Shock as Elliott bails out of Berrow Farm
There was no New Year cheer for workers at Berrow Farm as its owners confirmed that the mega-dairy, which was hit by a botulism outbreak earlier this year, is to close with the loss of all jobs.
Justin Elliott, chairman of Borchester Land’s holding company, Damara Capital, said: ‘These are always difficult decisions, but the climate was just too challenging. I could cope with the Parish Council rejecting my offer to fund the new village hall, and even turned the other cheek when the vicar sent my Christmas hamper back.
‘But stumbling on Lynda Snell in the altogether at the Calendar Girls photo-shoot was the last straw. I haven’t been able to look at an udder since. The cows have to go.’
The Trials of Ruth Archer
Award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater gets the New Year off to an emotional start with the latest chapter of her saga, in which our heroine must share life-changing news with her loved ones…
Ruth Archer made a final note in her ‘Bilbo Baggins’ scrapbook and hugged it to her new All Blacks sweatshirt.
This flight was exhausting, but the journey she had taken in her mind was so much longer. What was it the Maori elder had told her on her pilgrimage to Tongariro? ‘I see cows in your eyes, my child. They are your future.’. Descending through the night towards home, she wondered if her revelation on the sacred mountain would lead to happiness, or tear her family apart…
‘So you see, it’s like this!’ Despite her jet-lag, Ruth’s eyes shone with passion as she surveyed her family: David, his face red with the effort of holding in his gently swelling paunch; Pip, writing ‘M’ in spilt sugar on the kitchen table, and Jill, carving a rib of beef with one hand and stirring a pudding with the other. How she loved them all!
‘What I’m saying is, we need to stay in milk, but do it differently!’ she urged. ‘Sell the herd, buy some new cows that cost less to run – crossbreds, Norwegian Reds with Jerseys…’
‘Oh, I’m not sure I could knit jerseys for them all at my age dear,’ said Jill. ‘Maybe the WI could help.’
‘Hmm; I’ll have to see what Matthew says,’ said Pip dreamily. But David’s face was mottled now with rage. ‘Sell the herd! How could you! That was MY idea!’ Turning on his heel, he stomped out of the kitchen.
Heartbroken, Ruth stroked the bronze sculpture of the cow and calf, still half wrapped, that David had given her for their anniversary. Would it be a symbol of new beginnings – or a memorial to their marriage?
‘I thought I’d find you here.’ David was leaning on a fence post, kicking its base like a sulky little boy as Ruth gently approached. ‘I know it’s a lot to take in, what with my having big ideas for the business and that and just springing them on you.’
‘Yes,’ David said grudgingly. ‘I’d never do that to you Ruth.’
‘I know pet,’ Ruth smiled knowingly to herself. ‘But spending time with all those lean, bronzed sheep shearers with six packs in New Zealand just made me realised how much it’s you I really want. Although a bit less of your mum’s fruit cake wouldn’t go amiss!’
Playfully, she poked him in the belly and he grunted like Ellie his favourite cow, who was guzzling silage, oblivious of the huge changes that were about to happen at Brookfield Farm. ‘Dan and Doris; Phil and Jill; you and me – we’re in this together!’ said Ruth, her eyes brimming with happy tears. ‘Thank God! It’s been hell without you,’ beamed her husband. ‘I still need a bit of help with my arm. And you won't believe what Toby Fairbrother wrote on my plaster!’
Calendar Girls hailed as a ‘triumph’
Despite rumours of a ‘disastrous’ dress rehearsal, local impresario Lynda Snell described her production of Calendar Girls at Lower Loxley as a ‘triumph’. ‘Our ladies were outstanding, especially when the heater failed,’ she said. ‘The company gave their all and the audience got everything they came for, and more.’
‘It was certainly a lively introduction to Ambridge,’ said Dr Richard Locke, who attended every show. ‘Elizabeth Pargetter as Annie was a real hottie... I mean, she gave a poignant and moving performance.’
However, a spokesperson for Jean Harvey, who played Jessie, said she was considering legal action over the alleged sabotage of a vital prop. ‘Someone unravelled my client’s knitting, leaving her without the wherewithal to give a dignified performance,’ she said. ‘Compensation is due.’
• See our Arts Special for Tristram Hawkshaw’s review of Calendar Girls!
My Week, by Helen Titchener
Ambridge cheese maker, retailer and mum-to-be Helen Titchener shares the highlights of her busy festive season.
I had a rotten cold before Christmas so my husband Rob brought me breakfast in bed: he spoils me! Our son Henry had already opened his presents, which was thoughtful of Rob as he knew I’d over-tired myself wrapping them. But he and Henry showed me a selfie, which was lovely.
Rob gave me a beautiful necklace – I don’t know how much it cost, as he looks after all the finances now. And a new dress, but I’ve ‘bloomed’ so much it didn’t fit – so upsetting.
Note to self: lay off the mince pies!
Tuesday December 29
We had our 20-week scan today. Rob was super-excited to see the baby’s fingers and toes! ‘You’ve done all this before Helen, but not properly,’ he said. ‘This is MY son.’ So sweet! Rob’s already had lots of ideas for names: he likes Dominic and Julian. For some reason I don’t really want to think about it yet. But I did try and contact my friend Ian about being a godparent. We had a silly misunderstanding at his wedding but I’m sure we’ll make it up soon! I feel lonely sometimes (oh, don’t put that in; Rob won’t like it).
Wednesday December 30
Such a silly thing happened at Bridge Farm shop today! It seems I repeated the pre-Christmas fruit order, so we’re completely awash with oranges and bananas. It was odd, because I’m sure I remember taking extra care, but Rob said not to worry, it was just my hormones, or my cold, or something. He’s right; I’ve been feeling really sluggish lately, so I decided not to have any supper. I’m sure a lot of busy mums-to-be feel the same!
Thursday December 31
Rob is such a modern husband: he’s persuaded me that we should job-share at the shop, so I have more energy for him, the new baby, and Henry. Isn’t that lovely? It means I get to relax at home (how did I get through the day without Homes Under The Hammer?!) and of course I’m not driving because I can’t be trusted on the road. But Rob’s fine with me phoning people up, as long as I tell him first, and if I want to go out, I just have to make an appointment! I simply couldn’t manage without him. I’m so lucky. (Editor, you will make sure you leave this bit in, won’t you? Thanks, Helen.)