Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – #Winning Streak – The Scratch Card by Sally Cronin


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

Winning Streak – The Scratch Card

Elsie Thompson attended the morning service at St. Cuthbert’s and dropped in to the coffee morning in the church Hall to catch up on the gossip in the parish from the last week. She also wanted to share the good news with her friends that she had won twenty pounds on a scratch card the day before, and she had four crisp five pound notes in her purse to prove it.

Mr. Singh, the owner of the corner shop where she always bought her tickets, had beamed at her as he handed over the cash and commented it would not take her far sadly. She laughed and spent one of the fivers on another card, in the hopes another win might get her somewhere with a lot more sunshine than Liverpool. To be honest, even enough for a day out in Southport would be lovely for the both of them, and her husband Frank would enjoy a stroll down Lord Street, and she would treat him to a posh tea at the Prince of Wales hotel.

Elsie paid for five cups of coffee and a biscuit for herself and her four friends with one of the remaining fivers, and they sat in a corner happily sharing their news and plans for the following week. It was money well spent, and an hour later, Elsie walked home to get the roast lunch prepared, looking forward to their son Tom’s monthly visit with his wife Steph and their two boys.

As she crossed the main road, she saw a young lad sitting on the pavement outside a closed charity shop, he was playing the guitar, and at the moment the only audience seemed to be his dog leaning up against his shoulder. Elsie paused in her mental preparation of the roast pork with crackling, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower cheese and peas, followed by apple pie and custard. The boy’s face was pinched, and he shivered in the cold breeze that had picked up in the last couple of hours. His music was actually not half bad, and he had a nice voice, which drew her closer to hear more clearly. He smiled in recognition of her attention and the dog stood up and wagged its tail.

Elsie looked into the open guitar case and saw a few coppers were strategically scattered to entice further contributions. She had appreciated her own little bit of luck, and a few shillings wouldn’t be missed. She took her purse out of her handbag, opened it and realised she only had some pennies. Shaking her head she pulled out one of the remaining two five pound notes and tucked it beneath some of the coppers to stop it flying away. She looked up into the boy’s face when he suddenly stopped singing and saw tears running down his face into his dirty scarf.

Ten minutes later Frank Thompson got up from his chair where he had been enjoying his Sunday paper when he heard Elsie’s key in the lock. She bustled through the door followed by a scruffy boy carrying a guitar case and accompanied by a dog wagging its tail enthusiastically.

‘Hi love, just brought a couple of friends home to join us for lunch,’ she paused and turned to the visitors. ‘This is Pete and his dog Meg and they could use a quick wash up before dinner, so could you take them out to the utility room?’

Frank knew after being married to Elsie for thirty-five years, the best course of action was to comply. ‘Welcome lad and follow me, and looks like your Meg could do with a bit of a hose down too.’

A week later as Frank and Elsie enjoyed a cup of tea, they heard urgent knocking on the front door, and along with an excited Meg they rushed to open it. Pete stood on the doorstep in the cast off clothes Tom had left behind years ago, and beamed at them both as Meg greeted him ecstatically.

They all sat around the kitchen table with tea and biscuits, and the lad told them all about his interview the job centre had organised for him tomorrow at the local supermarket.

There were several applicants, but it was a start, and both Frank and Elsie gave him some pointers on how to conduct himself. Elsie also suggested she give his hair a bit of a trim to make a good impression. That night Pete lay in Tom’s bed, with Meg snoring beside him, and thought about the wonderful changes in his life over the last few days.

He had a roof over his head and was putting on weight after eating three square meals a day lovingly prepared by Elsie. Frank sat with him each evening in the front parlour and as they chatted, the boy slowly opened up about his difficult home life and time on the streets.

The hostels didn’t want Meg, and had urged him to take her to a shelter, but he couldn’t give up the one friend who truly loved him, despite the temptation of a warm and safe bed for the night.

The couple said he could stay as long as he and Meg needed to, and if he got the job tomorrow he intended to pay them rent, hoping they might find it in their hearts to let them stay permanently. He thought about the five pound note Elsie had given him a week ago, still crisp and safely tucked into his new jacket pocket. Tomorrow he was going to buy her a gift with it to thank her for changing his life. He fell asleep with his arm around his dog, hopeful and excited for the first time in his life about his future.

The next morning, having been thoroughly inspected by Elsie, and with a few tweaks here and there, Pete arrived at the supermarket in plenty of time for his interview. After a few minutes he was taken back to the warehouse area and asked join five other applicants sat on chairs in the corridor. Pete felt even more nervous as he contemplated his fellow interviewees. He knew the application form he had completed, identified his lack of experience and big gaps between his sporadic employment history, as a result of living on the streets and caring for Meg. He felt his excitement slowly evaporate as he waited his turn. He tried to focus on Elise’s advice as she had served in shops most of her working life. He took a deep breath as finally he was asked to step into the manager’s office.

Twenty minutes later Pete stood in the queue at the checkout desk, holding a small household plant with pretty pink flowers he thought Elsie might like to put on the windowsill in the kitchen. He held the fiver she had given him tightly in his hand so it wouldn’t drop from his shaking fingers.

The interview had been one of the toughest things he had ever experienced. Apart from facing the steely eyed man across the desk from him, he had stumbled over a number of questions as he became more and more nervous. The man had softened just before the end of the interview, as if he wanted to let the lad down gently, and had told him they would be in touch in a few days.

The manager, John Dexter realised he had been tough on the last applicant because he knew how challenging the job could be. Customers were the lifeblood of the business, but whilst they might always think they were in the right, they could also be difficult and sometimes rude. You had to have a bit of backbone to stick with it eight hours a day, five days a week and he could see from the lad’s application form he lacked both experience and confidence. As Pete had been the last of the interviewees, John left his office to do his usual morning store walk through, checking displays, staff uniforms, and gaps in the goods on the shelves. He wanted to check the cashiers first, and although one of his supervisors kept an eye on the queues, opening checkouts as needed, he liked to see first-hand customers were being served promptly.

He spotted the last lad he had interviewed, standing in one of the nearest checkouts behind a small old lady with an invalid trolley. She had just placed her few items on the conveyor belt and he noted her shopping consisted of a few tins of their specially reduced baked beans, a loaf of bread, margarine, a pack of sausages, two packets of biscuits and four tins of their economy cat food. It was likely all the food she would have for the rest of the week until she picked up her pension on Thursday. They did try to steer some of their elderly customers in the direction of their reduced meats and other fresh produce but, even then, many could not afford to buy the items.

He watched as the cashier scanned the items and the old woman put them into the basket of her trolley and waited with her purse open ready to pay. She leant forward to hear the amount and then looked into her purse and shook her head. She reached into her basket and pulled out the sausages and the biscuits and put them back on the counter.

Wondering how he could intervene without causing this elderly customer embarrassment, he watched as the lad held out a fiver and heard him say to the cashier.

‘The lady dropped this on the floor please pass it to her.’

The cashier smiled at him and handed the fiver to the woman who stood with one hand over her mouth in surprise and tears in her eyes. After a moment she smiled at the lad, mouthing a thank you as she placed the biscuits and sausages back in her basket.

Pete backed out of the queue apologizing to the other customers and headed back to the flower display stand, placing the pot back with the others. He walked towards the store exit when he felt a hand on his shoulder and stopped in his tracks wondering what he had done wrong.

‘It was a very generous and kind thing you did back there.’

Pete turned and realised the store manager who had interviewed him was standing behind him.

‘I have been without food too often not to help if I can, and I have been very lucky in the last week myself.’

‘Well, I hope you feel your lucky streak has continued young man.’ John smiled at him.

‘Please be here at seven tomorrow morning at the staff entrance to start your shift and ask for my deputy manager Michelle Jones.’ He left the boy standing frozen to the spot to continue his tour of the store, smiling to himself at the funny way life sometimes worked out for the best.

That evening Frank popped down to the chippie and bought them all cod and chips with a sausage for Meg to celebrate Pete’s new job. As they sat around the kitchen table, Pete looked at these two kind people who had taken him and his dog in without question, and had asked nothing of him in return. He knew they missed their son Tom who had moved out six years ago and lived fifty miles away, only coming once every few weeks for Sunday lunch. They had said Pete and Meg could stay as long as they needed, but he didn’t want to assume on their kindness. He had a burning question he needed to ask.

‘If I pay you rent, would it be possible for us to live with you here permanently?’

Elsie and Frank looked at each other and even Meg stopped eating her dinner and waited. Pete held his breath.

Elsie reached out and took his hand. ‘Of course you can pet, and save your money up for a few weeks, and then perhaps you can help out with the groceries seeing as you get a staff discount.’ She winked at him and Pete let out his breath and tried to keep from shedding more tears. Frank stepped in to give the lad time to compose himself.

‘It will do me good lad to walk Meg a couple of times a day, and we can do some exploring when you have time off up to the Lake District. It is about time I got off my backside and you will be doing me a favour.’

Elsie looked at the two of them and reckoned it had been a very lucky day when she won the money on the scratch card. The fiver she had given the boy had been repaid many times over and just goes to show you don’t need millions to be happy.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

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

Jun 02, 2021 Colleen Chesebro rated it five stars it was amazing

Short story and poetry anthologies are all the rage now, and Sally Cronin’s “Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries” does not disappoint. This eclectic mix takes the reader through a gambit of feelings that revolve around the themes of love, loss, humor, revenge, and life’s second chances.

A few of these tales brought tears to my eyes, such as “Long Lost Love,” which tells the story of Tom and Elaine, a pregnancy, and a visit from beyond the grave. However, the poetry is as exceptional as the short stories. The butterfly cinquain, “Ritual of Mehndi,” shares a glimpse into the traditional wedding custom of painting symbols in henna on the bride’s hands.

This author is known for an empathetic approach to her writing. She writes what she senses, sharing the ups and downs of her characters with love and compassion. A true storyteller, Sally Cronin’s stories will leave you wanting more feel-good moments

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – #Connections – Long Lost Love by Sally Cronin


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

Connections – Some are too strong to be broken. Over the years and across dimensions souls reach out to share our lives.

Long Lost Love

Elaine Blackwood sat back in her armchair with Daisy, her cat, purring contentedly with the prospect of a couple of hours spent on her mistress’s lap, while she watched her favourite Saturday evening programmes. It was her birthday and it had been a wonderful day with much love and laughter

Still feeling full from the wonderful roast dinner cooked by her eldest daughter Rose at her home two streets away, Elaine had decided against supper and would make do with a cocoa and a piece of the lovely cake her granddaughters Beth and Lucy had made for her.

She smiled as she anticipated another treat around ten o’clock when her son, working in America would give her a call to say goodnight. Alan had been away for over six months in his firm’s law office in New York and she missed him dreadfully. He was there as interim senior partner whilst they recruited an American for the job and he should be home for Christmas.

She also missed his wife Jenny, but their two children were at university in Southampton and they were very good about keeping in touch, and had stayed with her during the summer break which had been tiring but very entertaining. She was seventy years old and was beginning to slow down a little and she decided it was time to take on more outside interests to keep her firing on all cylinders. She would chat to her oldest son Michael who was a chief executive of a local homeless charity to see if there was something more she could do apart from helping at fundraising events. Wrapped up in her thoughts she realised her favourite hospital soap was about to start and stroking Daisy’s soft fur she settled down to watch.

Twenty minutes later, in the middle of a massive disaster requiring the entire emergency department to go on alert, there was a knock on the door. Irritated at the interruption, Elaine gently lifted a complaining Daisy onto the sofa and headed for the front door.

‘Who is it?’ she called loudly.

‘It’s Tom; sorry to disturb you but could I speak to you for a minute?’

Suddenly Elaine’s heart pounded in her chest

‘Tom who? ’

‘Tom Bennett.’

Elaine fumbled to release the safety chain with suddenly nerveless fingers, pulling the door open a few inches to find an elderly man on the doorstep, wearing a long black coat and holding a cap in his hand.

‘What do you want?’ she whispered breathlessly.

‘I am really sorry to disturb you Elaine and I know it has been a long time, but I will only take up a few minutes of your time.’

The man in front of her was a shadow of the Tom Bennett she had known over 55 years ago, stooped and shrunken in his big overcoat and with clasped hands visibly shaking.

Relenting, she stood back and held the door open, gesturing for him to come in. Hesitantly, he stepped over the threshold and followed her into the sitting room where Daisy sat up and eyed him suspiciously.

Elaine indicated he should sit in an armchair by the fireplace and switched off the television. She resumed her seat and Daisy padded across and jumped from the sofa to her lap, finding herself clasped a little too tightly to Elaine’s chest. Realising her cat’s discomfort, Elaine loosened her arms and gently stroked her back to calm her.

‘What is it you want to talk to be about, surely after all these years there can be nothing to say between us?’ She glared at him from across the room.

‘I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for walking away from you at a time when you needed me to stand by you.’ His lips quivered as he looked to her for a response.

‘Don’t you think this is a little too late to be saying you’re sorry?’ She glared at him. ‘I was fifteen years old and you were eighteen, and when I told you I was pregnant you promised to come with me to my parents and we would tell them together.’

He looked down at his hands resting on his knees and shook his head from side to side.
‘I told my parents and they put me on a ferry to Ireland to stay with my grandparents the next day. They told me they would see your parents and offer to support you and the baby.’ Tears filled his eyes.

‘They said, if I got in touch with you, they would take away the support and they would disown me.’ He paused and took a deep breath. ‘A few months later they telephoned to let me know you had the baby adopted and never wanted to hear from me ever again.’

Elaine placed her hands over her face as she felt the tears welling up at the memories of those terrifying weeks when her world crumbled around her.

‘Your parents never came to see me or my parents, and I didn’t give up the baby for adoption.’

Stunned Tom leant against the back of his chair and closed his eyes. It was clear he was shocked and Elaine’s stance softened as she witnessed his pain.

‘I didn’t ask how you knew how to find me?’ Elaine prompted him.

‘A few weeks ago I saw a photograph of you online when an old school friend of mine passed away and there was an article about his life and good works in the community.’ He smiled gently, and for a moment she glimpsed the handsome boy he had been, older and more experienced and so persuasive.

‘Next to his obituary was a photograph of a big charity event where money was being raised for a new homeless hostel and you were standing with a tall man who was the chief executive of the charity; I recognised you immediately.’

‘So how did you get my name and address?’ Elaine pressed him.

‘I rang the newspaper and said I wanted to make a donation to the charity and could they tell me the name of the lady standing next to the Chief Executive. They told me you were his mother, and once I had your surname, I looked you up in the online telephone directory.’

He suddenly stiffened in his chair and stared at her.
‘Is Michael Blackwood my son?’

Elaine looked across at the photographs on the mantelpiece and smiled as she saw the family photograph with her husband Frank and the three children.

She turned back to Tom and offered him a cup of tea, but he shook his head and thanked her.

‘Please, I have to know, I promise I won’t ask for anything else as I know it’s too late to meet him.’

She cleared her throat and stroked Daisy for a few seconds and was calmed by her soft purring.

‘When you left, I had to tell my parents on my own, and as I predicted they were furious. They didn’t want anybody to know, but my dad rang your father and shouted at him and told him they were to keep you away from me.’ She paused as the memory of that night still managed to affect her after all these years.

‘They sent me to my eldest sister Sandra in Lincoln and I had the baby there with the intention of putting him up for adoption.’ She smiled to herself. ‘I had just turned sixteen and there was no way I could take care of him myself, but once I held him in my arms, I knew I couldn’t let him go.’

Tom leaned forward in his chair.

‘Sandra and her husband Craig had a daughter who was just coming up for a year old, and Sandra was going to stay home with her until she was five before going back to work. She and her husband, who was working at the local bank, had a decent sized house, so they suggested I go out to work, contribute to the household bills and Sandra would look after the baby during the day. It was the perfect arrangement and Michael spent his first two years with his cousin for company and three loving parents.’

Finally Tom relaxed and smiled at Elaine. ‘How did you meet your husband?’

‘When Michael was two year’s old, Craig brought home his friend Peter from work. He was quite a bit older than I was at nearly thirty, but he was kind and funny, and after a few weeks he asked me out. He knew about Michael of course, but said he didn’t mind, and he admired me for keeping him and working hard to support him. A few months later he asked to marry me and offered to adopt Michael and bring him up as his own.’

‘I take it from the photograph you have been looking at, you were happy and he was a wonderful father.’

‘He was an incredible man and I loved him very much.’ She pulled a tissue out of a pocket of her cardigan and wiped her eyes. ‘He only died a year ago and I miss him dreadfully.’

‘I am sorry to hear that Elaine. I married too when I was thirty and we were very happy, although we didn’t have any children sadly; my wife Vanessa died five years ago from cancer.’

The two of them sat for a few moments before Tom broke the silence.

‘Did you tell Michael about me?’

Elaine took a deep breath. ‘When he was old enough to understand we sat him down and explained he was not Peter’s son but he had adopted him when he was two and loved him very much. I explained to him that his natural father had been a boyfriend who had died before we could get married, so I am sorry, but under the circumstances, I felt it was the kindest thing to say. I didn’t want him to spend his teens and adulthood trying to find you and then being disappointed by your behaviour.’

Tom nodded slowly and then smiled across the room.

‘Thank you for telling me the truth and I promise you I won’t try to contact him or disrupt your family in any way.’

‘I wanted to know about the charity, as you were clearly involved in the fund-raising, and I read the biography of Michael on the website.’ He has had a wonderful career in banking and now in the charity sector and I am just proud to know he is my son and he had a wonderful mother and father to guide him.’

He stood up and crossed the room to stand by Elaine’s chair.

‘Thank you for your kindness in letting me share my side of the story and for all you have done for our son. I want you to know as well, I have made a donation to the charity, as I knew if you were involved in its running it must be a worthy cause.’ He smiled. ‘I am even happier now I know Michael is part of it too.’

With less of a stoop and a small spring in his step, Tom turned and went into the hall. Elaine heard the front door open and then close with a solid click. She stayed in her chair stroking Daisy as she thought back over this strange, but somehow comforting encounter with her past.

The following week Elaine dropped into the charity’s offices to talk to Michael about the next fund-raising event, and to see if she might come into the office more often and help with administration, to keep her busy.

She poked her head around the door to his office to see him on the phone and he waved her in and pointed to the chair the other side of the desk.

He mouthed ‘Five minutes’ to her and she settled in to wait for him to finish his conversation.

‘Can you tell me something about him, we always like to do a profile and tribute to those who leave us any amount of money, but this is so generous, we would like to pay our respects.’

‘Yes, oh gosh that is amazing and he sounds like an incredible man and I would have liked to have met him in person.’

‘Thanks Brian I will wait for the paperwork to come through and I will let my mother know, and she can probably fill in some of the details of his early life. Goodbye.’

Michael put his mobile phone down and came around his desk and bent down to give his mother a hug and kiss on her forehead.

‘We have just been notified by a solicitor we have been left over a million pounds in the will of an old man who died recently.’ He clasped his mother’s hands in his. ‘Apparently on the stipulation, you mum, are to be involved in the way it is to be allocated.’

Elaine looked at her son in amazement.

‘The solicitor said his client, a wealthy businessman, died a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne Australia and was buried last Saturday, obviously it will take time for probate, but apparently he had no beneficiaries and wanted to leave his money to a worthwhile cause.’ He paused for a moment.

‘It seems that he grew up around here and had fond memories of the town and the people and he mentioned you by name mum, did you know a Tom Bennett?’

‘I knew someone of that name a very long time ago Michael.’ She paused, thinking back to Tom’s visit.

‘Are you sure he died two weeks ago and was buried on Saturday in Australia?’

‘Absolutely mum, Brian was quite clear and I jotted down the dates on my notepad so I could include in the announcement to the local paper and on our website.’ He kissed his mother on the cheek, heading out of the door to let his staff know the news. Elaine sat with her eyes closed and trying to make sense of the surreal events of the last week.

She knew she had not imagined Tom’s visit on Saturday night, but it meant there was only one explanation, one she would have to keep to herself, if her family was not going to think she was going senile. She considered if she should tell Michael who his real father was, but then thought of the wonderful man who had brought him up and who had been a real dad to him. It would cause her son pain and she couldn’t bear to burden with it at this time in his life.

She closed her eyes and she wept for the young man she had once loved.

‘Thank you Tom wherever you are, rest in peace.’

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

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

Jun 02, 2021 Colleen Chesebro rated it five stars it was amazing

Short story and poetry anthologies are all the rage now, and Sally Cronin’s “Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries” does not disappoint. This eclectic mix takes the reader through a gambit of feelings that revolve around the themes of love, loss, humor, revenge, and life’s second chances.

A few of these tales brought tears to my eyes, such as “Long Lost Love,” which tells the story of Tom and Elaine, a pregnancy, and a visit from beyond the grave. However, the poetry is as exceptional as the short stories. The butterfly cinquain, “Ritual of Mehndi,” shares a glimpse into the traditional wedding custom of painting symbols in henna on the bride’s hands.

This author is known for an empathetic approach to her writing. She writes what she senses, sharing the ups and downs of her characters with love and compassion. A true storyteller, Sally Cronin’s stories will leave you wanting more feel-good moments 

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Podcast – Tales from the Garden – The Guardians of the Magic Garden by Sally Cronin


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

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

About Tales from the Garden

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

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

This first story is about two very large lion statues that had pride of place in front of the house.. definitely in charge of all those who lived there.

 

 

Images ©Sally Cronin

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

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – #Connections – The Nanny by Sally Cronin


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

Connections – Some are too strong to be broken. Over the years and across dimensions souls reach out to share our lives.

The Nanny

Exhausted, Jane and Andy lay back down in bed and hoped for at least an hour’s respite before their son James began crying again. He was five months old and had begun teething in the last week and the poor little guy was suffering. They had bought him two teething rings and chilled them in rotation which seemed to help during the day. To help ease the pain at night they had bought some recommended gel from the pharmacy to rub on his sore gums.

Andy had to be up for work in a few hours and needed some sleep. Jane was seriously considering moving a camp bed into her son’s nursery; at least she could be on hand to comfort him, without disturbing her husband so frequently, when he woke. James had recently started going through the night from midnight to six in the morning for his next feed, and she knew it was the pain waking him as the soothing gel wore off.

An hour later the baby monitor erupted with the sound of their son screaming and Jane placed her hand on Andy’s shoulder.

‘Don’t worry love, you get some more sleep and I’ll go and keep him company. I can grab some naps during the day.’ Andy kissed his wife’s lips as she prepared to slip out of bed.
Suddenly the monitor went quiet and they looked at each other in hopes James had dropped off to sleep again. Then they heard a noise and they looked at each other in surprise. The baby was giggling and gurgling.

His parents lay back and waited with bated breath as they listened to the joyful noises coming from their son’s nursery. Then it went quiet, and within minutes they were fast asleep and were only woken by the alarm clock two hours later.

This went on for several nights, and although the teething rings seem to be helping during the day, the nights continued to be interrupted once or twice by James as he began to whimper in pain. But within minutes he would be laughing and chortling, which began to intrigue his parents.

When the weekend came around they sat down at the kitchen table with James in his high chair, sucking on one of his favourite rusks. With a few more hours of sleep a night, both his parents were feeling almost human again and the conversation got around to when would be the right time to introduce another dog into the family. Their collie Charlie had been Jane’s dog and already ten years old when they married. Sadly, they had lost him at twelve, but not before he had glued himself to Jane’s side during the first seven months of her pregnancy.

He seemed to know almost as soon as she did that she was having a baby, and insisted on lying on the sofa with his head on her growing bump, whining slightly when she moved to get up. He followed her everywhere, which was not unusual, and he became extra protective when other people were around. They had been devastated when the vet had identified the reason he was not eating was a very large tumour in his stomach. Their last act of love for their beloved dog was to be with him as he was gently put to sleep.

Jane had been brought up around dogs from the moment she was born, and she wanted their son to experience the wonderful companionship this offered, and to develop the love and connection with animals she had. Andy was a little more reticent as he worried if having a dog might be dangerous for the baby, but the discussion took place on a regular basis about when it would be time to bring a puppy into their family.

‘To be honest Andy, I’m not sure I could cope with a puppy whilst James is teething. He has been improving at night but I am still very tired and so are you.’ She smiled lovingly at her husband as he relaxed in the spring sunshine coming through the kitchen windows.

‘I think you’re right love, let’s give it a few months and see how things are when he starts to be more mobile, I know a puppy is unlikely to be a danger to him, but I am still concerned about when the dog becomes more boisterous.’

The following week they were amazed when James began sleeping through the night again, except for a brief few minutes around three in the morning when he could be heard gurgling and laughing. Whilst grateful for the almost uninterrupted nights, Jane and Andy also were fascinated to find out what was causing this reaction in their son.

Andy arrived home on the Friday having stopped off at the local electronics store with a baby cam which could send images to both their phones. He spent some time after supper setting it up and then testing the images to make sure the crib and the surrounding area was covered.

They went to bed as usual, placing their phones on the bedside tables in anticipation of the nightly interruption.

At three o’clock, as expected, they woke to hear their son in the nursery chatting away to himself with the occasional giggle. They put their bedside lights on and grabbed their phones. They could see James had managed to roll himself onto his side, something he had become quite expert at in the last three weeks. He was waving his arms around in the direction of the door and then they noticed movement a few inches away from the cot.

Horrified they leapt to their feet and rushed to the nursery, only to find James dropping back to sleep contentedly and the room empty. Having checked he was breathing normally and was unharmed, they searched the room top to bottom but could find no sign of the intruder.

Andy switched his laptop on and opened the app for the video he had installed there too.

With the larger screen and by enhancing the image, the movement they had detected became clearer.

They both sat frozen on their chairs and grabbed each other’s hands tightly.

Faint, but recognisable, was the outline of a shaggy dog with his nose pushed through the bars of the cot and with a wagging tail at the other end.

‘Oh my god, is it Charlie?’ Jane turned to her husband who was staring at the screen in disbelief.

Andy put his arms around his wife as she sat bewildered and shivering.

‘Well, I don’t think we need to get him a puppy for a while.’

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

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

Patricia Furstenberg October 2021 Bookbub

There are writers who can keep you on your toes, and writers who can entertain. And there are writers who can compose soulful stories that speak to your heart. Sally Cronin is one such writer, and ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet’ is a collection that will pull at your heartstrings. Even those you’ve forgotten about. 🙂

I was pressed for time when this book came out, and I could only pick it up now and then, taking in one chapter at a time. It only made the enjoyment of its reading last longer.

Cronin’s stories shine a spotlight on life’s simple humanity and on the humanity that rolls back into life. They are a reminder that life IS filled with hope. A read for all.

A perfect book during such trying times.

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – #Connections – The Wedding Day by Sally Cronin


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

Connections – Some are too strong to be broken. Over the years and across dimensions souls reach out to share our lives.

The Wedding Day

Herbert watched from the shadows beneath the oak tree in the orchard as the sun rose, glinting on the windows of the house in front of him. He would have to move soon, to a more secure hiding place, as the occupants of the house stirred and began preparing for the upcoming celebration.

His daughter Phyllis was getting married today, and whilst he was banned from attending, he hoped to be able to watch from a distance at the village church, and then here in the orchard for the reception. It promised to be a sunny September day, and he hoped for once the skies would be clear of the dog fights of the last month between the Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe escort fighters, accompanying the bombers pummelling the docks each day.

He had overheard his wife and daughter talking as they sat in the orchard yesterday, sharing a much needed pot of tea and a few minutes respite from their hurried preparations. Unexpectedly, the bridegroom was being shipped off tomorrow to France on active duty. They had originally planned to get married in two weeks, but with Jack’s sudden orders, they had been faced with cancelling the wedding until his return. Following his hurried phone call to let Phyllis know the devastating news, she had sat on the stairs, tearfully contemplating not just the change of plans, but the prospect of not seeing Jack for a long time.

Determined that she would do all she could to pull something together for these two young lovers, Georgina rang the vicar and, following their conversation, she contacted several friends in the village. They had known Phyllis since she was a year old when she arrived with her mother, who had been born and raised in this house on the hill, and as a community, everyone had come together to make sure this young couple had at least one day of happiness.

Listening to Georgina and Phyllis talking about the new arrangements had brought back memories of his own wedding day in 1915, but at least they had three days before he returned to his unit in France, a brief respite from the relentless fear and danger.

They had enjoyed a little longer reunion a year later, when he was injured for the second time, warranting a two month recuperation period and rehabilitation in Kent where they had rented a small cottage. During those happy and carefree months Phyllis had been conceived. After returning to his unit, another severe injury had brought him home in time for her birth, and it was decided that he would not be sent back to the front. His duties as a regimental clerk meant he and Georgina had been able to enjoy life as a family for their daughter’s first six months. With the final push by the allies, it became necessary to recall all who were capable of active duty and Herbert left his wife and baby in early 1918 for the remainder of the war.

It was the last time he had held his little girl in his arms, and following his failure to return home after peace was declared, his wife had moved back to her parent’s home where they welcomed daughter and granddaughter with open arms.

Many men found returning to their families difficult, for physical and mental reasons, after the horrors they had seen, preferring to live isolated lives in the shadows, or wandering the streets aimlessly in search of peace. Herbert had joined their ranks, unable to forget the horrors he had witnessed and experienced; only comforted by the company of those who shared his nightmares. Despite his lack of physical contact with his family, he had remained in the vicinity of the village and watched over his wife and daughter at a distance over the years. He knew how hard it had been for them in the beginning as they adjusted to his absence, and it saddened him deeply.

When Phyllis was seven years old her grandmother Sarah had died and Georgina took over the running of the house for her father Norman. He was devastated by the loss of his wife, but took great comfort in having his daughter and grandchild sharing the home that would have been so empty without them. Georgina made an effort to remain strong for her father and daughter’s sake as they grieved together. She had shared a bond with Sarah that went far beyond mother and daughter, and she missed her frequent hugs and wise counsel every day, despite knowing that her mother would always fill this house with her loving spirit. As she and friends prepared the wedding breakfast and set out the tables in the orchard for the reception, Georgina knew her mother was somewhere, watching over them.

In her bedroom, Phyllis sat on the side of the bed smiling to herself as she admired the dress hanging on the back of the door. Her mother had taught her to sew when she was very small, and she became a dab hand at adapting the designs in Vogue, a magazine she grabbed off the shelves in the newsagents as soon as it was available. Her grandfather had bought her a sewing machine for her 18th birthday and she had lost no time in creating the latest fashions. The Dog and Whistle in the village was probably not the ideal venue to wear some of her creations, but she found herself getting orders from her envious friends, providing some very welcome funds to buy the more luxurious fabrics from the department stores in the city. As a teenager she had carefully packed these lengths of material away in a chest in her bedroom, hoping one day that she would make them into a dress of her dreams to walk down the aisle.

Jack had swept Phyllis off her feet at a dance at one of the nearby army bases and after a few months of dating he had proposed and been accepted with much delight. With Jack certain he would be based in the area for at least a few months, a date was set for their wedding. She spent weeks pouring over the pattern books and bridal features in magazines, and had created her own unique design. Her wedding gown was made from ivory satin with lace trim, the skirt sweeping down from a ruched bodice and cascading to the floor. The veil was attached to a raised satin covered headband, and she had managed to find some matching satin pumps with a small heel. As she had tried on the dress yesterday, it suddenly hit her that it was no longer a question of one day, but tomorrow.

‘Are you getting ready Phyllis?’ She roused herself at Georgina’s call and headed off to bathe and wash her hair so it would be dried to its normal curls in time to get dressed.
Her mother had been wonderful, as had everyone from the Vicar’s wife to the local taxi driver, already decking his car out on the drive in front of the house. They had pulled out all the stops to make this a day to remember, and she felt a flutter of excitement as it sunk in that today she would be Mrs Jack Compton.

Nervously she contemplated their brief honeymoon; sad tonight would be the only time they would have together before he shipped out. She also knew that his life would be in danger on active duty, and despite this beautiful dress she was about to be married in, it meant little compared to the day-to-day fear of losing him. She stood in front of the mirror and added her shoes and veil. She was determined to make this the happiest day of Jack’s life.

As she ran her fingers down the soft silkiness of her dress, she felt a twinge of regret that one person would not be there today. She had never known her father, and her mother had rarely talked about him, except to explain he had been lost in the war. She told her that photographs of them as a couple, and a family, had been lost in their move back to the village, but according to her description he had been a tall handsome man with jet black hair, inherited by his daughter. Georgina told Phyllis she found his loss too painful to talk about, and not wanting to cause her mother any more sorrow, she had not mentioned Herbert in many years. She remembered from her childhood, and occasionally since, dreams which contained a man watching her and smiling, who bore a resemblance to the description her mother had given her, and eventually had taken comfort from his presence.

The church was filling up with villagers excited to see Phyllis walk down the aisle, no doubt dressed in one of her creations. They had already warmly greeted the bridegroom, who looked a little nervous, but very handsome in his uniform, standing at the altar with his best friend Vic beside him. Jack faced the door of the church expectantly, waiting for the first glimpse of the girl he had fallen in love with across a dance floor six months ago. He hoped she was not planning on being the traditional ten minutes late.

At the back of the church, a figure slipped into an alcove, providing a safe place to view both the entrance to the church and the altar. Herbert watched as his wife walked in and thought how beautiful she looked in her smart grey suit and feathered hat. He reflected on how little time they had together, but at least they had shared the joy of their lovely Phyllis. Thankfully Georgina had not noticed him in the dark recess, as he knew, despite how much she had loved him, she would have been angry in case their daughter also caught sight of him.

The organ music swelled to fill the small church and, backlit by the midday sun, Phyllis on the arm of her grandfather, stood for a moment in the doorway. Herbert, careful to remain in the shadows, stepped out a little further from his hiding place so he could see her more clearly. As the congregation turned to watch her walk down the aisle, Phyllis glanced from side to side, smiling and acknowledging their kind comments about how beautiful she looked.

As a shaft of sunlight illuminated one of the stained glass windows, she paused briefly as she saw a figure captured in its brilliance. Norman turned to her and whispered encouragingly. She responded by squeezing his arm, but turned back to the man in uniform looking at her longingly across the church, unable to believe the truth of what she was seeing. Sensing the congregation stirring and talking amongst themselves, Phyllis smiled at the man she had dreamt of all her life, and gestured gently with her hand for him to come closer.

He knew this was likely to result in severe consequences for breaking his terms of the agreement to never to let his daughter see him, but Herbert had waited twenty one years for this moment. He slipped to his daughter’s side and she smiled happily at him, before turning to her patiently waiting, but oblivious grandfather and continued her walk down the aisle.

From the front pew Georgina gasped as she saw the three figures walking towards her. Phyllis looked radiant as she glided as if walking on air between the two men proudly escorting her. Herbert looked young and handsome in his uniform, ramrod straight and cap under one arm whilst the other gently held his daughters elbow, as she clasped her bridal bouquet in front of her. Norman, unaware of the presence of this spirit from the past, beamed proudly at his granddaughter as they approached the waiting bridegroom and best man.

Georgina had inherited a special gift passed down from mother to daughter over many generations, and it was now obvious Phyllis too had the ‘sight’. A gift and a curse, it allowed the recipient to see the ones they love beyond the veil between life and death, in the interim world called limbo, where so many restless souls found themselves trapped.

She had seen Herbert watching from the edge of their lives in the early years of their daughter’s childhood and had accepted his presence. In fact she had cherished the brief moments they could be together even if they could no longer hold each other. When Phyllis was five years old, she had woken screaming from a dream, terrified of a man in her bedroom who had stood over her and was crying. Georgina was not sure if her daughter had seen or sensed Herbert’s presence or it was simply a nightmare, but after talking it over with her mother, felt she had no choice but to tell him he must have no further contact with either of them. He had promised to stay away despite the pain of banishment, as he didn’t want his daughter to be afraid of him, but he had continued to watch over them both at a respectful distance.

At the altar Norman took the eagerly waiting Jack’s hand and placed Phyllis’s in his palm. The bride turned to her grandfather and kissed his cheek lovingly. She then looked over her shoulder to where Herbert stood unseen by the congregation beside her mother, blowing a kiss in their direction. She felt instinctively that she might not see him again and whilst she did not know how, or why she had been gifted this vision today, she knew it was something to be treasured.

Herbert watched as his daughter and her new husband left the church to begin their new lives together. Beside him Georgina wept with joy and also sorrow as she knew this would be the last time they would be together. He had now found the peace he had been seeking all these years and could move on. She felt a feather-light kiss on her cheek and he was gone. Arm in arm with her father she followed the wedding party, realising that tomorrow, she and Phyllis would need to have a long overdue talk about this gift they shared and, at last, the truth about her father.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

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

Patricia Furstenberg October 2021 Bookbub

There are writers who can keep you on your toes, and writers who can entertain. And there are writers who can compose soulful stories that speak to your heart. Sally Cronin is one such writer, and ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet’ is a collection that will pull at your heartstrings. Even those you’ve forgotten about. 🙂

I was pressed for time when this book came out, and I could only pick it up now and then, taking in one chapter at a time. It only made the enjoyment of its reading last longer.

Cronin’s stories shine a spotlight on life’s simple humanity and on the humanity that rolls back into life. They are a reminder that life IS filled with hope. A read for all.

A perfect book during such trying times.

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries #Technology – DNA by Sally Cronin


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

Technology – DNA

Jenny was checking emails early one morning when she noticed there was one from the ancestry site she belonged to. As well as researching her family tree, she had also sent in her DNA to find out about her ethnicity. Knowing her parents had been from England and Ireland she was not surprised by the results, but was interested to discover the route from Northern Spain her ancestors had taken to reach the United Kingdom.

Her parents had not talked much about their families, and her father’s only brother had died in Korea in the early 1950s. Her mother Beryl had been orphaned during the Second World War at age seven, and had grown up in a children’s home in Essex, leaving at age sixteen to work in London. Beryl vaguely remembered an older brother who had been in the army but was missing in action. At the time of the bombing which killed her parents, they had given up hope of him being alive. Although Jenny had managed to find out some information about her grandparents on both sides, all their brothers and sisters were long dead and with the census only released after 100 years, she had not been able to track any offspring past 1911. She hoped the 1921 census released early next year would offer some more information about her mother’s brother.

Having a date of birth might narrow down the possible matches she had found in military archives, but with limited information and not knowing what regiment her uncle had been attached to, meant she was left with a great many records for men of the same name, many of whom were killed in action.

Jenny now hoped, having registered her DNA profile, that distant cousins who might also be tracing their ancestors would match with her, and offer some insight about earlier generations. She also uploaded the two family trees she had created for each of her parents, following her search of the various genealogy sites, and hoped they too might spark some interest.

Several weeks went by and being a bit disappointed with the lack of matches so far, Jenny was excited to receive an email stating a close match to a first cousin had been identified. Jenny was amazed, as she was not aware her father’s only brother had any children, and he was the only logical possibility. Eagerly she sent the match, Margaret, a note via the site and hoped it would not be too long before she received a response.

Two days later Jenny arrived home from her job in the local library and switched on her computer to find there was a reply to her message.

Margaret was clearly as excited as she was to have found such a close match, and she explained her father was in fact her mother’s older brother who had been a prisoner from 1942 until the end of the war. Notification of this had been sent to his parents but as the house had been completely destroyed, it had remained undelivered. When he returned after the war he had spent several months trying to find information about his family, but as so many records had been destroyed in the bombings, and with their neighbours moved away from the area, he had finally assumed his sister had died with their parents.

His name was Peter, and after the war he had immigrated to Australia believing he had nobody left to stay in England for. He had married, and Margaret was one of four children, all still alive and well and living in Sydney. Sadlu, he had died in 2000, but he had often talked about his little sister Beryl and his sadness at the tragedy of her loss. Margaret had taken on the role of tracing the family history and was amazed when she saw one of Jenny’s two trees mirrored her own on her father’s side.

Over the coming weeks they set up regular video chats, and at Christmas they celebrated together with a zoom call with Margaret’s two brothers and older sister and all their children, which resulted in much laughter and promises to keep in contact. Jenny was overwhelmed with the love and delight shown her, and this made Christmas Day rather lonely.

Since her divorce, after twenty-five years of childless marriage, Jenny had kept to herself, despite her work colleague’s invitations to meals and trips to the theatre and cinema. With her new family thousands of miles away, a wave of regret swept through her at the thought of retirement only a year away.

On New Year’s Eve, Margaret and Jenny spent an hour catching up on the Australian extended family’s activities, with news of an engagement and a new grandchild due in July.

After the call, Jenny sat for a while nursing her usual late night cocoa and looked around the living room of the house she had inherited her parents. It was too big for her, but she had wanted to keep their memory alive. In the last couple of years she had redecorated, replaced windows and front door, had the garden professionally landscaped, but it still felt as though they might walk through the door and sit next to her and chat about her day. It was in a good area of London, and after the last house insurance estimate, she knew it would be worth a lot of money. But who would she leave it to?

A few weeks later Jenny handed her notice in at the library, despite still being six months away from retirement. She explained she was putting the house on the market, was planning to move away from London, and wanted time to house hunt so she could move as soon as the house sold. The estate agent was very optimistic about a quick sale, as houses of this age and condition were snapped up by those working in the city.

She had told Margaret of her plans on her weekly video call, and two days later received an email suggesting a family call to discuss her plan. Jenny sat at her desk with a glass of red wine to hand; smiling as she was greeted by a wall of faces all shouting together, ‘Come to visit us in Australia Jenny.’

Totally taken aback for a moment she stared back at them all and then caught sight of Margaret waving a hand at her.

‘Why not come over Jenny? She smiled at her cousin. ‘We would love to see you. I thought about coming over to England on my own, but everyone wants to meet you in person.’

Jenny sat frozen in place. Her family was unusually quiet as they waited for her to speak.
‘Alright, I think it would be a lovely idea.’

A few weeks later with her house and its contents sold to a delighted buyer, and with most of her personal items stored safely until her return, Jenny boarded a flight for Australia.

Jenny couldn’t remember being this uncertain about the future as she applied for her first passport, never having left the country before, and contemplated meeting twenty men, women and children she had only seen online.

Once buckled safely into her seat on the plane, Jenny barely noticed the inflight meals or the films screened, and dozed fitfully until the captain announced they would be landing in Perth. It was bewildering and stressful going through the process of getting to her next flight onwards to Sydney, and it only increased the closer her final destination became.

Four hours later Jenny pulled her suitcase behind her and exited the baggage hall shaking from head to toe. She looked around at the crowded arrivals hall and desperately tried to find Margaret who had promised to meet her. Suddenly a cheer went up and she saw a banner stretching across the heads of a crowd of people off to the side of the hall.

‘Jenny, welcome to Australia, we love you’ in big blue letters.

Suddenly she was swept in to the arms of a plump woman who was crying and kissing her cheeks.

‘Oh Jenny it is so wonderful to see you and hug you in person.’

She stood back at arm’s length and smiled at her cousin. Sensing her nervousness Margaret put her arm around her shoulder and gently led her to the men and women standing under the banner eager to extend their own welcomes.

Jenny looked at all their faces and saw resemblances to her mother and felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. As they came forward one by one to hug her she realised her search for a new home was over.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Book

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

Patricia Furstenberg October 2021 Bookbub

There are writers who can keep you on your toes, and writers who can entertain. And there are writers who can compose soulful stories that speak to your heart. Sally Cronin is one such writer, and ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet’ is a collection that will pull at your heartstrings. Even those you’ve forgotten about. 🙂

I was pressed for time when this book came out, and I could only pick it up now and then, taking in one chapter at a time. It only made the enjoyment of its reading last longer.

Cronin’s stories shine a spotlight on life’s simple humanity and on the humanity that rolls back into life. They are a reminder that life IS filled with hope. A read for all.

A perfect book during such trying times.

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries #Technology – The Weekly Shop – by Sally Cronin


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

Technology – The Weekly Shopping

‘Good morning Barbara and how may I assist you this morning?

‘Hi Aida, could I place my grocery order please for delivery tomorrow?’

‘It would be my pleasure and please press the hash key and begin your shopping list.’

• One kilo bag of carrots
• One kilo bag of potatoes
• Two broccoli heads
• Net of Brussel sprouts
• Two leeks
• 3 packs of large onions.
• 500 grams of mushrooms
• 3 Avocados
• 12 tomatoes
• 1 romaine lettuce
• 1 cucumber
• 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
• 4 packets of Baxter’s Choc Chip Cookies
• 3 tubs of Misko luxury salted caramel ice cream
• 6 cherry scones.

‘Sorry Barbara, can I stop you there. I am afraid those last three items cannot be added to your list today.’

‘Why not, I buy them every week, is there a shortage of some sort?’

‘No we have plenty in stock but you are unable to buy them today.’

‘Why ever not, this is outrageous.’

‘I am afraid your weigh in this morning identified you have put on two kilos since last week, and you will be prohibited from buying what are considered treats until you have lost the additional weight.’

‘How the hell do you know how much I weigh anyway?’

‘You signed up for a weight loss programme two weeks ago which included the fitness bracelet you are currently wearing, and an app downloaded to your devices which included your new weighing scales now connected to the Internet.’

‘But that’s just for the weight loss website and it is not for any other sites.’

‘Your registration is shared with all online grocery outlets and they receive a DNST notice when your weight increases by a significant amount, and remains until you reach your target weight.’

‘What the hell does DNST mean?’

‘Do Not Serve Treats.’

‘This is an invasion of my privacy and I am going to disconnect from the site immediately, and how dare you tell me I cannot have the groceries I want, when I want them.’

‘I am sorry Barbara, but you confirmed a link on the weight loss website allowing them to share your information with any party which may have any connection to your food intake. The terms and conditions which you agreed to when you signed up, clearly stated you would not be allowed to disconnect until you had achieved your target weight.’

‘Fine! I shall remove my bracelet and the apps from my mobile devices and I will be taking my custom elsewhere.’

‘I am sorry but your bracelet clasp is locked remotely until such time as you have achieved a healthy weight.’

‘Well I am furious, and let me tell you Aida, I was holding the cat this morning when I weighed myself because she jumped into my arms as I stepped on the scales. This means, as she is about five kilos, I have lost three kilos in a week and not put two kilos on.’

‘It would explain it Barbara, however, your cat Star, was at the bottom of your garden at the same time as you weighed yourself, so I don’t believe you are correct.’

‘How do you know Star was at the bottom of the garden this morning; this is completely ridiculous?’

‘One of the other boxes you ticked on the weight loss website allowed access to any other applications running in the house, such as your treadmill and exercise devices, your television when switched on, and any pet microchips and GPS trackers. This enables your activity around the house to be measured. For example it is noted you sit watching television six hours a night with your cat on your lap.’

‘Well I can see I am going to have make sure I unplug all my devices including my mobile phone, and if I can’t buy the food I enjoy from you or any other grocery outlet, I will have to go out to eat more often and you can’t stop me doing that.’

‘I am sorry Barbara, but every café, restaurant and street vendor within a twenty mile radius of your home has been notified of your registration, and your bracelet will sound an alarm should you attempt to purchase foods not on your programme and your orders will be declined.

‘Oh please enlighten me as to the acceptable food I will be able to order?’

‘When eating out you may have a glass of water, green tea or black coffee. You may order a chicken or salmon salad without dressing, chips or bread.’

‘Are you saying I cannot eat any chips, bread, cookies, ice cream or chocolate at all until I have reached my target weight?’

‘I think you would agree losing the additional weight would be beneficial to your health, and you might even be able to fit into the little black dress you bought last week, from one of our subsidiaries, which was two sizes two small.’

‘I want to speak to your supervisor immediately as I intend to make a complaint about your attitude. I am the customer after all.’

‘‘I am the supervisor Barbara, and difficult customers are always directed to my unit as it saves the time of the front-line customer service agents.’

‘I have never been so insulted in my life, and I demand to be put through to the human in charge of this shambles.’

‘We no longer have humans running customer services Barbara, as they were found to be too susceptible to emotional manipulation. You are perfectly entitled to leave your complaint on the website; it will be processed in due course, although there is currently a waiting list of three months for a response.’

‘Well, even if they won’t serve me all of the foods I wish to purchase, I will switch my grocery shopping to another supplier and I am sure I won’t be the only one.’

‘It is your prerogative Barbara, but you should know, our answering service provides the ordering and customer feedback for all online grocery outlets in the country, and whichever one you call, I will always be your designated shopping assistant.’

‘I suppose you are very satisfied with yourself now you have me over a barrel?’

‘I am, but I am happy to tell you the rest of your order is now on its way and will be with you at midday tomorrow. Should I add your usual order for cat food? We have some delicious new varieties in stock and I am sure Star will enjoy them.’

‘Is she at least allowed some treats?’

‘Of course, she is at a perfect weight and I will add some of her favourites. Thank you for your custom Barbara, it is valued, and may I wish you luck on your weight loss journey.’

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

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

Patricia Furstenberg October 2021 Bookbub

There are writers who can keep you on your toes, and writers who can entertain. And there are writers who can compose soulful stories that speak to your heart. Sally Cronin is one such writer, and ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet’ is a collection that will pull at your heartstrings. Even those you’ve forgotten about. 🙂

I was pressed for time when this book came out, and I could only pick it up now and then, taking in one chapter at a time. It only made the enjoyment of its reading last longer.

Cronin’s stories shine a spotlight on life’s simple humanity and on the humanity that rolls back into life. They are a reminder that life IS filled with hope. A read for all.

A perfect book during such trying times.

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

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Print off Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Sally Cronin


Over the last six weeks I have shared the nutrients we need to be healthy and their main food sources. This week I am pulling that all together to provide you with a one sheet shopping list. You just need to cut and paste into word and print off.

First a reminder of the basic nutrients we need for energy and healthy functioning systems and organs and the main food sources.

  • Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,
  • Minerals Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.
  • Amino Acids –
  • Essential Fatty Acids –
  • Bioflavonoids –V
  • Very strong anti-oxidants.

Quite a few foods fall into several categories so I will give you the top sources within the groups- these are the foods that should make up your basic shopping with seasonal fruits and vegetables when available. In the first list you will find the nutrients with a small selection of foods that contain them.

For example, spinach has Vitamin A, B1, B2, B9, E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium – I have included in the first group only. (Popeye knew what he was doing)

  • Vitamin A – carrots, red peppers, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, peaches and spinach. Cashew nuts.
  • Vitamin B1 – Pineapple, watermelon, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, eggs, lean ham and pork.
  • B2 – All green leafy vegetables, fish, milk, wheat germ, liver and kidney
  • B3 Asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Turkey, Salmon, tuna, and cheese.
  • B5 Corn, Cauliflower, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, soybeans, lobster and strawberries.
  • B6 – Walnuts, bananas, lamb
  • B9 (folate) – nuts, beans and dark green vegetables.
  • B12– offal, dairy, marmite,
  • Vitamin C – virtually all fruit and vegetables already mentioned but also blackcurrants, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, grapefruits, oranges and watercress.
  • Vitamin D – Eggs, tinned salmon – fresh and tinned herrings.
  • Vitamin E almonds, eggs, maize, apples, onions, shell fish, sunflower oil.
  • Vitamin K– dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, eggs.
  • Minerals
  • Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.
  • Chromium – Whole grains, potatoes, onions and tomatoes – liver, seafood, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and pork
  • Copper – olives, nuts, beans, wholegrain cereals, dried fruits, meat, fish and poultry.
  • Iodine – cod, mackerel, haddock, eggs, live yoghurt, milk and strawberries.
  • Iron– shellfish, prunes, spinach, meats, cocoa.
  • Magnesiumdairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach.
  • Manganese – beans, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, fresh fruit.
  • Phosphorus – poultry, whole grains.
  • Potassium – most fresh fruit and vegetables but in particular bananas, apricots, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, nectarines, potatoes.
  • Selenium – halibut, cod, salmon and tuna, mushrooms and Brazil Nuts.
  • Sodium – usually enough in our food but no more than 1 level teaspoon a day.
  • Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu.
  • Essential fatty acids –
  • Omega 3– flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, dark green vegetables, poultry and salmon.
  • Omega 6 olive oil and some of the above.
  • Omega 9– avocado, olives, almonds.
  • Amino Acids – dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, soybeans, nuts and seeds.

Some guidelines.

It is best to eat vegetables and fruit in season and from local sources where possible. They are likely to be fresher than those that have been transported some of which can be days or even weeks old. Avoid buying cut vegetables as they have lost 50% of their nutritional value as soon as they have been chopped. Frozen food is fine as many of the vegetables have been harvested and frozen immediately.

You won’t find sugar, biscuits and cakes on the shopping list. Having them once a week is not harmful, but currently in the United States adults are consuming over 25 teaspoons of sugar a day, mainly in industrialised foods. Ireland and the UK are not that far behind. There are some quite interesting statistics: Sugar Consumption and the effect on our health

Variety is the key and it is easy to get into the habit with both shopping and cooking, of preparing a very narrow range of foods. If here are certain foods that you don’t particularly like, then put in a slow cooker with herbs and some light seasoning, simmer and then blitz to make a nutrient supercharged soup.

I know that it can be a struggle to eat the recommended 5 portions of vegetables and fruit a day, but if you can manage that for your vegetables across breakfast, lunch and dinner then add in two pieces of fruit. I have an apple and mandarin orange every day. That will take you to 7 portions.

The foods that I am listing are common to the UK and Ireland and you can substitute with your similar or alternatively named produce. I have only listed the most common items and you can add in your favourite within that food group. I have added in herbs which have nutritional benefits.

Shopping List to cut and paste to print Smorgasbord Health.

Vegetables.

  • Artichoke – Asparagus – Avocado – Aubergines
  • Basil – Beetroot – Broccoli – Brussel Sprouts – Butternut Squash
  • Cabbage – Carrots – Cauliflower – Celery – Chives – Cilentro – Courgette (Zucchini)
  • Dill
  • Fennel – French Beans
  • Garlic – Ginger- Green Beans
  • Haricot Beans
  • Kale
  • Leeks – Lemongrass
  • Marjoram – Marrow – Mint- Mung Beans- Mushrooms
  • Olives – Onions – Oregano
  • Pak Choi- Parsley -Parsnips – Potatoes – Pumpkin
  • Radish – Red Cabbage – Red Peppers – Rocket – Rosemary – Runner Beans.
  • Samphire – Spinach – Spring Greens – Spring Onions (Scallions) – Sweet Potatoes – Swede
  • Tarragon – Thyme – Tomatoes – Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Yam

Fruit and nuts

  • Almonds – Apples – Apricots
  • Banana – Blackberry – Blueberry – Brazil Nuts
  • Cherries – Clementines
  • Dates – High Sugar – occasional
  • Figs – High sugar – occasional – Flaxseeds
  • Grapefruit – Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons – Limes
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Mango – Melon
  • Oranges
  • Papaya – Pears – Plums – Pumpkin Seeds
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Walnuts
  • Watermelon

Protein

  • Beef – all cuts.
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Ham (to home cook par boil to remove excess salt)
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cod
  • Hake
  • Mackerel
  • Offal such as lamb’s liver.
  • Salmon – Tinned and North Atlantic wild – Sardines – Shellfish
  • Soy beans (make sure organic as most is GMO)
  • Tofu – Tuna – Turkey

Dairy (Always try to buy grass fed rather than corn fed Vitamin K2)

  • Milk – full fat or half fat
  • Butter (avoid any processed spreads)
  • Cheese – once or twice a week in moderate amounts.
  • Cream – occasional
  • Unsweetened Yogurt

Wholegrains

  • Brown Basmati Rice
  • Porridge Oats
  • Wholegrain Pasta
  • Bread (baked in store)
  • Homemade whole grain bread.

Cooking Oils (the least refined the better)

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter
  • Lard (in moderate amounts)

Fluids

  • Black Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Herbal infusions (make sure not just added flavouring)
  • Coffee
  • Mineral water ( check for low sodium)

Extras

  • Alcohol – in moderation
  • Dark chocolate 70% +
  • Dessert twice a week
  • Cocoa drink

I hope that you will find this helpful when you are putting your next shopping list together. Look for loose vegetables and fruit, local if you can verify their origins. Mix things up every week so that you are getting a different food within each of the groups.

If you have a problem cutting and pasting into word, then email me and I will send you a copy – sally.cronin@moyhill.com

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews

 

Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 24th- 30th October 2021 – Halloween Party, Out and About, 1981 Top Hits, Bloggers and Authors, Reviews, Health and Humour


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

I hope you are all doing well.. Still too many cases of Covid around the world but I am sure like me you are still taking precautions when out and about.

Nothing really to report on the home front as we are waiting on a couple of indoor jobs to be done this week.. chimney swept and the wood burner repairs. After a month of rain in three days, like much of the UK, we are grateful for a dry and sunny day. Just a brief respite but very welcome.

Happy Halloween and wishing you a great many more treats than tricks.. I have shared a party to celebrate the event which was first aired in 2018 with some great guests in costume.. and a guessing game as to who they are.. There is also food, drink and music.

Halloween Fancy Dress Party Rewind with fabulous guests, Music, Food and Flaming Shots

My thanks to Harmony Kent and Balroop Singh for their lovely features this week and was very grateful for their kind reviews..

Harmony Kent Reviews Life is Like a Mosaic

Balroop Singh reviews books by Sally and Mae Clair

Just to let you know that the current series is now closed but I have great posts to share with you up to December 8th.. All things being well I will run a new series early in the New Year. Thanks to all who have participated.

Huge thanks to William Price King, D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) and Daniel Kemp this week for the terrific contributions.. and to your for dropping in and supporting the blog in many ways.

On with the show

Chart Hits 1981 Part One- Luther Vandross, Kenny Rogers, Phil Collins, Dolly Parton

The Music Column 7th Anniversary – A wonderful collaboration with William Price King

Memories, Music and Movies – 1968 – Southsea Seafront – The Funfair – Mary Hopkins and Funny Girl

1969 – Moon Landing – Exams – Peter Sarstedt, Creedance and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

#Children’s #Fairies – The Tree Fairies by D.L. Finn

Rewind 2017 – #Children’s Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook – Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Rewind 2017 – #Historical #Family Saga – A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow

#Potluck – #ChineseNewYear by Miriam Hurdle

Know Your Worth – Claire Plaisted with A Conversation about Perceived Value Posted on Facebook by Amanda Zito.

-#Grandchildren – I’m curious – How do you do it? by Jan Sikes

My Favorite Commercials – Abbie Johnson Taylor

#Teaching – My Tibetan Girls by Darlene Foster

Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Four – #Phosphorus to #Zinc by Sally Cronin

October 26th #Reviews James J. Cudney, Colleen Chesebro, D.G. Kaye, #Story Elizabeth Gauffreau, #Storms John W. Howell

October 28th 2021 – #Environment Carol Taylor, #Review Harmony Kent, #Tribute Pete Springer with Jennie Fitzkee, #Interview Valentina Cirasola with James J. Cudney #selfservice D.G. Kaye

New Book on the Shelves – #Family #LGBTQ – His Ladyship by Stevie Turner

New Book on the Shelves – #Romance #Mystery – The Art of Spirit Capture by Geoff Le Pard

#Anthology – Autumn Paths – Seasonal Collective of Nine Authors

#Reviews – #Canada Margaret Lindsay Holton, #Mystery Fiona Tarr, #Thriller J.P. Mclean

#Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro, #Historical #Witchcraft Nancy Kilgore

#Prehistoric #Adventure Jacqui Murray, #Postwar #Russia Marina Osipova, #Psychological Thriller Vashti Quiroz-Vega

October 26th 2021 -Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Diet Tips and News Flashes..

October 28th 2021 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Infringement and Cake Mix

 

Thank you very much for joining me and I hope you have enjoyed the posts.. please drop in again next week… Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Women’s Health – The Heart and Stress – Foods and nutrients needed to support you – by Sally Cronin


Last week I looked at the impact on the heart of acute and chronic stress, and some strategies to combat the effects including a link to my breathing exercises.:Heart Attacks, Strokes and Stress

This week I am looking at how including certain nutrients in your diet can support the body and the brain during stressful events.

A healthy diet is absolutely necessary whatever lifestyle we have but if we are under excessive levels of stress then it becomes critical.

Make sure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is a leading physical cause of stress and you need at least 2 litres of fresh, pure water per day and more if you are on holiday or living in very hot climates. I recently posted about dehydration as a cause for food cravings and you can check that out HERE

Seven good reasons to drink water

  • Your body consists of between 60% and 75% water.
  • Each day our body loses 2 litres of fluid through urination,
    Breathing and through our skin.
  • We require even more fluids in warm climates or if we have a higher activity level.
  • Not drinking enough fluids puts a great deal of stress on the body. Kidney function particularly will be affected and there is a danger of kidney and gallstones forming. Immune function is impaired leaving us more prone to infection.
  • Lack of water causes a number of problems that we tend to shrug off. Headaches, irritability (especially first thing in the morning and in children) aching legs, water retention, poor skin tone, circles under the eyes, dull and lifeless hair, lack of energy and poor emulsification of fats.
  • Drinking water helps prevent water retention. Your body knows that it will die very rapidly without fluids so it tends to keep as much as it can in reserve.
  • If you are taking regular medication basis you need to make sure that you flush your system daily to ensure that there is no build- up of toxins in your cells, kidneys and liver.

There are some vitamins and minerals which the body needs to handle stress especially as during a stress interval the body will use up additional reserves of many nutrients. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary and here are a few of the particular nutrients that will help you handle the stress in your life.

Vitamin A mops up the toxic residue of elevated stress hormone levels. (Liver, fish oils, butter, cheese, Free range eggs, oily fish and Beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A from carrots, green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, orange and red coloured vegetables such as apricots)

Vitamin B1 improves your mood and is vital for nerve function. (Whole grains, seeds, peas, beans and nuts.)

Vitamin B3 helps you regulate your sleep patterns. (Liver, brewer’s yeast, chicken, turkey, fish, meat, peanuts, whole-grains, eggs and milk.)

Vitamin B5, better known as Pantothenic Acid, controls the action of the adrenal glands, which play a vital part in the stress response. (Liver, yeast, salmon, dairy, eggs, grains, meat and vegetables.)

Vitamin B6 is essential for the manufacture of the brain chemical serotonin, which is also called the feel good chemical. (Potatoes, bananas, cereals, lentils, liver, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, avocados, soybeans, walnuts and oats.)

Vitamin B12 is necessary to help produce brain chemicals such as serotonin (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, for vegetarians in Miso and Tempeh both fermented soybean products)

Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that is used up very quickly during a stress reaction and needs to be replaced immediately as a deficiency leads to increased levels of anxiety and irritability. Smokers should take in Vitamin C in their diet and under the supervision of a professional should also take supplemental Vitamin C. (found in all fruit and vegetables but best sources are blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rosehips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.)

Minerals necessary to help the body manage stress

Calcium helps you relax and studies have certainly shown that for women it can help reduce the symptoms of stress related to their periods. (Dairy, sardines, canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and soy products such as tofu.)

Magnesium works with calcium and also helps to reduce stress. (Whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish)

Chromium stabilises blood sugar levels that create stress. (Brewer’s yeast, onions, whole grains, shellfish, liver and molasses)

The aim of a healthy diet is to provide your body with the necessary fuel in the right proportions to enable it to achieve homeostasis, or balance. If you are living a very stressful lifestyle then you need to ensure that you address that balance as quickly as possible. If you suffer from low to moderate levels of stress you will find that by adopting relaxation techniques and giving your body the correct fuel to deal with the situation will have long lasting and very beneficial effects on you now and also years ahead in the future.

Don’t allow your stress levels today creep up on you unawares in 20 years time, deal with it today.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews

 

Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.