Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Three days in the English Lake District

The invitation to attend the 40th wedding anniversary celebrations of two of our friends, who live just south of Carlisle, presented the opportunity to perhaps build a short break around the event.

We don't need much encouragement to get away, so an apartment was booked with Sally's Cottages of Keswick, http://www.sallyscottages.co.uk , packing completed, only a large soft bag necessary for this trip plus our picnic bag, and off we went.

Fortunate we are to have the Lake District on our doorstep, offering wonderful touring opportunities in perhaps one of the most beautiful areas of the UK.

The pictures tell the story.

This was taken in the car park at the 'Travellers Rest', in the shadow of Helm Crag (The Lion and the Lamb) at Grasmere.

At 'The Borrowdale Gates Hotel' http://borrowdale-gates.com in Borrowdale, where we stopped for some fluid sustenance!
Looking north up the Borrowdale valley.

Derwentwater, note the American taking a photograph of the car....or was it my wife!

Outside our apartment at Cocklakes Farm, just off the A66 Penrith-Keswick road. The fishing lake in the distance.

A shot of your hero fly fishing! Sadly the trout weren't hungry and I caught nothing. I had to hire the tackle as my rod wouldn't fit in the Morgan!

Outside the 'Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel' with Ullswater in the background....and no we did not stay there! Do you think we are made of money?.....it was just a good photo opportunity! http://www.sharrowbay.co.uk

Above Howtown on the southern shore of Ullswater, with the lake in the background.

Oh, what a joy touring in the Morgan, especially in country such as this!

Homeward bound, with Ullswater and Glenridding in the background. Very soon we would be in those clouds above the village as we climbed to the summit of Kirkstone Pass.

Headlights on in the murk, outside the 'Kirkstone Pass Inn', at 1500 feet above sea level the highest pub in Cumbria. "Who comes not hither ne'er shall know, how beautiful the world below"

Whoever penned those lines was absolutely correct. This was taken at the summit looking down the valley towards the northern shores of Windermere.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Everything in the garden is lovely.....

......and the Morgan's not so bad either!

The heatwave continues and thankfully being by the sea, there is always a gentle breeze to keep temperatures sensible. Last weekend when we were at our daughter's home in Surrey the heat was quite insufferable.

However, what the heat has done, is create a profusion of growth in both our formal garden and our vegetable patch.

We've already enjoyed our first peas and early potatoes, the first pickings of gooseberries and rhubarb have been made into pies by my wonderful wife, and those are in the freezer.We are looking forward to our heaviest crop of blackcurrants in the next couple of days.....and the broad beans are looking good as well. Runner beans and blackberries will follow in due course as will the 'Cox's Orange Pippin apples on our little tree.

The old 'Victoria Plum' tree produced a considerable number of baby plums and I have thinned these out dramatically to ensure that we get a crop of good sized fruit.

Amidst all these horticultural activities, neither the old Volvo or the Morgan have escaped attention and yesterday we escaped in the Mog for a lovely day trip to see one of my old chums in the Lake District. His wife is currently in Kentucky and we thought it would be good to visit him to make sure that he wasn't starving to death or not looking after himself properly!

The 'Hot Pot' stop
Well that was our excuse for going, although the plan did offer the opportunity for us to clamber, sorry, fall into the Mog and drive off into the blistering sun, before it sets on this sceptred isle and we once again have to endure the dismal, cold, wet weather the UK so often has to endure.

The drive north was lovely and included a brief stop to pick up a 'hot pot' en route,at my pal's favourite confectioner, a fuel stop where we spoke to the owner of another Morgan, Bryan Rawlinson, Treasurer of 'Norcemog', and a stop in Grange over Sands at my favourite butcher for Black Pudding and various other delicacies.

'Black Pudding' stop at Grange over Sands
I say the trip was lovely, which it was, but we were delayed by Cumbria Council deciding to resurface the road from Newby Bridge to Lakeside, Windermere, during a holiday period and also when the road temperature was extremely high. You can almost guess the situation.....that was the date they set to complete the job and that was that, no possibility of changing the arrangement, regardless of the heatwave (already a few days old) or the fact that it is lunacy to do a job like that on a very busy narrow road in the holiday season!!!!!!

At our friends' house in Finsthwaite
It did however raise a potential problem for us in our lovely Morgan. The tar was virtually running on the newly laid surface, with stone chippings flying everywhere, threatening to make an awful mess of 'Nellie'.
Fortunately, knowing an alternative route, we were only on the wretched stuff for a hundred yards, but it was not until we were well down the motorway on our return journey that the last chippings flew off our tyres!

What a great day. Everything about the car is lovely.....and the garden's not so bad either! 

More images of Ireland

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sunderland Point

Following our return from the Emerald Isle and wishing to make the most of good weather, we set off to Glasson Dock, a pleasant run of around 14 miles, on normally quiet roads, with some very naughty fast sections.

Having enjoyed a lovely pint of local ale at the Stork at Conder Green, http://thestorkinn.co.uk/ we pootled into Glasson and found an excellent spot to while away an hour opposite the ancient port of Sunderland Point.

It was developed as an out port for Lancaster by Robert Lawson, a Quaker, at the beginning of the 18th century. Reportedly, stonework from the ruined Cockersand Abbey just across the river, another quiet picnic spot, was used in the construction of the quay and buildings. Lawson finally went bankrupt in 1728, which began a steady decline until it was totally surpassed by Glasson Dock which opened in 1787. Ships could unload here, or wait for the tide, before moving up to the main docks at St. Georges Quay in Lancaster and registering at the Customs House.

The Port of Lancaster, once the third largest port in the country, was part of the slavery triangle. The master of a slave called Sambo left him at Sunderland Point whilst he travelled on to Lancaster to undertake his business in the rest of Britain. Sambo died in 1736 in the old brewery at Sunderland Point, which still stands on the corner of a pathway that leads to his grave. Sambo's grave on the windswept shoreline is unconsecrated as he was not a Christian and is still a local attraction. It almost always bears flowers or stones painted by the local children.

In the photograph, Sunderland Point is the promontory in the distance. We haven't ventured there in the Morgan yet, as the road to the Point is covered at high tide and there is always a substantial amount of mud remaining on the road after the sea withdraws.


On our recent trip to Ireland it soon became apparent that diesel fuel was cheaper than petrol.

Of extreme interest, not because I put diesel in the Morgan, but because my other car is an old Volvo V70 diesel. It was purchased second hand some 10 years ago, partially in response to the Government's desire that people should drive diesel fuelled vehicles because of their economy.

In June, the prices per litre were:-  
                                               Unleaded                      Diesel
UK  (Euros)                               1.58                            1.63

Ireland                                        1.57                            1.48

How on earth can our Government or the oil companies justify this?

I know it's a question that has been raised before, when, I seem to recall, we had a totally unacceptable explanation, but perhaps it's an issue that should be addressed again.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

4/4 to Kerry

As we drove along the A55 in North Wales, in light rain and extremely bad visibility, ruining what would have been a lovely view over the Dee estuary, I noticed that a section of the rubber on our offside wiper blade had split and was coming adrift.
This is not the sort of situation that you need, as you embark on a week’s holiday in Ireland, not noted for its warm, dry climate! Neither is it a moment to contact your local dealer for a replacement, more a case of buying some Super Glue and temporarily fixing it, which is what I did in that thriving metropolis of Menai Town on our arrival in Anglesey.
Waiting to board the ferry
Our high speed ferry, from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire was leaving the following day and the night was spent at ‘The Seacroft’ http://theseacroft.com/ an excellent pub and restaurant with rooms, at Treaddur Bay, just 10 minutes down the road from the port.
While we were there, we noticed another couple, arriving in a Range Rover and towing a splendid bespoke trailer. Being somewhat inquisitive (nosey!) we were intrigued to know what was inside it and the following day we were to learn the answer.
During an uneventful crossing, we were approached by a chap who asked us how we enjoyed our Morgan. This led to a very interesting conversation during which it transpired that the man was Alan Beardshaw, MSCC member Number 74, I think he said, and in the trailer was one of his cars, a 1934 MG K3 that he was taking to the 75th Anniversary celebration of the 1938 Cork Motor Race, in which it had taken part.
Ballaghtobin Country House
Following our landfall at the terminal in Dun Laoghaire, it was a two hour drive to our first night’s  accommodation at the lovely Ballaghtobin Country House situated at Callan, near Kilkenny http://ballaghtobin.com and owned by Mickey and Catherine Gabbett, who farm their 350 acres as well as accepting guests in their beautiful home.
Whilst there, Mickey showed us his amazing collection of vehicles that includes a Plus 8, restored from ‘barn find’ condition. He has taken part in a number of rallies including the ‘Paris-Peking’ and the ‘Flying Scotsman’ in his Alvis 12/60 ‘Beetleback’ and has recently bought an Austin Chummy for trialing.
Just three of Mickey's cars
After a restful night, in lavish surroundings, we set off on the 150 miles last leg of our journey, via Clonmel, Mitchelstown, Mallow and Killarney, to Castle Cove on the ‘Ring of Kerry’.
It was very noticeable that the farther west we travelled the roads got appreciably worse and by the time we had left Killarney and were driving up to ‘Moll’s Gap’ in the shadow of ‘Macgillycuddy’s Reeks’ on the Inveragh Peninsula, the Morgan’s suspension was taking a considerable battering.

High speeds were out of the question and the frequent need to pull off to allow faster traffic to pass, meant that the journey took longer than expected. But what the heck, the scenery was magical and we arrived safely at our self catering apartment at ‘Westcove Farmhouse’ http://westcove.net/ , just in time for our first G&T!!

Westcove Farmhouse. our base in Kerry

The view from our apartment at West Cove
The view from our home for a week was spectacular, encompassing the little harbour, offshore islands and the Beara Peninsular in the distance with the very real possibility of seeing basking sharks, seals or otters in the waters. What a fabulous area this is, washed by the Gulf Stream, allowing many tropical plants to flourish and with wonderful beaches and walks, it certainly measured up to all our expectations
Derrynane House
During our stay we visited Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s great liberator, with its superb beach used by smugglers in the past, Kenmare, a sophisticated, picturesque heritage town and perhaps our best day of all, a lovely drive to Valencia Island.
The beach at Derrynane
The weather on the day we visited Valencia was gorgeous; off came the sidescreens, on went the sun cream and an early start was made.
'The Blind Piper', Caherdaniel
We left the main road to Cahersiveen and joined the Skellig Ring, on what was to be a thoroughly memorable drive. With fabulous sea views, the distant Skelligs, famous for their thriving puffin and gannet populations, were visible in the misty morning sunshine and we stopped for a coffee just before dropping down into Portmagee and the bridge on to Valencia Island.

En route to Valencia Island, the Skelligs in the far distance left
Portmagee is close to the place where the ‘Great Eastern’ laid the second Transatlantic Cable in 1866. From here we pootled around the island towards Knightstown, from where the first cable was laid in 1858 by ‘HMS Agamemnon’ linking Knightstown to Hearts Content in Newfoundland.
Portmagee and Valencia Island in the distance
The ferry from Knightstown to Renards Point delivered us to a splendid hostelry called ‘The Point’, which has a totally justified reputation for its seafood, portions of which were consumed with relish.
On Valencia
Valencia Lighthouse
In Knightstown awaiting the ferry to Renards Point
On the drive back to Westcove I was getting a little worried about a clattering noise emanating from the offside front of the car as it travelled across the worst sections of road surface.  It was only after our return to the UK, when I was washing the car, that I realised it had been caused by the offside overrider rattling against the indicator lens and not, that I hadn’t put the wheel on properly as my wife had suggested! 
Killarney Lakes our journey back to Callan
The weather on our last day was ghastly, so our ramblings were limited to a short visit to the local market in Caherdaniel and then to the local pub, ‘The Blind Piper’.
As we were enjoying our chowder and Guinness, the landlady approached us and told us that when we had visited previously, the Morgan had been photographed outside the pub and will appear on their new website which is currently being constructed.
That bit of news really brightened a rather gloomy day.
Inistioge, a  lovely watering hole
We set off early on our return journey, as we were once again staying the night at Callan and wanted to spend time in the city of Kilkenny. It was a prudent decision, as I was able to drive over the worst roads before traffic intensified, straddling the white line to avoid the potholes and broken edges!
A bit of history!
On Sunday we drove to Dun Laoghaire and parked to await the arrival of the ferry and spotted that bespoke trailer again, which of course prompted another meeting with Alan and his wife Tina. However, on this occasion we got to look inside the trailer at his magnificent MG, part of a very large collection that includes a vintage Bentley (‘The fastest lorry in the world’...Ettore Bugatti), an SS Jaguar, an HRG, a couple of Astons etc.,etc. In his words, a shed full!!!!
1934 MG K3
What a wonderful trip we had, covering a total mileage of 1085 miles. The Irish were so friendly and wherever we went the car attracted even more attention than it usually gets, not just from the locals but Americans, of which there were many, and the many other tourists visiting that gorgeous part of the world.