5 years after selling my first narrowboat, Squirrel, I found Phidash. Phidash was built in 1972, which makes it older than me. A steel roof replaced the fibreglass roof in 2002, adding tonnes to the overall bulk, making it the heaviest narrowboat I've ever driven. The engine is big and air-cooled, so I might look in to sound-proofing at some point. It's Petter PD2, built between 1957-1963, and I have so much respect for it.
Squirrel had been a tough act to follow. Commissioned by Roger Squires and built in 1991 by Jordan and Till Ltd, Wolverhampton, Squirrel was well known for being over-engineered. It seemed to me to be an Aston Martin hiding inside a narrowboat. I had previously lived in a cold and disappointing flat-share, so imagine my excitement when I discovered Squirrel had a bed which folded away into the wall. I thought I was James Bond.
But Squirrel rocked and rolled in the wrong kind of way. The boat was tall and narrow and deep and heavy. This made it unstable and prone to acting like a pendulum. I broke everything on board by trying to slow down using just the centre-rope. I had a shock as Squirrel rolled sideways, like a lorry in a gale. The lock keeper at Hampton Court watched, mouth open, to the sound of my belongings flying out of the cupboards.
A similar anti-gravity thing happened the night 13 people got on board for a party.