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Please always remember.

I was sad to see the following in a tweet from Wansford today.

Our Santa special trains were very busy today, full of happy passengers! But oh dear, someone’s going to be on Santa’s naughty list… the new MP3 player that was playing some festive tunes was stolen from our cafe today! Naughty step and a piece of coal for someone.

Please always remember that every member of the public who visits the railway will be one or both of the following.  A potential customer or a potential thief.


It’s been a strange week or so.

Well here we are well into the Santa train season and as I have said in previous years it was strange to have a weekend where I was not at the station.

Mind you we managed a proper Sunday dinner at the right time which was very nice.

One of the things that happened the last weekend we were at the station was that the urn sprang a leak. I mean this is major!!!

So Sue and I have bought a 4 litre instant water unit for the station, so no more simmering urn.

We will pop down a week on Sunday and set it up and give it a test drive. It will be much easier to use and maintain. But knowing the staff as I do Sue will be giving them a run through showing how it’s used. What with that and the Tassimo coffee machine for the staff we have come a long way from when we just had a dodgy kettle that had seen better days.

Last Monday saw me cease my self employment, I have taken early retirement and it’s hard work!! If only keeping a few steps ahead of the wife who is chasing me with a list of jobs to be done! I may have to resort to hiding out at the station, at least I wont run out of hot water and hot drinks!!!


A lovely start to the day.

Over the years I have found some strange things on the platform when I have arrived for the day, from ladies underwear to the homeless having a kip.

However, today was a new experience. Sitting on one of the benches under the canopy were four bags of dog dirt, complete with a note…  The note said the following… Please dispose of as no bin on station platform.

I was lost for words.

So what have I learnt this year?

So here we are approaching the last weekend of the main running season for the railway, the last weekend of steam services but its followed by a weekends break then two weekends of the Swedish Railcar.

So sitting here looking at the uncharacteristic sunshine, what have I learnt this year?

Well for a start I have learnt that yet again the ones who spend the least generally moan the most.

There is a distinct lack of knowledge on the use of the words please and thank you.

Behind every noisy child that comes through the doors into the station there is a noisy parent not far behind.

We still have parents who expect us when their little offspring drops their ice cream on that platform to replace it for free and with a smile.

If we get two parents and a child in normally the child will have better manners than the parents.

People who read the no toilet sign will still come in and ask if we have a toilet.

A number will, when they find themselves a pound or more short to buy what they want will expect us to say don’t worry have it anyway.

Regulars will come in most weeks ask about the trains, moan if they find we are running late and then walk off minus a thank you and without spending any money.

The best indication a train is due is the number of people gathering at the foot crossing to watch.

So there we have what I have learnt this year, I suppose I have not learnt as much as had by previous knowledge confirmed as still being correct.

In all fairness the nice, friendly, pleasant visitors far outweigh the rude ones, but the sad fact is we are more prone to remember the bad than we are the good.

Who knows next year all the irritating visitors may turn good! Then again I am not holding my breath.

At least I knew what was coming next.

Last weekend saw a three day diesel gala with a difference.

The difference being that all the locomotives were class 31’s. We were marking the 60th anniversary of them coming into service.

As a gala it wont go down as the busiest, the most profitable or for that matter the biggest. But that said it was in my opinion an excellent weekend.

The visitors were generally nice, even though I had three people moan because we were not running steam for those not interested in diesels.

Saturday saw some of the admin team from Railcam visit the railway and we had pleasure in presenting them with the first stamp cover in a limited set of 100 to mark their first year of cameras on the railway.

Amusing incidents were in short supply although I often wonder about the clothing choices of some of the diesel followers. I saw a t-shirt that had I love steam on the front and on the back is had the words just joking!

Footwear was varied and went from bright red wellies to open toed sandals. Just out of interest the red wellies were worn by some chap well past the wrong side of fifty.

Tea and coffee was consumed in quantity, and one noticeable memory was an elderly man that asked if we had instant as he did not like the filter rubbish.

I must say that I did enjoy the weekend especially some of the regular diesel gala visitors coming to say hello. The old codgers corner was well used as well, but with no reports of anybody falling asleep in either of the chairs.

This coming weekend sees a visiting steam loco hauling services and Thomas also in action.

You wait somebody will come along and moan we are not running diesel!

Back to normal, well as normal as I ever am.

Well after being off last week with a dose of something I wish I had never had I was back at the station this last weekend.

I am about 75% better so decided rather than sit at home I would open the station.

It was a quiet weekend, the weather did not help on Saturday and the Great Eastern Run on Sunday did us no favours either.

But the few who were about did I am pleased to say spend money.

One advantage of not being rushed of course is that you can spend more time chatting to people and that’s always nice especially if they are visiting the area. I like to hear what people think of both Peterborough and Nene Park, as a resident we can I think become very blinkered in our outlook.

We are now on mainly the blue service which means the last train is at 1506 so it’s nice and early home. One problem of that is if the weather improves mid afternoon. If that happens then we are on the way home just as they are arriving. But as we can’t accurately forecast the weather for specific weekends when the timetable is being compiled at the start of the year we have to go with the flow.

This coming weekend sees a three day diesel gala on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Hopefully the weather will be decent, we shall have to see….

Sniff Sniff, Cough Cough, AChoooooooooooooooooo

The station building wont be open this weekend, the trains will run, the trains will stop, and I will be sitting at home feeling decidedly terrible.

I am suffering from a dose of the lurgi to put it mildly. I don’t know which kind soul gave it me but I wish they had not bothered. That’s the trouble with free gifts, they are rarely worth having and when you get them you don’t enjoy them.

I am coughing and spluttering worse than the old DMU the railway used to have some years ago.

At the moment I am not really in the mood to get any work done either, I just can’t concentrate and I have to remember to turn away from the laptop screen every time I sneeze, thus saving a big bill for screen wipes. Take it from me there is nothing worse than cleaning the remnants of a good sneeze off a laptop screen and keyboard.

Hopefully back to normal, or as normal as I ever am for the board meeting next Thursday and the services next weekend, but we shall see.

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.