The endearing kalanchoe.

IMG_0242 The kalanchoe

The woman engaged to work three hours fortnightly after Helvi broke her arms has been a good choice. She came again yesterday and we decided to leave her at her work. We noticed three weeks ago how she would silently glide hither and dither, cleaning the carpet squares after dusting the top of door-edges, pictures,  the white painted tables and moving about all those domestic bits and pieces that we have collected over the years. Some of the wall-hangings are crocheted cotton windmills with Dutch landscaped backgrounds which my mother left after her passing. I think how her fingers must have stayed nimble even in her latter years when in her nineties. She never was able to do nothing which for others comes fairly easy.

With the cleaning of the house taking about three hours we decided to visit Berkelouw’s Book barn not far from where we live and have a coffee.

Image result for Berkelouws Book barn

This book barn combines selling of both second hand and new books and a very popular place to visit with well over 100 acres of extensive gardens. You can get both married and have a funeral. It caters for overnight stays and has excellent restaurants, winery and everything else one could conjure up with sitting outside enjoying the country-side a special favourites of us.

Image result for bendooley estate

Here is the story of Berkelouw’s bookstores.

“Our History from 1812The story of Berkelouw Books begins in Kipstraat, Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812. Solomon Berkelouw traded in vellum-bound theology books which were en vogue in the early nineteenth century. Publishers of the period were certain of selling publications as long as they dealt with theology. Solomon peddled his wares on Rotterdam Quay and his clients were mainly owners and skippers of the barques that brought grain and other agricultural products from the provinces of Zealand and Zuid Holland to Rotterdam. The owners of barques were well to do citizens with a growing interest in education. Not much is known of Solomon Berkelouw except that his bookselling career came to a sudden and unfortunate end. On a late winter’s afternoon, with snow falling thickly all around, Solomon attempted to cross an icy plank that connected a customer’s ship to the wharf. Halfway up, he lost his footing and fell into the freezing water. Before anyone could fetch help he drowned, his jute-bag full of books sinking with him to the bottom of the icy harbour.

Solomon’s young son Carel was determined to carry on his father’s trade. He put the business on a more stable footing by opening a bookstore at the Niewe Market in Rotterdam. Under Carel’s direction Berkelouw Books prospered and he later moved to a larger premises at Beurs Station, also in Rotterdam.

Carel’s son Hartog Berkelouw continued to expand the family business. After serving an apprenticeship with his father in the Beurs Station store, he opened a new shop at Schoolstraat, Rotterdam. It was Hartog who first began issuing the catalogues that gained Berkelouw an international reputation. In 1928, the firm was granted membership to the prestigious International Antiquarian Booksellers Association. Business subsequently increased and Hartog’s children, Sientje, Leo, Carel and Isidoor, all became involved in the book trade. However, the Second World War intervened, introducing a dark chapter into the history of the Berkelouw family. During the siege of Rotterdam, Berkelouw Books’ premises were bombed and its entire stock destroyed. Amongst the lost books was a collection of antique bibles thought to be the most valuable in all of Europe. Further tragedy followed – Sientje and Carel became casualties of the war. As Leo had left the firm many years earlier, the once thriving business was brought to a standstill – the work of four generations of Rotterdam booksellers virtually wiped out in just a few years.

Immediately after the war, Isidoor Berkelouw began to re-establish the firm. He set up business in Amsterdam and began conducting successful book auctions. However, Isidoor was keen to move the business out of Europe. The Berkelouw collection had already been destroyed once and he did not want to see it happen again. In 1948 Isidoor liquidated his company and made the long journey to Australia. Shortly after arriving in Sydney, Isidoor issued a catalogue, generating immediate interest amongst book collectors around the country. He set up shop at 38 King St, Sydney and conducted book auctions on a regular basis. As Berkelouw’s clientele and stock expanded, headquarters was relocated to 114 King St and Isidoor began to share the management of the business with his two sons, Henry and Leo. By 1972 the Berkelouw collection had grown to such a size that it was forced to change premises once again. The firm made a brief move to Rushcutters Bay, then in 1977 took a quantum leap relocating entirely to ‘Bendooley’, an historic property just outside the beautiful village of Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

In 1994, the sixth generation, Paul, Robert and David Berkelouw, returned to Sydney, opening its now landmark store in Paddington. Five years later another Sydney store was opened in the cosmopolitan suburb of Leichhardt. Since then, Berkelouw Books has opened further stores in Sydney and Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. All our stores offer an extensive, interesting and eclectic new book selection covering all interest areas with a special interest in Children’s Books, fine stationery, as well as a hand-picked display of rare books. Our Paddington, Leichhardt and Eumundi stores have a vast selection of secondhand books. Adjoining many of our stores are the Berkelouw Cafes, a great place to relax and enjoy ambience.

Today Berkelouw Books is Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian, secondhand, and new bookseller. We have an overall stock in excess of 2 million books, many of which are listed and available for purchase here.

Thus the romance of books is engendered. Thus too, the association of books and Berkelouw continues. An old and fruitful tree of Rotterdam, Holland, now firmly planted in the soil of Australia.”

We had a coffee and the house smelt lovely and fresh. I took a picture of the kalanchoes from inside.


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27 Responses to “The endearing kalanchoe.”

  1. leggypeggy Says:

    Great history. We’re long overdue for a visit to Berkelouw’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. berlioz1935 Says:

    We like Berkelouw Bookstores very much and have visited several over the years. Many books in our collection have been bought from them. It is a pity they shut the store in Bowral.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the Bowral Berkelouw shop was just too close to the Book barn at Berrima. Also, there were two bookshops in Bowral already and still are. Back in 1956 bookshops were rare and one had to catch a train to the city to buy a book.
      How things have changed, not just bookshops but many libraries as well. I wonder if e-books are still popular?

      Liked by 1 person

      • berlioz1935 Says:

        E-books are very popular in this household. I love books but we are getting overwhelmed by them and when we are gone they will all end up at the rubbish dump.


  3. freefall852 Says:

    Quite often one reads of these long and successful family dynasties where success is mixed with heartache but they press on and eventually come out on top and prosperous….
    My father came to this country full of the same sort of ambitions…He was a builder and he started a small company and called it “R. Carli & Sons”..we “Sons” were yet just babes in arms..but he was looking to the future, you see..He went into a 50/50 partnership with a Slavic chap and they built a spec-house down Henley Beach ….unfortunately, they built it on the wrong he lost a lot of money and the company went down the sieve…so there you have it…not all ambitious enterprises become successful….unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Joe. Most businesses fail within the first year or so. I think the rate of upstart business failures are around 75% within the first year.
      We had a flower shop business that did well. It was called ‘Bloomsbury’. We sold it and soon after moved to the farm. That did not do too bad either with a convict build cottage rented as a B,n B.
      No fortunes were made but it provided a modest income.


  4. Yvonne Says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to read of a successful bookstore enterprise in this day and age. They sure did persevere!

    The lady who does the cleaning sounds like a gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Yvonne and this book barn is out of this world. The architecture alone takes one to heaven. One feels uplifted each time we visit this site and that is before any book buying or latte with poppy-seed cake.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Julia Lund Says:

    The book barn looks wonderful – I would find it hard to leave. Hoping that Helvi is healing, and that you are both thriving rather than just surviving. And so glad you have found someone good at what they do to help take some of the strain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Julia, it is hard to leave. In winter they have enormous log fires going in different areas. In week-ends it gets very busy with people from all over the world visiting. So much better than those Big Bananas, Big Prawns, Big Pine-apples and many other Big Vegies featured in many rural towns.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Robert Parker Says:

    What a great place, – – books, food, wine, and gardens! I would never leave.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rangewriter Says:

    Wow, what a story. To drown under the weight of precious books! Berkelouw’s Book Barn looks like a fantastic place to spend a morning, or perhaps a whole weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We sometimes take the 15 minute drive there, and just take a walk around the place. We come back feeling as if we have been on a little holiday. The laneway that leads to this Book Barn is graced with poplars on both sides, a bit like out of a Vermeer or Van Gogh landscape.


  8. shoreacres Says:

    That’s what a bookstore should be: elegant, social, filled to the brim, and open to every sort of celebration. I love passing time in places like that. Some of my favorites haven’t been so elegant, but they’ve been willing to allow people to linger as long as they like, and either spend, or not. That’s refreshing as can be.

    It’s good that you have someone who seems to know her business helping with the house. I did have to do a double-take, though. Unaccustomed as I am to the phrase “fortnightly,” I thought at first you had engaged a gamer who was playing “Fortnite.” I have no idea what that game’s about, but I am sufficiently plugged in to popular culture to know it’s quite the thing just now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      How delightful languages can be. I thought that the’ fortnight’ was worldwide accepted. I am always equally surprised when the term ‘bunch’ is used when describing a group of any kind. I do get it when used with grapes but with people?
      The cleaning of the house is very well done. The items I often missed were washing bathroom floors, shower screens, taps and basins. Helvi did those after I blatantly fibbed telling her I done them. Now it is a pleasure to notice the difference.

      Yes, this Book barn is unique and one could live there. They do provide accommodation and many days are taken up by weddings, especially foreign ones. Sometimes they close for big weddings which is a bit annoying. Why spoil such a nice venue with a wedding? I hold a view that the more money is spent on weddings the shorter the duration. Of course, that is just a ridiculous point of view.


  9. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Sounds like the perfect place! And what wonderful history!
    I’m so glad you two got some time there! 🙂
    I imagine it feels so lovely just to sit there and breath! I’ve always wanted to live in a bookstore…that might be just THE one! 😉

    I worry that bookstores and libraries will be gone someday! 😦 I sure hope not!

    The lady helper sounds like a good helper! Good! 🙂
    HUGS to you and Helvi!
    PATS to Milo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, bookshops often offer solace to troubled souls pained by shadows of memories so long ago. So do park benches overlooking small rivers with quaking ducks.
      Book shops are always busy here, especially when featuring cookery books. It seems that reading about food still attracts many readers.
      Thanks Carolyn. Hugs too.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Always love to hear a successful book store story, Gerard. And I have rarely met a book store I haven’t liked, if ever. That’s quite a tale you wove. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Christine Says:

    My best wishes to you, Gerard, and to Helvi for her recovery

    Liked by 1 person

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