A Bunch of Fives #6

Hello again readers, and thanks for tuning in to another Bunch of Fives, your guide to what those loud forty something ladies in the corner of the pub/cafe (depending on the day) are getting into this fortnight. Please forward this on to anyone who you think might be into it and get them to subscribe!

From My Bookshelf:


“Call of the Reed Warbler” by Charles Massy

I haven’t even read this book yet but I have been busting to since I heard about it. My husband is devouring it at the moment and as you can see in the photo, there’s some pretty important stuff to be told judging by the amount of sticky notes poking out of it.

Author Charles Massy is one clever little clogs. A number of books under his belt (the enormous tome The Australian Merino is his) , he is also a science graduate with a PhD in Human Ecology. He has an OAM for his services in research organisations and wool boards, and his previous book ‘Breaking the Sheeps Back’ was shortlisted for the Prime Ministers Australian Literary Awards in Australian History. He is also our sheep classer and a really lovely gentleman. Being a farmer himself, this book explores regenerative agriculture and exposes what really is going on behind industrial agriculture and the greedy corporations that drive it. We are striving to make changes for the better on our farm here in Quandialla that are more in tune with the land we inhabit, and I have a feeling this book will be our manual to guide us.


I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read Jimmy Barnes’ memoir Working Class Boy and I now understand what all the hype was about. I had it read in two days; I could not put it down! Working Class Boy follows the story of a young James Swan and his family who immigrated from the violent streets of Glasgow to the tough suburban streets of Adelaide in the 60’s. Looking for a better life but only finding more of the same in the new country, life for the six Swan children and their parents went from bad to desperate. Their home life was fuelled by alcohol, violence, lack of money and a revolving door constantly open for miscreants and troubled souls to pass through, feeding a vicious  cycle of violence and poverty. I seriously have no idea how he (or any of his siblings) survived childhood, let alone going on to become one of Australia’s most beloved son’s and heading up one of Australia’s most beloved bands, Cold Chisel. The brutal days of his youth - the ‘kill, or be killed’ mentality he acquired- eventually just became second nature to Jim and his mates. My nana was a Glawegian from the same era and I am sure she must’ve run with the same crowd. She was tough and hard and my mother and her brother’s grew up with the same steel-hearted variety of Glaswegian love that must have been compulsory for the time. I just bought Working Class Man and can’t wait to spend the weekend picking up where Jimmy and the rest of the boys finally got out of the grim Adelaide suburbs and headed off in the back of a truck, whiskey bottle in hand, into the seedy waiting arms of fame and excess.

Old Timey:


This old canvas/hessian water bag came out of our old outdoor laundry (which is another Old Timey story all together) and now has pride of place in our living room hanging on the old verandah post. These water bags were commonplace in the old (and not so old according to my fella) days before bottled water and plastic drinking bottles. Workshops, factories and shearing sheds often had very large ones for the workers to drink from (the original office water cooler). Mine is a smaller version perhaps for the home or car trip. They used to fill them up, hang them from the front bumper of your car, and as the water slowly seeped through the canvas, the water inside would cool down by evaporative effect. They were often sold in rural supply or hardware stores, and this one came from Tresilian and Dunn in Grenfell. I might crack it out for our next swimming carnival....


A few days before my brother leaves to fly back to Canada our mum cooks his favourite meal and we all get together for a final supper. Without fail he requests caramel dumplings for dessert so mum rummages through the cupboard and pulls out the Quandialla Lodge (CWA) Recipe Book from way back when. I have taken a photo of the recipe but the writing is a bit small and the food stains obscure some of the important information so I have written it out again for anyone interested in whipping up a batch. They are so tasty, and with the cooler weather on its way (YAY!) they are the perfect comfort food for those cold nights in front of the fire. Thanks to Mrs Irene Smith, too, for supplying the recipe in the first place…whoever she may be.


1 cup SR flour

2-3 tbs of milk

2 ozs. butter (might have to look up some kind of conversion chart for that one…that old timey talk doesn’t translate to me)

Pinch of salt


2 cups water

½ cup brown sugar

2 tbs golden syrup

3 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs grated lemon rind (I think this is optional)


Sift flour and salt, rub in butter, and add enough milk to mix a firm dough. Mould into 4-6 balls. Combine syrup ingredients in saucepan, stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, add dumplings, cover tightly and simmer 20 minutes. My hot tip is to serve it with good quality vanilla ice cream. Oh so good.

Art/Creative Stuff/Instagram:


The Real Deal Photography

This insta feed is one of my all-time faves and comes from the immensely talented Pip Williams. She is a photographer from Texas, Queensland, and her family portraits are incredibly beautiful...not a matching white shirt in sight! I especially love the photos of her own children, a recent one of some pink roller skates is the best thing Ive seen in ages. There is something a bit nostalgic about them with a whole lot of natural smiles going on. I tried to get her down my way once for some photos of the kids but Texas is a long way from Quandialla and we just couldn’t coordinate times. Im still keeping my eyes peeled on her insta page for when she might be travelling down this way. And so should you. Find Pip at @therealdeal_photgraphy


A few years ago I was lucky enough to have attended weaving workshops held by the likes and talents of Meri Peach and Harriet Goodall. These women shared their knowledge of random weaving, old school basketry and indigenous coiling techniques as well as teaching me how to create pieces using what’s available in my garden and surrounds. I loved it! I started off making lovely big hearts woven from rattan and then learned how to make baskets and nests and then random forms from materials found in nature. A friend even commissioned me to make a huge dream catcher for her garden using a combination of trinkets she had found and what was in my garden. I follow a few weaving feeds on Instagram but the work of @brookemunro is really lovely. Weaving courses have become a bit of a thing in recent years and you can find loads of courses being offered regularly. Brooke Munro runs weaving classes every now and then in the Southern Highlands region so if you're after a weekend away with a few girlfriends add one of her workshops to your shopping trip. She also collaborates with her clever husband and you can see their creations at www.mrandmrsmunro.com It really is a wonderfully relaxing hobby so if you're keen keep your eyes peeled for courses being offered local-ish-ly by places such as Feather & Willow (Wagga) or The Yard Studio (Jugiong).



I am totally stealing Ambers idea here for the music section because when I read her entry I thought of all the songs that have been blaring out of my kitchen lately. Much to my kids chagrin (except for Fanny Lumsden, thats Clems choice). So heres my High Five for the fortnight:

  1. ‘Wow’ – Beck
  2. ‘Ruins’ – First Aid Kit
  3. ‘Elastic Waistband’ – Fanny Lumsden
  4. ‘Another Day of Sun’ – La La Land Soundtrack
  5. ‘The Salmon Dance’ – Chemical Brothers

We would love to hear what you guys are listening to as well, so leave your High Five in the comments box for us!


Just for something a bit different I thought I would share five songs that have been on high rotation on my boombox. Music is like oxygen to me and has always played a big part in my life. I love discovering new artists, new sounds; I love its power to unify people and all the different emotions it can evoke. So here are the High Five that have been getting a decent work out in my household this fortnight. 

  1. ‘The Wrote & the Writ’ Johnny Flynn
  2. ‘Dreams’ Bishop Briggs
  3. ‘Because the Night’ Patti Smith
  4. ‘Seesaw’ Jamie xx
  5. ‘Emmylou’ First Aid Kit



Lemon Scented Gum: One of my favourite trees of all time. I used to go walking in the early mornings and I don’t know why but when I passed this behemoth out the front of the house it was as if every leaf on the tree opened up all of its stomata when the sun came up and released its intoxicating and refreshing perfume. This particular lemon scented gum (Eucalyptus citriodora) was planted by my mother in laws twin sister about 70 years ago (but it looks about 200). We think its roots are in water because the spread of the tree is almost more than its height, we drive the car in under one of its arching branches. I love the way the bark sheds in early summer to reveal the faintest apple green which shows up the sunrise or sunset spectacularly. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch has an avenue of them lining her driveway at Cruden Farm which I have always wanted to see. Did you know they also keep mozzies away? Now I just have to plant more of them all over our place.


I have always loved writing and I guess I thought my life was interesting enough to keep a journal since I was 12 (hot tip- it wasn’t, and hasn’t been since). I have been tripping down memory lane for the past few months now and doing a lot of laughing and cringing. Mostly cringing. I stopped writing daily when I was in my early 30’s when life got serious and my big adventures became more and more sporadic but OMG if my 20-something ramblings don’t make up for it! I’ve most recently been reading about my first big trip overseas back in 1995 and my year 11 school diary. Everything is about boys. E-v-e-r-y-thing. There’s a little bit of travel diarising but not much. It is quite plain to see that I was a little obsessed with the other sex and sadly, that is pretty much all I seemed to write about. And I don’t just mean dot points in some student diary, oh no, these are huge A4 notebooks filled with complete drivel. Pages of it. Now I have two big plastic lugs filled with the breathings of my life that I have no idea what to do with. I don’t want to throw them away because they're my stories and experiences but I DO NOT want my children to come across them in their teen years and throw stuff back in my face. So what do I do when there are entries (almost) verbatim such as the following?-

“Went to Pete’s house with Kate. She got with Pete and spewed. It was awesome”.

It was awesome?

Oh dear. I think I have just answered my own question.

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