So we drift on. Days, weeks, months of waiting, hanging around, hoping we will soon get home to Carina. It’s two and a half months since we left the Rio Guadiana and flew back to the UK. I knew it could be three months or more. There are days when I accept that and days when I am so impatient I want to book the next flight back to southern Portugal and to hell with sorting out my health. I see Carina sitting there, on her mooring, the lush green river bank still alive with birdsong, the fields and hills now turned from green to brown, baked by the hot Algarve sun. I see the river rushing past, downriver upriver downriver as the tide twenty miles downstream ebbs and flows, never stopping, racing, carrying tree trunks and branches and dead fish, upriver downriver upriver. I hope Carina is ok. I worry about infestations of insects, leaks, damage from huge trees carried on the current. For two months we have not been there to take care of her, to look after her, to fix her minor ailments.
I don’t know when we will get home. A gynaecologist’s consultation two weeks ago confirmed that I need to have a hysterectomy. He was a kind, funny and reassuring man, and he hoped I wouldn’t be on a waiting list for more than six weeks. In the appointments room I said I would be able to come in at short notice, if there’s a cancellation. Otherwise I’ll be informed of my operation date a month in advance. I woke up on Monday morning with the conviction that this is the week they will contact me with an operation date.
And after the operation there’s a six-week recovery period. It all seems like a long long time before we get home to Carina. I try to convince myself that this is a minor blip. In six months from now we will look back on this time as having been an opportunity to get my health sorted out, for the girls to spend time with their grandparents, and to get away from the brutal summer heat of southern Europe. When there’s January frost on Carina’s deck we’ll be longing for the solid walls and instant heating of a house in the Midlands.
While we wait we keep busy. Julian works 40 hours a week at Warwick Castle, and I keep the girls occupied with swimming, running club, home education groups, art club, summer festivals, visits to museums and galleries and libraries. We’re catching up with family and friends and we’re enjoying the companionship of the girls’ grandparents.
But home is where the heart is. So I wait – for the postman, for a phone call, for the next step closer to going home.