Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

This is a recipe passed down to me by my Great Aunt. I generally soak the fruit in Brandy for a few days prior to cooking. You can keep it in the fridge until Christmas Day, but I have also made it a few weeks in advance and frozen it. Either way works well.

750g Mixed Fruit

100g Pitted prunes, chopped

100g Dates, chopped

250g Butter

1 ½ Cups Brown Sugar

4 Eggs

½ Cup Brandy

1 Cup Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Mixed Spice

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

½ teaspoon BiCarb Soda

50g Slivered Almonds

1 Cup Fine white Breadcrumbs


  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Mix in fruit, alcohol, sifted dry ingredients, slivered almonds and breadcrumbs.
  2. Place mixture into a greased 8 cup pudding basin lined with baking paper. Cover with a circle of foil and place lit on basin.
  3. Place in a large saucepan with enough boiling to come halfway up the basin. Boil for 6 hours making sure the water level remains constant by adding more boiling water as required.
  4. On the day of serving you can re heat the entire pudding (or sections) in the microwave or by re-boiling for another 2 hours. Serve with custard and cream.


My Great Aunts Recipe









It’s almost finished!! My favourite event of the year. I’m so please COVID didn’t ruin this event, like just about everything else in 2020.

Sculpture in the Vineyards 2020

We (Valle Laguna) are so proud to support this event. It really is a brilliant …I mean Art + Wine. Hello? How could this not be fabulous?

This year I donned my “tour guide” hat and led some groups on a guided walk around the village to view the sculptures. The winner of the Highly Commended Prize, Amanda Lockton joined me to discuss her piece “Fires Edge”. Such a treat for everyone in the group!

The 2020 Winners

1st Prize

1st Prize. Stephen King – Tongue and Groove

SMALL SCULPTURE PRIZE Johann Tovar Carrera – Portal 1

HIGHLY COMMENDED PRIZE Amanda Lockton – Fire’s Edge

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PRIZE Gavin Vitullo – Monument to the Fallen

2325 LOCALS PRIZE Rode Vella – Fatigue

To see all of the pieces you can download the catalogue here.

This year was an absolute sell out, with some of last year’s guest returning to Valle Laguna again this year. Many of our new guest have asked me to let them know as soon as the 2021 dates are announced. (I’ll let people know via our email list-link email list)

With 166 pieces from 106 artist,  this year a little planning was required to see them all. If time allows, I’d recommend viewing the pieces over 2 days, but if you can only squeeze in 1 day then I suggest starting with a coffee and sculptures at GNTP Laguna. Then head off to one of the vineyards, venture into Wollombi village to view the smaller sculptures, have lunch, view more sculpture, then finish up your day at the other vineyard. The larger sculptures look spectacular in the late afternoon light. Of course, this places you perfectly to end the day with a little bit of wine tasting!

Art + Wine = Perfect Day




Art + Wine=Perfect Day

Valle Laguna Book Club-June 2020

Valle Laguna Book Club-June 2020

Valle Laguna Book Club-June 2020

Oddly enough the amount of books that I’ve been reading has dropped during the COVID19 restrictions. How is that possible? I’ll admit that we’ve spent a huge amount of time working outside over the last few weeks because as the weather has been sublime.  Clear mild days that are just perfect for tackling the never ending To Do List

Still I was surprised that my list was so short. That said I do have a fantastic recommendation for you.

Agatha Raisin-The Quiche of Death, read by Penelope Keith. Audible.

Absolute cracker!!! Loved it so much. I could listen to Penelope Keith all day, and she is perfect as Agatha. If you enjoyed the light hearted, slightly slap stick TV series then I think you’ll love the book/audio version. All of the characters are there and it’s interesting to see how they where adapted to the TV show. Often when I’ve read a book and then watched the movie version I’m disappointed with the portrayal of the characters. Not so with Agatha. The TV writers did a brilliant job  and although the books are more “serious” (well as serious as a poison quiche can be!) there are glimmers of the zany TV character throughout the book.

Although I listened to this on audible, I’d defiantly recommend giving the book a go.

These are the books I’ll be reading in June.

Normal People-Sally Rooney

The Switch-Beth O’leary

Three Women-Lisa Taddeo

Let me know if you’ve got some good read suggestions.


Valle Laguna Book Club -What I’ve been reading & listening to

Food For Thought….

Dine In

Why not order in?

I absolutely love our local cafes, restaurants and pubs. Friday night dinner at GNTP, Sunday breakfast at Myrtle House cafe or a special dinner with friends at Panino.  It’s one of the very special things about living in a small community-no matter where you go you are bound to know at least half of the people there.

I also love a house full of friends with a crowded kitchen, a table filled with food and the wine flowing! Neither of these things has been possible over the last few months and I’ve missed it so much!

I know there is a lot if chatter “locally” about the first weekend the pub is open again or how amazing the first Friday night at GNTP will be when things finally go back to normal. I don’t think anyone really knows what the new normal will look, but it will be a welcome relief from how it has been.

We’ve all just adapted as best we can and I have to say that I’m so proud of our little valley. So many businesses have been turned upside down, and still they keep going. The corporate world has terms like “pivoting” or being “agile”. Locally I think it’s called “getting shit done”,  “keeping the doors open” or “putting food on the table”.  We’re a bloody stoic lot.

So with limited seating, social distancing measures and changes to the health and safety requirements for food service, it has made it almost impossible for our small restaurants, cafes and pubs to function, but they have all adapted in their own way.

If you are planning a stay in our beautiful valley over the next few months why not change up the experience with some restaurant quality food delivery or take away options?

You can stay tucked up cozy and warm in front of the fire and I can’t be the only one thinking that the “No Designated Driver Required” option is also a huge bonus…

No Designated Driver Required

No Designated Driver Required

How does a 3-course meal delivered to your accommodation for $50 per person sound? Think shared cheese board to start, then a Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shoulder with chick peas and sweet potato, cous cous, mint yoghurt, or Pulled Chicken and Black Bean Soft Tacos with Red cabbage Slaw, corn & tomato salso, guacamole, sour cream, Jalapeno & house made pickles.

The ladies from Wollombi Catering (Sasha & Nat) who are normally booked solid with wedding at this time of year have offered some amazing option for guest staying in the Wollombi Valley.  I’ve had these ladies cater for us a number of times for us here at Valle Laguna and the feedback is always amazing! Hat’s off to you Nat & Sasha! Have a peak at their website for all of the options and place your order Order Here.

All for $50pp. Seriously!

“The clatter of crockery and endless chatter, our busy, Cafe brimming”Myrtle House Cafe

Another of our dinner options adapting to these crazy times is Myrtle House. They are open for dinner but the seating is limited so you’ll need to book early or simply order from their dinner menu and swing by to pick it up. Order here

None of this will help your waistline but I guarantee your soul will be full and your taste buds dancing…



Food for thought…

Valle Laguna Book Club March Review


If ever we needed some escapism it’s now.

Self-isolation might be the perfect opportunity to catch up on books, but even without guest here, there are still plenty of jobs to do here at the farm. We’ve taken the opportunity to get out in the garden, and tick off the odd jobs that somehow never find their way onto the official “To Do” list.

I set my Bluetooth Speaker up outside and listen while I’m doing the odd jobs or pottering in the gardening.

This is what I’ve been reading, watching & listening to over the last few weeks.

I hope it goes a small way to relieving any anxiety, boredom or sadness you may be dealing with at the moment.



The Girl Who Lived by  Christopher Greyson

Psychological thriller. Twist and turns. A number of moments that are so suspenseful my heart was racing and my breath was shallow…  I didn’t pick the killer until it was revealed at the end. Normally this would be a good thing but I was a little disappointed because there weren’t enough “ah ha” moments throughout the plot to make me think “Of Couse! Why didn’t I see that coming?”  That said I still recommend reading it.

The Girl in The Painting by Tea Cooper

Tea Cooper is a local of the Wolombi Valley. Why have I not read her books before?? This book is absolutely fantastic!!!!

I particularly loved one of the main characters, Jane Piper. She’s described as a “mathematical savant” and has a somewhat quirky personality so she provides the perfect contrast to the more controlled and traditional character of Elizabeth.

I can’t really think how to describe this book so here is what Harper Collins had to say

Ranging from the gritty reality of the Australian goldfields to the grand institutions of Sydney, the bucolic English countryside to the charm of Maitland Town, this compelling historical mystery in the company of an eccentric and original heroine is rich with atmosphere and detail.

A few months ago I started to read another book by Tea Cooper called The Naturalist Daughter, but I couldn’t get into it so I put it aside. I was disappointed because it’s set in the Wollombi Valley and I was keen to get an insight to what our valley looked like back then. Anyway I’ve started reading it again and I can report that I’m hooked!

Less By Andrew Sean Greer

Despite all of the hype around this book, I’ve put it aside for now. I just found the main character a bit to irritating for my headspace at the moment…I will revisit and let you know how I go. Anyone else read it?



I love this app so much!! I started using the free version a few years ago but quickly upgraded to the paid version. It has a new 10-minute mediation each day; sleep stories, guided meditations of varying lengths and so much more. The soundscapes are also very relaxing…rain falling, fire crackling, thunderstorms, or waves gently breaking on the beach.


Watching on Netflix:

The Goop Lab- Better than I expected.

Miss Americana- Even if you don’t listen to Taylor Swift’s music this is a MUST WATCH.

Virgin River- Romantic escapism…defiantly one for the ladies.



Yoga with Adrienne

Cole Chance Yoga


The Food Medic-Dr. Hazel Wallace discusses all thing heath related, with a focus on fact verses fiction.

How I Built This with Guy Raz- Interviews with people who have built some of the worlds most successful companies.  Many set out to build big companies, others slowly evolve and a few just take off leaving even the founders baffled.


Valle Laguna Book Club March Review