Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up – Waterford Castle, Romance, Great Food, Music and a few Laffs.


Welcome to the weekly round up and I have been off on a jaunt this week. As a birthday treat we went down to Waterford, which is David’s home town for a couple of days and stayed at the Waterford Castle Hotel on its own private Island.

You reach the island by a chain link ferry which only takes two minutes and runs every 15 minutes during the day and 30 minutes at night. We had a suite overlooking the magnificent gardens and all the rooms have wonderful features introduced over the long history of the castle. Such as this fireplace with a Wedgewood insert.

History of Wateford Castle

Throughout the centuries, the Island’s strategic location, in a pivotal position near Waterford City, brought it historical fame playing a major role in the history of the region.

From the 6th century settlement of Monks to the Vikings in the 9th – 11th Centuries. Followed by Norman Invasion of 1170 were Maurice Fitzgerald became the potentate of the Island and the Fitzgerald family legacy lasted for over 800 years.

You can download the full history of the castle
Click here to download our History brochure.

The food was wonderful and we ate in their award winning restaurant on the first night – freshly sourced produce, deliciously prepared. The service was brilliant and it was a meal to remember. We were treated to some live music in the form of a talented pianist and each course was much appreciated. Certainly a stunning venue for a Wedding.

The next day we had a wonderful breakfast (great poached eggs) in an atrium overlooking the gardens, with some of the wildlife in attendance. Including a red squirrel, unusual to find in Ireland but clearly the grey squirrels who decimated the red population have not learnt to use the ferry to get to the island. As we walked to the car park, we also encountered to deer intent of feasting on the new crocus shoots.

We spent the day touring the coast and revisiting some of David’s childhood and teen haunts as well as the cottage, right on Woodstown beach where Geoff Cronin (you might have read his memoirs here) grew up. Also Dunmore and Tramore, holiday spots in the summer when the family lived in the centre of Waterford.

That afternoon we went in to the city and checked out the regeneration that took place in the 1990s up to the present day. We had a birthday tea in The Vintage Parlour Tea Rooms and I had the best Victoria sponge I have ever eaten… with fresh cream… and David had a delicious piece of apple tart. Fortified with a couple of cups (porcelain) of tea, we explored the local estate agents with a view to moving to Waterford once we sell our house here in Wexford next spring (or sooner). Certainly Waterford is on the list of options as the city has great facilities and is close to some stunning coastline.

We ended the day with dinner at The Bodega Mediterranean Restaurant and I can highly recommend, especially the monkfish scampi starter. The  food, atmosphere and service was excellent and brought back happy memories of our years in Madrid.

If you are planning on visiting Ireland I do recommend that you put Waterford on the schedule. If you are travelling with family then I suggest you book one of their lodges which sleep six people and are self-catered, but you can still eat in the restaurant or clubhouse if you wish. There is a golf course, tennis courts and fabulous walks around the island. You are central for the coastline to the south of Wateford towards Cork, and when the new bridge is completed (the longest in Ireland) later this summer, it will be a much faster trip to Dublin.

Now time to catch up with the posts on Smorgasbord you might have missed during the week.

This week Paul Andruss shares part two of his recommendations for early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-with-paul-andruss-this-week-spring-bulbs-part-two-daffodils-narcissus-jonquils/

And on the subject of food…. something from the Thai kitchen of Carol Taylor.. a three course meal that should get Valentine’s evening off to a good start.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-st-valentines-day-thai-three-course-dinner/

A new series of Posts from Your Archives and to kick the series off, one of D.G. Kaye’s heartfelt and heartbreaking – Memoir Bytes where she shares her childhood memories. Details of how you can share previous articles from your archives are in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-memoir-bytes-love-notes-and-other-words-by-d-g-kaye/

This week my guest is author Abbie Taylor who shares her inspiring story as well as some interesting responses to the questions.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-abbie-taylor/

Here is my response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 123

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebro-weekly-poetry-challenge-etheree-romance-by-sally-cronin/

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction this week prompted 99 word stories on the subject of Valentines.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-flash-fiction-challenge-together-forever-by-sally-cronin/

In this week’s music column, I share a song from each of the decades that I have been listening to music… and next Friday I will be sharing the requests that you shared, the songs that you felt were the most romantic.

Now time for the round up of the posts this week that you might have missed.

An extract from Tales from the Irish Garden to celebrate romance. Queen Filigree meets the roguish Prince Ronan.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/tales-from-the-irish-garden-valentines-day-story-the-magic-garden-comes-to-life-by-sally-cronin/

Last year I wrote this post for USA Today Bestselling romance author Jacquie Biggar on keeping the magic of romance alive…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/keeping-the-magic-of-romance-alive-every-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week in the R’s of Life, part two on the subject of relationships, and the impact of a dysfunctional childhood on our ability to connect as adults.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relationships-in-a-modern-world-part-two-adulthood-by-sally-cronin/

I reviewed two books this week.. the first being The Beast Within (Mended Souls Two) by Jacquie Biggar.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-book-reviews-the-beast-within-mended-souls-book-two-by-jacquie-biggar/

And the second book was first book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-book-reviews-mystery-academic-curveball-by-james-j-cudney/

Author Updates and reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-claire-fullerton-darlene-foster-and-angie-dokos/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-jacquie-biggar-clifford-browder-and-christine-campbell/

Many foods have been labelled aphrodisiacs through history, some deservedly so…but they also tend to be highly nutritious and have a positive effect on the whole body and not just the libido.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/smorgasbord-health-column-foods-to-get-you-in-the-mood-for-st-valentines-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week’s chapter looks at the impact of an overgrowth of Candida Albicans on our overall health. The symptoms number around 125, and I included some of the key signs that your gut may have been compromised.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-candida-albicans-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentine-special-you-knows-i-loves-you-right/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentines-day-special-and-a-parrot-with-moves/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your visits this week. Your comments and sharing on your own social media is much appreciated as always. Have a great week and hope to see you again soon.

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Flow River Flow~


Cindy Knoke shares her photos of the Holler where she lives (when not photographing the rest of the world) and they are celebrating the end of a multi-year drought.. The power of the river is clear to see and lovely green pastures to nourish the amazing wildlife in the area.. Fabulous as always.

The Holler is getting hammered by storm after storm. This is the view looking north from our back patio, taken on Valentines Day as The Holler was being hit with the most massive rain storm. You can see raindrops on the lens. My iphone sent me 6 flash-flood warnings in 24 hours.

Here is the lower pasture being chewed up by the little creek which turned into a rapid-filled, raging river. The pasture gate is the white structure in the back left of the photo. It partially collapsed in the onslaught.

The river flows.
It flows to the sea.
Wherever that river goes,
That’s where I want to be.
Flow river flow,
Past the shaded tree.
Go river,
Go, to the sea. (Lyrics: The Byrds)

We hiked along the creek in the pouring rain on Valentines Day. You can see my son by the oxbow, to give you perspective on…

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How does gardening help writing? – Guest Post by, Jemima Pett…


A guest post from children’s author Jemima Pett on the parallels to be drawn between gardening and writing… having spent several hours recently, weeding, trimming and clipping my latest WIP it is a great way to look at it…Head over to the Story Reading Ape and read the rest of the post.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

I was out in the garden picking frosted kale last Sunday morning. Yes, that’s the sort of rock and roll lifestyle I lead. Kale, grown in the garden, picked on a frosty February morning, for the guinea pigs’ breakfast. It takes about five minutes to lose the frostiness, in case you worry about giving my boys frozen food. Frozen veg should not be given to guinea pigs (or any other animal I can think of, save reindeer, maybe).

I only have one kale plant, because I didn’t sow many last year. There’s not much overwintering veg at all, in fact, because last spring I was planning to move house. I’m still planning to move house.

And now the seed catalogues are coming in, and I’m wondering whether to get new ones of my favourite things, like tomatoes, cucumber and carrots, and having deja vu because I’m sure I debated with…

View original post 905 more words

Book cover – Through the Nethergate


Take a look at the cover for Robbie Cheadle’s WIP Through the Nethergate and find out more about the book.

Roberta Writes

Although it will still be a while before Through the Nethergate is ready for publication (I am aiming for early September), I am so excited about the cover that I thought I would share it here and see what you all think of it.

This is the blurb (which will help you understand the relevance of the cover):

Can you destroy evil or is it a manifestation of human behaviour?

Margaret has a unique talent. When any ghost has contact with her it reincarnates and acquires a physical presence and selected human characteristics.

Following the death of Margaret’s parents in a car accident, she goes to live with her grandfather in an ancient inn in the small town of Bungay in East Anglia, England. The cellar of the inn is haunted by the depraved spirit of Hugh Bigod who died in the 12th century and has assumed the form…

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February 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

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For this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge it is all about Valentines… love, hearts and friendship.. But first stop and enjoy Charli Mills post on connection through stories.. it will move you and inspire you.. here is an extract and follow the link for the entire post.

It’s February 14, and I find much to love today. I can imagine that the invisible warm winds lapping at the coast of snow outside my stoop conform to aerodynamic heart-shapes. Why not? The wind is unseen so I can pick how to see it in my mind. Hearts float by and surround me in such an imaginative construct.

Today, I met a Nigerian Prince, and I loved so much about our encounter. He didn’t say he was a prince, but by his demeanor and broad smile I couldn’t help but think he was. The local Rotary Chapter invited me to speak at their weekly luncheon. Not one to miss an opportunity to read and tell stories, I accepted the invitation to be their guest. That’s where I met the Prince.

He wore cloth not from the US — it looked thicker, and held a linen-like weave. It was dark blue, almost like a midnight sky when a full moon casts enough light to give color. Small dots of cream decorated the Prince’s matching shirt and pants. He dressed handsomely and spoke eloquently. Suddenly, I loved Nigerian language. It occurs to me in afterthought that I should have asked him to speak his native tongue.

The Prince spoke clear English, but I noticed he rounded his sounds as if his mouth were an instrument. It made me think how sacred oral communication is, how as people, we take great care to shape sounds into words to give meaning to what we feel inside. And what is that exactly? What is this tug to love so many things — people, ideas, stories, exchanges? Literary art feeds on this impulse of expression.

Mostly, I loved the Prince because he appreciated my stories. Isn’t that the simplest of love stories? He approached with great care and asked if I had my words down in something he could carry. A book. But think about that a minute, because that’s where I’ve been languishing all day, believing heart-shaped wind caresses my snow into melting. He asked to carry my stories back with him. Back to Nigeria.

How could I refuse such a request? Yes, I gave him a copy of Vol. 1, and he requested I write something in it just for him. I’ve not felt so revered as I did with the Prince. Of course, that’s why I thought he had to be royalty. He was magnificent. Further, he told me a story about how he and his friends collect books and how hard it is to take all the volumes back to his country because of weight limits. Image that Nigeria is a place where literacy is so valued that when you return, you try to haul back as many books as you can!

Although I’m less enamored with children, I did love the ones who came with their parents today (something about a half school day). They all wanted to listen to the writer. One listened intently. I could see her listening with her eyes, creating images of the stories her grandmother told at my lunch table. That woman was one to love — a natural-born storyteller who announced to me as she left that she was going to declare herself a buckaroo, too!

How about that? I found a kindred-buckaroo-spirit in the Keweenaw. She and her granddaughter would have understood if I had whispered to them that the winds were blowing hearts today.

During my talk, I read. I love the privilege of working at Carrot Ranch among such talented, tenacious, and courageous writers. Fellow literary artists. I read a few stories from Vol. 1. I read a trio of Copper Country stories for Vol. 2. The audience marveled at the power of 99-word flash and the scope of where writers come from around the world. I love watching people connect with the stories. There’s nothing quite like reading aloud literary art and watching it grab ahold of listeners.

When I talk to audiences, I make sure I know who they are — business or civic-minded, students, or casual listeners looking to be entertained. I select stories to stir their hearts and prod their minds. I have my own 99-word stories I read, and a few I share from my storytelling tradition. Today, I asked for a volunteer to join me up front to hold my hand. I swear I don’t gnash my teeth at people, but you’d think I went feral at the uncomfortable silence that ensued.

I love that uncomfortable silence.

Head over and enjoy the entire post…..thanks Sally

via February 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Waste Not! Want Not! Week 11…

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Time for one of Carol Taylor’s excellent posts on waste… here in Ireland over a certain weight in a year and the charges go up dramatically, it does focus your mind. This week Carol looks at plastics and cigarette butts….

Please follow the link at the end of this snippet to read the post… thanks Sally.

 

Good Morning and my how the weeks fly…Week 11 and every week I come across new exciting projects and it is lovely it is restoring my faith in human nature so many people really do care about the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren.

Here in Asia, much plastic is used it is a hot topic with many initiatives springing up all over the place…A long, long way to go but the signs are good.

Many people holiday abroad and seek out the beaches… BUT and this is where you can help…Are you mindful of how you dispose of your rubbish?… I have witnessed many tourists just leaving the beach and their rubbish with no thought of the environment or who clears up behind them.

What would you rather see this?

 

Or this?

Please if you are on the beach or on a boat dispose of your rubbish correctly.

Would people do it at home? Many do but many don’t!

The tiny little cigarette butt...

Please head over to read the post in full

via Waste Not! Want Not! Week 11…

Living In A Paranormal World

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Have you ever wondered about the work of a paranormal investigator, author Adele Marie Park interviews Jayne Mortimore and asks some great guestions over at The Sisters of the Fey.. do head over and find out more at the end of this extract. Thanks Sally.

Living In A Paranormal World-Part Two
by
Adele Marie Park

In this article, I am talking with Jayne Mortimore who is a paranormal investigator in Paranormal Voice based in the UK. She will give insight into what a paranormal investigator does, why she personally chose to be one and exactly what the dangers are associated with this choice.
Welcome Jayne, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.

Hi Adele.

Can you explain to our readers what a paranormal investigator is, please?

A Paranormal Investigator is someone who investigates, pushes the barriers of research and communication with all types of phenomena. That could be the afterlife, aliens, cryptozoology and any form of supernatural happenings outside of the boundaries of ‘normal’.
For me and the Paranormal Voice team, we choose to study and document the afterlife and especially keen in communication with the Spirit World.

Thank you and how does a paranormal investigator work? What sort of tools do they use?
Assuming we are tools for finding Spirit, there are some which are widely used however, none have given concrete and definitive evidence of the afterlife to say this other realm truly exists. We know it exists but in the eyes of science because it can’t be measured, it can’t be proven.

Head over and read the entire interview…

via Living In A Paranormal World

Something to Think About – Keeping the Magic of Romance Alive Every Day by Sally Cronin


This post appeared on Jacquie Biggar’s website last year. I thought you might like to read again on this day of love and romance….

Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day and I believe that romance is something that infuses every day of a relationship, but if receiving a card, or some roses, reminds someone of how much they are loved, then this is a good day.

My thanks to Jacquie for inviting me to share my views on romance. It is one of the elements of our lives which is universal, and much sort after. People often ask what the secret to a happy relationship is… darned if I know.  All I can offer you is some of the little things I have come to appreciate over the last 50 odd years of dating and relationships. Make that 55 as I had a crush on Peter Birch at primary school age ten which resulted in my first broken heart!

Because many of you who are reading this are writers, I thought you might be interested in a few statistics on the billion-dollar-a-year Romance book industry via Romance Writers

  • The annual total sales of romance novels per year is in excess of a billion dollars.
  • Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market is 34%.
  • 82% of romance readers are women.
  • Average age is 35-39.

What interested me about these statistics is that romance is a hot ticket item. It is also evident that romantic stories are very much sought after by women, but clearly not as high on the list for men. Something that those who feel men are sometimes not as romantic as they might be, would find interesting!

Another statistic is that the average age of those seeking out romance stories is between the ages of 35-39… which begs the question… Do women in their 40s, 50s, 60s give up on romance, or they are simply not catered for by the romance writers?

Like most young girls of my generation, I was infused with the myths surrounding love and romance at an early age. Between fairy tales and my mother’s desire to make the goal of romance clear cut in my mind, I surmised that at some point a Prince Charming, on a white horse, would sweep into my life, whisk me off my feet, and we would ride off into a future of bliss, children and Happy Ever After.

I was encouraged to take the available wisdom to heart, and with hopes and dreams of my own, embarked on my own dating adventures. The trouble with ingrained expectations is that they are not always as revered by others, particularly the opposite sex.

However, after some false starts, at the age of 20, a more mature Prince Charming of 26 did arrive, in uniform and driving a classic American sports car. It seemed that expectations had been met and exceeded, and it was crowned with a spectacular wedding with matriarchal approval on both sides. We drove off into the sunset with clanging tin cans behind the steed… which proved to be tolling bells of doom!

Trouble is what you see is not always what you get! And when compounded with differing expectations of what a relationship is supposed to be, and a lack of commitment of one of the participants, things tend to fall apart. After four years, some interesting life lessons, and an expensive legal intervention which took three years, I finally managed to extricate myself with a vow to never marry again.

Then wouldn’t you know it, six months later, into my life walked a softly-spoken, unassuming guy who took me out on a date and asked me to marry him before the night was over. Five weeks later, without any ceremony, and with just our parents in attendance, we exchanged rings and our own vows.

The last 39 years have taught me that romance is not one-size fits all, is unique to two people who love each other, and is not always about red roses and chocolates.

Some of the elements that spell romance for me.

As Jeremy Taylor quoted ‘Love is Friendship set on Fire’. Of course there is that initial, and amazing firework display of hormonally induced physical attraction, which then evolves over the years into a familiarity that can still be breathtaking. However, without the essential elements of like-mindedness, shared moral code, sense of humour, and appreciation of another’s unique personality, the fire of romance slowly dies down to embers.

An analogy I often use for romance between two people, is that it is like an extended ballroom dance that flows and whirls with two partners in perfect sync. Always staying within the limits of the dance floor, allowing other styles come into play, with fiery tangos and playful sambas as the tempo of the music changes. Even when there is a momentary loss of connection, there is a coming together again, and the dance always finishes in a firm embrace.

Whilst there may be the occasional extravagant gesture when a special event warrants it, mostly it is the small things that keep romance alive and flourishing.

Red roses are wonderful, and we all love to receive a bouquet on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. But it is the odd flower brought in from the garden and laid on a breakfast tray, a small tree planted in the garden that blossoms every spring, or the paper flower, misshapen and oddly coloured that appears by a bedside, that really help to keep romance alive.

Romance is waking up on every birthday to find cards hand-made from images of sea, sunflowers, cats and dogs, golden sunsets with handwritten verses inside that come from the heart. It is also those few minutes on your wedding anniversary when you sit silently, holding hands and remembering that special day and the people who are no longer there to share the memories with you.

True romance flourishes when you are unwell and scared and a strong hand holds yours and a voice close to your ear, tells you that it will be alright, that you are safe. It is when you suffer a loss and cry together and heal together. It is when you walk through the door and someone says, ‘hi love, how was your day?’

Romance is when the last words before you go to sleep are ‘I love you’

Romance does exist after 39 years old, whatever the statistics might say.

Romance and love go hand in hand, and as I watch very old people together, you can tell the ones who still adore and respect each other. It is easy to still see that spark and twinkle in the eyes, the small touches of a hand or brush of lint from a shoulder. That unity has been welded from years of life, laughter, sadness, joy, disappointment, excitement and love. Thousands of cups of tea, breakfasts in bed, dances in the kitchen, date nights, holding hands in the movies and vigils by a sickbed, have gone into the rich tapestry that is romance. There might be a faded red rose pressed between the pages of a diary, or a diamond ring that comes out on special occasions, but it is these small daily gestures that will have kept the romance alive and will continue to do so long after one or both of them dies.

Romance is also about the things we don’t do in a relationship.

We don’t belittle someone we love in public and then say ‘But you know I love you’.

We don’t bully them and then say we are doing it ‘Because you know I love you.’

We don’t marry who we believe is Prince Charming or the fairy princess, and then set about changing them by saying ‘You know it is because I love you.’

We don’t take the actions of those we love for granted, and saying ‘thank you’ for a meal, a wardrobe full of clean clothes or for being a great mum or dad, goes a long way to keep romance alive.

Romance is not about making someone happy or expecting them to make you happy. Your happiness is your responsibility and choice. Putting the onus for your happiness on someone else is a very quick way to lose them.

I will leave you with one of my favourite poems on romance from Elizabeth Barrett Browning courtesy of The Poem Hunter

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Most of my stories have an element of romance.. and with my latest book, I have even got a Prince Charming (the good kind).

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

All my books in Ebook are available: Amazon UK

And Amazon US: Amazon US

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: Goodreads

Thank you for dropping in today and even if you don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, what is the most romantic gesture you have ever received?

Tales from the Irish Garden – St. Valentine’s Day Story – The Magic Garden Comes to Life by Sally Cronin


In honour of Valentine’s Day and to share the latest review for Tales from the Irish Garden, here is how Queen Filigree found love in the Emerald Isle.

The Magic Garden comes to Life

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 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; with 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 by a mosquito and had never recovered. Her majesty had been heartbroken but she was still a young woman as far as fairy queens go, and 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 newly 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.

‘Be gone 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 behind.

From behind her she heard footsteps along the stone path and looked over her shoulder to see the tall stranger following. She had to admit, 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 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 Dapperman to plan her new dress for the royal visit.

©Tales from the Irish Garden 2018.

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

One of the recent reviews for the book on Amazon Australia.

In the frequently confronting context of contemporary literature, how delightful to be lured into quite another territory and immerse yourself in a fully-fledged fairy story! With royal pigeons lovingly reared over centuries, minute messages written and rolled up on onion paper, the symphony of fairy gossamer wings as fairies dance around in a panic, and diets of quail’s eggs, served on oat and almond bread toast and more, this is indeed a magical feast.

Yet ‘Tales from the Irish Garden’ is far more than a fairy story …

In this stand-alone sequel to her introduction to the magical world of Magia, author Sally Cronin tells the story of Queen Filigree and her court who, obliged to flee their sunny Mediterranean home, seek refuge in the very different landscape of the ‘Emerald Island’. The characters they meet there, and the stories they in turn tell in their quest for personal and collective happiness, deftly hook us in from beginning to end.

Supernatural her characters may be, but they share some very ‘human’ traits – from minor squabbling to dealing with dressing for a cooler climate or the ramifications of property development and building like many of us! Seeing their struggles, their imperfections, and their all too human tendencies is a sobering experience, as we recognise ourselves in them. Thus, the tales function at one level as a myth about the human condition, leaving us that much more self-aware, as well as entertained. In lively and whimsical fashion, the author skilfully blends elements of traditional folklore with a sensitivity to contemporary issues; the result is an enchanting and enriching fictional journey.

The fanciful nature of the story and the sometimes capricious nature of its characters is perfectly complemented by the beautiful illustrations by talented artist Donata Zawadzka.

The author’s flair for story-telling and her innate sense of humour ensures that the book will delight anyone with an imagination, of any age and background.

Read the reviews and buy the book on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

All my books in Ebook are available for Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

About illustrator Donata Zawadzka

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://www.artdonataezawadzka.com
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