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Philipa Cameron's Transition from Teacher to Rural Life: A Journey and Reflection with What's for Smoko


This month, we caught up with the wonderful Philippa Cameron, mother, farmer and cookbook creator. As passionate about wool and natural fibres as we are, we discussed all things rural life, how she finds a balance between wearing all her hats and if she has any more of her handy and delicious cookbooks on the horizon.

Before you launched What’s for Smoko you were a teacher, tell us a bit about your journey to rural life and what it has come to mean to you now.

I grew up in the rural town of Herbert in North Otago. It was once a bustling wee community that boasted a shop, garage, school, gift store and surrounding area of farmers and forestry. Even though we lived on just seven acres (a huge comparison to the 100,000 acres my children are growing up on), we lived a very rural upbringing. I enjoyed all things outdoors and as I grew up I found myself gravitating towards friends who held the same values and life experience as I did. Tertiary holidays were filled with tailing and wool handling jobs, and I even took a break from teaching to cook on a large grain farm in Western Australia in my early twenties. There is something quite special about those who grew up with a respect and appreciation for the land that they are surrounded by. Rural people have great communication skills, are hospitable, are resourceful, are passionate about their roles, and seem to be genuinely 'good buggers'.



We love the glimpses of life on the farm you give to your followers, walk us through a typical day in your life

A typical day in my life would begin before the sun. I like to cook before the children wake and then I can focus on hustling them out the door to the bus without worrying about a batch of baking in the oven. If we are weaning or tailing that day would begin at 4:30. I turn the oven on with half-shut eyes and let it heat up while I wash my face and try and wake up. Once the smoko is prepared I tackle emails and messages and wait for the girl's alarm to go off at 6:50. They catch the bus at 8 am and then I will finish the flask for smoko and get on the road to deliver it (if it is a packed lunch or if they are quite far away, then they would have picked it up at 5:30 on the way down the drive). I then prioritise Instagram content and housework, vegetable garden, as well as some fitness. The children return from school and we do it all in reverse (unpack school bags, unpack smoko bags, wash up and cook tea). Then once everyone goes to bed I do one last sweep over the house. I like to put the 'house to bed' too and was up to start without any chores from the day before.



At Perriam our purpose is to encourage more people to embrace wool and natural fibres. What does wool mean to you?

Wool is so underrated and I will bore anyone willing to listen to me, with my thoughts on how cool I think wool is. The fact that outside my kitchen window right now there are clever creatures growing a wonder fibre that not only is sustainable, odour resistant, hyper allergic, soft to skin, warming, and cooling; but is world renowned! Our little country at the bottom of the Pacific is producing merino wool that is being worn on the streets of Milan and New York, but also on the slopes of Colorado and France. It means the future to me. I detest any man-made fibre, not just because we are wool growers, but because every synthetic fibre ever created will stay on this earth forever, and that scares me.



What is your favourite recipe for an afternoon pick-me-up treat?

You can never go wrong with a cheese toastie! It doesn't matter if you call it a mouse trap or a toastie, it is the perfect afternoon snack. Easy to whip up under the grill and it is no hassle to make different variations for the different tastebuds. As long as there is a good base of sauce or relish and a flavoursome cheese - it's delicious. You can also make them stock standard for the family, or fancy them up for when you have guests.

Between being a Mum, life on the farm and cooking, how do you take the time for yourself?

I have the most amazing and supportive husband. We treat each other like equals. He values my role and I value his. So finding time for myself is valued, but it gets tricky with kids' after-school commitments. I'm an active relaxer so I like to squeeze a walk in after the bus drop-off or a quick workout in the garage. We like to ski and have time on the lake as a family. So finding time as an individual doesn't happen as often maybe as you would like, but I live sharing my interests with the kids too. Maybe getting to town to have a hair or beauty appointment should have more priority, but maybe when the kids learn to drive I'll find some more hours in the day.



Last year you published your second cookbook ‘ Winter Warmers’ what’s on the horizon for 2024.

Not another book just yet, but a few ideas that I need to get out of my head and onto paper. I am hoping to stumble across the right person who can help sort the jumble and help me to set them in motion.


Philippa Wears:

The Merino Retreat Jersey

The Classic Merino Crew Jersey

Use coupon code WELCOME10 for 10% off your first order.


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