Shop front in the summer

Monday, 31 October 2011

Its Dark

It's horrible, this time of year that is! When it goes dark earlier in the day it doesn’t feel right still being at work, I also think that all of the people who work here think the same because as it gets dark they slow down and try and skulk off early! It does make the evenings seem really long though, I wish this country would do away with swapping the hours around and just stick to British summer time, I prefer the dark mornings to the dark nights! It also makes the customers stay away.

Its been a quiet day, as you would expect really as it was the last day of the cruising season and it is now that BWB historically start on their winter maintenance program, we have been lucky this year as there are not many stoppages in our neck of the woods but even so the canal system does go very quiet, everyone has been busy here today though with our year end, stocktaking and finishing off the outstanding jobs prior to starting on this years mammoth winter maintenance program on our boats, alls being well work will commence tomorrow on winterising some of the boats before the bad weather descends on us, I don’t suppose that will be far away now, funny to think that last year it was only two weeks on from now that the snow came, Bbrrrr I am not looking forward to that, I hope you are all well and truly stocked up with your winter fuels?

That’s it from me for today

Sunday, 30 October 2011

That’s it. British Summer Time has ended and we are in for some dark nights ahead! I was amazed to find that my phone automatically updated itself. It did confuse me a little, but after taking a look at the clock I have on the bulkhead, all became clear!

Bernard got the dayboat ready this morning for the happy crew and I showed it out. They had a brilliant day in glorious sunshine. You just can’t predict what the weather is going to do at the moment. Yesterday we had rain and wind, today we have had sun.

Julian, Bernard and I have docked one of the brokerage boats and also Phantasy as we are now due to start winter maintenance. It’s seems like this year has flown by, so much has happened, lots of water under the bridge. I am sure that next season will go even quicker with more boats – and hopefully as smoothly as this.

Matt has been in for a few hours today to get ahead with the painting of The Arkenstone. Cheryl has been getting on with stock taking. Lorraine has manned the tearoom and Ange has been doing her normal daily tasks, ensuring that she is up-to-date as she is off on holiday for a week.

I’m off home to get some chores done tonight.

Have a good week and speak to you next weekend.

Best regards,


Saturday, 29 October 2011


I went to a Halloween party last night, which was great fun… It’s always good to catch up with friends too and hear the latest news from around the canal network. It's amazing the effort that so many people put into their costumes. I on the other hand felt a bit out of place, although I have never been keen on dressing up!

That meant that I wasn’t up as early as normal this morning, so Annie only got a very quick walk before I headed into work. The sun was shining although it was cold – I reckon it was the coldest night so far. One of our customers’s who travelled back from Wheaton Aston claimed that Jack Frost had paid a visit, although I am yet to see him!

All of the boats returned without issues and we have only turned two shared boats around, which has meant that today has seemed a bit quiet compared to any other Saturday.

We had a dayboat book last minute, which departed at about 11 and were back ontime for 4.30.

We have seen a few working boats through in the last few days which have included Iain and Clair’s ex-FMC motorboat Plover and John and Sue Yates’ ex-GUCCCo. Motorboat Buckden, both of which were heading in a southerly direction for the winter.

Not much more to report today, so until tomorrow!

Best regards,


P.S. Don’t forget to change your clocks!

Friday, 28 October 2011


It was an interesting post by Peter with some unusual views and it is nice to see some interesting comments as well, I will keep my thoughts on the subject to myself, I will say that for many years I was a 'continuously cruiser' for most of the time I played by the rules however I did take advantage of the very slack BWB attitude in the winter and definitely overstayed on short stay moorings, however that was a long time ago and before it started to become such a big issue as it seems to be now!

I have been out all day today so I cannot really comment on what has been going on back at the fun factory, I have been to a popular spot on the canals to view one of the hire boats that is due to arrive with us shortly and while there I did notice a group of boats that had obviously taken up residence on the towpath side,and had been there for a good while, they are nothing more than dossers that take advantage of loop holes and hide behind 'human rights' these are the people that need taking to task in my opinion, lets see BWB or CART as it will soon be 'cart' them off, then I reckon continuous cruising should not be such an issue!

This is of course my opinion

I am sure that David will post some interesting things about what is going on this weekend at Norbury, so until Monday.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Boaters often get themselves into a bit of a state

Another guest blog from Peter Underwood today...

Boaters often get themselves into a bit of a state over the continuous cruiser / continuous moorer debate, and that isn’t helped by British Waterways’ failure over many years to get a grip on the subject.

I am currently on the lower reaches of the Grand Union where, like the rivers and canals in London itself, those around Oxford and the Kennet and Avon near Bath, the problem is particularly obvious.

For some people it is the prospect of slowing down while passing miles of moored boats that causes them to break into a rant. Others object to those who fail to either pay for or display a licence and yet seem to manage to stay moored to the bank.

Others object to boats dumped for at least two weeks at a time by owners who refuse to pay for a mooring and some simply believe that because they pay to moor everyone else should, especially if they stay in one small length of canal.

Speak to any boaters, anywhere on the system and they will tell you of a boat that has been in the same position, tied up to the towpath, for months and even years. It is never moved on by BW staff and seems impervious to all rules and regulations.

Now I don’t know how those boats and their owners get away with it, it is one of the great mysteries of the waterways.

I hear unsubstantiated tales of BW staff being too frightened to challenge the owner and the conspiracy theorists hint darkly at back-handers or explain that, as the owner lives on board the Human Rights Act means they can’t be deprived of a home.

Personally, I blame inertia and confusion. Even the latest amendments to the Continuous Cruiser rules have left BW bankside staff unable to explain to boaters just how far and how often they have to move to be in the rules. As a result it is easier not to upset the status quo, especially in the areas we mentioned where many boaters live on board, work and bring up families locally, and don’t want to move very far.

You also get rumours springing up amongst those mooring in an area. One current at Rickmansworth at the moment is that if they buy a winter mooring BW won’t hassle them to move on for the rest of the year. I have contacted the regional manager for the South East to ask him whether there is any truth in that rumour but he hasn’t replied. Of course, it is only credible at all because of BW’s historic failure to deal with the continuous moorer issue.

Officially recognised residential moorings on the Grand Union at Rickmansworth

It is just that type of situation BW’s Head of Boating Sally Ash is claiming to be sorting out on the River Lee (popular because boats only need a river licence and so pay half the normal fee) by designating ‘zones’ and changing those who don’t want to move very far – but don’t want to pay for a very expensive London mooring - an additional licence fee.

I am told there are some clauses being built into those additional licences that may mean they are self-limiting; with plans to only give them to those currently on the river and rescinding them if they change jobs or their children finish school.

To me that seems pointless and the concept of a special licence for those who want to move within a limited area, especially if it goes to pay for the establishment of new visitor moorings and facilities that are also used by cruising boats – and if the capacity at any mooring site is limited to 50% of the space for those with the special licences – then everyone benefits.

I suspect something similar would be welcomed in those other continuous mooring ‘hotspots’

Of course, it would create more linear moorings, as will the London plan to establish more offside formal residential mooring sites on the Lee and elsewhere, but if you are annoyed by having to slow down for moored boats perhaps you should buy something sea-going instead.

One of the real virtues of our waterways is a slow pace of life, get used to it.

But the devil in all such plans is the detail of enforcement. Just as it is pointless having 48 hour mooring places in the depths of the countryside on the Shropshire Union when the canal is only patrolled every couple of weeks or so and the patrol officer has no way of knowing whether a boat has been there one day or 13 days, it is pointless having those roving permits for certain areas unless they are enforced.

The starting point is enforcing the rule that says every boat must have a name and its registration number displayed on both sides at all times – preferably painted on.

The number of boats we pass not showing a number, or a name and very frequently no licence, is growing all the time and just makes life even more difficult for patrol officers and licence checkers.

Get that right and you can start enforcing the same rules for every boater. I would suggest that, with the possible exception of 48 hour moorings at genuine hotspots, the 14 day rule ought to apply across the country to all boaters regardless of whether they are continuous cruisers. Let’s get rid of the complicated 5-day or 7-day moorings along with the 24 hour ones and just have two types – 48-hour and 14-day.

Apart from designated zones where a limited number of boats may have paid for roving permits over a short stretch, it will be easy to see whether a boat that was there two weeks earlier is still there, if sufficient visits are made by patrol officers.

Make it easier still by allowing other boaters and walkers to report, perhaps along with dated photographs, boats that have exceeded the 14-day rule.

I appreciate that this could catch those who want to leave their marina and visit the same spot three weekends running but I can only suggest they try somewhere different.

The same goes for unnamed boats with no registration number; they can be reported, with pictures and patrol officers told to check them out on their next visit.

The reality is that there should be no hiding place on the canals and the proper enforcement of much simplified rules will allow the vast majority who do not attempt to cheat the system to get on with their lives, whether as continuous cruisers, continuous moorers or occasional users, without harassment. Meanwhile, BW and then the CandRT can focus on the offenders.

Eventually the rest of us won’t be wondering why the same boat is in the same place on the towpath, with no licence after another 12 or 18 or 24 months.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

ANOTHER sunny day!

It is getting harder at this time of year to get out of bed when it is dark and of course it seems even darker until the clocks change this coming weekend, so don't forget folks, the clocks go back an hour on Sunday! it will still be a bit on the dark side however and when you are tucked up in a nice warm bed it is even harder still, just wait until the snow arrives, But that could be a long way off and judging by this incredible weather we are having, the sun has been shining yet again today and looooooong may it continue!

Thanks to Ange for writing the blog yesterday, and while she was making Marks tea! she really does know how to multitask, she does it very well at work too!

Its been a nice busy week so far but I guess that the kids holidays have helped that along as well as this wonderful weather, no day boats out today but we have had a hire boat go out for a few days, the lads undocked a boat today and promptly docked another one, Freddie then pressure washed it down, Bernard set to on servicing the engine while Graham welded a new set of sacrificial anodes on to the hull, Mags returned with a couple of small problems on her boat today, you will remember her boat (calm down) the one that has just been painted, she thought that the engine wasn't charging but all was fine so off she went again, a happy lady!

That's it from me for today.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

multi tasking

hi everyone, there isn't really that much news from norbury today. it has been quite busy in the shop and the tea room and as the title suggests, that is what i have been doing. cheryl has been cleaning the lads mess room today and it really was a mess, how they can eat their lunch in there is beyond belief, they never clean up after themselves and simon and david thought it a good idea for one of us "girlies" to clean it for them and they would take the hint, never in a month of sundays, it will be just as bad again in no time, as my mum always says it makes you wonder what their houses are like, probably spotless as they have their WAG'S to look after them. i had a lovely coversation with a lady in the tea room today (while the phone was ringing it's head off and i was in the shop on my own), but she was so sweet i couldn't ignore her. she asked me whether our canal painted ware was done locally and i assured her that it was as the gentleman that bought my boat from me 4 years ago did it for us, and what a good job he does, keep up the good work tim, customers like what you do. well that's that it from me today, i am multi tasking as i write this blog, cooking a birthday meal for mark my hubby, everything is almost done so i am going to plate up and enjoy, till next time byeeeee, ange.

Monday, 24 October 2011


As you know I have been down in London for a few days and I have to say that the weather has yet again been stunning as it is today, I think we are very lucky this year with this later good weather that we are having, long may it continue! Norbury is a bit different to London in terms of people, London was heaving, everywhere we went was packed so it is funny coming back in to work this morning as the place seems almost like a ghost town, it hasn't however been quiet today and we have seen a lot of boats passing through and the wharf has been busy, at one point we had boats querying up for services, that has kept David busy, as well as the wharf being busy we have had a day boat go out with the occupants of our holiday cottage, so while it might not be at the 'London' pace of things its none the less kept us all on the go today!

Mick is off this week so today we are a few people down today, Angela is off and so is Bernard and Fred, We do have Matt in and he is busy on preparation of the full paint job in the dock, Graham is also in and he is busy with making a new diesel tank for a boat that we are fitting a new central heating system on and Julian has blacked a boat in the dry dock.

The new brochure has been well received by folks and ALL of the first copies have gone, well done to David for making a good job of it, there are some more pictures to go in to it but they will be inserted once the new boats have arrived, the new boats have not yet been included on to the websites but that is all in hand and they should appear by the weekend (hopefully)

We might start to skip a couple of days with the blog over this winter as I don't reckon there will be too much to write, once we get stuck in to the winter maintenance it will be very repetitive, but if there is anything of real interest to report then we will do so.

That's it from me for today

Sunday, 23 October 2011

It’s been a quieter day here at Norbury today.

We haven’t had many boats passing by although we have had some friends up on their ex-working boats to top up with diesel. It’s amazing how many people go out their way and make a detour up the Shroppie just to buy diesel from us! Lucy also came up with The North from Wheaton Aston today for lunch along with a motley crew. They left here about 3.30pm so will hopefully be back for when I get home. Roast Beef tonight supplied by some farming friends in Wheaton Aston. I think there are only seven of us for dinner tonight, although we have catered for fourteen.

Mick and Julian have undocked Ralph’s boat and docked a boat that we have recently sold for pressure washing, blacking and a new set of anodes to be fitted which Graham will attend to tomorrow.

Mick has been on a breakdown to Cut End, nothing serious, just a morse control cable that had broken. It must be the day for cables breaking as when Ralph was manoeuvring his boat out the arm earlier, his broke too!

I’ve had a move round of boats down the arm again today! The arrival of a couple of winter moorers and another long term moorer is imminent.

Simon will be back from London in the morning, so he will keep you posted for the rest of the week.

Until next week.

Have a good road!


Saturday, 22 October 2011

The brochures have arrived…

As the title of this blog suggests, our hire boat brochures and day boat leaflets for 2012 have now arrived from the printers. Ange has been busy sending them out to customers that have requested copies and bookings are now starting to flow in. So, don’t miss out, send us an email with a postal address and we will send you a copy of the brochure to you. Don’t forget that we have seven additional boats for next season too, so I am sure that no body will be disappointed. As the boats arrive I will get some pictures of them and do a review of each one for you. Make sure you take advantage of the discounts on offer. Each returning customer will receive a 5% discount. Second and subsequent consecutive weeks booked attract a 15% discount and Flotilla’s receive a 5% discount.

We’ve had a busy day today. One day boat out this morning. We’ve turned a couple of shared boats around and seen four of our own boats out and also have new occupants in the holiday cottage.

Graham has started fitting a diesel tank into the front of one of our moorers boats that we will be fitting a diesel stove into next week.

Bernard has engineered the hire fleet and has been getting an engine up and running on one of the brokerage boats. It had suffered from fuel starvation. The fuel filter was blocked, so that has been changed. He then discovered that the lift pump was leaking so that has also been changed. It’s all up and running now.

Fred has been on his normal duties; pumpouts, gas, diesel etc. He has also washed all of the boats that have gone out and then done some jobs around the yard.

Lorraine has manned the tea room today, and Ange the shop. Cheryl finished cleaning the boats and has cleaned the cottage.

Until tomorrow,

Best regards,


Friday, 21 October 2011

Dark nights

They are on their way... Dark nights that is. It's just gone ten past five and the light is already fading.

I really do enjoy the Autumn but it seems to come around so quickly. I'd be much happier if the summer lasted a lot longer, but then we would probably have even more water shortages.

It's been quite a busy day here today. We've turned a number of the shared boats round, sent two motor homes out and been cracking on with some jobs on a couple of private boats. The girls have been up to their normal duties, cleaning, washing, manning the tea room and ofcourse Ange has been in the office and shop.

The following video has not long been uploaded to e-bay. Sit back in front of your fire tonight, relax and take in some heritage! The backing music was provided by a good friend of mine; David Blagrove.

That's it from me today.

Until tomorrow.

Best regards,


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Down the "big smoke"

Its funny to think of London as the "big smoke" as it was often referred to by many people and some boatmen, it was labeled as such since the late 19Th century, and applied in particular to the Great smog of 1952, You cant imagine London being covered in a 'Great smog' Well I hope it isn't this weekend as I am venturing down there, No doubt when I am there I will have a mooch around some of the canals (as you do) and maybe a trip along the Thames, this is of course a working weekend of research!!

I hope the weather over the weekend stays like it has been here today, it has been glorious, very cold this morning on my way in to work but the sun has been shining all day.

Its been a busier day today and we have seen quite a few boats passing, I don't usually notice many hire boats yet I have seen a few today. we have had a few boats in on the wharf for services of which David has taken care of, David has been outside most of the day moving boats around as we are now starting to fill up, once the hire boats have slowed down and the shared boats start to filter back in we fill up very quickly and then we have to shuffle all of the boats around to make so space for everyone, its a bit like a puzzle at times, wondering what boat will fit in to what space etc, Bernard has been busy all day again doing engine servicing, we do seem to have done a lot of engine servicing this year and its funny as Bernard commented on that fact as well and he never usually mentions the work load! Graham has been busy with making a new diesel tank for a central heating system and also making new deck boards for a boat, Poor old Matt was not feeling well today and his sander packed up so I suggested that he called it a day, I think he was very happy with that outcome! Fred has been off all week and he returns tomorrow so I suspect he will be grumpy in the morning, he has an easy day tomorrow, only a few pump outs to do, so if you are reading this Fred, don't worry you've got a nice easy day!

That's it from me for today and this week in fact, David will no doubt be writing up the blog and keeping you up to speed with the happenings over the weekend, so until Monday, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

12 Months!!!!!

Thanks to Lorraine Lintern who sent Angela an email yesterday about hiring a boat next year and for pointing out that yesterday on the 18th October the blog celebrated its first year, I find it hard to believe that it was a year ago yesterday that we started the blog, that is nearly 365 posts and amazing 36000 visitors! A HUGE thanks goes out to everyone that has replied to posts, read the posts, contributed towards the content, and Angela and David for taking the time to post things in my absence!

Its been a tough year for everyone in business and everyone in general, the government has squeezed us ALL as tight as they dare and this has caused a lot of companies to go under and many more companies to lay off staff and cut back, we on the other hand have had the same sort of year as previous years, albeit income from different areas, however we are feeling the pinch as our costs rise, we have had a good year in terms of hiring, this is one aspect of the business that seems to be up, which has made up for other areas that are down, I have taken the decision on the strength of this to increase the fleet as I have previously mentioned, Bold or foolhardy? well only time will tell, but what I do know is that sitting back and just accepting that we are earning less is not going to pave a way forward for the future for any of us, I think we need to invest more to earn more even if it is only going to be a small return on our investment, at least it is a return!

We normally have an end of season party in October, sadly not this year, as I said earlier, our costs have risen and to that end we will now have a party every other year, so sorry to all of our valued customers and friends who we enjoy seeing so much at the party, we are still here and you are all more than welcome to come down at any time and have a drink and a chin wag, as a lot of you already do!

I would like to take the opportunity through this blog to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has supported us in everyway this last year, My family for all of there help around the place, all of my staff for there continued efforts, and most importantly, our customers, without you we don’t have a business!

Keep reading the blog!



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Not enough hours

Sorry for not posting a blog yesterday, there was just not enough hours in the day yesterday to get everything done, I had to go out yesterday afternoon to drop off the new hire brochure to the printers so we can get them printed by the end of this week, we have a backlog of customers awaiting them so they can choose a holiday for next year, trouble is while I was out I had a puncture, I popped in to Kwik fit to get it repaired only to find that my wheel was cracked, by the time I got back in to the office it was time to lock up and head home, once home I had too much to do to write the blog!

It was a very busy day yesterday with customers as well as all of the other stuff that we do,I thought that it was going to be a quite day but how wrong was I!

Today has started off really sunny but incredibly cold, I suppose it doesn't help that I have the onset of a cold! David was right about needing a heater in the office, that's now been done so at least my bum is nice and warm now. Its hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago I was sunning my self in temperatures close to 30 degrees and swimming in the sea down on the south coast, all good things come to an end.

We are still busy with all of the private work that we have on the go at the moment, this is keeping all of the lads busy and we are just about to get busier as from this weekend we start to see the new hire boats that are arriving here for us to operate next year, its going to be a busy year I reckon, It has been quieter in the office today which has afforded me some time to catch up a little, I am having a short week this week as I am off to London on business on Friday so I really need to catch up before hand.

As I said, the lads are all busy, Mick is on several jobs, fitting an air duct on to an air cooled engine, he has finished off all of the outstanding jobs on the boat that Matt has painted, Bernard has been engine servicing all day and he will be doing the same tomorrow as there is a bit of a back log in that department at the moment, Graham is off today and Fred is off all week, Matt is preparing yet another boat for painting and Steve is cracking on really well with the moorings, he really needs to get them finished as we are now officially full to the brim with moored boats, I don't even think that there is room to squeeze in a 'little un' we could now do with a marina!

That's is pretty much it from me for today, I am off home now to a roaring fire to try and get warm.


Sunday, 16 October 2011


It's been an absolutely glorious day again today, although slightly on the chilly side. We will soon have to start having a heater on in the office to keep us warm!

There's been a number of boats on the Wharf today to take advantage of the services that we offer (gas, pumpout and ofcourse diesel).

Mick and Julian were busy shifting boats most of the morning. They have got Calm Down out of the painting dock and put her in the dry dock. Julian has pressure washed her off this afternoon. I did manage to get a picture for you to see. She certainly looks very smart and will look smarter once all of the works are complete later this week.

Lorraine has been kept busy in the tearoom and has had assistance from Cheryl as and when necessary. Ange has been busy catching up with paperwork, manning the shop and doing laundry.

There's not much more to report today. Simon will be back tomorrow and I am sure he will keep you updated during the week.



Saturday, 15 October 2011


I was glad that I lit a fire last night. There was a definite chill in the air and whilst driving to Norbury the car was reading just 3°C. Although it has remained cool most of the day it has been very pleasant with the sun shining.

Simon was in for a few hours today - yes I know it's unusual for him to be here at the weekend, but he had a meeting to attend. It was the AGM for one of the shared owned boats we operate and they asked for either Simon or myself to attend, so I dragged him into work as I was too busy!

Talking of unusual. The level has been off by about 2 inches here today. I know that the levels on the cut can vary, but it is strange for this pound to differ at all. The reason being is that the Shropshire Union is predominantly fed from the water treatment plant in Wolverhampton. I did notice on Tuesday that there wasn't anything coming from the feed at Cut End, I would imagine that Waterways are sending it down the Staff's and Worcester. Let's hope the level picks up again soon as a few boats have had problems winding in the basin - you wouldn't believe it was only dredged two years ago!

Today is the first Saturday this year that we haven't had a boat go out, well tell a lie we have turned round one shared boat, but non of our hire boats have been turned around.

I have received the proof of the hire boat brochure that I have been working on and sent it back to the printers. We should receive copy by the end of next week - so if any of you would like to receive our 2012 brochure, please don't hesitate to send us an email request ( and we shall pop one in the post for you.

Best regards,


Friday, 14 October 2011


What can I say, it has been a superb day today in every way, the weather has been simply stunning, the Sun has been shining all day, we have been very busy as well, all of the shared boats have got off without any issues and all of the jobs on all of the private boats have gone very well. I have been and viewed the boat in the wet dock that Matt has been painting and to say that I am impressed is an understatement, I would would say that it is possible the best finish that we have ever seen here, considering that Matt had never painted a narrow boat before he started with us a couple of months ago he has done immensely well, hats off to him for doing a superb job, I am sure David will post some pictures as soon as it comes out of the dock on Sunday.

We have had an excellent week really, we have had some good press coverage with one or two of the I write, as well as writing this blog I also do a few articles that you probably see published on our website, in this blog and on different websites, well this week we have seen two of them published in the waterways press, one of them is really nice as it shows Matt (the painter) and his father, sat on a horse drawn caravan outside the wharf back in the summer, talking of Matt, he is going to be painting his own horse drawn cart over the next few weeks and once completed he will be driving it through Newport on Boxing day just after the hunt has passed through, he has promised me a ride at the same time so I am looking forward to that.

That's about it from me for today, I really hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


As from next year there will be some changes in how the canals are being run, for anyone that does not know, the current organisation that looks after the canals is becoming a charitable trust as from next year, it is all to do with funding! So as from next year the old BWB (British waterways board) is going to be renamed the Canal and river trust, CART for short, well I reckon that will just about sum them up! They haven't really done a very good job of running the waterways and waste millions every year so it will be interesting to see how they perform once they loose the government funding.

Back to all things Norbury, Its been a grey, overcast day all day today, no sunshine unfortunately however it has been quite warm considering it is October, as I write the blog it seems to be going dark, maybe its just the grey clouds!

Its been a busy day here today, everyone has been busy on different jobs, Fred has been very quiet, although he has been very busy, blacking a boat, preparing gunwale side and counter bands for painting, its nice when he is busy as he is nice and quiet! Graham has been busy all day with making a new top box for a boat in the dry dock, A top box for those that don't know is a storage box that fits on to the roof of a narrow boat, Bernard has been flitting from one job to another around the yard, David has been out side most of the day on different jobs that have needed sorting out, Lorraine has been very busy in the tea room and I have been manning the reception and phones which have kept me on my toes all day! we have had 6 shared boats return this afternoon and are now ready for turning around tomorrow so that's about it from me for today so until tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Been a bit of a day

Well if nothing else the weather now is nice! Its been one of then sort of days today where if it could go wrong then it probably did, The day started off when I awoke this morning on a mattress on the floor in my bedroom, I made the mistake of deciding to buy a new bed which as yet I haven't had time to do, but I have sold my old bed (it was a rather nice four poster) me thinking in a simplistic manner thought that the spare room would do for now, how wrong was I, forgetting that I am 6'5" tall and the spare bed is only the same length made for an uncomfortable night, hence the old mattress on the floor, I should have known this morning that today was going to be a nightmare!
The sun was however shining and my drive to work was a pleasant one, the weather has been on and off all day, sun one minute and showers the next, but at least no wind, Graham saw one day boat off and I saw the other one off as I knew the folks on it, Fred and Bernard docked a leaky boat that needed looking at but while doing that we had a call from the people on Python saying that the engine would not 'rev' up, so I dispatched Bernard to lock 40 on the Staffs and Worcs to attend the boat, about three quarters of an hour after he had gone he rang in to say that the boat was no where to be seen, we rang the customers only to find they were at bridge 40 and not lock 40, the difference being about 20 miles, it was my fault I had given Bernard the wrong information, I should have stayed in bed, if I had one, the day just seemed to get worse and worse with many small niggly problems, non stop phone calls and computers that just wouldnt do what they were suopposed to.

So I am off home, until tomorrow

PS. I also made the mistake of selling my three piece suite before buying a new one, so I am now sitting on the floor until I get a new one, I think there is a pattern forming here!!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Wind and bowthrusters!

I wish this wind would subside as it plays havoc with the chairs and dustbins on the wharf not to mention the constant slamming of the office door when it is not shut properly, It has been another grey day today here on the wharf, not particularly cold and not wet but just windy again, it is in this weather that you really feel the benefit of having a bow thruster, it is a controversial subject and one where I used to be opposed to them as I though that you should be able to manage without them, in some respects the same as we could all manage without power steering in a car (do you remember them days?) Well I have changed my opinion of them since my own boat has got one and while I don't use it frequently I am so glad to have the option of using it as and when the wind blows just when you are coming in to moor up or the wind is blowing you on to a mooring when you are trying hard to get off, on days like these I would rather have a bow thruster than not and I am sure that most boaters would agree; If I were to have a new boat built now and to my specifications then not only would I have a bow thruster but a stern thruster too, I have seen a boat in action with both and it makes handling so simple!

As usual the lads have been busy, Mick is back of his holiday and has got stuck in to quite a few outstanding jobs on boats that we have in at the moment, He has serviced a very good customers diesel heater, he has been sorting out someones electrics which are playing up, he has refitted a rudder on a boat and is now deep in the engine room of another boat doing some air ducting and wiring, Fred has had it easy today, he blacked a boat first thing and has been cleaning out an engine room on a brokerage boat, he has also been rescuing bin lids, chairs and table that have blown across the wharf today, and as usual he has been serving diesel on the wharf as well as the odd pump out, Funnily enough and despite the wind, the tea room has kept both Angela and Cheryl busy today, Matt is up to his neck in paint in the wet dock and that leaves me, as always I am busy, but I don't have anything interesting to say about what I do!

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

Monday, 10 October 2011

suprisingly warm!

Although it has been a grey, overcast and bloody windy day today it has been surprisingly warm, on my way in this morning I noticed then that it was warm but as the day has chugged on it has got warmer, shame we haven't had any sun to go with it!

It has been a bust day for both me and David today, David has been trying very hard to finalise the 2012 brochure but he has managed it and he sent it off today to the printers to get a proof copy done, people don't realise just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to keep all things up to date, I too have been non stop today, I have been out to view a boat for brokerage and do a bit of banking and then I have not stopped working on the computer all day, Cheryl has been kept busy in the tea room, shop and laundry, Julian has blacked a boat on the dock and Graham has been fitting a new stern gear to a boat which has taken all day, all this whilst Matt has been painting a boat in the wet dock, so its been quite a busy day today with one thing and another.

that's it from me for tonight.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

It’s a game of chess.

Activity started early here this morning. Although we only had one day boat out today, there seemed to be a lot going on…

Bernard and I undocked the boat that was blacked over the last few days and did a bit of a boat shuffle down the arm – yes it’s like playing chess with the boats as we are entering the quieter part of the season. We promptly docked one of the boats that we have sold this week to allow the surveyor to get on and do his business on the hull of the boat.

Steve was dispatched to Gnosall to fetch a boat that is on it’s way for Brokerage, which didn’t quite make it here before dark last night.

Once the surveyor was finished we flooded the dock and Julian, Bernard and I docked two boats, after doing another boat shuffle down the arm! One is a Springer, that we know quite well. We over plated a couple of years ago and it is back for it’s bi-annual docking and blacking, the other is a boat that we haven’t had on the dock before. She is here for a stern gear replacement and has a very unusual shape to her bottom.

The majority of narrowboats have flat bottoms. There are of course Springers that have vee bottoms, but I haven’t ever seen anything quite like this on the canal. Here’s a picture so you can see what I mean…

And here’s a picture of the Springer…

And both boats on the dock…

It’s been manic here today. I am just reducing the hire boat prices for next week and then I am off home…

Until next week.



Saturday, 8 October 2011

well i laughed till i cried

hi all, we have quite a busy day here at norbury. we had only phoenix return to us this morning with regular customers who a real nice time down on the staffs and worcester canal, we then turned the boat around and it has gone out today along with 4 other hire boats this afternoon. we also had 2 day boats go out this morning that ralph showed out and we have had 1 shared ownership boat go out. amy and cheryl have been busy cleaning today, amy cleaned wharf cottage ready for wednesday when the customers who are having their boat blacked will be staying in there. fred has been up to his usual tricks, pumping out the boats and serving diesel on the wharf and bernard has done an engine service, talking of bernard i've got something funny to tell you in a minute.we have also had a steady flow of customers through the tea room which has kepy carolyn busy.
i went out to check the boats this afternoon and had to climb over the back rail on python as the next boat was too far away for me to walk down the gunnells and got stuck over the tiller bar. it was too high for me to swing my leg over the tiller, amy was in the boat cleaning it and i shouted to her to come and help me, she took one look at me and doubled over laughing, so i had to struggle to get the tiller pin out as it was behind me and then remove the handle so that i could get off the damn thing.
as the title suggests, i came out of the tea room door to take the rubbish and bernard was walking across the car park looking as though he was playing the spoons with his spanners. he has a small tear on the leg of his overalls and as he wasn't looking where he was going he walked into the small tap by the slipway and caught the tear on the tap, needless to say he has a very big tear now. his face was a picture, i "laughed til i cried", i was still laughing when i got home and doing my best not to laugh now as i write this blog.
well that's it from me for now, till next time....... byeeeee, ange.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Short week

I like having an extra day at the end of my holiday as it makes the next week go quickly, well this week has really flown by, its ten to five and nearly time to head off home, no rest for the wicked though as I will be up early in the morning to take Beks off to collect another boat that is coming in to be put on to brokerage.

The day started off very damp indeed, I awoke this morning to pouring rain, I have been suitably informed that it was in fact raining all night long but as the day wore on the weather did change and in between the showers we did have some lovely sun, I had to go out today and at one point I thought that I had been transported back in time to last week as the sun was streamng through the windscreen and I almost put the air con on it was that warm, short lived though as soon as I returned to Norbury then the rain came back, Its dry now as I speak and the sun is shining so it will be a nice drive home.

It hasn't been over busy today as we have only had three shared boats to turnaround and one motor home, they all got completed without issue, the motor home was collected this afternoon for its mammoth drive over to Poland, the hirers are taking it over there to watch and support their daughter who competes in cross country push bike racing of all things, Bernard has been busying him self with the fleet boats and sorting out a brokerage boat that is being docked for survey on Sunday, Graham has finished the new rear door and hatch, what a cracking job he has made of it, I would think that the owners will be pleased, he then went and finished off tidying up the cabin re fit job that he has been, Fred has been up to his usual tricks around the yard, pumping boats out and blacking, and that's about it for another week.

So over to David to keep you entertained until my return next week, I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

IWe knew it was gonna happen!

When i was sat last week in temperatures well in the 20's, drinking bourbon on the rocks listening to the weather forecasters I would have thought that they were slightly deranged in their forecast for the coming week, well they were spot on as they said by the end of this week the weather was going to go the other way and by God it has, Winter has arrived folks! I am sat in the office now in the quiet looking out across the yard and the rain is pelting down, the Sky's are black and it looks like it will be raining all night long, I had a customer in late on this afternoon who reported that it was snowing when he left Scotland this morning, you never know it may well snow here this weekend!

Now for some good news, there is only seventy nine days left until Christmas, and then we will be looking forward to the new boating season, roll on Spring!

It been a busy day of sorts, we had a day boat out first thing this morning which Graham expertly saw out, he then carried on with the new door and hatch that he has been working on all week, that kept him nice and quiet, Bernard has been up to all sort of stuff, tightening up stern tubes, fitting Aqua drives, fitting anodes, moving boats, Matt has been painting and Fred has been moaning, I don't know whats been up with him today, I will be re naming him Mr Grumpy if he carries on like this, he cant blame it on his lack of smoking as he has started again, he has been quite busy today though, he has blacked a boat, moved several boats around, done a couple of pump outs, served some diesel, done some weeding, locked up and gone home,talking of going home that's what I'm doing right now as the rain has stopped for a minute, there is a little bit of sun so I'm off.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What a contrast!

I awoke this morning to a grey cold, damp, typical autumn morning, what a contrast to last week! When you consider that this time last week I was sat on the back of my boat in glorious sunshine, sat there wearing shorts and a T shirt and now look, I am sat in the office, sweat shirt on and I have only taken my coat off about an hour ago! It has been immensely windy here at Norbury today as well as a bit nippy and grey , moody and cloudy, I have just had a day boater come back in and comment "its like winter out there" There will be some fire lighting when I get home.

Its been a busy day here today, two day boats out first thing which Graham saw off this morning, Bernard came in a bit earlier t remove the tensioner wheels off the digger, then he helped Freddie dock a boat for survey, he then went on to a private boat to sort out its water system, Fred did a couple of jobs around the yard while waiting for the surveyor to finish the job in the dock and then he and Bernard went and undocked that boat and put another one on for blacking which Fred duly pressure washed off, the day boats returned without issue and Bernard engineered them ready for tomorrow, Carolyn has been kept busy in the Tea room all day while David has been up to is eyeballs in checking hire boat prices for next year and finalising the 2012 hire boat brochure that I have made some changes to, I too have been busy all day which is nice as it has made the day fly by!

That's it from me for today

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

180 miles and what a difference

I have been away for the last week down on the South coast and the weather was amazing to say the least we had temperatures over 30 degrees at times, now I have come back to Staffordshire which is 180 miles away it has gone much colder, now is that because we are so much further North and we suffer from lower temperatures or has it gone colder down in the South as well? What ever the reason I know what I prefer, I awoke this morning to a lovely sunny morning, chilly, plenty of dew and mist hanging in the air, it was a lovely and fresh morning.

I have had a busy day as you can imagine, catching up with last weeks goings on, although David is off today so I have had to rely on an email from him keeping me up to speed, Angela has been busy with the 'end of month' stuff, Cheryl has been quite busy down in the tea room, I have kept Fred busy with lots of different jobs around the place, blacking, painting a gas locker to mention a few, Bernard has been on a private boat with a water supply problem, fitting anodes and removing the tensioner wheels of the mini digger that Steve has been using on the moorings, The digger has done well as I have owned it for two years ans it was old and worn when I bought it so I reckon it has lasted well, it will probably just about finish the moorings off before it finally gives up the ghost, I hope it does! Matt has cracked on today and is now making good progress with the paint job, so that looks like it is back on track.

That's it from me today.

Monday, 3 October 2011

i have had davids permission to write this blog honest

hi all, i haven't been at norbury today as i have been on a day off so i have no idea what's been going on, so i'll tell you about my day. i do like to have a lie in on my day off but not today, i had to be up usual time as someone was coming to service my central heating boiler at 8.30 :(
he turned up at 1.30 and then proceeded to have his lunch first. dylan was not happy knowing that there was someone lurking outside on his property, he drove me round the bend, he ate that many biscuits to keep him quiet but it didn't work cos he still barked with the biscuits in his mouth, lol, bad lad dyl.
i popped down to the shop while this guy was there and he said this would be fine as long as the dog couldn't get to him, grrrrrrrrrr. wouldn't hurt a fly.
when i eventually got rid of this guy i went to play golf, yaaaaaaaaaaay, get practising peter, there's a fiver on it.
it was absolutley glorious but so windy, we teed off on the first hole and didn't even need to push our trolleys down the fairway, the wind took them (mine is electric tho, he he).
i hit the flippin flag on the par 4 4th again with my 3rd shot and no it didn't go in again.
what a good game we were having, got to the 8th hole and the sun went in and it went dark, no way could we have played 18 holes and this was only 6 o'clock :(
mark's callout phone went off as were walking up the 9th, fire alarms going off, that has now put paid to anymore golf tonight, off to work he goes.
i cleaned the house from top to bottom waiting for the central heating guy to turn up this morning and we have had an indian takeaway for tea tonight and dylan is now walking round the kitchen with a huge poppodum in his mouth looking for his usual place to eat it which is on the settee, no way dyl, bad lad.
that's it from me, hopefully speak again soon, ange.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Happy Birthday.

It’s Ange’s birthday today. Although she tried to hide it from us, we remembered! Happy Birthday Ange and have a great evening.

I know there is a first for everything, but today we have had four boats out for the day… Yes, four! We have had a number of enquiries due to the fantastic weather that we have been experiencing. As we had one of the holiday boats available and the hirers were experienced I agreed to let it out for the day. They have all headed north, so the Wharf at Goldstone must have been busy at lunchtime!

Fred and Bernard docked a boat last night which was surveyed this morning, and since then Julian and Mick have docked another boat which Julian has duly pressure washed ready for the first coats of blacking to be applied tomorrow.

Lorraine has been in the tea room again with a bit of extra help from Cheryl over the lunchtime rush.

Mick has been finishing off a few jobs before he jets off on holiday. He is off to Italy for the week.

That’s all from me today, Simon should be back tomorrow but he is going to be skiving for the day – doing jobs away from the office, so you will have to put up with me again until Tuesday…

Best regards,


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pricing poorer boaters off the waterways?

Another guest blog from Peter Underwood today...

Next April will see boat licences rise by an inflation busting 6.4 per cent.

Diesel prices are steadily climbing again and the EU is trying to insist that boats use only full-price white diesel.

Like every other person in this country, boaters are seeing their incomes and savings squeezed by what increasingly looks like a double-dip recession.

Many people are worried about the future of our waterways as the Government seems to be determined to leave the new charity with a £40m black hole in its funding.

Despite all that there are more boats on our waterways than there were in their working heyday – perhaps because it is somewhere to escape the stress and horror stories of an economy where the only language is of cuts and redundancies with little hope of growth.

Tony Hales, BW Chairman who is also heading up the transitional body – no change anywhere then?

While well-heeled boaters may be able to shrug off the economic impact of higher charges for almost everything, there are many thousands of us on fixed incomes, often pensions, or with other severe financial constraints.

We are not a juicy fruit to be squeezed by British Waterways or the government and we will not be able to continue to produce the extra cash they demand as if there were no financial hardship.

A British Waterways director admitted to me three years ago that they were reaching the point of diminishing returns with licence fee increases as they were close to driving poorer people off the canals.

I suggest the worsening economic picture now means they are well past that point. It may not mean that boats are driven off the canals but it is already resulting in fewer people being willing to pay the high fees charged by new marinas and there are now claimed to be 3,000 empty spaces in those marinas.

Why? Because boaters have opted for something cheaper as many of them can’t afford £3-5,000 a year to tie up their boat, and that’s outside London.

I suspect there will also be fewer paying their licence fees and more trying to work the system by buying ‘river-only’ licences and using them elsewhere or opting to stay on cheaper Environment Agency waters or simply not having a licence.

I predict the number of boats using the canals without a proper licence is about to soar – and with it the cost of BW or the new charity trying to catch offenders and bring them to book.

For the rest of us it will mean more unlicenced – and therefore uninsured – boats on the water and a bigger burden on those who obey the rules, albeit with gritted teeth.

Those are the same teeth that BW chooses to kick every time they get greedy with their licence fees whilst paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds to their top directors like Robin Evans and his friends.

If I thought the new charity had a hope in hell of changing that I might even begin to support it.