Sand Dancers Rally

May 2013 - Tyne Phoenix MCC

We had just come back from a week around Paschendaele with the BS Club but instead of taking a weekend off to recuperate we decided to go to a new rally for us - the Sand Dancers, run by the Tyne Phoenix Club. Ted was on his Pan again but this time I used my R1150R BMW, more comfortable but somehow too easy!

Leaving after lunch on Friday we had a quick ride up to South Shields to the site south of the town on Marsden Beach, right on the headland on top of the cliff next to the Souter lighthouse. A good flat site with a marquee, lots of bikes but also a lot of cars. Not a problem.

We cooked our food and joined the crowd in the marquee, thinking we'd not know a soul. The music (6 bands, or was it more?) was too loud so we huddled as far from it as possible, or was it as close to the real ale as possible? There were four Mayflowers! We could hardly make ourselves heard but managed rudimentary conversation then left for an early night.

Up at midday to an overcast sky, we walked to the nearby lighthouse and on to the next village, Whitburn, for an ice cream. We caught a passing bus to South Shields and wandered round the town, taking in all the usual sea side attractions. We saw a row of curry shops but being from Bradford we weren't tempted. It seems a bit unfair to welcome immigrants to this country then settle them in the north east where, by dialect, they are once again trapped in a location.

We ate in a Hungry Horse pub after which I was amazed to see a minibus with Ted's name emblazoned on it. Evidently not so rare a surname up here. We caught the bus back and then ventured back down the cliff top road. In a car park we came across a strange concrete building. People were entering so we followed, walking down a shabby corridor we came to the end to find... a lift!

This took us down to the beach on which was a large pub built into the cliff. Most strange. It had been the hideout and headquarters of a notorious smuggler and the interior had retained most of the caves and dug-out rooms that he had fashioned.

Back up in the lift and back to bed. We woke at 9 o'clock, just enough time to 'enjoy' more loud music. Another friend from the Tees Tornadoes had arrived and it turned into quite a late night in the end. What a fascinating place, we must go back one day.

- Heather MacGregor