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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 5 of 21 days in quaratine

I had to take the garbage out this morning, what excitement! As I wheeled the bin out I saw a neighbour about five houses down doing the same and we waved to each other, then the guy directly across the road came out and I shouted "Good morning" to him, he called "Morning, morning." back and I retreated into the sanctuary of my own home, wow! Excitement at the social contact welling in my chest.

Janet and I had a serious discussion this morning about our wine stock. After making calculations based on the empties that went out with the garbage we will run out before the 17th April if we carry on imbibing at our current rate! Unfortunately alcohol is not considered a necessity so during lockdown we cannot buy more, we are going to try and reduce our consumption to two glasses per night at dinner time. Let's see how that goes, I'm not very confident but as I said we have beer and whisky. I think when the bottle stores re open the queue will be longer than it was on the day before the lockdown!

Bikers on social media are calling for a 30 second engine rev at 16h00 today to show our solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus, I am in two minds about this, on the one hand I'm happy to start my bike up for the battery's sake and I will rev it but on the other hand us bikers already get on Joe Public's nerves with noisy antics. They will not have read about why this is happening because it has been passed around all the biker pages which they do not read, so as far as they are concerned it will just be "those bloody bikers making a noise again!" We'll see what dominates the pages later and in the morning.

A far more appealing notice went out a little while ago; Cimarron MCC in Capetown has suggested a National biker braai day on Saturday 4th April, we will braai in our own backyards and take selfies at our braai wearing our colours which we can post later on facebook. We will definitely take part in this, we enjoy a braai anyway.

The day has passed quietly but we read with dismay and a twinge of trepidation that one coronavirus death has taken place in the Saldanha Bay area. Stay in your homes people.

I was going through my old photographs, scanning and downloading from old albums so I thought I would post a few here. These are from my time in the BSAPolice force in  the then Rhodesia, which incidentally at that time was the breadbasket of the African continent and which now is Zimbabwe, the basket case. I digress, this is where my love of motorcycles began;
In those days the girls wore mini skirts
Two Traffic Department Constables on Yamaha RD350s
Motorcycle escort with BSA 650s
Patrol Officer and Constable

My late friend Paul Weinel on the Matchless 500

District Policeman at base camp on patrol
Those were the days and I am proud to have served in one of the best Police forces in the world.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Day 4 of 21 days in quarantine

There are so many conflicting reports, advice messages and news items on the corona virus going around at the moment that it is difficult to know what to do. Today I watched a video by a young Czech woman who recommends the continual use of face masks by everyone when out in public, which she says they have been doing all the time and the virus has not been able to gain a foothold because of this. Doctors report that a face mask is unnecessary unless you are infected or you are in direct contact with people who have been infected, such as Doctors and Nurses etc., what to do?

I have been doing some reading, after all I have the time. Here are some interesting excerpts;

The first is from an interview in Globes on 22nd March (just the other day), Dr. Yoram Lass, an Israeli physician, former Director General of the Health Ministry and also associate Dean of the Tel Aviv University Medical School;

"Italy is known for its enormous morbidity in respiratory problems, more than three times any other European country. In the US about 40,000 people die in a regular flu season and so far 40 - 50 people have died of the coronavirus, most of them in a nursing home in Washington."

"In every country more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from coronavirus"

"There is a very good example that we all forget: The Swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that originated in Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. But what? At that time there was no facebook or there maybe was but it was in its infancy. The coronavirus, in contrast is a virus with public relations."

"Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong."

The first sentence refers to Italy's major problem but apparently the air pollution in, particularly the north is as bad as China, I wasn't aware of this.
The next is from an article in the Washington Post on 21st March; "Facing Covid-19 reality; a national lockdown is no cure" by Michael T. Osterholm, regents professor and director of the center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota;

"Consider the effects of shutting down offices, schools, transport systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the dole. The likely result would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown with countless permanently lost jobs, long before a vaccine is ready or natural immunity takes hold."

"The best alternative will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, keeping business and manufacturing operating and run society, while at the same time advising higher risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing and ramping up our healthcare capacity as aggresively as possible. With this battle plan we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structures on which our lives are based."

I don't know what to think, these people obviously know what they are talking about, were people like this consulted? Food for thought.

I haven't needed to leave the house yet although I must admit to a bit of "cabin fever".  Sorry about the boring posts, tomorrow I will post about motorbikes. I have to put the garbage out tomorrow morning, there's something to look forward to - what shall I wear?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 3 of 21 days in quarantine

It has been a quiet day, we had a good lunch; roast pork belly with gravy, mash and peas and there's a lot leftover for another couple of meals. I'm going to put on weight that's for sure.

I'm worried my wine is not going to last. I also doubt that 21 days will be enough to "flatten the curve", I fear that the lockdown will be extended. They will have to open the bottle stores to let us re stock otherwise there will be big trouble. I haven't been out of the house yet and I don't plan to go unless it's absolutely necessary, from news items it seems like there's a large part of the population that is not taking this lockdown seriously, whether from bravado, ignorance or socio-economic circumstance it is bound to have a negative effect.

It's difficult to grasp the enormity of this pandemic, the whole planet is affected. Italy will apparently lose fifty percent of its population and no matter how we come out of this THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.  We could die from this.

I try not to be negative, I pray for my family and my friends and I eagerly await a return to normalcy. This is a bit of a negative post, let's see how it goes tomorrow. Stay safe, take care because we care.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 2 of 21 days in quarantine

I slept like a log last night and only woke up at 07h30, that's very unusual for me I'm not normally a heavy sleeper and I wake up usually before 06h00. Lately I have been sleeping better and waking later and this I attribute to the cannabis oil I'm taking at night, amazing stuff and hopefully the dreaded corona virus also hates it.

It's only day 2 ! When you go on holiday for three weeks the time flashes by!

We went outside at 20h00 to go and clap and cheer for first responders after reading a post requesting this gesture of appreciation from everyone. We applauded briefly but apart from another couple across the street, who didn't applaud we were alone out there so I doubt whether any of the first responders heard us - thanks anyway guys and girls.

I think I heard one car going past our house during the day, it is extremely quiet. I read about people out on the streets getting confronted by Police and the occasional mini-brain jogger or dog walker getting sent home. It sounds like in general, with some small exceptions that people are adhering to the lockdown.

This is going to get boring and the scary thing is that it very well might be extended beyond April 16th. We were supposed to be out of the house by the end of April but we have now extended it to the end of May because although we have sent all the furniture that will accompany us overseas to storage there is still a lot that must be sold or donated. This can only happen when people can move freely around.

We're drinking our first glass of wine for the day, it's now 17h00 although as it is Saturday we did have two beers at lunchtime. I must monitor what we are drinking and calculate if our stocks are going to last otherwise Janet might have to go on rations.

We are going through very unusual times right now, this quarantine is weird. I am quite used to being at home having been retired for over three years but the fact that I cannot go out is worrying, I cannot get on the bike and go for a ride and at the moment the weather is perfect for that. It's scary and I must confess to a feeling of apprehension, I've never felt this way before and I don't like it.

The Chinese have a lot to answer for and they should be shunned by the international community, at the moment they are starting their factories and businesses up and are profiting from the virus that they unleashed on the world. They are manufacturing masks and gloves and even ventilators when back in June last year they knew of the virus but withheld the information from the WHO so as not to damage their economy. They only reported it eventually in November when their own medical professionals insisted. I am so angry right now.

Another thing is that we have missed our monthly Book club run, our club meeting and we will miss the April breakfast run, I will not have the bike for much longer so I need a couple more rides.

Stay safe, stay home and let's get through this.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 1 of 21 days in quarantine

It was eerily quiet this morning, we are obviously accustomed to the background hum of early morning traffic as people head to work, this morning it was conspicuous by its absence. All I could hear was the ever present Christmas beetle buzz of my own tinnitus.

Because the removal company was here on Monday to take away all of the "stuff" that will eventually accompany us overseas our house is mostly empty, two bedrooms are now empty as is my pub which was the centre of our daily existence really, I don't mean that we drank all day but we often sat there or out on the back veranda. Now the rooms echo with memories of all the parties and braai gatherings that we have had over the past 25 years, it's surreal and it adds to the sombre feeling that pervades the town "We could die from this!"  Not that we are negative, nothing could be further from the truth but it is there in the background.
I try to eat well but I know I eat too well, this was my lunch. I bought a packet of six harders from Charlie's fish shop so I have another two meals like this in the deep freeze, I will have them soon, don't want to leave them frozen too long. We eat twice a day, always have done, Janet eats a lot lighter than me, usually fruit and cheese. I grilled these harders and ate them with fresh brown bread and they were absolutely delicious. They are bony but that doesn't bother me, the flavour is well worth the trouble.

We have our first drink at 17h00 and we collaborate on the evening meal which is usually around 19h00 and that's a proper meal. Ever since we were both working that has been our habit, I was out on the sea every day so I would eat a packed meal at 10h00 when we stopped for a break, usually a sandwich with a piece of leftover meat from the previous evening meal.

I am determined to stay at home the whole three weeks, I think that we have enough to do this except that the wine may not last! It could get serious but we cannot buy booze anyway so it may be a good thing, we'll empty all the half and quarter bottles of things like Pernod, Buchu, Witblitz and Peppermint Schnapps that have been there ever since we used to entertain visiting aquaculture students on their annual field outings.

I would have been at the Phoenix bar by now playing pool with my mates, Friday afternoon was always pool day, I'm going to miss the pub. 
Just had a chat with my old riding buddy Frank, he's fine and he sounds much better lately after going through a difficult period healthwise. He lives alone in Vredenburg but he is surrounded by people who love him and care about him. We will keep in  touch by phone, he does not have internet or whatsapp which seems strange in this technological age but he says "What the hell am I going to do with internet? I wouldn't know how to use it." I can't imagine being without it.

It is a fantastic day and riding on these (mostly) empty roads would be wonderful! Ah well it can wait, stay healthy, stay happy and stay at home.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day 01, the day before official quarantine, apocalypse prepping

Thursday 26th March 2020, tonight our enforced quarantine begins; "Lockdown" an ominous word and we are told that it will be strictly enforced by Police, Traffic department and assisted by the army. Our intention is to stay at home for the entire 21 days even though allowances are being made for people to buy groceries and urgent medical supplies. We have a few supplies and I tried to make sure that we have enough beer, wine and whisky because those items are not classified as essential - can you believe that?!

On Tuesday I got on the bike to go for a ride, I went in search of some wine and managed to secure two 5ltr box wines to add to my stocks after which I rode through to Hopefield via Velddrif to buy some frozen free range chicken from Hope farms. It really was a pleasant ride and I was happy to be out there.
Derelict building on the road to Hopefield
Lovely day for it, very little traffic

We've been making and freezing "Apocalypse food", cheap but good food that goes a long way with pasta etc. The first one we did was brawn made with pig's heads;

We bought three pig's heads already chopped up, bones teeth and all (with ears) and I sliced some of the skin off with which Janet makes lovely "pork scratchings", a lovely crunchy snack.
Janet makes lovely pork scratching

Everything went into a big pot with chopped veggies to simmer for several hours after which Janet strained the bones and teeth out and got four molded brawn loaves. We used one of the loaves to make a pasta sauce, it was outstanding with a delicious "offal" flavour which I understand is not to everyone's taste but we love it. Three "loaves" which will make four meals each have been frozen.

Next was another favourite made with chicken hearts, giblets and necks which also goes a long way;
Chicken hearts, I trim the bit of fat and the veins off

Chicken giblets, trim the bitter green part off
Chicken necks, just as they are

This is then fried up to brown it after which Janet makes a rich, spicy sauce which goes extremely well with pasta. This also makes several portions which will be frozen, less than R10 per meal. We'll survive, we're Africans, we're a tough breed.

I nipped into town today to get another case of beer just in case and the town is crowded, the pavements and streets full of jostling hordes of last-minute shoppers. The ATM queues extending along the pavements. I was uneasy there, it was the first time I have ever felt like that but this damn social media has induced a feeling of panic, of impending doom and the corona virus was hanging green in the air waiting to pounce. I bought my case of beer and rushed back to the safety of my home where I will now stay.

I feel sorry for those who are not going to be comfortable or who do not have a place to spend the quarantine period, what of those living in crowded squatter camps who are unable to maintain any form of social distancing. Thank goodness I have my internet otherwise I would go crazy - oh and just because we're on this enforced home stay does not mean we will change our drinking habits, we only have a couple of drinks after 17h00.  (to quote Alan Jackson ~"It's five o'clock somewhere."~

We will maintain a positive mental attitude and hope and pray that the three week quarantine period is enough to "flatten the curve".  Stay safe, stay indoors and be well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Farewell event for Willie and Antoinette

For many years now this blog has been mostly about the Meeulanders Motorcycle Club, of which we have been proud members and of which for the past three and a half years I was the President. If you have been reading this you will have seen the recent election and installation of my brother Anton as the new President.

Unfortunately Janet and I will be leaving the club in a couple of months as we are relocating overseas, but more about that in a later blog. This story concerns Willie and Antoinette who have been members for the past twelve years and who are leaving the west coast to live in Capetown and so have resigned from the club. Janet and I had been planning a seafood(ish) day for the club at our house so Anton suggested we combine it with a farewell for the two of them - excellent idea!

By the time we got started on Sunday there were 26 members present, most of the club and the first course was fresh oysters from the cold, nutrient-rich waters of our own Saldanha Bay. They were delicious and were followed closely by fresh mussels steamed in wine and lemon juice.

While (almost) everyone was tucking into those, (three or four didn't eat that) I got busy with the fresh "harders", a small local mullet which is caught in "trek" nets in the bay. Not everyone likes these, they are very bony but they are delicious and are worth the effort of eating around the bones, I love them.

We were lucky in that it wasn't as hot a day as we have had lately, there was a cooling breeze so people were able to sit outside. Next came the mains;

Potato salad, pasta salad and three-bean salad, home made bread, roasted chicken wings for those not so keen on fish, smoked Angel fish and deep fried crumbed prawns. It really was a good meal and everyone tucked in. (Note; It's worth clicking on that picture just to get a look at the food!) After we had all had enough to eat the party continued and then Anton called the mob together to say a few words for Willie and Antoinette.

He called upon me to contribute too, for which I was very appreciative, having been President a short while ago and then he presented them with a memento of the club which had been made for them by our own resident artist; Murray Harris.

On the back are listed the names of all of the members, go well Willie and Antoinette.
After that it was time for a group photo and here is the happy mob of fantastic people.

Willie with Frank
It had been a great afternoon, Willie and Antoinette got a lovely send-off and the members had an enjoyable get together. I'm sure that this will have been the last function that we will cater at this house so I'm glad it was a club event.
I have posted all of the photos of the day on my facebook site; "Braais, beers and bikes" so if you would like to see them go take a look. To see the pictures full size, click on them.

Monday, March 2, 2020

March Breakfast run and it was a hot one!

Cruising north along the R27 from Darling at around 13h00 I was looking through sweat-blinded eyes at my temperature readout; 36Celsius (97f) my tee shirt was sticking to me under my jacket, sweat coursing down my back. We turned off heading down to Langebaan, still hot, turned onto the bypass road and as we crested the hill and looked down onto the beautiful blue lagoon we rode into a cool breeze and within minutes the temperature had dropped by an amazing 10 degrees.
I'm getting ahead of myself, we met at Juffroushoogte early Sunday morning, the intention was to ride a bit earlier to beat the heat but that didn't happen, the heat was relentless and even as we headed out along the R45 at that time of the day it pressed down upon us like a down duvet with the promise of more to come. Still great to be out on the bike though.

Eight bikes, fourteen members and two visitors with Cactus Jack bringing up the rear in his air conditioned car which was to become a source of envy a little later. Interim destination the service station in Malmesbury where we would smoke, refuel and have a tea break.

It was a pleasure to park in the shade, remove jackets for a while though there was still no breeze to speak of.
Gerda and Cactus Jack pouring tea

We were there for perhaps half an hour and then it was time to get back into the heat and there in Malmesbury it was even more oppressive, the only thing to do is get moving and generate some wind of your own.
Back down the N7
and onto the R315

Just as hot riding the R315 but it's a more interesting road that winds and undulates its way through the pale, dry wheatfields, cars and several other bikes approach through the shimmering heat haze. We raise hands in greeting to the other bikers, acknowledging the brotherhood but perhaps also the fact that they were prepared to ride on such a day as well.

Soon the little Hamlet of Darling was in sight, home to Pieter Dirk Uys and his famous alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout, also the home of Darling Brewery the brewers of craft beer of which I am not too keen anyway. We parked the bikes in the small parking area behind Brig's Barn, a little eatery that we have frequented several times in the past. They offered us the veranda but we found it to be cooler inside, the air conditioner was working overtime and barely coping but the beers when they arrived were nice and cold, the first one did not even touch sides as the frosty ambrosia soothed not only my parched throat. Another one followed shortly after and I started feeling better.

The drinks and the food took a while, the single waitress assigned to us was kept busy, my breakfast was good but quite pricy at R90 and I was so hungry by the time it arrived I forgot to photograph it. Both Anton and Cactus Jack had "three egg omelettes" which were so small they considered them to be starter portions, not one of the better breakfast experiences.

Time to go, we decided to head down to the R27 and then stop for an A.B.F at the Pirate's bar and that's where I started this story. Some of the group gave this place a miss and headed on home.
Gerda, Roleyn and Cactus Jack
Rinette (First lady) and Anton (Pres)

We spent a very pleasant hour or so there. When we all left to go home I ended up behind Murray and Laureen who also headed into our town, when I stayed behind them to find out what they were doing they led us to the Captain's Cabin for another dop (or two).

I am really going to miss these wonderful people, this family - I love them all and I especially enjoy these breakfast runs with them.

I have posted many more photos on my facebook page of the same name, should you be interested please have a look there.