Ten thirty on an autumn morning, there is a chill in the air, and a bacon sandwich in my hand. The first train from Kidderminster is headed by A1 class, Tornado, and its packed. Meanwhile, I am wondering round getting the second train ready. I had six coaches, turning the scales at 207 tons, and a day with 4566 in the capable hands of Dave and Kev. If I'm honest, I was quite content with my lot, I would rather let someone else have the glory turns and spend my time in the background. The set was made up of five Carmine and cream BR standards and a Chocolate and Cream one. I like the Mk1s, they may lack the charisma and style of some of the pre-1948 stock but they are comfortable, the heating works, and the guard's compartment is comfortable, but they are not the enthusiasts favourite. Our train was also full, but despite the number of people we had getting on, we left Kidderminster exactly on time, at 11.45. Our on-time running wasn't going to last. As we got to Bewdley, and discovered that Tornado with 8 coaches had been causing fun at Hampton Load. Hampton is a very tight little station where two 8 coach trains with a tender engine can pass...... just, and therein lies the problem, you see the bigger the loco, the smaller the margin for error, and there isn't much of it to start with, and this had been causing fun, meaning that the up train, headed by 7812 delayed us by 8 minutes. Mild cases of late running like this can be what makes the job fun, the challenge of getting the train to the terminus on time without rushing or flustering the passengers. Typically when you are late is that someone wants to use the halts, so needless to say we had to pick up passengers at Northwood. By the time we left Arley we were only 4 minutes down, and with a wave of the flag, 4566 and her crew set about getting us back on time. This stretch is in my opinion one of the most attractive lengths of railway anywhere, and while the passengers can take in the view through the large windows of the coaches, but the drop light of the guards van door can have a spectacular effect for framing the scenery like a moving portrait, and with our valley turning golden brown, it was a very pretty portrait too. We were just a minute down leaving Highley and the little Tanky was working hard as we pounded up Highley Bank, we rounded the reverse curves at the top, and dropped down to Alveley, only to see that once more, someone wanted to stop us, this time at country park Halt. Arriving at Hampton Load, to my disappointment, there was no sign of the up train, so we were to have to wait once again, and therefore we would be late into Bridgnorth, oh well, no harm done. We left Hampton 7 minutes late, but lost two more minutes owing to a lengths slack at the top of Eardington bank, in place owing to the state of the rail and the formation, which will be repaired in the winter. This was pretty well the story of the next two trips but the fun was to start on the last trip home. My two TTI's were Ian Powick and Nyall Rudge, and it was Nyall that spotted the first problem. "Yo'm gunna 'ave some fun wi' that lot," he commented in his Cradley accent, "Less jus' say they've 'ad a drink or two." True enough, we had a stag party on the train, who installed themselves (Thankfully with hindsight) in two of the four compartments of the brake. I say thankfully as this made it easier to isolate them when I eventually had to. They weren't nasty, they were merry, but noisy drunks, the sort that are no threat to the other passengers but invariably, annoy the living daylights out of them. Were it not for the seemingly inevitable delay at Hampton Loade, I probably wouldn't have been in the position to make the move I made next. Ian, Nyall and myself were discussing our rather load party who had just sung God Save the Queen and were now into Swing low Sweet chariot. "I am so tempted to sing Mae hen wlad fy nhadau," I muttered, and noted the lady in the compartment next to the party Roll her eyes skyward for the umpteenth time. "We'm gunna have problems with them" said Nyall. After a moments thought, I suggested to him offering the occupants of the rest of the coach a free upgrade to first class. The ladies accepted, but the young lads in the other compartment were less concerned, they had a compartment to their selves, a bag of sweets on the go and were very comfortable but thankyou for the offer. We were 9 minutes late away from Hampton, so right time would be a challenge, but do able. As we trundled through Alveley woods, Ian revealed that the party had had somewhat of a spillage, and one compartment had got a lake of beer and crisps in it. "Great, the cleaners will be thrilled," I replied. As we climbed Highley bank, dear old 4566's sharp exhaust ripped into the air as she surefootedly wheeled the train round the reverse curves at the top and we rolled down the other side into Highley. We were stationary for less than a minute in Highley and left just six minutes adrift. I was doing the mental calculations or where I could nick half a minute here and there so all my passengers could be back in time for their connections, East enders or the rugby, when Ian appeared with a cheeky grin on his face and a pack of paper towels in his hand. "Reckon I should tell them to clean the mess up?" he said. I think he was slightly taken aback when I took his suggestion a bit more seriously than I think it was intended. "You know," I said, after a moment's thought, "If you go in and say something like, you appear to have had a spillage, would you like something to mop it up with, then you might get away with it." A couple of minutes later, as we were crossing Borle Viaduct, he re-appeared. "You'll never belive it," said Ian, "they went for it." "I'm not surprised," I replied, "They probably think it was their idea." We ran into Arley, one or two folks got on, including a colleague of mine from work and another TTI, but we were once more stationary for less than 60 seconds. A flick of the flag and we were away again. Sweeping down towards Victoria bridge, it was obvious that the loco crew were keen to get away on time too, as the train was up to line speed in very prompt fashion, and soon we were sweeping round the curve at Folly point, and pounding up thee gentle gradient towards Northwood. This was the one thing that could screw up our intentions to be home on time, but miracle of miracles there was no one there, and we set off up the climb to Orchard crossing. The distant and at the other end of the wall the banner repeater showed green, and things were looking good, and we rolled round the corner to see the home at Green. A glance at my watch confirmed that we might just do it if things fell into place, but as we rolled round the curve, there was another twist waiting for us, as while the inner home was off, the distant for Bewdley south remained resolutely at yellow. The south box man had let the light engine from the previous train come back from Kidder before us. I cursed under my breath, but as we rolled into Bewdley station, a "Peep, Peep, Peep," rang out from the Rock siding to inform south box that the loco was on the shed and clear of all running lines, a quick look round and the signal for Kidderminster came off, the final door on the train closed and I gave two blasts on my whistle and a wave of the flag, and once more we were away. I gave a glance at my watch, and we were on time! From nine down at Hampton Loade to right time now, we were doing well. We blasted up the steady climb through the tunnel and dropped down to Falling sands viaduct, the signal showed a green for the main line, and we climbed the short climb from Worcester Road to Hoo road, round the carridge shed under the bridge and into Platform 1. Waiting on the platform was Lawrence Mortimer, who was to take the train off me, and after a brief discussion about weather it was dark enough to need the tail lamp on or not for the move back to the shed. "Well," I said, "I'll give you permission to take my tail lamp off, stay down the back of the train and I'll nip the handbrake off for you." Lawrence trotted off, and when my TTI's had finished, I closed the guard's van door, gave an "Alright" signal, and headed off for a pint.