I was lucky enough to be invited to lunch with Trammie Joe Pickering and his wife, Helen, at Woodend about 30 km north of the city. I was also lucky to be driven there by another Trammie, Ken Henderson and wife Cynthia. It was a wonderful sunny day after a frosty start. Helen Pickering had been busy all morning, I suspect, making a hearty soup, scrumptious home-made bread and a yummy lemon cheese cake. After lunch, coffee, on the terrace, was as good as I have had anywhere. A walk along the nearby beach filled in much of the remaining afternoon. Nothing could have been further removed from the woes of quake recovery Christchurch. Here God was in his heaven and all was well with the world. Even the ocean appeared to be at peace. Way down the beach trotting horses were weaving around the tide line. We strolled north with eyes on hills rising beyond Waipara. One higher point was white with snow. I had my small compact digji just in case I saw something. I did. A horse rider appeared in the shimmering distance trotting at a fast pace on firm wet sand comfortably separated from the breaking waves. Its young rider was obviously having a buzz, occasionally glancing beyond the inshore breaker. I got a couple of pleasing images. Later rider and horse returned and passed at a gallop.
It got me thinking about a colleague in Central Otago who loves horses, being a high country horse-back musterer and Naseby farmer. He was also a passable bard with the pen name Blue Jeans. He wrote a ballad “When Jean Deans raced the train” The mail train from Dunedin would hopefully have a letter from her fiancée away at the war.
I once interviewed a woman, a star show jumper and dressage performer at Canterbury A &P shows. She told me, as a teenager, she rode beside trains on the one-time Oxford branch line. Being in north Canterbury reminded me of a freakish dream a few years ago. The dream followed a long day working on the trams, the day before our new operations manager, John Smith, took over.
In my dream, I was taking tram No. 178 for an unauthorised evening spin to north Canterbury. The tram was loaded with mates and barbecue gear, there for a great time. How the tram ran without rails or overhead power was not relevant. Dreams are like that. Inevitably things went wrong and it seemed doubtful I would get the tram back to its shed in Christchurch before morning. Horrors. The new boss would arrive through the door on his first morning and a tram would be missing. My God how will I get away with this? No way. Relieved I woke up, thankful it had merely been a dream. The tram would be where it should be when I met the new boss in a few hours. Enjoying being off the hook, I was able to rethink the bizarre events. It then occurred to me. If I reckoned my actions would fall foul of the new boss, what made me think I would have got away with it with the previous boss? Dreams are like that……