Olympics have started but West Dorset is still open…….
It is great seeing all the Olympic competitions and fun taking place in Weymouth and Portland just a long the road from us.
It is equally great for us to be on the doorstep of the olympics and our visitors can pop over to Weymouth for the day and have a wonderful experience and then return to the peace and tranquillity of the Jurassic Coast to watch the sunset. The restaurants in Weymouth are great as they serve a lot of fresh locally sourced seafood and the golden sands of Weymouth beach provide a superb backdrop for the sailing.
There is no traffic congestion or crowds between Lyme Regis and Bridport. We are open for busy and our big screens in the bar are showing all the top events in London and Weymouth.
Yesterday there was a race against the weather forecast to gather in the hay bales on the farmland adjoining Highlands End and just as the last bales disappeared into the barn there was a brief shower and then we returned to sunshine……..once again a brilliant outcome for the farm and the holiday park
A couple of years ago we purchased a boat for the family – our first boat after living by sea all my life!! – and we have been allocated a mooring in West Bay Harbour. Today we are going to be shown how to safely and securely moor the boat; should be an interesting experience……….
I often think we should find somewhere for our visitors to store their boats when on holiday; it is never easy in the car park or the touring areas.
Coastal Path and Beaches re-open
As many of you have probably seen from the press reports there was a tragic accident in Dorset this week and a young woman was killed by a cliff fall near Burton Bradstock. All of us involved in tourism were shocked by the incident and the family and those involved will have everyone’s sympathy
The Dorset cliffs are very similar to the majority of the cliffs around the UK which regularly fall into the sea and the ever changing images of the Jurassic Coast are the reason why so many visitors come each year. There are many warning signs of taking care when enjoying the coast and we have raised the profile of the warnings in our Receptions.
We had an interesting time making a contribution to the debate to ensure the authorities recognised the importance of tourism and the need to reopen paths and beaches as soon as possible where it was clear that there were no suspect cliffs to cause a danger.
The footpaths and beaches have had restrictive use for the last 48 hours while the experts checked the stablity of the cliffs and from today we are open again – the message is; please enjoy our fabulous coastline, but take care with all water and beach activities.
With the current sunshine, the beaches, the parks and the local pubs and restaurants will hopefully be busy. There are still a few offers available over the next few weeks – please check our website
On a personal note it was a big event today with the hatching of our chicken eggs………the chicks are about 12 hours old in the photo.
Summer is here…
This week should be the start of the summer season – the whole industry is relieved to see that the weather has improved and we have lots of sunshine. The parks have suddenly become more lively and our guests are arriving with smiling faces and looking forward to spending some time on the beach.
The local farmers are also jumping into action with the mowing of the grass and I am sure that there will be some long working days completed over the next few days bringing in bales of hay.
The local community in Chideock know when the summer season is really with us when the field known locally as 16 acres opens up and the colourful tents can be seen across the valley. Although the lanes are a little busier, it is such a good sign for the local economy.
One of our ex-Caravan Owners who now lives in the village sent me this image taken in 1966 of Golden Cap Holiday Park and it shows how caravanning and camping has changed and the parks have had to adapted to changing expectations. Many people who live in the village have fond memories of holidays on the park or in the area and these links give them an understanding of importance of a summer holiday in West Dorset to many people.
This week I attended the 6-monthly meeting of the Eype Church Art Centre and the art exhibitions and mixed use of the church is proving to be very popular. Visit the website to see ‘what’s on’ next.
The new layout of the shop and coffee area at Highlands End has settled down and we are very pleased with the response from our visitors – it has completely changed the atmosphere in the retail area and we are already having ideas for 2013 to further enhance the layout. We would like to provide more tourism information to enable our visitors to more easily make plans to explore the surrounding area. The interactive DVD is providing information on the Jurassic Coast and attracts a lot of interest.
Lets hope that the weather forecaster’s are correct and the sunshire will continue and I fully support Malcolm Bell, VisitCornwall, who last week asked the weather team to be a little more postive in their forecasting and place more emphasis on the good weather and to stop ending the forecast with a negative comment………
Brussels and Olympic Torch in Chideock
Busy week with a trip on Eurostar and an overnight stay in Brussel to attend a workshop on TOURISMlink a european initiative to create links between smaller local tourism enterprises to improve their competitiveness. If successful the new system will use modern ICT to enable information to flow among service suppliers, customers and traditional tourism enterprises.
All sounds very exciting and at coffee time it was very interesting to hear about another initiative which is improving the development of destination management organisation which vary greatly across europe in both approach and objectives and with a mix of private and public organisations.
I return late Wednesday after travelling on 3 different trains from London to avoid flooding east of Bournemouth and had a very interesting experience attempting to order a Subway toasted chicken roll on Southampton Station………it was lucky that I had to wait in a queue and listen to the others before it was my turn……..
Vanessa persuaded me it was a good idea to stand in the rain with the team from Golden Cap and watch the torch relay pass through Chideock – it was great honour for the runner and she was amazingly cheerful and with a big smile considering the horrible day……….but I was not so impressed by the need for such a procession of vehicles and police motorcycles who may be more experienced at dealing with the crowds in London rather than our small village.
Hopefully, the weather will improve for the Olympics and I am confident that it will be an excellent sailing event in Weymouth. I only hope that all the publicity given to the level of traffic congestion and crowds will not frighten away our regular summer visitors; we will see over the next few weeks if the sun come out.
Many of you will have seen the reports of the flooding around Bridport on 7 July and we are rapidly recovering from the impact.
I was passing through West Bay and noticed the flood water entering the harbour and stopped to take a photograph just in time to take this dramatic image of a fishing boat turning over. It really demonstrated the power of the water and it must have been so upsetting for the fisherman who owned the boat and witnessed the incident.
Earlier in the day, we found that the entrance to Larkfield was also flooded and many of our owners were unable to leave the park for 36 hours and had to wait for the water to go down. Our tractor managed to get stuck in the rising water and had to be rescued by the Land Rover Defender – we often question why we keep a Land Rover on the fleet and the decision has been justified over the last 7 days. The defender you see is very flexible and with the crew cab it is capable of transporting people in very difficult conditions which is a part of our emergency planning and it has a winch for rescuing tractors!!
With the peak season about to start we are now waiting for the good weather and hopefully my next blog will have some good news……….
We attended the Golden Cap Parish Council meeting to listen to the debate about the planning application for the park and we were very pleased with the direction of the debate – obviously the Councillors have a number of questions and many relate to the impact of the park on the traffic in the village which took up most of the time – overall the proposals will reduce the traffic but we cannot please everyone.
12 members of the public attended the meeting and asked questions or gave views of the application and 3 of them remained in the room to hear the 3 councillors have a relatively short debate lasting about an hour and then decided to adjourn for more information. The Chair of the Council is very much a ‘working’ councillor and is giving the application plenty of time and consideration.
Hopefully, we will be able to satisfactorily answer all the questions raised and move towards a decsion in the autumn. The current weather conditions have really highlighted the need for indoor facilities on the park……
2 July – where is the sunshine?
I watched Spain lifting the Euro 2012 Cup and I don’t mind them winning the football, but can they not share some of their sunshine with the UK and, in particular, Dorset. Over the last few days we have seen reports about flood and windy weather across the country and it is not great for visitors and the enjoyment of holidays.
We are now less than 3 weeks away from the busy period and we have worked for the last 10 months to get ready for the main season and hopefully the weather will improve to make all our work worthwhile and thousands of visitors will enjoy Dorset.
If you have smart phone, please look up the new Visit-Dorset App which covers the whole of Dorset to give you lots of information about our glorious county. I have waited over 25 years to see tourism information for the whole county and it is slowly happening – perhaps within the next 5 years we will see ‘Dorset’ working together for the benefit of our visitors. I am still hopeful!!
I am pleased to say that the new team is rapidly moving forwards at Golden Cap and I am sure that our customers will see many benefits over the next few weeks. The changes have given an opportunity for a new approach and Vanessa is very pleased to see James taking such an interest in the park which she originailly developed over 30 years ago. They are concentrating on improving the service in the Reception and raising the standards of cleanliness and the quality of the grounds.
This afternoon we circulated the customer feedback for June to all our teams and once again the results are very encouraging – ok, it is not possible to please everyone all the time, but we are pleasing most of the people most of the time with scores above the national average. Some good suggestions from our customers this month and tomorrow we will looking to see if we can find some ‘quick wins’ to raise our service.
I had a day off last week and visited Goodwood Festival of Speed and viewed some of the most expensive and powerful cars in existence and at the other end of the extreme learnt more about energy saving engines and electric cars – soon we will have to install pitstops on the parks for the charging of cars…….which raises lots of questions and proves once again that parks have to keep evolving as trends change.