It’s sometimes a blessing not to know what the future has in store for you, and other times you can surely benefit from knowing. The restored Groenhuis (which means ‘green house’) Guesthouse has one downfall – sooner or later you have to go home!
During the restoration (2003) of Die Groenhuis, former school principal Jens Friis must surely have thought that building anew might have been much easier. Restoration takes money, time, art and tons of patience! Having been used more for storage than accommodation for 40 years, there was not even running water or electricity in the building. The end product justifies the effort however.
The original wooden floors, ceilings and windows have been preserved as far as possible, lending an incredible sense of warmth. According to Naómi Friis, “A large amount of furniture is unnecessary”. A family friend from Jagersfontein, Mr. Manie Barkhuizen assisted with the restoration of the windows. The refurbished ceiling is backed by pages out of 1940’s Huisgenoot magazines, which act as insulation.
Friis insists the guesthouse was never intended to be the American White House, and explains that there are sometimes visitor’s cars pulling into the driveway that are “up to eigth times the value of the house itself”! All the amenities and necessities are provided, including innerspring mattresses, crispy-fresh linen, large bathrooms and delicious meals.
Nestled on the edge of the town, it reminds one often of a farm. On surrounding erven are the springbokkies of Mr. George de Vos, the horses of Mr. Johan Lamprechts, the succulent garden of the Funcks, and Café Khooa – where one can take a horse-and-carriage tour. This is all besides the peacocks of the Friis’, the cows of Tiekie Pienaar and a footpath that leads to an old ammunitions storage house.
Olden-day flowers like roses add to the atmosphere and spirit of the place, and a wooden bench is nestled here, from where a view of the Karoo with its koppies can be savoured. The only occasional disturbance is the distant sound when a Cape Town to Johannesburg Boeing flies overhead!
The grass grows lusciously in the garden. The pear and lemon tree are grateful for the rainfall the area receives sporadically. The irrigation reservoir has been stripped of its koi by overzealous feeding by the local stalks. When the rains come in the new year, the lands will be ploughed by the ‘Vaaljapie’ (tractor) from 1956, and there is a possibility of growing mushrooms in the cellar.
As far as testimonials go, the following is a snippet out of the guest book from a visitor from Holland: “Aangenaam verrast! Jij hoort de stilte. Jij siet de schoonheid. En jij voelt de warmte van die mensen. Bedank voor alle goede sorgen. Een aangename pauze tussen de drukte van twee steden. Wat ‘n rust!”
Loosely translated: “Pleasantly surprised! You hear the silence, see the beauty and feel the warmth of the people. Thank you for all your good care. One pleasant pause between the pressures of two cities. What a rest!”