Shop front in the summer

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

not disappointed but disappointed

Confused? well I am not disappointed in the weather forecast as they managed to get it right for a change however i am disappointed with the weather, grey and overcast today and we have had showers but at least it hasn't been torrential rain, the weather has dampened some peoples spirits today and we have been a bit quiet on the wharf and in the tea room and shop but the phone has been busy with bookings for day boats and hire boats!

We had two day boats out first thing, Joyce had made a mistake on the paperwork and for a moment it appeared that she had double booked the boats, Ange's face was a picture, soon sorted and the boats were soon on their way, I showed one out and Simon showed the other one out, Freddie and Mick docked a boat and Fred washed it off and prepared its counter bands (also known as tunnel bands, these I believe were so that boats that were following boats in tunnels or the dark could easily identify a boat traveling the in the same direction) for a fresh coat or red and white, Mick carried on with some work on a private boat that we have been doing a part refit on and then he had to go out to a bent skeg and rudder on one of our hire boats, Simon carried on with the welding of a bottom on the boat on the hard standing, lee has been in for a couple of days to catch up with some painting that has fallen behind schedule and Angela, Joyce and me have looked after the shop, office and tea room, well I don't get too involved in the tea room as a pinny doesn't suite me!!

Thats it from me for another day

Monday, 30 July 2012

glum reading

I knew it was too good to last, just looking at the weather forecast for the next week and if we are lucky we might have one day this week where the sun shines, last week was great and it pretty much felt like summer but that might just be it for this year, I haven't looked at the long term forecast as I reckon that it has the tendency to change like the wind, but at least the rain has gone today and as I write the blog the sun is shining, lets hope that the wind blows hard and blows away this poor weather.

Jake was slightly late as he had a small car accident this morning, we had three day boats out first thing of which Mick and Jake (when he came in) showed out, I prepared pippin as that also went out today, Jake showed that out too, He also had to attend a break down, well it was more of a 'break off' as one of the shared boats that we look after managed to snap of their 'rams head' off the rams head is the 'S' shaped metal tube that the tiller fits on to and steers the boat, when he had sorted that out he then started some engine services on private boats that are in at the moment, Steve has been looking after the wharf as well as repairing punctured tyres on the works vehicles, blacking a boat that Simon has been plating, Mick has been working on a couple of private jobs and The girls have been looking after the shop and tea room.

That's it from me for toady

Sunday, 29 July 2012

female blog again...........sorry

hi, yes i'm afraid you have to up up with me again tonight, david has gone to audlem to bring his friends boats back through norbury tomorrow and so i said i'd do the blog tonight.
it was quite misty here this morning when i woke up and thought to myself.......mmmm...mist = sun, i was right, it has been an absolutely glorious day here today, a bit cloudy on occasion but for the most part....fantastic.
we had 3 day boats out first thing this morning and all returned without issues and all had a fab day.
we undocked mrs d this morning and simons friends boat has gone onto the dock but don't ask me what it's called cos i don't know, all it said on the calendar was "ants boat" and that is not it's name, simon we need to be a bit more specific please...ha ha.
charlotte did a valet on one of the ex ownerships boats when it returned to us today and other than that kim, charlotte and lorraine have been very busy in the tea room, we have sold loads of ice cream today and cake like it has been going out of fashion, i have placed a mega cake order from our supplier irene today and i don't know how she does it (she must work through the night) but i bet they will all be here tomorrow and still warm from the oven.
mick was called out to honeystreet this afternoon, they had broken the tilller off the boat....oops....he has to bring it back here to repair and then take it back to them when it's done, welder simon is not here tomorrow so welder jenkins might have to do it.
we have seen a fair amount of boats on the wharf today for diesel and pump outs which has kept mick and david busy and i have been doing angela things, paperwork, bookings and washing, not too much washing this weekend but all done, washed, folded and put away......i hate a messy laundry so i have also had a major tidy up aswell.
we have been a member of staff down today, denise, she has gone on a well earned 2 week break to llangollen, i had a text from her this morning and this is what it said "i wish i was a glow worm cos they are never glum, how can you be grumpy when the sun shines up your bum", sorry to share that with you all but i went to the pet shop to buy my dyl a treat and saw these signs i couldn't resist buying this particular one as it made me laugh, she has not stopped laughing since and obviously felt the need to text it to me as she is now on her hols, thanks for that denise, now everyone knows we are mad here at norbury, we will also be stocking these hilarious signs at norbury as simon liked it aswell and asked me to start stocking them, so if you fancy a laugh you know where we are, well that's it from me for tonight.......byyyeee, ange.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Today has been mostly sunny, although a bit cooler. It has now clouded over a bit and the wind has got up. I'm hoping that the weather holds as I'm off to a bbq tonight.

It's been a quiet day today, it really hasn't felt like a Saturday as we have only turned one boat around, saying that though, we did have three dayboats out this morning.

Trevor has been busy songwriting the boat that Matt is finishing off painting whilst Mick has been fitting the new windows and putting all of the ancillaries back on. Engineer Simon has returned from his holiday today and he has been working on a private boat in the dry dock as well as turning Ember round and showing her out.

I've proof read the August issue of Norbury News today, which is our monthly newsletter. All of the previous issues can be found on our website here. I'll be publishing it on the 1st of August, so keep your eyes peeled.

Thats it from me today and have a good evening.



Friday, 27 July 2012

Quiet day

Considering that we are now a week in to the schools summer holiday period it has been uncannily quiet, Friday is usually a very busy day, we have only had one day boat go out today but we have had four hire boats go out and one shared boat to get ready, Jake has engineered the four boats while Fred has completed their services, Jake then showed all four out while Fred went and blacked a boat on the dock, the weather has been lovely today and the sun has shone all day but it was not as hot and humid as it has been over the last few days, the sun has bought out a few folks to enjoy sitting out side of the tea room sipping tea and eating our home made cakes.

David is back in on Saturday after catching up on some owed days off, i am sure he will keep you entertained in my absence, he will no doubt tell you about his travels and the festival of transport at Audlem this weekend.

Short blog from me for today as I am off down to Southampton tonight, so until Monday

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Stolen! STOLEN!!!!

I don't think so do you? while sat here waiting for the last of the flock to return so to speak (the day boats) Jodie said maybe its been stolen, well I laffed but I don't think she saw the funny side, after she had gone I did start to wonder at where it was and I thought that maybe she was right, at that point it came through the bridge hole and back on to the wharf, I sighed a sigh of relief as I didnt fancy the evening of looking for the damn thing up and down the canal, don't forget folks we now have three day boats based here and from the amazing price of £75.00 you could be enjoying a relaxing day out on the 'cut'

Its been a muggy day today, sun has been out but the air has been still making it quite a muggy one, I am not moaning, as far as I am concerned it can stay like this now until Christmas! Its hasn't been overly busy on the wharf but the girls in the tea room have been kept busy, not to much to report, Fred has blacked a boat, Steve has been varnishing a part refit that is nearing the end, Matt has been putting the final touches to the paint job in the dock, Jake has been on several private jobs and the fleet that is in at the moment and I have been doing quotes, checking jobs, getting a boat ready for a good customer of ours who's family are stopping on the boat for the night, Angela has been off today but she has still popped in now and again to say hello and do a few bits, I must say a big thanks to Ange for writing the blog up, its not that I cant be bothered its just that I have been busy at the end of each day, and I have no Internet at home at the moment,

That's it from me for today

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

slow start to the day

hi, me again.....we had a slow start this morning, the day started a bit over cast, but we did have 3 day boats out first thing who all had a good day and returned without issues, one of them was a surprise for a 60th birthday, never been on a boat before and thoroughly enjoyed it.
we had quite a few boats on the wharf today for pump out, gas and diesel.
we have also undocked and docked boats today, i'm not going to lie but i couldn't tell you the boats names, oh no just remembered, mrs d on the dock for blacking!!!!!!!!!! sorry mrs d.
jodie and lorraine have manned the tea room today and have been busy, we had a cake delivery today, all freshly cooked, 24 scones included in the delivery and 10 minutes later they were gone, i got straight on to irene who will be cooking them for us tonight and will be there 1st thing in the morning.......thanks irene, you're a star.
i have been busy putting stock away, ordering stock and answering the constantly ringing phone, day boat bookings and holiday bookings and also hirers ringing to find out how far they can get in the designated time.
simon has been doing simon things, he had some friends from southampton arrive today who want some work doing on their narrowboat, they look after his boat down in southampton so now he is now looking after their boat at norbury.
jake has been doing internal checks on the boats that are going out on saturday and fred has been his usual self.........moaning and grumpy, we love ya really fred.
well that's it from me for today........till next time, byyyeeee.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

multi tasking again.........well there's a thing

yoo hoo everyone, i've been allowed to write the blog again!!!!
what a busy day we have had here at 10 o'clock this morning i must have administered 1000 litres of diesel into boats that appeared on the wharf, i don't know where fred was hiding, but hay ho we all muck in together, not forgetting i do not do pump outs :)
we had 25 cyclists turn up about 11 o'clock and i had asked denise to clean a boat down the arm, we soon fetched her back and she never left the tea room after that, denise, joyce and i have been in there for most of the day and simon has been asking where i have been hiding.....mmmmm
we have sold 2 boats today.....oops, simon has sold 2 boats today..sorry simon, we have sold moonshine and a momentary lapse of reason, deposits have been taken and moonshine is awaiting a survey.
the phones have not stopped ringing today, people have obviously been watching the weather as day boat bookings have gone through the roof and people are booking and paying on line, the hire boats have also started to pick up too.
the reason for the title of this blog is because as i am writing it i am also making curtains for my boat but when simon said "i haven't written the blog tonight", i said "i will write it if you like" and then my friend carolyn turned up with new needles for my sewing machine, of which i broke the last one last night and i also ran out of heading tape.........she's a life saver, thanks carolyn..........i am now going to get on with my sewing, so until next time..........byyyeeee.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sods Law!

Just Look at the wonderful weather! As you know I have been away on holiday for the last couple of weeks and have endured some of the worst weather in the world and the worst sea conditions, I have been off boating on the sea and have been tossed around all over the place, so you can see that when I was on the last day of my holiday I was not to impressed to wake up on Sunday morning to see clear blue skies and no wind, flat seas and it wasn't raining! shouldn't moan as we really do need this good weather.

Its been a case of catch up today as you can imagine, everything seems to have gone 'swimmingly' so to speak although it looks like Norbury has had its fair share of poor weather too over the last couple of weeks so I am glad to see the bright sun shine all day today, as always when the sun shines the folk come out to enjoy the place and we have been quite busy, the girls have kept everyone happy and Denise has even managed to get some much needed pruning done in the garden, that was getting a bit wild looking!

Not much of interest to report about today apart from the lovely weather, so until tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's been a scorcher today and I am assured that it is going to carry on for the next week. I've timed that right for having a few days off, haven't I?

Mick went out to a breakdown at Compton earlier and he said the van was showing the temperature at 29°C, but I think it may have got even hotter since then. I must admit, that I do like the heat and to see the sun out seems to cheer everyone up.

We've had three day boats out again, the parties have certainly had a good day for it. Bernard and Aaron have undocked the private boat that we had on the dock and have docked another which is owned by a lovely lady who travels the canal system on her own during the summer months. We've had to do a little bit of welding, so Bernard got that sorted this afternoon.

Kim, Lorraine and Jodie have been run off their feet in the tearoom, ably assisted by Denise and Joyce when required. Ange has been stocking the shop up, manning the phones and keeping on top of the day-to-day paperwork.



Saturday, 21 July 2012

I took Annie out for a walk at seven this morning. The fog was incredibly thick, I could hardly see my hand in front of my face and I couldn't see a thing of Annie. It's good that she doesn't go far away from me! I could hear the russle of grass as she was running through the field.

It's been a busy day here at Norbury today. First job was to get the three dayboats away and then plough on with the other normal daily chores. Kim and Joyce have been busy in the tearoom apart from their breaks when Lorraine and Denise took command. Ange has looked after the customers that returned from their holidays on our hire boats this morning and the five parties who have departed this afternoon.

Jake has done the internal checks on the boats and has shown the boats out this afternoon, whilst Fred has turned the boats round, blacked the boats on the dock and Bernard has done the engine checks.

It's been alot warmer today, Fred has even taken off his jumper and is now working away in his t-shirt - that's the first time for a few months... (not the working bit! haha).

There was a production put together by the British Transport Commission (predecessors to British Waterways who have recently been taken over by the Canal and River Trust) called the Gentle Highway. There was one boat today, that really didn't understand why the canal system is nicknamed "The Gently Highway". Following a pumpout he needed to turn round, so put the gearbox in reverse and revved the engine until it was black smoking. After the boat began moving backwards, he moved the control into forwards and did the same. The only problem was the gear linkage had fallen apart and he careered into one of our hire boats and a tremendous speed. Denise even came out of the laundry to see what the bang was. I also heard the bang and went out of the office to help. Once we put the linkage back together he managed to turn round. If only he had used a few less revvs then he wouldn't of had the collision.

I'm now starting to look forward to having a few days off. Simon is back on Monday so I'm spending the day in the office with him and then I'm away for four days. We are going to be going to Audlem from Tamworth for the Transport Festival which is held in the field behind the Shroppie Fly on an annual basis. Further information can be found here. As usual we are heading across Birmingham to enjoy some city life and to get in some shopping before we head off down the rural Shroppie.

That's it from me today.

Best regards,

David Ray

Friday, 20 July 2012

The weather has certainly improved today as it hasn't rained all day! Should I have said that? The weather forecasters are assuring us that it is going to be a fine weekend and the temperature is set to soar! I'll believe it when I see it, but atleast the rain is holding off.

Fred has been busy with turnrounds today and has also blacked the boat that we have got on the dry dock. Jake and Bernard have been on engine checks and have had a number of services to complete. We service the shared and hire boats approximately every five to six weeks, ensuring that they have fresh oil and changed filters and get a good check over. Now that we are to the middle of the season they have a bit of an in depth service which does take a bit longer.

Mick has been working away on a private boat and the girls have been busy looking after the shop and tearoom.



Wednesday, 18 July 2012

I just don't know where the time is going to. The days seem to be flying by at the moment! The weather has been a bit better today. I had to go out and do some shopping to stock the shop up and it was like a proper summer's day as I was driving down with all the windows open on the van to let some air into the cab. By the time I returned back to the yard and went to have a look at the customers boat on the moorings, the heavens opened and I was instantly soaked from head to toe! It has dried up again this afternoon and as I type the sun is out, but I'm not certain that it will stay that way all evening.

I just can't believe the weather this year, I've never known anything like it. It really does slow the job down. I was talking to a builder this afternoon who came in for some diesel. This weather has really put him behind with the work that he had scheduled in.

Fred and Jake undocked the boat that has been on the dock since Sunday and docked another which will be blacked and have some other bits and bobs done over the next few days. Jake has also serviced a private boat whilst Simon has been doing some welding and finishing off bits on a regular customers boat. Lorraine and Ange have manned the shop and tearoom.

Until tomorrow.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Real England is just beyond the towpath - PART 4

Few places deliver history the way Chester does, but then few places have played such a central role in our country’s development - and retained the evidence.

By narrowboat you approach through the villages and fields of the Cheshire Plain, and history is already screaming at you as you pass the massive remains of Beeston Castle sitting on it’s rock, with Peckforton Castle sitting just behind. After some pleasant, if greatly expanded, commuter villages you begin down the locks that drop you into Chester and once linked with the River Dee.

You can moor almost in the town centre, just a hundred yards or so from the main shopping street or you can pass under the massive town walls - still a complete route around the centre of the city - and down the three-lock staircase into the basin where there are more moorings.

Chester was founded as Roman fort called Deva Victrix in the year 79 and its four main roads, these days, Eastgate, Northgate, Watergate and Bridge, were laid out almost 2,000 years ago.

The Saxons fortified the town against the Danes and gave Chester its name and it was one of the last towns in England to fall during the Norman Conquest.

You will see lots of black and white buildings and, although Chester has a number of medieval buildings, some of the black-and-white buildings are actually Victorian restorations.

It is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain, and apart from a 100-metre section, the listed Grade I walls are almost complete.

The canal arrived with the Industrial Revolution which also brought railways, and new roads to the city, as well as substantial expansion and development .

Don't miss the two-mile footpath that runs along the top of the walls, crossing roads by bridges. On Eastgate is Eastgate Clock which is said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.

The Rows are claimed to be unique in Britain. They are buildings with shops on both the lowest two storeys. The shops or homes on the ground floor are often lower than the street and are entered by steps, which sometimes lead to a crypt-like vault. Those on the first floor are entered behind a continuous walkway, often with a sloping shelf between the walkway and the railings overlooking the street.

Roman remains can still be found in the city, particularly in the basements of some of the buildings and in the lower parts of the northern section of the city walls. The most important is the amphitheatre just outside the walls, near the Roman Gardens which run parallel to the city walls from Newgate to the River Dee.

The area between the river and the city walls here is known as the Roodee, and contains Chester Racecourse which holds a series of horse races and other events.

A series of festivals is organised in the city, including mystery plays, a summer music festival and a literature festival. The parade of giants has become an annual event and if you can coincide your visit with a gathering of Roman re-enactors from across Europe you will see spectacular parades of Roman legions through the city streets.

Add to that some of the best shopping to be had in the North West - in real shops in proper streets - as well as first class restaurants, theatre and some fascinating museums and you have a city break to remember.

Of course, as you arrive by water and moor for free you won’t have the cost of a hotel to add to the bill for a very special urban experience.

And finally we take a look at Manchester.

Travel by canal to Manchester from Norbury and you are accompanied by history all the way. Turn right at Barbridge, left in Middlewich, through three tunnels and you are on the Bridgewater canal.

This is the first ever purpose-built canal in this country, created 250 years ago with the sole purpose of getting to the great industrial city Manchester was then becoming.

It will feed you through pretty Lymm into the urban sprawl of Trafford and, if you turn right at Waters' Meet you will arrive in Castlefield.

Once this was the terminus of the Bridgewater canal, a scene of busy wharves and warehouses; today it has been gentrified with classy pubs and restaurants in many of the old buildings as well as apartments.

This is no peaceful haven, despite the trees, as the trams rattle overhead and Manchester is a party town, so expect late night noise and fun. In fact, why not become part of it? Manchester is a buzzing, busy, trendy metropolis and you can enjoy it for a few days before departing the noise for pastures greener as you head back south to Norbury.

Manchester proper is just one of six boroughs that make up one of the United Kingdom's largest urban areas - Greater Manchester - which has a population of 2.2 million.

Much of early Manchester was obliterated when it began to expand 'at an astonishing rate’ around the turn of the 19th century.

The reason was a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, aided by the creation of the canal upon which you arrived.

These days the 'dark, satanic mills' are mostly apartment blocks and the city is notable for its culture, music scene, scientific and engineering output, media links and sporting connections. You pass the Manchester United ground on the way in to Castlefield and the City ground is close to the Ashton canal.

Here was built the world's first railway station - now the Museum of Science and Industry, and it is the place where scientists first split the atom and developed the first computer.

Manchester has a notable place in the history of left-wing politics and it is well worth visiting the People's History Museum in Spinningfields area.

Manchester has an appetite for life that won't be squashed and bands that have emerged from the Manchester music scene include The Smiths, the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division. The city was the driving force behind indie bands of the 1980s.

For the more highbrow, Manchester has two symphony orchestras, the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic. It also has a thriving theatre, opera and dance scene, and the Manchester Opera House, features large-scale touring shows with more on offer at the Palace Theatre and the Royal Exchange.

A tram ride to Salford Quays will take you to the Imperial War Museum North, as well as the Lowry theatre and, most recently Media City, the northern home of the BBC and now Granada.

The Lowry is also home to many of the works of L. S. Lowry, known for his "matchstick" paintings of industrial Manchester and Salford.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

It's all in a day at Norbury Junction

It's not very often that we get a mooring become available in the arm here at Norbury. But we do now have a 47ft mooring free (although we could just squeeze in 50ft!) in this prime location serviced by both water and electricity. If you would like anymore information please do not hesitate to drop me an email or give me a call on 01785 284292.

It's been a busy day today. The sun has been out for the majority of the day, although it has clouded over slightly now.

We had four day boats go out this morning. Yes four! We used Phantasy as well so we could accommodate all the party's. Spyhnx has returned from a short break and there have been plenty of boats pulling in on the Wharf for pumpouts, diesel and other services.

Bernard and Aaron docked a private boat for a survey this morning and have docked another this afternoon which Bernard has pressure washed.

Steve was doing some woodwork on a private boat this morning, and Matt has been busy painting.

Denise has been cleaning boats and helping Kim and Charlotte in the tea room whilst Joyce and Ange have been looking after the shop.

Off to the Shroppie Fly at Audlem tonight to have dinner and to have a catch up with Sue.

Until tomorrow, best regards.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Well firstly I must apologise for not writing the blog on Thursday, but it ended up being a bit of disaster of an afternoon. Nothing too serious, but everything seemed to go pear shaped. The biggest problem off all was that the Internet went down meaning for one that we could access the hire boat booking system or use the card machines. You just don't realise how much you use the internet, until you are without it. However did we cope before we had the internet? Anyway, I managed to get it sorted yesterday morning and got everything up and running.

It's been a nice day here until about half an hour ago when it decided to absolutely lash it down. I see from some of the stoppage notices that have come through by email today that the Severn is back in flood. From the rivers that I see they are all brimming and the slightest drop of rain is just going to send them back over the edge.

The lads have been turning the boats round today, whilst the girls have been cleaning. It's Lorraine's birthday today, so we have been really kind and let her have the day off. She's gone to a wedding on the Scottish borders, so lets hope that it is raining there. Happy birthday Lorraine - I'm sure we will celebrate in style when you are back at work next week...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Real England is just beyond the towpath - PART 3

Just 40 minutes north of Norbury is High Offley. Nothing much interesting about the village which is quite a way from the towpath – but right alongside it is The Anchor, possibly one of the most famous pubs on the canal. Owned by the same family for many, many years it is an old fashioned place with all the charm of its era.

The present landlady doesn’t serve food and, until very recently, brought up the Wadworths 6X in a jug from a barrel in the cellar. There is now the modern innovation of a beer pump, but it is still pulled into a jug and then served into the pint pots.

It’s a slightly eccentric pub that opens most evenings but not every lunch time and once you get inside it is more like a living room in a private house. There is no telly, no recorded music, but there is a regular Friday night get together and sing-along if you are passing.

Beyond Tyrley Locks Market Drayton is a small market town and here you are actually in Shropshire – just like the canal says.

It is a bit of a trek, around a 15 minute walk, into the town centre and certainly well worth it on Market Day. Set in a highly agricultural area it provides work producing pork pies and other meat products for the Pork Farms brand and Müller Dairies have a factory making yogurts.

I don’t know if someone introduced the locals to fire insurance but this is yet another Shropshire Union Canal town that suffered a great fire. In Drayton the blaze destroyed almost 70 per cent of the town in the 17th century. It was started at a bakery, and quickly spread through the timber buildings. The Butter Cross in the centre of the town still has a bell at the top for people to ring if there was ever a repeat.

Between Market Drayton and Audlem are the Adderley and Audlem lock flights, 20 in all that drop you down to the Cheshire Plain.

It is a truly pretty village with a lovely church at its centre and has won all sorts of awards. Three good pubs, a fish and chip shop, village butcher, greengrocer, chemist and a Co-op supermarket make it an ideal place to top up the stores but it is also worth exploring as this is another village with a thriving local community.

After winning the county's 'Building Community Life' award, Audlem went on to win England's 'Building Community Life' award.

Audlem has clubs for tennis, badminton, football, cricket, golf, pigeon racing (or pigeon-fancying), caravanning and bowls.

Mostly it is a really friendly place with a recreation ground and children’s play area. The highlight for many boaters is the canalside pubs, especially the Shroppie Fly, and Audlem Mill which has a fascinating collection of canalia as well as arts and crafts. The moorings are good and this is a place well worth a day or two of your time.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A horse, a boat and you

Sitting behind the desk having a cuppa this morning a familiar face walked through the door. Trevor now sells Waterways publications to suppliers like ourselves around the canal system, but I knew him long before he was into travelling the country selling his wares. He has had companies transporting and selling coal, hiring out dayboats, operating and trip boat and a canal contract company. It's always a pleasure to have a chat. He likes coming to Norbury as there is always something to have a look at. Today it was our newly acquired tug, which he took great interest in and assures me is fitted with the wrong size propeller - we will see if he is right when we get it in the canal!

Anyway, one of the reasons for his visit was to drop off a number of copies of a book that I had ordered. This delightful paperback was written by Alice Lapworth, another person that I have known for many years. Here's a bit about her book "A horse, a boat and you" which is dedicated to her Mum and Dad - George and Anne Wain.

Alice Lapworth is one of those who remain of a breed of people who are rapidly vanishing from among us - a group to whom this country owes a debt greater than many realise. She was born in 1944, to a family of boat people, in the back cabin of a horse boat in Tunstall. Alice grew up on the canals; she married a boatman and bore her own daughter on the boats. With the end of carrying some forty years ago, no only her job but her entire way of life is gone forever. This is her story told in her own words.

If anyone would like a copy, we have now got them in stock.

The sun has been out for the majority of the day here, although we have had a couple of down pours which has allowed Simon to get on with the plating work that he is in the middle of. Jake has been doing some jobs on the hire boats that are in whilst Fred has been on Fred duties. Ange and Lorraine have been looking after the shop and tearoom.

Lets hope it's sunny tomorrow :-)



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

It was a bit of a manic day yesterday, hence the reason I didn't have time to write a blog. Unfortunately both Bernard and Jake were off, which only left Mick and myself to keep on top of things on the yard. Denise, Kim and Jodie were kept busy in the shop, tearoom and cleaning boats.

It was very quiet in the morning, but seemed to go very busy in the afternoon with boats requiring services on the Wharf. Mick was working on a private boat until gone 6pm. I showed Pippin out to a lovely Australian couple who hadn't been out on a narrow boat before, so I wasn't back into the office to "close up shop" until gone 6.15pm! It transpired that they are actually relatives to a friend of both Simon's and mine, who I discovered has been unwell recently - but I'm assured that he is on the mend. Get well soon Bob!

We had an incredible amount of rain in the night again which has resulted in flooding all over England. There are big puddles at Norbury, where I have never seen puddles before! It's got to stop soon. It's rained for most of the day here today, which has made Fred unhappy, although he does look funny in his new fluorescent yellow all-in-one wet weather suit.

Matt has been busy prepping the boat that we have got in for painting. He is nearly there with it now - it has tried his patience at times I think! He is also repainting the roof of a boat that we have got in the dry dock, whilst Mick is doing some other jobs on the same boat. Fred and I have also put Mointeach into the dock - that's the boat the is in the process of having a new engine fitted. We've given up trying to repaint the engine bay outside, so I thought that we would take advantage of the cover of the dock. Fred has been kept occupied with boats pulling in on the Wharf and other little jobs that he can get completed. Joyce and Ange have been looking after the shop and tearoom.

Anyway, that's about it for today.

Until tomorrow.



Sunday, 8 July 2012

Real England is just beyond the towpath - PART 2

Following on from Part 1, today we travel further south on the Shroppie to explore the villages of Wheaton Aston and Brewood.

Wheaton Aston is the next stop from Gnosall going south, where you meet the last lock on the Shroppie, apart from the stop lock where it meets the Staffs and Worcs. There is a pub by the canal but it is worth a stroll into the village where you can find a couple of good convenience stores, more pubs, a restaurant and a lovely church on the village green.

Saint Mary's church, Wheaton Aston.

On your way back stop off at the farm on your right hand side to buy some free range eggs laid by the chickens you will see scraping away in the field opposite the water point.

There are buses into Stafford and Penkridge and mooring there on a Saturday or a Wednesday allows a bus journey to the market at Penkridge.

Wheaton Aston, rather like Nantwich at the Northern end of the canal and, of course, London had its own Great Fire in 1777, which burned down over half of the village. Up to the 18th Century, Wheaton Aston was regarded as something of a spa due to the existence of a mineral spring in one of the gardens.

Finally the village is the most northerly point in the UK where the Snake's Head Fritillary can be found growing in the wild. Locally the flower is known by the name 'Folfallarum'. On the first Sunday in May the villagers used to go out and pick the flowers, which become an unofficial emblem, used on things like the local school uniforms.

Wheaton Aston has a music festival, the Wheaton Aston Festival. This has been run for 9 years by locals Hilary Holton and Julian Badcock. Now in its 10th year the festival will continue under the reign of Sian Morgan. The same mix of artist will be available, including favourites like 3 Daft Monkeys and Keith Donnelly.

We now travel through Wheaton Aston lock and further south on the Shroppie to visit Brewood, pronounced Brood which is the last of our favourite villages travelling south. Beyond this is Wolverhampton, although you would never guess how close it is from the village itself.

Brewood looks and feels like a classic English village as you walk up from the canal moorings in a wooded cutting.

Ancient timber-framed houses lead you into a village square where local pubs and shops offer everything you would have expected before the supermarkets took over our lives. There are two convenience stores but there is also a proper greengrocer and an excellent butcher who makes his own faggots and will get you almost any cut of meat you can remember.

Looking south along the visitor moorings at Brewood.

Although this is a commuter village it is very active with an active music tradition that leads to music festivals every couple of years. According to its Wikipedia entry the village ‘is something of a mecca for seventies music: Roy Wood of Wizzard educated his daughter Holly Wood at a nearby school and Jim Lea of Slade lives on the outskirts and sent his daughter to St Dominic's High School for Girls.’

Saturday, 7 July 2012

busy day today

hi again, we have been quite busy here at norbury today.
we had 3 day boats go out this morning, all ordered the breakfast baps that we offer to them for £1.99 per head so the girls were busy cooking them this morning and the smell of bacon bought everyone else out for breakfast too. one party didn't turn up til 10 o'clock so they only had time to go down to high onn, turn round and then they made their way back to gnosall which is where they spent a glorious afternoon in the sun that we have enjoyed for most of the day here, then it started raining about 3 pm, and it has been on and off ever since.
we had 7 boats return to us this morning 5 of which have turned round and gone on their holidays again, all returned without issues and happy holiday makers turned up this afternoon with wellies, sandles, shorts, trousers and coats as they just don't what is going to happen with the weather, but still intend to have a good time, i hope it stays dry for them all.
i gave fred a list of boats as long as his arm that have got to be dieseled, pumped out and gassed....i was on the naughty step again, however i have managed to find him a little helper called william so i wasn't on the step for long, they got along like a house on fire so fred will be allowing him to come back again next week.
denise and lorraine have been out cleaning the boats today and when they had finished they cracked on with all the washing that was waiting in the laundry, kim manned the tea room and joyce has been helping me with paperwork and meeting and greeting the hirers, i think she sold a map to most of them aswell, well done joyce.
david has been busy sorting out t.v reception on the boats and generally keeping a watchful eye on the lads in the yard who have been engineering and doing cabin checks. we also had becks in today showrounds, thanks becks for all your help.
well that's it from me today, until next time, byee.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A sunday on tour

I've been threatening for some years to visit Chasewater reservoir. So, last Sunday I went on a fact finding tour of inspection.

Upon arriving a Chasewater I was immediately drawn by the railway. After having a look around and then sampling a cup of tea and cake from their excellent tea room located in the main station building I was amazed to see a steam loco pulling the carriages into the station. I don't know why but I just expected it to be a diesel loco except on holiday weekends. That was it for me. Straight into the ticket office to purchase a return ticket to have a ride on the line. Although it's a short ride lasting about thirty minutes, it is interesting and gives you a good view of the reservoir and surrounding area.

After arriving back at the station that we joined at, it was time to find the head of navigation of the Anglesey branch. There is a basin here and a control valve at the reservoir feeds the Wolverhampton level from this point. Next it was off to Ogley Junction and then to Longwood Junction. I hadn't been to Longwood since middle 90s and it had hardly changed from what I remembered. There's simply nothing better than getting a whiff of steam and coal smoke as the train rattles along it's track.

We were then off to view the Tame Valley canal from a high bridge in Hamstead and find the locks at Perry Barr and then head back to Tamworth following the route of the Birmingham and Fazeley canal through Aston, Minworth, Curdworth, Drayton Bassett and Fazeley.

I must say that all of the locks on the little used sections of the BCN that I visited were in excellent condition. There was no sign of any vandalism. It's such a shame that these canals don't get used to a greater extent as they are simply a hidden treasure. Don't get put off by the rumours!

I can't really say much about the day here at Norbury today, apart from it has been very WET and I believe it is going to last for a few more days!

Until tomorrow.



Thursday, 5 July 2012

I just can't resist it

I heard bop bop bop bop... this morning whilst I was getting my head around the long email that Simon had left me and I just had to have a look. I just can't resist sticking my head around the door when I hear an old engine. To my amazement it was Mary with her motor boat Swan, followed closely by David Lowe with Swallow.

Both of these boats were built by Yarwoods at Northwich in the 1930s and were originally powered by unique 11hp single cylinder hot bulb Gardners with reversing gearboxes. Amazingly enough, Swan is still fitted with her original engine, which Mary keeps in fantastic condition. The boat was lovingly restored a few years ago by the combined efforts of Ian Kemp, Malcolm Webster and ofcourse Mary herself. Here's a couple of pictures of her.

I first met Mary about twenty three years ago when she lived aboard in Battlebridge Basin near Kings Cross in London. Norburys a great location to catch up with old friends as they pass through. After they both filled up with diesel this morning, I bid them fair well as they headed off to the south.

It's been a busy day here at Norbury today, complimented by some better weather and amazingly enough the sun has been out all afternoon.

I must fly... I'm off to Trent lock to a friends birthday party.

Until tomorrow.



Wednesday, 4 July 2012

wound down

hi, i think simon has wound down, he hasn't written the blog.............naughty step simon, have a nice holiday and we will see you in 2 1/2 weeks.
we haven't been too busy in the shop and tea room but it has been enough to keep lorraine, simon and myself occupied. fred has been kept occupied on the wharf with diesel and pump outs, i don't think i've heard him moaning today either......must have got out of the right side of the bed for a change although he did ask my advice about something and then said if it's wrong you'll be in trouble ange, is that o.k.....mmmmmmmmmmm
lorraine has ticked over nicely on her own in the tea room and i have been catching up with the washing from the boats and the odd service wash. we have also done a couple of holiday bookings and booked 2 day boats for tomorrow, i hope the weather is kind to them.
engineer simon and jake have been tidying out the engine stores at long last, i went in there last week to get some elsan blue, some kind soul had stacked it all in the corner of the stores and then piled a load of rubbish right in front of it........thanks, so i had a i do, and now it's been shifted.......thanks lads. the weather here today has been very mixed, one minute raining, next minute the sun out and boiling hot, you just don't know what to wear. denise was busy in the garden yesterday, the rockery was getting a little overgrown, with all the rain we have been having she hasn't been able to get out there and then of course when the sun does come out everything starts growing, but she did a great job and it looks much tidier.
well as you know simon is off for 2 1/2 weeks (yay) oops, sorry simon we will miss you honestly, but it's all i've heard alllllllllll day, holiday holiday holiday time, i'll be thinking i've gone deaf when i get back to work on friday. we have also sold another boat today............sheba.
well that's it from me til next time........byeee, ange.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

winding down

Its official, I am winding down now for my holiday, its funny, when people used to say that to me I could not understand what they meant, I understand quite well now, today is my 16th day at work without a break, I am off on Thursday so only one and a bit days to go, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and its getting brighter!

Its been a bit busier today in general, not many boats around though, we have had some customers come to look at their new boat today, we sold it to them about two months ago and it has been through the 'Norbury mill' so to speak, we have given the old girl a bit of a spruce up, she has been painted, part refitted, new covers front and rear, new carpets, upholstery and bedding and now looks like a new boat, they are absolutely chuffed with the overall work and they cant wait to be out enjoying it soon, here are a couple of pictures. Cheers Simon

Monday, 2 July 2012

I'm back

After a well earned break of nearly two weeks away I am back here at the fun factory and raring to go, although only for a short while. One day in the office and I've got another two off - now that's good planning! It makes a pleasant change as for the first six years after I started working at Norbury I was working six to seven days a week...

Who on earth is charge of the stoppage notices on Waterscape? I had this one come through this afternoon.

"SHEARMILL LOCK - River Stort. Monday 2nd July 2012 until further notice. Due to a serious hydraulic oil leak Shearmill Lock is closed until further notice while emergancy repairs are underway."

Amazingly enough there is no such place... So, the only lock that I can imagine they are on about is Sheering Mill Lock just downstream of Sawbridgeworth which has hydraulically operated bottom gates and paddles as when the bridge immediately below the lock was widened it actually over hangs the bottom gates thus meaning that it is totally impossible to fit balance beams to the gates, hence the need for fitting hydraulics. Oh... and I forgot to mention that they can't spell emergency - it really doesn't give you much confidence does it?

I know the River Stort very well as my parent's kept our boats on it during the early days of my boating career. In the Spring we used to head north to explore pastures new, before heading closer to home and to the safe haven of the Stort for the winter. Although saying that it could be quiet entertaining at times if there was a drop of water running on it.

I've got some fond memories of the Stort and we didn't half have some good music sessions in those days. Mike; a good friend of my parent's, is a fantastic guitarist (in actual fact he can play anything you let him get his hands on) and he can get a session going wherever he starts playing. We could be heard singing our hearts out to songs like "The Wild Rover" and "Black Velvet" band well into the early hours of the morning until a guitar string would snap due to the damp night air! Nowadays I have to be encouraged to have a sing song - maybe it's about time to get some impromptu music sessions going (now let me think...).

Anyway, it's been a damp old day here at Norbury today. I sent Simon home early as he was getting under our feet. Bernard has blacked the boat on the dock whilst Jake has been doing some jobs on a private boat, as has Mick. Matt has started to prep the boat in the painting dock whilst the girls have been getting on top of their jobs. We've also had one hire boat go out.

Well that's it from me today. Back over to Simon tomorrow.



Sunday, 1 July 2012

where are we all coming from

we had 1 day boat out this morning that returned without issues and had a nice dry day.
we also had a very quiet day to start with and then around 11 o'clock si's phone rang internally with a desperate call from denise who had just had loads of cyclists turn up and was desperate for help.
we do have a set menu but they all wanted things not on the menu..........confusing........u bet.
lorraine, joyce and kim were all out in the yard cleaning boats and doing washing so we had to haul them all back in again to help, and that was really how it stayed for the rest of the day. what i have forgotten to mention is that when i went to fetch them to help they had been inside "taliesen" that had just come out of the paint dock, had had it's windows removed, covered in paint dust on the inside and all emerged looking like faces and hands and singing where are we all coming from.........i can only assume "smurf land".............ha ha.
we have taken a couple of holiday bookings today for july and strangely enough all on python!!!!!!!
as it was the end of the month yesterday i have been doing end of month invoicing and statements for clients and simon will say that i have been very ratty, i have not at all i have just been getting on with my work. he has had problems today sending me e mails.............guess what, they all came through at 5 o'clock boat is now on it's mooring and i am sitting out on the bow writing this blog and enjoying a nice glass of white, until next time, byee ange.