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It all depends on the weather.

Now one thing tourism generally always relies on and that’s the weather.

You can organise a super weekend event and if it rains all weekend then you wonder why you bothered. Then on the other hand you can have beautiful sunshine and the visitors come flocking in.

But of course the one thing we can’t control is the weather, and the one thing you can safely say in the UK in the summer and that is it’s a brave person who forecasts the weather a week ahead.

This weekend will be a bit of a lull before the excitement next weekend of August bank holiday. For some strange reason we always remember bank holidays where it’s rained rather than ones where the sun has shone for all three days.

This year we have two guest locomotives pulling the bank holiday services. They are the steam locomotive Tornado and a Deltic which of course is a diesel. So we have something worth looking at for both the steam and the diesel enthusiasts. All we need is the sun to shine. If we do then it will be a cracking three days, if it’s wet then how successful the weekend is will be in the lap of the gods.

Anybody fancy placing a bet on us having sunshine?

The sun is out, lets hope the visitors are as well.

This weekend we have a Thomas holiday event and I am looking forward to it.

Special events always make a change from normal weekends.

Special events bring to the railway both new and returning visitors, it’s nice to chat to as many as possible when they return from a day with us to find out what they think. When you have worked at an organisation for any length of time it’s always nice to hear how people view us with fresh eyes. They often mention things they have really enjoyed that we take for granted and that’s always nice to hear.

One thing the vast majority of visitors mention when asked what they liked is that the staff are so friendly. Now this I would agree with. We are generally a friendly bunch both to visitors and each other, it was the first thing that struck me when I joined over ten years ago, and in the intervening years nothing has changed in that respect. So if you’re visiting this weekend please pop into Orton Mere and say hi, but more importantly enjoy yourselves. That is actually the most important bit.

A typical summer weekend

Last weekend was typical of the first week into the summer holidays for schools.

Most of the regulars seem to be away on holiday.

Had some nice visitors in but quiet overall which is on par for previous years.

This coming weekend should be better and then improve from then on.

One thing summer does bring is a mini invasion of cyclists, many of which can’t read the signs on my platform 2. They ride past the Platform 2 only sign, then they ride past the way out side, pointing back the way they have come convinced the far end of the platform will come complete with an exit. In all cases they are disappointed and give a glare when we tell them not to ride on the platform. It’s the same every year, some in previous years have come into the station moaning that their OS Map or GPS shows a footpath at the far end and every time we shoe them that the ability to read a map is not one of the abilities they have.

Twice over the weekend somebody stood by the ice cream freezer and asked if we sell ice cream.

But 1st prize for idiot of the week is shared between a husband and wife. They were behind a customer who asked for a couple of teas, these were duly produced and he passed between the prize winning couple as he went to add milk, sugar etc. The couple then both asked me at the same time and in perfect sync the immortal words…. “Do you sell tea?” I was so tempted to say no!

Had a group of Canadians in, I think I made their visit by not asking if they were Americans, it is a question that seems to irritate most people from Canada it seems. Good job I spotted the keyring with a small Canadian flag hanging from it!

After this coming weekend we have a few special events culminating in our August Bank Holiday services, hopefully the weather will be on our side, as even at this time of year a small shower can mean the difference between a good and an average weekend.

So to put the weather gods in a good mood here are a few summer pictures at the station from previous years.

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Watch out, Watch out there is a blue thing about.

Last Sunday saw the first Thomas big adventure for a few years.

It ran late!!!! Due to numerous circumstances, and not helped by the fact that local great and good in the city centre had emptied the water tower so the first service before Thomas had to wait for it to fill before it could take on water.

Here are a few pictures of the event of Thomas passing through Orton Mere.

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Finishing off with a picture of the main service on second service.

It was an interesting weekend to say the least.

 

 

Summer is back

I am writing this on a Sunday evening having not long got back from the station.

It’s been a funny weekend, both days have been nice but today was the best of the two. But Saturday was busier, certainly in the shop.

The one thing the nice weather brings out is the crazies.

This weekend was no exception.

Let’s start with Saturday.

I was opening up when some chap passing with his dog, asked why I was opening on a Friday, I replied it was a Saturday, he asked if I was sure then wandered off. I came to the conclusion that the dog was more intelligent, and the dog did not make a sound.

Add to that two people in before 9.30am who, after looking in the ice cream freezer both asked if we sold ice cream and we know we are in for a fun day.

Sunday was no better, the gate onto the platform was locked and signs pointed people to the back door, we were having the fence and gate painted today.

To be honest I don’t know why I bothered with the signs, nobody read them and one tried to climb over the rope when the area was roped off while the painting was in progress.

Then we had the classic question, “Is this a steam train?” As it puffed into the station.

Both days we had a few competitors in the it’s hot so I dress like an idiot competition. Should we have had to actually select a winner then it would have been a photo finish between about ten people. Including on Sunday morning a woman in short shorts and a halter top walking past who was well past the wrong side of seventy. She looked like a brown lizard.

All in all a funny old weekend.

 

 

There is a glowing thing in the sky.

Well here we are, it’s a Monday morning and the sun is shining, the work is piling up and the garden needs sorting! Who says there is no choice in life.

Over the last year or so I have been keeping a note on which days have sunshine and which don’t. Now no prizes for guessing that more running days are cloudy than are sunny. Perhaps next year we should offer a dummy timetable to the weather gods?

We have just had a mixed weekend weather wise with a bit of sun, some showers and a lot of cloud. Sunday was actually a good day especially in the shop which is always welcome.

Just as first train was arriving we had three passengers come into the station, I informed them that they could pay on the train as I could not do the tickets if they wanted that train. One woman asked “Why are you here then?” My reply was, “To help those who don’t leave it until the last minute.” She burst out laughing and happily got on the train.

It seems a growing trend to leave things until the last minute or until it’s too late. A couple of months ago there were a family sitting in their car in the car park. The train arrived on time to the city and arrived back on time going back to Wansford. About ten minutes later the family got out of the car and came into the station to buy a family ticket. I informed them that the next train was in just over an hour. No said the father it’s in about five minutes. I showed him the timetable with the times. That’s wrong he said the train is always ten minutes late. He was not happy when he realised it had not only been on time but they had sat in their car and watched it both ways. They all left mumbling, we did not see them again. Funny enough the second service was about ten minutes late!!

Ah the joys of summer!!!

We had some sun on Saturday

It’s true we actually had some sun on Saturday and it lasted all of 15 minutes. Against all odds we also had a train arrive as well, here is a picture of it!!

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It’s fair to say that this summer is not turning out to be one of the best, if we get much more rain you may be able to purchase an ark on line.

So to take us back to previous years when we had sunshine here are a few pictures that have featured in previous blogs, showing how nice it could be.

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Half way there, almost.

Well looking at the calendar it’s hard to believe we are almost half way through the year, and in the not too distant future the phone lines will open for Santa bookings.

So what’s happened at the station in the first half of the year, the answer is not a lot really. Some things have changed and most have remained the same.

The new kitchen is making life much easier, there is so much more space to dump stuff, or so certain people would have me believe.

The painting is still not done, but steps are being taken to rectify that in the not too distant future all being well.

Our customers and visitors continue to amaze, amuse, frustrate and in some cases impress us. Before anybody asks the difference between a customer and a visitor is that a visitor is somebody who has not bought anything, and a customer is a visitor who has spent money.

One thing that is noticeable this year is the drop in the number of people who want timetables especially at special events, they mainly seem to come with them printed out off the web site or downloaded onto a device which is often smarter than they are. This of course will in the long run mean less cost to the railway. If only we could get the timetable collectors of all ages to print them out instead we would be home and dry!

We have also had some good events this year so far as well. The diesel gala was excellent as was the open weekend so people could see behind the scenes at the railway. Now I will freely admit I was sceptical about the open weekend, but I am pleased to say I was proved wrong and hopefully this will become a yearly event. It was a great success.

This weekend is a Gala weekend with the return of Thomas who will be pulling services between Wansford and Yarwell. Weather permitting we will be very busy and it will bring in much needed income to the railway. Watch this space after the weekend for a full rundown of the weekend from the perspective of my station.

Now back to looking at the shiny thing in the sky which is rumoured to be being replaced tomorrow by rain, we shall see.

Mid Week Visitors and Bank Holiday again

Now a certain person who will remain nameless, has gone to great pains today to point out that I had mid-week visitors. These were in the day time as opposed to the courting couples we often get during the hours of darkness.

I was even sent two pictures, which I have reposed below to prove that they did more than sneak into the station and put the kettle on.

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Now as you can see it was all excitement, or so I am told, I was at home at the time.

Between then and now we have of course had yet another bank holiday, several are normally close together this time of year and they all have one thing in common. They are normally cold and dismal.

I must admit though this last one was better than most with Saturday actually quite warm, with Sunday and Monday on the cool side. The trains were well populated, especially second service on all three days.

The station was not over busy but we did have some really nice visitors in and a good chat with as many as we could.

One thing a lot of people mentioned was the return of Thomas, for some it’s as important as the second coming. So to get you all prepared for a week this Saturday here are some pictures of the little chap when he was previously in steam.100_0308 100_0312 100_0327

I expect that his first weekend back in steam will be a busy one, as long as nobody does a rain dance!!!

Just running a bear service

Last weekend saw our Teddy Bear express weekend, and it was fun!!!!

Nice to see our younger visitors clutching their stuffed bears and enjoying themselves.

It’s all too easy to just think that we are an museum and educational charity running trains a few days a week.

The general public are as each year goes by expecting more from the places they visit, they are looking for events that will drag their children away from their electronic devices.

The Teddy Bear express did this nicely, hopefully the event will encourage people to revisit the railway either on normal running days to to more of our special events.

This coming weekend is yet another bank holiday, so three days on the trot, as with all weekends this one will be governed by the weather, the forecast is dry but these days that means not a lot. So we will have to wait and see how it goes, but one thing is certain there will be few if any bears travelling this weekend!!