Saturday Morning Coffee – Variety with Sarah Vernon, Mary Smith and Nicholas Rossis


Variety is the spice of life.

I use this term to refer to my blog and if I am honest; my life. I have led a nomadic existence for most of my life beginning with my father’s life in the Royal Navy and then with my husband David. By the time I was fourteen and returned to Portsmouth in the UK to study for O’levels, I had been in seven different schools and lived in three very different countries for six years. Since then that pattern has continued and as we reach our 35th Wedding Anniversary next month David and I have racked up 17 addresses in five more countries.

I have loved the variety and also the experiences that have moved from my memories into my writing. As I get to know my fellow bloggers and writers through their work, it is clear that our past experiences are a very rich source of inspiration for the work we do now.

My guests today all have fascinating lives in one aspect or another. Sarah Vernon grew up as part of a renowned acting family before following in their footsteps and also becoming a highly successful designer. Mary Smith travelled from Scotland to England and then on to Pakistan and then Afghanistan before a new career as a journalist and author. Nicholas Rossis enjoyed a wonderful upbringing in rural Greece before heading to university to study Civil Engineering and Digital Architecture as a prelude to becoming an award winning fantasy and children’s author.

Before we meet this morning’s guests here are some of the quotes about Variety… And I am rather fond of the words of Ogden Nash.

 “Varietys the very spice of life That gives it all its flavour.
     William Cowper (1731-1800)

“Variety is not the spice of life. It is the very stuff of it.
     Christopher Burney (1917–1980)

“I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life, particularly if he has income and she is pattable.
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Time to get the coffee on…..

I cannot do my guests justice in the space of a brief coffee morning so hope that you will follow their links to connect with them elsewhere..

My first guest today epitomises the meaning of creativity. An actress for over 30 years on screen and stage, Sarah Vernon is also an incredibly talented and successful designer and writer.

sarah two

I have chosen Italian Macchiato to accompany Sarah’s favourite amaretti biscuits.


Sarah comes from a long line of sailors on her father’s side and in the more recent past a renowned theatrical family. Her father was the stage and screen actor Richard Vernon and her mother Benedicta Leigh, an actress and author.

After completing her Acting Diploma at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art Sarah has worked in the theatre and television for the last 30 years

For those of us lucky enough to have discovered her blog and websites, we have been treated to her original and elegant First Night Design creations which adorn posters, cards, household items and some wonderful clothes and accessories.

As a blogger Sarah has delighted with her websites including Rogues&Vagabonds founded in 2001, provided a wonderful look behind the scenes of British Theatre and from time to time further afield with some additional features on television and the big screen. Perhaps ‘lift the lid’ might be more appropriate as theatrical history comes alive through interviews with actors, actresses, playwrights and directors who are talking to one of their own. Sarah is slowly reposting these interviews, reviews and other features, reaching a new and appreciative following of the creative arts and history.

Get to know Sarah a little more in her interview for the Sunday Show last year and here is an excerpt.

With your love of history is there a particular era that you would like to go back to or would you prefer to go forward to the future and why?

Funnily enough, I’ve just answered the same question on a post about time machines by Pete Johnson of BeetleyPete []. The answer is very personal. I’d go back to the Edwardian era because apart from loving the dresses of the period and being curious about the reality of the first decade of the 20th century and the supposedly endless sunny summers before The Great War, I’d like to meet my maternal forebears and find out what made them tick so that I could understand more of what came after, both emotionally and psychologically. I’d also whizz back to the Regency era to meet Jane Austen to whom I’m related through our mothers! I know, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it, that there are so many famous people in my background. I can’t quite believe it and there are times when it embarrasses me hugely. There are actually what I deem to be far more interesting forebears on my mother’s side than my father’s. You’ll have to read future posts on First Night History to find out who! Mind you, that’s if I ever get the time to write them.

Her designs are stunning with a range of household and personal gifts that are both varied and unique. Here is one example of a cushion using an Italian theme..


Casanova’s Waterway © Sarah Vernon FAA Cushion

You can find out more about the inspiration behind this design on the website.

And if like me; you are into handbags… this will certainly be a welcome addition to your collection.


Sarah’s work is available on Zazzle, Saatchi Art, Fine Art England and other design websites and you can link to all of them here.

Connect with Sarah on Social Media

My second guest today took her incredible experiences in Pakistan and Afghanistan and turned them into a book that has received great reviews; No More More Mulberries


I have chosen Shir Chai Tea and a cream filled meringue for Mary. I am not sure if she drank Shir Chai Tea when she lived in Afghanistan but hope that she enjoys. I have chosen meringue as Mary mentioned it in a comment a week or so ago.


‘Another afternoon tea incident I don’t remember (I suspect I was in the ‘terrible twos’ stage of my life) but heard the story several times was when I wanted the meringue on the cake stand. On being told I had to eat my bread and butter first I started screaming’.

Mary has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

No More Mulberries.


About the Book

Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.


As a freelance journalist Mary has written for both local and national papers and magazines including the The Galloway News, The Dumfries & Galloway Standard, The Herald, Guardian Weekly and Horse & Rider.

She has some terrific examples of her articles on her website including an interview with one of my favourite singers Barbara Dickson.

This is where the variety the spice of life comes in! Here are some excerpts from interviews with the links to the full articles.

‘I am from Scotland. I was born on the island of Islay, left there when I was seven and grew up in Dumfries & Galloway. I lived in Lancashire in England for a time, where I worked for Oxfam. I went to Pakistan for what turned out to be a life-changing experience and found myself signing up to work at a leprosy centre in Karachi for three years. After that I went to Afghanistan. Altogether I had ten amazing years in Pakistan and Afghanistan before returning to Dumfries & Galloway and town where I grew up’

What has inspired you to write No More Mulberries?

Two things really: firstly my women friends in Afghanistan are the inspiration behind this book. The western media tends to portray Afghan women as downtrodden victims, who have no voice in a male-dominated society. I wanted to show that is not the whole truth. Yes, life is tough for women (and men), and there is poverty and lack of amenities, particularly in the rural areas, but there is also fun and laughter, hope and a dogged determination to make the most of life. The second thing was a ‘what if?’ moment, as I began to wonder how a woman from the west would cope with life in Afghanistan married to an Afghan. Would their love for each other be enough to overcome the cultural difficulties and past histories they kept hidden from each other?

Buy Mary’s books
Author page:

Connect to Mary
Facebook address:
Blogs: and  


Last but not least Nicholas Rossis with Greek Coffee (apparently he only drinks a couple of times a year) with Galaktoboureko (Greek Custard Pie with Syrup). Recipe at


Since the making of Greek coffee is as rich and complex as is the taste; here is an instructional video from DedeMed

Nicholas is an author and blogger with a wide ranging audience who appreciate his posts on writing and publishing as well as advice on marketing our books. He is the author of the epic fantasy series ‘Pearseus ’and a science fiction short story collection, the ‘Power of Six’, both of which are consistently at #1 on Amazon. He is also a prolific writer of children’s stories and ‘Runaway Smile’, his first book for younger readers  and is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards

Here is a small selection of books by Nicholas C. Rossis

51xxowmpgel-_uy250_new cover pers416iycfxnxl-_uy250_


As with my two other guests this morning, Nicholas came to writing after enjoying success in other fields.

He studied civil engineering and in 1995 went on to do a PhD in Digital Architecture and for twenty years has worked as a web developer. As a change of pace Nicholas turned to writing and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats, one of whom claims his lap as home.

Things Nicholas has said in interviews.

‘As a kid, all I could think about was becoming an astronaut. Now, I dream and write about the stars and the adventures to be had among them. I guess I’m not so far off my childhood dream, after all’

What inspired you to write your books?

My first inspiration is, surprisingly enough, sleep. More precisely, my dreams, which often morph into stories during that special time of the day when you lie in bed half-asleep. My second inspiration is, of course, reading. There are so many wonderful ideas out there, and they act like seeds in my head, to bloom at night and transform into new stories that just have to be written.

‘Every time someone thinks we have reached a plateau, events prove them wrong. What is next? I have no idea, and one of my favourite pastimes is to check out predictions for the future – from a few decades ago. As we don’t walk around covered in tinfoil clothes or hop into a spaceship to Mars just yet, we still have a long way to go’.

Buy all of Nicholas’s books

Connect to Nicholas on Social media
Twitter –
Google+ – and

I hope you have enjoyed the variety of guests and coffees this morning and please do leave your feedback and hit a share button or two.  These guests have wonderful blogs and websites so please do follow them wherever you can and also of course buy their designs and books.

Previous Saturday Morning Coffees.


132 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Coffee – Variety with Sarah Vernon, Mary Smith and Nicholas Rossis

  1. Pingback: Saturday Morning Coffee – Variety with Sarah Vernon, Mary Smith and Nicholas Rossis | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Thanks so much for inviting me along for coffee with your other guests, Sally. Nicholas I already ‘know’ and I’ll definitly be checking out Sarah’s Rogues&Vagabonds site – and her designs. Love that handbag, Sarah.
    Fancy you remembering my story about the meringue! This morning’s one was delicious and I didn’t have to scream for it. I did drink shir chai in Pakistan – very, very sweet – so between thatand the meringue I have a real sugar rush going on now. Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sally, that was so sweet of you! Thank you – and I do love galaktompoureko. How did you know? Sarah’s designs are as gorgeous as this biscuits. Speaking of, I couldn’t help myself, and stole some of the amarettis while she wasn’t looking (please don’t tell her – I just love amarettis). *clears crumbs from pants, glancing sideways at Sarah to see if she’s noticed*

    Also, Mary’s book is next on my tbr list, so it was funny sharing this page with her. She’s one hell of a writer – and person! A leprosy centre in Karachi – wow…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Saturday Morning Coffee – Variety with Sarah Vernon, Mary Smith and Nicholas Rossis | oshriradhekrishnabole

  5. I followed the delicious coffee aroma. Eventually I heard lovely happy voices. Then I found this wonderful group! And for once, I actually arrived in time for it to really be morning coffee! 😀
    Fabulous Saturday post, Sally. Mega hugs to all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful post, Sally, and not just because you included me! I’m a great fan of Nicholas already and I suspect I’m about to become a great fan of Mary’s. You say the nicest things and I’m grinning and blushing like crazy. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another great line-up of Saturday morning coffee guests, Sally. These are wonderful snippets into the lives of your guests, as each one I read I find something else new about them.

    I already follow the blogs of Sarah and Nicholas, but am now also going to follow Mary’s blog as well.

    Thanks for the coffee, and thanks for introducing us to three more great guests.

    Saturday hugs to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely interviews, Sally. I already follow Sarah (love her work…all of it) and Nicholas (read all his books). Thanks for the introduction to Mary. No More Mulberries sounds like an interesting read. I’m particularly fond of books that offer a broader, non-politicized view of the world and focus more on our common humanity than our differences. Time for another cup of coffee 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Saturday Round Up – Coffee, Lunch, Music and Christmas Gift Ideas. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  10. Another eclectic combination of wonderful bloggers, Sally. The clink of china, the murmur of excited voices and full bodied aroma of dark roast coffee and I’m all ears. Nicholas doesn’t seem to mind he’s outnumbered. 😀 The only guest new to me is Mary.Must run over to her blog to learn more about her.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your guests all have fascinating backgrounds this morning, Sally. Its lovely to get to know them a bit better. I spend quite a bit of time in Greece but never acquired a taste for Greek coffee though. My mum drinks it all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such interesting guests, Sally, and very generous of you to feature them and their work in such a warm and affectionate way. I will be re-blogging this, as I am also keen to share their writing and other talents, their personalities, and their humour.
    I am envious of those who have lived abroad. Despite having enjoyed visiting many countries, I was never brave enough to make the leap into living in one of them.
    Best wishes from Norfolk, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:
    I hardly ever re-blog another blogger’s posts, as you know. But on this occasion, Sally Cronin has featured three people who richly deserve more attention, and promotion of their work.I hope that you can make the time to explore their blogs, and I am sure that you will not be disappointed.
    (And I get a mention too!)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A terrific Saturday morning coffee crew, Sally. As always I enjoyed reading. Now I am off to find that recipe for Nicholas’ Galaktoboureko (not that my diet has room for anything that decadent looking).

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Enjoyed reading about these talented author, artists! I don’t know Sarah and Mary but will follow them. I already am a big fan of dashing Nicholas! Thanks for introducing lovely new people and sharing their work. Much hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

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