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My interest in canals was sparked in 2002 with a first hire boat holiday. More followed in subsequent years and the attraction of the inland waterways was confirmed. A change came in 2005 with a Hotelboat holiday with Away4awhile and a new way of seeing the sights without having to do the work came into focus. It was also on this holiday that I saw the restaurant boat in Birmingham although the company was closed and about to go into liquidation. Ideas blossomed over the following period with the opportunity to be involved in the Hotelboat. This ultimately led to me, in the words of the advert, owning both the boat, NB Katie, and the company. It was also during this period that I purchased the major assets of the old restaurant boat company from the liquidator and Away2dine was born.

It was a long slow process getting the boat, NB Moira Rose, ready for service but dining cruises started in October 2007 and have continued ever since. Our evening dinner and Sunday roast cruises have proved popular and this is borne out by the number of our customers who return. Corporate entertainment is another field that is developing and we have much enjoyed the wedding receptions and parties held on board.

A need to provide services for the boats led to another purchase. This time a nerve racking on-line auction of British Waterways equipment with two possible boats available. The result – Marston was added to the fleet and modified to become our service boat and then developed as Away2service providing a mobile service to other boaters.

That was supposed to be it but the first boat that I had ever bought, NB Bosworth Lady, which had been in use with another company became free and was brought into Birmingham as a potential trip/party boat. Refurbishment was required and a long period at the carpenters began. In the meantime yet another opportunity presented itself and a day boat was added to the fleet in 2010 under the name Away4aday. 2010 was also the year that Away2canal eventually started operation at the end of the summer with the County in the City Trips. These are proving popular and the year round operation is giving many people the chance to see Birmingham from a different angle.

And so to 2011. Away4awhile is continuing with its short break holidays. A trip to Llangollen early in the year was very successful and it has been great to welcome our guests on board including some very familiar faces. The 2012 schedule is on its way and there is a lot of interest already. Away2dine, Away2canal and Away4aday continue supported by Away2service and the boats are a very familiar sight on the central Birmingham canals.

What’s next – more of the same perhaps with a few more opportunities thrown in. Watch this space…………………..

Quayside Tower, 252-260 Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2HF  Telephone: 0845 644 5144 Fax: 0845 644 5246 Email enquiries@theawaygroup.co.uk