MEET MY FRIEND: NATASHA DEAN

I met Tash through our mutual friend Hermina as we happened to be solo travelling in Australia at the same time.

When I asked Hermina what Tash was like, she replied, “She’s really nice and chilled. Oh, and she really likes horses.”

With that sound character reference in mind, we met up at a bar in Melbourne where the music was far too cool for us, so I was ecstatic to find that she was a fellow fan of throwing shapes to the likes of Tay Tay and Rihanna. We took our first day trip together to Phillip Island and had a great time so decided to travel up the East Coast of Australia together for a month.

Now, it’s a big commitment to spend 24/7 for the next 30 days with someone that you’ve just met, based on one mutual friend, but we just went with it.

I honestly LOVED travelling with Tash – she’s the perfect travel companion and I hope that we can go on more travels together in the future!

She’s equal parts funny, chilled and organised: happy to explore as well as chilling at the beach; keen to eat anywhere as well as being an excellent cooking partner (we truly mastered the spag bol) and she was always up for being in and taking photos – I’m pretty sure she has a sexy collection of me sleeping on long journeys…

I loved our hikes, swims, nights out, coffee shop breaks, kayaking and even the long coach journeys. My time in Australia wouldn’t have been half as fun without her and I don’t think that I’d have been brave enough to achieve half as much – I mean, there’s no way I could have navigated my way around the Everglades on a kayak without her and that was one of my favourite moments!

At the end of the month, Tash went to get her diving qualification in the Great Barrier Reef while I headed back to Melbourne to spend some time with my cousins. But nothing could keep me away, so we met up in New Zealand for another 3 weeks of travelling fun!

Tash, thank you so much for being part of one of the best months of my life and more so, thank you for agreeing to spend so much time with me despite Hermina having described me as ‘crazy’ before we met.

Hi Tash, tell us a little about yourself!

I think I can probably be summed up by my love of three things: animals, travel and good food. I grew up on the Isle of Man surrounded by horses and dogs (my two favourite animals), and now I work in Surrey as a teacher. I love my job and I also love the fact it gives me long holidays in which I can travel, try new restaurants or food markets and spend time outdoors.

In these unprecedented times, how are you doing and what are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

I thought I was coping quite well to start with. I was perfectly happy to embrace the opportunity to put my feet up, read a book, binge watch TV and do some baking. But I have to say by now (Day 66), I have really started to tire of those relaxing activities and get itchy feet! Still, I’m going out on lots of runs and cycles to try and keep myself busy and trying to plan ahead for better times!

What are you most looking forward to doing when freedom is upon us again?

Traveling. I absolutely love exploring new places and we had some amazing holidays planned in the UK and abroad, which unfortunately have been cancelled due to lockdown. So, without a doubt, the thing I am looking forward to most is a holiday in a place I’ve never been to before where I can spend all day outside exploring.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I don’t think it will surprise you to hear that I wanted to be a professional horse rider. To say I was obsessed with horses growing up would be putting it mildly! Most days I dreamed of having about 20 horses and being a wildly successful show jumper. My other (slightly more realistic) dream though was to be a primary school teacher. When I wasn’t pretending to be a horse, I spent a lot of time teaching my teddy bears maths! While the dream to be a professional horse rider didn’t come true, I am pleased to say that I did become a teacher (but for secondary not primary school children – it turns out toddlers are harder to control than stuffed animals!).

If money was no object, what would you do all day?

Travel in a new country (Canada perhaps) and fill the day with activities, food and drink.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

Teleportation. As much as I love traveling sometimes the faff of airport security and the inevitability of delayed flights gets to me. I would love to be able to just arrive in a place and get going (that being said, I would really miss duty free!)

Do you collect anything?

Just stamps in my passport!

What is your proudest achievement?

I don’t know if you would call this an achievement as such, but I think I am most proud of quitting the job I secured after my masters (before my first day in fact) and deciding to go traveling for a year. The decision wasn’t an easy one, but it quite literally changed my life – I met the most amazing people (including yours truly), saw incredible places and made some of the best memories of my life.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be in 5 years’ time and I love that. I currently live in Woking with my boyfriend, but we are saving up to move abroad and teach for a few years. We haven’t decided where we’ll go yet but we are keeping all doors open and could end up anywhere. Although it can be daunting, I think it’s best not to have the future all planned out but just to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way and see where it takes you.

If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

I don’t think there would be anything that I would change. That’s definitely not to say I’ve done everything perfectly up until now…far from it in fact! I just think that all the experiences in our lives, the good ones, the bad ones, even the tiny ones, somehow impact who we become. They all teach us something or push us towards a certain path and I wouldn’t want to change the path I’m on now.

What’s the best gift you’ve been given?

Probably my dog Spice. My parents gave her to me when I was 12 and I absolutely adored her. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago but for the 8 years that we had her she was my pride and joy.

Which celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a hot chocolate?

I’m not someone who reads much about celebrities or takes any interest in their lives but I think if I had the chance I’d like to meet Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Having watched and loved Fleabag I think that she seems like such a breath of fresh air compared to most people. She doesn’t care about saying something outrageous and seems so confident and funny. I’d love to hear her life story.

What’s the silliest argument you’ve ever been in?

When I was about 6 I got into a very heated argument with my older brother over which one of us owned this tiny pink teddy bear. My dad interfered and decided that it belonged to my brother (who promptly drowned the teddy bear in the swimming pool). I thought my dad was clearly showing favouritism towards my brother (because seriously, why would he own a pink teddy bear?) and I got so angry that it brought on 3-hour nosebleed. All in all, not a great day.

What is your earliest memory?

I generally really struggle to remember my early childhood (sorry mum and dad!) but I think my earliest memory was the day my little brother was born. I remember my nanny picking me and my elder brother up from school and taking us to the hospital to meet him. We both had presents for him and despite only being a few hours old he somehow had presents for us too!

If I were to come round to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Well I know how much you love your food, so I’d be very nervous about messing it up…but I’d probably go for fresh tuna steak with quinoa and mango (I say ‘I’ but the truth is Dan would probably take charge!) And for dessert I’d make you my all-time favourite: my mum’s tiramisu.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

Probably iguana – I was staying with a host family in Nicaragua and one day I came back from volunteering to find a iguana with all of its limbs tied together lying dead in the sink. To say I was shocked and a little bit horrified would be an understatement! Still, I was happy to try anything that wasn’t fried rice and cheese at that point!

What would be your ‘death row meal’?

I’ve been asked this question a few times, but I can still never make my mind up! I think I would have to say scallops and chorizo to start, a sausage and summer vegetable tray bake with Yorkshire puddings for main, and my mum’s tiramisu for dessert. That probably sounds like a ridiculous combination, but it’s got almost all of my favourite foods in!

If you were the ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would introduce?

Three-day weekend – no question!

Do you live by any piece of advice or motto?

I have to say I’ve never considered that I do (you know I’m not one for cheesy slogans). But I’d like to think that I live a life of no regrets. That’s what I’m aiming for at least.

What is your biggest fear?

Not making the most of life – I would hate to look back and wish I’d done more.

Ideally, how would you like to spend your birthday this year?

I love spending my birthday with my friends. It’s become a bit of a tradition to go for brunch with a big group of friends in London and then have a bit of fun at crazy golf, an escape room or something similar. Sometimes my friends laugh that I do literally the same thing every year but quite frankly I get cocktails, great food and lots of laughs with my favourite people – I wouldn’t want to spend my birthday any other way!

What’s the most interesting thing that you can see out of your window right now?

A man playing darts in his garden #lockdownlife

What’s your most prized possession and why?

The ring that my grandparents gave me for my 18th birthday. It’s been in my family for generations and I hope to be able to pass it on one day.

What makes you angry/biggest pet peeves?

Rudeness. I can’t stand people who are rude to those around them, especially if they are visiting a new place. I would say tourists who are rude to locals or act as if they are above the locals in any way is what makes me angriest.

A genie gives you three wishes: what are they?

To speak another language fluently (I realise this is something I could make happen myself but I’ve never quite succeeded); a horse (and preferably having all of its expenses paid off too!); and for COVID-19 to disappear and lockdown to end before summer!

What personality traits do you share with your relatives?

Embarrassingly I share my concentration face with my dad. We both have the very unflattering habit of sticking our jaw out at an angle when we are concentrating hard. I don’t think this is Dan’s favourite thing about me…

Which of your personality traits are you most proud of and why?

I’m quite an emotionally stable person, in that I don’t really have mood swings or snap at anyone. I find mood swings exhausting and I can’t stand people who take their anger out on others so I’m glad that I don’t do either of those things.

Do you have any unique habits?

I’ve had to turn to Dan for the answer to this question (a brutally honest moment in our relationship) and apparently, I always stand with one leg out as if I’m posing for a photo, and I lick my lips too much. It’s amazing he puts up with me really!

What’s the first thing you look for in a partner and/or friend?

Honesty and a good sense of humour. There are loads of other traits that I admire in people but if I can have a good laugh with someone and know that they’ll always tell me the truth then I’d find it hard not to like them.

What is your favourite memory of ours?

Sun-bathing and taking photos in the shallow waters of the Whitsunday Islands. Such a beautiful place, and as you can see, some very beautiful photos 😛

Share your favourite photo of us 😀

Favourites

Colour: Blue

Animal: Horse

Season: Spring

TV series: Friends or Gavin & Stacey

Film: The Parent Trap (a childhood favourite)

Book: The Time of the Hero

Drink: Gin and tonic (closely followed by a good cup of tea!)

Food: My mum’s tiramisu

Type of cuisine: Spanish tapas

Subject at school: Biology

Country that you’ve visited: Colombia

Unfortunately Tash doesn’t have Instagram or Twitter (I know, quite the enigma) so you’ll have to make do with this for your Natasha Dean fix!

xxx

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