Chinese artist Liu Bolin spends several hours painting himself in exactly the right colours to blend in with his surroundings. This photograph has not been 'touched-up' at all.
Clever lad, huh?

195

In this blogposting...
*Robinson's Grand Tour
*Two Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know About Oscar-Winners' Speeches
*Giant George
*In Memoriam
*AGM XIV
Now, on with the motley...


ROBINSON’S GRAND TOUR
No, we haven’t finished yet. After my time in Brussels, Cologne, Munich, Ulm, Regensburg, Verona and Venice, my journey will take me southwards to Florence.

From what I’ve heard and read, Florence is one of those cities you really must try to see before you die. I know they say that about quite a few places now: Venice, Paris, New York, Wolverhampton... But Florence, I think, is the big one. Those in the know say that no city on Earth is crammed so full of cultural icons of such a uniformly high standard and importance. Reports also suggest that it’s a city of surpassing beauty.

What Florentines will make of a passing truckshunter in a Northumbrian kilt is anyone’s guess.

I’ll be staying in Florence for five nights and have tentatively pencilled in a couple of day trips - to Rome and Siena. I’ve heard some genuine horror stories about the rapacious pickpockets of Rome and, in truth, the only monument drawing me there is the Pantheon. It was built by Hadrian and there’s a kind of poetic justice in making a pilgrimage from his Wall in the North to his great Temple of the South.

Everyone says Siena is lovely, which seems like a good enough reason for me to pay it a visit.

I’m so very grateful for all the suggestions and tips you’ve given me so far about my Grand Tour. Please keep up the good work now. If you have any experience of Florence, Siena or Rome - or you’d like to do some rummaging around to find some unexpected delights for me to sample there - please get in touch in any of the usual ways.

Thankyou.

TWO THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT OSCAR- WINNERS’ SPEECHES
*The shortest Oscar-winner’s speech ever was made my Alfred Hitchcock in 1968. He said ‘Thankyou’
*The longest Oscar-winner’s speech on record was made by Greer Garson in 1942 (for her role in Mrs Miniver. It lasted almost 6 minutes.

GIANT GEORGE
Guinness World Records has officially named Giant George, a blue great dane, as the world’s biggest dog. He measures 43” from paw to shoulder and 7’3” from nose to tail. He weighs over 17st and eats about 8st of food every month.

I’ve just realised that that item has an interesting ‘sideline’. I used British ‘Imperial’ measures throughout. Feet, inches and stones. I’m not proud of it but there you are.

IN MEMORIAM
I’m starting to worry about this feature of the blog. I think there may be a ‘Truckshunter Effect’ on the mortality of the great and the good. Each time we mourn the passing of a Great Name, a few more go and shuffle off this mortal coil.

This time we’re saying our goodbyes to Cy Grant, who has died aged 90. When I was a kid, and when all television sets were black-and-white (and were called ‘television sets’), Cy Grant used to sing a nightly calypso about that day’s news on the Tonight programme with Cliff Michelmore.

The sainted Lionel Jeffries has also died, aged 83. As well as starring as the wacky father of Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he also directed one of my favourite films of all time. No, not The Railway Children (which is, admittedly, a corker) but the much better - and much less well-known - The Amazing Mr Blunden.

And a final goodbye to Kathryn Grayson, who has died aged 88. She was perhaps best-known for her role opposite Howard Keel in the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me Kate.

AGM XIV
Please don’t forget that I’m still looking for dates and venue suggestions for AGM XIV during the week commencing Monday 12 Showery.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

CONTACT ME
Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com

49 comments:

Alison said...

Ian - Italy, Florence, Siena - I am SO jealous. For my degree I studied Italian Renaissance Art. I was given a guide book to Florence - with loadsa pictures in - all written in Italian (I don't speak Italian - but it looks good). Will gladly lend you this item if it helps.

I am starting to get ready for the exhibition in May in North Tyneside. Nearer the time I will give you dates.

Kind regards to all - and deeply envious of your visit to Florence and looking forward to hearing your travellers tales.

Alison

Maureen said...

Travellers Tips Ian: when in Rome, don't wear your kilt. (Thinking of those rapacious pickpockets!)

Sid said...

I think Maureen means wear trousers instead. It would be nice if you came back ontime and in one piece. Not languishing in some distant jail.

Sid said...

It is world book day today, any suggestions for a Truckshunters list.

Maureen said...

Tee hee, hadn't thought of that Sid...trust you!
Hmmm favourite books...I'm afraid that a quick peruse of my bookshelves shows mainly factual books on travel, languages, decorating, cookery, local history, poetry, gardening, with a smattering of autobiographies nothing very inspirational for anyone else. I've always been the same and like to learn as I read. What does everyone else read?

Sid said...

The first book that had an impact on me was "The Ship That Flew" by Hilda Lewis. I must have been about 8 or 9 years of age at the time.
Amazingly it's still in print.

Ian Robinson said...

At the moment I'm reading War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. It's the story of one horse's life during World War I. Whenever I read a bit of it, I'm left in tears. Otherwise, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time has to be favourite book EVER.

Sid said...

Less than two weeks before you set off Ian. I can feel the excitement building....

mim said...

Hi,
Reading in The Dark by Seamus Deane, is one of my favourites but I like anything by Laurie Graham and my favourite childrens book is either Alice in Wonderland or the Family from One End Street which I still have a copy of!

Love Margaret x

Maureen said...

Hi All, just to let you know that Christine is hoping that an interview with Marianne Foster will be played on the Gardening Show on Radio Newcastle at one today. Apparently it'll depend on the sound quality as they'd forgotten about the gravel paths!

Sid said...

That's an awful reason if they don't broadcast it Maureen. They could have stood still for a few moments.
I'll be listening anyway....just to make sure they get the answers right.lol.

Maureen said...

Good for you Sid. I meant that Marianne had forgotten about the paths when she suggested recording as they walked. She seemed to think that it would be ok though.

Leroy La Strange said...

Yo there,

The first serious book I read was at the age of 9 and it was a Readers Digest book about the tribes of the Amazon........ all the pictures were naked people with spears n things.... It scarred me for months.....way too much information for a 9 year old.

regards

Leroy

Hildie said...

Did you know ...
Grey Street, Newcastle has been declared 3rd most picturesque street in Britain?
We were beaten (only marginally!) by
No. 1 - The Shambles in York.
No. 2 - The Royal Crescent in Bath.
unducti

Hildie said...

Sorry about that inducti business ... I did my word verification in the wrong place!
I was in Newcastle on Saturday night .... it was *ICE* cold, I am not kidding you .... and you should have seen what they were wearing ... the young girls in town .... there were bare arms, bare legs, see-through tops ...
do you think alchohol keeps you warm?

Sid said...

Many years ago I dropped my eldest daughter off in the town. I saw exactly what you described Hildie. I said "if only I was 15 years younger". She replied "you'd better make it 25".

But apart from that.........
I hear Peter Mandelson (the civil serpent) is to be given the Freedom of Hartlepool on Wednesday. Is nothing sacred anymore!!

Hildie said...

It was nithering, Sid .... I just wanted to wrap them up warm! They looked great but they were standing for ages in mile-long queues to get into the nightclubs .. my mam would have said, "It's a wonder they don't catch their death of cold!"

Peter Mandelson!!
Heaven's above!!!
Hope Ian is sitting down when he hears that news!!

I'm off to work today
9a.m. till 7p.m.
Catch you later ...
I must arise and go now ......

Maureen said...

Hildie, I think that it's known as a beer jacket! Have a good day everyone.

Hildie said...

Hey ... hello ... how are you all?
I've been reading some strange news this week ...
The headline story on the front of the 'Consett and Stanley Advertiser' was "MAN WALKED HIS DOG WHILE DRIVING CAR" !!!!!!! ???????
Then in 'The Independent' was the mysterious crash-landing of 75 starlings, onto a driveway somewhere in Somerset!!
And, as if those weren't odd enough, I read today about a Northumbrian poet named Peter Athey who has, this week, erected a gibbet 3 kilometres from Edlington , Northumberland ...
it has some conection to his latest poem apparently.

Ian's unusually quiet , isn't he ?
I wonder if he fainted at your news about Peter Mandelson, Sid?!

Sid said...

Strange news indeed Hildie.
Did you know that a mystery knitter (or should that be knutter) in West Cape May, New Jersey (how ironical) is putting little sweaters over tree branches and lamp posts under cover of darkness.
Some residents like it, some don't. One person said "I suppose it's better than spray paint".
Ian will just be wondering. I can hear him now...did I, have I, should I. And finally, where's me...

Michael said...

I so keep wanting to write something intellectual and amusing on here...or amusingly intellectual if you prefer...but the inspiration just doesn't come to me that easily!

Maureen said...

I seem to remember seeing pictures of trees covered with knitting a while ago Sid. It was some kind of craze that people were joining in and making scarves etc for the trees. Of course, it was in America...sorry Inga, if you still drop in now and again!but you know what I mean.
Michael, lovely to hear from you whatever you have to say. Hello is just fine. Ian hasn't already set off on his travels has he?

Sid said...

One in ten primary school children said in a Birmingham test that "Buzz Lightyear" was the first man on the moon, and that either Charles Darwin, Noel Edmonds or The Queen invented the telephone.

Maureen said...

Never! Now that is scary!

Hildie said...

Michael ..... funnily enough, that's our ambition too!!! Failing that, we just write whatever comes to mind at any given moment ... as Maureen says,
it is good to hear from you.
Those primary school children of yours, Sid, they should have gone to a good school ... Collierley Primary School at Dipton, for instance! The problem we have is that half of our children can't spell the name of the school!!!

Sid said...

I don't suppose they use a slate and chalk anymore Hildie do they?. It had its advantages...if you got the answer wrong you just rubbed it out.
When they brought in jotters, and exercise books for sums and spelins...well the errors were there for ages for all to see.

Hildie said...

Did Florence Nightingale really invent the pie chart? I read once that that she did .... but is it a true fact?

Maureen said...

Hmmm, over to Sid on that one Hildie! Why would she? very intriguing....
Happy Mothers Day everyone, not just mothers! Have a nice day y'all.

Maureen said...

By the way, since we mentioned Locomotion as a possible AGM venue I thought that you might be interested in seeing Paul's photos of his day out there recently. (Smooth Radio's website) He said that he really enjoyed it and it was a shame that very few people knew about it.

Anonymous said...

Safe journey Ian. Take care, hurry back.
Love Ada

Sid said...

William Playfair (the scottish engineer, political economist, and man with a library named after him in Edinburgh University) was the true inventor of the pie chart. The Florence Nightingale museum admits as much. http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/small.htm
William Playfair published what must be the first "pie chart" in 1801. It was in a graphic showing that, by comparison with other countries, the British paid more tax.
No change there then!!

Hildie said...

Ta ever so, Sid ... so, that's put that to bed ... that rumour I heard about Florence Nightingale.
Sounds like she didn't have a hand in the pie chart at all. I can stop wondering now!

p.s. It will be Mietek's birthday on Wednesday.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

Sorry, I'll try again...
"Wellness...It's A Walk In The Park"
It seems that some bright spark has come up with the idea that in order to get us off our backsides and take exercise we need company and little green signs with arrows on to show us the route around our local park. Apparently we can all meet at a set time and place and all toddle around together. (No doubt discussing our poor health on the way!) Is it just me? Guess what? I've just walked right round, on my own, and in the opposite direction to the arrows!!! We are the generation that only met up to walk if it was a protest march! Protest over...
(Steps down from soapbox shamefacedly)

Sid said...

Crumbs Maureen who rattled your cage today. Walking round the park against the flow of the green arrows, tut tut. You could cause an accident.
Never mind the green arrows though...how long before they pin up a map of the maze? Incase anyone gets lost!.

Maureen said...

Must admit that I felt a lot better after my rant Sid. We're also told that it's not good for us to hold back, bad for our karma I think. So I take 'their' advice sometimes!:} A map would be good, and maybe if they filled the pond in, just so that no one would walk in by accident...

Hildie said...

This is big gossip, Maureen, the people in Dipton ... now they're not content with a walk in the park
.... I'm probably the last to know this - but ... you know what's all the rage here?
Thai brides!
And I'm not talking about the young men .... it's all the ones around Sid's age!

Maureen said...

Ooh, Hildie, fancy that! Have you thought of getting yourself a nice Thai groom? Not too fit you understand, but enough to carry the bags, bring the washing in, shovel the snow etc It's a thought you know, don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Sid said...

What do you mean MY age!!!!!!!!!!!!
I nearly fell off the chair. Somebody help me up quick.

Hildie said...

Maureen, whichever way you look at it ... my luck is definitely out in Dipton!!
And Sid ... pet .... how can I apologise? The thing is, you see, I was telling the absolute, honest truth ...
the pure, stark, unadulterated truth of the situation. That really is what is going on here.
It's somewhat of a crazy world, isn't it?

Sid said...

I wonder what the Thai brides make of the weather in Dipton, after all it has a climate unique to itself.
It is supposed to be a dry day today, with less wind.

Ellie said...

Hello, everyone: I'm totally ignorant when it comes to Thai Brides, or Grooms, come to that. Is there a shop in Newcastle where one can purchase such a person?
Hope Ian is having a splendid time.
My news:- Finished work on 25th Feb and while I have been busy reorganising me, I just don't like NOT going to work......

Leroy La Strange said...

Ooo Hilde,

You gossip..... Thai Brides in Dipton, Heh Heh! I actually know one of the auld geezers that your on about, he used to work for us ,
He married a Thai and she still lives over there and works in a hotel.....till she gets her visa sorted out... he retired with back problems....... I wonder how he hurt it at his age (serves him right) LOL,
Not that I'm gossiping mind you, it's in the public interest so that makes it different xx

Leroy

Maureen said...

I think that this is one of those 'did you know?' Truckshunter items:
Thomas Bell founded a wholesale grocery firm near the Tyne quays and railway station in Newcastle in the 1880s. Among his top-selling brands were 'Bells Royal' baking powder and a self raising flour.
Following the death of Edward VII, it became illegal to use the Royal name. As a result, Bell decided to take the first couple of letters from the each of the two words of the brand name and turn them into the more catchy sounding 'Be-Ro'.
In the early 1920s, plain flour was the flour most commonly used.
Self raising flour was considered a novelty - consumers bought plain flour direct from the miller and self raising flour was only sold into independent grocers.
In a bid to make self raising flour more popular among the general public, the company staged a series of exhibitions in the early 1920s where freshly baked scones, pastries and cakes were sold for a shilling to visitors.
These were so popular that people demanded that they had copies of the recipes so that they could bake the dishes at home.
As a result a free recipe book was produced and handed out at the exhibitions as well as door to door. The Be-Ro cookbook contained recipes to feed hungry families on a very low budget.
They soon became an essential part of a young woman’s education in running a home and feeding a family. Consequently, the cookbooks achieved their objective of making Be-Ro the best known flour in the North.
Well, did you know? More info from http://www.be-ro.co.uk/f_about.htm

Sid said...

No Maureen I didn't know that. What a splendid snippet of information.
As Gilly Marples would say, you get the gold star of the week, and you can be milk monitor as well.

Maureen said...

Thanks Sid, I've still got an old, well-worn copy of the Bero cookbook from the early 70s and a specially produced Centenary edition. Apparently the latest edition is available if you send a CHEQUE to them for £1.50, no pappal, credit cards etc for them, and such a bargain I think!

Maureen said...

Of course I meant Pay Pal...doh!

Vivienne said...

Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that Gibside is offering free entry to Visitors on both Saturday and Sunday. If you come along on Sunday you may catch a quick glimpse of me in Renwick's Book/ Coffee Shop, where I expect to be rushed off my feet!

Hope you are all behaving yourselves in Ian's absence!

Ada, I've finished reading, 'Dewey' and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I have found various You Tube videos of him. They are well worth viewing. I'm trying to copy a link to one of them here..............

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jGpvvLmwbs&feature=related

Thanks for telling me about the book.

Sid said...

Hope you have a great adventure Ian, please avoid things like freezers falling off the backs of lorries.