Well that was a good weekend.

This weekend was the Goodbye Thomas weekend, and we were busy at the station.

Now perhaps I should explain that every ten years a steam locomotive has a major overhaul and is stripped down to almost component parts, the boiler is tested and then certified, the locomotive is then put back together and then goes back into service.

Now this assumes of course that the owner has the money and facilities to have that done. In many cases locomotives out of ticket sit rotting due to nothing other than lack of money. Whilst owning and driving a steam train is the dream of many it’s a very expensive dream to make come true.

So that’s what is happening to Thomas, and just so everybody remembers him between now and when he comes back into service hopefully at the end of 2014 here is a picture of him passing through my stationon one of his big adventures.

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Anyway back to this weekend.

It was really nice to be busy at the station with people off to see and ride behind Thomas. We even had a touch of excitement on Saturday when the third service which was steam hauled failed at my station. We had a sudden rush for ice cream and drinks from the passengers. Cris who was helping me on Saturday coped very well though he looked a bit shell shocked afterwards. I also had Nathan with me and he volunteered to take the second man and the staff down to Wansford so a rescue locomotive could come up the line.

Apparently some visitors thought this was all part of the show on the Thomas weekend where the diesel had to rescue the naughty steam train!! Judging by the comments perhaps we should have failures more often!

Sunday was more sedate, if you can call a day with Paddy and Jason helping sedate. They are like two terriers on speed!!! Rosemary was in attendance also doing the garden and nagging me like a substitute mother from time to time, but she is always welcome at the station and her commitment and enthusiasm puts some others to shame.

But the most welcome thing all weekend was the sunshine, it certainly helped bring in the visitors, I had two excellent days overall for shop and ticket sales which has cheered me up no end.

All the visitors without exception were a pleasure to deal with and special mention must be made of some visitors today from America, the three children were charming and the adults were a pleasure to chat too, in fact they made the day of all the staff, and I am pleased to report that they enjoyed themselves immensely when we spoke to them again on their return. Oh that all customers/passengers were so nice to deal with.

So there you have it, for the next eighteen months or so Thomas will be in the workshop. He will be missed by visitors of all ages.

Roger Vigar G6TAV

Today I learnt the sad news that Roger who has worked with me at the station in the past died last night.

Roger had not been well for a long time, a few years ago he contracted motor neurone disease. Despite this his wife Heather bought him down to the station on a regular basis to chat with the staff and look at the trains.

I knew Roger before I got involved with the railway, both of us holding amateur radio licences, Rogers callsign was G6TAV, and we had worked each other many times on the radio.

Here is a picture of Roger taken at the railway a few years ago. In 2006 if I remember correctly.

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Roger you will be missed, it was always a pleasure to work with you on the railway and also work you on the air.

R.I.P Old Friend. G6TAV DE G4PYR AR SK

 

Errr just like yesterday.

Well today was a repeat of yesterday.

A quiet day with intermittent showers and customers.

As with yesterday at least what we had spent money, so not a total failure.

We really need some good summer weather to get people out to enjoy the summer and spend money, but if you read some of the gloom tales this is what our summers will be like in the future.

Mind you this time last year they were saying that the summers of the future would be complete with droughts and water shortages, look how wrong they have been proved.

Intermittent showers interrupted by customers

Today is one of those days where you’re glad of electronic devices for amusement. The smartphones have taken a hammering today providing amusement for us both.

Except for the temperature it’s more like February than June, not many people about but nice to see a few on the train.

Average day considering the weather, certainly not one for many of the regulars to be out and about.

As well as a shortage of customers we also seem to have a shortage of change amongst those popping in and spending money, I ask you a £20 note for £2 of ice cream, it does tend to deplete the change in the till, still at least they are spending money so we can’t really complain.

Tomorrow we have more showers forecast  so an exciting Sunday ahead. I sometimes wonder how we cope with the excitement.

The excitement today can be judged from the fact I am doing the blog whilst at the station which is rare. Poor young Nathan who is with me today has already watched a couple of episodes of a TV series on his phone to keep the excitement at bay.

Earlier we tried a seance to make contact with the living, I am sorry to say we failed. Oh well at least we have the excitement of the last service to look forward to.

Well that was not what we expected.

This weekend has been quiet, we did check for a pulse on a regular basis and I am pleased there is no sign of death.

With a few local things going on a lot of my regulars were otherwise engaged, ticket sales were nothing to even whisper about.

Shop performed as expected.

To add to the excitement we even saw the sun a few times and here is a picture to prove it, taken today.

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So we will await next weekend and see if we can use it as a dummy run for the special Thomas weekend the week after.

 

A new slant on average.

We have just had one of those weekends where to call it average would be paying it a complement.
Cris and Paddy were with me on Saturday whilst Sunday saw Jason with me and Rosemary doing more excellent things in the garden.

Neither day could be called exactly busy, and whilst we sold tickets the shop/cafe was quiet.
The weather was not really on our side but looking on the bright side at least the wind on Sunday was warmer.

I always judge how busy we have been by how much charge is left in the battery of my iPad, and on both days there was not much.
Short of praying to the weather gods I don’t really know the answer, certainly the coldest spring for around 50 years is turning into the most dismal summer, at least on running days. All we can do of course is make the best of what we have and make sure what passengers/customers we do have receive good service and go away wanting to vosot again sometime in the future.

Over the next few months we have some really excellent special weekends coming up and hopefully they will be well attended and the sun will shine.

I will be opening this Wednesday which is unusual for me but we must get money into the till when we can, but weekday opening is never too successful at my station, it’s easier for people to park in the main part of Nene Park where in the week the parking is free. So we shall await Wednesday and see what it brings.

The Curse Of The Clacton Cowboy

Well today started yesterday.

I will explain. It’s normal for me to check a day or so before that people are still available to do their cover they offered for the station.

Well I sent a text to a certain volunteer, who I won’t embarrass by telling you it was Nathan confirming he was still available for today (Sunday) the answer I got back was just a tad more than four letters and a couple of exclamation marks.

He had forgotten he was down for the station, now this is not a cause for panic as it can happen, so we started to look for cover. But young Nathan had decided that he would right a wrong.  After all he had made a mistake and instead of a super day at the station he was off to Clacton.

The result was Jason was pressganged into providing cover for part of today and I also roped in Peter & Susan. All in all it was quite a party atmosphere at the station we were just missing the streamers, funny hats and a cake, by the way Nathan you owe all in attendance an ice cream!!

So with the excitement of staff movements (No rude jokes please!) the stage was set for hopefully a decent Sunday. I mean the sun was shining, the birds were twittering and all was well with the world. We even had a steam service.

But it almost happened but not quite, how can I describe the day? Well it was like going out for a 4 course meal, finding the restaurant shut and ending up in the chip shop. They came and they spent, not many and not much. But there we are, we made the best of what we had and a decent day was had by all. Some really nice customers and also it must be said some very well mannered children, they are a rarity these days.

So what could have been a disaster bought on by a blond moment from The Clacton Cowboy, ended up a most pleasant day. My thanks to Jason, Peter & Susan for stepping in at short notice, and also to The Clacton Cowboy who admitted his mistake and in credit to him made every effort to get it sorted. The bill by the way Nathan for the ice cream is £4.90p I hope you did not spend all your change on the Clacton fruit machines.

 

Keeping Entertained

Today was one of those days where you wondered if everybody had decided to have a lie in.

Shall we say it was quiet, the weather was nothing to get excited about and there were few people about.

However, with one exception all the people we had in were really nice and being quiet we could have a natter with them.

But mention must be made of our exception. He came in with his wife and uttered four words “Ice cream and toilets.”

He was pointed in the direction of the ice creams and informed that there were no public toilets. His wife replied that there were as the guide book said so. I never did catch a glimpse of this illusive guide book. Once again I repeated there were no public toilets. He then chipped in thay the the sign outside said there were. By this time he was starting to irritate me and it takes lot to do that So I just replied “It doesn’t.”

Out he went with the wife trailing behind to have a look and hopefully prove me wrong no doubt.

When he did not return I strolled out in time to see them walking away from the station and across the foot crossing towards the river. Now everybody makes mistakes and he could have easily come in admitted he misread the sign and that would have been then end of it, they could have bought their ice creams and all would be well with the world. Instead he chose to wander off and say nothing. As they say it takes all sorts.

We will see what excitement Sunday brings.