But what was your favourite bit?

I received an email this afternoon and the question it asked was simple, it was “What was your favourite bit this year?”

Well that’s easy to answer, but first lets look at some of the bits that were not my favourite bit.

The steam gala was the event of the year, the weekend just flowed the trains were full and people travelled, Tornado, Bittern & City of Peterborough were one hell of a combination for visitors to travel behind especially as Bittern has never pulled services on the NVR before. It was the best weekend I have ever had on the railway.

The visits of Tornado which was with us twice in the year were popular and put the railway even more on the heritage map. If you want a photogenic locomotive then Tornado is the one.

The diesel galas, whilst bringing money in were as usual a slog, what makes the average diesel fan who attends these events generally rude, ignorant and lacking even the most basic of manners? I just don’t know do you?

We had the Olympic torch with both the dummy run and also the event itself, with the lantern being paraded down the platform, I am sorry but I don’t think it was worth the effort and costs involved.

So with that lot out of the way what was my favourite bit? Well that’s easy the best bit of the year occurred many times actually and that was speaking to passengers and visitors who had enjoyed their visit, and left the station happy and smiling. I always try and speak to as many people getting off when they return to my station as I can. Their smiles and comments make the whole thing worth while, nothing makes my day more than people having enjoyed their visit. They make the days when the weather is terrible and you stand seeing a train out with the rain pouring down the back of your neck and the cold wind chilling your bones insignificant.

Some of the volunteers seem to loose sight of the fact that if it was not for the paying public there would be no railway, the keenness of the members alone cannot pay for the coal, diesel and other running costs. Without the visitors we would not have the enjoyable days we do at the railway.

This will be the last blog of 2012 and I would like to thank all those who have helped me at the station in the last twelve months, even if you did just a few days we could not have done it without you, so my sincere thanks to you all and I look forward to working with you all again in 2013. This year has been fun and I hope you all enjoyed it with me.

But my special thanks to my ever suffering wife Sue, I know she has helped me when she would rather be at home than hugging the Urn in the kitchen to keep warm when the temperature was below zero. She may not realise it until she reads this but the days we do together at Orton Mere are very special to me and I thank her for every one of them.

So to the Volunteers, the visiting public and especially the paying passengers who make the whole thing so special.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and please bring your money with you again to the station in 2013!!!!

 

Closed this weekend at Orton Mere

I have decided due to the flooding not to open the station this weekend. Services will stop there if anybody fancies a paddle but the building wont be open.

The main road is flooded as are all the paths round the station so it would be a quiet cold dismal day.

So if your visiting the railway this weekend and fancied getting off to look at the Mere and the Staunch I would not bother, I would stay on the train enjoy the trip and visit the bar.

Certainly this weather has affected Nene Park and the surrounding area, the river by the station has burst it’s banks and the rowing lake about a quarter of a mile away is now connected to the main river with water as far as you can see. The moorings that were built on the bank opposite the station are all under water and the top of the rails can just be seen.

Not even the dog walkers were about yesterday. So hopefully we will be back open on the 13th January which is the next day after this weekend that we are running services.

It will be a real strain sitting in the warm this coming weekend, but I am sure I will manage.

Orton Mere by the sea.

Well here we are at the station renamed for the day as Orton Mere by the sea.

The road down to the mere is flooded, the river has burst it’s banks and the rowing lake is now joined to the main river under the road bridge and across the meadow.

Not nice at all. Here for the first time since the beginning of November and it’s just like I have never been away!

Still debating about opening at the weekend and if I will need to do mooring fees for any boat attached to my fence!

Oh well on with the cleaning.

I survived Christmas Day

Well that’s Christmas Day out of the way for another year!!!

I must admit we had an enjoyable day over at mum’s and managed an afternoon doze as well.

Now those of you paying attention will remember that today (Boxing Day) I was due to spend with mum, well that’s all changed as she now has some visitors, so I am off the hook.

All being well I will have a relaxing day and potter about and hopefully write some more of the book.

Tomorrow unless we have six foot of snow Jason and I are off to sort out the station ready for opening on Saturday, now you just watch the weekend turn cold and there will be a wind that will blow right through the station building. I would put money on it.

Now to go and make the first coffee of the day and keep well out of the way of the office and the business email.

Counselling assistance available

Well not only is Tuesday Christmas day it is also a day where the supermarkets are closed, how will some people survive!!

Because of the Sunday trading laws today our local Tesco will be opening at Midnight Sunday evening and then staying open through the night and day until 7pm on Christmas Eve.

I mean I ask you if the shopping lemmings don’t have what they want for Christmas already then there is no hope really. I am sure without doubt that some silly sod will be hammering on their grills tomorrow evening when they are shut demanding to be let in to shop!!! When they refuse I am sure the person will utter the immortal words “YOU HAVE RUINED CHRISTMAS!!”

You don’t believe me? Well this is based on my experience of Christmas Eve in retail and I spent 17 years in the industry!!

They will be in there Christmas Eve with full trolleys and empty Christmas Spirit buying stuff that they don’t need or for that matter often want plus in many cases what they can’t afford, but the shops will be shut Christmas Day so they must buy stuff just in case!

Reading the paper today I see that Amazon is starting it’s post Christmas & New Year Sale at 9am Christmas Day. They will be having I gather some short time offers through the day, I mean can’t they just hold back one day?

I remember when Christmas was a time for being with family and friends, these days it’s a time to out buy people gift wise then spend months moaning that you spent more money on them than they did on you. Some will moan about non-arrival of Christmas cards, you know those cardboard things that arrive from people you had forgotten existed and who you only hear from at Christmas.

Seeing the way some people behave this time of year in the name of celebrating a birth that allegedly took place in little more than a up market shed, it makes me relieved that I am an Atheist!!

Whatever your beliefs or otherwise have a great 25th December, remember those who are on their own and take care of yourself and those around you, and be grateful if your not working in retail on 26th December when all the madness starts again.

This could almost be Old Arkwright

A couple were Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and the whole place was heaving, packed with other last minute shoppers.

Walking through the shopping centre the surprised wife looked up from a window display and noticed her husband was nowhere to be seen. She knew they had lots still to do and she became very upset.

She rummaged in her handbag and found her mobile phoned then used it to call her husband to ask him where he was.

The husband in a calm voice replied: "Darling, you remember the jewellery shop we went into five years ago, where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we could not afford and I told you that one day I would get it for you…?"

His wife’s eyes filled with tears of emotion, she began to cry softly and stifling a sob she whispered:"Yes, I remember that jewellery shop…"

"Well," he said, "I’m in the pub next to it!"

It almost brings tears to my eyes. Except it can’t be me as I don’t drink Alcohol.

It’s been just over a month now.

Well it’s been just over a month since I upgraded the laptop to Windows 8 from running Windows 7 and I thought you might be interested to know how I am getting on with the software.

The fact is I love it, now I know it’s been designed for use with a touch screen and I just run a normal computer, but I would not swap back to Windows 7.

The Metro interface is a doddle even with a mouse and keyboard and one click just puts you to a traditional desktop anyway. Anybody who says you cant use Windows 8 without a touch screen system is talking out of their rear end.

The main desktop machine which is mainly used for the business stuff uses Windows 7, that machine was upgraded from Vista the day Windows 7 was available. I find no problem swapping between the two operating systems, and they are fully networked together with the wife’s laptop so all files are Synchronised anyway. The stuff on the main machine is backed up over night seven nights a week and the stuff on this machine is backed up automatically when the machine is first switched on each day both to external onsite and offsite storage.

One thing I did do with this machine was do a clean install of Windows 8 when I finally received the ordered CD’s from Microsoft, there was lots of junk on it and software I no longer use so it was an ideal time for a cleanout. Originally I upgraded from version 7.

The clean install was a doddle and the easiest I have ever done, I have a Microsoft account and my settings are stored there and were all put back on the machine when I ran the new install for the first time. If only a clean install of Windows 7 was as easy and quick.

The software on CD is supplied in both 32 and 64 bit versions which is great.

So overall I am pleased I did the upgrade and as soon as I replace some ancient software on the desktop that wont run on 8 then I will upgrade that machine to Windows 8 as well.

Quick keys are used and make life very easy, I run Firefox and Mozilla for browsing and email and both run very well with no problems. The one thing I am not impressed with is the email client on Windows 8 it lacks a few basics and is not used. Internet Explorer 10 runs well as the included browser and is fast and clean, but as i said I use Firefox as the default browser on all machines.

So there you have it Arkwright is happy and all is well with the world, well at the moment anyway!!!

Arkwright’s take on the festive season.

I have received a few emails from some of the desperate followers of this blog asking if I am still alive and kicking. Well as you can see the answer is yes. I do wonder if I had been away from the email and without net access if the next thing would have been flowers at the door? They would have made a change from the cigarette ends, drink cans and Mucky D wrappers that normally blow round the cul-de-sac and which the neighbours eye and avoid hoping that by the time they return the rubbish will have blown in front of somebody else’s house.

My neighbours are thoughtful like that, they would never pick something up and in the process deprive somebody else from getting the exercise doing it. See they always think of other people!!!

Now you can’t help but notice that strange shaped envelopes in various colours have started popping through the letter box, now for my American followers perhaps I should point out that this side of the pond we have letterboxes in our front doors normally where the postman can push our letters, we don’t have tin tunnels on posts by the roadside so no trekking in all weathers for us to see what junk has come that day. Right now where was I? Oh yes these envelopes, has anybody else noticed how small they all seem to be this year?  There is a trend for small Christmas cards. Or perhaps the people sending them to the wife and I don’t think we are worth anything bigger.

Christmas cards are strange things, people send them yearly to people they don’t think about for the rest of the year, stating they hope they will have a Merry Christmas etc. when really the could not give a toss how the person will be spending Christmas, as long as it’s not with them of course. It’s a tradition I have never got my head round, I have known people over the years who have kept lists of those cards sent out and they strike off the list anybody who does not send them a card in return so they don’t send another next year.

Now it would be normal in a blog to ask how my followers will be spending the festive season, well this is not a normal blog, I know the sensible ones will be sitting with their feet up with a couple of mince pies and some booze watching the same films as last year on the TV, the unfortunate ones will be at the in-laws thanking them for the hideous gift they received, that’s been added to those they got in the previous 5+ years and will with a bit of luck never see the light of day. If your one of those who plan to give an unexpected sweater you watch you will only be invited to the recipient’s house in the summer when they wont need to parade themselves in front of you wearing it, assuming of course they could find it and it’s not bedding in the dog’s basket. The really unfortunate ones will be working! Sue my wife is working Boxing day, that day when everybody is so cheesed off with the rubbish on TV and sick to the back teeth of turkey and decide to hit the local shops. Not to buy anything of course, they sold their soul to their credit card before Christmas to buy presents that nobody wants anyway.

Now I will make a bet that at least a couple of these souls will utter to the wife that she has their sympathies having to work. Sue will choke back the immortal answer that if they weren’t out bloody window shopping and wandering round aimlessly then she would not be working and instead would be at home in the warm knocking back the second bottle of sherry and the third box of mince pies.

Some of course will be returning faulty and/or unwanted gifts, you know the kind of stuff I mean, stuff like the aftershave that smells like a dog’s rear end, that hideous present or the slippers that make a middle aged woman look like she is knocking 80 age wise. Now with the explosion of online shopping many will order online and then pick up from their local store, the fact that the store had the stuff in anyway will escape their notice, or you will wait for the box from Amazon or some online shopping channel that has convinced you to buy their latest junk that will wash the car better, hold your arse in so you don’t look as fat or push your boobs out to entice some poor sod to look at them rather than your face which still looks like the rear end of the coal man’s horse.

What they don’t realise is that by not shopping locally they are putting another nail in the coffin of the high street shop. Sue is always at pain to point out that they are quick enough to order online and avoid her shop like the plague but really keen to come into the shop when they have a problem. Shops can’t survive on returns alone, remember that when your favourite little shop closes, you know the one you raved about but never bought anything at because you could get it online.

Now I know your all dying to know what I will be doing over Christmas, will I be sitting by candlelight counting my money or will I be going round the neighbours rubbish bins looking for treasure? Well the answer is neither of those, I am not wasting money on matches to light candles, what an extravagance. No Sue and I are spending Christmas day over at mums, rather than she coming to us, so we can’t do the old joke that we are having mum at Christmas because although tougher she is cheaper than a turkey!  Sue is at work as I have said on Boxing day so I will be spending the time with mum, having a mother & son day. Now before you say that it’s a nice gesture I should point out that it does mean my heating will be off and I can save money not burning fuel!! Actually I am looking forward to it, she has more channels on the TV and a reclining chair I can have a kip in after lunch.

Business wise the company will be closed from midday on Christmas eve to 9am 2nd January 2013, the phones wont be answered and the business email won’t be checked. To be perfectly honest I just feel mentally drained and in need of a rest, and Christmas will be it.

We will open the station weather permitting on the 29th/30th December as we are running services and it will be nice to get back into the swing of things.

So if your bored then come to the station and see us on the 29th/30th and have a hot drink and say hello, but please don’t bring any mince pies or you will be going home with your eyes watering and walking funny, as bringing mince pies will guarantee that the turkey won’t be the only thing to have something shoved in it!!!!