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Real Life

Lisa's fairytale: My hubby is a knight in shining armour

Lisa Leitch, 47, Ballarat, Vic shares her romantic real life story!

By As told to Take 5

Lisa Leitch, 47, Ballarat, Vic shares her real life fairytale:

Dimming the lights, I watched my husband, Phillip, take out the storybook and start reading to our two-year-old daughter, Mieka.
"Once there was a man called Robin Hood, who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor," he began.
It didn't matter how many times he read it to her, Mieka's face always lit up with delight.
Phillip, 29, was just as entranced.
He'd grown up listening to tales of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and St George and the Dragon and loved them so much he'd even made himself cardboard armour, which he wore as a boy.
I'd first met him through a friend and we'd fallen for one another straightaway.
Although he'd gone on to serve in the army and later became a private investigator, his fascination with all things medieval was unwavering.
I love learning new horse riding skills. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
We'd often go horseriding together on our 10-hectare farm with Mieka.
Galloping around was such a buzz, but one day, Phillip's mind was focused on something else.
"I'd love to take up jousting," he said.
It didn't surprise me that the 1000-year-old medieval sport where two horsemen wield their lances at each other would be right up his alley.
Next time he went riding our horse, Piper, I noticed Phillip was holding a wooden pole in his hand, pretending it was a lance.
He'd made a helmet out of steel and was wearing a cobbled-together chainmail shirt.
I wasn't exactly shocked.
"I really want to give jousting a proper go," he explained.
Sharing my love of riding with my family. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
As an extreme sport, it required lots of time, effort and money.
No-one did it in the state where we lived, so Phillip had to fly up to Sydney to learn and practise it.
We even bought a Friesian horse, Valiant, the same horse breed used in the 15th century to joust, and Phillip trained him several times a week.
At his first professional tournament, I sat nervously in the spectator seats as he whizzed around the racetrack.
We're a happy medieval family. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
My heart was beating wildly as I watched him hurtle towards another jouster at 50km per hour armed with a 10-foot lance.
Please don't get hurt, I thought.
Thankfully, everything went well – until the third round, when Phillip was unhorsed by another knight.
The audience gasped in shock as he lay on the ground, motionless.
I was glad that Mieka, eight, had stayed with her grandparents – I wouldn't want her to see her dad hurt.
Leaping to my feet, I rushed over to him.
Paramedics were already there and explained that Phillip had dislocated his shoulder.
Phillip in his knight's armour. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
"I'm not impressed," I told him. He could have been killed!
"It won't happen again," Phillip winced, his body aching with pain. "I'll make sure I hone my technique."
He practised more after that and, thankfully, never had a serious accident again.
For the next three years, he travelled Australia, Europe and the USA, competing until he became a world champion.
We even saved up enough to buy customised armour based on a 15th century harness.
It was stunning, but it weighed 35kg!
"How do I look?" Phillip asked after I helped him put it on.
I felt weak at the knees. "Like my knight in shining armour," I said, beaming with pride.
As jousting became a bigger part of our lives, we learned about Kryal Castle, a medieval adventure park and resort in Victoria.
"They're looking for a jouster," Phillip said.
We both love horses and history. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I knew this was what he wanted more than anything else, so he applied and got the job.
"We're going to live in a castle!" we told Mieka.
"Will you be the king and queen?" she asked us.
We couldn't stop laughing.
"Yes," I told her, "and you'll be the princess."
Although she'd be moving away from all her friends, Mieka, 11, was thrilled.
Our new home was actually a modern three-bedroom place adjacent to the castle, though it still felt like we'd become royalty.
In fact, we even had to adopt stage names for when we greeted guests who'd come to explore Kryal Castle.
Phillip became Sir Reynard, while I chose Lady Breya – we thought the names sounded regal and intriguing. It was fun to have a whole other identity!
Phillip and me - I'm so proud of him for pursing what he loves. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
While Phillip puts on a show with his sword-fighting and demonstrations, I look after the horses and prepare the castle.
"This is a dream come true," he said to me.
I had to agree that I'd never been happier.
Growing up watching her parents on horseback meant that Mieka got the riding bug.
"Dad, can you teach me to joust, too?" she asked.
Phillip looked so proud that our girl was following in his footsteps.
Phillip, Mieka (front) and me. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I'd even stopped panicking so much and knew that Mieka, 16, was in safe hands.
The two started training together and have now become the world's only father-daughter jousting duo.
It all seems so surreal that, once, the closest we got to living out our medieval dreams was Phillip's bedtime stories, and now this is our life.
Not everyone gets their fairytale ending, but so long as Phillip, Mieka and I are doing what we love, we're the happiest family in the world.

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