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Next stop Tropicana!

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Brian and Lyn in front of part of the intricate model railroad and scenery Brian has built in his basement over 15 years.


For Brian Currie, building his own model railroad in the basement has been a 15-year labour of love which stemmed from a dream he’d harboured for 50 years before that.

And while Brian’s wife Lyn supports her husband’s all-consuming passion 100 per cent, she knew it meant a lifelong tie to their house of 26 years on Commodore Drive, Lynfield.

Well, that was until Ryman Healthcare announced it would be building a new retirement village on the Tropicana estate, right across the road from their house!

“We never thought we’d leave this house because of the trains, and also we run our accounting business from home, so it was just good timing,” says Lyn, who admits she has found the stairs a bit trickier to manage over the last year.

The funny thing is it was Lyn’s sister and brother-in-law who were actively looking in the first place.

“They came to look and we ended up buying!” she laughs.

Now, their plan is to rent out the top part of their house while below deck Brian can continue to pop over the road to tweak his ongoing rail project, a sight which is truly something to behold.

There are 44 metres of 9 millimetre track weaving in and out of five tunnels – or holes! – in the basement walls, with a variety of industrial and rural sceneries and settings as backdrops.

The attention to detail is incredible, with a computerised signal system to control the switches and sound effects and five buildings named after their grandchildren. Even the cows in the fields have cow pats!

It takes nearly five minutes for a train to follow the whole track around.

“I’m sort of a big kid – Peter Pan is theoretically alive and well!” says Brian. “I would have loved to have been a professional Lego maker if that job had existed back then!”

While he obviously loves trains, he admits they can get frustrating - if a little dust gets on the track it can cause a huge pile-up.

“There’s a real buzz in throwing the electrics into it because if that fails everything stops. But the scenery gives me the most pleasure, although being colour-blind created a challenge or two!”

And Lyn has nothing but admiration for Brian’s hobby.

“He’s done it all himself, it’s amazing really. He started off with a few rails on a board and it just grew from there.”

She did have to draw the line when Brian wanted to expand out into the middle of the laundry area however.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get through carrying a laundry basket!” she says.

Instead, Lyn suggested an alternative route involving a new hole in the wall with the compromise solution involving a visit to the jewellers.

With their move set for just a few months’ time, the couple has now started on the downsizing process – not an easy task after 26 years in their current home.

Says Lyn: “I’m looking forward to getting rid of the clutter and having a nice fresh start.”

Adds Brian: “I’m looking forward to the new of it and to the community side of it too.”

With four children between them, the nearest being in Muriwai, Brian and Lyn say their move to Ryman has been welcomed by their family.

“This way they don’t have to worry about us,” says Lyn. “And we wouldn’t want to put upon them anyway.”

After her daughter and son-in-law had a near-miss motorbike accident last year, and with Brian losing a son 10 years ago, the couple are fully focused on living in the present and making the most of life.

“Instead of waiting until one of us falls down the stairs and you’re desperate and can’t find a place we decided to act now,” says Lyn.

“You just don’t know what’s around the corner so we like to really live each day.”

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