Fairview Homestead | Guest House children
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Guest House children

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.

Apart from the frustrations we also had funny incidents – once my son ran into the breakfast room, changed the Gregorian Chant music that happened to be playing as ‘soothing’ background music and ran off to school with blazer tails dangling in the wind. When he came home I asked him why did he change my music? His answer: “Mom, I walked by, heard that freaky music and thought to myself – these poor people will never get their breakfast down listening to that”.

We did learn that it was absolutely necessary for us to close down over Decembers (our summer holidays) so that the children could enjoy their home and yard without having to share it with outside guests. Now that they are married and we are grandparents it is still just as important to keep Fairview to ourselves for the period from mid-December to 5 January.

I believe that growing up in a guest house taught Eckart, Alex, and Nelleke very important life lessons: to be considerate, mind their manners, be hospitable, not to shy away from house chores, It also opened their minds to the big world out there where people have different accents, speak different languages, come from different cultural backgrounds. All three love traveling, cooking and are excellent hosts.

 

Philda Benkenstein
benkenstein@mweb.co.za

In 1995 we moved from Namibia to a town called George on the Garden Route in South Africa - we found a wonderful property,first registered in 1861. The place was very neglected, but I undertook to start a guest house, so that the house could at least pay for its own upkeep after the restoration, and of course - for Desmond's garden. That is the start of my life as a guest house owner and this is the story of a house and garden,lovingly restored and shared with our guests, with family and friends...

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