It’s been two and a half years since I last saw Charlie, when we ran across the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan together. I’d forgotten how calm and collected she is, and how soothing her voice is to listen to.
“I would probably say our lockdown has been better than some other people have found it. On a day to day basis, not that much has changed for me. I’m still working and because I work from home anyway, this sort of isolation is not new to me. The biggest change is that we now get weekends.”
Charlie’s husband Niall, is never usually home at weekends, “like, ever.” Working in the sailing industry commentating and coaching, weekends are some of his working days.
“It’s actually been quite nice,” she smiles. They normally have time during the week both working from home while their 15-month old daughter goes to nursery a couple of days a week.
Just before the UK lockdown started, they’d just bought their first home, getting the keys only a few days before a stop was put on house moves. They’d planned on a two week crossover with the rental property they were in, so they could gradually move over themselves without having to use a removal company, however found themselves having to hurriedly move everything, with a toddler in tow as nurseries had started to shut.
“We had to time it all around her naps, and I found myself unloading wardrobes of stuff with her in a carrier on my back,” she laughs.
When the Government suddenly announced that people couldn’t move house, they found themselves with a lot of their belongings still in the previous property.
“Fortunately our old landlords have been AMAZING. They needed to do some work on the house anyway, and aren’t able to re-let just yet, so they let us keep it all there. We’re feeling exceptionally lucky that we managed to get in here when we did, although the first two weeks of lockdown were massively stressful.”
Both Charlie and Niall are self-employed and all of a sudden his work, based around sports and sailing events, just vanished. She says, “we’d just taken on a mortgage and all of a sudden we’re having to think about making sure we can afford it. We’re having to be very mindful of money.”
They live in rural Dorset, Charlie reckoning her experience in the country must be vastly different to those living in cities. They’ve been enjoying the feeling of community without having or needing to get near to anyone else, and with a huge garden in the new house, there’s loads of space.
“There’s plenty of stuff to keep us busy here,” she says, “and we’ve slowly been taking in the local area on weekend walks. We’re very lucky with what we have available to us here.”
Charlie’s overriding feeling is one of immense relief that they bought the house when they did. “I honestly think that if we hadn’t managed to complete on the house now, as first time buyers I can’t see that we would’ve been able to afford a house anytime soon. Say if we’re a couple of years down the line, uncertainty with jobs might eat into savings, neither of us are super young, so we wouldn’t have been able to get a 30-year mortgage, would we have ever been able to own a house? We feel really lucky we were able to get in when we did.”