Summer is back

I am writing this on a Sunday evening having not long got back from the station.

It’s been a funny weekend, both days have been nice but today was the best of the two. But Saturday was busier, certainly in the shop.

The one thing the nice weather brings out is the crazies.

This weekend was no exception.

Let’s start with Saturday.

I was opening up when some chap passing with his dog, asked why I was opening on a Friday, I replied it was a Saturday, he asked if I was sure then wandered off. I came to the conclusion that the dog was more intelligent, and the dog did not make a sound.

Add to that two people in before 9.30am who, after looking in the ice cream freezer both asked if we sold ice cream and we know we are in for a fun day.

Sunday was no better, the gate onto the platform was locked and signs pointed people to the back door, we were having the fence and gate painted today.

To be honest I don’t know why I bothered with the signs, nobody read them and one tried to climb over the rope when the area was roped off while the painting was in progress.

Then we had the classic question, “Is this a steam train?” As it puffed into the station.

Both days we had a few competitors in the it’s hot so I dress like an idiot competition. Should we have had to actually select a winner then it would have been a photo finish between about ten people. Including on Sunday morning a woman in short shorts and a halter top walking past who was well past the wrong side of seventy. She looked like a brown lizard.

All in all a funny old weekend.

 

 

There is a glowing thing in the sky.

Well here we are, it’s a Monday morning and the sun is shining, the work is piling up and the garden needs sorting! Who says there is no choice in life.

Over the last year or so I have been keeping a note on which days have sunshine and which don’t. Now no prizes for guessing that more running days are cloudy than are sunny. Perhaps next year we should offer a dummy timetable to the weather gods?

We have just had a mixed weekend weather wise with a bit of sun, some showers and a lot of cloud. Sunday was actually a good day especially in the shop which is always welcome.

Just as first train was arriving we had three passengers come into the station, I informed them that they could pay on the train as I could not do the tickets if they wanted that train. One woman asked “Why are you here then?” My reply was, “To help those who don’t leave it until the last minute.” She burst out laughing and happily got on the train.

It seems a growing trend to leave things until the last minute or until it’s too late. A couple of months ago there were a family sitting in their car in the car park. The train arrived on time to the city and arrived back on time going back to Wansford. About ten minutes later the family got out of the car and came into the station to buy a family ticket. I informed them that the next train was in just over an hour. No said the father it’s in about five minutes. I showed him the timetable with the times. That’s wrong he said the train is always ten minutes late. He was not happy when he realised it had not only been on time but they had sat in their car and watched it both ways. They all left mumbling, we did not see them again. Funny enough the second service was about ten minutes late!!

Ah the joys of summer!!!

We had some sun on Saturday

It’s true we actually had some sun on Saturday and it lasted all of 15 minutes. Against all odds we also had a train arrive as well, here is a picture of it!!

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It’s fair to say that this summer is not turning out to be one of the best, if we get much more rain you may be able to purchase an ark on line.

So to take us back to previous years when we had sunshine here are a few pictures that have featured in previous blogs, showing how nice it could be.

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Half way there, almost.

Well looking at the calendar it’s hard to believe we are almost half way through the year, and in the not too distant future the phone lines will open for Santa bookings.

So what’s happened at the station in the first half of the year, the answer is not a lot really. Some things have changed and most have remained the same.

The new kitchen is making life much easier, there is so much more space to dump stuff, or so certain people would have me believe.

The painting is still not done, but steps are being taken to rectify that in the not too distant future all being well.

Our customers and visitors continue to amaze, amuse, frustrate and in some cases impress us. Before anybody asks the difference between a customer and a visitor is that a visitor is somebody who has not bought anything, and a customer is a visitor who has spent money.

One thing that is noticeable this year is the drop in the number of people who want timetables especially at special events, they mainly seem to come with them printed out off the web site or downloaded onto a device which is often smarter than they are. This of course will in the long run mean less cost to the railway. If only we could get the timetable collectors of all ages to print them out instead we would be home and dry!

We have also had some good events this year so far as well. The diesel gala was excellent as was the open weekend so people could see behind the scenes at the railway. Now I will freely admit I was sceptical about the open weekend, but I am pleased to say I was proved wrong and hopefully this will become a yearly event. It was a great success.

This weekend is a Gala weekend with the return of Thomas who will be pulling services between Wansford and Yarwell. Weather permitting we will be very busy and it will bring in much needed income to the railway. Watch this space after the weekend for a full rundown of the weekend from the perspective of my station.

Now back to looking at the shiny thing in the sky which is rumoured to be being replaced tomorrow by rain, we shall see.

Mid Week Visitors and Bank Holiday again

Now a certain person who will remain nameless, has gone to great pains today to point out that I had mid-week visitors. These were in the day time as opposed to the courting couples we often get during the hours of darkness.

I was even sent two pictures, which I have reposed below to prove that they did more than sneak into the station and put the kettle on.

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Now as you can see it was all excitement, or so I am told, I was at home at the time.

Between then and now we have of course had yet another bank holiday, several are normally close together this time of year and they all have one thing in common. They are normally cold and dismal.

I must admit though this last one was better than most with Saturday actually quite warm, with Sunday and Monday on the cool side. The trains were well populated, especially second service on all three days.

The station was not over busy but we did have some really nice visitors in and a good chat with as many as we could.

One thing a lot of people mentioned was the return of Thomas, for some it’s as important as the second coming. So to get you all prepared for a week this Saturday here are some pictures of the little chap when he was previously in steam.100_0308 100_0312 100_0327

I expect that his first weekend back in steam will be a busy one, as long as nobody does a rain dance!!!

Just running a bear service

Last weekend saw our Teddy Bear express weekend, and it was fun!!!!

Nice to see our younger visitors clutching their stuffed bears and enjoying themselves.

It’s all too easy to just think that we are an museum and educational charity running trains a few days a week.

The general public are as each year goes by expecting more from the places they visit, they are looking for events that will drag their children away from their electronic devices.

The Teddy Bear express did this nicely, hopefully the event will encourage people to revisit the railway either on normal running days to to more of our special events.

This coming weekend is yet another bank holiday, so three days on the trot, as with all weekends this one will be governed by the weather, the forecast is dry but these days that means not a lot. So we will have to wait and see how it goes, but one thing is certain there will be few if any bears travelling this weekend!!

A wet Wednesday morning.

Well here I am sitting in the office beavering away on a wet Wednesday morning.

Still awaiting some figures for last weekend which appears to have been a success, at least from the visitor numbers being thrown about. But of course you can only judge success in the long run by the profit made. Yes there may well be return visitors who will again spend but that’s in the future. It’s the profit last weekend that’s important at the moment. Having said that we did not have a bad weekend overall at my station, and it was nice to see the numbers of people who were on the train. But yet again the locals were largely missing, due in part no doubt to the other events around the area. We are now coming rapidly to the time of year where there are so many choices of activities each weekend that the overall number of visitors to events are spread ever thinner across all the events available.

Anyway enough of that, back to this dismal Wednesday morning. I was planning to open the station today. But something cropped up that I had to sort this morning so I have been unable to open. But, looking out of the window I don’t think I have missed much to be honest.

But it’s a funny thing, in the past I have opened on really nice days and done not a lot. Then I have opened on dismal wet days and busy all the time. You just never know.

The downside is that if we are really unlucky we end up with a couple of mothers buying a coffee each and taking over an hour to drink it whilst a couple of their off springs run riot around the place. The upside is that you can get a few walkers in who spend a bit and are great to chat to and the time just flies. As I say you never know.

So there we have it a wet Wednesday morning! I see from the web that the met office are forecasting a long hot summer, based on their previous predictions over the years now may be a good time to get in a supply of umbrellas at a good price to sell during the monsoon season that’s sure to hit us based on the past accuracy of their predictions.

As a final piece this coming weekend we have the Teddy bear express where children 10 and under, accompanied by a paying adult can travel free if they bring a bear.

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Above is a picture from the last Teddy bear event which shows one of the guards entering into the spirit of the event. For those not sure the guard is the one in the jacket!!

It was a funny weekend. There was a round shiny thing in the sky!

It was a funny weekend.

Yes it was super weather and yes we were busy, but we did have some strange people in, other than the staff of course.

What was noticeable was the non-appearance of many of the regulars, I presume they took one look at the weather and headed for the coast, they obviously thought it was a better option to sit in a very hot car stuck in heavy traffic than sit in the shade in the park.

The vast majority of the visitors we had were really nice both days, there were a few exceptions but then again there always are.

We had the usual crop looking at the sign that said no toilets and then coming and asking us if we had a toilet, why they do this is beyond me. It’s not as though the sign is in joined up writing or anything.

Being hot and sunny we had a good crop of people competing for the I am dressed like an idiot in the hot weather award. One young lady had cut off shorts that were so short that when Rosemary the gardener saw her she almost choked on her bottle of water in shock. What you could see looked similar to two bald men with strange shaped heads hanging upside down!

Now one group we did have a number of were young ladies who although they were not blond they should have been. You know the ones who look at the ice cream prices on the wall and then ask how much the ice creams are. They even surpassed the woman on Saturday afternoon who asked me if the trains were running whilst standing on the platform next to a steam locomotive complete with coaches. I must admit I was very tempted to say there were no trains just to see what she did.

Supposed to rain tomorrow (Tuesday) Oh well it will give us something to moan about again.

Mid week mutterings

It’s a beautiful Thursday morning and I am stuck in the office working, not the best of situations, but not one I can do anything about.

We are forecast to have a hot weekend ahead so hopefully a busy weekend on the trains.

Ah! I hear you say, what about last weekend which was a bank holiday? Well in answer to that the weekend lived up to my expectations at the station overall. But we need a few sunny weekends when we have events on to get the punters into the station. Hopefully this coming one will be the first of them.

The visiting public can be a fickle lot, especially the locals. If it’s too cold they don’t appear and if it’s too nice the all tootle to the seaside for the day, this has been shown time and time again over the last twelve years.

So we await the weekend, with one eye on the sky and one on the till.

Watch this space as they say.

It’s been a funny couple of weeks.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that I did not do a post last week.

The reason for this is simple, last week I was shut. The reason why I was shut is not so simple.

It was a normal Saturday, or as normal as any Saturday ever is at the station. One of the first jobs is to fill and switch on the urn, now it is important that you fill before switching on, getting it the wrong way round can cause problems especially if the cut out operates. Anyway before I get side tracked on some irrelevant rubbish I had better concentrate on the relevant rubbish. We turned the tap on with the kettle placed to catch the water, and nothing not a drop. We had no water, other than the stuff in the river and what was at that time falling from the sky. After a couple of unwilling volunteers had confirmed that the stop valve that some local person had previously switched off was on we went to plan “B” which was to wait for the delivery on the first train, put that away and close..

Anyway to cut a long story short, which is unlike me, it was all sorted out in the week by Keith from S&T. Now I know sorting out water problems is nothing to do with S&T unless it has stopped them having their intake of hot beverages. But I was not available all last week and Keith sorted it out with the skill of Sherlock Holmes, plus he had the help of the local water company. I am grateful to Keith for the work he put in last week in sorting the problem. I did promise him a mention in the blog, so here it is. Finally reference the work he put in there is no truth in the rumour he is getting a deerstalker hat and a blood hound, ready to sort out other problems around the railway.

So that brings us to this weekend, and what can I say other than….. It turned out cold!!!

Highlights of the weekend in no specific order.
A lovely Oriental lady who complemented me on the cleanliness of the station, especially the platform. I thanked her, patted her guide dog and pointed both towards the exit gate.
The six people who trotted onto the station and expected Newstead to be hauling the next service. I recommended they come back again in about five years!!
Then we had the woman who stood with her husband watching the Class 14 arriving hauling the second service, upon seeing it she remarked. “It’s not much to look at is it?” I just looked at her face and thought to myself, there are the words of an expert in nothing to look at.

Those being the highlights show what an exciting weekend it failed to be. The cold wind did not help, it kept the locals away and the urn once again full of water after last weeks drought was not under pressure.

All we can do now is await the excitement next weekend may bring……