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Winifred Popperley was a sturdy lady, and renowned rambler. Often seen wandering the countryside using her hockey stick as a walking accessory, she would trundle for miles accompanied by an entourage of beleaguered wanderers she had hoodwinked into her epic jaunts.

This lady could walk. She once suggested a walk to some friends in order to get some waffles and, weeks later, her neighbours were getting postcards from Brussels. In time people in Ten Acre became wary of being drawn into treks that could by anyone’s reasoning lead them anywhere. Heaven forbid her suggesting going out for a Chinese!

Of late, for reasons unfathomable to Winifred, she mostly trekked on her own. It was whilst on one of her epic jaunts that she ended up getting stuck in a well in Tuscany for days before she was found. Having just checked into a rather quaint boarding house, she left her backpack in the room and set off to explore the wonderful countryside, taking only her hockey stick and sturdy handbag for company.

What a fix! Nobody knew where she was and there was no way she could get out of the well. At first she cried out, but to no avail, after which her survival instincts took over. She looked through her handbag and took stock of her belongings.

She had a small vanity mirror, purse, pen, an address book, a pocket book of local phrases, one packet of tissues, one small bottle of mineral water, some complimentary salt and sugar sachets and of course a small bag of Popperley kernels.

Popperley kernels were special in so much as they grew on trees and bloomed into little white popcorns when fully ripened. If harvested early before they popped they could be stored for a while but exposure to sunlight would bring about a sudden change.

Winnie could see enough by the light that filtered into the well. It was not entirely dry; there was a tiny rivulet of clean spring water running through a small channel on the bottom. By midday the sun was beating straight down the shaft and as she sought to keep in the shade an idea struck her.

By using her mirror and focusing the light on the Popperley kernels she could get them to ripen, so she seasoned them with the contents of the sachets she had and came up with a wonderful way to ward off hunger.

By day two Winnie was still in good spirits having survived the night. At precisely midday when the sun was beating down the well Winifred repeated her ritual, this time an odd scene was noted by a passing farm-hand. He heard popping sounds and saw small white things sail into the air and down again.

An inquisitive soul he cautiously went up to investigate and, to his surprise, he found a stout lady wearing her handbag as a hat and munching handfuls of popcorns she had managed to catch with her shawl.

With some help a relieved Winifred finally found herself walking back to Ten Acre with a new travel story and a great flavour to celebrate it with.

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