Monthly Archives: March 2013

Not an have it away day ticket

I had it off today….. No, No get your minds out of the gutter. let me put it another way….. I stayed in bed for longer No, No you will take that the wrong way…. In simple terms I had a day off from the railway, now that describes it better. What do you mean you thought the first explanation was more interesting? Honestly tut tut tut!

Anyway today once again Peter & Susan his daughter who should not be confused with Sue who is my wife or as she prefers to call herself my commanding officer offered to run the station. Now I am never one to deter people who are crackers, let’s be honest if I did that I would have no staff!

So one of the conditions of him running the station was that he do a piece for the blog. So here in Peters own words are their experiences of being at the cutting edge of heritage railway station management, or in simple terms the poor souls who spent the day in the cold.

Well here I am recovering from the cold after baby sitting Orton Mere for Robert who had an Easter treat, he had the day off.

I heard he had egg on toast this morning but unfortunately the eggs melted. Susan was with me today and the day flowed, a steady stream of customers, some tickets sold, the big selling point hot drinks. We did manage to sell some ice cream and cold drinks but not a lot. The trains were on time mostly, the guards as usual taking the mickey out of me one even wore a pair of Rabbit ears but I wont go into that. I hope the weather is warmer next  time. see you all soon.

As you can see Peter is a man of few words and few sentences, but it’s the thought that counts so I am always told.

It looks as though I missed not a lot, except perhaps a pair of rabbit ears, I suppose the significance of the ears was the Easter bunny theme, still could have been worse she could have dressed as a chicken and laid a chocolate egg on the platform at each station. Now that would have been a sight, it’s not often you see a guard straining themselves, especially crouched down in a cold wind!

So there you have it an exciting action filled day, as for me I spent the day mainly on the computer, so no change there then.

Tomorrow I have Jason with me, so I have started the treatment of Vallium every two hours already in preparation for him being on form bless the lad. The keen ones like Jason make the railway tick and we could not do without them, I just wish he would come with a low battery sometimes when he helps at the station!!!

 

It’s getting better

Well unlike yesterday today exceeded expectations.

It actually ended up not a bad day at all, ignoring the fact that we had some flurries of snow first thing, we had sunshine after lunch and a few people decided to come out and enjoy it despite the fact it was just above zero.

We took some money at the station which is always nice and also we had some really nice people in, Paddy was with me and the day just flowed which of late has been rare.

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday I am home, Peter and his daughter Susan are running the station so I get a day at home with Sue as a bonus.

Back though on Easter Monday with young Jason.

The temperature as I am writing this has dipped below zero, so time to crank up the heating and grab a mug of hot coffee and look forward to a rare lie in on Sunday morning, cut short of course by the fact that the clock go an hour forward at 2am Sunday morning. Now this clock changing twice a year used to be a pain, but these days most clocks are either radio controlled or in equipment that knows that they need to be changed, our computers and cellphones being two good examples. So in the morning we have just one clock in the whole house that needs to be changed. But that will be done tomorrow morning, now it’s time to relax with some music…..

Good!!!!! Friday

Let us say that today lived up to what was expected of it.

We had, in no particular order:- Snow, cold wind, sunshine, dark clouds and last but not least freezing temperatures. Or in simple terms the ideal mix for the first day of the Easter extended weekend, and people still wonder why people go abroad for Easter!!

Locally the buses were as mixed as ever with the majority on a Sunday service and the rest on a Saturday service, with a few that would have normally run on a saturday service missing for good measure. The shops opened as usual for 9am and the majority of services did not arrive in town until 9.30 at the earliest. To top it off the online service checkers were showing a normal Friday service.

As for the railway we ran a blue service with three each way. The first one was a little on the quiet side passenger wise. The sensible people were in their nice warm houses.

Now it must be said even with the above doom and gloom we did see a few people after hot drinks and we had some really nice people in, including a family who travelled first train to Wansford.

Staffing wise there was Myself and Rosemary, but we were not rushed and Rosemary got a bit of gardening in as well planting a couple of plants between  trains.

Hopefully the rest of Easter will be better, but I am not holding my breath to be honest, you can always tell when it’s cold the ticket inspectors do not poke their heads out to say hello.

The crew were their normal cheerful selves and waved to any potential punters that were about.

Unless we have a rapid heat wave and wall to wall sunshine I can’t see us running out of cold drinks and ice cream. Somebody commented today that it’s been the coldest March for 60 years, I am not going to dispute that for one moment.

With Paddy tomorrow and a service of six each way so hopefully that will being a few out and about, whether they bring their money with them is of course the unknown factor.

An early bath

Well we stared the day with snow, here are a couple of pictures taken before first service should have arrived.

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As you can see it was not the most cheerful of places.

Due to a locomotive problem out at Yarwell the first service was cancelled followed shortly after by a cancellation of all services for the day.

So just a matter of locating a passenger who had bought a ticket and offering a refund, then locking up and coming home.

It was it must be said not the most successful of days.

Why the hell do you do it?

One question I often get asked by visitors, especially if it’s a cold, wet and miserable day is why we volunteer.

Now that appears such a simple question and indeed perhaps it is but the answer is not so simple. People volunteer to do things for many reasons, for example from a genuine enjoyment of what they are doing, to the desire to just help out, to the wish to do something totally different from their normal job in the week.

Being realistic I would guess that most people do it for a combination of all of the above reasons with perhaps a few others thrown into the mix for good measure.

So why do I do it?

Contrary to the belief of a few I can’t read minds so I can only speak for myself. Now it’s a well known fact amongst regular readers of this blog that I am not a big fan of trains irrespective of wether they are steam or diesel, but I do like to take pictures of them. Steam trains are very photogenic especially on a nice clear sunny crisp winters day. Working on the railway means I can give a little back for the pleasure the railway has helped provide for my photography.

But I also do it because I enjoy doing it, and the day I cease enjoying it then I will stop and go and do something else, it’s as simple as that.

Now I am aware that many people volunteer on something like a heritage railway so they can ride up and down all day behind a steam train and often do not a lot thats useful. There is so I am told by many something magical about travelling behind a lump of metal belching smoke and filled with boiling water. Of leaning out of a window and ending up with a dirty face. Well that may be true but not for me.

I just like nattering to people, I suppose it’s because deep down I have a nosey streak in me. Nothing gives me more pleasure at the weekend that taking some money off people then having a natter with them whilst awaiting the train which more often than not will be slightly late.

Every visitor has a story to tell and it’s just a matter of finding a way to get them to tell you that story. Now not every visitor is there to travel, some may be out on their bike, some walking little cuddles their often ugly and smelly dog, others may be out for exercise and in the case of a few regular men out to get away from the wife finding them a job around the house. I often wonder if really Orton Mere Station is just an adult creche.

It’s also known amongst the regulars that I don’t suffer fools gladly, irrespective of wether those fools are fellow volunteers or visitors. I have a very low idiot threshold level. Now I appreciate some visitors are not the brightest crayons in the box but funny enough they are often the nicest to talk to, they don’t try to be who they aren’t they don’t try and impress with their knowledge they are just themselves. Having a chat with them can make the day worthwhile.

But the thing that gives me the most pleasure from volunteering is to see the look on peoples faces when they return back on the train, the children are smiling, the fathers are smiling and the mothers are glad it’s all over. I always try and have a few words with all returning passengers, to see if they enjoyed it and hopefully put it into their heads to return again.

So there you have it, to sum up the above in a few words I do it because I enjoy it. Even when some volunteers only turn out for the good stuff on the sunny hot summer days and aren’t seen during the winter or when it’s wet. I just hope that the fair weather volunteers remember that if it were not for those who turn up on the cold wet crappie days to get the money in for the railway to operate and to be the public face of the railway to those welcome visitors that have braved the cold then there may not be a railway to run on the sunny hot days.

The next time your sitting at home bored with the TV and of listening to the wife go on about the need for a new washing machine or your husband going on about his need for a new computer to replace the one he doesn’t use, you think about volunteering somewhere, it does not matter where as long as you enjoy it, because if you do you will have an enjoyable time and meet lots of really nice people.

Here ends the lesson.

The railway has lost a working member & I have lost a friend.

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Eddie Purchase

This weekend the railway lost a valued and committed working member and I personally lost a friend.

Today I received news that Eddie Purchase had passed away. He was a true gentleman. It’s fair to say that he was at his best and his happiest on the railway when he was talking to the visitors.

Eddie had what’s called “The Knack” with people, no matter what the circumstances just chatting to Eddie always reminded you of chatting to your favourite uncle.

Personally I always knew that when I worked with Eddie no matter how difficult the day was likely to be that somehow just working with him would make it so much easier.

I had the pleasure of working with Eddie many times over the years and he helped me many times at Orton Mere, here is a picture taken at the station of him relaxing between trains.

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He was always laid back and days working with him just flowed, I never saw him raise his voice or loose his temper, and I honestly think you could not have provoked him if you had hit him on the back of the head with a shovel.

So thank you Eddie for the times you helped me, thank you for the times you popped your head out of the carriage to just say hello and thank you especially for not only being a friend but for just being “Eddie”. You will be sadly missed as you left your mark and good memories with everybody who was privileged to meet you.

May you rest in peace.

It was done all in a flurry

I think it’s is fair to say that today was quiet, as well as quiet it was cold, windy and subject to the occasional flurries of snow.

Rosemary appeared and planted a few plants she had bought with her, it takes a hardy person to be a gardener so it appears.

Certainly not many people about but the few we did see spent a few pounds and it was one of those rare days when we sold more in the shop than we did in tickets. But at least we took some money.

One chap stuck his head round the door and asked if we were open, he seemed surprised that the answer was yes, despite the fact that in plain view were four customers seated and working their way down cups of coffee. When I said yes he nodded and promptly disappeared, still I suppose it takes all sorts even in cold weather.

Sue the wife was with me today and she is never keen on being down at the station in the, and she positioned herself so she could keep an eye on a fan heater and the urn, her iPad also got a fair hammering as we.

So there you have it a cold dismal quiet day on the railway. The cutting edge of the heritage railway movement.

So many speak, so few listen.

Having got tired of tootling through the world grace of Google Earth and street view looking at places I would love to live but could never afford I have turned my attention to surfing through blogs.

Some are really entertaining and well worth the read whilst others are such that if you called them dire the writer would perhaps look on it as a complement.

As many of you who know me know I started this one simply as a replacement for the yearly anecdotes I had been writing since joining the Nene Valley Railway as a volunteer. With just one article a year I was missing stuff out that I had forgotten, I used to jot things that amused me in a note book, but when I ended up not remembering where I had put it I decided to call it a day with the stories and start the blog, at least now I don’t forget as much in the time it takes me to get from station to keyboard. I have even done a couple of live blogs when I have had the computer at the station and something of note has happened. I get enjoyment writing it and if a few people get enjoyment reading it then that’s OK with me. I have a steady stream through the year of people visiting the station simply because they have read this blog, and that gives me pleasure I must admit. A few of the NVR volunteers have even admitted to reading it, I would guess it is so they don’t miss anything that happens out in the wild country where my station is located.

Anyway back to these other blogs, as I said some have really amused me and I will be looking at them again sometime in the future, unless I forget of course. There are some really talented and skilled writers out there who are far better than I will ever be. But there are some that you read and they deal with that persons day to day life and you end up thinking what a poor sad boring life they lead, I mean there are only so many ways for example you can describe how you’re late for work. Actually some could make the blog shorter by just mentioning the days when they are on time. One went into great depth on the subject of them buying cat food, blimey even the cat would have got bored reading it and the cat food was for them!

I should point out that there are about six blogs that I am a real fan of and follow on a regular basis as they amuse and entertain me, shame only two are done by people in the UK. What’s also interesting is that except for one all are written by women.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that much time can be wasted reading blogs, and you will get enjoyment from doing so if your prepared to accept that at the end of it you will be in one of two mental states, one the one hand your feeling relaxed by what you have read and on the other your just about ready to top yourself from the depression you feel from what you have read. Of course if your really lucky then you will end up somewhere in-between.

So have a nose through some when you have some time to waste, and who knows if you pick enough terrible ones then you may even think this one is not too bad after all.

Have fun!!!!

Short Staff(ed)

This is from Peter who with his daughter baby sat the station today.

As you can see unlike me he is a man of few words.

Today Robert had a lazy day and left Peter and Susan in charge. We had a steady stream of customers and they were willing to part with their money without a complaint.

Some even asked after Robert thinking he might be ill, but I assured them that was not the case so the hand rubbing and smiles soon disappeared. Not a bad day the highlight of the day being the last service of the day to Peterborough managed to set fire to the points at the far end of the platform and I had to carry a bucket of water to put it out.

As you can see Old Arkwright missed an exciting day!!!

Special offer for one day only.

All change at the station on Sunday (3rd). Your wallets can rest easy I am having the weekend off.

The station will be run by Peter and his daughter Susan.

After the excitement of the evening corporate event on Friday, I am recovering. Mind you it was worth going down for the fish & chips that Jason got from the local chippie.

Those of you who know the station will know we have no platform lights so we made sure the train was in complete with it’s carriage lights on before we let them wander down the platform. Still it made a change to see a train out with light signals.

However, once it was gone the platform was blacker than the bottom of my wallet. It was about as empty as well.

Had Peter and Jason with me as cover, between the train going and getting back Peter & I amused ourselves with our tablets, Jason had a steam magazine which can’t have been a good issue as unusually it did not stop him talking. I knew I should have taken my headphones! Still easy to be wise after the event I suppose.

So tomorrow I can hopefully get out in the garden and start getting it sorted, that will be exciting I am not a lover of gardening I will freely admit.

Mind you I could look on the bright side and hope for rain.

I have invited Peter to do a guest blog post for Sunday, but he may find it so quiet he will just put “No Comment” time will tell, as they say Watch this space!!!