Experiences of life in Frome, during lockdown
Tell us about what your life looked like pre lockdown.
Working offshore in the oil and gas industry has been my working life for the last 8 years. Last year I set up Retribution Distilling and at the start of this year I started to sell Retribution Gin to bars and restaurants around Frome as well as via an online shop. I was also working on building a rum and whisky distillery on a farm close to Frome.
Family life was great our son (now eldest son) was attending nursery and my partner was working in Bath. We were also expecting the arrival of our second son (who has now arrived mid lockdown and is in great form!).
What were your initial feelings as lockdown was imposed?
Concern is probably the best descriptor as, at the time, we were expecting our second child. Also, my mum was going through cancer treatment so was in the high-risk group.
Both my partner and I were concern about paying the mortgage/bills, especially with a new one on the way, work in the oil and gas industry has dried up as its tricky to travel to Malaysia or south America at the moment. There was also a sense of limbo too as I was in the midst of building the new distillery and starting spirit production, so not being able to carry on with that and just having to stay in was hard to come to terms with.
What is your home set-up/situation
Luckily, we have a garden, but it’s been interesting with an almost three year old and a newborn!
How has lockdown affected the way you live, day to day?
It has totally changed. This was always going to be an interesting time with the arrival of our second son, but let’s say I have a new appreciation for the staff at Bright Stars nursery! The energy level of an almost three year old is epic, and constant! Work-wise I have gone from working five days a week when home and seven days a week when I’m away working at sea, to being a full time parent for almost the last three months. It has been great to spend this time at home although challenging at times.
How has it affected your working life/business?
Distillery wise, it’s had a big impact as selling to bars is no longer possible, all sales are direct to the end customer or to larger online retailers. Oh and I have started making hand sanitiser – I never though I would be doing that when I started distilling!
What have you been doing since lockdown started?
Getting ready for the new arrival, looking after said new arrival, distilling gin, trying to drive the new distillery build forward, and making hand sanitiser. It’s been very busy!
Have you had any epiphanies or light-bulb moments about your life/work since lockdown began?
Over the last eight years I have spent almost five of those years somewhere else in the world, away from home. This time has made me realise how important it is to be with family at home. And the way for me to ensure this happens in the future is to make a success of the distillery, making it a viable business with which to support my family, and also be able to employ local people and give back to the Frome community.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected you personally – your wellbeing, mental health, anxiety levels?
My job for the last eight years has prepared me well for lockdown. I am very used to spending large amounts of time away from my family, and also being in a confined space! The big difference now is having good food, alcohol and a decent internet connection, unlike when I go to work on survey boats on the other side of the world. The biggest impact to my well being has been lack of sleep but this is only going to be temporary, well limited to a few years, and this is not related to the pandemic, this is just family life which is all well worth it.
What positive experiences have you had over the last 6/7 weeks?
The sense of community. A local resident set up a community group and it has really brought the people on our street together.
Also, the great work done by the staff at RUH in bath when we went for the birth of our son during lockdown. I hope once all this is over our government shows the NHS and key workers the respect they deserve.
And have you had any negative experiences?
Nothing that springs to mind
Have you found any new hobbies/habits/interests?
I wish I had the time but I mainly I have been trying to stop drinking in the afternoon!
Do you have any coping mechanisms you’d like to share with readers?
I wish I could say I that have started doing something like meditation or yoga, but the reality of it is a stiff drink after the kids bed time!
Tell us your lockdown recommends for:
Book - Audio books - have been listening to Expeditionary Force on Audible, Podcasts on distilling and reading kids books written by one of our neighbours – it turns out the author of Good Night Tractor lives across the road!
TV – Ozark, American horror story, Piccard
Film – not watched to many films of late
Music - spotify playlists
Food – Take always from 8 Stony Street, My Greek Fat Wraps
When lockdown is over, what are you most looking forward to?
The re opening of nurseries!
Having a pint in a pub followed by a few cocktails
What are your hopes for the future?
That the sense of community continues! I’d also love to see smaller business in the area carry on with what they are doing now, and that local people continue to support them.
For more information on Richard’s business, Retribution Distilling, see: