'Not had a day off in three months': Boat boss on summer bonanza

People enjoying a day on the river with Bishy Barney Day Boats 

People enjoying a day on the river with Bishy Barney Day Boats - Credit: Bishy Barney Day Boats

The owner of a city boating business is looking forward to a well-earned rest after a "huge" summer season.

Mark Appel owns Bishy Barney Day Boats - named after the Norfolk dialect for ladybird - and has not had a day off in more than three and a half months. 

Mr Appel, 40, who also runs MBA Marine, said this week's late summer sunshine has seen it fully booked all week with the exception of Thursday, when it is expected to rain. 

Mr Appel said: "Today  is more booked up than I can cope with. Availability wise, we have reduced the hours with the kids back to school.

"It's a time when those who work seven days a week need a life as it's been so full-on and tiring. I've not had a day off in three and a half-months so those who complain about working nine to five should try working in tourism!" 

Mark Appel of Bishy Barney Day Boats in Thorpe St Andrew

Mark Appel of Bishy Barney Day Boats in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Ian Mackie

The boats, which can travel around Norwich and as far as Brundall two hours downriver, are hard to miss with their distinctive red painting and black ladybird spots. 

Mr Appel said: "We have been busy all throughout the summer which is indicative across the region's tourism. Everyone has been booked up with an influx of tourists and there has been a huge amount of people in the area. 

"Demand has been high. My business is four summers old so it was growing. Then we had the virus - which was a great hit that caused certain sectors to struggle. 

"But Norfolk tourism has had a huge shot in the arm by the amount of people now coming here."

This week's sunshine has meant more fully booked days for Bishy Barney Day Boats 

This week's sunshine has meant more fully booked days for Bishy Barney Day Boats - Credit: Bishy Barney Day Boats

Mr Appel and Andy Banner, of Freedom Boats in Thorpe St Andrew's Bungalow Lane, refurbished and renewed the electric boats, which were previously used on Lake Windermere, when Bishy Barney Day Boats was launched by the town council in 2018. 

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Among those who have regularly used the boats is county councillor for Thorpe St Andrew Ian Mackie. 

Sprowston mayor John Ward and Thorpe St Andrew county councillor Ian Mackie, enjoying a day with Bishy Barney Day Boats

Sprowston mayor John Ward, pictured far left, and Thorpe St Andrew county councillor Ian Mackie, centre, Maria Jones and Julian Mogford enjoying a day with Bishy Barney Day Boats - Credit: Ian Mackie

He said: "Mark has worked so hard throughout the summer. I’ve been on several trips. They are always great fun and it’s good to be out on the river enjoying what's on your doorstep."

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