#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Thirteen –  Our new home and friends by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

Last time Sam recounts his adventures as a passenger in cars including the 2000 kilometre trip to his new home in Spain.

Chapter Thirteen –  Our new home and friends

Late in the afternoon of our second day of travel we arrived at my new home in Madrid. David had bought an old house in the mountains about twenty miles from the centre of the city. I had a large garden to play in and wonderful walks around this pleasant complex of 1960’s summer houses, and the added bonus was the number of lady dogs in residence, who were open to some flirting and kisses through the fence on my nightly excursions with David.

In the evenings the pack would head out to the front terrace and some of us would drink icy gin and tonics, and some would just get ice cubes. I would lie on my rug and look out across the valley and when the dogs began to bark, I would join in and let them know who was king of the castle.

The garden was not as green as my home in Ireland but full of interesting smells… Next door chickens roamed around sometimes poking their heads through the hedge. I soon let them know this was unacceptable behaviour. In the heat of the day I would lie on the covered terrace and if it was really hot, Sally would put on the big wind machine and I would lie in front of it and dream of chasing rabbits.

The next year we also bought an apartment in the South of Spain and we would spend the winter months walking the beach and surrounding area. David was now at home all the time and it was dog heaven. My pack was together every day and for the first time in my life the days passed without a drop of rain.

This is when my previous experience with Henry became very useful as in Spain there are many more feral cats than in Ireland.

In our local area on the Costa del Sol was a band of feral cats that spent their lives rummaging in the bins and catching rats and toads. At first, on our night time walks before bed they would keep their distance, but Sally, who had taken pity on the skinny moggies would take down dried cat food pellets and roll them into the dark corners for the cats to chase and catch. She would talk “Cat” to them and despite the fact that we were in Spain, “Cat” is an internationally recognised language.

This game developed to the point where we would be followed on these night time excursions by five or six black, stealthy figures. After about a year some of the younger cats overcame their natural fear of humans and allowed themselves to be stroked and petted. One cat in particular stood out from the rest of the band.

She was a marmalade cat and had probably been the result of a union between a domestic male and a female feral cat. She seemed to have a litter of black kittens every three months or so and although Sally tried to catch her to be taken to the vet she refused to be picked up and put into a carrier. I did not quite understand why Sally wanted to take her, but I heard the word ‘vet’ and assumed it involved needles of some sort.

Anyway, one of her offspring was a feisty little black thing, smaller than the other kittens, who took an instant liking to me. By this time I was six years old and very well behaved and tolerant. At first she would come up close and we would stand nose to nose this tiny creature and I. Then she would leap high in the air and hiss at me as if she suddenly realised how big I was and what danger she might be in.

However after a number of weeks, Mollie as we called her decided that I might be huge but I was a great asset. She knew that the other cats, although unafraid of me by this point, still kept their distance, and by running in close to my legs she could get more of the rolling pellets without interference from the others.

Although she was Spanish, the basic cat language was the same and although she gave me fleas that took forever to get rid of, I hold her in great affection.

Now that I live in Madrid all year round I don’t meet many cats, just the odd domesticated one who has the temerity to sleep on the sofa on the terrace without my permission. However, I have to say that despite reports to the contrary, dogs and cats can be friends and my friend Henry is often in my thoughts as I get older.

Apart from feral cats, Sally also enjoyed the company of feathered friends. Many of whom lived on our local lake in Madrid. Every day on our walks we would take corn or grain to feed them, particularly in the winter months, and gradually the ducks and one goose became less afraid of us. They began to eat out of Sally’s hands whilst David kept me back slightly afraid that I might afford them treat status. On the contrary. My one delight was after they had all had a good feed was to make a quick pretend dash and watch them scatter back into the water. They and I both knew I was not going to catch them and the fact that they would wander up to me when chasing rolling corn, illustrated their disdain of my feeble efforts.

One bird however got a little too friendly with Sally for my liking. A goose, whose mate had died, adopted her and would fly across the lake from his roost to demand a cuddle and special feeding arrangements. He was a lot bigger than the ducks, and I felt that I might bite off more than I could chew if I got hold of him, so simply sat and glared at him from a safe distance. I won’t go into detail of my thoughts about him but safe to say it was a good thing that David held me back!

I did gain two new pack members on our arrival in Spain and grew to love them dearly. Antonio had worked as gardener at the house for over 30 years and David had retained his services to look after everything for us too. He was a short, stocky man with a very strong guttural tone to his voice and he spoke no English. However, we learnt to communicate very quickly and Antonio soon found out that one of my favourite pastimes was to chase a water hose and to catch the spray in my mouth. Since the garden needed watering every day this provided an hour of fun for me that I really looked forward to. I think that Antonio enjoyed the game too as he would spray the bushes for a few minutes then turn the hose on me. I loved this game and soaking wet I would try to run into the house to tell Sally all about it. For some strange reason she did not see the funny side of it and would grab me and rub me down with one of my old towels as I tried to shake all the water out of my coat.

I used to follow Antonio all over the garden including through the vegetable patch where he grew tomatoes and cucumbers to make sure that all the work was carried out properly – he never shouted at me although he might get a little irritated if I occasionally gave his leg a big hug just to let him know who was really the boss. Even though I am now at retirement age I still help him out every day and watch and wait for him to come through the gate.

My other pack member was Sinead who lived in Greece but who would come to our house in Madrid to look after me if Sally and David had to travel for work or holidays. Sally still did not want to put me in kennels so searched on line for a pet sitter. We were very lucky to find Sinead who I fell in love with instantly. She looked after me several times and I knew, and Sally felt, that I was completely safe when she and David had to go away.

We made other friends near our house and in the south who would join our pack from time to time for something called Cava and Tequila. All I know is that Sally makes sure that there are plenty of my favourites on hand for me to eat during the evening, such as cheese and very handy snack sized sausages, and special Spanish hams. The guests also help themselves to these delicacies but I don’t mind as they are part of my pack too. I have to ask of course if I can have something off the plates as just helping oneself is not polite, but I find that if I pass around to all the guests in turn and say “more” they all are most obliging at sharing the treats around.

My favourite time of year, as you already know, is Christmas and I love helping get the decorations put up and making sure the tasty ‘bits’ were up to scratch.

Usually after a very long dinner and way past my bedtime the music goes on and the dancing starts. At first I used to try and join in but it all became rather excitable so Sally now pops me up in her office behind a rather irritating wooden gate.

On the subject of music my favourite singer is Shania Twain who Sally introduced me to when I was a young puppy. Here in our house in Spain whenever she puts one of her albums on, I will rush up to the office from wherever I am, and Sally and I do a little line dancing. I go in and out through her legs in time to the music with a little barking in between. Great fun and it makes up for not being allowed to join in the pack dances.

However, I do have a party piece that I trot out every time we have guests in return for some small pieces of cheese. They have to ask who my favourite composer is and they run through the usual suspects such as Beethoven, Bach, and Wagner and then they say Shania Twain and I bark madly. Daft really but cheese is cheese.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Coffee Time Haiku – Spain – Bass Lie in Wait – Sally Cronin


As I go through my images from our travels, I am going to share some that I have published with the addition of a Haiku over the last few years. In the first posts in the series some from our 17 years living in Spain and exploring this ancient and fascinating country.

This is Parquelagos – the urbanization that we lived in for 17 years at 900 metres to the North of Madrid. Full of ducks and other wildfowl as well as huge bass.

©Sally Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed…thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Coffee Time Haiku – Spain – A Fortified Town – Sally Cronin


As I go through my images from our travels, I am going to share some that I have published with the addition of a Haiku over the last few years. In the first posts in the series some from our 17 years living in Spain and exploring this ancient and fascinating country.

We often did road trips and the towns perched in defensible positions were intriguing.

©Sally Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed…thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Coffee Time Haiku – Spain – Lanzarote – Sally Cronin


As I go through my images from our travels, I am going to share some that I have published with the addition of a Haiku over the last few years. In the first posts in the series some from our 17 years living in Spain and exploring this ancient and fascinating country. This image was from a trip to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

©Sally Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed…thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the next story from my collection Flights of Fancy… a cheating husband and a dash to a remote beach… what could to wrong… or right?

Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage, but then again, she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present, at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news, and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focused on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself wholeheartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Story Festival – 9th – 12th June – Tales from the Garden – The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin


For the next story in the festival I am sharing one of mine from The Tales from the Garden volume one.

The Last Emperor by Sally Cronin

High above the garden our feathered cousins soar on the updrafts caused by the scorching summer heat on the peaks and valleys of our mountain. They search diligently for their preferred prey which is anything that dares to fly beneath them or scuttle out of the undergrowth in search of food.

Majestically they accomplish what we cannot and have never been able to. From our place guarding the main entrance into the building that now stands on this ancient site, we watch enviously with our own wings fixed in stone.

We are the last of the stone eagles that have watched over this magical place. The first were made by a slave of the Roman merchant who built his villa on this mountain over eighteen hundred years ago. He and his countrymen had swept across and settled on the now peaceful sunlit Iberian Peninsula after many centuries of war. He supplied olives, figs and grapes to his fellow Romans and delivered casks of wine to the garrison of soldiers in the camp down by the river. He was a rich man with many slaves collected and bartered during the long journey from the coast to this central part of Spain.

For two hundred years the merchant’s family prospered and enjoyed the life so far from their original home. The skill of stone carving was passed down from the original slave to his sons and their grandsons as the seasons rolled through the decades. But then it all changed as the Visigoths invaded from the north and violence once more shattered the peace of the land.

The merchant’s family left and retreated back towards the south and eventually began a new life far away. Slaves were left behind in the panic, but being essential to work the land, were allowed to settle on farms and in small villages. But the stonemason of that time remained in the crumbling ruins of the old villa and built a modest dwelling where he continued to work and pass on his craft.

Finally his large family scattered across the surrounding area as towns and cities lured them away from the rural life. But always one remained to learn the trade and instruct another to take his place. The very last stonemason who had no sons, crafted us before he died, and as he smoothed our stone wings and hid us within the leafy folds of the boundary hedge, he muttered final words to us.

“Wait for the last Emperor, he will come and find you.”

We waited and the protective hedge grew around us. The stonemason’s humble home crumbled in the heat and snow filled winters, until it too joined the grand remains of the Roman villa beneath the soil.

Finally, fifty years ago, the sound of modern machinery woke us from our sleep and we watched between the large green leaves of the hedge as a new villa emerged in front of us. We heard human voices for the first time in many years and the sound of laughter as children played in the gardens.

But still we waited.

Thirty-five years passed and the children grew and left the home leaving an elderly couple rattling around its vast empty rooms. Soon they too left and all was quiet again.

One bright morning, as we lay in our hiding place, we were startled and shocked by the sudden intrusion of a long canine nose that pushed aside our overgrown covering. We stared into a pair of eyes that sparkled gleefully upon us. From this creature’s mouth came forth a high penetrating noise; enough to awaken even us stone bound creatures. Two human hands reached around the canine and pulled him gently back by his dark purple, imperial collar. They then returned and each one of us was lifted clear of the entwining stalks and leaves and we were placed in the sunlight for the first time in over a hundred years.

I won’t go into the indignity of being cleaned with brush, soap and hot water in places left untouched since our stonemason fashioned us. But finally we were pristine again and placed on our ledge to guard the house as was our duty.

We remembered what our old master had said as he had hidden us from sight. And, within a short time, we knew indeed that the last Emperor had arrived, as he came before us wearing his wreath of office and informed us of his imperial title of Moyhill Royal Flush. We and his courtiers were permitted to call him Sam, but only in private.

Our joy was beyond comprehension as the prophecy was fulfilled and we took pride and delight in guarding our new master. We remained alert over the next many years as our Emperor roamed the grounds on his daily inspection, supervised the garden workers and reigned over his house slaves.

Each night he would hold court from the front balcony of the villa listening to his canine subjects in the valley as they recounted the day’s events in his domain. He would wait until they had completed their report and then respond for several minutes, encouraging them to be vigilant and valiant.

He would then wait for his house slaves to bring him ice cubes to cool his parched tongue and platters of his royal repast in the form of chicken gizzards and sweet smelling Basmati rice.

We, as his loyal cohorts were not forgotten. As he passed us each day he would delicately sniff our bodies to check our health, and if he felt we were dehydrated, he would anoint us with his regal blessing.

We treasured our role as his elite royal guard and although, to our great sadness, he has now passed from our sight, we still stand sentry over him today. It is in a place where he can continue to view his great domain and listen to his many canine minions in the valley below. The last emperor has left his mark on this place, on us and on his people and will never be forgotten.

©Tales from the Garden 2015 https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B0180Q6CKM

Tomorrow we have two short stories from Phillip T. Stephens and Wendy James and I hope you will pop in to read and enjoy.

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy Anthology – Mañana, Mañana.. by Sally Cronin


Just a reminder that whilst I am at the #BloggersBash there will be a short story fest going on over here in my absence.. Details in this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/smorgasbord-short-stories-lit-fest-june-9th-12th-storytellers-wanted-sally-at-the-bloggersbash/

In this story from the collection a woman starts a new life with unexpected results...

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Mañana, Mañana.

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage but then again she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focussed on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself whole-heartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Thank you for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed.. as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Perhaps a gift for a Dog Lover!!


I thought that I might offer a few of my books as possible Christmas gifts over the next week or so… they are available on Amazon for Kindle and also in E-Pub.. there are links on the main home page at the end and you will find too if you pop into Smashwords.

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Sam – A Shaggy Dog Story

When David moved to Spain to work in 1999 we had only just bought our house in Ireland, I had just started a business and financially we would have lost a lot of money if I had gone too. However, it was far too good an opportunity career wise for David not to go and so for the next three years we commuted back and forth each of us flying in and out every three weeks as part of his package.

Sam was only a year old at the time and over that three years he and I developed a very close bond. We lived out in the countryside on a couple of acres about 4k from the wonderful beach at Bettystown on the coast about 20k from Dublin. I worked in my business which was a Health Food shop and Diet Advisory Centre and with my great staff I was able to split my day into three so that I could be home with my friend as much as possible. I was already a family member who was a feral cat that had arrived in the garden looking for a place to end his days as is their custom. However, we came to an agreement about that and he went on for another three years. The toothless darling even attracted a young floozy and fathered two hefty sons who incidentally were the best ratters around.

I wrote Sam’s biography in his own words from our first meeting at 3 weeks old, our travels, adventures, his friends including Henry the cat and his perspective on his long life.

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I give you… Sam – A Shaggy Dog Story.

Millions of families around the World believe that their pet, dog or cat is the most intelligent, beautiful and loyal friend that anyone could have. And they are absolutely right.

From the first moment that I met Sam, when he was just three weeks old, his personality and charm shone from his button eyes. Like many pet owners, we were convinced he understood every word we spoke and he actually could say one or two himself. Rather than tell his story from our perspective I have given him a voice and let him tell his own.

I can only imagine what he really thought about his two and four-legged friends but I do hope he loved us as much as we adored him and the time he spent with us shining brightly in our lives.

If only our pets could talk how much richer the world would be, and funnier.

The book is available in print but obviously post is dire from here. But it is available on Kindle and Smashwords for other readers. You will find links on Sam’s home page.

For more details on Sam’s memoirs – www.moyhill.com/sam

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