Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Recent Reviews – #Lockdown M.J. Mallon, #Poetry Balroop Singh, #Paranormal Marcia Meara

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today with a recent review is Marjorie Mallon for the anthology This is Lockdown that shares her own diary of events over that period about the pandemic and life as a family in lock down.. and the thoughts and poetry of others within the blogging community including myself.

About the collection

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

The full list of authors can be found on Amazon.

A recent review for the collection

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars A well-rounded depiction  Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2021

This is lockdown is an unusual collection of diary entries, discussions, poems, and a few short stories written by a variety of people from different countries and backgrounds and recording their experiences and emotions during the 2020 lockdown.

The book is divided into three sections: Family Diaries of the author MJ Mallon, No More which contains poems and pieces from a number of different contributors, and Part 2 which comprises of short stories by MJ Mallon.

The Family Diaries is just what is says, a collection of diary entries from 28 February 2020 to 1 June 2020, setting out the author’s emotions and experiences during the first three months of lockdown. The author was in lockdown with your two daughters and her husband and her entries extend to cover some of their feelings and reactions to being confined to home for an extended period. I enjoyed the family’s attempts to stay cheerful and to make the most of their time through exercising, walking, and reading. Simple joys like cooking and finding a new statuette on a walk are highlights of this period, as is the pervasive underlying anxiety about the illness and the future. The author has also recorded some of the politics of the time and how the actions of leadership impacted on the psychology of the nation.

The contributions from other authors were equally interesting as the contributors were from all over the world. Some of the contributors are known to me through my blog and I really sympathized with their circumstances and anxieties. Some were new to me, but their stories were no less interesting. I found the contribution by Beaton Mabaso from Zimbabwe of particular interest as I live in neighbouring South Africa. Beaton’s experiences and anxieties about food supply, medical treatment, the ability to social distance in crowded communities and a government with limited ability to financial aid its citizens are similar to the circumstances of the vast majority of people in my country. The different impact of the lockdown and pandemic on developed countries where people fight the psychological battle of loneliness and fear, and developing countries were people face poverty and physical deprivation were highlighted for me. There are also beautiful poetic contributions from Sally Cronin, Debby Gies, and Frank Prem. Willow Withers wrote a powerful and overarching poem about the impact of “the plague” on society and the economy of Britain.

Part 2 set out some excellent short stories by MJ Mallon, my favourite of which was The Poet’s Club Fictional Short Story. This story illustrated the diverse impact of coronavirus and lockdown on teenagers and how it impacts on their socializing, learning, and ability to cope. If found this story to be insightful and realistic.

This is Lockdown is and excellent and well-rounded depiction of lockdown and the pandemic of 2020.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

Also by M.J. Mallon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Website:M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

The next author today is Balroop Singh with a recent review for her poetry collection – Magical Whispers

About the collection

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.

‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on the whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.

Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whispers life into us.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Lorie Hope 5.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful and Meditative  Reviewed in the United States on February 8, 2021

This peaceful and meditative collection of poems is like a surrender to Mother Earth and her intrinsic magic. The poems are thoughtful, free-flowing, and loosely connected to weave the reader through natural, mythic and magical worlds. My favorite poems are Love is Love and a Moon Fairy, both very different. Love is Love is like a dance of nature to welcome and embrace the unconventional and Moon Fairy is simultaneously heavy and wistful and reminds me of an old woman recounting her days. Whatever your takeaway from Singh’s work, you will be moved. I recommend this especially when you want to just slow down and breath a little and see the wonder and magic around us.  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Balroop Singh


Balroop Singh, Buy: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter: @BalroopShado

The final author today with a recent review is Marcia Meara for book four in the Wake – Robin Ridge seriesThe Light.

About the book

The Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption none of them expected and exposes a brutal murder along the way.

Throughout all, Rabbit is unfaltering in his commitment to do whatever it takes to understand the truth behind the glowing orb and to determine how he can help it. After all, it followed him home.

A recent review for the book

Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2021

I could read a book about the 11-year-old Rabbit navel-gazing and be entertained. I’m in love with this character and as long as he’s in the story, I’m satisfied. Once again, Rabbit is using his gift of “sight” to solve murders and heal old wounds. In this book, one of the Brown Mountain lights is different from the rest. It’s full of sadness, and Rabbit wants to find out why.

This story has less violence and minimal danger compare to the previous books in the series, and though Rabbit solves the mystery, the more dire consequences unfold on their own. In this read, the focus has shifted somewhat to Rabbit’s expanding “family” as he spreads around his good will and makes connections with other good people. There’s a sweetness to this story and to these characters, and that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Rabbit’s journey and happily recommend Meara’s Wake Robin Ridge series to fans of paranormal fiction, addictive characters, and expert writing. I will miss this little guy. A solid five-star read

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara, Buy: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Marcia Meara on: Goodreads – Blog:Marcia Meara WritesTwitter: @MarciaMeara


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Cancer #Journal – Apple Blossom: my Hope…my Inspiration by Jaye Marie

Today I would like to share my review for the memoir Apple Blossom: my Hope…my Inspiration by Jaye Marie

About the book

Someone asked me the other day, why such a pretty cover for such a sorry story?
The image of apple blossom was on the ceiling of the cancer treatment room, and I lay underneath it for fifteen days, praying I would be happy and healthy again. The sight of the blossom gave me strength and even now, this image inspires me to be the best I can…
This novella is the light-hearted and hopefully inspiring story of my battle with breast cancer… written to help women just like me, all over the world…

My review for Apple Blossom 25th February 2021

Receiving the diagnosis of cancer is everyone’s fear. Jaye Marie shares her journey through this frightening experience from the first examination and her treatments at Queen Alexander hospital in Portsmouth with honesty and courage. A journal such as this is so important, not just as a way to document the experiences of those living through this devastating illness, but for those who might be at the start of that journey. Half the battle is the fear associated with the diagnosis, and at times the lack of information available as  the medical professionals are understandably reluctant to commit themselves to a definitive prognosis. Whilst it is frightening, being informed is a key factor in getting through the treatment and remaining positive about the future. Jaye Marie does an excellent job and whilst the book is a short read it is filled with heartfelt inspiration.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Jaye Marie

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Jaye Marie : Goodreads – Jaye Marie: WordPress Blog – Twitter: @jaydawes2

About Jaye Marie

Jaye Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is about to publish Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule

She also enjoy running a website/blog and all the wonderful people she continues to meet from all around the world. She learns something new every single day and it is much appreciated.


Thanks for visiting today and I hope you enjoyed my review for Jaye’s book.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – February 25th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Lost Glasses and Best Beer in the World

Welcome to laughter lines with some fun from around the web from Debby Gies and a joke or two to make you smile from Sally.

If you have not discovered the non-fiction books by D.G. Kaye: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK Blog: D.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads – Twitter: @pokercubster

Check out Debby’s column here on Smorgasbord D.G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships 2020

Now something from Sally.

After a Beer Festival in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a beer.

Corona’s president sits down and says, “Señor, I would like the world’s best beer, a Corona.” The bartender takes a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him.

Then Budweiser’s president says, “I’d like the best beer in the world, give me ‘The King of Beers’, a Budweiser.” The bartender gives him one.

Coors’ president says, “I’d like the best beer in the world, the only one made with Rocky Mountain spring water, give me a Coors.” He gets it.

The guy from Guinness sits down and says, “Give me a Coke.” The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask, “Why aren’t you drinking a Guinness?” and the Guinness president replies, “Well, if you guys aren’t drinking beer, neither will I.”

Four surgeons were taking a coffee break and were discussing their work ………..

The first said, “I think accountants are the easiest to operate on. You open them up and everything inside is numbered.”

The second said, “I think librarians are the easiest to operate on. You open them up and everything inside is in alphabetical order.”

The third said, “I like to operate on electricians. You open them up and everything inside is colour-coded.”

The fourth surgeon said, “I like operating on technicians…they always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end..


Thanks for joining us today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face…Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – Author Update – #Nature Joyce Murphy, #Fantasy Maria Matthews

Welcome to the Children’s Reading Room with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of books suitable for up to 12 years old.

The first author today is Joyce Murphy with a review for The Bee and The Dandelion – for ages 2 to 6 years.

About the book

Sally’s story made even the leader feel sad. And the Leader said …

“We will make a new law, all shiny and new,

To save all the bees, and you children too.”

The Bee and the Dandelion is a heart-warming, picture, rhyme book that tells the story of a Bumblebee, a little girl called Sally and a flower called a dandelion. Sally loves to pick dandelions but one day, when a Bumblebee flies onto her knee and begs her not to take his food; Sally is taught how precious flowers are to bees and their environment. Moved by the Bumblebee’s plight, Sally is stirred to action and with the help of her friends; she gets a new law written to protect the Bumblebees and themselves.

This book is inspired by a desire to instill a love and appreciation of bees, insects, animals and the environment into the hearts of children everywhere and teach our little ones in a fun way, that they can be proactive, and play their part in protecting our planet and the creatures that live on it.

Told in bouncy rhythm and rhyme, this book will engage children of different ages in different ways. This would make an excellent started book for early readers. At the same time, toddlers, kindergarten and preschool children, can use this book as an early learning tool or listen as it is read aloud to them. The book will also apeal to children who enjoy rhyme books by Julia Donaldson and Rachel Bright.

The Bee and the Dandelion is an ideal values book for children. It can also be used to introduce early environmentally friendly principles through a relatable, enjoyable, rhyming story. It also includes fun facts about bees. Perfect for children aged 2 – 6 years.

A recent review for the book

Alison 5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book!  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 February 2021

I bought this book for my nephew and he really enjoys having it read to him – he also loves to look through it on his own and it’s led to lots of questions about bumblebees! It’s a beautifully illustrated story of a young girl who discovers that bees are in danger and decides to rally her friends together and get something done about it. On the back pages there are some great facts about bumblebees to learn too! This is a lovely book and a good way of making children aware of our impact on the environment.

Read the reviews and book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Joyce Murphy for children

Read the reviews and buy both children and poetry books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – follow Joyce: Goodreads – Blog: Joycie Reilly Poetry – Twitter: @JoycieReilly

The second author today is Maria Matthews with a recent review for The Runaway Schoolhouse

About the book

Clearie, a one-hundred-year-old schoolhouse, is fed up.

For so long, he has helped children get educated but been rewarded only by their complaints about how much they hate school.

He longs to get away

His dream is to go to France, a country he has heard so much about in geography lessons over the years – but how could a schoolhouse possibly travel?

Eventually he comes up with a plan and enlists the help of two students, the Buggy twins: but not everything works out as he had hoped.

With an attic full of crazy crabs, led by the fearless Lancelot, his journey is less than enjoyable and, in his absence, the school system falls apart.

Will Clearie’s dreams come true and the children get their wish for schooldays to end forever? Or has everyone bitten off more than they can chew?

One of the recent reviews for the book

necros attacks 5.0 out of 5 stars A clever and engaging read for all ages  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2021

Whilst definitely positioned as a children’s story, The Runaway Schoolhouse has the ability to reach readers young and old, plus everyone inbetween. I especially enjoyed the schoolhouse itself being a character – that was interesting, new, and engaging for this particular reader.

The story is short but moves at quite a pace. At first I thought the schoolhouse might revert to ghostly tropes (rattling chains, making woo-woo sounds) instead of communicating via the classroom whiteboard. How else is Clearie, the schoolhouse going to realise a dream trip to France?

Involving the Buggy twins, Sara and John brings a dream closer to reality for the century old house, but a sideplot involving a family of crabs seemed to come out of nowhere – and I was pleasantly surprised.

At my age now I rarely read children’s books, though go back to The Hobbit and Rebecca’s World on a regular basis. Indeed, Sara in this book had a lot of traits of Rebecca, and that’s no bad thing. 

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Novels for adults by Maria Matthews

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Maria: Goodreads – Blog: Decidingly Bob – Blog: Mud Pile Wood – Facebook: Maria’s Book Page – Twitter: @matthewsmaria92



Thanks for visiting today and I hope you will be leaving with some books…thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #Family – Sisters of the Undertow by Johnnie Bernhard

Delighted to welcome Johnnie Bernhard to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books and today I am featuring Sisters of the Undertow, a coming of age, family novel.

About the book

Sisters Kim and Kathy Hodges are born sixteen months apart in a middle-class existence parented by Linda and David Hodges of Houston, Texas. The happy couple welcomes their “lucky daughter” Kim, who is physically and mentally advanced. Following several miscarriages, Linda delivers “unlucky” Kathy at twenty-nine weeks, ensuring a life of cognitive and physical disabilities. Kathy enters public school as a special education student, while Kim is recognized as gifted.

Both sisters face life and death decisions as Houston is caught in the rip current of Hurricane Harvey. Kim learns the capricious nature of luck, while Kathy continues to make her own luck, surviving Hurricane Harvey, as she has survived all undertows with the ethereal courage of the resolute.

Sisters of the Undertow examines the connotations of lucky and unlucky, the complexities of sibling rivalry, and the hand fate delivers without reason.

One of the five star reviews for the book

Shanessa 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, lyrical, haunting, and unforgettable….. Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020

“We were sisters,” Kim says. “I loved and hated her.”

Oh my goodness, what a gem of a book. As an only child, I find that I’m especially fascinated and mystified watching the sibling dynamic between my children. I’m equally fascinated by books exploring these complicated relationships. Sisters of the Undertow does a beautiful and heartbreaking job of doing just that.

I loved the Texas setting as I grew up in eastern NM in the 80s, which is basically an extension of West Texas. As much as I like books that take me to a place I’ve never been, there is just something special about a book that can take you back home.

I thought the characters were exceptionally well-written. I loved them and I hated them. I saw myself in both of them. Bernhard threw no punches in portraying the complexities of sisterhood, of showing all that is ugly and beautiful about families- and really, what is ugly and beautiful in us all.

Flawed characters that you are still completely invested in, beautifully descriptive writing, and a profound message of family and the ties that bind us, this book has it all. It’s one I’ll be thinking about for a long time

Read the recent reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Johnnie Bernhard

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Follow Johnnie: Goodreads – Website: Johnnie Bernhard Author – Facebook:  Author Johnnie Bernhard – Twitter@JABernhard – LinkedIn: Johnnie Bernhard

About Johnnnie Bernhard

A former teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard is passionate about reading and writing. Her work(s) have appeared in the following publications: University of Michigan Graduate Studies Publications, Heart of Ann Arbor Magazine, Houston Style Magazine, World Oil Magazine, The Suburban Reporter of Houston, The Mississippi Press, the international Word Among Us, Southern Writers Magazine, The Texas Review, Southern Literary Review, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America essays.

A Good Girl (2017) was shortlisted in the 2015 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition, as well as featured novel for panel discussion at the 2017 Mississippi and Louisiana Book Festivals. The novel was shortlisted in the 2017 Kindle Book Award for Literary Fiction, a nominee for the 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, shortlisted by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction of the Year Award, and placed in the permanent collection of the Texas State Library and Archive Commission, Texas Center for the Book.

Johnnie’s second novel, How We Came to Be (2018) was a finalist in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition. Named a “Must Read” by Southern Writers Magazine, the novel was featured for panel discussion for the 2018 Louisiana Book Festival and Mississippi Book Festival. It was selected for the 2019 Deep South Magazine recommended reading list and shortlisted by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters for 2019 Fiction of the Year. It is the recipient of the Summerlee Book Prize, HM by the Center for History and Culture at Lamar University.

Her third novel, Sisters of the Undertow (2020) was chosen for discussion at the 2020 national AWP Conference, the Pat Conroy Literary Center of South Carolina, the Southern Book Festival/Humanities Tennessee, and Words and Music Literary Feast of New Orleans. It was an official selection for the 2020 international Pulpwood Queens Book Club and Deep South Magazine’s recommended reading list for 2020. Named “Best of the University Presses, 100 Books” by the Association of University Presses, Sisters of the Undertow was shortlisted in the Kindle Book Awards for literary fiction. It was placed in the Texas Center for the Book, State Library Collection.

Johnnie was chosen as a selected speaker in the 2020 TEDx Fearless Women Series. She also supports young writers in public schools through the Letters About Literature program with the Texas Center for the Book and with the Write for Mississippi program.


Thank you for visiting today and I know that Johnnie would love to receive your feedback and questions about her work.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Seven – Anti-Aging and Attitude of Mind by Sally Cronin

Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Link to part to Part Six and how correct breathing can bring multi-benefits to the body as we age: Here

Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey!!

What do emotional factors have to do with anti-aging?

It is sometimes difficult to see the changing image of ourselves in the mirror as we grow older. This applies not just to women but to men as well.

There are physical signs that our bodies are getting more mature; thickening waistlines, sagging skin, cellulite wrinkles and of course grey hair. If you have always taken pride in your appearance and looked after yourself, these visible signs of the passing years can be difficult to deal with.

This is why plastic surgery, cosmetics companies, hair salons and anti-aging clinics do such great business. Billions and billions a year are now being spent on recapturing our youth and as we have seen in photographs in the press, the results are not always successful.

Of course there are people who are quite happy with their changing image and that is fantastic. Accepting the stage that you are physically in your life is very liberating. Letting your hair grow grey, flaunting the lines and creases in your face and baring your body to the world in all its glory is to be admired.

However, if you are like me, you find that quite hard to do. It is not that I resent the fact that I am getting older. I love that I have more knowledge, experience, patience and respect for life than I did in my twenties and thirties but the trouble is that my head and heart still think that they are about half the actual age that I am.

There is a theory that we all have an age that we reach and then internally set as our perfect age. For example when I have worked with women clients in their seventies and eighties and asked them what age they actually feel inside they have all said that they still feel the same as they did at an age between twenty-five and thirty-five. Most men clients usually settle on an age between late teens and late twenties.

This is quite interesting when you look at the biological primes of men and women. These ages seem to correspond to female and male most fertile and stimulating years.

This can make it very hard to look in the mirror and see a sixty, seventy or eighty year old face and body when you actually only feel twenty-five inside.

There is some research to suggest that both men and women suffering from dementia may in fact look in the mirror and see a younger version of themselves which of course only leads to the confusion they are feeling.

So how can we use this internal feeling of youth to help us knock some years off our biological age?

We CAN recapture some of the elements of those earlier years. There are certain human factors that do not age in the same way as our bodies do. Our emotions may change intensity, as does passion, but the actual mechanism for those feelings is exactly the same at eighty as it was at twenty.

What we have to do is find a way to harness that internal age that we feel so in tune with and combine it with all the incredible experiences that we have learnt about life since that age.

The last time I actually felt at my best physically, I was about twenty-eight years old and my best emotional and mental ages were about thirty-five. Being realistic, unless I underwent radical plastic surgery, looking twenty-eight again is not on the cards. Much as I would love to, turning back the clock forty years is pushing it!

Generally, we have a great many more skills now than we did at twenty-eight and thirty-five and what WE CAN do is apply that knowledge to at least a ten year reversal in our biological age. This applies primarily to the internal health of our bodies but some of the external signs of aging will also be improved because of the revitalised functions of our body.

However, to be successful, it is also important to change some ingrained attitudes attached to our current age to enable us to take those steps backward.

So how do we go about changing those attitudes?

First I think it would be a good idea for everyone listening to complete the OFQ. We are all accustomed to the expression FAQ which means ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ but OFQ means ‘OLD FOGIE’S QUESTIONS’

These questions will determine if you have indeed become an ’Old Fogey’ and need to adjust your attitude by a few years. It is a little bit of fun but it is amazing how closely I can identify with some of these statements for myself and friends and relatives who are over a certain age. But, if I am completely honest, I have also met thirty year olds that fall into this category!

  • Do you have conversations with friends your own age turn into ‘duelling ailments’?
  • Is your idea of a night out is sitting on your patio?
  • Do you find yourself saying ‘I don’t believe it’ several times a day?
  • Is your idea of a party a hot chocolate and a couple of digestives in front of the television?
  • Do you give up all your bad habits and you still don’t feel good?
  • Do you feel that no one respects your opinions anymore?
  • Do you keep repeating yourself?
  • You tell the same story from your past over and over again.
  • Do you resist going to places where you will meet new people, preferring the comfort of your known friends and acquaintances?
  • Do you begin every sentence with ‘Nowadays or In My Day or When I was your age’?
  • Do you frequently tell people what a loaf of bread or a gallon of petrol used to cost?
  • Do you constantly criticise the younger generation?
  • Do you feel that it is not worth changing at your age as it will not make a difference?
  • Do you eat your meals at the same time every day and get upset when you are asked to change?
  • Do you order the same meal every time you go to a restaurant?
  • Do you find that you cannot sit still without falling asleep?
  • Do you find that you don’t care where your husband or wife goes as long as they don’t drag you along with them?
  • Do you find that ‘Happy Hour’ is a nap?
  • Have you stopped celebrating birthdays as it reminds you of how old you are?
  • You shout at the television screen all the time?

How can we avoid falling into this trap of being old?

First and foremost, next time you find yourself about to say any of the above, bite your tongue.

You actually have to make some decisions about your life. We are living longer today and thankfully most of us do not know how long we actually have left. You have a choice; you can live every day as if it is your last or you can sit patiently for the next 10, 20 or 30 years until it happens.

We all get complacent as we get older and we need to work harder to find stimulation physically and mentally. It is a bit like that saying ‘Been there, done that and got the T-shirt’. Well, unless you have been an intrepid explorer or a serious academic from childhood, you have not been everywhere and you have not done or know everything.

Strategy One Make A Wish List

It is very useful to create a wish list of the things that you would love to do. This may be a trip that you have always wanted to take – don’t worry at this stage how impractical or expensive this wish list is. These are wishes after all and we know that some of them don’t come true.

Write absolutely everything down. For example – learning languages, climbing Everest, sailing in the Greek Islands, singing Karaoke, meeting Marilyn Monroe, walking on the Moon, re-uniting with your best friend from school, learning to play a musical instrument, and being a grandparent.

It is quite clear that some of these wishes are not possible. Marilyn Monroe has been dead since August 1962 so you cannot meet her in person. However, there is so much information out there that you could certainly get to know her very well indeed.

The same with walking on the moon. There is no way that you are going to be able to do that realistically but there are videos and DVD’s on the subject, thousands of books and an amazing amount of material on the Internet. I did the next best thing however; I interviewed two astronauts for 30 minutes on television about their adventures!

You could still however, learn a language, to play a musical instrument and trace your best friend from school. You might want to complete a physical challenge such as run a marathon, or jump from a plane (see above).

It may not be physically possible for you to be an actual grandparent but there are some wonderful schemes running at the moment where you can be an adopted grandparent for children who do not have any of their own. Your experience of life and your love would be wonderfully received.

For every impossible dream or wish there is usually a work-around. Sometimes it is as simple as saying to yourself ‘I am going to do that’. In other cases you may have to live the wish vicariously through the eyes and the actions of someone else who has managed to live that dream.

The list could be one page or ten. It does not matter, the more wishes you have the more you may be able to make come true. Start working your way through them – for those that seemed impossible, find a solution. Tick them off as you go and feel that sense of achievement and satisfaction and that life still holds so many more opportunities in the years ahead. You may be a little slower but you are not dead yet. Set yourself goals on achieving those wishes. A year to learn Spanish, two years to save for a trip to Australia, 6 months to write that book that is in you.

Strategy Two – Build some unpredictability into your life.

  • Don’t eat at the same time every day
  • Visit the same restaurants every week
  • Use the same supermarket
  • Buy the same newspaper,
  • Watch the same television news
  • Talk to your family on the same day every week.

Stress is caused by not meeting your daily expectations.

My father had lunch on the table at 12.45 every single day, including Sundays. He used to get furious with us if we were 5 minutes late back from the pub and we used to get stressed out from the moment we arrived in the pub and then ran home to be on time. We would rather have had a sandwich at lunchtime and dinner in the evening but that was not the rule.

Strategy Three – Make a decision to learn something new every day.

It might be a new foreign language word, which means that at the end of the year you will have a vocabulary of 366 new words at your disposal. Learn two new words and you will be on your way to speaking the language very well. You only need 1500 to be fluent in Spanish!

Take a subject that you have always been interested in and take a formal course in it so that you can speak not only with authority but also as a qualified person.

Learn about your body and what it needs to be healthy: Then, instead of constantly talking about your ailments when you get together with your friends you can come up with some strategies for preventing or improving the condition. Much more positive than commiserating with each other about the symptoms.

Go out and meet new people even if today under our current restrictions it is people online. It might be a blogger, someone on Facebook you have seen in a group etc. Every one of us has had a lifetime of different experiences of the same event. Marriage, education, children, living in a foreign country, driving and dealing with life will have been perceived differently by individuals and sharing our own lives broadens our perspective.

Strategy Four

One of the hardest things as we get older is feeling that we no longer have anything to offer and that we are no longer respected for what we are or what we know.

Respect at any age is not a right, it has to be earned. People respect courage, humour, commitment, loyalty, enthusiasm, knowledge and a person who shares themselves by giving time and part of themselves to a relationship or group activity off and online.

Once you start giving you will be amazed at how much comes back to you. It is a waste of a lifetime’s experience, and the maturity you have gained, to sit at home and keep it to yourself.

I am not suggesting that you run out and start volunteering for every needy cause going but look within your own family and social group first and think carefully about where your participation in someone else’s life would benefit them and ultimately you. At this time there are many people living alone and there are a number of phone call schemes where you are matched up with someone living on their own and you chat to them once or twice a week.

What about love and romance?

This is one of the most wonderful ways to keep young. Just because we are older it does not mean that we cannot feel the passionate intensity of new found love or cannot nurture a relationship that we already have. It is too easy to become complacent and let small things fall by the wayside. Love and sharing is one of the most powerful anti-aging treatments around – and it costs nothing.

Love is not just restricted to a human relationship. Owning a pet and forming a bond with them is extremely beneficial to your health and definitely lowers blood pressure and stress.

Part of our reticence as we get older is that we feel it is unseemly for us to be looking for romance, which is rubbish. Also, we feel that physically we are going to be found lacking which is also rubbish. Unless you are an 80-year-old chasing a 20-year-old, we all have the same age related body changes and inside you still have the same passions and feelings.

If you are alone and would like to meet someone else then get out there and find a group of like-minded people. They will not come to you and you will have to make an effort. I appreciate that it is harder for a woman on her own to meet new partners but go out with a number of friends or join a drama or writing group. Play tennis and golf whatever it takes to make sure that you are part of the life that is going on around you. Life is full of surprises.

Internet dating for all age groups has become increasingly popular and provided you follow some basic safety rules, there is no reason why you should not find your ideal partner online. Let’s face it for our generation; we had to kiss a lot of frogs to find Mr. or Mrs Right, now you get to know all about them before you even get to that stage.

If you never fall in love again that is fine too, as long as you are surrounding yourself with family and friends that you find stimulating and fun and who get as much out of life as you do yourself. Many activities do not cost a fortune. A walk with a friend along the seashore – sharing a bottle of wine with your neighbour, helping out at the local animal sanctuary – all are inexpensive ways to share your life.

Start a dinner party club with a number of your friends and all do a course, or the wine. Limit the amount you can all spend to £10. You might have to do this by zoom at the moment but you will still be able to enjoy the banter around the table and compare notes on the food you have cooked. This means that you can have wonderful get-togethers each month without any single person having to spend a fortune. Also, when we get back to being able to see friends face to face, if your home is not suitable or out of the way you can use each other’s homes without anyone feeling that it is always their turn.

Finally – Life is not a rehearsal, this is it. To keep youthful and dynamic it is not just enough to eat a healthy diet. You need to keep the essence that is you nurtured and healthy and ready to live the next chapter in your life.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021


Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for some easy flexibility exercises and options for more intensive training..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday 24th February 2021 – #LakeDistrict Mike Biles, #AlooGobi Sowmya’s Spicy Corner, #Publishing Alison Williams

Just a small selection of the posts I have enjoyed in the last few days.. I hope you will head over to enjoy in full.. thanks Sally.

The first post is from Mike Biles of A Bit About Britain and brings back very happy memories of living and working in the Lake District back in the early 80s. Fabulous scenery and walks for every age and ability.

Helvellyn, England’s third mountain  


England, unlike Wales, is not a mountainous country. Indeed, it is fair to say that other countries, with the possible exception of Holland, have mountains that come in larger sizes than England’s. But England does have some fairly serious lumps of rock and Helvellyn is one of them. At 3,117 feet (950 metres), it is England’s and the Lake District’s third highest peak, relatively accessible, with interesting and varied scenery, exhilarating views, the added magnetism of the infamous Striding Edge…and is not to be trifled with.

Head over to discover more about this wonderful place to walk after lockdown and enjoy the lovely views: Helvellyn, England’s third mountain

We eat curry at least once a week and I usually make enough for two days. I was a child in Sri Lanka back in the 50s and Sunday lunch was always a party with everyone gathering  to enjoy our cook’s wonderful curries including all the additional trimmings to go with it. My parents continued that tradition wherever my father was posted  and as David learned to make great curries from the ships cook when at sea for four years in the early 70s  it is a tradition we have both enjoyed continuing.

Here is a wonderful recipe for Aloo Gobi a vegetarian curry, from Sowmya’s Spicy Corner, and there are some amazing recipes to enjoy.

Aloo Gobi – a vegetarian classic in the North Indian cuisine. This is a semidry gravy and is prepared by cooking the the potatoes and cauliflower along with onions, tomatoes and few spices. The addition of spices – turmeric powder, coriander powder, kashmiri chilli powder and garam masala brings out the best of aroma and flavour apart from the enchanting yellow colour it imparts to the dish. This delicious semidry gravy pairs well with all the Indian flatbreads, parathas, jeera rice or pulav rice.

Head over for the ingredients and step by step guide to preparing this delicious curry: Sowmya’s Spicy Corner Aloo Gobi Vegetable curry

The final post today is from editor Alison Williams with a handy list of questions to ask your small publisher before you sign anything on the dotted line.

Signing with a small publisher? Here’s what to look for 

Re-posting some previous posts that followers have told me they found most helpful. Today’s post was written after I had to re-edit, proofread and generally sort out a manuscript that had been published by a vanity press purporting to be a legitimate small press, who had charged the client in question thousands of pounds. In my subsequent ‘nosing about’, I discovered some authors that had been badly let done by small presses. That said, I do appreciate that there are lots of fabulous small presses out there that work incredibly hard for their authors.

I recently wrote a bit of a rant about the quality control of some small presses whose books I had read.

If you are thinking of signing with a small publisher, then do bear a few things in mind.

Do your homework – start off by Googling the publisher. You might find threads on writing sites that go into a great deal of detail about your chosen publisher. Read them – they can be incredibly enlightening.

Ask questions – if your publisher is honest and genuinely wants the best for you, they should accept that you have a right to want to know about them. After all, you are placing your book and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing it in their hands.

Head over to discover the key questions to ask before you sign with any publisher: Signing with a small publisher? Here’s what to look for. #WritingCommunity #WritingTips


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to read these posts in full.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 -#Poetry Inner Rumblings: by Joyce Murphy

I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

Today my review is from April 2020 and is for Joyce Murphy and her debut poetry collection Inner Rumblings: Poems to Give My Inner Self a Voice, the Self I Call Joycie Reilly

About the collection

Inner Rumblings is a collection of poems about life, about courage, and about emotion. Whether you are looking for the courage to keep going when your heart is breaking, the inspiration to follow your dreams or a feeling of ‘someone else has been here too,’ these poems offer an open invitation to share joys, struggles, loves and pain with you.

The poems are expressed through Joycie Reilly, the name the author gives to her inner self – the self that speaks honestly about her battles with social anxiety and self-approval – the self that is searching for acceptance in a cold and turbulent world.

But despite her struggles, Joycie Reilly continues her journey through life, experiencing feelings of great happiness and great pain along the way. And her hope for you the reader is this, that in knowing her journey, you may better come to understand your own.

The book is divided into 10 lifecycles – each lifecycle presenting a separate set of poems relevant to the age and circumstances of the author. The lifecycles span over a 30 year period beginning with Early Teens and ending with Coming Home.

My review for the collection April 18th 2020

Poetry should stir the emotions and convey imagery with flow and rhythm and Joyce Murphy achieves that in her debut collection of verse.

It is a collection that reflects many shades of human emotion through the various phases of the poet’s life from 15 years old after what was an idyllic childhood. Teenage years are not the easiest for many of us and it is clear that the poet experienced anguish and self doubt as she moved into young adulthood including the turmoil of first love. We travel with her to Germany where she worked as an au pair, experiencing feelings of being an outcast in this very different environment to Ireland… and the dilemma caused by a romantic attraction. 

There is also lightness from touches of humour and the renewal that comes with finding a soul mate in ‘Love’s Vision’, but it is countered by the enormity of great loss.

The poetry is a roller coaster that takes you along for the ride. I am sure that there will be life’s experiences that many will relate to throughout the phases of the collection.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Joyce Murphy for Children


Read the reviews and buy both children and poetry books: Amazon UK –  And: Amazon US – follow Joyce: Goodreads  –  Blog: Joycie Reilly Poetry – Twitter: @JoycieReilly

About Joyce Murphy

I have been a scribbler all my life. We didn’t have money for writing paper in my house so I scribbled stories and poems on anything I could get my hands on. Wherever scribbling material was to be found, I wrote on it. This included between the lines of my Enid Blyton books, the white top and bottom margins of my parent’s ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Coat’ program, bits of copybook paper and even blank pages torn from other books.

The poems found in my book, ‘Inner Rumblings,’ were written on small pieces of paper, torn out copybook pages and even on blank pages at the end of my biology book – lack of paper was never going to stop my urge to write.

My goal is to inspire joy and play in children and help them discover themselves and their world through story. To this end I also use my poetry and poems to run adult creative voice workshops. I am a proud self-published author with a unique vision of the world and our place in it. A love of animals and the environment is close to my heart and also runs through my stories for small children. I am also a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Thanks for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed the review for Joyce’s poetry collection…Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #YA #Fantasy – Rites of Passage (The Rites Trilogy Book 1) by Doug Parker

Doug Parker is already the author of a children’s book, and now has a YA/Fantasy novel on pre-order for February 26th. Rites of Passage: A contemporary fantasy action adventure. (The Rites Trilogy Book 1)

About the book

It’s a world full of magic…

…and ghosts aren’t supposed to be real.

Can two high school pariahs survive the path to adulthood?

Orphan Cassius is stuck with no girl, no car, and magic that breaks whenever he tries to use it.

His luck begins to turn when he sets his sights on righting an old wrong, but when a deeper evil is exposed it threatens the one person he holds dear.

Will their bond be strong enough to help them survive?

Can he master his magic?

And about that car…

You’ll love this fast-paced adventure, because of its captivating characters and thrilling twists.

Get it now!

This is Book 1 of a 3-Book Novella Series.

Head over to pre-order the book for February 26th: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Doug Parker for children

One of the recent reviews for the book

How lovely to indulge myself and read these wonderful children’s stories. Superbly written and right on target for its audience, this book is an absolute delight. Diverse tales to fit all tastes, and just the right length for a bedtime read.

Hang on. I’ve someone here who wants to say something. “Squawk”. Oh yes, Squawk, I’m glad you reminded me. I recommend this book to all readers, young and old.

Connect to DougAuthor Page: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Doug: Goodreads – Website: Doug Parker Author – Facebook: Doug Parker Author – Twitter: @DougAuthor

About Doug Parker – Husband. Father. Dog Groomer. Author.

With his days dedicated to his family, “Uncle Doug” (as he is known to his doggy friends) has taken to working as an author by night. A lover of reading from an early age, he has spent many years practicing his craft and now hopes to pass on that love to the next generation.

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news of  Doug’s new book … thanks Sally.