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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Murphy steps in

I had no sooner published my last entry about how lovely the weather has been and how good my job is when "Murphy" decided to take control! Yesterday the dreaded northerly wind started blowing and the rain was driven almost horizontal, so instead of having a lovely calm time out there I was staggering around on a heaving deck with the icy wind blowing the snot out of my nose for the whole six hours!
Today as well, we had some serious rain, most of the morning I was standing with my back to the rain trying to answer my phone and write in my notebook with customers saying ridiculous things like "Have a lovely day, and I'll talk to you again on Monday." At one stage the rain drops were falling so fat and hard that I could feel each one hammering against my head, back and shoulders. Still I must admit I do feel really alive when the weather is like that, the calm days are very nice but when we are heading in to the jetty against a pounding northerly and the waves are splashing over the bows it does feel good.
I spoke to Des today about next week's "Polar bear run", there are twelve guys on the run and that is it, no more rooms available at the hotel. We are meeting at 0800 in Velddrif and then the route is through to Picketberg, Porterville, Ceres and out the back way to the N1 to Maitjiesfontein and then the last 100kms to Sutherland. I am really looking forward to the run and I think that I have a bit of an advantage because I don't feel the cold like mere mortals do, I hope that the weather is going to be good but we are going come what may.
Watch this space!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glorious week

My job has been improved by some major alterations to the harvesting barge which has made a vast improvement to our production capability, I am now able to get the packing team on the go and then go off with the "Mussel Cat" and take care of other things on the farm, such as getting oyster stacks out for cleaning and sorting (and tasting!) and the odd bit of maintenance that I have had to help with.
Before the alterations the Mussel Cat was an integral part of the process and had to stay alongside the barge as part of the machinery and the packing tables were on the deck. Now the barge has been extended by five metres and the whole process; lifting the mussel ropes out of the water at the one end to the finished 5kg bags of cleaned and sorted mussels packed at the other end, all takes place on the barge.
Add to this the fact that for the past ten days the weather has been glorious and you can see that things have been pretty good for me. The sun rises at 0815 by which time I am already driving the boat around the farm and thinking "Damn, I'm getting paid for this!" I don't envy people who are sitting in traffic jams on their way to an office, that's for sure.
I still haven't had much time on the big red machine yet, I had to go to a meeting in Capetown on Saturday so we only had time for a short ride on Sunday and when Janet went for her customary afternoon kip I went for a fast blast to Yzerfontein and had a couple of cups of coffee. A good fast ride home and in the evening we went to the Blue Diamond for a short while, they were playing some good Country Rock for a change.
We haven't had a braai for ages but that will start happening soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunday lunch ride

Sunday dawned clear and calm, no wind, one of those wonderful days that we often get on the west coast during winter and I was itching to get out on the road. For a long time now, as you will probably have noticed, all I have been able to write about is riding to the pub for a couple of beers, this time I felt like a decent long ride and a lunch somewhere in South Africa.
We started the day in our usual manner; in the spa bath with a bottle of bubbly, and here I mean a bottle of sparkling wine not a bottle of bubble bath! We use JC LeRoux Sparkling sauvignon blanc, nothing fancy but one we really enjoy and it is here that Janet and I sort out a lot of things and it was then that we decided to ride to Wellington for lunch, we had been to "Bella Roma" once before and the food had been great so we decided to give it another go - the crumbed pork chops had been excellent!
We eventually got going at around eleven, I felt so good settling into the ride as we rode out of Saldanha and I could feel that Janet was comfortable behind me, she is an excellent pillion rider and normally sits on her own without touching me. The only times that I feel her is when we dip suddenly into a sharp turn and her knees close in against me temporarily, or when I brake she leans in against my back and if I start going too fast she taps my back and shouts "hey, slow down!" Other than that I feel her when she falls asleep because her helmet presses against mine.
Come to think about it I feel her most of the bloody time!
The road through to Malmesbury is about 90 kilos from the R27 and it is a bit of a boring road but it is generally in excellent condition, it seems as though the traffic cops also find it boring because I have never seen a speed trap along that road and so we usually blast along there, soon we had settled into our usual 150kmh and I really enjoyed sweeping past the cars and trucks, most of whom made way for us. It was such a pleasure to be out in the open air and it wasn't long before we were cruising into Malmesbury.
I pulled into a garage to fill the tank and we had a bit of a leg stretch and a chat;
"Lovely ride hey?"
"Ok let's go."
Back on the bike and out on the road towards Paarl, I decided to take the slightly longer route past Riebeek Kasteel and Hermon and as we topped the pass on the Kasteelberg we gazed down into the Riebeek valley which was then shrouded in a dense white fog. I silently greeted my old buddy Paul whose ashes are scattered there. We dived into the long sweeping left hander down into the valley and waved a greeting to three bikers heading past in the opposite direction, brothers with a common love of biking. Shit I was in my element!
The road to Hermon has been resurfaced and is now a fast ride, a real pleasure and soon we reached the intersection with the R44, I swung a right and we cruised the last 26kms into Wellington. A quick stop at the "Duke of Wellington", a biker friendly pub where a painted sign on the wall warns pool players that they will forfeit R10 of their deposit if there are any footprints on the wall!
The last time we walked in there a biker came up to me and shook my hand saying; "I remember you, we sat and got pissed together at the Spider Rally!"
"Yeah sure, howsit?" I replied, because I was there and it could have been true.
We had a bit of a chat and then headed hungry for the restaurant.
After a really good lunch it was time to head back, this time I took the more direct route back to Malmesbury along the R45 because it was quite a long way and I was expecting Janet to have her usual kip, but as we blasted along through the lovely warm, calm afternoon I could feel that she was still awake! "She must also be enjoying the ride." I thought as I opened the throttle just that little bit more.
After a really fast, thoroughly enjoyable 300km round trip we arrived back in Vredenburg and went to; you guessed it, the "Blue Diamond" for a couple of beers. Frank pulled in on his brand new burgundy coloured FJR1300 which he is busy running in.
I don't envy him that chore, it's 1000kms at no more than 4000rpm which only just equates to 120kmh, I had to do it as well and Janet was often nudging me to slow back down as the needle went past the 120 mark, actually it was a good thing that Jan was with me because my bike got properly run in.
Frank is trying to complete his run in before our "Polar Bear" run to Sutherland on the 8th August, I'm really looking forward to that one and I'll tell you all about it later.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A gap in the weather

This whole week the weather has been really terrible, real wet west coast winter and on Wednesday we had our annual visit from the Rhodes University post graduate students led by my old friend Martin, we have entertained the students every year for the past fifteen years now and in earlier years they all used to sleep in our house but the numbers were not so big then. Now they rent two or three chalets at the caravan park. As usual Janet and I do a seafood dinner for them and this year we had sixteen people over for fresh mussels steamed in white wine and a seafood pot, this I did on my gas range on the back veranda because I did not want to stand out over a braai in the bloody rain! The pot went down very well, accompanied by Janet's beer bread and a baked pudding to end, great stuff.
Friday we went down to Linda for dinner and met some friends of hers, Shaun was there as well and he had a bottle of Bells Special Reserve with him, I made appreciative noises and he said that I should take what was left home with me the next day - guess what? We drank the whole bloody lot that night! What a piss-up, I'm twice his bloody age but I did my bit for us older guys. My only regret is that I didn't get to bring any of that whisky home, it was incredible stuff.
We had intended doing a bit of shopping Saturday and being home by lunchtime but it was after eleven by the time I could drag myself out of bed, Linda made us a good breakfast and it was three by the time we got home. I didn't do much else for the rest of the day.
Today was a fantastic day and it's quite amazing that if you party on Friday night it makes the weekend seem a whole lot longer, I've noticed this before and am now going to do it more often! I got the big red out of the garage and gave her a good wash, something I have been meaning to do for a while, and then we went for a cruise. We took the long way to Langebaan; out through Vredenburg towards Velddrif and then back along the R27 and had a good lunch at the Cattle Baron, not much of a ride but enough to blow the cobwebs out of the exhaust pipe.
There were quite a lot of bikers out and about and all returned my greeting except for a guy on a Harley, I don't know why I bother with them! Are they taught when they buy the bike;
Rule #1 Do not wave at anybody riding another type of bike, or is it that they cannot leave go of one handlebar because they'll vibrate off the bike?!
You've all heard the Harley stories haven't you; they are the guys with the dead bugs on the back of their helmets, and they can't organise a rally in a small town without first checking that there's enough space for all of the bakkies and trailers to park! Enough of that, I'm going to get into trouble with my mate Harry.
After lunch I dropped Janet off for her kip and I carried on riding, I stopped at the Blue Diamond for a beer and then rode down to Paternoster and then back home. It was great to be out on the bike again.
We are starting to make plans for a two week holiday in November, it's our 35th wedding anniversary on the 10th so I'm thinking of a party here at home on the Sunday and then we will go down to Capetown and hire a Hardly Driveable for a day, I have never ridden one before and I want to find out what all of the hype is about, we'll ride out to a B&B somewhere close by because I don't think you can ride them very far and then we'll go back to town and finish the holiday on a proper motorbike.
Anyway that's for later. If anyone's reading this post a comment!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mussel starter and Lamb pot

The bad weather in the western cape continues, Rory and Penny came out to stay with us for the weekend and I did a mussel starter for lunch and as we could not braai I prepared a mutton potjie - I had wanted to do an oxtail pot but I couldn't get any fresh oxtails, some of the butcheries had frozen ones but that was obviously no good as I had time constraints and one told me that they were quite scarce, with all of the animal cloning going on you'd think that it would be quite easy to organise an ox with several tails, then while they were alive in the fields they would be super efficient at keeping flies off and we would all benefit as well.
The mussel starter is quite easy, I pre cook fresh mussels in a little white wine and then save the resultant liquid, then when I pull the mussels out of the shells I save them in a plastic tub and then pour the liquid over them and freeze them like that. The liquid is then a lovely mixture of wine and sea water, if you are not able to get fresh mussels - and this must apply to 95 per cent of the population then you would have to make your starter from frozen mussel meats, this is also quite easy but you will have to make up the sauce a bit differently.
Anyway, allow your mussels to defrost - finely chop one small onion and fry it in a good blob of butter and about two tablespoons of olive oil, when the onions are nicely translucent add all of the liquid from the mussels and allow to boil and reduce slightly, while it is boiling add a good sprinkle of mixed herbs and then pour in about 100mls (half a small cup) of Pernod, or if you don't have any Pernod (go and buy some) add some brandy, allow to boil for a bit longer and then add the mussels.
Let the mussels heat through and then add some cream, if I'm making this starter for four or six people then I use about 125ml of cream, let it all heat through and serve over pasta rice. This is absolutely delicious - Rory and Penny raved over it and I have used similar variations of this sauce with prawns and calamari with equally satisfying results.
If you have to make up your sauce for frozen mussel meats, make it with a little white wine added after you have fried the onion, still adding the pernod and the cream. Taste it while you are making it, the mixed herbs are also important.
My mutton pot also turned out pretty damn good even if I do say so myself, I added a lovely fresh tabasco chilli from my own chilli bush in the back garden. It is very easy to do potjies though so I won't go into the recipe now, the only important ingredient is care because that can make the difference between a bloody good pot or one that is just ok.
We had a good weekend, my friend and I managed to relax and talk a lot of crap which I think he needed - I am always available to my friends if they want to relax and talk crap, I'm good at that!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Miserable Week

Man has it been a miserable week! The weather has been so bad that the big red machine has only been out of the garage once, that was last Sunday. We went to the Christmas in winter festival in Tulbagh, but I wont go again it was exactly the same as the Portuguese festival that we went to last year and quite boring. We did have nice accommodation on Saturday night though, we stayed in a log cabin in the mountains and although it was very cold that night we were able to make ourselves nice and comfortable with extra blankets.
One major problem was that there was no coffee-makings for the next morning so we drank beer, there was a fridge and we had had the foresight to stock it! Janet sat watching the sunrise and sipping her beer.

We left mid morning and headed home and as it was nice day we got the bike out of the garage to blow the cobwebs out of the exhaust pipe, we rode the long way round via Velddrif to go to the Blue Diamond for a couple of beers and the place was buzzing mainly because there was a pool competion on the go. Lots of bikes and bikers in the place.

At least this time there was no engine revving inside the pub in deference to the pool competition so it was quite peaceful for a change!
Here you can see the big red machine inside the pub (the guy who appears to be leaning forward had been there for a while!)
We spent a pleasant couple of hours there and then went home.
Keep the shiny sid eup bro's, see you on the road.