Smorgasbord Short Stories – Onions by Sally Cronin

I felt the need yesterday to write a new story that did not involve Fairy Queens and Irish shenanigans… WIP. And I was also chopping onions for lunch. I must state at this point that this is a work of fiction and my own husband chops his own onions, does not have halitosis and is generous in the extreme…….

Onions by Sally Cronin

Olivia chopped the onion carefully, avoiding the cut on her knuckles from yesterday’s little escapade. She hated cutting onions, having tried every trick in the book to stop herself crying copiously onto the culprits in question. She had popped the handle of a silver spoon in her mouth and clenched it with her teeth, worn her son’s snorkelling mask, cut the onions under water in the sink, and had even frozen them for 20 minutes before attacking them with a very sharp knife. Which is why she now sported a large blue plaster on her ring finger; evidence of its well-honed cutting edge.

You might ask why, with all this discomfort and mutilation, not to mention such an abundance of tears, she continued to cut onions every day. After all, the supermarket had fresh pre-cut onions, and two types of frozen sliced onions, white and red. The answer to this question was currently watching the television in the other room, feet up on the table and awaiting the tray laden with his dinner; and another beer to wash it down with.

She had been married to Gerald for twenty years, and he ventured rarely into the kitchen; except to sometimes dump his tray on the counter, and make a derogatory comment about the lack of flavour. He maintained that his role was to bring in the money that paid the bills, and everything else to do with household management was her department. His only stipulation was that he had to have a fresh onion every day, chopped and neatly piled on the side of his dinner plate, for him to enjoy between mouthfuls. He had read once that this addition to your daily diet staved off every living disease known to man, and he would not be budged. On the one occasion Olivia had bought pre-chopped onions and put them on the side of the plate, he noticed the regularity of the chop and was wise to her ploy in seconds. He then berated her for paying double the price of a whole onion and being too lazy to prepare it for him. The sight of her red eyes and plaster decorated fingers did little to move him, except to comment that she should stop snivelling.

Unfortunately, there was one disease that a fresh onion enhanced rather than prevented and that was halitosis. Gerald was afflicted with this withering condition, and for the entire twenty years of their marriage, Olivia had desperately tried to counteract the effects by buying extra minty toothpaste, putting a pack of polo mints in his lunch box, and trying to track down a source of odourless onions. This was not conducive to romance and added more black marks for her inability to attend to her duties as expected!

You might of course wonder why Olivia was still chopping onions for Gerald after twenty years when it was combined with his misogynistic behaviour. When they had first met, he had been all charm itself, and before she could say that she was not that sort of girl, she became pregnant. He had begrudgingly done the right thing, and apart from their son Peter, they had gone onto to have a beautiful daughter she had named Jennifer. Olivia did not consider herself without blame at being caught up in a loveless marriage. But she loved her children beyond belief and would have walked through fire for them both. And, despite Gerald’s antiquated approach to a wife’s duties, he had been a reasonable, if at times an overly strict father and good provider. She had no money of her own to fall back on, except what she might save from the sparse housekeeping she was allotted. Gerald who managed all the finances, also refused to allow her to go out to work when the children went to school. Her hands were tied but she comforted herself that at least they all had a roof over their heads and food on the table.

But things were different now. Peter had joined the army at eighteen, and after two years had just been posted to Germany where he was happily sampling an active social life. Jennifer had left home last week for college up in Manchester, and was living in a very comfortable student’s hostel. Olivia’s hand stopped its downward movement with the knife and she contemplated its gleaming blade.

The next day, Olivia popped into the newsagents on the corner and picked up one of the national advertising papers for cars, houses and jobs. She had read a copy in the hairdresser a few weeks back, and knew that there were positions for live-in housekeepers all over the country. She had noticed that there were some vacancies not too far from where her daughter would be studying for the next three years. Rather than take the paper home and have its presence questioned, she went around to her best friend Beryl’s, sharing her plan before placing some long-distance calls on her telephone.

With three interviews set up, Olivia contacted her daughter in Manchester and said that she was coming up for a visit to check on how she was settling in. Gerald had yet to dock any money from her weekly housekeeping because of the reduction in mouths to feed, and with a bit of scrimping, she had sufficient for her train fare. She also retrieved the little she had squirreled away over the last few years from the housekeeping; enough to pay for a cheap bed and breakfast for a couple of weeks.

Gerald argued against her trip of course, and was insistent that he was not going to cook his own dinners for the two nights she told him she would be away. He said the girl would be back down in a few weeks anyway at half term, and didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

He flounced into the living room; telling her over his shoulder that he was not going to fork out for the trip so she could think again. He went off to work in the morning, still in a strop, and told her he wanted extra onion that night with his dinner. She watched him go down the path before heading upstairs to unearth her battered suitcase from under the bed. She opened it to double check its contents. It held her smartest clothes, two pairs of good shoes and underwear and night clothes. Not much to show for twenty years she reflected, but she reached out and touched the photographs of her children; the most important items she had packed.

Olivia went around to Gerald’s side of the bed and opened the drawer in his bedside table. She pushed her hand to the back and found his sock containing his winnings. She had known about his stash for some time, knowing that the contents would fluctuate depending on how the horses had run. He had won on Saturday, celebrating with a few pints down the pub and rolling home drunk as a lord. As she liberated two hundred pounds from the sock, she found some satisfaction that he was contributing to her escape plan after all.

With one last glance around the house that still reeked from last night’s onions, Olivia, two days shy of her fortieth birthday, slammed the front door and got into the taxi waiting in the street. At the station she boarded the train for Manchester, and as they got under way, handed over a precious three pounds for a cup of tea and a shortcake biscuit. She smiled at her reflection in the window of the carriage as it sped towards her freedom. Tonight she would explain everything to her daughter and hope that she would understand.

Her son had made his weekly call to her last night before Gerard was due home. Taking a deep breath she had told him what she was about to do. She had cried a little as he spoke his words of encouragement, ending the call with ‘Why did you wait so long mum… I couldn’t wait to get out’.

Anyway, no more tears and no more bloody onions. And she laughed to herself visualising Gerald’s face when he deigned to enter the cold and unlit kitchen to find out what the hell she was up to. Only to find a freshly peeled onion pinned to the chopping board, with a very sharp knife right through the middle of it.


Short story Anthologies

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:


More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping by and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Madonna, Molly Bloom, Easter Treats and Predictions.

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed. This is the scene we woke up to this morning.. after being promised intermittent snow showers….

I donned wellington boots and my ski jacket and stocked up the bird’s food and water supplies and discouraged the flock of crows waiting for breakfast by standing in the snow in bright yellow waving my arms about… with a few expletives to enhance… hopefully the neighbours are still talking to me.

It is now turning to sleet and to rain later today so no lasting chaos… and hopefully the last blast of winter. Only a few days to the Spring equinox and I want to see some colour return to the garden.

Apart from that…it is time to thank my contributors and guests this week for their continued support. And to all of you who are reading this and who have liked, commented and shared the posts. It is so important for the authors that I promote, as it does spread news of their books to so many across social media, and with millions of titles vying for publicity, it is very gratefully received. It is entirely possible that just a click on the Twitter share button can result in the post being seen by 100,000 + potential readers.

If you are currently basking in sunshine… that would be you Carol Taylor and  Debby Gies!!! Then please send some to those of us still freezing out assets off……..

On with this week’s posts…..

The Music Column with William Price King.

William Price King picks up the story in the late 1990s and the iconic music and Madonna’s performance in “Evita”.

Writer in Residence – Last week Paul Andruss posted a follow up – Molly Bloom – to the According to the Muse two part series that explored poetry in all its glory and sometimes misfortune

This week Carol Taylor shares us the recipes for two sweet Easter treats that will please all the family… and getting the children involved in the kitchen produces some creative biscuits.

The Open House Sunday Interview

My guest today is Liesbet Collaert who has a lifestyle that is very different to those of us who rarely stir from our comfort zones, except for the odd couple of weeks holiday.

Let’s find out more about Liesbet before finding out Belgium, her favourite leisure pastimes, the impact of modern technology and the five experiences we should all tick off our bucket list. Liesbet also shares some of her photographs from her travels which will certainly create wanderlust in most of us.

Easter and Spring Celebration Friday 30th March – Monday April 2nd

I would like to invite you to send me a link to a post from your archives that is about Easter or springtime to be posted between Friday 30th March and Monday 2nd April.

Personal Stuff – Letters from America 1985 – 1987

This week a slightly longer letter to my parents, telling them about our trip to New Orleans for Easter 1985.

This week two stone eagles find The Last Emperor, they have been waiting for 500 years for this to occur.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist #Music to get your weekend started.

This week – Mustang Sally and I will Survive…..

New Series – Esme’s Party Piece. – Two week forecast.

Esme.. not her real name but one I rather like…. who used to amuse and astound us, with her party piece of telling fortunes based on the characteristics of our zodiac sign. She had been interested in astrology from an early age but one day discovered a flair for interpreting the signs in a different way.

Posts from Your Archives

John Rieber shares the second travel post in this current series.. I will give you a starter… and let you head over to his blog to finish the post.  I also recommend that you check out his more recent posts.. a great deal on offer. Wine, Roman Ruins and Gigondas! Chateauneuf du Pape! Touring Provence Thanks To Patricia Wells!

I am sure that like Debby Gies, you have a friend who you have known for many years, and who you consider to be your best friend. The one who you shared confidences with, challenges and the ups and downs of life. Debby celebrates her friendship with some poetry…… The Years – Best Friends

me oldie


Robbie Cheadle shares a visit to an historic site in New Zealand with her family. A devastating event buried a village and took the lives of over 150 people. It is also the story of a brave woman called Sophia Hinerangi. A visit to Te Wairoa The Buried Village

It is time for another post from the archives of Billy Ray Chitwood. As someone who has lived a nomadic life as a child with my father’s career in the Royal Navy, and then in the last 38 years of marriage and travelling for work and to live, I can empathise with Billy Ray as he talks about his restless spirit

A warm welcome back to Susanne Swanson of Cats and Trails and Garden Tails who is sharing the second of her posts from her archives. This week a surprise visitor to the garden .. and we all wondered where he had gone! A surprise visitor to the fall garden

Welcome to another of Sarah Zama’s posts from her archives. This week a post from a series that she wrote in 2015 about the start of a new era for women. Apart from the evolving women’s movement for equality, it was also a time for women to adopt a new freer style and fashion. Meet the women of the Flapper era… pioneers. Shameless, Selfish and Honest: the new breed of woman who dominated the XX Century.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New author on the shelves

Author Update.

Smorgasbord Health

Health in News – A new test for prostate cancer with a 90% success rate.

Nutrients we need to be healthy.

We need a wide spectrum of nutrients to be healthy and in this series I go into more detail of what they are, how they are processed in the body and where to find them. Vitamin A or Retinal and Beta Carotene.

Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety Part Two

Last week I gave you a list of the most common essential oils to be found in skincare, massage and for therapeutic use. I would like to continue that today but first a quick word about carrier oils.

This book takes a look at the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging and how a little attitude adjustment goes a long way! Turning Back The Clock – Chapter Six -Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey!!

Turning Back the Clock

Now that we can pick and choose our food to buy rather than gather… it does mean that sometimes we are not getting the right combination of nutrients together to be effective. Some nutrients require other vitamins or minerals to be absorbed by the body and this applies not only to the food that we consume but any supplements that we take.


Thank you again for being a part of the week here on Smorgasbord. I hope you will enjoy the posts you missed and if you feel that you would like to participate in the Open House, Posts from Your Archives or the Cafe and Bookstore then please let me know.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Garden – The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin

In the summer I will be releasing Tales from the Irish Garden.. stories of magic and fantasy. It is the sequel to Tales from the Garden published in 2015 and I am going to share the stories from that collection with you in the next few weeks.

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin

High above the garden, our feathered cousins soar on the updrafts caused by the scorching summer heat on the peaks and valleys of our mountain. They search diligently for their preferred prey which is anything that dares to fly beneath them or scuttle out of the undergrowth in search of food.

Majestically they accomplish what we cannot, and have never been able to. From our place guarding the main entrance into the building that now stands on this ancient site, we watch enviously with our own wings fixed in stone.

We are the last of the stone eagles that have watched over this magical place. The first were made by a slave of the Roman merchant who built his villa on this mountain over eighteen hundred years ago. He and his countrymen had swept across and settled on the now peaceful sunlit Iberian Peninsula after many centuries of war. He supplied olives, figs and grapes to his fellow Romans and delivered casks of wine to the garrison of soldiers in the camp down by the river. He was a rich man with many slaves collected and bartered during the long journey from the coast to this central part of Spain.

For two hundred years the merchant’s family prospered and enjoyed the life so far from their original home. The skill of stone carving was passed down from the original slave to his sons and their grandsons as the seasons rolled through the decades. But then it all changed as the Visigoths invaded from the north and violence once more shattered the peace of the land.

The merchant’s family left and retreated back towards the south and eventually began a new life far away. Slaves were left behind in the panic, but being essential to work the land, were allowed to settle on farms and in small villages. But the stonemason of that time remained in the crumbling ruins of the old villa, and built a modest dwelling where he continued to work and pass on his craft.

Finally his large family scattered across the surrounding area as towns and cities lured them away from the rural life. But always one remained to learn the trade and instruct another to take his place. The very last stonemason who had no sons, crafted us before he died, and as he smoothed our stone wings and hid us within the leafy folds of the boundary hedge, he muttered final words to us.

“Wait for the last Emperor, he will come and find you.”

We waited and the protective hedge grew around us. The stonemason’s humble home crumbled in the heat and snow filled winters, until it too joined the grand remains of the Roman villa beneath the soil.

Finally, fifty years ago, the sound of modern machinery woke us from our sleep and we watched between the large green leaves of the hedge as a new villa emerged in front of us. We heard human voices for the first time in many years and the sound of laughter as children played in the gardens.

But still we waited.

Thirty-five years passed and the children grew and left the home leaving an elderly couple rattling around its vast empty rooms. Soon they too left and all was quiet again.

One bright morning, as we lay in our hiding place, we were startled and shocked by the sudden intrusion of a long canine nose that pushed aside our overgrown covering. We stared into a pair of eyes that sparkled gleefully upon us. From this creature’s mouth came forth a high penetrating noise; enough to awaken even us stone bound creatures. Two human hands reached around the canine and pulled him gently back by his dark purple, imperial collar. They then returned and each one of us was lifted clear of the entwining stalks and leaves and we were placed in the sunlight for the first time in over a hundred years.

I won’t go into the indignity of being cleaned with brush, soap and hot water in places left untouched since our stonemason fashioned us. But finally we were pristine again and placed on our ledge to guard the house as was our duty.

We remembered what our old master had said as he had hidden us from sight. And, within a short time, we knew indeed that the last Emperor had arrived, as he came before us wearing his wreath of office and informed us of his imperial title of Moyhill Royal Flush. We and his courtiers were permitted to call him Sam, but only in private.

Our joy was beyond comprehension as the prophecy was fulfilled and we took pride and delight in guarding our new master. We remained alert over the next many years as our Emperor roamed the grounds on his daily inspection, supervised the garden workers and reigned over his house slaves.

Each night, he would hold court from the front balcony of the villa, listening to his canine subjects in the valley as they recounted the day’s events in his domain. He would wait until they had completed their report and then respond for several minutes, encouraging them to be vigilant and valiant.

He would then wait for his house slaves to bring him ice cubes to cool his parched tongue and platters of his royal repast in the form of chicken gizzards and sweet smelling Basmati rice.

We, as his loyal cohorts were not forgotten. As he passed us each day he would delicately sniff our bodies to check our health, and if he felt we were dehydrated, he would anoint us with his regal blessing.

We treasured our role as his elite royal guard and although, to our great sadness, he has now passed from our sight, we still stand sentry over him today. It is in a place where he can continue to view his great domain and listen to his many canine minions in the valley below. The last emperor has left his mark on this place, on us and on his people and will never be forgotten.

©sallycronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:


More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping by and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Madonna, Hot Cross Buns, Chicken Poop and Houston 1985

Welcome to the weekly round up where I get the chance to say thank you to the contributors to the blog and to also share posts you might have missed.

This week the snow has gradually disappeared, except for mounds that were piled up by the diggers that have remained by the sides of the roads. It looks like that will be the last snow for us this year and I am looking forward to spring which is just around the corner.

This week it was International Women’s Day and as a footnote.. but a large footnote, I want to say a massive thank you to the men in our community who consistently support all of us… whatever our gender.

The Music Column by William Price King – The Madonna Story – Part Three.

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss… Mary, Mary quite contrary, How does your Garden Grow? With liberally spread poop.. of different varieties, but none so effective as that provided by the Chicken….


The Food Column with Carol Taylor..This week Hot Cross Buns… make your own.

The Open House Interview

The guest for today’s Open House interview is Traci Kenworth who does an amazing job sharing links to our blogs and has written an impressive 11 books that she is now hoping to publish.

Personal Stuff

On Thursday I held a virtual coffee morning and there were some great comments and links to other blogs featuring posts in tribute to the day. The main focus of my post was on the increasing levels of domestic violence in the UK that results in TWO women a week dying.

Letters from America 1985-1987 – this week getting to know our neighbours and introducing them to our version of Spaghetti Bolognese and Irish Jokes.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist.. this week nostalgia for the musicals – South Pacific and The King and I

Tales from The Garden – Serialisation – The Sanctuary.

I am sharing my short stories from Tales from the Garden in the run up to the release of Tales from the Irish Garden in the summer. This week an imminent birth and a pack of wild dogs lead a stranger to the Magic Garden.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update

Thomas the Rhymer


Posts from your Archives

Travel Writer John Rieber shares a memorable trip to Barcelona and a ride on the overhead cable network that provides a birds eye view of this beautiful city.

barcelona from tram

D.G. Kaye with her exploration the corrosive form of bullying.. verbal abuse that aims to break the spirit and claim dominance.

A warm welcome to Susanne Swanson of Cats and Trails and Garden Tails who is sharing four posts from her archives. The first is a trip down memory lane to a house where Susanne lived and the creek where she and her friends played together. Many aspects of the environment have now changed and from a conservation perspective for the better.. but what about those memories?

Welcome to the second of the archive posts from Billy Ray Chitwood.. This week Billy explores our perception of ‘Soul’.

Sarah Zama shares another post from her archives and this week although slightly out of season.. she explores the spooky which to be honest is good anytime of year. Devil and the Arena of Verona

Arena of Verona - Piazza Bra


Things you might not have known were added in the processing of cheese!

The new Aromatherapy series continues with the first part of a list of the most common essential oils used for skincare, bath and massage.

A guest post from Brigid Gallagher about her diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the long road to recovery. Brigid shares the alternative health therapy and strategies that help live as full a life as possible.

The next chapter in the series Turning Back the Clock.. a natural anti-aging programme. This week are you breathing efficiently?

It is so important to keep a record of your own prescription drugs and those of your children and elderly relatives. Also a record of past illnesses that might have a bearing on your current diagnosis.

The latest news on the PSA test for Prostate Cancer and concerns that it is leading to unnecessary surgery and other treatment that results in long term side-effects.


Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Garden – The Sanctuary by Sally Cronin

In the summer I will be releasing Tales from the Irish Garden.. stories of magic and fantasy. It is the sequel to Tales from the Garden published in 2015 and I am going to share the stories from that collection with you in the next few weeks.

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

Tales from the Garden – The Sanctuary by Sally Cronin

Yesterday, as I wandered amongst the stunted bushes on the side of the mountain searching for food, I felt the first stirrings in my swollen belly. I had not realised that it was so close and despite being my first, I instinctively knew that I needed to find a safe place to bring this new life into the world.

In the distance I could see the herd of goats pulling at dry and thorny bushes that dotted the arid earth. I spent my nights mingling amongst them, taking advantage of their strong scent that masked my own. They also provided safety as they were protected by the massive guard dogs from the predators of the night. Even the wild boars who feared neither man nor beast kept their distance when they saw these deceptively gentle giants.
More dangerous were the stray dogs that patrolled this rocky hillside in search of the unwary. But they too would scuttle away into the dark, with their tails between their legs and ears laid flat against their heads, at the warning growls that issued from deep within massive chests.

I had wandered far from the herd of goats in search of nourishing shoots for myself and my unborn fawn. I knew that even if I did return that they too would be scattered across the hillside taking advantage of the daylight hours. I was too exposed here and needed to find a safe place away from prying eyes as soon as possible.

I sniffed the air. A sickly feral smell filled my delicate nostrils and I could hear the sound of a large mass moving through the bushes towards me. It was the pack of stray dogs emboldened by the lack of night-time protectors. They could smell that my time was near.

Despite the increasing movements in my belly I began to run and leap over small bushes away from the vile scent.

Petrified, I could hear the baying of the hounds in ecstatic and full pursuit.

I zig-zagged across the hillside dropping lower towards the houses in the distance. I skidded to an abrupt stop as I met the edge of the open ground and a metal wire fence blocked my path.

Desperately I looked around me as I heard the pack behind me closing in. I ran along the fence which was too high for me to jump and seemed to stretch for miles in each direction. The excited barking and the sounds of the pack thrilled by the chase were getting closer by the minute and I knew that I was trapped.

Suddenly I saw a small break in the wire mesh a few feet away and on the other side were bushes and the sound of running water… I pushed my nose through followed by my ears and shoulders. It was a tight fit and the edges of the wires cut into my tender and swollen body. Finally I was through and I moved quickly into the safety of the undergrowth risking a look behind me at the dogs as they raced into view.

It wouldn’t take them long to find the cut in the fence and even though it was small they would persist and barge through and find me. There was no time to stop now despite the growing urgency to push my baby out into this dangerous world. Once through the undergrowth I found a small stream which I crossed in the hopes that the dogs would lose my scent. Up ahead was a paved road leading to a large dwelling, and despite my fear of men and guns, I knew I had no choice but to try and find sanctuary within its grounds.

A smelly and noisy man made machine entered the opening in the walls and I followed hugging the hedge to avoid being seen. I heard a grating noise behind me and turned in panic to find a large black object moving across the hole in the wall. Terrified I looked around for humans but the monster had disappeared inside a large door in the side of the building. Except for the distant sounds of the searching dogs it was quiet.

With a final jolting pain my fawn announced its imminent arrival. Desperately I searched my surroundings for some form of shelter. I saw ahead of me two large silent and still guardians who looked like those that protected the goat flock at night. I rushed towards them and saw that the hedge beneath them contained a hollow lined with earth that was just the right size to hide within and bring my young into the world.

The sound of barking died down as the pack of dogs moved away, disgruntled at having lost its prey. I could hold on no longer and as my heart calmed and my breathing slowed my baby was born.

It has been several days and as my new guardians stand watch over my baby, I wander through the lush garden enjoying the watered and abundant green grass and the delicate shoots of the hedges.

The humans who live here have seen me but have not approached and they let me wander safely with my fawn; smiling down at me from the balcony.

For the first time in my life I am not afraid and although at night I miss my strong smelling companions, I have found a sanctuary.

As I lie here in the evening sun with my fawn by my side content and filled with milk, I believe that I might stay here forever in safety, beneath the gaze of my silent guardians.

©sallycronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:


More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping by and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Snowed in with Madonna, Muses, Snake Fruit and special guests.

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts that you might have missed. The weather here, like most of the UK and Europe has been enjoyed a classic clash between two titans of weather. The Beast from the East with arctic temperatures vs. Storm Emma sweeping up from Portugal with warm winds that created massive snow fall.

Even my stone eagle that travelled with us from the warmer climes of Spain was less that impressed with the weather..

The good news is that we are now back to our own special kind of weather..rain.. and plenty of it which is melting the snow and hopefully by tomorrow we will be able to get out of our drive without having to shovel our way through. In the early days of the bad weather I put additional food out for our garden birds (I call them ours, but of course they are totally unfaithful and visit feeders up and down the road). Fat balls were the favourites and even when thrown into the snow they were eagerly consumed. The day before yesterday we looked out the kitchen window to find all these little bums sticking up in the air as starlings, blackbirds and sparrows sheltered in little pockets as they happily pecked away at the fat.

In the freezing and windy run up to the snow I was  filling up the drinking bowl each day with warm water. We discovered that the starlings are made of sterner stuff than the rest of us as they took communal baths (and no doubt added to the mineral content with their own contributions) and then preened themselves in the hedges waving around in the freezing wind.

Anyway….. as always my gratitude to the contributors who battled through the snow to deliver their columns and posts…. and to all of you who braved the elements to visit, like and comment. You are very welcome and I hope you will come back again soon.

The William Price King Music Column. Part two of the Madonna story.

Madonna is a multi-faceted artist and social activist, no stranger to controversy, but who has always been true to the image that she created as a teenager and young performer.

Writer in residence Paul Andruss continues his exploration of poetry ancient and modern with a conversation between the Muse and the Pilgrim.  This is part two, with a link to the first part.

Carol Taylor treats us to the origins and recipes for some of the exotic fruits in her backyard.. or markets of her home in Thailand. Many are available in our own supermarkets and certainly a dessert made with snake fruit would liven up any dinner party….

The Open House Sunday Interview with guest Romanian economist and author Marina Costa

Personal Stuff.

A post on how you can promote your blog and writing here on Smorgasbord and the various watering holes where we can meet up.

At this time of year (especially with blizzards and freezing winds) our thoughts turn to booking our summer holidays. But there are a few things to think about. Just who are you telling about your absence for a couple of weeks on social media? If you are broken into during your holiday, the insurance company will be exploring your posts too to see who you have told!  Also should you suffer a bereavement and making public announcements in the newspapers about funeral arrangements… is someone house sitting?

Next Thursday I am inviting you to a virtual Coffee Morning in honour of International Women’s Day on March 8th. I will be sharing some of the quotes of women and men that I admire; who have made a difference to our world in terms of empowerment or inspiration. I would love you to join me with your own favourite quote and also your views on the subject of gender equality.

I am sharing my thoughts today on two separate gender issues, the first being the #MeToo campaign which has been stripping the entertainment industry of its glitter recently… You may not agree with all my observations but that is part of the dialogue needed to create change. The second is the bravery and commitment to change shown by women in Saudi Arabia to obtain the right to something most of us take for granted.

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – my weekly letters to my parents sharing our adventures in Houston and travels around America.

This week a trip to Corpus Christi… encounters on the beach in the moonlight – and getting lost in translation.

My review by the latest book by Historical novelist Tony Riches – Mary: Tudor Princess.

Smorgasbord short stories – You are never too old to be loved!

This story first appeared on Sue Vincent’s blog at Christmas. I hope you enjoy if reading for the first time…Jack is incarcerated in an elderly care home and is resigned to spending the rest of his life without purpose.. until……..

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – Billy Joel and Anne Murray.

I share my memories of some of my most interesting musical memories and this week, we chose to celebrate a new job with a stay over at one of Liverpool’s premier hotels for a dinner dance.. only for most of the diners to leave hurriedly, leaving just us and the band.

In the summer I will be releasing Tales from the Irish Garden.. stories of magic and fantasy. It is the sequel to Tales from the Garden published in 2015 and I am going to share the stories from that collection with you in the next few weeks.

Chapter One – The Head Guardians of the Magic Garden.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – News from the talented authors in the bookstore on new releases and recent reviews.

Posts from Your Archives – Early blogging posts shared with a new audience.

Billy Ray Chitwood with the first of his archive posts. Today Billy is nostalgic for the music of his hell-raising years, when stars such as Frank Sinatra and Kay Starr made a highball taste better…


The Health Column

New Series.. Inspirational stories of overcoming the challenges of chronic illness or life changing disease. This week Cynthia Reyes shares her story of her long road to recovery following traumatic injuries sustained in a car accident. Guest writers are very welcome and details are in the post.

Hydrogenated Fats in our diet and how to avoid them.

In the last few years there has been a complete reversal by governments and experts on how much fat and carbohydrates we should be eating. The information and advice is often confusing but research is definitely coming down on the side of good fats.. and that we should be including enough of them in our diet to keep us mentally and physically well.

The good fats, Essential Fatty Acids and how to get the right balance.


A new series for The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils. I took a course twenty years ago so that I could advise my customers and clients in my health food and dietary services clinic.

Turning Back the Clock – serialisation of my anti-aging book.

This week.. our immune system and how we leave the door open to opportunistic squatters who can damage our health for life.



Afternoon Video – the generosity of a crow towards a rodent friend.

Headlines that prove that fact can be stranger than fiction…..

Afternoon video – sign me up….

Afternoon Video – this Jack Russell has a jazz soul.



Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Garden – The Head Guardians of the Magic Garden by Sally Cronin

In the summer I will be releasing Tales from the Irish Garden.. stories of magic and fantasy. It is the sequel to Tales from the Garden published in 2015 and I am going to share the stories from that collection with you in the next few weeks.

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.


Chapter 1 – The Head Guardians of the Magic Garden

We have stood guard for fifty years over this house and the people who have lived here. Protecting the land and our masters against unwanted intrusions in scorching sunlight and bitter cold snow. The world has changed outside these walls with dictators passing on to make way for kings. But that is not our concern, as it is the safety of this place that is our responsibility.

Through many seasons we have watched young children play in front of us with their dog companions. We have observed the young humans mature and grow to adulthood before leaving through the black gate that leads to the outside world. And we have seen their canine companions grow stiff with age and sheltered them as they rested in the shade we cast.

For the last five decades we have observed the man who trims the evergreen hedge that surrounds us. We have watched him change from a vital young man to the weather-worn 82-year-old who still sweeps his brush around our feet. If we could see our own reflections we know we would also show the effects of all these years with our faces to the sun and wind.

We have not seen him this past hot summer. His weary bones could no longer hold him erect as he carried his tools and watered the expanse of grass. He decided one spring morning that he would retire to his nearby home and enjoy his plants on his balcony. As he left through the big black gate, he turned and looked at us as we stood with unseen stone tears upon our cheeks.

He saluted and smiled in acknowledgement and to remind us that we must continue to protect the garden on his behalf.

The gnarled branches of the green plinth that sits beneath us also bears the scars of time but each year it sustains its vigour. Determined, as we are, to stand firm against the elements. It too has sheltered our canine subordinates, who it should be recognised, have bravely defended the territory with us against postmen, undisciplined squirrels and disrespectful feral felines.

We rarely feel the touch of a human hand; although the lady of the house will occasionally rest hers upon our heads in passing. It is recognition enough and we are happy that our role as guardians of this house and its people is acknowledged and appreciated.

As well as the trees, plants and wildlife in this magic garden, we are the head guardians of all the other stone inhabitants who have important roles to play. Eagles, rabbits and monkeys have found their way here over hundreds of years as well as animals who have sought sanctuary within its surrounding hedges.

We are not however the rulers of the garden. Beneath the old magnolia tree, within the roots, is the fairy kingdom of Magia, which is home to the reigning King and Queen. It is our job to ensure that this realm is protected and that enemies, who seek to destroy the peace we enjoy, are dealt with swiftly.

The humans who have occupied the houses that have stood in these grounds see only statues and an old gnarled tree that blooms once a year. What they do not know is that when they lie asleep, sprinkled with fairy dust, the garden comes alive. Fairies fly out into the scented night air, statues come to life and dance in the dappled moonlight and we the guardians patrol the borders to ensure their secrets are kept from the outside world.

But, once every 500 years, some very special people are allowed a glimpse into our world. As your guides we will now tell you the stories of the inhabitants of this magic world. Close your eyes and climb upon our backs as we travel through time and imagination.

©Sally Cronin 2015 Tales from the Garden.

I hope you have enjoyed the start to the Tales from the Garden. Thanks Sally

Other short story anthologies.

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Thank you for dropping by and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Music, Food and Spring Bulbs with Guests and Humour.

Many thanks for dropping in today to catch up on posts that you might have missed during the week. I am in full on ‘Going on a break’ mode, busily scheduling the Blog Sitting posts contributed by some of your favourite writers. The Blog Sitting begins on February 15th through to Tuesday 20th and I am sure that you will be right royally entertained.. I know I was when I read the posts.

Because I will be working my fingers to the bone…. aahh.. I am going to get you in the mood my sharing some of the Blog Sitting posts from this time last year. They are too good not to be shared and allows me to work out what I can pack in my carry on!

When I went to book my ticket it turned out that a checked bag was going to cost me £40 each way. They are small planes flown by this regional airline and clearly they wish to discourage their customers from taking 15 changes of clothing.

Does anyone else take their seat with trepidation, wondering if this time the seat belt will not meet around their middle?  With visions of having to hold your hand up and request an extension?

The other thing that miffs me is the clear plastic bag that announces to the world all your toiletry requirements. Long gone are the days when I could throw a lipstick and a bit of moisturiser in the bag. Now I have all sorts of ungents required to get me through 24 hours let alone 5 days and some of which I do not wish to publicize. So I have prepared a jiffy bag of tail ends of all my moisturisers, plumpers, wrinkle smoothers, toothpaste, Vitamin D Spray, Multi-vitamin Spray, Magnesium oil, gum soothers, Volterol joint gel, silver water, antiseptic handbag size hand sanitizer and some unmentionables. There is also the fact that these will add weight to my carry on which is restricted to 10k between two bags of specific measurements.

So they are now cling-film wrapped for spillage, bubble wrapped for breakage and in a Jiffy bag that is going to cost me £5 to post to my sisters to await my return. I will leave what is left there for my next visit. Simplzk.

Courtesy of Meerkat Youtube Channel

I have also worked out my wardrobe requirements and with the cunning use of small ziplock bags I can get enough in my rucksack for three different outfits and will make full use of my sister’s washing machine.

During the time I am away my guests will be in charge of their posts and responding to comments but since I will only be around once or twice I hope I can rely on you to help out by sharing the posts.. that would be fantastic thank you.

Now on to the posts from the week and as usual I must thank the amazing contributors who work so tirelessly each week to provide you with fantastic posts.. This week William Price King – Music Column, Carol Taylor – Food Column and Paul Andruss – Gardening Column. All of them would love to answer your questions on their areas of expertise.

The Music Column with William Price King

U2 has one of the most impressive catalogues of awards of any of the groups in the last forty years. Apart from 170 million + records sold world wide, the group has also won an impressive number of industry accolades. In this final post in their series William brings up bang up to date.

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss

Welcome to the second of Paul’s Gardening posts and you will discover that not only is Paul Andruss is an exceptional writer, he also has a very great knowledge of plants. This week bulbs that blossom into brilliant colour in the spring garden – Light up your life with brilliant bulbs –  Part 1: Early Spring Bulbs

The Food Column with Carol Taylor – The wonder tree…Jack Fruit!

This week Carol talks us through the preparation of this exotic fruit that takes some time, but produces some delicious savoury and sweet dishes.

Smorgasbord Saturday meet and Greet

This week a look at some recommended author services from Proofreader Wendy Janes, Translations from Olga Nunez Miret and illustrations from Donata Zawadzka. Plus some great posts from bloggers in the comments.

Smorgasborg Open House Interview

My guest today on the Open House is supernatural/paranormal author of The Herbert West Series, Audrey Driscoll.

Personal Stuff- Short Story – Great Aunt Georgina

A bit of fiction for you. A short story I wrote over 30 years ago that got mixed up with my Letters from America file. I wrote several stories when we lived in Houston in the mid 1980s and I have also found a couple of poems…. Anyway I hope you enjoy.

Letters from America 1985-1987

Last week I shared our experiences as we arrived in Houston in the first week of February and faced the challenges of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, extra large portions in restaurants and the search for a more permanent place to live.

The Driving Test!

At the same time as I was writing my weekly letters home to my parents, I was also writing articles on various events that took place or about places we visited. I wrote this piece about the dreaded driving test that we had to take to enable us to buy a car and get insured.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist

This week some ZZ Top…. and Tina Turner. They are my go to musicians when I need to reboot. Got me Under Pressure and On Silent Wings by Tina Turner.. do the trick.


Posts from Your Archives

Debby Gies with words of wisdom on the subject of making every day count, including treating yourself to a pair of shoes… or anything else that brings you pleasure… because life is too short.

Today a chance to tiptoe through the tulips courtesy of Darlene Foster.. Since it brings us all some much needed signs of spring I am going to feature all of the photographs. I am sure you will enjoy as much as I have. Tiptoeing Through the Tulips at Keukenhof by Darlene Foster


This week Janet Gogerty explores the various writing muses that some authors appear to have time to walk, groom and pamper……Llamas and Labradoodles by Janet Gogerty

Here is a post from the archives of Jan Sikes from 2016.. when she turned 65.  Very appropriate as I will be too in a couple of weeks… will be interesting to compare notes. What I Have Learned #65 by Jan Sikes

Geoff Le Pard who joins us with his four posts from his archives. In this post Geoff explores the changing face and religion of the East End of London and in particular the various guises one building has adopted over the centuries. Upcycling buildings: if only it was as easy with people by Geoff Le Pard

Delighted to share another wonderful post from pre-school teacher Jennie Fitzkee. This week the joys and benefits of reading aloud for both child and teacher…or parent.

Welcome to the last in the series from the archives of Lori Bonati-Phillips who shares one of her experiences as a school psychologist, where Joni Mitchell and and Cosmos makes a world of difference to a young man.

Chris is a massive supporter of writers and his guest posts are very popular and widely read. Jo Robinson is an author who has been a very welcome visitor to this blog since it began in 2013 and Chris is sharing one of her very informative posts on social media. I will share some of her work, including her illustrations, after this article on Twitter.

Last week Elizabeth LLoyd shared her mother Betty’s diary entries for her her last weeks in Brussels towards the end of the war. In this final post Betty heads to Germany at the end of 1945.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update

Smorgasbord Health Column

Those of you who are regulars to my health posts will know that I am passionate about communicating the fact that those of us living in northern climates with limited sun exposure are at a risk of Vitamin D deficiency. This is more so for children who spend less time than ever outdoors playing in sunlight or even daylight. In this post the latest research linking a deficiency to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

On Monday I outlined the basics of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and today a look at some of the nutrients that your intestine needs to work efficiently and also some of the triggers for the condition.

I posted on pre-diabetes two years ago, but the latest statistics are in and they make for very worrying reading. It is estimated that there are 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic and are at very high risk of developing full blown diabetes. CDC January 2018


The Afternoon Video

Thanks very much for dropping in today and everyday.. it is much appreciated. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Great-Aunt Georgina by Sally Cronin

When I was sorting through my letters from America 1985-1987, which is a new series here on the blog, I discovered some handwritten articles I planned to publish and also some fiction, and this is a short story that I had completely forgotten about. Finally after 30 years it gets to see the light of day.

Short Story – Great Aunt Georgina by Sally Cronin

When I was a child, Saturday afternoon was always reserved for tea at my grandmother’s house. We only lived two streets away from her home, and rain or shine, my parents and I would walk down Sidney street where we lived, and up Craig street to the small cottage where Gran had lived for over 50 years.

We would stand outside and wait for the black door to open; stepping across the polished doorstep, into the dark little hall. Gran would take our coats, and with hugs and smiles, beckon us into the neat best room, where we always had tea. In all the years that we visited on Saturday afternoons, the fare was always the same, cucumber sandwiches without crusts, and a home-made Victoria sponge, with two cups of tea.

I would sit quietly as a child; listening while the adults exchanged news and gossip. My parents firmly believed in the old adage that children should be seen and not heard. Sometimes I think that they forgot that I was listening with rapt attention, and I discovered a great deal about members of the family and neighbours; some of which was not entirely suitable for my ears.

After tea it was my time; I would snuggle up to my grandmother, and we would go through her time-worn photograph albums, their covers slick from loving attention. I was fascinated by the photographs of people long dead, brown curling prints of stern faced women, and men with starched collars and waxed moustaches. Gran believed that I should know all about my family, pointing to each person in turn, reciting their history and relationship to me every Saturday.

‘That is your great uncle Jack.’ She would say grimly. ‘He never did an honest day’s work in his life.’

‘That was his son Earnest,’ she would point at the photograph of a handsome young man. For a moment she would stare into space as if she was back there again, over fifty years ago, young and beautiful, flirting with her dark-haired cousin.

By the time I was ten years old, I knew most of my grandmother’s family as well as if I had met them personally. As I grew older, I also became more inquisitive, and interrogated Gran at every opportunity. Amongst the earlier pictures, there was a very pretty young girl who reminded me very much of my mother. She was usually with my grandmother or in a family group. I was surprised that she was the only person that was never mentioned in our trips down memory lane. One day, emboldened by an extra piece of cake for tea, and my grandmother’s obvious good humour, I ventured to ask her about the mysterious girl.

‘Who is that pretty girl Gran?’ I asked with my finger firmly pressed to a photograph where my unknown relative sat on a high backed chair.

It was as if a shutter had come down over her face. Gran’s fist clenched and abruptly she took my hand away from the album and closed it with a snap.

‘My sister Georgina.’ She looked across to my mother who was busy discussing something with my father and turned back to me.

‘She died when she was twenty-three.’ With that she rose and started to clear away the tea tray and started talking about Mrs Green, two doors down, who had just lost her old tabby cat.

Not wanting to upset my grandmother, I never asked about her sister again, and over the years, I forgot about the smiling pretty face, that had so fascinated me as a child.

My parents have been married for nearly ten years before I was born in 1950, and my mother had never enjoyed good health. She died when I was twenty and a year later my father remarried. I didn’t really feel very comfortable in my stepmother’s presence, and as several objections were raised to me living alone, I moved in with my grandmother who was now well over 80 years old. It served two purposes, one I was very near to the solicitor’s office where I had worked as a secretary for two years, and more importantly, I was company for Gran, who although very active for her age, was becoming a little forgetful.

I enjoyed the next year; I met several new friends through work, and very often on Saturday afternoons, they would come over for cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge, bringing back happy memories of my childhood. My grandmother had a new audience for her stories and despite hearing them all before, it was wonderful to see her face light up as she shared her memories.

I was devastated when just before her 82nd birthday, grandmother died peacefully in her sleep. When her will was read, I found out that I had been left her cottage and all its contents including all her treasured photograph albums. I was only twenty-two and a financially independent woman; something I had not expected. It enabled me to consider some exciting options for the future, but one of my first tasks was to sort through all my grandmother’s belongings. I needed to decide what I should keep and what could be given away to the charity shop in the high street.

Besides odd pieces of old furniture, there were several boxes in the attic that needed to be sorted, and one rainy Sunday afternoon, I decided to get the dusty task over with. Most of the boxes contained old clothes that obviously Gran either felt would come back into fashion, or more likely, had been packed away and forgotten about. The last box that I opened also contained clothes, but they were baby and young toddler outfits. I assumed that these must have been my mother’s and I put them to one side as they were still in perfect condition. At the bottom of the box was a pillowcase that appeared to contain something bulky.

I lifted the package out and unwrapped the material to find a bundle of letters. They were tied with a pink ribbon and were yellowed with age, crumbling at the edges. Forgetting the pile of clothes on the floor, I carefully went down the ladder to the landing, clasping my precious discovery gently in case the letters disintegrated further. I made myself a pot of tea and sat down excited about what I might discover.

All the letters were addressed to my grandmother and I carefully opened the top envelope. As I read that first letter and then the remaining five, I became more and more saddened by their contents.

Dear Elizabeth,

I know you will find it very difficult to forgive us for what we have done. When you and Donald announced your engagement, I realised how much I loved him. I was very jealous and unhappy. He was so exciting and handsome, always laughing. I could not bear to see you so happy together. We never meant to hurt you dear Elizabeth, it just happened one day when you where out with Mama, shopping for your trousseau, we looked at each other and well you know what happened next.

I am very sorry that we hurt you so much. I hope one day you will be able to forgive us.

We are to be married soon and we shall be at the above address for some months.

Please write and tell me you understand. I do love you so.

Your loving sister Georgina.


Dearest Elizabeth,

It is over six months since I last wrote and you have not replied. I know you must find it very difficult to forgive us for the hurt we caused you, mama and papa. We are now married and I am to have a baby. Donald travels a great deal with his work and I am very lonely.

I miss you Elizabeth, please write to me and let us be close sisters again. I could not bear the thought of never seeing you again.

We have moved to a new address. Please write soon.

Lovingly Georgina.


Dear Elizabeth,

Our daughter Sarah was born a week ago. She is very sweet and I love her very much. She reminds me so much of you and has your beautiful eyes.

We have had to move again as Donald lost his job and took another as a travelling salesman. I realise now that you cannot find it in your heart to forgive me for taking Donald from you. I do understand.

I am paying for the hurt I caused you. I am so miserable. Please Elizabeth forgive me.

Lovingly Georgina.


Dear Elizabeth,

I saw in the local paper that you were married. I hope that you will be very happy and that now you have found another love, that you can at last forgive me. Sarah is now six months old and the prettiest baby you have ever seen. I would love for you to meet her.

Donald is away a great deal, and I could easily come over to see you, especially as your husband is a soldier and likely to be sent away in this dreadful war.

Please Elizabeth, write and say yes.

Your loving Georgina.


Dear Elizabeth,

I am so sorry that I missed you when I called at the house last week. Mrs Baxter next door told me that your husband was killed. I am devastated for you and would like to call and see you. To try and comfort you like when we were children. Do you remember how close we were?

Please darling Elizabeth, let us forget the past, I need to see you desperately.

Love Georgina.


Dearest Elizabeth,

Your letter arrived this morning, telling me that at last you had forgiven me. You will never know how happy that has made me.

My neighbour Mrs. Johnson is writing this letter for me. I am afraid that I have been very ill and the doctor has told me I  will not recover. When the time comes Mrs Johnson will bring you this letter and my beloved Sarah.

Elizabeth, please take care of her.

Donald has left me for another woman, and I am all alone. All that wasted heartbreak that I caused you has found its way back to me as it should.

At least I have had the joy of my daughter and I know that you will love her as your own. She is a year old and will not remember me, I would wish that she always think of you as her mother, she is my gift to you.

I am sorry this letter is so brief and abrupt, but I am very tired. I love you Elizabeth, I wish I could have seen you one more time.

Your ever loving sister Georgina.


As I finished the last letter I lay my head on my arms and cried. Tears for the grandmother I had never known except as a pretty young girl in a photograph. For my mother who had never known the truth, and for the woman who had found it so hard to forgive until it was too late. She had fulfilled her sister’s dying wish and brought up Sarah as her own with love and kindness; extending that love to me as her granddaughter.

For sixty years she must have carried the burden and sadness with her. I wish I could see her just once more, so that I could have told her that I knew the truth and still loved her very much.

I hope that somewhere Elizabeth and Georgina are together again, looking as they did those many years ago, young, beautiful and happy.

©SallyCronin 2018

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this short story and looking forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Stuck for a name for your characters. Look no further than your own family tree.



Stuck for a name for your characters. Look no further than your own family tree.

One of the problems with writing short stories and also novels with a cast of thousands is trying to find original last names for your characters.

First names are a different issue as you have to choose names that reflect the time you are writing about. I doubt there were many girls given the names Sharon and Tracy in the 1500s or Darren and North!

However, most surnames have a long and illustrious history and go back hundreds of years and one of the places that is a treasure trove of names to use in your writing, is in your family tree.

I researched my own for both maternal and paternal lines over ten years ago, and because there was little actual history attached to the names you find, I decided to research the names origins too. It is not essential but quite useful to know where the names originate so that if you have characters that come from different parts of the country you can assign them a name that would be in keeping with the area.

Whilst I know that it is a huge undertaking to research a complete family tree it is well worth going back at least 100 years. You only have to go back as far as your great grandparents to find several names that you can use. As well as a wonderful source of names for your characters, if you are really fortunate, your parents and grandparents might be able to give you stories on the more recent family members that will give you the basis for your character backgrounds.

Just a word on that… Not a good idea to base your characters on those family members still living who might object to having their secrets shared so openly in your latest novel. But if you have an interesting ancestor from the 1900s or earlier, then the chances are you won’t be sued.

So here is the treasure trove of names from my direct line through my father back to 1490. No doubt if you read some of my stories or novels in future years you may meet one or two of them again!


Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Clumháin ‘descendant of Clumhán’, a personal name from the diminutive of clúmh ‘down’, ‘feathers’.
English: occupational name for a burner of charcoal or a gatherer of coal, Middle English coleman, from Old English col ‘(char)coal’ + mann ‘man’.

Cliff / Cliffe
English: habitational name from a place named with Old English clif ‘slope’, ‘bank’, ‘cliff’, or a topographic name from the same word. The Old English word was used not only in the sense of modern English cliff but also of much gentler slopes and frequently also of a riverbank.

English: topographic name for someone who lived near a chapel, from Middle English chapel(l)e ‘chapel’, via Old French, from Late Latin capella, originally a diminutive of capa ‘hood’, ‘cloak’, but later transferred to the sense ‘chapel’, ‘sanctuary’, with reference to the shrine at Tours where the cloak of St. Martin was preserved as a relic.

nickname for someone with white or fair hair, from Middle English whit ‘white’ + lock ‘tress’, ‘curl’. Old English personal name composed of the elements wiht ‘creature’, ‘demon’ + lac ‘play’, ‘sport’.

Scottish and English: topographic name for someone who lived near a mill, Middle English mille, milne (Old English myl(e)n, from Latin molina, a derivative of molere ‘to grind’). It was usually in effect an occupational name for a worker at a mill or for the miller himself. The mill, whether powered by water, wind, or (occasionally) animals, was an important center in every medieval settlement; it was normally operated by an agent of the local landowner, and individual peasants were compelled to come to him to have their grain ground into flour, a proportion of the ground grain being kept by the miller by way of payment.

Seller /Sellers
English and Scottish: topographic name, a variant of Sell.
English and Scottish: occupational name for a saddler, from Anglo-Norman French seller (Old French sellier, Latin sellarius, a derivative of sella ‘seat’, ‘saddle’).
English and Scottish: metonymic occupational name for someone employed in the cellars of a great house or monastery, from Anglo-Norman French celler ‘cellar’ (Old French cellier), or a reduction of the Middle English agent derivative cellerer.
English and Scottish: occupational name for a tradesman or merchant, from an agent derivative of Middle English sell(en) ‘to sell’ (Old English sellan ‘to hand over, deliver’).

English, Scottish, and northern Irish: patronymic from Jack

English and French: nickname from Middle English, Old French prince (Latin princeps), presumably denoting someone who behaved in a regal manner or who had won the title in some contest of skill.

English (chiefly Leicestershire): variant of Hubert

German, Dutch, English, French, and Jewish (Ashkenazic): from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements hug ‘heart’, ‘mind’, ‘spirit’ + berht ‘bright’, ‘famous’. The name was borne by an 8th-century bishop of Maastricht who was adopted as the patron of hunters, and helped to increase the popularity of the personal name, especially in the Low Countries.

English (Lancashire) and Scottish: habitational name from any of various places so called. Most, including those in Cambridgeshire (formerly Huntingdonshire), Cleveland, Derbyshire, and Shropshire, get the name from Old English hyll ‘hill’ + tun ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’. Others, including those in Cumbria and Dorsetshire, have early forms in Hel- and probably have as their first element Old English hielde ‘slope’ or possibly helde ‘tansy’.
English: some early examples such as Ralph filius Hilton (Yorkshire 1219) point to occasional derivation from a personal name, possibly a Norman name Hildun, composed of the Germanic elements hild ‘strife’, ‘battle’ + hun ‘bear cub’. The English surname is present in Ireland (mostly taken to Ulster in the early 17th century, though recorded earlier in Dublin).

English: from Anglo-Norman French gerner ‘granary’ (Old French grenier, from Late Latin granarium, a derivative of granum ‘grain’). It may have been a topographic name for someone who lived near a barn or granary, or a metonymic occupational name for someone in charge of the stores kept in a granary.
English: variant of Warner, from a central Old French form.
English: reduced form of Gardener.

English: variant spelling of Bolton.

English: habitational name from any of the numerous places in northern England named Bolton, especially the one in Lancashire, from Old English boðl ‘dwelling’, ‘house’‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’.

Possibly a habitational name from Mundford in Norfolk

French and English (of Norman origin): habitational name from any of the numerous places called Montfort, from Old French mont ‘hill’ + fort ‘strong’, ‘impregnable’ (Latin fortis). A Norman bearer of this name, from Montfort-sur-Risle in Eure, near Brionne, accompanied William the Conqueror in his invasion of England in 1066.

English, Scottish, and northern Irish: occupational name for a maker of machinery, mostly in wood, of any of a wide range of kinds, from Old English wyrhta, wryhta ‘craftsman’ (a derivative of wyrcan ‘to work or make’). The term is found in various combinations (for example, Cartwright and Wainwright), but when used in isolation it generally referred to a builder of windmills or watermills.

I used a number of resources to find out the origins of these names and here are some links that might help you.

Have fun.. and thanks for dropping in today. Sally