Posted by: neilhopwood | January 18, 2012

NASA – LRO Multimedia

NASA – LRO Multimedia.

Posted by: neilhopwood | June 21, 2011

The easiest hearty warming winter bean soup.

I normally love to make elaborate and complicated dishes that take days to prepare. This, however is anything but that, its my delicious version of Nando’s bean soup and it couldn’t be easier.

Preparation: 5 mins. Cooking time 30 mins.


1 Large onion chopped

2 Sticks of celery chopped

2 Cloves garlic chopped

1 Tin each of: Baked beans, kidney beans, butter beans, chick peas, peeled tomatoes, mixed beans

1l of hot water (or chicken stock if you have)

2 chicken stock cubes if you don’t have the stock.

1 330ml bottle of your favorite Peri-Peri sauce (I like it hot!)

1 chilli chopped

1 tsp english mustard powder

1 tsp mixed herbs

salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Oil for frying.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the the onions, garlic and celery until the onions are translucent.

Empty all of the drained tins into the pan (don’t drain the tomatoes) and stir, then add the water and stock cube, chilli, mustard powder and herbs. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins.

Add the whole bottle of Peri-Peri and give it a good stir, taste and check for seasoning.

Simmer for another 5 mins and serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

If you prefer your food a little milder then leave the chilli out and obviously go for a less fiery Peri-Peri sauce.


Serves 6.


Posted by: neilhopwood | June 15, 2011

10 Good things about Cape Town Winter.

As much as I cannot stand the cold and wet, I recon I have lived here long enough now to be able to comment on the local climate without offending the local populous. So here are my top 10 good things about Cape Town winter:

1. No Wind

For the most part there is relatively little wind over the autumn and winter months (except in Vredehoek and Woodstock!) so no banging doors and my garden furniture for the most part, stays in my garden.

2. No mosquitoes 

I hate these things with a passion. If there is one in my bedroom at night I will happily stay up, running around the room at 3 in the morning with a magazine trying to kill the fecker. Much to the annoyance of my wife. But to see the little smear of (probably my) blood on the wall the next morning somehow gives me a warm feeling inside that I have taken one of them out. Hate hate HATE mosquitoes.

3. No sweating

Sure, my lifestyle is not one of abstinence and fitness but conversely I am not the most unhealthy person in the world. During summer I just seem to spend my days predominantly sweating. Cold showers, aircon, ice cream, cold beers – none of them stop me sweating like a Guantánamo inmate ready for his first interview.

4. Proper Duvets

I have recently moved to the Northern Suburbs where its a bit colder than the city and this means that for the first time in a decade I have bought a proper thick 13.5 tog goose down duvet for my bed. My bed is now once again my favorite place. Heaven!

5. Restaurant specials

It seems that every restauranter wants you in their establishment over winter and so come up with some brilliant winter specials. Anndiamos and The Hussar Grill spring immediately to mind. What better way to while away the dark evenings and nights in some cosy venue eating good food and some of the Capes brilliant wine which leads me nicely onto…

6. Red Wine

Normally I am a white wine only man, there is nothing I enjoy more than a chilled glass (or 5) of divine Chardonnay. This year (see 4 above) I am embracing red wine. I am much loving the D’Aira Cab Sav at the moment. It just seems to fit the weather and mood. Try it!

7. Lie-ins in the morning

Fortunately for me I do not have a job where I need to be in the office lickitysplit on time so during the dark winter mornings I prefer that extra half hour in bed under my wonderful duvet and wait for it to start to get light before I have to face the day ahead.

8. My Jet Master Fireplace

I spend so much of the summer stood around the braai cooking for friends that its such a treat to bring the fire indoors and not have to cook on it! Also I am now the proud owner of a wood pile, its funny the things you go through life not missing until you have one!

9. Everythings gone green 

As mentioned my wife and I have recently taken the plunge into the Northern Suburbs and bought a house with a garden. During the summer it was all I could do to stop everything going yellow and dying no matter what I did to the bloody garden. Suddenly now its all looking after itself and actually growing and green. We even managed to grow a lettuce (and eat the half the snails left) which a. didn’t kill us and b. tasted really nice for a lettuce!

10. Summer is on its way

Dont misunderstand me. This article is merely an attempt at trying not to find so much displeasure of the winter in CT. Lets face it, we are all here because of the wonderful, long, warm languid summer we are privileged to enjoy. Sundowners on Clifton #4 after work, chilled Chardonnay, sexy nightlife…. I could go on. I love not only the anticipation of summer but the fantastic phenomenon of everyone in CT buzzing at the anticipation of summer. Some days you leave the house and I swear you can feel the vibration of summer around the corner.

Love Cape Town




Posted by: neilhopwood | March 18, 2011

Death, taxes and a Thesaurus

A real reply from the Inland Revenue.  The Guardian newspaper had to ask for special permission to print it.  The funniest part of this is imagining the content of the letter sent to the Tax Office which prompted this reply.  If anyone has access to a copy of it then please send to the author.

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy,traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted.   However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies”  is at best a little ill-advised.    In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin” or, come to that, a “sodding charity”.    More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point.   Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay  “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself.    The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark.    Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime,whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other,I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee
Customer Relations
Inland Revenue


Posted by: neilhopwood | September 22, 2010

They do offer other packages though

To be fair to Vodacom they are offering many different packages with prices starting from R250 pm plus buy-in.
See this article for a comparison between the various MTN and Vodacom deals.

Posted by: neilhopwood | September 22, 2010

Here is what I think of Vodacom and their prices

I mean seriously! Is this supposed to be a good offer?

African Spirit

Posted by: neilhopwood | July 5, 2010

Why Mzolies is no good anymore

What were some of the things you liked about Mzolies? The food obviously but how about taking your own booze in from the shabine over the road? The cars parked up with their music pumping to provide that fantastic atmosphere? Or some of the other things you may have not thought about like never really having to queue or sharing a table with some okes for fun.

I was always a bit dubious when they started taking bookings rather than the old system of just turning up but I have to concede to progress I guess.

Well all that has gone now.

Yesterday we had booked a table for 15 people to take some American friends to help celebrate the 4th of July with them.

Our table, which we had confirmed with them only an hour before by telephone, had been taken and the chap who deals with the bookings was not only disinterested but actually rude when we suggested that we share a table.

On arrival at 1pm there was a queue of around 100 people coming out the door of the butchers. I did stand in the queue briefly but when I heard that some people had already been stood there for 40 minutes I decided too much.

They have fenced the whole area off now, and where the cars used to park in the street is a tent with more tables so no vibe from the “street DJs”

There are signs everywhere “No alcohol from outside” so now you have to queue at their version of a bar and pay the inflated prices. Some people who I spoke to had been waiting 2 hours for their food and this was at 1pm. So god knows how long our food would have been after standing in that queue for nearly an hour.

The car guard demanded R20 even before I had got out of the car too.

Needless to say we left with our friends and decided to make our own braai at home. We were thoroughly disappointed and I personally felt a bit embarrassed after building the event up to our guests.

Is this progress I ask? I for one will not be going back there unless I heard its changed back, I can only hope this is Mzoli trying to make a bigger buck out of the World Cup and not a permanent feature.

What will they change next? Plates possibly, perhaps insisting that you wear a jacket?

Posted by: neilhopwood | June 28, 2010

Be Inspired South Africa

SA – It Does Not Matter

Posted by: neilhopwood | June 28, 2010

Now its all over for us

I can be honest and say that the England performance whilst being terrible yesterday was nothing more or less than we had seen from them during the whole world cup.
Its so true that the UK press spend so much time focusing on each player individually that we forget the team aspect of the game.
“Rooney should do this,” “Terry should do that” etc.
Given that every Englishman always expects England to do well but history shows that we never do, do you think if we ease up on them they might perform better.
Having said that I think some of the England games were possibly too slow for the pace of football the players are used to. Look at the 5 mins of brilliance we saw after the England goal.

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