Shop front in the summer

Monday, 30 April 2012

where did the week go?

I really must apologise yet again for the length of time between posts on the blog, I am conscious it has been a week since the last time I typed up a blog but we have been very busy indeed and neither me or David have had the time to write anything, you would have thought with the disgusting weather that we were experiencing over the last week we would be quiet, well on the contrary we've been flat out! Talking about the weather, hasn't it been relentless, I really felt sorry for the lads and lass's last week who had to work on the boats out side, they all had a thorough drenching, still they managed to get all of the boats turned around without too many issues; Today is a different kettle of fish as the weather has done a complete turnaround and the sun has been shining all day and as I writ the blog it is still sunny.

As you can imagine it has been an eventful week given the extreme weather we have had, on Saturday the hurricane strength winds caused several trees to be blown over and the usual place didn't get away with out incident, you guessed it Woodseaves cutting had a land slide which also caused a tree to come down so BWB shut the canal, the good news is that it has now been cleared and is open again, I reckon it is only a matter of time before that whole area suffers a major incident and closes the canal for a much much longer period!

I could keep on writing about things that have gone on since last Tuesday(last blog), the damage the wind and rain has caused, the jobs that the lads have all been on but the blog would end up being pages and pages long so I will try my hardest this week to keep things a little more up to date.

until tomorrow (hopefully)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Blacking and its merits have been discussed at lengths by every boater through out the land, and water! I have been involved with docking and blacking boats now for longer that I care to remember and have applied every type of coating from the cheapest to the most expensive two pack paints, I have seen new hulls, old hulls, primed hulls and bare steel hulls so I reckon that I have a good all round knowledge of steel hulls, the first word I will say on the subject Is that no matter what steel boat you own or its intended use the hull needs regular painting to give it overall protection against corrosion, the more the boat gets used then the more frequent the hull needs painting, you can not escape that fact! In a similar vein to an engine being used, the more it is used the more it needs servicing, boats are after all an asset and therefore they need to be treated as such and maintained to a good standard so that when eventually sold on they give a good return, bear in mind a surveyor can tell if a boat has been maintained properly or not, there are plenty of different makes and types of paint on the market and to someone who doesn’t know the differences it can be quite daunting as to which paint to apply, we have seen all sorts over the years and some boats have even had antifouling paint applied to the hulls, there are no hard and fast rules as to what is the best to apply, after about three years of a hull being in the water, no matter what was applied before there doesn’t seem much left on once it has been pressure washed, so my advice is to go for a mid ranged product but make sure you have it done between a two and three year period, don’t leave it any longer, make sure it is blacked undercover if at all possible, and that the recommended drying times applicable to the ambient air temperatures are closely adhered to, the other thing to remember is that there is no substitute to quantity and the more coats that are applied the better (within reason) we always put three coats on, the first with a big brush and then the last two coats with a roller, our dock is booked usually well in advance, if you are looking for a quote give us a call. Fred painting the counter bands, or tunnel flashes as they are sometimes know.

We have a large dock and it can accommodate two boats at a time but we only put one in at a time giving us plenty of room to get around the dock

The boats sit on 'bostocks' which are concrete blocks about a metre tall, this gives us excellent clearance under the boat if we need access for repairs.



Sunday, 22 April 2012

THERE is more to painting a boat than painting a boat - it takes a lot of skills that are specific to a lump of steel that sits in water all day - and we have them here at Norbury - but it also takes some effort from the boat owner once we've done our job.
Our professional boat painters and canal artists have been painting boats for many years and we are proud of the levels of customer satisfaction we manage to achieve.
We like to think we produce some of the finest craftsmanship on the 'cut' to provide a superb finish, no matter what type of boat we are painting.
However, once we have done our bit and delivered a nice, shiny boat it is down to you.
I know it has become a bit of a joke to talk about shiny boaters - but all boats are shiny at some stage and most owners have enough pride in what is a very valuable possession to keep it looking smart.
That's simple really. All that is required is regular washing and a coat of polish once or twice a year. The old Number Ones, even when their boats were carrying the dirtiest cargoes, took pride in keeping them clean and shining. That is where today's obsession with polishing brass on a boat originates.
Working boats were washed down after every run and that is not a bad way to look at it if you own a boat. Clean it when you get back to your mooring and you will be able to set out looking good the next time you go boating.
Not only that, you will make your money go further. Even though our basic painting package is great value at just £79.00 per foot (inc VAT), having a boat painted is always going to be a substantial investment.
Just keeping the topsides clean and polishing the vessel now and again will mean that our paint job could last twice as long - and that means twice the value.
We are always here to give you free quotations with no obligation and we will recommend how you can best get the results you want.
We are busy but we will work with you to plan timings to fit in with your prior arrangements if we can.
If you do decide to go with Norbury Wharf then you will be getting a traditional painting job. We don't go for a quick finish with rollers, we finish with brushes and the price includes a complete job down to the top guard iron.
At the same time you can book a slot in our dry dock to have the bottom half of the boat blacked and you will set sail again with a completely refurbished boat.
There are also extras that can be added to the package and we will give you the prices if they are what you want.
We can return gritted areas to bare metal and we can re-grit cabin top and gunnels.
We can offer graining or scumbling and the decorative diamonds and geometrical patterns that give a boat distinction.
In the same vein we can decorate the counter bands and top bend/return plate and provide traditional canal art (Roses and Castles), as well as signwriting.
If you would like us to we can decorate the hatch and slide, we can varnish and provide mouses' ears or teddy bears, whatever you want to call them, on rear bulkheads.
The choice is yours, so, for a quote email us now on
For more news take a look at our e-magazine Norbury News at

Saturday, 21 April 2012

It was quite an emotional day yesterday and I think a funeral always puts everyones life into perspective. So after doing the necessary jobs at home when I finished work (ie. walking Annie) I decided it was time to retire to the pub with some friends and "put the world to rights". It was closing time when we rolled out of the Junction and the next thing I knew was that the sun was rising and the birds had started tweeting.

Whilst walking across the field with Annie the sun was starting to get some heat into it and I was doubting the weather forecast that I had heard only an hour previously. I was in the office by eight and Fred arrived soon after. I do enjoy our morning chats. Fred is so dedicated that he arrives half an hour before we open and before anyone else arrives on the yard. We talk about all manner of things, but it is usually work related. It wasn't long before Lorraine's husband arrived and informed us that she was still unwell and wouldn't be coming to work.

There were new occupants for five hire boats and Wharf Cottage arriving this afternoon, so the lads had to busy themselves with getting them ready. Denise set to with cleaning and soon after the heavens opened and it did come down! I know we are short of water but the rain/hail storms that we are experiencing at the moment are incredible.

Kim and I have looked after the shop, office and tearoom, although I must say that Kim has been doing the latter.

Matt has been in today and has been making headway with Calstock. I managed to grab a couple of photographs a short while ago, so here you go.

That's everything from me today.

Until tomorrow.



Friday, 20 April 2012

I know Simon has apologised for our sporadic blogs recently but I feel that I should also send mine. There just weren't enough hours in the day over Easter to get everything completed.

It's quietened down somewhat this week, although saying that we have still had a good number customers through the door. We've completed on two boats that we had for sale and I have just taken a deposit on Tom Sandles. We must be averaging on about one and a half boats a week, which I am sure some of the bigger brokers would also like to be doing. It must be our friendly approach and sensible pricing. If you are thinking of putting your boat up for sale. Don't hesitate to contact Simon or myself who will be happy to talk you through the process and give you an idea on what sought of price we think that your boat should be marketed at.

Today seems to have flown by. Simon, Amanda (that's his partner), Bernard and I unfortunately had to attend a funeral at High Offley church this afternoon, which left Ange, Kim, Fred, Simon, Mick and Matt hard at work here at Norbury.

That's everything to report for today. I will try and get some pictures of the progress of the repainting of Calstock tomorrow.

Until then,


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bloody awful

What a disgusting, horrible day it has been today, it has not stopped raining all day, I Am just glad that it wasn't smack bang in the middle of the children's holidays, I didn't see the pouring rain early this morning but according to those who did it was torrential, as i write up today's blog it is still raining, it wont have made much of an impact on the reservoirs though but I bet the farmers are glad of it, it has mad a small difference on the level here at Norbury and the canal must be up about an inch from yesterday.

As you can imagine it has been a quiet day today, as I have said before though Wednesdays are generally quiet but the rain has kept everyone away toady except the hardy few, Fred and Simon docked a boat this morning, Fred then proceeded to pressure wash it while leaving Simon to move boats around the place, we have had more boats turn up to be sold on so that has kept me busy, once Fred had finished he helped Simon move the rest of the boats around and made room for the returning boats this coming weekend, Matt is in the final stages of top coating the boat in the dock and that is the total sum of today's goings on!

Until tomorrow

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

sporadic blogging

I must apogolise for the sporadic manner in which our blog has been written latley, partly the reason is the school holidays which have caused us to be really busy, throw in to the mix me having last Friday off and this Monday and that has left David in charge, when either of us are out of the office it does make the day go quite quickly and we dont always get done what we set out to do in the morning, hence why I am writing the blog at seven o'clock at night, but instead of being in the office I am sat by a nice open fire with my feet up, I was not in on Friday as I had a long weekend and went down to my boat and took that for a spin this weekend, the weather was good, the boat performed faultlessly and I has a lovely time however I had Monday off as I was as sick as a pig, I must have picked up some sort of bug over the weekend that rendered me next to useless yesterday and the last thing I wanted to do was give any of the staff it so I did the decent thing and stayed at home, bored stupid but at least I was out of harms way!

Its still busy at work even though the kids are now back at school although we don't have many boats out at present, we have seen a fair of boats passing through Norbury, we have also seen a fair few stop on the wharf to take advantage of out excellent deals, I have been busy today dealing with brokerage queries, that side of things at the moment does seem to be keeping us very busy, I cant remember how many boats we have sold in the last two weeks but its a few and we have had more turn up to be sold, its amazing how long it takes to just sort out the infernal paperwork, anyway I have just had my dinner land in front of me, and given the choice of typing up the blog or tucking in to my home made fish pie, well I think you can guess the answer to that one.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Mooring project is completed

HOWEVER many marinas are built, many boaters prefer to be moored on the canal with open space either side of their vessel and views of the countryside - but they also demand modern standards and a year of hard work and a substantial investment has now transformed Norbury Wharf's moorings on the Shropshire Union canal.

The quarter of a mile of linear moorings has always been popular and vacancies can be rare - and that's likely to remain the case now it has been brought up to modern standards.

Last year the firms' Managing Director, Simon Jenkins decided it was time to bring them up to date.

He said: "The path beside the moorings had been eroded in places and it could become slippery for our moorers, and we found that more boaters wanted power and water close to their vessels, so we decided to bring the moorings up to date."

That meant a long and difficult task as the path by the boats is bordered by a farmer's field and all the new materials for decking and the pathway had to be wheel-barrowed the quarter of a mile. It has been reminiscent of the sort of work carried out by the navvies who originally built the canal, with little scope for mechanisation.

A year on from last Spring a one metre wide deck runs the length of the moorings with a stone path another metre wide alongside it.

New mooring rings, attached to four foot long steel pins that have been concreted in, now attach the boats and the first eight boats now are now served by water points and will have electricity supplied as well; in the past just four boats had electricity.

The steep bank which runs alongside the mooring will be fenced and landscaped with grass and wild flowers. It will also be netted in places to prevent the sort of erosion that had narrowed the pathway in recent years.

The final stage, this April, will see the building of an access ramp, hand rails, and a new steel security gate.

Simon Jenkins said: "We know offside linear moorings are popular with boaters, who don't like crowded marinas, and we now only have one space left, so if you want it be quick.

"We think linear moorings should be as modern and easy to use as any marina and that's why we've invested a lot of time and money in bringing ours into the 21st century."

For more news take a look at our e-magazine Norbury News at

Friday, 13 April 2012

Drought restrictions all year on all southern canals

We may be sitting pretty on the Shropshire Union Canal but anyone planning to go boating on the canals from Birmingham southwards is facing a frustrating season.

Continued dry weather has meant British Waterways has already published details of overnight lock closures at locations across the Midlands and South that it hopes will help make the most of available water resources.

As some parts of southern and central England experienced the driest year on record in 2011, BW has already spent an additional £700,000 investment on 24 schemes to improve water resources for the main boating season.

The restrictions, come into effect on the Grand Union and Oxford Canals at the end of March, and see boat movements controlled in some key locations with gates being locked at the end of each day to minimise wastage through vandalism or paddles being left open. Similar measures will be in place on the Kennet & Avon Canal as groundwater levels fall.

And although the times of opening are already down to just four hours a day in some places it may get worse as BW says the restrictions will be reviewed throughout the season and adjusted where appropriate.

Vince Moran, operations director said: "We don't want to restrict opening times, particularly so early in the season, but I'm sure most boaters would recognise that this is an unusual year. That's why we're investing a significant amount of money on a package of schemes which are focused solely on maintaining navigation on the vast majority of the network throughout the main boating season.

"However it would be foolish of us to make this investment if we weren't then careful with the water that it yields and that's why we're implementing these restrictions at selected locations in order to ensure we use water sensibly and responsibly to see us through the summer".

The restrictions have been discussed with boating organisations, canal societies and waterway businesses. As a result BW has produced special maps showing the restrictions and the varying potential drought risk across the network as a tool to help boaters to plan their journeys.

Vince continues; "Boating should be a pleasurable experience so we'll ensure that boaters have access to a range of clear, accurate and up-to-date information to help them plan an enjoyable journey. And, of course, only a small proportion of the network will be affected so if boaters don't need to be in the South East then what better opportunity to explore another hidden corner of the nationwide canal system?"

The navigational maps will be updated on a monthly basis and published with reservoir reports at

The Shroppie, of course, is a canal that never runs dry, as we reported in the last issue - so why not come and join us and get plenty of water as well as the cheapest diesel and some of the best scenery in the UK?

For more news take a look at our e-magazine Norbury News at

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


You can almost put money on the weather being 'pants' at Easter, well we were not disappointed in that respect, it was good on Friday and then it went down hill after that culminating in torrential rain yesterday that flooded the roads, filled the canal up and drenched the lads through to the bone, we turned several boats around yesterday and i did feel really sorry for all of the lads who were stuck out in the atrocious weather, now look at it, as I am sat here typing the blog the sun is shining and it has been a glorious day, a bit nippy but still the sun has shone from early on this morning.

It has been a quiet bank holiday, not many boats around or people for that matter but I don't blame anyone for not venturing out side if they haven't needed too, even though the sun has been out its still been a quiet day, its been good in some respects as i have now caught up with a back log of jobs, the lads have been busy, Matt painting, Simon rebuilding Phantoms engine, Bernard cleaning dirty fuel out of a boat, changing filters and engine servicing while Fred has been blacking, pumping boats out, dieseling boats up and weeding the wharf, nothing too exciting has happened this Easter or indeed today, so until tomorrow.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Another free holiday for some one

Here you have the chance for another free holiday courtesy of Norbury Wharf, well its not quite a holiday but it is a boating break, I have a very nice 50 foot boat near to Braunston which needs to come up to Norbury, it sleeps up to 4 people in one double and two singles, its ready to cruise, from Wednesday evening onwards, we are in no real rush once it has been collected so you can have a leisurely cruise, any takers? email me at


Saturday, 7 April 2012

It's been a good day here today. We have turned eight boats around and the holiday cottage. That's kept everyone busy and we even had to rope in extra help to give us a hand. It's really satisfying to look out of the door and not see any boats tied in the basin except for the boats for sale.

Mick has been working on Pippin, but went off to a breakdown on a private boat at Waverton near Chester earlier this afternoon. Picture phones are a wonderful invention, you know. The chap onboard the boat managed to send me a picture of the problem, so we could diagnose exactly what the fault was before Mick was dispatched!

Theres not much more to report for today.

Until tomorrow.



Friday, 6 April 2012

Gooooood Friday

What a busy day, I know that it is a bank holiday but we were not expecting it to be as busy as it has been, we have had 13 boats go out today and we have seen a massive amount of people in the shop and tea room and looking at boats, we have bee blessed with the weather as it hasn't rained, I know its a surprise considering its a bank holiday, I am sitting in the office as I type and looking out of the window it is the first time this year that the basin is nearly empty, its a lovely sight in some respects to see nearly all of the boats out and a worrying time as well, until they all return safely. As you can imagine all of the staff have been very busy today and our extra helpers too, thanks to everyone who has put a big effort to get all of the boats out, on time and with no problems, that's it until we do it all again tomorrow, another 12 out tomorrow!

That's it from me for today

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Get a taste of boating history at 'The Port'

BOATERS setting out from Norbury should give serious thought to travelling to the very Northern end of the Shropshire Union, at Ellesmere Port.

Once through Chester you are heading towards the Manchester Ship Canal and the southern bank of the Mersey Estuary and there sits the fascinating National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, a spectacular celebration of narrowboat culture.

If you hurry this month you will see it at its best as the Easter Boat Gathering 2012 will attract around fifty boats from across the canal network are expected at the four day event, which runs from 6 April.

FMC Minnow at Adderley returning from the Port in 2007.

Again this year, the traditional fun and games will be joined by a Sea Shanty festival and three days of musical entertainment (April 6-8) and evening concerts.

During the first three days of the gathering, shanty singers from across Europe will be performing their atmospheric songs among the museum's historic dock buildings and renowned boat collection.

Family fun is guaranteed with children's crafts and music workshops, plus costumed characters bringing Porters Row to life.

Shanty singers will be showing youngsters how to perform traditional songs and highlighting some of the more gruesome aspects of life at sea. Add with old fashioned games around the museum, and there is plenty for all the family.

Museum marketing manager Oliver Briscoe said: "We're excited by the plans for the Easter Boat Gathering this year with a real emphasis on music and family fun. It's a great chance to showcase the heritage and tradition of the canals to the general public in a great setting."

Other events across the festival include demonstrations of traditional crafts, lectures, book stalls, lock demonstrations, battle of the tugs, and a tour of the museum's Heritage Boatyard. The full programme is available on the museum website at .

However, whether you make it for Easter or not, the museum is well worth visiting as it sits where the wide and narrow canals and rivers meet the sea. Here you can see the vessels that plied the Ship Canal and the River Weaver as well as the narrowboats that carried cargoes inland.

It is a fascinating insight into the past and the lost opportunities of our waterways.

For more news take a look at our e-magazine Norbury News at

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Shock to the system!

You can imagine my surprise this morning when I reluctantly peeled back the curtains to see the ground covered in snow, albeit a very light covering, last week I saw temperatures well in their 30's and could hardly escape the heat and this morning I have had to put two jackets on and the heating just so my blood circulates! It has been blowing a 'hooley' all night which has caused the chairs and tables to be strewn all over the wharf this morning it was reported by one early boater that he had rescued most or them while waiting for us to open up this morning.

This weather has hindered the lads getting on with their jobs, Steve has carried on with the concreting immediately in front of the shop although he has complained that his hands were like ice, Simon couldn’t carry on with plating today so once he had finished fitting anodes and sorting out a worn rudder this morning he went on to Phantoms engine rebuild and that is now nicely underway and it might even be back in the boat by the weekend, Bernard has been docking boats with Fred and also preparing boats for this weekends turnarounds, I had a tot up today and with the day boats and we have a total of 36 boats going out over this coming weekend, its gonna be a busy one, probably the busiest we have ever been, we still have one more boat that we could let out, if that happens then everything that we can go out will be out.

That’s it from me for today, until tomorrow


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Where did that go?

Well I don't know where my holiday went, it only seemed like yesterday that I was driving to the airport and now I am back at work sat at my desk typing the blog up, I could go on and on about the weather but I gather that it has been pretty stunning while I have been away and now look at it, its raining, I picked the wrong week to have off, sorry for the lack of blog yesterday, it has been a really busy couple of days, its a sign that the kids are off, it always has a big impact on how busy we get.
Today was not as manic as yesterday and David informs me that Yesterday was no where near as busy as last week, maybe I did pick the right week to be off, David is now having a few days well earned rest and has gone off boating, you see we just cant get away from boats! The lads have all been busy today with there respective jobs, Steve has 95% finished the moorings, just a couple of small jobs to complete, he has been digging up just out side the shop, we are resurfacing the area directly in from of the chandlery door where the crane sets up to load boats in to the water, the old slabs having broken up over the years of heavy abuse caused by cranes and big vehicles, it will be a big improvement once done, i might even get some pictures tomorrow.

That's it from me for today.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

I’ll have some of Tony’s Bubble with that . . .

Suggestions for traditional recipes for our traditional tea-room have been flooding in and we have chosen a winner for our prize of a free trip on one of our 10-person day boats.

The ideas have ranged from the simple to the unusual and have come from the whole of the UK as well as Europe.

Tony Petchey, who lives in the Poitou-Charentes area of France obviously hungers for simple British pleasures and suggested, bread and dripping, stuffed heart, braised Ox cheek and even Yorkshire puddings for tea with jam on then amongst other things.

From much closer to home, Les White said: "Faggots is what you need, or gray peas and pigs trotters."

Wendy Hodkinson was a fan of sheep brains, tripe in milk and rabbit stew. She said: "My Mum said they used to eat sheep brains on toast and it made a very good meal!

"The tripe is just boiled in milk and rabbit stew is made from cut pieces of rabbit and the normal stew vegetables in a pot and slow cooked.

"Very nice. I had it at a Halloween Party years ago and went down a treat."

Brian Cessford is a raspberry buns man and says they were, "often made by my mum and had to be eaten on the same day and, as I'm one of three brothers, that was always easy."

From a farmhouse childhood Marie Brockley offered us a dish called Round Tata's (as in potatoes) She said: "Mum would do it us on cold nights served with baked beans, total comfort food which after a hard day at school was just what was needed.

"My parents were (and still are) farmers so it was a good filling meal which Mum could leave in the oven and required little overall effort, yummy!

In the end, and delicious, though many of the ideas were we opted for an idea from Tony Petchey, the bread and dripping fan and he wins the day out in the day boat.

Nothing is more traditional and English than the English breakfast, even if it has been taken over in recent years by the American invention of hash browns.

Tony favours a much more English version of the hash brown - good old-fashioned bubble and squeak. Whether cooked with sprouts or with cabbage that has been a favourite part of breakfasts up and down the country since transport cafes were invented.

In London and the South East it tends to be made with potatoes and cabbage but in many other parts of the country it has to be Brussels sprouts. I am a sprout man myself but it is a matter of taste.

The recipe is simple, two thirds the weight of potatoes to one third of sprouts/cabbage cooked and then mashed and mixed before forming the mixture into round cakes or simply putting it in hot fat in a frying pan.

It is important to cook until it is well browned and slightly crispy on the outside before serving it up alongside the bacon, sausage, black pudding and eggs.

It will be going on our breakfast menu as an option under the name Tony's Bubble and Squeak, so keep an eye out for it next time you visit the tea room.

If you want to see some of the recipes take a look at our e-magazine Norbury News at