Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Solar Minimum, Jazz Guitar, Vitamin Deficiency, Italian Cookery and Mischief in the court of Charles II

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

We are still waiting for summer with four times the annual monthly rainfall already in June. Not good news for the farmers and their crops… We also have a northerly air flow across Europe which means that even Madrid where we used experience temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s at this time of year, is only getting 16 to 20 degrees.

There is no doubt that there is climate change, but it is hard to put much stock in the warming that is threatened when the central heating is still on in June. There is no doubt that mankind is damaging our planet to a great degree but we have been also experiencing a reduction in solar activity in the last few years and are now in what is called Solar Minimum. This actually could put climate warming on the back burner for the next 50 years with extensive cooling and longer and colder winters for us all.. You might find these posts interesting   especially as we had 16 days of solar inactivity in the last month.

The Climate Depot:

Astronomy Now:

On a more cheerful note…..I have received some wonderful submissions for the new Sunday Interview beginning at the end of the month, and I will be scheduling posts in the next week. I would love to hear from you, with your perspective on the human senses.. and sixth sense, along with the opportunity to promote your blog and books if you are an author..

Here are the details:

Looking forward to hearing from you…

Here are the posts from the week that you might have missed….

As always I am very grateful for the contributions from the regular guests and also to everyone who drops in during the week to like, comment and share.. the blog would not be the same without you.

This week William Price King shares the music of Grammy Award winning American Guitarist Pat Metheny

Thomas the Rhymer

Part two of the story of Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II by Paul Andruss

Carol Taylor and I team up to share the deficiency of nutrients that are likely with a poor diet, the foods that contain this week Vitamin B12 and Vitamin E.. which helps B12 be absorbed.. and some recipes that contain healthy amounts of both..

This month Silvia Todesco begins a series of summer themed recipes, beginning with the classic rice salad…Classic Rice Salad (Insalata de Riso)


The story continues with Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land and the court must pack up and leave the palace under the magnolia tree in Spain and head off on the backs of the Goose Express to The Emerald Island to face an unknown future.

The next episode this weekend is Winter: Chapter Five – The Dapperman..unable to bring all the clothes from the queen’s wardrobe of of her courtiers, the services of the local fashion designer is sought.

Lovely to welcome back Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 131 following her relocation and settling into her new home. This week she set us the challenge to find synonyms for her prompt words ‘Beginning and Consume’… here is my response.. Old Soldiers.

That time of the week when I participate in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills the prompt is ‘Many Hands’ and here is my piece of flash of 99 words, no more, no less.

This week Sherri Matthews shares her father’s story, which was complicated. It is a frank look at his life and also acknowledgement of how much he is loved. This was first posted in 2013. Sherri’s father sadly passed away in 2016, but she had dedicated her blog to him with a lovely tribute..About Sherri Matthews

Most recent photo of me and my dad taken in 2006 during a day out from his halfway house. No photos allowed in prison! (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Time to welcome another regular contributor to the Archive series John Rieber.. this time I am going to be selecting the posts from his extensive archive..This week a restaurant with a difference.. and if you remember your grandmother’s cooking.. you will want to eat at this restaurant. A Staten Island Restaurant Hires Unique Cooks – The World’s Nonnas!

Image CBS New York

This is the second post from  mother and daughter writing team HL Carpenter (Helen and Lorri). Here is a short story… keeping the fairy tale alive.

Today I am sharing the second post from the archives of Marian Wood and her blog Just Muddling Through Life Marian has been blogging since October 2018 and posts about family life, writing, fiction and poetry…for her second post I have chosen a short story…..

In June 2017, Frank Prem posted a poem a day.. and so I have chosen the poems he posted on this day and then the subsequent poems that correspond to his posts here…this based on his experience as a psychiatry nurse.

This is the second post from the archives of Tasker Dunham. I have selected this post as I remember my father building a replica biplane for my brother when he was four, along with a headset borrowed from the station we were based on.

Grandad Dunham's Chair - Flight Simulator

This is the second post from the archives of fantasy author Lorinda J. Taylor and in this week’s post she explores some of the grammatical changes over time and some E-Book formatting tips..

Olga Nunez Miret writes detailed and thought provoking book reviews and here is one that caught my eye..

Fallen Idols. A Century of Screen Sex-Scandals (Images of the Past) by Nigel Blundell

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun.  In this post Jennie compares childhood and summer.. then and now.

This week London  Cabbie writing as Gibson Square shares a post from the Urban View series which looks at buildings or locations in London that have a hidden history..

This is Elizabeth Slaughter’s third post from the archives and I remember watching black and white movies at the cinema as a child and then on our television that was not colour until well into the 1960s.. Elizabeth shares her love of the big screen.


Time for another post from Kim of By Hook or by Book and  I have selected one from her Whimsical Wednesday Series – Mr. Rogers Edition


This week’s post from Susanne Swanson is a post which mirrors my sentiments about team building exercises in general.  And it is something to think about in relation to how we all react when we here the words ‘Think outside the Box’

And for her final posts…appropriately by Balroop Singh... I have shared an ode to Poetry.


Eggs are highly nutritious and have been much maligned over the years. But they do need to be prepared carefully.

This week I share the shopping list of foods that may help you ward of dementia… but also some things to look out for in elderly relatives if you are caring for them.. Sometimes dementia symptoms can be down to interaction with other drugs or a urinary tract infection.


Thank you very much for dropping in today and for all your support… look forward to seeing you again soon.. Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen by Paul Andruss

Last week Paul Andruss shared some of the secrets behind the scenes in the court of Charles II and his mistress Barbara Villiers: Barbara Villiers Part One

Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen

Barbara as the Virgin Mary & her rival Frances Stuart (Nation Portrait Gallery)

When Charles became king, the great and good of the land queued up to pimp their wives and daughters to him for political favour. Barbara had the brains to get in first and do it on her own behalf while he was in exile as the Prince of Wales. Perhaps this was the reason she was almost universally hated by her peers.

Barbara was an irresistible combination: womanly wiles and balls bigger than any man. Safe under the king’s protection as the mother of his children, she played male courtiers at their own game and won. Something no Restoration gentleman could easily swallow.

Despite her volatility and adultery with the king, the famous diarist of the age, Samuel Pepys, was besotted by her loveliness although even he admitted ‘while I admire her beauty I know she is a whore’.

Courtiers sourly described her as a woman of unremitting personal vileness and greed, who wasted little time on social inferiors. Even close friends described her as querulous, fierce and infamously rude. Yet she was fun and generous, with a heart to match her temper. When scaffolding collapsed in the theatre, Barbara was the only court lady to rush to assist an injured child.

Critics claimed Barbara held sway over the king because she was skilled in the arts of Aretino, a 16th century Italian erotic poet. The truth is probably simpler. While gentlemen of the time were expected to publically flaunt their mistresses, Barbara was probably one of the very few people Charles could be entirely himself with.

It was the same with Louis, the much admired Sun King, whom Charles modelled himself on. A King was the source of all bounty, splendour and favour, and as such could trust no one; especially those closest. Charles knew Barbara’s limitless ambition, rapaciousness and sexual appetite matched his own. The fact he understood her so well made her safe. It certainly amused him to use her to put down others.

Having given birth to their first child while Charles was in exile, Barbara became Charles’ uncrowned queen. Charles could not marry her as she was already married and divorce was out of the question. In need of cash and allies, he married the rich, plain, convent-schooled Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza to whom he was betrothed as a child.

In the process he gained a valuable ally against Spain in Portugal and a dowry rumoured to be £360,000 (over £29 million in today’s money) of which he lavished an annual income of £5,000 (£400,000) on Barbara. He also bought her expensive presents: £10,000 on a pair of diamond earrings (around £800,000 today).

Charles and Catherine were married less than a month after Charles’ coronation. He spent every night before the wedding in Barbara’s bed, despite the fact she was heavily pregnant with their second child. While the royal couple honeymooned in Hampton Court Palace, Barbara insisted she was also lodged there, on hand, so to speak.

Against Catherine’s wishes, Charles appointed Barbara a lady-of-the-Queen’s-bedchamber: allowing him easy access to his mistress. When Barbara was presented, the Queen fainted and refused her. But Catherine was no match for Barbara, who had a quiet word with the King: suggesting he rule his wife before she ruled him. Charles took her advice, dismissing all of Catherine’s Portuguese ladies and in effect isolating the queen until she complied. After this Barbara used every opportunity to humiliate the queen.

She flaunted her position by helping herself to money from the Privy Purse and taking bribes from the Spanish and the French. She meddled in politics and sold audiences with the King to those seeking advancement. When Barbara’s cousin, Charles’ most trusted advisor, declared her an embarrassment to the court and begged Charles to give her up, Charles replied Lady Castlemaine’s enemies were also his. Barbara never forgave her cousin and did not rest until he was dismissed from the king’s service.

Barbara loved to show off her wealth. She would go to the theatre wearing £30,000 in jewels. She thought nothing of losing enormous sums gambling; once losing £25,000 (or around two million) in one evening. The King in an attempt to cover her mounting debts gave her the old Tudor royal palace of Nonsuch in Surrey, which she proceeded to tear down, selling it off piecemeal.

The new broadsheet newspapers eagerly reported Barbara’s exploits. The public adored her. Her official portraits, in dresses revealing her bosom, were copied onto engravings and sold to a besotted public, making Barbara one of the most recognised women in England. In one famous portrait she cheekily posed as the Virgin Mary with her bastard first born as the infant Christ.

In 1663, the fifteen-year-old Lady Frances Stuart was appointed a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Pepys described her as ‘the prettiest girl in all the world’. Frances was immortalised as Britannia on the obverse face of the old British Penny (until decimal currency arrived in 1971).

Charles was smitten with Frances. Her refusal to yield to him only inflamed his desire. Seeing the way the wind was blowing, Barbara abetted the king in seducing her young rival. She invited Frances to her rooms. As the evening turned silly, they played at marriage, with Barbara being the husband and Frances the bride. Unknown to the girl, it was arranged for Charles to surprise them and consummate the nuptials. Somehow Frances escaped.

Barbara was not pleased when a few later the Queen became so ill Charles believed she would die. He declared if she did, he would marry Frances, simply to get his way. Fortunately the Queen recovered and soon after Frances eloped with the Duke of Richmond, the King’s cousin: earning the queen’s undying gratitude. A furious Charles vowed never to forgive Frances. It says something for his temperament that he did. When Frances was widowed, he settled a life pension on her, and had his physician attend her when she suffered smallpox, which left her scarred for life.

In 1168 Charles became enamoured with actress Nell Gwynne. The King delighted in being called Charles III, as Nell had two lovers before him also called Charles. At 28 Barbara’s beauty was fading and her appeal coming to an end, yet despite being supplanted in the king’s bed she still held a lot of power. The King’s mistresses were expected to turn a blind eye to his dalliances and remain constant. Not so Barbara she was furious and jealously took lovers of her own, which only amused the King.

Young John Churchill (National Portrait Gallery)

Three years later Barbara took as a lover 21-year-old John Churchill, grimly ambitious and ten years her junior. She settled an income of £5,000 a year on him (£400,000): the same amount Charles initially gave her. Winston Churchill’s ancestor is another fascinating story but not one for here. The story goes when Charles surprised Barbara and John in bed, he laughed it off, telling the young man he knew he had to earn a living. The great whore now had a whore of her own.

In 1663, when Charles’ was pursuing Frances Stuart, 23-year-old Barbara became a Catholic. It is not known why; although Charles was a secret Catholic sympathiser. At the time it was laughed off by the Royal court who claimed the Rome gained nothing, and the Church of England lost nothing, by her conversion. The King joked he was interested in ladies’ bodies, not their souls.

It was to prove Barbara’s undoing when a decade later a new law forbade Catholics from holding official positions. At the age 33 Barbara lost her position as Lady of the Bedchamber, and the King cast her aside in favour of a new mistress Louise de Kérouaille.

The King advised Barbara to live quietly and cause no scandal, in which case he ‘cared not whom she loved’. Barbara did everything except live quietly. She lost everything due to her huge gambling debts. Happily she was briefly reconciled with the King. They spent a night together (for old times sake?) shortly before he died. Barbara died of dropsy aged 68 in Walpole House in Chiswick: a place she is said to haunt.

Barbara descendants include Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and Prince Charles’ Lady Diana Spencer. One cannot help think, given the way things turned out, if would be far more appropriate for Barbara to have been an ancestor of Camilla Parker Bowles: Charles mistress and love of his life during his marriage to Diana, and now his current wife. Unfortunately Camilla is not. She is descended from Charles II through an illegitimate son to Louise de Kérouaille: the woman who replaced Barbara in Charles’ affections.

As I said previously: small world!

©Paul Andruss 2018

As Paul says… a very small world, and nothing new in history!  Thanks as always to Paul for his informative and highly entertaining post. Barbara Villiers was quite the woman….

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Are you making the most of this watering hole? Guests, stories, health, humour and other stuff

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

Before we get to the posts, I wanted to summarise the ways that you can promote your blog and your books here on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine.

I wanted to create a watering hole for people to gather.. hence the magazine theme to the blog with columns from some very special contributors and guest posts that are informative, entertaining and thought provoking. It is also for me an opportunity to support authors, who like me are marketing their own books amongst the millions that are published each year.

The regular posts each month are:

The Cafe and Bookstore – new books and reviews (Free)

 The Music Column with William Price King

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor,

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye,

Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco,

Numerology with Annette Rochelle Aben

The Health Column with Sally Cronin

The Cafe and Bookstore has approximately 160 to 200 active authors at any one time. I have two opportunities to promote books. First with a New Book on the Shelves for new releases, and secondly with the twice weekly Cafe Author Updates where I share recent reviews.  I also post my own reviews for books that I have read once or twice a month.

If you are not currently an author in the Cafe.. then here is the information you need:

Posts for Your Archives is a series that has been running for the last three years to promote bloggers as well as authors. The aim is to showcase the blogger or author and encourage more traffic to their own blogs.

In the current series there is a twist. Instead of the blogger sending in four links to posts to share, I am browsing their archives and selecting four posts. The response has been amazing and there are currently 55 bloggers who have signed up. As you can imagine I am doing a lot of reading, and uncovering some gems from the years that deserve to be showcased again.

If you are interested on being added to the list you will find the details here:

Guest Writers are slightly different to the posts from the archives, in as much as they contribute on a regular basis on a number of subjects including memoirs, short stories, health and poetry. If you are interested in a regular monthly slot then please contact me on

I would like to add a note here which is based on my experience over the last seven years of promoting books and blogging.

One of the key elements to any promotion is participation…I notice the difference in both the Cafe promotions and the Posts from the Archives if the person being promoted is active in both commenting and sharing.

For example – In the Posts from the Archives series, when the comments are responded to individually, the number of likes, comments and shares (importantly) increase over the four posts.

The same applies for the book promotions, and this is key, as it relates to sales of a book, as well as readers engaging on social media, following blogs and buying other books that the author has released. If a reader has taken the time to comment on a post then it is important that it is acknowledged individually. It does make a difference.

I also would like to admit that I don’t follow the usual rules about blogging. I will post several times a day, varied content, from contributors and guests plus the regular funnies and videos. I appreciate that if you sign up to be notified about posts, your email will be inundated.

Which is why I do this round up each week, so that you can pop in and read the posts that most interest you.

You can sign up to be notified weekly if you wish but my advice is:

Don’t Sign Up to be Notified…just remember to pop in on Sundays to catch up… that would be lovely.

Now on to the posts that you might have missed during the week.

Thomas the Rhymer

Another post from my archives from Paul Andruss… who shares the shenanigans of the royal court in the reign of Charles II…

Barbara Villiers (National Portrait Gallery)

This month Debby Gies takes us to the island of Cuba in the Caribbean. And island that was blocked off to the outside world and has been through many challenging years. Find out about the history and the tourism to the island.

Winter: Chapter Two – The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and the Storyteller

Winter: Chapter Three – A Place of Sanctuary

The second in the series on the brain and how we can reduce our risk of developing dementia, and it is never too late to begin.

My review for Swimming for Profit and Pleasure: The Port Naain Intelligencer by Jim Webster.

My response to this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills The prompt is about ‘making a big splash…

Joy Lennick with another of her entertaining stories (based on true events) of a date to the cinema with rather an unusual ending….

This week Sherri Matthews shares holiday memories of picnics and windy beaches in the UK and taking the Cuppa to California…

The Wicker Picner Hamper (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

This week Susanne Swanson takes us on a tour of her first visit to Hawaii..


John Rieber shares a unique experience in a hotel in Africa… meet some giraffes.


Writing duo Helen and Lorri Carpenter offer guest spots and here is one by Lainee Cole talking about the wonderful combination of rescue dog and children helping each other.

Image source: HiDee Ekstrom

Marian Wood shares her reasons for blogging..and a guide for those who are just getting started..

So really why write a blog

Enjoy the poetry of Frank Prem about a project he undertook in his garden…

Friends 1

Carol Taylor is on a short break so I have been sharing some posts from her archives..this one is on a subject dear to her heart… conservation and how governments can make decisions that do not have their countries environmental interests in mind.

Great barrier Reef

Tasker Dunham takes us back to his earliest memories and wonders at what age you experienced yours.

Lorinda J. Taylor shares the experiences of her mother as a teacher in the 1930s and living in the dust bowl…

A poignant and fascinating post from Olga Nunez Miret about her uncle who researched the little known family history during the Second World War.. tragic and inspiring.


Jennie Fitzkee shares another story from her pre-school classroom where the focus is very much on the child…

Fraggle Photography with some wonderful images from a vintage fair…

Elizabeth Slaughter shares an influence in her life from childhood and a role model – Meet Rusty.


Kim of By Hook or by Book with a tribute to teachers everywhere.


Gibson Square… a London Cabbie gives us the low down on what is cab and what is not..

Susanne Swanson with a memory from her childhood when a little bribery went a long way…


Balroop Singh shines the light on the issue of domestic violence. However, enlightened and empowered we think our modern society is.. this is still a major problem and in some countries it is the norm.

Domestic Violence


New book on the shelves

Author Update #Reviews

Thank you again for taking the time to drop by and I hope that in one way or another you will share your work here with everyone by being a guest, promoting your books or letting me share your archives. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Barbara Villiers Part 1: The Return of the King by Paul Andruss

It is time for Paul Andruss, to investigate the myths and legends surrounding the great and sometimes infamous. Kings having mistresses was accepted as a reward for marrying a stranger so that an alliance was cemented or war averted. And they were not likely to look a gift horse in the mouth when presented with an opportunity. Which leads us to Barbara Villiers who had Charles II wrapped around her little finger.

Paul gives us the lowdown on the background and peccadillos of those that went before…..buckle up and make notes, there will be a test later!

Barbara Villiers Part 1: The Return of the King by Paul Andruss

Barbara Villiers (National Portrait Gallery)

If you thought Lady Macbeth was a right cow, I can only assume you’ve never heard of Charles II’s mistress, Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine.

But before we get to the salacious sex and scandal let’s have a little recap shall we?

O bloody hell! Not more history!

Elizabeth I wasn’t called the Virgin Queen for nothing. She died without ever being married or having a child, which probably means she was a virgin. In those days, nine times out of ten, sex led to pregnancy.

Believe it or not, some mental historian suggested Elizabeth was a man in drag. We know she wasn’t and we also know she never got pregnant because as a piece of prime real estate in the old game of thrones, the Spanish Ambassador bribed the laundry mistress to send him Elizabeth’s blood stained bedsheets each month so he could inform the Spanish King, Elizabeth was ipso facto virgin intacto, and more to the point in good working order.

The Spanish king had been stung before with Henry VIII’s elder daughter Mary. The poor woman suffered miscarriage after miscarriage. Not though her loving husband, the Spanish King, with his feel-sorry-for-me-for-not-having-a-son-and-heir wasted any human feelings for his tragically unhappy wife.

A friend of mine, a PhD student in Elizabethan history, once told me Elizabeth had a ripe sense of humour. Edward De Vere the Earl of Oxford, while making a low bow to the queen, let go a right ripper, much to Elizabeth’s amusement and his horror. He was so ashamed he absented himself from court for seven years. Upon his return Elizabeth greeted him, no doubt with a twinkle in her eye, with: ‘My Lord I had forgot the fart!’

When Elizabeth died she left the throne to her cousin’s son James. Her cousin was Mary Queen of Scots, who she executed. James was taken from his mother as an infant by Church of Scotland Elders (well, she was deemed an unfit mother) and brought up Protestant; leading Elizabeth to believe the throne was safe from Catholics.

George Villiers (National Portrait Gallery)

James VI of Scotland, now James I of England, was the intended victim of the infamous gunpowder plot. He also had the bible translated into English: the King James Version (named after him). While married to Anne of Denmark and having children with her, James definitely preferred to travel by bi-cycle, shall we say. My friend the historian, informed me James’ favourite, George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham was disparagingly known as the ‘King’s Filly’. Rumour has it he had a 12 inch willie. But didn’t use it as a rule!

Boom! Boom!

Oh come on people work with me on this!

Interestingly Barbara Villiers, his grandson’s lover, who we will get to before long, was a descendant. Small world eh!

James son was Charles I. During his reign, civil war erupted between the Royalists and the Roundheads. Charles was defeated by Oliver Cromwell who became lifetime dictator of a Puritan Republic, ‘the Commonwealth’. Charles’ family went into exile in Europe. One of his daughters married the French Sun king’s gay brother and became the Sun King’s favourite mistress at Versailles until her death.

Oliver Cromwell (National Portrait Gallery)

Ironically when Cromwell disagreed with Parliament he dismissed them, which is exactly what the King was accused of doing to cause the civil war. Cromwell ruling through a military junta, and by the grace of god, closed down theatres, taverns, and other entertainments, banned drinking, and even Christmas, turned marriage into a civil institution and was pretty humourless about every sort of sexual misdemeanour.

When Cromwell died, and his son and heir overthrown, Charles I’s son Charles II returned to the throne in a period known as the Restoration. A loyal son, Charles II arrested the Commissioners who signed his dad’s death warrant; despite Parliament issuing an indemnity to protect them. Nine were executed, a few pardoned, some had their property confiscated and were allowed to live in disgrace, while a lot fled the country in fear of their lives.

Charles II (National Portrait Gallery)

By this time a fair few were already dead. Charles II had Cromwell and his dad’s two judges dug up. Their corpses were hung drawn and quartered with their decaying head stuck on spikes over the Westminster Court of Justice where his dad was tried.

Cromwell’s head was left there for 20-odd years before being taken down and sold on.

Cromwell’s head changed hands a number of times, there is a bill of sale for 1814. It was publically exhibited for all that time, before being quietly and secretly buried in 1960.

Apart from this Charles II was actually pretty easy going, despite having Catholic sympathies (something which wouldn’t have gone down well in Protestant England) and being as autocratic as his old dad: believing he had a divine right to rule having been appointed by God himself.

A clever man, Charles knew the only to keep the throne was by staying popular. A sure way to achieve that was by being everything the miserable puritans were not: a glamourous sexy beast, just like the fab French Sun King in Versailles. Knowing Charles’ reputation as a playboy (he already had 4 illegitimate children before ascending the throne) Britain’s relieved citizens knew they would no longer be fined or beaten for their own sexual peccadillos and could have a bloody good night out into the bargain: going to the theatre and getting blind drunk.

Having acquired wealth and power from George Villiers ‘friendship’ with King James, it is not a surprise the Villiers family supported his son Charles I during the English Civil War.

Being on the losing side, they suffered financially. Due to their reduced circumstances, daughter Barbara, although a great beauty (tall and voluptuous, with alabaster skin, masses of brunette curls, languorous violet eyes and a sensuous, sulky mouth) was not deemed a great catch. So much so, when she fell for the Earl of Chesterfield, he threw her over for a wealthy heiress. Perhaps this was a lesson Barbara was destined not to forget.

At the age of 19 she married quiet and pious Roger Palmer (much to his family’s horror) and the happy couple (well, the couple at least) visited the Charles, the Prince of Wales in exile in Holland to pledge their allegiance, and in Barbara’s case a whole lot more. She became Charles’ mistress.

None of Barbara’s 6 children were her husbands’. For her husband’s acquiescence, Charles made him Earl of Castlemaine. Barbara gave each of her children the moniker Fitzroy (of the king). All were subsequently ennobled by the king; even the 6th who many suspect was her current lover’s, John Churchill.

By the time she was having number six, Barbara’s influence was on the wane. No shrinking violet, she threatened to kill the child if Charles denied paternity. And probably with good reason, for despite Charles having replaced her with another official mistress, he was still visiting Barbara’s bedchamber four nights a week. To make sure Charles got the point she then demanded the King publically beg forgiveness for doubting her. It is testament to Charles’ good nature and enduring affection for his spitfire minx that he did.

©Paul Andruss 2018

My thanks to Paul for another of his fascinating posts on the famous and sometimes infamous characters from the past. Part two of the story will follow next Friday.

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from my Archives – Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – #Coffee – A Noxious Concoction by Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss shares myths, legends and things we take for granted… in a unique and illuminating manner.. today he expresses himself on the subject of coffee… (Sorry could not resist)…. Over to you Paul…

Coffee – A Noxious Concoction

It is almost inconceivable to think once upon a time coffee was viewed in much the same way we view hard drugs, and disparaged using much the same language.



Grab yerself a cup a joe and dive in.

The origin of coffee and even its name is shrouded in myth. The word coffee comes from the Turkish Kavhe, which derives from the Arabic qahwah meaning perhaps ‘to lack hunger’, or ‘dark’, ‘sour’ or even ‘dark wine’.

It is thought the wild coffee bush originated in Sub-Saharan tropical Africa. Legend says around 900 AD goat-herders in the Ethiopian Highlands noticed their animals getting frisky after eating the bright red fruits of the coffee bush and tried it themselves. Because the seeds (coffee beans) were hard, they were roasted to make them edible.

A story, for which I found no substantiating evidence, was the seeds were ground down and rubbed on the gums, rather like cocaine. (Not though I know, I hasten to add: it took me 20 years to give up ciggies. One sniff of cocaine and I’d be on 30 a day). Eventually the powder was boiled in water producing a fragrant drink. There is a rather enigmatic reference to a brown liquid that might be coffee in a 10th century Persian medical book. In 1583, a German physician, returning from the Middle East, wrote coffee was useful in curing many illnesses.

Another legend says an 11th century Islamic Sufi mystic used coffee to sharpen the mind and concentrate his thoughts during his religious devotions. However both legends date from 1650s when coffee was widely drunk in the Islamic world and was already known in Europe.

In the 1500s Yemen merchants brought coffee across the Red Sea from Ethiopia, Sufi mystics (the same group that produced the Whirling Dervishes) used it to stay awake during nocturnal devotions. Coffee spread across Arabia to Mecca, perhaps as an alternative to wine, forbidden by the Prophet (the ban extends to all alcohol; even though lots of the faithful continue to booze to this day).

In 1511, Imams in Mecca banned coffee, preaching it led to indecent behaviour. In 1524, Suliman the Magnificent over turned the ban. A few years later there was another religious ban in Egypt and coffeehouses were ransacked. However by this time coffee was used across the Muslim world. By 1550, there were coffeehouses in Istanbul and Syria.
Despite this, Muslim coffee-drinkers’ tribulations were not over. In the 1600s Sultan Murad VI banned tobacco, alcohol and coffee. Consumption was a capital offence. He was so keen on the ban he would stalk the streets in disguise with a concealed sword beheading offenders on the spot. Obviously, he carried on using all three himself and probably died of liver failure due to alcoholism. His successor leniently commuted punishment for a first offence to a good beating. For a second offence you were sewn into a bag and dumped in the Bosporus.

Some historians believe coffee was met with suspicion because tyrannical rulers feared free speech. They thought coffeehouses spread sedition. According to one story, a Grand Vizier, after secretly visiting a coffeehouse in Istanbul, reported to the Sultan: People drinking alcohol get drunk, sing and are jolly, whereas the people drinking coffee remain sober and plot against us.

In 1550 coffee was introduced to Europe via Muslim slaves in Malta. It reached Europe commercially through trade between Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Legend says in 1600 when Cardinals tried to get Pope Clement to ban coffee as a ‘bitter invention of Satan’ the pope tried some and declared Satan’s drink to be so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. He thought it so much better for the populace than alcohol that he even considered baptising the bean to free it of its Infidel (and so satanic) taint.

A quarter of a century later an Oxford University student recorded trying coffee imported from Crete. Within twenty five years the first coffeehouse opened in Holborn and by 1665 there were 82 in London. These swiftly became business premises – for men only. The insurance company Lloyds of London started in Lloyd’s Coffeehouse. Gambling and unsuitable conversation was banned: religious dissent and ribaldry. Politics was fair game, which led to them being associated with sedition.

The first monarch to shut down coffeehouses was King Charles II in the 1660s when he traced some seditious poetry to them. The outcry caused him to change his mind in 11 days. A century later Frederick the Great fearful of revolution demanded Germans drink beer not coffee and sent his soldiers to shutdown illicit coffeehouses. He believed the French and American Revolutions were planned in coffeehouses.

Americans initially preferred tea, until the British Crown took advantage by taxing it to the hilt. After the Boston Tea Party, when American patriots, dumped crates of tea into Boston harbour, protesting ‘taxation without representation’, drinking tea was seen as unpatriotic.

John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:
‘When I came to Mrs Huston’s House, I had ridden 35 miles at least. “Madam” said I, “is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea?” “No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I can’t make Tea, but I’le make you Coffee.” Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well.

The Women’s Petition Against Coffee (

Monarchs were not the only ones to have a quarrel with the new coffeehouses.

Neighbours complained of the noisome smell, which seems surprising today when Estate Agents (Realtors) recommend the smells of fresh coffee and new baked bread to win over potential buyers. However coffee in those days was more like Turkish coffee: boiled to buggery. It was served in tiny cups and you only sipped the top third as the rest was sludge.

Hence the old joke:
Waiter this coffee tastes like mud!
Well sir it was ground this morning!

A recipe from the time says: Take a gallon of fair water. Boil until half of it is wasted. From this take a pint, add a spoonful of powder of coffee and boil for 15 minutes. Drink it as hot as you can and fast for two or three hours afterwards.

In 1674, a broadsheet was printed in London called ‘The Womens Petition Against Coffee’ or more explicitly ‘The Humble Petitions and Address of Several Thousands of Buxome Good-Women, Languishing in Extremity of Want’. It blamed coffee for male impotence. The petition came on the tail of a campaign by doctors claiming coffee dried up the cerebrospinal fluid and caused paralysis.

In truth both were probably governmental ruses to bring coffee into disrepute and so quieten political grumblings. Nothing hits home harder than telling a man his John Thomas will be… ‘Now Cramp’t into an Inch that was a Span

Yet the most intriguing example of anti-coffee propaganda remains Gustav III of Sweden’s ban on both tea and coffee due to misuse and excessive drinking in 1746. When illicit consumption continued, Gustav set up an empirical experiment to prove his point. After all, this was the Age of Enlightenment.

He gave two identical twins a chance to have their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment if they agreed. One was to drink 3 pots of tea per day and the other three pots of coffee. He presumed they would be dead within the year and his point made.
In fact Gustav was the first to die, assassinated 46 years later in 1792. The twins also saw their doctors out. The first twin to die was the tea drinker, aged 83. The date the coffee drinker died is unknown as by then everyone had lost interest.

On the bright side I suppose if this proves anything at all, it is that compared to coffee, tea is bad for you. This news would have suited an old friend of mine, who continually drank brewed black coffee (not instant). She claimed as coffee contained oils it kept her skin young… as opposed to tea which contains tannin: used to cure leather.

©Paul Andruss 2018

As always my gratitude to Paul for his incredible research and ability to explain the complexities of a subject in such an entertaining and informative way..

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Poetic Mead – by Paul Andruss..

Paul Andruss has been exploring poetry in the last few weeks and today a post from his archives on the subject of Poetic Mead….a drink that has been brewed for thousands of years across the continents and holds mythical properties….

The Cauldron of Inspiration warmed by the breath of nine maidens. (From Celtic Myths and Legends by Charles Squire with illustration by Ernest Wallcousins 1912)

Poetic Mead by Paul Andruss

Mead is an alcoholic drink made entirely from honey, or honey mixed with pulped fruit or mashed grain. It was drunk though history and across continents from Neolithic Chinese farmers, Vikings, to modern Kalahari Bushmen. Many cultures considered mead magical, able to bestow wisdom and the gift of poetry, and to be a universal panacea.

Mead, brewed with rice, honey and fruit, was found in Chinese archaeological sites 9,000 years old. It turned up in 8,000 year-old burial chambers near the Black Sea … the tomb of King Midas. Yes, King Midas: the one who turned everything to gold. There is some basis in fact for his golden touch: but that’s another story.

The Vedas, Hindu sacred texts written in Sanskrit almost 2,000 years ago, link mead to the gods, as does ancient Greek myth. Mead was the Olympian Gods’ tipple of choice. Hippocrates, the father of medicine (as in the Hippocratic Oath) used mead brewed with fruit juice as medicine.

Our word medicine comes from ‘mead’; as does ‘honeymoon’. In medieval times the bride’s father gave the newly-weds a month’s (a moon’s) worth of mead. It was supposed to be an aphrodisiac. In actual fact it probably did what all booze does, throws inhibitions to the wind, buggers judgement and leaves you randy. A sure fired winner for begetting the son and heir, despite the fact you had probably never met before, and the bride was probably around eleven years old. (There are so many things wrong with that sentence it does not bear thinking about.)

In Celtic myth the Cauldron of Inspiration held poetic mead, warmed by the breath of nine maidens. One sip made you a scholar and a poet. Historians believe the Cauldron of Inspiration was the original Holy Grail, later incorporated into Arthurian legend.
The Celts thought the chthonic gods (gods of the underworld) had to the power to bestow the gift of poetry. The lord of the underworld, Gwyn ap Nudd kept the pearl rimmed cauldron in his Glass Castle: often associated with Glastonbury Tor, which in those times was an island surrounded by marshes and lakes.

The early Welsh poem, The Spoils of Annwn, says King Arthur took three shiploads of knights to steal the cauldron. Each stanza ends ominously with: ‘only seven returned’. Gwyn’s fortress is named differently in each verse as the Glass Castle, the Four-cornered Castle, the Revolving Castle, the Fairy Castle, as well as the Castle of Mead Drunkenness.

Some of these names hint at a time when the White Goddess ruled. Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel, believed to be the Moon Goddess, lived in a revolving castle bound by the four corners of the earth: the starry heavens turning over the course of the night and the year. Equally she might be the North Star, which does not move at all and around which all others revolve: like a silver wheel.

Olwen of the White Track (her name means white footprints) is associated with the Milky Way. In ancient religions the Milky Way was the road to the gods. In Greek myth it was created from a spurt of milk from the breast of Zeus’ mother, hence its modern name.
In Norse myth, Odin stole poetic mead from the giants. The story goes the gods originally created a wise man called Kvasir by each spitting in a bowl. The name Kvasir means to crush or grind. Dwarves murdered Kvasir and mixed his blood with honey to produce poetic mead: one sip turned you into a scholar and a poet. When the giants took the mead, Odin stole it back.

Before exploring any further, let’s look at alcohol. People believe alcohol is euphoric. It’s not. It’s a depressant. The reason you initially become giddy is because it depresses the part of your nervous system inhibiting behaviour. In larger amounts it leaves you depressed, hence the popular image of the maudlin drunk.

Drunks are loquacious: talkative and garrulous (i.e. talk to anyone). They are also incredibly wise and witty; of course it helps if everyone else is drunk as skunks too. These were signs of divine possession and talents poets boasted of.

It might surprise you to know animals like getting drunk, and not just your dog snaffling your beer. Wildlife cameramen have filmed parties in the jungle when overripe fallen fruit ferments in the heat due to air borne yeasts. The alcohol content is low, but as animals rarely experience it, they have no tolerance.

Like any teenage party, when word gets round all different types of beast come from far and wide to behave exactly like we do: getting giddy before turning into mean drunks. Given animals get drunk there is no reason to think pre-humans and early humans did not do the same. Alcohol and drugs are literally old as sin.

The bee was a symbol of the goddess long before farming: when you might think people noticed it fertilizing crops. Perhaps the bee became associated with the goddess not simply because it appears in spring, but also due to the way mead makes social gatherings swing.
Mead is often produced naturally when water soaks a beehive. Warm days and air-borne yeast create alcohol. Interestingly yeast might be the real reason druids (whose name means oak seer) considered the oak sacred.

The traditional story is druids harvested the sacred mistletoe from the oak. Although mistletoe does not easily grow on oak, yeast does and it is the ancestor of the yeast used today for bread and beer.

There is further evidence of mead being associated with the goddess in the way modern indigenous peoples across the world prepare alcoholic drinks. Remember the tale of the Norse gods all spitting in a cauldron to produce a wise man, whose name Kvasir means to crush, well …

In the Pacific Islands, Kava, a mildly hallucinogenic beverage is prepared by chewing the kava plant and spitting it into a bowl. The Incas used the same method to prepare a corn beer called chichi, used for ritual purposes and consumed in huge quantities during religious festivals. The same practice is still used throughout South and Central America: chewing a variety of fruits, roots and grains such as plantain manioc, agave, cassava and quinoa. The enzymes in spit break down the plant starches into sugars for the yeast to work on.

In ancient Japan a rice wine called Kuchikamizake (Heavenly-being-mouth-saké) was produced by virgins chewing rice. Remember the story of poetic mead warmed by the breath of nine maidens?

Across all cultures only women chew the grains or roots for alcohol preparation. Menfolk maintain when they do the chewing the booze doesn’t taste as good.

There are either two ways to consider this.

Either …

Men are lazy. Yeah, you might have a point. … And good for nothing drunks … Ok, ok calm down.

Or alternatively …

The methodology was already in use before humans migrated out of Africa 200,000 years ago.

Evidence supporting the idea of early hunters and gatherers liking a drink comes from the most ancient religious site in the world. Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey, dates back 12,000 years, a few thousand years before farming- about the same time as the last Ice Age ended. Gobekli Tepe is a temple of carved stone pillars arranged into communal spaces, probably used to celebrate and worship, as there is no evidence anyone lived nearby.

It is believed women gardened for a couple of thousand years before man learned to farm. Women encouraged useful plants to grow at the expense of ‘weeds’ in areas where they settled near the summer pastures of wild antelope herds. Gobekli Tepe comes from this transition period and is only 20 miles away from where wild Einkorn, the ancestor of modern wheat, grew in abundance.

Amid the evidence of feasts (mounds of wild antelope bones), archaeologists found large stone pits containing traces of mashed Einkorn used for brewing beer or more probably a beer-mead mix. It was thought beer came from an accident when early people were making bread. Now many believe it was the other way round.

Gobekli Tepe was occupied for more than 3,000 years before being abandoned, probably because the farming revolution destroyed the way of life its rituals commemorated.

All we know about the earliest religions date from fragmentary texts 5,000 years old. Yet humans, exactly the same as us, have been around for 300,000 years. Meaning for over 90% of our time on this planet we have no idea what people, just like us, believed or thought.
It is easy to see while gods might change, important concepts such as birth and death, day and night, and the phases of the moon marking the return of the sun, rains, herds and the spring would never be abandoned, and neither would the associated celebratory rituals of feasting, entertainment and getting off your face on drugs and drink; and probably getting your leg over to boot. After all, the one thing that never changes in this world is people.

©Paul Andruss 2018

A fascinating look at this drink that has captivated and clearly inspired for thousands of years…thanks Paul

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up.. John Wick 3 -Spirits in the Sky, Polar Bears and Apple Daiquiris

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

We have had another busy week on the back garden work… a little unpredictable but we are fitted in between other jobs, weather dependent such as gathering silage for next winter’s feed. We live in the country and one has to go with the flow… but I will be glad when the job is finished and the digger is gone…We will then be able to sit out and enjoy the summer sun which is there until 10pm at the height of summer.

We also had visitors this week.. old friends from Portsmouth. Adrian and I were co-presenters on radio and on Internet Television and we became friends with his wife Chris too at the same time in 2007. We had a lovely two day catch up… and also rehashing fond memories. We discovered a new place to us locally .. a fabulous spa and hotel with a wonderful grill which we visited for lunch… they all had the tempura batter fish and chips which was apparently delicious and I had the goats cheese, caramalised onion, apple and walnut pizza… They also did a range of non-alcoholic cocktails and we all had Apple Daiquiris which were stunning… a bit of an ice-cream headache but what a way to get your 5 a day..

We then went to see John Wick 3 at our local cinema, both David and I loved John Wick 1 and 2 but were very disappointed with this third outing. We knew there would be a lot of action and quite a bit of violence and the stunts and the effects were amazing, but the fights in particular went on far too long.. 10 minutes and despite complex and brilliant choreography they became boring… It was more of a video game than a movie and the script was sparce. The problem is that is was stand alone, it is two years since the previous film.. and it literally picked up where it left off leaving you trying to remember what happened the last time. So if you have not seen John Wick 1 and 2.. I suggest you do before you see this one at the very least.. and be prepared for lots of action, most that is stretched out too lon and is very much more violent that the previous films.

Anyway a fun week and will be looking to recreate those apple daiquiris asap.

Just a quick note to say that I will be serialising Tales from the Irish Garden from next weekend… it will take around 13 weeks and I am hoping that you enjoy.

There is a new series of the Sunday Interview coming up at the end of June and I have set a slightly different challenge this time… Human in every sense of the word.

As humans there are five main senses that we rely on to navigate through this world.  And there is one that we all possess but do not necessarily use all the time…

Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell….Sixth Sense.

For some people however, one or more of those senses do not function and we can only imagine the challenges this results in.

I don’t know about you, but I take my senses for granted, expecting to see my surroundings when I wake up each morning, hear the birds sing, feel the bedclothes as I throw them back, and the carpet beneath my feet. I expect to taste the marmalade on my toast, and smell the coffee I am about to drink. I also rely on my sixth sense, the one that people cannot really define, that somehow keeps me from making an error of judgement.

Scientists believe that we have other senses that are also important but that we have lost touch with over our evolution. But for this interview series I would like to focus on the six senses I have mentioned.

I would like you to write from 300 to 600 words about one or more of these senses.

If you head over to the post you will find my own interpretation of this challenge and details on how to participate… hope you are up for it…

Time for the posts from the week.

As always my thanks to the contributors and everyone who is participating in the current Posts from Your Archives.. 50 bloggers and counting. As you can imagine I am having a blast reading everyone’s archives and I am managing to post 15 authors a week. So apologies if you are not featured yet, but you will be in the coming couple of months.

This week I share another two posts from Paul Andruss on the subject of poetry.. and the first is William Blake.. A man born before his time.

The second is Lord Byron.. a complicated man....

Personal Stuff – Short Stories – Flash fiction stories in response to Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

Carved in Wood… a widow returns to a wood and tree with carved initials..

And this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills 

A Mother’s Dilemma – Disappearing Ice.

My intention with this blog was to create a watering hole where writers could gather and exchange experiences and knowledge and so delighted with all that I am discovering by delving into your archives.. and finding some gems even you have forgotten!

This week Robbie Cheadle takes us on her trip to London with her husband, and shares three parks and Sherlock Holmes house.

London Day 1

USA Today bestselling author Jacquie Biggar with one of her guests Roxanne St. Clair…

Financial expert Sharon Marchisello explores the link between financial and physical health.

This week Diana Peach shares a rather wet weekend with a grandson in charge of the garden hose and open window… what could go wrong!

I chose a poignant poem by Miriam Hurdle that touched many hearts…

Beautiful Tiny Baby written by Miriam Hurdle at

Pete Johnson, Beetley Pete reviews the original Titanic film from 1958 – A Night to Remember.

Carol Taylor introduces us to their forever dog Saangchai and his early antics…


The Story Reading Ape with another of his guests over the last six years.. author Billy Ray Chitwood, who shares his life story.

D.G. Kaye with another of her down to earth posts on social media and the impact on our lives. Are we getting lost in social oblivion ?

Social media sharing

Darlene Foster gives us a tour of her home town… Medicine Hat in Canada..


A short story from Christine Campbell… The Thing Is.

black lab 2

Charles Yallowitz with another of his compelling poems..Fear

Yahoo Image Search

The final part of D.Avery’s linked story The Fold.

We continue the story of the Hollywood auditions… courtesy of Jane Risdon and it is always useful to have a brown paper bag to hand.

Mary Smith had a wonderful trip to Canada for a special birthday celebration and shares some of her trip with us.

DSC00152 (Custom)

New book on the shelves

Author Update

The estimated consumption of fizzy drinks around the world is 50billion units a day!  The American Soft Drink Association was proud to say a few years ago that the average American consumes over 600, 12oz servings per year. Children are consuming many more fizzy drinks than adults and they estimate that the average teenager drinks an average of 160 gallons of soft drinks per year until their late 20’

The start of a updated series on the major organs of the body.. starting with the brain. This week an introduction and the anatomy.


This rescue cockatoo is found a new loving home and renewed joy of life and music..

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I am off out and will check in on everything this evening.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Lord Byron – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Paul Andruss

Following on from recent posts on poets and poetry, I am sharing two more on the subject from Paul Andruss in 2017.

Lord Byron – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Paul Andruss


Byron in Greek National Dress

No, not me… but I’m flattered you considered it, even for a moment.

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ was how Lady Caroline Lamb described her lover Lord Byron after he dumped her. Caroline Lamb was as mad as a box of frogs. Even Byron couldn’t handle her, which, God knows, given his track-record should be proof enough.

Caro Lamb (Wikipedia)

During one vitriolic public spat with Byron, ‘Caro’ attempted suicide in the middle of a ball by slashing her wrists with a wineglass. Talk about hell has no fury; she then took it on herself to blacken his name with a public eager for any breath of scandal from this rock-star.

Hang on, rock star? Well famously, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll makes you a rock-star. All you gotta do is substitute poetry for rock-n-roll and….

What d’ya think the big appeal was for people like Keats? Consumption?

Considering we have a song for every occasion from weddings to funerals, with lyrics so personal they are meant only for us, is it really so hard to image getting the same chills from a poem?

In the days before I-pods, Discmans, Walkmans, transistor radios, dancettes, radiograms and even wind up gramophones (not though I’m implying any of you are that old) music was not personal, but public. After all, you can’t take a piano on a picnic. But you could a poetry book; to be read aloud or even in dreamy silence.

Ken Russell brought home the idea of poets as rock-stars, as only he could, in his film Gothic: about the summer Byron spent with fellow poet Shelley in the villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. A holiday that saw the creation of Frankenstein and the first inklings of vampire fiction based on Byron’s remembered folktales from his travels in Greece. In the opening scene two prim young women sneak into the villa gardens, spot the poets, start screaming hysterically and throw their bloomers at them.

Mary and Percy Shelley; Byron and John Polidori (National Portrait Gallery)

Due to the huge volcanic explosion of Mount Tambora the year before, 1816 was called ‘the year without a summer’. Byron and Shelley, along with the Wollenscroft sisters, stayed in the Villa Diodati. Imprisoned in the house by the appalling weather they did what any self-respecting rock-stars would do: got drunk and off their heads on opium, and no doubt hashish from Ottoman Turkey.

George Byron was born in 1788 with a club foot, something that caused him acute embarrassment and violent fights at school. It also added to his allure an adult: sure proof he was the Devil. His deformity possibly gave him the idea of controlling his image when famous. He personally approved all portraits, only allowing himself to be presented in certain studied poses that gave rise to an ideal of a Byronic hero: mean, moody and magnificent.

Byron Portrait (From Britannica)

So, we know Byron was a poet, even though we can’t quote any lines of poetry (*see footnote); that he was devilishly handsome (remember he approved his portraits); and a thoroughly bad lot. But who was Byron and why did the very mention of his name make men, as well as women, want to lie down and reach for the smelling salts?

One of the first things you come across is Byron’s bisexuality. Although, I think that term is a bit post-Freudian. People are sexual, and of course opportunistic. In an all-boys school with hormones raging, then…

Byron confessed to ‘violent passions’ with school friends and had a protégé at university. In later life, he admitted believing ‘consciousness of sexual difference made England untenable’. In those days, homosexuality and sodomy was not just social ruin, but also hanging offences.

Byron also had women: lots of women. One was a distant cousin, Mary Chatsworth; another was his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. Rumours of incest abound. It was claimed he fathered a child on Augusta. His introduction to sex started at the age of 9, when a serving girl visited his bedroom to ‘play tricks on his person’: her way of ensuring he did not tell his mother of her drunken binges.

Underpainting sketch for portrait of Byron’s half-sister Augusta Leigh

During this time his widowed mother’s suitor Lord Grey De Ruthyn also made sexual advances on him. The first vampire story, and possible origination of the genre, was written by Byron’s physician John Polidori during that fateful summer at the Villa Diodati. The vampire, a suave nobleman based on his employer Lord Byron, is called Lord Ruthven, making one wonder what Bryon confided to his handsome, young doctor and under what circumstances.

At the age of 21, Byron headed off on a European Grand Tour as did most young noblemen. An influencing factor may have been a friend downing himself rather than risking public exposure of his sexuality. Byron later admitted sexual freedom was also a lure.

In 1809, with Napoleon rampaging through Europe and Wellington fighting the Peninsula War in Portugal, Byron headed to Italy and through the Ottoman Empire to Turkish Greece. (Greeks and Turks still hate each other.) Here he took up with a 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl in Athens.

(Even writing this leaves me feeling contaminated – child abuse: one of the many unpalatable facets of history. The past is not just a foreign country; it’s your worst nightmare.)

On a brighter note the Pasha of Greece allegedly wanted to make Byron his catamite. Byron only managed to evade his advances because of his title.

Returning to England, Byron wrote of his travels in the first cantos of his ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ and became instantly famous. Of course despite mounting debts, Byron, being a gentleman, refused payment for his work, which must have made his publishers very happy indeed.

Annabella Milbanke

During this time came his scandalous affairs, mounting debts and unhappy marriage. His wife’s wealthy family were ‘trade’. They had the cash: he the title. Annabella Milbanke, a ‘blue-stocking’ (i.e. educated), their heiress was their pride and joy.

She was also Caro Lamb’s cousin, which couldn’t have gone down well with her deranged relative once she realised Byron had no intention of revisiting that pasture. Fervent, pure-minded and madly in love with Byron’s poetry, Annabella believed she could cure her husband’s excesses and thereby save his soul.

Hmmm… guess what!

Eventually Byron was forced to flee rather than face prosecution for sodomy with his wife. Society gasped to learn Annabella was prepared to face such public humiliation merely to punish her husband. They suspected Caro was behind it. A trifle hypocritical considering Byron had also indulged himself in that way with Caro before marriage and Caro rather enjoyed it, even dressing up as a young manservant to facilitate the illusion.

However, exile did allow Byron to escape his ruinous debts – so it wasn’t all bad.

While living in Venice in 1816, he learned Armenian, co-authoring an English-Armenian Grammar, and eloped with the young wife of an old count with whom he resided until he left for Greece 7 years later. During this time he wrote many important works including Don Juan. His friend Shelley died in a boating accident as did his illegitimate daughter to Mary Wollenscroft Shelley’s sister. Dead of fever at the age of 5, while under her father’s loving but negligent care.

Memorial to the drowned poet Shelley in Oxford

In 1823 Byron joined the Greek fight for Independence from the Ottoman Empire. While sailing to the Greek mainland from the island of Kefalonia, Byron’s ship, fleeing the Turkish navy, landed to Messalongi where Byron joined the rebels. The following spring he caught a chill which may have resulted in pneumonia. With unsterilized instruments the usual medical practice of bloodletting left him with blood poisoning. He died on the 23 April 1824 aged 36.

He left instructions in his will for all his personal papers to be destroyed. His executors carried out his last request: making him even more of an enigma and ensuring the myth of the Byronic hero influenced generations of poets, writers and bohemians. Although lauded by the Greeks and an object of endless fascination to the British public, the establishment never really forgave him.

Byron Memorial Messalongi Greece

Byron had a daughter with his wife Annabella: the famous ‘blue stocking’. No surprise Ada turned out to be a brilliant mathematician, developing computer programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine (1837): the first general purpose programmable digital mechanical computer of the modern age. The size of a small palace it was worked by gears and handles. Due to its size and complexity Babbage only completed a small part of the Analytical Engine, before his death. But all this of course is another story.

Ada Lovelace (nee Byron)

*Footnote: Opening lines of ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;

©Paul Andruss 2017

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Following on from last weekend’s posts on poetry I am sharing two more on the subject from Paul Andruss in 2017.

William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Ancient of Days (Frontispiece from Europe a prophecy- Blake)

William Blake 1757 –1827 is best remembered for lines from a handful of poems.


And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?

The Tyger

Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 In the forests of the night;

Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all of heaven in a rage

The Sick Rose –   

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm…
  Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

William Blake 1757 –1827

William Blake was born in 1757 to English Dissenters who had separated from the Church of England over State interference in religious matters. At the age of 10, he had his first brush with the spiritual and mystic realm that came to dominate his life, experiencing a vision of a tree full of angels on Peckham Rye Common. Blake continued to have visions throughout his life.

Around this time his parents sent him to drawing classes. When the young Blake developed a preference for engraving, his father apprenticed him at 14 to a print-maker. As a printer and engraver Blake was able to print his own poetry books illustrated with hand-painted watercolours.

Dismissed as idiosyncratic, his genius was ignored during his lifetime. An exhibition of his paintings was poorly attended and the only review hostile. In his twilight years Blake gathered a small group of disciples who kept his flame flickering until his biography in 1865 introduced him to the poet Swineburne, luminaries in the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Pre-Raphaelite revival during the hippy era ensured Blake’s rediscovery. His unique artistic style and mystical poems struck a chord with a generation yearning for spirituality. Today he is chiefly remembered for his hand-tinted etchings and two collections of illustrated poems: Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794).

A large part of his work languishes unknown. These are his visionary books, a series of almost incomprehensible interrelated illustrated poems. Described by Blake as prophetic and apocalyptic, they show him to be a revolutionist.

A prophet is not a fortune teller but someone God uses as a mouthpiece. For Blake, God was the embodiment of natural truth and justice, while the church was no better than the Biblical Great Whore.

Babylon the Whore mounted on the Great Beast from Revelation (Blake)

In the Greek, Apocalyptic means to uncover or reveal; accounting for the Apocalypse of St John’s other name: the Book of Revelation. Having said that in Blake’s day the word meant the same thing we understand today: the end times. Yet in Revelation, when the old world is swept away, the righteous inherit New Jerusalem. Rather than the penalty of sin, it is the harbinger of heaven on earth.

Blake may have deliberately sheathed his work in allegory because his radical political views were considered treasonable. He was tried for sedition in 1803 after an altercation with a soldier where the old man was supposed to have cried out: ‘Down with the King!’ He was acquitted.

Blake was an advocate of the Free Love Movement, which wasn’t about throwing your car keys into a fruit bowl – I’m pretty sure Mrs Blake would have had something to say about that. Rather it espoused the political equality, and social and sexual freedom of women. It also advocated the removal of all laws against adultery, homosexuality and prostitution. And was the director ancestor of the Suffragettes and Family Planning.

Blake believed marriage was slavery. This was a time when marriages were often arranged. A woman was required to be obedient and subservient to her husband. Her wealth became her spouse’s on marriage. More or less considered her husband’s property, she was obliged to fulfil his needs and condemned to perpetual pregnancy.

It wasn’t until over a century later, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth Control Clinic in New York City in 1921. The police closed it down. A year later, Marie Stopes – scientist, academician, campaigner and author of the best-selling female sexual health manual, Married Love – opened a Birth Control Clinic in West London that fared better.

Blake was an admirer of the radical English philosopher Thomas Payne whose work ‘The Rights of Man’ played a significant role in the American Revolution and provided the blueprint for The American Constitution and The Bill of Rights. He also admired the French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who most famously said: Man is born free and is everywhere in chains. He may have even met Rousseau during his exile in London during the 1760s.

England was the birthplace of revolution. In 1215 King John capitulated to the barons in the Magna Carta. In the 1649, Parliament executed King Charles who believed he was directly appointed by God. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution saw Parliament overthrow of the Catholic sympathiser James II in favour of a restricted monarchy by his daughter and her husband: William and Mary.

Yet, the American Revolution was viewed as a unique and radical event in that it enshrined the rights of citizens and created an egalitarian society. Although women were not in actuality much better off, the ethos of Revolutionary Motherhood gave women a say in rearing their children and eroded the patriarchal rights of paterfamilias. Marriage focused on love and affection rather than wifely obedience; allowing the next generation to choose their spouses and use birth control.

Educated in the newly translated Greek classics, and struggling to shake off the last shackles of absolutism in religion and politics, Europeans looked on the American Revolution as a renaissance of (in their idealised view) ancient Athens: the birthplace of democracy (rule of the common people). That was in fact a slave owning society that denied rights to women.

America a Prophecy Frontispiece (Blake)

In ‘America a Prophecy’ Blake lauds America for overthrowing tyranny, considering it a beacon of liberty and equality. In ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’, he has the women of England look to America, where he believes all discrimination one day will end and where they will receive equal rights.

From the Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake)

Blake created a whole mythology around his romanticised version of England. He renamed the country Albion, after a giant who settled here island and whose sons and daughters inhabited it for a thousand years until Brutus came from Troy… the story which begins Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the British Kings’.

Blake was very much in tune with contemporary historical ideas when he created his mythology, borrowing heavily from the Bible, including the newly translated excluded books, fragments of classical myth and medieval works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and the ancient Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen and Red Book of Hergest.

As with all his work, at the heart of his mythology is a lament for the loss of the traditional rural past and a condemnation of the industrialisation and urbanisation ruining England’s once green and pleasant land. Blake’s poem Jerusalem (in full below) is a plea to end the madness of modernity and return to Eden, where Adam and Eve were equal.

It references the medieval story of Jesus visiting Glastonbury in England with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. Christ’s presence made England a holy land; a New Jerusalem. Where, in the words of John Ball’s sermon preached 400 years earlier during the Peasant’s Revolt…

‘When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men… I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty’

During his life Blake saw the agricultural villages and cottage industries that characterised Britain since the Middle-Ages, being overturned by farming machinery and more efficient practices requiring fewer workers. Common land was enclosed by landowners – preventing tenant farmers and smallholders the right to graze animals on common ground – denying an important source of additional income and effectively reducing them to servitude.

Abandoning the traditional way of life, the rural poor flocked to the newly expanding squalid overcrowded cities. Here they were forced to work long hours for little money and less consideration, as unskilled labour in the new steam powered manufactories – giving us the modern word factory.

Is it any wonder the French industrial poor threw wooden clogs into the machines that destroyed their livelihoods? The wooden clog or sabot gave rise to the name Saboteur.

Some analysts equate the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem not with the new manufactories but the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford – spewing out the new-age men of science and engineering, and the clergy who enslaved Christ’s own Englishmen for the greedy landowner and fell industrialist.

Others, less given to allegory, point out he could be referring to Albion Flour Mills the first big factory in London, situated close to Blake’s house. When it burned down, possibly due to arson, a contemporary illustration showed the devil squatting over the burning building.

In 1776, France had helped the American Revolutionaries. This was more to piss off the English than for any genuine fellow feeling. The French Monarchy was far more totalitarian.

Thirteen years later it seemed only fair the Americans should in turn help the French Revolutionaries … despite their actions not displaying much gratitude to the French king. (In thanks, the French Republic later gifted America with the Statue of Liberty. Constructed by Gustav Eiffel, a copy gifted by America to France, stands in Paris not far from Eiffel’s Tower.)

With the French Revolution came another prophetic book ‘Europe a prophecy’, where Blake praised the French, as he had the Americans, for having the courage to do what the English would not: embrace liberty, fraternity and equality. This has led some to consider ‘The Tyger’ (in full below) a paean to the French Revolution.

Blake’s fervour is evident in lines like:

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

A reference to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods, putting man above the rest of creation; which begs the question: if man is the pinnacle of creation why are some less than others?

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand & what dread feet

The French Revolution began among the poor and disenfranchised – the labourer working with his hands to produce a wealth he does not share. His tools, used to make profit for others, will now smash his chains. Its revolutionary anthem was the marching song ‘La Marseillaise’’ calling volunteers from Marseilles to fight tyranny-

“To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!”

The Tyger’s concluding lines can be simultaneously read in two contradicting ways.

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Is Blake parodying his earlier poem The Lamb’ (from Songs of Innocence) with a jab at the complacent and long-suffering English working class; unfavourably compared to their French brothers?

In his complex mythology Blake thought Christ visited England. If Christ is the Good Shepherd; we are his flock. Unlike the tigers of France, Englishmen are content to be sheep and so he wonders: Is the god of universal justice, pleased to see his chosen people bought off by boiled beef and carrots?

By the time the poem was published in 1794, the ideals of the Revolution were lost to the Reign of Terror. Aristocrats and citizens alike where daily denounced and guillotined to the clack of les tricoteuses’ knitting needles. Worse the Terror played into the hands of the English Establishment who had always belittled the Revolution. The English press jocularly compared English Slavery to French Liberty in contemporary cartoons.

French Liberty and English Slavery (a satirical cartoon)

Because the Tyger is a savage beast who knows only how to destroy and devour, do we, in Blake’s last lines, hear his despair that man, by his very nature, is incapable of embracing the universal justice of brotherhood, equality and freedom?

End-piece to Jerusalem (Blake)


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

©Paul Andruss 2017

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.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up -Herbie Hancock, Gems from Your Archives and Talkative Parrots.

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

We currently have a digger in the back garden, a cement filled trench awaiting blocks for a retaining wall and mounds of earth, that I am sure will be turned into a wonderfully landscaped vista by the end of the week.. that’s the plan anyway.

I had to do a complete replant of my pots this week as the ones I bought from a supermarket as good value, turned out to be duds.. I did think when I put them in that they were too dry and watered them and gave them some feed but after two weeks of TLC… most had died. Anyway… I went to my usual garden centre and paid a bit more and they are all thriving. Just goes to show sometimes bargains do not work out. It is the first year out of about 50.. that it has happened so I should count myself lucky.. All the pots are round the side of the house at the moment with equipment coming in and out and I will have fun putting them back later in the week.

We have old friends arriving Tuesday for two days. They are currently touring south and west Ireland finishing in Dublin over the weekend before coming down to us.. we are only an hour from their return ferry so handy… This is their first time in Ireland and I am looking forward to hearing how they got on..

The Posts from Your Archives is going well. I am so enjoying browsing and reading everyone’s posts to select the four I am going to publish… I feel I am getting to know people a little better and I am discovering some hidden gems to share as you will see later in the post. If you are on the list and have not heard from me… I am just about to begin scheduling the June spots and will get in touch with dates shortly.. It looks like this series is going to run into July which is terrific.

Time to get on with the round up and as always I am very grateful for all the contributions, shares, likes and comments..

William Price King shares the music of American Jazz Pianist, Keyboardist, Composer, Band Leader and Actor Herbie Hancock.

Another two part series from Paul Andruss on Poetry… with some iconic examples from the masters.. According to the Muse….

This week I reviewed Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires by Frank Prem.

This week in early June 1986 we drove the 7 hours to reach South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico.. fabulous place (those shrimp were to die for) and also I up my exercise routine (makes my knees ache just reading about it!)

Delighted to welcome guest writer, singer/songwriter guitarist Michelle Monet to the blog today who explores the concept of fame and the inclusion of ‘big names’ in memoirs to catch the public’s eye.

Robbie Cheadle with a short story in response to one of Sue Vincent’s Photo Prompt Challenges  Memorandum left by Dr Thompson

Jacquie Biggar with a delicious recipe for soup that can be adapted for everyone’s tastes and would make a great starter or main course.


This week D.Wallace Peach back to nature, and if you think you have bats in your belfry… you might not be crazy.

photo by John Pearce via Flickr

Finance expert Sharon Marchisello shares some of the ways you can pay off your mortgage early.

Our resident foodie, Carol Taylor, shares the stray dog and welfare issues in Thailand and how one mum and her pups enters their lives


Miriam Hurdle takes us on a trip to Yellowstone National Park and Alaska with some amazing photography.


Pete Johnson, Beetley Pete, takes us on a ride in his time machine to ancient Rome.. where would you like to travel to.. the past or the future..

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies has a wonderful book review feature every Sunday and here is an example where she reviews Midlife Cabernet by Elaine Ambrose.

This week I am sharing a guest post by author A.C. Flory from the archives of Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape.

A heartwarming and poignant short story from Darlene Foster…The Special Date.


Author Christine Campbell shares the first part of a tour of Scotland when she and family drove whilst her husband cycled from John O’Groats to Embo..

surf 1

Another wonderful episode in the linked flash fiction family saga.. The Fold by D. Avery

Charles Yallowitz takes a look at the art of ‘Banter’ the exchange between two people… usually comedic. The Art of Bantering: Not as Easy as You Think

This is the third post from author Jane Risdon and since you enjoyed the audition posts last week.. here is part two…The Auditions Part Two: Let’s Play Rock ‘n’ Roll by Zeppelin

Red Corvette rear end

This post by Mary Smith, illustrates that sometimes the hardest part of caring for a person who has dementia can be leaving them to have some much needed respite… even when they are never far from your thoughts.

October 2014 028-800

New Book on the Shelves

Author update #reviews