I had considered my world to be a sort of paradise – a beautiful loving wife, a smallholding home and two wonderful children. Okay so we didn’t have much money and things weren’t easy, but hey…something will turn up.
Now toddlers and babies are hard work. They’re hard work for two parents. When one of the infants has a disability and one of the parents is absent for a large portion of the week, the work is multiplied to a dangerous level. Dashing back home to West Yorkshire every Wednesday night, only to return to Newcastle very early on Thursday morning hardly brought any relief or sanity back into my wife’s life. No sooner had we got the children bathed, changed, fed and to sleep, then we’d grab something to eat before collapsing into bed for some brief sleep before Charlie called time on that rare pleasure. Domestic jobs became prioritised, the less important ones sidelined for the weekend which in due course was consumed and passed in a blur, only for the whole process to start again on the Monday at 05.00. There was no respite.
As Catherine put it, “Life was hard enough before. What were we thinking? Why would we go and make it ten times harder?” She had a point. Now we had an income but no life in which to spend it.
Additionally Catherine did not like being alone. Secluded 200 year old properties can be idyllic during the day but after dark can take on a more sinister demeanour, especially when you’re the type of person who’s scared of clowns.
On the upside, I had moved off Eddie’s boat and into much drier accommodation. I was now the proud owner of the only Citroen Xsara estate with a toilet, curtains and a 240V electricity system. I was getting a few funny looks as I brushed my teeth into the gutter on Kensington Terrace each morning but overall it was an improvement.
As for the job, well essentially that was great. I was at the forefront of a close team doing something innovative and challenging – risky even. The trouble was that the strain of trying to divide my time between two places was beginning to take its toll and neither of us was happy. The only solution we could see was to rent a house in Newcastle, move up through the week and move back at the weekend. Surely that had to be easier?