Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Solar Minimum, Jazz Guitar, Vitamin Deficiency, Italian Cookery and Mischief in the court of Charles II


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

We are still waiting for summer with four times the annual monthly rainfall already in June. Not good news for the farmers and their crops… We also have a northerly air flow across Europe which means that even Madrid where we used experience temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s at this time of year, is only getting 16 to 20 degrees.

There is no doubt that there is climate change, but it is hard to put much stock in the warming that is threatened when the central heating is still on in June. There is no doubt that mankind is damaging our planet to a great degree but we have been also experiencing a reduction in solar activity in the last few years and are now in what is called Solar Minimum. This actually could put climate warming on the back burner for the next 50 years with extensive cooling and longer and colder winters for us all.. You might find these posts interesting   especially as we had 16 days of solar inactivity in the last month.

The Climate Depot: https://www.climatedepot.com/2018/02/08/solar-minimum-may-bring-50-years-of-global-cooling/

Astronomy Now: https://astronomynow.com/2015/07/17/diminishing-solar-activity-may-bring-new-ice-age-by-2030/

On a more cheerful note…..I have received some wonderful submissions for the new Sunday Interview beginning at the end of the month, and I will be scheduling posts in the next week. I would love to hear from you, with your perspective on the human senses.. and sixth sense, along with the opportunity to promote your blog and books if you are an author..

Here are the details: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-new-sunday-interview-series-human-in-every-sense-of-the-word-starting-sunday-june-30th-2019/

Looking forward to hearing from you…

Here are the posts from the week that you might have missed….

As always I am very grateful for the contributions from the regular guests and also to everyone who drops in during the week to like, comment and share.. the blog would not be the same without you.

This week William Price King shares the music of Grammy Award winning American Guitarist Pat Metheny

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-pat-metheny-guitarist/

Thomas the Rhymer

Part two of the story of Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II by Paul Andruss

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-barbara-villiers-part-2-uncrowned-queen-by-paul-andruss/

Carol Taylor and I team up to share the deficiency of nutrients that are likely with a poor diet, the foods that contain this week Vitamin B12 and Vitamin E.. which helps B12 be absorbed.. and some recipes that contain healthy amounts of both..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-to-prevent-nutritional-deficiencies-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-vitamin-b12-cyanocolbalamin-combined-with-vitamin-e/

This month Silvia Todesco begins a series of summer themed recipes, beginning with the classic rice salad…Classic Rice Salad (Insalata de Riso)

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-italiancookery-with-silvia-todesco-summer-classic-rice-salad-insalata-de-riso/

The story continues with Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land and the court must pack up and leave the palace under the magnolia tree in Spain and head off on the backs of the Goose Express to The Emerald Island to face an unknown future.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-winter-chapter-four-the-flight-to-the-new-land-sally-cronin/

The next episode this weekend is Winter: Chapter Five – The Dapperman..unable to bring all the clothes from the queen’s wardrobe of of her courtiers, the services of the local fashion designer is sought.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-winter-chapter-five-the-dapper-man-sally-cronin/

Lovely to welcome back Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 131 following her relocation and settling into her new home. This week she set us the challenge to find synonyms for her prompt words ‘Beginning and Consume’… here is my response.. Old Soldiers.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/smorgasbord-poetry-colleens-tuesday-poetry-challenge-131-double-etheree-old-soldiers-by-sally-cronin/

That time of the week when I participate in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills the prompt is ‘Many Hands’ and here is my piece of flash of 99 words, no more, no less.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/smorgasbord-short-story-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-many-hands-by-sally-cronin/

This week Sherri Matthews shares her father’s story, which was complicated. It is a frank look at his life and also acknowledgement of how much he is loved. This was first posted in 2013. Sherri’s father sadly passed away in 2016, but she had dedicated her blog to him with a lovely tribute..About Sherri Matthews

Most recent photo of me and my dad taken in 2006 during a day out from his halfway house. No photos allowed in prison! (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-sherri-matthews-memoir-my-dad-the-great-train-robbery-and-a-game-of-cricket/

Time to welcome another regular contributor to the Archive series John Rieber.. this time I am going to be selecting the posts from his extensive archive..This week a restaurant with a difference.. and if you remember your grandmother’s cooking.. you will want to eat at this restaurant. A Staten Island Restaurant Hires Unique Cooks – The World’s Nonnas!

Image CBS New York

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-recipes-grandmas-cooking-in-the-kitchen-a-staten-island-restaurant-hires-unique-cooks-the-worlds-nonnas-by-john-rieber/

This is the second post from  mother and daughter writing team HL Carpenter (Helen and Lorri). Here is a short story… keeping the fairy tale alive.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-fiction-the-truth-about-fairy-tales-by-hl-carpenter/

Today I am sharing the second post from the archives of Marian Wood and her blog Just Muddling Through Life Marian has been blogging since October 2018 and posts about family life, writing, fiction and poetry…for her second post I have chosen a short story…..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-short-story-money-a-row-a-walk-and-a-tight-situation-by-marian-wood/

In June 2017, Frank Prem posted a poem a day.. and so I have chosen the poems he posted on this day and then the subsequent poems that correspond to his posts here…this based on his experience as a psychiatry nurse.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-psychiatry-4-acute-observations-the-futility-of-triple-words-by-frank-prem/

This is the second post from the archives of Tasker Dunham. I have selected this post as I remember my father building a replica biplane for my brother when he was four, along with a headset borrowed from the station we were based on.

Grandad Dunham's Chair - Flight Simulator

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-memoir-grandad-dunhams-flight-simulator-by-tasker-dunham/

This is the second post from the archives of fantasy author Lorinda J. Taylor and in this week’s post she explores some of the grammatical changes over time and some E-Book formatting tips..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-ye-olde-grammarian-no-6-a-hodgepodge-plus-some-e-book-formatting-tips-from-lorinda-j-taylor/

Olga Nunez Miret writes detailed and thought provoking book reviews and here is one that caught my eye..

Fallen Idols. A Century of Screen Sex-Scandals (Images of the Past) by Nigel Blundell

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-bookreview-fallen-idols-a-century-of-screen-sex-scandals-images-of-the-past-by-nigel-blundell-penswordbooks-by-olga-nunez-miret/

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun.  In this post Jennie compares childhood and summer.. then and now.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-childhood-and-summer-then-and-now-by-jennie-fitzkee/

This week London  Cabbie writing as Gibson Square shares a post from the Urban View series which looks at buildings or locations in London that have a hidden history..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-an-urban-view-223-bow-road-by-gibson-square-the-cabbie-blog/

This is Elizabeth Slaughter’s third post from the archives and I remember watching black and white movies at the cinema as a child and then on our television that was not colour until well into the 1960s.. Elizabeth shares her love of the big screen.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-movies-in-colour-by-elizabeth-slaughter/

Time for another post from Kim of By Hook or by Book and  I have selected one from her Whimsical Wednesday Series – Mr. Rogers Edition

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-whimsical-wednesday-mr-rogers-edition-by-kim-of-by-hook-or-by-book/

This week’s post from Susanne Swanson is a post which mirrors my sentiments about team building exercises in general.  And it is something to think about in relation to how we all react when we here the words ‘Think outside the Box’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-thinking-outside-the-box-puzzle-by-susanne-swanson/

And for her final posts…appropriately by Balroop Singh... I have shared an ode to Poetry.

Poetry

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-ode-to-poetry-by-balroop-singh/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-bette-a-stevens-andrew-joyce-and-marina-osipova/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-sue-vincent-janice-spina-christoph-fischer-and-teri-polen/

Eggs are highly nutritious and have been much maligned over the years. But they do need to be prepared carefully.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/smorgasbord-health-column-food-safety-eggs-are-wonderfully-nutritious-but-should-be-prepared-carefully-by-sally-cronin/

This week I share the shopping list of foods that may help you ward of dementia… but also some things to look out for in elderly relatives if you are caring for them.. Sometimes dementia symptoms can be down to interaction with other drugs or a urinary tract infection.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/smorgasbord-health-column-the-brain-shopping-list-for-the-brain-and-its-support-systems-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-7/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-random-thoughts-and-a-joke-from-the-archives/

 

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for all your support… look forward to seeing you again soon.. Sally.

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Tales from the Irish Garden Serialisation – Winter – Chapter Five – The Dapperman – Sally Cronin


Winter – Chapter Five – The Dapperman – Sally Cronin

The next few days passed in a blur as Queen Filigree, Persephone and Narcissus and the rest of the court settled into their new quarters. Whilst the royal family had managed to bring a good selection of their regal attire on the goose transport, most of the other courtiers and servants had only managed to bring one change of clothing. Clearly this was going to be problem within a short space of time, despite the fact that a site for the new laundry had been found.

At the top of the new palace, next to the pigeon house, was a chamber with a steady supply of dripping rainwater through a gap in the roots. This fed a trough that flowed into large barrels, fashioned from fallen bark from the forest, and waterproofed with moss mixed with heated pine resin. The fairy engineers who had designed this system many years ago for the previous occupants, had also found discarded tin cans in the woods that had been carefully sliced in two lengthways, to provide excellent washing pots.

Since a palace full of smoke is not ideal, the kitchens were also on this level with chimney stacks from the ovens venting the workspace into the open air. Water would be taken from the barrels in large soup pots fashioned by the tinsmiths over the years. It would be heated over fires on a metal trivet alongside the carefully constructed brick ovens. The head laundress would then bring her assistants in to collect the hot water, pouring it into the two half tin cans. The first was for washing clothes with Soapwort, made from flowers collected from the garden, before being rinsed in the second vat of hot water.

Mangles were then used to remove the excess water, before the clothes and linens were set to dry on rods suspended from the ceiling in the warmth of the kitchen.

In Spain in the warm dry climate, the fairies had worn light clothing, and to be honest, some didn’t wear anything at all except for a strategically placed lily petal. But even though it was spring in the Emerald Island, it was very cold for these warm-blooded creatures, and they were now wearing several layers. The trouble was they had brought so little with them that they were now fighting amongst themselves over bits and pieces; quickly becoming threadbare and ragged.

The head laundress requested an audience with the chamberlain, who in turn approached her majesty with the problem. It so happened, that Queen Filigree had extended an invitation to the Storyteller, to join her and her courtiers for a celebration dinner, and it was to be this very night.

Her newly appointed head guardian duly arrived, shrunk to the appropriate size; dressed in his best suit and wearing patent leather dancing shoes. He bowed low to her majesty and then waved forward three wizened old fellows carrying a violin, flute and a lute.

‘Your gracious Majesty I would like to present a small gift towards this evening’s proceedings, since I know you were forced to leave your own stoned band behind.’ With that he pushed the trio in front of him.

‘These are the O’Reilly brothers, Liam, Herbert and Willie and they are here to entertain us through dinner and for dancing if you will permit them.’ He looked at the queen for approval.

Queen Filigree clapped her hands in delight, ordering that the band be brought some amber nectar from the royal beehive, and that they be positioned at the end of the ballroom. Having seen the three brothers happily seated on chairs on the bandstand, she led her honoured guest to the top table to sit at her right hand side. She introduced him to her daughters and they instantly fell under the charm of this eloquent raconteur. He in turn, starved of female company for many a year, twirled his fulsome moustache and made the most of the opportunity.

As they dipped into the first course of roasted cowslip tongues with crispy ants, Queen Filigree mentioned her current problem with the lack of clothing for the rest of the fairies in this much colder climate. The Storyteller listened attentively, and then going slightly against protocol, placed his hand on the forearm of her majesty.

‘I have just the man to help you your majesty and, if you will permit me, I shall make arrangements for him to call tomorrow with his staff of tailors. You will find no better person in the whole of the Emerald Island when it comes to creating attractive but robust clothing for both his elite customers and those who might have less to spend on a suit.’

With that little problem out of the way, the evening proceeded, and in the fashion of those who inhabit the Emerald Island, the Storyteller insisted that every courtier stand up and deliver a piece of verse, a song or a comical anecdote. This indeed was a strange custom, but as the amber nectar flowed, and the courses continued to tickle the palate, each of the queen’s inner circle stood up and delivered their party piece. There was much laughter and good natured ribbing of the participants and Queen Filigree became a little concerned as her own turn rapidly approached.

She stood up from the table and the rowdy crowd immediately went silent. She indicated their special guest and smiled to her audience. ‘Far be it for me to steal just one more moment of anticipation of our honoured guest’s own contribution.’ Pausing for effect she touched the shoulder of her companion. ‘Without further ado, I give you the fabled Storyteller, who I know is going to delight us all with one of his own stories.’

With a flourish of her hand she sat down and applauded as the Storyteller took to his feet.
He stood a little unsteadily for a moment as he adjusted to the amount of amber nectar he had imbibed, and then smiled at his audience.

‘Stop me if you have heard this one before!…’

The following day the Queen was partaking of a long soak in her rose-water scented bath, recovering from the night before. Her head seemed to be ringing in time with the dandelion clocks outside the entrance to the palace; reminding her that she must get her bell master to prevail upon them to only ring between the hours of nine in the morning and ten at night. But, overall she was very happy with her new palace and the surrounding gardens and forest were delightfully green. Since their arrival a week ago there had been an unseasonal dry period, but the local weather expert that had been provided by the Storyteller, warned that a wet front was coming in.

She rang a bluebell by the side of the bath, and her lady of the bath chamber, Brianna, popped in immediately with two large fluffy cottontail drying mitts they had managed to push into the last cases as they fled Spain. They were spun from the moulted underfur of specially bred rabbits, and were soft and absorbent. This reminded her majesty that she needed to start a new breeding programme with the male and female that had been sent ahead with the pigeons. She smiled to herself knowingly, as she surmised that the project might already be well underway.

Dried, dressed for the day and fortified with a glass of beetroot and fennel juice, Queen Filigree glided down to her state room to consult her advisors on the various plans in place to ensure their well-being in this new land. She walked in to find a fashion show in progress, and was taken aback by the lack of ceremony that accompanied her entrance. The cause for this kerfuffle was a little man in a black and green velvet jacket with a tape measure in one hand, and a cushion of gold pins in the other.

‘My dears, that is not the way to walk when wearing knickerbockers. Please stand up straight, knees parallel and toes pointing forward’. With that, the tiny man demonstrated the correct pace and posture to best show off the tweed trousers being modelled by half of the royal council.

Queen Filigree was not used to being ignored and clapped her hands to get the attention of the mannequins.

She regarded the startled faces that turned towards her, and was gratified to see that her chancellor had the grace to look embarrassed. Her advisors all rushed forward bowing and opening a path way to the throne, and the now mollified queen passed gracefully through.

Having seated herself she gestured to the little man and his tape measure to come forward.

‘And who, my fine man, would you be?’ she asked imperiously.

With an elegant bow, and a perfectly extended stockinged leg, the little man made his obeisance to the queen. He rose to stand in front of her with a delighted smile on his round and pink cheeked face.

‘Your Highnessnessness,’ He approached to the steps of the dais. ‘I am the Dapperman, and I have been sent by the Storyteller, with my assistants, to provide your court with the clothing that they will require for our unpredictable and unusually damp weather.’

He ushered forth his three assistants who in turn bent their knees to her majesty, and he introduced them as Leuan, Zane and Freddie. Over their arms they carried piles of brightly coloured clothing of all types, trousers, skirts and dresses with wonderfully tailored tweed jackets and coats.

‘You are welcome Dapperman, as are your assistants.’ Queen Filigree settled down and looked around the room before leaning forward to whisper ‘I am afraid, we do at this moment have limited resources, as our honeycomb banks are depleted until the hive can be rejuvenated by your spring flowers.’

The small man leant forward as far as protocol allowed and whispered back to her. ‘Your majesty, the Storyteller has covered all of this season’s clothes as a welcome gift to your court, and only asks that he be invited to more of your stupendous parties.’

Very relieved that the honey stores would not be depleted any further, the queen signalled for the fashion show to resume, and to summon all the servants that they might also be suitably attired. With a lively jig supplied by her borrowed trio of musicians, the O’Reilly Boys, the next few hours passed in a wonderful blaze of colour and style. Even the Queen retreated behind some discreetly placed shell screens to change into some very fetching tweed wear.

By the end of the day, all the residents of the kingdom, from the chief advisors to the lowliest kitchen maid, had been measured for a wardrobe of warm clothes, some more fashionable than others, but without exception, everyone would now own a pair of waterproof boots and a cape that would cover them from head to toe on rainy days.

The Dapperman appreciated that this was a rush job. He sent his assistants post haste back to his factory on the edge of the forest where a team of experienced seamstresses would whip up the unusually large order, working day and night. Their boss was a generous man and with a hefty advance from the storyteller in his pocket, he ordered Zane to order in some bottles of homemade ginger beer and some brack, the fruit loaf favoured in this neck of the woods.

With her court now due to receive their changes of clothing within a few days, her majesty requested the presence of the Dapperman in her private chambers to look over her diminished wardrobe, and of her daughters, that had been brought from Spain. Aware of the need for respect when measuring his royal patrons, the Dapperman requested that Lady Ellie hold the tape measure under his direction. In all honesty he was quite taken with this exotic creature with jet black hair and a slightly haughty air about her. Her eyes were the deepest green and he had to shake himself to come back to the task in hand.

Queen Filigree and the two princesses sat around a table and consulted the design on display and the swatches of silk and satin. The colours were slightly more muted than those that they were used to in the bright light of Spain, but they were delighted with the vibrancy of the imported silks from the orient. Many hours passed and the Dapperman held court as he sipped amber nectar and nibbled on buttered oatcakes. Seldom had he enjoyed such illustrious clients and he was going to enjoy throwing all his creativity and skill at the project.

As he left, many hours later, he did a little jig and flung his topper into the air. In his pocket was a small but beautifully formed ruby. The queen had been very grateful for the generosity of the Storyteller to her court, but wanted to bear the cost of her finery herself.

There would be something left over, after the new wardrobes had been designed and created, for some beautiful matching shoes for her majesty made from the imported cast-off skin of the slow worm. As the Dapperman skipped through the meadow, towards his factory, he also thought about the emerald linen that was left over from an order last spring that would match the eyes of the exotic Miss Ellie. A gift perhaps, in return for her services this evening, and perhaps it might lead to a thawing of her imperious nature.

©Sally Cronin 2018

One of the reviews for Tales from the Irish Garden

Sally Cronin’s Tales From the Irish Garden (2018) is the delightful story of 900+ year old Queen Filgree, fairy royalty forced to move her entire family from the warmth of Spain to the strange green Isle of Ireland where she must hide in the magical invisible (almost) garden of the powerful Storyteller. The book’s twenty-one tales take us through her first year in sanctuary as she gets to know her new home, the powers of the magical garden, the good-hearted and spirited members of her new community, and the magical creatures that live with her. Each tale relays an event that affected the Queen’s household such as the bewitching of the Storyteller’s daughter, a royal visit from a neighboring Prince, the maturing of her two daughters, Jeremy the donkey, piglet races, her own marriage, and more. Each can stand-alone but as a whole, they build a dramatic timeline of events that change the Queen from a lonely exile to fulfilled wife. With each tale, I felt closer to the queen and came to admire her attitude and civility.

I’ve read several of Sally Cronin’s books (click to see my review of Sam). She is a skilled storyteller who knows exactly how much to reveal and when. This book is no exception. Despite being fantasy, the writing is down-to-earth and easy to follow, with exactly the right amount of world building so I understand the fantasy world without getting confused by its differences from our human one. The result is a story told in tales that is fast-moving and atmospheric with a strong sense of where and when. Read these lines. See if you don’t agree:

“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.”

“…enticing the bull over to the barred gate, and offering him peppermints which he was addicted to.”

“The main course was poached quail’s eggs and stuffed courgette flowers, filled with minced nuts, mushrooms and goats cheese and fried in crispy batter. This was served with chips and Chef Marcelle’s renowned curry sauce, a favourite after a night of drinking amber nectar.”

“The Queen’s guard, consisting of twenty highly trained and athletic young fairies, were sent off in full ceremonial uniform to await the advance troops of the visiting royal party at the invisible gate at the far end of the magic garden.”

Since I have a blarney stone’s-worth of Irish in me, I paid particular attention to the setting, especially those pesky leprechauns. Though the story is fantasy, it is also about oh so human dreams of love, happiness, and eternal youth. In a few words: It is delightful. Fun. Happy. Whimsical. Highly recommended for anyone with a child within them who dreams that miracles can happen.

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter six next Saturday.. Sally.

The previous chapters of Tales from the Irish Garden can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation/

Tales from the Irish Garden Serialisation – Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land – Sally Cronin


Winter: Chapter Four – The Flight to the New Land

Back at the Palace it was pandemonium, with fairies flying around in a discordant symphony of gossamer wings. Finally, after a day of panic, Queen Filigree ordered her advisors to bring all the members of the court to the ballroom so that she could address them. She also summoned Jacamo the pigeon master, the Queen Bee from the royal hives and Sir Gregory’s chief butterfly messenger; all of whom were essential to the planning of this massive migration to the new land.

‘I want you all to sit down on the chairs provided and close your eyes for a few moments to compose yourselves.’ Queen Filigree looked around the ballroom to make sure all complied with her order. When all the fairies were sitting calmly, she took a deep breath herself, and then issued the following edict.

‘Unfortunately we cannot pack all that we have collected in the last 700 years, and we also cannot transport many of our stone guardians that have guarded our secrets so well.’ The queen heard one or two gasps and ran her eyes over the crowded chamber until she spotted several of her courtiers with their eyes open in dismay.

‘Fairy Nikisha, close your eyes this instant and pay attention.’ Immediately she saw the little blonde fairy’s eyes snap shut again.

Satisfied that she had everyone’s attention she continued. ‘Those guardians that we cannot carry by swan, will be transported north for safety to Prince Zachary’s palace, where one day he will be king. He lives in a safe haven that is protected land, and they will be welcomed there. I charge them with caring for my beloved son and his family for their lifetime.’

Those listening heard the break in their beloved queen’s voice, as she shared this news of their revered guardians. ‘It is with much sadness that I lose their loyalty and wisdom, but we will be taking with us the eagles, who have been our guardians since Roman times, and the Princess Lucinda who came to us from my mother’s kingdom in Anglo.’

Tears were in the queen’s eyes as she took a moment to calm herself. She knew that she had done the best she could for her beloved guardians, and she smiled wryly at the thought that she would even miss that wretched Stoned Band.

‘Now, all of you are to take one silk bag from the corner, and that will be sufficient for some clothes, toiletries, personal mementos, and a honey drink and blueberry muffin for the trip. The Swan Express will be supplying us with Canadian Geese to carry the passengers, and Swan Cobs for the household items such as furniture, linen and gold.’

Queen Filigree clapped her hands. ‘Now, open your eyes all of you, and has anyone got any questions?’

Immediately the Queen Bee lifted one of her furry feet and waved it in the air and began to buzz her question.

‘Your majesty, what about my subjects, and the stores of beeswax and honey, how are they to be transported?’

‘Thank you for asking Queen Bee. You and your hive will be transported in special honey baskets that will be provided by Swan Express. They will be strapped to their most experienced employees, and will leave in two days.’ Satisfied with the solution, the bee queen left to organise her minions.

The next three days passed in a much more orderly fashion, with treasures taken up from the roots of the magnolia, to waiting swans with capacious saddle bags that were filled to the brim. When they left fully loaded, they also carried a senior courtier, who would organise the unpacking and furnishing of the new palace on the Emerald Island.

With only a day to spare, Jacamo and the queen, released all the non-nesting pigeons into the warm spring air to make their own way. A message had already been sent to the Storyteller who had built a dovecote in the branches of the magnolia tree in preparation for their arrival, and within three days, they were all safely roosting and exploring their new surroundings.

On the last day, a line of Canadian Geese lined up on the grass, as a queue of nervous fairies, clasping silk bags with their treasured possessions, waited to fly up to take their seat along the bird’s broad back. Each was tied on with a thread of spider’s silk and a humming- bird moth moved between them checking they were strapped in and comfortable.

The last goose in the line was reserved for Queen Filigree and her two daughters, with considerably more bags of belongings than those flying in economy. But, as a queen it was important that she meet her new guardian, the Storyteller suitably attired.

With everything loaded, she turned for one last look at the garden that had been her home and kingdom for 700 years, following her arrival as a young bride to the handsome prince.

He was now long banished to the human world for his dishonourable behaviour. However, she had many happy memories of her life here, and she would so miss her guardians in the garden, now departed for her son’s palace. She looked up at the branches at the broad green leaves of the magnolia, and saw the tears that had formed on the tips dripping onto the ground. Her own eyes overflowed and she wiped them away with sorrow.

With a deep sigh she flew up to the broad back of the goose where her throne was tied down with spider silk, ready to receive her royal behind. A humming-bird moth brought her a glass of amber nectar, and a packet of honeycomb mixed with ginger in case she felt airsick during the flight. After thanking the flight attendant, the Queen checked that her two daughters were safely seated behind her, and waved her wand in the air to signal that the goose could take to the air.

The goose did a circuit of the now empty magic garden to check that no fairy had been left behind. With a final wave Queen Filigree said her farewell and settled down for the long flight to her new home.

Two days later, with the aid of a tail wind, the goose carrying Queen Filigree and her daughters, arrived in the garden of the Storyteller. As the now weary bird circled to land, the queen looked down at the greenest garden and woods that she had ever seen. She was used to her garden in Spain, remaining much of the year brown and arid, going months without rain. Even in the winter just past, with little snow, the grass had barely recovered and some of the bushes and shrubs had failed to come to life again in the spring.

This was a very good start, and hope flared in her heart again, as she saw lines of geese on the ground close to the magnolia tree that was to be her new kingdom. It seemed that all had arrived safely, as had the swans now pecking at corn and seed that had been strewn across the emerald grass for the hungry birds by the Storyteller.

He was standing waiting by a small strip of red carpet, dressed in his best suit and with a freshly shaved face. As the queen flew down from the back of the goose onto the carpet, the human shrank down in size and stepped out to meet her.

‘Your majesty,’ the smartly dressed man greeted her warmly. ‘It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to your new kingdom beneath the magnolia, where all your belongings are now safely installed. He waved his hand in the direction of the tree, as her excited subjects and courtiers spilled from the roots, rushing towards their queen in joy. She held out her arms and hugged each one with thanks for their safe delivery, and then turned to their new guardian.

‘Thank you Storyteller for your kind hospitality, and I hope that you will join us in a few days, once we are settled, for a banquet of celebration and in your honour.’ The old man smiled in delight and offered to show the palace chef his extensive kitchen garden, and also the herbs available in his neighbour Summer’s garden.

With the greeting ceremony over, Queen Filigree and her daughters were escorted into her new Palace where she found that her courtiers had been busy overnight preparing the chambers. She asked to see the Queen Bee to make sure that she was satisfied with her new quarters, as they were dependent on the honey for so many of their needs. Happily there was a satisfied and a productive hum coming from the roof of the palace, which had access to the garden and the wonderful array of flowers and greenery surrounding their beautiful new home.

After a simple supper prepared by Chef Marcelle, the queen wandered through the passages and caverns that had been another royal palace many moons ago. She admitted to herself that her predecessors had certainly had great taste, and she loved the throne room with its turquoise lacquered walls and drapes of the most vibrant pink. The throne was covered in a woven cloth that combined the two colours, and as she sat and rested her arms on the carved wood armrests, she gave a sigh of relief.

Her imagination had been running riot for the last few weeks, conjuring up every kind of disaster. She slipped from the throne room and down the corridor to her bedchamber, pushing open the door to find a warm glow coming from a roaring fire in a beautifully decorated granite fireplace. Lady Ellie came forward with one of the royal silk nightgowns over her arm, and gently led her over to the separate dressing room to remove her travel crumpled clothing. Before she placed the featherlight nightgown over her majesty’s head, Lady Ellie gently washed her body with a soft natural sea sponge dipped in warm water. Filled with minerals, not only was the dirt removed but the queen’s body was infused with nutrients to aid restful sleep.

Within moments of her head hitting the silk pillows, gentle snores could be heard and Lady Ellie quietly let herself out of the door and into the corridor. The palace was silent as the courtiers and servants slept soundly, content with their new home. All that could be heard was the gentle buzzing from the beehives in the roof and cooing of the messenger birds.

©Sally Cronin 2018

One of the reviews for Tales from the Irish Garden

Sally Cronin’s Tales From the Irish Garden (2018) is the delightful story of 900+ year old Queen Filgree, fairy royalty forced to move her entire family from the warmth of Spain to the strange green Isle of Ireland where she must hide in the magical invisible (almost) garden of the powerful Storyteller. The book’s twenty-one tales take us through her first year in sanctuary as she gets to know her new home, the powers of the magical garden, the good-hearted and spirited members of her new community, and the magical creatures that live with her. Each tale relays an event that affected the Queen’s household such as the bewitching of the Storyteller’s daughter, a royal visit from a neighboring Prince, the maturing of her two daughters, Jeremy the donkey, piglet races, her own marriage, and more. Each can stand-alone but as a whole, they build a dramatic timeline of events that change the Queen from a lonely exile to fulfilled wife. With each tale, I felt closer to the queen and came to admire her attitude and civility.

I’ve read several of Sally Cronin’s books (click to see my review of Sam). She is a skilled storyteller who knows exactly how much to reveal and when. This book is no exception. Despite being fantasy, the writing is down-to-earth and easy to follow, with exactly the right amount of world building so I understand the fantasy world without getting confused by its differences from our human one. The result is a story told in tales that is fast-moving and atmospheric with a strong sense of where and when. Read these lines. See if you don’t agree:

“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.”

“…enticing the bull over to the barred gate, and offering him peppermints which he was addicted to.”

“The main course was poached quail’s eggs and stuffed courgette flowers, filled with minced nuts, mushrooms and goats cheese and fried in crispy batter. This was served with chips and Chef Marcelle’s renowned curry sauce, a favourite after a night of drinking amber nectar.”

“The Queen’s guard, consisting of twenty highly trained and athletic young fairies, were sent off in full ceremonial uniform to await the advance troops of the visiting royal party at the invisible gate at the far end of the magic garden.”

Since I have a blarney stone’s-worth of Irish in me, I paid particular attention to the setting, especially those pesky leprechauns. Though the story is fantasy, it is also about oh so human dreams of love, happiness, and eternal youth. In a few words: It is delightful. Fun. Happy. Whimsical. Highly recommended for anyone with a child within them who dreams that miracles can happen.

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter five tomorrow.. Sally.

The previous chapters of Tales from the Irish Garden can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation/

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Are you making the most of this watering hole? Guests, stories, health, humour and other stuff


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

Before we get to the posts, I wanted to summarise the ways that you can promote your blog and your books here on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine.

I wanted to create a watering hole for people to gather.. hence the magazine theme to the blog with columns from some very special contributors and guest posts that are informative, entertaining and thought provoking. It is also for me an opportunity to support authors, who like me are marketing their own books amongst the millions that are published each year.

The regular posts each month are:

The Cafe and Bookstore – new books and reviews (Free)

 The Music Column with William Price King

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor,

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye,

Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco,

Numerology with Annette Rochelle Aben

The Health Column with Sally Cronin

The Cafe and Bookstore has approximately 160 to 200 active authors at any one time. I have two opportunities to promote books. First with a New Book on the Shelves for new releases, and secondly with the twice weekly Cafe Author Updates where I share recent reviews.  I also post my own reviews for books that I have read once or twice a month.

If you are not currently an author in the Cafe.. then here is the information you need: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/

Posts for Your Archives is a series that has been running for the last three years to promote bloggers as well as authors. The aim is to showcase the blogger or author and encourage more traffic to their own blogs.

In the current series there is a twist. Instead of the blogger sending in four links to posts to share, I am browsing their archives and selecting four posts. The response has been amazing and there are currently 55 bloggers who have signed up. As you can imagine I am doing a lot of reading, and uncovering some gems from the years that deserve to be showcased again.

If you are interested on being added to the list you will find the details here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Guest Writers are slightly different to the posts from the archives, in as much as they contribute on a regular basis on a number of subjects including memoirs, short stories, health and poetry. If you are interested in a regular monthly slot then please contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

I would like to add a note here which is based on my experience over the last seven years of promoting books and blogging.

One of the key elements to any promotion is participation…I notice the difference in both the Cafe promotions and the Posts from the Archives if the person being promoted is active in both commenting and sharing.

For example – In the Posts from the Archives series, when the comments are responded to individually, the number of likes, comments and shares (importantly) increase over the four posts.

The same applies for the book promotions, and this is key, as it relates to sales of a book, as well as readers engaging on social media, following blogs and buying other books that the author has released. If a reader has taken the time to comment on a post then it is important that it is acknowledged individually. It does make a difference.

I also would like to admit that I don’t follow the usual rules about blogging. I will post several times a day, varied content, from contributors and guests plus the regular funnies and videos. I appreciate that if you sign up to be notified about posts, your email will be inundated.

Which is why I do this round up each week, so that you can pop in and read the posts that most interest you.

You can sign up to be notified weekly if you wish but my advice is:

Don’t Sign Up to be Notified…just remember to pop in on Sundays to catch up… that would be lovely.

Now on to the posts that you might have missed during the week.

Thomas the Rhymer

Another post from my archives from Paul Andruss… who shares the shenanigans of the royal court in the reign of Charles II…

Barbara Villiers (National Portrait Gallery)

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-barbara-villiers-part-1-the-return-of-the-king-by-paul-andruss/

This month Debby Gies takes us to the island of Cuba in the Caribbean. And island that was blocked off to the outside world and has been through many challenging years. Find out about the history and the tourism to the island.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye-the-island-of-cuba/

Winter: Chapter Two – The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and the Storyteller

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-winter-the-messengers-of-peace-and-desperation-and-the-storyteller-by-sally-cronin/

Winter: Chapter Three – A Place of Sanctuary

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-chapter-three-winter-a-place-of-sanctuary-by-sally-cronin/

The second in the series on the brain and how we can reduce our risk of developing dementia, and it is never too late to begin.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/smorgasbord-health-column-top-to-toe-the-brain-the-brain-dementia-and-alzheimers-disease-by-sally-cronin/

My review for Swimming for Profit and Pleasure: The Port Naain Intelligencer by Jim Webster.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-book-reviews-swimming-for-profit-and-pleasure-the-port-naain-intelligencer-by-jim-webster/

My response to this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills The prompt is about ‘making a big splash…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-a-splashing-good-time-by-sally-cronin/

Joy Lennick with another of her entertaining stories (based on true events) of a date to the cinema with rather an unusual ending….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-joy-lennick-a-date-in-the-forties/

This week Sherri Matthews shares holiday memories of picnics and windy beaches in the UK and taking the Cuppa to California…

The Wicker Picner Hamper (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-sherri-matthews-memoir-the-great-british-staycation-and-a-brew-up-california-style/

This week Susanne Swanson takes us on a tour of her first visit to Hawaii..

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-hawaii-the-beginnings-by-susanne-swanson/

John Rieber shares a unique experience in a hotel in Africa… meet some giraffes.

GIRAFFE-MANOR

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-travel-an-amazing-giraffe-hotel-africas-most-incredible-safari-adventures-by-john-rieber/

Writing duo Helen and Lorri Carpenter offer guest spots and here is one by Lainee Cole talking about the wonderful combination of rescue dog and children helping each other.

Image source: HiDee Ekstrom

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-shelter-dogs-and-children-helping-each-other-guest-post-by-lainee-cole-hl-carpenter/

Marian Wood shares her reasons for blogging..and a guide for those who are just getting started..

So really why write a blog

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-what-is-the-point-of-writing-a-blog-why-do-i-do-it-by-marian-wood/

Enjoy the poetry of Frank Prem about a project he undertook in his garden…

Friends 1

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-poetry-trenchman-1-the-trench-mans-tools-by-frank-prem/

Carol Taylor is on a short break so I have been sharing some posts from her archives..this one is on a subject dear to her heart… conservation and how governments can make decisions that do not have their countries environmental interests in mind.

Great barrier Reef

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-waste-not-want-not-australia-plans-to-dump-one-million-tons-of-sludge-on-the-great-barrier-reef-by-carol-taylor/

Tasker Dunham takes us back to his earliest memories and wonders at what age you experienced yours.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-memoir-gram-motherem-how-early-are-our-earliest-memories-by-tasker-dunham/

Lorinda J. Taylor shares the experiences of her mother as a teacher in the 1930s and living in the dust bowl…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-teaching-in-the-dust-bowl-1930s-by-lorinda-taylor/

A poignant and fascinating post from Olga Nunez Miret about her uncle who researched the little known family history during the Second World War.. tragic and inspiring.

Placa

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-family-stories-my-cousin-joan-molet-and-his-efforts-to-not-allow-the-memories-to-disappear-by-olga-nunez-miret/

Jennie Fitzkee shares another story from her pre-school classroom where the focus is very much on the child…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-how-to-teach-a-child-to-become-a-superhero-by-jennie-fitzkee/

Fraggle Photography with some wonderful images from a vintage fair…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-fraggle-report-druridge-bay-vintage-rally-fraggle-photography/

Elizabeth Slaughter shares an influence in her life from childhood and a role model – Meet Rusty.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-rusty-triumphs-over-boogieman-by-elizabeth-slaughter/

Kim of By Hook or by Book with a tribute to teachers everywhere.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-us-teacher-appreciation-week-2018-by-kim-of-by-hook-or-by-book/

Gibson Square… a London Cabbie gives us the low down on what is cab and what is not..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-what-is-a-cab-and-whats-not-by-gibson-square-the-cabbie-blog/

Susanne Swanson with a memory from her childhood when a little bribery went a long way…

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-seattle-a-shrimp-story-by-susanne-swanson/

Balroop Singh shines the light on the issue of domestic violence. However, enlightened and empowered we think our modern society is.. this is still a major problem and in some countries it is the norm.

Domestic Violence

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-can-women-escape-domestic-violence-an-emotional-approachby-balroop-singh/

 

New book on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-psychological-thriller-hope-by-terry-tyler/

Author Update #Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-brigid-p-gallagher-james-j-cudney-diana-j-febry-and-ted-halstead/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-robbie-and-michael-cheadle-toni-pike-and-jan-sikes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-5/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-6/

Thank you again for taking the time to drop by and I hope that in one way or another you will share your work here with everyone by being a guest, promoting your books or letting me share your archives. Thanks Sally.

Tales from the Irish Garden Serialisation – Chapter Three – Winter: A Place of Sanctuary by Sally Cronin


Winter: A Place of Sanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At first, Alexander wondered how the birds had managed to get into the shed, but then noticed that the small window had been blown open by the recent high winds. Luckily for these weary travellers; who would have surely died if they had not found this small sanctuary.
Jonathan ran inside to find his mother whilst his brother and sister waited with the weary visitors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Sally Cronin 2018

One of the reviews for Tales from the Irish Garden

Tales from the Irish Garden is a wonderful book. It has the magic of the Narnia Chronicles, the mystery of The Secret Garden and the delight of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

As I read this book I became completely immersed in the world of Fairy Queen Filigree and her court. I shared her anxiety as she searched for a new home where her people and bees could be safe and participated in her delight when the perfect spot is found on the faraway Emerald Island.

It is not an easy task to undertake such a big move but the fairies managed it admirably with the help of some of their friends. The Storyteller, a delightful elderly man, is a wonderful new character you will meet and get to know and he proves himself to be kind, thoughtful and understanding. In no time at all the fairies are settled into their new home, kitted out in clothing more suitable for the colder, damper weather and even aided in meeting new friends.

Of course, life is never straightforward and Queen Filigree and the fairies experience their ups and downs, losses, romances and worries as they adapt to their new environment. There are plenty of celebrations and happy moments to smooth the way and it all makes for a very entertaining read.

The illustrations in this book are deserve a mention as they are amazing. They are the creations of talented illustrator Donata Zawadzka.

Robbie created a beautiful fondant Queen Filigree to accompany her review on her blog.

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter Four next Saturday.. Sally.

The previous chapters of Tales from the Irish Garden can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation/

Tales from the Irish Garden Serialisation – Winter: The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and The Storyteller by Sally Cronin


Winter: The Messengers of Peace and Desperation and The Storyteller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Sally Cronin 2018…

One of the reviews for Tales from the Irish Garden

Tales from the Irish Garden is a wonderful book. It has the magic of the Narnia Chronicles, the mystery of The Secret Garden and the delight of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

As I read this book I became completely immersed in the world of Fairy Queen Filigree and her court. I shared her anxiety as she searched for a new home where her people and bees could be safe and participated in her delight when the perfect spot is found on the faraway Emerald Island.

It is not an easy task to undertake such a big move but the fairies managed it admirably with the help of some of their friends. The Storyteller, a delightful elderly man, is a wonderful new character you will meet and get to know and he proves himself to be kind, thoughtful and understanding. In no time at all the fairies are settled into their new home, kitted out in clothing more suitable for the colder, damper weather and even aided in meeting new friends.

Of course, life is never straightforward and Queen Filigree and the fairies experience their ups and downs, losses, romances and worries as they adapt to their new environment. There are plenty of celebrations and happy moments to smooth the way and it all makes for a very entertaining read.

The illustrations in this book are deserve a mention as they are amazing. They are the creations of talented illustrator Donata Zawadzka.

Robbie created a beautiful fondant Queen Filigree to accompany her review on her blog.

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter Three tomorrow.. Sally.

The previous chapters of Tales from the Irish Garden can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up.. Gems from your Archives, Universal Energy and All That Jazz


Welcome to the round up of posts here on Smorgasbord that you might have missed…

The week has been unremarkable here except for the fact that it is June and it has not stopped raining for a week, with at least another week to go… and the heating is still on twice a day. This has not helped the work in the back garden which requires a couple of days of dry weather to put down gravel and then cement…

I am officially banning all singing and dancing for the rest of the summer… see what happens when this dance academy puts on a show and perform ‘Singing in the Rain’  I rest my case!. Thanks Lucinda Armstrong

There is nothing more to say… except let’s get on with the week’s posts..thank you for dropping in and also a huge thanks to those who have contributed this week.

A reminder of the new Sunday Interview series beginning at the end of June…I am already receiving some terrific pieces about our senses…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-new-sunday-interview-series-human-in-every-sense-of-the-word-starting-sunday-june-30th-2019/

This week William Price King introduces us to a contemporary artist.. Hiromi Uehara Jazz Composer and Pianist.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-hiromi-uehara-jazz-composer-and-pianist/

Two more posts from Paul Andruss...and the first is about a drink with an ancient history.. Mead. Poetic Mead

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-poetic-mead-by-paul-andruss/

Coffee a Noxious Concoction.. for coffee lovers everywhere..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-smorgasbord-writer-in-residence-coffee-a-noxious-concoction-by-paul-andruss/

This weekend I begin the serialisation of Tales from the Irish Garden... and in the first post a reminder of how the story left off in the previous book.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-previously-in-the-magic-garden-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter One..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/tales-from-the-irish-garden-serialisation-winter-christmas-under-the-magnolia-tree-by-sally-cronin/

Annette Rochelle Aben takes us through the universal energy we can expect in June….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-your-universal-energy-for-june-2019-by-annette-rochelle-aben/

Sherri Matthews joins us for a series of four memoir posts. In her first post.. a little nostalgia about her first meal out with her Dad.

We didn't eat out as kids, but we did enjoy family gatherings, such as this tea party for a cousin. Me on the right. Always the kid with chocolate on my face. Nothing's changed... (c) Sherri Matthews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-sherri-matthews-memoir-times-past-challenge-chinese-spoons-and-eating-out/

This week the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  prompt was strawberries and mint… here is my story – The Devilish Mojito…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/smorgasbord-short-stories-the-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-challenge-strawberries-and-mint-the-devilish-mojito-by-sally-cronin-by-sally-cronin/

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Robbie Cheadle writes for both children and adults, but clearly children’s books are very dear to her heart… here is a post that demonstrates that. The Life of Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl

Photograph from The Official Roald Dahl Website

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-kidsbooks-the-life-of-roald-dahl-by-robbie-cheadle/

Jacquie Biggar with a recipe that brings back memories..also a link to a festive cookbook that looks great.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potlucksunday-recipes-baking-up-memories-by-jacquie-biggar/

Financial expert Sharon Marchisello explains the need to identify your tolerance risk when investing.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-finance-investment-know-your-tolerance-for-risk-by-sharon-marchisello/

Diana Wallace Peach treats us to a wonderful short story.. The Optometrist and the Dragon

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-optometrist-and-the-dragon-writephoto-by-d-wallace-peach/

Carol Taylor is on a short break so I took the opportunity to delve into her archives to find some gems to share with you.. in this post a secret garden…

Koh Samui The Secret Garden

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-travel-thailandkoh-samuia-secret-garden-by-carol-taylor/

This is the final post from Beetley Pete also known as Pete Johnson who blogs from Norfolk…I could not leave the archives without sharing a post about Ollie.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-dogs-ollie-and-his-guests-by-beetley-pete/

An inspiring poem from Miriam Hurdle – The Sun Welcomes Me…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-poetry-the-sun-welcomes-me-by-miriam-hurdle/

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun. She is always coming up with creative ways to engage the children.. and here is just one. The Stop Game”, From Dinosaurs to Poetry

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-stop-game-from-dinosaurs-to-poetry-by-jennie-fitzkee/

Olga Nunez Miret gives us a guided tour through her hometown of Barcelona

It was cloudy in the morning but it improved

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-la-merce-in-barcelona-and-a-few-visits-hospital-de-sant-pau-and-palacete-albeniz-by-olga-nunez-miret/

A new participant to the series with some lovely photographs of wetland wildlife and a cute grandson.. Fraggle Photography.

runaways

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-wetlands-report-part-1-fraggle-photography/

Another new participant.. Elizabeth Slaughter with a memory that could have ended very differently.

1948-50s 376

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-timber-r-r-r-r-by-elizabeth-slaughter/

Kim of By Hook or By Book is a book reviewer and here is an example.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-ya-scream-all-night-by-derek-milman-reviewed-by-kim-of-by-hook-or-by-book

Gibson Square (pen name) writes The Cabbie Blog and over the next four weeks I will be sharing trivia and little known facts about London.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-london-trivia-gibson-square-the-cabbie-blog/

Susanne Swanson shares her trip to Hawaii.. with some lovely photographs.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-hawaii-the-beginnings-by-susanne-swanson/

Balroop Singh shares the therapeutic benefits of music…. I won’t argue with that… cannot imagine my life without it.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-have-you-felt-the-emotional-and-therapeutic-appeal-of-music-by-balroop-singh/

New Book on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-historicalirishfiction-mahoney-by-andrew-joyce/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-death-in-shangri-la-a-dotan-naor-thriller-by-yigal-zur/

Author Update: Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-chuck-jackson-karen-ingalls-and-allan-hudson/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-s-a-harris-geoff-le-pard-john-w-howell-and-gwen-plano/

The second post in the series on the brain.. and how it develops from conception through life.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/smorgasbord-health-column-top-to-toe-the-brain-how-the-brain-develops-from-conception-through-life-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-how-to-deal-with-clowns-and-chocolate-and-a-joke-or-two-from-the-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-some-jokes-from-sallys-archives-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-some-jokes-from-sallys-archives/

Thank you so much for dropping in today and for all the support… I am just off to do my shopping…Sally

Tales from the Irish Garden – Serialisation – Winter: Christmas Under the Magnolia Tree by Sally Cronin


Winter: Christmas Under the Magnolia Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen Filigree clapped her hands and the room fell silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Sally Cronin 2018…

One of the reviews for Tales from the Irish Garden

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.

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter two and three next weekend. Thanks Sally.

Tales from the Irish Garden serialisation- Previously in the Magic Garden by Sally Cronin


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the help of Fluffy the Dragon, who blew hot winds to the north, The Winter Fairy arrived to find the garden deserted, and his intended victims partying the night away beneath the old magnolia tree. Despite his best efforts, he failed to breach the defences to the palace and was left stamping his foot in frustration as the snow fell all around him. In a huff, he flew ever southwards, only to find himself in the middle of a desert so barren of life, it refused to freeze. Harsh sandstorms pummelled him, whisking him skywards where his wings melted, and he fell to ground on top of a waterless dune. He found an abandoned lizard’s burrow, and sat at the entrance, with all eternity stretching before him to contemplate his wickedness.

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

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

The story continues…tomorrow…..

©Sally Cronin 2018

If you would like to browse my other ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.. Chapter one tomorrow.. Thanks Sally.

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.