This weekend was Franschhoek Literary Festival, and not only was it my first time at the fest, it was also the first time in Franschhoek itself, so I spent most of the time I was there saying, “Oh my god how beautiful is this place?”
I travelled with writer S.A. Partridge, photographer Warren Talmarkes, and women24‘s resident Book Diva Tammy February, which was probably the best way I could have done this inaugural toe-dipping into the SA book world. Fabulous people.
The first thing up was Thursday’s school talks with S.A. Partridge. We spoke to the matrics at Bridge House and Franschhoek High, and I gotta say – if these guys are any indication, the future is looking bright. They were friendly, funny, and asked great questions. I can only hope we entertained them a bit (or at least gave them a break from regular class-schedules.)
After that, and way, way too many coffees, we checked into the beautiful Knorhoek wine farm in Stellenbosch, where Carol made us feel very welcome. The whole place feels like home on a grander scale – fireplaces and a wall of old cameras and a fridge full of wine. We were staying in the bed and breakfast which I believe was the converted stables and blacksmith. I don’t know how thick those old buildings’ walls were, but I can say that while it was freezing outside at night, I was a Very Warm and Snuggly Cat.
That evening we drove through to join everyone at the official welcoming meet and greet thing in the town hall, then grabbed ourselves some poppers and chicken strips from the little pub in the converted train station. This weekend was awash in wine and food, so I am pretty sure I came back about five kilograms heavier. When one of the events sponsors is Porcupine Ridge (the other was Sunday Times) and knowing what happens when you put writers and vast quantities of free wine together, the weekend certainly turned out to be interesting.
Friday was rather busy (for me – I’m used to hiding in my little house in Muizenberg and not really interacting with humans), and we decided that since I had my Very First Panel Thing happening that morning, we should start the day with a brisk walk followed by a wine tasting. (This is the problem with staying on a wine farm…)
Yes. Damn those wine tastings. I was quite content to just sample, but ended up buying more wine than I normally do. Ever. I’m not even a fan of white wine, but I pretty much adored the Knorhoek Chenin Blanc. We had a moment.
On to Franschhoek and the panel. I was a little star-struck, being on a Dystopian Fiction panel with Sarah Lotz, Karen Jayes, Lauren Beukes, and Rachel Zadok, but it seemed to go well by my understanding of these things. The venue was packed, and we soon rambled off-topic so if you were there to learn something about dystopia….hah. I have no idea what I said because I was in a state of terror, and I kept feeling like I was going to burp into the microphone (weird…fear?) but luckily the seasoned pros were there being generally awesome and articulate.
LindsayCal took this pic of all the panellists:
The rest of the weekend might have devolved into me wandering around and gate-crashing parties, eating masses of ice-cream and chocolate, and having lunches with fantastic people, which is code for Having A Grand Old Time. The only downside of the whole thing was that Anthony Horowitz unfortunately was very ill and had to be flown back to the UK, so I never go to meet him or hear any of his talks.
On the very last morning, the farm’s bull terrier Merlot came to give me a little farewell head-on-the-knee snuffle and grunt, and it was the perfect goodbye under the oak trees turning pink and gold in the crisp autumn air.