Shop front in the summer

Saturday, 31 December 2011

The end of 2011

Well it's unbelievable to think that today is the last day of 2011 and tomorrow it will be 2012. A lot of water has passed under the bridge (literally). The past year hasn't been a bad one for the majority of us, but lets hope that the next one is even better. I for one hope that this country can pull it's way out of the current recession and our economy begins to grow once again.

It's been a bitsa day today, but we have managed to get Aquamarine out of the paintdock. She sits proud sporting her new lettering and Sovereign Lady has now gone in. Here's a picture for you.

Bernard has been cracking on with engine servicing, Mick with gas and Fred has been helping me most of the day - so I'm exhausted now!! Joyce and Ange have both been busy all day, mainly in the tea room and answering telephone calls etc.

All the best for 2012. Happy New Year.



Friday, 30 December 2011

Happy New year

As I am not in over the weekend I wont get the chance to say


All the very best and I hope you all have a very good 2012 boating season

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Vile day!

What a horrible day today has been, its been wet, windy and cold, a direct contrast to yesterdays wonderful weather here at Norbury, I thought as I sat in the office that we would be dead quiet today and to be honest it has been quietish , however we did sell a boat so things are not all that bad!

We have seen a few people in today to get essential supplies like diesel and coal and quite a few people looking at the boats that we currently have for sale, some of the lads have been in today, Bernard has been finishing off the fitting of a new gearbox and engine servicing, Fred has pretty much been varnishing all day on different boats while Matt has been painting in the warmth of the wet dock, Cheryl has been in looking after the tea room although given the poor weather today she hasn't seen too many customers which has given her chance to get the floor painted in the chandlery, we have had a change around again in the chandlery and I dont know how we manage it but we have more room and more shelf space and we got rid of a section of shelving, it doesn't make sense other than we are becoming more efficient in how we are displaying our stock, new year is fast approaching and just to remind you that we are only closed on new years day and we have changed our opening times for the days leading up to and just after so check out our website for the opening times.

That's it from me for yet another day.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


What happened to Christmas, no soon as we broke up we were back at work, I had a nice family Christmas and I hope you all had a nice one too what ever you were doing. Well its back to work as I said and nothing changes except that the weather is superb, blue skies and sun, its very windy here today but at least its not raining and mores the point it ain't frozen like it was this time last year.

We have been busy today, we are still on a skeleton staff as we have people on holiday so you do tend to feel it a bit more, we have had a day boat out this morning and a cracking day they have had, we have un docked Pippin and docked two private boats for blacking, we have also put yet another boat in to the painting dock for Matt to weave his magic and make it look new again, Bernard has been kept busy making an engine fit and engine bay after fitting a new differnt gearbox yesterday, Fred has also been busy with varnishing one of our hire boats internals, Angela has been kept busy in the tearoom with a steady stream of customers and I have been kept busy with the usual day to day stuff and moving boats around, we have that many boats here in the winter that when we dock boats it is like one of those square puzzles where you move one block so that you can move another, it takes three times as long to dock boats at this time of year just because of moving boats out of the way and then moving them back again, we really could do with more space, I bet most boat yards say the same!

That's it from me for today, so until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


that noise is all i have heard today from people wanting to be fed and watered in the tea room.
hi everyone, i hope you all had a good christmas and didn't eat or drink too much.
as the title suggests we have been busy here at norbury today, there has only been me, mick and bernard here and the tea room has been really busy with cyclists and walkers. mick has also been busy on the wharf with diesel, pump outs and bottles of gas, so all in all we have not had time to be bored. mick has had to come and do the washing up for me as i couldn't keep up (sorry simon, but i couldn't), everyone who has been into the tea room today wanted feeding, unfortunately i could only do toasted sandwiches or cold sandwiches as when i switched the cooker on this morning we were plunged into darkness, i did try again but the same thing happened but no one went away disappointed i'm glad to say.
bernard has been working on the engine on pippin, i haven't seen much of him today so he hasn't been making the usual nusiance of himself.
it will be back to normal tomorrow and i'm sure simon will fill you in, if he doesn't i will, so until next time byyyyeeeeeeeeeee ange.

Friday, 23 December 2011

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.

I just can’t believe that it is nearly Christmas. It doesn’t seem twelve months ago that we were sitting here saying the same thing last year. I think that the majority of us will be dashing around the supermarkets tomorrow to get the final bits and pieces, and be putting the last of the preparations together for Christmas Day.

I’d just like to say that we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, that’s not just from me, but from all of the team here at Norbury. It is a pleasure to work with such great friends and customers alike and we thank you greatly for your continued support.

Although you may see us around from time to time over the next few days (we just can’t keep away you know), please don’t forget that we are actually now closed until Tuesday. Here are our opening hours for the next week – just incase you haven’t spotted them around the yard or on our website.

Saturday 24th December - CLOSED
Sunday 25th December - CLOSED
Monday 26th December - CLOSED
Tuesday 27th December - 10.00am to 4.00pm
Wednesday 28th December - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Thursday 29th December - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday 30th December - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Saturday 31st December - 8.30am to 4.30pm
Sunday 1st January - CLOSED
Monday 2nd January - 9.00am to 4.00pm

Have a good one.

Best regards,


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

What a lovely day

Its amazing to think that today is the shortest day, we are now on our way towards spring time, roll on those lovely long days, We have been blessed with the weather this winter though and today has been amazing, its been like a spring day today here at the wharf, the sun was seriously warm today out side, its just a shame that it has gone dark by 4 o'clock in the afternoon!

Its been another quietish day, no boats on the move but then I suspect that people are now tied up for Christmas in their favourite spot, Fred and Bernard have docked Pippin today for its winter hull clean and blacking, its a new hire boat to us and the first time we have seen her out of the water and I am very pleased indeed with her condition, she is in excellent condition and only requires the minimum of attention, Matt has nearly finished the painting on Phantasy and Quartz so they have now had a new lease of life for yet another season, Bernard has carried on with engine servicing and I have been out moving boats and going through them to make sure that the ones that are going out this week are all fine, we are definitely winding down for the Christmas break, Steve has gone on his holidays, Mick is on his days off, Graham is off today and David is off so it does seem very quiet indeed, Cheryl and Julian have arrived back safe and sound with the new boat to go up for sale so keep your eyes on our website for its details, its called heather Belle.

Finally thanks to Fred and Lisa Webster who are good customers and an avid readers of this blog for sending us a lovely Christmas card, Merry Christmas to you too.

That's it from me for another day.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

The title could be the title of a Christmas hit single? but I think it represents what it has been like on the wharf today, Everyone must be out doing their Christmas shopping as it has been dead around Norbury today, one boat on the wharf for diesel and a hand full of people in for diesel and coal and that's about the lot, Even Angela has been quiet, at one stage I had to nudge her as her snoring was keeping me awake......................................................................only kidding, I wasn't asleep!

All of the lads have been busy today, Fred blacking, Bernard engine servicing, Mick doing gas tests, some plumbing and looking at one of our very good customers poorly gas cookers on his boat(its terminal) and Matt has been cracking on with touching up the paint work on Phantasy and Quartz in the wet dock, Cheryl and Julian are on their way back to us with yet another boat that is to go up for sale and I have been catching up on paperwork, advertising and many other jobs besides, I sometimes wonder when we are busy how on earth do we manage to get everything done and dusted in our day as even when it is quiet like it is now we still only manage to get everything done!

Anyway that's it from me for today, sorry for the lack of blog yesterday, I was out delivering Julian and Cheryl but I will try my hardest tomorrow to muster up some interesting stuff.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


It was another chilly one last night, that left the roads a bit treacherous for the journey to work this morning. We opened up and the poor old Landy wasn’t having any of it. Her battery has eventually died. It just goes to show that this cold weather will soon expire a slightly tired battery! Mick soon got that sorted and towed the advertising boat upto the end of the lane.

It’s amazing the amount of interest that the boat generates. It has been seen by hundreds (possibly of thousands) of people around this area and at the rallies/shows that we have taken it to. Most people that I talk to have seen or heard of it. I suppose it’s quite unique and at the end of the day, that was the purpose of building it – to show what we can do at Norbury.

Talking of boat building I have added a new page to the website today – “Welding and Fabrication”. I will expand it as and when I get more pictures, but it certainly shows what we can offer. Please visit the page HERE.

Matt came in this morning to just finish a couple of bits and pieces off on Pippin which allowed Mick and I to swap the boats in the dock just after lunch. It is unfortunate that we don’t have more waterspace (we’d probably fill that aswell!) as it takes sometime to shuffle all of the boats into position to access the dock. It was certainly cold moving the boats around and the ropes were all frozen. My gloves kept my hands warm until they got wet.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Pippin in all of her glory. She is still due to go on the dock and there are some internal works to complete, but she does look well in our livery.

Just to show how cold it has been today, I captured this picture of the view down the arm at about 3pm which shows that the ice on the canal hadn’t melted.

Lorraine has been giving the cottage a spring clean, so Ange has been manning the tea room. There were quite a crowd in over lunchtime, but it’s a vast difference to those summer days…

I can’t believe that in a weeks time it will be Christmas Day, it doesn’t feel like five minutes ago that we were celebrating Christmas last year.

I’m off down to Stoke Bruerne after work for a Christmas Party in the Indian restaurant located adjacent to the top lock. Stoke is a place that I have a real soft spot for. When I was young I used to insist that we tied there for atleast one night when we were passing through. We used to visit the Boat Inn and have a game of Northamptonshire skittles - which I have some great memories of. In my teens I spent many hours there working on a number of different boats and I also lived there for a short while before coming to Norbury. If I ever move back onto the bank, I think it will have to be at Stoke Bruerne

Have a good week and lets keep our fingers crossed that the weather is going to warm up somewhat (that’s what the five day forecast says anyway).

Best regards,


Saturday, 17 December 2011


I went to visit some friends in Penkridge on my way home last night. By the time I headed back onto the A5 it had dropped below freezing and upon arriving home the cabin top of the boat was frozen solid. Listening to the weather forecast and looking at the weather conditions I feared the worst for traveling this morning, but I was quite surprised when I awoke to rain pitter pattering on the cabin top. When I took Annie out for a walk I soon realized that the temperature hadn’t actually risen that much and although it was raining, the roads still had a thin skim of ice on them. I got to work without a hitch although one corner between Gnosall and Norbury was a bit hair raising. As the other staff arrived this morning they all had stories to tell about sliding in the ice. Poor Ange did a nice pirouette in the village and Graham virtually went straight on into the field by the church. Bernard had actually driven through several inches of snow to get here and Fred thought that his tyres need more air in because he couldn’t keep control!

It has snowed a couple of times during the day, but it’s not too bad at the moment. Let’s hope it warms up a bit…

Fred and I undocked Monarch this morning and docked Sovereign Lady for her annual inspection and blacking. I was a bit unfortunate whilst we were moving boats around and managed to get a rope caught in the blades (propeller). I really don’t know how I did it and it was the first time ever! It just shows how easy it can happen. Fred was the only one to see it happen and yes, I did have my tail between my legs. I subsequently had to suffer putting my hands into icy cold water to get it off again. All I could think is “trainee”. Just shows that we can all make mistakes (occasionally!). I personally blame the rope, but I won’t make any long-winded excuses as it was my fault!

Fred has subsequently pressure washed Sovereign Lady. Bernard has drained the dayboats down and has been servicing the engine on Monarch. Mick has drained the motorhomes down and plugged them in to keep the batteries topped up and the cabins aired with the heaters on low. And Graham has been making yet more deckboards and has also fitted Pippin up in the dock. Lorraine has manned the tearoom and has been cleaning in the cottage. Ange has been making curtains for Pippin and doing office work.

Let’s hope the driving conditions are a bit better tomorrow morning.

All the best.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Cranes, waggons and boats

High winds and heavy snow were forecast over night last night, so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning and peered out of the porthole to find it drizzling with rain. I must say that I was somewhat relieved! By the time I was just a few miles from Norbury the snow had started to fall and upon arriving at Norbury it was white over. I'm pleased to say that it seemed to disappear as quick as it came, but it has now turned bitterly cold. Let's hope that we are as lucky tonight...

There seems to have been a hive of activity here at Norbury today. Everything always seems to happen at once! By the time the flat bed arctic and crane arrived; to transport the 57 foot boat that we have had on hard standing here for sometime, to her new home near Blythe Bridge, the diesel tanker, gas waggon and septic tank waggon also arrived, which caused what you could call "organised chaos"! I am sure that it gave the spectators across on the towpath something to talk about in the pub tonight...

Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of us craning as Fred and I were hanging on to a rope attached to each end of the boat respectively, but I did manage to get one once it was loaded, so here you go.

Graham has been manufacturing deck boards and tidying up some tatty edged ones along with welding the stem post up on Monarch. Unfortunately the hire boats do suffer some knocks and bangs throughout the season. Although the stem posts (that's the very front of the boat where the side plates meet) are of robust design they can split if they hit a stationary object; such as a cill in a lock, hard enough and at the wrong angle.

Fred has blacked Monarch, helped me with craning and been doing his normal duties around the yard, whilst Bernard has been servicing Phantom's engine. He has done quite alot of work on her. The engine is the easiest to get to, so if you have been around the yard in the last couple of days you may have heard him chuntering whilst he folds himself up to get to the engine.

Mick has been carrying on with the gas certificates for the boats and completing some work on Princess attributed to the Boat Safety Certificate.

Ange has been busying herself with making curtains and Lorraine has been doing some cleaning on the boats and around the yard.

Have a good evening and I'll catch you tomorrow.

Best regards,


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Too busy

The title doesn't reflect the amount of customers that we have seen but it does explain why I missed writing the blog last night, I was just too busy yesterday to write it up, I am only kidding about customers as yesterday and today has seen many more people around, its getting colder so people are stocking up on winter fuels, the weather although cold has been very nice indeed and we have been blessed with bright sunshine for the last couple of days, a stark contrast to this time last year which saw us plunged in to temperatures more akin to the Antarctic.

As I said it has been a busy couple of days on the wharf, and the lads have all been busy as well, Fred with blacking and pressure washing boats, painting deck board edges as well as delivering coal to some of our regular customers, Bernard has been winter engine servicing, Steve has been tidying up the moorings before he disappears abroad for his holidays, Graham has been making new deck boards and re edging some of the existing ones on the hire fleet while Matt has been putting the finishing touches on to Pippin which is our latest addition to the hire fleet, it has been painted in our fleet colours of grey, black and red and it looks superb, as I write this blog it is in the process of having its sign writing done by our sign writer, I am sure that David will post a picture of it when it comes out of the dock on Sunday, Matt has also been out today to another boatyard to deliver some parts for an engine for one of the boats that was on its way back to us to be sold but it didn't make it!

That's it from me for another day

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Just another cold damp day in December

I think a big well done is in order to David for his first attempt at the lock video and getting it on to the net, it is his first attempt and it does need a little bit of tweaking and maybe some music or even better a Bollinder in the distance with its rhythmic beat, thanks for your constructive comments left so far, if David hasn't seen them I will make sure he does, watch this space or indeed our website for more videos to come in the not too distant future I hope.

Well it ain't far off Christmas now and only 12 days to go but it seems to be getting quieter the closer we get, although saying that, yesterday we had boats queuing on the wharf for services so you never can predict what is going to happen, I have said before that Tuesdays are quiet days; The days are really getting short and the weather is really starting to turn vile, as I sit and write this blog it is throwing it down and the wind is blowing a right hooley,it is gusting that hard the tiles are rattling on the roof and the doors are creaking, it has been hailing today and the temperature has dropped severely, the lads that have been working out side have given up early as they cant feel their fingers!

Freddie and Bernard docked a boat first thing for blacking and Windsor which is one of our new hire boats came off the dock looking refreshed after having been blacked, Freddie delivered a bit of coal to some of the local boaters and then pressure washed the boat on the dock while poor old Bernard finished off the service on an engine and then looked for a small problem on Debdale which is one of the shared boats that we look after, it appears to have developed a problem of oil/water emulsification in the engine, as yet he cant find the cause of it and I am now wondering if someone hasn't accidentally put some oil somewhere they shouldn't, tomorrow will see us running the engine up to temperature too see if it occurs again.

Anyway that's it from me for today, I am going to go and do battle with the wind, I just hope there are no trees down on my way home.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


I was amazed to wake up this morning to find that we hadn't had a frost and that all the ice that had formed last evening had melted. Driving to work the thermometer was reading 5°C which is a bit different to yesterday morning. By lunchtime it began to rain persistently and as yet it hasn't stopped.

We certainly need the rain to top the reservoirs up that feed the canal. I was talking to a Waterways employee who is working on water control at the moment. He was explaining that the majority of the reservoirs are still desperately short of water. Now is the time of the year that the reserves need to be built up to avoid water shortages and stoppages through the warmer months. I know it's not much fun squelching up the towpath, knee deep in mud to get the next lock ready, but we really shouldn't complain about the rain. It's one of the key factors that keeps the canal system usable.

I've taken a few pictures around and about today. Here's Pippin in the middle of her make over. The red will form the coach line and handrail. Once masked up, the main panel and kick panel colours can be added which will turn her out resplendent in our grey, black and red livery.

Down in the dry dock Windsor is patiently waiting to be flooded off of the dock following being blacked. Bernard took advantage of her being out of the elements yesterday and serviced the engine. Mick has been on her today to do her Landlord's certificate. Every boat that is used by more than one party (ie. not privately owned) has to be certificated by a Gas Safe engineer each year. Mick is our Gas Safe engineer and he basically has to ensure that the boat's gas system is sound, that there are no leaks and that all the gas appliances (boiler, cooker etc.) are functioning correctly. This entails a service of each appliance and a gas test which takes him approximately one day.

We are always limited on space, but even more so at this time of the year. You may find that when you are passing we are shuffling boats about. Here is a view looking up the arm from the dry dock towards the basin this morning. It takes alittle bit of working out to ensure that the boats are in the correct place for ease of getting the next one on the dock.

I'm getting well into writing in code now. I made a video back in the summer, very simple I know - but it's my first time at that too! Now I have been struggling to publish it to our website, but the more I read about code and embedding objects, the more I understand! What a learning curve it is and certainly not a five minute job... I just need to work out how to add some background music now to make it a bit more jolly. I'm sure it will be of interest to those of you that have never worked a lock. Let's see if I can embed it into the blog too! (here goes everything!)...

Well it looks like it's going to be a cold and damp evening. So, I suggest that you sit with your feet up by the fire and look forward to what this week may bring. That will certainly be what I shall do!

Have a good week.

Best regards,


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cat ice...

As I was driving into work this morning the thermometer in the car was reading between -3°C and 0°C. It was certainly a sharp frost that we had in the night. Although the trees and the countryside look really pretty following a good freeze, it isn't the best weather to be working in. Upon arriving at Norbury I was amazed to see the first signs of "Cat Ice" on the canal. Now that does mean that winter really has arrived with avendeance! I managed to catch a picture before the sun melted it or a boat broke through it which would disperse it into little fragments.

It has remained cool most of the day, but I'm hoping that it won't freeze too hard again tonight.

Phoenix returned this morning with regular customers and avid readers of this blog; Fred and Lisa Webster, aboard. I'm glad that you both had a really enjoyable couple of weeks on Phoenix and I hope that you have a safe trip back up to Scotland after the weekend. Speak soon...

The lads have all been getting on with the winter works on the fleet, which are progressing well. Unfortunately the girls are slightly held up with the cleaning as Pippin is having a full paint job in the wet dock. There's little point in giving the boats a deep winter (spring?) clean if they are going to get dusty again whilst they are in the dock. Pippin will be leaving the dock a week tomorrow and then we should be able to turn the other boats around much quicker, giving the girls some boats to clean.

That's it from me this evening.

Best regards,


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Windy or what

This wind plays havoc when you are boating maybe that explains why we have seen no boats moving today, I see from the weather reports today that Scotland have had gusts of up to 150MPH I really hope it doesn't start to blow like that down here, It has been blowing bad enough today!

Is it me or does it seem really dark in the morning and it doesn't seem to get much brighter throughout the day and come about three o'clock it goes dark again, I know we shouldn't wish our lives away but roll on spring time when the nights start drawing out, not many days left now until the shortest day!

Its been a very quiet day today, virtually no one around, we have all been busy though, the lads sorting jobs on the wharf, and my two uncles and my dad in the holiday cottage sorting out the central heating, it has been steadily getting worse for the last couple of years so they have come to sort it out and it looks like they have done it, a simple case of flushing the system through and fitting a pressure vessel and hey presto, a cottage that now gets really hot!

I might not be around tomorrow to do the blog as I have to gown down the smoke to look at a boat so if I don't make it back in time I hope you all have a pleasant weekend, I hope the snow that they have forecast stays away and I hope you don't all get blown away with the wind.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Fame on the wharf

Yesterday a moorer of ours came in to pay his moorings and unbeknown to me he has a claim to fame, he once did a TV talent show, he posted the YouTube link on our Face book page, well yesterday he also showed off a bit of his talent, he is very good, I didn't realise that he had also done it in the summer on the wharf and entertained some of the tea room customers, here is a link if anyone should be interested.

If you see Dave around Norbury I am sure he would be only to glad to do turn for you and I do hope that we see him perform again in the summer, he might even have a regular spot and a summers day!

Its been another sunny but very cold day here today, no frost last might but the wind today is bracing to say the least, I wouldn't fancy boating today! Tied up today with a roaring fire would be the best thing I reckon, don't forget that we are fully stocked with winter fuels, make sure you are also fully stocked up, don't get caught out!

We had to collect a boat today for a customer and bring it down to Norbury for some work to be done, I dropped one of our local boat owners off to steer it back for us and then preceded to drive back my self, I thought I would take a slight detour past the Anchor pub but was stopped by two official looking people, they informed me that the bridge was closed due to a burst pipe, well I was amazed when I took a look. the bridge underneath was like a giant colander, there was water coming from every crack in the mortar and brick work, it was a right sorry sight, they informed me that BWB had been up earlier in the day and done nothing about it, then then informed me that the canal would need to be closed at the bridge for safety reasons, the boat managed to nip through before any official closure took place, if you are intending on coming on to the Shroppie I would phone BWB to make sure that all is OK.

That's it from me for today.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Being Prepared

Its all in the preparation! A successful cruise in the winter is all about preparing yourself and the boat, firstly and the most obvious is to make sure that the steerer is wearing proper winter clothing, you often see people just wearing a jacket and jeans, the cold can be debilitating and when you are stood for several hours steering a boat in the cold it can be very tiring as well, even if you are lucky enough to have a roaring back cabin fire by your feet! I find that sailing gear is great and really keeps the wind out as well as the cold, when I boat in the winter I also wear wet weather leggings as you can guarantee that every lock your bum comes in to contact with will be wet, and a good pair of gloves is a must! Preparing the boat is something that most people take for granted but if done properly then it should perform without any issue, a winter engine service is a good idea and a clean set of fuel filters should be top of the list as well as making sure that the batteries are in tip top condition, the cold weather plays havoc with a poor set of batteries and will reduce there capacity very quickly, make sure you have full gas bottles, full water tank, empty toilet tank and plenty of supplies as you never know where you might end up being stuck, taking a few simple steps will enhance the winter boating experience and not make it a night mare.

Today started off very cold again, the car was covered in ice this morning and so was the car park at work, the canal isn’t frozen over as yet but another couple of nights of sub zero temperatures will I am sure start the canal freezing over, it needs to be very cold indeed before any significant amount of ice will form on the canal and hinder the navigation, lets hope we don’t have a repeat of last years weather, by this time last year we had several inches of ice on the 'cut' and that pretty much stopped all navigation up here on the 'Shroppie'

This weather does start to slow down the progress that the lads are making with regards to working on the boats but the sun shining does make it a little more bearable and today the sun has shone all day so although it has been a cold day at least it hasn’t been a miserable wet and windy day and the lads have all cracked on with maintenance on the boats.

I see that David has done a Facebook link, a 'like' button on our websites and also reinstated the Twitter page, well done David, I know it wasn’t easy, hopefully it will all help to improve our exposure and widen our audience, so everyone out there, try and help us out by clicking on any of our links, it really helps with pushing us up the Google listing.

That’s it from me for today, I hope you all keep warm tonight, its gonna be another cold one!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Another fine day

It might be another fine day but my God it is cold, I think this morning was the first time this year that my windscreen was frozen over solidly, it rained in the night and then the temperature must have really dropped because the ice on my windscreen was frozen rain rather than frost, I have to say that we are doing really well with the weather this year, I know I have said it before but as I write today's blog the sun is streaming through the office window and apart from the cold temperatures outside and lack of customers in any great volume you would think its a summers day!

Its been a busy one today, we have had an amazing amount of people either in or on the phone about some of the boats that we currently have up for sale, is the market starting to pick up, or is it just one of those things? What ever the reason it has been nice after a lull in the enquiries! The lads that are in have all been very busy with either winter maintenance or private jobs, I had to nip out to do the banking and collect a new hose for our mini digger, Steve broke it on Saturday, talking of Steve he has just returned with the boat that Cheryl and Julian should have returned with yesterday, poor old Steve has said that it is the worst night he has ever had, no bed on the boat, a stove that was not very good, an engine that needed some nursing and flat batteries, this is the first bit of boating that he has done and it may well nearly be the last!

That's it from me for today

Sunday, 4 December 2011

I've done it at last!

It has taken me several weeks to work out the "code" for liking a page on our website, but I have succeeded today. It didn't take five minutes so I don't actually feel like I have achieved that much today, but I suppose I have really! I am so glad that it has worked. Once I had done that I had to go even better and put a "Join our group" button in the right hand border. I have also reinstated our twitter account that I had allowed sit dormant for virtually twelve months. So I now expect you all to be in regular communication, be it either e-mailing, commenting via this blog, adding a comment on Facebook or tweeting!

It is now my intention to share our blog everyday using these excellent social platforms to allow us to reach a much wider audience and let people know whats happening in and around Norbury. I am sure that it will take some explaining to Simon, so it could be an entertaining week - but I will get him there eventually.

It's amazing to think that when I came here over six years ago there was only one computer linked to the internet with a dodgy "dial-up" modem. We now have a integrated network running five computers. We have got a open Wi-Fi connection in the tearoom (which covers the tearoom, shop and wharf area), one in the office and the latest addition was another open connection in Wharf Cottage (which on a good day is accessible from the far-side of bridge 38). This has really brought Norbury into the 21st century and we are looking to improve on it all the time, but it obviously takes time, effort and money.

So what has been happening in Norbury?

It's been a damp old afternoon noon today. Steve has been dispatched upto Adderley to meet Julian and Cheryl who are fetching a brokerage boat back. Unfortunately they haven't made as much progress as they intended due to a slight problem with the charging system that meant that Mick had to go out to them this morning at Hurleston to rectify. They need to be back on their own boat at Norbury this evening as Julian is working away next week. So they will come back in the vehicle that Steve has gone to meet them in and he will sleep on the boat and do the last leg of the trip in the morning. Logisitics of boat moving can be hard work and this one has certainly proved that.

The owners of The Arkenstone have driven down from Scotland to collect their boat and return it to it's home mooring. They are over-the-moon with how she looks. It was interesting to hear that they have come down through snow for the first hundred miles - it must be on it's way!

Lorraine has been reasonably busy in the tearoom, but she has been helping Ange with going through all of the stock in the chandlery to ensure that it is all priced and is actually displaying the correct price.

Mick has been plodding on with the winter maintenance once he returned from Hurleston and Matt has been painting Pippin. I'll get a photograph of the progress so far tomorrow for Simon to put on his blog.

I hope that you all have a good week and I will look forward to talking to you again next weekend.

Best regards,


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Norbury on tour!

As Simon explained yesterday, it was our staff party last night.

We started with pre-night out drinks in Wharf Cottage at Norbury. The taxi driver had to join us too as he was half an hour early. We then made the journey to a Casino in Hanley where we enjoyed a three course meal, followed by the chance to play on the roulette, black jack and poker tables. There were also other card games going on around us aswell as electronic gaming machines. It was a good atmosphere, complimented by the rather interesting singer/cabaret (no Lorraine wasn’t on top form at that point!).

I think that everyone that did do a bit of dabbling (sorry gambling) actually came away with as much (or more) than what they went with.

I wanted to get some pictures, but unfortunately I didn’t catch that many good shots, but here is a collection of some of the better ones.

Lorraine certainly kept us uplifted in the minibus on the way back to Norbury with her own rendition of “Que Sara Sara”! She really should think about auditioning for the X factor as she would keep thousands of entertained.

All-in-all a good night was had by all, but we have all been a bit slow at work today. So I too will apologise if any of our customers think that we weren’t our normal selves…

I think we will all be in for an early night tonight.

Best regards,


Friday, 2 December 2011


I will apologise in advance for any of the guys and gals who are in tomorrow and might seem a little 'slow' if you should see any of them , the reason for this is I am taking them all out tonight for our Christmas party, we normally do something really boring like go to a local pub, we eat to much, drink to much and usually fall asleep but this year we are all of to a casino for a meal, some entrainment and maybe a flutter on the roulette wheel or a game of cards, what ever we get up to it will be a good night and fun will be had by all, it will be an interesting evening as my partner is also having her Christmas party at the same place at the same time so a bunch of nurses and us lot will make a unusual combination!

Its been a fab day today weather wise, it is like winter has finally arrived, i awoke this morning to a hard crisp frost and upon my arrival at work the boats were all covered in a hard frost, temperatures were down to -4 at seven o'clock so they would have been much lower in the early hour, if any of you haven't winterised your boats then now would be a good idea, all of the lads have been busy out on the boats today, Graham is back at work now so good progress has been made around the place, I have been out all day, dropping people off to collect boats that are due in for brokerage, but upon my return the guys in the office have told me that it has been a very busy day back at the ranch!

That's it from me for today, David will no doubt keep up entertained over the weekend.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The sun has got its hat on...........................

hip hip hip horray................................. What a glorious morning it started out to be and I am glad to say that it has remained so all day, blue skies, no wind and not even that cold considering its the last day in November! Wouldn't it be fantastic if it stayed like this all winter? Winter boating when it is like this is just superb, Steve is working well on the moorings today and he is complaining that he is getting sun burnt, You just cant win with the weather in this country.

Its been a busy one here today, I suspect the good weather has helped, Angela has been down in the tea room as well as looking after her other admin jobs as Lorraine is off today, Bernard has been up to his usual tricks and down in the engine rooms of several boats as well as docking a boat with Freddie while Matt has been applying paint on the boat in the wet dock, that's it as Graham is still off, Micky is off and of course David is off too.

That's it from me for another day

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Well after yesterdays temperatures I thought that I would open the curtains this morning and see snow, the opposite in fact, it was really nice, the temperature in the car was 10 degrees, what is going on with this weather, later on this morning the wind picked up, good God it has blown a gale all afternoon, bins flying across the wharf, chairs and tables flying around, it nearly took Cheryl off her feet (she is only little) later on this afternoon it started to rain, at one point when I glanced out of the window the rain was horizontal and I swear it was snowing! I suppose compare to this time last year we are doing well as it was a foot deep in snow with temperatures in the region of -20 bbbrrrrr that was cold then!

Its been a much quieter day today than yesterday but I do find that Tuesdays are generally quiet, David is off so is Angela which has left me and Cheryl to look after things in the tea room and the office,Amazingly we have had a day boat out today, poor people as the weather has not been kind to them at all, it came back early as well and I don't blame them! Bernard and Fred are back in today, that usually provides plenty of entertainment, they have been cracking on with different jobs on boats as well as delivering coal to some local customers, Matt has been preparing in the paint dock again, Mick has also been on several different boats while poor old Steve was working on the moorings, he did cut it Short however once the rain came down, he looked like a drowned rat when he went home.

Talking of home that's it from me for today, I have a nice roaring fire to get back to!

Monday, 28 November 2011


I don't always believe what I read in the papers or what I hear on the news, when it comes to the economic climate really think that a lot of it is media hype and it can quickly lead to peoples confidence in the country being knocked, this can then lead on to a false impression of what is happening, I always try to keep an open mind, however while I was out today it is evident that we are in difficult times, not only have we noticed a slight down turn in our trade but looking our local town of Newport I was amazed at the lack of people out and about, I went out to do the banking and it was dead, I also noticed the amount of shops that were shut or in the process of closing down, you would think that it is a sign of the times, what I don't understand is according to government figures there are more and more people out of work and less jobs out there to be filled, however we have been advertising for a new engineer now for months, we did the same thing last year and had no takers, we did find someone but he was through my own contacts and was being made redundant from somewhere else, this time we can not find anyone that wants an engineering job, its not the end of the world as the hew person is not to replace anyone but is an addition to our team! If any one starts going on about not being able to get a job then tell them to look harder, I know of other people who are actively seeking new employess who cant find any!

The winter seems to have arrived today, although the temperature reading on the car was only 3 degrees it has seemed a lot colder out there today, I was out side this morning with David moving some boats around, Windsor, which is the last of the new hire fleet to arrive and a 57 footer that has come in to be put up for sale, take a look at our website for her details, she is called Lilly Jo and is not very old, We have been quite busy in one way or another today, mainly in the office, the tea room has obviously been quiet but the phones have been keeping us busy in between our normal jobs, Mick has had a varied day on several different boats and Matt has been preparing one of our new hire boats for a complete colour change, that has been the total of the work force today as its Bernard's day off, Fred's day off and Graham ended up going to hospital.

That's it from me for today.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


I dined yesterday evening on a friend’s boat. In the background the television was on which caught our eye from time-to-time. It’s always the way isn’t it? If the television is on, then you just can’t help watching it, in company or not! Anyway, the weather forecast came on and they were giving severe weather warnings for high winds. Well I must say that they certainly weren’t wrong. The boats were bashing together all night long in the lay-by, meaning that the plates that hang on my back cabin curtains were rattling all night. I nearly got up at one point and took them all down, but as there are 30 odd of them it wouldn’t of been a five minute job. Upon arriving at Norbury I spent a good half an hour picking chairs, tables, bins (and their contents) and general stuff up from all over the yard. It settled down by about mid-day, but I have just come in from outside and it has seemed to have gone mighty cold!

I’m sorry that there I didn’t put a blog entry on yesterday, but it’s difficult to find something to write about everyday, this time of year, now that we have been plunged into the winter. Although work is progressing on the winter maintenance on the fleet, nothing “exciting” tends to happen to inspire us to write a long and interesting blog entry. I do know that we have comments that even the mundane daily chores of ours are of interest to outsiders and people that spend much of their time working in the “city”! So, we do honestly try hard to be inspired.

We had four boats come back yesterday, which Fred dually turned around for the next time that they go out. One of the reasons that we do this is that it’s never a good idea to leave their fuel tanks virtually empty, as this increases the chances of condensation, fuel contamination and the likelihood of the Diesel Bug. We also pump the toilet holding tanks out, due to the fact that the sediment will settle to the bottom of the tank making the tanks incredibly difficult to pumpout, flush out and keep clean. It also gives us a chance to look over the boats and if there are any problems, they can be identified and rectified before the boats are next used.

Phoenix was collected by Mr and Mrs Webster, they are regulars here at Norbury and avid blog readers. I do hope that they have a good fortnight away and that the ice doesn’t impound them whilst they are away from Norbury.

Graham was busy putting a new complete stern gear into the boat that we currently have on the dock. He has also now finished plating the one-side of our new dayboat Bounty.

This is how the steel prior to overplating, that deemed it necessary!

And this is how it looks this evening.

Mick has been getting on with the winter maintenance on the fleet, though today he has been putting all the external fittings back onto The Arkenstone. She now needs an internal clean and she will be ready for the customer to collect. Here’s a rather late picture taken this evening of her in all of her glory. I think that you will quite rightly agree that she looks splendid.

The tea room has quietened right off now, but Lorraine did have a busy spell earlier, when she had to call on Ange’s assistance as she virtually had a queue out the door and food orders coming out of her ears. It’s so difficult to plan how busy we are going to be, and to be honest I expected it to be very quite this morning due to the wind in the early hours of the morning, but it just shows how wrong you can be!

Anyway, it’s time to get locked up before all of the light has disappeared.

Until next time.

Best regards,


Friday, 25 November 2011

It's been a steady day today.

Mick and Bernard have been getting on with winter maintenance on the hire fleet. Fred has docked a private boat and pressure washed it. Steve and Aaron have made good progress on the moorings and Graham is progressing with the plating work on Bounty.

Joyce and Lorraine have been cleaning, tidying and generally sorting in the laundry and kitchen respectively whilst Ange has been getting on with her normal busy jobs.

Simon has been out most of the day having a look at some boats that will be coming to Norbury for brokerage - so watch this space.

Matt has been doing some finishing off on the boat that he has been painting.

Not much more to report today, so have a good evening. Until tomorrow.



Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Guest Blog

The Making of a Boaters’ Manifesto

It seemed like a good idea at the time... Kevin Blick, a former canal magazine editor challenged me about some negative comments about BW and the new Trust I had been making on Twitter and Facebook – we need something positive he said.

While I don’t withdraw any of my reservations about BW and the Canal and River Trust I could see that boaters, and especially those who live on the system or spend much of their lives on the water did need to face the new reality of the Trust and tell those creating it what was needed.

So was born the Boaters’ Manifesto. I asked for contributions online, some of you may have seen my request on Norbury’s Facebook page, and then I put them all together. Everyone looked at it again and we fine-tuned it before the manifesto, created by a group of boaters, was sent to the Transition Trustees, the IWA and the members of the parliamentary waterways group.

It is now being discussed by the IWA and members of the parliamentary waterways group and a direct meeting is planned with the Transition Trustees of the proposed new Canal and River Trust.


It says that waterways are about boats and boaters and the Canal and River Trust needs to listen to boaters more closely and have more representatives on the board.

It also demands that before the Trust accepts the legal burden of running the waterways it must ensure proper funding to keep all waterways open, navigable and properly maintained, otherwise it should refuse to do so.

Most controversially, the manifesto says boaters have lost faith in the most senior management of British Waterways and believe that the government should accept the cost of making them redundant to give the Canal and River Trust and fresh start.

Contractors also come under fire and the manifesto says the Canal and River Trust must develop a system of working that values full time paid staff and their skills above the expediency of using cheap contractors in order to maintain the skilled workforce the waterways require.

The manifesto asks the Trust to enforce a simplified set of mooring rules across the entire waterways system without fear or favour and to make it a priority to ensure non-boating users of the system make a financial contribution to its upkeep.

The manifesto also wants the Trust to ensure it is open to Freedom of Information Act requests and suggests that those who live on their boats, several thousand people, should be clearly represented at board level and consulted on all navigational issues.


One of the Transition Trustees, John Dodwell took an interest in the first draft of the manifesto abd told organisers: “I agree with you that waterways need boats as much as boats need waterways. The role of boat owners and others in saving the waterways is undisputed.”

John says the Trust’s Council needs a good representation of passionate and knowledgeable boat owners but does not agree that the five currently suggested is inadequate.

He also doesn’t envisage the Trustees turning down the deal if inadequate funds are forthcoming from Defra. He said: “Personally, I can’t see that the Government will fill the gap to the extent that everything is perfect and there is then no need to seek donations etc.

One key demand of the manifesto is that the Trust should not have the current BW directors at the helm. John Dodswell has told the organisers: “Sorry but getting rid of the current directors now – in the midst of much change – doesn’t make business sense to me. Let’s get the handover to CRT completed first!
He also seems to believe that contractors will still be doing much work for the Trust, saying: “Bear in mind that central contracts mean using bulk buying power to reduce costs. They provide flexibility.”

On the Freedom of Information Act John says: “At one level, the charity world is worried that if the Act applies to this Trust, then it will affect other charities; not being Government agencies, charities are not generally covered by the Act. At another level, the Trust would anyway follow closely the spirit of the Act.”

Anyone who wants to check out the Boaters’ Manifesto can find it here along with John Dodwell’s comments in full or here or on its own website here where you can add your name to a petition in favour of it.


I think the manifesto is a worthwhile document and gives a voice to real boaters – well I would, wouldn’t I?

Getting it together has been interesting, especially as the contributions have all been made online and opinions vary according to perspective. I am pleased that we have got agreement from such a disparate bunch on a simple set of demands.

If the Transition Trustees can move some way towards us there is a tremendous reward in sight for the new charity because experienced boaters who spend much if not all of their lives on the system have already got a great deal of personal and financial capital invested in it.

We need to see a successful organisation running our waterways and doing so in a way that allows our investment to remain worthwhile. If the Canal and River Trust can convince us they are the people to do that here is a great wealth of enthusiasm, commitment and knowledge amongst boaters that can be tapped in a way that BW could never manage.

My next task is to put together a team to present the Manifesto to the trustees from amongst boaters I have only met electronically, each speaking on a section of the manifesto and possibly doing so from a variety of BW regional offices on a video link.

Remind me again why I started this?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Its been grand!

I can hardly believe how Lucy we are with this weather, it has been a grand day today and as I write up the blog this afternoon it is a stunning sunset over Norbury, its been a very cold day, I had a meeting this morning and we stood on the wharf while having a coffee and boy was it chilly, you just ask Ange because when I came back in i gently touched her neck with my ice blocks commonly know as hands and she nearly jumped through the ceiling!

Its been a busy day in way or another, a few boats on the wharf, Bernard has had a private boat in for an engine service, Fred has been busy down in the depths of the dry dock painting, Micky has been boiler servicing, replacing water pumps, fixing broken ducting pipes, check batteries and checking fridges , he does have a varied day, Steve is making superb progress with the moorings, they are actually in sight of completion, I shouldn't speak too soon as I don't want to temp Providence!

Our thoughts are with Matt (our painter) and his family today as it is a close relatives funeral and I do know that they have all suffered a great loss, I hope his day has gone OK under the circumstances!

It is a week of funerals, I good friend of mine passed away just over a week ago, for anyone that might have seen the lovely gardens and plants here at Norbury in the past, well they were looked after by Pam and Terry, unfortunately Pam passed away and it his her funeral tomorrow, her friendly vibrant and cheeky character will be sorely missed!

That's it from me for tonight.

On that not I will

Monday, 21 November 2011

A bit early

Back to work with a bump, as usual, loads of stuff to catch up on so I am glad that it has been a quiet day today, I am posting earlier than usual as I have a late meeting to go to, if that makes sense!

Last week we had amazing weather down in the South of England, my plans changed a little because of the unexpected weather, my plan was to winterise the boat for the winter and 'put it to bed' with the view of not going to it again until next year however upon our arrival on Monday the weather was so mild I decided that I would have take the boat out for the last cruise of the year and then 'put it to bed' on my return later that week, we were treated to four superb days out on the water with no wind and plenty of sun, it was very quiet which gave us the pick of the best moorings, I think that if you get the weather right then some of the best cruising can be in the winter months, but sadly that looks like it was the last few days cruising for me for this year, I wouldn't mind doing a bit more but because I am now busy right up to Christmas with different things and work getting in the way that will be it!

It looks like everyone has been relatively busy last week at work, well that is what they tell me anyway! Everyone has been busy today, even Cheryl has been busy in the tearoom, I have been catching up with the weeks events and to that end I must get off or I will be late for my meeting so until tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Change is good as a rest

I've been in the wet dock for most of the day painting Summer Wine. She's had a lick of paint all over to tidy her up ready for next season. I must say that she has come up really well bearing in mind the original paint job was done some five years ago now. There's just the blacking and counter bands to finish off now, but Fred will do that when she goes over into the dry dock in a week or so. Cheryl has also been in the dock today with me. She has checked through all of the inventory onboard the boat, to ensure it is all present and correct. She has also painted the poles and plank and varnished the deck board (cratch) and top plank.

Ange and Lorraine have done a great job of manning the shop, tearoom and office. I think there has been quite a few customers through the door this afternoon inparticularly.

Mick and Julian docked an old working boat this morning. She's one of the Town Class boats built by Harland and Wolffe at Woolwich, London for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company and is known as a Big Woolwich. Once the water was drained out of the dock, she had a survey which didn't pick any unforeseen problems. Following this Julian has pressure washed her off so that she will be ready to receive her first coat of blacking tomorrow morning.

Mick has been getting on with the gas servicing and landlord certificates that we have to complete each year on every boat that we operate. It takes a while to get through so that will keep him busy for the next few months along with the other jobs that we squeeze in too...

I think that's everything to report for today.

Simon is back tomorrow and I am sure he will be only too willing to tell you all about his adventures whilst he has been off on holiday.

Look forward to speaking to you all on Saturday.

Best regards,


Saturday, 19 November 2011

The day got off to a good start this morning with the dayboat departing shortly after nine in the sunshine. Unfortunately by the time the other boats went out this afternoon the sun had disappeared and it had got a bit chiller. It is now quite bitter outside, let's hope that this isn't the start of the freeze...

We've got familiar faces out on Sovereign Lady today. Mr and Mrs Millington have hired from us on numerous occasions and are out for a couple of weeks. They run a caravan park in Harlech, so have come for a well earned rest!

Give me Time has now been SOLD and I have taken an offer on Tom Sandles.

More to report tomorrow.

Best regards,


Friday, 18 November 2011

Pictures today

I thought that I'd take a few pictures for you to look at today.

Firstly, Matt has finished painting The Arkenstone and we have had her on the dock for blacking and for a set of anodes to be fitted. Here she is nearly complete. Once she has had all of her fittings put back on she will be coming out of the dock and the customer's will be collecting her. Unfortunately I was unable to get on to her (due to the paint on the counter being wet) to shut the doors prior to taking the picture as I wanted to show you the rear bulkhead pattern. It isn't the normal design. It is very similar to that of the Shropshire Union fly boats and I pleased how it has turned out.

Graham has started over-plating our new dayboat Bounty. She has already served several years on the Welsh Canal and has suffered from an incredible amount of corrosion. Once she has been plated she will easily serve for another 20 years and following the paint job she will receive in the winter, along with some internal alterations she will be like new when she goes into service in the Spring.

The window/porthole apertures have now been cut in Kirsty Louise, that's the last boat that we put a cabin on. Matt has cleaned up around them and given the steel some protection ready for the windows to be fitted.

Matt has currently got Summer Wine in the dock for a lick of paint. I hadn't realised how faded the paint had got. It has done well though seeing that we painted her some five years ago now. She has introduced many people to the canal system and carried experienced crew. Once she comes out of the dock she will look like new! Joyce has also been doing some internal varnishing whilst Summer Wine has been in the warm and dry...

Until tomorrow.

Best regards,