Thursday, 21 June 2012

"Is it a kit car mate?"......

I'm sure that many owners have been approached in similar fashion by someone interested to have a natter with them about their car.

In similar vein some two years ago, I was parked overlooking the sea at Fleetwood, when a couple of chaps passed along the promenade and assuming they were out of earshot, one of them said, quite assuredly, to his obviously less knowledgeable companion that 'those haven't been made for years, that must be a replica!'

Ah well, we know better don't we?

Across the bay towards Fleetwood in the distance
Two days ago the day dawned beautifully, lovely to see the sun again in a June that has been apparently the worst on record. In the UK we have probably enjoyed only three weeks of sunshine since the start of the year, which must have made life very difficult for those working Morgan owners who rely on good weather at the weekend to enjoy their cars. Fortunately my wife and I are retired and can take our opportunities on any day.

The conversation as we ate our breakfast was concentrated on deciding where we should go for our next picnic in the 4/4. After a variety of suggestions had been offered, we decided on a place that, although we have lived most of our lives in this area, we had never visited, the ruined Abbey of Cockersands.

Lighthouse, Heysham Nuclear Power Station and the Lakeland Hills
My wife prepared food as I got the Morgan ready, strapping our two collapsible chairs on to the luggage rack and ensuring that our little picnic table was stowed on the back shelf.

With a brief stop in Great Eccleston, boosting our lunch, with a couple of rather splendid locally made pork pies of high repute, we continued, crossing the River Wyre on the Cartford Toll Bridge, then on to Pilling and the A588. This road took us across an area called Cockerham Sands where, traffic permitting, you can really revel in the performance of the car, and where in days of yore, before the sea defences were built, the tide often covered the road.

I remember as a child, on day trips to the Lake District, many occasions when father's Austin 12 only just reached the other end before the sea consumed the road. Turning left at Conder Green, where the little River Conder empties itself into Morecambe Bay, we made our way to the harbour at Glasson and then south along delightful country lanes, bordering the sea, to the car park overlooking the River Cocker estuary.

The Chapter House and ruined walls of Cockersands Abbey
Before setting up our picnic furniture, we set off along the coastal path to see the ruins of Cockersands Abbey, a former abbey near Cockerham in the City of Lancaster district of Lancashire. It was founded before 1184 as the Hospital of St Mary on a marsh belonging to Leicester Abbey. It was refounded as a Premonstratensian priory and subsequently elevated to an abbey in 1192. It also continued as a hospital.

The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and acquired by a John Kitchen. The site is now adjacent to a farm house and the only significant relic is the still intact, vaulted chapter house which was built in 1230 and used as a family mausoleum by the Daltons of Thurnham Hall during the 18th and 19th centuries. 
The chapter house is a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The Isle of Man Packet approaching Heysham

The walk offered terrific photo opportunities but our attempt to get up very close to the Abbey was thwarted by a herd of cows and a particularly menacing Hereford bull, which kept making a similar noise to that last heard by us, being emitted by a large male lion, while on a safari in the South Luangwa Reserve in Zambia!

The closest we got to the Abbey was with my telephoto lens!

My wife beat me back to a gated section of the track, that offered protection from this marauding beast, should it have decided to attack!

Lighthouse marking entrance to the Lune Channel and Glasson Dock

The beast that upset my wife

With table and chairs set up we settled down, enjoying the view, when the cry came from the direction of the car, "Your car is it? Do you mind if I have a look?", not at all, I said, raising myself and walking over, prepared to launch into a history of the Morgan Motor Company. This turned out to be absolutely essential, as the man's ignorance was profound, and his first utterance as I reached the car, I have used as a title for this little offering!

Picnic time
Not only that, his dogs, unleashed, proceeded, much to the mounting chagrin of my dearly beloved, to make a bee-line for our sandwiches and the delicious pies that she had placed on the table! With lightening reactions she recovered them to the safety of her bag, although in doing so, some of the still fluid juice out of those scrumptious pies had leaked out.

Lapwing in flight


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Foot Wear!

Some weeks ago I noticed, having driven around 17000 miles in the 4/4, that a small area of the drivers car mat was showing significant wear, from the heel of my right shoe as it operated the accelerator pedal.

The prospect of 'forking out' a load of money to replace the mat did not fill me with any enthusiasm, in fact the prospect of approaching the custodian of the family coffers ( 'er indoors ) about any such expenditure would have been painful and foolhardy in the extreme, so I had to think of a more economical way of dealing with the matter.

What a boring picture!
I then recalled a time in the past, when I was sitting at the local railway crossing, in the drivers seat of our then brand new Volvo S70, waiting for the 10.37 from Blackpool to Poulton-le-Fylde and all stations to York, that I was distracted by a beautiful young lady entering the Hairdressers opposite. This unexpected awakening caused me to lessen the grip on the mouthpiece of the pipe that was smouldering in my mouth, causing hot ash to be showered over my trousers and the velour covered front seat!

It must have seemed to the driver sitting patiently behind, that the occupant of the car in front had suddenly been attacked by a swarm of hornets, as his arms thrashed and flailed about in a panic to extinguish any  major conflagration.

However, immediately after successfully negotiating the crossing, I stopped to review the damage to my trousers, any part of my anatomy and most importantly the car seat. Oh doom and damnation, there it was, a neat hole with a brown burnt border, in the plush grey upholstery.

I drove home in utter misery, crept in and buried myself in the 'Yellow Pages', where I found a likely looking car upholsterer, who I felt might take pity on a poor, stricken, pipe smoking Volvo driver who had by this time broken into a series of cold sweats.

This splendid fellow did a first class job, in very short time, to almost erase the hole and in fact I can't remember now whether or not I even mentioned the saga to my wife at all, or indeed whether she even noticed the slight blemish.

Another boring, but practical image!
Anyway, this was the man I would turn to with my Morgan mat

The decision was made to do what I think the factory should do on all appropriate models and that would be to extend the area covered by the protective rubber covering as shown in the photos. This does not in any way detract from the beauty of the carpeted area and yet serves as a truly practical protection to an area that is bound to wear.

DONE IN 24 HOURS, COST..... A MASSIVE  £15, and even then I think I gave him an extra fiver!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Seize your opportunities.....

......and on this occasion it was some very rare sunny weather that resulted in the Morgan being rolled out of the garage.

But, first things first. I had decided yesterday that unless I did something to the sun-visors, which annoyingly refused to stay in an upright position, they would have to go. In fact they are of little value anyway, apart from being decorative perhaps, only being useful if travelling into a sun that is very low on the horizon.

Ignoring the advice that I had previously received from some fellow Morgan drivers on 'Talk Morgan', who facetiously advised me to visit the local Pharmacist who might be able to cure the problem, I resolved to solve it.

I should say that the visors in question are the leather cloth covered variety, supplied I think by the factory and not the perspex type.

These were removed and I was well on the way to improving their operation, that appears to rely on the friction created between the tube running along the length of the top of the visor and two rods, inserted at either side, that are screwed into the lugs at the top of the windscreen. This friction was increased by very careful hammering to compress the tube slightly.

All was well when completing a test fitting until one of the lugs in the frame of the windscreen broke off! 

In an engineering sense these appear to be a very weak element in the construction of the frame, not having a back plate/flange that would make them impossible to break off, and only appear to be lightly brazed into position.

Anyway, that incident resolved my dilemma, and when I had super-glued the lug back into position, I decided that, although I think the resulting repair is as sound as the original, I was not going to re-install the visors. They have been stored for posterity. BUT ANY MORGAN DRIVERS WITH SUN VISORS, BE WARNED!

But the car was there, resplendent as usual and just begging to be taken out. My original plan had been to do some gardening, but you know how it is, the sun was shining and in the UK you never know when its going to shine again so there was nothing else I could do, I just couldn't ignore my instincts! So the Mog was cranked up and was driven off down the pot-hole riddled roads that surround us and into the pot-hole riddled local countryside. 

I had a lovely drive lasting about an hour, just pootling around in the sunshine and, I have to say,  I didn't miss those sun-visors at all!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Headlight deflectors.

As I mentioned in a previous post, our headlamp deflectors for our forthcoming trip to Brittany, were purchased via 'Amazon' for £4.19, some £5 cheaper than the same items from 'Halfords'.

Deflector trimmed and temporarily fixed to illustrate positioning.
Following the limited instructions provided for more traditional headlamps of the circular variety (Morgan is not mentioned in the list of car manufacturers), I have trimmed the blanking pieces and my photograph shows them temporarily fixed to the lens with 'Blue-Tak', final fixing will probably take place in the car park of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution HQ in Poole, where we are staying for the night, prior to boarding our ferry just down the road.

A visit from a Duchess!

My wife and I, along with many others, stood on Poulton-le-Fylde railway station in predictably wet and windy weather, to welcome the 'Duchess of Sutherland', hauling a special train to Blackpool from Sheffield.

6233 'Duchess of Sutherland' was outshopped in July 1938 from Crewe Works and was part of the third batch of her class. These were unstreamlined, painted in LMS standard crimson lake livery and had a single chimney and no smoke deflectors and an estimated cost of £13,800 each.
First view of the approaching Duchess
6233 was initially allocated to Camden, London. She acquired a double chimney in March 1941 and because of drifting smoke acquired smoke deflectors in September 1945 before being painted in postwar LMS black livery in September 1946.

With the creation of British Railways on 1 January 1948 she was allocated to Crewe North depot and given her BR number 46233 in October 1948 being repainted in BR Brunswick green livery in 1952 or early 1953. In June 1958 she was allocated to Carlisle Upperby before eventually being withdrawn from Edge Hill depot in February 1964. During her 25 years service she ran 1,650,000 miles - the second highest mileage by any member of her class.

Following her withdrawal from service she was acquired by Butlins Heads-of-Ayr holiday camp, Scotland in October 1964. Later moved to Bressingham Steam Museum she was subsequently acquired by The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and restored to working order at the Midland Railway - Butterley within 5 years at a cost of over £350,000.

On 6 March 2010, 6233 was rolled out in LMS lined black livery, which will be carried for 2010, before major overhaul.

On 3 March 2012, 6233 was rolled out in "authentic (Brunswick) green" livery, as used by British Railways during the early 1950s, at the Midland Railway - Butterley following her major overhaul.

On 11 June 2002, the restored Duchess was the first steam locomotive to haul the Royal Train for 35 years, transporting Queen Elizabeth II on a tour to North Wales, from Holyhead to Llandudno Junction, as part of her Golden Jubilee.

It was lovely to see this historic locomotive, particularly as we have a large print by David Weston in our dining room, showing her in red livery at Camden and also wonderful to know that so many people, including the young, still have an enduring passion for steam.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

"He who has owned a Morgan has not lived in vain!"

This is a quote from a Swedish Morgan Owner who I hope doesn't mind me using it in my blog, for it encapsulates everything that is so special about Morgan ownership, and one of those delights is planning a lengthy drive, which is what I am starting to do, in preparation for our Brittany trip. Nothing better to get the pulse racing!

I have sourced my headlamp deflectors from 'Amazon' at £4.19, as opposed to £9.95 at Halfords and they are on their way. The breathaliser kit that is now required for driving in France is available from Halfords at a competitive price, so we'll get that shortly, and everything else that is required, such as reflective jackets etc., we already have from our previous trips to the continent. However,  one further item that I need to update is our main map of France and this has now has been ordered from 'Amazon'. Our more detailed driving map of Brittany is only a couple of years old so it will be fine.

Our route itineraries have already been printed out, using the Via Michelin website and they show that the minimum mileage we shall be covering is 1114 plus of course any pootling about we do when in Brittany. The website 'Mappy' is also excellent for this purpose,

Making the most of some very rare good weather, I have just had a quick blast to Fleetwood, a former major fishing port on the Lancashire coast. Always a pleasure to look at the sea and the various boats and ships plying their business in Morecambe Bay, a reminder of how pleasant it is to live near it.

My return trip was via Cleveleys where I happened to stop at a local Fishing Tackle Shop because your hero has decided that after 45 years or so, he might like to once more cast a line into the sea and catch a fish or two. This newly found interest was brought about to a certain degree, when my grand-daughter and I met and spoke to a chap who was fishing at Knott End on Sea on the Lancashire Riviera and I am still considering the possibility. It could be achieved for a small outlay and would give me yet another interest apart from bloody Morgans, gardening and of course my long-suffering spouse!

Mileage on my 2008 Morgan is now 17500 or so, which proves that at least this little beauty is being used and not cossetted and cocooned for posterity in a controlled environment! It should be said that up to date we have enjoyed totally trouble-free motoring and by the end of this year I suspect that mileage may be pushing 20000.

One of the benefits of writing a 'hugely successful blog' is the attention that is given to you by those in very high places. Imagine my delight to be invited to take my place on the Royal barge during the Jubilee Flotilla!...... Sadly, only in my dreams, courtesy of the pictures from BBC HD television that I took with my own camera via the television.

I thought that the photographic coverage of the event by the BBC was great, but overall it was absolutely appalling, with no detailed descriptions of any of the various vessels taking part, being made by the presenters. The unfortunate viewers, including me, had to endure, with the exception of the delightful Clare Balding, whose research is always impeccable, the tedious, inane flippancies of the lightweight 'celebrities/personalities' taking part. Important national occasions warrant substantial commentators. Huw Edwards and Clare would have been fine or alternatively, bring back the Dimblebys!!

 FORTUNATELY WE WERE ALL PROTECTED FROM THE RAIN!!!!!!!!                                                                                 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Up the Tower!

Having your grandchildren staying with you brings countless pleasures but there are also associated risks, like finding that your computer printer is defunk, only to find on further inspection that there is a 20p piece embedded in its innards. Oscar had decided to use the thing as a money box!!

However, the pleasures are many, with highlights such as family BBQ's, picnicking by a moorland stream and enjoying the childish pleasures of a lost youth,  rolling up your trousers to re-create the dam you built, in almost the very spot, all those years ago.

Great fun, but the best experience, at least for my lovely 6 year old grand-daughter and me, was to go up Blackpool Tower.
Re-painting in progress
On the basis that we only had two complimentary tickets from 'Tesco' and as the others were all feigning vertigo, it was decided by the 'committee' that the old buffer should accompany his grand-daughter, I suspect on the basis that as I was the oldest, I had the least to lose if, due to my weight, I crashed through the newly installed 5 cms thick glass viewing platform to an untimely death, while I suppose my grand-daughter would float gently to the ground!

Anyway we both enjoyed ourselves immensely, both of us tackling the 'Walk of Faith' with a measure of aplomb that would have left the quivering group at ground level dumbfounded!
View from top looking south

The Tower, inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, was built in 1894, is 518feet 9inches high, takes 7 years to paint (they were at it while we were there) and it takes the lift 69 seconds to get to the top. ""

On the 'Walk of Faith'
We loved it and when I suggested to Olivia that, as she was going to the Circus in half an hour, we had better go down she was rather disappointed.
Blackpool, an unashamedly loud, brash place, with not an ounce of sophistication, was built for fun, and that is precisely what our family and the thousands of others there were doing, having FUN. There is nowhere like it!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A true Englishman!

My three year old grandson Max was recently taken to Bournemouth for a couple of days, so that my daughter and her husband could briefly escape from the rigours of  a busy working life.

During the afternoon of their first day, having endured the vagaries of the British climate, Max proclaimed that he had had enough and wanted to go back to England!!!

The 4/4 that changed colour!

I suppose I should have suspected something when we saw a large lorry unloading bags of aggregate at selected points in the Crown Inn's car park, as we parked the car after a couple of hours sightseeing in a nearby market town.

The knock on our bedroom door came just as I was preparing for a quick shower and enjoying a gin and tonic.

Partially opening the door and peeping out, not wishing to frighten anyone by the sight of a partially clad fellow, who had many reasons not to be entirely enamoured by his physique, I saw the face of a worried young member of staff, who said, "Sorry to bother you sir, but as the men are beginning to spread the new aggregate on the car park, you might wish to move your car".

I thanked him and hurriedly dressed, in the clothes that only a few minutes before I had removed and shot downstairs.

The sight reminded me of a story told by 'Blaster Bates', an explosives expert, who, after blowing up a cesspit for a local farmer, noted that, as the wind caught the contents of the pit it had caused the local pub to change colour, his story was entitled 'A shower of -hit over Cheshire'. Anyway, this was a similar sort of situation, although fortunately it was only the dust from limestone aggregate and nothing more repugnant that covered our pristine car, but it was enough to fill any self-respecting Morgan driver with some horror as its colour had changed from 'Le Mans Green' to a pale grey! It looked as if it had been standing in Pompeii as Vesuvius erupted.

I tried to adopt a cavalier approach and casually parked the car in the road opposite our bedroom window and secretly hoped that there would be an immediate and torrential downpour to wash the blessed stuff off.

You know how it is. Every time I looked out of the window there was that dirty little Morgan, dirt that had not been gained from some fine sporting trial, but from the simple act of men spreading aggregate on a car park! It was annoying and anyone driving an ordinary car would probably have put up with it, but when you are a somewhat neurotic Morgan owner, something had to be done.

My wife tried to calm my anxious state by suggesting that, as it was getting busy in the pub, the matter should be dealt with in the morning. 

Having spent a rather unsettled night, I approached the owner of the establishment to ask if I could borrow a bucket of water. Thankfully, not only did he immediately respond to this request but suggested that a hose might be more appropriate and I readily agreed. 

In half an hour our lovely car was returned to showroom condition and I was a truly happy man! 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Death on the Lawn?

It was time that I had a haircut, so as usual I collared my dear wife who was a hairdresser many years ago and who possesses the necessary skills in abundance to tackle my miserable, diminishing white locks!

So there I sat in the kitchen contemplating the tasks that I had to complete on what was a beautiful day, as she snipped away, adding to the pile of silver hair that already lay on the kitchen floor.

It doesn't take her long to complete the job and having showered and eaten my breakfast, I was ready to attack the day.

I decided that the first job was to mow the lawns, so having brought the lawn mower from the garage I made my way through the little arch that leads on to the lawn at the rear of our house.

Horror of horrors, clearly there had been another attack by one of the feral cats that are currently plaguing us, depositing their mess in the flower and vegetable beds and attacking the already rapidly diminishing bird population!

The sad pile of white feathers on the lawn was clear evidence of this.....except that on closer inspection it seemed to be human hair....MINE!!!

This green and pleasant land!