Another question about Platform assistants

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wessexen

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Hello all,

I thought this would be the best place to ask and not to blow my chances, I'm trying to be careful with what I write. But I applied for a platform assistant recently and got an email saying that my application has been successful. Being a rail enthusiast (and making it clear on my application - but going into detail a bit more because if anyone recognizes this nick I'm also found on Trainz and UK Train Sim forums - producing lots of work.) I thought that would knacker my chances although I've also applied to the same company 3 times, this being Southern.

I know what to expect from the recruitment process, I've done it once already (and succeeded, got the job and the like), but the job never happened for reasons I won't go into. That was from 2009 to 2010. At the time, the recruitment person said he would keep my details on file for any future applications at the depot I originally applied for. Some 40 miles from where I live. Well, depending on various ways of getting there, train or car, it is less than an hour which is what they asked for.

Fast forward to June 2011, applied for another position for a guard role and failed, waited over 6 months (as per rules - I am not sure if it applies to individual jobs or all of them, but I wanted to be safe) and I apply for a position about 1.5 miles down the road, with Southern again. Now the question I have, whats the next steps? I've done an assessment for a depot position (Train carer is what they called it), as mentioned, passed the assessment, passed the interview and after 3 weeks (because I admitted to being autisitic to a degree) passed the medical and waited for a start date and I am also wondering if this is going to be the same pattern again.

I.e. pass everything (I would hope so - last time it was a shock) but wait ages for a start date.


So, to summerise and help everyone else try and answer my questions from the waffle.
1) Is the assessments the same with the aptitiude test (I think it is)? Or would I need to sit another assessment?
2) I know I shouldn't ask this, because it is unfair on the other candidates (and in a way, I feel very sorry for the other hopefuls and I think that might be an issue, the empathy I feel), but do I have a stronger possibility of succeeding than if I didn't go through once?
3) How is it all graded?

Any pointers, help, abuse or even jokes are appreciated.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
So, to summerise and help everyone else try and answer my questions from the waffle.
1) Is the assessments the same with the aptitiude test (I think it is)? Or would I need to sit another assessment?
2) I know I shouldn't ask this, because it is unfair on the other candidates (and in a way, I feel very sorry for the other hopefuls and I think that might be an issue, the empathy I feel), but do I have a stronger possibility of succeeding than if I didn't go through once?
3) How is it all graded?

Any pointers, help, abuse or even jokes are appreciated.
Thank you all for looking, I didn't get any responses I know (probably because I was asking too much), but I got my answers today. So it seems to be different by a long way.

I'm hoping I don't fail, but its a bit scary really I must admit, to look at the paper work and go "oh noes, will I ever make it?"
 
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LCC106

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Hi Wessexen. The forums were down for me on Monday night so I've only just seen this. Unfortunately I don't know the answers to your questions except to say that you will either pass or fail. Keeping my fingers crossed that it goes a bit more smoothly this time.
 

wessexen

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Hi Wessexen. The forums were down for me on Monday night so I've only just seen this. Unfortunately I don't know the answers to your questions except to say that you will either pass or fail. Keeping my fingers crossed that it goes a bit more smoothly this time.

Thank you for the info. :) But yeah, I know, its just my luck, it sometimes happens. I've had a look at the assessments and I had a mad idea, a very mad idea.

2 of the assessments I reckon I could make a Visual BASIC program out of (I could program in C++ but at the expense of development time.) as well, being very enthusiastic, I at least want to have a chance to get to the interview stage and then the medical.

The third assessment (role play), god knows how I am going to deal with that, you can't throw voices into the computer and expect the computer to give you a reasonable response unless you take 4 years (putting it lightly) developing it and having to go back to University to study "AI programming in games".


Still, thank you for all the nice comments, I'm hoping it goes smoothly and I really need to look and practise on these assessments which are scaring me still. (And there are 3 of them this time, not just the one I had which was about pattern recongition and reading a passage then checked to see if you know what the passage says.)
 

colchesterken

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After 50 yrs as a trainspotter and being made redundant last year saw an advert on the station (while trainspotting for staff no grades mentioned ) applied but not heard yet
Would be nice to finish my working life doing what I enjoy for a couple of years
Hope I make it as traction inspector or driver on the Norwich expresses ( I can do it on the computer )
Never mind I will be happy sweeping up if there are trains running around
 

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So, to summerise and help everyone else try and answer my questions from the waffle.
1) Is the assessments the same with the aptitiude test (I think it is)? Or would I need to sit another assessment? You will have to sit another one but it will probably be the same test as before
2) I know I shouldn't ask this, because it is unfair on the other candidates (and in a way, I feel very sorry for the other hopefuls and I think that might be an issue, the empathy I feel), but do I have a stronger possibility of succeeding than if I didn't go through once? No. You will stand the same chance as someone who has not been before
3) How is it all graded? Its just a score based assesment with you needing to get over a certain score before you can proceed
If I were you I woulodnt bother making up any sort of programme to try and get round it, the assesment are just basic maths, english and observational skills tests. Whilst not trying to demean you but given the grade these are not set very high and you should be able to pass them no bother.

The role play one is going to be straight forward - you will be faced by your examiner or their glamourous assistant who will probably be a customer with a couple of problems that you need to deal with from the sheet if instructions they give you with regards to the scenario. There will be someone watching and taking notes.

Again, this is all very basic and straighforward and not set out to catch you out. As you will be in a customer facing role you will need to demonstrate that you can talk clearly and conciesly(sp) and that your body language is that of someone who is engaged with the person in front of them.

They may do this, but i doubt it, that someone else will come in wanting your attention whilst you are dealing with person 1(just like real life) and they will want to see how you handle that situation and maybe person 2 becomes irate and so on and so forth.

But it should really be straight forward. Brush up on your basic maths. Try and do a few online tests - the company that devise them are online with practice tests - and you should be fine.


Good luck.
 

wessexen

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After 50 yrs as a trainspotter and being made redundant last year saw an advert on the station (while trainspotting for staff no grades mentioned ) applied but not heard yet
Would be nice to finish my working life doing what I enjoy for a couple of years
Hope I make it as traction inspector or driver on the Norwich expresses ( I can do it on the computer )
Never mind I will be happy sweeping up if there are trains running around


You won't hear for a while, railway recruitment departments run soo slow, they often get overtaken by a heard of snails. And thats the polite way.

The thing is, as a driver mentioned on a recent program on the BBC, "Anyone can drive a train" (virtually) "but only a few know what to do when it goes wrong." Sorry to say this, but really, driving trains is not easy at all, it is in fact very hard, because if you go and see what is required from the BR rulebooks, (or even the RSSB ones), you will get a really big idea of what is involved and some books are really, really indepth.

Plus theres lots of standards you'd need to meet, in reaction, concertraion, safety, knowledge of traction and route, etc, it is overwhealming. My knowledge I know overwhealms most people, because I've had to do such indepth research (to produce one 3D model of a train, look at the Class 502 I've been making for the past 3 months! Most of the time I've had to do reasearch and by the bucket load).

Then there is all the certificates you need, for a start, a PTS certificate. That is not easy and a 3 day course from what I've heard. I've not done the Network Rail one, I must admit.


However, saying all this, I strongly recommend if you want to go that far, go to your local preserved railway and get involved there in a variety of roles. I did and it has given me a big insight into what it is like to work on the railways, more importantly, it has taught me the safety aspect of what it is like on the railway, because your life is almost literally, on the line. Even worse, even working trackside (legally I must add, my MHR PTS expired last year, I need to renew it really, I haven't been able to get to the MHR), you have to think "my god, one slip and I am dead." Thats with trains running at a maximun of 25mph.
And there is a reason why you must where possible walk in the cess and not the 4ft and never in the 6ft (you're asking for trouble if you get caught in the 6ft!) and also, why you must wear "Network Rail Orange" (or a vest that conforms to Railway Group Standards Issue 5, well when i was buying them).
 

wessexen

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The role play one is going to be straight forward - you will be faced by your examiner or their glamourous assistant who will probably be a customer with a couple of problems that you need to deal with from the sheet if instructions they give you with regards to the scenario. There will be someone watching and taking notes.

Again, this is all very basic and straighforward and not set out to catch you out. As you will be in a customer facing role you will need to demonstrate that you can talk clearly and conciesly(sp) and that your body language is that of someone who is engaged with the person in front of them.

They may do this, but i doubt it, that someone else will come in wanting your attention whilst you are dealing with person 1(just like real life) and they will want to see how you handle that situation and maybe person 2 becomes irate and so on and so forth.

But it should really be straight forward. Brush up on your basic maths. Try and do a few online tests - the company that devise them are online with practice tests - and you should be fine.


Good luck.
Thank you very much, this sounds all soo familiar in my life as a BHF volunteer, been there, done that, got the T-shirt and 2 customers can be rather fun. Queues are inveted for a reason. :) (I wonder if asking if I can deal with the previous customer first works? Thats what I usually do at the BHF, by the time I've come off the till though, they've usually sorted it, although irate customers is an interesting one as I don't get many of those.)

One problem I am likely to find, body language, having Aspergers Syndrome, body language is not my natural tallent shall we say. Any tips on how to get around that?
 

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Thank you very much, this sounds all soo familiar in my life as a BHF volunteer, been there, done that, got the T-shirt and 2 customers can be rather fun. Queues are inveted for a reason. :) (I wonder if asking if I can deal with the previous customer first works? Thats what I usually do at the BHF, by the time I've come off the till though, they've usually sorted it, although irate customers is an interesting one as I don't get many of those.)

One problem I am likely to find, body language, having Aspergers Syndrome, body language is not my natural tallent shall we say. Any tips on how to get around that?
Telling person 2 that you will finish with person 1 first and then give yoru attention to them always works.. Stick to that as they may try and put you off still.


Do they know you have Aspergers? If not then in my opinion it would be better to inform them first so that they can better approach the role play test with you and they will understand where you are coming from during it.
 

wessexen

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Telling person 2 that you will finish with person 1 first and then give yoru attention to them always works.. Stick to that as they may try and put you off still.


Do they know you have Aspergers? If not then in my opinion it would be better to inform them first so that they can better approach the role play test with you and they will understand where you are coming from during it.


I've mentioned it in my application and they should have my existing medical records from 2 1/2 years ago, besides, I much rather people knew than didn't, so it explains my quirky and eccentric nature. :) So, I hope that it gets passed around on my application.

On my application, it mentions

"mental disability - Aspergers Syndrome" (I know, I should of put "Mental health disability"), as for those that know, Aspergers Syndrome is not so much a limit as such, sufferers often exhibits, which is also considered one of the defining points, the lack of non-verbal communication. Which eye contact can be harder, understanding, decoding and forming relationships of most types, harder and well, understanding emotions.

On the opposite side, most do show strong abilities to focus on one task or subject, for example trains and computing. For me, its considered to be relatively mild, although I do have my fixated subjects. :)

(That is a quick overview, there is a lot more about it. If it helps you to understand a bit better, there are lots and lots of resources and in recent times, ADHD of all the conditions and AS are both apparently considered to be linked to each other in some way, I can't remember what though.)

I know I asked for help, but I hope my posts are also informative, e.g. working towards a goal as one poster and the reasons why I recommend doing voluntary work, on railways and other places.
 

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Thats good that you can share that - but one thing they may be looking out for is during the above 2 person role play. If you become too fixated on the one person or then change to person 2 without going back to person 1 they may have some issues with this.. So ensure you're fully aware of everything that goes on in the role play.

But its very good to see that you have been open with them from the start on your application form.

The very best of luck and remember to keep calm in the role play!
 

LCC106

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I carried out some mock interviews at a school last year. One lady has Aspergers Syndrome. She gave me the best answers to the questions posed on the day, was the best presented and her application form was thorough and neat. She struggled with eye contact and I had already been primed that this might be a problem by her careers teacher. I used to work in HR at a school for students with autism and Aspergers so maybe I understood a little some of the difficulties the lady might encounter at interview, but had I had a real job to offer, she would have been the successful candidate over all the rest.
 

wessexen

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I carried out some mock interviews at a school last year. One lady has Aspergers Syndrome. She gave me the best answers to the questions posed on the day, was the best presented and her application form was thorough and neat. She struggled with eye contact and I had already been primed that this might be a problem by her careers teacher. I used to work in HR at a school for students with autism and Aspergers so maybe I understood a little some of the difficulties the lady might encounter at interview, but had I had a real job to offer, she would have been the successful candidate over all the rest.
Thats quite confidence inspiring. :)

Anyway, I think I need to try and update this thread. My "job search assistant" (I think I should call him), courtesy of the guys called "Impact Initiatives" and I am soo grateful for their help. (Also helped by my local - being Chichester JSP who put me in contact with them). And we're both going through the assessments I think, I've forwarded the assessments over so he has a good idea what they are like and I think some of them he is agreeing they make a little bit of sense.

I've tried the mathematics exercise twice (selling tickets) and both times, I failed to answer all the questions in less than 4 minutes.

Even worse, the first time I tried it, I was wasting time trying to write down a sum in the tiny box and I learned that's a no no. Second time, I tried to dispense that and do some of it in my head, that's a no no for the 5th question, third time I yet to try, but I am getting some rough paper to write everything down.

I need to do the train dispatch exercise (I'll get my sister to help me) and the role play exercise. I might get a Skype friend to do that with me, using technology at my advantage.

If I was to do it properly, I would love to work over Skype with someone I don't know, because it makes it far more real then, but as usual, that is me overcomplicating things and I should use my (Occam's) Razor.

I am grateful for everything that is inspiring me to go further though. I really do.
Interestingly, today (Saturday), I had a situation at the shop I work in, where I had a queue I needed to get through, in trying a different method with customers, I buzzed my manager (and waited for the interesting quotes - its all a joke, I find it funny when I hear them going "ARRRGGHH, RUSSELL!! STOP USING THAT DAMM BUZZER!" as much as the customers do as well.
So, in getting through the queue as quickly as possible, I tried to serve 2 customers at the same time, by processing one transaction as the other person waited for a price of the wallet.

Now I do wonder if that's better than just waiting and mono-tasking, rather than trying to multitask (how many customers in the middle of doing a transaction ask me for a disc?). The other problem I know I am going to have, is change. I'm soo used to a till having virtually no change, so I have interesting ways to make change. E.g. 60P would be 3x20Ps rather than 1x10p and 1x50p. (Both are correct, but would they allow that?)
Likewise, 4 pound may end up like this, 1x£2 - 1x£1 - 2x50p.

Hmmm, complicating matters even more now?
 

LCC106

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Yes, I suspect you are complicating matters! Sounds like your sister will give you the assistance you need.

In terms of serving 2 people at once at work, this COULD lead to mistakes but I always used to be ahead of the customer I was serving and thinking of the next one. In essence, I was multitasking.

Try to stay focused on the task at hand, try to keep things simple (as per Occam's razor if I read it correctly) and try to keep it relevant. It doesn't matter how you give someone their change as long as they get it and it's correct :)
 

wessexen

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I think its time for an update. I had the assessment today (the date of this post) and I passed. Got an (at a guess) high grade on train dispatch, did apparently very well through the role play although I was picked up on my "robotic" nature (nerves and trying to keep calm) and the lack of eye contact (Autism, he thought it might be down to that because I told him first). So I have been offered an interview. I've already prepared about 4 detailed questions. The ticket selling practice however, I failed on, even with adjustments, because probably I was so slow and making adjustments as I go. Not a few adjustments, but a LOT of them. (20 questions and I only did less than 10 of them, 9 and a half of them and I bet they were all wrong too.)

Thank you all for your help however, I am most grateful.

I would also like to add a few points, the assessor was possibly one of the best assessor I have come across, his jokes even got me to crack a few. Like being next to the speaker, I had to respond say "Well, it hasn't sent me 20ft that way!" (referring to me going through the wall and into the next assessment room.)
And I am also known for the guy with a massive laptop, which I think I should of kept at home. It turned out to be too heavy really. At least I didn't knock a chair over in excitement this time, which I had to reference.

It makes a lot of difference if you can relax and enjoy the experience. :)
 

colchesterken

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Thanks for your imput, I am waiting to hear from the Dutch about my application to Greater Anglian
Not sure what standard they are looking for would an out of work lawyer who has been a lifetime trainspotter be a good bet I better not talk about playing with a full size trainset
I was chatting to the drivers at Stratford overground one told me he was previously an IFA but went for a steady wage rather than banking on commissions..they get about£40k
 

reapz

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I think its time for an update. I had the assessment today (the date of this post) and I passed. Got an (at a guess) high grade on train dispatch, did apparently very well through the role play although I was picked up on my "robotic" nature (nerves and trying to keep calm) and the lack of eye contact (Autism, he thought it might be down to that because I told him first). So I have been offered an interview. I've already prepared about 4 detailed questions. The ticket selling practice however, I failed on, even with adjustments, because probably I was so slow and making adjustments as I go. Not a few adjustments, but a LOT of them. (20 questions and I only did less than 10 of them, 9 and a half of them and I bet they were all wrong too.)

Thank you all for your help however, I am most grateful.

I would also like to add a few points, the assessor was possibly one of the best assessor I have come across, his jokes even got me to crack a few. Like being next to the speaker, I had to respond say "Well, it hasn't sent me 20ft that way!" (referring to me going through the wall and into the next assessment room.)
And I am also known for the guy with a massive laptop, which I think I should of kept at home. It turned out to be too heavy really. At least I didn't knock a chair over in excitement this time, which I had to reference.

It makes a lot of difference if you can relax and enjoy the experience. :)
Good job , where is the post
 

Mojo

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Chichester, about a mile and a half (or so, I'll have to look up the mileage or so from Fishbourne to Chichester) from where I live. Although Fishbourne station is not far from me which is typically unstaffed. :o
1 mile 41 chains :)
 

wessexen

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1 mile 41 chains :)
Ok, ok, someones looked it up on my behalf. :)
Anyway, I got a letter through the post today and oh, I have an interview on the 27th at Chichester Station!!! I spoke to them about it to confirm the date (I can't believe it is a 10 day gap!) and they confirm it as everyone elses is on the 26th and AFAKIO of (I maybe wrong), mine is the next day, which is a good thing for me, I can simply drive in without worrying about the cambelt (which needs changing)

I'm hoping I can pull it off, but I am not confident, I've got 5 questions I want to ask that I don't think will be answered, although, if anyone who has gone through the process, I'd be very grateful.
 

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Ok, ok, someones looked it up on my behalf. :)
Anyway, I got a letter through the post today and oh, I have an interview on the 27th at Chichester Station!!! I spoke to them about it to confirm the date (I can't believe it is a 10 day gap!) and they confirm it as everyone elses is on the 26th and AFAKIO of (I maybe wrong), mine is the next day, which is a good thing for me, I can simply drive in without worrying about the cambelt (which needs changing)

I'm hoping I can pull it off, but I am not confident, I've got 5 questions I want to ask that I don't think will be answered, although, if anyone who has gone through the process, I'd be very grateful.
All the best to you with your interview - im pleased you have passed the assessments too.

What questions are you wanting to ask?
 

wessexen

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All the best to you with your interview - im pleased you have passed the assessments too.

What questions are you wanting to ask?
I might compile them into a Word.doc or .pdf file before sending them out, I need to print them as they are stuck on my phone and as my helper pointed out, using my phone for any reason during the interview might come across as rude.
 

Dave A

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Chichester, about a mile and a half (or so, I'll have to look up the mileage or so from Fishbourne to Chichester) from where I live. Although Fishbourne station is not far from me which is typically unstaffed. :o
I trained with the night man at Chichester! He's a lovely bloke, and I reckon he'd be happy to help if you need any! Just tell him "Dave from VIC" sent you! :D

P.S. All the best with the interview.
 

LCC106

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That's excellent news. Good luck! Try and focus on the job itself during the interview and not be sidetracked by other matters (that may seem relevant but aren't necessarily so) when talking to the interview panel. Hopefully that will stand you in good stead. Keep us posted.
 

wessexen

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Thank you all for your kind comments and sorry for the long delay in replying, I've been trying to get the Class 502 that I've been working on, in Trainz and Railworks. Got the TSO pretty much done (next up the DTS as I've put the DMBS in already), but it does bizzare things in Railworks and Trainz I need to export it again.

(Shameless plug - see the link below if its to your interest, don't be put off by the Southern livery, although I sense a bit of irony!
http://s57.photobucket.com/albums/g...n Progress/Class 502 Merseyrail EMU 3D model/ <-- the online progress album.)


Anyway, I've been writing up questions to myself and what I would like to learn from my interviewer, what may come across is I maybe trying too hard to get the job, but thats because I really want it. :) I feel it sort of matches my skills and abilities I've learned since I left school and those that College and University could not teach me.

The questions I would like to ask are in the PDF file below, its only my personal server, so maybe unreliable at times (as it usually is! All it is is a Dell Optiplex SX270 that idles most of the day!)
http://81.6.245.27/docs/QuestionforSTNin.pdf

I'd appreciate some input into these, I looked at some of the questions I've put down and I am not too sure. (1, 2 and 5), so I would love some guidance. :)
 

reapz

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Whats it like to work in a unionized enviroment is always a good one if u come from a non railway/union background
 

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Whats it like to work in a unionized enviroment is always a good one if u come from a non railway/union background
Really? I would never have expected to have that come at me in an interview and it would be hard to answer as half my workforce are not with any union.


wessen I cant view your questions at the moment so ill try and read them tomorrow and get back to you.
 

reapz

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Really? I would never have expected to have that come at me in an interview and it would be hard to answer as half my workforce are not with any union.


wessen I cant view your questions at the moment so ill try and read them tomorrow and get back to you.

99% of the railway managers I know come from the rank and file so havebeen in a union for many years ,

Also a high number of them are x union reps .

So i think the question is a good one , its different and u will be rememberd
 

wessexen

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Thank you all for your advice, so you know, I had the interview today and I cut out 1 question, although 2 were repeated as they were already answered, I jumped the gun again. :o

I also prepared discussions about my hobbies and interest (weren't used) and info about Southern (weren't used but mentioned it). So I didn't get a chance to talk about my student rep skills. :( (I was a student representative for board meetings for 2 years running at uni). So I hope I've impressed them, as I apparently did well, but lets see what they say, that will be at the end of the week.

EDIT: I forgot to say, it wasn't easy getting there, I had 2 options, walk the 200 yards to Fishbourne station(!) or take the car, I took the car due to the off peak service. It later proved to be my advantage, although, I cleaned the car with a pressure washer and did a few trips back and forth in the drive to dry out the brakes a bit... that did not work, as the front left rusted well and truely on and that was in 48 hours. So there's me in the drive trying to move the car, the car on 3 wheels tries to move the front left and its stuck, move the steering, still stuck, move car by hand, still stuck, give it some welly, stalls, do it on the clutch, stalls, try again, unstuck.... yay! Took 5 minutes to sort that out and I thought "Oh god, I'm stuck."
 
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