Monday, 27 February 2012

Morgan Values

While I was at the dealers having the Morgan serviced I decided to have a word with Dave Randall in order to get some idea as to what the car was worth if I decided to sell it. It is a failing of mine, at least I'm told it is, that whatever large item I purchase, whether it be a car, boat or otherwise, I always like to keep a close track of current values, sort of suggesting that the pleasure I am deriving from it is really of no consequence and not part of the equation!

I was, on one occasion, given a real 'dressing down' by a fellow member of the Club for adopting this sort of attitude...." why would you ever want to do this, I never even consider anyone else owning my car, for goodness sake just get out there, use it and enjoy every minute, what the hell!"  Well it was roughly along those lines anyway and at the time I felt thoroughly ashamed, although as you will have noted, not sufficiently to change my attitude that mainly stems I think from the fact that my wife and I haven't got limitless amounts of dosh to throw at things!

There were two valuations I required, firstly an agreed valuation to present to my insurers and the second, the one I was most interested in, the market value.

What a totally pleasant surprise it was when the agreed valuation was no different from the one I was given when I first purchased the car 4 years ago, but more importantly, the market value was not greatly different from the original purchase price either. Over the four years of ownership, depreciation has been at the rate of only £700 to £900 annually! Just think of the first years depreciation on an equivalently priced executive saloon! 

Quite frankly, in raw terms, if I had placed the original sum that I paid for the car into a Building Society at the interest rates and inflation at the levels we've endured during the period, it's not been a bad 'investment' at all! That's how I see it, although I'm sure that probably the financially analytical mind of an accountant might possibly challenge my simple thought processes.

More importantly, and putting things into even greater perspective, just think of all the fun and fabulous journeys we have made in it, both in the UK and Europe, and our beautiful, quintessentially English, little sports car has been one of the best buys my wife and I have made. These pleasures cannot be quantified and I am indeed a happy man.

The Morgan stays in its garage and will continue to be enjoyed to the full.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Annual visit to the Shrine!

As expected the day dawned wet, but thankfully the rain wasn 't torrential, just the gentle sort of stuff that hopefully meant that even in the Morgan with the hood up, there was little likelihood of water ingress!

Life's, Southport, oldest Morgan dealers in the world
It was 7.30 when we joined all the commuter traffic in order to reach Life's in Southport at 9 for the car's MOT and annual service. This yearly event also means that my dearly beloved can do a bit of shopping in Lord Street, which is well known in Lancashire as a very pleasant place to part with your money.

The showroom was full of Morgans which filled me with enthusiasm at the prospect of wandering around, making a nuisance of myself, looking at all the various models including that hairy new 3 wheeler. But all this would have to wait and I was dragged away in the direction of the major stores where I took up my usual position, that of following one step behind and then sitting on the first available chair trying to look interested!

I can remember the day when both my wife and myself were somewhat slimmer and it was so much easier then to get an exact match when it came to choosing clothes off the rail! Nowadays, the search is far more complex and I always try to follow my dear father's advice to keep quiet, always a difficult thing for me to do, often causing me to fall into the trap of offering diplomatic advice from time to time. Not always appreciated, but success was finally achieved and a lovely skirt was purchased that was almost as expensive as the Morgan service! I'm lying of course.

Matt and Graham
Strong coffee was called for after this purchase, enjoyed in one of the many tea and coffee shops on the high street and an occasion when we were able to listen in to a highly amusing conversation between some more old crocks who were from our area and sitting at the next table. It's the same here as it is abroad, you can't beat just sitting in a cafe listening and watching the world go by.

After walking the full length of the high street it was time to return to see how Matt was getting on with the service.

The problem with the vertical movement on the nearside front had been picked up by the MOT engineer. It was only minor movement that has been rectified temporarily by Matt who has got as much grease as possible into the sliding axle. However, it looks like I shall be back for king-pins in the not too distant future.

The car has now done almost 17000 miles and according to Graham, a very log standing member of the team, the mileage at which they need to be replaced varies tremendously according to vehicle type. Apparently the Plus 8's needed replacing earlier due to the extra weight they bore and it can also depend on the types of road regularly driven on, such as those with a strong camber towards the nearside or perhaps, and this is me talking, those where you are always dropping into mighty pot holes ie. most of UK roads!

Homeward bound, top down.
Anyway it looks as though I shall have to raid my piggy bank soon, but will obviously watch the situation closely each time I grease the axles.

They are a super team at Life's and both my wife and I thoroughly enjoy each visit, on this occasion receiving an invitation from Dave Randall, the owner, to their Open Day on Sunday 15th April, which we will try to attend. You never know I might get the chance to drive that 3 wheeler beast!

We had a super drive home in the sunshine with the hood down, and you know there was real warmth in the sun, a sign of the Spring to come and many Morgan picnics.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Le Mans Green!
I was sitting reading my Saturday Telegraph this morning, with the rain and wind beating against the kitchen window with no expectations at all of getting the Mog out of the garage.

Towards Great Eccleston with the River Wyre in the distance

How wrong can a man be! The sky cleared and the wind, not far short of gale force, was doing its job in drying the roads. Just over an hour later I was cocooned in the warm interior of the Morgan, more like the cockpit of a Spitfire each time I get into it. Yes, I was being a wimp, but the wind was very strong and the temperature was falling, so I decided to nurse my poor wracked body, not wishing to expose and aggravate any lurking weaknesses in the joints of the old frame, and kept the hood up.

By the River Wyre

It was not a long drive, but it got me into the lovely agricultural countryside of the Fylde Coast area of Lancashire. No dark satanic mills here, and if my blog has achieved anything at all, it will have been to dispel any myths about this fair county. It has wonderful countryside and even though I was at maximum, just 9 miles from the world famous, gaudy, brash and bold resort of Blackpool, I think my photos show what lovely rural countryside we enjoy.

I was pleased to get out and be able to give the Morgan a run before its service next week which looks, if the forecast is to be believed, as if it is going to involve a wet journey to Southport. Still, the car only leaks a little, in fact if you creep along at 30 miles per hour it doesn't leak at all!!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Morgans always raise a smile!

Today I received this nice little story from a fellow Morgan owner and friend who lives in Welshpool.

He is the Vice Chairman and Minutes Secretary of the Heulwen Trust,  a charity organisation which aims to bring enjoyment and pleasure to disabled children and adults, by offering exciting and scenic boat trips through some of the most beautiful Welsh countryside. They have two canal boats that are in constant demand by special schools, hospitals etc., and to date over 45000 disabled people have enjoyed free daily trips.

He wrote to let me know that as it was a mild, bright day yesterday, he decided to go for a spin. Usually he and his wife deliver the monthly minutes on foot to local recipients but because the weather was pleasant, and like me he gets this irresistable urge to get out in his 4/4 Sport, he decided to use the Mog to deliver to members just out of town.

He arrived at the farm where the Chairman lives and found his daughter sitting on the sofa in her dressing gown. My friend asked her what she was doing and she replied that she had some course work to do.

He said, "that's a shame, you won't have time to come with me in the Morgan  to Guilsfield then?", at which point the daughter exitedly replied, "just give me 5 minutes!"

She really enjoyed the ride, and her comment at the end was, "wasn't it lovely how people kept smiling at us?"

So very true, the fun begins as soon as the wheels get rolling.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hiya, y'alright there?!!

What a delight, a school in Sheffield has told pupils that they must stop using slang at school because it might hinder their job prospects.

It wants children to avoid slang words and phrases such as 'hiya' and 'cheers' in favour of the more correct 'hello', 'good morning' or 'thank you'.

If only all schools would insist on similar disciplines, perhaps more youngsters would achieve greater success at job interviews and I wouldn't have to endure, 'Hiya, y'alright there?' uttered by Sales Assistants in almost every shop I visit. What is wrong with a cheery, 'Hello/Good morning, if I can help you please ask?'

The good old BBC and other broadcasters could also take a lead by not allowing their presenters to use the term 'hiya' on childrens' channels such as 'CBeebies'.
Indeed, with a bit of encouragement, perhaps fewer people would then use the term 'Hiya', with it's variously used intonations, in their everyday lives and I would be a happier man.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tall in the Saddle!

I've just returned from a 3 mile bike ride, hoping to both lose some weight and keep fit, an absolute essential for all Morgan drivers.

You see I'm not sure who is getting bigger, Helen or me, I just know that each time we get into our little steed there seems to be less room. Possibly Valentine's Day is not the most appropriate occasion to raise the issue with her, so I will keep my thoughts to myself. At least I've learned something, in a marriage that's lasted almost half a century!

We are both trying hard to stay at peak fitness, a term that sounds cool and terrific when describing young virile things, but means something quite different when considering our ageing, wracked bodies. The 10 minutes a day we spend on our rowing machine, whilst watching breakfast television and having a nice cup of tea, while laudable, is totally negated later in the day as we endeavour to keep 'Gordons' and sundry local breweries and vineyards solvent. Public spirited it might be, but it is doing nothing for my body, ( prudency is called for here!), the silhouette of which is positively revolting as I view myself in the mirror after emerging from the shower each morning.

Not only have I rowed and cycled today, but my miserable efforts have also included chopping five bags of kindling, an increase of one over yesterday, and washing the Volvo, which incidentally seems to be using more oil than it should. Helen has spent the day baking and knitting which to my mind do not qualify in the fitness stakes!

Now, you may find it difficult to imagine, but I cut a 'remarkable' figure on my bike. No, you're wrong, Lycra does not feature in my outfit, more 1930's country yokel that's me, but with a fluorescent yellow vest and an enormous helmet in the most revolting shade of green, to fit the cranium, that my late mother wrongly assessed as containing more brains than normal. To summarise, I look a right twit!

This talk of losing weight brings me to a rather important issue that is not mentioned in any of the Morgan factory's sales literature. Is there an optimum recommended size for drivers of Morgans or do we continue willy-nilly, in sublime ignorance, until the moment arrives when we get totally jammed in the cockpit and have to call the fire service to cut us out?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Something worth sharing!

This was given to me by my late father supposedly as a copy of an ancient 17th century document found in 'Old St.Paul's Church' - dated 1692. 
It is in fact prose, written by the american Max Ehrmann in 1927, entitled "Desiderata".
It certainly touched my dad and likewise I find it moving and strangely appropriate for the hectic times in which we live.  I unearthed it again today while I was clearing out some drawers. I think it is worth sharing and I have copied it as originally written.

" Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself to others you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the councel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture the strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham and drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

Friday, 10 February 2012

Black ice and Morgan Insurance!

My wife and I returned home yesterday, after spending some time with old friends who live in Finsthwaite, a quiet and attractive village, nestling amongst gentle wooded hills, a mile north of Lakeside at the southern end of Windermere in the English Lake District.

St.Peter's Church in Spring 2007
In the village stands St.Peter's Church dating from 1873, where, in the churchyard stands a gravestone commemorating the 'Cumbrian Princess', Clementine Johannes Sobieski Douglas, who was reputed to be the illegitimate daughter of  Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788) by his mistress, Clementina Walkinshaw. She was apparently sent to Finsthwaite as a child to live a secluded life.

Nearby is the Stott Park Bobbin Mill which was begun in 1835 to produce wooden bobbins, vital to the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries. Around 250 men and boys used to work there and it is a major Lakeland attraction. The mill was driven by water from High Dam Tarn on the heights above the village. But I digress.
High Dam Tarn

Following a lovely evening spent at the Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge where we enjoyed excellent food and beer, , we awoke yesterday morning to a view that suggested that we might have to spend another night in this lovely spot. It had rained during the night and this had frozen on impact with the already frozen ground, producing impossible and dangerous conditions. In fact I couldn't even reach the Volvo that was parked just opposite the house.

Information was reaching us from both mobiles and the computer of crashes on the M6 and on the steep hill at Lindale, along which we would have to travel home. The decision was made to look at the situation again after lunch when hopefully things might have improved. This we did and the decision was made to give it a try.

We said our farewells and after the first section of narrow road that leads from the village to the main road, conditions were tolerable if a sensible speed was maintained. However, it is pitiful that, regardless of freezing conditions and various warning signs, so many drivers do not appear to be able to adjust their speed to prevailing conditions and we were frequently overtaken by speeding drivers who seemed oblivious to everything, probably thinking as many do, that the road was just wet and not possibly sheet ice!!!

This morning I received the Insurance reminder for the Morgan from my insurers Gott and Wynne,, with a quote of £285, a couple of quid less than last year, so I am happy with that. An additional amount of £21 has been paid to cover the cost of breakdown cover in the UK and abroad....a very small price to pay methinks!

Buying the car new on March 1st 2008, means that every year at this time we are faced with a large bill for Road Tax, Insurance, MOT plus the annual service, expenses that could all be avoided if it wasn't for that little green beast in the garage!

So I'm off to the Garden Centre tomorrow to get compost and vegetable seeds for my plot, thinking that maybe I can offset the above mentioned drain on our resources by 'growing our own'!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Quick blast at 2 degrees!

The time had come to give the 4/4 another winter's drive.

It was a gloriously sunny morning although extremely cold and there had been a hard frost overnight, but I knew that cosily cocooned in the cockpit with the heater going full blast I would be beautifully warm.

With my ice-axe I chipped my way into the garage ( I'm lying!), took off the dust cover, switched off the battery charger, which is one of those that you can leave permanently connected, and fired up the car. At this point I would normally have removed the hood, but at these low temperatures highly unadvisable, unless you are prepared for cracked vinyl or rear window. 

Cleveleys promenade with the Lakeland hills in the distance.
So having done my usual shunting manoeuvre with the Volvo V70, that incidentally achieved 52.2mpg at between 60 and 65 mph over 179 miles the other day (accurately calculated), I reversed the Morgan out and set off on my little drive, initially with the hood up and the heater on. 

The fabulous weather drew me to the coast and the Fylde Coast resort of Cleveleys, where I parked on the recently developed promenade, to take some photos of the car and scenery. Falling out of the car on to the tarmac, (exiting gracefully is always difficult with the hood up), I was met by my beautiful niece Sarah and her partner George, plus the new addition to their family, a little black thing with four legs that they just happened to be exercising on the prom.

Yours truly!
Having confirmed that the warm plastic bags that  most dog owners now carry, and which contain  particularly unpleasant deposits, were safely enclosed in George's pocket, I had the audacity to ask if they would mind taking my picture with the car.

These are priceless occasions because as the chief photographer in our house there are very few images of yours truly and I know that after I have shed this mortal coil everyone will be searching high and low for a photo of  boring old pater! Plenty of pictures of wife and grandchildren, but dad no, so I leapt at the opportunity.

Well warmed after the journey, the hood was taken down and the photo taken for posterity. We said our farewells and I headed home, remarkably warm in the open air, after yet another special winter's drive.