Myrna Robins

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The dates to diarise for the 2019 Giant Book Fair are May 17 – 19. The venue is, as always, the magical village of McGregor, and it’s not too early to book accommodation through the Tourism office if you require this.

From small beginnings, this hugely popular event has blossomed into one of South Africa’s major book sales of used books of every kind, plus new titles that are donated by generous publishers. There are always a few treasures – usually Africana – waiting to be snapped up by keen collectors, and the vast range of non-fiction attracts its own fans: cookbooks and gardening titles, travel and decor publications, self-help books and, of course, a wealth of biographies and autobiographies. There is always a fine collection of novels by popular overseas and local authors to browse through and the organisers keep prices very reasonable to attract buyers to this important annual fund-raiser. 

For those new to this event, it takes place in the village’s large municipal hall, from 10am to 4pm over the three days. Light refreshments are on sale in the hall.

Having done your browsing for the day, why not pay a visit to the beneficiaries at the welcoming sanctuary a few kilometres back on the Robertson road? Find out more about the amazing work the founders Annemarie and Johan van Zijl undertake to rescue and care for abused and elderly donkeys, finding foster homes for others and running an educational programme that see school children visit the sanctuary, and often adopt a donkey for a school year.

Adoptions are a wonderful source of revenue for the sanctuary, and visitors are encouraged to adopt one of the donkeys of their choice and so contribute to his or her welfare.

The sanctuary is also a great place to enjoy lunch, offering affordable, enjoyable fare, which can be accompanied by their own white, red and rosé wines or a handcrafted Saggy Stone beer from the Breede river valley.

If you have books you would like to donate, these, too, will be welcomed with open arms. Email

For more information, email Visit their website at And also log onto an international organisation that spreads information, education and helps co-ordinate donkey projects and programmes across the continent.

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Bigger and better than ever! That’s the promise from the organisers of the 2016 McGregor Book Fair, taking place from Friday to Sunday May 20 - 22 in the village hall in the main road. Join book lovers in diarising the 10th event ( regarded as the biggest single book fair in the Western Cap) and a decade of dedicated service to rescued, retired and destitute donkeys.

This annual sale of new and used books has developed into an important event for book lovers, bibliophiles and is a major fund-raiser for the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary, just outside the village. Africana and special collection volumes get snapped up fast, so collectors should plan their trip to take in the first day.

Current novels and travel, cookery, art, gardening and lifestyle books abound, there’s also biography and a good selection of children’s titles, both new and used, on offer. The fair opens at 10h00 and closes at 17h00 but at 15h00 on the Sunday. A coffee shop makes a venue for a break from browsing and guaranteed to be among the refreshments, is, naturally, carrot cake.

The village tourism office invites book-lovers to make a weekend of it, and explore the serene surroundings of this historic village. Bikers and hikers are among the many visitors that make McGregor their weekend retreat. Contact the Tourism office on 023 625 1954.

The donkeys – around 22 of them – retired, formerly destitute and rescued animals, will benefit from the entire profits of the event. Visit them after you have done your shopping – they enjoy meeting their supporters. There is also a charming rustic restaurant and small souvenir centre at the sanctuary.

For more information on the 2016 McGregor three-day Book Fair, email or telephone 023 525 1593. Visit to read about this impressive organisation.

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It may be a long way off, but already visitors are making plans to head to the enchanting village of McGregor as August comes to a close. From 28 – 30 August the third Poetry Fest will take place, with poets from across the country and from the USA and Holland having scheduled to attend.

Meet and engage with the poets at Temenos Retreat or one of several other congenial village venues. Relish the readings, workshops, musical recitals, open mic sessions and movies.

Bookings through COMPUTICKET or at the Temenos Office (023 625 1871).For more information –email Contact Jennifer Johnson, festival co-ordinator for more information.

023 625 1908 / 084 675 1164 .

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Bookings for the 6th annual Knysna Literary Festival, from 18-22 March only opened early in February and some events are nearly sold out.

A five-day-long literary experience, the KLF offers attendees a diverse programme that includes small-group workshops, larger-group presentations, informal chats with authors and the opportunity to visit some of Knysna’s most exclusive private properties.

Festival manager Sasha Campbell explains, “This year we are thrilled to have South African celebrity cartoonist and author Jonathan Shapiro, famous as Zapiro, join us at the festival and apparently everyone else is, too! His Unplugged appearance - where he will talk about his book “Democrazy” at Ile de Pain on 20 March - sold out in just four hours!”

More events are expected to sell out soon, including the Delicious Word Journey on 21 March where Zapiro will be making another appearance along with Prof Jonathan Jansen, author of “We Need to Talk,” and Braam Malherbe, author of “The Great Trek.”

The Delicious Word Journey takes attendees on a four-course journey to some of Knysna’s most magnificent private homes and gives them the opportunity to chat with authors in a small-group setting while enjoying top South African wine and cuisine.”

The 2015 programme highlights include:

20 March: See Mandela from a New Perspective with Tony Leon, author of “Opposite Mandela,” R100pp

Tony Leon will share his unique insight into an unexposed aspect of the Presidency and leadership of Nelson Mandela, including stories of how South Africa’s first democratic president related to his political opponents.

20 March: Get Inspired with a Creativity Workshop hosted by Graeme Butchart, R100pp

Discover how to renew, refresh or unblock your creative energy, see the same things a new way and acquire tools that tap deep into your intuitive creative resources.

21 March: Mingle with award-winning novelist Jo-Anne Richards, R100pp. Join in on the conversation as Eugene Ashton, Jonathan Ball MD, leads a small group chat with Jo-Anne Richards about her award-winning novel, “The Imagined Child.”

21 March: a Small Group Chat with Shani Krebs, Author of Dragons & Butterflies, R100pp

Hear author and convicted heroin trafficker Shani Krebs tell the fascinating story of his life, from the party scene of Johannesburg to 18 years spent in a Thai prison, and his miraculous recovery.

22 March: Relive the Battle of Spioenkop with Simon Blackburn, R100pp

Labelled as the worst single day for the British of the entire Anglo Boer War, military historian Simon Blackburn will take you back in time to 24 January 1900 - the day of the Battle of Spioenkop.

Tickets can be purchased online at, in-person at the Pam Golding Properties Knysna office at 5 Gray Street in Knysna, or via EFT. Prices vary by event. For more information call 044 382 5574, email, or visit

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