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Oh Excellent You Have Pepsi-Max In Stock.

When I started in retail back in the early 1970’s one thing I learnt very quickly was that you get an odd assortment of people through the door, and that appearance is no guide at all as to wether they will spend money or not. After all it was once said that the people who say money does not matter are the people with all the money!

All the above holds true at the railway, I am sure that odd balls have some magnetic attraction to not only the railway but especially Orton Mere Station. You will, if you have read this blog on a regular basis seen that the weird and wonderful visitors are often included in my postings.

You are probably also wondering what this has to do with the subject line of this posting. Well I will tell you. As part of trying new things at the station I have got in a case each of Pepsi and Pepsi-Max. We have often been asked for it and now we have it we are selling it. However, since having it in stock we have had four people come in for a cold drink, look at what we have, then mutter the immortal words, “Oh excellent you have Pepsi-Max in stock!” They have all then picked up a bottle of Diet Coke and bought it to the counter to pay. Before anybody asks, two have been male and two female and none of them have been blonde. Despite a bit of thought about their actions, their logic evades me. Still it all brightens up the day.

Another comment we have had recently in this ongoing heat wave from people entering the building is, “It’s hot today!” I was not aware that so many people have an O-Level in the obvious., after about the fifth person saying it I personally find it hard to either raise a smile or for that matter come back with a sensible comment.

Sometimes we get somebody in that quite brightens up the day, as happened yesterday. Tom and Sue my wife were helping me, with Sue out the back and Tom and I in the front line behind the counter. An old man appeared on a bike, which he left outside, his opening words were, “Would anybody like to see a card trick?” That was enough for me, I was out the back like a shot, claiming that Sue had called me. Now call me a coward but I thought Tom was the ideal Victim Subject for the card trick in question. I was right, some time later there sat a dazed Tom after the man had departed, he had wasted about fifteen minutes and spent nothing. I could be wrong but I am sure I detected Tom tremble slightly as he said “See you again,” as he departed on his bike.

Little things like this make the day pass better, they are for want of a better description amusing highlights. Funny though that the most strange people who visit we only see once.

Over the fourteen years at the station there have been more gems than I care to remember, for example one summers day a few years ago I was seeing a train out, I had two whistles round my neck and a railway tie on. I raised my arm to the guard, he waved his flag blew his whistle to the driver and off went the train. All this had been witnessed by a man and I presume his wife. He looked at my tie, then looked at me and asked, “Do you work here?”

Perhaps I should write an article on all the strange visitors over the years, one thing I know is that it would not be a short article. Anyway it all brightens a day and makes the world go round.

Sometimes you just know.

You occasionally have a couple of days when you just know it will be quiet. The odds are stacked against you and there is not a lot you can do about it.

Take this weekend for example.

Lets look at what we were up against today.

England World Cup Match starting at 3pm
Wimbledon Tennis
British F1 Grand Prix qualifying
Local dog show at the show ground
Hot humid day with temperatures approaching 30c
Diesel main service due to fire risk

I mean it’s a pretty formidable list to be up against, and there is not a lot you can do about any of it.

You could argue of course that you need to get the maximum out of the customers you do have, the snag with that is that you have to have the customers to start with.

Today we had a 100% success rate and sold something, be it a ticket or ice cream to everybody that walked through the door. But before you get carried away you must remember that the number we actually had visit was not exactly high.

Now this I can understand, given the choice I would not have ventured out today, I found it far too hot and humid, there was a breeze but it was nothing to get excited about and did little if anything to cool things down.

We shall see what tomorrow brings, as long as it brings more than just heat and humidity.



Live from the station.

Well here we are doing the blog live from the station on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

On TV is the England football match and in the park is the Race for Life event, two events not likely to do much to increase business. But having said that it’s steady in the shop and a number of people are on the train.

That’s one of the problems of summer there tends to be lots of things for people to do at weekends without going far. That’s ignoring the people who just head for the coast most weekends.

We are running steam this weekend which is good and also the TPO is doing demonstration runs out of the main station at Wansford.

I would guess when I look back at the end of the year this wont have been one of the busiest, but in fairness it wont be one of the quietest either.

Also I think people are getting ready for their holidays in a few weeks and saving the pennies for that.

Having given you my wisdom I will now go back to enjoying the sunshine.

It’s been a bit quiet of late

The last couple of weekends have been a bit on the quiet side.

I can almost hear a few people going into panic mode.

But chatting to people around the city most places have been quiet. Last Sunday my wife went to the heritage festival in the city centre and she commented that it was quieter than previous years. The park staff I have chatted to have also commented that the park has been unusually quiet.

This time of year can be a bit funny, in as much as it’s the middle of the month, not quite payday and people are saving money for their holidays in August.

This weekend sees us running steam so will be interesting to see how busy that makes us.

Watch this space as they say.

The Tuesday After The Weekend Before.

Well here I am late Tuesday afternoon sitting down to write the blog for the weekend just gone.

But what do I say? How do I convey the weekend? What were the highs and the lows?

Well to be honest if I was just going to talk about the above then I might just as well stop here.

Certainly it won’t go down as either one of the busiest or the quietest weekends, and there were really no outstanding bits. It was pretty average.

I could of course compare the money taken with that taken the same weekend in previous years. But that would prove not a lot as takings vary such a lot and often have no bearing on the weather or what’s on at the railway unless it’s a mega big event, and the railway exhibition last weekend certainly does not come into that category, at least at my station.

We can have really dull weekends and be busy and really sunny hot weekends and be relatively quiet. If it’s too cold then people don’t come to visit they stay at home and if it’s too nice they go to the seaside. It is so unpredictable.

On Saturday the wife did comment after looking down towards the level crossing and across the car park that it was remarkably quiet for a summer Saturday, and she was right there was just nobody about, and this is becoming more and more the norm, days we are open when there is nobody about.

We ran diesel on Saturday and that won’t have helped numbers, but having said that on the Saturday with a diesel service somebody complained we had no steam, and on Sunday with a steam service somebody complained we were not running any diesels. You just can’t please some people. I have long been convinced that some people are trained to complain from birth, it’s just in their genes. Social Media seems to be breeding a generation that will complain about anything often in the vain hope they will get a refund or free tickets for another visit. This is often commented on across the internet. People panic they will get a bad review. Personally speaking I am less trusting of places that never get a bad review than those that get the occasional one. Having said that I often look at reviews and my first impression is that the reviews are mostly fake. What do you think?

So where were all the storms then?

Last weekend the weather forecast for around this area showed that we could be in for a bumpy few days. As it turned out we saw no storms at all, not a spot of rain nor a rumble of thunder.

Now without doubt the forecast kept people away, but even so it was a really nice bank holiday customer wise with some really nice people in. Other than that not a lot to say really.

This weekend sees a model railway weekend with model railway layouts Peterborough & Wansford. I hope it will be a nice busy weekend, but we shall see.


The sun shone and they all stayed at home.

Well we knew that Saturday would be quiet, after all we had two cup finals and the royal wedding.

Actually it was dead, all we were missing was tumbleweed rolling down the platform.

The railway chose to run a diesel service on Saturday and that was a wise decision.

Here are a couple of shots of the class 31 that hauled all the services.

As you can see from the images it was a lovely day weather wise, but most people seemed glued to their televisions.

So that brings us to Sunday, another super day weather wise with wall to wall sunshine. So what could possibly go wrong..

Ah well, the first service ran OK with steam, here is a picture of the loco arriving at my station from City Centre.

It must be said at this point that Sunday was not that busy, it was not dead but certainly it was not as busy as I would have expected.

After first service arrived at Wansford we were told that it had failed, and the hunt was on for a diesel driver. The hunt and subsequent trek in for the driver meant that second service was cancelled and the last two services were hauled by a class 14. Here it is arriving hauling third service from the City Centre.

So ended an eventful but quiet weekend.

It has been said many times that there should always be a standby crew and locomotive available on all running days, there arguments for and against this.

But my thoughts are that we would have had a few unhappy visitors if it had been a busy weekend. having said that of course hindsight is a tremendous facility.

This coming weekend is yet another of our British bank holidays, so three days of services. We are prepared, the ice cream is in and so are the cold drinks. Who will take a bet on it being wet and cold?

See I told you so!!

See I told you so!!  I said last posting it would rain on the steam punk weekend, and I was correct when it tipped it down on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Overall the weekend itself was very pleasant, some nice visitors in and the train was busy.

No real highlights that stand out except for a certain member of the civils who popped in for a natter on Sunday and when he left he got as far as the gate off the platform before he remembered he had got his bike with him, he looked slightly sheepish as he returned for it. But don’t worry Trevor your secret embarrassing moment is safe with us we won’t let on who it was Honest!

We are now heading towards the middle part of the year and the busiest period for the railway, so let’s hope we have no rain on running days, no failures amongst the locomotives, but perhaps that’s hoping for just a little too much.


Another Bank Holiday

Now when you think of a bank holiday weekend you think of cold winds and driving rain. In other words dismal conditions.

Well the bank holiday we have just had bucked the expected trend and gave us three days of wall to wall sunshine.

On the Saturday & Monday we ran scheduled services up the Fletton Branch and on Sunday we had a Paddington Bear day at Wansford.

Considering when the weekend was originally planned we were going to have Tornado & Mayflower hauling services, and we actually had neither and instead ran 92 Squadron & the Swedish railcar, plus for one trip on Monday a class 14 diesel we had a really busy holiday weekend.

Here are a few pictures of the services showing the locomotives that ran over the three days, please don’t go into too much of a shock with the clear blue skies, they are not normal!!

Rosemary got two days working on the garden as well, so that was a bonus for her. The shop was busy and we sold tickets.

A few hiccups over the weekend, but nothing that’s not solvable by better communication across the railway. But we  only learn from mistakes and problems we don’t learn from a smooth successful hassle free weekend.

This coming weekend is a Steam Punk Weekend, you watch it rain!!!

Not the best of weekends.

Last weekend can best be described as wet, cold and quiet. At least at Orton Mere

I was down at the station on Thursday for an ice cream delivery and the weather was lovely.

As you can see nice wall to wall sunshine. Really nice.

Now compare this with Saturday morning, what a difference two days can make.

Miserable sky and rain pouring down.

Both days were cold and on both days I closed after third train, on the Sunday we did not see a customer after about midday, there was nobody even walking past,

I gather bit was cold on the Travelling Post Office which was running demonstrations on both days.

The first three services both days were steam with 92 Squadron. Here it is on Sunday, when the rain had actually stopped for a period.

At least it should have been warm on the train with the steam heating.

Next weekend is a bank holiday, and notoriously famous for being cold. We shall see…..