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Question of the week.

Do you have a public toilet?


If I buy a cup of coffee do you have a public toilet?


About summed up the weekend really.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, that’s August out of the way.

We are now running through the last two months of main services for the year. But that said we have some excellent events in those two months.

We have another visit by Flying Scotsman to the railway, with the same format as last year and all tickets sold out,

The Diesel gala brings some nice visitors locomotive wise and they will undoubtedly be popular, and provide a good three days for the railway.

Finally we have a 1940’s weekend which will include a display of vehicles at the station, so another good weekend in prospect.

Nice to run to the end of the running year with events such as these to look forward to.

November sees a couple of weeks of the Swedish railcar which has a following and is becoming popular, which is nice to see.

Whilst we are closed at the station during November and December I wast to get some cleaning and maintenance done, some of which is badly needed so we can start 2020 ready to go.

I did not enjoy this bank holiday weekend.

It’s rare I write the blog on a running day, but these past three days over the late August bank holiday have not been enjoyable.

The reason is quite simple it’s all down to the weather. All three days have seen the temp above 30c and today (Monday,) it went above 33c at its peak.

It’s been a hot sticky and average business wise bank holiday.

The three days saw Saturday and Sunday have a steam service plus the Swedish railcar, and today we had an all diesel day with the Peak and the railcar.

Here are a couple of pictures, one of the steam loco we ran and another of the peak. I am pleased with both of them considering they were taken on my iPhone.

On Sunday the steam crew really suffered due to the heat and the last steam service was cancelled and the railcar did a bit extra to get visitors to the station.

Speaking personally I could not have done what the steam crew managed to do on the two days, personally I think it was beyond what could be expected from an unpaid volunteer.

None of the days were exceptionally busy at the station, steady would be an accurate description. The locals were mostly missing and there were not that many visitors who came to the station either. It was, in simple terms just too hot.

I do not envy those who decided to fight their way through traffic and go to the seaside. I suppose the sensible thing would have been to stay at home in the shade or indoors.

Next weekend is forecast to be cooler and if it is I will be grateful. I want no repeat of this bank holidays weather.

Possibly more of the same.

Here we are on a Friday night in the middle of August and it’s cool, dismal and throwing it down with rain. In other words an average British summer!

Tomorrow and Sunday see another weekend playing trains.

Diesel service both days so not expecting to be rushed. What I do expect is the need for a pullover, a lack of visitors and the car park partly flooded.

Now lets download a few books to tide me over for the two days!!

The Eastenders at the East End!

Last weekend plus Tuesday saw a bit of excitement at Orton Mere.

We played host to the BBC who were shooting some scenes for the soap Eastenders.

Shall we say it was an interesting weekend!

Certainly on any of the three days the weather was not in their favour, but they were a hardy bunch and just got on with what needed to be done.

Saturday was setup day and watching them you realised how much effort is needed and put into shooting what will end up as just a few scenes in a single episode.
Watching them you rapidly realise that they have done the same things thousands of times before, and that they are skilled at their job. Oh that I could get new station signs put up so quickly in real life.

Sunday was the first of two days shooting and it rained for 95% of the time. Now I must admit I think this worked in our favours. It kept the watchers and the none paying public away and let them just get on with it.

Now before you ask me which of the actors and what the story line was I will admit to not having a clue. I am not a soap fan so had no idea who was in what they were filming. But the actors, crew and extras were a pleasure to see at work, and appreciate the professionalism and commitment they put into the whole thing.
Now the cynical amongst you might well be saying that they are well paid for what they do, and whilst this is true it does not in any way detract from their obvious professional attitude.

Monday was a fine day, shame they were filming at Wansford and not at Orton Mere! But, they were back on Tuesday and so was the rain. By late afternoon the filming was finished, the set all dismantled and they were all gone, it was as though they had never been there in the first place.

We were set for a wet quiet boring weekend with few passengers. But we ended up with three interesting days and an insight into a whole new world.

We are all looking forward to more filming at the station, and who know what it will be next time.

You could not make it up.

I know I have not posted for a couple of weeks, but to be honest there has been nothing worth posting about, exciting or otherwise.

Then we come to the past week.

In the last week we have had record temperatures and the hottest July day on record. Then we come to the weekend, and what do we get?

We get two days almost constant rain and a car park that, if it flooded anymore could perhaps qualify as a lake! It’s been cool to say the least and as dismal as hell.

We saw a few customers but nothing worth mentioning. It’s been more like October than late July.

Oh well we will see what next weekend brings, I would say it’s can’t be any worse but I don’t want to tempt fate.

Not normally on a Wednesday.

Some days are better than others.

Now I can already see the start of a glazed look of confusion, so let me explain.

Certain days of the week are, business wise better than others.

In the case of Orton Mere station the best days are normally Saturday and Sunday, assuming of course that the trains are running.

But what about other days? Well we often run services on a Wednesday so what about that day business wise? What indeed.

Wednesday running days are nothing like the weekend, for a start most of the locals are at work. The keen eyed amongst you will have noticed that I don’t normally open Orton Mere on a Wednesday. The reason for this is simple. normally it’s dead and it can cost me more to get too and from the station than I take in the till!

For a time we opened every Wednesday that the trains ran, and my worst ever days business wise have all been Wednesdays. The average customers were normally bored mothers with an ankle snapper in tow, we provided a place for them to meet their friend complete with their own ankle snapper and spend an hour or so nursing a single drink and chat to their friend whilst the ankle snappers ran riot screaming round the place.

I wondered more than once why they could hear every word their friends said but could not hear the screams of their off springs. Their conversations were normally loud and covered a variety of subjects ranging from the state of their love life, the chances of getting a baby sitter for the following Friday so they could go to a local club and come home with a few hours entertainment in the horizontal mode, to the chances of their next period arriving on time or even at all.

Trust me it was not worth the one pound they had paid in those days for their tea or coffee It was like a real life agony aunt page from the current favourite womens magazine. So we abandoned Wednesday opening and regained our hope in the younger generation.

But last Wednesday I needed a delivery so we thought what the hell we would open. Tom helped me with cover and Rosemary turned up to do the garden.

By 9.15am the delivery had arrived and was sorted, so we settled down with a good book. In total we had four visitors, two to travel who already had tickets, a third looking for a toilet and the fourth looking for sympathy. The last two were both disapointed.

Wednesdays had not changed. Shame we are there again this week for some electrical work!!




Changeable but we are not sure what to.

Considering we have no control over it the UK weather is often a topic for discussion on a regular basis.

Having just seen the forecast for the coming weekend, I have come to the conclusion that it’s all hit and miss.

First they say it will get warmer, then it will get hot, then we could have heavy rain and storms on Sunday evening. But this could possibly change.

The above covers an average summer weekend.

In other words we will get what we get and that’s it.

As with any location that relies on visits from the general public the weather is very important to us. Too cold and they will not visit, too hot and they will go to the seaside instead. Speaking from the point of view of my station it can be hot and sunny in the afternoon, but if it was cool and dismal first thing in the morning then we will have a quiet day.

But in all fairness we have had some cracking days money wise when it’s been chucking it down with rain and some poor days when it’s been a really nice day.

I suppose if I am being really honest all we can do is turn up on the day and see what happens.

In other words an average weekend!

Embracing Technology.

Now people who know me know that I love technology. But not everybody is the same.

Take Paddy for instance. Now Paddy as far as technology goes has life membership to the Luddite Society.

Rumour has it that he is not even comfortable with a ball point pen, preferring to use a traditional quill pen wherever possible.

So imagine the shock on Sunday when he produced a mobile phone. He sneaked out to make a call, phone in one hand and instructions in the other.

The temptation was just too much, I gave him a couple of minutes to get sorted and then I sneaked out to get proof that he was using it to actually make a call.

This picture is the proof.

I am still in a state of shock, next we will discover he uses email! Mind you bet he has a dial up modem!

Now that was not too bad.

As I have said several times in the past, some weekends just flow and others are a pain in the proverbial rear.

I am pleased to report that last weekend was the former. Everything fell into place and the weekend just flowed both days.

At Wansford we had a model railway exhibition, and it seemed popular judging from the number of tickets I sold for the trains from people who said they were visiting the exhibition.

The weather was with us which of course helped, and it only rained just as we were locking up on the Sunday evening. It’s always nice when things just go right, and we can go home happy with having had a good weekend.

But of course that’s not always the case and the law of averages says that you will have some shall we say difficult weekends. How difficult depends on the expectations of the person or persons you have to deal with.

Over the forty six odd years I have worked with the general public I have come across some people whose expectations have been shall we say, not in line with other people. Many people have either selective memories, vision or hearing and I have known a few who have suffered from all three. Now it’s fair to say that we learn very little from good weekends but we can earn a great deal from the difficult ones. The most important thing we learn very quickly is to tell the difference between those with genuine problems and those who just want either a refund or a freebie, but don’t actually have a problem.

Now those who know me know that I don’t suffer fools gladly. If somebody has a genuine legitimate problem then I will do my very best to sort it. But if my Bovine Excrement meter kicks in the they will get no sympathy from me at all. Over the fourteen plus years of running Orton Mere I have had to kick out very few people trying to get something for nothing, but kick them out I have. We are all volunteers but we try to do a professional service for the visitors, we are after all often their first impression of the railway.

But these people are thankfully few and far between and will normally disappear when they realise they have been rumbled. Perhaps I should do a mini series on the worst and best visitors of the last fifteen years to Orton Mere, would there be any interest? Answers as a comment to this post please.