Blog Archives

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.

That’s another one out of the way.

Well that’s another bank holiday out of the way.

Certainly not a busy one shop wise but ticket sales were not too bad.

All three days should have been the visiting Tank engine pulling the main service and the Swedish railcar running in-between. But of course that, as often happens was not what happened.

Saturday started with the Tank engine failing. This meant that the first railcar service was cancelled and the railcar ran as the first main service. When it got to Orton Mere it was snugger than the back row of the railways AGM! Then we got back to normal running with the main service being hauled by a class 14 diesel.

No complaints from any visitors, at least not to me, the nearest we got was a chap who walked in and just asked steam or diesel? When I replied diesel he stuck his nose in the air and sniffed loudly whilst turning and walking out. Not a please or thank you in sight. Why is it that some people think it’s the end of the world if we don’t run a steam service? I mean manners cost nothing, but these days they are often sadly lacking, and it’s normally from middle aged visitors rather than youngsters.

Anyway we got half way back to normal on Sunday with 92 SQDN replacing the Tank engine. So at least we ran something that chugged rather than spluttered.

Monday saw us fully back to normal with the Tank engine sorted and back in service. Here it is arriving at Orton Mere on its way back to Wansford.

As always click on the small image above to display a full sized version, and by that I mean a full sized picture not a full sized locomotive!

So how was it overall, well I suppose average would be a good description overall. Certainly we were not rushed on any of the days. Most of those travelling, certainly over 75% were visiting the area and not local. The locals either stayed at home or have nipped off on a weeks holiday.

Those sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed that I made scant mention of the railcar. I must admit that except for the first snug service on Saturday most if not all the other trips showed it more empty than full. We shall see how it does on future similar weekends.

This coming weekend sees a model railway show at Wansford, so we will see how that goes.

Wot no blog!!!

I know, I know there have been no posts for a couple of weeks, the reason is that there has really been nothing to say.

There are only so many ways you can say that things are average. What is interesting is that nobody has commented to me on the lack of postings!!!

Yesterday saw the annual Thomas big adventure, and all those on board seemed to be enjoying themselves, not may people at the station to see it pass in either direction which was a shame.

Here is a picture of the little blue engine on it’s way back to Wansford.

I am giving some thought to pointing this blog in another direction so as they say watch this space!

Easter a week late!

In my last post I commented that a great Easter weekend could have been so different if the weather had been what we normally get for Easter.

Well, last weekend the Easter weather arrived a week late!! it was a damp, windy cold weekend, that’s all that can be really said about it, we were quiet both days, there was just nobody about. We had a seance at midday on both days to make contact with the living and failed miserably.

Even the fact that Thomas was pulling the TPO bought a few visitors to the station, it was still all in all a disappointing weekend. But there we go as I often say if we did not have the poor weekends we would not appreciate the good ones. This coming weekend sees another bank holiday with a Wallace and Gromit day on Saturday. So we will see how that goes….