Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'A Weekend with a Plus Four'

This excellent article is in the April issue of Classic Cars Magazine and captures much of what it is like to own a Morgan.

The writer, Sam Dawson, borrowed the 2004 Plus Four for a weekend, from Allon White Sports Cars , driving it to London's Ace Cafe, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and then to the 'Green Man' pub at Silverstone.

Needless to say on his drive into London in the rain, he commented on the propensity of the Morgan to leak, I can't believe that can you? However, the following day he took to sunny Cambridgeshire A-roads revelling in the cars capabilities and everything that we enjoy about our Mogs.

He was in an aeronautical state of mind on leaving Duxford and commented that after 'take-off' and heading to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, "it is a stable base for launching into overtaking manoeuvres on rep's BMWs - or Heinkels and Messerschmitts as they become when driving a Morgan."

His last two paragraphs encapsulate all my feelings about the car  beautifully.

" Morgans offer an intoxicating shot of undiluted interactivity, in a world where cars try to block out reality with sybaritic comfort options. It's a blistering intense experience where every facet of motoring is exaggerated- from basic operations of steering wheel and pedals to the full drama of the landscape you're travelling through."

" The Plus Four is a piece of pure Britishness: no other nation's motor industry can find a place for something that channels the spirit of its vintage cars so purely or cultivates such emotion on ordinary roads. And if you can drive a Morgan without requesting permission to land in a clipped accent over an imaginary radio when you are nearing home, then you have no soul."

Get out and buy the magazine and read the article in full!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Shattering experience!

Not one but two today! 

Firstly, a gentleman is visiting our humble abode to remove the glass from the vestibule door, which has had a frosted design on it that has niggled us ever since we restored the house 16 years ago. The design never did match the original Victorian example that is situated above the door, and at one of our recent board meetings, financial summits really, it was decided that we could eke out enough funds from our meagre resources to replace it with a design more befitting the property.

Not only that, it's Glass Collection Day today and sometime later, regardless of where I am on our 'estate', there will be an almighty, embarrassing crash as all our empties are tipped into the wagon, causing shoppers in the village to stop in their tracks and mutter amongst themselves about the need for more temperance in  society!

To some degree my guilt about this was assuaged and a measure of jollity pervaded my being, in noting, on a little walk back from the local garage, after dropping the Volvo off for repair, that there are plenty more villagers with a similar interest in the delights of the hop, barley and grape. In fact the whole village seems to support a community of secret boozers!

Indeed a closer inspection found, amongst the open plastic boxes on which the lids wouldn't fit, due to the volume of glass within, that their tastes are very similar to ours!!!

Roll on '6 o'clock somewhere' when I can with a more settled conscience, hit the bottle once again!

I've always been community orientated!

What a Cracker!

All we need to get us out in the Morgan is a good weather forecast, and boy, that is what we got on Wednesday, promising sun all the next day, with temperatures of 17 degrees and so, in the evening, having decided that we would travel to the Lake District, I finished my Gin and Tonic/s and at 9.10 in the evening had a nice cup of tea, that I had been told would ensure a good night's sleep, and went to bed at 10 o'clock.
Arnside, and the River Kent estuary.

The trouble is that when I know we are going to have a good long drive in the Morgan I am like a little child, unable to get to sleep, and then when I do it is of the restless variety resulting in me waking up at 'silly o'clock'!

My dearly beloved had some shopping to do at Morrisons prior to our departure so we were there at 8am and back home an hour later. While Helen made our picnic I went to the garage and got the Morgan ready for action. We were on our way by 9.30am.
The viaduct at Arnside carrying the railway line to West Cumbria 

We stayed off the M6 and travelled the scenic, slow route via the A588, from Poulton-le-Fylde, via Cockerham and thence to Lancaster where we joined the A6. Travelling north, coffee beckoned and we made a detour to Arnside on the southern bank of the River Kent, at it's estuary, where it meets Morecambe Bay. The morning was glorious, sunny and calm with not too many visitors cluttering up the streets, once again causing us to rejoice in the fact that one of the benefits of retirement is that you can enjoy your leisure moments when there are fewer people about, apart from other old wrinklies like us!
Lakeland Plastics Headquarters, Windermere

Having taken a few photographs, it was on to Windermere, via Milnthorpe and Kendal, my lovely wife having decided that she wanted to purchase an item that was imperative to our very existence, a felt remover for our knitwear!!! Lakeland Plastics headquarters "" is full of things that no one should have to live without and so what at first was going to be a very short visit turned into a lengthier operation.

When we returned to the car, that had been cared for by a willing security guard in our absence, a couple approached us wanting to talk about the little beast and while this conversation was taking place, we were  accosted further by a young Japanese couple armed with a camera, adding yet another photo of the car to the library that already exists in the Far East!
Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Windermere in Background

On then, amidst adoring glances from all the onlookers, to Blackwell the Arts and Crafts House, "" designed by M.H.Baillie Scott, one of Britain's finest houses from the turn of the last century. It is an internationally acclaimed icon of Arts and Crafts architecture, a result of the Movement  championed by John Ruskin and William Morris with rooms containing furniture and objects by many leading designers and studios of that period. Well worth a visit.

By this time the old tummy was suggesting that it might be an appropriate time to stop for sustenance which we did at Fell Foot Park by the shores of Windermere. It is owned by the National Trust and offers, apart from the lovely views, a restaurant and childrens play area etc. We however found a lovely quiet spot for our picnic, overlooking a bend in the River Leven, which flows out of the lake and enters Morecambe Bay at Greenodd.
En route to picnic! Windermere looking north.
Consuming our roast chicken, butties and a glass of decent Burgundy, we gloried in the wonderful weather that we were enjoying and feeling refreshed we set off on our homeward trail that would include a stop at P.V.Dobsons, Volvo, Jaguar and Mazda dealers "".

The reason for this stop was so that both of us could have a look at the complete range of Volvo cars, so that when we finally decide that a change is necessary we will know what model we are looking for to replace our elderly Volvo V70. A number of the new vehicles were totally discounted by my wife on the basis that they were too cramped, the headrest and seat design weren't acceptable along with many other astute observations, that would, if they had known, have had the Directors of Volvo jumping like lemmings off the edge of a cliff!!!
Sitting on wheel arch having butty and glass of wine!

Anyway we finally decided and totally agreed that a particular variant of the V60, the SE Lux was the one we will aim for when it's a couple of years older and we can afford it!

While we were there, it was a pleasure to meet both Andrew Hirst, MSCC Chairman and Sara the Secretary of Fellmog. It was great to meet both of them, and as far as Andrew is concerned, the closest we had come to him previously was to see his picture at the beginning of each issue of 'Miscellany', the MSCC magazine.
The view from our picnic spot.

From there it was straight home after a trip of around 100+ miles, for a welcome cup of tea while washing down my steed and with lovely memories of a very special March day.

Looking at the weather forecast today, not only will I be pootling around in the Mog, but we'll be getting the barbecue out, as the Met Office are promising temperatures of up to 20 degrees!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Wall!

For days I have been psyching myself up to attack what is an annual task, the restoration of our white painted garden walls. The bulk of the area to be dealt with is Victorian, having been built at the same time as the house.
Back yard in Summer
I do tend to get a bit neurotic about it, because I'm conscious that it must be done before the climbing plants are in full bloom and of course in this country you can never be sure when the weather is going to be good enough to enable the job to be tackled. Another factor that increases the stress levels (it doesn't take much, my wife says!) is the fact that the sort of weather appropriate for the repair of the wall is just the sort of stuff that would tempt me to get the Morgan on the road!
Back gate and wall
Fortunately this winter has not been too severe and we have had no really severe frosts, unlike last year when the damp inside the old wall froze, expanded and great chunks of brick dropped off, necessitating repairing the damage with cement.

The window in the weather I was waiting for occurred last Friday and this triggered me into action with a scraper, getting rid of all the small areas of paint that had lifted since last year, then mixing and applying a sealer, to seal the surface prior to painting.

Today dawned with clear blue skies and a big sun, conditions that would normally have meant grabbing a couple of small bottles of  red, the preparation of a gastronomic extravaganza and escaping in the Morgan, up into the fells for a picnic. Not this time, the wall beckoned, bugger, bugger!

Donning my overalls and then beavering away with my paint brush in my haste to finish before the re-run of the Australian GP at 2pm, I tripped over the ladder, blinded by the reflection of the sun on the new paint and deposited much of it on to the newly awakening plants! Never mind, it will be quite a novelty to have roses and valerian with white leaves!
Due to cats these are the only birds we've got!!

Finished at 1.30pm., cleared up, got out of my overalls, with the kind assistance of my wife who made the usual caustic, hurtful comments when I suggested  that they must have shrunk, and then shot upstairs for a shower, positioning myself in front of the telly at precisely 1.59pm ready for the start. Good old Jensen!

From now on in, unless my dearly beloved gives me another task, it will be sunshine all the way in that little Morgan of ours.

PS  All photos taken in Summer of course.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

'The Petrol Age', Sky Atlantic, Thursdays 8pm

What a joy it was to watch a serious motoring programme, not one that in my opinion is presented by a bunch of puerile and sometimes patronising celebrities, mostly promoting cars that very few of us will ever afford while demonstrating the undisciplined attitudes to safety that blight motoring on our roads today. You will appreciate that I am not a follower of 'Top Gear', unlike it seems, the bulk of western civilisation.

This programme, presented by Paul McGann, who incidentally has owned a Rover P5 3 litre Coupe for many years, is in four episodes and tells the absorbing story of British motoring heritage. The first programme was a celebration of speed and the only thing that I was disappointed about was the fact that there was no mention of our wonderful marque, whose three wheelers had such huge racing success in the twenties.

If you missed the first episode or do not have Sky, then watch it on your computer. Sadly there are only four episodes!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Back in Business!

Our computer is now up and running after an assault by 'Trojans', or so I was informed in the message that was flashed up on our computer  Who are these individuals who extort money from individuals by infesting their computer systems with viruses? 

They got no money from me but it appears that a number of people have been hit locally and one of them parted with £70 to have the faults rectified by  the person or persons who had perpetrated the crime in the first instance. He did inform the police, but whether or not these villains are ever punished for their crimes I don't know.

Anyway, it's great to be back.

Last Sunday the weather was good, albeit cloudy, so we took the opportunity to drive in the Morgan to one of my wife's sisters who lives about 15 miles away. The day before, I had nipped out for a quick blast without the side screens, which, in addition to revealing the car's beautiful lines, does lead to an extremely fresh and invigorating experience not always appreciated by the ladies!

However, it was in this uncluttered form that I suggested to the 'boss' that we should travel, with the added suggestion that she might like to put on as many clothes as possible, just to be on the safe side! 

We had a great drive and are both looking forward to the first picnic of the year with the Morgan when the weather warms up just a little more.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Rain in Brittany!

This was a shot taken during a rather heavy rainstorm in south east Brittany in September 2008 as we were travelling through an area of salt-pans south of La Roche Bernard.

It demonstrates the efficiency of the Morgan triple wiper system when the necessary adjustments to the angle at which the blade touches the windscreen are made!!.......and my youngest sister pointed out to me after reading this latest post, that she thought she was sad, mentioning the fact that she was cleaning her cupboards at home with the aid of a toothbrush and here was her brother majoring on windscreen wipers!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Frogs on the rampage!

Remember my little pond next to my vegetable garden, well I opened the back garage door into the garden this morning and noticed that the pond was a maelstrom, a living, writhing mass of activity, the frogs are mating again. What the fish think about it I don't know....not much I suspect! Anyway it is a blatant reminder that Spring is just around the corner. Yippee!

I went into the Morgan garage and fixed the new tax disc in place, always a bit of a problem because, although I bought one of those posh holders with 'Morgan' emblazoned all over it, it is not one of the screw off variety and I have to remove all the little screws with an 'Allen' key before I can insert the new disc.

Anyway that job completed and because the weather was lovely, I planted the bulk of my 'First Early' potatoes, the next stage in our self sufficiency programme that is meant to release more funds for Morgan items for instance, but consistently fails to achieve this!

Next came the Morgan, on to which I lavished more Autoglym polish and elbow grease. With the car once more looking absolutely immaculate, its owner had his hair cut by her indoors, had a shower, donned his white roll-neck submariner sweater and leather jacket and launched himself on to an unsuspecting public, firmly ensconced in the Morgan of course, with everything down.

It was a spirited short drive that demonstrated that it was not only the frogs that were on  the rampage, although I must emphasise that my rampaging is totally restricted to the driving experience!

Spotted a Jowett Jupiter whose occupants gave me a cheery wave that was returned of course,

As I sit here writing this I can tell it is Friday and sunny, by the number of cars pulling up at the traffic lights with windows down and ghastly thumping music bellowing forth! Is it my age, perhaps it is?

A Devonshire gem in Derbyshire!

I thought that I was going to have to modify the title of this post after our first breakfast at 'The Devonshire Arms', Pilsley, following a minor altercation with the waiter, a young chap who started arguing with me when I complained about the lateness of the toast, blaming it on the toaster rather than admitting he'd forgotten us.

The Devonshire Arms, Pilsley, Derbyshire
These things can critically affect one's enjoyment, when, in the time honoured fashion, you wish to squidge your fried egg onto a piece of hot toast and the damn stuff doesn't arrive on time! It can ruin a hostellery's reputation!

I was instructed by my dearly beloved and the two friends who were accompanying us to let the matter rest until after breakfast the following day, just prior to our departure, thus avoiding the likelihood of me suffering a heart attack!

Pilsley, 'Devonshire Arms' at end of road
Sure enough, the following morning, breakfast was served in impeccable fashion with toast overflowing from the table and our every wish was met by a charming smile and total courtesy. In fact we left the table best of friends, almost blood brothers!

Hardwick Hall
That was the only slight blip on our second visit to 'The Devonshire Arms', Pilsley, one of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's Hotels/Pubs, offering first class accommodation and food. .

It is situated on the Chatsworth estate and is in fact just a couple of minutes from the Chatsworth Farm Shop where you can savour many 'goodies', at a price! The hotel is a perfect base for exploring the Peak District in your Morgan, although we were in the Volvo on this occasion.

Chatsworth House
We enjoyed a most memorable visit to 'Hardwick Hall', a National Trust property just south of Chesterfield, . It is a stunning Elizabethan house created in the late 1500's by Bess of Hardwick, the richest woman in England at the time, after Elizabeth the First.

Early morning, Derwent valley
Following some four hours there, we moved on to Stainsby Water Mill another NT property, and then on to have a look at Chatsworth House , gleaming in the evening sunshine, across the parkland opposite, because both the house and gardens were closed, which is the reason why we were able to secure a very reasonable rate for our accommodation at 'The Devonshire'. 

As I have said, it would make a perfect base for a Morgan adventure and next time we visit this super little hotel I think that we will definitely go in the mog, seasonal weather conditions permitting!