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.


 

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.

We take pride in our unique fruit entrées- sometimes a plated fruit salad, other times a mini portion of Bircher Muesli garnished with apple shards, or a homemade smoothie with carrot, ginger, orange and apple... On the buffet we have an assortment of cereals: homemade muesli, ProNutro, bran flakes, Weetabix as well as yogurt, more fresh fruit and a baked fruit compote, which in season consists of rhubarb or quince from the garden, otherwise stewed prunes, guavas or peaches.

In The Oudtshoorn Courant and Het Suid-Western on Wednesday, September 27, 1978, Brenda Hartdegen reported: GEORGE: A magnificent leather-bound 260-year-old Bible was sold for R535 after brisk bidding at an auction of mostly antique furniture. The Bible was bought by a Cape Town dealer, Mr. H A Lammers, who flew to George especially to attend the sale. And he is confident that he will sell it immediately to one of several Dutch dealers who are out in South Africa from Holland to buy up all the Dutch antiques they can find. Antiques in Holland have become very scarce and the dealers have now turned their attention to South Arica which is still regarded as a rich field for many Dutch antiques.

It is grapefruit time again and when my guest told me how much she enjoyed her grapefruit starter (a take on Bircher Muesli served with grapefruit) I remembered how my daughter loved her grapefruit. As she remembers: ' When I was a little girl my mother would give me half a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar, each segment delicately cut loose for me to eat it more easily. I still remember that bittersweet deliciousness, it's such a fond memory, but thinking about it now I realise it was quite unusual for me to be eating, not to mention enjoying grapefruit at that age! Somewhere along the line, probably when I started doing my own shopping and choosing what to fill my fruit bowl with, grapefruit didn't quite make the cut and many years passed without me giving them much notice.'

I have a few friends who also run B&B's and whenever we get together, you can be sure that within minutes we'll be sharing tips, recipes, a joke or a funny incident. Exactly a year ago my friend Liza encouraged me to write candidly about the joys (and frustrations) of running a guest house, categorized on my blog as "My B&B Life". This week I want to tackle tricky issues around accents and cultural differences. An Afrikaans speaking person will ask for breakfast at 'half sewe' (6h30), someone from England will talk about 'half seven' (7h30) and another person may talk about 'half-past seven' - three different meanings to similar-sounding request, fertile ground for misunderstandings! I'm sure fellow B&B owners will sympathize with my frustration (because it's probably happened to them often!) when a guest who requested breakfast at 6.30 (which requires a wake-up time of 5.30 for the guest house owner) then casually waltzes in at 7.30. The problem is that you've been robbed of an hour of sleep with only yourself to blame as, chances are, you were the one who made the mistake with the half-past six / half six story.

Today I would like to share the following, written by our son Alex: "We headed out from a launch near the Cape Town Waterfront to hunt for snoek, those nasty looking wolves of the sea – to most people the quintessential South African fish. We must have looked rather comic as we chugged out of the launch site, four big guys perched on a tiny, pink rubber duck. After cruising about for a while we spotted a group of boats floating together about two kilometers offshore and we immediately knew they were into the snoek. The adrenalin was pumping, but we had to keep to a pretty moderate speed as the small boat climbed up and down the swells. Eventually, we joined up with the other boats and rushed to get our lines in the water.

I love a good cup of coffee...Remember, we lived in Namibia for 13 years and there we were introduced to a European style cafe culture. Often the coffee there is served with milk enriched with evaporated milk. We could buy imported coffee brands long before our coffee taste buds were developed to the degree that they are today in South Africa. At the breakfast table, I will often have guests express appreciation at the good coffee I serve. We buy our coffee, freshly ground, on a weekly basis from a local roaster. Which also means that I can order coarser ground coffee to go with the plungers that I put out in the rooms and finely ground for my Bialetti pots - my preferred method of serving the coffee at breakfast.