Nearly half of South Africa consists of flat semi-desert which can be both terrifying and alluring. Don Pinnock went exploring the heart of the Nuweveldberg Plateau in search of hazy memories and a sandwich.

Long before dawn I would be coaxed out of bed and shepherded into the back seat of the car, still clutching my pillow. There I’d fall asleep again, with the tassels of the travelling blanket tickling my cheeks.

Hours later I would wake to the hum of the engine and the smell of egg-and-mayonnaise sandwiches. Up ahead the road would stretch out endlessly, while the side-windows offered a featureless blur of brown veld and distant, flat-topped hills. We’d be going somewhere strange and exciting: Cradock, maybe, Graaff-Reinet, Molteno or some farm lost in the vastness of it all. But to get there time seemed to stretch like the rubber band trapping the grease-proof paper round my sandwich. I’d stare out the window at the cloud towers and vast blue sky, unsure whether I was awake or dreaming.

I once asked – I must have been about six – why the road went on for so long. I still…



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