The last few months have been hard on everyone. The coronavirus lockdown has meant the nation is getting used to a new 'normal' way of living. For Ayda Field, this means facing the reality that her mother, Gwen, cannot live with her following her cancer diagnosis shortly before COVID-19 hit.
Gwen had to move out of the family home to limit her exposure to anyone who could be a potential carrier of the virus – and it's something the whole family are struggling with. But while Ayda misses the daily contact with her mother, she is relishing spending more time with her husband Robbie Williams and their four children Teddy, seven, Charlie, five, Coco, one, and baby Beau.
She's even managed to launch a new podcast, Postcards From the Edge. As she talks with HELLO! about her experiences of life during a global pandemic, Ayda has shared an intimate peek into her private camera roll sharing some of her favourite lockdown photos.
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Ayda Field, Robbie Williams and their children Teddy and Charlie (Image: Ayda Field)
"We're very, very lucky because we've got a really big property and on the back of our land is kind of this mini-hike. During quarantine it was a real safe haven, on so many different levels because there was nobody there so it felt safe to go and explore with the kids – we'd just hike up the hill, look out at the city and it was really nice.
"This was a really fun moment. It was us with Rob after not seeing him for almost a month. It was a celebratory time in the midst of a weird time, like holding onto what really matters. It was so nice being together as a family and breathing fresh air. We got so excited by that picture that we cleared some dirt on our land and we created a meditation trail.
"One of the really cool things that's happened to us as a family is that we've all got into meditating. Teddy will now go, 'Hey let's meditate.' We regularly go on the trail, whether it's with the kids or after we tuck them in at night. Sometimes we have an off day, it's weird in quarantine; there are some days you feel positive and other days where you just have this indiscernible heaviness. So when Rob and I are feeling that we go, 'Ok, let's go to the meditation trail.' We'll play one of the guided meditations and we'll just sit up there and that just washes everything away and it just feels better."
Ayda and Robbie welcomed baby Beau via surrogate (Image: Ayda Field)
Ayda and Robbie welcomed their fourth child, Beau, via surrogate in February. But it was a bittersweet moment because it was the first time Ayda's mother, Gwen, had not been present at the birth of one of her grandchildren. Gwen, who suffers from Parkinson's and Lupus, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Cervical Cancer in January. "It was a very bizarre time," Ayda said. "I knew I was welcoming another child via surrogate so it was this high and low mixture. (Gwen) couldn't be there for the birth because she had to go straight into chemo and that was very sad for me. She's been there for the birth of all of my children whether it be via me or via surrogate, she's been there."
During lockdown, Ayda has noticed more than ever the importance of staying active – something she's very happy has rubbed off on daughter Teddy. "I think for Rob and for myself, for mental health, I just think it's so important, especially in quarantine to have that outlet.
"My daughter, I'm so impressed, for a couple of years now I've tried to get them to go on walks with me and we'll get about five minutes in and they'll go, 'I can't do it,' and I feel like mean mum going, 'Come on, you can do it.' But in quarantine, my daughter decided that she wanted to go on a hike every morning before school. So she completely, self-motivated, she likes to be at the top of the mountain and have peanut butter toast, and take a deep breath before she starts her day. I just felt like, as a parent, it was so rewarding to give her that gift of exercise and nature and well-being and self-care.
Ayda and Robbie have also been keeping their kids entertained with "lots of arts and crafts", she revealed during an episode of (Staying) At Home With the Williamses. "Charlie in particular loves to paint and draw. Teddy likes dancing and making up songs, so we have a piano in the playroom and she just plays and makes up songs and you sometimes sing with her. Coco we throw in a playpen that's in the playroom and we just let her smash stuff. Beau, pretty much just sleeps."
Ayda's first outing was to a poppy field (Image: Ayda Field)
"This was taken in a poppy field. It was the only time we left the house and my friend told me about this poppy field that was off the beaten track that nobody was at. I remember being really nervous because we were driving to this place and I saw people on the street and I thought, 'I'm not going to stop if there are people.' Then we went off this dirt path, up this hillside and there was nobody there. We just sat and had a picnic with the kids. It was the only time we went outside of our four walls which felt really awesome, and it was nice to be breathing fresh air."
Ayda and Robbie host movie nights in their garden (Image: Ayda FIeld)
"We bought this house for the garden and never have I been happier because it has been our absolute saving grace. We have a veggie patch and we grow veggies. When the lockdown happened it was really hard for us to get fresh vegetables and avocados and even eggs so I thought, 'I want to expand on this and be in a position where we have chickens to lay eggs and we grow more vegetables.' All the citrus we eat is grown on our land. The other day we went picking at our orange and lemon trees and we picked fruit and we made ice lollies. We've always picked our own fruit but I have to say the softer side of quarantine is really enjoying those moments with the kids."
Picking fruit and veg isn't the only pastimes Ayda and her family use their expansive garden for. She added: "We like to have movie nights in the garden with the kids - we have a removable screen so we put it outside, and we have couches and pillows. This was my birthday so we made it look really nice and we had a movie night. We have even camped in our garden. We have a tent and we pitched it up when the weather was nice and we did a staycation. We got a fire pit and we did smores and we slept in the tent.
SEE: Inside Robbie Williams and Ayda Field's three luxurious homes in LA, London and Malibu
"We're so blessed. I just think, 'Let's use it to the fullest and love every tree and flower and hillside.' Let's be out there. Coco runs around, we splash in the pool, we chase each other. It's pretty awesome. Rob and I still pinch ourselves, we look out at it and think, 'Wow, we get to live here.' It's almost like we're squatting in someone else's home. At least we really enjoy it. We're not the kind of people who don't use it at all. We love this garden."
Ayda made the difficult choice to move Gwen out of her home (Image: Ayda Field)
But these highs have had one very big low which came hand in hand: Ayda was forced to make the difficult decision to move her mum Gwen (who played a part in her new podcast, Postcards from the Edge, which was recorded before the pandemic hit) out of her home over COVID-19 fears.
"We're used to seeing each other every day and I had to make the tough decision, it was a really tough decision, to move her out of my house. My kids didn't understand why they couldn't see Nana Gwen, and even when she comes to visit in the garden I won't let them get close, they have to wear masks, they can't touch her, the dogs can't run-up.
"It's very weird because when you know something could just take your mother out you do everything you can, so I had to move her out. She lives with her boyfriend and I have food delivered to her and I try to keep her as safe as I possibly can but you can only do so much. I just love that my mum is in a happy relationship and she's enjoying being in love, she's really carved out a positive place in what is a very dark situation and I look up to her for that.
"I don't know how this story ends with my mum. I pray that she beats cancer and then we can face Parkinson's and Lupus and I can somehow, miraculously keep her on this planet with me for another 15 years. COVID is just awful because it's this invisible thing that could just take her out in a second, there's no way she'd be able to withstand that. But she's so brave and so positive and she supersedes my expectations on handling this. But not knowing how this story ends is very scary."
Listen to Ayda's new podcast, Postcards from the Edge, on acast here. You can also listen to season two of Robbie and Ayda's podcast, (Staying) at Home with the Williamses, on Spotify here.
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