Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column – The best thing to come out of a Chicken by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the Gardening Column and in this post Paul Andruss is about the nether regions of a chicken…….

The best thing to come out of a Chicken by Paul Andruss

An egg?

An egg!!!

Why on earth would I with an egg? It’s a gardening column!

I’m talking about chicken shi… poop!

Yep, that’s the word POOP!

For hundreds of years guano was collected from rugged barren islands hosting sea bird colonies, to be used as a garden fertilizer and in the making of explosives. But these days you don’t need to row out during an Atlantic gale, you can buy it pelleted and sanitized in big plastic buckets quite cheeply (sorry, cheaply).

It is entirely natural and contains the three major nutrients plants need:

  • Nitrogen (N) – used for making new leafy green growth
  • Phosphorous (P) – used for making new roots, seeds fruits and flowers
  • Potassium (K) – used for making stems and helping keep the plant healthy

These are called NKP fertilizers.

It also contains micro-nutrients (see later)

In Turkey, where I once lived, their preferred natural fertilizer is goat poop, which is lower in nitrogen, less acidic and breaks down faster. It is also odourless.

Chicken pooh is also odourless until it either gets on your hands or the rain gets on it.

Whatever you do… don’t add it to your houseplants…. You will live to regret it!

I actually quite like the smell. (Does that make me a pervert?)

And you don’t notice the reek outdoors after the first few rain showers.

Whatever you do, don’t let the tub of chicken poop get wet or you will have stinky slurry smelling like raw ammonia!

If you want to boost nitrogen and you have a fair amount of land, or are vegan (that’s actually a little poop joke), you can grow green fertilizers such as comfrey, especially for parts of the veg patch you are leaving fallow for a later crop.

Buy a pack of comfrey seeds and scatter them in your bare patch. When grown, cut off all the leaves, chop them up and soak them for a couple of weeks in a vat of water until you get a festering stinking mess, which is then watered down with 1 part comfrey and 10 parts water. This feed is rich in nitrogen.

Comfrey has deep roots so it extracts the micro-nutrients from deep in the soil for the plants to use. The tough stems and roots can go on your compost heap.

Peas and beans actually fertilize your soil. Their roots have nodules containing bacteria that store nitrogen. Our neighbours grow broad beans and runner beans, so I told them to cut the plants off at ground level when the crop is finished and leave the roots in the soil to rot down and make the soil more fertile. The stems and leaves are for the compost heap.

Horse manure is another favourite. Unlike cows and goats, horses are not efficient digesters, so their manure is very fibrous. Plus it is mixed with straw before being sold. A word or warning: Don’t lather your garden with fresh horse poop off the road. Only use it when well-rotted!

The straw in horse manure has no nutrients but it does give structure to soil and horse manure will help increase the soil’s micro-organisms creating a healthy environment for plants to grow.

What is soil structure?

Soil consists of broken down particles of rock, clay and sand (inorganic) and decomposed plants and other creatures (organic) which not only give off elements necessary to life (NKP see above) through the action of bacteria, but create a nice fibrous crumbly feel to soil.

If you have ever bought a pot plant in compost from the garden centre you will find that in a year or two the plant is sitting in dust. This is because compost is mainly rotted veg matter and fibre. As the nutrients get used up, there is nothing left but dust.

If soil has no nutrients it is either like dust (think of a beach) or gloopy mud (think of a music festival). Rotted organic matter adds structure to the soil, stopping all the minute rock particles sticking together when wet (clay) or cracking and blowing away when dry.

Organic material like straw, poop, old dead plant roots, or rotted leaves give the soil structure allowing bacteria to live, roots to grow, water to disperse and air to get to the roots. Like any living thing you need to feed you plants. (I originally typed pets: talk about a Freudian slip!!!) Giving them organic feed is better than just chemicals because you are creating a good base (soil structure) for them to grow in.

Before we finish let’s look at some other products.

Fish blood and bone is another slow release organic NKP fertilizer made from all the left over bits of the fish on your plate. My view is that if an animal has to die for you then you might as well use as much of it as you can.

Bone meal is ground down bones. This slow release fertilizer is really good for establishing roots on new plants.

With both, throw loose handfuls about in spring and summer and water it in. When planting new plants put a handful in the bottom of the planting-hole, mix with the soil and mix another handful with soil that is going back in the hole. Scattering it directly over plants roots will damage them.

A word of warning: Don’t overdo the fertilizers! Sparse handfuls scattered over your flower beds once every couple of months are better than burying you poor plants in it. Poop is very acidic and will damage plants… too little is better than too much!

Liquid Seaweed feed is good too but expensive!

Epson Salts are not just for bad guts! You can use 2 tablespoons in a gallon of water once a month to increase flowering as it is rich in Manganese a micro-nutrient.

Finally all these organic fertilizers have micro-nutrients. There are metals and elements that every living thing has in tiny quantities, such as iron, manganese, boron chlorine, zinc and even gold and silver. Plants don’t need very much of these but they are essential. Depending on your soil some are more essential than others.

For example if you have chalky soils, such as the English South Downs, you need to feed some of your plants with an iron tonic. Chalks soils leech out iron. Plants such as rhododendrons and heathers will turn yellow and die: a bit like you with jaundice. These plants require ericaceous compost, or acid compost… available from garden centres.

If you are on neutral soil don’t worry about it.

You can check your soil type with a cheap soil Ph test. Available from garden centres.

Have fun!

©Paul Andruss 2019

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally

 

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


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

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

History of Wateford Castle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Updates and reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss – This week Spring Bulbs – Part Two – Daffodils, Narcissus, Jonquils.


Welcome to the second of Paul’s Gardening posts and you will discover that not only is Paul Andruss is an exceptional writer, he also has a very great knowledge of plants.

This week Spring Bulbs – Part Two – Daffodils, Narcissus, Jonquils.

Pre-Raphaelite J Waterhouse’s Echo & Narcissus, in Liverpool Art Gallery I would often see it as a kid (Google Art Project)

In mythology Narcissus was a beautiful Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Unable to tear himself away he eventually withered away, or committed suicide, becoming a flower which hangs its head over streams to that it can contemplate its own beauty.

There are various ideas about which narcissus flower the boy became and no agreement. Indeed it might not have been the flower we call narcissus at all. No one knows.

Narcissus poeticus (Wikipedia)

Some claim it is one of the wild narcissi found around the Mediterranean. Most popularly the flower is thought to be Narcissus Poeticus. The name narcissus is Greek related to narcotic. In an enclosed room the scent from Poeticus is strong enough to induce headaches and vomiting.

Narcissi Jonquil (RHS.Org)

Jonquils are also highly perfumed. The essential oil has been used in perfumery for hundreds of years and is still used today.

Narcissi have been cultivated since ancient Greece and were possibly brought to Europe during the Crusades. In the 1550s narcissi cultivers were grown commercially in Holland; especially double daffodils and narcissi, grown from Narcissus Tazetta.

The name daffodil is a corruption of another Mediterranean plant Asphodel which was believed to be a lily. Since early times narcissus were called affodels.

Asphodelus Ramosus grew wild in spring in Turkey (Wikipedia)

In the 1500s daffofils went by the name daffadown dilly or daffydowndilly as well as the Lent Lily. Shakespeare mentions wild daffodils growing in England, hinting at a long history of cultivation in the country that had allowed them to naturalise.

Although daffodils are the national flower of Wales, they are not that keen on the damp climate and were quite hard to grow there. Despite the myth of Narcissus and his reflection, they originally tended to grow on rocky hillsides.

Traditionally narcissi were used as cures for cancer and dysentery, as emetics, to relieve aching joints and even as cures for baldness and as aphrodisiacs. Today they have been found to contain anti-viral and bacterial properties and most fascinating at all galantamine used to combat Alzheimer’s.

Daffodils will take you from early spring with small species such as February Gold all the way through to late April with the double and scented varieties. New varieties are being introduced every year. There are far too many to illustrate.

Some narcissus cultivars (wikipedia)

Daffodils and narcissi like to be planted deep, around 3 times the height of the bulb. Failing to plant them deep enough prevents them flowering. However they can right themselves if planted upside down, and over time will drag themselves down to the right flowering depth, although it might take a number of years.

People often plant narcissi in a lawn, then want to mow the lawn after the bulbs have finished flowering but are still growing. Cutting down the leaves at this stage saps their strength and they will stop flowering and they eventually die out. After flowering you should take off the old daffodil heads to stop seed developing as this leads to more bulbs and larger clumps. Finally never cut off or tie up the untidy leaves after flowering. It is far better to let them die off naturally to keep the plants healthy. This was they will multiply quickly.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Bloggers Bash Nominations, Winter Warmers, Arizona, Spring Bulbs and all that Jazz


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed on Smorgasbord this week.

We are actually enjoying some sunshine despite very cold temperatures and we are hoping it is a sign spring is on its way. I know for many of you in the UK and USA, this has been a very tough couple of weeks with snow and storms, so hopefully you too will have a more settled week ahead.

It is hard to ignore the turmoil going on in the world, especially as the press is having a field day with fake news, assumptions, predictions, fear-mongering, pot-stirring and allegations. There may be a reason that we as yet have not been invaded by an alien species. I suggest that they have popped in from time to time, to the excitement of the UFO buffs, and exited rapidly when they see what they might be getting into.

The actions of those in power are completely at odds with the promises made in their wonderful election speeches, and at the very least they should be prosecuted for false advertising and misrepresentation.

Meanwhile, in the real world, all we can do is keep doing what we are doing and try to stay as positive as possible.

If all else fails………..

My thanks to my regular contributors who continue to spread a positive message and to your for dropping in and liking, commenting and sharing..

And on that note……

I was very honoured to be nominated for the Best Book Blog award, and my thanks to those who put my name forward. Voting begins at the end of March and you still have time to nominate your favourite bloggers in the new categories. The links are in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-nomination-best-book-blog/

This week William Price King shares the life and music of legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-jazz-charlie-bird-parker-saxaphone/

Paul Andruss with some suggestions to bring colour to your garden with early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-rewind-light-up-your-life-with-brilliant-bulbs-part-1-early-spring-bulbs/

Carol Taylor shares some recipes that are easy to prepare and that will warm the cockles of your heart…..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-winter-warmers-stews-and-casseroles/

Debby Gies is still on vacation in Mexico and busily creating future travel posts about this fantastic vacation spot, but in the meantime, she gives us a guided tour of Jerome, Arizona which is a preserved copper mining town that generated billions for investors.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-jerome-arizona-mining-town-with-d-g-kaye/

Joy Lennick shares two poems that bridge the end of winter and the start of spring.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-poetry-spring-by-joy-lennick/

Welcome to the blog for the first time to romance author Laura M. Baird who shares her love of country, music and tattoos, as well as one of the craziest and most detailed dream

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-romance-author-laura-m-baird/

I am now participating in is Diana Peach’s monthly speculative fiction challenges and this month she had a delightful photo prompt. My story is called ‘The 1812 Overture”

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-short-stories-diana-wallace-peach-februarys-speculative-fiction-prompt-the-1812-overture-by-sally-cronin/

Another of my weekly challenges is the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/smorgasbord-short-story-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-sea-mist-by-sally-cronin/

It is that time of the week when I get my syllables in lines in response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 122.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/smorgasbord-poetry-colleens-weekly-poetry-challenge-122-poets-choice-etheree-metamorphosis-by-sally-cronin/

It is February 1986 and we are preparing for my birthday and I get a new car.

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1986-birthday-party-and-new-car/

Relationships – So far I have covered respect, recognition, relations in Previous Chapters, which leads me very conveniently into relationships. In this first part, I am looking at the socialisation of children before and during school that form the basis of their relationship skills in the wider world.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relationships-in-a-modern-world-part-one-childhood-by-sally-cronin/

Author Updates and reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-bette-a-stevens-fiona-tarr-and-jan-sikes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-miriam-hurdle-linda-g-hill-and-mark-d-giglio/

Every year, 4.2million people die worldwide within 30 days of surgery. This is a staggering 1.23million more deaths than HIV, TB and malaria combined makes up 7.7% of all fatalities – with only heart disease and stroke killing more. You can make a difference to this statistic by preparing for elective surgeries in the weeks before the operation.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-health-column-new-statistics-on-surgery-recovery-that-are-shocking-and-preparing-for-an-operation/

The next chapter in my rollercoaster weight gain and loss history, with a pattern emerging that linked a number of physical events in my life, antibiotics, candida albicans and stress together.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-morbid-obesity-a-physical-rollercoaster-anti-biotics-candida-hormones-yo-yo-dieting/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-funnies-and-things-kids-say/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives-3/

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have an amazing week……

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Gardening Column Rewind – Light up your life with brilliant bulbs – Part 1: Early Spring Bulbs


Welcome to the second of Paul’s Gardening posts and you will discover that not only is Paul Andruss is an exceptional writer, he also has a very great knowledge of plants. This week bulbs that blossom into brilliant colour in the spring garden

Light up your life with brilliant bulbs –  Part 1: Early Spring Bulbs

When I talk about bulbs I am also including corms and tubers, basically anything with a fleshy base that sits underground. Technically they are different but you can treat them much the same way.

People think of bulbs as daffodils and tulips, and tubers such as dahlias and irises. They are so much more. Bulbs will take you right through the year. Their purpose is to provide a hit of vibrant colour for year after year. Most only flower once in the year and at different time and after flowering, die back leaving room for other plants to come up through where they stood. People often buy mixed bags of bulbs making the mistake thinking they will all come up at once.

Bulbs are relatively cheap and will romp away if you get them in the right place. Being a miser, I buy stuff from bargain shops and supermarkets. Mail order is usually pretty good for more specialist bulbs. Or plan ahead and buy bulbs, which have finished flowering, dirt cheap from garden centres desperate to sell them off. Like most things buying wisely is simply a matter of confidence.

Most spring bulbs like to be kept dry in summer when the trees are sucking up moisture from the soil and prefer shelter from the full summer sun so plant them in flower beds with good well-draining soil and with some shade, like under trees and shrubs in the garden or in pots.

As a rule of thumb all bulbs should be planted 21/2 times as deep as they are tall. Cyclamen should be planted literally just under the surface while you cannot plant tulips deep enough. The earlier in winter a bulb flowers, the smaller the flower usually is. Here is a list of early flowering bulbs running from January to March.

Winter Aconite (RHS.org)

Winter aconite (Eranthis) is a little patch of sunshine belonging to the buttercup family. It is one of the first bulbs to come up.

Double snowdrop (Eurobulbs)

Snowdrops are easy to grow and clump well. There are about 25 species including double flowered varieties. They have a taller relative called the Snowflake which flowers late spring and into early summer.

2 foot high Summer Snowflake Leucojum Aestivum (Gardinia.net)

Saffron crocus: grown in Wales (Orange stamens are saffron) (Lovethegarden.com)

Crocus is one of the easiest bulbs to grow and will grow anywhere except in thick claggy soil. The two golden stamens of the Saffron Crocus are the spice saffron: the most expensive spice in the world. Britain used to be a thriving saffron producer but the industry died out by the early 20th Century. It is now being revived, perhaps something to try for yourself?

In the Middle-Ages merchants would often travel with a small leather bag of saffron tied under their testicles. The exact location is called the isthmus (I kid you not). As saffron was worth more than its weight in gold, it provided an easily overlooked insurance policy in case of robbery. I mean, would you go rooting down there? And don’t try pulling the old … well, if he looked like George Cooney. Let me tell you, very few medieval merchants looked like George Clooney; and none smelled like him. While we’re on the subject of smells, I can categorically guarantee the secret location is in no way related to the spice’s somewhat dusky odour.

Glory of the Snow (JParker.co.uk)

Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow), Siberian Squill & Puschkinia are related to asparagus and come from Turkey and Greece.

Siberian squill (illinoiswildflowers.com)

Puschkiniascilloides (Pacific bulb society)

Iris Reticulata (RHS.org)

Iris Reticulata is the earliest of the bulb irises. The delicate flowers do get hammered by the rain, but the later spring flowering Dutch iris bulbs are taller and tough as old boots. I bought 30 bulbs for under £2.00. There is no excuse not to treat yourself!

Dutch Iris (JParkers.co.uk)

As most of the above bulbs are from mountainous places with a thin well-drained soil none of this group like sitting in wet heavy soil. Therefore they tend to do better in pots or slight slopes for drainage. If your soil is heavy or clay, dig areas out to 8 inches deep, put a 1 inch layer of horticultural grit down beneath the bulbs then cover them with a mix of the soil with 50% horticultural sand and grit to help drainage.

White & purple naturalised hyacinths (Wikipedia)

Hyacinths are grown indoors for their distinctive perfume. Indoor Hyacinths are prepared by plant sellers to flower early and more compact. You cannot take them out of the garden and expect the same results. You need to buy them new each year, which is a lot easier then preparing them for indoor flowering. Old indoor bulbs will flower normally in the garden for year after year later in spring.

Hyacinthus was a beautiful boy jealously loved by the West Wind. Seeing the sun god Apollo cosying up to Hyacinthus over a discus (discus; not disco: think lethal frisbee) the West Wind became jealous. Catching the discus he caused it to veer off-course and accidently killed his beloved. From the boy’s life-blood soaking the ground, the purple hyacinth bloomed. (What is it with these Greek Gods? Couldn’t they keep it in their trousers? Ok, so the Ancient Greeks didn’t wear trousers. But that’s no excuse!)

Bi-colour muscari latifolium (fluwel.com)

Grape Hyacinths or Muscari are easy, early-blooming cousins. Recently they have been bred as bicolours.

Hardy Cyclamen (Rhs.org)

Cyclamen are another big flowered indoor plant that have small flowered hardy outdoor varieties such as Cyclamen Neapolitanum that thrive nestling under bushes and trees. Seedpods develop on the ends of the flower stems which curl back like springs. When the seeds are ripe the seedpods explode at the end of the spring hurling the seeds over a wide area, so you get plants growing everywhere.

Plants for free! You can’t go wrong with that!

©Paul Andruss 2018

Thanks to Paul for that very colourful display of flowers we can populate our gardens with. Certainly looking forward to seeing mine appear in the pots at the front of the house.

 

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Gardening, Farm antics, #Numerology and Apricots…guests, music and humour


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week and it whilst snow causes havoc in the UK we have enjoyed cold but sunny days…. perhaps I shouldn’t talk too soon.

As always my thanks to those who have contributed their time and writing talent this week and also to you for popping in and keep the posts circulating.. It is much appreciated.

A repeat of Paul Andruss’s popular gardening column from last year.. this week an introduction and next week early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/02/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-rewind-introduction-by-paul-andruss/

This week I look at the health benefits of eating apricots and Carol Taylor includes them in recipes for all the family.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-healthy-apricots-and-recipes/

This week a look at the impact of constant change on the way we eat and how a child can suffer from chronic stress.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/02/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-obesity-change-and-stress-reaction-by-sally-cronin/

Down on the farm you need grit to cope with the guts… and poor Billy more than most..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-farm-life-gotta-have-guts-by-linda-bethea/

Annette Rochelle Aben sets us on the right path with our universal energies for February

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-with-annette-rochelle-aben-your-monthly-universal-energy-february-2019/

This week my guest is author Anne Goodwin sharing her swimming challenges, singing prowess and her preference for town or country…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-anne-goodwin/

The R’s of Life – Relations – the importance of the herd

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relations-survival-in-a-modern-society-by-sally-cronin/

It is 1999 Sam gets kittens, another job move for David and I start to work with an agent with music from Ricky Martin.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1999-literary-agents-sam-and-is-babies-and-david-goes-to-madrid/

My response to or Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 121 and my prompt this week was this video…..

It is early February 1986 and I go with David up to Dallas for a couple of days and we visit South Fork ranch of the TV drama fame.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1986-trip-to-dallas-southfork-ranch-and-tornedoes/

Author Update

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-update-reviews-news-audrey-driscoll-brigid-p-gallagher-christoph-fischer-and-shehanne-moore/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-cynthia-reyes-frank-prem-and-annika-perry/

The health benefits of rocking… not just for babies but as an aid to a good night’s sleep too. And I also take a close look at the stages of sleep, and why watching a horror movie last thing at night is not the best thing.. for anyone!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/smorgasbord-health-column-rocking-motion-is-not-just-soothing-for-babies-and-benefits-of-sleep/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-facts-of-life-and-a-joke-from-the-archives/

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-or-two-from-the-archives/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column Rewind – Introduction by Paul Andruss.


Since some of you were not here a year ago when we featured the Gardening Column, we thought we would repeat the series. You will discover that not only is Paul Andruss is an exceptional writer, he also has a very great knowledge of plants.

About the Gardening Column

Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men (with little weed) BBC-1952

I was flattered when Sally offered me the Gardening writing position. Then I got a nervous thinking what I could usefully say. Gardening advice columns tend to be local.

Smorgasbord has a huge readership spanning the world north to south and east to west.
Readers and contributors are not only based close to home across the UK and Eire, and within mainland Europe, like Germany, but are as far flung as Australia, Thailand and South Africa, to say nothing of Canada and the entire width of the United States. How do you cater for all?

To give an example, if you transplant a cherry tree from England to Singapore, instead of deciduous tree producing blossom followed by lush fruit it will become evergreen and never flower. It is not for nothing gardeners the world over say it’s all about getting the right plant in the right place.
As Sally can attest from when she lived in Spain (hills outside Madrid), and I know from Turkey (both areas are roughly the same latitude), winter is short and mild. although Turkey gets cold Russian winds from the Steppes often bringing snow down to Istanbul. In Bodrum, the cold winter winds would see off most of the garden that was thriving a week before.

For us winter lasted from the last week in December to the middle of February, when the hillsides were alive with spring flowers. The big dead time was the height of summer. It was so hot and dry most foreign plants, no matter how much water they had, simply gave up the ghost.

English Garden plants that flowered all summer long in the UK would be flowering within weeks, live for a month and die. By November their seeds would have grown and be flowering until the winter winds cut them down.

This so called Mediterranean climate is found in California, South African Cape, Chile and the Southern Coast of Australia. Yet even in the Mediterranean, no two Mediterranean climates are the same. If you look at North America, California’s Mediterranean climate is not reflected in other states lying between the same latitudes such as Virginia, South Carolina Utah, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and Kentucky, just to name a few.

So how do you know what to grow and how to extend the variety of plants in your garden?
Here is a table of plant hardiness zones based on minimum winter temperatures.

But as you probably guessed that is only half the story. For example some Mediterranean, South Africa and California plants are quite happy with the temperatures in a cold greenhouse, almost 700 foot up a hill in Wales: although none survive outside due to the wet. Winters here are mild, reaching 11C the past few days (or 52F) mostly staying above freezing and only betting below -5C around (21F) once or twice a year.

But my plants suffer from lack of sunlight in the short dull days; too little or too much water or sitting in cold damp soil, even though they have thrived in the same soil all summer long. Others rot when the damp greenhouse warms up during the day and a cold dew forms on the leaves at night.

So given I’ve not put you off gardening for life… when I talk about plants think about your local conditions. See what available in local market and garden centres.

And if you decide to go a bit more specialist there is plenty of information on the internet.

For example I grow some South African plants as annuals, either grown from seed or bought as plug plants from the garden centre each year because I can’t keep them alive over winter and I would rather use the space for plants I can nurture through.

Speaking to friends, I find they are scared to buy plants because they don’t know what they are. Hopefully this column will help you feel more comfortable with a wider variety of plants, so that when you see them for sale you will recognise them and want to give them a try. So let me tell you about different and unusual varieties of plants to brighten your garden and home. Shine some light on their romance and history so they become memorable.

And as for finding the right plant for the right place, plant families are pretty broad and many plants look similar, so if one particular plant won’t thrive where you are, there are bound to be alternatives.

©Paul Andruss 2018 Images.

I hope you are as excited as I am to be at the receiving end of Paul’s extensive knowledge and it is a timely reminder for me to get going on my recently created borders to the new lawn.

Finn Mac Cool

Find out more about Paul Andruss, his books and previous posts: HERE

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Die Hard, Detox, Resolutions, Food, Music, Humour


Another quietish week for us after a very peaceful New Year’s Eve which we spent watching the final Die Hard movie of our binge session. Seeing them back to back over five days was great, and brought back memories of where we were in the years we saw them the first time around, starting in 1988. It is amazing how you remember the overall plot but forget detail. We are making a start on Mission Impossible and then The Bourne series next. Keep us out of trouble for a bit anyway.

Over the next few weeks there will be some new series beginning that I hope you will find interesting… in the meantime…here are the posts from the week in case you missed any.

A look back at 2018 and a thank you to the regular contributors who write such amazing posts for the blog. Also a look at what is to come in 2019.

Thomas the Rhymer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-happy-new-year/

Paul Andruss gave us a New Year’s Gift of a four part story The Legend of the Golden Flower, set in ancient Japan and filled with wonderfully researched detail. You can read the complete story and also follow the link to a follow up post on the background to the tale.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-legend-of-the-golden-flower-by-paul-andruss/

I was delighted to welcome Annette Rochelle Aben to the team with the first of her monthly Numerology posts. The first looking at our universal energy for 2019 and the month of January.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-with-annette-rochelle-aben-your-monthly-universal-energy-january-2019/

Linda Bethea with more tales of her extended family – life in Houston has its ups and downs. The Pink Cupcake, the Hussy and the Promise..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-linda-bethea-the-pink-cupcake-the-hussy-and-the-promise/

The new season of the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome new interviewees to the interview series, and if you have participated before.. no worries, just pick a different five questions to answer..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-2019/

I want to share this post again for any authors who are new to the blog – The Cafe and Bookstore is a FREE promotional opportunity to showcase your work on a regular basis here on the blog and across my social media. 

The first step is a ‘New Book on the Shelves‘ promotion, followed by regular updates in the twice weekly posts. Any new releases will also have their own individual post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-2019-free-book-promotion/

I did a tongue-in-cheek look at New Year’s Resolutions… with some suggestions how you might get them achieved!!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/something-to-think-about-so-how-are-those-new-year-resolutions-going-for-you/

Another trip down memory lane to 1995 – mechanical bull riding (or destruction) and Annie Lennox.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1995-east-anglia-and-annie-lennox/

To get the New Year off to a good start (for your body anyway) I began a short series – The Gentle Detox.

I don’t approve of starving a body into submission, especially after a period of indulgence. I especially do not recommend ‘crash diets’ as this can cause a great deal of stress physically and mentally.  Here are the posts so far….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-introduction-and-phase-one-before-you-begin-your-weight-loss-programme/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-two-eat-food-your-body-recognises-and-can-work-with/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-three-willpower/

A series that is worth repeating for the benefit of those who missed the first time around – Cook from Scratch.

In this post I share an alternative breakfast that I ate several time a week in the 17 years I lived in Madrid… Spanish style tomato cocktail on toast..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-tomatoes-for-breakfast-spanish-style/

I try my hand at a new format that Colleen Chesebro has introduced us to in the first of her Tuesday Poetry challenge No. 117 – Poets choice.   A Shadorma… if you have not participated in this challenge, I do recommend as it stretches both our poetic muscles and your creativity.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-poetry-challenge-117-poets-choice/

The first of the Cafe updates for 2019 – a place to share recent reviews and new releases.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-mary-adler-rachele-baker-dvm-marina-osipova-and-terry-tyler/

D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies shares some of the funnies from around the web… and I find a joke from my archives.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-new-material-the-cornier-the-better/

Thank you for starting the New Year with me and I hope that you have enjoyed the show so far. Look forward to seeing you again soon.. thanks Sally.

Writing the Legend of the Golden Flower by Paul Andruss


Tayu (1870 Portrait – Unknown – Public Domain)

A number of things inspired the new Legend of the The Golden Flower Story for Christmas Smorgasbord. It is about the loss of childhood innocence and poses the question: What is truth?

As a child I read a Japanese folktale about the chrysanthemum. It was in one of those ‘Stories from Around the World’ books, we must have all been bought as kids for Christmas. In the story a girl with a dying mother, does an old man a kindness. He is a powerful spirit (kami). He rewards her. Her mother will live a month for each petal on a chrysanthemum flower. Only a few petals remain, so she cuts them into slivers, creating the much loved chrysanthemum pompom and giving her mother a long life.

Imperial Japanese Chrysanthemum seal & cultivated variety (Adapted)

The chrysanthemum was cultivated in China 3,500 years ago. It was arrived in Japan around than 2,000 years later. One legend says the Chinese Emperor sent the chrysanthemum to Japan hoping to exchange it for the magical herb of youth, so he could become immortal. When the flower arrived in Japan the 16-petal chrysanthemum became the symbol of the sacred Emperor.

The story is set in the 1650s during the Edo period of Japanese history. In the Edo period, chrysanthemum growing took off and endless varieties were created. During the Edo period Japanese culture blossomed. After centuries of civil war the country was at peace under a strong warlord (shogun) dynasty. Traditional Kabuki theatre originated in the Edo period. I wanted to incorporate the story of kabuki as it always fascinated me. I only learned over the past year it started out as an entertainment revolution.

In the Edo Period, large numbers of young Samurai warriors were made redundant by their warlords. They became Ronin – without a master. Ill-suited to work they ended up as hooligan gangs. Izume no Okuni was going out with a ronin samurai. She was a “priestess” (your guess as to her actual duties are as good as mine).

To make money for her boyfriend she started busking: singing and dancing in Kyoto. Like a Japanese Madonna she dressed outrageously and became a star. She taught a troupe of women a mixture of burlesque and farce, and set up a theatre company – think Bette Midler and the Harlettes. They were a massive success and so wild they were called the Kabukimono: the crazy ones.

Izume no Okuni (Unknown: Public Domain)

The Shogun banned them because they were causing public disorder and represented a satirical seditious element in a country only recently tamed. The fact they knocked about with bad-boy samurai didn’t help. He accused the kabukimono of being prostitutes. To be fair he was right. In Japan prostitution was not viewed like it was in the West. It was a career. His clamp-down created ‘business’ districts. In Kyoto this was Shimabara.

The story’s brothel owner is Yarite-San. Yarite means Madam. San at the end shows respect. She calls her old apprentice Fujiko-chan. Fujiko, a woman’s name, means Wisteria. Chan is a term of endearment. Yarite-San has black painted teeth. The Emperor’s court painted their teeth with black enamel. As most people had bad teeth, I though this levelled the playing field.

The opposite was true. It was a lengthy and expensive procedure, done weekly, to prevent tooth decay.

Prostitution was organised in Japan. There were different levels, from street walkers to high class escorts. The lowest prostitutes were kept in behind bars. No, not bars as in “do you fancy going for a drink after work?” This was to stop clients pawing them before paying up.

Yoshiwara_Girls (Kusakabe Kimbei – Public Domain)

High class escorts were orian. As skilled entertainers, they offered more than horizontal services. The highest orian (Japanese use the same word for singular and plural nouns) were called Tayū.

The charge for one night with a tayū cost more than working blokes earned in a year. Tayū were skilled in music, dance, flower arranging, poetry and the all-important tea ceremony. Clients had to go through a middleman to meet a tayū.

Shimabara Tayu (mfa.Org)

Tayū eventually became geisha (Art-Person). Originally geishas also offered personal services. Today they are strictly entertainers with no extras.

Young girls were sold to brothels at the age of 10 by poverty stricken parents. They became maids to the courtesans. Around 14 they became trained in artistic skills and worked their way up the courtesan grades. Officially they did not start sleeping with clients until 18 or 19.

Believe that if you will. Like in lots of other countries, including 18th century Europe, their virginity was sold to the highest bidder.

Girls were given 10-year apprentice contracts. When they paid the Yarite back they were free to leave. Very few did. Clothes, make-up and training cost money – they were kept in debt.

The Yarite made 90% on every deal. Depressingly syphilis was rife and abortion practices barbaric, many girls died young.

If a girl was lucky, a rich man might buy her contract and she would become his courtesan or even his wife. As wife or courtesan she was property with no rights. He could kill her with impunity.

Japan isolated itself in the Edo period and did not let foreigners back in until the American Pacific expansion after the 1899 American war in the Philippines. (Theodore Roosevelt fought in that as young man.) This is what Puccini’s 1903 opera Madam Butterfly is about: the affair between a geisha and an American Naval Officer.

The Chief Warlord in the Edo period was called the Shogun, like the book by James Clavell. The book is based on fact. A British pilot on a Dutch ship got to Japan, which had previously been the domain of the Portuguese. He lived during the reign of my shogun’s granddad.

Like all warrior societies homosexuality was tolerated in Japan, as it was in Ancient Greece and Rome and among the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire. In many societies, masculinity was defined in terms of who was on top. Homosexuality and prostitution was not outlawed until Japan started adopting Western ideas in the 1900s.

Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (Public Domain)

When shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, banned women performing in Kabuki, the troupes became all-male. Happily this did not stop Kabuki being associated with prostitution. Pretty young boys playing the female roles were in a lot of demand.

Tokugawa Iemitsu preferred boys to girls, although he had lots of wives, concubines, and children by them. At 20 he murdered his samurai male lover in a hot tub after a spat. He ordered his popular brother to commit ritual suicide (seppuku).

Tokugawa Iemitsu was not a fan of foreign influences, especially Christianity. There were half a million Christians in Nagasaki. (Yes, the city we dropped the atomic bomb on was the biggest Christian city in Japan.) He threw out foreigners, including the Christian priests, and demanded Japanese Christians renounce their faith. There was a rebellion in Nagasaki. He crushed it mercilessly, crucifying the rebels.

The Japanese religion of Shinto, believes everything has a soul and the spirit world intermingles with ours. After 100 years even tools and household objects acquire a soul.

Creatures that never made the final cut of the story include an umbrella kami (spirit) and a possessed lute that encouraged to girl to play beautifully. They were taken out because they slowed down the story.

Creatures the girl meets are genuine kami (spirits) and Yokai (demons); lovingly told to her by her mother’s maid. My favourite is the Kitsune, the fox kami. Foxes are semi-divine guardians of shrines. When a fox reaches 50 years old, it learns how to shapeshift into a woman. At 100, it becomes a celestial fox with 9 tails.

Finally, if you haven’t dropped off …

I said at the beginning, this story is also about truth.

It is never explicitly said whether the spirits and demons the girl sees are real. Everything is there in the story for the reader to make up their own mind. Whatever conclusions you reach are valid.

You won’t get this until you read the story, but let me draw your attention to the Nat King Cole song: A Blossom Fell …

“The Gypsies say, and I know why
A falling blossom only touches lips that lie”

There is an argument that says we never objectively see truth. Every truth is our own subjective version. We are the hero in the story of our life. When we recall incidents we filter them through opinions and emotions and adjust them to suit ourselves. Memories are liquid.

Different versions of a story are equally true. None are absolutely true. History is simply agreed fiction.

I hope you enjoy my fiction and decide your own truth as to what this story says to you.

Exterior & interior of traditional Japanese House (Adapted)

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

My thanks to Paul for sharing the background and research for this amazing story, that you can read in full The Legend of the Golden Flower

As always we love to receive your comments. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Legend of the Golden Flower (Final Part) by Paul Andruss


FINAL PART

Spring was in Kyoto, if not yet in the mountains. The road into the city was lined with peasants preparing rice fields. The blossoming plum orchards hummed with bees.

The round moon-gate to the Spring Palace was flanked by pots of dwarfed cherry trees dripping in pink tinged flowers. Okurimono peered into the courtyard, thinking she had never seen anything so beautiful. Its pavilions looked to be as much of a playground for the gods as the formidable donjon of the shōgun’s castle.

The guards at the gate stepped forward, jabbing the air with iron tipped bamboo spears.

“Scram!” cried one.

“Come back in a few years. You’re too young for a tart,” laughed his friend.

Okurimono did not flinch. After the dangers she faced on the mountain road, these men seemed foolish.

“I come from the Lady Fujiko-san for Okaa-san, the Lady Yarite of the Spring Palace.”

She reached into the bento bag and presented the piece of jade.

“Step inside.” said one as the other shouted a curt order at an old servant woman.

Ignoring the soldiers, but bowing low to Okurimono, the old servant gestured her to follow.

Inside the compound, Okurimono was surprised to see many finely dressed and immaculately painted women kneeling patiently inside a cage.

“Who are they?” she asked in awe of their beauty and clothing.

“Do not look at them,” hissed the old servant woman. “They are yūjo, available to anyone with the price, no matter samurai or peasant.”  With many impatient gestures she waved Okurimono past the women.

Outside a grand house, with a majestic cedar shingled roof, the servant signalled Okurimono to wait as she hurried up the veranda steps with much bowing to the servants at the door. A few moments later a magnificently dressed old woman came out.

Remembering her manners, Okurimono, got down on her knees and bowed her forehead to the floor. ‘Okaa-san.’

“No,” snapped the old woman harshly. “Who are you?”

‘Tengoku no Okurimono,’ she answered. Kow-towing with supreme politeness Okurimono presented the jade and letter stating her business.

“Wait,” said the magnificently dressed old woman and hurried inside.

She reappeared moments later. “Come.”

Okurimono took off her shoes on the veranda. A maid hastened out to take her benyo bag, hat and kosode. Another appeared with towels and a bowl of jasmine scented water to wash her hands and face. A third and fourth opened and readjusted the folds of her kimonos. When the magnificently dressed old woman considered her presentable, she impatiently gestured for the inner screens to be slid open.

Okurimono followed her to a room where a large handsome old woman knelt on a cushion. She wore an ornate black wig with many combs and was dressed in the most exquisite embroidered black kimono Okurimono had ever seen, extravagantly tied with bright obi sash.

In her hand was her mother’s letter.

Knowing this must be the Lady Yarite, Okurimono dropped to the floor touching her forehead to fine woven tatami matting. ‘Okaa-san.’

“Stand up child.”

Okurimono obeyed.

“So Tengoku no Okurimono, you are my Fujikochan’s daughter.”

The old woman smiled revealing the black lacquered teeth of the Emperor’s court. It left Okurimono in doubt of her importance. She bowed trembling, barely daring to speak.

“Fujikochan was my greatest achievement and most bitter disappointment. Now she sends you. Come, tell me everything from the beginning. I am greedy for gossip of your mother and that rascal Uco.”

Bearing in mind Ucosan’s advice, Okurimono knew everything depended on her story. This had to be the best performance she had ever given. To win over such an august person as Okaa-san, she must use all her skills.

As she told her story, Okurimono was pleased to see Okaa-san smile. Once or twice she burst out laughing, without covering her mouth. She sounded as hearty and common as Ucosan. When the old woman laughed Okurimono paused, so she would not miss the next part of her tale. During these lulls she snatched sly glances at the maids giggling breathlessly behind their hands, sounding no louder than mice.

At times Okaa-san slightly declined her head, causing two maids to rush forward with dazzling white handkerchiefs to dab beneath her eyes, so no tears would mar her perfect make-up. As Okurimono paused, she noticed the maids slyly take handkerchiefs from their sleeves to dab under their own eyes.

She bowed when finished, as much to conceal a smile of triumph, as respect for her honoured patron.

“Tengoku no Okurimono: Heavenly Gift. Indeed, your mother sent me a rare gift in you. How like your mother you are. In your wild tale of yokai and kami I hear my dear Ucochan. She was always a liar,” she added with affection.

“What is it child, out with it.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is ill, Okaa-san. I beg of you, arrange an interview with the shōgun’s mother, my grandmother.’

The old woman laughed aloud. Snatching a handkerchief from a maid to wipe her own eyes, she ruined her make-up. Catching her breath she asked, “Your mother told you this?”

‘Ucosan.’ the girl replied.

“No doubt she did.”

Okurimono looked puzzled.

“Child, the shōgun’s mother died long ago and his brother ordered to kill himself before you were conceived. A rich Nagasaki merchant bought your mother’s contract. I told her not to accept; she had a place with me. Your mother did not listen.

“A few years after you were born, the shōgun expelled the Portuguese black priests infesting Nagasaki like a plague and banned all foreigners from the land. He ordered all Nippon to recant the filthy superstition of their shamefully crucified god.”

“Many in Nagasaki, rich on foreign trade, rebelled against our rightful lord. Your father was crucified, along with his family. His wealth confiscated. Your mother, as his concubine, was to be sold. I helped her escape over the mountains with what wealth she could carry.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is dying.’

“She said she was dying in her letter. What do you want, child?”

‘Respectfully Okaa-San, I came for the imperial chrysanthemum to heal my mother.’

“Only the Emperor has the imperial chrysanthemum. It is rare and expensive. Fortunately I have a taste for rare and expensive things.”

“Shall we make a deal, you and I? The flower in payment for a contract binding you to me. I shall train you as I trained your mother. Make you the greatest tayū in Kyoto. What are your skills? Do you know the tea ceremony?”

‘Yes.’

“Flower arranging?”

‘A little.’

“Can you write poetry?”

‘I can write my name, but I can sing and dance. I can show you.’

“Are you not exhausted, child?”

‘Woman is made to serve and please. Pain and weariness are her lot,’ said Okurimono formally. ‘Everything worthwhile has a price, Okaa-San.’

“Art demands the greatest price of all. It is what I taught your mother.”

A maid brought Okurimono a long necked shamisen and a plectrum. Okurimono deftly tuned the lute’s three strings and began a lament from the ancient tale of Genji.

When the song ended, Okaa-San asked. “How old are you child?”

‘In a few moons I reach my twelfth year.’

“The same age as your mother when she came to me. Normally, I do not begin training until girls are a few years older.”

She clapped her hands. A maid hurried carrying a potted plant. The imperial chrysanthemum had one large bloom, a golden daisy surrounded by sixteen broad petals. “Do we have a bargain?”

Okurimono could have wept with joy. ‘Oh yes, Okaa-San.’

* * *

With all the excitement, sleep eluded Okurimono. Okaa-San had promised to send a litter to collect her mother. By tomorrow evening, Okurimono would see her mother and Ucosan, and know if things had transpired as the nine tailed fox, Lady Mae, promised.

Drifting off to sleep, a premonition made Okurimono open her eyes and sit up. Her mother stood in her room. Wan as moonlight, she flickered to and fro like the flame of an oil lamp guttering in a draft. At times she almost faded away until Okurimono could see the panels of the shoji screen through her. This was her spirit image, her ikiryō, a living person’s soul most often seen near death, when the chains of life are weakest.

She cried out in anguish.

A maid rushed in, bowing as if to an honoured guest. “Okurimono-San?”

Okurimono knew what she had to do. ‘Bring scissors. Quickly.’

Ucosan told a story of how a girl cleverly saved her mother’s life with a chrysanthemum. A young girl, with an ill mother, met a kindly kami who said her dying mother would live a month for each petal on the chrysanthemum in her room. Cleverly the girl took her scissors and cut each petal into many strips, ensuring her mother a long, long life.

Alone in her bedchamber, Okurimono did the same, using the scissors to shred the chrysanthemum’s petals into ribbons. She worked feverishly. When she finished, Okurimono inspected her handiwork with horror. Each damaged petal was wilting.

Had she saved her mother, like the girl in the story, or merely hastened her death?

Exhausted Okurimono flung herself on the mattress and cried herself to sleep.

Next morning Okurimono saw the chrysanthemum flower was a vibrant golden globe of a thousand slender petals. Tamamo no Mae, the nine tailed fox, had sent a miracle, just as she promised.

Sunset found Okurimono expectantly waiting at the Moon-gate for her mother’s palanquin. As it grew dark, her maid came to take her to her room. She explained it was not appropriate for the patrons to see one so young and assured the girl her mother would arrive tomorrow.

Yet, it was the same story the following day. As the maid collected her once again,

Okurimono respectfully asked her if Okaa-San would allow her to return home to see what the matter was. The maid frowned at the request, but promised to ask.

In the afternoon on the third day, the maid interrupted Okurimono’s lessons with many apologies. A runner had arrived. The mother’s litter was expected.

Eagerly Okurimono snatched up the golden chrysanthemum and followed the maid to the moon-gate. Her heart pounded with excitement when she saw the closed litter carried by four strong bearers. Rushing outside the compound she waited impatiently by the potted cherry trees as they put down the brightly painted yellow kago with its sumptuous curved roof and gauze curtained windows.

One of Okaa-San’s guards opened the door.

Okurimono’s heart leapt at the sight of a delicate bright kimono.

Ucosan stepped out.

‘Where is Mama?’ Okurimono cried, afraid she knew the answer.

Ucosan’s eyes filled with tears. Spotting the globe chrysanthemum, she quickly composed herself.

“Okurimonochan, my news is both great and terrible. Two days ago, I was happy to see your mother whole and well, her colour and appetite returned. We congratulated each other on our good fortune, as I heard a rapping at the door and my heart sunk like a stone.”

“Outside was Lady Tamamo no Mae, the nine-tailed fox, in her finest kimono. Oh my child, you had cut this beautiful flower into so many petals her life was now too long. The divine Emperor and the shōgun would demand the same lifespan from the gods. There would be no peace between earth and heaven. As she was as long lived as a divine sage, the Lady Mae had come to take your mother to dwell for evermore among the immortals.”

As Ucosan spoke a breeze snatched the blossom from the potted cherry trees. A shower of petals drifted like snow. One touched Ucosan upon the lips.

Okurimono burst into tears.

“No tears here,” said Ucosan. “It is not fitting.”

* * *

Under the tutelage of Okaa-San, Okurimono became Kyoto’s most famous tayū. Men paid five years rice in gold to spend a single night in her company. Many nobles offered to buy her contract. She refused each offer.

Of course you will not have heard of Okurimono, you only know of Kogane no Hana, the Golden Flower. The name she took on the day she became orian.

And that is her story, or at least the story she told when she was old and mistress of the Spring Garden Pleasure House, to young girls sold by their parents to train as orian, and missing their homes very much.

At the end she would add reflectively …

“That is why the word for Floating World sounds the same as Sorrowful World. For everything in this world has a price and art demands the greatest price of all.”

THE END

Please join us again tomorrow for a special post on the writing of The Legend of the Golden Flower.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story. Thanks Sally

A special post tomorrow that goes into the background and research for this beautiful story.