Monthly Archives: June 2014

Frustration, and I don’t mean the old board game.

It may just be me either getting old or even turning into a miserable old fart, but I found this weekend frustrating.

Saturday was a washout weather wise, it was dull, dismal and quiet. Anybody with sense was at home watching the world cup or Wimbledon tennis perhaps. They sure as hell were not at Orton Mere. The only amusing thing was a car that had found a way into the locked car park. When visited by a ranger he discovered a young couple not wearing a lot and engaged in activities more suitable for the hours of darkness rather than 10am on a Saturday morning. Still looking on the bright side at least they were not trying to break the slats on my platform benches.

I do sometimes wonder if the park is not missing out on a business opportunity by not installing condom machines in the car parks. Installed of course at car window height just in case they leave the purchase until the last minute. Perhaps the machines could be topped with bright neon signs proclaiming that condoms should be used in every conceivable occasion . Just a thought!!! Mind you knowing the intelligence of some of our visitors they would blow one up as a balloon for their special little snowflake and then come to us asking if we sold sticks to attach them to.

Peter & Susan were with me on Saturday and I am sure they both dozed off a couple of times during the day. You can always tell a quiet day when nobody wants a toilet I reckon.

Sunday saw Paddy as my supporting act, he made his grand entrance in shorts in the rain on his bike.

The day was much better than Saturday even though we started off wet and dismal, but being June at least the rain was warm!

Once the vertical wet stuff cleared we had an average day, it was nothing exceptional certainly for the time of year. But we did have some really nice people in during the day both for the shop and also to travel.

So that brings us to looking forward to the Teddy Bears Picnic next weekend, hopefully we will be busy and have a nice number of passengers, but as the last two weekends have shown we are at the mercy of the weather, so we will see what we get next weekend.

Finally a customer made a comment last week and I have been mulling over it ever since, I will do a mid week blog post on what she said around the middle of the coming week.

Pirrocks, passengers and a pressie.

Well to say it was an eventful weekend would be an understatement.

Saturday was an eventful day, Peter & Susan were with me and the day had it’s moments, not least when a young lad rode on the platform and when asked not to ride he became abusing and threatening, for a small chap he had a big mouth. To cut a long story short the Police were eventually called and he was given words of advice. The joys of the general public!!

Sunday saw Jason with me and he is still like a whippet on speed even when it’s warm bordering on hot. But as always an enjoyable day.

Both days were quiet at the station considering the time of year, but that was to be expected with a heritage weekend on in the city centre and boat stuff on the rowing lake not far from the station. Plus Sunday especially was an ideal day for going to the coast.

Sunday turned out to be a bog standard day in as much as we were constantly asked if we had a toilet, and not one of those who asked was a paying customer! As always the answer was no and some got quite argumentative. Many even read the no toilet sign before asking as well.

It’s obvious that people are developing selective reading again, my more direct notice reference the toilets will have to be put into use again I think. Long ago I came to the conclusion that the greater the perceived need to go to the toilet the lower the level of manners. I say perceived as a few of those who claimed they were really desperate sat sulking on the platform for at least ten minutes before departing and as none appeared to leave either a puddle or a pile of brown stuff I can only assume their desperation was more in their heads than their waterworks.

Anyway after getting home tonight and recovering from the excitement by having a couple of Valium washed down with Pepsi MAX, Sue the wife sprang two surprises on me. The first was she had bought yet another purse and the second was she had bought me a pressie. Now I got myself all set for a packet of Jelly beans, which I have a great weakness for. But my assumption was incorrect. Sue has bought me an iPad Mini!!! I was lost for words, it’s so kind of her, then again perhaps the cost was worth it as it stopped me talking for a while.

Before anybody asks I am undecided as to what to do with my iPad 2, I can keep it or I can sell it, or been perhaps recycle it via Apple. But I won’t be giving it away, so don’t ask.

For those so minded loco wise we ran the American steam locomotive and a class 14 diesel on Saturday and on Sunday the American again together with a class 31 diesel. The American failed after it’s first run so the last two services were hauled by the class 31. Now I have no idea why it failed, perhaps it has been communicating with No22 which is a steam loco that has several times failed to haul all it’s scheduled services. Temperamental things steam locomotives, but it’s all part of the excitement so people keep telling me. Personally I am just glad any repair costs don’t come out of my pocket.

Right now off to play with my new toy, and to find another mains socket for yet another charger!



A sign of the times.

It’s been one of those weekends that’s been neither one thing or the other.

Steady but not excessive flow of customers both shop and travelling wise, but quiet for the time of year.

But there were a few things of note.

First a regular bought in some signs for me to look at and photograph.

Here they are:

CIMG1332 CIMG1331

Now they are interesting in as much as the two on the right refer to the station that now is the headquarters of the railway and that the ones on the left refer to the city at the far end of the line.

It’s always interesting to see things like these, they are part of local railway history and I am sure if they could do so they would have a story to tell.  I look forward to photographing more pieces that he has promised to bring in.

Now back to the weekend itself, both days were nothing special weather wise and that kept people away, Sunday was quite cool as well for the time of year. Most of the people we sold tickets to were visiting the area rather than being residents and as always it was super to chat to them and find out a bit about where they came from.

Saturday saw Paddy with me and Nathan did the honours on Sunday. I am sure both will agree when I say the days were pretty average. We need a few hot sunshine filled weekends to bring in the visitors, because they bring in the money which in turn helps the railway make a profit, and in the end it’s the profit that powers the railway. See you thought coal powers a steam locomotive, when if you strip it all down it’s actually the profit we make that ultimately powers not only the locomotives but the whole railway.

I often say that I can tell how busy we have been by how much battery power has been used in my tablet, this weekend that was not the case because the visitors we had were fairly spaced apart so there were no long periods of not being busy. Not a weekend with time for reading a book.

On Saturday I had an early start and I was at thee station for 6.20am to get sorted for a 7am ice cream delivery which arrived exactly on time. At 6.30am I sold a bottle of water to a dog walker who was actually looking for somewhere to buy a newspaper, but it was money in the till so we can’t complain. I also had the pleasure of clearing the bottles and other assorted junk left behind by unknown locals who had used the platform over the previous couple of days. As they left a couple of plastic carrier bags it’s just a shame they did not put their rubbish in them and thane it away within them.

Sundays start was a bit more sedate with Nathan kindly giving me a lift and in true bus driver tradition he ended up running late. Still it’s kind of him to give me a lift when he is working at the station and I do appreciate it.

Just to dispel a rumour

As this picture will show our trainee guards at the railway don’t just get the bear training for the job….


The guard is called Robin and the bear is Peter II

Nice to see the staff getting in character for the teddy bears picnic weekend…..

A weekend of extremes.

On Saturday morning I was woken by sunshine streaming through the blinds in the bedroom, thirty minutes later we had driving rain complete with thunder & lightening.

Now normally a storm first thing in the morning indicates a quiet to average day. That’s exactly what we had, the day was steady but not exceptional. The early weather had put off some people from coming out, at least until they knew there would be no rain.

Peter & Susan were with me and we more than coped with the visitors, one advantage of a steady day is that we can spend more time chatting to visitors and that’s always nice. Especially if they are visitors to the area and have not visited the railway before.

On both days services were hauled by the visiting American locomotive, here it is complete with some sunshine arriving with the last service of the day from city centre to Wansford.

American Loco


The picture is unusual in as much as I took it on my iPhone, which I never normally use for taking images. But it turned out quite well I think.

Sunday was better business wise both in the shop and also ticket sales. A couple of visitors did say they came Sunday rather than Saturday because of the weather Saturday morning.

Jason was with me and as always he was a pleasure to work with, he was up and down the platform like a whippet on speed!

We had quote of the weekend late on Sunday afternoon when I was asked the following gem. “Do you have to pay to go on the train?” I was almost lost for words. But only almost I hasten to add!!

From a business point of view Sunday rescued the weekend for us, and we had a steady stream of new visitors and regulars. Though it would be nice if perhaps some visitors read special offer vouchers before plonking them down in front of me and asking for something that was not on the voucher, still they appeared to go away happy in the end,

The train was reasonably full for most services both days which is always nice to see and what was also nice were the number of passengers who went out of their way, especially on Sunday to tell us they had really enjoyed themselves, that’s always nice and hopefully if they are first time visitors they will return again sometime in the future.

Saturday night also saw one of our Strawberry specials with the Swedish rail car, I have no idea how successful it was, but I hope it was full and the passengers all had a good evening. Extra events like this bring in much needed money and of course profit for the railway, and profit is always nice.

It’s nice to see the railway trying a lot of new things this year, and hopefully the successful ones will be run again in the future and that we will also learn from the ones that are not quite as popular as we would like. It’s very easy to get stuck into a routine and not change things, the railway has to change and adapt to the changing requirements of visitors, after all without their money there would be no services run. The days of a cup of instant coffee and a bag of crisps as the only offerings have long gone.




Yes well….Erm……

Here I am sat in front of the computer about to write the blog, and to be honest I can’t think of much to really say.

It was a mediocre weekend, not busy, not quiet. Sadly lacking in idiots. The people we had in were mainly really nice, especially a couple we had in from Michigan on Saturday.

Other than that to call the weekend bland would be paying it a complement.

So what do I write about? I could just leave the posting here and await the excitement of next weekend, or I could comment on the one thing that has irritated me right from the start and that’s lack of staff.

Now I must say right at the start the I like all the people who help me wether they do a day every so often or they do most weekends, each of them in their way help the station and ultimately the railway function. Yes I would like to ones who do the odd day to do more but I do recognise that there are interests they have outside the railway, and it’s only fair that they do those as well in the spare time that they have.

But I am desperately short of people who can do regular weekends or do weekdays on a regular basis. Now this irritation is not helped by the regular parade of “working members” who seem to spend almost every weekend up and down on the train appearing not to do a lot or in some cases anything at all. It just bugs me when I have dug around for staff just so I can open to see people who could conceivably help just riding up and down. Blimey I have dropped enough hints over the years to some of them but it seems to normally fall on deaf ears. Perhaps they believe that working at a station is boring, which I can assure you it’s not.

But anyway I am looking at my options at the moment reference staffing, I have better things to do each month than dig around trying to put a ROTA together. I am undecided as to what to do at the moment, the two extremes of course are to do nothing at the one extreme and to call it a day and pack it in at the other. What will no doubt happen is that I will settle on something in the middle and see how we go from there.

So if you are a member of the railway and fancy helping out at the station please drop me an email or even comment on this post and I will send you the ROTA as it currently stands .

Now for a week of proper work with no ROTA’s and just me to bother about.