In another life, around about now, Peta Mathias would be on her way back from northern India, after leading one of her famous culinary tours.
This ought to have been the end of another busy season, guiding her clients around places she loves – Puglia in southern Italy, the Basque region of Spain, Marrakesh – having spent the rest of the European summer in her beautiful house in Uzès, France.
“It was going to be one of my best years ever,” says Peta, wistfully. “All my tours were full, my cooking school had lots of bookings, my house rentals in Uzès were going well. Then suddenly it was all gone, literally overnight.”
Celebrity foodie Peta has been hosting her culinary adventures since 2005. It is how she manages to combine her natural inclination to be a gypsy with the need to earn a living. Peta’s philosophy is that if you want to be happy in life, then you need to design a job that is something you really want to do anyway. “It’s worked for me so far,” she says.
But then 2020 came along, with the COVID-19 pandemic making international travel impossible, and Peta was forced to cancel all her tour bookings and pretty much every plan for the foreseeable future. Like many of us, she was in a situation she’d never imagined.
“I’m safe here in New Zealand and I’m grateful for that now I’m getting over the shock of what’s happened and losing most of my income,” she says. “I’m starting to look towards a different future because it may be some time before things are back to normal. While I’m not reinventing myself exactly, I do need to move down some different avenues. Pivot – that’s the new word.”
The pivoting started in lockdown. Peta spent those weeks alone in Auckland, trying to come to terms with what had happened. Neighbours and friends were supportive, but in the end, it was her own resilience that saw her through.
“I did get quite down in the dumps and anxious in lockdown,” she admits. “I felt sorry for myself for a while. But I’ve been knocked down in life before and stood back up again, so I just had to do it once more.”
After level 4 was announced, Peta dashed out to buy a tripod so she could film herself for her YouTube channel and dumps and anxious in lockdown,” she admits. “I felt sorry for myself for a while. But I’ve been knocked down in life before and stood back up again, so I just had to do it once more.”
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