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Maisie Popperley was known for two things: her expertise as a wedding planner and her promotion of her unique Orchestra; a group of 25 Ukelele enthusiasts whose combined efforts at renditions of popular songs had received a mixed response. It was generally understood that the mix comprised her and the Orchestra on one side and the rest of the musical world on the other.

So it was that Maisie found herself on a boat on the Nile with the wedding party of Norman York and his beloved new wife Presence, who stood taller than her husband. Mr York was wealthy miller with more money than taste, a failing which had led to this bizarre honeymoon arrangement.

The Yorks had insisted that music accompany them wherever they went, so it was that the 25 Ukelele players found themselves crammed on one end of a paddle steamer frantically strumming ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ as the happy couple enjoyed their Nile cruise.

Just minutes later the steamer hit a sandbank and came to a sudden, jarring halt. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the peaceful night was over. The Captain and crew loudly blamed each other for the mishap, adding to the tension. The York’s unease mounted with every passing second and yet the band stoically played on, picking up after their inconvenient interruption.

Maisie, ever the quintessential Popperley, calmly evaluated her surroundings and reassured the couple that she was going to get some help. She had already planned her route to the shore from the steamer via some logs floating usefully near the treacherous sandbank.

Once ashore it wasn’t long before she hitched a ride on a passing merchant’s cart headed for Cairo. The cart was laden with Fennel and Lemons destined for the famous Khan el-Khalili market. On the way the merchant invited her to sample some flatbread flavoured with the finest of his wares. The aromatic Fennel blended beautifully with the refreshing citrus and, inspired, she made a note of it for later use.

The rest of the journey was blissfully uneventful and when she finally returned with another steamer to ferry the passengers on, she found them singing and dancing merrily to the sound of Ukeleles. The Yorks were ultimately happy with their little adventure as it made a good tale and as for the Ukelele Orchestra, fortunately for the rest of the world they found the risks of their profession unacceptably high and disbanded.

Maisie returned to Ten Acre in low spirits, but finding her note she remembered her marvellous adventure and the amazing Fennel and Lemon flavour, which she immediately added to the Popperley popcorn repertoire.

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