Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985-1987 – Trip to Seattle – Mountains and State Park

This week are first trip to Seattle, long before the long-running series Grey’s Anatomy and certainly after the still clammy warmth of Texas, it was a shock to the system to feel the autumnal chill and all the rain. As I type this up it is hard to believe that my mother at the time had just turned 68 years old, just three years older than I am now.

9th of October 1985 – Marriott Seattle

Dear M and D,

I hope my birthday card arrived safely Mollie and that you had a wonderful birthday. I am sure that you enjoyed your dinner dance and weekend away. A great way to celebrate and we have organised a welcome combined with birthday party with all our friends when you arrive. We have scheduled for a couple of days later so that you are over your jet lag.

As you will see this is written from the Marriott hotel in Seattle. As usual we managed to have a few hiccups getting here, with delays at the airport and then waiting to get our hire car. We arrived eventually at midday rather than 10.00 a.m, but we drove to the hotel and dumped our bags before heading for the mountains. David’s first meeting is not until tomorrow morning and we want to take full advantage of our short time here.

Whilst San Francisco is my favourite city so far, this has to be the most beautiful state we have seen next to Hawaii. Of course it is the right time of year being autumn, the trees are magnificent and the scenery breathtaking. Back in Houston the weather is still quite warm and muggy and I am still swimming every day. Here is it cold with snow on the upper slopes and I had thankfully dug out my winter clothes that have not seen the light of day since we arrived in Texas in January.

We drove about 150 miles and ended up in a state park. It was amazing to watch salmon and trout cleverly evading the solitary fly fisherman up to his waist in the freezing water. They did say that we might see bears but thankfully we were the only spectators. We also found a shop selling the most beautiful semi-precious stones that you can scoop out of a barrel and buy by weight. A natural reminder of this amazing place rather than some of the souvenirs also on display.

David’s meeting is over by lunchtime hopefully leaving us another four hours to explore Seattle before heading to the airport. Certainly a place that I would like to return to at some point and spend more time in the wilds.

Your visit is getting closer and perhaps in your next letter you could confirm your flight number and arrival time. It can be a little confusing on arrival as there are a number of stages to go through – Immigration, collect baggage, go through customs, deposit luggage again and then go downstairs to pick it up again.

I will be waiting for you when you have been through customs. We can then go down together to reclaim your luggage.

In my next letter I will enclose David’s business card and our home address as you have to fill in a form on the plane. The immigration people will ask you the length of your stay, whether it is business or pleasure and where you will be staying. They will also ask to see your return ticket. I will enclose some dollar bills for the luggage cart from immigration to customs. I will send several as they are notorious for not accepting some bills that might be torn or damaged.

It is all very straightforward really but less stressful if you are prepared. Get that over with and we can get on with enjoying ourselves. All our excursions are planned and booked and one of the treats that I am looking forward to is going to the Renaissance Festival which I have heard is spectacular. Also Daddy… hopefully we will fulfil one of your boyhood dreams…

A week on Friday I am flying to New York to meet up with David and his boss in the middle of their grand tour touching base with their potential customers. Another iconic city to add to the wish list and I am excited by the prospect of seeing the Empire State Building etc.

Well that’s about it for now, under four weeks to go and we are looking forward to seeing you both very much.

Take care and all our love Sally and David. X

©Sally Cronin 2018

Thanks for dropping in and hope you have enjoyed our Hawaiian adventure…All the letters are in this directory:



Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hullaba Lulu 11.2

As I wind down for the evening I will leave you in the capable hands of Teagan Geneviene. It is Jazz Age Wednesday and we are all aboard the train along with Lulu, Pearl, Rose, Granpa, Valentino and of course the angel bots. Who are very excited by the arrival of the famous Tesla along with a piece of equipment that might help improve Valentino’s chances of sticking around for a while. In the meantime Nikola Tesla may have to find something to keep Pearl at a distance… she has an experiment of her own in mind…..Brilliant artwork as always from Robert Goldstein who captures the era so perfectly.

Teagan's Books

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tesla no hat Conducting-1-1Who’s your papa?  Art by Rob Goldstein

Welcome everyone.  The diesel-punk train has arrived at Jazz Age Wednesdays.  It’s great to see all you Sheiks and Shebas!  Artist, Rob Goldstein  created the pos-i-lutely swell images for this episode.  If you need a comprehensive review of this serial, Rob has a post with links to many of the past chapters

Previously with Hullaba Lulu

When we left Lulu and the crew, Valentino’s train had crashed into a sand dune in Egypt.  Pearl apologized for suggesting Lulu and her family weren’t good enough, but Lulu could tell she didn’t really mean it.

Then they saw an automobile speeding across the sands toward the train.  The angel-bots acted very excited when they spotted it.  

“It’s Papá!” Moon cried.

This time

This episode is low key compared to others.  However, we can see that Pearl…

View original post 1,742 more words

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday 18th July 2018 – Frank Parker, Alexis Ryder and Kristina Stanley

Welcome to my small selection of blog posts I have enjoyed this last couple of days and the first is from Frank Parker who has a date with author Ceri Bladen.

A Date With… Ceri Bladen

My date this time describes herself as “a Welsh girl who now lives in Turkey with her family.” When she is not writing or drawing, she loves to cook with fresh produce from the market, and look after her “thirty-odd street cats and one street dog”.

I was curious about her choice of Turkey, given it’s poor human rights reputation, as a suitable place to bring up a family. Her experience gives the lie to that reputation:

“I enjoyed many years teaching primary-aged children in beautiful Swansea. Although I never dreamed of giving up my chosen career, my life shifted focus when I had a set of twins and another child just seventeen months later. My husband and I had waited seven years to have children so when we were blessed with them, they became our main priority. I decided to take time away from my profession to enjoy time with them.

While they were toddlers we spent a couple of weeks a year in Turkey on holiday. After a while we decided to move there for a couple of years.

Turkey is a friendly, family-orientated place, as anyone who has visited will know.

In our twelve years living there, we found the Turkish people welcoming and have never once thought it a ‘far from ideal’ place to raise a family; in fact, quite the opposite. They have been able to experience an idyllic outdoor childhood; they have acquired another language; learned about a different religion, and culture; and have had the opportunity to travel. Our focus in life has always been the children, and we are proud that our Turkish lifestyle has enabled them to grow into socially adaptable, polite teenagers.”

Head over and find out more about Ceri Bladen and her Viking books:

Frank Parker is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Frank Parker, Buy:

A new blog to me but one I am sure I will enjoy...Stories I have Never a collection of moments that have shaped Alexis Ryder’s life…


Shortly after my grandmother was diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, my mother decided we should take a trip to her home country; Uruguay. Her doctor said it might benefit her to see familiar sights and people from her past. The timing was good; she was lucid enough to know what was going on most of the time, and she was definitely still lucid enough to complain, which is one of her favourite activities.

On the third day of our family vacation, we took a road trip across the tiny South American country. The six of us piled into this rickety old van that we’d rented and hit the open road. Throughout the ride, when she was not asleep, my grandmother complained abut my father’s driving and of the various potholes we hit.

Around midday, we stopped at a tourist attraction that my cousin had recommended. It was about three hours out of the capital city. We took a few wrong turns before arriving at this huge metal bull, whose brass balls we had to rub for good luck. My grandmother complained about the steep hill that led to the bull and of the lewdness of the tradition.

Read the rest of this delightful post:

And last but not least… a post from Kristina Stanley whose guest is author Tracy L. Ward talking about Canadian History.

You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar I Did My Research by Tracy L. Ward

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Canadian history just isn’t that interesting,” I could retire a very wealthy woman. It seems, in comparison to the oft romanticized aspects of American history (a rebellion for liberty from British rule, a civil war to free the enslaved and multiple presidential assassinations) any history Canadians have been a part of feels downright yawn worthy.

How did we become a county? We held a meeting and signed some papers. Yawn. How did slavery in Canada end? Well, Britain ended their involvement in the slave trade and we just kind of followed suit. Both these major events seem passive on our part, nothing revolutionary, nothing to write home about.

A lot of our apathy toward our own history comes down to how it’s taught. It’s standard practice to focus on dates, politician’s names and outcomes of battle. But what if I told you this is exactly the WRONG way to approach history?

I certainly had my fair share of “read this, fill in the blanks on this” history classes. If this is the only type of history class that young people are exposed to no wonder adult Canadians aren’t that particularly interested.

How did I get hooked on history?

Read the rest of this interesting guest post:

Kristina Stanley is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Kristina Stanley, Buy

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Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will explore these posts further.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – Manganese and the link to Asthma

Last week I mentioned that there is a link between a number of chronic diseases including Asthma and Manganese. There have been studies that show that those suffering from asthma were also deficient in the mineral.  Although you will see that there is a genetic link to asthma, the respiratory system requires certain nutrients to be healthy. With the current trend to remove grain and other carbohydrates from the diet, there is a number of minerals that can become deficient, one of which is manganese.

First a look at Asthma.

Asthma can be a childhood condition that is hereditary or associated with allergies, that is grown out of by puberty. Or, later on in life as a result of work and lifestyle related ingestion of chemicals including smoking or nutritional deficiency. Here is more about the disease.

What is asthma?

The actual word asthma comes from the Greek azein meaning to breathe hard. It is an intermittent disease unlike chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

The bronchial tubes in the lungs are made of muscle and a mucus membrane. During an asthma attack this mucus membrane becomes inflamed and swollen causing the muscles to contract and create spasms. Air movement is restricted and as it tries to escape from the bronchi it causes the wheezing which is the most common symptom of asthma.

Attacks vary in severity but they can easily spiral out of control, particularly in young children who are more inclined to panic. If the attack is not controlled either by medication or relaxation techniques there is a danger that the airways will close completely cutting off the supply of oxygen to the major organs and the rest of the body.

What causes asthma?

The word syndrome, when associated with a disease, implies that the cause is usually unknown and this is the case with Asthma. Until recently Asthma was divided into two types, allergic (Extrinsic) and non-allergic (Intrinsic).

There is a genetic link to this disease with over half of diagnosed cases being hereditary.

Researchers have now discovered a number of classifications within the two main recognised causes that help isolate possible triggers.

Over 90% of asthma sufferers are going to be suffering from allergic asthma and the triggers for this are very widespread. It could be from pets, cigarette smoke, pollen, dust mites, foods and other common pollutants such as chemicals in the workplace.

When children suffer from asthma it is considered to be the allergic kind and there is evidence to suggest that boys are more at risk than girls are.This may be because until the early 20s, the male airway is slightly narrower which increases the difficulty in breathing.

There are a number of possible food triggers that might be responsible but there is a definite link between smoking and pregnancy. If the mother smokes the foetus will not have mature lungs at birth. If the mother or other people around the baby continue to smoke the exposure will trigger an asthma attack.

What are the most common asthma triggers?

This list is not exhaustive but does represent the most common allergens that are likely to trigger an asthma attack.

  • · Additives and preservatives in food such as tartrazine and sulphites.
  • · Alcohol
  • · Air conditioning
  • · Animal saliva and urine
  • · Animal mites
  • · Chemicals
  • · Cold air
  • · Colds and upper respiratory infections
  • · Drug reactions (anaphylactic shock to aspirin, tetanus)
  • · Dust mites and their droppings
  • · Exercise
  • · Fungal infections such as Candida
  • · Fumes from paints
  • · Hair products such as sprays and colorants
  • · High humidity
  • · Nuts
  • · Pillows containing feathers
  • · Plastics, PVC and latex
  • · Sawdust
  • · Shellfish
  • · Smoke
  • · Solvents
  • · Stress
  • · Tobacco smoke
  • · Tree and grass pollens.

If a child seems to suffer from a persistent hacking, or congested cough it might indicate the onset of asthma and it is a very good idea to get them checked by a doctor immediately.

Signs in a young baby that they may be asthmatic.

  • A very young baby may suffer from a persistent cough and also have strange muscular contractions in between the rib cage when inhaling.
  • A baby might flare at the nostrils when feeding indicating that it is having breathing difficulties.
  • If the baby is breathing more than 40 times per minute when sleeping, then you should mention it to your doctor right away.

What about non-allergic asthma?

Non- Allergic asthma is not likely in children and tends to develop in adults in their 40’s. This may be an accumulative exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, smoking, perfumes, a tendency towards upper respiratory tract infections or intolerance to cold air. There are some indications that people who suffer from severe indigestion, including reflux, may also be at risk of an asthma attack.

If there is a family risk of allergies, including asthma, there is a possibility that strenuous exercise could trigger an attack. A combination of increased breathing rate with a loss of heat and moisture in the lungs can cause coughing throughout the exercise. In cold and dry weather the symptoms may develop into a full-blown asthma attack.

When is an attack likely to take place?

An attack can take place at any time but it is very common at night and for some reason the most likely time is between midnight and 4 am. There are a number of possible causes such as mites and dry skin cells in the bedclothes and also sleeping position and fluctuations in bedroom temperature. Being night-time only serves to make the attack even more frightening than normal, particularly for children, or if it is the first attack the sufferer has experienced.

What are the common symptoms of an asthma attack?

It is very important to prevent the early symptoms from escalating into a full-blown asthma attack and it is just as vital for family and friends to understand and recognise the initial signs so that they can support and help the victim.

The most common signs are a dry persistent cough with breathlessness followed by a tight feeling in the chest. As I have already mentioned, wheezing is very likely, as are signs of a panic attack. The victim is likely to become very agitated with sweating and increased pulse rate. The natural instinct is to rid the airways of the inflamed mucus and coughing is the body’s way of achieving this.

As the attack progresses to an acute stage there will be evidence of lack of oxygen by way of a bluish tint around the lips, face, gums and nail beds. It is vital that medical assistance is called urgently.

Picture1How can you help someone who is suffering an asthma attack?

It is very important that you keep calm. The ability to breath is fundamental and when that is restricted it is extremely hard not to panic and you will need to help them keep focused until medical assistance reaches you. A person who has been asthmatic most of their lives will have an inhaler and will be practised in dealing with the situation while waiting for help, but there will be occasions when an attack happens unexpectedly or for the first time and in that case you will need to be active to ensure their best chances of recovery.

As with a heart attack the sitting position is the best for the person to adopt, probably upright on the edge of a bed or sofa with something to lean on in front of them.

Keep reassuring them and try to get them to breathe deeply and evenly with you and this is easier if you are in front of them and they are focused on your mouth and eyes.

Pursed lip breathing is used by both asthmatics and athletes to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide in the restricted airways. They need to inhale as normal through the nose and then exhale by “blowing” out the air quite vigorously. This stretches the bronchial tubes and helps get rid of the excess carbon dioxide.

Keep reassuring them that everything will be fine and that help is on the way.

How can an attack be prevented?

In this modern world it is virtually impossible to remove all the possible triggers from an individual’s environment. You can take steps in the home to remove potential culprits although if you love your cat or dog it is certainly not easy.

With pets you need to minimise the areas that their dander and mites can gather such as carpets and soft furnishings. Marble or wood floors are a great deal more hygienic than carpeting, especially in the bedroom. Don’t allow pets on the furniture or beds and always make sure that hands are washed after handling them.

If there are rugs in the house then they need to be vacuumed every day. The same goes for sofas and chairs. Bedding needs special attention and pillows and duvets should contain man-made fillings not feathers. Change linen as frequently as possible and make sure that it is washed at 55°C (130°F) to kill any dust mites and remove allergens. Use organic washing powders to reduce the risk of a reaction.

For children it is not only the family pet that might cause a reaction. Stuffed toys can also be well loved and handled. Stick teddy in the freezer for 24 hours every few days and this will kill off dust mites. Change a child’s bed linen every day as well as pyjamas.

What about food triggers for asthma?

As I have already mentioned there are certain additives and preservatives that could trigger an asthma attack. There are also certain foods that can cause a reaction and these are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy products, wheat, fish and shellfish.

My advice is to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks and monitor your symptoms in relation to food eaten within a twelve hour period. If you find a pattern emerging you need to stop that particular food for at least six weeks and see if your asthma improves.

Experts believe that relatively few asthmatics are actually affected by these food triggers but they are known allergens, that can cause anaphylactic shock in some people, so should be suspect.

There has been some research into the effect of casein, which is a milk protein and a known allergen on the increasing rates of asthma in children, particularly those in deprived areas. The premise is that children in these areas are given a great deal of milk and cheese through welfare agencies and as a result asthma rates have increased significantly in relation to children in other environments.

It has been proved in other studies that eating dairy products increases the levels of mucus and as it is the inflammation of the mucus in the bronchial tubes that results in asthma attacks, it makes sense to consider dairy products as a major suspect food. However, it is important to find an alternative to dairy that is not loaded with highly processed soya, rice or nuts and sugar. Check the labels and if after six weeks there is no improvement to the asthma then it is unlikely to be dairy products that are the culprits. You may find that changing to goat’s milk and cheese is effective.

In addition to foods that we eat naturally in our diet, there are also hidden dangers in processed foods and if you are a regular visitor you will know that I prefer the ‘Cook From Scratch’ method of all food preparation.

I rarely advocate eliminating any food permanently but in the case of life-threatening allergic food reactions, there are some compelling reasons for not eating foods that you strongly suspect of triggering an asthma attack.

If you eliminate the suspect foods that I mentioned completely, for at least six weeks and then re-introduce them, in a much diluted form, you will be able to determine if there is any reaction.

There are also a number of allergy testing services available – but make sure that they are reputable and that any elimination of foods is carefully monitored and the effects measured from week to week.

Is there anything else that will decrease the risk of asthma attacks?

It is very important to maintain a healthy immune system. The last thing an asthmatic needs is to suffer from frequent infections, particularly of the upper respiratory tract. Colds and bronchitis are potentially very damaging to the already weakened respiratory system so a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables is essential.

Exercise is also very important, especially walking, which is unlikely to trigger an exercise related attack unless the air is very cold. If you are exercising outside in the winter it is important to wear a scarf around your lower face to ensure that air is warmed before entering the nasal passages and airways.

Lifting weights under supervision will help develop the muscles in the thorax and help control breathing more effectively. Swimming is another great exercise to strengthen lungs and also the diaphragm

Relaxation is another key factor, especially at the onset of an attack, and many sufferers find that yoga techniques help them relieve the stress and prevent the attack from escalating.

Link to Manganese.

As I mentioned in the post on Manganese earlier in the week there is a link to a deficiency of this micro mineral and asthma. There are a couple of studies that seem to support that the lack of fruit and vegetables that contain Vitamin C and manganese in the diet; may result in an increased risk of asthma.

Here is the list of foods that contain manganese as well as the antioxidants required to build a healthy immune system… Your first line defence against most chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease.

Include Beans, spinach, brown rice, tomatoes, walnuts, asparagus, pineapples, wholegrains, porridge oats, dark green leafy vegetables, raspberries and strawberries regularly during the week.

If you cook with herbs and spices basil, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper and oregano; they too will add manganese to your diet.

Next week.. how to prepare beans without the wind factor… and still get your manganese and several other important nutrients..

©Just food for health 1998- 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Google + :

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #Free Books – Olga Nunez Miret, Paul Andruss and Sally Cronin

Welcome to the second of the Summer Sale posts where authors in the bookstore are offering their books FREE. That would include one of my books which I have put in the sale too.

N.B: There are still three places left for Saturday 21st Summer Sale for books that are currently FREE on Amazon or Smashwords. If you are in the cafe and bookstore and would like to feature one of your books please email me the link.

There is no pressure but it would be amazing if you could see your way to reviewing the books that you download, and if you don’t have an account on Amazon, popping it on Goodreads.

But first Olga Nunez Miret is offering her novella Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings FREE this month.  It is timely as Olga is currently finalising the English version of the next book in the series Escaping Psychiatry : Deadly Quotes due for an end of summer release. You can find out more about the new book Deadly Quotes

About Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.

One of the reviews for the book

Wendy Unsworth  Great story -Introducing a new Sleuth!  November 9, 2016

This short story is titled ‘beginnings’ and introduces Mary Miller, a psychiatrist who has been indulging in a little self analysis and having some doubts about her own profession or at least her place in it. She needs a break and Phil, a lawyer friend, comes to the rescue, inviting her to come and stay.

The offer is tempting for Mary, even though Phil is open about her possibly accompanying to his office to meet with a client on a consultancy basis, she is not put off. Indeed, she is rather intrigued by the prospect.

The client turns out to be Oliver Fenton, a famous author who is accused of using unnecessary force when fending off a stalker who has been harassing him for some time. Of course all not what it seems.

If there is such a thing as a cosy, medical mystery maybe this is where this story would lie. Mary is a thoroughly likeable character but also intriguing. There is obviously more to her than meets the eye, as you would expect from someone of her profession. She is clever and discerning and possibly a little unaware of her true talents. Perhaps here we have a Miss Marple of the psychiatric world, though I imagine her a lot younger and quite attractive! (No offence meant, Miss Marple)

As mentioned, this is the ‘beginning’ of cases for Mary Miller. I look forward to reading more, an ideal and enjoyable read between lengthier books.

Read the reviews and download the book FREE:

And FREE on Amazon UK:

A selection of other books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret

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Read the reviews and buy the books Amazon

And on Amazon UK:úñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

Read more reviews and follow Olga on Goodreads

Audio books

Connect to Olga via her website:

And for those of you who have enjoyed reading the regular posts on myths and legends and gardening… then you might like to download Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss for FREE. I read the book and reviewed it last year and loved it, and can recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, fairy tales, magic and adventure. It is suitable for 11 years and older.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

About Thomas the Rhymer

‘Fans of Harry Potter and Narnia will love Thomas the Rhymer’

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…

No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives. And even if they find her… will she let them go?

One of the reviews for the book

Just about the worst thing that can happen to any family is the disappearance of a child. This is exactly what happens in Jack’s family and, worse still, Jack is a witness to his older brother’s sudden and troubling disappearance.

The facts of the disappearance are very peculiar and, subsequent to his disappearance, Jack receives strange telephone calls from his brother, Dan, on his cell phone. When he answers, Dan says nothing and the line goes dead. Jack finds himself unable to tell anyone about what his saw that day, as soon as he tries he starts to choke and can’t utter a word. Then a strange tramp appears who speaks only in rhymes. The tramp, whom only Jack can see, seems to be able to pass through walls and disappear at will. All of this is against a background of stress at home due to Jack’s mother suffering from a chronic illness.

Jack finds himself embroiled in the magical kingdom of the fairies and soon discovers that their failing world is tinged with evil. Jack and his friends experience an array of mystical and strange happenings including travelling by fairy ley lines and disappearing into a living tapestry.

Author Paul Andruss has an expert knowledge of mythical creatures and the world of the fairies which he shares with the reader using the most beautiful and expressive language. He pulls you into this fairy world, which exists in parallel to our own and which is fraught with difficulties due to human technology and progress. This book also shares valuable lessons about everything not being as it appears to be and the value of strong friendships.

Who is the strange tramp and what does he want from Jack? Can he help Jack to find his brother and bring him back before it is too late?

A few beautiful quotes from this book are as follows:

“Beautiful,” she signed, mesmerized by the shifting hues washing over the weave like skeins of mist.”

“Drifts of heady perfume left Jack heavy-eyed, yet giddy with recklessness.”

“The tramp was back on Mr Gibson’s wall. All he could think about was the poem. Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there… He wasn’t there again today… I wish that man would GO AWAY!”

This book is suitable for readers aged from 11 years and older. Adult readers will also appreciate the delightful prose, beautiful imagery and clever story line.

Read the reviews and download the book for FREE:

And for FREE on Amazon UK:

Also by Paul Andruss

Available Amazon UK:

And Amazon US:

Which brings me to my FREE book from today until midnight on Sunday 22nd July. I am offering my first volume of What’s in a Name either as a Mobi file for Kindle, Epub for other readers and as a pdf for anyone who does not have an Ereader.

Because I am not part of Kindle publishing, I will ask you to email me and I will send you back the format of your choice. I promise not to pester you with emails after that for feedback or any other reason.

About What’s in a Name? Volume One.

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

One of the reviews for the collection

This was a beautiful collection of short stories with an intriguing premise: each story is titled by the name of its main character, and there is one story with a male name and one with a female name for each letter of the alphabet (through J–Vol. II completes the alphabet).

The way I describe it is far less simple than Sally Cronin makes it. The stories vary widely. Some are funny, some poignant, some teach a lesson. A couple of them made me cry, which is why I recommend that you have a box of tissues nearby when you read the collection.

The one thing that each story does have is a surprising twist at the end–something the reader doesn’t see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection and look forward eagerly to reading Volume II.

To obtain your FREE copy of the collection in either Mobi, Epub or pdf email me:

A selection of other books available

Read the reviews and discover all the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads:

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will download the books on offer.. or email me for mine.. Thanks Sally



Children’s Books Readathon – WINNING Books & Schedule (August 2018)

Another fantastic opportunity for the school holidays is the Children’s book readathon taking place in August courtesy of James J. Cudney – and fantastic news is that Robbie Cheadle and the Sir Chocolate Series is included. You will also find a comprehensive list of children’s books by grade that should give you plenty of ideas. #recommended

This Is My Truth Now

Thank you to all the voters and authors for the Children’s Readathon we’re holding next month. There were a few ties and a couple of last minute additions before the final round of voting, so I broke the vote for any open items to land at a total of 10  books for August. Congratulations to our participating bloggers. Below is our schedule for the winning books. You can join in and read any or all of the books with us — options from 1, 2, 3 or all 4 weeks!

  • Picture Books – Read 8/4 to 8/9, Post Review on 8/10
    • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    • Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
    • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Award Winners – Read 8/11 to 8/16, Post Review on 8/17
    • Winnie the Pooh #1 by A. A. Milne
    • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    • Don’t Let the…

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Write a Haiku & Get the Kids Writing Too!

Most of us have sunny days at the moment but during the school holidays it can be a problem keeping the children occupied when it is raining.. here is something for a rainy day courtesy of Bette Stevens.. and it will encourage a new generation of poets…#Haiku

Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

Let nature inspire you…

Our rock garden at the Farmstead is singing. The columbine were so glorious this season they inspired me to write “The Choral Debut,”  a haiku (Japanese-inspired, non-rhyming three-line: 5-7-5 syllable poem). I hope The Choral Debut inspires you to get outdoors and let nature sing its songs to you. 

The Choral Debut

HAIKU by Bette A. Stevens

Rising with the sun

Pristine perennials join

The choral début

I enjoy designing  posters to go with my poems and often use photos I have taken. As a former teacher (now retired) in grades four through eight, I’ve learned that kids of all ages love writing poetry and like me, they enjoy illustrating their poems too. It’s simple and it’s so much fun to tell a story in the three short lines of Haiku. Of course, you can write as many stanzas as you wish. I invite you to give…

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Top Ten Things Not to Do When You Have a Sitter

John Howell with one of his 10 things not to do… when I was a teenager I did a lot of baby sitting and there were quite a few of these reminders that I resonated with!!!!! #recommended

Fiction Favorites

Top Ten things not to do

The inspiration for this list was a discussion about Alexa and what would happen if one asked Alexa remotely to turn on the lights and music while a sitter was in the house. That was just the priming of the pump I needed to develop Ten Things.

10 If you have a sitter, do not say, “Help yourself to anything in the fridge.” If you do, at best the sitter will be on a diet. At worst, that weeks worth of shopping that you just put in the fridge will need to be replaced tomorrow. (It is amazing how someone so small can put away that kind of food huh, Eaton?)

9 If you have a sitter, do not ask Alexa to turn on the lights and music from a remote location. If you do, at best the sitter will call the police. At worst, Tiny the WWF champ who was…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Carol Cooks #Rice – Savoury and Sweet.

Carol Cook’s…..Rice

Welcome I hope you enjoyed the salads last week and your sunny weather is still continuing. This week I thought we would have a change as rice is one of the staple foods here as well as noodles. Rice comes in so many different varieties here and colours … Many different types of white rice which includes Jasmine rice, Brown rice also comes in many different types and we get the glutinous rice which doesn’t as the name might suggest contain Gluten it means it is sticky rice and as is all rice in its natural form gluten free and of course not forgetting the wild rice and the black rice which is one of my favourites.

We grow our own rice and currently because of all the rain the weeds are growing like mad…Once the rice is harvested we store it in our rice store and generally it is enough until the next crop of rice…Rice is found on all the markets in many grades and colours.

The glutinous rice is cooked in a steamer after having been soaked in water for at least an hour once ready it is then transferred to a rice pot just like my ones which pictured above which come in very small to very large. The small ones the kids might take to school and the huge ones you would see on the markets where they sell the rice to take away with BBQ Pork or chicken and Some Tam (Papaya Salad) which is a very popular take away food. Many Thais don’t either have cooking facilities or don’t cook at home but buy or stop on the way home from work to pick up food.

Rice for sale at the local market always such a variety on offer.

Firstly I will talk about glutinous rice which is eaten far more in rural areas and in the North of Thailand places like Puce caters more for tourism so it is sold but not available at every restaurant.

Sticky rice as it is called is eaten with your hands…rolled into a small ball and eaten with either your SomTam or BBQ meat or fish dish…

It is also sold in bamboo and mixed with coconut or red beans these are sold by the road side or on local markets.

Or steamed in banana leaves with banana or topped with pork floss. Doesn’t it look pretty?

Tri- coloured sticky rice with pork or onion floss.

Sticky rice is also an iconic dish which many tourists eat the rice is steamed in coconut milk and served with mango. Very nice and probably one of my favourite deserts it is not too big or too sweet …I am not really a dessert person as you have probably gathered as I don’t post many pudding or desserts unless it is coming up to Christmas .

Sticky rice with mango…

To make this at home is very easy… First, steam some glutinous rice.

To prepare the milk:

Heat 1 cup of coconut milk in a pot over medium heat. Stir constantly and let the coconut milk simmer. DO NOT let it boil hard as coconut milk will curdle. Also, make sure that the coconut milk you buy is 100% pure as I have been informed by my son that where he lives in the UK all coconut milk sold is not 100% and that definitely separates on heating to high.

Then add 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 pinches of salt. Remove from heat. Pour 3/4 of the hot coconut milk over 1 cup of the hot sticky rice. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The hot sticky rice will absorb all the coconut milk. The rice should be a little mushy.

Spoon the rest of the coconut milk on top of the rice at the serving time.


Fried rice is very popular here eaten by many who prefer something which is very mild to the taste and given to children …

Cooked using Jasmine rice with the addition of soy sauce and fish sauce it is different to Chinese fried rice which only has soy sauce.

Fried rice comes in many guises with prawns and seafood, pineapple, chicken, pork or just egg fried rice …Often served in a scooped out pineapple in restaurants which adds to the prettiness and charm…

This is my recipe for pineapple fried rice…

The pineapple fried rice with prawns and cashew nuts is not spicy. You’ll love its mix of flavours and textures.

It’s also a nice Thai dish to prepare and enjoy with children.

This recipe will serve 4 persons.


• 2 small pineapples
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 100 g cashew nuts
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 500 g prawns
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 800 g cooked rice

Let’s Cook

Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Cut the flesh in 1 cm cubes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Stir-fry cashew nuts, garlic and prawns for about 1 to 2 minutes (until the prawns are pink).

Push to one side. Add beaten eggs and scramble them.

Add pineapple, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Stir-fry briefly and then add rice. Mix well.

Taste to see if extra fish sauce or sugar is needed.

Serve with cucumber slices, lime, spring onions, and coriander, fresh or flaked dry chilli.


Black rice is my favourite rice and we grow a small amount on the farm but as I am really the only one apart from Saangchai who likes it …It is enough to sell some and for me …

I will also explain that dogs here eat rice not dog biscuits or tinned food but rice I cook Saangchai fresh food, and all Thai dogs are the same they will turn their noses up at dog chews and the like. Even the rescue Soi dogs that I buy chicken and rice for are fine, and I once bought some treats and they wouldn’t eat them they were still there the next day…

And of course a bone to go with the rice…

Black rice or Raspberry rice as it is sometimes called here is really nice. I eat it with any recipe I make, even Indian food in fact.

My Pork /chicken Masala with black rice.


• 500gm Chicken./Pork
• 2 tbsp Oil.
• 1 large Onion chopped
• 2 Large tomatoes pureed.
• 1-2 sprigs Curry Leaves.
• 1 Bay Leaf( Optional)
• 2/3 tbsp Masala powder(recipe below)


• 1/8th tsp Turmeric.
• 1/4 tsp Chilli Powder.
• 2 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tbsp Natural Yoghurt.
• 4 garlic cloves chopped finely.
• 1in piece fresh ginger chopped finely.
• Salt as required.

Masala Powder recipe :

• 2 tbsp black pepper
• 8 red chillies
• 1 ½ tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 ½ tbsp coconut flesh
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 star anise
• 4 cloves
• 2 1 ‘ stick cinnamon
• 2 tbsp fennel seeds
• 10 curry leaves

Let’s Cook!

To make Masala Powder.

Dry roast all of the spices , stir occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Once the spices have released there flavours then turn out the contents onto a plate to cool down.

Once cooled down then blitz in batches into a powder. Transfer into a container with a sealed lid and store in a dark dry cupboard.

This powder should be ample for 3- 4 curries depending on how hot you like your curry.

Marinade the chicken.

Add oil to pan and cook onions until golden, Add 2/3 tbsp of Masala mix and stir.

Add chicken, curry leaves and tomatoes.

Add little water, bring to slow boil and reduce heat to simmer until chicken cooked.

Serve with boiled rice, Mango Chutney and or Nan bread. Below is my recipe for mango chutney.

Serve with Nan bread or mango chutney and boiled rice.

This is a lovely curry well-flavoured and not over the top spicy .

That’s all for this week …Until next week enjoy the sun and have fun xx

©Carol Taylor 2018

Rice is a staple in our household and I shall certainly be mixing it up with Carol’s recipes.. and I cannot thank her enough for all the time and effort she puts in to produce these posts.

The other posts in the Food and Cookery Column can be found in this directory:

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

Connect to Carol


If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here:

Thank you for dropping in today and Carol would be delighted to answer any of your questions and we always enjoy your feedback. Thanks Sally