Tag Archives: cake

Hidden Treasures and Tiny Revelations…

7th September 2011

It’s a beautiful day out there, and it feels as if spring is truly upon us.  Little blue birds are singing their hearts out in my garden, and the sun is shining with a hint of summer on its breath.  I walk towards the café but it looks like a war zone there.   Security fencing, cages, street closures, huge trucks and heavy machinery, security guards blocking what’s left of the foot paths……they are demolishing the old police station and courtrooms on the opposite side of the street, so the ground is shaking and the dust is flying… Definitely not the energy of the café on the outside….


I walk on in through the “cages” and into the café and feel that “aaah” feeling…that gentle lift and settling of my being as the energy of the café and the smiles of those therein, reach out to welcome me.   Here it is.   Home!   The feeling never changes.   From the oven wafts the smell of a quiche and croutons baking and there’s soup simmering on the stove.   The cake cabinet is, if possible, even more extravagantly exciting than ever before.   The colours and textures defy belief!

“Heidi went wild!” says Brenda with a smile, and I can see that Heidi has not only been baking again, but like everything else in this café, she has been expressing herself in the most artistic way.

Banana and honey cake with honeycomb shards…


         Chocolate spiral torte    

Salted caramel and vanilla baked cheesecake

Dare I say more…?

But wait, there IS more on the second shelf!!!


Victoria sponge, and Banoffee pie (Banana – Toffee pie)

And much much more…


The poems and notes from the tables are waiting for me…

This one perfectly summed up my entrance to the tearooms this morning!!


I sprinted along at the double,

‘Cos the street was littered with rubble

But the coffee was hot,

And the smile that I got

Made the trip to your shop worth the trouble!


It may not be so simple tomorrow as the workers inform the gallery managers that the street required digging right up to the front wall, which means NO front entrance!   Where the footpath is will be a bulldozer and if they don’t dig carefully,  possibly a fountain!  The gallery managers suggest closure of the gallery and tearooms, but that just does not seem feasible. 

There are staff members who require hours and need to be paid, as Brenda says, there are meals being planned and confections already prepared for this week, and so the Café should remain open for business, with just a more adventurous path inwards for those daring enough to come find the heart of the building!


Stumbling down the street,

Climbing sand piles and rocks,

With jackhammers and diggers

Hurling aftershocks.

Avoiding trucks and blockades,

Past fences and gates

With detours to wind through

And negotiate.

Fall in through the door

Breathe a sigh of relief

You’ve conquered the outer

For what lies beneath.

Here in the tearooms

A whole new landscape

An oasis of calm

A tranquil escape

The coffee is hot

The cakes are divine

The smiles are embracing

The kindness sublime.

They say all good things

Are worth the effort or wait,

And it’s never more true

Than in this café.

In Brenda’s words, it’s the agony and the ecstasy today… making decisions for the café that are fair to all.  After much discussion,  Brenda decides to close the café to the public tomorrow but to use that time to complete other jobs here – repolish the floor, rearrange furniture, pack up wholesale items that will no longer be for sale (all those beautiful old teapots and crockery), and for her and Heidi to make a start on the Christmas cakes….. (aaargh…there’s that word…”Christmas”… it’s starting to creep into vocabulary around town, I guess it’s only a matter of weeks and the reality will appear on shop shelves and displays….and start ringing through the supermarket speakers and repelling us from shops quicker than any security guard).

The containers of all the dried fruit come out and the mass production of this season’s gift begins.

“’scuse me” says Brenda, after a while of mixing … “I’m just off to get some whiskey”   We all laugh and someone says “time her!” 

But she comes right back with several bottles of the “good drop”…

The giant containers of fruit glisten with colour and texture, as they get combined, and the bracing smell of whiskey arises as the bottles are poured into the mix.    I wonder if there will be any sixpences added to these puddings in the making.   I feel inspired to go home and plan my own traditional Christmas puddings and cakes.


I dropped in to post a letter,

But they said I had it wrong,

It no longer was a post office,

The post master – he had gone.

So I sat a while and had a think

Then a cup of tea and scone





A lovely place to stop for afternoon tea!

China cups and teapot and beautiful cakes to see!

You have created a nice teashop!

So when we’re back again with our friends

In we’ll pop!


(Colleen )



The coffee’s nice

The tea is sweet

And this is a

Great place to meet.



Indeed it is!




One cup… or two …

A pot of tea

Carefully brewed.

Wait three minutes

Then sip it slow…

Somehow life looks better

Over the rim of a teacup.

(Jacinta Matrenza, Mandurah)



That’s a wonderful truth!   How many of us have memories of visiting a parent or older friend at various times of our life, when we have sadness or pain, and being given a hot cup of tea to help ease our troubles while we talk, or just sit quietly.   I know some very special people whose first line of support is to “put the kettle on”.   Don’t you?

We talk between us about the healing power of the hot beverage.   From a hot chocolate for our children at night, to a cup of tea with our parents…. Many women are the makers of the “cuppa’.   But what of the joys we get when someone else makes that cup of tea for us ….?

Brenda recalls the joy of someone else making her afternoon tea, just as I remember that feeling when after a tiring week of caring for my family, I visit a friend who lets me sit down while she makes me a coffee.   It’s a simple but much valued gift.   And it is part of the charm of the tearooms too.   It’s the “giving” and the “caring” behind every cup that makes this place so very special.    

I think the longer I am in the café, the more I get to see and hear.   The “behind the scenes” is very enlightening…. You do gain such enormous respect for business owners in the hospitality industry.   And empathy too.   I helped Brenda one cold, dark evening when she was here alone, to pack up and carry in all the tables and chairs on the verandah… folding cloths, putting away plants, decorations, sugar bowls – the furniture was heavy and I even worked up a sweat.   And Brenda does this every night and puts the furniture out every morning… along with the decision making, the precision baking and prep work for the day’s fare.  Not to mention her care and support for her staff.   Again I think of the expression “labour of love” and know it to be true.

Now, back to my garden and little blue things….I made an interesting discovery last week.   I think I have mentioned that my blue wren family consists of Blue Boy, the male, and his “Henny” the female, and a young female from their last nesting season (last summer).    I’ve learned that even when the blue males lose their feathers and appear to be the same colouring as the females, you can tell them apart because the female wrens have orange coloured skin around their eyes, on their legs, and their beak colour is orange.  The males have black or very dark skin in these places.

Last week I was watching my wrens play in the garden when I walked outside.   The young “female” would sit on the branch when the father bird flew up and open her beak and hold that pose.   My initial thoughts were “Hey, you’re not a baby any more, what’s with the “feed me” attitude!”  

But then the little one landed on my hand and I got a surprise.  “Her” beak and legs and skin colouring had darkened like the male bird, even though “she” still had a grey plumage like her Mother.   

Now, that really got me wondering “Was ‘she’ a ‘he’??”   Then I realized that would explain the open beak display she was giving the male bird.   Like with baby foals, or young horses, who open and close their mouths as a sign of respect for an older or more superior horse in the herd, this was a sign of respect towards an older, more superior bird.   And that would make sense that the juvenile wren was showing “respect” towards the dominant male bird in the family.

The next day after making this observation, when the young bird landed on my hand, I noticed tiny flecks of brilliant blue emerging from the soft grey feathers, the beginnings of a spring plumage.   “She” was a “He” !!    It was no great discovery compared to events in the rest of the world, but for me, it was just momentous!   As  the days went by, the blue became more and more noticeable, as did the relationship woes between youngster and father.   The male wren would chase the little one away at any point where I was interacting with them, and the juvenile wren would make the “open beak” respect sign at him, or fly away and hide.    But he did not go far and still would come out when the coast was clear to land on my hand as he had done in the past.   I felt a bit sorry for him, with his spotty, scruffy, half grown coat, he looked kinda disreputable, and a bit “down on his luck” especially when the older Blue Boy chased him away.    At one point, when “Little Blue” as I called him was on my hand, “Blue boy” flew in with such a vengeance and chased him so blindly that they both flew into the side of my head.   Talk about the dangers of befriending blue wrens!!!

What was however, quite inspirational, was to watch the young Blue wren realize he had a song.   He would sit alone on a branch and throw his head back and burst forth into the most powerful song.   It really was the most amazing thing to witness and hear!   Over a few days, his song became loud and clear in my garden and I loved hearing him sing his presence and his heart into the world.  

I was really happy to think I now had TWO Blue boys in my garden that would respond to my presence and the camera, even if they did not much like each other.    I tried to seek “Little Blue” out quietly and give him so treats, so he would not be driven completely away.   The irony was not lost on me though, that even if my original Blue Boy would drive this little fellow away, there would come a time when the tables would turn, and this young male would become the king of the garden and chase his old Father bird away.    I guess that made me sad, even though it was simply “nature”.

So there they were, not caring that days might be numbered, or positions lost, or that the world was full of crisis, pain, wars, debt and chaos, they just felt their own song rise up in their hearts and let it out to the world for no other reason than that they were alive, and they could sing.   And do you know?  I believe the world is a better place for each and every note they freely put out there….. with no thought or expectation of anything except the joy of expressing their place in existence.

And so it is…









Unfolding Stories and Creativity

13th July 2011

Raspberry Frangipani Tart

It is very difficult being in the Old Tearooms today …. I am faced with such a dilemma …. how on Earth do I make a choice from the mouthwatering offerings in the cake cabinet!!!

Heidi has been baking this week.  There in pride of place on the top shelf are the fruits of her labour.   Raspberry Pear Marsala Crumble,  Raspberry Frangipani Tarts and Orange and Poppyseed tart (with orange syrup), nestled beside the Carrot Cake, Quiches and Breakfast tarts.   I want to try them all!  How can I write about them unless I know what they taste like?  What a tough job…. (smiles)  Oh well – someone’s got to do it!

Pear Raspberry Masala Crumble

I go with the Breakfast tart, a delightfully light filo pastry tart containing spring onions, sweet potato, and bacon (among other things) and topped with a perfect egg.  Warmed up, it’s light and savoury delivery certainly hit the spot!  As for the Frangipani tarts, all I can say is “melt in the mouth”!!   The pastry so light, the flavour so immaculate and delicate…..  it’s almost a shame to weigh it down with that dollop of fresh cream!  I said…”Almost!”

I hear Brenda announce to a customer “For today’s soup we have roasted sweet potato, ginger and carrot soup topped with cashew nut cream” and on a chill winter’s day, that too makes my senses drool!

Brenda is smiling big time today.  She is the first to admit that although she is an accomplished baker of just about anything delicious, she has never managed to bake a quiche that she was happy with.  No matter which recipe she tried, none would turn out to her satisfaction.   In fact she had resigned herself to never being able to turn out a quality quiche for her café.   Until today….  In a spirit of generosity that is very rare amongst professional bakers and cooks, the owner of a local restaurant shared his quiche recipe with Brenda.  She tells me this is a really big deal, a HUGE deal….. Chefs just do not share recipes!   But she had openly confessed to him, that she was unable to cook a good quiche and he had shared his knowledge with her.   And (drum roll please) she was about to cut it before our eyes.   I am happy to say, it looked divine (I can’t say I tasted it, but those who did gave it the definite thumbs up!) and even better, Brenda, her own harshest critic, was truly satisfied with the result as well!   She admitted to feeling genuine joy in this simple achievement – for her, like so many of us, finding that spark of creativity in daily life puts everything in perspective, it’s a thread that weaves its way through our daily lives but is often overlooked or lost by all the other matters we have to deal with.   In Brenda’s words,  “I lose myself in the busy-ness but I find myself in my creativity.”  A truth that is simple, but profound.


Stories continue to play out around us in these old rooms.  Families and couples come in, stay a while, and almost reluctantly leave.   Alone at a table, one woman sits staring into her tea.   She looks unsettled, even downright miserable.  She is waiting for a phone call from the vet.   Her beloved dog is very ill, and is currently undergoing exploratory surgery to diagnose the problem.   But because this is an older dog, the prognosis is not looking good.    The phone rings, and the woman jumps, as do we all, knowing that she is waiting on this call.   We hear her say “It is for the best” and chokes out instructions for her dog to be allowed to pass away under anaesthetic.    As her tears fall, there is not a dry eye in the room, as Brenda and Heidi behind the counter, as well as myself, witness the grief.   We know the pain of loving our fur friends, the dogs, and cats and other creatures that share our lives and are as much a part of us as our children or parents or friends.    There are hugs, there are tears, it is a sad moment in the café, but hopefully the kindness surrounding her at this moment helps ease the pain a little.   “It is the final act of love” declares Brenda.   And we reassure this woman that she has indeed done the right thing by her beautiful dog, even though her heart is breaking and she feels like a limb has been torn away.    “Let them go knowing they are loved” I think to myself, a lesson I have had thrust on me far too many times in my own life…..   “If they have known love, their lives are justified and they will live on in our hearts”.  

But still, the pain of loss is palpable.

The most amazing story unfolds as two women come in for coffee and a chat and take it to the green couch.   They are old school friends….and have known each other for almost forty years, but one lives locally, and the other has flown in from Byron Bay after being away for over thirty years.   They have not seen each other in nearly five years, so the conversation flows as freely as the coffee,  rich with tales of children, grandchildren, parents, and lives that wander not only around the country but also the world, and yet return to swap stories on the old couch by the fire.

But what is truly incredible is this – when the eastern states friend, for the purpose of this story, we’ll call her Jani, enters the old Courthouse Gallery, her eyes are wide and she exclaims with a grin that this is indeed, a blast from the past.  

“The last time I was in this room, it was before the Magistrate, who was sitting up there behind that bench” she exclaims, pointing to the Judge’s bench.   “I was in the box down here” she says, pointing to the witness stand.  

“Are you serious?” asks her local friend “That must have been a very long time ago – the police department and gaol cells ceased operations in this building in 1976!”

Jani went on to share her story.   She was only eleven, and had been caught shoplifting “a 22 cent chocolate bar from Killerby’s”.  

“Ha!” she says… “The same block of chocolate costs over four dollars these days!”   The policeman had brought her here to stand before the Magistrate, who in turn, had ordered her to be locked up in the gaol cells for a period of time as punishment .

Jani described how terrified she was – “the smell was awful, the worst smell of urine and other stuff, and I was afraid to sit down or touch anything because of the germs!  IT was horrible!”   She walked down to the old exercise yard and said “this is where they locked me, but it didn’t look or feel as nice as this!” 

(The exercise yard is now clean, and whitewashed, no longer used as a toilet, and has a skylight and roof over the top, instead of being open to the weather – it has been revamped and is now the art studio for local artist Celia Clare and certainly has a whole different energy to it.)  All that remains as testimony to the lives that were put on hold in that small room and the sorry history of the building, is the original door leading out to the courtyard, which remains marked with the graffiti – a little sign of the past history of these four walls)


“The walls were all scratched and carved with names and comments and dates – there was not a space left unmarked” she says.   “But I never stole anything again” she said, with a grin “that experience certainly scared me off doing that kind of thing ever again!” 

Exercise Yard Door

There were quite a few giggles about it, but the most astonishing thought I have is this ….. can you imagine this happening today?  Seriously?   Just imagine the furore, if a police officer took a young person caught shoplifting, especially a girl,  before a magistrate (without a lawyer or parent) and then, locked her in a gaol cell where there were men in neighbouring cells?  Just to give her a fright!  The political, legal and moral fallout would be immense!!!   And yet, ironically, this experience DID the trick and certainly cured one young woman of any desire to break the law again.    Somehow the thought occurs to me that it’s a shame this same treatment can’t be applied to some of the young offenders out there today !!!

So for Jani, it was a full circle moment where she got to relive a childhood experience but in a building completely transformed from the one of her youth, and certainly happier, “cleaner” times….

I have some real treasures to share today, from our talented café patrons….. many have been held over from other weeks and saved for the right moment to bring them out!

This one, titled “A New Anthem for Australia” – enjoy with a smile.


Australians all love Aunty Joyce,

For she is forty three.

She cooks her food in olive oil,

And drinks her Bushells Tea.


Her lounge is filled with useless junk,

It’s scattered everywhere.

She goes to town by bus each day

And never pays her fare!

(David Magnus   24-6-2011)




I wish I was a glow worm

‘Coz glow worms are not glum,

How can you be miserable

When the sun shines out your bum!





I wanted to show my wife who was in charge,

So I gave her a mirror…

(Roger   15-6-2011)



From humour to emotion…





Angels are near

Can you feel them there?

Do you believe

That they really care?

They come close

When you’re feeling blue,

Singing their heavenly

Song for you.

They will always

Be nearby

To comfort you

When you cry.

So close your eyes

And rest awhile,

The angels like

To see you smile!




I once had a farm in Africa…

However it all came to grief


We saw Busselton


Lived happily ever after!





And you with your fortresses ray, in the coldness of time.

Doing nothing more, than watching it all pass you by.

Sure it’s easier than being any kind of investment in life,

Find your money, find your home,

There’s nothing more to being alive.

–      Kim Churchill

(Tayla Van  11-6-2011)



I’d rather sit on a pumpkin

Than be crowded on a velvet cushion




Angel Dream

Golden threads like a sparkling stream

Wander through my angel dream.

Are the threads in the wings so fair?

Or might them be the angel’s hair?

It matters not, they intertwine

These threads of gold in my dream sublime.

So go to sleep my child so fair

With your angel eyes and your angel hair,

And drift away on angel wings,

Dreaming your dreams while the angel sings.



Orange and Poppyseed Cheesecake

“Somewhere over the rainbow…..” plays gently through the rooms…

Somewhere loved ones run free from earthly pain and challenges, and spirits smile, while tears fall on Earth and we watch our lives turn in cycles, coming back to nudge us into sharing our stories, twisting and folding back to reveal those enduring threads of creativity and heart.

It is good to be back…. This place does indeed “feel like home, to me”…..   I see the smiles, I breathe in the warmth and aromas of good food, I feel the heat of the fire and hear its soft crackle above the old songs playing on the radio…   I have time today, for me… I have all the time in the world and it feels good.    Does it get any better than this?

View from the Verandah

A Plate of Courage and Passion

Art in the Kitchen

8th June 2011

You simply cannot walk past the cake display here at the Tearooms without stopping to stare, or perhaps I should say ….gaze.   (and gaze longingly at that)   It views like a work of art.   Indeed, in keeping with the surrounding art gallery, the cabinet is like an extension of the exhibition space, full of colour, texture and beautiful creations.   It is a mini gallery all on its own.     

Local baker’s apprentice “Simon” (who has recently won an “Apprentice of the Year” award) is the artist behind some of these amazing culinary masterpieces.   Like Brenda, he makes these cakes from scratch with only the finest ingredients and methods….not a trace of premix or packet elements that you can find in your regular bakery food.   This is the real deal! 

Teamed up with the goodness and delight of Brenda’s own baking – all home made with love and natural ingredients – I defy anyone not to pause and appreciate, if not salivate over, the beautiful culinary artworks. 

I felt compelled to buy a piece of Neapolitan Cake, tempted by the layers of custard, pink and vanilla sponge, with cream and chocolate highlights, all wrapped in layers of diagonally striped pink and white sponge.   It wasn’t easy choice with the chocolate mousse cake sitting there with it’s delicate “angel wings” of chocolate adorning the top….and the rich and tasty “everyone’s favourite”  – carrot cake, begging me to try a slice.   Of course, in the stillness, I imagined Mary sitting there before me – what if I offered this cake to her?  Would she frown on my thoughts and share her own?

“You don’t have it so bad, do you?” she says.   “Do you have any idea how foreign this all looks to me?  The closest we had to bakery delights was simple home made bread, hot and crusty and tough as boots, baked in whatever oven space we could put together.  Usually without butter.   And cake, if it existed was heavy enough to slow down a bullock team.   There was no cream sponge, no chocolate wafer topping and unless you were the gentry, no cake forks!  I hope you are not going to sit there and complain about life in front of me!”

Edible Artwork

I felt sympathy.   After all, as I explain, I live on a farm where my parents, grandparents and great grandparents had worked hard to establish a life from the bush, during group settlement.   All around me, in my father’s museum, and in my parents’ photos and stories, were reminders of the painstaking labour and hardship that helped forge the “easy life” we now have.     I do have a sense of the harshness and unforgiving nature of life in this area back then.  Hands on was the name of the game.  Everything was carved or dug,  shaped or cut, or stitched or built by hand.   

As I think of this, Mary holds out her hands to me.  Chapped, scarred, toughened with calluses and lines – she waves them with a sense of sadness, and yet weary pride.   No soft skin or painted, manicured nails here.  It is hands like hers that built the foundations of, yes, this easy life we now lead.  It is hands like hers that made the sacrifices so that ours can do other things.   As I look at her hands, I feel the chill, the water constantly cold, the long hours of washing heavy clothes in tubs of water with a hard block of soap, the redness and soreness of hands never still or dry.   I feel the pain of blisters and calluses, the weight of the shovel, the axe, the heavy tools, the carting, chopping, dragging and lifting, the digging and ploughing to grow even the most basic of foods, the sheer hard labour that was the only way to make any kind of existence.   I smell the aroma of leather and horses and damp earth and the Australian bush.

“Yes” she says, nodding.    “The young people today have no idea.   Now everything is done with machines, or gadgets, you have electricity and cars and computers, you can buy things in shops instead of having to make every single item you require, and you have time free from the chores of survival to just enjoy life.   Like here in the tearooms…”

I paused in the quiet to appreciate these thoughts, and simply be grateful for how easy my life was in comparison.   Sometimes we get caught up in our own problems and believing life is tough, but if we were to be forced back in time, to have all our modern facilities removed, we might be shocked at how lost we would be…   And unable to cope with the sheer necessity for long and arduous hours of labour to achieve even the most basic of existences.   Even two power blackouts recently, one for seven hours, and one for nearly twenty hours, left me feeling rather hopeless and useless where everyday living was concerned. I know I would not have cut it back in Mary’s day.  I offered up silent thanks to my ancestors for all of their dedication and persistence and my sympathy to those like Mary who could not even begin to imagine the luxuries that we now enjoy.

“You’re trying to make me fat!!!” I hear someone exclaim from the counter, and sure enough customers, are standing before the cake cabinet, about to order, and faced with a difficult choice.    “Not that I need any help with that!” laughs one lady as she happily makes her selection.

Seems like a similar theme of appreciation is expressed by most customers, as the notepads on the table will testify ….

“Scones and Tea


English and


(by a “Local”)


“Came all the way from Switzerland

For your Bannoffee Pie!

Can’t wait to try it again.

Yum!   Inet

See you next in 2012”


“Mmmm a few words…

But what can you say

About a place you feel so at home,

You could just sit, relax,

And just enjoy this wonderful day”

Thanks     Andrew


“My wife and I have travelled from Tassie.

We love your town, inspired by the warm hospitality!

Will return again someday.

Enjoyed the 2km wharf and of course the “Goose” café.

Kindest regards

Geoff and Therese Marshall

Ps:  wonderful soup!





We also received some “real” poetry…


“There was a man from Leeds

Who ate a packet of seeds.

In less than an hour,

His head was a flower

And his legs were a garden of weeds.”




A little boost for the café poet’s morale (hey…thank you Ms R…..!)


There once was a lady called Wendy,

She used to be sporty and bendy,

Don’t hold that against her,

Coz now she’s a fabulous photographer.

She captures your heart,

With her fabulous art.

And so we’ll never forget our Wendy   J  “



And some special philosophy to inspire your thoughts…


“Live a good life,

Spend some time helping others,

Love your wife, children and siblings,

Be proud of yourself.

Never hurt anyone.

Remember, life has an expiration date.”

(Ross, Nannup)


“Don’t look ahead,

Don’t look behind,

Be where you are now,

In the moment”

(Phil Maynes, Eungella, NSW)

ps would have liked to stay in the moment of the chocolate cake!

(Anne Maynes)


“Perfection lies on the edge of darkness”

(anonymous   8th June 2011)

It was another busy day at the Café – customers flowing in to treat themselves or find that special something they were searching for whether it was sustenance, courage or inspiration.   “Chocolate cake for courage, for ‘gravitas’ ” said Brenda, dishing up a moist and succulent slice on a plate beside a crimson rose and a bowl of whipped cream.   Only here could you receive a plate of courage and passion so beautifully presented. 

It was a rich and rewarding day for me, having conversations with the most interesting people – shared stories that I could take away and treasure…discussing everything from local history and detecting buried treasures,  boatbuilding and manual labour in Eritrea, to literary gems that endure for no reason other than their poetic effect upon our own memories – Oh the joys of a “good blowout on tripe and onions”  (Thanks Val!!)   Life is like that in such a place as the Old Post Office Tearooms.