Baie dankie my vriend Linda Mooi from Sally aged Ten. Capetown 1963

My father was posted to Cape Town to Simonstown in early 1963. I was ten years old and had just spent another two years at the Garrison school in Portsmouth. The school had been a relief with its 100 pupils after the 1200 or so at Verdala in Malta and before we left a decision had to be made as to my secondary education.

The Royal Navy was prepared to pay for me to go to boarding school for the next two years, and to be fair my parents did ask for my input. My mother I think was relieved that I said that I would rather to to Cape Town with them and we all departed on an RAF flight via Nairobi (where we spent the night at a Safari hotel) for Cape Town.

There were adventures along the way but since they are not the subject of the story will leave until another time.

Suffice to say that yet again I was introduced to a new education system. Secondary school did not start until 13 in South Africa as children did not go to school until 6 or 7. The days were shorter – 8.30 to 2 or 3pm if I remember correctly, and I used to travel back and forth on my first bike. To be honest I remember that more for the scar on my knee that I still have today. I was looking at boys and rode up onto a pile of gravel by the side of the road and landed in an inelegant and revealing heap.

Of course everything that I had learned to that point was useful but the curriculum was very different. I now had to catch up three years of South African history, geography and learn Afrikaans as mandatory.

I enjoyed my time at school and I always adapted to new environments by developing the local accent. I had already learned at an early age that if you want to fit in quickly you sound like everyone else as soon as possible. In fact when we returned to the UK we went up to Preston in Lancashire for two years, and I went from a very strong South African accent to broad Lancs in the space of two weeks, much to the confusion of my family.

So I have set the scene at school but our life was very different in some major aspects.

Before we left the UK for Cape Town my father was given a relocation package that included our behaviour whilst guests in South Africa. As you can imagine this was the early 60’s and apartheid in South Africa was probably at its most fragile. We as guests were under strict instructions not to comment on the situation under any circumstances. This included us children. My brother attended an English private school in Rondabosch but I was to attend Newlands Public School and be part of the culture in all senses of the word.

I had been a baby and toddler in Shri Lanka until the age of three and was used to cuddling my Indian amah who looked after me every day and evening. I therefore was not prepared for the restrictions placed on me by apartheid. Even at the age of ten I found it unreasonable and very uncomfortable.

However, we were guests and expected to comply with the rules of our hosts and we met many South African families who were kind and generous people who had been brought up in the system, but were also restricted in what they could say and do at the time.

It was customary for the naval families to employ a local maid and my mother was sent some approved candidates.

These were the days of the resettlement when coloured families were moved out into townships. To work in the white areas, a pass was required and if you were caught without the pass you could be arrested and imprisoned. The maids lived in and would go home to the townships on their day off. If they had a generous employer they could spend the night and return the next day.

Linda Mooi – and I think I have remembered her surname right – was a slim and very pretty young woman of about 24. Over the next 18 months before we left to return to the UK she became more than a maid.

We had inherited another naval family’s boxer dog called Bosun – he was passed on as people were reposted and he knew that his role was security and nanny with young children. There was no way you could take this huge animal for a walk – he was let out in the mornings and you could hear him barking a mile away in the local park, returning exhausted and slavering an hour later with a satisfied look on his face. I dread to think what he had been up to.

When Linda joined us for her first morning – Bosun was out doing his usual morning activities and he returned and scratched the front door, being let in by my mother. We were at school by this time, but by all accounts, Linda took one look at this slobbering monster who charged into the kitchen looking for the intruder and she leapt up onto the cooker which was thankfully not on at the time.

Her gentle nature won him over within a few weeks and whilst tentative at first eventually the relationship blossomed, with Bosun following her as she hung out laundry or worked through the house.

My mother I know was instructed that on no account was she to pay any more than the official monthly wages. However I also know that she slipped money to Linda when she returned to the township where her husband and two young children had to live, and that she always returned home with a food parcel.

As far as we were concerned, Linda was our friend and babysitter. My parents had a hectic social life and without television in Cape Town in those days, entertainment for us children meant running around outside and reading.

Linda would read us stories and she knew all the voices. She had two young children of her own that she must have missed dreadfully between visits to the township, and we were the grateful recipients of her maternal instinct. When my younger brother was asleep in our shared bedroom she would come in with a tin tray from the kitchen and an old pack of cards and she taught me how to play Snap, Rummy and Poker.

When there were thunder storms or we had a nightmare she would sing to us – and I still remember one of her lullabies today and I have used over the years myself.

She hugged us, patched up grazed knees and made us laugh. At the time as children we did not see the shadows in her own life and I know the distance between her and her husband and family created some dramas during our time together, but there are a couple of things that she taught me.

One is that it is our judgement that is coloured, not the skin of the individuals that we meet, and secondly that stereotyping is one of the major stumbling block towards any peace process.

I also want to thank her for teaching me to play cards and win!

She would be in her late-seventies now and I have no idea if she is still alive in Cape Town somewhere. But she does live on in my memories. Baie dankie Linda.

Next time.. the Drama Queen is in the building!

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Digestive System – Open Wide!

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Another series that was featured early last year which I hope will reinforce the message that every chemical reaction in our bodies is related, and that it is not just what we eat but how we eat and process it that is important.

Top to Toe – The Digestive System – Open Wide

As the purpose of these blogs is to offer you an overview of the body, I am not going to attempt to give you all the specifics about this complex and fascinating process. However, it does serve to illustrate the knock-on effect on our overall health if one part of the operating system, or chemical process, is damaged and off-line for a period of time.

Actually the digestive process starts in the nasal passages – remember how it feels to smell fresh baked bread, the BBQ or a curry.  The saliva starts to build up in your mouth – which is why we call it ‘mouth-watering’.  As soon as that process begins – we are ready to eat and digest the food. Interestingly enough, people who have a reduced or non-existent ability to smell rarely become obese!


The mouth

The mouth is much larger than we would imagine from an external view and it contains the tongue and the teeth behind the entrance, which is guarded by the lips and mouth. At the rear of the mouth are the various tubes leading to the lungs or the rest of the digestive tract.

There are two palates within the mouth, the hard and soft palates. The hard palate to the front of the roof of the mouth is used by the tongue to mix and soften food whilst the soft palate (velum) can expand to allow food to pass back into the oesophagus without being forced up into the nasal passages.

The cheeks and soft tissues of the mouth are covered in a mucous membrane that keeps the mouth moist helped by the salivary glands. This membrane is one of the most vulnerable to wear and tear in the body and has remarkable powers of regeneration.

The tongue

The tongue is triangular, wider at the base than at the tip. It is attached at the base to the lower jaw and to the hyoid bone of the skull. At the sides of the base it is attached to the pharynx which is the cavity at the back of the mouth. The top of the tongue is curved and is home to our taste buds, the front is called the apex and the back of the tongue is called the dorsum.

The tongue is very flexible and is controlled by a complex set of muscles both in the tongue itself and also in the jaw and neck. The styloglossus muscle in the neck is responsible for the upward and backward movement of the tongue and the hyoglossus also in the neck brings it back down into the normal resting position.

Of course one of the main functions of the tongue is its involvement in our speech and its health is therefore vital. Without it our ability to process food in the mouth and to talk would be virtually non-existent.

Food has to be chewed before it is presented to the rest of the digestive tract. The tongue will roll the food around the mouth so that the teeth can begin the process of breaking it down into manageable pieces.

The teeth

The teeth are very necessary to our digestive process as food needs to be in small enough pieces to pass through the oesophagus into the stomach and also to allow enzymes adequate access to the last crumb. If it is a large chunk of food it will not be processed efficiently and we will lose much of the benefit.

We have two sets of teeth in our lifetime and how we look after the first set can have an effect on the health of the second and adult teeth. I was a dental nurse and in the 60’s we began to see the effect of increased sugars particularly in soft drinks on children’s teeth. My boss who was then in his 60’s was horrified in the difference that had taken place in only 20 or 30 years. As children we have 20 milk teeth that develop from small root structures under the gum at birth appearing around 9 months old to around 6 years old when they are pushed out by the 32 adult teeth as they begin to erupt. The second teeth can be affected by diet when they are still beneath the gums and this can lead to a lifetime of fillings and extractions.

All our teeth have specific roles in digestion and we are given enough so that as we age and lose a few we can still have the ability to process food. Of course in the last hundred years or so we have got very clever and can now replace teeth with dentures or better still implant new artificial teeth into the jaw that last around 15 to 20 years depending on the material used.

The incisors are designed to cut and the pointed canines are perfect for tearing foods such as meat and plant food apart. Our premolars and molars towards the back of the mouth can grind and crush other foods such as nuts, seeds and if necessary even bone.

Teeth are firmly fixed in sockets in the upper and lower jaw by a root system that may have one or two roots depending on tooth type and its role. Gum surrounds the tooth to help protect from decay and act as a buffer while the teeth work on food several times a day for our lifetime. The outer surface is enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the human body and beneath this is dentine a pulp that protects the sensitive nerve and blood system in the middle of the tooth.

One of the key elements of efficient digestion is how we chew our food. Most of us eat far too quickly, not allowing the teeth to produce small enough pieces of food or our saliva and enzymes to carry out their part in the process.

Chewing slowly has the added benefit of allowing a message to get through from the stomach to the brain to tell it that you are full and to stop eating. This not only helps us maintain a healthy weight but it also reduces the stress and pressure on the digestive system.

The salivary glands –


The salivary glands at the base of the tongue produce an enzyme called ptyalin that digests starch and a chemical called Lysozyme that sanitises the food to prevent infection both in the mouth and the digestive tract. It is hard to believe but the human adult will produce in the region of 1½ litres of saliva per day consisting of mucous and fluid. It is important that the mouth is kept very moist not only for comfort but to enable us to deal with dry foods allowing it to be chewed more easily. It is also essential once food has been chewed, to ease the next stage of the digestive process when food is swallowed.

There are a number of salivary glands positioned in the mouth the largest being the parotids, in the neck, just in front of the ears. The glands that excrete the most saliva are under the jaw. These are the submandibular glands. And finally, under the tongue in the floor of the mouth are the sublinguals. The amylase enzyme produced by these glands converts the carbohydrate we eat into disaccharide sugars for further processing later in the stomach and intestines. (If you want to witness this in action, wave a cooked sausage in front of a dog’s nose and place their jaw over a basin!)

The pharynx

I looked at the respiratory role of the pharynx in the blogs on lungs, but it also is a channel for food. Its upper parts are connected to the nose and the mouth and lower part is connected to the voice box or larynx and leads to the oesophagus for swallowing.

We have all choked on food at one time or another and the reason for this natural and instinctive action is the epiglottis, the flap that prevents food and foreign particles from entering the lungs.

When we swallow this flap tilts backward and the larynx rises up. The cartilage bands around the larynx called the vocal cords come together and close the flap to seal off the entrance to the trachea. As soon as the food has passed safely into the oesophagus on its way to the stomach the epiglottis re-opens to allow air into the windpipe again.

 Next time we will move into the oesophagus and the stomach.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017

Please feel free to share on your own blogs and social media.. thanks for dropping by Sally

Writer in Residence Extra – Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee by Paul Andruss

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss is contributing posts for the blog every three weeks. I know that many of you look forward to those, so Paul has sent me a number of posts that he first published on his own blog to be posted between his contributions.

I love my cup of coffee in the mornings and savour the flavour of fresh ground straight from my cafetiere.. however despite my love of the brew I have never been tempted to drink the very expensive and aromatic coffee that has been processed in a very unique way.. Now that I have read Paul’s post I am very glad I have resisted the temptation.

Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee by Paul Andruss

An ideal name for a fair trade ethically sourced coffee shop (Andruss)

Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee is the most expensive coffee. A new must have luxury item of the rich and those who want to be seen to be rich. Asian Palm Civets eat coffee berries as part of their diet. The seeds (coffee beans) are excreted after passing through their digestive systems and collected out of their poo.

Allegedly the coffee tastes better because the Civet’s stomach acids break down the peptide chains in the bean. Traditionally small amounts were produced by farmers collecting wild civet poo, but due to demand this has given way to intensive farming methods where the animals are kept in battery cages in horrific conditions and force fed coffee cherries.

This factory farming has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of the animals due to isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate. A 2013 BBC investigation found conditions of animal cruelty. According to an officer from the TRAFFIC conservation programme, the trade in civets to make kopi luwak constitutes a significant threat to wild civet populations.

A four month old Luwak is tempted by some red coffee beans at the BAS Coffee plantation January 20, 2011 in Tapaksiring, Bali, Indonesia.

The Luwak coffee is known as the most expensive coffee in the world because of the way the beans are processed and the limited supply. The Luwak is an Asian palm civet, which looks like a cross between a cat and a ferret. The civet climbs the coffee trees to find the best berries, eats them, and eventually the coffee beans come out in its stools as a complete bean. Coffee farmers then harvest the civet droppings and take the beans to a processing plant. Luwak coffee is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and also in the Philippines.

If I owned a coffee shop I would make sure I only sold coffee that had not first come out of an Asian Palm Civet’s bum.

On an entirely different note I would also make sure the coffee was sustainably sourced and purchased from collectives of small independent coffee farmers, so they can make a living.

Given the fact I would be such an all-round hero, I would call my coffee shop Koffie Annan.

About Paul Andruss

If I were a musician I would be Kate Bush or the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson; but without the mental issues or dependency on prescription drugs. For Brian not Kate! I can talk about anything except myself, so let’s talk about my work.

Finn Mac Cool

I’ve written 4 novels, Finn Mac Cool, and the (Harry-Potteresque) Jack Hughes Trilogy. ‘Finn Mac Cool’ and ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ are available for free download. Hint! Hint!

Thomas the Rhymer

About Thomas the Rhymer.

11 year old British schoolboy, Jack Hughes, sees a fairy queen kidnap his brother. With friends Catherine & Ken, Jack embarks on a whirlwind adventure to return Thomas the Rhymer to fairyland & rescue his brother

What’s been said about … Thomas the Rhymer

‘Fans of Harry Potter & Narnia will love Thomas the Rhymer’

‘Thomas the Rhymer leaves you feeling like a child curled up in a comfy armchair on a wet & windy afternoon, lost in a good book’

‘Spellbinding! An ideal Christmas read for young & old alike!’

Download Free from Paul’s website:

Connect to Paul

Facebook Page:

Please find the previous posts from Paul in this directory.. you won’t be disappointed.

Grazzi hafna from Sally aged seven to the old Prickly Pear farmer and his donkey

In my first blog on this theme I mentioned that when looking back at my life, I was grateful for the support and love from family and friends, but that those who taught me a valuable lesson or who inspired me were often ordinary people, just doing their jobs.

Apart from Mrs Miller who taught me to read and write, (which are skills that I am still perfecting today!) there are some other people that I remember from my childhood who made an impression on me.

One such person was an old prickly pear farmer in Malta who tended his fields in the confines of my home there.

My father was office in charge of RNWT Rinella which was close to the Royal Naval Hospital of Bighi on the Island, close to the entrance to Valleta Harbour. We arrived here in 1959 and lived in naval quarters on a hill above the station.  I remember that there were lots of steps down to the station and the surroundings which included a tennis court (where the summer ball was held) a stream that ran through the area and various fields where crops were grown in the dry and stony earth.  These fields were bordered with a weed – prickly pear – a sharp hedge that would deter any animal from straying into the crops.

I was 6 years old going on 7 when we arrived and I went from the small Garrison school in Portsmouth, with barely 100 pupils to the massive Royal Naval School Verdala, with around 1000 pupils.  I remember feeling totally lost and even the school bus ride was quite terrifying.

Anyway, I am afraid that apart from ballet lessons with a French Madame and learning to do the splits (still a viable feat but requires assistance to get back up) I rather forget most of the two years that I attended the school.

I do however; remember the days I played truant.  It started very innocently on a Saturday morning when my parents, busy with my much younger brother would let me off the leash to explore the safe confines of the station. There was always someone on duty and I soon got to know some of the service men and women that I met on my jaunts. Provided I kept away from the working areas I was mainly unnoticed.

We had not been there long when I noticed that every Saturday morning a farmer and his cart would arrive at the fields in the general vicinity.  It was actually the donkey that attracted me in the first place as I was mad about horses.  Poor little thing barely looked strong enough to carry a bale of hay, but would valiantly pull the small cart and its driver over the rough ground around the field and then stand patiently all day with a rusty bucket of water and a nose bag of feed.  I would sit on a pile of rocks and just watch the slow, painstaking activities of the old man as he cleared rocks and other debris from the dry, dusty earth.


This went on for a few weeks with the farmer apparently showing no awareness of this silent watcher for a couple of hours every Saturday.  Until one week, he turned his weather – beaten face towards me and across the small field beckoned me to come over.

These were the days when children were not as restricted in their exchanges with adults as they are today. Of course we were told not to accept sweets from strangers and not to get into a car that we did not know the driver of, but nobody had mentioned donkey carts.  I am afraid I was a bit of a devil as my mother used to say, and had at the age of 7 decided that if this farmer was allowed into the area then he must be classified as acceptable.

I went over and stood hesitantly by the side of the cart.  By this time it was getting on for mid-morning and the sun was hot.  The old man bent down and came back up with a battered tin cup in his hand.   He held it out to me and after inspecting the contents I took a little sip.  It was the sweetest water I had ever tasted.  Even the slight metallic taste from the tin cup did not detract from that cool first sip.  I handed the cup back and he smiled – showing just a couple of brown stained teeth in his upper gums.

He held out one of his hands and I noticed that they were almost black with earth and heavily veined.  He gestured and I put my small hand in his.  He led me over to the donkey, standing patiently with one back hoof tipped as he rested.  As we approached the flies buzzed around the animal’s eyes and nostrils and he shook his head and turned to us.

The farmer gently took my hand and poured some of the water from the cup into it and held it under the donkey’s nose – the warm, rough lips clamped onto my little hand and sucked the moisture right out of it.  It was the most amazing sensation I had ever felt.

The old man took my hand away and then helped me hold up a bucket of water under the donkey’s nose and let him drink his fill.  I had seen the tin cup dipping into the same bucket and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to share this precious resource between ourselves.

I remember running home as it was getting towards lunchtime – I did not tell anyone about my adventure as far as I remember.  However, it did lead to a relationship that lasted a long time in the relatively short life of a child.

Every Saturday morning I would catch a ride on the back of the cart as soon as it arrived in my territory and I would spend the morning helping!  I would actually spend most of the morning, patting the dusty coat of the donkey and half-heartedly picking up small stones that littered the field.  We barely spoke as he was not happy talking English and we communicated with hand signals.  We spent silent hours, happily together, sharing coarse white, homemade bread and cheese for lunch, washed down with sweet water and with a dessert of prickly pear. Opening these feral fruits is an art and whilst I admired his strategy with a machete shaped knife I was not allowed to practice myself!  He did however show me how to gently peel back the skin to reveal the luscious, pip filled centre.

I did not get on at school – it was too big and I felt overwhelmed.  Therefore occasionally I would take a sickie!  I would arrive down by the guard post where I was supposed to catch the bus, leave my bag behind the building and when the farmer arrived hop on the cart and spend the whole morning until 2.00ish when the bus would reappear in the road at the normal drop off time.  I would then race back and pick up my bag, dust myself off and return home as normal.

Unfortunately, this all came to a rather abrupt halt.  One tea-time my mother casually told me that she and my father had been to a parent teacher meeting and that concerns had been raised about the state of my continued ill health.  Busted!

I was escorted to and from the bus from that day forth.  I did however manage to visit on a Saturday morning and learned that if I took an apple or a carrot, or even a piece of cake surreptitiously removed from the pantry, all three of us enjoyed our lunch even more!

In retrospect, the life lessons passed on by the old man were profound.  I learned that conversation is not necessary to communicate. That dirty hands can be gentle and represent a lifetime of hard and honest work.  That donkeys have very soft mouths, that water can be sweet and the complex art of opening and eating the very prickly pears.  And how to spit out the pips as far as possible.

Funny that my time at the Royal Naval School, Verdala has not stayed in my memory – teachers, pupils, lessons, but I do remember as if yesterday an old man, a donkey and prickly pears.

Next time – Linda Mooi – a friend in Cape Town.

Smorgasbord Health – A-Z of Common Conditions – Dandruff – Snow on your shoulders!

Time to dive into some of the more common conditions that we might suffer from. Dandruff is itchy and uncomfortable and it can also be very noticeable to other people which also makes it embarrassing.


There is nothing worse than a dusting of white and very noticeable dandruff on your dark clothes at work or out with friends. It doesn’t matter how many times you shower or wash your hair you always feel a little unclean and very conscious of how other people will perceive you.

In alternative medicine we treat the body from the inside out rather than in conventional medicine which tends to treat from the inside inwards. For example the conventional treatment for dandruff is usually over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos or if very severe prescribed lotions and shampoos that you have to use on a continuous basis.

If you are working, especially in a very customer orientated businesses then you want to look your best at all times so of course it is a good idea to use one of the several anti-dandruff treatments currently on the market.  Get a good quality product and to be honest Head and Shoulders may have been the first but it is still effective. There are others made by Pantene, Selsun Blue and Neutregena.

This however is only sticking a plaster on the problem. Our body’s health is dependent on balance. Our skin is the largest waste organ of the body and is a constant reflection of our internal health.

Our body surface sheds dead skin cells daily and you will shed your entire skin every three to four weeks. Your scalp, like every other area of skin will also shed dead skin cells but if you think about it, the skin on your scalp is not only affected by our internal health but also to a great deal more punishment than the rest of your skin.

Look at the shelves full of hair products and those available in hair salons. Colour treatments (bleach and ammonia), highlights (bleach and ammonia), shampoo, conditioner, hair gels, wax, hairspray etc. We also have hairdryers, curling tongs and hair straighteners that we can use every day at home. Daily washing and conditioning combined with the use of these heated appliances is very drying and damaging to the scalp and therefore a leading cause of flaky skin.

In our home and work environments we are subjected to central heating or air conditioning that dry out our skin. Combine this with stress and a poor diet full of sugars, hydrogenated fats and white starchy carbohydrates and lacking in the basic nutrients for our body to work efficiently and you have skin problems.


It is no coincidence that children rarely suffer from dandruff and that it is more common from puberty onwards. Hormonal imbalances are often responsible for many of the teenage skin problems such as acne and throughout our lives if our diet does not support our hormone production we will suffer from conditions such as dandruff.

I have already touched on poor diet but adequate rest and stress also play their part in skin health. Being dehydrated causes over dry skin as does a diet low in the good fats such as Omega 3 and 6.

There is another cause for dandruff and that is linked to Candida Albicans. Candida is a fungal parasite that thrives on yeast and sugar. We all have it in a benign form but if you have a poor diet and have taken many courses of prescribed medication such as antibiotics, it can overgrow and cause a great many internal and external symptoms. For example, other than an itchy scalp you might also be experiencing itchy ears, dry and scratchy throat, lower back pain, frequent thrush infections etc.


Try to avoid washing and drying your hair daily. I realise that it is important to look groomed for work or special occasions, but it is harmful to use chemicals and heated appliances too frequently. If you have longer hair, try to vary the styles so that you can wear it up for a couple of days so that you are only washing your hair a couple of times a week.

If your hair is shorter try using the old fashioned rollers to give your hair body and leave them in for a half hour rather than use curling tongs or a hair dryer.

If your body is in a state of imbalance you are unlikely to be metabolizing food efficiently leading to a lack of nutrients needed by the body to maintain health in general and as I have mentioned already this will be reflected in the health of your skin.

One set of vitamins that can be associated with skin problems and in particular dandruff is B vitamins. These are present in whole grains. Vitamin B6 is a key nutrient with regard to hormonal imbalances and is also important for skin health and I would suggest that apart from a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement you take B6 in addition.

In previous blogs you will find shopping lists and recommendations for an optimum diet for on-going health, but you might benefit from a gentle detox, especially cutting out sugars for a week or two completely.

If you are already following the healthy eating programme that I have featured then that is great start. It will certainly be helping your body become healthier but make sure that the following healthy fats and foods are definitely included on a regular basis as they will increase the nutrients for healthy skin and therefore your scalp.

Healthy fats

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Dairy and Eggs- Milk, butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – yoghurt.  Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil or coconut oil– do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff.

Whole grains: – Brown rice, whole or multigrain breads, Ryvita and rice cakes, whole grain pasta and cereals such as porridge oats, Weetabix etc.

Proteins: – Beans and lentils, Beef, chicken, cod, eggs, halibut, lamb, liver, milk, salmon, shrimp, tuna, turkey, low fat yoghurt.

Fruit: – Banana and strawberries.

Vegetables and seeds: – Asparagus, aubergine, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, sunflower seeds.


If you are in a sedentary job, rarely getting fresh air and sunshine your body becomes static. Toxins build up and this will be reflected in your skin condition. Try to get out in the fresh air for a 20 minute brisk walk daily.

I hope this has been helpful and please feel free to share. Thanks Sally

©sally cronin Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2017


Thank you Mrs Miller – luv Sally age four ‘n’ haf – #Influencers

I have been tidying my archives and as I go through and read posts from three years ago I thought I would share specific series. I had only begun blogging in October 2013 and was finding my niche. I hope you enjoy these updated (I am three years older) posts about people who influenced me in my life.

Thank you Mrs. Miller – Luv Sally age four ‘n’ haf

I was 64 next month and whilst I am both young and heart and a rock chick (Status rules okay) – I am also in the process of taking stock before I embark on the next couple of books I have in mind.

Anyway, at the same time I am heavily into social media – Facebook for my friends who are spread throughout the world in different time zones and LinkedIn for professional and work and Twitter – well that is a bit like Alice in Wonderland!

It was Twitter that got me to thinking about inspiration.  There are many big hitters on there in the Leadership field – some of whom kindly follow me – somewhat out of curiosity I suspect – but there are many others who are selling courses and books on the art of leadership and they use their 140 characters to their full advantage #leadership #empowerment #10deadlysinsof  etc, etc.

I have had the honour of interviewing some extraordinary people on radio and on camera.  I have also attended conferences and seminars where leading speakers on world affairs, health and government have shared their vision and thoughts on these weighty subjects. However, when I was making a list of those that inspired and empowered me throughout my life, I was surprised at the people who actually stood out.

They were not the powerful, famous leaders in their field, but men and women just doing their jobs.

Of course there are family and friends who have supported me and inspired me on a daily basis including my husband David has been a wonderful motivating force for 37 years. But as a child I was certainly blessed by having my two older sisters, who being 10 and 11 years older than me – let me tag along and everything they did, I did too.  Well within reason!  But they taught me to be fearless and jump off diving boards,made me smocked dresses, swim in shark invested (well jelly fish) waters and told me bedtime stories. My sister Diana was still at home when I became a teenager and her presence made those years a lot of fun.  Here we are during my first year in school and none of us have changed a bit… honestly…..


I have a short list of people that I would like to pay tribute to over the next few posts.  People who were in my life for short periods of time but whose impact has lasted a lifetime.


In the September after I was four, I went to school. The Garrison Primary School in Old Portsmouth was a collection of old corrugated iron and wooden huts and had four classrooms to the best of my memory.  The head teacher was a Mrs Vine who later remarried and became Mrs Biscoe or Briscoe (come on it was 60 years ago!)  More about her later.

I was obviously in the infants class- along with about 15/20 others.  I wanted to go to school, as I mentioned my two sisters would read to me and I could already follow certain words and knew my letters.  Even now I can remember the feeling of anticipation as my mother walked me from our home to school that first morning in my new clothes and squeaky Clark’s sandals.

The desks were old and scratched with a blackened hole where the ink wells used to reside. Tiny chairs with hard seats were uncomfortable and led to twitchy bums and fidgeting.

Our teacher was standing by the blackboard. I can still see her.  Blonde, younger than my mother who was early 40’s, so about 32 I would think. She had slightly protruding teeth that gave her a lovely smile and she stood quietly as we all settled down.

When we were quiet, she introduced herself as Mrs. Miller and then she said the words that would change my short life as I knew it.

“Today, we are going to begin to learn how to read and write as these are the most important lessons for young children to learn”

I spent my first year at school with Mrs. Miller and I loved every minute. I can remember eagerly waiting for the next lesson and my hand was always the first up when she asked someone to read from our well worn books.  She patiently guided our reading skills and then as we used our ruled books to copy our small a’s and capital A’s and the rest of the alphabet.

I began to read at home and I joined the children’s public library and always had a book on the go.  My father was also a library member but his books were considerably racier than mine – Harold Robbins being one of his favourites – and I would help myself to his selection from about the age of 11. Always careful to take the book he had just read from the bottom of the stack he kept in his bedside cabinet. I probably read a great deal that was above my pay grade and certainly most was completely misunderstood!

Reading and then writing has been the greatest gift that I learned.  Mrs Miller was just doing her job, but she and the millions of teachers around the world who teach children to read and write are inspirational.

To illustrate how inspirational she was, I still remember her name and how she looked 60 years later and I still treasure the gift she gave me of literacy. Apart from being able to read any book that I wished, my career in industry, radio and television would not have been possible. Nor would I be able to pursue my love of writing books, poetry, short stories, my blog and keeping in touch with friends and family.  It also impacts our verbal communications and I certainly do love to talk!

This gift is precious and needs to be put into perspective.  It is estimated that globally over 800million people cannot read or write. Around 70 million children do not have access to primary education and over a million people in the UK struggle with reading and writing.  This impacts their everyday life in virtually every way.


Mrs Vine was also a character but I did not really have much contact with her until I returned after two years in Malta and joined moved from Interim class to her senior class. She was memorable because firstly she looked like Olive Oyl from Popeye and we called her that behind her back – and also because Friday afternoons despite her tough exterior she would dispense a packet of boiled sweets.

Also, even though she was a strict disciplinarian, she was very fair.  My father was posted to Cape Town and we were due to leave in the January 1963.  In the September prior to that when I arrived in Mrs. Vine’s class for just one term, she still made me Head Girl until Christmas as a reward for my hard work.  So thank you Mrs Vine too.  For showing me that recognition of achievements is one of the most motivational rewards you can give to someone.

My next inspirational person who gave me some life changing lessons involved a cart and a donkey!


St. Valentine’s Day – Food Aphrodisiacs and a little romantic music to delight your love!


It is a belief that is held across every race, culture and age group that certain foods enhance the feelings associated with love, which makes for interesting research into the subject.

Foods, herbs, spices and unfortunately certain animal parts have been considered to be stimulating over the ages but I am going to focus on food and herbs that are still readily available today in our supermarkets.


Aphrodisiacs were taken in the first instance to calm anxiety and therefore improve sexual performance.  Having children was considered a necessity from both a moral and a religious perspective and so being at peak fertility was considered essential for both men and women.

Aphrodisiacs are broken down into two distinct functions. Primarily they needed to be nutritional to improve fertility and performance and secondly stimulating to increase desire.  Being poorly nourished will affect semen, egg production and quality so it was considered important to eat nutritional packed foods such as seeds, roots and eggs, which were considered to contain sexual powers.

To stimulate desire it was thought that eating foods that resembled the sexual organs would produce the required result and of course there was always the hearsay element of mythology and fairy tales to establish credibility for one food or another.  Many of the foods considered by the ancient civilisations in Egypt, Greek and Roman to be aphrodisiacs are still available today, and we eat them on a regular basis.    This makes it a little difficult to determine if the rocket, pistachio nuts, carrots and basil that you eat as part of your normal diet are acting as stimulants or not.  At least most of us are no longer indulging in gladioli roots or skink lizard flesh although the French may well claim that their continued consumption of snails may have something to do with their reputation as the best lovers.


Allegedly there are a few foods that may not be helping you in the romance department but there is no definitive research on the subject.

Apparently eating too many lentils, lettuce, watercress, and water lilies might affect your performance although I suspect that there are more than a few rabbits that might disagree with that belief.


Aniseed was believed by the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans to have very special properties and they sucked the seeds to increase desire.  Aniseed was also favoured for its medicinal properties, which may explain its popularity as a sexual stimulant.  It was used to reduce flatulence (not a particularly attractive condition) remove catarrh, acts as a diuretic and as an aid to digestion combined with other herbs such as ginger and cumin.  One of its properties was to increase perspiration and one wonders if this additional heat was confused with an increase in desire.  However if you are planning a romantic interlude avoid drinking it in tea form as it was considered a very effective insomnia cure.

Asparagus was well regarded for its phallic shape and also for particular stimulating properties.  It was suggested that you fed it to your lover over a period of three days either steamed or boiled.  One explanation of its supposed success is that it acts as a liver and kidney cleanser and also a diuretic.  After three days it is likely that you might feel more energetic and also have lost a couple of pounds, guaranteed to give anyone a boost sexual or otherwise.

Almonds have long been considered the way to a girl’s heart in particular their aroma, which is supposed to induce passion in a female.  Almonds are incredibly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fat so there is no doubt that regular consumption of these and other nuts would be likely to improve overall general health and therefore fertility.  Almonds have been prepared in a number of ways over the ages but certainly the one that seems the most popular is marzipan, guaranteed to win over any sweet-toothed female, young or old.

Avocado was regarded as an aphrodisiac mainly due to its shape.  The Aztecs called the avocado tree “Ahuacuati” or testicle tree and when brought to Europe the Spanish called the fruit aquacate. Apart from the shape the fruit has a sensuous smooth texture and exotic flavour that stimulates all the senses. Again including avocados in your diet several times a week will contribute to your general health as well as possibly improving your love life.

The banana has been featured several times in my blogs on healthy and medicinal foods.  Obviously the shape played some part in its reputation as an aphrodisiac but it is very rich in potassium and B vitamins, which are both essential for healthy hormone production.  Eating one banana is unlikely to enhance sexual performance but including them on a regular basis will certainly have you firing on all cylinders.

Cloves amongst other herbs and spices contain eugenol, which is very fragrant and aromatic.  It has been used for centuries as a breath freshener, which may be hint to why in days before dental hygiene became so important eating it before a date was considered an aphrodisiac.

Chocolate like almonds has long been regarded as an enticement to females and contrary to popular belief; Cadburys were not the inventors of this delicious if very addictive treat.  The Aztecs called it the “nourishment of the Gods” probably because of the chemicals in chocolate that stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain that produce a feel good effect.  It also stimulates the production of theobromine, which is related to caffeine and would no doubt stimulate performance in other areas.

Honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was considered essential as a cure for sterility and impotence.  Even in medieval times less than scrupulous suitors would ply their dates with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey.  This was also drunk by newly-weds on their honeymoon probably acting to relax inhibitions and anxiety.  Honey is wonderfully nutritious and again including it regularly in your diet is likely to improve your general state of health, which would lead to improved sexual performance.

Mace and Nutmeg contain myristicin and some compounds related to mescaline.  Mescaline is found in Peyote cactus and has been used in South American and North American Indian cultures for over 2000 years as a hallucinogen.  This might explain why the use of mace and nutmeg in aphrodisiac potions may have produced mild euphoria and loss of inhibitions.  Hot milk and ground nutmeg has long been a night-time drink and now we know why.

Oysters were well known for their aphrodisiac qualities in Roman times and their reputation continues today.  There is some reference to their likeness to female sexual organs but the main thing going for oysters is their high content of Zinc.  This mineral is essential for male potency but if you do not have a balanced diet with other sources of zinc, eating a dozen oysters from time to time is unlikely to give you the desired results.

Saffron has been used since the times of the ancient Greeks where it was harvested from the wild yellow crocus, flowers.  Its use has since spread throughout the world and has been used for thousands of years as a medicine and as a perfume.  It is said to be an excellent aid to digestion, increases poor appetite and being antispasmodic will relieve stomach aches and tension.  More recently it has been used as a drug to treat flu-like infections, depression and as a sedative.  As far as being an aphrodisiac is concerned its most important property is likely to be its ability to regulate menstruation which would of course help lead to a better chance of conception.  It is generally a tonic and stimulant and being very versatile can be used in many dishes regularly in your diet.

I obviously could not miss out the carrot – not for the reason that some of the readers of my blog have imagined!  Carrots taken long term provide the body with a great source of vitamin A essential for our hormones and in men their sperm production.  Hence, the title of my health book.  Forget the Viagra……

There are many other foods, herbs and spices that have for one reason or another been associated with sexuality.  These include liquorice, mustard, pine nuts, pineapple, strawberries, truffles, basil, garlic, ginger and vanilla.  The one thing that is absolutely certain is that if you have an excellent balanced diet with plenty of variety you will be taking in all the above nutrients on a continuous basis and that will enable you to enjoy an active and full sex life.  Adding a few of the above ingredients will certainly do you no harm and who knows you may be able to prove if they really are all they are cracked up to be.

Answers on a postcard please……..


This was forwarded to me and I believe it is called Isabella’s aphrodisiac ice-cream.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup peeled and mashed rich ripe figs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the almonds and sauté until just golden. Remove the almonds and dry on paper towel. Put aside for later.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, or double boiler, whisk the yolks with the sugar and salt for 3 minutes, or until pale yellow. Add hot milk slowly while whisking. Place the stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmer water and cook whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the water and stir in the chilled cream, mashed figs, vanilla, and almond extract.

Chill the mixture for 30 minutes, then pour into an ice cream maker or the freezer compartment of your fridge until set.


And if all that has not got you in the mood for tomorrow… then I will have to let the King convince you.  Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day … wishing you lots of love to give and receive.  Sally

Smorgasbord Round up – Eagles, Irish Fairies, Opera and thrills and spills.


Welcome to this week’s round-up of posts you might have missed. It has been a fairly busy week as I prepare for the new series of interviews beginning in March and I am thrilled with the response. Twenty five talented authors, poets, musicians and other creative people have come forward to take part in either Book Reading at the Bookstore or The Creative Artist Interview.

Whilst there are some set questions there are also three personalised questions that I am including in each interview so as you can imagine I am taking my time with that. I hope to have them all out by Monday… It looks like I may go to two posts a week to make sure that nobody is hanging around for weeks waiting for their interview to go live. That being the case if you have not already volunteered.. here is the link which includes the format for the interviews.

Here are all the new promotional opportunities, with something for everyone, all on one page.

On the subject of promotions.

On the 21st I am off on a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate our three birthdays that are all in February. I will be taking a break from writing posts for the blog but the blog will be handed over to some fabulous and talented members of the blogging community who will be filling in for me in my absence.

I have no worries about leaving the blog for the week to fend for itself but I thought it was another promotional opportunity for you all. As well as the guest post.. I will make sure to top and tail with an intro, feature books, blog, art etc as well as links. Definitely good for the blog and perhaps a little boost for you. Especially as I will not be doing the usual book promotions that week.

If you would like to apply for the job of part-time blog sitter please come back to me by Thursday so that I can get it scheduled in time.

As always I am hugely grateful for your wonderful support, comments, shares and motivation. ♥♥

Enough of the mushy stuff.. and on with the posts from the week…..

Classical music with William Price King

William and his music

So pleased that so many of you are enjoying the last in the classical music series and the story of American soprano Leontyne Price. This week a look at her performances in the 1950s and the bigotry that she endured in her early career.

Weekly Image and Haiku

I am so lucky to have some wonderful co-hosts on occasion for the blog and one post this week seemed to touch the hearts of many of you. Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photographs has been a blogging friend for the last three years and he sent me some recent photographs of the eagles Romeo and Juliette.. he very kindly agreed to let me use one of the images for this week’s Haiku.. You can see the full sized version in the post.


Short Story – After the Festival 

Another collaboration with illustrator Donata Zawdska with After the Festival. I was very privileged to be able to use the artwork for my short story..a new one from my upcoming Tales from the Irish Garden later in the year.. I hope you enjoy.


The new interview series if you missed them last week.

Book Promotions

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves






Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

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Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers promoted this week.

If you would like to be included in the Blogger Daily then just leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of the round up today..

Smorgasbord Health – series Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


Smorgasbord health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Lung Cancer.

smorgasbord health

Humour and Afternoon Video


That is it for another week on Smorgasbord.. Couldn’t do it without you.. Please remember that it saves me time if you volunteer your news about new book releases, fantastic reviews or share your blog post link.. Help me share your work.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Cancer – Lungs

smorgasbord health

Some of you will have read the original of this post last year.. I have updated and hope that you will agree that it is an important message to get out.. Especially as there are still young people taking up smoking because it is cool!

The latest statistics indicate that there 1.1 billion smokers in the world with approximately 800,000 being men. There has been a decline in smoking in countries who have banned smoking in public places and made advertising and access to them more difficult. However, every time I go shopping in my local Tesco there are two or three people in the queue at customer services buying three or four packs of cigarettes that are dispensed from a hidden compartment. I am always staggered at the amount they are handing over which is currently 11 euro a packet.

As you will see I am an ex-smoker and I do understand the addiction to smoking.. I just know that the rewards of giving up are more than financial.  My addiction, like many of my age group began when we started passive smoking at a very early age.

Where my addiction began.

My father smoked from age 12 he told me. In his time in the Royal Navy he smoked unfiltered duty frees and he continued to smoke until his diagnosis with prostate cancer at 76 years old. He didn’t die of that but the radiation treatment he received caused a fatal blood disorder. It was over 21 years ago and treatment was a lot less refined back then.

I started smoking at 14. My father would smoke around 15 to 16 cigarettes a day and he would then throw the packet with the remaining cigarettes into the top drawer of his dresser and at the end of the week he would consolidate all the extra ones into a packet to start the week. I assumed that he lost count of how many were in the seven packets and working on that assumption; I liberated one cigarette a day for my own consumption. (I never got caught, and sometimes I wish I had been as it might have ended my addiction before it really started)

I finally gave up smoking at age 39 as I was heading for an operation of my own. I was smoking around 20 to 30 a day and apart from anything else at £1.50 a packet I could not really afford the habit. I know that at the current cost of nearly £8.50 per packet, £4,600 per year I certainly could not afford to smoke.  Of course of that £4,600 approximately £3,500 is going into governmental coffers!

Bearing in mind that it is estimated that 10 million adults smoke in the UK, and if everyone of them smoked a packet a day, the resulting money going straight into the Government pocket is around £3billion pounds a year.  Although they claim that this is to pay for health care of those that smoke I am cynical. Whilst the public message is give up smoking I wonder if they are really keen to lose those billions of revenue per year!

100,000 people die from smoking related disease each year.  That is too high a price to pay for a pleasure that simply goes up in smoke.

After 25 years I do not know if I have dodged the bullet but I do believe that I gave myself a fighting chance by giving up when I did. Addiction to anything is tough to beat. But there are plenty of options to help someone these days and they can be effective if you meet them halfway.

It is important to remember that it is not just the lungs that are at risk from smoking but all your major organs including the heart and brain. Yes, there are some lucky individuals who smoke until 100 and get away with it – but they are in the minority and usually have extraordinary immune systems that have kept them healthy.

Some of the people around them however, may not have been so lucky and here is a short but sobering extract from an article that should make any smoker think about the impact they are making on those they love and consider friends.

Breathing in other people’s smoke, also called second-hand smoke, can cause cancer. Passive smoking can increase a non-smoker’s risk of getting lung cancer by a quarter, and may also increase the risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (upper throat).

Second-hand smoke can cause other health problems too. Every year, second-hand smoke kills thousands of people in the UK from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and the lung disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).


Just the words lung cancer are enough to terrify most people but it still does not seem to deter a large number of smokers who continue to inhale carcinogenic fumes every time they light up.

Although there are work-related contaminants that can result in lung cancer such as asbestos and coal tar, they only represent around 15% of all cases of lung cancer. Smoking or inhaling second hand smoke causes the remaining 85%.

The best preventative is not to smoke at all but even giving up right now will reduce the risk from developing cancer in the future.

Cancer is a disease of abnormal cells. Normal cells reproduce through their lifetime in a controlled manner replacing old tissue and repairing damage. Abnormal cells are rogues that are out of control increasing rapidly either in a localised spot in the body (benign tumour) or by spreading throughout the body developing tumours as they go (malignant tumour). The blood and the lymphatic system provide the perfect transport for these rogue cells and when they form a new growth it is called a secondary tumour or metastasis.

There are a number of different types of cancer cell that can affect the lung but they are all opportunists and if the lung tissues are already damaged by smoking it will be vulnerable to them all.

Cilia in respiratory system

Smoke inhalation damages the normal cleansing process of the lungs so that debris and toxins can accumulate. Hair like cilia on the cells within the bronchial tubes usually beat rhythmically to move mucous continuously upward and out of the lungs but smoke that is inhaled cause these fine hairs to disappear and the lining of the bronchial tubes thickens and narrows in an effort to protect the tissues from further damage.

Perhaps seeing a pair of healthy lungs beside an image of a smokers lungs might convince you to give up smoking more than my words.  If you know people who smoke around you then you might like to share this with them.

Healthy lungssmokers-lungs


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me either in the comments section or privately on

I will be covering other lung related diseases later in the A – Z series.


New Series – Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Musicians, Bloggers, Artists, Photographers


Yesterday I posted the new interview series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore beginning in March and I am delighted to say that I already have ten authors have signed up which is a great start.

The theme is that the interviews are partly interactive with readers asking their questions in the comments section and the person being interviewed answering them there too.

I would like to welcome anyone who is a blogger, musician, artist, poet, photographer, illustrator, book reviewer, book designer or any other creative artist to feel that they are welcome here too.

It is very straightforward.

I just need you to send me your website or blog link by email to

  • I will check out your blog or website and come back to you with some set questions for you to choose from and three personalised questions.
  • You will return these with an example of your work – an extract from your most compelling blog post or short story, an example of your poetry, artwork, photography or a book review. With the reason why you have chosen this piece.
  • I will need your social media links.. in full please.. a bio and bio photograph (if you have one) if they are not on your site.

Once I have received your answers to my questions and the rest of the information I will schedule your post.

I only ask that on the day that it is scheduled that you are available to pop in over the day and the next to answer any questions in the comments.

My first guest in this series is William Price King as it is a while since I caught up with him in an interview and he has done some wonderful gigs and mentored some talented young singers in the last year.. You can find out more about him in his latest series on Classical singers..

Looking forward to adding you to the interview list.  Remember to email me on so that I can send you your five questions.