We joined the local Probus Club soon after we moved to Levin – Probus groups are clubs for retirees, and are free of the fund raising obligations that other service clubs take part in. The meetings are very interesting, with usually a club speaker (one of the members) giving a short talk followed by an invited guest speaker, who speaks for a longer period. Robin was the club speaker this month and related the adventures he had as a 15 year old scout and the epic journey undertaken to attend a Scout Jamboree in Dunedin.
Relating his scouting adventures
For a schoolboy growing up in New Plymouth who hadn’t been out of the area, it was a huge trip indeed. Boarding a steam train, the excited boys carrying their kit bags, together with their leaders, and all the tents and supplies settled down for the ride to Wellington. The train stopped at stations along the way, and even more excited youngsters climbed aboard. But that was only part of the trip – next was a daylight sailing across to the South Island. In those far off days, the ferries travelled right down to Lyttleton near Christchurch, the trip is a shorter one to Picton these days. Then it was all aboard another steam train, and they travelled down to Dunedin, for a week of fun and adventures.
The trip back home was in reverse, but once onboard the ferry, Robin decided on a change of plan. Always a bad sailor, he decided he would try to sleep the journey away. He lifted up the cover on one of the life boats, climbed inside to fall asleep tucked under the cover for the entire journey. Obviously no one did a head count, as he wasn’t even missed. And on the return train back, once they neared New Plymouth, the last remaining boys gathered up all the pillows they could find and had “the mother of all pillow fights.” Those with long memories will recall that pillows could be hired from Platform Nine at Wellington Station for travelers comfort when journeying overnight.
Our guest speaker was Audrey Garret who spoke about her time spent as an Art Teacher in Zimbabwe. The local children loved to attend school, but could only do so if their parents could afford the school fees and provide a uniform. Audrey took many photos, and used these as the basis for her beautiful paintings of the youngsters. She told us that age was no barrier to volunteering, as she was 60 when she took on her assignment.
Paintings by Audrey Garret
There was a luncheon arranged after the meeting, and quite a crowd of us gathered in the adjacent Levin Cossie Club Restaurant. And what a great lunch it was – hot ham off the bone and roast veggies, followed by apple pie, ice-cream and custard. Very good value too, at $22.50 each. After eating a big meal like that for lunch, it was something very light indeed for our evening meal
Mid year Probus lunch at the Cossie Club