Eve was best known for her book Plains of Camdeboo, a story about her (and my) family the Palmers, who have been living on our Karoo farm, Cranemere, since 1880. This is where I’ve been spending the majority of my time on The Roadtrip as the farm now belongs to my parents, Alex and Marianne Palmer.
Few people are familiar with Eve’s Return to Camdeboo written 24 years after Plains. It’s a story about Karoo food – and anybody who loves food will love Return to Camdeboo. It’s a book about farm food, its history and associations – and the triumphs and hardships that go with it (and a few recipes thrown in for good measure). Then there are the letters written by my grandmother Sita Palmer to Eve, when Eve was living in Pretoria and Sita on Cranemere. In the foreword Eve writes, ‘When I first reread Sita’s letters, it struck me how almost everything, all the diverse happenings on the farm, were related in some way to food. Food is governed by weather, and weather is a constant theme in the letters.’
If you’re in the Karoo or making your way back to Cape Town from the Grahamstown festival I can recommend a stopover in Cradock for the writers festival. It may seem a strange place for a festival, but the Great Karoo breeds great writers – Guy Butler, Olive Schreiner, Athol Fugard, Ernst van Heerden, Eve Palmer, Iris Vaughan and even Walter Batiss (best known as an artist) is a published writer.
Karoo Writers Festival, Cradock, Eastern Cape 8-10 July 2011. For more information, call Lisa Kerr on 048 881 1650.