Wednesday, September 9, 2020


When I walked along the Grand Union Canal on Sunday, I photographed several of the boats. This one looked vaguely familiar and I realized I photographed it in almost the same place eight years ago.

Some of you asked whether these boats ever move or if they're permanently docked. I think the answer is, both. I don't know all the rules and regulations, but I've been told that most boats need to move every so often -- or maybe they simply do because they're boats and their owners want to travel.

Some, though, never move at all. Apparently there are permanent berths here and there along the canals. I bet getting one is difficult if not impossible these days.

So, yeah, that's me telling you about something that I know nothing about. Take it with a grain of salt.

Yesterday afternoon after work I potted up our new chrysanthemum, which is ridiculously HUGE. I was going to put it on the front porch but it's the size of a beach ball and I think it might obstruct traffic! I also potted a broken-off bit of my purple heart plant, which I thought I'd take to school and put in the window of the library. I have a couple of plants for the library, actually. Getting them there is going to be the challenge.

Dave had some drama trying to refill one of his prescriptions. He's been calling the doctor and the pharmacy about it for days. The pharmacy was out of the medicine he usually takes -- it's a sachet of powder and they only had a sugar-free variety -- and the pharmacist couldn't give him the sugar-free unless the doc wrote a new prescription. Getting that new scrip has turned out to be a nightmare. He still doesn't have it, in fact, but the pharmacist took pity on him last night and gave him two sachets to get him through the next few days while all this gets sorted out.

The NHS is a wonderful thing, in many ways, but the problem is we are each just one of literally millions of patients, and it's very easy to feel like a tiny atom lost in a large and complex organism. Especially in a city, where we never see the same doctor -- virtually every time I go to my GP's office, I see a different individual. (I could specify which doctor I want to see but that makes getting an appointment even harder, and it's already difficult!) There's not a sense that anyone knows us -- our medical histories, our allergies and preferences, and certainly not our personalities. Some of that is recorded in our medical charts but in my experience, the doc scans that while he/she is sitting with us (during our specified ten-minute appointment window), and not a moment before. So any time Dave has to deal with the doctors he often has to begin at the beginning.

But hey, we don't pay a dime, except through our taxes. So there's that.


  1. I expect permanent moorings are quite expensive.

    We have what are called bulk billing clinics where you don't pay but it can be hard to see the same doctor each time, although my mother does.

    I see a private doctor and usually a couple of days notice is enough time to have an appointment. The appointment costs about £44 and the government picks up half of that. One I am old enough to receive a pension, it will probably be 'bulk billed' meaning I won't have to pay anything, although my partner is a pensioner and at a different practice still pays the same as I do.

    My pharmacy has too given me prescription medicine without a prescription when something went wrong. It was sorted out later.

  2. Nelly still looks pretty good. Such a fascinating way of life.

    Sorry about the inconvenience regarding prescriptions and doctors. Our experience here in Spain is much more personal since it's easy to get appointments with our doctor. However, we live in a city of well under 100,000 people as opposed to a huge city like London (well, we don't HAVE a city that big, but I'm sure Barcelona and Madrid residents have different experiences from ours).

  3. You need a tartan shopping trolley to transport things - like taking the plants to school. You know the sort I mean - those trolleys that little old ladies tug along behind them. It would also look so cool.

    I see the same NHS doctor whenever I go to our local surgery which is about once in a blue moon as I am a very healthy chap. He is aware of my personality but does not approve of it calling it "combative", "warped" and "eccentric". I'm okay with that.

  4. Once upon a time I used to run (jog) along the Grand Canal (Milton Keynes, don't ask). Six o'clock in the morning, past some cows - no, not the ones MK is famed for, real cows. Till some arsehole spoiled it all by questioning the wisdom of my running on my own in the middle of nowhere. So, that's my input on mooring.

    Before I forget, will you please pass on to YP, in wake of his comment, that times have moved on. It's NOT only "little old ladies" who employ shopping trolleys. I myself prefer a donkey.

    As to the NHS. I swear by the NHS. The only vaguely disconcerting encounter in all my life here when I went to the surgery and told the (locum) doctor that I wasn't able to keep anything down. Not even so much as WATER. I'd retch immediately. She took my blood pressure and said: "You are seriously dehydrated. What you need to do is drink water." You don't say. No shit.

    I do agree with you, CONTINUITY in medical care is vital. Seeing the same doctor. Building a profile (of both your doctor and him/her of you, the patient). Alas, in multi doctor practices it's difficult. My most cherished GP actually advised me to make random appointments even without any immediate need. You can always cancel at short notice, he said.


  5. Sorry about the frustration with the pharmacy/doctors. If it makes you feel any better (it won't), my DH spent two months trying to get his doctor's office to refill a prescription. Never had one person actually answer the phone or return the call. Had to leave messages (practice has been taken over by one of the big. Since the med comes via a mail pharmacy, we are holding our collective breaths to see if is delivered (given all the postal issues here) before he runs out at the end of the week.

    And just last night, a friend who lives in DC called, in tears, because she had spent two weeks trying to get a call back from rheumatologist she had been specifically referred to by her orthopedist. Was then told the soonest she could get in would be November. Meanwhile, she can barely walk. Oh, and by the way, he doesn't take any insurance-her first visit would cost $2,100...not including any blood work or tests. Payment due that day. If she wanted him to just talk to her orthopedist on the phone, it would cost her $650 (at least for him--then she'd have to pay the other doctor, too). None of which she can afford. She is back to square one. Hence, the tears. Such is health care in the US.

    1. Health care in the usa is truly a makes me sick and makes no sense.

  6. Interesting comments on the NHS. The PBS Newshour did a series of stories last week comparing our health care with England, Switzerland and Australia. The conclusion was that none were perfect but ours was by far the worst mainly because so many people have no coverage at all. I had a similar scare with a medication last year. The pharmacy said they were out and to try another, I called around and no one had it. I finally called the doctor and after a day or two found out the medication had been recalled. It took almost 2 weeks to get it straightened out. To this day, I don't understand why someone just didn't tell me what was going on.
    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  7. living on a houseboat has been one of my wistful dreams. I just think it would be so cool.

    I never had any kind of medical insurance before I was old enough for Medicare. self pay all the way. fortunately we and the kids were basically healthy. between Medicare and the supplement I only have co-pay of $40 for specialists and I think that's changed to zero now. I'll find out later this month when I have my checkup. and it only cost me $300 for the flutter ablation procedure I had last year. and then I got a refund of about $140 out of the blue from my supplement which I have no idea what it was for. of course if Trump gets re-elected he and the republicans will screw up Medicare. Republicans have been gunning for it forever.

  8. Did you know that Ronnie Wood, a guitar player for the Rolling Stones, grew up on one of those boats? Maybe not specifically one of the ones you see but you know what I mean...
    There are vast numbers of Americans who would be happy to see ANY doctor, especially for free. I know that I would be so sad not to be able to see my own doctor, of course, but if possible I would ask for him, even if it took longer to get an appointment. No system is perfect, I suppose, but ours in America (as you know) is ridiculous. And ridiculously expensive while the CEO's of the insurance companies are richer than Midas.

  9. Rules for pharmacy get complicated but in the end they are for our safety and health.

  10. House boats have always seemed romantic to me, but now I am beginning to think the reality might be cluttered and claustrophobic.

  11. I'd love to vacation on a houseboat. As for health insurance, it stinks if you are elderly. (in some cases) You could end up with a doctor who doesn't believe in giving too much care to the elderly. Just make sure they come in often enough to produce lots of bills for the insurance company. I do think it's important to see the same doctor so that he/she gets to know you. You have a fun day, hugs, Edna B.

  12. I love the canals. Whether it's Regent's or Hertford Union Canal. :-)

    Hope you're keeping safe.

  13. I lived on a boat, a small narrow sail boat for a year, I got over my romantic notion but did love the gentle rocking and the smell of the bilge. The second photo of the boat is so clear, well positioned, I love it!
    Health matters are never easy, never-mind that Americans have to sell their houses and cars to get some measure of health care- eventually! When people say "it could be worse", I wonder how.

  14. When you don't really have any serious health problems, the annual (or sometimes more often) doctor visits seem to be just an inconvenience. But I have a saying, which is doubly true during this pandemic: At my age, without the doctor visits, I'd have no social life at all!

  15. I hope things work out quickly and smoothly for Dave to get his meds. Things just seem so much more difficult these days with the pandemic. Getting in to even see a doc is a challenge here.

  16. I'm FB friends with someone I "met" back in the old Poetry Bus days (Jules Chapman). She & her husband live on a houseboat now. I think they're somewhere in Gloucestershire (but I'm not sure). I love her posts, but I'm not sure I could handle the small confines long-term. I'm feeling a little claustrophobic just thinking about it! Now, if I could just live on deck...

  17. I have often wondered how it was with the NHS. I guess there are pros and cons to every type of medical plan, but it is ridiculous here in the USA, as I am sure you know.