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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scottish Double Part II anyone there? I wouldn't blame you if you weren't, but if you are, sit back and have a read about the Plus1, to be followed shortly by a few pics from the National...

So after the S&T it was back to work on Monday, and we squeezed in a run up to Portsoy to collect the herring for the *NEW* herring and ham supper we planned to hold on the second day of the Plus1 (Thursday) and then onto Peter & Lesley's at Mintlaw to stow it away in Lesley's freezer for a couple of days. Then it was along to the campsite to make sure all was ok for those entrants who had arrived straight from the S&T, which it was, and then home to do some paperwork for the the Plus1. It was just the small matter of putting the finishing touches to the *NEW* (for this year) Programme and then printing enough copies, and making up the rider packs. I can't remember why we didn't do that well in advance but there was a reason, and a really good one too, just that it escapes me at the moment. There was of course a small hitch with the print layout and trying to get the map of Inverurie town centre the right way round and in the right place, and then I had to go back out to work again. Very inconvenient but that's life. Tuesday and it was off to work early followed by another call to the campsite where Mrs BC and I carried out a bit of that good old fashioned highland hospitality - meeting and greeting the guests. Mr VMCC President, Bill Phelps and his good lady, Jean, had arrived along with Past Pres, Harry Wiles and his wife Fran and they were all settled in deck chairs and the like, with Pat & Jim from Oban who are great supporters of the Plus1 venture. By the time we left, most of the other long distance ones had arrived and pitched a tent or set up camper vans and were happily getting on with the tasks of making supper and settling in. The weather was bright and dry, despite a huge black cloud on the horizon, somewhere over near Cubbie Towers.

All was going so well until two of our entrants had a bit of bother with their B&B, and we had to hunt around for an alternative. Luckily the Saplin Brae hotel which is just a 5 minute drive from Mintlaw, had a couple of sumptuous double en suites available for the required number of nights, one of which even had a 4 poster bed, by gum. They say that buses come in threes, and sometimes, so do challenges. The next problem, sorry, challenge, to solve was a very last minute change of venue for our evening meal, due to be held on Wednesday night. It isn't easy to find somewhere to cater for nearly 50 hungry bikers at 24hrs notice, but Thistle Catering who run the small cafe at Aden Country Park somehow managed it. After a series of very frantic phone calls/texts during the evening, Mrs BC arranged for them to provide almost the same meal as we had originally planned, in the cafe at the museum, which also doubled as a small restaurant if we used the upstairs seating as well. We were actually in the middle of doing the shopping for the rest of the supplies for the herring & ham supper when these calls and text messages were flying around NE Scotland, so it was a relief to come home and get the final 'yes, we can do it'. But relief and happiness were soon knocked on the head when we discovered that our water pump, located in the cupboard inside the front door, had sprung a leak. It wasn't just a dribble, oh no, more like a high pressure jet of water bursting forth from the big red cylinder on the top of the pump, meaning that anything we tried to collect the water in, just had the effect of spreading and spraying it even further. It took a couple of hours for it to empty completely, during which time I carried on working on the *NEW* Programme finally getting it finished and printed and in the packs at some horrendous time in the wee small hours of PLUS1 DAY.

Wednesday dawned. That's about all I can say about it really. I'd love to be able to say it was bright and sunny and roasting hot, but it was kinda grey, dull and a little bit muggy. We were bang on time to leave for Mintlaw when bus (challenge) number 4 arrived in the shape of a very badly fly struck lamb. The poor little chap was being eaten alive by maggots and although the sheep are checked daily and thoroughly, sometimes you can't always spot the struck ones, and sometimes they can put up with tremendous amounts of pain and discomfort without acting any differently. If it had been a human having their thigh eaten by munching little wriggleys they'd be making one heck of a lot more fuss about it! So we had to catch him up and get to work with the scissors to trim the fleece back, and then administer the pour on treatment to kill the blighters. With the thundery muggy atmosphere being just right for flies we decided to put him and his mum and brother in the steading where it would be cool and dark. The whole job took an hour, so we were an hour late in leaving. Not to worry, with GBC at the wheel we somehow managed to arrive just 5 or 10 mins later than originally planned. We scurried about setting up the table and paperwork, and miraculously, just as we were ready, the entrants started to appear from the campsite. The set up at Aden Country Park is fantastic. The whole place is a huge country park (you would never had guessed that would you) with the campsite on one of the outer edges, and in towards the centre is the unique U shaped steading building, now a farm museum and cafe, and a small building opposite, which we used to sign the riders on in. It started to rain as Captain Bill and John got to work with parking and directing the bikes in the courtyard, and d'you know what, it DID NOT STOP ALL DAY. Mr VMCC President, all the way from Welsh Wales, did the honours of waving the first batch of riders off at 10am on the dot. I don't think he was too pleased with the fifteen foot square Scottish Saltire that he had to wave as it tried to smother him a couple of times. Tee hee. All the riders were away on time and then Terry from N.Ireland turned up. Great credit to him for getting up really really really early to come and join us from somewhere in the NE where he'd been visiting rellies, only to miss the official start and to have to get changed into biking gear and set off in the pouring rain. There was just time for a sneaky cuppa tea and a sticky bun before collecting the breakdown trailer from Peter's house (thank you Peter) and trailing round behind the riders.

It was a little disappointing that the rain was so bad that none of the fantastic views could be seen. One of the points of including the programme this year was to feature places of interest. Colliestown, just north of Aberdeen and just south of Cruden Bay was once a hot spot for smuggling with over 8000 gallons of contraband being landed every month and it's also home to Britain's largest colony of eider duck, bet you didn't know that. And, Lawrence of Arabia once rented a cottage in Collieston. So there. AND, as if that isn't enough to attract you, there is also a stunning view which is worth a look if you're passing, but not on a day when the rain is wall to wall, so to speak. The lunch stop was in Inverurie this year, and we'd listened to the feedback from last year when people expressed a wish not to be sent to one eatery with a pre-booked sit down meal, so this time, a small map of the town was issued with all of the snack outlets, pubs, fish & chip shops and similar, listed for their convenience. Inverurie is also a nice old market town to wander around in, with a good mix of shops, architecture, the rivers Ury and Don and just a generally nice atmosphere. Unless it's chucking it down. Peter Nicol, you know, the former world squash champ was born there. That's another useless fact for you.

In the afternoon, we'd suggested a stop at a Pictish stone circle. Loanhead of Daviot is recumbent stone circle built over 200 generations ago (that’s a lot of great, great, great etc grandparents!) and historians think that it would have taken about 90 people to transport and position the main feature of the monument, the ‘recumbent’ stone, which weighs about 12 tons. They also estimate that all that work was for the rather paltry local population of about 30 farming folk. Would you get 90 people from nearby towns to come and help 30 country folk build a village hall or a barn these days?

Mrs BC and I were having a fun old time chugging round in The Truck with Peter's trailer, and we were just approaching the village of Fyvie when my mobile rang. It was Terry, from N.Ireland, although he wasn't in N.Ireland any more. The poor chap had broken down, and it sounded like he was miles off the route so we set off to find him. The rain had eased a little by then, and luckily for him, he had landed up at someones house, where shelter and assisstance was provided. A few minutes later the phone rang again. It was Terry, from N.Ireland. Panic over, the bike was fixed. We suggested he head straight down the main road from where he was and into Fyvie village, where we could get him back on track. He did, but he didn't stop, just carried on going towards Turriff - not on the route. After waiting ages for him to return we gave up and set off back on the route, from Fyvie towards Cuminestown and then my phone rang again - can you guess who it was? Good ol' Terry, from N.Ireland. So we gave him directions to get to us once again and waited for him. He turned up and spotted us this time and we gave him explicit directions back to base, which he must have followed as he turned up washed and almost dried, at the evening meal later on.

Talking of the meal, it all went without a hitch, which, given the previous two days was quite surprising really. The food was good and judging by the happy chatter and laughter that rang out into the dark and now dry, evening, everyone had a thoroughly good time. A HUGE thanks to Lorraine at Thistle Catering and all her staff for the professional and friendly service, especially Hamish who was our personal waiter for the evening, and for whom nothing was too much trouble. With the meal done and dusted we had to get through the prize giving and raffle ASAP as the only problem with having the meal in the park grounds was that the main gate closed at 10pm. I managed to negotiate a bit of leeway though which gave us long enough for Mr President to give a little speech and for all the various goings on that have to take place. Bet you can't guess who got locked in the park? Hmmm, tough one, want a clue? Darn it, you got it in one; me, Mrs BC and Captain Bill. Luckily the couple who are in charge of locking up were doing the rounds to make sure our guests had all got out and stumbled upon us at the gate.

Blimey, there's more. Thursday morning arrived sooner than I wanted it to, and Mick and Linda's Lunch Run was ready to depart from Mintlaw at around 10.30 I think it was. I wasn't able to go on the run having no bike, and having the day job to go and do, but the reports I heard afterwards from all who did go, were that it was a stunning little route with a great lunch stop, that coped admirably with the greater than expected requirements for food. Well done M&L, same again next year?

I've lost count of the number of times Mrs BC and I trekked over to the campsite and home and various other places to pick things up and drop things off, but while the guys and girls were on the run and before I had to go to work, we nipped up to Peter & Lesley's to collect the herring, and the rest of Thursday was spent prepping for the al fresco supper. Gordon Yule, one time member of the Grampian Classic Club, and hopefully future re-joining member, had popped over on Weds evening and erected his small marquee for us, and Bob P, John A and a band of merry helpers (aka Plus1 entrants, thank you) had positioned and erected the Garioch Vehicle Restoration Clubs humongous marquee on Thursday morning before M&L's lunch run so when we arrived on Thursday evening, all was ready - including the picnic tables belonging to the park, all lined up inside the big marquee. Bob P had the forethought to fit up some battery run lighting too. Big thanks to Past President Harry Wiles for his help in the 'kitchen' where he aided Mrs BC in preparing the fish while she cooked, and I, known for my culinary talents, dished up the rest of the food. Hazel Thomson came along to sing for her supper and entertained the audience with traditional folk songs from the region and beyond, and there was much foot tapping and joining in, even though the Doric bits baffled a few folk! Using a public campsite we had to keep the jolliness down and shut up shop quite early, but again, everyone seemed to have enjoyed it.

Friday (the 13th in case you're interested) morning and we had to pop back over to Mintlaw to take down Gordon's tent and we would have helped Bob P with the Garioch tent but by the time we got there, our help was not needed. We really can't thank all those entrants who mucked in and helped with various tasks over the two days. In a way, it makes it all the more enjoyable, rather than having just a couple or three people doing all the work.

With both tents packed up, trailers loaded and rubbish disposed of, it was goodbye from them and goodbye from us as people started to head off in their camper vans and cars with trailers. For me, it was back to work. You'll be pleased to hear that the little lamb with the maggots is all better and healing up nicely.



Anonymous said...

I guess that I'm one of many who're not here, or there.

Good read, yer GBCness.


Anonymous said...

Alrighty...just in time for my lunch break at work...sounds like a great event. Feel like I got to visit Scotland for a bit. Great write-up and pics. I love the off-road rig with the aluminum body.Maggots! Yuck...I worked on a garbage truck one summer. We knew it was time to steam clean the back, when they would start to join us in the truck cab...yeeesh!
Hairy Larry

Bodger said...

Aye, another good write up there. A great bunch of people as well from the sounds of it.

So how does three someones get locked into a park?

Darrell said...

Great write up and definitely worth the wait. Shame about the weather, but then the countryside and the bikes can definitely make up for it. I really must make it over there for one of these. Just need a rain suit, and yellow vest, and umbrella, and, and and.....


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