So in 2010 I was very recently married, to an English girl.
We sold two homes and bought a rural property.
It ticked most of the boxes we both needed when combining two lives, safe place for the three cats she brought, enough bedrooms for her two kids and an office for me, to work from for my day job. Also a rather large garage for the junk I already had and would collect over time.
We both, along with friends, liked cooking on fire, and I had a large “Webber” style BBQ that served us and visiting friends well.
But, being a South African, I knew the way a Braai should be built, and a “small” portable steel thing was not big enough.
So I started off by corrupting my then wife’s thinking and soon had her telling me that we needed a decent Braai if our group of friends were to come visiting.
I selected the place for it to go, between the existing deck and one of the new raised flower beds I had created before.
Mickey at the time ran his own small transport company and had a long, high roof Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. So we had the sand and stone loaded directly into the rear of it at the builders merchants and mixed and cast concrete from the van, on my back driveway, as we had done another future proofing job at the same time. We each gave about a meter of our boundaries to make a shared walkway and concreted storage space down the side wall of my existing garage. 12 years later, it is still one of the best things we ever did, including a gate between our properties down in the bottom of the garden.
Maybe hard to see, but this is all covered over and closed in, allowing a huge 30 foot or 10 meter long dry storage space for wood, steel, concrete mixers, and a dry, outside workbench.
So carrying on with the mixing and casting for the foundation of the new Braai, we worked from the rear of the Sprinter. I really wanted to protect my lawn and garden as you can see.
I found some very thick, possibly 2mm, corrugated iron while clearing up and cleaning out down the side of the garage alley and out back in the farmers fields. I decided to make a frame around some of it after welding two lengths together, and then casting a reinforced floor onto it, on which to continue the build.
Looking back at the photos, I realise this was a very cool job, and doing it in summer, while unemployed, looking for a new job, was one of the most therapeutic things I could have done. At the time I was still taking on day jobs on building sites, a few weeks in a factory, packing pallets for the Eastern,Bloc countries etc, so making enough in a month to keep all the bills paid and save a bit, without touching my redundancy pay out.
Using kitchen cling film, I wrapped all the timbers before building them in, and the original street signpost that had laid in a ditch for years, yielded a lovely length of oak that worked perfectly as a feature piece above the fireplace.
Over the years I have had all sorts of groups of friends here, including mates like Thörsten, Michael, Ralf and others over here in their classic cars, on bikes etc and this BBQ or Braai has proven itself to be the most awesome place to socialise and make food. The Germans always bring me bags of pretty high grade BBQ Coal as “payment” for their stay.
And so in closing, I would say that if you can, build a Braai, small, medium or “Oh My Word” sized.
The only materials I paid for was sand, cement, maybe the facebricks, and chimney pot. A load of the materials were found, scavenged, recycled, donated etc.
It was not an expensive exercise, but certainly a worthwhile one.
Please comment if you found this amusing or helpful, also any tips for any other builders.
In the mean time, I need to get on and create new content for the YouTube channel.