In the wake of last year and the intensity of Covid-19 one of the things I treasure most is being back home and able to see my family regularly.
At the start of last year, both my sister and myself were overseas. Most of my family were here but were all quite far apart. My sister got back first just before the first lockdown. I was six months behind that, sticking it out in Melbourne. The only one left outside of New Zealand.
In the last few weeks before coming home the reality of being so far away dawned on me. I wasn't just a three-hour flight away, it was three hours and two weeks. In Australia I had that chance to be somewhere new and different and doing cool things but with the opportunity to come home if and when I needed. But when Covid hit, the reality was that I may as well have been on the other side of the world.
I had been working with Deeds Brewing when the pandemic hit. I was made redundant straight away and because of the nature of my contract and as a New Zealand citizen I wasn't entitled to any government support. After several months of bouncing between roles and being made redundant several more times I got a job doing furniture removals.
The irony is that we were surprisingly busy despite the lockdown. Though lots of people were moving into bigger places to accommodate working from home, it turned out that a lot of people were moving to get away from people they'd been locked down with. We soon learned not to ask people if this is a good move or not a good move.
That job came to an end when I stepped off a truck and on to an uneven drain and broke my ankle. Melbourne was giving me the message: it was time to go home.
Leaving Melbourne was the best decision I've ever made. But it was also the hardest, I was gutted and desperate and feeling very sorry myself, but I tried hard to change the narrative telling myself: "I don't think of it as running home to Mum. More like I was fleeing a foreign country under the threat of a global pandemic."
Now that I'm home, the ability to drive up to see my mum and see my grandma on the weekends and to have family dinners during the week has been really impactful in a way it wasn't before. Even in Australia I took it for granted until Covid came around – it sounds cheesy but things like that are cheesy for a reason.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
I love the freedom in New Zealand to leave my house and go hiking, to see my friends, to sit down in a pub and have a beer – despite being back for a year that still carries a lot of meaning. I'm really enjoying the ability to get out in nature. Living in Melbourne it was harder to do that and when you add a 5km radius and curfews during lockdown it was impossible. Last summer I spent more time hiking than the previous four years combined.
After six months of isolation it was a great relief to be back out in nature.
Another thing I'm incredibly grateful for is stability. So many of these things are framed in the wake of Covid – but after multiple redundancies, having a steady job and one where I have creative control over what I'm making is fantastic. To have the job I want, the intensity of work I want, to showcase my work at festivals like Beervana – and being the face for a brand – that's really cool.
Before I started at Abandoned I had a job with Pernod Ricard over the summer down in Blenheim. It was wine, not beer, but a lot of cellaring processes are similar enough. I wanted to see how you work things on such a momentous scale.
I went to Blenheim looking for space, to heal at my own pace and I walked away with an entire lifetime's worth of new friends, which is not something I expected – and it's also where I met my girlfriend Tegan, which definitely lent to the poignancy of the experience.
When you get to do beer festivals and hang out with cool people and go to bars, life is good. When it's your job – it's hard to complain. It's precious to work in a job you actually like, a lot of people don't have that and it makes me feel pretty privileged.
Charlotte Feehan is the new brewer at Abandoned Brewery; she's a trained ciccerone (beer equivalent of a sommelier)
Beervana, August 13, 14, Wellington