…I loved trains. Back then, the only trains I knew were hauled by coal-powered engines. Yes, old memories have surfaced again. Thank you, EC, for the nudge.

If you’ve been wandering around Idle Thoughts for a while you’ll know that I grew up* in a country of some ingenuity. This problem-solving was due, in no small part, to the geographical location and geological peculiarity of the land.

Now, I’m not going to enter that age-old argument between neighbours over who first made use of a wire loop and a stick as a gate and kerosene cans for storage drawers.  Or who made the first Pavlova. (But if I ever met the bugger I’d shoot him!)

No. Today I dips me lid to the engineering brilliance of NZR. Specifically, the lines they built in formidable country. And, mostly, to the engines that rode those rails, to the delight of little boys and girls up and down the Main Trunk line: the mighty K Class.

The mighty K. (image and more info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NZR_K_class_(1932)

Also from Wikipedia   State Highway 2 (Rimutaka Hill Road) near the top of the range..jpg

That photo, above, is of the road, but terrain was much the same.

I recall a “bit of a miff” with my mother on a trip to Wellington (probably late 40s, early 50s) because she would not let me get off the train to pick foxgloves.  We had 5 engines on the train and our speed was so reduced that quite a few people (including my father, who, I still believe, ought to have taken his Darling Daughter with him!) had stepped off the slow-moving train to walk alongside the track for a while.(Imagine Health and Safety wearing that today!) And the foxgloves, spilling in purple ripples down into the steep gullies…Oh! how they called out to me to be picked!

As I said, a bit  miffed …

This is for parochial nostalgia – my home Province (State or County for others.) If you like older forms of transport, this blog has some nice pictures.

One day, when I’m back across The Ditch and have the time, I’d like to take a train ride to Wellington. But it wont be the same.

Of course, New Zealand does have other steep, twisty roads. It’s  known as The Shaky Isles for good reason. And it’s largely our geography that has thrown up so many innovative minds.

* I should say “spent my early years” as it’s more accurate to say I “grew up” in London!

ED   In the previous post’s comments, mention was made of a tree that smells like peanut butter (which, I have to say, would tend to put me off!).Possibly not something that would cope well with my environs, but some of you might care to give it a try. Clerodendrum trichotoma.

19 thoughts on “WHEN I WAS A LITTLE TACKER…

  1. Pavlova must have passion fruit on the top to counter some of the sweetness. And it is a dish which far too many people bring to celebrations. And I really don’t like the ones with uncooked eggwhite in the middle. Which some people have tried to tell me is the ‘right way’ to make the dammed dish.
    Steam trains have such a lot of charm. If ever you are down my way we should arrange it in conjunction with the train jaunt – once every six weeks or so I am told. Filthy, greedy romance on wheels.


  2. i have always been madly in love with steam engines – and have yet to take a proper journey! pretty sure i need to do that… there are still a few short lines here in the US. and a visit to NZ is on my list…. thanks for sharing this!


  3. I can claim to recall that Blackfriars station in London still had a wooden platform when I first began commuting…. but no steam trains… and the views weren’t that good.


    • Good heavens! I was in and out of Blackfriars in the 60s and never noticed the platform.
      Um…perhaps I should say (for benefit of people who may be more familiar with religious orders than stations) Scarlet and I refer to a train station in London.


  4. Ooo…. I love trains! They took them away in my corner of the world, alas. I like your little dips into nostalgia. Trains… any time!


    • PS Not quite the same as a mainline station, but they still had wooden escalators at a couple of Underground stops when I was last there about a dozen years ago. I’m thinking of Gants Hill in particular. I liked them so much, I made an artwork based on them. I suspect they’ve since been removed. I vaguely remember hearing something about “refurbishment,” which, in my experience, usually means something along the lines of “ruined.”


      • Oh! Those wooden escalators! yes, there were still a lot of them in the 60s and 70s. No problem if you were wearing chunky shoes, but when finer heels started to make a comeback…I was on the “up” escalator one night when a woman ahead of me caught her heel and tumbled. I managed to jump over her and a man behind pulled her clear of other people, but it was a real pile-up before the staff hit the switch. No one seriously hurt, but imagine going down!These days they are all narrow-gap steel-and-rubber treads.Refurbished! 😉


  5. I’m not going to talk about Pavlova but trains — maybe! The railroads are a huge part of Canada’s history/culture, too (and my great grandpappy played a key role). Hmm, Canada and NZ have a lot of things in common, if you think about it. I love your story about the slow train and the foxgloves. Have you ever heard Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”? I first heard it in Grade 7 (my teacher was also a folk singer) and still love it.


  6. Tell me it ain’t true, that bit about the train going so slow that people could hop off 🙂 I love it!

    When I was a teen, I used to ‘borrow’ my aunt’s very, verrrry old Essie Summers’ Mills and Boons books and read about New Zealand, and I used to dream about going there.


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