Monthly Archives: May 2011

Two missing links (A little competition)

Ok now for something a little different.

What are the two missing links between Nene Valley Railway and an American Indian Tribe.

Answers in pencil please on the back of used fivers, or failing that give your answer by a comment to this posting.

Answer on Friday if nobody gets it.

Rain slowed play

Not the most exciting of bank holiday Monday’s I must admit.

Shop was quiet but took some money in tickets.

Rain started before first service and at the time of writing this it’s still coming down. Mind you of course as people were saying all day it’s needed.

Some nice people in today on the whole and a most enjoyable day with Stephen helping despite the weather.

The railway is running a service all week but I am next open on Friday.

Three days of proper work follow!


What does a football club and a heritage railway have in common?

Oh no I can hear you mutter to yourself what’s the old duffer on about now?

Well I thought the title would have given it away, I am on about football clubs and heritage railways, or more specifically Peterborough United and Nene Valley Railway.

Now before we start, any railway directors or others who consider themselves the great and the good of the railway need not panic, I am not going to rip the railway apart with sensational text, revealing stories of what is really put in visitors tea and how we paint white lines on platform edges in the rain. No, these are just some of my thoughts comparing football with heritage railways.

Are you sitting comfortably? Sit straight at the back, I will say this only once… (That would make a great line in a comedy series, don’t you agree?).

Anyway I am digressing which many will say is something I am good at.

Now unless you live on another planet you will, by the time you read this know that Peterborough United have been promoted to the championship league today after a game of two halves against Huddersfield Town that took place in Manchester.

Right you don’t need to put your hand up to answer this question nor ponder on the answer as I will give it to you straight after the question.

The question is…. What do Peterborough United and Nene Valley Railway both rely on to survive?

The answer is Supporters…. See that was not too hard was it!

Both organisations need supporters or as we call them on the railway members! Without them neither organisation would survive.

Ah your thinking I bet this posting was prompted by the Peterborough United victory today, well sorry you are wrong, it was prompted by two middle aged gentlemen who were leaning against the station fence awaiting the arrival of the diesel service to Wansford.

I was sitting on a bench out of their sight also awaiting the service and at the same time trying to follow the footie and the F1 race on-line on the smart phone.

Now the essence of the conversation these two chaps were having was this. The one chap was going on about how he supported the railway by being a member, and that because he was a member he could travel cheap on the trains, and the number of trips he took meant that he paid less to be a member and travel at members rate on the train than if he was not a member and paid full fare for each journey. Or for those who are not good at maths he was saying that he saved money and spent less supporting the railway and being a member than if he did not in his words support the railway by being a member.

Now my brain points out to me that if he pays less overall by being a member than by not being a member how the hell can he be supporting the railway?

I am sure that there are many what the railway call “armchair members” who pay up each year and say travel once or even less, they are supporting the railway to my mind because they give us money we would not otherwise get.

But there are many others who save more than they pay, such as the chap at the fence, now I am not saying that they would travel as much as they do if they had to pay full price but the fact remains certainly in this chaps case that he joined to save himself money. I am sorry but in my eyes and I am sure many others he is not supporting the railway.

Right at this stage your no doubt saying to yourself, where the hell is the connection with football?

Well here is the connection. I wonder how many people tonight are in Peterborough pubs drinking themselves silly saying they are supporters of Peterborough United but have never been to a match this season, or for that matter bought anything from the club shop?

My bet is there are a good number, a true supporter of a football club is a supporter who goes along to matches in all weathers both home and away irrespective of how well the team are doing, they support the club by their attendance or other activities that benefit the club no matter where they are in the league or whether they are on their way up or on their way down.

The same with the railway, our supporters are those who join as members not to make savings but instead to give something to support the railway and help it’s continued existence and growth. So if your an armchair member for what ever reason and I know some who live a long way away and others who through health grounds can’t do practical things at the railway. Why don’t you become a working member? Without working members there would simply be no railway, there would be no trains, no manned stations, no gift shop, no magazine, no special events, there would be nothing!

In these difficult economic times that all of us are going through any help you can give the railway would be of benefit. So the next time you visit the railway, or even for that matter hear a passing train or read your nice new copy of Nene Steam, just remember that without the working members or if you prefer for the sake of this posting working supporters, there would be no magazine to read or no train to listen to.

Take time to think and if there is anyway you think you could help the railway, from making tea, to painting fences to clipping tickets then please ring the office at Wansford. I am sure they would love to hear from you, or if you just want to find out what being a working member can involve then come along to Orton Mere Station or any other part of the railway any weekend for a chat and either myself or any other volunteer there will be more than willing to answer any questions. It does not matter how much or how little time you can give, all time is welcome.

For those Peterborough United. supporters who are not really supporters go along next season to some of the matches and actually support the club.

Just for the record, Old Arkwright is not a football supporter and I would never claim to be though I have been following the progress of the city’s local club with great interest.

But I am a committed working member of the railway.


Nothing to get excited about

First day of the bank holiday and it turned out an average sort of day. Not busy but not dead and we took more than I expected to at the start of the day.

As usual a nice bunch of customers interspersed with some who just did not listen.

Nathan with me today and as always he was a great help. 4F and class 14 ran today but would not say the trains were exactly busy, which is unusual as normally the Mk1’s and the steam locomotive would normally be busier, but today both sets of coaches seemed evenly split.

I think it is yet another bank holiday at the end of a line of close spaced bank holidays, people don’t have the money and the weather did nothing to encourage them to come out.

We will see what tomorrow brings, but hopefully it will bring more than today.

The joys of working from home

My previous post prompted me to sit down and think of the problems encountered when working from home.

I have worked from home for over ten years and it never ceases to amaze me at the number of interruptions that can happen.

They can range from telephone calls from people offering me the latest way to save money, (I often think the best way would be to get rind of the phone and save on the rental). To people knocking the door who always deny trying to sell you something and then proceed to try and do so. Gas, electric and dodgy phone providers are top of the list.

If I wanted to change supplier then I would do so and the fact I haven’t is a good clue that I don’t want to, some spotty individual at the door with an unreadable I.D. card round their neck smelling of that latest stuff being advertised on TV is not in any way going to persuade me to change my mind. Next time you get a person flogging gas just ask them what the calorific value per thermal unit of their gas is, that will sort out the men from the boys!

The ones selling telephone services are especially vomit inducing, they often open their spiel with the immortal phrase “I can save you money” How the hell can they claim that when they don’t know what services I have? When I say I am with BT for my landline and broadband they look at me as though I am weird. The reason I am with them is simple, they provide the service I want and it just works, I want no more! Banging on to me about how super their company is and how poor BT is will not make me change my mind at all. The first rule of selling is NEVER SLAG OFF THE COMPETITION!

I remember one smarmy individual who, when I opened the door said “Virgin sir?” My reply was “No mate not after 25 years of marriage” I then shut the door.

Now I appreciate that they are just trying to make a living, but do they have to be so anal when they do it?

A few years ago we had a regular at the door selling electric, in a year he called eight times and during those times he was selling on behalf of seven different companies. Each time he had the best deal, I am sorry but any shred of credibility he had went right out the door by the second or third call.

Late one afternoon I had one charming individual at the door who was most abusive when I told him I was not interested in his super product, come to think of it I never did learn what he was selling. It was pouring with rain at the time and I suggested he find himself a better job, he said he bet his job was better than mine! My reply was in that case why am I working in a nice warm room with a hot coffee and he is standing in the rain getting wetter by the minute? His face was a picture, mind you he could have done with hanging!

Now we also have the leaflet distributors, now these are most annoying when you are waiting for something in the post, every time you hear the letter box you go and see if what your expecting has arrived to be greeted by yet more leaflets for takeaway food, last year we had over 500 through the door in total.

They seem to be distributed by East Europeans who most likely can’t even read the leaflet and don’t realise they are being exploited and are no doubt working for peanuts in all weather doing nothing more than help shrink the stock of trees.

Right enough of this rambling, back to work for me at least until then next knock at the door or ring of the phone.


The joy of searching web sites

I do love searching web sites with their search facility.

Just looked at a book companies web site and entered “working from home” into the search box.

What results did i get?

Well I got two books suggested the first was the Big Book of Knowledge, and the second was Nude Photography!

The mind boggles.

Right back to the drawing board.

If I get much more desperate I will have to resort to Google, and often if I use that by the time I have got passed the sponsored results I have lost the will to live!!

Oh for the days of 300 baud modem connections and just plain text…

The swing swung the other way

I remembered I had not mentioned on here an incident that occurred a couple of weeks ago that I was telling Nathan about on Saturday.

On the Sunday I single manned two women came in the station holding hands, I thought nothing of it after all they could have been holding hands to support each other as they had been mugged for money at the station before.

Anyway one said to me “I hope you don’t mind us holding hands because we are very much in love”

“Not at all” I replied “I am a lesbian myself”.

“Your not!!” she said

“I am” I replied

“What makes you think your a lesbian?” she asked

“Easy” I said “I love women”

The both burst out laughing, spent over £35 in total and travelled on the train.

I presume they were well behaved on the train as neither of the TTI’s looked as though they had been educated!!

Two super people they were and they have promised to return again.

Thomas’ Big Adventure

Today was the event of the month on the railway and for lots of children the event of the year.

It was Thomas’ Big Adventure, the once a year trip Thomas makes up the line.

Sue was with me for the first half of the day together with Paddy, it was an interesting combination. Then Jason turned up going round as usual like a terrier on speed. Followed by Sally & Nigel. The last time we had so many staff in the station was when we had a BBQ a few years ago. But it was really nice to see them all.

Thomas passed through bunker first a few minutes late towards Peterborough, here is a picture of him approaching the west end of my platform 2.


After the excitement of that we awaited the second normal service of the day which terminated at the station. It arrived late and with great speed they ran round, here is the 4F just running round and coming down platform 2


The locomotive was driven by our membership secretary Bill who despite the fast run round did not even break into a sweat. Here is Mr Cool shortly before departure.


Once the second service had departed for Wansford we all awaited the return of Thomas, this time running the right way round. As always Sue my wife entered into the spirit of things and here she is with the essential Tomas fan kit of flag and badge. This kit is available at all stations!!


As you can see behind her some of the visitors were getting ready to photograph Thomas. Here he is below running through my platform 2 on his way back to Wansford.


Then it was all over and everybody disappeared before they could be mugged for any more money.

Now I know your wondering if there were any bum shots of the day, well there was one…… Here it is and I must admit I have I think caught Belinda’s best side!!!


It is a true bum shot!

After the excitement of the Thomas trip there was just Paddy and I left. I could say the rest of the day passed without anything interesting happening, but that would not be totally correct. We had a regular flow of some really nice people come in the station and it made for a pleasurable day. Nobody accused me of being mean, mind you nobody demanded a toilet either. Highlight of the afternoon was an idiot trying to do wheelies on his bike on platform 2, Paddy was out of the station door like a rat up a drain pipe and the offender was left in no doubt as to his bad ways!

All in all one of the most pleasant days of the year so far.

I am not opening the station building on Wednesday even though we are running a service so the next day of action will be next Saturday at the start of yet another bank holiday.

We will see what excitement next weekend brings.

I have a mean streak!!

Nathan with me today and it was nice and steady business wise.

Highlight of the day goes to a chap who walked into the building and asked Nathan for a toilet, Nathan referred him to me as we have no public toilets, though we have a staff one.

My reply to him was a categorical NO. We do not have public toilets and I will not be a toilet cleaner for the general public, it was obvious that what he wanted to do could not be done behind a bush. Well he kept arguing the toss for a few minutes and when he finally decided I would not budge he called me mean!!! Now I have been called many things and many have even doubted my parentage over the years but I have never been called mean by a grown man. I was half expecting him to stamp his foot, but we did not have that to witness.

I don’t really know how I kept a straight face to be honest, and Nathan and I chuckled over it for the next couple of hours.

The fact is that the public toilets in the car park have been closed almost 2 years and the only way to get them opened again is to complain to the council. I would guess less than 1% of people have done so. Coming up to the station and acting like a child will not get them open again. Plus to top it he never once said please!!!!

After that everything else was quite normal through the day!

Tomorrow sees Thomas on his big adventure and it also sees the second service from Wansford terminate at Orton Mere. As usual there will be a number of people who think it is going into town, there are signs stating the change at the stations, but as anybody who has ever worked with the public knows they never read signs!

Important weekend ahead.

An important weekend this weekend at the railway.

Sunday sees Thomas’ Big Adventure, where Thomas runs the length of the line.

Tickets are sold out but visitors can watch Thomas pass through the station at Orton Mere, and I may just have a picture of the little blue engine to give to little visitors on Sunday.


This is Thomas at Orton Mere on a previous big adventure, and I have a small number of these pictures in 6×4 format to give away.