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

A Fleeting Beauty!

One of my other hobbies is Cacti and Succulents. As mentioned previously, I have had them as an interest for the last 45 years (since I was 14).

I’m not an expert by any means and although I collect them I do not regard myself as ‘true collector’, like a lot of the people that are in the Cactus & Succulent Society of Australia, which I joined during the last Covid lockdown in 2021.

I enjoy their uniqueness and beauty.

Yesterday, one of my Ball Cacti, of the Echinopsis variety, flowered for the first time ever and I thought that was worth of a post.

The stem of the flower has been growing for a number of weeks and leading up to the point of flowering, there is always great anticipation, particularly when you don’t know what colour the flower will be. I walked out the side door yesterday and upon walking past our cattery that holds our single Cat, Miri, the flower came into full view.

I never tire of this type of flower’s exquisite beauty! It begins to open nocturnally and we are blessed with its beauty in the morning. The flower only blooms for 24-48 hours, then its gone. A fleeting beauty.

Written and photographed by David Johnson

4 November 2022

Books, Books, Books – Argyle Emporium

Last Sunday-week, Susan and I made a planned stop on the way to visiting her parents, who live 25 kilometres/15.5 miles outside of Goulburn. Goulburn is about one and three-quarter hours drive from our home.

The planned stop was at the Argyle Emporium, which is located opposite the railway line in Goulburn in an old Police Station. The Argyle Emporium has been a second-hand bookshop for 21 years and houses approximately 500,000 books. ‘Book Heaven’ for book-lovers!

This time we only spent just over an hour there and the good news for other book-lovers is that upon leaving there, I left 499, 496 books at the bookshop…. 🙂

The following ones I the books I purchased:

I love books on the Visual Arts that delve into how Artist expresses what they are feeling by using tools and techniques. This one features the thoughts of 20 famous artists. I love this book!

The second book I purchased is a collection that I have been wanting in my Poetry collection for some time but just hadn’t found the right one. Over 1,000 pages of Wordsworth delight!

The third book purchased that day was also Poetry. I enjoy buying collections of poetry. It is true that sometimes the collections overlap with other collections of poetry however, this hasn’t happened too much so far… This collection breaks up the poetry into subjects and includes over 90 Poets. The book was printed in 1957.

The last book purchased that day is from another ‘like’ of mine, and that is ‘tools and techniques that inspire creative writing’. I find them a fascinating read and, by the looks of this book, I won’t be disappointed.

4 more books from from the treasure-trove second-hand bookshop known as the Argyle Emporium, Goulburn, NSW. Australia. Some of the rooms are pictured below.

I can hardly wait until our next visit! 🙂

Written by David Johnson

17 August 2022

Oh The Fun!

Last weekend, my Wife and I stayed with our friends at Millthorpe, NSW, Australia as my Wife had been invited to a Baby Shower in Bathurst, about 20 minutes drive away.

Whilst my Wife was at the party, I ventured into the CBD and started to look for a suitable subject to sketch and paint.

I came across a lovely-looking building with a dome which turned out the be the Courthouse however, I chose to sit in the park and view it from behind. I quite liked the busyness of the structures in front of it that were set against the backdrop of the dome.

For me, it was rather a challenging subject as I am still endeavouring to learn ‘how much I want to leave in or leave out?’ One of the other challenges I had on the day was it was quite chilly with a wind blowing. The light was just beautiful though, so I sat there and attempted to sketch and paint it, well my interpretation anyway…

I will definitely have another go at this subject at some point. It was the first time out using my new Winsor and Newton Field Kit which has a mix of Winsor and Newton, and Daniel Smith paints.

After I finished the sketch, I set off with my DSLR camera and (of course) my Phone camera to see what I could capture in the beautiful late afternoon light. Below is one example from the iPhone camera.

All in all, I had a very enjoyable couple of hours in the late afternoon light.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 May 2022

A Favourite Spot!

A favourite spot I (we) like to go to relax is only about 8 minutes drive from where we live. The Nepean River wanders through the Camden District (N.S.W. Australia) and it is at its widest going through Camden.

There exists a lot there to please people and caters for a diverse amount of interests. You can:

  • Have a leisurely walk on man-made paths or go off-track
  • Kayak/Canoe up and down the river
  • Go for a quick dip (no sand on the bank, though)
  • Ride your bike along a designated Bike track
  • Sit by the river with a book
  • Sketch, Paint, Photograph
  • Play ball games with your friends and family
  • Exercise in a number of ways
  • Take your children to the permanent Play equipment or kick a ball
  • Just relax

We use it to go and relax, go for a walk and other things. I’ve been down there to sit and read, walk, sketch, paint or just sit and relax. When Susan comes with me she will either take a book or Crotchet.

Our most recent visit was just to sit and relax on one of the benches by the river. We were joined by i/2 dozen Lizards, a few Ducks and cooling breeze on a hot day for an hour or so. We are certainly blessed to have such a place so near to us.

Till next time!

Written by David johnson

16 February 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 🙂

Our Mental Fuse

Renewed

Refined By The Sea – Creativity Spotlight

Welcome to the third article in this series!

Today I’m showcasing, ‘Refined By The Sea’ which is operated by Stephanie Thackray. Stephanie, like Helen and myself is a member of Red Point Artists Association in Port Kembla.

Stephanie is another member who displays her Art and Craft at the “Art & Craft On The Grass” which is held on the second Saturday of the month at Red Point Art, 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, NSW, Australia.

Stephanie informed me that she spent five years collecting the raw materials that she then crafts into Jewellery (as displayed in the images below).

On a previous visit to “Art & Craft On The Grass” I purchased a set of earrings from Stephanie for my wife. She loves them!

If you would like to see more of Stephanie’s Art & Craft, her details are below.

Written by David Johnson

29 June 2021

*I receive no monetary benefit for promoting other Artists. I just love promoting creativity.

A Trip To The Country – Part 1 – Boorowa

Last weekend, my Wife, Susan and Susan’s Mum were away for the weekend. We were attending one of our Godson’s Weddings (between us we have 7 Godsons and 6 are with the one Family) at Millthorpe, a small country town some 3 1/2 hours drive from us.

The Mother of the Groom went to school with my Wife so they have been Family Friends for many years.

On the way, we stopped at one of our favourite places, an even smaller town called Boorowa. Boorowa is rich in Irish history with the “Irish Woolfest’ in October each year being one of it’s premier attractions. Boorowa is also part of the ‘Hilltops Wine Region’ and so there are a number of wineries in the vicinity.

The original custodians of the land were the Wiradjuri people. Boorowa was originally spelt, ‘Burrowa’ and although no-one is exactly sure, that name may be a Wiradjuri word meaning, ‘Turkey.’

We have stopped for lunch a couple of times in the past by the side of the river, however, this time it was just for Afternoon Tea. A wonderful place to do this is the, ‘Arts and Crafts Magistrates Tea Rooms’ which are local in the old Boorowa Courthouse, a magnificently majestic building just outside the centre of the town. Amongst other things they serve a scrumptious Devonshire Tea and they have books for sale, the proceeds going to a local charity.

It is also the local Tourist Information Centre and they have Art and Craft made by members of the local community there.

There are a number of shops (that we are yet to investigate), however, one shop we did not want to miss out on was the charity bookshop. All proceeds go to local charities and as we are all book lovers it is a place we did not want to miss visiting. Some more ‘book treasure’ was uncovered but I will cover that in a separate post.

There is something about small Country towns that I love. They don’t have the ‘hustle and bustle’ of larger towns. The quieter streets tend to lend themselves greater to visions of a quieter time, perhaps when the Horse and Carriage was the main form of transport.

In my next post (Trip To The Country Part 2), I’ll be highlighting the ‘Book Treasure’ that was uncovered this trip.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

17 April 2021

For further information on Boorowa, please click on the following link.