We had a few issues to sort out before we left to meet Michelle at Stoke Bruerne on the 20th June. Simon came to look at our electrics. A year or so ago, we'd agreed that the whole system was in something of a mess, comprising lots of bits and pieces which had been added amateurishly over the years before we bought Kantara. It needed sorting out once and for good. When we got the feeling that out solar panels were no longer giving us everything they should, we called the expert. He was good enough to squeeze us into his schedule before we went cruising, so he didn't have time to get the whole job done. The "sorting out" would have to wait until we'd finished cruising for the year. Simon found the problems with the solar panels, so we could set out on the cruise confident that we'd have the solar power we'd been used to.
On the Sunday before we were due to set out down the Grand Union, we spend a really good evening with Darren and Karen from NB Cream Cracker. Excellent food and company, and much really good home-made wine. When I awoke the next morning, I attributed the fogginess in my eyes to an over-consumption of the fruit of the vine, but by Tuesday morning, this had become what was clearly (actually a very bad word for it!) a case of a cloud of floaters in my left eye. This was the week, a year ago, when exactly the same thing had happened to Grace. I did what she'd done then. I went to Boots in Rugby, got an appointment with only a half-hour wait, and spent a total of about an hour with the optician there. He examined the eye very thoroughly, tested it with several devices, and was finally able to say that there was nothing seriously wrong. Floaters happen to people, especially as they get older (me, get older?!) I would expect to see them less in time, as my brain got used to them being there, and sure enough, as I type this, they are very much less obstructive.
I left Boots that afternoon marvelling at our NHS. I know it's come under a lot of criticism over the past few years, and it's certainly not perfect. There is, rightly, a loud public call to renationalize the whole system, with privatization being blamed for most of the problems. But I got very prompt attention, was treated with a great deal of care and consideration, had an hour of a professional's time and the use of very expensive equipment, and it cost me not a penny. It put me in mind of a newspaper article, written by an American doctor on holiday in London with his family. To cut a long story short, his son got grit in his eye, and it was visibly scratched. The doctor took him to the nearest hospital. He got to see an doctor quickly. The doctor examined the eye, treated it, and gave the boy a bottle of saline solution to use as he felt the need. The doctor went to reception to pay the bill. There was none. He explained he was a visitor, not a national. No fee. He wrote in his article that someone in the same situation in the US would have had a bill of over $1000!
We left on Wednesday under a bright sun and blue skies. Stoke Bruerne and the south, here we come!