I live in Altrincham, Cheshire, UK. I work for Alstom Transport as an Electronics Engineer at the Preston site (see my Professional Details page for more information).
My main interests and hobbies are Computers, Listening to Classical Music and Railways.
I have been involved with computers for many years. I started at school (in 1976) using cards and a batch processing system at the local Town Hall. At University I had access to an ICL mainframe for course work (and a PDP11/20 for other work!). My first personal computer was the UK-designed Nascom 1, which I built in 1979 from a kit. This had a 2MHz Z80, 1K video RAM, 1K user RAM and used a domestic television for a monitor. Thus started my interest in computer hardware and assembly language. I later expanded the Nascom 1 to 64K RAM with twin 400KB disk drives.
In my work during the 1980s I was involved with projects using firstly the Intel 8085 then the 8051 and 8096/80196 processor families. These projects were all "embedded controllers" for industrial use - Programmable Logic Controllers, Motor Speed Controllers etc. My software work includes using Assembly Language as well as PL/M (a micro-controller language similar in many ways to Pascal) and later C, C++ and C#.
My first "real" PC was a portable 286 machine. I later progressed to a 20MHz 386 in their early days, then to a home-brew 120MHz 486, then a 333MHZ Pentium -II. I currently run several desktop and laptop computers.
I am heavily involved with computers and embedded systems on a professional basis (see my Professional Details page).
I am Webmaster for the Enthusiast's Guide to Travelling the Railways of Europe and for Interessengemeinschaft zur Bereisung von Straßenbahn- und Eisenbahnstrecken e.V., plus several other websites.
I enjoy listening to most forms of "Classical" music, from early Baroque to many (but not all) modern pieces. My preference is for instrumental and orchestral music, but I am happy listening to vocal music as well.
I used to play the Viola on an amateur basis in String Quartets and Orchestras, starting at School then at University. Unfortunately due to a lack of spare time this has lapsed.
I suspect that my interest in Railways started when I used to go on holiday by train with my parents from Staffordshire to Devon in the early 1960s. These treats stopped when they got a car, and train travel was minimal until I started at University in 1976. During the first half of the 1980s I commuted 40 miles each way every day by train, and met one or two like-minded enthusiasts.
Over the four years up to 1986 I travelled over every piece of British Rail's passenger system; also many special trains were being operated over non-passenger routes and this got me interested in "unusual routes" and "freight lines". Up to October 1985 I had never been abroad at all (except for once, when aged 11, to Germany with my Junior school) but then went on a freight-line trip in the Pas-de-Calais area of northern France.
This hooked me on French Railways. By 1991 I had travelled over every section of French Railways passenger track - a much more difficult proposition than British Rail! I have varied my travelling much more in recent years, as can be seen below:
The alphabetical list below shows my approximate percentage "coverage" of the passenger track in each country I have visited:
N.B. Countries marked with a "*" are where new routes have opened since I completed the 100%.
Further afield, when travelling on business:
I have compiled some reports of my own overseas visits for your interest and information, and have also included some of my large collection of photographs.
My main interest, as you can see, is in the "travelling over routes" aspect of Railways. Other Railway-oriented interests include (all UK and abroad):
I have no particular interest in steam engines as such (I am too young to remember them in regular service).
I am definitely not, and never have been, a "Trainspotter"!
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