The only other reason to cross the Gamtoos would be to visit Port Elizabeth
The recent Expedition Africa was motivation to cross the Gamtoos River for the first time in over two years. The only other reason to cross the Gamtoos would be to visit Port Elizabeth and quite frankly cities were too much part of life for so many years to find any joy other than visiting through necessity.
So having to travel for a very early medical appointment in Port Elizabeth last week saw me crossing the Gamtoos river for a second time in a week. Not wanting to add to the stress of a very early morning drive in the dark (old eyes don’t see too good in the dark) for what was already promising to be a stressful day, staying overnight in Port Elizabeth seemed the only sensible option. Certainly staying with a friend would have been preferred but inconsiderate so the choice was either a hotel or B&B.
Having become a ‘true St Franciscan’ supporting anything St Francis will always be uppermost when making decisions on where to shop, stay or dine so the decision was easy knowing that Cape St Francis Resort has in its stable, a B&B in Newington Road on Richmond Hill, aptly named Newington Place. Having lived in PE way when this area really was in rather bad repair and it was certainly a revelation to see how beautifully these historic, Victorian homes have been so lovingly restored.
In the mid 70’s I purchased a settler cottage (circa 1864) in Ivy Street on the hill when it could only be described as a slum. A few pioneers’ snapped up these little cottages (I paid R8500 for a two bedroom with an outdoor toilet) and so the area was gradually upgraded. Being young and energetic I soon had the cottage restored into a rather quaint little ‘yuppie’ pad and yes it now had an indoor bathroom.
But back to Newington Place! Set on a large (double) stand on the corner of Newington Road and Dickens Street with a huge garden to one side filled with leafy green trees and colourful bushes and certainly a bird paradise. At the rear of the house, well away from the road frontage is a lovely and sunny garden with a sparkling pool, a built in braai and el fresco bar for visitors to enjoy as well as a newly built deck overlooking the garden, a perfect spot to chill out after a long journey or day in the city.
With five bedrooms in the main house, a self-catering cottage and another self-contained unit in the garden, Newington Place is certainly worth considering if you need to stay in the city the night or for a few days. All the rooms have garden views and most of the bedrooms have flat screen TV’s but the common area with its large comfy couch is a far more sociable place to ‘hang out’ and chat with fellow guests or watch TV. Wandering around the passages there are some interesting pictures including what appears to be the original deed of sale. There is no doubt that care has been taken to retain the house’s originality whilst installing modern conveniences.
Richmond Hill has benefitted hugely from the SRA (yes that word that seems to scare a few locals) and no better example of this is Stanley Street which is a short drive or taxi ride from Newington Place. Rather reminiscent of Florida Road in Durban there is a wide choice of places to dine and I chose a nice little pub that was really reasonable with a good draught beer at a very reasonable price.
So if you have an early flight out of or a late flight into PE and don’t want to risk a drive in the dark or for whatever other the reason you may have to stay over in the city, staying over at Newington Place certainly is worth considering. Nothing in Port Elizabeth is said to be more that a 20 minute drive away and Newington Place is certainly even closer to most, particular the hospitals and some great dining choices.