Sunday, 31 March 2013

Bloo's first wee trip and First Year comments..

April (2012) A birthday present to me .. from me!

(This was an entry I made on 'Talk Morgan' introducing the new car to the forum.)

Quite a day all told. Walking, car, plane, train, car again, boat then car. Lots of variety and numerous strange and wonderful faces! Just like being at flippin' work! Great fun.

Met the Morgan guys and took possession of the new car and watched as the sky opened and dumped, more or less, a month's average rainfall in their yard! Undeterred I headed off towards the motorway to the tune of Steve Wright & co on  radio 2 playing that old classic 'There's a feck-up on the M6 .. Stay at home Stay at home!' Barry Gibb had nothing on these guys!

So as I motored along in the new Plus4 feeling like I belonged, I was surprised when it dawned on me that the car felt right and was behaving impeccably for something I'd only ever experienced momentarily, and on one other occasion ie. another Morgan. I could talk about some of the little things that a new Morgan displays with panache ( leaks and bumps and a heater that blows hot air into your nether regions whether it's on or off etc) but these things are character not cataract. I will address them as and when and enjoy the process. I wasn't expecting to 'love' the car right out of the box - but in truth .. I did. Weird, but in a nice way. Even getting in and out (I'm not that big at 5-11 but it's still a puzzle with intricate moves one cannot rush ..) can be rewarding. Baked with heat and soaked in sweat one almost sighs 'managed again!' and smiles (then remembers the keys are in an inaccessible pocket!!!) Sorry - I digress.

On up the motorway to the glances and nods of complete strangers. You Morgan owners know all about this and I guess have become used to it .. but let us novices savour it for just a while. Got a lovely smile in a service area from a passing Tranny (and I do not mean a Ford Transit.) Thankfully the day had warmed up a little at that point and the cold shiver that coursed my spine was a welcome wake-up for the road ahead. Speaking of which, I've been m6'ing for many many years and it never fails to impress me how folks can work out where there are speed traps and where there aren't! A guy passed me and I'm fairly sure he was not actually touching the road! Class!

So off motorway and onto the A75. Car running exactly as I was told it should. Not a glitch nor waiver from any of the needles nor a sound from anything in any negative fashion - actually that's a guess. I think I was probably so deaf from the motorway Morganing that an elephant could have dropped through the roof and trumpeted the theme to StarWars and I'd have had to cup my ear. Like I said - character! Vive le caractère!

Again, a new experience which was surprisingly effective. Morgan lights from standard are quite good. I found that the light to the front assisted by the lights from the car behind shining through me and the cockpit lit the road ahead a treat! Sadly I couldn't see any of this as I was completely dazzled. Thankfully, after the rear admiral had explained to his passengers that the car ahead was a great British icon, and had pointed out the various features of interest, he dipped his lights. Back to enjoying the vibe then.

The wee car handles lovely and feels great. Driving at night has always been a pleasure for me. I guess it's less traffic or some such. Cars seem to go better at night! Anyway .. almost at the boat and guess what??? They've only gone and moved Cairnryan terminal! In fairness the original is still there and operating as before - however Stena (other crossings are available!) have opened their new spot a few miles up the road. Odd comment you might think! What's the problem there Mark? Well .. it's very simple. The only needle to have moved significantly throughout the day has been the one which reads 'Gimme gas!! Gimme Gas!! So the fact that this needle has now completely retired and gone to sleep horizontally .. I'm curious to know how on earth the engine is still making that humming noise and the scenery is still flashing past in the desired direction! Frugal yes .. but this is bonkers!

In through the terminal gate and I'm greeted by two yellow coats who are admiring the car and (in the absence of a boot) want to look under the bonnet. I guess there's a knack to opening that! I promised them that if I ever did get it open I'd send a photo. They were lovely folks and waved me on. Morgan 1 - Mark nil!

I could talk about the crossing all night. It's only two hours but when you're surrounded by every bronchial case in the uk all trying to out-do one another, then believe me, you were better off where ever you were.
Off on home turf and down the road where I actually know the bumps and where to avoid them. Did it make a blind bit of difference?? More character!

So the run home was reasonably uneventful - well apart from the heavy rain, hailstones, 15 mile tailback on the M6 and a van on the motorway who wanted to try on the Morgan as a second skin (or genuinely didn't see it until the very last minute and decided against copulation.) Almost squished at the first hurdle! All good fun.

Arrived at the house 0200hrs and the car got its first look at its new abode. Slotted in the corner as cleared and prepared, it looked almost organic (no guys - it really looked like it grew there! No s' and that's an n'!) I guess it was happy enough as it was still there this morning and started first kick!

Today was spent catching up on all the stuff I didn't do yesterday because I'd rather go get cars than go do chores. Having said that, I managed a shot or two and I'll see if I can load them on.

If you're still reading this - thanks for hanging in there. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday and I feel I'm going to really love this car. 

Loving the Car!

From a number of 'Posts' on 'Talk Morgan' - a forum for Morgan Car enthusiasts, I was asked by Mog Mag (a Morgan Car magazine) if I was interested in writing a little about a trip I'd made on holiday with Bloo' in June 2012 when the car was a couple of months old. The correspondence was thus in reply to the request:

Bloo' takes a break.

For a long time it seems I've had a thing for the near-continent and all things Froglitaire. The scenery and pace of life are only part of it. As a keen motorcyclist of numerous injuries (documented and anonymous) I've coursed French and Italian, Swiss and Belgian, Spanish, Dutch, Austrian and German roads for years.  This has always been by motorcycle  - but this year, a year in which I turned fifty-one and felt-seventy eight, I decided that I would do it in my car. My usual venue for these holidays is a Gete in the Haute Savoie region of the French Alps close to the Switzerland and Italy borders. The mountain roads in this area are the most beautiful and peaceful setting for an uncongested and timeless visage of country life and rhythm. My Morgan Plus 4 fitted in as seamlessly as would have any spoke wheeled classic from between the wars. Never has 2012 in Dark blue looked so at home in ancient greens and mountain blooms - you just have to love it!

Hi Claire,
I've read the mags so far and I wonder how formal you'd like a piece for consideration. I've a tendency to humour-ise   things .. but I promise not to if you just want a straight article for consideration. You've a mixed bag of readers and I guess that's hard to pitch at times so .. all guidance gratefully received.

Roughly what sort of word count and how many pics would you like. I can send a number (unpublished etc anywhere else) if you want to peruse and make your own selection.

The trip was 16 days, starting with the bonkers weather and a Tug assisting the ferry to turn around on the quay in Belfast harbour as it was too windy to control the vessel under it's own power, and finishing with a fabulous sunny 37dg run home from Manigod, roofless and baking, right to the point where the UK seemed split across the midlands with blue sky and a heavy band of cloud dropping tons of water almost like a curtain one drives straight into!

The journey just to the Gete was close to 1100 miles undertaken with one overnight out and one back. The days between were spent visiting points of interest both local and far flung. Some days were as little as sixty or seventy miles, some closer to two hundred.

Subjects of interest will be firstly the car and its character and the interest it seems to get no matter where it goes. Also the visits made including Annecy Du Lac and the castle of Saint Bernard, street markets in mountain villages near Mageve and a classic car event the police wanted to usher us into with the car as they liked the look of it! Playing with the traffic in Geneva might also be a worthy mention as it's changed so much from my previous visits etc.

Each day was something new with the car as opposed to the bike and as ever - the Morgan was what made it so idyllic.

I realise word counts are important so you can let me know what you had in mind.

( article will follow..  later in blog)

First wee trip out today with Bloo'

We had been trying to shuffle life around in order to attend a classic car event at The Argory near Moy today as we'd been very kindly informed by David (Lightspere) that some Morgans were planning to attend and that we'd be welcome. Commitments made this look impossible so I had said that we'd not make it and resigned ourselves at the loss of opportunity to meet some of the names and faces of Morganeers in Norn-Iron and, in particular, those off the Talk Morgan forum.

A change in circumstances late last night meant that Saturday was now going to be slightly less booked and although it was too late to register the car for the event, we thought we'd go and have a look and maybe track down 'fleet Morgan.'

The day outside looked cloudy but promising so we dropped the top and headed off south. The run across from home to the venue (around 45 miles) is not only direct, but almost all either A' roads or motorway. We decided to take the back roads and (horse manure and cow deposits aside) hopefully they wouldn't be impassable due to muck and keek.

What an amazingly pleasant surprise! Not only were the roads clean and free from traffic but bone dry and sunny with only the slightest cross breeze. Thoroughly enjoyable roads with reasonable surfaces even with my undulation detectors set to 'bounce!'  

On a day where there are car events on in several areas in such a small country, you cannot help but encounter from time to time various clubs or singles heading to their various ports and quarters and today .. almost all of the mks were represented. Of particular interest was a line of Citroen Dolly cars enroute which generally are singular and few and far between here. These and many other older objects of desire were running rampant in the sunshine!

Maybe fifteen miles short of our destination and close to another Natural Park area we could see ahead of us a Morgan, first one of the day! A light coloured Three Wheeler which, for the moment appeared to heading the same way as ourselves. It continued off toward Oxford Island and the motorcycle event there. I'm not sure if it then later came to Argory but sadly I didn't see it again (We'd have liked a photo) - so if it was you today then Hello' and your Morgan looks lovely on the road. Many happy miles!

Once at Argory there were cars of all shapes and sizes. Sadly one mk1 Escort didn't make it as it was burned out at the side of the entrance and two dudes looking fairly dejected about the whole scenario. Looked like an engine fire. Queuing for long periods in these older cars is hazardous at the best of times.    We nodded and went on in.

Arriving as we did already after lunchtime the event was long up and running. We parked in the visitors car park and very quickly closed the easy-up hood. When I say in reference to the hood 'very quickly' what I mean is that it all happened within today's date as opposed to over a long weekend. This is the second time the hood has been up and it is still so new that despite how many times I jumped up and down on it .. it still refused to play ball. Various adjustments aside - we managed to get it to close. A couple of young mothers with picnics and kids at the boot of their car probably though we were part of the entertainment. (Note to self!! Make a large banner saying 'Krypton Factor' for such occasions!')  Eventually it was done and so were we!

A wonderful spread of yester-year adorned the stands and various gardens of the Argory grounds. As always there were interesting things to see and unusual vehicles which sprung from the imagination. Some restored to better than new and some, so changed from what was originally intended, that they were interesting for their own sake.

We tracked the Morgans to a scenic corner where David was 'minding the shop' and chatting to on-lookers. Four Mogs in that spot and a further two I think, a couple of rows back up the hill. One very distinctive reg no. (You'll know who you were - lovely car) and another I think closer to the hedge. Later a Red 8 was at the top of the hill and then Bloo' down in the car park making eight at least in attendance. 

We spoke to David who introduced us to the folks. We had a good chat about the event and the various cars. Then we went for coffee and heard about some of the events they as a group have attended. We look forward also to getting to events as and when we can. A common theme emerged that the car is a very important part but also that the community feeling and the camaraderie of like-minds and social interaction is what compliments the whole essence of ownership.

Today was a great day for a first outing with Bloo' and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The run, the pace and the weather, the car and the scenery and all of the things that make a good run great - were complimented by the pleasant social event and the company.

Thanks guys for making us feel welcome and at home. We look forward to Morgan-ing and are enjoying the whole experience.



This article went to the magazine but obviously they had to  edit it down for print space etc.
 As requested - here is the unedited version. Some pictures accompanied for inclusion etc.

Bloo' takes a break!

Packing for any kind of holiday can be a spiral of emotions. You hope that the spiral is ascending - but that isn't always the case. Sometimes things are fine until you encounter your first hurdle .. more often than not it's well into the holiday. I guess I was mulling these and other thoughts as we watched the time tick slowly by waiting on board the ferry for a Tug to come and turn the ship around as due to the high winds, it was unable to manoeuvre under its own power in Belfast harbour. 10 miles from home and 1103 to go. So far so good!

The hour delay wasn't going to inconvenience us too much provided the road works on the M6 were light. I obviously now realise light road works on M6 is a ridiculous fantasy and I apologise to all here and now for even considering it to be a possibility. As we slogged through them my spiral was still in dip-mode. Up ahead was the purple translucence of a sky full of rain and behind us .. more of the same.   Funny how your mind cycles through a rolodex of memories and continually flags up motorcycle trips which are strangely always free from queues! The wet weather never seems to be a problem on the way out to your destination. As I watched the three wipers arc across the screen and the cars in front blend in and out of view in the spray - all of a sudden I was glad to be in the Morgan. Nothing to do with the weather, nothing to do with the queues of traffic and nothing to do with being on holiday .. just a feeling of having made the right choice. Perhaps I should explain.

Since my first trip to the continent in 1985 I have always tried to visit as often as I can. I've managed maybe 12 or 15 holidays there and, as long as I can fund it, I'll continue. Always it's been by motorcycle.  Mostly I travelled solo however, on reaching my destination, I would hook up with others for varying periods and trips. In 2007 I single-handedly demolished and Alp (and a new bike) and so a break was enforced in the holiday schedule. It was the first time for my girlfriend Karen travelling to the continent on her own bike and sadly (though fortunately for me) she witnessed the crash and aftermath in the darkness of a Chamonix midnight. At least it was dry!

Early this year while looking through the websites for the place we favour in Haute Savoie it transpired that our favourite Gite was free for two weeks mid to end June. We booked and that was 'mission-on' for holidays 2012.

I'd been planning on a Morgan +4 from January 2011 and by April of this year I'd been to Williams Automobiles and Henry had talked me through the launch procedure and pointed me towards the rain soaked 16 mile tail backs on the M6 so wonderfully advertised on that day by Steve Wright in the afternoon! (Talk Morgan posts refer!)

So two months later, once again trailing the mush and splatter of a summer June M6 - my epiphany wasn't quite so much 'a beam of light,'  more an ascending spiral!

We had asked locals on Talk Morgan to recommend accommodation in the Dover area where we could access the ferry quickly on the Saturday morning. A couple of suggestions were fully booked but Karen managed to find us a great B&B in Hythe. Mog parking, a sea view and a whole upstairs suite! Next morning and another delayed sailing saw us, at last,  heading for Calais and all things Froglataire. There seemed also to be some sort of bright shining thing in the sky. More about that later.

                                            Great overnight accommodation close to Dover

                                      Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much room but a very nice change!

A run through the tolls of France from any direction looks quite similar unless you're in a coach or HGV which can see over the side rails or cuttings. The scenery you begin to relish and admire sometimes comes down to the startling array of vehicles which  your fellow travellers smile out from as a Bloo' passes by. I hope I never get used to that. There's something about a Morgan that just makes people smile. Bliss! There's also something about a Morgan that makes them laugh as they watch Karen trying to reach even the lower toll ticket machine slots from the car. It passed the journey wonderfully.

At the start of the journey there was around 1200 miles on the Morgan. As we arrived at the Gite in Manigod, Thones it was  already over 2300. The car felt great and even the sports seats hadn't presented any sort of issue. I'd expected them to be uncomfortable over such a distance. I'm a bit of an Iron-Butt from biking for so long but I found the Morgan seats were excellent. We stopped probably every 150 miles for either fuel or food or calls of nature and spent less than 20 mins at each stop. I've traveled in other cars that would have had folks screaming for a more substantial leg stretch or break. It all seemed to work really well. My spiral continued it's upward trend!

Looking out from the window of the Gite on the first morning with the mountains so lush and green, their peaks still white from a snowfall just 6 days previous, I noticed a small smutty blemish on the vista. What seemed like an inch of deceased bug-life suicidally exocetted  against Bloo's front wings and grill changed the Bloo' to brown/ red! As these things demand - the first activity of the holiday was already mapped out! Euros in hand we set off to the wash bays.

Haute Savoie region is very picturesque even by French standards. It's mainly a ski area and in summer is very quiet. Not being over toured in summer means that the roads are perfect for bikes and cars of an 'enthusiast' nature - a fact not lost on the locals. This area plays host to some fabulous events from classic to off-road and a whole raft of other sports - air/ land and water based. The 1000 bends rally attracts many minor clubs eventing along-side, prior or after, and some of the rare and exotic cars and bikes pass by like a scene from 'The Great Race.' I fell in love with the place years ago and from here both Italy and Switzerland are very close neighbours accessible by spectacular passes and tunnels bringing an endless treasure trove of winding beautifully scenic peaceful roads.

I had wondered how I'd feel with the Morgan in this scene as opposed to the freedom of the bike. Two wheels in the Alps is such a great feeling because it doesn't really matter to us that we are on the 'wrong side of the road.' A bike is a bike is a bike etc. Once you get your head around the traffic coming at you from the left side of vision - well the bike reverts to being what it always was. The car is a little different. Sitting on the wrong side of the car when needing to over-take or when there's traffic would, at the outset, seem fraught with danger. Surprisingly enough it was just something that I got used to very quickly. The fact the Morgan was lower than most cars and smaller actually played to benefit a number of what might have been problems. Firstly, and most importantly, you're in a narrow car which can 'front' the white line similarly to a motorcycle. In other words you, as the driver on the wrong side, are closer to the 'view-point' simply because the car is a narrower entity. The previous time I'd driven a car on the continent was a hire Mercedes in 03 and obviously it was left hand drive so my only RHD experience was an Artic Tri-axle in the late eighties with a 45ft trailer.  Folks tend to give you room in that set-up. On bikes these things are fairly irrelevant. As it turned out - the RHD Morgan experience was not diminished in any way at all.

To list our visits and points of interest in Haute Savoie, Italy and Switzerland would take literally two weeks so I'll mention just one more that high-lighted both the Morgan and Morganeers to me.

On the Saturday morning after our traditional call at Col-de-Aravis for Blueberry Pie (other pies are available!!) we headed for the Martingy Pass and generally Switzerland. Stopping briefly in Mageve for fuel my attention was hailed by an approaching chap who introduced himself as John. 'I feel I should be in my own Morgan!' was his greeting. John was staying with his family who owned holiday accommodation in Mageve and was from Kent. He had a Rover engined Morgan and was, on sight of Bloo', missing his car. He told us of an event the following morning right there in Mageve which was sponsored by BMW and was for Classics etc. We thanked him and said that we'd check it out, which we did, and found it to be well represented by Morgan/ Porsche and numerous other Marques. John and family were there already.  A great photo opportunity but more importantly, the event was sponsored by BMW who actually send support cars with the event which calls in various show-places around the Haute Savoie area and from Mageve was headed on to Grindlewald. That is a fairly long jaunt for cars of a certain age and it was nice to see that a back-up was in place should it be needed.

There were a lot of 911 Porsches also and Alpines and other French and Italian exotica - but it was interesting to see so much British stuff so well kept.

Leaving Mageve toward Sallances that day we encountered a bad motorcycle accident, made more poignant as we were on our way to the last resting place of my two month old Harley Davidson to tick a box I needed to tick for 5 years. I expected to feel something for the time and place but as it's a four day gap in my memory, there was nothing - for Karen though, unexpectedly acute,  it was a dark moment in an otherwise wonderful holiday.

In the two weeks and counting the round trip, it was a reduced mileage from the motorcycle trips. In total 3,500 miles or just over. The bright shining object in the sky stayed with us for most of the holiday but sadly remained there when we came home. Maybe we'll have one of those Indian Summer's they talk about .. or a Saturn or Venus one!!

Would I take the Morgan again? Would I prefer it to the bike? I really don't think I could qualify any preference that was solely vehicle related. I would love to take the Morgan again and I'm sure I will. I'll also, at some point take a bike again. I've encountered so many Morgan folks now who, like myself, have bikes also. I would say this to them. A bike holiday is such a freedom release. I can think of times when to be part of a bike as you travel certain roads is almost a union of mind and metal.  Motorcycles are as much about heart as they are about any other feeling. They can be a very singular thing even with a pillion. You spend a lot of time in your own head. The Morgan for me, was different in that I could more easily share the experience of the road and the scenery with Karen as it was happening. We could communicate and appreciate and to do it in a car you feel part of is such a rare thing. I loved the Morgan and I loved the feel of the roads from behind the wheel. If I come across as a bit of a car novice then I apologize  I was enthused and was so pleased I'd chosen the Plus 4. I've owned and driven 911s since I was 26 which is exactly half a life time ago. Feeling part of the car is not new to me. The Morgan was a different feel, a more classical feel. Sadly we can't have Spitfires doing barrel rolls everywhere we go - but the Morgan on an Alpine pass is the next best thing.


Bloo' and a big Hole!

The collection of Mogs and enthusiasts we'd encountered both on the website and at the Argory in Armagh had mentioned 'monthly jaunts' to 'points of interest' around the Province and beyond. A short time later I agreed to attend one of these gatherings and thus, complete with the picnic hamper on the back rack, we headed off to the meeting point for the day. This was to be the Titanic Quarter located at Harland & Wolff Shipyard Belfast. In total eight Morgans were in attendance but one of the troop had to leave early. Even so, seven Morgan classics lined up (by special permission) across the front of the old Pumping House looked very 'Classic' indeed!

The Titanic Quarter gets enough press without me going into too much detail here. Suffice to say the Morgan car looks very much at home whether it's in the derelict areas or the developed landscape that we currently see in tv coverage. For me, on the day, one of the amazing parts of the visit was the rather large 'hole' or 'dry-dock' which was the site of the Titanic build. Thoughts of my own sailing boat placed in the centre of the dock seemed comical at around 32 feet - but it was then that it occurred to me that Titanic's lifeboats (though now known to be too few in number) were a lot bigger than my boat which seems enormous when we're cleaning the fecker! I'd love to have scorched Bloo' around the floor of the dry  dock for a while .. but it seemed like an impertinence in the face of the mood of the morning!

The pumping house was similar in it's awesome capabilities in that it could empty said dock in minutes! Think of your bath emptying and then multiply that by at least a couple of times ..... a gabrillion! You'll notice some hand-wheels (valve openers) for operating the flow. These small wheels were about 15 to 20 inches across.

Once we'd had the tour and then watched some very old, and frankly brilliant, footage of things long gone in the shipyard, it was time to make tracks to our second venue of the day. Seven Morgans like little ducks in a row was seemingly apt - considering we were off to a bit of a duck-roost! Please notice I said 'roost' and not 'roast.'

On a morning such as it was, it was wonderful to see the cars glinting along the road in the sun. Vehicles coming the other way seemed enthused by the passing classic collection. I guess that folks still appreciate seeing something which has become a controversy every time we are unfortunate enough to have to visit that other voluminous pump - yes the one with the green hose and trigger with those funny little digital figures that reach numbers you only thought possible at Cape Canaveral. If you're in a car, bike, boat or anything else running on combustion from fuels, you'll sadly realise that running your petrol lawnmower these days is more expensive than running your first car! Anyway .. back to the ducks!

Bird sanctuaries in general are peaceful places. Our lovely feathered friends wander and waddle around feeling little or no threat no matter how big the lens on Dave's camera is. (A special word of thanks to Dave for organising and making the day something worth remembering - Thanks Dave.) The folks at Castle Espie have the place looking really well. From the contractors right to the most important of all .. the volunteers - very well done! The sanctuary is a pleasure to visit and to be around. Once again the small Morgan fleet looked right at home.

In the late afternoon it was off to Scrabo Golf Club for tea and medals. The food there is always great and the views from the restaurant are legend. Strangford lough is spectacular by any measure, but seen from almost small aircraft height, and looking down the un-rolled carped of 'little hills' (Ards) .. then the ancient likeness is revealed. It has long been said that the landscape of this part of county Down looks like a basket of eggs. (If my wee Nana was here today she would smile at that.) I guess our modern roads and carriageways take the traveller through so efficiently that most of the legend is lost - but for me it lives on.

This is a photo of Scrabo tower taken from my kitchen doorstep. The Golf Club is just behind the tower from here on the next little hill (Ard.)

It was a great day out and great to see the cars in the sun. Sometimes we spend so much time in our own locale that it's beauty is too familiar to us and we just get on with things. Motorbikes and Morgans seem to put you right 'in the frame.' I really love that!

Bloo' at the Seaside!

Rowallane  is a beautiful country garden estate in County Down. Just the perfect gathering point to meet of a Sunday morning and say hello to the Morgan group assembled for a wee trundle down to the seaside in one of County Down's more famous holiday towns - Newcastle.

The now familiar to me sight of curved Morgan wings or fenders moving through the bends as trees and passing colours reflect and change never gets tired. I could watch that all day long. As ever open topped and part of the scenery, Morgans just work! I've yet to find a road where they don't seem to fit.  On this occasion one of our number is in a new car and it too, though different from the rest, fits so aesthetically that it is unmistakably true to the Morgan marque. The fact that it has 'wind-up' windows shouldn't be berated too much as, I'm told, others have gone electric!!!!!!!!

So off we go through villages and towns hopefully (though in places quite obviously) bringing a smile or nod and occasional wave from folks we meet along the way. Ain't Morganising fun!

On arriving into the busy Sunday fare of a seaside town one always finds a haven for the 'petrol-head' and all it's accoutrements. A short promenade walk saw many variants of personal taste in motorcycles strewn along the gaps and parking bays and other roadside gems like Subs and Evos as well as the many classics and customised offerings the sunshine hails. NornIron is a diverse and cultural  carnival of all and every naming but our enthusiasm for petrol related extravagance to and beyond our own limitations is both inventive and unique. If there's one thing we do particularly well - it's chaos!

A late arrival at the Percy French restaurant met with us and we admired his new Three Wheeler. I think this one was the first I'd seen up close and I was very taken by its lines and functionality.  A truly wonderful machine!

The food and company was, as ever, brilliant. Such a great bunch of folks all united in a common interest. Maybe we should bring a single out at Christmas!

Again the weather was kind-ish and the run back home was a relaxed and enjoyable affair.

Big thanks to the organisers and it's a pleasure to spend time in your company.

Bloo' at the big House!

The meeting place again, fortunate for us, was very local. The 'Mill' is a place of long and chequered history. My earliest memories of it are from the 60's. In those days it was a long low building with a two storey part recessed near one end with a massive wooden water-wheel which, I would think, provided the power to the 'mill.' In those days the mill wasn't running and the place was, again I think, a kennels boarding centre. It swapped and hurdled around for a time between cafe, derelict, business and/ or garage and generally lived, as these housings do, by whatever was required at the time.

Somewhere along the line someone with a vision, quite probably a 'petrol-head' or at least 'car enthusiast', took the notion to turn it into a restaurant/ cafe, and in the so-doing, gave one of the rooms a theme somewhat forgotten by the locale. The theme is, though not over-stated, the Ards T.T. - a sadly discontinued Road Race event around a triangular circuit between and through Ards, Dundonald and Comber Co. Down. From early in the 20th century this race was a well known and prestigious event valued by those in the know' and sport. Sadly it has been 'overtaken' by the crap and circumstance that floods our daily lives in the curious visage of, amongst others, Health & Safety. Yes the race was competitive, and yes, by the looks of the photos, it was dangerous. (Go on - google it! You know you're going to anyway!) I think those are vital ingredients in most racing if sensibly managed!

So anyway, the Morgans, once again in a 'situation of local history, looked every bit the 'between the wars' spectacle they always do. In particular a Morgan Three Wheeler was very in character against the red of the Water Wheel on the side of the old Mill. Almost picture postcard.

Breakfast, or just coffee for some, was executed and once again the merry little band was off into the backdrop of the peninsula in all its glory. The threat of rain disappeared quite quickly (that is to say it ceased being a threat and became a reality - just ask the Three Wheeler!) but didn't really amount to much of a shower.

The road to Portaferry from Ards, though never part of the TT circuit, is a very good road for drivers of classic vehicles. Lots of nice bends and most of the time, in most of the places, the surface is grand. To be brutally honest, if there's maybe one slight blemish, it's the constant mind numbing bicycles that use it as a time trial and are forever holding traffic at a pedestrian pace. There's room for both cars and bikes on the road but sadly sense has given way to attitude this many years and in true NornIron fashion, if you can inconvenience someone else for no reason at all, then that's more or less the way to go! Generally the bicycles manage to take up more room than your average HGV and I say God bless em! If life for them is that mundane then who am I to stand in the way of such determination. Maybe on the day we just hit it lucky. Few cycles and fresh roof down conditions. Spits and spots but nowt to cry about.

                                            The Red Morgan 3 Wheeler - An absolute stunner. 

As ever the passing Morgans got admiring looks and waves, smiles and hopefully for some, reminiscence of   days gone by on that road. I always feel that spoked wheels trigger the memory of yesteryear. Maybe it's just me - but I doubt it.

The ferry from Portaferry to Strangford is a busy crossing but again, on that morning, we waited a very short time and crossed all in one small group. Fellow travellers on the short crossing admired the cars and commented here and there pleasantly and enthusiastically. Once across it was a short run to the afternoon venue at Castle Ward.

                                                                     Reprobates 'R us!

Again it had been arranged for the cars to access the grounds and park right at the side of the main building. This attracted many folks while on their tour of the place and once again the Marque fitted into the surrounds wonderfully.

A great day was had and for two of the group in particular, two very large cheese burgers were dispatched without even touching the sides! A great day out and again wonderfully organised (thanks again for that) the whole event was one of the things which makes the car so much fun to own and drive.
A lovely run up the inner coast side back to Ards finished off a wonderful day.

Bloo' goes back in time!

Bit of a new twist to the Morgan gatherings as we are joined by some of our Southern counterparts! Excellent to see folks come up north and join in .. but this was for a very special Morgan day. Without the slightest hint of Michael J Fox or his intrepid  De Loren we all managed to shed a few years and enjoy a historic treasure trove which any car enthusiast would appreciate is a very rare collection.

Again the wonderful collage of Morgandom joining the Sunday traffic and travelling to our destination with that 'sense of occasion' which simply driving the car brings. What a relaxed and wonderful way to enjoy the day. Marvellous!

The assembled group of cars ranged across this century stretching far into the last - and that was just us folks going to the venue! People and their love for the car can amaze by the dedication they show. On numerous encounters with folks on the day when quizzed about their own vehicle they were able to inform and delight with little gems of knowledge that only an enthusiast would remember or even explore! Love em' all!

                                                       Merry motoring to the venue.

                                                 An enthusiasts car park if ever there was one!

                                                          A very beautiful FlatRad Morgan. 

                                                                        Anticipation etc.

The venue was a beautiful traditional accommodation close to the city with exhibits spanning from Titanic times to modern day. Two items of particular interest to me were an old favourite marque Porsche Tractor and an old Jaguar which was  very 'Jeeves & Wooster' era. I may, at some future time, seek permission to disclosure a bit more detail of two other vehicles - but for the moment, this blog is about my outings with the car and I'll let other peoples' privacy remain intact. Suffice to say it was a very special day and those of you who were there will remember it for what it was.

                                  That's actually a vintage Porsche Tractor over there in the corner.

Just a very few photos of a collection which ranged from Classic scaled Pedal Cars to SS Jaguars and Aston Martins and any number of exotica. A very very special day.

Again the weather wasn't too cruel. A few drips and drops and the occasional dark cloud did nothing to take from the day and I hope our Southern friends had a nice return journey. I look forward to seeing them again sometime soon.   

To the organiser of this particular day I would extend gratitude for being included and I felt and still feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Wee run out!

On Monday 18th March we took Bloo' a wee run out to Williams Automobiles. It was a fairly average looking day weather-wise so I supposed that the hood would stay up in place for at least part of the journey. As it turned out I was quite correct.

The run down was uneventful if you don't count the rain and snow, but arriving down into the sunshine of Totteroak Courtyard I was pleased to see many variants of the Morgan Marque sitting ready for the wandering eye. In particular was a stunning Plus 8 which was actually the very first I'd seen at such close quarters. A spectacular car by any standards, but among such other wonderful contraptions it looked quite the centrepiece.  Strange it was then that my eye was drawn to the lovely little black Classic with steel wheels and chrome hubs sitting modestly in the background.  Sometimes the simplicity of a Morgan says so much.

The Three Wheelers will always draw me and I wonder if, at some future point, I will grab one for a few years. I love my Plus 4 and hope to have many years more adventures with it - but an M3W looks so unique that, as I said, it draws me in every time! Henry and the folks down there have a super selection just now and I was able to contrast M3Ws in different colours.

There have been a few changes at the Courtyard since my last visit to pick up Bloo' and the guys took the time to show us around the place and the race car. That was a great experience and, while they were attending to Bloo' we got treated like friends. Brilliant!

If all of this sounds like a normal trip to the dealership - then I would say that for us, there is no normality in it. Our wee run to Williams was a round trip of 939 miles including a ferry crossing and some 'weather.' We loved every minute of it. Some of our forum Dudes travel a lot further - but for you folks who are fortunate enough to have dealerships at hand and can scoot over on a whim, I feel you are very fortunate. For us and Bloo' it was a great three days and, even with the 'weather,'   a pleasurable event.

We stayed in Tetbury on the first night and Saltburn-by-the-sea on the second. Both accommodations were complimentary on Bloo' and as always, people seem to smile when they see the car - but the best comment was on the ferry when the guy in the people carrier in front came to tell me that his eight yr old son had told him 'Daddy that's a Morgan!' Northern Ireland kids aren't seeing these cars very often. Brilliant!

Bloo' among the tulips!

A great day out on Sunday 7th March 13 with the PaddyMog dudes and dudettes! Probably the last run for Bloo' before the last day of first year! What a finish!

We got up reasonably early (just before 7am) and got on our way around 8am on a chilled, but sunny with scattered cloud morning. The run from home to Howth, Dublin was around 120 miles (though coming home was a slight detour through the mountains at 130 miles) and even more pleasant after such a brilliant day.

The group having the event were based around the Dublin area and a Classic Car' run was the main part of the day with a 'Tulip map' navigation aspect and Lunch in the Yacht club. Oh .. did I mention that there was morning tea in a Castle! Fabulous! (Eec-tu-ally one should probably say Caa-ssell' dear thing. Absolutely fe-bu-loss!)

I imagine the castle weren't quite expecting the hoard that descended on them and some of the outdoor shots of the parking tell a tale of yester-year by varying degrees. Our Morgan host was fairly wise to the numbers and the venue, and had managed to get us there first! As ever, there were already prior arrangements for parking and we actually got right to the door and a prime spot for the Morgans. When we parked initially there was just ourselves at 6 Morgan classics, but on returning to the cars after tea past an enormous queue at the coffee counter - we saw many of the classic cars strewn wonderfully along the drive and avenue like some scene from an old movie. Amazing! Lots of day trippers wandering around taking photos etc and a very pleasant scene of chrome and brightly painted bodywork.

The run to the Castle and back to the Marina was around 60 miles of little roads circuitous to that North Dublin locale and most of them, to me, brand new. I loved them. Occasionally there were groups of people at the sides of the roads who waved vigorously and seemed very glad to see us. They were seemingly there for a cycle event also being held in a part of the circuit - but in truth I think someone leaked that there were Morgans at large and .. well .. folks just love a Morgan!
A great gathering for the lunch then finished off the event in a beautiful setting. The yacht club and classic cars seemed very fitting and some of the cars on the day would certainly have looked well placed along a Monaco seafront.

Our run back home was, for us, a fitting end to a great day. We met lots of new folks, Peter and Mary, Alain and Corrine, and of course Nick to name just a few. Thanks folks for your welcome and your enthusiastic friendship. We had a wonderful day and hope to see all of you again soon.


For the Marque spotters here's some photos. Please remember this was a run - not a static display.

Bloo' on Second year.

The magic continues and the car is every bit as lovely as the first year. Again we took a few weeks on the continent in the sun. Such a pleasure to have the weather to enjoy the roads and the roof down. I guess Bloo's spends most of the time with the roof down - but in the heat of France and Italy it just seems so right.

The Morgan group continued as before and the meetings saw various changes of vehicle and new faces. Argory, second time around was a treat as this time we were in the thick of it with the car. All around the wonderful cars of marques so rarely now seen. People telling stories about their cars and cars they once owned. I love all of it. Argory 3 is literally a couple of weeks away. Can't wait.

This year we probably won't holiday on the continent. Certainly not in the Morgan at least. A few jaunts have been discussed and we are hoping to take in some nearer locations while my work pressures keep me anchored. Perhaps even a bike trip or two just to keep in the petrol-head motif before we are either legislated off the roads or prohibited by fuel and legal costs. There is no doubt that motoring as a holiday choice is becoming less popular for a raft of reasons.

Still loving the car - actually more than ever!

Ozzy pulls a master-stroke 10 days before we're off for the second trip to France!!! Smashed to bits and full of pins and plates and feck' knows what all. Timing and a lack of shame are among his strengths!

 Seeking sympathy as only he knows how! Little soldier. Having said that, there was never a whimper.

Back in the French countryside for 2013. Fewer dramas with ferries but tiring all the same. It's a long haul just to get to Haute Savoie - fortunately on great roads through great scenes.

Different accommodation. Same place (across the road) - but bigger and even more beautiful.

Love the lake - Annecy du Lac and river through city.

New accom. Fabulous!

Bloo' turns 10 grand on way home!

Last sighting on M6 on way home of the large orange dot! Back in Norn Iron some miles later - it was as if it had never shone.

Weirdly enough I had balloon raced once before! These were on the morning coming home and were just outside Annecy town quite early am.

 All in all a great holiday and a great run out for the car. I found a local garage to do the 'greasing of the necessaries' and the whole trip was a pleasure. I will return to the Alps in due course.

Argory 2

The rest of the year was Morgan'd in various guises from Argory 2 through to Christmas lunch and beyond to the coming Argory 3.

Bloo' does the celebrity thing' The green Mog seen here is the one from the restoration show on Sky with Mike & Ed. Car looks lovely and new owner seems to like it.

A Day in the Mournes.

                                                             4 Morgans just chatting.

Goodness is it Argory 3??? 

Where do the years go?

So the third visit to Argory coincides with Bloo's 2nd birthday or there abouts. Two years donw the line the car continues to please. It's been to the continent twice and attended most of the Morgan Owner's Northern Ireland events. refers.

This year's calender looks great so with Argory being the first in the line, some more pics will no doubt appear.