Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden Chapter Seven – Little Girl Lost by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden. I hope that you will enjoy.

Chapter Seven – Little Girl Lost

I am a long way from home and find myself in a strange place listening to a language I do not understand. The winter nights are colder than I am used to and the wind is harsh as it brings snow and ice to fill my basket and numb my bare toes. Now the searing sun is blazing down and although I have been placed in a shady place, it is not like the green and mild garden of my home.

I was given to an old lady many years ago to stand in an alcove on a bed of lobelia that frothed around my feet with soft blue. She would look out of her window from her high backed chair and each day she would fill my basket with water for the blackbird to drink from after he had eaten his sultanas for breakfast.

As the seasons passed many people would come and go along the path beside me. I would hear them say such things as ‘Isn’t she sweet? and ‘Such a pretty little girl’. I felt that I was special and cared for. Each new season the blue ceramic pot in front of me would hold new flowers. Geraniums in the summer and wintering flowering pansies for the winter. I loved to watch the old lady spend her afternoon carefully placing the new blooms around the rim.

As the years went by my friend became frailer, and I was moved closer to the window for her to see me, but I still kept watch over the garden and the creatures that visited. On warm days she would venture outside with her stick and touch the top of my head with her frail hand.

‘How are you today my fairy princess?’

Other creatures popped into amuse us at dusk. The hedgehog who stole any sultanas left by the blackbird and the fox and her cubs. I could hear the old lady laughing as she stood by the window watching them at play.

Then one day there was no more laughter behind the window. People came and went and the garden seemed to wait with bated breath. Suddenly it went dark as I was covered by many layers of popping material and I could not see. I was packed tight between boxes and for many days I was bounced between them.

When my eyes were uncovered I found myself alone on a balcony without friend or foxes. And I was sad. But then one morning I woke to find that with the sun, had come new friends, and in my basket were special stones from around the world that had been given to me to safeguard.

I had been placed on a step with a view over the garden and mountains and strong companions stood beside me to keep me safe.

I am happy now and whilst I miss the old lady I have my friends and a place by the front door where all that come and go can see and talk to me. My new mistress whispered to me as she placed another stone in my basket. ” Wherever we go; you will go with us little fairy princess”.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story collections

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – Walnuts – Not just any nut… by Sally Cronin


As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Walnuts are all they are cracked up to be!

Evidence of walnut consumption was dug up, literally, in Southwest France during excavation on Neolithic archaeological sites dating back over 8,000 years. It appears that there were walnut groves in the hanging gardens of Babylon and in Greek mythology the walnut was highly revered and temples built to honour it.

The Latin name for the tree, Juglans Regia, comes from the Roman civilisation where it was called Jove Glans or the Royal nut of Jove. The nut and the oil have been used since ancient times, both as a food and for dyeing wool and are now worldwide commodities.

Walnuts are very versatile – chopped up on savoury or sweet dishes or used as a snack between meals they give you a very healthy nutritional punch. Omega 3 fatty acids are a special type of protective fat, rather than harmful fat, and it is something that the body does not produce itself. – Walnuts contain a plant based form called alpha-linolenic acid, 14 half walnuts provides you with over 90% of your daily requirement and if you look at the health reasons for taking Omega 3 you will understand how very important this small handful of nuts is.

Omega 3 is known to help protect us from cardiovascular problems, improve brain function, help with inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis and in skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Walnuts contain it in a different form to oily fish  also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which boosts the immune system and protects against cancer.

What is the most important benefit of walnuts?

For anyone who suffers from elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein that when oxidised forms blockages in the arteries) levels in their bloodstream, eating walnuts is definitely helpful. It is one of those rare occasions when claims that certain foods can help a condition are permissible. In the case of walnuts the FDA in America were sufficiently convinced by scientific research into the benefits of the nuts in lowering LDL cholesterol that they allowed the health claim to be advertised on products containing the nut or the oil. This is down to the excellent levels of Omega 3 in the nuts, which contain the highest amount in 1 oz. compared to other nuts (2.5 g of Omega 3 against 0.5 g in other nuts)

Omega 3 helps prevent erratic heart rhythms and because the LDL, which causes platelets to clot, is lowered the risk of strokes is also reduced.

Omega 3 works on our brain function because our brains are actually 60% structural fat and needs to be supported in our diet by specific Omega 3 fats like those in walnuts, flax seeds and cold water fish like salmon. Part of the reason is that the cell membranes that everything has to pass through are mainly fat. Omega 3 is very flexible, and fluid, and can pass easily through the cell membrane taking other nutrients with it at the same time. This increases the cell uptake of nutrients making them more effective.

Studies of Omega 3 deficiency have highlighted some worrying trends. One of the most concerning is the evidence of depression in children. It has also been linked to hyperactivity, behavioural problems such as tantrums and learning difficulties. This deficiency is on the increase particularly in the United States, and the UK is not far behind.

Other beneficial nutrients in walnuts.

There are several other good reasons to include walnuts in your daily diet as they include the following nutrients:

Manganese; Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage.

Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise Iron. It is needed to make ATP and is also to synthesise some hormones and blood cells. Collagen needs copper, as does the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment. Too much copper in the diet can depress levels of zinc and effect wound healing.

Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine; The Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower Homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces Haemoglobin the Oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.

During the day, snack on 14 half walnuts that is about 190 calories or indulge by including in these fabulous recipes from Carol Taylor: Walnut Recipes

©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

Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016.  We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden. I hope that you will enjoy.

Last week The queen has discovered that her husband of 400 years has been having an affair with one of her ladies-in -waiting.. the kingdom holds its collective breath as repercussions roll around the palace!

Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two

The dwarf was mortified and hung his head trying to hide his thoughts from his queen who he could see was dreadfully upset. He also knew that he had been in the forbidden part of the garden and should not have seen the two lovers in the first place. But he had lost his rabbit and knew that he often entered the patch of magic ivy to eat its luscious green shoots.

The queen waved him away before he saw the tears that filled her eyes…but as he turned to go she demanded that he tell no-one of what he had seen on pain of being expelled from the orchestra.

She knew that this was probably futile and over the next few hours it was clear that the story, or a version of it, was circulating amongst the fairy community and the rest of the garden inhabitants.

Life beneath the magnolia tree was usually peaceful and undisturbed and to be honest a little monotonous. This revelation about the highest family in the land was too good to keep a secret; even for those she trusted most to do so.

Her power as ruler of this invisible kingdom was in jeopardy, and if she was to maintain her status and dignity action needed to be taken. Not just to punish the king for his actions, which under fairy law meant instant banishment to the human world, but to the woman in his embrace.

The queen knew who she was. The lady-in-waiting that the king had unwisely danced twice with at the summer ball. As a member of the court and daughter of one of the royal counsellors, this floozy knew exactly what the consequences were for flirting with a married man and particularly with the king himself.

There was only one course of action and it had to be taken quickly. The queen called her trusted advisors together in the council chamber in a clearing beneath the magnolia tree. Apart from fairies she also sent out messengers to find the wisest creature in the entire garden.

Felis silvestris catus was descended from the royal cats of ancient Egypt and had wandered into this garden in Spain many years ago. He said little but when he did speak it was always profound and the words valuable.

The palace guard had led the king to an ante-chamber where he waited head in hands to discover his fate. He had tried to speak to his queen but had been held back by her soldiers and he knew that his life here in this world was at an end.

The discussions continued through the night and into the next day. Angry voices could be heard and also desperate pleading by the father of the lady-in-waiting, who was terrified of losing his daughter for good.

Eventually the doors to the council chamber were flung opened and the king was led through to face his fate.

White faced and visibly shaking the queen pronounced the sentence that would be carried out immediately. She faced the king and made him kneel at her feet. She looked down at his bowed head and sorrowfully delivered the judgement.

You will be banished to the human world to live in another garden far away. You will be turned to stone, in the form of a one-eyed pig. You will then live beneath a wide-limbed evergreen tree that is home to many pigeons.’

The king raised his head and stared at his wife in disbelief but she returned his look coldly.

‘In addition, you will be guarded by one of my most trusted ladies of the bed chamber, who will be transformed into a black dog so that she can live in comfort in the home of the humans. She will report back to me should you decide to use your own magic powers to change your form.’

The queen smiled grimly. ‘Do not imagine you will be able to put anything past the Lady Ellie as she is keen of mind as well as a rare beauty.’

The king ventured to speak and begrudgingly the queen indicated that he could stand and address the court one last time.

‘I am deeply sorry for my actions, but I truly love the Lady Oleander and would beg that you do not punish her for my unseemly actions.’ He looked at his wife with his hands held out towards her.

‘Her punishment has been carried out and you can no longer help her.’

The harsh words drew a sharp breath from the king.

‘She was found waiting for you in the secret garden beneath the clock and has been frozen in time where she will now wait for you forever.’

Many years passed and the fairy world slowly recovered from the loss of their carefree king and moved on with their lives in the heat and cold of the changing seasons within the garden.

Eventually the queen found love again with a dashing prince who was visiting from another fairy court many miles distant. As she basked in the new love, and after discussing the matter with her handsome young husband, she came to a decision.

Far, far away in the human world the one-eyed pig sat silently beneath the pigeon filled tree, becoming increasingly more decorated with their offerings. He was watched over daily by the Lady Ellie who herself had become a little bored with her restrictive life as a guard dog.

Then one day messengers arrived from the fairy kingdom having flown for three nights and three days. The swans had acted as protectors for the tiny robin who had been sent with a message for the Lady Ellie. Now as the misty early morning sunlight filled the garden, the red-breasted bird delivered the royal decree.

The king was to be released from his stone curse but could not return to the fairy kingdom. He would now have to live as a mortal man with a human lifespan. Since the queen was now happily in love again herself and had no wish for the king to remain alone, she would also release the Lady Oleander from her vigil beneath the clock.

The Lady Ellie cast the necessary spells and some days later a tall, good looking man was seen waiting patiently at a railway station with a suitcase at his feet. After all the years of living beneath the pigeons in the tree, it was a great relief to actually have two of them pecking away at crumbs at his feet instead.

Suddenly, he noticed a beautiful young woman with flowing blonde hair walking towards him along the platform. As he heard the sound of the steam engine travelling slowly into the station, the lovely vision stopped in front of him. She smiled and reached out a hand and he swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately.

A world away beneath the magnolia tree someone else was watching the scene. The queen opened her eyes and smiled. She could now live happily ever after. Even if it was just for a brief human lifespan, her old love would now be happy too with his Lady Oleander.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

 

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter from the Tales from the Garden and as always your comments are much appreciated. Thanks Sally

Other short story anthologies.

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 7th – 13th June 2020 – FREE Book Marketing -ABBA – Kippers – Tomato Salad and a feast of authors, books and laughter


Welcome to the Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up with posts that you might have missed during the week.

I hope everyone is doing well and is looking forward to a more lifting of restrictions in the coming week. Still some confusion about where, with whom, why and when you can do things but hopefully that will be clarified! First, something that can do something about…..

Ongoing book marketing opportunities.

Delighted to say that the Meet the Authors series every weekend is going well, and I will have featured every author in the Cafe and Bookstore by the end of July. As an author in the cafe, you don’t need to do a thing although it would be great if you could share the post to boost for your own books and the other two authors featured with you.

Share an Extract from your most recent book.

Stop me if you are currently selling too many books or are receiving too many reviews…

I wish I was in that position. But, in case like me you could always use a little more visibility, and you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore, then why not spend five minutes of your time and send me 500 words from your most recent release, or if you are poet… a poem… so that I can put together a promotion for you, such as the one I have featured for today: Extract from Silent Heroes by Patricial Furstenberg

Here is the post that tells you how you can participate with an example of how it looks with one of my books… it is FREE Book promotion… don’t miss out: Share an Extract from your latest book

If you need any more convincing.. the average views of posts in the previous series was over 100… hopefully resulting in one or two sales and more reviews.

Anyway.. I will be waiting to hear from you.. and you are very welcome, even if you have been recently featured. The list is growing daily so please get in touch soon.

Time to move onto the posts from the week you might have missed.

Thanks as always to the contributors and guests who bring such amazing posts to the blog, and to you for all your support.

William Price King ABBA Part Five – The Finale

Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘K’ for Kale, Ketchup, Kippers and Kanom Moo Krob (Crispy Pork and Kale)

#Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Simply Delicious Tomato and Basil Salad

 

Wake Robin Ridge Book One by Marcia Meara

May 1985 – Las Vegas Razzle Dazzle Part One Sally Cronin

The Colour of Life – The Price Of A Habit – 1937

Tales from the Garden Chapter Five – Trouble in Paradise – Part one

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Powerscourt Ireland

Chesebro’s Poetry Challenge – #SynonymsOnly -#GarlandCinquain – Garden Birds

Acidity/Alkalinity pH Balance for Health Part One and Music Therapy

New Book on the Shelves – #Sci-fi Promise Me (Dave Travise Book 3) by Richard Dee

#Contemporary -You’re Never Too Old to be A Prom Queen by Olga Nunez Miret

#Historical -The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger

#GraphicNovel Sue Vincent and Stuart France, #Historical #1950s Bette A. Stevens, #Poetry Balroop Singh

#Memoir Ann Patras, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Mystery Barbara Silkstone

#Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Childrens Pamela S. Wight, #Memoir Pete Springer

#Childrens Nicholas C. Rossis, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz Vega, #Writing Harmony Kent

#Blogging Anne R. Allen, #Thriller Mark Bierman, #Childrens #YA Robbie and Michael Cheadle

#Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Flashfiction Sarah Brentyn, #SciFi Richard Dee

#Thriller Jaye Marie, #Thriller J.P. McClean, #Contemporary Jessica Norrie

Food Therapy – #Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health

Laughter Lines – June 9th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Laughter Lines – June 11th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

More Humour from the Senior Team

Thank you very much for dropping and for your generous support, I hope that you will join me again next week..thanks Sally.

Project 101 – Resilience – Acidity/Alkalinity pH Balance for Health Part One and Music Therapy – Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with Covid- 19 – Opportunistic pathogens like nothing better than an acidic environment to thrive in.

Health and energy and long life all begin with a correct pH balance.

The pH balance refers to the acidity or alkalinity of every living organism. The scale for measuring this balance is called Potential for Hydrogen or pH balance and each system or organ has its optimum balance for health. The scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7.0 being neutral with anything above 7 as alkaline and anything below 7 being acidic. Each step up or down is ten times the previous which means that even a change of .1 will have an effect on your body.

For example human blood stays in a very narrow pH range between 7.35 and 7.45. If the balance goes either side of this there will be varying symptoms of disease. In fact if the pH level drops too much below 6.8 or above 7.8 the heart can stop.

This illustrates how critical this level of acidity and alkalinity is for our health.

If you have a health problem you are very likely to be acidic.

Some of the early symptoms are acid after eating, acne, panic attacks, cold hands and feet, food allergies, bloating, mild headaches and fatigue. Sound familiar?

More acute symptoms are cold sores, depression, migraines, asthma, hives, and urinary infections (urine pH should be between 7.0 and 7.2. Under 5.3 you cannot absorb vitamins and minerals), hair loss, fungal infections and numbness and tingling.

Advanced symptoms are the diseases such as Crohn’s disease, MS, Leukaemia, Peptic ulcers, Cancer (thrives in a balance of 4.5 to 5.0), Hodgkin’s Disease, Tuberculosis, Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoporosis.

For example, an aging problem that both men and women are likely to experience is osteoporosis. One of the primary causes of osteoporosis is a lifetime of eating too much daily protein and refined sugars. This is very acid forming and necessitates the body continually pulling calcium from the bones to buffer this acidity. Animal protein is somewhat worse than vegetarian protein foods, but all exert an acidic effect. Eating a diet high in processed foods that contain a high sugar content also results in an increase in high acidity.

Too much acid will decrease the energy production in the cells and the ability to repair damaged cells. The body is unable to detox heavy metals and allows tumour cells to thrive. It will also cause a depressed immune system leaving the body wide open to infections.

As we age, we gradually dry up at the cellular level. As we get older cells get thicker. As a result the amounts of vital nutrients and oxygen brought into them declines while the amount of toxins and metabolic waste products increases. The end result is loss of youthful cell function and the start of degenerative diseases and a steady aging process.

What causes too much acid in the body?

An acidic balance occurs from eating an acid forming diet, stress, toxicity in our environment and lack of absorption of alkaline forming minerals. If the body cannot get enough alkaline forming minerals such as calcium from the diet it will borrow from our reserves, namely the calcium stored in the bones which leads to osteoporosis.

All food is burned to an ash in the body.

Food ash is neutral, acid or alkaline depending on the mineral content of the food. To be considered alkaline forming the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are predominant. If it is acidic forming the ash will contain sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.

To be healthy the body needs to be in the ratio of 4 – 1.

Four parts alkaline and one part acid.

Just because a food is acid to begin with does not mean that it is acidic forming once it has gone through the digestive process. For example, a lemon is citrus and acidic but the ash it produces is alkaline.

There are some physical causes for an acid build up in the stomach that can then lead to a disruption in the acid balances in other systems of the body.

Eating too much at one time can result in inadequate processing in the stomach.

We are all familiar with that overstuffed feeling that we get when we have eaten too much. If you eat too fast you can compound this problem and the stomach is simply not large enough nor can it produce sufficient processing power to deal with the amount of food in a short space of time.

We have also lost the art of relaxing after a meal, rushing around trying to cope with modern life does zero for the digestive process. I am sure that we can all remember when we were children that we were never allowed to swim or run around for at least two hours after a main meal. Digestion takes a great deal of energy and if you divert that energy towards vigorous exercise, food is not processed properly leading to stomach cramps and increased acidity.

Next week – the eating programme to create a healthier alkaline/acidity balance in the body.

It is recommended that you get up from the sitting position at least once an hour for ten to fifteen minutes, and it is a chance to get your blood flow pumped up to invigorate the body and the brain.

Dancing and singing along gives you double the bang for your buck.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. Singing along at the same time will give your lungs an additional workout and with that in mind, I have selected a song that should get you up and dancing along with the lyrics, a couple of times should do the trick.. So Long by ABBA..uploaded by abbamaria96

ABBA’s Music: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next Tuesday for some more Resilience training. 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 Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden Chapter Five – Trouble in Paradise – Part one by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden. I hope that you will enjoy.

About Tales from the Garden

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

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

Chapter Five – Trouble in Paradise – Part one

In special gardens you may be lucky enough to find that fairies have set up home. Since ancient times they have preferred to build their invisible houses beneath the shade of a magnolia tree. This was the case with the Kingdom of Magia in this secret garden.

The magnolia is a tree that has seen thousands of years of history and survived the earth’s changes and turmoil. The fairies know that its strength will keep them safe and that its roots, so deep under the ground, will always gather fresh water to filter into their homes.

Other creatures within the garden bring their bounty to the tree as well. Bees seek out the sweetness in the blooms that form and die so quickly. But, not before little pouches of honey are stored within the heart of the flower for the fairies to collect at night. Honey is almost as ancient as the magnolia tree itself, and despite the short harvesting season, it never spoils, so can be stored in empty nut shells for the entire year.

Within the safety of the sweeping broad leafed branches, and with a plentiful supply of water and honey, the fairy colony in the garden grew and flourished. Eventually there came a time, centuries ago, when it was decided that a king and queen should be appointed. A palace was constructed within the roots of the magnolia, with linked gardens and passages with vaults of golden honey. Designed to shelter and nourish the new and precious royal family, it was staffed with a select number of senior fairies, who would act as servants and counsellors.

That was long in the past, and the present king and queen were now approaching middle age in fairy terms; which is about 450 years old. Their subjects adored them as they were both fair to look at and generous in temperament, but beneath the surface of this idyllic royal relationship trouble was brewing.

The king was handsome, wise and had a wonderful sense of humour. All the fairies eagerly awaited the mid-summer ball but none more so than their fun loving royal master. When the ball was officially opened on the arrival of the royal couple, with the stoned band playing up a storm, he was always first on the dance floor.

He whirled his many partners around like confetti in their gossamer dresses and sparkling shoes. Their fragile wings lifting them off the ground the faster they twirled. However, he was careful to never dance more than once with any particular lady of the court. He knew from experience that the queen, who was not an accomplished dancer, would be looking on with a watchful eye.

It was after this year’s summer ball that rumours of a rift in their beloved royal couple’s relationship began to circulate. Not just amongst the courtiers, but also the rest of the fairies in their homes beneath the magnolia.

The king had danced with one specific and beautiful lady-in-waiting twice during the ball. It was clear to all present at the time, that the queen had not been amused. In the weeks that followed it was also noticed that she spent more and more of the day in the palace courtyard surrounded by her beloved flowers.

Occasionally a tear had been seen to fall to the blossoms beneath her. They were bitter drops of sadness and soon the lovely petals began to shrivel and fall to the ground before their time.

Beneath his stony and sculptured handsomeness, the king was also troubled, and he could be found hanging around in his own personal garden staring into space as if wishing to be miles away from the palace walls. The fairies braced themselves for bad news.

Once a week the queen would rouse herself from her sadness and tour the rest of the garden that was her domain. She liked to check in with the guardians, eagles and her other more inanimate subjects, to assure herself that the humans were treating them with respect and kindness. She also liked to pop in on the seven dwarves that made up her royal orchestra and make sure they were practicing and not up to mischief. She skimmed across the grass towards their home beneath the canopy of an old evergreen tree with a quick visit in mind and then a return to her lonely courtyard.

Just as she was about to alight upon a conveniently placed mushroom, she bumped right into one of the dwarves who was running towards the centre of the clearing, hand in hand with a giant rabbit. Luckily for the queen her delicate body was unharmed and of course the dwarf barely noticed the brush as light as a feather as he was so distraught and excited.

When he realised who he had bumped into he started muttering away to himself… ‘Say nothing, say nothing, off with my head, off with my head.’

The queen look a little bemused… ‘If you touch my royal personage again in that manner, I will be happy to oblige’ she said rather acerbically.

The dwarf looked sheepish and with his arm firmly around his rabbit for support he tried to smile bravely.

‘I am so sorry majesty,’ he muttered getting redder and redder in the face. ‘We have just seen something shocking and we were just running to tell my brothers about it… it wasn’t anything important I promise you.’

He was having trouble in looking the queen in the eye and suddenly her magical powers locked onto his thoughts…. Oh no, it can’t be true…

The wavering image in the dwarf’s head began to take shape and the queen focused on the silvery figures that emerged.

Dread filled her heart, and even though she could not see their faces, she immediately recognised the figure of the man as he held another body in his firm embrace. It was the king, her one love, her husband of 400 years and the man who had now broken her heart.

©sallycronin  2015

Part Two – Next Sunday.

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter from the Tales from the Garden and as always your comments are much appreciated. Thanks Sally

Other short story anthologies.

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 31st May – June 6th 2020 – #Waterford, Elvis, Foxes, Lamaze Classes, poetry, books, reviews and Health


Time continues to pass rapidly despite the turmoil in the world, and suddenly it is Saturday again. Welcome to the posts that you might have missed on Smorgasbord during the week.

Something to think about

I am so tempted to switch off from the news headlines and retreat into my rural sanctuary here in Ireland and ignore the world and its desperation. But, I am part of the world, as we all are, and our words and actions have consequences, especially today with the immediacy of our online contributions. It feels like a powder keg with a lit fuse coiling around the globe, as people take to the streets and their knees, in response to actions that even 10 years ago would have gone unnoticed except for those swept up in the events.

In our modern age of mobile phones with cameras, social media and a growing frustration with what is seen as archaic methods of out of date policing and government, it is unwise for anyone in power to assume that their actions will be swept under the carpet, and that there will not be consequences. Having said that, it also applies to the minority who are taking advantage of the situation by looting and carrying out acts of violence on innocent bystanders and businesses.

Fear and lack of leadership has led to disproportionate reactions from the authorities which has just fueled the situation. Instead of talking and reaching a consensus on a way forward, this reaction is destined to be repeated, unless radical changes are made. It is however, heartwarming, to see that even under such stress, many of those behind the shields have taken to a knee and shared their solidarity with the peaceful protestors.

For those protesting peacefully, I am with you all the way. It is not just the approach to colour in the media, by the authorities, and in the community, it is about developing a whole new approach to education, health care, and employment that currently creates such a divide in our nations. This is not just in the USA but also in countries in Europe where inequality still thrives across the different cultures and sectors of society.

We seem to have forgotten that under our skin colour, beneath our beliefs and beyond our different languages, we all share the same physiology and as human beings, we all have inalienable rights.

One of the most basic rights should be that our fellow man will look out for us when we are being persecuted.

And now time for the posts from the week…and thank you for all the support that I am very grateful for. As I am for the contributors who add such flavour, knowledge and humour to the blog each week.

And to start off another new book marketing series ... a follow on from Share an Extract of a Previous Book... now it is the turn of your most recent book.  Full details in the post and an example of how it will look.

#Free #Bookmarketing – New series – Share an Extract from your latest book.

Tales from the Garden Chapter Four – Pearly Girl and the Dwarves Stone Band

The Colour of Life 1936 – #Waterford -The Station

May 1985 – Lamaze classes, Pink Cadillacs and Funeral Plots

Double Etheree – Silver Lining

Songs from the Movies – Jail House Rock – Elvis Presley.

Flexibility – An Apple a Day – Music Therapy

How much do you get for your 1500 calories and Music Therapy –

olive oil

Olive Oil…keeps your body moving

Meet the Authors – #Thrillers John W. Howell, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #ContemporaryIrish Mary Crowley

#Mystery James J. Cudney, #Poetry Natalie Ducey, #Mystery Stevie Turner

#DystopianSciFi Terry Tyler, #Thriller Yigal Zur, #WorldWarII Marina Osipova

Sharon Marchisello, #Memoir Cynthia S. Reyes, #Poetry Annette Rochelle Aben

#Paranormal Don Massenzio, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Fantasy Jan Sikes

#Childrens – Hair Peace by Dawn Doig

#Children’s – Franky the Friendly Flamingo: An Anti-Bullying Book (The Franky the Flamingo Series) Wanda Luthman

#Poetry – Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures by Leon Stevens

#Childrens Toni Pike, #Dystopian Teri Polen, #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

#Fantasy A.J. Alexander, #YARomance Angie Dokos, #Mystery Diana J. Febry

#Romance Jacquie Biggar, #Romance Linda Bradley, #History #Childrens Barbara Ann Mojica

Bubba Tails: From the Puppy Nursery at the Seeing Eye (Tales from King Campbell Book 1) by Patty Fletcher

June 2nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Guest Balroop Singh

June 4th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you very much for dropping by and I hope you will have a great week, and will join me again.. stay safe.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 Resilience – How much do you get for your 1500 calories and Music Therapy – Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience a reminder of the aim of the series.

Let me say upfront, that I cannot promise that what you will read over the next few weeks will prevent you catching a viral or bacterial infection, but what I would like to do is to encourage as many people as possible to take themselves out of the identified high risk categories by making some small changes to their lifestyle and diet.

One of the highest risks is to those over 70, particularly those who have underlying health problems. However, those health problems are predominantly lifestyle related and do not have to be for life. For example, Obesity, Type II Diabetes, Inflammatory diseases, nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin D and High Blood Pressure.

I see a window of opportunity for all of us to review our health, diet and lifestyle and see where we can make improvements to boost our immune systems, reduce our risk factors and feel more confident about going back out into the world again. A chance to get our bodies fighting fit.

Over the last 20 years or so of working with 100s of clients as a nutritional therapist, I have discovered that making sweeping changes does not work. There are three elements that require attention, physical, mental and emotional, and making small but key changes in these areas is much more effective.

One of the areas that seems to cause the most confusion is calories...and yes they can be a pain to count each day but it is still one of the best ways to lose weight. Energy in and energy out.. too much of one or the other and your body does not run efficiently.

The key to healthy weight loss is to make sure that the calories that you do consume may be reduced by are nutrient dense

Getting the most out of your 1500 calories

I established in an earlier post that a woman needs a minimum daily intake of 1,500 calories and a man needs a minimum daily intake of 1,800 calories to provide sufficient calories and nutrition to run the body’s operating systems.

If you weigh 200lbs your body will require more calories per day to function – approximately 10 calories per pound. If your body requires 2000 calories per day and you eat 1500 calories you will create a deficit of 500 calories x 7 = 3500 calories per week, which is 1lb weight of body fat.

As an example at 330lbs I needed 3300 calories per day just to carry all that extra weight around. My initial programme allowed me to eat 2000 calories per day which was quite a lot of food (of the right kind). I lost an average of 3lbs a week once the initial water loss was completed.

If you only need to lose 10lbs you will find that in a moderately active day you will still be using 2000+ calories.. so by eating 1500 calories you will still be able to create a 500 calorie deficit which will be 1lb loss per week.

Always remember that the most important aspect of those calories should be the nutritional content.

Let’s look at two sample menus of around 1,500 calories.

Menu 1 – Bad example

• You could eat three chocolate bars, which would be 1,500 calories or around 60 fat grams.

OR, you could have ALL of the following;

Menu 2 – Good example

Breakfast

• Bowl of sugar free cereal such as porridge (30 g) with skimmed milk with a handful of blueberries (150 calories)
• Slice of toast with scrape of butter and jam or marmalade (130 calories)
• Cup of black coffee or green tea and a small glass of cranberry juice (50 calories)
(Total: 330 calories)

Morning snack
• Two pieces of fruit such as a small apple, pear, mandarin or one banana (100 calories)

Light Lunch

• Whole grain bread salad sandwich with chicken or fish (350 calories)
• Fat-free yogurt and one piece of fruit (105 calories)
(Total: 555 calories)

Dinner

• 150 gm grilled cod or small chicken breast (140 calories)
• 100 g potato (85 calories)
• Generous helping Broccoli, cabbage and carrots (120 calories)
• Tomato and basil sauce (100 calories)
(Total: 445 calories)

Evening snack

Fresh fruit salad and low-fat yogurt (watch the sugar in the yogurt) (250 calories)

Total for the day: 1,580 calories or 28 fat grams.

What you should notice here is just how much food you can eat and still lose weight. You would not be hungry with a daily menu similar to this. But, if you had eaten only three chocolate bars, you would not just have been very hungry at the end of the day but you would also have filled your system with many times the amount of sugar you need, and your fat intake would have been far too high.

We need a balanced diet whatever weight we are, but it is particularly important if you are trying to lose weight.

Every individual requires a different balance in their diet, depending on age, sex and activity level. If you are pregnant, elderly or recovering from illness then you will require a different balance to the types of food you are eating on a daily basis. I discuss supplements in a later post, since it is very difficult to achieve optimum nutrition even on 2,000 calories per day. This is why eating lots of fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fresh fruit is so important.

Carbohydrates play a crucial role in our energy levels and it is important to include a healthy amount in your program. Usually it is what we serve with our carbohydrates that cause us problems. A healthy slice of whole-grain bread at about 75 calories suddenly becomes the snack from hell when you add butter, a slice of cheese and two slices of ham.

As a guideline, if I were on a regime of 1,500-1,600 calories a day, I would expect to eat the following amounts in the various food groups.

Carbohydrates:– 4 to 6 servings depending on your activity level. ( 1 slice of breads, small bowl of cereal and starchy vegetables such as carrots large tablespoon, potatoes 1 medium, turnip 1 large tablespoon, swede large tablespoon and beans tablespoon).
Green and salad Vegetables:- 4 servings – 1 quarter of a plateful per serving.
Fruit:- 2 – 3 servings – An orange, apple, pear, banana, handful of berries (variety)
Protein:- 2 servings, (1 egg, lean meats, 150 gm chicken or fish)
Fats:- In meats, chicken, oily fish, olive oil and small amounts of cheese in the week.
Milk:– You can use semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk, but tea does not taste the same to me so I use full-fat milk and just have a small amount on cereal.

The important thing to remember here is that you may need to increase your intake of carbohydrate to fuel certain levels of activity. I have worked with a number of athletes among my clients and their programs were planned around their training sessions. They would eat more carbohydrates, in the form of pasta or beans, on the day before training. This increases their energy and stamina levels even just hours later.

Now time to work off some of those calories and get your blood flowing with some music therapy.

One of the perks of being a radio presenter was being asked to MC charity events and my job was to warm everyone up before the walk or race with some motivational music… over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlist for those events and to help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Give yourself a break after reading this post and get up and get moving. Ideally every two hours of inactivity should be followed by at least 15 minutes of activity.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun.  Another artist that I have always enjoyed working out with is Bruce Springsteen and here is Dancing in the Dark uploaded Bruce Springsteen

Buy the music by Bruce Springsteen Amazon US – And:Amazon UK

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me Tuesday for some more Resilience training. Sally

Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series

©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 Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden Chapter Four – Pearly Girl and the Dwarves Stone Band by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden. I hope that you will enjoy.

About Tales from the Garden

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

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

Tales from the Garden – Chapter Four – Pearly Girl and the Dwarves Stone Band

Pearly Girl and the Dwarves is a stone band that plays at all the fairy balls, weddings and birthday celebrations. To the human inhabitants of the villa, they were also playthings for the children who have grown up over the last fifty years and were loved by many.

Unfortunately, like many of the stoned rock bands of the past, the dwarves had not always behaved well. There were a couple of incidences when one or two of the band, who will remain nameless, sniffed a little too much of the pollen of the sneezeweed that grew at the bottom of the garden. They had been banned from playing at any of the fairy events in the fairy kingdom of Magia, beneath the old magnolia tree, for the last fifteen years.

The children of the house had also grown up and left and the band found themselves huddled on the windswept ledge on the back side of the house gathering moss and covered in swallow poop as the birds used them for target practice.

Finally in the late 90s the new owners discovered them in their isolated outcrop and decided to relocate the group to the top of the garden under a large shady tree where they could resume their musical endeavours without disturbing the household or the neighbours. The fairy queen, seeing that they had returned to human favour, decided to give them another chance with a dire warning of consequences should there be further unacceptable behaviour.

Although the band was tucked away in a quiet part of the garden, the abundant wildlife that had made a home in this serene spot soon began to move out. Unfortunately the dwarves were all a bit out of practice, particularly Thrifty with his kettle drum who had gone a bit deaf and drowned out the rest of the band and was asked to stand in the corner.

Shifty was on the fiddle but the others kept their eyes on the expenses. Nifty was on the saxophone, Hefty on the base drum and cymbals and Ditzy blows his own trumpet.

Wiffy tuned up his guitar and that just left Sniffy the male vocalist of the group who insisted on being accompanied by his best friend Buck the rabbit. Buck was okay as a backup singer but Sniffy failed to realise that his BFF was in fact the cause of his allergies. I know that I said that I would not reveal the names of the culprits behind the banishment from fairyland but you can probably guess that Sniffy was not blameless!

Anyway after a few weeks the band was in fine fettle and eagerly awaited the arrival of their lead singer Pearly Girl.

The fairies were holding a birthday party, and tonight was the band’s first performance of the summer and the first in fifteen years. Their future as a band and their chance of staying out in the garden instead of in exile on the poop covered ledge, was dependent on their performance and behaviour.

Buck, as he tended to move a lot faster than the rest of the band, went off in search of Pearly Girl.

He looked everywhere and even asked the resident hippie if he had seen her. The hippie had heard that Pearly Girl and Buck’s cousin Fizzy, had been on the town the night before, and might have got themselves arrested. This was not good news and Hippie and Buck hurried over to the garden’s naughty corner to see if he could find out more.

They found Fizzy almost immediately, obviously still plastered from the night before and they spent precious minutes trying to get some sense out of him. Even Hippie had a go and finally they were told that Pearly Girl was the other side of the holding area in a dreadful state.

Buck and Hippie had their work cut out for them if they were going to get Pearly Girl in shape in time for the performance. Buck got the rest of the fairy juice off her and Hippie raced around getting her clothes and make-up organised. With just minutes to go and as the audience and the photographers arrived they got their star act ready.

The stage was set, the sun shone and the band began to play their first song. ‘One Day my Prince will Come’ and Pearly Girl walked through the garden to join them. As she began to sing the audience broke into rounds of applause.

The fairy queen and her court were duly impressed with the two hour performance and signed a contract with the stoned band to perform at their mid-summer ball the following week.

Happy to be off the poop laden ledge for good, the band wandered off in search of the sneezeweed and a jug or two of organic rosewater laced with some fermented bee pollen.

©sallycronin Tales from the Garden 2015

I hope you have enjoyed the start to the Tales from the Garden and as always your comments are much appreciated. Thanks Sally

Other short story anthologies.

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden – Chapter Three – The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden. I hope that you will enjoy.

About Tales from the Garden

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

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

Tales from the Garden – Chapter Three – The Last Emperor

High above the garden, our feathered cousins soar on the updrafts caused by the scorching summer heat on the peaks and valleys of our mountain. They search diligently for their preferred prey which is anything that dares to fly beneath them or scuttle out of the undergrowth in search of food.

Majestically they accomplish what we cannot, and have never been able to. From our place guarding the main entrance into the building that now stands on this ancient site, we watch enviously with our own wings fixed in stone.

We are the last of the stone eagles that have watched over this magical place. The first were made by a slave of the Roman merchant who built his villa on this mountain over eighteen hundred years ago. He and his countrymen had swept across and settled on the now peaceful sunlit Iberian Peninsula after many centuries of war. He supplied olives, figs and grapes to his fellow Romans and delivered casks of wine to the garrison of soldiers in the camp down by the river. He was a rich man with many slaves collected and bartered during the long journey from the coast to this central part of Spain.

For two hundred years the merchant’s family prospered and enjoyed the life so far from their original home. The skill of stone carving was passed down from the original slave to his sons and their grandsons as the seasons rolled through the decades. But then it all changed as the Visigoths invaded from the north and violence once more shattered the peace of the land.

The merchant’s family left and retreated back towards the south and eventually began a new life far away. Slaves were left behind in the panic, but being essential to work the land, were allowed to settle on farms and in small villages. But the stonemason of that time remained in the crumbling ruins of the old villa, and built a modest dwelling where he continued to work and pass on his craft.

Finally his large family scattered across the surrounding area as towns and cities lured them away from the rural life. But always one remained to learn the trade and instruct another to take his place. The very last stonemason who had no sons, crafted us before he died, and as he smoothed our stone wings and hid us within the leafy folds of the boundary hedge, he muttered final words to us.

“Wait for the last Emperor, he will come and find you.”

We waited and the protective hedge grew around us. The stonemason’s humble home crumbled in the heat and snow filled winters, until it too joined the grand remains of the Roman villa beneath the soil.

Finally, fifty years ago, the sound of modern machinery woke us from our sleep and we watched between the large green leaves of the hedge as a new villa emerged in front of us. We heard human voices for the first time in many years and the sound of laughter as children played in the gardens.

But still we waited.

Thirty-five years passed and the children grew and left the home leaving an elderly couple rattling around its vast empty rooms. Soon they too left and all was quiet again.

One bright morning, as we lay in our hiding place, we were startled and shocked by the sudden intrusion of a long canine nose that pushed aside our overgrown covering. We stared into a pair of eyes that sparkled gleefully upon us. From this creature’s mouth came forth a high penetrating noise; enough to awaken even us stone bound creatures. Two human hands reached around the canine and pulled him gently back by his dark purple, imperial collar. They then returned and each one of us was lifted clear of the entwining stalks and leaves and we were placed in the sunlight for the first time in over a hundred years.

I won’t go into the indignity of being cleaned with brush, soap and hot water in places left untouched since our stonemason fashioned us. But finally we were pristine again and placed on our ledge to guard the house as was our duty.

We remembered what our old master had said as he had hidden us from sight. And, within a short time, we knew indeed that the last Emperor had arrived, as he came before us wearing his wreath of office and informed us of his imperial title of Moyhill Royal Flush. We and his courtiers were permitted to call him Sam, but only in private.

Our joy was beyond comprehension as the prophecy was fulfilled and we took pride and delight in guarding our new master. We remained alert over the next many years as our Emperor roamed the grounds on his daily inspection, supervised the garden workers and reigned over his house slaves.

Each night, he would hold court from the front balcony of the villa, listening to his canine subjects in the valley as they recounted the day’s events in his domain. He would wait until they had completed their report and then respond for several minutes, encouraging them to be vigilant and valiant.

He would then wait for his house slaves to bring him ice cubes to cool his parched tongue and platters of his royal repast in the form of chicken gizzards and sweet smelling Basmati rice.

We, as his loyal cohorts were not forgotten. As he passed us each day he would delicately sniff our bodies to check our health, and if he felt we were dehydrated, he would anoint us with his regal blessing.

We treasured our role as his elite royal guard and although, to our great sadness, he has now passed from our sight, we still stand sentry over him today. It is in a place where he can continue to view his great domain and listen to his many canine minions in the valley below. The last emperor has left his mark on this place, on us and on his people and will never be forgotten.

©sallycronin Tales from the Garden 2015

I hope you have enjoyed the start to the Tales from the Garden and as always your comments are much appreciated. Thanks Sally

Other short story anthologies.

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin