Just an Odd Job Girl – Chapter Sixteen – Meeting the new Killbilly Team

Just an odd job girl sgc

We left Imogen settling in for her first night at the hotel in Cornwall after a fairly traumatic journey in the middle of the night….

Chapter Sixteen – Meeting the new Killbilly Team

I was awakened the next morning, before my alarm, by slamming doors and raised voices. I had set my clock for six thirty and had planned to spend some time in the bathroom before breakfast. I threw on my dressing gown and poked my head out of the door and into the corridor. I could see a line of about five people outside what must have been the bathroom and the person at the head of the queue was banging on the door.

‘Come on Charlie, get a move on, we’re all desperate out here.’

This did not bode well for a leisurely bath before breakfast. I decided to give myself a sponge bath at the sink and hope that the water at least was hot. I was thankful that I had got up in the night to visit the facilities and was not as desperate as my co-workers seemed to be. There was a cheer from the hall. Charlie had obviously appeared, relinquishing possession of the bathroom. I washed and dressed and by the time I left my room the hall was deserted.

I decided to retrace my steps of the night before, and failing to find a lift anywhere in evidence on this floor, took the stairs. As I neared the reception area, I could hear voices coming from a door set into the panelling. I crossed the hall and pushed the door open, fascinated to see what the rest of the staff of this hotel looked like. Would I find everyone dressed for the beach and in my blue suit and white blouse, would I be very overdressed?

Inside what appeared to be a staff dining room were about ten people, some sitting at a large table and some helping themselves from a buffet on a sideboard against the wall. Everybody stopped talking at once and stared in my direction. Oh well, in for a penny… as they say. I had dealt with the tartan army, and fifty school kids, and was not about to be intimidated by this little lot. I cleared my throat and entered the room.

‘Hi, I’m Imogen, nice to meet you.’

I waited expectantly, and looked from face to face. I saw Skip, now dressed in T-shirt and jeans, at the end of the table. He got up and came around to stand next to me.

‘Okay gang, this is the new under boss, just remember she will be doing the wages every Friday so you better be nice to the Sheila.’

Suddenly, people were standing and offering me their seats, someone offered to get me a bowl of cereal and Skip resumed his seat with a grin of satisfaction. He winked at me and I nodded my thanks. The ice was broken.

I spent the next fifteen minutes being introduced to everyone and, fielding questions about what I had done before, and how much experience I had in hotels. A couple of the males were more direct in their approach and wanted to know if I was single and available.

Most of the staff were Australian and not shy in coming forward. I wondered if the remoteness of this hotel, and their enforced stay for the whole season, had been explained to them when they took the job. I was evasive about my personal life too. I had never been one to talk about it much, not with strangers anyway, and I found it slightly uncomfortable to be under the microscope. I ate my cereal and drank a cup of tea that had been placed in front of me. I was just trying to decide how to answer a particularly personal question about how old I was, when the door opened and a tall man filled the doorway.

He was about forty, with greying wavy hair, slightly longer than one would expect for someone his age. He was at least six foot four and held himself very straight. I noticed a scar on his left cheek that he fingered as he surveyed the room.

‘Okay everyone, we open in one week! Let’s get cracking I want all the windows done today, not tomorrow.’

He had a very commanding air about him and I wondered if he was an ex-serviceman. There was some good natured grumbling from my breakfast companions, but they all stood up and filed past him at the doorway. I rose to follow, unsure of my role in the day’s activities.

‘Not you Miss Baxter.’

He extended his hand. He had a warm, firm grip and he smiled at me.

‘Welcome to Killbilly, I am Patrick Walsh. I hope that I can call you Imogen, we are rather informal here as you have probably noticed.’  I nodded.

‘Everybody seems very pleasant, but I was surprised to find so many Australians in such an isolated part of Cornwall.’

He laughed and ushered me out into the hall.

‘My brother has a sheep farm in Australia and he advertises for me every year.’

He led me across the hall and through another door in the panelling.

‘I find that they are cheerful and very good with the guests who seem to enjoy their relaxed attitude,’ he continued, indicating that I take an armchair in what was plainly his study.

‘The agreement is that they work for me for the season. I pay them well, and provided they stay until October, they get a very good bonus which enables them to travel through Europe for the remainder of their year away from Australia. It works for all of us.’

I hesitated to ask, but I was interested to find out why he had opted for an English assistant rather than an Australian one.

‘Very simple, I want some continuity from year to year. We are only shut now for two months of the year, and this year I plan to completely redecorate the hotel: This means that I need someone here to manage the project. I go to Australia every year, to my brother’s, so I am hoping that the person that I leave in charge will be you.’

I was quite frankly amazed. I had never met this man before, not had an interview and yet he was planning to leave me in charge of his hotel for two months this winter and give me the responsibility for the renovating work. He could see that I looked a little sceptical.

‘Does Dermot Flanagan ring a bell?’ I looked at him in amazement. ‘When I received your application, I noticed that you had worked for Dermot before Christmas so I gave him a ring. He was very flattering about you and said that you were extremely efficient and hard working. He was only sorry that you had not chosen to stay with them. He grinned at me.

‘Paddy sends his regards, by the way, I bet knowing my cousin as I do that he probably managed to grab a kiss under the mistletoe.’

So that was it. The Irish connection! I was delighted and so thankful that my misgivings of the night before were meaningless. As I looked across at Patrick Walsh, I already knew that my time at Killbilly would be special.

We then got down to the basics. My duties and responsibilities and the roles that Patrick wanted me to play, with both the staff, and the guests who would be arriving next week.

The staff were willing, and all had catering experience, but Patrick felt that some of the rough edges needed to be smoothed off a little. Despite the guests enjoying the relaxed welcome and attitude they got from these friendly youngsters. Both of us were in agreement about surfing shorts and calling the female guests Sheila.

I made notes, and we continued throughout the morning, enjoying a cup of coffee together. Patrick showed me over the hotel, and because there were no guests for the present, I was able to take a look at all the bedrooms, each of which was individually furnished.

There was an air of faded elegance about the whole building and I could understand why Patrick was keen to refurbish and bring it up to date. All the same, I could see why overseas visitors would find it charming, and put up with some of its less than modern facilities. Each bedroom, at least, had its own bathroom, and most had a stunning view across the grounds.

After lunch, Patrick suggested that I take a wander in the gardens and familiarise myself with the layout and the recreational areas. The hotel had a tennis court, croquet lawn and a nature trail that skirted the boundary of the property. This was before the days of spas and fitness centres but at least there was plenty of opportunity for a little healthy exercise to work off the generous meals available from breakfast time to late at night.

That evening at supper, I met the local staff who had come up to the hotel to meet their Australian co-workers. The housekeeper, head barmaid and the bookkeeper lived in the village of Killbilly and had worked at the hotel for the last twenty years. They looked at their brightly dressed colleagues with resigned tolerance and I guessed that, over the seasons, they had perhaps had reason to be a little cynical.

Three of the chambermaids, two waitresses and a barman were from the next village and together with their supervisors formed the year round staff of the hotel. The chef was new and would be arriving the next day. The previous chef, who had won the hotel many awards, had left at the end of the last season to open his own restaurant. The new man was Irish, especially recruited from a top hotel in Dublin, eager, apparently, for a quieter life in the country with an opportunity to run his own kitchen.

So that was the team. I felt a little uncomfortable at first; being in my early twenties, but Patrick stood up, introduced me with a glowing reference, and explained to the assembled company that I had his full authority. That reassured me a little, and I looked forward to working with this lively bunch of people. It had been a tiring day and, after supper, I took the opportunity to grab the bathroom for a long soak and an early night. The next week was going to be hectic; getting ready for the opening weekend and my mind was buzzing as I lay in bed listening to sounds of laughter drifting along the hall.

©sallygeorginacronin Just an Odd Job Girl 2001

Thanks for dropping by and next time Imogen gets into the swing on life at Killbilly which proves to be anything but dull……

Just an Odd Job Girl Serialisation – Chapter Fifteen – A Cornish Getaway

Just an odd job girl sgc

Where we left off.. Imogen has spent six weeks working as a school cook and is now heading off to Cornwall to work in a hotel for the season…..

Chapter Fifteen – A Cornish Getaway

The light, streaming through a crack in the curtains, woke me early the next morning. I felt refreshed, and excited about what the day would bring. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so full of anticipation and energy.

Peter and I had travelled all over the world during the last ten years, visiting exotic destinations and staying at the very best resorts and hotels. But, as I looked around my small, brightly decorated kitchen, I would not have swapped it for all the five star hotels I had ever stayed in. This was my home, my future, and both looked a great deal brighter than they had a few days ago.

With at least four hours to go before I had to leave for my long awaited appointment with Andrew, I decided to be very resourceful with the time. I sat and had a bowl of cereal and fruit juice, and dressing warmly, for the cold morning air, I took to the forest path and let my mind travel back to my first full time job in several months.

* * *

I had never heard of Killbilly in Cornwall before, and assumed that it was probably a small village or hamlet. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the position at the hotel, not because I did not feel that I was more than capable of doing a good job, but because my new employers and myself were taking each other on trust.

I went to lunch with my parents on the last Sunday before my departure and discovered that Peter had been in the habit of telephoning my mother and eliciting information regarding my whereabouts and activities. I was furious with both Peter and my mother. She assured me that she had informed him quite categorically that I had met no one else and missed him dreadfully. That was the last thing I wanted Peter to know. Much better that he should think that I was out every night with a string of wealthy and attentive admirers, rather than stuck in my bed-sit every night. Thank goodness, I was going to be far enough away from both of them to be able to invent any story about my personal life that I liked. In fact, the thought of passing on details of some lurid, imaginary love life to my mother, and therefore to Peter, was suddenly very appealing.

My father pressed me for details of my new job, and was dutifully persistent in his belief that no good could come of a position offered without the benefit of an interview. He felt that, as it was based on the photograph I had sent, that my future employers might have something to do with the white slave trade. On that cheerful note I left, promising to call on my arrival, every Sunday, and to make sure I ate properly. As I had been living away from home for some time now, without too many ill effects, I was slightly puzzled by all the parental concern. Nevertheless, I felt heartened by their uncharacteristic reaction to my departure and vowed to keep in better contact than I had recently.

With my two bags packed, and having made the final reading of the electricity meter in my bed-sit, I headed out for the railway station and my journey westward.

I had been given a timetable for the trains showing the changes I would have to make in order to reach my destination and I was glad that my two bags were neither overlarge nor heavy. Four trains later, I sat on the platform of a country station, waiting for my last connection. The train was late, and it was dark before it shunted alongside the platform. I struggled into a carriage that I presume had been in service since the war, possibly not the last one, and sat on the worn, velvet covered, seat waiting for departure. I waited and waited and was about to stick my head out of the carriage door when we chugged into motion sending me backwards onto my seat. It was now ten at night and I was concerned that the promised taxi that was supposed to collect me at Killbilly, and take me to the hotel, would not be waiting for me.

Half an hour later we pulled into what can only be described as a halt. It consisted of a wooden platform about ten inches off the ground and a leap of faith was required to exit the carriage with two suitcases, and no injuries. I must have been the only passenger for Killbilly, for no sooner had I slammed the door of the train behind me, than it was off, lurching into the darkness. Which is where I now found myself. Alone and in the dark with absolutely no idea, where I was going or who I was going too.

These were the days before mobile telephones, and to be honest, from what little I could see around me, there was little evidence that even the telegraph had reached this remote spot. I sat down on the sturdier of my two cases and ran through some basic Girl Guide survival tactics. As I had been drummed out of the brownies at the age of seven (for jumping out at boy cubs from behind gravestones) my knowledge of field crafts was sadly lacking, so I decide to stay in place for a while and see what transpired. After all where else was I going to go! I shivered despite the warm overcoat I was wearing. The night was cold and a thin mist was swirling around the end of the platform. All the books I had read about Cornwall, about strange animals, and people, out on the moors, came back to me and I clasped my arms around myself anxiously, on the verge of panic.

This feeling of panic was given a boost when suddenly out of the mist an apparition appeared. At least seven feet tall, and dressed in a black cloak, it swirled towards me rapidly. I shot up and backed behind my cases, despite the fact they would have been of little protection against a werewolf. A deep voice suddenly cut through my fanciful imagination.

‘You’re late girl, I’ve been waiting hours, where have you been for goodness sake?’

I could not tell if the booming voice was male or female. On closer examination, I realised that my original estimate of the figure being seven foot high was a slight exaggeration, but not by much. A scarf was unwound from around the throat of my new acquaintance and I saw that it was indeed a woman. Despite a virtual crew cut hairstyle and rather masculine features, the lips were cherry red. You have to remember that I had considerable experience with men dressed as women and I was quite confident in my snap judgement as to the gender of this strange person. Before I could utter a word my suitcases were whipped up, one in each of her hands and she set of marching into the darkness. I had very little choice but to follow, as I watched my worldly possessions disappearing into the night. So, with fingers crossed, I followed the dim retreating figure.

I found myself in a car park, next to a rather battered Land Rover, which was covered in mud and other farmyard debris. My bags were thrown unceremoniously into the back and my companion disappeared around to the driver’s side. I gingerly opened the passenger door, careful to avoid getting my clothes too close to the paintwork. At least the interior of the vehicle was warm and I was grateful when the engine started first time. Before we pulled out of the station, my driver turned to me.

‘My name is Milly Barrow and I run the local taxi service.’ She announced firmly.

‘It will take half an hour to get to the hotel so you better make yourself comfortable.’

With that, we were off, quite smoothly too, much to my pleasant surprise. This was somewhat tempered by the farmyard aroma that filled the now warm cab of the Land Rover and I hoped that my new employers were used to their staff arriving slightly more fragrant than might be expected.

Our journey was silent. I did make an attempt at small talk but only received grunts in reply. Eventually, I gave up and concentrated instead on hanging onto both dashboard and armrests as we careered around narrow country lanes. Speed restrictions did not seem to be in force in this area and a Land Rover is not built for rally driving, but Milly Barrow obviously had not been informed of that particular design characteristic.

Finally, with a squeal of protest from the tyres, we tore around a bend, through an ornate gate, and onto a gravel drive. In the dim glow of the headlights, I could just make out a building looming out of the mist as we slammed to a stop in a spray of stones outside what appeared to be the main entrance. I let out my breath, which it seemed I had been holding since we left the railway station, and hurriedly opened the door, before we could take off again.

Milly Barrow moved quickly for her size, and had my bags on the drive and was in the car again before I could say a word. Spraying me with sharp little stones, she took off into the night without a backward glance.

There were some lights either side of the entrance, and by their dim light I could make out double wooden doors. By now, I was three hours late, and it looked like everyone had gone to bed. I had little choice. It was either stay out here in the freezing cold or ring the bell that hung on the wall at the side of the doors. I crunched across the gravel and up the stone steps, summoning what little courage I had left. I pulled the rope hanging beneath the bell and swung it from side to side. I nearly jumped out of my skin as a loud clanging rang through the night. It was loud to waken the dead! Sure enough, within seconds, lights went on in the hall. They reflected through the glass at the top of the door and, if anything, added even more gloom to the atmosphere.

The door creaked open slowly and my mouth went dry. By this time, I was fully convinced that Frankenstein’s monster was going to loom into view and carry me off to some attic, never to be seen again.

‘G’day, you must be the Sheila whose going to be the new assistant manager.’

In front of me stood a tall, blonde surfer complete with knee length shorts and little else, except for what appeared to be a shark’s tooth on a leather thong around his neck.

Open mouthed I stood freezing on the doorstep while this antipodean looked me over, from top to toe.

‘Don’t stand there all night girl, come on in I’m freezing my ass off here.’

Obviously there was going to be little in the way of assistance with my luggage, so I turned and collected the suitcases, dragging them back across the gravel. I hoisted them up the steps and through the door, which slammed behind me.

‘My name’s Skip, and I’m the hall porter. Don’t say much, do you?’

I stared at his tanned, hairy, chest and clearing my throat, I attempted to get my voice back.

‘Yes I’m Imogen. Sorry I was so late, I hope I didn’t keep you up.’

‘No worries. Me and the girlfriend were watching a horror movie. Kept us busy, if you know what I mean.’

I could only imagine! Never having watched a movie, let alone a horror film, whilst dressed for a day at the beach.

‘Come on, I’ll show you your pit and you can meet the boss in the morning.’

He led the way across the carpeted hall and up the imposing stairs that occupied much of the centre of the reception area.

‘You hungry?’ My guide enquired, as we hauled my cases up the stairs. Thankfully, he had taken possession of one of them at least.

‘We had a barbie tonight and there is some left over steak if you’re interested.’

I murmured that I just wanted to go to bed and he shrugged.

‘No worries, you could do with losing a pound or two anyway.’

I could see that we were going to get on very well. My mind was reeling. There had been far too much, in the way of adrenaline pumping events, in the last few hours. And now to have to deal with an Australian surfer masquerading as a hall porter in a Cornish hotel? I know that staff for these out of the way places must be hard to find but advertising in the Woolagong Advertiser seemed a little over the top. I was sure, however, that all would be revealed in the morning. All that I wanted to do right then was to crawl into a warm bed, and sleep.

We had now climbed three flights of stairs and I wondered if there was a lift for the more infirm guest. I mentioned this fact to Skip who was not even out of breath.

‘Yeah, there’s a lift but I’m claustrophobic, won’t go in the buggers.’

Oh, great! I thought, as I puffed my way up the final flight of stairs behind him, a mountain climber too!

He pushed open a door in a dimly lit corridor and switched on an overhead light. The room was not bad. It had high ceilings and was furnished with a wardrobe, a double bed, a dresser and a sofa. A small television perched on a footstool in one corner, and there was a washbasin on the wall.

‘The bathroom is down the hall, third door on the right. Lock doesn’t work right now; it’s on me list. Get round to it before we open.’ (Right! Chair jammed under the doorknob for the time being.)

He turned to leave, and just before he closed the door, he grinned, showing large, even white teeth. ‘Do you surf at all?’

I shook my head wearily, and smiled somewhat thinly in his direction.

‘Pity. Never mind. Sleep well, breakfast at seven a.m.’

With that, I was alone in my new home. At least it was clean and the bed had been made up. I found a glass on the washbasin and drank a large glass of water before remembering I would have to traipse down the hall to go to the bathroom in the night. Oh well, worry about that later. I hastily unpacked the top of one of my suitcases and found my warmest pair of pyjamas. I checked the radiator under the window and found that it was cold. I bet you anything you like that the heating was off now, until the guests started arriving for Easter. I put on a jumper over my pyjamas and crawled beneath the sheets. At least there were several blankets and curling into a ball, I was instantly asleep.

©sallygeorginacronin- Just an Odd Job Girl 2001

Hope you enjoyed today’s chapter and next time, Imogen will be finding she needs nerves of steel as she takes on the job of assistant manager of the hotel.

Smorgasbord Open House – Author Bokerah Brumley

smorgasbord open house twoWelcome to this week’s Open House and my guest this week is a speculative fiction writer from West Texas. Bokerah Brumley. Despite living on ten acres, with five home-educated children, four peacocks, three dogs, two cats and her husband, still manages to find time to write. Apart from contributing to some excellent short story collections, Bokerah has also written Cold Water Bridegroom, more about that shortly.

Bokerah admits to being addicted to Twitter pitch events, writing contests and social media in general.. She has three urban fantasy novellas due for release in 2016 and will tell us more in her WIP.

If all of that was not enough to fit in during her busy week, Bokerah is also the Publicity Officer for the Cisco Writers Club.

Before Brokerah tells us more about her life, writing, favourite television and recipes, let’s take a look at her work so far.

cwb-bb-cover (1) (501x800)

About the book

Calder Brumen grew up in San Francisco, and he’s always been drawn to the ocean. He’s spent his life capturing the beauty of the Pacific on canvas. Over time, he’s grown obsessed with painting the image of a dark haired mermaid named Gaire, and Calder struggles to explain his devotion to these portraits to his best friend. When Calder finds sandy footprints leading to the edge of his bed, he suspects that the haunting siren is real. In pursuit of the truth, Calder is dragged into a murderous, underwater plot that could destroy them all. And he must choose – is the possibility of a lifetime with Gaire worth risking death for himself and everyone he loves?

One of the reviews for Cold Water Bridgegroom

Vivid and Enchanting!  By ADraeger on August 4, 2015  Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
B. Brumley has done an amazing job with Cold Water Bridegroom. Her descriptions are lush, her characters feel as real as you and I, and before you know it, you are caught blissfully in the undertow of this story. From the shack of a painter whose heart longs for a woman who doesn’t…shouldn’t…exist…to the depths of the Pacific, where an ancient society of merfolk have lived for centuries, you follow along with Brumley as she weaves a story of fated lovers, best friends who are close enough to be brothers, and a lurking danger that hides behind a pair of seductive eyes, who threatens to extinguish the light of good that glows beautifully in this book. While I must admit that clean reads are not my normal fare, Brumley had me competely ensared. Grab this book as quick as you can. Highly recommended!!!

Some other books that Bokerah has contributed to.

Seasons Vol 1 - Final

Seasons – A Multi-Genre Story Collection – Volume One.  Free until June 2016

About the Anthology.

Nine New Stories in Six Popular Genres. Whether you enjoy mystery, romance, fantasy, or paranormal, this collection has something for you. Contributing authors are Debbie White, Jeffrey Collyer, Marla Bradeen, Bokerah Brumley, Lea Doue, Michelle Bolanger, Ava Mallory, Myra Kendrix and Lisa B. Thomas.

Escape into this seasonal-themed short story collection. In this flinch-free fiction set, every featured story is proud to be a clean read, free from harsh language, sex, and graphic violence. This collection is only available for a limited time until the end of June so read it now while you can!
Free until June 2016 – Amazon (universal): http://mybook.to/seasons-group

enchantedEnchanted: The Fairy Revels Collection: 9 Faerie Romance & Fantasy Fairy Tales; Urban Fantasy, YA Fairies, Fractured Fairy Tales, Sweet Fae Romance, and Paranormal Boxed Set Kindle Edition

About the Collection
One spellbound night, nine award-winning and Amazon best-selling authors joined together to bring you an enchanting collection of tales featuring our favorite otherworldly creatures, fairies. Enchanted: The Fairy Revels Collection will seduce you into the wondrous world of the fae with magic, romance, fantasy, adventure, fairy tales, and folklore. Get ready to be beguiled by a unique boxed set with fractured fairy tales, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, sci-fi adventure, and more. This captivating collection is certain to please anyone who loves magical realism and fairy stories.

Buy the collection: Amazon

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Woe for a Faerie, is the story of Woe, a fallen angel that struggles to find her purpose after losing her wings. A buff Fae fellow saves her from freezing to death in Central Park and promptly decides she’s his. Meanwhile, Woe meets Jason, a priest that isn’t quite what he seems. I like to think of it as City of Angels meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Buy Bokerah’s books at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/B.-Brumley/e/B014Q4VZPY

Further information and buy links via Bokerhah’s  Website

Now I will hand you over to Bokerah to tell us about her books, favourite television, recipes and work in progress.


Welcome Bokerah and perhaps you could tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?

I love speculative fiction. I write science fiction (including a steampunk novelette), urban fantasy, paranormal romance, alternate history. I write clean, so I lean toward young adult, but all of my work features women/girls as strong, independent characters. It didn’t dawn on me until Summer 2015 – when I had a flash fiction make it to the shortlist with Mash Stories – that *I* could write science fiction. I could fill the strong woman void. My paranormal romance, Cold Water Bridegroom, is written from a male point of view, but the haunting mermaid he dreams of isn’t looking for a knight. He’s more the “dude in distress,” as it were.

I’m spec fic through and through. I just love the possibilities in the question: “What If?”

What is your favorite all time television series?

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m a sucker for Jonathan Frakes (#TeamRiker). I would love to meet him someday. I don’t ComicCon much, so I doubt it ever happens, but it’d be incredible to meet the whole cast. It’s on my bucket list. I’m also working on a science fiction novel called Four Winds from a Tempest. I’m taking a long time to get it right. It’s my baby, and it has a Firefly feel. *wink, wink* Guess what other shows I like.

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favorite musicians?

Oh my goodness. I’m so moody and all over the place with my music tastes. Lately, when I’m writing SciFi, I’ve been listening to Lindsey Stirling’s 2012 self-titled album or Ellie Gouldings’s Halcyon Days. When I’m working on my urban fantasy, I’ve been listening to Sarah McLachlan’s album Mirrorball or the soundtrack to the movie, City of Angels.

 If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?

Yes, I made this one up for a church breakfast. Plus, we have five kids, so we make big meals.

Decadent Second Breakfast
(Feeds one Shire-like family)

1 package Turkey Bacon
1 lb. Turkey Sausage
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
¼ cup butter
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. garlic powder
30 eggs
2 cups of shredded cheese (I use Colby-Jack)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 9X13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. With a little water, brown the turkey sausage in a skillet.
Meanwhile, line the bottom of the casserole dish with the turkey back, overlapping each piece slightly. This creates the first layer.

Once turkey sausage is browned, add cream cheese, butter, and whipping cream. Cook over medium-low heat until cream cheese is melted. Add Italian seasoning and garlic. Mix well.

Spread this mixture over the layer of turkey bacon.

Break eggs into a large mixing bowl. Beat well. Pour over the first two layers. I usually have to beat fifteen eggs, pour, and then beat the other fifteen.

Sprinkle cheese over egg layer.

Cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, and then carefully remove foil.

Return to oven and bake for another 10-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cooking times vary.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

I’m uber-pumped to be participating in several anthologies this year. Release dates for two haven’t been confirmed yet, but these are the two that I can tell you about…

The follow up to Woe for a Faerie is Wings Over New York – out in July 2016 – with Cursed: The Beasts of Summer Collection. In it, our heroine, Woe, is tasked with locating a nocturnal albino peacock shifter that is haunting Central Park and sucking psychic energy from unsuspecting humans.

And in November 2016, I’ll release, Feather, and add another novella to my fantasy world. My main character is a baddie trying to go good. Readers will get the awesome-sauce introduction to the epic author-party that is The Hotel Paranormal.

Links to connect with Bokerah.
Blog: http://superbokerah.com/
Website: http://www.bokerah.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/msbbrumley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bokerah/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bokerah/

Thanks for joining us today to meet Bokerah and your feedback as always is welcome.. We would also be delighted if you could share and spread the word about Bokerah’s work.

Thank you Sally

Smorgasbord Open House – Author Amy M. Reade


Welcome to the first Smorgasbord Open House from Ireland and today I am delighted to welcome USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade. Amy writes women’s contemporary and gothic fiction. Her books have been compared to authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling, and is currently working on a new project, a series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. She loves cooking, reading, and travel. You can visit her website, http://www.amymreade.com, where, in addition to information about her books and appearances, you will find a contact form, suggested playlists to go along with her novels, and notes and recommendations on wines.

Amy’s latest book is available for pre-order and will be delivered to your kindle on April 26th. Pre-Order House of the Hanging Jade

About House of the Hanging Jade

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .

Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade–an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it’s the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life .

Other Books by Amy Reade


One of the great reviews for the book

Outstanding! Could not put it down! By Kathleen Charon on April 29, 2015 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

I have just finished the Ghosts of Peppernell Manor and literally could not put it down! It is exactly the type of book that I love…..a little bit gothic with the old house and it’s secrets, mysterious death and clean romance. I got exactly what I expected and I enjoyed every minute of escape that this book gave me. I was not able to solve the mystery before the reveal so that was enjoyable for me as well. Overall, a fantastic read!


Delightful discovery! By Kathleen Charon on April 22, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I was younger, I read Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney books all the time. I have looked in vain for other authors who write similar books. I am so pleased that I found Ms Reade. I could not stop reading this book, I enjoyed the pacing and the characters very much. Some plot twists seemed sudden but I was not able to figure out the ending. It was a clean story and no overt violence. I am anxious to read other books by this author.

Buy all the books.
Amazon        Barnes & Noble       Kobo      iTunes     Google Play      Kensington Publishing      Indie Bound

Amy M. Reade the Blogger

Amy has a terrific blog and you will find interviews, guest blogs, book recommendations, recipes and articles on wine.  Later on in today’s post you will find a delicious recipe that will give you a good idea of the food ideas you will find on the blog. Here is a link to one of her recent author interviews with Phyllis Moore.

I am now going to hand over to Amy to find out more about her life and work through the questions she has chosen to answer

2013 1548

Who would you like to meet from the past who you would like to have a conversation with. What would you tell them about their behaviour that you admired or disapproved of?

If I could meet anyone from the past, I would choose Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I would want to know all about living in Paris in the early twentieth century- where she liked to go for fun, where she lived, which restaurants she liked to visit, how people dressed.

I would also ask her about her own writing, since as I understand it she was a very good writer whose work was always considered less important than that of her husband.

I’d also want to know about all her friends in Paris- I’d ask about Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein and, of course, F. Scott.

What I know about Zelda Fitzgerald comes, of course, from the things I’ve read about her. And from that basis of knowledge, I’ve learned that she wasn’t too different from any other person, living or dead. She had her problems, just like everyone else. And one of her problems was the constant struggle to maintain her “self.” I would tell her that I admire her determination and desire to forge and keep her own identity despite living in the overarching shadows of her husband and their friends. I would tell her that her writing and her dancing were good for her. I would tell her that someday doctors would find effective treatments for the mental illnesses she faced and that I’m sorry she had to spend so much of her life fighting her own demons.

Which is your favourite leisure pastime?

It’s a toss-up between reading and cooking, and since I discuss cooking in Question #4, I’ll tell you about my favourite books and authors.


I’ve had a number of favourite authors, beginning with Carolyn Keene of Nancy Drew fame, continuing with James Herriot, and bringing us up to the present with Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Phyllis Whitney, and M. C. Beaton. My favourite author at any given time depends on my mood.

murder in the south of france

I’m currently reading four books: Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis, White Nights by Ann Cleeves, Trials Elsewhere by Robin Isard, and The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It’s not like me to read four books at once- normally I’m a one-at-a-time reader, but things got a bit out of control and I’ll be back to my normal habits as soon as I finish this quartet!

Who is the best actor or actress you have ever seen on television or film and tell us why.

I don’t even have to think about this one. The answer is Cary Grant. I have yet to see a movie starring Cary Grant that I don’t love. Why is he my favourite? I think it’s because his comedic timing is perfect. Whether he’s raising an eyebrow or clearing his throat at just the right moment, or delivering a line in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek manner, he gets it just right and I don’t think he learned that from a director. I think that was just his way.

Incidentally, the two movies I watch over and over again are “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” and “The Bishop’s Wife.” Cary Grant plays opposite Myrna Loy and Loretta Young, respectively. During the Christmas season, “The Bishop’s Wife” is my favourite movie. During the rest of the year, it’s got to be “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.”

If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?

I love to cook. Baking is my specialty, though as I get older all the baking I do becomes more obvious on my hips and thighs. I’m going to give you two recipes: one is my signature dish, Parmesan Chicken (not to be confused with Chicken Parmesan) and the other is Rhubarb Cake, a dessert which my whole family loves (and it’s easy—not even from scratch! Shhh…).

*Cook’s Disclaimer: neither of these can in any way be considered healthy*

Parmesan Chicken
1 c. seasoned bread crumbs
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. melted butter
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
½ t. salt (optional)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In a shallow bowl combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese; mix well. In another shallow bowl combine butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; mix well.

Dredge chicken through butter mixture, then through bread crumb mixture.

Place chicken in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Pour remaining butter mixture over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, basting with butter mixture once or twice.

Serves 6.

Rhubarb Cake

1 pkg. (18 ½ oz.) yellow cake mix and ingredients to make it
5 c. diced rhubarb
1 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream

Mix cake as directed on the package. Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Sprinkle rhubarb over batter. Sprinkle with sugar. Pour cream over the top. DO NOT MIX THE LAYERS.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

My work in progress: I have been contracted by my publisher to write a three-book series set in the United Kingdom. Right now I’m working on Book 1, and although I have a working title for it, we haven’t come up with an official title yet. Otherwise I’d share it with you now! The three books will be in the same genre as my first three novels- women’s fiction with a gothic feel to them. I’m very excited about writing these books, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of writing the first in the series. It’s set mostly in Edinburgh and I have a field trip planned for research!

My blog: My goal this year is to increase the number of authors I have on the blog either guest posting or participating in interviews. It’s been a good year so far, and I enjoyed having you on the blog, Sally. (Thanks Amy, I enjoyed that very much too)

Upcoming events: By the time this posts, I will have attended Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, US. It’s a convention bringing together writers and fans of traditional and less traditional cozy mysteries, as well as agents and editors.

I’m also planning on participating in a river cruise (a one-day affair) on the St. Lawrence River during the summer with a couple other authors. Since that’s the area where I grew up, I’m very excited about that.

I also have two other author/fan festivals planned for this year: the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in Suffolk, VA, US, and Bouchercon, in New Orleans, LA, US. It’s going to be a busy year!

Thanks very much for including me in the Open House, Sally. I have enjoyed the experience and will be happy to respond to any questions or comments your readers might have.

Connect with Amy via her website and social media links:

Website: http://www.amymreade.com
Blog: http://www.amreade.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/readeandwrite
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/amreade

My thanks to Amy for her great responses to the questions and also for providing two recipes that will just have to be attempted…. my chances of getting out of those elasticated waistbands is diminishing fast.

Please feel free to share Amy’s interview and we would love your feedback.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Turning Back the Clock Serialisation – Anti-Aging – Chapter Five – Are you getting enough oxygen?

Turning Back the Clock


Isn’t breathing something that we all do naturally without thinking about it?

One of the reasons that I have left the art of breathing to this fairly late stage is that I assumed that most people were actually doing it – at least sufficiently enough to sit reading this book. The sad fact is though that most of us only use a small proportion of our lung capacity. Which is also a bit of a waste when you think that a few minutes spent each day completing a deep breathing exercise and learning to use the lungs to full capacity is as free as the air you breath.

It is well worth remembering that only the fittest athletes can survive for more than 6 minutes without air – we all need water within 6 days and we can live without food for 6 weeks. I know what should be on our priority list.

As we get older we find we become more and more breathless as we undertake activity but this need not be inevitable and in this chapter I am going to provide you with the tools you need to improve this absolutely vital function. These very simple exercises are a definite weapon against aging and health problems.

What sort of benefits will people begin to see in the short term?

Breathing correctly and taking in the right amount of oxygen for the body can help you relax and reduce stress. It will improve your skin tone, which is part of any anti-aging programme. You will sleep better and in some cases lose weight.

More importantly many functions of the body, including the essential elimination of waste and toxins is dependent on our breathing. 70% of our elimination is through breathing, yet most people only use 20% of their lung capacity. This causes a build-up of toxins which lead to disease and chronic illnesses associated with old age. Most bacteria and viruses do not thrive in an oxygen rich environment so certainly health should benefit almost immediately.

How can it help to lose weight?

As far as losing weight is concerned, achieving an aerobic state means getting enough oxygen into the bloodstream to convert fuel to burn fat. This does not necessarily mean racing around breathing as hard as you can manage. What it does mean is achieving optimum breathing in gentle but effective exercises.

Breathing correctly can also release endorphins into the brain. Anything from panic attacks to migraine headaches can be improved by increasing oxygen into the system.

It may take some practice but after a few days you will be amazed at the sort of power you can achieve working with your body’s own capabilities.

What are some of the benefits to the whole body by breathing correctly?


  • Gives you more energy.
  • Reduces mental and physical fatigue.
  • Reduces chest pains caused by tight muscles, the tension causing anxiety of “heart attack potential” is reduced.
  • Aids in relief of many long-term respiratory difficulties such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Reduces need for artificial stimulants and many harmful prescription drugs.
  • Helps eliminate waste from the body


  • Improves blood circulation and relieves congestion.
  • Increases supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body. Major organs such as brain and eyes need plenty of oxygen.
  • Eases the strain on the heart by increasing oxygen to the heart.
  • Helps increase the supply of blood and nutrients to muscle blood and bones.


  • Better breathing can calm or stimulate the nervous system, balance or unbalance brain hemispheres, depending on the technique.


  • Diaphragmatic action acts as a pump to massage the internal organs, aiding their function.


  • Helps push the movement of lymph throughout the body, which helps eliminate toxic wastes and strengthen the immune system.


  • Shallow breathing puts stress on other organs of elimination.
  • Better breathing can reduce oedema, (swelling of the body) by eliminating fluids thorough the breath.


  • CO2 waste is eliminated more directly through breath.
  • Wrinkles can be lessened due to improved circulation and blood oxygen flow.
  • Radiant skin is a sign of good oxygenation


  • Relaxes muscle spasm and relieves tension.
  • Releases and reduces muscular tension that eventually may cause structural problems.
  • Helps increase flexibility and strength of joints; when you breathe easier you move easier.
  • Facilitates stretching of connective tissue, which prevents formation of adhesions and reduces the danger of fibrosis.
  • Can partially compensate for lack of exercise and inactivity due to habit, illness or injury.



Our breath is much more than just an intake of oxygen. It is our connection to life itself as without air we would die. There are 4 parts to every breath,

The inhale, a moment’s pause, the exhale and another natural moment’s pause before the next inhale. Exhale usually longer than the inhale.

Morning exercise

Stand with arms loose by your side, the whole body relaxed and still. The posture straight but not held taut. The shoulders rolling back and down to open the chest and release neck/shoulder tension.

As you inhale slowly lift the arms out and up above your head with palms parallel. As you exhale, release the arms back down gently to your sides.

So not only do you receive a gentle stretch to wake you up, but also there is more space in the body to take a deeper inhalation. It is very simple but very effective. The most important thing is to unite the length of the inhale with the rise of the arms so that when the arms reach the furthest point above the head you have completed the inhale; there is a tiny pause, then the exhale down, slowly lowering the arms. When they reach your side the exhale is finished.

Generally the exhale is longer than the inhale as you are ridding the body of impurities with it. Then a little pause. The movements follow the breath, like surfing a wave. Don’t rush the moves or you will get tense, better to do them slowly and relaxed with total concentration, better still outside (on a beach) or in front of an open window to receive all that free energy!

Practice for several minutes or at least 12 times. Better to do 12 focused breaths then 25 rushed ones. Quality versus quantity.

If you suffer with high blood pressure and or restrictive shoulder/ arm movements, better to take the arms up only as far as the shoulder height.

Evening exercise –

Lie down on your back on the floor. If you suffer with lower back pain, better to have your knees resting up over on sofa or chair. If your head doesn’t relax onto the ground easily, use a cushion.

Start with hands on lower belly, fingers pointing down to groin. Notice how you are breathing. The breath reflects our mental, physical and emotional state.

After several minutes consciously encourage the beginning of the breath into the belly to feel the hands rise with the inhale and relax down with the exhale. So you are using the abdomen to breath. This in good health should happen spontaneously, but all too often with stress many people breath only using the upper chest.

Do this for several minutes, then place the arms out in a cross, shoulder height with palms up. Now there is more room to take the breath up into the middle lungs, feel the movement of the ribcage outwards and upwards. But you still begin each breath down deep in the belly. Do this for several minutes, relaxing the body on the exhale.

Last of all, slide the arms higher up above your head relaxing on the floor, if you cannot do this due to tension or injury, leave them where they were in a cross. The purpose of this move is to now bring more space and awareness to the upper chest towards the base of the throat. There is little movement here compared to the ribs, but you can feel the rising of the chest and clavicular bones to the throat and chin at the peak of the inhale, just before you exhale.

So you now have 3 places to breathe into, the abdomen, the ribs and the upper chest to make one long, deep, satisfying breath. Feel each of the 3 places as the breath flows up the trunk as one long wave. As you exhale the wave retreats back down to the lower abdomen. Remember to feel the slight pause between inhales and exhales, but don’t hold your breath.

Try and practise this for at least 5 minutes, but 10 is better. It also helps improve your posture with the back flat and the arms out.

The previous chapters are in the directory.Turning Back the Clock

©sallycronin- Turning Back the Clock 2013

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to share the chapter or print off to use as a guide when you are completing the exercises.

Keep breathing… Sally



What’s in a Name – ‘I’ for Ifan – Life and Death

What's in a name 2

Ifan Williams sat in the small velvet chair that usually held his gran’s dressing gown and woollen shawl. The green velveteen gown was now draped over the end of the bed; adding some extra warmth to her feet as she lay sleeping deeply on this winter’s afternoon.

The big double bed was one of the few pieces of furniture in the cottage overlooking the estuary, when David Lloyd had carried his young bride, Megan, over the threshold in 1920. Over the next few years, other pieces, usually made by local craftsmen, had been carefully brought in through the wide front door at the end of the stone path that led from the main road. None of those hand crafted pieces had been replaced in the last fifty years; the sturdy old oak bed was no exception.

His gran lay beneath a patchwork quilt that she had made as part of her bottom drawer. She had explained that expression to Ifan during their nightly chats by the fireside where they sat together after supper. His granddad had died when Ifan was just three years old; whilst he was living far away in South Wales with his mother and father and two older brothers. He had never known him, but he knew his face well from the old photograph above the mantelpiece. A stern looking man with a big bushy moustache and eyebrows, who Ifan was just a little afraid of.

Gran had laughed at this notion and set about telling him tales of his granddad and his life on the mountain. Cadair Idris was on the other side of the estuary, where David had tended sheep for a large landowner all his working life. She told Ifan of his laughter and the way he would pick her up and swing her around the small kitchen when he came back from the pub on a Friday night with two or three pints inside him. She would smile as she sang the verses that David had romanced her with, even when they were middle-aged; tears would come to her eyes at the memory.

Ifan, his mother and twin brothers, Bryn and George, had returned to the valley to live with gran when he was five years old. His dad had been caught in a collapse in a mine and his mother Bronwyn could not stay in a place that held so many memories of him. It was not just her memories, but fear for her older boys who had worshipped their father and planned on following him down the mines when they were old enough. She dreaded the thought of losing them too and decided that a move back to her home away from that possibility was the only way forward. But it was her youngest son who had worried her the most. He would barely eat and at night he would toss and turn in the grip of dark dreams that had him waking; crying and calling for her.

After a few months it became clear that Bryn and George were unhappy despite finding jobs on a local farm. A soon as they turned eighteen they had announced that they wanted to return to work in the mines. They found this rural farming community too quiet and they missed their friends from the cobbled, narrow streets of the mining town. Despite her misgivings, Bronwyn knew that she could not stop them from following their own paths because of her fear. After some failed attempts to get them to change their minds, she arranged for them to board with a neighbour in the same street that they had grown up in. Bronwyn had tried very hard to be brave for Ifan’s sake as they stood hand in hand on the platform, watching the train leave the station carrying the boys back to South  Wales.

That was three years ago and despite initially missing his brothers very much; they made an effort to write to him often, occasionally sending photographs and also ringing to speak to him on the old black telephone in the kitchen. Ifan was now ten years old and had taken on the role of man of the house. Life had settled into a happy and stable routine and he had flourished. His mother too had gone back to work part-time in nearby Dolgellau in a store, walking Ifan to school in the morning and waiting for him when the bell rang at the end of the day. They would arrive home to supper on the table and Ifan particlarly loved his gran’s homemade berry crumble and thick custard.

In the summer holidays after his mother finished work the three of them would take a picnic part of the way up the track that led to the summit of Cadair, sitting on the mossy grass as they ate egg sandwiches and sticky homemade ginger cake. Megan would tell stories of David’s life as a shepherd and one story that Ifan loved to hear time and time again was about the black sheep.

One winter when unexpected early snow was deep on the ground, the farmer and David had trekked up the narrow path to find the flock and bring them down the mountain to safety. It was almost impossible to see through the still falling snow and they had almost given up hope of finding them when David had spotted the old matriarch of the flock. Black against the whiteness and surrounded by unmoving mounds that looked like snowdrifts. As soon as the black ewe saw the men she recognised, she bleated and headed towards them, followed by the rest of the flock; visible now as they turned their dark faces in their direction. Within an hour they were all safely down to the lower slopes and feeding on bales of hay hungrily.

Gran said that in these dangerous mountains every flock needed a strong black ewe at the heart of the flock; wherever she was, they would be safe.

Now gran was very sick and the doctor had been in twice today. Ifan sat rigidly in the delicate chair holding a fragile, blue veined hand in his own small grasp. He looked up at her lined and much loved face and held his breath as he saw her eyes flicker and then open.

‘Hello Cariad my love,’ Megan turned her head on the pillow and squeezed his hand lightly.

‘Gran are you feeling better?’ Ifan leaned forward over the patchwork quilt and stared intently into her deeply lined face.

‘I am very tired pet, but so pleased to see you sitting there like a vision,’ she swallowed with difficulty but then smiled at the worried looking child. ‘Nothing that a good milky cup of cocoa wouldn’t fix.’

The boy stood up and removed her hand from his, placing it gently across the quilt… He rushed to the kitchen where his mother was making supper and grabbed her arm.

‘Mum, mum, gran’s awake and says she wants a cup of milky cocoa.’

His mother frowned and pulling out a chair from the scrubbed wooden kitchen table, she gently pushed Ifan into the seat. Resting her hands on his thin shoulders she kissed the top of his head before leaving the room.

A few minutes later, Ifan heard sobbing coming from the big front bedroom and he rushed down the corridor and burst into the room. His mother was sat in the velvet chair holding Megan’s hand up to her lips; tears filling her eyes. The boy went to the other side of the bed and looked down at his gran as she lay with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her lips. He looked across at Bronwyn and she met his gaze for a moment before shaking her head slowly from side to side.

A few days later the cottage was filled with mourners, most of whom had known Megan all her life and certainly since she had moved into the cottage with David Lloyd so many years ago. Ifan’s brothers had returned home for the funeral and were now on the back porch drinking beer with the men from the town. Ifan slipped away to his gran’s bedroom and sat in the velvet chair with his small fists clenched on his lap. Through his tears he looked over at the bedside table and saw Megan’s reading glasses perched on top of a white envelope. He picked it up and saw that it was addressed to him. The letter was unsealed so he pulled back the flap and removed the slip of paper inside. He read the spidery writing that covered the small piece of paper.

Cariad, please do not be sad. I am in a wonderful place now with your granddad and I want you to remember the story of the black sheep on the mountain. Your mum is now the heart of the family and if you stay close to her and follow her you will be safe and happy. Be brave and I love you my lamb. Gran.

After the visitors had all left; his two brothers’ and his mum sat around the kitchen table with a pot of tea talking about the day and exchanging memories of Megan. Ifan slipped away quietly and put himself to bed. For a few minutes he stared up at the ceiling above his head and then across at his album containing all the family photos he treasured. A white envelope protruded between the pages and there it would stay forever. He switched off the bedside light and within minutes he had drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a black sheep leading her flock across the green hillside in the sunshine.

©sallygeorginacronin What’s In a Name 2015


Turning Back the Clock serialisation – Chapter Two – Acid Balance in the body



Health and energy and long life all begin with a correct pH balance. The pH balance refers to the acidity or alkalinity of every living organism. The scale for measuring this balance is called Potential for Hydrogen or pH balance and each system or organ has its optimum balance for health. The scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7.0 being neutral with anything above 7 as alkaline and anything below 7 being acidic. Each step up or down is ten times the previous which means that even a change of .1 will have an effect on your body.

For example human blood stays in a very narrow pH range between 7.35 and 7.45. If the balance goes either side of this there will be varying symptoms of disease. In fact if the pH level drops too much below 6.8 or above 7.8 the heart can stop.

This illustrates how critical this level of acidity and alkalinity is for our health.

If you already have a health problem

If you have a health problem you are very likely to be acidic. Some of the early symptoms are acid after eating, acne, panic attacks, cold hands and feet, food allergies, bloating, mild headaches and fatigue. Sound familiar?

More acute symptoms are cold sores, depression, migraines, asthma, hives, and urinary infections (urine pH should be between 7.0 and 7.2. Under 5.3 you cannot absorb vitamins and minerals), hair loss, fungal infections and numbness and tingling.

Advanced symptoms are the diseases such as Crohn’s disease, MS, Leukaemia, Peptic ulcers, Cancer (thrives in a balance of 4.5 to 5.0), Hodgkin’s Disease, Tuberculosis, Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoporosis.

For example, an aging problem that both men and women are likely to experience is osteoporosis. One of the primary causes of osteoporosis is a lifetime of eating too much daily protein and refined sugars. This is very acid forming and necessitates the body continually pulling calcium from the bones to buffer this acidity. Animal protein is somewhat worse than vegetarian protein foods, but all exert an acidic effect. Eating a diet high in processed foods that contain a high sugar content also results in an increase in high acidity.

Too much acid will decrease the energy production in the cells and the ability to repair damaged cells. The body is unable to detox heavy metals and allows tumour cells to thrive. It will also cause a depressed immune system leaving the body wide open to infections.

As we age, we gradually dry up at the cellular level. As we get older cells get thicker. As a result the amounts of vital nutrients and oxygen brought into them declines while the amount of toxins and metabolic waste products increases. The end result is loss of youthful cell function and the start of degenerative diseases and a steady aging process.

What causes too much acid in the body?

An acidic balance occurs from eating an acid forming diet, stress, toxicity in our environment and lack of absorption of alkaline forming minerals. If the body cannot get enough alkaline forming minerals such as calcium from the diet it will borrow from our reserves, namely the calcium stored in the bones which leads to osteoporosis.

All food is burned to an ash in the body. Food ash is neutral, acid or alkaline depending on the mineral content of the food. To be considered alkaline forming the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are predominant. If it is acidic forming the ash will contain sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.

To be healthy the body needs to be in the ratio of 4 – 1. Four parts alkaline and one part acid.

Just because a food is acid to begin with does not mean that it is acidic forming once it has gone through the digestive process. For example, a lemon is citrus and acidic but the ash it produces is alkaline.

There are some physical causes for an acid build up in the stomach that can then lead to a disruption in the acid balances in other systems of the body. Eating too much at one time can result in inadequate processing in the stomach. We are all familiar with that overstuffed feeling that we get when we have eaten too much. If you eat too fast you can compound this problem and the stomach is simply not large enough nor can it produce sufficient processing power to deal with the amount of food in a short space of time.

We have also lost the art of relaxing after a meal, rushing around trying to cope with modern life does zero for the digestive process. I am sure that we can all remember when we were children that we were never allowed to swim or run around for at least two hours after a main meal. Digestion takes a great deal of energy and if you divert that energy towards vigorous exercise, food is not processed properly leading to stomach cramps and increased acidity.

Eating plan for acidity/alkaline balance if you are already experiencing high acidity related health problems that are making you feel older than you are!

It is important that you eat regularly and moderately to provide you with the nutrients that you require and to allow your body to process those nutrients to make them as accessible as possible for your body.

Your main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner with three snacks in between depending on your energy requirements. The older we get the less we need to snack between meals especially if they are sugary in nature. Main meals should consist of some wholegrain or vegetable carbohydrate, animal or plant protein and a small amount of healthy fats. Always chew food slowly and if you put your knife and fork down between each mouthful you should be eating at the correct pace. If there is someone in your family who always finishes their meal after you then make it a point to slow down so that they finish first.

After a heavier than normal meal always try and relax for at least half an hour before moving around and certainly leave at least two hours before rigorous exercise.

Drinking a small cup of peppermint tea after a meal will aid digestion and it is better to eat fruit as a starter rather than a dessert as it digests much quicker than any other food. If you eat fruit within half an hour of a heavy meal it can cause a disruption to the digestive process.

Intermittent Fasting is also a way to allow your digestive system to process foods thoroughly over sixteen hours whilst you eat within the other 8 hours. If you are not hugely active then eating two main meals with a small amount of fruit as a snack is quite easy to get used to and has been shown to reduce the risk for diseases such as diabetes.

Foods that should be avoided.

Foods have different acid and alkaline properties. Some are acidic in the mouth but form alkaline ash; others are so heavily processed that they will turn to acidic ash in the stomach. If you suffer already from acid reflux or peptic ulcers you should follow the following recommendations as strictly as possible. This also applies if you have some of the more common degenerative diseases such as arthritis as an acid environment is perfect.

If you would simply like to ensure the correct pH balance in your body then you can adopt a 60/40 approach and ensure that acid forming foods are only included in your diet once a day. If you suffer from any chronic diseases then for the next six weeks I suggest you follow these guidelines. Make a note in any change in symptoms and if you find that they have improved then this ratio is something you might like to stay with longer term.

Very, very acidic ash forming foods that should be totally avoided are

All soft drinks, More than a cup of coffee per day especially with cream and sugar combined, alcohol in general but particularly cheap wine and beer, refined sugars in commercially produced white flour bread, cakes, sweets and biscuits and artificial sweeteners.

Salt should be used very sparingly, as it is acid forming as well as raising blood pressure.

Very acidic forming foods that can be included 20% of your daily diet are:

Chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, lamb, beef, pork and other lean proteins.

Oranges (nectarines are okay)

Moderately acidic forming foods that can be included up to 30% of your daily diet.

Wholegrains, brown rice, corn, oats, lentils, walnuts, rye, wholegrain pastas, sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, good quality wines, organic fresh coffee, yoghurt, milk and cheese. Slightly Acidic cranberries and all the beans.

ALKALINE FOODS THAT CAN BE INCLUDED FREELY EVERY DAY. (note that although some of these fruits contain natural fruit sugar they are alkaline. If however you are pre-diabetic or diabetic then you sould limit your fruit intake to one piece per day. Also avoid high sugar juices and instead substitute vegetables.

Figs, olives, apricots (dried as snack three), avocados, carrots, Spinach, Cabbage, Dates (three on salads), kiwis, limes, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, bananas, celery, beetroot, melon, lettuce, parsley, pineapple, pomegranate (if available) nectarines, cherries, grapefruit, tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower, lemons, string beans, peaches, mushrooms (shitake if not too expensive), watermelon, courgettes, apples and pears.

Are most fruit and vegetables alkaline forming?

Yes they are which is why I so often encourage people to move to a much higher level of vegetables and moderate fruit content in their diet. Ideally 80% of your diet should be unprocessed, fresh and preferably raw foods. However we are not going to go that far to begin with so I have set a 20% guideline for animal proteins, 30% for grains etc. and 50% for fruit and vegetables.

Some other neutral foods that you can use in moderation in the 20% field are the oils and butter and milk. These are classified, as neutral but should be used carefully if you are hoping to lose some weight.

What about sauces for foods? It is much better to make your own sauces from natural ingredients. It is the sugars in processed sauces that cause much of the acid effect. You can use olive oil or a little butter on vegetables and make salad dressings with olive oil and herbs. I find now that sauces, unless they are very light have become very cloying and take away the natural taste of the food.



A really good alkaline start to the day is the juice of half a lemon in hot water. Despite being an acid fruit, lemons are alkaline forming and also get your intestines moving.

Rotating your foods is always a good idea as most of us can build up an intolerance to foods that we eat every day and this can have an acidic effect on the body. I have given you some guidelines for rotating certain foods such as carbohydrates to not only get the maximum benefit from them but to also minimise any intolerances you might have.


wholegrainsThe latest word from some of the experts in the field of nutrition is that you should drastically limit your grains in your diet. There is certainly evidence to suggest that a high intake of refined grains are not beneficial and lead to health problems. However, there is one very good reason for that. They are industrially produced and contain little nutrition, too many additives and usually a lot of added sugar. If you eat a great deal of cookies, processed white bread, certain breakfast cereals and cakes you will be ingesting sugars which are highly acidic.

A proportion of your diet should include wholegrains that have been minimally processed so that you obtain all the nutrition including B-vitamins that are stripped when refined. You also need the fibre they contain and by eating wholegrains you can reduce your protein levels and help reduce their acid content.

Suggested Carbohydrates

Whole-wheat or wholegrain bread, whole-wheat Pitta breads, shredded wheat, whole-wheat pasta, Rye Crisp breads, Pumpernickel, mashed parsnip. Cornflakes, Corn Tortillas, Porridge oats, sugar free muesli, Brown Rice, oatcakes, potatoes.

As you will see I have grouped these together in approximate wheat, corn, rice and oat days with the occasional potato thrown in. If you have a wheat intolerance only eating it every 4 to 5 days may well help you with any related allergy symptoms.   Your body is designed to remove toxins from the body efficiently provided you are only eating them every four or five days.

PROTEINS AND FATS. ROTATE THESE SO THAT YOU ARE ONLY HAVING THEM AT LEAST 3 OR 4 DAYS APART. SHOULD ONLY BE 20% OF YOUR DAILY INTAKE. We need protein and also some acid forming foods in our diet otherwise the balance goes too far the other way. We also need healthy fat and apart from extra virgin olive oil, lean protein with a little fat is not harmful. If you do not suffer from arthritis or acid digestive problems, eating a little more lean protein should not be a problem.


Lean meat beef, lamb, fish both healthy fat varieties such as salmon and white fish, chicken, turkey, Feta cheese, eggs etc.

Try to have red meat only once a week.

Try to get organic if you can but good quality anyway.

Use olive oil for cooking and on bread wherever possible.

Use butter as a spread rather than hydrogenated margarine.

For snacking eat walnuts (14 per day), almonds, Seeds such as pumpkin (all unsalted).

Use avocado a couple of times a week as a vegetarian alternative. You can also use tofu but watch any fat it is mixed with.

Avoid salted processed meats such as bacon and ham except for once a week.


Eat what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.

If you like to drink fresh fruit juice, unsweetened are best – they are available freshly squeezed in the supermarket or make at home, but need to be drunk on the day. I do suggest especially if you are trying to lose weight that you dilute with some sparkling mineral water, halving the sugar content. Most fruit juices are made with the higher sugar variety including oranges which burns to an acid ash. I suggest going with vegetable juices such as carrot.

Drink plenty of water, herbal teas etc. and what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.

N.B The above guidelines are suggested to reduce your acidity especially if you are already experiencing related chronic diseases such as arthritis. After six weeks you should experience more energy, better skin tone and less of the aches and pains we associate with getting older.

Make a note of your symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, lack of energy at this point and then make a note of how you are feeling each week. I would be interested to get your feedback at the end of the six weeks.

Thanks for dropping by and sorry for the long Chapter.. Chapter One can be found here.


©sallygeorginacronin Turning Back the Clock 2016.

Please leave your comments and hit a few share buttons.. would be grateful and thanks. Sally