The Organic Artist

Last weekend on our anniversary celebration, I picked a book at a store in Berrima, N.S.W. called, ‘Six Impossible Things. Last year, I purchased a double-glass inkwell at the store and was delighted to see that they had moved to bigger premises.

Erica owns the store and is very helpful. I picked up a Postal dip pen nib and the book below.

The book seemed way too interesting to leave on the shelf. A few weeks back I was talking to a gallery director in Camden and he gave me a reed and showed me how to cut it so it could be used as a dip pen. Looking at my attempt I think I have more practice ahead of me. Oh well, something is worth doing badly until one becomes better at it.

In my limited look at the book since it appears to go a lot deeper into the technical details of creating such tools. I’m looking forward to exploring it more and having some more Arty fun!

Written by David Johnson

29 November 2022

A Day To Relax…

Today, Susan and I went down to Berrima, which is about 1 hour’s drive South of where we live, to celebrate 28 years since we went out to dinner for the first time way back on 19 November 1994. We were a week late in celebrating as we were moving house last week.

After all that has been happening in the last 4-5 months, it was delightful to get away for the day and relax.

As is normal, the first stop is Berkeleouw’s Book Barn which houses approximately 100,000 books. It used to be, however, the help the business survive, they kept a reduced amount of books and added Wedding Receptions, a cafe/restaurant, accommodation, and wine tasting to the business.

We spent just under two hours there and (in a separate post) I’ll talk about the books I purchased.

After Berkeleouws, we had a delicious lunch at Josh’s Cafe and Restaurant which is located in the actual town of Berrima. We have been eating there for many years and are always delighted with the food, service, and atmosphere.

From there, we ventured into a few shops (as we normally do), including ‘Mrs. OldBucks’ (jams, sauces, honey, teas, etc), ‘Six Impossible Things’ (various boutique items including writing materials, dip pens, ink, journals, books, and other tourist-inspired goodies). Our last stop was ‘Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium which consists of a number of smaller antique sellers within a larger shop.

All-in-all a very relaxing day that helped us celebrate one of the most special days in our lives!

Looking forward to next year’s celebration!

Written by David Johnson

26 November 2022

27 Years since…

Yesterday, we embarked on our annual pilgrimage to Berrima which is a small village in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia. It is approx. 1 hour South of where we live. We drive down there on this weekend every year, sometimes for the weekend, sometimes to spend the day there like we did this year.

Why Berrima? It is the place that my (now) Wife, Susan finally said ‘Yes’ to me asking her out to dinner, after declining me 5 times back in 1994. We were down there as friends collecting some items for a Christmas party that a Dog Club (that Susan was the Social Secretary of) was holding.

We had lunch at The White Horse Inn and it had such a romantic feel that I felt compelled to ask her out ‘just one more time…’. I did and she said yes! 🙂 After that we visited some of the shops (which are tourist orientated) and then went off to Berkelouw’s Book Barn at Berrima, which, back then held about 250,000 books. Unfortunately, the White Horse Inn has not been open for a number of years now.

Fast forward to this weekend, we have to do it in reverse these days as Berkelouw’s had to change to economically survive by reducing the amount of books (to about 100,000) and diversifying into a Wedding Reception venue, a restaurant/cafe and a wine-tasting venue. They close at 3.00pm each day for functions, hence the earlier visiting time. This was a shorter visit for us this time as we both found 6 books each within 1 1/4 hours. Normally it takes us longer.

After that, we took off to one of our favourite ‘Vintage-ware’ shops called “Sticky Beaks.’ We love visiting shops like these as they bring back a multitude of memories of things that were used in the past and one can pick up interesting curios, as we did again today.

Susan managed to pick up a tray that converts into a Grazing platter. Functional and artistic, I’m sure we will pit it to good use.

From there we set off to our lunch booking at Josh’s Cafe & Restaurant for a sumptious meal of Grilled Barramundi (a highly recommended fish in Australia), salad and then we shared a couple of desserts, ‘Pear and Rhubarb Crumble’ and Hot Chocolate Fondant, mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind on which one to have. 🙂 Deliciously decadent!

From there we visited Mrs Oldbucks Jam & Food shop and several other shops including a relatively new Berrima shop called, ‘Six Impossible Things’, the name coming from a Lewis Carroll story. It is set in an old Colonial cottage down a short pathway.

Sticky Beaks, Baytree Gallery, The Brown Shutter, Mrs Oldbucks

It was there that I purchased a glass Inkwell and some Calligraphy Ink. I had been looking for one of these for about 18 months. 🙂

It was a tremendous way to celebrate 27 years since we went out to dinner and for us there is no better place to celebrate it than where Susan said ‘Yes’ all those years ago.

Written by David Johnson

21 November 2021

Treasure Acquired 🙂

Book Treasure Abounds!

Last weekend on our mini-trip to Berrima for our ‘Other Anniversary’, one of the places we went to was one of our favourite bookshops, Berkelouw’s Book Barn. Berkelouw’s is a long-standing business which used to be a second-hand bookshop with approx. 250,000 books.

A few years back the business was converted to become a bookshop/restaurant/wedding reception venue. It now has only approx. 100,000 – 150,000 books.

Every year when we visit we set ourselves a budget and this year came away with more ‘book treasure.’

I was particularly delighted to pick up the following:

‘Artist’s On Art’ From the 14th to the 20th Century

It is an absolutely fascinating book which I am thoroughly enjoying ‘dipping into.’ To read what the Artists thought about Art in general and their own is indeed a delight!

‘Country Verse’ Edited by Samuel Carr

English Country Verse is set against English Country Landscape Paintings and it simply is wonderful to dive into and be whisked away to the English Countryside.

The other four books are novels and I am continuing to build up the library with classic authors of yesteryear:

‘The Black Arrow’ by Robert Louis Stevenson ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘Sweet Thursday’ by Johns Steinbeck ‘The Short Novels by John Steinbeck’ – ‘Tortilla Flat; ‘The Red Pony’; ‘Of Mice and Men’; ‘The Moon Is Down’; ‘Cannery Row’ and ‘The Pearl.’

Our trips to Berkelouw’s Book Barn never disappoint and we are looking forward to our next visit!

Written by David Johnson

25 November 2020

Book Treasure

In my last article, I spoke about our trip to Berrima every year. Within that trip is a visit to Berkelouw’s Book Barn which is situated just North of the Village, Berrima.

On a November weekend, 25 years in a row we have visited the bookshop. As mentioned previously, it used to contain approx. 300,000 books, though these days it only holds approx. 200,000 due to the owner diversifying to keep the business afloat.

It has a Wedding Reception, a Wine-Tasting facility and a Coffee Shop/Restaurant within it’s grounds plus a small Colonial Cottage which is used as a Guest House. All-in-all a nice retreat.

Each time we go there, we set ourselves a budget so that we don’t ‘go overboard.’ Seeing how both my Wife, Susan an I are both ‘Book-Fiends’ this is a great idea.

They have books ranging from a few dollars to in the ’000’s, thus it caters for all tastes in price and  indeed, subject matter.

For many years the Photography section would be my first point of call, followed by the Art section then, Poetry, Sci-Fi, Garden and Self-Development and Poetry.

For the past few years I have been hitting the Art section first, then Poetry and I will have a quick skim of Photography followed by other sections.

We generally spend 1 1/2 – 2 hours there and sometimes it takes a half or all of that before I find books I want to buy.

This visit saw me purchase three books:

  • Matthew Arnold: A Selection Of His Finest Poems
  • The Making Of A Poem: A Norton Anthology Of Poetic Forms
  • How To Read A Poem and Fall In Love With Poetry: Edward Hirsch

I found all of them in the space of 20 minutes when I arrived at the Poetry section. All three books I love though I think the ‘How To Read A Poem’ book is my early favourite and possible one of the best book purchases I have ever made!


It looks such a beautiful read. I look forward to savouring it over time.

Three more books to add to the “Book Treasure” I have discovered at Berkelouw’s Book Barn, Berrima.

If you are in the area, why not pay them a visit or visit them online. You just might discover some “Book Treasure” of your own.
Great hunting!

Written By David Johnson
22 December 2019

25th Anniversary!

Last month, it marked 25 years since Susan and I went out to dinner for the first time. Every year since, we’ve celebrated the occasion by spending either the weekend or the day on or close to the day in November. We’ve been married now for over 22 years.


We normally celebrate it in Berrima, NSW as it was in Berrima that Susan finally said yes to going out with me (after saying no, 5 times). What changed, you might ask? There’s a little more to it but that’s a story for another day.

Berrima, as ‘Aussie Towns’ states is ‘a historic village driven by tourism and handicrafts surrounded by farming and grazing, coal mining and cement manufacture.’

We always have a meal or two down there and although the order of things has changed over the years, there are shops/places within the town that we always visit and others that ‘come and go.’

One such place we used to love was ’Sprinkles’, a Christmas shop with all manner of decorations for sale including those charming musical and voice or movement-activated decorations. It was such a treat and we used to by a special decoration there each year. Sadly, the owner retired a couple of years ago and closed it down.

Another special place is Berkeleouw’s Book Barn which used to have 300,000 second-hand books. It now only holds 200,000 as the owners diversified (to stay afloat). It now has a Wedding Reception Centre, a Wine-Tasting facility and a coffee alcove and a restaurant where the eating space can be enlarged as some of the sturdy bookshelves are on wheels, thus can be wheeled towards the other bookshelves that line the walls to create more room for tables.

Berkeleouw’s Book Barn

As a bookshop it has a different charm now to what it used to have. Not better, just different and we still enjoy ‘unearthing book treasure there!’ It’s great that they also retained the grand, old fireplace which is surely needed in the colder months in the Southern Highlands.


There are many other shops, including ‘Mrs Old Bucks Pantry’, ’Six Impossible Things’,’The Bay Tree Gallery’ (that has a wide variety of Artistic endeavours on display/sale’, ’Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium’ (which is like 10 shops in one), ’The Little Hand-Stirred Jam Shop’, ‘The Brown Shutter’ but to name a few.

As you can see, we love our trips to Berrima. It’s a special time for us and our visits there have added so many more special memories along the way.

Written by David Johnson