Repost: Braaiwood and Boogie’ing

One from 2007. I know, right?

The weekend has come and gone and this week brings the terrible realisation that with the start of the new school year comes the return of the traffic from hell. This trebles my journey time to and from work and serves as a reminder that I really need to win the lottery and buy that helicopter.

The abject depression that sitting in traffic can produce must be countered in some way. And that’s why we used this weekend to chill out and relax before reality kicked in. Saturday afternoon was spent next to the pool, braai’ing with friends. (Braai’ing, to the uninitiated, is what the rest of the world calls barbequing). The South African braai is a national institution – we even have National Braai Day here – and that’s why it is important for me to learn and follow the strict (yet unwritten) SA Braai Code if I am to fully integrate into this society.
No matter where you are in the world, braai’ing is a man’s job. Trying to get your average Saffa bloke to cook in the kitchen is like trying to get him to wear one of your daintiest dresses, pink fluffy slippers and lipstick, but there’s no separating him from his braai. And while other nations pile on the charcoal briquettes from their local petrol station, South African men stand for hours around braais and discuss which wood should be used on the fire. The traditional option is Rooikrans – alien to SA and therefore fair game for anyone to chop down and burn under some bits of sheep. But one of my visitors on the weekend was very excited to note that I was using dried vine wood.
“That stuff is great, hey – exceptional burning and great coals!”, he enthusiastically told me.
I nodded knowingly, despite the fact that I had bought it from the local petrol station in the sort of blind panic which only comes with finding that you have no braaiwood 10 minutes before your guests are arriving for a braai. I am the king of bluff.
“Have you tried Namibian Camelthorn?”, he asked.
I smiled and took a sip of my beer to give me thinking time.
“I haven’t, but I believe it burns forever?”, I ventured.
It was a good guess – this was more braaiwood talk – Camelthorn was not the latest beer to hit the market or some new designer drug. My guest was impressed. I am the king of bluff and the king of knowledge. It’s why I’m so successful at betway online sports betting.

The other thing I have to get used to is the fact that braai talk here is restricted to very few topics: rugby, cricket, kids (where applicable) and braaiwood.
Thou shalt not talk of music or women or football or beer. And that’s just a little bit bizarre as far as I’m concerned. Barbeques in the UK won’t even light without some mention of Kelly Brook and “that goal” from Thierry Henry on Wednesday night. That said, often they just don’t light because it’s raining.

Finally – meat. Australia has it’s prawns, England has its burgers and pork sausages, but here in SA you can braai anything. And basically, the bigger the chunks of flesh or the longer the boerewors that you stick over your Namibian Camelthorn, the better. Extra marks are awarded for the range of different meats you can braai simultaneously (without mixing surf and turf – a big faux pas). My record stands at chicken, lamb, pork, beef, ostrich, boerewors (4 different varieties) and a token frozen burger (I was feeling homesick that day).
If you have bought your wors from Checkers, never admit to it. Guests will wonder if they are eating donkey or dog and will be repulsed. However, if you bought donkey or dog wors at Woolies, that’s just fine.

I mentioned boogie’ing in the title of this post. That’s because we went to see The Parlotones at Kirstenbosch on Sunday evening to round off our weekend. They were really rather good. UK readers, you might not have heard of The Parlotones yet, but they’re going to be big, so why not impress your friends around the braai by slipping their name into the conversation?

Try that awkward silence while everyone’s thinking about their favourite bit of Kelly Brook.

Your Wednesday Thursday storm briefing

(Following on from your Monday Thursday storm warning and your Tuesday Thursday storm update.)

Hello, Thursday Storm fans (I’m looking at you, UtianG).
Another day, another lot of isobars.

It’s still coming; it’s still fairly large: there’s been no further relief on the pressure side of things since yesterday’s post. It has been slightly delayed by the traffic from the stop/go system for the roadworks near Tristan da Cunha, and thus we should only expect the worst of the rain late morning tomorrow.

Looking out of my lab window at the cloudless , windless Cape skies this morning, it’s hard to believe that we’re all going to die horribly there’s a cold front just 24 hours away. It’s all so calm and peaceful. And dry.

Here’s the latest synoptic chart, and while we’re all looking at what’s approaching the Western Cape tomorrow, it would be foolish to ignore that second low pressure area behind it which is making its way eastwards across the South Atlantic. At the moment, it looks like that’s going to hit the Cape overnight on Sunday and into Monday, ruining what was already going to be a pretty crappy morning for us all anyway. It’s not going to be as big as tomorrow’s excitement, but it’s a long way off and it does have the potential to change track and give us a proper battering.

But let’s get through tomorrow first, with Windguru predicting almost 40mm of rain over 24 hours for the Mother City, followed by an entirely dark, damp and dreary Friday.

Stay safe, drink red wine, toast a beagle on your log fire and do a crossword. Look after those who don’t have your luxuries: you can donate a bed for 5 nights at The Haven Night Shelter for just R60 without even leaving your chair. Click here and do your bit. I have. Or use Snapscan:

And please share this post (use the buttons below) and get others to do their bit as well.

And then come back for tomorrow’s post entitled:

Damp Squib: What Was All The Fuss About?

or:

Sweet Baby Jesus. We Are Actually All Going To Die!

depending on the prevailing meteorological conditions.

Thursday storm update

Windguru is still shouting about TONNES of rain and 80kph gusts of northwesterly air in Cape Town on Thursday morning, but a quick look at the synoptic charts for the South Atlantic actually indicate that things have calmed down just a little out there [points westsouthwest].

Now, I’m not doubting Windguru. It is, after all, the self-proclaimed guru on these sort of things. But there’s no doubt that the centre of that low pressure area is more diffuse and not as deep as it was yesterday.

If I was a betting man (I’m not), I’d be wondering about whether (no pun intended) this one is not going to pass a little further south than the original forecasts originally forecasted. That would mean that we’d just catch the tail end of the cold front, and that it might not be quite as bad as we were expecting.

I am going to add a couple of provisos here though: firstly, I’m not a professional weather forecaster. Some would say I’m not professional at all, and there are times when I’d find it difficult to argue with them. Secondly, “not quite as bad as we were expecting” is relative, as we were actually expecting it to be really, really bad. So even if I’m right, it might still be really bad.

Of course, the closer the actual event, the more accurate the forecast can be. And that’s why we’ll be having another look at this tomorrow. Follow on Facebook here and don’t miss this (possibly) incisive commentary on the approach of (possibly) the biggest storm of the year.

Thursday

Not today, obviously. Today is… [checks]… Today is Monday, and all is well.

Still, if all continues to go well (and, given the way this country “works”, that’s certainly not guaranteed), Thursday is but… [checks]… three days away. And it’s going to be a bit wet and wild by all accounts.

I went to my usual contacts and looked to see just how large this allegedly “large” winter storm was going to be, and here’s what I found:

Grey bit on the left: South America. Grey bit on the right: Africa.
Quite a lot of the intervening South Atlantic: large winter storm.

Blimey.

I felt compelled to break into song:

According to all sources (what sources now),
The street’s the place to go (we better hurry up).
‘Cause [Thursday in the early hours] for the first time (first time)
Just about half-past [two] (half past [two])
For the first time in history
It’s gonna start raining… er… rain.

It’s raining rain, hallelujah!
It’s raining rain, amen!

Just for absolute clarity, I have changed a couple of the lyrics because nothing relating to this story is happening tonight, just about half past ten. No, the first rain is actually more likely to fall sometime after midnight going into Thursday morning. And this won’t actually be the first rain in history, because there has been rain previously. Although not very much since 2014.

One of the few bits that I didn’t change was the advice about the street being “the place to go”. However, with hindsight, I probably should have done something about this. It does seems like a very bad idea when you consider it more carefully. The forecast winds are such that there could actually be some structural damage, and so I’d actually feel much better if you were all safely tucked up somewhere inside. In fact, given the possible severity of this storm, the street actually seems to be one of the worst possible places to go. I don’t know which sources were being quoted in the song, but they seem poorly informed and probably not worth listening to. Still, we’re all adults here and we can make our own decisions. I’m just saying that going to the street wouldn’t be one of mine.

Currently, it appears that this large winter storm isn’t nearly as large as the large(r) winter storm which came through last June. And that’s probably why we’re not really panicking about it just yet. That was the largest storm to hit Cape Town since 1984, whereas this will only be the largest storm to hit Cape Town since that one did.

That day, according to all sources, Kommetjie was the place to go and so I spent the afternoon down there ‘togging waves. But that was actually really great advice and so they must surely have been different sources from the ones above.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the approaching nastiness for the next couple of days, so why not pop to Facebook and hit that like button (if that’s something you’re into, 2018-style) to be kept up to date with that and other stuff on the blog?

Different names

I was binge-watching Only Connect again last night.
I got as far as Series 11. Episode 21.
The Scientists vs The String Section.
Gripping stuff.

And while there were many brilliant questions on offer, there was one which stood out for me, so I’ve elaborated upon it a little and reproduced it here.

All you’re looking for is the thing which connects these clues. The sooner you get it (correctly, of course), the more points you score.

Here we go:

Strudel (Israel)

Sleeping Cat (Finland)

Monkey’s Tail (The Netherlands)

Elephant’s Trunk (Denmark)

Snail (Italy)

Curled Alpha (Norway)

Wild A (Serbia)

 

That’s your lot, I’m afraid. If you’re still struggling (or if you’re not), the answer is down below. How quickly did you get it? Did you get it? Leave me a comment and tell me how you got on.
I’m guessing that my resident Israeli reader might have got this one sewn up. Unless she actually went for “apple pies”. Because it’s not them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The earliest yet discovered reference to this thing is a religious one; it features in a Bulgarian translation of a Greek chronicle written by Constantinos Manasses in 1345. Held today in the Vatican Apostolic Library, it features it in place of the capital letter alpha “A” in the word Amen. Why it was used in this context is still a mystery.

It first appeared on a typewriter in 1889.

And it has no official name in English.

The answer is… the @ symbol.

Well done if you got it.