Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Two days in West Cumbria.

My eldest daughter, who drove the Morgan for the first time just a couple of days ago said that she would like to revisit The Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow gauge railway.

Not a man to poo-poo such an idea, accommodation was arranged for one night at The Pennington in Ravenglass, an ancient Roman port on the Cumbrian coast, my intention being to drive up to Wastwater on the first day and spend the second on the railway.

Under blue skies and in brilliant sunshine we set off on the 2 hour drive from home, finally taking a right turn after Broughton in Furness to take us over Ulpha Fell, into Eskdale and thence into Wasdale and England's deepest lake.

The views when driving across Ulpha Fell are spectacular and I remember a Summers day a couple of years ago, when I parked the Morgan and Helen and myself listened to the skylarks flying above us, a sound that I hadn't heard since childhood, when I used to play in the meadows surrounding our village until farming methods changed and the developers moved in.

But I digress. As we drove through Wasdale the excitement was palpable as we waited for the first view of Wastwater, a wild, mysterious lake with water that appears black due to it's depth with the dramatic Screes plunging down into it from the Scafell Pike massif on the south side.
 And then it was there, in all its majesty, and we stopped to appreciate Britains 'Favourite View'.

There was a strong wind from the east, with squalls that were lifting the water from the surface of the lake, all adding to the effect. In fact while we were looking across to Great Gable at the eastern end of the lake we were hit and almost drenched by a direct hit from one of these squalls that almost took us off our feet!
Herdwick Sheep being driven over the ancient bridge at Wasdale Head.
The River Irt flowing under it.

Time for a beer and chips at the 'Wasdale Head Inn', a renowned mountaineering venue and then on to Ravenglass to check in at our hotel, that proved to be first class in every respect.
The main street in Ravenglass with our hotel in the middle distance on the right.
During the rest of the day we walked around this very special little place, both on the main street and on the beach, something we also did the following day, before our train was due.
Tide out at Ravenglass

Looking south with Black Combe in the hazy distance

Fings ain't what they used to be! Black and white shot taken in the main street at Ravenglass
We had been so lucky with the weather and the sun still shone as we climbed into our carriage for the 40 minute trip from Ravenglass to Dalegarth.

Our engine 'Northern Rock' reversing up to the train.
Wonderful as ever, it being our third or fourth time over the years, and certainly appreciated by the rest of the party especially perhaps our two grandsons.
Raring to go!
The pictures tell the story of a fantastic two days.
Two little boys approve!

Approaching Irton Station
Glorious scenery en route
Turning her around at Dalegarth
'Double Header'
What a great trip!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Sophie drives the Morgan

Some weeks ago my eldest daughter said that she would love to drive the Morgan, so when I heard that they were visiting for the Half Term break I got in touch with Gott and Wynne, my Insurers, and arranged for short term additional driver cover.
At the wheel and raring to go!
Thankfully the weather was good and my driver was clearly very excited at the prospect of her first drive.
Fleetwood, with the North Euston Hotel and leading lighthouse in the background.
We drove to Fleetwood keeping well within all speed limits, I think 55mph was the maximum we achieved and no matter how hard I tried I could not encourage her to take it to 60!!!!
Could this be the 'Morgan Grin'?
When we arrived home, after a drive that she clearly enjoyed immensely, Max her eldest son said that he would like a drive so in went the child seat and off they went for a quick spin.
Sophie's final words when they got back were....I WANT ONE!!!!!!
Arriving home with Max on board.

...and I think that he enjoyed the drive as well!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


...........there are times when I get very annoyed indeed and this is one of those occasions.

Have my illustrious and devoted readers in the UK noticed the number of occasions on which many people, including those in the media, are beginning almost every response to a question with the word 'So'?

Most annoying and just as annoying as those people who now appear to have forgotten how to sound the 'x' in sixth.

Here is an example of the new 'sicth' times table.

                                        1 sicth is sic
                                        2 sicths are twelve
                                        3 sicths are eighteen  etc.,etc!

Where do these abominations in pronunciation originate?

What is more sad, is the fact that so many individuals suddenly jump on the bandwagon and start following the herd.

Anyway, now I've got that off my chest I'll get back to model boatbuilding!

Friday, 9 October 2015

What a Pickle!!

To keep myself occupied during the approaching winter, with weather that might preclude much Morgan activity, I decided to build myself another ship of 'Nelson's' navy.

The model of 'HM Schooner Pickle' is starting to take shape and will ultimately have a place on the top of our bookcase alongside 'HM Yacht Chatham', the vessel that carried Nelson's body up the River Thames on its final journey to the city of London.
The history of the Pickle is interesting.

Forever associated with Admiral Nelson's final and most historic victory, the Battle of Trafalgar 1805, Pickle was chosen to carry the news of Nelson's victory and death back to England.

Commanded by Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere, Pickle was not directly involved in the battle but was kept busy rescuing both friend and foe from a watery death. By 6pm the muster list showed a total of 160 prisoners taken on board, the majority of these coming from the burning French Achille. Given the size of Pickle and the fact that she only had a crew of just 40 it is remarkable that they were not only able to rescue so many but that they then prevented prisoners from escaping.

After the battle, with Collingwood now in command, every ship including Pickle, was required to maintain the blockade of Cadiz.
However, on the morning of the 26th October 1805, Lapenotiere was signalled to come aboard Euryalus where he received written orders from Collingwood to sail for Plymouth with his despatches.

Pickle was probably the only ship that Collingwood could spare given his current circumstances. This is also backed up by his letter to the First Lord of the Admiralty which states:-

'dispatches containing the account of the Action of the 21st Inst, and detailing the proceedings of the fleet to the 24th will be delivered to you by Lieut. Lapenotiere, commanding the schooner Pickle......having no means of speedier, or safer Conveyance with me at present'

At noon the same day, Pickle departed for England battling for the next 7 days through stormy seas. On October 31st four of their 12 pounder carronades were thrown overboard and then on November 2nd the weather changed to the other extreme and with no wind, the sweeps were employed just to keep the ship heading towards England.

On the 4th November they finally reached Falmouth where Lapenotiere was landed in Pickle's boat. From this point he set off on his now famous post chaise using at least 21 changes of horses to travel more than 270 miles in 37 hours. It cost £46.19s.1d, more than six months wages for a Lieutenant.

Lapenotiere finally reached the Admiralty at around 1am on the 6th November and announced to William Marsden, First Secretary of the Admiralty,

"Sir, we have gained a great victory, but we have lost Lord Nelson"

On the 28th July 1808, Pickle was finally lost, while again carrying dispatches, under the command of Lieutenant Moses Cannadey. During her approach to Cadiz she was grounded off Cape Santa Maria on the Chipiona Shoal. She sank quickly but all her crew were saved.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Holiday in Pollenca

Just returned from twelve glorious days in Pollenca, Mallorca.

We've been visiting the area quite frequently since 1987 and thoroughly enjoy it. Knowing the area well, there is no dramatic urge to visit well known sites and places as there normally is when one visits a new location, so it is immediately a restful experience....just like home really!

The villa we stayed in is situated in the foothills of the Tramuntana range of mountains and just a 30 minute walk from the Placa Major in Pollenca.
Our holiday home.

The view 

The view from the front of the villa was gorgeous with the Calvari in the foreground and Puig de Maria behind. From Pollenca, it is a challenge for most visitors to climb the 365 steps of the Calvari to the little church at the top. On this occasion, having previously done it, we gave it a miss and sat in the sunshine drinking a beer.

There is a Monastery at the top of Puig (pronounced 'pooch') de Maria.  I have climbed up to the monastery a couple of times but now regard myself as past it, at least as far as climbing goes.
The 365 steps of the Calvari in the background.
The Roman Bridge
The villa at night
Port de Pollenca
Port de Pollenca from the 'Pine Walk'
The Sunday market in Pollenca
Imagine our surprise/shock when we received a 'face time' call on our Ipad from our eldest daughter, who, giggling, said that she was outside our front gate! She had decided that she needed a bit of 'me' time and had decided to leave her two little boys in the care of her husband to fly out and surprise us.
What a delightful surprise, it made our holiday.
The unexpected arrival!
Port de Soller
What a super time we had and now we are back with the prospect of an English winter looming.....ah well there's always next year!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

What a great day out!

I've always wanted to visit 'HMS Victory' , having a keen interest in all nautical matters, historic or otherwise, so when called upon for babysitting duties in Surrey it seemed an ideal opportunity to fulfil that desire with a visit to the Historic Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth.

Sadly, the Morgan will not accommodate three adults and two children, so it was the Volvo that whisked us down the A30 to Portsmouth on a lovely sunny morning.
'HMS Warrior'
On the deck of 'Warrior'
The gun deck of 'Warrior'
Arriving promptly at the 10.00 opening time we did not have long to wait before starting our visit with a close look at 'HMS Warrior', which on that particular Saturday was due to host a wedding ceremony on its aft deck. Indeed as we approached the ship some of the participants in that function were pruning and preparing themselves on the quay...not a particularly pretty sight!
'HMS Victory'
From 'HMS Warrior' we moved on to the prime reason for my visit, 'HMS Victory'. It is only when stooping along the decks that you can appreciate fully the cramped conditions that the sailors lived and very often died in.
One of 'Victorys' gun decks.

The spot where Admiral Lord Nelson fell.

The bow of 'Victory' showing one of the massive anchors.
Having read countless Patrick O'Brian novels following the adventures of Jack Aubrey and 'HMS Surprise', plus other historical nautical novels, I was already aware that conditions on board the ships of that period were difficult.

However, it is only when you actually see the conditions in reality and notice also things like the size and weight of the guns that they manhandled into action, the size and thickness of the ropes they hauled and reflected on their living conditions with dodgy food and rats everywhere, that you can get a real sense of the seamens' lives.
The 'Mary Rose'
The 'Mary Rose' was next, Henry V111's flagship, which is housed in highly controlled conditions in a building specially built for the job, where also are housed all the various items and personal effects that were found during the raising of the wreck from the seabed.
'HMS M33'
Newly opened to the public was HMS M33 the Royal Navy's only survivor from the 1915 Gallipoli campaign....a fine sight but entry was controlled and a certain adorable grandson wanted to ascend the Spinnaker Tower, so that was that, up he went with grandad....but not before we went on the included harbour cruise. What great value the whole visit had been....wonderful!
The harbour cruise

The 'Warrior' and the Spinnaker Tower from the Solent.
The Spinnaker Tower
Fortunately there was a lift at the Spinnaker Tower otherwise grandad wouldn't have made it! However, on reaching the top the views were terrific and I was delighted to hear my grandson remark that he didn't find it as exciting as his trip to the top of Blackpool Tower!
From the top of the Spinnaker Tower
Isle of Wight in the distance

The 'pointy bit' at the top of the Spinnaker Tower

What a fantastic trip and one that I would recommend to anyone who is keen on the maritime history of this great country of ours.