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Christmas is approaching

Tomorrow sees the first of the Santa trains, it does not seem like twelve months since I last said that.

Overall it’s been a frustrating year in many ways, certainly the past year could have been better, the highlight of course was the visit of Flying Scotsman, but in many ways it was overshadowed by the lows. A quiet very hot summer that kept the visitors indoors in the cool rather than out visiting places.

But of course we have no control over what’s gone, we only have control on what’s ahead next year. Hopefully 2019 will be a darn sight better than 2018, but we shall see.

One thing we do each year is loose a few of our regulars and gain a few new ones as the year progresses. This past year we have lost a lot of regulars and as with every year I wonder what has happened to them, have the moved or have they died?  in most cases we will never know, although it would be nice to find out. Some have been regulars for years and then they just disappear without a trace.

So we will be back at the station for the winter warmers on 29th December, unless we are under snow or it’s too cold.

Over the next few weeks I will repost some pictures from 2018, and here are a few now to get you thinking back.

 

Last weekend this week.

This weekend sees the last public services stopping at the station this side of Christmas.

The station will be open both days weather permitting, so if you’re passing please pop in and say hello, you and your wallet will be most welcome.

It seems most strange

Here we are on a Saturday afternoon and I am at home.

Normally we would be at the station, but no public services today.

It seems strange to be sitting here and not be at the station, I am at home every day but today feels different!!

I remember when I worked in retail and we did permanent Saturdays, it never felt right when I had a weeks holiday and was at home on the Saturday.

Oh well I wonder if it will feel strange tomorrow not being at the station on a Sunday?

 

The difference between sunshine and dull weather.

Now the one thing we get lots of at the station are photographers, they come out in all weathers.

Some prefer dull conditions and some sunshine.

Here are a couple of shots of the visiting Jinty last weekend, the dull one was taken on the Saturday and the sunny shot on the Sunday.

Which do you prefer?

Personally I prefer the one in the sunshine, but it’s all down to taste I suppose.

We just have two weekends left to run and then that’s it until after the Santa trains. I will do my thoughts on the year shortly when I get some free time. This retirement lark is hard work I don’t know how I had time to go to work.

 

It was bound to be an anticlimax.

Last weekend saw our Autumn Gala, three days of diesels coughing and spluttering up and down the line.

It think everybody knew that after the Flying Scotsman event it was bound to be a bit of an anti climax. The weather certainly did not help especially with all the rain on the Sunday.

But having said that the wet dismal Sunday turned out to be my busiest day of the three, so you never know.

Not really much to say about the event really, it was quiet due to many reasons, but we had time to chat to people, and that made for a pleasant three days.

Here are a few pictures, all taken at Orton Mere of the weekend.

Back to normal for a weekend

Last weekend was back to normal as regards services.

As expected it was quiet, not helped by rain on the Saturday.

Here is Sue my wife ready to collect a stock delivery off first service.

We are always prepared at the station, shame it’s not always for what actually happens.

This coming weekend sees a three day diesel gala, I have a book open amongst the station staff as to when we get asked if steam is running. My bet is just before first service on the Friday.

Now where did I put the nerve tonic?

A three day weekend.

Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday saw Flying Scotsman hauling services on the railway.

Here is a picture of it passing through the station on its way back to Wansford.

All services were pre-booked and sold out weeks ago.

It was a most enjoyable weekend with some really nice visitors on all the days and some amusing moments as well.

The most amusing was a chap who had come to photograph the Peak diesel which was hauling a shuttle service for those who could not drive to Wansford.
Anyway, he had no interest in Flying Scotsman, and quite seriously asked me to confirm that the the steam engine would not get in the way of his view off the Peak. He was pleased when I said he would not have an obscured view.

Here is the diesel locomotive in question.

He departed a happy visitor.

It was nice to see visitors spending money, we had an excellent three days in the shop, and if we never see another cup of coffee it won’t be a problem.

Lots of planning went into the event by a hand picked team who could not run fast enough to avoid being selected, and they worked over several months. We had a fair number of comments about how well it was organised, especially from visitors to the station who had been to Wansford to travel on the Flying Scotsman. There were a few moans but they were minor and you will always get some.

A number of people who took information leaflets about becoming a member of the railway. Hopefully they will join either as just members or perhaps working members.

Before the event I had given great thought to station access over the three days, and eventually I decided to to leave full access to both platforms, and that proved to to be a good decision. Most of the non-payers gravitated to platform 2 and as the steam loco went through platform 2 they did not get the best pictures. Those on platform 1 who spent money were advised as to the best locations for pictures, and they all seemed to appreciate it.

I must make mention of all those who helped over the three days, two of them for the first time at the station. Their help was invaluable and much appreciated. I hope they enjoyed the experience. But special mention must be given to Rosemary who normally looks after the garden, she won’t mind me mentioning that not only is the 88 years old but she come up from St Neots each day to help. She was up and down the platform talking to visitors like a terrier on speed. Her commitment over the three days put the rest of us to shame.

So there you have it, the best event I can remember in almost fifteen years on the railway. We will have to get something exceptional to top it.

A bit of a dummy run.

Last weekend we marked the 10th anniversary of the locomotive “Tornado.”

Not as busy as I would have hoped but never the less we had some nice visitors.

Next weekend we see Flying Scotsman hauling services for three days. All tickets sold out long ago.

I am looking forward to the three days.

Anyway, here to get you in the mood is Tornado arriving at Orton Mere during one of the rare spots of sunshine we had.

As always click on the image for a larger version.

The calm before the storm.

Here we are on a Sunday lunchtime at the station.

It’s a quiet weekend before the next two weekends which will no doubt be busy.

Next weekend sees Tornado running hauling it’s first passengers for around six months. Hopefully we will be busy but time will tell, the locomotive has visited us many times in the past and has spent the last six months of so at Wansford under repairs.

The following weekend sees the visit of Flying Scotsman, it’s all sold out and will no doubt be exceptionally busy. We will need  plenty of cake and coffee for the three days it is running.

Now back to the excitement of running the station.

Look out for a mid week blog post.

 

Going with the flow.

Sometimes you have weekends when things just flow, and last weekend was one of those.

We had all the ingredients:-

Decent weather.
Two good steam locos.
and more services than normal.

Our guest locomotive was Union of South Africa.

Here it is at the platform.

All in all an excellent weekend with a good flow of customers.

Hopefully a few more of these before the end of the season and I will be a happy chappie.