Simmer Dim Rally

3rd Simmer Dim Rally 18th-21st June 1984

In 1984 a pre-Shetland hiccup occurred in the week leading up to the rally. I had a meeting with a car, which more-or-less destroyed the fairing, unlike last year, when I just bungeed it together. I had to re-bend the indicator stalks down and re-fit the light units, along with the headlight and mirrors.


- Phil the Spill

Then I managed to run into the back of my club-mate Adolf, on the North Circular, 10 miles from home, in rush hour! This shattered the right-hand mirror and I had to arrange it so the largest remaining piece was facing back so I could just about use it. With engine running, this didn't help as the vibration rendered any image into a blur. Even worse, one of my panniers burst open, requiring a few dashes into the middle of the road and back to retrieve clothing.

We arrived in Aberdeen later the next day, after an overnight B&B stop near Berwick-on-Tweed and a slight diversion to see Lindisfarne.

We, plus another rallyist, were lucky enough to have been offered some spare bed/sofa space by members of the Aberdeen MCC, and they insisted on feeding us as well, apart from Adolf, who preferred to avoid the spagbol due to the garlic involved.

We loaded the bikes on the ferry around 1pm on the Wednesday and spent the next few hours getting suitably prepared for the voyage. (Pubs don't close in Scotland)

We staggered onto the boat about 5pm to a welcoming shower of water from the Tewkesbury & District MCC hit squad. A mention at this stage for Snapper from the ABC who decided at the last moment to go to the rally after all and strained the ligaments in his ankles while rushing for the ferry from atop a concrete post, putting him on crutches for the rest of the rally. The damage wasn't noticed until the next day, due to the amount of anaesthetic he was drinking.

The boat trip was noisy as usual, with the only bad point being a fire extinguisher being let off in the early hours of the morning, making the lounge extremely messy.

We docked at about 8am to the sight of grey clouds that, despite stormy winds, stayed with us throughout the rally. After the setting up of tents (some of which fell down almost immediately) we were called to the hall for the Boot Party where participants sit down at a table and pass around huge glass boots full of lager, and are fined 10p for practically anything.

The trip to see the sun at midnight was cancelled due to the weather, so the evening was spent in the marquee erected by the organisers and helpful rallyists, enjoying the barbecue while listening to two bands - one bad, one good.

Friday morning saw shattered rallyists setting off on the "Tour of Shetland" which turned out to be several miles of dramatic scenery and many sheep. Friday night was spent in the hall with good food, good band and with great merriment and wet clothing contests of course.

Saturday was the day for the games, which started at 10am and, after a break for lunch and a folk group, continued until about 4pm. The games were of the usual high standard and well fought.

During the afternoon we were joined by some Vikings who were taking part in the carnival in the evening and whose main contribution was standing around a dead Christmas tree and singing the Lonesome Pine (strange!).

After 6pm the coaches started taking us into Lerwick for the Simmer Dim carnival, at which the entire Islands' population get legless, culminating in a huge disco in Fort Charlotte. At midnight we staggered to the coaches that took us back to the site, where the partying continued well into Sunday morning.

Later on Sunday morning we awoke to sunshine and a drop in the wind making the tents decidedly easier to pack than it was to put them up. Yet another meal was provided and the many awards handed out. We then rode into Lerwick for the last time and awaited departure. As the boat left the harbour we were sent on our way by the customary shower of eggs and water to which we replied with the same leaving casualties on both sides. The trip back was, as usual, a little more restrained than the trip up, with no damage to the boat or crew.

We awoke Monday with Aberdeen in sight and, after unloading, we all went our separate ways, having had a memorable and entertaining rally. Certainly one of the best and most unusual rallies in the UK. Big thanks must go to the Islesburgh MCC, P&O Ferries and also the people of the Shetland Isles who welcomed us in a way not seen on the mainland.

- Phil (the Spill) Drackley