What’s in a name? Place names capture momentous moments and stand as symbols of significance. They also express to the world a sense of place and emotion. In the names of Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House in Franschhoek lie the life and times of real people, doubt, equanimity, joy and conviction.
The romantic French flavour of Franschhoek is captured in its names. These names alone are enough to transport the visitor to a land of lavender and full-bodied Bordeaux: La Cotte, La Motte, La Bri, and Plaisir de Merle to name but a few.
It is all the more surprising, then, to turn a corner and come across an imposing Cape Dutch homestead proudly bearing the Afrikaans name Twyfeling (doubting), and right next door, a rustic cottage that bears the name Oortuiging (conviction). A leafy footpath leads to Vreugde (joy), while a romantic double storey villa Gelatenheid (equanimity) nestles in a private corner of the lush garden.
When Adré, my first wife, died I was very unsure about the future. I named the homestead Twyfeling as it was more in keeping, at that time, with my sense of loss and my feelings of doubt about the future.
Oortuiging (conviction) was named during a happier chapter. When I bought the house next door (without a name at that time), I christened it Oortuiging to indicate my renewed hope for the future.”
The cottage never until then had a name. It was built in 1860 on the commonage used to graze cattle. During the Anglo Boer War,when it was used as a billet for British troops, it was known by the locals as
Rooikamp House, a name which reflected the mood of the times and which was derived from the derisive word for an English soldier Rooinek (redneck) and the Afrikaans slang for a pasturage Koeikamp (cattle camp).
When I remarried Katherine I named the new villa we built together in the garden Gelatenheid. We continued a tradition, hailing from the 18th century, by carving into the gable the intertwined initials of our names (K and A), the year it was built (2000) and the depiction of a cat and a dog.
Vreugde arose from an abandoned outbuilding. Vreugde conjures up images of a zest for life and the luxury of quietude and relaxation. It is a retreat from the madding crowd. A feeling of joy is renewed just by sitting on the sun-drenched veranda, alongside the sweet scented lemon tree and listening to the cooing of the Cape doves or the chirping of the cicadas.
Uitsig (view) built on top of the garage at Twyfeling has lovely views of what is probably the most beautiful wine valley in the world. Every time I walk up the back staircase I stop and gasp. If the world can be so lovely how unhappy should a person be.