Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Josh Groban, Getting to Know Carol Taylor and Barbara Villiers unveiled.

Welcome to the weekly round up and to get you in the mood, I thought I would kick things off with the wonderful new teaser from William Price King and his new musical collaborator, guitarist Manolis. Really looking forward to sharing the full videos with you over the next few months.

It has been a glorious week here up to yesterday, so I have been in the garden.. Fiddling I think it is called… adding some new plants here and there and I have now been banned from going to the garden centre. I keep coming back with the multi-coloured pots that are so much more decorative than the plain brown ones… blues, purples, pinks to complement my colour scheme this year. Trouble is pots need plants!

We are having our lawn laid in the next couple of weeks and if we get a run of dry weather, the wall which is cracked will be repaired and then brand new fencing. We have been in the house two years next month and we knew we had a job on our hands!  Delighted to only have a couple of inside jobs to do and then the house is finished. Hopefully that will not signal itchy feet as we do like a project.

Anyway, in the meantime I have managed to post a few (I know I bend the rules and post too many!) but hopefully out of the collection you will find one or two that are of interest to you. The reason for creating this as a magazine is that it opens it up to several topics and if you would like to see more than the current offerings let me know.

On with the week…..starting with the regular columnists.

William Price King begins a new series about the American singer, songwriter and actor Josh Groban and in the the first post shares this very talented artist’s early years.

Writer in residence Paul Andruss with Part Two of the Barbara Villier’s Story

This week the Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor has rather a different ingredient.. Carol herself as I decided to share her Getting to Know You in her regular spot. She has quite the stories to tell and my advice….. don’t get in a lift with her!!

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview

Delighted to welcome author Lucinda E. Clarke to the blog today, sharing her experiences of life and work in Africa, with some hair raising moments.

Personal Stuff.

I continue my letters to my parents from Texas in 1985, having just celebrated our first July 4th.

The final in my Get Caught Getting Reading month and this week Bernard Cornwell, a long time favourite historical author of mine. I have read all of the Saxon Chronicle so far, but review the first The Last Kingdom.

Another background story to my book Just an Odd Job Girl… and this week a ghost and counting peas in the Steak House part two.

Sally’s Drive Time #Playlist – My 18th Birthday and HMS. Belfast

Another story from my collection Flights of Fancy… Curtains – An old woman recalls her life and reflects on the changing patterns and colours of her bedroom curtains.

And the second story this weekend from the collection features a woman whose marriage has ended and she has escaped to southern Spain to lick her wounds.


A Haiku with image by Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

Author and Financial expert Sharon Marchisello steers us through the complex Cuban currency exchange.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore author update

Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Reviewers

A celebration of the book reviewers who support authors.

Health column

The difference between an allergy and an intolerance and some of the culprit foods.

There is a great deal of research going on around the effects of a Vitamin D deficiency which is linked to autism, brain disease, IBS, and cancer.

Crash dieting does your body no good, in the short or the long term… avoid the blandishments of the magazine headlines and the latest celebrity diet and ease yourself into your swimsuit healthily and nutritionally.

Humour and afternoon videos


Smorgasbord Letters from America 1985-1987 – July 4th Celebrations, Mechanical Bulls and Tennis

We lived in Houston Texas from January 1985 to January 1986 and most weeks I wrote home to my parents about our adventures. We traveled extensively during those two years including to Hawaii as we want to make the most of our time there. We have just celebrated our first July 4th.

6th July 1985

Dear M & D,

Thank you for your letter that arrived today. It’s lovely that you can come out earlier in November which is only 4 months away. Hopefully you will be able to read this letter without trying to decipher my handwriting. David has bought me this typewriter so that I can get on with my short stories and hopefully get them published one day. To be honest I cannot see that happening. It is so difficult to get a publisher to look at anything unless you are Wilbur Smith or Harold Robbins, but who knows what the future holds. In the meantime I shall put it to good use by writing to you.

This week we went over to the Greenspoint Mall to get a good view of the 4th July Firework display. I know that they were very pleased to kick us Brits out 200 years ago, but we didn’t see why we should not sneak into the celebrations and make the most of it. We started off at T.G.I Friday’s… which was the first restaurant we ate in when we arrived here in Houston. We enjoyed a margarita before tucking into some jumbo shrimp (you will love them when you visit…. think size of half a lobster and spicy dipping sauce). We then sat on the bonnet of the car and watched the display… fabulous and must have cost a fortune! I am sure there was more explosives used in the space of an hour than in the entire war effort to get rid of us in 1783.

I have just realised that you will be here for our anniversary which is fantastic. Perhaps we will take you down to the Cowboy bar Gilly’s and get you to ride the mechanical bull, you’ll like that. Not a lot!! However, it is fun to watch everyone else riding it. I lasted 8 seconds last time before being thrown, and I almost won a belt buckle. I must keep practicing. You never know when that sort of skill will come in useful!

I have been baby-sitting for the last week for a young couple who both work and they cannot get their little girl into kindergarten until next week. It is only for three hours a day whilst the mother is at work, and it has been fun. Tracy is a very sweet little girl and loves to have stories read to her. Vicki recommended me to them and they wanted to pay me but I am just happy to help out. I am finding that they have a very strong family and community spirit here which is great and I know if I needed some help it would be offered without asking. Anyway, it is an excuse to make up some more children’s stories.

Vicki and her baby Megan are doing really well and plan to move next week. I shall really miss them and Vicki’s company. But she has introduced me to a lot of people who are very friendly and that will help. Also my English friend Pamela gets back from her trip home next week and we will be back to our weekly lunches out. I must say that everyone that I meet is so friendly and we keep getting invitations for meals etc. We rarely have a weekend when we are not heading out to someone else’s apartment or several people are coming around here for dinner. I am playing tennis now with Debbie after she has finished teaching for the day, and I should soon have a bikini body. The size of the bikini is to be determined!

I am not sure what the weather is going to be like in November but I will check it that out and let you know what clothes you should bring with you. David might be away for a couple of nights whilst you are here, but will leave me the car so that we can go out and explore anyway. If it is raining we can always hit the movies. The cinemas here are massive with much bigger and more comfortable seats than back in England. Hopefully there might be a good western.

David is off to Kansas again this week until Thursday while I carry on canvassing the travel agents for our holiday in September. We both really want to go to Hawaii and with David’s airline loyalty points we should be able to afford to go. We can get some practice in here in the next couple of weeks as the complex is holding a Hawaiian luau, and we are going to be dressing up in grass skirts and lei’s… that’s just the boys!!  They have mentioned something about Trash Can Punch… I will have to investigate that.

Anyway love from us both… take care and look after your strength. You will need it for November.  All our love Sally and David xx

You will find the other Letters from America:

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next week for another of our American adventures.  Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Personal thoughts on the week’s events and Jazz, Tulips, Pork, Reading and the Himalayas

Welcome to the weekly round up and it has been a week of two extremes. The sadness and horror of more young people killed in a place where they should all feel safe in Texas, and the opulence and joy of a royal wedding.

The first is a problem that is not just confined to the United States, as violence and bullying in schools seems to be universal. We keep applying plasters to the symptoms, but do not seem to be able to resolve the underlying root cause of such anger, and the inability to communicate without aggression. I have no answers; only ideas, but surely some of the brightest minds in the world could get together, and come up with some constructive ways to prevent this sort of tragedy from happening in any of our educational establishments.

The royal wedding yesterday was an example of how centuries of tradition and customs that have been passed down within a constitution, can be modified and amended to enable new and more relevant inclusions which work. Proclamations and edicts issued 500 years ago and amendments to constitutions written in 1791 had their relevance in those times. Change is necessary and for those young people that are paying the price for our alleged ‘rights’, it cannot come soon enough. And that applies in the UK where our own capital has now become a murder hotspot, with acid and knives being the weapons of choice.

That change needs to take place not just in schools, and the way that we teach children, but in the home, where the fundamentals of socialisation need to be established by good parenting. How we achieve that will require a massive social and educational shift. I know from experience that there are amazing teachers and parents who inspire, motivate and prepare their pupils and children to enter the world as responsible adults. Many of them are bloggers here on WordPress sharing their expertise and ideas. Sharing their posts with your own readers is a very good start to the change process.

And the most important element for me towards this change, is that we need to stop giving those who perpetuate these acts of violence their 15 minutes of fame, and instead take every opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the millions of young people, who are inspiring and motivating.

Along with the usual videos of music and humour; I am going to share some videos of amazing young people.

I don’t often use my blog as a platform to share my views on politics or other social issues, but today I felt that I could not mention my enjoyment of the royal wedding without paying respect to the young people and their families in Texas, where David and I were so warmly welcomed back in the 1980s.

Now on with this week’s round up of contributors, guests and of course, not forgetting those of you who have kindly been in to like, comment and share.

On that subject, with the GDPR coming into force on the 25th, you will find a note at the end of each post about the subject.

Because of the actions of a few of the large Internet players, we are now all being held responsible for their actions. Our privacy online is a very hot issue. We all know that when we are online and interact with a website, that our data is being collected. With the responsible websites, such as WordPress, this is to ensure the smooth running of the platform.

I have a privacy statement in the menu:

This contains the links to both Jetpack and Automatic who provide services to WordPress, outlining what information is gathered and how it is used.

I have also added my assurances that I will not pass on your information to a third party, or misuse.

I do hope that this new regulation will not result in readers of blogs from leaving feedback on posts. It is one of the fundamental elements of blogging that allows interaction and communication between us all. Something we need more of and not less in this world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my views today… your visit is appreciated and here are the posts from the week you might have missed.

The Music Column with William Price King –

So far on the Music Column this year, William has featured Bono and U2, Madonna, Johnny Mathis and Aretha Franklin. Next week a new series with the music of Josh Groban.

Paul Andruss – The Gardening Column.

Paul Andruss treated us to an extra post this week with the history and varieties of the beautiful Tulip.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor who shares a sure fired way to crisp up that crackling on your roast pork and other fabulous recipes.

The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie

For various reasons we can find ourselves in a reading desert.. too much going on at work, relationships and online! It can be tough to leap back into reading novels.. but Jessica offers hope in how we can revive that reading feeling…..

The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You – Balroop Singh

This week my special guest is author, poet, book reviewer and blogger Balroop Singh.  Balroop is a wonderful supporter of other writers and I have been delighted to share her insightful and constructive reviews for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.


Personal Stuff.

Get Caught Reading Month and another author who has inspired me.. Dorothy Parker was born before her time… and today I share two of her poems and some of her quotations that have inspired me to write.

This week on Odd Jobs and Characters, I share the events that took place when I was in my management training programme with a steak house chain. ‘The Night of The Mouse’ and the aftermath.

Short stories – another from my collection Flights of Fancy.

A woman in a farmhouse on a Welsh hillside offers kindness to another.

Letters From America – 1985 – 1987 – A baby arrives and I meet a new friend at the pool.

Finally Spring has arrived in my garden… some of the colour that has erupted with a few days of sunshine.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlists #Music to get the weekend started.

The last of the request shows… and back to the usual posts next Friday.  This week requests from Jacquie Biggar, John Rieber, Judy E. Martin and Janice Spina

Posts from your Archives – Travel

This week Debby Gies shares her photographs from her cruise to the Caribbean.. and coming back through Canadian Customs.. where they have a special lane.. just for her!

St. Kitts

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

This week Craig Boyack.. C.S. Boyack celebrates the release of his latest book. The Yak Guy Project.

Poet Ali Whitelock introduces us to her latest release – And my heart crumples like a coke can.

A warm welcome to novelist Elle Boca and her Weeia series of novels.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Meet the Reviewers. 

A celebration of those who take the time to review our work and help us sell books.

Cathy Ryan

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Authors in the cafe with recent reviews.

Smorgasbord Health Column

Food in the news… heart and stress – good news for dark chocolate lovers.

Heart health and stress – strategies to help save your life.

Vitamin D is a multi-functional nutrient that we need for some very important reactions with in the body to keep us health and our structure strong.

The next in the series of ancient healing therapies – Acupuncture..

Humour and Afternoon Video

I hope that you have enjoyed the posts this week, and would of course love to hear from you. Thanks Sally

Before I finish I would like to congratulate all the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards that took place in London yesterday. So sorry not to have been there but I hear it was a great day. I was very honoured to have been nominated in the Best Overall Blog Category.

If you would like to find out who the winners are in the various categories you can find them here:

and I will leave the last word to the Kid President 20 things we should say more often.

Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985 – 1987 – A new baby arrives and I meet Debbie around the pool.

We lived in Houston Texas from January 1985 to January 1986 and most weeks I wrote home to my parents about our adventures. We traveled extensively during those two years including to Hawaii as we want to make the most of our time there. It is now early July and something I had been in training for was about to get to the finish line. My friend Vicki was having a baby and with her husband Kelly out of town in Louisiana most of the week, I have been going to her Lamaze classes with her and was to be her birth partner if Kelly could not get back in time.

Where I have found photographs from around that time, I have included.

2nd July 1985

Dear M & D,

That was the week that was! Early Sunday morning, I got the long awaited call and it was off to the hospital with Vicki and Kelly. Thankfully he was home for the weekend, and it was really lovely of them to think to include me in my role as assistant coach. It was a very long day, particularly obviously for Vicki! Her mum has been here for the last couple of weeks, and we would take turns being with Vicki all through the day in the labour room and finally at 7pm she went into the final stages. At 7.34pm. Megan Elizabeth was born and was a whopping 8lb 10oz… considering that Vicki is only 5ft 2inches, that was some achievement.

It was certainly an experience at the hospital. Here the whole family comes along and sit in the waiting room, it was absolute mayhem but great fun. There were five deliveries before Megan was born, so there were about 20 people in various stages of nail-biting, chain smoking, hand-wringing and jubilation. Having been and out to the labour suite every couple of hours or so to spell Kelly and Vicki’s mum, I was a nervous wreck!

Kelly stayed to cut the chord and Vicki’s mum and I left them together, waiting in nursery admissions until Megan was brought through 15 minutes later. She is beautiful and it was a real privilege to be invited to be there at her birth. Vicki is obviously sore and tired but we shall be bringing them home tomorrow.

They are going to leave for Shreveport later in the month now that the baby is here and I shall miss Vicki very much. She was my first friend in America and I hope that we don’t lose touch. She has been so kind and when David has been away, she and Kelly have always made sure I was okay and invited me out with them to dinner or the movies. Two lovely people.

Vicki and Megan Elizabeth back home.

David was busily putting together quotes on Sunday and was probably happy for the peace and quiet!  He went to Kansas yesterday morning and back that evening. Thankfully he can catch up on his sleep as he is off on Thursday which is our first July 4th celebrations. I will tell you all about them when I write next time.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have met some other girls at the complex. Susan who is German and whose husband has a similar job to David and travels most weeks, and Debbie, who is a high school teacher. She used to be a tennis coach, so we are going to start playing soon which is great. I think we will get on very well. She has the same sense of humour and enjoys wine too!

Debbie and I who would become best friends over the next 18 months.

The goings on in the apartments have got very steamy, and poolside gossip is rife! If only the victims of our discussions knew that every move was being noted they would be scared to death, especially the married ones! David calls us the ‘coven’, but it makes life a lot more interesting than some of the soaps that they have on television. I tend to listen more than contribute, as I am behind in the scandal.. but that really does not excuse me does it!

By now you will have received my letter telling you that there is a possibility that we might come home in January. We won’t know until September but we do hope to be here at least another year. There is so much to see and we might not come back again. What we have seen is amazing. Geographically it is very diverse with deserts and mountains to lush forests and plains. The cities are pretty astounding too, with skyscrapers that take your breath away. We might have buildings that are several hundred years old in England, but architecturally, these buildings reach up to the sky in glass and steel.

Texas is very flat around the Houston area but this is a huge state,  we have done some exploring ahead of your visit and we are going to take you to San Antonio which has a river and is much greener. Also it is a must visit for you Eric… we are going to take you to the Alamo…. I hope that will be a highlight for you.

Anyway… nearer the time we will let you have an agenda of things we have planned. Bring your appetites, portions are very generous here.

love to you both.. Sally and David.

You will find the other Letters from America:

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next week for another of our American adventures.  Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Aretha Franklin, Late Spring Bulbs, Corned Beef and Esme’s Party Piece.. and that’s just for starters…

Welcome to the weekly round up with the posts that you might have missed. I have been editing Tales from the Irish Garden and breaking that up with time in said garden, planting pots and (if I am honest) sitting in patches of sunlight reading! It is another lovely day here so will be doing the same, as around here one is not really sure if this is ‘summer’ and you need to make the most of it.

We have some major work coming up with contractors in to lay a lawn and add some new fencing. We have been in the house two years in June and these will be the last of the major renovations…really looking forward to having the garden in bloom again.

As usual the posts this week do not all originate from my keyboard, and a huge thank you to the contributors for their commitment to delivering fabulous posts.

William Price King finished his series on the legend, Aretha Franklin in style on Wednesday, with plenty of tracks to bring back memories and to dance to. There is a slight break this week but then from the 23rd, William will be sharing the story behind the talented singer and songwriter, Josh Groban.

Paul Andruss shared some stunning images of late Spring bulbs that brought some colour into our lives, especially those of us who have been waiting rather a long time for spring to even begin!  The gardening column is clearly popular and don’t forget that our resident expert is happy to answer your questions. Not just for those of us in the UK and Ireland but across the world.

Carol Taylor enticed us and informed us with her post this week on the glories of beef.. in a Strogranoff, Corned and in the fabulous Thai Salad Nam Doc Nua… again if you have questions about any of the recipes or any food or cookery queries then fire away.

Esme’s Party Piece… the health issues common to the specific zodiac signs and foods that are a good idea to include regularly.

The Getting to Know you Sunday Show.

My guest today is the generous, forthright and passionate advocate for civil liberties, The Militant Negro™. Not a day goes by when one or more of my posts are shared on his eclectic blog and I know that I am just one amongst many have reason to be grateful for his kindness. You will find the arts, poetry, fiction as well as down to earth and compelling documentation of the the many civil rights violations that are part of all our cultures.

Sally’s Book Reviews

If you are a frequent visitor to the blog you will have seen D.G. Kaye… Debby Gies here many times as a contributor, commenter and supporter. It is no secret that we are friends. This however, does not influence my views on her books, and this applies to her most recent release. Twenty Years: After “I Do” : Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging.

Posts from Your Archives – Travel with D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies

Time for the third of Debby Gies, D.G. Kaye’s travel posts. I would love to be a fly on the wall when she is traveling. Apart from her usual finesse with the check-in and carry on bags, there is the matter of the toxic passengers and glares over protective masks.. You don’t mess with Debby that is for sure.. As to the bathroom facilities…..aghhhhhhhh.

D.G. Kaye Arizona

Personal Stuff – Letters from America

We were now into June of 1985 and getting the hang of things. We had met more people in the apartments and were planning our next trip later in the summer.  I also send photographs of our trip to Disney World to my parents.

Flights of Fancy – Short Story Collection

A woman is accused of murder.. and this is her response…..Getting Away with Murder

A recently purchased cottage is waiting for one more member of the family to arrive to make it perfect – The Other Side of Heaven.

Get Caught Reading Month – Authors who have inspired me – Jean M. Auel – Earth Children Series.

These books did not just inspire me to continue writing, but to explore my own heritage, back 20,000 years to a woman’s bones in a cave in the southern France, northern Spain region.

Another background story to my characters and jobs in Just an Oldd Job Girl. Originally hosted by Diana Wallace Peach. This week the cosmetic department.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – The requests from readers over the last few weeks.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves

Author Update – Recent Reviews.

Meet the Reviewers.. A celebration of those who take the time to review and support the books of authors.

Health Column

The right balance of LDL – Low density lipoprotein (potentially unhealthy cholesterol) and HDL– High density lipoprotein (healthy cholesterol).

One of the most common contributory factors to heart disease is stress… finding the right balance in our lives and diet is essential to reduce the risk of acute stress becoming a permanent state.

The next vitamin in the Nutrients we Need series is Vitamin C which is involved in over 3000 processes in the body.

The start of a new series of ancient healing therapies – this week Reflexology.


Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985 – 1987 – Photos from Disney Adventure, Alone in America, New Arrival by Sally Cronin

We were now into June of 1985 and getting the hang of things. We had met more people in the apartments and were planning our next trip later in the summer.

23rd June 1985

Dear M & D,

Thank you for your letter, and by the time you get this you will probably have spoken to David. He left yesterday for a very hectic nine days to try and get things tied up over there. It feels a little stranger than normal. Although I am used to him being gone at least a couple of days a week for work, he was at least still in the US and could be home in a few hours if needed. I almost don’t want to go out in the car in case something happens which is silly, but Vicki, who is nearly due, has said she will come out with me to the shop as she would like the company too in case she goes into labour!

She and her mother are coming here for fajitas tomorrow night and a movie. She is trying to stay occupied as she is of course very nervous. Her mother is great and she is minding us both. I had better not make them too spicy otherwise there might be a quick dash to the hospital at midnight!

No doubt you will have noticed the envelope was a little thicker than usual and discovered the photographs of our Disney adventure when we were in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. They don’t capture the atmosphere but gives you an idea of how vast it is.  I took one of an Indian chief for you Daddy.. but could not find any cowboys.. sorry.

The last two days we have had thunder and torrential rain and there have been flash flood warnings. Another reason not to venture out. I am missing my daily swim and have been doing a daily workout to a television fitness instructor who is crackers. She must have rubber legs because there is no way I can get myself in to most of the positions that she does. I was chatting to the apartment complex manager who is about my age, and she has suggested that I go to aerobics with her at the local gym three times a week. That would suit me as I want to shift another 30lbs in the next few months. I am starting next week and looking forward to it.. I think!  If the mad woman on the television is anything to go by it is not for the fainthearted.

Anyway, I am sure the sun will be out tomorrow and back to swimming in the meantime.

Once David gets back we should have a better idea of whether we will be moving from here or not. The advantage of Houston is that it is a huge hub for internal airlines, and we usually fly Continental. It is easier to get to other parts of the country, and since David can visit several states in a month, we do need to be close to a major airport as we are here.

And apart from the occasional thunderstorm.. well at this time of year frequent ones, I like it here and we are beginning to meet more really interesting people.  I will be sorry when Vicki leaves in a month or so when the baby is born but she is so excited to be able to join Kelly and their new apartment.

Another thing that I miss is M&S and David has promised to go and pick up one or two things for me. Not sure what the customs are going to say this end when David arrives back with several pairs of knickers and bras!

You mentioned that you have started to make plans for your trip and once David gets back we will have a firm decision of when or where we are going to move to. Once we have that we can finalise your travel arrangements. They might even send us back to the UK in the New Year so it is great that you are thinking of coming over in October.. November time frame.We would like to stay another year if we can and the work supports that. There is so much of America we have not seen yet and being such a vast country we need as long as possible.

Anyway, off to write to David’s parents and keep them up to date. Love to you both and will call you next week once David arrives back with the plan for the rest of our stay.

Sally and David.

©Sally Cronin 2018

Thanks very much for popping in today and you can find the previous letters in the directory:

Smorgasbord Weekly Update. – Aretha Franklin, Restoration Women, Hot Soup and Texas Thunderstorms

Another week gone but one with some sunshine which is always worth celebrating. I have also finished writing Tales from the Irish Garden and phase one is over. Catching my breath and then back into each chapter to tidy up and elaborate before another run through for the first edit. I really don’t mind this part and at least I am on target to publish mid-summer.

I am so grateful for the amazing columnists who contribute to the blog each week and it would not be the same without them.

Great to have William Price King back after his week away and we just have one more post to come in the Aretha Franklin series. I am delighted that it has brought so many memories back and thank you for your comments.

Paul Andruss posted on his own site this week.. Plight of the Restoration Women.. when your money and assets belonged to the man you married. A companion piece to last week’s post here on Barbara Villiers.

Elizabeth Pepys by Rita Greer 2007 (Historical Painter)

Carol Taylor, like so many has been battling a chesty cough but still managed to get into the kitchen and produce some of her delicious soup recipes, it may be spring but the weather is still a bit cool and soups make perfect light lunches.

The Sunday Interview Getting to Know You.

Welcome to the Sunday interview and this week my guest is poet Ritu Bhathal who I enjoyed meeting at last year’s Bloggers Bash in London. And it was fantastic to be there when she won the Best Overall Blog Award 2017. Find out more about her phobias, her love of dusting!…. her passion for singing and meet her cat..

My personal stuff – Letters from America.

The weather becomes more turbulent in Houston. with the hot humid days and we experience our first thunderstorms and torrential rain. My friend Kelly’s due date comes closer.

Posts from my archives – Short stories – Odd Jobs and characters.

This week I work in the shoe department of our local store and find that I am still using x-ray equipment and some ladies do not wear knickers!

Get Caught Reading Month – Authors who inspired me to writer –  The books of Wilbur Smith.

Since my teens I have read and collected the books of Wilbur Smith. As part of Get Caught Reading Month, I will be sharing some of his work and three other authors who inspired me to write.

Sally’s Friday Drive Time Playlist – more of your requests. Howell, Annette Rochelle Aben, D.G. Kaye and Judy E. Martin

Short Stories – Tales from the Garden – Mollie’s Gardens.

My mother loved her gardens and in this post I share some of her memories spanning 94 years.

Posts from Your Archives

Debby Gies, D.G.Kaye shares another of her entertaining and informative travel posts. The joys of carry on luggage and the moving goal posts of their dimensions.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves.

Cafe and Bookstore Author Update

Meet the Book Reviewers

Smorgasbord Health Column

Aromatherapy – Marjoram essential oil – Muscles and stress.

Our heart is very dependent on us to provide it with the nutrient it needs to do its vital job of keeping us alive. It does not ask for much…just lots of fresh food, prepared from scratch and less packages, cans and bottles.

Our heart is only as good as the food we eat……


A-Z of nutrients that we need to be healthy – Vitamin B12.

Why we need cholesterol….


Thank you so much for dropping in today and as always my thanks for the amazing support and feedback. Enjoy your week and see you soon. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord – Letters from America – 1985 -1987 – Thunderstorms Texas style, Pool Antics and Birth Coach on Standby

We are now in to our first June and really hot weather in Texas. The swimming pool was the focus of the complex and we would meet a lot of wonderful people down there over the next two years. Many of the residents worked so it would be early evening or the weekends when we would gather and plastic cups of beer or wine were in plentiful supply.

June 12th 1985

Dear M & D,

Thank you for the letter and photographs, Emma is looking very grown up and so like Sonia. I was delighted to see the physical evidence of your first caravan weekend. Are they going to put up a plaque above the door saying “Mollie Coleman Slept Here!”. You certainly have been having a busy time of it and I hope the book exhibition was a success.

David is away this week, Kansas, Washington and Minneapolis. He is in Washington trying to get official government approval for his cable spec. Once obtained it will make it a lot easier to get potential customers interested. He has just bought a computer for business use, which will make his work easier. He have been involved in these machines since the mid 1970s and it is amazing the difference in size from those he used to work with. He spent the weekend uploading programmes to it and then put a wrong piece of data in that wiped the lot and he had to start all over again! There was quite a lot of profanity issuing from the spare bedroom, so I took myself off to the pool!  Luckily these days they are more portable so he has now taken to the office and will no doubt be the envy of his less technically minded colleagues who still use paper the whole time.

My friend Vicki is almost due and her mother arrived yesterday and her husband has taken time off work. My job as assistant coach looks redundant at the moment but I am on hand if needed! The baby would certainly be arriving to unpredictable weather. We had a three hour thunderstorm last night and it was in true Texas style. Nothing like our hour of rumbling in the skies with the odd flash of lightening. This was crashing, boulder rolling and forked lightening for the entire time. I have never seen lightening like it and watched from our balcony as it hit between the trees in our central garden area with an almighty crack.

The rain is torrential and having been caught out in one last week it is very frightening. The windshield wipers could not keep up with the amount of water even on the fast speed and in the end, like everyone else I had to pull over and wait for it to subside. The roads were also dangerous to drive on as it was easy to water plane across into oncoming traffic.

I had hoped that it might have cleared the air which has become very humid and suffocating. But no such luck.

I do still feel a little homesick but we are getting used to doing things in a slightly different way. I do miss not being able to walk out the gate and find pavements that I can walk around the block on or to the shops. You have to drive about a mile up the road to a row of shopping malls and restaurants to find a footpath and I think if we decide to move again later this year, we will bear that in mind.

We do love the pool because most of the time we have it to ourselves. Especially early in the morning. We both enjoy doing laps and that is not always easy in the late afternoons and early evenings as most people bring down their airbeds and have a quick dip then hop on and float around for an hour.  Still we have the best of both worlds and I am afraid that I too have succumbed by buying myself a rather substantial lilo… with a sit up bit at the end and cup holders… I must say it is rather relaxing when everyone is at work to float around with a cold drink, reading a good book and popping in to cool off from time to time.

I am looking forward to seeing you trying to get on and off gracefully when you are over later in the year… I will be taking pictures!

Love to you both Sally and David.

You will find the other Letters from America:

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next week for another of our American adventures.  Thanks Sally


Letters from America – 1985 – 1987 – Texas weather, Suntans and Trivia Pursuit

We had returned from our trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles and were taking things easier in June…

My parents were also doing some gadding about whilst we were in the States.. including a trip to Paris with my sister and her husband. Here they are at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

4th June 1985

Dearest M &D,

Lovely talking to your on Sunday, glad all is well and that your trip was so much fun Mollie. We spent a quiet weekend after our adventures away and we had a few friends over on Sunday night for supper and to play Trivia Pursuit.  It is not a game that we would have played in the UK but it is great fun to play, if a little competitive. We bought it a couple of weeks ago after we played it at a friend’s apartment and we will show you how to play it when you come over.

As you both enjoy crosswords it should be right up your alley. It has big board divided into 6 segments so looks like a giant pie. Each segment has a pie shape of a different colour representing one of the categories. Science and Nature, Geography, History, Entertainment, Art and Literature and Sports and Leisure. You then throw the dice and move around and over the board depending on how many you throw. If you land on a piece of pie you have to answer a question related to that category.. If you answer correctly you get a small piece of plastic pie of the corresponding colour. If you land on a square on your way to that main segment you have to answer a question identified by the colour of the square to continue.

When you have filled your pie with all the six different pieces you win!  There are a few other wrinkles but the real problem is the categories as they are nearly all North American in context. Not so bad for Geography, Science and Nature and Art and Literature, but for us Brits the real problems lie in the Sports and Leisure, History and Entertainment. Fine if it is a film question but it is usually about television shows and their stars. We have a basic knowledge of American History, but not the nitty gritty, and don’t get me started on Sports and Leisure as I know diddly squat about baseball, basketball, American football and bowling!

Thankfully there are sufficient British related questions to help us get to the winning post, but unfortunately quite a bit behind our friends, who wait patiently whilst we circle the board a few times trying to get that elusive last piece of pie. I do find that margaritas… (with tequila) do help the mind delve deep into the recesses to unearth long forgotten bits of trivia or come up with inspired guesses. Just something for you to look forward to when you come out later this year.. the Trivia Pursuit.. not the tequila.. unless you would like to try!

David is home this week but away from Monday next week. He is dashing through three states for business meetings and by the time he is finished he will have visited most.

The weather has been hot (95-98 degrees) for the past few days with no sign of rain. There have been some terrible tornadoes in the north, but we have been very lucky here. There has been the occasional hurricane warning with storm systems sweeping up the gulf, but nothing so far. Now we are into June there is a lot more activity by the pool and we are meeting more people. I am still about the only one out there during the day, and although I wear quite a bit of sun cream and a hat, I still get people shouting from the balconies ‘Mad dogs and English Women, go out in the mid-day sun’.  However, I do enjoy my healthy tan again since it is nearly 25 years since we enjoyed so much sunshine in Cape Town. You will notice that I have grown my hair longer… and it is getting gingerised by the Texas sun….

I am glad that you have your visas and anytime between September to end of November and February to May are good months for weather, avoiding the high temperatures and heat or the sharp cold spells. I am starting a scrapbook of all our postcards and photos taken since we arrived, which should keep me out of mischief and provide you with a pictorial guide to our stay. I hope you will hang on to these letters too just in case I forget anything.

We are not planning another trip until July and we are thinking of either going to the Caribbean or Hawaii (post ain’t we). We will never be close enough to either destination in the future to visit and you can get some very good deals, especially using David’s air miles that he has accumulated with all his flights. You can put them towards flights and also certain hotel chains such as Marriott. I am angling for Hawaii as I would love to bump into Magnum P.I. but don’t tell David!

Our love to everyone and swat up on baseball, basketball and American football in the next few months so you can impress our friends at Trivia Pursuit.

love Sally and David.

©Sally Cronin Images 2018

You will find the other Letters from America:

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next week for another of our American adventures.  Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Aretha Franklin, Peppercorns, Literary Ageism, Las Vegas

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts and thank you very much for stopping by and for your support during the last seven days.

As always thank you to the contributors who provide regular columns including William Price King with the first in the new series about the legend Aretha Franklin.

Our resident foodie Carol Taylor treated us to an interesting column on the variety and use of peppercorns – Did you know about pink peppercorns?

Our writer in residence and gardening expert Paul Andruss was posting on his own blog this week and another fabulous post on cuckoos and the music of Delius.. I did reblog but here is the direct link to the post:

And Jessica Norrie took us on a tour of books that feature protagonists through the age groups from 0 – 100 years old. Can a lead character every be too old?

The new series of the Smorgasbord Sunday Interview – Getting to know You…with my five questions that I have responded to.

Here is reblog from Mr. Militant Negro who also shares his response to the five questions to give you another idea of how the finished post will look like. I will share his post in full later in the series but it is a moving and fascinating response.

Smorgasbord Poetry – Dorothy Cronin

Personal Stuff

Letters from America 1985 – 1987 – Las Vegas Part Two.

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist – Two songs that make me think of my husband David.

Short Stories – Background to my characters in Just an Odd Job Girl

Tales from the Garden – The boy, his dog and a fairy princess.

Tales from the Garden – Cuentos del Jardin – is now available in Spanish.

Very grateful for two reviews this week which has been fantastic

One for What’s in a Name Volume One from Amy M. Reade:

And one from the writing duo of Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes for Tales from the Garden.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update

New book on the shelves – Twenty-Four Days (Rowe-Delamagente Thriller Book 2) by J. Murray (Jacqui Murray)

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

Welcome to Marian Beaman with an archive post for the #Travel themed Posts from Your Archives.. a turbulent trip to London and a bit of a do with a Copper. When travelling in other countries some things get lost in translation.. even when you are speaking the same language.


Welcome to author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello who shares her experiences of Docents… the locals who can see us coming a mile off when we land in a strange country and are not used to the local currency or transport systems.

Health Column

The A-Z of nutrients that we need to be healthy – B5 – Pantothenic Acid.

The Heart Structure and Function

Heart labelled

Shopping List for the Brain and its support systems.

The first key element to eating for brain health is to omit industrially processed foods that contain harmful toxins and additives that have zero nutritional benefit and effectively ’empty’ calories. They might supply sugar and trans fats and look appetizing on a plate, but the brain will not recognize them as anything it can process. Processed foods Vs. Industrially manufactured foods

Aromatherapy – Frankincense essential oil – Immune, reproductive systems, antiseptic, anti-aging.

The alternative shopping list – by nutrient




Thank you again for dropping in and all your support.. I am very grateful… Thanks Sally