Shop front in the summer

Friday, 30 September 2011

It’s been another scorcher.

Although I am not complaining it has been very nearly unbearable to work in today. The front page of the newspaper this morning declared that we are experiencing an Indian summer. Fred has been complaining that he is too hot in his black uniform, he used to moan when we had yellow shirts and the flies attacked him – you just can’t please some people. I’ve still been lighting a fire of an evening as the temperature does dip somewhat, although I did wake up at about 3am this morning and open the doors to let a bit of heat escape!

We’ve turned five shared owned boats around today, one hire boat and two dayboats. That has kept Bernard and Mick busy along with Amy and Cheryl who have completed the internal valets.

Matt’s now at the stage that he will be applying some undercoat to ‘Calm Down’. Here is a picture of his work so far. You might think that he is a bit further behind than normal, but we have had International’s Technical Manager here for a few days giving us all a bit of extra advice on their products and their application. Richard was a really nice chap and incredibly informative, he is certainly an asset to International and we will be working with him again in the future.

Graham has started to fabricate a rear slide, new door and frame for one of the shared boats. They have decided to have the wooden door and frame removed and a solid one made out of steel with a wooden panel on the inside. Once it starts taking shape I will get you some pictures.

Lorraine has been working hard in the kitchen again today; I don’t know how she does it. The heat is intense in there, but she just carries on regardless, doing her very best for every customer. Ange had to dive in and help too over lunch as we were flooded out with customers. Other than that Ange has been busy in the office as it’s that time of the month again when accounts are settled and invoices drawn up.

I’m off to the Black Country Museum again tonight to drop Lucy off as she will be boating on ‘Ibex’ and ‘Ilford’ for a couple of days. They will be heading for their base at Stone on the Trent and Mersey. That means that there will be even more boaty pictures after the weekend on Facebook to make me jealous when I am sat here in the office…

Anyway that’s about it from me today, so enjoy your evening and I’ll be back again tomorrow.

Best regards,


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Floating homes

Another guest blog entry by Peter Underwood today.

Living on board a boat seems to be becoming officially sanctioned with the Government encouraging councils to give planning permission for residential moorings as a way of solving the housing crisis and British Waterways going for official residential berths in their marinas and hiking the prices as a result.

I suppose I should welcome it as a liveaboard boater but, in a way, I quite like it that the official system finds us a bit difficult to deal with.

I do not have the concern of many that it will mean miles of canals, especially around London lined with boats that never move – they are there already and I find even the scruffiest an interesting part of the canal scene. Often they house some real characters who are well worth getting to know.

Living on board a boat out on the system means being pretty self sufficient.

Quite frankly I don’t see it becoming that much of a problem, especially on the narrow canals because there are not that many people who are able to confine their lives to a steel box just 7ft wide, 7ft tall and 50-70ft long.

A wide beam boat may be about the same area as a studio apartment but even that is very restricted, especially for anyone with children. There will be more liveaboards around London but that is simply a reflection of the ludicrous property market in the capital.

The fact is that in order to live on a boat you have to be willing to shed many of the things everyone else takes for granted. Even wall space for family photos or knick-knacks is strictly limited and most boats are not over-endowed with wardrobe space for a full collection of clothes and shoes.

Unless you are constantly running a generator power is also limited and large flat-screen HD TVs and all the gubbins will soon drain a battery bank. On many bloats running a washing machine means running the engine and a tumble dryer is only really possible with shore-power or a large integral generator.

Many urban canals – where we have to assume the biggest demand will come for residential moorings from those who want to work in the cities – are not exactly the most desirable places and I cannot see a great upsurge in demand for residential moorings along much of the BCN, or through the back end of Blackburn, Leicester or similar urban areas.

Houseboats, currently limited to the lower end of the Grand Union and parts of the London river system, may be a different proposition and I can see some entrepreneurial genius wanting to set up floating mobile home parks in the Home Counties but like marinas, they would have little impact on the waterways themselves, especially as these are floating homes that would never move.

I do see a steady growth in living on board narrowboats as more people use that as a way of taking retirement and limiting their living costs – but that will only happen if they have confidence in the future of our waterways and that is fairly limited while we go through the trauma of transition to some sort of charity.

Finally there may be an initial surge as more novices are encouraged to move onto the water but I suspect many will be moving ashore again fairly quickly as reality bites.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Another warm one

It’s certainly been another warm one today, with not that much to report.

Bernard disappeared down into the dock first thing this morning to put a new bottom rudder bearing on the boat currently in there; he has also given the engine a service and serviced the engine on Defiant.

Mick has fitted the lovely new hardwood cratch board to Calm Down that he has been making and we are now waiting for the canopy maker to come and pattern it up. He has then been looking at some charging problems on a private boat.

Matt has been cracking on with the boat in the wet dock – I’ll get you some pictures to view tomorrow.

We have had two more boats come in for brokerage and they are now advertised for sale and can be viewed on our website here

That’s about it for now I think.

Until tomorrow.



Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What a lovely day

What a lovely day it has been today. Glorious sunshine, I don’t know what temperature it has been, but it has certainly been a lot warmer than for the past few weeks.

I seem to have spent the majority of the day outside today, which has been a bit of luck I suppose, as I’ve been able to enjoy the sunshine. Firstly we had a boat to crane in and then I have given Steve a hand to load the sand and cement onto the boat and take it up the moorings so he can carry on.

Ange has been in the office/shop today and catching up with the laundry whilst Cheryl has been manning the tea room. We had to turn the freezers up about lunchtime as the sudden change in temperature played havoc with them.

Mick has been working on the cratch board that he has been making. Bernard has put the cylinder head back on that he has off on one of the brokerage boats and Julian has pressured washed a boat.

That’s it from me today. Enjoy your evening and what is left of the sun…



Monday, 26 September 2011


Well I’m back and in full swing at Norbury after a few days away boating with good friends. I don’t know where the days go to when you have a break, they just seem to fly by.

As you know Simon is away, so we have had a bit of piece and quiet today, which has given me time to get back into the swing of things and to get on top of things. Graham is also off for a few days. So we have been a bit short handed, but I don’t think it has caused us any problems as things are getting a bit quieter during the week now.

Cheryl’s done a good job of manning the tea room today. Mick’s been doing jobs on several private boats, Matt’s been painting on the boat he has in the dock at the moment and Steve’s been hard at work on the moorings.

That’s everything from me today.

Until tomorrow.

Best regards,


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Damp start

No I didn't need 'damp start' to get me going this morning however a sniff of easy start would have been useful this morning to get me out of my very warm and cosy bed, I looked out of the window and it was definitely a damp start to the morning, grey and overcast however i am suitably informed that next week is going to be the hottest week this year, apparently we are in for a mini heatwave, excellent as I am away, I am having a weeks break, I desperately need to catch up on some jobs at home!

Not really much to report about the 'goings on' at Norbury today, Mick has returned from the dead, he saw the two day boats out first thing, one of which were not quite with it when they turned up, they prevaricated between them selves about the money each of them had to pay, it made interesting watching as they all argued over money, Angela had to intervene in the end with a calculator to sort them out, Mick then went off to flood the dock, Fred is in today as he is putting his boat on the dock, so he pressure washed it himself which left Mick to do other jobs, He had an electrical job to sort out on a private boat and then set to on making a housing to fit on to an engine to facilitate its cooling, a bit of a tricky job but essential as it is an air cooled engine and when someone installed it in to the boat they neglected to fit it and ever since it has over heated! Angela has been catching up on washing and paperwork and Lorraine has been busy in the tea room all day.

As I said before I am off for a few days so David will keep you entertained in my absence, so until next week.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Busy busy Saturday

What a lovely start to a Saturday morning, the sun was shining when I awoke and when I arrived at Norbury it was well any truly a stunning morning, A little cold but then it is autumn, the day however became overcast and dull in the afternoon which was a shame for the new holiday makers when they arrived.

It been a very busy day today which is a Stark contrast to the rest of the week! We had three day boats out first thing this morning and what a lovely day they have had, we had four hire boats back in without any issues and couple of shared owned boats, Graham, Fred and Bernard turned the boats around and they have all got off this afternoon without any issues, I hope the weather stays nice this week so that they all have a lovely time, Graham went on to do some wiring and repairs on a private boat while Me and Bernard showed the people out on the hire boats, Freddie skulked off down the dock once he had finished pumping the hire boats out to go and finish off a blacking job and once the day boats had come back the lads dropped on to them and they are all ready for tomorrow.

That's it form me for today, I hope you all have a pleasant evening.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Steady Friday

The day started off nice and bright but there was a definite 'nip' in the air, my car was registering 7 degrees when I set off for work, I can see the temperature in the mornings dropping every day at the moment, some did report the other day that we are going to be in for another harsh winter again, where they got that information from I have no idea, I don't think anyone can predict that far ahead,The day warmed up a bit and the sun has stayed with us all day which has made it a really pleasant day!

Fridays can sometimes be a bit manic but today has been nice and steady, We had two day boats out this morning, they both headed off South to Wheaton Aston to have lunch at the Hartley Arms and returned having had a lovely day, all of the shared owned boats came back without issue, Fred duly pumped out all three of them out, we also had Summer wine and Phantasy return so Fred did them at the same time, he hasn't been under pressure today, Graham has been busy removing windows, welding and grinding the cabin job while Bernard has been engine servicing and general jobs on the boats, we haven't had Mick today, he has the flu, the tea room has kept Lorraine busy and Angela had to go and help out as it did get busy over the lunch time and stayed so for the afternoon, but the shop and wharf has been quiet again,the weekend will probably be a bit busier as we do have 10 boats out on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, talking of the weekend, I am working this weekend so David wont be doing the blog, I am afraid you will have to put up with me!!

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

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Whats happened?

Whats has happened, its like some one has shut the canal and the roads leading in to Norbury today, It has probably been the quietest day this year today, don't get me wrong we have seen a couple of boats on the wharf for services and all of the lads have been busy but it has seemed like a very quiet day indeed, usually the phones don't stop all day and we have a steady stream of people in and out of the shop, the weather hasn't been too bad today, well at least it hasn't rained so why has it been so quiet? Is it a sign of things to come? We usually have a pile of email enquiries to deal with, the odd breakdown or two and plenty of people milling around, in and out of the shop and tea room but not today!

I have been catching up with outstanding jobs like advertising etc, Lorraine has been tidying the shop up today and Cheryl came in to cover the lunch time rush, not that there was one! We did have two day boats go out this morning, Fred has been blacking and painting today, Bernard has been checking an electrical system out for faults, fitting anodes and making a fuel cap locking bar for a boat while Graham has been welding and grinding the the new cabin, Matt is still preparing the next boat for a full paint job and Steve is still hard at it on the moorings, they really are looking good now, talking of moorings we are nearly full so if you are looking for a lovely on line secure mooring in a beautiful location then drop us a line as the last few spaces are going fast.

That's it from me for another day, lets see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


I awoke this morning to the sun streaming in through the curtains and my drive this morning took me along some quiet country lanes past dew covered hedgerows and mist covered fields, as the sun was rising higher in the sky it was peeping through the tree lined lanes like fingers through the mist, it was just bloody gorgeous, trouble is it deteriorated as the day wore on and by lunch time the wind had increased and was blowing the lids off the bins and the chairs and tables around the wharf, so much for my thoughts of a nice day!

It has been a busy old day with one thing or another, One day boat out this morning, two boats un docked and another boat in for blacking and some touching up, I suppose it felt a bit busier today as Angela had an appointment to go to this morning and David id on his holidays so that left me and Lorraine holding the fort for a while until Angela returned, Graham had to go out on a breakdown to a stranded shared owned boat which left Bernard to get on with a few engine services and engine checks on some of the hire boats that are in at the moment, Freddie pressure washed the boat on the dock and then carried on with preparing the paintwork ready for some paint tomorrow and Matt has been preparing a boat for another full paint job as well as touching up a couple of boats that have been finished recently, one of the boats called Pheasey was collected today and the customers were over the moon wit it, they said that it has transformed the boat!

Quick message for Peter Quick from Angela, Were you on a quiz on the radio this morning? Angela said that if it was you then you wernt very good!!
Thats not very nice, I wouldnt have said that lol

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

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wet Tuesday

I awoke this morning to a damp miserable day and it has stayed like that pretty much all day to day here at Norbury, it has been raining moist of the day and has been heavy at times, we were waiting for a large order of coal to arrive, fortunately it was much later than anticipated and the rain stayed off until we had unloaded it, we always order most of our winter fuels well in advance and today saw about a fifth of it delivered, we had 20 tons of smokeless fuel and house coal turn up by Arctic, Isn't it a shame that that we have a boat yard on the canal yet it is cheaper and easier to have it delivered by road, how things have changed!

Its been a relatively quiet day today, a few pump outs on the wharf which has kept Fred busy, the shop and Tea room have been very quiet although that is to be expected given the weather, I have been busy all day along with Angela, she has been catching up after her week away and I have been invoicing and doing many other jobs as well as off loading the 20 tons of coal, all by my self! well I did use the Matbro.

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

Monday, 19 September 2011

Long stint ahead

Well Mondays come around far to quickly for my liking,especially when you have had a very enjoyable weekend,and I did indeed have a lovely weekend even if I did get drowned as a rat! I mentioned on Friday that I was off to the Southampton boat show over the weekend so I drove down on Friday evening, had a good run down there considering it was a Friday evening, on Saturday morning it threw it down,we sat in the boat and though that the day would be a wash out but not long after the sun appeared and we only had a couple of light showers during the day,the show was good and the new boats were amazing, we were very honoured to be given the guided tour of a 98 foot super yacht that was destined for its new owner in some warm foreign climate, the cost of this monster was a cool 7.6 million, I have placed an order for a couple for the hire fleet (in my dreams!) after spending all day at the show we left feeling a little deflated as we couldn't afford to buy anything other than a pot of super wax for our shoes!

Back to reality at Norbury and as the title suggests, its going to be a 'long stint' as David id off boating again so I will be in now for the next 7 days,its an agreement that me and David have, if one of us is off the other covers, and its my turn.

Its been a very busy day today, the shop and tea room have been quiet but me and David have been busy with all of the other stuff that requires attention on a daily basis, no day boats out today but we do have some out later on this week, Mick has been busy on several boats and finishing a few jobs off as well as getting one hire boat ready and the holiday cottage, Graham has been installing anew stern tube assembly and a Python drive assembly which Bernard will finish off tomorrow, Matt has started preparing the cabin for another full paint job,so they have all been busy.

That's it from me for tonight so until tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sundays always seem to fly by!

We got the day boats ready this morning which Mick dually showed out. We then had to float Battersea off of the dock and dock another boat for survey. Following the survey we floated that boat off and docked a private boat that needs its stern tube assembly replacing. Bernard has been in this afternoon and made a start at stripping it and blowing the boss out, which now means that it is now ready for Graham to attack tomorrow morning.

Lorraine has been catching up with the washing and has cleaned the few boats that we have had in. Ange has been back in following her holiday and has been catching up on paperwork. Jay and Jack have been in the tea room.

That’s it from me for this week. Simon will be back in tomorrow and I am off for a few days, bound for the Black Country Museum for the boat gathering there next weekend. So if you are about, pop by and say hello!

Best regards,


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Not for the faint hearted or inexperienced

I awoke this morning to hear that lovely sound of rain pitter pattering on the cabin top of the boat. I then realised that it was Saturday and today being a turn round day soon changed my thoughts about the rain… but amazingly by the time I came to work the sun had come out. We did have another short sharp shower this afternoon, but nothing to write home about. It's been a busy day with turnrounds, dayboats and the normal day-to-day stuff here.

I’ve had a really enjoyable week, both at work and at play!

I went over to meet Sue on Monday night who was at Retford on the little used Chesterfield Canal. After having dinner I drove over to Newark and left the car in the station car park and got the train back to Retford, therefore the car would be in the right location for me to jump in it and drive home after a couple of days.

I must say that the station at Newark Northgate is amazingly well kept and is a credit to the station staff. Here’s a view of the station with its unique clock.

After arriving back at Retford it was time to have couple of drinks and head off to bed, ready for the trip ahead.

Tuesday morning saw us leaving Retford and heading for West Stockwith where the Chesterfield Canal enters the River Trent. This canal is so peculiar in that below Retford the locks are wide and above are narrow – is there a reason for that? Here’s a shot of Thea in Whitsunday Pie lock – now how did they come up with that name? We slacked here and waited for Jim and Annie to catch us up with Elizabeth.

We rocked and rolled in a couple of places, but nothing too extreme. It is a very shallow canal and is in desperate need of dredging therefore you hardly make headway at a little above tickover. The two boats that we did meet coming in the opposite direction were just trying to drive their boats too hard and had the blades full with blanket weed and debris – one day they’ll learn to back off and they will actually be travelling at a more reasonable speed… Waterways have spent incredible amounts of money recently in piling the banks and fitting new lock gates. I just can’t understand the mentality. There must be a reason and whilst I agree that this waterway needs to be maintained it is hardly used whereas there are places on the rest of the network that need attention where they see thousands of boats pass a year.

Upon reaching West Stockwith we tied in the basin along with Marquis, Elizabeth and Aquarius. I then took the opportunity to take my first sighting of the tidal River Trent. Sue and I took Fly for a walk to find the entrance to the River Idle, which remarkably retains its navigable status. Here’s a picture of it’s tiny entrance – it must be interesting to enter it from the Trent…

After returning to the boats we got sorted out and spent a pleasant evening amongst friends in the Waterside Inn that over looks the basin.

We were up and waiting for the tide at 7am on Wednesday morning. I was amazed to see how quick the tide turned. Marquis and a local pleasure boat were first out, but before they could leave the lock they had to let an empty barge up the river. In the next locking was Aquarius and then it was time for us. Sue and I followed Jim with Elizabeth and we were soon out on the fast running tide. It’s a great sensation to be hurtling round bends at up to 12 mph at little above tickover (just enough to keep infront of the incoming tide), but it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted or inexperienced boatman.

We reached Cromwell lock in good time and ventured upto to Newark where I was to leave the boats. After having a look around this delightful town and having some dinner in Wetherspoons I drove back to Norbury. I must admit that it was quite nice to see the calm waters of the Shroppie, but I do enjoy boating on deep water although you wouldn’t catch me out there with a bolinder…

Until next time!

Regards, David

Friday, 16 September 2011

W-haaaaaaa, its FRIDAY

I know I shouldn't get excited and they do come around far to quickly but TFIF.....!!!
Its been a bit of a week this week so I am really glad that it is Friday, its 5.30 and its time to go and sit on the motorway and drive 180 miles all the way down to Southampton, Not really that exciting is it? However I am looking forward to going to the Southampton boat show this weekend, this is purely a work excursion as I am there checking out new products, well at least that is my excuse for going (don't tell the missus) there wont be any narrow boats there, its all mainly cruisers and sailing boats but a lot of the products do cross over in to the narrow boat world, so we will see whats new and I will report if anything is of interest.

Its been threatening rain all day and it finally came at around 4 o'clock, fortunately by that time all of the turnarounds had been done and most of the shared owners had turned up, all in all we have turned 7 boats, 1 day boat, two boats for B&B, the holiday cottage and loaded the other day boat with sand and cement and delivered that lot up the moorings, so not a bad day all in all.

That has got to be it from me for this week as I really need to get off now so until next week.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Its been a pleasant day here today, the weather has been kind to us and the sun has been out most of the day, it hasn't been that busy but its been steady!

We had two day boats out today, in fact we have had a very good run with the day boats this year and we have had two boats out nearly every day since July and 3 boats over a weekend, I am just about to go and look at another day boat for next year so we might have another for then.

This is going to be a very short post today as I need to get all sorted and shut up shop, there is only me in here at the moment as David is loading scrap on to the trailer, Loraine cleaning the day boats that were back late, so that's it from me for another day.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Lovely day

What a smashing day, it all started at a very blurry eyed 6.30 this morning, I did mention that I was going for a drink on my way home last night, well I didn't actually make home until the pub had shut, so I awoke this morning feeling a little worse for wear, it does need to be done sometimes just to let off steam! At 7am when I finally opened the curtains I was greeted by a wonderful autumnal day with the sun streaming through the bedroom window, a lovely damp smell in the air, I love mornings like that, apart from the hangover!

Well its been a bit of a busy day today, so much so that I am still here at 6 o'clock typing up the blog, Two day boats out again today with a lovely group of retired people, all 19 people loaded on to both boats and headed up to the wharf at Goldsatone for their lunch, they returned without incident, the boats were spotlessly clean and they had all had a wonderful time, they certainly had the weather for it today as the sun has shone all day long and I even managed to get my coat off this afternoon. Graham has been busy welding up the replacement cabin and welding up some dodgy rivets on the old boat in the dock, Bernard has been out on a breakdown and cast his eye over the hire boats that we have sat in the yard as well as several other jobs around the place, Fred has been cleaning out some of the brokerage boats that were in a bit of a state as well as looking after the many customers that have been on the wharf today and he and Matt then went off up the moorings and moved a few boats around to make room for Steve who is cracking on with the moorings at a steady pace, the girls have been busy in the shop and the tea room has been busy today so that has kept them out of mischief.

Well that's it from me for another day, so until tomorrow.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

13th Sepetember!

I really hope I don't have another day like I have had today for a long long time!

It all started off quite nicely, sun shining, day boats ready, boats waiting on the wharf for services, everyone in a good mood, however it didn't stay like that for long, the the sun, the wind and the torrential rain and some more wind have added to a pretty miserable day in all.

we have had a couple of silly breakdowns today which were down to customer error, a dry docking of an old working boat, the removal of a gearbox with a dodgy drive plate and numerous other jobs on boats, it would be lovely sometimes to just crack on with one job without being disturbed and then having to go on to another and then another! Still I suppose it make the day go quicker, and talking of how quick the day has gone, it is time for me to shut up shop and head to the nearest pub to home and have a beer, so that's it from me for another day.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Blown away

I bet from the title you are thinking that we have been blown away, well we haven't but I was 'blown away' when David told me just how many people are visiting our website, it is amazing to see so much traffic coming through both of our sites, the more they get clicked on the better our exposure on the search engines so a big thank you to each and everyone of you who have visited our sites this year, As the title also suggests it has also been an incredibly windy day today here at the wharf, I think it is definitely the tail end of the hurricane over in America, I don't remember it ever being this windy at this time of the year, we have had boaters in today that have said that it is a night mare today trying to control the boat.

No day boats out today although I am glad as with this wind it would cause them some serious problems, not only is the wind an issue but also at this time of year we start to have problems with leaves, yeah I know it sound like leaves on the track causing train delays but its true, the falling leaves at this time of year stay suspended in the canal and then get attached to the propeller which slows down the progress of the boat, when we tell people about this they laugh and say "never" people even come back from a weeks cruise and say that they have checked the prop and no leaves were found, well they wouldn't find any because as soon as the prop stops rotating then the leaves drop off, so if you are out boating at this time of the year just remember to give the engine a burst of reverse every so often to clear the prop.

The lads have all been busy today, Micky out on a breakdown, Matt flitting between painting jobs, Graham fitting a new stern tube assembly in the dry dock as well as fitting a new rudder bearing while Ralph has been sorting a couple of hire boats out that went out this afternoon.

I nipped out to do the banking this afternoon and there were loads of branches on the ground so I would be careful if you are out and about today and this evening.

That's about it from me for today, I am going to head home avoiding the lanes just in case there are any trees blown down!

Hope you all have a safe evening, batten down those hatches as we are in for a windy night.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Where has the day gone?

Well I don't know where the day has gone to. It's quarter to six and I've only just started writing the blog!

It's been a bit unsettled today. We've had a bit of rain and quite high winds again, although the sun has emerged at times...

Mick and Ralph saw to the dayboats this morning and then undocked Pat's boat and docked a boat that required a survey. Unfortunately the surveyor was a bit heavy handed with his hammer and managed to knock a hole through the hull. This turned out to be into the holding tank for the toilet. We don't tend to have any welders in on a Sunday, so I made a quick phone call to Bernard who was more than happy to pop in and patch it up for us. It was amazing as the rest of the boat is sound.

Bernard and Ralph subsequently have flooded the dock and put to more boats in ready to be docked in the morning. One for a new stern gear and the other for a propeller change - so that will keep Graham out of mischief tomorrow!

Jack and Jay have been busy in the tearoom whilst Cheryl has been cleaning boats and Lorraine has been catching up in the laundry and manning the shop and phones.

That's about it from me today.

Until next weekend.

Best regards,


Saturday, 10 September 2011

It’s been windy here today; windy enough to blow the lids off of the bins and to scatter the chairs across the wharf and now it’s decided to rain heavily. Not a good start for the people setting off on the hire boats today, but I am sure the weather will pick up later in the week.

We had three day boats out this morning and we have turned eight boats around today. That has kept everyone busy. Lorraine has been in the office and looking after the customers today as Ange is on holiday for a week. Bernard has been down in the depths of the engine rooms again whilst Fred has been doing the pumpouts etc. Ralph and Bill have been on internals and Mick had a few things to put right.

One of the jobs Mick had to do was to get a Mikuni diesel heater working on one of the shared owned boats. Unfortunately these heaters will not fire up if they haven’t got sufficient power to them and this then leads to them coking up. I was talking to the owner of another hire firm only the other day that have their whole fleet fitted with diesel fired heating. They tell their hirers to start the engine before switching the heating on and then leave the engine running for a further 30 minutes. I think that is a great idea.

Have a good evening.

Best regards,


Friday, 9 September 2011

A question of speed

Today we have another guest blog by Peter Underwood.

We have just finished one of the busiest parts of the year on the waterways and, inevitably the question of speed past moored boats raised its head. In fact a friend of ours posted on British Waterways’ Facebook page bemoaning the need to travel at 2mph past lines and lines of moored boats.

The result was the usual flurry of boaters arguing the toss which even developed into what one correspondent described as a ‘willy-waving’ contest about boating skills.

Can I plead guilty on all counts (except the willy-waving)?

When I owned a boat for weekends and holidays there have been times when – determined to complete a route on a long day – I may not have slowed down as much as I could have done.

And when I have been moored and a boat has rushed past at a speed sufficient to keep a water-skier upright I have been known to bellow in a less than polite way.

It has taken years to get to the point where I only complain about the fastest speeding boats and that has probably only come about because I have learned the best way to moor my boat so it is relatively unaffected by large amounts of water being drawn away from underneath it.

I will always try to have my bow and stern lines at a 45 degree angle to the bank, I never use a centre rope when permanently moored and I will use a springer line running towards the centre of the boat at 45 degrees from bow or stern if the mooring site is difficult. In addition, on soft ground I will use crossed pins to minimize any tendency for them to pull out.

That means my complaints about speeding boats are much more muted and I feel less stressed as a result.

As for being the culprit, I acknowledge that I am lucky in that now we are liveaboards and cruise all year round, we rarely put time pressures on ourselves so dawdling past moored boats is rarely as frustrating as it must be for others with a deadline.

Even then, the advice given by British Waterways and others to ‘slow down to tickover’ or limit your speed to 2mph is pretty meaningless. Whether or not you disturb moored boats depends on a variety of factors:

How deep is the canal?

How deep in the water is your boat?

How soft is the bank?

How well are the boats moored?

How wide is the canal?

Loaded working boats, drawing 3ft or more are going to be pushing a lot more water ahead of them and draining more water from beneath the boats they pass than a modern boat with much less below the water line.

A shallow canal means there is less water all round, so when it is moved by a passing boat it has more impact on a moored boat.

My solution is a pragmatic one. I slow down when I come up on a moored boat and I simply check their lines to see whether I am causing too much disturbance. If the moored boat is pulling at its mooring lines then I slow even more and use that as a gauge for the remainder of that section of canal. On a deep river section or a wide canal it is possible to pass a little faster than on a shallow, narrow one like the Shroppie. Commonsense really, although that will never satisfy the moorer who judges speed by engine note and decides anyone with a fast tickover is going too fast.

So far in 2011 I have been shouted at once, by a moored boat on the offside that I simply didn’t see as it was obscured by vegetation and not shouted at anyone – although I have been known to mutter to myself a few times as we rocked and rolled in the wake of a passing boat.

I’m getting more relaxed about it – how about you?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Our heritage?

It does make me wonder where it will all end up? we all know that we are in a so called recession and some economists and so called experts are calling this a double dip recession, I personally think that the country was heading nicely out of the recession until the new government stuck their bloody great oar in to the pond and well and truly stirred it all up again, We are all too worried about the future to make any big finical decisions and even small financial decisions are thought about with a lot more care, all this has a spiraling effect which slows the economy down, as businesses we are not the only ones to really feel the effect our heritage is also feeling the impact of the ever slowing economy, whilst taking to an acquaintance of mine recently we had a conversation about a heritage vessel called the Waverley paddle steamer which is a beautiful vessel and it transpires that because of the cost of fuel it is becoming uneconomical to operate and therefore its not earning enough money to keep up with her maintenance costs and it looks like she will have to come out of service, very sad and it makes me wonder how long will it be before we see other historic boats, museums etc finish because of mounting costs, will we see parts of the canal system shut because there are not enough staff to operate it or maintain it? BWB have already sold off most of its historic craft and now it is slowly selling off its properties, will they start to sell off the canals as well, The Shropshire union canal could end up being owned by the Chinese and then its name would end up appearing like this 什羅普郡聯盟運河 and the Birmingham canal navigation's would look like 伯明翰運河導航 and be full of even more junk.

Anyway back to today, its been lovely, no wind, a bit of sun and a nice easy day, all the lads have been busy, Graham welding down in the bowls of the dry dock, Bernard has finished the engine installation and has been engine servicing and fitting batteries amongst other jobs, Matt has been painting and Fred has been blacking, moving boats, being a pain, moving sand and cement up the moorings, being a pain, doing pump outs Oh and did I mention being a pain?

That's it from me for today

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Big Thank you

I was really surprised by the amount of response to my post yesterday about moving some boats, A really big thank you to everyone that has replied with offers, Sorry that most of you will be disappointed in not getting a trip but in future when I have boats that need moving I will definitely be posting the information both on here and on Face book so keep your eyes open, If for any reason any one should drop out I will then contact the next person on the list, so a big thanks again!

Well thank God for that, the wind died down in the night and things got back to Normal here at Norbury for a while but then this afternoon it picked back up again and blew a bloody gale, It was so Windy here yesterday, you could hardly walk along the wharf and again this afternoon, I wonder if it was anything to do with the storms that parts of America have had recently, I don't know as I am not a meteorologist! The temperature has improved a little today as well, again thank God for that as I really do feel the cold!

Busy day today, one day boat out, one boat swapped around in the dry dock and one swapped around in the painting dock, Graham has been busy all day with the roof on the re-cabin, Bernard with finishing off the engine installation, Fred with pressure washing and general jobs around the yard, The tea room and shop have been a bit quiet which has enabled Angela to really get on top of her jobs, thats Good because she is on holiday next week, I have managed to catch up on loads of jobs as well.

That's it from me for today.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Free holiday any one?

I have been working really hard this year to improve everything at Norbury and that includes our hire fleet, well I am definitely on the way, we have gone from having one or two hire boats when we first started to now having 10 hire boats 2 motor homes, two day boats and 11 shared owned boats oh and not forgetting the holiday cottage, this next coming season we will see some additions to the hire fleet but a few of the shared boats are leaving for pastures new, so from Easter next year we will be operating 17 hire boats, 3 day boats and about 10 shared owned boats, number still to be confirmed on the shared boats but that is pretty close, We will now be operating some of hire boats as dedicated Friday boats that are capable of doing short breaks as well as week long breaks and of course our standard Saturday boats, keep your eye out for our new 2012 brochure which will be out at the end of September (if David gets it finalised in time), This brings me on nicley to why I put "free holiday" in the title, some of the new addition boats are coming from other hire fleets and they are based elsewhere around the system so if any of you who are experienced in handling a boat fancies a free weekend break or a week break totally free of charge drop me an email and I can let you have the details of where some of the boats are and the dates that they can be collected, the dates will all be at the end of October though!

Wowser what a windy day, I wouldn't have fancied being on the canals in this wind today, Jay has had to stack all of the chairs up on the wharf and the retched dustbin lid out side of the office has been blowing off all day, its been like one of them American deserted towns from an old western movie with the dust and balls of scrub grass rolling down the street, well we don't have a street, its a canal but I am sure you get the picture? We had the one day boat cancel at the last minute so no boats out today, we have seen a few boats on the wharf but no where near the numbers we have been seeing, its back to school today for most kids and you can really see that things are quieter now, at least it gives us the chance to play catch up, Fred is back off his holidays and is working without a moan today, how long that will last for I have now idea but I am enjoying the moment while it lasts, he blacked a boat first thing this morning and then went off to the Haberdashers Arms to deliver 1/2 ton of house coal, that's it now, as the Autumn is up on us we will be doing our normal winter fuel deliveries around our local area, don't forget folks that if you want some fuel we do deliver but a minimum quantity does apply! Fred then went down the moorings to strim the grass and tidy up, Matt has been painting again all day, Bernard has been welding anodes, rudder bearings and engine servicing while Micky has attended a break down on a private boat and then carried on with fitting new fuel hoses, fitting a new engine control panel and several other jobs on boats around the yard, Jay and Cheryl have looked after the shop which has left Angela to get on with her most important paperwork and not to mention all the other jobs that she has on the go at any one time.

Well that's it from me for yet another day, I hope the wind dies down a bit tonight.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Busy Monday

Today started a bit grey and it has been a bit grey all day, it rained a bit and the sun did not put in an appearance all day, I suppose it is autumn after all.

Its been a busy day today, so much so that I have forgotten much of what has gone on, We have had two day boats out and a hire boat out this afternoon, The lads have all been busy on there respective jobs, the tea room was quite busy considering it was a grey old day but the shop has been busy, yet the wharf has been quiet!

More traffic on the web than this canal now! I was looking at our website just before I started to type this blog and I was amazed at how many hits our main website has had sine the counter reset back in January, we have had a massive 100000 hits1 I wish the canal had seen as many boats.

I have a meeting to go to this evening so that's it from me for today.
Until tomorrow. Simon

Sunday, 4 September 2011


I went over to the Shackerstone family festival last night. It has to be said that it is my favourite gathering. I’ve been every year for about ten years, so I felt that I had to put in an appearance. It was great to see everyone, but somehow it’s not quite the same going by car. It’ll have to be back on my agenda for next year…

The Ashby canal is delightful. It isn’t the deepest, but if you just slow down you can sit back and take in the scenery. I went up there about four years ago with 18 tonnes of coal on Hyperion and didn’t get stuck anywhere, except for when I misjudged turning onto the aqueduct at Shackerstone – but you learn from your mistakes!

Here's Hyperion with all the other historic boats at Shackerstone.

When I got back to Norbury this morning it had been raining. It’s been a bit grey today, although the sun has showed its face occasionally today. I’m told that the long range forecast is quite good for September, so if anyone is planning on getting away after the school holiday’s it seems like it will be a good month for it.

It’s been another good week on the boat sales front. We have sold both reference 10241 and Jenny Ann Too. We now have just half a dozen boats on our books, so if you are looking at selling your boat – Look no further! You can call either Simon or me any day of the week. If you would like to view all of the boats that we currently have for sale click here.

It has been a bit quiet here today. We did have three dayboats go out this morning and we have had a number of boats on the wharf for services, but no where near the number we usually have on a Sunday. Ralph’s pressure washed a boat on the dock. Mick went out on a breakdown this morning and he has been carrying on with the engine fit in La Valeria.

Steve and Aaron have been working up the moorings today, yes I know it’s a Sunday, but we needed to make some headway with the path.

Lorraine has been cleaning a couple of boats and Ange has been getting on top of the laundry in between her normal daily tasks. Jay and Jack have manned the tea room.

We are now getting people enquiring about winter moorings and a couple have already booked a slot. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were organising the winter moorings last year, and so much has happened since then – doesn’t time fly? We still have space available, so I suggest you contact us as soon as you can if you need one. We can cater for live aboards too.

Talking about ‘live aboards’ I have now published on our website the first six parts of a twelve part series on the joys and pitfalls of living afloat that has been published in Towpath Talk over the past few months. Written by waterways journalist Peter Underwood, it is based on his eight years of living on board his boat Blackberry Way. Follow this link to find out more.

Well, Simon will be back to keep you entertained tomorrow, so that’s it from me until next week!

Have a good week.

Best regards,

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Well I don't know where the day has gone to.

We had three day boats out again this morning and we've turned seven boats and one of the motorhomes round today. It has gone very smoothly and as I write the last boat is being shown out. So it won't be a late night for us tonight.

Work has been progressing elsewhere around the yard with Graham making headway with the cabin job and both Mick and Bernard installing the new engine on La Valeria.

I don't know what's gone wrong with the fluorescent tubes in the office and shop, but it's like been in a night club - strobe effect! Once Mick has looked at the dayboats I am sure he will sort them out...

I've had my boat on the dock for the last few days. That's kept me occupied during the evenings. It seems a bit quiet now my parent's have gone back to Spain.

That's all from me today.

Best regards,


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Balmy afternoon

What a lovely day, It was a bit nippy this morning although it is now officially the first day of autumn! but the day has been superb, the sun came out and it has been simply stunning with the sun blazing all afternoon, which has bought the folks out in there masses, well not quite there masses but lots of people anyway!

Its been a busy day in general, two day boats out first thing, it should have been three but one cancelled due to an unexpected illness, Graham is making good progress with the cabin and it should be done within the next couple of weeks, Bernard has nearly finished on the engine installation, Micky just needs to wire it up now, Steve and Aron are making excellent progress with the moorings in fact as we speak they are just taking another load of sand and cement up the moorings.

That's it from me for today as i need to help with loading some sand and cement so until tomorrow.