Friday, 23 January 2009

Goodbye to South Africa

Hi everyone,

I tuned in to BBC News this morning and was informed that London is still in the grip of a “winter vomiting virus” (try saying that one really fast). As I’ll be returning to the UK on Sunday, you can imagine how much this news cheered me.

Truth to be told, it is time for me to go back. I urgently need to start work and furthermore, my liver will probably not be able to keep up much longer with the reckless eating and drinking to which I’ve subjected it. The food here in the Cape is good. As my birthday was on Christmas day (which means I get ignored and no-one makes a fuss of me), I was treated by my husband to a belated birthday dinner last night at my favourite restaurant. We had ostrich carpaccio to start with, followed by Cape Crayfish and finally ended the meal with “koeksisters” – a spectacular South African dessert. You make it by twisting three pieces of special pastry dough into a thick plait and then dipping it into boiling ginger syrup before allowing it to cool. And a mere ten thousand calories per bite!

Of course, last night we also had several glasses of very good South African wine. Ah, the wine. This is where it gets dangerous. My Mum lives in Stellenbosch and people here have wine with breakfast. Stellenbosch and the neighbouring town of Franschoek (literally translated “French corner”) form the heart of South African wine country. Most of the vineyards here were started by the French Huguenots in 1685 and many of the wine estates still carry French names.

I’ve been to Napa – lovely and you guys make great wines – and I’ve been to Australia – ditto. But truthfully, there is nothing that can compare to the beauty of the Cape winelands. Do me a favour and click on the following link, which will take you to the website of the L’Ormarins wine estate. Take a look at those pictures – aren’t they breathtaking?

L'Ormarins Wine Estate

Here’s another one. Note the manor house, which is built in typical Cape Dutch style with its flowing white gables.

Boschendal Manor House

OK, this is pathetic. I’m supposed to write a literary blog and here I’m drooling all over the page. Apologies Let me quickly move on to something more fitting. You may remember that Season of the Witch made the longlist of 50 books nominated for the Books to Talk About Award and that I’ve asked for your support to see if we can’t manage to move my witches onto the shortlist of 10 titles. I still don’t know if we were successful – I’ll have the answer for you on 1 February – but I do know that the comments you left on my page were wonderful and have drawn attention. My editor actually called me on the phone to congratulate me on having such “delightful” readers. Thank you so much, you guys! Fingers crossed...

Right, I have to go pack my bags but in conclusion, I’d like to finish with a lovely quote from Karen Dinesen’s Out of Africa. It feels appropriate, somehow:

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back…does Africa know a song of me?

Will the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?

Next stop, London...

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