Monday, 30 April 2012

Tyres for the 4/4

Finally had a reply from the Morgan factory, following my email to them requesting information about the availability of tyres for the 4/4.

Apparently, Morgan is now the only car manufacturer in the UK using the 4/4's particular size of tyre, 165/80R15  87T. These are available from dealers and there are apparently good stocks, that should last a considerable length of time judging by the tiny mileages accumulated by some cars, but then again, perhaps not, because the tyres on these garaged vehicles will probably deteriorate and become unsafe in five years or so.

Whether or not the stocks are of 'Continental' tyres they didn't say, but I have also found an alternative on the website of "Blackcircles", these are made by Toyo Tyres, who were apparently declared the best tyres for 8 years in a row by the independent American Suppliers, as published in "Tyre Review Magazine" USA.

It's out!

You know, I think my dentist takes a sadistic delight in extracting molars!

I could see the look of enjoyment in his face when I made the decision to have the tooth taken out, rather than a root filling that he said would probably be even more painful than the misery I have endured for three days.

As he plunged the hypodermic needle into my gums, his face, on which he seems to have grown some 'designer stubble', contorted in a look bordering on madness, that was nothing compared to the extreme pleasure he exuded as I writhed in the chair as he tried to lever out the offending grinder.

It was even more disconcerting, because there was complete silence as he probed and delved, using my lower jaw as a fulcrum on which to get maximum leverage, the stillness unusual because like all dentists I've known, you are expected to carry on a well structured, considered conversation with them while your mouth is wide open and stuffed with implements of all sorts.

He finally dug out the last bit of tooth and there it lay in bits on a tissue next to me and while on the one hand delighting in it's removal, I also felt a pang of sadness, remembering the 63 years or so (allowing for milk teeth!) that we'd dined together!

As I sit here writing this drivel, the sun is shining, there is a fresh wind blowing and it is 18 degrees. Could I, dare I, venture out in that little car or would that be a little silly after my terrible ordeal. You know I think I might have to yield to common sense.....unusual for me!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Rain and tooth stops play!

The first thing I did on our return from La Belle France was to visit the dentist, not about my recently acquired 'bridge' which is magnificent, but regarding a niggling molar at the back of my mouth.

This had been causing me gipp both prior to and during our trip, but being a man, a man who desperately tries to follow those manly virtues expressed in Rudyard Kipling's immortal poem 'If', that ends, 'you'll be a man my son!' I bore the pain bravely and kept the matter to myself, not wishing to burden my dear wife or the French with my sufferings!!!!

As I lay horizontal in the chair, the dentist reviewed my remaining gnashers, amazed I think that I could manage to chew anything with so few, let alone look so well fed, and pronounced that in order to find the offending tooth he was going to bash each one with, what subsequently felt like, a metal bar. As he reached the one next to the back on the left-hand side of my mouth, it was clear from the excruciating pain and my muffled cry that he had achieved success.

I left, feeling considerably worse, with a prescription for penicillin and an appointment for the 10th May to have a root filling and a new crown. With supreme confidence he announced that if the thing collapsed during the process it would have to come out! Quite frankly at the present time I wish he would take the damn thing out, but I'm worried that if I lose many more I can see me having to resort to baby food!

After the visit to the dentist and teetering on the brink of total collapse for a couple of days until the antibiotic took hold, a drive in the Morgan was the last thing on my mind, the misery of toothache being all-consuming, but thankfully the weather since we got back from France has been mostly awful so I wouldn't have been going for a drive anyway, lessening the blow.

I have written to the Morgan factory asking for their authoritative advice regarding the appropriate tyres for the car as it will not be long before I have to replace the existing 'Continentals' that are no longer being produced by the company and I am waiting for their reply.

Meanwhile, subject to teeth and weather, I look forward to getting out on our first picnic of 2012, when we can make full use of the car and of course, although not wishing to wish my life away, we'll soon be planning for the Brittany trip in July.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Strange scratchings and scurrying aloft...

....caused us some consternation and certainly fuelled our imaginations as we both lay in bed, at the villa that had been kindly loaned to us, for the price of a bunch of flowers and a kiss, while we visited my sister at Sete, in the Llanguedoc region of southern France.
View from my sister's apartment in Sete

The villa is owned by a lovely elderly lady, a friend of my sisters and we had stayed there four years previously, but this was a sound that we had not heard on that occasion. It was a noise that initially was not very conducive to a good night's sleep and seemed to be coming either from behind the close boarded ceiling under the traditional roof tiles, where there might have been perhaps 10 cms space or on the roof itself. 

On that first night I quietly opened the doors and finally the shutters of our room, before surreptitiously creeping out, on to the veranda so that I could check the roof and frighten off whatever animals or birds that might have been there. There was nothing,  and it was only on our last morning, while trudging up the hill with our breakfast, that a little red creature with a long bushy tail ran in front of us, leapt over the villa wall and up a tree whose branches touched the roof of our villa. We had finally found out who the perpetrators were...SQUIRRELS !!!!!
Sete from the marina

Eventually we became accustomed to this nocturnal playtime and as with all these things it has been added to our bank of interesting 'holiday' experiences, along with the occasion, just four days ago, when we  returned to the villa in the evening to find no water running from the taps. Frantic phone calls followed and it turned out that the gardener had visited and unaware of us had unwittingly turned it off at the mains!

Each day began with a walk down a 1 in 3 hill to the patisserie for our bread and a very slow, arduous walk back for breakfast, followed by an invigorating walk along the promenade to my sister's apartment which overlooks the fish market and has a wonderful view across the harbour to the Mediterranean.

On our way to the indoor market on Sunday we visited the Polling Station where my sister and her husband voted in the first ballot of the French presidential election. The sight of two English interlopers peering around the door, caused some curious glances and mutterings from the assembled electorate and officials present, presumably suspecting a conspiracy on behalf of the British government to affect the outcome.

The coffee we enjoyed at the locals' favourite watering-hole on their daily shopping trips to the market, was fascinating, with everyone in full flow, discussing the possible election result as well as their next meal, for food and politics do seem to be the main preoccupation of the French, with a bit of football and rugger thrown in.

It was on our return to the apartment that I spotted a Caterham parked outside a local bakers and that prompted me to hail the driver and have a natter about our respective cars. Due to linguistic difficulties, we had a somewhat limited conversation but I did find out that it had a 1.6 Rover engine and he thoroughly enjoyed driving it. It certainly looked the business!

Duck at the Auberge
Lunch was taken at the Auberge de Creyssels, Benau, near Meze, close to the Etang de Thau. ""  It was a wonderful occasion, in an ancient building with first class food that is served on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes only, so it is vital to book well in advance.

On the following day we all travelled to Montpellier by train, an occasion when the qualities of the French rail network and rolling stock were adequately demonstrated. Montpellier itself is a vibrant, beautiful city with much classical architecture and we spent a few hours there savourng it's cultural and gastronomic delights....a coffee supped in a beautiful street in the morning and a pannini with tomato and mozzarella cheese, eaten just off the 'Place de la Comedie' !!!!

The final evening was spent, initially listening to some wonderful singing and guitar playing by the husband of a couple my sister knows, who had joined us for aperitifs.This was followed by a meal at the lovely 'Le Marie-Jean Restaurant' alongside the canal in Sete. ""  While we were having dinner,  the Barcelona v Chelsea Champions League football match was on the television so there was a certain amount of Franco/Spanish/Anglo rivalry amongst the diners which all added to a great experience.

The Etang de Thau 
So, in a nutshell, an appropriate term in view of the aforementioned little blighters, we've had a wonderful time, visiting our French relatives and France once again. Wonderful hospitality, that has, in the course of the last five days or so, added some 4 pounds to the already comfortable paunch of the writer!

'Ryanair' didn't do too badly either. We travelled from Liverpool to Nimes return, for the first time with hand luggage only, and it has proved very successful indeed. Less weight and aggravation, no waiting for luggage when you land and let's face it you never wear all the clothes you take in a large case anyway. It's a discipline that all touring Morgan drivers will understand and we intend to continue to do it. After all you can only wear one pair of trousers at a time!


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

It were grand....

....lying on my back under the Morgan greasing those sliding axles again!

I know it hasn't been 1000 miles since they were last done, but I thought that while I'd got the car jacked up, in order to check the nearside king-pin,  I may as well get the wheels off to clean them and at the same time do the greasing. So that is how I have spent the last four hours or so.

As I was lying there, contemplating how I managed to get more grease on me than in the nipple and where I would really like to shove the grease gun, my thoughts wandered to 'Ante Morgan' or AM, that period in time before the two of us met. No grease on my hands then, just the one big lovely Volvo that I cared for deeply and still do, with a suspension system that didn't need this sort of attention after such a ridiculously short mileage interval.

Why on earth was I putting my poor wracked body through all these physical contortions? I'll tell you why, because I bl---y well love it, that's why!

The movement top to bottom on the nearside wheel is negligible, in fact no different to the offside and on that basis I have decided not to get too stressed about the need for a new king-pin especially after checking the tread depth on my tyres (17000+ miles) and realising that some expenditure is going to be necessary in the not too distant future getting the little blighter re-shod!

With all these potential pressures on the family purse I think that I am going to have to curb that other interest I have in 'Morrisons' wine and spirit department! You can't do everything without making sacrifices, that's what my old mother said anyway, but thinking about it she never did do what she preached, so perhaps I could do far worse than follow her example! What will-power!

After cleaning the stainless wire wheels, I dressed the tyres with 'Auto Glym Instant Tyre Dressing' that I find gives a wonderful finish to the tyres without making them look glossy, like many you see on dealers forecourts.  I started to do this after picking up the car from the factory after I had had a job done and finding that it had been washed and the tyres dressed. When I thanked Mark for the way the car had been returned, specifically mentioning the tyres, he said that in his opinion a car was not presented well unless this had been done and so ever since I have followed this example.

I then gave the engine a bit of attention, while checking levels, with another light treatment of 'Auto Glym Vinyl and Rubber Care' which I have used to good effect, on both the plastic and rubber hoses etc., in the Morgan and also for the vinyl covered dashboard etc.,in the Volvo.

Wilting at the knees after all this effort and with a promise from 'Gordons Distillery' waiting for me at home, I put the dust sheet back on the car and retreated.

Just out of interest, had I continued with valeting the car I would have used, 'Auto Glym Ultra Deep Shine' polish (especially formulated for water based paints) and the leather care products supplied by Morgan when the car was new, although I have also used 'Auto Glym Leather Care' for this job.

I DO NOT HAVE SHARES IN AUTO GLYM but like their products! ""

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pacing OK!

I had my annual check on my pacemaker the other day and received confirmation that the thing was ticking over well, with only the occasional blip being experienced as the rev counter on the Morgan approaches the red zone!

My wife and I had a nice little pootle yesterday to see her sister, a round trip of about 20 miles. Not a lot but enough to get the old pulse racing and keep the car up to scratch.

Kenneth, my blogging friend in Sweden, who I now correspond with very regularly via email, had a good drive of around 90 miles at the weekend in his Roadster and its good to know that fellow drivers are getting out and using their Morgans. As Dennis Duggan another regular email 'pen friend' and Morganista says, he didn't spend a hod of money on a car, just to polish it every day! 

Tomorrow I intend to jack the front wheels up to check that nearside king-pin which I know will need replacing. It's not a job that is imperative but on the other hand it gives me a good excuse to get my hands dirty on the little beast and makes a change from pottering around the vegetable garden.

Our computer has been misbehaving and after a rather tortuous series of conversations with Mumbai, an engineer visited the house today and has replaced the phone socket and replaced our 'Netgear' router with the new BT equivalent, all FREE OF CHARGE!!!

What is more it was very pleasantly and professionally completed and as is my wont I have emailed BT to express my delight. I complain dramatically but also praise freely when it is justified.

Actually, if we have any more trouble with the computer we will change it for a faster variety. The trouble is with all these high tech items is, that as soon as you walk out of the store they are already virtually redundant. But you do tend to forget how long you have had these things for and that they are probably long overdue for replacement anyway!

We're off to Sete in the Languedoc on Friday, to visit my sister for five days, so the blog will be silent for a while. Ryanair that well known and somewhat despised airline will take us there, and bring us back hopefully. We are travelling light, with cabin luggage only, thus escaping the £60 charge for a suitcase and the total cost of the flight to Nimes and back for the two of us is £103. Can't be bad!!!  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

With weather like this..... can you fail to roll the machine out of its garage and revel in the experience.
Skippool Creek

But there was another reason that influenced this rather easy decision and that was to try and rectify the ghastly photographs that I had been forced to include in my last two posts, caused by me not adjusting the white balance after taking a number of shots indoors over Easter.

No doubt my HUGE number of regular followers worldwide will have already noticed, having looked again at my revised post of yesterday, that the tide has miraculously gone out!!! At least the car is now resplendent in it's Le Mans green livery!

After visiting the Country Park and taking the new shots I made my way to another interesting location, Skippool Creek, an ancient Roman Port that always attracts my attention because of my interest in boats and sailing, an interest that probably stems from the fact that all my relatives on my father's side of the family, with the exception of him, had a very close affinity with the sea, being fishermen or in the Royal Navy.
Shard Bridge, a former toll bridge, in the background.

I've included some shots that I took while there which of course also feature that little car.

And another thing! What a delight to hear on the BBC News that the owner of a coffee shop in Norwich is refusing to serve customers who are answering their mobile phone whilst at the same time trying to order a coffee. He has put up notices to that effect in his shop and hopefully other retailers will follow suit in order to stamp out this example of bad manners.

It is also equally important that retailers themselves show some etiquette in dealing with their customers. So often I have been in shops, in a queue and next to be served, only to find that the phone rings and I am ignored in favour of the person on the phone, even though I may have been standing there for hours waiting to be served.

Enough of this, I'm going to hit the bottle again. It's all this top-down driving that builds up a raging thirst!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Oh Happy Day!

My daughters will be intrigued by this title, thinking of me in general terms as a bit of a grumps!

Well they can think what they like, I feel top-ho today and even better now that I have been out for a drive in the Morgan in a temperature of 17 degrees! It was almost tropical!
Brussels sprouts, leeks,broad beans etc

Apart from the fact that we woke up to a computer that was misbehaving yet again, rendering it impossible to connect with the internet, a malaise that still persists intermittently, my main preoccupation was with personal beauty, this being the day when the ghastly gap in my top set was going to be filled by a brand spanking new incisor!

Arriving in good time at the dentist I was alarmed to find a queue. Apparently everyone in the sprawling metropolis that is Great Eccleston was suffering from toothache and there was nothing for it but to be patient, a quality incidentally that is somewhat alien to me, grab a magazine that was probably two years out of date and thrust aside my worries that my long awaited tooth might have been lost in the melee!
Wyre Estuary Country Park looking north
 to snow clad Lakeland Mountains

Wow! When I appeared in front of the reception desk after the treatment and smiled benignly at the rather attractive blonde receptionist, it was obvious to me that she was overwhelmed by the sight of my pearlies, a fact that has certainly bolstered my confidence and put the fear of death in her indoors at the prospect of me being constantly approached by droves of admirers with amorous intentions! Some hope!

Anyway, back home it was into the garden to firstly check the seedlings in my cold frame, check the supports for our peonies that seem to have grown inches in the last couple of days and clear blanket weed out of the pond so the fish could actually see the food I threw in.

These jobs were completed quickly because the weather was 'hotting-up' and the prospect of another little drive was on the cards. It was interesting to note that in tripping over the wire for the 'trickle charger' the other day, the connector had been pulled out of its socket and of course the battery wasn't getting a charge.I'll just have to watch my step in future because a similar accident in winter could spell battery problems.

However the car started first time as usual, was driven out of the garage and down the road with an ultra confident pilot who grinned at the first opportunity to all and sundry! It was only after a short distance that I realised that it was the car they were smiling at and not at the sun glinting off my teeth!

I decided that the Wyre Estuary Country Park at Stanah would be a good destination, even with the tide out there is always something to watch, be it an oyster catcher grubbing around in the mud or a dishy dog walker!
What fun these Morgans are! It only needs a short drive to feel once again at one with the car and the road, almost an integral part of a car that responds instantly to your directions and responds likewise with messages about the road surface through the steering column. What with the noise of the exhaust, the wind and sun in your face and the scents of the countryside bombarding your nose, along with the smell of petrol from a very full fuel tank, it's a profoundly different experience.
Almost home.

With a beaming smile that was beginning to make my face ache, I returned the Mog to its garage, happy indeed that none of my stick-on badges had dropped off and most importantly that my new tooth had not detached itself.

Blimey this gin and tonic's good!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Flying the Flag amidst domestic 'disruption'!....

I always do have a tendency to exaggerate slightly, but now that the Easter bunny has hopped away, with number two daughter and her family going back home to Warwick tomorrow and number one daughter already back at work in Surrey, we can now get back to some semblance of normality. We've had a great time with our grand-children, having meals together, playing with them, opening Easter presents and searching for chocolate eggs in the garden, and, although it's always a little sad to bid them au revoir, it's always nice to get back into the old routine, no matter how tedious it may seem at times. Blimey I'm sounding old!!

Oh, and by the way, the industrial cleaners are in!......
A few days ago my son-in-law and I went for a short drive of around 12 miles to top the Mog up with Shell Vpower, just in case no settlement is reached between the five warring parties in the fuel dispute. I'm beggared if I'm going to miss that first warm, sunshiny picnic of 2012!

It was in its new regalia, ie., union flags and stainless GB plates, and looked particularly splendid, although the thing is that around here there are so many who cannot appreciate anything of beauty, let alone a car!!! Completely different than in La Belle France where an adoring public appreciate fully the little Morgan in all its glory.

Just been across the road to the local Ember Inns Boozer for a couple of pints with 'number two's' husband before their departure and it was noticed that one of the waitresses dropped a knife from a tray as she was carrying it back to the kitchen. I naively expected her to pick it up on her reappearing from the kitchen, but no, it was ignored completely. IT WAS IGNORED BY AT LEAST FIVE MEMBERS OF STAFF and was finally, after perhaps an hour, picked up by yours truly and handed to the waitress concerned who thanked me profusely for saving her the trouble of relaxing her knees in order to pick it up!

If that had happened during my M&S training in days of yore, and I had ignored any rogue item on the sales floor, my feet wouldn't have touched the ground, in fact I would probably have been sacked. Sadly, many today seem to lack even the basic senses of responsibility and discipline learned in a good home and school, and it can only get worse!

Tomorrow is going to be a memorable day for I shall once again be able to hold my head up high in the Mog, instead of virtually cowering behind the dash......the gap in my teeth is to be filled with a new gnasher, let's hope that it will not be a bridge too far!

At five pm., still waiting for the Gas Man who should have been attending to the service on our boiler this morning but went in error to our flat which is rented out! So our tenant has now got a newly serviced boiler and his illustrious landlord is waiting feverishly for the little man to appear to service his,  following an appointment re-arranged by a furious 'her indoors'....and believe me, she is not to be trifled with!

The weather has improved a little so I'm hoping that tomorrow I may be able, gas man and tooth permitting, to get out in the little beast.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Top 20 Depreciation Busters!

I had an email this morning from a very old friend who, although he has a rather lovely 1980's Mercedes SL 420 Coupe, has a keen respect for Morgans, an interest that by his own admission is enhanced by the results of an article that appears in the 'On-line Daily Telegraph' today.

The survey names the top 20 depreciation busting cars, showing their likely retained value after a period of 3 years or 30000 miles.

It places the Morgan Plus Four 4th, with a retained value of 68.7% and the Roadster 2nd with 69.6%.

I think the reality is even better than those impressive figures suggest , but nevertheless, it is yet another reason to rejoice in our wonderful cars!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Same manufacturer, same quality but no holes!

'Er indoors has dragged me around the local Morrisons this morning, stocking up for the imminent arrival of our offspring, husbands and grandchildren. 

The place was heaving and is becoming, it seems to me, like a second home and this I must guard against. My late lamented father could spend all day there, given the chance, scrutinising the prices of everything in the store and making comparative judgements against each item, whilst chatting and making friends with the staff. 

I do not share that enthusiasm for Morrison's products or pricing policy and there is only one particular section of the place that grabs my attention and that is the wine area! 

Eventually with a trolley that was overflowing with items that were totally alien to our normal spree, like tiny  child-sized yoghurts, special cereals, sliced bread and various 'treats' (none for me!), I staggered into checkout position 10, behind a woman who had enough cat food to feed the occupants of a cat sanctuary! And thinking about it, that's another potential subject for my blog! 

The trolley, that as usual, seemed to have a mind of it's own, was guided at the front by my dear wife, to avoid the likelihood of me losing control and careering into a parked vehicle, and the contents were transferred into the cavernous realm of the V70's boot. With a comment about the huge number of vehicles  still queuing for fuel, regardless of the assurances given out by both unions and government we happily went on our way, with similar misgivings about who to believe...... to the Shell Station up the road!!!

On the subject of fuel, I always use 'Shell' or one of the other major brands, in both cars and filled up the other day at the same price that Morrisons were selling theirs, but at least mine had all the protective additives that I understand the Superstores leave out to keep costs down.

The Easter break, or indeed any Bank holiday, does not fill me with any enthusiasm at all. The weather is usually perishing, the roads will be seething with all manner of drivers, seemingly intent on spending much of the period in a jam, en route for an attraction that will be similarly clogged up. For a miserable beggar like me there is only one place to be, and that is at home keeping a low profile!

Yesterday I ordered from 'Classic Car Accessories' on the web, a set of stainless 'GB' numerals, together with two stick-on union flags from the MSCC. I have been meaning to do this for a while and with regard to the union flags I was pleased to see that the club shop sold the stick-on variety, as I have been reluctant to drill the Morgan's body in order to fix the screw-in type. Same manufacturer, same quality, but no holes!

At least when we travel to France this year we will now be proudly flying the flag, whether or not Alex Salmond approves  I frankly don't care!

'Miscellany' has just arrived in the post so I shall spend the afternoon perusing that fine volume.