Fairview Homestead | Philda Benkenstein
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The peppadews growing at Fairview self-seeds and we find ourselves in a constant supply of these deliciously piquant little peppers. The green shaped ones will all turn red at some stage - I quite like the look of a combination of green and red in one jar. I use it in omelets, pasta dishes, in salad and stuffed with creme cheese it makes a lovely snack served with an ice-cold beer. When we lived in Shoal Lake in Canada, I had a Ukranian neighbour (Baba Stech) who taught me a thing or two about pickling, but a word of special thanks have to go to David Elston who got the plants from us, but took the pickling process to the next level. I gladly share my recipe with you:

When our children were still in school they formed a band and, as you know, a band needs to practice. When you grow up in a house that is your home as well as a guest house that proves to be a problem. Our children's solution was to claim a small storeroom below the swimming pool as their little music den. They called it Shanty 21. I asked Alex: 'why 21?' and he answered: ' every abode needs a number...' I suppose when you are 16 years old 21 sounds like a grand number to be. Shanty was kitted out with seating - discarded rickety chairs, logs covered with old carpets, lots of candles and cobwebs for ambiance - the perfect music den. The words 'herein lie the sound of music' were added next to the crude signage of 'Shanty 21'.

We bought Fairview in 1994 and took up the challenge to restore this historic George landmark. People often express their surprise that we had the property listed immediately after we bought it. There is a general misconception that when you buy a heritage property you will not be allowed to alter your home or to add modern conveniences. Heritage properties adapted to modern-day function will ensure that they are preserved for future generations. Tips for living in a listed building:

As a Guest House I joined   www.swopandstay.com  , which is a bartering group for accommodation providers - I love the look of the website and cannot wait to start swopping. Which brings me to the topic of my blogpost - why are we so adverse to bartering? If there is one thing that gets me hot under the collar it is when a prospective guest wants to bargain me down.  In the winter it actually costs me more to run my guest house - the rooms need heaters, electric blankets and the linen have to be tumble dried- so why should I lower my rates in the off-season?  Is it even fair to lower my price and in that way take the business away from another establishment and forcing them to lower their rates to the point where it is actually costing them to fill their rooms? (I'm not exaggerating - I know of one B&B that cut her prices to the point where she was actually subsidizing the guests sleeping over - how crazy is that?)

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Before starting my guest house blog I had planned to start a blog where a few guest house owners could share stories and recipes, but it turned out that I was the only one who ever posted!

Because I blog regularly I changed to a blog-based site, where my blog posts form an integral part of my website content. I have kept the Blogspot blogging going even after the development of my new blog-based guest house website as it attracts a different readership. I am still humbled by the number of people who read my blog posts - my monthly unique visitors are a constant surprise to me.

Our children were all three still in primary school when we moved into Fairview. Within months I received my first paying guest and our children  had to learn a new set of rules: ask before you take fruit out of the fruit bowl, tell me when you finish the juice or milk, no sport equipment lying around,  no loud music, no loud shouting and the one that drove them to distraction -  no telephone calls on my dedicated guest house telephone number! This was prior mobile telephones and even though we had a private number too, their friends would phone on the guest house number and that would not be tolerated as their teenage calls could go on for hours.

Even in the midst of winter we have green lawns and flowers to brighten the garden. It does look less luscious and green with many of the trees dropping their leaves, but there is still beauty to be enjoyed -  the winter bulbs, Arum Lilies,Irises and camellias are out in full bloom. Local photographer, Cathe Pienaar took these lovely photos of our winter garden.