Wednesday, March 26, 2008

You always suspected I was a train spotter didn’t you...

When I travelled to Auckland at the end of last month I flew up and took the train home, the trip before that I took the train both ways. I’m a train kind of chap.

Upon telling people that I was taking the train I more often than not was greeted with looks of horrified anguish as if I was electing to take a place on the crucifixion. The horror of slowly travelling the country and taking in the sights it seems is just too much for most folk I talked to. Once on the train I always seem to be surrounded with people as pleased with the experience as I am, sometimes even some who are positively enthralled by the experience. As I returned from Auckland I mulled all this over in my head and came to the conclusion that there are train people and non train people, those who want to explore the country and take it all in and those who want to get from a to b as quickly as possible. Similarly there are those who want to search out fantastic beers and enjoy the experience and there are those who want to ingest alcohol in the quickest and most convenient manor possibly.

I often describe myself as a train spotter although when I say this I mean I have an eccentric passion for beer, breweries and real ale rather than for locomotive serial numbers. I do however have a lot of time for real train spotters’, in fact I have a lot of time for anyone who has passion for an ‘eccentric’ subject. In fact I would rather surround myself with eccentric fanatics than

those who are content to dwell in the beige-ness of the middle road. I have a friend who is obsessed with the American Mid West, another who can talk film for days, their eyes light up when they talk about what they love, it’s great.
As for the train trip as always it was fantastic, the only downside being that a bottle of wife beater was the best beer I could get.


Anonymous said...

good post kieran. these days i usually take the plane, though sometimes drive, but i'm a confirmed train lover and certainly next time we got to germany and the UK i want to take the train between the two now that there's a direct link between cologne and london.

back in '99 i did the trip from adelaide to perth across the nullarbor plain (2 nights) with the assistance of two bottles of fortified wine and a great book about nat young the surfer. fantastic - a slow crawl for 40-odd hours.

and later in the year i'm planning something a bit similar to what you did - i've got a trip to chch planned and will probably take the ferry/train down, and fly home. apparently it is a cool trip and since it's a very long time since i've even driven down the kaikoura coastline it should be fantastic.

But with the warning about 'wife-beater' being the best beer on offer, i may well endeavour to pack a small stash of home brew to tide me over.

Martin said...

I certainly intend to do the rail journey between Auckland and Wellington sometime. I like trains, although I wouldn't allow you to call me a trainspotter.

And surely a man of your means should not be reduced to wifebeater?! For shame, sir!!

The Beer Nut said...

When I visited New Zealand I did every journey I could by train. In fact I built the whole itinerary around spending my 30th birthday on the TranzAlpine from Greymouth to Christchurch (Monteith's visit in the morning; evening pints in Dux de Lux).

I'd imagine being a trainspotter in New Zealand is like being a beer hunter in Ireland: it takes about a week to have the complete set.

Bailey said...

Nice post, Kieran. On our trip to York the other week, we were sat next to some Fred Dibnah-alike trainspotters who were able to identify specific trains by the sounds of their horns: "That's a '66, isn't it?"

I'm not that interested in trains, per se, but traveling by train is the only way to go. Hippies that we are, we haven't flown for almost five years. The train down the Rhine on our last Germany trip was tremendously romantic.

Paul Garrard said...

Fantastic post!
Trains are great, and most of the time are a very civilised way to travel.

You get anoraks connected with most interests but I think you are right that the sort of person that enjoys a train ride would probably savour a really good beer.