Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trainworld, Art Deco, and Hanging with Frank

I love my canalphones. My dad can snore as loud as he wants (he’s been remarkably quiet this trip, actually), and all I can hear is the beautiful sounds of Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain.

This morning started with several different activities; my mum went off to the Napier iSite to find out about the best places to buy souvenirs, and my dad and I went to Trainworld (at last!), a 2,109 square foot 00-scale model railway located on the 1st floor of a building on Dickens Street (what back in Canada would be called the 2nd floor). Run by Anne and Michael Deitz since 2004, Trainworld actually consists of five different layouts. Besides the main 87 x 27 feet 00 layout, there is an American O-gauge railway running about six feet up in the air along the back wall in a circuit (a work in progress, but it was nice to see a “CP Rail” boxcar); a Thomas the Tank Engine layout with four different trains (Thomas, Percy, James, and Doc) that one could control by pressing buttons on the side of the layout case); the Marklin Layout created by the late Francis Marsden of Napier in his basement; and Lilliput, a 60-year-old automated layout that took twenty-five years to build, and contains several animations, such as a loader digging a hole, a steam boat rocking gently at the dock, and a tractor ploughing a field.

Some of the scenes modeled in Trainworld’s main layout made me smile; it’s always interesting to see what little details and scenes model railroaders choose to build. These included:
  • a battalion of Beef-Eaters marching back up the hill to their medieval castle 
  • a house fire being fought by the fire brigade, and a crowd being kept back from the flames by the police
  • a cricket match in full swing 
  • a train wreck strewn about a gully below a viaduct 
  • Wiltshire white horse cut into the pasture on the side of a hill 
  • a wedding at the church 
  • advertisements on the side of the rail line’s wall proclaiming “Yorkshire Relish” (Yum?)
Also highly hilarious was a sign posted on the wall by the control booth. While it applies to model railroading, I think it also translates over to those of us who enjoy playing trains with life-size models...


Model Railway Disease 
Adult Males Very Susceptible 

Symptoms: Continual compliant as to need for a constructive hobby. Patient has blank expression, sometimes deaf to children and wife. Always haunts basement, attic, or garage. Won’t do work around house. Has nose in model railway catalogues and magazines. Often found wandering around railway shops with camera. Mumbles numbers such as 4-6-2, 0-4-0, 2-6-4T. 

No Known Cure - Disease Not Fatal

We met up with my mum back at the hostel, and she filled us in on her morning: she ended up doing an Art Deco tour of Napier’s downtown core, and then went shopping for a nice merino and possum wool sweater, and a souvenir for my brother, Arthur. She took the two of us down to the Art Deco Trust’s headquarters on Tennyson Street, where we watched a short twenty-minute documentary on the history of Napier’s terrible 1931 earthquake, then subsequent rebuilding in the Art Deco style of the day. I was always mindful of Napier’s history and its characteristic buildings, but after watching that video I found myself paying even more attention to the ziggurat constructions, sunburst motifs, and intricate carvings found all over the city.

After lunch at Jester’s Pies (so good that dad had two), we got in the car and headed up the hill to Napier Bluff lookout, where we took in the splendid view of the Port of Napier and Hawkes Bay. The last time I was up there was with Stefan and Harrison, and it was so cloudy we could hardly see a thing! That certainly wasn’t the case today, as we watched the huge cranes unloading a container ship, and graders and loaders scurrying back and forth grading a new section of the breakwater to hold even more logs waiting for export.

At 2:30pm we headed out to Maraenui visit Frank; I had a little bit of a shock when we got there, as the City of Napier is digging up the old creekbed beside the house to create a more “meandering stream” out of the currently straight concrete viaduct: the result is two huge piles of sand, which the neighbourhood kids took great delight in sliding up and down after the machine operators had gone home for the say.

Frank was in good spirits, and greatly enjoyed showing my mum around his garden as the two of them talked plants. I did a load of laundry for the three of us, and of course the moment I hung it out on the line it started to cloud over (mercifully, it didn’t rain). I was also able to socalise with Tiger again, who despite running away at the first sight of the three of us coming up the back walk, reappeared when I was out in the garden and then wouldn’t leave us alone (although that may have had more to do with the fact that it was close to suppertime). Poor Frank got to listen to our earthquake story, complete with visual aids in the form of pictures from my laptop... every time I look at those photos, the more amazing I am that we walked away relatively unscathed as we did.

Waiting for me at the house was some mail that didn’t make it to me before I left on New Year’s Day; I finally got to open my mum and dad’s Christmas card, and my copy of Australian Railway Enthusiastlocie J 1275 at the Hoteo Quarry on the front cover! It was fantastic to finally see it in print. :-)

For supper we went to the Frying Dutchman and picked up an order of snapper and chips, and then sat in Frank’s kitchen, enjoying our “fush and chups” with Tuimato sauce, a couple of good beers (ginger for me, regular for dad and Frank), topped off with some Rush Munro’s ice cream for dessert (passionfruit, so delicious!).

Around 9:30pm we said our goodbyes; we loaded my suitcase that has been under Stefan’s old bed for the past two months into the car, so I now have all my belongings with me again. I wore jeans for the first time in two months today! It was a slightly odd feeling.

I am now off to bed... this entry has been a bit more terse and less descriptive than previous ones because I have been feeling progressively worse all day, and I’m coming down with something (lucky me). I simply don’t have the energy in me to write any more... goodnight!


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