Watercolour riches

‘I was like, let’s just stay home forever,’ Clare said in her wonderful Northern Irish accent, laughing at the screen when I asked her how she found lockdown. ‘I found it pretty good. I’m really introverted, so the opportunity to stay at home in my own company, for an unknown amount of time, just seemed brilliant. I felt safe here, confident that Jacinda was in control of the situation compared to other countries and I didn’t feel like I needed to worry about the state of New Zealand.’

During the Level 4 lockdown, Clare enjoyed working at home alongside her husband Geoff until he went back to work when New Zealand moved down the alert levels. ‘Once he went back it wasn’t quite as fun anymore, because there was nobody to talk to, so it did start to get a bit boring then.’

Clare enjoyed how everything slowed down. She said: ‘Even the little things like being able to make the bed up properly; usually I just fling it up and I’m out the door. I was able to start doing some drawing and watercolour painting, which I really enjoyed. I’d do that in an evening rather than watch TV, because I’d been at a screen all day and I wanted to do something a bit different. It was a whole slower pace of life, and as we came down through the alert levels it was really noticeable how everything started to ramp up again.’

She wants to carry on with the painting, and has signed up to the local library for watercolour tutorial books as well as a beginners Facebook group. She said: ‘I want to make more of an effort at it, and make it a hobby. I’ve found it hard as we’ve gone back through the levels though, because I have less time now. Although we’re more flexible with work I don’t have so much free time because I have time spent travelling and doing chores that I can’t just do during the day because I’m not at home.’

Clare rests her head on her hand and sighs. It’s a bemused sigh, rather than a resigned sigh. ‘It’s such a unique experience. It’s global, which just seems so crazy to me. It’s weird to think that kids will be studying this time in school and writing essays on it in years to come. Imagine all the stuff that’s going to come out of it. It’s just crazy.’

‘Lockdown has made me realise just how rich we are, and I don’t mean we’ve got all this money or whatever, I mean there’s people who didn’t have a home to stay in. We have a lovely home that’s comfortable, we enjoy each others company, we still have jobs and it hit home for me how grateful we need to be for that.’

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