Trainspotting. No, not the film, but the much mocked activity of writing down the numbers of trains you have seen in service. It's one of those activities that is now associated with grubby men at the end of Crewe station platform with gadgets and anoraks. Back in the 1970s it seemed most of my mates were ardent spotters. Even though we missed the age of steam by a few years it was an obsession of the young. We had a Railway Society at school, but much more fun were unofficial trips which would be taken to sheds at Derby, Crewe, Wigan and Carlisle to try and spot rare diesels. Guerilla raids would be made on hard to reach depots like Toton in the East Midlands to see the engines that only worked goods lines. Incredible times.
I always felt I missed out because I'd never seen a class 76 Electric which ran on a back line between Manchester and Sheffield. I now see the old electric gantries every day on the line between Guide Bridge and Piccadilly.
At different times all of our boys have really liked trains, which has been good fun and a focus for trips to York and to the East Lancashire Railway. Suffice to say, I have not complained.
And why the nostalgia for this today? We're down to just the one child this weekend. I asked Elliot what he'd like to do with this special Daddy and Mummy time, coaxing him towards a trip to Ramsbottom to step onto the footplate of a Black 5 steamer. His response: "No thanks, Dad."