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, February 20, 2014

Another Beef shin potjie in the middle of the week

Wednesday was an opportunity to do another potjie, one of my favourite pastimes. I am on leave for a week, I took five days just to chill after the chaos of the December and January production demands, also I needed to get my bike down to Capetown for it's 90,000km service. Janet came down with me on Tuesday and we had a nice day but the mechanic needed more time with the bike so I left it there and only had to go and collect it on Thursday.
As the beef shin pot needs a long time to simmer I was able to get started early and as I had a new product that I wanted to test I invited Frank to come for dinner, he was to be a "Guinea pig". He definitely has no objection to this at all, in fact I think he enjoys it!
I am not a traditionalist, it has been a long time since I have cooked a potjie over the coals, I use gas for the sheer convenience, you can say what you like, gas is super convenient.
I started at 16h00 by heating some cooking oil in the pot and then added two roughly chopped onions, one red and one green bell pepper also roughly chopped and then a heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic,
In the meantime I cut my beef shin into smaller chunks and seasoned liberally with Aromat, mixed herbs and crushed black pepper,
I then added the contents of one packet of "Chilli Beef and Vegetable" soup powder and gave the whole lot a good shake up so that the meat was well coated with all of those ingredients.
Once the onions and peppers were softened and translucent I dumped the meat into the pot and kept stirring until the meat had browned.
The new ingredient that I wanted to try was "Koo Concentrated Wet Stock" so I mixed the contents of the sachet into a large cup of red wine and stirred it in. I must say that my pot definitely had a good beefy flavour in the end although it was difficult to ascertain whether that was because of the soup powder, the stock or a combination of the two. I will have to experiment further.
Time to simmer, I left the pot on a low heat with the lid on for an hour while I prepared my vegetables; I give my pot a good stir every so often while it is simmering to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom.
Mushrooms, butternut squash, potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, I didn't use the cabbage after all, I thought that was enough. I added the hard vegetables, the potato and butternut and left it to simmer again.
I still stir the pot occasionally, but carefully this time so as not to break up the potatoes and squash, once they start to feel soft, and the meat feels tender I add the other vegetables and leave on a low heat just until the cauliflower and broccoli have heated through but retain their "crunch".
Time to eat! Janet prepared some rice and the consensus was that it was a good one, a nice meaty flavour with a good, thick and tasty gravy. When I do a pot like this we could feed another four people but Frank always gets a "doggie bag" and we have enough leftovers for another meal the next night.
Man I love potjies!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We take the baby to the doctor

BMW Autorad, the BMW motorcycle agency in Capetown has closed down! Why am I not surprised? If you read this crap, and it doesn't look like many do, you may have read a while back about the shoddy treatment I received at their hands including expensive servicing and spares, the worst of which was that my differential packed up at 87,000k's and I had to replace it at a cost of R20,000!
At that time I asked for a quote on trading the bike in on a new model and all I got was an email from the Dealer Principal ~ Sorry but we are unable to offer you a trade in price on your motorcycle ~ Was the writing on the wall back then?
I had decided then that I would look for someone else to maintain my bike, the warranty was up anyway, thus it was that on a warm and calm Tuesday morning Janet and I saddled up for the ride down to "Maxwil Trading" in Kilarney Gardens which had been recommended to me by a friend.
I am on leave for the week so I had washed the bike on the Monday morning after returning from the Freedom Road Rally, Janet took the day off to accompany me.
That motorbike is now eight years old and has done 94,000kms, still running sweet but I do like to get the service done every 10,000k's, I was over by 4,000 and I have a couple of little niggles one of which is the back brakes feeling a bit "spongy", time for the doctor to check her out, I hope he's a good one!
Extended patches of very thick fog on the R27 slowed us down quite a lot so it was well after 08h00 by the time we delivered the bike to the mechanic, we had a discussion during which I said to him; "Remember, this is the most important motorbike you have ever worked on!" I was serious but he and Janet both laughed, he said: "I get that a lot."
Linda darling lent us her car for the day so we could get around and by mid morning we found ourselves at the Viper Lounge in search of liquid refreshment, I ordered two Castles and the barmaid looked at the clock; 10h50, says she "I can't serve you until 11h00."
"Right!" I said,"I'm going to hold my breath until you give us a beer." and I took a big breath, she looked at me, laughed and took two bitterly cold beers out, it worked! It was a hot day for goodness sake.
As it turned out the bike was not finished by the end of the day, the back brake disc was worn and had to be replaced, I did not want to rush the job so we decided we could leave the bike there after my friend Joe said I could take his other car, a bloody big V8 Jeep Cherokee to go home. What a nice vehicle to drive but I had to really concentrate on keeping that beast at 120kmh to 130kmh on the west coast road, damn those speed trap gantries!
We had a nice day, a good lunch with our friends and I'm going back to collect the bike on Thursday. I will tell you my impressions about Maxwill Trading and the work done by that mechanic, it looks like it's a one-man operation and he certainly seems to know what he's doing so I am confident.
As you all know very well biking is not a cheap pastime but I don't mind paying the price for quality work.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Freedom Road rally, Struisbaai 2014

I had hoped to ride through to the Christian Motorcycle Association's Freedom Road Rally on Friday morning with the Meeulanders but was unable to get off work in time, they were leaving at 08h00. I told Frank to ride with his club, he normally waits for me but I had no idea when I would be able to get away. As it turned out I was still at work at 14h30, totally frustrated and very hot and bothered I decided not to ride through that afternoon but to leave early the next morning.
This turned out to be a very good decision, firstly because I thought Struisbaai was only 250kms away, actually it turned out to be 374kms which means I would have arrived very late, and secondly they had really bad weather on Friday evening with rain and gale force winds!
I had packed my gear so all I had to do was get on the road, which I did just after 06h00, we have been having quite a heat wave lately so it was lovely and cool just before the sunrise, in fact heading out towards the R27 I was riding towards the deep red orb just beginning to show on the eastern horizon, my thermometer was showing 21 degrees Celsius even at that time, it was going to be another hot day!
Within an hour and a half I had cleared Capetown traffic and pulled into the False bay one stop on the N2 to refuel and stretch cramping saddle muscles, I briefly thought about breakfast but decided to press on and find a more interesting place.
Through Somerset West and up Sir Lowry's pass the wind became very strong but once I got over the top it wasn't too bad, I had been really enjoying the ride but I don't enjoy getting buffetted by strong winds. Soon I left the N2 and headed down through Hermanus, lovely roads from Hermanus to Stanford and then through to Napier where I stopped for another leg stretch and a good cup of coffee with a toasted sandwich.
From there it is some 45 to 50kms through Bredasdorp to Struisbaai, I pulled into the campsite just around 11h00 under a heavy grey sky with a moderate wind, much better than what the guys had had to put up with the previous evening. I was tired but happy after a great ride, I immediately got to work putting up my tent. Frank was apparently still sleeping after only having got to bed around 08h00! Usual story.
One of the first sights was this poor Suzuki being loaded on a trailer, apparently two of the younger guys made an error of judgement returning from the pub in the early hours of the morning, no serious injuries thank goodness but the bike took some heavy damage.
As usual the Meeulanders had set up a nice camp and there was a festive group under the awnings, I had to go downtown though because this being the CMA rally there is no beer tent or any alcohol sold on site, I was in urgent need of an ice cold beer or two anyway after my ride and my work with the tent. Van elected to accompany me, the first pub was just around the corner and a very good place to start.
Struisbaai is right next to and pretty much adjoining Cape Agulhas, Janet and I were last there some ten years ago and the place has grown quite considerably, it was interesting to cruise around checking out the pubs and restaurants in and around the southern-most tip of the African continent.
By about 15h00 we'd done the rounds, we stopped at a bottle store for supplies for the evening and returned to the campsite, time for me to park the bike!
By then my old buddy Frank was up and about and we wandered around greeting friends and having a chat,
These friends had settled in for the evening and insisted that we have a taste of their potjie, looks like it's going to be a good one guys!
There were a few food stalls so the choice was good, also there was a butcher selling braai meat and we made our purchases because there was to be a braai before the prize giving that evening.
By the time Frank and I got back to the camp there were shouts of "Ons Gaan Nou braai!" (We're going to braai now!) ringing out with guys shuffling around the fire clutching their braai packs
 It was purely a meat meal but very good quality meat, Van got busy braaiing ours
after which everyone wandered over to the tent to hear the prize giving, all hoping that they would be the winner of the main prize; R10,000 in cash - none of us I'm afraid.
The Freedom Road rally is one of the smaller rallies on the calendar so it's never a very crowded affair, I have been to six of them now but this was my first one in Struisbaai and I must say that the campsite is very nice, good clean ablution blocks and well grassed sites. Also the Struisbaai/Agulhas area is a pleasant place to spend a weekend - I'll more than likely be back next year.
The party carried on for a bit longer, here Francois was seen drinking out of his "Redneck Wine Glass" which had a screw on lid although I think he was drinking either rum or brandy and coke, not wine! Nice glass though.
I was up fairly early the next morning after quite an uncomfortable night, as I climbed creakily out of my tent I could see lots of people in various stages of packing up. I like to get going early so I packed my tent and gear away, had a wash up and then headed for the CMA's ubiquitous coffee tent,
Frank was up and packing his stuff when I walked back, I said goodbye to all of the guys and rode out homeward bound. From Struisbaai to Bredasdorp is only 30kms but I rode under heavy grey skies with just the faintest bit of rain to cool things down.
Through Napier and the skies were clearing but the bloody wind was picking up again! I decided to take the slightly longer route back through Hermanus, Kleinmond, Betty's Bay and the coastal road but it was a bad decision with the strong gusting wind making the usually beautiful coastal road a battle which I didn't particularly enjoy.
Man was it hot! I saw 37 degrees but I'm sure it got hotter, back on the N2 at Strand I didn't know it then but I joined in with the rest of the guys who had left after me but had taken the shorter route and as I pulled into the False Bay one stop for a coffee and toasted sandwich most of them were already there.
The coffee was delicious, we chatted, both me and Stephen reluctant to sit down because of sore saddle muscles we drank our coffee standing. The toasted sandwich was adequate and close to 11h00 I was riding out onto the N2 for the final stretch home.
The R300 link to the N1 wasn't very busy and I was able to make good time, down the N1 and through the Plattekloof to the N7 the only unpleasant factor by then was the heat because the wind had died down but the heat was debillitating,
I had to make another stop on the R27 to stretch my legs and cool down a bit, not the bike - me, the bike was performing flawlessly but I need to do some long trips to get "bike-fit" again, the round trip was 770kms with some of it fighting against really strong wind.
It had been a nice ride generally, I enjoyed the rally and I'll do it again next year, hopefully in better conditions and with the Friday off work. Next month I want to do the Buffalo Rally again in Mossel Bay so I need to speak nicely to my boss before the time because I definitely need the Friday off for that one, it's a 500km ride.
Tomorrow I'm taking the big red machine down to Capetown for it's service - another ride, cool.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A breakfast run to Darling

Sunday morning saw a clear and sunny day but with a blustery southerly wind that could only get worse as the day progressed, Janet had work to do so I dropped her off and rode on through to the Engen One Stop where I was to meet up with the Meeulanders for their monthly breakfast run.
Frank was already there filling his tank, it wasn't long before other bikers began trickling in and we stood around drinking famous Wimpy coffee and looking at the bikes.
We met Jasper who was just cruising around on his brand new K1600GT, a pleasant guy on a lovely bike, I'm sure we'll see more of him as he lives just down the road.
 The usual suspects gathered, looking forward to a ride; Heinie and his lovely wife Gerda were there.
Stephen chats with Mark and Charmain, I haven't seen them for ages so it was good to catch up.
Kick stands up just after 09h00, there was quite a crowd, I didn't count them but I estimate about eighteen bikes with maybe twenty six or so people, a great crowd for a breakfast run. We rumbled out of the garage forecourt at about 09h30 and settled into a sedate cruising speed in staggered formation, well disciplined because of the speed gantries on the R27 and we had to pass two of them. 
Everyone knew that after the second gantry we were going to turn off to Darling so we would not have to worry about the third one and sure enough as we passed under the second gantry the hooligan in all of the bikers was unleashed! I was riding pretty much in the centre of the pack and suddenly I was having to do 170 to 180kmh just to keep the mob in sight! An exhilirating blast ensued with cages pulling to the side of the road to let the hooligans flash past, it was wonderful stuff and the big red machine felt sure and nimble on the new rubber.
After the turn off it was fifteen kms on a narrow, bumpy and not so fast road into the little town of Darling and we lined the machines up outside Cafe Mosaic,
There's a message from Terence in this picture. Time for breakfast and believe it or not we could get beer! (Maybe I should keep that quiet!)
 Breakfast was a convivial affair on the sheltered verandah, plenty of space for all of us and a rather pleasant setting.
 My breakfast for R55 was pretty good, two eggs, two sausage, bacon, tomato, toast and coffee and it went down rather well. They managed to serve the crowd in a relatively short time and the food was still warm so I would have no hesitation in going back there.
 Soon it was time to leave, here's Mercia on her Bandit - note the barely legal number plate, that one wouldn't get picked up by the overhead cameras on the speed trap gantries!
Noisily the bikers peeled out into the quiet Sunday morning street, briefy disturbing the peace as they accelerated en masse back towards the R27 and across to Yzerfontien where another beer beckoned at the Sports Club.
 I had one more beer with my friends and then it was time for me to head back, collect Janet from work and go cook some barnacles that I had collected during harvesting operations on Friday.
I'm having a seafood braai soon and I am experimenting with dishes to serve to my friends, this is one of them, the barnacles occur on the mussel farm only about once a year and usually they do not get the chance to grow to a decent size after settlement, this year things seem to have coincided perfectly and they are pretty big.
 There's the tasty bit, they are a bit fiddly and awkward to eat but absolutely delicious and well worth the trouble.
I even managed to get Janet to try one and she enjoyed it although one was enough! Keep reading and I'll tell you how the braai day goes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New rubber for the baby, food and pool

There has been a dearth of riding opportunities of late, nothing specific just various things conspiring to keep me off the bike. Generally the weather has been fantastic but a lot of times we have had to use the bakkie (pick-up) because we've had to carry a load or shop for things that were too big for the bike. The last occasion was a trip down to Capetown where we bought a couple of camping chairs and a twelve bottle case of our favourite weekend libation; JC LeRoux sparkling Suvignon Blanc the elixir of the early morning spa bath.
Just last weekend we were invited to a braai at friends Rene' and Bronx, they live in Durbanville which is a lovely road trip of some two hours distant and I started looking forward to some two wheel time. Come the day, a bright sunny and calm one ideal for a nice ride but unfortuantely in my "pre-flight" checks I noticed that the back tyre was looking a bit dodgy, spinning the wheel I found an area where the rubber was just staring to shred a little. In utter dismay I informed Janet that we would have to travel by car, damn!
We had a very pleasant weekend, a good braai and nice people but I missed out on a good ride - organise new rubber soonest!
Thursday an opportunity to ride through to Vredenburg arose and I phoned my friend Terence at the Bike Tyre Centre, "Yes come through I've got some nice tyres for you."
He recommended "Shinko" dual compounds, hard middle soft sides for touring bikes so I decided to try them, Terence also advised me to replace the front before any more long trips and as I'm going to a rally in Gansbaai in two weeks time I thought it better to change the front as well. The price was very reasonable at R2,700 for both so I'll see how they feel on the breakfast run with the Meeulanders on Sunday.

On the braai side of things I have been experimenting for an upcoming Seafood day that we are having, one of my trials that came out rather well was "Fish balls", (I'll bet you didn't know that fish had them?!)
I managed to get some fresh "Jacopever" from the local fish shop, de-boned, shredded, seasoned and mixed with an equal amount of mashed potatoes, then rolled into small balls and into egg, rolled in bread crumbs then into the deep fryer for a minute or two. They were as good as they look here, my friends are going to enjoy them.
For our dinner I prepared some "skewered" prawns brushed with lemon, butter, garlic sauce which we ate with Janet's excellent savoury rice, a bloody good meal.
My weekend started off well as usual with our Friday afternoon pool games at the "Rooikraans Pub", most of the time it is just me and Frank but these past two occasions have seen a good and rowdy group of biker friends joining in. What a pleasant way to spend a Friday afternoon, I love the bullshit and banter and of course the pool games, the afternoon sets me up for the weekend and I am always very disappointed if for some reason we cannot get together.
I have some rides coming up, as I said I'm going to join the locals for a breakfast run on Sunday, Janet has work to catch up on so I will drop her off on the way and collect her afterwards, we're going to Darling so it's only a short run but it should be good.
Then on Friday 14th February I'm going to the "Freedom Road" Rally in Gansbaai, this is the rally run by the Christian Motorcycle Association which used to be held in Stillbay, I think this is the second year at the new venue which is not as far so we'll see what that is like, there's a good crowd of local bikers going, something to look forward to and I'll keep you posted.