Spirituality ~ Health And Fitness


Nutritional Science today is at about where surgery was in 1614.

Giving anyone dietary advice is like firmly predicting the winning numbers on the lottery.  That’s just what I’m going to do, bearing in mind that spirituality has a calming effect on the mind and invigorates the body.

Do not take drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol to excess, (if you drink every day you have a drink problem, trust me, I’ve been there, in spades).  Do not eat processed foods, and that includes factory-made white bread.  Avoid sugar-rich foods ~ cutting out processed food will help there.  Avoid fats except for butter and avoid oils except for olive oil.  Do not eat take-out food.  Buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself ~ cooking helps to strengthen your connection to your core.  Don’t buy a cookbook unless you like books ~ there are plenty of recipes available for free on the internet.  If you can’t cook, learn one healthy dish and work up from there.  Look into diets for healthy eating and find one that feels right for you ~ start with the Paleo Diet.

All physical activity begins with the body’s core.  I maintain the strength in my core so that I can jump, run, start, stop, and accelerate at the highest levels. ~ Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose plays at point guard for the Chicago Bulls.  His salary is about $18million per annum.  He looks pretty fit and healthy to me, but then he has a targeted exercise regime.

The most important type of exercise to improve your overall health and fitness is to take a long walk.  Walking is the defining movement of human beings ~ it’s one of the things which differentiates humans from all of the other apes.  The human has evolved into a walking animal over millions of years, and now our bodies are specifically designed to walk.

You may want to take more intense bursts of physical activity, the gym, sports, one of the yoga or dance based classes, and that’s fine.  But it does not make up for walking, especially it doesn’t make up for walking where spirituality is on the floor.

Also, some people think that an hour of squash and gym work three times a week will compensate for being completely sedentary the rest of the time.  I have been there.  My life was meetings, hotels, aeroplanes, trains and cars.  I was sitting a hell of a lot of the time.  But, I tried never to miss one of my one hour three times a week bursts of intense activity.

You know what, I felt terrible most of the time.  I developed heart palpitations and an irregular heartbeat.  I had to carry around a heart monitor for 24 hours.  My digestive system was a mess.  In desperation at how ill I felt, I took to having a longish walk around whatever city I was working in, instead of sitting in my hotel room.  That change of habit probably saved my life.

Running doesn’t do anything on the Spirituality ~ Health and Fitness front either, runners are what scientists call Active Sedentary.  Bicycling is also pointless because it does not work the circulatory system in the legs in the way that walking achieves.

There is one other thing as far as spirituality fits well with walking.

In my experience, talking a long walk is one of only two forms of exercise where it is possible to almost achieve a meditative state.  Personally, I walk for a couple of hours a day.  Luckily I live only a couple of hundred yards from the sea, so talking a walk is no chore.  More importantly, I have found that I can take relaxation exercises while walking.  After that, letting my mind drift is easy, and because I’m concentrating on nothing, not even meditating, I have had some deep and meaningful insights, just by taking a walk.  Power walking is stupidly pointless.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Fridrich Wilhelm Nietzsche ~ Philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet, composer, soldier.

Avoid your own car or public transport for short journeys.  If it isn’t safe where you live, walk up and down the stairs in your building a few dozen times, (depending on how many stairs there are), or walk during your lunch hour at work, and after work before you go back to your own village.

The other form of exercise which gives you an opportunity to achieve a meditative state is yoga.

Like most guys I thought yoga was for women and metrosexual men ~ that it was all about being able to put your foot behind your head.  Let me disabuse you here and now.  Yoga is physically hard core.  The most basic form of yoga is Hatha Yoga.  Hatha translates as force and violence.

I am no expert on yoga, but in my limited experience it has not only strengthened my body, but has also opened and strengthened my mind.  There is some research which says that Hatha yoga improves cognitive function, especially in those of us who can’t see 21 for the mist in between.  Also, there is no need to join a yoga class.  A few of the basic Hatha positions can easily be found on the internet.

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

B.K.S. Iyengar was considered to be one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.  In 2004 B.K.S was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.

I strongly feel that to aid with spirituality Hatha yoga should be practiced in private.  Personally I take my yoga exercise before I take my bath / shower at bedtime, and I do it in silence.  Although the right kind of music may help.  I find that a near meditative state comes very easily when I begin my first yoga position of the evening.


the lotus position is ideal for meditation

You may think that walking, yoga, and meditation are a very easy regime to follow.  They are very easy for a day or so.  It is not so easy when you consider that we are going to be doing this every single day for years to come.  Some of you will fall by the wayside, some of you will slip back into drug abuse and alcoholism, some of you will not be able to give up smoking  ~ it doesn’t matter.  Doing the very best you can is good enough, and unlike friends and family, spirituality will always be right there if you want it.

What Good Is Spirituality?


You can only know what it is to need to live a spiritual life if you have been to one of two places.  If you have somehow come to spirituality from a very good place in life then you know.  The other place is Hell ~ some of us have been there.  Working toward Spirituality on a daily basis makes life bearable for some, happier and more fulfilling for others, puts some others in touch with a higher plane, and for some others it stops them killing themselves.  For some of us Spirituality is a matter of Life and Death.

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason.  It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Some see The Raven as a metaphor for Death.

One can choose any path towards spirituality but the Buddha laid down some pretty sound ideas two and a half thousand years ago.

The Four Noble Truths;

  1. Life is difficult and shit happens.
  2. Craving for immediate pleasure makes more shit happen.
  3. Learn some self-control and life will become less difficult as you won’t drop yourself into the shit so often.
  4. Learn the true meaning of right and wrong and always try to do the right thing.

Of course this was not quite how Buddha explained it, but my version gives the essence.

The fourth Noble Truth is also known as the Truth of the Middle Path, or the Noble Eightfold Path.  You don’t have to be Buddhist to aspire to have the qualities described in the Noble Eightfold Path;

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Any high-powered executive would give his eye teeth to be able to follow the precepts of the Eightfold Path.  Back in the day, if I could get half of those half right half of the time, I was King of the Hill.  Sadly, most high-powered executives will be far too busy working, or going on time-management seminars, to give the matter of Spirituality any study at all.

For some others, such as drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, neurotics, among others, working toward the Noble Eightfold Path is what keeps them alive.  These people often use a 12 step recovery programme to achieve spirituality ~ and the essence of these 12 step programmes is very close to the teachings of the Buddha.  The snag is that organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous are part-way to becoming a Religion, with all that implies.

However, if you are an alcoholic, drug addict…, then working toward spirituality by attending AA, NA meetings may just keep you alive.  Every little action in working towards Spirituality is very, very easy, and unless you are suffering from an extreme character disorder, feels perfectly natural.

The hard part is that the path to true Spirituality means that you have to keep doing it, every minute of every day.  The other hard part is that you will expose your soul to yourself.  If you like you may substitute ‘deepest subconsciousness‘ for soul.  What you will find down there are the good things, the ordinary things, the hurtful things, and the deepest, darkest, most evil parts of yourself.

Some of us didn’t want to go there.  Some of us made half-hearted efforts.  You know what?  Not doing your utmost means you only get part of the good stuff.  And, for some people that’s not enough to keep them alive.

That doesn’t mean that to do your utmost means you have to spend every second of every day actively working towards the Eightfold Path, or being involved in 12 step work.  What it means is that you have to want to believe, and when you do your 12 step work, or working toward the Noble Eightfold Path, it needs to be taken seriously and honestly.  Trust me, looking deep into the evil part of your soul isn’t something you can do for 12 hours a day ~ not unless you want to become completely insane.  All of us have a Mister Hyde.

Like everything in Life, true spirituality also needs balance.


balance as shown by yin-yang

Personally, I looked for balance in the philosophy of yin and yang.  This stuff apparently goes back about 3,000 years, and works on the premise that there are two sides to every coin.  Each of us has two basic halves, male and female, and these need to be kept in balance.  It’s more complicated than that ~ think of; night and day, sun and moon, winter and summer, fire and rain, life and death…

Without balance it’s very easy to go completely off the rails.

For example, my last divorce came about partly because my work / life balance was skewed in favour of work.  My ‘patch’ was Europe and North America.  I spent most of my time on aeroplanes, in hotels, in meetings, on more aeroplanes, trains, or in my car, and more hotels and more meetings.  What with that and the affairs and drinking my good lady soon became my ex.

The only way I know to begin to achieve any balance whatsoever is to practice the doctrine of ‘everything in moderation’.

This has been much derided, however ‘everything in moderation’ doesn’t mean everything.  Some things are just not on the list.  If you take drugs then stop.  If you smoke then cut down with the aim of stopping soon.  If you drink every single day then stop drinking completely.  If you drink a little too much then cut down, have at least two days a week when alcohol is off the agenda.  Sugar in any form is mostly not on the list.  Stay away from candy, cakes and cookies.

Tomorrow I will attempt to explain how to get started on your work toward Spirituality.  Every person on this planet could greatly benefit from doing some of this.

You may trust me on this one, you do not want to hear the Raven quoth ‘Nevermore.’



Life is difficult and shit happens.


shit happens all the time ~ mostly we bring it on ourselves

Religion ~ the belief in and worship of a God.

The world’s great religions ~ Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Judaism have several things in common.  The belief in a single divine being, a rigid set of rules based on ancient texts, (the Bible, the Koran), a hierarchical structure of priests ‘teaching’ the laity.  Mostly, organised religion is based on money and fear.  Of all the great religions Buddhism comes closest to spirituality.

The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go. ~ Galileo Galilei

Galileo was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615 for saying that the Earth went around the Sun, which was contrary to scripture and church teaching.  He was tried by the Holy Office, found guilty of heresy and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  He died in 1642.  He was lucky not to be tortured and then burned at the stake.

Spirituality ~ a process of personal transformation, separate from organised religion, an inner path centered on the deepest values and meanings by which one lives.

For me, spirituality encompasses; love, happiness, compassion, tolerance, responsibility, harmony, serenity, courage, wisdom, humility, honesty, beauty, and respect and concern for others.  For me, spirituality means looking deep inside of my soul and trusting that all the good, bad, indifferent, and truly evil parts will come together in balance.

You don’t need a conventional god to develop spirituality, but it helps to believe that there is a ‘power greater than yourself,’ to avoid the trap of believing that the world revolves around you.  You will eventually find your own personal ‘higher power,’ be it; the sea, mother earth, the sun, goddesses Lilith, Isis, and or Aphrodite, Toci, Ninmah, Gaia, Mari, the Cosmos…

Personal well-being, both physical and psychological is a vital aspect of spirituality as it is understood by many self-help movements.  Exercise, a good diet, plenty of sleep, and an avoidance of excess is a good place to start.

Religion is for people who are scared to go to Hell.  Spirituality is for people who have already been there. ~  Bonnie Raitt

Winner of 10 Grammy Awards, blues singer-songwriter and slide guitar player Bonnie Lyn Raitt said that her 10th try was ‘my first sober album.’

For me, the search for spirituality is a solitary task done quietly and without self aggrandisment.  Perhaps the help of a mentor may be sought.  In Alcoholics Anonymous, which these days is a spiritual rather than a religious programme, this mentor is known as a sponsor.

The two keystones of any search for spirituality always turn out to be;

  1. Recognition and acceptance that I am not the centre of the Universe.  My needs and wants are not the most important things on Earth.
  2. Delayed gratification.  A recognition and acceptance that my wants and needs do not have to be met in full this very instant.

Any thought will tell you that those two characteristics are the way an infant lives the first few months of its life.  An infant knows it is the centre of the Universe and that its needs should be met right now.  Some people never learn how to grow up ~ these include; addicts, the mentally ill, sociopaths, and psychopaths.

Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.  It is the only decent way to live. ~ M. Scott Peck.

It is possible to take many things from religion to begin to learn the self-discipline needed for developing our own spirituality ~ it is worth studying the Four Noble Truths.

  1. Life is difficult and shit happens.
  2. Craving for immediate pleasure makes more shit happen.
  3. Learn some self-control and life becomes less difficult as you won’t drop yourself into the shit so often.
  4. Learn the true meaning of right and wrong, and learn how to always strive to do the right thing.

Understanding spirituality teaches you a better way to live.  For some, such as addicts and chronic alcoholics, it is literally a matter of life and death.  Your own personal search for spirituality will be a major part of your life, each and every day.  There is a brutal rule ~ if you are not improving, then very quickly you will get much, much worse.

For those of us who have seen Hell ~ it isn’t that if you cease believing in spirituality you will go back to just about where you were when you began trusting that you could become a better person.  You will instantly sink to how bad it would have been if you had done nothing good at all.  It can all get very bad very quickly.

Some of the ways in which you may develop your own form of Spirituality will appear in the following posts.


Morval ~ 25th to 28th September 1916


Morval is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the north of France.  These days the village of Morval is one of those typical French hamlets built at a crossroads, for no other reason than it’s at a crossroads.  Morval has a population of less than 100 souls.  You wouldn’t go there except by accident.  The nearest decent hotel is Les Clos du Clocher in Gueudecourt, where an overnight stay will set you back about £50.00.  The menu is excellent although the French still have no idea how to make a decent breakfast.  Or you could stay at Le Domaine de la Butte, which advertises itself as being a 15 minute bicycle ride from the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.  The Tour de France has been to Morval.  It isn’t worth going there if what you want is sunshine.  It rains as much on Morval as it does on Manchester.


the road near Morval, with bicylists

Most arriving in Calais will probably use the A1 Autoroute du Nord which runs to the west of Morval.  Also to the east of the A1 Autoroute du Nord are the village of LesBoeufs, Guillemont, and the town of Combles.  This is the Somme.  It’s flat.  The soil is deep and contains a very high proportion of phosphorous.  If it gets hot enough the soil will burn with a hellish stench.

The English and the British have fought over this ground since before Agincourt, itself a commune in the Pas-de-Calais.  It was to be fought over again between the 25th and 28th of September 1916, some 98 years ago.


the English archer dominated the battlefield

The German 1st Army held the villages of Morval, Gueedencourt, and LesBoeufs.  The British had already made one big push against the villages during the earlier Battle of Flers-Courcelette which officially lasted from 15th to 22nd of September 1916.  The strategic objective was to cut communications between the German front and Thiepval, depriving the German front line of reinforcements.  This was part of a larger strategic plan to keep pressure on the Germans and Austro-Hungarian reserves after the Battle of Verdun.

As of everything else that destroyed the Flower of British Manhood between 1914 and 1918, the whole plan was heavily reliant on cooperation with the French.

As of everything else that destroyed the Flower of British Manhood between 1914 and 1918, the names are horribly familiar, although I doubt that one in one-hundred could find the places on a map without prompting.  Other names are horribly familiar; Foch, Haig, and Byng being Generals, theoretically on our side.

This was a war where victories could be measured by the gain of mere hundreds of yards of worthless ground.  Where men lived below ground, or they didn’t live at all.  The very names of trench lines are enough to bring shivers to the spine, while the names of otherwise meaningless pieces of geography are included in the battle honours of British regiments.  Vimy Ridge rises 200 feet above the Douai Plains near Arras, it was fought over from The Race to the Sea in 1914 to the Armistice in 1918.

During the entire four years of terrible warfare ‘the front’ moved no more than a couple of miles in either direction.  The total number of civilian and military casualties during the Great War is confidently estimated at over 37,000,000.  About ten million military personnel died.  The Entente Powers lost about six million dead.  Britain lost some one million dead out of a population of 22 million.  An entire generation of young women would live to old age without ever finding a husband.  The German Empire lost almost three-million dead, or one in 25 of their entire population, or to put it another way, an entire generation of German youth was slaughtered.

And, to this day, nobody is quite certain what the Great War was for.  There is a majority of opinion that says the Germans and Austro-Hungarians started it.  But then, there would be, wouldn’t there?  After all they lost and history is written by the victors.

There was some progress towards industrialised death at Morval.  The tank was first used by the British on September 15th at Fler-Courcelette.  The Royal Flying Corps had effective aerial photography by the time of the battle of Morval.  The water-cooled Vickers machine gun was replacing the earlier Maxims.  The French 75mm quick-firing gun was queen of the battlefield.  The standard equipment for a British Infantryman was the 1916 bolt-action Short Magazine Lee Enfield .303 centrefire rifle.  It was 44.5 inches long, weighed 8lbs 8oz and could easily hit a man at 550 yards.  The key point in the early years of the war was the a professional British soldier could get off 30 aimed shots a minute with one of these things.  It was in use from the Second Boer War until today.  It was used by the British army as a sniper’s rifle until the mid 1990’s.


mk1 male tank at the Somme 25th September 1916

The rifle was bloody useless if you were attacking, because you were out in the open and the defenders were deep in their trenches.

The slaughter of the brave.

Morval is just another small, pointless, French village in the Pas-de-Calais.  You wouldn’t go there except by accident.


Failed Relationships


I recently received the attached email, which gives excellent advice on how to cope if you have been in a toxic relationship, which has eventually failed.

The thing for manly men to remember is that, if your relationship with a mature woman has failed, it probably isn’t your fault.

Get over it.


more than likely she is seeing more than one guy at a time

This morning, I received a long email from a reader named Evan who is struggling with letting go of a failed relationship. In his email he explains, in rather vivid detail, the signs and symptoms of a toxic relationship that has been heading south for many years. He admits that he needs to let go, but he struggles with it, because doing so means he must finally face reality, which requires him to let go of the idea in his head about how his life and relationship were suppose to be.

One particular line from his email really summed it up well: “I’m learning the hard way that the hardest thing in life is simply letting go of what you thought was real.”

Isn’t that the truth – for all of us, in all walks of life. We all have an idea in our heads about how things are, or how they’re supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes us up and stresses us out the most. Realize this. Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you WANT because you NEED something else. And what you need often comes when you’re not looking for it. You won’t always understand it and that’s OK. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. And then just when you think it can’t get any better, it does.

The key is detachment – letting go of the life you expected, so you can make the best of the life that’s waiting for you. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Here are six strategies for making this happen:

1. Create some healthy space for yourself. – Sometimes you are just too close to the puzzle to see the big picture. You need to take a few steps back to gain clarity on the situation. The best way to do this is to simply take a short break – a breather – a vacation – and explore something else for a little while. Why? So you can return to where you started and see things with a new set of eyes. And the people there may see you differently too. Returning where you started is entirely different than never leaving. ( from the “Happiness” chapter of our book)

2. Accept the truth and practice being grateful for what is. – To let go is to be grateful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, everything you once had, and the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s challenges and changes, to trust your intuition, to learn as you go, to realize that every experience has value, and to continue taking positive steps forward.

3. Forgive with all your heart, as often as necessary. – Forgiveness is a constant attitude of choosing happiness over hurt – acceptance over resistance. It’s about acknowledging that we’re all mistaken sometimes; sometimes even the best of us do foolish things – things that have severe consequences. But it doesn’t mean we are evil and unforgiveable, or that we can’t be trusted ever afterward. Know this. Sit with it. It might take time to forgive, because it takes strength to forgive. Because when you forgive, you love with all your might. And when you love like this, a heavenly, healing light shines upon you. This forgiveness – true forgiveness – brings you to a place where you can sincerely say, “Thank you for that experience,” and mean it with all your heart.

4. Concentrate only on what can be changed. – Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood. Live, let go, learn what you can and don’t waste energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus exclusively on what you can change. And if you can’t change something that’s upsetting you, change the way you think about it. Review your options and then re-frame what you don’t like into a starting point for achieving something different in your life. ( from the “Adversity” chapter of our book)

5. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life. – Now is the moment. The past is just a memory. The future is a mental projection. You can choose to dwell back in the past for learning and joyous reflection. You can choose to dwell in the future for visualization and practical planning. However, any time your awareness floats away to the past or future frequently for negative purposes, you are suffocating your ability to thrive in the only moment you ever have… the NOW. Past and future literally do not exist right now – feel the freedom in this truth.

6. Embrace your quirks, your mistakes, and the fact that life is a lesson. – Life is a ride. Things change, people change, but you will always be YOU; so stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone or anything. You have to dare to be yourself, in this moment, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. It’s about realizing that even on your weakest days you get a little bit stronger, if you’re willing to learn. Which is why, sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your trouble and hard work isn’t what you get, but what you become. ( from the “Self-Love” chapter of our book)

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and keep our lives on track. This is precisely why Marc and I wrote our book, “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.” The book is filled with short, concise tips on how to do just that. Here’s what two kind people recently said about it:

“1,000 Little Things is a really helpful book. My wife and I both find it insightful and inspiring. I ordered the book after reading Marc and Angel’s website. It is full of ideas and concepts to make you think about your life and relationships more effectively. We found it helps us see the positives in what life throws at us. It’s written in such a way that you can pick it up and put it down at anytime. Great to have on your coffee table, and makes a great gift too. Worth every cent.”
– Stuart Goddard (San Diego, CA)

I recommend your book, 1,000 Little Things, to everyone I know, especially those that enjoy the Marc and Angel blog and newsletters. It really is full of great information – the kind that we all kinda-sorta know in the back of our minds, but have trouble pulling up when we need it most. A fabulous resource for all areas of life – really helps you think more clearly about how you are handling certain situations. Thank you.
– Megan Daniels (Melbourne, Australia)

~ with thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life angelc@marcandangel.com

Triumph Spitfire


There is much debate over where the Supermarine Spitfire came by its iconic name.  There is no doubt whatsoever that the Triumph Spitfire was named for the war-winning fighter aircraft.  Originally known as the SC, (Small Car).  Developed on a tiny budget, by engineers who had no experience of small sports cars, the Spitfire was a sales success for well over 18 years.  It was always an underrated car, too pretty for its own good.  It was always built down to a price, having to compete with its rival the MG Midget / Austin-Healey Sprite, in the small sports car market.  Interestingly, the Spitfire only came into being because of the take-over of Triumph by Leyland Motors.


earlier spitfire possibly a Mk 3

The Spitfire was very closely related to its saloon car sister, the Triumph Herald, being based on a chopped-down version of the same separate chassis-frame.  Unfortunately for the Herald, Vitesse, and Spitfire this chassis was rather flexible.  It did have independent front and rear suspension, rack and pinion steering with an incredibly small turning circle, and the ability to accommodate  a six-cylinder engine.  In any event, there was no possibility of Triumph producing a monocoque bodyshell in any volume.

The incredibly pretty body was the work of Michelotti, and featured a decent boot, (trunk), space behind the seats, and a front end bonnet, (hood), that completely lifted up to allow unrivaled access to the engine bay and front suspension.  Sadly this lift-up front end, coupled to a rather flexible chassis, was not very stiff and was prone to rattles.  The chassis was very much of the back-bone type, so the Spitfire has strong sills to add a little stiffness.  Like all Triumph sports cars of the period, the Spitfire could be bought with a pretty detachable hardtop.

The original Spitfire prototype was known as ‘Bomb,’ had a tuned version of the 1,147 cc in-line 4, which gave a paltry 63 bhp, ran on skinny 3.5-inch wheels and had a soft-top you had to build like a tent.  The four-speed gearbox had no synchromesh on first gear, and came straight from the Herald 1200.  The independent rear suspension was by transverse-leaf with swing-axles and would always be a weak point when it came to fast corners taken under power.  Top speed was around 90 mph and the 0-60 time was a slow, slow, (by today’s standards) 17 seconds.

The Mk1 Spitfire went on sale in 1963 at £641.  Development of the Spitfire Mk 1 included 3 different motorsport tuning kits, although there is no record of the stage 1 kit ever being sold.   The stage 2 kit included a high compression eight port head new manifolds, 2 twin-choke 40DCOE Weber carburettors, new camshaft, and was said to be good for a serious 90bhp.

The Spitfire Mk2 came out in 1965.  It had different manifolds and valve gear to the Mk1, giving the engine 67bhp.  You could also have a heater, (optional), and carpets replaced rubber mats.  In 1967, only 2 years later, the Spitfire Mk3 was launched.  As well as a new front bumper, the Mk3 had a 1,296 cc engine, eight-port head, and churned out 75bhp.  Better brakes were fitted and the electrical system was switched to negative earth.  The Mk3 was ‘theoretically’ capable of the magical 100mph.  The Mk3 was the first Spitfire to have a decent soft-top.  With more power and a higher top speed, the swing-axle rear suspension really started to show its weak character.  Initial understeer would snap to strong oversteer as the rear wheel began to tuck-in.

Somewhere in here electric overdrive was offered as a very desirable option.

The Spitfire Mk IV was eventually launched in October 1970, by which time Triumph was part of the same Leyland company that owned MG / Austin-Healey.  Because the original body-tooling was worn out, Michelotti could design new front and rear end bodywork, which featured the cut-off tail also seen on the TR6.  The turned-out panel joints disappeared, giving a much smoother look to the car.  The new car was supposed to have a completely new front end body with flip-up headlamps, but these was dropped because of US safety legislation that never came into force.  Perhaps the best part of the redesign was a brilliant angular hard-top option.

amphicars Spitfire

amphicars tuned Spitfire engine bay

In the Spitfire IV was a new gearbox, new rear suspension, stiffer anti-roll bar at the front, new interior, and a slightly less powerful set-up of the venerable 1.3 engine.

The final version of the Spitfire Mk IV was the 1500.  This shared the same long-stroke engine and all synchromesh gearbox with the final version of the MG Midget.  The only bodywork change was that 1500 decals were added.

Both the Spitfire and Midget were killed-off as all development money and effort went into the much-disliked TR7.

All in all, the ‘best’ version of the Spitfire is the 1500, which is pretty to look at, quite nice to drive, very easy to tune, and mostly without vices.  The car is easy to work on and maintain, and is mostly likely to have cooling and electrical problems.  A well-sorted Spitfire IV / 1500 is quite capable of an extended continental road-trip, and offers decent fuel economy and ample luggage space.

The Spitfire is very easy to rebuild and restore.  The bodyshell can be easily removed from the chassis, there are only 10 bolts to worry about.  But, getting it back on again is more than ordinarily difficult if you don’t want badly fitting doors and uncertain alignment.  Before you even buy a Spitfire, obtain the appropriate catalogs from Rimmer Bros.

With the body off, the first job is to carefully measure the chassis, in accordance with a workshop manual, to make certain the frame is still square.  It is very easy to nudge a front corner out of line, some bad parking is enough to do that.  A complete strip-down of the frame to bare metal is a good idea.  At present I don’t believe that new chassis frames are available, so it’s a case of welding and re-alignment.

Having rebuilt a Spitfire, Vitesse and TR6, I would very strongly recommend a complete strip down of the chassis to the bare metal, shot-blasting, repair and galvanising.  Any expensive work you do elsewhere on the car will be wasted when the chassis inevitably breaks somewhere around the rear suspension.


Spitfire restored rolling chassis

The other major problem is that bits of the bodywork will have rusted, particularly that big tip-up bonnet.  The most crucial area to take back to bare metal and rebuild / repair are the sills because these contribute to the cars overall structural rigidity.

You can pay anything from under £1,000 to £15,000 for a Spitfire, depending upon condition.  At the high end you want a car that has been taken back to the bare metal, had the chassis repaired and galvanised, and the bodywork restored and refitted using a proper jig.  New gearbox with electric overdrive should also feature on the the more expensive car.

All versions of the Spitfire are fun, but the early version SHOULD NOT be cornered hard.

Salt and Hypertension


In another piece of contradictory research covering 8,670 French adults, scientists have concluded that the case for salt being a cause of high blood pressure is overstated, and more complex than once believed.  In fact the authors of this particular study have concluded that there is no direct link between salt consumption and hypertension.

It seems that other lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption and obesity were strongly linked to a rise in blood pressure.  Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables was found to be linked to a drop in blood pressure.

Stopping weight increase should be the first target in the general population to counteract the hypertension engine. ~ The American Journal of Hypertension.

On the other hand, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just issued a report finding that 90% of US children eat more salt, (sodium chloride), than is good for them.  The science surrounding salt ‘is crazy confusing’.  In fact the long held belief that salt causes cardio-vascular disease is coming under increasing scrutiny.

Salt is essential for good health in people and animals.  Too little salt is very bad for you, causing a condition called hyponatremia.  The symptoms are confusion, chronic fatigue, and dizziness.  Bad hyponatremia can cause strokes and heart attacks.  If the condition goes on long enough it can be fatal.  Too much salt can also be fatal.

Low salt diets can cause an increase in hormones and lipids in the blood.  A 2012 study in The American Journal of Hypertension found that a low salt diet can cause elevated plasma levels of renin, cholesterol and triglycerides.  A low salt diet is linked to early death in people with type 2 diabetes.

A low salt diet is particularly dangerous for the elderly.  Hyponatremia is linked to broken hip joints due to falls caused by confusion and a decrease in cognitive ability.

The original ‘proof’ that salt causes high blood pressure was in a 1970s study by Lewis Dahl, who induced high blood pressure in rats by feeding them the equivalent of 50 times the average human salt intake in the western world.  Dahl also stated that cultures who regularly consumed higher levels of salt tend to have higher blood pressure.

the data supporting universal salt reduction have never been compelling, nor has it ever been demonstrated that such a program would not have unforeseen negative side effects.  ~ Gary Taubes in Science magazine.

There is a healthy range of salt intake for most people, the range seems to be 1.5 to 3 teaspoons of salt a day.  Too little salt and food tastes bland.  To much salt in food makes it almost inedible.  The key, as always is to take everything in moderation, avoid processed foods, and avoid modern wheat.

Modern wheat tends to result in an increase in fat around the stomach, and the Mayo Clinic says this is really bad for blood pressure.  In another piece of contradictory research, the Mayo Clinic found that an increase of just 5 lbs in fat around the stomach will cause a rise in blood pressure.

To our knowledge, for the first time, we showed that the blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in abdominal visceral fat… ~ Dr Naima Covassin.

Abdominal visceral fat is the classic ‘beer belly’ and it is caused by sudden increases in blood sugar, such as when drinking alcohol, sugary drinks, eating white bread…  Take this theory far enough and it’s obvious that sugar causes high blood pressure, and not salt.


this man almost certainly has high blood pressure

In order to reduce blood pressure, it seems likely that losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, and avoiding modern wheat, is likely to be more effective than cutting down on table salt.  The recommended maximum sugar intake is between 5 and 7 teaspoons a day.

It is sugar not the salt that may be the actual causative factor for high blood pressure. ~ Dr James DiNicolantonio in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Exercise helps too ~ an hour of walking a day is enough to help reduce blood pressure.  Walking to work reduces stress and improves brain power, according to the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School.

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