Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sunday comes but once a week…….

It was a funny old Sunday, as with yesterday the American steam locomotive was running and the diesel today was the class 31, here is a picture of it approaching from the city centre.

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The amazing thing about the above picture is that the sun was actually shining. It managed to do so for about fifteen minutes and that was it for the day. Weather wise the day did nothing to inspire.

Business wise actually was not too bad at all considering the weather. My wife Susan was with me today, so I was almost on my best behaviour, there was a drop this week in the non-paying public. Now I would like to think that somebody has had a cull on my behalf, but that’s wishful thinking, I just think luck was with me and they were elsewhere annoying somebody else.

We did have a glut of toilet hunters today and they all had one thing in common and that was not one of them knew how to say please and thank you, so they got directed to the nearest toilets a mile each way with the suggestion that if that was not suitable they should try a local bush.  I don’t know why I put up the sign saying there are no toilets, people seem to ignore reading it. They ask and then when I say no they just stand there, perhaps they are of the belief that if I bend over one will pop out and they can use it.

It’s a sad fact that these days the majority of nice well mannered people I get in are foreign, there are of course exceptions but generally it’s the case most days, and I think thats sad. Do we not teach youngsters manners in the UK anymore?

So there you have it, two blog posts in two days covering an average weekend really. Still we can but look forward to next weekend which is a bank holiday, so we will have three days of excitement.

 

America comes to the railway and one thing ladders to another.

It was an interesting day today, we had the first running of a guest locomotive. It was built in the USA and dates back to WW2. Here are a few pictures of it at the station, not the best of pictures but as I often say the customers come first….

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The locomotive hauled the second and the fourth services of the day. It’s staying with us until January next year so hopefully I will get some better images of it at some stage.

First and third services were hauled by a class 14 locomotive, and here is a picture of it approaching from the city centre on the third service of the day.

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But despite the excitement of the above the vote for activity of the day is awarded to the S&T department, who went to great lengths to measure a metal ladder under the platform (Please excuse the pun.) Now I could not resist the opportunity to photograph the event. Here is it Keith and Bob are in the middle of much discussion about the ladder in question.

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I really think this picture would be ideal for a caption competition, so if you can think of a suitable caption please put it in a comment to this posting. Before you ask I am not letting on why Bob has the blue rope trailing behind him.

So more excitement tomorrow, you may even get a second blog post as well.

Some things rarely change, come to think of it so do some people.

Well that’s Easter out of the way……

Some things rarely change and Easter is one of them. It’s predictable. For a start one or more days will be cold, one or more days will be wet and one or more days will be a combination of the two. With the odd bit of sunshine thrown in to confuse everybody.

This year as in most years Easter was just that. We have just run services over the four days and it was certainly at my station an average Easter. The best day of the lot was today Easter Monday, the weather was the best of the four days and as normal on Easter Monday at the station we did far better in the shop than we did with tickets. Saturday and Sunday were as always the other way round with Good Friday coming in a poor fourth.

Customer wise we had in some really nice people, the nicest people fell into one or both of two bands, and that was they were visiting the area or were foreign. It’s a sad reflection perhaps of the country as a whole that normally the most well mannered people we see are foreign! That’s not saying we don’t get well mannered people from the UK. But it’s a fact that if we are going to get in people who are miserable, ungrateful, moody or in some cases downright ignorant then it’s a fair bet they will be from the UK, it’s also true that the most well mannered children we get in are not locals.

Anyway, Friday saw Paddy with me, Sunday saw Sue my wife with me and Saturday & today there was Susan. Peter was not with us this weekend, he has a chest infection so stayed in the warm. I hope he will be back with us next week if he feels up to it. With volunteer levels as they are I could not operate both days on a weekend without Peter & Susan.

So let’s get back to the visitors. This weekend, especially today saw the non-paying public out in force, and as always they took up space, bought nothing and left us their rubbish. As I have said before if all our visitors did as the non-paying public do then their would be no trains to watch. Some people on the railway who, in my opinion should know better seem to be under the impression that we should pander to the non-paying public. Even though they bring the railway zero income and in some cases actually make us zero or a minus figure profit. It’s all very well saying they may return and spend money but experience over the years has shown me time and time again, that once somebody gets entertainment (For want of a better word,) or for that matter anything for nothing then they rarely if ever pay for it in the future. I have seen people regularly visit the station, spend nothing, photograph the trains and then disappear without spending a single penny and they have in some cases been doing this for the past nine years. They are not going to change now. They are in many cases Entitlement Whores!

Highlights of the weekend include a nice lady who asked if we did English Tea, and a gentleman from Hungary who although his grasp of English could have been better his manners were superb and it was a pleasure to help him. I know one thing his English was a darn sight better than my Hungarian.

Lowlights, well to be honest even with the non-paying public there were none, we have had better and smoother Easter weekends but we have had quite a few that have been washouts and as dismal as hell.

It was nice to see Rosemary doing the garden today, she keeps the garden area really nice, and puts in a lot of work and her work rate puts a few youngsters to shame as well.

So there we have it, an average Easter at sometimes Sunny Orton Mere.

It’s all a matter of scale really……..

Well that’s another weekend out of the way.

It was as I expected, the weekend before Easter is never very exceptional, it’s kind of like a lull before the storm that will arrive next week. The problem being that over a typical British Easter that storm can be anything from customers to hail or even snow.

Yet again Peter & Susan ran the station yesterday and I had Jason with me today.

Talking of a matter of scale as in the title of this posting here is a picture of the trainee guard today, as I say it’s all a matter of scale.

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By scale I mean that some people say the line is a nice length at just over seven and a half miles whilst others say the think it’s a bit short. It’s horses for courses really I suppose. Personally I do think that our line is an ideal length for youngsters, any longer and I think they would start to get bored, this is confirmed by parents often saying the same thing to me.

These days children tend to have a shorter attention span than when I was a youngster, they often seem out of their depth if they don’t have a game of some sort in their hands. I have over the years several times seen children on the train with a game or tablet in their hands obviously getting more enjoyment out of that than the visit to the railway.

Perhaps we should look at what we offer youngsters both on the train and at stations. As with anything where the public visit we have to keep up with the times and offer something that appeals. Now I accept this can be difficult when our age range visitor wise is anywhere between three years and ninety three years.

In times like this when we need every penny in that we can get, the visitor experience is more important than ever, perhaps for example we should show more of the lines history right from the start in 1845 and cover important parts up to the current day. There has to be more than buy a ticket, travel on the train then go home, our visitors deserve more. But having said that delivering something that will appeal to people across such a wide age range is a challenge to say the least. I suppose we could look at what other museums and heritage railways offer and then use that as inspiration rather than just copy it. I think I will have to give this some thought from the perspective of Orton Mere. We shall see……

 

Unremarkable really……

The title just about describes the weekend.

Peter & Susan ran the station on Saturday and I had Paddy with me today.

The weather was dull, mild and sometimes a tad damp.

It was nothing special and lived up to my expectations to be honest, though it was nice to see the 22 tank Loco back with us and in service.

We did a few tickets and we did odds and ends in the shop, but nothing to get excited about.

With Easter fast approaching it will be hopefully better over the coming couple of weekends, but don’t put your wages on it for a bet.

The railway needs a good year this year passenger wise, we have some great events and also some of them are new, so lets hope the weather is on our side, we certainly need it.

 

The peasants are revolting!

I know, I know I am late again with the blog. Well calm down this week sees mum moving into her new assisted housing abode, so lots of work to do.

Anyway the blog……..

This afternoon (Tuesday) I got a phone call from a certain person, now I don’t want to name names because it could embarass Peter, and I would hate to do that. Reminding me of the lack of a blog, he seemed quite relieved when I answered the phone. He may have thought he would need to send flowers or something and shell out some money…..

Anyway enough of my meandering through the English language, lets get onto the important bit.

Last Sunday was mothers day, at least here in the UK it was. Now mothers day is a big thing here in the UK, far more than Fathers day is. This is helped by the fact that these days it seems more people are likely to know who their mother is than they are their father!

We did not expect to be busy last Sunday and we were not disappointed, mums were being wined and dined, and if the meal had been cooked by their children then it was likely they may have had a trip to the hospital for food poisoning later in the afternoon.

Still the sun almost shone, and those about spent money and the trains almost ran on time.

Now I would like to give a special mention to young Keith from the S&T crew. Now Keith kindly gives me a lift home when he is working at the station. This is out of the kindness of his heart and not because he had had his junk in my station since the year dot. I know that’s true because he told me!

Anyway he kindly gave myself and Sue a lift to where my mum is temporarily so we could visit her as planned. So Keith this is a public thank you for your kindness, but please don’t expect a discount next weekend!!!!