Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – June 6th – 12th 2022 – Chart hits 1996, Puerto Rico, Phosphorus, Reviews, Poetry, Health, Podcast, Stories and Humour

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

I hope you have had a good week and are enjoying the weekend. There has been some more work on the house and it is really beginning to take shape… Ironic that we will get it looking great only to pass on to someone else lol.. Anyway that is a month or so away but I am already looking at property pages in the areas we are planning to look at seriously in the coming months. I am trying to be sensible about downsizing!!!  Apart from anything else with heating oil having almost tripled in the last three months, heating a large house becomes an expensive luxury.

I am hoping that are luck with finding just the right house for us will hold, and whilst I am not looking forward to the packing up process, I am excited about finding our next home, intended to be our last. And also to finally welcome a new dog into the family, long overdue.

This week my friends William Price King, Debby Gies and Carol Taylor have given us music, sunshine and sea in Puerto Rico and wonderful recipes and I cannot thank them enough for their wonderful contributions. They are also busy on their own blogs and I hope you will head over to check them out.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1996 and for the fianl part of the series about Aretha Franklin.  Next Friday a new series featuring Roberta Flack… You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to San Juan on Monday and found some great funnies. It was also her birthday this week… on facebook it shows up as 107.. always a talking point as she certainly does not look her age lol..Over on her blog you can you can catch up with her posts including her Sunday book review for the compelling thriller Where There’s Doubt by Terry Tyler…. D.G. Kaye

Carol Taylor joined me on Wednesday with her recipes to include sufficient phosphorus in our diets… and as always a busy week on her own blog including her Monday Musings and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, Store cupboard Basics, Green Kitchen Bread Rolls and strawberry stems, Saturday Snippets all about ‘Spin’. You can find all her posts Carol Cooks2

Thanks too for all your visits, comments and shares this week… they mean a great deal..♥

Coming up this week on the I Wish I Knew Then series are Sue Wickstead, Jane Risdon and Claire Fullerton.

On with the show…..


The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1996 Part Two – The Wallflowers, Alanis Morissette, Take That, Eric Clapton

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Phosphorus – Dairy, Poultry, Pork, Nuts, Wholegrains

Food Therapy Rewind- Make the most of Summer – Homemade #Fruit Salad and Smoothies by Sally Cronin

Chapter Sixteen – Killbilly Hotel – A promotion

Killbilly Hotel – The Opening Weekend Party

Tuesday Weekly Challenge #Colour #Etheree – Strawberries by Sally Cronin

The Royal Banquet – Preparation and Menu by Sally Cronin



#Children’s – Make Believe: Bedtime Stories for Children by Janice Spina

Advance Review – #Malaya #1950s – Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Carol Taylor

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Diana Peach

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Sharon Marchisello

First in Series – #Family Saga Judith Barrow, #Mystery N.A. Granger

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Mystery #Romance Marcia Meara

#Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Age and Skipping

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Street signs and Diet Pills


Thank you for joining me this week and look forward to seeing you again soon  Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – May 23rd -29th – Crows, Aretha Franklin, Chart Hits 1995, Curacao, Manganese, stories, reviews, health and humour

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

I hope you are well and had a good week. It has been busy here as we continue the redecoration but the dining room is now completed and we will be moving all the furniture back in over the next couple of days. I will share some pictures next week of the before and after. Because of the comings and goings this week I did not have a chance to do the podcast but Tales from the Irish Garden will be back again next Sunday.  Instead a short story that I wrote recently as one of the new collection slowly being written and hopefully out later in the year.. It did appear earlier in the year on Allan Hudson’s blog.

Charlie Update

In the spring we rescued a crow who had probably been injured by a car and was unable to open his beak very far and appeared to have some brain damage. Whilst there might have been an option to put him to sleep humanely, we decided to see if we could rehabilitate him.  For six weeks he lived in a hutch David built and I hand fed him pureed chicken for the first few days which was messy but he seemed to get the idea. He then was able to move his beak sideways and moved on to bread and butter, tuna, enriched fat balls and other soft foods. He couldn’t fly and would fall over if he tried to walk but this too improved over the weeks until he began to flutter short distances.

He got used to drinking from the bird bath on the ground and even copied the starlings who use it as a bath several times a day.

Here he is enjoying his bread and butter

Eventually he was able to fly further and and seemed to regain his balance. He would sit and look up at the sky watching the many crows who fly around us from the neighbouring woods and he would try to launch himself up to join them. Eventually one day, he did and we didn’t see him for about a week, fearing the worst.

However, he did return and we know it is him because he still is unable to eat normally so uses the sideways movement to grasp bird seed and demolish his favourite fat balls. He loves Basmati cooked rice too. He is much smaller than the other crows and he is still a bit of a loner as I guess being disabled he may not be as accepted by the others, but we notice he is in the company of a larger crow much of the time which is great.

He knows when I put out the breakfast for the birds and is always first on the scene and when I shoo off the other crows he stays and gets on with eating but he looks over as if to say.. ‘you don’t scare me missus’.  He still enjoys the bird bath to wash down his food.

As always a thank you to the amazing contributors who share their expertise and entertain us every week.

On the blog front

This week on the series by guests are Sandra Cox, Debby Gies and Balroop Singh and I am sure you will find them as fascinating as I did..

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1995 and for the next part of the series on Friday featuring the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us on a visit to Curacao..a wondeful island.. and of course found some funnies and a video to share with us this week. Over on Debby’s blog you can enjoy a Q&A with author Jan Sikes very interesting and entertaining..Catch up with other posts in her archives D.G. Kaye

Carol Taylor joined me on Wednesday with amazing recipes to ensure that we get sufficient Manganese in our diets… and as always an informative and entertaining week on her own blog including store cupboard basics, food reviews, The Bon Bon fruit, Chicken Kebabs and her Saturday Snippets

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 22nd -28th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Dance” is my one word prompt.

Thank you too for the support during the week and your wonderful comments that always gives me a boost.

On with the show

Chart Hits 1995 Part Two – Tom Petty, TLC, Annie Lennox, The Rembrandts

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame.

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean Welcome to #Curacao #Lesser Antilles

Manganese – Spinach, Chicken, Tomato and Basil

#Romance, #Humour – Chapter Twelve – Advertising Sales by Sally Cronin

Chapter Thirteen – Makeover and the art of buying a car by Sally Cronin

On the Run by Sally Cronin

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge – #Themeprompt – #TankaProse – Useful by Sally Cronin


The Dynamics of Change – Part Two – Our Mental Approach to Life by Sally Cronin

Food Therapy – #Walnuts – Not just any nut… by Sally Cronin

#Poetry – Life & Soul (Book 2 in the Soul Poetry series) by Harmony Kent

#Flashfiction – Tell Me A Story in 99 words by Annette Rochelle Aben

#Goodnews John Howell, #Steampunk Richard Dee, #Poetry Robbie Cheadle & Yvette Calleiro, #Characters Gwen Plano, #Reunion Pete Springer & Jennie Fitzkee, #Interview Marcia Meara & Mike Allegra

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Life by Terry Tyler

#Wedding – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Alex Craigie

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Letter to my younger self by Dorothy Grover-Read

– Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Vet Care and Pirates

Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Out of the mouths of Babes and Church Notices


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week… Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – On the Run by Sally Cronin

On the Run by Sally Cronin

Jenny Smith packed the last of the frozen food orders into the cooler boxes filled with ice in the back of her van, and, having waved goodbye to her boss Alex, climbed into the driving seat and checked her list of delivery addresses.

It was going to be a busy morning, but that was just how she liked it. The frozen food centre she worked in was popular and she enjoyed working on the tills, or stacking the freezers each day, as well as chatting to the customers. She was thankful to have been offered this job three years ago, in 1977, as it came with a flat above the shop, with all services included and a heavily discounted food shopping bill.

The live-in arrangement meant that, apart from the tax office, no-one could trace her through rental offices or utility companies, and it meant she could use a fictitious name when meeting strangers. Alex was the only person in this busy town in the Lake District who knew her real name and the reasons for making sure that it would remain a secret.

The local hotels were busy with the summer trade, and traffic could be quite slow on the narrow roads winding through the hills and lakes, especially if you got behind a few caravans in convoy. Jenny made good time however, as most tourists were still enjoying their substantial breakfasts in the bed & breakfasts and the hotels around the town. She was always welcomed into the kitchens with an offer of a tea or coffee or something more substantial, but with a heavy schedule she always declined. Jenny was also reticent about talking about herself, as she knew that more than a few of the customers she saw on a regular basis enjoyed a good gossip.

By lunchtime she was back at the freezer centre and took the signed delivery notes to the back of the shop to leave on Alex’s desk. He was out for the day, with plans to visit some suppliers in Carlisle, and was not expected back until after closing time this evening. There were two part-timers, Jacquie and Mary, serving customers and after checking they didn’t need any help, she headed up to her flat to grab a quick sandwich and cup of tea before they left to pick up their young children from the local primary school mid-afternoon.

Alex lived in a house further down the lake from the town, a family home he had inherited from his parents, and as Jenny lived above the shop, one of her duties, along with serving customers, was locking up at night and opening in the morning for deliveries. Because of this she had a telephone on a table in the hall of her flat, so she could be contacted if there were problems or a lorry driver needed to confirm times of arrival outside of the freezer centre’s opening hours.

She rarely used the telephone for outgoing calls except once a week to her parents, who were the only people, apart from her brother, Tommy, that she kept in contact with. They didn’t know the number and since there was no way to trace the call, they believed she was living and working in a bed and breakfast in Wales. It was something they never questioned, and it was a fact they could disclose comfortably to anyone who might ask.

Only her older brother Tommy knew where she was really living and working because he was the one who had driven her up from Brighton in his van with her few belongings to this town, where his best friend from his army days was running a freezer centre. Jenny was absolutely sure this knowledge was safe with him. She kept in touch with regular letters which he responded to with an occasional Sunday night phone call to her flat, keeping her updated on his growing family.

Jenny made herself a cheese and tomato sandwich and carried the plate and her cup of tea through to the bright sunny living room, with windows looking out over the lake. With a sigh she kicked off her shoes and switched on the radio for company as she ate her solitary lunch.

Sandwich finished, she was about to pick up her cup of cooling tea, when the loud insistent ring of the telephone in the hall interrupted her. She assumed there was a delay to one of the deliveries due in this afternoon, and Jacquie and Mary were too busy with customers to get to the office to answer the call. She padded across the carpet and picked up the receiver.

‘Hello, Alex’s Freezer Centre, how may I help you?’

‘Did you really think you could hide from me forever Maggie?’

Hearing her real name spoken with such venom, by a voice she had hoped never to hear again, caused her to drop the receiver and slide to the floor, shivering as she cowered against the wall.

‘Maggie, Maggie, can you hear me?’

Laughter spilled down the telephone line and into the hall making her skin crawl and she reached out with trembling hands to replace the receiver in the cradle.

As she did so she heard her husband’s final words.

‘Don’t think your friend Alex will help you… his car is in a ditch far away from here.’

For what seemed like an hour, but in reality was only a few minutes, Maggie’s mind was blank with fear. All she could focus on was the controlling threat of violence that had paralysed her for three long years before she had finally taken her brother into her confidence. The threats had escalated into actual physical assaults on a more frequent basis. Blamed on her clumsiness, backed up by the charm offensive her husband unleashed on those close to them, including hospital staff who might question her frequent visits to the emergency department.

Maggie hadn’t wanted to involve her parents ,who had retired to live in Spain, but had to convince them that she was leaving the marriage because she was no longer in love with James and it was her decision to divorce him. She knew they were very disappointed in her, but she suspected Tommy might have dropped some hints about the real situation and that they respected her decision.

Despite her brother’s insistence on going to the police to report James for domestic violence, she begged him to help her get as far away as possible. She knew her husband might telephone and charm her parents in to disclosing where she was, convincing them that he could repair the rift in their relationship, so it was decided to create the story about working in the remote fictional bed & breakfast in Wales.

It was an insistent knocking on the flat door which made her scramble to her feet, casting desperately around for some kind of weapon to protect herself.

‘Jennie, it’s me Alex, open up please.’

With a gasp of relief she opened the door to find her boss holding a bloody cloth to his forehead and a determined look on his face.

‘The police are on the way, I recognised the bastard who drove me off the road from a photograph that Tommy gave me when you arrived here, just in case he appeared in the area.’ He reached out and pulled her in close to his body desperately concerned about her pallor and trembling.

‘I’ve sent the girls home, locked up the shop, pulled down the shutters and the alarm is set.’ He smiled at her reassuringly. ‘I thumbed a lift from a family with a caravan and I thought we would never get here. I got them to drop me off in the square and I rang Sergeant Thompson from a call box and gave him the details of the hit and run and the risk of your husband coming here to hurt you.’

He could feel that the woman in his arms was calmer, and he relaxed his hold so he could look down into her ashen face. Finally after three years he could revert to using her real name. They had been so careful to create the new identity that he had made sure never to let it slip unintentionally.

‘Maggie, don’t you know I would never let anyone hurt you again?’ He gently stroked her hair back from her face and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. Maggie felt suddenly stronger as she looked up into his craggy face. She had never even considered having another relationship, but over the last three years she had become to rely on this man and the safety he provided; only now appreciating how much he felt for her.

Content to be in his arms, the minutes passed and sirens announced the arrival of a number of police cars, summoned no doubt from Carlisle to back up the local officers. They heard sounds of a loud altercation going on in the street below the flat windows and Alex led her across the lounge. He sat her in an armchair and went across to open one of the sash windows leaning out to get a better view.

A man was lying in the road with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was shouting obscenities and one of the six policemen in attendance was sitting in the front seat of a police car nursing a bloody nose.

‘Maggie, come over and take a look please; it’s okay, you’re safe now.’

She stood up shakily and went to stand beside him. He pointed over to the man on the ground.

‘Is that your husband Maggie?’ Tears rolled down her cheeks but she nodded in response.

‘With my evidence about his forcing me off the road this morning and his assault on that police officer, he is going away for a very long time.’

They stood and watched as James was loaded into a van and the vehicles drive off to the station.

‘How did he find me Alex, only Tommy knows where I am and he would never tell anyone?’

‘He rang me after you left on your deliveries, he thought it was not likely to be a problem, but they had a break-in a couple of days ago. He assumed because of the selection of items taken, it was likely to be kids looking for pieces to sell. However, he got the impression that someone had been through his desk drawers, especially as your letters had been disturbed and his address book was missing… and it had the freezer centre’s telephone number. He had thrown away the envelopes with their postmark, but he said you sometimes mentioned hotels you delivered to in the letters, and other landmarks that could give away your whereabouts.’

Pulling Maggie back into his arms he carried on with the events of the morning.

‘I rang round the first hotels on your delivery route to get an idea of where you had reached in your round. I was hoping to intercept you the other side of the lake when you got to The Glassblower pub, but I was overtaken on a bend by this maniac who then cut across me forcing me off the road and into a ditch, but not before I got a good look at his face as he was driving beside me.’

Maggie’s heart had stopped thudding in her chest but she was still shaking badly in reaction to both the threat and the danger Alex had faced because of their closeness. She didn’t want to ever leave the safety of his strong arms again.

‘I promised Sergeant Thompson that we would go the station and make our statements, and with his attempted murder of me, he wanted to know if you would reconsider your decision not to bring charges against him for his assaults when you were together.’

The colour had returned to Maggie’s face and she had stopped shaking, but she stiffened as she contemplated Alex’s suggestion.

She had refused to bring charges when questioned by police the last time she had been admitted to hospital following a severe beating. James had warned her that however long it took he would find her and kill her if she said a word to implicate him.

‘I am so scared Alex, I had almost managed to stop looking over my shoulder, to believe that he would never find me, but if I give evidence and even if he goes away for several years, he will still come after me wherever I am.’

He pulled her closer, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

After a minute she pulled back and looked into the face of this gentle man and there was no way she could pull him into her turmoil. She couldn’t bear it if anything more happened to him.’

‘Alex I am very sorry to have brought so much trouble to your doorstep, but I don’t want to put you in any more danger, as it would devastate me. I will make a statement, but then leave as soon as I can pack my things.’

‘I don’t want you to go anywhere Maggie, ever.’ He smiled down at her upturned face. ‘I know what you went through, and I didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but if you will give me time, I would like to prove to you that not all men are the same.’

She smiled shyly at him and gathered up her coat and bag, and slipped back into her shoes. She placed her hand into his, holding on tightly and absorbing the strength she needed to put her past behind her for good.

‘I would like that very much.’

© Sally Cronin 2022

One of the latest reviews for What’s in a Name?

I really enjoyed this short story collection. it’s different from others taking a person’s name as the starting point for creating a story. There is a wide range of variety in this collection but all share one thing in common: these are about life, love and humanity. The range of topics in the stories will appeal to all from amusing, sad, emotional to happy stories. There is even a story about a nun, Celia, leaving her calling which remained with me a long time after reading. The twists at the end of the stories were entertaining too, especially loved the one in ‘George!’ and ‘Isobel.’

Another favourite of mine was ‘Clive,’ about a boy taking a walk in the tropics and walking into a whole lot of trouble – the little ‘un meets a cobra! But, the moment when the boy and cobra look into each others’ eyes is just priceless. Loved it. Cobras are not that uncommon a sight in the tropics, my mum’s step mum came face-to-face with one too! And, in ‘Eric,’ you’ll smile at the tale of a widower who learns to live again through his cat, Doris. in ‘Grace,’ the moving yarn of a young girl in an orphanage ticked all the boxes for me. And the tale of the drunk driver and ‘Hannah,’ was fantastic.

Highly recommended to short story enthusiasts and to all who enjoy well written tales. 

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up 9th- 15th May 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, St. Thomas, Magnesium, Short Stories, Podcast, Health, Travel, Books, Reviews, Health and Humour

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

I hope you are doing well in your neck of the woods. In this one we have had some glorious weather this last week and I have taken advantage of the garden. Decorating is going well with the dining room now pearl grey and white woodwork.. Awaiting the floor to be sanded and I am off to buy new curtains during the week.

The young plants I potted a couple of weeks ago are beginning to flower and it is a bit of mystery as to the colours as I bought variety packs and in a week or two I will share the results.

On the blog front

I am delighted that I Wish I Knew Then series is being enjoyed and there are several more scheduled for the coming weeks and so grateful to those who are participating and sharing their stories. This week Jacquie Biggar, Rebecca Budd, Denise Finn and Jacqui Murray share their thoughts on the prompt.

As always I will be putting on a Summer Book Fair featuring all the authors that I have personally recommended who are on the Smorgasbord Bookshelf. In the first posts beginning in June, I will be sharing books that are the first in a series to encourage readers to start at the beginning and hopefully then read the following books. I will then continue with authors with stand alone novels, non-fiction, memoirs etc.  Look out for that from June 6th through to September.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1994 and for the last part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – On Friday William begins a new series about the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to St. Thomas this week on the Travel Column… and on her own blog shares her thoughts on being back in Toronto after her Mexican winter break and adjusting to the solitude again, weather and how grief plays its role in her perspective on life and the future. How Am I Doing?  Head over to her blog to catch up on her posts including her Sunday Book Review D.G. Writes

Carol Taylor shared some amazing recipes this week to ensure we are getting sufficient Magnesium in our diet… on her own blog she reminds us about animals waking up after hibernation in our gardens and in particular what to and not to feed hedgehogs in her Monday Musings,

In her ‘My Kitchen Post, she shares some store cupboard basics, in her Food Review what constitutes ‘processed food’ and in Saturday Snippets her prompt is Glass.

Head over to catch up on Carol’s posts this week: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 8th -14th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Glass” is my prompt.

Thanks to you for all the support, likes, comments and shares during the week and now on with the show….

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1994 Part Two – Celine Dion, Prince, Wet Wet Wet, Corona

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Five – Live Performances

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean Welcome to St. Thomas #Virgin Islands

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Magnesium – Coleslaw, Pumpkin Seeds, Tom Yum Soup, Morning Glory

#Olive Oil…keeps your body moving by Sally Cronin

Butterfly #Cinquain – Blossom by Sally Cronin

Chapter Eight – The Steak House by Sally Cronin

Chapter Nine – Pub Landlady and Skinhead invasions

Chapter Seven – The Magic Garden comes to life by Sally Cronin

#Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

#Western #Paranormal Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

#Romance – Love, Me – A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

#Romance – Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1) by Linda Bradley

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Burgers and more Weird Facts

– Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Cures and more Weird facts


Thanks so much for dropping in today and for your visits and support during the week.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and stay safe.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Shortstories #Fame – Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

Today I am sharing my review for a short story collection by Simon Van Der Velde – Backstories published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.

About the collection

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story? And once found, can you understand them?

‘Ingenious idea, brilliantly executed‘ – Daily Mirror

Backstories – ‘the stand-out most original book of the year’ – is a collection of stories each told from the point of view of one of my personal heroes, (or villains) back when they were just another Jew or black, or queer – back when they were nobody. Bullied, assaulted or psychologically abused, their road to redemption was never easy, and for some there would be no redemption, only a descent into evil.

These are the stories of people you know. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, the driving themes are inclusion and social justice – but the real key to these stories is that I withhold the protagonists’ identities. This means that your job is to find them – leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.

I should also add that this is a book that operates on two levels. Yes, there’s the game of identifying the mystery activist or actor, singer or murderer, but there is then the more serious business of trying to understand them. This in turn leads to the challenge of overlaying what you now know about these famous people onto what you thought you knew – not to mention the inherent challenge to your moral compass.

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth. Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

My review for the collection April 23rd 2022

What a fascinating concept. We are bombarded by the details of those in the media who are the focus of the headlines. Most of the time we see what is in front of us, be it a glamorous celebrity, superstar athlete, award winning musician or even an infamous serial killer. Sometimes if a tell all biography is available we might be party to their past lives and motivations, but most of the time we never see passed the hype.

In this collection of short stories we are invited to speculate on the past lives of many of those known for their fame or infamy.  There are subtle clues inserted, with perhaps a reference to a song lyric, or a mention of a name associated with the subject of the story.

All the stories have an edge to them as they explore the reasons for a fall from grace or a rise to fame, most rooted in childhood or teenage experiences at the hands of others.They are in some cases disturbing and it is easy to accept that these could indeed be a catalyst for what comes later.

This is a brilliantly written and compelling short story collection that I can highly recommend.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

About Simon Van Der Velde

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.

Connect with Simon Van Der Velde: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Goodreads: Simon Van Der Velde Twitter: @SimonVdVwriter


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review for this collection of shortstories..

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Podcast – Tales from the Garden – Pearly Girl and the Stone Band by Sally Cronin

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing the stories from Tales from the Garden which I hope you will enjoy in audio

Tales from the Garden is a collection of short stories I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid where we lived from 1999 to 2016. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden.

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.

In the garden were a collection consisting of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.. but with musical instruments attached which inspired this story in the collection

Pearly Girl and the Stone Band

Images ©Sally Cronin

I hope you have enjoyed the story and will join me again next week for another.

You can find out more about my books and reviews: Sally’s Books and Reviews

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries – #Winning Streak – The Charity Shop by Sally Cronin

As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.

Winning Streak – The Charity Shop

Mary Jane Brown was thrifty when it came to shopping, and she dropped into the charity outlets in the high street every week in search of bargains. A keen fan of the antique shows on television, she was always on the lookout for an unexpected find; hopeful it might achieve thousands in the auction rooms.

Until now she had been lucky in so much as she had discovered a leather coat for £20 which was a little 1980s, but very smart all the same, and a handbag, which though scuffed was a very good make and only cost £10.

Today Mary Jane had a fiver burning a hole in her pocket – she had won it at the bingo session at the church hall on Friday night. Perhaps her lucky streak would continue? She popped into her favourite charity shop tucked in a side street, often overlooked by other bargain hunters. She spent a pleasant half hour browsing the book shelves and the crockery displays, hoping for a first edition or ancient Chinese bowl.

Disappointed, she was just about to leave, when she noticed a large vase by the door holding a number of umbrellas all for £1 each. It was very decorative but clearly not worth much to have been relegated to a brolly holder, but she thought it might look nice in her hall by the front door.

She went over to the desk and asked for the price for the vase, expecting it to be around £20, but was delighted when the assistant told her it was only a fiver. The chatty assistant revealed it had been brought in after a house clearance following the death of an old lady. She had stipulated in her will, that despite there being nothing of value, she hoped it would bring in a few pounds for her favourite charity.

Delighted, Mary Jane put her heavy new purchase into her supermarket bag-for-life and, wrapping her arms around the package, wondered how she would get it home. Luckily she spotted a taxi in the rank at the end of the road, and arrived home in style. She displayed the vase in the hall, adding some silk flowers she had bought a couple of weeks earlier and extremely happy with the day’s foraging, she got on with making the supper.

Over the following weeks the vase was much admired by family and friends who spotted it on their arrival, and after a few months, Mary Jane forgot it was actually there.

The local paper announced the news that the well-known antiques television show was coming to town. Mary Jane excitedly looked around the house for anything that might be of interest to the programme, and get her a few minutes on the telly. Although she knew the vase was not worth anything, it looked impressive and she decided it might at least get her in front of the appraisers before the show. She rang the number and was directed to a contact form on their website, which she completed and waited for her tickets to arrive.

Wrapping the vase carefully in bubble-wrap for the taxi ride to the event, Mary Jane looked forward to spending time watching the appraisers with other hopefuls. She had splurged out and had her hair done and paid special attention to her make-up, she also hoped she might get a few seconds on camera. It would be a great opportunity to have family and friends around when the segment aired and make a bit of a party of it.

There was a long line of people waiting to show off their treasures, and the vase was very heavy by the time she got to the head of the queue. In fact she had almost decided to abandon the quest and go and park herself on a handy bench with a cup of coffee from the mobile café, when she was invited to sit down at a table with a young man in a smart suit.

At first tongue tied, Mary Jane launched into the tale of buying the vase and how she didn’t think it was worth anything, but it was so attractive she could not resist bringing it along. The young man whose name was Alistair according to his name tag, smiled and nodded in the right places before holding his arms out for the said item. He examined the bottom of the vase and ran his fingers over the decoration, peering inside to check for damage.

Asking her to wait for a moment, he headed off to confer with an older man standing by a linen covered table. The vase was examined thoroughly again and the older man nodded.
Alistair returned and came around to Mary Jane’s side of the table.

‘Would you like to come with me Mrs Brown, our expert would like to have a word with you.’

Three months later the screening of show filmed in the town was scheduled to be aired. Mary Jane invited her two sons and their wives, her three sisters and their husbands to come around for tea followed by the screening. She had only told them she had been at the event and they might catch sight of her briefly. She wished her husband Donald could have been alive to see her moment of fame, but she hoped he would have been proud of her for putting herself forward.

Everybody sat in front of the television in the front room with added chairs taken from around the dining table. Mary Jane brought through some bottles of wine and bowls of crisps and everyone eagerly waited for the show to begin. She sat back and sipped a very nice glass of red wine her son Michael had brought with him and smiled to herself as the introductory music began to play.

After the show finished there was a stunned silence in the room and all eyes turned to look at Mary Jane, who smiled back at them.

‘How much money did he say the vase was worth again Mum?’ Michael looked ashen faced.

‘£500,000, but in fact at auction it made £900,000 as a Chinese buyer bought it for his collection.’

The room erupted with everyone trying to talk at once, until Mary Jane raised her hand in the air and shouted at them to be quiet.

‘I have given half of the proceeds to the charity shop where I bought the vase which they were thrilled about. She laughed. ‘I think they will be making more of an effort to check the worth of the items they receive in future.’

‘I have invested £200,000 in a pension fund recommended by my bank manager, which will provide for me for the rest of my life. I have some money now in the bank to pay for extras such as holidays and family celebrations.

She went around to her two sons and her sisters and handed them an envelope which they opened eagerly and gasped when they each saw a cheque for £25,000.

‘You will need to pay some tax I expect; so don’t spend it all at once!’

They all laughed and took their turns in hugging her leaving her rosy cheeked and happy.

More than anything Mary Jane felt a great sense of satisfaction at the result of her £5 investment. She felt she had honoured the memory of the original owner of the vase, provided for her family and now had plenty of cash in the bank. She was determined to enjoy life to the full, including scouring the local charity shops for more bargains.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Books

One of the reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Jun 02, 2021 Colleen Chesebro rated it five stars it was amazing

Short story and poetry anthologies are all the rage now, and Sally Cronin’s “Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries” does not disappoint. This eclectic mix takes the reader through a gambit of feelings that revolve around the themes of love, loss, humor, revenge, and life’s second chances.

A few of these tales brought tears to my eyes, such as “Long Lost Love,” which tells the story of Tom and Elaine, a pregnancy, and a visit from beyond the grave. However, the poetry is as exceptional as the short stories. The butterfly cinquain, “Ritual of Mehndi,” shares a glimpse into the traditional wedding custom of painting symbols in henna on the bride’s hands.

This author is known for an empathetic approach to her writing. She writes what she senses, sharing the ups and downs of her characters with love and compassion. A true storyteller, Sally Cronin’s stories will leave you wanting more feel-good moments

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads

My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Round Up – December 26th – January 2nd 2022 – New Schedule, Starship, NY Party, Shortstories, Reviews, Bloggers and Funnies

Welcome to the round up of posts bridging the gap between 2021 and 2022…

Happy New Year and wishing us all a healthy, wealthy and love filled year whatever life and opportunistic pathogens throw at us.

We had a quiet Christmas and New Year with plenty of movies, good food and the occasional glass of cheer. As with most countries there has been an avalanche of cases here topping 23,000 yesterday, which for a country with only 5 million people.. is high. Thankfully the trend of deaths associated with Omicron is lower than previous variants and there is evidence from other countries such as South Africa that it comes in fast and furious and then burns itself out… Fingers crossed it is its last attempt to infect the world and we see a more positive outcome in 2022.

We have not made resolutions for many years but we have made plans. To redecorate the house and put in the market by the summer. Find a new home further down the south east coast of Ireland, possibly between Wexford and Waterford. And once moved it would be good to be able to travel a little before coming back to settle down with a new fur baby.

Flexibility and adaptability have to be built in to those plans, but that is something we are prepared for.  And there is also time allocated for me to finish some of my writing projects and read more books in 2022.

As always I have had help this week between Christmas and New Year by much appreciated friends and collaborators – William Price King, Debby Gies and Malcolm Allen.

In 2022 William and I will continue with The Breakfast Show on Tuesdays… and I am also sharing updated posts from William’s two series – Jazz Icons and Music Greats on Fridays over the year.

D.G. Kaye’s Travel Column Rewind begins tomorrow morning with updates on travel restrictions for all the countries featured, which are open for tourism.

Carol Taylor and I will reshare the posts Cook from Scratch to prevent Deficiency from this Wednesday.

The Health Column returns on Thursday with the series The Gentle Detox to get you into 2022 in good shape.

The new Smorgasbord Bookshelf kicks off with two new releases during the week and the new series of Meet the Authors begins on the 10th.

There will be afternoon videos, some funnies, short stories and a blogger daily.

I hope you will enjoy the new schedule and join us when you have the time. As always I am so appreciative of your support

On with the show

Chart Hits 1985 Part One – Sade, Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis & The News, Jefferson Starship

appy New Year 2022 – Music to get the party started – hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, ABBA, Swing

Short Story – Technology – The Weekly Shop

Short Story – Technology – DNA

The new Smorgasbord Bookshelf of personally recommended authors and their books

#NorthernIreland #Thriller #Romance – Stones Corner Turmoil by Jane Buckley

#Children’s – Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale by Bette A. Stevens

#Contemporary Anne Goodwin, #Romance Jan Sikes, #Romance Staci Troilo, #Shortstories Mae Clair, #Thriller Jane Buckley

#Funnies The Story Reading Ape, #Bookreviews Terry Tyler, #Christmas Carol Taylor, #Donation Jennie Fitzkee, #Videos D. G. Kaye, #Farewell to a friend.

January 2nd 2022 – #Pinenuts Carol Taylor, #Reviews Gwen Plano, Colleen Chesebro, Jan Sikes, #Spotlight C.S. Boyack

Head over to find out more about the health benefits of laughter and some funnies to get you started: Laughter the best Medicine 2022

December 28th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Balance and Remote Controls…

December 30th 2021 – Malcolm Allen Rewind – E-Reader and Pole Dancing


Thanks for joining me during this week of fesitivites and wishing you a very healthy, happy and wealthy 2022….

Smorgasbord Podcast – Short Stories – Grace by Sally Cronin

Welcome to the podcast and the first of the short stories I have recorded for over Christmas. I hope you will enjoy.


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed… Sally.


Smorgasbord Short Stories Rewind – What’s in a Name? – Zoe – Looking to the Future by Sally Cronin

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

I hope that those of you who read the stories before will not mind the rewind

Zoe – Looking to the Future

Madame Zoe looked at the screen in front of her and watched the teenage girl in the waiting room. She was her next client and looked nervous; as many did who came to consult the renowned fortune teller, in her little oasis in the back streets of the town.

These few minutes observing her next client were important before meeting them for the first time. Were they nervous, excited, and worried? That gave her some clues as to what direction their consultation might go. Added to the extensive report that her assistant Marjorie had compiled, this allowed Madame Zoe to tailor her reading to each specific client needs with outstanding results.

For example the young woman waiting for her fortune and fate to be revealed was called Sandra Johnson, and was twenty years old. She worked at a solicitor’s office in the main street, and was currently in a relationship with a young mechanic called Steve. Unfortunately this union of three years was going through a tough patch, as Steve had been fooling around with Tracy; one of Sandra’s closest friends.

Since her 18th birthday, the girl had been trying to find her birth mother. Unfortunately, it would appear that the official agency were finding it difficult to track her down, to get consent to reveal her whereabouts, to her long lost daughter. All that the girl had to go on was her mother’s name, which was Linda Watkins, and that she had been 16 years old at the time of her birth. Sandra had been adopted very soon after this and was brought up by her new parents in a village a few miles away. Seemingly this had been a very happy arrangement, but unfortunately her adoptive mother had died recently; obviously caused much sadness. And probably prompting Sandra’s search for her birth mother.

Madame Zoe adjusted her turban and creamed her hands with Shea butter; one of her little indulgences. When you are holding the hands of others, in an attempt to read their futures, it was important that your own looked their best. Sandra had booked a half-hour appointment. This length of time warranted the assistance of the crystal ball, currently residing on its gold trestle beneath a blue silk square.

What the client would not be able to see however, was the discreet screen resting on Madame Zoe’s knees, with all the relevant information that she needed to provide a satisfying and remarkable experience for this young woman.

At the tinkle of the bell over the inner door, Marjorie, who had been wafting incense across the waiting room, crossed over to Sandra and offered her hand. The girl stood and looked around nervously, as if about to bolt for the street door, but at Marjorie’s insistence she followed her through into the inner sanctum. There she was invited to take the chair across from Madame Zoe, whose hands stretched across the blue velvet cloth, palms upward in welcome.

‘Hello my dear,’ the gentle and soothing tones caused Sandra to straighten up in her chair. Zoe extended her well-buttered hand; taking the girl’s thin and cold palm in hers.

‘I understand that you seek some answers to very important questions today, but I would like to spend a few minutes sharing the thoughts and feelings that I am receiving from you.’ She paused for effect and waited for the girl to respond.

‘Okay, if you feel that is what we should do first.’ Sandra was visibly shaking, and for just a moment, the fortune teller felt a smidgeon of remorse for the scam she was pulling. But business was business and she had her reputation for accuracy to uphold.

‘My dear, I feel that you are going through a difficult time in your love life, and I see the letter S seems to be on your mind. Do you know someone with a name that begins with S?’

Sandra gasped and nodded her head in bemused agreement.

‘Sadly, I feel that this person has behaved very badly, and that the relationship has come to an end. Would I be right about that?’

Again the girl nodded and Zoe smiled sweetly as she stroked the back of her hand.

For a moment or two Madame Zoe stared intently into Sandra’s palm and then groaned theatrically.

‘Ah, yes I see that you have been betrayed by a friend whose name begins with a J… No wait… I am wrong it is a T.

There was a satisfying gasp at the mention of the letter T and it was clear that there was another relationship that was over.

‘I also feel that you work in a place that might be involved in legal matters,’ she held up one finger of her free hand to prevent any interruption.

‘Perhaps a police station, no don’t tell me… I think it might be a solicitor’s office, am I correct?’

By this time Sandra was hooked and it was now time to reveal most important element of today’s reading.

Claiming back her hand from the girl, Zoe lifted the blue silk square to reveal the glass orb beneath. Sandra’s eyes were riveted on this piece of fortune telling magic that she had been told about by some of her girlfriends. They had assured her that Madame Zoe seemed to have a window into their lives and had seen many things that they had only confided in to friends. They had assured her they always left their appointments safe in the knowledge that love would find them, and fortune was theirs for the taking..

After a few minutes of silence as Madame Zoe sought to pad out the half hour, she raised a solemn face to stare into the wide-eyed Sandra’s face.

Now confident that she had the girls complete attention, she delivered her next question in a fateful tone.

‘My dear child, I sense that you seek another, who is not a man but a family member long lost to you.’ You could have heard a pin drop. She continued.

‘There is someone from your past that you have barely met, but you are desperate to reconnect to.’ Both of her hands cradled the crystal ball in front of her as she searched its depths.

‘You look for your mother.’ With that Sandra clasped a hand over her mouth; tears filling her eyes. Absolutely stunned she stared at the exotic creature in front of her.

‘I have her name on the tip of my tongue… Now let me see it begins with an L…Yes that’s right, her name is Linda, is that correct my dear? Sandra nodded eagerly and waited with bated breath for the next pronouncement.

‘I see that this woman has changed her surname more than once, and I see her living in Manchester, in a house with the number 15.’

With this Madame Zoe appeared to go into a trance. Sandra looked on in concern as she desperately waited for the woman to resume her revelations. She was about to interrupt, but Zoe raised her hand in a gesture to remain silent.

Sandra couldn’t see that the mystic in front of her was consulting her hidden screen; waiting while Marjorie typed further information into the computer behind the reception desk.

Finally the silence was broken and with a smile of relief, Madame Zoe announced with a flourish.

‘Your mother’s surname is Baxter and she is looking forward to meeting you very much.’ With that she collapsed against the back of the chair, and smiling weakly at her now very emotional client, waved her away from the table.

Sandra didn’t know whether to hug or kiss this strange looking, all-seeing woman, but sensing that it would be unwelcome, she retreated through the door into the reception area. Marjorie was waiting behind the desk and while Sandra wiped her eyes and composed herself, the assistant prepared the bill for this momentous session.

Without looking at the cost, which was nearly a week’s wages, Sandra handed over her credit card and gratefully tapped in her pin number.

‘Please thank Madame Zoe for me, she is amazing, and I will pass on her information to all my friends… Thank you, thank you.’ With that the smiling girl opened the door to the shop and headed off into her future.

After making sure that Sandra had gone, Marjorie locked the door and put the closed sign up for lunch and headed back into the consulting room. There she found Zoe divested of both turban and wig with her feet up on one of the velvet chairs.

‘Well done Marjorie… all that Facebook chit chat between her and her mates was gold dust, but that was a stroke of genius hacking into the adoption agency. What a coincidence that the girl’s mother had been in touch after their letters finally reached her. The girl should get their message informing her of her mother’s name and address tomorrow and that will really seal the deal.’

Marjorie put two plates down on the table and settled herself into the vacated client’s chair. ‘It will soon be time to put our charges up Mum,’ she smiled across the table as she helped herself to a ham and cheese sandwich.

‘Once the word gets around on Facebook about this latest prediction we are going to be overrun… Tenerife here we come.’

‘Her mother laughed and then shook her head… No… I don’t think so pet… I see Hawaii in our futures.’

©Sally Cronin 2017

One of the reviews for the collection

Mar 19, 2018 D. Peach rated it five stars it was amazing

I read the first volume of What’s in a Name and was eager to give the second a try. Volume 2 is a collection of short stories that picks up when the first ended, covering names starting with K through Z (Kenneth through Zoe). Cronin includes a bonus short story for a collection coming out later in 2018.

This is a quick read that I breezed through in a few hours, sitting outside in the spring sunshine. Many of the stories have older characters, covering a range of topics from heartwarming reunions, grief and loss, recovered dignity, and romantic love beyond the grave. There’s also a bit of happily ever after and match-making, as well as some swindling, and a taste of well-deserved murder! The variety is highly entertaining and kept me engaged throughout.

Cronin is a master storyteller and I recommend this collection (both volumes) to readers of all ages.

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

I hope you will join me again for more stories next time… thanks Sally.