I am autistic myself, and also branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. This entry is a very appropriate starting point because it was my diagnosis and the role I then had running a support group for Asperger East Anglia that led me to create this blog.
B IS FOR BOOKS
I have always loved books, and am a very voracious reader. In addition to my own collection I am a regular user of several of Norfolk’s libraries, and yes I do use them to borrow books.
C IS FOR CRICKET
I have been an enthusiastic follower of cricket for over 3o years (my attempts at playing the game foundered on a chronic lack of talent). The fact that my employers had an auction yesterday and have another on Saturday means that I am off work today, and therefore able to listen both installments of the Women’s T20 double header. Here is the feature image from Saturday’s upcoming auction:
D IS FOR DETECTIVE STORIES
This is an extension of my love of books as a whole. I regularly borrow large quantities of detective ficition from thbe libraries. Among my very favourites are Edward Marston’s Railway Detective stories.
E IS FOR EAST RUDHAM
The village in West Norfolk where I began to rebuild my life after mental health issues had nearly destroyed me. I lived there for just over five years and was a regular visitor until my parents recently moved to Cornwall.
F IS FOR FERRY
I have travelled on many ferries in my lifetime, but the one I particularly think of nowadays is the Lynn Ferry which has been running for over 800 years.
G IS FOR GREECE
I first visited Greece for a family holiday about 35 years ago and have been back mnay times. It remains a favourite holiday location. I have produced a number of posts about my most recent visit.
H IS FOR HISTORY
One of the many subjects I enjoy reading about. One of the reasons I enjoy going to Greece so much is the presence of so many historic sites.
I IS FOR IRRELIGIOUS
I have been a staunch atheist for my entire adult life. For those who take the approach that the Northern Ireland census form used to I am a “catholic atheist” – that being the specific religion that I rejected. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins most people are as atheist as me about almost every god who has ever been believed in – I just go one god further than they do.
J IS FOR JOURNEYS
I love travelling, and being a lifelong non-driver am able to make good use of almost all my journeys – if the route is not familiar to me I will be observing the scenery and taking photographs, and if it is it represents reading time.
K IS FOR KERNOW
Kernow is the Cornish name for Cornwall (this is the only entry in my A-Z that overlaps with The Cornish Maid’s), and although unlike the person who inspired this post I do not live there I have been there a number of times over the years and my parents have recently moved to that part of the world. It is a Cornish picture that appears on the reverse of my personal cards:
L IS FOR LONDON
I grew up in London, and still visit the place on occasion. Also, I run a London Transport themed website, www.londontu.be. I will be back in London during the latter part of next week, for Marxism 2018 which runs from Thursday to Sunday.
M IS FOR MATHEMATICS
Another lifelong interest, and something that I am very good at. Here is a frecnet problem from brilliant.orgthat took my fancy:
N IS FOR NATURE
Nature has always been very important to me, and I love being out and about in nature with my camera for company. My name is often to be found among those supporting campaigns to protect nature, and as a thoroughgoing internationalist I take pride in having been the first non-Swede to sign the online petition to save Trosa nature.
O IS FOR OVAL
Because of their shape many cricket grounds have Oval in their name. The two with which I am most familiar are The Oval, in South London not very far from where I grew up, and served by two stations, Oval and Vauxhall; and the Adelaide Oval, which owes its name to a transplanted Surreyite who suggested it because he wanted to be reminded of home. Of the innings I have seen live at the ground the most memorable at either of these two venues was played by David Gower in 1990. England could do no better than draw the game, which as it happened was enough to give them the series. Gower made 157 in that innings, and by the time he was out the draw had long since been secured.
P IS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
This is a hobby of mine, and also something I do at work. Here are some recent pictures:
Q IS FOR QUIZ
With my eclectic interests and retentive memory I am pretty good at quizzes (unless they are overloaded with questions about pop music), and generally enjoy taking part.
R IS FOR RAILWAYS
Railways are one of my special interests. I have travelled on railways in many different countries and have also built up a decent collection of railwayana. I may add to my collection on Saturday.
S IS FOR SCOTLAND AND SWEDEN
These are two of my favourite countries to visit, both very scenic. I could find no way to split them so I have decided to honour both places.I have produced a number of posts about both Sweden and Scotland. Here are a couple of pics: A view from Strome Castle, Scotland
This river is in Northern Sweden.
T IS FOR T20
Yes – another cricket related entry. T20 (where each side bats for 20 overs) has been a great success since its introductiuon in 2003. However the new 100-balls per side competition is being too clever by half (and consigning the County Championship to the start and end of the season when conditions are least suitable for long form cricket).
U IS FOR UNIVERSE
I find it fascination reading theories about our universe, its possible origins and its possible place in a wider cosmos. I also find the history of how we moved from considering our planet to be at the centre of a fixed universe to recognising it as pale blue dot (hat tip to Carl Sagan who wrote a book of that title) in the immensity of the cosmos to be fascinating.
V IS FOR VARIETY
One of the things I enjoy about my current job is that there is plenty of variety there. I am firmly in the camp of those who say that variety is the spice of life.
WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE
Jerry Coyne’s 2009 book with that title remains a firm favourite (along with his more recent Faith versus Fact), and it is also the title of a blogrun by Professor Coyne that I follow.
X IS FOR EXHORT
As I near the end of this post I exhort you to produce your own version – it is time consuming but fun. You have seen my version, and if you followed the opening link you have seen the version that inspired me to take on this challenge – now go and do likewise!
Y IS FOR YARBOROUGH
This is a bit of a cheat – it is my way of mentioning the game of Bridge which is a firm favourite of mine. A yarborough is a hand with no card higher than a nine and 4-3-3-3 distribution, and is named in honour of Lord Yarborough who had all bridge players at his house contribute a guinea to a kitty, while if someone had the misfortune to be dealt the hand that now bears his name they got 1,000 guineas (he was on to a winner – the actual odds against the hand coming up are 1827 to 1). I do not get to play very often but I am a pretty good player of the game.
Z IS FOR ZOOM
A zoom lens can be a real boon for a photographer (my current camera has a zoom capacity of up to 60X) – a little tip from experience is to not stretch the zoom lens right to its limits – leave a bit of space around whatever you are photographing (you can always crop it out during the editing process). This post was inspired by a Cornish blogger, so I end with a Cornish picture.
The second post in my personal series about #autisticspecialinterests.
Welcome to my second ‘special interests’ post for the month of May. The first, which set the scene can be seen here. The first post dealt exclusively with London, where I grew up. This post looks wider, although it still deals with events from before I was diagnosed. NB – undiagnosed means just that, not diagnosed – it DOES NOT mean “not autistic”.
This overlaps with the first post, because I visited St Petersburg in 1991. The two week visit I made to that city in 1991 was significant in many ways – it was there that I learned to eat a more varied diet, because I was just mature enough to appreciate that it was a choice between eating what was served or not eating at all and make the best of things. Also, because the family I was staying with were living very close to one of its stations I gained a considerable acquaintanceship withe the St Petersburg Metro, and also experienced the trolleybuses and trams that were a feature of daily life there.
Other than being horrendously overcrowded the St Petersburg Metro was a significant improvement on the London equivalent – a far more frequent service, and no delays. Also the underground portions were much deeper than in London, with often two colossally long escalators (far longer than any London equivalent) between the platform and the surface. This was my first major experience of public transport anywhere other than London.
GOING SOLO 1: SCOTLAND 1993
My first solo holiday took place in the summer of 1993, when I travelled to Scotland for two weeks. I travelled all around Scotland in those two weeks. As well as some seriously scenic journeys on mainline railways (I experienced both the lines the head towards Skye among others) I also made the acquaintance of the Glasgow undeground system (a single, circular route).
This holiday was a splendid experience overall, but a mere curtain raiser for…
A SCANDINAVIAN HOLIDAY
This happened in the following summer., Equipped with a rucksack and a two week rail pass for Norway, Sweden and Finland I started by taking a plane to Gothenburg. From there I travelled north, pausing in Stockholm. From Sundsvall I temporarily abandoned trains to take a boat across to Vaasa in Finland. From Vaasa I headed for Helsinki, and then the longest single journey of the trip, to Narvik, the most northerly railway station in the world. I continued my northerly exploration by bus as far as Tromso, before switching to boat for a journey along the coast to Hammerfest, the northenmost town in Norway. I varied my route back by taking a bus from Hammerfest to Alta (a mistake, this place is the Nordic equivalent of Brandon, only with even less appeal). Back in Narvik I selected a bus to Bodo, Norway’s other northern rail outpost. This decision cost me a night spent on the sgtatiopon platform at Bodo before I could head south to Oslo. From Oslo I headed east to Stockholm, and my last journey of the holiday (other than the flight home) was from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Not having previously explored any foreign public transort systems in this kind of detail I was highly impressed. Although there are many ways in which Nordic public transport is a vast improvement on British I note a few things in particular:
Comprehensiveness – although the terrain in these countries is much more difficult than anything in Britain pretty much anywhere of any size has some sort of public transport connection.
Integration – there is not much duplication between bus and train routes. The buses tend to cover the routes that the trains do not. The only small flaw I noted in that first visit to these countries was that en route from Helsinki to Narvik we had to disembark at Haparanda on the Finnish side of the Finland/ Sweden border to transfer to Boden on the Swedish side for the last leg of the journey to Narvik, and even that was handled efficiently.
Reliability – never once in these two weeks, nor in my more recent trip to Sweden, did I encounter a service not running precisely when it was supposed to, and there has never been a two week period in my lifetime when one could be in Britain, travelling by public transoort most days, and get that kind of service.
FUTURE POSTS AND PICTURES
My next post in this series will look at public transport in various cities that I have experience of. Here to end are some public transport themed pictures…
Producing a photographic wall calendar has become a tradition for this blog, and courtesy of a magnificent offer at Vistaprint (25 calendars plus postage for £129) this year’s are now on order (eta with me October 25th). The rest of this post gives you a preview.
Most of the pictures for this calendar come from my Scottish holiday, so they do no relate to particular months. There are one or two exceptions as you will see.
Seeking reader participation in the selection process for the 2018 wall calendar.
When I began covering my holiday in Scotland I brought up the subject of my plans for a 2018 photographic wall calendar, which will be my third such. This post now takes the story forward, and seeks to bring my followers in on the selection process.
Some of these pictures were nominated by Oglach (“Oglach’s Selections“), a couple by my aunt Celia, and the rest are others that I consider especially worth sharing. Most of the selections are Scottish for obvious reasons.
MY AUNT’S PICKS
My aunt Celia nominated two from the return journey from Scotland:
MY ADDITIONAL SCOTTISH SELECTIONS
These are the Scottish pictures that I have selected as possibles on my own:
I have of course shown these before, but for completeness sake here they are again:
These are the pictures from outside Scotland that I consider worth a second look.
You can nominate by commenting on this post identifying the pictures by name. If you right-click on a picture and select “open image in new tab” from the drop-down menu that appears you can see its name. If you have a blog of your own you can nominate by creating a post featuring your choices and putting a link in the comments (this will earn you a reblog as well by the way). Those whose pictures make the cut will be acknowledged on the page(s) that they get in the calendar.
The final post in the series about my holiday in scenic Scotland.
Welcome to this concluding post in my series about a Scottish holiday. In this post we deal with the last stages of my journey home.
AVIEMORE AND THE CAIRNGORMS
Aviemore is the first station the train calls at on its way out of Inverness towards Edinburgh, and also marks one edge of The Cairngorms national park.
DALWHINNIE TO BLAIR ATHOLL
The next stage of the route takes us to Blair Atholl.
BLAIR ATHOLL TO MARKINCH
Markinch is situated two miles from Glenrothes town centre, a fact that is advertised on the platforms.
MARKINCH TO EDINBURGH
The train arrived at Edinburgh so promptly that had it been allowed by my ticket I would have had time to get the 13:30 to London instead of the 14:00. As it was I was glad to be able to take things a bit easy at this interchange, the corresponding one on my journey up having been a little close for comfort.
THE CLOSING STAGES
I located my seat on the express train that would carry me to Peterborough and it was in a designated quiet coach. Unfortunately there was a large family who had been assigned seats in that coach and who did not really understand quietness, so it was not as relaxing a segment of the journey as it should have been. A minor frustration at Peterborough when I stepped out of the station exit just as an X1 was heading off towards King’s Lynn. This half-hour delay notwithstanding I got home dead on 8PM.
Starting the account of my homeward journey. This post covers the first part of the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness rail route.
Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Scottishholiday. This post starts the account of the homeward journey. We are looking at Saturday June 3rd for the record.
Those who recall my post Getting There, will remember that on the outbound journey I had to travel on a replacement bus rather than the railway line for the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh leg of the journey. For the return journey I was on the train, and the railway route is far more scenic than the road route. Thus, this section of the journey warrants more than one post. As for the actual selection of a break off point, Lochluichart stuck in my mind both because of its name and because a large party of students (school or FE I think) who had clearly been on a field trip in the region boarded the train at that station.
I had set the alarm on my phone, but being me actually did not need it, waking up before it was due to go off. Transferring sandwiches and bottle of cooled tap water from the fridge to the bag I intended to keep with me at all times accomplished, my parents were ready to give me a lift down to the station at Kyle of Lochalsh, and we arrived there nice and early. I had been assigned an aisle seat, but the train not being over full (this was a train leaving at 6:11 on a Saturday morning after all) I moved to a vacant window seat later in the journey. As far as Plockton we were of course in an area that I had seen a lot of over the previous week, but the view from the train gave a different perspective.
PLOCKTON TO STROMEFERRY
As one of the photos in my post about Plockton shows, Stromeferry was the original western terminus of the line when it opened in 1870, the Kyle end of the line only opening in 1897. The segment of line between Plockton and Stromeferry is very scenic indeed:
STROMEFERRY TO STRATHCARRON
From Stromeferry the line heads to Strathcarron, the largest settlement in the vicinity of Loch Carron.
STRATHCARRON TO ACHNASHEEN
After Strathcarron, through which we passed on the road route to Applecross – see these posts:
the railway route diverges from anything previously covered as it head rounds to Achnasheen.
ACHNASHEEN TO LOCHLUICHART
As we approached Lochluichart I was amazed to see the platform of this tiny station in the middle of nowhere looking crowded. It turned out that it was the student group referred to in the preamble to this post, and the rest of the journey to Inverness was rather less quiet than hitherto!