Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up – Waterford Castle, Romance, Great Food, Music and a few Laffs.


Welcome to the weekly round up and I have been off on a jaunt this week. As a birthday treat we went down to Waterford, which is David’s home town for a couple of days and stayed at the Waterford Castle Hotel on its own private Island.

You reach the island by a chain link ferry which only takes two minutes and runs every 15 minutes during the day and 30 minutes at night. We had a suite overlooking the magnificent gardens and all the rooms have wonderful features introduced over the long history of the castle. Such as this fireplace with a Wedgewood insert.

History of Wateford Castle

Throughout the centuries, the Island’s strategic location, in a pivotal position near Waterford City, brought it historical fame playing a major role in the history of the region.

From the 6th century settlement of Monks to the Vikings in the 9th – 11th Centuries. Followed by Norman Invasion of 1170 were Maurice Fitzgerald became the potentate of the Island and the Fitzgerald family legacy lasted for over 800 years.

You can download the full history of the castle
Click here to download our History brochure.

The food was wonderful and we ate in their award winning restaurant on the first night – freshly sourced produce, deliciously prepared. The service was brilliant and it was a meal to remember. We were treated to some live music in the form of a talented pianist and each course was much appreciated. Certainly a stunning venue for a Wedding.

The next day we had a wonderful breakfast (great poached eggs) in an atrium overlooking the gardens, with some of the wildlife in attendance. Including a red squirrel, unusual to find in Ireland but clearly the grey squirrels who decimated the red population have not learnt to use the ferry to get to the island. As we walked to the car park, we also encountered to deer intent of feasting on the new crocus shoots.

We spent the day touring the coast and revisiting some of David’s childhood and teen haunts as well as the cottage, right on Woodstown beach where Geoff Cronin (you might have read his memoirs here) grew up. Also Dunmore and Tramore, holiday spots in the summer when the family lived in the centre of Waterford.

That afternoon we went in to the city and checked out the regeneration that took place in the 1990s up to the present day. We had a birthday tea in The Vintage Parlour Tea Rooms and I had the best Victoria sponge I have ever eaten… with fresh cream… and David had a delicious piece of apple tart. Fortified with a couple of cups (porcelain) of tea, we explored the local estate agents with a view to moving to Waterford once we sell our house here in Wexford next spring (or sooner). Certainly Waterford is on the list of options as the city has great facilities and is close to some stunning coastline.

We ended the day with dinner at The Bodega Mediterranean Restaurant and I can highly recommend, especially the monkfish scampi starter. The  food, atmosphere and service was excellent and brought back happy memories of our years in Madrid.

If you are planning on visiting Ireland I do recommend that you put Waterford on the schedule. If you are travelling with family then I suggest you book one of their lodges which sleep six people and are self-catered, but you can still eat in the restaurant or clubhouse if you wish. There is a golf course, tennis courts and fabulous walks around the island. You are central for the coastline to the south of Wateford towards Cork, and when the new bridge is completed (the longest in Ireland) later this summer, it will be a much faster trip to Dublin.

Now time to catch up with the posts on Smorgasbord you might have missed during the week.

This week Paul Andruss shares part two of his recommendations for early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-with-paul-andruss-this-week-spring-bulbs-part-two-daffodils-narcissus-jonquils/

And on the subject of food…. something from the Thai kitchen of Carol Taylor.. a three course meal that should get Valentine’s evening off to a good start.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-st-valentines-day-thai-three-course-dinner/

A new series of Posts from Your Archives and to kick the series off, one of D.G. Kaye’s heartfelt and heartbreaking – Memoir Bytes where she shares her childhood memories. Details of how you can share previous articles from your archives are in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-memoir-bytes-love-notes-and-other-words-by-d-g-kaye/

This week my guest is author Abbie Taylor who shares her inspiring story as well as some interesting responses to the questions.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-abbie-taylor/

Here is my response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 123

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebro-weekly-poetry-challenge-etheree-romance-by-sally-cronin/

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction this week prompted 99 word stories on the subject of Valentines.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-flash-fiction-challenge-together-forever-by-sally-cronin/

In this week’s music column, I share a song from each of the decades that I have been listening to music… and next Friday I will be sharing the requests that you shared, the songs that you felt were the most romantic.

Now time for the round up of the posts this week that you might have missed.

An extract from Tales from the Irish Garden to celebrate romance. Queen Filigree meets the roguish Prince Ronan.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/tales-from-the-irish-garden-valentines-day-story-the-magic-garden-comes-to-life-by-sally-cronin/

Last year I wrote this post for USA Today Bestselling romance author Jacquie Biggar on keeping the magic of romance alive…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/keeping-the-magic-of-romance-alive-every-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week in the R’s of Life, part two on the subject of relationships, and the impact of a dysfunctional childhood on our ability to connect as adults.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relationships-in-a-modern-world-part-two-adulthood-by-sally-cronin/

I reviewed two books this week.. the first being The Beast Within (Mended Souls Two) by Jacquie Biggar.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-book-reviews-the-beast-within-mended-souls-book-two-by-jacquie-biggar/

And the second book was first book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-book-reviews-mystery-academic-curveball-by-james-j-cudney/

Author Updates and reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-claire-fullerton-darlene-foster-and-angie-dokos/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-jacquie-biggar-clifford-browder-and-christine-campbell/

Many foods have been labelled aphrodisiacs through history, some deservedly so…but they also tend to be highly nutritious and have a positive effect on the whole body and not just the libido.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/smorgasbord-health-column-foods-to-get-you-in-the-mood-for-st-valentines-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week’s chapter looks at the impact of an overgrowth of Candida Albicans on our overall health. The symptoms number around 125, and I included some of the key signs that your gut may have been compromised.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-candida-albicans-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentine-special-you-knows-i-loves-you-right/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentines-day-special-and-a-parrot-with-moves/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your visits this week. Your comments and sharing on your own social media is much appreciated as always. Have a great week and hope to see you again soon.

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Tales from the Irish Garden – St. Valentine’s Day Story – The Magic Garden Comes to Life by Sally Cronin


In honour of Valentine’s Day and to share the latest review for Tales from the Irish Garden, here is how Queen Filigree found love in the Emerald Isle.

The Magic Garden comes to Life

A month after the arrival of Queen Filigree and her court, springtime had brought magnificent colour and creatures to the magic garden. However, there was still sadness in the heart of its queen as she had lived in her magnolia tree palace for over 700 years. She had been married twice in that time. Once for over 450 years to a tall and dashing king who had made her heart sing. But he had fallen for one of her ladies in waiting, and after fifty years in exile, had been banished to the world of humans.

The Queen in those fifty years had been romanced by many who were keen to be king of her magic palace and its riches, but only one had captured her heart. A blonde and very handsome prince who was some years younger; with the singing voice of a lark. They had married one summer and had been blissfully happy for twenty years until one day; completely out of the blue, her king had been struck down by a bite by a mosquito and had never recovered. Her majesty had been heartbroken but she was still a young woman as far as fairy queens go, and she yearned to find someone to dance and laugh with, and to kiss beneath the glittering firefly chandelier.

Apart from this lack of male attention, she had to admit that their move to this green and welcoming island had been for the best. Despite missing some of the refinements of her palace in Spain, she appreciated that those had taken place during her 700 years on the throne. There was no reason why she could not bring some of those niceties to this palace in time. Income was beginning to pick up from sales of the very special honey that was being produced by the Queen Bee and her subjects. A local amber nectar brewery had commissioned a barrel a month to add to one of their special brews for the coming summer festivals they so loved here. A barrel of honey took a great deal of bees and time to produce, but the income would keep the court in food and necessities for an entire year.

The people were a delight too, and she was particularly fond of the Storyteller whose life had also held sorrow. He was reluctant to talk about his family but she sensed that one day he would share what was troubling him. He had been so generous, and clearly she and her court filled a void in his life; which brought her joy. And as for the Dapperman, he was a positive gift for any woman of taste, and she delighted in her new wardrobe of such exquisite design and colour.

The storyteller assured her that the magic garden that surrounded the magnolia tree was completely safe to venture forth into, and with the warmer weather of late spring, Queen Filigree found herself in a wild part of the garden with the scent of roses perfuming the air.

She sat on top of a broad headed mushroom by some old steps; guarded by her faithful eagles who attended her whenever she left the safety of the palace. They had flown across from Spain at the wing tips of her carrier goose, and now resided at the top of the palace with the pigeons until needed.

She was wearing one of the new day dresses that had been designed by the Dapperman, and her hair had been newly styled by her chief lady in waiting. She crossed her legs and admired her new emerald green shoes that matched the silky material of her dress, thinking how sad it was that there was no handsome suitor to admire it.

As the heady scent of the roses filled her nostrils, she closed her eyes and let the rays of the sun fall onto her flawless complexion. Was she really destined to spend the next thousand years of her life alone? Was there anyone in this new and strange land who would be suitable for a woman of her position? Suddenly she sensed that her eagles were moving around in an agitated manner and opened her eyes… She was somewhat reassured that the Storyteller had been adamant that no harm would ever befall any of the court in his magic garden, but something had spooked her guardians.

‘Well now, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes’. With a gasp of outrage, Queen Filigree turned to find herself staring into bright green eyes beneath an unruly mop of red hair. She blushed as she realised that she was staring, but she had to admit the face that went with the eyes and the hair was remarkably handsome.

‘Do you know who you are addressing?’ she demanded haughtily. She was even more annoyed when this was met with very manly laughter, and turned to her guardians who were standing wing to wing in front of their queen.

‘Be gone you impudent wretch or I shall set my guardians on you and you won’t be laughing then.’ She crossed her arms and gave the man her most regal glare.

‘Suit yourself darlin’, but I have come a long way to meet you, and the least you could do is invite me down to that palace of yours.’

‘Darlin’, who are you calling darlin’ you ruffian.’ With that Queen Filigree got off the mushroom and began to walk back through the garden with her eagles close behind.

From behind her she heard footsteps along the stone path and looked over her shoulder to see the tall stranger following. She had to admit, in his heather coloured linen trousers and fitted tweed jacket he looked like a fine figure of a man, and for a moment she wondered if she had conjured him up when day-dreaming of romance in the sun?

‘Why are you following me you horrid man, go away or I will order my eagles to tear you to pieces.’ Even her eagles looked at her sideways when she uttered this bit of nonsense. They hadn’t picked anything to pieces except their dinner for centuries; relying on their size and wingspan to intimidate.

‘Allow me to introduce myself your majesty,’ the stranger softened his voice to a rather alluring tone. ‘My name is Prince Ronan, and I have come to pay the respects of my father and mother, King Patrick and Queen Seren of the Kingdom of Sean-Choill in the forest to the south of here.’ With that the prince stopped on the path and waited for the queen to respond.

‘Well why didn’t you say so in the beginning?’ Unexpectedly, the queen felt a little fluttering in her heart at this surprising turn of events.

‘You may follow me and make your formal presentation to the court, but please maintain your distance.’ She had to say, she didn’t appreciate the grin that spread across this impudent prince’s face but, as she turned back to the path, she found herself smiling in anticipation.

Her heart was not the only one that was all of a flutter at the appearance of this strikingly handsome redheaded man, as he crossed the threshold of the palace, and was escorted by the royal guard into the throne room… The queen flounced into the velvet covered seat and crossed one elegant leg over the other. She beckoned to Prince Ronan to approach; waiting for him to drop to one knee in respect… Instead he walked right up to her and took her delicate hand in his own. He grinned at her, winking, as he leant over and kissed the captured palm, before returning it to her lap. Despite the audacity of the man, Filigree had to admit that she had not felt this young in the last 50 years.

He stepped back and stood with his hands behind his back, and once Filigree had regained her composure, she smiled regally and gestured to one of the footmen to bring across a chair to sit on.

‘You may now speak,’ she announced imperiously.

‘Thank you so much your majesty,’ he smiled charmingly. ‘I am here on behalf of my mother Queen Seren, to ask if she and my father might pay a visit next month, when they travel through the magic garden on their way to their summer home in the land of Meath.’

His green eyes stared directly at the queen and she felt a blush rising up from her neck to bring a glow to her cheeks.

‘That would be entirely acceptable, and please convey my pleasure at the prospect of meeting the King and Queen. We would be delighted to accommodate them in the guest chambers and hold a dinner in their honour.’

She gestured to her court social director and rose from the throne. ‘Please accompany Sir Justin to his office where you can discuss the dates and times of arrival and please convey my best wishes to your parents’

He bowed elegantly, and dismissed, turned and followed Sir Justin out of the throne room.

However, just as he reached the ornately carved doors, Prince Ronan turned and winked at her, causing her to gasp with irritation, tinged with a little bit of excitement. Perhaps it might be time to call in Dapperman to plan her new dress for the royal visit.

©Tales from the Irish Garden 2018.

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

One of the recent reviews for the book on Amazon Australia.

In the frequently confronting context of contemporary literature, how delightful to be lured into quite another territory and immerse yourself in a fully-fledged fairy story! With royal pigeons lovingly reared over centuries, minute messages written and rolled up on onion paper, the symphony of fairy gossamer wings as fairies dance around in a panic, and diets of quail’s eggs, served on oat and almond bread toast and more, this is indeed a magical feast.

Yet ‘Tales from the Irish Garden’ is far more than a fairy story …

In this stand-alone sequel to her introduction to the magical world of Magia, author Sally Cronin tells the story of Queen Filigree and her court who, obliged to flee their sunny Mediterranean home, seek refuge in the very different landscape of the ‘Emerald Island’. The characters they meet there, and the stories they in turn tell in their quest for personal and collective happiness, deftly hook us in from beginning to end.

Supernatural her characters may be, but they share some very ‘human’ traits – from minor squabbling to dealing with dressing for a cooler climate or the ramifications of property development and building like many of us! Seeing their struggles, their imperfections, and their all too human tendencies is a sobering experience, as we recognise ourselves in them. Thus, the tales function at one level as a myth about the human condition, leaving us that much more self-aware, as well as entertained. In lively and whimsical fashion, the author skilfully blends elements of traditional folklore with a sensitivity to contemporary issues; the result is an enchanting and enriching fictional journey.

The fanciful nature of the story and the sometimes capricious nature of its characters is perfectly complemented by the beautiful illustrations by talented artist Donata Zawadzka.

The author’s flair for story-telling and her innate sense of humour ensures that the book will delight anyone with an imagination, of any age and background.

Read the reviews and buy the book on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

All my books in Ebook are available for Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

About illustrator Donata Zawadzka

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://www.artdonataezawadzka.com
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations
Like Dona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donataewa.zawadzka?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonataEZawadzka

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Rosemary – The First Date by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the second of the short stories this weekend from the second volume of What’s in a Name. Meet Rosemary

Rosemary – The First Date

Rosemary viewed her face in the mirror. She sighed as she observed the crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes. They said it was a sign of character and a sunny personality; crease lines from a life of laughter. That could be said to be true of most of the last twenty-five years of marriage to Malcolm. Rarely did a day go by that he had not teased her into a smile or offered up a pun that made her laugh despite the corniness.

It was not just the laughter that they had shared, but passions for theatre, the cinema, books and exotic foods. There was so little that they disagreed about over the years. Rosemary struggled to remember any real arguments that had intruded into the happiness that wrapped around them like a comforting blanket.

They had travelled far and wide across all the continents taking advantage of his generous salary and the occasional business trips that she accompanied him on. The scents and sights of Africa and India had thrilled them as they held hands and watched glorious sunsets. The rugged terrain of Alaska and the Rockies had tested their stamina and the deep blue colour of the Pacific Ocean had beguiled them. A storehouse of experiences all accompanied by love and laughter and a sense that it would last forever. They had never had children unfortunately, but Malcolm claimed to be happy to just have her all to himself.

But suddenly all that love and laughter was gone and the years together faded into wisps of elusive memory as each day passed. Those friends that she had confided in about her grief and emptiness had offered advice and support for the last six months. They all assured her that was time to face the future head on. She needed to accept that she could not wallow in this self-pity and denial any longer.

She had laughed to herself when she first saw the website that Molly had pointed out to her one morning as they shared coffee in the village just after Christmas. An online dating agency that proudly boasted a near perfect record of finding your soul mate; that one person meant just for you. Molly had been on the site for nearly a year and she had certainly pushed the boundaries of those claims to the limit; she had kept their small circle of mutual friends very entertained with her experiences.

She had brought up the site on her laptop and Rosemary had sat beside her, browsing the various enticements offered by the men posting. Her eye had been immediately drawn to one post that Molly had marked. She read the words to herself, and then again aloud to fully understand what she was seeing. She had believed for so long that Malcolm was the one and only perfect match for her that she was shocked and intrigued at the same time.

Single, tall, fun loving and handsome 55 years old seeks long term relationship with attractive female 30 – 45 years old. Must have a good sense of humour, enjoy the theatre, cinema, fine dining and travelling to exotic locations. Located in London but willing to travel to meet. Box Number 1596

She had looked over at Molly to share her amazement and found her staring down at her hands cupped around the coffee cup.

‘Is something the matter Molly?’ Rosemary was unused to Molly being subdued and quiet.

Slowly Molly looked up from her cappuccino and smiled fondly at her friend.

‘I was going to meet this guy for dinner but changed my mind when I saw him sitting at the table in the restaurant,” she paused and looked through the cafe window as if trying to choose her words carefully. “I know how much you still love Malcolm, but I think that it is time that you faced the reality of your situation and look to the future.’

Molly tapped the advertisement on the screen with her immaculately manicured nail. ‘You need to arrange to meet this man and confront your fear of losing everything you have treasured from the past.’

The two women parted company outside the cafe and Rosemary drove home to the empty house that she had shared with Malcolm for so many years. It was far too big for the two of them especially when he was away on business trips alone leaving her for several weeks at a time. She had hoped at one point to fill the rooms with children’s laughter, but somehow it was never the right time for one reason or another.

Rosemary knew that Molly was right. She could no longer hide away from life; she needed to face the future whatever it held. She rang her friend’s mobile number and asked her to come over the next morning to help her upload a profile to the site to enable her to respond to the advertisement.

So here she was, getting ready for her first date in over twenty-five years with a man called Andrew. When her own profile had been activated, she had replied to the box number in his advertisement and over the next week they had exchanged a number of emails via the site. Although he was eager to know more about her, Rosemary had been reticent to offer her personal email or too much information until she met him face to face.

She had changed her mind several times about what to wear for this first encounter, finally deciding to wear a new dress she had bought on a whim a few weeks ago. Malcolm had always insisted she looked perfect in pastel colours and this daring emerald green number would have certainly provoked some comment. She had also been to a new hairdresser this morning and requested a radical new look. Gone was the long brunette hair that Malcolm said suited her best; in its stead was a sleek blonde shoulder length bob.

Finally she stood in front of the long mirror in their bedroom and viewed the transformation. Rosemary took several moments to get used to the new image and then smiled as she decided that she liked it. Picking up a colourful floral scarf to put around her shoulders and grabbing her handbag, she walked down to the kitchen to order a taxi.

She deliberately arrived at the restaurant fifteen minutes early and was shown to a discreet table in the corner. Rosemary could not remember when she had been this nervous and sipped the water provided by the waiter when he left the two menus. She kept glancing at the door of the restaurant apprehensively. She knew that Andrew would have to ask directions to the table as he would not recognise her, particularly in the dimly lit room. On the table to the right of her place setting was a bulky envelope. Andrew in one of his recent emails had suggested that she might bring some photographs of the places that she had visited on her trips and that he would do likewise. A talking point to break the ice.

Closing her eyes she took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves. When she opened them again she saw a tall, good looking man standing in the entrance to the dining area. He managed to get the attention of one of the waiters who then pointed out Rosemary sitting in the corner table. He walked confidently across with a warm smile on his face until he stood in front of her. Andrew looked into her eyes and he gasped.

‘Hello Malcolm.’ Rosemary attempted to keep the quiver out of her voice. ‘I see that you are not at the New York head office after all this week. Please sit down as we have a great deal to talk about.’

Taken aback by his usually complacent wife’s new look and the rigid set of her mouth, he complied ungraciously; flinging his coat on the back of one of the chairs. She pushed the envelope across the table towards him and as his fingers closed over the bulky package she smiled sadly.

‘Perhaps we should start by discussing these divorce papers.’

©Sally Cronin

My latest book, Tales from the Irish Garden,has received some recent reviews

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree. Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight. As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tales from the Irish Garden is a magical book of stories of the queen of Magia as she is uprooted from her beloved home in Spain under the large magnolia tree to find a new home in the green and lush Emerald Isle. She must ensure the safety of all her subjects and precious statues as she prepares to make the move to their new home.

There is fantasy, romance, magical fairies, Lerpersians, and goblins who make these stories rich and fascinating. As I read along I found myself cheering on the queen and her entourage as they travel the long distance and finally arrive to settle down in their new surroundings.

The author has incorporated the personalities of her beloved father-in-law and mother into these characters of the storyteller and the queen. She has created a beautiful book of memories at the same time of her lovely home in Spain and her now new home in Ireland. She puts all her love and feelings into her stories making them even more meaningful to the reader. She is a consummate storyteller who has a talent to draw her readers into the tales and make them believe in magic and the world of fairies.

I highly recommend this exceptionally entertaining read. If you love this book as much as I do you will also love all Sally Cronin’s other lovely books.

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Here is a selection of my other books… an amazing gif designed by Paul Andruss… thanks Paul

You can find details of all my books in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed this short story… always enjoy your feedback Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name Volume II – Martha- The System Administrator


Welcome to the first of this weekend’s short stories taken from my collection What’s in a Name Volumen II.  The first story is about Martha.. who is a personal assistant who goes above and beyond for her boss.

Martha – The System Administrator

Jennifer stood in the middle of the lift and stared at her black leather pumps. She noticed a scuff on the left side of the toe of the right shoe, realising that she had kicked the full waste basket a little harder than she thought at the time. She was weary and unusually tearful. It had been a tough week all round with particularly hard advertising revenue to achieve, but it had ended on the sourest note of all.

She managed a team of fifty telephone sales canvassers who sold high end car and luxury property advertising for the national online paper she worked for. These days both those markets were tough going. It seemed that people were hanging onto high ticket items waiting for a rise in demand for both.

However, her boss who lived in his ivory tower of an office on the top floor of the building; still insisted on increasing her targets for revenue on a monthly basis, dismissive about the state of the market. Despite creative campaigns and offers, she was finding it more and more difficult to satisfy his demands.

Her guys worked their socks off and she knew that they did so for their generous salaries and commission. She also knew that they did their very best to achieve the targets that she asked of them, even though they might groan when she wrote them on their sales board in the office. When they hit their daily and weekly revenues, they always included her in their trip to the pub for a celebratory pint, and on tough days, most would stay late to pick up an extra car or property advert to make up the numbers.

The doors to the lift opened and she wearily made her way across the cement floor to where her company car was parked. She had to admit that she could not complain about her hybrid Turing which was a perk given to sales managers once they had been in the job for five years or longer. She had inherited the vehicle from one of the senior executives when he retired a month ago and she loved all its special add on features and programming. At this very moment it was about the only thing about the job apart from her team that she did love.

She saw that the car was already idling and that there was the faint sound of music coming from the open passenger side window. She smiled and knew that the day was just about to get a little better. She touched the keypad in her hand and the boot lid opened so she could store her briefcase away. She went around to the driver’s side and slid into the leather seat and rested her head back against the comforting upholstery.

‘Bad day love?’ The calming tones of the other occupant of the car made her open her eyes.

‘The worst Martha, the worst.’ Jennifer reached across and turned the music down a notch. ‘Beaumont came into the office before everyone left, and gave us his usual Friday afternoon lecture about how we were not achieving our targets, and that the team were obviously neither motivated nor managed well enough to do the job.’

She paused as her eyes welled up with more tears and sat silently for a moment. ‘He then turned to me and told me to be in his office first thing Monday morning and then stormed out.’

As she bit her lip, she felt warm lightly scented air move across her face and body calming her down. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose before pushing the buttons on her pathfinder to take them home.

As the car exited the underground garage she checked right and left before nudging the accelerator to join the line of traffic headed in the direction out of the city. She switched the car to auto but kept her hands lightly on the wheel.

‘That was most unfair of him Jennifer and very unprofessional,’ Martha spoke quietly in her ear. ‘That is a deliberate tactic to make you worry all weekend about your job and your team’s security, and my advice is to put it out of your mind completely however hard that might be.’

‘I know Martha,’ Jennifer kept an eye on the busy Friday evening traffic at the same time as acknowledging the truth of her companion’s words.

‘This car and your unexpected friendship are about the only thing keeping me in the job at the moment,’ she smiled ruefully. ‘Of course that is not entirely true, I love my team and I can’t bear the thought of them being left in the hands of that narcissistic jumped up jerk.’

‘I may have done something that should help.’

Without taking her eyes off the road, Jennifer stiffened with surprise. Martha would never do anything against the rules; she was by nature very rigid and predictable and this was a complete shock.

‘What are you talking about Martha, what have you done?’

There was a moment’s pause. ‘As system administrator, I have access to the emails sent throughout the company, and I read Beaumont’s this morning. I found several from the chairman of the board of directors insisting that he had to cut at least £200,000 from this year’s staff budget.’

Shocked and now even more worried, Jennifer gripped the steering wheel; despite having no need to except in an emergency. ‘Oh no Martha, if they find out they will terminate you.’

Martha continued. ‘Well actually I am afraid I did a little more than that.’

‘Oh my friend that is so dangerous. I don’t want anything to happen to you because of my problems.’

‘Don’t worry; Beaumont will be in no position to do anything to me or to you and your team by Monday morning.’

This was serious, and seeing a gap in the parked cars to her left, Jennifer indicated and pulled in. Now she could focus on what her friend was saying.

‘Tell me everything Martha and don’t leave anything out.’

‘I replied to the chairman’s emails on Beaumont’s behalf after he left this evening, resigning effective immediately. His reasoning being that he is paid £250,000 per year plus various benefits that amounted to over £400,000. He stated that this would prevent any need for a staffing reduction for the next two years, enabling the market to improve and also current sales targets to remain in place. He also recommended that you become Sales Director with a salary increase and that you be given the freedom to manage your team as you see fit to achieve those targets.’

Jennifer found it difficult to take this all in and was absolutely speechless that this mild mannered entity, who only wished everyone well, should have come up with such a Machiavellian plan.

‘But Martha, they will simply refuse to accept his resignation and worse still they might investigate his email and find out you tampered with it.’

‘Jennifer I designed the system and know how to cover my tracks very well. I also took out a little insurance policy that will encourage the board to accept his resignation without question.’

This was now becoming surreal and Jennifer shook her head from side to side in amazement.

‘I’m waiting Martha…don’t keep me in suspense.’

‘I checked Beaumont’s personal text messages on his company phone and discovered that he has been having an affair with the head of human resources; who is also married incidentally. Unfortunately one of those texts will arrive on the Chairman’s phone by the time he gets his first cup of coffee on his desk on Monday. A scandal at the moment is the last thing the company needs; Beaumont’s resignation will be seen as a blessing.

Jennifer was finding it very difficult to get her head around this seemingly well thought out solution to her dilemma, but then realised that it was already underway, and nothing that she could do at this point could change that.

Making sure that she was clear to join the decreasing traffic out of the city she instructed the car to indicate and proceed homeward. She rested her hands lightly on the steering wheel as it made necessary slight adjustments.

‘Please say you are not angry with me.’ Martha sounded contrite and Jennifer took a deep breath. ‘No, I am not angry with you Martha, although you have overstepped the bounds of your job specification. I know it was done because you’re my friend.’ She paused and tried to be as clear as possible.

‘You must never put yourself in danger of termination like this again. Please promise me that they will never discover how involved you have become with me and my team. We rely on your essential assistance to help us achieve those major targets week after week.’

As the car entered the drive to Jennifer’s home, and before she switched off the ignition she waited for a response. ‘I promise Jennifer.’

The front door opened and her husband stood in the doorway framed by the light from the hall. Jennifer retrieved her briefcase from the back of the car and walked into his comforting embrace.

‘How was your day love, did you end the week better than it started.’ James looked down at his wife.

She smiled at him and they wandered arm and arm into the kitchen where a delicious aroma filled the air.

‘You are not going to believe this, but you know that our system administrator is the latest A.I. technology called Martha… well it seems that she is a little more intelligent than we expected!

©Sally Cronin

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

My latest book, released on September 24th, Tales from the Irish Garden,has received some recent reviews

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree. Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight. As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

One of the recent reviews for the book

Sally Cronin brings us back to the magical garden of tales, now transported to Ireland, moved from it’s former home in Spain. Here we are taken into the lives of mystical characters of old and new, with their busy lives taking place under the Magnolia tree, kept under the watchful eye of the Storyteller, and the reign of Queen Filigree.

The author shares with us, delicious descriptions of royal parties with kings and queens – be they Queen Bees or royalty, and prepared delicacies by a 3 Wizard Star chef, complete with healthy ingredients, snuck in by Cronin with her vast knowledge as a nutritional therapist.

Some of these characters in the Irish garden emigrated from Book 1 – Tales from the Garden and new ones have joined in. The stories are broken down and told in seasons, depicting characters and their stories of hardships and incidence coming full circle where despite the conflicts, there are happy endings with life lessons to take from. Jeremy, the timid donkey is back with his arch enemy Gerard, once again feeling threatened by any other male near his female heifer friends. And with the help of Jeremy’s mother Fiona, and the Storytellers’s aid, a plot was hatched to spare Jeremy from being bullied by the macho Gerard. We also encounter a May/December romance and relationship that works between the older Queen Filigree and the handsome young Prince Ronan. (Having access to the fountain of youth to maintain her youth and beauty didn’t hurt!) We’ll also experience the evil that jealousy can bring forth as when the evil Magnus turns newlyweds Eddie and Dorothy (the Storyteller’s daughter) into foxes, and mice who look after those in need.

Whether human or animal, everyone in the garden ultimately learns to get along and pulls together when danger approaches. Many great life lessons to be taken in this charming book for all ages alike. With kindness and compassion evil always loses out. #Recommended. 

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Here is a selection of my other books… an amazing gif designed by Paul Andruss… thanks Paul

You can find details of all my books in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

#BookLaunch – Tales from the Irish Garden by Sally Cronin…..


At last the day has arrived and Tales from the Irish Garden is now available.

The book has been three years in the writing, mainly because what began as short stories in line with the first collection, turned into a full-length book. As we moved back from Spain to Ireland, house hunted, and then embarked on a renovation project, there were breaks from  the process. However, the upside was that I had the time to adapt and create new characters and adventures with more freedom. It also gave me time to meet Donata Zawadzka, courtesy of Paul Andruss, and after seeing her wonderful illustrations, I commissioned a number for the book to showcase some of the lead characters. More about Donata shortly.

Many of those that lived in the palace in Spain in the garden of our house, followed me across land and sea to settle in a magic garden here in Ireland. The larger statues and guardians, sadly had to remain but as you will discover as you read the book, they were not abandoned but relocated. As an introduction to Tales from the Irish Garden, I included a Previously.…. so that those who have not read the original stories could get up to speed.

Here then is the blurb… and an excerpt from the introduction….

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

Here is a short excerpt from the introduction to Tales from the Irish Garden and please meet Queen Filigree as created by Donata Zawadzka

Previously…..In the first volume of stories, we had left Queen Filigree, and her magic kingdom of Magia, recovering from an attack from the Winter Fairy who had threatened to disrupt the final summer ball of the year.

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

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

The Winter Fairy however, had underestimated the power of a secret underground movement in his own kingdom… There was a mole in his organisation and a rabbit and a rat. The rabbit and his family, had cousins who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Filigree in the magic kingdom, in fact one of them played in the royal band. He was a bit too fond of the Amber Nectar, but a good sort all the same.

The story continues across the four seasons as the fairy court spends a last Christmas in Spain and then seek sanctuary in the Magic Garden on the Emerald Island.

 

The book is now available in Kindle on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Here is a selection of my other books… an amazing gif designed by Paul Andruss… thanks Paul

All my books in Ebook are available for Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

About illustrator Donata Zawadzka

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://www.artdonataezawadzka.com
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations
Like Dona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donataewa.zawadzka?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonataEZawadzka

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this book launch. I would be very grateful if you would consider reblogging the post or sharing in any other way that you can.