14th March 2015 is a significant day for us as it marks the 10th anniversary of our move into Norburton Hall and the start of our holiday accommodation business. Ten years on, it’s amazing to look back and acknowledge how life has changed.
The greatest developments are associated with technology and the Internet. There are so many useful features including interactive maps to help guests find us easily, and with a business Facebook page, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter we have been able to build up an online presence and to get to know guests before they have even arrived. One of the most valuable developments for us was setting up and going live with our online booking system that automates most of the booking process and ensures that double bookings cannot occur (one of the biggest worries when providing accommodation).
However, one Friday 13th lived up to its ghoulish reputation when, despite the watertight booking system, I experienced every accommodation owner’s worst nightmare – guests arriving a month early! Whilst I was in a pantomime dress rehearsal, my husband showed a lady and her children into a two bedroom apartment, which the lady said she’d booked and that her husband would be arriving the next day. All seemed well… so far! Then on Saturday morning I answered the door and a man said he’d arrived to stay but seemed very worried as his apartment was already occupied by someone else. I quickly phoned my husband to find out who was actually in there and he told me it was ok, that it was the man’s wife. When I returned to the guest to say, “It’s ok, it’s your wife,” he replied, “No it isn’t, my wife is outside in the car!” After a little detective work we unravelled what had actually happened, and with a little juggling were able to accommodate everyone and to laugh about it. Moral of the story – always check the full details of arrivals!
Living and working on the Jurassic Coast over the past 10 years, we have seen changes in the landscape and the way people interact with it. It seems that fisherman have been largely replaced by holidaymakers. The small silver sprats that get chased onto the beach used to be the sign for fishermen to grab their boats and nets and row from the beach to make a bountiful haul of mackerel. Instead now we get newspaper articles about people throwing beached fish back into the sea without the thought of an easy meal!
‘Jurassic’ wasn’t a term we heard outside museums and the significance of the geology was mostly confined to classrooms and lecture theatres. We saw many geological field trips with people wearing hard hats peering intensely at the cliffs.
We’ve also seen newspapers proudly publicise details of filming locations used in the Broadchurch TV drama, followed up a few weeks later with stories about the dangers of Broadchurch enticing tourists to pose too close to the eroding cliffs.
Living in Burton Bradstock has also shown us how constant life can be too. Many local features retain names that have passed down over the centuries from generation to generation, like a field called Corncrake and the adjoining ‘Timber Bridges’, crossing the River Bride, are now made of metal.
As a Business Partner the name ‘Jurassic Coast’ is both evocative and useful. We have been able to draw on the wealth of information held by geologists to help us to understand how this landscape has evolved and to share the beauty and history of this amazing World Heritage Site with our guests and the world. It’s a lively group – ever willing to welcome new members and to share knowledge.
Thank you to the Jurassic Coast Trust for inviting me to write my first blog. More information about Norburton Hall can be found on www.norburtonhall.com