Friday, September 20, 2013


Last Friday I went with a group from Evergreen to the West Coast Nature Reserve. the weather was not ideal. There was too much cloud. But all the same it was very worthwhile. There were lots of flowers. I took dozens of photos. Melanie had asked me to let her have some. Unfortunately what I took were not what she wanted. There were only three of people.  It turns out that she didn't want pictures of the park that we visited or the flowers that we went to see, but pictures of Evergreen residents visiting the park and looking at the flowers. I should have known better because I realised during the course of the trip, that no one else on the bus was really interested in wild flowers. What they wanted to do on the outing, was admire the scenery ( which they expected to include some brightly coloured fields of daisies) from a distance and have lunch at a good restaurant.  There was some annoyance when it was discovered that this last had not been arranged.

The trip was well worthwhile for me in spite of the weather and I think the others on the bus enjoyed it too. We were a jolly crowd and those who had not brought sandwiches, didn't complain that the stall in the reserve only sold hot dogs and hamburgers. The bonus for all of us was the wildlife.  We saw wildebees, springbok, eland and zebra in the park, some of them quite close to the road. The wildebees were leaping about and chasing one another, (affected by the joys of Spring). I tried to catch them on camera but they were all too quick for me, except for one old one, standing by himself, too staid to indulge in such youthful behaviour.  On the way home, we passed a private game park and were surprised to see two giraffe. One came and posed at the fence.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Having become a literary groupie in my old age, I am a great fan of this modern phenomenon, the Literary Festival. Festivals of all sorts, Wine festivals,  Arts festivals etc. have been with us for a long time, but book festivals are comparatively new.  The Cape Town Book Fair, once the highlight of the literary year, has been overtaken by several much more interesting events like the Franchhoek Literary festival. I think this is still my favourite, though the McGregor Poetry Festival, one I don't think I would have attended if I had not been invited, was excellent - a full and varied programme and most efficiently run. If they hold it again next year I shall definitely be going there.

Yesterday I attended two events at the Open Book Festival. The opening event featured three famous South African Authors.(Brink, Magona and Serote) All three are practised public speakers. They all had important things to say about concerns dear to their hearts and were able to communicate these in an engaging way and hold our attention throughout the allotted time. They gave us plenty of food for thought and I found the session very worthwhile. However, I would have liked more interaction. It was like having three speakers, giving three addresses, one after the other. It would have been more entertaining to have had a discussion between the three, especially if they were to disagree. I think an argument would have been more fun.

The second event was Finding Your Voice and dealt with the question of the teaching of creative writing particularly with regard to the writing of poetry.  This event was very well chaired by Karin Schimke.  She managed to draw out the other three panellists and get them to talk freely and we had varied opinions about the value of University courses. They agreed that writing ability is inborn, but to write well is an art that has to be learnt. They also agreed that teaching this art presents problems. One of the problems is the tendency to be too much influenced towards copying a certain style. They also discussed the problem of steering a course between offering help and stifling inspiration. They had all come across aspirant poets who were devastated by any criticism of their work.
(Personally, though I can understand that it can hurt, I feel that if you offer your work for evaluation you should accept criticism with a good grace. You have done so in order that you can learn how to improve it after all, haven't you?)
Their advice to aspirant poets: -
Aspirant poets need to:
read more, write more, go for long, long walks,
accept rejection with a smile and
never show their newly written work to
family or lovers.