Fairview Homestead | Blog
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When I had been running the B&B for close on 15 years I told myself that it was time to start writing down all these stories about the restoration process, the day to day joys and frustrations of running a guest house and of course all the recipes and tips that I’m forever dishing out. Two of our children regularly contribute – our daughter Nelleke Elston, a chef specializing in food styling, as well as our son Alex Benkenstein who shares a love for the ocean with his dad and oldest brother and has an ease with words that his mom stands in awe of. In the category “My B&B Life” I share the stories of a house and garden, lovingly restored and shared with our guests.


 

(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!

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!"

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.

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...

Does the world really need another pancake recipe, is a good question to ask at this stage... I thought I'd share my story of how I became known as the 'pancake-asaurus' in our family. Yes, that was one of those little family words that we took the liberty of making up based on the amount of fluffy Canadian pancakes I could pack away, leaving my bigger brothers in the dust at age three. As I've mentioned on my blog before, my childhood was filled with vibrant adventures with my family that took us from living in a desert country on the West Coast of Africa to a small village in Canada where my father worked as a doctor. If there's one thing that the Canadians added to our quirky array of culinary favourites it is breakfast pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. To this day when we have family gatherings it usually involves my father (who's specialties include this, and cooking fish to absolute perfection) to don my mother's apron and get his hands dirty