I gazed upon countryside I'd never laid eyes on before on Friday.
After an early start on a cold morning we set off for the bus stop at just after 7.30am.
I couldn't believe it cost just $12 to go all the way to Woodville. Right on time the bus pulled in, our tickets were checked and we were off.
We stopped to pick up passengers at Waipawa, Waipukarau and Dannevirke. The bus was nearly full.
As we were leaving Dannevirke the bus driver said: "We are running a bit late folks. Not sure why but don't worry I'll make it up going through the Gorge." That got a few hoots of laughter.
Just after two hours later we were dropped in Woodville where we were due to catch the railcar RM31 headed to Napier for the DIY Deco Weekend at 1.20pm.
What to do in Woodville for three hours?
I had been worried all week it would be freezing and raining, but on arrival the sun was shining although it was chilly. We made our way to Cafe 88 for morning tea. Great place, nice food and nice people.
Then we walked up one side of the street and down the other visiting all the secondhand shops along the way.
I also went into Oosh La La (a very nice women's fashion shop) and came out wearing a new coat which was less than half price. Bargain.
Lunchtime, so back to Cafe 88 for lunch, one last look in another secondhand shop and then we walked to the train station.
Suddenly it was bitterly cold as the wind whipped around our feet. The railcar was running a little late.
We were so glad to see it when it arrived, I couldn't wait to get onboard out of the cold.
RM 31 entered service in 1938 and operated a fast Wellington-New Plymouth return service.
The railcar has been restored by Pahiatua Railcar Society Inc and was on its way to Napier for the DIY Deco weekend.
The guards were all volunteer members of the Pahiatua Railcar Society and they were fabulous. Friendly, cheerful and helpful. One in particular, Doug, stopped to talk to us several times and was absolutely brilliant with the little people onboard.
He kept us aware of what was happening, southbound traffic movement and stops ahead.
It was a noisy ride but it was just fantastic.
We sped along at a great rate, stopped to let two freight trains pass, crawled across the Ormondville Viaduct (the viaduct is 280m long and 39m high, it was a bit spooky looking down into the gully below) and went through tunnels.
We stopped for a break in Waipukarau where I met three local mechanics who came to meet Mt Neat (actually I think they were there to see the railcar).
Then we stopped at Opapa for a "photo opportunity". The tiny little railway station there is currently being restored and is looking great.
Then we were off again hurtling toward Napier where there was quite a crowd waiting to have a look at this grand engine.
It was an excellent day out and you may well have seen the railcar running between Napier and Hastings over the weekend. Hopefully you had the opportunity to hop onboard as well.
Footnote: My heart goes out to all the families and friends of those who perished on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. What is this world coming to?