16 November
Arrival at Spier Estate, the conference venue. After logging into the fine four-star hotel we went for a walk and saw the first cheetah. Tomorrow there will be a writing workshop which I look forward to attending. It’s getting warmer now.
A nice cup of Roiboos tea and time for bed.

15 November
Late breakfast on the terrace with magnificent view over the Helderberg mountains. I rehearsed my presentation to my South African friend Margaretha and we had a fruitful dialogue about the message I’m going to convey next Friday. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about me presentating at the conference. Do I really have something interesting to communicate? What audience will I have? Will they be listening? Will I be able to evoke their interest? I have mixed feelings, though: it will be so exciting to be part of it all, listening and learning a lot!

In the afternoon we visited the vineyard Vergelegen, which in Africaans is pronounced with so many ach-lauts that it sounds like a sneeze. The tourist brochure says: “you can experience the pastoral tranquility of the extensive gardens and absorb the history of Cape cultural heritage…” The most awesome thing to see there is the tall magnificent stout camphor trees.

In the evening, under a starry sky – but a sky different from ours, a howling wind shatters the windows of the house where we are staying. Kind of spooky!

14 November
Good to rest and sleep late after the long flight. In the afternoon we visited Lourensford Wine Estate, situated by the river bearing the same name. We did some cheese tasting – South African cheddars of different ages: matured 6 months and 12 months. We had a lovely cup of coffee, not outside, though. The expected spring warmth hasn’t made its appearance. It’s quite chilly and windy. In spite of the weather we went for a walk in the nature reserve to breathe some fresh air and look at the exotic plants and birds.

13 November
A long journey – all in all nearly 14 hours. Monotonous is the least one can say. I watched two films on the plane: Atonement (the book is better…) and the film about Coco Chanel that didn’t impress me too much. I think the film about Edith Piaf was much more touching and thought provoking. Much food was served and lots of water. I got my vegetarian meal first of all. Arrival at 23.00 at Cape Town Airport. No stars on the black velvet sky.