Autistic Special Interest 1: Public Transport II

The second post in my personal series about #autisticspecialinterests.

INTRODUCTION

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”.

ST PETERSBURG

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…

86
Lot 86 in our next auction – see my post about my first week as a commuter on the Lynx njumber 49 re the rarity of such uncut cigarette cards

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110
Lot 110
181
Lot 181

181-a

199
Lot 199 – second behind on lot 86 on my wanted list…
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…not least for this.
200
Lot 200
223
Lot 223
224
Lot 224
278
Lot 278

 

 

The Aspi.blog 2018 Wall Calendar

Announcing the new calendars.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE CALENDARS

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.

This is the locomotive that pulled the Jacobite train when I travelled it.
The January picture features the Skye Bridge
This shot was taken on the journey from Plockton to Applecross – it was nominated by Oglach, who blogs at natriobloidi.wordpress.com
This classic stone bridge can be seen on the Isle of Skye. 
One of the minority of pictures in this calendar that was not taken in Scotland.
Back to Scotland, with this paddle steamer.
This picture was taken in June – another Scottish classic.
Bawsey Abbey, taken on July 27th – nominated by my mother.
This was taken during an NAS West Norfoilk organised trip to a beach hut at Old Hunstanton.
Lock Gates, captured through the window of the Jacobite train, near Fort William.
Boats near Plockton, through the window of the train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness (nominated by my aunt Celia)
A view of Kyle of Lochalsh from above.
A section of the Glenfinnan Viaduct (the actual viaduct over which the Hogwarts Express passes in the films).

The 2018 Wall Calendar

Seeking reader participation in the selection process for the 2018 wall calendar.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE CANDIDATES

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:

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MY ADDITIONAL SCOTTISH SELECTIONS

These are the Scottish pictures that I have selected as possibles on my own:

through the windowstepped waterfall (1)ruined castle11607150915011433Skye and Wester Ross 2The Iron Road to the Isles1426

Steamer5
One of these steamer pictures will definitely feature.

Steamer4Murchison Monument2

Farewell to the Jacobite
I may assemble a composite image of several “Jacobite ” pictures.

Loco at rear of trainlock gates

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At least one of these Glenfinnan Viaduct pictures will feature.

GV3GV2GV1P1010044Jacobite train long viewJacobite Loco 3Jacobie Loco3Jacobite Loco2Jacobite LocoJacobiteIIThe JacobiteFront of LocoBeetleblack highland cowstepped waterfall

single span bridge 2
Bridges on Skye will definitely feature somewhere.

The Land of the Mountain and the Floodstone bridge 2stone bridgeSingle span bridgeBridge complex 1Stone bridgeSkye Bridge from aboveKyle of Lochalsh from above

Balmacara House to Craggan Cottage2
This is the stretch of Loch Alsh on which Ferry Cottage, where we stayed, sits.

Double Framed Lighthouse

OGLACH’S SELECTIONS

I have of course shown these before, but for completeness sake here they are again:

Valleytwo cascades800793784768756755748812804

NON-SCOTTISH PICKS

These are the pictures from outside Scotland that I consider worth a second look.

P1020447P1020432P1020327P1020007Flying gullP1020094Renewable energy 7Renewable energy 6Renewable energy 5Renewable Emergy4renewable energyrenewable energy 2Cliff formation from Old Hunstanton BeachRNLI Hovercraft1Flying bird 1Flying bird 2

NOMINATIONS

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.

Scotland – The Last Post: Inverness to Peterborough

The final post in the series about my holiday in scenic Scotland.

INTRODUCTION

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. 

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DALWHINNIE TO BLAIR ATHOLL

The next stage of the route takes us to Blair Atholl.

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BLAIR ATHOLL TO MARKINCH

Markinch is situated two miles from Glenrothes town centre, a fact that is advertised on the platforms. 

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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.

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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. 

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Scotland – Homeward Bound: Lochluichart to Inverness

Continuing the account of the homeward journey, taking the story up to Inverness (Inbhir Nis).

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my series about my holiday in Scotland. This post continues the story of the journey home picking up where it’s predecessor left off at Lochluichart.

LOCHLUICHART TO INVERNESS

This part of the journey is not as impressive as its predecessor, but I did still get some good pictures.

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Scotland – Homeward Bound 1: Ferry Cottage to Lochluichart

Starting the account of my homeward journey. This post covers the first part of the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness rail route.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Scottish holiday. This post starts the account of the homeward journey. We are looking at Saturday June 3rd for the record.

WHY LOCHLUICHART?

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. 

DEPARTURE

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.

1361136213631364136513661367136813691370137113721373137413751376Plockton

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:

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STROMEFERRY TO STRATHCARRON

From Stromeferry the line heads to Strathcarron, the largest settlement in the vicinity of Loch Carron.

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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.

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Spot on for a floral display at a train station!

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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!

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Scotland: Craft Ale From The Isle Of Skye

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another installment in the series about my Scottish holiday. This post deals with one particular aspect of the whole week. 

THE ISLE OF SKYE BREWERY PRODUCTS

My first encounter with the products of this local brewery which specialises in  craft ales was on the Saturday, at Hector’s Bothy. I also sampled some of their product at lunch on the Isle of Skye on the Tuesday, and a selection box of four bottles from Kyle of Lochalsh Co-op enabled my to broaden the range of my sampling. All these ales have a strength of between 4 and 4.5%. Here now are my findings about each the ales I drank:

  1. Skye Blaven (blue label on bottle): a perfectly fine craft ale, albeit the least impressive of this particular selection.
  2. Skye Red – a rich, full flavoured drink. The fact that I rated this one third of the four is credit to the top two, not in any way discredit to this one.
  3. Skye Gold – a heavily hopped ale which also features a highly unusual ingredient – porridge oats. This is a delicious drink, and it would require something special to keep this one out of the top spot, but fortunately for me this brewery has something else that is not merely special but absolutely unique…
  4. Skye Black – a unique craft ale, because it contains oatmeal. The result of the combination of the oatmeal with malted barley, hops, yeast and water is a truly remarkable drink. Imagine the finest stout you have ever encountered and then ramp the quality up from that and you get somewhere close to just how good this drink is.

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SG1
At some stage in this series I will be producing a post about the craft ales produced by the Skye brewery.