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, March 29, 2018

Back in sunny South Africa

We're home! An overnight change in temperature from 3 Celsius to 27 took a bit of getting used to and our flight was delayed for four hours. By the time we got home there wasn't much of Sunday left and on Monday we were both pretty useless, didn't do much at all. It didn't take us long to get back into the swing of things though and I went and collected my bike from my friends house.
We have been for one ride around so far, just to get back into how it feels and it felt wonderful. We have also managed to have a couple of braais, a very important part of life here in sunny SA.
 Nothing much has changed politically here it seems, there is still much racial hate speech coming from sectors of the ANC Government and the EFF party but countries like USA and Belgium have taken notice and are making noises about sanctions and withdrawal of financial support and Australia are offering to take in South African farmers. Interesting times ahead, South African farmers are a tough and productive lot and if they went it would be South Africa's loss but definitely Australia's gain and it wouldn't take long before this country went the way of Zimbabwe.
I love Africa, I love South Africa and I want to stay here. I wish for peace and prosperity for all in this beautiful country.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Iconic Ace Cafe visited, another "bucket list" item crossed off

Just a week to go until we're due to head home and Janet was feeling the effects of a bout of 'flu, "I'm going to stay home and keep warm, you go." she said and I didn't need any more encouragement, I had "googled" my destination; Ace Cafe and found that it was only an hour's drive.
If you're a biker like me, chances are you have heard of the Ace Cafe and I was dead keen to visit and immerse myself in the history of the place. It started in 1938 as a transport cafe but with the advent of the motorcycle culture in the '50s and '60s it became a notable venue in Motorcycle culture, especially withe the then popular "Rockers".
Young men would strip their bikes of all "non-essential" accessories and parts and do tune-ups to try and get the magical 100mph or "the ton" and from there the term "Ton-up boys" originated, they would race their stripped down bikes from Cafe to Cafe on the ring road and there also was derived the name "Cafe Racer" which is still used today.
The Ace Cafe carried on the same until 1969 when it closed down but re-opened in the original site in 1997.
In 1959 Father John Oates founded the 59 Club as a youth club and after a visit to the then notorious Ace Cafe and a meeting with the "Ton Up Kids" the 59 Club was formed and thousands of young motorcyclists joined, the club continues to this day and is supported by the Ace Cafe to the extent that the cafe provides full support, membership administration, regalia and other areas of Ace expertise.
There is a lovely display of typical Brit-bike Cafe Racers on display inside.
It's a busy cafe, I was there on Tuesday but there were still ten or twelve bikes parked outside and a lot of tourists (non-bikers) visiting too, there is a souvenir shop where I purchased a couple of cloth badges for my leather vest to show I'd been there.
The food was bloody good too, this was my pork spare ribs which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Ace Cafe seems to be going in the right direction with many organised bike and car events on a regular basis and I was really happy that I had had the opportunity to visit that historic place.
We're heading back to South Africa on the weekend so my next post will be from there, I still have a lot of photos that I haven't shown you yet, Castles and old churches, pubs and food, snow and rain and beers and wine but I will do some more posts. I'll be back with my club soon so there will be more of those photos too, stay safe people.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum

Started by Sammy Miller MBE, 11 times British Champion and winner of over 1400 events including trials and road racing, the museum is situated in the beautiful New Forest area of New Milton in Hampshire. As can be expected it is a gathering place for bikers from all over the country, and indeed the world as can be seen in the visitor's book - and now they have had a visit from a biker from the western cape, South Africa!
The Museum holds over 460 motorcycles, both rare and classic including a wonderful collection of  Nortons and is apparently the home of one of the finest collections of fully restored motorcycles in the world, almost every motorcycle is in full running order.

The museum is laid out in clean and tidy consecutive rooms and as you would imagine it takes a good couple of hours to take it all in, in fact rather a couple of visits would be better, a luxury that I did not have.

There are no modern bikes on display although there are some fairly recent classics such as this beautiful Honda CBX;

and this iconic Suzuki Katana 1100, both highly desirable motorcycles.

Move through to another room and you'll see fabulously restored bikes such as this Vincent Black Shadow or the BSA Bantam.

On the left is the Bultaco Sherpa T designed and developed by Sammy Miller who won every major trial and championship on it including the Scottish 6 day trials, the British Expert trials and the Scott trials in 1968. On the right is the 250cc N.S.U. Sport Max with full fairing which he rode to 2nd place in the Ulster GrandPrix of 1955 and '56, to first place in the North West 200 in '55, '56 and '57 and over 35 Irish road race victories, so as you can see, the man knew his racing!
I spent a happy couple of hours there taking it all in but I still had a two hour drive back to Dorking ahead of me so I had to call it a day, hopefully I will visit this fascinating place again someday because as they say; it is a living museum with knew machines being added all the time. If you're ever visiting the UK I would encourage you to add this museum to your list of must-see places.

I said farewell with a last loving look at the collection of Triumphs and BSAs, some of which I used to ride as a young man and headed for home.

I could not resist a brief stop for just the one beer in the White Swan in the centre of the New   Forest on the way, it had been a great day out, I programmed the GPS and followed her directions back to Dorking. Remember to click on the photos to see them full size.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A day out for petrolheads

For Christmas my son Simon, my son in law Andy and I received a wonderful gift from the family; a supercar driving experience with "Car Chase Heroes". From an extensive list of mouth watering supercars you choose three that you would like to drive then you take those cars out and do three laps of a small circuit set up at an airfield, very similar to the track on the TV series; Top Gear.
We had booked the day for Friday 9th March which was very fortunately after the huge storm; the Beast from the East had passed over. As it was it was a wet day as we headed towards the town of Cirencester and the Kemble airfield.
We were in time for a nice lunch (with only one beer each!) at another charming old pub called the Elliot Arms in Cirencester before finding the airfield. There was quite a large crowd of driving enthusiasts despite the rain and the cars were lined up waiting.

As you can see there were many cars available, I was careful to choose cars that I could still get into and out of with a degree of dignity so I decided not to drive the Ferari or the Lambourghini, both of which are too low and cramped for my rather large frame!

My son in law's first drive was in this lovely old Camaro SS whilst mine was in the fabulous "Barricade" Police Mustang, my first time driving a Mustang and a goal fulfilled, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The fact that it was left-hand drive wasn't an issue, it was automatic, extremely powerful and loads of fun. Three laps were over too quickly and I headed back to the pits a happy man.

My son's first drive was in this lovely old race-prepared Mustang whilst my second choice was the absolutely mind-blowing Nissan GTR. Incredibly fast with paddle gear change on the steering wheel I really pushed this one, especially since I now knew the track!
"Get outta my way, I'm coming through!"  

By mid afternoon we were pretty wet but all extremely happy, Simon and Andy both drove the Lambo and declared it amazing, my third drive was in the elegant and powerful Aston Martin Vantage.
Extremely powerful but very comfortable, a driver's car this was the only one with a "stick-shift" that I drove that afternoon, but I am used to that anyway so it was no problem. This was the only car that I actually slid a bit coming out of a fast corner. Again, three laps were over too quickly but it was an amazing experience.
It would be very difficult for me to say which of the three was my favourite because they were all so different and I loved them all. Perhaps if I had driven the Mustang last I would have had more confidence to push it a bit harder once I had track knowledge, as it was they all had their good points.
We drove home that evening happily comparing stories, the last ride of the day however was as a passenger in a fast car just to bring you back down to earth! We thought we were fast, but that guy was really fast!
Thanks to my wonderful family for a truly memorable gift and if I were a rich man I'm sure I would buy the Aston Martin, or would it be the GTR? Hang on, what about the Mustang? Oh well, back to my little Chev LUV.