There is no denying that Smithfield’s continuing appeal is its ongoing ability to attract newcomers.
Inevitably there is also an exodus of members of the local community, an example of which is Bets de Bruyn who we have reported as relocating to Natal, but year after year people are drawn to this attractive Platteland town (with its friendly village-like appeal), bringing with them, new ideas, new businesses, new blood.
Among the latest arrivals are Gregg Bauer and Deon Victor, the new owners Bokmakierie Guesthouse, who arrived early in February from Johannesburg to start their new life in Smithfield. Having worked in Johannesburg for most of their lives and both having a dream of moving to a small village in the platteland, they purchased Bokmakierie B&B from Linda and Peter Retief after visiting Smithfield in early August 2015.
Over the National Womens' Day long weekend of 2015, Gregg and Deon drove into Smithfield to spend three nights relaxing at Nick's Place and to "get away from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg". They so enjoyed the spirit of Smithfield over that weekend that when Linda mentioned to Deon that Bokmakierie was on the market, they decided to take a look before returning to Johannesburg - and the rest is history!
Gregg was enjoying a 5 month sabbatical from teaching at St Stithians College in Johannesburg and, with a revitalised sense of energy and a clearer mindset, saw the opportunity of making the move to Smithfield. He had been in education for the past 30 years both in public and private schooling. He held senior management positions in both sectors but for the last 7 years had returned full-time to the classroom where he headed the Geography Department at St Stithians College.
Having been a Facilities Manager at a large international corporate insurance company in Randburg, Deon, found himself in the same head-space (facilities was never his true passion!) and yearned for a quieter life away from the rigours of Eskom's load-shedding, security issues, soft-service demands and the eternal negativity that his position presented.
Gregg and Deon have traveled extensively, both internationally and throughout South Africa. They have visited Europe on many occasions as well as the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. During Gregg's teaching career he has led geography educational tours to mainland China, Singapore and the Great Barrier Reef, the south island of New Zealand as well as South America. Deon loves the bush and finds himself happiest when relaxing in one of the country’s national parks. The West Coast and particularly Paternosteone is one of their favourite places to relax. Despite all their travels their only venture into the Eastern Cape has been Aliwal North; they have every intention of exploring this province especially a visit to Hogsback.
And so the decision was made! Smithfield had found them rather than they having found Smithfield!!!!
Since their arrival they have refurbished the interior of Bokmakierie B&B and converted it into a bespoke guesthouse where they offer evening meals to their guests along with breakfasts. They have also worked extensively in their garden, clearing out beds and opening up the existing 'camps' to provide more flow to the garden area. There are plans afoot to repaint the entire outside of the house and to modernise the 'stoep' areas. Fortunately, Bokmakierie Guesthouse has been blessed with support from both travelling guests as well as the community at large. Gregg and Deon comment freely on the welcoming gestures extended to them since their arrival from so many members of Smithfield.