5x12 pentomino tiling

Fifty at Fifty


I've already mentioned to a few people that I've been mulling over for a while now what to do in 2010 as it's when I hit 50. When I was 40 I had a proper job and we had probably the best party I've ever held1 but I'm in a curious position this time around because with my health being as it is I'm now self employed and only part time at that for quite a lot of the time.

This both closes some doors and opens others.

One thing I had thought about was doing some more train travel. I like travelling by train. A lot. I also have a disabled rail card so I get one third of the price of any ticket, even during peak times, which is handy.

Anyway I mentioned this to Beth today and she came up with a "fifty at fifty" idea: fifty train journeys undertaken in my fiftieth year2. We discussed the definition of "journey", for example getting to Edinburgh normally takes me on three different trains so we didn't want to be a synonym for "train" and hence count as three journeys. Going to the other extreme if I counted the trip out and back as one "journey" that would be a bit unfair if I did a multi-day trip to somewhere, which might involve more than one night away moving (by train) between nights. So our current working definition is that I would count each day on which I used the train as a journey.

So my target would be that on fifty days in 2010 I would travel somewhere by train.

That means that if I only did day trips I would be travelling one day a week. But some trips would be longer: for example I normally go to Edinburgh in August for a long weekend at the festival so that would be two journeys: there and back so it would probably work out more like one weekend in two on average which sounds like it could be a challenge without becoming a chore and hence could end up being fun.

OK. That's the rules. So what am I going to do? Well that's where I'm hoping for some ideas. I've got a few of my own already:

  • Edinburgh for the Festival (of course)
  • To Skye via Mallaig, then along to the Kyle of Lochalsh by bus to use the other line to head home
  • To Thurso (the northern most station in the UK).
  • Possibly then by ferry to the Orkneys, then back to Aberdeen to get a different train home
  • To Penzance, the most southern and western station but also to travel on that great line which goes along the coast
  • Around north west Wales, partially via steam which I think is now possible
  • Around the Lake District on that little line that runs along the coast
  • To Cosford to visit RAF Cosford
  • To visit some preservation lines which are easy to get to by train like the North Norfolk, the North York Moors, the Severn Valley and the Somerset and Dorset (the last two being lines I've yet to visit and have long been on my list)
  • Along the Settle to Carlisle railway, perhaps stopping at Horton-in-Ribbledale to slip in a walk up Penyghent or Ingleborough.

I also want to fit in at least one Eurostar trip to somewhere fairly easy for me to be extracted from if things do awry with my health. Cologne comes to mind.

There will, how could you doubt it, be a blog. My new phone and contract means I will be able to post both text and images while on the move so I can keep you all up to date.

So that's the plan. What do you think? I also need lots more ideas for places to go to by train so if there's anywhere you think I might like then do pipe up.

I'm also wondering if there's anything else I could do fifty of in 2010, possibly while making these journeys. Visiting fifty churches say, or walking to fifty trig points (a poor man's version of Munro bagging but you get the idea). So if you've got any ideas for that let me know.

  1. We had about 50 people to supper, a takeaway Thai from The Wrestlers, which we served on our drive on trestle tables borrowed from the scouts. The complication was that the forecast turned very dodgy (as is often the way for my birthday) so I constructed a car port all the way down our drive the day before using bits of wood and plastic sheeting. This was a good call as supper was partaken in a thunderstorm. One of the high spots for us after everyone else had gone home or to bed was slashing the plastic, now full of water, with our Swiss Army knives and getting completely soaked. We both found this hilarious at the time - but we had had a lot of beer.
  2. Yes, yes, I know that arguably I'm already half way through my fiftieth year, so sue me.

Tags: trains Written 01/12/09

Previous comments about this article:

On 01/12/09 at 8:44pm John Mullen wrote:

well Paul, we will be living in the Paris region again from september 2010, so you're welcome to come stay!

On 01/12/09 at 10:30pm Paul wrote:

Since I wrote the above people have come up with some more suggestions including David who says he'll come with me from Belfast to Derry (the latter is his home town) and as I can get to Belfast by train I think that's a go. I could also go there via the Isle of Man, which would add extra value as they have a little railway too

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