Thursday 31st October 1985

Busy showery day for my Dad to arrive with three new doves and for him and Diana’s parents to come and see them and the video I took this morning of the Roe deer buck that visited our riverside garden for acorns before an evening editing and improving my family video collection as the US/USSR Geneva arms limitation negotiations take a strange turn but Holland accepts cruise missile deployment despite protests


Awoken from a deep sleep by Daniel this morning to see a deer in the Hayling View. I sat at the window, drinking my tea, and watching it bound about on our riverside garden, eating the acorns that had fallen from the oak tree. No doubt it had also been nibbling at the shrubs and bedding plants as well. Then I managed to open our balcony window as it jumped into Marilyn’s plot and then video it as it came back and went back along the Hayling Walk in the direction of the gravel pits. We decided later that it was a young male Roe Deer, because of its dark grey-brown winter fur, white rump patch and small horn stumps; being only about 2 feet high. Our neighbour, Chris, also saw it and at first thought it was a Muntjac. Up then, after the excitement, and down to breakfast and then to telephone my Dad to see how he got on with the doves. He has three in cardboard boxes in his car – a pair with a white hen, and another hen, who is unattached. They were a bit put off by Di not inviting them for lunch and had decided that Dad would come over on his own this morning, rather than continue to keep the birds until later in the day.

Wednesday 30th October 1985

Utilising the last day of Daniel’s half term school holiday to get his help with work on the riverside gardens, myself also moving the dove cote cages and helping Pete to remove some stumps as the builders finish the chimney stack and work on Daniel’s room and the news is full of miners’ news, defections, expulsions and angst as well as heavy censorship concealing more deaths in South Africa

Another good night and Diana woke early this morning in case Daniel had to go to school. In fact, the school timetable showed that half term holiday ends at 8.00pm this evening and this date was obviously intended for the notice of the boarders. Down to breakfast of toast and fruit juice. Another fine and sunny day and even the breeze was light and mild. A quick look at today’s paper and then out with Della to feed the doves and ducks. No eggs today, although the ducks seem to have finished their moult and will need their wings trimming soon. A chat to Pete, the gardener, who is removing stumps today. I help him to set up Bill’s winch and we make short work of a persistent stump that yielded to the strength of the winch. I then spent this morning disassembling the cage that had been used for a acclimatising the doves to the ‘lean-to’ dovecote, and reassembling it to do the same job for the pole-cote. By lunch, I had worked out how to do it and affixed the two sides and, immediately after, I stapled on the rest of the netting and completed the job.

Tuesday 29th October 1985

Pleased to be home with the normal family activities together and then off to St Ives for the auction to bid for some silver and mahogany lots and chat to the Buckden Marina manager about the Darlows selling up before back to organise the swimming pool contractor and video the building work as Lester Piggott retires after 38 years riding 4,500 winners and Zola Budd’s £90K race fee is revealed


A much better night’s sleep – there is no place like your own bed! The mornings are quite light now and I woke up at 7.00am and decided to make the morning drinks to get the family up. I served them in our bedroom and they sat in a row in our bed as we woke up and drank our drinks. As Daniel said, I like the family to be together and it was nice to start the day with a chat. Down to breakfast of toast and more tea and then I washed and dressed quickly, thinking to take some video pictures of the building work before the workmen arrived. Now that the clock has gone back there is no such opportunity to do that in the evenings and the day started sunny and bright. I wasn’t in time as they arrived at 8.15am and so I fed the doves and ducks and collected two eggs. I persuaded Di to bring the girls and we set off for St Ives Ekins antique auction, arriving just in time for the start at 10.00am.

Monday 28th October 1985

Checking out of the Holiday Inn after a poor night and then a long morning at Hamleys in Regent Street for the kids and then Dickens and Jones for Diana’s gift buying before home to find the builders had been busy and to a humble sandwich tea as the last of 28 GCHQ servicemen charged were acquitted after a waste of £4m persecuting them and Prince Charles and his advisor are in a row with the press after printing his private comments and Diana for giggling at his safety helmet


A very poor night. The so called ‘double’ beds in our hotel room were too cramped and narrow and the sheets and blankets even so too small to effectively tuck in. Furthermore, our room was too near the main road and, with lorries trundling past and a stuffy hotel, there was an unsatisfactory choice between the noise from the air conditioning or open window. Up and down all night and then a calamity as I strained another part of my back getting out of bed! Up at 6.15am new time and washed and dressed, waking the others, who also had restless nights. Diana was not too pleased. Down to another nice breakfast, the family loving the choice, and then we get ready to leave as I tell them I could not stand another night like that. I check out, we load all of our baggage into the Jaguar, and then leaving the car in the hotel car park, we set off by taxi to Hamleys toy shop in Regent Street. A long morning looking at all five floors of toys, but starting early enough, it was not too crowded at this time of year. Debbie enjoyed it immensely, but Daniel ended in tears as we would not buy him a computer game for £10.