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The Strange Affair at Ambridge Towers29 July 2010
We hope you enjoyed the murder mystery which was the centrepiece of this year's Ambridge fête. If you'd like to unravel the threads yourself, here is a synopsis of the story and clues.
Life is going on as normal at Ambridge Towers. Ralph Fairbrother and his wife Letty are living a privileged and wealthy life.
At first on the fateful day, all seems normal. Tom Gabriel has gone to clip the church hedge. Letty is performing her various household duties in tandem with the maid Norah Larkin. Letty's mother Doris is attending to good works.
Then Ralph is discovered dead by his wife Letty, lying outside Ambridge Towers with a blow to the head. His broken pocket watch shows the moment of death to be 2pm. A heavy bronze doorstop lies beside him - obviously the murder weapon.
The trusty policeman
PC Dick Barton rushes to the scene, and tells his assistant detectives (the fête visitors) that they need to do some interviews. Making sure they know how and where Ralph has died, and that Dick had a puncture from the already clipped hedge on the way to the station at 1.45, he sends them off to interview Tom Gabriel.
The ancient retainer
Tom tells of his grief that Ralph has died when they were at such odds with each other, Tom having just been dismissed after 50 years service. He says that he could not have done the murder as he was cutting the church hedge at the time, leaving the scene as the church clock struck two. Tom also leaps to the defence of Doris Perkins. He tells our punters that at 2pm he'd seen her replanting hanging baskets on the village green. He reckons they should interview that mysterious foreign woman who's been hanging around recently.
The exotic stranger
In between coughs, Simone Tregorran says she rode past Tom Gabriel cutting the hedge at 2pm. She remembers the time because the church clock striking made her horse shy. So this gives Tom an alibi - unless they are working in tandem...
The charitable mother-in-law
Doris is discovered counting money - a collection for the repair of the church clock, which has been running fifteen minutes fast for some weeks (thus ruining Tom and Simone's alilbis). She is quick to tell our detectives that she is sure Simone Tregorran means trouble. She arrived at the house that morning and had unsuccessfully asked to see Ralph. The maid had spoken to her.
The mysterious maid
The maid, Norah Larkin, reveals that she is fact a detective in disguise, employed by Ralph who feared his life was in danger. And she has shock news of another tragedy. Poor Simone has just died, of natural causes. She displays the contents of Simone's pockets, which includes a heartrending letter protesting undying love for Ralph and some pills for a heart condition. Simone was an innocent former lover, who, knowing her own end was near, wanted to see her beloved Ralph one last time. Does this now place Tom firmly in the frame?
The grieving widow
The final suspect is Ralph's widow, Letty. Unaware that Tom Gabriel has already apparently given Doris an alibi for the time of death, she says that she and Doris crossed on the stairs just before 2pm. While on her way down with some laundry, her mother was on her way up. She remembers because they stopped to straighten the picture of Letty in her school rounders team. She had been a crack shot, with wonderful aim. When told that this contradicts Tom's sighting of Doris on the green, Letty reveals that Tom has been desperately in love with Doris for years.
Tom lied about seeing Doris in the hope of protecting her. Fearing that Ralph was about to abandon her daughter and run away with his old flame Simone, Doris had carried the doorstop upstairs and dropped it on Ralph's head, with lethal consequences.
Open Farm Sunday - Brookfield Farm3 June 2010
You might be aware of the Open Farm Sunday scheme, in which farms all over the country open their gates to the public. I'm pleased to say that once again David and Ruth Archer are taking part, and will be opening Brookfield Farm here in Ambridge on Sunday 13 June.
Brookfield is a mixed farm, with dairy and beef cattle, sheep and arable, so there'll be plenty to see.
Full details are being finalised, but activities will include:
Brookfield is on the Felpersham road out of the village. Turn left into the yard after the bridge over the river.
11am - 5pm
Ample parking available
Harry's blog - The Single Wicket Competition explained20 May 2010
We thought we'd republish this recent post from the Grange Farm Dairy blog, by local milkman Harry Mason, as very usefully it gives the rules of the Single Wicket competition which, despite being an annual event, has puzzled many of us for years!
You might have heard that I'm entering the Single Wicket competition which is happening in Ambridge on the Bank Holiday Monday. I'll be living in Ambridge at the time - ok, temporarily, but Alistair who's organising it says that's all right, so I'll be staying at The Bull for a short while. Because it's only open to Ambridge residents, you see.
Some of my customers have been kind enough to say they'll sponsor me, which is great - although it does put the pressure on me to get as far as I can in the competition, obviously. But one thing I've learned through my martial arts training is how to remain calm under pressure, so hopefully I should be all right.
Anyway, you've probably never heard of a Single Wicket competition and I must admit I thought it probably meant like one set of stumps or something but that's not it at all. So I thought I'd use todays' blog post to explain how it works.
It's a knockout competition and you play in pairs against each other. So you start with 16 players and lets say I'm drawn against Jazzer in the first round (except Jazzer isn't playing, but never mind). So I bowl six balls to Jazzer and he scores what he can off them. Then we swap round and he bowls to me. And whoever gets the most runs goes on to the next round.
When we've had our go, another pair come into bat and bowl and Jazzer and me join the other fielders. Obviously if you've got 16 players, you've got a few spare because you only have 10 fielders including the wicket keeper, just like in a normal game of cricket, so the others can umpire or keep score or pad up or something.
Like I said, its a knockout, so by the end of the first round you've got 8 players and so on until you get to the 2 in the final. Hope I'm one of them!
Everyone says it's a nice way to spend the afternoon and they make it like Twenty20 matches with music and commentary so its quite fun and entertaining. And it's in memory of Alistair's wife's first husband. She's Shula. You might know the riding stables at Ambridge? Well she runs that and the prize is the Mark Hebden trophy I think.
So if you want to sponsor me just email me at the dairy or leave a note out and maybe I'll see you on the day!
Your Friendly Milkman
Join us at Lower Loxley for a magical, traditional Christmas.10 December 2009
Sunday 20th to Thursday 24th December
Follow our spectacular indoor and outdoor trails.
Beautiful fairy grotto.
Traditional Christmas crib with real animals!
Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol; living history in the Hall, with footmen and scullery maids galore; learn about Victorian seasonal fayre from Cook in our kitchens; make your own kissing bough - a traditional Christmas decoration - in our cruck barn; live carol singing from Darrington Choral society
And, of course, Father Christmas will be on hand in the nursery to hear those present pleas from all good girls and boys.
Family tickets available
Ask about our group packages
Lower Loxley Hall
Follow signs from the A1992 Borchester bypass
Lynda Snell - Warhol style24 September 2009
Robert Snell's winning photograph in the Digitally Enhanced category of this year's Flower and Produce Show pictures Mrs Snell as never seen before!
My clever stepdaughter!5 August 2009
The students threw their mortar boards
into the air after the ceremony
Vicky Tucker of Willow Cottage, a recent arrival in Ambridge, writes about the graduation on 31 July of her stepdaughter Brenda Tucker.
It's not every day you get to wear a hat, is it ladies? Weddings and Christenings mainly - and one year when I went with the girls on a coach to Royal Ascot, which was lovely, I can really recommend it for a great day out. But I knew that when my lovely new stepdaughter Brenda was going to get her graduation scroll at a big ceremony in Felpersham Civic Hall I thought, Vicky, this is the chance of a lifetime.
So I found a gorgeous ivory wide-brimmed number, with a deep emerald band and beautifully trimmed with a plume of ostrich feathers in Melissa's in Felpersham. Quite pricey, but well, like I said it was the chance of a lifetime and anyway it would be perfect for any really posh do's in the future, like maybe going on a cruise or something like that (hint, hint, Mike!).
I went for that one because the band went perfect with my emerald satin dress, sort of wrap-over with a deep neckline and finishing just above the knee. With my ivory jacket and strappy heels, I felt a million dollars I can tell you and Mike looked nice in his suit too.
The Hall was absolutely packed full to the rafters! I won't tell you the trouble we had to get me a ticket, but I was so proud to be sitting there I wouldn't have missed it for the World. Mike thought Brenda looked a bit solemn but I said she was very dignified, very appropriate for someone with letters after their name which is more that I can say I've got although I did do my dental nurse exams but that was years ago (won't say how many!) and I wouldn't like to do an exam now I can tell you.
So after the ceremony they all threw their hats in the air and then we went for Drinks and Nibbles on the lawn in the front of the University Arts Centre and that was a lovely buffet and I met the Dean and his wife who were both really lovely and friendly people, and I told her it was a lovely buffet and she seemed pleased.
And so now I've got two stepchildren who are Graduates with Degrees and you couldn't want for two lovelier stepkids you really couldn't although I don't want to be a Mum to them really, more like a sister and a friend. I'm so lucky to have found such a good man like Mike and I can't tell you the warm feeling it gives me to be part of the Tucker family.
Our very own plinth!18 June 2009
Parish councillor Lynda Snell writes:
Well, I'm sure you are as disappointed as I am that Jill Archer - Ambridge's official entrant to Anthony Gormley's One & Other project - has been unsuccessful in the first draw for places. We had hoped that she would he in the initial tranche of participants who would have an hour expressing themselves on the erstwhile empty "fourth plinth" in Trafalgar Square.
However, London's potential loss (potential in that there are still two more draws, into which Jill will be automatically entered - best of luck Jill!) is Ambridge's gain, because it has generated a wonderful new idea. I have managed to persuade the fete committee that we will have our very own plinth at the Ambridge fete, which as I'm sure you know will take place on Sunday 12 July.
The Ambridge plinth may not be quite as monumental as Mr Gormley's - which you may consider to be a benefit, particularly if like me you are a touch acrophobic. But it is far more accessible. For a modest donation, participants are invited to take their place - for fifteen minutes at a time - as the centrepiece of the event.
Any legal and decent activity will be welcomed, although it is my personal hope that we may again inspire those who wish to represent our rural milieu in its infinite variety. And there will be a prize for the participant who, in the opinion of the judges, provides the best contribution.
So get those thinking caps on and don't be slow in booking your place! Please contact me at Ambridge Hall, or on reception at Grey Gables Hotel.
From The Borchester Echo26 March 2009
A Gloucester Old Spot boar, like Harry
Desperately seeking Perky
Boar on garden rampage
Am Vale dwellers are being terrorised by a night-time prowler, in the shape of a 600 lb Gloucester Old Spot boar.
Local resident Mrs Noakes woke this Tuesday to discover that her much loved garden, in Borchester Land's prestigious Grange Spinney development, had been destroyed. She blames an animal that has been missing for over a week from the free range herd at nearby Home Farm, which supplies Tom Archer pork and sausages.
This not-so-little piggy, understood to be called "Harry", shouldered its way into the once-picturesque joint and made a complete pig of himself. If caught, Harry would have been for the chop, but he saved his bacon by legging it into the night before you could say "apple sauce".
The distraught householder trotted down to find holes in her garden and devastation to her herbaceous border. But Mrs Noakes does not intend to put herself into hock to repair the damage . "I have already spoken to Mr Archer and indicated that I expect full reparation", she squealed.
However, Harry's owner clearly does not want to hog the limelight; Mr Archer was unavailable for comment. Do you think the swineherd?
Picture: Gloucester Old Spot Pig Breeders Club
Are you Ambridge's plinth champion?12 March 2009
Parish councillor Lynda Snell writes:
I'm sure you were as excited as I was to hear about Anthony Gormley's pioneering new artwork. Already famous for the Angel of the North, and indeed Birmingham's own Iron Man, his next project, entitled One & Other, will utilise the erstwhile empty "fourth plinth" in London's bustling Trafalgar Square.
This living artwork will run for a hundred days from 6 July to 14 October, and will involve 2,400 people, chosen by ballot from all over the UK, who will stand on the plinth for an hour each. What will they do there? Anything legal. What can they take? Anything they can carry. What does it all mean? A very good question.
It takes true visionaries such as Mr Gormley and - dare I say it - myself, to see potential where others do not. While he has identified the opportunity for the whole country to be represented on the few square feet of this virgin stone, I see a chance for Ambridge to say to the rest of Britain - nay, thanks to the webcam broadcasting the whole event, to the world - "here we are - and this is what we are".
I have agreed with Mr Fletcher, chair of the parish council, that Ambridge should put forward its own representative into the ballot. Someone whose plinth performance will be the personification of all that is Ambridge - and, by extension, rural England itself.
So I call upon you to don your thinking caps and gird your loins. Could you demonstrate a rural craft? Do you perform poetry or music that speaks of our bucolic backwater? Can you bring the essence of the country into the heart of the city?
Auditions will be held in the Village Hall from 6pm on Maundy Thursday, which is (as I'm sure you know) 9 April.
Please contact me at Ambridge Hall (or on reception at Grey Gables Hotel) to discuss the event, or to book your place.
Ready steady pancake!12 February 2009
Jaxx Caff in Borchester is staying open late for pancake day. Choose your own fillings - in any combination!
Jill Archer's marmalade22 January 2009
As those bitter Seville oranges are plentiful at the moment, Jill Archer has kindly offered this smashing recipe.
(Makes about 12 jars)
12 Seville oranges
4 sweet oranges
4lbs sugar (sorry, I don't do metric)
The juice of 4 lemons
Scrub the oranges and peel them.
Take the pips out and put them in a little muslin bag (because they have the pectin in).
Cut the peel into fine slivers (on no account use a food processor).
Leave to soak overnight to soften the peel.
The next day, put the orange flesh and peel, the bag with pips and the lemon juice into a large jam kettle (preserving pan). Cover with water and bring to the boil.
Boil until the liquid is reduced to half the amount. This can take two hours or so - the kitchen will get very steamy, so it might be time to do some cleaning elsewhere in the house.
Test the mixture to see that the peel is soft enough, and then add the sugar - not all at once, in two lots. Keep stirring until the sugar is melted, then let it come to a good boil until it's ready to set.
Test for setting by putting a blob on a cold saucer and seeing if starts to set. If it does, it's ready. You don't need any silly equipment like thermometers and so on.
Fish out the pip-bag and leave the mixture for ten minutes, so it's thick enough to let the peel stand - otherwise the peel will all drop to the bottom of the jar, and that won't get you a Highly Commended at the Flower and Produce Show, let alone a first place.
Give the mixture a stir.
Taking care, because it's very hot, pour the marmalade into your jars. You did sterilise your jars, didn't you?
Pop a wax disc on the top of each one, then seal and label.
Give to family and friends. If you run out, you can always make some more!
Swap your decs!20 November 2008
Are you fed up with bringing out the same old decorations every December?
Do you want a change this Christmas?
Then bring your decorations to our swap event and exchange them!
All decorations welcome - tinsel, beads, baubles, tree decorations, chains, Santas etc but must be in good condition.
Electrical goods, including Indoor and outdoor lights, must be in working order.
Wednesday 26 November
St Stephen's Church
(by kind permission of the Rev Alan Franks, who will officially open the proceedings)
We will provide trestle tables. Please lay out your decorations by 5.00pm
Viewing of decorations 5.00 - 5.30pm
Open house for swapping from 5.30
Organised by the Ambridge Swap Club - see Mrs Susan Carter at the Village Shop for more details.
Ambridge - a transition community
Grundy Ghost Walk23 October 2008
Join the famous Grundy Ghost Walk
This Halloween, discover some of the supernatral tales of Ambridge - on the Grundy Ghost Walk, back by poplar demand.
You're blood will chill as we revel to you gruesome historys of the unquiet sprits that wander our streets and fields - on the actual real locations where they happened.
Here stories such as like -
John Brian and the Squire - a tale of jealousy and revenge
The Tragedy of Tragic Florrie Hoskins
And from the Civil War (Roundheads and Cavalires) -
The Little Drummer Boy
And ambush and murder most fowl in The Tale Of The Screaming Scull!!
Meet 6pm at The Bull, Friday 31 October
Tickets £10 to include holesome home-made refreshments and a glass of Grundy's Celebrated Cider.
Fun for all the family!
Not suitable for persons of a nervous disposition, or if you have heart problems and that. You Have Been Warned
Open Day at Grange Farm4 September 2008
Sunday 5 October 2008
11.00am to 4.00pm
Come and take a look round this 50 acre farm, dairy and bottling plant.
See the fine herd of Guernsey cattle being milked, and demonstrations of pasteurising and bottling.
Grange Farm supplies Tuckers milk round with high quality Guernsey milk and cream, and organic yogurt from Bridge Farm in Ambridge. Your cheery local milkmen Mike Tucker and Jack McCreary (who you may know as "Jazzer") also deliver Bridge Farm's organic veg boxes. They have just started to offer bags of Bridge Farm potatoes and carrots, and beef from Brookfield farm - all grown and reared in Ambridge. Both Mike and Jazzer will be on hand to answer any of your questions.
Pat Archer of Bridge Farm will give demonstrations of yogurt making.
Information will be available about local food and the Transition Ambridge initiative.
Free of charge. Refreshments available.
Turn right after Grange Spinney, on the Waterley Cross road out of the village.
Photo: English Guernsey Cattle Society
Harvest Supper and Barn Dance
Also on Sunday 5 October
At Bridge Farm
By kind permission of Tony and Pat Archer
7.30 - 10.30pm
Dances called by our own country music star Mrs Jolene Perks
Tickets from the Village Shop, The Bull and members of the Parochial Church Council
Proceeds to St Stephen's Church Fund and The Elms Shelter for The Homeless
All Welcome. Tell a friend!
Dig, Dig, Dig! - volunteers required17 July 2008
You may have heard about the exciting discovery of a skeleton in the Aldridge Millennium Wood.
The Aldridge Millennium Wood
Archaeological students from the University of Felpersham will soon be undertaking an excavation of the site, and the University hopes that the team can be supplemented with volunteers from Ambridge. So this is your chance to play Indiana Jones (but without the hat and whip!)
The experts have already established that the burial - which was informal - took place over 200 years ago - around the time of the English Civil War. The body is that of a man, around his thirties, and a piece of metal found under the body has been identified as a belt buckle. Who knows what other artefacts from the period are waiting to be discovered!
If you have some time to assist the dig, which will start early next month, probably for two or three weeks, please contact me, Jennifer Aldridge, at Home Farm. No previous experience is necessary, although a careful and methodical approach will be required.
Do offer some time, however little, for this fascinating investigation of history of our own doorstep.
Ambridge Swap Club3 July 2008
As part of our drive to make Ambridge a Transition Community we are pleased to announce the Ambridge Swap Club.
The idea is simple. If you have goods, produce or services that you would like to offer, the swap club is a way of finding someone who wants them - and can offer you something in exchange.
You can come to our weekly meetings in the Village Hall, for a friendly social hour, often with a guest speaker. Or if you can't get along to the meetings, then you can use the message board below to let people know what you have to offer.
Do you have a skill you would like to talk about? At the inaugural meeting, Jill Archer gave us a fascinating insight into keeping chickens. Please contact Susan Carter if you would like to give a short talk at a future meeting, on a subject relating to how we can make Ambridge more sustainable.
Important note: These are personal transactions only - no business products or services are allowed.
Lynda Snell - Fresh herbs and bouquets garnis
Jill Archer - Honey, strawberry jam
Lynda Snell - Can share lifts to Borchester or Felpersham on occasion
Derek Fletcher - Onions, Courgettes
Bert Fry - French beans, Broad beans, Carrots, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Radish, Spinach
Tracy Horrobin - Babysitting
Pat Archer - Asparagus
Daniel Hebden Lloyd - Dog walking. Also good with pigs.
Please add your offers here!
Devoted to youFrom The Borchester Echo
8 May 2008
Ambridge split over inter-faith marriage plan
Exclusive by Borchester Echo
reporter Ross Adams
This quiet rural community has been rocked by the news that its vicar, the Reverend Alan Franks, has become engaged to marry his lover, Asian lawyer Usha Gupta.
While neither the Church nor the Parochial Church Council would condemn the engagement, there is a substantial degree of unrest among parishioners, both in public and behind closed doors.
A member of the pastoral team revealed that, in the early stages of the controversial relationship, the diocese received written complaints, believed to be from within in the parish, including at least one anonymous letter.
While there appears to be a degree of support from non-churchgoers over the love which brought Bombay to Borsetshire, members of the congregation expressed great unease about the proposed match:
"I've nothing against them personally", said one. "If they want to have a relationship, fine. But as for them getting married, it just doesn't seem right to me. I don't think it's appropriate for him to marry someone from another faith. Alan's supposed to be our spiritual leader. It's his job to help us re-affirm our Christian beliefs"
Anonymous parishioners agree that by marrying a Hindu, the passionate parson is setting a bad example: "Even if Usha comes to church - which she hasn't done much so far - she's not a Christian and she's not confirmed, so she can't take holy communion. There's few enough regular communicants as it is. It's hardly going to help fill the church, is it?"
The Echo asked the couple for their view of embarking on a mixed-faith marriage in a small, rural community. Ms Gupta, a partner in the Felpersham firm of Jefferson Crabtree, was unavailable for comment and Rev Franks remained tight-lipped:
"Our marriage plans are a part of our private life, and we'd rather not have them made public", he said.
Read Ross's blog
All aboard for the skylarksFrom The Borchester Echo
24 January 2008
There's good news for threatened skylarks in Ambridge, thanks to the foresight of one local landowner.
Borchester Land chairman Matthew Crawford - skylark saviour
Skylark nesting sites in Ambridge were to be destroyed when land previously in the EU set-aside scheme was returned to food production. But property company Borchester Land - the owners of the 1020 acre Berrow Estate - have established special skylark plots in a nearby field. So the birds, who nest and rear their young on the ground, will be able to breed safely this coming spring and summer.
Spokesman for Borchester Land Mr Matthew Crawford says it would have been unthinkable to lose the current nest sites without creating plenty of alternative accommodation. "I was insistent that we find a balance between growing the food that the world so desperately needs and preserving the environment that is so valuable to us all as country dwellers", he commented.
"Of course, this has cost us time and money. But it was an investment that I was happy to make. There's nothing I like better than to hear the larks trilling high overhead while I walk the crops. We never want to lose that."
Harvest Supper and Barn Dance25 October 2007
Sunday 28 October
At Brookfield Farm
By kind permission of Mr David and Mrs Ruth Archer
7.30 - 10.30pm
Barn dance music and calling by Mrs Jolene Perks
Tickets from the Village Shop, The Bull and members of the Parochial Church Council
Proceeds to St Stephen's Church Fund and The Elms Shelter for The Homeless
View St Stephen's Acre - at our Church Open Day30 August 2007
On Sunday 16th September 2007, St Stephen's Church and Churchyard will be open to visitors.
St Stephen's Church in the 1960s
Take a tour of the churchyard, showing the recent conservation activity. Spot the flora and fauna that we have been encouraging, in our Wildlife Trail!
Flytipping – did you see anything?12 July 2007
Some time overnight on 12/13 July about 30 large plastic bags were illegally and disgracefully dumped over the hedge into a field at Brookfield Farm, Ambridge.
Let's not see our land despoiled like this
The bags contained builders' rubble and trimmings from a yew hedge. What the tippers may not have realised - or perhaps they didn't care - is that yew is terribly poisonous to cattle. Four of Brookfield's dairy cows ate some of the trimmings and tragically died soon afterwards. Our excellent local vet, Alistair Lloyd, confirmed that the cause of death was yew poisoning.
News from Ambridge
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