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, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well Christmas has been and gone and now we eagerly await the arrival of 2010! We have our whole family with us for the next three weeks or so, our son, daughter, son-in-law and our two lovely grandsons are all visiting from England so these are extremely happy times for us and we are spoiling them like mad.For our first welcoming braai I did some rump steak "tasties" as a starter, buy the best piece of lazy aged rump that you can find and rub it with olive oil, sprinkle with Aromat, garlic flakes and course ground black pepper and leave it to marinate for a bit while you prepare the fire.
It is best done quickly over a hot fire with a bit of flame and if you like it medium rare as we do you must take care not to braai it for too long, it will continue to cook for a while after you remove it from the fire so make a slice into the thick part to see what it looks like, if it still looks quite rare then remove it. Remember if it is too rare for your taste you can always put it back to cook a bit longer but if it is over cooked you cannot undo it.Cut into slices and salt to taste for a delicious starter and watch out for the juice dripping from your elbows!
Next was "Chicken parcels" and for these you can use virtually any vegetable that you can think of to include in the parcels as long as you slice the hard vegetables such as potatoes, butternut and carrots etc. quite thin.Smear a dab of butter on the tinfoil, and for this use a heavy grade foil, and then layer the potato slices and the butternut over the butter. Next place the chicken portions on top and sprinkle with your favourite herbs and spices, mine is Aromat. I then added chopped onion, green and yellow peppers and whole button mushrooms but here you can add your other vegetables.
Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and then seal the parcel very well, taking care not to tear the tinfoil. Place the parcels on the grid quite high over moderate coals to start with and leave them for about an hour. I rotate the parcels to evenly distribute the heat but you don't need to turn them over, keep adding coals to maintain the heat.
It wont be long before you can smell the wonderful aroma emanating from the parcels and I usually lower the grid after an hour is up. At some stage you will have to carefully open one of the parcels to check that the chicken is cooked through, once it is ready serve with rice or a nice fresh loaf of "Ciabatta" bread to sop up the wonderful gravy.
These are delicious and very convenient once the initial preparation is over and we do them quite often. There will be many more braais and potjies over the next couple of weeks so I hope you don't mind me sharing them with you.
I hope that your New Year festivities are very enjoyable and if you are celebrating as we are, then leave the motorbike parked in the garage - stay safe and may 2010 bring you and yours all you could wish for.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

Lovely sunny day today, quiet with a light breeze - just right for a motorbike ride. We didn't have a lot of time because we had spent most of the morning getting rooms and beds ready for our family's arrival tomorrow, but once we had got everything sorted out we got the bike out and headed off to get some lunch.
We decided to go back to the "Seafood Shack" in Velddrif, we had been there for lunch a couple of months ago and had enjoyed it very much. I count it as a victory whenever I can get Janet to go to a seafood place, she is not a seafood fan like me and this place has a very limited menu, Leon comes to the table and tells you what he is cooking.
The ride was very pleasant, I took the slightly longer way around just for a bit of extra time on the bike and we arrived at the restaurant at about 1 o'clock, both pretty hungry.
I parked the big red machine outside the rather understated front entrance of the restaurant and we went inside, I saw the advert on the chalk board on the way in and decided that that was for me. If you are dealing in USD that's less than $10, if you're dealing in GBP that's about 5.4 - even for us a very reasonable price, especially when you see the plate!

Lovely tender calamari and wonderful fresh hake, both done in a light beer batter - delicious! We had a bottle of wine with the meal and enjoyed a nice leisurely time chatting with the owners who remembered us from the last time, because of the motorbike.

When it was time to settle the account I produced my card only to be told that the machine was out of order, "Now you tell me!" I had to walk down to the ATM to draw some cash, as I was leaving I said to Leon "I'm leaving my wife here so if I don't come back you can have her." and he asked "What about the bike?" !!!!! Bloody cheek - no way was he keeping the bike! I went back.The previous day we had a wonderful Christmas buffet lunch with Frank out at "Beira Mar", here we are with the owners; Don and Connie and what a fabulous lunch that was. So far it has been a great weekend and tomorrow morning we are driving down to Capetown to pick our family up at the airport, very exciting! Watch this space.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas to all

As I sit here at my keyboard writing this I am on leave! I have a month's leave and my kids are arriving on Sunday and on Wednesday! I am so looking forward to seeing them all, my daughter and son in law and the grandsons arrive on Sunday and my son arrives on Wednesday, happy times indeed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been following and reading my blog, it is a very interesting hobby for me and I never thought it would develope the way it has; this morning I had 2341 readers from 81 countries! I am overwhelmed and I am humbled, thank you all and please stay with me.
I would like to wish all of you who celebrate Christmas a wonderful happy time with friends and family, to those readers who do not celebrate Christmas I wish you a happy weekend and all that you would wish for yourselves, peace and prosperity, love and happiness and good health and plenty of time on two wheels!
I know myself that 2010 is going to be a fantastic year, I am looking forward to it and all of the excitement and challenges that it brings and I sincerely wish a good year for all of you, keep the faith and stay positive and you can have whatever you can imagine.
Here's a picture of Santa taken when he was in New Zealand recently, a cool biker Santa on a toy run over there - just goes to show he's everywhere! Thanks for the photo BigH.
There will be plenty of braais and potjies taking place here over the next month so I will keep you posted - peace, love and happiness.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's Summertime!

It has been a beautiful weekend, a bit windy yesterday but today was fantastic and my intention was to go for a ride and a lunch somewhere but for some reason, and it was while Janet was getting into her bike gear I said; "Why don't we just stay here today and have a braai?" The look on her face was one of sheer happiness! "Yes!" she exclaimed, climbing into her comfy pants "What a good idea." I had no time to change my mind as she quickly cracked a beer and settled into her swing sofa on the back veranda.
"Marinated spare ribs and spatch-cock chicken ok for you Madam?" I asked as I cracked my own beer and stacked the braai, "Bring it on boy, I'm hungry!" she replied.
I was hungry as well so I got the fire going and prepared the ribs as a starter, it didn't take too long to cook them over good hot coals and I then sliced them up into tasty chunks. In the meantime I built the fire up again and we relaxed in the sun with our cold beers and spare rib tasties.

The spare ribs took the hunger pains away and there was no immediate rush for the chicken, Janet prepared some garlic potatoes and we cracked another beer, damn it was good!

Any doubts I may have had about staying home instead of going for a ride were certainly cancelled out by the lunch we had, I don't think we would have had a better meal in any restaurant.

Somebody had one of those "Oh Shit!" moments in the bay this past week, this was the sight that greeted me as I was driving down past the two hotels on Friday.Not a nice thing to see, I know the owner of the boat but I haven't spoken to him lately so I don't know what happened, probably a broken mooring though. That's one of the ever present dangers of owning a yacht and one of the reasons why I have never bought one, I have done plenty of sailing as crew member on various yachts and have really enjoyed racing but I have never wanted to own one, way too much maintenance involved - I'll stick to biking.

Talking about which; do you think this babe rides this beast? I have my doubts, she looks way too petite to handle that monster, look at the size of that back tyre! And it looks like there's a whole bunch of nitrous bottles on the back too, scary stuff!

The FA Cup pool competition has suffered a bit of late, I wasn't able to meet Frank on Friday afternoon due to pressure of work and the last opportunity that we may have for 2009 will be on Thursday afternoon, Christmas Eve if I can get finished in time. After that my family will be here with us for three weeks and I will be playing against my Son-in-law who takes no prisoners, I need all the practise I can get!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mussel farm blues

We had a public holiday today which was rather nice, it was a very relaxing gap in a hectic week. We got the bike out and went for an early ride to the local Wimpy for a good breakfast, it wasn't a very long ride but it did blow the cobwebs out of the exhaust pipe and as usual the breakfast was great - as far as I'm concerned you can't beat a Wimpy breakfast.

Things are getting seriously hectic on the mussel farm now as the demand hots up in the weeks before Christmas. I am under serious pressure to meet customer's orders and get the truck loaded and on it's way to Capetown by one o'clock, if the mussel ropes are not good this can be a difficult and stressful morning.

The video shows the "Mussel Cat" assisting with harvesting mussels from the same raft as the barge, these are then run through the vessel's deck equipment which cleans and separates the mussels, grading the small ones out, they are then brought around to the barge in a 400kg tub and added to the barge's production just to speed things up. On one of these busy days the orders can be anything up to 500 bags of mussels, each weighing 5kg which must be completed before 12pm so that we can head in to load the truck. The trip from the farm to the jetty takes 15 minutes, so this also has to be taken into account.

On the barge the mussels are fed onto an incline conveyor which delivers them into the brush "declumper", this has two counter rotating brush beds which break up the clumps, separate the mussels and gives them a clean. They then pass over a grid which take out those too small for market and then they drop into another conveyor which delivers them to the grading table, there any broken ones are removed before they are fed into bins for loading into the automatic scale/bagger. On a busy day this is a non stop operation from 07h00 to 12h00 with a half hour tea break at 10h00 - as I said; hectic! I still enjoy my job though, and I think this makes me a lucky guy even though it interferes with my riding time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The best laid plans of mice and men

"The best laid plans of mice and men........." The South easterly started blowing on Saturday afternoon and it increased in intensity through the night, I phoned the port control tower at 0600 and they told me the wind was gusting at 33 knots, that's approximately 61 kmh and it was gusting at up to 100kmh in Capetown! Not good conditions for riding a motorbike, we would have ridden at an angle all the way and would have needed turbo boost to make headway;I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to the ride and the day but there was no point in riding in those conditions, I phoned Frank and Dick and reluctantly cancelled the ride, the big red machine stayed in the garage for the day.
I have posted occasional photos out of Africa for you to have a look at and here is another one that I received via email the other day; I don't know if it's genuine, the cow looks a bit stiff but then maybe it would be! I don't know where in Africa it comes from but it certainly is "Out of Africa."It would be incredibly difficult to ride like that because the cow's (or bull's) weight would be on the handlebars and as you can see from the photo the rider is sitting right back on the carrier! Only in Africa man!
Even though we weren't able to ride today we had a good lunch at the Cattle Baron in Langebaan and in a lucky draw our table number won a R100 gift voucher for the next time we go there, how cool is that? I must check my lotto tickets. That discount voucher will come in handy when the family is all here at the end of the month.
Life is good, life goes on, even after the sadness of the past couple of months.
I am looking forward to my next ride even though I am not sure when that will be or where we will be going, but we will be riding soon!
Stay safe.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday and the FA Cup

Friday afternoon started the weekend off with our (fairly) regular FA Cup pool competition and Frank met me at the pub saying that he was hung over from the previous night. This is bad news for me because he is a hell of a lot better at pool when he's hung over, sure enough he played some great shots and got himself a win in the first game, I managed to win the second and then he won the next two in a row! There I was 3-1 down, not good.
I bought him another beer and waited while he drank it then I managed to win the next two games but they were both very close, Frank played some poor shots and I even conceded out loud that he should have won - but he didn't heh heh!
We played our decider under great pressure and I managed to pull it off, but anyone watching from the sidelines would not believe that we are buds from the language that gets tossed around! We have a great time though and I look forward to our Friday afternoon FA Cup games.
We have decided to go for a ride to the Viper lounge tomorrow morning, there is a Harley auction and fun day on so we'll have a look. With appologies to my American friends I am not in the market for a Harley so I won't be bidding but it should be good for a look.

And now for all of you people who will be coming to our beautiful country next year for the soccer world cup, and let me just say here and now that I will not be going anywhere near Capetown or any of the other venues for that matter, during that period - here is a photo of what you can expect to see;

But that is not because I am afraid of the crime, Oh no, it is because I hate football with a passion. So don't be afraid to come to South Africa in spite of what you have heard, the majority of South Africans of all colours are friendly and easy going people and you will have a ball. Of course there are criminals waiting to take advantage of tourists who are unwary, but that happens in all countries. I assure you that you will have a great time and you will be well looked after, but on the other hand soccer hooligans will not be tolerated and there are many really big Afrikaaners here who support rugby and who will not tolerate soccer thugs. Interesting times, I look forward to reading all about it.

Also looking forward to the ride tomorrow, Dick and Janet are going to join us at the Viper lounge and we will visit Dave on the way home to see how he is doing after his knee operation, he is still battling 15 months after his bike accident.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Huge Dilema

Folks I have been presented with a dilema; BMW are bringing out a new R1200RT next year!!! I was of the opinion that the RT had been replaced with the RS and then the new 1300GT, both of which I didn't like for various reasons including the straight in-line engine and also the huge slab of plastic fairing on each side, ok they improved the 1300's fairing with an air intake that segmented that slab of plastic.
But the engine! I love that boxer engine, so I decided that my 2006 RT would stay with me for the next 15 or so years, or as long as I could still get my leg over. However we have done nearly 50,000kms already and many people say that it's time for an upgrade and now that I see that I can get another RT I tend to agree.
I quote from Motorcycle news; The R1200RT is one of the best tourers on sale. (but we already knew that didn't we?) The 2010 model will have a new double overhead camshaft engine which has 110bhp and 88ft lbs of tourque and now revs to 7750rpm. Whilst I know that the RT is not a superbike there are occasions when you feel like giving it a bit of a blast and Janet and I have travelled at 200kmh together and I have had it up to 220kmh on my own but that's it, you can feel that there isn't anything else there even though the speedo says 240.
We know that the RT will comfortably travel at 180-200kmh for hours because we have done that on our trip through the Karoo but just that little bit more "oomph" will make a huge difference.
There are other improvements including a better ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) system, a better fairing and windscreen and a better radio set-up (which I didn't go for anyway) so I look forward to seeing the new bike soon.
Here is my dilema; I can go for the upgrade, I can either sell the big red machine out of hand or use it as a trade in and pay in the balance, (not yet sure how much that would be, but quite likely in the region of R50,000) or I can do the Sturgis trip - but not both!
Do I go for the new model and enjoy the thrill of collecting a brand new motorbike? Enjoy it's improved handling and power around South Africa until I can no longer ride a bike and have to change to a sports car or do I go for the once in a lifetime trip to Sturgis USA, cruise the American by-ways on a Harley and come home with a few tee shirts, a thousand photos and maybe a tatoo? What a dilema! I will have to make my mind up pretty soon, Janet is leaving it up to me to decide - what do you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lunch at West Coast Hacienda

We started our day off well again with our bottle of bubbly in the spa bath nice and early, before it got too hot. We had the usual discussions about whose glass had more in it! A very pleasant start to the day.
As previously arranged we got on the road at 09h30 and after refuelling we met Frank in Vredenburg, he was waiting in the shade of the service station forecourt as by then it was already 27 degrees, we could tell it was going to be another hot day.
We got on the road straight away and blasted out along the road to Velddrif, through Dwaarskersbos and out along the narrow, rather bumpy road that leads through to Eland's Bay and Lambert's Bay. In spite of the heat it was a very nice ride, I was thoroughly enjoying my self, revelling in the intense pleasure of a powerful, responsive machine eating up the miles as it surged through the corners and along the straights speeding towards the shimmering distant hills around Eland's Bay.

As we weren't in any great hurry we pulled off into a shady spot after about half an hour so that Frank could have a smoke. We had been cruising at about 130kmh as there are quite a few potholes in the road and it's narrow, with no run off area. Around here is where we saw 31 degrees on the thermometer.

It's always nice to have a bit of a leg stretch and a chat alongside the road but soon we were on the way again, next stop the Eland's Bay hotel for quick, cold beer.

A popular place with bikers, we have been many times before and the beer was good and cold and very welcome. From there it is a short ride through Liepoldville to the West Coast Hacienda just outside of the little hamlet of Graafwater and Marius has a unique way of indicating that his place is biker friendly;There is a very nice pub with a brand new pool table, Johan beat me two games to one! There is chalet self catering accommodation for up to 20 people and the food was very good, I had a pork spare ribs and chicken wing combo and Janet had a chicken shnitzel which she really enjoyed. Well worth a ride out for you Cape bikers, it is just past Graafwater if you come out on the N7 and turn down towards Lambert's Bay from Clanwilliam, Marius is also a biker give him a call on 0790365000.

The ride home was just as good with a slight breeze to keep us a bit cooler than on the way up, altogether a 275km round trip, just enough for a lazy Sunday outing and well worth doing again sometime.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Steak braai and Cointreau

Man it has been a sad couple of weeks interspersed with some riding, first Dudley and Carolynn and now our brother in law Mike passed away this morning. Why does this have to happen? We will be going to the funeral on Wednesday afternoon, I'm dreading that, I'm terrible at funerals. Life goes on but the queue gets shorter!
I have lined up a ride tomorrow, we are going to ride with Frank out to the "Hacienda" in a little place called "Graafwater" which is about 200 -250kms from here for a lunch so I'll let you know all about that. The weather is fantastic at the moment, actually very warm - summer's here.
We had some friends around for a braai today, I marinated some huge steaks in olive oil, Aromat, garlic flakes, mixed herbs and hot English mustard powder for about two hours before braaiing them.
I also prepared some miellies in tinfoil, a drizzle of olive oil and a good pat of butter with some aromat and black pepper before wrapping them up and placing them in the coals.It was a very good lunch, Janet did some creamy Aromat potatoes and a salad and we sat out on the back veranda and had a feast. I bought the steak from my friend's place; Saldanha Vleismark and man was that good meat! If you are interested in the recipe for Creamy Aromat potatoes let me know and I will post it, that is assuming you can get Aromat where you are.
Talking about recipes; Janet made six chocolate fridge cakes for a function last week and the recipe called for an Orange liqueur, like Cointreau and we all know how expensive Cointreau is so we decided to make our own.
In the old days in Rhodesia (I was going to say when we were in Rhodesia, but that is why we are called "When-we's") one couldn't get the decent liqueurs so everyone made their own and on one memorable weekend we visited Graham and Anne Nicholls, he was the member-in-charge of Mphoenges Police station (say Mm-poings) and we sat out on the veranda looking out over the bush and getting pissed on home made Tia Maria and fresh farm cream, what wonderful stuff that was and what a wonderful weekend that was! Ok the next morning we didn't feel that great but that goes with the territory and anyway we were young and bullet-proof in those days.
Anyway all that is required for a really good Cointreau is a cheap bottle of Cane spirits which you pour into a saucepan and warm it up, do not let it boil otherwise you boil off the alcohol. Slowly stir in a half to three-quarters of a cup of sugar until it is all disolved and then pour the liquid into a wide mouth jar while it is still hot. This you then bung closed with a fresh orange.
Numbered List

Ideally this needs to stand undisturbed for at least three weeks and luckily we had planned our catering so that we had that much time.

This second photo was taken after two weeks and you can see how the orange is looking a lighter colour on the top half as all of the juice and essence is being drawn out, by the end of the third week we had a really delicious orange liqueur - give it a try.

I've got more things to tell you, some more "out of Africa" photos to post and tomorrow evening I will tell you about the lunch ride to the Hacienda - stay on two wheels and keep the shiny side up friends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pray for Mike

Hey guys there's a lot going on in my life right now, let me try to explain what I mean; my brother-in-law is in ICU, after several operations he is in a medically induced coma while his organs try to recover and machines are keeping him alive, we've been praying for him. Come on Mike! He's a tough guy, an ex Rhodesian and we want him back, we need him and his family needs him. His grandchildren need him to be there for their 21st birthdays and maybe even for their weddingsPlease my friends, spare a moment to say a prayer for Mike and let's get him out of hospital and back on the road to recovery - I promise you he's a great guy.
Come on Mike, you can do it!