Sunday, 8 June 2008

Blokes and Sheds Tour

The Otautau Heritage Trust organised a Blokes and Sheds Tour today as a fundraiser for their community work. It was the first such tour I'd ever been on, and it was very impressive. There are some very capable, talented and hardworking men out there. I had no idea that this is what some of them do in their sheds. I managed to get some photos of three of the five sheds on the tour.

The first shed we visited was Alan Stearne's. When we walked in the door, we saw two train sets running, one about twice as big as the other. Pictured above is the smaller one, obviously too fast for my camera.

Then, after we had had enough fun looking at them, he took us into the next room which had a train set that was twice as big as the biggest in the first room and within its confines was a veritable metropolis. It was truly a marvel to behold. I think we were all stunned to see the details of this village and the shear size of it.

But trains are not Alan's only hobby. He has an amazing collection of vintage radios, telephones, phonographs and records. He played this one for us. It's operated by a handcrank and plays perfectly. Who needs mp3 players?

As I was leaving I couldn't believe his garden tools. Clean, organised, put away. This absolutely puts my shed in the hall of shame.

John Lowrey's shed is entirely different. He's building a caravan from the ground up. This enormous creation is a feat of engineering and design. Outside, it is sleek and yet solid. Inside, it is spacious and comfortable, with all of the modern conveniences anyone could ask for. His lovely wife, Jan, has also made the squabs for the seating areas.

John and Jan Lowrey. I see travel in their future.

This last shed is a super shed owned by W. Saxton (didn't catch his first name). This is the mother of all farming sheds with vintage tractors galore.

But that's not all. One wall is packed with beer cans and bottle collection, and another wall is devoted to grocery items, from bottles to biscuit tins, from kitchen implements to school photos. Above, the two bottles on the right are for oysters. Did you know oysters came in bottles?

Biscuit tins.

Precursors to the electric food processor - and, well, processed foods.

There were so many other things in his shed that I didn't get proper photos of. One such item was a bellows machine that a blacksmith would use to keep the coal fire going.

But this last item was even more interesting to me when I got my camera home and could see the writing on the label. It's an egg incubator made by the Petaluma Incubator Company, Petaluma, California, USA. Petaluma is only 45 minutes from my home town. A small world indeed. Petaluma was known as the 'World's Egg Basket', probably greatly due to this company which streamlined the hatching process, much to the relief of the hens of the 1870s.

Thanks to the Otautau Heritage Trust and all the shed owners for opening your doors and letting us have a glimpse. I think we all appreciated the level of devotion you have for your hobbies, projects and preserving rural history. I'll never look at my shed in quite the same way again.

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