We have just harvested the first beans of the season. I just have to share our daughter's memories of harvesting beans with you:
Long before I knew I would make a career of my passion for food, my childhood summers were marked by warm evenings congregated around the kitchen table, top- and tailing beans. In winter, my brothers and I were asked to squeezed one liter of orange juice per day as part of our daily chores and together with the bean harvest, these were the rhythms that marked the seasons of my childhood. As long as I can remember my father has been a keen vegetable gardener. He fought the odds in the harsh Namibian climate by building an elaborate shaded frame over his vegetable garden; and during one short summer spent in Canada, filled our basement with the sweetest sweet corn and buttery new potatoes. My mother has had to become very creative with my father’s harvests, be it spinach, broad beans or rhubarb there is always more than needed! She’s had to come up with a number of ways to preserve and capture the deliciousness for another day or season and this broad bean and garlic spread is just one of those recipes.
Certainly one of the joys of running a guesthouse is that you never know quite who will walk through the door...
One of my favorite stories is of when I had Robert Redford and Winnie Mandela staying over - well, maybe not quite: I received a call from a gentleman in San Francisco with a voice a smooth as Robert Redford's (I looove Robert Redford...) He told me that he had just e-mailed me a request for accommodation, but that he was phoning to make sure that I would not have a problem with his partner being black. That's where Winnie comes in.
About a year ago my daughter introduced me to the joys of Pinterest. What an amazing way to organize your thoughts, plans and to get inspiration. (For inspiration you may look at my Pinterest board http://www.pinterest.com/phildab/linnekas-laundry-room/ )
And my other favourite: Houz
As a guest house owner, the linen cupboard can be both a frustration and a joy - depending on how the Fairview Homestead linen cupboard users use or abuse it. Now I am not naturally the tidiest person on earth (my husband and daughter are...) I have to work at it. And for that, I need rules that I as well as the staff have to adhere to. We sort, fix or discard every 3 months.
One of the sites we market on, just asked to give the 'house rules' Which had me thinking... In the end this is what I gave them: Fairview Homestead is a 7 bedroom guest house in B&B style - that means we, the owners, live on the premises. Our guest rooms are private, but we have a communal lounge/breakfast area for the guests. The only rules I can think of are : no non-paying guests in the bedrooms for longer than 10 minutes ; no cigarette buds in the garden, no unsupervised children in the swimming pool, be nice to the hosts...
Last Saturday evening we went to bed early as we only had one couple staying - only to be cruelly awoken at 11.45 by the gate bell being rung - repeatedly... As I have a slight hearing impairment the bell is set to ring very loudly and to discourage people from ringing it repeatedly it is also set to ring loudly at the gate. Desmond went down to open the gate as we could see that these people were not taking 'no' for an answer.
To my surprise I could hear that he was actually booking them in - we normally, as a security measure, do not take off-street bookings after hours. It transpired that they had made an online booking earlier and for some reason the text message notification never came through on my mobile phone, so I did not know about their arrival as I never checked my computer between returning from a late afternoon movie, making dinner and retiring early. That they did not think it unacceptable to book in nearly midnight without prior arrangement just added to the chain of events of how things go very wrong when they start going wrong.
In March 2008 we had as guest the granddaughter of one of the Stander daughters. She sent me a poem written by her grand-mother. On weekends the daughters would stroll down to the Kat River and obviously, the young Maria met a young man from the other side of the river whom her parents did not approve of.
Man comes to the front door of a guest house and says he's Mr. Smith, booked in for two nights.
Proprietor: 'Would you like me to carry your bag from the car, sir'.
Guest: 'No, she can walk, but you can bring the luggage.'
Innkeeper: The room is R1000- a night. It's R50- if you make your own bed.
Guest: I'll make my own bed.
Innkeeper: Good. I'll get you some nails and wood.
Paddy is booked into a guest house, and looking round,notices a sign on the wall. He says to the owner: "What time do you get in by?" The owner looks confused and says: "Well, I am the owner, I live here. Why do you ask?"
Says Paddy,"Well, on that sign there, it says guests have to be in before you!"
The owner replies,"No, it says: "Guests must be in before 1 am"!
I once sat in a meeting targeted at accommodation providers and the speaker twice repeated the words: 'We can not allow ourselves to become too precious about our B&B's'. Well, It took all my self-control not to shout: 'if your B&B is not precious to you, you should not have a B&B.' A fellow guest house owner argues that our B&B's are so personal to us that we often take criticism about as well as we would if we were told that we have an ugly or a naughty child.
I have noticed that guest houses will often set the television to a news channel during breakfast.To me that is just one notch above listening to rap while having a meal - who wants to start his day with bad news, and let's face it, 'news' will inevitably be bad news. For seventeen years my background music of choice at the breakfast table has been light classical music, but I also have quite a collection of 'soothing' background CD's. I think one should be careful with vocals and I prefer to play soothing instrumental music if not light classical.