My thanks to emailer Lynn, who has sent me these pictures of the Dutch bulbfields,
as they are starting to look at about this time of year...
In this blogposting…
*Paul Wappat
*St Cuthbert’s Day
*The Moon
*Forgotten Heroes
*1,001 Buildings
Onward and upward!

Our next AGM will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 23 March at Saltwell Towers (in Saltwell Park, Gateshead).

Needless to say, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Be there or be square.

Unsurprisingly, my erstwhile oppo and good friend Paul has re-invented himself as The Quadfather. To find out what he’s up to, google or search for thequadfather.com.

I’ve had the hair-raising and tremendously exciting experience of quadbiking with Paul on several occasions. It seems to me that he’s made exactly the right decision to set up his quadbiking site at Seaton Burn - and chosen exactly the right name, too. His enthusiasm and expertise alone will set the new business off to a flying start.

Maybe we should have an AGM there, sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to see a few truckshunters letting their hair down and going for broke on one of Paul’s infernal - and totally irresistible - machines.

In the meantime, all truckshunters and ex-Radio Newcastle listeners everywhere wish Paul the very greatest of success and pleasure with…

The Quadfather!

St Cuthbert's pectoral cross
Please don’t forget that Sunday 20 March is St Cuthbert’s Day.

At the very least, try to find a few minutes for heartwarming reflection; you live in - or are associated with - a part of the world he loved as much as you do.

He was a truly remarkable man and we are very lucky indeed to ‘own’ him as our patron saint.

Happy St Cuthbert’s Day!

In her role as the Official Astronomer Laureate of the Honourable Society of Truckshunters, Hildie has pointed out (in the Comments to posting 261) that, on this upcoming Saturday 19 March, the Moon will be 30,000km closer to us than it usually is - so the view should be awesome. And the weather should be in our favour, too.

Take a look and report back!

Once in a while on the Blue Bus programme, a listener would call and remind us of how badly the north-east celebrates its heroes. And they were right to do so; with only minor exceptions, we’re not the sort of people to erect statues and other monuments to the memory of the sons (and occasional daughters) of the north-east who made often surprising and even startling contributions to humanity. We have too easily neglected to celebrate their diversity and ingenuity - or even their almost accidental roles in History with a capital H.

That latter category should surely include Sunderland-born Tom Taylor, a playwright of (mostly) farces and burlesques whose work would almost certainly have disappeared down the toilet-basin of changing tastes - except that President Abraham Lincoln was watching one of them (Our American Cousin) when he was assassinated in 1865.

And surely there should be a memorial somewhere in Whitley Bay to one of its more illustrious sons: Gladstone Adams, who invented the windscreen wiper in 1911 after driving back from London in his 1904 Daracq-Caron motor-car in the rain and snow. The poor fellow had to keep getting out to clear the windscreen…

Another Sunderland man bequeathed to the world something of slightly more questionable benefit: William Mills patented the ‘Mills bomb’ in 1915. It was immediately adopted as the officially-approved hand grenade of the British Army although I can’t say off-hand how it affected the outcome of the First World War.

Admiral Collingwood - the real hero of Trafalgar - could never be classed as ‘forgotten’, of course. Not only has he one of the north-east’s most striking statues at Tynemouth but he also has a street named after him near his birthplace in Newcastle. Maybe one day - depending on how well our AGMs go - there’ll be a Truckshunters Street somewhere.

Where was I? Ah yes….

It’s surely indicative of our deplorable attitude to our ‘local heroes’ that there is, for example, no monument to Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, inventor of the incandescent lamp - whereas the whole world knows the name of the scoundrel and mountebank Thomas Edison, who didn’t invent it.

And why is Morpeth town centre not graced with a statue of Emily Davidson, the suffragette trampled to death by the king’s horse Anmer at the 1913 Derby? (A listener once sent us a grainy, black-and-white photograph of her funeral in Morpeth. Disgracefully, it shows that most of the men watching obstinately kept their hats on. Let’s hope attitudes in Morpeth have changed in the intervening 100 years. Is the town going to mark her centenary in 2013, for example?)

And speaking of anniversaries and neglected heroes…

A few days ago - 15 March - was the anniversary of a grim north-east event with a happy outcome. On that date in 1789, a violent storm wrecked a Newcastle tall-ship called Adventure, just off the coast at South Shields. Everyone aboard drowned while the people watching on-shore were powerless to help.

Members of a local social club were so appalled at what happened that night that they offered a prize of two guineas to anyone who could design a rescue vessel. The winning design came from Town Clerk Willie Wouldhave ( - beautiful name - ) and the boat was built by local shipbuilder Henry Greathead ( - another beautiful name).

It was called Original and was 30 feet long, with 12 oars and a curved keel. It carried 784lbs of cork to aid buoyancy. It launched 10 months later - the world’s first-ever purpose-built lifeboat and the most important development ever in the history of sea rescue.
It’s true that Wouldhave and Greathead do have their monument (pictured); it’s at the foot of Ocean Road in South Shields, although the boat featured there is not Original, as it were. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if local powers-that-be gave more serious thought to the glaring omissions I’ve mentioned above.

And, while they’re at it, they should rid the world of the self-aggrandising memorials we do have. County Durham is besmirched by two statues of the savage, avaricious and inhumanly pitiless Marquess of Londonderry, of whom we should all be thoroughly ashamed. This is the man, remember, who, forty years after the invention of the safety lamp, sent his miners underground with candles because lamps were ‘too expensive’.

I’ll stop now, because I know you’ve heard it all before….

Here are the next ten buildings from my lovely book - just in case you’re scratching around for some interesting holiday destinations. How about Guatemala? Java? Uzbekistan? (Hands up who even knows where Uzbekistan actually is.)

With this list, we reach only the second building so far that I’ve actually seen: Aachen Cathedral, which I glimpsed from the train during my Grand Tour last year.

The buildings all date from between 743 and 961.

31 Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, Tikal, Guatemala
32 Jotab-dong Pagoda, Geongsangbuk-do, South Korea
33 Kailashnath Temple, Maharashtra, India
34 Church of St Donat, Zadar, Croatia
35 Aachen Cathedral, Germany
36 Borobudur Temple, Magalang, Indonesia (pictured)
37 Great Mosque, al-Ukba, Kairouan, Tunisia
38 Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
39 Saminid Mausoleum, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
40 Tiger Hill Pagoda, Suzhou, China

Nation scores so far: Italy 8, Egypt 5, China 4, Syria 2, Ireland 2, Croatia 2, then 1 each for Iraq, Greece, France, Libya, Turkey, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Japan, Isreal, Guatemala, South Korea, India, Germany, Indonesia, Tunisia and Uzbekistan.

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


Hildie said...

Wow! Those photographs of the Dutch bulbfields are stunning!

Regarding those
"1001 Buildings To See Before You Die" .... is it STILL nil points to the United Kingdom?!

You'll be glad to know the Red Nose Day joke-a-thon went well ...
and all your contributions were put to good use. Teachers and staff all dressed in 'something silly' for the day and we did the joke telling in the school hall. We had six children at a time standing up on a P.E. bench at the front of the hall ... gleefully telling their jokes. It was tremendous fun.

What do you say to a hitch-hiking rabbit?

Hop in.

Linda South Shields said...

I recognise the Keukenhof Gardens in the Lisse district outside Amsterdam. Been there many many times and have never been disappointed. I love flying in over the buldfields as it looks like you're flying over and landing on a massive Axminster carpet such are the fabulous colours and structured lines. I can thoroughly recommend it as a place to visit.
As for Paul The Quadfather Wappatt, I move we hold an AGM at his new venture. Could be fun chasing each other around on Quadbikes! Good luck Paul, hope your new venture is a rip roaring success.