“I’d probably say my lockdown experience is really boring,” Natalie laughs.
We’ve not spoken in nearly five years, bonded by an unforgettable induction experience when we both started a new job on the same day.
Her voice and accent is exactly the same as someone I know here in Christchurch, and which is strange. I’m not sure where it’s from, apart from that it’s ‘down south’ from us English (mid)northerners.
“We moved house at the beginning of lockdown and ever since then I’ve just been getting drunk, to cope, basically,” she laughs, telling me it’s killing her not being able to see people. “I’m such a social person, and I massively miss seeing people. So I started doing cocktail classes on Instagram, either live or pre-recorded.”
People get involved by sending Nat requests, she gets all the ingredients and films herself making them. She’s enjoyed doing it because it’s quite the distraction; she finds the days during lockdown long. Working from home, she finds working and living in the same house really tough.
“When it gets to the evening, I think ‘oh great, I get to sit in the front room now, of a house I’ve been in all day’ and I find that really hard, so it’s one of the reasons I started doing cocktails. Although I haven’t done one for a while, my Mum kept messaging me telling me I was going to get liver failure from all the cocktails I was making and drinking so I thought I’d better cut down,” she pauses for a moment, “I might start them up again.”
She’s always liked making cocktails and experimenting with different flavours, and adds a twist of humour to her videos.
“I know this situation is really hard for everyone so I wanted to spread some joy and happiness to people, and just make sure everyone’s alright. So if it was just one cocktail an evening, and they were getting a laugh out of it, then I felt I was bringing a bit of entertainment and fun into their lives.”
Natalie feels very lucky to still have a job and be working, grateful for the routine it gives her. Although she laughs when she tells me she’s never seen her husband so much, because ever since they got together she’s had a job that involves travel. “I’m used to going away on a Monday and coming back towards the end of the week, and it’s very weird to be with someone 24/7 when it’s not how you’re used to living. Not that I mean it in a horrible way, it’s just strange; it’s never been the relationship we’ve had.“
She tells me that Pete has been her rock, and she’s really valued the support he’s given her; from the emotional side of listening when she’s struggling, giving her space to go-in her words-‘batshit’ and giving her a cuddle when she needs it, to the more practical side of cooking, baking and providing many cups of tea. Because they don’t spend a lot of time together, she tells me maybe she hasn’t appreciated him as much as she should, and that she’s reminded of what a good, kind man he is.
“I’ve fallen in love with him again,” she says with a shy smile.
I ask her then, how does she feel about going back to work in a more ‘normal’ sense and back to being away? A smile spreads across her face, “I can’t wait! Although, I always thought that our relationship worked so well because I was always away, but what I’ve learnt is that I can do a job where I didn’t have to travel, and we would be absolutely fine.”
She smiles again.
“The little things are the big things now.”