In May, when I decided to come back to the UK for a few months to deal with my gynaecological issues, our biggest concern was how much this sudden and unexpected change of plan was going to cost. We live frugally, on a tight budget, and don’t really have any provision for a rainy day.
Summer flights booked at short notice are expensive and we had to figure out how to keep Carina safe and secure while we were away. In addition, life in the UK is far more expensive than life at anchor on the Rio Guadiana. So we worried about how eating into our meagre savings would jeopardise our medium-term plans.
We planned for the girls and me to come to the UK first, and for Julian to remain aboard Carina. Then, once I’d had some initial tests and discussions with my GP, and I knew how long I’d be detained in the UK, Julian would make a decision about whether to join us. If we were going to be in the UK for a few months, and Julian joined us, then we decided that he should look for a job. All we wanted out of a job was to break even on our summer expenses – the cost of our flights, the cost of putting Carina into storage, and the excess costs of living in the UK.
I quickly realised that I was going to be back in the UK at least until mid-August, so Julian booked a flight from Portugal to England in early June. He tied Carina to a mooring buoy on the river and paid a month’s mooring fees in advance with a promise to pay for additional months as necessary. To our great relief, the cost of mooring was far less than we had anticipated, so that was one financial weight lifted from our shoulders.
On his first day back in the UK Julian began job hunting. He updated his CV, went to a recruitment agency, and began searching online for jobs in the area. Neither of us has ever had difficulties finding work when we want it, so we were confident there was a job out there. Within two weeks Julian had found a temporary full-time job, earning exactly what we need to cancel out our summer costs.
The girls are thrilled with Daddy’s new job. You see, he’s working at Warwick Castle, surrounded by knights and princesses and birds of prey and sword fights and towers and dungeons.
Julian’s pretty thrilled with his job too. He works as part of the grounds crew, picking litter, driving a ‘gator’, keeping the place tidy, answering questions, helping people out. In the corporate-speak that fills his training booklets, his is a ‘guest-facing’ role. He wears a uniform that makes him look a bit like a park ranger. He works five days a week, with two days off mid-week. He’s outside all day long, keeping the grounds spick and span around the birds of prey display, the Horrible Histories theatre, the sword fights, and all the other activities. If he finds a missing child, he has to seek out a princess and hand the child over! He walks miles every day, up and down the mounds and battlements, all over the grounds. As an experiment, he wore a pedometer to work one day earlier this week and clocked nearly 23,000 steps!
Slowly, my health issues are getting sorted and we’re hoping soon we’ll be ready to fly home to Carina. But in the meantime, we have all fallen into a routine that revolves around Julian’s work day and the round of sporting, art and cultural activities the girls and I attend every week. It’s nice to know that our financial resources aren’t diminishing. And it’s nice to know that Julian has such a fun, out-of-doors, active and entertaining summer job.