Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 2nd – 8th August 2020 – Music, Octopus and Oysters, Dog Stories, Waterford, Book Reviews, Children’s books and funnies.


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

It is finally a lovely sunny day and I intend to take full advantage and be out in the garden most of the day.

I have finally given myself a very good talking to and put into action a long overdue plan this week. It involves books and reviews and my unsuccessful efforts to whittle my TBR list down effectively. I was only reading at night and it was five pages and then lights out so to speak. Something needed to be done.

I now have a mandatory reading hour in the afternoon either in the garden or in our sitting room if the weather is not warm enough. I have finished two books this week instead of the usual one, and I feel far less guilty about the books sitting their so patiently waiting for my attention.

I am delighted that the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore is going well with 5 new authors joining and you will meet them in promotions over the next week. One of the problems for children’s authors, especially with picture books for younger children, is getting reviews.  In part because many children’s books are given as gifts and parents may feel that there is no where for them to share a review if they have not bought from Amazon or other book sellers online.

This is why it is important to have a Goodreads author page as a Children’s author so that reviews can be posted worldwide and without having been bought.

Having said that, if the parents or grandparents don’t know that they can put a review on Goodreads, it is not as useful as it might be.

If you are an author of children’s books could I suggest that at the back of your books you put a short note asking for reviews and providing the link to https://www.goodreads.com/ and explaining that it is also a wonderful resource for other children’s books, often at special prices.

In the coming weeks I am going to be putting together some specific children’s book promotions to encourage reviews and it would be great if you help spread the word.  This includes a children’s review watering hole…where even if the books are not in the Children’s Cafe and Bookstore, reviews can be shared and I will add the blurb and the links to the books. The promotion post for this new series is scheduled for Tuesday at 18.00 UK time.

I cannot imagine my life without books and my love of reading began at age four. It is such an important skill to have in life and children’s authors deserve all the support we can give them.

And on the subject of reviews...I was delighted this afternoon to receive a wonderful 5* review from Marjorie Mallon for Life’s Rich Tapestry..If you have time I would be so pleased if you would head over and read in full..thanks Sally.

Marjorie Mallon Review Life’s Rich Tapestry

Here are the posts from the week and as always a huge thank you to the guest writers for their amazing contributions.. this week William Price King and Carol Taylor. And to you for dropping in, liking, commenting and sharing the posts, the support is very much appreciated.

William Price King – Josh Groban Part Four

– A – Z of Food – ‘O’ for Oats, Offal, Octopus, Oranges and Oysters.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter One – In the Beginning

#Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – The Dance Scene 1950

Some photos and a haiku from Lanzarote

Letters from America 1985-1987 – August 1985 – Hawaiian Luau and Trash Can Punch

Children’s – A Beechworth Bakery Bears (The Beechworth Bakery Bears 1) by Frank Prem

Past book reviews Book Reviews – #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Historical Tony Riches

#HaikuSequence – Rain by Sally Cronin

images

Herbal Medicine – Stinging Nettle and Scorpion Stings

Drystan the Dragon and Friends: Delbert Finds Himself by Janice Spina

Author Reviews – #YAAdventure Darlene Foster, #Children’s #Kindness Dawn Doig – #Horses Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

#ShortStories – #Ireland – We All Die in the End: Scenes from a Small Town by Elizabeth Merry

#Fiction #Community Phyllis Staton Campbell

#Shortstories – A String of Stories: From the Heart to the Future by Ann Chiappetta

#Anthology M.J. Mallon, #Fantasy D. Wallace Peach, #Memoir #Teaching Pete Springer

#Crime Jacquie Biggar, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #Contemporary #Humour Lizzie Chantree

#Finance – Should You Take an Early-Out Package? by Sharon Marchisello

#Personal – Twelve Questions From A Guy Called Bloke by Stevie Turner…

#Birth – On the Eve of Beltane by Sue Vincent

National Bunion Day by Mary Smith

Guns of Perdition: Interview and Review by D. Wallace Peach

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines –August 4th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines –August 6th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – August 7th 2020 – Funnies and Bad Dad Jokes Host Sally Cronin

Thank you very much for dropping in today and all the support during the week.. it is much appreciated.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 26th July – August 1st 2020 – Positive news, #Author Spotlight, Music, Short stories, Guest Bloggers, Health, Humour and Book Reviews


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

Another week has flown by, and like many of you, I have avoided reading the headlines and news stories on a daily basis. I am usually an upbeat positive person when it comes to life in general, but even I have to ration my exposure to the constant stream of negativity.

Thankfully our community of writers do share the positive aspects of life, and here are three posts I would like to draw your attention to if you missed.

Each month D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies participates in the #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest spreading positive news about people and events. This month an inspiring woman in the UK has been collecting an item usually scrunched up and thrown away. Her project is Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer: D.G. Kaye WATWB – We are the World Blogfest – Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer

Carol Taylor shares amazing recycling projects including this week The bad and the good in the story of plastic.. and on Tuesdays she has been sharing some of the positive outcomes of our recent isolation. In this post you can enjoy the wisdom of a wonderful man called Sadhguru, and a video of abandoned places being reclaimed by nature. Sobering thought and Nature’s resilience

Retired teacher and author, Pete Springer shares the inspiring story of a former pupil of his, Samy Awwad, who at the age of only 16 has already created an incredible reputation as a champion for millions of children around the world whose lives can be saved by vaccinations. A wonderful post that I recommend you head over to read: An Impressive Young Man

Before I share the posts from the week… here is the promotion for the new Author Spotlight beginning in September.. along with my story of a life changing moment in my life that set me on a different path after just one date!  I have already received some amazing stories and I am looking forward to sharing this new series.

A new series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I share my Life Changing Moment.

In this new series I am inviting authors in the Cafe to share what they consider to be a defining moment in their lives that resulted in a major positive change.

Here are a few examples, and I am sure you will have plenty to add:

  • Meeting a stranger with surprising consequences
  • Accepting an invitation that took you out of your comfort zone
  • Being fired from a job or resigning without another job lined up that turned out to be an opportunity.
  • Taking a wrong turn on a journey and discovering something about yourself.
  • Being in the wrong place at the right time when an opportunity presented itself.
  • Overcoming a challenging situation such as a failed relationship and finding happiness.
  • Taking part in a charity challenge such as a parachute jump and how it conquered a fear.
  • Accidentally walking through the wrong door and finding an uplifting experience
  • Moving to a new country and feeling immediately at home.

You can choose to stick to the facts or can write a fiction story that has ‘A Life Changing Moment’ as its theme.

If you follow the link beneath the image you can read my story and the post is an example of how your own will look.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Spotlight – Life Changing Moments

As always my thanks to guests and contributors who make blogging such a pleasure and to you for dropping in, commenting and sharing…here are the posts from the week.

Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Madonna, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

A tribute I wrote for my mother Mollie (October 5th 1917 – July 28th 2012) and her gardens

#Spain – Tales from The Garden – Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Whiskey And Its Disciples – 1949 by Geoff Cronin

Some images of my feathered friends at the lake where bass were a popular attraction for local fishermen.

#Spain – Fish hide in branches

Double #Etheree The Wisdom of Trees by Sally Cronin

Two more book reviews from the past.

Book Reviews – #Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Children’s Robbie and Michael Cheadle

July 1985 – Hanna Barbara Land, BBQ and Lilo races

A round up of all the posts and pages in the series.

Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – Lavender

#Finance – Investing in the Age of Coronavirus by Sharon Marchisello

– #School Closures – Lost? by Stevie Turner in Having a Rant

#Fear – The predator within by Sue Vincent

Fighting photo phobia by Mary Smith

#Writing – Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction by D. Wallace Peach

A new Cafe and Bookstore for children’s books up to the age of 12 years old.. already 21 authors but plenty of room for more..

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – FREE Book Marketing

Fantasy Adele Marie Park, #Fantasy Freya Pickard, #Paranormal Cecilia Kennedy

#Dark Humour Carol La Hines, #History Joyce Hampton, #Fantasy Paul Andruss

The Gilded Beaver by Margaret

#Reviews – #Fantasy Lorinda J. Taylor, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan, #ScienceFiction A.C. Flory

#Paranormal Roberta Eaton Cheadle, #HistoricalRomance Christine Campbell, #Prose/Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro

#Thriller John L. DeBoer, #Scifi Richard Dee, #History Paul Edmondson

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 28th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

July 31st 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for your support during the week and look forward to seeing you again soon. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 19th -26th July -Josh Groban, Naan Bread, Fairy Tales, Waterford, Poetry, Reviews and Funnies


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

Like most of you focus on being creative has been a little hit and miss during the last few months, and I am thankful for the blog to keep me busy and in contact with you all. I have been working on my next book in my head and finally have got my thoughts together and have picked up where I left off in March. Hopefully you will see something coherent in the autumn! It is another collection of syllabic poetry and a collection of 24 + short stories based on two central themes… I plan to really get the writing finished in August (unless summer decides to return and I spend too much time in the garden!)

It is our 40th anniversary in November and we cancelled our planned trip with my two sisters in September to Malta.. old stomping grounds for both of them who were 16 and 17 when we lived there and it was going to be a step back in time for us all. November is the start of the usual flu season and I have an inkling that the 14 day quarantines for visitors is likely to be in place again. So are planned trip to the UK to see my sisters is also at risk. It will make it two years since we have had a family get together but it is better to be safe than sorry.

This now has presented us with an opportunity to get creative with our own celebrations as the occasion deserves to be marked in style…as long as the two of us are there…it will be special.

Just a reminder of the opportunities to promote your books…

  1. If you have a new book due out in August then please let me know when available for pre-order or released so I can do a new book on the shelves promotion.
  2. If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find out how to join the other 150 authors: Free book marketing in the Cafe and Bookstore.
  3. The new series of Posts from Your Archives open to all bloggers where I pop in to your blog and select two posts to share along with your books and links: #NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??
  4. If you are a children’s author you will find a new feature from Monday where your books will not only be on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore but any books for ages up to 12 years old, will also be in the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore.. A post is going out on Monday that gives the details to existing authors in the Cafe and to new ones.
  5. The new author spotlight series for September has a theme that I hope you will find interesting – Life Changing Moments.. and the promotional post is on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful to the contributors who share their expertise and creativity each week and also to you for all the support that you offer…you have no idea how that has helped me stay positive during the last few months. 💐 😍

Here are this week’s posts…..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban Part Three

‘N’ is for Nicoise, Nori, Nuts, Noodles, Nettles and Naan Bread.

#Spain – Tales from The Garden -Chapter Eleven – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part Two

The Colour of Life -Cattle Dealing and The Ferguson Tractor 1948 by Geoff Cronin

#Courtown, Wexford – Sea Birds Seek Shelter and Photos

July 4th 1985 Celebrations, Mechanical Bulls and Tennis

Welcome to a new series where I will be sharing book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

#Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Historical Andrew Joyce

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Washed Up

The importance of a healthy gut (part three) #Candida by Sally Cronin

Herbal Medicine – Peppermint – fresh breath, digestion and anti-bacterial

#History – The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy by Joyce Hampton

The Places We Haunt: Short Story Collection by Cecilia Kennedy

#Mystery – Walking Into Trouble by Geoff Le Pard

#Pre-Order -Children’s – A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (The Beechworth Bakery Bears 1) by Frank Prem

#Mystery Noelle Granger, ##DystopianSciFi Terry Tyler, #Mystery Anne R. Allen

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Fantasy, #Paranormal C.S. Boyack

#Childrens Victoria Zigler, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan

#Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike, #Humour J. E. Pinto

#Memoir Joy Lennick, #WWII Paulette Mahurin, #Mystery J.A. Newman

#Thriller Richard W. Wise, #Fantasy Sue Vincent and Stuart France, #Lemons Valentina Cirasola

#Writing Jane Sturgeon, #Poetry Leon Stevens, #Coming of age Bette A. Stevens

Hugh W. Roberts

#Shortstories Hugh W. Roberts, #Thriller Gwen M. Plano, #FamilyDrama Margaret Lindsay Holton

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 21st 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 23rd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Possible Book Titles and some Grammar funnies Host Sally Cronin

Thank you again for dropping in today and for all your support.. it is much appreciated..

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from The Garden -Chapter Eleven – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part Two by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. 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.

Last week as preparations were being made for the last fairy ball of the summer… devastating news arrived from Ireland about the Winter Fairy who was bored and decided to cause mayhem two months earlier than usual.

The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy Part Two

The Fairy Queen, Filigree, called her counsellors together to put into action the Disaster Prevention Plan they had hoped never to activate.

Before making her final decisions about the operation, the queen called upon the toothless gnome who was the fairy soothsayer. Spread out on the table in front of her, placed on the magic blue silk cloth, was the gnome’s crystal ball.

Her majesty was getting impatient and snapped at the quivering figure standing before her. ‘Well, what are you waiting for? she glared at the poor creature. ‘Are we definitely going to be in for an early freeze?

The gnome had rarely been called upon during his five hundred years in his capacity of soothsayer, and was not sure if his magic divining powers were still working. He waved his hands over the crystal ball and muttered the magic words loudly for maximum dramatic effect.

‘Bumble, grumble, fumble, crumble’.

Queen Filigree and her courtiers leaned in and gasped in horror. The crystal ball had clouded into ice crystals before their very eyes. None were more surprised than the gnome who hid a delighted and relieved toothless grin behind his gnarly hands.

‘Right,’ said the queen having composed herself. She pointed at one of her closest advisors.
‘Ampletum, I want you to go immediately and take a message to the Queen Bee,’ She closed her eyes for a moment as she gathered her thoughts.

‘Tell her majesty that this devastating cold front is coming in within hours and her hives are in danger. Suggest that she have a final sweep of the last of the summer roses with her swarm and then retreat down into our honey cellars. This will provide us with much needed stores for the winter and a safe place for them to stay warm’.

Ampletum hurried off to do his queen’s bidding; trembling nervously at the important task he had been assigned.

The queen looked around her chamber and her eyes fell upon one of the cheekiest of her fairy advisors. Pinchit was a bit of a rogue but he knew everything that was happening in the garden at any given time and this task would require his specialist knowledge.

She beckoned him over and whispered in his tufted ear. ‘Find me Fluffy,’ she looked at his wily little face. ‘I know you know where that rascal is and I need you to go to whatever rock or log he is hiding under and bring him to me immediately.’

Pinchit bowed his head and scurried off to climb up the staircase through the magnolia roots to the magic garden. He headed off around the corner of the villa to the uncultivated wasteland by the back fence. It was a safe bet that he would find the sun loving Fluffy basking himself on the hot sand.

Pinchit spent a few minutes explaining the dire situation they were all facing. Fluffy, first and foremost was concerned about himself. Dragons do not like the cold which is why they have their own internal combustion system. He thanked Pinchit for the warning and was about to turn away to find some safe place in the foundations of the villa when the fairy tapped him on his nose.

‘The Queen is demanding that you come with me Fluffy as she has a special job for you.’ Pinchit hooked one of his fingers through the dragon’s nostril and muttered menacingly. ‘She said not to take no for an answer.’

Ten minutes later Fluffy settled down on his haunches and glared at the Fairy Queen. In her long reign these two had been at loggerheads as her royalness was unimpressed by the dragon’s habit of starting little fires in the garden when he sneezed. This happened a lot in the spring when the pollen count was high, and despite the fairies giving him a very potent anti-histamine, he refused to take prescribed medication of any kind.

Queen Filigree came down off her high horse, commonly called her throne, and sat in front of Fluffy. She held out her hands and smiled at the bemused dragon. ‘I would like you to do me a great favour,’ she paused and prayed she would choose the right words for this vital request.’

Meanwhile just an hour away to the north tiny snowflakes began to fall on the parched earth. It settled quickly as the inhabitants looked out of their homes in amazement. Animals and insects alike were caught unawares and already the fatal cold claimed its first victims.

Out in the magic garden the Queen Bee had rallied her swarm and accepted the invitation issued by the Fairy Queen. Bees visited every last summer rose in the garden and made their way, heavily laden through the roots of the magnolia tree into the honey caverns beneath. Here special honey fairies directed the thousands of insects into the roof of the specially constructed cellars, where they began to build an intricate honeycomb.

The fairy kingdom would now have sufficient supplies for the long winter ahead and the bees could reside in safety away from the devastating cold.

As these preparations continued the Fairy Queen knew that she had to do something to raise the spirits of those beneath the magnolia and also amongst her stone guardians in the magic garden. Wrapping herself in a cloak of gold silk that kept the chill from her delicate bones, she visited each member of her loyal entourage.

The Stoned Dwarf band huddled beneath the old oak tree in the fading sunlight and looked at her sadly. They had been rehearsing for the last three months to perform at tonight’s final ball of the summer and now this would not take place. She gently touched them on their pointed heads and requested that they strike up a song to keep the rest of the garden in high spirits as they went about their urgent tasks. Before long the cheerful sound of music reached every corner of the magic kingdom.

The queen also flew down to the sandy wasteland at the back of the garden and perched for a few minutes on a small mound of rocks. Beneath her, with chest expanded to its fullest extent, Fluffy blew hot breath northwards. With the help of a snuff box of fairy dust, the dragon was able to extend his normal range by fifty miles. He was tiring but he had managed to keep the freezing cold front at bay for that very important extra few hours.

His reward was to spend the winter months in a specially prepared fire-proof chamber in the royal palace. The queen happily reflected that the extra heating would be very welcome once they got into the deepest and darkest nights of winter!

Finally the preparations were complete. The Fairy Queen had visited all her statues within the garden and with the final trail of insects and one very tired but satisfied dragon, she retreated to the warmth and safety beneath the magnolia tree.

As a special surprise and a thank you to all her subjects and the special guests, her Majesty had opened up the giant ballroom and had the firefly chandeliers dusted off. Instead of the Dwarf Stoned band, in the corner of the ornate chamber, an old fashioned gramophone was wound up and the air was filled with the sounds of a Viennese Waltz. The delighted fairies and their guests took to the floor as the fireflies created an aerial display that took their breath away.

With Fluffy safely tucked up for the winter and without his magic dragon breath, the cold front advanced rapidly. The Winter Fairy flew into the magic garden delighted with his childish prank. He stood in the deep snow and looked around him excitedly. Instead of frozen fairies, insects and out of place statues there was….nothing. Just one obnoxious fairy, alone and barely visible in a blanket of white.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story collections

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this snippet from Tales from the Garden.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – 12th – 18th July 2020 – Children’s Book Store, Relationships, Italian Cookery, Book Reviews, Health, Humour and Music


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

I hope you are all doing well and that your families are safe and well. There are mixed messages as always about what we can and cannot do and clearly there are still some hot spots around our countries and the world where life continues to be very difficult.

I thought I would give you a hint of the new promotions that are coming up in the next couple of months and to remind you of those running at the moment.

I am creating a spin off Cafe and Bookstore for Children’s books and Early Teens… As Robbie Cheadle pointed out in a comment this week, it is very difficult to market children’s books, especially at the moment with virtual launches. Also because many children’s books tend to be print only. The authors with books suitable up to 12 years old will have separate entries for their children’s books in this new Cafe but will still retain their entries in the main bookstore with other books they may have.

There will be new author and book promotions, separate children’s cafe updates and special promotions at certain times of the year such as Christmas.

I really would like your help once it is set up to spread the word to children’s authors who might like to have a promotion for their books and be showcased in the new cafe.  I have a post going out about it on the 27th of July.

I am putting the entries together in the next week and will share the link in the promotional post. If I have missed any books of yours that are suitable for children up to 12 years old you can let me know at that point.

I have had a great response to the post and August is now fully booked but if you would like to participate in September then just let me know. An ideal opportunity to promote your blog posts and I will also top and tail with any book details, author bio and links. Full details are in the post.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

Coming in September – the return of the Sunday Author Interview… with a new theme and questions… promotional post on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful for the time and effort that the contributors to the blog put in to produce such amazing posts, and to you for dropping in. If you have time to leave a comment it is always appreciated and it also is a way to connect to others who pass through the blog. This community has never been more important as it is today, and the stronger it is, the stronger we are as individuals.

Calling All Fixers

Are you that person who has a dire need to fix the people you care about? Are you that person who thinks nobody can fix things like you can? Let me tell you, I was one of those people, and I learned that there are definite limitations when it comes to thinking we can repair others—despite how much our hearts truly wish we could.

D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – July 2020 – Calling All Fixers!

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen and Chris de Burgh

#Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Milanesa style thin cut beef (Cotoletta alla milanese)

Tales from the Garden – Chapter Ten – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part One

The Colour of Life – The Nuns At The Glue Pot 1946 by Geoff Cronin

#Haiku #Wexford #Ireland -Rescued from the Deep

Letters from America 1985-1987 – July 1985 – A new baby arrives and I meet Debbie around the pool

#Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Wise Women

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida

thyme

Herbal Medicine – Make Thyme in your life for this versatile herb for health and cooking.

There is little doubt that this last three months of lock down has impacted all our lives. Marjorie Mallon has compiled an anthology that shares her own diary of events over that period about the pandemic and life as a family in lock down.. and the thoughts and poetry of others within the blogging community including myself.

Special Feature – #Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

#Historical #Fantasy – Reign of Retribution (The Eternal Realm Book 3) by Fiona Tarr

#Fantasy – Sea Dragons: Wisp II by Adele Marie Park

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Murder Mystery Barbara Silkstone, #Mystery Stevie Turner

#Familydrama James J. Cudney, #Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike

#Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Dystopian Teri Polen

#Thriller Allan Hudson, #Poetry Joyce Murphy, #Paranormal #Romance Marcia Meara

#History Barbara Ann Mojica, #Children’s Paul Noel, #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

#Romance Ritu Bhathal, #YAMystery Karen Demers Dowdall, #Paranormal S.A. Harris,

#Childrens Deanie Humphrys Dunne, #Dystopian Sandra J. Jackson #NewAdult #Romance Abbie Johnson Taylor

#Writing Denise O’Hagan, #Children Wanda Luthman, #RomanticComedy Jack Lindsey

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 14th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 16th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

The Senior Team pass the Courtroom funnies along.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and during the week… it is much appreciated and I hope you will join me again next week.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden – Chapter Ten – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part One by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. 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.

Chapter Ten – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part One

It was a lovely end of summer afternoon and all within the magic garden was quiet. It was siesta time and most of the inhabitants, both in the fairy kingdom beneath the magnolia tree, and the stone guardians were napping. They needed their rest, as tonight was the last ball of the season, and for days everyone had been racing around in preparation.

There had been an early start to this summer with very high temperatures in early May. The heat had continued to suck the moisture out of the air for the last few months. For the humans this meant extra work watering the foliage which brought colour and wildlife to the magic garden. But now the temperatures had settled down to provide warm but gentle days, which were welcomed by all who shared this special place.

The head of the guardians was worn out. The fairy queen was being particularly demanding about the preparations for the dance tonight and he now dozed in the late afternoon warmth.

‘Psst, psst,’ came a persistent buzz in the large guardian’s ear. He decided to ignore what was surely an uneducated insect who clearly did not who he was pssting.

‘Psst, master, psst,’ clearly a very, very ignorant insect.

The lion opened one eye and glanced to his right. He groaned inwardly and resigned himself to some wasted time of nonsense.

Eager to impart some nugget of news to the head guardian, Fizzy the rabbit looked up adoringly at the lion.

‘He’s been seen, he’s coming, we have to do something, he is on his way, we have to panic.’

The lion looked down at Fizzy and shook his head slowly from side to side. Of all the creatures under his care this was the one who caused the most problems. Since a young rabbit, he had been a sugar addict; craving what was commonly called the Amber Nectar.

If you wanted to find Fizzy you just had to head towards the nearest Amber joint and he would have his whiskers deep in the blooms.

It was clear that Fizzy had made a stop off at the nearest amber bar and was going to be hyper for the next hour. The lion knew he would get no peace until he had listened to the whole story and just hoped he had enough time to finish his nap before the ball.

‘Slow down Fizzy and tell me what the problem is,’ the guardian said patiently to the rabbit who was bouncing up and down on his tail.

‘The Winter Fairy is on his way and is bringing a very, very cold front with him,’ the rabbit drew breath. ‘He will reach us tonight during the ball and everyone in the garden will be frozen in place and visible to the humans forever.’

‘Okay Fizzy just who saw him and where?’ The lion was slightly more concerned now this was potentially catastrophic.

‘My Irish cousins were playing near their burrow a few days ago and heard him cursing and ranting in the trees above their heads.’ Fizzy held out one of his paws to the lion and touched his leg.

‘They sent a pigeon to bring me the message and it says he is bored stupid with hanging around for October and wants to get on with his job now.’

This was not good news. The lion knew that he had to warn the Fairy Queen and the other inhabitants of the garden. The most immediate decision concerned tonight’s festivities. At night all the statues came to life for a few precious hours. If they and the fairies were unexpectedly frozen in place and visible to humans, the magic garden would cease to exist.

He had to think and he couldn’t do that with the excited rabbit bouncing up in down in fear.

He gently sent Fizzy on his way and called in his butterflies who acted as his messengers within the garden. Their first priority was to find the Fairy Queen and call the counsellors together for a cabinet meeting.

The last the lion had heard, his queen was indulging in some retail therapy in preparation of tonight’s ball. A tad disrespectfully for this venerable guardian, he did wonder what she needed with another pair of shoes and a new hat.

To be fair, the Fairy Queen was thinking just that herself when the delicate butterfly alighted on the back of her chair with a vital message from her head guardian. With a wistful last look at the jewelled shoes and matching hat, she turned and headed back to the palace beneath the magnolia tree accompanied by the messenger.

The queen called together her ministers and they all listened as the guardian spoke remotely through his intermediary. Clearly this was a dangerous situation. Not just because they would have to cancel the ball, but because the preparations for the winter were not complete. Without the usual stores of honey stored in nutshells in the cellars of the palace, there would not be enough food for the fairy population during the longer than usual dark months.

Just then another butterfly flew into the chamber and delivered even more devastating news. Reports had arrived in from the French Fairy Federation or the FFF’s; that the Winter Fairy had put a spurt on and was only a few hours away.

Part two next Sunday – can the fairy kingdom ward off the evil winter fairy?

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story collections

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this snippet from Tales from the Garden.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – July 5th -11th 2020 – Josh Groban, Mango, Pigeons, Dublin 1944, Books, Health and Laughter


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

It has been a very mixed week as far as the weather is concerned. However, I was in and out more times than a cat, grabbing the odd ten minutes of sunshine here and there. It can change in a second with rain in the back garden and sunshine still in the front. There are a lot worse places to live, particularly during a pandemic as it is easier to avoid 5 million people than it is 65 million. Especially when there is more rural space.

Apart from my daily ins and outs, I also had my first hair appointment this week. I go to a family owned hairdresser and they certainly have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to prepare the salon for clients. I was wearing my own mask, but had my temperature checked once I was allowed in. A young assistant was kept busy disinfecting chairs, basins and stations between customers, and we all wore disposable gowns and the same with the towels. Thank goodness that despite the rule about no tea or coffee, and no magazines, we could still chat and it was great to catch up with my stylist Sam and her experiences over the last four months.

It feels great to have some shape back into my hair and if I can bring myself to put on some makeup on the next sunny day, I might get a new profile photo done… don’t hold your breath on either event …!

Now to the week….

I am very aware that I don’t get around to as many blogs as I would like on a daily basis and as I plan to get down to finishing the new book I am writing in August.. I thought it would be a good time to get the new Posts from Your Archives up and running. With the added bonus that I get to browse your blog archives from the last six months and catch up on all your great posts.

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 900 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history and the most recent series was on any aspect about family.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts.

So what is different about this series?

  • This time, rather than you send me two links to posts from your blog archives, all I need you to do is give me permission to dive in myself and find two posts to share here on Smorgasbord.
  • Rather than a set topic, I will select posts at random across a number of subjects from the first six months of 2020.
  • As I will be promoting your books as part of the post along with all your information and links so I will not be sharing direct marketing or self- promotional posts in the series.
  • If you are an author I am sure you will have a page on your blog with the details, and an ‘about page’ with your profile and social media links (always a good idea anyway). I will get everything that I need.
  • As a blogger I would assume that you have an ‘about page’ a profile photo and your links to social media.
  • Copyright is yours and I will ©Your name on every post… and you will be named as the author in the URL and subject line.
  • Previous participants are very welcome to take part again.

N.B – To get the maximum benefit from your archive posts, the only thing I ask is that you respond to comments individually.. thank you.

To show how your post will look when featured… please head over to the post with an example from the Friends and Family archive posts earlier in the year. Jacquie Biggar with the story of her grandson and his brave approach to his Type I diabetes.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

William Price King is on his summer break which is a very busy time and his is offline, but I will be sharing some previous artists and every other week a Summer Music Festival… no mud, or portaloos…just good music. Some from William’s column and some from my own playlists. William sends his best wishes and apologises for not being able to respond to your comments.

This week Carol Taylor cooks up a storm as she showcases the letter ‘M’ in food and culinary terms…and there are plenty of books on show to overload your TBR’s

I am in the last three weeks of the series Meet the Authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and hopefully all your details will then be up to date… if you are in the cafe and have not yet been featured.. don’t worry everyone will be included..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban – Part Two

Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘M’ is for Mayonnaise, Mango, Mousse, Morels, Khao Neow Manuang and Marengo

Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess

Geoff leaves Waterford for the bright lights of Dublin and the adventures of being a boarder with other lads of the infamous Mrs Keller….

The Colour of Life The Digs In Dublin 1944

A Haiku and some examples of my late father-in-law’s wonderful wood carving.

#Ireland Tree Stumps by Sally Cronin

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Photos from Disney Adventure, Alone in America, Television Fitness Classes

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one)

dandelion

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion

A Year in the Life of Leah Brand: A #Psychological Thriller by Lucinda E. Clarke

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#DoubleEtheree – The Visitor

#Fantasy – Jack Hughes & Thomas the Rhymer (Book 1) by Paul Andruss

#DarkHumour Someday Everything Will All Make Sense by Carol LaHines

#Dystopian – Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

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

#YAParanormalFantasy, Heather Kindt, #HistoricalMystery Amy M. Reade, #Children’s Janice Spina

#Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Poetry Balroop Singh

#Romance Linda Bradley, #Fantasy Audrey Driscoll, #YAAdventure Darlene Foster.

#Shortstories Cathy Cade, #Historical Noelle Granger, #SouthernSaga Claire Fullerton

#YAFantasy Kevin Cooper, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Historical Apple Gidley

#Memoir Chuck Jackson, #Memoir Brigid Gallagher, #ShortStories Anne Goodwin

#1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau, #History Paul Edmondson, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 7th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 9th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Irish Weather The Musical with International guests presented by I.V.E Mildew… AKA Herself.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden – Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. 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.

Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess

The toddler waddled across the damp grass, falling down from time to time with a resounding thump onto his backside. He giggled and struggled onto all fours until he could stand again. His blonde curly hair shone in the mid-morning sun and his old nurse looked on with pride as her young charge explored his domain.

There had been great joy at the boy’s birth. The owners of the house had waited many years and suffered terrible losses but finally, one bright winter’s day, the strong and healthy cry of a newborn was heard throughout the magic garden. The fairies beneath the magnolia tree held a celebration that night, and as the statues that guarded the garden came to life, music could be heard tinkling through the snow covered branches.

Eighteen months later the boy was beloved by all he came into contact with. His parents would have been astonished to find out that even the magical inhabitants of the garden adored him too. In fact, as he had slept in his carriage in the shade of the magnolia tree, he had been sprinkled with fairy dust to protect him.

Now as the young master played in the grass he was unaware that a young fairy had ventured out into the daylight. Normally the folk who lived beneath the magnolia only came out at night after the humans had gone to bed, but lured by the happy giggling of the infant, an inquisitive fairy had sneaked out of the palace gates.

As she perched on one of the branches her glittery purple wings drew the eye of the child. He focused on the shimmering vision in the tree and pointed with his little fingers at the young fairy. The two of them stared at each other for a brief moment until the spell was broken by the nurse sweeping the child up into her arms. But that brief moment was profound. A bond was formed that would grow stronger and stronger as the years passed.

With no other children in the family it was decided on the young master’s fifth birthday that he should be given a companion in the form of a robust puppy. As he played with the furry ball of love, he glanced upwards to the tree to see if his secret friend was watching. She was not there and even though he was still only a child, he felt sadness that the fairy was not present to share this special day.

Many years passed and the young boy and his dog grew to adulthood. They spent every free minute of the day together when the boy was not in school. They roamed the mountainside around the house and the dog slept at the end of the bed each night. As they played in the garden they were often observed. Cloaked with invisibility, the now teenage fairy princess kept a watchful and loving eye from her perch in the tree.

When the boy was eighteen years old; disaster struck. War was declared and he was conscripted into the local militia to protect the town and farms in the district. His terrified parents watched him march away through the gate in his polished black boots with his heavy knapsack. His old dog now weary with arthritis whined as he lay at their feet.

Days and nights passed and the humans lay in bed listening to the sound of canon fire in the distance. After many months of fighting the enemy forces retreated and the militia followed them to the borders. It had been several desperate weeks since they had word from their son and they feared the worst. They could also see that the old dog was losing his will to live as he pined away.

It seemed that the magic garden and all the inhabitants were holding their collective breath. Then one sunny morning, as the old and short-sighted dog wandered out to his position on the steps where he would lie all day watching the gate; a miracle occurred.

There before him was a pair of dusty black boots and excitedly the dog sniffed around the leather. He smelt his master and with his worn out heart beating like a bass drum, he followed the scent down the steps and around the back of the house.

Curled up in a ball beneath the magnolia tree was the body of a man with long dirty blonde hair and clothes that were torn and matted with filth. But the dog showed no hesitation as he licked the dirt from his beloved master’s face. The man stirred and reached out a hand to stroke the grey-tipped ears and tears streaked his mud covered face.

All night the man had been watched over by another creature whose own tears had fallen upon his body as he slept. The fairy princess had sat by his head as he tossed and turned in his troubled dreams, gently stroking his hair and whispering loving words to him. As he had calmed, she had gently snipped a lock of his long blonde hair and plaited it into a bracelet. She may never be able to love him in human ways but she would always wear this to keep him close.

The excited barking of the dog alerted the family and servants and they rushed out to the garden to find the reason for the uproar… As the delighted family embraced and then carried the young man into the house, the princess returned to the palace in the roots of the magnolia, where she found her stone-faced mother waiting for her in the throne room.

A few weeks later, when the returned soldier was fully recovered and peace had been declared, his parents decided to hold a ball for all their neighbours to celebrate. This was the first fiesta for many years and everyone dusted off their finery and the musicians from the town tuned up neglected instruments. The garden was festooned with garlands and tables were covered with a magnificent array of foods.

The handsome young host, now fully recovered greeted the guests but still glanced from time to time at the magnolia tree, wondering if perhaps he might catch a glimpse of his beautiful fairy. He began to move away to talk to his guests but a flash of turquoise caught his eye. As he turned his head a shimmering image appeared before him out of thin air and he caught his breath.

There, sat in a bower made of roses, was the most enchanting woman he had ever seen. She smiled and held out her hand to him. Around her delicate wrist he noticed a woven bracelet of blonde hair and gold that glistened in the sunlight. The instant they touched an electric charge raced from his fingertips to his heart and he knew who this beautiful stranger was.

‘How long can you stay?’ he asked in a desperate whisper.

‘Forever, my love,’ she smiled gently. ‘My mother has gifted me one hundred years to share with you. But only if that is what you desire?’

They lived happily ever after and as a reward for his long and loyal service the old dog became a guardian of the magic garden. And at night when his beloved master and his wife strolled hand in hand across the lawns, their friend would walk beside them, young and playful again.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

Other short story collections

You can find out about all my books and read recent reviews: My books and reviews 2020

It would be great to catch up with you at these sites too.

Twitter: @sgc58
Facebook: Sally Cronin
LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this snippet from Tales from the Garden.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – June 28th – July 4th 2020 – Music Festival, Book Covers, Fairy Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews and Author Promotions


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

Thanks very much for joining me today and I hope that everyone is still staying safe as the world emerges in a more unrestrained way… Today in the UK is going to be interesting, as though the British to do not officially celebrate July 4th, it is a great excuse to have a party. With the pubs opening along with hairdressers and unessential shops, it is going to make for an opportunity for much mingling, however many social distancing measures are in place.

The infection is still in the community and even here in Ireland people are still wearing masks when shopping and in close proximity to others. Despite my love of adventure… I will be taking things slowly for the next few weeks.

In the meantime life goes on and the weeks seem to fly by as they always have. The Irish weather this week has been at its variable best with autumnal high and cold winds and plenty of rain.  Apparently sunny tomorrow, so if you don’t see me around the usually haunts you will know where to find me….in the garden.

The Meet the Authors series is still running for another two weeks at least as I feature the last 30 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with their bios and links. When that is completed I will be looking at other options to help promote the books and will let you know about them in due course.

Just a some reminders about the promotions for the Cafe and Bookstore

Their purpose is to provide a consistent and free book marketing service for all authors in the Cafe, to my readers on the blog and to my social media networks.

They work better if the authors featured share on one or more of their own social media, particularly when they are multi-author promotions. I do this because I love to promote the hard work that goes into not just writing a book but the editing, cover design and creativity. However, it does make it easier and more worthwhile to be honest, if authors participate.

The one critical action that I ask is that comments are responded to individually as it does help to encourage readers to buy books. To that end I have made things as simple as possible. I only approve the first comment made by a visitor to the blog and after that there are no filters.

Later in the week a post about the new series of Posts from your Archives starting in August. So far in the last two and a half years there have been 1100 posts featured in this ongoing series…all with an opportunity to showcase books and other creative work. Looking forward to taking that figure up to 1500 in the rest of the year… details on Friday.

On with the shows from the week…

William Price King is off for the summer but we have decided to put on a Summer Music Festival with a mixture of music from William’s previous series and some tracks from my own playlists..

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Johnny Mathis, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys

The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Tales from the Garden Chapter Eight -The Goose and the Lost Boy

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Work on a Timber Gang – 1942 by Geoff Cronin

#Eagles – Regal Hunter by Sally Cronin – Image by Tofino Photography

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Thunderstorms Texas style, Pool Antics and Birth Coach on Standby

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge – #Haibun – The Long Drop by Sally Cronin

#Poetry – Rescue and Redemption Poetry inspired by the T. S. Eliot poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 3) by Frank Prem

Food Therapy – Watercress – More Iron than Spinach

Vitamin D Deficiency Part One

Vitamin D Deficiency Part Two – Getting Sufficient

#Fantasy The Blessing of Krozem: A Tale of Ziraf’s World by Lorinda J. Taylor

-#Horses Jan Sikes, #Comingofage Bette A. Stevens, #Romance Ritu Bhathal

#Historical Noelle Granger, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Thriller Daniel Kemp

#Memoir Pete Springer, #History Paul Edmondson #Thriller Mary Anne Edwards

#Mystery #Romance Alex Craigie, #Children Dawn Doig, #Humour Linda G. Hill

#Fantasy Deborah Jay, #ParanormalRomance A.J. Alexander, #Historical Ruth Larrea

#Humour Andrew Joyce, #Horror #Fantasy Julia Benally, #Thriller Iain Kelly

#Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, #Crime Sue Coletta, #Humour Geoff Le Pard

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #Thriller Jacquie Biggar, #YARomance Angie Dokos

#Familysaga – The Memory by Judith Barrow

#1920s – Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – June 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 2nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – July 3rd 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week to leave comments and to share.. it really is much appreciated.. I hope you will join me again next week..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – #Spain – Tales from the Garden Chapter Eight -The Goose and the Lost Boy by Sally Cronin


It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. 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. I hope that you will enjoy.

Chapter Eight – The Goose and the Lost Boy by Sally Cronin

A short walk from the magic garden was a lake filled with fish and home to waterfowl of every description. The ducks had lived in peace for many years and had grown old and fat on the luscious green shoots that flourished close to the water’s edge.

Occasionally a goose or two would fly in and rest their weary wings during one of their long migrations between the northern lands and Africa. One bright afternoon a pair of young feathered lovers arrived and settled in for the night amongst the bushes. The female was weak and sick and her mate stood over her as she lay exhausted in the grass.

When the morning sun sent a blush of gold across the blue of the lake, a sorrowful song was heard by the inhabitants of this water world as they awoke from their slumber.

Instead of leaving and continuing his migration, the male goose prowled the lake, honking at any fowl that crossed his path. He was wild with grief and could not leave his mate behind. This carried on for several days until he too became weak with hunger. He lifted himself out of the water to die beside his beloved.

As he laid his weary head upon the ground he heard a goose cry from the other side of the lake. A call from one of his own kind. In desperate need of comfort, he rose unsteadily and slipped back into the mountain cold water. He headed towards the sound and searched from side to side to find the one who was calling him.

Instead of a goose he saw many of the large ducks who had previously annoyed him, clustered around a large animal. He had not come across any humans before, but if he had, he would have recognised the figure as an old woman, in a tatty grey coat, sitting on some rocks just out of the water. She was making honking noises and clucking with her tongue as her entourage of ducks clustered excitedly around her.

Intrigued the goose paddled closer until he could clamber out of the water and hide amongst the crowd of waterfowl. A hand reached out and he stepped back in fear. But hunger got the better of him. The smell of fresh popped corn enticed him closer and he began to eat ravenously and without caution.

The goose was not the only lost soul that was hiding out beside the water. A young teenage boy, who had run from a harsh father, was camped under trees at the far end of the lake. He had been scavenging from the waste bins of the houses in the neighbourhood and also by catching the occasional crawfish. He had seen the old woman coming to this same spot each day with her bag of corn. He had also noted that each time she left there was one less large plump duck amongst the dwindling group.

The boy had heard the heartbroken goose as he had paddled aimlessly through the water, and his own heart had gone out to the large bird. Now he watched from behind an old tree trunk as the old woman cackled and clucked as the corn disappeared into the goose’s beak. The young lad was horrified as he could see that this was not going to end well. At risk to his own safety he dashed from behind the tree and pushed the wrinkled crone sideways. She toppled over and slipped off her perch into the water screaming abuse at her assailant.

He scooped up the goose and turned away from the startled ducks that flapped off in panic. He dare not turn around in case the witch put a curse on him and his heavy companion. He skittered out into the narrow road and raced as fast as his legs could carry him. Up ahead he saw a large black gate with a small gap to the side of it. It was very narrow, but he was half-starved, and if he turned sideways he could just squeeze himself and his now struggling burden through.

The goose was indignant and getting into a right strop. He was totally unaware of the danger he had been in. Or the fact, that if he not been hauled unceremoniously from the feast he had been enjoying, he would now be in a witch’s kitchen with a roasting hot future ahead of him.

Heaving a massive sigh of relief the boy loosened his grip on the goose slightly and the bird turned its head towards a new sound. The lad lifted his face up to find himself staring into the eyes of an enormous lion. The great beast was bedecked with two butterflies, fluttering their wings in the heat of the midday sun.

‘I am a guardian of the secret garden and you have trespassed. What have you to say for yourself boy before I turn you to stone?’

The boy was petrified. He had come from a home where strength had been measured in how many slaps you could administer to a child before they ran away. He closed his eyes and felt sick with fright. He also felt guilty that he had indeed run away, and left his two younger brothers behind to face a similar fate.

The goose wriggled in his arms and the lad looked down at the long graceful neck of this spirited bird. He took a long breath and began hesitantly to tell their story. As the words flowed so did his passion and his determination not to desert another vulnerable creature.

He risked looking deep into the lion’s eyes and as he finished his tale, he imagined he saw a softening in the stern gaze, and even the butterflies appeared to stop fluttering their wings in anticipation.

After a moment the lion nodded his great maned head and told the boy to sit on a stone bench before him.

‘I know of the witch of whom you speak,’ he rumbled. ‘She was blown here across the seas from a place called Scotland many moons ago. I believe she had purchased a new broom and the test flight was not as uneventful as expected.’

The big cat paused as his recollections came back to him. ‘She could not speak the lingo of course and was like a fish out of water over here in Spain. She tried to steal food but the locals around here are handy with their hunting rifles and soon saw her off.’

A long rumbling laugh came from his huge belly. ‘She had a craving for something deep-fried that was a delicacy back in her native city and she decided that crispy fried fairies might make up for its lack in her diet.’ He paused for affect.

‘She came over the hedge one dark night in a stealth attack on the occupants under the magnolia tree when they come out to dance. However one of my eagles who was on patrol spotted the old besom… pardon the pun!’

‘He dived down and plucked the evil crone out of the night sky and flew her fifty miles away to the forest… Unfortunately looks like she has found her way back again.’

The boy and the now quietened goose listened enraptured by the story but were shaken out of their reverie as the lion cleared his throat loudly.

‘Hmmm… well this does not solve the problem… there are only two choices available to trespassers. Go back the way you came or be turned to stone.’ He looked down, not unkindly, at the now quaking pair.

‘Perhaps there might be a compromise but I will need to confer with the other guardians and the Fairy Queen first. I will send out my personal assistants to enquire of the others what your fate should be. They have your story and will relate it on their journey.’

He realised that the two must be hot and thirsty having sat for hours in the baking sun. ‘Off you go now to the fountain of life and drink. Then sit in the shade until I call for you.’ With that he dismissed the pair to a leafy part of the garden.

The boy cupped his hand and filled it with sweet water, offering it to the grateful goose first before drinking his fill. As they quenched their thirst they saw the two butterflies take flight on the journey that would decide their fate. The goose showed no inclination to run from the boy and settled down on his lap as they waited in the shade of the tree.

The butterflies had been given strict instructions about who they needed to contact in the secret garden, but first they stopped off at the eagles station to ensure that air cover would be available in case of a witch attack.

Having established a safe airspace the messengers continued to a private part of the garden where the resident therapist, Dr. Filibuster Buck (who moonlighted in the Stoned Band as the back-up singer) was in a session with Pearly Girl. Anyone who knew the sweet child understood that therapy was necessary due to her constant frustration levels with her stoned band. The seven dwarves, who comprised the garden’s orchestra, were an emotional bunch.

Wiffy never seemed to be happy, Sniffy was still using the sneezeweed and then there was Ditsy, who was as daft as a brush.

Anyway, the butterflies appeared at an opportune moment in the session, and both Doc Buck and Pearly Girl listened with interest and cast their vote.

After leaving Dr. Buck and his patient, the butterflies did a circuit of the garden collecting votes from the various residents, before ending up at the magic magnolia tree. They needed to collect the final votes from the fairy queen, her new toy boy husband and her hundreds of subjects who lived in the roots and undergrowth. It was dusk so they hovered in the leaves until the moon lit the branches and the first fireflies glowed above the pathways and homes beneath them. Before long a court page ushered them into the palace. A place where we humans cannot follow….

In their leafy part of the garden both boy and goose lay asleep in the soft grass… The bird had eaten the tender green shoots and drunk more water and now lay cuddled against the beating heart of the boy. It was the first time since he had lost his beloved mate that he felt safe and he was content.

The boy too had eaten some of the fruit that had hung from the branches above his head, and as he clasped the warm feathered chest against his own, he prayed that they would be allowed to stay together in this sanctuary.

As the moon rose in the sky he heard the flutter of wings above his head and he knew their fate had been decided. He gently cradled the sleepy goose and followed the colourful messengers back to the lion and stood before him quietly.

‘The decision has been made,’ the lion said gravely. ‘The inhabitants of this secret place do not wish to put you at harm from that old witch so have offered you a choice.’

The boy held his breath and the waking goose seemed to understand how important the next words might be for their future.

The lion continued. ‘You can leave of your own free will if you wish. However, if you would like to remain here in safety you will be turned to stone and become apprentice guardians under my tutelage. You will help protect the smaller citizens of this world from evil like the witch and the goose will make an excellent and very loud sentry.’

The boy let out a long sigh and looked down at the goose in his arms. The bird was alone too, and as he had mated for life, he would continue to wander the migration route in solitude. The decision was an easy one. He smiled at the lion who nodded in pleasure.

The two butterflies flew to each side of the pair and the boy felt himself lifted up high in the air.

Gently the two large flying beasts carried the boy and the goose to a ledge overlooking the mountains, under the shelter of a jutting roof with strong stone to the back and sides of them. As the butterflies released their precious cargo the boy felt a wave of peace begin at his feet and spread up through his body.

The goose turned to stone in his arms and the last human thought that he felt was happiness… they were safe and together they would become the best guardians ever of this magical sanctuary.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter from the Tales from the Garden and as always your comments are much appreciated. Thanks Sally

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