Harnser was by now ready to occupy as our new second home for a couple of periods each side of Christmas

This ended a harsh and frosty month with all of Ropes Hill Dyke frozen over but Norfolk Wigeon or "Sam", the new puppy arrived at the beginning and by the end he was blended into the family and was travelling everywhere with me by car.

Despite my time away and preoccupation with working in Horning, we enjoyed both school and parish carol services and a relaxed and happy Christmas. On Boxing Day, we set off for Redgrave for a family visit, finding Jane and her boyfriend visiting as well as Mum and Freda. The month was full of family events, visits and meals in Wroxham, Norwich and Potter Heigham as we settled into the completed Harnser, but there were two tragic break-ins for or neighbours.

The world full of violence and bigotry well demonstrated by the troubles in Ireland, where the recent news was of more IRA bombings, this time in The West End of London. In India, the Moslem/Hindu religious and racial violence was rising with mutual attacks on places of worship and revenge killings a tide of many over 400 killings. Israel expelled hundreds of Palestinian activists from its occupied territories in contravention of international law and the Geneva Convention and incurred the wrath of the world.

The saddest news of all was the announcement that the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana were to separate as their marriage becomes the latest to hit the rocks. A bewildering range of problems were brought to the Heads of Government for resolution for Major's EEC Summit which muddled through as it had to if he was not to end his 6-month EEC Presidency without humiliation.

There is to be an investigation into the Chancellor's use of public legal costs to evict a sex therapist from his private house whilst the Maastricht Bill was delayed by filibustering tactics by Mr Bill Cash M.P.

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The month ended being a harsh and frosty one, though with no snow for the girls to play with and enjoy. It started with some very mild and still days, very wet and drizzly at times, but then the freezing cold days and nights followed, with bitterly cold frosty mornings, sometimes even delivering freezing fog. Then a very hard frost followed, with all of Ropes Hill Dyke frozen over and the adjacent peaty ground frozen solid as the month ended bitterly cold

This was a month when many things came together. Norfolk Wigeon or "Sam", the new puppy, arrived at the beginning and by the end he was blended into the family, sleeping happily through the night in his two new kennels in Horning and Paxton, but this was after a long ‘journey’ of training and acclimatisation experiences. He was travelling everywhere by car and coming under control in his initial obedience training. His inoculations were completed, and he ended up able to go on long walks to enjoy his new surroundings. At first, he became settled in Horning and then had to acclimatise again when being kept in Paxton. Debbie had become very fond of him, picking him up and cuddling him at every opportunity, before getting accidentally nipped. Della loves him at a distance and even Diana was making the best of him and seems to show concern.

By the month end, he came to heel, sat and stayed to command and was also becoming calmer with visitors. I fed Sam four teaspoonfuls of puppy-wormer syrup on schedule and the remaining issue was the existence of his heart murmur, and he must undergo a further examination at six months of age. I was also controlling his diet and gradually succeeded with helping to avoid him messing his kennel between walks. We also had a visit to see Sam’s family who had not been trained and just bred for the show bench rather than working. My only shooting at home had been by use of my new hunting air rifle with which I have killed and eaten wood pigeons and I had a Greylag Goose in the freezer all prepared to cook when I am here on my own.

Despite my time away and preoccupation with working in Horning, we enjoyed both school and parish carol services in Paxton and a relaxed and happy Christmas. I took Diana and the girls to the Kimbolton School Carol Service and Little Paxton Family Carol Service in St James' Church, and we went as a family to The Cambridge Arts Theatre for their Pantomime "Cinderella", enjoying our normal box. The month and year ended with some last-minute shopping in St Neots on Christmas Eve. I had let Steve Bloom borrow my Rolls Royce for some Christmas events as I also gave a Christmas Box for my gardener Bill. I undertook my family Father Christmas role for Christmas Day when the family had an early but fine and peaceful start to the day with the children enjoyed opening their presents.

Diana cooked a fine Christmas lunch and was rewarded with special attention later. On Boxing Day, we set off for Redgrave for a family visit, finding Jane and her boyfriend visiting as well as Mum and Freda, Alf and Chris. We were happily exchanging presents and playing a game of Cluedo, and I proudly showed them my photo album of the Harnser building process. We also had the enjoyable visit of Di's family, playing more Cluedo and extending the table for a nice Christmas Tea with all the children. I had managed to find time to buy the tree and put up the lights around The Hayling View to continue our tradition and all the children got plenty of presents.

Amongst our other outings, the family made the journey to Norfolk in two cars on our 24th wedding anniversary leaving Diana with Debbie eating their lunch at the Snetterton Little Chef as I drove on to Horning with Della. To Wroxham for lunch with Diana and then, as she went swimming with the girls in the afternoon, and on to Latham’s in Potter Heigham to go shopping. We enjoyed going to Norwich for morning coffee and scone at Jarrold’s Coffee Shop with lunch at Oliver’s. The girls were often going to the library in Wroxham and Norwich as I put the finishing touches to Harnser for our stay. Diana and I liked the cinema, going to see "Sneekers", a Robert Redford adventure film and we tried to see the film "Bodyguard", but we missed getting in as the house was full but enjoyed "The Last of the Mohicans instead. We had lunches at Wroxham Barns and Bridge Restaurant but our time in Horning was not without incident.

Our neighbour, Mrs Doris Vincent visited in a panic as another neighbour’s house, The Tree House, had also been broken into and contents rifled after a previous next-door neighbour suffered the same fate. the first ever burglaries at Ropes Hill Dyke. After dropping Doris Vincent off to the station, we drove to Smallborough to see Mr and Mrs James and Bernice Dunham and chatted a while about planning permissions. The Dunham’s from Timmerslot also made a return visit, after they had bought an Ocean 42 and were planning to retire to Ropes Hill Dyke, which was a positive development. I was close to Debbie this month, helping her with her Chemistry homework after she and I enjoyed wood pigeon for tea as the whole family were taking to Cluedo as a joint pursuit. Harnser was by now ready to occupy as our new second home for a couple of periods each side of Christmas. It had turned into a very snug and comfortable place to stay.

We secured the final approval from the Building Control Officer and he would issue a completion certificate soon after; though the District Council were still prevaricating over the detailed terms of the planning permission. With carpets laid, painting and wallpapering finished, curtains made, and beds collected/delivered, we had also been decorating and fitting all of the door-stop mouldings to the cupboard and door frames. Carpets and kitchen vinyl had been fitted and, having also commissioned the day-time immersion and night-time storage heaters, we had been choosing furnishings. I had bought two bed chairs, six kitchen stools for assembly, and had the kitchen wallpapered, and the washing machine and tumble drier installed, I did pop home again to Paxton after a nightmare journey during the Christmas congestion, and had a very demanding meeting with the Cambridgeshire firearms officer, which ended well. Jack came by and I gave him a key to Harnser in case of trouble.

The world full of violence and bigotry well demonstrated by the troubles in Ireland, where the recent news was of more IRA bombings, this time in The West End of London. Also violence continued in former Yugoslavia and now India, In the latter, the Moslem/Hindu religious and racial violence was rising with mutual attacks on places of worship and revenge killings as a tide of religious killings and arson was triggered by a fight over a holy hill as a Hindu Mosque was burned down. Over 400 people had now been killed in the religious riots in India and the government had a full-scale emergency on their hands. So, India had been plunged into a new Muslim/Hindu religious crisis by this destruction of a shrine by one side on the supposedly sacred ground of the other. Israel expelled hundreds of Palestinian activists from its occupied territories in contravention of international law and the Geneva Convention and incurred the wrath of the world.

The world news was too depressing with wars, rapes and atrocities and the home news not much better with this country full of violent crime, an old lady being beaten up and murdered by an intruder on the eve of her 100th birthday. The saddest news of all was the announcement that the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana were to separate as their marriage becomes the latest to hit the rocks. The anti-Royal “Sun” newspaper spoiled the Queen’s Christmas speech by publishing it ahead of time. There is also to be an investigation into the Chancellor's use of public legal costs to evict a sex therapist from his private house, and the Maastricht Bill was delayed by filibustering tactics by Mr Bill Cash M.P. A bewildering range of problems had been brought to the Heads of Government for resolution for Major's EEC Summit which muddled through as it had to if he was not to end his 6-month EEC Presidency without humiliation.