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  • 318

    Mr Sebastian Salt knew many secrets. If you asked him nicely he would share a few of them and even offer some words of advice. Mr Salt was always in good health and full of energy; nobody in Ten Acre was certain of his age but they all remember him always being around. A sprightly fellow, he was as sharp of mind as he was sound in body, and as village Mayor was always ready for any challenge.

    Everyone throughout the area remembered the stories of his deeds, in particular the climb up to Giant’s Marble with Edna Vinegar and his timely call that winter of ’63. This celebrity brought gossip and rumour about him, as well as his ever-healthy and positive demeanour. The locals suspected he hid a fortune and speculated that it had been amassed in antiquity.

    Of the more extreme and incredible tales circulated, many believed that his ancestors had controlled part of the salt routes, which had set his family up in comfort for generations. Salt was the first condiment ever, a little would improve the flavour of most foods. It was also used to preserve food making it even more useful. The wondrous mineral was even used medicinally to clean wounds and to sterilise.

    Salt was so desirable that the Romans paid their legionaries with it! If there were any truth in these suspicions there could indeed be a fortune.

    There were other rumours going around that Sebastian knew medicinal secrets that kept him young. Salt can be used as a steriliser. If you have too little or too much of it, your body might have problems.

    It is known that salts had been used in spas for millennia, keeping skin healthy and young – but that was too unimaginative for some of the more inventive! They suspected he had his own fountain of youth with special minerals. There was a grain of truth in all of the rumours, except perhaps the fountain of youth bit.

    Had the villagers just asked him outright his answer would have been rather straightforward. “Yes, I do have a secret”, he would have said. “It will keep you young, help you to prosper and lead a good life.” At that point, leaning forward conspiratorially and whispering close to the questioner’s ear, he would have been heard say: “Moderation my dear fellow, moderation in everything. Will do all of that.”

    Is long standing mayor of Ten Acre, Sebastian Salt, keeping an amazing secret?

    The Secret Of Mr Salt

  • 320

    In the tranquil vicinity of Ten Acre during the Dark Ages, when entertainment was a luxury and bathing depended largely on the weather, people had to make their own fun with whatever was around them. It had become an accepted fact that if you threw something round down a hill, it kept moving!

    There were many activities based on this principle with varying results, but none more ingenious than ‘onion rolling’, as it incorporated the rolled object and the prize in one.

    The arrival of the Creme family at Ten Acre had been hailed with excitement as they possessed great cheese expertise, although they caused controversy shortly after they had settled in by interfering with the ancient onion rolling tradition that had developed in the area. In the bright summer of ’04, everything was ready to go for the annual onion roll.

    The prize that year was an enormous specimen known as ‘The Conker’, grown by local farmer ‘Weeping’ Tom Scallion. The rules were simple; onion goes down the hill, contestants chase after it, the winner gets to keep the onion. It was a simple yet entertaining competition loved by villagers for generations.

    The Mayor of Ten Acre, Mr Sebastian Salt, had the honour of launching the onion that year. The contestants were all lined up ready to go at the top of Ridge Hill, the referee was preparing to blow the starting horn once the onion had passed the marker – all seemed normal.

    The horn sounded, the prized onion launched and the runners were in full tumble, when suddenly a large, bright yellow disc seemed to explode from the undergrowth, devastating vegetation in its path as it careened down the hill.

    The gathered crowd crooned at the spectacle; their pitch intensifying when a chance deflection off a projecting stone launched it into the air over the heads of the runners and sent it smashing into ‘The Conker’. Scientific inevitability prevailed and the invasive disc hurtled on at a tremendous pace.

    The identity of the offending article was ultimately revealed when the yellow wheel smashed into the Old Oak at the foot of Ridge Hill just before the river, showering the open-mouthed villagers in an tasty explosion of onion-infused cheese. In the end there were no hard feelings, and this is how the cheese met the onion… travelling helter-skelter down Ridge Hill, in the normally peaceful village of Ten Acre.

    Find out about Ten Acre's historical "onion rolling" competition that took place in the Dark Ages.

    The Story of When the Cheese met the Onion

  • 314

    A perfectly round boulder had rested atop Ridge Hill since as long as the residents of Ten Acre could remember – it was known as the Giant’s Marble. Long had it stood its vigil over the village, but for how much longer was the question on everybody’s mind

    The thaw after the winter of 1963 revealed that the Marble had cracked its bedding and looked precariously close to plunging towards the village. Villagers had taken to tiptoeing around in fear of disturbing it. The finest minds from Ten Acre assembled to develop a plan of action. The situation was dire, as the boulder’s predicted path could take it straight through the school, several houses and the village square.

    Edna Vinegar sat in silence for a few minutes before announcing in the lightest of whispers “I have a solution to this! It will require tiptoeing, light-footed genius and plenty of vinegar!” The audience listened intently to her as she explained her plan.

    Next morning, the sun rose on two individuals slowly creeping up Ridge Hill. Mr Sebastian Salt, the long serving Mayor, had volunteered himself for the task, and Old Widow Vinegar’s stubbornness and knowledge of the plan had convinced him to take her along too. About halfway up the hill, Mr Salt’s right foot snagged a bramble and sent him tumbling landing heavily on his side.

    Edna gasped in shock; they both peered up at the boulder above them. The Giant’s Marble, all 20 tons of it, appeared to wobble precariously on its bed of chalk. A terribly flat future filled the minds of Salt and Vinegar in those agonising few seconds before the boulder gently settled back into place.

    The last few yards to the top were a blur to the intrepid pair. Between them, they had brought up 40 jars of vinegar and started pouring them behind the Marble, following Edna Vinegar’s exact instructions. The ground bubbled and foamed as the vinegar hit the chalk soil, slowly dissolving and softening it, and after scraping away the residue, they had soon enough created a depression leading right up to the boulder.

    After a few minutes, Edna confidently walked up to the Giant’s Marble, raised her arm and flicked it with her outstretched hand. She smiled as it slowly rolled backwards, safely away from the edge of the hill into the uninhabited valley behind. Mr Salt and Mrs Vinegar descended Ridge Hill to the applause of the relieved villagers.

    "Giant's Marble" had long stood its vigil over Ten Acre, but for how much longer was the question on everybody's mind…

    The Amazing Adventures Of Salt and Vinegar

  • 308

    The harsh winter of 1963 had settled over Ten Acre; bringing with it icy, miserable winds and a terrible bout of flu which confined most of the residents to their beds. In that time, snow had availed itself of the lack of residents to clear it, and deposited thickly in mounds obstructing the roads. It was relentless.

    By day three of the blizzard, even the few brave and healthy villagers were clearly overwhelmed, and Mr Salt convened an emergency meeting of the village council to decide on a course of action. Only Mr Lettuce the Postmaster was well enough to attend; he quickly briefed the mayor on the increasingly dire situation. Their brooding and nose-blowing was interrupted some 15 minutes later by the telephone ringing.

    The Mayor took the call, and a broad smile soon spread over Mr Salt’s face – indeed he was almost laughing as he hung up and exclaimed “Everything’s going to be just fine!”

    By the next day, everything was covered in a smooth, unbroken sheet of white. A distant rumbling turned out to be a giant sled laden with an enormous soup urn being pulled by old men on snowmobiles.

    One leather-and-fur-clad bearded gentleman dismounted and walked up to the gathering crowd and shouted “Hi! I’m Bob Olson – we heard you were in trouble so we came to help.”

    The rest of the visitors slowly climbed off their vehicles and shuffled over to where Bob was standing.

    Even though they were really quite elderly, stooped and a bit creaky, there was an air of calm confidence and strength about the men. They were, as Bob explained, the Retired Despatch Riders Association (the R.D.R.A) – a one time elite squad of former motorcycle messenger boys, who were bored with retirement and wanted to relive their glory days by helping people in distress by delivering emergency supplies.

    The R.D.R.A. set about their mammoth task, ladling generous helpings of rich chicken soup out of the colossal urn and into flasks which they then set about distributing, together with blankets and fresh supplies of coal. One by one the people of Ten Acre felt invigorated by the beautiful gift of soup and warmth. As their aches eased and their bellies became full, the residents felt a new surge of hope and energy.

    The day had been saved, and Ten Acre was back stronger than ever, thanks to some eccentric help and lots of hot chicken soup…

    In the harsh winter of 1963 a terrible flu swept through an icy Ten Acre, who could come to the residents rescue?

    How Chicken Soup Saved The Day

  • 326

    Chilli was an old cat that belonged to Maggie Bursnip, the resident hairdresser of Ten Acre. A ginger tomcat of prodigious size both in length and girth, he often spent his days lying outside Maggie’s Salon demanding his belly be rubbed in exchange for safe access. Normally a placid cat, old Chilli had a flaw – he could not bear to be ignored.

    Regrettably for Chilli, his favourite person, Mr Humble Sweet, had been giving him far less attention of late. Sweet had focused on his new friend that Sour lady who did not smile a lot. Millicent Sour did not like cats, she would sneeze a lot and her eyes water, her skin would come out in a rash and her expression would go from sour to bitter.

    Chilli knew that Sour kept two dogs he disliked; very loud slobbery things, all bark and no bite. Sweet had barely noticed the growing ginger storm brewing on the mat next door. Chilli was not one to go down without a fight and decided to regain Sweet’s attentions using every feline means available, so he plotted…

    Plan (A) – Location, location, location… Chilli placed himself somewhere impossible to overlook, and appeared so cute that it was unthinkable not to get his belly rubbed. He rolled on his back purring loudly as Sweet approached. He saw the orange balloon beached on his welcome mat and with a dismissive shoo sent an unhappy Chilli away.

    Plan (B) – Location, location, location… Chilli rested on the window sill outside the back room where Sweet took his breaks and played the paw game on the window. That always got Humble to “ahhh” with delight. Chilli sat by the window all day hearing them talk. He called to Sweet with a loud meow which resulted in him hearing a panicked voice say: “Have you cat back there?” More cat shooing ensued…

    Plan (C) – Direct action… Chilli ran straight at Humble as he left the shop, and began to purr and fuss around his legs. “Of course! You’ve been feeling left out haven’t you poor Chilli? There’s me spending all my time with Millicent. Well, I’ll just have to make sure I brush your hair off as best I can before she visits.” Success!

    Humble Sweet knelt down to give the old tom a good belly rub and the ginger cat sounded like the happiest outboard motor in the world. Chilli had suddenly got sweet.

    Read all about Chilli Ten Acre's hairdresser's cat...

    When the Chilli Got Sweet

  • 324

    Gerome Hickory was famous for three things: his love of morris dancing, barbeques and his big bushy beard. One would have thought that a big bushy beard and an interest in barbeques did not go hand in hand, however, Gerome was always careful to keep them apart, by the clever application of a homemade beard net and through always acting responsibly around fire.

    Villagers thoroughly enjoyed his famous cooking over open coals. The succulent treats he prepared were mouth-watering and perfectly cooked. People in Ten Acre would joke about Gerome singeing his beard, but it was Hickory that always got the last laugh never was a strand even close to being burnt at one of his barbeques.

    At one spring harvest festival, Gerome was in his finest morris dancer attire, performing with the other villagers that still kept the ancient tradition alive. The children were dressed in vivid colours skipping round the maypole with bright ribbons. A small bonfire burnt away merrily loaded with aromatic herbs whose pleasant fumes kept flies and other pests away from the preserves and cakes on display in various stalls.

    The tranquil atmosphere was soon disrupted in a flash, when Millicent Sour’s dogs caught sight of Chilli the cat stretched out by the fire and they started barking furiously. Chilli saw the baying hounds and bolted in the opposite direction tripping Simon Appleby, who happened to be carrying the box of fireworks for the end of fete celebrations.

    The result was spectacular, as the fireworks whizzed and sparked in all directions. Miraculously, nobody was hurt as the fireworks rocketed into the heavens rather than at the crowds, however, one of the stalls had not been as lucky and was suddenly ablaze.

    Gerome leapt straight to the blazing stall, where the grocer’s children Jenny and Phil Green stood frozen surrounded by fire. He grabbed a child under each arm and carried them to safety, while the villagers worked to put the blaze out.

    Panic over, and all under control, the villagers applauded Gerome’s heroism, and in that moment, a gasp spread among the crowd as they noticed two things: Gerome’s beard was gone, and underneath it was an unexpectedly young, if not slightly singed looking face smiling back at them. Hickory may have been slightly barbequed that day, but was hailed a hero forevermore due to his selfless action.

    Ten Ace's well known bearded morris dancer Gerome Hickory organises one of famed barbeques. Will the party go off with a bang?

    When Hickory Got BBQ’d

  • 316

    Mr Humble Sweet, the gift shop owner, was a happy, cheerful soul who could not abide a tear shed in sadness. His shop reflected his personality; festooned with everything from fine porcelain to confection and flowers, and not to mention his celebrated ice creams. The place radiated with happiness and colour.

    While working on his window display one morning, Sweet caught sight of Millicent Sour standing across the street, her slight frame was adorned by a pretty face somewhat spoiled by a stern expression.

    That instant, Mr Sweet knew what he must do… place a smile upon that face. During the course of the day, he inquired about Millicent, a newcomer to Ten Acre, and why she seemed miserable. Some less helpful villagers ventured that it may have something to do with her sucking lemons which had given her a permanently soured look.

    For his first attempt he had flowers delivered to her door. Humble could see the recipient of his good intent accepting the flowers. To his utter horror, a large bee intercepted her nose just as it approached the bouquet; she recoiled in fright, scattering the flowers on the ground as she fled.

    Sweet’s second attempt was a chocolate cake laced with a generous helping of good wishes. Again he watched from his vantage point only to be disappointed to overhear her say that chocolate gave her headaches.

    His disastrous third attempt was a kitten, only to find that Millicent suffered from terrible allergies! This caused the postman to run away from the house at high speed holding the kitten aloft, while being chased by her two dogs.

    Humble Sweet slunk home that evening in low spirits.

    The next day was gloriously sunny. Sweet busied himself with something he knew would make him happy; he poured love into his making his famous sorbets. The villagers turned up in droves, this commotion caught Millicent’s attention and she approached to see what the fuss was. There were scores of people enjoying the icy treats heaped on a selection of wafers and cones.

    Millicent primly sat down at a table and gave her order for some lemon sorbet. When Humble served the order he just managed to contain his surprise at seeing Millicent Sour. He handed her the sorbet and waited anxiously to see her reaction. The confection was eyed with curiosity before sampling, a moment passed then a smile reminiscent of the sun emerging from behind dark clouds formed on Miss Sour’s face.

    She complimented him on his wonderful sorbet and he complimented her on her sunny smile. That was the day that Sweet and Sour became friends.

    Will Mr. Humble Sweet catch the eye of new newcomer Millicent Sour and put a smile on her face?

    The Day Sweet and Sour became Friends

  • 322

    Babu Daswani was passionate about spice; a scholar in all things savoury. His quest for the best was a feat in bravery. His knowledge of his subject was as deep and complex as the flavours he had studied his entire life and, at the venerable age of 87, Babu was ready to step up to the challenge that would make him a legend.

    The City of Mumbai, or Bombay as it was known then, was abuzz with excitement since Augustus Popperley had announced a gigantic cooking competition in the quest to find the tastiest dish. First prize was to be a spice mill situated in Ten Acre, together with a very lucrative partnership offer. Men and women from all over answered the call, bringing with them ingredients harvested from the most exotic lands.

    All over Bombay, kitchens busied themselves with a multitude of ingredients and secret recipes. At this point, old Babu simply arose from his cushion as if waking from gentle contemplation, picked up his perfectly cooked potato crisps and proceeded to climb the highest tower in all of Bombay.

    He gracefully balanced himself atop its zenith and with careful ceremony held out his culinary creations, allowing the rising flavours from the cooking contest below to permeate each potato crisp.

    To the unseasoned watcher, this spectacle must have seemed unusual, but in a place like Bombay, old men standing atop of buildings waving their arms around passed off as the norm. With his potatoes now infused with flavour, Babu climbed down and joined the line of competitors.

    Popperley and the various other judges had been treated to gastronomic delights beyond compare; their decision was already a tough one. With calm bearing and a dignity surprising for an old man bearing a wooden bowl of potato crisps, Babu approached the judges.

    They looked at the bowl, which compared to the elaborate treats sampled that day seemed uninspiring. Other contestants sneered and giggled at Babu behind his back until Mr Popperley tasted the first crisp. One exquisite crunch transformed his expression to one of wonder.

    He held the next aloft and studied it carefully before devouring it. Every hint and nuance of flavour from the sumptuous feast carefully prepared during the day had been perfectly captured within Babu’s food.

    Popperley triumphantly declared that the contest was over, and that he had found his new business partner. So old Babu returned with Augustus Popperley to set up his new Spice Mill in Ten Acre. All these years later his family still delight in recounting the tale of when Bombay got spicy.

    Babu Daswani is a man passionate about flavour, spice and all things savoury. Is he ready to take on the challenge that would make him a legend?

    When Bombay Got Spicy

  • 304

    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.

    Expert Wedding planner Maisie Popperley finds herself on The Nile running Norman York's wedding party. Will she save the day and the wedding as disaster hits their boat?

    Cousin Maisie’s Fennel and Lemon

  • 296

    The sound of the Great Bell echoed across a snow-capped mountain range in far-off Japan, heralding the dawn of a new day. The monks of the temple of Gentle Contemplation and Harmony, a place for those who sought spiritual balance, went about their centuries-old rituals. Among them was Ambrose Popperley; a year had passed since that unfortunate incident in the village with Tom Scallion, a cricket ball and some missing teeth.

    His exuberant approach to everything had expressed itself as a full toss which planted itself firmly in Tom’s mouth. Seeking a way to moderate his behaviour Mr Salt’s advice had led him to this place. His life in the monastery had been tedious, hours of endless contemplation punctuated by tending a garden to the precise instructions of an exacting Sensei. None of this was easy to bear for a person of Mr Popperley’s energetic disposition.

    It was testament to his determination that he had persevered. So it was on this foggy morning that he found himself before the Sensei. He had been standing here now for around ten minutes, watching the Sensei observe the random motions of a feather drifting across the room.

    “You are not at ease my son,” said the Sensei without taking his eyes off the feather. “I am pleased to see you have kept yourself in check during your stay here, but have you understood how you will contain your enthusiasm once you leave?”

    Ambrose’s face became pensive. “Breathe into a paper bag and release my energy into it?”

    The Sensei serenely raised an eyebrow, “nooooooo.”

    “Count down from ten and take slow breaths?”

    Again came the answer, “Ehmmm, no.”


    The Sensei rolled his eyes. “No Ambrose-san, the answer has been before you all the time. It lies in the radishes we have had you tending all year. As you have stated on many occasions they are difficult to grow requiring great patience and perseverance. Now relax, it is time you tasted the fruits of your labour and the results are well worth the effort – here try this Wasabi paste.”

    Ambrose dipped one of his popcorns into the green paste and ate it. Instantly a bead of sweat formed on his brow as a growing sensation of intense heat spread through his sinuses, making his nose water and precipitating a state quite akin to enlightenment.

    The Sensei smiled as he saw the familiar transformation wash over Ambrose, who in turn was looking around himself in wonder and clearly enjoying the state of calm which had replaced all other sensations.

    Ambrose had found his answer, and his new mission, and took it back with him when he returned to Ten Acre.

    After the incident with the cricket ball and some broken teeth, Ambrose Popperley seeks to find spiritual balance in far-off Japan.

    Ambrose Popperley’s Wasabi

  • 298

    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.

    Renowned rambler Winifred Popperley finds herself in a spot of bother on one of her walking trips in Tuscany.

    Aunty Winifred’s Sweet and Salty

  • 302

    The discovery of the Americas drew many from all walks of life including a young Cornelius Popperley. He had secured passage to the new world utilising his skills as an apothecary. Once there he put his talent to good use as he went from settlement to settlement in search of adventure; he did this until he ran out of settlements and was faced with a very wild west.

    Cornelius was left with only a cow called Ivy as a companion; she was not great at conversation, her milk was of poor quality but she pulled Cornelius’ worldly possessions behind her in a cart without complaint. She had been gifted to Cornelius for saving the life of a little girl. Humble as she may have seemed she was a very generous gift from those who had little to give but were so insistent that Cornelius had to graciously accept.

    When passing herds of Bison on the open prairie Cornelius wondered at the breathtaking beauty of the wilderness around him. He found that the sour cream Ivy’s milk produced and the wild chives that grew all over the prairies were a wonderful tasty indulgence, but it seemed to lack something… his gourmet aspirations were set aside one day when he found a lone Popowa Indian.

    This particular young man was ravaged by a pox and was in a frightful state.

    With great care Cornelius tended his new patient to the best of his abilities; with cleverness and humanity a life was saved and a friendship forged. The Indian’s name was Popum and he was the Chief’s son.

    His mission had been to find a cure for his people who were suffering from the same dreadful affliction that he had and it looked like the cure had found him.

    Cornelius and Popum returned to the Popowa settlement and his ministrations were effective.

    The unlikely hero, in a tricorn hat riding a cart pulled by a cow, had saved their lives. In gratitude they rewarded him with their highest honour, being adopted as Chief’s son, and made him privy to their closest secret, the location of the hidden Popowa valley.

    It was there that the unique Popowa popping trees bloomed and fruited perfect popcorns, which by wonderful happenstance went beautifully with his sour cream and chives.

    He spent many a year among the Popowa even taking a beautiful wife called Theodorahontas (Theodora for short) and eventually returned with her to his ancestral home of Ten Acre, bringing with him the secret of the unique Popowa popcorn trees and founded the now famous Popperley popcorn orchard.

    A young Cornelius Popperley's adventures to the newly discovered Americas lead him to love and discovering the closely guarded secret of the Popowa tribe.

    Cornelius Popperley’s Sour Cream and Chive

  • 300

    Of all the Popperleys none was more courageous than Captain Theodore Popperley; his quest for the illusive “Sublime Lime” was legendary. Captain Theodore was an avid botanist and explorer who when he heard tell stories of an island where trees unlike any other grew and fruited citrus that could cure scurvy by just looking at them. He was hooked! The very idea of such a thing existing sent shivers down his spine.

    He set sail aboard The Steadfast into seldom travelled waters with just a small crew. For months they searched following hints described in sailors’ fables. It was in a far off sea amidst floating seaweed they spied a landmass.

    Theodore checked his charts, but none marked an island; the ship was abuzz. Steering a course toward the steaming jungle of green, he was astounded: the plants resembling kelp and very unusual covered a large flat expanse of land punctuated by peculiar mushroom-like rock formations. He named this island Theodora in honour of his grandmother.

    Excitement rose aboard The Steadfast when they spotted trees on the rock formations that fitted descriptions in the mariners’ yarns they’d followed, could it really be… They spirited over to their prize, majestic affairs, with trunks thick as carts. Captain Theodore took his machete and quickly harvested limes, while others loaded the steadily descending citrus into barrels.

    Regrettably for our intrepid adventurers Theodora turned out to be a tidal island and in no time the kelp plains were submerged. The surging waters also sealed the fate of the Steadfast smashing it against the rocks and to make matters worse the waters brought opportunistic sharks in search of an easy meal.

    With few options left, the expedition returned to sea using barrels lashed together with climbing rope as a makeshift raft. They were able to survive some days by taking small sips of water from their canteens and with the famous Popperley kernels Captain Theodore kept for emergencies.

    The golden kernels reacted to the sunlight and fruited into little white blooms, deliciously seasoned with the only things available…sea salt and their precious discovery – limes.

    After drifting for days they were fortuitously picked up by a merchant ship whose crew was afflicted by scurvy; something Theodore’s precious cargo soon put to rights… a rescue for a rescue. Upon return to Ten Acre the lime pips were planted, eventually growing into trees of prodigious size, girth and quality. To this day they bear testimony to the bravery of Captain Theodore Popperley and his intrepid crew.

    The courageous adventures of Captain Theodore Popperley famed botanist and explorer.

    Captain Theodore’s Lime and Salt Popcorn

  • 312

    The adventure started the day that Miss Edwina Clancy reluctantly decided to run away; she felt that life as she knew it was over. Edwina had broken one of her parents’ golden rules: the one stipulating that under no circumstances were ball games allowed in the house. Rainy weather had put an end to her game of Jacks and she thought continuing an innocent game indoors would go unnoticed.

    It probably would have were it not for the fact that her younger brother Thomas opened the door to her room at a poorly chosen moment. This allowed the small, hard rubber ball to bounce out into the hallway, through a thin glass pane on a display cabinet and all over great grandmother’s heirloom crystal.

    Edwina boarded the “The Rye”, an ancient carriage pulled by an old steam train, which headed out of Chuffley. Sitting in one of the The Rye’s compartments she slowly realised that she had not thought things through well. Yes her parents would have been cross when they saw the devastated crystal heirloom but right now they were worried sick as to her wellbeing and whereabouts.

    Being on the run was hungry work, Edwina had not had much of a chance to eat or rest and she feared her rumbling stomach was going to draw attention to her. She noticed that the sleeping passenger on the bench opposite her appeared to have a lovingly prepared and wrapped pastrami sandwich sticking out of his travelling bag. Her mouth was watering as she stared at.

    “Hungry are we?” The passenger was awake and looking at her with one open eye. He reached into his bag and gave Edwina the sandwich, which she took and after the briefest and most genuine thank-you devoured every delicious morsel. Hercules Farrow, Ten Acre’s village constable was on his way to attend a police conference where he hoped to pick up first prize for Best Maintained Bicycle and an award for Best Bulled Boots. Naturally his instincts had been aroused, one hungry child, no obvious adult…

    With patience Hercules eased Edwina’s story out of her. He then told her of when he was little and he accidentally smashed his father’s prize Gramophone, he had run away too. His parents had found him hiding in his treehouse and when they did they told him that no matter what he had done running from home was not the answer. He was punished for what he did, but compared to what could have happened to him out there… it was for the best. Edwina asked if he thought her parents would do the same and he assured her that would be so.

    At the next stop they got off and grabbed the next train home, Hercules missed his conference, but safely returned a child to her distraught parents. Their tears of relief more than made up for his missing out on that year’s prize.

    News of the Constable’s actions spread far and wide and was reported in the newspaper as “The incident of the Pastrami in the Rye”

    The tale of Miss Edwina Clancy and The Pastrami In the Rye

    Pastrami In the Rye

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  • 310

    Lucia’s very existence came as a great surprise to her great-uncle Cornelius, however that was quickly washed away by his unconstrained joy at the realisation that he had another great niece, especially being the child of his much missed nephew, Bertie.

    That auspicious day started like any other, but life has a funny way of going full circle and, in this instance, it chose to take the long way round…

    An enigmatic, elegant lady had arrived at The Ten Acre Country House Hotel and Spa bearing a striking resemblance to one of Ten Acre’s better known families. Rumours abounded as she had some old photographs and was enquiring as to whether anyone recognised the person therein.

    An urgent phone call from Ben Marlow, the Manager of the Hotel brought news of this to Popperley House and soon to, Cornelius Popperley, family elder and self-appointed family genealogist. He was intrigued and resolved to meet this lady as soon as possible.

    Arriving at the Hotel, his mind already racing, when suddenly there appeared a rather beautiful young lady of proud bearing, her dark hair, and tanned skin were in contrast to her grey-blue eyes. Her nose was perfectly etched and her cheeks bore the distinctive cut of the Popperleys.

    With a lilting Italian accent and enchanting English she introduced herself as Lucia Bonfratello. Cornelius took a step back his hand instinctively reaching to cover his gaping jaw, his other clutching his chest as his head began to spin. Lucia stepped in to catch him and the hotel staff, paying even closer attention than normal ran in to assist. Cornelius was aided to a comfortable seat in the lounge amid protestations from him that he was fine.

    Once settled, Cornelius introduced himself and Lucia told him why she was there. She showed him the photographs that she had brought with her, causing Cornelius to take a sharp intake of breath; a welling of tear ducts and the exclamation “Dear, dear boy!”

    Bertram Popperley, known to the family as Bertie, was Cornelius’ nephew and had been lost at sea four decades earlier in an attempt to save the occupants of a floundering passenger ship.

    Lucia took his hand in hers and slowly started to tell her story of a stranger washed up in terrible condition on a beach near Taranto one day after a bad storm. The locals could not understand him, nor did he even know his own name. The local police, after some fruitless enquiries left him to settle where he had been found. Over time he learnt how to speak Italian and built a life for himself marrying a pretty local girl and being blessed with a beautiful daughter.

    Lucia’s father took the name of Marco Bonfratello after the family who took him in after he was saved and he succeeded in life becoming the owner of the Bonfratello coffee houses, selling the best coffee in the area. In his later years he regained glimpses of memory of who he really was; suddenly speaking words of English or talking about playing in popcorn orchards as a child. After her parents’ deaths she sold the coffee shops to her cousins and set out to find the popcorn orchards of her father’s childhood home.

    Realising now that she had succeeded in her quest, tears glistened down her beaming face.Lucia was whisked up to Popperley House where she met scores of eager relatives, the news having spread like wildfire. Over the coming weeks and months, as she fell in love with everything about Ten Acre and the popcorn orchards, she used the special knowledge and skill her father had taught her to create Cappuccino Flavour Popcorn.

    Lucia and, through her, Bertie Popperley had come home.

    Discover how a special arrival at the Ten Acre Country House Hotel changed family history in Ten Acre village forever.

    Lucia Popperley’s Cappuccino Flavour Popcorn

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    Penelope lived and breathed tennis, a precocious talent with great ambitions. She had beaten every serious tennis player, of all ages, to be found in Ten Acre and Chuffley. In the grand scheme of things not a bad achievement for a twelve year old. Wimbledon was her dream, just watching would never be enough for this girl; her place was on the court.

    She trained hard every day, before and after school, the weekends were usually dominated by tennis tournaments. Her bedroom wall was adorned with rackets, awards and pictures of her favourite sports heroes that had been carefully cut out of magazines and newspapers.

    One day, whilst on a long training run, day dreaming of her last wonderful trip to Wimbledon, she paused for a few moments and attracted by the wonderful fragrance began to pick wild strawberries from a hedgerow at the furthest edge of the popcorn orchards. They were so succulent that Penelope slowly savoured a mouthful and in a moment of inspiration picked popcorn from the nearest tree.

    Delighted with the result, but realising something was still missing she raced back to the house and burst in to see Perry Scrumptiously, the Popperley’s head popping chef.

    She breathlessly told him of her idea and together they found the freshest cream from the farm and mixed the perfect treat. The result was everything she imagined it could be, but she still asked Perry to keep it a secret. After a restless night’s sleep Penelope went down to the kitchens as soon as she could in the morning with a great idea for a surprise for everyone. So she and Perry worked tirelessly to prepare an enormous batch of the new flavour of popcorn.

    The reason behind Penelope’s love of tennis probably started with the famous Popperley family Wimbledon Day tennis party, which was held each year on finals weekend and in recent years a giant screen would be used for all the family and friends to watch in awe alongside their own mini tournament. Penelope was so excited that year that she could hardly concentrate on her own play and was mysteriously dropping points and even games. Everyone was asking whether she was all right!

    She managed to contain herself until the big final was about to start and when, as she and Perry Scrumptiously had arranged, trays and trays of popcorn bags were brought out for everyone to eat.

    Such was the success of the wonderful new flavour that Penelope’s dream of Wimbledon Day fame was to be realised even before her tennis career had properly started.

    Uncover the wonderful tale behind the classic strawberries and cream combination and what it means for Penelope’s tennis dream.

    Cousin Penelope’s Strawberry and Cream Popcorn