wrong Trousers. Mild-mannered hotel manager Roy finds himself transformed into an irresistible Bulgarian love god when he is forced to put on Constantin’s jeans after an unlikely accident with a hosepipe. How much havoc will he wreak among the Ambridge womenfolk before he is able to get back into his comfy chinos?