Today I get the chance to hijack Karen’s blog and give my very own, brief take on our adventure thus far. For me, in reality, the adventure began 17 years ago when Karen and I first met. Her love of nature, adventure and lust for life rekindled something, that in truth, had all but disappeared at that point in my life. In the years to come we had many adventures, although rarely planned.
We had our first son, Sebastian in Asheville, North Carolina as we were there visiting family after a brief stint as summer camp counsellors in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. I took on work as a roofer in Asheville with Bug, Doug, Doug senior, Troy and Tony. On my first day up on the roof I watched in dismay as Bug and Troy carted up a case of Budweiser and sparked up a ‘herbal refreshment’ as they settled in for the day on the 40 foot high crematorium roof…’Now there Waaaarren, what be theees saifty haaarnesses y’all be talkin bout?’
Needless to say the money was needed and I continued to work until Sebastian was old enough to travel and our visa had just about run out. At this point we moved to the UK. Here we had Aiden and Ella, a couple of cats, a great number of guinea pigs, bought a house and worked every hour imaginable to survive but not without great cost. As a family we saw very little of each other and when we did I was tired and stressed. So needless to say as with most things put under a load of pressure something had to give and it turned out to be me. I had a bit of a mental flop, failure, meltdown whatever you want to call it. All I know and can say is that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone or on any family. But thanks to my strong and ever loving Karen and Mom ( who flew over from Portugal to help ) we made it through to the other end.
This event led to a total and utter re-evaluation of life and it’s priorities. Within 6 months of this we had packed up, left our jobs and moved to central Portugal to open a small bar. Aaah…Back in nature, so peaceful and where we could raise the kids in a similar environment to which Karen and I had grown up in. Where the kids could be outdoors instead of behind a screen. Where they could just be. We were also close to the grandparents for the first time in 12 years. We met and befriended such unbelievably loving and giving people. We learnt a new language, embraced a different culture and made it our own. Sad to say that the business just couldn’t support us financially. This meant for the first time in our married lives, Karen, the kids and I would have to be separated for weeks and sometimes months at a time as I’d have to go back to the UK to subsidise the bar. In doing so I missed out on many key and important events. Sebastian’s 13th birthday, a wedding anniversary, Valentines day, Karen’s birthday, the run up to Christmas (which for years had been the absolute highlight of our year)-you get the gist I’m sure. This went on for nearly 2 years (9 months of which I spent away from the family), so as before, we had to make some changes. There was no way in hell we were going to come back to the UK and live our ‘groundhog day’ lives without some sort of alternate plan. As with most things in our lives it didn’t take Karen and I very long to decide on what our aim was to be. We would come back to the UK for 18 months and live in a caravan with the dual purpose of prepping the family for our journey and to try and save enough money to fund a minimum of a year travelling and volunteering throughout Europe.
And so we did…What had gone across to Portugal in a full to bursting 40 foot sea container ( 14 years of hard work and accumulation – I now prefer to think of it as hoarding ) came back to the UK in a beaten up, 2001 Vauxhaul Zafira called Duncan. Seeing your family give up or let go of everything they knew as home for as long as they had been alive is when, as a parent or husband, you think, ‘What the fork have I just done?’
Today, I unzipped the awning and stepped outside to warm the car just over a year after getting back to the UK. It was cold and damp but beautiful. In 6 months we’ll be on our way. Travelling the world with four of the people I love most in this world. The kids are onboard and things are slowly falling into place.
As Dad or Mom your decisions are never easy and will almost always be questioned, if not by your kids or parents, then almost certainly’ by yourself. I, as my parents and theirs before them and throughout time, will always do what I feel is best for my kids and family. It may not always be right or work out but you can’t go through life with regret. In life, and certainly in the current world we live in, not one of us can be sure of what tomorrow will bring, so live your life, you only have one
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