Shop front in the summer

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bookings, and a sad day!

I have just retuned after a couple of days away, and only a fleeting visit as I am off again from tonight, nothing as glamorous as holidays abroad or anything like that, so sorry for the lack of blogs in my absence I do know that David and the gang have been very busy, and that brings me nicely on to the topic of bookings, before I went last week we had an influx of hire bookings at the last minute which gave the guys and gals some headaches in getting all of the boats turned around for Saturday but they managed nicely, the bookings for the boats have quietened down since then but the bookings for the trip boat have gone bananas, we are currently doing a promotion on the trip boat for a Friday night fish-n-chip supper and that kept us all very busy in the office today, we are only doing the Friday night trips at the moment for this month and August, but if the current interest in these trips carries on then we will extend these trough September and maybe beyond. Its been another quiet day here on the canal, not many boats about at all but that doesn’t stop us being busy, Richard has been doing a cracking job on the boat that is currently in for painting and that is not far off being finished, its being sign written tomorrow and then it will be coming out of the dock on Sunday, hopefully David will get a photo when it emerges, Lee has been busy blacking and pumping boats out, while Mick has been doing electrics on a private owned boat and Simon has also being working on the same boat fitting anodes, new rudder bearings and engine servicing. The title says a 'sad day' and today is a sad day as an old friend of mine and also a friend of many at Norbury and the wider canal community passed away yesterday, so my thoughts are with their family, I will write about him in another blog. Simon

Sunday, 28 July 2013

I don't know where the past week has gone. It only feels like yesterday that I was sat here at the computer writing the a blog last Sunday. I took my own boat down to Audlem on Wednesday and I was surprised to see how quiet the canal is. Even at prime locations there was plenty of room to tie up. Where are all the boats? Has the recession really hit that hard? It's been the Transport Festival in Audlem today, hence the reason why I took my boat down. I didn't get chance to see it in full swing but I understand that there were some 200 vehicles there today and a good selection of at least 40 old boats. It's been a busy day here at Norbury too, hence the short blog for tonight! Regards, David

Sunday, 21 July 2013

It's been a bit cooler here at Norbury today, although I believe the humidity is high. It's about time we had a storm to clear the air! We did have a little drop of rain in the night, but nowhere near enough as the ground is crying out for.

The trip boat has been well patronised again today during the four 1-hour long trips that we operate each Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday (11:00, 12:30, 14:00 and 15:00).

Sylvia has been busy in the kitchen today, assisted by both Kelly and Tasha, whilst Lynn has been cleaning boats and catching up with the laundry off of the hire boats. Ange has been in the office and shop most of the day and Mick has been doing some work on a private boat in the dry dock.

I was sat outside the Junction Inn last night enjoying a cool pint after a busy day at work and heard the lovely kerchug kerchug of an old engine. I turned round and to my amazement immediately recognised the converted wooden motor boat Gort. She was built by Nursers of Braunston in 1939. She is built of timber and has a beautiful Gardner 2L2 diesel engine. She was built as a working boat at Braunston for Samuel Barlow. She was converted to a houseboat in 1960 by her new owners, Tony and Helen Newman and sold to Lord Catto in 1965 and lived in by Innes Catto from 1969 to 1975. Vandalised and sunk in 1976, she was sold to Mr Dumlow. Eventually, she was bought by her present owner and ongoing conservation has taken place since 1986. The boat has been painted in her original colours by Ron Hough who was a crew member in her working days. I managed to snap a photograph just before she disappeared under the bridge.

She's a real beauty and is a credit to her owner. Notice the lack of wash - that's wooden boats for you, they swim like fish!

Talking about old boats (I hope I am not boring you?), I've just heard that my good friend; Michael Pinnock, has just been awarded the Alfred Richie trophy for the best presented working boat at the IWA's National Waterways Festival at Cassiobury Park with his pair of boats - Clover and Fazeley. I am really pleased for him and it is well deserved as you will see from the short video below. This is the pair heading south last week loaded with domestic coal bound for the London area.

That's it from me today.



Saturday, 20 July 2013

I'm back! I've been away for a few days boating with friends on the Grand Union canal down to the IWA's National Waterways Festival which is being held; as I write, in Cassiobury Park. The weather was just fantastic, although a little too hot to cope with at times, especially when we loading in excess of 30 tonnes of prepacked coal on Tuesday morning at Stoke Bruerne.

I had a quick walk round the festival site yesterday before I returned. I saw many familiar faces and if I didn't get chance to have a chat with you I do apologise, but I had to get back to Norbury as we had a Fish and Chip cruise on the trip boat departing at 7pm. Steve picked me up from Stafford station and thankfully Simon had virtually prepared the boat ready for our departure. Will steered for the duration of the trip whilst Alex and I worked the bar, served the Fish and Chips and looked after the full boat load of passengers. We returned to Norbury at about 10.30pm and enjoyed a cool drink sat outside the Junction until about 1am this morning with friends off of the working boats Whitby and Darley.

These Fish and Chip evenings are growing in popularity. We are running every Friday throughout July, August and September departing at 19:00 hours. Booking is essential, but just give the office a call to reserve your space :-)

It's the transport festival in Audlem next weekend, so there are quite a few old boats heading in that direction. It's well worth a visit. I am hoping on having my boat there, but work always takes priority and plans may have to change, but we will see...

It's been a busy day here today. The sun has shone once again, although there has been a slight breeze which has made it feel a bit cooler. We had three day boats out first thing as the hire boats were returning and we have turned five boats round along with Wharf Cottage.

That's it from me today. Until tomorrow.

Best regards, David.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Too hot to handle!

I am not referring to me in the title, rather the boats in the wharf, I had to walk down the gunwales of a boat today and I could not put my hands on the hand rails it was that hot and it has remained over 30 degrees all day long, I have been ok this week in the heat except today it has finally got to me and I don't mind admitting that come 4.30 I am starting to flag a bit, I feel sorry for Simon who has been welding today and Mick who has been in engine rooms today, they both deserve a cool beer as does Sylvia who has beavered away in the very hot tea room and also the girls who have been cleaning boats.

Two day boats out today and they returned with very happy customers aboard, one hire boat turned around and we have had a couple of hire boats come back a bit early, but that is about it for today except we have a fish-n-trip supper on the trip boat, that will be a hot boat as it has a full 42 seats booked, so I have been out today and bought several bags of ice, put the drinks chillers on so that at least our customers will be able to enjoy a really cool drink while they glide down the canal on this wonderful summer evening, i really quite fancy that myself!

That's it from me for this week, David is back so no doubt he will have something to say over the weekend

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Another scourcher!

I don't really need to mention the fact that today has been another scorcher, but it seems to have been a bit warmer than yesterday, I spoke with my mom earlier and she said that it was getting a bit much, I Said don't be so daft its superb and looooooooong may it continue, although I am not a fan of really hot weather I do think that this is just bearable,but after the last few poor summers its really wonderful.

Its been busy down here today, not many boats moving but the place has been busy and the phone has been relentless all day long, lots of boats being booked and work being booked in, A possible new hire boat for us to operate, and some details of a boat that someone wants us to sell, plus many more enquiries that have kept Ange, Me and Joyce going all day, the lads have all been busy today Simon making new lockers, Lee and Mick removing windows and cleaning steel work up prior to refitting the windows, whilst Richard has been applying paint to the boat in the wet dock, three day boats went out first thing this morning and as yet only two have come back, the third cant be far away (I hope)

We are running another Wowcher deal shortly so you need to register with Wowcher to see what we are offering, but by the way these offers are being taken up and the professionalism that the people at Wowcher have I suspect that we will be doing many more offers with them and some unusual ones too.

That's it from me for today except that I have to go and sort out a ladies gas BBQ on the way home, and no its not an excuse for a sneaky beer ion the way home!


Monday, 15 July 2013

Whats going on?

Mondays come around far too quick, as I sit here tying today's blog I wonder what happened to the weekend, and what a weekend it was, weather wise I mean, Saturday the hottest day so far this year, I don't know where you were but up here it was seriously hot, Even given how hot it was and is now it doesn't seem to be bringing people out with their boats, after the last couple of years of poor weather you would think that the canal would be thronging with people itching to use their boats, yet it still seems very quiet indeed on the 'cut' maybe everyone is saving themselves for August!

A very busy morning this morning, everyone descended on us first thing for about two hours then it quietened down to a steady day, two day boats out first thing, one hire boat returned with happy folk aboard and one boat out this afternoon for a week. Mick saw to the boats going out and then carried on with odd jobs on private boats around the yard, Richard has been painting as per usual, Lee has been turning hire boats around and then working on the yard and grounds, there is always something to do to keep busy in between pump outs and diesel on the wharf, the tea room has kept Sylvia busy and at times with help off Lynn, David has gone off boating for the week,

The trip boat is off out on a charter again tonight, tonight it is full of Beavers, I will leave that one to your imagination! and that's yer lot for a Monday!


Sunday, 14 July 2013

a lot busier today

hello again, two days running getting an ange blog.
we had 3 day boats out again this morning and still enjoying fantastic weather, all returned without issues except that they were a little sunburnt.
it was quite quiet in the shop and tea room this morning once the day boats had left but that is the norm on a sunday morning, we don't normally start to get busy until around 11 o'clock.
lynn and tash were out cleaning the boats and cottage ready for their next occupants and also cleaned the boat that has just come out of the paint dock.
the trip boat has done quite well today and we have surpassed previous weeks, even the 11 o'clock trip was busier today, will was the helmsman and jenny, who hasn't been with us very long did a sterling job of looking after the customers and she really enjoyed spending her day on there too.
the tea room and shop have been really busy from lunch time on, and we have had quite a few boats on the wharf for diesel, pump outs and gas.  
mick attended a break down this morning and also did an eberspacher service on the boat that has come out of the dry dock this morning....miss mollie....peter and sandra you have escaped at last!!!!
we have done a number of day boat and hire boat bookings today and sold looooads of ice cream, it took me over an hour to fill up the freezers tonight....simon, i was still filling them up gone 5 o'clock ;-)
well that's it from me for today, till next time, byeee ange.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

quiet start to the day

as the title suggests we had a very quiet start to the day today apart from having 3 day boats go out first thing this morning, all of which returned without any issues. we have had 3 boats return  to us this morning with happy holiday makers aboard and 5 go out this afternoon, i hope the weather holds for them.
lynn and sarah have been busy cleaning the boats and making beds this morning, fred and his little helpers have been turning the boats around and serving the many wharf customers with diesel and gas and also putting the last coat of blacking on the boat that is in the dry dock, (never mind sandra you will be out tomorrow), engineer simon has been doing engine servicing and also attended a breakdown here at norbury, we had the name of the boat, no telephone number and no customers name, simon said whereabouts is it, david said norbury, that's all we know (nothing to do with us, i might add).
the newport show has been on today and i think that is why we were so quiet this morning, this afternoon was a different kettle of fish,everyone turned up at norbury all at the same time and all hell broke loose.
ice creams selling like they were going out of fashion and generally very busy in the tea room and shop, at one stage i had a phone at each ear, had to take both potential customers phone numbers to call them back as the shop was full of customers, phoned them back and 1 day boat booked and a holiday for next weekend ;-)
that's all for today, sorry for the short post, until next time byeeeeeeeeeee, ange.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Inland Riviera

We have the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera, the English Riviera and so on, now this weather is just fantastic and is bringing lots of people out to Norbury, they lie on the grass in front of the pub, they sit on the tea room patio and on our grassed areas taking in the sun, people everywhere sitting and enjoying cool ice creams, cold drink, people dangle their legs in the cool canal, given this holiday like feel that is upon us at the moment  I reckon that we should rename Norbury the Inland Riviera, What do you think?

only a short blog tonight as we are still really busy and we are awaiting a late day boat!


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

water shortages and problems!

It goes almost without saying that when we have extremes in the weather conditions we inevitably end up with restrictions on the waterways, I have noticed a steady stream of restrictions and warnings coming through on emails today from Canal and river trust, nothing to worrying at the moment but it wouldn't surprise me that if this wonderful weather carries on we will see a few more, rest assured though that the Shroppie isn't suffering any restrictions and certainly wont be, even down to water levels, last year I wrote about the unique water supply of ours which comes from the Barnhurst sewage works at Wolverhampton, so as long as people still go to the loo we will have water in the Shroppy!

Its been another amazing day here at the wharf, again lots of people about enjoying the sun, the ice creams and the cool beers from the tea rooms, of which Sylvia has looked after wonderfully, Joyce has been answering the many phone calls today, the phone has not stopped with people booking boats and trips, Angela is back and it's great to have her back, she has been piling through a mountain of paperwork and has amazingly been quite quiet, it wont last! Mick has been finishing off some work on a private boat, after seeing the day boats out Simon had a breakdown to attend to, nothing serious fortunately, and then he carried on with a few different jobs on private boats dotted around the wharf, Poor old Richard had the arduous task of starting to prepare the next boat that is in for painting, not such a big job as the last one!

I'm off for something cooler now so until tomorrow.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Heat wave

Unless you are down a mine somewhere you will have noticed that we are having a mini heat wave, well we are here at Norbury! 30 degrees was registered yesterday and I have just returned from meetings and it was 28 in the car, its superb and loooooong may it last, it really does make a massive difference to the amount of people around the wharf, today has been busy with visitors, and boats moving along the canal.

Three day boats out first thing, a hire boat this afternoon, Micky has been out to a lovely job on one of our hire boats, yep you guessed it, a blocked toilet, which he eventually sorted and removed the offering item from the macerator pump. As I am typing this blog the lads are just swapping boats over in the wet dock and the freshly painted boat that has been painted by Richard is emerging sporting its new livery
Rich don't jump!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

It's all go

Well... We have all been waiting for the weather to improve and at last it has! Temperatures have soared to a high of 33°C around Norbury for the past couple of days.

It was a busy day here yesterday with the coming and going of the hire boats and of course the three dayboats, not to mention the tearoom and the people booking trips on The Shropshire Star... Today has been even busier!

A valued customer of us, who unfortunately had to sell his boat a few years ago has taken Phantom out for two weeks today along with his good lady. If you see Bob out and about - give him a wave :-) The three dayboats went out this morning too, all set ready for a scorcher of a day.

Ange has been on holiday for the past week so Denise has been in the office with me for the past few days (much to her dislike I must add!), but she has done a sterling job and I can't thank her enough. She always greets everyone with a smile and is very efficient at answering the telephone. She hasn't spent very much time in the office since she has been working here as regular visitors will know she is usually in charge of the tearoom. Although she was thrown in at the deep end she hasn't done a bad job at all... Talking of the tearoom, Sylvia has been heading that up over the last few days with the able assistance of Mrs. Handbag and Lynn. Both Kelly and Tasha have been in during the busier times too to ensure that there is plenty of clean crockery and cutlery.

We have been running regular one hour long trips again on The Shropshire Star today. We have also got some Fish and Chip cruises planned over the coming weeks, so check out our website for further details Don't forget she is also available for chartered cruises throughout the year.

Richard has virtually finished the boat that he has been painting over the last five weeks. She is looking splendid .

Denise is now on holiday for two weeks. I think she needs a good break, so I hope she has a good time. You might see Mike and Denise out and about - they are heading north, across the Middlewich Branch and north on the T&M to the Anderton Boat Lift where they will drop down onto the river Weaver for a tranquil few days.

That's it for today folks.

I'm off for a cool drink and a bbq.



Thursday, 4 July 2013

Is it the end of an era?

Its been a funny week so far, not too busy, in fact very quiet at times, and then at others we have been rushed off our feet, the weather hasn't been particularly kind to us but toady has been nice and sunny and if we can believe the forecasters we are in for a mini heatwave this weekend for the next couple of weeks, I certainly hope so!

The trip boat is gaining in popularity, its been out on an evening fish and chip supper cruise yesterday and as I type the blog today it is out again on a charter with some RAF folks aboard having cream teas and scones, don't forget folks that it is also out doing public trips every Sunday until the end of the season.

As the title suggests, is it an end of an era? I was out with friends last night who tell me that the Wharf Inn at Shebdon on the Shropshire Union closed its doors for the last time on Sunday, the lovely pub has been on the verge of closing its doors for a while now and its been on the market for some time, the current owners want to retire and it would seem as though the trade has been declining for while, it isn't unusual when a pub owner wants to change the pub in to a residential property to allow the trade to die in order to prove that it is no longer viable as a pub and thus encouraging the council to grant a change of use, I doubt that this is the case with the wharf, but I do know that on the sales particulars it is offered as either a pub or a residential property and according to my good friends an offer has been accepted and the new owners will want to convert it to a house. The canal, the countryside and its associated pubs are an integral part of the community, and to a wider audience offer an appeal that brings people out in to the rural communities, in the area where I live which is not far from Norbury we have lost 10 pubs since 1997, The Wharf is just another one to bite the dust and become a distant memory, such a shame!


Monday, 1 July 2013

Playing catch-up!

Its always the same when you return from a weeks holiday, loads of things to catch up on, and today has been no exception, all day long I have been playing catch up, but as I type the blog I have finished catching up and my desk is clear and ready for tomorrow, I reckon that it will be busy tomorrow, mainly because Ange is on holiday and David is off so that leaves me and Joyce to look after the office!
Its generally been a busy day here on the wharf, nothing too exciting has been happening and it is difficult for me to comment on what the individual lads have been up to as I have had my head buried for most of the day, but they have all been quiet so I guess they have been working hard too, I do know that Mick saw two day boats out and prepared two hire boats that he also saw out this afternoon and then turned the returning day boats around ready for tomorrow. When I finally looked up from my paperwork today it was time to go home, so I will see what tomorrow brings and maybe I will write something if its worth mentioning!