Monthly Archives: July 2014

Banned from my own station!!!!

Now don’t get excited, the title was meant to get your attention.

Currently I am sweating, have a lovely gloss finish and going to the toilet on a regular basis. So rather than inflict it on the staff, though I can think of a few customers who would be welcome to it, Peter has informed me I am banned from the station.

This is of course totally logical as I have no desire to pass on what I have got to the staff. So the staffing this weekend will be a combination of Peter, Susan and Paddy. I am not sure about the dream team, perhaps closer to the nightmare trio!!

It will be nice to have a few days off I must admit, I just wish I could have a decent nights sleep and not be getting up every 90 mins or so to visit the smallest room.

Mum had a fall yesterday so is in hospital at the moment for observation.

All in all not one of my better weeks.


It Ain’t Half Hot Mum

We opened all running days this week. Peter & Susan covered Tuesday and I did Wednesday & Thursday for the weekday openings.

Thursday was the quietest of the three, but it was worth opening for all the days, we will see how many we can open for during the week over the rest of the summer.

Saturday was really quiet, it was extremely humid and people wisely stayed at home in the shade. I read almost a whole book, and Rosemary who was doing the garden had to rest before it got too much for her. That was the garden getting too much for her and not the fact I was reading a book!

I am pleased to say that Sunday more than made up for it, the weather was hot but not anywhere near as humid. We had a good day in both the shop and also ticket sales and we had some really nice people in as well which as always was a bonus.

Sunday was also a great day for photography with some great cloud formations. Because of customers which of course must always come first I just took one picture and here it is.

City of Peterborough

City of Peterborough arriving second service from Wansford. All services on Sunday were busy and I gather the classic vehicle show at Wansford was popular as well. This is good, we need visitors and we need them to spend money.

Highlights of the week were really sparse it was all just good fun and very enjoyable. We did have Laura in shorts on Sunday which seemed to bring a smile to the face of many male members and visitors alike.

Now we have a clear day Monday before we do it all again next week…… Oh the excitement can just get too much

Better in the middle than at the end, but even the middle was not exciting.

This past week has been unusual if only in as much as we opened on the Wednesday.

Wednesday saw the short term visit of the Royal Scotsman train, this is if I remember rightly it’s fourth or fifth yearly visit.

Anyway, it arrived very early Wednesday morning and departed again just after 9.30am.

Here is a picture of the front of the leading locomotive as it arrived at my station on it’s departure from the railway.


As you can see it was a nice sunny start to the day, unfortunately that did not continue. By the time of the scheduled public service it had clouded over, here is a picture of the scheduled service arriving, what a difference a few clouds make to a picture.


Business wise it was not bad but nothing exceptional, week days can be like that, one Wednesday can be excellent and the next week you can take nothing at all.

After the excitement of Wednesday the weekend was eagerly awaited. We ran mixed traction with first and third service being diesel and second and fourth being steam. This can be looked at two ways, you can for example say that the service will appeal to both steam and diesel fans or you can say with good certainty that somebody will come in and moan one of the diesel hauled services is not steam. This moaning is normally done by one of my non-paying visitors, you know those who visit on a regular basis, take photographs but never buy anything. Next time you visit any heritage railway you look out for them, you can’t miss them they are normally standing between you and what you want to look at. If you are a paying visitor you’re more likely to encounter them.

Saturday saw the station descended on by both the civil’s and S&T. I am sorry to report that there was no competition by either group to outspend the other in the shop, but you can’t have everything. Mind you there is something pleasing to stand in the shade drinking a cold drink whilst they work away in the sun rapidly getting a gloss finish in the heat. The less they spend the more pleasing this work is to watch.

One thing unusual thing this weekend is that Keith of the S&T group sent me some pictures showing the results of their work on Saturday, now call me cynical but I do wonder if it is to gain points for showing work in progress and completed. If so they have been successful. Though it should be noted that they did need the help of the civil’s to achieve their goal for the day. Of course it could have just been Keith playing with his new phone.

Anyway, here are the pictures showing the work that was done on a signal post.

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Both Saturday and Sunday were hot, humid and tiring. It was, due to the weather one of the quietest weekends I can remember in July over the last ten years running the station.

Anybody with any sense stayed at home in the shade and got out the BBQ and the booze. It was not a weekend for being out and about. Saturday was the hottest day but Sunday was the most humid. However, there were many entries from the people who did venture out for the most stupid summer attire competition. Why do people dress in stupid bright and totally unsuitable clothes for both their age and stature when the sun comes out?

Saturday Harry was back for another day of excitement and thrills, it was just a shame the excitement and thrills that may have happened did not happen on the railway.

Sunday gave me the company of Peter and his daughter Susan. We all agreed that the humidity made the day tiring.

Mention must also be made of Rosemary who did two full days gardening on both Wednesday and Sunday. For her age she puts the rest of us to shame!!

So what did we learn and confirm from the three days, for a start we learnt that the ability of people to dress like idiots in the sun is alive and well, we learnt that people will moan about what locomotive is running irrespective of  wether it’s diesel or steam. We confirmed that great weather does not mean great business. Finally we also confirmed that the train can actually run as near as makes no difference on time three days in a row.

So there you have it, this posting is being written just after a long thunder storm and it’s raining, thankfully the humidity is much better because of it.



What a difference some rain makes

This weekend was a bit unusual in as much as the weather was worse on Sunday as compared to Saturday, but turnover wise Sunday was better.

Saturday was muggy, hot and not at all nice unless of course you like the sun, which many appeared to do. Sunday was dull and we had rain showers.

Neither day could be described as busy but we were steady through both days so no great rush.

It was really nice to see the train full especially on Sunday. The people who travelled on both days judging from those who I spoke to on their return all said they enjoyed themselves, this is always nice to hear, because of course without feedback we don’t know if we are doing things right.

People these days expect even more value for their hard earned money, and if we don’t give perceived value for money then we will not get visitors. It’s a shame that we have no way of often knowing if visitors are first timers or returning visitors. We can’t survive on just first time visitors, we have to have returning visitors as well.

Now I appreciate that we have many who visit the area once never to return, that’s normal. But we need those who live within easy travelling distance to come to us more than once, hopefully bringing people who are visiting with them. Repeat business is good business but as I said often we have no way of knowing what is repeat business.

One thing that is noticeable this year even more than last is that we are not giving out as many timetables, the majority of those travelling from the station have already printed out the details off the website. Five or so years ago I would have used three boxes of timetables over a year, this year I won’t get through even one. So looking on the bright side as long as the railway reacts to this drop then we can save money in printing at the start of the year. Anyway we can save money should be recognised, even in the best of years.

This week I closed my Facebook account, for a long time I have not been happy with their privacy policy or their desire to make money from peoples information. The account was not used for the railway, I used it mainly for my book writing. But one thing I did notice, was that when I looked at peoples pages they were often ready to condemn and for want of a better term slag of the people they either worked with or worked for, both in paid and voluntary capacities. Even when they may have left and no longer have any connection with the organisation or person they are commenting on.

Many times I have asked myself why people feel a need to do this, they launch into comments and statements that often verge on the libellous or in some case just down right insulting. Often saying things they would never dream of saying to peoples faces. Often the people they are commenting on or insulting will be unable to defend themselves. I find the action of people like this not only cowardly and distasteful but also downright disgusting. What people put on social media is in the public domain and people often would be well advised to remember this. I can’t recall a single instance where I have read some insulting comments or statements where I though less after reading it of the person being commented on, but I often feel less sympathetic to the person posting. Only a coward uses social media to insult others. As has often been said “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and look an idiot than to open it and confirm the fact.”

So there you have it, thoughts on the weekend, and thoughts on social media, never say you don’t get value for money reading this blog.

First thing in the morning.

At the station early today so the civil’s could pick two fence panels for Longueville Junction.

Here are a few pictures I took from the west end of platform one. It looks nice and peaceful early in the morning.

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A weekend of four halves.

This weekend was the teddy bears picnic.

We started the weekend with rain on the Saturday morning and we currently have thunder as I am writing this on the Sunday evening. Though the bit in-between was quite nice with spells of sunshine.

Saturday saw Harry with me, now Harry used to do the garden up to a couple of years ago, but he has decided to do a few Saturday’s with me at the station facing the great British public.

Harry is a happy chappie, and gets on well with people, and he informed me as he was leaving that he had enjoyed his day, which was a relief, and I am sure he will be a valuable member of the team at the station.

Sunday I had the two Sues with me, it was like working in a witches coven but with a few members missing. I was relieved that Rosemary had done the garden on Saturday and not joined the coven on Sunday to gang up on me.

Over the weekend we had some really nice people coming to travel and also to just purchase something from the shop, though I must say we were in no way busy. As with most weekends we had too much competition such as a local dog show, Wimbledon, F1 Grand Prix etc… It does affect my business.

Still we must look on the positive side from the numbers on the train the event  across the whole railway should I think be viewed as a success, but I don’t know the exact numbers.

Now last week I did promise a blog on a comment that a customer made, well fear not I am still working on it as it’s a delicate and perhaps a slightly emotive subject. As they say watch this space.

It suddenly came to me this morning….

No I don’t mean next doors cat. Nor do I mean a blinding light from the sky. No I actually got an idea spring into my head, now agreed it might be lonely in there, but who knows like buses there may be another idea right behind it.

I reckon we could be onto a money winner.

How about when we run the Wagon-Lits coaches we say we are recreating the boat train.

We put some chemical toilets on the platform at Orton Mere.

Then we get the visitors in with the slogan “Harwich for the Continent – Orton Mere for the incontinent.”

There would be hell of a demand I think, after all enough people ask about toilets…..

Perhaps I will put this forward to the powers that be, then again perhaps not. They are often just daft enough to think I might be serious.