On a journey like this, it’s usually contact with foreign cultures and traditions that jolts you out of your comfortable, west European assumptions and catapults you into re-assessing your experiences and re-arranging your mental furniture (as it were).  This had happened to me already, among the crowded  - even frenzied - streets of Hong Kong and Singapore, countries where they don’t even deign to use the same alphabet as us.

But travel has other ways of making you feel a long, long way from home.  After all, I can come into contact with Chinese culture - and many others - at home in Newcastle.  But I can’t catch a bus to the nearest active volcano or have a day out at a lake of boiling mud or walk through a cave the size of Durham Cathedral to look at the glow-worms in the chancel.

The volcano box had been emphatically ticked.  At Tokaanu, I added pools and springs of hissing, boiling water and small, noisy lakes of gurgling mud to the list.

I’d only diverted off the main road to find out if the village bakery had any interesting pie variations on offer.  It didn’t, but I immediately forgave Tokaanu this shortcoming when I saw the panel indicating the ‘Thermal Walk’ at the end of the village lane.  Stepping through the gate was entering a geographical environment completely outside my experience.  Again.

Within a few minutes I was wandering - quite alone - amongst pools of blue, sulphurous boiling water.  They bubbled and hissed and smelled like frying socks.  They steamed and spat at me and were quite, quite beautiful.  The edge of each pool was thick with crusted lime and sulphur; towards the centre, an extraordinary shade of turquoise blue took over.  It was a deeply seductive colour, tempting you to risk life and limb, wade into the bubbling water and look down into the vent.
 None of the photos I took at Tokaanu do it justice; the hissing, boiling water just looks like ordinary water.  The pictures of the mud-pools were even worse.

The path through this ‘thermally active area’ was very pretty, too.  It wound and twisted through the low, scrubby woodland so that each new pond and spring came as a surprise; you heard it before you saw it.  If it was a wellspring of thick, dark brown, boiling mud - making that comic-strip gloopy/gloppy noise - you heard it a very long time before you saw it.

I had the Thermal Walk to myself the whole time I was there and was able to take my time.  I paused at each explanatory panel, thoughtfully erected by New Zealand’s wonderful Department of Conservation to explain to the ignorant what ‘thermal activity’ actually was, why it existed, and why it existed here in particular.
But the ‘Moeraki Effect’ took over.  I hadn’t understood the panels at the Moeraki Boulders on South Island and the same dense levels of opacity descended here, too.  I understood that New Zealand is sitting atop a joint of two of the Earth’s tectonic plates.  Napier and Christchurch experienced their earthquakes when the edges of these plates ground against each other.

And when I leaned over to look down into the boiling-water vent, I’d been looking into a shortcut to the centre of the Earth.

There was lots of geology here, most of which passed me by - despite the information panels.  They weren’t badly written; they were being read by the wrong person.

* *
Someone called Craig, from Brisbane, arrived at the Thermal Walk about two hours after I’d left.  I was already many miles away en route to the campsite at Waitomo when Craig arrived at Tokaanu, parked up and began his tour of the pools of boiling mud and water.

He enjoyed it, too.  He found it as fascinatingly other-worldly as I had.

I know all this because Craig has a sense of curiosity, a sense of humour - and a very keen eye...

* * *
Over millions of years, many of New Zealand’s birds lost the ability to fly, because they had no predators and it’s easier to walk.  Two cheers for evolution.

Other changes and adaptations, though, merit a hat-throwing three cheers all round.  Lungfish.  Bees.  Electric eels.  Duck-billed platypuses.

And glow-worms.  Eery, magical, luminescent, tiny, shimmering green lanterns that turn total under-earth blackness into a minuscule biological version of Broadway - only green and much much nicer - by gathering together in their thousands where there is no light and switching themselves on.

Actually, ‘shimmering’ isn’t quite right.  They don’t really shimmer or sparkle or any of those other things that you’re used to lights doing.  What the glow-worms inside the Waitomo Caves reminded me of most - and this is going to sound silly - is Venus.

Someone once told me that, if you can see only one star in the sky, it’s not a star at all - it’s Venus.  And, if you look at Venus, it doesn’t exactly twinkle or glisten.  The qualities of its shine are more subtle; almost imperceptibly, it pulses a little.  Almost alone amongst other, more common-or-garden heavenly bodies, it glows.

So that, I decided, is what I saw deep in the Waitomo Caves.  Hundreds of Venuses glowing greenly in the dark.  Clustered in glowing groups all over the ceiling or dangling in long strands from it.  A mysterious, magical, hidden, shining world beneath our feet.  A second sky.

Yes, I knew this was going to sound silly.  As soon as I’d visited the Waitomo Caves, I knew that any description I wrote of the experience would fall far short of what it ought to be, and I was right.

Like the boiling, living earth of Tokaanu, nothing can prepare you for it; two experiences in quick succession that were completely outside and beyond anything I’d ever known before.

Give me a decade or so and I might come up with something less inadequate than this...

* * *
I know that a couple of good photos would have helped but I left my camera and my phone in my campervan.  And in any case, you’re not allowed to take pictures of the glow-worms.

* * *

Distance travelled from Newcastle so far:  15,441 miles / 24,850 km

* * *
* * *
Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
 The adorable but utterly exhasted Julie

To say that I was never the practical, hands-on mender and fixer type is to put it very mildly indeed.  In our family, if something needed doing it was very, very rarely me that did it.  My brothers - our Barry and our Deryck - would be the ones re-sumping sprogulators, tightening floor strut gussets or installing new wash-house clackings while their prim bespectacled brother sat effetely in his room reading the Children’s Newspaper and daydreaming of Richard Dimbleby.  

Practical stuff like how to fix a puncture, fit a plug or make an egg sandwich were irrelevant to me.  At this distance, it seems, I thought that my brothers would do all that stuff while I studiously and smugly concentrated on trying to turn into a combination of The Lady of Shalott, Oscar Wilde and the Emperor Hadrian’s boyfriend.

(My brothers were, and remained, very pragmatically-minded lads.  They once dug a hole and buried a double-bass in it.)

My plan to become the fey and precious aesthete of East Durham didn’t work, though.  I was coaxed and coerced down from my bedroom to peel spuds, do the washing-up and take Paddy for a walk. 

(Ah Paddy - our hugely wonderful pedigree mongrel.  I seem to have spent most of my formative years tramping the streets of Acre Rigg watching his tail wagging happily ahead of me and dreaming my dreams.  If you want to know whose fault I am, it’s his.)

(I suppose I should try and get to the point before this posting gets parenthesised to death.)

This is all by way of saying that the daily operation of a campervan - the electricity supply, the water tanks, the lighting system, the cooker, the magical rearrangement of the seats and cushions to make a double bed - all of this is intimidating in the extreme to someone with an impractical bent like me.  And thats what the marvellous Julie had to contend with when I got my in-depth training course in how it all worked.

‘All you do’ she said ‘is pull this knob here and turn this handle.  As long as you make sure that this light here is on, it should work.‘  Or ‘Open this hatch every day, use this tool to measure the level and, if it’s a bit high, unwind the green hose - NOT the red one - attach it here, close the hatch and press the top right-hand RED button inside the van...’

Julie tried very hard not to talk to me as if I were a cack-handed old fool and generally succeeded.  She admitted later, though, that a process that normally takes 25 minutes at most had just lasted the best part of 90.

Needless to say, it didn’t all sink in.  Which is why, at my very first campsite, I had to call the company’s emergency number to ask how to assemble the bed - a process Julie had shown me.  Twice.

So - just in case you’re thinking of hiring a campervan in New Zealand (or anywhere else) - here’s what happens when you’ve finished the driving part of your day and arrive at your chosen campsite.

Park up at the reception lodge, go in and announce your arrival to the grinning kiwi behind the counter.  Smile very, very sweetly at him/her or you risk being allocated a plot between the toilets, the bar and the bouncy castle.  This actually happened to me at Dunedin.
 At Oamaru.
Note the artistically-connected power supply
You will be given a chart showing where your plot is.  Drive round the site until you find it.  At Blenheim, this took 20 minutes because - quite seriously - I had been holding the chart upside down.

Park up by reversing your campervan as gingerly as possible onto the plot.  This is usually not a problem, unless you’re manoeuvring uphill inches from a family enjoying a lively repast on one side and a group of six children playing rugby on the other, which is what happened at Akaroa.

Take the electricity cable from the back of the van and attach one end of it to the socket on the outside of the vehicle.  This may take a while if you’re me.
I wasn't smiling an hour later, when the bed was still pretty much as you see it here
Attach the other end to the electricity supply post provided on the plot, making sure not to use another plot’s socket.  At Martinborough, another van was using my socket but I didn’t complain.  I was 64, English and alone.  They were in their 30s, Australian - and there were four of them.

Make sure the electricity supply is working by going into the van and switching on a light.

Go back outside and flick the supply button from OFF to ON.  From now on, if you start the van’s engine, the whole vehicle will explode.

Open the hatch and turn on your gas cylinder; fully on to the right, then one turn back to the left (for some reason).

Go inside the van and pick up all of the things that have fallen off shelves and out of cupboards while you were driving so very, very carefully to make sure that nothing fell off shelves or out of cupboards.  This will include books, maps, teabags, spoons and the delicious honey cookies you bought as a treat.

Boil a kettle to make some tea; remember that, to ensure the gasring ignites, you have to turn the knob FULLY on and hold it there for 10 seconds with one hand while, in the other, you have a lighted match rapidly burning towards your fingers.

Wash up a cup for your tea.  If you try to do this without switching on the water pump, the van will explode.  If you turn on the hot water tap without switching the water heater on, the van will explode.

Spend an hour or so trying to figure out how to put the bed up.  When you finally get it done, leave it in place for the rest of your holiday.  You have been warned...
 At Te Anau...
As you can see, I missed the fence by about 2 inches and couldn't open the back doors at all

Give up on the toilet-cum-shower, a space so tiny that you can touch both sides with your shoulders.  The toilet is impossible to use without accidentally kicking the shower nozzle and dousing yourself in ice-cold water (because you forgot to turn the water heater on).  In any case, unless you remember to ‘turn this lever here fully to the left’, using the toilet can become an unexpectedly cathartic experience.

Use the campsite’s toilets and showers instead, although this will involve self-consciously crunching over gravel in the middle of the night and getting hopelessly lost amongst campervans and tents (which is what happened to me at Papamoa Beach).

Close the curtains and go to sleep until the VERY LOUD fridge 6 inches from your head switches itself on at 2 a.m.

In the morning, you will have to check the level of fresh water and top up the tank (using the RED hose).  You will have to check the level of waste water and, if necessary, empty its tank into a dump-hole (using the BLUE hose).  You will have to switch off the water pump and heater, turn off the gas and finally - finally - unhook the van’s mains electricity supply and store the cable.  At Te Anau, I drove off without doing this and the van very nearly exploded. 

By the time I reached Auckland - and the end of my kiwi odyssey - I had just about managed to do all these things properly.  I was ready to adopt my campervan as my new home and give her a name when we had to part company forever.

Just when you manage to conquer your inadequacies, being adequate becomes irrelevant.

* * *
* * *
Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
The Lake Taupo lay-by....see below

The road north-west out of Napier (see posting 501) passes along two immensely long, and incredibly stately, avenues of cocoa palms and passes almost at once into the lush, manicured New Zealand version of Derbyshire or Suffolk that I’d become so used to. 

This  doesn’t last long though.  Soon, the road enters a territory of narrow, shallow valleys and begins to wind and strain along the banks of small rivers that flow down from the hills of the eastern Kaweka Range.  And then the hills themselves begin to close in.  The occasional bare rockface gives way to larger escarpments and the domesticated valleys are gradually transformed into steep-sided, low gorges - rivers tumbling through tight eyelets of stone, the road balanced on its low shelf - twisting with each hairpin turn of the river.

Speed-limit signs aren’t really necessary here; the road itself compels you to navigate nimbly and cautiously; the occasional heavy truck ( - this is a main road, remember - ) slows you down almost to walking pace, which is the pace a driver needs in order to be able to look around a little.

I was driving by an exquisite, small blue lake.  The steep cliff on its far side was draped in conifers - pine and fir and cedar - through which a pencil-thin waterfall shot like a brilliant white streak into the lake below, its foot clothed in a carpet of luxuriant silver fern.

Over the past week or so, I thought I had inured myself against the urge to stop and look, stop and look, stop and look.  That way lies the cul-de-sac of perdition - constant late arrivals at campsites, my only excuse being that I was ‘delayed by breathtaking scenery’ (which is better than ‘leaves on the line’).

A small parking place suddenly appeared under a canopy of silver fern.  “What’ I thought ‘is the point of being in New Zealand for the first and, for all I know, the only time and not stopping when you encounter mind-mangling beauty like this?"

So I pulled over and silently marvelled at it all, as I had done in dozens of other places.

And that’s when things started to go wrong - because I started to think about this blog.

Ever since I'd arrived in Hong Kong, I had taken copious notes in my notebook.  I had made audio-messages for myself on my phone.  I had scribbled thoughts and ideas on the backs of envelopes, pie-wrappers and cake boxes.  I’d tried to write the blog as often as I could but it wasn’t working.

Sensory overload.  I was doing far more than I had the time to describe - seeing more sights, meeting more people, finding more things out.  I looked out at the vision of deep, sylvan perfection all around me and realised that it would take me all evening to write a blog that would do it justice.  And writing the blog would - if done the way I wanted - cut me off from the journey.  Lovingly describing ‘what I did today’ stops you from continuing to do it.

I stared out over the lake for a long time and made an executive decision, as it were.  As on all my other days, I had to choose between hurrying on to my destination to give myself time to draft a blogposting or staying put and lapping up the splendour - and some more L&P.

I chose the splendour - and the L&P.

After today, blogpostings would become weaker and ‘scrappier’; less substantial.  They would become rapid-draft notes and photos and eventually fade away altogether, as I suspected they would.  Sensory overload.  There was simply too much going on, inside and outside my head.  I couldn’t do it AND describe it.  So I decided to do it - and the devil take the hindmost.

This feeling of being utterly unable to write a blog that would say what I wanted it to say has persisted long after my return to England.  I have sat me down, coffee in hand and cat on lap, to draft this blogposting - yes, this blogposting - 18 times and each time have ended up in despair, watering the aspidistras or watching repeats of QI.

Until now...

* * *
My campervan was equipped with GPS/satnav but I’ve never understood how they work so I’d bought a good map instead.  I looked at it and discovered that the road I was on - this winding country lane - was not merely State Highway 5; it was the Thermal Explorer Highway. 

Dismissing cynical visions of travellers in search of woolly-lined long-johns and leggings, I started the engine and - very reluctantly - pulled away from the little blue lake, contemplating the habit that New Zealand’s transport department has of naming roads as well as numbering them.  State Highway 2 yesterday had been the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and, on South Island, I could have travelled along the Alpine Pacific Triangle, the Goldfields Heritage Trail or the Great Alpine Highway.

Perhaps it would enhance our local tourism to call the A1058 the Eastern Sunrise Road or the A66 the Grand Pennine Highway.  You never know.

* * *
I was headed for Taupo and, after it had passed over the mountains, the Thermal Explorer Highway deposited me along one of the dullest stretches of road imaginable.  For well over an hour, the road is perfectly straight, the land is perfectly flat and there’s nothing to see except trees.  Countless millions of them.  The Tauhara Forest Plantations - highly profitable as they are - have the unfortunate side-effect of smothering out the scenery.

Which means that, when you finally reach the end of forest, you have another of those heart-stopping Bloody Nora moments that New Zealand keeps springing on the unwary and wary alike.  Suddenly, you see what the trees have been hiding from you.  Ahead lies a vast inland sea - Lake Taupo - shimmering bluely, as only kiwi lakes seem to be able to do.

And the secret, lonely road through the trees has also transported you through aeons of time because, all around you, the Earth itself has changed.  Geography and geology have altered states and pressed the teleport button; you’re in the land of volcanoes.

I pulled up sharp to gawp.  (This was kiwi gawp number 108.)  I realised that, at the age of 64, I’d never knowingly seen a volcano in my life.  And here I was, surrounded, near and far, by about a dozen of them.

Not one of the photographs I took gives any meaningful indication of the sheer other-worldliness of volcanic scenery.  Geometrically cone-shaped, barren-sided, flat-topped snowy peaks ranging to the distance, laid out like dozing giants.  And that’s all they’re doing:  dozing.  The Thermal Explorer Highway had finally given me something Thermal to Explore.

* * *
Through necessity, Taupo is a tourist town.  It lies at the centre of a maze of National Parks, Conservation Areas and Scenic Routes and stands at the head of Lake Taupo, one of New Zealand’s largest and most beautiful lakes.  But, as tourist towns go, it manages to keep its aesthetic head above water, in much the same way as Keswick or Ambleside do.

I slurped an ice cream and yet another glass of L&P on the lakeside beach.  The lake seemed endless, like the lovely midday sunshine.  A family of black swans swam and then walked and then swam along the foreshore.  Three or four volcanoes with staccato Maori names like Kakaramea and Karatau enclosed the distant horizon.  It was sublime - it really was.

Maybe, I thought, I should just stay here overnight.  Or for the next few days.  Or until Christmas.  Or...

No, of course not.  The Waitomo Caves - still half a day’s drive away - were calling me and I was grittily determined not to include them in all the ‘essential places to visit‘ that I hadn’t visited.

I decided that my loins could only be efficiently girded if I had another hazelnut and kiwi fruit ice-cream and then set off to the west.

My gritty determination lasted less than ten minutes.  I found a remote and empty viewpoint lay-by and pulled over for one last look at Lake Taupo the Beautiful.
The Huka Falls.
Lake Taupo is the source of the Waikato River - New Zealand's longest.
This is where it tumbles out of the lake and begins its journey to the sea at Port Waikato.
I would meet it there a few days later...
* * *
Picture it.

Many hours after I have left Lake Taupo - perhaps even a day or two later - two backpackers discover the same lay-by I had used.  They are called Grant and Amy and they’re from England.  They pull their campervan into the lay-by.  It’s getting late in the day so they decide to stay here by the lakeside for the night.

They make themselves a coffee or, perhaps (knowing Grant and Amy), something a little stronger.

Relaxed and happy on their far-flung holiday, Grant and Amy sit outside on the foreshore amongst the trees and the rocks and watch the sun go down over the lake and the mountains.

I know that this happened, even though I had left the lay-by long before Grant and Amy arrived and have never met them.  I know it happened because, as they watched their glorious Lake Taupo sunset, they noticed something...

* * *

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
My teenage sweetheart's front door...45 years too late...

First things first…

A VERY big Thankyou to everyone for welcoming me home so warmly - and sympathetically.  I suspect that there are a lot of truckshunters who know that empty, deflated feeling (to say the very least) that sweeps over you when a great adventure comes to an end.  Although I’ve already been back for a week, it’s going to take some considerable time for me to 'plug myself back in to real life', as it were.

Or perhaps I just won’t bother.  Perhaps I’ll take Sid’s advice and relieve what has already become a kind of mawkish nostalgia by planning my next journey.  (He was quite right, by the way; I really do wish I could have taken you with me.)

And it’s good to hear from Natasha, isn’t it?  Natasha was one of the Blue Bus programme’s producers and the architect of some of our most memorable moments.  And - although she probably doesn’t realise it - she provided some of the strongest motivation and inspiration for my journey.  More of that in a later blog...

I can only apologise for being so silent for so long.  What on Earth have I been up to?

Where in the world have I been…

Well, now…

I’d be the first to admit that there are lots of things I didn’t get round to doing while I made my way - ‘stately as a galleon’ - around the world.  I didn’t, for example:

- bungee-jump (on medical advice from an optician, of all people)
- bodysurf (on my own advice)
- sailboard (ditto)
- mountaineer (although driving out of Wellington on State Highway One felt like mountaineering)
- whale- and dolphin-watch (seasickness and a general absence of whales - and all other cetaceans - who seem to have decamped to other oceans for the duration)
- scuba-dive (what’s the point?)
- hang-glide (unimaginably unlikely)
- bobsleigh (who wants to travel that fast that far lying on their back - feet first?)
- hurl myself from a broadcasting tower in Auckland with only a piece of reinforced string to prevent my inevitable destruction (although I watched, struck dumb with genuine horror, as others did it)
- slog doggedly over the arches of gigantic cantilever bridges (think Sydney Harbour here) with nothing but an inch of unreinforced steel beneath my feet separating me from oblivion (3 hours uphill at my age? yeah, right)
- jet-boat (see ‘scuba-dive, above)
- jet-ski (ditto)
- eat chocolate-covered millipedes or tree-bark boiled in sago water (culturally and gastronomically unnecessary)
- get a Maori tattoo (I couldn’t make my mind up about the design)
- pay a small fortune to sail languidly through oily water looking at docks (I can do that in Middlesbrough)….

On the other hand, I…

- travelled by tram, bus, ferry, aeroplane, street-car, cable-car and train
- walked and walked and walked for mile after blissful mile through towns and cities and villages and wildlife reserves and country parks and botanical gardens and clifftops
- slept in a decommissioned whorehouse in Singapore
- slept in a decommissioned Opera House (the same building as the whorehouse, curiously)
- won $70 on the Boston City Lottery
- discovered a completely - and extremely delicious - way of brewing coffee in New York City
- drank my first, second and third mugs of bubble tea
- consorted with more honeymooners - and in a shorter time - than ever before (Hello Feung and Cheung, Marine and Guillaume -and several others)
- lived through an earthquake (truth be told, I actually slept through it)
- saw - and heard - the only steam-clock I am ever likely to see - or hear
- got chatted up by a Peruvian weightlifter called Gomez
- saw a Newcastle-built Wearside paddle-tug moored up in San Francisco (it got there under its own steam, too)
- met two deeply unsettling Mormons from Seattle
- got completely and utterly lost seven times
- discovered the Sweet Mystery of Life by consuming far too much California-style French toast
- watched the sun go down over junks on the South China Sea
- fed kangaroos from my hand and
- became acquainted with
   - a New Zealander who lived in New York City
   - a deck-hand from Bristol who lived in Fremantle
   - a couple from the Home Counties who lived in San Francisco (Hello, Mark and Liz)
   - two Belgian pensioners on an art gallery roof (Hello, Kaief and Frida)
   - the man who could easily claim to have the most widely-dispersed family on Earth (his mother lives in Ontario, his father in Buenos Aires, his grandparents in Spain, his brother in Delhi, his other brother in Cairo, his sister in Glasgow; he has cousins in Ecuador, Estonia and London; his wife’s family are from South Africa and his two children live in Australia and Argentina.  I was so astonished that I wrote it all down, as you can see)
   - a blue-eyed penguin called Walter
   - several anonymous seals
   - a gracious Vancouver airport baggage-handler and totem-pole enthusiast called Brad
   - a retired Canadian judge whose ancestors emigrated from Shildon (who wouldn’t?) and
   - two improbably cute and captivating quokkas...
I met my cousin and her family AND my nephews and sister-in-law on their home territories in Perth and Boston for the first time in my life.

I left very special and very tangible memories of my Mam everywhere I went (and thereby hangs a tale that’s not finished yet).

And, after fully 45 years, I knocked at my teenage sweetheart’s front door.

And that’s not even the merest morsel of my adventures.

So - not entirely a waste of time then.

Hey - you aint heard nuthin’ yet!

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


No, I don't mean the gormless English tourist staring back at you from the top step.  I mean the remarkable Ira Schnapp.

Let me explain...
* * *
Five minutes ago, my intention was to leave this posting as a short and hopefully sweet Hello Again.  The photo was supposed to be simple and pleasurable evidence that, just a few days ago, I was standing right there between those lofty columns, in one of the world's great cities having my picture taken by a total stranger to whom I had entrusted my camera (and who turned out to be a Brooklyn bakery assistant called Angela).

I was about to post the blog, indulge myself with a Slow Comfortable Screw and go to bed when I looked at the photograph again.  And something in it caught my eye - something I hadn't previously noticed...

Apart from the numerous pigeons on the left (and the two people indulging them with bagel crumbs), the hobo on the right and the august and sedate figure posing self-consciously between columns 2 and 3, there are the beginnings of an inscription on the building's entablature.

The particularly eagle-eyed amongst you may be able to discern the words 'NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN...'

If you have the wayward taste in music with which I am blessed, those words may have rung bells in your memory that have remained unrung for over three decades.  They form part of the lyrics of a particularly esoteric and mysteriously hypnotic song called O Superman, written and recorded by New York experimental and electronic music artist Laurie Anderson.  It reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1981.

As she wrote and sang them, the words were: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.  These are almost exactly the words of the inscription on the building whose frontage I am adorning.

So now we know what inspired that part of the wonderful Ms Anderson's song.

But - being a truckshunter - I couldn't just leave it at that.  O no.

The building in question is the New York City headquarters of the United States Post Office on 8th Avenue and it was a member of its architectural design team who suggested the inscription.  His name was William Mitchell Kendall and his taste in monumental inscriptions was impeccable.  The words are a translation from the ancient Greek Histories of Herodotus and describe the faithful service of the Persian system of mounted postal messengers under Xerxes I around 2,300 years ago.

From King Xerxes I to Herodotus to the US Post Office to the British pop charts.

And there's more.

The man who carved the words onto the entablature stones was called Ira Schnapp, who went on to design the Action Comics logo and logos for DC Comics - including the Superman logo.

Every picture tells a story.

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