Smorgasbord Health Column 2022 – The Obesity epidemic – Part One – Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle by Sally Cronin


The Obesity Epidemic – Finding the point in the life cycle to intervene.

Recently news reports in the UK have shared the concern that number of men, women and children who are obese will overtake those of a healthier weight. Daily Mail – Obese people set to outnumber those of a healthy weight by 2030

When I weighed 330lbs and was classified as morbidly obese in 1995, it was unusual for me to be in the same room as someone else of the same weight. In fact looking back at photographs, I stood out like a sore thumb.  Now when you look at a class photograph or a crowd of people across the age groups there has clearly been a shift.

I am not into fat shaming. I lived not only with the weight but the health issues that accompanied this burden on the body. Beginning Thursday this week I am sharing my first book Size Matters, Especially when you weigh 330lbs. It is the journal of my discoveries as I studied medicine and nutrition, designed my health eating plan and lost 150lbs in 18 months. However, in addition to that series I am going to also rerun this series from 2019 looking at where we as individuals and the government might find the point in the life cycle to intervene to prevent what will be an obesity epidemic.

As we continue to hear about the obesity problems of children, teens and adults, it is clear to me that it is a vicious circle without a definitive time in a human’s life to intercede and correct the course we seem to be on.

Obesity is one of those health issues that is complex with physical, mental and emotional elements.

In my career over the last twenty-four years, I have worked with teenagers and young adults whose obesity can be laid firmly at the door of industrialised food, sugars and the fast food industry.

However, it is not just about what they are eating today, but in many cases what their mother ate even before they were born, during her pregnancy and in the recommended (by health professionals included) new born formulas and baby foods.

At twenty-five years old, I found myself responsible for the nutritional health of 120 boys and girls (8-13) in a private school. This was almost 45 years ago and the industrialised food industry was already well established.

I had been cooking for my own business for the previous two years often preparing lunches for 100 hungry lunchtime customers. On my arrival at the school, I found that because there had not been a cook in residence for a term, the majority of meals were frozen entrees that contained 10 portions. The container was placed on each table of students and it was served up by a prefect. There were some potatoes and a vegetable served with it but it was not the best option nutritionally. The headmaster and his wife recognised this, hence my arrival.

Within the month I had done deals with local farmers for fresh eggs and fruit, and was buying meats, chicken and fresh vegetables, with only the staples such as rice, flour, pasta etc being delivered in a packet.

I also introduced the children to some more adult foods such as beef bourguignon and Coq au Vin.. which did lead to calls for ‘more of the sauce please’!

They all had a cooked breakfast each day as well as a bowl of porridge or weetabix. I got cooking 140 (with staff) fried eggs in six pans in 15 minutes, down to a fine art, at the same time as grilling 140 pieces of wholegrain toast, Lunches were meat, chicken and fish on Fridays (with some sauces or gravy), with plenty of vegetables, and either rice, pasta or potatoes. There would be a hot pudding such as apple pie and custard.

There was a high tea with sandwiches or beans on toast, or sardines etc, with cake and fruit. There was cocoa before they went to bed. I would finish the day with 10 – 20 staff cooked suppers.

I had the ‘cook from scratch’ approach to food even then, and even more importantly, as far as the school bursar was concerned. I shaved £2,000 off the catering budget in the first term. Forty five years ago that was a substantial amount of money and proves that even then, packaged food was not only nutritionally inadequate (particularly for growing children) but far more expensive than the ‘cook from scratch’ approach.

So combined with my work as a nutritional therapist in the last twenty-four years, I can draw on 45 years experience of working with food with all age groups from pre-conception to 95, to witness the impact of nutrition on the body, and the diseases directly related to diet. In particular, the reason why even as a teenager my weight fluctuated and how despite my knowledge and determination to be a healthy weight, I still became morbidly obese by the age of 45.

If you read Size Matters the Sequel beginning tomorrow, you will discover the physical, mental and emotional elements to obesity I established had led to my health issues, but with regard to preventing this in others, we need to identify at what point there is a focused intervention to shut down the cycle.

Research lays the cause of at least 75% of diseases at the door marked lifestyle with the food we are eating on a daily basis and our reduced activity.

When do you intervene in the life cycle, to counteract what is fast becoming a life threatening epidemic, and increasingly a huge burden on the health services?

Image by Manuel Alejandro Leon

It is actually too late to start at birth, since the food the mother has consumed prior to becoming pregnant, and during the nine months will have a lifelong impact on her child’s weight and health.  I will cover fertility and pre-pregnancy diet later in the series

If the mother to be is already overweight, consuming in excess of recommended daily intakes of sugar and unhealthy fats from industrially manufactured foods, immediately that she becomes pregnant, it will result in an unhealthy start to the fetal development.

During pregnancy, if the mother does not drastically reduce these two components of her diet, and introduce health alternatives such as good fats, plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruit, moderate carbohydrates and protein from lean meat, poultry, fish, and adequate vegetable sources, the baby will be born already addicted to sugars and undernourished.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a baby is as natural as you can get, and for millions of years that was the norm. And immediately after birth is a critical phase, when the vital immune boosting Colostrum is produced by a new mother for the next 48 hours. This encourages the digestive system to begin functioning, kick starts the immune system to protect from viral and bacterial infections as well as providing essential nutrients.

Breastfeeding is now at its lowest in the UK for a number of reasons, including ‘expert’ insistence on getting a baby into a feeding and sleep routine as quickly as possible, rather than every two hours that the lower volume breast feeding requires. Also there is the social stigma of breastfeeding in public places. To be fair, it does require some discretion, but every woman should be able to breastfeed her baby when it is needed. Since that is usually every two hours, it is difficult to manage if you are outside of your home environment.

It used to be that babies would be breastfed until they were 18 months old, and in some cases older, especially if supplemental to a restricted access to food. Now it seems that six months is the average, with only 1 in 200 women breastfeeding their baby after a year old.

There are of course mother’s who cannot breastfeed physically, and this means feeding the baby with one of the many formulas on the market.

This is where the multi-billion baby food industry kicks in to take advantage of this reduction in providing a baby with its most natural food, and according to a recent report, if your baby was already addicted to sugars at birth, you can satisfy any cravings with sugar laden jars of pureed baby foods. In addition many will contain the highly unhealthy corn syrup.

That combination of added refined white sugar and corn syrup in baby formula is the number one cause of obesity in babies and children

‘Research by the World Health Organisation suggest there are an additional 124 million children and adolescents worldwide. While just under 1% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 were obese in 1975, more 124 million children and adolescents (6% of girls and 8% of boys) were obese in 2016′

These additives and other chemical elements such as preservatives, continue to be introduced into the diet when babies are weaned onto pureed foods and then semi-solids.

I am afraid that however many times it says on the tin of formula or on the jar of baby food that it is all natural, it does not necessarily mean healthy natural food that our baby will thrive on. The sugar began life as natural as did the corn sugar, but they are mutated by the time they get into the food chain to toxic elements.

They do not have any place in a baby’s diet nor adults for that matter.

The trouble is that marketing ‘experts’ will tell you that you are safe feeding your baby their formula and semi-solids.. but what about the nutritional experts?

A good start was made in Europe when all sugar sweetened formulas were banned in 2009. There are now more brands that are using lactose to sweeten and the number of organic brands of formula are on the increase. However, for many new mothers, especially those on a budget, the price of these healthier forumula’s is much higher than the highstreet brands.

Here is a post on organic brands, but I do suggest that you check out the reviews of the products: Best Organic Baby Formula 2022

Homemade baby food

I know that immediately there are going to be issues of time and convenience brought up.. But having checked the cost of jars of baby food and their contents, I can say with certainty that you can produce a week’s worth of baby food, from scratch that is healthier and cheaper than any on the shelves, and in less time than it takes you to do the weekly shop! More about that later in the post.

Parents are being ‘misled’ by baby food companies marketing sugar-packed baby meals and snacks as healthy, new report warns

Analysis of thousands of baby products showed high levels of added sugar
WHO Europe said it’s a danger for babies’ teeth and could lead to obesity
More than 30 per cent of calories in half of the products came from sugars
Sugars accounted for 70 per cent of the food calories in fruit purees

The World Health Organisation has called for a ban on added sugar in baby food and warned against ‘misleading’ health claims on labels.

Analysis of thousands of baby products in Europe, such as pouches and jars, revealed high levels of sugar across the board, even in savoury products.

It could cause baby teeth to rot and increase the risk of obesity and related diseases by giving the child a ‘sweet tooth’, the WHO warned.

Even though some sugars are naturally present in fruits and vegetables, it’s a ’cause of concern’ that more is added, a report said.

The organisation is one of many which have recently urged a wipe-out of added sugars and sweeteners in foods for children under three years of age.

You can read the rest of the post HERE

There are a number of sites that provide a step by step guide to weaning a baby from the bottle at six months, but I notice that on many of them their first preference is fruit juice and then pureed fruit.

  • I would prefer to see this list vegetable led and you can make a clear vegetable soup by cooking carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, courgettes (zucchini) and parsnips together, keeping the water they are cooked and sieving out the juice from the vegetables…don’t add salt or sugar. Then as the baby moves onto semi-solids you can puree the vegetables themselves. You can freeze in portions making enough for several days.
  • Avocados are excellent as a first food at six months as they contain healthy fats and a quarter of a medium avocado is great fist sized healthy addition to the baby’s diet.
  • If you do give your baby fruit juice try apple without any added sugar and the same with pureed apple.
  • Pears are also good to introduce as they are one of the least allergenic fruit.
  • Papaya and bananas are also easy to digest and bananas are useful to take with you when traveling as well as to ease any stomach upsets.
  • Baby porridge makes a good start to the day, and you can also introduce well cooked baby rice into the savoury dishes.
  • From seven months you can start to add some pureed chicken or cod.

I found this website which lists the top ten mother and baby sites including one that has some great baby food recipes: 10 Best Parenting Websites

Here is just one of the videos on Youtube where mothers share their organic recipes and tips for first baby foods and as you will see towards the end of the video – the equivalent amount organic baby food in the supermarket works out at three times as much as the homemade, and despite being organic the shop bought will still have preservatives added. Uploaded by DoItOnaDimeFAMILY

If you are like me and of an age where pureed food might be an option in a few years!!! Then please pass this on to the younger generation who might help to turn around this tide of obesity that is sweeping our countries.

I am aware that many young mothers will still follow the path of using the cheapest formula and baby food options on the shelf through necessity, but I hope that education through the prenatal and new mother classes will help them discover the healthier and often cheaper options and how to give their babies a great start in life.

Next week – Breakfast clubs, School meals, Domestic Science and meals at home.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four 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, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

 

As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 13th – 19th June 2022 – Lilies, Top hits 1997, Roberta Flack, Podcast, Poetry, Reviews, New Releases, Health and Humour


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

I hope that you are doing okay wherever you live. I know that certain countries in Europe and here in Ireland are experiencing an increase in Covid cases, but it seems that most people are unconcerned and have ditched their masks. Thankfully here it is a matter of choice and with us both having had Covid and not wishing to have again, I will be sticking with the mask for some time to come.

The work on the house continues, but most of the decluttering is now finished with the product of this exercise being collected on Monday. I spent some time in the garden repotting, deadheading and moving plants from front to back as they blossom. This includes one of my favourites. These lilies bloom for a few weeks only.  During the winter I stack the containers containing the bulbs at the back of the house in a corner and cover. In April I set them out in the daylight and water them and here we are in the middle of June and they offer their wonderful blossoms again.  They shout summer.

As always my thanks to my friends who share their expertise and fun with us each week.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1997 and for the first part of the series about Roberta Flack. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies takes us to St. Barts tomorrow morning and will of course be finding some funnies during the week to keep us entertained. Over on her blog you can you can catch up with her posts including her helpful June writing links and her review for Paulette Mahurin’s latest  A Peaceful Village .. D.G. Kaye

Carol Taylor joins me on Wednesday with a repeat of her wonderful series A-Z of foods beginning with the lette A. Carol is in England for a month to visit her family but has left her blog well stocked. This week Monday Musings, MSG, the cuisine of The Dominican Republic, a close look at the many cooking oils available and an entertaining Saturday Snippets. You can find all her posts Carol Cooks2

Thanks too for all your visits, comments and shares this week… they mean a great deal..♥

Coming up this week on the I Wish I Knew Then series are Pete Springer and Pete Johnson (Beetley Pete)

On with the show

Chart Hits 1997 Part One – Elton John R. Kelly, Shania Twain, Puff Daddy & Faith Evans

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Roberta Flack – The Early Years

#Humour – Chapter Eighteen – Some guests and their Foible

Chapter Nineteen – Full Circle

The Royal Visitors Arrive

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge – Specific Format -#TankaProse – Murmuration by Sally Cronin

Food Therapy Rewind – Pumpkin Seeds Nutrient Packed snack on the go

#Fantasy – Good Liniment (The Hat Book 5) by C.S. Boyack

#Literary #Thriller – The Silent Brother by Simon Van der Velde

#Historical #WW2 – The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin

Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! ‘Dad’ by Sue Wickstead

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Writing by Jane Risdon

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! ‘Home’ by Claire Fullerton

#YA #Fantasy M.J. Mallon, #Romance #Military Jacquie Biggar

#Dystopian Terry Tyler, #Prehistoric Jacqui Murray

#Paranormal #Western Sandra Cox, #Sciencefiction #Mystery Richard Dee

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Flying and Even more Weird Facts

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Door maintenance and Miracles

 

Thanks very much for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week..Sally

Smorgsbord Blog Magazine Podcast – Tales from the Irish Garden – The Royal Banquet – The Royal Visitors Arrive by Sally Cronin


The much anticipated visit of King Patrick, Queen Seren and their son the handsome Prince Ronan is to be celebrated with a magnificent feast.

Tales from the Irish Garden – The Royal Banquet  – The Royal Visitors Arrive

 

Image ©Tales from the Irish Garden

One of the recent reviews for the book

I adored this charming fairy tale for adults, which is also suitable for children. The fairy queen and her court needed to relocate and received an invitation from the Storyteller to live under a magnolia tree in his Irish garden. The imagery was beautiful throughout the book. I could easily imagine flying on a swan, exploring a castle under a tree, or running into lerpersians and goblins. The characters felt real, and I was worried about how they would adapt to the colder climate. It was a relief when they resolved that with beautiful new wardrobes. I loved not only how they made this place their new home, but the romance and new friendships mixed in, too. Many additional characters in the stories I treasured included a donkey, a fox, and mice. This is a world I’d love to find in my garden, and I highly recommend these magical tales

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

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed the story.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – June 6th – 12th 2022 – Chart hits 1996, Puerto Rico, Phosphorus, Reviews, Poetry, Health, Podcast, Stories and Humour


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed during the week..

I hope you have had a good week and are enjoying the weekend. There has been some more work on the house and it is really beginning to take shape… Ironic that we will get it looking great only to pass on to someone else lol.. Anyway that is a month or so away but I am already looking at property pages in the areas we are planning to look at seriously in the coming months. I am trying to be sensible about downsizing!!!  Apart from anything else with heating oil having almost tripled in the last three months, heating a large house becomes an expensive luxury.

I am hoping that are luck with finding just the right house for us will hold, and whilst I am not looking forward to the packing up process, I am excited about finding our next home, intended to be our last. And also to finally welcome a new dog into the family, long overdue.

This week my friends William Price King, Debby Gies and Carol Taylor have given us music, sunshine and sea in Puerto Rico and wonderful recipes and I cannot thank them enough for their wonderful contributions. They are also busy on their own blogs and I hope you will head over to check them out.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1996 and for the fianl part of the series about Aretha Franklin.  Next Friday a new series featuring Roberta Flack… You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to San Juan on Monday and found some great funnies. It was also her birthday this week… on facebook it shows up as 107.. always a talking point as she certainly does not look her age lol..Over on her blog you can you can catch up with her posts including her Sunday book review for the compelling thriller Where There’s Doubt by Terry Tyler…. D.G. Kaye

Carol Taylor joined me on Wednesday with her recipes to include sufficient phosphorus in our diets… and as always a busy week on her own blog including her Monday Musings and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, Store cupboard Basics, Green Kitchen Bread Rolls and strawberry stems, Saturday Snippets all about ‘Spin’. You can find all her posts Carol Cooks2

Thanks too for all your visits, comments and shares this week… they mean a great deal..♥

Coming up this week on the I Wish I Knew Then series are Sue Wickstead, Jane Risdon and Claire Fullerton.

On with the show…..

 

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1996 Part Two – The Wallflowers, Alanis Morissette, Take That, Eric Clapton

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Phosphorus – Dairy, Poultry, Pork, Nuts, Wholegrains

Food Therapy Rewind- Make the most of Summer – Homemade #Fruit Salad and Smoothies by Sally Cronin

Chapter Sixteen – Killbilly Hotel – A promotion

Killbilly Hotel – The Opening Weekend Party

Tuesday Weekly Challenge #Colour #Etheree – Strawberries by Sally Cronin

The Royal Banquet – Preparation and Menu by Sally Cronin

 

 

#Children’s – Make Believe: Bedtime Stories for Children by Janice Spina

Advance Review – #Malaya #1950s – Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Carol Taylor

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Diana Peach

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Sharon Marchisello

First in Series – #Family Saga Judith Barrow, #Mystery N.A. Granger

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Mystery #Romance Marcia Meara

#Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Age and Skipping

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Street signs and Diet Pills

 

Thank you for joining me this week and look forward to seeing you again soon  Sally.

Smorgsbord Blog Magazine Podcast – Tales from the Irish Garden – The Royal Banquet – Preparation and Menu by Sally Cronin


The much anticipated visit of King Patrick, Queen Seren and their son the handsome Prince Ronan is to be celebrated with a magnificent feast.

Tales from the Irish Garden – The Royal Banquet Preparation and Menu

 

Image ©Tales from the Irish Garden

One of the recent reviews for the book

I adored this charming fairy tale for adults, which is also suitable for children. The fairy queen and her court needed to relocate and received an invitation from the Storyteller to live under a magnolia tree in his Irish garden. The imagery was beautiful throughout the book. I could easily imagine flying on a swan, exploring a castle under a tree, or running into lerpersians and goblins. The characters felt real, and I was worried about how they would adapt to the colder climate. It was a relief when they resolved that with beautiful new wardrobes. I loved not only how they made this place their new home, but the romance and new friendships mixed in, too. Many additional characters in the stories I treasured included a donkey, a fox, and mice. This is a world I’d love to find in my garden, and I highly recommend these magical tales

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

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed the story.

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge #Colour #Etheree – Strawberries by Sally Cronin


This week Colleen’s challenge is #TankaTuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 277 is Tastetherainbow-Color Poetry

At this time of year our local strawberries are being sold by the roadside, in the supermarkets and at the berry farm’s own outlets. They are a fruit to be celebrated and our garden birds go wild for the tops when they have been hulled. Everybody gets a taste…

Etheree: Strawberries by Sally Cronin

ripe
fragrant
strawberries
strong heady scent
hints of lusciousness
havoc played with senses
expectations of sweetness
tastebuds keen for juicy first bite
their scarlet beauty enhanced with cream
taken to new heights with glass of champagne

©sally cronin 2022

My most recent book is a collection of poetry and was published in July 2021

One of the reviews for the collection

Lizzy
5.0 out of 5 stars A MEMORABLE BOOK THAT SO BEAUTIFULLY CAPTURES LIFE  Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2021

This was such a special book for me. Sally Cronin has a true talent for marrying depth and simplicity and making it look easy.

Each poem in this wonderful collection is preceded by a photograph followed by a poem that complements it so naturally. What really impressed me was that the author so easily packs solid truths into poems of so few words. As a reader, I could tell how much thought went into every single word she chose as a brush to paint her stories. There wasn’t one poem that I didn’t read two or three times to fully enjoy its message.

I knew I would love this book with the very first poem, “Washed Up,” showing us the beauty of an object brought to the shore by the sea … one that should have disrupted the scenery, yet oddly enhanced it.

I also loved the poem “Our Legacy” that offered a simple truth about writers. It should be an anthem.

“Silver Lining to Isolation” brought forth truths that I believe most of the world can understand right now. I really appreciated the positive message in what has been a dark, yet revealing/enlightening time for many.

“The Crocodile,” which I won’t explain, was just entirely spot on. I’ll leave that there. “Advancing Years” is another poem upon which I heap similar praise: it was so eerily, yet stunningly, on target.

While most of this glorious poetry is short, its messages are far more poignant than much longer works I have read. I don’t want to mention every poem, but I want to say that I so related to Sally Cronin’s thoughts on climate change, ageism, immortality, and yearning.

Lastly, I especially loved the poetry, preceded by the author’s youthful photos, that so brilliantly captured moments of her early life as skillfully as the photos themselves did. They all resonated so deeply with me.

This is a book one could read (and look at the photographs) over and over and each time, the reader would find a new tidbit or truth not seen before. A truly lovely collection. Kudos to Ms. Cronin with a short message:. I’m so very glad you wrote this!

You can find all my books and buy links: Sally’s Books and Reviews 2022

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have enjoyed the poem.. thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 30th May – 5th June 2022 – Home Renovations, Hits 1996, Summer Book Fair, Shortstories, Reviews, Blogger Weekly, Health and Humour


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

I hope you have enjoyed a good week… We have been busy with getting the new dining room up and running and our office established in the kitchen diner.. That is all done but my studio piece still needs some fine tuning and my podcast stories will be back again next week.. I thought you might like to see some before and after photos on the dining room which had to be stripped, ceilings and walls painted, floor sanded and varnished and new curtains.

There are some other jobs to get on with now upstairs and outside but we are getting there. We christened the new dining room with a visit of our niece over from England which was a lovely way to celebrate.

On the blog front

This week on the series by guests are Carol Taylor, Diana Peach and Sharon Marchisello and I am sure you will find them as fascinating as I did…

The Summer Book Fair begins this week and through to September with all the authors on he Bookshelf being featured with their books.

If you have a new book being released either on pre-order or available on Amazon in June or July, I would be very happy to promote. If you are already a featured author on the blog then I just need the date available and title. If new to the promotions please provide me with your Amazon author page and we can talk about anything else I need. My email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am working a couple of weeks ahead so please get the information to me as soon as you can. Thanks Sally.

As always a thank you to the amazing contributors who share their expertise and entertain us every week.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1996 and for the next part of the series on Friday featuring the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies  found some funnies and a video to share with us this week. Debby is taking us to San Juan on Monday… so grab your suncream. Over on Debby’s blog you can you can catch up with her posts and Sunday book review D.G. Kaye

Carol Taylor joins me on Wednesday with her recipes to include sufficient phosphorus in our diets… and as always a busy week on her own blog including her Monday Musings, National Cheese Day with the difference between natural and processed cheese products, Basics in the store cupboard such as dried beans, lentils and peas, Chicken four ways and an exploration of the cuisine of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 29th May -4th June 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Star” is my one word prompt.

And thank you for your visits, comments and sharing of posts.. they mean a great deal.

One with the show

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1996 Part One – Tracey Chapman, George Michael, Los Del Rio, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – 1970s Hits

#Humour – Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls by Sally Cronin

Chapter Fifteen – Killbilly Hotel in Cornwall and a Gothic welcome – Sally Cronin

#RoadTrip Pete Springer and Jim Borden, #Writing D. Wallace Peach, #Spring D.G. Kaye and Valentina Cirasola, #Communitylife Noelle Granger, #RoastedCod Dorothy New Vintage Kitchen

#Supernatural Audrey Driscoll, #Thriller Alex Craigie, #Romance Toni Pike, #Flashfiction Annette Rochelle Aben

#Multigenre – Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez

The Dynamics of Change – Part Three – Emotional Being by Sally Cronin

#Watercress – More Iron than Spinach by Sally Cronin

#Travel – Caravanning with #Dogs – It Never Rains But It Paws: A Road Trip Through Politics And A Pandemic (Adventure Caravanning with Dogs Book 4) by Jacqueline Lambert

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Dentists by Stevie Turner

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Pre-historic #Publishing by Sandra Cox

– #Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by D.G. Kaye

#Life #Poetry – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Balroop Singh

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Crocs and Interesting Professions..

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Kissing and Useful Hints

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week.. stay safe.. Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Fifteen – Killbilly Hotel in Cornwall and a Gothic welcome – Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

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.

Last time  A boys school offers the opportunity for Imogen to meet a new friend and get dinner on the table.

Chapter Fifteen – Killbilly Hotel, Cornwall and a Gothic Welcome.

The light, streaming through a crack in the curtains, woke me early the next morning. I felt refreshed, and excited about what the day would bring. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so full of anticipation and energy.

Peter and I had travelled all over the world during the last ten years, visiting exotic destinations and staying at the very best resorts and hotels. But, as I looked around my small, brightly decorated kitchen, I would not have swapped it for all the five star hotels I had ever stayed in. This was my home, my future, and both looked a great deal brighter than they had a few days ago.

With at least four hours to go before I had to leave for my long awaited appointment with Andrew, I decided to be very resourceful with the time. I sat and had a bowl of cereal and fruit juice, and dressing warmly, for the cold morning air, I took to the forest path and let my mind travel back to my first full time job in several months.

* * *

I had never heard of Killbilly in Cornwall before, and assumed that it was probably a small village or hamlet. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the position at the hotel, not because I did not feel that I was more than capable of doing a good job, but because my new employers and myself were taking each other on trust.

I went to lunch with my parents on the last Sunday before my departure and discovered that Peter had been in the habit of telephoning my mother and eliciting information regarding my whereabouts and activities. I was furious with both Peter and my mother. She assured me that she had informed him quite categorically that I had met no one else and missed him dreadfully. That was the last thing I wanted Peter to know. Much better that he should think that I was out every night with a string of wealthy and attentive admirers, rather than stuck in my bed-sit every night. Thank goodness, I was going to be far enough away from both of them to be able to invent any story about my personal life that I liked. In fact, the thought of passing on details of some lurid, imaginary love life to my mother, and therefore to Peter, was suddenly very appealing.

My father pressed me for details of my new job, and was dutifully persistent in his belief that no good could come of a position offered without the benefit of an interview. He felt that, as it was based on the photograph I had sent, that my future employers might have something to do with the white slave trade. On that cheerful note I left, promising to call on my arrival, every Sunday, and to make sure I ate properly. As I had been living away from home for some time now, without too many ill effects, I was slightly puzzled by all the parental concern.

Nevertheless, I felt heartened by their uncharacteristic reaction to my departure and vowed to keep in better contact than I had recently.

With my two bags packed, and having made the final reading of the electricity meter in my bed-sit, I headed out for Portsmouth Station and my journey westward. 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 neither overlarge nor 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 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 sending me backwards onto my seat. It was now ten at night and I was concerned that the promised taxi that was supposed to collect me at Killbilly, 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 Killbilly, for no sooner had I slammed the door of the train behind me, than it was off, lurching into the darkness. Which is where I now found myself. Alone and in the dark with absolutely no idea, where I was going or who I was going too.

These 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 decide to stay in place for a while, at least. 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 Cornwall, about strange animals, and people, out on the moors, came back to me and I clasped my arms around myself anxiously, on the verge of panic.

This feeling of panic 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 couldn’t 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. Despite a virtual crew cut hairstyle and rather masculine features, the lips were cherry red. You have to remember that I had considerable experience with men dressed as women and I was quite confident in my snap judgement as to the gender of this strange person. 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. So, with fingers crossed, I followed the dim retreating figure.

I found myself in a car park, next to a rather battered Land Rover, which was covered in mud and other farmyard debris. My bags were thrown unceremoniously into the back and my companion disappeared around to the driver’s side. I gingerly opened the passenger door, careful to avoid getting my clothes too close to the paintwork. At least the interior of the vehicle was warm and I was grateful when the engine started first time. Before we pulled out of the station, my driver turned to me.

‘My name is Milly Barrow and I run the local taxi service.’ She announced firmly.

‘It will take half an hour to get to the hotel so you better make yourself comfortable.’

With that, we were off, quite smoothly too, much to my pleasant surprise. This was somewhat tempered by the farmyard aroma that filled the now warm cab of the Land Rover and I hoped that my new employers were used to their staff arriving slightly more fragrant than might be expected.

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. Speed restrictions did not seem to be in force in this area and a Land Rover is not built for rally driving, but Milly Barrow obviously had not been informed of that particular design characteristic.

Finally, with a squeal of protest from the tyres, we tore around a bend, through an ornate gate, and onto a gravel drive. In the dim glow of the headlights, I could just make out a building looming out of the mist as we slammed to a stop in a spray of stones 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.

Milly Barrow moved quickly for her size, and had my bags on the drive and was in the car again before I could say a word. Spraying me with sharp little stones, she took off into the night without a backward glance.

There were some lamps either side of the entrance, and by their dim light 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 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.

‘G’day, you must be the Sheila whose going to be the new assistant manager.’

In front of me stood a tall, blonde surfer complete with knee length shorts and little else, except for what appeared to be a shark’s tooth on a leather thong around his neck.

Open mouthed I stood freezing on the doorstep while this antipodean looked me over, from top to toe.

‘Don’t stand there all night girl, come on in I’m freezing my ass off here.’

Obviously there was going to be little in the way of assistance with my luggage, so I turned and collected the suitcases, dragging them back across the gravel. I hoisted them up the steps and through the door, which slammed behind me.

‘My name’s Skip, and I’m the hall porter. Don’t say much, do you?’

I stared at his tanned, hairy, chest and clearing my throat, I attempted to get my voice back.

‘Yes I am Imogen. Sorry I was so late, I hope I didn’t keep you up.’

‘No worries. Me and the girlfriend were watching a horror movie. Kept us busy, if you know what I mean.’

I could only imagine! Never having watched a movie, let alone a horror film, whilst dressed for a day at the beach.

‘Come on, I’ll show you your pit and you can meet the boss in the morning.’

He led the way across the carpeted hall and up the imposing stairs that occupied much of the centre of the reception area.

‘You hungry?’ My guide enquired, as we hauled my cases up the stairs. Thankfully, he had taken possession of one of them at least.

‘We had a barbie tonight and there is some left over steak if you’re interested.’

I murmured that I just wanted to go to bed and he shrugged.

‘No worries, you could do with losing a pound or two anyway.’

I could see that we were going to get on very well. My mind was reeling. There had been far too much, in the way of adrenaline pumping events, in the last few hours. And now to have to deal with an Australian surfer masquerading as a hall porter in a Cornish hotel? I know that staff for these out of the way places must be hard to find but advertising in the Woolagong Advertiser seemed a little over the top. I was sure, however, that all would be revealed in the morning. All that I wanted to do right then was to crawl into a warm bed, and sleep.

We had now climbed three flights of stairs and I wondered if there was a lift for the more infirm guest. I mentioned this fact to Skip who was not even out of breath.

‘Yeah, there’s a lift but I’m claustrophobic, won’t go in the buggers.’

Oh, great! I thought, as I puffed my way up the final flight of stairs behind him, a mountain climber too!

He pushed open a door in a dimly lit corridor and switched on an overhead light. The room was not bad. It had high ceilings and was furnished with a wardrobe, a double bed, a dresser and a sofa. A small television perched on a footstool in one corner, and there was a washbasin on the wall.

‘The bathroom is down the hall, third door on the right. Lock doesn’t work right now; it’s on me list. Get round to it before we open.’ (Right! Chair jammed under the doorknob for the time being.)

He turned to leave, and just before he closed the door, he grinned, showing large, even white teeth.

‘Do you surf at all?’

I shook my head wearily, and smiled somewhat thinly in his direction.

‘Pity. Never mind. Sleep well, breakfast at seven a.m.’

With that, I was alone in my new home. At least it was clean and the bed had been made up. I found a glass on the washbasin and drank a large glass of water before remembering I would have to traipse down the hall to go to the bathroom in the night. Oh well, worry about that later. I hastily unpacked the top of one of my suitcases and found my warmest pair of pyjamas. I checked the radiator under the window and found that it was cold. I bet you anything you like that the heating was off now, until the guests started arriving for Easter. I put on a jumper over my night attire and crawled beneath the sheets. At least there were several blankets and curling into a ball, I was instantly asleep.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time -a new position opens up at the Killbilly Hotel

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls by Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

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.

Last time   Imogen takes a look at herself in the mirror and decides a makeover is in order… whatever the cost.

Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls.

Miss Mayhew was a rather tall, angular, woman of indeterminate age. Her grey hair was pulled into a bun at the back of her head and metal rimmed glasses perched on the end of a beaky nose. For the entire six weeks that I worked at the school, I racked my brains to discover whom it was she reminded me of. It actually came to me some years later when I was on holiday in Malta and toured the film village where they had made Popeye. I was suddenly confronted with large, cardboard cut-out of Miss Mayhew in the disguise of Olive Oyl.

The school catered to boys and girls between the ages of five and eleven. There were fifty of these children and five teachers, which I suppose, gave a really good teacher to student ratio.

All the children appeared to have double-barrelled names, and a problem with their nasal passages. Their accents even at five years old had been cultivated in a greenhouse without the benefit of any contamination by your ‘common types’ and all of them could easily have become television newsreaders. The children were weekly boarders, and my job was to cook breakfast for them each morning and assist the head cook with lunches. She would then prepare their high tea and the teachers’ suppers.

I arrived at the school on my first morning at ten o’clock, as instructed. From the next day, I would be working from six in the morning until two in the afternoon. This suited me as it gave me an opportunity to spend the rest of the day in other pursuits. As my social life at the time was absolutely dead and buried, I was not bothered about getting into bed at nine each night and catching up with my reading.

On this first morning, the school secretary, a plump, motherly woman who introduced herself as Angela, took me upstairs to the Headmistress’s study. She in no way prepared me for Miss Mayhew or her uncanny resemblance to Olive Oyl. I passed through a dark passage with low lighting, and two benches, either side of a wooden door. Angela indicated that I take a seat on one of the seats, knocked, and entered the study. I heard murmured voices and after a couple of minutes Angela reappeared and opened the door wide.

‘Miss Mayhew will see you now dear.’

She slipped past me and returned down the corridor. I entered and found myself standing on a dark red carpet in front of a very large and imposing desk. The thin figure uncoiled itself from behind this monstrosity, and I can only imagine the terror she would have inspired in a five-year-old summoned to this dark and forbidding lair.

‘Good morning, I am Imogen Baxter your temporary cook.’

I stretched out my hand politely. Miss Mayhew looked at it as if it contained enough germs to start an epidemic and made no effort to shake it. Don’t you feel stupid when people do that to you? I withdrew my hand and stood with it firmly by my side.

‘I am well aware of who you are Miss Baxter and please note that we do not use first names at the school. The staff and all the children are referred to by their surnames.’

This was a good start! Six weeks was beginning to look like a lifetime. What about the poor little souls who arrived here at five years of age, and had to stay for six years?

‘We do not normally employ temporary staff but our assistant cook had to go and look after her mother, who has had an operation.’ She continued, without any hint of sympathy in her voice. It obviously had been most inconvenient.

‘I am assured by your agency that you are punctual, neat and conscientious. so in this instance I have relented, but I want you to know that I will be monitoring you very closely.’

With that, she rang a hand bell on her desk and went back to her paperwork. I stood there feeling a complete idiot and was about to say something when the door opened and Angela bustled in. Gratefully, I turned around and followed her back downstairs. I didn’t like to say anything too derogatory on my first day and I bit my tongue as we crossed a windy courtyard and entered a large hall.

At the back of the hall were two doors. Angela held open the right hand one and waved me through. I entered a gleaming, stainless steel, kitchen filled with the sound of clanging pots and the rumble of a food processor.

‘Cook will be here in a moment she is just in the store room I expect.’ With that Angela bustled back through the door and I was left standing in the middle of the kitchen.

I didn’t have long to wait, as a swing door banged against the back wall and a round little figure appeared. Dressed in white from top to toe, with a hat perched on the back of her head, stood the cook. She was puffing and red faced and obviously in a state about something.

‘Are you my assistant?’ she demanded in a shrill voice.

I nodded hurriedly not wishing to incur her wrath on my first day.

‘Good! Get the bloody kettle on. I’m parched.’

She grinned from ear to ear. ‘Bet you could use something a bit stronger having met the boss, but tea it will have to be.’

What a relief, I smiled weakly and looked around for the kettle. Within minutes, we were sitting in the little staff room at the back of the kitchen and I was filled in on the ins and outs of the school, Miss Mayhew and the staff. Jessie Brown had been cook at the school for ten years and said in that time Miss Mayhew had never called her anything but Brown. She thought we sounded a bit like a double-act – ‘Baxter and Brown’ – and she said that she was looking forward to working with an outsider for a few weeks.

We returned to the kitchen and Jessie handed me a set of whites that had to be worn at all times. I went back into the staff room and changed into my new attire. My hair was tied back and tucked into my round white cap. Catching sight of myself in the mirror, I decided that it was definitely not the most flattering outfit I had ever owned. I went back into the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves and asked Jessie for my instructions.

She took me through the week’s menus for the children and staff, and the first thing I noticed was that there was no meat on the menu. When I questioned Jessie about this she shrugged her shoulders and told me that Miss Mayhew had been a vegetarian all her life and insisted that the children were too. Jessie was in no doubt that the children all indulged in carnivorous activities during the weekends at home with their parents, who apparently made no objection to their offspring’s Monday to Friday eating habits.

Personally, I did not think that it was particularly healthy for children of this age to be deprived of a complete food group but Jessie, sensing my unease, assured me that she made sure that they all had a balanced diet.

She winked.

‘Don’t worry love. They get plenty of good food, and they love my sauces and the special cakes I make for their tea.’

Somewhat reassured, I began to help prepare lunch. On the menu today was vegetable pie, mashed potatoes and peas, with treacle sponge and custard for dessert. I have to admit that Jessie was a very good cook, and soon appetising smells were filling the kitchen. Before I knew it, it was time for the children to come in for lunch. Jessie went and pinned back the two doors into the kitchen against the wall and came and joined me behind the serving counter.

‘I like to make sure that children get a plate of food, so we serve each of them from behind here.’ She explained.

‘When I first came here ten years ago, portions were put on each table of ten. But I discovered that the older children were taking the best bits, and leaving the younger children with very little.’

I realised that this little woman was very much in charge of her kitchen, and I bet even old Mayhew thought twice about crossing her. There was no more time for reflection as the thunder of a hundred feet pounded across the dining room floor. A line of children appeared in the doorway, held back by an older boy of about eleven.

‘Okay wait your turn there, Brown will give the word when she’s ready.’

Every word clearly enunciated and definitely delivered with a stiff upper lip. I am sure that is where the expression comes from. Have you ever tried to talk and keep your top lip completely still? You too can sound like a 1960s radio announcer, or a member of the aristocracy.

Anyway, there is this line of fifty children and fifteen staff. Ten teachers and five matrons who looked after the children after school hours. They stood patiently and I have never seen so many children so well behaved, it simply didn’t seem natural. It lasted for about five seconds.

‘Come and get it!’

I nearly jumped out of my skin as Jessie roared into life beside me. There was a stampede as the children rushed in, grabbed a plate and held it up to have their lunch served. There was no nonsense about not eating vegetables or anything else on offer. Everyone got a healthy portion on his or her plates and they trotted off to sit at one of the ten tables laid out in the dining room. I had expected that the children would have to eat in silence, but it was mayhem, with laughter and talking, and I could see through one of the doors that plates were being cleaned enthusiastically.

‘Where is Miss Mayhew?’ I asked, puzzled that the austere woman was not in the dining-room keeping control.

‘She always has a tray in her study with a salad at lunchtime.’ Jessie smiled smugly.

‘We came to an agreement, when I said I would take care of the cooking, that this dining room and kitchen would be my responsibility, and provided I don’t serve meat, she leaves me alone.’

I quite frankly found it difficult to believe, and it was obvious to Jessie.

‘You won’t have found out yet, but Mary Mayhew is my daughter.’

I gaped at Jessie, and she laughed.

‘I was married in the war to a young pilot. He was killed just before I had Mary. I remarried twenty years ago to my Bill, but I like to keep close to Mary and this works very well.’

So that was how Jessie got away with so much. It just goes to show that you can easily misread situations, and I wondered what else I would discover in the next few weeks.

We had no more time for idle chatter, as the monitor for each table was bringing back the empty plates, and sliding them through a special hatch in the wall onto a counter next to a large dish-washing machine. They then came into the kitchen and collected pudding. They each brought with them the youngest member of their table who proudly carried back the china jug of custard. There were oohs… and aahs… as the treacle pudding, already sliced, was placed on the table. The monitors had the job of serving up this course and I could see from where I was standing that they were scrupulously fair.

By two, I had finished my clearing up duties and I left for home. Jessie was going to cook breakfasts with me for the first few days and I was glad of her help. On the menu the next morning was porridge and beans on toast. If there is one thing I have never been able to cook it is porridge and I was going to have to produce it for sixty people tomorrow morning.

Funnily enough, I was quite looking forward to it.

Apart from a couple of mishaps over the next six weeks, I learnt some valuable life lessons.

For one thing, I can now cook sixty fried eggs at a time, along with sixty pieces of toast. I can cook porridge without burning it, and I can scramble a hundred eggs at a time. Jessie was a good teacher, and endlessly patient with the children. After a time I forgot their accents and rather mature ways and realised that they were still children. The youngest of them were only five, and homesick for their mothers. Sometimes I stayed behind to help with the teas and often two or three young assistants would be helping Jessie make scones, cake or flapjacks.

Not once did I see Miss Mayhew in the dining room or the kitchen, but I know that Jessie went up to her study each afternoon with a plate of cakes and a pot of tea. I never got to know Miss Mayhew, and to this day, I cannot see any resemblance between her and Jessie. It’s a strange world.

One thing that did make me chuckle was the spaghetti incident. We were having pasta and tomato sauce for lunch, and an enormous pot of water was duly brought to the boil and ten packets of spaghetti emptied into it. When the spaghetti was cooked, it took two of us to lift the pot and take it over to the draining board. A catering sized colander was placed into the sink and the pot tipped over carefully until the spaghetti had drained out with the water.

On this particular occasion, Jessie had been called out to the dining room to sort out a dispute between the two boys putting water jugs around the tables. It was my first week and my first pasta lunch but Jessie had gone over the process with me and I was ready. Being a strong girl, I thought that I could manage to get the pot over to the sink by myself and drain off the spaghetti into the colander.

I struggled gingerly across the floor with my scalding burden and laid it on the drainer. Grabbing both handles I tipped it carefully, and watched the boiling water and the spaghetti slide into the sink and into the waiting colander. By the time that I had established that I had forgotten to put the colander in the sink, most of the pot of pasta had disappeared down the large plug-hole. There was no way that I could prevent the slippery mass from gushing out of the pot as it hung suspended over the sink and I watched in growing horror as lunch went down the drain.

Jessie came back into the kitchen just as I managed to right the pot and turn towards her. I put my hands up to my mouth and stared at her. She walked up to the sink and looked down at the one or two strands of spaghetti that lingered arrogantly on the lip of the plug-hole.

‘Looks like instant mash potato for lunch then.’ With a pat on my arm, she hurried off to the storeroom and appeared with a large tin of potato powder.

‘Don’t like the stuff, but it’s great for emergencies.’ She put the tin down and began to boil some water in two large saucepans.

‘Hope you have a good strong arm,’ she said, as she reached to a rack of utensils on the wall and handed me a giant whisk.

‘You get to make it, not me.’

That was all she said, and over the next six weeks, I never saw her lose her temper with the children or me. She did sometimes get a little hot under the collar and flushed, like the first day I saw her, but usually it was because she spent her entire time rushing around making sure that everyone was fed well.

At the end of my six weeks, I again felt sorry to be moving on. On the last day I was summoned to Miss Mayhew’s study and uninviting though the prospect seemed, I went upstairs and through the gloomy corridor. I knocked on the door and was told to enter. Miss Mayhew seemed to be wearing the exact same outfit that she had worn six weeks ago and again she greeted me from behind her large desk. This time she invited me to sit down, which I did slightly nervously. She had said at the beginning she would be keeping an eye on me and I wondered if there was any other misdemeanour other than losing all the spaghetti that she had discovered.

‘I understand from Brown that you have been very helpful and I wanted you to know that I have reported that fact to your agency.’

Surprise, surprise, but why could she not have referred to Jessie as her mother. A thin hand stretched across the table and I saw a bar of chocolate being pushed towards me.

‘It’s my favourite.’ I swear that she almost smiled.

‘Mine too,’ I uttered, astonished that we actually had something in common.

‘Well I won’t keep you. I am sure that you wish to get on.’

So, I was dismissed. I muttered my thanks and left the office, clasping my bar of chocolate in my hand. Well it takes all sorts as they say.

During the previous couple of weeks, I had been checking out the advertisements in the some of the catering magazines. I felt like a change, and perhaps this time I would look at something a little more permanent. Peter had tried to contact me twice, recently, and although I still thought about him a great deal, I felt that perhaps some distance between us would be a good idea. One advertisement in particular had caught my eye. It was for an assistant manager in a Victorian hotel in Cornwall. They had asked for details of past experience and a current photograph, and I had sent a letter containing these, just last week.

When I got back to my digs that afternoon a reply was waiting for me. Without even an interview they had accepted me for the season, beginning at Easter, and included travel instructions for my journey. They told me that the cost of this would be reimbursed on my arrival, and they expected a letter, by return, confirming my acceptance.

Here we go again.

* * *

However, before reminiscing further, it was time for bed in the here and now.

I was due to see Andrew tomorrow, at midday, and I planned my outfit in my head as I drifted off to sleep. I wondered what his reaction would be to the make-over that I had treated myself to. With that happy thought, I slept, dreaming of spaghetti and treacle pudding.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time – a Cornish hotel beckons with some interesting staff in residence.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Health Column 2022 – The Dynamics of Change – Part Three – Emotional Being by Sally Cronin


For so many of us, this last two years have resulted in changes to our lifestyle, relationships and reliance on others. For millions who have contracted Covid, there has also been for lingering aftershocks that have impacted their physical well-being.

However, change is also a natural and progressive force in our lives as we move through the various stages in our lifetime. Each year sees minor shifts in the way we are physically but there can also be changes in our mental and emotional perspectives. In the next few posts I will be exploring those changes.

Last time  I explored the mental changes our body goes through as our brain develops and then begins to lose cells as the natural part of aging.

Today I am looking at some of the factors involved in our changing emotional responses through our lifetime that are hardwired and those that change with the influence of time and our experiences.

Involuntary Emotions

First a look at a couple of the hard-wired emotional responses that are activated by the chemical and hormonal balances in our brains and other organs.

Oxytocin is a neuromodulator in the brain that is stored in our master controller the Hypothalamus and then released by the posterior pituitary gland. In essence it is one of the most powerful triggers of emotions in humans and a primary trigger for some of our instinctive behaviour.

Whilst we may aim to be doctors, authors, space explorers or musicians, our bodies from before birth are programmed to do two things as well as possible.

Survive as long into our possible lifespan as we can and to reproduce.

To this end at various times in our life cycle the brain will either increase or decrease levels of hormones that regulate both the development of certain cells and organs and also our fertility.

Oxytocin plays a large part in this process and in particular at that moment before birth as a baby prepares to enter the harsh environment that is life.

  • The release of Oxytocin makes for a smoother birth for both mother and baby and it also facilitates that magical and so vital first moments of bonding.
  • This includes encouraging milk production and a baby’s ability to suckle aided by the instinctive need by a new-born to obtain essential immune boosting and detoxing elements of his mother’s milk, Colostrum.
  • A baby’s entire system has to be kick started gently to avoid undue stress and another very important role of colostrum is to cleanse the new-born’s body of any toxic build-up within the first few hours and days.
  • None of this would be possible if the oxytocin had not been released during the last stages of pregnancy, during delivery and bonding.

So that is the first time that our body will regulate our emotions with the release of a chemical enhancer.

Oxytocin however has been shown to have an effect on our emotions as we grow and develop, as it is at certain times released into the parts of the brain that are responsible for our emotional, reasoning and social behaviour.

There is some research that indicates that in fact the release of oxytocin could also be responsible for anti-social behaviour in the form of instinctive rejection of outsiders and aggressive behaviour. This may however also be linked to a break in the natural chain of events at childbirth where perhaps a baby is removed before it has a chance to bond with its mother and then is brought up without the accepted form of nurturing.

A baby will act on instinctive behaviour that can seem to be a voluntary emotional response but is actually nature’s way of keeping it safe.

For example we know how powerful and piercing a baby’s cry can be, and in fact it is at a pitch that makes every woman of child bearing years in the immediate vicinity leap into action! There are many parenting advice columns that are happy to tell you to pick up the baby, ignore it, roll over and let your partner deal with, feed or change its nappy. It can be tough for a new parent to understand the variations of yelling and screaming that a new-born baby can utter but each has its own distinct meaning.

Before being able to use language a baby will use verbal and non-verbal communication to make its feelings known.

The terrible twos are an example where frustration and emotional intensity can become more voluntary as a baby begins to understand the power of manipulation to achieve an end result.. This is also a great time to bring in gentle but also persuasive strategies to encourage a more social element to a young child such as socialising with other children of a similar age where another form of bonding takes place and a better understanding of how to deal with your peers.

Children begin to identify objects with words and slowly language builds. Emotional responses die down accordingly and as a child goes to school, learns more and works within a group and has other adults to emulate, more voluntary emotional behaviour develops.

Social etiquette is one thing, but for many children this can also be a time when their natural personality can be repressed. Discipline is needed within a social environment so that we can exist side by side peacefully. Thankfully we have moved past the very strict discipline environment of schools 40 to 50 years ago but there are some who feel we have moved too far the other way.

Then we hit the teenage years when the sex hormones such as progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone begin to be released, maturing our reproductive organs and throwing both brain and body out of whack until our early 20s. To parents who have been through this phase with their offspring I probably do not have to say too much more.

After about 24 years old things settle down again except for women who have babies and are affected by the oxytocin during and after pregnancy. There might also be postpartum depression caused by the reduction in oestrogen and progesterone, physical and emotional changes following the birth, and in some cases the stresses resulting from being a parent of a new baby. Women until their 50s are also subject to monthly hormonal changes that can have a very powerful effect on emotions at certain times of the month.

Then comes a gap until we hit our mid-40s when there is again a change in our hormonal make up. Changes begin to take place in our bodies and it can lead to a period of time when emotions fluctuate. The good news is that after about 55 for both men and women the instinctive drive to reproduce subsides as the hormonal balance reaches its new level which will last the rest of our lives.

This is not to say that you cannot fall in love, enjoy a physical relationship or feel all the normal range of emotions. It does mean that there is room for more voluntary participation in the process.

Although our hormone levels decrease in middle age they are still produced in other tissues of the body such as the adrenal glands. This means that new lovers will still be affected by oxytocin, and in fact it is still as important in bonding between two adults, as it is between a mother and child.

Fear

Fear is an instinctive emotion that triggers the body to produce a chemical response.

Adrenaline is a hormone that is released by the adrenal gland as a response to the recognition by your mind or your body that something is dangerous, stressful or exciting. It is the body’s natural way of giving you the strength to deal with an extraordinary event. Honed over many thousands of years it is usually referred to as the ‘fight or flight response’

Adrenaline acts fast, it dilates our airways and blood vessels to make sure that oxygen is available to either face the danger head on or run like hell.. In the early stages of our evolution this reaction was probably activated regularly as we tried to survive a hostile environment. However, our modern lifestyle may not have rampaging herds of mammoths or cave lions but we do have the equivalents.

Stress is not always bad as it makes life interesting but it becomes dangerous when it is so frequent your adrenal glands are pumping out adrenaline constantly. This leads to serious health and mental issues.

This requires the intervention of voluntary emotional responses that calm the body’s instinctive reactions. It might involve taking more exercise, changing diet, lifestyle choices and sometimes jobs and relationships. This takes us onto our voluntary emotional responses.

Voluntary Emotions.

As I mentioned earlier it is clear that we all learn from experience with regard to both the emotion that we offer others and also what we will accept.

There is also a driving force that confuses the issue. 

Our expectations based on what we have been told by others, have experienced or have read that tells you what you should be feeling.

Romance novelists and fairy stories do create the illusion that everyone will meet the perfect person and go on to live happily ever after!  Not always the case sadly, but if you have grown up expecting this outcome, it can be easy to feel excluded from others.

We build walls, boundaries, create rules, push away, avoid and develop other strategies that we feel will protect us from past events and hurt. We learn behaviours that we reinforce time after time verbally.

For example: ‘Nobody would find me attractive anyway’- ‘I am happy as I am alone’ – ‘I prefer to keep myself to myself’ Etc.

I have also seen physical barriers created to prevent emotional involvement. Obesity can be a great way to distance yourself from relationships as can wearing drab clothes and a plain appearance.

It is a complicated business and I have experienced this type of emotional behaviour myself. The one thing that has become clearer as I have got older is that no one person reacts the same way to events or trauma and that at best you can only generalise. Pain in the form of loss of some kind is very hard to overcome and many times we feel that we cannot open ourselves up to that again.

Instinctively we want to belong to a family or group and that is hard wired. It is therefore our own voluntary actions which prevent that from happening.

So how can we make changes to our voluntary emotional responses?

If you find yourself saying that you are lonely, nobody calls you, you find it hard to make new friends, you are bored, then perhaps it is time to think about how you might be putting up barriers to prevent interactions with others.

And even though online relationships may lack that face to face element, they are no less valid and certainly I have known people who have gone on to meet people they have met online and to enjoy great relationships both platonic and romantic.

Listening to our instinctive intuition and taking into account common sense regarding our own safety means that we can change our voluntary emotional responses and perhaps get a great deal more out of life.

Having worked with many men and women over the years and listening to them talk about their lives, it is clear that apart from the odd and rare narcissist who only loves themselves, most people’s emotional responses are based on their experiences.

It does not take a human long to learn responses that avoid emotional pain as it is as devastating as the physical kind.

In fact where most physical pain subsides either with pain killers or time, emotional pain can last a lifetime. Especially when reinforced repeatedly when it  becomes hard wired into our personality.

As I mentioned earlier part of this repetitive cycle of pain is in partly down to our expectations. After several failed relationships, instead of believing in happy endings, we assume that every relationship we are going to have is going to end badly.

The only way to interrupt this cycle of poor outcomes is to change not just expectations but the decisions we make.

Our happiness is not anyone elses responsibility.

It is ours and if our decisions lead to our unhappiness we need to examine those decisions. Hard though it may be… without emotion.

This applies to our emotional investment in our work, family relationships, romantic relationships and the people we hang out with and who influence us.

Life is too short to be doing a job we hate, or to be around people who make us unhappy. And whilst I am not suggesting drastic action and an immediate walk out… I do suggest that you begin to look at solutions rather than the problems.

Do you need to sit down and have an honest talk with your boss, family members, lover or friend to work out how to make this relationship work for you both. Is it also time to look at what you are putting into the equation… none of us is perfect.  If all else fails, what are your viable alternatives.. retrain, look for another job, give your family and friends a bit more space or end a relationship?

This requires honesty and it is not easy. There is also the likelihood of pain, not just for yourself but others. But, if you move forward to a much more positive emotional place for yourself, you will find that it will impact your physical and mental well-being and importantly your relationship with others.

If you need help with your mental or emotional health then I recommend that you find a qualified counsellor to help your through the process of regaining your joy of life. It is amazing how just talking to someone you trust can clarify issues, enabling you to make better decisions.

©Sally Cronin 2022

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four 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, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

 

As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.