I like 'forced perspective' photographs like these. I can't help it. I just do.

In this blogposting…
*Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
*Howick Hall
*This Blog
*Desert Island Discs
And now...Play up! Play up! And play the game!…

….will take place at 1100 on this upcoming Thursday 16 September at the cafe inside the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. If it’s too posh or too expensive, we’ll go somewhere else. To a Greggs, perhaps.

In any case, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

*Each of us tells an average of 657 lies a year (although how anyone can rely on the truth of this assertion, judging by the methods that must have been used to gather the information, is anybody’s guess).
*The 150-year-old chestnut tree in the garden of Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam has been felled by a storm.
*The University of Durham is going to offer a Harry Potter course as part of its Education Degree.
*At current rates, the pay of female managers will equal the pay of male managers in 57 years.
*The cost of school uniforms has halved in the past six years.
*Two thirds of us don’t know who lives next door.
*The average woman spends 2.5 years of her life cooking; the average man, 1.4.
*Any Rubik’s Cube formation can be solved in 20 moves.
*Gordon Brown’s latest book has sold less than 40 copies in four months.

Thumbs up to the sainted Greggs, without which my life, for one, would be infinitely poorer. They’ve just posted record profits. And this from a business which started in 1930s Northumberland, where John Gregg would deliver yeast, bread and eggs to people’s houses.

He and a partner bought their first shop in Gosforth High Street in 1951. They now have over 1,400 of them - more than McDonald’s.

For the record, Greggs’ best-sellers are….
*Savoury: the sausage roll - over 133m sold each year…
*Sandwich: chargrill chicken oval bite - 5.5m sold each year…
*Sweet: jam doughnut - 23m sold each year
*Bread: soft white roll - 9.6m sold each year…

(Quite interesting titbit: The name of the Norwegian composer Grieg - he of the Piano Concerto and Peer Gynt - is a Scandinavian version of Gregg; his grandparents were Scottish.)

Another local thumbs-up, this time for Howick Hall Gardens in Northumberland. I think all I need to do is quote from a review I read recently.

‘In the garden, there are good, mature trees and an extensive network of paths through 65 acres of grounds. So what makes this place so extraordinary? These are trees grown from seed that has been gathered from far-flung corners of the world, from Nepal to China to Korea. Since the 1980s, Howick has become the largest private collection of wild trees in Britain…

Howick is quiet, subtle, slow and beautiful. In a world where our horizon is, at best, centred on our own lifespan, and gratification comes in pre-packaged chunks, this is the prefect, refreshing antidote. Along with a great gulp of fresh air off the North Sea.’

I’ve been to Howick Hall Gardens twice - both times in connexion with my work at the BBC. The first was to record a walk through the astonishing, and locally very well-known, display of snowdrops in late winter. The second was to record a light-hearted piece about the twelve days of Christmas: the pear tree was at Howick! (Though not, I’m sorry to say, the partridge.)

If you’ve never been, give it a go. Autumn is a spectacular time of year and the gardens at Howick show it at its best. If you’re really brave, you can take the woodland walk that leads you for a mile, all the way down to the coast,


Attentive readers will have noted that Linda Grierson has finally worked out how to leave a comment in the Comments box of a blogposting - see posting 213.

So Linda...for the benefit of the many people who’ve emailed me to say they can’t figure out how to do it...How do you do it?

A great idea. Linda’s already nominated hers. What are yours?

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

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