3. 1966 Travel abroad and improvising meals

Had to do a bit or research regarding the year I turned three mainly because I don’t really remember it much (at all).  Quick check with Mum & Dad revealed they don’t really remember it either however there was a memorable holiday when I was still a baby so will recount that here.

Dads parents came to stay in Napier and took my sister Anne-Louise back to Timaru with them on the plane -a DC8 if dad remembers correctly. Side-note:  Anne-Louise screamed all the way across the tarmac and could still be heard screaming above the engines – guess I wasn’t the only clingy cry baby in the family “grin”.      Mum, Dad, Dee (Mums Dad) and I followed in the Ford Prefect – not exactly the one in the picture… but one similar.

 FORD Prefect

For those that don’t know – Napier is on the North Island of New Zealand and Timaru on the South with the trip between being a days drive on the North Island to Wellington, eight hours on a ship to Lyttleton (Christchurch) then another couple of hours to Timaru in the car.  Not a trip for the faint hearted if you factor in unsealed roads and mountain ranges to cross in a car that was great in its day but fairly primitive compared with modern cars.

We then carried on down the South Island to Bluff where the worlds oysters come from, although I was to young to have any on that trip.  Somewhere there is a picture of me taken at this sign.

File:Bluff signpost.jpg

Apart from the logistics of the travel,  our accommodation and meals were also noteworthy.  We were camping – without a caravan, motorhome or even a tent!!!!  Our Accommodation was a large sheet of black plastic or Polythene that was rigged up between the car, a fence or tree and some ropes to make a bivouac or temporary shelter for the adults thankfully I got to sleep in the luxury of the cars back seat.

Our meals were yet another story of improvisation.  Dad was working for a company that did maintenance at Watties cannery near Napier.   Watties put almost anything into cans (and still make the worlds best tomato sauce) and as staff Dad was able to obtain a carton of assorted unlabelled cans of food that were accompanied by an out of date listing of the codes stamped onto the cans.   Each meal was made up of a ‘three-can guess what is for dinner’….will it be baked beans, beetroot and peaches? or apricots, tomatoes and peas? or… well you get the idea.   The stories of these meals were still being told in my teen years.

Perhaps this holiday is where I got my love of road trips and improvising in the kitchen both of which still feature in my life now.  Although we have done our fair share of camping in tents as I grew up and when my children were young,  I still prefer the luxury of a bed  – not the back seat of a car for me – a motel or hotel will be just fine thanks.


One thought on “3. 1966 Travel abroad and improvising meals

  1. You were about 6-10 weeks old when we did this trip and were still being breastfed which is why Nana couldn’t take you on the plane with her. We had a large basin that we used as your bath, and we had another double skinned basin – shaped like a sink, with a pump on it that stored our fresh drinking water and we did the dishes in the sink. You slept in your cane crib on the back seat. I will try to find the photo we took of you down at that signpost looking south over towards Stewart Island. That was the closest I ever got to Stewart Island. We used a small Primus for light in the evenings after we had cooked the meal on its gas ring -both light and gas ring were detachable from the bottle of Primus gas. We had several trips using Sir James Wattie’s unlabeled cans – exciting meals when we forgot to bring the code list or the cans had been at the end or beginning of a new run of labeling and been discarded because they had the wrong numbers on them!


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