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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….

It would have been so different if it had rained.

The railway has many events throughout the year and the law of averages means that some are better than others.

A successful event depends on many things, but one of the main ingredients of a successful weekend is the weather. Now Easter weekends are generally renowned for three things and they are: Rain, wind and chocolate eggs!

It is rare that we have fine weather for the whole of Easter, and I remember many years at the railway staring out of the doors onto the platform during Easter watching the rain lashing down.

But this year things were different, we had excellent weather and we had an excellent event planned. Saturday and Sunday saw a Dr Who fan weekend. This is a first at the railway, and the success or otherwise was going to be down to the weather.

But the sun shone, the visitors arrived and the trains almost ran on time. We had an excellent weekend at Orton Mere, nice customers, the odd “Odd” visitor and a bunch of people doing the event who were good at what they were doing and were genuinely enthusiastic. What was nice to see was the age range of the fans who came along, and how knowledgeable the vast majority were.

We were invaded by the characters over both days and even I enjoyed it, and I have never seen even 10 minutes of any Dr Who episode ever.

Here are some pictures from what was the most enjoyable weekend we have had at the station for a long time. As you will see from the second and third pictures the wife got into the spirit of the weekend.

So there you have it, a brief comment on an excellent weekend, and we are already looking forward to a repeat next year.

 

Going round in circles waving things.

Saturday saw something unusual at the railway, and I don’t mean the trains running on time.

We had a Morris Dancing event along the line at the stations. The fact that neither of the two teams we had were Morris dancers was neither here nor there.

In the Morning we had Pig Dyke Molly who are Molly Dancers.

Their web site can be found HERE

Here are a few pictures of them in action.

 

They were followed in the afternoon by Cross Key Clog, who are clog dancers.

Their website can be found HERE

Here are some pictures of them in action.

Now I am sure some of you will be wondering what this has to do with Heritage Railways, and the answer is more than you think.

We are all working to preserve a heritage, and to show people how things were in the past. Personally I think that it is important to do so. We spend so much time looking forward these days that perhaps we should pause and look back to where we have been in the past. After all it’s the past that shapes our future.

All of us at the station enjoyed the day, it was nice to see things happening down the line rather than being concentrated at Wansford, something to remember for future events perhaps?

Please have a look at the web sites linked above for the two teams, they are keen people and deserve support.

Next weekend over Easter sees a two day Dr Who event at the railway, with a Tardis at Orton Mere, I wonder if I can send a few volunteers off to other dimensions? We shall see….

Mixed traction, the manly purse and a bit of fish food.

Now I can tell already your interest has been roused by the mere title of the blog. So let us commence with the excitement of the weekend just gone.

Last weekend was a mixed traction weekend with both diesel and steam locomotives running. Now I know from past experience that we would not be rushed off our feet at Orton Mere but none the less we had an enjoyable weekend with the quality of the visitors making up for the quantity.

We also had a first with the Sentinel locomotive hauling passengers to Orton Mere on the local service for the first time in fifteen years as far as I can remember. Here it is running round at the station.

It certainly provoked a bit of interest, which is always nice.

Up the Fletton loop we had the TASC machine carrying interested passengers, not as popular as brake van rides but never the less enjoyed by all who made the trip up the loop. A single shot of it arriving from one of the trips back at platform 1.

The line up at Orton Mere for the weekend was completed by the Class 14, the Peak and 92 Squadron. No blog post would be complete without a picture of each of them.

As you can see we did not have wall to wall sunshine, in fact it was a bit on the cool side. But that’s normal for the time of year and it would be out of character to have wall to wall sunshine and a bit of heat, we are just not used to it at the station!

Now I know you are all waiting for the bit of the post that covers the Manly purse, well wait no longer…..

Our health & safety chap came into the station with his two dogs and proceeded to prove he could pay for anything that Arkwright could try and sell him. Out came his money container, we all expected a wallet with H&S No Entry on the side, but instead we got this.

We were all so shocked I forgot to sell him anything, oh the shame!!

But we have made a note in the book for his next visit.

There is I gather no truth in the rumour that the beads are actually badges of honour for not buying anything.

Now to finish off this tale of a weekend full of trains and surprises we turn our attention to the fish food. One of my regulars asked if I had any garden fish, when I said no he said that was a shame as he had some spare fish food if I had got some. Now I am sure a few of you will think this is unusual, but it is not so. One the years regulars will pop in with items to give us from boxes of tea bags to plant food for the plastic hanging baskets outside (Don’t ask!)

Next Saturday sees Morris Dancers at the station, and I should warn in advance if you plan to visit with the hope of seeing me prancing round with bells on my legs and waving either a hanky or a pigs bladder on a stick you will be disappointed!!

 

And it was such a normal weekend.

Last weekend was nothing special, it was an average late March weekend at Orton Mere.

Then, on Sunday afternoon something changed it totally.

As per normal I was out on the platform for the arrival of the service into Peterborough.

Whilst having a few words with the TTI and handing over some bits a lady got off the train smiling. Now I know it’s a tad unfair but I am always wary of smiling staff that get off the train if for no other reason than they are normally bringing me work!

Anyway this lady came up to me and said that she had heard so much about me that she just had to get off and say hello.
I did ask if what she had heard was good or bad and she replied it was all very good, so she had to get off, meet me in person and say hello.

I was quite lost for words as she hopped back on the train before I could get her for a platform ticket.

Now I have been on the railway around 15 years and in that time I have always tried to be nice to people and treat them as I would like to be treated. I may not always achieve it but I always try to do it.

So this happening was especially nice, and as I said to Sue just afterwards it really made my weekend. Now I won’t give the name of the lady concerned as she may get people queueing up to tell her bad bits about me, not that they would be correct of course.

So if the lady concerned is reading this then thanks very much your kind comments quite made the weekend if not the month.

A funny couple of weeks.

It’s been a funny couple of weeks at the station, the cool weather has not helped neither has stocking up on ice cream. Let me explain, each year at the start of March I order in the first ice cream of the year and for the next couple of weeks we have poor weather at the weekends. This happens every year regular as clockwork, even if I adjust which week I put the order in.

Then we get people wandering in saying it’s too cold for ice cream, and I point out that ice cream is always the same temperature irrespective of the time of year. A comment that zooms over the heads of most people.

Last weekend I had the first request for the date Santa tickets will go on sale, and they were genuinely surprised when I said I did not know.

I have now had four people ask if Flying Scotsman when it visits in September will pass through the station when it travels with passengers the length of the line. If it doesn’t then how do they think it will get from one end to the other, perhaps it will tip toe past using the path behind the station.

We get the odd customer stand behind somebody buying tickets and then ask when it’s their turn, if we sell tickets. You can see why I said odd customer! It’s the same with people who see others buying tea and coffee and then ask if we sell tea and coffee. Some seem to have the attention span of a fossil, and looking at them they are about the same age.

On Sunday a woman came into the station asking for directions to Wansford as they wanted to go to the open weekend. I pointed out they could catch a train if they waited about 5 minutes. I was informed that none of them, “whoever them were” liked trains they were just looking for a cheap/free day out somewhere. I was tempted to send them to NYMR!!!

The comment of the two weeks  award must go to a chap who came on the platform as the train was pulling out and asked if we were Nene Valley Railway, when I said we were he thanked me and walked off never to be seen again.

Ah well it’s not that far into the season, and I am already telling myself that it can only get better loony wise. Though I don’t sound convincing even to myself!

I do wish people would sometimes!!