Keeping the Impis at Bay

One early evening while waiting for a train
I walked into an old station bar,
to buy a cold cider to kill a thirst
in the sweltering
thirty degree Celsius summer heat

and saw a very old cripple man
who nursed a glass of white wine
and he was talking to himself
and sometimes stuttered over his words.

When he looked up at me
there was fire in his eyes
and it was almost as if
he recognized me, from a dream
or a prophecy of something

and suddenly his face was calm
while he called me over for a chat
and I ordered a bottle of brandy for him
and another Hunters Gold for me.

He complained that the times were cruel
with one hand motioning to his missing legs
that he had lost in a train crash
and complained about Afrikaners
ignoring each other
and only living for themselves
while the nation is being led astray

and then suddenly said but my boy,
you know this,
have experienced it yourself
as a learned man without a job

but let me tell you something
about days long gone
even before the Boer war
(where the British killed
women and children in concentration camps) ,
many Afrikaner farmers
were executed at Slagtersnek
and it had been a terrible, terrible time

and then that holy Englishman John Phillip
meddled in our affairs
and now he haunts us again
peering in at the window panes

and I shook my head, did not understanding
exactly what the old man said
and heard something about
English people being in cahoots
with the current government
and ladies ruling as bosses
while educated Afrikaner men are jobless

and he swayed on his stool
and I rose to steady him
when he said to pour more brandy with ice
and complained that now nobody
is keeping the impis at bay
and pointed a finger at me

and I thought that he said
but you will do, or maybe
you haven’t got a clue
and leaning forward
strangely his breath was clear

and I heard him stuttering something
sounding like even uncle Paul
in church square knows
that soon all Afrikaner men
will be poor

and I said to him:
“My man we already are
with the new black regime,
but most Afrikaners
just do not realise it yet.”

He smiled at me then
and steadily held his glass, in a final salute
brought it to his lips
and faded into the naught
de-materializing in front of me.

Gert Strydom, 2010

Christopher Hope (1972), David Kramer

Really good gammon

Christmastime is gammon time, this time I tried a recipe, didn’t work that well, tried again, it worked well, made the second recipe again, it worked well again, so it’s a keeper.

The recipe that didn’t work well was Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola. Way too sweet.

The recipe that works well is Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola, but use apple juice, not Coke.

Also, like with turkeys, our gammons are smaller. Don’t miss the bit where Nigella says “an hour per kilo”, 2 1/2 hours = 2 1/2 kilos is a huge hunk of meat.

Also, Onion & Mustard Sauce.


Christmas Fruit Loaf

This is kind of a weird recipe (to me, at least) but it works. It’s a bit like Miss Windsor’s, but without the “darlings”.

Stick 500ml (give or take) fruit mix (from Foodies), 250ml sugar, 5ml salt, 3 tablespoons butter, 250ml water and 5ml mixed spice in a pot and bring to the boil. Allow to cool before adding 1 large or two small eggs, beaten. Stir in 500ml cake flour and 5ml bicarb, or sommer use self-raising.

Spray your loaf tin, then line the bottom with baking paper. Pour the mix in the tin, stick it in the oven at 160C for half an hour and then 120C for another half an hour.

This stuff goes well with a bit of butter, and keeps for more than a week.


There are many recipes. This is my slow version.

Start with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and paprika. As a side for four people start with two onions, three large bell peppers or more smaller ones (use green, yellow and red if you can) and about six nice tomatoes (you can use tinned, or frozen* or a mix).

What works for me is (1) slice the onions really thin. Mandolin thin. I expect you can stick them through a food processor if that’s your thing. Then (2)  low and slow — 40 minutes to an hour at low heat in some left-over fat** until the onions are soft but still on the white side.

Off the stove, stir in two tablespoons of decent sweet paprika, then add the thinly sliced bell peppers and maybe some water and back on the stove for another half hour or more, until the peppers are soft.

Meanwhile chop the tomatoes and season. When you figure the peppers are soft enough, dump in the tomatoes and juice, and give it another  20 minutes. Stick a lid on it if it’s going dry.

This goes well with Pörkölt, but you can make it into a main meal too.

* You buy lots of tomatoes when they’re cheap and freeze them, right?

** You save the fat from pan-frying steaks or pork chops or chicken, right? Right?

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Green Beans

Green beans being relatively cheap and quite plentyful at the moment.

The original recipe uses cooked chicken. I used four thighs. Season and fry in the black pot, remove. Fry a chopped onion and some garlic, then add your spices ( original recipe calls for Tandoori spice which is basically paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander and cardamom. I used five spice and added cumin and coriander) and some tomato paste.

Then a tin of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube, a tablespoon honey, and a handful of lentils. Add the chicken and enough water to cover.

Meanwhile boil your fresh green beans cut into 1cm lengths in water with lots of salt. Drain all the water, rinse with cold water.

Cook until the lentils are done, remove the chicken and remove the meat from the bones, stick the meat back in the pot, add the beans, and you’re done. Serve with rice.


Kids today…

I have a… idunno, I guess I’m (one of) his Elmer(s) but I don’t know what that makes him. PFY, maybe. Told him I’d drop some stuff off for him to use to try to revive the PLL on an Icom IC-240 (the TC5080 had snuffed it).

Anywayz, so this Whatsapp convo goes down:

(Yea, I wind him up. I feel it’s my duty).

Dogs and Stormy Weather

This was Sunday, the 24th of September. Cape Field Trial Club Retriever Field Trial competition. They need someone to make a loud noise* while someone else tosses a dead bird (or sometimes a live one) and then doggie has to fetch (in this specific event the tossed bird was a decoy, the dog first had to fetch three other birds and not the one it saw going down — a Real Test of control, both self- for the dog and the control over the dog by the handler).

In the picture above, we’re next to the Bot River close to the town of, well, Botrivier. By the time we left there was an inch of water on the ground.

This was a part of the N2 heading back home. They closed it later the evening.

This was the Bot River the next morning. The bridge washed away a bit later.

We were supposed to do it again on the Monday, but with the N2 and at least three of the alternative routes closed that event was cancelled.

My shooting buddy was trapped in Pringle Bay until Wednesday afternoon, waiting for debris to be cleared off one of the two roads available to him (the other one might take a while they say).

So if anyone asks what I did during the Great Storm of 2023, I can say that I was sitting in the rain playing with some dogs.

* And South African gun laws being what they are, not just anybody can make the noise. You need a licence and stuff. So they call on us, and we like it because free ammo, they treat us like royalty and we get a nice certificate out of it, for NHSA purposes.

Peek & Poke


Rijeka is home to quite a large computer museum (as these things go, and measured in number of computers, not floor space). You will find the expected Apple / Atari / Commodore / IBM PC and clones… but those don’t interest me so much. What is interesting is the cold war East Bloc stuff that we never got to see or experience in the West.

Unfortunately a lot of the exhibits are behind glass and don’t photograph well.

This is an Ivel Ultra, a Croatian Apple II compatible computer designed by Branimir Makanec and developed by Ivasim Elektronika (in Ivanic Grad close to Zagreb) around 1984. It has a Z-80 (for CP/M) onboard like Franklin did with the Ace 1200.

The Robik is a Soviet ZX Spectrum clone produced between 1989 and 1994 in the Ukraine.

Spica Ines: A decent keyboard for your ZX Spectrum. And a bare PCB would be easier to import as “washing machine parts” than the whole computer…

Much more interesting (and also an unavoidable self-portrait) is the Galaksija.

In 1983, Voja Antonić designed the Galaksija, using a Z-80 processor, some interesting hardware and some hectic software to render the screen directly from memory using interrupts and code that does nothing in a very specific way while using the Z-80 RAM refresh function to pipe the scan lines to the monitor.

The design was published in the October 1983 issue of Galaksija magazine (hence the name) and at least 8000 of these things were built. At least.

Several versions of the PCB has now been recreated, and there’s even a way to get graphics if you have enough memory.

Then there are the commercial “home” computers. The Galeb (“Seagull”, codename YU101) was an 8-bit computer developed by the PEL Varaždin company in the early 1980s. Only 250 were produced by the end of the summer of 1984, before being replaced by the Orao. It’s a 6502 machine “inspired by the Compukit UK101” but if this Ferguson Big Board “(C) Mikro Slovenija” is an indication, it might have been very similar indeed.

One of the Galeb prototypes.

The Orao (“Eagle”) replaced the Orao. Still 6502 based, it was developed by PEL Varaždin in 1984. It was used as a standard primary and secondary school computer from 1985 to 1991.

The Pecom 32  and Pecom 64 were 1802-based educational/home computers developed by Elektronska Industrija Niš of Serbia in 1985. Both had 32k RAM and 16k ROM, but the Pecom 64 supported colour while the Pecom 32 was B&W, as far as I can tell.

These used the standard 1802 (CDP1869 + CDP1870) VIS display system.

The GETI 3220 is an AY-3-8500-based pong game made by Gorenje, who is better known for their household appliances (our fridge in Globoka is a Gorenje).

They also have calculators.

Lots of calculators.

I have a Triumph/Adler 108T, that Triumph looks like an 81S.

I also have the exact same Tvornica Računskih Strojeva TRS612 calculator, although mine is missing a few pieces. Made in Zagreb in the seventies.

They also have TVs, and audio equipment, and cameras, and test equipment. And I have the exact same Philips PM2421 Nixie-tube multimeter (top center of pic).

They cram a lot into 300 square meters.

I knew there was a camera, but I never knew there was a printer for the Game Boy. You could take a picture, print it out (in glorious monochrome) — the electronic version of Polaroid.

A bit more modern but still historically significant — the badge for the Hackaday Conference in Belgrade, 2018.

The website mentions that they’re looking for bigger premises. I will have to go back someday.




Wetter than ever before

We’re still expecting a bit more rain this year (it’s raining at the moment) and we’ve already received more rain this year than at this time in the past 42 years.

Look at that graph. At least three places where the slope is pushing 90 degrees.

It’s official. It pissed down this past winter.