Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The good and the bad

As an addendum to the previous post I want to tell you about two incidents on opposite ends of the "enjoyment spectrum" that occurred, bikers will be able to relate;
I was on my way home on Thursday morning, barrelling along the N2 between Heidelberg and Swellendam, trying to keep within the speed limit and working on the assumption that 140kmh is not too far off. I really believe anyway, that there should be different rules for bikes.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself, the big red machine was purring under me and all was good with my world. The N2 is a nice road, good condition, nice and wide and it undulates and threads its way between the farms, over hills and through valleys when rounding a bend at speed I came up behind about a dozen cars stuck behind two smoke-belching 18 wheelers grinding their way up an incline. The double solid white line proved a boundary to the cars but not to me, they didn't have enough power to take the short gaps but I had plenty and I made use of it, leapfrogging the cars up the hill until I was behind the second of the big rigs.
In the distance I could see the sign indicating a dual lane overtaking area coming up and I flashed past the first of the rigs, as I overtook the second big rig they were entering the double lane and in my rear view mirror I saw the rig at the back pull out to overtake the first one, trapping the line of cars behind as they slowly climbed the hill next to each other (Don't you hate it when these buggers do that?). I had a big grin on my face as I wound it on and blasted away, I didn't see any of those cars again - serves them right for being in cars! I can imagine just how pissed off they were though.

The second incident which was more of an adrenaline surge and which helped to wake me up, occurred as I was approaching the traffic circle just outside of the town of Robertson, local bikers will know what I am talking about.
The circle was clear and I went in, flicked over left and then over right and I was in the circle, suddenly I heard some tires "chirp" next to me, I glanced to my left and saw a big silver mercedes right next to my rear wheel, this idiot cager had just run into the circle from the Bonnievale road and had seen me at the last minute, almost hit me! I gave him a friendly wave and contemplated stopping for a chat but I could see by the way he hung back right through the town that he probably didn't want to talk to me anyway, he learnt his lesson I'm sure but it could have been nasty.
For a four day 1,500km ride that was all I had to worry about, mostly good times.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five days, Saldanha to Plettenberg Bay and back

Well I'm back home after a wonderful 1,500km round trip but man was it hot?! The hottest week we've had and I really felt it. I took my notebook with me but couldn't update on the road because I forgot my login password! Not much of a computer fundi, me!
I was packed and loaded on Saturday evening with pretty much only my toiletries to pack the next morning, Sunday dawned warm and clear and Janet's taxi picked her up at 08h00. I was ready to go shortly thereafter and rode out of town just after 08h30, loose on the land!
It's all pretty much familiar riding and the first two hours to Ceres where I stopped for breakfast, went by in an enjoyable flash. It being Sunday the Tulbagh Valley wasn't clogged with slow moving 18-wheelers as it usually is. On this stretch my odo clicked over to 100,000kms and the big red machine was purring, enjoying the ride as much as I was.
After a satisfying Wimpy breakfast I headed out along the R46 over the "Hottentotskloof" Pass, 83kms to the N1, it was really starting to warm up but as long as I was moving I was alright.
There was virtually no traffic about and I was able to open up a bit although once on the N1 it was down to 130km/h because there are speed gantries for quite a long stretch after Touws Rivier. The N1 is quite a pleasant ride, wide and well maintained and by 12h00 I was pulling into the parking area outside the pub in Maatjiesfontein. The beer was bitterly cold and I chatted with another couple of bikers who had had the same idea as me.
It was too early to stop there so I decided to press on, 156kms to Prince Albert, I had not been there before but the guys I was talking to assured me there was plenty of accommodation in the little town. I hadn't done any long distance riding for quite a while and my saddle muscles clenched up again as I lowered my butt onto the seat, out on the N1 again and cruising, 112kms to the intersection felt like quite a long haul in the midday heat but it wasn't too long before I turned off onto the R407 and what a lovely ride that was!
Typical Karoo riding, I had not been along there before so this was all new to me, 44kms hot and dry with the rugged Swartberg mountains a pale blue "massif" on the horizon, I would be enjoying them the next day but in the meantime man alone with just the blat of my engine to keep me company, it was all that I needed and all too soon I was parked outside the Prince Albert Hotel in the main street of the little village. I had ridden 470kms for the day and I was feeling it.
It turned out to be a very pleasant place to stay and I was glad that I had decided to press on, the accommodation was reasonably priced, a comfortable air-conditioned room and a delicious Karoo lamb shank for dinner. I had a good night's sleep after some time spent in the bar chatting to Jay, one of the friendly managers over a few cold beers.
After a good breakfast the next morning I was ready to roll by 08h00 and from the look of the scenery just outside of the town it was going to be an enjoyable ride;
 this was all new countryside for me and I had plenty of time to explore as I was only due in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday and that was only some 260kms away. There are two routes to take to get to Oudtshoorn; via the Swartberg Pass or via Meiringspoort, the former is quite a bit shorter but is a gravel road pass which was not an option for me so I stuck with the tar road and what a ride that is, Meiringspoort is awesome! I don't often use the word "awesome", in fact I think the last time I used it was when I watched a Dolly Parton music video, Meiringspoort is also deserving of that adjective.
It is about 22kms long, carved through the mountains the road follows the course of the river and in that short space it crosses the river 26 times!
 There are myriad hairpin bends as a result and on many of the crossings there was sand over the road as a result of a recent flood, it is by no means a fast ride but you wouldn't want it to be because there is just so much to see.
I stopped many times just to experience the deafening silence of those canyons and to marvel at the craggy mountains seemingly hanging over the road. I was sorry to ride out of the mountains and eventually into the outskirts of the city of Oudtshoorn where I stopped briefly to buy a new pair of sunglasses, those that I had had been digging  into my head for the past day and a half!
From there I rode the also unfamiliar R328 through the Robinson pass to the N2 at Mosselbay, at the top of the pass I encountered light rain and as I am not a fan of wet hairpin bends I took it really easy on the way down.
It is 56kms to Wilderness where I stayed the night after riding through to Sedgefield for a beer at the "Pili-Pili" bar, I eventually found the place, right on the beach but it was closed for spring-cleaning.
A deliciously fresh cob filet at the "Blue Olive" was my dinner with a bottle of cold Sauvignon Blanc as I watched a replay of South Africa's game against the West Indies with Abie's fantastic record breaking innings. Great stuff!
Breakfast the next day was adequate and I only had a short ride to Plett., some 60kms away, I did some exploring along the coast and also stopped for coffee at the waterfront in Knysna before arriving at my sister's house at about 11h00 where I spent a lovely two nights with my family.
Thursday morning, time to get back on the road and it was getting hotter, I decided to stay on the N2 rather than head inland for as long as I could, the road was much busier, lots of traffic but you don't get held up behind 18-wheelers when you are on a bike! I was loving it.
I stopped for a favourite breakfast just outside of Mosselbay and by then I had made up my mind which way to go, in March last year riding back from the Buffalo rally I had taken the same route; N2 to Swellendam then through Ashton, Robertson and Worcester. Decision made I blasted out onto the highway, I travelled at just above the legal limit, just to stay safely ahead of the traffic and was cautious going through the towns. I did not envy the people in their air conditioned cages as I flashed by, I was having a blast.
Later on the Swellendam/Ashton road I pulled over for a water stop, the temperature was 33 degrees by then and I knew that it was going to get hotter the further inland I went.
I stopped for a bitterly cold draught beer in Worcester where the temperature had climbed to 37 degrees and there wasn't a breath of wind, on the R43 from Worcester to Wolseley I encountered the first of two "Stop/Go's" and as luck would have it I had to stop!
 Ten minutes in the sun can seem like an eternity! My luck was in at the second one and I cruised on through, an hour and a half to Saldanha and as I rode into the influence of our beautiful bay and lagoon the twelve degree drop in temperature was a welcome relief.
It had been a most enjoyable trip in spite of the heat, which at times was seriously oppressive, it was wonderful to spend time with my sister, my niece and nephew and to travel some unfamiliar roads which I am keen to do again. I would not rather have been in my air-conditioned car, I would do it again but in the meantime the big red machine is overdue for a service.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The trip - it's not the destination, it's the ride.

I've got my trip planned, I've packed my stuff and I've studied the map, the big red machine has new Michelins on. I'm leaving tomorrow morning (Sunday) and I'm really psyched up about the ride.
It all came about when Janet told me that she had to go to Durban for a week, I've had a very stressful time at work over the past couple of months so I thought "Why not take a week off and ride somewhere?" An ideal opportunity to visit one of my sisters and one of my lovely nieces in Plettenberg Bay on the famed Garden route.
I'm going to take a slightly longer route getting there and a different one coming back, so far I'm heading up to Ceres and then through to the N1 and up to the historic village of Matjiesfontein where I will probably spend the night. I'm not going to book any accommodation, I'll ride until I'm tired and then find somewhere to stay.
From there the next day I plan to carry on up the N1 to Prince Albert Road, through Prince Albert to the N12, through Oudtshoorn, George and then along the N2 to Plettenberg Bay. I'm going to take my time and explore, planning to arrive in Plett on Tuesday and head back homeward on Thursday morning.
This is coming with me! I'm hoping to write up on the road every evening if I stop in Wifi places, we'll see how that goes but I will definitely be writing it up so stay with me. One thing is for sure, my mobile phone will be off until I want to phone Janet!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day - started off right

Good grief it's 2015! What the hell happened? I'll be 66 this year, I can't believe it. Anyway it has been a great ride and if this year is anywhere near as good as the last one was then bring it on!
In keeping with the theme of this blog I'm going to write about our first braai for the year which took place today, just the two of us here,
I normally like to braai for a few more people but we didn't feel like going anywhere today, work for both of us has been really hectic so a relaxing day at home seemed like the right idea. It turned out to be a good one. I put on one of my braai hats and got busy.
Start the year off the way you want it to continue; the braai, the beer and the bike's parked out front. It was a lovely day today, hot and calm, perfect for a braai and a day at home.
Pork loin chops, potatoes and a good local boerewors, really guys, what could be better?
There's the plate, the potato was delicious, I haven't done them like that before, I saw my friend Rory doing them on the grid and gave it a try - pretty much doing them like that from now on!
I've got a ride planned for a couple of weeks time, I'm going to ride through to Plettenberg Bay to visit one of my sisters, Janet's got to go to Durban on business and I'm due a couple of days off. That's about 650k's from here so it's a good ride along the Garden Route, I'll tell you all about it you can count on that!
All of the very best to all of you for 2015, may the best of the past be the worst of the future, stay safe.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas feeding frenzy, a four day break

The Christmas weekend is almost over, along with the symbiotic feeding frenzy which has left me feeling that I will never, ever feel hungry again, until later in the evening and "something on toast" seems like a good idea!
I must say that it has been a wonderful four day break from the hectic demands of customers wanting mussels for the insatiable South African and international diners pouring in to the restaurants all over the country, a demand that has had me and my relatively small staff working our butts off.
We started the weekend off with Christmas lunch at the "Hoedjiesbaai Hotel" with Linda as our guest, the food was great and it was far easier than slaving away over the hot stove to create a three course meal at home with the resultant cleaning up which I always try to avoid anyway. I stayed with the seafood part of the meal which was abundant, not even bothering with the roast meats of which there were the usual three or four types. Great value for money there, perhaps we'll do it again next year.
The rest of the weekend went by in what seems to have been a blur and a veritable orgy of eating;
That evening, when we shouldn't have been hungry at all, we virtually demolished Linda's home made Pork terrine, it was sensational! Made from Chicken livers, pork mince and pork sausage meat, wrapped in bacon and drenched with Cranberry sauce, on thin slices of toast it went down singing hymns. Late to bed, full of wine and good food, perchance to sleep, perchance to dream. And that was only the first day!
Boxing day was a home cooked meal, but a big meal nevertheless; free-range chicken roasted in a Portuguese peri-peri sauce, roasted vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and gravy and it was delicious.
 In our part of the world it is hot over Christmas so the shady back veranda is a good place to relax while the gas cooker does all of the work.
And there it was, I forgot to mention the stuffing, a lovely meal washed down with a cold glass or several of Sauvignon Blanc. It was a memorable lunch and I have to buy some more of those huge free range chickens when I get the chance.
Although I thought that I would not be hungry again by lunchtime on Saturday we were ready to eat! The local restaurants were crowded and I don't even bother to try any places in Langebaan at this time of the year, it's difficult enough getting into the town let alone any of the restaurants. We headed out to "Juffoeshoogte",  a farm resort far enough out of the three nearest towns to be relatively quiet but with good food. The place was actually quite busy with "spill-over" customers but the service and the food was good, the only negative was the flies, it is a farming area so they tend to be a nuisance and as you gaze around you see everyone waving their hands around in a friendly manner while they eat.
My meal; pork spare ribs over-flowing the plate, chips and vegetables and it was a superb meal, I cleaned the plate!
Janet opted for an old favourite of ours; crumbed pork chops but she was only able to eat one of them, great - I will have a good sandwich for work on Monday! We relaxed over a bottle of wine and headed home replete. That meal, with a bottle of Robertson's Sauvignon Blanc and a generous gratuity came to a measly R295, really where can you get value like that except on the west coast?
I managed one ride out on the big red machine over the weekend, that was more to blow the cobwebs out of the zorstpipe but I enjoyed a circular 50kms or so.
This lovely machine is going to be nine years old next month and has 99,838 kms on the clock, that is an average of just over 11.000kms per year, or just under 1000kms per month. She is still running sweet, has never had an engine problem and those of you who read my stuff will know that the only problem I had was with the differential - what to do; upgrade or keep her forever? The new RT - which I would stay with - is around R200,000 and I would not get much with a trade-in.
Leave me to ponder this a while, in the meantime I hope that Christmas was great, that you had a wonderful weekend and that 2015, which is just around the corner, will bring you everything that you wish for yourselves, get out there and grab it with both hands!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Seafood buffet at Vlakvarkgat, you owe it to yourself.....

I've just told you that we have a lot of restaurants within a short ride of our home, some great, some good and some that are just ok but we are spoiled for choice. Today, Sunday, we decided to head out to "Vlakvarkgat" for lunch again, the "Offal potjie" was calling. It was Janet's suggestion and I was all over it. That place is fast becoming a favourite.
As soon as we arrived we saw that the place was very busy and that, quite frankly was unusual for a Sunday, most of the time there have just been one or two other tables occupied. Surprise number two was that they were having a seafood buffet, this was the reason apparently for the crowd, the owner Eric told us that they were going to be doing this every Sunday from now on but they were happy to do an offal potjie for Janet, his words; "You have to look after your local regulars." Good man, that's how to keep people coming back.
Prawns, calamari tubes, mussels, angel fish, chips and rice - the aromas were absolutely mouth watering and I sat positively drooling while we waited for Janet's food to be served before I dived in, I didn't want to sit chowing in front of her while she waited, Janet was as hungry as I was so we sucked on a Castle lager each while her food was being prepared.
 As soon as Janet's food arrived I was outta there! Back shortly with a dozen prawns to start with and they were delicious, not a single soft or "floury" one amongst them, all firm and crisp and succulent.
There was a plastic bowl on the table for the shells and this was emptied regularly by the attentive staff, they also brought the cold bottle of white wine at the right time, man I was in heaven right then.
 My second plate; fried angel fish fillet, chips, mussels in a creamy garlic sauce and calamari tubes.
 My third plate; fried angel fish fillet, chips, more prawns and more calamari tubes, this time with a spicy peri-peri sauce.
I waited a bit before I went up for my fourth plate, half a dozen more of the excellent prawns, this time with a garlic butter sauce. Man what a meal, I ate about two dozen prawns and they were all absolutely fresh, I haven't had better for years, I was stuffed and all of that for R140! If I could have gone back to the serving table I would have, believe me but we'll definitely be going back there again, probably next Sunday. 
Those of you within riding distance of this place need to join us for lunch next Sunday, see you there!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wind, stolen manhole covers and great food

The west coast has been very windy now for what seems like bloody ages, during November we lost two production days because it was just too windy to take the boat off the mooring, the southerlies have been pumping strong and that makes riding unpleasant too.
It seems to be never-ending, but at least there are some people who are enjoying the windy conditions, apparently Langebaan is crowded with foreign kite-surfers at the moment. This was the scene on the beach outside Pearly's restaurant last Tuesday afternoon when Janet and I sat sharing a bottle of wine on the veranda.
 Our kitchen is being renovated so the place is a mess and we have been eating out, a lot. We are fortunate to have a plethora of great, good and mediocre retaurants within a forty kilometer radius and Tuesday dinner was at A & J's Chinese at the Laguna Mall, delicious prawns in garlic and pepper and sizzling pork ribs with stir fry rice, lovely.
Today, Tuesday, was a public holiday and after a hectic day on the farm yesterday with the southerly pumping and customers clamouring for mussels, 2,25 tons of the stuff, it was wonderful to just stay in bed this morning.
We awoke to a calm day! Sun shining and no wind, can it be? Could we go for a ride? At about 10h30 we got the bike out and saddled up but already the wind was starting to blow again and as we headed out of town it was blowing strong and picking up. Bugger! We rode through Vredenburg and out to "Juffroeshoogte" where we had a beer, Janet suggested that as we were already out on the bike we might as well ride through to Langebaan for lunch and then go home, I had it in my mind to go back to the Oystercatcher so off we went.
By then the wind was stronger, pushing us around but there were a couple of other bikers out and about. I was hungry as we parked out side the restaurant.
I had intended riding a bit further than this but it really wasn't pleasant and this is one of the better restaurants anyway. It is owned by Charles who used to be the chef at Driftwoods so he knows his seafood.
 My excellent starter; deep fried calamari tubes and tentacles, if you've been reading my stuff you may remember that this is what I had the last time and it was just as good again. Janet had garlic butter snails and declared it to be one of the best she'd ever had.
 My main course, seared Norwegian Salmon, was absolutely delicious and as you can see it was served with wasabi and Chinese mayonnaise which as we all know is the best mayo in the world! 
Janet's main, curried chicken and prawns on tagliatelli was huge, in fact we have a meal of leftovers for tonight, and it too was outstanding. A really enjoyable meal of two starters, two mains, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and then two glasses of the same because the contents of the bottle seemed to have evaporated, came to just over R520 with the gratuity, excellent value in my book and we rode home replete and happy.
However this euphoric feeling was dispelled as we rode into Saldanha and saw that some scumbags had stolen up to twelve manhole covers from the side of the road heading into town. Obviously these covers would be too heavy for any one person to lift out of their frames and into a vehicle,
 these gaping steel-framed holes are in the rain channel right next to the road and have created a very dangerous situation. A car running through one of these would be seriously damaged, but a motorcycle hitting one of these would be too horrible to contemplate, a fact which is obviously of no concern to the oxygen thieves who removed them.
I reported this to the municipality immediately we arrived at home, I hope they do something before there is an accident. Anyway, in spite of this and in spite of the wind, a very pleasant day. Back to work tomorrow and still the wind pumps angrily outside my window.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Farewell to an old biker friend

At around midday on Sunday we arrived at the Wielhys Pub in Velddrif, the weekend thus far had been rather hectic with a really good music show with Jo Martin at the Alegria Restaurant in Saint Helena Bay on Friday night, then a trip down to Capetown on Saturday to have lunch with my sister.
On Sunday morning we had been able to lie in for a bit, which I seemed to need, the leisurely morning was good for me to recharge my batteries.
It's not far from my house to the Wielhys pub, via the direct route it is only about 40 kms but we left the house at about 11h00 to do a slightly longer loop, I wanted to test my new eye - which by the way hadn't fared so well at pool on the Friday afternoon! Frank won most of the games we played.
The weather wasn't so great, cloudy and with a gusting wind but I needed to ride. We headed around the bay towards Langebaan and then over the relatively new by-pass and up to the R27, so far so good, I can definitely see better.
We cruised up the R45 for 21 kms and hung a left at Hopefield onto the newly resurfaced road that follows the Berg River into Velddrif, that road is now a very pleasant ride and although you can't see the river from the road you can feel its influence as the temperature drops about half way along.
Sometimes it's nice just to tootle along looking at the scenery, we certainly weren't in any hurry and we pulled up outside the pub just before 12h00, the first bike to park but not for long.
The pub has just been taken over by the ex- President of the Clique in Capetown, he has moved to Velddrif and is starting a west coast chapter who will use the pub as there Clubhouse. So you know that the Wielhys is a biker friendly pub, prices are good and they have a small kitchen for burgers etc., it's worth a visit when you ride this way.
It wasn't long before the bikers arrived, Frank and Div and the others crowded into the benches outside the back and got the braai fires going, it was turning into a festive afternoon.
The reason for the gathering was to wish Oom Hans well in his new endeavours, he has been a regular west coast biker for many years, a member of the Christian Motorcycle Association who has attended all of the local events and many rallies and who was moving later in the week with his wife, who is in poor health, to the North East.
Go well Oom Hans, may you keep riding and may your lovely wife benefit from the re-location.
It looked like the afternoon was developing into another biker jol, more friends were arriving but it was time for us to move on. I'm back on my bike and loving it!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The toy run without me

Sunday morning the weather was beautiful, partly cloudy with a light breeze, perfect for riding but it did get pretty hot in the early afternoon. I was not allowed to ride my motorbike so I got into my bakkie and headed over to the Engen One-Stop to see who was there.
Just as a matter of interest the eye op was a great success, I can now see perfectly with my left eye which before was hazy due to the cataract, in fact I am like a kid with a new present I am so amazed at how clear my vision is. Where I thought that my right eye was good and was doing all of the work for the almost blind left eye, the right eye is now blurry and I realise that I have been going around quite happily in a state of near blindness! I am looking forward now to having the right eye done as well even though already I can again see the fine golden hair on a young ladie's inner thigh.
I arrived at 07h45 and there was already quite a large crowd in the parking area with more arriving all the time and the almost constant roar of bikers heading past on their way to Capetown, the west coast was going to be well represented.
That looks like a new Yamaha Super Tenere' in front, very nice.
There was a large contingent of the newly formed west coast chapter of the Mohicans in attendance.
Kick-stands up at 08h00 and the group headed out onto the R27. Div and Caro.
'cois and Linicia.
Heinie and Gerda on their Triumph.
Wessel's lovely, recently re-sprayed Honda with music blaring, heading out.
Big Anton and his good lady.
I watched them all leave and listened to the rapidly diminishing roar of the bikes blasting southward and suddenly it was quiet. I walked disconsolately back to my bakkie and headed home, ride safe.
I haven't spoken to any of them yet but from social media reports it was another successful charity event and I'm definitely going next year.