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, July 23, 2012

Dragon Lords' Matric Drive, Saturday 21st July

The weather was absolutely atrocious! The whole week leading up to the weekend had been great but the forcast was for 80% rain and strong winds on Saturday, calming a bit on Sunday. I was a bit dubious about whether Janet would want to go but she said "It's just an hour's ride, we'll just put our wets on and go." That's my biker girl.
The Dragon Lords were holding a Matric Drive in Killarney Gardens, collecting Matric outfits for underprivileged school kids who would otherwise not be able to have an end of school dance. We considered this a really worthy cause and determined to attend, to which end we managed to accumulate four girl's dresses, some shoes and a handbag as well as some shirts and ties.
As the jol was only starting at 14h00 we only needed to leave at around 12h00 or so, plenty of time to see what the weather was going to do. It rained through the night but seemed to be clearing later and when I looked to the south I could see that indeed the sky did seem to have blue patches amongst the heavy, dreary grey clouds.
We put our rainsuits on just after 12h00 and were riding out of town by 12h30 but I could see that the cloud cover was solid and heavy, as we turned onto the R27 West Coast road heading south the temperature was 16,5 celsius and those blue areas I had spotted earlier were nowhere to be seen. The wind was blowing very strong northerly but as we were heading south it didn't matter much.
Before we even got half way it started to rain, lightly at first but with growing intensity as we got nearer to Capetown and by the time we were riding past Melkbos towards Tableview all hell broke loose!
It rained so hard that I couldn't see through my helmet visor, visibility was severely restricted but still the cagers were behaving like idiots and way too many of them were driving without headlights! Some had park lights on but they were as dim as their brains, luckily I could raise my visor and was able to see much better but the pelting rain was stinging my face, I had to reduce my speed considerably and was constantly on the lookout for large standing pools of water and for fools coming up behind me too fast.
We haven't ridden in rain like that for ages and it was a great relief to arrive in one piece at the Daytona Palms Pub in Killarney Gardens, I parked the big red machine outside and as the rain had temporarily subsided we removed our rain jackets and headed into the tent. There were not many motorbikes parked outside and I noticed later that although the crowd grew considerably the number of motorbikes did not, there were a lot of cars though!
There were quite a few revellers already on the go and a large marquee as well as some smaller tents had been set up to keep us all dry and happy.
We moved through the marquee and into the very pleasant wooden panelled bar area in search of beverages to ward off the chill, there we were met and greeted by one of the organisers of the drive, and a member of the Dragon Lords; Vera Basson Manuel a very pleasant lady and obviously passionate about the charity events that they are involved in.
 As the afternoon progressed the bar area filled up, particularly when there was another brief rain shower. It was a very festive atmosphere and I greeted several friends from the many rallies we have attended.
My friends Nancy and Peter were there, I bump into them at almost every local bike do and we discussed getting a bunch of them to come and ride up the west coast with us for a day, I will show them our local attractions and favourite spots.

I went out to wander around the site for a bit, there was a mens and ladies boiled egg eating contest taking place, I was not moved to partake of that!

It was whilst I was wandering around with my beer that I became aware of a strangely hypnotic yet somehow familiar rythmic drumming sound, something that seemed to react with my long-buried tribal roots perhaps, I followed the sound and came across a lot of people involved in a "drumming circle", it was very compelling and tugged at something deep within me that was long forgotten. It was not only me that was affected, many people joined in, pounding happily at the hide drums losing themselves to their inner rythms. I can imagine that it would be very therapeutic.

By late afternoon the rain seemed to be a thing of the past and more and more people arrived, crowding the tents and the bar with rowdy revellers intent on partying. Fires were lit outside and although the organisers had advertised that tents could be erected for sleepover I saw no evidence of that on the soggy grass.
I stayed for a while longer, chatting to other bikers and to the organisers. It appeared to have been a successful jol, perhaps not as good as it would have been were the weather not so bad but those who braved the elements seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The Dragon Lords are a worthy bunch of bikers, seemingly often involved in charity events and this was not the first matric drive that they have held. You've heard me say it before and you'll hear me say it again; Bikers are good folk and I will certainly support this club again.
Later that night I braaied chicken thighs at Linda's house while at the same time attempting to dry our sodden gloves next to the fire, it had been a good day inspite of the storm and Sunday promised to be better weather.
The ride home was much nicer, it did rain again before we left but although cold it was dry and I was able to enjoy myself on the bike. We ended off with a late lunch and some wine at the Beach Bar when we reached Saldanha, tired but happy!
Next weekend is the fifth annual Polar Bear run, I will tell you all about it but one thing I can tell you for sure; I'm not worried about the weather now, after that storm I am well and truly "weathered"!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Matchless 500cc single

I got my motorcycle licence way back in 1968 in the BSAPolice driving school whilst in the training depot in Salisbury, (now Harare) Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe). We were taught well and my love of riding developed from those days, even though I had been riding scooters illegally before then.
I remember the Police riding school very well, we rode the Matchless 500cc single and the BSA 650 twin, both fantastic motorbikes and although neither of them were well suited to off road riding we did quite extensive dirt road training on them as those who would later be posted to district stations would have to ride them for miles on virtually non existant roads.
The extensive training that we received stood me in good stead for the thousands and thousands of kilometres that I have ridden since then.
I came across this old photograph of my late friend Patrol Officer Paul Weinel on one of the Matchless motorbikes, probably taken whilst he was stationed at Kezi.
The old British bikes were gradually phased out and replaced with Yamaha 350's, much faster and more nimble but they lacked the panache of the early bikes, I would love to have a Matchless 500cc like this beauty in my garage next to the BMW.
Isn't that a beauty? Surely there's one for me somewhere.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Sheep's Head Guild

Last Thursday night my friend Vos sponsored us to a meal with "The Sheep's Head Guild" at "Boesmanland Kombuis" restaurant at Club Mykonos, the guild meets on a regular basis mainly to eat a meal that they all enjoy but which is not served by the average restaurant; a crispy roasted lamb's head.
The guild meals are open to all, and initially it was restricted to the lamb's head only but in order to encourage more people to attend, particularly women, they introduced the "Offal Potjie" option as well. Those are the only two menu options on the night.
I must admit that it does take a bit of a strong stomach to be able to eat the head, but I had been involved with one a while ago and I do have quite a strong stomach so I was keen. Janet opted for the Offal which she also thoroughly enjoyed.
We took our own wine along and sat and chatted with other members while eagerly awaiting the meal, the heads were certainly nicely roasted and the lamb aroma was getting the taste buds active. By the time they were ready I was good and hungry.
Dinner; known as a "Smiley" in the townships for obvious reasons, I helped myself to a good slice of the oven-fresh bread and some farm butter, I didn't need any vegetables with this meal and as far as I saw none of the other guys bothered either. It was a bread and meat evening.
Silence reigned, apart from the clanging of cutlery against enamel plates as the guys got stuck in. I was quite grateful for the dim lighting, there are parts of the meal that you don't want to see too clearly!
Soon I had cleared all of the delicious crispy skin and the delicate morsels of tender meat in the cheeks and jaw, it was time to get at the tongue and palate, truth be told there was a part that bothered me a little and that was the upper lip and the nostrils, quite a lot "chewier" than the rest and a bit more difficult to swallow!
I think that the tongue is my favourite part, quite tender and full of flavour.
Seemingly oblivious to the muzos serenading us, Marlo attacks the skull with a hammer and chisel, eager to get at the brains.
Every one has their own methods and tools for getting the skull open, it's harder than you would imagine. Vos has a hammer and chisel and he also brings along an oyster knife.
With my trusty, and newly acquired, Kershaw I managed to make a hole big enough to scoop the brains out, delicious spread on my bread and seasoned with a little salt and pepper. It was quite a big meal, a lot of rich meat and thoroughly enjoyable.
Demolished! I want to join, I thought that next time I might try the Offal pot but that's not going to happen, the Smiley was just too good and I'll definitely have that again, what a good meal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Another Lamb potjie - like we don't do this often enough!

I told Janet that I felt like doing a lamb potjie for some friends on the weekend, "Who should we invite?" She rolled her eyes, "Can't we just have a quiet weekend together?" but it doesn't work like that - "I need something to blog about love, and besides we've got those lamb legs in the deepfreeze, we need to use them up and anyway we owe Tony and Laura a lunch, and what about Frank.....?" I let my sentence trail off and then I had a brainwave; drop the subject until later. 
Bright and early Saturday morning after our cup of coffee I got the spa bath filled up with hot water and some aromatic foam and I had the bottle of JC LeRoux sparkling wine in the ice bucket, as we relaxed in the hot bubbles with a chilled glass I found the right time to broach the subject; "So what do you think about a nice lamb potjie lunch tomorrow love?"
"Hmm yes, that could be quite nice, I could make a sweetcorn souffle' to go with it." she said, the warm bath and the cold wine were obviously working their magic.
"I'll invite Tony and Laura and Frank shall I?"
 On Sunday morning I started preparing for my pot, I had already thought that I would like to fry the vegetables in the rendered down lamb fat so I trimmed it off the leg while I was heating up my trusty pot.
 Once the pot was good and hot I threw in all of the fat, it was way more than I needed but once there was a good little pool of aromatic fat simmering in the bottom of the pot I removed the excess.
Already the smell coming out of the pot was awakening the taste buds! Into the simmering oil went a chopped onion, a chopped green bell pepper and some sliced celery. When these were nicely sweated down I added a tablespoon of crushed garlic and a teaspoon of chopped ginger.
In the meantime I hacked all of the meat off the bone, chopped it into bite sized chunks and flavoured it with Aromat, salt, pepper and mixed herbs;
The bones were later boiled with vegetables to make a lovely stock which we froze in small containers to use for future meals. Then it was time to chuck the meat into the pot and stir it around to brown.
 I keep the flame good and high to brown the meat nicely and then after about ten minutes I add the main ingredient;
a bottle of Castle Lager. At this point I also make up a gravy with a cup of red wine into which I stir a soup powder and a mutton stock cube, now it is simmering time, I turn the heat down and put the lid on and leave the pot for an hour. I go and drink and chat with my friends.
Check on the pot during this time, taste the gravy to see if anything must be added, check if the meat is getting tender and one hour before you are due to serve add the hard vegetables such as the potatoes and butternut squash. Turn the heat up a bit to increase the simmer because all of the fresh ingredients you have added will cool the pot down
Janet surreptitiously reminds me that I must add my mushrooms and butter beans or my cabbage by asking; "Have you put the mushrooms/butter beans/cabbage in yet darling?"
This tells me two things; one, she has prepared them for me and two, I should put them in now. I then say something like; "I'm not quite ready for them yet dear." I wait long enough to make it look like it's my idea to put them in but not long enough to ruin the pot.
I stir the mushrooms and butter beans in, pack the cabbage on top and let it bubble away for a while and it wasn't long until my friends were enjoying a typical South African meal;
 Sadza (miellie meal pap), sweetcorn souffle' and lamb potjie.
My friends enjoyed the meal and later I will tell you what we did to use up the left over sadza the next day - damn that was good!
The aloes in our back garden flower just before the winter sets in with a vengeance, which is what they did that afternoon.