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One Man and a Narrowboat: Slowing Down Time on England's Waterways [Paperback]

Steve Haywood
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

6 April 2009
If I’d really been serious about getting to grips with my mid-life crisis, then I’d have been better opting for a course of therapy than going off travelling. Or if I had to travel, I’d have been better opting for somewhere warm with a beach… In an attempt to get to grips with a BIG birthday, Steve sets out from Oxford to explore what makes the English… well, so English. His quirky humour is inspired by Tom Rolt, who took to the canals on a similar journey immortalised in the book 'Narrow Boat', kick-starting the revival of Britain’s waterways. Prepare for a generous helping of mayhem, mishaps and the staple of every English summer: torrential rain. First published as 'Fruit Flies Like a Banana' this revised edition with new material is published to coincide with the 70-year anniversary of Tom Rolt's own classic trip.

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Frequently Bought Together

One Man and a Narrowboat: Slowing Down Time on England's Waterways + Narrowboat Dreams: A Journey North by England's Waterways + Too Narrow To Swing a Cat: Going Nowhere in Particular on the English Waterways
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840247363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840247367
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Good reading for anyone interested in our waterways and who likes a good tale.' (Towpath Talk)

'A quirky look at the nation's canals…. It's quite a cruise and not just for canal enthusiasts.' (Powys County Times and Express Series)

'Entertaining travelogue recounts a journey he made from Oxford to Bristol via Tewkesbury, complete with mayhem, mishaps and torrential rain.' (The Independent on Sunday)


`Chronicling his experiences... Steve saw mayhem. Mishaps and a generous helping of torrential rain during... touring the canals of Britain.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE: Republished title - different name 25 April 2009
By Iain
This book is a republished (so-called 'updated') edition of the author's previously released title, 'Fruit Flies Like A Banana'. Why can't the publishers and/or Amazon be honest about these things? Why the change of title? Why did the author sanction it? Why no mention of this important fact in the Amazon blurb?
Otherwise, this is an enjoyable read; well-written, mildly humorous and suitably opinionated. Worth a go, if you haven't already come across it in its original form.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Native narrowboat narrative 15 May 2009
I had read Fruit Flies like a Banana, (see my review) and this is a rehashing of that book. My initial thought was that it would be merely a re-read, not exciting. However, perhaps partly because I had read that book quite sometime ago, this proved a compelling tome. It is tighter and more readable than the first and contains equally humorous and historical stories of the waterways. Steve is obviously well versed in the background of the modern waterway system. If you have ever been narrow boating I would recommend this book. It will give you more appreciation of your journey. Likewise lazy landlubbers will still find enjoyment here and it may even encourage you give canal boating a go. I did and it was brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light read - but worth it 17 Jun 2011
By worm
I'm somewhat addicted to light-hearted tales of journeys through Britain, or parts of it, and this promised much.

It is, in the main, a simple travelogue charting the author's journey from Oxford to Bristol on his narrowboat. However it also includes details of the life of Tom Rolt who inspired the journey, the Inland Waterways Association, and the Triumph Herald which also takes a part in the journey.

At times, it feels like Steve Haywood loses sight of the journey and concentrates heavily on the history. However it is handled with a great deal of affection and sympathy, so it doesn't detract too much from the story of the journey. He has an obvious affection for the canals, his boat, his Herald, and the men that preserved the canals for him.

There are better books about journeys - there are better books about journeys by narrowboat. There are better histories of the British canal system and no doubt better histories of the Triumph Herald. But I doubt there are better books that cover all these things, weaving the lines together with such a light touch.

Hopefully the intention wasn't to provide a detailed account of the journey, for if it was then this was a failure. However, if the intention was to document a love affair, between one man and the canals that entrance him - then it was very successfully done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One man's meanderings do not a book make 1 April 2014
By Sanda
This could have been good, but there is far too much rambling, discontinuity and feeble jokes to make it readable. Condense a chapter into an after-dinner speech perhaps but don't try to make a book, still less one with 309 pages. I managed about 70. Amongst the rambles is some good information, but it's too much effort to pick the wheat from the chaff. The chapters are untitled which makes the morass even more unnavigable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and unoriginal 29 May 2012
By Liz
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I dont know why the author of this book bothered to write it - his references to another author who wrote another book about life on a canal are so frequent that you might just as well buy the other book and read it - deleted this from my kindle before I finished it...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative 17 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I decided to read this book as I'm also a canal and narrow boat fan,and as it turned out probably started out with my first hire boat around about the same time as the author. The book not only recounts some humorous cruises in genuine English summer weather (torrential rain) but also contains a lot of recent history about the formation of the IWA and the rescue and revival of our canal network. There's even some interesting information about the Triumph Herald which apparently was way ahead of its time. Overall a very good read.One Man and a Narrowboat: Slowing Down Time on England's Waterways
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One man and a narrowboat 10 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this book very disappointing . Its not really about being on a narrowboat . There is so much which seems just filling the book - about the Triumph Herald as a vintage car , about the personal relationships of Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt (founder members of the Inland Waterways Association). I've spent many hours on the canals and this book didnt take me back there !!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars READ IT ! 19 Sep 2009
Great read, informative, amusing, wistful, I couldn't put it down. Hadn't read fisrst version (fruit flies like a banana) so not disappointed
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
funny, funny, funny.
Published 1 month ago by MRS GM SCHAFF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by molly
4.0 out of 5 stars Canals and Waterways
An enjoyable read full of useful detail for anyone contemplating something simiilar and interesting for the armchair
traveller. Good buy,
Published 9 months ago by Ann E M Carpenter
5.0 out of 5 stars informative and funny
Worth reading for if only for his trip down the Severn estuary, which has to be the most scary thing a narrow boat can do. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs Kathryn McDermott
3.0 out of 5 stars Books
Enjoyable read. especially sitting by the fire in winter time you can picture yourself on the boat sharing the authors travels.
Published 22 months ago by Ray Terry
3.0 out of 5 stars One man and a narrow boat
An entertaining read with lots of detail about the canals, life on a narrow boat and the english countryside. Read more
Published 23 months ago by steve
2.0 out of 5 stars one man and a narrow boat
i was realy looking forward to reading this book as i have always wanted a holiday on a narrow boat, but i was very disapointed as after reading 6 chapter i found that i was still... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2012 by otter
1.0 out of 5 stars Meandering journey
If you buy this book expecting to be enlightened about life on a narrowboat then you'll be disappointed. Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2012 by D. Sedgwick
2.0 out of 5 stars narrowboat nil broadmind one
This is an intelligently written book but mistitled. The author spends far more time discussing his car and house than he does his boat and I found this disappointing. Read more
Published on 19 July 2012 by Alec Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
I have bought this book because I am interested in Narrowboats. However, this book is not really about narrowboats. Read more
Published on 16 July 2012 by Andreas Wilhelm
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