The Antiquarian Bookshop

“You see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places.” 
~ Jen Campbell

That was when I finally breathed out, and my body relaxed.

Not when the plane pulled back from the aerodrome.

Not when we took off into the sky and the world fell away behind us.

Not when we landed at our holiday destination.

Not when we sat at a little Italian cafe eating pasta and soup for breakfast!


That moment where my whole body relaxed was when I walked into a musty, busy Antiquarian and Second-Hand Bookstore.

I felt every muscle in my body ease, the tension melt away, the fatigue lift. I was surrounded by books. The smell of them, the heft of them in my hand. The selection, too many from which to choose. I spent an indulgent hour there, and bought a volume of old letters and poems. Then I went next door to a cafe, and ordered a large pot of tea. I sat and sipped tea, and immersed myself in my book as the world walked past my table.

And it was good.

Much love, Nicole xx

Our Final Book Reading Challenge – December 2018

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  
~  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Hello, happy readers!

Here we are at the last Book Challenge post of the year. For those of you who have joined us recently, let me fill you in.

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. We continued the challenge in 2018.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’d support through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

This is what our Challenge involved:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!

Now we’ve had an entire year of reading for a purpose and we have also practised kindness to ourselves by reading.

It’s time to pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? It’s never too late! Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for December…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in December.

I’ve been challenged with visual difficulties this past two months, so reading has been problematic. Instead, I’ve listed to some excellent audiobooks, and I’ve also had Ben read to me too – which was lovely!

In the audiobook department I listened to The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes – and it kept Ben and I engaged until the very end. It’s a mystery, a thriller, a tale of the sea and I was like a kid each day, waiting to be able to listen to the next instalment. I highly recommend it.

I also listened to The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. I’d read the book before, and listening to the audio version was a great refresher. If you’re looking to improve your money situation and habits in 2019 this is a great book for you.

Finally, I enjoyed a children’s audiobook by Neil Gaimann – The Graveyard Book, which is the tale of an orphaned boy raised by the ghosts in a graveyard. This was my go-to book when I was awake in the middle of the night. It’s a ripping yarn. Sensitive, funny, well-paced and with fantastic characters. I just loved it!

So this morning I will add up all the books and audiobooks and other readables I’ve consumed this year and then make my donation to Pencils of Promise.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve been reading too, because it’s time for me to draw up my reading wishlist for 2019.

I’ll be starting with Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which I bought for myself and wrapped up to put under the Christmas tree as an extra-thoughtful present from my dogs to me! LOL

Clever Christmas cuteness courtesy of my friend Monique Sinclaire!

Go ahead and tell us your reading adventures in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

A Busy Weekend of All Things #Books

This image from

This image from

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
~ J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


I might be a little quiet the next few days. The Byron Bay Writers Festival is on this weekend, starting today. How lucky am I to live in a place that is home to so many good things?

But anyway, I digress. Writers festival! Three days that celebrate all things books, writers and the craft of putting words onto the page!!!

I have my program here, and I’ve circled all the many speakers whose events I’d like to attend. Of course this is all happening right in the middle of a very heavy course of lyme drugs, so I may end up napping under a convenient tree, or propping myself up the back of the coffee tent with a blanket over my knees and a sleepy smile on my face.

Image from Mass Pictures

Image from Mass Pictures


I get very tired right now, so it’s a big ask to be out and about for three days, but how can I not? So many of my favourite authors and speakers will be there. So many of my writerly friends will be in town.

And I must confess to hoping that as I sit at the feet of those who’ve gone before me, I might pick up some tips for my memoir, over which I’m currently agonising. You know the one – that time in my life where I was living in the Kimberley, going through that enormous spiritual and psychic awakening…

Who knows, perhaps I’ll see some of you there? I can’t promise I’ll have any energy left over for blogging in the next little while, so if I don’t please understand. There are lots of posts already here you can dip back into in the meantime.

Have a fabulous weekend, and be kind to yourselves,

Lots of love and hugs, Nicole xx