Thursday 30th April 1987

A fitful night’s sleep due to this warmest spell since 1945 but then out to remove the port side pulpit rails and sand and varnish the toe rails before sealing the wood and re-fitting everything as a good day’s work. We are awaiting more steel piles and the digger tomorrow contracted to excavate a 20ft boat dyke. This as Debbie writes invitations for her 8th birthday party, six people die as a small plane crashes on the Isle of Wight and South African fire tear gas at protesting students who were peacefully singing


A bit of trouble getting to sleep on a warm night. It seems that this late April warm spell is the best since 1945. Awoken on time, but struggled to get showered and shaved in time for breakfast with the others. Straight out afterwards to the boat, where I started removing the pulpit rails and wires from the rear of the port side and scraping down the toe rails. A laborious job, but during the day I worked my way along to the port bow and put on the first coat of dilute varnish to protect the work. I was dicing with the prospect of rain all day, but, apart from a very slight spot or two in the morning, the clouds just managed to pass over. I also screwed the port rail back on, bedded in mastic, which was quite messy. These tasks lasted all day and until dusk.

Wednesday 29th April 1987

Planing the rubbing strakes of The Lady to improve chances of navigating through Willington Lock  and then varnishing the resulting woodwork twice today before taking Debbie to an eventful riding lesson. It seems that there will not be an enquiry into the anti-Wilson MI5 scandal as the government wants truth to remain hidden, an American is jailed for 9 years for smuggling cocaine into the UK, the US Irangate scandal grows and Carl Channell implicates Lt Col. Oliver North and others and Westland Helicopters is shedding 900 jobs after the Sikorsky takeover


A poor night, first feeling rather hot and sunburnt, then Di has several pains and problems. Eventually she moves to the spare room and we both sleep. A little slow getting ready for breakfast, but the rest of the family are even more sluggish. Little Della gets on well at mealtimes these days, out of the high chair and in a child’s seat, she holds her spoon properly and is now well behaved since we moved her on to the end of the table. I go out to The Lady and, before Daniel goes to school, get him to help me lower the roof off of its supports. Just as well, for it soon showers with rain, but the new paint and polish keep the boat safe. Swap all of the boats round at the moorings, so that I can moor The Lady at a low wall and get to her sides.  I spend time planning the rubbing strake, so as to try to solve my width problems at Willington Lock, then scrape down the rest of it and sand to prepare it. By midday I was quite tired of the physical activity and so go in and watch the TV snooker, so as to wait for Diana’s return and lunch. Back out afterwards, complete the preparation, and manage the first coat of varnish before my afternoon cup of tea.

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.