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Friday, 26 February 2010

Things that go JUMP in the night.

Well that's what our Horse did. Went to feed her this morning and she wasn't there. Thought it a bit unlikely that she'd undone the gate, let herself out, tied it up behind her, and managed to get up the snow drifted lane without leaving any hoofy prints, but that's what it looked like for a moment or two. Then we hollered and shouted and she came trotting around the side of the silage pit - in the next field. She'd only gone and jumped over the fence! Mind you, it was a truly awful night out there, and perhaps something spooked her, or she just fancied a bit more shelter as the wind had turned round a bit. When she stands next to the fence, it comes about half way up her shoulder, not a bad jump for a wee pony.

The weather has been atrocious all day, with sideways snow each time we left the shelter of the steading to go and put a make-shift field shelter up for Frank and Horse. Then we came in as the blizzard stopped, had lunch, and by the time we'd had a go at the Farmers Weekly crossword (Kawa, you'd better have the March issue for us please!) and prepared to head back out, the snow had started again. Still, we had to take a bale of hay down the hill to the sheep, so snow or no snow, so we popped two bales on the tarpaulin, attached the tow rope to the front, and a handle to the back, and set off up the drive, knee deep in soggy, slippery slushy snow. Heaved the two bales over the big gate at the top (can't get it open cos of the drifts) and towed / pushed / pulled the load between us all the way down the road. Tis a mile on a good day, and feels like 5 on a bad day - today was a bad day. My right boot has split, and I kept slipping on the slush as I towed. Then as we turned the corner, the icy wind whipped straight across the empty fields and cast stinging cold flakes of ice in our faces and up under our hoods. Although we didn't have anything to lug back up the hill with us, walking home was nearly as painful on the legs and lungs as the outward trip.

Look at that, now we're home the wind and snow and sleet has stopped. Typical.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Snow snow, quickquick, snow.

Yep, it's here again. Quite a lot of it but very wet and soggy. Mind you, that didn't stop it drifting across the drive and the lane. Still, it'll give me time to catch up with a few things at home, in between lugging bales of hay around, digging pathways for the geese and removing snow from the greenhouse roof. The good news is Cubbie's shed is nice and dry and the snow is just sliding off the nice slick box profile sheets that are where they should be now - on the roof!

Don't forget, you've still got time to take some photos for the wonderful, world famous GBC Photo Comp. Any form of winter transport or travel will be accepted. Closing date soooooon so hurry up!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

An Announcement.

Ok, here it is. It's not the completion of the Cubbies Counties book (that is still 'work in progress'), nor is it a film deal where Cubbie would have the starring role, roaming around Scotland conquering counties left, right and centre and dropping a little oil now and again (but I'm still open to offers on that one). No, for once, it isn't even anything to do with Cubbie.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE....

The North East Scottish Section of the Vintage Motorcycle Club will be welcoming The One, The Only, The Legendary IVAN RHODES to Scotland on Saturday 22nd May 2010! Oh yes, he'll be bringing the world famous Roarer with him, as well as a selection of some of his other Velocettes for you to see and better still, hear! The plan at the moment is that he will present an illustrated talk on Saturday at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford, and Mike Ward, Curator of the museum, has kindly said he won't mind one little bit if Ivan wishes to fire the bikes up... I suspect there's no point in just starting them up when there's an empty race track at his disposal... And as if that wasn't enough for one weekend, on Sunday, as you know, the museum will host the FIRST ever Scottish Vintage Training Day!!!

This, be The Roarer.

Hey, it would be great if people want to come and see Ivan, and then decide they might as well make a weekend of it - camping and B&Bing available - and book into the training day too... Come on, you know you want to. The weather will be glorious, the atmosphere unique, and quite frankly, it's gonna be great.

Timings and tickets for Ivan have yet to be worked out, but you can get more details from me, (cubbiescounties AT aultan.com) and by keeping an eye on the blog, and for the training day, you have to get in touch directly with the Vintage Motorcycle Club HQ at events@vmcc.net or if the tellingphone is your thing, give them a call on 01283 540 557. Tell them GBC sent you!

Can't make it on Saturday?
Don't panic. Ivan will be spending a little bit of time in Scotland, and he'll be doing some more talks in other parts of the country, giving everyone the opportunity to meet him. Again, I'll post more details on this as soon as he's worked out his schedule, and I'll be getting in touch with the other Sections too so we can work out the best plan of action.

Ooooohhhhhweeeeee, I'm excited! I've spoken to him a lot on the phone and he sounds like a really nice guy. Can't wait to see and hear the bikes too. I wonder if he'd like a wee shotty on Cubbie while he's here....

Thursday, 18 February 2010

News news NEWS!

Well I'm glad you all seemed to enjoy SFB's training day tale, hopefully it will encourage a few of you to book a place at the Scottish training day on 23rd May - remember though, you have to book by the end of March.

I've got some news for you, oh yes, exciting news, you could even say it's big news.....but I can't tell you now as it's late and I'm tired and I'm off out early tomorrow, so check back over the weekend to see what the news is....no really, it WILL be worth it....

PS Hairy Larry...reading you loud and clear, great pics you're sending through, thanks.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

VMCC Vintage Training Day, Englandshire, 2008

As you'll no doubt know by now, Alford in Aberdeenshire, is playing host to Scotland's very first Vintage Training Day this May, run by the Vintage Motorcycle Club. We have a great collection of pre1930 bikes lined up for people to try (kindly 'donated' by VMCC members across Scotland), but there seems to be an air of nervousness amongst the potential audience. I know it's a bit daunting to think about hopping on an unfamiliar bike, with controls and levers you don't know much about, but that's the whole idea of the day - to offer you this opportunity to ride machines that you'd never normally get a chance to try. And if you like the experience, who knows, it might just give you the confidence or incentive to go and purchase a hand change or lever throttle bike. So, as promised, here's a report from one of the blogs regular readers, SFB, about her experience at the Curborough training day in 2008. Get yourself a cuppa, sit back and have a read. Then pick up the phone or tap out an email to VMCC HQ and book your place at the Scottish Training Day!!! Details to the left of this page...



Jon and I had been looking forward to this event for quite a while. It takes place at Curborough Sprint circuit near Lichfield and the idea is that VMCC members with vintage bikes bring them along for the day and bravely and generously allow people they’ve never met before to try out their precious machines. As well as full VMCC members, non-members can come along and pay a nominal fee to become a day member but you do have to book early – it is usually advertised in the well known magazines for classic bikes. I was quite worried beforehand about the prospect of riding someone else’s bike with different controls to those I am used to – such as lever throttle and hand gear change and all those extra levers peculiar to vintage machinery.


My first ride was on a 1943 James with a Villiers engine and three-speed hand change. This was such a sweet, friendly little bike that I soon felt comfortable riding around the track and would happily have ridden for more than the four laps allocated to each person. Jon was far braver though and took his first ride on a Ner-a-Car!



In all, I rode eleven different bikes during the day and Jon rode fourteen or fifteen.While I most wanted to ride the BSAs – a military M20 and a couple of Slopers – I have to confess they weren’t my favourites. Among the men who were riding(everyone else but me!), the general consensus was that they felt really comfortable with the BSAs and this showed in the way they were leaning them around the bends on the circuit. The M20 had a beautifully precise gear box (in spite of warnings to the contrary from the owner) and lots of “feel” at the clutch, which was brilliant when strong gusts of wind blew lots of branches across the track and I was holding it in first gear, barely moving, while the marshalls were clearing the track – it just felt too big, but nothing that a bit of tweaking the handlebars and seat wouldn’t have cured.

My favourite bike, and one that I would happily have ridden off the track and all the way home and kept forever was a 250cc Rudge Whitworth, with a grip throttle and hand gear change, rigid frame and girder forks. It started incredibly easily and was
very confidence inspiring. I even overtook people when riding this one and couldn’t stop smiling – the marshall turned a blind eye and let me get an extra lap in!



Another favourite was a 250cc AJS with lever throttle and hand gear change and I found that the lever throttle really made sense as you could “set” it in position while you let go to change gear, something you can’t do with a grip-throttle. The owner told me I probably wouldn’t get into 3rd as “most people haven’t needed it on this track” so I just had to try and found that by accelerating quickly out of the bend at the far end of the track I could easily get into third and blast up the straight before slowing down for the Start/Finish point.


Oooh, is this SFB by any chance???



Amongst all the more exotic machinery, there was a shiny black single-seat 2-speed NSU Quickly. I thought I would be unusual in wanting to ride that one but everyone gave it a go and seemed to enjoy it. On a fairly short, bendy track and with everyone riding bikes that were unfamiliar to them, it was easy (but strangely satisfying) to hold the throttle open all the way and overtake everyone! The owner of the NSU also had a very nice Rudge 350 Special, another bike that made me feel I could set off down the road on it quite happily.

I struggled with a Triumph TT. I couldn’t start it myself and stalled a few times on pulling away. I would have given up and saved myself any further embarrassment but the owner was determined I should ride it and after much bump starting, I finally set off. I was pretty sure I’d stall it again if I changed up a gear so I bimbled very slowly around one lap of the course just so I could say I’d ridden it!


Another highlight was piloting Geoff Brazendale’s Sunbeam sidecar outfit, with Jon in the sidecar and Geoff on pillion. I’ve never ridden a sidecar outfit before and was keen to try it out. We enjoyed a fairly sedate lap of the course and when it was time to stop, my fingers couldn’t reach the levers quickly enough – they seemed to have been designed for people with very long fingers - and Geoff had to reach round and grab a handful of brake for me.



Everyone I spoke to agreed that this was an excellent day out and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It convinced me that I needed a different sort of bike – preferably a rigid-framed, girder-forked single with hand change and a lever
throttle. I was lucky enough a few months later to be loaned a 1936 BSA XO by a friend in the VMCC, which ticked some of the boxes although it had been converted to the more familiar foot change. Along with the Rudge-Whitworth 250 I rode at the vintage day, it was one of my favourite bikes ever and I would love to have owned it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for sale.

Thanks to the vintage day and the XO experience, I was convinced I needed something rigid framed and made the decision to sell my W650. I bought a 1946 tele-rigid BSA B31 which is still in need of some work and I look forward to the day it is road worthy.



I know the VMCC vintage training days have inspired others besides myself and
Jon to buy and enjoy an older motorcycle – I think that makes them a success and
shows that the VMCC have achieved what they set out to do.

Well, there y'are, how do you fancy that? Sounds fun to me. Unfortunately, I probably won't get time to try the bikes as I shall be busy running around helping out and taking lots of photos for the collection, so I'll rely on you to tell me what it was like. Incidentally, SFB has her very own blog over at www.kittensandmotorcycles.blogspot.com but I shouldn't really tell you that 'cos she's a BSA fan!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Just in case...

...you stopped by to check out the pics for the comp, or to get all the gossip about what a training day involves, I just thought I'd let you know that I'm up on the roof of the shed putting the box profile sheets on. Well, ok, I'm not actually up there now....but I will be in a minty. Managed to get one side done, had a late lunch and now off for stage two before it rains....

We were back out at about 3.30pm to start on the second side and managed to get all five sheets fixed on, although there is still a bit to do as it got so dark I couldn't see to put the final few fixings on, and the ends need a little attention. Don't quite know what to do with them as they stick out by about half a ridge, but would imagine that there must be some special kind of 'end pieces' that one can purchase. Oh yes, and the bottom edge seems to run out a bit, much more on this side than on the first, but I'm sure it's nothing a grinder can't cure. And a ridge piece is needed. But for now, the bits of felt that had ripped off and split along the ridge were replaced and with the box profile sheets on top it can't rip off again, and no daylight is visible from inside, so hopefully it's nice and waterproof again. Cubbie will let me know in the morning if it isn't. Too tired to write any more that makes any sense, so have a look at the pics instead.


Friday, 12 February 2010

Things to look forward to...

Over the weekend I've got some more photo comp pics to post and a superb account of a Vintage Training Day from one of the regular bloggers, the SFB.  Don't ask me what that stands for!  Make sure you pop back.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Curse of GBC. Plus, The Mystery Package.

Saturday was rubbish as I had to work, Sunday was fun as we went and took a couple of cars for a test drive, yesterday was rubbish because it just was, and today, well, it's not going too badly yet, although I do feel a little bit under the weather.  As for the curse of GBC, I thought I'd tell you about this because you might find it mildly amusing.  We went to look at a couple of cars at a local garage, just to see what was what, and the owner said we could take the red one out if we liked.  It had just come in, had been valeted and smelt of polish.  Filled in a form for insurance, hopped in, and off we went.  It was quite a nice drive, but then it's a lot newer than anything I've driven before, so I suppose it should be.  We must have been out for about 45mins, around the main roads and small bumpy back lanes, testing it on muddy verges and snowy laybys.  We were very impressed.  Took it back, slightly muddy around the edges, and were just having a closer look at the various features.  I suddenly remembered I hadn't looked in the boot, so went to open it; locked.  Tried the key in the lock, still wouldn't open.  Beep-beeped the magic button on the key ring a couple of times and still it wouldn't open.  Stuck the keys in the ignition to see if that made any difference, but it didn't so gave up, shut the drivers door and went to look at another car.  When we had arrived back at the garage there was a car in my way, so I just parked in the middle of the road that runs along the back of the office, then, the offending car moved, so I thought I'd move the red car out of the way...ooops...keys were in the ignition and all the doors were locked.....!

So we shuffled off and the owner asked if there was anything else we needed, so we asked to take the green car for a spin.   Same model, slightly different spec.  No problem, off he went, got the keys and handed them over.  So we fired it up and in order to be able to see when I turned it round, I fiddled with the window buttons and put the passenger window most of the way down, and off we went.  Once up to speed, Mrs BC said she would quite like the window shut now please....no problemo...ah.....well.....actually, there is a slight problem....yep....it wouldn't shut.  Wouldn't budge at all, apart from going down.  So we went for a short drive.  Well it had to be short for two reasons.  One, the window, and two, the fuel gauge was right over in the red.  Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been?

Upon returning to the yard, we parked it back where we'd got it from, and cheerily informed Mr Garage Owner that the rain was now soaking the passenger seat.  He didn't seem too bothered, but I bet he won't want to see us back for a while!

Now, for the Mystery Package.  Well it's funny how, sometimes, you can be having a really bad day, and then something comes along and cheers you up.  A small white envelope arrived for me yesterday, with a suspicious lumpy bit in the middle.  The address has been written in a mixture of blue and black ink, and a simple message adorns the rear of the envelope : DO NOT OPEN UNTIL VALENTINES DAY.  Its all in capitals, postmarked Norwich.  Hmmm, should I be bad or should I do as I'm bid and not open it?  But I'm curious!  Who sent it?  Mind you, no doubt it will be one of many this coming week.  Come on, was it one of you lot?  I only know one person in Norwich.  This is worse than Christmas or birthday pressies.  Right, I need a clue.  I bet it's a pressie for Cubbie, now that would be funny!

By the way, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm running a winter photo competition.  So would you PLEASE enter it.  Go on, you could win a free subscription to Old Bike Mart.  I've got some more shots to post up soon, and just to let you know, Head Judge Phil Mather is keeping an eye on things, so hurry up, closing date is soon.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Rant.

I don't know if it is just me, getting older, but when I went to work yesterday, in the late afternoon, I found I was constantly amazed at the lack of consideration and pure bad manners demonstrated by other drivers.  What passes as a main road from our village to the proper main road, all 7 miles of it, had not been cleared or gritted after the most recent snowfall, and was only open due to the traffic flow.  As a result, the surface is slippery like polished marble, and bumpy and uneven, like a rough cart track.  My old van can't cope with being thrashed up and down over a surface like this, so I was toddling along at about 30mph, wincing each time the exhaust got bashed and listening to the rattle of the CV joints or whatever it is that rattles over bumps, and letting people behind me go past because they obviously don't mind wreaking their cars.  Oh, forgot to mention that the road has gone from being wide enough for two cars to pass easily, down to a one and a half car width.  The last thing I need is an idiot, flying around a bend towards me, the car literally leaving the road after impact with the bumps, and the driver most obviously out of control.  Had I not climbed up the wall of snow on the verge and nearly got stuck, I would have had lost more than a wing mirror.  There's no need for driving like that.  Ok, he might have been in a hurry, but I could see him, I had my lights on as the daylight was failing, and he couldn't be bothered to slow down carefully, and in enough time to allow us to pass in relative safety.  Then, when I got down on to the main Aberdeen road, the temperature was below freezing, the road again was less wide than usual, and on each carriageway, there was a ridge of snow and ice in the middle.  I was in a nice line of traffic, travelling steadily and carefully, and I had to be the lucky one who had the numpty driver behind me, weaving around with his lights in my mirrors, trying to make me go faster.  Well I'm sorry, if you can go faster in these conditions, feel free to overtake me, but don't expect me to pick you out of the ditch.

I'm sad to say this doesn't only apply to car drivers.  When I met up with a local modern bike group a while ago, to attend a MAG demonstration, I was overtaken on a blind bend by about 4 sports bikers, in a 30mph limit.  Needless to say, I was boring and doing 30mph.  Is there someting wrong with me?

By the way, had another few VERY GOOD pictures in for the photo comp, so come on, you've still got time, take your camera with you next time you go out and get snapping.  Just to reiterate, it doesn't matter if there isn't any snow, a bright sunny winters day picture with some sort of travel or transport related thing in it, is just as good as one with a blizzard.  And if you're not in the UK, and it isn't technically winter in your part of the world, that's ok too, because it's winter here, and I make the rules!

Monday, 1 February 2010

A few updates - Jumble & Training Day News

First of all, I should apologise.  I was due to be at a Committee Meeting at Allen House last Friday, but had gone and got something that I can neither describe as a cold or the flu.  Just (yeah, 'just') a throbbing head, ear ache, very sore throat and a general feeling of illness.  As you can imagine, I didn't much fancy getting up at 4am and sitting on a train for 8hrs.  Plus, when I did wake up early, to see if I was up to the journey, I looked outside and all I could see was snow.  Everywhere.  And at that time of the day, the roads would have been a bit dicey.  So I'm sorry about that, thanks to everyone who had previously been in touch with comments and suggestions for me to take to the meeting - never fear, the discussion about how to attract younger people into the world of old bikes and to join the VMCC will be scheduled for the next meeting.

My last Area Rep related trip was down to Glamis the week before that though, where I presented a slide show about my work as Rep, hopefully enlightening the members as to what goes on behind the scenes.  Most of them stayed awake until the end, when the evening was rounded off with a short video related to the slideshow, but with some groovy music that got the old toes a-tapping, and photographs from my travels last summer.  Thanks all for your very encouraging feedback, and welcome to all those new bloggers who, I hope, will now be checking in on a regular basis.

Talking of that, it's a funny old thing this blogging, although I suppose it's no different from writing in a magazine really.  Whichever medium one uses, one can never be sure who, if anybody, actually reads it.  That's what I like about this place, some kind people, from time to time, leave messages for me.  It's great to know that at least those half a dozen people read it and take the time to digest the posts and think of something witty or relevant to say.  Call me greedy, but I want more readers like that!

Cue some instructions on how to leave a comment....

Right, you're here, on GBC's world famous Blog.  You like / don't like what you read, so you think, I know, I'll leave a comment and put the lass right on a few things.  Fairy nuff. 
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the post you would like to comment on.
  • Click on the bit that says "0 comments" (although that "0" might be any other number).
  • A page will open up, entitled "Post a Comment On: Gorgeous Biker Chick".
  • On the left will be any previous comments, and on the right, a box entitled "Leave Your Comment".
  • Write your comment.  Criticism can be taken (just) but please keep it clean or it will be deleted.
  • Then you need to choose your identity.
  • If you have a Google Account, then you can sign into that, and your comment will be signed with your Google ID.
  • If you don't, just click on the little circle to the left of the word Anonymous but remember to sign your name in the actual comment box, or I won't be able to tell one Anon from the others.
  • Then click on PUBLISH COMMENT in the orange box.
  • I don't think there are any word or letter verification hoops to jump through, but if a screen appears asking you to type in the words / letters / numbers that are in a box, just type it in exactly as it is.
  • Your comment will then be directed to my 'dashboard' and I will delete any spam or abuse and publish all the rest.
Simples, as they say ;-)
So to encourage more of the commenting kind of behaviour, Mrs BC has suggested another NEW feature - don't worry, Graham B will still be doing his Top Tips through the rest of the winter, but come the summer, I'd like more of you to participate.  I agree with Mrs BC that we really do need to hear from more of you.  Let's be having a story or two please - it can be about anything to do with bikes.  Your first bike, your worst bike, your best bike, your mates bike, your fav biking adventure, best road, worst biking holiday, best or worst show or rally you've been to.  I don't know, just write a wee story for the blog, it doesn't need to be a literary masterpiece - imagine you're down the pub wowing everyone with your story telling ability.  At the end of the year, we'll run a vote and the readers can decide who deserves the, as yet, non existant award, for the most entertaining story.  Send 'em in as and when, no deadlines as such.  Great, looking forward to reading them already.

***NEWS FLASH***  Just to let you know, we've got about a dozen brilliant pre1930 bikes for you to try at the FIRST EVER VMCC SCOTTISH TRAINING DAY on Sunday May 23rd, so if you want a go, give Allen House a ring and book your place.  NOW.  They'll all be at Alford museum for you; Triumph, Sunbeam, Panther, Rudge, AJS, Ariel, BSA, Scott, maybe even a Powerplus too...  Places are limited so get cracking.

Oh, talking of stories, just found another interesting blog to add to my list - give SFB a visit over at http://www.kittensandmotorcycles.blogspot.com/ and find out about her Tribsa and BSA projects.

And another ***NEWS FLASH***
Scottish Autojumble goers take note! This year after 15 glorious years of the Great Spring Autojumble and Spares Auction being held at Perth, the Venue moves to FORFAR on Sunday the 18th of April 2010. Due to the closure of Perth Agricultural Centre the Central Scottish Section of the VMCC have been fortunate enough to find a new venue at the Auction Mart in Market St., Forfar. Lawrie & Symington have had the vision to build this whacking great exhibition hall , loads of parking, catering on site, outside and inside stalls, entry and stall charges as before. More info call 07925535403 or greatjumble@googlemail.com

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