With school holidays apon us we took the opportunity to steel away to the South Island for a weeks escape from the real world. A chance to visit the farm is never passed up and although it was dark by the time we arrived we woke to a simply stunning Marlborough Sounds morning, the type that captured my heart and imagination the very first time I visited this stunning piece of paradise....
Looking over the pet paddock towards the hill block..
The weeks structure had not been set in stone but there is never a shortage of things to do on a farm, and our boys were keen to help Grandy do the rounds checking the deer and sheep and helping with the daily chores that townies dont get the chance to see or do every day.
Father and son off on a hunt...
The hill block is overrun with wild pigs - heaps of wild pigs, and thus its common to go hunting every night. My eldest son is always keen to go, so accompanied by brother-in-law we headed up the hill the first night to try our luck. My boy decided he would stick with his more experienced uncle while yours truely went it alone in a different area, with almost predictable results....
One happy lad!
As darkness fell we met back at the predetermined location and without fail my son had returned with his uncle and a good sized porked potted at the the top of the hill. My son, never one to miss an opportunity cheekily asked me "wheres yours dad??" Hahaha cheeky little sod! 
I had failed to locate a pig, and even after several further succesful trips sighting pigs, I failed to hit one all week and have come home with my head hung in shame....
"Diesel" with his ride car being driven by Ted at a local track.
For quite some time my railway interests have influenced those around me, including my Mother-In-Law, who decided long ago that she wanted a ride on train to traverse her expansive garden that encircles the farm house. Having paid visits to the local model engineering groups, and ridden on their 7 1/4inch gauge trains the die was cast and plans started to form on how she could achieve her goals.
A fate would have it, a couple of years back a neat little loco named "Diesel" and his ride car appeared on TradeMe for sale, and at a reasonable price. With a gentle nudge my Mother-in-law soon became the proud owner and the wheels of progress were set in motion. 
"Diesel" was purchased from an Auckland gent, and he eventually ended up stored in my shed here in Taranaki. With the prospect of getting a railway built at the farm still some time off, I rang the local model engineering group in New Plymouth to see if we would be allowed to bring Diesel to their track for a run. Turns out they dont have a 7 1/4 inch gauge track in New Plymouth, but a nice bloke down the road did, and he would probably be more than happy to let us go for a hoon at his place. 
True to their word we met an amazing bloke named Ted, who has a fabulous estate in the foothills of Mt Egmont and a 7 1/4 inch gauge railway that we could take Diesel to run on! 
Long story short Diesel has ended up living at Teds for the last two years, and when time and tide allow, we pile the tribe in the car and head up to Teds for a play.

What does this have to do with this posting.... well as I alluded to before, plans have been evolving to get a railway built in the garden at the farm, and we have finally reached a point where work can start. Brother in law is a surveyor, so after plotting and mapping, checking grades and curves we finally began construction of the garden railway.
Through there please.
One of the curves marked out
bush bashing and peg placing...
paegs in, boxing taking shape.
After three days of digging, leveling, shoveling, banging, blood sweat and tears, the first 18 meters of track foundation was ready for steel reinforcing and concrete. We are going to lay the track on a 500mm wide concrete base, which will give a solid and stable base for the railway while allowing sufficient clearance between the railway and the lawn to allow mowing and weed control. 
Steel is on the way and with a bit of luck more will be done when we return south at Christmas.
With temperatures hitting 26 degrees in the valley, what better way to cool off after a day of working on the railroad than taking the kayaks for splash in the river! We loaded up and headed for the river over the back of the farm....
drag races down the river.
Mahey Drisdale eat your heart out!
"Umm.... left over and under then right over left....
Sadly, all too soon it was time to head home, and fittingly the weather bombed and we had high winds and heavy rain all the way home......

Back to the real world on Monday. I have a week of day shift running 545 - 528 - 547 - 544 so there should be some opportunities to get photos of trains in the daylight  for a change...

Untill next time..

10/13/2012 06:26:45 pm

We are so lucky in this country. Don't care about everyone running away overseas - been there done that, and came home. We are the the most fortunate citizens on this planet. Right here. Thanks Andrew for showing us another reason why.


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