This week had more fixed appointments in it than usual when we are cruising. I’d tried to organise for a Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) examiner to look at the boat when it was being blacked a couple of months ago. I’d been in touch with a recommended BSS examiner then, but he couldn’t see us for some months.
I could see that Reading was likely to feature heavily because of its position at the confluence of the Thames and the Kennet. The examiners on the BSS website describe the parts of the country they will come to. I didn’t want someone driving a hundred miles to tick a few boxes, so I chose one who lived locally. The examiner I picked replied promptly to say he was going on holiday but could fit us in afterwards.
When I contacted him again as agreed, he phoned and explained that he was in a state because he’d just been diagnosed with cancer. I told him I knew just how he felt – I had been there a year ago. The difference for him was that he still had a business to run. I promised him that we would be easy customers, and would work around him if needed.
We arranged to meet at a location I knew to be near his home. It turned out he had a boat moored a few boat lengths away. We talked less about the boat and more about attitudes to cancer – we were both pleased to have talked about it. I’m pretty sure he did his job thoroughly too. I’d already noted that since the fire extinguisher is inside the wardrobe, we should have a notice outside saying so. I hadn’t thought about the roof vents though, I’ve since found that they can easily be unscrewed and the cobwebs rinsed out. I guess we should do that again long before our appointment for the next BSS certificate in four years time!
This morning’s appointment was a phone call from my oncologist. As well as arranging excellent treatment, he has been very considerate about arranging appointments to allow us to minimise journeys to Edinburgh. He had suggested this phone appointment to save me a trip. He told me that my recent scan had shown nothing amiss. I’ll be getting six-monthly checks and scans from the dermatology department from now on – the best news I could hope for.
The weather was grey with drizzle forecast for the afternoon. We decided to do another short day and see if we could get on to the charging point at Shiplake Lock. We were nearly at the lock when we saw a strange sight on the side of the river. We’ve seen a lot of ducks, but not usually this big. It was clearly labelled behind with a Macmillan Cancer Support banner, as was the T-shirt of the man with it. I suspect he has an appointment in the Henley Royal Regatta taking place just downstream.
We identified the charging point above the lock, but also spotted the water point with a boat just leaving. Once we had the water filling, Clare went to speak to the lock-keeper. She paid the mooring and charging fee and was given a key to open the charging point. We moved back to the appointed place and plugged in.
The charging point has red and white tape wrapped around it separating what appears to be a dumping ground. There is a discarded fridge-freezer amongst other items. While we have been here a boater has come up and placed a bottle of used engine oil alongside some others. Another came and threw on a bag of general household waste. I can’t believe the Environment Agency officially sanction an unconstrained dump this close to the river, never mind our mooring. There is a sign at the lock saying the rubbish point is closed. I plan to ask the lock keeper about it in the morning.
The mooring is otherwise very pleasant. We have had a number of kingfisher sightings, including a pair flying up river together. Our immediate neighbour is a tiny boat. He has protected himself from today’s rain with a makeshift tent made from a tarpaulin. We are very lucky to have a boat that is much better appointed for the weather. I was impressed by his resourceful use of a spoon to help with steering the outboard motor. I don’t know if this can be properly incorporated in to Spoon Theory.