This week’s question from PCGuyIV is about those hobbies and pastimes that we enjoy that may seem a little strange to others.
What’s something that you thoroughly enjoy doing that others might find a bit odd? What makes it so enjoyable?
We’re all different so what I think is a perfectly normal way to spend my time might seem very odd to you even if it is a common or popular hobby. We often think that things that we would not enjoy ourselves are weird. I think base jumping is a weird hobby but I’m petrified of falling so of course I wouldn’t like it or understand why anyone would want to do it.
Anyone who has read this blog more than a couple of times knows that I love trains and train travel. When I was a teenager I discovered that the local railway historical society ran regular steam train excursions around Adelaide and to various country destinations. Naomi and I went for the first time when I was I think 13 and she was 11. We had to get mum to take us and it was only a school holiday special but we got hooked and by the following year we were allowed to go alone. For the next few years we did trips as often as we could afford, travelling to all sorts of events at country towns and even on overnight trips where, because of our lack of money, we camped in the carriages at night.
Was this an odd hobby for two young teenage girls? A lot of people would think so. The vast majority of the people who went on these trips were much older than us. There were a lot of middle aged or elderly couples and some families but most of the die hard railfans were men who often came with a few mates. They were the ones with expensive cameras, complicated tape recording equipment or notebooks to record details of freight movements, wagon numbers or some other railway trivia. They were always surprised to find us there with our instamatic cameras but we were always made to feel welcome and never felt unsafe.
Why did we find it so enjoyable? Well, first of all we just loved the steam engines. If you have never been around them it’s probably hard to imagine the sounds, the smells. To me, a steam locomotive seems almost like a living being. At the end of a trip when we arrived back in Adelaide I always used to try to pat the locomotive before we left.
Secondly, it was freedom. We were allowed to go off on our own for the day or for the weekend. We could visit places we never would have gone to otherwise. We often stood on the end platforms of the older carriages or in a doorway to enjoy the view and feel of scenery rushing by. We met lots of nice people and had good chats with them too. It was on one of these trips that I met David for the first time.
Although I only had a simple Kodak Instamatic camera when we started going I loved taking photos and we were able to participate in photo stops where we’d often have to climb over a fence into a field, up a hill or walk across a bridge to get our photos. Of course those early photos were not very good but I did start to learn what worked and what didn’t.
Today you can’t do many of the things we did then because of public liability and also because I’m not fit enough to get off a train when there is no platform or steps. Many of those train lines have now been torn up too. But anytime I can get to a preserved steam railway I’m there.