As I write this entry, today is the last day of November. Normally, I don't like to do too much Christmas-related stuff until the beginning of December, but this year, Christmas has already come a month earlier, as I fulfilled a childhood dream of being steam-hauled down the East Coast mainline! Those who have read my first book and as others may have gathered from previous blog entries, may well know ho much I enjoy train journeys, including the train journeys to places where I am giving talks, seminars and workshops, but this experience was special. Though I have previously travelled on steam-hauled journey's on preserved heritage railways, this was my first ever mainline steam-hauled experience. The 'Tynesider Special' was hauled by A4 Pacific 60009 Union of South Africa, from the same class of steam locomotives as the famous 4498 Mallard, which holds the official world record speed for steam traction, reaching 126mph on 3rd July 1938. The moment Union of South Africa arrived at the platform at York Station, I felt like a child on Christmas Day! Christmas also came early for the children on board when Father Christmas and his elves came around handing out presents The atmosphere on board the train, with the Christmas decorations in old-fashioned carriages, was really run as the smoke flew past the windows!
|60009 Union of South Africa at King's Cross, London
Alongside providing employment, one of Autism Works other aims was contributing to enabling better quality of life to adults on the autistic spectrum. As readers of this blog may remember, last year, I took a city break to Prague with Dan Cottrell, one of Autism Works first two Software Test Analysts. Dan also accompanied me on the Tynesider Special for what was his first visit to London in ten years, which I was surprised about. Making use of out time in London, we visited the British Museum before being diesel-hauled home. For Dan, who has been with us for nearly two years, Autism Works has certainly been an eye-opener not just professionally, but also socially. Be sure to keep following this blog to find out about our next adventure - a Christmas weekend break in Brussels. Don't forget also to keep circulating the following link to my Kilimanjaro challenge to raise much needed-funds for Daisy Chain at http://bit.ly/L2eWtp
A huge thank-you to the Rt Hon Sharon Hodgson MP for highlighting our work in Parliament and her continued interest in ESPA and Autism Works. Special thanks also to the Railway Touring Company for their fantastic hospitality on board the Tynesider Special, and for 60009 Union of South Africa, a performance to be proud of!