Saturday, 28 December 2013

Maiden Voyage!

Well, she didn't sink, neither did the radio fail, so I didn't have to don the waders that I had taken just in case the worst happened.

The storm had finally blown itself out and the day dawned calm, dull and not too cold, with just the prospect of a bit of sun peeping through the clouds, so it was off to Fleetwood Model Yachting Lake for the maiden voyage.
It was inevitable that there would be an audience of relatives and so it was essential that Grandad didn't make a fool of himself and showed himself to be in total command of the technical aspects of the occasion.

All was well and with the light westerly wind beginning to chill us we decided to lift the boat out of the water and get home for a warming tot of the hard stuff!!

Delighted with the result after many hours of enjoyable building. 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

...and a peaceful and prosperous New Year to all my readers.

Have a lovely time today and dream of glorious Spring and Summer drives in your Morgan.



Saturday, 21 December 2013

Vacancies filled!

After pursuing the two potential recruits residing in Switzerland but realising that it was going to cost at least 32 Euros to have them transferred, I decided to fill my two crew vacancies from the UK.

This momentous decision was made while I was searching the web for alternatives and happened to come across a fellow boatbuilder who made his own.
Not the most handsome helmsman!
The discovery was like a red rag to a bull, so off I went to 'Hobbycraft' in Preston, to buy some 'Fimo' modelling clay and some cheap acrylic paints, accompanied by my lovely wife who would never miss the opportunity of visiting a nearby M & S!
...and as for this beauty!!!!
Mission completed for around a fiver we returned home, whereupon, I found some galvanised wire in the shed and shaped it into the skeletons of the crew I required, ie a helmsman and a glamorous female who would flaunt on the rear seat of the deckhouse!
At the wheel
After kneeding the clay I started to sculp the figures by forming the clay around the wire framework.
She looks absolutely paralytic after consuming her wine!!!!
When the figures were completed to my satisfaction, not quite to Michelangelo's standard, they were placed in the oven at 130 degrees for half an hour, after which the hardened figures were taken out, allowed to cool and then painted.
All set to go.
The results of my labours can be seen in the photographs.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Helmsman required!!!

My new boat is complete except for at least one crew member which I feel will add to the look of the craft when it is on the water. I have sourced a couple of likely candidates who are residing currently in Switzerland, so I will probably wait until after Christmas and New Year to recruit them, when the postal service will be less fraught.
The building of this luxury cruiser has taken up most of my time over the last few weeks, when I should have been out there buying Christmas cards, presents and cogitating over the various details, culinary and otherwise that we men have to contend with at this time each year!

It has also meant that I have not been out for a pootle in the Morgan....and oh do I enjoy a good pootle! Anyway yesterday I ventured out on a 15 mile round trip to give the engine a good run and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now the boat building is over I shall be giving more time to our cars and also to our humble abode and garden.

How this will affect my constitution remains to be seen, because, while building the boat, my wife said that I was a better person to live with, informing most of the village of this dramatic change in Chucker's character, in fact on one occasion she caught me singing or was it whistling? Yours truly was a very happy chappy, absolutely top-ho, so I'm hoping, and so is everyone else, that I do not have a relapse.

The maiden voyage of the 'Lollypop', I haven't chosen a name yet, took place this morning in our bath. In preparation for this I asked my wife to fill it , which she gladly did, carrying jugfuls of water filled from the well at the bottom of the garden. In our part of darkest Lancashire, United Utilities have not got around to laying on modern facilities so we are obliged to retain our ancient bathing facility and take a shovel into the garden as and when necessary.

It was not a very long maiden voyage, as our galvanised bath tub is not very long, in fact we have a dreadful job getting in and out of it, especially as we are both ridden with rheumatic ailments! However, once I had got to grips with the technical aspects of radio control, the boat moved in the direction and at the speed I demanded, which was encouraging, although it was necessary for her indoors to hold on to it to avoid collisions fore and aft in the confined space.

I am looking forward to a calm sunlit winter's day when I can take it to our model boating lake and see it perform to its full capacity.

Only five days now to the shortest day, then we turn the corner and although there is a lot of winter to come, at least the days will get longer and dreams of idyllic Morgan based picnics will once again be filling my mind.

Photos of the build follow:-


Sunday, 17 November 2013


As you all know, I lead a miserable life in my little terraced cottage in darkest Lancashire, where, during the dark winter months, the only pleasure I usually get is to enjoy a kipper or a black pudding for breakfast.

I then sit huddled over a glowing ember in the fire grate trying to keep warm, with a dewdrop on the end of my nose, listening to the wireless, wearing many layers of clothing, including thermal underwear, fingerless gloves, woolly hat and a jumper that is six sizes too big, knitted for me by a Hebridean lady called Morag, who proudly said at the outset that she always knitted them slightly large for the local fishermen!

Large!.... it's absolutely immense, and could accommodate another person easily. They must be huge those Hebridean fishermen!

It's easy for me in winter to feel morose, when weather conditions mean that on most days the Morgan stays in the garage and yours truly is confined to the house, reading, surfing the web or being instructed in the art of washing-up and general housekeeping, by a wife who has certain of the traits of Attilla the Hun!

When all those various tasks are completed I normally find myself twiddling my thumbs, so this winter I decided that things would be different and as a result went out and purchased a radio controlled model boat kit to keep me occupied. I've always had a yen for one, especially having completed, a few years ago, a plank on frame model of one of Nelson's ships.
The job has given me hours of pleasure and a few moments of concern, when my heart skipped a beat, thinking that I'd ruined the whole project.
 As I write, the winter has hardly started and we've a lot of very grim weather to come, but I'm sure that this rekindled interest in modelmaking, for I did a lot in my youth, will keep boredom at bay.

However, one of the main problems I have is that it is not an easy task to build models of this type wearing fingerless gloves!!!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Room with a View

Following the visit of Her Majesty the Queen in July, my wife and I have just enjoyed a special one night break at the Miller Howe Hotel ,a small Arts and Crafts hotel, set in 5 acres of grounds, overlooking Windermere in Cumbria.
The Miller Howe Hotel

Arranged by our daughters and their husbands, as a gift to celebrate my 70th birthday, they knew that we would truly appreciate the special quality of this long established restaurant and hotel. It was set up in 1971 by John Tovey, the renowned chef, hotelier and food writer who is now in his eighties.
Possibly one of the first Country House Hotels, it has always enjoyed a first class reputation for food, comfort and service. The Head chef is Andy Beaton who worked for Raymond Blanc in his restaurant,'Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons.
From our bedroom window, with the Langdale Pikes in the distance
The weather when we set off from home was not really condusive to carefree Morgan driving, so we got our trusty 11 year old Volvo V70 out of the garage, a luxury car to match our accommodation!
...and another, I couldn't stop taking shots of this view!
The hotel lived up to its reputation, with a lovely quiet ambience, magnificent food and superbly efficient and friendly service......and we awoke in the morning to that glorious view.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Blind Piper!

At last, the website of the 'Blind Piper Pub' in Caherdaniel is up and running and our Morgan appears in the banner, 12 images in.

My wife and I are delighted, as we have so many happy memories of our holiday in Kerry with the Morgan and it was fortuitous that, on one of our visits to this delightful tavern, we parked outside and Vincent Hyland just happened to be taking shots of the pub for the new website.
The Blind Piper pub
Vincent is a local artist and naturalist, as well as a lovely chap, and I suggest that you have a look at the following websites and  which I think will truly give you a sense of the magic that is the wild coast of Kerry and encourage you to visit.
No caption necessary really!

The full story of our visit to this fabulous area can be read in my blog '4/4 to Kerry'.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Start 'em young!

At last I was able to keep my promise to my eldest grandson....a drive in Grandad's Morgan.

He never stopped talking on our drive and after giving me initial instructions not to drive fast, decided, after 200 yards, that he rather enjoyed travelling fast.

All smiles!

During the whole trip I never exceeded the speed limits, but with the sidescreens off it seems like you are travelling extremely fast, especially to a 4 year old!.....and perhaps to a 70 year old as well!

We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

'Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!'.........

........especially on days like this.

The sun has been shining all day, a wonderful change from the rather gloomy and wet weather we have had recently and this prompted us to make the most of it by going for a drive in our freshly polished steed.
Wrea Green, with 'The Grapes' and church in the background.
First stop was a splendid tavern, 'The Grapes', between Kirkham and Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, where we quaffed some splendid real ale sitting outside in the sun. Whilst there, my wife pointed out that we hadn't driven the Mog along the promenade at Blackpool and that sounded like an excellent idea.
Lytham St Annes
After a brief stop at the RNLI shop in Lytham we travelled along the coast, enjoying a measure of sophistication, until the Blackpool boundary was passed and we entered a different world, a brash, gaudy, noisy place, built solely for fun.... not the sort of fun we enjoy, but many people do.
The 'Big One'

In its shadow.
There is no place like it and it is still the most visited resort in Britain, if not Europe. Gone are the times when thousands of people shuffled down the promenade passed my father's fancy goods shop in the 'Palace Varieties' buildings (long gone) and were crammed deckchair to deckchair on the beaches.
'Cinderella' presumably!
However,  Blackpool still draws the crowds even now, mainly for day trips or short breaks, but those glory days, when people from industrial Lancashire, Yorkshire and elsewhere used to spend their summer holidays here, before cheap holidays on the Costas became the vogue, are a part of history.

Sadly, the Tower is having some sort of paint job, that seems to be taking an inordinately long time to complete and is partially shrouded in polythene, so it's more graceful lines have been somewhat lost.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Musing about the future

Unlike my dear Morgan friend in Sweden, I am not forced by weather conditions to lay-up the car in Winter, which he is doing at the present time. Fortunately it is usually possible to enjoy a few drives during the dark months, when conditions allow.

However, I do like to keep the Morgan in first class shape and especially at this time of year and feel it  desirable that the body should have a good waxing, the hood a good clean and of course all the brightwork cleaned and polished.
Gleaming again!

It was while completing this task, in a garage well protected from the howling wind outside, that I pondered the decision by the Board of the Morgan Company to oust Charles Morgan.

In the light of this important development and in the absence of any announcement from the Board about the future direction of the Company, there is bound to be a high level of speculation.

On reading the news in the Daily Telegraph Business Section and the comments of his wife concerning 'greed' amongst other members of the family and the Board, it suggests to me that these people might have ill-founded grandiose ideas about the Company's future.

As I said to another Morgan chum, if they are keen to move away from the enviable niche position that Morgan enjoys in the marketplace and have hopes of lining their pockets by going into the mainstream, they would, in my opinion, be extremely misguided

It is the eccentricity of this hand-built marque, even at the most expensive model level, that is it's attraction and from where it's success stems.

The Board needs to be very sensitive to the key and unusual attractions of the product before allowing their imaginations to run away with them.

I do hope that they have the nous not to kill the goose that has laid the golden egg!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Cruising down the River

In 1954, when I was a young chap of 11, I made my first visit with my family to the Norfolk Broads and that holiday sowed the seeds for a deep and lasting affection for that area.

With its huge skies, boundless wildlife and slow moving rivers and broads, fringed by whispering reed beds, it has a unique appeal and linked with my enduring love of boats, has constantly drawn me back. Indeed my wife and I spent our honeymoon there in 1966, on a fine vessel called 'Star Glory' from the yard of Jack Powles in Wroxham and when our own family was young we spent happy times just messing about in boats.
Sunset, Oulton Dyke
So it was that I responded to that deep seated urge to return yet again and booked a four day short break on 'Silver Mirage' from Silverline Marine "http//", on the River Yare at Brundall near Norwich. My crew were my illustrious wife and her sister, who I hoped had not forgotten how to tie a clove-hitch since our last visit, or lost the ability to leap into the unknown as the Commander made his attempts to bring our vessel within jumping distance of the mooring. On both counts my expectations were ill-founded!
Moored stern-on in Beccles Yacht Station
It's quite a long slog across country from Lancashire so we decided to spend a night in Thetford, to break the journey, in one of those 'purple' hotels that in a previous post I was quite critical of.

Whether or not their training team had taken to heart my criticism on 'Trip Adviser' following that earlier visit I don't know, but not once did I hear 'Hi-ya y'alright there!' and neither were we referred to as 'guys' preceded by the aforementioned phrase, in the restaurant! In fact any greeting was a civilised hello or good morning which pleased this miserable old git immensely.
Early morning Worlingham Staithe

The approach to the boatyard is always exciting. Would our chosen vessel be as gorgeous as we expected or would it have been holed by the bowsprit of a passing yacht or perhaps had its canopy swept aside under a low bridge by an incompetent skipper who was unable to understand the tide tables?

We need not have worried, there she lay at her mooring, resplendent in the sunshine awaiting our arrival. The owner of the yard greeted us and having sorted out the paperwork, the business of unloading our provisions from the Volvo and into the boat proceeded apace.
On the River Waveney en route for Loddon
Why is it that we always take with us three times the amount of clothing that we are likely to need and our food and drink supplies would have been more appropriate to the needs of the 'Queen Mary 2'!  Honestly, anyone would have thought that we were setting off on a voyage around Cape Horn and beyond!

Anyway, following an in-depth conversation with the boatyard owner about the benefits of owning a Morgan  as he was thinking of buying one,(he had spotted my MSCC sticker on the car), we set off into the wide blue yonder
Herringfleet Drainage Mill

As we only had 4 days it had been decided to concentrate on the southern rivers of the system, the Yare, the Waveney and the Chet and our first overnight mooring was in Oulton Dyke which leads into Oulton Broad, the very place where, as a boy, all those years ago, I had gazed at that lovely cruiser with its varnished mahogany gleaming in the sunshine that was to be our holiday home for a week.Incidentally it was hired from a certain Jim Hoseason who was just setting up, what is now a huge holiday organisation from his small boatyard at Oulton.

The next day we had a leisurely cruise up the River Waveney to Beccles where this ageing 'plonker' made two very embarrassing blunders!
Moored at Loddon
En route to Beccles we stopped to fill up with water and found that I couldn't engage the bow thrusters, a very useful modern addition to cruisers that greatly assist in the whole mooring process. The boatyard was duly phoned and the engineer said that he would meet us in Beccles to effect a repair.

Calm evening at Loddon
We moored stern on in the Yacht Station and the young lady Harbour Master advised that I should lower the mudweight (a large heavy lump of metal) from the bow to stop any swinging from side to side.This was done and we waited for the engineer, who arrived as arranged, promptly went to the thruster control, pressed them and found that there was not a thing wrong with was the Commander's ineptitude or downright stupidity to blame. Thoroughly embarrassing.

After waving the engineer goodbye, accompanied by many apologies, we walked into the town to top up provisions, buy postcards (my wife and sister love to send postcards) and have lunch and a beer.
Loddon Staithe
On our return to the boat the engine was started, the two stern mooring lines stowed and we set off assisted by fully functioning bow thrusters. We had travelled barely 20 yards when we heard a strangled cry from a lady in a cruiser moored close by, kindly informing us that our mudweight was still down!

This was a situation that demanded the swiftest action to prevent anyone else seeing our plight and compounding our embarrassment. The Commander brought the vessel to a halt, handed the helm to his wife and leapt forward to the bow and hauled the weight on to the deck where he virtually collapsed, having forgotten that he is no longer the sprightly and strong person of his youth!
Rockland St Mary Staithe

We moored for the night at a village staithe where we were joined by a group of fishermen who positioned themselves off our bow and talked and fished until 3.30AM when they finally left us in interesting day!
Magical last morning, Rockland Broad
Fortuately the rest of the holiday was less eventful and we spent a beautiful evening in Loddon on the River Chet and our final night was spent moored on the village staithe at Rockland St Mary, where fortuitously there is a fine tavern, The New Inn, recently taken over and refurbished, where we enjoyed a very pleasant evening meal.
Just wonderful!
Dawn on our last day was sensational, it was calm, the sun shining through a low mist that hung over the river and Rockland Broad as we made our way to the boatyard, always a sad moment and four days is just not enough....I envied the couple moored alongside us at Rockland St Mary who had just enjoyed two weeks in this delightful part of the country.
Journeys end, Brundall on the River Yare

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A pootle in the Dales.

Assured by the Meteorological Office that we were to enjoy the last gloriously sunny day, before a change in the weather would herald the approach of Autumn, we decided to venture into the Yorkshire Dales.

Following our usual route via Hornby in the Lune Valley, Thornton-in-Lonsdale and Ingleton we travelled to Hawes, passed the Ribblesdale Viaduct that carries the Settle/Carlisle railway line and savouring the fabulous moorland scenery with the flat-topped Ingleborough mountain always present.
Above Hawes at the start of the 'Buttertubs Pass'

From Hawes we drove over the Buttertubs Pass and into Swaledale, where we intended to have a look at the little village of Muker. Little did we know that our visit just happened to coincide with the Muker Agricultural Show, always held on the first Wednesday in September.

Apparently it is a delightful, friendly, traditional Show and certainly very popular, as the place was absolutely heaving with humanity. The beauty of the village was somewhat blighted by this onslaught and so, being slightly averse to large crowds and vast numbers of cars, we beat a hasty retreat. Miserable '' I hear you say!
Wain Wath Force

We had a picnic to enjoy, not the usual one that borders on a gastronomic extravaganza, but a single delicious, mouth-watering pork pie, purchased from one of our friendly local suppliers.

The spot we chose to consume this succulent item was Wain Wath Force, a beautiful waterfall just upstream of Keld, where the River Swale is in its infancy.

On then, travelling north along Birkdale, to Nateby and Kirby Stephen, on the upper reaches of the River Eden before turning west to Sedbergh, Kirby Lonsdale and home, stopping for that welcome pint enroute at the 'Fat Lamb' public house at Ravenstonedale "www.".
Outside the 'Fat Lamb'

Interestingly the 'Black Sheep Ale' which I was drinking with some relief and pleasure was brewed by Paul Theakston, who named the ale after leaving the family brewing firm of 'Theakstons' to set up his own operation in Masham, hence the name 'Black Sheep'!

Apparently, the landlord at the 'Fat Lamb' has a keen interest in classic cars but sadly he wasn't there, so the inevitable discussion between the two of us was missed. There's always next time!