Sunday, 18 December 2016

What a beauty!

7 sleeps to go and I decided to give 'Nellie' a spin...and what a drive it was!

Extremely cold but quite a bright day and above everything else dry roads, so with heater blasting out and without my speed restrainer sitting beside me I set off.

Foot to the floor and the exhaust bellowing I vanished down the road to the first traffic lights, where I was accosted by a former customer and her daughter who were overwhelmed by the beauty of the Morgan and surprised when I lifted my 'flip-up' sunglasses beneath my beanie hat and discovered that it was their former village newsagent driving the car.

Blimey, the car went well, a very civilised version of the Morgan is the 4/4, eminently manoeuvrable and with sufficient 'poke' (I think that is the term) to satisfy most people, no Ferrari certainly, but who the hell wants a Ferrari anyway!

Not today....but thoughts of Spring!......
It was also an occasion, as I powered my way down the road, which was surprisingly quiet considering the time of the year, to ruminate about 2016, an 'annus horribilis' for my wife and I, including as it did for me, seven weeks in Manchester Royal Infirmary and stays in both Norwich and Exeter hospitals. Two cancelled continental holidays and one cut short.

But it wasn't just that. We now face Brexit, something I didn't vote for, although I am beginning to feel more settled about it, especially since our so called friends in Brussels are behaving like spoilt children and treating us badly. I just wish that the government would get on with it.

Not just that either. Car makers, including those at the luxury end of the market, are still producing extremely ugly cars which the populace are voraciously consuming. It seems that every week another SUV (SERIOUSLY UGLY VEHICLE) comes off the production line with each manufacturer proclaiming how desirable and unique they are, when in fact they all look just the same! Barmy!

Other things have niggled me, such as the fact that it seems de rigeur for most people, including BBC interviewers to begin their response to every question with the word 'so'. Really, really annoying, and I was amazed to hear that it is not confined to this country but seemingly every country that uses English is also doing it!!!!! It's like a disease but who started it I don't know.

....and all the wonderful experiences we've had in 'Nellie'
And another two things, relating to the language. Have you noticed how many people don't sound their 't's'? Ironically a very good example of this is the Shadow Education Minister of all people, and many of her colleagues!! God help us!
The other is the pronunciation of the word sixth, now it seems very often pronounced 'sicth' by many supposedly highly intelligent people.

There are other things, but I can't remember them due to my advancing years. Just a very grumpy old man I suppose!

Meanwhile, on the road home I am holding back, just like the F1 drivers do during practice sessions, to allow themselves space to get their clogs down. Then, oh boy, the sheer exhilaration of the Morgan at high speed, what a shame there are speed limits to hold me back.

All is well with my world now!


Sunday, 4 December 2016

A sunny winters day!

What a glorious day, very cold with a frost on the ground, but a wonderful opportunity for a spin in the Mog.

The alternative was a couple of hours power washing the York stone backyard....the Morgan won hands down!
Lytham St Annes with the windmill in the distance.
So, off to Lytham St. Annes we went for my lovely wife to continue some Christmas shopping.

Across the Ribble estuary with Southport on the skyline.
I'm afraid I must have been an even grumpier old man than usual, criticising everything from the appalling size of many of the people we spotted, to complaining vigorously about the fact that we dish out millions of pounds in foreign aid (even to India who no longer need it) and we cannot afford pots of white paint to repaint white lines on the roads and particularly mini roundabouts that prove difficult to see in untreated concrete, especially in the low winter sun.
Down the prom,prom,prom with the 'Big One' in the distance.
I'm quite conviced that the government will not be satisfied until the standard of our roads matches third world standards. I kid you not when I say we have experienced better road surfaces than ours in East Africa!
Hundreds of Santas taking part in the Santa Dash in aid of the local Hospice.

And one that got away!!!!!
Wonderful letter in the Daily Telegraph this Saturday in response to the announcement that speed bumps were possibly going to be removed to improve car emissions......"Who needs speed bumps anyway, when we have so many potholes!"
Blackpool Tower basking in winter sun.
Enough of this, we had a great drive and our pictures as usual tell the story.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Up the creeks again!

It was late morning when I thought, sod it, let's get out for a quick spin.
The day was a little warmer than it had been for the previous couple of days, a wintery sun was shining, so some serious top-down motoring was in prospect.
Wardleys Creek

The roads were fairly dry during our little pootle, a relief because I do not like driving through 'unpleasantnesses', a term I use for anything that will dirty the car and demand additional cleaning.

The drive took us once again to local creeks off the River Wyre, which are situated just a few miles from home.
Just testing the telephoto lens.
As well as giving the Morgan a good run, so important during the winter lay up, it offered the opportunity to test a new aquisition, a rather lovely little Sony camera, ideal for travelling, that would make a change from my lumpy Canon SLR.
Skippool Creek

We thoroughly enjoyed our drive and I live in hope that one day soon my lovely wife will take the wheel of the Mog for the first time! How can she resist driving this little beauty!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A Half-Term break with the family.

On the day following our 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration, we set off to Morland Hall in the village of Morland, about 9 miles south east of Penrith in Cumbria, with our two daughters and their families.
Our part of Morland Hall
We had rented a portion of this lovely building for three nights, to provide a base for enjoying what the English Lake District has to offer.
The view from our dining room and lounge.
The Hall is set in wonderful grounds which allowed our grandchildren the opportunity to forage for 'conkers' and acorns.
The first day was magical, total blue sky, a sharpness in the air and a clarity that enabled us to see every nook and cranny etched into the rock faces on the mountains, as we headed west to Keswick and Derwentwater.
Half the party in their boat, with 'Cat Bells' on the right.
Wonderful Autumn colours
My idea had always been to rent a couple of rowing boats and land on the island that had been used in the latest production of 'Swallows and Amazons'. However, due to the distance of St Hubert's island from the landing stages where we were to rent our boats, it proved unrealistic to travel in rowing boats so we hired two motor boats instead.
Opportunity for grandchildren to steer!
 What an hour we had! The lake was flat calm with an early mist rising from the water and the views were truly glorious.
It was followed by a visit to Keswick centre to stock up on provisions, a picnic and finally a drive back to Morland.
Crossing the ford in Morland

Doing what children do!
The next day dawned cloudy, but fortunately with no rain, as we drove to the landing stage at Pooley Bridge to catch the steamer across Ullswater to Glenridding.
Towards Howtown, our first stop on the trip across Ullswater.

Approaching Howtown.
Both Pooley Bridge and Glenridding had been hit very badly by the appalling floods that occurred some months ago. Pooley Bridge lost its beautiful, original, very old stone bridge, now replaced by a modern, less beautiful erection which at least allows the commercial interests in the village to be continued successfully. Glenridding is now undergoing major strengthening of river banks and of course the rebuilding of houses and hotels devastated by the floods.
'Lady of the Lake', our ship for the return journey.
Everyone dressed for the weather which was a little chilly

The 'Commander' captured by my granddaughter.
We travelled on the 'Western Belle', built in 1934 and the 'Lady of the Lake', built in 1877 and believed to be the oldest working ferry boat in the world.

The pictures tell the story of what was a thoroughly enjoyable few days with our lovely family.

No bread in the larder..... the need to drop my wife off for a hair appointment, provided an opportunity to wheel the Morgan out of the garage, on what was a classic, sunny Autumn day.
With the bread purchased and my wife deposited at the hairdresser, I pointed the car towards the sea and spent a very pleasant hour at Cleveleys, which lies between Blackpool in the south and Fleetwood to the north.
Lined up with all the 'Euro Blobs'!
The car is definitely motoring a lot better since the king-pins were replaced and the rear leaf springs were greased.
South, towards Blackpool.

North, across Morecambe Bay with 'Black Combe' above Barrow on the horizon. In the foreground is what I assume is a sculpture!
As we approach winter in the UK I just hope that we get many more days like this. I live in hope anyway!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

What dedication!!

You know how you have niggling things in the back of your mind.....well it was a bit like that for me, promising myself for weeks, even during various hospital confinements, to remove the wheels from the 4/4 to clean them.
Rain and signs of Autumn

Almost needless to say, the weather was wet on the day I chose to do the work but I was determined, regardless of any distraction to do the job.
Before and......
In any case it was something of a physical test for me and I am delighted to say that the old wracked body managed remarkably well, albeit slowly and with extreme care.

I must say that I cursed Life's, the dealers in Southport, when I tried to remove the front wheels that had been taken off and aligned during king-pin replacement and had been re-fitted extremely tightly. Eventually after a lot of hammering I got them off!
It took me around three hours which I didn't think was too long.....although it hardly matches Red Bull Racing's wheel changing achievements during Grand Prix pit stops!!!!

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Recce to the Lakes

During the next school half term and the day after Helen's and my 50th Wedding Anniversary party, we are off to the Lakes for 3 days with the whole family.

We'll all be under one roof and it is great to get together like this as our daughters live in Warwick and Camberley, so such opportunities are rare.

Anyway, as I am planning to hire rowing boats on one of the lakes in order to enact a landing by our grandchildren on an island emulating 'Swallows and Amazons', it provided just the opportunity to set forth in the Morgan to check our accommodation and investigate the boating scene.

The weather was scheduled to be excellent although cold, so it was definitely hood down and winter driving clothes on.
Coffee, with the morning mist rising from the River Eden in the background.
It would also be a useful opportunity to check out the car, following the replacement of the king-pins and to assess whether or not the annoying squeaking eminating from the rear end had been rectified.

We set off and headed north up the M6, with its variable road surfaces and the resultant variable noise levels, alternating from awful to extremely awful! Drivers in their tintops have no idea of the battering a top-down drivers' ears have to endure, cocooned as they are from the outside world.

Amid my constant criticism of the standards of driving nowadays, tailgating and totally ignoring speed limits through roadworks being just two examples, we arrived at junction 39 and headed through Shap village, a rather dour place even when the sun is shining, towards a right-hand junction that took us towards the River Eden valley.
The River Eden
After arriving in the delightful village of Morland and checking out the property my daughter had rented on our behalf we moved on to Penrith, some 8 miles away, where we did a similar check on the facilities for children at the Rheged Centre.
By the River Eamont
Our next port of call was Ullswater and specifically Glenridding, from where I had spent many a happy hour sailing my double-ended yawl in days gone by. No rowing boats for hire at the Sailing Centre and the only other place offered boats that looked like they wouldn't endure even a short voyage!
Looking towards Glenridding
Nothing for it but to head for Derwentwater where I knew that classic, traditional Lakeland rowing boats were available....real boats made out of wood and varnished. Trying to get to their base was utterly impossible due to the fact that we could't find a parking space on the car park and the number of people cluttering up the place was can tell that, as a couple of retired old fogeys, we prefer to travel mid-week to avoid the crowds!
Lunch stop en route from Ullswater to Derwentwater.
I decided that Derwentwater would seem to be the place for the proposed row and what is more, Herbert's Island, just a mile away from the landing stages is the island on which scenes from the latest 2016 version of 'Swallows and Amazons' were filmed. Clearly, depending on the prevailing weather conditions it's going to be a hefty row!!!!!

Homeward bound in the heavy traffic, I was pleased that we had had a successful reconnoitre and the car had performed admirably, not entirely quiet of course, it is a Morgan after all, but the annoying squeaks from the rear leaf springs had been cured.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

New King-Pins, Exeter and Devon....

....and another hospital visit!!

The drive back home after our new king-pins had been fitted was excellent and somehow the front end seemed more 'grounded'.....good for another 30000 methinks.

South the following day, to visit our daughters and their families in Warwick and Camberley and then on to Devon to revisit my father's parental home and places that we had not seen for many a year.
The Quayside at Exeter

Say no more! Cornish lager.
We decided to make Exeter our base, a city that we had never visited and what a lovely place it is.
Exeter Cathedral
First and most important day out was to Brixham where all my family on my father's side lived and sailed from, for in the main they all earned their living from the sea.
My Great Grandparent's home was to the right of the church, overlooking the top of the churchtower.

While there we tried to recreate a picture that I had taken when I was around 9 years old of me seated on the wall of the old fort on Berry Head looking out over Torbay. It was a reasonable attempt I suppose although the sight of this elderly gentleman trying to climb on to the wall and into position must have been pitiful to watch and highly amusing to the many bystanders!!!
.......and 64 years on  !!!!!!!
We had intended to wander around the town itself but the place was choked with people and traffic so we gave it a miss promising to return in the depths of winter when all the visitors had gone home.

Nevertheless, it was lovely to visit the place where I had spent so many happy sun-kissed holidays as a boy. I still remember vividly the church bells playing 'Abide with me' every evening.
Coleton Fishacre
In the morning of that day we visited the National Trust property of Coleton Fishacre on the recommendation of an old schoolfriend.
'Arts and Crafts' heaven at Coleton Fishacre.

Part of the garden
What a gorgeous property it is, once the holiday home of members of the D'Oyly Carte family with its 30 acre garden giving enticing views of the sea below.....utterly magical.

On our final day we visited Dartmoor, sadly shrouded in a heavy mist, limiting views of the landscape to a minimum but not affecting our visit to the butcher in Chagford who supplies us with our favourite Hogs Pudding....what a pleasure it was to meet him in this delightful village.

Castle Drogo, another NT property, was clad in scaffolding, cluttered with building machinery and a whopping great crane, that did not enhance the property at all while it is being dramatically renovated.
Castle Drogo in the murk!
Not impressed with the house at all although on a good day the views from the grounds across the Moor must be spectacular.
A misty Castle Drogo garden.
Back to the hotel where the slight pain that I had been feeling in my left side got steadily worse until late in the evening an ambulance was called and I added yet another hospital to my collection.

It was a re-occurence of the pleurisy I endured at Norwich in June. Anyway, I was only in for 10 hours and feeling much improved we completed our 5 hour drive home safely.

Not a nice way to finish what had been a very pleasant couple of days in Devon.