Follow GBC with email updates by entering your email addy here...

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...

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like quite the adventure, glad everything turned out good in the end.

Tim

Anonymous said...

Welcome back G.B.C. You have been missed ;-)

Stuart

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good wee trip had to Shetland, just a pitty about the weather. Looking forward to getting up there in June for the show.

kawa

Shorty said...

I have said it before and I will say it again, you are either hardy or daft and I don't think you're hardy.

Anonymous said...

Shorty, I think most of us would tend to agree with you on that

Mrs. B.C. said...

I'll make this short. Who is that guy anyway, and what would he know about being hardy.

U N said...

Sounds like you had a great trip. Do you have a date for the show?

Mrs. B.C. said...

Goodness me, there's two of 'em!

Anonymous said...

Snapped off the terminal? That's a new one on me...you're such a pioneer.



BigBob

Anonymous said...

You must know her by now, she probably took the battery from the electric fence with those little brass terminals. Thats why she is always chasing sheep.
Slick.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I missed the question aboot the shirts, Yes your order is in.
A couple of guys are going to be wearing them in the U.S.A. soon, they are great guys and might pop on here to say hellow,
Slick.

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Hi UN, the show is 5th & 6th June. See you there.

Shorty, hope your finger hasn't fallen off. Can I say that? Oh well, I just did.

Thanks BigBob, a pioneer huh, never been called that before.

Funny you should say that Slick...I was wondering why the fence didn't work...

Stu and Tim, thanks for waiting for the report, awwww shucks, you really missed me?

Kwak, the weather wasn't really tooo bad, once we were inside the car!

To all the Anons, c'mon, don't be shy, get a name!

kawa said...

Seems to be a bit of a boat theme going on wi your pics, thinking of one of them next, lol

kawa

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous Boater Chick?


...and no, I don't have a shirt like Robbie...sniff

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Ah ha, Anon, you never know what Santa might bring you...but only if you're good...

Followers

Country Counter

free counters