Monthly Archives: February 2013

More Steam from two sources.

This is I hope a blog with more comments and observations about the two day steam gala we have just had on the railway.

I am now back at home in the office warming up with coffee and chicken salad sandwiches.

Now it’s fair to say this weekend has been cold with temperatures just above zero.

We had two guest locos running this weekend, though due to problems one called “Britannia” was not able to be in service today.

Overall it was a most enjoyable weekend despite some late running and we carried a decent number of passengers as well.

From the point of view of my station we did well in both ticket and shop sales, I lost count of the number of teas, coffees and hot chocolate drinks we sold, we even shifted some ice cream on Saturday as well.

Saturday saw Paddy & Peter with me whist today I had Jason & Sue my wife with me.

The urn went through water like there was no tomorrow and it’s a long time since I saw it filled so much and so often.

We were also running brake van rides up the Fletton loop which the railway recently finally purchased after leasing it for many years, these were popular and lot’s of people wanted a ride up through “Bandit” country to the point where we link onto the main rail network. Laura was the guard on these services and she made sure the fire was burning brightly in the guards van and several passengers commented it was the hottest they had been all day when they got off. Whether that was due to the fire or to Laura I did not ask!!

Here to go with the couple of pictures I posted yesterday are a few taken today, did not have time to take many as the paying public always have first priority on running days as without them there would be no running days.

CIMG1190     CIMG1192


You will see from the above that it was not shall we say very sunny.

So there you have it, a busy weekend where there was almost as much steam from the station urn as there was from the locomotives.

Cold old gala

Today was the first day of our two day winter steam gala.

Here are a couple of pictures quickly taken today of our two guest locomotives.

100_1089   100_1093

Paddy and Peter with me today and despite the cold it was a quite busy enjoyable day.

Fuller report tomorrow after the second and final day.

How is it coming along then?

I get a regular stream of emails asking me how the book is coming along. The short answer is fine thanks, but the long answer is a bit more complex, and as it makes a change from answering emails about the steam gala this weekend, here is, for want of a better description a potted complex answer.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am writing a book, and for the non-regulars benefit it’s a fictional story of a steam railway with no money. Or as one visitor to the station commented as we were chatting about the project it could be based on 99% of the heritage lines in the UK. Actually it’s not based on any specific line and certainly not the one I work on, but I accept that some people will never believe that, and even if it was set in darkest India and was a narrow gauge line they would still be convinced it was based on The Nene Valley Railway.

Now when I started the book I had planned for it to be finished now, and that I would be basking in the financial security I got from the 99p profit I made from the exercise. Alas as with many things in life it’s not quite turned out like that.

You see I have a problem, nothing new there then I can hear you all muttering. Well the problem is I am my own worst critic and I can spend ages writing a chapter which at the time of writing I am happy with, then when I read it back the next day I mutter what a load of rubbish or words similar to that and promptly delete it. It’s a good job I am writing with a word processor because if paper was involved then I would be knee deep in screwed up balls of the stuff, the waste bin would have long since drowned under the stuff, the government would be announcing a national paper shortage and people would be panic buying toilet rolls. Instead all that’s happening is that the keyboard on the laptop is getting more of a hammering than it should.

But we now come to the important bit, and that bit is that I am enjoying myself and the more I put words onto the screen the more I realise that I don’t just volunteer on a heritage railway I volunteer on a hotbed of intrigue, gossip and fun. I am finding it very difficult not to base any of the characters on specific people I know at the railway, after all there is such a rich source of characters available to me, with all their strengths and weaknesses, their egos and more often than not their good nature and their keenness to be helpful when I am mere amateur as far as railways are concerned ask them a question.

So there you have it you now all know how “Grumblemere Halt” is progressing, and that on this cold Friday morning all is well with the world, and that it’s going to be a bloody cold steam gala this weekend.

One more reason to buy a tablet computer

Ignore the language the visual says it all.

I have always wondered why the wife keeps her iPad in the kitchen!!

Bins and other general rubbish

Had Nathan with me today and he is always a pleasure to work with, he is good with visitors and like me he does not suffer fools gladly.

Today saw the great unveiling of the new rubbish bin built by Nathan and his grandfather.


That’s Nathan with the new bin. After much debate as to getting it out of and more importantly into the station we decided we needed a ramp up the step. Then we went for plan B where it will be taken in and out of the back door. A result and all are happy.

After this excitement we awaited the first service, the 4F ran today after the demise of the locomotive yesterday, for the graphic details refer to yesterdays post.

Here is the 4F arriving for first service.


Business was steady and it was likely the warmest day so far this year, we sold ice cream as well, which pleased me no end after all the excitement of getting it yesterday.

Visitor wise we had a stream of volunteers make an appearance and it was especially nice to see Sally & Nigel for the first time this year. Peter and Susan made an appearance as did Paddy who was in and out before I could even say hello, I would like to think it was because he was in a rush, but it may have been so I was not quick enough to mug him for any money he may have had. I must remember to ask him next time I see him. Jason appeared as well and went on the train, he alighted I gather at Ferry Meadows to get the bus home. The things people will do to avoid putting money in my till!

All in all a really nice day, enjoyable, steady and it was nice not to have to hug a fan heater or the urn all day.

Next weekend sees a winter steam gala and it’s success will depend so much on the weather. Personally I am looking forward to it immensely as the steam enthusiasts generally are a really nice bunco. A full report will of course appear here next weekend.

A duff chuff and a cat in distress.

Well today will go down in history as a funny old day.

After getting the ice cream sorted and other odds and ends, we settled down for what I hoped would be a busy day. Well it was but not in the way I hoped.

Staff were out and about up and down the line and a few popped in the station which was nice, shame they did not bring paying customers with them.

Customer wise we were shall we say not busy, the sun never really broke through and although it was a pleasant day it was not one for walking round the area. Especially with a number of paths closed due to flooding.

Train ran slightly late on all services then on the last one of the day the driver failed it at city centre. So the staff had to be collected so a rescue engine could be sent up, it finally ran hauled by a diesel 84 minutes late. So one failed chuff chuff.

To top it off whilst we were the spectators in the above event a chap was walking up and down the car park playing the bagpipes, well Jason said they were bagpipes personally I think he had a cat under his arm bum facing forwards and he was chewing on it’s tail. Thats what it sounded like anyway.

So it was an eventful ten and a half hours today, and none of it I am keen on being repeated.

You can always tell when it’s a quiet day when not one single soul asks about toilets, that is always a good gauge on how busy we are.

So hopefully a restful evening now and then back at the station tomorrow when hopefully we will have more paying customers today and less entertainment, I am not made for excitement.

It looks better in the dark

Early start today, got a phone call from the delivery driver just after 6am and at the station for 6.45am for the delivery.

I must say the area does look better in the dark!!

Still ice cream safely away and will be on show for when we open.

The River Nene is well up and has burst it’s banks behind my platform 2, which if nothing else will be a topic of conversation for the visitors who will look at the flooding in wonder and amazement.

Got young Jason with me today and no doubt he will be as chirpy as ever and will have his head in a railway magazine at every opportunity if we are quiet.

Right off now to check if the freezer is down low enough in temp to put the ice cream in, can’t you just feel the tension building to reach a peak as I display the first Cornetto of the year.

Cold weather due

Now you just watch us have a cold spell from Saturday or Sunday onwards. You can almost bet on it.

The reason being I have my first ice cream delivery of the year tomorrow (Saturday) and if this year runs to form like previous ones the weather will take a turn for the worse.

Still all those people who come in and see the staff huddled round an urn and a couple of fan heaters to keep warm will no longer be disappointed when they ask if we have ice cream in stock. Looking on the positive side it also means that I can put all my signage out and no longer trip over it round the station. There are only so many times you can bump you shin into a sign before you cease to enjoy it.

So if in the next couple of days you freeze or get soaked you know where to lay the blame, squarely at the feet of poor Old Arkwright!

A new toy for Arkwright

Well Arkwright has a new toy.

It runs off batteries if required (Get your mind out of the gutter this minute!!) and it runs off mains as well. See it was not what you thought it was.

Last Friday I splashed out and bought a new laptop. I have been so pleased with my iPad that I bought a Mac Book Pro. Now I did not go wild for the version with the Retina display for several reasons. Instead I went for the standard version for the following reasons.

1. Ethernet port (The Retina version is as it comes out of the box wi-fi only.)
2. CD-ROM Drive (This is not on the newer version as standard)
3. Mechanical hard drive (It’s an SSD on the newer version)

So your all thinking what are my impressions of the device. Well the answer is I am over the moon with it and if I had the money I would kick my windows desktop and laptop machines out of the door and replace them with Mac’s.

The build quality is excellent, the screen is superb, the operating system is so much better than Windows and last but not least I love the keyboard.

I have never for some reason been a fan of Solid State Drives, I have seen too many stories of problems with accompanying videos on the internet. So a normal 500Gb hard drive was the logical choice.

The same with the ethernet port, it’s quicker and more secure than wireless so again a no brainer for use in the office.

I know that CD-ROM drives are being replaced by other methods of both storage and for installing software but I have no desire to have to download new software, especially big suites size wise like Office for the Mac.

Now of course there is a learning curve when you swap to a new operating system but in this case the run up the curve has been quick and easy. The machine has the facility to dual boot and instal Windows if I wish, but I can’t think of a single reason as to why I would want to to be honest.

So there you have it, Arkwright’s new toy, the old laptop running Windows 8 is still in use but more and more stuff is being put on the new machine every day, and I can see it continuing. Funny to think that the old laptop is less that eighteen months old but already it’s being replaced by a new machine. I may stick it down the station so I can look things up for visitors but we shall have to see.

Slow slow, slow slow slow

I think it’s fair to say we were not exactly rushed today. Had Peter and his daughter Susan with me and we had plenty of time for coffee!!!

Trains were almost on time and there were people travelling, but the rain all day did not help plus the fact it was colder than yesterday.

But we took money from those that did travel and had chats with some really nice people, so a really nice day overall.

Running services Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday but I am not open until next weekend, too much on work wise and weekdays are never successful at the station even in decent weather and this coming week is forecast to be cold.

Talking of cold here are a couple of pictures from a friend of mine in Nova Scotia, thankfully we don’t have snow like this here.

Sunday February 10th, 2013 002     Out Feb 10th 005

Almost makes me grateful for the rain today!!!