Monday, 30 June 2014

Who needs a Plus 8........ create an impression!

I've just returned from filling the tank in preparation for another picnic up in the Yorkshire Dales tomorrow.

En route to the petrol station I passed a lover and his lass walking on the pavement. As I drew alongside, slowing for a roundabout, I heard the young chap say, "Wow! look at that beast!".

There's only one thing I'm concerned about. Was it the car or me he was referring to?

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Morgan Experience

My wife and I have just received an email from a very dear friend who has just enjoyed a drive in a Three-Wheeler as part of a Morgan Driving Experience.

The 90 minute drive took place from the Morgan factory and around the lovely Worcestershire countryside.

He so obviously enjoyed himself , that I knew my band of readers would relish his description of the drive as much as we did.

"........So arriving at Morgan I immediately see my 3 Wheeler ready to go. It's very new - I am told by the instructor (Ian) that Morgan had to modify the suspension after the early models proved a bit hairy - and am assured that I have got a good one. I am fitted with a waterproof jacket (luckily the rain holds off) and a crash helmet. I wouldn't ever choose a helmet of course - it blunts the perception and sensations that are the whole point of the vehicle - but one can see that as a business they have to insist. I am delighted to report that I received no lecture, no instructions, just a few words of advice which I think were "keep the revs up, be careful pulling out at your first junction as the turning circle is huge, and push this button to start her".

I heave myself in - both hands on the framework like the parallel bars at school whilst I try to wiggle my dangling legs under the steering wheel. Bit tight (not for porkies this car - I have read your latest blog. Pies, sausage rolls and chicken goujons but no mention of the salad eh?). Bit of a squeeze wrapping the seat belt around me. Snug is the word. 

The handbrake is fly-off Morgan as in the 4s. There are very few controls at all - one switch for lights on or off - no high beam malarkey. Turn key for ignition. Covered aircraft style button for start.  Lovely binnacle. The indicator stalk is a bit weird. Push the stalk to indicate as normal. And then push again the same way to cancel. Or they will self-cancel after 15 seconds. This was the only part of the design which annoyed me. You have to keep looking to see if they are on or off. Citroens used to have marvellous indicator swicthes - push switch to turn on, push again to cancel - simple & intuitive and I miss them. 

Orf we both jolly well go. First turn is a left out of the Morgan factory gate and I swing massively wide - the turning circle is lorry-like and we are briefly on the right-hand side of the carriageway. After this, careful approaches and positioning at turns become second nature and all is well. Ian's only role as instructor is to point a gloved hand in the direction of travel, saving me the bother of navigating the Worcestershire roads, which makes my drive very stress-less. I had expected a Germanic list of do's and don'ts but they do things casually in Malvern and so I am bursting with happiness.

The 3 pedals are very close together - no driving in hiking boots here - and there is no place to rest the clutch foot, not even behind the pedal, which I would find tiring on a long trip. But of course Morgan themselves admit this jalopy is simply for fun. (It is!) I have been allocated an hour but in the event I think I had 90 minutes. Great variety of roads - A, B, C and some tracks, plus tootling all the way through Great Malvern to get the idea of how she handles in start-stop. Some fast stretches dualling with HGVs, across some moorland with horses grazing at the roadside, then up into the hills where Morgan take their publicity pictures. The scenery is first class. I am sitting low down in the car and cannot really see where the left hand front wheel is or how close to the kerb, but it wouldn't take long to "get it".  Very little weather protection. Ride is fine. There is no real sensation of being in a 3-wheeler in terms of lean or stability. And I can sense everything. Engine very agreeable - this is not a high-revving screamer but a low, throaty torquey beast.

Most of the noise comes from the right-hand exhaust which is close to my ear. Burbles and roars, with occasional crackles and pops. Very agreeable sound. Less agreeable is the constant chirruping & whining from the transmission tunnel. Ian later described it as sounding like a bunch of caged birds. The gearbox come from the MX-5 so is fine.

I quickly feel "at one" and it seems an easy car to chuck around, though I know I didn't come anywhere near to fully exploring it - the guys at Morgan have special courses (I am tempted) to show owners what it can really do when you let rip. The central rear driving wheel is driven by a belt, and it's positioning was noticeable when we went up a track with a grassy/muddy strip in between two bits of tarmac (think farm track) as then the rear wheel suddenly started slipping and the car darted from side-to-side. Huge fun. 

It was all over too quickly of course - but well worth the trip. Everybody (and I mean everybody) stared as the car went by. An attention-seekers dream.

I cannot pretend to myself that I'll ever buy one of these, but I would love to be able to hire one now and again to enjoy a full day of pottering.

Wonderful, simply wonderful"

See what I mean?

Death in the drive....

.......and also in the pond!

You may remember the efforts I made to frighten cats away from my garden. Well, I think that it may be categorically stated that they have failed miserably!

The proof being that on two occasions over the last few weeks, since erecting my 'scarers', I have opened the rear door of the garage that leads to the Morgan's home and there on the drive were the bloody remains of a fat Wood Pigeon and the more dainty body of a mangled Collared Dove.

Not only that, but I have also found partially eaten chicken bones, not that we keep chickens, we don't. but something must have been given or purloined these things to munch on and I suspect my feline friends are the culprits.
Remember this fearsome fellow?
More worryingly, as I was cleaning the wheels on the Morgan and greasing the front suspension, a job that I did say recently that I would leave to the professionals to save my poor wracked body from more contortional damage, I checked the fish!
To think that we do this for fun!
Had they been knobbled by a large avian with a long pointed beak or were they merely resting amongst the weed growth? Anyway, I went to the pond to check on the situation today and saw, to my horror, just one fish that was clearly on its 'uppers' and breathing its last breaths. It was removed from the pond and to save any further suffering, because that's the sort of chap I am, despatched it with a brick!

Clearly, cats and Herons are unmoved by my artistic creations and continue with their devilish activities.

Sod the World Cup and all other distractions, where are my fish and what am I to do about those wretched cats?

Friday, 6 June 2014

Another Picnic in the Fells.

The Bleasdale Fells to be precise and a drive to the Trough of Bowland, mostly owned by the Duke of Westminster, who kindly allows peasants like us to visit his land.
Our trip followed the usual pattern, strapping chairs to the luggage rack, a quick drive to our favourite baker to pick up a pies, sausage rolls and the wonderful chicken goujons they produce which are mouth watering to say the least when dipped into mayonnaise and finally the leisurely drive into the fells.
It is a beautiful, restful spot where the silence is only broken by the sound of birds, the babbling stream, not yet a river and the arrival of one Bryan Rawlinson, former Treasurer of 'Norcemog' who had spotted us as he was driving past and stopped to have a natter. He was driving his new 4/4 with only 45 miles on the clock, a special order that had a spare wheel and luggage rack fitted and various other goodies.
As an aside I must say that I felt that the new style 4/4 without a spare or a luggage rack was a retrograde step. In my opinion it rendered it pretty useless as a serious touring machine.
Bryan in his lovely new 4/4
Anyway, it was lovely to speak to Bryan who is delighted with his new acquisition.
Yours truly...I really will have to lose some weight!
On the outward leg I realised that the offside rear flasher was not working so on our return I set about checking the bulb and the bullet connections. Still no success, so having exhausted my knowledge of electricity, an ineptitude that is on a par with my feeble knowledge of plumbing, I took the car to my local friendly garage who fixed it in a jiffy. The problem was that a fibre washer had come adrift from a thingumajig and this he promptly fixed for nowt!!!!