Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Chamomile Essential Oil by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

Last time I looked at the essential oil Bergamot in more detail and also the oils that it blends well with. This week it is the turn of the well known and popular Chamomile.

Chamomile is made from the flowers from UK, France and Egypt. There are two types Roman and German and they have slightly different properties and therapeutic benefits.

  • Scent: Herbaceus, light, fruit
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Compresses, Tea.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Consoling
  • Safety: Usually none needed.

For a very calming and floral sounding essential oil, chamomile is actually a very powerful extract. It is known for some very beneficial properties and is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-biotic,anti-bacterial, pain reliever, anti-depressant and can help remove toxins from the body.

The botanical name for Roman Chamomile (Camomile) is Anthemis Nobilis and we are more familiar with it in tea form which is usually available on our supermarket shelves. The botanical name for German Chamomile is Matricaria recutita and they both have certain bioactive ingredients and uses in common there are some differences that determine which condition they are applied to.

For example Terpenoids such as chamazulene (azulene) which is in a higher concentration in the German Chamomile, not only gives it a bluer colouration, but makes it a more powerful anti-inflammatory than the Roman variety.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy for a number of common ailments including fevers and joint pain and is also very calming for rashes and other skin inflammations.

The use of the herb goes back to ancient Egypt and its use filtered across the world over the next thousand years or so and by the time of the middle ages it was being used by herbalists in Europe. The flowers of the plant were soaked in white wine as a cure for water retention, then knows as dropsy and also for liver conditions such as jaundice. It was also found to have a calming effect on patients, relieved inflammation and could also relieve chest infections and asthma.

And if you were looking to avoid bleach in your hair dye… the women of the past would make a dye from the Roman chamomile flowers to lighten their hair naturally.

Research is extensive into this herb and there are a number of varieties that have both a different physical appearance and growth pattern as well as varying health benefits.

Here is just a brief list of the health issues that the oil, tea and lotion can be applied to.

  • If you drink chamomile tea (infusions) regularly then you may find that it ease muscle and rheumatic conditions, skin rashes and help you sleep better at night. It has anti-spasmodic action that helps digestion and is great to drink after a meal. It may also help alleviate morning sickness when drunk first thing.
  • For anyone who suffers gastrointestinal problems such as diverticulitis, IBS or ulcerative colitis, drinking the tea daily may help relieve the symptoms and heal the gut to prevent leaky gut syndrome. There is some research that indicates that it may relieve the inflammation associated with Crohn’s Disease, but I do advise that you talk to a herbalist before using. It is not usual to ingest essential oils as they are much stronger than the teas, but I use one drop of peppermint in hot water for stomach cramps and I have also used one drop of Roman Chamomile to make a calming drink. Do ask advice however of a qualified practitioner before using any oil for internal use.
  • It certainly appears to have a relaxing effect on both adults and young children and is one herb that can be used for babies. But, do always ask the advice of a qualified herbalists before you do so to make sure you are using correct dosages of infusions before using to help with teething problems and stomach upsets in babies.
  • Is an anti-spasmodic you can use to ease cramping during a period and to help relieve the symptoms of the menopause.
  • It may relieve hay fever and other allergies particularly when used as a lotion on skin rashes or inflammation. It can also stimulate healing of wounds or burns but again follow directions when used for this purpose. If you use some drops in your bath water it is soothing for a number of skin conditions such as eczema and also act as an anti-bacterial agent to prevent the spread of any infections.
  • German chamomile is a vasodilator and relaxes the walls of blood vessels therefore reducing blood pressure.
  • Use a drop of oil in some warm water for an effective mouthwash and to help heal soft tissue in the mouth including gum disease.
  • It can be inhaled to relieve the symptoms of hay fever which is particularly useful at this time of year.
  • In studies it is believed that Roman chamomile can be beneficial for heart disease as it contains high levels of flavonoids and it might also lower blood pressure.
  • The slight diuretic effect can help detoxify the body by stimulating the kidneys and urine output. It can also relieve the symptoms of cystitis and help remove parasites.
  • Both varieties of the oil are indicated to lift mild depression (again do not come off any prescribed medication without the knowledge of your doctor). They also have a relaxing effect on the nervous system as a whole, particular when related to spasms or other nerve related issues.

Blending Chamomile with other essential oils.

Chamomile blends well in skin preparations and in infusers with quite a few other essential oils and here are just some that I prefer to combine with it.

Bergamot citrus fruit originates from Italy and a yellow to green colour depending on ripeness and uses the rind.

Image wikipedia.

  • Scent: citrus
  • Usage: Massage, bath, inhaled
  • Note:  Middle
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: avoid sunlight.

Clary Sage from France and Russia uses the whole plant.

  • Scent: Herbaceous, earthy
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: Avoid with alcohol and in pregnancy (may result in early contractions, but is used for this purpose at time of delivery)

Frankincense from Somalia and Oman is extracted from the resin.

  • Scent: Incense, warm
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Middle, Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Geranium from Egypt, Madagascar, China is made from the whole plant.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Harmonising
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Neroli is made from the flowers and comes from Morocco, Tunisia and France.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated

Ylang Ylang is made from the flowers and comes from Madagascar.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, baths, skin care
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Seductive
  • Safety: None indicated.

I buy my skincare made with essential oils from a local supplier and also have made mine  using a sensitive aroma free lotion, usually baby lotion, and then adding two drops of my preferred essential oils at a time until I find the blend that suits me best.

I like this site for both ideas and recipes and also to buy products ready made when I cannot source locally. I recommend that you head over and explore: Savvy Homemade Beauty Products

Contraindications for the use of Chamomile oils and infusions.

  • Because of the anti-spasmodic effect of chamomile and because it could cause contractions, pregnant women should not use the essential oil.
  • Essential oils should not be used on children under the age of five.
  • Both the tea and essential oil can increase the effect of certain prescribed sedatives or anti-depressants.
  • Both the tea and essential oil must not be taken with anti-coagulants such as Warfarin.

Next time I will be looking at Clary Sage Essential Oil in more detail.

I hope that you have found of interest and always delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs -The Sheep Farm by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

 The Sheep Farm – Indignant Rams and Black Sheep by Sally Cronin.

When my husband and I were first married, we had to stay in Wales for another six months, whilst he completed a research project in the mountains. We needed somewhere to live and being November and out of season, he managed to find us a flat to move into on the hillside above Dolgellau. The flat was part of an old farmhouse owned by a couple who I knew as regular dinner guests to the hotel, and it was a great arrangement.

After a few weeks of idleness and enjoying being a new wife, I decided that perhaps there might be a way to pay our rent and get some exercise. The rent we saved would be put towards a deposit of our own home; very high on our priority list. I approached my friend and landlady, asking if I might help out on their hill farm, where they kept a flock of several hundred sheep. She was more accustomed to seeing me in long dresses and heels, showing guests to their tables in the hotel, than walking up Cader Idris, but after she stopped laughing, she agreed to give me a trial run.

I went out and bought suitable clothing, which bearing in mind the time of year, involved waterproof boots and fleeced wet weather gear. It was early December and snow was not unexpected, and you did not want to be caught up at altitude inadequately dressed. I will admit that the first two or three days left me breathless, resulting in me giving up cigarettes (no bad thing). It also served to remind me how unfit I was. However, by the second week, I was hitting my stride.

We could take the Land Rover almost as far as the sheep who had moved down from the top grazing to avoid the worst of the weather. By this time, and with some snow on the ground, they needed some additional feed, and we would carry the bales of hay from the vehicle up to them, spreading it out on the frozen ground. It was time nearly time to bring the flock down for a very important event.

Not the sheep of my day.. but you get the idea..

The rams in the flock were fitted with a special device that marked the backs of the female sheep as they impregnated them, each with its own specific colour. This told you which sheep had been covered and was likely to be pregnant, and also if a ram was disinclined to breed and therefore needed replacing (mutton). But now it was time to separate the rams from the flock as their job was done. To do this the entire herd was brought down the mountain with the help of one sheepdog, to a large barn which was separated into two areas. A large one and then a smaller part that was fenced off where the rams would be penned away from the rest of the flock. They having done sterling service they would be taken to another part of the farm, to a field where they would have to amuse themselves for the next six months.

My boss said she would head back to the main farm to collect the two other sheepdogs so they could help separating the rams from the flock, which numbered a couple of hundred sheep. I was left to twiddle my thumbs, but being keen to help and save time, I spotted the rams as they jostled amongst the ewes, and decided that I might as well get started. I did have the benefit of watching some Australian sheep shearing documentaries and using a technique I had observed, I managed to manhandle the rams out of the flock using their horns and a helping hand up their backsides (I was wearing gloves). In about an hour, rather sweaty and not a little exhausted, I had the rams safely barricaded in their own bachelor quarters.

A little while later my boss arrived with two very eager sheepdogs that stood with their owner, completely bemused by the fact that they were now redundant. Apparently, this was not the traditional way to split the rams from the flock, but by the look on the faces of the watching ewes, they found the spectacle more than satisfying.

I discovered a great deal more about sheep during the winter months and their tough lives on the Welsh mountainsides. With the snow down even on the lower slopes where the sheep remained, it was difficult to find them against the white ground covering. This is where the black sheep of the flock comes in handy. Not only is she an older and wiser matriarch who knows where the best grazing is to be found, she is also a beacon to locate her flock who always stayed close to her.

In the spring came the life-affirming task of lambing, and it certainly is a miracle of nature. To protect the newborn lambs from crows and foxes, we would mark their foreheads with a smear of tar; hoping its offensive smell would deter predators. This odd job of mine created some lovely memories and I used my experience in one of my short stories in my first collection.

©Sally Cronin 1999

On Monday I swap wellington boots for stilettos as I take on the job of running a women’s fashion department in Liverpool.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.
Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Oct 12, 2020 Gwendolyn Plano rated it it was amazing

Just An Odd Job Girl is an entrancing read. The spirited writing of Sally Cronin quickly captures readers and draws them to the utterly delightful character of Imogen. One challenge after another emerges, only to be surmounted by Imogen’s ingenuity and good luck.

I laughed through much of the book, shed a few tears, and otherwise enjoyed the literary ride. This is an inspirational novel, one that will warm your heart, resonate with past experiences, and bring you to the realization that all is possible, and all is purposeful.

At a time when chaos appears to rule our lives, this book shows us otherwise. I strongly recommend it

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and on onday I swap country life for the city back in Liverpool… and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Bergamot essential oil – by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

Last time I gave you a list of the most common essential oils to be found in skincare, massage and for therapeutic use and also a look at carrier oils.

The first essential oil is one that you may be surprised to learn is not just in skincare but in the food that we eat. I will also share some other essential oils that blend well with bergamot.

Bergamot citrus fruit originates from Italy and a yellow to green colour depending on ripeness and uses the rind.

Image wikipedia.

  • Scent: citrus
  • Usage: Massage, bath, inhaled
  • Note:  Middle
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: avoid sunlight.

If you are wondering where you might have smelt the citrus notes of bergamot essential oils, it may well be as you pass through a crowd in the street or at an event. It may even be on your partner’s dresser as it has always been one of the major elements of eau de cologne.

The essential oil is cold pressed from the rind of the inedible Citrus Bergamia. It looks like a small yellow orange but is very bitter which surprisingly results in one of the freshest of the citrus aromas.

The fruit originates from Bergamo in northern Italy although it is now grown in the south of Italy and the north African coast too. Despite its bitter taste it was originally sold as a flavouring for cakes and pastries, and you will also smell a hint of this versatile oil when you sip a cup of Earl Grey tea.

As you will note from the safety note above, it should be avoided in sunlight. However, for a long time it was used as a major ingredient in commercially produced tanning products. It was used to activate the production of melanin in the skin which produces a deeper tan.

Melanin determines the colour of skin, hair and even the depth of colour in the iris of the eye. It also offers some protection from the harmful rays of the sun, although not completely. A person who suffers from albinism for example is lacking melanin resulting in very light coloured skin and white hair.  The specific ingredient in the essential oil (bergaptene), which causes the photosensitivity, has now been removed when used to manufacture tanning products, but you need to check the label carefully especially for cheaper brands.

The mood that this oil enhances is one of well-being and uplifting, making it a great choice is you are feeling anxious or going through a stressful time. Especially helpful for those who are suffering from a chronic condition, or find themselves unable to break a cycle of depression. Massage is of course relaxing anyway and using bergamot blended with other oils with a similar mood enhancing property, can be very effective.

This applies to body lotion, to give yourself a daily boost or a bath gel, and you can make these easily at home by taking 50ml of an unperfumed body lotion (I use baby lotion) and adding a few drops of bergamot (7 drops) and other complementary oils. Experiment by using between 4 and 8 drops of the additional oils until you find the blend that suits you best.

Soap making is an art and one that I leave to the professionals. You will usually find them at craft fairs, especially at Christmas or check them out locally online. Not only are they wonderful to use as a bath product but I also keep in a little mesh bag in my clothes drawers or hanging from a hanger in the wardrobe.

Here are some of the other essential oils that blend well with Bergamot and offer similar mood enhancing qualities such as calming, consoling, harmonising, reassuring, soothing or sensual.

Chamomile made from the flowers from UK, France and Egypt. There are two types Roman and German and they have different therapeutic benefits.

  • Scent: Herbaceus, light, fruit
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Compresses, Tea.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Consoling
  • Safety: Usually none needed.

Frankincense from Somalia and Oman is extracted from the resin.

  • Scent: Incense, warm
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Middle, Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Geranium from Egypt, Madagascar, China is made from the whole plant.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Harmonising
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Jasmine from Egypt, India and France and uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Reassuring
  • Safety: 24hour test on sensitive skin.

Lavender from Tasmania, England and France uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skincare, Massage
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Patchouli is made from the leaves and comes from India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  • Scent: Musky
  • Usage: Burners, massage, baths
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safetly: None indicated.

Ylang Ylang is made from the flowers and comes from Madagascar.

    • Scent: Floral
    • Usage: massage, baths, skin care
    • Note: Middle
    • Mood: Seductive
    • Safety: None indicated.

Bergamot is not only used in skin or bath products but can also be used to add its calming aroma to your home. So much better than using commercially produced atomizers that pump chemicals into the air. One of these is by combining a naturally made pot pourri with 10 drops of bergamot (vary according to your own prefence) or any of the essential oils that you want to infuse your home with.

You can find a number of online suppliers of dried flower combinations that are additive free and less expensive than buying in shops, and here is one to give you an idea. This particular supplier also has a useful blog that shares the process of making your own The Daisy Shop

Bergamot has some other properties that make it very useful. This includes as an antiseptic for minor cuts and grazes as well as helping to reduce acne or eczema. You can buy an unperfumed hypo-allergenic silica gel from most health food shops. I always recommend that you do a skin test 24 hours before using any skincare product especially if you suffer from an existing skin condition.

  • 30g of the silica gel
  • 20 drops of pure bergamot essential oil
  • 4 drops of German Camomile
  • 3 drops of pure Lavender essential oil

It can even help with bad breath… one drop in a small glass of water, rinse around and then spit out…

That is only a brief look at the amazing applications of this versatile essential oil. I hope you enjoy experimenting with some of the ideas and look forward to your feedback.

Next time I will be looking at Chamomile Essential Oil in more detail.

I hope that you have found of interest and always delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Hotel Assistant Manager by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last week I shared my late night arrival at the hotel in Wales where I was to spend the next two years.

 Hotel Assistant Manager – Swashbuckle and Romance.

Last week I wrote about my cross country journey of many hours by train, to reach a hotel in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. My time there was filled with adventures, and in this post I would like to introduce you to a couple of memorable guests. To spice things up a little, and since I am the guest of a bestselling romance author, I have included a little love interest.

The hotel boasted an award winning restaurant which overlooked the Mawddach estuary. In the summer months in particular, guests could eat outside on sunny days and evenings, enjoying the spectacular mountains that dominated the landscape. This attracted international visitors as well as those closer to home, as well as the rich and famous. This included Denis Thatcher, husband to the newly appointed prime minister, Maggie Thatcher, and several actors and BBC television presenters who used our hotel as a base when filming in the area.

One lunch in particular stands out in my mind as it involved the head of one of the most prestigious Champagne houses.

One of my boss’s best friends was an importer and businessman in the area, and he would frequently drop in with lunch with his clients. Normally when my boss and his friends had lunch there was a fair amount of alcohol involved, and I would be kept busy bringing bottles of wine and spirits out to the table on the terrace. The guest that day was the head of one of the largest Champagne houses who was on a business trip to Wales. He had brought some bottles of the really good stuff with him. Pre-chilled and stored in a special case in the trunk of his car.

Wine flowed and the trio enjoyed lunch which included our speciality lobster dish. Our French guest left the table for about 5 minutes and arrived back with a sword in a very ornate scabbard. He asked me to line up the remaining two full Champagne bottles on the stone balustrade of the terrace. Bearing in mind the amount of alcohol consumed by this time, it was with some trepidation that I did as requested, and then stood back; well out of the way.

With a great deal of flourish, the sword was removed from the scabbard, and the hilt was clasped in two hands. It was announced that any further champagne would be drunk from bottles opened in the traditional way. With that the sword swept through the air missing the first bottle completely. Without missing a beat, a stance was taken again and silence fell upon the watchers as there was another wide sweep of the weapon. This time the neck of the bottle was removed and champagne cascaded all over the gravelled balcony. I do believe there was about half a bottle left to be consumed by the admiring lunch guests.

However, other guests made their mark in a more permanent manner. An Irishman booked a room by telephone, arriving a week later and was given the key to room 40. He caught the eye of more than one member of staff due to his good looks and his lovely accent, but apart from booking meeting rooms and business lunches or dinners, he kept mainly to himself. It was therefore quite a surprise on his last night when he asked me to join him for a drink when I finished for the evening. He apparently knew that I was off the next day and asked me out to lunch and then dinner. We did a lot of talking and perhaps a kiss or two! He was due to leave the next morning and came down to my flat to say goodbye; or so I thought. Instead he asked me to marry him.

I didn’t hesitate and said yes, and we were married five weeks later in the small registry office in the nearby town. Just my parents and his parents attended and we had a small reception with lunch and champagne of course. However, swords were kept in their scabbards. As they have been for every anniversary since for the last forty years.

©Sally Cronin 1999

On Friday I spend 6 months sheep-farming to help pay the rent… 

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.
Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Oct 12, 2020 Gwendolyn Plano rated it it was amazing

Just An Odd Job Girl is an entrancing read. The spirited writing of Sally Cronin quickly captures readers and draws them to the utterly delightful character of Imogen. One challenge after another emerges, only to be surmounted by Imogen’s ingenuity and good luck.

I laughed through much of the book, shed a few tears, and otherwise enjoyed the literary ride. This is an inspirational novel, one that will warm your heart, resonate with past experiences, and bring you to the realization that all is possible, and all is purposeful.

At a time when chaos appears to rule our lives, this book shows us otherwise. I strongly recommend it

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more about life on a sheep farm on Friday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Hotel Senior Receptionist – by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

To set the scene I am going to repeat my series from early 2018 which shared the background to the stories in the book that I elaborated on and fictionalised. As a bonus I will also be including some other jobs that were not in the book that might also be considered a bit different. For example, flogging bull semen at agricultural shows to selling ‘similar’ top end perfumes in the East End of London. I think you get the idea about how odd some of these jobs might have been.

My last job as housekeeper/caterer at a boarding school finished when the school broke up for the Easter holidays.

Hotel Senior Receptionist – Ghostly arrival and a quick promotion!

I received a phone call from some old friends on the Isle of Wight that gave me cause for concern. You have probably gathered by now that my separation and divorce proceedings were not always amicable and in fact they now became downright hostile. My friends ran a pub on the island, and my former husband had been in, having had rather a lot to drink, had demanded they tell him where I was. He told the assembled company that he was planning on tracking me down and having a confrontation. I was not unduly concerned and  my friends assured me that they had not revealed my whereabouts. However, I was in a school with 140 children and staff and lived in the grounds, and had no desire to involve them in my personal circumstances. I gave my notice that day; grabbed the nearest copy of The Lady Magazine, and looked for a job as far away from the south of England as I could get.

I found an advertisement for a senior receptionist for a seasonal hotel in Wales that was just about to open for Easter. I sent my details, and the requested photograph, and waited to see if I would get an interview. Instead, within a week, I had a letter offering me the position with a start date three days after the end of term. I packed up my belongings into a couple of suitcases and got rid of anything that I couldn’t carry. I then prepared to go up to London by train and head off across the country for nearly 300 miles.

In those days of no Internet, and a long haul by road, I reckoned that I was probably going to be fairly safe from repercussions, especially as only my family and solicitor knew where I was.

I had been given a timetable for the trains showing the changes I would have to make in order to reach my destination, and I was glad that my two bags were not too heavy. Four trains later, I sat on the platform of a country station, waiting for my last connection. The train was late, and it was already dark before it shunted alongside the platform. I struggled into a carriage that I presume had been in service since the war, possibly not the last one, and sat on the worn, velvet covered seat waiting for departure. I waited and waited, and was about to stick my head out of the carriage door, when we chugged into motion. It was now ten at night and I was concerned that the promised taxi that was supposed to collect me at Barmouth, and take me to the hotel, would not be waiting for me.

Half an hour later we pulled into what can only be described as a halt. It consisted of a wooden platform about ten inches off the ground and a leap of faith was required to exit the carriage with two suitcases, and no injuries. I must have been the only passenger for Barmouth, for no sooner had I slammed the door of the train behind me, than it was off, lurching into the darkness.  I had apparently arrived at my destination, but was alone, and in the dark, with absolutely no idea where I was going or who I was going too.

Those were the days before mobile telephones, and to be honest, from what little I could see around me, there was little evidence that even the telegraph had reached this remote spot. I sat down on the sturdier of my two cases and ran through some basic Girl Guide survival tactics. As I had been drummed out of the brownies at the age of seven (for jumping out at boy cubs from behind gravestones) my knowledge of field crafts was sadly lacking, so I decided to stay in place for a while and see what transpired. After all where else was I going to go? I shivered despite the warm overcoat I was wearing. The night was cold, and a thin mist was swirling around the end of the platform. All the books I had read about North Wales had been based on the 5th century with tribal raiding parties and witchcraft. All the tales now came back to me; I clasped my arms around my body anxiously; on the verge of panic.

This feeling of impending doom was given a boost when suddenly out of the mist an apparition appeared. At least seven feet tall, and dressed in a black cloak, it swirled towards me rapidly. I shot up and backed behind my cases; despite the fact they would have been of little protection against a werewolf. A deep voice suddenly cut through my fanciful imagination.

‘You’re late girl, I’ve been waiting hours, where have you been for goodness sake?’

I could not tell if the booming voice was male or female. On closer examination, I realised that my original estimate of the figure being seven foot high was a slight exaggeration, but not by much. A scarf was unwound from around the throat of my new acquaintance, and I saw that it was indeed a woman; with very stern looking features.

Before I could utter a word my suitcases were whipped up, one in each of her hands, and she set of marching into the darkness. I had very little choice but to follow as I watched my worldly possessions disappearing into the night.

I found myself in a car park next to a taxi, and my bags were thrown unceremoniously into the back; my companion disappearing around to the driver’s side. I gingerly opened the passenger door, wondering what I had let myself in for. At least the interior of the vehicle was warm, and I was grateful when the engine started first time. My driver announced that it would take about 15 minutes to get to the hotel, and with that, we were off, quite smoothly too, much to my pleasant surprise.

Our journey was silent. I did make an attempt at small talk but only received grunts in reply. Eventually, I gave up and concentrated instead on hanging onto both dashboard and armrests as we careered around narrow country lanes. Sure enough, fifteen minutes later the taxi drove through two large pillars and up a slope. In the dim glow of the headlights, I could just make out a building looming out of the mist, and we came to a stop outside what appeared to be the main entrance. I let out my breath, which it seemed I had been holding since we left the railway station, and hurriedly opened the door, before we could take off again.

My driver got out and deposited my two suitcases by the door and then left me standing in the mist as she drove off into the night.

Photograph taken on a return visit in 2000

 

There were some lights either side of the entrance, and by their dim glow, I could make out double wooden doors. By now I was three hours late, and it looked like everyone had gone to bed. I had little choice. It was either stay out here in the freezing cold or ring the bell that hung on the wall at the side of the doors. I crunched across the gravel and up the stone steps, summoning what little courage I had left. I pulled the rope hanging beneath the bell and swung it from side to side. I nearly jumped out of my skin as a loud clanging rang through the night. It was loud enough to waken the dead! Sure enough, within seconds, lights went on in the hall. They reflected through the glass at the top of the door and, if anything, added even more gloom to the atmosphere.

The door creaked open slowly and my mouth went dry. By this time, I was fully convinced that Frankenstein’s monster was going to loom into view and carry me off to some attic, never to be seen again.

In fact I was greeted by the warm smile of the manager of the hotel who had kindly stayed behind to make sure that I arrived safely. He carried my suitcase down the side of the hotel to a small flat that was already occupied the new assistant manager who had come down from the Lake District a couple of days earlier. With arrangements to meet in the morning to go over my duties, the manager left and I sat down with a welcome cup of tea and made my first friend in the new job.

Sadly, after a few weeks, she felt that the job and the location were not for her and she returned to the Lake District where she opened a very successful B&B. Whilst I was very sad to see her go, I found myself promoted to Assistant Manager and so began my adventures in the depths of one of the most stunning national parks in the UK. It was hard work, but great fun, and I have never been so skinny with the long hours and my new pursuit of hiking on my days off (perhaps I should apply for a similar job again!).

And, down the road, my work would lead to me meeting a very special man who swept me off my feet.

©Sally Cronin – 1999

On Wednesday I share more of my adventures at the hotel…  

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.
Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more about life in the hotel on Wednesday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Boarding School Housekeeper/Caterer by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared the adventures running a pub on the Isle of Wight for two years with skinheads enjoying their booze cruises…

Boarding School Housekeeper/Caterer

After a few unsuccessful attempts to keep our marriage together, my first husband and I finally split up. All our furniture and belongings were in storage, as our accommodation at the pub we ran was fully equipped. I headed off with two suitcases into a B&B for a few weeks and took some temporary jobs, as I looked for something more permanent. At the beginning of December, and now almost broke, I applied for the position of Housekeeper/Caterer at a public school in Sussex.

I went for the interview and my experience in steak house management, and also mass catering in the pub were very useful. Two days before Christmas I received a telegram asking me to report to the school on the 6th of January. My new living quarters were the ground floor of one of the farm cottages attached to the school, right opposite the pig sheds which infused my new home with an alluring aroma. The children were expected back on January 11th and my first job was to buy in the supplies to feed 120 children and 30 school and domestic staff.

I was lucky to walk into a brand new and purpose built dining hall and kitchen, which was a real bonus. I had one permanent assistant, and the housekeeping staff would also help at meal times. I spent the next few days ordering from the main dry goods supplier and local butcher and fish merchant. I also had to work out staffing rotas for the cleaning and maintenance of the residential areas of the main house and classrooms, which were my responsibility too. I planned the menus for the next four weeks so that I could buy certain foods in bulk which saved money. I also need to organise my own timetable, as I would be cooking four meals a day, seven days a week as well as checking on the housekeeping side twice a day. On Fridays one of my staff who had some cooking experience, would cook lunch, which to the delight of the children was always superb fish, chips and peas. That gave me some time to explore the local area and take a breather.

The children started the day with juice, cereal or porridge, and a cooked breakfast with a piece of toast with tea or milk. Let me tell you how daunting it is on your first day in the job to fry 150 eggs rotating through six large frying pans, watch flats with bacon in three ovens whilst toasting 150 slices of bread both sides, without burning, on two large wall-mounted grills which took 30 slices at a time. All dished up by 8.15 when juice, porridge or cereal was finished.

Table prefects would come and collect the serving platters and toast racks, allowing me to start my rounds of the dining-hall to make sure that each child ate all their breakfast. Twice a week, I would start half an hour earlier at 6a.m, so that I could crack 140 eggs into a giant Bain Marie to gently scramble. I would say the overall favourite breakfast was sausages and beans and fried bread, which disappeared in a heartbeat.

No sooner had the kitchen been cleaned and the crockery and cutlery sent through the washer, and it was time to do the lunch preparation. Even back then, I cooked food from scratch, instead of relying on the frozen entrees that were available for mass catering. The boys and handful of girls at the school soon became accustomed to eating Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Lasagne as well as roast dinners with all the trimmings. There was always rice, potatoes or pasta and at least two vegetables. Dessert might be Apple Charlotte, Cherry Pie, Rhubarb Crumble, Spotted Dick all served with custard.

I did use frozen vegetables at times, but I did a deal with local farmers to take their odd shaped vegetables and fruit, and found a free range egg farmer who delivered stacks of eggs at the beginning of the week. Fresh fish was delivered every Friday to be coated in crispy batter with home-made chips.

Before I arrived all the main meals would be delivered to the tables in serving dishes and the table prefect would dish up. I was not sure that every child was eating a balanced diet so I changed the process. All the children would line up with a plate, and three of us would fill the plate with a portion of every item. Once they were all seated I would walk around the dining-room chatting to them and making sure that it was all being eaten.

There was short break in the afternoon as High Tea was served at 6pm, which might be beans on toast, egg or cheese and tomato sandwiches, homemade beef burgers, cake and a piece of fruit, with tea or a glass of milk.

Wednesday and Saturdays when we have visiting teams from neighbouring schools for cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter, there would be a games tea at 4.00pm. A variety of sandwiches and cake with milk or squash would keep them going until the official tea time.

My last cooking for the day was for the teaching staff which usually involved preparing a quiche and salad, risotto or chicken pie and potatoes and vegetables with fresh fruit salad. My working day finished at around 9.00p.m as the last plate went into the dishwasher.

Although during term time that was a heavy workload, over half-term and holidays I usually stayed in my cottage, and apart from making sure the housekeeping and grounds were maintained, I had plenty of time off. Most half-terms, a handful of children, whose parents lived abroad, stayed at school and we would go on outings and have picnics in the grounds. Meal times were much more relaxed and we would eat together with treats such as ice-cream.

I also had the company of Erin the goat, the school mascot who had the freedom of my garden every day. I would sit on a bench reading a book and he would pop over from time to time for a treat. On one occasion I had gone in to make a cup of tea and came back to find he had eaten half my book. The half I had not read yet!

There was not much time for a social life outside of school, but at the time, it was just what I needed to get back on my feet again. I became close friends with some of the live-in teaching staff and the matrons, and that too was something that eased the heartbreak I had been through.

It was a different time forty years ago in the public school system and despite some of the evidence that has come to light of ill-treatment or abuse I did not witness any of that. I have to say that every effort was made to feel that the children were living in a homely and warm environment. Most of the children thrived and for those who had just arrived and were feeling homesick, there were pancake making classes and they were appointed as pea and vegetables dispensers at lunchtime.

My time in the school and some of the characters I met there have been included in one of my books.

I might have exaggerated when I said it felt like feeding the 5,000… But I did cook over 3,000 meals a week, which in a school year amounts to 120,000 plates of food.

After 18 months, things were not going well on the divorce front, with some disturbing threats  being made, I decided to get as far away as possible. I applied for the job of senior receptionist in a luxury hotel in Mid-Wales in the Snowdonia National Park.

©Sally Cronin 2020

On Monday after 18 months in the Sussex countryside I travel to the far side of the UK to a hotel in Wales.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Monday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part Two by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

Oils, origins, uses and Safety Part Two

Last time I gave you a list of the most common essential oils to be found in skincare, massage and for therapeutic use. I would like to continue that today but first a quick word about carrier oils.

Carrier Oils

Essential oils are known as volatile because they smell of the plant they were extracted from and evaporate quickly according to the ‘note’ of the oil. For example if an essential oil has a ‘top’ note such as a citrus oil, it will evaporate within a couple of hours of being applied to the skin. Whereas, an oil with a ‘base’ note is warmer and lasts longer, sometimes for several hours or days. Although called an oil, it does not feel oily and it is not easy to apply. The essential oil also requires diluting in varying degrees dependent on how you are going to use. As skincare, for massage or therapeutic. It therefore needs to be blended with an oil that can be applied smoothly.

A carrier oil is made from plants but is scentless which makes them a perfect partner for the pungent essential oils. Because these natural plant oils have not got the extended shelf life of the essential oils, you would blend and keep on the shelf for a much shorter period or less than six months.

Here are some of the more common oils used in aromatherapy and you should experiment to find the one that suits you best dependent on your own skin type.

For example I have a fairly dry skin so like to use either Jojoba oil or prepared Coconut oil which has been liquified. They are also lighter in aroma and I feel maintain the aroma of the essential oil better. I have also used Sweet Almond Oil but if you have a nut allergy you should avoid.  I am now experimenting with Avocado Oil and I am pleasantly surprised how well it is absorbed.

Other oils that you can use are also solid and room temperature and are more difficult to work with such as Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter although when melted they can add a smooth feel for massage purposes. It tend to not use Olive Oil as I find the smell stronger than I like.

There are several other carrier oils available and I suggest you do some research based on your skin type and price and availability. There are some health food shops who stock them but you can also find some of the plant based oils in the supermarket.

Later in the series I will cover the blending of different essential oils and the dilution with carrier oils in more detail.

Next however I want to continue the list that I began last week on the most common essential oils.

A reminder of what the term ‘Note’ refers to in relation to an essential oil

Apart from your skin type of oily to dry… there are certain properties within an essential oil which will determine the rate at which they evaporate. For example a top or high note which is a property of citrus based essential oils, means that it is light and will evaporate very quickly within a couple of hours.

An essential oil that is classified as a middle note will last a few hours longer, between three to five. For example Lavender and Rosemary. And those oils with a base note such as sandalwood and Patchouli will last a great deal longer sometimes for days.

Lemongrass is made from grass from Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

  • Scent: lemony
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, bath,
  • Note:  Top
  • Mood: Stimulating and Refreshing
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin.

Mandarin is made from the peel of the fruit and comes from Brazil, Algeria and Argentina.

  • Scent: Citrus
  • Usage: Bath, massage, skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: Avoid exposure to sunlight.

Marjoram is made from the whole plant and comes from Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria and Egypt.

  • Scent: Herbaceous
  • Usage: Baths, inhalation, massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Warming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Melissa is made from the whole plant and comes from Wales, Ireland and Germany.

  • Scent: Lemony
  • Usage: Inhalation, massage, skin care, baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: None indicated

Neroli is made from the flowers and comes from Morocco, Tunisia and France.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated

Patchouli is made from the leaves and comes from India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  • Scent: Musky
  • Usage: Burners, massage, baths
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safetly: None indicated.

Peppermint is made from the leaves and usually comes from America and China.

  • Scent: Minty
  • Usage: Massage, steaming, compresses
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Revitalising
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin.

Pine is made from the needles and comes from France, Canada and Russia.

  • Scent: Pine
  • Usage: Inhalation, massage, baths.
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Stimulating
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin and avoid in pregnancy.

Rosemary is made from the tips and the leaves and comes from Tunisia, Algeria, France and Hungary.

  • Scent: Camphorated
  • Usage: Massage, inhalation, skin care and baths.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: Not for epileptics or in pregnancy.

Rose Otto is made from the flowers and comes from Bulgaria and Turkey.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, skin care and baths.
  • Note: Middle/Top
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Sandalwood is made from the wood of the tree and comes from India.

  • Scent: Woody
  • Usage: Massage, inhalation, skin care, baths.
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Tea Tree is made from the leaves and twigs and comes from Australia.

  • Scent: Fresh
  • Usage: Massage, Skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Cleansing
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Ylang Ylang is made from the flowers and comes from Madagascar.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, baths, skin care
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Seductive
  • Safety: None indicated.

Just a couple of notes.

This is not a full list of essential oils and you can discover the full range at any specialist shop or website. You will also find that they have carrier oils and also a range of accessories for blending and keeping your finished preparation fresh.

Secondly it is not advisable to take essential oils internally especially in their concentrated form. However, I have used peppermint oil … just one drop to a large glass of water for IBS. Do ask an expert before experimenting.

Next time I will be looking at specific essential oils in more detail beginning with Bergamot.

I hope that you have found of interest and always delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Pub Landlady – Cowes – Isle of Wight by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared the ghostly happenings in the Victorian restaurant that were associated with a gruesome secret.

Pub Landlady – Saturday Night Shenanigans #Cowes

Following my management training with a well-known steak house chain and six months as assistant manager at one of their branches in Eastbourne, we were appointed as managers of a pub at the entrance to Cowes Harbour. A yachting centre and home to the Cowes Week regatta each year. I was twenty-three and eager for the challenge.

It does amuse me slightly when people tell me that they dream of retiring and running a pub in the country. This is not a job for the faint-hearted and I am afraid the hours you need to put in are far longer than opening times. It is seven days a week and most pubs now are expected to serve food at lunchtimes and evenings, with drinking habits changing considerably over the last couple of decades. It is hard work and with increasing regulations to comply with, it can also be daunting. Not all customers are going to pop in for a quiet pint and go quietly on their way, and in some cases it can turn nasty within a few minutes.

The pub that we were appointed to in Cowes had been run for thirty years by the previous tenants. The clientele out of season, October to June, were the regular yacht crowd and a slightly older generation who came in for half of beer and a sandwich. We took over before Easter and my responsibility was to cook bar snacks at lunchtime and in the evening. I paid the brewery rent, running it as my own business, so had a certain amount of leeway. Having found the formula and tight portion control effective during my time with the steak house, I applied myself to creating a tasty but profitable menu.

Weekends were the busiest times as we had two large balconies that looked over the entrance to the harbour and out into the Solent. As we got into our stride and the summer season began, I could be serving 100 lunchtime snacks from my small kitchen and in the evenings, even more chicken, scampi and sausage and chips in a basket, flew out of the serving hatch from opening to closing time.

This was great, and we congratulated ourselves on our luck of landing such a great pub and its position. Then the summer cruises from Southampton began in the June and we found out what the locals had meant when they said…. ‘Just you wait!’

The trouble actually began on board these cruises as alcohol flowed cheaply and in great quantities. By the time the passengers arrived in Cowes an hour later, most were well inebriated and wanted to continue the spree. They landed at the far end of the high street from us and yet the flood ran unabated the entire length. The first Saturday we experienced this, we had wondered why our regulars, who would come in for their supper and pint were all missing. Then we heard a rumbling roar as if a tidal wave was about to pour through the double doors. Which it did as 200 or so skinheads swept into the bar; lining up noisily to be served more booze.

Luckily we tended to have more staff on for Saturday nights but clearly we were overwhelmed. Our new customers were not in the mood to eat, just to drink, and I went behind the bar to help out. They had about 90 minutes drinking time before embarking on their return cruise, and they had little interest in going out on the balcony to admire the sunset over the Solent. We served beer as quickly as possible, but no sooner had you cleared one wave, there was another shouting and swearing behind them. That first week they came and went without incident but we were not so lucky in following weeks.

Of course not all skinheads were out for a grand finale to the night with a good punch up. However, some were intent on getting drunk as quickly as possible, and things could kick off in an instant. Even then there were strict laws about serving drinks to minors and those who were already legless. The local police were out in force on Saturday nights in the high street, but even they would have found it difficult to determine the age of some of these lads and their ladies, let alone convince one of them that you were not going to serve them any more alcohol. We were legally obliged to be open for business because we belonged to a brewery who expected us to maximise takings. We had little option but to manage staff and security levels to ensure a smooth running operation.

Things came to a head about four weeks in, when the dreaded influx fell into the bar. I had bought a pick axe handle and it was displayed over the entrance to my kitchen in full view. Underneath were the immortal words. Attitude Adjuster. That night a fight broke out in the centre of the bar area and it was mayhem. I grabbed my attitude adjuster and shoved my way into the arena, where all the action was taking place, and managed to get a few of the combatants’ attention by shouting at the top of my voice. All went quiet as they were confronted by a very angry woman circling a pick axe handle around her head slowly but with intent! No doubt today I would be arrested for being in possession of a lethal weapon…but to be honest at the time, I really didn’t care.

In fact after that, word must have got out, that bad behaviour would not be tolerated and things quietened down somewhat. But, over that summer I was threatened by broken beer bottles, a good kicking and other repercussions. The police actually did us a favour by parking their vans outside our pub in the street, which deterred the more belligerent, and my kitchen after hours was used as a tea and sandwich spot for those going off duty.

Cowes Week was another highlight of the year, and we were warned that although the customers during that seven days were of a different age and temperament, that it would at times get very busy and difficult to manage. Firework Night in particular drew a huge crowd because of the two big balconies where you could view all the action. In preparation we had all the furniture taken out, plastic glasses for drinks and the only food served was sandwiches without any potentially hazardous cutlery. All week we had employed bouncers for the door, who were moonlighting wardens from Parkhurst top security prison, and doubled this up on Firework Night. Thankfully the two such celebrations during our time running the pub, passed off without major commotions.

I fictionalised this time in the pub in Just an Odd Job Girl along with some of the characters that I met. Looking back at myself at twenty-three years old, I wondered at my ability to accept the summer shenanigans in my stride. Despite these incidents most of our days were unadventurous and wonderful experience for my future jobs, where I needed to be able to adapt and react quickly.

However, perhaps you can understand my amusement when people say that they dream of retiring and running a pub. Anywhere where people and booze come together has the potential to become interesting very quickly, even in a sleepy county village.

©SallyCronin 2020

On Friday after three years in Cowes I arrive in the Sussex countryside as the Housekeeper/caterer in a boarding school.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Friday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Steak House Part Two by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared my first few months of training an assistant manager for a steak house chain in the 1970s and my encounter with a furry individual that was a gift that kept giving.

The Steak House Part Two – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story

The steak house I was working in, as I pointed out in my previous post, was cheap and cheerful. You could go out as a family on a Saturday night, and if I remember correctly you would get a prawn cocktail, steak, chips and peas and an ice-cream for under £5.00.

Portion control was ferociously maintained with specifically sized scoops for the chips and peas, ensuring that every portion that went out was identical. This was the only way to protect the slender profit margins, although because we made guests wait for an hour at least, during peak times, we made it up on sherry and beer sales.

As a trainee manager, one of my jobs was the weekly stock take. I would begin after the last orders had been served from the kitchens at 9.30pm, heading into the large walk in coolers that held the fresh produce before checking the upright freezers. Every steak was exactly the same weight, as were the chicken halves. Large bags of prawns, frozen chips and peas that had already been opened, had to be weighed and noted in my large A3 stocktaking book. I also had to count the number of sauce bottles, salt and other condiments, as well as noting rejected food that had been returned.

After stock checking in the kitchens, I would head down to the cellars, where our back up stocks were kept in freezers and shelves, and count every packet and box.

I would then climb up three flights of stairs to the office in the attic of this 1820’s building; leaving the other staff to clear up the bars and restaurants, I would gather all the collected food receipts from the week and tally the number of meals for each course we had served. For example: the most popular meal of rump steak, chips and peas.

I would use the stock take totals from the week before, adding in deliveries of the various ingredients during the week; giving me a starting balance. I would then deduct the number of steaks, chicken or fish meals that had been served, which should leave me with same amount I had just counted.

If that figure was out by even one steak, half a chicken or piece of battered cod, I would need to go back downstairs and check.

That in itself was not such a problem, but the same applied to the chips and the peas. Each scoop of peas served to a customer weighed 2 ounces. I would calculate the number of meals served (virtually all of them), multiplying that number by 2 ounces to reach the total weight of peas used during the week. Being peas rather than the more expensive main ingredient options, there was a little more latitude in the discrepancy, but more than 16 ounces, and I would have to go and investigate further.

As you can imagine, doing all this manually was a mammoth task. It was a Sunday night getting on for midnight, after a very long week of fourteen to sixteen hour days. I was already tired and it was easy to miss a handful of peas or chips!

The office in the attic was not very welcoming; being rather grim and chilly. After a few weeks, I began to notice that about an hour into my calculations, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. Even more disconcerting was that I felt I was being watched.

I tried not to be a baby about it and put it down to drafts in the roof and through old windows. But I really began to dread that Sunday night chore that left me alone in the office.

One of our regular customers at lunchtime was an old soldier of ninety, who interestingly, had been one of the first men up the Khyber Pass on a motorbike. (As you can guess he has featured as a character in one of my stories). He used to potter in around mid-day and have a large schooner of medium sherry. I was due my break around that time, and I would often join him with my coffee and listen to his war stories. He had some fabulous tales to tell, and one day I asked him if he knew the history of the house as he had been living in the area most of his life. The conversation went something like this.

‘Seen her have you?’ He whispered.

‘Seen who?’ I whispered back.

‘His wife, she haunts the place you know.’ He looked around him to ensure that no one else was within earshot.

‘Don’t want to scare the customers away do we?’ He cackled away into his sherry while I tried to decide if he was having a joke at my expense.

‘The man who built this place was a rich merchant.’ He continued swiftly.

‘After a few years he fell in love with a widow and tried to get his wife to leave him.’
He paused for effect.

‘When she refused, he locked her into the room at the end of the attic and starved her to death, then married the other one.’

Looking across the bar he swayed slightly in his seat and went quiet. I checked to see if he was still breathing.

‘Never forgave him, she didn’t, and has been haunting upstairs ever since. Must have annoyed her something rotten having starved to death and then them turn it into a bleeding steak house.’

He was laughing his head off and kept patting my hand as he rocked back and forth.

I still don’t know if this was the truth, but from that time on I would never sit in the office on my own on a Sunday night, bribing one of the other assistants to sit with me. Interestingly, after a couple of weeks they said the place must be very drafty as they got the shivers, and the hair stood up on the back of their neck!

©Sally Cronin 2020

On Wednesday – Pub Landlady – Saturday Night Shenanigans in Cowes on the Isle of Wight

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Wednesday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Ten – Sleepovers with new friends by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time  Sam shared some of his growing group of friends and encounters with pack members and older family members of the two and four-legged variety.

Chapter Ten – Sleepovers with new friends

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

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

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

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.