Smorgasbord Short Stories – Milestones Along the Way – #Ireland #Waterford 1950s – Achill Island and Keem Bay Shark by Geoff Cronin

Following on from The Colour of Life, my father-in-law Geoff Cronin wrote two more books with stories of life in Waterford and Dublin from the 1930s. He collected the stories on his travels, swapping them with others in return for his own and then treating us to the results of the exchange. Geoff also added some jokes overheard just for the Craic…Over the next few weeks I will be sharing selected stories from Milestones Along the Way.

The Keem Bay Shark

Visiting Achill Island some years ago, my wife and I parked near the first obvious beach to be seen. It was our first visit to the island and as the day was nice and sunny, we enjoyed the beach for a couple of hours. It had been a long drive from the east coast and we savoured the rest. Presently we retired to the local hostelry and had a leisurely meal, which was excellent. Later, we toured the island and saw the remains of the village deserted since mass emigration during the famine, and we booked into a local B&B. By this time it was near ten o’clock in the evening, and families were still out on the beach and we thought this a bit odd. Of course we had completely overlooked the fact that in Achill, being on the most westerly part of the country, there was an extra forty minutes of daylight.

We had heard that Amethysts were to be found on the island and there were some large specimens displayed in the windows of guesthouses along the road, so we decided that since there was some daylight left, we would do a quick search in some promising sites. Our gem hunting was brought to a close at dusk when clouds of midges descended on us and we had to beat a hasty retreat. However, we did find two small specimens and I have them at home to this day.

On our way to our place of rest, we dropped into the local hotel for a nightcap. Very few people were there and it was now eleven o’clock, but gradually it began to fill and by eleven forty-five the place was packed and a singsong had started. I remembered that Achill was classified as a depressed area and as such it was granted an extra hour by the licensing authorities, which meant that the pub was open until twelve thirty. Well, the singsong had gathered momentum, and there was no shortage of talent and a right royal party was going on when I looked at my watch and it said one fifteen! I made my way to the bar and spotted the landlady. I pointed to my watch and said “What are the chances of a police raid at this hour?”

She smiled indulgently and said, “Ah no sir, they wouldn’t raid us unless a row broke out and that’s very unlikely.”

Anxious for reassurance, I asked why would the police not raid the place and again she smiled and said, “It’s a long winter, sir!” I was puzzled by this answer and decided to check with one of the locals, who told me that this was the only pub on that side of the island, and if the police wanted a place to get a drink in the small hours of night duty, then a cordial relationship with the local hostelry was essential – ’nuff said!


Keem Bay, Achill Island.

Many years later I visited Achill again in the company of two friends, one of them an American named David who had never seen anything like Achill Island. On arrival we drove through the village and on up a long hill which culminated in a car park overlooking Keem Bay, one of the island’s showpieces. From the car park there was a drop of some 500 feet to the small beach, and there were two small boats fishing in the narrow mouth of the bay. Well, the day was warm and the bay was inviting, so we decided that a swim was in order and we made our way down to the small cove below. On the way down, I noticed a man on top of the hill which enclosed one side of the bay, and he was scanning the sea below, for what, I did not know! Now the water here is not just cold, it’s very very cold and it took us a while to get in, as this was the Atlantic!

Eventually, we were in and swimming about, when the man on the hill was shouting to the boatmen, and gesticulating wildly. Whereupon the two boats made for the shore and were disembarking as we emerged from our swim.

We approached the fishermen to inquire what all the fuss was about and they told us that a shark had entered the bay, and usually when that happened, they would drop a strong net across the mouth of the bay and then they would harpoon the shark when they got him in shallow water.

“So, where exactly was the shark?” asked David, and the man said “I’ll show ye now, d’ye see the way there’s three waves comin’ onto the shore? Well, you were swimmin’ in the second wave, and the shark was lying behind the third wave.”

David’s face turned ashen. “How big was he?” he asked.

“About thirty foot”, came the reply, “but ’tis alright ’cos he’s gone off now and we missed him. Of course” he said, “unless you got a swipe of his tail and then you could end up with a short leg!”

Then I asked what would they do with the shark if they caught him. “Cut him open and take out his liver, and then dump him out in the deep.”

“But”, I said, “it could hardly be worth killing such a magnificent animal just for his liver!”

“Well, you see sir”, he explained, “that shark’s liver would weigh up to 2,500 lbs and there’s a big demand for it ’cos they can extract the oil from it and that’s why its valuable.”

As a result of this encounter David decided he would not swim in Keen Bay again, and we all agreed.


Note: The average basking shark can weigh between 4.5 and 5.2 metric tons and its liver can be up to 25% of its body mass. The average liver therefore can weigh between 2,500 and 3,000 lbs!

Basking sharks are frequently seen off the west coast of Ireland as they follow the plankton in the Gulf Stream. Keem bay had a booming shark business in the 1950s and records show that at that time over 1,000 sharks a year were being caught.

2020 today under EU regulations Basking Sharks are protected and tourists now visit Achill Island to catch sight of these magnificent creatures.

©Geoff Cronin 2008

Geoff Cronin 1923 – 2017

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

I hope you have enjoyed Geoff’s stories and as always your feedback would be most welcome – Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf – New Book on the Shelves – #Contemporary #Romance – Falling by Stevie Turner

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Stevie Turner on pre-order until October 7th – a contemporary romance – Falling.

About the book

Death seems preferable to wasting what remains of his youth in prison.

James Hynde, fortified by several tots of whiskey, climbs up onto the roof of Parker Mews’ multi-storey car park and peers over the parapet. The game is up. The police will soon seize his millions, the Maserati, the London townhouse, and the Caribbean mansion on Windjammer Island.

Should he jump feet first or hold out his arms and topple over and over like a somersaulting gymnast? He closes his eyes, feels the breeze on his face, and pitches forward into the unknown.

Sixty feet below, Olivia Benet, a budding ballerina, rushes along Parker Mews towards the entrance to the multi-storey. Her interview for the Royal Ballet had taken much longer than expected, and she has but a few short minutes left before her parking ticket expires.

James has no idea of the consequences his action will have on his and Olivia’s lives.

‘Falling’ made the finals of the 2022 Page Turner Writing Award.  

An advance review for the book

D.G. Kaye   

This is a story of both the literal falling and everything else that falls around James Hynde’s world after his intended demise falls apart, leaving poor Olivia Benet to take ‘the fall’. As always, Turner always delivers a good story in the women’s fiction category.

James Hynde was in a world of trouble due to his greed and decides the only way out of his mess is to commit suicide – but he couldn’t even get that right because when you’re running bad, the streak continues. Sadly, James’ lame attempt of jumping off a building landed him right on top of poor, innocent 19 years old, Olivia Benet, below. She broke his fall and got the brunt of injuries and paid the price by ending up in a wheelchair and losing her dream to join the ballet company.

Olivia decides to visit James in jail before she began her suing endeavor, to see if she can detect any remorse. Her visits became more frequent to the jail as the more James was rude, the more she felt she had to hear something compassionate. On one of her visits, he finally opens up to her and apologizes. This broke the ice, and we see an ‘interesting’ relationship develop between them. James eventually bares his soul to Olivia, telling her some juicy scoop about some of the money he’d swindled and where it was. This interested Olivia.

When James gets out of jail, his relationship with Olivia heats up. They get together, and then again separate. Later when they reunite, they decide to start up a new business together, out of the city, away from the competition. Some new shady characters are introduced in the new business, along with some baggage from James’ past – mainly, a greedy ex wife.

So, what happens when ex-wife Fiona shows up? Well, you’re going to have to read on to find out what exactly she is after!

Stevie’s books never disappoint. With engaging characters and wonderful plot lines, this book is a lovely escape read.

Head over to pre-order the book for October 7th: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

A selection of other books by Stevie Turner

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Stevie : Goodreads blog: Stevie Turner on WordPress – Twitter: @StevieTurner6

About Stevie Turner

Stevie Turner is a British author of romantic suspense, humour, paranormal stories, and women’s fiction family dramas. She is a cancer survivor, and still lives in the same picturesque Suffolk village that she and husband Sam moved to in 1991 with their two boys. Those two boys have now grown, and she and Sam have 5 lovely grandchildren.

One of her short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). Her screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and her novel ‘A House Without Windows’ gained interest in 2017 from De Coder Media, an independent film production company based in New York. ‘Finding David’ reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition. Stevie’s latest book, ‘His Ladyship,’ reached the finals and Longlist of the 2021 Page Turner Writing Award.

To quote reader Roberta Baden-Powell, ‘I’m looking forward to reading your new book, and find your books the best so far. The style you write in has given me a new perspective and a renewed inspiration in reading once again.’


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

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Malaya #1950s – The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly by Kwan Kew Lai

Delighted to share my review for an extraordinary memoir by Kwan Kew Lai – The Girl Who Taught Herself How to Fly. On Pre-order for October 25th 2022

About the book

★★★★★ “A thoughtful consideration of the ways women and girls survive—and even thrive—within oppressive patriarchal systems.” Victoria Namkung, NBC News

Kwan Kew Lai met her first Punjabi woman doctor while lying in a hospital bed with a severe kidney infection at the age of fourteen. Watching the woman walk away down the hall, Kwan Kew was convinced she could, and would, carve out her own destiny.

In the British Straits Settlement of Penang Island, she was born into an impoverished Chinese family of two boys and ten girls on the cusp of the Japanese occupation during World War Two. She did not wish to repeat the life of her uneducated mother, burdened with an endless brood, nor tolerate the fact that her father considered girls useless since they could not carry on their family name.

The newly independent country of Malaya developed a national policy favoring one racial group, the Bumiputras, vastly diminishing her chance of receiving a university scholarship. Her fortuitous introduction to a free library and her determination to continue her education, led to the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship from Wellesley College.

When her father saw her off at the Penang International Airport as the first child to attend college, she proved herself to him, but more importantly she started the journey of a lifetime fulfilling dreams that originated as a young girl playing in the mud with the chickens.

In The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly, the author weaves in her family’s story of joy, sorrow, loss, love, and endless struggles with poverty and hunger. This poignant memoir, with universal and timeless themes, will leave you in awe.

My review for the book October 15th 2022

The author has already published two memoirs about her extraordinary global career in medicine and humanitarian work – Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak and Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor’s Memoir

Kwan Kew Lai’s family asked her to write about her upbringing, family and life in Malaya just after the Japanese occupation, and the challenges she faced in obtaining an education at a time when a girl was destined to devote her life to her family, marry young and to bear many children.

Prepare to be amazed, inspired and humbled by this story.

You may have read news articles, books and even seen dramatized accounts of life in Malaya during and after the Japanese occupation, and during the events leading to the nation achieving independence.

But I doubt that you have read such a detailed account of how life really was for those enduring the occupation and the aftermath. Particularly the author’s ancestors, the Hakka and Nanyan Chinese who migrated to Malaya during the nineteenth century.

Growing up in this multicultural society the class system did not favour migrants, including the Tamil Indians in the 1950s. This extended to the education that their children received, and it was a major step forward when primary school was made mandatory and Kwan Kew Lai was enrolled by her mother known by the children as Ah Yee.

The author shares in great detail the daily challenge for Ah Yee to put even the most simple of meals on the table, often going without herself to ensure her husband and family had food. There was also the strain on both her mother and the family of the yearly addition of another baby in the hopes of more sons to continue her father’s bloodline, and the many moves as the family lost both financial support and homes. Her father, 25 years older than her mother, continued to work passed retirement with his own business to provide for his family, but it was a constant struggle to make enough to keep a roof over their heads.

The fortitude of her mother Ah Yee, with 12 children, two boys and ten girls who she devoted her life and every ounce of her being to nurture was inspiring and humbling.

There are moments when you are brought to tears such as when the newest daughter is taken from her mother’s arms without her consent and given to relatives who could not have children of their own. When the author’s father falls prey to scammers that rob the family of their only income. When each move takes the family further down the road to extreme poverty.

Kwan Kew Lai and her siblings had to fight every step of the way to obtain even the basics and yet they thrived and achieved, with an older brother and sister becoming health professionals. This certainly made a difference to the family’s income, but it also paved the way for Kew’s move into secondary school and supported her own ambitions to attend college.

This involved fighting not just the system, but also the expectations within her culture. Undeterred she faced up to both and pursued her dream working day and night to achieve the grades required to apply to colleges in the United States. The reward for these years of determination and hard work was a full scholarship to Wellesley College paving the way for her to become a doctor.

I am awed and inspired by Kwan Kew Lai’s life as I am sure those reading the memoir will be too. ‘Against all the odds’ certainly applies to this remarkable story and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Head over to pre-order the book for October 25th: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads

Also by Kwan Kew Lai

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK – Website/Blog: Kwan Kew LaiFacebook: Kwan Kew Lai Author PageTwitter: @KwanKew

About Kwan Kew Lai

Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Kwan Kew Lai attended Wellesley College on a full scholarship, paving the way for her to become a doctor. In 2005, she left her position as a professor of medicine to dedicate time to humanitarian work: in HIV/AIDS in Africa and to provide disaster relief all over the world, during wars, famine, and natural disasters, including the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian, Rohingya refugee crises, Yemen, and the COVID-19 pandemic in New York and the Navajo Nation. She is a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award.


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some book… Sally


Smorgasbord Short Stories – Milestones Along the Way – #Ireland #Waterford 1950s – The Sea Angler’s Club by Geoff Cronin

Following on from The Colour of Life, my father-in-law Geoff Cronin wrote two more books with stories of life in Waterford and Dublin from the 1930s. He collected the stories on his travels, swapping them with others in return for his own and then treating us to the results of the exchange. Geoff also added some jokes overheard just for the Craic…Over the next few weeks I will be sharing selected stories from Milestones Along the Way.

The Sea Anglers Club Dunmore East

In the late 1950s a group of guys who were interested in fishing for something other than mackerel got together and formed the Dunmore East Sea Anglers Club. Earlier trips out to an area off the Hook Lighthouse had proved that there was an abundance of big fish to be caught there, conger eels, spur dogs, big pollock and occasionally skate and tope. Then came the time when on Sundays we hired a trawler which could take ten rods at a time and when on one such occasion Pat Phelan landed a skate weighing 87 lbs. we were well and truly bitten by the bug.

Thus began the serious business of developing the club and to that end, we organised weekend competitions and invited members of other clubs to participate for prizes and there were competitions for shore anglers, and those who did not wish to go to sea. At this time the general interest in sea angling was taking off and clubs were springing up all over the country.

Then there was the river fishing fraternity which had a strong following, as there were several good trout rivers locally and good pike and roach fishing was to be had in the lakes around the country.

The Dunmore East Sea Anglers decided that new members were needed if we were to grow the club, and to that end, it was decided to target the river fishermen and see if they could be introduced to sea angling and the bigger fish. We invited the chairman of the biggest club to take part in one of our weekly competitions and when he accepted, we booked a place for him on one of our trawlers and I was deputised to look after him and see that he had a good time.

Off for a day’s fishing.

Came the appointed day and I was introduced to this surly guy and guided him to the boat and showed him his station. We set off from the dock and I began to sort out my tackle when I noticed our friend had only two-ounce sinkers, and we all knew that it required half a pound of lead to take bait to the bottom. So, I asked him if he would like to borrow some heavier gear, to which he replied, “Are you suggesting that I don’t know how to fish?” I withdrew gracefully and left him to his own devices, and had to smile when he produced a ten-foot pike rod totally unsuitable for the day’s work ahead. Anyway, he lit his pipe and settled down to wait until we reached the fishing ground.

He was, however, unaware of what was going on at the opposite side of the boat. “What are we fishing for anyway?” he asked me in a most aggressive way.

“With any luck” I said, “we’ll get a shark or two.”

He guffawed and said “Don’t be codding me now, boy.”

I made no comment and could see that I wasn’t going to win him over. And so, he baited a hook and with a two-ounce sinker and dropped it over the side, where it disappeared under the boat.

Now, at the far side was Harry Garret, a seasoned angler, with a six-foot rod, a homemade Nottingham reel with a hundred yards of orange line of a hundred pounds breaking strain and, cutting a mackerel in half, he baited a huge hook with one half of the fish, and with a pound of lead on the end, he dropped the lot overboard and settled himself on a fish box. He was after BIG congers.

And then the inevitable happened. Following the run of the tide our visitor’s line, with his 2 oz. weight, travelled under the boat and found Harry’s line, whereupon Harry said quietly, “Hello lads! I feel a tickle,” and he began to wind in his line slowly. At the same time, our visitor’s rod was bending sharply. He responded by giving it a chuck, and then Harry struck with such force that our friend’s rod was disappearing under the boat. He began shouting for the gaff, and telling us he had a monster. Harry, meanwhile, was bracing one foot against the gunwale and winding relentlessly, when the skipper shouted from the wheelhouse “Are ye tryin’ to lift the feckin’ boat out of the water?”

Everybody saw what had happened, and they fell about the place with laughter. Our guest, however, was not amused. He cut his line, and began to pack his gear.

Just then the skipper called me to the wheelhouse. “Have a look over there” he said. I did so and saw a three- foot fin sticking up out of the water. “It’s a basking shark,” I said. “Here, take the wheel and steer over leaving him on your right, I want to see your friend’s face when he sees this.” I obeyed and as I got near, the fin disappeared as the shark dived. But as I watched, he exploded out of the water, rising to his full height and standing on his tail, he crashed down on his back with an almighty smack – only twenty feet from where our guest stood. What a performance, a twenty-five foot fish weighing a ton, falling on his back right before our eyes! The visitor was ashen-faced. “What in the name of God was that?” he said. “It was only one of the sharks I was telling you about,” I lied. “I think I’d like to go home now,” the visitor said and he was very subdued when we eventually turned for home.

We had a good day’s catch, but no sharks, and the lads enjoyed the joke immensely. Of course, we didn’t recruit the river men, but we had many a good day thereafter and many a good catch too. The best catch was by my old friend Jim O’Connell, who landed a skate which weighed 107 lbs. Incidentally it was an odd sandy colour and we thought it might be a blonde ray, which would make it a record – a skate is normally grey in colour – so we contacted Dr. Went in the Fisheries Department and he asked us to send it to Dublin for examination. Well, we humped it into the boot of O’Connell’s car and drove to Waterford Railway Station, where we asked a porter to bring out a trolley. “What have ye?” he asked. “A fish” said O’Connell. So out he came with a trolley and we dropped the skate onto it. “What in God’s name is that?” asked the porter, “and why are ye sending it to Dublin?”

“Because” said Jim with a straight face “we couldn’t find a pan big enough to fry him!”

This story still endures among the sea anglers of Dunmore East.

Jim O’Connell (left) with Pat Phelan’s 87 lb. skate and Paddy Kelly (boatman).

And just for the Craic

A tourist being shown over the Irish countryside by a local, paused when he saw some red berries growing on a plant at the roadside.
“Tell me,” he said, “what are those berries?” “Those are blackberries,” he was told.
“But they are not black, they’re red,” said the tourist.
“That’s true,” said the guide, “but you see sir, they’re always red when they’re green!”

©Geoff Cronin 2008

Geoff Cronin 1923 – 2017

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

I hope you have enjoyed Geoff’s stories and as always your feedback would be most welcome – Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – September 2022 – #Poetry #Prose Lauren Scott, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Biography #Humour John Cornelius Rogers and Sue Bavey

Welcome to the round up of this month’s book reviews and it has certainly been an enjoyable reading experience. Not as many books as I would have liked with everything going on in the house but I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I did.

It has been a busy summer and as the rain returns I was looking for something gentle to ease me into the autumn and found this in the lovely collection by Lauren Scott – More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose

My review for the collection September 10th 2022

This is a delightful collection of prose and poetry reflecting on a life tinged with sadness but also a great deal of love and humour. The author celebrates moments from her early life and marriage of over thirty years with stories that will entertain and also bring the reader’s own experiences to mind.

Sometimes it is the simplest things that evoke the warmest memories, such as a silver cutlery set, a toy frog called Sam, a yellowed kitchen chopper and the first time baking a traditional family birthday cake.

We are invited to concerts as a teenager overcomes self-doubt to solo in front of an audience of 2000 and fulfil a dream inspired by her idol Barbra Streisand. There are moments with spiders that might have you looking around your immediate surroundings, but you will also find yourself in some wonderful wilderness areas offering moments of reflection and a dip in a mountain pool.

Love is a central theme beginning with her mother and father’s love story that endured for nearly 70 years having begun in WWII with all its uncertainty and lengthy periods apart, and the author’s own fateful meeting with her husband, involving a kitchen appliance!

The loss of parents, even after a long and wonderful life, leaves a hole in our hearts. Their stories and poetry dedicated to them in this collection are heart-warming and reinforce the extent of their loving influence on the generations that followed.

The final part of the collection reflects on the changes that come when children leave the nest, and whilst this is obviously a time of sadness, there is also pride and delight as new lives are forged with future adventures to look forward to.

I enjoyed all the stories and poems in the collection and I am hard pushed to pick just one favourite but this one touched my heart.

Simple Existence

I stare at this page, milk white as the
blanketed ground in winter’s staging
where are the syllables?

I fear they have flown to faraway places,
across desert dunes and boundless oceans
and might not return so that I may tell him
(again) how irreplaceable he is.

Instead, I’ll touch his lips with mine
and steady myself in the arms of a man
who is satisfied with my simple existence.

©Lauren Scott

I can highly recommend this collection to read in one sitting or to dip into when you are in need of gentle and uplifting moments.

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

The next five star review is for D.Wallace Peach and the  much anticipated The Necromancer’s Daughter.

My review for the book September 17th 2022

It will come as no surprise to fans of the books by D.Wallace Peach that this new book is hard to put down once you begin turning the pages.

As expected incredible world building and characters that leap out of the page fully formed in just a couple of chapters. Each compelling and infused with varying degrees of human strengths and frailties from compassion to downright evil.

We travel the road of life with Aster as she encounters obstacles in her quest and many dangers along the way. She does however manage to enchant most of those she meets with her innocence and conviction. This includes dragons who are not immune to her gentle persuasion.

We are witness to the persecution and violence resulting from being outside of the mandated belief system, but also the kindness of strangers often with those with little comfort of their own.

The action is fast paced and dramatic and there is not much time to take a breath between the conflict between good and evil… However, this is infused with romance and growing respect that comes with understanding and acceptance.

I loved the book, can definitely see it as a fantasy film or television series and was sorry to see it finish. As with all the books I have read by this author, that ending comes with a sigh of satisfaction. If you have not read fantasy before then this book is a very good place to start… and I highly recommend this exciting adventure.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK  

Delighted to share my review for the recently published biography by Sue. Bavey – a collection of stories, both fact and fiction and poetry written by her father – Daydreams and Narcoleptic Nightmares: Memoirs and Poems by John Cornelius Rogers. Having read and enjoyed the biography of her grandfather Lucky Jack I knew I would be in for a treat.

My review for the book 15th September 2022

This is a brilliant collection of stories and poems by John Cornelius Rogers, compiled and edited by his daughter Sue Bavey.

I felt I was sitting beside John as he shared stories from his childhood growing up in Sussex and then Lincoln in the 1920s. His memories are vivid and I laughed out loud at so many wry observations and would loved to have been around at the time, including when the family’s first car arrived.

The war brought enlistment in the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve where John was introduced to navigation, armaments, engineering and morse code before proceeding to flight training school. After war there was a posting to one of the worst hit cities Hamburg for a year which made for sombre reading, and left him with a feeling of sickening sadness at the devastation and loss of life.

John then went on to train as a teacher and taught in a school where classes had 49 non-reading 8 year olds undisciplined after the war years and determined not to be educated. A traumatic experience for all concerned.

In contrast, having been billeted in Scarborough during training, it was followed up by an eventful holiday in Scarborough with his wife and young daughter which came with some colourful nightlife! This story and many others were filled with such wonderful humour and it is hard to pick one out to highlight, but “Alfred – Not So Great” is brilliant.

We are also introduced to the two conditions that resulted in challenges in everyday life Narcolepsy and Cataplexy and it is inspiring that despite those challenges John still maintained his wonderful sense of humour and love of life.

Poetry is included between the stories but part two of the collection is dedicated to this form with observations on life and more humour including “An Unusual Talent”

If you mix with the poor, or the privileged elite
whether you travel the world or stay in your street,
The most unlikely attribute you ever will meet
is the gift of Les Blain and his musical feet.

I highly recommend this wonderful collection of poignant and entertaining reflections on a life well lived and on the social history of the 20th century.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

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

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2022 – ‘Potluck’ – #History – Pump Organs by Joy Neal Kidney

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’. I have posts scheduled for another few weeks but that will bring this current series to an end. Another series will begin in the new year.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the half of 2022

In her second post in the series author Joy Neal Kidney shares the workings of the pump organ in the church where the family worshipped.

Old Pump Organs

During my growing up years, we worshiped at the Presbyterian Church in Dexter, where my Aunt Nadine (Neal) Shepherd was the pianist, organist (a pump organ), and choir director. Because so many choir members were from farm families, several months during the year, the choir became smaller.

We Neal cousins went to the Dexter school, just a couple of blocks from the church. Dexter had such a wonderful music teacher, Ruth Sellers, so in no time at all we could read music. Several of us also took piano lessons. Aunt Nadine recruited us for a youth choir, which eventually became the main choir.

When I was a junior in high school, Aunt Nadine was pregnant and needed substitutes at the organ and piano. I’d played piano for Sunday School, but the organ was a pump organ (video). That means that while you’re playing the keyboard, you also need to pump the bellows that made it play!

The pump organ is the instrument on the left. (The rear-view mirror is to be able to coordinate music with ushers, the pastor, and even when the choir processed in from behind the organist. Taken about 1961, First Presbyterian Church, Dexter, Iowa

I’m in the back row, second from left. My sister is on the front right. Eight of us are Neal cousins! Aunt Nadine is at the back right.

The keys operate reeds, so when you press the key, air from the bellows flows up the reed and makes a sound. You can change the sound by using the stops, which are pull knobs that add extra features. The expression “pull out all the stops” refers to using all the knobs of an organ at the same time.

The Dexter church eventually traded the pump organ for a Hammond electronic organ, which I enjoyed playing, but if I’d had the money at the time, I would still own that old pump organ. I enjoyed playing it and had figured out how to repair the bellows when needed it.

A Depression-Era Pump Organ

While working on Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, I became acquainted with Mary Wilt, a neighbor of the Wilsons back then. She knew that Leora Wilson could play the piano and that the Wilson girls played in the Dexter band, so she said they could have her pump organ since she didn’t play it anymore.

The surprise was that the Wilson family was so strapped for life’s necessities, there was hardly money for extras. They had even needed to burn furniture so they could heat part of the house they rented.

Dale needed a project for manual training. He transformed wood from that old organ into a radio table.

© Joy Neal Kidney 2022

About Joy Neal Kidney

Joy Neal Kidney is an Iowa author who grew up on a farm, now living in a Des Moines suburb with her husband, Guy, an Air Force Veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired Air Traffic Controller. Their son is married and they live out-of-state with a small daughter named Kate.

With God’s help, Joy is aging gratefully. Living with fibromyalgia for two dozen years has given her plenty of home-bound days to write blog posts and books. “Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots” is her third book in the “Leora Stories” series. Her research from decades ago has helped tell her grandmother’s stories.

She was presented with the 2021 Great American Storyteller Award “Honoring the woman who most beautifully tells the story of America to Americans,”by Our American Stories and WHO NewsRadio 1040.

Books by Joy Neal Kidney

My review for Leora’s Letters August 6th 2022

This book is an intimate inclusion in one family’s life and loss during the Second World War. Clabe and Leora work tirelessly on the farm they manage to raise their children and put something by for their dream of owning their own farm. In this rural environment it is natural for young men and women to perhap have their own dreams and even before Pearl Harbour one son has signed up with the Navy. Over the course of the war five sons would enlist to serve their country.

Through the letters written by Leora to her sons, and their often censored letters in return we share life on the home front and also their challenges as they go through training and then deployment. Their only link to home is these letters and others between each other and their sisters, and it is clear that this is a close knit and loving family doing their best through a very difficult time.

One can only imagine the constant worry any parent would have with a child serving on the front line, particularly with incomplete news reports in the media, long after major battles at sea and in the air. But to have five sons in the line of fire in the Pacific and in Europe must have been unbearable.

The letters are beautiful in their simplicity and informality as they would have been between a loving family. There is also some wry humour as the boys encounter the world outside their rural upbringing and undergo their training, as well as a deep love of their parents as they send money home toward their dream of owning their own land.

From the first page we are drawn into this family and feel the hope, love and loss they suffer over the course of the war. Whilst there is sadness, there is also admiration for a brave mother and her sons who believed in doing their duty, and respect for the sacrifice this family made. War should never be glorified, but those who lay their lives on the line for their country should be, especially when young with their whole lives ahead of them.

This period for all of us is now moving from living history as the last of those who can share their stories pass away. It is so important  that major events such as major conflicts are fought by ordinary men and women and their stories deserve to be told and remembered.

The author has done a wonderful job in collating these letters that recreate so vividly this time in world histry. By doing so she honours the members of her family, including her own parents who lived, loved and lost so much.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UKMore reviews: GoodreadsWebsite: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author – Twitter: @JoyNealKidneyInstagram: Joy Neal Kidney


Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – #Classical – Andrea Bocelli – Pavarotti, Celine Dion, Awards 1990s

It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Welcome to the next part in the Andrea Bocelli story. The multi-award winning cross over tenor has won not just critical acclaim for his beautiful voice, but the hearts of millions around the world

In September 1994 when Andrea was invited to sing at the renowned Pavarotti’s annual Charity Gala Concert, Pavarotti International in Modena. Bocelli sang Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s ‘Mattinata’ (Morning).. A song with quite an interesting back story.

It was the first song ever written for the then Gramophone Company in 1904 (which later became HMV). Ruggero Leoncavallo was an Italian composer who was best known for his two act opera, Pagliacci written in 1892, and still one of the top twenty list of most performed operas worldwide. ‘Mattinata’ was dedicated to the renowned Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, and he was the first to record the song with Leoncavallo at the piano.. Just one of over 260 recordings between 1902 and 1920 by the great Caruso.

Also during the gala performance, Andrea sang a duet with Pavarotti, Maurizio Morante’s Notte e Piscatore’. Luciano Pavarotti 

This was the year that Andrea Bocelli made his opera debut in Verdi’s Macbeth as Macduff. Performing at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa. It was also in 1994 that Andrea, who considered himself to be an agnostic, reverted to catholicism. It followed his immersion in the works of Leo Tolstoy who promoted the belief that life was not the result of pure chance, but had purpose and meaning. He performed the hymn ‘Adeste Fideles in Rome before Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica at Christmas.

Having won the newcomer section at the 1994 San Remo Festival, Andrea was invited to return in 1995. This time he entered the main competition with ‘Con ti Partiro’ and finished in fourth place.

The song was included on his second album, Bocelli, produced by Mauro Malavasi and released in November 1995. In Belgium, the song became the best-selling single of all time.

In this piece, Con te Partiro, Bocelli’s young voice is strong and well supported.His mixing of high and low notes confirm his distinct timbrewhich is extraordinary and transcendent,and his performance is as impressive as the power he brings to its expression. Andrea Bocelli 

Later in 1995 Bocelli was invited to sing with soprano Sarah Brightman and they translated the title of the song to ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. The single topped the German charts and stayed there for over three months. Three million copies were sold and this beat the previous record of best-selling single by one million copies, the single also won a sextuple platinum award.

In 1996 Bocelli released his third album. Viaggio Italiano is Andrea Bocelli’s third studio album and first classical album. The album features some of the most popular opera arias and Neapolitan songs of all time, such as Ave Maria, Nessun Dorma, O Sole Mio and la Donna è Mobile. Although released only in Italy in 1996, it sold close to 300,000 copies. Bocelli later received the ECHO Klassik “Best seller of the year” award for the album, after its international release, in 1997

Bocelli gives a warm,passionate,and heartfelt delivery of Schubert’s Ave Maria. It’s unbelievably heavenly and inspirational.

Bocelli continued to gain fans around Europe, topping the charts in Spanish charts with ‘Vivo Por Ella’ ( I Live for Her) his duet with Queen of Spanish pop Marta Sanchez. This was followed in 1997 with the French version of the song, ‘Je Vis Pour Elle’ sung with French singer Hélène Ségara; a hit in Belgium and reaching number one in France.

On March 3rd 1997 he appeared in Hamburg, Germany, with Sarah Brightman to receive the ECHO music award for Best Single of the Year for Time to Say Goodbye. This was followed in the September with Bocelli’s concert at the Piazza dei Cavalieri in Piza, A Night in Tuscany which was his first concert to air on PBS.

Whilst continuing to perform concerts and to record further albums, Bocelli remained committed to performing opera roles and early in 1998 he made his debut in a major role as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Teatro Comunale in Cagliari.

His fifth album Aria: The Opera Album’ was released in March. There was some negative reviews for the album from opera purists who felt that his voice was not strong enough to master the arias. If you read the reviews on Amazon, it is clear to see there is definitely a divide between the critics and the massive response from Bocelli’s fans who loved the album.. Here is one review that sums up this controversy.


Thanks to Rick Holden ( for showing Ms Miller how to write a proper review. Having listened to the album myself I can only agree whole heartedly with his comments. Unfortunately there are too many critics out there who try to analyse music note by note and impress us with their technical jargon.

The joy of music is all about liking what you hear, and whether or not the music moves you. How can anyone enjoy listening if they’re listening for flaws or mistakes instead of enjoying what they hear. Perhaps Andrea Bocelli isn’t the greatest Opera singer, I don’t know, but I can say that he has one of the most wonderfully melodic voices I have ever heard and he sings like a man who is enjoying every note he delivers.

His background or his potential for the future don’t bother me, he is the man of the moment, and that’s all that matters. I recently watched a video performance of his ‘Evening in Tuscany’ which I would reccommend to all fans. Maybe Andrea will never be a great Opera singer, but who cares? He can move audiences without all the fancy dress. VIVA ANDREA!

It was now time to win over the United States and in April, Bocelli made his debut with a concert at the John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington. This was followed the next day by a reception a the White House with President Bill Clinton.

As a very definite response to some of his critics, Bocelli appeared in Monte Carlo in the May and won two World Music Awards. One in the category “Best Italian Singer”, and one for “Best Classical Interpretation“. He was also named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People of 1998. This was consolidated in September when he received his second Echo Klassik award for the best-selling Aria: The Opera Album which sold almost two million copies, one million of them in the United States achieving Platinum status.

Here is ‘E lucevan le stelle‘ from the album – Bocelli’s grasp of style and vocal technique are quite evident in this aria, and his talent undeniable.His sound is not rounded in a Pavarotti-like way but is quite virile with a *baritone-like color used over a wide *vocal range without any suspicion of strain. Do enjoy this aria which is performed lovingly, sincerely,and skillfully.

Note: barione-like color – timbre
Note: vocal range –the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can sing.

As the millennium drew to a close there was very little that could stop the phenomenon that was Andre Bocelli.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Andrea was a guest on Celine Dion’s televised These Are Special Times where they sang ‘The Prayer‘. The duet was included on Celine Dion’s album of the same name and the song also appeared on the film Quest for Camelot in 1998. ‘The Prayer’ won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 1999 and at the 41st Grammy Awards, Bocelli was nominated for Best New Artist.

His seventh album, Sacred Arias contained exclusively sacred music and reached number one on the US Classic Billboard charts two weeks later. This made Andre the first vocalist to hold all three top places on the chart with Aria: The Opera Album in second place and Viaggio Italiano in third place. To promote Sacred Arias, Bocelli recorded his second PBS concert in Rome and this special was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program.

To end the decade and millennium on a high note, Bocelli performed at the Royal Variety performance at the end of November 1999 by invitation of Queen Elizabeth. The following day his autobiographical novel, La Musica del Silenzio was released in Italy.

BUY Andrea Bocelli’s Music: Amazon

Official Website:Andrea Bocelli

Additional materialWikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Laughter is the Best Medicine – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Family Photos and Ramblings

Firstly, some funnies from Debby Gies followed by some funnies from Sally. Thanks to those who share the funnies on the internet.

D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.My thanks to Debby for excellent foraging

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US And: Amazon UK Blog: D.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads – Twitter: @pokercubster

Debby’s new series Spiritual Awareness..How Do You Know If You Are An Empath – The Signs

Now for some fun from Sally….

Ramblings of a Retired Mind…

I found this timely, because today I was in a store that sells sunglasses, and only sunglasses. A young lady walks over to me and asks, “What brings you in today?” I looked at her and said, “I’m interested in buying a refrigerator.” She didn’t quite know how to respond.
Am I getting to be that age? I was thinking about how a status symbol of today is those cell phones that everyone has clipped onto their belt or purse. I can’t afford one. So I’m wearing my garage door opener.
You know, I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people didn’t like me anyway.
I was thinking that women should put pictures of missing husbands on beer cans!
I thought about making a fitness movie for folks my age and call it “Pumping Rust.”
When people see a cat’s litter box they always say, “Oh, have you got a cat?” Just once I want to say, “No, it’s for company!”
Employment application blanks always ask who is to be called in case of an emergency. I think you should write, “An ambulance.”
I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then it dawned on me. They were cramming for their finals.
Birds of a feather flock together and then crap on your car.
The older you get the tougher it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.
The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble.
Did you ever notice that when you put “The” and “IRS” together it spells “Theirs”?
You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.


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

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2022 – ‘Potluck’ -#Children #Reading by Sue Wickstead

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’. I have posts scheduled for another few weeks but that will bring this current series to an end. Another series will begin in the new year.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the half of 2022

Teacher and children’s author Sue Wickstead shares one of her favourite books and authors from her childhood, and some interesting mixed lego animals she has made.

Have you met any fantastic beasts?

I was asked to talk about an author, for my writing group, and what they meant to me..

Who is your favourite author?

There are so many, I didn’t know who to choose!

I thought about looking at JK Rowling and her book ‘Magical Beasts and where to find them’.

This reminded me of an old book we had in the family, ‘The Zoo on Sunday’, written by Frank Worthington.

I wondered if perhaps this was where JK Rowling might have got some of her ideas.The Snat

Frank Worthington C.B.E; F.R.G.S; F.Z.S; Formerly secretary of Native Affairs, Northern Rhodesia and author of author of ‘The Little Wise Owl’ and ‘Chiromo, the Witch Doctor’.

Frank Worthington published The Zoo on Sunday in 1925, and as a ‘first-class black-and-white artist’, was also the illustrator.

My aunt Rose was given the book in 1930 (she remembered it was given by her Auntie Edie, a teacher, and Uncle Carl Webster, a head master and schools inspector in London at that time).

The book was passed down in the family for us to look at and enjoy, which we did although it was a little strange.. It was certainly thought proviking..

Mixed up animals

The Tor-tare

The book has full page black and while illustrations of mixed up animals (The Tortaire; The Hippo-Cock-Tail; The Snat; the Hermit Bear and The Cro-co-dowl to name but a few)

The Snat

Each with a poem to go with the new animal.

The introduction poem asks why London Zoo might be closed on a Sunday. It asks, ‘What can be seen there on a Sunday that isn’t to be seen on a Monday?’

The poem ends with a ticket to ‘Toological gargles, Wegent’s Park’ from the ‘Toological Sobriety of London’.

With a message’ don’t breathe a word on Monday of what you saw or heard on Sunday.

Frank Worthington had ‘more than one unusual pet:

One was a Marabou Stork, with a bill like a pickaxe. It would walk quietly up to a sleeping dog, contemplate for a time, and then give the animal a tremendous blow with his beak and would clatter his beak and dance around with delight.’

‘Another pet was a large bush pig, it would often dig itself out of the sty and was persuaded to go home by one boy pushing it and another scratching its back with a garden rake.’

These strange pets obviously gave Frank Worthington his ideas and inspiration.

Lego Mixels

The book has recently re-captured my imagination, because over lockdown I have been making a few Lego models which seem to have mixed up animal links.

Each colourful trio come in family groups, such as The purple Wiztastics, who are Mesmo, Wizwus and Magnifo.Wiztastics

The Mixels and Nixels have some imaginative names such as Nurp-Naut; Vaka-Waka; Tentro; Glomp and Jawg and they certainly made me giggle..

MixelsI did wonder what a book of ‘Lego Mixels’ might look like and was set to have a go.


As a teacher, I have been asked to teach phonics to reception and year one.

In the ‘Read-Write-Inc’ phonics scheme one task is for the children to sound out and say a few words and have to identify if they are real or Alien words.

Phonics – Alien WordsThese names not only sound fun, but have some very odd-looking creatures.

The next time I teach phonics I doubt I would be able to say if it was an alien word. If you can sound it out and say it, I’m sure you can write about it and if you can’t? Well there are lots of words from other languages you might have trouble pronouncing and just because you can’t say it doesn’t mean it is nonsense.

Maybe the best nonsense words can become fun. Like the Nifflers in JK Rowlings book Fantastic Beasts.

And maybe I will have to write a book to go with the Mixels. Who knows?

© Sue Wickstead 2022

My thanks to Sue for letting me share the posts from her archives and you and any younger members of the family will find much to enjoy over on her blog.

About Sue Wickstead

Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author with Award winning books.
Shortlisted in the Wishing Shelf Book awards. and has written children’s picture books with a bus theme. In addition, she has also written a photographic history book about the real bus behind her story writing.

Her bus stories are about a playbus. Have you ever been on a Playbus?
When Sue’s two children were young, they attended a playgroup on a bus, but not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey, exciting though this is, but a Playbus stuffed full of toys to capture their imagination!

For over 20 years, alongside her teaching career, she worked with the charity, the Bewbush Playbus Association.

As part of the committee she painted the bus, worked in the groups, helped raise the profile of the project and its work and was part of the team involved in raising funds to replace the old bus with a newer vehicle. This led her to write a photographic history book about it.

‘It really was a fun journey to be involved in’, said Sue. The bus really got into her blood and became a work of the heart.

Having written the history book Sue soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. So, she decided to write a fictional tale, his number plate JJK261, gave him his name.

‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus,’ came out in print in 2014. It is the story behind the original project and is his journey from a scrap-yard to being changed into a playbus for children to play in. From Fact to fiction the bus journey continues.

A small selection of books by Sue Wickstead

One of the reviews for David’s Bin Day

This Children’s picture book follows David as he likes to watch out for the bin men each week.

He likes to wear a bobble hat just like the bin men, and he decides he wants to tidy up.

Suddenly things around the house start to disappear, including an important letter for Daddy.

Where are the missing items? Does it have something to do with David?

This is a really sweet and lovely book to read, and I loved reading it with my daughter.

Not only does it show children about one of the jobs that they may not think of, but it also shows the importance of keeping things tidy.

I must admit, I was laughing thinking about what I would do if this was my child, but I did love how the family reacted.

My daughter said: I loved the pictures in the book and liked listening to mummy read.

Overall, a sweet and lovely children’s book with a message to keep things tidy.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – More reviews: Goodreads – Website/Blog: Sue Wickstead – Facebook: Stories Sue – Facebook: Teacher Page – Twitter: @JayJayBus – LinkedIn: Sue Wickstead


Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters: The Sequel – #Morbid Obesity – Putting your Healthy Eating Plan together Part One #Measurements #Motivation by Sally Cronin

This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and I had intended to release in 2021 for the 25th anniversary of my initial weight loss. However, with everything else going on in the world it did not seem appropriate to celebrate when people’s minds were fixed on survival in lockdown. Although this serialisation ontains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 25 years.

Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book.

Last week I shared how you can determine how much weight you should lose to be healthy

You can read the previous post: HERE

Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

Putting your Eating Plan together Part One #Measurements #Motivation

So far in this series I have covered the basics of how you might have become overweight, and some strategies to put in place to make sure you are successful, however much you weight you need to shed. This included making sure you deal with any underlying health issues such as Candida Albicans and getting your willpower in shape. Last week I shared the abundance of food that you can eat as get to a healthy weight and now it is time to put those foods together in an eating plan.

Because this is a longer than usual chapter… I am posting over two segments this week and next.

Creating Your Own Plan

So now it is your turn.

Weigh yourself.

I hate bathroom scales with a vengeance. They can sabotage a healthy eating programme as quick as anything. They are not always reliable, if old, the measurements are off and if you do not lose weight one week you can get demoralised and give up.

I suggest that you find a chemist or other outlet that has accurate scales and visit every two weeks – same day and time if you can – on the way to work perhaps.

I try to find one that does not shout the results across the shop floor!

Some of these also have a blood pressure cuff so another measurement to check on a regular basis. Do still have your BP taken officially along with your LDL cholesterol levels and Blood Sugar with your doctor or the pharmacy after 6–8 weeks.

To be honest, I find using a different method to measure progress can be more motivating.

  • One is to take a photograph, full length of you today and stick it somewhere you see it every day.
  • In 6 weeks time having been following your new regimen of natural unprocessed foods and got into an increased activity programme, take another and compare them.
  • I think you will be pleasantly surprised, especially if you wear the same clothes you did in the first photograph.. They should feel a lot looser and it will show.

Another option is to find an item of clothing that is a size too small and every week on the same day try it on.

  • Keep going until you fit into it. Be realistic.
  • If you are a size 20, don’t think that you are going to be in a size 10 in six weeks.
  • Start with a size 18 and then a size smaller every four to six weeks should be about the right time scale.

A note here, unfortunately, we women lose weight from the top down usually. One of the reasons being is that we have different hips and thighs to men. We bear children and the fat in those regions would be used to nourish the baby when we are pregnant. So perhaps an idea would be to find a top of some kind or jacket to compare sizing for the first few weeks.

Determine your frame size and decide what weight you need to be by using the BMR calculator and the addition of normal activity and exercise per day. If you missed that post here is the link How much should you weigh?

Remember: It is not healthy to lose masses of body weight too quickly.

  • You start to lose muscle instead of fat and that is not good in the long term.
  • When you lose muscle and then come off your diet, you don’t have the necessary muscle to burn fat, any excess beyond what your body uses up each day will be popped into the fat cells for safe-keeping.
  • That is why when you eat too few calories on a ‘crash’ diet, you put on even more weight than you started with.

Having said that, if you are steadily increasing your activity level, you can sustain a healthy loss of 2–3 lbs (1–1.5 kg) a week, because you are building muscle as you lose the fat.

Most one-dimensional diets work on the assumption that you walk three times a week for 20 minutes. This is hardly enough time to get out of breath! If you are walking for an hour every day, you will be achieving seven times that amount of exercise and will soon see the benefit in additional weight loss and toning.

The weight loss will always be quicker at first, but, if you average it out over a 20–week period, it usually works out to 2.5 lbs (1 kg) per week. You do not need to do the entire hour at once. Intensive and brisk walking for 20 minutes, three times a day can actually be more effective. Also, you are more likely to sustain the level of exercise in smaller segments. For me, I find that if I listen to rock music it keeps me at a good pace although does solicit some odd looks from passers by.

As always, especially if you are very overweight, you should not launch into an aggressive exercise program without first talking to your medical adviser.

Without the use of technical equipment, and complex calculations, it is generally difficult to calculate an individual’s calorific usage during an hour of exercise. To keep it simple, I have listed only a few exercises and divided them into two main groups: Moderate and Heavy (I will cover excercise in more detail in a later post).

Moderate exercise:

Walking, cycling and swimming. These use approximately 300 calories an hour. You should then add 10 calories for every 14 lbs (6.5 kg) you are overweight.

Heavy exercise:

Aerobics, mountain biking, running, and football. These use approximately 500 calories an hour. Here you need to add 20 calories for every 14 lbs (6.5 kg) you are overweight.

Basic Summary:

• Weigh yourself.
• Determine your frame size.
• Decide on your ideal weight.
• Calculate the weight loss required to achieve this weight.
• Determine the amount of calories you need each day to provide basic nutrition – BMR – then add in basic daily activity and exercise.
• Without going below your BMR – around the 1500 calories for a woman and 1800 for a man – design your healthy eating programme to provide a 500 to 750 calorie deficit per day to achieve 1–2 lbs weight loss per week.

Toning muscle can result in less weightloss.

It is worth noting that some weeks you may lose less than in others. As you increase your activity level, you will be toning up and this will create more muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat and so you may find that you have lost inches instead of pounds. However, in my experience, it usually seems to average out to about 2–2.5 lbs (0.9–1.1 kg) per week. Think long term, and do not become too obsessed with the day-to-day loss of weight.

I suggest that you keep a journal as I did.. I would list my food intake for the day in detail, plus fluids and the exercise. I weighed myself every Monday morning and made a record of weight lost, gained or stayed the same. If there was gain or I had stayed the same weight, I would take a look at the food and see is anything had slipped in or if I had been doing less exercise.

How much fat should I eat each day?

At this point I think it is important to remember that our bodies have been evolving for a very long time – in a hundred thousand years our DNA will only have altered about ten times – I have said before that the body does not react to sudden changes very well! However, in the last 300 years and particularly the last 150 years since the industrial revolution we have thrown some curve balls at our bodies.

Processed foods with manufactured artificial ingredients is just one area where our nutritional needs are not being met – one of the others, which is the real demon in our diet, is refined sugars – addictive – available from birth to grave, within hand’s reach in shops, in our own fridges and store cupboards – and laboratory constructed fats to extend the sell-by-date on ready meals and other processed foods in our daily diet. No wonder our bodies are in melt-down with increased health issues that lead to Heart disease, Cancers and Dementia.

But back to fats …

We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight. I use the 80/20 rule with my diet because I have to be watch my weight – 20% of my diet comprises healthy fats – sometimes I will have more because I am out for a meal etc. but basically my everyday diet comprises mainly seasonal vegetables and fruit, whole grain rice, fish, chicken, red meat once a week, eggs, moderate dairy.

No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats.

Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet:

• One fat to avoid all together is not naturally occurring at all and that is manufactured ‘Trans Fats” Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most processed foods including margarines and snacks such as microwave popcorn, biscuits, cakes, packaged puddings etc.

• The other fat type, which in large quantities is not helpful in maintaining cholesterol levels, is saturated fat – if there is too much in your diet it will raise your total Cholesterol as well as the LDL (low density lipoprotein which is smaller and clumps in arteries, and I call it Lousy Cholesterol). Mainly found in animal products but also some seafood. However, provided you are not eating the rich fat around a steak or roast every day, or eating a block of cheese three times a week, or a pound of butter on your spuds, you can enjoy what is very tasty component of your diet in moderation.

Personally I would rather have a small amount of real grass fed dairy butter with all its nutritional value, than a large dollop of low fat chemically processed glop……

Cholesterol is an essential element of many of the chemical reactions in the body including our brain health and our hormones. Dropping it too low can have an impact on our long-term health.

• The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL (High Density Lipoprotein and which I call Healthy Cholesterol) – this is contained in nuts, like walnuts and olive oil.

• Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and these are found in salmon, soya, sunflower oils etc and have a very important component Omega-3 fatty acids. These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.

We love fish and it is very easy to include oily fish at least three times a week. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.

At this point a word about cooking your healthy meals – Olive oil is great but not so good when heated to a really high temperature to cook your steak or fish. It should be Extra Virgin Olive oil so that it has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions!

Use to drizzle over your meat, fish, vegetables, jacket potato etc after cooking – steam bake your food – if you are eating steak put in the oven in a pan with a grid so that the excess fat drains off – if you fancy a little butter on your vegetables, why not – great taste.

A little more info on Olive Oil – great stuff – potent mix of anti-oxidants that can lower the LDL but leave the HDL untouched – obviously if you are overweight it does have a high fat and calorie count but much better to use the Extra Virgin version and get the health benefits than use the diet alternatives.

I also use coconut oil for cooking and I have the liquid oil as a dressing, it is organic and has no additives and mixed with a little balsamic vinegar makes a delicious addition to salads.

The greatest gift you can give you body and its cholesterol is to avoid eating processed store bought cakes, biscuits, crackers some cheap breads, pasta dishes etc. If you make your own from scratch using butter and eat occasionally you will get a better tasting and healthier alternative.

To summarise – do not take fats out of your diet – use unprocessed, natural ingredients in your cooking, use fats and oils in moderation, eat plenty of vegetables, seasonal fruits, whole grains, dairy and eggs. 

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

Next time part two of this stage of your weight loss with a check on portion sizes.

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four 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 21 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.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin