As a teenager traveled to and from school, a distance of ten miles a day, by bus.
Quite often I would be quizzed by my mother as to what I'd noticed on the journey and given a 'thick ear' for my lack of observation if I'd missed something. I believe Socrates used to teach in a similar way - teach your student a new fact and give him a slap to ensure retention. Little mother wasn't aware of Socrates methods! The end result was that I carefully observed and it became habitual in that it has made me an observer of life.
On Thursday I took a trip to the coast by train, steam and vintage diesel hauled, in good weather. I went in style and was accompanied by two ladies of a 'certain age' who were garrulous, induced in part by two bottles of prosecco and a vodka each.
It gave me the opportunity on the three hour trip to interact and observe. I have no direct plans to use the interaction between middle-aged ladies but it is stored in the memory banks as are the other experiences of the day.
Once we were travelling, the countryside provided an interesting backdrop as did the first class service delivered on the train. This is a separate set of interactions and experiences from that of the two ladies. This level of environmental stimulation is going on around us all of the time and writers are usually aware of it and use it where relevant.
Steam engine - Galatea
In the experiential stakes there of course was the engine that pulled us for part of the way. In fact I have rarely been photographed as frequently as on this trip. It could have been the steam engine, or the old red livery of the carriages with their table lamps, not really my presence, but children through to the very old waved, and enthusiasts snapped away. Rarely happens to the characterless modern diesel engines. The powers that be talk of HS2 and faster trains but my belief is that a return to steam would attract more custom for all sorts of reasons.
Finally, there is the wealth of opportunity from the harbour and its connections to the sea. So many different scenarios are possible when the sea is close by - travel, fishing, transport storms and so on.
Now some writers would have their notebooks by their sides but I rely on memory, photos and my memo app on my mobile. The point is that the experience is stored and ready to enrich!