Once again, this year, I have had an early Christmas present of a steam-hauled train journey from Newcastle to London Kings Cross on the Tynesider Special hauled by Class A4 Pacific 4-6-2 60009 Union of South Africa. This journey was special for me as it was the first time that I had gone the full distance down the East Coast Mainline steam-hauled, after having been up and down this route numerous times on more modern traction.
|60009 Union of South Africa in Newcastle
More than simply a journey, as a person with Asperger's Syndrome and also from a mindfulness perspective, a steam-hauled journey is also a sensory experience. Unlike on a normal modern train, as a passenger on a steam-hauled train, because in this day and age it is not obviously the norm to travel by steam-hauled train, one gets in touch with the with the distinctive sounds made by the locomotive, the smell of smoke and also, a feel of the gradient profile of the line. Whereas one is largely oblivious to gradients on a railway line when travelling on modern traction with modern suspension systems, including tilt trains, when going up steeper gradients on a steam hauled train, it can be quite a drama hearing the locomotive working hard and giving off huge clouds of smoke and exhaust steam, almost like a marathon runner taking longer breaths while working hard in getting up steep inclines of the route. So having been up and down this route numerous times, I haven't felt I have known the East Coast Mainline in such finer detail until now.
|On the footplate!
Apologies if I have gone on too much about trains in this blog reverting to the Asperger tendency to go off on a tangent about a special interest, so I guess now is the time to change the subject. Meanwhile, back at Autism Works, as some may have already seen on Facebook, we have entered into a formal partnership with Socitm, who will be marketing our services under our trading name see:detail. Socitim is the professional body that represents people involved in the leadership and management of IT and digitally-enabled services for public benefit. Socitim's CEO Adrian Hancock is particularly optimistic about not just providing exceptional service in software testing, but also enabling Socitim to further fulfil its mission in embedding social value into public and private sector supply chains. Additionally, this could also be an opportunity for Autism Works to raise awareness of autism and Asperger's Syndrome through supply chains, enabling awareness with mainstream employers across all sectors, not just within IT.
More updates will follow as to how this partnership develops via our social media feeds.
Special thanks to driver David Blair and fireman Neal Woods for letting me come onto the footplate on 60009 Union of South Africa and to the Railway Touring Company for their hospitality.
RIP Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013. One of my favourite quotes from his long walk: 'After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb'. Let's hope Mandela's inspiration will encourage us to climb these hills.