Shop front in the summer

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

More On Power

Thanks Alan for a very helpful contribution towards my post.

While on the subject of power consumption and usage, I was giving consideration to battery performance and installations last night and I didn’t mention how poorly installed batteries can have a big impact on their performance, I am not a battery expert but I know enough to make a good job of installing them and how they should be looked after, I often find that batteries in a cruiser style boat last for a shorter period than batteries in a trad, I also know that warmer batteries give better performance than cold batteries, hence the reason why we sell more batteries in the dead of the winter, batteries are better kept in a dry warm environment, also they give much better performance when using top quality fittings and cabling too, on my boat I was amazed when I bought the boat to see the cable size between the starter motor and the batteries and the alternator, now bear in mind that I only have two 135 Amp Hour batteries but the cable size is 3/4" in diameter for the starter motor and 1/2" from the Alternators, The battery terminals are the post and clamp on type and I have no issues with voltage drop in the charging circuit, the wiring on my boat is amazing and it is akin to something that you would see in an airplane.
You would be amazed at the amount of boats that we see in with the owners complaining of poor battery performance only to find that the charging leads are barely attached pieces of string cobbled together with terminal connector blocks and on battery lugs with a clamp that resembles something that was used in the 18th century, batteries lurking in the bilges, and swimming up to their necks in oily water, no wonder they give poor performance, not only that but its also dangerous!
I know if I spend a few hundred pounds on something I want the best return for my money so I make sure I look after things and batteries should be no exception.

Its been a quiet day again at Norbury which has been good as it has given me the chance to catch up with some much needed work that has been outstanding.

That’s it from me for another day
until tomorrow

Monday, 27 February 2012

The cost of power

The one thing that everyone wants on boats is free electric, well unless you have an 'eco' powered boat with solar panels and wind generators adorning every inch of the boats surface and moor in an open space to catch the sun and wind then I am afraid that there is nothing you can do except to generate it yourself using the tried and tested methods of a well maintained battery bank, and have a good method of charging said batteries, a good quality inverter to convert that power to 240 volts and if you can afford it a built in diesel generator which will either aid the charging of the batteries and also supply you with a decent amount of 240 volts, of course all this is less important if you are permanently plugged in to a shore line and rarely move your boat, but to do it properly costs money.

I lived on many boats since my first boat back in the late 80's, that was of course very basic and all I could afford was one battery and a Halfords type battery charger, if I was away cruising I relied totally upon the engines alternator to charge the battery and that was fine, when I Started living aboard I needed more batteries to cope with the extra demand that I placed upon the supply, eventually as my needs changed so did my boats and subsequently so did my power requirements, the last boat that I lived on had 6 domestic batteries, twin alternators, a battery management system, a battery management monitor(like a battery level gauge) a big inverter and last but least a decent built in diesel generator, I also had a smaller portable generator as a back up if everything else failed, needless to say that the whole system was costly but while I was away from shore power I enjoyed effortless power supply, I checked my batteries monthly for electrolyte levels, topped them up as required, I kept the battery terminals free from 'canker' kept the tops of the batteries very clean, all kept in a well ventilated area and most importantly I never ever let the batteries discharge below 12 volts, The batteries lasted for about five years and when the performance dropped to a level that I wasn’t happy with that is when I changed them for a new set.

My boating has changed massively since them days and now I only boat for pleasure but I still have the same disciplines as when I lived on a boat with regards to the batteries, just before I laid my boat up for the winter I carried out the usual checks on the batteries, levels etc and cleaned them and left them on my smart four step charger over the winter, upon visiting the boat recently they are all in excellent condition and ready for another seasons use.

we sell hundreds and hundreds of batteries a year, when we do a full engine service we include a battery check as part of that service as we believe it is an important commodity, If you look after your batteries then they will look after you and you should get a reasonable life span out of them, abuse them and be prepared to be let down by them when you least expect!

Its been a wet horrid today at Norbury, nothing exciting has happened, no boats have been seen moving so noting really to report about so until tomorrow.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

It was a bit cooler this morning, but it soon proved to be another nice day. The wind is still a bit chilly, but I suppose it is only February... From the five day weather forecast I caught site of earlier it looks like we are in for a glorious week! Lets hope so anyway. The nice weather seems to lift everyones spirits... Although we do desperately need some rain.

A friend of mine took the following photograph at Northchurch lock on the Grand Union Canal. There is a stoppage on the Tring summit due to the lack of water a few miles north of where this picture was taken. The levels have been somewhat reduced by Waterways. It's amazing how clear the water has become as there has been no traffic pass through for a couple of months.

It's been another busy day here. We've had endless people looking at the boats for sale. Lorraine and Joyce have been busy in the tearoom again and Ange has had to give them a hand at times.

Mick has had his head down working on a boat outside the dry dock, although he did have to pop out to one of our hire boats at Market Drayton around midday.

That's it from me today. Simon's back tomorrow to keep you entertained.

Until then.

Best regards,


Saturday, 25 February 2012

I just don't know where the time goes to. Today has flown by and I haven't got half the things done that I have wanted to!

It has been a glorious day here today although the wind has been a bit chilly. That has meant that Lorraine has been really busy in the tearoom today with the able assistance of Joyce. Ange and I have been busy in the shop too and there has been plenty of people in looking at boats. Let's hope that it's the start of a busy season.

The lads have been busy on our hire fleet today and we have turned three boats round.

I know it's short and sweet tonight, but I assure you it will be longer tomorrow!



Friday, 24 February 2012

Diesel heating

I woke up in the middle of the night sweating... Not because I had dreamt something bad, but because the temperature; over night, was a lot higher than it has been for months. My fire is turned down on it's lowest setting, so I will have to turn a radiator or two off and benefit from "extra warm" hot water!

I never thought that I would say it, but you just can't beat diesel heating.

For those that know me well, will know that I have been involved with canal carrying for a good number of years, and over those years I have transported hundreds of tonnes of coal (and other cargoes) by canal all over the country. I used to love nothing more than settling down for a winter's evening with a roaring coal fire and I even used to have a fire alight during the summer to boil kettles and cook dinner!

Leaving the National Waterways Festival in 2011 with Clover and Fazeley
loaded with 40 tonnes of domestic bagged coal. Captured by Marie Sumpter.

When I was in the process of buying the Ant; some years previously Simon had fitted a Bubble diesel stove along with a back boiler feeding the radiators and heating a calorifier along with a backup heating unit in the form of an Eberspacher, I was seriously considering removing the stove and fitting a conventional multifuel stove. I decided to live with it for a few months. I quickly realised the benefits (no dust, lumping coal around, emptying ashes) and two years on, I love it. They do take a bit of "setting up correctly", but along with a yearly service and "clean" diesel you just can't beat them in my opinion. They must burn with a "blue" flame. A "yellow" flame is a "dirty" flame. This can be caused by a number of factors, mainly due to the fact that the fire isn't getting enough oxygen which is normally caused by the holes in the burner pot getting clogged up. This causes a carbon build up and the fire will just not develop the heat that is required. It's lovely to go out to work and come home some nine hours later and the boat is still lovely and warm and you have plenty of hot water!

I'm not so keen on Eberspacher's (Mikuni's/Webasto's) as a main heating source, but I find my Eberspacher very handy in the summer months to heat the calorifier and during the chiller mornings and evenings during the early spring and late Autumn just to warm the boat through. These heaters were originally designed for use in vehicles and therefore were designed to run on (clean) white diesel. I must say that I haven't had a problem with mine coking up, but I do service it on a regular basis and I also put Exocet fuel additive in my diesel tanks to prevent any contamination.

A lot of people ask me if diesel heating is more expensive than coal. I don't think it is, but it all depends on the system and the heating source. As a general rule of thumb, an Eberspacher/Mikunui/Webasto uses about 1 litre per hour whereas a Bubble stove uses a lot less. I rarely turn mine above number two on the regulator and I use about 20 litres during a period of seven days and that's running all day for seven days a week.

You can't get away from the smell of real coal though. So when I bought the Ant it was a MUST to fit a coal fired range in the back cabin. A roaring fire makes boating delightful in the cooler or damp/wet weather. You can keep a kettle boiling on top of it for endless cups of tea and a casserole or joint of meat in the oven to keep you warm inside too!

One things for sure - I will never get cold on the Ant!

Until tomorrow.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Topsy-Turvy world

It’s a Topsy-Turvy World

If you want proof that the world is upside down, then turn to page 24 of the Towpath Trader section of this month’s Towpath Talk.

There you will find the Norbury Wharf full page advertisement standing on its head.


Well the reason is spelled out (the right way up) at the top of the page where it says: “In an upside down economy you can rely on Norbury Wharf to keep things on an even keel.”

The truth is that when prices are going through the roof, bankers are paid millions for getting it wrong and the rest of us have to suffer the consequences, including soaring prices, I think we are doing our bit to make it easier to ride out the storm.

Turn the page the right way up so you can read the advertisement properly and you will see our (FAME free) red diesel is still 77.9p a litre, and we think that’s the cheapest at a boatyard anywhere on the waterways. If you know differently lets us know.

And you will see that we are offering 110 amp-hour batteries at £64.95 each if you buy four. We also have good prices on 135 amp-hour as well.

Follow the link on the page to our website and you can see our deals on hire-boat prices (18% discount on one of our 10-berth boats) and our new-concept day-boat.

Competition features in Towpath Talk

We like Towpath Talk as it gets to readers other magazines don’t seem to reach and we are delighted that they are featuring our latest competition to win a day for ten people on one of our day boats – see page 93 – all you have to do is send us your favourite family recipe for a food of the past, along with the reasons you remember it so well. We will pick the one we like best and include it on our cafĂ© menu with your name attached.

If you can’t check out a Towpath Talk you can get details of the competition from our website and follow the link to our new e-magazine Norbury News

Whilst on the subject of Norbury News you can also follow us on Twitter @NorburyNewsNow as well as join our Facebook page here:

What a fantastic day it has been, neither me or David have wanted to be in the office today as teh weatehr has been superb, the forecastors got it bang on today for our area and its been very warm and trhe sun has been out all day long.

Its been a busy day today as expected, boats swapped over in the dry dock and the wet dock, me David and Simon put the Day boats back in the water and Simon has been getting them up and running and finishing off the last couple of niggling jobs on the steel work and engineering, after pressure washing Fred cleaned up the car park so that we have plenty of room for our hirers and customers.

Thats it from me now until next week, I hope you all have a good weekend.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

wet n windy

It started out wet and windy and its carried on being wet and windy all day, it hasn't been cold but and it hasn't really rained heavily but the bind has been blowing around here today, its also been grey and overcast all day, so all in all not the nicest of days.

Its been a quiet day today, not many people around although I don't blame anyone for not venturing out side, the yard has seemed quiet as well, Bernard has been in working on boats down the dock and around the yard, Fred has been in doing similar, Matt and Simon have been in and so have Steve and Arron yet they have all had their heads down and have been cracking on with their jobs, do not get me wrong I am not complaining about the lads working, it just seems as though they have kept out of my way, and I haven't been in a grumpy mood!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, we have Ember to dock, we have Steelaway to put in to the painting dock and we have the two day boats to re launch after their winters rest on the bank, so we will all be busy first thing.

Until tomorrow

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Nice suprise

Its been a lovely day today, the birds have been tweeting, the sun has been shining, although it did rain at one point but not for long, its been like a spring day again!

Its been a busy day today, at least I haven’t been lonely today as Angela has been in and kept me company, She too has been busy catching up with her paperwork and looking after customers, we have seen quite a few people around looking at boats for sale, its a sign that the nicer weather is on its way, Simon has almost finished the welding on the day boat, just about four inches to go and then she will go back in the water, he has also fitted a new top rudder bearing so that will be nice and smooth, Mick has been paneling around a water tank today on a private boat as well as doing some plumbing, he never gets bored here as he is always doing something different, matt has been painting Ember while Fred has been blacking, It might just be a record for Fred as he has blacked three boats today! He has also been washing engine rooms out, Steve and Aaron are back on the moorings so hopefully they will be finished soon.

I had a visit today from a chap called Tony Brown, he used to work here many years ago and now lives in the village, he is part of the Norbury historical society and they have produce a book detailing the full history of Norbury junction and its many characters over the years, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview and it looks fascinating, there are some excellent photos and some excellent photos of the boat yard, I even get a mention, it will be on sale soon, I will let you know when it is.

That’s it from me for today

Monday, 20 February 2012


Sorry for the lack of blog yesterday, I was at work with Angela as David was off enjoying himself and I had a rather busy day, I ended up leaving late as it was because i wanted to finish a quote that I had been working on, Today I have been lonely as I have had no David and No Angela, no Lorraine only Joyce to keep me company, I have been very busy as you can imagine! Its been a great day though and I am glad that it has been quiet as I would not have coped on my own if it had been really busy!

The lads have all been busy, Bernard has been down in the dry dock all day, he has been welding some chine angle production strips on to a shared owned boat and blacking the hull sides as well as servicing the engine so he has been a busy boy, Mick has finished a few jobs off on Princess as that is off out tomorrow and he has finished off re commissioning Opal 2 as that is out shortly,he then started on a private job that requires a lot of interesting jobs, that will keep him busy now until the end of March, Matt has been painting Ember, this is the last of the hire boats that is being done and after that he will be on to private work, I am sure he will be glad to see the back of the hire boats, Simon came in today to carry on with the welding on the new day boat and he is nearly finished, it will be finished tomorrow and me and David will be launching both day boats on Thursday.

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

Saturday, 18 February 2012

We like to be able to offer a good discount to our customers as and when possible. Today is no exception... We have reduced the hire fees for Monarch by 18% for both short breaks and weekly hire during 2012. Please find an up-to-date price list on our website.

Simon has been getting on well again with the plating work on Bounty, that was until we had torrential rain. I checked the forecast and it was due to last all day, so he rigged up a bit of shelter. Unfortunately the high winds caused havoc with this and still managed to get him soaking wet! It's impossible to weld in that situation so we decided that he would call it a day and make the hours up on Monday - let's hope the weather is better on Monday...

Friday, 17 February 2012


I am always glad when Friday comes around as I usually get the weekend off but not this week as I am working this Sunday, but I am still off tomorrow though, Its been a very busy day today as we have had several boats turnaround and some of the hire boats go out as well, the tea room and shop have been really busy as well, it hasn't helped by the fact that we have had several large stock orders come in today which Angela and Loraine have had to price up and put out on the shelves.

As you can imagine all of the lads have been really busy today, far too much has gone on to try and keep you up to date with, to be honest even I don't know what everyone has been up to, with the exception of Simon, I know what he has been doing, he has been plating on the day boat, and he has nearly finished, and he has also made a cracking job of it! David has been a bit elusive today as he has been on every boat out side today checking to make sure all is done and sorted, he has only just come in to the office so we will have some catching up to do now.

Not really much more I can add so that's it from me for this week, I hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Coming and going

Some days you just don't know if you are coming or going, its been a manic sort of day today, one minute as dead as a Dodo and the next its been as lively as a lit fire cracker, we have not really stopped all day, Angela has been backwards and forwards between the tea room and the office while I have been dealing with customers, emails and the phone all day as well as looking after Fred and the other lads when they have needed something!

The weather this morning was glorious, the birds where on the wharf first thing, I reckon they thought that spring had definitely arrived early, the sun was coming up and as I was opening up this morning I looked around the wharf and thought how luck I was to be working in such a lovely place, as I write this blog its still light and it is lovely to drive home in the light and get home in the light, it wont be long now before its light at 6, then 7, then 10, wonderful and we will still be seeing boats moving until late, roll on them balmy summer days.

Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The power of the written word!

David has mentioned recently how much more time both myself and David are spending doing promotional work for Norbury, this is being done in conjunction with a friend and customer of ours, Peter. Well it just goes to show that at last we have hit fame, well not literally, our new 'Norbury news letter' that we are publishing monthly is now being followed on Twitter by Timothy Spall, I am chuffed that he is following our news and blog, I think that the series that he did recently about his voyages around our coast in his barge was excellent!

I have finally removed my coat! At long last the temperatures are back up again and some warmth has arrived at Norbury, albeit a bit of warmth but none the less its better than the cold! Its been a bright day out on the wharf and the sun did put in an appearance at one stage, roll on spring time, not long now!

Its been a busy one today, I think that we have been blessed as we seem to be the only stretch of canal that isn't frozen solid, we have eight boats out in all and we have had reports that there is ice on the Staffs and Worcs canal but I have heard nothing form the other boats so they must have found some free water elsewhere, or are they all stuck out side the Anchor?

The lads have been busy, Simon plating the day boat as well as a few minor jobs here and there on other boats, Mick has had his head stuck in Pippin doing gas, Matt, well guess what, he has been painting another boat, Fred has been blacking and tidying up in the dock while Joyce has been spring cleaning and me and Angela have kept our eye on the shop and tea room, well I haven't relly been involved in the tea room, can you see me in a pinny!!

That's it from me for today.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Hanging around

Hire boaters and share boaters heading out from Norbury for a couple of weeks will often head north to try the Cheshire ring, passing through Manchester.

One of the highlights is the Marple Aqueduct – a Grade One listed structure that carries the Peak Forest Canal as it links with the Huddersfield Narrow and the Ashton and on into central Manchester – and now you might to get to see more of it than in the past.

Specialist contractors with a head for heights are helping the aqueduct to shrug off the trees, bushes and clinging ivy that have obscured it from view.

They will abseil around 100 feet from the Marple Aqueduct – also known as the Grand Aqueduct - to carefully remove years of vegetation which has taken hold and has been undermining the structure’s masonry.

Marple Aqueduct is an impressive feature of the Peak Forest and is also designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument site. It carries the canal high above the River Goyt, on three stone arches and was built between 1794 -1801.

British Waterways’ national vegetation contractors will be carrying out the works which will take up to one week to complete.

Mark Ashton, contracts manager, British Waterways, said: “It will be a rare opportunity to watch the contractors hanging over this magnificent aqueduct to remove the overgrown vegetation which has built up over several years.

“The work that we are doing today will be the first step in safeguarding this important piece of local and national heritage for generations to come and visually it will make a huge difference to its overall appearance.”

An application to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry our further works to underpin the structural integrity of the aqueduct is being considered in the near future.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

It’s an endless job moving boats…

It’s an endless job moving boats… We spend hours in a week moving boats around so we can swap the boats on both the Dry dock and the Painting dock. The ice makes the job even longer at this time of the year, especially when your fingers feel like they are going to drop off. The other alternative is to put layers of clothes on, but then the fear of falling in to the icy cold water and floundering around like a drowned rat does concern me. Not only is it easier moving boats with two people, it is also a lot safer if one of you slips or gets into some sort of trouble. I gave Fred a hand on Thursday and the following pictures set the scene!

Starting Reflections engine.

Using Reflection to break the ice up down the arm.

Nearly at the dock!

That's Fred enjoying moving boats!

When I went home last night it was freezing hard and I was shocked to awake to it being a lot milder today, although only 2 or 3 degrees. Subsequently it made shifting boats a lot easier. We docked a boat this morning for survey and then swapped it for a boat called Envoy which is on the dock for pressure washing and blacking. This boat has spent many years at Shebdon and is a boat that I’ve got a real soft spot for. Although she was built in the early seventies, a recent survey showed that there was very minimal wear on year hull. The good thing about older boats is that they tend to have lovely lines and they steer like a dream, which is more than true about Envoy.

Lets hope that the weather is going to warm up a bit now…

Best regards,


Saturday, 11 February 2012

It's been a busy day today. We have had four hire boats go out, three shared boats and new occupants in Wharf Cottage that has kept everyone busy. Billy has been in today to give us a hand whilst Fred has been on his favourite duty of pumpouts, Mick has done the internals and Simon has been checking the engines over.

Bill has given Simon an taste of what show rounds on the hire boats are all about. Lorraine has been busy in the tea room and Ange has been looking after the customers and oncoming hirers in the shop.

It looks like it is going to be another cold one tonight. He froze hard again last night, apparently it went down to about -15°C here at Norbury! Although it's been nice having the sun out today, it has still been cold - it doesn't look like it is going to let up yet...

Hope you all have a good evening.

Until tomorrow.



Thursday, 9 February 2012

Keeping an open mind

If someone asked me for just one thing that I have learnt since I started working here at Norbury some seven years ago, it would have to be "keeping an open mind". I wouldn't say that I used to judge people, situations etc. on first impressions, but I have learnt that you have to allow things to grow on you over a period of time.

The latest "platform" that has grown on me is Twitter... I first Tweeted (as it's apparently called by Twitterer's!) was back in August 2009 when I setup @norburywharfltd. I don't think that I pushed it as hard as I should have done as other things were on our minds. So by December 2010 I allowed it to lay dormant with just thirty odd Followers. So when Simon and I were approached and asked to start Tweeting again, I must say that I was a bit apprehensive. It soon became apparent that it needed someone else on our side and probably a new and improved Twitter profile, so we enrolled the help of a good friend who agreed to take on the job and knows what's what. The new profile just had to be @norburynewsnow, which fits in incredibly well with our first recent monthly release of Norbury News (available upon request Be it the weather, stoppages, restrictions, updates, news, offers, gossip - we've got it all. The good thing with Twitter is that it also sends Tweets via a text message to your mobile phone, so no matter where you are you can keep upto date with everything that is going on.

I must admit that I find it difficult to let go of something that I have helped to setup. There's also three of us now who are admins on our Facebook group, as it is just impossible for one person to keep on top of it all and keep up with the questions that we are asked - let alone letting you all know what we have been upto. My time is much more valued in the office these days, even being out on the yard seems to be a thing of the past - although Bernard and Fred manage to encourage me out on occasions. So if you haven't already, sign up with Twitter and start following @norburynewsnow.

Simon and I do try to write a blog each day, which I know Simon has mentioned in the past is just sometimes impossible. It's six o' clock now and I'm still waffling on about Twitter, but I just wanted you all to know that we are working hard to improve our service and try to offer some of the best prices available.

Talking of prices... Simon has been to a trade show in Birmingham today. He's been after new suppliers for the stock in the shop, so we can offer different toys, gifts and confectionery for this up and coming season. It's not easy, but I can assure you that we are working hard at it!

Anyway, I best be off home or else Annie will think that I have deserted her.

Best regards,


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bloody cold!

It is sometimes difficult to convey in words a scene that you see everyday and maybe take for granted, it is even harder when the person reading the description might have never seen the place before, I say this as this blog is read by a wide audience and I wish that had the time to put photos on when ever I see something outstanding.

Today started with me reluctantly peeling back the curtains to an amazing scene, I really did think it had snowed again, although I only live six miles away and we did not escape the snow like Norbury did so this morning it was a wintery scene that covered the land scape, my drive to work was like driving through an avenue of snow covered trees, the hedgerows were were like icing covered cakes and the roads were like ice rinks! the road in to Norbury was particularly bad and I seemed to skate my way in to work, upon arrival the locks were frozen solid and it took several minutes of a lighter flame on them to make them free up, as the day wore on the temperature just about made it up to 0 degrees, (the lowest temperature here last night was -12) I had to go out this afternoon and the trees were still heavily laden with ice and the hedgerows were still like icing sugar cover cakes, as I was driving back along the main road from Newport some four miles away the scene over the fields was like something out of a fairy tale, in the distance across the open fields stood a completely white covered village surrounded by green fields that were not covered in frost or snow, Norbury stands a little higher than the surrounding area so it is a bit more exposed and as such it feels the extremes in the weather, It looked stunning I just wish that I had a camera to snap the scene, The temperatures are set to plummet again tonight so if you are out and about take care, if you are on a boat get that fire stoaked right up, I know that as soon as I get home I will be turning the central heating up, lighting a roaring fire and locking Jack frost out for the night.

Until tomorrow

Monday, 6 February 2012

White stuff!

Where on earth did that lot come from over the weekend, don't panic about your boats here at Norbury because we only had the lightest dusting of snow here but elsewhere there was a right proper covering of the white stuff, I was in the Derbyshire peaks this weekend and that didn't escape the snow, we had about 6" where I was staying and once we got up in to the hills there was considerably more, in one place it was up to my knees, thankfully this was only drifts and it did not impede our progress, today started cold but not really freezing like the weekend where temperatures were down to minus 10 at Norbury, in fact it was that cold in the Peaks that the drinks in my car had frozen over night! the day brightened up towards lunch time and know we have such a 'pea souper' out there, believe it or not I cannot see the British waterways service block on the opposite side of the canal.

Its been quite a busy day today, pretty much boring stuff really, nothing exciting has happened other than i have got to get off as I need to go and look at a boat stuck in a field that we need to organise a crane and transport to move, so that's it from me for today, I hope you all have a safe night if you are out and about.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Search for forgotten family foods

Is there a meal you remember your mother, or even your grandmother making that you never seem to see these days? If there is, the traditional tearoom at Norbury Wharf is keen to hear about it – and it could win you a free day out for 10 people on the beautiful Shropshire Union Canal.

The tearoom, already a favourite with visitors who enjoy the waterside views and observing the passing boats, wants to revive interest in the forgotten foods of the past.

All customers and internet followers are being asked to dig deep in their memories to recall the meals that delighted them as children.

It might be a meal you recall sharing you're your parents as a child, such as faggots and grey peas or a family speciality.

It could be the proper version of dishes that have become a shadow of their former selves such as steak and kidney pudding or Victoria sponge. Whatever it is you can help the tearoom to start a collection preserving the flavours of the past.

Lorraine Bailey, who runs the tearoom, said: "We operate in a very historic location here at Norbury on a canal system over 200 years old and we have a lot of customers who appreciate the traditional way of doing things.

"With fast food and ready meals we are in danger of forgetting some of the great flavours of the past so we want peoples' recipes and memories of when they enjoyed a particular speciality.

"The one we like best will win a trip in one of our day boats for up to 10 people and we are hoping to serve up some of the recipes in the tearoom as specials to see what our customers think of the forgotten foods of Britain. We’ll name the dishes after those who told us about them."

Norbury Wharf’s Ltd’s new magazine is already featuring some forgotten foods – currently Bath Chaps, a type of cured pork, made with pig cheeks.

If you remember a delightful dish from your youth, just e-mail Norbury with the recipe and something about your memories of eating it. Send your e-mails to and put Forgotten Foods in the subject line.

Alternatively write to them at Forgotten Foods, Norbury Wharf Ltd, The Wharf, Norbury Junction, Staffordshire ST20 0PN.

The one that best hits the spot will win a free trip on one of Norbury’s day boats for up to 10 people, during which you can explore the lovely Shropshire Union Canal.

This competition closes at the end of March and the winner must take their trip mid week during April 2012.

If all this talk of traditional dishes has whetted your appetite you may want to know more about the Norbury Wharf tea room.

It may be traditional but it is far from being in the dark ages, with free WiFi access and a free internet terminal.

It is a favourite with cyclists and walkers as is fully licensed and always offers a range of homemade cakes.

It is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and customers can catch up with the canal news from the shop copies of the waterways magazines and national newspapers.

Advice for potential and existing narrowboat owners is always on-hand from canal experts Simon Jenkins and David Ray.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

That was a cold one. Brrrr...

When I got up this morning the boat didn't rock at all and as I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth there was a large crack as the ice gave way and allowed Ant to lean slightly to the side that I was standing. After a strong cup of coffee I flung the doors open and let Annie out, she resisted at first and I soon realised why once I had put my boots on and looked outside myself. It was freezing... A good three inches of ice formed last night down the arm.

Simon has finished the engine service off on a boat that we have had in and then we've been lighting heating systems and checking boats over. The plummeting temperatures have certainly made the boats very cold inside.

Mick has done a few of the checks on the boats and has been working on a private boat this afternoon.

Ember and Debdale have been collected today and we have also got people in the cottage.

There's not much more to report really.

Best regards,


Friday, 3 February 2012

Makes a change

It does make a change when the weather forecasters get it right and they have certainly done so this week, it dropped much colder yesterday and last night was bitter, when i left home this morning it was measuring -6 in my car, it did warm up a bit by the time I arrived at work, it was -5 fortunately the sun has been beating down the rays all day and I mean beating down! it has lifted the temperature to a massive 0 degrees! It could get colder over the weekend, I hope you have all protected your boats against this cold snap as it might just have caused some damage if not.

Sorry I didn't write up the blog yesterday as we were incredibly busy, today has been a busy day but not like yesterday, Billy has been finishing off the shared boats and going around our fleet and running engines and heating systems up to put a bit of warmth in to them, Matt has been painting Windsor, Steve has been finishing off bits of trimming on different boats, Simon has been fitting a sump drain pump on to Debdale, that's a bit of an unusual design, the front deck drains through two metal tubes welded in to the front deck and then it goes through a central channel and to the back of the boat to the engine bilge, any water is then pumped out over the side with the bilge pump, unfortunately it looks like the central pipe has corroded which has caused the inner bilge to keep filling up with water, so we have fitted two new deck drains, some flexible hose which goes to an automatic bilge pump which is mounted in a box and then any water gets pumped out over the side of the boat, As long as the owners keep the filter clear it will perform perfectly, after Simon had finished fitting that he then went out to Phantom that decided it wasn't going to start for the people that are on it, once he had returned he then started an engine service on a private boat, David has been messing with his computer for most of the day ( I think it is just an excuse to stay in the warm!) Angela has managed to stay in the warm all day, me on the other hand have been out and about picking up bits and bobs for the boats and freezing my ........ off!

That's it from me for this week, I Hope what ever you are doing you have a safe and warm weekend.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


To say that it is bracing is somewhat of an understatement, i thought yesterday was cold but today is even colder, we are lucky in as much as the sun has been shining all day and apart from the bitter cold it has been a stunning day here at Norbury, the temperature over night dropped down to around minus six yet there didn't seem much frost around on my way in to work this morning, the boats however had a hard frost covering them, the canal has no ice on it apart from the sheltered parts like our slip way, the sun has been shining all day which had melted the frost by around ten this morning, I just hope that the temperatures pick up by the weekend or we might have to consider draining the boats down!

It has been a very quiet day today, there doesn't seem to be much pattern at the moment, last week we were very busy and yet this week is the opposite and is very quiet, the lads on the other hand have been busy today, Fred, Simon and Bernard have docked Sphinx today for its winter hull maintenance, Fred has pressure washed it, David will ultrasound the hull tomorrow to see if it needs any plating, Bernard has been on all sorts of things, mainly in engine rooms, Simon is still getting to know his way around the place, Arron has been concreting mooring spikes and rings in on the new moorings which are looking excellent, another few weeks and they will be finished, just a new electric point to install and the water, Matt has been painting Reflection and that is ready now to come out of the dock, Micky is on his gas refresher course in Wales,Angela has been doing paperwork while Lorraine has been out cleaning boats, and that about sums up the activity for today.

David is back in tomorrow and we will all be working hard to finalise the new Norbury news letter and the contacts that want to receive it and this week we have a couple of boats due to go out so we will be a bit busier come Friday and Saturday.

That's it from me for today, I'm off home to put my feet up by a roaring fire and thaw my hands out, I hope you all stay warm.