Shop front in the summer

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

what is the future?

I was out last night dropping Becks off to collect a boat down near Chester and on the way home I dropped in to the Shady Oak pub near Beeston, we had a nice meal and a couple of drinks, I spoke with the bar man and asked how busy they had been over the bank holiday, he said that they had been quite busy but after the bank holiday it had just died a death, we sat there and it was very quiet, there had been a few people in for meals but they had all left by about 9 o'clock, it made me think how long can these small canal side rural pubs last in this poor climate, take valued little ale houses that we all love like the Anchor at High Offley, it survives purely on its income from the canal, we all need to support them more if we want to see them survive, I look back over the years that I have been boating and I think of all the pubs that have long gone, such a shame, we are slowly loosing our traditional canal side pubs and a tradition that once gone will never return.

Its been a busier day today although still not many boats around, I have had the figures today for August and it makes interesting reading, The wharf seemed to be busier this year than last year, we certainly did more pump outs and definitely supplied more fuel as well, the shop also saw more people through the door, however it wasn't by a massive amount and certainly not as good as some previous years,the hire boats were busier and the day boats have definitely been busier, could it be a sign of more people spending time in this country rather than going abroad?

We have had three day boats out again today which Graham and Bernard saw out, Graham then carried on with his cabin replacement and Bernard carried on with his engine replacement, Matt has been preparing a boat for a repaint and that is it because Ralph is off today Fred is on Holiday, yep you read it right, Fred is on holiday, his poor missus will be on the phone soon begging us to ask him to come back earlysoshe can have some peace and quiet! We miss Fred when he is not here! David is off, Jay is off and Mick is off so a quieter day all round.

That is it from me for today, it is 5.45 and I am off home so until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I'm Back!

I'm back from my holidays and it now seems a dim distant memory! I had a superb time, for anyone who is interested I went boating, I left on my boat from my mooring on the river Hamble near Southampton and went down to Dartmouth in Devon which is about 90 miles away, it took about 5 hours, I spent a few days exploring the river Dart and then went around to Salcombe and stayed there for a couple of days, I then went up to Weymouth and spent a few days there, that was excellent and we were very lucky with the weather, its was great to see all of these places alive with people and Weymouth was packed, however all of the Harbour masters were reporting that the visiting numbers of boats were down massively than previous years, another sign of the times? but it is funny that they don't bring down their mooring rates to encourage people to visit them by boat, they are all controlled by the local councils so they don't have the finical constraints on them like small businesses do, I personally think that they should be offering deals to attract people to visit which in turn would bring further revenue to the town and the shops, thus helping the local economy! We had a superb mooring in the Harbour at Weymouth but it cost £33 per night, There is a lot to be said for cruising on the canals as the costs are a lot lot less, I think that I might be reverting back to canal cruising at some time in the not to distant future!

Back to work with a bump as usual after a holiday although today has been relatively quiet in comparison to the last few weeks, there haven't been many boats around today and the shop has been quiet too, not much to report on the work front, a couple of days boats out today a breakdown on one of our hire boats, Bernard removed an engine that needs replacing and Matt has started on another full repaint, I have noticed a considerable drop in the temperature today and I suspect by the amount of coal and smokeless fuels that have been sold so have other people, I haven't even managed to get my coat off today! That's about it for today.

until tomorrow

Monday, 29 August 2011

A cold bank holiday Monday

We had three day boats out again this morning, which Ralph saw to.

Mick’s been fitting La Valeria up and has now fetched it out of the dock. Here’s a picture for you. Matt has done a superb job and I think he should feel very proud.

Cheryl and Jay have been busy in the tearoom whilst Ange and Lorraine have been manning the shop and tearoom.

We’ve had quite a lot of interest in the brokerage boats over the weekend.

Simon is back tomorrow to keep you entertained.

I’ll be back at the weekend.

Best regards,


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bank holiday weekend...

I hope that you enjoyed reading Lorraine’s blog yesterday, she’s a real character and good fun to work with! You were meant to have it on Friday, but unfortunately our internet connection was playing up – I think I have fixed it now (fingers crossed).

We all had an extremely busy day yesterday with the hire boats turning round plus three dayboats, the holiday cottage and both motorhomes. It’s been a bit quieter today although we had three dayboats out again this morning and Summer Wine went out at about midday.

Matt has now finished painting La Valeria. I will get you some photographs when we bring her out of the dock tomorrow.

That’s everything from me today.

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Best regards,


Saturday, 27 August 2011

A post from Lorraine

Hi it’s Lol here! David has asked me to do the blog today, against my will… I have been working here for 6 months on 1st September and it has been a very enjoyable, but eventful time…

Ange and Lorraine sporting some of our new stock.

I used to work on cruise ships – a slightly larger scale than narrow boats on the canal! In both jobs I have met great people and have had great working relationships with my colleagues. It was hard work on the cruise ships, especially at the height of the season but at the same time having a laugh too, I try to do the same here.

The very first time that I met the staff at Norbury was when I came clambering out of the canal like a drowned rat. Ange was the first to spot me as she was having her break on the Wharf. I had fell into the canal off of the front of my boat when we were pulling in for diesel. That wasn’t to be the last time either… The last time it was self inflicted! Too many beverages and not of the non alcoholic type either.

Have I mentioned that I don’t like water and that I never have? I can’t swim either. You may ask yourself “why has she sailed on cruise ships and work at the Wharf?” The reason is because I want to.

I was offered a job at the Wharf after falling in and this is my first blog as you have probably gathered.

Oh yes, my job role here apart from avoiding falling in the canal again consists of working in the tearoom, I clean the boats and have always got a mop in my hand. I also work on reception when needed or when Simon, David and Ange can put up with the numpty – yes that’s what Simon ‘the boss’ calls me, bless him! Other than that I generally float around (no I’m not on drugs haha) well I’ll go now as I need to clean the day boats and we are going home soon.

Luv Lol x

Friday, 26 August 2011

no internet, no blog :(

hi, we have tried honestly, we didn't even realise that the internet was down, too busy and it was gonna be so different today, you'll have to wait til tomorrow when we get it sorted, keep a look out, ange.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Andari’s up, up and away

It rained hard during the night. That hard infact that it even woke me up at one point! By the time it was time to get up and take Annie dog out for a walk it had started to dry up and by the time I arrived at Norbury, the sun was starting to shine. It’s threatened rain a couple of times today, but until now it has held off. I hope that it continues to hold off all evening as I will be avidly watching Mikron’s performance of Hell and High Water at the Anchor this evening – I will hopefully see some of you there??

We had three day boats out again this morning which Graham saw to. Fred has been down in the depths of the dry dock blacking the two boats that we currently have on there and painting the counter bands. It certainly doesn’t make life easy for him having two boats on the dock as he has to climb over a bostock or two, but he does little grumbling – well what I hear anyway! Here’s a picture for you.

I’ve also got a couple more pictures for you all today. We had a haulage firm in to crane Andari out this morning as it has now moved to a different location. Here’s a picture of the driver setting up…

And another of the boat safely on the wagon.

We can arrange cranage, haulage and provide hard standing for any size of (narrow) boat at very competitive prices. You can drop us a line if you would like further information.

Graham hasn’t made much progress on the cabin job today as he has been down in the dry dock fitting anodes, replacing a bottom rudder bearing and doing some plating work. Bernard has been doing some work on Debdale and has also been on a breakdown to a private boat at Market Drayton.

Matt’s settling in to his new role as resident boat painter here at Norbury and he is getting on very well with the boat that he has got in the dock called La valeria. He should have her completed for the weekend. Here’s a picture to show you his work so far. I’ll get you another one when we slide her out of the dock on Sunday.

Ange and Lorraine have been busy in the tea room today, whilst I have been trying to catch up on emails and correspondence from customers and generally keeping a beady eye on the whole sit and generally keeping a beady eye on the whole site.

One last picture for today. Here’s a picture of the progress that Steve and Aaron have made up the moorings.

Becks rang earlier, she was descending the locks at Atherstone on Sovereign Lady when the engine faided away and eventually stopped. Luckily nothing serious, but she has learnt the hard way that the tank requires diesel in it! It's a good job that I have friends in that area to jump in and help us out (thanks Lol)... She's underway again now and is on a marathon to arrive back here for Saturday morning - give her a wave if you see her!

Have a good evening and I will be back again tomorrow.

Best regards,


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mikron are in town.

Well the rain has held off for another day, although we did have a short sharp shower earlier today.

The Mikron Theatre Company has arrived aboard their narrowboat Tyseley and will be performing one of their spectacular acts tonight at the Junction Inn from 7.30pm onwards. If you haven’t seen them before it is certainly worth the effort to see them. They have got two more performances to do in this area; one at the Anchor tomorrow night and another at the Navigation Inn at Gnosall on Friday night. Full information can be found here – they need all the support they can get, so if you are lost for something to do over the next couple of evenings, please make the effort to see them.

Here’s a picture of Empress and Tyseley tied in the basin at Norbury this morning.

Talking about this morning, we had three day boats out again. We have also docked two boats for pressure washing and blacking and have been on numerous jobs on boats and around the site.

Graham is making progress with the cabin job, although he has had to do some welding inside a water tank today – lovely job!

Ange and Lorraine have manned the shop, office and tea room. It hasn’t been manic with boats on the wharf, but it has certainly kept us busy.

That’s everything to report from Norbury today. Let’s hope the rain holds of again tomorrow J. Although saying that from the restriction notices that I have just received from British Waterways we should all be performing a rain dance as it looks like we have only 7-8 weeks worth of water in the reservoirs before they are run dry.



Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Met Office

Well the Met Office definitely got the forecast wrong for today, although it seems that everywhere in the UK except from Norbury seems to be experiencing heavy rain… It has been a glorious day and as I write the sun is beating down, making it look like it will be a pleasant evening.

We had a really good music session at the Anchor last night and along with good company a great night was had by all.

We initially were sending two day boats out this morning, but by 9am we had booked Phantasy out too. They all had a good day and also appreciated the good weather.

Fred and Bernard have been up to their normal daily duties whilst Mick has fitted a Houdini hatch and has been starting to wire up the engine that Bernard finished fitting yesterday into a private boat. Steve and Aaron are making good progress with the moorings, we have just loaded the day boat with more wood for the path!

There is not much more to report from sunny Norbury.

Until tomorrow…



Monday, 22 August 2011

It's Monday!

My Mum and Dad brought the Ant down from Wheaton Aston yesterday and we went upto the Anchor last night for a rendezvous. Sue joined us with Thea and Michael came over for the evening. A good night was had by all!

Sue, Michael and I left the Anchor early this morning as the mist was rising off of the canal. A sure sign of a good day to follow. The cutting can be a bit eerie that time in the morning, but I was on tea duty whilst Sue daggered back… After breakfast Michael headed back to London (hopefully he didn’t get caught in the V festival traffic) and Sue’s now headed off to the Chesterfield Canal.

It’s been a busy day again today. Busier than an average Monday, with a couple of private breakdowns, normal services on the wharf and the day-to-day chores. The weather has kept fine, although rain has been promised L

Bernard has been in today to make headway on the engine that he has been fitting and Graham has been doing some welding and fabrication jobs on a couple of boats.

That’s it from me today.

Catchya tomorrow.

Regards, David.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A normal Sunday

Driving to work this morning the sun had started to show it's face following the rain that we had in the night. The sky was really blue and while we were docking a boat for a survey I was down to short sleeves and would have even worn a pair of shorts if I had some with me! It was lovely! The wind had then picked up by lunchtime, but it has remained pleasant.

Ralph showed the three dayboats out this morning. Two went down to Wheaton Aston, the other to the Wharf at Goldstone. All three have just returned following a brilliant day out. He has then pressure washed a boat that we have on for blacking and is now turning the dayboats around.

I've done a number of pump outs, diesel fill ups etc. on the wharf (yes Fred, I'm doing your job!).

The tea room has been busy and has been manned by Lorraine, Jay and Cheryl whilst Ange and I have looked after the office and the shop.

All-in-all it's been a normal Sunday! That's it from me today.

Best regards,


Saturday, 20 August 2011


The wharf has been busy over the last couple of days with passing traffic pulling in for pumpouts, diesel etc. I met the new owners of Sickle this morning too when they pulled in for diesel in their pleasure boat named Chalice. Sickle was owned by a good friend of mine; Matt Parrott, who detailed the restoration on his website here. Sickle passed through the hands of another acquaintance before being purchased by Alan and Cath who have started their very own blog for the movements of both of their boats, which is very interesting. We had a long discussion about boats and the canal system and they were then to be seen heading south – (Alan/Cath - it was good to meet you both and I look forward to seeing you out and about soon).

Here’s a picture for you of Sickle tied on the Wharf when she was in the ownership of Matt Parrott.

We have turned seven boats and the holiday cottage around today and it’s gone basically without a hitch along with three dayboats that went out first thing and returned this afternoon.

Jay has been kept busy in the tea room with a constant flow of customers and the girls, once again have done a sterling job on the boats. Mick, Ralph, Bill and Bernard have seen to the internals and engine maintenance on the boats and following this Bill and Ralph have showed the boats out.

The weather has been quite good today, but I must have put the mockers on it now as it has just started to rain!

That’s it from me today. I’m off to enjoy an evening with my parent’s and some friends in Wheaton Aston.

Until tomorrow.

Best regards,


no blog :(

i'll write it then.
helloooo it's me, i haven't blogged for a couple of weeks and as david didn't do the blog last night i thought i'd do it this morning just for a change. i stayed the night on lorraines boat last night as i couldn't get home cos of the v festival, the A5 was like a car park so i stayed at norbury, need less to say i was very early for work :).
before i came to work yesterday (i had to leave early cos of the traffic building up) i let the dog out in the garden as i usually do only to find that next doors chickens and cockerels were in my garden, what mayhem. there was dylan my basset running hell for leather round the garden chasing 5 birds, there were feathers and ears flying round everywhere lol!!
anyway i've got boats to get ready for this afternoon and a stack of washing to do, i'm sure david will post later and tell you all about today, speak soon, ange.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Last Post

This is my last post on the blog for a few days as I am having a holiday, I havent had a holiday in August for about 10 years but this year I have to book my holidays in line with my partners holidays so that is why I am off, And yep you guessed it I am off boating again, I just hope the weather stays good as I am fed up with making plans and then being disapointed that I cant carry them out because of the weather.

There was a definite nip in the air this morning when I left home, it was early though, the sun has come out and it has been a lovely day here at Norbury, we had three day boats go out first thing this morning so they have again picked a good day for boating, all the lads have been busy with their respective jobs and Bernard has had to go out on few breakdowns, one of our boats wouldnt start this morning and a private boat with a broken gear cable, that has kept him busy for most of the day, we have seen quite a few boats on the wharf again for services which has kept Fred out of mischief, later on today saw David, Fred, Steve and Aaron load up the day boats with timber and sand, gravel and cement for the moorings work, David was in his element as he really does like messing with boats, its not quite the same as loading an old working boat but it is still messing with boats, talking of the moorings they are now looking brilliant and they are nearly full with boats, Steve is making excellent progress with them and is about a third of the way down them now, he will slow down a bit now as he is coming to some really tricky bits.

Well that is it from me for this week, Daivd will keep you entertained until my return.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Another word from Peter

Our guest blogger is back, Peter Underwood with his narrow boat Blackberry way writes;

In praise of hirers

I like meeting hirers on our travels around the system – quite miss them in the winter months, in fact.

Hirers are almost always cheerful, happy and determined to enjoy themselves no matter what the weather. They come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities and are usually happy to talk to anyone they meet.

I wish the same were true of all private boats, some will pass with their eyes averted and nose in the air, even if you call out a hearty ‘good afternoon,’ and I sometimes wonder if they are actually enjoying the canals.

Back to those lovely hirers. I am especially fond of those groups of young fit people who are cruising the wide canals at the same time as we want to move Blackberry Way through a flight of locks – it halves the work.

Most inexperienced hirers happily admit they have things to learn and just a few weeks ago we came up the Hatton flight on the Grand Union with a lovely family from Hamburg who were delighted to learn how you can take two boats into a wide lock side by side and avoid all the hassle of one going in first and having to hug one lock wall while the other follows.

Sometimes their energy is too much and when they wanted to follow the 21 Hatton locks with another 21 at Lapworth, following a pint in the pub, we decided to let them continue unaccompanied. Just a week or so ago Tomas and his family sent us a collection of pictures they had shot during their adventure along with an e-mail thanking us for our help and advice.

Even better in a way is the experienced hirer who prides his or her self in their knowledge and techniques. With them we can relax and chat as we go through the lock flights.

And that brings me to the point on this ramble. More experienced hirers are often likely to avoid the pressure of completing cruising rings and settle for a slower run that allows them to take in the beauty of a particular stretch of canal without working many hours a day because they have to make it back to the hire base.

Given the price of fuel and the fact that some simply find it stretches them too far I would like to see more hire companies take the effort to explain other cruising options and even dissuade hirers from a hard-working week completing the Four Counties or any other ring.

It would mean a bit of research but they could easily recommend week long journeys that meant travelling two or three hours a day, taking in fascinating local sights and relaxing in beautiful surroundings.

Rather than setting a route that means either 10 or even 12 hours in motion every day for seven days how about one that says, “Get up late and enjoy the walk down the lane to the local bakery before popping down three locks to enjoy a stroll around the gardens of this National Trust house. There is a smashing butcher in the next village along and his steaks are well worth buying for the barbecue you might enjoy at the picnic area half a mile along the canal.”

The hirer may only travel a few miles and come back the same way but I bet they go back more relaxed and more in love with the canals than if they return home exhausted and aching from all the effort.

Of course it requires good local knowledge but most of the small and personal hire firms have this already in their heads.

At least it should be an option – do you want fast and furious or slow and easy?


If you agree with Peter or not, let me know your thoughts.



Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Its that time again where my thoughts turn to writing the blog for today, thanks for the comments yesterday it is good to have some feed back about what we write. If I turn my thoughts to why the boating world is suffering then I personally think that it is partly because of the 'spin' that is put upon the slow down in the economy, the uncertainty over job security and the uncertainty over the future of our British waterways. If I were looking at investing some of my hard earned cash (if I had any) then I would be looking into something that might actually have a sustained growth over the next few years (in an ideal world) maybe I wouldn't buy a boat! However, I appreciate that owning a boat is not necessarily about owning an appreciating capital asset (there are exceptions to that of course) and it is about the enjoyment factor involved but when you put your savings in to something you want the best return possible weather that is in terms of monetary value or enjoyment value, Owning a boat is much more than earning money out of it or just cruising around on it, it is also the whole ownership aspect, the maintenance, the social side, the fact that you have a bolt hole, somewhere to escape the modern day pressures of our society and work, We can all bang on about the doom and gloom of the country and worry about our job security, but we are only here once, we can wait forever for this country to be in the prefect situation before we make the big decision of spending some money and enjoying life now, whats the worst that can happen if you buy a boat? in these difficult times there are bargains to be had, marina owners arms to be twisted with regards to moorings etc etc, so my advise is, if you want a boat and you have the means to afford it then do it, you will more often than not find a way if things get a bit tight in the future! We cant all plan for the future, we don't have a crystal ball, and we certainly don't have a sell by date either! What I am trying to say is, take a leap of faith, faith in yourself that if you do buy a boat then you WILL make it work.

Anyway back to today and life at Norbury, it started wet! the sun came out, it rained a bit and its been a bit humid, its been a bit grey and the sun has put in an appearance now and again just to remind us that it is August and it is summer time! we have had three day boats go out again this morning, Fred is his usual grumpy self while he is still laying off the cigarettes,but he went and did his jobs without too much moaning, Mick showed all three day boats out and then returned back to several jobs that he has on the go at the moment, Bernard did a spot of welding on a boat in the dock, and has also serviced the motor homes, Matt is cracking on with the paint job in the dock, Ange has been catching up on paperwork while Jay and Cheryl have been looking after the shop and Tea room, nothing too exciting has happened today, I suppose you cant count the day boaters leaving their loaf of bread behind and returning from miles up the canal just to fetch it, they must be really hungry! or the odd complaint that we have had about the noise of the horse that now resides in one of our fields here!

So thats about it from me for yet another day, I have too get off pretty smart tonight as I have two boats to go and look at in Cheshire and I want some dinner before I go so Adios Simon.

Monday, 15 August 2011

messing about with boats

I was away over the weekend messing about with boats, Like David when I am off I too like messing about on the water, unlike David I mess with boats on the coast, I think that once you have water and boats in your blood you cant leave it alone for too long! This weekend saw me go over to Cowes on Friday night to watch the finale of the Cowes racing week, it ended with a magnificent fire work display, we were lucky that the weather was reasonable, we arrived early in Cowes and took a wander around the many out side bars, stages with plenty of live entertainment and many food outlets, at about 8.30 we made our way back to our boat and headed out to find a spot to watch the fireworks, there were hundreds of boats doing the same thing and I have to say that never before have I seen so many boats moving in one location, there was everything that you can imagine, steamers, cruisers, trip boats, yachts, passenger liners, Rigid inflatables, jet ski's rowing boats, canoes, I would say that almost anything that could float was there to see the spectacular event, and what an amazing display it was, it lasted for around half an hour and we had ring side seats about 100 yards away from the floating barge that was used as a launching platform, the fireworks lit up the whole of the Solent and Cowes! It was the first time that I have boated at night on the sea and what a contrast to boating on the canal at night, when we left it was a maze of boats also leaving, it was mayhem trying to dodge boats coming from every direction heading for their home port, we only had to travel a few miles back over to Southampton, the police were out in force to make sure that everyone behaved them selves, we arrived back at our mooring about an hour after leaving and it was a most exhilarating ride back in the dark! If you have a passion for all things boaty then a visit to Cowes during Cowes week is a must, its not just about yachts! Here is a picture of the boat that I was on this weekend.

The day started off a little chilly today but the sun soon came out and coupled with the blue sky made it a lovely morning here at Norbury, we had three day boats out first thing and they certainly picked a nice dayto go boating, it did however cloud over for a while but on but the sun came out again this afternoon and has made the rest of the day very nice! The day has been a bit quiet today, we have seen a few boats on the wharf for diesel but nothing like you would expect for August, the numbers of boats on the move does seem to be less than we have seen in previous years, I cant quite understand it, I know that fuel costs have risen through the roof but narrow boats don't use that much diesel and the majority of the costs of owning a boat are just to keep it on the water so cruising is only a small proportion of its annual costs, so why are less people going boating? I also know that there are many more boats up for sale this year compared to previous years (sign of the current economic climate) but we do still seem to be selling quite a lot of boats, so why are less people going boating on the canals? Its funny because as I am writing this we have had a couple in off a boat and they made the comment "where are all the boats?" They had traveled up from down South and they said that the Shroppie was the busiest water way that they had been on yet! God only knows how quiet it is else where?

On another note, we have been asked in the past if we offer finance on boats well we don't do it our selves but we have now teemed up with an asset finance company that can provide funding for purchasing narrow boats, this should help people who need finance to full fill their dream of owning a boat.

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

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Charity auctions.

We received a letter of thanks earlier in the week, which I have posted on our testimonials page within our website, but I thought that I would expand on it today.

We regularly contribute the hire of one of our day boats for charity auctions and events. We have also recently donated one weeks holiday hire to one of our local pubs, the Haberdashers Arms at Knighton. This will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to the Air Ambulance. In actual fact we were asked to present all of the prices at this years “Potato Club” charity auction over the bank holiday weekend, but unfortunately Simon will be on holiday and it isn’t really my cup of tea! But it is a privilege to be asked.

Here’s a copy of the thank you letter that we received from Rosemary Longden, Chairman of the Staffordshire Luncheon Club for Macmillan Cancer Support.

“Thank you for the support that you kindly gave to the Luncheon for Macmillan Cancer Support, held at Befcote on Sunday 31st July. The event was a great success and we raised in the region of £3,000.00 on the day. My thanks again”.

If you are holding a charity event and would like an auction prize, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We had three day boats out this morning. After they left Mick and Ralph docked a private boat and Ralph has pressure washed it off, ready to receive some hull blacking tomorrow. Mick has been “fitting up” a boat – that’s putting the exterior furniture back on following painting ie. Mushroom vents.

There have been a few boats through and on the wharf today for diesel, pumpout, gas etc. which Ralph and I have looked after between us.

Jay, Cheryl and Jack have been kept busy in the tea room whilst Ange and I have looked after the shop and manned the phones. Ange has also caught up on the washing from yesterday!

My parent’s are over from Spain tomorrow, so I am looking forward to an enjoyable couple of weeks with them…

That’s everything to report from Norbury today.

Catchya next week!

Best regards,


Saturday, 13 August 2011


Well I wasn’t wrong about it being a busy day today!

The rain has held off and the sun is even out now. We did have a couple of drops, but nothing too horrendous…

All of the hire boats arrived back this morning, just as Ralph and Bill were showing out the dayboats. Everything has been turned round and as I write the last boat is being shown out. We’ve had a couple of hitches, but nothing major.

Pam has been in the tea room today as Jay is off and Sue gave her a hand with colleting crockery etc. and washing up. It’s good to know that we have got extras to call on when we are a bit short staffed.

Graham is progressing with the boat he is working on the hardstanding, although he has checked a couple of engines over today.

There’s not much more to report, so until tomorrow…



Friday, 12 August 2011

Well I hope that you enjoyed reading our blog yesterday by Peter. It makes a pleasant change to let some else write a blog entry. So if any of you out there would like to get your name up in lights, please send us some words through and we will try our best to publish them.

I had a good couple of days off boating on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sue took me down to meet Michael and the boats at Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire on Monday night and by Wednesday evening we were tied in Watford. It was good to meet up with old friends along the way and also to see so many familiar faces (especially some of you blog followers!). I caught a train back from Watford Junction to Stafford late on Wednesday evening and then Sue gave me a lift home – thanks Sue!

It started a bit damp here this morning as Ralph was showing the dayboats out. The rain was soon to pass. It’s been overcast for the rest of the day with the odd short shower.

We’ve only had four boats to turn around today, so it has been a bit quiet on that front – although we will be busy tomorrow with a grand total of nine boats and the holiday cottage to turnround.

I have now installed a Wi-Fi range extender in our holiday cottage, primarily to give the occupants of the cottage access to the internet although it will enhance the Wi-Fi coverage around the wharf area.

That’s it from me today folks. Have a good evening, until tomorrow…

Regards, David.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Waterways Charity is a dangerous con trick

Today we have a guest blogger. Peter Underwood is a waterways journalist and a regular contributor to Towpath Talk and other waterways publications. He has owned boats for many years and lived afloat for the past eight years, travelling all over the system. You might disagree with his outspoken views – I certainly reserve the right to argue with him – but he does have a talent for saying what many people feel. Let us know what you think.

Regards, Simon.

Waterways Charity is a dangerous con trick.

It started with a chorus of cautious approval from the various waterways organisations, the IWA in particular, but the consensus of opinion is slowly changing about the idea of dumping our waterways on a dubious, unaccountable, undemocratic and underfunded charity version of British Waterways.

Now the parliamentary group of MPs with waterways interests is saying the new charity will be unacceptably short of cash and undemocratic. The Residential Boat Owners Association, even though it still thinks it is a good idea to have a charity, also has severe doubts about the levels of cash, the lack of accountability and the complete failure to make either the charity or the government responsible for actually keeping the waterways open.

Even the IWA is worried that we are on the receiving end of a massive political con-trick – although they wouldn’t quite put it like that. It seems to be slowly dawning on the waterways community no BW successor can run the system properly without adequate financial support and Cameron and crew have no real interest in canals other than abandoning all financial responsibility for one of our great national assets.

Now I know the IWA has hung on to the dream of a ‘waterways conservancy’ running the system but it must now be dawning upon them that what is being proposed for the NWC is not the Rolt dream.

The politicians have only two interests, neither of them canals. The first is to cut the amount of money spent by government in keeping this wonderful national asset going and the second is to get at least one example of Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ up and running as the rest of the concept falls apart around him. They won't care if boaters are driven off and all the canals slowly silt up into weed and rubbish filled ditches - not their problem once it is a charity.

It is partly because our otherwise wonderful voluntary waterways organisations have convinced themselves that if they can run their smaller organisations it is only a matter of scale for volunteers to run an enlarged British Waterways charity.

If those volunteers were selected by those with a real understanding and knowledge of the waterways, and elected rather than appointed, the charity might have some faint hope of success – given proper funding over an extended period.

Instead we are liable to get a bunch of appointees put in place by politicians or their minions who are simply part of what used to be called the ‘great and good’ – usually white middle class businesspeople or all-purpose do-gooders with more interest with the kudos of being consulted by ministers than in the future of our waterways.

We also get an organisation that could easily go out of control with legislation already going through the commons allowing it to make its own by-laws and enforce its regulations using forced entry into people’s boats and other draconian powers - all without any accountability either to its own electorate or even parliament.

Given that we also seem likely to have the same very expensive bunch of former accountants and estate agents running the new charity at management level – take a bow Evans and Co – the possibility that many ordinary boaters will be priced off the water and others treated as third class citizens by NWC staff (or volunteers) in their role as traffic wardens is extremely high.

The truth is that there is nothing wrong with expanding British Waterways to include other navigations but keeping it as a public sector body, if means the Government remain responsible for keeping the navigations open and is obliged to provide the necessary cash to do so. I would like to see better oversight of BW, a crackdown on stupid pay packages and a proper development of the skills of employees rather than farming out jobs to cowboy contractors, but none of that needs a charity, just a minister doing his job properly. It is not as if this wonderful asset needs much cash, in national budget terms. The rational approach would be for the taxpayer to provide the tiny amounts - about ten bankers bonuses a year. We wouldn't even notice the 0.02p of tax it would take. That option seems to have been abandoned by just those organisations who should be protecting the waterways and boaters in particular and we seem to be forced to go through this 'big society' farce for reasons of political dogma.

The losers will be boaters and canal lovers and I wish the IWA and the rest would rediscover their crusading spirit and tell the greasy politicians they should be spending whatever it takes to keep such a fantastic national treasure in tip top condition. They are still spending £100,000m a year on the banks and the £100m needed to be spent on the waterways is much better value. Let’s get back to a properly funded government operated system of British Waterways.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Winter is definatley on its way!

You might think, "oh he is just moaning because its getting chiller in the morning" however I know that winter is on its way because today it snowed! only kidding, today I place my order for winter fuels, IE coal, Taybrite, Excel and Anthracite to keep you boaters lovely and warm over the winter months, There used to be an advantage to buying in at 'summer' prices however these days it doesn't come down in the summer like it used to do but it just seems to keep going up, by ordering in a large quantities like I do I can keep my prices very competitive and for a much longer period, so if you are looking for some very good smokeless fuels drop us a line.

The weather has been a mixed bag again today and this morning it was indeed quite cold, the sun has put in an appearance today and this afternoon turned out to be quite nice however as I writ the blog it has gone overcast and nippy again, but the wind is whistling through Norbury at an almost alarming pace, You know when it is windy when you can hear it whistling outside, it sounds gale force, i do hope it drops before Friday as I am supposed to be boating myself!

Talking of winter and winter fuels I had to order some Kerosene for my central heating at home, thankfully I only use around 500 gallons a year,that's 2250Litres for the younger ones out there! I checked the price of last years oil and it was 43.9 PPL and now it is 56.6 PPL, it doesn't sound much of an increase but this is the reality of that, 2250L now costs a staggering £285.75 more than it did last year! People wonder why everything is going up, its simples, its because of the cost of fuel, it affects everything! Again talking about fuel and its prices you will be glad to know that our red diesel has just had a massive reduction, it is now............................................................ sorry folks you will have to pop in to find out!

We have had a seriously busy day here again today, The lads have all been kept busy on there individual jobs, the wharf has also been busy and I have even managed to sell another boat today, the girls have been kept busy today as well in the tea room and the shop. Roll on the weekend!

That's it from me for today, David is back tomorrow and he will keep you up to date for a couple of days while I am off.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Autumn is on its way!

There is a definite nip in the air in the mornings and late at night now, I can feel that autumn is on its way, I love the four seasons but I really love spring and Autumn they seem to bring everything to life, the colours are so vivid and that moist fresh smell in the air is like a tonic! The weather today is a stark contrast to yesterday, it has been stunning all day, the sun has been shining and there has been a fresh breeze that has helped to keep the temperature at a very nice level, it hasn't been that hot and humid like It sometimes can be at this time of year.

We have seen another very busy day today, lots and lots of people around, the tea room has been busy all day, Angela and myself have been busy in the shop and chandlery all day as well, the lads have all been busy, except Fred who has had an easy day! Steve is back off his holiday so the moorings work has started again, Bernard has been engine servicing and removing a very tired old engine from a boat, Mick has been on several different boats as well as a breakdown and then several private jobs this afternoon while Matt has been preparing a roof for some paint and applying the first coats of primer to the boat new paint job that is in the wet dock, as I type Micky is still working on a shared owned boat that has got some problems and I am just about to shut the computers down and shut up shop for another day.

Until tomorrow

Monday, 8 August 2011

Monday Blues

The title should read 'Monday grey's' Whats happened? the weather has turned horrible, it rained last night which was good as the air needed clearing and it helps to keep the dust down but today is grey, overcast, cold and miserable, I was speaking to one of our hirer's today who were reporting that it rained heavily all night and that they have been motoring on through the rain all day today, at least we have missed it so far today, the odd slight shower but nothing serious!

Not much to report on today, its been a quiet day, considering that its still the children's holidays and how manic it was last week I thought that today would be much of the same, I was wrong, its even been a bit quieter on the wharf today! Maybe tomorrow will be different again!

The lads have been up to their usual jobs, Matt painting, Ralph on the wharf and preparing a roof for a repaint, Mick doing lots of on different boats and he also had a moderator toilet to un block, see its not just me that gets the s**t jobs! I like to share!! Graham is now on the re cabin job, that will keep him busy for a few weeks, Jay has been quieter today which has given him the chance to catch up om some other jobs around the shop.

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

Sunday, 7 August 2011


The weather has been a bit changeable here at Norbury today. Bright sunshine to heavy rain and then the sun comes out again – don’t you just love good old British weather?

Anyway, the sun will be shining from tomorrow evening as I am off boating again after work for two days J. I shall be heading from the Northampton area down into North London, so if you are on the Grand Union, keep your eyes peeled! It’s in my blood – I can’t help it…

We had two dayboats out this morning, who both pottered off down to Wheaton Aston and arrived back by the required time of 4.30 this afternoon. There is a good reason for the boats returning before the end of the day. The girls have to go onto the boats upon their return to clean them and the lads to check the engines and equipment over you see.

Mick and I docked Bukittinggi this morning, which is one of the boats that we have had up for sale. Following this morning’s survey, the sale is now complete and the new owner is over the moon with his new purchase. Mick has been doing bits and pieces on all manor of boats today. Unfortunately one of our regular customers forgot to leave his keys behind for the work that should have been completed on his boat whilst he is enjoying Wales!

Ange, Jay, Jack and Lorraine have been kept occupied in the shop and tea room today and Lorraine has also finished off the last of the washing from the turnrounds over the weekend.

I’ve been trying to get the four boats advertised that we have had come in for sale. The advertising is now all done and I will make it go ‘live’ tomorrow – so keep your eyes peeled for some REAL bargains!

I’ve been multitasking as I write this blog. I’ve been talking to my Mum and Dad on the phone who live in Spain – it’s alright Simon don’t panic, it is nearly 6pm…

Well back to Simon tomorrow, I’m sure that he will find plenty of interesting topics to keep you all religiously reading each day.

Until next week.

Best regards,


Saturday, 6 August 2011

A busy day

It was a cooler start to the day this morning, but by lunchtime it had warmed up nicely. We had two day boats booked to go out this morning, but unfortunately one party couldn’t make it, so only Defiant has been out today. Victory has been sat on the end of the Wharf attracting a lot of interest.

We have turned thirteen boats around today. Bernard, Mick and Graham have been checking the engines over and have completed four services. Billy, Ralph and Becks have checked the internals and have showed the boats out this afternoon whilst Lorraine, Amy, Nat, Cheryl and Jean have cleaned the internals of the boats. Pam has been wading through the washing in the laundry. The shop and tea room have been manned by Jay, Ange, Lorraine and myself. Everyone has worked really hard today as this is the biggest turn round that we have had this year and it has gone without a hitch. It has been a very satisfying day for all concerned, although I think we are all ready for a sleep now!

Carolyn and Ira who are residents here at Norbury Junction on their narrow boat Albion managed to get a picture of me getting my hands dirty a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I do still get my hands dirty from time-to-time, but quite often now it seems to be when I’m not at work! So here you go, a picture of the fleet lined up prior to leaving for the National. We were in the process of loading pre-packed coal onto Clover and Fazeley in Tamworth. They also have a very interesting blog of their boating events here.

The line up from nearest the bank is Clover, Fazeley, Emu, Kangaroo and Australia. The Emu won the Alfred Ritchie trophy for the best turned out (working) boat at the National Waterways Festival 2011. I think that you will quite rightly agree that she along with her steerer (Michael Pinnock) deserved the award. In just under two years Michael has transformed her from this

to this... Well done Michael!

I’ve just looked back through this post and noticed that I haven’t mentioned Fred! Now how could I forget to him? Fred has been flat out today, pumping boats out, dieseling them up, changing gas bottles, filling water tanks and last but not least applying a final coat of bitumen to the boat on the dock. He seems to be getting a bit stressed recently with the pump out machine as he believes that it taken longer to pump the toilets out, but to be honest I think it is just down to the fact that he gave up smoking recently! Thanks for starting work at 8am today though – it is appreciated…

That's it for today folks.



Friday, 5 August 2011

Firstly I'd like to let everyone know that I'm back after a very enjoyable trip to the National at Burton on Trent with Clover and Fazeley who are owned by a good friend of mine. It was great to see so many of you there and also out and about. This blog seems to have more coverage than the good old "towpath telegraph" now!

I was back at work yesterday and since then it has been non-stop. We've completed on four boats over the last couple of days and we have more ready to go on the books - I just need a moment to get them advertised now. Things are certainly a bit different here, than when I went away twelve days ago. The wharf has a steady stream of passing traffic and the phone's are constantly ringing - which is a good sign.

Graham has started working on the next boat that we have got to fit a cabin to. In actual fact this one suffered a fire last year and it required the majority of the cabin to be removed, the hull then needs to be straightened prior to a new cabin being fitted and is on the hard standing in our yard. Here is a picture of the cabin following removal. The next job is to cut up the old cabin and straighten the hull - then the cabin can start to be formed.

Fred, Bernard and Mick along with Amy and Lorraine have turned the fleet around today whilst Ange, Jay, Cheryl and I have manned the tea room, shop and the office whilst Simon has been out shopping!

Well that's all from me today. Until tomorrow :-)



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Worth reading!

After my post yesterday all about FAME and how it will affect boats I decided that it would be a good idea to start stocking a range of additives that will help to stop some of the problems arising, we now stock a range of products called 'Exocet' from reading the information supplied it looks very good indeed, I have used it in my own boat, I have had no problems at all since using it! They supply 6 different products;

A fuel conditioner which inhibits microbiological contamination, prevents water pick up, improves power and smooth running, protects fuel pumps and injectors.

An anti bug additive which prevents bugs at maintenance dose, will kill bugs within 24 hours with a 'kill' dose, which will avoid blocked filters.

A power restorer which restores maximum power, removes injector lacquers.

A fuel store additive which keeps fuel fresh for up to two years, reduces varnishes and deposits, prevents bugs.

An anti wax additive which will keep engines working down to -18 degrees, changes the wax structure, inhibits filter blocking.

A fragrance additive which enhances the atmosphere of accommodation, inhibits impregnation of gas oil fumes in to furnishings and clothing.

We are not stocking every product as yet but we are stocking the most important ones, I can order the others and get them the next day if so required, I can tell you that we will be using them in our fleet of boats and especially the 'fuel store' come the winter months.

I am a bit sceptical of the Perfume however but then that may be a case of a product designed specifically for the lady boaters? I will try some and report back when I have trialed it.

It has been an amazingly busy day today, just like it was back in 2005 and before the recession kicked in, I have never seen so many boats on our wharf, it has kept Fred flat out all day, we had to have two deliveries of fuel last week, and early one this week and we will be having another one tomorrow, that's how busy we are! We have had also an amazing run on boat sales, I sold two boats yesterday, one in the afternoon and the other one at 5.30 just as I was about to go home! We desperately need more boats to sell so if you have one that you are thinking of selling give us a call.

That's it from me for today, David will probably do the blog tomorrow as I should not be here, but you never know!


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

FAME at last!

The title is not what you would expect, it is about FAME but not in a good way and not about being famous, its all about the FAME additive that is now being added to red diesel, For those that don't know, FAME stands for fatty acid methyl ester and it is basically a BIO fuel, a small percentage is being added to some red diesel that you are now buying, this started on the 1st January 2011, no one really knows what the long term affect will be on diesel engines but it is reported that some engines will experience problems if they have been using the diesel with this additive, The reason for this post is this; We had a boat in a few weeks ago with a fuel leak from its injector pump, it was an older Kabota engine and the seals had all gone in the pump causing the diesel to leak straight in to the oil sump, this can have a devastating impact on the engine if left and not rectified, the engine can ultimately blow up, I had a phone call from a friend who has a large hire fleet and he is now reporting that several of his boats are now starting to suffer with these same symptoms! I must that at stress at present that WE DO NOT SELL DIESEL WITH THE FAME ADDITIVE, I can not afford for our hire boats to start developing problems! There are also other long term problems that this additive will cause and that is it is reported to breakdown if left in diesel tanks for any length of time, we have been informed that if you use a fuel additive such as fuel set this should help with this problem, needless to say that we do sell it and this year we have seen a massive growth in the sales of this, I would strongly recommend that it is used ever time you fill up with diesel, Its only about a tenner and it should save you having problems.

The day started off with brilliant sunshine and it has remained so all day, in fact it is reported to be the hottest day so far and I can really believe it, its been glorious today!

First thing we saw two day boats go out, what a superb day they have picked! the boat on the dock has been refloated and another one has been put on for blacking and anodes which Fred has pressure washed off, Bernard has been engine servicing and Graham has been making a new instrument housing for a boat, fitting anodes and also cutting off a cabin that needs replacing on a burnt out boat, the wharf has been much quieter today but the shop has seen a fair amount of traffic which has kept the girls busy in the tea room. I have been busy today, aswell as the usual day to day stuff I have had two boats craned in to the water that are to be put on to brokerage, here are a couple of photos

David Is back tomorrow so I will be off this weekend for a well earned break, well apart from having to go up to Yorkshore to look at a boat and loads of stuff to catch up with at home.

Thats if from me for today.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Trying Tuesday

Well I tried my hardest to convince Angela that knowing all about things at Norbury would be beneficial not only to me but also for her but she saw straight through my smooth talking and refused point blank to be shown how to do pump outs! (I will keep trying) Sorry folks you will just have to put up with Fred and all the others doing your toilets.

Not only do I have to deal with a lot of customers but I also have to oversee everything that happens within the company and at times that can be rather trying, hence today's title, some people would like to think being the boss of a company is a cushy little number and yes of course it has its advantages and benefits but it also comes with its fair share of headaches and pressures! All that said I wouldn't want to swap my position and I do love doing what I am passionate about and that is boats and messing about on water.

Its been quite a busy old day, two day boats out first thing, in fact we Have two day boats out every day through out August and on the weekends we have three out, so a very good month for day boats! Its also an amazing month for our regular hire boats, out of around 50 available weeks across the whole fleet in August we have filled over 40 weeks so if you are looking for a break on a boat, don't delay, get it booked before they have all gone! Several boats have been on the wharf for pumpouts and diesel and we have several boats in for different jobs, (peter Underwoods new batteries We had to attend a breakdown on behalf of RCR this morning and Bernard has been engine servicing for the rest of the day on private boats, Fred has been blacking and clearing a boat out and Micky, well I am sure he has been asleep in the back of a boat as he has been very quiet today!

I did mention in an earlier blog about Matt's (our painter) dad and his lovely gypsy caravan, well I have managed to obtain a photo and it is a cracking photo of Matt, his dad Alan and Matt's little girl Heather, shame the picture is not completed with Matt's wife Natalie, what a lovely family they are! I am very pleased indeed that we now have Matt as our painter (he is bloody good) and Natalie helping out in and around the wharf.

That's it from me again for another day, until tomorrow.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Thanks Ange!

A big thank you to Angela for taking the time to write up a much better blog than I did yesterday, as she said we were very busy all day! I do think that Angela should learn much more about the whole job at Norbury and that includes pump outs, LOL I feel a training session coming up LOL

It started a grey day today, it rained in the night which will make my infernal garden grow like mad again, I could easily just concrete the lot over and put some potted plants on it, I do love a nice garden however I hate the time and commitment that is involved with its up keep! The sun did start to shine first thing this morning which gave a nice mist over the woods and fields but it was short lived as the clouds soon blocked it out, this has made it a humid day today at Norbury!

Things got off to a busy start, three day boats out first thing, that kept Micky and Ralph busy for a while, a few boats on the wharf for diesel and pump outs, a boat valuation and a boat that wanted a diesel filler cap fitting, It has remained busy all day, I have had several customers in to either collect boats or drop boats off for work to be done and I have had the owner of the 70footer in to discuss the paint scheme for his boat that we have just started striping down, Matt will be working on that for the next few weeks, I will try and get some photos of the boat as things progress, Talking of Matt his dad has a rather nice horse and gypsy caravan that has been on display on the wharf over the weekend, he is collecting for the first responders charity, sorry no photos as yet, there might be some coming soon as I suspect he will be back.

Peter Underwood is back with us for a wee while, Peters boat if you don't know is called Blackberry way, he gets all over the country on his boat and he is a regular contributor to many waterways press releases, we have him here as a guest and we will no doubt have some work to do on his boat while he is here.

That's it from me for another day.