Shop front in the summer

Friday, 31 December 2010

Good Bye 2010

That's it, Just about to shut the door for the last time this year! What a year it has been, I think that for a lot of people the Demise of Ownerships has been quite a prominent event in the boating world this last year, if affected us and we did lose a lot of money as did many others when Alan Mathews empire came crashing down when he sadly died, Its all pretty much behind us all now and we can look forward to the new challenges that the boating season of 2011 will bring us.

So until next year, I will bid you a Happy New Year!

Regards Simon, David and the Team at Norbury

Thursday, 30 December 2010

What happened to the day?

Just sitting here typing this and thinking, what happened to Thursday, we haven't stopped all day, it has been like a day in the summer but without the weather, customers everywhere, we have sold out of the Large Eco fans, seven in two days! that's not bad going, we used to only sell half a dozen a year but i think they have featured on the TV recently, we have started selling them in our eBay shop as well but that doesn't account for the amount that we are selling through the shop. Still no boats moving, i think that people are coming down to their boats as we are selling lots of water pumps and associated plumbing spares as i predicted!

I tried breaking the ice this morning but i didn't manage much, it must be over a foot thick down the arm down to the dry dock, we wont be docking any boats just yet, i will try again tomorrow.

I must go as i am already running late.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Just another day

Well that's Christmas over for another year, I did return to work yesterday but nothing really to write about so I gave it a miss, not really much to write about today either but I do know that there are some people out there who read the blog everyday just to see what we are up to so I thought I better put something!

Still no boats passing but the thick ice may have something to do with that, I spent a few hours yesterday breaking the ice in the basin so that we could move some boats on to the wharf to pump them out, We still have boats being collected so they have to be got ready, regardless of the weather! The ice seemed thicker than it was, its amazing what a couple of days of freezing temperatures does, it has started to thaw now and all the snow has finally gone, we can now see the extent of the damage caused by the hard freeze, so far we have damage to the wharf edge by the water in the brick work freezing, frozen pipes and lifted tarmac, we haven't even started to look at all the boats yet.

Its been quite busy here, diesel sales, coal sales and gas are through the roof at the moment and as we are the only chandlers open in the area we are having a great run on pumps etc, I would say long may it continue but I don't want to see this sort of weather again unless i go to lap land!


Monday, 27 December 2010

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas. We had 22 friends and family over for dinner on Christmas Day. With not having room to seat everyone on the boats we extending into the Tea room. Everyone did something to help and it all came together spectacularly well.

Here's a picture of the table, unfortunately it doesn't show everyone present.

We were left with quite alot of food yesterday so we decided to do a buffet for anyone that turned up and wanted to join us. I think there were twelve in the end and Sue did a sterling job at making a large Bubble and Squeak. This was followed by by a boating quiz and Trivial Pursuit. We tidied the place up ready for this morning and we were all tucked up in our relevant homes by about 10.30pm.

We are operating on skeleton staff again today. So there's not much to report on that front!

The temperature increased noticeably last night. It had been -5°C here all day, but when we went home last night it was above freezing. Unbelievably the canal has started to thaw, although there are still huge icebergs, but they are now floating, rather than being frozen in one big mass!

We are hoping to dock a boat on Wednesday, so we will hope that this thaw continues - but how long for? I've heard weather reports that say that we are going to have another load of snow and then it's going to freeze again, but we will have to wait and see.

That's everything to report from me today! Over to Simon tomorrow.



Thursday, 23 December 2010

It must have been cold

It must have been really cold last night as me and David went to break the ice toady, it took half an hour to release the day boat from its icy grip and once we managed to make some head way the ice was stopping us dead, considering i had broken the ice yesterday, its like an ice soup now, layers of ice on top of more ice, its a foot thick in places now, well we managed it which enabled us to move Sovereign Lady off the wharf and put it somewhere more accessible for the new holiday makers today, they will not be going anywhere though which is a shame as it is their first holiday on a boat, they usually go abroad for Crimbo, i bet they wish they had of carried on as normal!

Its been quite a busy day, last minute shopping while out at the bank, we have completed on another boat that was for sale, agreed the sale of another boat, Paul has commissioned the heating system that he has fitted and it is now working just fine, we have had a boat go out and a motor home go out, Mick has been doing gas appliance servicing and issuing landlords certificate and Fred has been pumping boats out, watering them up and delivering more coal

Well its Crimbo eve tomorrow, i wont be posting anything now until Wednesday next week, we are open for business albeit reduced hours and a skeleton staff so there probably wont be much to report, so i hope you all have a very merry Christmas and i will post next week.

Kind regards Simon

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Fooled you

I know you think that I am a numpty but i typed "longest day" deliberately just to see how many people read the blog and see how many people noticed the mistake!(thats my excuse and im sticking to it!) thanks Adam and others who have pointed out the mistake, so for those of you who didn't notice, yesterday was the shortest day!

We had another snow fall last but at least the ice seems a little softer today,I went to see how Sovereign Lady was getting on with the ice braking on its return to the yard, I parked at High bridge(the one with the telegraph pole in it) and promptly fell on my arse and slid all the way to the bottom! Soverign Lady was doing a sterling job of breaking the ice and is now safely moored on the wharf awaiting its services prior to the new holiday makers coming tomorrow.

Paul is doing an excellent job and is nearly finished on the central heating installation, Mick is installing a new thermal store, that is a central heating water jacket on an Alde boiler, Bernard is doing a winter service on one of our hire boats and Fred is tidying up the stores as he cant do any blacking because of the ice, have been out breaking ice again and now I'm thawing my feet by the heater.

Only a couple of days left until Christmas, I hope you all have your shopping done, coal and logs in store and are ready for Christmas.

Regards Simon

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

longest day

At last its the longest day and we can all start to look forward to lighter nights! its been another bitterly cold day here at Norbury, coal sales, diesel sales and gas sales are through the roof at the moment i just hope that we can keep up with the demand, we had more coal delivered today so we should be OK for over the Christmas break now.

The holiday makers on Summer Wine decided to call it a day today and have left for home, apparently the forecasters have said we will have up to ten inches of snow this week, it doesn't look like the ice will disapear for quite some time, Sovereign Lady is try to make it back through the ice, its out again on Thursday so keeping my fingers crossed, its not far away so hopefully we will see it tomorrow. Fred has been ice breaking today and when he came back he said that i was right it is hard work, the poor old day boat will need blacking now after its duties as an ice breaker.

I'm off home now to stoke my fire and put my feet up.


Monday, 20 December 2010

lonely day

Its been quite a lonely day here at Norbury today as David was off, Angela was off Paul was off and Amanda was off so i almost had the office to myself except for Jay to keep me company, this weather is really starting to cause some problems now -20 over the weekend and the ice is so thick that it has stopped us docking boats as we just cant get down to the dock, roll on some warm weather, i did have to go out and break some ice along the embankment today, it was very thick but i managed it so that one of our hire boats could get some water as they were running low.

that's it for today


Sunday, 19 December 2010

It's mighty cold

I arrived at work this morning to find an envelope pinned to the door. Inside was a compliments slip from Staffordshire police to update us on our break in. Apparently they were here at 12.30 this morning and walked around our site to make sure the buildings were secure. Just goes to show that theres some very good coppers out there that go beyond the call of duty. The regular drive-by's will hopefully keep those thieving hands at bay.

I'm a bit late writing our blog today. Time seems to fly by at work in this weather, with very little achieved!

First task of the day was to dock a boat. So I set to breaking the ice with the day boat, but it was virtually impossible down the arm, and I didn't want to do any damage to Strait and Narrow, so we moved to plan B.

Plan B - Float our two hire boats. Slide them alongside each other, pull the boat in that needs docking, push it over to the far side and slide the other two out. I know it sounds a bit like a Bunbury Shuffle (well I suppose it's the same!). Here's a description of Sue doing the Bunbury Shuffle with No Problem.

That worked pretty well, but we had to leave one of our hire boats in as the ice was too thick to break with freshly blacked boats.

Paul's still been busy working on installing the heating system on Lion. Another day or so and it'll all be up and running.

I've been trawling through our website, updating it here and there. I think I have also managed to find a company in Cheshire who can help us with our webcam that Simon wants to install (thanks Dad!).

It's -12°C outside at the moment, so I reckon tonight will be a cold one... Let's hope I can get to Manchester tomorrow.

Well it's 17:45 and I should be at home. So have a good Christmas if I don't get to say that during the week.



Saturday, 18 December 2010

Fingers crossed...

We had a bit more snow in the night and some more this morning. There's now about an inch of the white stuff everywhere! It seems to be causing disruption all over the country. Listening to the radio, Gatwick airport has closed and BA have suspended all of the outbound flights from Heathrow today. My Mum and Dad are due to be flying over from Spain on Monday to spend Christmas and New Year here with me. They are booked on a flight to arrive into Manchester at about lunchtime, so we need to keep our fingers crossed that the flights don't get cancelled!

The occupants for the two boats that we have going out today, have arrived, the first boat has already left and the second will probably be departing the basin as I write.

Fred's been busy blacking in the dry dock. We have two of our hire boats on at the moment (Phantasy and Python).

Mick's still busy with gas work on all the boats that we have in for winter maintenance.

Paul's doing a sterling job at fitting a diesel stove and heating system into Lion. The radiators are now all hung, the new chimney collar is in, stove in place and the fuel line is in. He is now in the process of putting in the pipework to the radiators. His fingers must be dropping off. I've just been onto the boat to see how he is getting on and it is mighty cold in there. He's had to remove the solid fuel stove to run the pipework, so he can't even get some warmth into her from that.

Mandy and Jay are cleaning the holiday cottage and motor homes respectively, ready for the customer that will be arriving on Christmas Eve.

Well we will keep our fingers crossed that the weather doesn't get any worse, at least until Monday.

That's all for today.


Friday, 17 December 2010

More snow, more ice!

Its getting tedious now, the sub zero temperatures are back and causing us problems again, not as bad yet as they have been but it still takes twice as long to do jobs in this weather,and its going to get much colder, the canal was frozen over today so out with the day boat and ice braking was the first job, in the torential snow,the ice was not to thick around half an inch but it is enough to stop a boat from moving forward when not under power, we had to move several boats today to make room for the boat being drained in to the water, yes it did happen today! sorry no pictures as my fingers were just to cold to hold the phone and press the button!

Dont worry if you are supposed to be coming to collect a boat and you are reading this, the roads as I speak are ok, if you are concerned about the conditions here just drop the office a line in the morning and check.

We have had two boats go out today and we have two more out tomorrow, I don't think they will get far and to be honest if it were me I wouldn't attempt to go far just in case the ice gets to thick.

Well that is it for me for this week, David can keep you up to speed with the goings on here at Norbury, I'm off for the weekend, so until next week.


Thursday, 16 December 2010


Its been a busy sort of day, as I said yesterday we were craning this morning so David moved the boats out of the way, moved the Trailer that was in front of the boat to be craned and we generally got everything in order to do the job, we then went over to the dry dock to dock a couple of our boats for blacking etc, it was around 10.30 when we finished and I said to David " a that crane is quite a bit late"it should have arrived at 9am, then the penny dropped, I got the days wrong and its Friday we are craning! needles to say David was not amused, so it just goes to show, even I get things wrong! He then had to put all the boats back where they were until tomorrow.

You don't notice sometimes just how busy it is until you run out of something, we have three diesel pumps on the wharf, we have a delivery of fuel at least once a week, sometimes twice a week in the summer months, two of pumps ran out of fuel today,fortunately we have a delivery tomorrow so no one will be disappointed.

We are craning tomorrow so I will get some pictures then.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

busy day today

Its a bit like writing a diary everyday but I have to leave a lot of things out as there just isnt enough space to write everything so this is just a snap shot of things that happen at Norbury. It all started very early this morning with filling the dock as we have had two boats to dock today for survey, so once we had moved some boats out of the way of the dock, broke some more ice we were ready, one boat docked by 10am then the next one docked by 1pm, the boat that was on the dock(Ember) was moved over to the painting dock while the one in the painting dock (Silhouette) came out looking much tidier after a lick of paint here and there, I moved the boat and it is superb now with its new engine, I know that the owners will be chuffed with how it is now! We carried on moving boats all day, we seem to have so many boats at the moment that we have to move two boats to get at one and so on, it seems to take for ever! I finally got back in to the office at 3pm for a meeting, thank God for that as it gave me chance to thaw out my fingers.

We are craning a boat in to the water tomorrow so alls being well I will get some photos for you.

Until tomorrow Simon

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The weather

What on earth will we talk about when the weather finally changes and this cold snap disappears?
They are forecasting more bad weather later this week and its started going cold again today, just when most of the ice at Norbury is melting we are going to be hit with more sub zero temperatures and more ice! we are preparing all the boats as most of them are due to go out over the next two weeks, i really hope that the ice doesn't come back as it was or there will be a lot of disappointed people stuck on boats.

Work has carried on as normal today, Paul has been putting the final touches to Silhouette and continuing with the central heating system fit, Bernard has been straightening the stem post wings on our new 10 berth hire boat, its an unusual design as it has a giant rubber fender running the whole length of the stem post, it is an (ex Black Prince boat) and when it has hit the sills in the locks it has bent the steel either side of the rubber. Fred has been blacking and ha had the unusual task of pressure washing a horse box, yep we even do horse boxes!

Until tomorrow, Simon

Monday, 13 December 2010

At long last

As the title says, at long last, the boats are on the move and we are seeing boats on the wharf for services, we seem to be selling coal as though its going to cease to be mined, I have just had to order more supplies, thanks to this extraordinary weather that we are having our coal and smokeless fuel sales have gone through the roof, it is much easier to do the coal now than it used to be when we did it by boat, it was hard work when we had to load and unload the boats by hand, now it comes on an Arctic lorry, off loaded using our Matbro and stacked neatly in our compound, no more lumping tons by hand! Gas sales have also soared and we have been struggling to get our normal deliveries as the Calor depot had run out of stock last week, Angela did a sterling job and found another supplier to keep our customers happy, if the weather men are correct we are in for another cold spell later this week so we will probably up our orders so that all the boats can stay warm over the Christmas period.

While talking of Christmas, we are only closing Christmas day, Boxing day and New years day this year, we will be finishing slightly earlier on Christmas eve but only at 3pm, we have found over the last few years that people still require our services and as we are the only chandlery open people come from miles away for emergency parts to keep their boats going over the festive break.

Its a grey day today and not very exciting so i haven't bothered to take any pictures, and the work being done by everyone isn't very exciting either so no pictures of that either! Lee is busy putting the final touches to Silhouette in the painting dock, James is blacking Ember, Mick is doing gas safety work on the hire fleet while Paul is doing a complete central heating installation on a boat, I will try and take some photos of that job as it progresses, Jay has been cleaning the holiday cottage today and Amanda is still sorting through the chandlery and making it tidier, David id busy doing David things and I have been catching up after my weekend off, so until tomorrow.

If any one is around on Christmas eve drop in and have a drink with us, i will even be buy you a drink!


Sunday, 12 December 2010

The German market in Birmingham was excellent last night. There were thousands of people milling around admiring the decorations, browsing the stalls, eating and drinking. We then went for a walk to and around Gas Street basin. The trip/restaurant/party boats were doing a roaring trade. I counted five boats travelling back and forward from Old Turn Junction and Salvage turn. Following having a chat with the steerer of Anson the short journey was due to the cut still being frozen further on. We then finished the evening with a couple of pints in the warmth and welcoming of the Anchor at High Offley. Country life hey? Much better than being in a busy city...

I was surprised to wake up to the cut being frozen again this morning, it was only cat ice and melted by about 11am.

Paul's been getting Yelvertoft ready as she is going out tomorrow with one of her shared owners aboard. This is one of the boats that we drained down prior to the weather dropping below freezing some weeks ago, so it took him a little while to get the water through to all the places it needs to be and luckily she is void of leaks!

Mick's found Phoenix's boiler to have several holes in the water jacket. This is not caused by the cold weather as the system was antifreezed, but due to old age. So he has removed the boiler and I will source a replacement tomorrow.

We have had a slight move around in the basin today. Lion is now tied outside the shop ready for a Bubble diesel stove and heating system to be installed - starting tomorrow and I am sure you will have some pictures during the week.

Anyway, I'm having an early night tonight - so over to Simon for the rest of the week.

Hope the ice goes soon!


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Well the ice maybe thawing but it's still pretty thick down the arm.

I've just come back into the office from docking a boat with Paul and Fred. It's taken over an hour to break all the ice that has piled up in front of the dock, just to get the one boat out and the other in. So now that's done Fred and his steam cleaner have set to with the task of pressure washing the boat and cleaning the dock out. The boat that we have docked is Ember, which is one of the new hire boats that we have going into the fleet in 2011 (see You'll probably be hearing much more about her over the coming weeks as once her bottom is blacked, she is going in the Wet dock to be painted.

The huge table top sized pieces of ice that were in the dry dock when we last put a boat in there, actually hadn't melted at all! Whilst the dock was flooded today we took the opportunity to float them all out into the arm.

Silhouette's coming along a treat in the wet dock. Her cabin top only requires a final coat of top coat and then she is complete. All she will need then is a clean before her next owners take her out on the 24th.

Bernard's busying himself with changing a drive plate and engine mounts on Willoughby. Then following an engine service and an clean through on the inside her winter maintenance will also be complete, meaning she will also be ready for her next owners at the end of the month.

Mick's working through all of our boats to get the gas appliances serviced, a gas check completed and certificate issued. That will be keeping him busy at least for the next month, but I am sure a few jobs will crop up along the way to slow progress down!

We've had two boats on the wharf for services today, so that proves that boats are moving once again.

I'm off to the German Market in Birmingham tonight, so will catch you all in the morning!


Friday, 10 December 2010

Its finally thawing!!

At long last most of the snow has gone, the ice is melting and we have even seen a boat come through today which has broken the last of the lingering ice, its been two weeks since we had the first snow fall and the low temperatures started, it seems like months! we can now try and catch up with the backlog of work, we will be able to free the boats from the docks over the weekend.

Thanks Karen, sorry but you have missed my blue knees knocking but I might give you a special viewing if you ask really nicely!

Nothing exciting has happened today, it has been quite bust as Angela didn't come to work today as her dog died in the night and she was really upset, he was quite old but it came as a bit of a shock as he died in the night in his basket so she had a bit of a shck this morning.

I'm off this weekend to do some Crimbo shopping so its over to David to keep you up to speed with what's going on over the weekend.


Thursday, 9 December 2010


Let me apologise for my lack of attention to detail. it is not that I cant spell or that my eyesight is poor, it is because I work so hard that by the time I get home I am that tired that I don't always see something obvious, so for all of you that are in the same position as me and missed it yesterday, it should have said sunny and not sunnt! Thank you to Angela and David for pointing it out to me today!

Well the sun came out today and the temperature reached a massive 5 degrees, I nearly got my shorts out, Hey girls I bet you would have been rushing down to Norbury to see that? Has the thaw finally arrived? no chance, the canal is still well and truly frozen over, I broke the ice again today and what I broke yesterday had frozen last night and was very difficult, it doesn't help when the ice is in layers from the ice breaking the day before, I didn't go as far today, just around the basin, hopefully it wont freeze tonight.

Its been another quiet day again today, the motor home came back, Bernard has had to get a boat ready that is going out the weekend, Fred has been helping Lee with the painting of Silhouette, painting the water tank on a couple of boats and generally mooching around the yard doing odd jobs, Jay has been painting the kitchen, David has been doing what ever David does (when someone finds out what he does will they let me know) There are plenty of other people here but i don't tell you what they do as its things like cleaning and paperwork.

Thanks John and Brenda for your email and kind words, i know what you mean about being "technophobe" i am still getting used to this computer thing!

Sorry no pictures today, nothing exciting to take any pictures of, so until tomorrow, Simon

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

sunnt day but cold

Its been another quiet day at Norbury but work goes on as normal, well as normal as can be under the circumstances! I have braved the sub zero temperatures and managed some ice breaking today, broke all the ice in the basin, got right down the arm and all the way up the moorings to free the stuck boats so they can get down to the water point to get some water, they have been without for two weeks.

Lee has been busy removing the grit from the roof of Silhouette, Fred has been helping and doing the water tank while Bernard has been doing the winter engine service on another shared boat.

David did take a couple of pictures but the internet was down most of the day so im typing this from the comfort of my arm chair at home.

Until tomorrow


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Very quiet today

Its been a very quiet Tuesday here at Norbury, we have seen hardly anyone except for a delivery of paint and a delivery of new batteries, i have decided to start stocking 135 AH batteries, they have the same foot print as the 110's but are taller, needles to say that they are more powerful than the 110's and more expensive but i do think that people living on boats might just see the benefit of fitting them

Not to much to report today as i think that the ice has finally beaten us and we have now had to cancel a couple of surveys as we cannot get the boats in to the dock because the ice is just too thick, who said running a boat yard was fun!!

As promised yesterday i was out first thing this and have taken a couple of shots of the place, only a couple of shots as it was -11 at 8.30 this morning, enjoyUntil tomorrow Simon

Monday, 6 December 2010

Getting fed up now!

There is no let up in this weather and as much as the country side around us looks lovely covered in a blanket of snow and the trees have a most impressive frost on them, i am now really fed up with it! the canal freezes as soon as the ice is broken, the boats are that frozen that it doesn't look like they will ever defrost,the car doors wont open as they are frozen shut, the toilet waste pipes are now freezing and i cant feel my fingers! It is a real shame that we have had our camera stolen as i could get some cracking photos, if the freezing fog has lifted tomorrow i will take some on my phone and post them on the blog.

The place has been put back in order after the break in on Thursday night, we will have to have a new door though as the blighters have made a right mess of the old one.

The office and chandlery are 99% finished and in my absence over the weekend they have varnished my new desk, they do look after me! Just new carpet to go down now and that will be it.

I cant feel my fingers, my feet or any other extremities so I'm off home to sit in front of a roaring fire.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's cold again...

I was wrong about the thaw! Here's a low resolution picture that I took this morning.

I have since broken all the ice with the day boat, but there are still huge icebergs floating around in the basin! Since then several boats off of the moorings have come down to use the services that we provide. There was a method in my madness, honest. I wasn't just doing it for the fun of it, but we needed to swap the boats in the wet dock and also get one out from down the arm. So Paul, Mick and Jamie are now battling with frozen ropes and slippery gunnels to move the boats around.

Lee has now finished the paintwork on the boat that he has had in the wetdock and Paul's put all of her accessories back on. There's still a few jobs left to do, but they can now be down outside.

Silhouette's on her way into the paint shop under her own power! There is a fair amount of paintwork required, including baremetalling the cabin top and regritting it - oh and I forgot changing the colour.

I think it's going to be another cold one tonight, so we will all have to batten down the hatches and keep in the warm!

Back over to Simon again tomorrow, so more from me next weekend!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Has the thaw begun?

The thaws begun, its even been raining today, but how long for? The forecast is for another freeze tonight. There's still plenty of snow about and thick ice on the canal.

One of our hire boats has set out on an adventure today, although they have only moved a hundred yards out of the basin and onto the visitor moorings in the hope that the ice will thin over the next 24 hours. Lets hope that they get to enjoy their winter break!

Other boats in the vicinity have started moving too, to top up with water, gas, diesel and coal and to empty their elsans and pump out tanks. That's keeping Fred occupied, although I did wish I had the camera earlier when I caught him sat inside a water tank on one of the shared owned boats. It hasn't got to the stage where he has to hide from me, he was actually busy painting it!

The engine in Silhoutte that Bernard has been fitting is nearly complete, Mick is just wiring it up and then we can hopefully run it tomorrow. She's then going into the wet dock for her painting work to be completed.

Paul's been fitting a gate valve in line between the diesel filler cap and the tank on one of our customers boats. The idea is that it will act as an anti theft device as access to the tank can only be gained when the valve is open. We've fitted a lot of these caps to boats that are kept in rural locations or are left unattended for long periods over the last 18 months. They've varied in design from the lockable filler caps kept on the shelf to a simple hinged arm that passes over the top of the cap and simply locks with a padlock.

Amanda's busy taking stock of everything we have got in the chandlery, making sure it's all in order and priced whilst Jay's busily painting.

The blog is looking a bit boring without any pictures so here's one of the last pictures that I took with the camera. That's Sue on Thea breaking the ice and passing under bridge 38 and entering the basin at Norbury last Sunday on her way back from the Anchor at High Offley.

Best regards,


Friday, 3 December 2010

Cold and busy day

Simon spoke too soon yesterday. "Not much happening", but it all happened here last night!

Mick opened his cabin doors this morning and heard our shop alarm going off. He came over to investigate, only to find that the shop had been broken into. Luckily the little rascals didn't get their hands on much, but they have still caused us a loss of about £3,000. That's made up with the stock and money that they took and the repairs that we have had to carry out.

Looking at the log on the alarm they made entry to the building at 2.22am this morning. It's unbelievable to think that they took such effort to get in, only to take so little. All I can presume is that they didn't expect our WWII air raid siren to start wailing! Anyway, they must of got cold while they were trying to make an entry as it was -13°C last night!

The biggest loss really is our new Sony digital camera that Simon and I used to take pictures to post on this blog and for advertising the brokerage boats. So unfortunately you won't be looking at any pictures for a few days, unless I take some with my mobile phone, but obviously the quality will not be as good.

Every one's been working hard to make the building secure again and to increase the security on all the areas around the yard. I think it's such a shame that you have to lock everything away even at this idyllic location, but I suppose you get rogues in all parts of the country, and especially at this time of year!

The police have luckily managed to get some foot prints and have taken most of the damaged items away as evidence. The silly sods even left their foot prints in the snow...

The ice had thickened on the canal this morning, but we broke it all as we've had a move around of boats in the basin and down the arm. It was about 5/6 inches thick down the arm and 3 inches in the basin. It's freezing hard again now, so it'll be even thicker tomorrow.

Lee's been busy painting boats in both docks, although the cold weather is slowing the job down. We've got sheets of ice in the dry dock, the size of table tops and 4 inches thick. I'll try and get some pictures for you tomorrow as it is most spectacular.

Let's hope it's a bit more peaceful tonight!!!

Until then...


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Not much happening

Its been a quiet day, as you would expect seeing as there is snow and ice ever where! Only the usual suspects in today but we have been busy delivering coal, diesel and gas out to boaters that have got caught out in this weather, we do normally deliver coal within a ten mile radius so it is not that much different to our normal service except it isn't usually to boaters.

The lads have been busy as usual doing their jobs, some of which are running over slightly because of the weather, amazingly we have a couple of boats out this week and the cottage to get ready for the weekend so tomorrow it will be a bit busier, David has been catching up on paper work and i have been in the chandlery sorting out the stock and ordering more stock, i suspect that when the thaw happens we will be very busy.

I know that we keep saying it but the office is nearly finished and is looking superb! i cant take any photos today as the battery on the phone is dead and i only found out when i came to take some pictures this afternoon!

I'm off tomorrow for the weekend so David will keep you up to speed with the progress here at Norbury.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

More snow

We have had more snow over night which has settled giving us about 4" Its was still snowing at 9.30 this morning, I love the place when its covered in snow, looks idilic but it is a night mare to work around! Some pictures from first thing this morning.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Only 3 Inches thick!!

The ice is only three inches thick but it takes some breaking, We have had to dock a couple of boats today which meant that i had to spend a couple of hours in the snow on the back of a day boat ice breaking, it is hard work and it takes all of the blacking off the hull and the noise that the prop makes chopping through the ice is horrendous! When the canal had working boats using it the canal companies had to keep the canal clear of ice and this was done with a horse drawn ice breaker with a team of horses and a team of men, they would stand either side of a bar running down the length of the boat rocking it back and forth as the horses pulled the boat along, often riding up on to the ice before it eventually broke, now that must have been hard work! You don't see that sort of ice breaking anymore! Both boats finally under the cover of the dry dock, we are fortunate that we can have two boats in our dry dock as it is a wide dock.

Its snowing like mad here and the temperature has dropped a lot since this morning so i would imagine that the roads will be bad tonight. This weather makes moving boats around very dangerous and Paul has all ready slipped today, fortunately only his leg went into the water and not all of him. Poor Bernard is fitting an engine today and hasn't got much in the way of cover, i suspect he will look like a snowman by the time he finishes today. Paul is still winterising boats and draining systems down, Fred is cleaning the two boats down in the dry dock, ready for some paint, Ange is paining the office, Amanda is still sorting through the chandlery and i have been showing people around a boat, you wouldn't believe that people would be looking at boats in this weather but they are!

As promised here are a couple of shots of Norbury from the office door this morning(you don't think I'm going out there taking pictures do you)

Until tomorrow


Monday, 29 November 2010

Its getting colder

It is amazing just how cold it has been this weekend and its getting colder! The thermometer topped a new low this year at an amazing -13 here at Norbury, it goes with out saying that the canal is well and truly frozen over,it has been reported that it could drop to -20 this week, i have seen it down to -16 here in the past, David reported that the shops water had frozen, the toilets froze over the weekend and just about ever thing froze! Every boat that we have here is frozen in solid now and this weather will have frozen any boats water system if it hasn't been either drained or protected, There will be a lot of broken boats out there when the thaw comes. We have several boats out at the moment, one has abandoned his break and is leaving the boat until the thaw, worryingly we have not heard from our hire rs so they could be stuck anywhere!

I have had a good weekend down in Southampton which was no where near as cold as up here! I was very pleased upon my return to see that the new office and chandlery are looking superb, well done to everyone who has put loads of effort into making such a good job! Amanda has been busy today painting the floor in the chandlery and the walls in the office, Jay has not been on his usual cooking duties all day but has been going through the chandlery and having a good sort out, we have all been trying to stay in the warm, poor old Paul has been outside most of the day though, i hope he has a nice big fire to go home to, Mick has been on a break down to a 1.5 BMC that would not start, Lee has been putting the finishing touches to the boat that he is painting, i have to praise him as he does do a very good job.

We have a new name here now, his name is James, he has worked here once before on a work experience scheme and he Is now the replacement for Dean who has disappeared of the face of the planet!

While typing this Eddie from the fisheries which is a large trout pool just down the road has just popped in for his diesel for his generator and reported the the thermometer was reading -15 last night, I said it was going colder!

I will take some pictures tomorrow of the place covered in its snowy blanket (it was too cold this morning)

Until Tomorrow

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Brass monkey's!

It was certainly a cold one last night. Reports say that it dropped to -11°C (I can believe it!). I have never known our water to freeze within the buildings here at Norbury, but the only tap that seems to be producing water this morning is in Wharf Cottage.

That's the cottage that we do B&B in and also holiday lets. It's very popular during the summer months, but bookings do quieten down during the winter. It's really cosy in there with the oil fired central heating on and a fire roaring up the chimney whilst you look out over the canal basin and open fields.

The lanes are treacherous, so I very much doubt if we will be busy in the shop and tea room today, although saying that we have been in previous spells of bad weather!

Here's a couple of pictures that I took this morning before the sun was breaking through.

Well, we really did make good headway with the chandlery and the office yesterday and things are really coming together now. Mandy's doing sterling work sorting through a big pile of chandlery and putting it into some order on the shelves. We've had nothing but good comments from our customers that have been in since we started the refit, so for those of you that haven't managed to get to see us. Here's some of what your missing!

Firstly the new Chandlery Department...

Dedicated area for stoves, chimneys and accessories

And our new office!

Now there's just the dreaded yellow to get rid off. Whoever would of dreamt of painting walls yellow. I ask you, any colour but yellow! Must of been round the twist...

Simon told you about the new boat that was delivered by road on Thursday which came from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Well I need to get her advertised today, so keep an eye on our website for updates.

Paul's keeping busy out on the yard to keep warm! Steve is going to finish the shelves off in the office today and Mick's just off out to deliver some coal in Gnosall.

You'd be surprised how many coal deliveries we actually do by road as we do free delivery on ten bags or more within a ten mile radius. Our coal prices are advertised on our website here. We used to deliver by water too, but when I sold Hyperion back in February it left us without a carrying boat. I do miss coaling by boat, because even before I came to Norbury it was something that I did on a weekly basis throughout the winter.

Here's me steering the Midlands and Coast motor boat Jubilee loaded with 20 tonnes of domestic pre packed fuel for local distribution at Bugbrooke on the Grand Union Canal back in 2002.

'Tis time for breakfast now and a hot cup of coffee, then get some office work done!

Bye for now.


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Snowy Saturday

Well, it was a bit of a surprise when I got up this morning to see snow everywhere!

This was the scene as I walked down the arm this morning.

And this was the view from the bridge looking over the basin.

Some of the snow had defrosted earlier, but it has started to freeze hard again now (@ 15:50). Weather reports say that it is going to get down to -6°C tonight, which could make things a bit slippery for the morning!

We've been busy sorting the shop and office out today, it's really started to come together and will look the part!

Paul has been busy draining down our boats that aren't going out within the next two weeks and has left the heating running on the boats that are due to go out shortly to prevent burst pipes. The weather forecast is for these Arctic conditions to continue at least for another two weeks. That's something to look forward to... I must admit that I do like the snow and the ice to a certain extent, but it isn't any fun to be working or travelling in.

Working in ice and snow is something we have to take into consideration with all of our staff. It's so easy to slip on gunnels and land in icy cold water. So this slows jobs down, as it takes two people just to move a boat from A to B (that's something we do regularly!) in case one of them slips into the canal.


Friday, 26 November 2010

Bitterly cold Friday

It went really cold last night and it has been seriously cold here today, leaving home this morning it was -5 and it has not got above freezing all day but the sun has been shining. This weather plays havoc with the water taps on the wharf and the pump out hose thus making the turnarounds hard work, we have had four boat being collected today so poor old Fred has been very cold today doing his turnaround duties. Here are a couple of shots of the boats at 9.00 am this morning
The little springer is now water tight again as all the plating is complete, we have even managed to get a coat of black on it today, she will have another coat of black and then she will be lifted back into the water next week. Paul has been busy all day with draining the boats down as its going to be another cold night tonight.

The chandlery is looking more like a chandlery rather than a bomb site but the office is far from finished, more pictures once its looking a bit better.

I will have to stop typing as i cant feel my fingers now as David has turned the heater off as he is using the socket for his drill to put the new wall coverings up!! So until I'm off home, until Monday.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Freezing day

As the title suggests, its been freezing here today at Norbury and we now have ice on the canal!
Work has continued regardless and will do even when we have to start breaking the ice to move boats around, hopefully it wont freeze to hard just yet, the forecasters did say that it was on its way and they werent wrong!
Work on the office and chandlery is progressing and i reckon another couple of weeks and we should be sorted
Some of the owners of Sillhoutte came down today to check on the works to their boat and were more than happy with the progress
Lee has been busy putting on the top coats on to the boat in the dock and that is coming along nicely, it should all be finished by the middle of next week
The plating is nearly finished on the Springer and providing the snow keeps off we should have that blacked and finished by next week and back in the water and while all this was going on a new boat arrived today to be craned in to the water
this is another one to go on to brokerage to be sold, keep your eye on our website for the details. Im sat in the office just waiting for the alarm engineer to come and move the alarm box, everyone else has gone home now and its very quiet here all by my self. Until tomorrow. Simon

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


As the title suggests, its been mayhem for the last few days, we are having a re vamp and moving the office and chandlery around, its been a bit quiet aver the last couple of days which is a good thing considering the mess of the place, when its all done the place will be getting a new lick of paint and then some fresh stock ready for the new season, the picture opposite shows the new office still under construction, the yellow WILL be going!!!!Jay doing something other than cooking in the tea room, he does do a superb breakfast!

As you can see, the place needs some sorting out, hopefully it will be somewhere close by the weekend.

The weather has gone very cold and there was some ice on the canal this morning, i will take some photos tomorrow so watch this space,

Until tomorrow.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Very long day

This will be a short blog as we are all still hard at work and it is 9.00pm! It been a very busy day here at Norbury, we are having a massive change around, we are moving the office out of the poky little hole in the middle of the shop, moving the chandlery, moving the middle counter and till, it will make much more room for chandlery as we are improving our stock, making a bigger office and reception by moving it to where the chandlery used to be, in the process of all of this we are going to repaint the chandlery and new office, new carpet in the office, luxury ha? What it means for our customers is more reception space, more counter space, much better communication with staff and more chandlery for them to peruse! Come take a look in a few weeks and let me know what you think.

That's all from me for today


Sunday, 21 November 2010


If you didn't know it already, we are the cheapest retailers of diesel; at a boatyard, in the country!

Well you do now!!!

There has been much talk in the waterways press about the loss of what we know as red diesel and the wider spread use of bio diesel and/or a diesel mix to improve Britain's carbon foot print. The trouble with this is that the diesel will degrade over a period of months and will need to be "cleaned" to bring it back to life. Well our supplier has offered us a couple of options and as from last Friday we now stock "Ultra low sulphur red diesel". This does not need to be cleaned and the good news is that it is the same price as the diesel we used to stock. And, remember that we allow all of our customers to declare the percentage used for propulsion on each tank that is filled.

We also sell two types of diesel additive (Marine 16 and Fuel Set), which conditions the fuel and removes moisture, which means that it prevents or kills the dreaded Diesel Bug. We treat our tanks regularly and due to our high turn-over, this is never a problem for us. But, if your boat has been standing for long periods (particularly if your diesel tank is not full, which causes condensation therefore water contaminating the diesel), or you have picked up some "dirty fuel" from a retailer, it could be for you. So that means that we strongly suggest that you use an additive.

Our diesel is currently priced at 61.9 p per litre for domestic/heating use, but it does change weekly, to allow us to remain competitive.

Well I just dashed outside to take a picture of Empress exiting the arm and disappearing off up the canal and the camera battery died... That's Simon's fault for not putting it on charge when it's not being used - well you've got to blame somebody haven't you?

An hour or so has now passed by, so I've charged the camera battery and taken some shots for you!

This is the view across the basin this morning. Here we have Sylph and Sandpiper resting for the week, moored next to the boats for sale. We are busy with customers today, who are looking over the boats and coming into the office with lots of questions. The tea room is also busy. It is full to capacity at the moment with a cycle club taking refreshments before they pedal any further.

Here's the progress on the boat that is being plated.

Although it was Willoughby's turn to be docked this morning for pressure washing, blacking and some paintwork to take place, we have docked a boat for some rudder repairs. The rudder had come lose on the shaft, meaning that it was making steering very difficult! So the two boats are currently sat in the dock whilst Paul does the repairs. Once this is done, we will flood the dock, remove the other boat and re dock Willoughby so her works can take place.

Here's a couple of pictures for you.

There's a few boats passing by today, for pump outs, coal, diesel and gas - mainly our regulars. It's lovely this time of the year when there is less traffic on the cut and the water is clear. It nearly looks good enough to drink, although I wouldn't and suggest that you don't either! I also don't think you can beat the smell of the water when the dock is filling, it's the same smell you get where water is running over a weir or when you draw the 'centres' on the Grand Union when the locks empty. Some people probably think I'm odd, but if you have ever experienced it, you know what I mean.

Now I bet your all wondering what 'centres' are. Well that's the name boatmen call the gate paddles on the top gates of locks. I suppose it's because they are in the centre of the lock?

Here's a picture of Victoria and Stanton on the recent Jam 'Ole Run re-enactment at Stockers lock on the Grand Union showing the centres raised to fill the lock.

Well, I'm going to get on with some advertising now. Back over to Simon tomorrow. See you at the weekend!


Saturday, 20 November 2010

All go today!

Well although it has been a quiet today with passing traffic, it hasn't been for us!

It started this morning. I had to get two of the boats that we currently have for sale ready for prospective buyers to take out and test. They only go up to the winding hole at Grub Street, but it gives them a good feel for the boat. Unfortunately I didn't get to go out with them as it is more important for me to stay here and man the fort. So, it was time to hand over to Fred who did a sterling job. Upon their return a firm sale was agreed with the one boat, which means that Long in the Tooth is now Sold "subject to survey".

We've also turned Phoenix around and she has now gone out for two weeks hire with her new occupants aboard. Several of the shared owned boats have also been collected and set off for their next voyage.

Bernard and I have just lifted the new engine into the engine bay of Silhouette, here it is sat on a pallet on the forks of the tractor. Looking all sparkly, ready to serve many years as the motive power, charging and heating unit for Silhouette.

Mick has also nearly finished installing her new hob, grill and oven, which I will let you have a look at tomorrow once it is all in.

Jim's finished blacking Empress, which means that we will be flooding the dock in the morning ready for the next boat to go on.

The boat that we have on the bank that requires a new bottom, has had some good progress made on it over the last day or two. I just went to take a picture, but it's gone dark!

Talking about the weather, it's been another cloudy day here at Norbury, with very little wind. The sun didn't manage to break through once again, but at least the fog has cleared!

I'm off up to the Anchor at High Offley again tonight, but this time by boat - one has to get a boating fix when your craving for it you know!

Speak tomorrow.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Foggy Friday!

Well, we woke to thick fog this morning, although it did look like the sun was going to burn through at one point unfortunately it didn't and the fog has got even thicker now.

Another busy but uneventful day at Norbury!

We've turned four boats around today. Mick is busy installing a new hob, grill and oven on Silhouette. She is now at the stage to accept her new engine, which we will hopefully lift in tomorrow - I'll take some pictures so you can see. Steve's been busy making our new counter and office furniture as we are going to have a revamp next week. Bernard has had a couple of engine services to do and Simon has been up to the Chester area this afternoon to look at a boat and he hasn't made it back to the yard due to traffic, or he has sneaked off to the pub!!! :-P

I've had the chance to have a look at Empress on the dry dock this afternoon. She certainly is a beautiful shape and totally streamlined! Jim's busy with brush in hand blacking her as we speak.

Friday night, so I think its a quick drink in my local and back home for a take-away and a night in by the fire!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Busy day so far

Well Thursday has got off to a busy start, you can tell its winter as the shared boats are coming back in early! David and I have been making room on the wharf for their Impending return.

Sue off No Problem has cast her ropes off and has now disappeared in to the distance to try her new prop and see if it stops her 'prop walk' I remain sceptical! She had a bit of a lie in this morning and scared the hell out of me when she appeared at the window in nothing but here Pyjamas!! poor Old Vic! Just kidding Sue xx

Empress is all pressure washed and cleaned off and as i promised yesterday here are some pictures of the old girl, Empress that is and not Sue!

Empress is quite special as she is reputed to be the oldest surviving purpose built motor narrow boat in this country, she dates from 1887 and was originally a steamer for the former FMC (Fellows Morton Clayton The prop on this boat was 33 inches when she was in steam! that is one BIG prop. I rebuilt the boat over a few years between 1995 and 2000 the worked the boat for about three years before finally selling her to the current owner Jim Taylor who is doing a grand job of looking after her, and it is a pleasure to have her on the dock her at Norbury again.

I think we are becoming experts in the renovation of burnt out boats, here is the latest one to arrive and be lifted out of the water to have a full make over, this will be the third one that we have done in the last few years and is the second one this year, although this one is pretty bad and not only needs half a new cabin but will require two new sections of hull where it is badly buckled, Will keep you up to speed as and when things are taking shape, no rush with this one!

here is an old springer that we have started to plate, this one is about 20 years old and was only built of of thin steel in the first place so now it needs over plating, quite an easy job and should take about a week, well if the rain holds off, once completed it should last for another 20 years without any issues.

Mick is busy today, he has sorted out the leak on a shared boat and is now stuck in to the engine eclectics on another shared boat, Bernard is winterising Nebulae, Lee is still busy applying more paint to the one in the Wet dock, David, well David is doing what David does and i never quite know what that is most of the time but he does seem to get it done, what ever it is! and me well I'm typing a long blog today so i can stay in a nice warm office!!! Arr i have just remembered what David was doing, he has been rapping up a vintage engine that is being collected for delivery down to London, that reminds me we have another engine that has got to be palletised for delivery down to Southampton, i suppose i better go and sort that out.

Until tomorrow