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Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Over the last week or so I’ve been enjoying my grandson’s view of how things function in the world. How marvellous that such small errors result in such a delightfully entertaining perspective of the world.

He recently spent a week or so in Queenstown with his grandfather, which in itself created a bit of consternation after he told his father (estranged from his mother) he was going to Queensland in South America. Over reactive father went up as if he was full of hydrogen and exploded on re-entry into the atmosphere, without ever realising the whole thing was nothing more than Leo’s inept grasp of geography. 

Anyway, while in Queenstown – in the South Island, Leo was wonderfully impressed with the engines in the Earnslaw, and more particularly, as his ambition is to be a train driver, the Kingston Flyer.  According to Leo, there is a difference between steam and petrol engines most simply explained in the following way:

Petrol engines have about six things in them called ‘pistols’ which go back and forward incredibly fast, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – and that incredibly fast banging makes the engine move. When the pistols run out of petrol bullets, the engine stops.

Steam engines, which are the best; have a lot of water which gets boiled up inside the fireplace and then is so hot it is forced out the chimney. It’s very magical in there and no one knows how they work because it’s too hot to look, but you can tell when it’s ready because the whistle blows.  The Kingston Flyer is the fastest train in South America because it has a steam engine.

Closer to the silly season, he took a lot of convincing before he gave up his wording on one of the traditional carols “Hark the hairy Angels sing...”

Hacker Ma
(Erin McKechnie.)



  1. Gabrielle Rothwell4 March 2014 at 14:16

    This wonderfully-worded piece reminded me so much of my two grandsons - Cameron, aged 4 and Max aged 3. It was so much a mixture of these two wonderful little people in my life who mean all the world to me. Your Leo sounds a darling - intelligent - an old soul perhaps. Make the most of this wonderful time Erin because as my father used to say "Poor Youth - how quickly it passes."
    I also have been thinking so much about my eldest son, Paul who is now in his 40s and who was so close to his grandmother, my mother. How the time has passed. His brother, Laurence who will be 40 this year has just send this text to me:
    "Autumn breeze, has been reminding me of Nana and you all day today Mum. Has been really nice."
    Would love to meet your Leo one day.

  2. My baby daughter, now 42 years old, also had a sweet way with words. I remember being charmed by her desire to ride in a deckle-dubber bus.