Shed tour gift for granddad a big hit

TRAIN TREAT: John Griffiths checks out the replica train set during the Blokes and Sheds Bus Tour on Sunday.
TRAIN TREAT: John Griffiths checks out the replica train set during the Blokes and Sheds Bus Tour on Sunday.

The 12th annual Blokes and Sheds Bus Tour was a Father's Day gift that got John Griffiths' blood racing yesterday.

Mr Griffiths said he had been invited by his son, Edward, and grandson, Zach, 13, on the mystery tour of man sheds around the district which - to his delight - had a second-to-last stop at a miniature train exhibition in Makarewa.

Like most dads on the Southland Boys High School PTA fundraiser, the trip was a Father's Day gift that appeared in a postcard invitation at the breakfast table the Sunday before, Edward said. His father - who created train routes for British Rail until 1983 - was one of about 120 sons, dads, and granddads who escaped the rain and sleet outside to huddle around a miniature replica of a snowy ski field, circus carnival and Coronation Street-esque neighbourhood, all part of the 4.5-metre by 5.5m exhibition layout by miniature train enthusiast Tom Frew.

The train set - which took up most of Mr Frew's man shed - came after a sausage sizzle at the Invercargill Rowing Club, and was part of the tour through Southland, now in its 12th year.

The tour also included a vintage car shed in Wallacetown.

Mr Griffiths said he had also worked on the Central Otago railway lines when the family moved to New Zealand.

Next week he was looking forward to a ride on the Kingston Flyer at Frankton, he said.

The Griffiths - joined by Zach's other granddad Dennis Ward - were among several multi-generation groups on the tour, which had become a tradition in Southland families for the weekend after Father's Day.

The atmosphere on the buses as the tour hit the road was congenial, he said.

"There's lots of stories on the buses today."

Mr Frew, who shook hands with many as they boarded the bus, said replica trains had been a passion his whole life. For years it was a hobby that was stuck in a drawer.

Then he and his wife, Donna, bought the property at Makarewa.

Mrs Frew said it seemed fair enough that after years in the house drawers, the train obsession be allowed its own shed in which to flourish.

She even lent a hand, painting the trees.

Mrs Frew said she did not mind as she had her own blokette shed to keep her happy.

"I ride horses, so I've got flash stables and a tack room."

The Southland Times