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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Twelve years I've been writing this blog, now I'm closing it

On Monday this blog was twelve years old, my first post was on 1st June 2008. This month I'll be closing it down, if this is not the last post then whatever I write next will be. I've been battling with poor readership for years and have been on the verge of closing it before but have persisted, but now we're leaving home and hopefully with in the next couple of months we're leaving the country.

I have been very disheartened with poor pageviews. I average 23 views per post and I get very few comments so it seems like I'm wasting my time. Comments are one of the ways by which the blogger can assess whether he/she is doing a good job or not so if you don't get them you don't know.

We are moving to UK so I don't think this format will work and I think that there has been a shift over to video logs or "Vlogs", maybe I'll try my hand at that.

I am seriously going to miss this amazing bunch of people, my family; the members of the best bike club on the west coast (in my humble opinion) the Meeulanders. I haven't said goodbye to them yet and that's going to be a wrench. My brother Murray, bottom row kneeling right is the one who is buying my bike from me and I'm going to hand that over within the next couple of weeks. I was hoping for one more club ride at least but thanks to the damn Chinese that doesn't look like it's going to happen.
I am extremely grateful, privileged and proud to have been the President of this excellent club for over two years, that is a memory that I will cherish. 
I'm going to miss the characters and the friends at my favourite biker bar; the Phoenix where we played pool every Friday afternoon apart from attending the various biker jols which were held there, I wonder if I'm even going to get a chance to go back to the pub before we leave, it doesn't look like it.
Sad times coming up but also exciting times, a fresh start with our family in the UK. My intention is to buy another motorbike over there, whether that comes to pass we shall see. I am not finished with bikes yet. 

I am also particularly going to miss my old biking buddy, everyone's Uncle Frank. 
We go back a long way, had many adventures together. He and I traveled to many rallies together and became well known. If it happened that one of us went alone to a rally we would always get asked; "Where's your buddy?", people were so used to seeing us together.
 The ladies love Uncle Frank and so does he love the attention he gets from them, the ladies of the Meeulander MCC certainly look after him.
Before this ridiculous lockdown nonsense we used to have him over for dinner every Thursday night, we would sit out on my back veranda after dinner chatting and having a drink then the next day we would meet at the Phoenix for a couple of games of pool. It is going to be extremely difficult for me to say goodbye to him.

Of course I intend to stay in touch with the club via the facebook page and of course I will stay in touch with Frank via the telephone. (He is not online nor does he have whatsapp.)

Anyway that's it, I may have another post during this month but whatever happens I'm closing it at the end of the month. A big thank you to the few of you who have been reading this and to those of you who did post a comment every now and then. Cheers! Stay safe.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Braais, (no bloody) beers and (not much) bikes

Since the end of March when we went into this totally unnecessary and extremely harsh lockdown we have not been able to buy alcohol, now the Government has decided that as we have been good boys we will be able to buy alcohol again from Monday 1st June - hallelujah! I will not be going on Monday though, it will be chaos although maybe I'll go down there to get some photos.  Also I would like them to sell out of all their stale stock and get some fresh in. 

The smokers have evidently not behaved themselves and will continue to be punished by not being able to buy cigarettes or tobacco, they will no doubt continue to pay exorbitant prices on the black market. I am so happy that we gave up smoking more than 40 years ago, maybe I should have given up drinking as well? Nah. No names, no pack drill but the word is that a certain Government minister is involved in the illicit cigarette trade and is coining it while the ban lasts. I'm not surprised.

As far as biking is concerned I have managed a few local rides, mainly to go shopping and then taking a slightly longer route to get home and whilst this has been lovely I am desperately in need of a long ride before I hand my bike over to my brother Murray. Maybe soon.


These are not affected by the current state of affairs and we have had quite a few, the last one was on Sunday; yesterday and it was a very nice one. We sat out on the back veranda, the weather was very pleasant and I tried a new starter.

I carefully de-boned a nice little piece of Lamb flank which is not as difficult as you might think, I then liberally sprinkled and rubbed it with my own favourite combination of herbs and spices and braaied it over good hot coals. I love a braai, Janet and I sat drinking and chatting in the warm sunlight, she drank Lime juice and soda water and I was on a very biker/macho Peppermint liqueur and Soda.

Ya gotta get it crispy on the outside so hot coals and frequent turning, don't let it burn. It doesn't take long so I was soon slicing it up. More wood on the fire for the main course a bit later, ~"Put another log on the fire."~

Crispy outside, soft and moist on the inside and eaten with a favourite HOT sauce from West Coast Chili in Langebaan they were very nice. Certainly made for a good starter, we waited a little while before we started with the mains.

Pork chops and boerewors on the braai and Janet did the sides; Potatoes, egg mayonnaise salad, a miellie and some tomato. A very loaded plate but for a Sunday lunch I handled it like a big boy.

Snoek/fish Cakes;
The other day I told you that I make fish cakes out of leftover Snoek, well here they are;
I flake the fish very small, diligently de-bone it, weigh it and then mix it into an equal quantity of mashed potatoes. Add herbs and ground pepper and this time I threw in a good handful of grated cheese. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed, shape into patties, dip in flour, whisked egg and then breadcrumbs and set in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Shallow fry, I love these and make them whenever I can. This simple recipe works with most types of fish, I haven't tried it with Hake because there's not much flavour there but it should work fine.

We will have a few more braais in this house, we have to be out by the end of June. See ya!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A lucky find and a new beast waits to be unleashed

Remember how I told you that we're down to drinking leftovers in the booze cabinet because bottle stores have been closed since the end of March? Why "they" decided that people should not be allowed to drink or smoke during lockdown is anyone's guess. We do have our suspicions about the cigarette ruling though, about officials involved with the black market trade in cigarettes making a fortune but we don't smoke and as this is not a political blog I will avoid that topic.

I digress, I have been drinking Schnapps, lemon juice and soda water because that's what we have, it's acceptable but not very nice so I don't drink much at all. This is quite novel for me, not drinking much I must say. Anyway the other evening I was contemplating not even bothering when suddenly a light bulb flashed on above my head! I jumped out of the chair and rushed through to the cupboard, in my bike jacket pocket I found my hip flask full of whisky!

What a happy boy! This presented a  quandary; do I have four doubles or eight singles? I settled for and thoroughly enjoyed four double tots with ice. That was just the one evening though, the next night it was back to the other stuff. I am now on a three quarter bottle of Butlers Triple Sec with ice and soda water and it is actually better than the Scnapps but a bit sweet. We're made of stern stuff though, we'll tough it out.

Earlier in the week we received a photo on the whatsapp group, our President had been down to Capetown to collect his new motorbike, just look at this;

Triumph Rocket 3 TFC (Triumph Factory Custom) One of only two coming to South Africa it is number 379 of 750 that were made, what a beauty; 2500cc of brute power. I believe that the new model Rocket 3 2500 is already also on sale here.

Poor Anton must be absolutely dying to get this beast out onto the road but during our harsh lockdown recreational travel is prohibited. I am looking forward to seeing this machine in the flesh, so to speak.

That's all for now, we have to wait until Wednesday to see if our home brew red wine is going to be palatable, eager anticipation. In the meantime I have bought another Snoek so that's what we will be doing tomorrow, having a braai - with lousy drinks!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

I'm so tired of this!

I'm so tired of this!
I can't even remember what day of quarantine this is and quite frankly I couldn't give a shit damn.
I'm tired of reading Covid-19 posts on social media because they're all bullshit, you read one that gives you hope and then within a day some other "expert" is telling you something else that dashes your hopes. I'm going with the one that told me this lockdown was a huge mistake and that very soon I'll be able to go and buy some wine and some whisky.

Speaking of whisky my brother Murray lent me a bottle of Vat 69 and Frank gave me a bottle of wine for Janet. Thanks my brothers, you smoothed my path. The Whisky is nearly finished, I have been measuring strict tots and have enjoyed it immensely. We have finished off two almost full bottles of Peach Schnapps which have been in the booze cupboard for heaven knows how long. We mix it with a dash of lemon juice and soda water and it is quite pleasant, there is half a bottle of Peppermint schnapps to follow and then I'm not sure how we're going to drink what's left; 

Here's what's left; the small bottle on the left is "Sobieski", with a tot of whisky liqueur left which is nice, I'll flatten that soon. Next to that is "Butlers Triple Sec", not sure about that one we will experiment. The long bottle, number three is foreign and very harsh, I don't even think Coke will help that one. Then there is a "Buchu" liqueur, also not very nice but maybe an acquired taste, half a bottle. Then a dash of Pernod which I have mostly used to make sauce in my seafood dishes for a prawn or calamari starter. The last one is an almost full Peppermint liqueur, which is nice in shooters like "Springbokkies" but I'm not sure how else we'll drink it. "Beggars can't be choosers" as the saying goes. These bottles have been in the cupboard for years and I have no idea where most of them came from.

My attempt at homemade red wine didn't work out. 😖 Apparently the yeast was too old, it was dead. I bought a fresh one and added it but still nothing happened, now we're thinking that maybe the container wasn't properly cleaned. I have bought a new container but we just have to do something with the water in it so I'll let you know what happens there later. (Maybe drink it?)

Yesterday (Friday) evening we had another club drink at 18h00 although I had to toast with Amarula which is a bit girly because my Jagermeister is finished. Club spirit is still high and everyone seems to be in good health, all we need is to get together in real life for a breakfast run or something.

We've had a nice couple of braais, had a good one today with my last portion of lamb's tails as a starter, I shall look out for more of those, very nice.

I braaied Pork neck steaks and boerewors for main course along with a miellie, some Gem Squash and a couple of small potatoes. A nice meal, we've been braaing quite a bit as the weather has been so nice you either have to go for a ride or have a braai. Here's a picture of my lunch, sorry but I don't have anything else to show you;

I've ordered another Snoek which will be delivered tomorrow so that will be the next braai with again fish cakes for one meal and Smoorsnoek for another. For my few foreign readers Smoorsnoek is a tasty dish made with leftovers, a very basic method (there are plenty of recipes as this fish is a west coast staple and has been eaten here for centuries) is to fry onions until soft, add chopped potatoes and fry until soft than add the flaked snoek, stir in to warm through and it's ready, just serve on rice and add a good pat of butter, simple but delicious. 

I can't seem to find a non copyright picture but if you are interested in what the fish looks like just google "Thyrsites Atun"

Right what have we got to look forward to this week? More episodes of The Walking Dead, oh yes and I'll take a ride though to the Mall on Wednesday, weekly shopping and I'll see if I can add in some extra k's if there's no cops around. Wow exciting!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Day 34 of 35 days in quarantine

Friday we are going from level 5 to level 4 lockdown, I don't think it is going to make a lot of difference to us. Everyone has to wear a mask when out of the house or in the shops etc., it looks like cigarettes will be on sale but still no alcohol. There will be no recreational travel allowed and a curfew between 20h00 and 05h00 will be in effect, draconian measures limiting our freedom, measures which may even be unnecessary but what can we do?

Along with a great many other people we are now trying out a wine recipe; two cups of white sugar, four litres of pure red grape juice and one packet (10 grams) of yeast. Shake it well until the sugar has dissolved and leave it to stand with a loose top for at least one week. We have no idea what it tastes like but I got the recipe online, it's worth a try - next week I'll let you know.

This Chinese virus has has really set us back, the people who are buying our house are trying to sell their house in Capetown before they can do anything. All of the furniture, clothing, ornaments, books etc. that we are taking with us overseas have been packed and removed so we are living in a mostly empty house but there's nothing we can do. We will have to start paying for the storage from May.

I have to sell the furniture, kitchenware and other items that remain but I can't do that yet because people are not able to come and buy, lots of things have been booked but we must wait, On top of all of this our British passports expire in September so if we cannot travel before then we have to go through the hassle of renewing our passports. Damn the Chinese!

At least we can still go shopping for essentials and I have been a couple of times on the bike, I went this morning in absolutely beautiful weather and managed to add an extra twenty or so kilometers to my trip home by going the long way. I really am hoping for just one more ride with my club before I hand the bike over to Murray, once we are allowed to ride he's going to want it and I won't blame him.

Crazy times we are going through. Stay safe everyone.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Day 32 of 35 days in quarantine

So three days to go and then they are apparently going to start phasing out the lockdown so that we can slowly get back to normal, I don't think it's going to affect us much yet, we still won't be able to buy booze and recreational travel is still prohibited. Luckily friends and family have helped out with the booze problem.

After complaining online about my booze predicament our Club Pres., Anton gave me a bottle of whisky and two other brothers; Gerrie and Murray offered me wine and whisky, that is what the brotherhood is all about, we take care of each other.

I managed to buy a nice big Snoek last week for R100 which I consider a bargain because we will get three meals out of it. It was delivered frozen to my house but had not been frozen for long. On the weekend we had a braai, I cannot remember the last time we had a Snoek braai and being a seafood lover I was in my element. I am not an expert, there are thousands of Snoek fans in the western cape alone but this is my favourite way of preparing it.

I lit my fire at about 11h00 because a Snoek does not take long to braai, so while that was burning I made my sauce. Snoek is a western cape favourite and there must be hundreds of different sauce recipes as well as methods of braaing, here is my favourite;

I start with a small amount of olive oil to which I add between 150 - 200g butter and the same amount of Smooth Apricot jam, melt the butter and jam and stir in a good tablespoon of crushed garlic, add the juice of half a lemon and a good spoon of parsley.  Stir, boil over medium heat until it reduces and thickens.

Paint the skin with the sauce to stop it sticking to the grid, I also eat the skin, then start braaing skin side down over medium coals. Liberally "slosh" the sauce over the top and when the skin is starting to blacken and you can see small cooking bubbles on the top then turn it over to darken the top.

I was in such a hurry to get started that I forgot to take a photo when it was ready! Here you can see that there is just light colouring of the top, the flesh is mostly white. - It's ready!

This is what I was waiting for, a piece of the backbone, my favourite starter!

Here's the meal; local Snoek lovers seeing this will probably all choose the same part of the fish; the stomach lining and belly fat so when there's a braai with a bunch of friends there's a fight for that and for the backbone starter. This time there was just the two of us and Janet's not that particular. I thoroughly enjoyed that meal, there was a lot left which I separated into two containers and froze. One will go to fish cakes and the other will go to "Smoorsnoek", I will tell you what that is when I make it.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day 28 of 35 days in quarantine

I'm experiencing cabin fever, the trouble is this damn virus, because of its public relations makes me feel apprehensive when I go through to the shops. None of the other viruses that affected us; SARS, Ebola, Swine flu etc., had the impact that this Chinese one has because they weren't promoted and publicized by self proclaimed experts on social media the way this one has been. You can't go on line without seeing all manner of contradictory messages and dire warnings of impending doom, take for example the way it started off with panic buying of toilet paper of all things, why? There are people who now sit with cupboards full of toilet paper, they won't have to buy for years! I'm tired of it, I want to ride my motorbike, I want to ride it now. As the old song goes.

With that in mind here are some photos from past rides to whet your appetite before the roads are opened up to us again, soon please Mr. President!

I'd even take a crappy weather ride now
At the start of Clarence drive

Eating wild rock oysters at Breede River lodge
Ten years ago now we took a couple of days off and rode down to Witsand, stayed a night in the Breede River lodge and ate rock oysters and fresh seafood. The weather was lousy at first but cleared by day three. Great ride.

Local bikers know this place very well, the "hole in the rock" between Ashton and Montagu built by Alfred Bain who was responsible for several mountain passes in the Western Cape. The road and the tunnel through the Kalkoenkraanz was opened in 1877. Just above it is the old blockhouse built by the British during the Anglo/Boer war.

It's a beautiful area, I love riding there. Since these photos were taken there has been extensive roadworks which I am sure will greatly improve the ride between Ashton and Montagu, I can't wait to go and have a look.

This one is from a different part of the Province, this is between Piketberg and Eendekuil and I cannot resist a picture with a derelict building. Lovely riding area this is too.

This is the R44 coming down from Porterville back to Piketberg, we have ridden this many times, western cape bikers will know it well, our annual "Polar Bear run" has been in Porterville for the past five years and this is the way home on Sunday with a hangover.

This happens quite often, after a nice lunch and a couple of glasses of wine Janet has a sleep, amongst bikers though this is not unusual, I know of lots of ladies who sleep on the back of the bike.

That's it, the ride is over. Let's get out there real soon. Our club members are dying for a ride and as soon as this lockdown is over we'll all be out there, see you on the road.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day 25 of 35 days in quarantine - and an old Freedom Road rally

Well here we are only (hopefully) ten days to go and since I last posted the wine's finished, the beer's finished, there's only half the whisky left and so we'll start scratching through the left overs. Otherwise we are both well and keeping our spirits up. (Excuse the pun!)

There's not much to report, I spend a lot of time on my computer and we binge watch Netflix and YouTube. I have thousands of photographs which I am sorting through, many of them are club photos which I am putting together and copying for the club before we go, that is keeping me busy. Almost ninety folders to be copied onto a stick which I will hand over to Gerrie.

Last Wednesday I went through to the mall near Vredenburg to do a bit of shopping at Pick 'n Pay, I went on the bike and it was wonderful! It's only roughly 20km round trip, I did extend it a bit on the way back but although I didn't see any Police checks I was hesitant to take chances. I blew the cobwebs out of the zorst on the way back and I really did not want to get off the bike, I so badly wanted to go shopping in Stellenbosch or Worcester or somewhere like that. I'm going again this Wednesday and I'm definitely going to extend the ride a bit. Lovely stuff, normally I hate going shopping!

As I said I have been sorting photos and here is a shout out to Jim and Daphne Barker who I know read this blog, they live in England but have been visiting South Africa almost annually for ages, they were here a couple of months ago and we chatted about the old rallies we attended together. They used to ride a lovely British Racing Green Triumph which he kept here.

Way back in 2007 we attended the Freedom Road rally in Stilbaai together, that was my first one but I went to quite a few after that including some in Struisbaai. We rode together, Jim and Daphne and I along with my old riding buddy Frank, they have all since stopped riding but those were the days. I particularly remember that Friday, fueling up at Ashton and then hitting the wonderful 46km stretch of the R60 to Swellendam on the N2. We blitzed along that winding, undulating piece of biker heaven, Jim and Daphne two up and loaded with kit could certainly ride. I had to slow him down as we neared Swellendam, warning him about the ever present traffic cops, it was an exhilarating ride and I felt the adrenaline rush subsiding as we waited for the others.

Braai time in the campsite after the tents had been set up, here's Jim and Daphne with another well known character from those days of weskus biking; Des whose introduction was "Hi my name's Des, what do you think of me so far?" That evening he announced that he was going to be the Naked Chef and dropped his rods but was prevented from going any further!


Jim and Frank go way back, long time friends
 Because the Freedom Road rally was under the auspices of the Christian Motorcycle Association there was no bar tent on site so a lot of the partying took place in various establishments around the town, we would then visit the bottle stores to take our preferred beverage into the campsite for the evening braai.

We had great times at those rallies and it was the memorable characters who took part that will keep those memories fresh. Thank you for the memories.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Sadza balls, worth writing about again

This is a food blog as well as a biking and beer blog and as the biking has been curtailed somewhat I will write a bit more about food. Also of concern is that fact that I have only four quarts of beer left, the wine is down to the last five litres, as well as one bottle of Merlot and one bottle of Pinotage Rose',  I have one bottle of whisky and then we're down to odds and sods in the cupboard. The last two weeks are going to be tough.

But I digress, I was talking about food. After the braai on Sunday we had quite a bit of sadza left over which we wrapped in clingwrap to stop it from developing a crust and put it in the fridge. We have a few recipes for left over sadza but by far the favourite is this one;

Roll the sadza into balls, push a block of cheddar cheese into the middle and then wrap with rindless, streaky bacon which you have first thinned out with the back of a knife. Pin the bacon in place with a toothpick. I also tried two long rolls with a long piece of cheese in the same manner.

Place on a grill tray under the grill until the bacon is cooked. If you have enough bacon you can use two slices on each because it does shrink while cooking.

Add salt, the cheese melts, the bacon fat soaks into the sadza, this stuff is so good for you, believe me you'll love it.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Day 18 of 35 days in quarantine

Halfway? I certainly hope so. I'm going shopping tomorrow morning, there's something to look forward to! Sad isn't it? Under normal circumstances I try to avoid going shopping. Will we ever get back to the old "normal" again? I think things are going to change.

Let me tell you about the braai we had yesterday, I haven't got anything else to talk about and it was a good one even if I do say so myself. I would have loved to have had a couple of mates around too though.

Cheers, happy Easter!
Fire on the go, ons gaan nou braai

I should have been smiling in that picture, but with concentrating on setting up the camera, getting back to my chair, picking up my glass and holding my stomach in I just didn't have time!
First on the coals some lamb's tails, with garlic, lemon pepper and rosemary and braaiied crispy.

These make a delicious starter which we had with our second last bottle of Fernskloof Pinotage Rose' which we bought a long time ago on one of our trips, I cannot remember exactly where we bought it but on the back label is it states;

"Fernskloof cellar is situated in the arid Prince Albert Valley. The name takes after a shady kloof that is abundant with beautiful ferns and stalactites. This has been the home of the Le Grange family for the past six generations. Our wish is that this wine will be an enjoyable experience for you. Here's to health and to all things significant and worth toiling over."

It certainly is a lovely wine, a medium dry rose', neither of us enjoy sweet wine. I know the Prince Albert Valley area having ridden there many times, I hope I get to go there again.
I built the fire back up and went to the kitchen to make up a batch of "Sadza", it is made with maize meal and elbow grease and was a Rhodesian staple, now Zimbabwean if they can get it. When I say "elbow grease" I mean that the traditional way of making it requires stirring small quantities of the powder at a time into boiling water until it gradually thickens up. You have to stir continuously while adding the meal as well as other flavouring, a good bit of salt and I also use Aromat spice. 

The idea is that the sadza is stiff enough to take a bit in your hand, roll it into a tight lump without it sticking to your hand, that is the test of a good sadza, and then you dip it into the gravy. We eat a bit like that before putting it on a plate, it is particularly good with boerewors and a tomato and onion relish, which is what we did.

 Karoo lamb chops on the coals and some nice local boerewors on the flame, time to eat.
The finished meal, a collaboration between us, clockwise from top; Karoo leg chop, pork and beef boerewors, bottom centre an egg/mayonnaise salad - a particular favourite of mine and bottom left the sadza doused with a tasty tomato and onion relish. It really was good, we love a braai and let me tell you that is not unusual here in South Africa, the braai is a way of life.

Cheers for now, stay home. If you want to see the pictures full size, click on them.