From my diary 1986. ‘Life as a student- to finding a little nest in North Wales’

2nd June- first trip to Ruthin craft centre. Meeting Carole Netting. Have a show, love the country side.

3rd June –Gary’s funeral Dad, Jeff, Simon and Roy are bearer’s- must have been very sad- back of my mind all day.

Monday 9th June-Julian makes wonderful progress on the housing front- the chance to apply for “a lodge” near Ruthin. Which you get cheaper if you do the gardening. Best still the land agent, Mr Verdon works with Uncle Harry Blackburn! What a small world.

Later go to see the man from Chelsea Arts Club, Nicholas Treadwell. He’s a funny man- about 48, thin grey hair and rectangle metal glasses, red shoes- quite weird. Asked up to his bedroom (thank God Julian is with me).Show him my work chooses ‘Two Can Play at that Game’, & ‘Zebra’, for the Barbican show.

10 th June- Private view – Postgraduate Show

13th June- dads 66th birthday- Drive up M1(from Wimbledon) stop at Oswestry on way to Ruthin. Go and see two rented properties. One called ‘Bathafarn’, but the second down the road in Llandrynog. THE LODGE fall in love with it straight away- only one floor, pebble dashed with slate roof, beautiful chimney & sweet garden. Only peering through the glass.

25th June- Waiting for a phone call from Mr Verdon. We wait and eventually ring him, who says “Oh yes, by the way you’ve got the Lodge”. How lovely just awaiting on the bank etc., yippee. Go down to college and they’ve put the MA results up. What a day. Passed that too.

29th June. Whist staying at home, Dad takes us all for a trip to see the Lodge with Mum, little Gran & me. Luckily I can remember the way down the windy lanes. Keep saying round the next corner. They seem to really like it- peering through all the windows. Dad says ‘oh it has the same floor as the farm! Mum says to Dad ‘Do you like it Eric? I think it’s great’. Mum eats the strawberries, she thinks it is a bit isolated. Talk about it on way home to Cheshire (realise it would be a lot easier if Jules & I were getting married, for m & d sake. How things have changed. Only 40 years ago).

4th July- Julian goes to solicitor to change his name- goes in as Mr J D Harris, & comes out as Mr J D Askins- only costs £20. Funny, will take a long to get used to it.

7th July- Wake 8.30- want to chance to chat with mum on my own, at last over breakfast I  broach the subject of weddings again next May or this Oct- I’m  not wildly enthusiastic, but she chooses Oct as being her favourite. Not sure what I expected really!

Later meet Mrs Weaver, who gives us a key to the lodge. Get our first chance to alter the lodge. Buy the freezer off here for £70. Hope this is a bargain as I’m broke. Start decorating the lounge first. Paint over the disgusting red-brown spongy wall paper; certainly needed it? Takes coats of paint to cover, as all slimy! Jules starts the ceiling. Finish late tonight Drive back & fro till it’s ready.

23rd July -Drive to the lodge with treadle sewing machine, pick Jules up on the way. Decide to have dinner at Cerriglywdion Arms for dinner. It’s the royal wedding today, Sarah Ferguson & Prince Andrew. Gets us in wedding mood. The owner stands up & salutes when the national anthem played. A very loyal citizen ex militia.

 Back at Lodge carry on painting the windows- listening to the wedding on the radio. Jules sleeping here tonight brought a Lillo & sleeping bag. I drive home.

24th July-_ Maria’s 34 birthday. At home dashing around with my mum trying to find a wedding venue. Go to the Four Seasons, nothing magical. Drive to the chapel. Home & eat, then drive to the lodge for 4pm tidy ready for the removals. On way to Widnes discuss wedding ideas, drop Jules at 9pm & home to mums.

25th July, next day go & see Adlington Hall- make our decision on October 18th. In the afternoon hurtle down the MI back to flat in Wimbledon- ready to move.

26th July- Jeff’s 33rd birthday. Clean cupboards. Big red delivery van turns up at 4pm and we load everything into it; say bye to neighbours. I won’t miss the long journeys back & to home. Goodbye life as a student & a life in Wimbledon

27 July Amy’s christening. Busy family day.

28th July- wake up at 7pm- drive to North wales and find 8.45 with a Red delivery van already unloaded most of contents- ready to move in. that didn’t take long. Pay them £73 and say bye at 10.30. This place is our now. Only took 6 weeks to find it, get it, change the décor, and move in! Now just to arrange the wedding.

30th July- Clean all the kitchen cupboards & empty the boxes. Pick fruit in all this chaos. What a state red and black berries, & Gooseberry’s all around the kitchen. County life!

18th Aug woke up on middle of the night saying “Of course it’s all right mum”. Like I thought mum was fussing, so much over the wedding, the dress, and everything.

16nd August Go to Chester meeting mum, try hundreds of dresses today until find my favourite. 1920’s style dress with peach sash. Yes.

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