Monday, 29 October 2012

Mustang Sally, Rolling Thunder & The Porsche Club

Orion's Magoebaskloof Hotel is the quintessential weekend getaway reserved usually for stressed city-slickers and jaded politicians alike. Quietly charming and mystical when the mist rolls in, this aesthetically appealing country-hotel is accustomed to lifelong guest- loyalty.

Evidence that Orion is taking its management responsibilities seriously is obvious everywhere. The facility is spotlessly clean, the decor is tasteful and the accommodation well-appointed.

The staff is well trained, courteous and functionally competent. Whilst not considered fine-dining by any stretch of the imagination, the food is always well-prepared, freshly served and presented in such a way that eating there feels like home; which is exactly what any self-respecting country-hotel guest usually wants.

That said, what do you get when you coddle Mustang Sally, Rolling Thunder and The Porsche Club into one weekend without any fore-warning? A bloody good show!

Before we start; some formalities. Orion Hotels did some things well and other things 'not so well'. On the plus side patrons, without leather-jackets, were calmly allocated rooms in the furthest reaches of the hotel. Guests who needed upgrading were upgraded, without preamble or grumble. On the flip-side and speaking generally; forewarned is fore-armed! As the weekend progressed it became glaringly obvious that the hotel's management was a little light in the breeches, euphemistically speaking and with apologies. Shattered nerves, both in the reception and in the kitchen, are self-deprecating indulgences and a little unexpected of professional staff. If 'don't bring The Truck' means 'don't bring The Truck' and 'the truck arrived anyway', does a R112000 Friday-night bar bill make it all better?

Tassels, boots and helmets are just attitude-adornments, much like make-up or frilly underwear. So when leather-jackets go boo in the night please don't run the other way.....

'Spirit of the Wolf' - usually in a pack and when wrapped in studded week-end leather only. Any other workday it's a 'Bleating of the Lamb' ...!

















Notwithstanding, if life is about freedom and freedom is attitude and if attitude feeds the soul then free we must be. When machines are the elixir, then roll on the thunder!

As is our way when we've had our fill of JHB we search for freedom in places other. Like many city-dwellers we joined the exodus out of town for some country-side R&R. This last weekend we chose Magoebaskloof where we would spend our time in our usual pursuits of nature-based relaxation.  As always we decided on the Magoebaskloof Hotel. The drive out of Gauteng's Johannesburg to Limpopo's Magoebaskloof was largely uneventful. Arriving at the hotel gate-boom was something else altogether. The gate-guard shyly and perhaps too apologetically encouraged us to park as far away from the hotel reception as we could... Whilst I appreciated the notion that my burgeoning gut could do with some exercise, I found the entreaty a little odd at the time. Doing as bidden we walked the few extra meters towards the reception only to round the corner and face-off with Mustang Sally herself, just a gentle wrist-toss of an empty away from reception's front door.

At first glance the hotel staff were showing just a touch more white around the eyes than is normally encouraged by patrons on arrival. A second take revealed milling aged-rockers clad in jacketed fury!

The Harley Club had come to town..!


Aggressive machines, largely ignorant of pedestrians and diminished none at all cloaked as they were in misty spendour, were scattered across the patio. In and among the pistons and the smell of an oil-rag, lurked grey wolves, bears and Batman himself. Blood-soaked skulls, decayed since the sixties, screamed blood-curdling reminders of one life, live free... 

Truly an awesome sight and when viewed in retrospect an amazing insight into human nature at its very best.


Enter Act 2; scene one. Arrive The Porsche Club... If life is a journey then travel in first class we will! At first look an impressively synchronised compliment of aggressive machines, in glacier-white or stornaway grey. Pringled, bespectacled and classically aged, these paragons of good grace paced reception as calmly as Batman himself...Face-off; Stand-off! The very ethos of freedom, freemen and opposing definitions of one life, live free...! 

Grossly out-gunned in intimidation & costume, The Porsches instinctively gave ground and retired to their respective luxury suites, shaken & stirred. In victorious exuberance Mustang Sally soon revealed concert-standard sound-speakers, big-screens and an endless supply of sixties rock which she impressively demonstrated for the next 12 hours without hesitation or pause..

Some 500 meters away, whilst safely locked away in my own suite, I whistled along and drummed gently to crystal-clear ballads by ACDC, Black Sabbath and The Doors. Later that evening lasers tore through the mist, blinded bats and illuminated the skies!

Mustang Sally [9pm]
At early dinner agitated murmurs, grinding teeth and twitchy limbs from Reserved for The Porsche Club confirmed that afternoon naps had been sorely missed. Discussions of power to weight ratios and the vagaries of torque lacked its usual resonance. Awkward silences followed new dinner arrivals, lest leather jackets feature too strongly in the evening attire. Staff scuttled nervously; Chefs whined pitifully and managers apologised profusely.

All the while Mustang Sally rocked on and on and 3am on..

The Sunday 6:30am breakfast bell welcomed the Reserved for The Porsche Club, the rest of us and one or two Harley-rockers intent on leaving sober for the long trip home to Mrs. Rocker.. Imagine the consternation when the Harley-rocker bid Reserved a good morning in clipped, well-spoken English.. and imagine his surprise when Reserved gave him the bird!

So there you have it. It's just life Jim and just like we love it. Like morning-after soap-suds in the water-feature its another fragile reminder to live considerately free.



Postscript - I mourned the passing of Jim Morrison; have listened to Rodriguez; can recite the lyrics to ACDC's Thunderstruck; still occasionally ride my superbike on the track; currently own a leather jacket and more than a dozen suits; appreciate the vagaries of down-force and have owned a multitude of performance machines then and now. I can't thank Orion enough for the most entertaining weekend I've had in years.