Monthly Archives: May 2012

The railway and the river

Now regular readers of this blog will know what I do at weekends, but as I have gained a few readers from across the pond due to my postings on other blogs I thought I would for their benefit explain what I spend most of my weekends doing.

Now now no mutterings from the regulars that I spend the weekends doing not a lot, shame on you!!!!

Anyway here we go…. Are you sitting comfortably? Good lets begin.

At weekends I work as a volunteer on a heritage railway where we run both old steam and diesel locomotives.

To be precise I am the Station Master at Orton Mere Station on the Nene Valley Railway and this is my eighth year on the railway.

We have five stations along the line. Mine is located next to the River Nene which can be see from the station platforms. So we can view passing pleasure and narrow boats as they travel up and down the river.

Here is a picture looking west along my platform 1 towards my station building at the other end of the platform.

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As you can see we have a road bridge running over the top of the station, to the right of the picture but out of view is the River Nene, but more of that later.

Here are two more views, one from the west end of the platform looking west to the signal box and the foot crossing beyond.

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The second is from the west end looking East along  platform 1 with platform 2 on the left.

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Above is a picture off the East end of platform 1 looking towards Peterborough.

The line on the left runs to our city centre station and the one on the right branches off and becomes what’s known as the Fletton Loop and links our railway to the national rail network.

Our line was the first built running into Peterborough and dates from the year 1845, although my station did not exist until we became a heritage railway just over 30 years ago.

As I said at the beginning we run both diesel and steam locomotives. Today we ran steam and here is our Standard Five locomotive named “City of Peterborough” arriving hauling the second service to Peterborough.

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The locomotive is almost 60 years old and is very popular with both crews and visitors alike.

Some pictures of other locomotives and the other stations can be found on my site at www.nvrpics.org.uk

A video of one of our special event runs can be found here http://www.flickr.com/photos/robert_maskill/sets/72157629189052548/

So there you have it, the place I spend my weekends, first thing in the morning it can be very peaceful with rabbits and foxes plus other animals seen on a daily basis.

Now I mentioned the river. The River Nene runs from inland and eventually after passing through Peterborough ends up in The Wash and the sea.

Right by the station over the foot crossing I mentioned earlier is Orton Staunch. Over the top of it runs a footbridge.

Here is a picture taken first thing this morning looking West from the footbridge up the river and on the left you can see some riverside huts and boat moorings.

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To the right and just out of shot is a lock enabling boats to navigate past the staunch in both ways.

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The picture above shows the lock with the top gates open, they should be closed and the lock drained. To the right out of picture is a public golf course.

Next to the Staunch a local canoe club meets and this weekend there was an competition being held.

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Above is the view East off the foot bridge and you can see the canoes in the early morning sun reflected off the water.

Under the foot bridge where the river flows over the Mere is white water, and great for canoe competitions.

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Above is the view straight down off the bridge of the water rushing over the Mere, it is better click on and viewed slightly larger.

You can walk along the river both towards the city and also out into the countryside. A really peaceful place.

More pictures along the river that I have taken can be found here http://www.flickr.com/photos/robert_maskill/sets/72157629540762443/

So there you have it, the place I spend my weekends. The pictures above show it at it’s best, sometime I will post some pictures of it in the snow and frost and you will see how different it can be then.

If you have any comments or questions please put a comment and I will be pleased to answer them as best I can.

It shone and it warmed

All excitement today, I don’t know how I contained myself, pure fluke I suppose.

Weather wise it was a super day today, the sun shone, the trains ran and I forgot my camera. Still never mind there is always tomorrow as they say.

Without doubt somebody slipped up somewhere how could it be a nice sunny day on a train service day, almost a first for this year. Though having said that we were not busy to be honest, I reckon that anybody with four wheels and a bit of money headed for the coast and the fleshpots of Skegness and Hunstanton.

The day started early I was just putting the display stuff out when this woman appeared with a dog, she moaned that I had not put the dog bowl out for my most important customers. I had great pleasure in pointing out that it was my eighth year of running the station and so far not one dog had bought anything. Further more neither did most of the owners.

“Surely not” was her reply with a look on her face that dared me to actually say that dog owners are often the tightest of all the visitors. Going for the kill I said “Plus their owners never say please or thank you”. Her look was even more amazed as she utter the immortal words destined to condemn her to a mention in the blog “I am sure your wrong!!”.

“Well” I said going in for the kill, “so far you have not bought anything nor have you said please or thank you”.

She looked at me with a look that could curdle milk at twenty paces, turned round and walked off, all was well with the world again.

I mean I ask you I can describe dogs as many things from loveable to noisy to likeable even. But never could I describe them as my best customers! Come on all you dog owners own up now how many of you when you take your little fluff ball with you wait while the dog picks up some money just in case they see something to buy? Come on now step forward….. No thought not.

Well we were up and running before 9am and awaited further action.

Peter arrived to help me, he used to run the city centre station. We settled in for an interesting day.

Over on the river was a canoe event that’s on both days, not that many of them come and buy anything but we did see a steady stream of what we presumed were people walking over my foot crossing with boats on their heads. Also we had the pleasure of hearing the PA mainly used by a female that seemed to like the sound of her own voice and started some announcements by saying “Bing Boing” into the microphone. I presume she was listening to what she was saying as judging from the others at the event they weren’t.

Trains ran about to time for the day except the last one which I caught to the next station down the line so I could get a bus home.

Nothing exciting business wise but we did have some nice customers and passengers come into the station which made the day overall most enjoyable.

Now tomorrow I will try and remember to take a camera so I can bore you with pictures of the engine, and station. But just so you don’t escape scot free here is a picture of my station and also of the locomotive that ran today taken at a previous time.

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There you are isn’t that exciting. Now for a peaceful few hours before bed time then more of the same tomorrow.

I can feel the excitement building already for tomorrow.

On your marks….. Get Set….. Steady at the back.

Well if the weather gods are good then we should have a decent weekend weather wise.

Whether we will have one visitor wise if of course another matter, the locals tend to go to the coast in decent weather if they have the money, and it’s that money we would like to relieve them of. Skegness and Hunstanton are the preferred destinations of the locals on a day out. Personally I am not that keen on either but each to their own.

Certainly we could do with some good weekends as it will bring the visitors to the railway if not Orton Mere. But as they say time will tell.

Have a new old face helping me tomorrow, I wont say who you will have to wait and see. I hope the poor old devil can cope with the rush of permanent lookers and bog seekers!!

All we can do is our best and treat all visitors as we would like to be treated ourselves. We can do no more.

Bring on the weekend……..

BBC News – Worker dies on North Yorkshire Moors heritage railway

BBC News – Worker dies on North Yorkshire Moors heritage railway

My deepest sympathies to the mans family and all his colleagues on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Tragic events like this should make us realise that Heritage Railways are not large train sets or adult toys, they are places of enjoyment that can become dangerous without warning. They are the proper railway and all items on that railway should be treated with respect by both workers and visitors.

My thoughts are with all those involved in this tragic incident.

Still no sign of steam

Second day of the spring diesel gala today, not ideal weather, but the visitors seemed to be enjoying themselves.

As with yesterday a few shots before we start to rabbit on about the day.

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As you can see the weather was not exactly inspiring to say the least.

Not as busy ticket wise as yesterday but the shop did more, mainly in tea and coffee, I suspect to keep out the cold as it was cooler today and there was a cold wind as well.

The highlight as yesterday seems to have been the arrival and departure of the class 66, ironic that the newest locomotive on a heritage railway gala should appear to be the most popular. Especially as it was straight off a coal train and covered in coal dust.

Now the sharp eyed amongst you will have looked at the first picture and thought that it is the same as the picture I posted yesterday, well your wrong look at the head code.

Quiet tame customers today and the day flowed, Paddy and Nathan with me though Nathan tootled off to do other things and just Paddy and I for the second half of the day.

Keith was in the box when needed and I met his daughter in the afternoon, a nice person it seems and looking not a lot like Keith, I mean she has hair for a start. But I was unable to coax any juicy gossip from her about Keith which was a shame, but there you go.

That really sums up the weekend, as far as galas go it just flowed, which is unusual but I am not knocking it.

Busy week ahead but hopefully will do a blog post at some stage as I am still thinking of a subject to rattle on about.

Watch this space as they say.

Not a steam locomotive in sight

Spring diesel gala this weekend, all excitement amongst the diesel fans.

Good selection of locomotives running and the visitors all seemed happy, not that many of them smiled, they just did not frown as much as they could.

Not a good day for photography, so before we get to the exciting part of the days events here are a few pictures I managed to find time to take.

    

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See I told you can’t you just feel the excitement!!!

Now I always expect a few shall we say unusual requests and I was not disappointed today. Take the first barmpot of the day he bought a return ticket to Peterborough, then enquired if he could use the Peterborough to Orton part before the Orton to Peterborough part, I mean  why not just buy the ticket at the station you planned to travel from first once you had decided.

Other highlight was a chap pouring out the water from the dog bowl and putting some of his tea in it for his dog, now he did ask first but it seemed a bizarre thing to do. Unless of course the dog is his official taster and he assumed the tea was poisoned.

Other than that I will admit the day was quite tame, Nigel and Nathan with me today and it just flowed.

Not as busy as I would have liked, but with no passing service there was no real reason to get off at my station.

Now we will see what Sunday brings.

Well that’s another one off the calendar.

Weekdays are rarely exciting at the station, in fact you could be mistaken for thinking they are downright boring, in truth you would not be far off.

But I was expecting a delivery of ice cream, so I was there promptly at 9am, shame it arrived just before 5pm, but there you are these things happen. Especially if the company concerned fails to contact me about rescheduled deliveries.

Let us say we exchanged views on the subject and they sent out a special delivery to me, that was appreciated even if the totals were wrong.

But enough of the excitement, let’s get back to the boring stuff. I had a lovely couple in for the first train, they were staying up at the local hotel and planned a couple of trips on the railway before starting off for home. We chatted for about 30 minutes whilst waiting for the first service and they were really nice people. Brightened up my morning they did.

But all back to normal in the afternoon. It was sunny but with a cold wind, which come to think of it is a good description for many mother in-laws!!!!

As always for a week day we had the dog walkers, the men on their own wandering about plus a number of cyclists dicing with death from the speed they were going. Mind you out of choice I would not hang about in the area too long either.

So all in all an average Wednesday. See never let it be said it’s not exciting working at a station!!!

Why not write about other things you know about?

The above question was in an email I received this morning.

It set me thinking, and that’s never wise on a Monday morning. What could I write about things I know about?

First of course you need a subject, not only that but a subject that could be of interest to others.

I mean say I chose writing about the rear end of fly as seen 10 feet away, I mean how boring would that be especially as I know nothing on the subject. If anybody reading this is an expert on the subject then I will be only too pleased to let you do a guest posting. I do not expect a rush!!

I suppose I could give my thoughts on the subject of women, after all I know lots of them and I am married to one. Then again perhaps not, despite 25 years of marriage women are a black art to me and long ago I gave up trying to understand them. I decided that trying to understand women was like trying to kick into a ball into a constantly moving net! They are a rare breed in as much as they can go from tears to laughter in 2 seconds flat. They can spend an hour deciding what to wear, trying on various things until they settle on something they tried right at the start.

I suppose I could write about computers, I have been playing with them for longer than I care to remember, but they bore the backside off me so I am sure what I have to say about them would not be of much interest. They are not exactly exciting are they? How somebody can get excited over a screen, keyboard and boring looking metal box is beyond me. The same goes for tablets and laptops, they do nothing for me. This is being typed on a lap top but it’s just a tool and nothing more. I not really bothered what colour it is (Black before you ask) nor am I bothered about drive size, speed etc. As long as it does the job I want it to then I am happy. I have seen people go over the moon about a graphics card for example then they hide it in the computer, I mean if it floats you boat that much why not just mount the bloody thing on a wooden base and display it on the side somewhere. I mean why get excited about something that you may only see twice, once when you install it and the second when you take it out and scrap it for something better. I friend once said to me that his computer was “The Mutt’s Nuts” I am sorry but however I looked at his computer it looked nothing like dogs testicles.

Anyway I digress and have started to wander down a tangent so we will scamper back to the main path and go back to deciding what I can write about that I have knowledge of.

Actually I think I will go and get a coffee and give it more thought before I make a blog post from it.

TTFN

Signs of life

Today it was nice to see signs of life around the Mere with people out and about, Quiet to start with but ended up a steady day shop wise.

People came past the station and many came in which was nice to see, including a few old regulars I have not seen for many months.

It ended off what became a nice weekend and so different from last week.

Next week sees the Spring Diesel Gala, so hopefully the weather will be decent and we will have lots of visitors.

Open this Wednesday as well as we finally need a delivery of ice cream, so the excitement builds.

If the dry weather continues on Monday hope to get out and tackle the lawns before I need a guide to get me to the garden shed through the undergrowth.

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The picture above is included because it was the only one I took today and also because I like it, nice to have images again with a decent sky in them.

A big bright shiny thing

What a difference a week makes!

We had sunshine today and what a difference it made here are a couple of shots of the station first thing.

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Wall to wall sunshine first thing though it did cloud over later. Main service was pulled by the 4F, here are a couple of shots of it during the day, the first one was taken first service.

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You can see the clouds forming in the second picture on the third service of the day.

The railway also had a visitor today, a DMU from Hastings with a charter group of visitors, and what a nice bunch they were without exception. It’s always nice to have visiting groups to the railway and this group were a pleasure to speak to.

Here are a few shots of their DMU and the headboard called it “The Nene Machine” What a super name.

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The came to have a great day out and a super visit, and I hope they did so, it certainly seemed the case for four I spoke to on the Orton Mere Platform at the end of the day, they were a pleasure to have a quick natter with.

Jason was with me today and we also had visits from Paddy and his better half plus dog as well as Roger, his wife Heather and their dog as well. Peter made an appearance on his chariot as well, so all in all quite a gathering.

Quote of the day….

“Waht time is the first train?”

“10.40am”

“is there not one before that?”

“If there was then I would not have said that the 10.40 would be the first one”

The mind boggles, and I seem to have had that conversation before in the dim and distant past.

So there you have it, a really nice day all round, we had the S&T chaps down as well doing signalling work, I just wish I could educate them into bringing money!!!

Now to have a peaceful evening then more fun and games tomorrow.