John MacVicar cranked up the pistons, fired up the engine, hooked up the coaches, waved the flag and we were off on our “Railway Journeys” themed meeting. What a delightful theme, with John’s reminiscing about trains in Scotland and his more recent discovery of the Otago rail trail and the amazing Taieri Gorge railway.
Everyone got up steam and the meeting rattled along happily with no breakdowns and plenty to keep us entertained on the trip.
Grammarian Alannah educated us with colourful train engine vocabulary from piston rods and petticoat pipes to bogeys and boiler tubes. Driving a steam engine must have been fun when you could toss words like these into your conversation!
First speaker Vivien Cowey was speaking from Project 5, Your body talks, with “Love at first sight”, and the lessons she has learnt from it. Vivien’s story of the antics of her small dog, Todd, vividly described with words and gestures was very entertaining. Wonderful visual images, especially that of Vivien out on the motorway at 2 a.m looking for her dog, and hiding from her neighbour wandering outside to see what all the commotion was about. What she has learnt from this: – there’s a reason that little dog was behind bars at Animates, he could, and did, lead her up the garden path, and if there’s a choice, get a goldfish.
Next speaker Brett Snow emphasised the importance of taking advantage of opportunities, as they become experiences to share. Using visual aids to enhance his message we learnt of the opportunities presented to Brett from two flying opportunities. A flight in a 4-seater plane at age 16 and being given the chance to land the plane at Auckland, plus seeing the Concord and Haley’s Comet on the same trip. Secondly, when a flight in Europe was overbooked and Brett and his family volunteered to get off the plane, the amazing compensation given to them by the airline enabled further travels and experiences. Never look a gift horse in the mouth …
Our third speaker was David Clarkson, introduced by Helen McLeod as the ‘father of the club who got us on the train 772 meetings ago, and has kept us on track since’. Well said.
David’s speech was titled “So what’s with Master Chef” which was intriguing as to how this would tie in with his subject of facilitating a workshop on strategic planning. Obviously there’s more to Master Chef than I thought! David explained how he wanted to come across as a credible presenter, but found he was procrastinating with his facilitation preparation – until he watched the final of Master Chef Australia. These two hour cook-offs between three people were obviously the inspiration David needed. As he put it, a contestant would fall off his horse, fix the mistakes and get back on his horse, so David related this to his preparation, focussed and got on with it it. So cooking programmes teach us something else besides how to cook – if you want to accomplish something, seize the day, apply yourself, focus and go for it.
The train had a brief stop for railway station refreshements before picking up the pace again for Table Topics, with Bryce expansively describing various rail trips and then inviting his speakers to add their own experiences of said trips. So Sandra (with ‘husband’) was on the Oriental Express but harbouring a dislike of using public toilets and the lack of air-conditioning. How did she survive for four days??? Kim drew on his own experiences to descibe his trip on Amtrack – and met Barack Obama. And guest Ian enthusiastically rose to the occasion when the Adelaide to Darwin train broke down and it was five days’ walk to Alice Springs. Camels, jumping goldfish and Jack Russell terriers all played their part in the saga.
The train reached its terminus only a couple of minutes late, everyone had had a fantastic time on the journey, disembarked in a happy frame of mind and with a final wave, sauntered off for coffee at the nearest café.
Keep fired up for next week’s trip.