About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland by Sally Cronin


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time we had two chapters together meeting other pack members and also learning about respect for our elders. Sam was passionate about one other thing in his life that even knocked sausages into second position…. well perhaps not!

Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland

Let me explain first and foremost what a good walk is all about. Unlike humans we dogs rely heavily on our sense of smell when we are out walking and you also have to understand that territory is everything to us.

For the first six weeks in my new home I was restricted to the garden of the house until I had received my final vaccinations against diseases that could harm me. It was important that I did not come in contact with other dogs, particularly those who might not have been vaccinated.

There are certain rules that need to be followed when staking out one’s own territory, and one of the most important is that one does not do any business near ones bedding, as this in not hygienic. I have met dogs in the last ten years who are confined to small spaces for long periods of time and they have no choice but to use the same space as their bathroom. They find this distressing and it stresses them.

I was lucky, in as much as I had my own safe enclosed space in the garden that Henry and I shared from time to time with Sally, who used to lie on the sun bed with us. Later, I also had the whole garden of two acres to play in. However, apart from marking the boundaries of the garden with wee which is acceptable, any other business had to be done in strategic places outside those boundaries, to notify any other packs in the area that there was a new boy on the block.

From the first time I was allowed out of the garden onto the lane that we lived on, I never pooped in my own territory again unless I was absolutely desperate or unwell. It simply is not done.

Anyway, during the time that I was restricted to the garden, Sally had been playing with me on a long lead. The leash was housed in a casing that extended to about twenty-six feet or could be shortened so that I walked by her side. This gave me the freedom to roam and sniff to my heart’s content, but when it was necessary I could be brought back safely. Here I am with my first harness and lead.

We practiced these manoeuvres in the garden, and when we finally went out into the lane I was already trained.

Although it was a narrow farm lane there was quite a bit of traffic at certain times of the day and Sally trained me to sit on the grass verge whenever we heard a car coming; allowing it to pass safely by us.

I had been viewing and smelling the lane through the gate for a couple of weeks and was very excited by the prospect of enlarging my territory. Apart from Henry I had not met any other animals and he had told me that there were several along the lane who were worth getting to know.

He warned me about two feral cats that tended to lie in wait for small rodents and any careless birds that might land. Also about a dog who lived around two bends who was not right in the head. Apparently he had been hit by a car when he was a couple of years old and he now had a terrible temper.

To begin with, and because I only had short legs, we only went to the bottom of the lane towards the main road. The smells sent me into overdrive as we passed the five or six houses that lined the lane. Each had its own distinctive scent, and inexperienced as I was, I knew that there were different humans and animals within each of these territories.

The most fascinating smells came from the house that was nearly opposite ours and the people who lived there owned greyhounds. They used to breed them in my early days and at certain times a tantalizing aroma would waft into my territory. Although I did not quite understand why, I would become very excited and boisterous.

When Sally saw that I was well behaved on the lead and was able to walk a little further, we started getting into the car in the mornings and heading out to the beach which was about two miles away. The sand stretched for miles and miles and we were both as fit as a butcher’s dog within a few short weeks.

This was a wonderful adventure as there were a mixture of grass covered dunes and nearly four miles of wide sandy beach. Other owners would be out with their dogs and I was introduced to lots of new friends over the next five years. My favourite friend was a little white terrier called Abby who would see me from miles away and come rushing up to me.

As I got bigger it got more difficult for her to reach my nose to kiss so she would have to jump up and down to get a good lick in. She would run in and out of my legs in excitement and try to get me to chase her. She was much faster than I was but I loved our games. I still miss her today.

I am afraid that I did continue to be very particular about food and drink even when out for a walk. I like many dogs believe that stagnant water can be harmful to you.  This is why, from a very early age, I would always head for the side of the house where the garden hose was stored to be given a drink from a running tap. Of course Sally and David would often take advantage of the situation and begin to spray me with water which was slightly annoying. However, one of my favourite games was to snap at the spray as they swung the hose around getting thoroughly soaked in the process.

Anyway, I am side-tracked again. When out for a walk of course there was no handy hose but Sally and David used to carry water bottles for their own use. It did not take me long to establish with gentle nudges and the use of the “tongue hanging out side of mouth, obviously I am thirsty” technique to train them both to let me drink from the bottles myself.

For some reason they were reluctant to share with me, I cannot imagine why, so I ended up with my own bottle and at frequent intervals during my walks, especially in the heat of the Spanish sun I would keep myself hydrated.

I was really lucky that when we moved to Spain I would be able to enjoy the same sort of beach on the south coast and for me there is nothing like a walk by the sea with the feel of sand between your toes.

So in the mornings it was the beach and in the afternoons we would go out in the lane. Each week we would walk a little further until at six months old I could walk for an hour easily.

I was never afraid of being in new surroundings and did my best to leave my mark to let other users know who had visited. I considered the lane to be an extended part of my territory and as there were only one or two dogs who walked it regularly it became a competition as to who could mark the most. At that time I was still peeing like a girl and it was not until I was eighteen months old that I suddenly found myself cocking my leg in the air. This allowed me fantastic opportunities to pee higher and higher over other dogs’ markings and I was confident that I was top dog in the area.

That was until the day that the mad dog on the second bend on the lane escaped from his garden and attacked us.

We were walking along minding our own business but I have to say that I found it hard to resist marking the hedge on the bend where the dog lived because he used to go wild and race up and down desperate to get out and show me who was boss. I had passed that way so many times that I was very blasé about the whole thing. After all he had never got through the fence before and young and cocky as I was I enjoyed winding him up.

We had just passed the edge of his territory and had left him barking in our wake when we both heard the sound of wood cracking. We turned and looked behind us and were horrified to see a large black dog, with teeth bared, charging up the road at us.

I had been on an extended lead but Sally rushed towards me and shoved me between her legs and faced the oncoming dog. He ignored her and leapt on me trying to drag me out and under him. Sally was screaming at the top of her voice hoping that the owner would come out of the house that was a good fifty yards away but she could see that despite my thick fur I was going to be killed if she did nothing.

Sally would never harm any animal but she knew she had no choice and pushed the dog hard in the side. He yelped and moved away but decided that he was not going to give up. He leapt in the air and as he did, Sally grabbed him by the ruff and threw him into the ditch. I do not know where she got the strength but the dog obviously decided that this combined with the shouting and screaming that she was doing meant that she was a larger and more dominant dog than he was. Addled though his brain was he retreated back into the safety of his home and we ran past his territory to the safety of our own stretch of lane.

Shaking we went into our garden, locked the gate and retreated to the house. Sally knew the owner of the dog by sight and when she next saw him in the lane in his van, she stepped into the road and stopped him. She told him in no uncertain terms that she would report him and his dog unless he assured her that he would ensure that the dog was completely unable to get out of the garden again.

True to his word he reinforced the entire fence around his house and in fact a year later became our gardener and a good friend. He loved his dog despite him being vicious with strangers and other dogs and Sally understood how difficult it would have been for him to have the dog put down.

Despite the new security for the dog it was two years before I would even go past that corner, and I always stopped and turned around. Even when I was much older I would only go past the bend if David was with us reckoning that as the Alpha male of our pack he would only pass if it was safe to do so.

I am happy to say that has really been the only time that I have found another dog to be simply vicious. As I have got older I have found that I am getting a little intolerant of uppity youngsters myself and in my own youth I was told off from time to time by older dogs who wanted to teach me some manners. It is true to say that their bark was worse than their bite and I am grateful to them for educating me about social graces.

Over the next five years I got to explore a lot of Ireland as David was a mountain runner. We also went to Wales across the sea in a large smelly box, where I had to stay in the car alone.  I was of course extremely brave, but just in case Sally left me with a pig’s ear to keep me busy. Our favourite places were sandy beaches where we could paddle in the water. Life was good.

As you can tell apart from that one unfortunate experience when I was young, I had a wonderful variety of walks each day, and I knew every inch of them intimately. After five years all this changed, and after spending at least half my life sopping wet, I was to move to a very different territory with strange smells and hot sun, and I will tell you more of that adventure later.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thanks for taking a walk with us and I hope that you will join us next time for my favourite car rides.

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Traci Kenworth


Welcome to Getting to Know You and this week my guest is Traci Kenworth who is incredibly supportive of the blogging community and has regularly shared posts from here in her comprehensive blog post promotions. If you head over to her blog you will find several shared posts a day leading to some of our most interesting bloggers. She also has her own posts on blogging and writing tips.

Traci lives in Northeast Ohio with her son and daughter and four cats. She writes YA Fantasy, Scary, and Historical Romances and is a a member of YAFF (Young Adult Fiction Fantatics). As you will see from Traci’s interview, there have been some dark and challenging times in her life, and she credits writing and her faith as being instrumental in giving her purpose and helping her move forward.

The heroines that she writes about are created from those times and are survivors surrounded by those that they love.

I want to give others hope, and a way back when they think everything is lost.”

She is currently working on her finished books and hopes to publish soon. Traci contributed the story ‘Linked’ to the anthology edited by Mary Blowers.

One of the reviews for the anthology

This is a special collection. Combining a variety of authors and works. Mostly poems and short stories that are written with the reader in mind. The author’s in this collection want to give the reader a feeling of being emotionally touched and they have succeeded. Although the title infers dreams and vision the reader will also a find a section of nightmares. My personal favorite! No matter what you like this showcase will let readers find a variety of great artists with wonderful tales that may bring out the goosebumps and lift the spirits. The collection is well put together and one readers will want to have handy to read again and again!

You can buy the anthology of 38 poems and stories here: Amazon US  and Amazon UK

Now time to find out which of the 52 questions Traci has selected to answer today.

Welcome Traci and can you let us know what is your favourite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday would be Halloween. I like the character of it, I think. It’s all dress up and scares. Nothing serious, mind you! I just like the costumes, the parties, the treats, the feeling that you’re sharing in the fun with everybody. My family puts on their own private party with Witch’s Brew complete with hand ice sculpture, Spider cupcakes, Eyeball cookies, and bloody tacos. There’s various other treats and food but that’s all I can think of at the moment, lol.

It’s not just the food though, it’s followed by/with a Halloween Marathon where we watch scary movies. We use a hat to see which one gets picked. The event usually lasts 24hrs. and we do it on days the kids have off, so we don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning too early.

Sally here: I hope this gives all of you a bit of a fright….. and will be added to Traci’s next 24 hour Halloween Marathon.

If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?

I would grab my flash drives as they contain my works. My computer is too big to carry but I could replace that if I had to. I would also take my photos. I have so precious few of them. More from the times after we moved here, just stacks and stacks of things. I saved a LOT of the projects my kids did in school. I have treasure-holds of boxes with everything. So, if I could manage to carry just a few of them if nothing else that would be awesome. I’d take my purse, of course. First, for the phone, then all the important stuff it holds. I would like to take my fire safe box but that should survive, hopefully. Oh, and of course, my cats! I’d have to keep them in my car until help arrived since I only have two carriers and four of them. Yeah, I need to get more carriers!

Knowing now, what you didn’t know then, what would you have done differently?

Another hard one. I could pick so many things I wish I’d done differently but the truth is, they would’ve changed me if I did. I might not have had my two wonderful children if I risked not meeting my ex or going through the abuse that we did.

I think one thing, I would pick for sure though: would be college. I only got to go for a year-and-a-half. I couldn’t drive at that point and so transferring to a school closer to home wasn’t an option. That would be number two on the change list: driving sooner. It opens the world for you and had I not known how to drive when the abuse cycle came to its climax, well, I don’t want to think what would’ve happened. I thank God that my aunt left me a car just before things started going sideways. But back to why I’d say college: a better job, more choices. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten hurt at work and ended up on disability after PTSD and the bipolar triggered.

What is one thing (moral or practical) your grandparent taught you how to do that you still do today?

My grandpa taught me how important family is and that you always take care of each other. My mom has passed on this tradition as well. If one of us needs help from the other, we ask. My family was extremely supportive of me and the kids when they found out about my ex, what was going on, what we’d been through. They let me stay at their house, took me places, went to court with me. I can’t thank them enough for that. We share holidays together and spend time with each other when we can. Some of us live closer than others. I had to call on my brother to help us with the lawn this year and I’m grateful he’s able to do so.

If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?

This is a hard one because I love a lot of different animals but the one I guess I’d pick is cats. They are always so mysterious and contemplating things. I would like to know their opinion on things. Do they like their food, really? Why do they like a plain cardboard box versus expensive beds? What do they really think of us? Ah, but that one might backfire on me, lol. What if they just tolerate us for the food? If they could take care of themselves and didn’t need us would they still stick around? Yes, I’d love to know these questions and more.

Sally here: I managed to find a video of some conversations between cats and their humans and it is quite clear to me that the cats are making themselves understood loud and clear.

Lovely to have Traci over today and make her the star for a change. I hope you have enjoyed and will follow her blog and on social media. Please say hello and we look forward to your comments. Thanks Sally.

Connect to Traci.

Blog: https://tracikenworth.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TraciKenworth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/traci.kenworth
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4776151-traci-kenworth
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tracikenworth/

If you would like to read some of the previous interviews and participate here is the link and I am booking for September at the moment. This might be useful if you have a book being released or a special event of some kind that you would like to promote: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2018/

 

The Legacy of Milly, Part 4

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Over the last week or so I have been reblogging the wonderful series of posts on the Peace Quilt by Jennie Fitzkee… I hope you will head over and read part 4 but the links to the other three parts can be found there so you can catch up. Enjoy

The Legacy of Milly, Part 4

In Part 3, Milly brought in beautiful fabrics and placed them on the sketch of the Peace Quilt spread out across a big table.  Children came to her like moths to a candle, picking out just the right fabrics.  At last the quilt was completed, and it was a work of art.  We wrote a poetry book and the quilt was big news in town.  I told ‘the world’, including the director of the National Liberty Museum.

Part 4

“Jennie, thank you for telling us about the quilt.  I’m sure it is as stunning as your Peace Peace Portal” said the museum director.”  That was so nice!  She then continued.

“I want to tell you that the museum would like the Peace Quilt.  We want it as part of our permanent display.”

I was shocked.  And here, I’d just wanted them to know all that had transpired since I saw their Peace Portal.  I was thrilled.  Then it sank in- a quilt from my classroom was going to be displayed – permanently – in a national museum. I couldn’t wait to tell Milly!

We talked, laughed, and enjoyed the moment.  Milly was pleased as punch and just as taken aback as I was.

“Milly, you have done so much for us.  You made this quilt.  How can I ever thank you?”

Milly didn’t bat an eye.  “Take me to Philadelphia” she said, with gusto.

via The Legacy of Milly, Part 4

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #FREE Books #Adventure #Children’s #Memoir – Mary Smith, Annabelle Franklin, Jemima Pett and Chuck Jackson

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Welcome to the Summer Sale in the Cafe and Bookstore and today it is the turn of the FREE books currently available either on Amazon or Smashwords.

Whilst there is no pressure to review books that you download especially when they are free, I hope that you will enjoy all the selection today and share that with others. Thanks Sally

The first author who would love you to download and read one of her books is Mary Smith with No More Mulberries… I loved this book and can highly recommend it.  There are an impressive number of excellent reviews for the book which continues to delight readers. It is FREE from 14th to 18th inclusive.

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

One of the recent reviews for No More Mulberries.

via Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #FREE Books #Adventure #Children’s #Memoir – Mary Smith, Annabelle Franklin, Jemima Pett and Chuck Jackson

Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Nine and Ten – Other Pack Members and Respect your Elders


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_In the last chapter Sam demonstrated his language abilities and they seem to be centered around the acquisition of his favourite foods.  This time he introduces us to other pack members.

Chapter Nine and Ten – Other Pack Members and Respect Your Elders.

I considered Henry to be part of our pack despite being a cat. I also included the dog next door Danny despite Sally trying to keep us apart.

Danny came to his new home and was allowed a level of freedom that is common in rural areas. He did not go for organised walks but was allowed to roam his two acres and the lane from a very early age.

These made him far more street wise than I was and also gave him access to the other gardens in the lane which did not necessarily make him very popular with the neighbours.
He would sneak in under the fence into our garden despite Sally spending vast sums of money “Danny proofing” our territory. She was afraid he would lead me astray and take me on one of his road trips. Whereas Danny was streetwise I was not and being a sheep dog, Sally worried that I might get too interested in the flock at the end of the lane and get shot by the farmer. One night I did actually crawl under the fence at his invitation and found myself in the dark, on the wrong side of the hedge.

I think Danny was having a laugh at my expense and was trying to teach me a lesson for my previous cowardice in not following him on one of his escapades. He disappeared into the darkness and through the back door of his house leaving me stranded.

Sally who had only turned her back for a minute while she fetched a flashlight was frantically calling for me on our side of the hedge and I barked to let her know where I was and that I was scared.

She came up our long drive and marched down the neighbour’s waving her torch and calling me. I had never experienced any form of mistreatment at her hands but I knew when she was not happy and that this was one of those occasions. I hid behind the dustbins and heard her ring the doorbell.

When it was answered by the next door neighbour I heard a number of words that I did not understand only catching a few.

“Your damn dog has been over into our garden again and this time he has brought Sam back with him and now I can’t find him. Put your outside lights on so that I can find Sam and in future keep that dog of yours under control.”

It was more the tone that alerted me to the fact that Sally was angry and that I needed to please her immediately. I slunk out of cover and up to her where she attached me to my lead and walked firmly and quickly up the neighbour’s drive and into our own garden.

As we walked she only said two words repeatedly. “Bad Boy.” And although I could not see it I knew that she was wagging her finger at me. Tail between my legs I walked beside her and into our own house. I was upset that she was upset and sat down and offered my paw in penance. With that she leant down and hugged me tight.

“Sam don’t ever do that again, I was frantic with worry. I love you so much and couldn’t bear to lose you.”

Of course I did not understand all the words but I did appreciate the feelings that poured from her.

To this day I have never done anything like that again. I always know where both she and David are, and even though I may not be on a lead, I stay close enough at all times so that I can see them. Luckily my lead is 26 feet in length which means that I get the best of both worlds, room to roam on our walks but still in touch with them both. We were very lucky to have such a beautiful sandy beach and dunes on our doorstep in Ireland that provided plenty of safe walking and playing adventures.

I have to say though that Danny still used to come through the fence and we would play together in the long grass of the meadow behind our house and I reckoned as long as I stayed on my side of the fence within sight of the house I could still enjoy the friendship of this freedom loving dog. He told me of his adventures but after a while I realised that the lane and his garden was his entire world where as I travelled many miles in the car with my pack and visited many different places.

Eventually he got bored and frustrated hearing my tales of the world beyond the lane and stopped coming to play.

David and Sally had broken away from their own packs to form their own many years ago. However, unlike in my case, older former pack members retain a high status in their offspring’s circle and often visit. Siblings are also welcomed although I have to say that when all the packs come together for an annual reunion some of the younger members appear not to have learnt as much about pack protocol as I have.

Sorry, just an old dog talking and when I was younger I did enjoy the additional attention that I was given by small humans but I am afraid I have grown rather intolerant lately and tend to find one of my favourite sleeping places hidden around the house when we have younger visitors.

Apart from immediate pack members there were also visitors from other packs that became very important in my life during the time David was in Madrid.

Sally’s mother was called Grand Mollie and I first met her when I was about six months old. At that time I was really only interested in my immediate needs but I stored away her smell and knew that she was part of Sally’s pack and therefore part of mine.

 

The next time she came to visit was when I was a year old at Christmas and this time I took my new job as head of security very seriously and guarded her at all times. I slept on the landing outside Sally and David’s room but during Grand Mollie’s visit I camped outside her door and escorted her to the bathroom during the night and always preceded her down the stairs etc.

Sally had given me strict instructions that I was to look after her and as her feet used to get very cold sometimes I took it upon myself to lie over them whenever she sat down.

She was very appreciative and of course whilst it had no bearing on my devotion to her the odd sneaked snippet of cheese and sausage that she slipped me only confirmed that she was a worthy member of the pack.

David’s father lived in Dublin and he would visit us out in the country. I went to his house once when I was still very young but unfortunately his head of security “Tuffy” was not going to allow some ‘wet behind the ears’ new pack member have the run of her territory inside the house or outside in the garden. She very quickly showed me who was the boss.

She backed me into a corner, sat and glared at me, daring me to move. Even though I was only a few months old, I was considerably bigger than she was, but I felt little inclination to cross teeth with her and I never visited again. I know that she was just doing her job and in her way she taught me that you have to respect other peoples territory and that you must be prepared to drop the ‘nice doggy’ persona for a slightly more resolute stance from time to time.

I have never bitten anyone although I have to say I have been tempted from time to time particularly at the vets. As I have got older I have become slightly less tolerant but have discovered that turning away and going and weeing as high up in a bush as possible is quite affective particularly if confronted with one of the smaller breeds on a lead. If it is a larger dog and he is off the lead then I have determined that a dignified retreat to live and fight another day is by far the best approach.

When David went to Madrid to work, Sally set about finding someone who would love and care for me every six weeks when she went to Spain to visit him.

She had never put me in boarding kennels, knowing that I love company and would find it very lonely stuck in a box on my own for most of the day. I have to say that apart from a couple of special dogs I have never really been bothered about my own breed as I much prefer the interaction I have with humans.

There are two other humans who joined our pack and I came to love them very much. One was the wife of someone who worked with David and her name was Aunty Kay.

She was a soft spoken Irish woman who had a very gentle touch. At one of the final work parties that Sally and David attended before he moved to Spain, they had got into conversation with Kay and mentioned that Sally was going to try and go over to Spain to see David every six weeks but that they were trying to find someone to look after me in her absence.

I think that I have already conveyed how very important I was within the pack and how much I was loved. As I mentioned, Sally had never felt comfortable with the notion of putting me behind bars for twenty two hours of the day so that she could go off and have fun and so she wanted to find someone who had a garden and loved dogs as much as she did.

Aunty Kay immediately said that she would love to look after me and delightedly Sally arranged for Kay to come out to the house for lunch and to meet me.

The first time I smelled Kay I knew that she was kind and gentle and would love me very much. I sat by her all through lunch and when she seemed to understand that cheese was my favourite and gave me some, I also knew that we would get along just fine.

For the next two years I spent long weekends at Kay’s home in Ballinteer and enjoyed expanding my territory to include large park lands and tree lined streets which as you know is every dog’s kind of heaven. I met Kay’s cats who after a little induction training left the house to me and retreated to the garden shed where they glared balefully at me whenever I was in the small back garden.

I also met Kay’s pack members during my visits including her sister and family who lived abroad and came to visit.

On one of her sister’s visits she went out one morning and did not return until the next day. When she did she had a very young and smelly human with her. I knew instinctively that it was a new puppy and that when it was being fed both it and its mother needed to be protected. I would lie across the mother’s feet while she nursed the baby and would allow no one else near her at all. When the baby was asleep in its carrier I also guarded it to ensure that it was safe. That was my job in my pack, head of security and even in young adulthood I was very aware of my responsibilities.

Kay also had a pack member who smelt of old age and warm musky smells. She wore a very long black dress and a black cloth on her head. When she first came I was a little scared as all I could see was a face peering out from under the black cloth. However, her voice was gentle and fragile and with any old pack member you must be gentle as they do not like to play games as we youngsters do.

As part of my duties to my own pack elders such as Grand Mollie, it was important to keep them warm and safe when they move around the house and gardens. I extended this courtesy to Aunty Kay’s pack members as well and at 96 years old, her aunt who had been a nun since she was twelve years old, certainly qualified. I rarely left her side and sat with my head on her lap as her hand gently stroked my fur.

They were happy days but Sally felt that Kay who refused any kind of payment for looking after me should not be put upon all the time and that perhaps we needed to find me another loving and caring foster mum to join the pack. We advertised in the local paper.

We were inundated with offers to look after me and after Sally had checked through them all she decided that we should both go to people’s homes and meet the applicants for an interview.

We conducted two and after smelling the inside of the living room of the first one we both decided that perhaps being only a young dog I might be a little too frisky for the elderly couple. Also I have to admit there were one or two strange smells that I found rather overpowering including one came from a rather full ashtray and one from a basket containing clothes in the kitchen.

The second house was close by at a place called Bettystown and was the home of Aunty Katie. Like Kay she immediately realised how important I was and as I sat with my head on her lap she got the message straight away that a drink and a treat was required.

Sally liked her and her husband too and they lived very close to the beach where I walked twice a day. Katie not only loved dogs but was passionate about owls and the house was dedicated to them in all shapes and sizes.

I was truly pampered at Aunty Katy’s house and was offered both the bedroom and a comfortable sofa to sleep on. I quickly communicated with my body and linguistic skills my needs and these were met with pleasing rapidity.

I loved both my foster mistresses and looked forward to my visits to them, leaping in the car and rushing into their homes to be greeted exuberantly which is the only way for a pack to greet each other.

I went to Katie’s every other trip and so I had two wonderful foster homes where I was pampered and spoilt.

David came home to Ireland every six weeks and we had wonderful games in the garden while he was home. Sally and I lived on our own in the meantime and this is why I have such an ability to understand the spoken word. Some people may have thought her quite mad to hold conversations with a dog but I am a very good listener and she managed to avoid talking to me in public so it was our little secret.

®sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story  2009

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally

Retired No One Told me! Weekly roundup…Roses, Rambutan and a Rescue…


Time to catch up with our food and cookery expert’s own blog. Carol Taylor offers a taste of Thailand, great recipes, sensible eating and Fruity Friday… this week Rasberries.. not blowing them but eating them….. always something to read..enjoy

Retired? No one told me!

That was the week that was… A thrilling rescue by some very brave men who risked life and limb and for one he did forfeit his life but what a legacy he has left and he will be forever remebered in the hearts of so many…

There is also Roses, Rambutan and rice salad… Also, lots more so get yourself a drink, settle down and have a good read…

lady relaxing kindle-1867751_1280

Fruity Friday last week was the luscious Rambutan fruit…fully in season and a joy to eat… It looks scary but the fronds are so soft, a pretty fruit known as Chom Chom in Vietnam which means messy hair.

rambutan open fruit-2477586_1280https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/fruity-friday-rambutan-fruit/

We then had young Paul from over at Sally’s with a delightful post on Roses…Which invoked many memories for me from my dad’s rose garden to crab apple jelly and the belly ache I used to get from eating the crab apples…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #FREE Books #Adventure #Children’s #Memoir – Mary Smith, Annabelle Franklin, Jemima Pett and Chuck Jackson


Welcome to the Summer Sale in the Cafe and Bookstore and today it is the turn of the FREE books currently available either on Amazon or Smashwords.

Whilst there is no pressure to review books that you download especially when they are free, I hope that you will enjoy all the selection today and share that with others. Thanks Sally

The first author who would love you to download and read one of her books is Mary Smith with No More Mulberries… I loved this book and can highly recommend it.  There are an impressive number of excellent reviews for the book which continues to delight readers. It is FREE from 14th to 18th inclusive.

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

One of the recent reviews for No More Mulberries.

No More Mulberries is more than just a love story but a tale of hardship, loss, survival against all odds, and the importance of family. It is a story about two people who are different as any two can be. Miriam, from Scotland meets Jawad, an Afghan, and fall in love. She moves to his country and begins a love affair with Afghanistan.

When Jawad suffers an untimely death Miriam must decide whether to go back to her own homeland of Scotland with her son or stay. She meets another Afghan man, Iqbal, and sees a way to stay in this country with her son.

The cultural differences are numerous and difficult for the couple to overcome. They must come to terms with complicated problems in her new husband’s past in order to continue with their life together. All couples, no matter what culture they come from, have similar setbacks to deal through.

The author takes the reader on a journey through this backward country and all its antiquated beliefs about medicine and education for girls. The reader is drawn to all the beauty that the author is detailing which shows the love she has for this country.

Although I have never traveled to this part of the world I felt an empathy for the people and their remarkable ability to survive. With the Taliban at their back door they are forced to escape or stand against evil.

This is an unforgettable story about the resilience of one woman to conquer what many could not fathom. An enjoyable book and a must read for all! Kudos to the author for an outstanding novel!

 Read more of the reviews and download the book for FREE 14th to 18th July: https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith/dp/1849234205

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith-ebook/dp/B005RRDZ12

A selection of books by Mary Smith

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

Connect to Mary via her website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/

Now time for some children’s books beginning with The Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin which is on Free on Smashwords for all of July.

About The Slapstyx

The sea is dying, poisoned by greedy businessman Zachary Zigstack, who has enlisted the help of the Slapstyx goblins to make sure everyone buys his highly toxic detergent. These grubby goblins fill human homes with grime that can only be removed with Zigstack products. Psychic twins Georgie and Gem must use their magical skills to put an end to Zigstack’s unholy alliance with the Slapstyx.

Twin sisters Georgie and Gem care about the environment and are deeply ashamed of their stepfather Geoffrey, who sells detergents made of bad chemicals that fill the sea with toxic slime.

The twins try to convince Geoffrey to get another job, but he refuses. ‘ZOOM’ is the world’s best-selling cleaning product, and Geoffrey loves being a superstar salesman – even though his boss, Zachary Zigstack, only pays him peanuts.

Together with a tribe of grubby goblins called the Slapstyx, Zigstack has hatched an ingenious plan to make sure everyone buys his dastardly detergent. He has promised the Slapstyx a mountain of gold, which he has yet to deliver.

Georgie and Gem can leave their bodies at will and fly around in an astral vehicle they call their ‘dreambody’. This ‘dreamwalking’ enables them to travel to other dimensions and meet the creatures that live there. One night they dreamwalk to the goblin dimension and rumble Zigstack’s pact with the Slapstyx. The goblins threaten to kill them if they tell anyone about it.

The twins make friends with a mermaid called Eltra whose tribe – known as the Delphinae – look after the dolphins. The ZOOM overload in the sea has created toxic plankton-based monsters called Sloyds who are out to destroy all the other sea creatures. Eltra begs the twins for help.

Though they are terrified of the Slapstyx, Georgie and Gem promise Eltra they will try and stop them working for Zigstack. But can they do it before the world’s oceans are turned into toxic plankton soup?

More to the point, can they do it before the goblins put them out of action for good?

One of the reviews for the book

I have an eight year old step son who I think would absolutely adore this novel! It is a middle grade story about twin sisters who can leave their bodies and fly as spirits, and in Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin, the twins are on a mission to stop an evil magician and his goblin cohorts from selling their uncleanly and unsafe “cleaning” product to the world.

Zachary Zigstack wants to take over the world with his product ZOOM!!! which is apparently going to rid the world of dirt and grime. In reality, he wants to pollute the ocean, and make the entire planet as unsanitary as possible. the twins, Gem and Georgie use their magical projection powers to spy on Zachary and his evil goblins and try to find a way to stop them from polluting the planet.

This was a cute book for a pre-teen, I definitely think that my step son would enjoy it. It’s clear, concise, and has a message that all kids should learn about. The characters of Georgie and Gem were likable, though I felt that the girls weren’t strong in their differences, and they were kind of paper dolls (meaning that they didn’t have very distinct personalities that a pre-teen would look up to), I did think that they were fun and enjoyed their relationship with each other. I however did enjoy the character of Zachary much more, I could just seem him using his dark magic, and bent over himself rubbing his palms together.

One of my favorite things in movies, television, and even books, is when the title is odd, or doesn’t make sense, until you watch or read, and this is the perfect example of that! Slapstyx is an interesting title, but works great with this book! I give this a 4 out of 5 stars, a fun, charming adventure that any kid would love to go on, it’s a socially conscious one too.

Head over and get your FREE copy at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/546261

Also by Annabelle Franklin

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Annabelle-Franklin/e/B00CHL8RF0

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annabelle-Franklin/e/B00CHL8RF0/

And read more reviews and follow Annabelle on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6904737.Annabelle_Franklin

Connect to Annabelle through her blog: http://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com

The next children’s author with her books free in July is Jemima Pett with four books to be snapped up. Starting with The Princelings of the North – ( Book 8 of the Princelings of the East)

About the book

Dylan and Dougall are princelings at Castle Haunn, a remote place to the far northwest of an island off the coast of Scotland. So when they discover a prince locked in a tower, their thoughts turn to rescue and returning him to his rightful place in a castle hundreds of miles away. But nothing is ever that easy, and what starts as a simple mission turns into a nightmare that rocks the foundations of the Realms.

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Apr 18, 2018 Ahdev rated it it was amazing  ·

A very nice read. Adventurous ride which adults can enjoy as well!

This is the book 8 in the series but one can even read it as a standalone, as the author has given character introductions in the beginning itself. It’s very easy to grasp the story and get engrossed with the Princelings Dylan & Dougall and exiled Prince Kevin’s journey!

The writing is simple and neat, engaging throughout. The chapter drawings and its one-two line details are great ideas! I loved the story and all the characters, a nice travel with fantasy and kingdoms and power games! And happy with the good ending too!! Recommended for all :

Head over and download your FREE copy from Smashwords (the first 50 to apply): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/732380

Also FREE for July on Smashwords.

The Book Elves Anthologies Volumes 1 and 2: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/493196

The Perihelix (book 1 of the Viridian series) FREE for the first 50 readers https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/607252

A small selection of other books by Jemima Pett

 Read all the reviews for all the books and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE

Read more reviews and follow Jemima on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5388872.Jemima_Pett

Connect to Jemima via her blog:  http://jemimapett.com/blog/

The final author today with a FREE offer is Chuck Jackson for his new release Guilt – My CompanionA Journey to Healing. Chuck has asked for some feedback on the book should you download it, and has a couple of other requests if you would like to take advantage of this offer between now and the 17th of July. You will need to go to Chuck’s website to get the link which takes you to the free giveaway for US residents only I am afraid. Chuck Jackson’s Free Guilt – My Companion

About Guilt – My Companion

Guilt—My Companion is a story based on the author’s strength and recovery from a dysfunctional family. It begins in the ‘60s during a period filled with social and personal injustice. It tells the struggle of his conscience against societies’ ignorance and prejudice. It follows his journey to recoup from personal tragedy and grief. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Live is a journey, not a destination.”.

But for this story, the journey is the destinations he took. It wasn’t where he intended, and he had little control of the paths he took. Along those paths were heartaches and defeat. He found deception, prejudice, and hate. Lay in waiting was his companion, guilt; the robber of personal pleasure. Follow his story and discover when he conquered guilt, there was nothing inhibiting his self-growth and happiness.

One of the reviews for the book

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars The epilogue best describes the outcome June 20, 2018

The book stayed true to the title. I found it gripping and, in many cases, difficult to comprehend the cruelty imposed upon the author. The epilogue best describes the outcome: (1) Healing involved a desire to change the habit of carrying baggage, and (2) professional help. The author, Denis Waitley, wrote that “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” I believe that the author’s journey possessed all of these.

Without grace, he would not have made the remarkable life he has lived. Without love, he couldn’t fight against the emotional abuse of hate. Without gratitude, he couldn’t have written his books.

This book is for all of us; for the times we’ve allowed ourselves to wallow in the darkness of resentment and anger, guilt, and subsequent depression. By sharing this journey, the author opened up his heart with love, grace, and gratitude and gave us this book.

To get your free download of the book in the US: Chuck Jackson’s Free Guilt – My Companion

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-My-Companion-Journey-Healing/dp/1717393012

And buy Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guilt-My-Companion-Journey-Healing-ebook/dp/B07CPZJ4BQ

Also by Chuck Jackson

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG

Connect to Chuck via his website/blog: http://www.chuckjacksonknowme.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will take advantage of these free offers and enjoy the books… If you have any of your books FREE in July then please let me know on sally.cronin@moyhill.com as soon as possible. thanks Sally

#Bookreview – The Yak Guy Project by C. S. Boyack


Robbie Cheadle with her Saturday book #review and this week it is for The Yak Guy Project by C.S. Boyack… Robbie gives the book 5 stars.

Robbie's inspiration

thumbnail_Rosies Book Review team 1

What Amazon says

Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You’ve obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column – Too Darn Hot! #Books for beach and garden by Jessica Norrie

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Too Darn Hot! Books for beach and garden by Jessica Norrie

Calculating this post would be published on Bastille Day, I was going to celebrate French classics. But it would have meant rereading wonderful but worthy reads more suited to winter evenings. In the current UK heatwave, in the words of a favorite song, it’s too darn hot. So I looked through my shelves for easy reads, some recent, some less so, but all with great hooks, plucky plots and clear characters who don’t mind being dropped half open from a sleepy hand when the need to siesta overcomes you.

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Eligible (2016) by Curtis Sittenfeld is mid market chicklit, a fun take on Pride and Prejudice, updated to contemporary Cincinnati. Darcy is a brain surgeon, Liz an unreliable feminist magazine writer, Bingley a reality TV star and Jane a yoga instructor. It romps along tying everyone in knots of modern etiquette, but the premise (five unmarried daughters) remains recognisably Austen, as do all the characters except Liz whom I found hard to like. It’s funny, perceptive, and true, with the updated Mr and Mrs Bennet a tour de force.

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The same author published the more serious but equally readable American Wife, possibly based on Laura Bush, in 2008.

via Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column – Too Darn Hot! #Books for beach and garden by Jessica Norrie

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column – Too Darn Hot! #Books for beach and garden by Jessica Norrie


Too Darn Hot! Books for beach and garden by Jessica Norrie

Calculating this post would be published on Bastille Day, I was going to celebrate French classics. But it would have meant rereading wonderful but worthy reads more suited to winter evenings. In the current UK heatwave, in the words of a favorite song, it’s too darn hot. So I looked through my shelves for easy reads, some recent, some less so, but all with great hooks, plucky plots and clear characters who don’t mind being dropped half open from a sleepy hand when the need to siesta overcomes you.

https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1460477855l/25852870.jpg

Eligible (2016) by Curtis Sittenfeld is mid market chicklit, a fun take on Pride and Prejudice, updated to contemporary Cincinnati. Darcy is a brain surgeon, Liz an unreliable feminist magazine writer, Bingley a reality TV star and Jane a yoga instructor. It romps along tying everyone in knots of modern etiquette, but the premise (five unmarried daughters) remains recognisably Austen, as do all the characters except Liz whom I found hard to like. It’s funny, perceptive, and true, with the updated Mr and Mrs Bennet a tour de force.

https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1441087673l/2807199.jpg

The same author published the more serious but equally readable American Wife, possibly based on Laura Bush, in 2008.

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Psychological thrillers are supposed to be a contemporary genre, but Patricia Highsmith set the page turning standard fifty years ago. Will you sympathise with Tom Ripley or not, as The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) cons his way into life with gilded American youths on a trip to Europe? It’s also an excellent film.

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Consider too The Cry of the Owl (1962) in which Highsmith keeps you guessing until the final line.

If you’ve read every crime novel published since Highsmith’s time and can recite the formulae in your sleep, join Anthony Horowitz. In The Word is Murder (2018), Horowitz plays with the genre: he himself is the hero, a world weary but successful writer who’s approached by a disgraced detective to create a bestseller by writing up his next case in spectacular fashion, with the aim of sharing royalties. It goes against every scrap of better judgement Horowitz has. He doesn’t like the detective’s company or approve of his methods. But somehow he’s trapped into it, and off they go together nosing round crime scenes trying to make sense of events ahead of the Met.

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There are cameo roles for real literary agents and film moguls, insight into writing for TV, for children and into updating James Bond (all on the real Horowitz CV) as well as chases, corpses and forensics yielding clues to misread while making pithy Chandleresque wisecracks. Anything that kept me entertained in the departure lounge waiting for a delayed flight and then in the cabin as the bloody plane still didn’t take off, has got to be worth a look. It’s so clever, I still don’t know which parts really happened and which are fiction.

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Margaret Atwood’s 1996 historically set, classic novel is Alias Grace. But is it as straightforward as it seems? It’s elegantly written, and Grace is a complex, attractive, multi dimensional character, who did or didn’t commit another crime to keep you guessing. Beautifully dramatized recently on Netflix, for me this is more approachable than the more celebrated Handmaid’s Tale.

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Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2007) took me to another world – in which the narrator is being taken to mine. She’s a 1990s schoolgirl on the tropical island of Bougainville, lush with exotic plants and undergoing the daily terror of civil war (real events, barely reported in the UK). Her school has only one book, Great Expectations, and what the pupils – who have never seen a frosty morning or met a white man other than their teacher – make of it is not what we might expect. Looking through Mister Pip for this post has reminded me what a tragic, funny, moving pleasure it was to read and it’s gone straight back to the bedside table for a reread.

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The best comparison I can make is Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, also set on a tropical island of rotting vegetation and over heated personalities and referencing a British classic, which, perhaps because it’s not contemporary, seems to arouse less controversy.

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You may think life is more delicate on the French Riviera or the Tuscan countryside, in the worlds of Scott Fitzgerald and Somerset Maugham. But as the characters drain their nightly cocktails the conflicts and complexes fester, and their gilded lives on beaches and balconies have the same vulnerability as Tom Ripley’s victims. Money, or the appearance of money, can’t buy happiness, but the glitterati of Maugham’s Up at the Villa and Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night present brave, increasingly desperate faces for as long as they can. Fitzgerald was a screenwriter and his prose from 1934 zips along; Maugham, in 1941, is more long winded but such a consummate storyteller that I gobbled up the pages.

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Characters who are feeling even hotter than you are the English Edwardians of L P Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go Between (also a cult 1971 film with Julie Christie and Alan Bates). At least innocent young Leo gets to exchange his tweed Norfolk suit for a cooler linen one, given to him by a parasol twirling young woman in high necked white muslin. But why is she so generous, also presenting him with a brand new bicycle? Is the brusque, handsome farmer neighbour a friend or not, and why is Leo still troubled by the events of that summer forty years on? Leo also has one of the best opening lines in literature.

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Finally, if you prefer to read of the past in racy modern prose that leaps straight off the page, anything by Sarah Waters is unputdownable.

I hope these ideas will see you through the summer. Sally and I are busy ladies so we’ve agreed I’ll return in October. Meanwhile may the sun shine on your reading and as ever, do add your own recommendations.

©Jessica Norrie 2018

About 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, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the reviews for the book

Well-written and acutely observed on 14 December 2017

Jessica Norrie’s novel, set on a sun-drenched island somewhere in the Mediterranean, examines the personalities and pitfalls encountered on the sort of package holiday that offers holistic life-skills and self-improvement courses. While practising yoga and suchlike activities, guests at the Serendipity resort, together with staff and, from time to time, local villagers, confront social, personal and philosophical challenges.Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.

The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”

The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”

The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.norrie.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie

My thanks again to Jessica Norrie for giving us something some wonderful books to carry us through the summer months.. and look forward to welcoming her back in October.