Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Meet the Authors 2022 – Personal Recommendations – #Poetry Frank Prem, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Contemporary Jessica Norrie

In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.

The first recommended author today is Fran Prem whose poetry reveals the hidden, the beautiful and the tragedy behind locked doors, loving relationships, childhood, wildfires and the First World War.

Meet Frank Prem

Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet since his teenage years. He has been a psychiatric nurse through all of his professional career, which now exceeds forty years.

He has been published in magazines, online zines and anthologies in Australia, and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as spoken word.

He lives with his wife in the beautiful township of Beechworth in North East Victoria, Australia.

A selection of books by Frank Prem

My review for Sheep On The Somme – Behind the Images July  2021

Those of us who are in our 60s and 70s are likely to have had grandparents who were affected one way or another by the First World War, on all sides of the conflict. Most we may never have met and we can only rely on second hand accounts of their lives.

This makes Frank Prem’s selected images, and his poetry, even more profound and compelling, as they give a voice to the silent men in the trenches and on the battlefield, the living and the dead. The civilians whose homes, places of worship and villages were pounded to rubble, and the animals, horses and mules who stood in tethered lines far from peaceful grassy meadows. And to the families who waited at home desperate for news and grateful for every short note on a postcard passed by the censors. To the non-combatants, medics who risked their lives to retrieve the wounded, the doctors, nurses and those who attempted to feed and provide water for man and beast.

This is not a celebration of war, it is tribute to the strength of the human spirit and a pictorial reminder of the devastation of conflict on human beings, the land, wildlife and the future of millions. Perhaps if this collection had been published and distributed after World War I… there might not have been a second conflict twenty years later.

There are certain images that will remain with me. A solitary cross amidst the bomb craters and mud, men in the trenches crowded in a bunker drinking tea and playing cards, the blitzed remains of a village, and the endless march of refugees with scant belongings and little hope, trying to escape the bombardment and savagery.

So why would I recommend a book that highlights the darkness of one of the most tragic events in recent history? Although this collection features Australian forces, they are representative of all the other nationalities who participated in the conflict on both sides. It is our history, and for millions around the world, somewhere in a grave in one of the many cemeteries across Europe, a long lost relative may be buried.

And as always, Frank Prem’s poetry is superb, breathing life, emotion and touches of humour into this collection of unforgettable images from the past. A book that should be on library bookshelves and in our homes and shared with the next generation.

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US –And:Amazon UK – Website:Frank Prem – Goodreads:Goodreads – Twitter:@frank_prem – YouTube:Frank Prem’s Channel

The next author, Toni Pike writes for both children and adults and I can recommend both genres

Meet Toni Pike

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing exciting thrillers for adults, non-fiction, and hilarious books for children. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.


She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with great advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

A selection of books by Toni Pike for children and adults

My review for Desolation Bluff

Desolation Bluff is packed with suspense and action.

Life is challenging enough for those with a sight impairment, when trust of those around you is essential. Oliver Cameron feels blessed to have a highly successful writing career, loyal housekeeper, a wonderfully supportive wife and best friend and back from honeymoon, he couldn’t be happier.

As we become involved in the story, and are party to events that Oliver is not aware of, it is easy to become angry on his behalf as the depths of betrayal are exposed. How will he deal with the revelations that unfold? Seeking revenge requires careful planning but people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets. For some of those who are looking out for Oliver’s best interests, this can be dangerous. Especially when an unexpected ally turns up on the scene who might be less likely to be intimidated.

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at a good pace. It is easy to take sides as the story develops and the climax leaves you on the edge of your seat…. and Desolation Bluff.

Connect to Toni: Buy the books:Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter:@piketoni1

The next author is Jessica Norrie who contributed the literary column for two years on the blog, sharing a wonderful cross genre selection of outstanding novels from the last few decades. I can highly recommend her novel The Magic Carpet.

Meet Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught adults and children, co-authored a textbook and ran teacher training. In 2008 came the idea for “The Infinity Pool”, which appeared in 2015 (and in German in 2018). Her second novel “The Magic Carpet”, inspired by teaching creatively in multicultural schools, was published in July 2019, and she is working on a third. She divides her time between London and Malvern, blogging, singing soprano, and walking in the forest and hills.

Books by Jessica Norrie

My review for The Magic Carpet September 2019

The Magic Carpet is set in outer London in early September 2016, and its cast is a group of young schoolchildren aged seven and eight, tasked with developing the classic fairy tales into performances on Friday October 14th.

The children head home with their assigned stories with the wide remit of telling the fairy tale in any way they wish, involving whoever they wish, including family members.

The author invites us into the children’s homes to meet parents, brothers and sisters and grandparents, and for them to have the chance to share their stories of how they arrived in this part of London.

Beautifully written from both the children’s and adult’s perspective, we get to understand the complexities of integration within a multi-cultural society. It is not just about religion, colour or traditions, as within a single family there can be three generations struggling to understand the new culture, language and accepted practices of a society they were not born into.

Such as the loving grandmother struggling to communicate with her English speaking grandson as he shares the wonders of the story he has been given. A single father who is concerned about the proprieties of bringing his son’s friends into the home, and a young girl who sees a side to her parent’s marriage that will challenge her perspective on the happy ever after of fairy stories.

We also come to appreciate the role of teachers at primary schools, who patiently prepare the children from these diverse backgrounds, and with varying language skills, for their future as part of society.

The story culminates with the performances and the interpretations the children have brought to the classic fairy tales. We also discover the impact of this simple exercise has had on the dynamics of the families involved and the changes in perception it has achieved. Demonstrating it is the children, who have the power to bring the generations and different cultures together.

Highly recommended.

Jessica Norrie, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Website:Jessica Norrie on WordPress Goodreads: Jessica Norrie – Twitter: @Jessica_Norrie


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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – Snow vacations – Whistler, Cairngorms Scotland, Tahoe

Welcome to the next of the posts in my Travel Column series. The world is opening up and in the coming posts I will be sharing destinations that are welcoming visitors.

Most countries now have very clear requirements for entry with regard to vaccinations, Covid tests and quarantine and it is important to check these before booking your holiday. Be aware too that these can change according to current status of the pandemic.

Today for those of you who crave the excitement and adventure of snow covered mountains and ski slopes, I am sharing three top locations accessible to those in North America and Europe.

There are a great many wonderful ski resorts in North America and in Europe as well as slightly further away in New Zealand. I have selected three that are wonderful places for the whole family including non-skiers. If you are thinking about a ski vacation then you might find this site very useful as it covers resorts around the world: Ski Resort Information

I am of course going to begin in my home country.

Canada, British Columbia – Whistler Blackcomb gets five out of five stars by multiple users on the site.

The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is very family and child friendly. There is a separate Family Zone on Whistler Mountain and multiple Whistler Kids children’s areas distributed throughout the ski resort. The Children’s Adventure Park, the Big Easy Terrain Garden and the Tree Forts are very popular up on the mountain. Families are very well cared for at Whistler. For the bigger kids, there are many events as well as the Ziptrek (a zipline flight over Whistler). Special packages offered for the whole family round off the offering.

I think that this video gives you a brief idea of what is available courtesy of the official Whistler resort

Additional activities include snowmobile tours, Fire and Ice spectacular displays from professional skiers, and ice track with bobsleigh, a Scandinavian Spa and ziplining.

Snowmobile - The Adventure GroupThe resort has accommodation, bars, restaurants and if you would like a spectacular cocktail with a view… then visit the Umbrella bar looking out across the snowy landscape and stunning mountains.

For all the information you need visit Whistler Blackcomb

Flight times

From UK to Vancouver: 10 hours – Flight time to Whistler: 37 minutes or Drive Time: 2 hours.
From Toronto: 5 hours
From US East Coast: 6 hours
From US West Coast: 3 hours.

Now something closer to home for those of you who live in the UK and would like to ski closer to home.. The Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland has been a skiing destination for the last fifty years and they have the advantage of opening early in the season using factory made snow on the beginner slopes to get newbies to the sport up to speed (pardon the pun) before the main season begins.

“We offer 30km of ski runs, 10 lifts, a fully maintained freestyle park. The snowsports season typically runs from December through until April, but this varies from year to year depending on weather. You don’t have to have your own ski or snowboard equipment either, because you can hire everything you need with us.”

Map image Cairngorm Mountain Piste Map

Apart from skiing there is also snowboarding and back country touring on skis or snowboards.

There are five ski centres in the Cairngorm Mountains and you can find out more about them from this helpful site: Finding the Universe

There is no accommodation at the resort but there are plenty of options in Aviemore and you can find details here: Aviemore Trip Advisor

The Caingorms are an all year around resort with hiking and climbing in the summer months… Here is a taste of what you can expect during the ski season courtesy of OutandAboutinScotland

Official Aviemore Site: Visit Aviemore

Clearly there are ski resorts closer to home for North Americans, but typically tourists go to Europe and the UK in the early summer until the fall, however you might like to rethink that and do a ski tour of Europe instead and add Aviemore to your stop. Glasgow airport services all the main European capitals including Geneva which is a 2.5 hour flight and there are some very cheap flights.

But for those living in the UK and Ireland, having this on their doorstep must be great.

Flight times

From Toronto to Glasgow: 7 hours – Drive Time to resort 2.5 hours – Train: 2.5 hours (scenic route).
From US East Coast: 7 hours
From US West Coast: 11 hour
From Gatwick to Inverness: 1.25 hours – 30 minutes drive.

And last a ski resort in the United States which is also a year round destination of lovers of the outdoors. And with luxury homes to rent on the shore of the spectacular Lake Tahoe, and with resort hotels, casinos, great food and entertainment on the doorstep, it is a wonderful place to vacation. (And I know that Tahoe is Sally’s favourite place having visited in the spring, summer and winter).

I think that this video says everything about Tahoe which includes its all year round activities, not just the terrific skiing. Courtesy of Expedia


There are plenty of options from large lodges on the lake to condos and resort hotels, prices do vary throughout the year and you can find some great deals during gaps between the main vacation months. You can explore all the options: Tahoe Accommodations.


You will never go hungry in Tahoe with a wide range of ethnic and North American restaurants to choose from: Eating out Tahoe

Activities for non-skiers

There is plenty to do if you do not want to hit the ski slopes, from Blackjack and a visit to an art gallery to a cruise around the lake, there are also wonderful shows in the evenings at the casinos with top headliners: Winter activities

How about this for a ride of a lifetime courtesy of HeavenlyMtnResort

Official site:

Flight times

From the UK with 1 stop in Los Angeles or San Francisco – 14.5 hours Drive Time from Reno 1 hour 20 minutes (shuttles available)
From US East Coast – 5.5 hours
From Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe airport – 54 minutes – Drive Time 7.5 hours.
From Toronto to Reno – 4.5 hours.

Thanks for dropping and to Debby for putting together these travel destinations that offer something to look forward to if not now, in the near future..

A reminder that it is always important to check out every detail when traveling abroad with up to date recommendations and also government advisories on Covid.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.


“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

Lana B. 5.0 out of 5 stars Super fun travel reading Reviewed in the United States

“Have Bags, Will Travel” is a delightful read on the experiences of travel, fashion, the art of packing suitcases with the emphasis on having a good time. Author, D.G. Kaye details her days on board planes to many popular destinations and her vivacious antics with friends. She also relates her solo travels to exotic destinations with steep cliffs and too much baggage. I particularly enjoyed the details of the by-gone, romantic days aboard Wardair, and the exquisite details of vintage Las Vegas.

A consummate shopper, D.G. Kaye relates her rather humorous run-ins with customs officials. How does it feel to be singled out routinely by airline officials? A read through this humorous pages will give you the insight to these first-hand conflicts.

I would say this might be required reading for shoe connoisseurs and fashion mavens especially if they have a plane ticket in hand. Germ avoidance theory is also discussed, and it may never be possible to look at airplane bathrooms the same.

D.G. Kaye brings back the memories of best friends and blazing trips through the desert. Many readers will identify with the struggles of this stylish lady attempting to blend in to avoid a custom’s mishap. A short and super fun read, “Have Bags, Will Travel” is perfect for your next airplane ride.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – follow Debby: Goodreads

Connect to Debby Gies – Blog: D.G. Kaye Writer – About me: D.G. Kaye – Twitter: @pokercubster Linkedin: D.G. Kaye – Facebook: D.G. Kaye – Instagram: D.G. Kaye – Pinterest: D.G. Kaye

As always Debby loves to hear from you with comments and questions.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 24th – 30th January 2022 – Snow, Contributors, Hits 1987, Nat King Cole, Detox, Stories, Podcast, Health and Humour

Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Hope that you are all well. I know some of you are snow bound in the USA and in parts of Europe. This week has also seen the fifth fall of snow in the sahara in the last forty years and a rare carpet of snow welcomed those heading to worship in Jerusalem and it caused major disruption in Athens and Istanbul.

We seem to be in the trough between the two weather fronts and for a change and it has been quite a dry month with moderate temperatures. And we are more than happy for it to be so.

Other news

Regular contributors Debby Gies and Carol Taylor have been busy this week.

Debby has flown off to the sunshine in Mexico yesterday and just waiting to hear from her that she is settled in. She will be away for a few weeks but you can still enjoy her travel posts and funnies and Debby has promised to pop in and out to say hello.  Wishing her a wonderful holiday.

Head over to read Debby’s hasta la vista post: Mexico here she comes….

Carol debuts her brand new A-Z series this week World Cuisine and in this first series Argentina..excellent.

Head over to enjoy the flavours of Argentina in the new series: A-Z of World Cuisine

And of course my thanks to William Price King this week for The Breakfast Show and the final part of the Nat King Cole Series.. Next Friday another amazing artist.. Mel Torme.

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1987 Part One – Whitney Houston, U2, Rick Astley, Aretha Franklin and George Michael

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Nat King Cole – The Finale

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – Animal Magic – The Night Shift

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – Animal Magic – The Gardening Assistant

Podcast – Tales from the Garden – The Last Emperor

The Gentle Detox Tool Box – Water retention and Sugar Cravings- Dandelion

#Funnies Marcia Meara, #Release M.J. Mallon, #Writing Shelley Wilson and Gail Williams, #Spotlight Bosssy Babe and Pete Springer, #Funnies The Story Reading Ape

The Winding Road to Portugal: 20 Men from 11 Countries Share Their Stories. by Louise Ross

#Scifi – Pale Face by W.D. Kilpack III

#Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

Dancing to an Irish Reel by [Claire Fullerton]

#Ireland #Music #Romance – Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton

#Moonshine #WWII #Family – Novella – Father by Allan Hudson

Personal Recommendations – #Memoir Pamela S. Wight, #Romance Staci Troilo, #Childrens Janice Spina

Personal Recommendations – #Mystery Sharon Marchisello, #Paranormal Marcia Meara, #Mystery James J. Cudney

– January 25th 2022 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin… Pithy one liners and Breakfast in Bed


Thank you for dropping in today and your support during the week… I hope you will join me again soon… Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogger Weekly – January 30th 2022 – #Funnies Marcia Meara, #Release M.J. Mallon, #Writing Shelley Wilson and Gail Williams, #Spotlight Bosssy Babe and Pete Springer, #Funnies The Story Reading Ape

A small selection of posts I have enjoyed this week that I hope you will head over to enjoy… thanks Sally.

Since you cannot have too much humour, I am topping and tailing this post with funnies. The first from Marcia Meara who has unleashed the cats and dogs with attitude upon us.

Head over to enjoy the rest of the critters: Thorsday Smile Funny Critters

Marjorie Mallon shares the news of her latest release Golden Healer Book 2 The Curse of Time.. get the blurb and other details on her post.

So excited to say that the most recent release in the Curse of Time Series is available to buy. Book 2… Golden Healer. It is possible to read as a standalone but if you haven’t read Book 1 Bloodstone (to follow the story from its beginning…) do read Book 1 if you can. Buying links and information below for both books.  

Head over to get all the information about Golden Healer:  Paranormal YA Fantasty Golden Healer by M.J. Mallon

The next post is from Shelley Wilson with her series of guest posts #Top10WritingTips and this week her guest is author Gail Williams.. useful for all writers

Tuesday Book Blog Top 10 Writing Tips by Author Gail Williams

Gail Williams

Throughout my writing career, I’ve devoured countless blog posts, podcasts, and interviews by authors talking about the advice they received when starting out. Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.

In 2019, to honour my mentors and help the next generation of writers’ young and old, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.

It was a huge success and I’m delighted to bring the feature back for a second season!
Tuesday Book Blog

Head over to take advantage of Gail’s useful tips for writers: Top Ten Writing Tips with Shelley Wilson and Gail Williams

The next post is an author spotlight by Bosssy Babe for Pete Springer talking about life, work and blogging.

January Blogger Spotlight 

Welcome to my new series in which I spotlight one of my followers. I’ve always had a deep fascination with people: how they became who they are, the struggles they won, and the hard lessons they learned over time. All of these scars and stories make up a person’s life. While I think it’s important to reflect on your own journey, it is also equally important to hear other voices and see diverse perspectives. In this series, the spotlighted blogger will be able to tell their story through curated questions I’ve asked of them.

When I came up with the idea for this series, I could think of only one person to start us off. In late 2020, I decided to give this blog thing another shot (of many) and Pete was one of the first real readers that followed, commented, and kept coming back to see what I’d publish next. He even shared one of my posts on his blog and that post remains the highest ranking on my site to this day.

Head over to enjoy this spotlight for Pete Springer: Bosssy Babe spotlights Pete Springer

And last but by no means least.. Chris, The Story Reading Ape, ends this weekly post with some of his well known and much enjoyed Monday Funnies..

Head over to enjoy all the funnies: Monday Funnies – The Story Reading Ape


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope that you will head over to enjoy in full…. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – Animal Magic – The Gardening Assistant by Sally Cronin

As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.

Animal Magic – The Gardening Assistant

The baby was gone, and not only did her body, but her heart too felt empty. At twenty weeks Molly had been sure instinctively they would be having a son, and each morning she had woken to feel a gentle flutter, as a reminder he was there. She had been at work as a part-time receptionist at the local estate agents, two months before going on maternity leave, when she noticed she was bleeding. Her boss had called an ambulance and she was rushed to hospital and examined by a young doctor.

He was very thorough, asking a lot of questions about her pre-natal visits, and he left at one point to talk to her own doctor on the telephone. When he returned she was placed in a side ward and lay in the bed hoping against hope her baby would be okay. Perhaps this was only a temporary setback, not uncommon, the doctor assured her. Her husband Chris was away on a business trip and when the staff nurse managed to contact him it still took hours for him to reach her bedside. He stayed all night, holding her hand and watching helplessly as a few hours later she lost their son.

She had returned from the hospital to find Chris had given away the baby clothes and other items bought in preparation over the last few months. The brightly painted nursery felt as empty as she did, and the door remained closed over the following weeks. Chris said he did it to spare her the pain of having to see the reminders of their loss, but he had become closed off, and she felt he blamed her for the tragedy.

Her doctor had reassured her that sometimes a pregnancy ended, and often no reason could be established. He confirmed he had found nothing concerning at her recent check-up when all appeared normal. She had no answers, and her grief and nagging doubts about whether she had done something to cause the miscarriage, resulted in seclusion.

The telephone in the hall remained unanswered during the day and in the evening, if Chris took the call, he would tell the person on the other end she was sleeping but would call them back another time.

Her parents lived hundreds of miles away and she begged her mother not to get a train and come up to stay with them. She promised to ring them each week and assured them she was fine, promising to visit them when she felt better.

She also pushed Chris away as he attempted to comfort her, and as the weeks passed the distance grew between them. He began staying out late stating extra work as the reason, but she could smell the beer on his breath when he arrived home, kissing her on the cheek, before reheating his dinner. At the weekend he would get out of bed and potter in the garage most of the day, working on his motorbike, popping in from time to time for a sandwich or a cup of tea. At night he would get into bed and turn his back to her as she lay awake staring at the ceiling.

If it had not been for Sasha, she doubted she would have had the will to continue in what was becoming an alien environment. Increasingly the temptation to pack a suitcase and walk out of the door was overwhelming, but with Sasha to think about it was impossible. She became the reason she got up in the morning, left the sanctuary of the house to walk the quiet country lanes and demanded her attention as she sat in the silent rooms of the house.

One morning as Molly stared out in to the neglected back garden, once her pride and joy, she saw Sasha chasing a butterfly, snapping in the air as it danced around her head, but no match for its aerobatics. She realised the time was approaching to plant the bulbs for next spring. For the first time in weeks, Molly felt a faint stirring of hope. She needed to create something beautiful. It could not replace what she had lost, but it would be a way to honour her baby’s memory and try to thaw the ice which had found its way into her heart.

Over the next month she mowed the lawn and despatched the weeds that had taken over the beds during her absence. She sat with catalogues from the local garden centres, planning an elaborate show of spring flowers a few months ahead. She made copious notes as Sasha lay at her feet, and even Chris seemed to make more of an effort, coming home earlier and helping with the housework at the weekends. They still remained emotionally at a distance, and she wondered if they could ever return to the easy intimacy they had shared before. She hoped he would not mention trying for another baby as she was terrified. She could not imagine being pregnant again and spending all those months wondering if she would fail again.

It was time to put her garden design into action, and with her extensive shopping list, she spent an hour in the garden centre finding a specific selection of bulbs to create the colour scheme she had in mind. On an unusually warm late September day, armed with nets of bulbs carefully labelled, she began to plant the borders. Sasha seemed to sense the importance of this endeavour and lay close by with her favourite toy, getting up from time to time to nudge Molly to let her know she was there.

Apart from a brief break for lunch, and to take Sasha out for her afternoon walk, Molly worked through the day. Finally, as the late afternoon sun dropped below the horizon, she stood up and bent her aching back into shape, surveying the three borders with their freshly turned soil protecting the precious bulbs beneath it. Satisfied she went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. Sasha as if to give her approval for the project, walked around the lawn, occasionally sniffing at the ground before coming through the open back door.

The next morning, after walking Sasha, Molly went out to the shops for groceries and decided to have her hair done for the first time since the miscarriage. She knew she had let herself go, but had been disinterested in either clothes or makeup for weeks. When she returned home, delighted with a short new hairstyle, she finally packed away her maternity clothes.

After taking Sasha for another walk, Molly sat down with the local paper, scouring the job section for a part-time vacancy, something to get her out of the house a few hours a day, so she would not be leaving Sasha for too long on her own. She had been offered her old job at the estate agents, but felt there would be too many questions about the baby that she was simply not ready to face. As she ringed some of the vacancies, she assumed Sasha was amusing herself in the garden with her toys, and an hour passed before Molly headed in to the kitchen to make a sandwich for lunch. She looked out of the window and for a moment couldn’t understand what she was seeing.

Sasha was in the middle of the lawn, resting on what appeared to be a mound of earth, and wagging her tail in enjoyment. Molly was intrigued and headed out of the back door to be greeted by an ecstatic collie racing around her and back to the mound, where she settled herself on top with pride.

Molly gasped as she recognised the constituents of the pyramid. Hundreds of bulbs, almost indistinguishable from each other, except perhaps by a horticultural expert, nestled together, collected by her muddy pawed gardening assistant of yesterday.

As Sasha waited for the praise for doing such an excellent job of retrieving the hidden delights, Molly slumped to her knees and began to cry uncontrollably. Sasha who was attuned to her human’s moods, immediately jumped up and began licking her cheeks and whimpering. Aware of her distress Molly put her arms around her and pulled her close.
‘You little monster.’

Chris had arrived home early, and after calling out and receiving no response from Molly, he headed to the kitchen and looked out the window. There was his wife, Sasha on her lap with her shoulders heaving. Concerned he rushed out the door and across the lawn surprised to hear Molly laughing so hard, tears poured down her cheeks. He looked at the pile of bulbs confused at why there would be a pile in the middle of the lawn, and Molly shook her head, still laughing.

Chris knelt beside her and began to laugh too, and then dissolved into tears. Molly immediately gathered him in her arms and finally after so many weeks of distance, they found comfort in their shared grief. Sasha pushed herself between them licking their faces in turn, until their tears turned back to laughter again.

‘Can you give me a hand to put all these back love?’ Molly waved her hand at the mound of bulbs.

‘Do you know what type of flower they are going to produce if we do?’ Chris raised an eyebrow.

Molly shook her head and then looked up at her husband.

‘I am sure it will be a beautiful riot of colour, and a reminder not everything you plan will turn out the way you expect.’ Chris nodded and stood up.

‘Come on Sasha; let’s put you in the kitchen with a bone to keep you busy, while we replant these bulbs, we don’t want you thinking this is another game.’

They kept a close eye on her when she was in the garden over the next few days, and thankfully she showed no inclination to dig up the treasures again. A few months passed, and in the late spring, the garden was a brilliant mix of bright colours; a glorious artist’s palette. Molly was expecting another baby in the autumn, and despite a natural concern something might go wrong again, Chris made every effort to ensure she felt loved, whilst nagging her to put up her feet at every opportunity.

Sasha was an attentive nanny to their first daughter Isobel, and to their two sons, Nigel and Timothy who followed in the next five years. She dispensed love and attention on all of them equally and happiness filled their home.

* * *

Molly stirred as she felt a hand on her shoulder and smiled up at Chris as he placed a cup of tea on the table beside the garden bench. They both had grey hair now, but she did cheat with a silver rinse at the hairdresser once a month. Their children and grandchildren were all coming over for their 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday, and the house and garden would be filled with laughter and love. The borders were bright with colour, and each year she emptied bulbs into a large pile in the wheelbarrow, mixed them up and then planted them haphazardly. Each time it brought Sasha to mind, even though over the years there had been two more much loved collies, just as endearing.

‘Do you think we’re too old to take on another dog Chris?’ She looked at her husband hopefully.

‘Of course not darling.’ He kissed Molly’s cheek. ‘Let’s check out the sanctuary in town and find our next gardening assistant.

Arm in arm they headed into the house, looking forward to a new addition to the family.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

One of the reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Mar 03, 2021 Jacquie rated it five stars it was amazing
Life isn’t always easy- sometimes, it’s even the pits.

Sally Cronin’s anthology is an entertaining collection combining sweet, wholesome tales with stories from a more jaded point of view.

I love how she takes everyday situations and infuses them with humor, such as in The Weekly Shopping;

‘What the hell does DNST mean?’ ‘Do Not Serve Treats.’
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries- Sally Cronin

Bittersweet endings like The Wedding Day when a hero returns from the grave to see his daughter’s wedding.

I teared up think of my Annie with The Nanny. The story of an overwhelmed couple caring for their teething baby and the unexpected help they receive.

Another favorite is a poem titled The Duchess, where the author paints a portrait of her beloved parent.

There were a few stories about the dark side of life, but these just served to enhance the rest and made me appreciate the blessings in my own life.

Easy-to-read, enjoyable, and relatable.

If you need a fun escape from the winter doldrums, give Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries a read! 

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads

My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Review – #Moonshine #WWII #Family – Novella – Father by Allan Hudson

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Allan Hudson… a novella set in World War Two – Father.

About the Novella

In 1942 everything is going good for Tanner Hill. He has a good job, two healthy sons and a wife who loves him. As he makes lots of extra cash with his moonshine, he can afford many luxuries his neighbours cannot. And he’s not worried about conscription.

However, he soon realizes good things do not last forever. One argument after church with a disgruntled man with revenge on his mind and Tanner’s world is turned upside down.

Forced into making a choice, Tanner chooses to follow his brothers and enlists. He leaves for the fighting so far away as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers.

It will be three years until Tanner returns home. It won’t be the same.

My review for Father January 29th 2022

At the heart of this story is family and its complex relationships. To set the scene the author shares the arrival and progress of the Hill brothers from new immigrants to an established clan of descendents settled into a variety of occupations in the early 1940s Canada.

Times are tough for many and making a little extra cash, even if it is on the illegal side, makes all the difference to a growing family. Many are in the know… but it only takes one disgruntled customer to cause a life changing showdown.

With war waging in Europe, and for more reasons than just patriotism, Tanner and his brothers enlist and find themselves caught up in the campaigns to take strategic targets such as Sicily and the rest of Italy. Tanner’s story is shared in detail as he spends three years moving across Europe as part of the invasion force, facing danger and losses of those close to him. The detail included by the author creates an authentic and compelling coverage of the events during those campaigns, bringing home the effect on the men and women physically and mentally.

Contact with home is rare and a return at the end of the conflict comes with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety about what has changed in the years apart. Tanner has some truths to face that will force him to look at his own actions to enable him to move forward with acceptance and for the future of his family.

A recommended read.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon CAAnd: Amazon US And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Allan Hudson

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Allan: Goodreads – Website: South Branch Scribbler – Twitter: @hudson_allan

About Allan Hudson

I live in Eastern Canada and I married the greatest gal on earth, Gloria. I have a wonderful son Adam, two great stepsons Mark (Georgette) and Chris (Mireille)Young. Three grandchildren Matthieu, Natasha and Damian.

I’m a very happy man.

I love reading. My mother was a school teacher and taught me to read and write when I was young.

I love jazz music, 70s rock and am a HUGE fan of JJ Cale.

I hope that you will enjoy my stories and thank you for your support.


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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – Animal Magic – The Night Shift by Sally Cronin

As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.

Animal Magic – The Night Shift

The corridors of the care home were silent, with only the soft sound of the night-matron’s rubber soled shoes on the tiles. Everyone was asleep by now, televisions switched off, a last cup of cocoa and biscuit consumed, along with a sleeping pill for those elderly who suffered from insomnia.

Jessica had worked in this elderly care home for the last ten years since she retired from nursing and, as the night shift was not popular, she had been welcomed with open arms by the manager. The home was just around the corner from her flat where she lived with her husband Mike, who also worked nights in a factory in the centre of town. It suited them very well, as they managed to work the same shifts, giving them plenty of free time together.

There was plenty to do overnight, with paperwork to catch up on, and stores to check and restock from the basement of this old Victorian house. Admittedly it was a bit eerie walking up and down the dimly lit staircase, but after all these years, she knew there was nothing frightening lurking in the shadows. As she approached the end of the corridor, having gently opened each of doors as she passed along its length, to check on the occupants of the room, she saw a sudden flash of movement out of the corner of her eye and shrank back against the wall.

As her breathing calmed and her heart stopped thumping, she reasoned it was likely this old house might have a mouse of two, but the brief glimpse she had caught gave the impression of being rather bigger than a mouse, or even a rat for that matter.

Slowly she approached the top of the staircase and switched on the main lights to investigate further. On the other side of the landing, another long corridor loomed, and she had ten more residents to check up on. She decided to leave the light on and hesitantly moved forward.

She froze as she caught sight of a tail disappearing into the third door along the corridor which was Mrs. Wilson’s room. This was not good, and walking briskly forward, she pushed open the door and using the torch in her pocket searched the corners and around the skirting board. She saw nothing alarming, but then heard a sound coming from the bed which was not Mrs. Wilson’s usual loud snoring. Hurriedly she shone the torch onto the bed and moved it upwards, nearly jumping out of her skin to see a creature perched on top of the resident’s chest. Backing up to the door she switched the overhead light on.

Dorothy Wilson awoke with a start, and the cat who had been settled very nicely on her ample chest, arched its back and hissed at the intruder.

The three occupants of the room stared at each other in silence for several seconds, until Dorothy put her arms around the cat and pulled it closer to her, where it settled with a contented purr.

‘Oh dear Matron, we seemed to have been caught out.’ She said tearfully.

Jessica moved closer to the bed and perched on the end while the cat looked at her balefully.

‘How long have you had the cat in your room Dorothy, and how have you got away with it?

‘When I came here three months ago, I was told I couldn’t bring Percy with me, and my son said he would look after him.’ She stroked the cat’s ears.

‘He lives a few streets away from the home, and after a month I missed Percy so much that Peter smuggled him in one Sunday afternoon, and when he took him back down to the car under his coat, he got free and ran off into the garden.’

Jessica shook her head as the story unfolded, and had to suppress a smile as Dorothy shared Percy’s suspected means of entry to the home each night, such as waiting for staff to leave after work perhaps, or when the kitchen staff left the back door open when putting the rubbish out last thing at night. But one thing was for sure, this determined cat was going to find his way to this room where the door had been left conveniently ajar.

‘But I check your room every night Dorothy and you are always sound asleep with the door closed.’

‘Well dear you are very predictable, as you always do your check at midnight, so I get up and close the door, and Percy goes into my bathroom until you have gone.’ She held the cat tighter and he voiced his concern. ‘Only I fell asleep early tonight and forgot to close the door after he arrived.’

‘Does this mean you have not been taking your sleeping pill after your cocoa each night?

‘Well dear I don’t need it once Percy is with me, I sleep soundly until six every morning and then I open the door and let him out.’

‘Is he living in the garden during the day and who is feeding him?’

‘He goes back to my son’s house and spends the day there, Peter installed a cat flap in his back door so Percy could come and go as he wanted.’

Dorothy reached out a hand and placed it on Jessica’s arm.

‘Please don’t tell the manager, I know the rules and I don’t want to leave this lovely place, but Percy is so dear to me, I couldn’t bear it if he was not with me.’

Jessica closed her eyes for a moment and listened to the purring of the cat in question.

She patted Dorothy’s hand and got up from the bed and walked out leaving the door slightly ajar.

‘I am off duty for the next two nights Dorothy so make sure you don’t fall asleep before Percy arrives again,’ she smiled at the still worried looking resident. ‘It will be okay.’

Dorothy nodded happily; snuggled back down with her pet and was soon snoring gently.

Jessica continued her rounds, opening doors and checking on the occupants, hoping there were going to be no more surprises tonight. She also decided perhaps it was time to approach the manager with the benefits of having a resident cat on the premises, to keep the mice down she had noticed on her rounds recently.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

One of the reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Mar 03, 2021 Jacquie rated it five stars it was amazing
Life isn’t always easy- sometimes, it’s even the pits.

Sally Cronin’s anthology is an entertaining collection combining sweet, wholesome tales with stories from a more jaded point of view.

I love how she takes everyday situations and infuses them with humor, such as in The Weekly Shopping;

‘What the hell does DNST mean?’ ‘Do Not Serve Treats.’
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries- Sally Cronin

Bittersweet endings like The Wedding Day when a hero returns from the grave to see his daughter’s wedding.

I teared up think of my Annie with The Nanny. The story of an overwhelmed couple caring for their teething baby and the unexpected help they receive.

Another favorite is a poem titled The Duchess, where the author paints a portrait of her beloved parent.

There were a few stories about the dark side of life, but these just served to enhance the rest and made me appreciate the blessings in my own life.

Easy-to-read, enjoyable, and relatable.

If you need a fun escape from the winter doldrums, give Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries a read! 

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads

My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf – New book on the shelves – #Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Alex Craigie… a psychological thriller…Means to Deceive

About the book

Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother.
But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.

As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build.
She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?

When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts.
Who can she trust?

Gwen has a dark secret of her own.
Can she even trust herself?

One of the early reviews for the book

SuzM 5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 January 2022

Gwen has come home to Pembrokeshire to care for her ailing grandmother, which makes her life seriously stressed. She’s carrying guilt-ridden memories of a childhood tragedy, which add to the tension. She’s working as a learning support assistant in a local school, earning her enemies on more than one front and the problems keeps building. Gossip has humiliated her and someone is persecuting her, starting with graffiti and going from bad to worse. She has a choice of suspects. She also has relatives, friends and neighbours who offer support, but could any of them be behind the persecution? Can the police be persuaded to take any of it seriously?

This is a gripping piece of Noir, with the reader drawn into Gwen’s painful desperation, confusion and doubts. There’s romance, but perhaps it’s not what it seems. There’s family drama, but is it all built on misunderstandings? It kept me guessing to the end.  

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

Also by Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Alex: Goodreads – Alex Craigie via: Facebook

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had two books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Both books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the NHS at its heart.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books… Sally

Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Nat King Cole – The Finale

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

For over 30 years William Price King has been paying his tribute to two musicians who have influenced not just musicians, but all of us as we listened to their music. Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. Certainly many love stories began and sometimes ended whilst dancing to their music. In the next two features on the Jazz greats, William will be sharing some of their most iconic music, the musicians who influenced their passion for music and the highs and lows of their careers and personal lives.

Nat King Cole – The Finale

In last week’s post we explored Nat King Cole’s music and collaborations in the 1950s and in this final part of the series we revisit the final years of the short life of Nat King Cole. Although Nat was only 45 when he died he had performed for over 30 years and had been a huge influence on the music of the time.

His influence was not restricted to the world of music as he gained the respect of Presidents and statesmen as he campaigned for racial equality in all walks of life.

Not only was Nat King Cole an iconic figure in music but he was particularly appreciated by the President of the United States in the 1960s.

He was present at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 to throw his support behind Senator John F. Kennedy who won the presidential election against Richard Nixon.

Cole was also among the dozens of entertainers recruited by Frank Sinatra to perform at the Kennedy Inaugural gala in 1961. Cole frequently consulted with President Kennedy (and later President Lyndon B. Johnson) on civil rights. As he was often the victim of blunt racism in the South in particular, and throughout the country in general, his support for integration and his fight against racism were highly appreciated by both presidents.

Two of his most famous quotes against racism are:

“I am an American citizen and I feel I am entitled to the same rights as any other citizen.”

And, “I may be helping to bring harmony between people through my music.”

Nat King Cole was an international figure on the world stage. He traveled extensively, doing highly successful concert tours of Latin America, Japan, the European Continent and England. In London, he performed at a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.

Nat was chosen by Paramount Pictures to play W.C. Handy in the movie about the composer’s life, “St. Louis Blues.”

St. Louis Blues is a 1958 American film broadly based on the life of W.C. Handy. It also starred jazz and blues greats Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Eartha Kitt, as well as gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and actress Ruby Dee. In conjunction with the film, Cole recorded an album of W. C. Handy compositions arranged by Nelson Riddle, and Fitzgerald incorporated “St. Louis Blues” into her concert repertoire.

Nat King Cole with Barney Bigard, Teddy Buckner etc: W. C.Handy’s “Careless Love”

Nat King Cole’s last album,L-O-V-E” was recorded in early December 1964—just a few days before he entered the hospital for cancer treatment—and was released just prior to his death. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Albums chart in the spring of 1965. A “Best Of” album went gold in 1968.

“L-O-V-E” was one of the three songs Nat recorded that day, and he would pass away less than 3 months from the date of this session. Nat knew at the time of this recording that he was headed to the hospital.

His 1957 recording of “When I Fall In Love” reached #4 in the UK charts in 1987.

Cole was inducted into both the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Some famous quotes by Nat King Cole:

“I’m a musician at heart, I know I’m not really a singer. I couldn’t compete with real singers. But I sing because the public buys it.”

“If I could read it, I could play it.”

I’m an interpreter of stories. When I perform it’s like sitting down at my piano and telling fairy stories.”

Here is “Don’t Get Around Much anymore”. The song is a jazz standard with music by Duke Ellington and lyrics by Bob Russell. The tune was originally called “Never No Lament” and was first recorded by Ellington in 1940 as a big-band instrumental. Russell’s lyrics and the new title were added in 1942.

Nat King Cole recorded this song on the “Just One Of Those Things” album in the summer of 1957. It was arranged and conducted by Billy May and produced by Lee Gillette for Capitol Records. The album was released in November 1957.

Additional source: Wikipedia

Next time.. the life and music of Mel Torme… I hope you will tune in again.

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

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

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

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


Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Podcast – Tales from the Garden – The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing the stories from Tales from the Garden which I hope you will enjoy in audio

Thanks for tuning into the new series of stories from Tales from The Garden in audio. A collection I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid where we lived from 1999 to 2016. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden.

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

In this third story two stone eagles hidden for a century are discovered by the last emperor.

In this story two stone eagles hidden many years ago are unearthed by an unlikely treasure hunter… who fulfils a long held prophesy.


Images ©Sally Cronin

I hope you have enjoyed the story and will join me again next week for another.

You can find out more about my books and reviews: Sally’s Books and Reviews