Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Happy New Year’s Eve – 2020 in the rear view mirror by Sally Cronin.


Welcome to a review of the year past and a celebration of the one to come.

I am sure that I don’t need to add anything further about 2020 that has not been said already in the last nine months by millions around the world.  Despite the many challenges during the year due to Covid, Presidential elections and Brexit, there were still some events that brought smiles to our faces and inspired us to do more for others.

Gold Star from Leeds City Council | Aire View Care Home

There are many stars of the year that I want to mention, including of course the front line health care teams who have worked so hard to keep people alive, the delivery drivers who have kept food on the table, the supermarket workers who turned up to work every day. Also the parents who have home schooled their children, which is not an easy task,and the teachers who worked with their students online, also not as simple as it sounds.

A huge thank you has to go to the millions of volunteers who have delivered food, checked on the vulnerable and made phone calls on a regular basis. And to the inspiring who have raised millions to buy PPE or to provide patients in hospital the technology to keep in touch with their families.

And in the spirit of that, here is Sir Tom Moore 100 years old, who was knighted by her Majesty the Queen later in the summer. He went on to raise almost £33 million for the NHS – Courtesy of Forces TV

 

When I was looking for a header for this post, I came across the image at the front of the post thanks to Pixabay.com and it made me smile…

The origin of the expression ‘Gone to the Dogs’ goes back as far as the 1500s, when bad or stale food that was not thought to be suitable for human consumption, was thrown to the dogs. The expression caught on and expanded to include any person or thing that came to a bad end, was ruined, or looked terrible. Source: The Idioms.com

In modern parlance it refers to an institution, organisation, that has failed or a country or a person who has sunk into the depths of immorality or destitution. There are certainly some parallels to be drawn with these definitions of the expression this year.

However, according to various news reports, this year went to the dogs, and other pets who have kept us company during lockdown. Their owners were home from work or school all day to keep them company, exercise was permitted so they could still go on a long daily walk, no doubt there were more treats to be had, as people ate in rather than went out to restaurants, and daytime television enabled more cuddling.

 

Of course dogs took it upon themselves to participate in all the work from home activities sometimes with interesting results.

With the prospect of a vaccine and a return to work at some point in 2021, the animal welfare groups are very concerned that this is going to result in separation anxiety, particularly for dogs. Cats may be quite pleased to get their kingdoms back again!

Whilst dogs have an optimistic outlook on life….

Cats are definitely at the other end of that spectrum….

Travel restrictions meant that many of us had to cancel holidays. We were planning to celebrate our 40th a few weeks earlier in September and booked a wonderful villa on the island of Malta. My two sisters were going to join us and it was an opportunity to revisit old haunts from the two years we lived there over 60 years ago. Of course by June it was clear it would be unsafe to travel and we had to change our plans.. There is always next year.. hopefully.

Some people did manage to get away in the brief window between lockdowns, but of course other countries also have strict quarantine restrictions and most require a mask to be worn at all times. Unfortunately this does not lead to flattering holiday snaps.

There is no doubt that some of the changes we have made to our lifestyles and working environments will remain in place as we become used to the necessity to be more careful in our interaction with each other. Hopefully, for all the small businesses such as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and bookstores of course, it will become possible to enjoy their services again.

I know my shopping methods have changed and I have gone from a ‘happy browser‘ to a ‘straight in and straight out with what I need’ kinda gal. I am buying more online now but it is not the same. Hopefully I can return to my former shopping persona in the near future.

What I have enjoyed online, is the increased interaction with so many in our writing community who have offered support, a kind word, and a sharing of humour. That is definitely something I hope will continue into 2021 and beyond.  For the millions who have been isolated, social media, video calls and blogging have been an essential lifeline.

On that note….thank you so much for dropping in today and I wish you an amazing New Year’s Eve and all that you wish for in 2021. I look forward to sharing the next year with you.

To get your party started here is Boney M with the traditional New Year’s Eve song…

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 6th – 12th December 2020 – New Book, International Carols, Foods XYZ and a Christmas Party with pets.


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

What’s coming up in the next two weeks.

I cannot believe that it is the Winter Solstice and the shortest day in 9 days time. On the one hand there is a sense of relief that this year is nearly over… and a wary expectation that 2021 is going to be better.

Whilst I could sit and philosophise all day long… there are things to be done to make sure this year ends with a few projects completed so I can move on fresh in the New Year.

In the last week I scheduled all the Christmas Book Fairs so they would be finished in time for Christmas and they will go out daily until the 23rd of December. I have also scheduled an updated version of The Twelve Days of Christmas from the 14th December and the Christmas party this weekend and next.. and a few surprises along the way.

I have a few spaces left for reblogs and some book reviews I intend to post in time for readers to buy the books but the rest of the time I will be working on the blog and Cafe and Bookstore revamp, and the new columns going out in 2021.

William Price King will be here co-presenting The Breakfast Show every Tuesday, with hits from 1960 to 1985, special dates of note during the years we feature and a guest or two along the way.

D.G. Kaye will be continuing with her popular Relationship Column and keeping us motivated to improve our interactions with others.

Carol Taylor will be joining us every four weeks with a new column looking at how we can source, prepare, cook and recycle food in a sustainable way to help the environment.

For me personally it is a great week as my latest short story collection went live yesterday and you can find out more about it in my promotion post earlier today.

 

#Shortstories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet by Sally Cronin

The first of the Christmas Parties has gone out this morning and there is one tomorrow and two next weekend.

Guess who owns which pets… answers in the post

Invite a pet with guests – Ann Patras, Jemima Pett, John Howell, Jo Elizabeth Pinto and Darlene Foster

Aretha Franklin The 1970s

Carols from around the World – #Germany, #Greece and #France

-December 2020 – Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words

– A – Z of Food -X,Y,Z for Xawaash Spice, Yams and Zabaglione.

Italian Spritz Cocktail made with Aperol

SPRITZ: the most popular Italian cocktail

Past Book Reviews 2019 – Vikings: Taken (The Great Heathen Army series Book 1 by Ceri Bladen

#Romance – Perfectly Imperfect by Jacquie Biggar

February 1986 – Birthday party and new car by Sally Cronin

#Cats Pamela S. Wight, #Bears Sue Wickstead, #Chocolate Robbie and Michael Cheadle,#Travel Darlene Foster #Horses Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

#Wizard Kevin Cooper, #Farm D.L. Finn, #Ghosts Emily-Jane Hills Orford

#PoetryCollections – Geoff Le Pard, Denise O’Hagan, Balroop Singh

Thriller Gwen M. Plano, Reviews -#Memoir Liesbet Collaert, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Shortstories Janice Spina

#ScienceFiction A.C. Flory, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Life Sally Cronin, #Fairies Colleen M. Chesebro

Fantasy Jean Lee, Reviews #Metaphysical Sue Vincent and Stuart France, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Contemporary Sian Turner

New Book #Memoir Patty Fletcher, Reviews #Historical Amy M. Reade, #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Memoir Pete Springer

Christmas Archives – #ShortStory – The Snow Globe by D. Wallace Peach

Making a Gingerbread Chapel by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

#Christmas Holiday Wishes – My Christmas Wish by D.G. Kaye

Christmas Laughter Lines – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – December 8th 2020

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – December 10th 2020 -Quarantine Coffee and Wishes

December 11th 2020 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp – Tier 2 and Decorations.

 

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for all your support. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I hope you will join me again next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Archives -#Christmas Holiday Wishes – My Christmas Wish by D.G. Kaye


Over the last seven years there have been some amazing guests in the run up to Christmas who have shared stories about their own memories of this time of year or their festive fiction. In the next four weeks I will be repeating some of those posts, updated with the authors recent books and reviews.

D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies was a guest here in 2014 and never left… thank goodness, with the Travel Column, Relationships and co-presenting the Laughter Lines, combined with daily support, Smorgasbord would not be the same without her. In this post originally from 2017, Debby shares her thoughts about the celebration of Christmas and her wish for us all. Still very relevant today.

Christmas Holiday Wishes – My Christmas Wish by D.G. Kaye

I’d like to take this time to wish all of my friends here a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season. Yes, I love saying Merry Christmas, and with the world full of political correctness, just about everything that’s said seems to be getting some sort of scrutinizing, but there are just some phrases that remain a part of us.

I’m not of the Catholic or Christian faith, but since childhood, I was smitten with the magic of Christmas. Sure, I was captivated by the glistening of Christmas lights on the city streets, and I yearned for a Christmas tree to have in my home in all its shining glory, but Christmas time is so much more than lights and presents.

Christmas for me is a time to remember the importance of friends and family, a time to reflect on the year about to pass. It’s also a time where I miss loved ones who have passed, just a little bit more, and most of all, a time to remember gratitude.

The world seems to be in such a volatile state these days. There is much doubt and faith, many questions unanswered, too much violence, and greed. My wish is that mankind could revisit goodness, kindness, and compassion, and remember to be grateful for some of life’s most mundane things we so often take for granted.

I’m remembering my loss of my loved ones, and with that in mind, it serves to remind me just how precious life is. I’ve watched suffering, and I’ve been stunned at how in a moment’s notice a loved one can be snatched from our lives, sometimes even without warning, without a sign of illness. These types of reminders show us how quickly life can turn on a dime.

Let us remember our lost loved ones by holding them dear in our hearts, and remember the love we hold for those who are all here with us now. Let us find joy in our hearts for every little thing we have, and remember gratitude for every single day we are gifted with another day of living.

If we can all learn to let go of some of the hurt and uncertainties that dwell within us and turn that into forgiveness and hope, maybe as a unified chain of positivity, we can help to make the world a better place. This is my Christmas wish.

Wishing you all happiness and health and peace for now, and for all the years to come.

©D.G. Kaye 2016

Debby has chosen Celine Dion singing “O Holy Night” to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Recently Debby received another lovely review for her memoir – Words We Carry

About the book

“I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?
D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.
Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.

A recent review for the book

Nov 06, 2020 D. Peach rated it Five Stars

D. G. Kaye shares the true story of her growth from a child with poor self-esteem into a confident woman who changed her thinking, took responsibility for her relationships, and discovered happiness. Though she shares her personal experiences, many of her observations are common to other women, and there are lessons to be gleaned from her advice.

The book is divided into two sections: Appearance and Relationships. The focus of the appearance section is on boosting self-esteem by paying attention to physical appearance. It isn’t about being beautiful, but about feeling beautiful and investing energy into clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup that enhance a woman’s strengths and make her feel attractive. Chronic lazy dressers like me may not relate to Kaye’s love of shoes and big hair, but there’s a lot of humor in this section that kept me smiling.

Section Two, Relationships, was the most meaningful to me as it opened a discussion of the deeper issues that contribute to low self-esteem, as well as the vicious cycles that can lead to isolation, depression, and abuse. The author maintains that healthy self-esteem is essential to healthy relationships of all kinds. She provides strategies for evaluating relationships honestly, changing patterns, and taking control of choices.

Words We Carry is part memoir/part self-help. Recommended for women who are struggling with feelings of low self-esteem and want to make a positive change in their relationships and live

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

Other books by D.G. Kaye

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon USAndAmazon UKBlogD.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads –  Twitter:@pokercubster

If you are a regular visitor you will have met Debby before as a contributor writing The Travel Column for two years and now The Realm of Relationships 2020. Debby also co-hosts the Laughter Lines twice a week.

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I know Debby would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Archives – The 13 Trolls of Christmas! by Carol Taylor


Over the last seven years there have been some amazing guests in the run up to Christmas who have shared stories about their own memories of this time of year or their festive fiction. In the next four weeks I will be repeating some of those posts, updated with the authors recent books and reviews.

If you are a regular to the blog you will have enjoyed the contributions by Carol Taylor. Carol lives in Thailand where she ran a successful catering business and now continues to pass on her knowledge via her blog. She has written the amazing Food and Cookery Column for the last three years. Our repertoire of recipes and knowledge about culinary terms has expanded along with our waistlines. If you click on Carol’s name it will take you to her blog where you will find more food, conservation, whimsy and music.  Excited that Carol will be writing a column for us again in 2021 and we will tell you more about that in the New Year.

In 2017 Carol let me share one of her entertaining Christmas posts that I am sure you will enjoy.

The 13 Trolls of Christmas! by Carol Taylor

What fun..We all love to regale our children and grandchildren with tales from Christmas past…most real, some imagined and we all…Come On…Admit it!

We have all stooped to bribery, corruption or just plain tall tales to make the kiddiwinks BEHAVE!

Forget boring advent calendars….

Icelandic parents enthral their children (and scare) them into being good with tales of the Ogress living in the Icelandic mountains.

She is one scary Mumma, described as half troll/animal and the mother of 13 naughty boys known as the “Yule Lads”. Grýla lives in the mountains with her husband, her thirteen children and a black cat.

And that cat is pretty scary too….

Old Icelandic folklore states that every Icelander must receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas or they will find themselves in mortal danger. An enormous black cat prowls Iceland on Christmas Eve and eats anyone who doesn’t follow this simple rule. This obnoxious feline is known as the Christmas Cat.

The legend goes that every Christmas, Grýla and her sons come down from the mountains: Grýla in search of naughty children to boil in her cauldron and the boys in search of mischief. She can only capture children who misbehave but those who say sorry must be released.

Wow….that story will get the kiddies hiding under the bed covers.

The husband is not as wicked as her… but a bone-idle, lazy slob.

The boys aka “The Yule” lads are naughty and mischievous and have wonderful names…Oh, what stories you could weave….and what fun you could inject into your stories.

And what funny names they have.. Spoon- Licker is tall and thin. He steals unwashed spoons, which he licks clean. and Door- Slammer well as the name implies…. Slams doors which are kept ajar at night, keeping people awake.

Icelandic children place a shoe in their bedroom window each evening in the 13 days before Christmas. Every night one Yuletide lad visits, leaving sweets and small gifts or rotting potatoes(Yuk), depending on how a child has behaved on that day.

I think It’s much better than a boring advent calendar, just think of the tales you can weave and what fun you and the kids could have and such a cool way to keep the little darlings in check.

How about Sausage -swiper he hides in the rafters to snatch sausages which are hung up for smoking.

Nothing is safe from these wicked boys…

What tales do you tell your children?

I was really lucky…because my youngest believed in Santa Claus until she was about 13 years old…she was much ridiculed by her peers but stood her ground and insisted that she had seen Santa.

Well, she had….She was 3 yrs old and one of my son’s friends asked if he could ( while dressed) up as Santa take a little present upstairs and put it in Laurens stocking.

He was told by me in no uncertain terms ” Do NOT wake her up”

Well, she did wake up..but the clever boy put his fingers to his lips and told her to shhhhhh and go back to sleep or I can’t leave your presents.

Which she did, from that Christmas onwards for many years she was insistent to all and sundry when they laughed and told her Santa didn’t exist…..That she knew he did because she had seen him…so thank you Adam.for keeping a little girls dreams alive!

I wish I had known about the 13 trolls though….

©CarolTaylor 2016

Thanks to Carol for putting the Scary into Christmas!  And here is her chosen piece of music…Silent Night sung by the Winchester Cathedral Choir.

 

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

Thanks for dropping by today and I know Carol would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Archives – #WWII – My Welsh Christmases by Joy Lennick


Over the last seven years there have been some amazing guests in the run up to Christmas who have shared stories about their own memories of this time of year or their festive fiction. In the next four weeks I will be repeating some of those posts, updated with the authors recent books and reviews.

My apologies to Joy as her post should have gone out Monday but the blog administrator!!! had a senior moment..

Today my guest is the witty and entertaining Joy Lennick who wrote a memoir, My Gentle War about her evacuation to Wales during World War II.. This is her recollection of Christmas during that time, and a recent review for the book.

My Welsh Christmases by Joy Lennick.

With no yard-stick to measure my early life and experiences, which were often common-place and repetitive, while happy, when thrust into a different, alien, while fascinating world, all the nuances and happenings sketched themselves more deeply on my mind.

At seven, I had never been in a war before and my innocence painted a different picture to the reality.

Sometimes, I had played ‘war games’ with my two brothers, whereby we shot at each other with brightly coloured lead soldiers, which could be ‘resuscitated’ at will, despite their wounded cries…on a grey, cardboard fort.

As Dad wrote in his diary: September. We are at war with Germany; 9th Leave. Arrived Dagenham at 12.50 am. Left for Merthyr Tydfil at 3.40 pm with Lila and the kiddies until Monday 12th.And then?

As far as we were concerned, we were going on holiday. War was just a three lettered word and Hitler a faceless, far-flung baddie, although we were – later – to ridicule and imitate his goose-step and salute in the school playground-after we saw him in newsreels. But, whatever was happening abroad, we were consumed by excitement. Steam train rides were, after all, a rarity, and the prospect of living on a mountain appealed after pancake-flat Dagenham. (The only frightening thing, talk of a Welsh dragon…)

Separation from our parents was a shock, softened by our aunt Sal’s kindness and cooking…And I found further solace by joining the library and avidly reading Brothers Grimm’s lurid tales, and stories by Hans Christian Anderson, plus countless other authors by candlelight. It was the start of an endless love affair with reading, and eventually writing.
I wrote a memoir about my early life which covers more of the above, but as this is about Christmas, I’ll concentrate on that part of the book, and what children don’t get excited about that special time of the year?!

Although we had seen snow before, we had never seen ‘Welsh’ snow…and, believe it or not, we found it an adventure to practically dig our way through to the outside loo – at first that is!! (Wiping our bots on the Merthyr Express appalled but we soon got used to it…)
Letters informed us that Dad had joined his unit in France (No guns fired…yet!) he wrote, and Mum joined us for the Christmas period.

“Young enough to become overheated at the thought of what the 25th would bring, Terry, Bryan and I spent hours making colourful paper chains and putting up bells, holly and mistletoe, with the grown-ups assistance. When asked to Pop to Powell’s for some sugar, by Aunt Sal, I exited at speed, for I truly delighted in entering his grocer’s shop (a few door down) – my arrival signaled by a bell. My nose was in absolute heaven amid the mingling aromas of fruit: glace and dried, a cornucopia of biscuits displayed in tilted tins with glass tops revealing a mouth-watering selection: temptresses all…iced gems, Garibaldi, custard creams and chocolate fingers, to name but four favourites. Then there were jars upon jars of varied sweets: lemon sherbert dabs which made you cough, strawberry cushions and aniseed balls (which gave the impression you were suffering from mumps), et al. The piece de resistance was gold and silver embossed boxes of ’luxury’ (Christmas) chocolates, embellished with huge scarlet satin ribbon bows, high up on the shelf away from prying fingers….Mr. Powell’s shop was a proboscis paradise and I enjoyed watching him pat huge mounds of butter with fancy, grooved wooden ‘bats.’ I stayed in his shop far too long and Aunt Sal would sometimes scold: Dew, where’ve you been? Timbuktu?

Christmas puddings bubbled under their white cloth covers in the hot oven, and I loved helping Mum place tiny silver balls, miniature holly and Santa Claus decorations on the skating rink surface of the iced cake. Everything was home-made then. We excitedly received parcels from our kind aunts, the contents of which were secreted away until that magical morning, which didn’t disappoint….We children were kept quiet with our gifts: cars and puzzles for the boys, a doll’s cot with enviable bedding, a doll and book for me. Mum said it would be perfect if Dad could have been there and grew pensive, but Uncle Bryn soon had her laughing again.”

We children, of course, woke early on that special day and drew our initials in the frosted glass of the window before rushing back to the warmth of our cocoon, grabbing our net stockings en route. Usually bought in the market or Woolworths, they contained all sorts of treasures. Always present was a silver-wrapped Clementine and a piece of coal for luck, a comic, tin whistle or flute, ‘mock’ cigarettes – which we smoked with panache…and a miniature chocolate bar collection (which gradually dwindled as rationing took hold!) Sometimes, there was a tiny, celluloid doll with garish feathers stuck to her extremities for me and small cars/trucks/aeroplanes for the boys. Our main present(s (when relatives were generous) were downstairs.

We didn’t always have a Christmas tree that I recall. God, and Jesus, played vital roles in early Christmases and we attended various thanksgiving concerts over the years in Chapel and Seion. I prayed each night: For the poor children in Poland! as instructed by Mum and added one for: My Daddy, please send him home and also end the war. But, of course, he did no such thing and I wondered if he was Having tea with Lizzie the Bogie who was a fortune-teller and lived up the Bogie Road. She used to say odd things, like – to her only son: who liked swimming in the lake when the weather was fine: You come ‘ome drowned and I’ll bloody-well kill yew!

Sadly. our second Christmas in Wales was marked by two tragedies. My dear Uncle Bernard, aged twenty-two (Dad’s youngest brother), a navigator in the Royal Air Force, flying somewhere over the Atlantic as an escort, was reported missing and never did come home. And Mum’s second cousin, Islwyn – an only child – was killed in Nant-Y-Ffinn mine nearby, when a ton of coal fell, killing him instantly. He wasn’t even eighteen-years-old. Mum said: What with Uncle Bernard missing and cousin Islwyn dead, as well as your Dad being in France, it’s the worst Christmas I can ever remember. And, although us children were mainly in an ‘ignorant bubble,’ I can recall sobbing into my pillow for Uncle Bernard, and Islwyn had been so full of beans, had a great singing voice and was teaching me the Time Step. The whole mountain mourned his loss. I knew what Mum meant when she said: Coal costs far more than what we pay the coal-man at the door! .

Fortunately, war’s end, and our immediate family emerged Stirred but not too shaken! and most of our later Christmases are recalled for happier reasons. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la!

©Joy Lennick

My Gentle War a memoir, is about my paternal and maternal families and some of my experiences as an evacuee, especially to Wales, which still owns a chunk of my heart! Some of my Dad’s diary entries are included as they were such a contrast to mine!

It is the story of a young girl and her family. Ripped away from the home she loved, from her friends, and familiar surroundings, she spends her formative years in the comparative safety of the Welsh Valleys. With the World at War, and her father sent to the battlefields of Europe, her war is fought holding back tears whilst waiting for news of her father, never knowing whether she will see him again. This is the story of a young girl learning to live a new life, holding her family together in unfamiliar surroundings, all the while dreaming of the father that was forced to leave her. My Gentle War is Joy’s story.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach5.0 out of 5 stars A child’s memories of Wales during WWII  Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2020

This memoir focuses primarily on the years 1939 through 1941 when the author was 9-11 years old, a child living in Wales with her younger brothers during WWII. The children were sent to Wales to escape the more dangerous areas around London.

This isn’t a harsh story. It’s a recounting of life from the perspective of a child and is, therefore, full of fun and imagination and resilience. There are “ear-wigging” glimpses into the adult world, news of the war, and letters from the author’s dad who was serving in France. The sad and confusing realities of war surely intrude on daily life, but the focus is on friends and relatives, memorable gatherings and events. There are new trousers, dance performances, and games of truth or dare!

Lennick’s writing is witty and conversational, and she includes a handful of poems commemorating particular memories. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the brief jump ahead at the end to the conclusion of the war. The feeling of joy is palpable in the pages.

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

Also by Joy Lennick

Read the reviews and by the books : Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Joy : Goodreads – Blog: Joy Lennick at WordPressTwitter: @LennickJoy

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Thanks for dropping in today and I know that Joy would love your feedback… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Archives – Christmas at the House of 1,000 Santas by Marcia Meara


Over the last seven years there have been some amazing guests in the run up to Christmas who have shared stories about their own memories of this time of year or their festive fiction. In the next four weeks I will be repeating some of those posts, updated with the authors recent books and reviews.

You might be surprised to know that Marcia Meara is a Christmas fanatic… especially when it comes to trees and her collection of Santas.. some of which are 70 years old.. But, seeing is believing and here is just a handful of photos in evidence.

More Christmas at the House of 1,000 Santas by Marcia Meara

Okay, for those of you interested in such things…few though you may be…here’s another peek at what a 50-year collection of Santas looks like. Because I didn’t get everything put out this year, thanks to an unrelenting editing deadline, these pictures were taken 3 Christmases (and a dozen or so Santas) ago. Things are pretty much the same, except for a bit less this year, because…as I mentioned…deadline! Hope this puts you in the holiday spirit…or makes you want to avert your eyes. Whichever makes you happier.

A full-length photo of my six-foot tall Santa, with no lights out on the tree this time.

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My library tree, with St. Nicholas on top.

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The Pass through from the library to the kitchen and the Holly Jolly Santa shelf.

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On the kitchen side, my collection of miniature Santas, one of which is over 70 years old.

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And last, a blurry overview of the family room. If you prefer warm, traditional, and cozy, this is the spot. (Over 50 Santas on that mantel, btw.) If you like frosty snowmen and icicles, the living room’s where you’d want to hang out. Me, I love both, and have room for both now, so, what the heck. I’m not a less is more kinda person. In fact, I’m pretty sure more is more, especially at Christmas!

And speaking of Christmas, my sincere and happiest wishes to all of you. May you have the best one, EVER!

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©Marcia Meara 2014

Marcia has selected this piece of festive music to share with you. George Winston with Carol of the Bells

I have been enjoying the Wake-Robin Ridge series by Marcia this last few months and I am sharing my review from October for book three – Harbinger

About the book

Continuing in the tradition of Wake-Robin Ridge and A Boy Named Rabbit, Marcia Meara’s North Carolina mountain series takes a shivery turn with the Appalachian Legend of Ol’ Shuck, the Harbinger of Death.

“. . . he felt the wet slide of the dog’s burning hot tongue on his face, and the scrape of its razor sharp teeth against the top of his head. A white-hot agony of crushing pain followed, as the jaws began to close.”

The wine-red trillium that carpets the forests of the North Carolina Mountains is considered a welcome harbinger of spring—but not all such omens are happy ones. An Appalachian legend claims the Black Dog, or Ol’ Shuck, as he’s often called, is a harbinger of death. If you see him, you or someone you know is going to die.

But what happens when Ol’ Shuck starts coming for you in your dreams? Nightmares of epic proportions haunt the deacon of the Light of Grace Baptist Church, and bring terror into the lives of everyone around him. Even MacKenzie Cole and his adopted son, Rabbit, find themselves pulled into danger.

When Sheriff Raleigh Wardell asks Mac and Rabbit to help him solve a twenty-year-old cold case, Rabbit’s visions of a little girl lost set them on a path that soon collides with that of a desperate man being slowly driven mad by guilt.

As Rabbit’s gift of the Sight grows ever more powerful, his commitment to those who seek justice grows as well, even when their pleas come from beyond the grave.

My 5 star review for the book October 20th 2020

Another lovely chapter in the life of Rabbit as he adapts to life as the adopted son of Mac and Sarah and brother to baby Branna. This magical little boy is an old soul with a special gift that sometimes shakes him to the core. He feels and sees people and events that others cannot even conceive of, and it is a heavy burden at times. But Rabbit feels obligated to do what he can to help other people.

In this new case that the local sheriff has had on his desk for twenty years, Rabbit and Mac partner up to make the best use of modern technology and the boy’s unique gift. The mystery that surrounds the disappearance of a young girl twenty years before haunts both the sheriff and her family, and they are all looking for closure.

There is also a dark soul who is haunted by the mythical Ol’ Shuck, a large black dog that prowls the outer edges of sanity looking for an opportunity to pounce. Secrets are about to be exposed and lives torn apart by the actions of the past and Rabbit and Mac are caught right in the middle of the events.

Beautifully written as always; the author draws us in and reinforces the connection readers have made to Rabbit and his family in the previous two books. New characters expand the circle of family and friends, and others involved in the life and death struggle in this particular book, are interesting and stand both sides of good and evil.

I suggest you read books one and two of the series and I can recommend the series to readers who enjoy paranormal, supernatural mysteries and thrillers.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Marcia Meara on: Goodreads – Blog:Marcia Meara WritesTwitter: @MarciaMeara

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

 

Thank you for dropping by today and I know that Marcia would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.