These are a few of our favourite… holiday destinations!

The countdown is over, your suitcase is packed and your out of office is on – all of this can only mean one thing… holiday time! Everybody loves a little trip away – including us lot here at Webb Associates – and with summer 2016 coming to an end (sob), we’ve been reminiscing about our all-time favourite holidays. Turns out, between us we’re a pretty well-travelled bunch.

So if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next getaway, we’ve got plenty of recommendations…

  • For anyone dreaming of an action-packed ‘holiday of a lifetime’, how about a four-week road trip through the USA? Oh wait, correction, a four-week road trip through the USA in a Mustang convertible! That’s exactly what our Senior Account Manager Jax did for her honeymoon a few years back, visiting San Francisco, Yosemite Park, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Orange County, San Diego and Las Vegas along the way! (Phew, pause for breath). “From strutting our stuff on Muscle Beach, watching our first baseball game at the San Diego Padres and getting congratulated by every single character in Disneyland – there really are too many amazing moments to recall.”

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420

  • Maybe you’re more of a ‘kick-back and relax’ kinda holidaymaker? Well then why not a fortnight in Barbados or Antigua? Account Executive Sophie and PR Assistant Vickie both agree that the warm climes and reggae sounds of Barbados tick all the boxes for an idyllic vacation, while our Senior Copywriter Paul has fond memories of a romantic honeymoon spent lazing on the white sands of Antigua: “The sea is a glistening shade of turquoise I’ve never quite seen elsewhere!”

 

  • For any adrenalin junkies out there, Account Executive Georgia’s fun-filled trip to Florida – including all of its world-famous theme parks and attractions – could be right up your street. “We went to the Halloween Horror night at Universal Studios and there were people dressed up in scary costumes with real chainsaws terrorising and chasing us! We even got to step inside famous horror houses from films including The Purge and Freddy vs Jason, where live actors would jump out at you and squirt you with fake blood – it was one of the creepiest yet best things I’ve ever done!”

Beth Thailand

  • Asia is another popular choice in the Webb Associates office. Account Manager Becks loves the diversity on offer in lively Hong Kong: “One minute you’re amongst skyscrapers and the city’s hustle and bustle, and the next you’re in the middle of a traditional Chinese park surrounded by mountains, temples and the smell of traditional Chinese street food.”

 

  • Meanwhile Account Executive Beth has a soft spot for Thailand: “We spent three days getting soaked with water pistols in Bangkok as part of their Songkran New Year celebrations where they have a huge water fight in the city, followed by a week in rural Thailand volunteering in a village with elephants.”

Chloe Lanzorate

  • If you want a destination that’s a little closer to home and perfect for some winter sun, Account Executive Chloe thinks Lanzarote is the place to be – in fact she’s already booked up to return later this year! “It’s very relaxing and hot in Lanzarote and last time we went we had a lovely trip to a wine cellar where we had lots of fun wine tasting. I also got a selfie with a camel!”

 

  • Or if you’re an animal lover like our Copywriter Claire, you may want to learn more about her unique holiday in Norway, where she went Orca whale watching… “Ever since I watched Free Willy as a young child, I have been obsessed with killer whales so my mum and dad took me on holiday to watch them from a boat on the fjords in Norway. It was November and absolutely freezing but it was so worth it as we got to see the whales swimming around together in their pods and some of them came really close to the boat.”

Annabelle - Szczawnica in Poland

  • Looking for a city break? Speaking from experience, Senior Account Manager Annabelle recommends living out of a backpack and interrailing through Europe for a few weeks – her top picks include Florence, Prague, Budapest and Krakow.

 

  • Meanwhile Senior Copywriter Sian thinks everyone needs to visit Barcelona: “Barcelona really does have it all – lively nightlife, a beautiful beach, stunning parks and a laid-back lifestyle. It is also home to the breathtaking Sagrada Família cathedral which is something everyone needs to see in their lifetime. It is without a doubt my favourite ever city.”

 

  • And if you want to stay in England, Account Executive Amy can point you in the right direction. Her favourite holiday was her honeymoon in Flushing, a lovely coastal village in Cornwall. “The weather was so good you’d have thought we were abroad. The location is so picturesque and we didn’t use our car once as we were able to go for coastal and countryside walks with our dog straight from the front door – or take a small ferry across the water to Falmouth and beyond for more exploring. This meant we could indulge in the odd glass of wine at lunchtime – perfect!”

The Great British Bake Off

Amy's Marvellous Creation!
Amy’s Marvellous Creation!

The TV series The Great British Bake Off, which re-starts this month, is a PR person’s dream.

It’s a good idea, brilliantly realised, with – most importantly – a life that extends way beyond the final credits on the TV screen.

The product is great, of course, with real people showing real skill, two demanding experts, light relief from a comedy duo, the nostalgic appeal of a lovely village fete and an element of jeopardy each week as someone is eliminated, speckled with flour and sniffing back tears.

Bake Off also needs disciplined management. Filming starts – at Welford Park near Newbury, Berkshire – in April, and lasts for 10 weekends. So by the time the first TV episode shows, the winner of the whole series is already known. That information must not leak.

The BBC market their programme well though, from a busy online presence, to the spin-off programme An Extra Slice and from the carefully rationed Hollywood/Berry interviews to the books that accompany each series.

But where it really scores is with all the coverage that is basically nothing to do with the BBC; all those the Bake Off stories written by other people in newspapers, mentioned in tweets online, discussed on the radio.

Bake Off has grown as organically and magically as a rising loaf; from 2.77m viewers in 2010, to 3.95m in 2011, 5m in 2012, 7.35m in 2013, 10m in 2014 and an average 13.4m in 2015.

It was the biggest show of 2015, with 15 million people watching the Final. In fact, according to figures compiled by the Press Association, seven of the top 10 TV shows in Britain last year were episodes of Bake Off.

And as it has grown, it has become office gossip TV, with ever-larger numbers of people glued to the screen every week, and wanting to chat about what they’ve seen afterwards.

Social media and pretty much every newspaper and magazine is only too keen to get in on that conversation, anxious to find their own little exclusive, their own angle, their own twist in the tale.

And, yes, cake sells, of course, but then so do crockery and clothes – and yet the BBC shows The Great Pottery Throw Down and The Great British Sewing Bee, which on the surface have similar formulas, don’t look like they will have nearly the same clout.

That means that to a large extent it’s not the subject that’s important, but the way it’s presented. It’s the happily successful style of the show that makes Bake Off so big, that ultimately starts those conversations up and down the UK.

Or in other words, while your core product must be strong, it ain’t what you sell, it’s the way that you sell it. That’s what gets results…

We couldn’t resist getting in on the Bake Off action ourselves, so we’ve been round the Webb’s office asking our staff about their own baking Showstoppers.

 

Rachel: We love baking in our house! My kids have a repertoire of sweet treats that they like to bake for birthday/Christmas presents.

My favourite bake is Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Traybake, partly because it’s so quick and there’s lots to go round: you bung all the cake ingredients in the food mixer (no creaming/beating/folding in sight), tip in the tray and bake, then just pour over the lemon juice/sugar mix. I think it’s the only cake that everyone in my family likes.

But I’m probably better at pastry – chicken/turkey and ham pie is one of only a handful of meals I can dish up that everyone will eat (are you sensing a theme here?) and it’s great for using up cold meats.

 

Jenny: I’d like to be a star baker, as after August 7 when I get married I will literally be Jenny Baker! One of my favourite things to bake is profiteroles. They’re actually nowhere near as troublesome as people say.

It’s a more fun process than baking normal cakes as there are all sorts of elements involved; from creating the dough over heat, to dealing with the oodles of melted chocolate everywhere.

Top tip – once the baked profiteroles are out of the oven, stab each one with a sharp knife before leaving to cool. This lets the heat escape faster for speedier cooling, and also creates a convenient little hole to pipe the cream filling into later.

 

Chloe: My baking speciality is the classic Yorkshire pudding! The recipe is very easy and has three simple ingredients just flour, egg and milk (I use the same amount of each).

My secret tip is to make sure your oven is red hot and the oil is boiling before your pour your mixture in. And do not disturb them by opening the door!

The recipe and tips come from my dad, my local baking hero!

 

Sian: My speciality is vanilla cupcakes, filled with lemon curd and topped with yellow buttercream icing.

The cakes themselves are really simple to make – just a typical sponge recipe, I actually use Mary Berry’s. For the lemon in the middle, you just need a fine nozzle to insert it into the centre (but only a little squirt otherwise it can be too tangy!) … do this when fresh out of the oven and still warm. The buttercream also a Mary Berry recipe and, to keep in line with the lemon/yellow theme, I always put a bit of yellow food colouring into the icing.

Finally I usually a piping bag with an eight-star nozzle for my buttercream icing and then top with sprinkles/flowers or whatever you want to make them look pretty.

 

20160623_141942Amy: I don’t profess to being a baking guru but it is something that myself and my daughters enjoy doing together (they are five and two).

I don’t think that you can beat a classic sponge cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream with vanilla. The secret to our tasty cakes is the eggs we use from our hens and ducks, who roam our garden.