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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Thought you'd like to know...

...the first snow of the winter fell today. BRRRRRRRRRRRR it was perishing out there in the middle of Horse's field. Oh well, at least it wasn't snowing inside Cubbie's shed. Hope to get a new battery on order tomorrow and that'll be us ready to roll for the dry and sunny winter days.

Nothing much else to report, other than the fencing is nearly all done, but what a mess there is everywhere. With all the extra wet stuff a-falling from the sky, and tractors, vans and trailers gallivanting around, it ain't a pretty sight. Still, as Mrs BC says, it's gotta get worse to get better.

Oh yes, just putting the finishing touches to the Xmas Bash Quiz for our Grampian Classic club night on Tuesday. Should be a good one, with added technical questions from Graham B - you know, that author chap who wrote Improving Classic Motorcycles and Magnetic Speedo Repair.

Oh, by the way, heard on the radio that we're not allowed to wish people H_ _ _ _ Y C_ _ _ _ _ M_ _ any more because it might upset someone who is less well off than oneself. I don't suppose we're allowed to say "BAH HUMBUG" either!!!

Friday, 27 November 2009

BigBob's Day Out

On October the 4th The Virginia British Motorcycle Club held it's annual Rally at a new site in Manassas, Va. T'was a beautiful day to bring the British Iron out with new Hinckleys almost equaling the Meriden Trumpets in number. Other Brits and European bikes rounded out the entrants along with the odd XS650. Vendors inhabited the road ringing the display field along with the caterer for this Chat & Chew event.
Words and pics by BigBob from New Jersey, USA.

Looks like a familiar title in the pile of books in that last photo...Graham B, you're an international author!
Got about the same amount of pics again, so will split this post up and pop them up later, so keep your eyes peeled for BigBob's Day Out Part II.


Ok, so it was yesterday, but I can still wish everyone who wants to be wished it, a happy Thanks Giving.

I don't know about thankful, but I sure was embarrassed yesterday. Nipped in to my local garage (where that bloke I met at the airport works, and yes it was him by the way), to buy a bottle of gas, and as I was paying for it, my PIN completely went out of my head. It didn't help that Roy Cameron, owner of said garage, was muttering figures and numbers to another customer at the time. I had two attempts but chickened out on the third. No sooner had I got in the van and driven a few yards up the road, the number burst into my brain. Typical.

PS, don't go away, got some pics from BigBob's day out coming right up.

PPS, but in the mean time, while you're waiting, have a peek at this trailer vid from Watermill, the guys who were making a documentary at the Indian rally I went to in the summer - Looks like the full prog will be out some time in 2010.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

VMCC trips.

No sooner had I got back from Shetland, recovered from mild piggy flu, been back to work for a few days, then it was time to head to Dalserf (somewhere south of Glasgow) for the AGM of the Clyde Valley VMCC Section. This went well, I stayed with Paul and Lenora and Davy Crockett. Must say, Lenora makes a fine lasagne. Many thanks to them for their hospitality. The AGM went well, and it was good to meet all those from one of the more southerly sections - especially Gordon who keeps sheep, and rode in the Beamish Trial this year, and is looking for more of us from Scotland to pop down to it next year. Apparently, they're all looking forward to my next visit, in the new year, which will be a talk or perhaps even a video presentation about sheep. You see the sheep theme here?

A couple of days after the AGM, it was time to head south again to the VMCC HQ in Burton Upon Trent. Up at 4am on Friday 13th and along to the airport. They've changed the parking arrangements! I nearly got lost. Had to take the van as the indicators on the car had decided to pack up, and only noticed as I walked past, that Mrs BC had somehow collected a huge chuck of scenery on the tow bar. Cute. Decided to leave it. All those fancy posh motors in the car park, do them good to have a real work horse parked next to them. Could have sworn I spotted Roy Cameron, he of my local and most favourite garage, Cameron Motors, but assumed it couldn't be him. Too much of a coincidence to see someone you know at the airport at that time of the day.

The flight, although delayed somewhat, was fine apart from the gentleman sitting next to me a) kept sniffling and coughing and b) kept putting his elbow on my side of the arm rest, oh and it was too hot for my liking and because of chummy taking up one and half seats, I couldn't get the full benefit of the air con. Had a few hours to spare once at Birmingham so had a wander round the NEC. No one told me there was a huge classic motor show there. A combination of the mile long queues at every entrance and the £25 entry fee put me off going in, as I didn't really have time to do it justice. One of the security chaps told me there were only about half a dozen bikes anyway, so another reason not to waste my £25.

Tried to get on three wrong trains to get over to Burton. Why do they have to keep changing platforms? Is it just to confuse me? Managed to find the right one, and ended up sitting next a chap who kept grunting. They're an odd bunch down that way. Arrived at HQ with loads of time to spare, which was good as it gave me time to have a look round and a chat with various people. The Scottish Training Day was a popular subject amongst the other Committee members, and they want to know what bikes we've got, where it will be, how the plans are coming along and the date. Did I mention the date? Of course I did, it's SUNDAY 23rd MAY 2010 at the GRAMPIAN TRANSPORT MUSEUM in ALFORD. I'm still looking for bikes by the way, if you have a pre1930 hand change, lever throttle type of machine and you want to help introduce other people to the delights of these oldies, then give me a shout. And we'll need some marshals on the day, so if you fancy getting involved, joining in the craic and getting to meet not only the President of the VMCC, Colin Seaton, but the Chairman Kim Allen too, then stick your name down to help out. Contact me at cubbiescounties AT but change the AT to @.

It would seem the mid morning flights from Birmingham to Aberdeen are quite popular, and I couldn't get a seat on any for the following day, so to get home, I had to go on a little bit of a tour. First a train from Burton to Leicester, then change to the London train and get off at Luton Parkway, hop on the free bus (I think it was free, although I didn't book my flight through a certain website, so it might not have been free for me, although no one asked for any money, so technically, it was free) for a transfer over to Luton airport and a flight home. Apart from the lady in front of me making use of the little paper bag tucked into the seat pocket, the journey north was much better - three seats to myself and full access to three cool air blowers.

Well, I'm glad the travelling is over for a while, it probably doesn't sound like much to you, but all that packing and unpacking, and remembering to work in between makes life a little more hectic than usual. Since I've been back, we've caught both the rams and applied the raddle to them (loads of brightly coloured gooey stuff, go google 'sheep raddle') and put them in their fields with a selection of ewes, the fencers are still here, well, not living here, but visiting when they feel like it and have finished the top field and will move onto the veggie garden next week, depending on the weather, oh, and I've re-done my nails. So my apologies to all who are waiting for an email reply or a phone call, I'll catch up with you soon. Meanwhile, it's time to batten down the hatches and get through this next nasty batch of wind and rain. Hope none of you are caught up in the floods.

PS gotta say a BIG welcome to Redhunter from 'way up north', perhaps that could be Shetland...who knows....and what about a BIG welcome to all those who just pop in every now and then, just for a read. Why not sign up and follow the blog, or at least leave a comment sometimes, we're not that scary.....are we?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A terminal terminal. Subtitled 'Shetland'. Take 2.

It's probably easier if I just start from the beginning, even though you're probably, and understandably, completely fed up with waiting. But anyway, here's the gen about my VMCC trip to Shetland in the first week of November. Not the best time to be planning an overnight ferry journey really, especially as the preceding few weeks had been full of strong winds and heavy rain. At least I had ruled the camping option out. My original intention was to go in the summer and make it a club camping / exploring sort of trip, but what with finishing Cubbie's Counties and being in my first few months of Area Rep-ship, time didn't permit. Then we got to October, but that turned out to be just as busy as the summer, and then I wrecked my back, and then I found myself staring at the page in my diary that has a thing called 'Christmas' scheduled in it. So it was all a bit last minute really, I got in touch with my island contact, Geordie, who got in touch with Joe Gray, Chairman of the Shetland Classic MCC, and word came back that they'd love to see me (honest, that's just what they said, ahem), and that I could do a turn at their next meeting if I so desired. Well, desire I did, so they booked the venue and I booked a ferry, and the next thing Cubbie knew, I'd dragged it out of the shed, hooked my luggage on with bungees and sticky tape, and we were off. But only for a few feet and then Cubbie died. Fired up no problem but seemed to have great difficulty pulling away. Which was a little embarrassing as the two burly chaps doing the fencing were eagerly awaiting my departure - they could hear the noise but couldn't see the bike from where they were working. Turns out one of them is a Cub man, used to have one in his yoof.

After many attempts to get up the drive without stalling, we were finally hurting along the main road to Aberdeen, on a very blustery, not to mention damp, cold and rapidly darkening November afternoon. I had planned to leave early, before it started to get dark, but had found a mountain of things to do before I left, including double and triple checking that the ferry was sailing as the one on the previous day had been cancelled due to inclement weather conditions. So it was about half three, I think, by the time we were on the road. Just moments before that, Geordie emailed to say that Northlink go by the early sailing times in the winter so I'd better get a move on. What a wind up! Phew, glad November doesn't count as the winter, as that would have meant getting to Aberdeen for a 5pm departure, not likely to happen. Given the poor visibility and failing light, I had decided to give my nearly new, bright orange with reflective strips, Kevlar (or Goretex, can't remember, and they're in the other room, and I can't walk that far today) water proof over-trousers a try. Very nice they are too. Ok, I might have looked like a numpty off the bike, but when riding through angry stressed out rush hour traffic, I felt a whole lot safer. Which is probably why my filtering left a bit to be desired! Cubbie doesn't tick over. Cubbie requires blipping of the throttle when stationary. Cubbie tends not to appreciate being held in gear with the clutch lever in for any length of time. And besides, it's a motorcycle for goodness sake, when you see a line of dawdling cars, you just gotta go past. A brief stop at Asda for some air in the rear tyre, stupid machine, how the Devil do those things work? Then it was straight to the ferry terminal, rode up to the kiosk, cut the engine and the lady at the desk knew exactly who I was. Possibly because I was the only person stupid enough to be taking a motorcycle to Shetland at this time of year. And maybe because I was the last one to arrive. The 'assistants' (what else would you call them?) who are responsible for strapping the bike down all paid the greatest attention to Cubbie, so I left it in their capable hands, removed my inflatable pillow and blanket from the bungeed on pile of luggage and found my way upstairs. By choice, I grabbed a pitch in the Forward Bar - yes, that's the bit right at the front of the ship, primarily because it was pretty much empty and has fairly comfy seating. And a tele. And if it's empty, you get to watch what you want on the box. But being at the front of the boat does mean it gets a little choppy during a rough crossing. I'm quite a good sea traveller and my greatest irritation was that I almost kept rolling off the sofa.

We docked in Lerwick at some ungodly hour, about 7.30am I think, although I wasn't really caring, I just knew it was early and I had hardly had any real sleep. Cubbie started first kick and we rolled off into a haze of sideways rain and wind. The street with the B&B (yeah I know, luxury this time, I deserve it, I'm nearly as owld as you) was conveniently close to the road up from the harbour, and the very nice proprietress let me go straight to my room to drop my bags and have a bit of a rest. It was still raining and I didn't have any firm plans for the day, so headed over to the community centre, located right behind the B&B, to make use of their free Wifi connection. Then Mike Grundon from Radio Shetland phoned and asked if I would like to pop over for a chat, so I did, and the chat turned into an interview to be broadcast later that day. I would point you to the 'listen again' feature but the my interview has apparently been snipped from the end of the programme. Ho hum. Still, Mike was quite impressed with Cubbie, although not as impressed with the rather pretty patch of multicolouredness it left on the wet pavement outside of the Studio.

After a bit of lunch with Mike and a good natter about bikes, I mooched around town for a while until it was time for Tom Morton to come off air. He kindly read out many a Cubbie's Counties related email on his Radio Scotland programme over the year that I was 'on the road', and although he didn't have long to chat, I did get to thank him and put a face to the voice. Back to the B&B and time for tea, although I, er, well I have to admit, I dozed off for a while, and awoke, absolutly starving, with rather a shock, panicking that I'd missed my talk.

So I grabbed my bag and rushed out into the wind and rain, across the road to the community centre, had a bite to eat in the small cafe, and then started to set up for my video presentation. And that's where things started to go ever so slightly awry. My lovely, shiny, new, nearly top of the range, was-the-latest-model-when-I-bought-it-a-few-weeks-ago netbook decided that it didn't want to work. More specifically, Media-blimmin'-Player refused point blank to run. And that meant I had no other software on there suitable for playing a slide show. By the time I had tried a few tricks, the guys were arriving, and over the course of the next hour, two of them rushed home to get laptops for me, and I feel really rather bad that a) Maurice's laptop gave up the ghost and died on the spot, and b) the other chap (who's name I have in my notebook) arrived just as I'd fixed my netbook - sorry guys, and thanks! I finally managed to download a free media player using the very handy free Wifi access and all was well with the world, although that hour will rank as one of, if not the MOST embarrassing and humiliating hour of my life. Apart from the time when I....ah, no, can't put that here. The guys from the VMCC and Shetland Classic MCC seemed to like the videos and despite the late start, we had plenty of time for a chat afterwards. Can't tell you any more about that as I've got to write something for the VMCC Journal.

Proud prize winner Robbie with his limited edition Cubbie's Counties tee shirt.

In fact, can't tell you much more about any of it really, as there might just be an article in the pipeline for Old Bike Mart. Apart from...Geordie picked me up the next day and very kindly acted as a taxi driver, taking me around the island to meet various people, and then on the third day, he turned up with Joe Gray and they both ferried me round to look in sheds and garages. Oh, the tea (or in my case, cocoa) and the biscuits, and the lunch by the loch, and the fish and chips, and the food at Mrs Joe's house, oh, it was all such a hardship! NOT. Despite the weather, which was absolutely vile for most of my stay, I had a great few days in Shetland. Thanks to the B&B owner for allowing Cubbie to stay tucked up in a nice warm and dry garage, and thanks to everyone I met for the hospitality. I'll be back....for the show.

Oh, Geordie and I popped over to Whalsay too, so have some pics while you wait for the article...

The home leg from Lerwick to Aberdeen was equally, if not more rough than the outward crossing. I'm a good sailor, but even I had to call it quits and pretend to sleep rather than read or watch the box. I had a much more comfortable pew this time though, a lovely leather double seater sofa. Cubbie purred into life while the men in overalls waited for us to leave the car deck, and we pop pop popped our way into the practically empty Aberdeen streets. T'was very quiet in town at time of day (another early one) apart from an annoying taxi driver who wanted a closer look at Cubbie at each set of traffic lights. Up Market Street, right onto Union Street and under the Xmas lights that hadn't yet been switched on, left onto whatever that road is called that goes past Marischal College, stop for a photo, can't remember why now though, head out to Dyce, this is brilliant, no cars, no-one else to get in the way, just zoom around round-abouts as I please. Right, past the BP garage, marvel at the low hanging mist and how pretty it looks over the trees, suddenly realise how cold it is, and then just as we left Dyce, I had to stop for another photo or three. A couple of horses prancing about in the mist, with the rising sun casting just enough light to catch their warm breath at they snortled and danced at each other. Onwards to Newmachar, looks like a bit of frost last night, the verges are still white and crispy and salt is all over the road. Just thinking how well Cubbie was going....zooming along and a top speed of 56.1mph showing on the digital speedo...and then POP...splutter.....pop...crackle...dead.... It had to happen right in the middle of a fast double bend, but there was a handy lay by into which we silently cruised.

You know what it's like. Before you've even stopped, you're mentally checking things. I couldn't think of anything to check apart from fuel - yes, nearly full, and then the main fuse. The pop and crackle was a very similar pop and crackle to the time when the fuse blew at the National. Unfortunately, this time, it was still in one piece. Next up, check the lights. Zilch. Horn? Nope. Ah. Battery then. I bet you, anything you like (terms and conditions apply) that you would never have even considered that one of the terminals on the battery had snapped off, if you had been me, standing in that lay by. I'm not sure whether I was relieved or angry. Probably both. I couldn't think of any way of fixing it, seeing as it had snapped off flush with the plastic, so a quick text to Mrs BC had the Cubbie Rescue Vehicle mobilised and eventually, she came and picked us up. Silly me, I thought she was rescuing me, but we then went to the Doc's for our piggy flu jabs, where I came over all dizzy and faint. And that was before getting the jab. The Doc was satisfied that I wasn't going to collapse on the spot if I had the injection, so we went ahead, and I'm telling you, you think ordinary flu is bad? Stay away from anyone who has swine flu. Our reactions were only mild, so the full blown thing would probably knock you out for weeks.

That's about it for Shetland. Now where else have I been? Ah yes, Glasgow. Coming right up...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A terminal terminal. Subtitled 'Shetland'.

Cubbie and I are home safe and sound, despite some rather choppy seas and what could be called aggressive weather patterns. But you'll have to wait until I've had some food before I tell you more. Just ponder on what on earth 'a terminal terminal' could mean.

Some of you are close with your guesses, and I wish I had time to give you the full story, but I'm up early tomorrow and off to Glasgee for the Clyde Valley VMCC Section AGM, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait 'til Wednesday. Toodle ooh.

***Sorry people, I'm back, I've been catching up with work, and I'm off to Burton On Trent at 4am tomorrow, looks like you'll have wait a wee bitty longer for anything other than a two line excuse from me! PS, good to see you again Bantam Cub.

Monday, 2 November 2009

All my bags are packed...

Actually, that's a lie. A complete and utter lie. I never pack any bags more than an hour or so before a trip. But can you guess where I'm off to tomorrow evening? I'll give you 3 guesses....and some involves a ferry, a 12.5hr crossing and I'll be on VMCC duty. I think that's enough clues - Kawa, keep quiet!


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