House Column by Liz Willingham

February 2012

Not being a morning person, there’s nothing more scrumptious for me than a weekend lie-in. Now the kids are a little older, I can get away with them, occasionally, giving me the chance to recharge after a busy week.

As I write this, the children are at skiing lessons with their Dad preparing for his big birthday ski trip in March. I am in bed with ‘Something for the Weekend’ on the TV, surrounded by cups of tea and ginger biscuits (sshhhhh, we’re allowed a treat aren’t we?) with orange juice to freshen the palate. Heaven!

The puppy Bryher is downstairs, quiet as a lamb for once, having a sleep – no doubt nurturing yet another growth spurt in her challenge to become the biggest Labrador on the planet. I have never known a puppy to grow so fast; she wasn’t a little bundle of fluff for long. Now at almost five months old, she looks like a teenager. Her big teeth have replaced baby ones, but the good news is the house training is pretty much cracked. We just have to convince her now that every dog on the beach isn’t worth running off to live with……THAT’S my fitness routine!

We have been spoilt this month with mild, sunny days to get out walking with her. Bryher has given us the excuse to rekindle our love of Studland and pub lunches in front of the fire at the Bankes Arms. We are so lucky to have that on the doorstep; it’s just such a shame that it costs a small fortune to get there on the Sandbanks ferry nowadays. A harsh reminder of how tough things still are. For some facing redundancy, the winter will feel hard despite the warm sunny days. We must look out for those who need extra support and reassurance right now.

Hopefully, many will continue to holiday at home in the UK which helps our tourism economy enormously. The ‘Staycation’ still seems to be going strong and we hope that bodes well for Hoburne Holiday Parks, who are celebrating their centenary in 2012. Over the past year, my team at Liz Lean PR have been researching, interviewing, planning and writing a book acknowledging Hoburne’s 100 years and relevant changes in society over that time. It’s a lovely story. The evolution of the caravan alone is hilarious; I’m not sure the term ‘glamping’ could ever be applied back then! It has been a cherished labour of love and is released this month. We send huge congratulations to Hoburne for reaching 100 and maintaining its wonderful family approach throughout that time. The experience on the parks really reflects that; it is genuinely one of my family’s favourite holidays.

Another birthday to celebrate is the 25th anniversary of Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre. Another Purbeck treasure, this attraction has over 240 primates in their care and rescued many, many more over the years. Liz Lean PR and Dorset Chamber of Commerce were proud to announce them as winner of our Dorset Tourism Award at the Dorset Business Awards last November. We hope their big year attracts lots of visitors, enabling the good work to keep rolling.  It’s a great day out so if you haven’t been for a while, plan a visit. We’re certainly going to!

Still on the subject of tourism, we are building up to another Hotel and Catering Show at the BIC on March 13-14. This annual trade exhibition aims to inspire and culture business amongst hotels, restaurants and other hospitality-led businesses. In this Olympic year, it is as important as ever that we make the visitors’ experience memorable for all the right reasons.  Opening the show this year is Robin Hutson, the hotelier behind Hotel du Vin, Limewood, and most recently, The Pig. Instrumental in bringing the ‘boutique’ hotel concept to the UK, Robin’s career includes time at the Savoy and Claridges, Hotel de Crillon in Paris, and locally at Chewton Glen. A relatively private figure, the Show is privileged to have him on board and we will be working hard to make the most of his presence.

Well, the puppy is stirring and the sun beckons for a nice bracing walk. I may however make my life easier and avoid the beach – every dog in town will be there and I will literally be run ragged!

Keep well and warm ‘til next time.