Oudtshoorn flashback

Oudtshoorn (roughly pronounced Oats-Horn) is a small town in the Western Cape which claims to be the ostrich capital of the world. And that might not sound like much of a pull, but if you want to do anything to do with ostriches, visit ostrich-related attractions and buy ostrich-related merchandise, Oudtshoorn is your number one destination of choice. It’s a couple of years since I was last there, but I don’t think it will have changed much, based on the fact that when I was there it didn’t appear to have changed much since colonial times.
I got into a spot of bother with my traveling companions on that particular visit, due to a comment I left in the guest book at the excellent Jemima’s restaurant. Having enjoyed all that Oudtshoorn had to offer during the day, I felt compelled to sample the speciality dish – ostrich – for my dinner. Then, perhaps buoyed by a sense of a day completed in fine style, together with some (or more) decent Cabernet Sauvignon, I reached for the visitor’s book on the way out and wrote:

Saw one.
Fed one.
Rode one.
Ate one.

Which, despite being absolutely true, was considered – in stark contrast to dinner – to be in rather poor taste and invoked the spirit of the Derbyshire butcher specialising in game meats who had the display of rabbits hung outside his shop next to the sign:

Watership Down.
You’ve read the book.
You’ve seen the film.
Now eat the cast.

All of which meandering brings me to EatBabe.co.uk and its startlingly similar tagline:

Choose pig.
Name pig.
Visit pig.
Eat pig.

Personally, I think they lose it slightly with the extra syllable on the third line, but it’s still a good effort. And yes, you adopt a piglet, they lovingly care for it, nurture it and feed it; and then slaughter it, chop it all up and deliver it (vacuum packed, nogal) to your door.

A whole pig weighs in at about 40-50kg of meat. This usually works out between £280 and £350, though never more than £380. For this price you get all of the meat back from your pig, butchered, vacuum packed, weighed, labelled and priced ~ just how you would like to find it. In terms of cost, you are paying about £100 more than in a supermarket, the same as in a good butchers, and £160 less than London prices. Any offal you choose to have from your pig is free of charge.

The advantages of this system? You know exactly where your pig came from, where it has been and what it has been eating: “From field to fork, from pasture to plate – tracking your food every step of the way”.

I can already imagine the Oudtshoorn farmers planning the South African equivalent. If only there was some tear-jerking family film about a talking baby ostrich which they could use the name from. 

Perhaps that’s all that’s holding them back.

Tenuous terrorism charges

Now I know that terrorism versus civil liberties is a contentious issue and all, but I firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. And so, where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that a terrorist act is going to take place, I would much prefer to see it nipped in the bud. Certainly that rather than some sort of rucksack- related Tube massacre and the security services telling us “Oh yeah – we kind of thought that was going to happen”.

That doesn’t mean that I am in favour of all the new laws which have recently been brought in in the UK by a struggling ZaNu-labour Government, though. The whole 42-days detention is a little OTT as far as I’m concerned. But of course, with the changing face of the terrorist threat over the past few years, some tightening up and realigning of the laws was certainly necessary.

But have these laws got a little bit daft now? Nothing so simple as “murder” or “rape” – two men in Blackburn have been charged (and here I quote):

…with possession of an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

…over a plot (which didn’t exist) to assassinate Gordon Brown. Bit of a mouthful, hey? I wonder if the officer who read the suspects their rights had to have a little crib sheet to make sure he got it right.

OK. Enough of that. I am going to go and switch the kettle on in circumstances where the heating of water together with the possession of dark brown powder may give rise to a reasonable chance of preparation and inbibing of a pleasant morning beverage.

Missing “home”…

If there is one thing I miss about living in the UK more than any other, it is the music. While SA has it’s fair share of decent bands and artists (and I’ve mentioned them more than once or twice on here), the music scene just doesn’t compare to the UK. I love to find new bands by chance and then follow them up and listen to see if what I heard was a one off or a representative sample of their work. I can’t do that here.

Feeling particularly musically needy today, I did a bit of an update on a few of my favourite bands. This evening, having got my free download of The Escapist by The Streets, I flicked onto the Radio One homepage and took the opportunity to listen live to Zane Lowe‘s show for a short while. Not because I’m a huge fan of Zane Lowe, but because that was who was on when I was listening so it would have been difficult to listen live to anyone else. He was playing a song called CCTV by The Last Republic. A song which sums up exactly what I mean when I say that I’m missing out. Awesome stuff.

You won’t find TLR on iTunes. However, having looked them up on MySpace – and in one of those ironic moments that show that if there is a higher power, then he’s busy sticking his middle finger up at me – if you’re in Cardiff this evening, you will find them at Cardiff Barfly, supporting Saffa band, The Parlotones.

The only other bit of UK/SA news today was England winning the fourth test at The Oval. Have you noticed that I only mention the cricket when England win? This has had the effect of passively convincing all my american readers that England are the best cricket team in the world.

Which they are, obviously.

Sick of poor decisions

“Where are you?” queried the emails.
“What’s going on?”
“What must we do?”

Such is the awesome and addictive power of 6000 miles…that when I was struck down – pretty heavily struck down, too – by a particularly nasty illness this last week, desperation set in for some readers.

But it’s ok. I’m back. And I’ve got lots that I want to write about. Although I haven’t been able to get near a computer to actually document my thoughts, I’ve been having plenty of them. Some of the more interesting ones were sadly only accessible while my temperature was in the low 40’s.
Thus, I can only remember odd bits of them. Bits that involve parrots.
I told you they were odd.

While I was away on my journey to Virusville,  South Africa beat England in a unusually interesting Test match in Birmingham. Through glazed eyes (via the disappointingly weak interweb surfing capabilities of my aging cellphone), I read and agreed with Brian Micklethwait’s take on Michael Vaughan’s resignation as England captain following that game.

How thin are the threads that these things hang by!  In England’s second innings the day before yesterday, Vaughan was looking good, until he got himself out with a silly shot.  And yesterday, South Africa’s captain Smith would have been given out, caught off the glove off Panesar, if “Hotspot” the latest analytical gizmo – it shows where balls strike by photoing heat rather than light), had been helping the umpires instead of only helping the commentators to make idiots of the umpires.  Smith was then on about 70.  He went on to make 150 not out and win the game for his team.  England might well have won if that decision gone their way, and if England had won, Vaughan would not now be stepping down.  He might have made some runs in the final test against South Africa, and gone on to lead England in the Ashes next summer. As it is…

Yet another dodgy decision with massive implications. And yes, I know that referees and umpires are only human and these things happen, but with professional sport being what it is these days, isn’t it time that the technology which is available is applied so that careers aren’t ended and millions of pounds aren’t lost simply because of the actions of of an inept official?

So now we have a South African with a South African name captaining the England cricket team and a South African with an English name captaining the South African cricket team. And, if the papers are to be believed, they hate each other. Ooh – the drama.


A couple of tossers with a coin

I like this photo from the BBC News website. Pietersen looks like he’s missing a pint pot and is looking in completely the wrong direction. Smith looks like he’s missing a brain and is looking directly at the money.
Which sums them both up nicely, I think.

EDIT: more (slightly surprising) opinion and a nice pic of Newlands here.

End of an era…

Was zooming around the BBC News website, as I am wont to do from time to time, when I came across this story.

An iconic floating nightclub based on the river Tyne for 15 years is to be towed away at the weekend.
The Tuxedo Princess ship, with its legendary revolving dance floor, is being tugged from its Gateshead mooring to make way for a £10m office complex.

As a student in Newcastle in the early 90s, I spent many a happy Monday evening on “The Boat”. And while people all too easily label things as “legendary” these days, the revolving dance floor on The Boat was indeed something to behold.
Stand in the wrong place and your prospective (and obviously very classy) female friend for the evening would be slowly rotated away from you – a distressing and confusing experience after a few* cheap pints on the way down there.

So RIP, The Boat.
I’m sure I should have more memories of you than I actually have, which in itself, speaks volumes.

* few (n) – a small number, in this case, probably about 11.