Thursday 26th September 1985

Family illness strikes and Debbie makes the breakfast, Pat takes her to school and then Norma and Charles come over to help me before an evening colouring in my Hayling View garden plan and hearing how Marilyn’s rabbits are eating our plants as France received the ritual Western condemnations for sinking the Rainbow Warrior although the CIA are now implicated in a Nicaraguan bombing and Liverpool remains a battlefield between local and central government


Another poor night and this time both Diana and Daniel were taken ill. First Daniel was sick all over his room and this triggered Diana off and so, when I woke up, they were both ill and Di was unable to make the breakfast or get the children to school. Debbie and I made breakfast and she was good to get herself dressed and her lunch box ready for school. I took the cordless phone to Di so that she could phone for our neighbour, Pat, to get Debbie to school and for her parents to come over earlier to help out. Daniella did her bit by staying asleep a while and then Debbie got her up and fed her on bread & butter and rice crispies! Daniel was not fit for school and spent the day at home. Unfortunately, it was the only day that Joan does not come, but soon Di’s parents were here and set to work.

Wednesday 25th September 1985

Warm and sunny day resuming my landscaping and then welcoming the builders for the start of work on No 7 and then to meet Mrs David with Marilyn to hear her recollection of the Haylings and the wartime fires in Little Paxton before serving a tea of bread rolls on the front lawn after Daniel came home from school as Liverpool is paralysed by a 24-hour strike with schools closed and a rally at The Town Hall and the UK, at last, joins the world in implementing EEC sanctions against South African brutality and apartheid.

My bad back proved no impediment to a sound night’s sleep and it was much better when I woke this morning. I did not stay in bed long, however, and sat up in my folding bedroom chair to protect my back. I have found that sitting in bed is poor for back comfort. Breakfast and then quickly washed and dressed and out to feed the doves, which were quite hungry. I then started to pick over my excavations, removing large stones and carting off the soil to the riverside land. Then the builders arrive, as promised, and I walk over the house with their manager and he then starts his workmen on the task of stripping out the carpets and fittings of the new house that would not be needed. I prepared my tools to start to clear the overgrown shrub patch but, before I did, I realised it was today that I should go to Marilyn’s to meet Mrs Davis. I popped over, but was too late to see her and so come back until 11.00 when she had come out of the drier! Marilyn caters for a wide variety of old ladies with her hairdressing skills and attention. We chatted for an hour and I learnt much of Little Paxton’s history from Mrs Davis.

Tuesday 24th September 1985

Active day landscaping during which I moved turves and paving stones but ended up with a strained back before taking a relaxing bath and then to my journal and the TV news which told of a municipal crisis in Liverpool with NALGO falling short of striking over government interference and of the amazing story of Mexican babies that survived the earthquake in their cots. This, as police in South Africa used teargas to prevent a parade of blacks joining the funeral of a 10-year-old boy and of the two French security agents arrested for spilling the beans on the Rainbow Warrior attack

A better night’s sleep and then up to my morning tea and paper. Breakfast as usual and then back to my room to finish reading whilst the children got ready for school. Debbie is fully recovered and back with the others. At 8.30am washed, dressed and out to the doves. Della came along and we fed them well. A strange sight today as the blue cock ousted the indigo cock for the white hen’s favours on the dove table. Now that the weather has improved they seem to have nearly finished their moults and may try another brood before winter. Then to start work. I had decided that, as the weather was fine, I should prepare for the arrival of the builders tomorrow by starting the back garden new house patio. I set too, removing the turf in a quarter circle of radius 7ft and, as I did so, I filled in the border gap between the rest of the lawn and the path. Then patched up a few dry and bare spots before saving the rest of the turves. I managed to take the unwanted sections of crazy paving apart and stack the broken paving stones by the garage.

Monday 23rd September 1985

A very busy and eventful day after a diabolical night with both Debbie and Della coming in to see us ill and then to St Neots for a host of transactions and chores before a combined trip to Bickerdikes Garden Centre after a bread roll lunch and home to frame my Hayling View plan as The Mexican earthquake death toll rises to 5,000 and may reach 20,000, the US dollar is devalued and the arms control talks reach a critical stage, the French Greenpeace ‘Watergate’ rumbles on and eight inches of rain in Glasgow release thousands of empty whisky casks on to the Clyde!

A diabolical night’s sleep as firstly I had difficulty getting off and then Debbie came in twice and Daniella was sick and needed tending. A groggy start to the day in consequence but, after a breakfast of toast and fruit juice, I managed to read today’s Financial Times and also catch up on Saturday and Sunday’s papers. Then to wash and dress and go out to feed the doves. Daniella joined me for a walk and we both enjoyed another fine day. It started a bit chilly, but was fine and sunny, getting quite warm in the afternoon. Then the ducks, but only two eggs. I chatted with the gardener, who was most impressed by the clearance of the heap of litter, the new clematis and the weeding of the shrubberies. He had bought in a quantity of flower bulbs and also some bedding plants, which he planted in our new front garden borders. To the office, where I worked a little, filing excess papers, making a few phone calls and reviewing my finances. Later in the morning, and heavily lumbered with chores, I drove to St Neots. I collected my bank statement, visited the building society and then walked across to Fishers and bought a convertible step/loft ladder.