Inspired by our magazine, these once landlocked readers made a radical move to a new home – and new business – by the sea. Words Katherine Sorrell.
On your first morning of running a B&B, it helps if you know how to work the cooker. ‘We’d only been in the property three days and it was one of those moments,’ recalls Heather Crane. More than a year later, however, she and her husband Chris are more than into the swing of running their business, Waters Reach Guest House in Christchurch, Dorset.
Londoners born and bred, the couple was living in East Barnet, Hertfordshire, where Heather worked as a manager at University College London, and Chris was a self-employed insurance engineer. ‘We both used to spend happy family holidays on the English coast, and have enjoyed escaping to the seaside ever since,’ says Heather.
‘We liked Dorset’s Jurassic coastline and used to explore the area while visiting our son, who was studying at Bournemouth University. We started subscribing to coast, and eagerly awaited each issue so that we could devour a bit of “virtual seaside”. We had always wanted to live by the sea, and liked reading the features about people who had made the move. In fact, it was these stories that inspired us to do the same.’
With the insurance business changing, Chris had begun to think about other career options, and then came the defining moment: Heather was at work when a man walked into the office with a bomb strapped to him. ‘After 7/7 as well, we just didn’t want to be in London any more,’ she says.
‘We’d been thinking about running a B&B, and one day we started to research properties on our phones, and found this place. It has five letting rooms as well as our accommodation, and we arranged a viewing. As soon as we saw it, we knew. We put our house on the market and got an offer straight away – it all happened very easily.’
The couple went on courses on how to run a B&B and about food hygiene, but soon realised it wasn’t all going to be so easy. ‘We’ve learned a lot since struggling to cook the breakfasts on that first morning,’ says Heather. ‘While it’s been hard work at times, we’ve had fun along the way.’
Once work is done, Heather and Chris love heading to the nearest beach and watching the sun set. They also walk and occasionally sail. ‘We feel right at home here,’ says Heather. ‘The novelty doesn’t wear off and we’re sure it never will.’
Originally published in the February 2015 issue of Coast magazine