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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My new camping stool, an exciting accessory

I made a very exciting (for me) purchase today, we were walking around the West Coast Mall outside of Vredenburg and I was trying to keep Janet out of Shoe City, one of the South African Big Five for her - it's funny, Janet has the South African "Big Five" where she likes to shop; Shoe City, QueensPark, Woolworths, Edgars and one other, I'm not sure which and my son-in-law Andy who lives in England doesn't want to see the Big Five, he wants to eat them; Elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo and anything running around in the bush! Go figure.
Anyway if you have been reading this stuff you will see that I complained big time about the recent Buffalo rally in Mossel Bay, there was nowhere to sit. I spent the whole day wandering around and standing and by the end of the day I was so tired that I just needed a place to sit and sitting on the ground was not a comfortable option. It actually made the rally unpleasant.
Well, in our wanderings around the mall I went into "Cape Storm" and found the amazing "Walkstool" made in Sweden. We have had the small three legged camp stool before but I have broken three of them at various rallies and they are so low that they are really uncomfortable.

This stool is higher than a dining room chair and just lower than the height of a bar stool and is incredibly comfortable, actually it was the highest of three that were available. Best of all is that it is telescopic so it collapses into a handy size that will pack into the topcase, okay it was quite expensive at R699 (almost $100 - would you buy one?) but I am really looking forward to the next rally with my new stool.
The bag also features a shoulder strap so that I will be able to carry my chair around with me, especially to the main tent on Saturday evening for the lucky draw, that is usually the worst time where you stand in amongst the whole 7,000 people (depending on which rally you attend) while you wait for the draw. I will be able to comfortably park off and relax.
The stool is apparently a hiking accessory but I'm sure that after my buds see me parking off comfortably at the next rally it will become a biking accessory, go check it out and I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lucky escape in the Kruger National Park

Every now and then I post pictures "out of Africa" because I like to think that this is an incredibly interesting continent, filled with interesting people, places and animals. Most countries in this continent are still developing, some with more success than others, some more rapidly than others and some are going backwards, like Zimbabwe which once was one of the bread baskets of the continent and is now a basket case. 
These are interesting times, particularly for South Africa which has incredible potential. I love living in South Africa, it is a vibrant, exciting place and even after 14 to 15 years of democracy there are still many challenges we have to face together, some people (from all the different race groups) are finding this more difficult than others but I still believe it can work.
It is a beautiful country for us motorcyclists in particular, generally the road networks are wonderful, sure there are areas where one has to be careful of things like potholes and road works, but generally it is a beautiful and incredibly diverse riding space which varies from arid, flat desert scrubland to mountainous passes, from nature reserves and wetlands to coastal plains. Lots to see for the wandering biker.

The nature reserves are wonderful, although generally not recommended for motorcyclists! Much safer in a car. This amazing series of photos came through my email from my friend John, taken in the Kruger National Park showing a Kudu bull having a very lucky escape.
You may be thinking "This doesn't have anything to do with braais, beers or bikes!" but actually all of us who grew up in Africa have eaten kudu fillet on the braai, wonderful stuff!
Come and check the place out for yourself, I guarantee you will have a major jol! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

BMW K1600GT - the final upgrade?

I was watching "The world's greatest motorcycle rides" on tv the other night, it was being filmed in New Zealand and the riding area was absolutely beautiful, magnificent roads and wonderful scenery and the owner of the "Museum Hotel" in Wellington who was being interviewed said something which really struck me as being a worthy quote, he said; "Some people play golf because they haven't got enough imagination to ride motorcycles."
Now there is a man after my own heart, a guy who rides bikes and loves it, who knows what it's all about, the absolute freedom of the open road which all too few people know about. Janet and I were out on a ride a short while ago and we came up to a "Stop/Go" section of roadworks, it was a twenty minute wait in the middle of nowhere so we got off the bike and took off our helmets for bit of a walk about.
We had only been there five minutes when a couple, about our age pulled up behind us in a Mercedes, they both got out of the car and came over to us to have a look at the bike, we greeted each other and he said "I had a BMW many years ago, it wasn't as fancy as this but I would love to get another one."
 I said "Well go and do it, what's stopping you?" He looked at his wife, said "I don't know."  she seemed interested, we chatted some more and as we mounted up to go I said to him, "Get back out on the road man." I hope that they are now on another BMW enjoying the freedom that we know and love.
Whilst on the subject of the freedom of the open road, Janet and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new BMW K1600GT in the showrooms which will apparently be June/July this year. The world launch of this stunning machine took place here in the Western Cape recently and the bike has had wonderful reviews.
We are seriously considering this as the ultimate (and final) upgrade. I have spoken to the BMW agents who will trade in my trusty and beloved R1200RT but I know we will have to pay quite a lot in on the new bike. I want to ride a demo model for at least a day to make sure that it is what I want, make no mistake we love our RT so we will not be making any hasty decision and we know that if we did do this it would definitely be our last bike, but we love riding, it's what we do so why not go for the best experience.
Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Voting day, a bonus midweek break

Well as I mentioned before, today was local government election day and a public holiday and our plan had been to get up early, go and vote and then spend the day either with a braai or a bike ride. Things do not always go according to plan and we woke up rather late! We took it easy and started off with one of our favourite weekend rituals; the bottle of bubbly in the spa bath where a lot of our best discussions take place, today was no exception and having noticed that it appeared to be a lovely day we decided to go out for a ride.
Having finished our ablutions I gave Frank a call to see if he was up for a ride; "Hey buddy let's ride down to the Viper lounge for a drink and then have lunch." I suggested, "Yeah ok." was his immediate reply and we agreed to meet at the Engen One Stop at 11h00.
So there we were at 10h30, our patriotic duty completed, at the One Stop enjoying a cup of Wimpy coffee and waiting for Frank to arrive.
I think I have told you already that I do not own a car, I sold it more than ten years ago now because it was just not getting used and it was taking up garage space that belonged to the motorbike. I know for a fact that if I did not have a motorbike there is no way that I would drive a car all the way to Capetown just to have a couple of beers and a lunch, I would drive to the closest restaurant. With a motorbike it's all about the journey and not the destination but with a car it's the destination via the shortest possible route.
We had a fantastic ride, I have already said that the R27 is a pretty boring road but it was a lovely day, quite overcast and cool and there was no wind, the road was not too busy and we were able to move it along at a decent pace and after an hour's riding we pulled into the parking space outside the Viper lounge.
Does that handbag really go with that outfit? At first the place was pretty quiet but it soon started filling up and we enjoyed a couple of beers and a chat with old and new friends, I made a point of telling Dieter the owner of the place that I was parking the big red machine right in front to lend the place a touch of class!
Lunch time and the guys light a braai fire in the car park, braai packs are on sale in the pub but we fancied a more formal meal.
As usual there were lots of Harley Davidsons around, here's one with the rebel flag. There are always a lot of people wandering around looking at the bikes and my BMW and Frank's Yamaha FJR attracted their fair share of attention.
Are these two at opposite ends of the scale or what? A Harley Heritage Softail and a Suzuki Hayabusa.
Just around the corner is one of my favourite restaurants; the Ocean Basket, one of many in the franchise group and we left the bikes and strolled around for lunch. Frank gets his glass of wine from our attentive waiter (sorry I didn't get his name) who looked after us very well.
I always have the same meal; the platter for one and I love it, I mean just look at that! Mussels, prawns, Angel fish fillet, calamari tubes and tentacles, chips and rice with a delicious lemon butter sauce, wonderful stuff! I ate every single scrap as well as a couple of prawns from Janet's plate that she couldn't finish, I was well satiated after that meal.
The ride back was just as enjoyable, a good fast run with the weather just as nice as it was on the way down. We are fortunate here in that although it certainly is winter now we still get lovely riding weather, and man do we take advantage of it.
How many pubs do you go to where the landlord comes out to welcome you personally? After our enjoyable ride we pulled into the parking in front of the Phoenix bar to be greeted by Danny and it wasn't long before the pool games were on the go!
Watch out once the cigar comes out Danny means business!
Here he threatens Frank with the cue, "If you beat me, I'm gonna beat you!"
Frank made this difficult black ball shot to take that particular game from Danny. We had two beers and a very pleasant couple of games of pool and then it was time to head for home.
Outside the bar we have a fairly complicated ritual of getting Janet's helmet on but we've got it taped by now. It had been a really enjoyable day, a bonus midweek break and Frank paid for the lunch too. If only more Wednesdays could be like this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Croc spotted in local dam!

Unbelievable as it may sound a local resident out walking spotted a croc in the nearby dam and raised the alarm, it was later caught without incident.
Actually just a bit of humour from an email sent to me, incidentally these are just some of the things that you will never see me using; crocs; the most hideous footwear to ever be produced, I don't care
how comfortable they are. That's like saying you ride a scooter because it's economical!
On a more serious note South Africans go to the polls tomorrow for local government elections and I think it's going to be very interesting to see the outcome, I think there are going to be some surprises. This, however is not a political blog so I won't dwell on it, we will be getting up early to be first in line when the polling station opens and then we will have the rest of the day free and as we have done in the past we will more than likely indulge in one of our favourite pastimes;
You see, our President in his wisdom has declared that voting day will be a public holiday, how cool is that? So we will probably have a braai, that or go for a ride on the motorbike, we'll see how the day progresses, how the mood takes us. In the past we have chilled out in the backyard with a braai after doing our patriotic duty. I'll tell you all about it later.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Riebeek Kasteel olive festival 2011

The olive festival in Riebeek Kasteel was a total jol, firstly we were lucky with the weather, after all it is now winter so we were not sure what to expect but Saturday dawned clear and calm and it stayed that way. It is only an hour from Saldanha to Riebeek and it is not the most exciting road, we have done it so many times over the years but still we had a lovely ride and I was glad that we could go on the bike. It was our intention to stock up on olives but as only one pannier was needed for our clothes we had plenty of room.
I was a little worried at first because we were going to be staying at Mandy's house in Riebeek, which is very conveniently situated within walking distance of the village centre, but I was to be the only guy with four women; Mandy, Janet, Caroline and my own Janet - what kind of weekend was this going to be?

I needn't have worried, the ladies (and I use the term with great respect) were very kind to me, and Janet brought along a friend; Craig so it was four to two instead of four to one, far better odds.
We spent a very pleasant afternoon wandering around the festival tasting the different varieties of olives and olive oil, making a few purchases and drinking a few beers. There was a lot going on, live music in different pubs and cafes and lots and lots of people and later in the afternoon we wandered back to the house.
Soon it was time to go to dinner and we all piled into Craig's car to drive around to Ed's Diner at The Barn, fun for me! Caroline seems to be having a problem!
We had a lot of fun at the diner and a good meal, I had a really good lamb shank which was fall-off-the-bone tender. We were there for quite a while and then it was time to pile into Craig's car again for the ride home.
Don't worry people, Janet took the photos from the front seat! I was having all the fun.
The party got sort of noisy after we got back home, Caroline found a bugle and made it sound pretty much like a vuvuzela!
Craig tried to go to bed and the women pounced on him, gradually everyone faded off to bed leaving me and Caroline to sit and chat and just generally reminisce, we have known each other for many years, she is my buddy and it was good to catch up.
Sunday morning! The beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for dessert (Kris Kristofferson) - Frank rode out from Saldanha and joined us for lunch, Mandy climbed onto his bike for a ride back to the house sans helmet but the Police seemed to be in a very lenient mood because they ignored the transgression and waved them through.
It was a great weekend, we spent some time with good freinds and we stocked up on fresh and delicious olive products which we both love.
The ride home was just as good and we got a message from a big male baboon as we roared through his territory, how rude!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Out of Africa again

In keeping with my occasional "Out of Africa" posts I offer the following pictures for my readers, and I assure you that this is typical of Africa, like the two guys in the picture who have done what we often talk about here and that is; "Make a plan." If it is hot weather and you want to sit in the pool and also have a braai, then you make a plan - South Africans are really good at "Making a plan."
We will follow up and discuss this in more detail in later posts but in the meantime give it some thought, when last did you "make a plan" and what did it entail?
And now for something completely different (with appologies to John Cleese) these pictures came through my inbox recently featuring the "King of the beasts." and I use the term seriously, did you really think that that term applied to the Lion?
Look at this majestic beast walking casually past an intruder in his Kingdom, he treats it with absolute disdain and then decides to examine it more closely.How would you feel if you were in this car? This elephant is now leaning across the front, probably rubbing himself against it.
He then decides to take a more personal interest and casually turns the car over, probably thinking "Who do you think you are? Invading my personal space!"
At least these poor people will have a story to tell and the pictures to back it up. These photos apparently came out of the Pilanesburg Nature Reserve near Sun City, isn't that wonderful stuff?
And I leave you with this picture showing just why it is so difficult to find your way around South Africa, but don't let all of this put you off visiting our wonderful country - let me assure you that it is an adventure which you will really enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dave's new leg

I want to post an update on my friend, my brother and my hero Dave who was involved in a bad accident on the way back from the inaugural "Polar Bear run" in August 2008, we rode through to Sutherland on the Saturday and on the trip back on Sunday morning Dave left the road in a bend and his knee hit the armco barrier flinging him off his bike. His left knee was shattered and after something like eight operations to try and replace the knee joint Dave eventually said to the surgeons; "Enough of this crap, cut it off!"

He shopped for a leg and a foot on the internet and eventually got everything together and now he is learning to walk again, mark my words; It won't be long before he is out in the wind on a trike. "True grit." With Dave's permission I will keep you posted on his progress, he did say to me that he wants to be up and walking in time for the 2011 Polar Bear run which is scheduled for the end of July.