Blog Archives

Some things never change.

Now I know you’re all expecting to read about last weekend and how excellent it was, but I am sorry you are going to be disappointed. Those on the railway and those who visited know what a super weekend it was without me going on about it.

Now I was sitting in my office today having a think, it’s something I tend to do especially when I can’t remember what I need to do next.

Anyway, there I was thinking funnily enough about the railway, I am in my 14th year as a volunteer, and my thinking bought me to the conclusion that although there has been lots of changes in that time there are many things that have not changed at all.

I mean take for example the time board outside the doors to the platform. Every day the station has been open on a running day the times have been chalked up on that board. And every day at least one person will look at the board, look at the time and then come in and ask what time the next train is. I mean don’t they believe what’s on the board, after all it’s written in white and black, it’s not joined up writing and even I can read it without my glasses on.

Another thing that has not changed is the gate off or on to the platform. It’s most strange if people come on the platform when we are shut they will leave the gate open, but if they come on the platform when we are open they will often shut it. It’s most strange I have never been able to work out the logic of the visitors with regards to the gate.

The same goes for the no public toilet sign, people read it then come in and ask if we have a toilet. Perhaps they think we may have built one in the ten seconds since they read the notice. Last Saturday a woman when told there was not a toilet asked the question… What do you do? My answer was that I wait in eager anticipation for the next person to read the sign and still ask if we have a toilet. She just gave me a vacant look and wandered off heaven knows where.

Something else that has not changed over the years is that somebody will stand next to somebody else buying a ticket, and then ask me if we sell tickets. I am always tempted to say no. But the little treasures already look confused enough without me adding to their day.

Over the years I have lost count of people who stand at the counter, see somebody buy a tea or coffee and then ask if we sell hot drinks. Again I am so tempted to say no.

One gem happened recently. A couple came in who are quite regular came in and had a couple of cups of coffee, they went off quite happily. A few minutes later the man came back in and said to me…. How long have you been here? I replied since about 8.30am that morning, he looked at me, smirked and said Oh I though it was a few years longer than that, and went out chuckling to himself.

So despite the time I have been at the station some things never change…….

The best thing that happened all weekend was a chap came in clutching his camera. He looked at me and said, I read your blog last week can I have a platform ticket please? It made my weekend.

Steam, Diesel and a non-paying shower

Last weekend saw a mixed traction weekend, in in simple terms the steam enthusiasts moaned we were running diesel and the diesel enthusiasts moaned we were running steam.

Major guest of the weekend was 66779 Evening Star, kindly provided by GBRf. Here is a picture of the loco approaching my platform 2 and also a shot of the plate on the side of the locomotive. Just click on the images for a larger version.

For a change we also ran a freight train, which proved popular especially with the shunting each day at the station.

Here are a few more shots from the weekend.


Saturday saw some very heavy showers as well, here is a shot of the clouds over the station.

Not at all nice.

Overall the weekend was for the station best described as steady, with unusually Sunday being the better day, but that was perhaps due to the heavy showers on Saturday.

Now events like this at weekends tend to bring out the non-payers or as I often call then the platform warmers, and this weekend was no exception. They were out in numbers. Running about like rats up a drain pipe trying to get the best shot irrespective of other people and dodging any chance they would be asked for money. I must have spoken to almost a dozen over the weekend for running up the platforms and getting in the way of those who had paid.

I just wish they would get it into their thick heads that if everybody did as they were doing and trying to get something for nothing then there would be no trains for them to photograph. The paying visitors provide the money that pays for the locomotives to be hired, transported and run up and down the line. I am aware that we can’t stop photographers, but why must many of the non-payers be so rude, uncaring and basically be so good at not giving a toss that they are inconveniencing others. We even had one on Saturday complain to the signalman about the high-viz he was wearing saying it was spoiling his photograph. He did not win that exchange I gather.

So here is a challenge, if you are one of these platform warmers who pay nothing, get in the way and are generally a nuisance to the ones who have paid and also to the volunteers now is your chance to comment on this post on why you do it and what pleasure you get out of having a day subsidised by others? Please comment on this blog to tell me, I look forward to any posts.

 

What went wrong with the weather at the weekend?

Last weekend saw another of those great institutions that we British like, we had a Bank Holiday.

Now for my overseas readers, and you both know who you are, a bank holiday is where we make the weekend last three days and have a lousy bus service on the Sunday and the Monday.

Normally bank holidays are also spent dodging howling winds, driving rain and the occasional bit of sleet.

But last weekend it all went wrong, we had warm weather and sunshine all three days. Now to be fair we did have a few spots of rain very early on Sunday morning, we saw the spots on the platform, but  in all fairness that could have been one of the local kids having a pee off the road bridge that runs over the top of the station.

Now ever keen to make the most of the visitors who were wandering round in a daze and unsure of what the round bright thing in the sky was the railway managed to run some services late, officially it was due to the cream teas on the later trains. But personally I did hear that on all three days there were reports of deck chairs at the end of platform two especially for the crews to recover in and to calm down after passing Orton Mere and not being mugged for money.

Other highlights over the three days were Paddy on Saturday going round like a terrier on speed, on the Sunday we had Jason refusing to discuss the fetish he had for photographing elephants whilst he was recently in Africa. With the main highlight being on Monday when Tom said his diet was going well as he munched through a bag of crisps.

Personally my highlight was on the Sunday when a visitor stood in the cafe and uttered the immortal words…. I never knew this cafe was here. Immortal in as much as he had said the exact same thing the week previously.

We had a good number of entrants in the I am wearing the stupidest pair of shorts competition. With a few women of advanced years wearing short shorts, proving the fact that they should have ironed their legs before they left home.

As always we had several examples of the fact that most of the dogs we get are a darn sight better behaved than many of the children. Perhaps to correct this I should sell the dogs an ice cream and give the children a Bonio.

So here we are with rain forecast for tomorrow, serve the railway right for running a Wednesday service! With colder weather forecast at the weekend.

Soon have to sort out the heating at Orton Mere ready for the winter, if I could only remember where I put the candles we group together and the box of matches. There is no truth in the rumour that we keep the change in warm water in the winter so we do not suffer frost bite handing it out. But the rumour that you can, during November have a cold drink off the side or a warm one out of the chiller is true. Ah the happy days of ice floating in the top of the bottled water.

 

 

Stamp cover on sale

This saturday sees a stamp cover on sale only at Orton Mere.

The object is to encourage visitors to the station.

Cost is £5 each and there are just 100

Here is what it looks like.

Click on it for a larger image

Tootling through August

Well here we are working our way through August. So far it’s been a mediocre month weather wise.

This weekend is yet another bank holiday so three days of no doubt cloudy skies. The only good thing is that at least the rain is warm this time of year!

We are still missing a lot of the locals from previous years, I have no idea where they have gone, we always loose a few each year but this year we have lost a fair number.

One thing we have had this year is a number of nice visitors on holiday visit the railway, it’s always nice to chat to people from outside the area, their impression of the city and what it offers is interesting to hear about. Favourite things seem to be the river walks, the cycle paths and places to visit. The one thing most people seem to have in common is that they are not impressed with the city centre and what it has to offer.

It’s also interesting to hear what they have to say about the railway when they are ending their visit, generally their remarks are very positive about the experience with good comments being received about the cafe and the shop as well as the staff on the trains. There is no one thing that lots of people mention as not being enjoyable so we must be doing things right, or as right as we can.

Now we can get ready for the bank holiday, safe in the knowledge that the rain will be warm and the clouds will stop us getting too hot..

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!