You can lead a horse to water, but to do so you first need a horse.

Last weekend was interesting, it was the first weekend of August and looking back at figures for the last ten years or so it was not going to be busy at the station. It’s the weekend where the locals are coming back off holiday having gone as soon as school broke up for the summer.

Actually having said that ticket sales were not bad both Saturday and Sunday but there was hardly anybody about to avail themselves of what was on offer in the shop.

The locals were either still away or in hiding, the weather did not help with rain on both days at some stage. Almost all those we spoke to were visiting the area and staying locally, I think in most cases they visited the railway purely for something to do for either the day or the afternoon.

There were highlights however, the best being a swan in the middle of the track when one of the services was approaching from Wansford. The driver I think it was got off and chased the swan away. It was observed from the station platform with some amusement as the swan was far fitter and faster than the driver. To paraphrase a saying, the sights you see when you don’t have a camera!

The weather is not on our side this summer, certainly I hope we will be busier through the rest of August and into September, we have some good events planned but it is as always in the lap of the weather gods. I don’t look at the long term weather forecast simply because it changes so often. But hopefully the sun will make more appearances than it has been, we shall wait and see with interest.

Old Codgers and are you giving back to the community?

Well last weekend was pretty average, the odd shower did not help, and by shower I am referring to the weather not potential visitors to the railway.

Saturday saw both Tom & Harry helping me at the station, before anybody asks I have no idea where Dick was so we could have had the complete set.

During a lull in the lull that was the day the two of them decided to sample the old codgers corner we have at the station. Here they are doing everything most users do except spend money.

They are I gather open to offers to play the ugly sisters in any local pantomime production over the Christmas period.

Also with us on Saturday was Rosemary doing her normal garden maintenance.

This brings us to Sunday. Now on Sunday as is normally the case Sue my wife was with me, and unusually Rosemary turned up for a second day doing the garden. Though personally I suspect she turned up to compare notes with Sue as my behaviour.

As is normal on most Sundays we had the probation service with us doing community payback, and I think it’s fair to say they do an excellent job along most of the railway. Anyway, Rosemary because she is trackside when doing the garden wears a high-vis as do the people undertaking community payback. To cut a long story short which I know is unlike me, one of the lads doing community payback asked Rosemary how many hours she had left to do on community payback. This caused much amusement amongst those present and will be a story that will in the fullness of time pass into railway legend.

Finally on Sunday 92 Squadron hauled the services and on the front was the small loco group headboard. Here is a picture.

Looking at the size of 92 Squadron I could not help wonder what any large loco group would play with locomotive wise?

So there we have it an amusing weekend in more ways than one…

 

 

I had planned a masterpiece.

After the previous weekend and the rude visitor I had great hopes for last weekend, and thought the time was right for a literary masterpiece in the blog.

However it was not meant to be, and whilst we had some really nice people in both weekends, the weather was generally dismal and we were quiet.

As I have said before most of my cafe business comes from regulars who are locals and if it’s dismal they don’t tend to venture out.

So my masterpiece is on hold, as it appears is summer.

Let us see what this coming weekend brings, the forecast is it will bring showers. I hope the weather is incorrect!!

Just when you think you have seen it all.

Last Sunday I had Jason with me and we witnessed what must rate as the rudest customer we have had in over ten years of running the station.

Let me set the scene.

Stars of this experience were a middle aged man and a younger woman with a young child.

They got off the train together as it went into the city centre and came into the station.

Coffee was bought with a couple of other things. All fine so far.

Then the woman asked two questions. Did we have a rest room, and did we have wi-fi? When the answer to both questions was no she loudly asked the man why he had bought her to a shitty railway and a shitty station. Then she went into sulk mode whilst the man spoke quietly to the child. She messed about with her mobile phone, moaning the whole time.

This culminated in the child trying to do a runner out of the station building, the woman went to catch her and in the process knocked the coffee over.

To the staff there was not a sorry or anything, they just left it and went out to the platform to wait for the train. We were left with a table covered in coffee that was dripping onto the floor and a now empty poly cup. There was a half hearted sorry to believe it or not the person in charge of the probation service workers who just happened to walk through the door, and this was from the man, he looked at Jason and I, said nothing and left the station building.

It must be said that the man did look slightly embarrassed at first about the whole episode. But that does not excuse the lack of an apology to the staff. Jason grabbed a mop and sorted out the mess.

They sat out on the platform and she was moaning to the man the whole time, the train arrived and thankfully they left.

If I gave an award for the rudest most ungrateful bitch of the week she would win hands down.

As regulars to this blog know one thing that irritates me more than anything else is bad manners, there was no excuse for her behaviour, and language.

It can all be summed up by something I have often said in the past. We got rid of her that man was lumbered with her for the rest of the day.

The fact she was foreign is irrelevant to the tale above but it does show why people often criticise foreigners for their behaviour and attitude. In my opinion she could have been any nationality and she would still have been rude.

Now lets see what fun we have this coming weekend.

 

 

Weekend amusement.

Well here we are on the Sunday evening after a Thomas weekend.

As usual we had the following questions.

When will Thomas be past?
Can we get on the train here?
Can I have a return please? Where to? Back here!!
Are you open? After standing a couple of minutes behind other visitors for their turn.
Can I get the train from here to Wansford, but I only want to pay for the Thomas bit. Before you ask no they had not pre-bought any other tickets.
Should I have got on that? After arriving at the station the same time as the train and just sitting on the bench staring at it?

In other words it was a typical weekend.

In all honesty I sometimes wonder how some of the people we encounter breathe unaided.

Gem of the weekend was when first service arrived on Saturday. The class 14 came into view apparently belching black smoke. Blimey I heard, that diesel has engine problems. Just before it went past with the steam loco behind it responsible for the black smoke. There was a chuckle from a few of the assembled platform warmers.

The Sunday gem was a chap poked his head round the door and uttered the immortal words. On the departure board it says 1410, is that the same time every day? I was so tempted to say that yes 1410 was the same time every day. Don’t ask me how I kept a straight face.

Strange people and strange questions aside it was a fairly normal weekend, steady but nothing exceptional. I did have one family come back on the train and the father moaned about the parking at Wansford, I could not see why as he had travelled from Orton Mere earlier and his car was in the car park. Plus he lived about 5 mins away.

Tomorrow sees the return of the tamper until Friday, lets hope it’s wibbly wibbly bit can keep working this week!

 

It was the wibbly wibbly bit.

Yesterday I actually opened on a Wednesday, and the day reminded me why I normally don’t.

The main reason was to taken a delivery of ice cream, the story of that delivery could be a blog post in itself, but I will come to it eventually in this post.

Sue was with me yesterday and Rosemary came to do a bit of garden maintenance as well. I was outnumbered by women!!

Anyway it was a hot day and very humid.

Main service was the little GWR tank engine we have visiting, I posted a picture of it in my last post, but for good measure here is another, this time with both buffers and a bit of smoke & steam.

Not a bad picture I think from my iPhone5s, I just grabbed the phone, switched it on and pointed at the last minute.

The train ran shall we say a bit late for all services and leave it at that.

Also running was a Tamper, which is with us Monday to Friday for four weeks. For those who don’t know what the hell a tamper is here are three images of it.

It finished the day early when it stopped working correctly. Rosemary, never one to miss out on a bit of information on what was wrong asked one of the crew. The answer was the wibbly wibbly bit had stopped working. Answers in pencil on the back of a fiver please as to what that means.

It kept Reg in the box busy and he worked through it as good as he always does. Age, wisdom and experience are a hard combination to beat.

Now to the saga of the ice cream…….

I was expecting a delivery as ordered and normally it would normally have arrived between 9 & 10am, so when it had not arrived by 3pm I thought it wise to check.

The result was that the company had said they had delivered it at 9am. Well after some phone calls I established that they order had been delivered to Wansford. They have such a lot from this company it was just checked and signed for then put on sale.

In the end that order stood and another duplicate order was sent to me within 30 minutes. I must say I was most impressed in how the company concerned which for those bothered is King Brothers of Orton Longueville dealt with and sorted the problem. No matter how many times you deal with a company it’s not until you have a problem that you see how good they are by how they deal with it. In this case I could not fault them, the lady concerned was really excellent.

So there you have it a day of adventure and a few customers chucked into the mix.

 

Lets see what Saturday brings….

The Rural Rambler.

Now before you ask I am not talking about some old chap with a rucksack on his back, well worn boots on his feet and a cloth cap on his head wandering up and down the railway whilst puffing on an old pipe that smells like it’s burning old socks.

No I am talking about a little GWR tank engine chuffing up and down the line hauling four coaches.

It is I will agree not quite the same as a large steam loco hauling a decent number of coaches. But it is just as important in the history of railways in this country.

Many lines had little engines with a couple of coaches chugging up and down through the countryside day in and day out.

This was our contribution to that part of history last weekend.

It’s a super little locomotive to look at and really nice to photograph, especially if the sun is out.

Certainly it seemed popular with a good number of passengers, even allowing for the fact it was hauling fewer wagons. It sounded right as well as it left the station chugging away down the line.

Ran fairly well to time as well which is more than can be said for many of the other locomotives we run during the year.

It’s running again tomorrow (Wednesday) and I am looking forward to seeing it again. It’s only with us as a guest for a short time so we must make the best of it whilst we can.

I mean even Paddy came down to photograph it, so it can’t be bad!!!

 

 

Half way there

Well here we are half way through the year, the first six months have gone very quickly, or at least I think so.

Some of the events have been a great success, some have been average and some should have been abandoned.

But sometimes you have to do something to find out if it works, and has often been the case over the years the most unlikely events have been amongst some of the best.

And through it all we plod on and do our best, acknowledging the fact that sometimes the best is not good enough for some people. But that’s life.

I have been in customer service industries long enough to know that some people just want to enjoy themselves and normally do, whilst others seem hell bent on being miserable and moaning about everything.

We even had one visitor some months ago moan because the train was on time!!

Reviews are often looked on as a sacred place to find out what somewhere is like. I often look at two peoples comments about the same event at whatever location I am looking at and wonder if they were actually both there at the same event on the same day, because their reviews are so dynamically opposed to each other.

This weekend sees our rural railway service, or in layman terms a small engine pulling 4 coaches as opposed to a large engine pulling 6 or 7. The locomotive in question has not visited us before so that will add interest especially to the none paying public who will be out to take pictures.

I am looking forward to it, but as with any running weekend it will be certainly from my stations perspective all down to the weather. We shall see how it goes.

At the Hot Spot

Last weekend was to put it mildly a bit hot.

It’s rare we say it’s too hot at Orton Mere, normally we comment on the cold! But on Saturday it was a shade under 30c and on Sunday it peaked at 31.5c.

Not many people about but those that were spent money on keeping cool. With the chairs in the codgers corner being quite popular as well.

Sunday was a strain with the heat, it was not a day for any strenuous work outside. I did not envy the steam crew on Sunday at all.

Not a lot to say otherwise, except that we were also competing with the heritage weekend in the city centre and it’s not easy to compete with free!

Hopefully a bit cooler this coming weekend.