Sunday, 19 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Well the snow is still disrupting business and we are still receiving many cancellations at the Hotel which is so disappointing as we had the best Pre-Christmas bookings ever with both Restaurants full every day. I do get fed up with the scaremongering that the media present to us, do they realise the harm they are doing to businesses? I realise certain areas have been very badly effected by snow and ice but there are parts of the country that are accessible.

However on a more positive note 54 people attended the 25th annual Christmas Dinner at The Cloud Hotel in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and £2000-00 was raised for the charity. The evening started with carols sung by the Highcliffe Junior Choir. The choir have recorded a new CD  'I Wonder as I Wander' available in some local music shops, information can be found on http://www.highcliffejuniorchoir/.

The Hotel will be closed from December 27th 2010 for our annual maintenance and refurbishment and will RE-OPEN on Friday January 14th 2011.

I look forward to welcoming you to The Wessex Women's Network events in 2011 the next one being on January 25th 2011 'A Maids Eye View of Life at Palace House Beaulieu'. A talk about upstairs and downstairs at Palace House.

It is predicted that 2011 is going to be a tough year for everyone but we need to be like the snail who by sheer perseverance reached his goal.

Finally I would like to wish you a very happy, healthy and successful 2011 filled with happiness, peace and fun.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

I'm inspirationalised out!

We are up to our eyes in snow today and although the New Forest looks like fairy land it certainly doesn't do my business any good. The phone hasn't stopped ringing with people canceling their bookings. This morning I had to put on my overall and cook breakfast for the guests staying at the hotel as the chef was stranded. I haven't done that for a long time!
On November 17th I attended the 'everywoman'  annual conference and as usual came back to work feeling inspired, motivated and ready to change my business, if not the world! Sam Roddick, the daughter of Body Shop legend Anita Roddick was the keynote speaker. We heard how she overcame several obstacles before discovering her entrepreneurial spirit and starting her business Coco De Mer. She obviously has inherited her Mothers drive and it is her passion, dedication and boundless energy that keeps her motivated to succeed. There were some excellent masterclasses in the afternoon and the conference concluded with a motivational presentation by Penny Mallory. Having run away from home at 14 and scraped through school she went to London to find fame and fortune but ended up living in hostels for a couple of years. She told us how she took control of her life turned it around and is now a television presenter.She was the first woman in the world to compete in a World Rally Car. These women are so inspirational and I think by hearing  their stories and their struggles it encourages other women to reach their full potential and to reach for their dreams. Don't dream it, do it!

Another of my passions is dance, I am a Life Member of The Royal Academy of Dance. On November 19th I was invited to do a presentation at the Pavilion Dance Centre  about the Tiller Girls. It was a Vintage week-end with lessons on the jive, jitterbug and lindy hop! With the help of Karl Jones of KNdesign I managed to create a Power Point presentation on the history of the Tiller Girls. It was lovely to see so many people of all ages attending the Dance Centre, the place was buzzing.

On 23rd November I had the honour of being invited to be the speaker at Pat Wyeth's charity dinner to be held in the Conservative Club New Milton. Pat is the Chairman of the New Forest District Council .I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and being treated to a delicious meal.

The highlight of my week was attending 'everywoman's' official launch of the Modern Muse book at Adam Street Private Members Club in London. Modern Muse is a major initiative designed to inspire and engage the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs by showcasing successful women of today in all walks of business life.The project is setting out to reach one million young women and girls over the next three years, to inspire and motivate them to look at business careers and entrepreneurship as a way to achieve their dreams. The publication of the book shines a spotlight on 100 inspirational women who are all vibrant, successful entrepreneurs and business women, personifying the 'Modern Muse'. Anyone who is interested in  getting involved with Modern Muse or would like more information about the project go to
It was a full house for the Wessex Women's Network Christmas event. Lesley Bradsworth, owner of Charisma in Fawley presented the ladies with a wonderful fashion show of evening wear, day and casual wear. There was something for everyone and I can't wait for the snow to disappear so I can pay Charisma a visit.There was a great atmosphere during the evening and the raffle raised £150-00 for Refuge for women and children, another charity close to my heart.

Finally the big day had come for the finalists of the 'everywoman' business awards. This prestigious event was held at The Dorchester Hotel in London on December 1st and attended by over 200 women. As one of the judges it was a tough job to choose a winner from each category. The standard was very high and all the finalists had achieved success but like everything there can only be one winner. There was so much energy in the room and it was buzzing with excitement as each winner was announced. It was a fantastic day and I was lucky enough to be joined by my eldest daughter Amanda and four of my friends.  A great day was had by everyone.

Remember 'You don't have to be great to get started but you have to get started to be great' Les Brown


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Get off the Express Train!

Do I dare mention that it's only six weeks to Christmas! I'm sure like me you are wondering what happened to this year? Maybe it's because we are all so busy that we don't have time to notice the months racing by. It's rather like being on an Express Train but we should stop and get off the train sometimes and enjoy the beautiful countryside that surrounds us. The Autumn colours in the New Forest were stunning this year and they are only just over their best. The Holly Trees are covered in red berries, does this mean we are in for a cold winter?

I had the pleasure of attending the Women of Our Time Lunch at the Chewton Glen Hotel on October29th. This lunch is held annually and the proceeds go to The Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington. The speaker this year was Clare Balding TV Presenter and Journalist. She is well known for her live racing coverage of the Grand National, Derby, Arc de Triomphe and Royal Ascot, a regular presenter on Radio 4 and has made guest appearances on many TV shows. She had us all entertained with her stories and experiences of life as a broadcaster. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her and found her very friendly and easy to talk to.

I am a very lucky person as I do get invited to some fabulous events. On November 2nd I made my way to Unilever Head Office in Leatherhead to attend an evening with Chef Marco Pierre White of TV's Hells Kitchen. Once again it was a charity event this time to raise funds for Hospitality Action a charity that helps hospitality people who have fallen on hard times. After a champagne reception in the Foyer we all went into the smart theatre kitchen where the tables had been set for dinner. Before dinner was served two or three people from each table were invited to go up and watch Marco cook a variety of dishes from his new cookery book 'Marco Made Easy'. I found Marco absolutely charming and very appoachable, it makes you realise that what you see on Television is not always the real person. Dinner was delicious and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, met some very interesting people and left with a copy of his cookery book. The evening raised £17,000-00!

I am looking forward to the next Wessex Women's event on November 30th. Charisma of Fawley are hosting a Festive Fashion Extravaganza followed by a Christmas Dinner. As we are all so busy during December I thought we'd enjoy a Christmas dinner early! This is proving to be a very popular event and there are very few places left.

Don't forget the Everywoman conference on November 17th. This really is a conference worth attending if you want to grow your business. As well as meeting and listening to some inspirational and like minded women you will also have fun. All details can be found on

Finally 'If you think you have had a bad day try missing one'. Cavett Robert. To me every day is the start of a new opportunity.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Season for Awards

On Tuesday October 12th The Wessex Women met to hear Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus give a really interesting talk on weight control. If only we would eat less, stop snacking and exercise more we could all look as great as Karen. She explained to us that crash diets are only a temporary measure but if we changed our eating habits and ate less the weight should stay off and we could still indulge in our favourite foods. She also told us about Nordic Walking. I am hooked on Nordic Walking and go out with Karen for an hour's  walking three times a week. I feel healthier and fitter for it and it is also great fun.

Wednesday was another busy day for me, up at 5-30am to be in London to judge the 'everywoman business awards'. This is my 5th year of judging these awards and I always love the day. The awards are given to women in four different age groups and this year I was judging the under 25 year olds. I always come home totally inspired and humbled by the stories of some of these women and how they have overcome adversity and made a success of their lives. The awards are presented at a glittering lunch at the Dorchester Hotel London on Wednesday December 1st. If you would like to go to the event or know of anyone who would like to sponsor a table contact It is always a wonderful event and great for networking.

It must be the time of the year for awards because on Thursday October 21st I am attending the South East Tourism Beautiful South Awards For Excellence at Mercedes Benz World with Jan Hoy.  Anne Paterson is a finalist in the self catering catagory. Anne regularly attends the Wessex Women's meetings and we wish her  luck and success on the evening.

I have been invited to be on Radio Solent next Wednesday on the Alex Dyke Morning Show. The BBC want to encourage the over 55's to get on-line and overcome their fears with computers and being well over that age I am going to discuss the subject with Alex. I always enjoy my visits to Radio Solent, everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

I don't get to see television very often but one of my favourite programmes is The Apprentice so I was delighted when I heard there was a new series coming to our screens. However what a disappointment it has been so far with such appalling behaviour from the ladies, if that's what you can call them! Their behaviour gives business women such a bad name and is no example to young women wanting to succeed in business. I'm a great believer that being aggressive gets you nowhere but being feminine does! Hopefully they will improve their behaviour in time before they become a laughing stock.

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on November 30th. Lesley Bradsworth of Charisma in Hythe is presenting a fashion show so this will be an ideal opportunity for you to come and chose your Christmas party dress.

I'm reading another fantastic book 'Goals' by Brian Tracey. If you don't have time to read you can buy all these great motivational books on CD and listen to them while you are in your car.

'You don't have to be great to get started but you do have to get started to be great' Les Brown


Friday, 1 October 2010

Unwind and Relax

I have just returned from a weeks holiday in Lanzarote, the weather was hot and sunny and I relaxed on the beach every day and read three very inspiring books. I came back to work feeling refreshed, motivated and full of new ideas. We all work so hard juggling family with our careers that it is really important to give ourselves quality time to enable us to unwind and relax to be-able to function well and stay healthy. I am very lucky to have a great team supporting me in my business. Having such a committed team allows me to go away knowing that the Cloud Hotel will carry on without me. The flight home was delayed by three hours due to the French air traffic control being on strike so I didn't arrive home until 3-30am on Friday. I had to be up bright and early on Friday to prepare for the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to be held at The Cloud Hotel in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Many friends and colleagues came, some of whom I hadn't seen for some time and I had a lovely time catching up with old friends. As well as having fun we raised £620-00 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Thank you to everyone who came and generously supported the event.

I am still enjoying my Nordic Walking with Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus. Karen is going to be the speaker at the next meeting of the Wessex Women's Network on Oct 12th. The title 'Change Your Thinking Change Your Weight' is bound to be a popular subject as we are all very conscious of our weight so please book early to secure your place.

The evenings are drawing in and the clocks will be going back at the end of October. The dark cosy evenings are a good time to catch up on your reading and one of the great books I read while I was on holiday was 'Winning' by Clive Woodward. Sir Clive Woodward was the coach for the England Rugby team that won the World Cup in 2003. Although rugby isn't probably one of your favourite sports you can learn alot about team work and leadership from his book. I found it inspirational.

The nice thing about team work is you have others on your side.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Tell The World About It

September is one of my favourite months, it seems to bring a calmness to the New Forest. The Cloud Hotel continues to be very busy as the more mature customers wait for the children to go back to school before enjoying a break in our tranquil setting. However life for me is anything but tranquil and I continue to do talks, attend events both locally and in London and enjoy life.
On September 3rd I was invited to attend the official opening of Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth. Having performed at the Pavilion Theatre Bournemouth in two Summer Shows and a Pantomime in the early sixties I was interested to see this new project. I was so impressed with the new facilities, wonderfully spacious studios and an intimate theatre for performance. We were entertained by some energetic and very talented young Street Dancers.It is so rewarding for someone like myself who is so passionate about dance to see such talented and enthusiasic young dancers. Dancing gives you discipline, stamina and drive that you can take into any proffession. For more information go to
Earlier that day I had been invited to join 90 Retired Partners [staff] of Tyrell and Green for lunch at the Masonic Hall in Southampton. Following a delicious lunch I had the pleasure of presenting my talk 'The Show Goes On' to them and what a great audience they were. I always dread talks after lunch because it is a time when people often drift off to sleep but I managed to keep them all awake, including the 95 year old who was an amazing lady.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first took over the running of The Cloud Hotel was from the late American Restauranteur Bob Paton. He said 'Always tell the World About Yourself' because you can very quickly be forgotten. Getting good publicity for your business is invaluable and as I told you in a previous Blog I was lucky enough to be approached by Emmett & Smith, a PRcompany in London to be interviewed by Good Housekeeping Magazine. I'm delighted to tell you that the article is out now in the October issue. I'd like to pass Bob Paton's advice on to you.  Never turn down a PR opportunity if you want to survive in business particularly in these difficult economic times. Another way of promoting your business is by giving talks and presentations to local clubs and organisations. I know most people dread having to speak in public but once you've overcome the fear it's not only fun but great free marketing. There are organisations like Toastmasters where you can learn public speaking and I can recommend Brian Tracey's book Speak To Win, How to present with Power in any situation. He has given me lots of new ideas.
On Saturday I went to Jennifer Nutburn's Ball in Brockenhurst. Jennifer attends our Wessex Women's meetings regularly and she and her husband Phil have been organising this annual Ball for the past 9 years. The proceeds go to Naomi House Children's Hospice and they have raised thousands of pounds for Naomi House and raised £9990-00 at this year's Ball.. Sadly Jennifer announced that this would be their final Ball but many congratulations are due to both of them for all their hard work. I had a wonderful time and haven't danced so much for years.
Finally a reminder about the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to be held at The Cloud Hotel on September 24th from 10-30am-11-45am. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support. Please come along and bring your friends.

'The future belongs to those who follow their dreams' Eleanor Roosevelt. So don't just dream it do it!


Friday, 27 August 2010

Business should be fun!

I'm a great believer that as well as hard work business should be fun and members of the Wessex Women's Network have certainly had some fun this month.On August 21st I managed to get a table of 12 together [including three husbands] to attend the Festival Ball at The Pavilion Ballroom Bournemouth. The event raised around 45k which will go towards the Variety Club, the children's charity and Help for Heroes. It's good to get together socially and be-able to chat and find out more about each other and I discovered that Valerie and I both went to Blackheath High School and at the same time! I have known Valerie for some time but we never realised we had been to the same school until then.

Last night we enjoyed the Wessex Women's Summer Dinner. Although it felt more like Autumn we all had a great time. The plan was to enjoy a glass of champagne in the garden before dinner but the heavens opened and we had to stay inside but that did not stop us enjoying ourselves. We were entertained by Nell Montague-Rendell who started the evening with some of her favourite songs including Fields of Gold, Turn Me On and No One But You. We were all spellbound  not only with her singing but her whole performance. She is a very talented young singer and I am sure she has a successful career ahead of her. We were lucky enough to be-able to enjoy a second performance from her after we had finished our main course and before I brought in Jan Hoy's birthday cake to celebrate her 70th birthday. Needless to say we all sang Happy Birthday but our voices were not as tuneful as Nell's! We were able to buy Nell's CD for £10-00 from which she gave £5-00 of each sale to the Country Education Trust. Not only do we enjoy ourselves at The Wessex Women's meetings but we try and raise money for our favourite charities.

Speaking of which can I remind you all of the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to be held at The Cloud Hotel Brockenhurst on Friday September 24th from 10-30am - 11-45am. Please do come along to enjoy a cup of coffee, bring your friends with you and sample our delicious homemade chocolate brownies. All proceeds  go to Macmillan Cancer Support.


Sunday, 15 August 2010

A Can Do Attitude - - - - -

It's August already and there are only 18 weeks to Christmas! This year is racing by and it's been a while since I've had time to write my Blog. Like all of us I'm juggling work and family and have been spending time with my grandchildren whenever possible.

The July meeting of the Wessex Women was well attended and everybody thoroughly enjoyed Dr Denise Tylor's talk on hypnotism. Her talk 'Gaining the Competitive Edge Using Hypnosis' explained how hypnosis is an excellent tool for weight loss and great for improving sporting performance. She has worked with dancers, ice-skaters, golfers and tennis players, helped them to overcome fear of eg a particular jump [skaters] or generally to "up" their level to gain a competitive edge. Hypnosis can also be very effective for child related issues such as thumb sucking and bed wetting and for us adults our habitual behaviour such as smoking or overeating etc. A thoroughly absorbing and thought provoking talk. The Summer Dinner to be held at the Cloud Hotel on Wednesday Aug 24th is a chance for everyone to get together, network and have some fun. We are priviliged to have Nell Montague-Rendell entertain us during the evening. Nell is the daughter of David and Diana Montague-Rendell two very successful opera singers.

The Wessex Women's Network website has a business directory, it costs £50-00 + vat to have your business listed and is just another opportunity to promote your business. You will find the details of how to register your business on the Wessex Women web-site.

On Thursday I attended the launch of Women 1st Femail Chef' Development programme at The Dorchester Hotel London. It was launched by Michael Caines one of Britain's most acclaimed chefs. He was AA Chef's Chef of the year in 2007, awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to hospitality as well as having 2 Michelin Stars. Michael lost his right arm in a car accident in 1994 but was back to work part time after 2 weeks and full time after 4 weeks. Not only is he an inspiration with his positive attitude and determination to not let adversity affect his career but also a charming and down to earth man. He spoke so much sense at the event and recognised that although the industry is trying to encourage more young women to become chefs it is very challenging for them. I had a very enjoyable evening and was able to catch up with some of my colleagues in the hospitality industry.

An important date for your diary is Friday September 24th. The Cloud Hotel takes part in the World's largest Coffee Morning every year in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, everyone is welcome between
10-30am and 11-45 am. to come and enjoy a cup of coffee and sample our moorish homemade chocolate brownies.

These are worrying times for businesses at the moment with so many cut backs and redundancies but I still believe it's the companies who give 5 star service and exceed their customers expectations who have a better chance of surviving this economic climate and come out of it not only stronger but more successful. I am reading a fantastic book at the moment recommended to me by Karen Guttridge whilst on my Nordic Walk. 'THE 25 PRINCIPLES OF SUCCESS' by Jack Canfield and I'm now recommending it to you. A great read.

Remember 'A Can Do Attitude Makes The Impossible Possible'


Sunday, 11 July 2010

A week in the life of-----

I can't believe a week has passed since I was having my photo shoot in London for Good Housekeeping magazine. However it has been another very busy but enjoyable week for me. I continue to do my Nordic Walking with Karen Guttridge three times a week and am already beginning to feel fitter. I had the pleasure of talking to the retired staff of Marks and Spencer on Tuesday, I have spoken to them before and they are always a lovely audience and very responsive which makes it more enjoyable for me.

The highlight of my week was opening an exhibition of Alan Carter's paintings at TheARThouse Gallery in Bournemouth. Alan and his wife Julia were both ballet dancers and great friends of mine and Julia decided to organise this exhibition of Alan's paintings in his memory. His paintings 'Choreographics' are unique and show the culmination of Alan's profession as a dancer, ballet director and choreographer as dance movements in graphic representation. The ARThouse Gallery is in Bourne Avenue Bournemouth and the exhibition of Alan's paintings will continue until July 25th. To view Alan's paintings visit  It was an enjoyable evening and I was delighted to meet up with two dancers who were in Pantomime with me at the Hippodrome Theatre in Brighton in 1960! It's a small world.

Quote 'You are not here for a long time but you are here for a good time' so I hope you are taking time out to enjoy this lovely weather.


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Tales from the Tower

The past few weeks have been manic for me with talks, business lunches and a full hotel, however I consider being busy better than being bored. The Wessex Women welcomed Tony Strafford, a retired Beefeater from the Tower of London, to the Cloud Hotel on Monday June 21st. Thirty four ladies came to hear Tony entertain us with tales from the Tower. I think the title of his talk 'Sex, Bishops and Money' was an attraction to the ladies as well  as the fact he came in full uniform. He explained how certain expressions like 'One for the Road' and 'Hangers On' had originated, both from rather grisley circumstances and he assured us there had never been a ghost spotted at the Tower. He provided great entertainment and the ladies enjoyed having their photo taken with him by Compass magazine.The next meeting is on July 28th when Dr Denise Tylor speaks to us on gaining the competitive edge using hypnosis. Maybe she should have contacted the English football team before the world cup. Please book early as these events are very popular.

On June 30th we celebrated Lucy's 18th birthday with champagne and cakes. Lucy was 10 weeks old when Mandie, who is her Mum started working for me. Now Lucy is a competant and hardworking member of staff who is usually on duty with her Mum at the Wessex Women's meetings, a real family affair. I have watched Lucy grow into an attractive and confident young woman.

I have had some great publicity during the past few weeks thanks to a PR company in London called emmett & smith. I have details if anyone is interested. I am sure I have mentioned this before but I was given some excellent advice by Bob Paton a famous American restauranteur 'Tell the world about your business'. I took his advice and I always say yes to any good publicity that I am offered. Business is tough now and you have to keep reminding everyone that you exist.

On Friday I was up at 5-30am to go to Farnborough to present my talk on Customer Service to the ladies attending the Bizz- Fast Forum sponsored by 'Everywoman' and Nat West Bank. I am passionate about customer service and I believe it's the companies that deliver five star service and exceed their customers expectations who will survive this recession and come out of it stronger and more successful. However it was a disappointing attendance. What always amazes me is that ladies book to come to these events but don't turn up. It's only those people who make an effort and persevere who will succeed. The ones who ' GET UP, DRESS UP, and SHOW UP'.

After my presentation I had to be whisked into London to be made up and dressed up for a photo shoot for Good Housekeeping magazine that had been arranged by emmett & smith. It was a fun day, and so uplifting to be amongst young enthusiastic and creative young people. I am going to appear in the October edition of Good Housekeeping with three other inspirational ladies. Again a wonderful opportunity to promote my business and meet interesting people.
Talking about opportunitys to promote your business I would like to remind you about the 'everywoman' awards that provide the winners and runners up with excellent marketing material. The closing date is July 30th so if you would  like to either nominate yourself or a colleague you haven't got much time left. You will find all details on

It was such a beautiful day on Saturday that I took the opportunity to spend the afternoon relaxing with my eldest daughter Amanda on the beach at Steamer Point Mudeford. It was lovely to have the chance to spend some time together and catch up with all our news. It is important that you take time out of your business to be-able to relax and come back to work refreshed with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

We all put things off that we don't want to do but read Brian Tracey's book 'Eat That Frog' it's brilliant.

Now that the World Cup is over [well it is for the English] and Wimbledon has finished, both sports with disappointing results, it's time to drag yourself away from the television and enjoy some fresh air in the beautiful countryside.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Challenging times!

I have just returned from my Nordic Walk in The New Forest with Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus. Not only is walking great exercise but it's fun too and I am hoping to reduce my waistline so I can get back into my size 10 trousers again. Karen is a member of Wessex Women's Network and I can recommend her to anyone wanting to get fit and lose weight. She is full of knowledge and ideas and makes losing weight such fun. I am planning on Nordic walking three times a week, I'll let you know my progress!

It's been another busy week for me with a talk to the Wallington and Fareham Amateur Winemakers Circle  on Monday night and another talk today for the Emsworth and District U3A. I really enjoy giving my talks because not only do I meet some friendly and interesting people but I hope that by hearing my story it will  encourage women to fulfill their dreams and to reach their full potential. SO DON'T DREAM IT JUST DO IT!

I love hearing inspirational stories and on Wednesday evening I attended the The Wow Summer Celebration at New Place Shirrell Heath. Wow is a firm of proactive accountants based in Andover Hampshire. They offer an innovative approach to Accounting, Financial Planning and Business Advice to small businesses.The Wow Network is for business owners and Wow hold events with interesting speakers throughout the year. The evening started with a refreshing glass of Pimms in the sunshine! It was a perfect summer evening and the speaker Martin Palethorpe left us in no doubt as to how you can create a world class business using some inspiring insights from his race to the North Pole. Martin is a leading Organisational Consultant and Motivational Speaker and I came away with loads of notes, ideas and was totally inspired by Martin's courage and determination to succeed. I admire anyone who faces such extreme challenges. The nearest I have ever come to that is when I went on a women's challenge in the Malvern Hills in 1995 to raise money for breast cancer. I walked 30 miles, slept under a bivouak and went across a quarry on a zip wire. You don't have to enjoy the experience but these challenges stretch you and makes you discover you can do things you never thought possible.

I often recommend a book for you to read so I thought it was a good opportunity for me to mention my book 'Delighting Your Customers'. As we are told we are heading for some hard economic times I believe those businesses who look after their customers and give five star service will survive and even succeed. Remember the customer pays our wages.


Sunday, 30 May 2010

How I love networking!

Twenty ladies attended the Wessex Women's Network meeting at The Cloud Hotel on Tuesday 25th June to hear David Bridges Director of Countryside Education Trust at the Out of Town Centre Beaulieu give a very interesting talk on the centre and the work they do there. Their overall aim is to promote and operate courses, activities and facilities that enable children and adults to learn about, understand and care for the countryside drawing on the diverse resources of the New Forest and the Beaulieu Estate. It is a registered charity established in 1975 and relies heavily on donations. They en-able disadvantaged children to have a residential countryside experience many of whom have had very little contact with farm animals and the countryside. We all thoroughly enjoyed David's presentation and it opened our eyes to the wonderful work being done at the Out of Town Centre. Do look at the website where you will find out much more about the Centre than I have time to write about.

We always give our members an opportunity to promote any of their products or services that they provide and to give a short presentation to the ladies. This week Jane Pitt-Pitts told us about her new range of jewellry she has developed. 'BLUE SAIL GLASS' Yachting Reflected Jewellery Jane makes her own jewellery in glass and it really is beautiful. Since Jane started coming to the Wessex Women's meetings I have not only seen her confidence grow but her business as well.

As most of you know I'm a great believer in networking and I enjoy it. I meet interesting people, listen to inspirational speakers who I learn from and make friends. On Thursday I attended The Business Southampton Working lunch at Kutis Thai Restaurant hosted by Gareth Lewis, Business Editor of The Southern Daily Echo. I enjoyed an excellent lunch and heard two very interesting speakers before having to rush home to take my daughter to her physio appointment as she has had a shoulder operation and can't drive. Women are able to cram so much into a day and still keep smiling! Sian Thomas, Artistic Director of Celebrations of the Winchester Hat Fair spoke about the Festival which is Britain's longest running Festival of Street Theatre and Outdoor Arts to be held in Winchester from 1st-4th July. Although I have a daughter living in Winchester I was not aware of The Winchester Hat Fair but after listening to Sian I definately want to go and experience the fun and atmosphere the Festival creates. I love the quote from Lyn Gardner Theatre Critic of The Guardian.
"One of the great pleasures of Street Arts festivals is that they make you slow down and put the wonder back into everyday life. Wherever you were  in Winchester at this years' Hat Fair, you could hear the distant sound of laughter- as if the whole town was smiling together" I think I could do with some of that!
For more information visit

The second speaker Wayne Hemmingway MBE founder of a new festival to be held at Goodwood 13th-15th August. Again a festival with a difference and you can find out more about it on

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on June 21st and I look forward to seeing you there, meanwhile I hope you give yourself time to relax. I went on a Nordic Walk in The New Forest with Karen Gutteridge on Thursday morning and I felt great after it even though it was raining at the start of the walk. I shall report more about Karen and her business in the next Blog.


Friday, 7 May 2010

Biz-Fast Breakfast Forum

This morning I joined the early morning traffic on the M3 to attend The Biz-Fast Forum organised by 'everyWOMAN' sponsored by Nat West Bank and held at the RBS building in Farnborough. It was an early start as the meeting started at 8-30am but much to my amazement the traffic flowed and I arrived at
8-15am. The main attraction for me to get up earlier than usual was today's speaker Emma Wimhurst. I have heard Emma speak before but she is so inspirational and has such a lovely sunny disposition that you can't help but have your spirits raised and leave the event motivated and feeling positive. We certainly needed that today after the fiasco of the election! I also met up with my good friend Karen Gill one of the founders of and some very interesting women business owners. I love going to these events as I always learn something new and get reminded about what I should be doing! I suggest you read Emma's book BOOM! 7 disciplines to CONTROL, GROW & ADD IMPACT to your business. It really is worth getting, I have read it and it is full of good advice. for more information on Emma visit her website . May I remind you about the NatWest everyWOMAN Awards. The closing date for entries is July 30th. These are very prestigious awards and well worth entering. You can either nominate yourself or a woman business owner who inspires you.
 Enter at

It's been a busy week for me as on Tuesday I was invited to attend the official opening of Pennington Chase at Oakhaven Hospice by Susan Hampshire. The expanded Day Hospice, therapy and outpatient services is the first stage of the redevelopment programme. Once again I was so inspired and moved by the committment of all the staff and volunteers who make Oakhaven such a friendly and happy place. I learnt that it costs three million pounds a year to keep Oakhaven going and 80% of that comes from fundraising events and donations. I hope that if any of you are thinking of holding a fundraising event to consider Oakhaven because every penny counts.

Don't forget to 'Get up, Dress up and Show up' if you want to succeed.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

On Tuesday April 24th we welcomed Janice Taylor-Williams to speak to The Wessex Women at The Cloud Hotel in Brockenhurst on how she started The Herald Magazine from her kitchen table and now has 4 Directors.

It was an enjoyable evening with lots of chat and laughter. Sharon and Gloria Holloway told us about the new Hair Salon they have opened in Southampton called Vintage Hair Salon. They have had endless set backs with builders etc but have persevered and look forward to welcoming any members to the Salon.

We welcomed some new members to the Network on Tuesday who enjoyed the evening and commented on how friendly everyone was and supportive of each other. As most of you know I am passionate about encouraging women to reach their full potential and to help them to build up their confidence. There are so many success stories of women who have started thier businesses in a small way often from their homes and their businesses have grown into multi-million businesses. If you are ambitious and want to grow your business and be competetive you must have self belief and persevere. My favourite saying is 'It takes a long time and alot of hard work to become an overnight success'. I can vouch for that! To me networking is ongoing and although you might think one meeting is a waste of time the next time you make the effort to go to a Networking event you might meet that very person who can give you the opportunity you have been waiting for.

On Wednesday having had only 4 hours sleep I dragged myself to the Albert Hall to attend the IoD Annual Convention. I always attend this event when I can and come home inspired and motivated by the speakers. It was rather overshadowed this year by the General Election but you will be interested to hear that the two most inspiring speakers were Dame Kelly Holmes the Olympic sprinter and Emma Harrison CBE of A4e. The only two women to appear on the platform that day! Both have been successful in their chosen careers and both of them gave the same message. You must have self belief, persevere and never give up.

We all complain that we don't have enough time to do everything we want to do. How often do we say 'I haven't had time' I'm guilty of this too but I am reading a very good book 'How To Be Smart With Your Time' by Duncan Bannatyne one of the 'Dragons'. I can thoroughly recommend it.

I hope I will find time to write regular Blogs and keep you all in touch with different events you may be interested in going to or recommend books for you to read etc. I look forward to seeing you at one of our meetings.


Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Inspector Calls

It was a beautiful sunny morning in the New Forest and Spring was in the air. The Cloud Hotel was busy as usual when two of our guests who had stayed the night checked out and announced they were AA Inspectors. I then have to stop what I'm doing to sit and hear the comments and report of their visit. I'm always slightly apprehensive at the start of the meeting even though I have been the Proprietor of The Cloud Hotel for 34 years. However on this occasion I couldn't have experienced a more positive and encouraging meeting and in no way did I feel intimidated. I was able to express my concerns about the star ratings and how they are perceived by the general public. Bed and Breakfast establishments, Guest Houses, Public Houses and Inns used to be awarded Diamonds which differentiated them from Hotels that were awarded Stars. This was changed a few years ago and now everyone is awarded Stars but are judged on which type of accomodation they are offering. For example a Bed and Breakfast establishment can be awarded 5 Stars but based on Bed and Breakfast facilities likewise for Guest Accomodation and Public Houses etc. I feel this is confusing to the general public. The Cloud Hotel has 2 Stars based on its facilities as an Hotel, for example we don't have a lift or night porter but the Inspectors gave the Hotel a first class report for service, cleanliness, food. efficiency and to my friendly and loyal staff and increased The Cloud Hotel's Merit score to 84%. The Merit Score is not often recognised by the general public but it is awarded for the quality of the services offered by the Hotel as opposed to the facilities. I was delighted to have such positive feed back by such professional and encouraging Inspectors. Having good feedback lifts everyone's spirits and encourages everyone to do even better in the future. Seeing the sunshine, the fresh green shoots on the trees and the foals grazing outside the Hotel as well as a newly born baby donkey going by staying close to its Mother while people are trying to get a photograph of him adds to the surroundings and atmosphere of a very good day at The Cloud Hotel.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Wessex Women's Network

Welcome to the first posting on the Wessex Women's Network business blog.  We will be regularly updating the blog with news, events and items of interest for all of our members to view.

If you would like to become a member please view our main website or follow this link.