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Train Spotting

There are things about train spotting that I have enjoyed, but it’s not a passion. This has already given me an idea for another blog post on the theme of how I confuse people so that they end up saying “But I thought you liked [this thing]?”

So this is just a straightforward list of what I enjoyed about going train spotting with my dad and his other train spotter friend in the late 1970s.

  • The excitement of seeing rare trains. For me this wasn’t any of the old steam engines but simply a type of diesel-electric train that didn’t come through our local station very often.
  • Learning how to identify the different types of diesel-electric train, and having this confirmed by reading the “Class number” of the train as it passed.
  • The sensory joy of underlining numbers in “Motive Power” in ballpoint pen, with a ruler.
  • The smell of vending machine coffee on my fingers, the Nestle Crunch bar I always had with the coffee.
  • The throbbing of the engines as they pulled away
  • The smell of hot brakes on the stone train (i.e. the train that carried stone & which had very hot brakes because it had stopped at the station carrying tonnes and tonnes of stone)
  • The silence of distant lights in the cold, dark, evening

You’ll probably notice that a lot of this is about sensory things. I once went to Crewe (UK train spotter central) to see lots of trains parked up in a shed / museum, and was quite underwhelmed because they weren’t moving (making noise, smells etc).

So yes, I’ve enjoyed aspects of train spotting and there is a lot of read-across about categorising things that appears in my other hobbies, but I wouldn’t call myself a train spotter.


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