Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up -Summer Jazz, Photoshop, Moreish Mince and Interviews, Music, Health and Humour

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts that you might have missed.

After almost five weeks there the day is partly cloudy and it is only temporary as we do not have rain forecast until 16th of July. I know we moan about the weather, but this is the first time in the years that I lived here previously and in the last two, that you can say with certainty that you are having a BBQ next week!

We are renowned for the amount of our rain here but in some parts of the country treated water for drinking has become a problem.. including in Dublin where it is tough to keep up with the demands of millions of hot and thirsty people.

You may not know this but in Ireland we are not charged for our water usage. They did bring in charges in 2015 and many homes had meters fitted, but in 2016 this was repealed and a new system of thresholds for usage were introduced. The first 213,000 litres per year are fee of charge per household, and an additional 25,000 litres per person, for homes with more than four residents.

Clearly there are business premises who will be paying for water, but as yet there is no definitive plan that I have heard, to pay for all the necessary renovations to the existing pipe work.  In the cities, such as Dublin this is Victorian and of course leaks like a sieve in places! This led to headlines last week of a possible shortfall in drinking water as the current equipment is unable to keep up with the demand.

We do however pay for waste water removal which of course requires treatment before disposing of.

Thankfully, despite the fact that we have been basking in sunshine and high temperatures, as sure as there are Leprechauns, there will be rain again soon and everything will be back to normal.

Anyway I know many of you will be off now on holiday or taking breaks from your online life for a while.. have a great time and look forward to hearing about your adventures.

Anyway.. thank you for being here and I hope you enjoy browsing the posts from the week. As always my deepest thanks to my contributors who work so hard to bring you entertaining, informative and creative posts.

The Music Column with William Price King.

The first in a Summer Jazz series beginning with the incomparable Ms Roberta Flack. Part One the Early Years.

Writer in Residence, Paul Andruss with a Photoshop Tutorial for book covers and marketing material.

As a follow up to Paul’s post last week on how to engineer a book cover to maximise interest and therefore sales…he is kindly demonstrating how to accomplish this with photoshop.

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor

This week Carol shares some great recipes to elevate this family favourite to spicy new levels.

Esme’s Party Piece – July Forecast by sign.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview

My guest today probably needs little introduction to most of you who are regulars to the blog. Debby Gies…D.G. Kaye is a very popular blogger and non-fiction author who generously supports us all across social media.

Posts from Your Archives – Sanctuary in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei #Normandy by Sherri Matthews

A fabulous tour around the idyllic village of Saint Ceneri Le Gerei in Normandy with Sherri Matthews.

St-Ceneri-le-Gerei (77) Edited

Sally’s Personal Stuff.

This week I was very honoured to be interviewed by two very lovely writers – the first is Joy Lennick who invited me over on Monday.  Please pop over.

And later in the week I was interviewed by Esme  over on Esme Salon… I hope you will head over and find out more of my secrets…

Letters from America – Hawaii part one.

Odd Jobs and Characters – My employment history that provided me with an endless list of characters..

Sally’s Drive Time Play list.. Music to get the weekend started. 1976

Sally’s Book Reviews – Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Chapter Five – Henry’s New Family

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Summer Sale

I notice that the summer can be a little flat for some of us on the book selling front and that many of you will be putting our books on offer at a reduced price for a week at a time or longer.

What I am proposing is that authors in the bookstore who are planning on doing an offer this summer, schedule it between 9th and 20th July to cover four of the Cafe Updates. Discounted books will be linked directly to Amazon to purchase.

Monday 9th July, Friday 13th, Monday 16th,  Friday 20th July

I currently have  4 slots available on Monday 16th of February and 2 for 20th.

Check out the details:

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author Update #reviews

New Series of The Blogger Daily – Monday to Thursday.

Smorgasbord Health Column

Nutrients the body needs – Calcium the most abundant mineral in the body.

Last week my post was on the kidneys and how they function. I also looked at one of the most painful conditions… Kidney stones. Today I want to continue with the urinary tract as problems with kidney function have a direct impact on the health of this essential waste pathway out of the body.


Health in the News – Natural influenza immunity, prostate cancer breakthrough and mangoes for gut health.

Some Summer chilled soups and salads with some alternative dressings and homemade mayonnaise.



A series of videos on how animals know how to have fun.



Smorgasbord Reblog – The art of Persuasion #Photoshop #Bookcovers by Paul Andruss

Last week in his post on Smorgasbord, Paul Andruss, explored book covers and their need to appeal and engage with readers, as much as the content of the book. He used Persuasion by Jane Austen as an example and created a new cover to illustrate a different approach in catching the eye and selling more books.

There were a great deal of comments about how he created this image and also the gif of my books that he kindly shared.

He promised to post a couple of articles on his own blog and here is the first part of the tutorial on how to use Photoshop effectively.. Here is the usual snippet and the link to continue the tutorial over at Paul’s place.

The tutorial covers loading images, using tools to cut out the parts you want; resizing & piecing them together as digital collage.

Yes, it is technical.

If it wasn’t technical you would be doing it already.

Like writing, graphic art is a process. No one can teach you how to be an artist, any more than someone can teach you to be a writer. A lot depends on innate ability. But, as with writing you can polish flair with technique to increase ability and confidence.


I use Photoshop CS3, bought years ago. The latest version is CS6. Some layouts have changed. The principles are the same. I quickly looked on E-Bay. Download versions of Photoshop are available for around £25.00. From what I remember this is how I bought CS3 years ago.

You can download a FREE TRIAL version from (the links are country specific). It allows you to experiment with Photoshop but you cannot save your work. There are lots of tutorials to get you started that go into more detail than this overview.


You can buy Royalty-free images and use them any way you want. Royalty-free images usually come on a white background to make them easier to cut out and use. The downside is they are often not exactly what you want.

If you are on a tight budget, and have some artistic flair, use Google Images. Be aware you cannot take another’s work and pass off as your own. Neither can you use the photograph of a real person without permission.

If you create a book cover without the copyright holder’s permission and your book is successful, you may become a lucrative prospect for litigious lawyers. However you can safely adapt elements of existing work to create new work.

Persuasion consists of 3 elements, each an example of a different way to use pre-existing images.

Background: Not having any idea of the final look I downloaded a large photo of a stable courtyard from Google Images. In the end I only used an archway.

Hunk: For illustration purposes, I broke my own rules. I used a whole figure of a real person. If you intend to do this I suggest you buy a royalty-free image.

Head over and read the rest of this comprehensive tutorial on creating book covers and marketing materials with Photoshop:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

And the informative and colourful Gardening Column:

Thanks for dropping by today… Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Music, Food, Travel, Legends, Books, Special Guests and Stories

Welcome to the weekly round up and some posts that you might have missed. It has been another glorious week here weather wise and I will admit to having put off some of the writing tasks that I set myself, in favour of being in the sun. You only live once….

It looks like a mostly sunny week again next week so I guess I will continue to be distracted.

This week saw the last in the Josh Groban series and William Price King will be taking his usual Summer break. He spends some time in the mountains with his family but is also wrapping up work on a new series of videos with his new accompanist.. I shared a taster a couple of weeks ago, and I am certain that you will enjoy the full length versions when available.

In the meantime I will be sharing a couple of previous series in a new time slot of just after midnight on Tuesday mornings. When William returns we have a new theme for you to enjoy as we introduce you to the top jazz instrumentalists. From accordion and banjo to the violin, fabulous artists who have evolved the style and backed the top names in the business. We hope you will enjoy learning more about this wonderful expression of music.

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban up to date.

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss #BookCovers – Persuasion.

This week Paul explores the increased sales that result from a perfectly executed book cover. One that engages, connects and perhaps titillates. What would Ms. Jane Austen say about her makeover??

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor

This week Carol elevates the delicious duck to new levels with some piquant sauces. Also an interesting way to preserve duck eggs…. really!!!

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye.

And last but definitely not least, a warm welcome to author D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies, with the first post in the brand new Travel Column. To get you into the swing of things, Debby will post three articles on the popular vacation on the high seas. In the first post she looks at types of cruises, cabins and where the best place to sleep is in choppy seas. Plus some of her usual tips and strategies.

The Sunday Interview – Getting to know you with John W. Howell.

Posts from Your Archives – Travel – This week Sherri Matthews gives us a guided tour of Lake Garda in Italy with some stunning photographs.


Personal Stuff

Letters from America – short hair, hurricane Danny and trivia pursuit.

Odd jobs and characters…. behind the scenes of my various occupations that provided me characters and events for my short stories. This week hotel assistant manager and a whirlwind romance.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – Hot Chocolate and Judy Collins.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Three – My First Real Friend

Chapter Four – Henry’s Story

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author Update #reviews

Meet the Reviewers

Cathy Ryan

Smorgasbord Health Column -Nutrients the body needs – Vitamin K1 and K2

Research is identifying that Vitamin K2 deficiency could be contributing to higher rates of dementia, prostate cancer and kidney disease.

Ancient healing therapies – Tai Chi.

Great for posture and for strengthening the core whilst losing the stress.

Organs of the body – The Kidneys – function and structure

Kidney - macroscopic blood vessels

Humour and afternoon videos

Thank you so much for dropping in this week and being so supportive here and on social media.. I am very grateful. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the coming week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence -#bookcovers – Persuasion by Paul Andruss

Welcome to the monthly post by Paul Andruss. This time he looks at book covers and their influence on the buying public.. Some interesting experiments that show that time spent on this element of your book is as important as the words inside.

(Andruss) Jane Austen: literary giant or saucy little minx? 

You decide *

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

What if they were wrong?

What if a picture was worth 60,000 words?

60,000 words is almost the length of an average novel.

What if you could instantly download 60,000 words of high impact, emotion-filled advertising straight into the brains of potential readers in the blink of an eye?

Would you hesitate?

Would you heck as like!

Human beings, and other primates, are unique among mammals in that we see in colour. Our eyes have two kinds of light receptors called cones and rods.

Mammals in the Age of Dinosaurs kept safe by being nocturnal. Rods work best in low light, which is fine for nocturnal animals, but they do not process colour. To compensate mammals relied on an acute sense of smell.

Most mammals, like horses, have eyes on either side of the head: to keep a lookout for predators. Up in the trees, monkeys needed to judge the distance from branch to branch, therefore the eyes moved to the front of the face. It made the face flatter, reducing the nose.

The sense of smell suffered. (Think of how much more sensitive a dog’s nose is than ours).

To compensate, we developed cones to see in colour, like birds and reptiles. Although we could no longer smell ripe fruit from a distance, we could certainly see it as ripe fruit changes colour.

Twenty-five million years of evolution left man dependent on vision. We respond to, and process, visual data best. 20% of the brain is devoted to vision. Eyes, as outgrowths of the brain, are the only part of the brain with direct access to the outside world. The visual cortex interacts with at least half the brain including areas for hearing, memory, emotion and automatic responses, which is how we instinctively dodge something even before we see it.

90% of the information we take in is visual.

93% of all our communication is visual: not words!

Reading and writing is only a few thousand years old. Therefore it is no surprise we process images 60,000 times faster than the written word.

Now you know all this, isn’t it time you took control of your book covers and your brand images, icons and posters to effectively communicate the essence of your book in a single high impact visual experience?

I cannot be the only kid who spent his pocket money on records because I loved the LP cover. I did not care what the music sounded like. I bought books for much the same reason.

Today, book covers might not make me buy, but they certainly make me take the book off the shelf. No mean feat in a modern bookstore.

In the 1950s, Victor Weybright of the New American Library set up a quality paperback imprint that sold millions of copies at 50 cents apiece. He originally published mystery stories. One day while reading a novel by William Faulkner, a literary heavy weight and Nobel Prize laureate, he thought…

‘…considering all of Faulkner’s sex and violence, if this book was marketed like a detective novel by Mickey Spillane or Dashsiell Hammett, I could shift copies. Of course the fine writing didn’t help… but in the end presentation is all. A sexy cover can do wonders.

‘I phoned up Faulkner’s publishers and asked for the paperback rights to half a dozen of his novels. The publisher was dumbfounded; we’ve never sold more than 2 or 3 thousand copies of all his works put together and you want to put him on the mass market!

‘I put a sexy cover on ‘Absalom, Absalom!’ and a distinguished one on ‘Sanctuary’. I was astounded when the virtually unreadable Absalom sold in the thousands; while the much better Sanctuary bombed. As an experiment I swapped the covers and watched the sales figures for the two novels flip.

‘It was at this point I realised the contents of a paperback book means nothing. It’s the cover that sells it!’

As writers we pore over our words, reading, editing and honing every aspect of plot, character and motivation; sweating over every clause. But when our perfect novel is finished, how much thought do we really give to the cover? And not only the cover but the entire visual presentation?

In relation to how long it took to write the damn thing, I would say very little. Yet in the end, that eye-catching image might be the difference between buying the Scottish castle next door to J. K. Rowling or having your pride and joy relegated to the bargain bin of the local book store.

An author’s lack of concern about visuals might be a hangover from traditional publishing where the author had little say on the visual marketing strategy. As we never tire of saying, those days are long gone. As ‘indie authors’ we already embrace not only editing and publishing but also promotion and publicity: and isn’t that just visual marketing?

You might protest you are not a graphic artist.

You don’t need to be.

This is not about making your cover and brand image.

This is about choosing it.

You may already outsource your editing, proof-reading and publishing. With each, the final responsibility sits with you, the author. Why should your visual marketing strategy be any different?

Who knows your work better than you?

Who is better placed to say whether an image captures the mood you wish to convey?
Remember the mood you choose to convey may, or may not, be directly, or obliquely, related to, or not at all related to, the subject matter of your book.

A cover image and visual marketing may encourage readers to buy your book but it cannot make your book a good read. Your text stands or falls on its own merits, independent of cover or visual marketing strategy. This is why movie trailers are often better than the actual movies.

Here are psychological principles of visual marketing:

Use a gripping image to get an idea over. If we are told a piece of information, a few days later, we only remember about 10% of what was said. But if it is accompanied by an eye-catching picture the amount of information we retain goes up to 65%.

An image will capture interest in an instant. Given the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds, you have plenty of time to drive a message home.

Use colour. It is more arresting.

We are hard wired to respond to faces. A new born baby recognises its mother. It recognises her smile and even determines her emotional state. As adults we constantly read faces for emotional cues.

Where you can, have the characters’ faces in your marketing tell a story. It will leave people subconsciously curious as to the nature of that story. In the promotional poster for Finn Mac Cool below, you can see Erin’s resentment, seated Finn’s defiant innocence and the muscleman Dermot’s resignation. What impression does it make?

In visual marketing, take care to distinguish promotional materials from the book cover. They are not the same. An e-book cover icon is small. A large picture reduced down is too cluttered and indistinct to have impact. It is better to focus on one detail.


E-book Cover (Andruss)

Our brains love to be stimulated, but our attention span is 8 seconds. After this the brain switches off unless something new happens. Nerves fire at 1,000 electrical ‘pulses’ per second that’s a lot of energy. To understand the information, the visual cortex must communicate with parts of the brain dealing with memory, recognition and comprehension.

When nerve impulses reach a junction, called a synapse, they convert to chemicals to jump the gap. So the chemicals are not exhausted the synapse quickly stops working until something new comes along.

A way to keep the synapse firing is with new data. Animation does this because of the changing images. Animation is a great tool to beat the 8 second rule and create a lasting impression. Here is one that I prepared earlier for the draft cover of Tales from the Irish Garden coming soon by Sally.

I hope this gives you something to think about.


for the original shocking cover to Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

This was banned by the BBCMD
(British Bloggers Committee for Morals and Decency)
for bringing the literary writings of Jane Austen into disrepute

And as such is likely to offend… everyone.


©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.

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 two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence:

and Paul’s Gardening Column:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – #Music, Nessie, #Thai Curry Pastes, New Books, #Reviews, #Health and #Humour

Welcome to the round up of the week’s posts. It only seems a couple of days since I posted the last one! However, we have had a busy week with plenty going on off screen including the renovation of the front garden. All the tree stumps are now all dug up and David survived the process. I have been supervising…. and providing sustenance of course in a timely fashion. He has also dug over all the ground, removed smaller roots and raked it over.

Hopefully the lawn man who promised to come in a couple of weeks a month ago will appreciate that 75% of the job he quoted for is now done and he only has to lay the lawn.

We are also waiting on the guy to come and fix our electronic gate.. He said Wednesday but neglected to tell us which Wednesday. It is frustrating when people say that they will turn up and then do not bother. We have stayed in three times now in the last couple of weeks in anticipation and it is disappointing and frankly unprofessional. The papers are full of how business is not as good as it should be…. I wonder why!

Anyway.. sorry for the little rant!  One thing I can never complain about, is the consistency and commitment by those who contribute to the blog each week with columns and to those of you who tune in regularly to like, comment and share. I really am very grateful.

Time to share the posts from the week that you might have missed…..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban Part Four.

More hits from this exceptional artist with some of his most recognisable hits that William has provided background to.

Paul Andruss – Writer in Residence.

No post from Paul this week but I always like to reblog from his own site as it is always interesting.. this week.. Nessie… the Loch Ness Monster has been the subject of many scientific studies.. but it is it a myth or a reality?

From the film ‘The Water Horse- Legend of the Deep’

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor – Thai curry pastes from scratch.

The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – Blast Off! – Memorable first lines of books.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with Annette Rochelle Aben

Welcome to Getting to Know You where guests pick five questions that reveal a little more about their personality and background. This week my guest is Miss Personality as far as I am concerned. You don’t have to be in the same room with Annette Rochelle Aben to know that she is funny, compassionate, empathetic and generous. That all shines through in her blog posts, social media comments and radio podcasts. And as you will find out… it also shines bright as day in her interview.

Personal Stuff – Odd Jobs and Characters

I leave my job as housekeeper/cook of the boarding school and hop a train all the way to North Wales where I start a new position at a swanky hotel. Arriving late at night at this gothic mansion was not the best start to a new job I have had!

Letters from America – 100 degrees, Key Lime Pie and Adverts

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Serialisation

Chapter One – In the Beginning

Chapter Two – My New Home.

A new story written as a guest post for Noelle Granger’s blog – Charlie the Junkyard Dog.

Charlie was a junkyard dog and had the scars to prove it. He was head of security of this fenced off mass of scrap metal, dotted with mounds of old tyres he called home, and he took his job very seriously. During the day, he was chained up next to the beat-up old trailer, where his human would shout loudly at other humans; sometimes throwing things at the thin metal walls. In bad weather Charlie would retreat into a rough scrap wood shelter; resting his bony body on a ragged old corn sack on the hard concrete floor as the water dripped in through the roof.

Poetry – Haiku

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – 1974

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore Author Updates

Meet the Reviewers

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Summer Fruit Salad

fruit and veg banner

The Candida Albicans Shopping List

Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique

Humour and Afternoon Videos


Smorgasbord Reblog – Writer in Residence – Fantastic Beasts & where to… 5 – Nessie by Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss has written a series of posts on fantastic beasts and where to find them.. and here is a snippet from his 5th post on the subject….. We went to Loch Ness one summer and watched for hours in the hopes of seeing the legendary but elusive monster.. Paul goes into the background behind the myth.

Fantastic Beasts & where to… 5 – Nessie by Paul Andruss

From the film ‘The Water Horse- Legend of the Deep’

Loch Ness, obviously! Where else?

Every river and loch in Scotland boasts its own water beastie; that’s 24 so far… and counting.

An let me tell ye, each and every ane o these pair beasties are pure ragin’ at Nessie getting’ all the publicity.

They even boycotted this year’s Cryptozoology conference at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.

As a rather large, fierce looking, and suitably amphibious spokes-person, picketing outside, was heard to say to anyone who cared to listen… Aye well noo oor Nessie, is it! Oor Nessie mah erse! Wid ye listen tae yon dobber blethrin keech aboot oor Nessie. Pure shan by the way that’s wit it is. Fair give ye the boak so it does! If ye want tae ken aboot oor Nessie, the noo, shut yir pus Jeemie n’ I’ll tell’e… Oor Nessie isnae kelpie.

This is because Nessie lives in a loch and kelpies live in rivers. Nessie is the bigger and meaner version, an each-uisge. The word kelpie probably means colt or foal, which makes sense when you know each-uisge literally means water-horse.

It is claimed both shapeshifting creatures become beautiful horses to entice the unwary into riding them. Once mounted, riders are stuck fast as the creature heads for the water, to drown and devour its victim at leisure; leaving naught but their entrails, discarded on the bank.

The Brook Horse

Kelpies and each-uisge are often given away by having reversed hooves, or the ability to sing in a beautiful voice. Like Scandinavian and English Nixies, who become brook-horses, they can turn into handsome men or beautiful women; often slipping up by having copious mud in their hair or even by retaining horse’s hooves.

The Kelpie Painting by Herbert James Draper

Some folklorists claim Nessie first appeared in the Dark Age biography of the Celtic saint Columba. When Columba came across some locals burying a man savagely mauled by a monster, he selflessly ordered one of his disciples into the water as bait. As the creature attacked with an awful roar, the saint made the sign of the cross causing the beast to flee.

Sadly, there are a number of problems with the story.

The Life of Saint Columba was not written until a hundred years after the event. Generally any Celtic saint worth his salt chases away at least one water monster, and this was one of two St Columba tackled. The others were frog-like creatures with long beaks that attacked while he was crossing the open sea in a boat.

The incident takes place in the River Ness and not the Loch. As the monster was described as short and compact with whiskers like a cat, it might have been an embellished old folktale describing a seal attacking a swimmer, or boat. Local stories were often incorporated into the lives of saints as a way of proving the saint had visited the place.

Before shooting to fame in 1933, Nessie was merely one of the 24 or so legendary water-horses. And he was originally seen as a horse. A folktale has Nessie haunting the woods around the loch wearing its own saddle and bridle. When a local man surprised it, cutting off the bridle, the kelpie begged him to return it, but to no avail.

The man escaped with the magical bridle leaving the thwarted kelpie cursing and swearing. It was later said the kelpie’s bridle had healing powers. If placed in water while calling upon the Father, the Son and of the Holy Ghost, the liquid could be drunk as a cure-all.

The first modern sighting of Nessie was in a local paper in May 1933, when the water-bailiff and part time journalist reported seeing a monster. In August, a second paper carried a story by a tourist and his wife, who saw a 25-foot long creature with a long thin neck looking like ‘a dragon or prehistoric animal… trundling across the road toward the loch with an animal in its mouth’.

After this letters began regularly arriving at local papers attesting to various sightings, or remembered stories, including some claiming to date back to 1870.

I do recommend that you head over and read the rest of this fascinating post:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

And the informative and colourful Gardening Column:

Thanks for dropping by today… Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss -Taste the Rainbow #Irises

This week Paul shares some of the most beautiful Irises to adorn your garden. Don’t forget that Paul is only too delighted to ask your gardening questions…. please leave in the comments.

Parkers Bulbs

Iris was not a goddess but one of the titans- giants that ruled before the gods. According to Homer’s Illiad she was the gods’ messenger, flying between Mount Olympus and earth on the rainbow.

Iris by Yorkshire Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw

You would think someone using the rainbow for transport would have bright iridescent wings to catch the sunlight and cast it back in a myriad of colours. But Iris’ wings were golden. The glorious rainbow wings you would expect to be hers by right belonged to her sister Arke – the second faint arc of the double rainbow.

During the war in heaven when the titans and gods fought for supremacy, Iris chose to become the gods’ messenger while Arke remained loyal to her kin, the titans. When the gods defeated the titans, Zeus cast her into Tartarus with the rest of her kin and deprived of her beautiful wings.

In later stories Iris wears a coat of many colours that forms the rainbow as she travels. The goddess Iris lent her name to the flower because it came in some many varieties of colour.

The Iris was sacred to Juno, the mother of the gods. The French Royal symbol the golden fleur de lis (lily of the field) is an iris.

Originally irises were not simply grown for their beauty but for the medicinal properties of Orris Root, (the fleshy tuber of the common European Flag Irises such as Florentina and Gerrmanica and Pallidia). Orris root was used as an anti-inflammatory and a purgative.
If any of you remember Rosemary’s Baby, while poor Rosemary was pregnant with the devil’s spawn, her friendly neighbourly Satanist, Minnie, gave her a silver pomander containing orris root. Rosemary found the smell earthy and unpleasant and threw it away.

In fact the smell of orris root is reminiscent of violets. The longer the root is left to mature the more fragrant it becomes. Since Roman times, orris root was used as perfume fixative, to make the scent last longer. In this, it is like ambergris: sperm whale vomit of the undigested parts of squid that has matured in the ocean. Lumps found washed up on beaches are worth more than gold.

Orris root is used in cosmetics such as face powders but can cause an allergic reaction. It is also a flavour in gin, which is essentially a specialist vodka tasting of a secret proprietary combination of 25 different herbal extracts including orris root and juniper berries. Orris root is said to taste of raspberries.

The most common irises, and the ones bred in a variety of colours, are the flag, or bearded, irises. The beard is a ridged yellow double frill in the centre of the petals that act as runways for bees. These European irises grow from swollen stems that run along the ground. The roots grow underneath that tuber.

Irises are sun lovers. To flower, the ground hugging tuber needs to be baked by the sun and so should be left proud of the soil. When the plants clump the old central tubers become unproductive. Therefore every couple of years divide the clump. Discard the old dead central tubers and plant the new tubers on top of the soil in late summer. To help the roots form, you need to stop the plant rocking about in the wind, therefore cut the leaves in half on an angle.
Irises are a large family, and while some like to be baked some like wet feet. The native British Yellow flag is one. Yellow Flag grows in water and is used to purify water by absorbing pollutants like agricultural chemical run off. In some American States it is considered an invasive weed.

Japanese Irises (RHS)

Japanese irises (unbearded) also like wet feet so if you like irises but have a boggy area these are the ones for you.

Iris Confusa (Flickr)

A favourite which I have grown for 3 years, and withstands the wet Welsh winters, is Iris Confusa. This is a tough plant that will grow in semi-shade and damp areas and adds a splash of exotica to the garden as it looks like something belonging to a jungle with its bamboo stems and lush palm-frond like leaves bejewelled with a profusion of small pale blue or white iris flowers. Be careful cutting back the manky leaves after winter as the new leaves grow inside the old ones.

Irises are a huge family of 300 species, so before we go here are a few exotics to mention:

(Dutch Bulbs & American Meadows)

Ixia and Sparaxis are two South African reasonably tough early summer bulbs (although check them out for your area). Ixia (Corn Lily) and Saparxis (Harlequin flower) spread quickly and easily and you can pick up bags of them cheaply. Watch it, as they are from South Africa they don’t like waterlogged soils.

The late summer bulbs Acidanthera (The Abyssinian Gladioli or Peacock Flower) and Tigridia (The Tiger Flower) are also easily available and like a hot position.

Like many bulbs plant them where they are well drained, perhaps on a slope or even lay them on an inch of gravel and mix gravel with the soil so they do not rot.

A bit more specialist are Watsonia and Chasmanthe. Also from South Africa they too like it hot and dry. I have found these difficult to grow and they need protection from frost and winter rains.

Both the magical and delicate Dierama or (Angels Fishing Rods) and Gladiolus Byzantium are definitely on my want list

Happy planting!

©Paul Andruss

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 two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence:

and Paul’s Gardening Column:

I hope you have enjoyed this master class on the Iris…..your questions are always welcome. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – With friends – William Price King, Paul Andruss, Carol Taylor, Esme, Billy Ray Chitwood and other brilliant writers.

Welcome to the weekly round up and the posts that you might have missed.  I am finding it hard to believe we are into June already and I have to say we have had an amazing week as far as weather is concerned here in the south east of Ireland. A little overcast today but we have been spared the terrible thunderstorms and flash flooding suffered by our friends across the Irish Sea. Our first crop of sparrow babies is now fledged and that usually means that mum and dad will be producing a second clutch of eggs. Judging my the noise they are making at dawn, they have already made a start on that project!

We have a water bath for the birds and the starlings take full advantage, and no sooner than I have refilled it (several times a day) they are in their splashing and preening. The bird feeding tree and bath were our joint Christmas presents to each other this year, and I have to say that it is a gift that keeps giving. The view from our kitchen window is entertaining and heart warming.

As always a massive thank you to the regular contributors who share their expertise with us.  And to you for dropping in and showing your support by liking, commenting and sharing.

Here are the posts from the week.

William Price King shares the early successes of Josh Groban who won the hearts of his fans and stormed up the charts within months of his debut album being released.

Paul Andruss our Writer in Residence, with a post on his own blog which is well worth you reading, especially if you are a classical music lover… Frederick Delius

Please head over and read on Paul’s blog:

Carol Taylor took one of our most popular proteins and gave Chicken a makeover in her weekly column.. Thai Basil, Lemon, Jerk seasoning and Tarragon are the stars.

Esme’s Party Piece – Predictions for June

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Billy Ray Chitwood.

Welcome to the Sunday interview and this week my guest is author Billy Ray Chitwood.  Before we find out which of the questions Billy Ray has chosen to respond to including something he lost, his favourite music, Mountains or Beach and his alternative career path.

Personal Stuff..

Odd Jobs and Characters – some of the jobs that were featured in my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. This week, I am  the landlady of a pub at the entrance to Cowes Harbour… Saturday nights the booze cruises would come over from Southampton with interesting results.

Letters from America – July 1985 – and a visit to Hanna Barbara Land with three young children and lilo racing!

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist. – 1972.

Sally’s Cafe and BookstoreNew on the Shelves

Author Update – Reviews

Smorgasbord Short Stories

Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle  Part one and Two.

A group of elderly women have formed a sewing circle that meet regularly. They offer support, friendship and love to each other on an estate that is being plagued by hooligans.

Part One

Part Two

Health Column

The five part digestive system series.

Nutrients the body needs – Vitamin E.

Food in the news – Research is showing that you do need the good carbohydrates that are whole grain and contain essential nutrients.

Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique – Introduction.

A technique used by performers all over the world to improve their posture and open up their lungs and strengthen muscles.

Humour and Afternoon Videos

Smorgasbord Reblog – Writer in Residence – Fred’s Amanuensis #Delius by Paul Andruss


Delius was a genius and composed stunning music.. however his final years were tortured by a disease that lay hidden during his most prolific period. A talented young musician becomes his carer and transcriber of his later works. A fascinating look into the life of one of the classical music greats. ​ Paul Andruss always delivers riveting articles and I hope you will head over to read the entire post.

Fred’s Amanuensis by Paul Andruss

Blind & paralysed Fred Delius

Venereal diseases are named for Venere (Latin for Venus, the Goddess of Love). Of all love’s diseases, syphilis is the most pernicious; even worse than a broken heart. Let’s face it, nobody ever died of the broken heart. Unless by their own hand.

85% of victims are not aware they contracted syphilis. 15% exhibit a painful ulcer in the private parts, which heals after three to six weeks. Four to ten weeks after infection some develop a roseate skin rash. Sometimes it is quite painful. In others it looks like acne. Although this dies away after few weeks, syphilis bacteria proliferate through the body. Between 3 and 15 years later, victims enter the tertiary stage, possibly exhibiting large tumours or if the central nervous system is attacked, symptoms leading to paralysis and blindness.

This is what happened to Frederick Delius.

Fred & Jelka in the back courtyard (Lloyd)

Delius had never earned much as a composer. His wife Jekla had some money that allowed the couple to live comfortably in the artistic enclave of Grez sur Loing, outside Paris. His house is now the country home of a wealthy Parisian. It was here Jelka cared for Delius during the last twelve years of his life.

During Delius’s illness, fans of his music, such as the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (grandson to the Beecham’s Pills fortune –a laxative- and later Beecham’s Powers -a cachet of aspirin and caffeine for colds and rheumatics), financially supported the composer. Beecham also became Delius’s most vociferous champion, presenting his concert works throughout his career, providing a small income in the process.

Beecham conducted 3 of Delius’s operas including A Village Romeo and Juliet from which an orchestral interlude Walk to the Paradise Garden became a favourite.

Please head over and listen to the music of Delius and find out more about his life:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

And the informative and colourful Gardening Column:

Thanks for dropping by today… Sally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview

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

Personal Stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Haiku with image by Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

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

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore author update

Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Reviewers

A celebration of the book reviewers who support authors.

Health column

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

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

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

Humour and afternoon videos