Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sally’s Book Reviews – Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton


My review today is for Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton, a family saga set in Memphis in the 1970s and 1980s, with a coming of age for a brother and sister dropped into the opulence and charm of Southern culture.

About the book

“An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South.” Kirkus Book Reviews

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

My review for the book.

I am not sure that anyone who is not born into the opulent, and long cultivated upper echelons of Southern culture, would be able to slip into its charming, but strictly adhered to rules of engagement easily. Especially when you are on the cusp of your teen years and  brought up in the very different environment. As are Millie aged ten and her brother Finlay, who is eighteen months older.

“We had Minnesota accents, we were white as the driven snow, and we both had a painfully difficult time deciphering the Southern accent, which operates at lightening speed, and doesn’t feel the need for enunciation. Instead, it trips along the lines of implication.”

Posey comes from an affluent Southern family and was brought up in a sprawling stucco French Chateau which she left having met a charismatic and rich Yankee. Her marriage is over, and the wealth that she is accustomed to is gone; and she has little choice but to return to her family home in Memphis. She slips right back into society where she left off, as she takes over the running of the house, and with four years until an income will be available from her inherited trust fund, other means must be found.

The intricacies of the society that the two children find themselves inserted into, has little relation to the outside world. Steeped in tradition, long forged alliances, eccentricities and acceptable behaviour, stretching back through many generations. Little has changed, and that is the way it is orchestrated to remain. Clearly defined roles for males and females are perpetuated in the schooling that prepares the young to continue the status quo into the future, and non-conformity is frowned upon.  You will fit in or face exclusion.

This novel is about the relationship between a brother and sister and is written from Millie’s perspective, now 36 years old, as she revisits their childhood and teenage years. She is looking for answers and clues as to where her relationship with Finlay, which had been so solid and close, began to disconnect. Without a doubt for me one of elements that is crucial to this, is their mother, and Claire Fullerton has done a masterful job in creating her self-absorbed but somehow vulnerable character.

My mother did not walk into a room, she sashayed, borne from the swivel of her twenty-four inch waist. Her name was Posey, and although there was a lot more to her that she ever let on, to all appearances, the name suited her perfectly.

The story is not fast paced, flowing smoothly as it meanders through the lives of Posey, Millie and Finlay. You are drawn into their experiences, and you find yourself mentally bookmarking certain events and revelations, that explain how such a close bond became disconnected. I found myself engaging with the main characters early on, and I became emotionally attached to them all. Those of us with brothers and sisters can find parallels in our own relationships, especially those that might not be as close as they were when growing up.

Mourning Dove is elegantly written with a brilliantly descriptive language that has you immersed in this very exclusive and opulent society. I dare you not to read, and not come away with a distinctive drawl of lightening speed, without the need of enunciation!

Head over and buy the book in Kindle, print and audio:

and Amazon UK:

Also by Claire Fullerton

Buy the books and audio editions:

and Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Claire on Goodreads:

About Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of contemporary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. Dancing to an Irish Reel is a finalist in the 2016 Kindle Book Review Awards, and a 2016 Readers’ Favorite. Claire is the author of “A Portal in Time,” a paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods, set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing.

Her third novel, Mourning Dove, is a Southern family saga, published in June, 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. She is one of four contributors to the book, Southern Seasons, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, to be published in November 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn, of The Seymour Literary Agency.

Connect to Claire


Smorgasbord Health Column – Summer Eating – Chilled Soups, Salads and Dressings

We have had three weeks of glorious sunshine here and the thought of hot, stodgy food just does not appeal… We got in the habit, when living in Spain, to have light meals in the really hot months, of chilled soups and homemade wholegrain soda bread, with a little butter (why not).

Here are some of my summer recipes for soup, salads and dressings with a little twist or two….

In the winter months it is very easy to stock up on nutrients with all the wonderful root vegetables available and also combining ingredients to make hearty soups and stews. However, as we get into the summer months, our appetites tend to change; I know there is a major shift in my taste buds once we get into late May.  I want to move away from the stodgy comfort foods and eat  a fresher and crisper menu.

There is no need to give up nutritionally packed soups however, because there are some stunning chilled varieties that you can make and store in the fridge or even freezer.

With the longer evenings there is no way I want to be slaving over a hot stove for hours and I usually cook enough for two nights at least, and that way I am only preparing main meals two or three times a week.

Anyway, I thought you might like these recipes to store away for those hot days when you feel like eating light or crave the tangy taste of fresh summer produce.. They are very versatile and you can always add your favourite protein on top.

Tasty but healthy soups and salads.

During the summer it is lovely to start off a meal with a fresh tasting, chilled soup or a wonderful refreshing salad. They can accompany main meals from around the world and because they are raw these starters will be carrying a very healthy and nutritious punch.

Gazpacho and other chilled soups.

When we lived in Spain we were blessed with an abundance of fresh vegetables that are perfect for making these summer soups. The most common of course is Gazpacho.  I was a little concerned that when I came back to Ireland that there would not be the same range of vegetables, but I am delighted to say that apart from one or two ingredients, there is a wonderful range of home grown produce.

tomatoesRecipe for a very simple version of Gazpacho for 6 people

  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Juice of half a fresh lemon.
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed.
  • 1lb of fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 1 red pepper – deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped.
  • ½ a cucumber roughly chopped
  • ¾ pint fresh tomato juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar (optional)

Garnish – you can make your own choices here of chopped black olives, cucumber, spring onions or onion, red or green pepper, tomatoes and chives.


Put everything into a blender except the salt and pepper which you can add to taste when blended.

Chill and serve with the garnish and perhaps warm corn tortillas or Pitta bread.

Avocado and vegetable soup.


Ingredients for 6 people.

  • 150 grm or cooked and chopped asparagus
  • 100 grm of raw broccoli chopped
  • 100 grm of raw mushrooms chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 250 ml of cold water or as needed for consistency
  • Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon of soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 large avocado chopped


Blend the vegetables with water in the blender.

Add the avocado and soy sauce and blend until smooth.

Add seasoning to taste and serve straight away.

vegetablesSuperfood Salad

This salad is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, poultry or lean meat and will give your body a nutrient packed boost. The combined ingredients have been recognised as foods that actively work with your body to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent heart disease, boost the immune system, help prevent cancer and are anti-ageing. This raw and unprocessed mix contains many wonderful nutrients but particularly Omega 3, Vitamins A,C,E and all the B’s. Minerals such as manganese, copper, calcium, iron, potassium and amino acids including tryptophan.

You can add any fresh vegetables that you like including grated carrot, finely chopped celery or red cabbage.

To serve four people.

  • Packet of fresh, whole leaf baby spinach
  • Large onion in finely chopped rings.
  • 12 walnut halves
  • Four firm, ripe tomatoes,
  • One head of broccoli
  • 50 grm Sesame Seeds
  • I ripe and firm avocado.
  • Olive oil.


Wash and put the spinach leaves in a large salad bowl.

Cut the broccoli into small florets and add with the thinly sliced onion rings.

Throw in the walnuts.

Toss the mix thoroughly.

Decorate around the edge with tomato segments and just before serving add chopped avocado to the centre.

You can either sprinkle with sesame seeds or add the seeds to two tablespoons of Olive oil and drizzle over the salad as a dressing.

Serve with toasted wholegrain French bread.

salmonAvocado and orange salad with cold salmon.

Yoghurt and date dressing Ingredients

  • 250mil of natural yoghurt
  • 100 grm of finely chopped stoned dates.
  • ½ teaspoon of grated orange rind.
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice.

Combine all the ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator.

Avocado, Apple and Orange salad with cold salmon ingredients

  • 3 large ripe avocados, stoned and quartered.
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and separated into segments.
  • 2 Large green apples, washed and cut into segments.
  • Mixed lettuce leaves and ½ bag of young fresh spinach leaves.
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • Large Salmon fillet cut into 6 equal portions, grilled or steamed.


Arrange the lettuce and spinach leaves in the bottom of a large bowl.

Arrange alternate segments of the oranges and apples.

Arrange the avocado quarters in the centre of the bowl.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve the dressing in a separate serving bowl on the table.

Is lovely with fresh warm slices of Pitta bread or corn tortillas.

Papaya and prawn salad with tomato and herb dressing.

imagesServes 6 (alternative to papaya use avocado) Ingredients

Tomato and herb dressing

  • 2 large tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh basil, rosemary and cilantro.
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Pimiento


Blend together and then chill in the refrigerator.

The Papaya Salad

  • Assorted lettuce leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • 500gm of peeled prawns
  • 3 ripe Papaya cut in cut in half, seeded.


Arrange the leaves on individual plates and place the Papaya in the centre.

Place the tomatoes and cucumber around the plate.

Mix the prawns with the dressing and place in the centre of the papaya

Sprinkle with pimiento

Alternative Salad Dressings

bananasBanana and Yoghurt dressing.

  • 2 bananas mashed.
  • 500 ml of natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons of honey

eggsHomemade mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard
  • 240 ml of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or to taste.


Put the egg yolks into a blender bowl with the cider vinegar and blend gently until well mixed then add the olive oil drop by drop with the blender moving.

Gradually increase to a thin stream of oil and as the mayonnaise thickens you can increase the volume of oil.

After the oil has been added continue to blend until the mixture has thickened.

Season to taste with the lemon juice,mustard, pepper and salt.

I hope that this has given you some ideas for summer… Please feel free to share.. thanks Sally.

©Sally Cronin 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:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

You can find the Health Column posts in this directory:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Delicious #Duck and Sauces

This week Carol is bringing us some delicious ways to prepare Duck… I adore crispy duck and pancakes and cold on a salad.. I know you will enjoy Carol’s expertise and also some alternative sauces to serve with this bird…

Delicious Duck with Carol Taylor

Duck … Duck always conjures up pretty images and so many cartoon characters are ducks and we think of them as cute and funny…Well I do…

Growing up we didn’t eat very much duck my uncle sometimes used to bring one to my mum when he had been out on his nightly travels…I think it was called it poaching…But it was what many people did then and sometimes just to survive… I remember his pet ferrets scary, fierce little animals…

Then as the times progressed it was the Chinese duck pancakes a real treat for us and the occasional duck eggs … It has only really been since I lived here that I have cooked with duck it is readily available and used in many dishes …

Is it a healthy meat??

Duck fat is high in monounsaturated fats and some saturated fats, it remains stable during cooking as the fat monocles don’t break down at a high heat and create harmful toxins which mean the fat can safely be reused and it also has a lovely taste which it imparts to the food…

When duck is cooked the fat needs to be well rendered down as it is unpleasant to eat if it is not…The actual duck meat is very lean and has a high iron content so is a good meat to eat as always with many foods it is what is added or accompanies the food which ramps up the calories or turns it into an unhealthy food.

Often when eating out the sauces come separately so if you are watching the calories just go sparingly on the sauce.

This Laab recipe I normally make with pork but we had a duck one when we ate out the other week and it was really nice a little drier than the pork but very nice.

Thai food is a great choice for gluten–free and dairy-free eaters because it is rice-based and uses a lot of coconut milk. … Traditional Thai soy sauce is gluten–free, but just be careful when eating out as restaurants may use wheat-based Chinese soy sauce.

Thai food is low on carbs, includes lots of fresh vegetables and herbs and most dishes are cooked very quickly so everything retains its colour and flavour, in fact, preparation most times takes longer than the actual cooking.

This Laab recipe can be made using Duck, Chicken or Pork.

Ingredients: Serves 1-2 people.

  • 200 gm Duck, Pork or chicken mince.
  • 3 shallots finely sliced.
  • 2 spring onions finely sliced green tops as well.
  • A handful of fresh Mint, pick the leaves from stem and tear the leaves into large pieces( mine is a big handful) I love mint.
  • A handful of fresh coriander chopped.
  • A few Thai Basil leaves for the decoration.
  • I Lime use half to a whole lime juice depending on personal taste.
  • Dried chillies…dry roasted in a pan and grind in pestle and mortar.
  • 1 large tbsp toasted rice.( recipe below)
  • 1-2tbsp Fish Sauce.
  • Small amount palm sugar….I use it sparingly.

Let’s Cook!

Using a small saucepan dry cook the mince, I add a small amount of water to stop it from sticking.

Stir until cooked, remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in toasted rice, a small amount palm sugar, chilli( as desired) start with 1 tsp and once all the ingredients are added ..taste and add more if required.

Stir in the mint and coriander, shallots and spring onions, stir well but carefully.

Add fish sauce and half of the lime juice.


If required add more chilli, fish sauce and or lime juice and Taste again.

Put in a serving dish.

Garnish with Thai Basil leaves.

Serve with steamed boiled rice /Thai sticky rice or if you don’t want to eat rice it is lovely served in lettuce cups.

As an accompaniment serve with sliced cucumber, sliced white cabbage, green beans and Thai basil leaves.

Thai’s eat a lot of raw vegetables with Laab which is why it’s a fairly healthy meal and if chicken or duck is used it has even fewer calories.

It is an ideal dish if you are watching the calories as are many Thai dishes.

NB: To make dried rice mix, take a thick bottomed pan put it on a medium to low heat, cover bottom with uncooked sticky rice( if you don’t have) normal rice will do. Stir until rice turns a golden brown colour, tip into pestle and pound until powdery but slightly coarse.

N.B. Glutinous rice is gluten–free. The misleading name simply comes from the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like and sticky when cooked. … It all comes down to starch content.
You can store the rice in a small container and it will keep for 6-8 weeks…

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do…I love this salad.

It is also an ideal dish to make if you cook a duck and have some left over’s.

Now who hasn’t eaten Duck with an Orange sauce?? Here are three sauces with a little twist and still some O.J

Marmalade Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 50 gm marmalade
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed O.J
  • A handful of chopped coriander to garnish.

Let’s Cook!

Put all the wet ingredients into a pan and bring to a slow simmer allow to simmer until sauce thickens slightly if it does thicken too much thin with some O.J.
This one takes slightly longer to make but well worth it…

Port and Blackberry Sauce:

  • 350 ml of Port
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • A punnet of blackberries
  • 400 ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp of good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 star Anise
  • A tsp of corn flour mixed to a paste with water
  • 50 gm butter.

Let’s Cook!

Put the Port in a pan and reduce the liquid by half, add the stock, blackberries, balsamic, star anise and simmer until reduced to 2/3 this takes about 15 minutes. Pass the mix through a sieve and return to the pan, add the corn flour/arrowroot mix stir and season then add butter.

You know have a perfect smooth, shiny sauce to go with your duck.

Lastly one which still has orange but some chilli…

My orange sauce with and Asian twist.

  • 1 large orange segmented between the skins..then squeeze the core and retain the juice and maybe zest some orange skin.
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli sliced finely
  • ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 star Anise
  • 1 tsp of shredded lemongrass
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

Let’s Cook!

Heat ½ tbsp oil in a pan and add chilli, ginger, lemon grass and star Anise cook for a few minutes to release the flavours add the reserved OJ and zest if using, 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp sugar and half of the orange segments.

Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the remainder of the orange segments cook for 1 minute.

Any of these sauces can be served with a nice roasted duck accompanied by rice or boulangere potatoes and some lightly steamed vegetables.

Duck Eggs and other bits….

Ducks are generally used for their meat, eggs and feathers (down) although in Asian cultures every bit is eaten from head to toe… Beak and feet included… If you like the recipe lease let me know…

Duck eggs are again widely eaten and always readily available here…A duck egg has a higher proportion of yolk than a chicken’s egg and can be bought fresh here or preserved…

We were given a gift of preserved Duck eggs and I must say I was slightly cautious as to what I would find…

This was a first for me these dry, salted duck eggs covered in a black, soot ashes and charcoal powder.

They are dried in mud taken from termite mounds and rolled in a mixture of soot, ashes and charcoal powder these dry salted eggs are produced locally near me in Khon Kaen.

Traditionally eaten with rice soup for breakfast in a hot country like Thailand this is a way of preserving eggs…Dry Salted Duck eggs are used rather than chicken eggs as the yolks are larger.

The date on the box informs you that the eggs can be pan-fried up until that date and afterwards MUST be boiled.

Although they look strange or maybe different is the word the black outer covering washes off and underneath is the egg in its shell. This my ever curious grandson cracked and fried. The yolk was a darker yellow than a normal chicken’s egg and pleasantly salty…A completely different taste to which I was expecting…

That sentence uttered purely on my experience of some foods I have tried whilst living here…Not all quite so pleasant… The shopkeeper who gifted them to us was correct they were aroy, aroy.

I hope you have enjoyed the recipes for duck …Do you cook with duck a lot if so what is your go to duck recipe???

My all time favourite Duck Curry is this one: Red Duck Curry( Kaeng Ped Pett Yang)

That is all for this week I think next week I will have some more everyday meals that you can cook…

©Carol Taylor 2018

The other posts in the series 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

Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Therapies – #Tai Chi – Non-Combative Chinese Martial Art by Sally Cronin

I went to Tai Chi for a few classes when I was looking after my mother, but it became difficult to leave her on a regular schedule, but I did practice the moves at home to stay flexible and to help my breathing.

What is Tai Chi?

This is a non-combative martial art that combines breathing techniques with a series of slow movements often replicating the actions of birds and animals. It promotes the flow of vital energy (chi) throughout the body promoting health and calm.

It is also used to aid meditation and there is one technique that I found really demonstrates the gentle power of the art and is a great place to start to focus your mind and body.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

There is some research into the various benefits of the technique, and certainly for those of us over 65 it has been found to reduce stress, improve posture as well as increasing muscle strength in the muscles in the legs. This may have an impact on balance, flexibility and mobility. This might also help prevent the elderly from falls and improve arthritic conditions. It is a gentle but weight bearing exercise to might also improve bone density.

Although most of the exercises are in the standing position there is also no reason why you cannot complete the arm movements and strengthen your core and shoulder muscles whilst sitting.

Suitable for all ages.If you were to drive through a Chinese city you would find the parks and empty spaces filled with groups of men, women and children attending a Tai Chi class. Perfect for the family to enjoy together. Great for children and in China the day often start with a 30 minute class.

Here are just two of the many exercises that are part of this technique and I hope you will explore this amazing form of exercise for yourselves.

Kong Jing  to relax and focus your mind.

  1. If you can sit on a mat on the floor with your legs crossed that is the most effective position. But if like me you have knee problems, sit on a straight- backed chair and cross you legs at the ankles.
  2. Rub your palms together rapidly to the count of 10 seconds ( there are a number of ways to time that… one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand or one Mississippi two Mississippi etc)
  3. Place one palm slightly cupped above the other 15cm apart.
  4. Keeping your eyes closed, imagine that you have a spongy ball between your palms and gently press them together until you feel some resistance (it is weird at first as you know there is no actual ball between your palms) Do not let your hands touch.
  5. The feeling is best described as magnetic. If you have ever held a magnet in each hand and moved them together you will begin to feel a slight repelling sensation the closer you get. You might also experience a feeling of warmth or tingling in your fingers.
  6. Hold that feeling of resistance for five minutes and in subsequent sessions increase until you are holding that position for 15 minutes.

You should find that after a few sessions that you are less stressed and also that you breathing has slowed and your heartbeat dropped slightly as the body relaxes.

I would like to share one more exercise with you which you can use as a warm up before a Tai Chi class or on its own to unwind at the end of the day and boost your energy. If you do have a dry, level spot in the garden on grass, where you can stand barefoot, then that is fantastic.

N.B. It is advisable not to do Tai Chi if you are suffering from any joint injuries especially shoulder and knee.. always check with your doctor or physiotherapist first. However, once you are healed this gentle exercise might prevent further injuries.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Relax your shoulders and upper body and hold your head balanced as if someone had tied a ribbon to the hair on the crown of your head and was pulling it upwards.
  3. Your hands should be down by your sides, palms facing backwards and slightly apart from your body.
  4. Breathe naturally and allow you mind to empty.
  5. Shift all your weight onto your right foot and gently lift your arms up in front of you to shoulder height.
  6. Keep your palms facing downwards and your fingers pointing to the floor.
  7. Transfer all your weight to the left foot and in one easy flowing motion, lower your arms down to your sides.
  8. Bend your wrists to that your hands are parallel to the floor facing forwards.
  9. Transfer your weight to your right foot, raising your arms again to shoulder height and then transfer all your weight to the left and lower the arms again.
  10. Repeat this flowing motion in a rhythmic sequence until if becomes effortless and without you thinking about the process.
  11. Build up the repetitions until you are practicing this every day for 15 minutes.

You should find that after a week or two your muscles, particularly in the shoulders and legs are more toned and that breathing and your circulation are improved.

Here is a video with instructions in English from a Hong Kong teacher to show you the beginning moves.

Here is a directory for classes in the UK and wherever you live you should be able to find a similar directory:

And to show you that you are never too young to feel the benefits of the discipline… cute. Leeds Taekwondo

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 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:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique – Part Three – Standing, Sitting and Walking Correctly.

If you missed the previous two posts in the series here they are:

Just a reminder of some of the back pain statistics in the UK alone… if you take a look at your own country’s data, you will find that there is the same kind of numbers.

Back pain statistics in the UKThe Norfolk Clinic

  • The condition affects people in all age groups but the over-50s are worst hit
  • Almost 10 million Britons suffer pain almost daily resulting in a major impact on their quality of life and more days off work
  • Up to 28 million Britons are living with chronic pain, new estimates suggest
  • Around 5.6 million working days in the UK are lost each year due to back pain, second only to stress,
  • Around 4.2 million working days were lost by workers aged 50-64 alone in 2014
  • Health experts say chronic back pain is made worse by our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, with the average Briton spending almost four hours a day at a computer

Apart from the pain and stress to the sufferer there is also the fact that it is also one of the leading causes of painkiller addiction. Especially as most painkillers are ineffective.

The best way to use the Alexander Technique is under the guidance of a qualified teacher on a one to one basis. They can assess your postural problem areas effectively and guide you into the correct way to sit, stand and walk to minimise your pain and improve your mobility.

Here is a very useful link which will show you where your nearest Alexander Technique Teacher can be found worldwide:

You can help yourself and I am just going to talk you through some sitting and standing techniques to help improve your posture. And I have also found some videos that might be helpful.

Bad Habits.

It is so easy to slip into a bad habits and before you know it you are sitting, standing and walking incorrectly as your normal fall back position. It does mean that it can be difficult to encourage your muscles to return to the correct position as it can cause discomfort initially.

In the post I recommended that you walked towards a mirror and noted areas of the body that appeared to be out of kilter… Such as an foot turned outwards or a slouch. The same applies to sitting and standing where you can observe your now natural posture, and where you need to adjust your frame.


After walking towards the mirror as you would usually, and noting where you are out of alignment, you can now make small adjustments.

Aim to keep the balance of your head on top of the spine, looking straight ahead and with your shoulders relaxed. As you walk towards the mirror focus on transferring your weight onto alternate feet pointed forwards.  Practice several times a day until this becomes your new natural way of walking. There might be some initial discomfort as muscles relearn their purpose but after a few weeks, you should notice that your original pain has improved.


There are certain habits that cause pain and constricted breathing. If you habitually sit with your legs crossed then you will twist your pelvis and lower spine. If you desk and chair are not properly aligned you will find that your head is down, stretching the muscles in the back of the neck unnaturally for several hours a day, leading to pain in that area, but also into the shoulders and causing headaches.

If you are slouched forward over the desk you will be compressing the stomach and diaphragm resulting in restricted breathing, less oxygen into the system and headaches and fatigue. It is also not natural to sit ramrod straight for several hours at a time as that too can cause a curve that stresses the muscles each side of the spine.

Bend forward from the hips if you are writing at a desk rather than slouch and make sure that the arm you are using to write, or both to type are not tensed in any way.

Aim to sit with your head balanced comfortably at the top of your spine and if you are using a computer looking straight ahead at the screen so that you can type and read without putting your head in a downward or upward position. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

Sit with your knees slightly apart and both feet firmly on the ground also slightly apart.

Getting in and out of a chair.

Again it is important to use a mirror to identify how you are sitting and standing up from a chair. It is an action that we will repeat many times during each day and if you continually abuse certain muscles it will lead to pain.

For example – watch to see if you throw your head back when you sit down, and stick your bottom out resulting in an arch to your lower spine.

Or when you stand up, are you jutting your head forwards and up, folding your body and then straightening up?

Aim to keep your neck and spine in alignment and bend at the hip, knees and ankles as you stand. Imagine that you are going into a squat position as you sit down and stand.

Here are three videos on the technique.. I suggest that you browse through the many on YouTube to find those that might address your own personal areas of concern.

An Introduction – Roads To Bliss

Sitting at your computer Adrian Farrell

Walking Bill Connington

I hope you have found this useful and that you will explore this amazing technique further. Thanks Sally

©sallycronin 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:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally