The Sunshine Blogger #Award and personal questions – Sally Cronin Style!

Poet Ritu Bhathal jumped right in with her answers to the Sunshine Blogger Award… and if you head over you will find a little bit more about her vices, her music choices, who she would have to dinner and the choice she would make if in a time machine.. thanks Ritu great responses.

But I Smile Anyway...

Thank you so much to Sally for thinking of me for this award! I have received it previously, but I always like to share such posts, and answer the questions, because that is so much fun!

What is the most daring thing you have done? I’ve not jumped from planes, or zip wired across a rainforest… I haven’t moved countries (Counties, yes!) but I think the most daring thing I have done is to put myself out there via this blog and my writing. I have laid myself bare in so many ways, that I think that is pretty much daring enough!

Name one item still on your bucket list. I want to go to the Bahamas!

If you had a time machine, would you choose to live in the past or the future? That is a really tough one because if you live in the past, it’s like…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family -#Poetry – Our Mother by Robbie Cheadle

Please welcome children’s/YA author and poet Robbie Cheadle to the series with four of her posts from the archives. Apart from her creative writing, Robbie is also a fabulous baker and you will enjoy visiting her online bakery For her first post Robbie shares a poem that she wrote at Christmas.


Our Mother by Robbie Cheadle

This time of the year is all about family. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, I decided to post this short poem which I wrote as a tribute to my Mother. My Mother is a most amazing woman. My Father died when I was three months old and my Mother decided she needed a change. She packed up her belongings and her tiny child and set sail for South Africa. In South Africa she met and married my stepfather and established a lovely home. All four of her daughters adore her, are close to her, and have grown up to lead successful lives with their own homes, careers and families. We love you Mom.

Our Mother

There she sits, small, and yet so tough;
Always ready to tell us when enough is enough;
Our number one fan when things go well;
Always there to help us up, when down we fell;
Her home cooked meals are a delightful thought;
As are the important messages which, to us, she taught;
The best ways to get a cake to rise;
Never to tell our friends or family lies;
How to eat nicely with a fork and knife;
How a little kindness goes a long way in life;
Amazing mom, we are blessed to have you near;
As you are the person we hold most dear.

©Robbie Cheadle

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

A selection of books by Robbie Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for While the Bombs Fell

What a lovely, poignant book! It’s the only one I’ve read that describes what life was like for very young children growing up during World War Two. There is also quite a bit of English history included, which I found quite interesting. The wartime recipes are a nice touch.

It’s told from the perspective of a girl aged 4-6 years old, and focuses mainly on the daily life of kids living through horrendous times, without truly understanding what was going on in the adult world. Many of the stories told reminded me of my Dutch father-in-law’s descriptions of growing up during WWII in the Netherlands.

It’s appropriate for young children as well as young readers. Fascinating read.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

Connect to Robbie Cheadle


Thank you to Robbie for this lovely post from her archives and if you would like to share your stories about family, including our fur babies.. then please take a look at the details.

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about family.

  1. Personal memories of childhood or teens that are still fresh in your mind.
  2. Family history, stories of your parents, grandparents and further back if you can.
  3. Fur family past and present.
  4. Favourite recipes.
  5. Memorable holidays.
  6. Places you have lived.
  7. Memorable homes you have lived in.
  8. Grandchildren tales.
  9. Any family related post – education, health, teen years, elderly care, lifestyle.
  10. Please remember that there are some younger readers who visit.

I think you get the idea.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog from the day you started up to December 2018, and you simply send the link to those blogs to

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 700 posts from 200 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

The only issue is the number of photographs and if there are more than five photographs in the post I will do a reblog rather than a separate post. (Media space)

Previous participants are more than welcome

If you are an author who would like to share book reviews and interviews on Facebook then please click on the Literary Diva’s Library image

February Speculative Fiction Round-Up

Here is the recap of the February Speculative Fiction prompted by a photo from Diana Wallace Peach… Looks like some wonderful stories and poems… take your time and enjoy…

Myths of the Mirror

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

Thank you to everyone who participated! Great stories and to those who stretched their imaginations, Congratulations. ❤ Below is the round-up of all the February poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. I’ll post March’s prompt on the 1st!

February Round-up

Pensivity – of Mice and Elephants

Frank Prem – a surprise (I do not like)

Ethan Eagar – This Spells Trouble

Jane Dougherty – A better place

Michnavs – Thump-poem

Jordy Fasheh- Lord Ganapati and his brother Lord Kartikeya

Cosistories – An Elephant Never Forgets

Sadje – A mis-adventure

Trent McDonald – When the Elephant bumps the Mouse House – Chapter 1

Violet Lentz – Another crack at it

Ellen Best – The…

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Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – It’s all about food.. and other edibles!

Now for a couple of jokes from the archives

Never underestimate the power of polo mints.

The trainer was giving last minute instructions to the jockey and appeared to slip something in the horse’s mouth just as a steward passed by.

‘What was that?’ inquired the steward.

‘Oh, nothing,’ said the trainer, ‘just a polo mint.’ He offered one to the steward. ‘Here, have one. And I’ll have one myself.’

After the suspicious steward had left the scene the trainer continued with his riding instructions. ‘Just keep the horse on the rails. You are on a certainty. The only thing that could possibly pass you down the straight is either the steward or me.’

and Opera for peanuts

A man went into a bar and said to the bartender, “If you give me free drinks all night, I will entertain your customers so much they will stay all night and drink lots and lots.”

“Oh yes,” says the bartender. “How are you going to do that?” The man gets a hamster out of his pocket and puts it on the piano. The hamster runs up and down the keyboard playing the greatest piano music anyone had ever heard.

“That’s incredible!” says the bartender. “Have you got anything else?”

The man gets a parrot out of his other pocket and puts it on the bar. The hamster begins to play the piano again and the parrot sings along – sounding just like Pavarotti. Everyone in the bar is amazed and stayed all night drinking and listening to the hamster and parrot.

The bartender is delighted.“I must have these animals. Will you sell them to me?” he asks.

The man shook his head no. “Will you sell just one then?” asks the bartender.

“OK, I’ll sell you the parrot for $100” the man says.

The bartender is delighted and hands over the money.

Another man standing next to the man who owned the hamster said, “You’re a bit stupid selling that clever parrot for only $100”. “No I’m not,” the man replied. “The hamster is a ventriloquist”!!!

I hope that you are leaving with a smile on your face….and please pass it along.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Demystifying the Levels of Fiction #Editing (a bit) by Sarah Calfee

Delighted to welcome a new guest writer to the blog. Sarah Calfee is an editor specialising in Romance novels. In her first post, she is demystifying the various elements of book editing, so that you can select the service that is most beneficial to you and your book.

Demystifying the Levels of Fiction Editing (a bit) by Sarah Calfee

Just imagine, you’ve written a cozy murder mystery you’d like to indie publish. You’re thinking, maybe I could use a proofread. You’re thinking, I’ll just type “editor” into google … suddenly, you’re facing a rabbit hole the size and depth the Mariana Trench.

Now, assuming you didn’t faint, you’re still facing a multitude of terms like: book doctoring, manuscript critique, developmental editing, content editing, substantive editing, stylistic editing, line editing, copyediting, proof-editing, proofreading. But it’s all going to be okay, though, because, lucky you, you have me here as your geeky editing guide.

(Disclaimer, my own definitions will vary from others and I won’t be explaining them exactly in the correct order of actual editing practice!)

Let’s begin with “proofreading” the term most people know—and believe they have an accurate definition for. Here is what a traditional proofreading actually means: for the love of God, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. Just make sure that the punctuation, spelling, and grammar are okay and get the f**k out, cause making changes usually introduces more errors. So, basically a proofreading is the last and final edit that your manuscript should receive, and it’s really only about minor details.

There are two major sides to writing a solid novel—one is prose and the other story structure, and so it follows that there are two main editing levels that address these areas specifically.

For editing actual writing (paragraphs, sentences, words, grammar and punctuation), you’ll find proof-editing, copyediting, line editing and stylistic editing. Here are my quick and easy, possibly over simplified, definitions.

Proof-editing: this is the love-child of a copy edit and proofread, which might occur when the manuscript needs more work than the editor or author originally expected. Or sometimes it’s just the type of edit some editors actually mean when they offer a proofreading service.

Copy editing: the rules of grammar and punctuation are generally applied—or purposefully ignored—and consistency is the number one priority, and these consistency choices are recorded on a style sheet. For example, is the spelling choice whiskey or whisky? Numbers—spelled out or numerals? Should certain words be hyphenated, open or closed? Oxford comma?

Light, medium, heavy copy editing: I don’t know. I really don’t. My guess is it has something to do with how far an individual editor is prepared to take an edit, and also how much work a manuscript actually needs.

Line or stylistic edit: these two terms are synonymous. The edit is all about communicating clearly with your reader while retaining your voice. Many editors won’t actually change the text during a line or stylistic edit much themselves but instead comment on issues like wordiness, or suggest deleting/revising repeated words and phrases, or they might ask the author to clarify a scene if, for example, at the beginning a new location isn’t stated or perhaps not all characters present are mentioned.

Copy and line editing: many freelance editors provide this service together. You’ll find some editors who swear that both these services could never be performed at the same time and done properly, while others always mean both with their offer of a “copy edit.”

While all the definitions for editing prose do vary, the many terms for editing story structure—book doctoring, manuscript critique, developmental editing, content editing, substantive editing—pretty much all mean the same thing in my opinion.

What this type of edit does, besides the tightening of the sphincter muscles, is ask an author to potentially revise and even rewrite chunks of their manuscript. This is done with an editorial report—about ten to twenty-five pages long—which will comment on plot, the subplots, the characters, their individual arcs, goals, motivation, conflict, tension, resolution … and quite a bit more.

Some developmental editors (my favorite term) may additionally offer a “scene list” where a short summary of each scene is recorded, chapter by chapter. In the actual manuscript, there should also be comments and examples where the developmental editor can support their editorial report in more detail.

There is one main difference in this terminology—a manuscript critique is only an editorial report and the manuscript itself will remain untouched.

Hopefully, this guide has demystified the fiction editing levels (a bit!) and armed you with enough baseline knowledge to prepare you for an expedition into that Mariana Trench-sized rabbit hole.

©Sarah Calfee 2019

About Sarah Calfee

I was born in Quebec, Canada, lived in the USA for twenty years (Baton Rouge, Orlando, Chicago), and spent two years in Dublin, Ireland. For the past nine years, I’ve lived in London and loved it. Living on both sides of the pond has given me an excellent ear for both American and British English. This means I can help characters swear authentically in either idiom. You’re welcome!

Why am I an editor?

Because I’m a total story addict, and it’s a fun way to support both my habit and my family. The reason I became a romance specialist is because there are many different genre-specific story structures with different plot points (or beats) to follow, and I wanted to become an expert in one. This allows me to help romance authors with the intricacies of the romance story structure—which never ever gets boring because…romance subgenres. (I love them all!)

If you’re an author with a manuscript that features love with oh-so-many reasons the couple just can’t be together, only to have them find their happily ever after at the end—you’ve come to the right place. Whatever your preferred subgenre (historical mysteries, friends to lovers, romantic suspense) or favorite type of heroine or hero, I can help you and your book reach your very own HEA.

To find out whether I’m the right editor for you, please contact me for a free sample edit.

• 500 to 800 word line/copy edit
• Email correspondence
• Fee assessment

You can find out more about Sarah Calfee and the services that she offers:

Connect to Sarah


Sarah would be very happy to answer any of your questions and it would be great if you could share the post around your own social media.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunshine Blogger #Award and personal questions.


It is award season, and whilst I may not be wearing a fancy designer dress with sparkles and borrowed jewelry from Tiffany’s (or crippling Jimmy Choo Shoes!), I have dabbed a little Chanel No 5 behind my ears and at the wrists. After all is not everyday you get nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award. In this instance courtesy of author and poet, Mary Smith of Mary Smith’s Place to whom I am most grateful….

Before I embarrass myself answering Mary’s questions on my personal life…. here are the rules.

Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and make a link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions sent to you by the person who nominated you.

Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award, and then write them 11 new questions – or cheat like I did and use the same questions 🙂

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog

Here are the questions I received and my answers:

What was the driving force behind the creation of your blog?

I had taken a writing hiatus for about four years when I was back living in the UK working and caring for my mother. When we returned to our own home again, I needed to get back into the habit of writing everyday, blogging six years ago was just taking off big time, and after a couple of false starts, I created Smorgasbord in October 2013.

Apart from wanting to get back into writing, there was also the question of boredom, as I tend to get into mischief if I am not kept busy!

What was your vision for your future in blogging/writing when you first started this blog? How has that vision evolved?

I wanted to build a platform to promote my own books, share my experience in nutrition and meet new people. That evolved into the Cafe and Bookstore offering free book promotion and Smorgasbord became a blog magazine in 2017 with columnists for music, travel, food, gardening, literature,health and recently numerology. It has become far more to me than I first envisaged when I posted once a week.

Now there are at least five posts a day on various subjects, many that I write but plenty of great guest writers too. I don’t know what I would do without it honestly. I have met so many astonishingly talented people who I consider to be friends, and it has expanded over into social media around the world.  I love it that wherever I may be, I can chat to someone in Australia as they are going to bed, and someone in the USA as they get up on the morning. Brilliant – Pen pals on speed.

What age were you when you realized you loved writing?

That would be when I was about seven years old, and writing my own sick notes for school. I did tell you that if I get bored I get into mischief! We lived on a naval station in Malta, in a house at the top of a steep flight of steps. I would walk down those steps with my satchel to the manned main gate, where I was supposed to catch the school bus. Instead I would deposit my satchel behind the guard house, and wait for an old farmer who came daily to tend his field of prickly pears on the station. As he was drawing away from the guard house, I would hop on the back of his donkey pulled cart and hide under a sack. The school bus would come, stop and be waved on by the guard on the gate, who assumed I was not going to school that day.

I would spend the day helping the farmer who spoke no English (but we managed to communicate just fine). He shared his rustic lunch of bread, goat’s cheese and a peeled prickly pear with me (teaching me carefully how to remove the fruit from the lethal outer coat) and water from a wine flagon (I think it was water!) the donkey got some too. About 3pm, he would pack up to go home, and I would hop on the back on the cart under the sack, slipping off and sneaking behind the guard house to collect my satchel. When the school bus appeared over the hill, I would trudge up the steep set of steps home for tea.

The next day I would take a note into school with me, saying that Sally was sick yesterday and unable to attend school – with a scribbled MEColeman.. for my mother’s signature that I had studied carefully.  I would carry out this deception every four or five weeks and I got away with it for a year until the old farmer stopped coming.

That’s when I realised the power of the written word!

How has your life changed as a result of the electronic age? Is it better/worse/the same?

For example……..otherwise we would be here all day!

It is so much better. I cannot imagine having to ring the cinema or buy the local paper to find out what is on at the movies.

I don’t have to waste time ringing around for an item I want, I just google it and the location and it tells me where it is in stock, and if I want they will deliver it to save me driving 20 miles to pick it up.

I don’t have to go to a travel agent to book my flight or holiday or go back to pick up my tickets. I can check in online instead of queuing at the airport, and I can book my seat instead of taking pot luck on the day.

When I am house hunting I don’t have to go to the area that I am planning on moving to, visit every estate agent and end up with a foot high tower of paper details. Now I can search in any country in the world, bookmark the details, contact the agent and arrange an appointment with a few keystrokes.

When I want to change my passport I can do that all online and receive my new documents in a week or two without worrying about sending my old passport and it getting lost before the new one arrives.

I can sell my digital books online, without having to print them, or to pay enormous amounts of postage to get them somewhere…. and readers can buy with a few keystrokes, at a great price and have them downloaded immediately.

And last and by no means least, when I leave a place, I only leave behind the physical building.. I take my friends with me whereas before, leaving a town or even a country meant losing them.

What was the very last website you visited today?

That is easy… Mary Smith’s Place so that I could copy the questions across to respond to the award. Recommend you pop over there too as lots to read and enjoy.

What was the first website you visited when you woke up four days ago?

That is also easy… always Smorgasbord, to respond to the overnight comments and to boost the midnight post… then I go browsing…that takes me through to elevenses…

If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?

I should never have eaten that first bar of chocolate as it set in motion a rollercoaster love affair that has become an eternal triangle.. between me, the chocolate and the weighing scales!

Everything else, good and bad was part of life’s enrichment and provided some valuable lessons.

How would your life be different today if that one thing from your past were to change?

If you have children, tell me…how did your parenting change from the time you had your first child until the time you had your last?

We don’t have children. Probably just as well with our nomadic lifestyle in the last 39 years; anyway I still have not decided what I am going to when I grow up myself yet.

Tell me about the funniest experience you’ve had in the past month.

When I first came back to Ireland three years ago, I went to a hairdresser in the next town over for two appointments. I liked the stylist and went back the third time only to discover that she had left. I was not very happy with the result on that visit and since then I have been to other hairdressers now and then for a cut. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try a different hairdresser in my own town, and whilst the stylist was washing my hair, she said she recognised me.. I assured her that I didn’t think we had met.. But she insisted and then asked me if I had been to the former hairdressers. I admitted that I had…. and she said she was the girl who had been my stylist for those first two visits, but she went by her own name now, not the one they had given her!  We did laugh, delighted that she is now very close and she is back doing my hair again.

What do you have planned for the upcoming holiday season?

We don’t tend to take summer holidays as we lived in the sun for so many years. We like to take long weekends out of season and explore different areas. I do go over and house and dog sit for my sister and that means visiting my home town and friends which is a break and fun too.

If I nominate you and you have an award free blog, please view the nomination as a compliment: you are under no obligation to respond. (Thanks Mary for that statement)

Traci Kenworth

Victoria Zigler

Carol Taylor

Marcia Meara

Janice Spina

Annette Rochelle Aben

Robbie Cheadle

Ritu Bhathal

Christy Birmingham

HL Carpenter

James J. Cudney

Here are my 11 questions for you.

What is the most daring thing you have done?
Name one item still on your bucket list.
If you had a time machine, would you choose to live in the past or the future?
What is your favorite movie of all time?
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Do you have any pets?
Tell us about one thing that really gets your goat.
Who would you invite to a celebrity dinner. List 5, dead or alive?
What is your most annoying bad habit?
Name your current favorite song playing on your playlist right now.

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope if you have time you will pop into the blog posts I have selected for my nominees as they are well worth reading and following.. Sally.

Thanks again Mary Smith for the nomination…


More wonderful photographs of the eagles of Tofino from Wayne Barnes.. and also a tutorial on the feathers of this incredible bird of prey.

Tofino Photography


The Daredevil likes to chase after me. He most certainly is a Daredevil,which is why I gave him that name!

The average eagle has 7000 feathers but only 12 are large and white. The tail feathers are very important to them! Tail feathers act like a rudder on a boat.They use them to steer with. You can see in the first shot the tail feathers tilted. He was making adjustments while chasing me. When he wants to slow down he will flair them.This captures more air and thus slows him down.

The largest feathers are the “primaries”,which are at the end of the wing.There are 10 primaries at the end of each wing,but the end 5 are the largest. They give lift and stability. Notice the shape of the primaries on his lefthand side. See how thin the shaft is and further down it widens. I’ve talked to a friend…

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Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985-1987 – Atlanta – Gone with the Wind

We are now in our second year in Houston and in my letters home to my parents in England I share our road trip to Atlanta for business and also our exploration into staying in the States permanently.

You can read all the letters from 1985 onwards about our travels and adventures in this directory:

Dearest M & D.

As you can see from the letterhead, I am writing this from Atlanta. We did enjoy our visit with Kelly and Vicki in Shreveport and the baby is delightful, cannot believe she is a year old now. We continued on from them to Alabama where we spent last night having crossed the great Mississippi. It is now Sunday and after I have finished and post the letter we are heading out for lunch.

I was excited to see Atlanta but I am afraid that my last view of it was burnt to the ground when I went to see Gone with the Wind a few weeks ago (for the tenth time). Of course it is now a modern city and could be anywhere in the USA… but considering it was rebuilt almost completely after the civil war, they have done an amazing job. I am not sure what Scarlett would think about it, but I suspect old Rhett would have taken it in his stride…

Atlanta’s other world renowned claim to fame is that it is the birthplace and headquarters for Coca Cola… I doubt that there is not a country in the world that has not been infused with that beverage! It was discovered by a pharmacist called Dr. John Pemberton who created the drink in 1886.. and the company has never looked back.

The location is pretty stunning as it is amongst the Appalachian Mountains and we will do some exploring if we have time after David’s meetings. He is back to back with those for the first few days but we should have a couple of days at the end of the week. I will be taking a look at the city and finding out more about its history. And then of course there are the shops…At least I see David in the evenings and we are not apart for 10 days.

We are staying in the Marriott Marquis which we were expecting to be up to the high standard that we have experienced before with the group, but the service is poor and long delays in getting food. We tend to keep a low profile and not make a fuss as we have both been in the hotel industry working in our younger days, but we are surprised at the lack of supervision. The staff don’t seem to be happy and that is not a good sign. Anyway we are tending to only sleep here and I am spending time in the room rather in the public areas, reading while David is working and we go out for meals rather than eat in the hotel. And restaurants are excellent and we have received a couple of recommendations that we shall follow up on.

One thing that is very similar to Houston is the humidity and thank goodness for air conditioning in the room and the car.

I mentioned last time that David is exploring the options of staying here after his contract is up in January next year, and he has a couple of meetings set up next week. I think we are heading into an uncertain but exciting phase (nothing abnormal with that!)

I have to say that I am in two minds. I love our lifestyle here and the friends that we have made, but the chances are that if David is offered a job that it could be anywhere. As with Atlanta, the big cities are busy, noisy and very similar. Weather is very different however across the USA as we have discovered on our trips. Winters can be brutal in the north west and other cities have high risk factors for natural events such as earthquakes. You know me, I love travelling and don’t let much phase me, but I worry that if we move we won’t find such a welcoming and friendly community as we have in Houston.

I also am aware that it will mean seeing less of you and the rest of the family and I would miss that very much. The flights are long and I know after your visit in November that you mentioned that you both felt very tired for several days afterwards.

On that note, I am going to book my flight home for later in the year, once I know what dates Emma is going to be with us. That will boost my spirits no end.. she is such a mature 15 year old and we have lots of fun planned.

Anyway…we will be heading out to lunch shortly so will write again next week when we are home again..

love from us both S &D.

images courtesy of… since mine are somewhere in storage.

Thanks for dropping in to share my memories of our time in America in letters preserved by my father and left to me when he died in 1996.


Life In A Conversation #booklaunch

Geoff Le Pard’s next release is available to download tomorrow…and to celebrate, Geoff has put all his other books free until March 1st…


So it’s nearly ready to go. On 28th February my latest compilation of short fiction is available.

Here’s the little link to take you to it.

To reward you for even coming this far and reading this, I’ve put all my other books as free on Amazon Kindle from 28th thru 1st March. All of those brilliant, witty, funny, hard biting books of mine. Maybe. Some anyway.

So fix that date in your minds and go and take out a bite.


And if you really prefer the real thing in your hands then click the contact button above and we’ll see if I can’t send you a hard copy on the same terms. Just try and make it on Free Day – that’s the 28th February – 1st March.

Enjoy and thank you for all your splendid support.

And Dog will be grateful too… if only he…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Childhood, and Train Whistles, and My Grandmother by Jennie Fitzkee

Delighted to welcome back Jennie Fitzkee, who with a career as a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, has some inspiring posts that reinforce that the ability to read and books are two of the best gifts we can give our children. On her blog she also shares wonderful posts about her family and will be sharing four of those with us in the coming weeks.

Childhood, and Train Whistles, and My Grandmother by Jennie Fitzkee

Summer evenings on the porch are quiet, except for the occasional sound of a train whistle in the distance. I love that sound. When I was a little girl, a train whistle meant excitement and memories. I was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. It’s “the big city”, and the central downtown area was the train station. There is something majestic about a grand, old train station with polished brass and wood. It was history, kept alive.

Trains were prevalent throughout the state. With a countryside of enormous rolling hills and dramatic landscape, it was the trains that people depended on to transport people and goods from the cities like Huntington out to the country. Roads? The interstate didn’t exist, and most roads were more of a roller coaster than a highway. But the trains had been there ‘forever’, it seemed. They could go everywhere. Dependable, and oh so exciting!

My first childhood memory is the sound of a train. I was sleeping in the family log house in Lowell, West Virginia. This was way out in the country.

The Log House

The house today is known as the Graham House and is on the National Historic Register. But, back then in the 50’s, my family still owned the house. The history is thrilling; it is the oldest two-story log house west of the Appalachian mountains, built in the early 1770’s. My grandmother, Nan, lived in the house until she was married. She told me many times the story of Indian raids. On one occasion the children were in the summer kitchen and ran to the house. The boy did not survive and the girl was kidnapped. It took the father eight years to get his daughter back, trading horses with the Indians. Family stories; so important.


The sound of the old steam engine train whistling by as I slept at the old log house is one of my fondest memories. That was what I heard every evening as I fell asleep. I loved it, and I loved that old house. Hearing a train again today in the evening on the porch takes me back to those childhood days. I stop to listen, not wanting to miss one whistle. Wonderful memories.

In 1964, I boarded the train in Huntington with Nan and my cousin Laura to return for a long summer visit in Lowell with family, and of course the Log House. We always called it “The Log House.” I remember the excitement of the train ride, and the feeling of going past places and vistas that people never get to see from a car. The first thing I did when we arrived at the Log House was to run upstairs and find my bed; the one I slept in as a child. I remembered. By then, 1964, the house was no longer in the family, so we slept at our cousin’s house next door. And, I still heard that train whistle, even though many years since my childhood had passed.

When I recently visited the house with my husband, my first visit since 1964, I immediately recognized everything. I ran up the stairs and felt along the wall beside my bed, as there had been holes for rifles to go through when fending off an Indian raid. The holes were still there, just as I remembered, and just as Nan had told me.

Is it the sound of the train that makes my memories crystal clear? I think so. On the playground at school the far away sound of a train goes by in the morning. Often I have the children listen carefully, and then I tell them about sleeping in a log house and listening to a train. Stories are the keepers of words and memories.

©Jennie Fitzkee

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

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My thanks to Jennie for sharing this memory of the past….so pleased that she managed to go back and visit.

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