17. 1980 Leaving school, Going nomad and finding my way

I left school, my cooking career turned full time  as the day cook at the Crown Hotel in Napier.  In those days The Crown had a popular seafood restaurant known as the Crown & Anchor and I was responsible for the lunchtime buffet.  Not a huge buffet like you would in todays mega restaurants like Sizzler or Valentines…but a small intimate buffet in a restaurant that only seated 30 or 40 people.   It was there that I learnt to adapt my home cooking skills to a more commercial environment under the sparse supervision of the Chef who did the evening shift.    I recall the odd disaster but predominantly a successful transition to working life and the beginnings of my serious recipe collections.

After a time things changed and the wind blew…I became restless….I enrolled to join the Airforce….then took off to Timaru for a visit with my grandparents before my enlistment date.   I love Timaru and I loved my grandparents so this was an awesome time for me…..away from home…an adult…..freedom….etc.   I based myself in Timaru and spent a bit of time exploring the south Island of New Zealand (Te Wai Pounamu) as a hitch-hiker, meeting amazing people, staying with family friends if there were some nearby or with newly met friends I found along the way.   Yes, I know it was risky, hitch hiking alone, no fixed plans, no cell phone….. but I loved every minute of it.  Some where along State Highway 1 – I decided not to join the Air Force.

I flew back to Napier for my friend Raewyns engagement to John and planned to stay for the Easter MoVan Rally in Hastings – an event that changed my life.

What is a MoVan?   Well, that is a very good question.  MoVans or Motor Caravans were the fore runner to the modern day R.V.   Now you need to understand that these were not professionally built campers – these were old public buses, taken out of service, sold and fitted out by families to meet their needs.   Our wagon – known as Supertramp (1312) – was 30 foot long and had two sets of bunks that converted to seating, a fold out inner sprung double bed / settee, gas cooker with oven, three way fridge, plumbed toilet & shower – all the mod cons for family holidays – and a heap of good memories.  As a family we were members of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) and each Easter  a couple of hundred such MoVans and their people gathered together to socialise, share camping stories and discuss modifications of their vehicles.  (Welcome to all the NZMCA members popping in for a read – more adventures of Supertramp and MoVan people to come.)

Supertramp at a beach near Napier
Supertramp at a beach near Napier by mini Geronimo

Back to the story….  Mum and Dad, Tony &  Barbara Smith, were local NZMCA committee members and part of the team organising the rally so I jumped in and helped with the last week of preparations and took on the role of greeter for vans arriving to the site and keeping a register of attendees.    One such arrival was a furniture removal truck whose driver insisted in parking, contrary to my instructions, with a space for Thistledome (659) to park when they arrived later in the night.   Next morning I did a visit of welcome to the overnight arrivals and met the occupants of Thistledome – the Phipps family.   There were a lot of them – no wonder they had a furniture truck as an extra bedroom!!!   My official duties as greeter being over I was able to relax and socialise – getting to know the eldest of the Phipps boys, Craig,  and making my acquaintance with his family.

NZMCA Easter Rally 1980
NZMCA Easter Rally 1980

After the rally I returned to Timaru, posted lots of letters to Tokoroa and made preparations to return to Napier where I secured a job as Cook at the newly opened Cobb & Co.  My hitch hiking skills came in handy as I spent my days off getting to Tokoroa as fast as possible and back to Napier for my next shift.  When it got to the stage I was in Tokoroa more than Napier – I made the move and was unofficially adopted into the Phipps family.   There were already nine kids so one more didn’t really seem to get noticed and I was able to assist with home baking and looking after the littlies.

I think every teenager needs an external ‘adopted’ family where they can be taught the same lessons that they wont learn at home, where they can run to and be safe, where they can shed their tears and find healing, where that can learn how other families operate and realise home is not so bad either.   I know that I did, and still do, appreciate to open door and open hearts that I found in Tokoroa – I also know that my parents appreciated knowing I was somewhere safe when I wasn’t at home.

Young love was awesome, but faded as young love does so I moved back to Napier yet the links to the Phipps family were strong and have endured over the years.  As I write this Mum and Dad Phipps are here on holiday with us for a couple of weeks, getting to know their great grandbabies and reaffirming our enduring connection.

Many of Mum Phipps recipes feature on this blog…

…and a couple of the girls recipes too…

…and there are a few more still to add.

To Mum and Dad Phipps – and to Teressa, Karen, Craig, Adrian, Blair, Brenda, Damien, Lucinda and Matthew – Thank You for having me as part of your family, for encouraging me, for scolding me, for sharing your lives with me, for keeping me honest and for your love and acceptance  then, now and into the future.  Being part of your family has been a huge influence on the person I am now. Thanks.


Best Australian Blogs 2013 Competition.

The People’s Choice Award is now open. 
Although the entrants needed to be Australian, international readers are also able to vote.

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Click the Big Button in the  right hand sidebar


use this link…. www.surveymonkey.com/s/BAB2013

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Voting will close on Tuesday 30 April 2013 at 5pm.

Thanks for your support

Janey Kyle-Scott


3 thoughts on “17. 1980 Leaving school, Going nomad and finding my way

  1. I often wondered where you were when you decided not to go into the Airforce – good move though in hindsight. The Phipps family were fully accepted as your second family and thankfully friends to us. Amazing how many truckies knew exactly where you were going and where to drop you. Thanks to both Garth and Ruth for their help in keeping our daughter safe and involved with family and friends.


  2. Hey Janey, I have just read through a couple of your incredible years and I think for Theresa and I at high school you were and still are our adopted family as Theresa and Alisha are to my family. Mum and Dad still ask how she is doing and how big her twins are etc…
    I am proud to say you and your family molded me, made me the strong woman i am today, give me insights into humour and relaxed living i had never come across and share out love for each other in unique and quirky ways. I have such good memories of you guys when I was a teenager and I am sure Theresa does too. I cant wait to “pay this forward” if any children/teens need support or an adopted family.
    And yes the name little bit has still stuck lol
    thank you once again


    1. Hi Liz, Thank you so much for your kind words – I really enjoyed being “mum” to the Band kids and know that in as much as I have impacted on your life – you will do the same as a teacher. I know that some of my teachers had a huge impact on me – and they may never know it.
      Your presence in our home & lives will appear in future episodes of my 50 years chronicles – so keep reading 🙂


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