Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dusting the dustsheet!

Morgan ownership brings a sort of madness I suppose. Many would say that I was mad to buy one, but like many others I was wooed by the sheer beauty of their form and in an act of almost total irrationality find myself loving and cosseting my eccentric purchase.

The garage nestling under the Silver Birches
The Morgan's garage is of the sectional concrete variety, a choice that I now regret and wish that I had got a wooden one instead, perhaps avoiding the problem I have in the winter months of trying to limit the amount of condensation formed.

In an effort to control this, I have carpeted the floor and lined the walls, whilst keeping the main window open at all times, the orifice being protected by a metal mesh panel to keep out the birds etc. Additionally all the corrugated openings in the roof panels have been left open to allow full airflow, fine when the weather is calm, but on a day like this, with gale force winds, hundreds, nay thousands of seeds from the two silver birches, nicked as seedlings from the Forest of Bowland when I was knee high to a grasshopper and that are now 70 feet high, blow in and shower on to the dustsheet protecting my little darling.

Inside the 'luxury' accommodation.
Which is why I now find myself, recovering from a painful bout of sciatica, hoovering the bloody things off the sheet.
Because, after all, the last thing any self-respecting Morgan owner wants, is dust on their dustsheet!!  

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Couldn't resist....even in my state of health!

You know how it is, you're teetering on the brink of collapse, take a large dose of strong painkillers prescribed by the doctor, that disguise the full extent of the problem, feel considerably better, look out of the window at a sunkissed winter road, don a woolly hat, driving jacket, gloves and looking like Scott of the Antarctic make your way to the Morgan garage.

More to the point I just had to go to the car to check that I could still get in and out of the thing, smitten as I am by a rather acute dose of sciatica. God knows what caused it, although I suppose it's a fair bet that the damage was inflicted when removing a rather large Robinia tree from our garden and assisting in the severe pruning of a very large Blackthorn tree at my sister-in-law's property.

It's very true that age is just a number and you are as young as you feel, but the fact is, that satisfying and reassuring as those statements are, the old body lets you know all too easily, when you are clocking on a bit, that you can't do just what you could in your thirties or forties!

The good news is that I was able to drag the poor, wracked, disease ridden body into the car, had a splendid drive out into the country and perhaps more importantly was able to ease the body out again!

So I am clearly well on the way to a full recovery, and ghastly thoughts of maybe having to throw in the towel at the dealers and offer the car for sale, on the basis that access to the driving compartment was alas impossible, have now been erased from my mind. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Volvo milestone....

.....well it is for me!

My 2002 V70 D5 has just clocked 100,000 miles, the biggest mileage that I have completed in any of my  cars before changing them. On previous occasions, when my cars reached around 40,000 I generally traded them in for a newer model and then invariably thought, why the hell have I got rid of it, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the car! So this time it's going to be different.

Why should I change this wonderful piece of Swedish engineering when it is immaculate, extremely comfortable and gobbles up the miles easily and economically with its 2.4 litre diesel engine? Why should I launch myself into debt or use valuable capital once again to replace it, the car owes me nothing? In any case I still think it is one of the best looking estates on the market and hopefully it will be our everyday transport for another few thousand miles.

My relationship with the marque began when I bought my father's 121 Amazon in 1969. Apart from a couple of company cars in the intervening period, Volvos have always been part of our family and great cars they have been, with the notable exception of a 343, bought as a second car for my wife, that turned out to be a real rot box.

People often asked many years ago, how I could afford to run a Volvo and my response was always, I can't afford not to! This was at the time that Volvo supplied a sticker that you could stick on the rear windscreen proclaiming "Volvo for the fortunate few", a sentiment that I totally agreed with but felt, after a few days, that I might be encouraging certain individuals in society to to react aggressively towards the car, or me, or both and took it off!!! Utterly reliable, safe, economical and with service costs comparable with many lesser marques, they have been superb.

Through my cars I have always felt an affinity with Sweden and was therefore delighted when I was contacted on 'Talk Morgan' by Kenneth from southern Sweden, who now follows my blog and I his, at

My blog will now fall quiet for a week, as my wife and I are visiting our lovely daughters and their families in Warwick and Camberley. We shall be whisked there in supreme, effortless comfort in our 'long in the tooth' Volvo!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Up the Creek!

Ready to go!
At this time of year particularly, if you haven't laid up the car for the Winter (why anyone should want to I don't know!), it's a good idea to take every opportunity, if the weather is decent, to get the Morgan out of the garage, give it an airing and even if you are only going to travel a short distance, ensure that you get the engine up to full working temperature.It's got to be good for the car and it's good for me, giving me a good dose of adrenalin!

So after clearing a load of brushwood for sister-in-law and taking it to the local tip in my trailer and before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was screened on the telly I went for a little drive. 

The weather was excellent, with the sun shining, temperatures very respectable, the roads dry and little wind. Very soon the real winter will set in and opportunities like this will get more infrequent. 

With an immaculate car,  washed a few days ago, in preparation for another load of wax polish I was really enjoying myself as I made my way up the creek road, just three miles away from home. The tide was in, the yachts from the local yacht club were sailing in the estuary and I must say that I rather fancied being in one of them, my love of yachting once more being rekindled by the sight.
Not a soul in sight, lovely!

I took some photographs, headed out into the country to a friend's home and then travelled back home through the local town centre, the car attracting all the usual attention. The trip had taken around an hour and had for the time being at least, satisfied my desire to drive the little bugger!

Earlier, when I mentioned cleaning the car I was reminded of something the dealer told me some days ago, about a 2007 4/4 that had been brought in for sale and which was an absolute disgrace, stone chips rusty chrome etc. The dealer had told the owner that they would have to spend at least a £1000 on bringing the car up to an appropriate standard and if they weren't prepared to spend that amount on it the car could not be accepted by them and would be returned. Four years old!!!!!

It's all about pride of ownership isn't it?

Personally edited article first appeared in 'Miscellany' January 2012

Friday, 11 November 2011

A Day in the Dales
The day dawned, one of those sparkling, late summer mornings with a hint of autumn in it, a day that promised much, especially to those lucky people with a Morgan in the garage. It was time for another very special drive and a picnic in the glorious countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.

Bowland scenery
It is extremely handy to have a house that is next door to a delicatessen, providing all the culinary delights to enhance a picnic and this was quickly achieved, filling our square shaped insulated bag that fits perfectly behind the passenger seat.  The expensive wicker hamper, bought soon after buying the Morgan, has never been used, due to the fact that it has enough equipment in it to meet the needs of a large family. Although it has to be said that it does look good on the luggage rack and perhaps one of these days its use will be justified.

The picnic spot with Morgan in background
There is always a feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach when I just think about a drive in the car, never mind actually driving it, and that morning was no different. With the 4/4 nicely warmed up, we set off from home along the well worn road east to the A6, bordering  the western edge of the Forest of Bowland (great chunks of which are owned by the Duke of Westminster) and the thinly populated fells to the east where we were heading.

Arncliffe village green outside 'The Falcon'.
It is amazing and gratifying, that in a country so heavily populated, there are vast areas where you can travel for miles without seeing a soul and there can be no better way of experiencing this than sitting in an open-topped long as it’s not raining! That day was one of those perfect ones though and we savoured every moment as we pootled through the lovely little villages of Bowland and the Ribble valley, Chipping, Dunsop Bridge (one of two main contenders said to be the geographical centre of Great Britain) ,Slaidburn and on to Long Preston and Hellifield, at the western border of the Dales.

Above Litton
The drive through Malham and past Malham Tarn was splendid, although the area adjacent to the village and the tarn is a tourist hot-spot and in our view best avoided except perhaps in the early morning or later in the day when the masses have gone home!
An unclassified single track road to Arncliffe was more to our liking and we selected a little spot for our picnic by a stream, having parked the Morgan off the road a little farther on. An idyllic setting, just us and nature in the wild, savouring the delights of the food, washed down with the occasional slurp from those little bottles of red that you can pick up at Supermarkets and which we always have in stock for occasions such as this.

Then the cry came from Helen just as I had raised the glass to my lips resulting in half the contents being deposited on the chair as I rapidly raised myself. A flock of sheep had suddenly appeared up the road and were admiring their reflected glory in the impeccable bodywork of the Morgan! It was only recently that one of our five friends, we’re no different from most of you, had told me how a ram had seen its reflection in his car’s bodywork and had butted it, thinking the reflection was another ram. You know how quietly and gently a shepherd approaches his flock, well I didn’t! Within a few seconds I had run the 100 yards faster than ever I did at Sports Day, shouting, with arms flailing, and pleased to see them disappearing into the distance in response to the frightening sight of the old git heading towards them. Peace returned.

The long horned cattle that suddenly appeared ten minutes later and surrounded the car, (what is it about Morgans?) demanded a totally different approach! We swiftly struck camp, grabbed our chairs and with Helen behind me gripping my jumper we moved surreptitiously towards the herd. One false move and one of those horns would either penetrate the car or some unmentionable part of my anatomy, so stealth was the order of the day and they thankfully moved off,  as indeed we did to the warm hospitality of the ‘The Falcon’ in Littondale, an amazing hostelry in the same family for four generations and where the excellent Timothy Taylors Bitter is poured from the barrel into a porcelain jug and then into the glass. On the edge of the village green, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and although we didn’t partake of the home made food on offer it was obvious that the many customers there were enjoying it immensely. Definitely a must visit if you are in the area.

Trough of Bowland
Driving alongside the River Skirfare through the tiny village of Litton we then skirted Pen-y-Ghent ( 694 metres or 2277feet) and headed west, with the sun in our faces, retracing our outward route, arriving home for a well earned gin and tonic! I hope that we are not alone in saying that open top driving makes you incredibly sleepy or perhaps nobody else agrees and it’s just galloping senility?.......... Bloody good day though!

Hogs Pudding Delivered!

It's arrived and my breakfasts will now be enriched with this wholesome delicacy. Beautifully packed and made specially for me by my special chum Andy Martin in Chagford, Devon, it's now all in the freezer and I can't wait for tomorrow!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My First Car..."Hildegarde".
The £30 was thrust into the hands of the lady Secretary at the bank where I worked and the splendid 1936 Morris 10/4 Series 2 fixed head coupe, standing in the parking space outside the bank, was mine.
The Morris in original livery.
In 1963 when I bought it, the car was already 27 years old and had less than 30,000 miles on the clock. It was battleship grey with a tan vinyl covered roof and I named it ‘Hildegarde’ (battle maiden in German) or Hilda for short!

Owned by a former manager at the bank from new, it had been stolen from his home and used as the getaway car for a robbery that took place at the local Knott End-on-Sea Golf Club! The thieves had made an ‘L’ shaped cut in the middle of the sunroof so that they could open it and climb in. At some point he sold it to his Secretary, who did minimal mileage in it, finally selling it to me.
During the next couple of years or so, the car was re-wired, had a new vinyl roof and new headlining. I used it as daily transport, entered the car in a vintage/post vintage rally and during this period I also made an overnight journey to Norfolk that included a very ‘hairy’ drive, in the early hours, over the demanding ‘Cat and Fiddle’road from Macclesfield to Buxton in heavy mist.
In new blue livery at Loch Creran (I think!)
Some time later it was hand painted by me in a pale blue ‘brushing cellulose’ and it was in that livery that my wife and I, recently married, decided to drive it to Scotland for a camping holiday. All went well until we reached Balloch on the southern shore of Loch Lomond when I noticed that the dynamo wasn’t charging and realised that new brushes were required. Fortunately there was a garage nearby and after the proprietor was asked if he could help, he disappeared into the dark recesses of the place for a few minutes and re-appeared clutching a brand new set of the Lucas brushes we required. These were fitted by me at the roadside and we continued with renewed confidence to our next overnight stop. We had a splendid time camping, in mixed weather, and ultimately reached Mallaig at the furthermost point.

Looking over the white sands of Morar

FV 7377 gave sterling service but eventually ended up on oil drums at the rear of our garage when we decided that a newer everyday family vehicle was required. So there it stayed, being turned over from time to time with the starting handle, until a new job opportunity resulted in the prospect of a move to Staffordshire, a move that fortuitously coincided with the launch of the new Morris Marina convertible!  This not overwhelmingly popular event gave me an idea!  Dear ‘Hilda’ had to go, but why not try to get the garage that had originally sold her in April 1936 to buy the car and use it as a publicity vehicle parked next to the new Marina in the showroom?
The Managing Director responded readily to my suggestion and a sum of £250 was agreed. The car was driven away and we bought a new three piece suite for our new house in Stone!
While in Staffordshire, we learned that the car had been returned to its original grey colour and received press cuttings from our families whenever it took part in a promotional event, finally hearing that it had been acquired by the Holker Hall Motor Museum as an exhibit. We subsequently visited the Museum on two occasions, finding the car in a very sorry state on our last visit some two years ago, parked under an outside shelter, open to the elements, having been ousted from display by a more ‘attractive’ vehicle. We feared the worst!

Lakeland Motor Museum (windscreen seal to be completed!)
However, some months later, matters changed dramatically when we learned from a friend who had visited the newly sited and completely new Lakeland Motor Museum at Backbarrow near Newby Bridge in Cumbria, that ‘our car’ was on display and looking resplendent in blue livery, with a new hood and restored chrome.
Within days of this news I contacted the Museum, informed them of our interest and received complimentary tickets for a visit. As a donation, I gathered together any relevant invoices, press cuttings and photographs that I thought would add provenance to the car and arrived at this wonderful Lakeland attraction.
What a thrill it was to see the car on display, so many memories of happy motoring days when the roads were less congested than they are today and satisfied in the knowledge that the car is in a good home with many more years of life to look forward to.
The museum must be on the list of ‘must sees’ for any visitor to the Lakes, even those with only a marginal interest in cars and transport. It is in an idyllic setting and there is a first class ultra modern, sensibly priced, cafe/restaurant overlooking the River Leven, with outside seating . On the same site is ‘The Campbell Exhibition’ also very worthy of a visit.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Couldn't resist!

What glorious sunny Autumn weather, totally blue sky, slight chill in the air, just the stuff to get a Morgan man motivated, along with the prospect of a delightful pint at the end of a wonderful drive.
So the Morgan was cranked up and rolled out of it's garage and we set off.
Being Sunday and as I've said, a lovely day, the whole population seemed to be on the road but what the hell! The 4/4 was purring, it's terrific heater was at full whack to keep 'her indoors happy!' and we headed towards the hills and a pub we often frequent called 'The Wheatsheaf' in Garstang, a small, attractive Lancashire market town.
Wonderful pint of Hawkshead Gold and a bag of crisps, those crinkly ones that neither my wife nor I particularly like and then back on the road again for the return trip, back home to one of Helen's delightful Sunday roasts.
The Morgan makes simple events like these so memorable, we're so fortunate to have one.
What is more, during our conversation, my tentative suggestion that the Italian Lakes might form the basis of yet another Morgan adventure did not fall on deaf ears and various suggestions as to the length of each leg on a trip of that distance was discussed....and I don't think it was the beer talking!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Morgan Dealer Websites

Just in case any of you wish to buy a Morgan and who could blame you, I have listed the websites of the factory and all the official dealerships in the UK.

Morgan Motor Company, Gt Malvern, Worcs.   

Ledgerwood Morgan, Lincolnshire                     
Melvyn Rutter Ltd., Hertfordshire                       
Berrybrook Motors Ltd., Devon                          
Stratton Motor Company, Norfolk                       
Mike Duncan, Worcestershire                             
Richard Thorne Classic Cars, Berkshire             
Brands Hatch Morgan Ltd., Kent                         
Perranwell Garage, Cornwall                             
Mole Valley, Surrey                                            
Russell Paterson Morgan, Scotland                     
Newtown Motors, Wales                                     
Lifes Motors Ltd., Lancashire                              
SGT, Berkshire                                                    
Williams Morgan, Bristol                                    
Allon White Sports Cars, Bedfordshire               

Two other useful sources of information and cars for sale are:-
Classic Cars Magazine (monthly)                         
Classic and Sports Car Magazine (monthly)         

I hope that you find the one you're looking for, but be warned, once you have driven it,  nothing will wipe the smile from your face and out will come the chequebook!!


Use and enjoy your Morgan.

What a delight it was when I spotted a recent sales advertisement for a 2004 Roadster with 102,000 on the clock, for at least it proved that the car has been used and enjoyed, albeit rather a lot! As the seller said "used but not abused".
Our 2008 Morgan is not our everyday car and we are covering under 5000 miles a year with the clock showing around 16,500 miles, very little when compared with the above Roadster, but at least we are using it for picnics, runs out and on holidays. I know that this applies to many owners but nevertheless I always find it quite staggering when I see so many Morgans for sale with ridiculously low mileages. Their engines must require a complete overhaul when they come up for sale. What on earth do these owners buy them for? Morgans are for driving!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Hogs Pudding...the finest in Devon!

For many years my father (born in Devon) was able to get supplies of this sublime product from his uncle, who used to visit relatives in Brixham and called at a butchers in Paignton to buy it before returning home to Lancashire. Then the butcher retired and we tried other butchers in Devon but none could match the flavour or consistency of the pudding that all our relatives in Brixham had enjoyed in their youth and latterly from that Paignton butcher.

Unfortunately my dear dad died just before I finally hit the jackpot. I just happened to be reading a website called Legendary Dartmoor which suggested that Martins the butchers in Okehampton sold the best in Devon. So, when we visited North Devon a couple of years ago, we drove to Okehampton to buy some. It was well worth the drive and confirmed to me that it is indeed very likely to be the best in is gorgeous, with all the flavours that I can recall from eating breakfast, sitting as a little boy with my sister on a summer's morning in the early 50's on the back step of my Great Grandmother's bungalow overlooking Brixham church.

On our return home I immediately got in touch with Andy Martin who I think looks after all their mail orders and arranged to have supplies delivered. He is based at their Chagford shop, telephone 01647 432461 .

You are probably asking, "what the hell is hogs pudding?", in fact I have been staggered by the number of people, including residents of Devon, who don't know what it is, perhaps the 'locals' I've met are all 'incomers'. Essentially it is like a large fat sausage, perhaps around 6-7 inches long, it is sliced into pieces about 3/4" thick and then fried in a frying pan. The butchers who stock it use their own recipes, so each is different, but the best, "the proper job"and I quote from the Legendary Dartmoor website,"are made with meat and groats mixed together. The meat can come from two sources, the , 'pluck' or heart, lungs, liver etc., or pork meat and the mixture stuffed into an ox gut casing". If anything there is incorrect I'm sure my 'hogs pud chum' Andy will put me right....but there is one thing for sure, he will not be giving away any closely guarded secrets!

So there we are, get out and give it a try but do follow my advice and that of the Legendary Dartmoor website which I heartily recommend (in index look for 'hogs pudding'), there are many being sold that are a disgrace and more like 'bog standard' sausage than the real thing, so be warned.

My fresh supply arrives next week.......yippee!!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Morgan drive foiled by the Weather

Yesterday, Helen and myself looked at the weather forecast and it looked quite promising so the prospect of a trip to the Lake District in the Morgan seemed assured. How wrong we were, we awoke to rain which the forecasters said would clear by 9am but this wasn't the case so we decided to go instead in our 2002 Volvo V70, our everyday transport. Yes we could have gone in the Morgan, disregarding its propensity to leak a little, but it would probably entail a major cleaning operation on our return if it got really dirty so we decided on the easy option. I have no problem in setting off in the Mog in fine weather and then for it to rain but I don't like setting off in the rain unless it's the start of one of our trips away. Neurotic I suppose with a fair measure of pride of ownership thrown in!!!!
The V70 has almost done 100,000 miles, in fact I was almost expecting the mileometer to trip while we were out today. Normally when my cars have reached 40-50,000 miles I have changed them, but on every occasion I have questioned my sanity and thought to myself, what was the matter with the car you've just sold and the answer has always been nothing, so this time we'll continue driving our lovely comfortable, economical Volvo until it drops to bits. Encouraged as I am by hearing from a dealer in Warwick who said that the highest mileage car they had seen was an S40 with 460,000 miles on the clock!! Granted the engine was knackered but....!
As we approached Lancaster the skies cleared and we have had wall to wall sunshine since then, ah well.
The real reason for the visit, apart from the pleasure of visiting for visiting that lovely area for the thousandth time, was for Helen to visit the 'Lakeland Shop' in Windermere  to buy some Christmas presents. While in the shop I had cause to visit the Gents, which is always an experience there because there is a VDU at head height in front of every user, proclaiming all the benefits of shopping at Lakeland but doing nothing to help concentrate your aim! Anyway there was a nice chap of similar age to myself who suggested, quite rightly I think, that the inclusion of a waterfall into the video would help encourage success in what we were both trying to achieve!
Next stop was up a little country lane to eat our butties and to look upon the glory of the fells and then on to The Hawkshead Brewery at Staveley,near Kendal  to quaff some of their wonderful beer in their Beer Hall, a true shrine to the real ale drinker. They also have a great food menu, interesting weekly evening entertainment which includes, what sounds to be, a terrific 'Jam Session' every Sunday. So take your ukulele, violin or guitar and get down there. We commented that if we could find a good pub with rooms nearby it would be good fun.
It was also interesting to note on the return drive that the numbers of cars lined up at a car cleaning operation on the A6 had not declined, regardless of the so called recession. What's wrong with a bucket of water and a sponge?!!