Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up – 14th – 20th March 2021 – Tom Jones, Egg Boxes, Poetry, Stories, Reviews and Funnies


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

I hope you are doing well.. lots going on in the world as usual, and Europe in particular appears to be struggling to contain Covid with many countries seeing a new wave forming. Unfortunately, as in the case of Paris.. giving the population even a few hours notice means that millions pack up and leave for rural areas.. but if it is a hotbed of infection that   increases the spread of the disease further across the country. I know it sounds draconian but I don’t think you should announce there is going to be a lockdown in 12hours or three days. You just do it and stop anyone leaving. It would also stop the idiots who decide to throw a massive party the night before lockdown because of the restrictions coming in to force the next morning… The virus is not going to wait until the next morning to infect you.. it is an opportunist and will be very happy to join the party…Sounds like a recipe for disaster…

Ignore me I am just being a grumpy old woman this morning.

We have had a few days of sunshine and I have been sitting in the garden in the afternoons with my reader and enjoying living in another world.. that is the great thing about fantasy of all kinds, although kind of disturbing when you prefer the fantasy world to the one you currently live in!  Apparently it will be a little cloudier in coming days but I hope to be able to sneak out for an hour or two.

And, I am so much luckier than many by having a garden to sit in and for us both to be in good health.. More or less as my knee dislocated two weeks ago.. it does that when it gets tetchy as I am missing a ligament.. however it pops back nicely.  This time I was over compensating as I hobbled around using a stick, and this irritated my other hip and then my back went out in sympathy. I was pretty much immobile for the last 10 days but improving daily.This is not the first time and won’t be the last and it is mainly due to me not being able to swim everyday in a weightless environment, which keeps the necessary muscles tight and supportive.

Once the swimming pools reopen I will get back to it, despite my reluctance to be seen in public in a bathing suit and the necessity to wear a bathing cap that is dreadfully unflattering, and to my mind pretty useless at stopping hair clogging the outlets or spreading unsavoury particles. Especially when you think some men are extremely hairy all over including beards etc, and have far more follicles that I do on my head… perhaps they should be wearing an all in one rubber suit in the pool or clingfilm….now there’s a vision!

As always I am hugely grateful to William Price King, Debby Gies and Carol Taylor for sharing their love of music, humour and the environment with us.

I know that many of you already know that Debby’s husband has been diagnosed with advanced cancer and is now home with her. Whilst her focus in on G’s care and well-being, Debby is still visiting blogs, share posts and connecting with her friends in the writing community when she has some time to spare. Very important to have that small window of outside interaction when you are a full-time carer. You can read her latest update and I know she would welcome your comments – Update blogging, health and wellness 

Debby would like the funnies that we collaborate on to continue, so I will be raiding the archives here and on her Facebook for upcoming posts and they will go out as usual on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Debby is working on her next Realm of Relationship Column  but rather than have the pressure of a deadline, we thought we might share the first posts of the series which began in January 2020 every Monday to bring new readers to the blog up to speed. They start on March 29th.

I think that is us up to date… so on with the week’s posts.

– The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1965 Part One

Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen – #Crumpets, #Baking Soda, #Minced Garlic and Egg Boxes uses. 

– A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Five – The Dapperman 

Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 216 – #shadorma – Mother Earth 

#Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach 

Past Book Reviews 2020 – The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova 

Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Thriller – The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke 

Sunday 14th March 2021 – #Interview D.Wallace Peach, #Reading Robbie Cheadle, #RoundUp Carol Taylor 

#ReaderPeeves Anner R. Allen, #Reviewing The Story Reading Ape,#Bookoffer Andrew Joyce.. 

#Interview D.G.Kaye and M.J. Mallon, #IOW Stevie Turner, #Funnies Marcia Meara 

Thursday March 18th 2021 #Audiobook Annie Chiappetta, #Reblogging Hugh Roberts, #Indiancookery Sowmya’s Spicy Corner 

#FREE Book Marketing Opportunities 2021 – Making the most of your promotion  

Recent reviews – #Wolves Elizabeth Jade, #Bees Paul Noel 

New Authors on the Shelves – #Poetry – Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis 

#Memoir – Arranging a Dream by J.Q. Rose 

#Poetry – Midnight Haiku: : A Year in Contemplation by Sue Vincent 

#Paranormal Marcia Meara, #Supernatural Adele Marie Park, #Poetry Harmony Kent, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll. 

-#SocialMedia – The Importance of Rules and Regulations and Why We Should Follow Them by Patty L. Fletcher 

-#Grief: Collective Underpinnings In Sudden Loss and Importance of One’s Personal Journey. LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW 

– #Life #1960s A Birthday Reflection by Gwen M. Plano 

Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Ten – Anti-Aging- Keeping the Brain Young  

What causes your Cravings? – Part One – Dehydration 

March 16th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Hippos and Doctor one liners 

March 18th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Pants and Chimp Wisdom 

Mid-week boost – More humour from the family….Ketchup and Catfish 

March 19th 2021 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Marriage Alphabet and Anesthesiology 

 

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your support.. I hope you will join me again next week..Sally.

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Chapter Three – A Place of Sanctuary by Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

Yesterday Queen Filigree sent out New Year’s greetings by feathered messengers to family and friends to try and find a place of safety for the court. These are stories for ages 10 to 100+

Winter: A Place of Sanctuary

The magic garden was bordered by ancient forests, and during the frozen years the surrounding farms and villagers had been protected by the cloud of pollen produced by the trees, in response to the threat from the Winter Fairy. Life had gone on as it had for centuries, but it was with great relief for all who lived around the woods, that there was now a warm breath of spring in the air.

Most of the old-timers knew the Storyteller, and had been grateful for his intervention over the years during times of hardship. He was a kind old man and despite suffering tragedies of his own, he had never turned down a request for help. When news arrived of the lifting of the curse, villagers packed up baskets of food and fruit, taking the paths through the forest to welcome him back from his imprisonment.

To the south of the forest that bordered the Storyteller’s garden, was a cottage on a small plot of land with a pretty flower borders and vegetable patch. A widow and her children had returned to her family home last year when her father had passed on. The mother was a healer, growing many herbs that she made into essences, and sold to the villagers who would come to her door. The village was too remote to have its own doctor, and she was welcomed home from the city with her children with open arms. Along with her healing gifts, the mother, whose name was Summer, was also of royal fairy blood. Many hundreds of years ago there had been a love affair between a farmer’s daughter and a fairy king who had fallen for her red-haired beauty. Although through the years, that magical connection had been diluted, it was still powerful enough to give Summer the ability to work with nature, and understand the language of animals. She was not sure if this gift had passed to any of her three children, but she had a feeling she was just about to find out.

Summer looked out across her vibrantly coloured spring garden and smiled in satisfaction at the vivid green patch of herbs. She searched for her two sons and daughter; catching sight of them standing by the door to the garden shed, and wondered what they were looking at.

The three young observers peered into the dim depths of the shed, and the eldest, who was no longer a child, but a young man, placed a protective arm across the shoulders of his younger brother and sister. They had come to collect wood for the stove in their living-room, and having opened the door, had been startled by the sight before them.

After a moment or two Alexander realised that their visitor was not going to bring harm to Jonathan and Savannah, and the three of them quietly eased into the gloom.

Gently they moved towards their guest who looked at them with weary and bewildered eyes. As they drew closer, Savannah suddenly smiled and reached out her hand to the bedraggled speckled bird with his winged legs. Without hesitation the pigeon hopped from his perch on a wooden coat peg, and sat cupped in the young girl’s hands. Just then there was a rustling noise in the corner of the floor, and as their eyes became accustomed to the poor light, they saw two more black-and-white birds huddled together on top of an old basket of logs.

At first, Alexander wondered how the birds had managed to get into the shed, but then noticed that the small window had been blown open by the recent high winds. Luckily for these weary travellers; who would have surely died if they had not found this small sanctuary.

Jonathan ran inside to find his mother whilst his brother and sister waited with the weary visitors.

Alexander watched as Savannah raised the black and white speckled bird towards her face; it seemed to be whispering a message in his young sister’s ear. A few minutes later their brother returned with their intrigued mother, a shallow dish of fresh water and some bird seed that was put out every day for their own garden birds. The three pigeons clustered around the welcome food and water, and the family backed away leaving the birds to their meal.

As they sat around their kitchen table with mugs of hot chocolate and cookies, Alexander asked Savannah if the bird had really been talking to her, and if so what had it said.

The young girl’s eyes lit up and she beamed at her mother and brothers. ‘He told me that they are fairy messengers sent from a Spanish queen, and were blown off course by the storm. A rescue party will be sent out to guide them home, and we must look out for a butterfly that will be searching for them.’ Savannah who had always believed in fairies and magic, wriggled in her seat in excitement. ‘The pigeon said that he could tell that I would understand him as I was clearly very special.’

Summer smiled at her youngest child and was delighted to know that her gifts had been passed onto her lovely red-haired daughter.

Throughout the next day, the new young guardians of the magic pigeons, checked on their well-being several times. Within hours the birds looked stronger, and even came out on the roof of the shed to sit in the winter sunshine and fresh Irish air.

In the late afternoon, Jonathan came rushing into the kitchen waving his arms and twirling in excitement. ‘It’s here, it’s here,’ he shouted in delight. The whole family rushed out of the back door and sure enough, perched on the wall of the garage was a brightly coloured butterfly.

Savannah stood beneath the creature and stared up into its eyes. It fluttered its wings in understanding, and as the three children walked away across to the garden shed it followed gracefully in their wake.

Respectfully the family stood back as the butterfly entered the shed, and after a few minutes they returned to the warmth of the kitchen to observe through the window. The pigeons flew out of the shelter and perched on the garden wall next to the house. One of the birds fluttered onto the wooden gate and stared into the kitchen; nodding his head several times. The two brothers looked at their sister who smiled happily.

‘He says that the butterfly will guide them home now that the winds have dropped, and they will be home safely in two days,’ Savannah cocked her head to one side as she absorbed more of the bird’s message.

‘Our home is now protected by fairy magic and we are officially appointed as a Royal Pigeon guest house to be used on long journeys across this part of the world.’

She turned to her mother who stood watching this interaction with delight. ‘Mother, the pigeon says that he is breaking protocol,’ she shook her head at the word, but her mother nodded in understanding.

‘He is carrying an important message from his queen, but we would not understand the fairy writing so he has to break his bond and utter the words. His queen and her court are in danger, and she is looking for a new home, and he wondered if we might know of a safe place where she could bring her court to live?’

Her mother thought for a few minutes and then smiled. She nodded her head and beckoned the children to follow her to the end of the garden and through a gate that suddenly appeared in the hedge. The children stared at their mother, but she just laughed and told them to follow her along the path through the forest. High above them the canopy of trees sparkled as the spring sunlight filtered through them to light their way. The three pigeons and the butterfly flew from branch to branch as they watched their new friends walk swiftly through the trees, until they entered the brightness of the day again.

The pigeons and the special envoy lined up on a branch of an old oak tree and stared in wonder at the emerald jewel before them. Hedges of brilliance surrounded a garden full of bushes, budding with gems of purple and rose. There was a fountain in the middle of a lush and wild field, gushing sweet water that flowed over its brim and onto snowdrops and bluebells surrounding its base. Fruit trees gathered in an abundance of blossom to the side of a stone cottage, standing proud in the middle of the land.

But the queen’s messenger’s eyes settled on the most wondrous sight of all. A tall and ancient magnolia tree grew by the side of the house, with large pink buds just waiting to burst into beautiful blossoms. It was a fairy tree, and the pigeons knew that beneath its strong trunk, lay a wonder of roots that arched into chambers fit for a queen. Summer and her children walked hand in hand across the lush grass towards the house, and as they did so, the back door opened, and the Storyteller emerged to greet them. The pigeons and butterfly followed and perched on a limb of the magnolia, observing the humans as they talked. The Storyteller approached and looked up at them and immediately spoke to them in their own language.

‘You are welcome to my land which has been released from the curse of the Winter Fairy. There once lived a mighty Fairy King and his court in the palace beneath this tree, but he left for warmer climes 100 years ago. Please convey my best wishes to your queen, and tell her that she is free to come and share this garden with me for all time. I am the guardian of the land and will remain so for many hundreds of years to come.’

The pigeons and their companion fluttered down to the Storyteller’s outstretched hands, sitting there for a moment or two, absorbing his essence. Finally satisfied, the butterfly flew away, followed by the birds who circled the house several times, imprinting the location before winging their way back to Spain with this wonderful news.

Two days later a very happy Jacamo carried a wicker basket down from the garden to the pigeon loft where he and Queen Filigree fussed over their beloved birds. They listened to the story of their adventure, and learned about the three special rescuers, and the offer of a new home in the Emerald Island. At first the queen was a little bit doubtful, since it had been the home of their arch enemy the Winter Fairy. However, she had heard from one of the southern realms that he was now grounded for all eternity in a sand covered desert and no longer a threat.

She called a special meeting of the council, and plans were drawn up to move the contents of the palace, and as many of the guardians from the garden, to their new home as quickly as possible. The deadline for the new owner to begin the destruction of the house was only a week away and there was no time to waste.

A few days later as the children played in their overgrown garden in the Emerald Island, one of their new black and white feathered friends arrived, carrying a personal note of thanks, written on gossamer silk paper and infused with magic so that they could read it. They dashed inside to their mother as she prepared their evening meal, excitedly relating the news that the royal court of Magia was on its way by swan express and would be here in the next two days.

Summer and the children hurriedly made their way through the forest to inform the Storyteller of the imminent arrival of the Spanish court, and to help prepare the palace for its new occupants.

©Sally Cronin 2018…

I hope you have enjoyed and will join me next week as the Spanish court packs up their treasures and mounts the evacuation of their home.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and The Storyteller by Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

Last Sunday Queen Filigree and the occupants of the magic garden celebrate their final Christmas before having to vacate the home they have shared for hundreds of years… what will happen next is in the hands of destiny and some feathered messengers. These are stories for ages 10 to 100+

Winter: The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and The Storyteller

Queen Filigree did not send out Christmas cards; her festive wishes were carried on the winter winds that sweep across the continent, dropped off at other fairy realms with kisses of snow. However, the queen believes that the New Year has very much more importance for her subjects and those of the world, always sending out her special winged messengers of peace two days after Christmas. This year her beautiful birds would carry more than New Year greetings, as they would also carry a request for any information about a possible new site for the palace. Since they would be sent to the four corners of the world, somewhere, surely there would be a place for Queen Filigree and her court to live in safety.

The royal pigeons had been lovingly reared over centuries, and all have their own fairy powers. In addition, they have extra wings of magic feathers attached to their legs, enabling them to fly higher and faster than normal birds. They come in two colours, pure white and with black and white speckled feathers; all are bright eyed and clever.

After the over indulgence and exuberance of the Christmas feasts, it had been a pleasure for Queen Filigree to remain quietly in her chambers within the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

She would sit in front of a roaring fire, composing her messages of peace and prosperity, to other fairy heads of state and their subjects. Her elegant handwriting was invisible to human eyes; so small in size that the messages were easily contained on a tiny piece of onion paper. This was then rolled into a silver cylinder, and taken by her chamberlain to the pigeon loft in the roof of the palace. Little had she known that this year her message would contain such desperate news and entreaties for assistance.

In the pigeon loft was an old hump-backed fairy called Jacamo, whose task would be to gently lift the most trusted of the pigeons from their nests, inserting the cylinders into spider’s thread silken pouches on their long legs. Usually there were twelve messages being sent to Queen Filigree’s royal relatives, and also to special humans who had done great service to the kingdom over its very long history. This year, Jacamo was surprised to be asked to prepare all fifty of the royal birds who were not nesting, to go on a special mission.

The queen walked up the winding staircase that led from the palace, through the roots of the magnolia tree, and out into the cold but sunny winter morning. Jacamo was there with the pigeons in wicker baskets awaiting the royal command to release their precious contents.

The queen loved her birds and decided that this year, with so much at stake; she would launch them into the sky herself. She opened each basket, gently picking up the pigeon within; kissing the top of its head, before raising her arms and throwing it into the air. The fifty birds circled their home for a few minutes; took their last look at their home and beloved queen, then flew away towards their individual destinations.

Five days later, Jacamo waited anxiously under the shelter of the magnolia, as wicked winter winds buffeted the branches and leaves above him. At his feet were forty-seven baskets containing the birds that had returned home safely, carrying responses to the New Year greetings sent by their queen, and the special request for sanctuary that had been included.

Three birds were late, and the pigeon master was very worried that they had been swept away by the violent storm raging across Europe and now right above his grey head.

Another day passed, and it was with a sad heart, the old fairy asked for an audience with Queen Filigree, to pass on the bad news that three of her winged messengers were lost. He found her sat on her throne, looking pale and exhausted. At her feet were the gossamer paper responses that had been returned by the forty-seven messenger birds. They expressed sorrow at the troubles that had beset the queen and her kingdom, but regretted that all of them were under similar pressure, and had no hope to offer.

After the storm had subsided and the winter sunshine had returned a day later, the queen decreed that every effort must be made to find her beloved birds as they were the last hope for their salvation. She consulted with her head guardian Sir Gregory, who was also her chief of communications. The shaggy lion had a network of messengers including a fleet of magic butterflies that could travel at the speed of light and communicate in many languages.

After a lengthy consultation with the guardian and her resident weather expert, a pixie named Vortex, it was determined that the birds in question, who had been headed to northern Europe, must have been blown off course towards The Emerald Island. This information was relayed to the waiting butterflies gently flexing their wings in the winter sunshine. Vortex reached over their colourful backs and sprinkled them with fairy dust, before despatching the fleet towards the previous home of the Winter Fairy.

Meanwhile, in a snowy garden on the eastern coast around this small jewel of an island, nature was coming to life again after being frozen for several years. The Winter Fairy’s grip on this magical place, circled by an ancient forest, had ended the moment he had left to conquer the southlands.

Now, with his exile to the arid wastes of far distant desert, the small shoots of spring pushed through the remaining snow and ice to reclaim their world. Trees in the garden rustled as the icicles dropped from their branches and soft velvet buds exploded overnight across their barren skeletons.

It was not only the land and hedgerows that stirred, as the house in the middle of the grassland also began to disrobe from ice and accumulated snow. The windows that had sparkled with crystallised patterns became clear, and water dripped from guttering long clogged with ice.

Inside the awakening mansion, the Storyteller slowly awoke from his slumber, and as his eyes opened, he took a moment to gather his scattered thoughts. The last thing he remembered was that vicious little Winter Fairy shouting at him, with a curse that would freeze him for all eternity, for not permitting him to set up his kingdom in his garden.

The Storyteller had laughed and walked away, but within hours, first his hands and then his feet became very cold and he could no longer stand. He had sat in his old rocking chair and tried to warm his hands on the dying fire in the grate. But the ice filled his veins until his brain had stopped working and he was left staring sightlessly into the future.

Now the warmth continued to flow through his body and after several hours of agonising pins and needles, the Storyteller could stand and move through his home. There was no dust or other indications of how long he had been in his frozen sleep, but as he looked out through his kitchen window, he could see that the land was bursting with the life of spring.

He would go and walk through his beloved gardens and vegetable patch later to check on its condition, but as his stomach rumbled, he realised he needed to check his larder for dried onions and mushrooms for some tasty soup for lunch.

©Sally Cronin 2018…

I hope you have enjoyed and tomorrow, after a long flight the messengers arrive in the Emerald Isles and find a possible new home for the royal court.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Winter: Christmas Under the Magnolia Tree by Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

Yesterday we left Queen Filigree, and her magic kingdom of Magia, recovering from an attack from the Winter Fairy who had threatened to disrupt the final summer ball of the year. Although the danger has passed an even more perilous situation is developing. These are stories for ages 10 to 100+

Winter: Christmas Under the Magnolia Tree

By December, high in the mountains, the rain fell as snow and lay deep on the ground in the magic garden. Christmas was just two days away and beneath the roots of the old magnolia tree preparations were well in hand. The bees, that had been forced to hibernate in the special honey-chamber when the Winter Fairy brought early snow; hummed festively in the background.

Queen Filigree was very excited, not just because she adored Christmas, but because her favourite son, Prince Zachary, was coming home for the holidays. He had married a princess who lived in the gardens of a Royal Palace many miles to the north and she had not seen him for many years. They were due to arrive tomorrow and the ladies of the chamber were bustling around in the guest apartments, preparing the beds for the visiting royalty and their two young children. All the activity and noise were giving her majesty a headache. She wrapped herself in a spider-spun silk cloak and popped out to get some peace in her snow- covered kingdom.

She was invisible to humans, but the stone statues, which were the guardians of the garden, could see her and were delighted that she had taken this opportunity to visit them. As Queen Filigree made her rounds; wishing the Stoned Band, Fluffy, Fizzy and the other creatures a Happy Christmas, she caught sight of the old owner of the villa at the edge of the garden. He was wearing a shabby coat and tattered scarf, and his mittens clearly would not keep his shaking hands warm. He was also visibly distressed; tears rolling down his cheeks as he stared off across the valley to the distant mountains, glowering under the dark snow-filled skies.

The Queen was deeply saddened that the man who had taken such care of their sanctuary for so many years should be so unhappy, and intent on finding out the reason, she headed for the font of all knowledge here in the kingdom. Sir Gregory was one of the two head guardians of the magic garden and could be relied on to have the facts to hand.

She perched lightly on the shaggy stone mane and whispered in her knight’s little ear. ‘Your majesty,’ the guardian bowed his head. ‘I have indeed sad news to impart about the
master of the house we protect.’

Tears filled the queen’s eyes at the sadness that had overwhelmed the old man. ‘Did you manage to ascertain the cause of his distress?’

‘It would seem that he has not seen his son and family for many years and they have written and told him that they will be here tomorrow to spend Christmas with him.’

‘Well surely that is joyous news for him, as is my own son’s visit with his family?

‘Apparently, he has little money now, and it all goes on the upkeep of the house and
garden. His needs are few but he has not sufficient money for a tree, decorations, food or
presents for them and he is ashamed.’

The queen shook her gossamer wings beneath the warmth of her spider-thread cape.

‘Well we cannot have that, he has been a wonderful caretaker of our garden,’ she rose in the air and zoomed off back to the magic kingdom beneath the magnolia.

All the courtiers and servants were summoned to the throne room and stood chattering about the urgency with which they had been taken from their duties.

Queen Filigree clapped her hands and the room fell silent.

‘Listen carefully! We have work to do and not much time to accomplish it!’

The next morning the old man rose as usual to light a fire and prepare some simple bread and vegetables for the arrival of his family.

He walked into the cold and sparse living room and a sight awaited him that brought tears to his eyes. The floors and the furniture shone with wax whilst the candles on the chandelier sparkled like diamonds. The sight that took his breath away however was to be found in the corner of the room. There stood the most beautiful Christmas tree with lights that sparkled; with many gifts at its base with gold and silver wrappings.

Unable to believe his eyes, and fearing that he had passed into heaven overnight, the old man wandered the rooms of the house. Every room sparkled and new bedclothes adorned the guest bedrooms. The kitchen tables were laden with festive foods of every kind, including several bottles of his favourite honey mead wine.

As he stared in wonder at the transformation of his humble home, he heard the large brass bell at his gate chime, and with a sprightly step he rushed to open the front door. Standing outside in the wintery sunshine, stood his son and family beaming with delight at the sight of him; bearing hampers of food and brightly wrapped gifts. Within moments he was wrapped in their loving embrace.

Many hours later, Queen Filigree sat with her own son Prince Zachary as they watched through their magic portal into the house above them. The old man was sitting contentedly by his fireplace, sipping from time to time from a glass of the finest brandy.

From now on her majesty would keep a better eye on the old man. He had served them well, and deserved every bit of magic that had been woven about him this last night and day. She looked across as her son and saw that he wore a troubled expression.

‘Whatever is the matter Zachary, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?’ She laid her hand on her son’s blue velvet sleeve.

‘Mother, I have had some bad news, and I wanted to wait until after today’s festivities to tell you.’ He paused, closing his eyes as if to put off delivering this devastating announcement for a few minutes longer.

Queen Filigree waited patiently as she could see this was clearly painful for her son but coldness settled around her heart.

‘We have discovered from a trusted source within the human world, that this house is to be sold, and the old man to be taken to live with his son and his family. Like all properties that have provided sanctuary for our kingdoms over the millennia, this house was earmarked in the records so that we would have forewarning.’ He looked across at the ashen face of his mother as she covered her mouth with her delicate bejewelled fingers.

‘But surely Zachary, the new owners will not know we are here, and whilst I would be sad to see our old friend leave to live with his family, it should not impact the magic garden.’

‘I am afraid mother that the news was not just about the sale of the house, but also that the new owners have submitted plans to demolish the property and everything within the boundaries. This includes cutting down all the trees, and removing the vegetable and flower gardens to make way for a massive new house.’ He smiled sadly at the queen. ‘That will of course include the magnolia tree and the destruction of your palace.’

With tears pouring down her face, Queen Filigree retired to her chambers where she paced the floor all night. She declined her usual glass of warm nectar from the royal bee chamber, and instead helped herself to a glass of the liqueur made from the poppy petals that sharpened the mind and enabled visions of the future.

The next morning, the queen gathered her two remaining unmarried daughters, Princess Narcissus and Persephone, and her special advisors around her for an emergency summit conference, the first since the threat from the Winter Fairy. This fact was not unnoticed by her faithful and loyal courtiers, and they stood before her with solemn faces. Their concerns were confirmed when their queen delivered the message from Prince Zachary; many taking to the seats in the chamber and reaching for their own glasses of poppy liqueur.

‘We have just a very few weeks to find another location for the palace,’ the queen held her hands upwards in despair. ‘We have been invited to go to the North to live with my son’s family, but it would mean living in the court of his mother-in-law, and I am afraid that this would only make his life more difficult.’ Some of the courtiers stifled their giggles as they had all heard tales of the mad Queen Megan and experienced her rather strange notions. Serious though this situation was, they remembered the last time she had accompanied her daughter and Prince Zachary for a state visit. The Stoned Band had played their usual popular playlist, but Queen Megan, who rather fancied herself as a singer, had decided to accompany them.

To say that her majesty could not carry a tune was putting it mildly, and in fact to this day, Wiffy who played guitar was still too traumatised to play.

Anyway, the courtiers knew that living under the same roof, and being beholden to Queen Megan, was not going to be possible and suddenly all humour was sucked out of the chamber. Where on earth were they going to go? They had been here thousands of years with the present queen now 700 years into her reign with many hundreds of years left of her life. All the kingdoms to the south had been similarly affected by the modern building boom, and as forests and countryside were swallowed up, there was no likelihood of finding a new palace.

Prince Zachary informed them that the old man who lived in the home above them would be leaving at the end of the week, and the new owner was taking possession in three weeks’ time. To move the entire kingdom, and as many of the guardian statues that lived in the garden as possible, they would need to locate a new garden and palace in the next two weeks. An impossible task without some magic to make it happen.

The senior advisors, their queen and Prince Zachary, sat for many hours over the next two days and finally a plan was laid on the table for consideration.

©Sally Cronin 2018…

I hope you have enjoyed and next time…..messengers of peace are sent out in the hopes of finding a new home for Queen Filigree and the court.

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 12, 2021 Pamela rated it Five Stars

Short stories have become “the thing” now. Until recently, short stories didn’t receive that much respect, particularly compared to novels. But in the past few years, more readers are appreciating the sharp intake of breath that can be delivered by a well-written short story. And that is exactly what Sally Cronin delivers here in her Bowl of Short Story Cherries. Like life, each story does not end up happy. But neither do they all end up bitter or sour. In fact, Cronin offers her readers a glimpse into “real life” with characters who could be your next store neighbor. Characters who search for love or money or happiness and find it, perhaps, in the least likely places. A few of Cronin’s stories caught me with a tear or two, as well as with a burst of laughter. That’s the kind of stories I like, where the characters’ emotions mirror mine, and we all learn our lessons in unexpected ways

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 21st – 27th February 2021 – 1960s Pop Music, Short Stories, Poetry, Blog Stars, Books, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to the weekly round up with posts that you might have missed during the week.

I don’t have a great deal to report this week which in many respects is a good thing. We are waiting to hear the government decision regarding lock down today or tomorrow but it looks like it has been extended to the end of April with certain services such as hairdressing being one of the last to open.

Just as well my husband has become so deft with the scissors and clippers and as my hair is short anyway it has not been too bad.  I take the clippers to his hair too and after nearly a year we may continue after the restrictions are lifted.

I have been out and about however in the virtual sense which was a lot of fun. This week I was delighted to be the guest of author Hugh Roberts where I shared the story of my acting debut….I hope you will head over to read..

Watch Out For The Matador! – A True Story

As always my thanks to William Price King and delighted that the Breakfast Show is going down well, despite the fact that it is a little early for many of you to remember the songs.. If you do have memories and a favourite track from the 1960s we would love to include you in the Breakfast Show Special at the end of March.. details here The Breakfast Show 2021

Thank you also to you for all the visits, comments and shares again this week.. I do appreciate the support very much.

On with the posts from the week….

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1963 – Part Two

Jane Risdon shares the background to one of her favourite tracks of the 1960s

What’s in a Name? – Prince Charming by Sally Cronin

Return to Tales from the Irish Garden.. Previously

Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge No 213 #Badger Hexastich x two – Beacon and Umbrella by Sally Cronin

#Paranormal #Romance – Ghostly Interference: (White Rune Series Book 1) by Jan Sikes.

#Cancer #Journal – Apple Blossom: my Hope…my Inspiration by Jaye Marie

Past Book Reviews 2020 -#Poetry Inner Rumblings: by Joyce Murphy

Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Thriller -Deep Cover by John L. DeBoer

chicken sandwich

Recipes that Pack a Punch – A Chicken Sandwich and how your body extracts the nutrients

Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Seven – Anti-Aging and Attitude of Mind

Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #AfghanistanAdventures #54 Winter travel by Mary Smith

Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Writing – Author Bio Dos and Don’ts by K.M. Allan

Going West: The Accidental Tourist by Sue Vincent

Monday 22nd February 2021 – #Food Carol Taylor, #Home Chantelle Atkins with Jessica Norrie, #Bookreview Harmony Kent

Wednesday 24th February 2021 – #LakeDistrict Mike Biles, #AlooGobi Sowmya’s Spicy Corner, #Publishing Alison Williams

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – New Book on the Shelves #Ghosts – Brody Cody and the Haunted Vacation House by Toni Pike.

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – Author Update – #Nature Joyce Murphy, #Fantasy Maria Matthews

New Book on the Shelves – #Thriller – Shattered Lives: A Jo Naylor Adventure by Allan Hudson

New Book on the Shelves – #YA #Fantasy – Rites of Passage (The Rites Trilogy Book 1) by Doug Parker

New Author on the Shelves – #Family – Sisters of the Undertow by Johnnie Bernhard

#Reviews #Family Lisette Brodey, #SouthernCulture Claire Fullerton, #Fantasy Tyler Edwards

#Murdermystery Terry Tyler, #Meditation Sue Vincent, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

#Lockdown M.J. Mallon, #Poetry Balroop Singh, #Paranormal Marcia Meara

February 23rd 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – After Surgery and Shopping for a Husband

February 25th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Lost Glasses and Best Beer in the World

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – Host Sally Cronin – We are all going to the dogs!

 

Thanks very much for visiting today and I hope you will join me again next week.. have a great weekend.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Stories – A return to Tales from the Irish Garden – Previously in the Magic Garden by Sally Cronin


As I am going to be in full on writing mode for the next couple of months and it is a over two years since I last shared Tales from the Irish Garden.. I thought I would it bring it out of mothballs for those of you who might have missed the first time around..

In the first volume of stories (Tales from the Garden), we left Queen Filigree, and her magic kingdom of Magia, recovering from an attack from the Winter Fairy who had threatened to disrupt the final summer ball of the year and here is a reminder of the danger the court faced. These are stories for ages 10 to 100+

The Winter Fairy inhabited a garden deep in the heart of the Emerald Island. It had been his kingdom for a hundred years, and in a fit of pique, a number of winters ago, he had frozen everything within his realm, including the humans and animals. He was now bored, but on the grapevine, he heard of a place where the sun shone for three hundred days a year, and this fired up his imagination. Timing was perfect, as he was told that if he could freeze the ancient fairy kingdom on the night of the summer ball, when all were dancing above ground in the gardens, they would be frozen into statues and visible to humans for all eternity.

Although it was only October, he had left his kingdom and blown on westerly winds towards this sun-filled country. The lands that he passed over experienced bitterly cold winds and frosts that made the people huddle in their homes around hastily lit fires. Weather experts predicted that this unusual early freeze was without a doubt, the sign that a new ice age was imminent.

The Winter Fairy however, had underestimated the power of a secret underground movement in his own kingdom. There was a rat in his organisation and a rabbit and a vole.

The rabbit and his family, had cousins who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Filigree in the magic kingdom, in fact one of them played in the royal band. He was a bit too fond of the Amber Nectar, but a good sort all the same. On the outskirts of the frozen lands was a forest that had refused to be turned to ice and, to be honest, the place was a thorn in the Winter Fairy’s side. The Elms and the Oaks claimed superiority and rights over the land, erecting a barrier of pollen that made the Winter Fairy sneeze and his eyes run. Finally his discomfort had encouraged him to look in other directions for his fun.

In the forest, the birds and animals that had been driven out by the cold from their homes, lived and thrived. Among them were the Messenger Birds, an elite flock of white and black pigeons who carried notes around the globe for the price of a handful of seed. As soon as the Winter Fairy left his kingdom, icicles began to melt and slowly the long frozen land began to thaw. The rabbit whistle-blower had overheard the evil being muttering to himself about his plans to invade the sunny south, and knew that he had to warn Queen Filigree and her Guardians of the danger approaching. He went around the underground folk and managed to scrape together a handful of seed, although he had quite a job getting the rats to give some out of their plentiful store, most of which had been stolen from travellers passing through the forest.

The head messenger came down to the sorting office, which was set up at the boundary of the forest and listened carefully to the rabbit’s message. Within minutes, a young and eager pigeon was winging his way by the express route across the mountains, to get ahead of the Winter Fairy, and warn those he intended to freeze. Worn out, and almost at the end of his strength, he reached the Kingdom of Magia a few hours before the last summer ball of the year, just in time for the Queen and her Guardians to put a plan in place to thwart the frozen- hearted demon.

With the help of Fluffy the Dragon, who blew hot winds to the north, The Winter Fairy arrived to find the garden deserted, and his intended victims partying the night away beneath the old magnolia tree. Despite his best efforts, he failed to breach the defences to the palace and was left stamping his foot in frustration as the snow fell all around him.

In a huff, he flew ever southwards, only to find himself in the middle of a desert so barren of life, it refused to freeze. Harsh sandstorms pummelled him, whisking him skywards where his wings melted, and he fell to ground on top of a waterless dune. He found an abandoned lizard’s burrow, and sat at the entrance, with all eternity stretching before him to contemplate his wickedness.

Meanwhile… Back at Magia the snow melted and the weather returned to its normal windy autumnal pattern. The guardians settled down for a quiet few weeks until the Winter Festival, when the fairies and the inhabitants of the garden would again be out-and-about to celebrate.

To be honest they needed little excuse for a party. However, little did they know that more changes were on their way, and that this time the Queen, and her guardians would be unable to stop the resulting devastation.

The story continues in Tales from the Irish Garden…tomorrow…..

©Sally Cronin 2018

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 12, 2021 Pamela rated it Five Stars

Short stories have become “the thing” now. Until recently, short stories didn’t receive that much respect, particularly compared to novels. But in the past few years, more readers are appreciating the sharp intake of breath that can be delivered by a well-written short story. And that is exactly what Sally Cronin delivers here in her Bowl of Short Story Cherries. Like life, each story does not end up happy. But neither do they all end up bitter or sour. In fact, Cronin offers her readers a glimpse into “real life” with characters who could be your next store neighbor. Characters who search for love or money or happiness and find it, perhaps, in the least likely places. A few of Cronin’s stories caught me with a tear or two, as well as with a burst of laughter. That’s the kind of stories I like, where the characters’ emotions mirror mine, and we all learn our lessons in unexpected ways

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Prince Charming by Sally Cronin


At the weekends I will be sharing some of the stories from my collections and also new stories from time to time… I hope you will enjoy..

Today I am  sharing a story  from the What’s in the Name? collection about a beautiful princess being married off to the the most eligible bachelor available, much to her dismay!

Prince Charming.

Sonia looked through the lead glass window of her bedroom, and watched as her three brothers disappeared into the distant forest. The dark trees swallowed them in an instant, and closing her eyes she imagined she was beside them; riding Anica her white filly. How she loved the trails through the dark woods that suddenly opened into sun dappled glades of wild flowers and mushrooms. But her father had banned her from accompanying her carefree brothers, decreeing that it was time at seventeen to adopt a more ladylike and regal demeanour.

Tears filled her eyes at the memory of her last discussion with her father this morning; standing before him in the cold and intimidating throne room.

‘Sonia my child,’ her father scratched his balding head. ‘It is time to forget childish ways and prepare yourself for your marriage to Prince Aleksander on New Year’s Eve.’ Glaring at her from beneath his bushy eyebrows he continued, ‘I will not listen to your complaining and disobedience any longer; is that understood?’

He contemplated his only daughter, and remembered his wife’s wise words on how to deal with their wilful youngest child.

‘You must remember that the security of our kingdom depends on an advantageous union with all of our neighbours. Your brothers are promised to princesses on three corners of our realm, and when you marry the heir to Pokova to the north, we will have peace and prosperity for the future.’

He sighed and steeled his heart as watched her crestfallen beautiful face. ‘Your mother and I did not meet until our wedding day and we have had a most happy union, being also blessed with you and your brothers. We are royalty, and arranged marriages are as much part of our lives as your silk dresses and other privileges’.

Sonia bit her lip and silenced her response. She had been attempting to persuade her parents for the last two months that she couldn’t marry a man that she hadn’t met, and had not even seen a likeness of. Her shoulders slumped wearily and she curtsied to her father, asking permission to go to her rooms. The king waved her away in frustration and watched as the dispirited girl left the chamber.

Petar, Jakov and Henrik would be gone for several hours and she resigned herself to sitting in the window alcove and watching the palace staff going about their preparations for the grand feast tomorrow. The courtyard and kitchen gardens were bustling with activity. The cook and his assistants were unpacking tradesmen’s carts and gathering vegetables to accompany roast venison and turkey. In the distance she could see the giant farm horses pulling the cart holding the majestic tree harvested from the dense forest and destined for the ballroom.

Prince Aleksander was due to arrive today, but protocol demanded that she wait until she was formally introduced to him at the ball. Her brothers had met him at the annual boar hunt in the summer, and she had pestered them to tell her more about him.

Unfortunately her three brothers loved to tease her and refused to talk about the prince at all; making faces at each other in merriment. A thought struck her and she gasped at the possible reason for their silence. He must be ugly, she thought, or perhaps stupid or had a nasty temper. Her nervousness only increased and she clasped her arms around her body in despair.

As she looked out of the window a flash of movement caught her eye. From the cobbled stable yard came a tall blonde man leading a jet black stallion. He was wearing a loose white shirt and leather jerkin, but it didn’t conceal the fact that he was very muscular as well as handsome. Feeling a little flushed, Sonia wondered why she had not seen this groom before. She also wondered why she had not heard the normally observant chamber maids gossiping about the new addition to the staff.

She watched as the man and horse moved gracefully down to the paddock, and she opened the window so that she could see more clearly. The cold winter air rushed into the room but pulling her shawl closer about her shoulders, she settled down to watch the proceedings.

The man released the horse and moved to the centre of the round paddock. He flicked a fine whip onto the sawdust behind the horse, which responded by trotting around the outside of the ring… Another flick and the stallion turned and moved in the opposite direction. The elegance of both man and beast were magnificent; totally absorbing Sonia in the performance. After several minutes, the man dropped the whip to his side and turned to walk towards the gate… The horse stopped in his tracks and followed, gently nudging his shoulder to gain the groom’s attention. At the gate the man pivoted and placed his right hand at the top of horse’s forehead; leaning into him. They stood for several minutes; man and beast as one.

Sonia caught her breath and stuck her head out of the window, better to capture this intense and beautiful moment. The groom turned away from the horse and as he did so he looked up. He saw Sonia inelegantly hanging out of the window and smiled; even from this distance it was devastatingly effective. She ducked back inside and slammed the window shut. The impudence of the man, and to crown it all, this was just the sort of behaviour that her father had been so critical of.

That evening her mother knocked on her door and ushered through two maids with laden trays. She had also brought the palace seamstress who carried a linen wrapped garment over her arm. Sonia loved her beautiful mother and hoped that over their supper she might be able to win her over to her side.

She had heard her brothers arrive back an hour earlier, clattering into the courtyard and calling for Anton the head groom to come and collect their horses.. As they had noisily run up the steps to the main entrance of the palace, Sonia had been tempted to peek out of the window to see if Anton had anyone assisting him. But she had dismissed this foolishness. Tomorrow she would be betrothed, and married on New Year’s Eve. She must put all these romantic notions from her mind. However, part of her wished with all her might that she could be just a simple maid, who could dream of love and marriage with that devastatingly attractive but unobtainable man.

Her mother eventually left Sonia’s chambers having remained resolute on the upcoming marriage. But she had smiled at her daughter’s determined efforts, whilst reminding her that she had a royal duty to obey her father. Hanging on the front of the door to Sonia’s dressing room was a very beautiful pale blue dress. The ball gown was edged with matching satin and violet flowers draped across one shoulder down to the slender waist. However, even this sensational garment did little to lift her mood as she contemplated how tomorrow would change her life forever.

Early the next evening the guests for the Christmas ball began to arrive in their carriages. Whilst waiting to dress, Sonia kept watch from the window hoping to catch sight of the groom as the horses were led away. Her maid assisted her into her ball gown, and gently tucked in an odd strand of jet black hair which had drifted from the elaborate upswept style. Sonia stood in front of her full length mirror and despite appreciating that she looked every inch a princess, she felt coldness deep in her heart. She had to face the fact that she would never know the kind of love that other girls were privileged to receive. Her father had won, and very soon she would be leaving the palace and going to a strange land, far away from those who had loved and protected her until this moment.

Sonia carefully descended the red carpet of the curved staircase, eyeing the clusters of guests in an attempt to identify the man she was going to be spending the rest of her life with. Most were known to her, and as she moved between them they smiled and bowed. She saw that her father was at the end of the throne room with her mother, three brothers and a tall stranger with his back to the room.

Her father looked up and saw her, beckoning her over and touching the stranger on his shoulder. As Sonia reached the group, the elegantly dressed man turned and she looked into startling blue eyes. She gasped as she recognised the shaggy blonde hair and the broad shoulders, blushing to the roots of her hair.

‘Your Highness, may I introduce my daughter, Princess Sonia.’

Her father took her right hand and placed it into the large palm of the man in front of her.

‘Sonia meet your betrothed, Prince Aleksander of Pokova.’

Breathlessly Sonia looked down at his broad and sun-tanned hand.

A deep voice broke into her scattered thoughts. ‘I believe we have glimpsed each other before Princess.’

She looked up into his smiling face and her lips trembled as she fumbled for a response.

Sensing her discomfort, Prince Aleksander continued, ‘ I was working with Kyros yesterday when you noticed us. He is my betrothal present to you and I hope you will ride him back to Pokova with me after our wedding.’

Sonia’s beaming smile and gentle squeeze of his hand gave him his answer, and as he led her off to the dance floor for their first waltz, she heard her father behind her.
‘Somebody get me a brandy… A very large brandy’.

©Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Feb 07, 2021 Mae Clair rated it five stars

This is an entertaining collection of short stories with several poems scattered throughout. The book is grouped into topics such as Technology, Animal Magic, and Connections (to name a few) with stories and poems related to their header topics appearing underneath. It’s cleverly presented and cleverly written. All of the stories are winners but there were some that really stood out for me, including The Weekly Shopping, The Nanny, The Scratch Card, and The Night Shift.

In The Weekly Shopping we get a taste of what ordering groceries might be like with when we come to rely too much on technology. It’s both hilariously funny and worrisome at the same time. I loved the argument related to the cat!

In The Nanny, a young couple discover who is watching over their baby at night. The Scratch Card left me with a lump in my throat at the generosity of others, and The Night Shift made me appreciate the special love pets have for their owners and the kindness of those who appreciate that bond.

These stories are heartwarming and touching, with scattered poetry further enriching the sections. A lovely collection and a quick read, the stories will lodge in your heart and linger.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – February 14th – 20th 2021 – Romance, Songs 1960s, Chilled soups, book reviews, videos and funnies


Welcome to the update of posts that you might have missed from the week here on Smorgasbord.

I hope all is well with you. Quiet here except for the noise of the wind howling around the house and the six inch puddle stretching across the front of the house. I know I wished I had a swimming pool but clearly the genie was having an off day.

The garden birds have been having a tough time of it with the winds and driving rain making it difficult to fly, particularly for the small birds such as the sparrows and tits. I usually buy my birdseed and fat balls at the garden centre or at a push smaller packs as the supermarket but of course the centres have been shut since the New Year and the supermarket shelves are bare of both seed and other products. One store has at least got some sunflower hearts and I have mixed that with sultanas and cooked brown rice.. They can at least digest that easily and it has nutrients for them.. The sunflower hearts provide the good fats and protein.

I have taken to put some on the ground as well as on our platform feeder and hanging baskets and hopefully they will get enough nourishment.

They are staying in the thick hedge in our back garden but when I got out (dressed in full wet gear) there is a sudden chorus of song and I can feel hundreds of eyes on me… as soon as the back door closes they are in the feeders and on the ground which is encouraging.

Anyway.. on with the posts from the week and as always my gratitude to William Price King, D.G. Kaye and Carol Taylor for their terrific contributions and to you for visiting, sharing and commenting.. it keeps me motivated..

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1963 – Part One

D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – February 2021 – Online Dating – Staying Safe

Bread, Homemade Peanut Butter and Home Grown Vegetables and Herbs.

St. Valentine’s Day – The Meaning of Romance to Me by Sally Cronin

Charlie the Junkyard Dog

 

 

Barbados and the last letter home 1986. Sally Cronin

#WWI – #Family Saga – The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

#Children’s – A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (too) by Frank Prem

– Past Book Reviews 2020 -My Name is Danny – #Doglovers – Tales from Danny the Dog assisted by Andrew Joyce.

Butterfly Cinquain – Fate’s Voice by Sally Cronin

Your Own Opinions And Feelings #selfaware by Toni Pike

#Finance – Working with a Financial Planner by Sharon Marchisello

– #Spying – The Story about House Hunting While Being Watched by D.G. Kaye

#Q&A D.G. Kaye, #Valentines Carol Taylor, #Interview as guest of Amy Reade

#Swearing The Story Reading Ape, #Deserts Cindy Knoke, #Speedreading Robbie Cheadle

-#JulesVerne Carol Seidl, #Waves Melanie Stewart, #Medication D.G.Kaye

#Reviews by V.M.Sang, #Cookbook Marian Beaman, #IrishMyths I.E. Kneverday

#Teaching Pete Springer, #Betrayal Abigail Johnston, #Hitching Andrew Joyce

Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Six – Anti-Aging and Oxygen

Salads are not just for Summer

New Book on the Shelves – #Fantasy Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

#Psychological Thriller Lucinda E. Clarke, #Thriller Alex Craigie,

#Thriller Gwen M. Plano, #WIIDrama Marina Osipova, #Paranormal John W. Howell

February 16th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

February 18th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Vows and Good Deeds

February 2021 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Flying first class and Shakespeare insults

 

Thank you for all your support and I hope you will drop in again next week… enjoy your weekend.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life’s Rich Tapestry – Charlie The Junkyard Dog by Sally Cronin


Over the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the stories from my collections new and old… and I hope you will enjoy them.

Today a story from Life’s Rich Tapestry, about second chances..

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.

His human would unshackle Charlie as night fell; throwing a few handfuls of dried dog food into a bowl, kicking it toward the dog.

‘Gotta keep him lean and mean,’ he would laugh as he got into his truck to head down to the bar on Main Street. The junkyard was now Charlie’s responsibility, and he would prowl in and out of the wrecks through the darkness; barking and growling at any real or imagined intruder.

The feral cats kept their distance, building nests for themselves in the precarious metal heaps and hunting for rats and mice at night; keeping one eye open for the mangy dog.

Many a lad had climbed the fence, looking for a spare part for their hot-rod, or to find some forgotten treasure in a glove compartment. All had gone back over the wire at speed, with one or two new rips in their jeans and sometimes even missing a sneaker. Charlie would swagger back to his kennel, taking a drink from a puddle along the way, pleased that he had done his job as demanded of him.

Rarely did the dog feel the kindness of a human hand, despite the men who worked in the yard throwing him the odd bit of sandwich, or even a left over piece of hamburger. None were keen to find out if he was as handy with his teeth as some of his victims had claimed after lucky escapes. The boss told them not to coddle the dog, and despite some of them pitying their half-starved workmate, they were too afraid of losing their jobs to push the matter.

Then a thin, lanky lad called Jimmy turned up one day looking for a job. The boss thought he was too scrawny for the kind of hard labour that was needed, but he knew the boy would work for a lot less than he had to pay a grown man, and gave him a week to prove himself. He had to give it to the boy; Jimmy did not mess about, arriving early and leaving long after the others had left for a beer.

He pulled his weight and earned the respect of the other men who took him under their wings. Although Jimmy didn’t say much they sensed the boy didn’t have a great place to go home to. Over a mug of coffee after lunch, he finally shared that he had been living on the streets for some months but was now in a hostel. It sounded a bit grim, but it was clean and he had a room, dinner and a change of clothes. With the money he was now earning, he planned to save up and find a small place of his own.

Like his workmates, Jimmy began keeping some of his lunch for Charlie. They warned him to throw the food and not to get too close in case the dog ripped his arm off. They were amazed when he calmly knelt down, holding out his hand with the piece of sandwich in his cupped palm. After a couple of days, hunger overcame his fear and Charlie edged closer and closer until he snatched the food, racing back to the other end of his chain.

They also advised Jimmy not to let the boss see him petting the dog, and the lad was careful to only do so when the man was out in his truck, or on the other side of the yard. He didn’t want to lose his job, but he also couldn’t bear to see this neglected dog and the way he was living. It brought home memories of his time on the streets, and he knew only too well how desperate it was.

Through the summer months, Jimmy began to climb over the fence after the gates had been locked, rather than return to the stifling room in the hostel, until the evening cooled. Charlie by now accepted the boy and eagerly nuzzled his pockets to see if there were any treats for him. He would snuffle delightedly as he came upon a piece of cheese or sausage, dispensing a slobbery kiss in gratitude.

The two of them would wander the yard enjoying the evening sunshine and then sit side by side watching the sun go down; Jimmy’s arm around his buddy’s neck. Both of them had filled out over the recent months of better food and the boy had also been to the vets and stocked up on medicine for parasites and fleas. Charlie’s improved condition was becoming a problem. The boss had noticed that Charlie was calmer and less aggressive and that he could no longer see his ribs. Somebody was feeding him and he decided to keep a closer eye on who was around him during the day.

It didn’t take long to find out who the culprit was, and he was furious. He left the trailer and walked off into the lot telling his men, who were eating their sandwiches around the wooden table by the gate, he would be back in ten minutes. Instead he went around the back of the shack and peered around the side towards Charlie’s kennel. He saw Jimmy gather up the scraps from the other men, and walk quickly over to Charlie who sat waiting eagerly. His anger grew as he saw the dog calmly take the food from the boy’s hand and the way he accepted the ear scratching and petting.

He raced to the front of the trailer and shouted at the top of his voice, making the men stand up in concern and Jimmy leap back guiltily from the dog.

‘I warned you what would happen if I caught any of you messing with that dog.’ He strode towards Jimmy and grabbed him by the arm; causing Charlie to growl and leap to the end of his chain. ‘You’re fired boy! Get your stuff and leave now.’ He pushed the lad towards the gate and kicked him in the backside. ‘And don’t think you are getting your last week’s pay either.’

The men looked at each other, and as one they walked towards their enraged boss and Jimmy. In the background Charlie was pulling at his chain and barking madly, foaming at the mouth, desperate to get free.

‘Hey boss, leave the lad alone,’ Jack the foreman held up his hand to try and calm the situation down.

‘Get out of my way! You knew the rules and you let that boy ruin the dog.’ The boss snarled at the men.

‘Take one more step and it won’t be just the boy who gets canned.’ He grabbed Jimmy’s rucksack from the table and threw it at him before grabbing his arm in a vice-like hold.

Suddenly a massive snapping sound erupted from behind them, and everyone, including the boss, turned towards the trailer. All they could see was an enraged dog, virtually flying through the air with the remnants of a chain trailing noisily behind him. The men scattered and the boss let go of Jimmy’s arm. He turned to run for the gate only to be yanked off his feet as a jaw clamped onto the back of his jeans and shook him like a rag doll. The denim ripped and, freed from the gnashing teeth, the boss was off like a rocket, clambering up the side of a precarious mound of wrecked cars. The dog took up station at the bottom of the pile as the sobbing man scrambled to get a foothold on the slippery metal.

‘Charlie, Charlie, it’s okay boy, come here, come here.’ Somehow Jimmy’s voice managed to get through to the enraged dog as he paced back and forth growling in frustration.

He turned and stood head down and shivering as the boy walked towards him and knelt down. ‘Okay Charlie, you and me are going to leave, come on let’s get out of here.’

The foreman stood in front of the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘Hang on a minute lad; we need to sort something out first.’

He stepped over to the pile of cars and looked up at his boss perched on a rusty bonnet.

‘Boss, I’m going to the trailer and get the lad his pay for the last week, and I am also going to write him a receipt for a dollar, which is the cost of the dog.’

He turned around and walked to the trailer as Jimmy and Charlie waited by the gate, the boy kneeling with his arms around the quivering dog; finally calming down and licking the boy’s face. The man reappeared with a leash in one hand and an envelope in the other.

‘There you are boy, and there is a bit extra in there, plus I’ve scribbled a reference for you, with my telephone number.’ He smiled at Jimmy. ‘I think you boys better leave town and leave us to sort this out.’

He winked and nodded in the boss’s direction. ‘He can’t afford to lose all of us or for us to tell this story down the bar, he would never live it down.’

The other men clapped Jimmy on the back and a few of them slipped a few more dollars into his pocket. The foreman leant down and offered Charlie the back of his hand and felt a long rough tongue as it glided over the skin. He stroked the dog’s head and stood up to open the gate.

‘Take care of each other you two, and don’t worry, there won’t be another dog in this place, I’ll make him buy surveillance cameras instead.’

Jimmy stood for a moment looking at the men who had befriended him and now offered them both this second chance. He glanced down at the dog waiting eagerly to see what was outside the gate that had held him prisoner for so long.

The boy wiped his hand across his face embarrassed by the tears. Then he smiled and lifted a hand in farewell and the men watched the boy and dog head off down the street to the highway and freedom.

Jack shut and padlocked the gate before turning towards his boss now clambering down the metal mountain. When he reached the ground and turned prepared to give them one of his tirades, he found ten men with their arms folded waiting for him.

©Sally Cronin 2019.

I hope you have enjoyed the story.. thanks for dropping in… Sally.

About Life’s Rich Tapestry

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

One of the recent reviews for Life’s Rich Tapestry on Bookbub by Marina Osipova December 1st 2020

Engaging. Moving. Amazing.
As always, Sally Cronin’s writing (be it verse, micro fiction, or short stories) awoke in me a fountain of emotions. Some manifested themselves in goosebumps (Life’s Greatest Gift, Musical Interlude, Reunion, An Ugly Mutt, A Moment of Alignment-just to name a few), others brought a smile to my face, (My Mouse, Splashing Good Time, The Witch’s Handbook, etc.). The Enhancement Project was frightening in its futurological likelihood. You’ll find the tales grim or sad, yet most promise hope at the end. While reading all these beautifully written stories, I shook my head in disbelief: how is it possible to tell a life story in such a short piece of literature? Take my word, you won’t be unaffected by these poignant snippets of life, and after turning the last page, you will crave more from this remarkable writer. Can’t help but recommend Sally Cronin’s books to readers who seek tales that deeply move soul and heart.

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon  :Amazon UK – Amazon USAmazon US

My other books and recent reviews can be found on my Books and Reviews Page 2021

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life’s Rich Tapestry – You are never too old to be loved by Sally Cronin


At the weekends I will be sharing some of the stories from my collections and also new stories from time to time… I hope you will enjoy..

Today a story about and old guy who feels there is not meaning left to life…originally a Christmas story but love is not seasonal, it is all year around.

You are never too old to be loved

He was getting on a bit in years, his eyesight was very dodgy, and his hip was definitely causing him jip. His teeth were just about okay; he still enjoyed his meat slightly chewy, instead of that pap that they gave the real oldies in this residence. And if truth be told, despite his advanced years there was still a little fizz left when it came to the ladies. In fact there was a rather saucy looking old gal in the residence four down from him, who despite the silver threads through her glorious mane of hair, still had a twinkle in her eye.

Making his mind up to make more of her acquaintance later when they were all out in the garden enjoying their daily exercise, he closed his eyes to have a quick nap before lunch. He dreamed of a luscious garden full of the scent of flowers, as well as the laughter of children as he chased them around the apple trees. Two hours later he woke with a feeling of sadness, knowing that he would never see those children again. They were grown now and had no thought of him as he sat alone in this place.

There were visitors, who came from time to time, but this was a residence for the elderly and whilst they were well taken care of with amusements laid on and so called enrichment programmes, they all felt the loss of being part of a family. They would talk about it amongst themselves when they were resting in the shade of the garden; out of breath from their recent exertions. They had to accept that they were not going to see the outside of this place again and had better make the best of it.

One day they woke up to see the garden covered in snow and some of the more elderly residents declined the invitation to go out for their usual daily exercise; choosing instead to huddle under the blankets and watch through the windows of their rooms. He, however, was made of sterner stuff. He remembered the fun he had enjoyed with the children; lying in the snow whilst they covered him from top to tail until only his head could be seen. He was not sure if he lay down in the soft snow now, that he would be able to get up again with his dodgy hip.

Tired from his time in the winter wonderland, he returned to his room and settled down in the old chair in front of the window. For some reason he felt incredibly sad; for once his normally sunny disposition was overshadowed by grief.

The next day the staff could be seen rushing around putting up shining decorations and the residents perked up knowing turkey and all the trimmings were imminent. You have to give credit to the woman who ran the place; she was a kind soul who was committed to giving her elderly charges the comfort and care they deserved. They all enjoyed her frequent visits to their rooms for a chat and a hug or two.

Somehow this year he found it difficult to get excited, despite loving the taste of turkey, ham and those little sausages wrapped in bacon. But his dreams each night of children’s laughter lingered throughout the day, and he felt incredibly sad.

The day before Christmas, he woke to hear people talking outside in the corridor. Not unusual certainly, but he kept hearing his name mentioned and there was something familiar about one of the voices… He moved closer to the door and tried to understand what was being said about him. He heard the click of the latch and hurriedly moved back into the room; watching as the woman who ran the place entered with a tall young man.

“Hello Jack is that really you.” He stared at the stranger who seemed to know his name. He edged forward to get a better look and a hand reached out towards him.

“We’ve been searching for you since Mrs Jones died and we didn’t know where you had gone, I can’t tell you how happy we are to have found you.”

We, what’s this we bit?

Suddenly two very young children pushed themselves into the room and rushed towards him, throwing their arms around his neck. After a moment’s fear he surrendered to the wonderful emotions that surged through him as he heard their laughter; feeling their small arms choking the life out of him.

He looked up through rather bleary eyes as the young man knelt down and stroked the fur around his neck, a familiar smell immediately unlocked the memories he had tried to suppress during his waking hours. Memories of this man as a teenager living next door to his mistress, coming over when he was a puppy and playing with him, rolling around in the snow and teaching him how to make snow angels.

“You’re coming home with us Jack, would you like that boy, would you like that?”

To say that he was out that door like a whippet up a drainpipe, despite his dodgy hip, was an understatement. He was helped into a large box that hummed, sitting between the two small children strapped into special seats. They both reached out to touch him, reassurance that it was going to be safe as they set off at an alarming rate.

So here he was on Christmas Day having eaten a meal of turkey, basmati rice and vegetables with special gravy, no salt his new mistress said in her soft caressing voice. He was resting on his soft comfy bed in the same room as his two young friends, Billy and Grace. He lay there in the warmth listening to them breathing gently in their sleep, knowing that he was now their guardian. He was filled with new purpose and strength; even his dodgy hip didn’t hurt as much.

More than anything he felt young again and loved… You are never too old to feel loved.

©Sally Cronin 2017

My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Andrew Joyce 5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyed This Little Gem  Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2021

A collection of short stories with a sprinkling of poems throughout. The kind of book one should have at their bedside to read a story or two before falling off to sleep. Very enjoyable reading. My favorite story was “The Weekly Shopping.” What a hoot!
I purchased the eBook, but I’m going to buy the print book to give as a gift. I can’t give this book better praise than that.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed the story.. .Sally.