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, April 23, 2012

Bike service and a shock

The big red machine was due for its 80,000km service and I managed to get it booked in with the agents for today (Monday), we both arranged for the day off work and rode down to Capetown on Sunday evening. It was a bit of a cold and windy ride and it was getting dark as we arrived at Linda's house but a lovely curry meal and a couple of drinks soon sorted us out.
Early this morning we battled with Capetown's rush hour traffic and eventually found the BMW agent just after 08h00, they have moved from their old premises at the V & A Waterfront into the Culemborg area but they arranged transport for us to the Waterfront where we had decided to spend the day.
In spite of the fact that it was a monday, virtually in the middle of the month, the place was crowded. We had a light breakfast, watched a movie; "Safe House" which was filmed recently in Capetown and which we really enjoyed and then wandered around in search of a beer or two.
We settled on "Quay Four" however the beer, Castle lager, was R19 a bottle when we normally pay anything between R11 to R15. I didn't complain, after all they were bitterly cold and delicious but the Waterfront prices were later to become an issue.
After relaxing over our beers we walked around a bit more and decided to find a bit of lunch, I was in the mood for a bit of Portuguese seafood so we went into one of the big well established places there but after reading through the menu I was seriously put off. Local wines which are produced on estates in the Western Cape, all within a 200km radius, were priced between R90 and R150! Their starter courses were around R65 and the mains were exorbitant, we got up and walked out.
It's all very well if they want to fleece the tourists, fine, but us locals? I think they should ask when you walk in; "Where are you from?" - "Oh you're local, ok here's your cheaper menu, enjoy."
The Waterfront is a rip-off!
We ended up back at Quay Four where we had chicken wings and chips and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at a more manageable R85. Been there, done that - I don't think I will go back there again in a hurry.
While we waited for our transport to take us back to the BMW agents I noticed that there were a large number of scooters parked around, many more scooters than motorbikes and some, like this very neat blue and white one were very good looking, not for me but I can appreciate a nice one.
We collected the big red machine, paid for the service and got out on the road after 16h30, which was quite late. I had to fight with hometime traffic again and Janet is quite nervous when I thread through the traffic lanes, but when you're on a motorbike you have to do that rather than stay in the queues, otherwise what's the point of being on a bike?
Once we got onto the R27 I was able to open up and we settled down to a brisk 150kmh, at just under 4,000 rpm the bike felt absolutely fantastic and we thundered along with the sun gradually setting to our left. We were both quite cold by the time we got home but we agreed that it had been a lovely ride and I was really impressed with how good the bike had felt.
We have our own "Sword of Damocles" hanging over our head though, I was informed that my rear suspension unit is slowly leaking oil and will need to be replaced, this is no normal shock absorber as it is part of the ESA; Electronic Suspension Adjustment, and as such a new rear suspension will cost in the region of R20,000! A re-conditioned unit may be available and I am going to investigate, but do I really want to put a second hand part into my bike?
We have a long weekend ahead of us, here in South Africa Friday 27th is a public holiday and Tuesday 1st of May is "Worker's day", we have both taken Monday 30th as a day's leave so there's a five day break coming up! We will definitely get out on the bike, we'll speak later.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lekka by die see

It has been a bit of a "funny" weekend, our summer is just about over, in fact it is pretty much autumn and winter is not far off. It's definitely colder now and we have had quite a bit of rain so bike trips have to be planned according to weather forcasts which are notoriously unreliable, in fact our weather service is pretty much a non-prophet organisation!
I know, I know! If you're a biker you ride in rain, shit happens! It's all very well if you're out on a ride and you get caught in it, fine, you pull your rain suit on and keep going but to deliberately go out on a ride if it's already pissing down, that takes dedication.
This morning was clear, well partly cloudy but it didn't look like rain so I phoned Amanda in Riebeek and suggested we meet for lunch. It's only about an hour's ride so we fuelled up and got ourselves onto the R45 but even as we were heading east at speed we could see the clouds piling up against the mountain ranges ahead of us.
We got as far as Hopefield and I pulled over under a sky laden with cold grey clouds, we could feel the impending deluge! I suggested to Janet that maybe this was not such a good idea and that perhaps we should return to the coast, which, over my shoulder looked invitingly clear and blue. Janet was in full agreement and I executed a "U" turn and in cowardly fashion we hightailed it for the sunshine.
 We hadn't been to the Beach Bar at Club Mykonos, Langebaan for quite a while so it was to that picuresque spot that I guided the big red machine,
and soon, with favourite beverage in hand on a sun drenched veranda, all thoughts of wet riding were left behind.
I phoned Amanda with apologies and promises, "rain-check", and we enjoyed our beer.
Cool on the veranda
It's a very picturesque spot on the planet, to the right the Club Mykonos resort;
and to the left the "Lekka by die see" beach restaurant and next to that the "Boesmanland Kombuis" restaurant which roughly translates into "Bushman-land kitchen" which we haven't visited for quite some time and which we shall have to visit soon and write about.
"Lekka by die see" (Nice/Good by the sea) is charmingly casual but very comfortable with bench tables and with crushed shells under foot, in summer time it is open air but today in deference to the chilly wind, the blinds were rolled down.
Even biker trash drink wine! The slightly cheaper Riebeek Sauvignon Blanc at R75 was sold out, which tends to happen often, is it more popular because it's a good wine or because it's the cheapest on the menu? We settled for the Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc at R85 which, to our mind and taste, is not as nice as the Riebeek. Both of these estates are within roughly 100kms of this restaurant and I cannot help wondering why these wines are so expensive!? Don't get me started!
 The food was very nice, I had a Hake and Calamari combo which at R120 I thought a bit expensive, the more so because Janet's Hake and chips was R67 which means that my Calamari portion cost R53. There wasn't that much Calamari!
Be that as it may, the Hake was delicious, fresh and tasty, the chips were good, slightly crispy and not oily and the Calamari was very tender. I will certainly go back. R300 with gratuity for an enjoyable lunch is not excessive and the view is hard to beat.
I dropped Janet off at home just after two o'clock and as I had not got the riding bug out of my system I blasted off through to the Beira Mar in Saint Helena Bay.
After a good, fast, refreshing 45km ride I parked the big red machine and had a beer and a chat with Shaun. The ride home was just as good and I put the bike away at around 15h30, it had been a very enjoyable day and by dint of sensible riding we had avoided getting wet and had visited a new restaurant.
We'll talk again soon, keep the shiny side up and stay safe.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reminiscing an old trip

This part of the code is definitely appropriate to our situation here in the Saldanha/Vredenburg area at the moment, and when I say "our" I mean the biker family, if you've been reading my ramblings you will have read of the Phoenix Bar and its subsequent closure. Since then we just don't see any of the family any more.
Sure there are a couple of other pubs around but they just don't match up to the Phoenix which was acknowledged as a "Biker bar", whilst there we would see other bikers coming and going all the time but this doesn't happen anymore and consequently we are out of touch with what is going on.
Sunday or weekend rides would usually end off with everyone stopping off for an A.B.F. and a bit of a post-mortem and Janet and I used to enjoy pulling in there for a last beer and to see who was around.
Frank and I would play pool there almost every Friday afternoon and would see many of our biker friends throughout the afternoon, preceeded by the lovely sound of motorcycle exhausts in the car park, I must say I really miss that.
There is hope, however, that the Phoenix will rise again! Danny and Eduardo are in talks to set up a new pub within a couple of months so we remain positive, I will let you know when this happens and we will see if we can get some numbers to attend the opening.
On a completely different note, in those far off days before cellphones, GPS' and digital cameras, four of us undertook an 8760km trip around South Africa and the then South West Africa and here we are on the long, dead straight road running through the desert scrubland. I was then on a '82 Yamaha 1.1 and my friend Eddie and his wife Althea were riding a Honda 500 Silverwing.
That was way back in 1984 and what a fantastic trip that was, according to Janet that was the best holiday she has ever had.
As you can see the Yamaha was quite well loaded and it was so hot up there that we bundled our jackets up as well. We have done many other long bike trips and holidays since then but nothing anywhere close to that month on the road, we would both really love to do that trip again, maybe retrace our route as far as possible, perhaps in the other direction.
Perhaps we should just get out and do it, you know that it is all coming to an end on 21st December this year don't you? According to the Mayan calendar and the i Ching the world ends on that day, why carry on working if that's the case - just get out and do it, and don't buy any long playing records!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Eagles live in concert

Wednesday afternoon we left home at about 15h00 for the ride down to Capetown, unfortunately the wind was pumping strong out of the south so it wasn't a very pleasant ride. The road was also very busy with people heading up for the long weekend so we were getting buffeted, especially by the trucks, I just leaned into it and got the job done, only an hour and we were pulling into Joe's driveway.
Nicky had organised a thirteen seater bus to take us all to the concert and by the time it was full of freinds it was a very festive ride, a much better way to do it, we could drink beer!
We arrived at the stadium at about 18h00 and the wind was still pumping, maybe even stronger as it often can in Capetown. We browsed through the trade stall but decided against paying R200 for a tee shirt!
Janet and Joe getting into character
We had plenty of time to get settled in and get something to drink and it wasn't long before the stadium filled up. The music was fantastic, the Eagles - after forty years - were magical and when they played "Hotel California" they had the whole place standing.
The crowd's on its feet as the play Hotel California
The first chords had the hairs on my arms standing up, goose bumps! We felt that the music could have been a bit louder, possibly because we were off to the side, but it was clear and completely undistorted and we thoroughly enjoyed it, money well spent.
We spent the night with Joe and Annie and left early the next morning, we both had to go back to work unfortunately. The ride back was absolutely sublime, no wind although it was pretty cold at only 15,5c but it was a clear day and the sun was slowly doing its work.
We stopped at the Engen One-stop close to home just after 08h00 for a very welcome breakfast at the Wimpy,
The sun was starting to do its work
and then it was the short hop home and off to work, never mind, a good long weekend to look forward to with maybe an opportunity for some more saddle time.
Happy Easter my friends!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday braai lunch

Sunday was a slow day, I only had about three and a half to four hours sleep after Danny gave me a room. The ride home from the jol was good, I was home by 08h30 much to Janet's surprise because last year I was a basket case until well after midday!
By the time I was hungry again (it had only been a light breakfast!) I was feeling too lazy to go out anywhere so I suggested a braai which Janet was only too happy to accept, she was already out on the back veranda reading her book anyway. So I lit a fire;
and opened a good bottle of red wine, actually a very good bottle, from my stash which is actually sorely depleted, needs replenishing;
We like our braais to last a couple of hours, we like to have a couple of "tasties" before the main meal so we definitely do not, as I have seen many others do, pack a folding grid with chops, steak, boerewors and chicken and slosh it all with a braai sauce and cook it all in one go. I have been to braais like that quite often but I don't do them.
We sat chatting in the shade of the veranda, sipping our wine and looking at the fire, me my Meerlust Rubicon and Janet with her "Chateau le cardboard" (5lt box wine) while I waited for the flames to be just right for my first course.
I had earlier marinated a 300g piece of ribeye steak in olive oil, Aromat, garlic flakes, crushed black pepper and mixed herbs and this I braaied for a short while in the flames,
Removed from the flames while still medium/rare, sliced and lightly salted it makes a delicious appetiser. After that we were both feeling a bit better so I let the flames die down and waited for a nice hot bed of coals before the second "starter";
one of my favourites, crispy braaiied lamb rib, here I again use Aromat and then a mixture of lemon and black pepper, and braai them until they are quite crunchy and the fat is well cooked, as they say; "To die for!"
after that it would be about an hour until our main course so while we ate the ribs I built the coals up, it was very relaxing and the wine was contributing to the feeling of well-being.
Chicken thighs, if this looks like a lot of food for two people - it is, but I always do enough for left-overs because they go into my "skoff-box" for work during the week, and here was the Sunday afternoon meal;
The miellie I had wrapped in tinfoil with butter and black pepper and had placed in amongst the coals while I was doing the starters so they were ready with the chicken, and Janet had prepared her famous "Creamy Aromat potatoes" which I really enjoy. A few cherry tomatoes and we were good to go, that was a good meal which was followed by a bit of a nap!
As I write this it is Tuesday evening and tomorrow we are going down to Capetown to the "EAGLES LIVE CONCERT" at the Capetown stadium with a whole bunch of friends! We are really looking forward to that, I have long been a fan of the Eagles, so I will have to tell you all about that.
Of course we're going down on the motorbike!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gypsey Jokers day jol 2012

On a lovely warm, calm late summer's day I headed for the Cove Hotel in Saint Helena Bay for the Gypsy Joker MCC's "Simon's Day" day jol, and because it was such a beautiful day I took the long way via Velldrif just for the sheer joy of being out and free.
After an exhilerating blast I arrived at the hotel in time to see the guys loading the lambs into the spit braais. There were not many people there yet but I am usually one of the first to arrive and the last to leave!
Gradually more and more people arrived and the place slowly filled up, there were many friends and familiar faces from other jols and rallies; Fungis was there chatting to two local biker friends.
Alan was there, seen at many of the local rallies and usually without a shirt, on the odd accasion without any clothes!
New friends Janet and Hannes (right) on holiday all the way from Witrivier in the north east.
The brother on the left is the curator of the motorcycle museum in Deneysville.
Here's Danny getting a message from the pretty daughter of Eduardo, one of the Gypsy Jokers. Danny was our publican at the Phoenix bar and the word is that the bar will soon be open again thanks to colaboration between Danny and Eduardo.
Lots of local bikers are hoping that this will happen.

The party raged between the hall and the hotel bar because there was a rugby match in the afternoon.
Meeulanders MCC members Anton, Mike, Barbara and Frank having fun in the bar.
A lot of the gathering during the afternoon took place outside because the band was so loud that conversation was impossible.
It was actually unpleasant and I was glad that they didn't stay on for too long, the second band was much better, although they were loud they were not too bad and their renditions of classic rock favourites were very proffesionally performed, particularly AC/DC numbers which the drummer sang very well.

By early evening there was quite a large crowd of bikers enjoying the party, I don't know about the numbers but to me it didn't seem as busy as it was last year.

The bar was certainly a busy place and the guys kept the young lady running.

We (Blue Bay Premium Shellfish) donated a quantity of fresh mussels to the Gypsy Jokers and they were prepared by the hotel staff and served as a starter,
these went down very well, as can be seen by the shells all over this table.
Then it was time for the main meal, here Van carves up the beast and Floors is first in line, the lamb was delicious served with a potato salad and a green salad and there was plenty for everyone.
I cannot resist photos with or of pretty girls and there were a good few there.
The "Mary-Jane" cookies came out, made by a friend they were delicious chocolate flavour this time.

Whilst on the subject of pretty girls, at midnight it was time for the entertainment and she was pretty good.
After that it was time for the prize draws and a few games, a lot of people had faded by then as was evident by the number of "no draw" numbers pulled from the hat.
It had been a good evening and by two o'clock in the morning I decided that it was time to turn in so I went off in search of room 19 which Frank and I were supposed to be sharing with two other guys. After stumbling around in the dark for a while I eventually found the room but all the beds were already full!
If by any chance you guys who slept in room 19 are reading this.....thanks for nothing! I ended up trying to sleep in Frank's car which was very uncomfortable but at about 03h30 Danny rescued me and said that he had a room for me and another for Frank, what a lifesaver! I eventually drifted off in a comfortable bed.
I woke up with a start at 07h30, motorbike engines revving. After an adequate breakfast I was on my way home.
Next year I'm going to set up my tent, there's plenty of grassy space and who wants to share a room with snoring, farting strangers anyway?