Valle Laguna Book Club March Review

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.


Calm on the Farm!

Calm on the Farm

Wow!! Who could have predicted the situation we all find ourselves in today?

It’s quiet unbelievably really. I’m not even going to try and explain the behavior of people. They are worried and scared. Scared about the virus and worried about their financial security.  I think on some level we are ALL worried, it’s just that we deal with our anxiety differently. 

I find it funny that the very things we deem to be “time wasting” or lament that we “don’t have time” to do are often the very things that we need to do to stay calm.

Horses, books, and cooking are my medicine. This week as anxiety levels everywhere hit new heights, and we went into self-imposed lockdown I retreated to my kitchen.

First up on my cooking list was chicken soup.  (Old school I know!!) You can find my recipe here. I can get 3 different meals from 1 chicken. (Chicken & Vegetable Soup, Roasted Sweet Potato & Chicken Risotto and Thai Salad with Shredded Chicken) That should just about guarantee life membership to Country Women’s Association!!!

I hope everyone is doing ok.

What are you doing to stay calm?





February Book Club Review

Where the Crawdads Sing. By Delia Owens

What did you think?

I think it’s an absolute “must read”. I really loved this book although I was totally conflicted by the ending. I knew the book was never going to be the typical love story with a happy ending but I still wanted more for Kya aka “Marsh Girl”.

By the time I got to the end of the book I was emotionally exhausted. 

One of my friends said she was in tears by the 3rdchapter! 

Abandoned by her entire family, and left to fend for herself Kya receives some help and support from kindly locals along the way but not nearly enough. Her relationships with other people are based somewhat on the behavior of the birds and animals that she observes in the marshland around her. 

Delia Owens has created such a vivid depiction of the North Carolina coastline, the marshlands and life in the south that I found myself referring to Google in a quest for more details about everything from birds or towns, to events of that era.  I’ve always thought that “grits” for breakfast sounded disgusting but I never really knew what they were made from. I now know that “grits” are made of boiled cornmeal. Still sounds like a terrible breakfast, but this was the staple food, and sometimes only food, that Kya ate for a large part of her childhood. 

Don’t hesitate with this one. Just read it. 5/5

My March read is another change of pace. I’m reading “So Lucky” by  Dawn O’Porter. 

Happy reading

What’s on for the weekend?

I love Wednesday. The working week is half done and the weekend is clearly on the horizon. So what have you planned for the weekend?
Autumn in the Hunter Valley is my favourite time of year. The trees have started to change colour,  the days are clear and the temperature is still pleasant enough to be outside. My weekend will certainly involve riding, probably catching up with some friends and defiantly some food & wine. I have a beautiful wood fired oven that I inherited from my Grandmother. It’s the focal point of the kitchen in winter. Cooler weather calls for slow cooked food.  
If you feel like a getaway here are a few suggestion on how to spend your time in the Wollombi Valley.
Stay with us at Valle Laguna for 2 nights, and we’ll give you the 3rd night free.
E-mail us at or visit the website
We have some wonderful options for dining.
 The Great North Trading Post is popular with visitors and locals! They have great food all weekend and live music on Friday nights .
 Mulla Villa is an original 1840 convict built sandstone Magistrate’s house and is quiet the dining experience! They are open for lunch and dinner.
The Wollombi Tavern is not only your typical country but it’s the home Dr. Jurd’s Jungle Juice. No visit to the valley is complete without a little taste!
Saturday, visit the art exhibition by Guntis Janson ” Paintings from the Studio” at the Wollombi Cultural Centre, Wollombi.  Open weekends 10am to 4pm, from Saturday 16 to Sunday 24 May 2015
Indulge in a little bit of wine tasting at one of the many local vineyards.
My personal favourite are the Stonehurst Methode Champenoise and the Lemoncello liqueur from Wollombi Village Vineyard. 

Happy planning! I guarantee you’ll love our little piece of paradise.


Valentines Day

I’m not sure how I feel about Valentines Day anymore…
Back in the day it was BIG news. Women would circle the reception desk in the office like sharks (me included) waiting for that elusive bunch of flowers to be delivered. So much was being written into that one bunch of flowers. So much importance was being placed on a single gift or some over the top declaration of love. I’m a born romantic. I think the majority of women are, but today when I think of Valentines Day my idea of romance is somewhat different.
I was trying to remember the most romantic thing that Trent had ever done for me. I cant think of one. Not because he has never done anything romantic, but because he has done SO MANY romantic things. Things that come entirely out of the blue. Things that prove time and time again that he “gets me”. He understands the real me. 
I remember many years ago, not long after we had purchases our first home. Money was tight and the work situation for both of us was a bit unstable. Trent came home one night and handed me a $10 raffle ticket. First prize was a yellow VW convertible and a $1000 shopping spree. He said that when he walked past and saw the car, it made him smile and  he could picture me driving it. I didnt win but I kept the ticket in my wallet for many years. Then there was the time he took my horse float for it’s rego inspection, on his day off, just so I woudlnt have to waste my time on the weekend. Small out of the blue gestures that meant so much more than a bunch of over priced roses. Of course he’s rather good on the grand gestures to. Imagine waking up on your Birthday and seeing a beautiful diamond ring sparkling at you from your bed side table. Yep, he’s got the grand gestures worked out as well. 
Happy Valentines Day everyone.

Sculpture In The Vineyards

This event is one of my favourite in the Valley. A day spent wandering around different vineyards while looking at amazing art it my idea of a perfect day.
It’s well worth spending  $5 on the guide book. It covers all of the sculptures exhibited in each of the 4 vineyards and really helps to understand both the sculpture and the message the artist is trying to convey.