Tuesday 28th April 1987

Polishing The Lady on another glorious and warm day after recent varnishing and then shopping for supplies whilst hearing of the £25.5K sale of my Linton Lordships as Mr Larkin starts the dredging, Diana takes Della to Cambridge to see her Charles and Norma and then Daniel and his friends stayed late in the pool. Lawyers for the bereaved castigate Townsend Thorenson safely procedures after witness statements and so their fleet will now wear parent company P & O colour. A security review is underway in Ulster after another IRA shooting, Thatcher is angry with Labour issuing ‘the secret Tory manifesto’, but refuses to deny plans to increase VAT and also allegations about MI5’s anti-Labour activities


Slept well enough and awoke slowly to my morning tea. Was a little late down for my boiled egg and toast fingers with the children. Nothing in the post today and only glanced at the newspaper before going out to The Lady. A job of polishing the woodwork with beeswax traditional polish, then getting Pete’s help to lower the canopy off of its support, then turn the boat round. Raised the canopy on two supports again that side, then sanded off the sliding roof channel and gave it a coat of coloured varnish. I could not reach this spot before. The two sliding doors had had their last coat of varnish affected by last night’s dew and so I had to strip it off and re-varnish them. Di was late back from Cambridge with a slimmer’s sandwich for my lunch, then I went into St Neots afterwards for some shopping. Mill Lane is still blocked by the Electric Board road works and so I had to drive the Range Rover down the A1 and down Crosshall Road to get there. Just made the bank before 3.30pm and then balanced my building society accounts as well.

Monday 27th April 1987

More progress on The Lady today as the children enjoys the pool and the river contractor arrives and starts dredging and arranging for the steel interlock sheeting to be loaded on board via the Paper Mill wharf. After the eventual righting and flotation of The Herald of Free Enterprise it transpires that design economies prejudiced safety, an MI5 book today confirms that the service undermined the premiership of Harold Wilson and lapses in censorship show how brutal the South African regimes has been lately in attacking Zambia and repressing their own people and the Tokyo Stock Exchange record a record one day fall.

Slept well and rose to my morning tea. Showered, shaved, and down to breakfast to find Debbie tidying her room, but Daniel claiming that his knee strain was too bad to enable him to. The mail to read and PCL have provided the best quotation so far for the conservatory, at around £17K. Out to The Lady and a steady job sanding down yesterday’s varnishing and drying off the dew from the woodwork. Coffee whilst I waited for the wood to dry off completely and I briefed Pete on a few gardening jobs before the river contractor arrived. Pete is cutting back the hedge between our riverside gardens and those of Eddie and found a nest, which I take to be that of a hedge sparrow. One clutch is hatched and four eggs remain, but I fear that the mother has abandoned the nest now. The bank contractor spoke to several neighbours about further work, but I fear they are too poor to get their frontage done properly. Today I finished the vast majority of the varnishing on the superstructure and will polish the same tomorrow. Another warm and sunny day, which allowed me to make good progress.

Sunday 26th April 1987

Another working day on The Lady applying varnish to make her look the best ever with Paul visiting Daniel such that they both enjoyed his boat and the pool. Planning for the dredging and river work to commence as Thatcher and France’s Jacques Chirac have talks and agree that keeping their nuclear deterrent is paramount despite US/USSR disarmament and the Caterpillar factory workers near Glasgow end their plan occupation as redundancy still threatens


A long night’s sleep and Di slayed in until 8.30am and delayed the family’s start to the day. Morning tea and then showered, shaved and dressed in my work clothes for breakfast. Not ready yet and so I sat in the lounge with the week’s local papers, cutting out items for my Little Paxton scrapbook. Called to a nice fried breakfast and then went out afterwards to start work on The Lady. It had been a fine night, with very little dew, which was just as well, as I had not covered up the boat. First wiped over the superstructure to mop up the drips of condensation in the misty early morning, then used the time while it dried to scrape and sand off the sliding door panels. Then the start of the long process of using the mahogany coloured Ronseal varnish to redden up the faded woodwork and harmonise and deepen the varied colour patterns that had been making The Lady look scruffy. A task that lasted before and after coffee, lunch and afternoon tea. By then I had finished applying over a litre of varnish over the last two days, as the woodwork looked the best it had ever been.

Saturday 25th April 1987

Working on The Lady using some ½ litre of  varnish in one go, receiving a river maintenance contractor and tending Daniel all on a very hot day as 75-year-old Lord Chief Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife are murdered in a car bomb attack, South Africa attack neighbouring Zambia and on the first anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, there was a rally of 10’s of thousands in Hyde Park to mark the event and protest at the government’s approval of a new reactor for Sizewell B whereas Russia have scrapped plans for two of their own.


A warm night and felt quite hot when I was awoken to my morning tea. Got out of bed to cool down and then rather groggily showered and dressed for breakfast. I think I was also warm because of the food from yesterday evening, not to mention the wine. Last to the breakfast table and sent Daniel scuttling off to his walk to St Neots, as he had forgotten the lack of a Little Paxton bus on a Saturday. Scanned the post and daily paper, though I did not read the latter. We received Debbie’s joining instructions for Kimbolton Preparatory School today, which made interesting and reassuring reading. Out to The Lady and took off the cover entirely and swept off the cabin roofs. Then the long task of wiping and sanding down the rest of the woodwork. I set myself the task of additionally varnishing all of the areas varnished last year in one go, to underpin their protection, but it was a big preparation job.