Blog Archives

It would have been so different if it had rained.

The railway has many events throughout the year and the law of averages means that some are better than others.

A successful event depends on many things, but one of the main ingredients of a successful weekend is the weather. Now Easter weekends are generally renowned for three things and they are: Rain, wind and chocolate eggs!

It is rare that we have fine weather for the whole of Easter, and I remember many years at the railway staring out of the doors onto the platform during Easter watching the rain lashing down.

But this year things were different, we had excellent weather and we had an excellent event planned. Saturday and Sunday saw a Dr Who fan weekend. This is a first at the railway, and the success or otherwise was going to be down to the weather.

But the sun shone, the visitors arrived and the trains almost ran on time. We had an excellent weekend at Orton Mere, nice customers, the odd “Odd” visitor and a bunch of people doing the event who were good at what they were doing and were genuinely enthusiastic. What was nice to see was the age range of the fans who came along, and how knowledgeable the vast majority were.

We were invaded by the characters over both days and even I enjoyed it, and I have never seen even 10 minutes of any Dr Who episode ever.

Here are some pictures from what was the most enjoyable weekend we have had at the station for a long time. As you will see from the second and third pictures the wife got into the spirit of the weekend.

So there you have it, a brief comment on an excellent weekend, and we are already looking forward to a repeat next year.


Going round in circles waving things.

Saturday saw something unusual at the railway, and I don’t mean the trains running on time.

We had a Morris Dancing event along the line at the stations. The fact that neither of the two teams we had were Morris dancers was neither here nor there.

In the Morning we had Pig Dyke Molly who are Molly Dancers.

Their web site can be found HERE

Here are a few pictures of them in action.


They were followed in the afternoon by Cross Key Clog, who are clog dancers.

Their website can be found HERE

Here are some pictures of them in action.

Now I am sure some of you will be wondering what this has to do with Heritage Railways, and the answer is more than you think.

We are all working to preserve a heritage, and to show people how things were in the past. Personally I think that it is important to do so. We spend so much time looking forward these days that perhaps we should pause and look back to where we have been in the past. After all it’s the past that shapes our future.

All of us at the station enjoyed the day, it was nice to see things happening down the line rather than being concentrated at Wansford, something to remember for future events perhaps?

Please have a look at the web sites linked above for the two teams, they are keen people and deserve support.

Next weekend over Easter sees a two day Dr Who event at the railway, with a Tardis at Orton Mere, I wonder if I can send a few volunteers off to other dimensions? We shall see….

Mixed traction, the manly purse and a bit of fish food.

Now I can tell already your interest has been roused by the mere title of the blog. So let us commence with the excitement of the weekend just gone.

Last weekend was a mixed traction weekend with both diesel and steam locomotives running. Now I know from past experience that we would not be rushed off our feet at Orton Mere but none the less we had an enjoyable weekend with the quality of the visitors making up for the quantity.

We also had a first with the Sentinel locomotive hauling passengers to Orton Mere on the local service for the first time in fifteen years as far as I can remember. Here it is running round at the station.

It certainly provoked a bit of interest, which is always nice.

Up the Fletton loop we had the TASC machine carrying interested passengers, not as popular as brake van rides but never the less enjoyed by all who made the trip up the loop. A single shot of it arriving from one of the trips back at platform 1.

The line up at Orton Mere for the weekend was completed by the Class 14, the Peak and 92 Squadron. No blog post would be complete without a picture of each of them.

As you can see we did not have wall to wall sunshine, in fact it was a bit on the cool side. But that’s normal for the time of year and it would be out of character to have wall to wall sunshine and a bit of heat, we are just not used to it at the station!

Now I know you are all waiting for the bit of the post that covers the Manly purse, well wait no longer…..

Our health & safety chap came into the station with his two dogs and proceeded to prove he could pay for anything that Arkwright could try and sell him. Out came his money container, we all expected a wallet with H&S No Entry on the side, but instead we got this.

We were all so shocked I forgot to sell him anything, oh the shame!!

But we have made a note in the book for his next visit.

There is I gather no truth in the rumour that the beads are actually badges of honour for not buying anything.

Now to finish off this tale of a weekend full of trains and surprises we turn our attention to the fish food. One of my regulars asked if I had any garden fish, when I said no he said that was a shame as he had some spare fish food if I had got some. Now I am sure a few of you will think this is unusual, but it is not so. One the years regulars will pop in with items to give us from boxes of tea bags to plant food for the plastic hanging baskets outside (Don’t ask!)

Next Saturday sees Morris Dancers at the station, and I should warn in advance if you plan to visit with the hope of seeing me prancing round with bells on my legs and waving either a hanky or a pigs bladder on a stick you will be disappointed!!


And it was such a normal weekend.

Last weekend was nothing special, it was an average late March weekend at Orton Mere.

Then, on Sunday afternoon something changed it totally.

As per normal I was out on the platform for the arrival of the service into Peterborough.

Whilst having a few words with the TTI and handing over some bits a lady got off the train smiling. Now I know it’s a tad unfair but I am always wary of smiling staff that get off the train if for no other reason than they are normally bringing me work!

Anyway this lady came up to me and said that she had heard so much about me that she just had to get off and say hello.
I did ask if what she had heard was good or bad and she replied it was all very good, so she had to get off, meet me in person and say hello.

I was quite lost for words as she hopped back on the train before I could get her for a platform ticket.

Now I have been on the railway around 15 years and in that time I have always tried to be nice to people and treat them as I would like to be treated. I may not always achieve it but I always try to do it.

So this happening was especially nice, and as I said to Sue just afterwards it really made my weekend. Now I won’t give the name of the lady concerned as she may get people queueing up to tell her bad bits about me, not that they would be correct of course.

So if the lady concerned is reading this then thanks very much your kind comments quite made the weekend if not the month.

A funny couple of weeks.

It’s been a funny couple of weeks at the station, the cool weather has not helped neither has stocking up on ice cream. Let me explain, each year at the start of March I order in the first ice cream of the year and for the next couple of weeks we have poor weather at the weekends. This happens every year regular as clockwork, even if I adjust which week I put the order in.

Then we get people wandering in saying it’s too cold for ice cream, and I point out that ice cream is always the same temperature irrespective of the time of year. A comment that zooms over the heads of most people.

Last weekend I had the first request for the date Santa tickets will go on sale, and they were genuinely surprised when I said I did not know.

I have now had four people ask if Flying Scotsman when it visits in September will pass through the station when it travels with passengers the length of the line. If it doesn’t then how do they think it will get from one end to the other, perhaps it will tip toe past using the path behind the station.

We get the odd customer stand behind somebody buying tickets and then ask when it’s their turn, if we sell tickets. You can see why I said odd customer! It’s the same with people who see others buying tea and coffee and then ask if we sell tea and coffee. Some seem to have the attention span of a fossil, and looking at them they are about the same age.

On Sunday a woman came into the station asking for directions to Wansford as they wanted to go to the open weekend. I pointed out they could catch a train if they waited about 5 minutes. I was informed that none of them, “whoever them were” liked trains they were just looking for a cheap/free day out somewhere. I was tempted to send them to NYMR!!!

The comment of the two weeks  award must go to a chap who came on the platform as the train was pulling out and asked if we were Nene Valley Railway, when I said we were he thanked me and walked off never to be seen again.

Ah well it’s not that far into the season, and I am already telling myself that it can only get better loony wise. Though I don’t sound convincing even to myself!

I do wish people would sometimes!!

Steam from the South.

Last weekend saw the railways Southern Steam Weekend, and it’s best described as cold but enjoyable.

Guest locomotive Repton shared hauling services with 92 Squadron.

Here is Repton on the Saturday third service to Wansford.

Although the weather was dull I was pleased to get a decent picture under the circumstances.

Paddy assisted Sue and I on Saturday fresh from his holiday in Cornwall, casually mentioning a few times his highlight of the week which had been a trip round a brewery, it was noted that no samples were bought back. Tom was with us on Sunday and keen as always.

Rosemary was in the garden as usual on Saturday doing maintenance and chatting to a few people.

Business was steady and decent and it was. ice to see some of my regulars make their first visit of the year to the station, shame a couple had got out of the habit of spending money, but panic not we will soon get them retrained in the are of parting with cash.

On Saturday the unthinkable happened n as much as the train ran pithing a minute of time all day, we were in a state of shock.

The weather reminded us how darn cold the station can be in winter especially on Sunday, but hopefully it will get better as the weeks pass.

This coming weekend sees the last weekend of the Blue winter timetable and after that we revert to the normal Green timetable for non-special event weekends.


Back in the swing of things.

Saturday saw us back at the station for the first time since late December.

It’s nice to be back, I must admit I have missed it, and some things had not changed in the slightest.

While I sorted the till etc. Sue did the priority job of getting some heating going.

All in all Saturday was a quiet day, it was cool and dismal which did not help.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and turned out to be not a bad day for a February one, especially in the shop.

The train ran late for a number of reasons and as normal the only ones who moaned and tried to get a bit of sympathy were the non-paying public just out for a picture without spending a penny, as I say some things had not changed.

Nice to see some of the regulars as well. As I have said before we loose a number of regulars each winter and I often wonder what’s happened to them, but to counter act that we always get a few new ones so it works out in the end.

This coming weekend sees the same service as this past weekend but hopefully we will run to time better.

Comment of the weekend was a woman who uttered the immortal words… Nice weather for March!! Her husband turned his eyes skywards and followed her out of the gate.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, or is there?

In the approx 15 years of running the station and volunteering on the railway we have, for want of a better description been asked a few questions that could be classed as perhaps a tad stupid.

So I thought we would take a trip down memory lane and bring to you some of the questions I can remember, they are in no particular order.

As it’s Saturday today are you running the Saturday timetable?

Do you do free taster trips incase my son does not like it?

Is there another train after the last one?

Does the train go any further than the end of the line?

I am visiting North Norfolk Railway next week, can I buy tickets here to save me queuing next week?

I know it’s a diesel gala weekend but surely you must be running some steam services?

(One from last year.) I know the General Manager he is a nice person. (Reply.) Yes she is!

My boyfriend and I just want to go one way to the city centre can I buy one return and use it as two singles as it will be cheaper!!

How much are your £1.70 Magnum ice creams.

I just bought this mint Cornetto and my son had a couple of licks and does not like it. I have rewrapped it, can I swap it for a strawberry one?

Do you have a sleeping car as my husband was on nights last night.

Is it steam today? Just as a steam locomotive arrived at the platform.

On a Wednesday DMU service some years ago. Can I travel with my back to the engine? Yes if you lie on the floor the engine is underneath.

I am a regular visitor to this station, mind you not been here for the last five years.

There are many more lost in the mists of time, but the ones above often spring to mind.

But such questions often raise a smile, so they can’t really be that bad!!!

Cough Cough Sniff Sniff

Well here we are on the road to recovery after my dose of the lurgi, and I will freely admit I have not enjoyed the experience, not one little bit.

My thanks though to those on and off the railway who have sent me text and email messages asking after my health. It is appreciated.

All being well we will be open again on the 16th February, I have no intention of rushing things, one thing I realise as I get older is that I can’t rush things like I did when I was younger, gone are the days of walking up the platform in shirt sleeves with a cold wind blowing. I must have been mad!!!

Looking at the events planned and confirmed for the coming year we have some super weekends ahead, last year had it’s ups and downs with hopefully this year having less troughs and more peaks.

So there you have it, Arkwright is not so horizontal but also still not firing on four cylinders. But looking on the bright side I appear to have lost some weight due my total loss of appetite, so some good can come from the bad.

One thing that has increased is my reading, I have been getting through six books a week, in-between the times spent in bed asleep.

So we will see your wallets soon.

What’s all this then?

Those of you going on the train today and up and down the line cannot have failed to notice that Orton Mere station was closed.

I am down with the lurgi, and have been since Wednesday. Spending more time in bed than up and about. I don’t know what I have but I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

Permanently exhausted does not adequately describe how I feel.

Showing no sign of getting better I would be surprised if I open up next weekend either. January is never a busy month at the station so we are not loosing money, some weekends it can cost me more to get to the station than we take in the shop.

Plus as those who have visited the station in the depths of winter it is not exactly warm down there next to the river, so I will be making sure I am 100% fit before I open open up again.

That’s about it really, no doubt I caught what ~I have from somebody at the station last weekend, I am considering a sheep dip at the entrance to the station building so it does not happen again.

More updates as and when….