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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tasty treats from the sea

Here is a picture of either the luckiest or otherwise the most spoiled cat in Saldanha accepting his favourite food; a mussel. I regularly bring home mussels to eat but I must make sure that there is enough for both of us (Janet doesn't eat them).
I have been complaining of late about how lousy the weather is and how difficult my job becomes and today was another one of those lousy days, it was cold! All day the wind was blowing and the barge was bouncing around, it rained for a bit and the sun refused to shine so I couldn't get warm.
There is a bright side to all of this though; now is the time when all of the little tasty bits start appearing, during the course of the morning I ate about six live fresh white clams, these are absolutely sweet and delicious and once you get used to prising the shell open you get a really tasty morsel. In past years I have been able to collect hundreds of them and I started a small farm operation of my own, growing them in plastic bins for my own use. Hopefully they will start coming through in greater numbers soon, they make a wonderful addition to a pasta dish!
Another favourite that has just started coming through is the giant pink barnacle, I collect them whenever I can and today I collected a few for a snack this evening.
Here you can see that the barnacles are just about as big as the mussel shells, I just steamed the whole lot in a little of Janet's white wine and had a delicious snack with a glass of (my) white wine.
They are sometimes a bit difficult to extract from the shells, the idea is to take hold of the hooks which protrude through the top opening and gently pull them out then you just suck off everything at the back of the hooks, it may sound a little gross but believe me the flavour is out of this world and unlike anything you have ever tasted.

A succulent morsel from the sea but only if you live in Saldanha!

Maybe I should call the blog; Braais, beers and bikes and mussel farming and food! We haven't had any riding time lately and on Saturday we are going to an olive festival in the Riebeek valley but we will be going in the bakkie because we usually buy things, so no motorbike stories this coming weekend.

Don't despair though, we will ride again soon and we will braai again soon - we are still drinking beer!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A New President and a long weekend

So now Jacob Zuma is our new President, let's hope he does a good job. It was a forgone conclusion that he would take over and I am prepared to support him if he is capable, only time will tell.
But on to more important things; We now have a brand new shopping mall! Just outside of Vredenburg, It has many of the major chains; Cape Union Mart, Woolworths and Woolworths food, Game, Checkers as well as major clothing and shoe shops and we went shopping there last Friday after the novelty had worn off.
It was still very busy even though it was before month end but we managed quite nicely, Janet was in her element in Checkers and I do as most husbands do, follow the wife around with the trolley but I have a tactic; if Janet appears the least bit hesitant about going down one of the aisles I manouvre the trolley between her and the aisle and just gently edge her away, I take it as a personal victory if we can skip an aisle or two. Unfortunately most of the time she pushes my trolley out of the way and heads down the aisle happily looking for things to load, and she compares prices!
There are two areas where she will take bloody ages and one of them you can understand, that is the hairdye and skin care product area where she will compare prices, ingredients, fragrances and the list of things that the product guarantees it will do for you, but the other area is eggs!
It can take her ages to choose between 12, 18 or 24 medium, large or jumbo, grain fed or battery and then she has to check that there aren't any broken ones and just when I think she has made a choice she will put it back and take another one! Then she looks at me and says "You shut up!" even though I haven't said a word!
Anyway we managed to get out of there with my sanity intact - just! The thing is that a lot of the places here are now playing Gospel music over their loudspeakers, especially on a Sunday, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Gospel music it's just that it is so tiring and cumbersome, the lyrics are usually putrid, I mean how do you rhyme things like "Kingdom" and "uplift" and "God"?
We've had a good weekend, Friday evening we had a lovely meal at Beira Mar with Frank and with Dennis and Linda who were celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary and even though there was a lengthy power failure Don and Connie were able to provide a lovely meal.
It was another public holiday today; Freedom Day and we celebrated our freedom by going on a motorbike ride, I was hoping to do this even though the weather had been looking pretty lousy but by lunch time the sun was shining. I know that most of the black people will have been out on gatherings and marches to celebrate, but whities don't do the gathering and marching thing, they would rather dop and braai.
We had a bit of a local cruise and then went back down to "Weskusplek" at Jacob's Bay for lunch and I think this is a far better picture of the place than in the earlier post, for obvious reasons! I had a really good seafood platter which consisted of; calamari, line fish, prawns, mussels in a delicious sauce which I think was made with garlic and cheddar cheese and rice. Janet had what she described as a delicious steak and kidney pie in a dish with a pastry over the top, all in all a very good meal, reasonably priced at a picturesque venue - what more could you want?

After lunch I had not finished riding but Janet wanted her afternoon kip so after I had dropped her off I took a good fast ride through to Veldriff and visited with Des, we discussed the next "Polar Bear" run to Sutherland on which he wants to include WAGS, I'm not sure that this will work and I said that they will go on this one but will see what happens in the pub and at the braai that night and will decide that in future it is not for them, we'll see.

My ride home was fantastic! From Veldriff to the Vredenburg turnoff on the R27 is about 20kms and at 200kmh that doesn't take very long, the few cars that there were on the road moved over for me as I flashed past and my bike felt planted and balanced perfectly. I took the Vredenburg road and then turned left onto the road that runs past the "Orex" railway depot, there are a few enjoyable sharp turns on that road and as I had had a beer or two the bike handled them beautifully.

I rode through the back roads and pulled up at the "Drop Anchor" bar where I had another beer with some buddies and then got home in time to make Janet a cup of coffee, what a great long weekend and there's another one next week!

Stay on two wheels!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A vote, a braai and an encounter with an octopus

Wednesday was a public holiday, it was election day, an auspicious occasion indeed and Janet I were in the line by 0750 eager to do our bit. The line wasn't very long and in fact it all went very smoothly, we were done by 0800 and on our way home, by 0815 we were in the bath enjoying a bottle of bubbly and planning our day.
I had a brief work appointment later in the day which actually spoilt our original plan of going to Beira Mar for lunch but second prize was to organise a braai, Rene' phoned to say that he and Bronx would be in the area for a delivery so I invited them as well as Frank and his English visitors; Dennis and Linda to come for lunch.
Sorted. Janet and I started making plans and it soon developed into a really good sounding lunch; marinated chicken wings, fresh mussels in a creamy ginger liqueur sauce and marinated, de-boned leg of lamb with aromat potatoes and salad.Here Frank and Dennis can be seen tucking into the mussel pot after we had eaten all of the chicken wings. We then had a bit of a gap to allow food to settle and make room for the main course and then I started the leg of lamb which I had de-boned earlier and then left to marinate in olive oil, aromat, garlic flakes and mixed herbs.I know this picture makes it look like I could be braaiing the neighbour's bloody noisy little Maltese Poodle, but I assure you it's not! It was a particularly delicious leg of lamb and there was not a scrap left by the end of the afternoon.
Janet made a wonderful creamy aromat potato dish and a lovely salad of tomato, feta and olives to go with the main meal and then warm blueberries in liqueur with ice cream as dessert, truly a meal fit for a king! We love spoiling our friends.

Today on the mussel farm was plain lousy! Winter is definitely on it's way, it poured. Big fat heavy drops of rain pounded us, at least the wind wasn't blowing as well. I had a terrifying encounter with an octopus during the morning, they often come up onto the deck with the mussel ropes and my staff are absolutely terrified of them, work stops as they scramble away from the beast and doesn't resume until I have cleared the deck.

Here you can plainly see that this monster was trying his utmost to drag me into the sea, after an epic battle lasting ........... well, about a minute I was able to free myself from his tenacious grip and get on with the work. Actually there has been an incredible number of octopi the past couple of weeks, far more than I remember in the past, it would be interesting to know why this is, on Tuesday alone I threw 18 of them back into the water! Apart from the octopi there was also this massive crayfish;

What I wouldn't have given for a Provita biscuit right then!
We did get to go for a short ride last Sunday, it was a breakfast run to the local Wimpy at the Engen One Stop, all of 17kms but it was still enjoyable. I intended to go for a bit of a longer cruise after breakfast but the weather started crapping up and it rained most of the day.

Thank you Harry for this lovely photograph! This exactly what I was talking about earlier, can you see the two of us heading off on a breakfast run like this later on?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A prawn braai and winter starts

We had our first taste of winter today, it was miserable out on the farm for the first three hours or so. Just as we were moving the harvesting barge, which is rather a cumbersome and difficult operation in calm weather, a squall blew up out of the north west. Luckily the breakwater gives us shelter from that wind but it was still very difficult to get the barge to the harvesting raft, we managed to get secured and then it started to rain, fat heavy rain drops which made things very unpleasant. For a while we tried to do our work with our backs to the rain but still I had cold water seeping in under my rain suit around my neck.
By about 09h00 the rain clouds had moved over and it started to warm up a bit, I got involved in the work and managed to keep warm and it was actually quite a good morning because we were pretty busy, in spite of the bad weather I had a good day and I have to prepare myself for the winter because there's nothing I can do about it.
We had a very nice braai on Sunday, I decided to do some prawns over the coals so we invited Frank to join us, he was given strict instructions that it was not going to be a late night and that we would be going for a ride the next day. I skewered two prawns onto a sosatie stick for ease of handling and to stop them from dropping through the grid and then rubbed them with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. They didn't take too much time to braai and it wasn't long before we were enjoying a lovely prawn feast, Janet made a wonderful savoury rice and a bit of salad with feta cheese and olives and although it was quite late by the time we ate because I did some tasties earlier on of pork rashers and marinated chicken wings, we had a feast fit for a king!
I think it is going to be a while before we ride again, Saturday I have a lodge meeting and the weather outlook for the weekend is not good. The big red machine is standing in the garage, clean and gleaming and ready for the road, we'll see what happens on Sunday - I am dying to go for a ride!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Weekend

We have just moved peacefully through another Easter weekend in South Africa and the death toll on the roads was considerably less than in previous years, this is great news but why was that? Was it because the mini-bus taxis stayed off the roads? They are the ones who ignore stop signs and red lights, was it because there were less drunk pedestrians crossing the roads? I have been cruising along the N1 outside of Capetown near the Stellenbosch off-ramp and have had to slow down suddenly for a drunk trying to run across the freeway.
Was it because of a new "No tolerance" attitude by the traffic authorties with intensified road blocks? I don't think so because on a trip down to Capetown, and then to Paarl for lunch with a couple of bottles of wine, back to Capetown and then to Saldanha I didn't see one single traffic cop, so what was it? Is it a new attitude adopted by South African motorists after many years of driving with one eye closed so that you can see the white lines converging ahead?
I haven't found out what the answer is yet, it's a mystery but we will investigate and we will keep you informed.
Apparently the new 12 point penalty system is going to be introduced by 2012 - Fuck! This is going to be very difficult for me because I do tend to speed, I am generally a law abiding citizen but speed limits are for ordinary people and I am unable to adhere to them.
Things are going to get boring here, there is talk of electric engines for cars and motorbikes, I'm so glad that by then I will be too old to ride anyway. We love the petrol guzzling, atmosphere polluting internal combustion engine and by the time you see me running around on one of those little electric "old people" carts I will have a plastic orange on the aerial and an "STP" sticker on the back and I will be wearing a "Buffalo rally" tee shirt!
Anyway it will be many years before any of this happens and in the meantime we will carry on making plans to divert attention from our number plates! It is just so different on a motorbike, you cannot expect us to behave the same way as you do in your cars, if you haven't been out on the open road on a bike you don't know what it's like so please don't expect us to behave like you .As a case in point; I'll bet you didn't notice what kind of motorbike this is?!
Speaking about the Easter weekend...........we actually had a good one and I will tell you about it next time, I hope that yours was good as well. Bye for now.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home again

The ride home on Sunday was great, I was not in any huge hurry as it was only a two hour ride so I took my time packing my stuff. I felt as though I had had a pretty good sleep and Frank was also up and about early, shows you the benefits of an early night! The weather was fantastic, there was a bit of low lying fog at first but the sun soon got rid of that.We walked down to the coffee stall after my usual thorough ablutions and stood around chatting to friends, a bunch of guys had partied through the night and one of them passed out on a chair, I don't know where the lance came from but we called him "The Gatekeeper", I just hope they all slept it off befor heading home.
We said our goodbyes, Frank was taking a different route to meet up with the club guys riding down from Vredenburg for the day, my intention was to meet up with Janet and Linda for lunch in Langebaan but first a breakfast was on the cards, I pulled into the shopping centre in Kommetjie to go to the Wimpy and by sheer coincidence Lesley (my sister-in-law) and Mike had just arrived so we had breakfast together.
After that it was the ride home which I thoroughly enjoyed, I pulled into Melkbos to visit with Dave and Nikki and had a cup of coffee there. It was good to see that Dave is on the mend since his bike accident on the Polar Bear run last September, much more mobile now although he has to use a crutch for a while longer.
Janet, Linda and I had a very good lunch at "Friday Island", a nice little restaurant on the beach which we will certainly visit again. A great way to end off a really enjoyable weekend. One thing I have to tell you about though is that I got stopped in a road block and the traffic cop could find nothing wrong with my bike except that my number plate had a small sticker at the bottm which said "The Woods."
"That is illegal!" he said, "You must remove it or you will get a fine."
I showed him that it was sticker and scratched a little bit of it off and he was happy, I was just about to ride off when I noticed that my sticker now said; "The Woo s" - Not good! I stayed there and cleaned it all off.
That was my last rally for a while now, winter's coming so it may just be the occasional breakfast run, but there will still be plenty of riding opportunities.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 2 on the rally

Day two started out like all of the other rallies do, the sun was shining hotly into my tent (is "hotly" a word?) and the bloody bikers were making a hell of a noise. It was 11h00 when I woke up and staggered bladderfully across to the ablution block, which was a hell of a lot further away from my tent than it was at the Buff. Usually you can find a spot behind a bush where you can empty your bladder but you need some better place to brush your teeth. Again the showers were under serious pressure and this guy was having trouble getting in, I was quite happy to just throw some water over my head and get on with it, after my ablutions I walked along rally street and had the first of several cups of coffee to get the day going. I had missed the mass ride which was a shame, but I headed into the town to buy some supplies (more whisky) and I ended up having a lunch as well. Frank had not surfaced so I was on my own but was I worried? After a bit of a ride around I headed back to the rally site and after parking and covering the big red machine I walked back down rally street to see what was going on. I walked around for a bit and people greeted me but there was no friendship going on, (and here I can hear you all saying "Aawwh shame!") so I wandered down to the main tent and I heard a familiar voice shout "hey" and it was my buddy Dick and his attractive lady Janet. You can see that I am looking a bit jaded! We sat and listened to the music and had a few drinks but they had to leave, Dick and Janet rode out of the site on their new ST1300 looking so good, happy people. I watched the "Mr Boep" competition and the "Wet tee shirt" competition, guess which one I prefered! The lady who won could actually flex her bosoms - awesome! Some people are just so talented. There was a lot of entertainment throughout the afternoon and evening, including a very good couple who performed some really enjoyable rock and country music, there was a bit of karaoke which is always good for a laugh. At some time in the late afternoon Frank showed up and I was gradually able to persuade him to have a beer.
We stayed for the lucky draw proceedings during which some lucky bloke won R15,000 in cash and two others won a scooter each, I wouldn't have known what to do with a scooter but the cash would have come in handy!
After that it was time for something to eat, another really good curry and rice. We chatted with people for a while but things were catching up on me and I was feeling really tired, it was about 9.30 when I climbed into my sleeping bag - perchance to sleep? The end of a very good day on a nice rally and the ride home to look forward to.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Slangkop Rally, Kommetjie - April

Friday 3rd April was national cleavage day! What an auspicious day to start off on a motorcycle rally and let me tell you it was a jol! (For foreign readers a "jol" is a bloody good time.)
Frank and I eventually got away from the Engen One stop at 14h00 and the weather was good with a bit of a northerly wind pushing from behind us, we were soon up to speed heading down the R27 towards Capetown. This was to be a bit of a different ride because it would only take us about two hours and half of the trip would be through City traffic.
I soon settled into my ride and was enjoying being back out on the road, it's hard to describe how I was feeling but I was grinning and singing out loud inside my helmet, as much as I could remember of "Born to be wild." We were off on another rally adventure and I was really looking forward to it, Frank and I know how to enjoy ourselves at rallies and we can often show the younger guys how to party.
After a good hours ride I led the way into the dirt parking area of the Bush Pub outside Melkbos, I knew that Frank would be needing a smoke and I would be needing a beer, sure enough both beers went down very well!
As we walked out two young ladies arrived in a land cruiser and you're not going to believe this but they were dressed in bikinis covered by those wrap around "sarong" filmy things, they got out of the car and were dancing to the music from their radio. I sort of stood mesmerised, I didn't take any photos! Frank reminded them that it was cleavage day and thanked them for upholding their part (or parts!) They smiled at us and walked into the bar, I wiped the dribble from my chin and put my helmet on and we moved out - what a start to our rally weekend!
I enjoyed the ride through the City traffic, I have no problem with lane splitting and it wasn't too long before we were winding our way over "Ou Kaapse Weg", the fantastic winding road over the mountain which is unfortunately way too full of vehicular traffic at that time of the day.
The Slangkop lighthouse and rally site has got to be one of the most picturesque rally sites in the country and we soon found ourselves a good spot and set up our camp. Once the tents were set up, the mattress inflated (and I don't keep fainting anymore because now I have a pump!) and the baby covered for the night it was time to get into the rally, to see how cold the beers were and who was there. It didn't take too long before we met up with old rally buddies and the music in the main tent was fantastic rock and roll.
There were many old freinds and we spent a great evening talking and drinking with them, we moved out into rally street for something to eat and one of the stalls had a wonderful curry and rice which went down very well.

The facilities may not be five star and unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, you have to stand around and eat but that was a bloody good curry and rice and I had it a couple of times. As it happened we stayed at this tent and just chatted with all and sundry, my whisky flask which is actually a pesticide dispenser but which dispenses an accurate measure on demand ran out in the late morning;

I didn't think that was supposed to happen but day one on the rally had been an exceptionally good one and it was 08h00 Saturday morning when I crawled wearily but happily into my tent, already the other rally goers were starting to make a noise and I doubted that I would sleep long. Let's see what day two brings!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brain gain

Here's a very cool picture from the mass ride on Saturday morning in Mosselbay.
I read a very interesting article in the latest Bike SA magazine (or Bark Essay depending on your origin.) which I would like to pass on to you;
Nintendo Scientists prove that motorcycles keep you young
Scientists working on a Nintendo program called "brain training" have discovered the means to an extended youth - motorcycles. Apparently motorcycles invigorate the brain thereby keeping people young.
Think about it; when you are riding your bike you have to stay alert and are continually making judgements and decisions. In a car the only thing you have to worry about is not bumping the chap in front of you, and not falling asleep.
The scientists did an experiment where they took a group of middle-aged men who hadn't been riding motorcycles for over a decade. They then split them into two groups. One group was asked to commute by bike for two months while the other group continued to commute by cars and other means.
At the end of the two months the two groups were subjected to tests to check brain cognition and the group that had been riding motorcycles showed up to a fifty percent improvement while the car drivers had deteriorated.
I love this and it just goes to prove what I have known all along; that I have a superior brain and all of you car drivers are a bunch of mini-brains!
Frank and I have been worrying about the weather for the coming weekend trying to decide whether to go to the "Slangkop" rally or not, we have been put off by the terrible ride home we had the last time. (Covered in an earlier post.) The weather site "Windfinder" predicts only a slight chance of a little rain on Saturday, but Janet made my mind up for me when she said;
"Linda is coming for the weekend so you will have the two of us here."
That's it, I'm going!
Anyway what are we, bikers or moefies?!
Stay on two wheels for your brain.