The once popular pastime of train spotting is almost dead and buried today.
The attractive locomotives and trains of yesteryear rest in museums now and the only people seen on platforms like Hounslow or Feltham are waiting to be transported east or west in identical trains of four or eight coaches.
Nobody looks twice at the sort of train that is pulling into the station except that the ones with red-coloured coaches have no toilet facilities, while the more numerous blue coloured ones do including those even with access to passengers in wheelchairs.
The hobby of plane spotting is going much the same way as train spotting but not to the same extent because there are so many different airlines and a multiplicity of airliner types in use.
Viewing aeroplanes from a special spectators' rooftop above Queen's Building at Heathrow Airport has not been possible for some years now and an alternative place along the Bath Road, called the Visitors Centre, is closed and is used for other things.
There are still some plane spotters around and they can carry out their viewing and recording in the nearby car park. No place to sit down but not so long back someone put up a fairly permanent sort of structure where people could stand and use their binoculars and spyglasses.
It can scarcely be called a shelter because, although it has a high metal roof, all sides are open and little or no protection is provided from the elements. I'm not sure who was responsible for this metal structure but it was obviously designed by someone with little empathy for the spotters for whose use it is intended.
Can something not be done to make this metal building more comfortable? There are no seats and the wind whistles from every direction. The high roof will not give much protection from driving rain but it is only really a sunshade for summer days around noon.
When the Visitors Centre building is closed, as it usually is at weekends, no toilet facilities exist.
The people who mainly come to this place to look at planes landing and taking off are men. Plane spotting is not a pastime of women, it seems.
Could not a French-style 'Gentleman's convenience' be sited nearby? The kind that stands in the parkland near Orleans Road in Twickenham would be suitable for those who wished to 'spend a penny'.
Nothing elaborate but the kind one used to see throughout France for male customers.
Plane spotters are not being looked after very well, especially those in the Dad's Army category. Not a substantial bush or tree in sight when nature calls, as it does not infrequently in the wintry weather.
JIM PASQUAL Estridge Close, Hounslow.