Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Music, Books, Food and End of Summer Party with amazing Guests,

Welcome to the weekly round up and the last day of the End of Summer Party. I have so enjoyed seeing so many of you over the weekend and have put on several pounds eating the left overs from the various meals… If you missed the posts at the time, no worries the food is still fresh and you can still meet the guests and enjoy the banter.

Thanks for all the support to get the posts noticed and I am very appreciative. I love this community and it is a lot of fun being part of it.

I was not able to play all the music requests but will share the ones not played in the Blogger Daily this coming week.

Paul Andruss did a fabulous post to kick off last year’s end of summer party over the same weekend and as he is busy at the moment with other projects, I asked if he minded me using again to kick this one off…

The great new is that Paul has taken the time out to write a brand new post for the end of the week…when the last of the music has been played and we head into September.. Look out for it Friday.

The End of Summer Party – Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Sunday Lunch with 35 guests. There is still time to pop into all the meals and to leave your links in the comments. It is a place to meet great writers and supporters of others. Don’t be shy.

And here are the other posts from the week that you might have missed.

The start of a new series with William Price King for The Music Column – The Jazz Instrumentalists. Richard Galliano – Accordion

The Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Carol had technical problems this week so I shared our nutritional guide to Salmon and recipes from last year.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with author Patty Fletcher.

Personal Stuff – Short stories – What’s in a Name – David – In Remembrance

Letters from America – My parents last week and visit to Sam Houston Museum and Galveston.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New books on the shelves.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Author Update and Reviews.

The Blogger Daily – Blog posts that are worth sharing.

Tofino Photography, Dan Alatorre, Adele Marie Park and Judy E. Martin.

Karen Ingalls, Lifelong Metamorphoses and Cynthia Reyes.

Vashti Quiroz-Vega, Nicholas Rossis and Stevie Turner

Lizzie Chantree, R.K Brainerd, The Book People.

Cathy Ryan, Janet Gogerty, Judith Barrow and the Narbeth Book Fair.

The Health Column

Foods to boost your blood health.

Part one of the female reproductive system.

Nutrients the body needs – Choline, B8, Inositol, Bioflavonoids, Co-Enzyme Q10, Trace Elements.

Humour and the Afternoon Video

Thank you again for dropping in and for all your help in promoting the posts. Have a great week.


Smorgasbord – Letters from America 1985 -1987 – My Parent’s visit to Sam Houston Museum and #Galverston.

My parents spent over three weeks with us in November 1985, and having visited San Antonio and The Alamo museum, I took them up to Huntsville to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum during the following week, whilst David was at work.

Huntsville was about an hour way north on I-45 which was only a block away from our complex. My father in particular was very interested in finding out more about Sam Houston and my mother was looking forward to seeing the mock up of the house, furnishings etc in the various buildings at the museum. I didn’t take any photos whilst we were there but did buy some postcards to send home to the family and to keep as a memento of the day.

The museum today, judging by the website Sam Houston has not changed much and there is certainly plenty to see and enjoy.

Gough Photo services

Gough Photo Services

Gough Photo services

Gough photo services

The following weekend as a last night away we took my parents to Galverston since so far we had not shown them the coast. Although they had enjoyed some seafood locally in Houston we wanted to introduce them to shrimp at a restaurant recommended to us by our friends. Gaidos Seafood had been serving customers since 1911 and we certainly had an amazing meal. Here is a current day sharing platter… and if I could teleport I would be there frequently. Of you are lucky enough to live close by.. here is the website: Gaidos Seafood

Following that blow out dinner, we took a stroll along the sea walk……the end of a lovely day with more to follow…

Having spent 37 years in the Royal Navy, we thought my father would appreciate a visit to the Tall Ship Elissa moored in Galverston. He obviously had not been a sailor in the same era of the Elissa but he certainly appreciated the wonderful design and the way the ship had been immaculately preserved.

Here is a description of the ship and well worth visiting the Maritime Heritage Galveston

My parents being piped aboard…well we whistled anyway!

Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company. She carries nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area. Tall ships are classified by the configuration of their sailing rig. In Elissa’s case, she is a ‘barque’ because she carries square and fore-and-aft sails on her fore and mainmasts, but only fore-and-aft sails on her mizzenmast. From her stern to the tip of her jibboom she measures 205 feet. Her height is 99 feet, 9 inches at the main mast and she displaces about 620 tons at her current ballast. But, she is much more than iron, wood and canvas…


According to the Marjorie Lyle, granddaughter of Elissa’s builder, Henry Fowler Watt, the name was taken from the epic Roman poem The Aeneid, in which the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, is the unifying theme of the first four books of that tale. Dido was originally a Phoenician princess named Elissa, who fled from Tyre to Africa and founded Carthage.

Unlike some tall ships of today Elissa is not a replica, but a survivor. She was built during the decline of the “Age of Sail” to fill a niche in maritime commerce. Over her 90-year commercial history she carried a variety of cargos to ports around the world, for a succession of owners. Her working life as a freighter came to an end in Piraeus Harbor, Greece, where she was rescued from the scrap yard by a variety of ship preservationists who refused to let her die. The story of Elissa’s discovery and restoration is nothing short of miraculous, and is beautifully retold in photographs and a video presentation at the Texas Seaport Museum.

Today Elissa is much more than an artifact from a bygone era. She is a fully-functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to Galveston Historical Foundation and its commitment to bring history to life, combined with the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who keep her seaworthy and train each year to sail her, Elissa and the art of 19th Century square-rigged sailing are alive and well.

Elissa’s wake is over 135 years and counting… Come experience her magic at Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21, Galveston, Texas. Courtesy of the Galveston Attractions Maritime Heritage Website

Like me, my father was a food magnet and he could sniff out good coffee wherever we might find ourselves.

The following Wednesday my parents flew back to England and it would be March 1987 before we would see them again. In the meantime I kept up my weekly letters until August of the following year when I returned for a week’s visit to the UK and we then began to call every Sunday and talk in person.

Next week, back to those letters and more of our travels around America.

You can find the other posts in this series here:


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Update – Music, Cookery, Travel, Health and Books

Welcome to the weekly round up and a catch up on the week’s events here on the blog.

Most of you will know that as of August 1st – our Facebook profiles are not longer linked automatically. In itself it is not a problem because it offers an opportunity to personalise the post when sharing to FB. However, many of my posts, including the columns that are written by William Price King, Carol Taylor, D.G. Kaye and Jessica Norrie, are scheduled to go out at just after midnight. Around 65% of my readers are from North America and they are usually checking the WordPress reader, and also their email notifications during those overnight hours. With the loss of the link to Facebook where I have a substantial amount of followers, this meant that the post would not be seen until the following night, and would most likely be long lost in timelines and on the WP reader.

Despite my reluctance to have two accounts with FB… I have weighed up the pros and cons and have established a page, which by the new rules is linked directly. A great many of my posts are author and blog promotions, and I want to achieve the most effective reach I can for those I promote. I hope that this will help me do that. I have sent invitations out to my current FB followers, but if you are not connected there, perhaps you would like to head over to the new page and join me there:

In September I will be introducing new promotional posts and I am also very interested in developing new collaborations in the form of monthly, fortnightly or weekly columns to join the already established Health, Music, Cookery, Literary and Health posts.

There are a number of options to think about. Do you have an expertise in a particular area of writing, publishing, film or a hobby that you are passionate about? If you write about health you can write under the Health Column umbrella as a guest.  You may have a series of posts on a particular subject that you have already published on your blog in the past and would now like to share with a new audience.

If you are interested in talking further then please email me on with a view to posting at the end of September either monthly, fortnightly or weekly.

Posts from Your Archives – Blogger promotion

Earlier in the year I featured over 200 posts from your archives. I will be bringing this feature back from October and so I am giving you plenty of time to check your archives and find posts that you feel could use some more attention.

If you would like to participate in this series of Posts from your Archives here are the details.

All of us have posts that sit idle in our archive with perhaps a handful of visits from readers who are browsing on our blog. But I would like to offer you the opportunity to share some of your posts that you feel would be enjoyed by a different audience.. Mine.

I am happy to share posts on any subject including short stories, writing, publishing, pets, health, personal experiences with life and events, films and music. If you have travel posts that have a great many photos, then I will feature those as a reblog post with up to four of the photos and then a link to go to your blog to read the rest.

Apart from sharing your post, I will of course share your bio, any book links, social media and of course your blog so that readers can head over and enjoy your more recent hard work. Currently my readership across the blog and Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest is 36,000, many of whom are readers and authors.

If you are interested all I need is the links to four posts you are interested in sharing and then I will take it from there. Most of you have already sent me your links but if we have just met I may come back to you.

Okay.. time to get on with the posts from the week that you might have missed.

The Music Column with William Price King – Diana Krall the Finale – New series on Jazz Instrumentalists beginning next week.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

Carol mentions the ‘C’ word this week as she shares the recipe to make your own version of the festive classis, sweet mincemeat.

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye

Off to Mexico in the company of travel expert Debby Gies – Where it is safe, shopping wining and dining, excursions, accommodation and health. Read before you book, and get the most out of your holiday.

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview – With N.A. (Noelle Granger)

I had the pleasure of meeting my guest today at the Bloggers Bash in 2017 and discovered a delightfully charming person and also had the privilege of meeting her husband. Noelle Granger is the author of the Rhe Brewster crime thriller series and has recently published Death in a Mudflat

Smorgasbord Health Column

Nutrients the body needs to be healthy – Zinc

The blood – oxygen distribution and waste disposal.

red blood cells

Personal Stuff…Letters from America – my parent’s visit in November 1985 and our trip to The Alamo in San Antonio and the deep and amazing Natural Bridge Caverns.

What’s in a Name? – Short Stories

Celia – A Crisis of Faith

Clive – The Debt

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

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Reviews.

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Humour and Afternoon Video

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – My Parent’s visit – The Alamo and Natural Bridge Caverns.

After the drama of the aftermath of our anniversary party Fire ants and nearly lights out…we headed to San Antonio for a visit specifically for my father.

My parents enjoyed going to the cinema and they passed their love of movies on to us. My mother was more into romantic dramas, and my father loved thrillers and westerns, so we got introduced to a great mix. My first real memory of going to the cinema was my fifth birthday, which was in February and usually cold and wet. My mother told me we would catch the bus and go to Portsmouth and go to the beach. I think she actually had a day’s shopping planned at the then Handley’s (now Debenhams) department store. However, it tipped down with rain and instead she took me to Fareham, our nearest town to the cinema.

I can remember the film vividly, even if I did not understand a thing about it. The Key was set in 1941 and starred Sophia Loren, William Holden and Trevor Howard. I remember wartime action at sea, and also Trevor Howard banging on the door to Sophia Loren’s apartment and shouting loudly. I never did like him as an actor from then on!  Following this, during our time in South Africa from the age of 10 to 12, my father, in addition to his other duties at HMS. Afrikander, was film officer. This meant that my brother and I would go to all the Saturday morning children’s movies (Lassie etc), and he would also bring home a projector and the latest film doing the rounds to bases and ships. It was usually either a musical or western and would be the after dinner entertainment for my parents and their friends. I would sneak up the corridor and sit cross legged outside the door to the lounge which was left slightly open to allow the cigarette smoke to dissipate! If someone got up to visit the bathroom I would scuttle back down to my bedroom and then resume my position when safe to do so. This meant I watched a lot of films, but missed chunks!

Later on back in  England Saturday afternoons were reserved for my father to watch a football match on television. This clashed with the musical or Hollywood epic on BBC 2 that my mother wanted to watch. We would all settle down to watch the football, with my mother and I nonchalantly sat on the sofa. About ten minutes into the football match, my father who had enjoyed his steamed steak and kidney pudding and apple crumble with custard, would drop off in a post carbohydrate slumber, snoring away happily in his recliner. With that my mother would give me a nudge, and I would dash across to the television, switching it to BBC2 and the musical (no remotes in those days). A sign that my father was stirring, was usually indicated by a change in the snoring tempo. My mother would nudge me again and I would dash across and turn the TV back to the football. It was a lucky day when we got to watch most of a musical, and I would turn back the television to the end of the match, a few minutes before my father woke up and remarked what a great game it had been!

This was unless there was a Western showing on BBC2 instead, particularly if it had John Wayne, in which case my father would forgo the football and watch the film instead, remarkably staying awake for the entire movie. His passion for cowboy films included the film The Alamo released in 1960, produced, directed and starring John Wayne (his idol). We must have seen that film ten times, and I knew that taking my father to the actual Alamo would be very special for him. We kept our destination a surprise and just told my parents to pack for a night away in a hotel.  Once he saw the sign posts to San Antonio he cottoned on to our surprise and was thrilled by the prospect of visiting the museum. They were also blown away by the Marriott with its magnificent atrium with part of the river diverted through the foyer. A stunning location and I am sure equally so today.

When we visited the The Alamo museum in 1985 it was not as extensive as it is now, and I do recommend that you take a look at their website and try and time your trip to when they have one of their re-enactment weekends.

However, we spent two hours there with my parents and it was extraordinary for me to see the look of wonder on my father’s face as he stood in front of the museum for the first time and during his slow and studied tour of the exhibits . Over dinner that night in one of the Mexican restaurants along the river walk, he could not stop talking about it, and seeing his animation and delight was such a treat for us. It was also their first introduction to Mariachi music and seeing their enjoyment still makes me smile 33 years later.

On the way back from San Antonio on the Tuesday we stopped off at the Natural Bridge Caverns 30 miles north of the centre of the city. My mother was a bit claustrophobic (well a lot) and had no wish to go underground. But my father was definitely up for it, so we left Mollie at the coffee shop (I think it was not very big at the time unlike today) and we went into the bowels of the earth.

Amazing experience and one I can recommend for all the family. I seem to remember it being pretty basic then but it has been expanded and is now well lit and offers a great many more experiences and tours.

Not sure I have this photograph the right way up.. I am sure someone will tell me!!

Thanks for coming along on this trip down memory lane.. next week we head to the coast during the last week of my parent’s stay.

You can find the other posts in this series here:



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – A Summer Party, Music, Myths, Food, Great Books and Laughter…You are invited.

I never thought that I would say that I was grateful for some rain this last week.. but I am. Hopefully not too little, too late for farmers whose crops have stalled. It is a lovely afternoon and have been enjoying some sunshine.. so have my feather family who bring me constant amusement.

My best buy this summer was a metre square three inch seed tray that has become the swimming pool for a wide variety of birds. The bird bath and seed tree we bought last Christmas has also been inundated and preparing meals has never been so much fun. Sally’s Cafe and Bird Spa….

At times there are at least 50 or more birds on the feeder and in the baths with everyone joining in together. The starlings are very keen and spend ages in there splashing around, but until recently I had only seen the sparrows taking dust baths. Until this week when they have clearly picked up a few tricks from the starlings, and today there were little birds having a high old time since early morning and they are still at it now.

Normally when the crows come down the other birds scatter. The crows are not acrobatic enough to use the seeders as intended, so they have worked out another method. One stands on the metal ring and bangs his head on the seeders so that they scatter the seed on the ground below for his mates. However, like elegant pole dancers they can be found hanging upside down on the fat ball holder rocking back and forth as they try to get a morsel. They usually come in a group of rowdy teenagers, but we have got a crow who is rather bedraggled and skinny who started coming down on his own. Much to our surprise the starlings, sparrows and tits ignore him and hang around, and I even saw him in the pool with three starlings this morning.

The only bird who is not welcome is the sparrow hawk who sits on branches in the hedge and pounces on my babies… They are protected in Ireland, but there is nothing to say that I cannot come out and shout at him and wave my arms around like a mad woman. It seems to have discouraged him but my neighbour tells me it spends a lot of time in her garden.. ah well…

The Smorgasbord End of Summer Party Weekend 25th – 26th August

Thank you for such an amazing response.  There are four posts over the weekend with the themes Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner on the Saturday and Sunday Lunch. I am delighted to say that 3 spaces left for Brunch, 1 space in the afternoon tea,  and 2 for Sunday Lunch. The details are in the post and if you would like to be promoted then please do so quickly…

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – update and new promotional opportunities.

I have updated the directory with the blogger daily and other opportunities to promote authors in the cafe so please take a read.  Also in the second post.. how to put your books on the shelves for the first time.

Anyway on with the posts that you might have missed this week and as always a huge thank you for William Price King and Carol Taylor for supplying the music and the food this week, and to you for dropping by.

The Music Column with William Price King – Summer Jazz with Diana Krall

Writer in Residence rewind – Ionia by Paul Andruss.

I thought you might enjoy revisiting some of Paul’s ealier posts from the beginning of 2017 as he is on his extended break.. This week Ionia – Gods and Myths.


The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor.

This week Carol makes good use of the spices she mixed last week to create some show stopping meals for the family.

Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome children’s author, poet and master confectioner Robbie Cheadle as guest on the Getting to Know You interview. A very busy mum who works full-time but still finds time to write, blog, and support so many of us here.

Personal Stuff

Beatrix is about to end her very long and successful theatre career but what lies beneath the mask?

From early man through to the current day, the birthright of one particular family is carried from generation to generation.

Letters from America – 1985-1987 – My parent’s visit – Anniversary party and nearly lights out.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – 1982 – Dionne Warwick and Survivor

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

Author Updates #reviews

Blogger Daily

Health Column

The components of our blood and Anaemia.


There has been a dramatic increase in cases of measles in some of the countries in Europe and there is a spike in the UK too. The most at risk are those with compromised immune systems and mothers-to-be and infants who have not been vaccinated.

Nutrients the body needs – Phosphorus and bone health

Humour and Afternoon Videos

More weird facts and trivia

The last part of the weird facts and trivia

Thank you very much for spending time here today and for your support.. enjoy the week .. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Letters from America 1985- 1987 – My Parent’s visit – Rennaisance Festival, Anniversary Party and nearly lights out!

Last week I shared the arrival and welcome party for my parents when they visited in the November of 1986…Yellow Roses and Stetsons

After the welcome party we had a day of relaxing before taking my parents to one of the spectacular events held every year in Texas. The Rennaisance Festival was started in the mid 1970s, on an abandoned strip mining site at Todd Mission about 50 miles Northwest of Houston. By the time we visited in 1985 with my parents, the festival had grown considerably, and was packed with great stalls selling crafts and food, as well as parades of street performers dressed in medieval costumes. Thankfully not an overly hot day and we did take plenty of opportunities to sample iced tea and delicious BBQ.

My father loved his food, and he made a beeline for the turkey drumsticks on one of the stalls, and despite evidence to the contrary… he is not being greedy, just holding David’s drumstick so he could take this candid shot. He does however look like the cat who got the cream, whilst my mother was trying to retain her ladylike demeanour whilst chomping down on this outsize snack!

It was quite a long day, and as I look at this photo, I realise that my parents at the time were only three and four years older than I am today! We enjoyed our time there, but unfortunately the rest of the photographs from the day, including the parade are somewhere safely packed away in the attic.

The rest of the week saw us pottering locally as David was away, but it gave Mollie and Eric a chance to relax, enjoy the pool and for my father to experiment with making his own Chi Chis…

We also were invited out to dinner at our friends Bill and Sylvia and my father definitely approved of Sylvia’s cooking.

It also gave me time to prepare for our 5th anniversary party on the Friday night. Most of our friends were coming with assorted courses organised between them. We had got into the habit of sharing the menu between us so that no one person was landed with either the cost or the labour, and it worked really well. It also offered us the opportunity to sample different dishes we might not cook ourselves. David arrived back on the Thursday and after a last shop for the starters we were providing, beer and wine we were ready to go.

I managed to get a quick shot of David and my parents before the guests arrived.

Because of the number of guests we had a menu that either involved a fork or a spoon and as you can see the place was packed with seats at a premium.

The complex was keen that people were not disturbed after 11pm, but after most of the guests had left and my parents had gone to bed, David and one of our friends decided to go for a run to clear their heads, whilst three of us opted to sweat it out in the hot tub in the recreation area just outside our block. Although November was a little nippy at night, it was pleasant enough sitting chatting on the side of the hot tub with our legs dangling in the water, whilst we waited for the others to return from their run.

Suddenly I felt movement over my thighs and up my back. I immediately reacted by jumping into the middle of the very hot water up to my waist which resulted in the most agonising stinging across my upper body. The reason for my panic was a severe allergic reaction to wasp and bees stings as a result of a childhood encounter with jellyfish.

When I was seven, and living in Malta, we kids used to swim at the naval station lido, jumping and diving off a wooden raft, attached to four oil drums for buoyancy. We could also dive under the raft and come up under the decking into an air gap between the drums.

Great fun until a swarm of jellyfish had the same idea. I got very badly stung and diving back and out into the clear water, I started swimming to shore screaming my head off. There was a hessian covered plank that was used to haul yourself out of the water and onto the rocky shoreline. Unfortunately, as I swung under the plank before hauling myself out, I met up with the rest of the jelly fish who were clinging underneath. My screams had alerted one of the naval fitness instructors who doubled as lido attendants. He came running with a first aid kit luckily, along with my mother, wondering what mischief I had got myself into this time.

This was long before the epi-pen(epinephrine) but I seem to remember being given an injection of adrenaline fairly quickly, which my mother told me saved my life.

Back to 1985, and within a few minutes, it was clear that I was going into anaphylactic shock and my friends with me recognised my attackers as fire ants and got me out of the tub and onto the path. My husband and other friend arrived back thankfully at that point. Nobody had mobile phones in those days and a rush up to an apartment to call an ambulance would take too long. We had also all been drinking, were dressed in either bathing costumes or running gear. Except for our friend Monty, who could not drink and despite being in his bathing costume, had his house and car keys on the side of the hot tub. His car was parked close by next to our block, and with David and the others holding me up, we piled into the car and we raced out of the complex onto the main road. Monty knew that there was an emergency centre about a mile away in one of the strip malls that was open 24 hours, but by the time we got there two minutes later, I was in a critical condition.

David tells me that one of our friends dashed in and returned with a gurney and doctors who raced me into resuscitation. This is where it gets a little weird, because I do clearly remember watching the activity from above, as they pumped me full of epinephrine and tried to keep me breathing.

Once I was in the clear, they wanted to keep me for a few hours to make sure that I would not have more problems. Our friends went home, and David stayed with me until I was discharged about 7.00 in the morning. Although not having any means of identification or credit cards they had treated me anyway, which I am eternally grateful for, and David returned later that day with details of our company health insurance.

My lower legs and back were not a pretty sight as the bites developed, and I felt incredibly sore and tired. We went home, and I went to bed and left David to explain to my parents what had happened,downplaying the details.

I had anti-histamines to take for a period of time, and it was recommended that I rest for several days. However, we were booked into the Marriott in San Antonio from Sunday to the Tuesday on a very special surprise for my father, which was to visit The Alamo. My parents knew that we had planned time away, but not where, and were all for cancelling the trip, but I was determined that a few fire ants were not going to ruin things. By Sunday morning I was still groggy, but I covered myself in calamine lotion, and took some pain killers and we headed off. I slept the entire 200 miles, except when we made a short stop for coffee, and then went straight to bed on arrival at the hotel. Thankfully by the next morning I was much improved, and eager to take my father on his adventure.

P.S. The exterminators were called in to deal with the large fire ant nest that they found under the decking of the hot tub on the Sunday morning, and there was an upside to my attack that night. That day, a children’s party was going to be held in the recreational area, and the kids would have been in and out of the tub for several hours and things could have got very much worse.

Next week – San Antonio, the Alamo and the Natural Bridge Caverns.

You can find the other posts in this series here:

Thank you for visiting today and as always I look forward to your feedback.. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Tahini, August predictions and all that Jazz

Welcome to the round up of posts from the week you might have missed. The weather has been a little more variable over the last few days with a couple of days of decent rain which will please the farmers. Still not enough however to prevent a potential feed crisis as with the lack of growth in the fields, animals are having to be given feed that has been stored for next winter.  A very unusual situation for Ireland to be in.

I read today that the met office in the UK expects this level of heat to continue through to October. Whilst lovely for those who love bright sunny days, it does cause difficulties for not just farmer’s but the very young and elderly. There has been a spike in deaths in the last two months that is being blamed on the hot weather and so if you have an elderly relative or neighbour do check that they are staying hydrated. Unfortunately, they do tend to get into the habit of having their cups of tea and glasses of water at regular times irrespective of the weather. Under normal circumstances that can leave some of them with less fluid than they should be taking in, but in this kind of heat it can be dangerous.

August is a time when most summer holidays are enjoyed, so if you are heading out have an amazing time and look forward to hearing about your adventures in posts when you get back. We are staying put and to be honest, with the weather as it is, we are very happy to do so. The traveling to and fro to destinations seems to be more stressful than ever with airline pilot and air traffic control strikes, power outages and computer glitches due to the heat and traffic jams. Keep safe and take water and snacks!

My thanks of course to William Price King and Carol Taylor for their columns this week and to all of you who have been over and liked, commented and shared. It is always appreciated.

Here are the posts from the week.

The Music Column with William Price King – Part Two of the Diana Krall story

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

Posts from Your Archives

Carol Taylor shares more fascinating insights into life in Thailand and this week the art of making charcoal which is a primary cooking fuel.

Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with author Janet Gogerty

Esme’s August Forecast for your zodiac sign.

Personal Stuff

Letters from America.. My parents arrive in Houston to great fanfare.

I decided to participate in the Blue Sky Tag for a little light relief on Friday… and tag some more victims…

Sally’s Drive Time #Music – 1981 – we settle into a chilly Welsh holiday cottage.

What’s in a Name Volume One Short Stories

Anne – Favour and Grace

Alexander – Defender of Men

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author Update

Blogger Daily

Health Column

If you have a teenager going to college in September it is important that you check their meningitis vaccinations are up to date.

How your digestive system deals with a chicken sandwich to boost your immune system.

If you are thinking of becoming Vegan or perhaps someone in your family, it is important to ensure that you are still obtaining all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

Nutrients the body needs – Potassium – High Blood Pressure and Adrenal Glands

Eating Bacon and Cancer – two sides to the story.

Humour and Afternoon Video

50 more weird facts


  • Polar bears are left-handed
  • Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
  • Mark Twain didn’t graduate from elementary school.
  • Proportional to their weight, men are stronger than horses.
  • Pilgrims ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving dinner

50 more weird facts


  • Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
  • Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.
  • The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.
  • Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.

Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985 – 1987 – My parents arrive – Part One – Stetsons, Yellow Roses, Pappasito’s and Chi Chis

It is now early November 1985 and we had not seen my parents since Christmas when they stayed with us in our home in Tring, Hertfordshire. Those of you who have been following my weekly letters home to them, will know that we had been planning for their trip for months, and on Thursday 7th November they landed in Houston.

I was waiting for them as planned as they came out of immigration and customs, and there was quite a bit of kissing and hugging before I gave them their welcoming gifts. For my mother a bunch of yellow roses, which whilst not the state flower of Texas (The Bluebonnet) have historical significance in this part of the world. The real story behind the song The Yellow Rose of Texas is a fascinating tale of subterfuge and the exploitation of a powerful man’s weaknesses. There have been many efforts to debunk the story that circulated about the part a certain Miss West played in the defeat of Santa Ana. However, I prefer the romantic and daring version to the ‘historical’ account. The first words out of my mother’s mouth when receiving the bouquet, was to announce that she was now officially a Yellow Rose of Texas. This resulted in a little history lesson in the car back to our apartment, about the inadvisability of announcing that to any Texans that she might meet.

To my father, who had been bald as long as I could remember, I presented a straw stetson to protect his pate from the still hot Texan sunshine and he wore it everywhere. It returned to the UK at the end of his holiday and over the years, at any sign of sunshine he would wear his stetson. He was a life-long Western film lover and was one of the reasons I bought that style of hat instead of a baseball cap. Just one of the cowboy themed surprises for their visit.

Here is a picture of them both by the swimming pool, and if you look at my mother, you will see that she had liberated by own red straw stetson that I am wearing in the header photo.. Somehow I managed to hang on to that when she returned home.

I was well aware of how tiring that transatlantic flight could be, combined with the usual stress of travel. However, both my parents were used to long haul flights and sea journeys, as we had lived abroad all through my childhood in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) Malta and South Africa.  I also knew that both of them enjoyed a party, and after a day to recover, on the Friday night we invited some of our friends over to meet them.

Over the next couple of days we stayed close to home with with lunches out, including to our favourite Mexican Cantina; Pappasito’s on I-45 about ten minutes from the house. We were regulars there by this time and were able to point my parents in the direction of the tastiest dishes on the menu.

Whilst we certainly enjoyed indulging in shared appetizers when we visited the cantina with our friends, we were not sure how my parents would find their first experience of Mexican cuisine. We need not have worried as both tucked in and declared the Quesadillas and the Fajitas to be fabulous. In fact my father took home a cookery book with him so that he could recreate the dishes for friends.

The Margaritas were not so popular, but my father who was not much of a drinker, discovered the joys of American beer whilst my mother settled for some white wine. We experimented with cocktails for them both over the next week or so, discovering my father’s achilles heel…Chi Chis…made with vodka, coconut cream and pineapple juice, which played straight to his sweet tooth. After David had mixed a batch and given my father a glass, he emptied quite quickly and eagerly accepted a second. David told him that it had vodka in it, but my father shrugged that off and consumed enthusiastically. It was the first time I can remember my father being slightly tiddly, and for the rest of his visit he would enjoy at least one chi chi before dinner or ordered when we were out. It was lovely to see his face as he took that first sip through the straw as the sweetness hit his taste buds, and it is one of those memories you cherish.

I inherited the shopping gene from my mother, and whilst my father relaxed with a book and David was at work, I would pop out for a couple of hours with her to one of the big malls. Thankfully my father had the good sense to leave some luggage space for the expected purchases, and my mother went home with a several skirts, tops and dresses and pairs of shoes, none of which she really needed!. To be fair they came from the discount mall where you could buy top of the range fashion at a fraction of the price.

Our friends were very kind and invited us out to lunch that first week, or over for drinks in the evening. By the end of the first week my mother and father felt quite at home and ready for more ambitious adventures.

David was going to take the second week of their visit off from work so that we could go further afield. We also planned to have everyone over for our wedding anniversary party on the Friday night 15th November, before heading out to San Antonio for a two day visit on the Sunday. Apart from wanting to show my parents this lovely city, it was an opportunity to give my father a chance to fulfill one of his boyhood dreams, to visit The Alamo.

Little did we know that events on the night of the party would nearly scupper that plan!

I hope you have enjoyed this first part of Mollie and Eric in Houston… and will tune in again next week. Thanks Sally

You can find the other posts in this series here:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Summer Jazz, Noodles, Great Books and Mamma Mia!

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts you might have missed. After 9 weeks of glorious sunshine we have had two days of rain and for once it was welcome. The reservoirs will be receiving a top up and although we will have a few partly sunny days next week, there will be more to come.

This week of course there was the blood moon and there were some interesting facts around this particular eclipse that made it all the more disappointing to have thick cloud cover and not to be able to see it. However, the photos online were stunning.

Esme our resident astral forecaster, is going to be talking about it on Thursday when she gives her views on the upcoming month’s events.

The highlight of the week for me has to be going to the movies and my review for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is under my personal stuff…. fantastic. Yesterday David and I went to see Mission Impossible: Fallout and that too was well worth going to see. Non-stop action and a danger of choking on your popcorn with some of the stunts. I will review next Saturday in full.

I am busy working on my next writing project having handed off Tales from the Irish Garden for some spit and polish. I will only be on social media from time to time although I have salted the blog with some of the usual posts and some humour.

Also now we have come to the end of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, I will be sharing Volume One of What’s in a Name? from next weekend. I hope you will enjoy.

As always a huge thank you for your continued support, it really is very much appreciated.

Here are the posts from the week and I hope you enjoy.

William Price King and the Music Column – Summer Jazz

William is on his usual summer break but we are sharing a previous series and this week part one of the Diana Krall story.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

Carol Taylor outdid herself this week with some wonderful recipes that include noodles.. We tend to think of rice and Italian pasta to accompany our meals but noodles are wonderful and well worth exploring the various kinds available.

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

And Carol Taylor also shares some of her travel experiences around her home of Thailand.. this week Heaven or Hell?


Getting to Know You – The Sunday Interview with award-winning children’s author Janice Spina.

Personal Stuff

Something to Think About – Wills and Probate

This week I saw a newspaper article which follows on from this previous post, regarding the opportunity for banks and solicitors to benefit from your will and from those of your loved ones, leaving you possibly out of pocket for thousands of pounds.

Letters from America – Our first trip to New York

Odd Jobs and Characters – Some of the jobs I left out of the blog tour. – Funeral director’s receptionist.

Drive Time Playlist – Music to get the weekend started – 1980 – ABBA and Dr. Hook

Film Review – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

The final part of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Teeth Cleaning and Reflections on My Life.

As Sam’s story has come to an end, here is a short story that I wrote for Annette Rochelle Aben and her family back in 2015 to celebrate Tales from the Garden being released.  The Time Capsule

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author Update – Reviews – Three this week to catch up after the Summer Sale.

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

Blogger Daily – a small selection of blog posts and book reviews I enjoyed during the week.

International Food and travel to Australia and Hong Kong.

History posts from Tony Riches, Sue Vincent and Brain Lageose.

Christmas in July in South Africa, 8 Top adventures to experience in South Africa, and Fish and Chips in Australia.

Travel posts from Sri Lanka with the best experiences to be had and Iceland.. land of the Norsemen

Health Column

Whilst our immune system is on high alert for dangers to our bodies, we need to meet it halfway at least and give it the right tools to do the job effectively. Eating a rubbish diet is not the way to go…nor is taking a handful of supplements!

However many ‘fad’ diets there are littering the Internet, you cannot get away from the fact that if you eat more than you expend in energy…. you put weight on.  I have compiled a fat accumulation table that demonstrates how little treats can add up over a year… and by halving the number you have can have a dramatic effect on your weight.

Some food hacks including Pineapple for bruises and dates and cheese to spice up your love life!

Humour and Afternoon Video

A re-run of some of the weird facts and statistics that almost seem unbelievable!!! But they might help you win that pub quiz.

  1. Mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color.
  2. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

Part two of the Know it All series….

  1. No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Super bowl.
  2. The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League all-stars Game.
  3. What occurs more often in December than any other month? A. Conception.

My thanks again for dropping in and for all your support.. see you again I hope.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985 – 1987 – Have a Nice Day… In the Big Apple by Sally Cronin

This week one of my articles that I wrote and sent to the family about our first trip to New York.  I hope you enjoy the trip and the photographs I have managed to dig out.

Have a Nice Day… In the Big Apple

As with any flight the best part is reaching your destination. The final ten minutes of my flight from Houston was definitely spectacular, passing over the city of New York with its millions of lights that reminded me of a lady’s sequined evening dress. It was a slight anti-climax, to then have to wait for three hours in LaGuardia airport, for David who was flying in from Kansas, but I spent the time people watching, one of my favourite pastimes, and drinking airport coffee, which is not.

However, by 11p.m. we were on our way by taxi, through the city that never sleeps. It was a rather rapid transit, and slightly hair-raising experience, as I am sure our driver was a moonlighting kamikazi pilot. We arrived at the brand new Marriott Marquis on Broadway with a flourish and a sigh of relief. In my teenage years, I did have aspirations to one day be a musical star and headline on Broadway… I fear this is the nearest I am going to get! We registered and retired to the bar for a much needed sedative.

The hotel is certainly impressive, from the outside it really looks like any other skyscraper in New York, but once inside your are greeted by the amazing sight of a forty-five storey atrium. A central column dominated the view, carrying brightly lit glass elevators; a ride to the top was not for those suffering from vertigo.

The revolving piano bar, which took you out over Broadway once an hour, was certainly the ideal place to start our first visit to the Big Apple…

Of course, like any good New York tourists, we set out after breakfast the next morning, intent on seeing as much as possible of the city. Street life was quite a shock at first, and the traffic was horrendous. We were very pleased that we had decided not to hire a car for our stay, but our decision to use the Yellow Cabs was probably equally as hazardous! We walked to the Empire State Building and were duly impressed by both the building and the fantastic view over Manhattan. From ground level, the aspect is very much one of a concrete Grand Canyon, but from the top of the Empire State Building, you get the impression that you are looking down into Lilliput.

If you want to buy a camera, New York is certainly the place to buy one. There are camera shops on every block, but watch out for the salesmen. They are on commission only, and we saw several who dealt with time-wasters in a very abrupt way. Service with a smile was obviously not part of the deal, more service with a snarl. I have to say it rather took us by surprise as our experience so far had always been very different. We have had a fair amount of practice now at negotiating when buying expensive items and I don’t think we got rooked too badly, and we did try to do it in good humour!

Of course I did persuade David that I needed to visit the famous Macy’s, just to look you understand!

Saturday night is show night on Broadway, and after 3 p.m., half price tickets can be bought for the evening performances from a makeshift ticket office right in front of the Marriott. Unfortunately, the shows we were interested in, 42nd Street and Cats, were sold out. After consulting our guide books over a great coffee and salt beef sandwich, we decided on the French Revue and dinner at the Cafe Versailles. With its small stage and ornate decoration, it certainly gave you the impression of being in a Paris nightclub and the show was certainly entertaining. The showgirls of course were beautiful but the best part for me was a rather aged female impersonator who mimed to Madame Butterfly, while fortifying herself with every drug and drink under the sun, unusual but very funny. A quick revolve around the piano bar on our return to the hotel, ended a very tiring but fascinating day.

With out time being limited, we deposited our bags at the hotel and took a cab to the pier, where we embarked on a three hour river tour all around Manhattan. It was very good value for $12 each and I kept my new camera busy recording the truly impressive sights of the Statue of Liberty and the famous skyline. After the trip we treated ourselves to lunch in a small Italian cafe before returning to collect our luggage.

One thing to remember if you are leaving by air from New York on a Sunday afternoon, is that everybody else is leaving by air from New York on a Sunday Afternoon! The road to LaGuardia was packed and the trip took over an hour, so leave plenty of time.

I am sorry that we didn’t have more time in New York, but I don’t think I could live there all the time. Stamina and nerves of steel are essential, and you know what? All those and films and cop stories you see on television about the Big Apple, they’re all true!

©images Sally Cronin 2018

I hope that you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane… some photographs have got lost in the moves or packed away in the attic, but I was delighted to find this handful. Thanks Sally.

You can find all our other adventures in the two years we lived in America in this file: