Sunday, 16 July 2017

Shock overshadows a birthday surprise and a foodie prize – an emotional week in Ambridge

Celebrity chefs ‘anxious’ about Ambridge opening

Miriam and Lulu Duxford have requested bodyguards to protect them when they open the Ambridge fete next month, the Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal.
The celebrity chefs are said to be concerned about possible protests against the opening of their flagship restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses, in Borchester. 
‘We have heard that there are food activists in Ambridge who will do anything to stop Mimi and Lulu,’ said a spokesperson. ‘But the girls are so brave. Nothing will spoil their dream of bringing hand-dived Québecois scallops with haggis foam to the people of Borsetshire.’
Ambridge residents Kirsty Miller and Jill Archer volunteer at the Happy Friends Café, which currently occupies the restaurant site. They said they ‘have no plans’ to organise any protest action at the fete. 
‘The sisters are not welcome in Ambridge, but we are completely opposed to violence,’ said Mrs Archer. ‘Though I would advise them not to wear their fancy designer outfits. It would be such a shame if someone mixed up ‘Dunk the Vicar’ and ‘Dunk the Duxfords’.
But not everyone in Ambridge is opposed to a high-end restaurant taking the place of a pop-up kitchen that relies on food donations.  
‘I know that the Duxford sisters believe in snouts-in-the-trough eating, and so do I,’ said Mr Brian Aldridge. (Surely, nose-to-tail eating? Ed). ‘I’m going to their opening night gala, even if Jill Archer is stretched out on the red carpet and I have to step over her.’  

Bridge Farm stars at Food and Drink Awards

Helen Archer carried off the top prize at the Borsetshire Food & Drink Awards for the second year running, as Bridge Farm’s Borsetshire Blue cheese won the ‘Best Artisan Product’ category.
In a moving speech, Ms Archer said: ‘I thought it was bad enough not being here to collect the award last year, because I was in prison charged with attempted murder.
‘Little did I think that my brother Tom would try to ruin my day this year by banging on about his fermented foods (only joking, Tom!) But this is my award – be quiet, Tom – and I’d just like to thank – I’m warning you, Tom – all the judges and of course our wonderful customers! – Shut UP Tom or I’ll stab you with this ceremonial cheese knife – oops, oh, sorry. Thank you.’

Holiday special: Handy Bulgarian Phrasebook

It’s that time of year again, when Ambridge is overrun with immigrants (surely, welcomes seasonal workers from the EU? Ed.)  Reader Roy Tucker has contacted the Ambridge Observer for tips on how to break the ice and get to know our visitors better – especially Lexi, from near Sofia. We hear you, Roy! Here are some useful phrases:

• Romanian, Bulgarian – they’re the same, aren’t they?

Rumŭnski, bŭlgarski, te sa edni i sŭshti, nali?

• I am not a racist, I just don’t like foreign people.

Az ne sŭm rasist, prosto ne kharesvam chuzhdestrannite khora

• Can I buy you a drink, even though I voted Brexit?

Moga li da vi kupya napitka, vŭpreki che glasuvakh Breksit?

• I would like to take control of your borders.

Bikh iskal da poema kontrola nad vashite granitsi.

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal brain, Auntie Satya is here to sort out all your emotional and practical dilemmas.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My boyfriend wants us to buy a house together, using his savings for the deposit. I said that wasn’t fair because I don’t have any savings, and that when we got divorced it wouldn’t be right if I took half the house. Then he said he wasn’t talking about getting married! Why am I confused? Fallon R.  

Dear Fallon,

In your longer letter you say you are worried that if you got married you would get divorced, like your mother and father. So it seems to me your young man is offering the perfect solution – no marriage! I would snap up his generous offer quicker than you can say ‘starter home’. You can always do extra housework if you feel guilty about not contributing.  

Dear Auntie Satya,

I had a wonderful 70th birthday, sharing a bubble bath with my fiancé, slipping into the silk French lingerie he gave me, and enjoying a small party with my loved ones. Even when my ex gave me a puppy, to try and drive a wedge between us, my fiancé said we should keep her because he has bigger balls and serves all the aces. And now he’s bought us tickets for Hair – you know, the musical where you all dance nude at the end? Is he too good to be true? Lilian B. 

Dear Lilian,

I’m afraid I cannot answer your question because your letter has put pictures in my head of such a nature that I am finding it impossible to concentrate. My apologies.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I was campaigning to get our cricket club captain sacked because he deceived the team over women players being allowed to play. Then my godmother died suddenly, and I started to think this wasn’t important any more so I told him our feud was over. But now I’m worried that I’ve ruined my reputation as a small-minded, misogynistic git. Did I do the right thing? Will G.

Dear Will,


Tributes pour in for ‘much-loved’ Ambridge lady

Ambridge residents were shocked this week to learn of the death of Caroline Sterling, a much-loved member of the community, who had lived in the village for nearly 40 years before moving to Italy with her husband Oliver in 2015.
The funeral will be held in Tuscany, but Ambridge will have the opportunity to commemorate her life at a service being arranged by her close friend, Shula Hebden-Lloyd.
Borsetshire Laureate Bert Fry has composed an ode for the occasion, which the Ambridge Observer is pleased to reproduce here as a tribute.

A poem for Caroline

And so farewell to Caroline Bone,
Or Sterling, as you were to become known.
The village of Ambridge will miss you sorely,
And no one even knew you were poorly.

Though your husband Oliver will mourn you bitterly,
You died in peace, at your home in Italy.
It was where you loved to drink wine and eat peaches,
A place where you both had found your niches.

Your life was always busy and full,
From your first job in Ambridge, at The Bull.
Jack Woolley could see that you were able,
And made you manager of Grey Gables.

You were never one for airs and graces,
Despite your connections in high places.
As Lord Netherborne’s niece, you didn’t fret
When you had to host Princess Margaret.

You were so happy as Oliver’s wife,
But not always lucky in love or life.
You had your passions, I recall,
It would take me too long to name them all.

There was Matthew the doctor, and Robin the vet,
And Cameron Fraser – one to forget,
And even – it’s rumoured –  Mr Brian Aldridge,
But that’s all water under the bridge.

You found true love with first husband Guy,
Though much too soon, Mr Pemberton died.
But never one to mope and moan,
You carried on bravely all alone

Until you met your soulmate Oliver,
And from then on life could not be jollier.
Not blessed with family of your own,
To foster children you opened your home.

And young Will Grundy always knew,
As his godmother, he could rely on you.
Eddie and Joe often tried your patience,
But you were always kind and gracious.

So Caroline, Ambridge loved you dear,
And we all wish you were still here.
And though you lie in foreign parts,
You will always live on in our hearts.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Fete chaos, cricket shocker and a farming mystery: an extraordinary week in Ambridge

Ambridge fete plans in disarray

The summer fete, a highlight of Ambridge life, hangs in the balance this week as it was revealed that no one has spoken to the Revd Alan Franks about ‘Dunk the Vicar’.
‘It ain’t good enough,’ said fete veteran Joe Grundy. ‘The annual ritual humiliation of a clergyman is our birthright. And just let ‘em try to fob us off with a bell ringer. We won’t stand for it.’
But new fete committee chair Fallon Rogers insisted there would be plenty for all the family to enjoy. Attractions already lined up include:

• Egg-sucking contest. Tom Archer takes on Justin Elliott and tries to teach him how to run his business.
• ‘Whack-a-cat’. A fun game featuring Hilda Ogden (Peggy Woolley’s new pussy) and a mallet.
• Coffee tasting challenge. Can YOU tell the difference between filter and instant? For the Jennifer Aldridge Cup.
• Cauliflower cheese* bar. Sponsored by the Happy Friends Café.
• Charity raffle. Help Fallon and Harrison buy their first home! Top prize: an invitation to their house-warming party.

*without cheese, unless more donors come forward.

Burns in fresh cricket controversy

Cricket captain Harrison Burns faced a revolt and vote of no confidence from the team this week as it emerged he had deceived the club over a potential merger with Darrington.
There was uproar during Ambridge’s match against Loxley Barrett on Sunday, when Will Grundy claimed that Mr Burns had ‘made up’ the threat to strengthen his case for admitting women to the Ambridge team.
‘When I asked Darrington’s captain, Chris Mills, he said he didn’t know nothing about no merger and hadn’t sent no message,’ said Mr Grundy. ‘Harrison lied to us at the EGM. And him a police officer too. He has to go!’
Mr Grundy’s claim backs up the Ambridge Observer’s exclusive in March, when our Freedom of Information request failed to produce the email Mr Burns said he had received from Darrington.
Challenged by club grandee Neil Carter, Mr Grundy denied his bid to oust the captain is connected to his opposition to women players.  
‘It’s true, if I were captain I’d have men on the pitch and women in the pavilion, making the teas, like what the Good Book says,’ he said. ‘But that’s got nothing to do with it. This is a matter of principle.’
Mr Burns said he had ‘no comment’ about the allegations. ‘All I have done has been for the good of Ambridge Cricket Club,’ he said. ‘I have strong support among the membership and I am confident the majority will back me. Or else I’ll be having a little look at the police computer and having a few quiet words here and there.’

Home searches are ‘routine’, residents assured

Borsetshire Police has told residents not to be alarmed about house-to-house enquiries that officers are carrying out in local villages.
‘To be honest, we are just helping out our colleague PC Burns in Ambridge,’ said a spokeswoman. ‘He told us his girlfriend was giving him a hard time about not looking for a house to buy, so we’re doing some of the legwork for him – knocking on doors of houses with nice curtains, asking the owners if they’re willing to sell. So far we’ve identified a pretty bungalow in Penny Hassett and a promising maisonette in Edgeley, and recovered a haul of stolen mobiles from an address in Darrington. It’s all part of the service.’

‘Farming strike’ puzzles villagers

Ambridge residents said they were ‘mystified’ this week as all farming activity in the village appeared to stop.
‘It was so strange,’ said one. ‘There were no cows being moved, milked or treated for mastitis; no crops sown, sprayed, harvested or even hovered over with a drone, and no sheep were dipped, drenched or dagged. We did hear that Johnny Phillips was down with the pigs, but we think that’s more to do with his social life.’
David Archer of Brookfield admitted that farming had ‘had to take a back seat’ in recent days. ‘Ruth and I are cooking our own meals, because my mother Jill is too busy working miracles with leftovers at the Happy Friends café,’ he said. ‘There’s just no time for the farm. We’re not too happy about it, I can tell you.’
Ed Grundy of Grange Farm said he was ‘very worried’ by the agricultural lull. ‘If I don’t get some tractor work soon there’ll be no trips to the carvery at the Torn Scrotum in the school holidays,’ he said.

New series: Business Insider

In the first of an occasional series, City finance expert Con R. Tyst opens his case file for Ambridge Observer readers.

‘One of the questions I’m asked most often in business is: “What is a Ponzi scheme”? Well, I always say, it’s something you want to steer clear of – unless you’re running it!
'To set one up, you need a chunk of money (say, cash you’ve stolen from a former partner), and a plausible-sounding investment that not many people understand (say, bloodstock breeding.) If it’s situated thousands of miles away – Costa Rica, for instance – so much the better.
‘You use your money to woo greedy investors and promise them a big investment return – (say, 12.5%). You can afford to pay them this because you haven’t invested their money at all – you’re giving them their own cash back! You can even use it to pay back some debts and make yourself look good – cool, huh?
‘Because your investors think they’re getting a great return, they’ll probably invest more, and invite their pals along too. You might want to host a swanky VIP investors’ reception at a hotel, and get a nice-but-dim aristo to host it. And that’s about it! You keep taking the money and paying some of it out – and by the time your investors start asking questions about where their capital is, you’re long gone (maybe not back to Costa Rica as that’s the first place they’ll look).’
‘So, a Ponzi scheme is really bad news for investors, and strictly against the law of course. But there will always be someone desperate enough to try it on. So remember guys – if it looks too good to be true – it probably is!’



• Item of sensitive personal apparel. Last worn on Loxley Barrett cricket field last Sunday. Brown and bristly. May be mistaken for a lavatory brush or a ferret.  Reward offered for discreet return. Neville Booth, Ambridge.

• Birth certificate. Hoping to surprise my fiancée for her birthday with a diamond for each year of her age (I think it’s 50-something) but she insists her birth certificate has gone missing! If you can help please contact Justin Elliott, Dower House.


• Sense of entitlement. Picked up in Oxford University. Labelled ‘Phoebe Aldridge, Ambridge.’ Keen to reunite it with its owner as we already have more than we can stand.   

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Pig unit news, awards hopefuls and Jill’s helpful recipe … an intriguing week in Ambridge

Stakes are high for Food Awards hopefuls

Three local businesses are celebrating after being shortlisted in this year’s prestigious Borsetshire Food & Drink Awards, sponsored by Damara Capital.
The Bridge Farm Tea Room has been nominated in two categories: Best Use of Local Produce and Best Café.
‘Fallon and I are thrilled to bits,’ said Emma Grundy. ‘Sometimes, late at night in the chicken factory, I dream of winning the award so Ed and I will stand a chance of getting one of them affordable homes that Justin Elliott’s building. If he’s sponsoring the award that’s bound to help, isn’t it?’
Up against Bridge Farm Tea Room for the Best Use of Local Produce award is The Bull in Ambridge, which has also been shortlisted for Dining Pub of the Year.
‘Winning this award would mean a lot to us,’ said landlord Kenton Archer. ‘If we’re packed out every day, my brother David won’t be able to swan in for a free meal whenever he pleases. I’ll be happy if I never have to see him stuffing sourdough into his smirking chops ever again.’
Artisan Cheesemaker of the Year, Helen Archer of Bridge Farm, is shortlisted again and said she is looking forward to defending her title. ‘It will make a change from defending myself against attempted murder charges, as I was this time last year,’ she said. ‘And if my brother Tom thinks he’s going to muscle in on my stall with a display of his stinky sauerkraut he’s got another think coming.’
Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, said he was ‘delighted’ to be sponsoring the awards again. ‘Of course, as a sponsor I am strictly hands-off and have to be scrupulously impartial,’ he said. ‘Any suggestion that Bridge Farm might win because I want my future in-laws to stop hating me will be referred to my lawyers.’

Pig unit gets the nod

Justin Elliott’s plans to build an intensive pig unit at Berrow Farm took a step nearer fruition this week as Ambridge Parish Council made no objection to the application. ‘A number of Councillors, including myself, abstained as they have personal or professional connections with Mr Elliott,’ said Council chairman Neil Carter. ‘And Derek Fletcher had actually nodded off, but when we nudged him he snored so we recorded that as a vote in favour.’
Mr Elliott said he was ‘pleased, but not complacent’ with the verdict. ‘We still have to clear all kinds of environmental and regulatory hurdles, but I am quietly confident,’ he said. ‘We have some strong arguments to put to the District Council. For example, we will be using a lot of leftovers to feed the pigs, so there will be no need for restaurants and supermarkets to send their unsold food to unhygienic little ventures like the Happy Friends Café in Felpersham, which everyone knows would be a much better investment as an estate agent’s.’  

Sports news exclusive: Grundy in ‘secret Paxley talks’

Ambridge stalwart Will Grundy has discussed defecting to rivals Paxley over the issue of women cricketers, the Ambridge Observer can reveal.  Our source Rex Fairbrother, who prefers to remain anonymous, said: ‘I had that vice-captain of Paxley in the back of my cab last week, and he said he and Will had talked about it over a beer. But he thought Will wouldn’t fit in too well with the Paxley team. They’re all fully in touch with their feminine sides and some of them are vegans.’
Mr Grundy told our reporter he had no comment to make on the story. ‘I never   said anything about women cricketers,’ he said. ‘All I said was, cricketers who aren’t men should never be allowed to play for Ambridge. That’s quite different.’

Recipe of the week: Honey flapjacks

Thank you to Jill Archer and Kirsty Miller for sending us this recipe, which is proving very popular with volunteers and customers at the Happy Friends pop-up café in Felpersham. ‘It’s food for everyone, so you just pay what you can afford,’ said Ms Miller. ‘We got an average of 0.5p each for these, which was great. But the café is under threat from evil developers (probably Justin Elliott) who want to turn it into an estate agent’s or a phone shop or something really evil. Anyway, if your readers wanted to make these and have a bake-sale to raise funds to save the café, that would be wonderful.  Jonah, who runs it and is so good with the homeless, would really appreciate it.’ 

1 kg of stale breadcrumbs
instead of oats; it makes them soggy but it’s wicked to waste bread when so many people are starving
100g fresh honey 
did you know that if we don’t do more to save honey bees, the entire planet will self-destruct?
250g sultanas
Christine Barford donated these; she was going to put them in scones so they would have been thrown away anyway
250g butter
 a product of the evil agro-industrial axis that is ruining habitats worldwide, but OK if past its sell-by date
250g tinned pineapple
not ideal, but when you’re relying on donations you have to improvise

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and keep stirring with a big wooden spoon until you’ve got a thick, stodgy mixture. Pour into a tin, cook until half-baked, and ladle on some syrup.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

I just wanted to say that despite what you might have read in the Borchester Echo, me and Eddie are not running ‘the premier staycation destination in Borsetshire’ at Grange Farm.  We don’t offer Eggs Benedict three ways or a real alternative to old-fashioned B & B places or anything like that.  We do sometimes  have people to stay (but not in the summer holidays because of upsetting George and little Keira) but we don’t have a constant stream of paying guests and Eddie never meant to say we did. It was that reporter Min got him all confused. Anyway, the thing is, if Oliver and Caroline find out we’re running their home as a guest house they might not like it, so could you put the record straight please?

Yours sincerely,

Clarrie Grundy.

PS Has anyone got a recipe for Eggs Benedict three ways?

With pleasure Mrs Grundy! Always happy to expose the shoddy reporting of our second-rate Borchester rival. Ed.