Amateur radio has been shrinking my world for sometime now. The Internet has shrunk it even more and it keeps getting smaller. Last night it shrank some more as far as I was concerned. Making friends in other parts of the world has always been a strong attraction of ham radio to me, particularly as I am not well travelled. Having a large (for modern times) family has meant that travelling abroad has been so expensive as to not justifiable.
The Internet and my wife Helen's interest in genealogy has put us in touch with cousins in the US, Canada and relations all over the UK. Facebook has enabled these brief exchanges of information to turn in to something a bit more special. We can keep in touch and up to date as to what is going on in each others lives. It was great when I got to meet our cousins from across the Atlantic and for me that made a far away place seem closer and a photograph became a real person.
Through the radio I have many friends the world over and some of them have become people I keep in touch with off the air via Facebook and/or our respective blogs. Photographs and videos posted on Flickr, Youtube and the like allow me to keep following their adventures as well. One of those is Mads LA1TPA. Mads is over in the UK for a QRP conference and to do some SOTA.
Yesterday I was up at 05:30 and by 6AM I was on my way in to work. After a particularly bad 12 hour shift I arrived home at 19:30 with plans to eat shower and fall in to bed. I had just taken my plate back in to the kitchen when my mobile phone rang. No one ever rings my mobile so it took me by surprise, it was Mads. He had just checked in at a hotel about two miles from my home. Suddenly I found some energy from somewhere and dived into the shower, dressed and headed out with Helen to meet Mads and his party in the hotel bar.
Radio amateurs tend to be a friendly bunch and Mads and his pals were no exception. It was great to meet Mads LA1TPA, Aage LA1ENA, Kjell LA1KHA and Halvard LA1DNA for several hours of chat over a few pints of Guinness. It shrank my world a little bit more and the guys became a bit more than just a voice on the radio and a photograph. I just wish I was not working tonight or I would have joined them on their Summits on the Air activations. I hope to make a contact with them later this morning from a couple of my local hills.