When Hendo’s met Freddy

Many of you will remember the DIY Biltong post from a few weeks ago.
Well, since then I have experimented with many different sorts of meat and many different blends of spices in an attempt to create the world’s best raw-meat based snack. And while I was getting there slowly, my efforts received a huge boost on my birthday last week with a gift of 3kg of Freddy Hirsch biltong spices.
That’s enough to make 75kg worth of biltong.
I’m going to be busy.

The only issue is that since anyone can go and buy spices from Freddy, anyone can make first class biltong. But I don’t want to be one of the crowd.
I want my biltong to stand out; I want it to have a personal touch.
And that’s where Henderson’s Relish comes in. This “spicy Yorkshire sauce” has been made in Sheffield (right next door to the hospital I was born in) since the late 19th century.
It is to my home town what biltong is to my adopted country.

And, much like when Harry met Sally, the results of Hendo’s meeting Freddy are mindblowing.
It’s South Yorkshire meets South Africa.
It’s a pint of Magnet with a Klippies chaser in the pub on the corner of Bramall Lane and Voortrekker Road.
It’s bluddy bakgat, dun’t tha’ know, china?

It’s very me.

ISS mess

One of the best things about being a Dad is being able to tell your offspring amazing things.
Often, these things aren’t actually true and even if they are, parental licence allows for a huge degree of exaggeration.
I follow @twisst14, one of the twisst.nl bots on twitter, who helpfully tell me (to the nearest second) what time the International Space Station is coming over Cape Town. They can do it for wherever you’re based as well.
Forearmed with this information, I can confidently predict exactly when Alex is going to see a “shooting star” going across the sky.
The fact that I am always right fills him with amazement – a totally different reaction from that of his mother when I tell her that I’m always right.

Tonight’s ISS pass was very bright, but then so was the sky behind it and the long exposure on my camera was sadly affected by the blustery south-easter. Then Alex went a bit mad on Picasa and we ended up with the picture above. Bit retro and kinda funky, but not as sharp as the last time I snapped the ISS over Constantiaberg – so I’m calling it “ISS mess”.

Twisst tells me that I have another opportunity to spot the ISS again this evening at 21:02:58 and – judging by the snoring coming from Alex’s room – this time I’ll be watching it on my own.

UPDATE: Looked a lot better the following evening.

Constantia crab

I’m still wondering about that crab we saw yesterday. Under a car. In Constantia.

Thing is, I always thought crabs lived near the sea. (Apart from Coconut crabs, that is.)
And this was some distance away from the sea.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and worked out that the most accessible sea to Alphen Drive is about 12.4km away.

The route the crab may have taken up the M3.

There is sea nearer than that as the crow flies, but it’s over a massive mountain and anyway, crabs can’t fly.
And bearing in mind that this crab was only about 8cm across, that 12.4km is the equivalent of you or I walking to the moon.

So what exactly was this crab doing under a car in Constantia?
Do we get land crabs in South Africa? In Cape Town?
Or was it just on holiday? Constantia’s Green Belt is very pretty.

Google has been unhelpful and I’m not exactly sure who else to ask. Especially after some of the results I got when I searched for information about “crabs” on the internet. Goodness me.

I’m quite sure that’s not the kind of thing you’d find in a nice suburb like Constantia.

UPDATE: This tweet leads me to look into Potamidae spp. A-ha!

Impulsive Appulse Pic Blog

Everyone is going ape about the moon and Venus this evening.


Well, apparently, they’re very close together – but not really: they’re actually about 23½ million miles apart – but the perception is that they are close together in the night sky.
And they were even closer in the day sky too.

There’s a word for that, but I can’t remember what it is.
Quick google gives me “Appulse“.

You live, you google, you learn.

Who am I to deny myself such a blatant photo op?
Hence the image to the left.

And all this Micklethwaite-style rambling to fill in the space alongside it.
You may also like my long exposure sky pic, which is full of Cape Town’s light pollution.


Out of date


I was hoping to have some happy news this weekend, but the Public Sector Workers strike put paid to that. And when I say “put paid”, I mean “put paid, but not with an 8.6% increase and a R1000 housing allowance”. Just put paid a dismal and demeaning wage.
So more on that another time.

Instead, because I have many requests to elaborate on my shopping issues yesterday (as mentioned on twitter), I find myself bitching about the utterly despicable behaviour of local supermarket Constantia Pick n Pay which, as far as my recent experiences go, seems to consider it perfectly reasonable to sell goods which are past their sell by date.

Last week, I had to take some veg back to them because it was three weeks beyond its sell by date. Caveat emptor, you might say, but then why should the emptor have to caveat – shouldn’t the venditor be looking out for the emptor and taking the goods off the shelves once they’re past their best? Sure – I might have been a little more observant, but I was stressed, shopping amongst a million others (business is evidently good) in the narrow aisles of this flagship store.

That was annoying. My money. My petrol. My time.

And then yesterday. Wow. First of all, while looking for yoghurt, I noticed that one of the 6-packs on the shelf was 6 days beyond its sell by date. Not good. Fortunately, there was a PnP employee stacking the shelves right next to me, so I pointed this out to him and he removed the offending item. Easy.

But then, as I walked off down the chilled goods aisle, I forgot to get margarine. Can you imagine life without margarine? Dry toast. Dry…bread generally. And so on.

And when I realised and went back a few minutes later – guess what was back on the yoghurts shelf? That offending 6-pack again, sell by date still 30 Aug 10.
I was aghast. That’s disgraceful. Inexcusable. It was no mistake: he knew they were out of date. I tried to take a picture with my phone, but a security guy stopped me. Very pleasantly, I might add. Just doing his job.
Nice to see someone was, I thought.

The manager was “unavailable” when I asked. The staff seemed unconcerned about what had happened. I was unimpressed. Everywhere I looked, there were words beginning with “un”. That’s never a sign of a good situation.
I made a mental note to call the boss on Monday. And then I paid for the stuff I’d bought and went home. And yes, I tweeted about what had occurred, but I chose not to mention the store in question, despite a plethora of requests to “name and shame”.

And then I slid the cardboard sleeve off the ostrich fillet I had bought (this week, I’m trying ostrich biltong) and found that it too was past its best before date. I could not believe it. (I may have mentioned that.) I named and shamed.

So – back to Constantia Pick n Pay (My money. My petrol. My time), where I met Bertie, who told me that the manager was unavailable. So no change there then.

I explained to Bertie about last week’s veg, the yoghurt issue and my new-found ostrich fillet problem. Bertie half looked up from typing on his computer, apologised and said he “would look into it” with the same conviction which Zwelinzima Vavi might look into taking a 0.3% pay offer back to the Unions. But hey, at least I got to go and get some fresh ostrich fillet, although I had to pick it out from amongst those that were past that “BBD” again – those were still on the shelf when I left. Nice.

But I am determined to speak to Bertie on Monday and find out what he has discovered.
Because surely he wouldn’t have just said that to fob me off. Would he?

Pre-empting your questions:

1. I will go to another supermarket once they have finished building at Blue Route. Until then, it’s impossible to park.
2. I can’t afford the money, petrol or time to go to Table Bay Butchery. But thanks for the heads up.
3. I am aware that @picknpay are on twitter. But why would I want to go through a middleman when I have the name and number of the manager? What is the middleman going to do? Give me the name and number of the manager? Get him to call me? I can just about afford a local call, thank you.
Besides which, I have also had dealings with (and not necessarily complaints) MTN and Avis, whose social media presence is handled by the same agency and have received no assistance whatsoever by going that route.
Is it really worth these companies shelling out for this service? Not in my opinion – all you get are happy sycophants who get the occasional chance to win prizes. When it comes to the negative side of things, things seem somewhat less helpful.
There’s a whole other post in there – have you ever been helped via social media? And by “helped”, I mean got somewhere you couldn’t have done on your own? Let me know – I’d be interested.
My feeling is that (assuming you get any response) you simply get put through to the same people that couldn’t be bothered to help you in the first place.
4. The ostrich biltong should be ready tomorrow – I’ll let you know how good it is.

As for Constantia Pick n Pay – what can I say? I’m appalled.
I hope to speak to the manager tomorrow – maybe I’ll find out why I wasn’t able to on Saturday. And I’ll let you know what he says, because if he’s not bothered about what’s going on, then why should any other Pick n Pay manager be? Perhaps you might want to review your other options (such as they are) out there.

Sorry to rant.
6000 – protecting the rights (and the health) of the South African consumer – out.