Fairview Homestead | My Guest House Life
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It is countdown to the annual Garden Route Open Garden Festival this Saturday and Sunday. Desmond is gardening before work and I hardly get greeted before he is off into the garden again after work (he jokes that he actually goes to rest in his air conditioned medical practice during the day as the real work starts when he gets home!)All the hard work shows – our garden is looking spectacular. I am excited about a little collaboration with Of the Earth Catering  –  delicious French pastries and healthy lunches will be served at Fairview Historic Homestead’s Pop-up Tea Garden.

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Our garden is graced by big trees – most were here when we bought the property 20 years ago, some were lost in storms over the years and some were planted by Desmond from small cuttings and now stand proudly and tall. Desmond’s father was a forester and their 6 Benkenstein boys grew up on Forestry stations and learning about trees and forests from their dad.

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(Guest Blogger is our son Alex Benkenstein)

This past December when I returned to my family’s home in George I had an overwhelming urge to take on a project. I’m all for lounging at the pool, trips to the beach, boozy lunches, extended dinners and afternoon naps, but this holiday season I wanted to produce something tangible, some kind of material proof that my holiday had consisted of more than an extended hedonistic haze. In a moment of inspiration it came to me: an owl house!

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When we lived in Namibia (1982 to 1995) no visit to the capital city of Windhoek was complete without a visit to  Weylandts.* As newlyweds, Desmond and I could only drool over the beautiful furniture and occasionally buy a small item. As we set up our first home in 1982 we bought second-hand furniture – often lovely (in those days unappreciated)  antique pieces. To my delight, I found that Weylandts had opened a store in Durbanville in 1999. The fact that our house had all the furniture it needed could not prevent me from browsing once more. And yes, there is a store less than 50km from Fairview – in Knysna. (Weylandts have about 6 stores throughout the country and have just opened the first store in Australia too.)

This year we are enlarging our Self Catering Annex to a two bedroom apartment with kitchen, laundry and lounge. And guess what? Yes, I am combining a few blond wood antiques with contemporary furniture from Weylandts to furnish it!

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….for the bedroom or the lounge?

 

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our daughter Nelleke having a bit of fun in the Weylandts Sea Point store

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Luella and her Oupa chose two cane deck chairs – hulle slaap lekker!

 

*It’s probably worth mentioning that this is not a solicited review of Weylandts and I didn’t get any payment or discount in return for raving about their store – I just really like their furniture!

I sometimes have to remind myself that I cannot please all people all the time. Recently I made the mistake of upgrading guests who had booked one of our Standard rooms to a room which I consider a Superior room. The Standard room of their choice faces west and currently looks down onto a hub of activity  because of the renovation to our Annex ( which is thankfully on schedule and should be finished in less than 2 weeks.) So I thought I was doing them a favour by giving them a free upgrade to our Room 1 which faces towards the garden. Apparently, the guest walked into the room and exclaimed in disbelief that surely this could not be considered a luxury room.

Which has me confused. The guest who stayed in Room 1 the night before them wrote in our guest book: “thank you for a wonderful stay – incredible attention to detail”. The last TripAdvisor review was from a guest who stayed in Room 1 and reads: “My husband and I stayed at Philda and Desmond Benkenstein’s wonderful B&B for three nights. What a find! Breakfasts were outstanding, room more than comfortable and the hosting fantastic! There was an equal measure of privacy and the excellent company which made us feel very much at home. Desmond’s garden has been lovingly cared for and attracts a variety of bird-life. The attention to detail in the house is meticulous: I loved the silver coffee pots, decorative antique books, and modern bathroom; my husband enjoyed attention from Juno the dog. We can’t recommend this establishment enough … and look forward to another visit in the not-too-distant future!”

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At Fairview the food is home-made and often home-grown, sourced from our own garden and we keep our own chickens for the freshest of eggs.  In recognition of our responsibility to the environment we also use ‘green’ products for housekeeping, laundry and cleaning. Desmond has a ‘wormery’ and three compost heaps. And Juno does her best to keep us in supply of dog poo to throw down  the mole holes as a way of trying to convince them to move to the neighbors for less smelly passageways.

Our garden is definitely our biggest attraction and we can  set up visits to other local private gardens.

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Knitting is the new yoga, but actually, the inspirational topic for this blog post is an issue with toilet seats…

I doubt there is anyone out there who is not yet aware that I can now claim the title GRANDMOTHER. It is with the greatest of self-discipline that I do not insist that every guest looks at photos on my mobile phone before they are allowed to enjoy breakfast. I became a champion knitter overnight – shortly after Luella’s birth I woke up with tennis elbow pain and suddenly realised: I just finished my 6th jersey for 2-month-old Luella – no wonder!!

But back to toilets…

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Apart from the last ten days of sudden summer weather we are really aware of a change of season in George. We quite enjoy the early morning and evening chill in the air.

Both Philda and I make a point of driving down Third Street to enjoy the Autumn show of browning leaves presented us  by the lane of Liquid Amber trees.

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I recently found the old Garden And Home Magazine (October 1998) with the article of our house – talk about a blast from the past:

Romancing an era – a long-neglected historic George House gets a make-over…

Because it was partly hidden behind high boundary walls, the true beauty of Fairview only became obvious once I drove through the new gates. Then the regal proportions and straight-lined design of the double storey dwelling, circa 1861, could be properly viewed.

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