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, June 24, 2009

Storms and swells

What a week this has been! A real week of storms, firstly we have had three major cold fronts coming through one after the other causing drenching rain and high winds that have caused much misery and discomfort in the informal settlements around the Cape. Added to that there have been very high seas running which have caused major problems with shipping, three vessels nearly running aground after dragging their anchors.
Here in Saldanha Bay the swells have been running between six and eight metres which has caused us some major headaches, yesterday three of our mussel rafts dragged their moorings or broke loose and drifted into the shipping channel.We went down to the south end of the farm to investigate and the swells were incredible, like being out on open sea and the Mussel Cat is not built for those conditions, in this picture the raft is on its way into the channel and nothing we could do about it. I turned the vessel around and headed to sheltered waters, not wanting to endanger the crew or the vessel. I made arrangements with the harbour authorities for a more powerful tug to do the salvage. That was one of three rafts that went "walkabout", it was going to be an expensive day.

In this picture (if you squint your eyes and lean in really close) you can see one of the other rafts just in the shoreline with the swells running along, a very rough sea and there was no way we could do any harvesting of mussels.
To add insult to injury the little "Mytillus", our maintenance vessel lost her steering and we had to tow her in.
This morning the swell is running at over six metres and the wind is peaking at 30knots so it looks like another wasted day, these weather conditions also make it extremely difficult for any salvage work that we have to do, oh well I suppose it's all part of the aquaculture life and also all part of the farming life in general - keeps it form getting boring!
Needless to say there has not been any biking lately and I still haven't had the opportunity to wash the big red machine yet, there's a busy weekend coming up so I won't be using her for another couple of days, maybe next week?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Sunday morning dawned grey and overcast! I stood outside with my morning coffee after a good night's sleep and gloomily looked at the light drizzle that was dampening my hopes of a ride down to Capetown, we were to meet my Sister Annette and Brother in law Barry at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for lunch and I seriously did not want to drive down!
As I have said before, we don't mind riding in the rain, hell we have done it many times as of course you will if you ride a motorbike for any length of time - but if we don't have to then most of the time we would rather avoid it.
I kept an eye on the weather during the morning and happily by 10am it was looking a little bit better, I found that if I stood on tip toe and squinted my eyes towards the north west I could just about see some small patches of blue sky. The weather site; windfinder.com was quite adamant that there would not be any rain so we set off on the big red machine.
It was a cold ride, the temperature was 9,5 degrees when we started and it didn't get any higher than 10 degrees on the way back but I thoroughly enjoyed it, Janet complained of being cold but she also enjoyed the ride.
We met my family and had a very good lunch, a couple of glasses of wine and a good chat at the Waterfront, one of my favourite places in Capetown. There is always such a good vibe there, plenty of eye candy for the guys and on this visit we heard plenty of English and Irish accents from the many people who were following the Confederation cup football games.The Waterfront is a major tourist attraction in Capetown with many different restaurants and shops, entertainment areas and harbour boat trips and we had a bit of a walkabout before getting back on the road.
As usual Janet was dozing off before we had got very far out of town. I really need to glue a big rubber pad onto the back of my helmet because that's how I know she is falling asleep, she starts leaning against my helmet and pushing my head forward!
A lot of Janet's non-biking friends, as well as my sisters cannot believe that she can fall asleep on the back of the bike; "Aren't you scared you are going to fall off?" they ask, horrified. But after talking to other biker ladies we found that it is not uncommon and quite a lot of them will have "forty winks" on a long ride.
It was a lovely ride home, the big red machine ate up the kilometres and the weather stayed kind to us. We were both cold by the time we got home but an hour in the spa bath soon sorted that out.
I now have to wash the bike before we can go anywhere else because she is pretty dirty but as I have said before, that is a labour of love and I enjoy doing it.
Next weekend I am entertaining about twenty of my friends at Linda's house in Capetown for my "Coming of age get together", I am turning 60 next week! I don't normally do the birthday thing but most of these people were at my 50th and they will all be here on Sunday, plus a few others, for lunch. I am planning to do fresh oysters and marinated mussels for starters, then there will be a big pan of roasted chicken wings. The main course is going to be an oxtail pot and then we will end off with cheese and biscuits with Belgian chocolates, it should be a gas and I am looking forward to it - I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The lodge banquet

Well the banquet that we catered on Saturday night went extremely well but the 55 people turned out to be 63! A bit of a stretch and a bit of extra stress for Janet.
We worked out butts off with the preparation, Janet took a day's leave on Friday and got started early and after I had got back from my hard day at the office (riding down to Capetown and back!) I got stuck in and helped her, she had started frying up the 168 chicken portions which all had to be browned then packed in an oven dish with the tomato sauce and baked for an hour, this took four oven trays which had to be done in two batches.
Whilst this was cooking we started preparing the ingredients for the soup and for the brinjal and butterbean salad which we were going to make on Saturday morning.
These are the first two of the "Chicken Cacciatori" dishes, and let me tell you it was as delicious as it looks!
That evening I shucked 75 oysters and preserved the liquid from the shells as well for the soup;
Saturday morning saw us up bright and early preparing the vegetables, this was my job while Janet made the soup. We always save our chicken stock whenever we cook one so there was plenty of that to use in the soup, Janet started by frying up a kilo of bacon after which she added fried onions and green peppers, the oysters were then all fried and after that everything was liquified together, a white onion soup powder mixed with milk was added and then the soup in two saucepans was left to simmer.Aren't these lovely colours? We made two of the salads and by mid morning we had the soup ready, everything was to be transported out to the lodge where it would all be warmed through and dished up whilst Janet made the chips in the deep fryer, a lot of work and a lot of planning to make sure that everyone got a hot plate of food!
This the completed brinjal and butterbean salad and it is served at room temperature, a nice dish to serve because once it is made you don't have to do anything else with it until serving time. Soon it was time to serve the meal, first the soup which was absolutely delicious!

Whilst the guys were all enjoying the soup it was time to plate up the main course; chicken cacciatori with brinjal and butterbean salad and chips.

Here is the meal and here are some of the guys tucking in;

It was a really successful evening but it was a hell of a lot of work and it will be a long time before we do another, we had help in the kitchen during the serving and for the cleaning up after and Sandy made the dessert but we were both exhausted after the evening was over. Looking forward to a bike ride to Capetown for lunch on Sunday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another trip to Capetown

Here's another photograph out of Africa, I'm not sure where but how safe is that?! Look at the baby on the kid's lap at the back! And no crash helmets, man there's a tragedy waiting to happen.
Today I lucked out on another trip to Capetown to take samples to the research institute, I could have gone down with the company bakkie (pick-up) but the weather has been fantastic this past week so naturally I decided to go on the bike.
I got on the road at 0740, 20 minutes before sunrise and let me tell you it was cold - my dashboard thermometer was reading 9 degrees as I headed the thirty kilometres to Veldriff to our factory to collect two frozen samples to go with the fresh ones that I already had, it didn't matter though because I don't feel the cold like mere mortals do.
It was certainly fresh as I sped through the clear early morning air with the first golden glow of the sunrise ahead and to my right, once I had collected the samples I rejoined the R27 heading to Capetown and settled in to the rather boringly straight road, soon I was blasting along at my usual 140 - 150kmh with the sun rising now on my left and already starting to warm the day. I have the luxury of heated handgrips which I put to good use.
The road was not particularly busy at that time of the day and I was able to maintain a good cruising speed, ever mindful of the game that can often surprise the unwary motorist, small buck often scamper across the road with disastrous results in the early morning.
Luckily nothing happened today and about an hour later, after really enjoying the open road I cruised into the outskirts of Capetown. It was close to 0900 and at that time the traffic is not as bad so I had quite an easy trip through to the laboratory where I dropped off the samples.
After a brief stretch to relieve the saddle muscles I was back on the bike and back into the traffic, I love it and I have no problem with lane-splitting and dodging careless motorists and soon pulled into the parking area of the "Viper Lounge" biker bar and restaurant in "Bloubergstrand". There is a nice bar, light meals restaurant, a pool table and a lounge area all leading onto a Harley Davidson agency. A very pleasant place to spend a bit of time and I had two very good cups of coffee and a toasted sandwich with chips (fries) before happily hitting the West coast road again for the ride home.
I felt so good on the way home, I wasn't even speeding! I cruised along at between 130 and 140kmh and by then it was lovely and warm, what few cars there were on the road mostly all moved aside to let me pass and those that didn't I swept past without any problem. You do get the occasional idiot who seems to resent us going faster than the national speed limit and who will steadfastly block the lane as if they are authorised to enforce it! Fools!
Halfway back I spotted these guys close to the road so I stopped for a bit, they are in a small nature reserve which has quite a few different species of game apart from the Giraffe. Great to watch for a while and apparently there is a very nice restaurant which we will make a point of visiting sometime.
All too soon I was cruising into Saldanha and I arrived home in time to help Janet fry up the fourteen chickens that I had cut up the previous night. What a morning it had been, a very enjoyable ride and hopefully the two of us will get out on the road on Sunday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SA cricket disappointment

Ok we have got a huge problem! Remember I said that South Africa were going to win the T20 world cup? Well if any of you were watching you will have seen that we were knocked out tonight by Pakistan! Did you see fucking Shahid Afridi posing whenever he took a wicket, he knew exactly where the camera was going to be focusing, all that was needed was a "ting" on his bloody teeth!
I'm sorry but I am very pissed off right now, I was convinced that we were going right through and I can't help asking questions like; shouldn't Alby Morkel have been brought in earlier? Isn't Jacques Kallis more of a five day test player? We needed players who get runs early, there are only 20 overs, you can't just pat the ball and take ones for f***'s sake. And what happened to my hero A.B. DeVilliers? He got caught out. I am not a happy camper folks, I could go on............so I will, after all this is my blog!
What is the story with J.P.Duminy? He hasn't done anything for ages, and Graham Smith? Herschelle Gibbs? The final is on Sunday and I had been planning my day around that, now I couldn't give a damn, I will go out for a ride.
On a lighter note, Janet and I are working most of the day tomorrow and Saturday catering for a Lodge meeting on Saturday afternoon, Janet is stressing because there will be about 55 people for whom we are doing her famous, and I mean this quite sincerely; oyster soup. I will give the recipe for this but it is quite meaningless unless you can access oysters cheap or collect them yourselves, this is because the oysters are the main ingredient and you need more than one oyster per person and they are very expensive. It is a delicious soup and I will let you know how it goes.
The second course will be the Italian influenced "chicken cacciatori" served with chips (French fries) and a brinjal and butterbean salad, which is absolutely delicious. The dessert is being made by someone else so we don't have to worry about that.
Janet has been catering Lodge dinners for many years and has acquired well deserved fame in Masonic circles in the Western Cape, but she still gets nervous before a main event. It will go down well but she will only be happy on Sunday morning when it is all over, I think I will take her for a nice motorbike ride to help me celebrate Father's day.
Which reminds me! I have convinced Janet that I really need a remote controlled 4 by 4 truck for Father's day and she has relented, so I will post photos of that, I'm going to look for one that goes well over grass and can chase the cat as well as drive through the house - how cool is that? I have never had one before so now's the time.
Cheers for now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wooden Harley

It's Tuesday afternoon and I'm feeling very laid back, Kris Kristofferson is singing about the beer he had for breakfast and then the one he had for desert and I'm drinking a really good cup of coffee with a sizable dop of Bell's Special Reserve whisky in it, it is so good that I am probably going to have another one real soon.
I received this photo, amongst others, via email the other day and it's absolutely incredible! Maybe I would ride it right now but under normal circumstances, definitely not! It is quite ingenious though, check out the front suspension and the car tyre on the rear, that is probably only a lawnmower motor but it would still be quite hairy! I would love to pitch up for a breakfast run with the guys on something like that, that would be a good laugh.
The weather last night and this morning was absolutely horrendous, definitely not conducive to a motorbike ride, it poured with rain so we decided to leave the big red machine safely tucked away in the garage and headed out in the bakkie for lunch, it wasn't too bad and we had some shopping to do anyway.
This was early yesterday morning and no sign of the rain that was to ruin my motorcycling plans but that always seems to be the case lately, excellent weather for work and then it rains! Here you can see the mussel ropes have been collected in the basket and are being swung onto the deck of the barge to be run through the cleaning and sorting machines.
Some of the crew working on the barge preparing the mussels for the day's fresh orders, on this occasion we packed 270 5kg bags for the fresh market and 1,3tons in crates for the factory to process into frozen half shell. This was not a particularly busy day.It certainly is great working out there when the weather is like this but it is going to change soon so I will just make the most of it.
So even though we didn't ride today I don't feel like I have wasted my day off, we had a very good lunch out at a nice little restaurant in Saint Helena Bay called "The Sunfish", I had a really good Yellow tail fillet and now I'm chilling out. South Africa is through to the semi finals and we will be playing the West Indies after they beat England last night, good stuff watch this space!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blanket run

Friday evening was good, we had a bunch of friends around for dinner and as we weren't sure about the weather I decided to do a potjie (do you remember the pronunciation of that word? If you have been reading this blog for a while you might remember it is; poy-key.) It is an Afrikaans word literally meaning "pot" or more accurately "small pot" and the meals are stews done in the cast iron three legged pot.
Depending on what kind of meal you are doing the cooking time can be anything from one hour for chicken or seafood, up to five hours for oxtail. I did a quick and easy chicken pot on Friday but I will be doing the full oxtail for my friends at the end of the month for my "Coming of age party" and I will let you know how that goes.
We started off on Friday with oysters and fresh steamed mussels and my friends really enjoyed them, Don and Connie are off for three months holiday overseas so it was a farewell for them, here you see Don and Div tucking into the mussels which I steamed in a little white wine and fresh lemon;My chicken pot was alright, it wasn't spectacular but there's not a hell of a lot you can do with a chicken pot, at least we all ate well and everyone had a good time. It was great to have my friends around and I must admit that I really enjoy entertaining and it's good to start the weekend off with a jol, makes it seem a lot longer.
Saturday the weather was bloody terrible so there was no riding, we drove down to Paternoster and had a really good lunch at the "Voorstrand" (Beach front) restaurant, and even though the weather was so bad, the restaurant was very busy, which goes to show what a good restaurant it is. I had their signature dish of three different fish fillets with chips which was fantastic, Janet had their beef burger which she really enjoyed. It was the first restaurant that we had been to where they ask how you want the burger patty done, Janet asked for medium/rare and that's how it was done, a lovely thick pure beef patty cooked to perfection.
Janet said she was keen to go back for the chicken burger which suits me fine because I'll have the fish again anytime. Saturday afternoon we watched cricket again, did you see the game? I'm telling you South Africa is going to win this World Championship.
This morning we got up early to go on the blanket run and it was raining! We sat quietly on the back verandah with a beer and contemplated our options, we don't mind riding in the rain if we have to, like if we are out on the road and are heading home and it's raining and you have to get going, fine - go for it. But if you are at home and you are warm and dry and you don't have to ride, what the hell? Anyway soon it stopped and the sun came out so we got the big red machine out and headed off and I must say that it was great to be out, at first I took it easy because the roads were wet but there was a fresh smell of wet tar and grass and the roads had been washed clean and it was good to be out there accelerating through the cool, early morning.

We met up with quite a large bunch of bikers at the "Drop Anchor" bar where we had a couple of beers and handed our blankets over but there was not much going on and we were getting hungry, we sat chatting for a while but we could see that the heavy clouds were coming over again so we decided to call it a day.It worked out just right, I had no sooner pulled the big red machine into the garage when the skies opened up again. It was good, we had a couple of beers and chatted with some friends and got a bit of saddle time, man I love it! I'm gonna leave you with another great quote;
"Without question the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer, Oh I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." - Dave Barry.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Winter ramblings

In my last post I stated quite categorically that winter is here and what happens? Today was a fantastic summer day! I should have been out riding instead of having to work, I know I have said that I have a great job which I really enjoy, second only to Hugh Heffner who I think must have an awesome job, but I still would rather have been out on the road.
We have been invited to take part in a blanket run for the local poor and needy on Sunday by the West Coast Motorcycle Association, the same group that organizes the annual "Bikers against Drugs" runs, so I will let you know how that goes, we have to go out and buy a couple of blankets. I'm looking forward to that one as we haven't had a group ride for quite a while and the West coast bikers are a great bunch of people. I know, I know - this blog is called "Braais, beers and bikes" but I thought that some of you might be interested in my work as well! This was the scene early this morning as we arrived on the farm, we have a beautiful full moon out and the water was calm and flat, absolutely beautiful and I couldn't resist sharing it. This was the scene about an hour later as the sun rose and lit up the windows in the town with a bright golden glow, I can't believe that most people are asleep while all of this sort of thing is going on! I spend six hours every day, (Monday to Friday) from 0630 to 1230 out on the water and most of the time I enjoy it, our winter is not all that harsh and it is mostly just the rain that makes it pretty uncomfortable, it is also a relatively short winter from mid to late June through to the end of August and even during that time we have beautiful days when we can go riding, so I mustn't complain too much.
Tuesday next week is a public holiday so, weather permitting, I am going to plan a ride out for the day, maybe we will leave Monday evening and find a B&B for a sleep over, we'll keep you informed in the meantime let me leave you with this quote;
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Winter blues

Because it is now officially winter here and we have to be vigilant, we have to pounce on any good days that happen along, Janet was getting so desperate to get out in the wind that she resorted to her old regular means of transport!When we do get to do some quick rides I like to park the bike strategically outside which ever restaurant that we are visiting so that it can be admired by all and sundry and I can also keep an eye on it, if you are a biker you will know what I mean!Here we are at "Die Vishuis" (The fish house) restaurant in nearby Veldriff, a very pleasant and picturesque place to spend an hour or two over a leisurely lunch.
On one of our visits to "Vlakvarkgat" I was introduced to the barman's pet Albino Rock Python, fortunately I am comfortable with snakes, but equally fortunately he was not a collector of spiders otherwise it would have been a different story!
Joe was with us at the time and he said "Andrew, what if the bloody thing bites you?!" and he was backing away as he said it so I knew that if it did bite me he was not going to be of any help! He was also not interested in holding it.

This was taken at the (also nearby) fishing village rather romantically called "Paternoster", and here we were at the Paternoster Lodge, also a very good place for seafood. As I have said before I feel very lucky to live in this area, not least of all because I can get really good fresh seafood. In the Crayfish (Rock Lobster) season one is able to buy fresh Lobster from the local fishermen, literally at the side of the road.

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Train nearly hit bikes

Here's a letter to the Editor of Bike SA magazine, June 2009 issue and I quote;
Train Nearly Hit Bikes

Mr Editor,
would you kindly pass a huge thank you to the unknown guys at the Buff who moved the bikes away from the tracks of the Eastbound monster deisel locomotive train on Saturday morning. One would think rusty tracks = no train but about thirty of us were wrong.
Some questions afterwards were;
"How did that loco get there?" and "Why is it inside the camp?" and "Are you sure the tracks had rust on them?" and "Weren't there two sets of tracks?" and "Are you coming with me to check?"
With great gratitude,
Yours sincerely
The black R1200R (with steering lock)I was one of the valiant bikers who sprang into action to avert what could have been a real tragedy! We had just returned from the mass ride and were gathered at the gate chatting and looking at all of the other bikes when a traffic Police car came roaring up with blue lights flashing.
At first we assumed he was after some innocent biker for some alleged misdemeanour but then he shouted over his PA system "There's a train coming, you must move your motorbikes!" I glanced at the big red machine but she was fine, no railway tracks near her but then we heard the blast from the deisel's horn and saw it approaching and sure enough there were about thirty bikes parked with their rear wheels over the line!
The behemoth had slowed right down as we ran towards the bikes, I grabbed the nearest one and started pulling it forward but it's steering was locked making it very difficult. The train had slowed to about walking pace but I doubt that it could have stopped in time as more guys converged on the scene and by lifting and pulling we managed to move all of the bikes far enough forward for the train to pass by, had the brothers not sprung into action those bikes would have been pushed over like dominoes - it doesn't bear thinking about!
I wrote a letter to Bike SA about this, it may appear in the July issue.
Bikers band together.