Shop front in the summer

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dither dither dither!

The title says it all really, Good God its been a cold day, even though the temperatures are above freezing it has seemed colder than when the temperatures were in the minus figures, I have just come in from a very quick spell outside and I can hardly feel my hands, roll on home time and a roaring fire, hot shower and some hot food!

Its been a bit busier today, we even had a queue of boats on the wharf this morning for services, I reckon that folks are gearing up for a cold spell, Bernard has been complaining about the cold today and to be fair so has mick, and Fred, Fred has had a nice steady day today, a bit of blacking before his breakfast, humped a few tons of coal (I do try to keep him active so that he doesn't feel the cold) He has turned a hire boat around ready for its departure on Saturday, Bernard has been on and off several boats today, lagging exhaust, engine servicing, welding a rudder cup, Simon has been thrown in at the deep end (not literally) we have Phantom out at the moment and they have ran it out of diesel so Simon had to go and sort that out, it isn't the easiest of engines to bleed and get going again and it was his first breakdown to go to, Matt has been painting yet another hire boat, he will be sick of them by the time he is finished, only another six to go and then that's it for another year, Micky has been finishing the re wire on Peters boat, that's all done now so he can now crack on with the gas on Pippin when he returns from his gas course on Saturday, I have gone boggle eyed after spending several hours collating email addresses for our new mailing list for the new Norbury news letter and Angela has been quite busy in the tea room as well as collating email addresses and doing all of her paperwork, its amazing just how much paperwork is generated in this job.

That's it from for today, I hope you all stay warm tonight!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Stunning Monday morning

The forecasters said we would be having Artic conditions now, people were saying over the weekend that they had seen snow but we must be lucky as still we have only been having some good frosts over night and during the day the temperatures have picked up as the sun has come out to shine, my drive in this morning saw the temperature just dip down to minus one for about ten minutes and by the time had reached Norbury it had warmed up by two degrees, the sun over Norbury this morning was a sight to behold, it was simply stunning, a giant orange ball hanging low just over the buildings, it carried on shining all day long, i went out side at ten o'clock and the birds were making a hell of a racket, twittering and chirping away, I hope for their sakes it doesn't drop too cold, as I stood in the door way having a coffee and looking out over the fleet, you could have mistaken today for a day in the spring apart from the cold, the canal was like glass, not a ripple, not a stir, not a whisper of wind, smoke rising from the chimneys on some of the boats that had stoked their fires up, Stunning!

It has been a very quiet day today indeed, the phones have been reasonably quiet, the shop has been the same, the tea room has been virtually empty but there is always something going on here, Peter has been in today to do some promotional work for us, David has been in and out of the office today,he has been however trying hard to stay inside in the warm, but without much success, Micky has been on Pippin fitting the new Alde gas boiler that is required, Matt has finished off the painting on Sphinx and Steve has made further headway with the part refit that we are currently working on, so that completes the sum total of today's activities really, lets See what the rest of the week brings.

Talking of how quiet things have been, I was in Newport this morning and that too was very quiet, Sat morning I went to Stafford and that was uncannily quiet, the chat on Face book over the weekend has been quiet, where has everyone gone, has there been a national holiday and no one has told us!

I'm off home now for a nice quiet night in so until tomorrow

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Crunch crunch

There was a good frost again last night. As I walked to the car this morning to start the engine so that the windscreen was defrosted enough for me to drive to work, the grass was crunching underneath my feet. It's remained little above freezing today and listening to the weather forecast it sounds like it's going to stay like this for a bit. Hopefully it will kill off some of these colds that seem to be spreading around and dragging on. The weather has certainly confused the bulbs this year. There are crocuses and daffodils just starting to poke their first leaves out of the ground in our flower beds here at Norbury. I am a little concerned that the temperature is going to plummet as only a few of our boats are drained down. If the cut freezes hard for a couple of days, we'll have to put the heating on to stop pipes freezing and subsequently bursting. After a period of about a week, we will then have to drain them down as the cost of gas for the central heating out ways the cost of the labour involved in draining the fleet down. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't last that long!

Ange and Lorraine have looked after the shop today, whilst Joyce has completed the spring clean on Ember. Joyce did have to lend a hand in the kitchen over the busy period at lunchtime, but she has virtually finished cleaning the boat now. I don't seem to have got anywhere fast today! By the time I had finished in a couple of meetings, updated the brokerage adverts, fixed my computer (yet again!), shown a number of customers over the boats for sale, replied to emails and answered the phone the day seems to be over. Hopefully my computer will work efficiently now and I can have a full day infront of it tomorrow...

Mick has been hard at it in Peter's engine room again today, connecting up his new wiring, inverter/charger and fitting a new alternator. Peter sent me this picture not long ago captioned "Mick hard at it and doing a great job" - another happy customer :-)

Well I am sure Simon will keep you updated during the forthcoming week and I look forward to speaking to you next weekend.

Best regards,


Saturday, 28 January 2012

It's how winter should be

It was another cold one last night. I took Annie out in thick frost this morning. It's how winter should be: with the grass across the field crunching underneath your feet. There wasn't a cloud in the sky as the sun came up, which soon took the temperature to above freezing, although only just above! Fred has been moaning that he has been cold all day, but he still stands outside in the cold at break time to have a cigarette, rather than stay in the warm and have one as he negotiates his way back down the dock - you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

Mick's been hard at work doing the electrics on one of our moorers boats today. Peter, along with his partner Nicky own a boat that was built back in the 1970s by Malcolm Braine. It is a good strong boat and they have been making some vast improvements. A traditional boatman's cabin has been fitted and earlier this week it was grained. I had an inspection yesterday and it really does look a treat. I'm not a great fan of modern boats; as my love and passion lies with historic boats, but I must say that it stands out against the crowd. I'm looking forward to a trip out on her when she's ready to go boating - first stop the Anchor!

Fred and Simon docked a boat this morning, which Fred has pressure washed and then he got on with some internal works on the hire fleet. Simon has been doing some jobs on the boats and has been replacing the bottom rudder bearing on Phoenix. Bernard has serviced another engine and been running the engine up on Sphynx, that we have recently had reconditioned.

That's it for today, have a good evening and we will catch up again tomorrow.

Best regards,


Friday, 27 January 2012

Going nippy

It has been a lovely day, the sun has been shining most of the day, we did have a very a light shower earlier on but then the sun came back out and it's been a proper wintered day, it started off very cold and as I am typing this the temperature has dropped again, the forecasters reckon that wea re in for artic conditions over he next few weeks, I certainly hope not, it feels like we are heading for spring and it would be lovely to have a nice erly one and then an Indian summer.

Its been a busy day again, I can't comment on what everyone has been up to as I have been out for part of the day, shopping for the shop, banking, collecting David's repaired computer and viewing a boat that might be coming in for sale, then this afternoon I helped Simon to re arrange the engines in the container, for anyone that doesn't know, we have a massive amount of second hand engines from all eras some aincient and some not so old, we also have a massive stock of gearboxes, everything from old parsons mechanical gearboxes and lister gear boxes to the latest PRM hydraulic gearboxes, so if you are in the market for some second hand spares for a vintage engine or a cheaper second hand spare for a BMC or something similar give us a ring we might just be able to save you a lot of money.

That's it from me for this week, I am sure that David will keep you entertained over the weekend, so until Monday, I hope you all have a nice weekend.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

What a day!

I hope we don't have too many days like we have had today, the day didn't get off to a great start as I was suffering from a slight hangover from last night so I wasn't the brightest star in the sky, as the day progressed it was evident that what could go wrong would go wrong, almost every job that the lads did seemed to either take twice as long or it went wrong, we had a move around of boats today and I thought that I would help out, the first hire boat I went on to I untied it and then went to start the engine only to find that the battery was flat, I should have trown the towl in at that point and gone home, then the boat that we had just put in to the painting dock was to wet to start preparing so that left Matt with afew hours spare, the engine that we have just had reconditioned which Bernard has just put back in to a boat has been damaged by the company who did the rebuild, David's computer gave up the ghost today and we finally declared it dead, so as you can see its been one of those days!

Let's hope tomorrow is a bit better, until them.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New day new start

Where on earth did all that rain come from in the night, I drove to work this morning in the pouring rain through puddles that were in places that I have not seen that much water before, we must have had a serous amount of rain in the night, the levels in the canal were also up today, it has rained on and off for most of the day, the temperature was bitterly cold this morning and I feared we would see some snow later however it warmed up considerably so I am glad, as you can imagine it has been a grey and dank day on the wharf but I cant moan as in general we have been lucky so far!

We welcomed Simon to the team today as a new engineer, Simon brings with him a wealth of knowledge from the motor industry, as well as having run his own successful business, and he has a passion for boats, he is currently building his own boat so if you see him around the yard give him a wave.

It hasn't been quite as busy today although Tuesdays can be a bit quiet but we have had enough on to keep us out of mischief, Bernard has been fitting anodes, sorting out a few jobs on Sphinx and has also been doing some safety certificate rectification works on one of the boats that was sold the weekend, Micky has finished with the re wiring job and has now moved on to a boiler fitting job, Matt is painting as usual and Fred is moaning, as usual, bless his cotton socks! He has been down in the dry dock blacking, varnishing and a whole host of other jobs on boats, the weather has been too bad today for Arron to crack on with the moorings but I am sure he will have a goo tomorrow.

That's it from me until tomorrow

Monday, 23 January 2012

Flat out

I see from talking to David that he has had a busy weekend and today has been the same, we have been flat out all day today, since opening the door this morning until now, we have not stopped, the phone has been ringing all day with enquiries, bookings for hire boats and the usual, the tea room has been busy too over the lunch time and we have even seem several boats on the wharf for services!

The lads have all been busy on different jobs, Matt has started on Phoenix winter touch up, Mick has been on a rewiring job, Steve has started on a bit of a re fit and that has been the sum total of engineers in today except we have had a visitor in the form of Jim who came in today to help out with the blacking of a couple of boats that are on the dock that we have just sold, its amazing just how many people we end up with helping out, my two uncles came today to lend a hand, we call them the 'Chuckle Brothers' I think you can imagine from their name the sort of mischief and trouble they cause, at the end of the day they do help out and it is very much appreciated, all we need now is my dad to turn up and then we would end up with the three wise men, well more like the three musketeers!

One of the things I love about this job is the friends we all make in the course of our normal jobs and how nice they are and how funny they are, I know that David mentioned that everyone from work and several customers went out on Friday for a social evening, it was a shame I could not make it but I needed to go down to Southampton to do a job this weekend, this weekend saw one of our good customers and now friends Peter and Sandra, they came up and took Summer wine out for the weekend and I know that they all had a lovely time. We wont mention Lorraine, That's for another day!!

That's it from me for today

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Well what a day it has been today...

Ange was off today so we roped Joyce in to give us a hand. The day started out with a plan! Joyce was going to look after the tea room and once it was all setup she was going to nip over and do a bit of cleaning on Reflection prior to the lunchtime rush. Lorraine was going to stay at the reception to take phone calls and look after the customers in the shop whilst I was going to catch up on some paperwork (brokerage mainly), but that soon went out the window. About 11am we had a sudden mad rush with walkers and cyclists in the tearoom that lasted for in excess of two hours. It was that busy, that I had to help out too as poor Joyce and Lorraine just couldn't cope with the number of customers. I have never seen the tearoom that busy in January during my seven years here! We coped, everyone got served in turn and we remained jolly :-) We did chuckle to ourselves that Ange had picked the right day to have a days holiday...

It quietened down this afternoon and Lorraine was able to get on and do some tidying and cleaning in the office and shop whilst Joyce looked after the steady flow of customers in the tearoom.

I've managed to get the brokerage paperwork sorted for Old Henry and she is now advertised on our website. This boat is ready to step onto and sail away. Click here for further details We have also completed on Patricia M and Lillian Rose. Heather Belle is under offer - just one day after I did all the sale particulars. Is the economic climate picking up???

Mick has been working away on one of our moorers boats, doing a bit of re-wiring and installing a four stage charger. Aaron and Steve have now got all of the deckboards laid on the moorings, as promised. I'll set to tomorrow organising some gravel.

I've still been battling with my computer. The damn thing has decided that it hasn't got a genuine copy of windows installed although we bought it pre-installed. I might have to take it to the doctors in Newport to get it fixed, but I fear that it is going to cost in excess of £100. If anyone's got any bright ideas, I'd be only too willing to listen (and learn)!

Best regards,


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Squelching in mud

Ange organised a meal over at the Junction Inn last night; to which the majority of the staff attended, as did a number of our customers who were about for the evening. A great night was had by all and it was good to see lots of familiar faces and some old friends that dropped by to say hi. I think Joyce, Ange, Lorraine and I were last to leave (yes, we know we are dirty stop outs!). Ange, Lorraine and I also had to have a swift drink on Lorraine's boat before we retired for the evening... I think there were a few sore heads around this morning, but it was well worth it! (A big thank-you to Peter and Sandra Quick for suggesting the idea in the first place and I do hope you are enjoying your time aboard Summer Wine).

I also feel for our moorers now who are squelching up and down the moorings in the mud the has been created while we are doing the improvement works. My best shoes are now in a rather poor state after slipping and sliding up the towpath last night. I do apologise and the final length of decking will be laid tomorrow and we are making arrangements for the gravel path to be laid. I'll get on the case again on Monday morning!!

It rained hard in the night, which is much needed. The weather hasn't been too bad during the day, but it has been quite windy - that caused Bernard and Fred some trouble with shifting boats around! It has now dropped a bit cooler again.

Bernard and Fred have swapped the boats in the paintshop. Opal II is now out and sits proud with her new lettering on. Here's a picture of her on the Wharf this afternoon.

Mick has now finished the gas tests etc. on the hire fleet for the next couple of weeks. Today he has begun on one of two electrical jobs that he needs to get done before the end of the month and then he is off on a gas course to update his ticket.

Lorraine has been cleaning Ember today and covered the tearoom during lunchtime. Poor Ange has been in the shop for most of the day as I have been out and about completing a few jobs and talking to customers. Oh and I forgot - trying to fix my computer as it seems to be having seizure.

Have a good evening.



Friday, 20 January 2012

Not enough hours in the day

I am sorry that neither Simon or I blogged yesterday, but we were incredibly busy. We will still starring at computer screens, replying to emails and answering telephone calls until 6.15pm... It's good that things seem to be picking up, but there just aren't enough hours in the day!

It looks as though we have sold another boat this afternoon. I am intending on docking and blacking her tomorrow along with another boat that is going on for a survey. I am also in the process of advertising another boat "Old Henry" which will be live on our website tomorrow.

Everyone's been busy with winter maintenance today, so there isn't anything too interesting to report.

That's it from me tonight.

Until tomorrow.



Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Was that it?

I drove home last night in sub minus temperatures, my drive was thick with frost the trees were heavily laden with frost and by golly it was cold, I lit a roaring fire, cranked up the heating, had a red hot shower and put my feet up thinking that today was going to be pretty much the same, however the forecasters certainly got it right for a change because this morning there was no frost, no ice, just sun, maybe that's it for the winter, lets hope! It has been really warm today, all day long and there was a lovely sunset over Norbury just before five tonight, and it is getting lighter longer now.

Been a busy old day, Matt finished off the painting of the boat in the dock so Fred, Matt and I have spent a couple of hours swapping boats and moving brokerage boats around and then Fred spent a while tidying up the boats in the basin, it looked like they had been tied up by a blind person as they were all over the place, we lifted an engine back in to one of the hire boats today and Bernard has been fitting that back up, Fred has been doing a bit of varnishing in between moving boats, Angela has been holding the Fort while I have been outside and Lorraine has been cleaning the boats, its a massive job at the end of their winter maintenance as they have also stood over the winter so they need a good going over before they go out, and they are starting to go out.

That's it from me for today

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Frozen hands

I know I said yesterday that it was going to get warmer but I didn't say when but I really d hope that it is sooner rather than later, I have been in the office for most of the day but my hands are still like ice blocks, I have had to go out side several times today and when I have returned to the office my hands have been painful they have been that cold, I feel sorry for any of the lads who have been working outside today, upon arriving at work this morning (a little later than usual, but that is another story) I noticed that the main canal had frozen over from last nights sub zero temperatures but amazingly a boat had been through and there was a seven foot wide channel down the middle of the canal, it just goes to show that there is still some movement on the canal early in the morning at this time of the year!

It hasn't been an overly busy day today, not many people around and the phones have been quiet, I have caught up on everything that was outstanding for me to do, I can now turn my attention towards advertising and promoting, jobs that often only get half of my attention because of more pressing jobs, the lads however have all been busy, poor old Fred has been outside moving boats by himself for most of the day as well as humping some coal to some good customers at one of our local pubs, Bernard has been in engine rooms all day, Mick has been doing the winter maintenance on Ember, its amazing just how much wear there is on the boats, but Ember did have a good season last year, Matt has been applying paint and poor old Steve has been working outside on the moorings, not really much more to report about today so I will say goodnight for now.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Has winter finally arrived

Has winter finally arrived I asked my self as I approached Norbury this morning, the roads were covered in a heavy frost and upon my arrival at work the boats looked like they were covered in snow, it wasn't snow just a very heavy frost, something I haven't seen before,it wasn't a haw frost just very thick frozen moisture, the main canal was free from ice but the arm down to the dry dock is still frozen, I see fro David's previous blog that the arm was frozen over the weekend and it hadn't thawed, the temperature is set to remain below freezing tonight but as the week progresses the forecast is for it to warm up, the temperature did get above freezing as the sun came out but in the sheltered areas the frost remained all day and that includes on the lane leading to work, so if you are planning on visiting Norbury then take care on the approaching lanes.

Today has been a busy one ,we have seen a few people in and around today, obviously not put off by the cold, Joyce has had a few folks in the tea room, Matt has been doing painting on a couple of boats in the dry dock and he started preparing one of the new hire fleet for a touch up, Mick has been on several boats today doing gas check, a bit of wiring on summer wine which decided to play up when it was last out and Steve has been cracking on with the moorings with Arron, it looks like come this weekend the last of the boards will be put down and that pretty much completes the decking, there is still the gravel to put down, the electrics and water to sort out but the biggest job is nearly over, I will get some pictures of it once the last boards have been put down , it's been a big job and it's taken a lot longer that originally anticipated but then again what jobs ever go to plan!!
That's it from me for tonight so until tomorrow, I hope you all stay nice and warm tonight.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

One giant jigsaw puzzle

I drove to the Anchor last night. It was the first night that I had been in since August and I must say that I hadn't realised how much I had missed it. I sat drinking a pint of 6X infront of one of the two roaring fires, talking to friends and listening to musical interludes is just very special - it feels like home... I much prefer pubs to be like the Anchor; down to earth and friendly atmosphere, than being like a pub in one of these large chains like Punch taverns...

I knew it was going to be cold this morning, but apparently it dropped as low as -5°C during the night, which left the arm frozen over (as the picture below) shows.

We have currently got an interesting collection of boats down the arm. Firstly we have got the big Woolwich motor boat Calstock tied abreast of the little Woolwich butty boat Nebulae. Both of these boats were built by Harland and Wolff at Woolwich, London (yes, they also built the Titanic, but they built that in Belfast) for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company during the 1930s. Also built for the same company was Canis Major. She was originally a butty, but converted to a BCN style tug in the 1970s. Lurking down behind Calstock is the Ant, built for British Waterways by EC Jones of Brentford in 1960 and unfortunately due to her design she wasn't popular with the boatmen due to her bluff design. Ant was one of the last carrying boats to be built. We have two boats built by Malcolm Braine at Norton Canes and I believe both of them were built in the 1970s. Finally we have a Fellows, Morton and Clayton replica motor boat called Arabia that was built by Roger Fuller in the 1990s. We also have a selection of shared owned boats, hire boats and private boats - It's one giant jigsaw puzzle to get into the dock...

Here's a view looking towards Gnosall at about 8.30 this morning. Everywhere was extremely peaceful and by looking at the smoking belching out of the chimney's on the boats, I guess everyone was tucked up in the warm...

Staverton has also been out on her maiden voyage with her new owners today. She has been getting plenty of tlc over the weekend in preparation for her journey to her home mooring in the weeks to come. I was lucky to get this picture as I was walking back over from the dry dock this afternoon - luckily I had the camera in my hand!

The sky has been amazingly clear again today as the picture below shows. Those are our Brokerage boats in the foreground looking over the top of the fleet and our shop front. I reckon it will be a cold one again tonight!

I hope that you have all had an enjoyable weekend and are looking forward to what this week may bring.

Until next week. Best regards.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

It’s certainly been one of those days today.

After coming round this morning with a coffee from a cosy night’s sleep on the Ant it was soon time to head to work to open up for the day. After flinging open the cabin doors my breath was taken away by the cold air that hit me. It’s amazing how warm you can be in the confines of a boat’s cabin. We had a hard frost last night which had left the cabin tops of all of the boats frozen over and the decks slippery. The temperature was well below 0°C and it has stayed that way for most of the day.

Mick and Bernard got on with preparing Phantom and Phoenix for their occupants that collected them this afternoon. It soon became apparent that there was a fault with Phantom’s charging system and upon further investigation Bernard and I put it down to a faulty alternator. We did some modifications to the brackets that support it and managed to fit a standard alternator that we keep on the shelf in the shop. Not long after it was time to strike the engine up and check that all was working correctly. Hey Presto – it worked fine…

While I had my head in the engine bay on Phantom, Ange came across the yard to tell me that the customers in Wharf Cottage had a problem with the heating. Upon investigation there appeared to be a fault with the boiler itself. A call to our normal boiler engineer followed; unfortunately he was away for the weekend. Simon was about on the yard and managed to locate another engineer through one of his friends. He was here within minutes, identified the fault and got it up and running temporarily. He will be returning over the next few weeks with a replacement part and to give it a good service.

Lorraine has been quite busy in the tearoom this morning and over lunchtime. It quietened off this afternoon; as usual, and she has managed to finish the spring cleaning on Princess and has been tidying in the shop and hoovering the office. Ange has looked after the customers, who have collected Phantom and Phoenix, helped Lorraine, caught up on her day-to-day paperwork and has made progress with giving the office a bit of a spring clean.

Mick has done some more gas work and Bernard has finished the engine service on Honeystreet that he was in the middle of. Poor old Fred has been moaning about being cold today. He did the gas, pumpout etc. on Phantom and Phoenix, finished the blacking off on Honeystreet and helped me swap the boats in the wet dock. I’ve let him go early today – yes early! He is off out to a birthday party tonight and did ask me before Christmas if he could get off a bit earlier.

That’s about it for today. It’s going to be another cold one, so batten down the hatches and stoke the fire up.

Until tomorrow. Best regards. David.

Friday, 13 January 2012

What a week!

What a week it has been, for lots of reason, but the weather has been mostly superb and today is certainly no exception, I have been out since lunch time, I had to go and look at a boat up in Lancashire and I had sun all the way there and back, it has been very cold, up in Lancs there was even frost still on the ground and that was just after lunch, the boats were covered this morning in frost at Norbury but as soon as there was some heat in the sun it soon disappeared and according to David the sun has been shining ever since, as Type this blog the sun is slowly going down over the Newport canal again, I can just see a rosy glow through the bridge'ole'

We have had a busy week, that's why the blog has been a bit sporadic this week, we have even seen some boats on the wharf for services, the lads have been busy getting the fleet boats ready for the new season which is now looming upon us, we are getting boats ready to go out tomorrow, amazingly we have boats out this early and we have Phantom going out for three weeks, talking of Phantom below are some picture taken today of the newly decorated rear doors that David scumbled and Tim our decorative artist painted this week, they were starting to look a bit worn so David persuaded me that it would be a good idea to have them freshened up, I am glad he twisted my arm as I think that they look really good and the two boats are the only two traditional boats that we have and they are the best booking boats in our fleet. I have done it again and have messed up with the text and pictures being in the wrong place so I do apologise.
That's it from me for this week, no doubt David will keep you up to speed with events over the weekend, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Simon

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Still and Moody

I am not talking about my my ex missus when she was asleep, more like the picture over Norbury as I write this blog, I am just looking out of the window as the sun is disappearing behind the bridge over the Newport branch, it has been another glorious day today as it was yesterday, the picture below was taken yesterday morning at 9amI really cant get to grips with how to set this blog out using photo's, that's why I don't usually put any on! sorry for the short post as time gas the better of me so that's it from me for tonight

Monday, 9 January 2012

Global warming!

They blame it on global warming! Is that the case or is it just one of those things? I don't know, all I do know is that this weather is most peculiar, January and the temperatures are in double figures, the birds are also confused, the plants are confused, so I am not alone, over the weekend Saw me in Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham, the weather their was Good and yesterday I had my breakfast outside sat by the old stop lock in Gas Street in Birmingham, the sun was shining as I sat there without a coat on drinking my cuppa tea, anyone that knows me well will tell you that I always feel the cold, it is a rarity to see me with out a jacket at this time of the year, I hope that the winter is behind us now and that we are not in for any nasty surprises! One can hope.

It has been a very busy day today, I don't know where the hours go, I caught up on emails, a few calls and some paperwork first thing, then we offloaded the trailers load of scrap and rubbish, nipped to the bank and then I had to go and look at a couple of boats that are coming in to be sold on brokerage, that's was my day done and sorted, David has been busy all day with loading the day boat with materials for Steve who is nearly finished with the decking on the moorings, just about 60 tonnes of Stone to lay down and that will be 99% done on the moorings, David has been working on the computer as well as taking photos of boats that we are currently about to market, he even helped Joyce out in the Tea room when she had a bit of a rush on at lunch time, I don't think a pinny suits him though! Matt has been painting in the dry dock, I bet he will be glad to be back in the wet dock tomorrow as it is a dam site warmer in there, Mick has been doing gas tests again all day as well as repairing several gas appliances that were in need of some attention and that leaves Graham who has been down in the dry dock fitting a new rudder end and bottom bearing, a set of anodes as well as straightening the rudder support (skeg) on a shared owned boat, they do take a severe battering below the waterline and do need looking after, that's why they are dry docked each winter, the same as out hire fleet! That's the trouble with boats they do need regular maintenance!

That's it from me for today

Sunday, 8 January 2012


When I took Annie out for a walk this morning, the sky was clear over Norbury as the sun started to show it's face. All around the sky looked really threatening and we were lucky to have brilliant sunshine until about midday. Only a few miles down the road in Newport, Shropshire it was relayed to me that it was "tipping it down"! We had a few short showers over lunchtime and it has been a glorious afternoon and as the sun set a brilliant red sky suggests that tomorrow will be virtually the same. I must admit that a few clouds have gathered now, but the weather forecast is for temperatures to drop to about 7°C this evening. That's amazing for January isn't it?

Lorraine has been busy in the tearoom today with cyclists, walkers and customers from the shop. Ange has given her a hand at the busier times, in between catching up with paperwork and generally tidying the place up. I'm sure that items in this building have legs and get up and move as they always seem to end up in a different location to where they were last put. Maybe this buildings haunted, but I can honestly say that I've never seen or felt in this building. As for the docks... ... ... well thats a story to be told another day...

Mick has virtually finished on the shared owned boat that he has been working on and has gone back to gas tests. I've hardly seen him today, but I am sure that he hasn't been asleep...

I've caught up with loads of little jobs that I've wanted to get done. I've also made some amendments to the homepage of our hire website -

We also have another boat for sale. William of Ockham is a 35 foot cruiser stern narrowboat built by Liverpool boats and is in outstanding throughout. Virtually all of the appliances have been replaced within the last few years. She is ready to step onto and go boating! Full details can be found here.

That's it from me. Simon will be back in the office tomorrow and will no doubt keep you up-to-date with what everyone is up to.

Until next week.

Best regards,


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Special offer...

I'm sorry that neither of us blogged yesterday. We were exceedingly busy with one thing or another: I had a meeting in the morning, we pulled a Springer up the slipway and rolled her with the help of the Matbro to the hardstanding next to the painting dock where she will be having a new bottom fitted come March. I also had the pleasure of handing the keys for Atlas over to the new owners. They are regular customers here at Norbury and bought their previous boat from us just twelve months ago. They have done alot of work on it and decided to upgrade just before the New Year. I am in the process of advertising her, which will become live on our website tomorrow - so keep your eyes peeled for a real gem...

Whilst we were busy outside, Ange and Lorraine held the fort in the shop and tearoom.

It's been a bit of a quieter day today, which has allowed us to get on with our jobs.

Mick is still ploughing through gas tests, appliance servicing and filling in Landlords certificates, but he has a little bit of a reprieve this afternoon as he is doing the internal checks on one of our shared owned boats. It does get a bit tedious when you are doing the same job day-in-day-out, so I am sure he is glad of the change.

Fred has been painting today down in the dry dock - well prepping, priming and undercoating to be precise! He moans quite a bit about doing it, but I think he enjoys doing it really...

Bernard finished an engine service that he was in the middle of this morning and after lunch we both swapped the boats in the painting dock. Sovereign Lady is now out looking splendid and Debdale has gone in to have a makeover. Here's a picture of Sovereign Lady leaving the dock. Bernard has now started on her winter engine service.

Ange and Lorraine have been occupied in the shop and tearoom for the majority of the day today. We have had a steady stream of customers in the tearoom, obviously much quieter than summer days but nonetheless it's good to see some familiar faces. We are now doing a SPECIAL OFFER on ALL DAY BREAKFASTS for just £5.50 including toast and a cup of tea. Come on down and see Lorraine, she is sure to greet you with a beaming smile and look after you like your royalty! From your warm seat in the tearoom you can view the canal basin here at Norbury through the large glazed double doors leading out onto the seating area on the wharf that can be utilised on finer days... For the more adventurous, don't forget that our dayboats are still available for hire daily from as little as £7.50 per person (conditions apply).

It seems to be turning chiller outside again. I have just been outside and came back in shivering. Lets hope that we are not in for a freeze...

That's it from me today. Until tomorrow.



Thursday, 5 January 2012

One way or another

Today is my first day back since New Year's eve. I've been quite lucky this year as my days off have fallen just right with the days that we have been closed or on minimum staff. I'm sure that Simon will get me back sometime during the year - I'm just waiting for him to announce that he is off on holiday next week (mind you he has gone home early)...

I had a good New Year's eve. At the last minute I decided to join some friends in the New Inn at Buckby, Northamptonshire. I proceeded to join them for a couple of days boating before returning to my own boat and getting on with some jobs. Here's a picture of Sue and I descending one of the locks in the flight at Braunston under the watchful eye of boatman Ron Withey. The boats are Sue's ex-GUCCCo Thea and South Midland Water Transport's Kangaroo which was built by Yarwood's of Northwich for Fellows, Morton and Clayton and can be seen captained by Lawrence Williams regularly around the canal system throughout the year.

It was incredibly windy again in the night and we had some quite torrential down pours. Listening to the weather forecast it sounds like there may be a bit of ice about tonight, so be careful if you are out and about.

Well it's been a busy day here one way or another. Not with passing boats, but with catching up with where everyone has got to and with work on the boats. Technology can also delay proceedings... My computer decided it wasn't going to send any emails (it's obviously become lazy) so that took me about an hour to sort!

First job this morning was to grain the rear cabin doors for both Phantom and Phoenix. We are abit short of time to get these done so I did pop in yesterday afternoon to apply the base coat. I'll give them a coat of varnish in the morning and then they will have the Roses and Castles applied and a few coats of varnish before the boats go out a week on Saturday. I'll take a picture and post it for you when they are back on the boat.

Graham has also returned today after his long Christmas break as did Lorraine yesterday. Everyone has been busy with winter maintenance today. Matt is making a good job of sprucing Sovereign Lady up. It's amazing how a bit of paint and polish really brightens a boat up and transforms it into a real gem. Fred has been varnishing and delivering coal. Bernard has been servicing engines and Lorraine has been outside cleaning.

We have bid both off our Motorhomes a fair well today too. For those of you that have kept an eye on our hire boat website ( will have noticed that we had removed them for the forthcoming season. They have done two years service and I am sorry to see them go, but we need to focus our efforts on the hire fleet as it is quickly expanding.

Well that's about it from me today.



Tuesday, 3 January 2012

You would not believe it

Its amazing that two days back to back can be so different, Yesterday was glorious all day long, sun all day until it went dark, last night it remained pretty calm until the early hours when the wind got up and the rain started, I awoke to the pitch black, howling wind and pouring rain, the drive to work was in the dark, its funny because the last two weeks have been dead on the roads, I only travel about 6 miles to work and not along main arterial routes but none the less they still have traffic on them, not usually much though but this morning it was one long snake like trail of cars with there lights on all heading towards the towns, I sometimes forget how lucky we are to work out in the sticks and avoid all the traffic! Well the weather has remained grim all day, it did brighten up a bit this afternoon but the temperature dropped, it has been blowing a 'hoolie' all day and the rain has been on and off all day too, A big roaring fire is required and batten down the hatches for later.

Things are back to normal now, I am so glad as the Christmas break really interferes with our winter maintenance and it seems like a massive amount of fuss and upheaval just for a couple of days off! Anyway as I said things are back to normal, Fred and Steve have undocked the two private boats on the dock and put Phantom on for its bottom to be blacked and another couple of jobs at the same time, Mick has been getting wet outside this morning changing an alternator on a shared owned boat and then back to gas checks for the rest of the afternoon, Matt has started on Sovereign Lady's exterior coach work touching up and painting, Angela has been catching up on her outstanding paperwork generated by having a few days off while I have also been catching up on ordering bits for the boats and bits for the yard that could not be ordered because the country goes mad over Christmas and everywhere seems to shut down, we have also seen a few people around looking at boats and we seem to be inundated at the moment with people enquiring about boats that we have for sale, its funny how it goes, it might be dead quiet for a couple of weeks with enquiries ad then everyone wants a boat at the same time, we have also been quite busy with hire bookings today, I suppose that now Christmas is out of the way people are now thinking about their summer holidays.

That's it from me for today, until tomorrow

Monday, 2 January 2012

The first day back.

The first day back to work in the new and what a day, I have inserted a couple of photos of the wharf this morning when I arrived, the sun was coming up over the junction inn and was a stunning bright orange just like you see in the spring and summer, once I had opened up I took a couple more pictures of the wharf with the sun still coming up in the back ground, it was warm, the birds were tweeting and the wood pigeons were cooing away merrily in the back ground, it is very unusual to hear the birds this early in the year and in the mooring. The basin was still and the water was like a mirror as you can see in the photo, no one was stirring and there are not many visiting boats at the moment and we have none out either so it was all quiet as I opened up the wharf ready for a busy day.
We have been on skeleton staff again today as its the first bank holiday this year and with no boats out and not much moving it seemed pointless in being fully staffed, Bernard was supposed to be in with myself and Cheryl, Angela came in at 11 just to see us through the busy lunch time period in the tea room, Mick was supposed to be off but he decided to come in and catch up on some of the backlog of gas safety jobs that are now piling up, I suspect that Bernard had forgotten that he was supposed to be in today as he doesn't normally work on a Monday, we will wait until tomorrow to see what he says! Back to normal as from tomorrow, normal opening times and the staff rotation is back to normal so we should see some more people in, although David has done well as its his days off on a Tuesday and a Wednesday so he has had a nice long couple of breaks this year, and some of the others have of course had the whole Christmas period off as one long holiday!

As I suspected its been quite a busy day we have had a few boats in on the wharf, we have seen plenty of people looking at boats and the Tea room has kept Cheryl and Angela busy most of the day, over the festive period we have sold two boats so it just shows that it pays to be open! We could do with a few more to sell so if you are thinking of selling do give us a call.

As we are closing at 4 o'clock today that's it from me.