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.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Forgive me for I have not done much riding lately, the weather has been so crappy (is that a word?) and I noticed, when I did get the big red machine out of the garage for a short ride to the Phoenix, that the battery was dragging a bit when I started the engine. Damn! I must get one of those "Battery optimisers" fitted.
On a more positive note I did manage to do well in the FA Cup pool competition on Friday, I managed to stay ahead of Frank 8 - 4 and then when Don came looking for a game I played him to a 1 - 1 draw before he had to leave so it's not all bad.
Seeing as how I have not got much to write about I am posting some "motivationals" for you all to have a look at, I love these things and will keep looking for more of them.
And my favourite one of all of the motivationals;
Stay focussed guys and stay lucky. One month to go before the Polar Bear run, Dick is coming up to stay over with us on the Friday night because it is an early start on Saturday, right in the middle of winter! I just hope that the whisky bottle stays in the cupboard!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Japanese tow truck

Well Bafana Bafana are out of the World Cup but as the local newspaper headlines read the next day "Out but not Down!" The boys did us proud and it was a hell of a game! We scored the first goal again and it could have been three goals in the first half, the party at the "Captain's Cabin" was extremely festive and very noisy but I'm afraid that's it - I think that I have watched my last game of soccer. Don't get me wrong though, I will still wear my yellow tee shirt with pride and I am fully behind South Africa hosting our overseas visitors and the rest of the soccer but I've seen enough.
We do, however, want to take part in the fan walk in Capetown before the games are over. We were hoping to have a look this weekend but there is no midday game, apparently the fan mile is very festive and we want to be able to say "We were there!" It all ends on July 11 so it would have to be next weekend, we'll see what we can do.
Back to matters biking and here's something that I found very interesting; my brother in law Miles sent me this item about the Japanese traffic Police and their towing vehicle;
It looks like a seriously cumbersome arrangement and from this angle and at first sight you would have no idea what it was for. There must be some serious wind drag, much like having a big, fat pillion passenger.
Seriously modified Honda 1800 Goldwings, look at the stand arrangements, that must be because they are seriously heavy and would be extremely difficult to pull up onto a centre stand. Also I am sure the rider has to be able to stand on the footrest and step over the saddle, there is not enough space to swing a leg over.
Now they start to unfold the equipment and you would still be excused for wondering what the hell this is all about! The hydraulic pump and piping must have taken some serious work, very ingenious.
Now you see what the bike is used for, a towing vehicle! Sure there is enough grunt in that 1800cc engine to pull a car along but I'm not sure that I would like to ride it like that, damn clever though.
I'm meeting Frank at the Phoenix bar for a couple of games of pool (and a couple of beers) tomorrow afternoon and we have a quiet weekend planned but I'm sure we will get the big red machine out of the garage on Saturday. I need to blow the spider webs out of the exhaust pipe!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Snoek braai

Last Wednesday was a public holiday; "Youth Day" and it was really great to have a break in the middle of the week so we decided to make ourselves "youthful", Dick and Janet wanted to come up to visit us for the day and we invited Frank around as well. I had been given a lovely big, fresh Snoek so we decided to entertain our friends with a bit of a seafood meal.
Seeing as how there was to be four of us who enjoyed seafood I brought thirty oysters and a couple of kilos of fresh mussels for starters.
This was not really so good for (my) Janet as she doesn't eat mussels or oysters but she had a snack of fresh ciabatta bread while we gorged ourselves.
Here I am with Dick in our Bafana Bafana tee shirts about to start on the oysters, Man they were delicious! We were supporting our team who were playing later that day.
After that it was time for the Snoek, as you can see with the head and tail cut off it was still a pretty big fish! Whilst I was braaiing it I basted it with a sweet sauce;
- approximately 50g butter
- half a cup of lemon juice
- one teaspoon crushed garlic
- half a cup of smooth apricot jam
- generous sprinkle of mixed herbs
Heat the pot over the fire and stir whilst it boils, mix well until it reduces to a thick, sticky baste.
Brush the fish liberally on both sides whilst braaiing over hot coals, turn frequently so that it does not burn and do not overcook, break a piece open to check that it is white right through and remove it immediately. Janet made a lovely creamy potato dish and we served it with peas and fresh ciabatta bread, a lovely seafood meal and there was plenty of fish left over which I later flecked and de-boned and froze to make a "Smoorvis" pot at some later date.
I will give you the recipe for Smoorvis later, it is a delicious mix of fried onions, potatoes and fish served over rice, a west coast favourite as is the Snoek braai.
This was my plate of food, I always go last and if no one else takes it I go for the belly portion of the Snoek which in winter is always lovely and fat - much like my own actually!
We were lucky to have a break in the weather for the braai, it had been raining right up until an hour before and I was beginning to think that I would have to braai under an umbrella, which I have had to do before, but it cleared nicely and we had a very pleasant afternoon.
For me there is not much that can beat a good fish braai, we do quite a lot if I can talk Janet into it - it's time for another seafood day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Go South Africa!!!!

How's this for a soccer fan? There are plenty of cars driving around with one or two flags and the "mirror socks", covers for the wing mirrors made of the country's flag, but I have never seen anyone go to quite this length! I bought a couple of flags for my bakkie but while it was being serviced they were stolen - go figure!
The atmosphere around the World Cup here at the moment is fantastic and apparently the sales of "Patriotic" gear such as Bafana Bafana tee shirts, caps, flags and the infamous vuvuzela has been incredible with stores reporting record figures. You can certainly see literally hundreds of people wearing the yellow tee shirts, especially on the days that our team has been playing.
Detractors of the world cup have been saying that it should never have come here, that far too much has been spent on stadia and infrastructure that could rather have been spent on housing for the poor, hospitals and schools etc and maybe they have a point, but one thing is for certain; it has done more for racial unity than anything since our beloved Nelson Mandela appeared on the rugby field wearing Francois Pienaar's jersey after that famous World Cup win.
It actually started before the soccer, it started with the Super 14 rugby final which was played at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg - thousands of white Bulls and Stormers rugby fans going into Soweto, which is normally the home of soccer, and being received with smiles and open arms. Their reaction, according to the newspapers was very positive and many were apparently very pleasantly surprised after being a little apprehensive.
We need more of this and even if the country is not going to make much money out of the soccer world cup there are definitely going to be other less tangible but more important benefits.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bafana Bafana!!!

Well friends I am hugely proud of my country right now, we scored the first goal in the World Cup and we drew with Mexico in what was a very exciting game of football. I must clarify here that I am not a soccer fan and last Friday's game was the first game of soccer that Janet and I have ever watched, I don't think that I will watch many more either but we are now, as I write this, waiting for the start of Bafana Bafana's second game so we will see what happens.
We watched the last game at the "Captain's Cabin" in Saldanha and there was a very good vibe going on, lots of yellow tee shirts, some vuvuzelas and plenty of happy Bafana Bafana supporters, I didn't notice any Mexicans but maybe they were keeping a low profile!

There has been a lot of controversy over the "Vuvuzela", a noisy instrument of torture to overseas visitors and journalists but I love it, it is African and it is Africa. You have to understand that to the black Africans soccer is much more than just a game, it is almost like a religion and they are incredibly passionate about it and apparently the vuvuzela came from one of the churches where it was blown on religious occasions to chase the devil away. This may yet prove to be a benefit to us in that visiting teams are getting so pissed off by the noise that they cannot concentrate and our team will win!

Here you see me and Dick with our team shirts on, actually we were eating oysters this afternoon but we are looking forward to tonight's game against Uruguay - can we do it? The game starts shortly and South Africans all over the country and the world will be behind the team. GO BAFANA BAFANA!!! We'll talk later, after the game.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World's shortest breakfast run?

Just to show you how dedicated us South African bikers are, (or how crazy?) I will tell you the story of Dick and Janet's recent breakfast run; It was a cold and miserable weekend, the wind was blowing a gale and the dark wet clouds were hanging low over Hout Bay putting a severe dampener on Dick's plans for a breakfast run, something he had been looking forward to for a while so he decided "To hell with it, we're going on a run!"
He got his brand new BMW R1200RT out of the yard and they got ready. This was to be a 123m breakfast run and that's not 123 miles, that is 123 metres! You can see the breakfast venue at the end of the road!
That's one fine looking motorbike! It obviously didn't take them long to get to the breakfast venue;
The Cafe' Bristot in Hout Bay.

You can see that the weather is pretty miserable, full points for going all that way on the bike rather than taking the cage out and let me tell you, the "cage" is a BMW M3 so that could also have been pretty tempting.It does look like a pretty good breakfast although to keep up the image there should have been a couple of beers on the table rather than that big pink milkshake Janet!
That's a biker for you, when you get the urge to ride bad weather is not going to stop you and you ride! Just look for the closest breakfast venue! We have done some pretty short breakfast runs but I must admit that this one is the shortest run I have ever heard of, can anyone beat that? Let me know.
It was probably that same weekend that I decided to bring some of my product home for a snack, another advantage of working on a mussel farm; freshly steamed mussels and a glass of dry white wine but I can't get away with eating them on my own!
Gotta share them with FatCat.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wacky wine festival

We are very fortunate in that we live on the fringes of what is arguably one of the best wine producing areas in the world; the western Cape and this past weekend we went into that area and submerged ourselves in the wine culture, we attended the Wacky wine festival in the Robertson Valley.
We first attended this festival in 2008 and had a spectacular time, so much so that we wanted to return last year but could not find accommodation anywhere in the area. This year we were lucky enough to be able to hire a bachelor flat from a resident of the town and we set off from Saldanha at about 16h00.
I am reluctant to drive anywhere but I would be buying wine so we had to use four wheels, it took us two and a half hours to get there and the last half an hour was like city rush hour with the amount of people driving into the area! We arrived at 19h00 and after meeting our host and getting settled we went back into the town for a bit of action, of which there was plenty!
We spent a pleasant hour or so checking out the local attractions before settling down at "Soprano's" restaurant and piano bar for a couple of beers and a burger.
By the time we returned to our flat that evening I had noticed a disturbing fact: the area and almost all of the pubs and restaurants were full of students! Because of the upcoming World Cup soccer competition all of the schools and universities have been put on early holiday and so the students have nothing to do, they have invaded all of our functions and I was a worried man as I settled into the rather too small bed that evening.
I was feeling a bit better the next morning, and after the first breakfast beer I was actually quite jovial and optimistic. After a good breakfast we headed out to visit some wine farms, we decided that we would visit one or two of the favourites and then head off the beaten track to avoid the crowds, this was to prove a wise decision.
Our first visit was to "Major's Hill" estate and here's an old biker scum beer drinker trying to pretend he knows what wine is all about! We had enjoyed the place so much on the first occasion and it was just as good this time. Because it was only about 10h00 there were not too many people around and the staff were very attentive, they brought us a platter of home made bread and a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dip and then the wine list for tasting. I ended up buying six bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and six bottles of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon before we headed off for the next farm.
Springfield is a beautifully picturesque estate with lush green lawns sloping down to a dam over which the balcony extends, we stood on the edge of the dam drinking a delightfully fruity, dry Sauvignon Blanc while listening to a really entertaining blues combo, it was just too perfect!
The crowds were still gathering and we decided to avoid "Bon Courage" because by the time we arrived the cars were already parked nearly half a kilometre around the place, I did not fancy a long walk and a seething mob so we pressed on. Next was Rietvallei where we bought a couple of bottles of really good muscadel and then we went off the beaten track, along a rutted and corrugated dirt road to visit places with romantic names like "Kanon Kop", "Fraai Uitzicht", "Rosendal" and "Rusticus".
Kanonkop was lovely, with a wooden balcony open to the view of the rugged hill from whence the name was derived and there we sampled a few wines and I bought some more wonderful bottles
of Merlot for my collection.
As we left a mini bus drove in, it was full of students and one of them had a "Vuvuzela" which he was blowing enthusiastically through the window, I was relieved that we had left when we did!
We continued along the dirt road and found ourselves at "Fraai uitzicht", an understated place which at first we thought was not involved in the festival as there were not many people there at all, luckily we went in because it was to prove a highlight of our day!
The owner of the estate took us into his cellar and insisted that we drink some of his 2004 Merlot which was sublime, I bought a bottle at nearly R100 because it was so good and there were very few left. This will not be opened at a braai when my biker friends are around!
It was here that we discovered, and decided to partake in, the "Connoisseur tasting" and it turned out to be the highlight of our weekend, it consisted of;
Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blanc 2001 accompanied with grilled sushi rice with smoked salmon and a tomato and squid salad.
Springfield Estate Methode Ancienne Chardonnay 2006 with pear and leek soup, croutes with goats cheese and tomatoes.
De Wetshof Estate Chardonnay Bateleur 1998 accompanied by Vanilla prawn and marinated pork fillet with spicy mayonnaise.Each wine was partnered with a food taste that would first enhance its flavour and then one that would challenge its flavour, here you see the vanilla prawn and the bite of marinated pork fillet in spicy mayonnaise. I have never been a fan of Chardonnay but those were fantastic!
Then it was over to the reds; Fraai Uitzicht 1798 Merlot 2003 and marinated olives with rosemary and fennel and beef carpachio with lemon dressing, the olives and the merlot were unbelievable!
Zandvliet Estate French Oak Matured Kalkveld Shiraz 2002 was then the accompaniment to chicken fillet and bay leaf wrapped in pancetta on lentil salad and lamb cubes in a home made Middle East curry mix!
We ended off that excellent repast with an unbelievably delicious, sweet Weltevrede Estate Ovation Rhine Riesling 1999 and Portuguese custard tarts.
At R310 per person it was not cheap, but then neither was it expensive for the absolutely amazing palate teasing and awakening experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it, and if we go to the wine festival again next year we will be back for the Connoisseur tasting at Fraai Uitzicht.I enjoyed the "Rusticus" Estate's dry "Viogneur" wine but I must admit that I went in there only because I enjoyed the name of the place so much, it is a name that invokes the Medievil times as in; "Hail and Good Morrow brother Rusticus!" probably said with gusto by Count Baldric - whatever!
We were both on a good mellow by then and we decided to head back to the town, Janet wanted a sleep and I decided that I wanted to watch the rugby. The pubs were so full that instead I ended up watching some fools diving into a pool of red wine at Roodezandt while I drank a beer to cut the sour taste from all of the wine that I had been drinking and that was being splashed around.
That night we went in search of a party but there was none to be found, not like in 2008 when we had a huge jol with Barry and Annette and we danced in the street outside the restaurant with the red canvas awnings while my spare ribs got cold! Or when we asked the waitress for a taste of Robertsons Sauvignon Blanc and she gave us the whole bottle! And the music was good!No! This year the area was full of students on holiday and wherever we went the music was lousy!
Don't get me wrong, it had been a great experience and an enjoyable weekend and my wine racks are full again, at least until Dick and Frank come for a visit!Lunch on the way home was at "Ed's Diner" at the Barn in Riebeek Kasteel where classic cars and motorbikes are parked in amongst the tables and I had an excellent steak, egg and chips for R60 but that's a story for another time. Ain't life grand?!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Masters of Rock

I managed to get off work a bit early on Tuesday afternoon and drove through to Capetown, the show "Masters of Rock" was due to start at 19h00 and I arrived at the Grand West Casino at 18h30, already the crowds were forming but I was in time to pick up my ticket and have a beer or two.
I had a "Gold Circle" ticket and as I wandered in I could see that it was going to be good, there were quite a few people in already but it was a huge area right in front of the raised stage. It was a standing room only area but that suited me, I imagined the whole crowd would be boogeying anyway.
The time passed quite quickly with the area slowly filling up and before long the lights dimmed and the excitement rose as Wishbone Ash took the stage. I haven't heard their music for many years and I thoroughly enjoyed it, their hour was over all too soon and then Uriah Heep crashed onto the stage. They are now a bunch of old rockers, long grey hair and pot bellies but MAN can they still rock!
Then it was the turn of Deep Purple, known as "the loudest band on the planet" they sure proved worthy of that name! They were brilliant, Steve Morse the lead guitarist is arguably the best guitarist in the world and he played his heart out. Hearing their live rendition of "Smoke on the water" really ended off a perfect evening.
I had a sore back, my feet and legs ached and I was pretty much deaf but I was happy as I drove out of the parking area just after midnight - what a great evening's entertainment.
This coming weekend we are going to the "Wacky wine festival" in the Boland winelands around the little town of Robertson, it is about two and a half hours from home and we are going in the bakkie because I will be buying wine. It's a fantastic, popular festival and I will tell you all about it.
I thought I would end off with some lovely photos of sidecars that came to my email inbox, I am not a fan of scooters or sidecars but you just have to appreciate the loving care that went into the fabrication;
I'm not sure that I would like to sit enclosed in that car, I'd rather ride the 1500 Goldwing, probably very comfortable though.
Here's another Honda Goldwing, the 1100 model with rather a large cumbersome looking sidecar attached! Plenty of space there I suppose.
A classic Vespa scooter with a pretty basic, no-frills type of sidecar.
I'm not sure what this one is, an old British bike with a lovely vintage-looking sidecar.
Another Vespa with a little more protection for the passenger.
A similar sidecar setup, must be a factory model.
This one's quite innovative isn't it? Seems to me it would be quite a heavy rig though. I must say that I am not keen on the sidecar rigs, I love riding on two wheels and being able to lean into the corners but each to his own.
Talking about innovative, this bicycle was parked outside a shopping centre in Kommetjie when we were down there, isn't that something else?!