About Face!

Froth has been turned around, so that the bow end is now inside the boathouse. This gives us a great opportunity to sit out on the back deck and enjoy the view of the canal and the back cabin area. It’s the first time we have really got an idea of what it will feel like when we are cruising.

The engine is very quiet and has a satisfyingly deep sound. We had been worried about this because our first encounter with it was indoors, where it sounded quite whiny and rather deafening! The central heating system is also working now. Mark explained to us the various settings on the instrument panel for drawing power from the various sources.

Inside, there are various developments. Some lighting in the saloon:


Hob and oven in place:

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Louise cleverly had this surface/cupboard area designed around the waste bin. So many people forget that!


And we have tunnel lights at the bow:

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The water tanks are now in place, under the seating in the well deck area:

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And finally, a view of the saloon from the bow (as always, click the photo to see a larger version):


Details, details…

Despite work being about 4 weeks behind schedule (no real surprise there!) we are getting ever closer to the day when Froth will be finished. 

It’s time for me to start thinking about what we need to make the boat habitable. My first purchase was a rather splendid whistling copper kettle, because if I can’t make tea we aren’t going anywhere.

We commissioned www.juliasmithceramics.com to make our crockery. We were rather taken with the spirals and the bicycle motif. It seemed appropriate to have ‘Pataphysical time machines* on our plates and mugs.

Yesterday I realised that we hadn’t allowed a space in the galley for a rubbish bin. An insignificant detail until you need it. So I had a quick think about where one could go and went off to the boatyard to confer with Martin. We agreed a solution that I’m really happy with.

Now it’s time to make a list because my head is full of things I need to get in preparation for our maiden voyage, which we anticipate will be at the end of October. The move to our mooring at Market Harborough will take about 3 days, but from experience I know a good pub or 2 en route could easily double that.


* If you feel the need to know about spirals, bicycles and time machines, please ask Andy.

** I’m struggling with apostrophes and capital ‘P’s so please forgive me  – I’m just a ‘Pataphysician’s wife and I’m doing my best! 😀

Up and under

There have been two main areas of progress this week: out on the roof and in down in the back cabin. On the roof, we have solar panels and our satellite TV dish:

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As you can see, the solar panels can lie flat or be tilted to face the sun. We think three will be sufficient to provide most of our power. MGM reckon that we will be able to have 240v power for four days without having to run the engine or hook up to a shoreline to recharge the batteries.

The satellite dish is the self-seeking sort. On our previous boat, we had to adjust an aerial by hand, which meant far too many late nights in the rain swaying about trying to locate a signal!

The back cabin is Andy’s workroom and bedroom. The corridor leads directly into the bathroom. There is also enough space for the bed to pull out to make a full size double.


The bed base is sectioned into two and will lift up with a hinged mattress to make getting underneath easier. The Yamaha digital piano and stand will go under the bed, as well as a couple of spare toilet cassettes, and whatever other long term storage is required. There’s really plenty of room. Above the bed are numerous small cupboards. The ones over the bedhead will house down lights for reading.


There is another cupboard to the left above the computer desk area:


The desk itself is very sturdy and has a side pull-out drawer that opens over the bed to give room for papers, coffee mugs, etc.


The area to the left of the desk is carefully designed to accommodate the music keyboard, when in use. The rest of the time it is empty space.

These were not the only activities. Evidence of other work is scattered around, for example the cabin doors drying against the wall of the boathouse:


But probably the most evocative moment of today’s visit was standing on the back deck and looking at the view down the roof. She’s a long boat! Which is exaggerated by the solid roof over the well deck. On most narrowboats, you have to imagine the front 6-10 feet when standing on the stern. On Froth, the end of the roof is almost the bow of the boat. It seems very far away!


Froth on the Daydream

We have a name!

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The sign-writing was done by Robin Wagg of Real Sign Writing. Here he is at work:

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The photos scarcely do justice to all the subtleties. Views from the bow end:

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We like the jauntiness, the lettering, the spirals, evoking the spirit of the pianocktail. The what? We hear you ask…

‘Froth on the Daydream’ is an unusual name for a boat. People are intrigued.

It all comes from a beautiful novel entitled ‘L’ecume des jours‘, by the French writer, musician and pataphysician Boris Vian, The pianocktail is a piano that mixes drinks according to the combinations of keys played. This is just one of many delightfully inventive ideas in the book. Boris Vian is much-loved in France, but relatively little known in Britain. Indeed, we might not know about him at all were it not for the fantastic translation by our dear friend the late Stanley Chapman. The phrase ‘Froth on the Daydream’ is his invention (‘L’ecume des jours’ translates more literally as ‘spume of days’).

Stanley once sent me a copy of the book with his own hand-designed cover:


Cover for 'Froth on the Daydream' by Stanley Chapman
Cover for ‘Froth on the Daydream’ by Stanley Chapman

He included the following inscription in the flyleaf:


So ‘Froth on the Daydream’ is our chosen name because it is in the same spirit as Vian’s book and Stanley’s translation. It will be fun, free, and will go we know not where, for reasons which we cannot fully understand. It will be both a home and an inspiration.

Woodwork, power and weeds

The main activity at the moment is woodworking. Martin is busy crafting every single surface and cupboard, porthole and door. Narrowboats contain an enormous amount of wood. In the hands of a master craftsman, the interior becomes a thing of beauty.

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At the same time, there have been developments out back. The engine is now in position:


It doesn’t look that special in the photo, but getting it sitting squarely and aligned in the engine compartment is no mean feat. The electrical panel is in place, and we have our throttle:



It’s hard to see, but there is also a control to the left of the upright in the photo for the bow thrusters. More on them in a future post.

And finally…we have a weed hatch:


Narrow boating would not be complete without the experience of releasing weeds (and other, even more tricky, materials) that get wound around the propellor!