Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Christmas

This has been a busy year for the Wessex Women's Network and thanks to Jan Hoy we have listened to a variety of very interesting speakers.

We raised £1160-00 at the Christmas dinner in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and appreciated the generous raffle prizes donated by our suppliers that helped to boost the funds.

On December 4th I attended the NatWest everywoman awards and as always it was an emotional and inspirational event. This was my 6th year as one of the judges for this event and every year the entries inspire and motivate me. There are some amazing women out there who have overcome adversity to develop some very successful businesses.

Our next meeting is on January 22nd at 6-30 --7pm. I have decided as from January we will enjoy a 2 course dinner at £20-00 to include a glass of wine, a speaker and coffee. To try to please everyone we will have a main course and dessert one month and a starter and main course another month so we will alternate it.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, happiness and success in whatever you do.

In the New Year 'Do something every day that will bring you to a better and brighter tomorrow'.
Jennifer Gayle

Hope to see you next year


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Ten Year Celebration

I founded the Wessex Women's Network ten years ago! Those ten years have just flown by and to celebrate I held a dinner on November 19th at the Cloud Hotel. We were entertained by Liam White who sang a selection of Michael Buble, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra songs. This young man has an enormous talent and I look forward to seeing his career develop, I think we will hear alot more of him in the future.

On Wednesday 27th November I will be taking some of my staff to the Felbridge Spa Hotel to attend the Business South Excellence Awards as the Cloud Hotel is a finalist in the small hotel of the year category. We are up against some stiff competition but just getting to the final is an achievement for my loyal and hardworking staff. Fingers crossed.

Christmas is just around the corner and the Christmas decorations go up at the Cloud Hotel on December 1st. Mike Dacombe of Inspiration in New Milton is responsible for the Christmas decorations and every year they are stunning. There are still a few places left in our Encore Restaurant on certain days for our pre-Christmas lunches so if you haven't booked it's still not too late.

I attended the Light up a Life service at Winchester Cathedral yesterday for Naomi House and Jack's Place Children's Hospice. It was a very humbling experience and the courage shown by the parents of these children and the care given to them by the staff of Naomi House makes you realise just how lucky you are and teaches you to stop complaining about such trivial things that happen in one's life.

On Friday December 13th we are holding a Christmas Dinner and all proceeds are donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. This is the one event of the year that you can bring your husband, partner or friend to the Wessex Women's event. The Highcliffe Junior Choir will once again start the evening  with Christmas carols followed by a three course traditional Christmas dinner and wine. I look forward to welcoming you to this event and hope to raise as much money as possible for this worth while charity.

Christmas is a very hectic time especially for working women but take care and enjoy it.



Friday, 11 October 2013

Catch Up

It's time to catch up with you all as I haven't written a blog since July! Time just seems to fly by these days and before we know it Christmas will be here and another year gone! We have had some entertaining and interesting speakers at the meetings this year thanks to Jan Hoy who seems to find a variety of speakers all with a different story to tell.

The Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning held at the Cloud Hotel raised £500-00 for Macmillan Cancer Support and we will be holding our annual Christmas Dinner on December 13th at the Cloud Hotel for all members and their husbands, partners or friends. All proceeds are  donated to Macmillan Cancer Support so book early to avoid disappointment as places are limited. Highcliffe Junior Choir will start the evening with Christmas carols and a three course Christmas Dinner will follow. The cost is £30-00 to include a glass of wine and coffee and mince pies.

It was 10 years ago I founded Wessex Women's Network and during that time I have met some lovely women, watched some members grow their businesses and develop their confidence. To celebrate our 10th anniversary there will be a dinner on November 19th with entertainment. I look forward to seeing you there.

I was in London yesterday judging the NatWest everywoman annual awards for successful businesswomen. This is my 6th year judging these awards and I am always amazed and inspired by what some of these women have achieved even as young as 25. The award ceremony will take place at the Dorchester Hotel in London on December 4th and tickets for this prestigious event are available at If you would like to meet some really inspirational women this is the event to attend.

The Cloud Hotel is the perfect place to meet up with friends or business colleagues and relax in one of our cosy lounges or the conservatory and enjoy morning coffee [latte, cappuccino, espresso or filter coffee] or afternoon tea. Our clotted cream teas are delicious and we now serve homemade strawberry jam with our homemade scones and clotted cream.

We always have alot of fun at the Wessex Women's meetings and it is important to surround yourselves with people who make you laugh as life is too short to be anything but happy.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Women 1st!

It will soon be August and it's been a while since I wrote a Blog for Wessex Women's Network. I'm delighted to report that the Cloud Hotel has been very busy which means I have been very busy too! I hope you have all been able to enjoy this beautiful weather and long may it continue before winter sets in again!

I'm sure we all send our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son. As many of us are Mothers and Grandmothers we all know how it feels to give birth to our first child and that wonderful feeling when the baby is first put in your arms and you realise you are a Mother!

In June I attended the Women 1st Conference at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square. Women 1st was launched in 2009 to develop women into leadership roles in hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism. As always at these conferences there were some inspirational women speakers telling their stories of how they have succeeded in their careers. I particularly enjoyed listening to Liz Bingham , Managing Partner, People UK and Ireland, Ernst and Young. Liz is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusiveness and has been determined to create an environment where people from all backgrounds can succeed and flourish. I also enjoyed listening to Susan Gambardella, Vice President,Global Account Team, Coca-Cola Refreshments who had flown in from the USA for the conference. Both of these women were an inspiration and their stories encouraged everyone to realise how great their potential is if they take opportunities and have the right attitude in life. The evening concluded with the Shine Awards that were presented by Matt Dawson of Question of Sport fame and he brought the same humour to the evening as he does on television.

The charity cream tea held at the Cloud Hotel as part of the Hampshire Fare Food Festival on Sunday 14th July was a great success and we raised £958-00 that was shared equally between Jack's Place at Naomi House and the Variety Club Children'sCharity. It was such a beautiful day that many people enjoyed their tea outside in our secluded garden that is a mass of colour at the moment. Linzi Luker donated the scones, Wrights Dairies donated the clotted cream and 3663 donated the strawberry jam. We had several raffle prizes donated by local businesses and Judy Goodlet of Radio Solent fame donated one of her 60 beautiful cushions that she is making for charity to celebrate her 60th birthday.

The next charity event to be held at the Cloud Hotel is the World's Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday September 27th  in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Please come along to enjoy the company of your friends and to help raise alot of money for a very worthwhile cause.

August 7th is the next date for your diary all details are on the website. I founded the Wessex Women's Network 10 years ago and we will be having a special dinner to celebrate it's 10th birthday on Tuesday November 19th. I hope you will be-able to join me in the celebrations and hopefully you will put that date in your diary too.

Finally 'When the going gets tough the tough ask for help' Michael Heppell

That is what women's networking clubs are for, helping and supporting each other in good and bad times and I hope some of you feel you have been helped by members of the Wessex Women's Network during the past 10 years and have had fun as well.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Keep Smiling

The Wessex Women's Network met last week and although there weren't so many members there this time [probably due to half term] we had alot of fun and enjoyed each others company as usual. There is always a lively atmosphere at our meetings and alot of laughter.

As you know I am passionate about encouraging women to reach their full potential and I have watched one of my members Jane Pitt Pitts develop her confidence and business over the years. Jane offers an extensive range of handmade glass dishes, jewellery and sailing trophies. Jane attends the meetings on a  regular basis and always brings samples of her work to display for other members to view or even buy

I continue to do my public speaking and last week spoke to the lively and very friendly Hebrew Ladies Luncheon Club in Bournemouth. I enjoy telling my story in the hope that it will encourage other women to fulfil their dreams and goals and to reach their full potential.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Tuesday June 25th when Colin van Geffen will give a talk on 'The Red Arrows' I understand from Jan that this is a very interesting talk so I'm looking forward to welcoming you to the event.

We have had some lovely weather this week so hopefully summer is here to stay! The sun always lifts everyone's spirits and people smile more!

My final thought for today. Ladies the most important thing that you wear is your expression! You are never fully dressed until you smile and a smile not only makes you feel better but everyone around you. It's cheaper than a facelift and means the same in any language so keep smiling even if the sun isn't shining, YOU can still shine and sparkle.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Little Book of Adversity

Once again Jan Hoy booked us an entertaining and interesting speaker when the members of the Wessex Women's Network heard David Sullivan talk on 'Life as a Shepherd' on Wednesday April 24th. These meetings are always well attended and it is so nice to see so many regular members attend each month. I think as well as listening to some very interesting speakers we have a lot of fun at the meetings and have developed many friendships over the years. I founded the Wessex Women's Network in 2003 and we will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary later in the year. Details to follow once I have a date.

Talking of dates we are holding our annual charity cream tea at the Cloud Hotel on Sunday 14th July at 4pm and the all proceeds will be shared between the Variety Club Children's Charity and Jack's Place at Naomi House Children's Hospice. Please put it in your diary, booking is essential and we hope to attract alot of people and raise much needed funds for both the charities.. Linzi Luker who is one of our members will donate the scones as she does every year.

I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Women 1st's  book 'The Little Book of Adversity' at the Cafe Royal in London on Monday 29th April. It has taken Sam Mercer, Sharon Glancy [the founder of Women1st] and Karen Roberts  2 years to write and is a practical guide to supporting women in the workplace. There are lots of tips and advice for women and I have the honour of being one of the case studies in the book along with some very influential women. Jo Fairly the co-founder of Green and Black's chocolate told her story on how she and her husband had founded the company. The evening was very well attended, alot of networking took place and the champagne flowed. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by everyone and I left the event feeling inspired and motivated once again! The book is not on general release just yet but I will let you know when you can buy it if anyone is interested.

As I write this the sun is shining and I've noticed how everyone's spirits have been lifted. I really do think the better weather is here at last. Our secluded garden is a very peaceful place to enjoy morning coffee or afternoon tea with family and friends. We are now serving Taylors of Harrogate coffee, the same as they serve at Betty's Tearooms in Harrogate.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Wednesday May 29th. The speaker is Richard Burton who is a salesman and the title of his talk is Perfect Perfect!! Something us women are all trying to be!

I came across the following quote from Winston Churchill which I thought was very appropriate in these difficult economic times.

'Success is not final, failure is not final, it is the courage to continue that counts'

Enjoy the sunshine


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Summer Time?

With the weather being so cold and unpredictable it was very apt to have Trevor Guymer as the speaker at the Wessex Women's Network at our March meeting. Trevor is a meteorologist and climate expert from Southampton's National  Oceanography Centre. He explained to us about the interactions between the the oceans, atmosphere land and ice. Apparently waves and storms are always a risk for coastal communities all over the world as well as those working at sea. It was interesting to hear how the oceans both moderate and drive climate variability. You could hear a pin drop during his talk as it was so fascinating. It was a full house and the Wessex Women are very seldom that quie

I attended the re-dedication of the updated Buckler's Hard Museum by Lord Ivar Mountbatten on March 26th. It was bitterly cold with a biting wind but I warmed myself up by going round the museum that is well worth a visit. I have lived in the New Forest for 38 years and had no idea about the history of Bucklers Hard. It was also interesting to see Sir Frances Chichester's yacht Gypsy Moth which was moored in the river.

One of the charities the Cloud Hotel supports is Vitalise and 3 times a year we give the Carers of Alzeimer's sufferers a night out and treat them to dinner. Last Thursday 19 people came from Netley Waterside House and had an added surprise as David Bonney Magician and member of the Magic Circle entertained them with some wonderful magic.

Easter was cold but dry which was a bonus and even the sun came out just to let us know it is still around. I was lucky enough to have my whole family with me this Easter, all 12 of them and we did manage a long walk in the forest although the wind was biting cold and we were all pleased to get back home to the warm. This time last year we were all sitting out in the garden and enjoying barbecues! 

For the second year running the Cloud Hotel sponsored the Napkin Folding competition at the Salon Culinaire held at Brockenhurst College and I have just returned from judging today's competition. It is always a pleasure to see young people enthusiastic about their chosen career and to be encouraged by their tutors to do their best. I am very passionate about encouraging young people to train and go into hospitality and help to raise the standards that are much needed in certain areas of the industry.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Wednesday April 24th when David Sullivan will be speaking about Life as a Shepherd. I look forward to welcoming you to this event which promises to be another very interesting talk and again quite topical after how this cold weather has affected the farmers and their flocks.

Business is tough for everyone at the moment and not helped by the weather but don't lower your prices to compete with your competitors. It devalues you and sends a message to your customers that you are prepared to reduce your prices at any cost to the business.

'It's a funny thing about life: If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it"  Somerset Maughan

Although it's hard to believe it is officially summertime so keep your fingers crossed that we will soon be enjoying some warmer weather.


Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is a day for women all over the world to first of all to be proud of being a woman and also to give each other support. I hope you are having a good day and doing one good thing to support a woman you know either in business or just personally. Wishing all the members of the Wessex Women's Network a life of good health, happiness success and respect.


Thursday, 28 February 2013

It's Magic

Last night members of the  Wessex Women's Network were entertained by Dave Bonner and Martin Middleditch and what a brilliant evening it was too. Dave is a member of the Magic Circle and was assisted by Martin. They told us the history of magic as well as amazing us with some of their magic tricks. They really lifted our spirits on a cold and gloomy evening and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It is so important for us women to get out and have some fun especially at the moment when everyone seems so depressed! We definately need some sunshine to cheer us up. It's only 3 weeks until the clocks go forward and hopefully Spring will be here with a hot summer to follow. You have to stay optimistic or you wouldn't get up in the morning.

On Monday evening I attended the Fellows Dinner for the Institute of Hospitality at the Landmark Hotel in London. I am actually a Fellow of the Institute but I can still wear a skirt! I find it so disappointing that these events in the hospitality industry are still so male dominated. Us women have a long way to go before we are on an equal footing with the men and are recognised as a force to be reckoned with. However it's onwards and upwards and never give up is my motto.

Business is tough for everyone at the moment but when the going gets tough the tough get going and it's the survival of the fittest. It's an opportunity to take that small step towards achieving something you never thought possible so ladies get out of your comfort zone and take that first step towards achieving your goals. It takes courage but if you never do it you will never know what you might have achieved.

I'm off to the ballet tonight. I'm going to see the English National Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. It's one of my favourite ballets with fabulous music. My ambition was to be in a ballet company and the nearest I got to my dream was to appear many years ago in Sleeping Beauty as a rat with the Royal Ballet Company when they visited the Mayflower Theatre! They used to use children from a local dancing school as extras in those days and I was teaching ballet at a dancing school in Southampton at the time and being small myself I was able to join the children as a rat! 

Finally remember in these difficult times

Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.

The daffodils are out so Spring must be on the way.

Til next time


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Photos in Hampshire Life

I expect you are surprised to read another blog from me only a week after I posted my last one but I have some news for you. Hampshire Life have published the photos of some of us who attended the Christmas Dinner held in December at the Cloud Hotel in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and I thought you would like to know.

Today was a lovely sunny day and everyone's spirits were lifted and people began to leave their homes and come out for lunch and tea. Hooray!

Today's quote;

'Go as far as you can see and when you get there go farther'

Until next time


Friday, 18 January 2013

A New Year

I can't believe I wrote my last Blog for the Wessex Women's Network 2 months ago. Time just flies by when you are having fun. Christmas at the Cloud Hotel is always so busy and this year was no exception.The pre-Christmas functions started on December 1st so by the time Christmas Day came we all felt like eating fish and chips because we had served so much turkey but tradition is tradition so I still cooked turkey on Boxing day when my family came and joined me for our family celebrations.  

So here we are with a New Year a fresh start with endless possibilities ahead of us. The Wessex Women's Network started the year with a full house to hear Shay McConnon give us an inspirational and amusing talk on leadership and how to lead your people. It was a great start to the year and raised all our spirits on a dark and cold evening. And talking about raising your spirits I love this quote from Oprah Winfrey.

'Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher'

My spirits are always raised after an evening with the vibrant and fun loving members of the Wessex Women's Network.

Lin Clark came to the meeting for the first time and brought samples of the delicious marshmallows she makes. We all drooled over them, her company is called Little Delicious and they certainly were. We devoured them.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on February 27th when Dave Bonner who is a member of the Magic Circle is going to tell us about the History of Magic.

With romance in the air why not persuade your loved one to bring you to the Cloud Hotel for a romantic candlelit dinner in our intimate Encore Restaurant. Add a little sparkle to your life and enjoy a 4 course dinner £39-50 to include coffee and a small gift.

With all the doom and gloom reported in the media it would be easy to let your spirits drop but I'm always optimistic and I have discovered that positive people are a magnet for positive results so I'm looking forward to another busy and successful year and hope you are too.

'You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do'   Henry Ford

So get out there and do it and live your dreams.

Until next time and I won't leave it so long.