Unpretentious charm
Home South Africa|July 2021
From newbies to locals within a few short years – a platteland couple share their story…
Elna van der Merwe

WHO LIVES HERE?

Suzette and Piet du Plessis

WHERE Nieu-Bethesda

SIZE 328m2

I think we should get out of this place as soon as possible, ”said Piet du Plessis to his wife when they drove along the dirt road through Nieu-Bethesda for the first time. Suzette, on the other hand, was thinking to herself: I could live here. “As we came down the pass, I just knew. Don’t ask me how. I had stars in my eyes when we drove through the town. Piet thought the place was too quiet, and he never wanted to take a drive here, even when we lived in Cradock at one stage. But when we bought a four-wheel-drive vehicle, I was able to persuade him.”

A year later, in 2007, the Pretoria couple bought a holiday home in this Karoo village nestled at the foot of the Sneeuberg mountains, the source of the Sundays River. For the next three years, they’d escape to Nieu-Bethesda whenever they got the chance and when Piet retired in 2010, it was he who suggested that they move there permanently. These days, they’re no longer considered newbies; they’re regarded as locals. “I think that after 10 years it’s safe to say you can start making your presence felt,” says Suzette with a chuckle.

The previous owner of the house had already made renovations, but the couple soon realised there wouldn’t be enough space for their growing family of three children with their spouses and three grandchildren. “Our kids and grandkids are more than happy to drive all the way here. Our oldest grandchild is already a teenager and we were wondering when he would start getting tired of visiting Ouma and Oupa in this small town. But he still enjoys it and he loves riding his bike in the streets,” says Suzette.

It was time to renovate – but also stay true to the simplicity of the house and its surroundings. It was precisely the home’s lack of pretension that appealed to Suzette.

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