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Saturday, 19 June 2010

The BIG Shetland Report...

The Grampian Classic MCC have a camping / B&Bing weekend every year, well, they have done for the last 4 or so years. Somehow, it usually ends up with me organising it. I suppose that’s no big deal, I’m going anyway so why not invite some other members to join me. This year I decided to take some Grumpyones to the beautiful Shetland isles, not just for a weekend of camping and riding around, but to visit the spectacular Classic Vehicle Show that they hold very two years. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to the show, it’s either 3 or 4, funny how time flies. Anyway, 6 others in the club decided to give it a go, but we had one drop out just a few days before – Captain Bill aggravated an old shoulder injury and had to give it a miss.

Thursday morning dawned bright and warm. I hadn’t fired Cubbie up since our last outing, whenever that was, so I manoeuvred the wee bike backwards out of the shed and down the ramp, past the oil drum that is still sitting there waiting for me to come along with my grinder and turn it into a fire bin, and down to the house. Most of my camping stuff had been located, including those illusive tent poles which Mrs BC found somewhere where I had already looked about 14 times, so all I had to do was load up and head on down to Aberdeen – after I had re-lubed the clutch cable. Out with a plastic bottle, chop a bit off and fix it around the cable with sticky tape, pour the oil in and.....yes.....seem to have arranged it better than last time and the oil didn’t all pour straight out. I left that to drip-lube while I dug my panniers out and filled them to the brim, slung them over the seat and piled the tent, poles, mat and sleeping bag on top and secured with plenty of bungees. I haven’t used panniers on Cubbie before because I was worried about them catching in the wheel, but after close inspection, I deemed that impossible because of the suspension bittys that they rest on. With the clutch cable fixed back up I reminded myself that I really must get a new cable one day; in keeping with Cubbie tradition, this one is held on with a few wraps of sticky tape.

The ferry didn’t sail till 5.30pm, so I had time to help Mrs BC catch the boy sheep and trim their feet and worm them as well as a few other farm jobs that you probably don’t want to know about. Then, with the hour of departure rapidly approaching, I suddenly realised I didn’t have my favourite neck warmer. I looked everywhere and then looked everywhere again, and Mrs BC cast her expert eye around the place but it was nowhere to be seen, so I after making myself about half an hour behind schedule (that’s not ‘late’ by the way, just behind schedule) I had to revert to my spare one. Mrs BC was out bottle feeding the six orphan lambs by the time I was ready to roll, so she opened the gate and I bade farewell to her and Mr Pickles, Piglet, Peggotty, Red Top & White Top (aka Jazz & Tazz) and Suzie-Sue, and Cubbie and I were off on another adventure.



The trip to Aberdeen was fairly uneventful, until we reached the infamous (to those in Aberdeen) Haudigan roundabout. This is the point where all roads meet and any time between 3pm-7pm, it can be queued chokka block back to the previous roundabout. No problem on a bike though, Cubbie's coming through! I love filtering. Straight across the roundabout, and I pass a police car waiting to exit a housing estate, which reminded me that I never did find out when Cubbie's MoT is due. Well, I'm sure if it was due they would have let me know. Into the town centre and the rush hour traffic slows up us again, causing Cubbie to get a bit hot and bothered. No room to filter in most places, so we've just got to sit and melt. Boy it was warm. Smoke began to flutter up artistically, from around the engine. Nip through the amber lights from the street with the police station, what’s it called, I can never remember, but we’re onto Union Street now and following a van that doesn’t seem too sure which way to go. Hang a left at the next lights and it’s all downhill along Market Street, until the next set of red lights hold us up. Some numpty in a car tries to sit in the middle of two lanes, and a few cars get stuck behind it, but not Cubbie, no Siree, we’re off again and fly across the junction and keeping in the left hand lane. Passing the ferry terminal I can’t see any other bikes, but as I take a left at the final set of lights, I see all the vehicles are parked up and people are mingling and having a chat in the hot sun. The nice man at the gate waves me in, I show my passport at the booth, receive my ticket and paddle the bike over to the line of ever so slightly agitated Grumpyones. Apparently they'd been waiting a little while for me, but no worries, we didn't board the boat for another 15 or 20mins, plenty time for Cubbie to cool down. One chap did comment about cleaning the bike, and I was proud to be able to point out to him, that I had in fact, cleaned it that very morning. There, look, just on the side of the primary chain case. Just visible was a small patch where I had rubbed some of the oil and dirt off by accident when I was topping the various levels up.

Once the bikes were all loaded we headed up to the deck and grabbed a good bunch of seats in the corner by a window. As there were 7 of us and only 4 chairs around the table, more chairs had to be acquired. Not as easy as you might think as everything on the boat is tied or bolted down. Good job one of our number had a pair of pliers and Damien wasn’t afraid to use them. Ahem. The evening passed by slowly to the gentle rocking motion of the boat, and the pack of cards I'd acquired from a fellow passenger who was returning from a stag-do helped to ease the boredom. Iain from Buckie and Damien taught us how to play Pontoon, or it could have been Blackjack, or it could have been a mixture of both, and later on I thrashed Briano at SNAP. That's more my kind of game, wild, violent and exciting. Bed time, Gordon Bennet, you don't want to know. Those of us who can't afford the luxury of a cabin found spaces on the floor or joined a couple of chairs together, or, as in my case, some managed to blagg a place on the sofas that line some of the walls in the bar and other areas. I thought I was doing alright as I had one whole sofa to myself, but that was until the snoring started. I was almost off to sleep, despite the racket, when two old guys came waltzing in, throwing down their sleeping bags and rucksacks, whittering on about how this was a good spot and ooh, I wonder if the shop is open (well you just came past the shop to get here) and how one of them would put his glasses in his shoe so that he didn't lose them. Arrrgghh. After discovering that the shop was indeed closed, as it had been when they walked past it only minutes before, they obviously dozed off pretty quickly as the racket in that particular part of the room tripled. So I took my little blanket and my pillow and set off on a wander to see if there was a quiet corner anywhere. All the sofas in the bar were taken, and there was an affa noise coming from the far end of the cafe, and the only place I could find a comfy looking chair was outside the toilets, which wouldn't have been so bad had the guys on the boat not visited it at least 15 times each during the course of the night. It also turned out that the comfy chair wasn't quite so comfy, and I ended up sleeping on the floor, which straightened my aching back our nicely, but I think I caught a flea or two.



By the time the 'ding-dong' went at 6am I was a slightly less-than-good mood. I needs me sleep, what more can I say. Still, by the time we filed down to the car deck, fired the bikes up and rolled off into the slightly grey and damp Shetland morning I was feeling a little better. It was jolly nice that Joe Gray and his gang from the Shetland Classic Motorcycle Club were there to greet the riders and make sure everyone knew what they were doing and where they were going. Our merry band followed me trustingly out of the compound and along to the Clickimin Centre.



We set the tents up and went into pay our dues, and after half an hour of the poor woman trying to sort out how and why we made a group booking, but the numbers that turned up were different, we finally managed to pay up. The on-site cafe provided delicious sausage / bacon rolls and full breakfasts and cups of tea, and Iain from Buckie produced his set of maps. A plan was hatched that we would take a gentle wander south, to Sumburgh Head. Consisting of Briano and his nephew Damien on a big red bike, Kawa on a Ducati (should we call him Dawa instead?), Iain from Buckie on a 1980 Suzuki GS450S, Gordon on his 196? BSA B??, Alan on his Velocette ????? and someone called GBC riding a Tiger Cub, we settled into a steady ‘classic friendly’ pace and made our way out of Lerwick. Briano took the lead, I made sure I went last for a change, so that I could stop for piccies without holding the rest up. After while we swapped around and Cubbie ended up in the lead, sniffing out some good little side roads. After a few little diversions and dead end roads, we stopped at the visitor centre in Hoswick for a refreshments break and to marvel at Briano's mobile tellingphone which Damian pointed out was a lot like the one in the small display cabinet of 'historical forms of communication' on show in the centre. Back out to the bikes and Iain from Buckie went through the now familiar routine of bump starting his Suzuki - the starter had packed in at the beginning of the Shetland trip, but hey, it would keep him fit. We avoided the black cat that came out to see us off and then proceeded to walk in front of an on coming van, and set off back to the A970. Turn left and we're off again, winding along the beautifully surfaced and wonderfully quiet main road until the next side turning took my fancy.




I considered the Exnaboe turning because I know that GBC Blogger Regular Geordie lives there, somewhere, but where exactly, I wasn't quite sure. By the time I had considered it some more, we had missed the turning anyway. Just along the road a smidgeon, we came to Sumburgh Airport. Not the main entrance, or car park, but the runway. Yep, the runway goes right across the main road and ends in a dramatic drop to the sea. It's quite something riding across the even smoother tarmac with all the lines, arrows and flashing lights at the end. Every time I cross I'm tempted to turn left and have a wee blast but always one to stick to the rules I obey the "AHEAD ONLY" instruction and cross to the far side. We pull up in the lay-by and as we look back, the gates are closing and two of our group are sitting on the far side having been lagging behind somewhat. I just had time to whip the camera out and get a snap of a plane taking off, something I have never managed to witness on my trips there. If the airport put a little more thought into it, the whole process would be made a lot more exciting by having the planes taking off at the sea end… We also tried to have a look around the iron age huts that are just opposite the lay-by, but the lads doing the strimming and mowing informed us the site was closed. Back on the bikes and off to the Sumburgh hotel, just around the bend and up the hill. It was rather busy there, but the staff were very helpful and gave us a room all to ourselves. Back in the car park, what did our wondering eyes see but a whopping great big steam engine thing (ok, I don't know the difference between a steam engine and a traction engine, even though I've driven one or the other), chuffing out sparks and smoke and all kinds of scary looking stuff. On our way north, there was another engine on the side of the road complete with fire engine, fire and flood. Apparently Shetland has been so dry of late that the sparks kept setting the verges alight. Ooh, I nearly forgot, we called in at a wonderful little museum on the way, the name of which escapes me, but Geordie will know when he sees the pic. Also took the scenic route via Ireland. No, really, we did.




After returning to the campsite, we were all pretty weary (it's a long way to Ireland and back) and hungry, and it was decided that we would head off to the town centre for some grub. I can’t remember why it took so long to set off, but Gordon had already eaten and opted to make the most of some peace and quiet at the site, while we all set off on foot, following Dawa on his idea of the shortest route to the Ghurkha Kitchen.


I think he was having what is technically known as a laugh, but which wasn’t actually very funny. It included every hill in the district. However, the meal was delicious and we managed to avoid doing the washing up, and everyone was safely tucked up in their tents by just after 10pm. Part timers eh!

Saturday morning dawned grey, damp and quite cold, but we only had to push the bikes across the car park to the Clickimin building where the motor show is held. Those of us exhibiting classic bikes signed in and received a neatly laminated info card to go on the bikes, full instructions about where to go and what to do, plus a very nice dark blue, Shetland Classic Motor Show mug. Could be tricky to transport home on a bike… For full details and pics from the show, you’ll have to purchase a copy of Old Bike Mart, some time in the next few months, but to sum the show up in one broad sweeping statement, it was fabulous AGAIN. Great bikes to see, interesting and friendly people to meet for the first time, or old friends to catch up with. I even bumped into my primary school Head Master, Mr Morton, who has a Triumph Mayflower. If someone had told me X years ago that I would be chatting to him all the way up in the Shetland isles I wouldn’t have believed them. The show was a two day affair, but what with all that gossiping to be done, bicycles, bikes, tractors, cars, steam engines (some from ACE Winches where we had a Club run to last year) and any other form of classic transport to see, I still felt I didn’t quite have enough time.





Ah, maybe because I also took a bit of time out to go and test the Man from Muckle Flugga’s Triumph Thunderbird. I had a wee shotty riding pillion to start with, and I can tell you, he’s no’ a bad rider – don’t want to make him big headed about this, but the journey was smooth and comfortable even though we were 'nipping on' a bit. I was then handed the keys and told to clear off and have fun. After nearly emptying the tank of fuel, I grudgingly handed the keys back to him, and promptly offered to buy the bike, so taken was I, with the whole package. We did a deal where although he retains possession, I get to call it MY bike and can ride it whenever I like, should I happen to be passing through Derbyshire! Again, for the full road test, it’s over to OBM, look out for it, it’s a stunner.



Saturday evening was spent at the local hospital where one of our guys, Gordon the BSA man, was taken feeling rather poorly. The gang all waited patiently for any news they could give, but Briano and I didn’t want them all to miss out on the Foy – the social get-together in the village hall, so we sent them packing to make sure they got fed and watered, and we hung around as moral support for Gordon. Coincidentally, a chum of mine, Bob-Bob-the-Triumph-Man from down Glasgow way, was also waiting at the hospital. His wife had been rushed in after a fall in which she had broken some teeth and split her gums open. Ouch ouch ouch, we wish Kate all the best for a speedy recovery. We finally got news about Gordon after 4hrs of waiting, and it turned out he ‘just’ had a bit of a sickness bug. The nurse said ‘just’ but the poor chap looked a lot worse than that and there was no way we were letting him return to a cold, damp tent that night. With the help of Maurice Mullay who popped along to the hospital after hearing of the situation, accommodation was found at the local youth hostel, where Gordon got a decent bit of kip and looked all the better for it in the morning. HUGE thanks to Maurice for that, and to Briano for keeping an eye on our buddy and to the rest of the gang for hanging around and missing most of the Foy. Also, should give a mention at this point to the chap who rushed Bob-Bob-the-Triumph-Man’s wife, Kate into hospital in his car, and who then turned up later in the evening to see how she was – Neil Sutherland – and my apologies for missing you when you came back to get a ride on the grubby little Triumph Tiger Cub after the show. Next time?



Sunday, slightly brighter, more bikes and people to see, take plenty photographs and write it all down. Sore feet, aching back but all for a good cause. Did you know, the show attracted 5200 paying visitors? Not bad for the most northerly show in the UK. There were over 500 exhibits including 16 cars from The Sunbeam Talbot and Darracq Register, the oldest of which was the 1903 Darracq and the ‘newest’ a 1936 Talbot Tourer. There were also classic bus rides around the town - I went on one, t’was a bit of a giggle. The photo boards at the show are also well worth a look, I love the old B&W pics from days gone by.



Sunday evening was good. I was invited to ‘dinner’ with the Man from Muckle Flugga, Pete and the Man with the Toe (don’t ask). The grub was good and the company different – in a nice way! After that, the Man from Muckle Flugga and I took the Triumphs for a blast up the hill behind the campsite, before going exploring on the other hill behind Tesco. I’m not sure the MFMF was amused by the off-roading sections that Cubbie led us up, but the view from the top across the bay was well worth it. He also made reference to admiring the finer things in life as, er, well this is a bit embarrassing really, as GBC stood up on the pegs and wiggled and wobbled up the bumpy track. A bit further back down the hill we stopped again. More splendid views. A couple of seals lounging around and barking and generally doing ‘seal’ things. Moments like that you can’t order, they just happen. I also did a bit of litter collection; if someone can take the time and trouble to put an empty baby food tin into a carrier bag, and dump it on the beach, why couldn’t they just go and put it in the bin, right next to the beach? It was cold and chilly by the time we’d had enough of the views, so we hot-biked it to town for some chips. Met up with Pete on the harbour and stood like fools, waving at the webcam. Also met some other bloke from Bristol who was munching on some pongy smoked fish. Then met another guy who wanted to stop and talk about Tiger Cubs….he used to have one….black and silver like mine…

Monday Monday Monday...what happened on Monday??? Oh yes, the Grumpyones seemed to have a plan, and I had the offer of a pillion seat again, and as the sun was shining, and I had to go to Whalsay, I decided to see if the owner of the pillion seat would mind a trip to the Bonny Isle. Turned out he and his mate Pete didn't mind where they went, so off we set. <>


20 comments:

The Chief Bodger said...

This is a great write-up GBC. This alone would be ample reason for anyone to want to join a bike club like the Grumpy Ones.

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Thanks CB, reading it again makes me want to go off on another camping trip!

Anonymous said...

Wowee! Fantastic writeup GBC. What an adventure :o)

Graham B

U N said...

Great write up and superb photos. Looked like you had a wonderful time and the weather had been good to you.
If you're going to be sleeping in a 'public' area, why aren't you wearing earplugs? Would save you being kept awake by talk and snoring.
Any why were you sleeping on the floor anyway? Didn't any nice chap invite you down to his cabin? I know I would have, nice polite chap that I am!

U N

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Glad you likee guys. I tried to wear ear plus UN, but one ear must be a funny shape and the plug just falls out, which serves to keep one awake as much as the noise!

The Chief Bodger said...

Found an old article in CB about the TR65. Seemed to be a last ditch effort by Triumph before they went totally belly up and from what a few owners have said, it was the best model that Triumph had made. A rare find then.

U N said...

If your earplugs fall out, hold them in place with gaffa tape!

U N

sfb said...

Great write up. I'd best set off on the Tribsa sometime next year if I want to get to the 2012 show.......

kawa said...

Great write up, and great long weekend.

Someone say snoring on the boat, cant say I heard a thing ;-)

sfb, it would only take a good days riding to get to Aberdeen for the Shelty ferry, well worth the trip

kawa

Anonymous said...

Man oh hen! where you off tae next.

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Who knows...but as it says on the pic...have tent, have bike...off we go!

SFB, go on, you know you want to, you can pitch yer tent in with the sheep if you need an overnight stop on the way to the ferry. Go on. I need some female support!

sfb said...

HeHe!! I've always had it in mind to take the Tribsa to Aberdeen as that is where he was first sold (the BSA parts anyway!)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip. Who owns the nice workbench with all the great tools? Hairy Larry

Geordie J. said...

The workbench is in the restored Quendale Water Mill, H.L. It is a heritage museum and has all sorts of lifestyle displays including this one of an old-time carpenter's shop. Note all the moulding planes on the top shelf.

Geordie J.

Anonymous said...

I wondered if it might not be a museum display, Geordie J. The can of WD-40 threw me off a little...like GBC, someday I'd like to get back to some furniture making and art. I have a collection of moulding planes, not as many, and some wooden bodied planes that look so similar to the ones in the pic. I wonder if mine might be English? They certainly are of a similar vintage. Ild bikes, old tools-all good stuff. Hairy Larry

Jon said...

GBC is right SFB,you know you want to, strike out and do it,the boy Rhys can stay with me if he dont want to go.

Darrell said...

Great words and pics, as usual GBC. I love your adventures here, the scenery and bikes are wonderful.

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Ta Geordie, I remember the name now.

Larry, looking forward to retirement (which the Gov is putting up by 6 years for wimmin, huh) so all these hobbies can be started again.

Jon, I'm right? Heck, always a first time!

Darrell, still looking for spoons. Keep you posted.

Darrell said...

You're too good to me: awesome pictures, great writing, superb camping and cooking tips, and a spoon search. You are truly a wonderful person.


(Ok, does that earn me a bowl of lamb stew?)

terence20001 said...

Great to see a tiger cub being used daily ,

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