Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up – 14th – 20th March 2021 – Tom Jones, Egg Boxes, Poetry, Stories, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to the round up with posts that you might have missed during the week here on Smorgasbord.

I hope you are doing well.. lots going on in the world as usual, and Europe in particular appears to be struggling to contain Covid with many countries seeing a new wave forming. Unfortunately, as in the case of Paris.. giving the population even a few hours notice means that millions pack up and leave for rural areas.. but if it is a hotbed of infection that   increases the spread of the disease further across the country. I know it sounds draconian but I don’t think you should announce there is going to be a lockdown in 12hours or three days. You just do it and stop anyone leaving. It would also stop the idiots who decide to throw a massive party the night before lockdown because of the restrictions coming in to force the next morning… The virus is not going to wait until the next morning to infect you.. it is an opportunist and will be very happy to join the party…Sounds like a recipe for disaster…

Ignore me I am just being a grumpy old woman this morning.

We have had a few days of sunshine and I have been sitting in the garden in the afternoons with my reader and enjoying living in another world.. that is the great thing about fantasy of all kinds, although kind of disturbing when you prefer the fantasy world to the one you currently live in!  Apparently it will be a little cloudier in coming days but I hope to be able to sneak out for an hour or two.

And, I am so much luckier than many by having a garden to sit in and for us both to be in good health.. More or less as my knee dislocated two weeks ago.. it does that when it gets tetchy as I am missing a ligament.. however it pops back nicely.  This time I was over compensating as I hobbled around using a stick, and this irritated my other hip and then my back went out in sympathy. I was pretty much immobile for the last 10 days but improving daily.This is not the first time and won’t be the last and it is mainly due to me not being able to swim everyday in a weightless environment, which keeps the necessary muscles tight and supportive.

Once the swimming pools reopen I will get back to it, despite my reluctance to be seen in public in a bathing suit and the necessity to wear a bathing cap that is dreadfully unflattering, and to my mind pretty useless at stopping hair clogging the outlets or spreading unsavoury particles. Especially when you think some men are extremely hairy all over including beards etc, and have far more follicles that I do on my head… perhaps they should be wearing an all in one rubber suit in the pool or clingfilm….now there’s a vision!

As always I am hugely grateful to William Price King, Debby Gies and Carol Taylor for sharing their love of music, humour and the environment with us.

I know that many of you already know that Debby’s husband has been diagnosed with advanced cancer and is now home with her. Whilst her focus in on G’s care and well-being, Debby is still visiting blogs, share posts and connecting with her friends in the writing community when she has some time to spare. Very important to have that small window of outside interaction when you are a full-time carer. You can read her latest update and I know she would welcome your comments – Update blogging, health and wellness 

Debby would like the funnies that we collaborate on to continue, so I will be raiding the archives here and on her Facebook for upcoming posts and they will go out as usual on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Debby is working on her next Realm of Relationship Column  but rather than have the pressure of a deadline, we thought we might share the first posts of the series which began in January 2020 every Monday to bring new readers to the blog up to speed. They start on March 29th.

I think that is us up to date… so on with the week’s posts.

– The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1965 Part One

Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen – #Crumpets, #Baking Soda, #Minced Garlic and Egg Boxes uses. 

– A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Five – The Dapperman 

Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 216 – #shadorma – Mother Earth 

#Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach 

Past Book Reviews 2020 – The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova 

Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Thriller – The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke 

Sunday 14th March 2021 – #Interview D.Wallace Peach, #Reading Robbie Cheadle, #RoundUp Carol Taylor 

#ReaderPeeves Anner R. Allen, #Reviewing The Story Reading Ape,#Bookoffer Andrew Joyce.. 

#Interview D.G.Kaye and M.J. Mallon, #IOW Stevie Turner, #Funnies Marcia Meara 

Thursday March 18th 2021 #Audiobook Annie Chiappetta, #Reblogging Hugh Roberts, #Indiancookery Sowmya’s Spicy Corner 

#FREE Book Marketing Opportunities 2021 – Making the most of your promotion  

Recent reviews – #Wolves Elizabeth Jade, #Bees Paul Noel 

New Authors on the Shelves – #Poetry – Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis 

#Memoir – Arranging a Dream by J.Q. Rose 

#Poetry – Midnight Haiku: : A Year in Contemplation by Sue Vincent 

#Paranormal Marcia Meara, #Supernatural Adele Marie Park, #Poetry Harmony Kent, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll. 

-#SocialMedia – The Importance of Rules and Regulations and Why We Should Follow Them by Patty L. Fletcher 

-#Grief: Collective Underpinnings In Sudden Loss and Importance of One’s Personal Journey. LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW 

– #Life #1960s A Birthday Reflection by Gwen M. Plano 

Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Ten – Anti-Aging- Keeping the Brain Young  

What causes your Cravings? – Part One – Dehydration 

March 16th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Hippos and Doctor one liners 

March 18th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Pants and Chimp Wisdom 

Mid-week boost – More humour from the family….Ketchup and Catfish 

March 19th 2021 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Marriage Alphabet and Anesthesiology 

 

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

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden- Spring: Chapter Six – The Magic Garden Comes to Life by Sally Cronin


Yesterday The court got to grips with the workings of their new home and as luggage space had been restricted on their flight from Spain, the services of The Dapperman were engaged to provide everyone new clothes.

Spring – Chapter Six – The Magic Garden Comes to Life

Image ©Tales from the Irish Garden

A month after the arrival of Queen Filigree and her court, springtime had brought magnificent colour and creatures to the magic garden. However, there was still sadness in the heart of its queen as she had lived in her previous magnolia tree palace for over 700 years. She had been married twice in that time. Once for over 450 years to a tall and dashing king who had made her heart sing. But he had fallen for one of her ladies-in-waiting and, after fifty years in exile, had been banished to the world of humans.

The Queen in those fifty years had been romanced by many who were keen to be king of her magic palace and its riches, but only one had captured her heart. A blonde and very handsome prince who was some years younger and who had the singing voice of a lark. They had married one summer and had been blissfully happy for twenty years until one day, completely out of the blue, her king had been struck down by a bite from a mosquito and had never recovered. Her majesty had been heartbroken but she was still a young woman, as far as fairy queens go. She yearned to find someone to dance and laugh with and to kiss beneath the glittering firefly chandelier.

Apart from this lack of male attention, she had to admit that their move to this green and welcoming island had been for the best. Despite missing some of the refinements of her palace in Spain, she appreciated that those had taken place during her 700 years on the throne. There was no reason why she could not bring some of those niceties to this palace in time. Income was beginning to pick up from sales of the very special honey that was being produced by the Queen Bee and her subjects. A local amber nectar brewery had commissioned a barrel a month to add to one of their special brews for the coming summer festivals they so loved here. A barrel of honey took a great deal of bees and time to produce, but the income would keep the court in food and necessities for an entire year.

The people were a delight too, and she was particularly fond of the Storyteller whose life had also held sorrow. He was reluctant to talk about his family but she sensed that one day he would share what was troubling him. He had been so generous and clearly she and her court filled a void in his life; which brought her joy. And as for the Dapperman, he was a positive gift for any woman of taste, and she delighted in her new wardrobe of such exquisite design and colour.

The Storyteller assured her that the magic garden that surrounded the magnolia tree was completely safe to venture forth into, and with the warmer weather of late spring, Queen Filigree found herself in a wild part of the garden with the scent of roses perfuming the air. She sat on top of a broad headed mushroom by some old steps; guarded by her faithful eagles who attended her whenever she left the safety of the palace. They had flown across from Spain at the wing tips of her carrier goose, and now resided at the top of the palace with the pigeons until needed.

She was wearing one of the new day dresses that had been designed by the Dapperman, and her hair had been freshly styled by her chief lady in waiting. She crossed her legs and admired her new emerald green shoes that matched the silky material of her dress, thinking how sad it was that there was no handsome suitor to admire it.

As the heady scent of the roses filled her nostrils, she closed her eyes and let the rays of the sun fall onto her flawless complexion. Was she really destined to spend the next thousand years of her life alone? Was there anyone in this new and strange land who would be suitable for a woman of her position? Suddenly she sensed that her eagles were moving around in an agitated manner and opened her eyes… She was somewhat reassured that the Storyteller had been adamant that no harm would ever befall any of the court in his magic garden, but something had spooked her guardians.

‘Well now, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes’. With a gasp of outrage, Queen Filigree turned to find herself staring into bright green eyes beneath an unruly mop of red hair. She blushed as she realised that she was staring, but she had to admit the face that went with the eyes and the hair was remarkably handsome.

‘Do you know who you are addressing?’ she demanded haughtily. She was even more annoyed when this was met with very manly laughter, and turned to her guardians who were standing wing to wing in front of their queen.

‘Begone you impudent wretch or I shall set my guardians on you and you won’t be laughing then.’ She crossed her arms and gave the man her most regal glare.

‘Suit yourself darlin’, but I have come a long way to meet you, and the least you could do is invite me down to that palace of yours.’

‘Darlin’, who are you calling darlin’ you ruffian.’ With that Queen Filigree got off the mushroom and began to walk back through the garden with her eagles close at her heel.

From behind her she heard footsteps along the stone path and looked over her shoulder to see the tall stranger following. She had to concede, in his heather coloured linen trousers and fitted tweed jacket he looked like a fine figure of a man, and for a moment she wondered if she had conjured him up when day-dreaming of romance in the sun?

‘Why are you following me you horrid man, go away or I will order my eagles to tear you to pieces.’ Even her eagles looked at her sideways when she uttered this bit of nonsense. They hadn’t picked anything to pieces except their dinner for centuries; relying on their size and wingspan to intimidate.

‘Allow me to introduce myself to your majesty,’ the stranger softened his voice to a rather alluring tone. ‘My name is Prince Ronan, and I have come to pay the respects of my father and mother, King Patrick and Queen Seren of the Kingdom of Sean-Choill in the forest to the south of here.’ With that the prince stopped on the path and waited for the queen to respond.

‘Well why didn’t you say so in the beginning?’ Unexpectedly, the queen felt a little fluttering in her heart at this surprising turn of events.

‘You may follow me and make your formal presentation to the court, but please maintain your distance.’ She had to say, she didn’t appreciate the grin that spread across this impudent prince’s face but, as she turned back to the path, she found herself smiling in anticipation.

Her heart was not the only one that was all of a flutter at the appearance of this strikingly handsome redheaded man, as he crossed the threshold of the palace, and was escorted by the royal guard into the throne room… The queen flounced into the velvet covered seat and crossed one elegant leg over the other. She beckoned to Prince Ronan to approach; waiting for him to drop to one knee in respect… Instead he walked right up to her and took her delicate hand in his own. He grinned at her, winking, as he leant over and kissed the captured palm, before returning it to her lap. Despite the audacity of the man, Filigree had to admit that she had not felt this young in the last 50 years.

He stepped back and stood with his hands behind his back, and once Filigree had regained her composure, she smiled regally and gestured to one of the footmen to bring across a chair to sit on.

‘You may now speak,’ she announced imperiously.

‘Thank you so much your majesty,’ he smiled charmingly. ‘I am here on behalf of my mother Queen Seren, to ask if she and my father might pay a visit next month, when they travel through the magic garden on their way to their summer home in the land of Meath.’

His green eyes stared directly at the queen and she felt a blush rising up from her neck to bring a glow to her cheeks.

‘That would be entirely acceptable, and please convey my pleasure at the prospect of meeting the King and Queen. We would be delighted to accommodate them in the guest chambers and hold a dinner in their honour.’

She gestured to her court social director and rose from the throne. ‘Please accompany Sir Justin to his office where you can discuss the dates and times of arrival and please convey my best wishes to your parents.’

He bowed elegantly, and dismissed, turned and followed Sir Justin out of the throne room.

However, just as he reached the ornately carved doors, Prince Ronan turned and winked at her, causing her to gasp with irritation, tinged with a little bit of excitement. Perhaps it might be time to call in The Dapperman to plan her new wardrobe for the royal visit.

©Sally Cronin 2018

I hope you have enjoyed and will join me tomorrow for more adventures in the magic garden.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – #FREE Book Marketing Opportunities 2021 – Making the most of your promotion Sally Cronin


There are a few things going on in the Cafe and Bookstore and I thought this was a good time to have a recap of existing promotions and some new or revised ones coming up in the next few weeks.

I am always delighted to welcome new authors to the shelves of the cafe and if you are new to the blog then here is the link that tells you what I need from you to create your first promotion.  It also shares some tips on how to get the best from your promotion.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves 2021 – #Free book promotion

For existing authors in the Cafe and you can check Cafe and Bookstore for your entry and if you have changed covers or have a new book recently released that I have missed please email me with the Amazon link to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Authors in the cafe have reviews that are recent within the last six months or have released a new book... this enable me to keep up with the 130 to 150 who are in the cafe at any particular time. I do move authors into another annex and check regularly for reviews or releases after this six month and return them to the main cafe with new events.

If you have a new book being released and have a date for it to be on pre-order or available then please email as soon as possible so I can schedule a new book promotion… sally.cronin@moyhill.com

There will be a weekly news post once a week which will feature five or six authors with recent reviews. Slightly shorter entry but will all the usual links. The reason behind this increased number of authors is to expand the exposure for all those featured.

If you are featured it would be very helpful if you could visit the post and share on your own social media. Not just to spread the news of your own review but to support the other authors in the post. If all of the featured authors share on twitter for example it will promote your books to a much larger potential readership and that makes a huge difference.

For example: If all the authors in the feature share to their followers on Twitter, combined with mine… the post has the potential to reach thousands more potential readers.

On Saturday I posted the new series of share an excerpt which this time around is for previous books. The focus is usually on our latest releases but particularly in the case of a series it is useful to showcase the first book to encourage new readers to start at the beginning. As you can see from this link D. Wallace Peach received 211 views of her post featuring an excerpt from Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1).. which incidentally I am currently reading…

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from a Previous Book- #Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach More stats 211

Also a good book deserves to have time in the spotlight and with new readers comes more recent reviews which is excellent.  You can find the details of how to participate in the post Here

This recently added annex to the Cafe and Bookstore is thriving with new children’s books being added regularly. I know how difficult it is to market any book, but even more so children’s books where you are marketing to adults rather than the intended readership. I am looking forward to adding more books in the coming weeks and if you have children’s books as well as adult books, you can be in both bookshops. There is no time limit on reviews so happy to share as long as they are available on Amazon.. here are the details for adding your books to the reading room..Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room

On March 22nd a new series of Meet the Authors kicks off. Since the last series in June last year another 25 authors have joined the Cafe and Bookstore. This is an opportunity to get to know them and their books a little better. I will also include their blog social media links and it would be great if you could follow them there too.

Once I have featured the new authors I will move onto feature the other authors in the Cafe again with updated bios and books etc so it will be a full bookstore promotion that will take us up to the summer.

As I am in author’s Amazon pages and social media frequently I do see some areas that might benefit from being updated. I know that I often nag you about these points but it does make a difference.

Getting reviews: I know what it is like to get your book out there and reviewed, but sometimes you need to give the process a helping hand.

I buy the books that I review unless it is an author that I have previously read and reviewed who asks me to read an advance copy.

I wish I could read a book of every author in the Cafe and Bookstore and the majority of books that I buy and review are for authors on the shelves and apart from the pleasure of reading their books, it also offers me another opportunity to provide additional support. You can find all my reviews for the last two years at this link: Smorgasbord Book Reviews 2018 2021

Here are a few suggestions on how to obtain reviews within the blogging and social media community.

  • Offer the ebook to beta readers before publication so that there are some reviews as soon as it is available.
  • Check book review sites (many are free) and check the submission information and send the book off to them. For example Rosie Amber Review Team has been established for several years and had an amazing team of authors and readers who review books that are submitted.. Getting a great review from one of the team members is a fantastic boost to your book.
  • Offer your book to members of a group that you are part of – limit it to 3 or 5 free ebooks that you can email to them… if you are not already a member of The Literary Diva’s Library on Facebook do check it out…
  • Approach bloggers who interview authors and share an excerpt from your new book plus offer potential readers the chance to get to know you better.
  • If you are a blogger keep a book page up to date but also at the bottom of appropriate posts you can add a cover of your latest book with the blurb and links to buy.

Author Pages on Amazon and Goodreads

The three key Amazon sites for English language books is your country of origin and then US and UK sites. You can set up your Author pages through Author Central on those three sites so that they are identical.

Not all authors that I check out for recent reviews have an author page at all. When you have multiple books that makes it tougher for readers to find all of them in one place and makes it harder for me to promote them.

This also applies to Goodreads – particularly as readers can post there from any country in the world and also if they have not bought the book (Amazon’s review policy) having received as a beta reader, as a gift or borrowed from a library.  There are quite a few authors in the Cafe who don’t have an author page and again this means it makes it harder to promote the books.

Having a Book Page on your Blog

I have all my books on a page on my blog with links to Amazon and to Goodreads.. I am always surprised when I go to a book page and there is not buy link. I know that many of you like me do not have a monetized blog but I have always shared that link and because I am not actually selling through the blog it has never been questioned. Not having a link to find out more about the book is wasting an excellent marketing opportunity.

At the very least put the Goodreads author page with all the reviews and readers can link to  Amazon to buy the books from there. Here is mine by the way.. wouldn’t want to miss a marketing opportunity!! My books and reviews 2021 

Using a pinned Tweet to promote your books.

I bang this drum repeatedly because it is a free and very useful way to promote your books.

Apart from being the first thing that a new follower to your Twitter will see, it expands your profile and enables you to share your books. They sometimes block external sales links such as Amazon so I have a page on my blog with recent reviews for each book and a link to my UK and US Amazon page. As you can see since I put this up on January 11th it has been shared 320 times. That will be then seen on someone else’s timeline and if they have a few thousand followers it is great exposure.

When I don’t have a new book of my own in the offing I will change the tweet every couple of weeks to showcase the Cafe and Bookstore or a new promotion.

Also when someone retweets a post on the blog or follows me for the first time I will go in and retweet their pinned tweet. If there is not one available it is a wasted opportunity for them to be shared to my followers.

Sharing someone’s pinned tweet is a quick and easy way to say thank you.

Posts from your archives is also a good way to promote your books. Open to all bloggers with some variations to each series, those who are authors have an opportunity to showcase their books and their buy links.. The current series is for posts from the last six months of 2020.. and I am currently scheduling for May with posts but you are more than welcome to participate: : Posts from Your Archives 2021

 

I am usually posting two weeks ahead to keep up to date and this means that I sometimes cannot promote books for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore that are on special offer. To remedy this I am starting a new section to the Blogger Daily that goes out four to five times a week and is therefore more time sensitive for book offers that might only be for a weekend or a week. If you are an author in the cafe.. and you can check your entry here Cafe and Bookstore – email me (sally.cronin@moyhill.com) with the book link on Amazon and the dates that it will be reduced with the price and I will include in the nearest Blogger Daily.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore has been offering authors FREE book promotion for the last five years. With the various promotions each week and average of 25 authors are featured with their new releases, recent reviews, extracts and special promotions such as the Christmas Book Fair. Additionally there is an opportunity to participate in the Meet the Author and Posts from Your Archives…In the last twelve months there have been over 500 promotions shared on the blog and across my social media network of just over 46,000 connections.

It is very much a collaborative effort and I am so grateful to the amazing authors who go out of their way not just to share the promotions they are featured in but others that they visit each week. It does go a long way to make book marketing more effective .

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates -#Reviews – #Poetry Frank Prem, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Writers Harmony Kent More stats 210

It is two years since I posted the Book Marketing series and around 100 authors have requested the pdf copy that I made available.  In the next couple of months I will be updating and reposting the series so expect some more nagging soon!!

Thanks for dropping by and look forward to sharing your books in one of the promotions soon.  Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 216 – #shadorma – Mother Earth by Sally Cronin


For this week’s Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday Challenge 21 – synonyms only I was honoured to select the two prompt words..Eager and Hope..

I have written a shadorma – using the words Impatient and Promise..

Mother Nature

Mother Earth
throws off the mantle
of winter
Impatient
to share her sacred promise
of spring and rebirth.

©Sally Cronin 2021

You still have time to participate in this week’s challenge: Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday Challenge 21 – synonyms only

If you have time to browse my fiction, poetry and non-fiction books and reviews are: Here

 

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome…Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Five – The Dapperman by Sally Cronin


Yesterday The Queen and the court arrived from Spain and spent their first night in the in their new home under the old magnolia tree.

Winter – Chapter Five – The Dapperman – Sally Cronin

The next few days passed in a blur as Queen Filigree, Persephone and Narcissus and the rest of the court settled into their new quarters. Whilst the royal family had managed to bring a good selection of their regal attire on the goose transport, most of the other courtiers and servants had only managed to bring one change of clothing. Clearly this was going to be problem within a short space of time, despite the fact that a site for the new laundry had been found.

At the top of the new palace, next to the pigeon house, was a chamber with a steady supply of dripping rainwater through a gap in the roots. This fed a trough that flowed into large barrels, fashioned from fallen bark from the forest, and waterproofed with moss mixed with heated pine resin. The fairy engineers who had designed this system many years ago for the previous occupants, had also found discarded tin cans in the woods that had been carefully sliced in two lengthways, to provide excellent washing pots.

Since a palace full of smoke is not ideal, the kitchens were also on this level with chimney stacks from the ovens venting the workspace into the open air. Water would be taken from the barrels in large soup pots fashioned by the tinsmiths over the years. It would be heated over fires on a metal trivet alongside the carefully constructed brick ovens. The head laundress would then bring her assistants in to collect the hot water, pouring it into the two half tin cans. The first was for washing clothes with Soapwort, made from flowers collected from the garden, before being rinsed in the second vat of hot water.

Mangles were then used to remove the excess water, before the clothes and linens were set to dry on rods suspended from the ceiling in the warmth of the kitchen.

In Spain in the warm dry climate, the fairies had worn light clothing, and to be honest, some didn’t wear anything at all except for a strategically placed lily petal. But even though it was spring in the Emerald Island, it was very cold for these warm-blooded creatures, and they were now wearing several layers. The trouble was they had brought so little with them that they were now fighting amongst themselves over bits and pieces; quickly becoming threadbare and ragged.

The head laundress requested an audience with the chamberlain, who in turn approached her majesty with the problem. It so happened, that Queen Filigree had extended an invitation to the Storyteller, to join her and her courtiers for a celebration dinner, and it was to be this very night.

Her newly appointed head guardian duly arrived, shrunk to the appropriate size; dressed in his best suit and wearing patent leather dancing shoes. He bowed low to her majesty and then waved forward three wizened old fellows carrying a violin, flute and a lute.

‘Your gracious Majesty I would like to present a small gift towards this evening’s proceedings, since I know you were forced to leave your own stoned band behind.’ With that he pushed the trio in front of him.

‘These are the O’Reilly brothers, Liam, Herbert and Willie and they are here to entertain us through dinner and for dancing if you will permit them.’ He looked at the queen for approval.

Queen Filigree clapped her hands in delight, ordering that the band be brought some amber nectar from the royal beehive, and that they be positioned at the end of the ballroom. Having seen the three brothers happily seated on chairs on the bandstand, she led her honoured guest to the top table to sit at her right hand side. She introduced him to her daughters and they instantly fell under the charm of this eloquent raconteur. He in turn, starved of female company for many a year, twirled his fulsome moustache and made the most of the opportunity.

As they dipped into the first course of roasted cowslip tongues with crispy ants, Queen Filigree mentioned her current problem with the lack of clothing for the rest of the fairies in this much colder climate. The Storyteller listened attentively, and then going slightly against protocol, placed his hand on the forearm of her majesty.

‘I have just the man to help you your majesty and, if you will permit me, I shall make arrangements for him to call tomorrow with his staff of tailors. You will find no better person in the whole of the Emerald Island when it comes to creating attractive but robust clothing for both his elite customers and those who might have less to spend on a suit.’

With that little problem out of the way, the evening proceeded, and in the fashion of those who inhabit the Emerald Island, the Storyteller insisted that every courtier stand up and deliver a piece of verse, a song or a comical anecdote. This indeed was a strange custom, but as the amber nectar flowed, and the courses continued to tickle the palate, each of the queen’s inner circle stood up and delivered their party piece. There was much laughter and good natured ribbing of the participants and Queen Filigree became a little concerned as her own turn rapidly approached.

She stood up from the table and the rowdy crowd immediately went silent. She indicated their special guest and smiled to her audience. ‘Far be it for me to steal just one more moment of anticipation of our honoured guest’s own contribution.’ Pausing for effect she touched the shoulder of her companion. ‘Without further ado, I give you the fabled Storyteller, who I know is going to delight us all with one of his own stories.’

With a flourish of her hand she sat down and applauded as the Storyteller took to his feet.
He stood a little unsteadily for a moment as he adjusted to the amount of amber nectar he had imbibed, and then smiled at his audience.

‘Stop me if you have heard this one before!…’

The following day the Queen was partaking of a long soak in her rose-water scented bath, recovering from the night before. Her head seemed to be ringing in time with the dandelion clocks outside the entrance to the palace; reminding her that she must get her bell master to prevail upon them to only ring between the hours of nine in the morning and ten at night. But, overall she was very happy with her new palace and the surrounding gardens and forest were delightfully green. Since their arrival a week ago there had been an unseasonal dry period, but the local weather expert that had been provided by the Storyteller, warned that a wet front was coming in.

She rang a bluebell by the side of the bath, and her lady of the bath chamber, Brianna, popped in immediately with two large fluffy cottontail drying mitts they had managed to push into the last cases as they fled Spain. They were spun from the moulted underfur of specially bred rabbits, and were soft and absorbent. This reminded her majesty that she needed to start a new breeding programme with the male and female that had been sent ahead with the pigeons. She smiled to herself knowingly, as she surmised that the project might already be well underway.

Dried, dressed for the day and fortified with a glass of beetroot and fennel juice, Queen Filigree glided down to her state room to consult her advisors on the various plans in place to ensure their well-being in this new land. She walked in to find a fashion show in progress, and was taken aback by the lack of ceremony that accompanied her entrance. The cause for this kerfuffle was a little man in a black and green velvet jacket with a tape measure in one hand, and a cushion of gold pins in the other.

‘My dears, that is not the way to walk when wearing knickerbockers. Please stand up straight, knees parallel and toes pointing forward’. With that, the tiny man demonstrated the correct pace and posture to best show off the tweed trousers being modelled by half of the royal council.

Queen Filigree was not used to being ignored and clapped her hands to get the attention of the mannequins.

She regarded the startled faces that turned towards her, and was gratified to see that her chancellor had the grace to look embarrassed. Her advisors all rushed forward bowing and opening a path way to the throne, and the now mollified queen passed gracefully through.

Having seated herself she gestured to the little man and his tape measure to come forward.

‘And who, my fine man, would you be?’ she asked imperiously.

With an elegant bow, and a perfectly extended stockinged leg, the little man made his obeisance to the queen. He rose to stand in front of her with a delighted smile on his round and pink cheeked face.

‘Your Highnessnessness,’ He approached to the steps of the dais. ‘I am the Dapperman, and I have been sent by the Storyteller, with my assistants, to provide your court with the clothing that they will require for our unpredictable and unusually damp weather.’

He ushered forth his three assistants who in turn bent their knees to her majesty, and he introduced them as Leuan, Zane and Freddie. Over their arms they carried piles of brightly coloured clothing of all types, trousers, skirts and dresses with wonderfully tailored tweed jackets and coats.

‘You are welcome Dapperman, as are your assistants.’ Queen Filigree settled down and looked around the room before leaning forward to whisper ‘I am afraid, we do at this moment have limited resources, as our honeycomb banks are depleted until the hive can be rejuvenated by your spring flowers.’

The small man leant forward as far as protocol allowed and whispered back to her. ‘Your majesty, the Storyteller has covered all of this season’s clothes as a welcome gift to your court, and only asks that he be invited to more of your stupendous parties.’

Very relieved that the honey stores would not be depleted any further, the queen signalled for the fashion show to resume, and to summon all the servants that they might also be suitably attired. With a lively jig supplied by her borrowed trio of musicians, the O’Reilly Boys, the next few hours passed in a wonderful blaze of colour and style. Even the Queen retreated behind some discreetly placed shell screens to change into some very fetching tweed wear.

By the end of the day, all the residents of the kingdom, from the chief advisors to the lowliest kitchen maid, had been measured for a wardrobe of warm clothes, some more fashionable than others, but without exception, everyone would now own a pair of waterproof boots and a cape that would cover them from head to toe on rainy days.

The Dapperman appreciated that this was a rush job. He sent his assistants post haste back to his factory on the edge of the forest where a team of experienced seamstresses would whip up the unusually large order, working day and night. Their boss was a generous man and with a hefty advance from the storyteller in his pocket, he ordered Zane to order in some bottles of homemade ginger beer and some brack, the fruit loaf favoured in this neck of the woods.

With her court now due to receive their changes of clothing within a few days, her majesty requested the presence of the Dapperman in her private chambers to look over her diminished wardrobe, and of her daughters, that had been brought from Spain. Aware of the need for respect when measuring his royal patrons, the Dapperman requested that Lady Ellie hold the tape measure under his direction. In all honesty he was quite taken with this exotic creature with jet black hair and a slightly haughty air about her. Her eyes were the deepest green and he had to shake himself to come back to the task in hand.

Queen Filigree and the two princesses sat around a table and consulted the design on display and the swatches of silk and satin. The colours were slightly more muted than those that they were used to in the bright light of Spain, but they were delighted with the vibrancy of the imported silks from the orient. Many hours passed and the Dapperman held court as he sipped amber nectar and nibbled on buttered oatcakes. Seldom had he enjoyed such illustrious clients and he was going to enjoy throwing all his creativity and skill at the project.

As he left, many hours later, he did a little jig and flung his topper into the air. In his pocket was a small but beautifully formed ruby. The queen had been very grateful for the generosity of the Storyteller to her court, but wanted to bear the cost of her finery herself.

There would be something left over, after the new wardrobes had been designed and created, for some beautiful matching shoes for her majesty made from the imported cast-off skin of the slow worm. As the Dapperman skipped through the meadow, towards his factory, he also thought about the emerald linen that was left over from an order last spring that would match the eyes of the exotic Miss Ellie. A gift perhaps, in return for her services this evening, and perhaps it might lead to a thawing of her imperious nature.

©Sally Cronin 2018

I hope you have enjoyed and will join me next Saturday for more adventures in the magic garden.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – March 7th -13th 2021 – Free promotion, Petula Clark, Pigeons, Poetry, Anti-Aging, Frozen Shoulders and humour


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed during the week here on Smorgasbord.

Before I get into the news and posts from the week.. I would like to just to share the link again to Debby Gies post this week in case you missed it. Her husband is in hospital again and as you will read has received some devastating news. Debby is as we know a warrior woman and is advocate and carer for her husband, a challenge under normal circumstances but further complicated by Covid restrictions. Let’s Have A Look – Our Medical System During Covid #Health and #Wellness

For the time being you will not see as much of her as we usually do ( I know how much she supports so many of us in the community). This month’s relationship column has been postponed until April and I am sure that you join me in wishing both Debby and her husband love and strength.

A mixed week on the home front with 100kph winds and lashing rain most of the week and they are still pretty fierce today and it is very cold, even if the sun is shining. I did manage to get out earlier in the week and have a bit of tidy in the garden and check on progress with the annuals.. The hydrangeas seem to be doing well and another six weeks should see all eight of the potted ones back in bloom…

Right outside my window the small clump of primroses has expanded and that too gives me hope that spring might at last be around the corner.

There is a lot of chatter going on in the hedges that surround our garden and by the amount of seed they are getting through I think it is safe to say that as far as they are concerned, despite the weather, there is courting to be done.

There is a new series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore –  Share an Excerpt from a Previous Book starting in April and here is the post that tells you all about it. An opportunity to give an older book a bit of love and certainly useful to share an excerpt from the first book in a series etc. Anyway another bit of free book marketing that will just take a few minutes of your time to participate. Here is an example of how it will look the link: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – #Free #Bookmarketing – Share an Excerpt from a previous books 2021

Coming up on Monday morning is a full list of the current and upcoming promotions for you to take advantage of. Don’t forget it is free and all it takes is a little time to let me know your news… and to help spread the word when it has been promoted.

On my book front, Mary Crowley who is both an author and columnist for The Munster Express not only featured my latest book but wrote a wonderful review.. that was a huge boost to the week. She also kindly put on Goodreads too

Time to get on with the posts from the week.. and as always my thanks to William Price King, Debby Gies for the funnies (posted a couple of weeks ahead) and all of you who provide such amazing support each week for me and those that are promoted in the Cafe.

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1964 Part Two 

A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and The Storyteller

Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land 

#WWII #VichyFrance- Where Irises Never Grow by Paulette Mahurin 

Past Book Reviews 2020 -#Historical #Mystery – A Girl Like You (A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel Book 1) by Michelle Cox 

Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Paranormal – Wake Robin Ridge: Book One by Marcia Meara 

Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 215 Poet’s Choice – #BadgerHexastich – Happiness  

Blogging Kindness by D. Wallace Peach 

#Family Comings and Goings Twenty Years Ago by Elizabeth Merry

Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Spain Chronicles, Part 1 by Darlene Foster 

#Reviews – #Ghost Toni Pike, #FunBus Sue Wickstead 

New Book on the Shelves – Kong and the Magic Jungle (The Adventures of Kong, the Magic Gorilla) by Joyce Murphy 

#Romance #Humour – The Little Ice Cream Shop by the Sea by Lizzie Chantree 

New Book on the Shelves – #Gothic #Supernatural – Wolfe Manor by Adele Marie Park 

New Author on the Shelves – #YA #HisoricalAdventure – Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang 

#Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Thriller Alex Craigie, #Thriller Carol Balawyder 

K.M. Allan, Judith Barrow, Ritu Bhathal, Sandra Cox and James J. Cudney 

Progression of osteoporosis

Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder? 

Part Nine – Anti-Aging and how we face the world 

Monday March 8th 2021 – #Ireland Claire Fullerton, #Podcasts Jan Sikes, #Spirituality Sue Vincent 

Tuesday March 9th 2021 – #Environment Carol Taylor, #Humanity Pete Springer, #Motivation John Howell 

#Interview Judith Barrow, #Reviews D.L. Finn, #History Pat Furstenberg 

Thursday March 11th 2021 – #Humour Craig Boyack, #York A Bit About Britain, #NegativeReviews Jan Sikes, #Release Sue Vincent 

March 9th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Casinos and Grammar one-liners 

March 11th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – KFC and Shepherds 

Open Mic Night – Special Guest Malcolm Allen – A Plethora of humour 

 

Thanks very much for dropping and for your support during the week.. look forward to seeing you again soon…Sally.

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land – Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

Last Sunday The pigeon messengers returned from The Emerald Isle with an offer of a new home for the royal court in the magic garden of The Storyteller…time is running out and now the court has to move, lock, stock and barrel…

Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land

Back at the Palace it was pandemonium, with fairies flying around in a discordant symphony of gossamer wings. Finally, after a day of panic, Queen Filigree ordered her advisors to bring all the members of the court to the ballroom so that she could address them. She also summoned Jacamo the pigeon master, the Queen Bee from the royal hives and Sir Gregory’s chief butterfly messenger; all of whom were essential to the planning of this massive migration to the new land.

‘I want you all to sit down on the chairs provided and close your eyes for a few moments to compose yourselves.’ Queen Filigree looked around the ballroom to make sure all complied with her order. When all the fairies were sitting calmly, she took a deep breath herself, and then issued the following edict.

‘Unfortunately we cannot pack all that we have collected in the last 700 years, and we also cannot transport many of our stone guardians that have guarded our secrets so well.’ The queen heard one or two gasps and ran her eyes over the crowded chamber until she spotted several of her courtiers with their eyes open in dismay.

‘Fairy Nikisha, close your eyes this instant and pay attention.’ Immediately she saw the little blonde fairy’s eyes snap shut again.

Satisfied that she had everyone’s attention she continued. ‘Those guardians that we cannot carry by swan, will be transported north for safety to Prince Zachary’s palace, where one day he will be king. He lives in a safe haven that is protected land, and they will be welcomed there. I charge them with caring for my beloved son and his family for their lifetime.’

Those listening heard the break in their beloved queen’s voice, as she shared this news of their revered guardians. ‘It is with much sadness that I lose their loyalty and wisdom, but we will be taking with us the eagles, who have been our guardians since Roman times, and the Princess Lucinda who came to us from my mother’s kingdom in Anglo.’

Tears were in the queen’s eyes as she took a moment to calm herself. She knew that she had done the best she could for her beloved guardians, and she smiled wryly at the thought that she would even miss that wretched Stoned Band.

‘Now, all of you are to take one silk bag from the corner, and that will be sufficient for some clothes, toiletries, personal mementos, and a honey drink and blueberry muffin for the trip. The Swan Express will be supplying us with Canadian Geese to carry the passengers, and Swan Cobs for the household items such as furniture, linen and gold.’

Queen Filigree clapped her hands. ‘Now, open your eyes all of you, and has anyone got any questions?’

Immediately the Queen Bee lifted one of her furry feet and waved it in the air and began to buzz her question.

‘Your majesty, what about my subjects, and the stores of beeswax and honey, how are they to be transported?’

‘Thank you for asking Queen Bee. You and your hive will be transported in special honey baskets that will be provided by Swan Express. They will be strapped to their most experienced employees, and will leave in two days.’ Satisfied with the solution, the bee queen left to supervise her minions.

The next three days passed in a much more orderly fashion, with treasures taken up from the roots of the magnolia, to waiting swans with capacious saddle bags that were filled to the brim. When they left fully loaded, they also carried a senior courtier, who would organise the unpacking and furnishing of the new palace on the Emerald Island.

With only a day to spare, Jacamo and the queen, released all the non-nesting pigeons into the warm spring air to make their own way. A message had already been sent to the Storyteller who had built a dovecote in the branches of the magnolia tree in preparation for their arrival, and within three days, they were all safely roosting and exploring their new surroundings.

On the last day, a line of Canadian Geese lined up on the grass, as a queue of nervous fairies, clasping silk bags with their treasured possessions, waited to fly up to take their seat along the bird’s broad back. Each was tied on with a thread of spider’s silk and a humming- bird moth moved between them checking they were strapped in and comfortable.

The last goose in the line was reserved for Queen Filigree and her two daughters, with considerably more bags of belongings than those flying in economy. But, as a queen it was important that she meet her new guardian, the Storyteller suitably attired.

With everything loaded, she turned for one last look at the garden that had been her home and kingdom for 700 years, following her arrival as a young bride to the handsome prince.

He was now long banished to the human world for his dishonourable behaviour. However, she had many happy memories of her life here, and she would so miss her guardians in the garden, now departed for her son’s palace. She looked up at the branches at the broad green leaves of the magnolia, and saw the tears that had formed on the tips dripping onto the ground. Her own eyes overflowed and she wiped them away with sorrow.

With a deep sigh she flew up to the broad back of the goose where her throne was tied down with spider silk, ready to receive her royal behind. A humming-bird moth brought her a glass of amber nectar, and a packet of honeycomb mixed with ginger in case she felt airsick during the flight. After thanking the flight attendant, the Queen checked that her two daughters were safely seated behind her, and waved her wand in the air to signal that the goose could take to the air.

The goose did a circuit of the now empty magic garden to check that no fairy had been left behind. With a final wave Queen Filigree said her farewell and settled down for the long flight to her new home.

Two days later, with the aid of a tail wind, the goose carrying Queen Filigree and her daughters, arrived in the garden of the Storyteller. As the now weary bird circled to land, the queen looked down at the greenest garden and woods that she had ever seen. She was used to her garden in Spain, remaining much of the year brown and arid, going months without rain. Even in the winter just past, with little snow, the grass had barely recovered and some of the bushes and shrubs had failed to come to life again in the spring.

This was a very good start, and hope flared in her heart again, as she saw lines of geese on the ground close to the magnolia tree that was to be her new kingdom. It seemed that all had arrived safely, as had the swans now pecking at corn and seed that had been strewn across the emerald grass for the hungry birds by the Storyteller.

He was standing waiting by a small strip of red carpet, dressed in his best suit and with a freshly shaved face. As the queen flew down from the back of the goose onto the carpet, the human shrank down in size and stepped out to meet her.

‘Your majesty,’ the smartly dressed man greeted her warmly. ‘It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to your new kingdom beneath the magnolia, where all your belongings are now safely installed. He waved his hand in the direction of the tree, as her excited subjects and courtiers spilled from the roots, rushing towards their queen in joy. She held out her arms and hugged each one with thanks for their safe delivery, and then turned to their new guardian.

‘Thank you Storyteller for your kind hospitality, and I hope that you will join us in a few days, once we are settled, for a banquet of celebration and in your honour.’ The old man smiled in delight and offered to show the palace chef his extensive kitchen garden, and also the herbs available in his neighbour Summer’s garden.

With the greeting ceremony over, Queen Filigree and her daughters were escorted into her new Palace where she found that her courtiers had been busy overnight preparing the chambers. She asked to see the Queen Bee to make sure that she was satisfied with her new quarters, as they were dependent on the honey for so many of their needs. Happily there was a satisfied and a productive hum coming from the roof of the palace, which had access to the garden and the wonderful array of flowers and greenery surrounding their beautiful new home.

After a simple supper prepared by Chef Marcelle, the queen wandered through the passages and caverns that had been another royal palace many moons ago. She admitted to herself that her predecessors had certainly had great taste, and she loved the throne room with its turquoise lacquered walls and drapes of the most vibrant pink. The throne was covered in a woven cloth that combined the two colours, and as she sat and rested her arms on the carved wood armrests, she gave a sigh of relief.

Her imagination had been running riot for the last few weeks, conjuring up every kind of disaster. She slipped from the throne room and down the corridor to her bedchamber, pushing open the door to find a warm glow coming from a roaring fire in a beautifully decorated granite fireplace. Lady Ellie came forward with one of the royal silk nightgowns over her arm, and gently led her over to the separate dressing room to remove her travel crumpled clothing. Before she placed the featherlight nightgown over her majesty’s head, Lady Ellie gently washed her body with a soft natural sea sponge dipped in warm water. Filled with minerals, not only was the dirt removed but the queen’s body was infused with nutrients to aid restful sleep.

Within moments of her head hitting the silk pillows, gentle snores could be heard and Lady Ellie quietly let herself out of the door and into the corridor. The palace was silent as the courtiers and servants slept soundly, content with their new home. All that could be heard was the gentle buzzing from the beehives in the roof and cooing of the messenger birds.

©Sally Cronin 2018

I hope you have enjoyed and will join me tomorrow as the court settles in to their new home in the magic garden.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

 

Smorgasbord Health Column Revisited – Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder? by Sally Cronin


Since I have had a couple of emails about this issue in the last few weeks, here is my post from 2019..

One of the common health complaints that would be noted on the questionnaire that I asked clients to complete when they came to see me, was chronic shoulder pain. Then when I was 52 years old I developed the same problem in my right shoulder that lasted 18 months and was very difficult to manage. I did go to the doctor who told me that I had obviously strained a muscle and to rest it and take painkillers. Not something I was keen on. So I decided to find out other treatments. I discovered that both man and women were suffering the same pain around the same age. It could not be a coincidence.

Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can occur in adulthood and the simplest explanation is that it is the result of wear and tear. It usually effects the shoulder of the dominant hand and arm which makes sense particularly if you are a sportsman, regularly use heavy machinery or over exercise with weights.

However, if you suddenly begin to suffer from pain in your shoulder and upper arm in your early to mid fifties there might also be a number of other factors involved.

Usually the pain will continue for six months and sometimes even up to 18 months or two years. Whilst I am going to look at why it is likely to happen in the first place it is also interesting to note, that like many symptoms associated with both male and female menopause, a frozen shoulder usually recovers naturally, as the body re-balances itself in the two years following the reduction in hormones.

There are some other conditions that might have a link the condition. For example up to 20% of diabetics will suffer from a frozen shoulder at some point. Other diseases include Parkinson’s disease and heart problems. This why it is very important that you do have the pain investigated by your GP to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition.

Hormones and Collagen

Between the ages of 45 to 55 there is a natural reduction in the hormone oestrogen in women and testosterone in men. Both these hormones are involved in the production of collagen which is a major component of our skin. Obviously, the first thing we will notice is that we begin to have a few more wrinkles and our skin tone will thicken slightly. However, collagen is also the main component of ligaments and other soft tissues associated with our joints including the shoulder. Collagen production slows down from around 35 years onwards and as hormone levels also decrease there will also be a loss of tensile strength in the soft tissue causing instability in the joints.

Ligaments comprise two types of collagen. 90% Type 1 collagen which is very strong and takes around three months to form, 9% Type 2 collagen which is maturing into type 1 and 1% fibroblast cells which produce the collagen in the first place.

This is an ongoing process as with other cell renewal in the body but if some of the essential nutrients required for the process decrease or are eliminated you will experience an overall reduction in collagen, particularly Type 1 which is the strongest and keeps the joint stable.

Collagen is also the main component of two other connective materials. Tendons that connect with muscles to move our bones and Fasciae which connects muscle to muscle.

So as you can see if all three of these collagen based connective tissues are not being maintained there will be compromised joint movement.

(There is no actual evidence to suggest that supplements containing collagen or skincare containing it actually work – any good moisturiser will help keep your skin supple but it is more important to include the essential ingredients in your diet to take care of the soft tissues internally that we cannot see.)

Oestrogen

The three most influencing forms of oestrogen in the female body are: Oestrone, oestradiol and oestriol with oestradiol being the one that decreases the most after menopause. Women also produce amounts of testosterone but following the menopause serum levels of this have also declined.

There are two interesting points about this – not only are both of these hormones involved in the production of collagen but also cause an overall rise in LDL (low density lipoprotein) and V-LDL (very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. With a corresponding decline in HDL (high density lipoprotein) considered to be the healthier of the three. This is significant when I move onto Synovial fluid later in the article.

The second point is that with oestrogen deficiency there is an acceleration in the reduction of bone density with an estimated 3% bone loss per year for about five years dropping to 1% every year after that. The progression can be seen in this photograph.

Progression of osteoporosisCombine loss in collagen strength of the connective tissues attached to porus bone structures and you have increasingly unstable joints such as the shoulder but also knees and hips.

Testosterone

Men obviously have much higher levels of testosterone which is why they have different skin thickness and texture, facial hair etc. But testosterone is also important in stimulating the fibroblast cells to produce collagen. As testosterone declines this will of course result in connective tissue reducing in strength.

Although these hormones do decline they do not disappear completely and it is important that dietary components of all hormones should be considered an essential part of our diet over 40 to ensure that levels are maintained enough to continue to stimulate the replacement of collagen.

What provides the ingredients for hormones?

All hormones require Amino Acids for their production. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present.

The Role of Amino Acids in the body

Amino acids help make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that convey messages in the brain and also hormones like insulin. They are needed for the production of enzymes that activate certain functions within the body and certain types of body fluid and they are essential for the repair and maintenance of organs, glands, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair and nails.

The second very important ingredient to help our bodies maintain healthy hormone levels are Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non-essential as it can be made by the body if the other two fatty acids are present.

The third vital ingredient is the demonic Cholesterol if you strip away all the faffing about by some scientific researchers, various food lobbies and fad diet proponents over the last 30 years, you will come back to the fact that the body needs fats. Cholesterol is composed of various types, some prone to free radical damage which is the result of poor diet and lifestyle and therefore potentially dangerous, but each type actually has a function in the body and I go into that in more detail in the posts which I have linked too.

Basically, eating healthy fats in your diet moderately, is essential – the right fat in natural, unprocessed foods including olive oil, oily fish, proteins, and dairy.

Physical causes for a frozen shoulder.

It is no coincidence that the frozen shoulder is usually on the side of our dominant hand. Make a note of your daily activities and identify if there is one activity in particular that stands out as being repetitive.. This could be texting, driving, playing an energetic game such as squash or tennis, walking the dog and holding the lead with your dominant hand (probably one of the contributory factors to my own frozen shoulder).

If you can change to your other side for those activities then do so, and if not then I suggest that you at least build in rest periods regularly during the day. Later in the post I have a video showing some simple exercises that might help.

Vitamin D

Although called a vitamin -Vitamin D is actually what is called a prohormone produced primarily by an interaction with sunlight and 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin. Molecularly it is more closely aligned with the other hormones that I have already mentioned eg. Estradiol.

The problem is that in the last 20 years we have been recommended to either stay out of the sun or cover ourselves with heavy factor sun-creams. Essential for bone density, hormones and our immune system and brain function, a growing deficiency world wide of this important nutrient is resulting in more cases of rickets in children and other serious diseases. We need around 45 minutes out in sunlight on our forearms and chest area as many days as we can from Spring through to Autumn. Additionally we need to include the few food items that also provide Vitamin D. I have put a link to bone health which outlines the essential ingredients.

Fats v carbohydrate diets.

Over the last 30 years the official advice has been to avoid fats of all kinds with a high carbohydrate diet recommended. The manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and provided us with plenty of artificial alternatives mixed with basically anything that extended shelf life and had a plastic origin. This included trans-fats and dubious sugars that have contributed to increased heart disease and conditions such as diabetes.

This means that those of us in our 50’s and 60’s going into, through and after the menopause may not have consumed as much protein to provide amino acids or healthy fats to maintain our cholesterol or hormone levels.

There are two types of amino acid, essential and non-essential. There are approximately 80 amino acids found in nature but only 20 are necessary for healthy human growth and function. We are made up of protein and we require adequate amounts of amino acids if we are to maintain and repair the very substance that we are made from.

We need to obtain essential amino acids from our diet and our body will produce the nonessential variety on its own if our diet is lacking in the essential type.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-the-body-needs-amino-acids-by-sally-cronin/

Refined sugars and acidic environment in the body.

Apart from the sugars produced from a mainly carbohydrate diet, particularly white carbohydrates, we have also been consuming high levels of refined sugars in the form of processed food which have been more readily available in the last 10 years. Sugars and the additives in food create an acidic environment in the body that results in raised cholesterol levels, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and hormone imbalance. It also contributes to the oxidising of LDL cholesterol which turns it into a harmful rather than beneficial substance in our bloodstream.

Currently there is a push to put everyone over the age of 50 onto Statins for life. This medication is designed to reduce the LDL (oxidised LDL the more harmful type) but actually reduces total cholesterol levels. So added to naturally reducing hormone levels there is the reduction in the basic ingredient needed to make them in the first place.

Long term Statin use data will not be available for at least another 30 years. One of the side effects of this reduction in cholesterol in men and women who do not have elevated levels is a reduction of essential hormones earlier and an increase in connective tissue and joint problems amongst other side effects.

Back to the frozen shoulder

To summarise:-

The decline in hormones oestrogen and testosterone in both men and women will effect the production and maintenance of collagen the main component of soft tissue material such as ligaments, tendons and also our bone density. All of which is likely to make joints unstable. Our hormone production requires certain nutrients and processes within the body.

A restricted diet will limit the amount of amino acids available to the body and it will impact the production of collagen.

Vitamin D is essential for many functions within the body including bone density, immune function and other hormone reliant processes. It is primarily produced by the interaction of direct sunlight on our skin for at least 45 minutes a day. Over the last 20 years we have been told to stay out of the sun or wear high factor sun blocks.

Healthy fats are an essential ingredient for the manufacture of our hormones yet for the last 30 years we have been encouraged to consume a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.

Refined sugars in our diet cause an imbalance in hormones which in turn disrupts their various functions including soft tissue production.

Alternative therapies to help treat the pain of frozen shoulder – Acupuncture

One of the most effective treatments that I have experienced for both my knee problem which is ligament damage, and a frozen shoulder is acupuncture.

Acupuncture is believed to be Chinese in origin, although there is evidence that it might have been used nearly 5000 years ago in India. It is certainly one of the oldest and most respected medical procedures in use in the world. Not only for humans, but also our household pets, farm animals, race horses and exotic animals in zoos are being treated with acupuncture for many different ailments.

There is evidence that suggests that acupuncture has been used for at least 2000 years to treat frozen shoulder and surprisingly the point in the body stimulated by needles to ease the pain of a frozen shoulder is a just below the outside of the knee… Usually treatment can taken up to ten weeks.

You can find out more about acupuncture in my post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/smorgasbord-health-column-ancient-healing-therapies-acupuncture/

Exercises to ease a frozen shoulder

Here are some simple exercises that you can do during the day from time to time to ease the pain. Thanks to Upright Health

MEDICAL TREATMENTS FOR FROZEN SHOULDER.

Nonsurgical Treatment

As I mentioned in the beginning most shoulder pain will naturally decrease over a period of 6 to 18 months. Doctors will usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatories although long term use of these is not good for your general health. Usually aspirin or ibuprofen which do have short and long term side effects.

Cortisone injections directly into the shoulder joint can bring relief but it the problem is associated with the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder then this may not be effective.

Physical therapy does help – there are exercises that can help restore motion to the joint. I found the most effective was a combination of deep massage to the shoulder, joint and upper arm with white Tiger Balm and acupuncture.

Surgical Treatment

If time and the basic treatments do not relief the pain then you may have to discuss surgical options with your doctor. These usually involve manipulating the joint under anesthetic forcing the soft tissue to stretch or even tear. Arthroscopy is a procedure where the soft tissue capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint is cut through to release the tension. Both these procedures may be combined.

You will need physical therapy following the surgery and recovery can take between six weeks and three months.

Nutritional recommendations.

If you have been reading my posts you will know that I advocate a diet comprising any fresh produce you like. Lots of vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, fruit, fluids and dependent on age varying amounts of wholegrains.

I recommend if possible reducing the consumption of processed pre-prepared foods to about 20% which means that 80% is prepared from scratch.

The best food sources of amino acids are dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, soybeans, quinoa, nuts and seeds

Eat healthy fats in oily fish, grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, walnuts and almonds.

Take in sufficient vitamin C in vegetables and fruit to improve your soft tissue health and collagen production.

If you live in the northern hemisphere and cannot get consistent exposure to sunshine between May and October, make sure that the foods that contain Vitamin D such as eggs broccoli, strawberries, nuts, avocado, dairy and particular Vitamin D3 in fish oils are part of your diet. This will up your intake of Vitamin E in certain foods which is essential for healthy collagen.

Vitamin D is one of the supplements that I recommend during the winter months that may make a difference to not just your soft tissue health but bones and immune system.

Keep hydrated. As we age are skin becomes dry on the surface but this also applies internally I drink a glass of coconut water every day with green and herbal teas and plenty of water. I find turmeric tea helpful for inflammation and for a reduction in pain and also drink chamomile which is calming and lemon and ginger to boost the immune system.

©sallycronin 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: My books and reviews 2021

 

Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 215 Poet’s Choice – #BadgerHexastich – Happiness by Sally Cronin


This week Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday Challenge 215 – Poet’s Choice  and I have created a double Badger Hexastich.. if that is permissible…

Badger Hexastich – Happiness

Wishing
your life away
delaying happiness
until whims are fulfilled
wastes time that is
precious
Living
in the moment
and fully embracing
all the gifts you have now
brings true riches
and joy.

©Sally Cronin 2021

You can still participate in this week’s challenge..Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday Challenge 215 – Poet’s Choice 

 

If you have time to browse my fiction, poetry and non-fiction books and reviews are: Here

 

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome…Sally.

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Three – A Place of Sanctuary by Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

Yesterday Queen Filigree sent out New Year’s greetings by feathered messengers to family and friends to try and find a place of safety for the court. These are stories for ages 10 to 100+

Winter: A Place of Sanctuary

The magic garden was bordered by ancient forests, and during the frozen years the surrounding farms and villagers had been protected by the cloud of pollen produced by the trees, in response to the threat from the Winter Fairy. Life had gone on as it had for centuries, but it was with great relief for all who lived around the woods, that there was now a warm breath of spring in the air.

Most of the old-timers knew the Storyteller, and had been grateful for his intervention over the years during times of hardship. He was a kind old man and despite suffering tragedies of his own, he had never turned down a request for help. When news arrived of the lifting of the curse, villagers packed up baskets of food and fruit, taking the paths through the forest to welcome him back from his imprisonment.

To the south of the forest that bordered the Storyteller’s garden, was a cottage on a small plot of land with a pretty flower borders and vegetable patch. A widow and her children had returned to her family home last year when her father had passed on. The mother was a healer, growing many herbs that she made into essences, and sold to the villagers who would come to her door. The village was too remote to have its own doctor, and she was welcomed home from the city with her children with open arms. Along with her healing gifts, the mother, whose name was Summer, was also of royal fairy blood. Many hundreds of years ago there had been a love affair between a farmer’s daughter and a fairy king who had fallen for her red-haired beauty. Although through the years, that magical connection had been diluted, it was still powerful enough to give Summer the ability to work with nature, and understand the language of animals. She was not sure if this gift had passed to any of her three children, but she had a feeling she was just about to find out.

Summer looked out across her vibrantly coloured spring garden and smiled in satisfaction at the vivid green patch of herbs. She searched for her two sons and daughter; catching sight of them standing by the door to the garden shed, and wondered what they were looking at.

The three young observers peered into the dim depths of the shed, and the eldest, who was no longer a child, but a young man, placed a protective arm across the shoulders of his younger brother and sister. They had come to collect wood for the stove in their living-room, and having opened the door, had been startled by the sight before them.

After a moment or two Alexander realised that their visitor was not going to bring harm to Jonathan and Savannah, and the three of them quietly eased into the gloom.

Gently they moved towards their guest who looked at them with weary and bewildered eyes. As they drew closer, Savannah suddenly smiled and reached out her hand to the bedraggled speckled bird with his winged legs. Without hesitation the pigeon hopped from his perch on a wooden coat peg, and sat cupped in the young girl’s hands. Just then there was a rustling noise in the corner of the floor, and as their eyes became accustomed to the poor light, they saw two more black-and-white birds huddled together on top of an old basket of logs.

At first, Alexander wondered how the birds had managed to get into the shed, but then noticed that the small window had been blown open by the recent high winds. Luckily for these weary travellers; who would have surely died if they had not found this small sanctuary.

Jonathan ran inside to find his mother whilst his brother and sister waited with the weary visitors.

Alexander watched as Savannah raised the black and white speckled bird towards her face; it seemed to be whispering a message in his young sister’s ear. A few minutes later their brother returned with their intrigued mother, a shallow dish of fresh water and some bird seed that was put out every day for their own garden birds. The three pigeons clustered around the welcome food and water, and the family backed away leaving the birds to their meal.

As they sat around their kitchen table with mugs of hot chocolate and cookies, Alexander asked Savannah if the bird had really been talking to her, and if so what had it said.

The young girl’s eyes lit up and she beamed at her mother and brothers. ‘He told me that they are fairy messengers sent from a Spanish queen, and were blown off course by the storm. A rescue party will be sent out to guide them home, and we must look out for a butterfly that will be searching for them.’ Savannah who had always believed in fairies and magic, wriggled in her seat in excitement. ‘The pigeon said that he could tell that I would understand him as I was clearly very special.’

Summer smiled at her youngest child and was delighted to know that her gifts had been passed onto her lovely red-haired daughter.

Throughout the next day, the new young guardians of the magic pigeons, checked on their well-being several times. Within hours the birds looked stronger, and even came out on the roof of the shed to sit in the winter sunshine and fresh Irish air.

In the late afternoon, Jonathan came rushing into the kitchen waving his arms and twirling in excitement. ‘It’s here, it’s here,’ he shouted in delight. The whole family rushed out of the back door and sure enough, perched on the wall of the garage was a brightly coloured butterfly.

Savannah stood beneath the creature and stared up into its eyes. It fluttered its wings in understanding, and as the three children walked away across to the garden shed it followed gracefully in their wake.

Respectfully the family stood back as the butterfly entered the shed, and after a few minutes they returned to the warmth of the kitchen to observe through the window. The pigeons flew out of the shelter and perched on the garden wall next to the house. One of the birds fluttered onto the wooden gate and stared into the kitchen; nodding his head several times. The two brothers looked at their sister who smiled happily.

‘He says that the butterfly will guide them home now that the winds have dropped, and they will be home safely in two days,’ Savannah cocked her head to one side as she absorbed more of the bird’s message.

‘Our home is now protected by fairy magic and we are officially appointed as a Royal Pigeon guest house to be used on long journeys across this part of the world.’

She turned to her mother who stood watching this interaction with delight. ‘Mother, the pigeon says that he is breaking protocol,’ she shook her head at the word, but her mother nodded in understanding.

‘He is carrying an important message from his queen, but we would not understand the fairy writing so he has to break his bond and utter the words. His queen and her court are in danger, and she is looking for a new home, and he wondered if we might know of a safe place where she could bring her court to live?’

Her mother thought for a few minutes and then smiled. She nodded her head and beckoned the children to follow her to the end of the garden and through a gate that suddenly appeared in the hedge. The children stared at their mother, but she just laughed and told them to follow her along the path through the forest. High above them the canopy of trees sparkled as the spring sunlight filtered through them to light their way. The three pigeons and the butterfly flew from branch to branch as they watched their new friends walk swiftly through the trees, until they entered the brightness of the day again.

The pigeons and the special envoy lined up on a branch of an old oak tree and stared in wonder at the emerald jewel before them. Hedges of brilliance surrounded a garden full of bushes, budding with gems of purple and rose. There was a fountain in the middle of a lush and wild field, gushing sweet water that flowed over its brim and onto snowdrops and bluebells surrounding its base. Fruit trees gathered in an abundance of blossom to the side of a stone cottage, standing proud in the middle of the land.

But the queen’s messenger’s eyes settled on the most wondrous sight of all. A tall and ancient magnolia tree grew by the side of the house, with large pink buds just waiting to burst into beautiful blossoms. It was a fairy tree, and the pigeons knew that beneath its strong trunk, lay a wonder of roots that arched into chambers fit for a queen. Summer and her children walked hand in hand across the lush grass towards the house, and as they did so, the back door opened, and the Storyteller emerged to greet them. The pigeons and butterfly followed and perched on a limb of the magnolia, observing the humans as they talked. The Storyteller approached and looked up at them and immediately spoke to them in their own language.

‘You are welcome to my land which has been released from the curse of the Winter Fairy. There once lived a mighty Fairy King and his court in the palace beneath this tree, but he left for warmer climes 100 years ago. Please convey my best wishes to your queen, and tell her that she is free to come and share this garden with me for all time. I am the guardian of the land and will remain so for many hundreds of years to come.’

The pigeons and their companion fluttered down to the Storyteller’s outstretched hands, sitting there for a moment or two, absorbing his essence. Finally satisfied, the butterfly flew away, followed by the birds who circled the house several times, imprinting the location before winging their way back to Spain with this wonderful news.

Two days later a very happy Jacamo carried a wicker basket down from the garden to the pigeon loft where he and Queen Filigree fussed over their beloved birds. They listened to the story of their adventure, and learned about the three special rescuers, and the offer of a new home in the Emerald Island. At first the queen was a little bit doubtful, since it had been the home of their arch enemy the Winter Fairy. However, she had heard from one of the southern realms that he was now grounded for all eternity in a sand covered desert and no longer a threat.

She called a special meeting of the council, and plans were drawn up to move the contents of the palace, and as many of the guardians from the garden, to their new home as quickly as possible. The deadline for the new owner to begin the destruction of the house was only a week away and there was no time to waste.

A few days later as the children played in their overgrown garden in the Emerald Island, one of their new black and white feathered friends arrived, carrying a personal note of thanks, written on gossamer silk paper and infused with magic so that they could read it. They dashed inside to their mother as she prepared their evening meal, excitedly relating the news that the royal court of Magia was on its way by swan express and would be here in the next two days.

Summer and the children hurriedly made their way through the forest to inform the Storyteller of the imminent arrival of the Spanish court, and to help prepare the palace for its new occupants.

©Sally Cronin 2018…

I hope you have enjoyed and will join me next week as the Spanish court packs up their treasures and mounts the evacuation of their home.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021