The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1 (April 21, 1927)
Otago Page. — Our Correspondent in Pensive Mood
Our Correspondent in Pensive Mood.
Most of us have a hobby. We must while away our leisure hours, and—although the millennium in the worker's dream is to lie in comfort in an easy chair with a pipe at hand, aye, and a “wee drap” too—once released from daily toil the worker finds that the cherished retirement, to which he looked forward with such pleasurable anticipation, is but falsely realised, and he must find relaxation in employment: he must find a hobby.
So many of us forget that labour is the honey of life; that, to those who are not habitually indolent, work is the antidote for dissatisfaction and depression. In passing along life's way we meet with those whom we feel to be of the favoured few, and—contemplating our lot—we lament our misfortunes. We pine for the other fellow's daily round.
This is one of the ridiculous traits of human nature, and, should we fail to curb it, we become obsessed with imaginary grievances which fidget our very souls; we become sceptical, rancorous, moody, and indifferent to pleasure—all ills bred of an idle mind.
How very different is the lot of the man with an aim, the man with the hobby; some little employment which occupies and soothes his mind during his leisure hours. The hobby is not the exclusive prerogative of the rich. It is within the reach of the most impecunious labourer. It takes form in many ways; some build, others indulge in the various field sports; some take the rod or gun, while others are patrons of horticulture and agriculture. To judge from the prodigious industry of some of our country members in the last named hobby, it appears to be both absorbing and lucrative.
While taking a constitutional one recent afternoon I happened upon the home of one of our highly esteemed Dunedin guards. It was ideally situated on a sunny slope, entrance being obtained by a winding path through a sprinkle of native bush. In front of the house there was a plot of roses which, to me, a layman in the art of their cultivation, appeared as a triumph of culture; their sturdy yet delicate blooms were richly coloured in wonderful tones pleasing to the eye. It was a plot in which one could well take a just pride. At the bottom of the slope was a huge hothouse used for the propagation of tomatoes; here was found the man of industry, busily gathering, in a truly practical sense, the fruit of his labour. The plants had yielded a splendid crop of “Condine Reds” which, in colour and flavour, leave little to be desired. This house has produced upwards of two tons and a quarter of first-class fruit this season, and, realising fancy prices, has brought a return which would make some of our “cowcocky” members contemplate a change of occupation. These results are most pleasing, and are no doubt gratifying to the grower, but they have been achieved by dint of hard toil and no amount of anxiety on the financial side. This industrious member is our old friend Guard Thomas O'Brien.
Dunedin has just been filled with an Australasian Medical Congress which brought many travellers from abroad. All the visitors were impressed with the beauty of our province, and looked forward to their tours which extended from the North Cape to the Bluff. The local traffic office had a busy time mapping out itineraries of travel for several parties, and owing to the Department's extended operations in this direction it was able to arrange interesting tours which embraced a good proportion of rail scenery. It seems that the Department could do an extended business in this direction, and there is every indication that it would prove profitable; a well mapped tour certainly provides a good advertisement for our system.page 43
The fruit traffic in Otago has been disappointing this season on account of the failure of the stone fruit crop, and the depleted crops will cause a large deficiency in the usually substantial revenue derived from this source. The shortage is causing consternation among a number of our members in the main centre, who are wont to visit the auction marts to purchase their annual supplies of strawberries, peaches, apricots, etc., as the prices being obtained are disquieting to the limited purse of the railwayman; however, one sees several of the more venturesome struggling valiantly home on their cycles, maintaining their balance with a case reposing upon the handle bars, in a manner which indicates long practice in the art. If any of the country members seek an agent to obtain their supplies I can confidently recommend each of these worthies; most of them have been trained in the Dunedin City, and will keep an eye on thè bawbees. I do not vouch, however, for their commission charges.
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The recent spell of excellent weather enjoyed in the south has been a veritable harvest for our outdoor champions; cricketers, bathers, tennis fiends, those found of “biking,” yaehtsmen, and the rest, have indulged in their respective sports to the full. When work brings these gladiators together on a Monday morning we are regaled with many interesting accounts of the mighty achievements of the week-end; how the cricketer was thwarted in his attempt to knock up a century—being caught most unfairly in the slips before opening his account; how the bather just failed to make a hit with a fair mermaid parading the sands; how the tennis fiend double-faulted through no fault of his own—the alluring glance of his lady opponent being really his downfall; how the yachtsman intends to annex the Sanders Cup; and the rest, well, they just babble. This is the joy of having a hobby, and one half of the fun is prattling to one's friends of achievements and disappointments in the particular hobby in which the speaker is interested. This is the sociability which we miss when it comes our turn to sever our connections with the N.Z.R.
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We have several yachtsmen in the district, the most prominent being Mr. Geo. Kellett, whose fourteen footer, the “Winifred” is this year's Otago contestant for the Sanders Cup. At the time of writing the Otago boat has not sailed up to her reputation in the races which have been held, but this cannot be taken as an indication of her worth, as she has some wonderful performances to her credit. Another prominent yachting enthusiast is Mr. Walter Munro of the District Office staff; he sails the “Vera,” a 23 foot keel yacht, which has met with several aquatic successes on the Otago Harbour. There are many great sportsmen in the district, but they are shy when approached to give a few particulars of their achievements, so the writer would be pleased to receive notes from their friends. It is the personal touch which is required to retain the interest in our magazine.
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The Railwaymen's picnic was held at Evansdale recently, and proved an unprecedented success in every way. A special train was provided by the Department, and although the Picnic Committee anticipated a good attendance, they little expected that it would require twenty overtaxed ears to convey the happy band to the picnic ground: some two thousand attended. The weather was ideal and with a well arranged programme of sports, etc., a most enjoyable day was spent. The special left Dunedin at 10 a.m. having commenced its journey at Mosgiel to pick up the suburban enthusiasts. After much sorting out and juggling of lunch baskets, the crowd settled down; at least, as many as possible did so, the remainder stretched their legs; and there were many thrills of happy anticipation as the “Wab” and her confrere the “B” steamed away with their cheery, light-hearted freight. There is something about a picnic by rail which provides a thrill unassociated with any other mode of transport; from the earliest school days we have sung of the joys of the train picnic, and the appeal is still strong when the opportunity comes our way. The Committee's organisation was the source of favourable comment generally, and it must have been extremely gratifying to each one of them to witness the many happy faces at the end of the day. While at Evansdale a large number took the opportunity to visit the Glen which provides some of the finest scenery to be seen in the South Island, and is visited frequently by overseas tourists. On this occasion its exclusiveness and quiet provided many thrills for the younger members of the party. Many who attended are already talking of next year's picnic, and it seems that the Railwayman's day will be the outstanding outing of the year.