Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 8th -14th December – Make a Wish, Choirs, Cranberries, A-Z Christmas and Cheesy funnies!


Before we get into the posts you might have missed this week on the blog, a reminder about the Christmas Party on the 21st of December…

The theme for this year’s party is Just One Wish. We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, who was pretty liberal with that magic wand of hers and managed to turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage.

Unfortunately, she has long since retired and hung up her wand, but because I asked nicely (and she would like me to promote her memoir – The Prince Charmings I have Known!) she has agreed to allow you all one wish.

  • Your wish can be for anything you like, for you, for someone close to you, real, imaginary, massive such as world peace (that might be a bit of a stretch for her) or something you wish you had done or said in the past.
  • Humour is very welcome as it is tough for anyone to deny you anything if you make them laugh, and this particular Fairy Godmother has a very active funny bone.
  • Her memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and her attention tends to wander, so I suggest you keep your wish to 100 words or less. I cannot guarantee that your wish will be fulfilled, however, putting it out there could produce magical results.
  • My part of this is to fit in as many of your requests in as possible and so I suggest you get your wish in as quickly as you can.
  • I will also do the usual addition of links to your Amazon Page if you are an author, blog as well as one of your main social media.
  • There will be younger family members at the party, so please bear that in mind when submitting your wish, and the Fairy Godmother is not very worldly!

If you are a regular visitor to the blog I will have all your details and just need your ‘one wish’ in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

If a new visitor then please include your blog or website, Amazon link if you have one and your main social media link to sally.cronin@moyhilll.com.

Now time for this week’s posts and as always my thanks to the regular contributors who share such wonderful articles.  And to you for keep showing up with your amazing support.

I am so pleased that William Price King will be a sharing a selection of Christmas music to get us into the festive spirit up to Christmas Day.. enjoy.

Here is another of our posts where I share the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor incorporates it in a delicious recipe. Next week Carol will be back to share some of her creations from her Thai kitchen offering you some alternative delicacies to eat over the festive season. This week… ..Cranberries – a bitter berry which has a long history in medicinal terms and is still used today in certain over the counter preparations.

Christmas Cook From Scratch – Cranberries Bittersweet

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts by Mike Biles

Mince Pies, Christmas, Britain

Mike Biles A – Z of Christmas – Holly & Ivy to Sprouts

Delighted to share a story by Victoria Zigler from the book Ulrike’s Christmas and you can find details of how to buy this book and Victoria’s many other children’s books after her story.

The Tinsel Story by Victoria Zigler

As a special treat, Linda Bethea is sharing another wonderfully entertaining story from her archives, and today we experience a Christmas from the depression that was still filled with homemade gifts, love, laughter and some retribution for past misdemeanours.

Kathleen’s Cuthand Christmas (from Kathleen’s memoirs of the depression) by Linda Bethea

Most of you will know Carol Taylor from her Food and Cookery Column here on Smorgasbord as well as her own eclectic blog located in Thailand, where she shares the wonderful food on her doorstep and recipes that turn them into delicious meals. Carol has shared a very poignant short story.

The Snow Storm by Carol Taylor

This week the prompt words are ‘Give and Shake’ for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 157 And I have chosen the synonyms ‘Grant and Tremble’ in a Butterfly Cinquain.

I Grant you Permission by Sally Cronin

I grant
you permission
to abandon restraint
and tremble with ecstatic bursts
of joy.
It is the time of chocolate
and freedom to consume
as many bars
you wish.

©Sally Cronin 2019

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills we were tasked on writing a story about a garden gnome or gnomes…mine is loosely based on an alleged true event…

Carrot Ranch – Missing by Sally Cronin

I was given a gift of this lovely anthology and over the last few days I have enjoyed the stories, imagining myself on a front porch swing enjoying balmy breezes somewhere in the southern states of America.. having lived in Texas and visited Tennessee and Mississippi frequently, it did not take much imagination.

My review for Southern Season Stories from a Front Porch Swing

New books on the Shelves for Christmas

#Children 3 – 6 Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry

Author updates with recent reviews

#Romance Karen Demers Dowdall, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Design Valentina Cirasola, #Memoir J.E. Pinto

#Romance P.C. Zick, #Fantasy Jim Webster, #Thriller Stevie Turner, #Poetry Balroop Singh

YA A.J. Alexander, Romance Christine Campbell, Family Claire Fullerton, PostApocalyptic Sandra J. Jackson

Fantasy Deborah Jay, Memoir Abbie Taylor Johnson, History adventure Andrew Joyce, thriller Daniel Kemp

#Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Memoir Marian Beaman, #Thriller JP McLean, #Romance Shehanne Moore

Wendy Janes shares the differences in proofreading fiction and non-fiction and it is very interesting.

Musings on Proofreading Fiction and Non-Fiction

Robbie Cheadle who is an experienced book reviewer shares her easy to follow methodology on writing a review.

Robbie Cheadle on how to write a book review

Review D.G. Kaye, Contest Kaye Lynne Booth, Christmas Cake Robbie Cheadle

Story Contest Stevie Turner, Flash Fiction Charli Mills, Book Review Angie Quantrell

#Q&A D.G. Kaye with Lisa Thomson, #Jacksparrow Dolly Aizenman, #Redwine Christy Birmingham

It is that time of year when we tend to throw caution out of the window along with any slimming books and fitness apps we might have (well some of us anyway).

Unfortunately, our pets are also treated to our sense of liberation and they end up eating many things they are not used to. Also their eating patterns might be thrown out the window, and in my experience their inner body clock is more accurate than a Rolex. This does not make for happy pets. Some treats are toxic to pets and can lead to not just stomach upsets but death.

Safe Christmas Treats and Homecooked dinners for Dogs and Cats.

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a festive recipe from. Sally!

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a joke for Sally.

Thank you so much for dropping in today and every time you pop by. Your support is very much appreciated and I always love to hear from you… even if it is to say Hi… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Missing by Sally Cronin


This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills we were tasked on writing a story about a garden gnome or gnomes…mine is loosely based on an alleged true event…

Missing by Sally Cronin

Eunice loved her garden gnomes and each birthday her husband would buy her another for the collection. Then one July, her favourite, a right Jack the lad, with a red jacket and green trousers was stolen. She was heartbroken and even put up missing posters to no avail. Then the postcards started arriving from all over Europe. ‘Having great time, see you soon. Love Jack.’ Sure enough one morning in October, Eunice looked out the window to see him back in his usual place. Her husband smirked. ‘I see the students are back after their summer holidays my love!’

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in the challenge then please head over to Charli’s: Carrot Ranch Challenge December 13th.

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Tanka Challenge – #Butterfly Cinquain – Permission is Granted by Sally Cronin


This week the prompt words are ‘Give and Shake’ for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 157 And I have chosen the synonyms ‘Grant and Tremble’ in a Butterfly Cinquain.

I Grant you Permission by Sally Cronin

I grant
you permission
to abandon restraint
and tremble with ecstatic bursts
of joy.
It is the time of chocolate
and freedom to consume
as many bars
you wish.

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in this lovely weekly challenge then please head over to Colleen’s for all the details: Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 157

My thanks to Colleen for kindly including my latest release this week in her new poetry bookstore Tanka Poetry bookstore

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up December 1st to 7th – Christmas Music, Festive Brussel Sprouts, Italian Biscotti, Winter Sun and plenty of other Shenanigans!


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed. Things are definitely getting festive around here and I hope that you will enjoy the fun.

It has been a busy week at the homestead with the new fence up and awaiting staining once the weather dries out a bit… excellent job by the workmen who stuck it out through wind, hail, pouring rain, up to the knees in mud… brilliant. Now we need to put tons of stones down for drainage all along the bottom covered by more tons of topsoil and new turf.. The last major job before we put the house on the market in the spring.

And.. I launched by new book…just in the nick of time….more details later in the post in the New Books on the Shelves..

As always a huge thank you to regular guests to the blog who have pulled out all the stops to inform and entertain us…and to you for dropping in and leaving comments and sharing the posts.

First a reminder of the Christmas short story series…

Last Sunday I posted a Christmas story from my collection Flights of Fancy – Father Christmas And I also extended an invitation to you, to share a fiction short story with a Christmas theme.

I would like to invite you to share your fiction here in December with one of your stories.

  • I know how busy everyone is at this time of year, but perhaps you have a short story you have already published on your own blog and would like to share with another audience over here.
  • I will leave the word count to you but as an approximation I would be happy with stories between 500 and 1,500 words…if longer then I am sure it will not be a problem.
  • If you are an author I will also be delighted to share the link to buy your work on Amazon.
  • Some of you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore and I have all your details, so no need to include again, but if you are new to the blog then I will need some information.

If you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore then please send the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com:

  1. The link to your short story if already on your blog
  2. Or, your word document of your story.

If you are new to smorgasbord the please send the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com:

  1. The link to your short story if already on your blog
  2. Or, your word document of your story
  3. Your amazon author page link for your books (so I can find your bio and book covers)
  4. Links to your blog and two other main social media links.

Look forward to hearing from you…

On with the other posts from the week.

Over the next four weeks, I am so pleased that William Price King will be a sharing a selection of Christmas music to get us into the festive spirit. The Lullay Song and What Child is This…

Christmas music with William Price King The Lullay Song

For any of us in the colder and wetter climates, a respite somewhere sunny is top of of most of our wish lists. Today three wonderful destinations where you will enjoy warm weather and an even warmer welcome from your hosts. I have selected islands where you can relax and even if it is for just two weeks, boost your tan and well-being before the real winter kicks in.

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Three Winter Sun Destinations – Kauai, Hawaii, Malta and Martinique

It is that time of year when we bring out the decorations and over here – The Cook from Scratch Christmas recipes... I look at the health benefits of the food.. and my friend Carol Taylor turns them into something delicious the whole family will love.  This week the wonderful Brussel Sprouts.

Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Healthy and delicious Brussel Sprouts

If you are looking for a different kind of Christmas cookie this year then these Cantucci Biscotti from Silvia Todesco look amazing… and if memory serves me right, dipping them in your coffee or hot chocolate adds to their deliciousness…

Biscotti CANTUCCI

Italian Cantucci Biscotti by Silvia Todesco

This week Mike Biles continues with his A-Z of Christmas starting with the Turkey through to Figgy Pudding.. more next week.

Christmas, Britain, Christmas dinner

Mike Biles – A – Z of Christmas from Turkey dinner to Figgy Pudding

Delighted that Anne R. Allen accepted my invitation to be a guest during the run up to Christmas. As writers, we don’t always get the feedback we expect from family and friends, and Anne shares some of the ways it might sabotage our efforts.

How Well-Intentioned Loved Ones Can Sabotage Your Writing Career

Anne R. Allen explores how well intentioned loved ones can sabotage your writing career

Earlier in the year editor Sarah Calfee wrote a guest post on editing that I think is well worth sharing again as part of the Christmas Book Fair.

Demystifying the levels of Fiction Editing by Sarah Calfee

Being the first challenge of the month, Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 156 is left to our discretion as ‘Poet’s Choice’.  I have written a double etheree – Happy Christmas

Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 156 – Happy Christmas

My response to this weeks Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  the prompt is ‘Key Lime Pie’.... and I hope you enjoy the ingredients in my story……

Flash Fiction – Key Lime Pie

New Releases for Christmas

Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words by Sally Cronin

Supernatural Thriller Eventide – A Hodes Hill Novel Book 3 by Mae Clair

Post Apocalyptic – Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Thriller – At the Seaside Nobody Hears you Scream by Janet Gogerty

Author updates

#Saga Judith Barrow, #Poetry Vandan Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath, #Crime Sue Coletta, #YARomance Angie Dokos

#Fantasy Julia Benally, #Drama Deborah A. Bowman, #Mystery Diana J. Febry, #Adventure Jacqui Murray

#Wardrama Marina Osipova, #Memoir Cynthia S. Reyes, #Thriller Gwen M Plano, #Poetry Frank Prem

#Romance Linda Bradley, #Drama Mary Crowley, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Memoir Brigid Gallagher

#Thriller Anne Goodwin, #YA Donna W. Hill, #Childrens Deanie Humphrys-Dunne #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

#Review D.G. Kay, Olga Nunez and Interview Jane Risdon with Jennifer Ash

Robbie Cheadle with Frank Prem, #History Darlene Foster, #Chai and Chat Ritu Bhathal

#Spain Joy Lennick, USCitizen Liesbet Collaert, #Thistledown Teagan Geneviene

#Freebook James J. Cudney, #Reading Nicole Osmond, #Story Becky Ross Michael

shelleywilson72

#reading Nicholas Rossis #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Writing Shelley Wilson and Owen Mullen

Laughter Lines with D.G. Kaye and Sally Cronin

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you so much for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week with more fun and games.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Key Lime Pie by Sally Cronin


This week for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  the prompt is ‘Key Lime Pie’.... and I hope you enjoy the ingredients in my story……

Key Lime Pie

My mother-in-law is coming to dinner tonight with the rest of the family. I am staring at a piece of paper she gave me on her last visit, which provides a step-by-step guide to making the perfect key lime pie. Apparently hers are legendary, and have become a tradition on my husband’s birthday since he was five. Even though we have only been married a few months; I know that his mother will be looking for flaws. Which is why I have made a sherry trifle, a dessert I know my husband loves; a new tradition of our own.

©Sally Cronin

If you would like to participate in this week’s Flash Fiction then please head over to Charli’s to find out more: December 6th Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – Short Stories – #Fiction – Father Christmas by Sally Cronin – Have you a story to share?


Today I am sharing one of the last stories from my collection Flights of Fancy as it is one I wrote for Christmas.

I would also like to invite you to share your fiction here too in December with one of your stories.

  • I know how busy everyone is at this time of year, but perhaps you have a short story you have already published on your own blog and would like to share with another audience over here.
  • I will leave the word count to you but as an approximation I would be happy with stories between 500 and 1,500 words…if longer then I am sure it will not be a problem.
  • If you are an author I will also be delighted to share the link to buy your work on Amazon.
  • Some of you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore and I have all your details, so no need to include again, but if you are new to the blog then I will need some information.

If you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore then please send the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com:

  1. The link to your short story if already on your blog
  2. Or, your word document of your story.

If you are new to smorgasbord the please send the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com:

  1. The link to your short story if already on your blog
  2. Or, your word document of your story
  3. Your amazon author page link for your books (so I can find your bio and book covers)
  4. Links to your blog and two other main social media links.

Here is my short story from Flights of Fancy which I hope you will enjoy….

Father Christmas come to visit

The little girl lay in bed, her blonde hair spread over the pillow. She was asleep, but from her restless movements it was obvious that she was in the grip of a disturbing dream. Dark rings beneath her eyes gave her small face a pinched and unhappy look.

Downstairs, Jenny looked at the Christmas decorations hanging from the pictures and light fittings around the room. In the corner, the tree lights sparkled and flashed through the tinsel, and presents for Sophie were piled beneath its green spiky branches in a colourful heap. The family and the neighbours had rallied around, determined that Sophie would have everything that her father would have bought her this Christmas.

Jenny rested her hands on the mantelpiece and stared at the photograph in front of her. It was the last that was taken of them all together. They smiled out of the picture, brown and happy on their holiday in the south of France at the end of October. It had been their first family holiday in three years as business had been tough, and there had been no extra money for trips or any other luxuries. Ironically, she now had more money than she knew what to do with, but she would give it all back in a heartbeat.

Jack had inherited his father’s building business and although in the initial few years work had been plentiful, there was now more and more competition for fewer contracts. He and his small team worked seven days a week usually, and she could see from his face that this heavy load was taking its toll. Just after their holiday in France, Jack began to experience chest pains that he dismissed as indigestion after eating and drinking too much while they were away. Jenny had at first asked him to go and see their family doctor, but after two weeks and getting increasingly concerned about Jack’s lack of energy and grey pallor, she had then begged him to go and get checked out.

To keep the peace, Jack had begrudgingly taken a couple of hours off one evening and gone to the surgery. The next day he was in hospital undergoing tests and that afternoon it was decided that he needed an emergency operation. It had all happened so fast they had barely time to talk about the situation and Jenny had been unable to take Sophie into to see her father before he was rushed off to theatre. Jenny had called out to him as he was wheeled away but she had no way of knowing if he had heard her soft “I love you.”

She and Sophie had sat in the family room, playing with coloured bricks and a jigsaw to pass the anxious time. There had been other families in the room all looking nervously at the clock until doctors or nurses entered to reassure them that their loved ones were safely recovering from their operations.

As the evening wore on, more and more of the waiting families left the room to visit their relatives in recovery or back on the wards. Jenny and Sophie were alone when finally a tall man in a green scrub suit entered the waiting room, loosening the mask from around his face. Jenny took one look at his eyes and knew from their bleak directness that there would be no visit to the recovery room for them.

Resting her head on her hands she allowed the tears to fall; here in private she could grieve. Away from the eyes of her small daughter who could not understand why Daddy was not coming home from work every night. She had tried to be strong for Sophie’s sake, but she had watched her normally lively child lose weight, become silent and withdrawn. Jack was gone and tomorrow was Christmas Day. How could she face it without him?

She heard a noise from upstairs. Sophie would be having one of her nightmares, crying for her daddy, tossing and turning, and reaching out into the dark. Wiping the tears from her face, Jenny walked upstairs to her daughter’s bedroom. She opened the door quietly and was startled to see Sophie sitting up in bed, clutching her teddy bear and staring across the room.

Her mother looked across and saw the toy cupboard with a plate of mince pies and a glass of sherry on the top. Suddenly she felt warm air flow over her. She blinked and stared at the glowing light that grew brighter and brighter. Clamping a hand over her mouth, she darted a glance over at Sophie. Her daughter was smiling and holding out her hand to the light. Jenny’s eyes were drawn back across the room and she gasped as in the glow, she saw a figure materialise.

“Jack” she gasped. Riveted to the spot she watched her husband reach out a hand, take a mince pie from the plate and raise it to his lips. He ate the pie and grinned across at her. She felt the warmth of his gaze as it rested on her eyes and her mouth and an overwhelming sense of peace passed through her. Jack nodded once and then walked across to his daughter’s bedside. In complete silence, he reached out and touched Sophie’s outstretched hand. A radiant glow spread across her face and she lay back down on her pillow, still clutching his fingers. Her smile transformed her face and the dark rings and pinched, sad look disappeared. Her eyes closed and her breathing settled into a gentle rhythm and she was peacefully asleep.

Her father turned away from the bed and crossed over to the door. Jenny stood absolutely still as his body passed in front of her. He stopped and she looked into his eyes and felt a gentle touch on her shoulders. He smiled at her and all the love that they had shared was in that wonderful look between them and she knew that he was saying goodbye. He moved out into the hall and turned for one last glance over his shoulder. Gradually the light faded and the figure disappeared, but the warmth inside her remained.

She stood for a few minutes with head bowed, absorbing and taking strength from that feeling before crossing to her daughter’s bedside. She looked down at Sophie, sleeping peacefully for the first time in weeks. She kissed her forehead gently and then moved over to the toy cupboard where she stared at the plate with its two mince pies.

Three had been put out for Father Christmas. Jenny smiled; everything was going to be fine. It would take time, but the warmth inside her would carry them through.

This year Father Christmas had really come to visit.

©Sally Cronin 2009

One of the recent reviews for the collection.

James J. Cudney Flights of Fancy by Sally Cronin October 2019: 5 of 5 stars

When I picked this one up, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve read a few other books by Sally Cronin, but I knew these were going to be much different (in a good way). Ms. Cronin has published a collection of ~10 short stories and a novella, ranging in style from murder to fantasy, revenge to humor. I loved all of the stories and will struggle to decide which ones to include in my review…

To begin with, the book kicks off with the main character saying, “On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman.” Okay… we’re in for something dark and funny. What a great tale! In some ways, it’s very telling about society, and in others, it’s a little shocking. I found myself wondering whether the guilty party should be punished or not. It’s wonderful when a writer can prompt that question. I also worried she might’ve been describing my mindset on a number of occasions. Oops!

From there, we jump into a woman mourning a loss. She kinda/sorta visits her husband and dog, and it will make you get a little sappy. Afterward, I devoured a few tales about marriage, war, love, and a talking parrot who knew exactly how to motivate a woman to leave her ne’er-do-well husband. One thing is for sure; this collection shows the author’s range in developing memorable characters, kooky plots, and a touch of sentimentality in each and every relationship we develop throughout life.

The one I want to touch on the most is the final story, the novella about a group of women around~80ish who live together in a senior’s complex. Unfortunately, a rough family moves in nearby, and things begin to go downhill. Drugs, theft, abuse… then it leads to murder. The surviving women in the group want revenge, thus plotting out how to rid themselves of the two ruthlessly mean parents and their five children who descended upon the town. Some of the kids cannot be saved and must be made to disappear. Others might survive foster care. It truly was a fun story, and I focused on the humor element, as those Jackson’s needed to be taught a lesson!

Cronin has a clear and strong writing style. By incorporating personal experiences and emotions into her characters, she’s made various types of people come to life. Whether it’s struggling with weight loss, interpreting people’s impressions of you, or stopping yourself from doing the things you want to do but shouldn’t do, the cast in each of these stories reminded me of many events in our lives. The girl who steals our boyfriend… the guy who treats his wife poorly… the daughter who can’t recognize her mother isn’t just an elderly woman… the lady struggling to keep the weight off… or the guy misses his wife. It’s all there, and as a whole, this represents so many wonderful and pain-filled stages of life. Now we can laugh or cry together about them.

I definitely recommend reading this book for its levity, ability to watch others get revenge (without you going to jail), and perhaps some motivation to make changes in your own life. What a great collection.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews Sally’s books and reviews 2019

Available: Amazon US

and on: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on: Goodreads

Thank you for dropping by and if you have a short story that you would like to share then please get in touch..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Winning by Sally Cronin


Time for this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills and the prompt was ‘winners’ in 99 words, no more, no less…

Winning by Sally Cronin

They heckled the last in the pack on the track as he struggled to keep up with the rest of the runners. Even in the lead position Peter could hear their jeers and laughter. One more lap and the race would be over and it was going to be a triumph for him, but a bitter disappointment for his friend Michael. As the seconds ticked by Peter thought about what winning this race would mean for him. Then he dropped back and ran by the side of the person who really mattered and they would cross the line together.

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge.. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction 28th November.

 

Flights of Fancy Short Story Collection – Serialisation – Free Book Offer – The Sewing Circle Part Two by Sally Cronin


If you would like to read Flights of Fancy in one sitting rather than each week, please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and just let me know if you would like it in Kindle or Epub format. No strings attached.

In part one of the story, we were introduced to the members of the sewing circle, a close knit group of women in their 80s living on an estate in London. Unfortunately a criminal element was taking over the stairwells of the buildings and one member of the sewing circle was a victim of their violence…

The Sewing Circle Part Two.

By the time the police and ambulance arrived on the scene, Darren Jackson was on the back of his cousin’s motorbike and halfway to his aunt’s house on the edge of Epping Forest. He was celebrating his elevation to hardened criminal by replaying the incident repeatedly as he clasped his cousin around his waist. Little did he realise that like his father before him, he had botched a job.

The Jackson family were well known by the police and it was not long before Sharon’s sister found a number of coppers on her doorstep with a warrant. They found a newly scrubbed Darren wearing his cousin’s clothes and smirking as his alibi was established by his extended family — and a few of their mates for good measure. Without forensic evidence and with their only witness lying in the mortuary at a South London hospital the investigation stalled.

Everyone knew however, who had murdered their beloved Flo and even families on the Redgrave who had never spoken to the old lady, stopped at Betty’s flat with shop-bought cakes and sympathy. The other members of the sewing circle sat in vigil with their distraught friend as she repeatedly relived finding Flo in that crumpled heap in the dark.

The police officer in charge of the investigation came from the area and knew both the Redgrave and the Jacksons well. He could only promise that he would not close the case but would watch and wait for Darren to return to his mother’s flat and get back with his little gang again. The detective was convinced that Darren would be unable to keep his mouth shut and would end up boasting about his first major excursion into his father’s violent world. When he did, the detective was sure that his informants in the area would find out and they would get Darren eventually.

The members of the sewing circle were united in their grief and spent the next week together in Betty’s flat, from early morning until late at night. The funeral was eventually arranged by Flo’s extended family and her close friends were all included at every stage. On the afternoon of the service, the sun shone in defiance and the five friends left Betty’s flat together walking proudly towards the waiting black cab that Flo’s family had laid on. They were all smartly dressed, wearing their best hats in honour of the occasion. The service was lovely and the five elderly women held hands as they watched the hearse taking Flo to the crematorium glide sedately pass them outside the church.

After the tea at a local pub, Flo’s eldest son took them home personally in his people carrier and walked them to the door of Betty’s flat.

“My mum would have wanted you to have first pick of her special things, so why don’t I come back tomorrow morning and you can come up with me and choose something to remember her by.” With a hug for them all, he left and the five filed into Betty’s kitchen to drink more tea and to reminisce into the night about their lost friend.

The next afternoon, instead of sitting around completing sewing projects, the women sat quietly as each held a memento in their laps. The objects were neither expensive nor necessarily attractive but they all reminded the women of some different aspect of Flo’s personality. Big Sal cradled a little ceramic dog that had obviously been lovingly handled over the years.

“Flo bought this when her little Yorkie died,” she wiped a tear from her cheek. “She was a feisty one that Flo and I bet if she was here she would have a thing or two to say about those bastard Jacksons.”

Sylvia examined her manicured nails and then looked up at the rest of the circle.

“I know if it had been one of us Flo would have marched up to that Sharon Jackson and given her one over the head with her brolly.”

The thought of the tiny Flo giving slovenly Sharon a good slapping made her friends laugh and within minutes they started to throw in other suggestions of what evil might befall the Jackson clan. As the proposed retribution became more and more virulent, the laughter died away and slowly the five women began to look at each other in silence.

Big Sal picked up her copious black handbag and extracted a pencil and a piece of paper. On the back of an old shopping list she jotted down some of the ideas already mentioned and sat hand poised to record any more.

Maggie Baxter, who was proudly conversant with the entire Bible, clapped her hands and grabbed everyone’s attention.

“Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.”

Maggie smiled at them all. “That book of Leviticus was sure clear about making those poor Israelites pay and I guess what was good enough for them is good enough for those Jackson’s”

Mary Jones who was the frailest of the group looked worriedly at her friends.

“But what can we do, we are only a few old ladies and those Jacksons have a big family and they are all thugs and thieves.”

Big Sal reached over and patted her hand gently.

“Don’t worry love; I think we can bank on a few recruits from the other residents and what we don’t have in brawn we will make up for in brains.”

Sylvia sat silently, wiping the odd tear from her heavily made up face. What the other members of the sewing circle did not know was that Flo and Sylvia shared a secret from the past that made this violent loss even more poignant.

In her twenties, Sylvia had been vibrantly attractive and had met and married Davy Ross, a minor name in the East End. He had worked for Mike Mitchell who ran an extensive extortion and prostitution racket in the fifties and sixties and Davy was known for his temper and his ability to collect money with menaces.

Unfortunately, for Sylvia, Davy liked to take his work home with him and she spent quite a bit of time in the casualty department of the local hospital having ‘bumped into’ fixed objects in her home. Friends tried to persuade her to leave him but Sylvia knew that he would find her and kill her if she left.

A job had been planned at a large high street bank and at the last minute, a member of the gang got nicked and a replacement had to be found. Mike Mitchell who had masterminded the job recruited Davy into the team, a little reluctantly bearing in mind his unpredictable temper. He was right to be concerned as the night watchman at the bank ended up getting more of a hiding than he might have done with the original set up. Unfortunately for Davy, the guard survived and was able to give the police an accurate description of his assailant. Davy knew the score and accepted his ten years inside without grassing up either the other members of the gang or his boss, who honoured the unspoken code of the East End by making sure Sylvia was taken care of.

Sylvia knew that with good behaviour, her violent husband might be out in five or six years but she hoped that his own basic nature would guarantee that he would not be able to keep his fists to himself for that long. She had originally trained as a hairdresser and she opened a little shop close to her home and began to live a new life.

Flo was one of her regular customers and being from the area was fully aware of Sylvia’s past troubles, although they were never mentioned. Neither were the increasingly frequent visits to the shop by Mike Mitchell, who was crossing the bounds of the accepted code of behaviour by fancying the wife of one of his own men, who was serving time for one of his jobs.

Sylvia was wary at first, as she knew the man’s reputation, but he was good looking and charming and began to show her a life that she did not know existed. Fancy restaurants and weekends in the country; away from the prying eyes of the East End, and Mike’s wife; definitely clouded her judgement and she found herself falling in love with the mobster.

Their affair lasted two years and in that time, Sylvia neither wrote nor visited Davy in prison despite his constant demands. Unfortunately, nature stepped in and Sylvia found herself telling Mike that he was going to be a father in seven months’ time. This fact did not overly please him as he already had four children and a wife who would take him to the cleaners if she found out. Despite being a hard man, Mike loved his family and had to convince Sylvia that if she kept the child it would have to remain a secret. Not only that, but Davy was not going to be happy about finding out, which would be very dangerous for both Sylvia and the child.

This proved to be the case when a woman who lived in Sylvia’s street decided to inform her husband on a prison visit of the local gossip and the possibility that Sylvia was expecting. The man got a broken jaw for his trouble when he passed the information onto Davy and within days, a message was passed to the outside.

Sylvia was locking up her hairdressers for the night when two men grabbed her from behind and dragged her into a nearby alley. Two hours later Flo was passing on her way to the Bingo hall when she heard what she thought sounded like a frightened kitten in the narrow gap between the buildings. She ventured a little way into the darkness and saw an arm protruding from behind a heap of rubbish bags. She rushed forward, completely oblivious to her own safety and found Sylvia curled up holding her stomach with one arm as she bled across the dirty cobblestones.

Flo rushed back into the street and got a man to go to the nearest phone box and call for the police and ambulance before returning to cradle Sylvia’s head in her lap while they waited for help. She went with her to the hospital and was by her bedside when she regained consciousness after her operation. Sylvia suffered a broken nose and arm, crushed pelvis, fractured skull – and had lost her baby. As she looked down into the bruised and battered face, Flo knew that this was not the end. That Davy was not going to let it rest and would no doubt finish the job when he finally got out of prison.

Mike Mitchell was also aware that this beating was just an installment and it was really no surprise to anyone that a week later Davy Ross unfortunately slipped on some soap in the shower and banged his head. He was dead when the guards found him. Sylvia was notified as she lay in her hospital bed coming to terms with not only the loss of her baby but also the fact that Mike Mitchell could now never come near her again in case he was implicated in her husband’s death.

Flo understood, being the mother of so many children herself and having lost one or two in early pregnancy, how Sylvia must be feeling and she was with her when the doctors told her that due to the beating she had received she would never be able to have any more children in the future. Over the next few years, Flo and Sylvia became close friends but the events surrounding the beating and death of Davy were never discussed again.

Even the other members of the sewing circle were unaware of the shared past of two of their closest friends and although they knew that Flo and Sylvia went back a long way they were taken by surprise at the level of grief that Sylvia experienced. She had cried for two days, refusing to leave her flat or even get dressed in one of her elegant but out-dated suits. She finally appeared at Betty’s flat and sat silently as mourners came and went with their offerings. Eventually her friends gave up trying to get her to talk but took it in turns to sit holding her hand and leaning in so that she could feel their comfort.

As a memento of her beloved friend, Sylvia had chosen a pale yellow silk scarf that Flo had worn often. She now ran the scarf through her fingers time after time before looking around at the others as they sat quietly remembering their friend.

“It would be lovely to see the Jacksons brought down and all sorts of evil things done to them but we have to be realistic about what we can do ourselves.” She sighed wearily as her friends listened intently.

“The younger kids are not to blame but they should not be with that mother of theirs, they deserve a chance to live a decent life.” She paused and looked down at the scarf wound through her fingers.

“Sharon Jackson and that son of hers deserve everything they get and we need to make sure that they never do this to anyone else again.” She gave a tight smile.

“We have to get to Archie Jackson inside and feed him a story about Sharon and he will take care of her for us.” Her friends listened in fascination as Sylvia displayed a side of her they had never even imagined before. “After that he needs taking care off so that he can have nothing more to do with his kids as they grow up.”

“As for that Darren, he is past redeeming and needs to be got rid of like any other vermin on the estate and we have to get him to do the job on himself.”

The others looked at each other and realised that if they were to undertake this revenge on the Jacksons they were reverting to the old life that they had known as teenagers and young women living in the East End. They knew that if they didn’t do something then the Jacksons would continue to terrorise this estate and any others they moved to.

The key was to cut the head off the clan in the form of Sharon Jackson. Without her around, and Archie taken care of in prison, the younger members of the family would be put into care and unlikely though it seemed, that might give them a chance of a better life than remaining with their mother and father. Darren however had to go, as they knew, without any doubt, that he had cold bloodedly killed Flo. He now had power and he would use it against people for the rest of his life.

The next morning the rumours started within the various communities around the estate. Sharon Jackson was having an affair with a police officer from the narcotic division. Nobody suspected that the whispers that infested the bingo hall, corner shop, post office and surgery waiting room were started by five old women as they went about their business. Those who dealt drugs on the estate were understandably nervous and tried to find out more information without much success. This only served to make them even more paranoid and soon the rumour mill was working overtime on the stairways until it reached the ears of Sharon Jackson.

She was furious but did not have the intelligence to work out how to combat the growing tide of speculation and false accusations about her. The one thing she did have was a healthy respect for her husband’s fists and as the days passed she became increasingly terrified that word would reach Archie. Even though he was banged up inside she knew he had a long reach and time was not on her side.

She was definitely right about that one. A week after the gossip started, Sylvia Ross left the estate and took a taxi to the Docklands. In a wine bar there, she met with an elderly man who despite his walking stick still strode confidently across the floor to the table where she sat, beautifully dressed and made-up.

An hour later Sylvia left and returned to a meeting at Betty’s flat. She said little but she nodded to Big Sal and they both knew that the toughest part of their plan was in play.

Three weeks later Sharon Jackson went missing. A concerned elderly woman rang the social services and mentioned that there were four young children living alone in a flat in Grange House. By the end of the day, with no sign of their mother, the police had been informed and the children were taken into temporary care. Darren, who was still at his aunt’s house in Epping Forest, was alerted by one of his gang members and he got his cousin to bring him home on his bike where he let himself into the now deserted flat.

He was not bothered by losing his entire family in the slightest. He now had the freedom to live and do as he pleased even though Sharon’s idea of parenting had been relaxed to say the least. He could get up when he wanted, eat what and when he liked and best of all he could drink his favourite tipple, vodka, all day without his mother sharing the contents of the bottle. His friends all came round to sample the delights of the new gang headquarters and the neighbours were subjected to noisy parties into the small hours and harassment on the walkways and stairs.

The social services came round but their hands were tied as Darren had turned sixteen while away at his aunts and could not be persuaded to give up his freedom and go into some form of care. The council promised to re-house the boy, as he could not remain in a three bed roomed flat on his own, but were not sure how quickly this would happen. On the fourth day, two large men in suits appeared and the residents on that landing assumed that they were from the council, who had been called that morning with further complaints and requests for assistance.

The two men knocked on the door to the Jackson’s flat and one of Darren’s mates, on his way out to collect more vodka, inadvertently opened it and admitted them into the confined hall. He took one look at their faces and hurriedly left, glancing nervously over his shoulder as he ran down the landing. Within minutes he was followed by the rest of the gang, one of them nursing his right ear and trying to hold back unmanly tears.

The neighbours on each side of the flat listened with ears pressed to their lounge walls but they could not hear a word. They were beginning to doubt that the two men were from the council after all and their suspicions were confirmed when sounds of a more physical nature were heard from the Jackson’s living room.

Twenty minutes later, the two men left, carefully closing the door of the flat behind them. All was silent and the neighbours on either side settled down to enjoy their after lunch television programmes and a well-deserved nap.

Several hours later, just as they were preparing their supper, the neighbours heard someone falling around inside the Jacksons’ flat. It sounded as though furniture and ornaments were being knocked over and then a crash as something heavy such as a television smashed to the floor. Not wishing to get involved in anything to do with the family, the police were not called and anyway after half an hour, the front door was opened. On both sides of the flat, curtains were twitched and eyes followed the progress of the figure that emerged onto the landing.

It was an astonishing sight. It was Darren, but barely recognisable as he stumbled in high-heeled shoes, drunkenly down the landing. He was wearing a tight satin dress, fishnet tights and he was wearing make-up and jewellery. The neighbours found themselves tittering and laughing at the spectacle as Darren staggered towards the stairs. A man returning from work stood one of the stairwells, transfixed by the vision before him. Darren stared glassily back at him and then grabbing the handrail almost slid to the bottom of the steps. He didn’t  even appear to see the man in front of him and tottering on his stilettos he swung around the corner and down the next flight.

Unfortunately for Darren, he was inexperienced in the management of high heels and as he reached the top of the last flight of stairs leading to the car park, he slipped and fell untidily to the bottom landing in a crumpled heap.

He lay motionless as a crowd of residents clustered around him. One daring soul prodded the supine body with the toe of his shoe and then leapt back as the body began to twitch and jerk before going rigid and collapsing back onto the dusty surface of the pavement.

The post mortem showed that Darren had a great deal of alcohol in his system as well as a considerable amount of recreational drugs. No one else was suspected in his death although the residents of the estate had their own ideas. Darren’s gang were not bothered by the nature of Darren’s death, but were mortified to think that their leader, and the terror of the neighbourhood, was secretly a lover of fine clothes, high heels, make up and jewellery. Those gang members that lived on other estates were never seen again and those that remained on the Redgrave kept a very low profile. Some even went as far as to go to school on a regular basis and one graduated to college where he trained as a social worker.

A month after Sharon’s disappearance and Darren’s death, Archie Jackson apparently slipped on a bar of soap in the prison shower and hit his head on the tiles. His death was ruled as accidental by the authorities.

The sewing circle continued to meet although they were not only missing the lovely Flo but Sylvia too on some occasions. In the weeks following their successful campaign, she could be seen getting into an elegant black car one or two mornings a week. One day as the friends sat around working on their latest projects, she looked up and smiled at them gently.

“I have some news.” They all turned to her expectantly.

“I am getting married.” She announced to her open-mouthed audience.

“It’s someone I have known for years, a widower living in Chingford. He has got a lovely house and he says it is too big and empty for him on his own.”

She drew a handful of envelopes out of her handbag and distributed them around the stunned women.

“I hope you will all come to the wedding, and be my bridesmaids, and when we get back from honeymoon I would like you to come out to me every week for our meetings as I don’t want to give them up.”

Big Sal who was sitting next to Sylvia grabbed her in her ample embrace and kissed her resoundingly on her powdered cheek.

“You just try and stop us you sly old floozy. Perhaps you can set us all up with mates of his at the wedding? We could all do with a bit of a fling!”

The others all laughed and Betty rushed to the kitchen for the sherry bottle and five glasses.

As they toasted the future Mrs Mitchell, they also raised their glasses to their beloved friend Flo and prayed that she could now rest in peace.

©Sally Cronin 2009
One of the recent reviews for the collection.

James J. Cudney Flights of Fancy by Sally Cronin October 2019: 5 of 5 stars

When I picked this one up, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve read a few other books by Sally Cronin, but I knew these were going to be much different (in a good way). Ms. Cronin has published a collection of ~10 short stories and a novella, ranging in style from murder to fantasy, revenge to humor. I loved all of the stories and will struggle to decide which ones to include in my review…

To begin with, the book kicks off with the main character saying, “On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman.” Okay… we’re in for something dark and funny. What a great tale! In some ways, it’s very telling about society, and in others, it’s a little shocking. I found myself wondering whether the guilty party should be punished or not. It’s wonderful when a writer can prompt that question. I also worried she might’ve been describing my mindset on a number of occasions. Oops!

From there, we jump into a woman mourning a loss. She kinda/sorta visits her husband and dog, and it will make you get a little sappy. Afterward, I devoured a few tales about marriage, war, love, and a talking parrot who knew exactly how to motivate a woman to leave her ne’er-do-well husband. One thing is for sure; this collection shows the author’s range in developing memorable characters, kooky plots, and a touch of sentimentality in each and every relationship we develop throughout life.

The one I want to touch on the most is the final story, the novella about a group of women around~80ish who live together in a senior’s complex. Unfortunately, a rough family moves in nearby, and things begin to go downhill. Drugs, theft, abuse… then it leads to murder. The surviving women in the group want revenge, thus plotting out how to rid themselves of the two ruthlessly mean parents and their five children who descended upon the town. Some of the kids cannot be saved and must be made to disappear. Others might survive foster care. It truly was a fun story, and I focused on the humor element, as those Jackson’s needed to be taught a lesson!

Cronin has a clear and strong writing style. By incorporating personal experiences and emotions into her characters, she’s made various types of people come to life. Whether it’s struggling with weight loss, interpreting people’s impressions of you, or stopping yourself from doing the things you want to do but shouldn’t do, the cast in each of these stories reminded me of many events in our lives. The girl who steals our boyfriend… the guy who treats his wife poorly… the daughter who can’t recognize her mother isn’t just an elderly woman… the lady struggling to keep the weight off… or the guy misses his wife. It’s all there, and as a whole, this represents so many wonderful and pain-filled stages of life. Now we can laugh or cry together about them.

I definitely recommend reading this book for its levity, ability to watch others get revenge (without you going to jail), and perhaps some motivation to make changes in your own life. What a great collection.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

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

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

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

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. And if you would like a full copy of the book now, just email me with your required format. Sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Romantic Gestures by Sally Cronin


This week’s prompt for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  is Romance... in all its glory… It is the glue that keeps a relationship strong along with other elements such as laughter and respect. And your heart can flutter at any age when you receive a romantic gesture, grand or as brief as a touch of a hand on your cheek.

Romantic Gestures.

For sixty years red roses, hearts and grand gestures had been his way of showing how much he loved her. Now as he sat beside her hospital bed he was at a loss. He desperately wanted to make her last moments as love filled as possible; but grand gestures were of no use now. She stirred and turned her head to look at him, attempting to speak. He leant closer to her and heard the words ‘You are the love of my life.’ He smiled and nodded as he kissed her frail hand gently. ‘And you too my darling’.

©Sally Cronin 2019

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed the story….and if you would like to participate in this week’s challenge you have until Tuesday November 26th: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

Smorgasbord Health Column -#Health in the News – #Pneumonia – Appalling statistics – Six children per hour hospitalised in the UK


Pneumonia – Appalling statistics – Six children per hour hospitalised in the UK

I was staggered and shocked when I read this headline . I cannot believe that in this day and age, in a country with access to one of the finest medical systems in the world, that people are so crass as to ignore the dangers to their children by avoiding vaccinations.

I am always adamant that the responsibility for our health is squarely in our corner with attention to diet, moderate exercise and moderation of vices. However, when it comes to the health of children, adults need to take responsibility for their health. And one of those responsibilities is to ensure that a child is protected from some of the most virulent diseases that take advantage of immature or compromised immune systems. Measles and Pneumonia being just two.

Six children are hospitalised with pneumonia EVERY HOUR amid soaring rates of the vaccine-preventable disease, NHS figures show

  • Emergency admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade
  • 56,000 children from the UK were hospitalised with the condition last year
  • Babies get three doses of pneumonia vaccine on the NHS before turning one
  • But rates of uptake for the vaccine have plummeted in recent years, data shows

Six children are hospitalised with pneumonia every hour amid soaring rates of the vaccine-preventable disease, NHS figures show.

Emergency admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade, with 56,000 children hospitalised with the condition last year.

Babies receive three doses of the pneumonia vaccine on the NHS at eight weeks, 16 weeks and one year.

But rates of uptake for the pneumococcal vaccine have plummeted in recent years, in line with a wider fall in childhood vaccinations.

Full story is available on the Daily Mail site but is also being carried by other media: Pneumonia shock statistics

According to the world health organisation Pneumonia is the leading course of death in children. That surprised me too when I first read this a few years ago. I know that it the most common cause of death written on a death certificate for the elderly, and it is because these are the two most vulnerable groups in our society wherever we live.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation or infection of the lungs most commonly caused by a bacteria or virus.

The origin of the word pneumonia is from the Greek pneuma – meaning air, and pneumon, – meaning lung, with pneumonia meaning inflammation of the lung.

There are approximately 30 causes of pneumonia and before the use of antibiotics over a third of the victims of this disease died. Today it tends to be young children, the elderly, or people with existing debilitating conditions, who are likely to contract pneumonia.

What are the most common types of pneumonia?

There are two categories of pneumonia that all types fall into. One is infective pneumonia and the other is aspiration pneumonia.

Infective pneumonia is when the bronchial tubes and lungs become infected and inflamed by either bacteria or a virus that has entered the lungs and reproduced.

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Bacterial pneumonia

Bacteria are not choosy and anyone can become infected. The most common culprit is Streptococcus pneumoniae or Pneumococcus (pictured above). In these cases one or other of the lobes of the lung are affected. The onset of this form of pneumonia is very rapid with high fever and breathing difficulties within the first few hours and with the very young and the elderly seeking medical help immediately is vital as their immune systems are unable to cope with the ferocity of the infection.

There are are further complications with this specific bacteria as it can affect other parts of the body such as the brain where it becomes meningitis. This diagnosis is a parent’s worst nightmare and this is why understanding the symptoms early can be so important. The bacteria is easily transportable in the bloodstream to all parts of the body, so if not treated can lead to a serious strain on the immune system. Bacterial pneumonia normally responds to a strong dose of antibiotics but as with many diseases today some of the bacteria responsible for pneumonia have become resistant to those currently in use.

Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia is the most common form of the disease, although it does not always have the worst symptoms. It quite commonly follows another upper respiratory disease – when viruses coughed out of the lungs get inhaled back into the air sacs to begin another infection. The onset is usually less rapid than the bacterial form of the disease, beginning with a persistent cough, high fever and possibly nausea. The usual treatment unless the problem is very severe is patience whilst the infection runs its course. This is where eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants and plenty of fluids will help to build up the immune system and support the body whilst it recovers.

Aspiration pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia is any condition where a foreign substance such as vomit, mucous or other fluids such as saliva have been inhaled into the lungs. This obviously applies to external contaminants such as chemicals. This can effect young babies who tend to lie on their backs and have not mastered the swallow reflex. Also, toddlers, who play with miniature toys, or sweets, are also at risk and there have been cases where the epiglottis has failed to block their entry into the lungs leading to inflammation and infection. The elderly also are at risk through ill fitting dentures and poor dental health that minimises the amount of chewing of the food in the first place. Because all of the body is working less efficiently, particles of food can be inhaled into the lungs causing an infection.

A chemical inhalant can be extremely damaging in the long term. Apart from the normal inflammation of the alveoli, at the tips of the bronchial tubes, the acidity and reaction of the chemical can also do extensive damage to the lung tissue resulting in permanent damage.

How can you avoid contracting pneumonia?

It is important to boost your immune system to prevent infections, particularly if you are going to be admitted to hospital for an invasive operation. Despite their life-saving capabilities, hospitals are also a thriving incubator for infection and unfortunately most people who are rushed in for an emergency may not be in the best of health.

To me, this is one of the most compelling reasons to eat a healthy diet. It is a form of insurance that should be taken out along with car, house and possibly private health insurance. Many people only begin to eat healthily after the event, when they have been scared into it by a heart attack or a run in with a vicious infection.

The majority of people suffer first and foremost from a compromised immune system, which is why they keep getting repeated infections such as colds. After a relatively short period of time the body becomes more and more vulnerable to more aggressive infections such as pneumonia.

Ensure you are following at least a basic healthy eating plan which should include lots of brightly coloured fruits, such as oranges and apples, and vegetables – particularly dark green leafy kinds such as spinach and broccoli. Do not starve yourself and ensure plenty of variety so that you get the widest possible spread of nutrients.

Cook from Scratch is a habit that we should all get into for life. The effect of processed foods on our immune system is long lasting and particularly for the young who are likely to see the results of our modern diet earlier and earlier in their lives.

We have been running a series in the Food and Cookery Column with plenty of ideas for Cook from Scratch healthy foods: Cook from Scratch to avoid nutritional deficiency

DSC_1207aw

I also recently shared a simple recipe that provides most of your daily nutrients on one plate: Multi-vitamins on a plate

One of the major problems with the elderly is their lack of appetite, which needs to be stimulated with tasty snacks 5 or 6 times a day, and nutrient dense foods such as bananas, rich vegetable soups, pureed vegetables that are easy to absorb and eggs are perfect for this as you can eat slightly less whilst still getting the nutrients. Soft fruits and vegetable juices are perfect, as they are concentrated and easy to digest.

For children who are picky and will not eat their fruit and vegetables you can make smoothies with vegetables and fruit and pureed soups that hide the fact they are eating Brussel sprouts.

What else should you do to avoid contagion?

  • · One of the easiest precautions that you can take to avoid getting a cold or flu that might turn into pneumonia is to wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after contact with other people. Hot water and soap is usually sufficient although there are a number of antibacterial products on the market.
  • · If you have a cold, or flu, use tissues rather than hankies and always throw them away when you have used once. Not very cost effective but it prevents you re-infecting your nasal passages with the bacteria or flu when you blow your nose repeatedly.
  • · If you have a cold, or a person you know has one, then avoid kissing them or touching them with your hands unless you can wash them straight away. It is so easy to touch your mouth and nose and infect yourself within minutes.
  • This particular applies to babies at family gatherings as a simple kiss from a loving relative who has a cold, influenza, a cold sore etc could pass on a deadly infection. Do not be afraid to ban kissing.
  • · If you are a smoker or are in close proximity to one you will find that the alveoli in your lungs are already damaged and therefore susceptible to inflammation and infection. There is only one thing for this and that is to stop smoking and stub out the cigarette of anyone else in your vicinity.
  • · If you are using strong cleaning products always open a window and if possible use a mask. This obviously applies in a work situation where health and safety regulations should be observed stringently. Those of us who colour our own hair should always open the nearest window for example.
  • · If you are in the garden and spraying weeds or using fertiliser do not do so on a windy day and wear a mask over mouth and nose as well as protective clothing. Always hose off boots and clothing outside.

In summary, you need to build your immune system and adopt some simple everyday hygiene standards and it will greatly reduce your risk of contracting this second stage infection.

And if you have a baby or there are young babies in the family, please make sure that it they are protected by having the free vaccinations in this most vulnerable stage of their lives.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you have found the post informative…If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.. thanks Sally.