Days long gone!!!

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Days long gone!!!

As I drove to work this morning a “Volkswagen beetle” of all things triggered my memories from a very long time ago.  As this jade green “volksie” as we called it, drove past me with its loud sound of the exhaust system, I remembered my dads old volkswagen.  We hade a similiar colour  and suddenly I longed for those old days.  We were on ourway to have a family vacation and my father stopped at this gas station.  “Fill up”  dad said and he paid an amount of R20 to fill his tank. I remembered the sound of his “volksie”  coming around the corner to pick us up from school, we had wonderful times.  

One of my mother’s friends Aunt Helen used to give us a 20 cent piece for our school reports.  My brother and sister and me were rewarded with a 20 cent that we could spend as we wished.  To think that a 20 cent was a lot of money for us!  We could buy some toffees, packet of chips and a cooldrink, and have change to spend the rest of the month.  I remember the hubbly bubbly cooldrink in a glass bottle that I used to buy in the afternoons after school.  We had friends that stayed on a farm on the way to Wolmaranstad in the old Westen Transvaal and every second month my father would phone his friend to order a sheep to be prepared for him to collect.  The amount he paid was a full R10 for the meat of one sheep.  My father always commented that it is so expensive, I wonder what he would say today about paying over R1 000 for a sheep.

I remembered my mother doing her monthly shopping at the OK Bazaars.  It was always a time of big excitement doing shopping with mom.  She loaded the trolleys with food and vegetables and some sweet things for us as well.  I could remember those days as if it was yesterday, the amount for the shopping amount to a total of R22. 

Today I told these stories to my daugther and sounded like my grandparents talking about the olden days.  It was wonderful days and it took a small thing like a volkswagen beatle to trigger my memory  this morning.   I do appreciate each and every day that we receive as a gift with the wonderful memories of days that is long gone!

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10 Positive things about South Africa!

Walter and Connie Yacht from Atlanta USA.

We were expecting 2 guests from America to arrive some time around 17h00 pm, as time was passing we were getting worried as we haven’t heard from them and it was getting dark. At around 19h30 they arrived, as we rushed to meet them, we were greeted with high spirits and a flood of words; they got lost on their way to Hartbeespoortdam from the airport as the GPS they got from the car rental company wasn’t working.

“What an adventure we had, we lost our way and we had to stop several times along the road to ask for directions.” So the story unfolded of  how they were helped along the road and how they met some friendly local south africans who helped them on their way to us. 

It was such a relief to just know they were safe!  We as south africans always expect the worst (can anyone blame us?) – but they arrived unscathed!

Interestingly enough,  our guests shared with us how they’d done their research on South Africa and that they could not find one positive thing about South Africa. Everyone the spoke to, every article they read was just negative; they expected to be raped as they exit the airport and to be highjacked before they arrive in Hartbeespoortdam!

After a few days in South Africa they were so suprised to experience the warm hospitality and friendlyness of our country and the local people.

Here are some of the positive things they had experienced:

1.  They got lost in the dark from the airport and all along the road were people assisting them to find their way.  Sometimes they stopped along the road and local people gave them directions, and yes they arrived safely at the Guest House.

2.  They found our MacDonalds of a high standard, much better quality than in America.  Our guest went every morning early to MacDonalds to buy his favourite coffee and even helped the staff to unlock their front door as the ladies struggle to get it opened one morning.  He became one of the first faces to meet them in the morning.  He was so impressed with the service and friendly staff that helped him in the morning. 

3.  We booked them for a dinner at Silver Orange Bistro one evening and ask the owner of the restuarant to look after our guests.  What a suprised they had when the owner Leon went out of his way to serve some of South Africa’s favourite dishes and meats for them, as Leon is also a wine collector, they had some special wines to taste.  They were so impressed with the excellent service they received.

4.  Our American guests were so grateful for the service of a car guard, they could not believe what a positive service this is to motorist.  They were telling us while shopping at the supermarket in Atlanta, someone broke into their car and stole the radio from their car.  I was quite suprised to hear this and they were going on about how useful these car guards would be in America.

5.  We booked them a game drive at Sun City for 11h00 am in the morning and told the tour operator that they are from America and will be driving on their own and that we have assisted them with a GPS to find their way.  Our guests was to be at the departure point at 10h45 and so be it, late.  To their suprise when they have arrived at 11h15 at the departure point the tour guide was still waiting for them, friendly and patiently.  Our guests were greatfull and was looking forward to their experience in the park.  To their suprise the tour operator has decided to give them an extra 1h30 drive , no charge.  When they arrived back the evening at the guest house they could not stop talking about their great experience, service and friendliness they experienced with the tour operator and the tour guides.

6.  They booked a tour at Canopy Tours and off they went for the day,  the staff and tour guides were so friendly and let them feel very important. They were looked after and felt at all times safe and cared for.  Once again the local people were friendly and could not do enough to make our guests feel at home.

7. We had long conversations about South Africa and America and to see the faces of our guests when arriving back from a day exploring, that was rewarding.  What they experience every day was completly different from what the media and internet was telling them.  As they said, they travel 200 days of the year and have visited many countries and in each and every country there is problems, crime and dangers.  But the experience they had was just the oppisite in South Africa.

8.  South African’s made them laugh, as they were driving one day, they passed a small ” motor bakkie” that have loaded a trailor on its cabb.  They just had to take some picture to show people back home, for they have never seen a sight like that.  We laught, as this is common to see overloaded motors on our roads and then you find a sheep or cow or chickens on the roofs aswell.  Just in South Africa!

9. All over there is so much to experience in South Africa, the friendly people, different cultures, good food, our wild life, nature and the wonderfull mountains and beaches is the most beautiful in the world.  Us as South Africans tend to focus on the negative and forget how much our country has to offer.  When experiencing international tourist that completely appreciate our country and see the beauty then you feel proud and honour to be a South African.

As talking to my guest about America and remembering the 9/11 terorist attack, I experience the sadness and true hart of my American guest.  He was overcome with sadness and his eyes filled with tears, as we were remembering that day and I just realise talking to him what the effect were on him as a person and America as a nation.  Up to today I still get tears in my eyes when remembering 9/11.

 I hope that these few positive things our guests from Atlanta experience will have a positive impact on your decision when you want to travel to South Africa. 

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Where has my butcher gone?

I had two types of customer care experiences this last week. I’m still taken back by the attitude of the two different service providers.

In the older days a  good cook will have a good relationship with his/her butcher or grocer or dairy store.  The relationship will be off such a nature, that the service provider will know his customer and will provide the service or the delivery of goods to the customers requirements. 

Last week I was on my way to the  butcher again, as he is the only one in our area where you can order a special cut of meat” Rack of Lamb”.  I had a conference and we planned to serve a rack of lamb for lunch.  With my recipe and picture in hand I explained and showed the recipe to the lady at the butchery and requested a rack of lamb for 7 people.  Firstly they looked if they did not know what I was talking about and then eventually the young man came and offer to do the cut of meat for me because he has seen it before in a cooking book! It was a disaster to say the least, I had to recut the lamb to serve it to the clients.

I went to the butcher for a second time to order some meat for another conference (hoping and silently praying that this time it will be diffirent). This time it was for Lamb Shank, once again  recipe in my hand with picture, I showed the picture to the lady and asked for nicely cut lamb shanks.  She blatently told me she is not prepared to cut the lamb shanks to  my specification even as I was prepared to pay for her extra effort.  I was stunned!
So off I went to Woolworths  were you do not see the butcher to cut you meat, but you have well cutted meat presented perfectly in whatever cut you might need (lamb shanks included).  There is not a human being that you need to explain to but there are gorgeous presentations of well cut red juicy pieces of  meat that is so inviting that I really do not need a human being standing there. 
Even if the meat comes with a extra price, after my numerous experiences I have decided that I will rather buy from Woolworts that trying to support my local butcher again and again.
Even if my motto is to support local , local was not prepared to deliver and supply a service. The idea that you will have a good relationship with your butcher, it is a fairy tale long gone.

Local business owners are always so up in arms whenever big chain companies come and force themselves in their market and take away their customers… What customers, really?

We are living in a vigilant consumer society and consumers know what they want and they are prepared to pay to get it!
We don’t need bad service ’cause once again the big shot retail store has shown that they know where their gold lies and happy customers equals happy returns.

I just wonder where my business would be if I had such a bad attitued towards my customers. 

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Life with power failure!

All night I lied awake and listened to the wind blowing over the water.  Just hoping that the roof tiles from my home will hold out this storm.  Two months ago we had a bad storm in Harties and we experienced damage to our roof, as a result of the wind pumping and ripping off the tiles.
As I wished the bad storm would pass throught the night, I could not help to wonder what awaits me in the morning at the Guest House.   As I got up in the dark, the rain still falling outside, I made my way to the Guest House with high hopes for breakfast and my thoughts with my guests and what wonderful things I will make this morning.
About half way through preparing breakfast THE POWER WENT DOWN.  

My hart stood still for a while and while holding my breath I waited a few seconds to see what is happening, my thoughts were running to the Cape and back, I just felt NOT NOW PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a minute or two I realised that the power isn’t coming back on. I ran to the garage to put on the generator.  In the dark and with a small light I’m trying to put this yellow machine on, that I have no idea to do and with all the stress I clean forgot all the instructions my husband gave me in case of a situation like this!

Eventually I got it started and ran up to the kitchen and started to finish breakfast.  Everything was just finished then it looked as if the power from the municipality was on so I ran down stairs again to switch the generator off.

Just as I put the generator off,  the power from the municipality went off again… In the dark I scrambled again to get the generator started and as I did some sparks came flying out of the generator!
For safety I switched everything off and ran up the stairs to call for help – the one person who can help- my husband.

We continued in the dark with candles in the kitchen, luckily we have a gas installation in the kitchen so the breakfast could be finished. 
We could only smile and have a laugh at ourselves, reading the breakfast request forms at candle light.  When I heard the foot steps of our guests approaching the dining room, I could hardly breathe ’cause still no power. 
As the rain was pouring down, help on the way and nervous smiles we tried our best to serve a 100% breakfast to our guests.  They had breakfast by candle light and all could be served except the toast.

With all this running around and for a second I remembered my grandmother in the kitchen on the farm.  When it was still dark, she would be up baking the most wonderful “Vetkoek “. We’d wake up with the smell of fresh “vetkoek” lingering in the farm house and usually couldn’t wait to get to the kitchen just in time for a warm “vetkoek” for breakfast!

My husband arrived to assist me and got everything started up,  and credit to him for handling the power crisis.  All was served and breakfast was done, still no power but we survived the morning.  I felt if I could run away, but soon realised that this too shall pass – as all crisises in life!

If I look back at this hectic morning with storms, rain and power failures, I could just smile at myself for being so stressed…the rain has passed, the sun is out and the power is on!

So note to self: Just keep calm, cause this too shall pass!


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Thank you means so much!

    Every day we see new people, new faces, new food preferences, new dietary requirements and every day we juggle the menu’s and look for new ideas to accomodate our clients.  We stay up to date with new trends in the food industry and new menu’s and look for recipes that will look good on your plate, may it be fruit, meat or something sweet.

This month we have done so much dinners and lunches that we work like a machine in the kitchen, every staff member doing his/her thing.  The day before each function and meal, myself and Nadine sit together and look for new recipes to dazzel our guests. The most inportant thing for me is “how does it look, is it simple but just mindblowing”?
After a dinner or function the biggest reward is, ” Thank you it was excellend”  from a client.  When you are busy with the preperation of a meal you give everything to make sure that you have a perfect meal, when that meal leaves the kitchen you wait to see the clean plate come back to the kitchen.  To see that clean plate, it is an emotion that is so great and then you know  YES, it was good.

For all my clients that takes the time to thank us for the meals prepared; Thank You! It is so rewarding for our staff and ourselves and to know that the effort put into the food is all worthwile.

So next time you visit a restuarant or a guest house or lodge think about us behind the kitchen door that put everything in to make your meal a memorable one.  Food is our passion.

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hartbeespoort accommodation


In the Christian world, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On the third day after his crucifixion ( which is remembered on Good Friday), the New Testament tells us that Jesus rose from the grave, appeared to his disciples and ultimately ascended to Heaven.  It is this act that is celebrated by Christians every year on Easter Sunday.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the origan of Easter, where then does the Easter Bunny come from?  There is no mention of the Easter Bunny in the Bible, and except for its modern association with Easter the rabbit has not been a Christian symbol. Where then does the tradition come from?

In the ancient world, the rabbit has long been a symbol of fertility.  In Europe prior to the introduction of Christianity the ancient pagans already had their own springtime festivals, as did almost all other ancient peoples. 

The Goddess of fertility in Northen Europe before the coming of the Christians was Eostre.  It is in fact from her that our own word for Easter comes.  The consort of Eostre was none other than a hare, that great animal symbol of fertility.  According to some traditions, Eostre cast the hare into the Heavens, creating the constellation we know today as Lepus the Hare.  Some stories also say that Eostre gave Lepus the ability to lay eggs once a year, eggs also being an ancient symbol of fertility.

As Christianity expanded north from the Mediterranean world where it was born and first grew, it was common for Christians to attempt to incorporate pre-Christian ideas and rituals and place them within the context of Christian ideas and rituals. creating a mix of both Christian and Pagan.

These traditions c0-existed for some time.  When exactly the rabbit first became a major part of the Christian celebration is unknown.  The first written mentions of the Easter Bunny come from Germany in the 15th Century.

Although begun by German immigrants, these practices soon caught on throughout the United States and are now almost universally practiced.  Christians and non-Christians alike look forward to Easter as a celebration of life and family, and the Easter Bunny, that ancient symbol of fertility, is the central figure.  Across the country and around the world children wait eagerly for Easter to find the Basket full of eggs and chocolate left for them the night before by the Easter Bunny.

Published by Allen Butler:  Allen is a freelance writer and tutor.

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There is just something about fireplaces and red wine!!!!


I do love winter time when we can light the fireplaces and feel the warmth of the fire filling the air.  At Stirling Manor Boutique Guest House we have 3 different areas with a fireplaces – each bringing it own unique sense of atmosphere! 

In the dining area we have a hand carved fireplace all the way from the Philippines-  there is just something about have a nice meal, good company and a warm fire burning in the background.
In our Bar area we have an old antique stove, used to make fire in and make a pot of coffee-sometimes we also use it for this purpose but mostly it’s just so guests can huddle around the warmth with a nice glass of cognac or sherry!
If you just feel like lazing in front of the TV, our lounge area is the perfect place! We have a big fireplace here with a real Lama rug that is so so soft!! I personally just adore fireplaces.  When I look into the fire it always seems that there is a story  to be told by the flames.  It creates a feeling of warmth, comfort and even romance.  We have a selection of quality wines and if you are looking for a place to just relax this winter, Stirling Manor is the Place to be…

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“Thee Audrey Rudnick Art Gallery ” in Hartbeespoortdam

“Thee Audrey Rudnick Art Gallery”


Stirling Manor Boutique Guest House has recently opened an art gallery showcasing the artwork of Darren Aiken  famous  sculpture  who is married to Audrey Rudnick internationally renowned artist and painter. 

A various collection of artwork  and sculptures are  displayed and on sale directly to the public. For information and arrangement to visit the gallery contact details are as follows:
Tel: 012 2532532
Cel: 084 5131665

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The Hartbeespoort dam has a new Resident!

It has come to the attention of the residents of Hartbeespoort that we have a new “resident” inhabiting the waters at Caribbean Beach Club.

As reported in the local newspaper, Kormorant, a 1.5m baby crocodile has become a new visitor to the Caribbean Beach Club Golf Course! Nigel, as he is called by residents, is actually very shy and has been spotted numerous times at the first tee.

Caribbean Beach club has contacted conservation specialists to relocated Nigel as soon as possible.

So maybe the myth of a lochness monster in the Hartbeespoort dam is true, maybe they were talking about a Crocodile? 🙂

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A thought about breakfast! 31.3.2011

I can smell something good cooking even if I did not see what is in the oven.  One of my most memorable memories of breakfast after scuba diving is the awesome smell of the homemade carrot muffins.  When we walk up from the beach after a dive to the lodge we could smell the fresly baked muffins in the air and that was what made the breakfast so special.   Tracy was an excellent cook and breakfast was the highlight of the day.

When I started Stirling Manor Boutique guest house, I remembered my fond memories of breakfast time at Tracy’s place. I wanted to create that same special enviroment for my guests, that special feeling over breakfast, that the food is made with passion and love.

Every week and weekend we stand before the stove and oven with passion, putting the menu’s together, planning what we will bake and what we think is special.  We have baked the most beautiful muffins, all sorts and flavours. 
One of my specialities is home made health bread.  I always put in a bit more berries and seeds than what is required and I can promise you the aroma in the kitchen is to die for, like I said I do judge with my nose, and I can say it is so goooooood!!!!.

The last few days I was pondering about the breakfast layout and I just can’t put my finger on it, but it seems as if people are just in such hurry in the mornings that they  just don’t take the time to have a nice breakfast (even when they go away for a weekend), or do some people just not appreciate a good breakfast over a freshly brewed cup of coffee? 

I pride myself to give my guests a wonderful experience with breakfast time and today as I was on my way to the guesthouse, I wondered if I’m wasting my time to make such an effort with the breakfast – do people really want the buffet covered with all the delicious, mouth watering baked goodies and extra delicacies?

Suddenly all the wonderful comments of our guests started popping up in my head, one by one and everyone always rants and raves about our good Breakfast… so you know what, you can be sure that at Stirling Manor we will always take the time to make sure you wake up to the fragrant aroma of a freshly baked “something” even though you are in a hurry and just want your scrambled eggs on toast! 🙂


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Stirling Manor Boutique Guest House

38 Scott Street, Schoemansville, Hartbeespoort, South Africa  | Telephone:  +27 12 253 2532   | Fax: +27 12 253 2060

Copyright © 2009 - 2013 Stirling Manor. All Rights Reserved. E&OE.

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