The same story can be told in many ways ... and we're telling our story a lot of ways just at the moment. Yesterday was very much a "write the story the way xxxx wants to see it" day - here are three articles written by myself and Lisa in the last 24 hours.
When we opened a niche computer software training centre in our home, people thought we were crazy. But we were a roaring success, and now we've opened a high quality business hotel for our delegates and others visiting Melksham. We're delighted to have done well in the Wiltshire Business of the Year because it confirms our sanity, for the benefit of customers, local economy, and ourselves.
Well House Manor is a high tech training and conference centre, and business hotel, in Melksham, Wiltshire, which opened its doors late last Autumn.
Proprietors Lisa and Graham Ellis have been running niche training courses in the town for the past five years. Over that time, guests have grown more demanding, requiring en-suite facilities where previously a shared facility was adequate, and broadband internet access day and night where previously a telephone line would have sufficed. So Lisa and Graham purchased a grand old home set in 3/4 of an acre of grounds, five-minutes' walk to town, and converted it into a high quality hotel - probably the best in the town.
"We believe in investing up front in high quality products" says Graham. "That way, our customers can enjoy facilities greatly in excess of what they would expect to find in a regular hotel, and we have a facility that's easy for us to maintain". For example, the fabrics used throughout the bedrooms for headboards, bed throws, pillows and valances, come from Agua Fabrics. Not only do they look classy and provide a sophisticated touch to the rooms, but they're also treated to repel germs and dirt - tough, and more hygenic, yet much less work for our staff than other alternatives.
During the week, Well House Manor is open for Well House Consultant's training courses, for other business events, and for business hotel guests who are in town to visit local companies. At weekends, they offer a great base for couples to explore the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, ranging from the Cotswold village of Lacock just four miles to the North, through Longleat and the Marlborough downs to the Stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge. And the bus right outside the door will get you into the heart of the city of Bath in just 30 minutes.
The hotel has five large en suite bedrooms and two meeting rooms that can be used for conferences.
My husband Graham and I have a small business, but due to our computer use, we can perform very professionally. We happen to be up for a Wiltshire Business of the Year (Small Business category) award, and I feel that our productivity through computer use has put us up for this accolade. (We don't know yet if we've won...awards ceremony is March 2, but we are either winner or runner-up.)
We train in open source computer languages. People come to us to learn for various applications, and their needs run the gamut...as well as operating systems they need to be taught on, or are familiar with. So we have training machines that cover the possibilities. People can request Macs, PCs and Linux-based computers to use while they are with us. Many need to test on several platforms as well. But what surprises people the most is that the courses are all run through our Mac server. And another Mac projects the course manuals to help them follow along in their books. And all admin is done on Macs.
Because the business is so well placed on the Internet and have been around online since the mid 1990s, and the fact we train in computer-related languages makes us almost targets for those trying to break through our firewall, we can see attack attempts, but they don't affect us the way they would do for PC owners. Nor is our email infected with programs that autorun on PCs. Oh, we get thousands of spam emails, even with filters. But they don't bring us down.
Graham writes his own course materials on a Mac using vi on Unix. He runs programs such as PHP, Perl, Ruby, Tcl (a vast number of others as part of courses he teaches), and then takes screen captures of the results. He emails me his text and image files and I import them into FrameMaker on my G4 running Classic. I then print out manuals, up to 12 at a time, often more than 300 pages each.
Most of our advertising comes via the web. Graham uses the technology he teaches by writing Internet-related programs. I add to the process by coming up with the design and writing HTML, often through Dreamweaver.
We are able to produce all of our own print advertising projects in-house. Mainly I use InDesign for printed material. We take all our own photography and download pictures straight from our cameras on to the Macs. I edit the photos in Photoshop, and if they go up online, I put them through ImageReady to streamline them further. For small-run brochures, we print them on our own laser printers. For larger runs, I save the files to pdfs and email them to a printer...or a publication for media use.
My computer receives and sends faxes and takes messages when I can't answer the phone. And because this is done through the computer, I am emailed pdf files and MP3 sounds, so I get the faxes and phone messages anywhere I can check my email.
And I can check my email anywhere because of my Treo phone, which also holds my date book which synchs with my computer.
I also handle all the administration of the office and bookings. Through FileMaker I can take course bookings and hotel reservations, send out confirmations and invoices. And because everything is on the database, everything else is related. I take a booking, the information is entered and then uploaded to our web site to update all the information soon after it's entered. FileMaker can also go mobile and when it's synching my date book, it's also updating selected files.
When one of us is away from the office, we are still in touch. This becomes especially important because I am sitting in my admin office down the road from the hotel where the courses are held. My web cam gives an instantaneous update of visual activity. And staff can communicate needs immediately through Skype.
Our printing abilities are probably the most impressive. I can print SuperA3 posters on photopaper in high resolution. Premium-grade printable CD-roms can go through my Epson printer, and with the jewel case inserts printed on the Xerox colour laser, you'd never know they were done 'by an amateur'. We can print a limited quantity of colour brochures and flyers on card stock which enables us to give a professional look with constantly updated information.
Which brings me back to our manuals...because we can print and bind them here, we use FrameMaker to take individual modules and put them in book form. This adds an automation of adding a Table of Contents and an Index, and auto-updating chapter numbers, pages numbers, etc. With this flexibility, we are not tied to one manual with set modules for each course and quite easily modify books (and module contents) on the fly. This, I feel, is our biggest advantage and makes this small business head-and-shoulders above large training companies.
What about the hotel? Aside from bookings and billings and inventories and correspondence that were virtually already in place for the training side of the business, there's not much in addition. Sadly, the keycard entry system we use is PC-based, as is the printer we use to print our logo on the blank cards. And those are two areas I curse...they only work half the time; needing rebooting.
We use our computers so much for the business that even though this has become far too wordy, I know there'll be something else I've forgot to mention as soon as I hit the 'send' button.
If I can add one more thing; on the personal side: The computer, and more pointedly, the Internet, has done a great service for a cause my husband has been involved with for the past year and a half. Our train service was slashed dramatically and as a result he started a website to try to promote some attention. Through this site and a recent E-petition that's gathered a lot of media interest, it appears the service might be reinstated. To say that computers are our life is an understatement. And I am really proud of his work and what the Internet is able to achieve. One person *can* make a difference. Not so much Mac-related, but everything was done on a Mac ;o)
Oh, and one more thing...we happen to have (really, shear coincidence!!) a delegate on a course today and tomorrow from Future Publishing.
Did you ever wonder what we did in our spare time? (written 2007-02-20)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesG200 - Well House Consultants - Course and Company information 
Public courses - Python, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Lua, Tcl, C and C++ - autumn 2013 and through 2014 - (2013-09-13) 
Whether you have programmed before or not, we can teach you Python - (2012-11-25) 
Want to escape the Olympics? Learn to program in the countryside! - (2012-07-23) 
How we make our programming courses both time and cost effective - (2011-04-09) 
Telling you something about us in just one line - (2011-03-15) 
Perl, Python, PHP, Lua, Linux, and more - and business hotel too. Menu for 2011 - (2010-12-31) 
Public and private courses - subjects available for 2011 - (2010-12-29) 
01225 707126 to 01225 344596 to 01225 899360 - Well House Fax - (2010-08-26) 
Well House - the pictures - (2010-08-16) 
Respecting our customers anonimity - (2010-06-29) 
Blowing our own trumpet - (2010-05-23) 
Well House - Mission and Policy summaries - (2010-05-13) 
Current Public Courses - (2010-03-05) 
New numbers, as 01225 707126 and 01225 709638 are being retired - (2010-03-04) 
Courses - Melksham and elsewhere - until the end of April - (2010-02-16) 
Training comparison to QA Training, Learning Tree, GB Direct. - (2010-01-02) 
Happy new decade - and course and hotel prices for 2010 - (2010-01-01) 
I almost put the bins out this morning - (2009-11-16) 
Are you wanting to learn PHP? - (2009-09-08) 
Training, Open Source computer languages - (2009-08-13) 
Ten years in Melksham - looking forward to ten more. - (2009-08-11) 
Koulutus, Open Source tietokone kielillä - (2009-08-09) 
ldning, Open Source dator språk - (2009-08-09) 
Opplæring, Open Source datamaskinen språk - (2009-08-09) 
Uddannelse, Open Source computer sprog - (2009-08-09) 
Opleiding, Open Source computertalen - (2009-08-09) 
Formação, Open Source computador línguas - (2009-08-09) 
Ausbildung, die Open-Source-Sprachen - (2009-08-09) 
Formazione, Open Source computer lingue - (2009-08-09) 
Formación, de los lenguajes de código abierto - (2009-08-09) 
Formation, des langages Open Source - (2009-08-09) 
Learn a new programming language this summer. - (2009-08-06) 
First courses for 2010 - (2009-07-10) 
Learning PHP, Ruby, Lua and Python - upcoming courses - (2009-06-11) 
A (biased?) comparison of PHP courses in the UK - (2009-06-07) 
Spring Sprung - (2009-04-05) 
httpd, Tomcat and PHP course enhancements - (2009-02-14) 
A short introduction to our courses - (2008-05-03) 
PHP Techniques - a workshop - (2008-04-26) 
Spring and early summer training courses - (2008-03-15) 
Languages compared - based on developer community size - (2008-03-05) 
Well House Consultants Training and Hotel - 2008 news - (2008-01-01) 
What makes our courses special? - (2007-12-02) 
An email update for past guests and delegates - (2007-10-08) 
2008 course schedule - Perl, Python, PHP, Linux, Java Deployment, Ruby and more - (2007-08-23) 
A Reference - (2007-03-08) 
Open Source Courses and Business Hotel - products and prices for 2007 - (2007-01-01) 
Open Source training from Well House Consultants - (2006-01-14) 
2006 - Making business a pleasure - (2006-01-01) 
2005 - Come as a student, leave as a friend - (2005-12-31) 
We are about Open Source programming courses in the UK - (2005-11-24) 
Most popular courses - (2005-08-19) 
Fire drill - (2005-04-12) 
How to get the best from your supplier - (2005-03-03) 
Maximum number of trainees on a course - (2005-01-18) 
Mobile Office revamp - (2004-08-13)G503 - Well House Consultants - Newsletter and publicity 
20 minutes in to our 15 minutes of fame - (2013-01-20) 
TV show appearance - how does it effect your web site? - (2013-01-13) 
Sales and Marketing - adding advertising to the product - (2011-07-11) 
Journalism 101 - (2011-02-11) 
Points West to Belfast - (2011-02-01) 
Another toot of the trumpet - (2010-07-16) 
Microblogging services - Plurk, Twitter, Jaiku and more - (2010-01-05) 
`Of Course` is back! - (2009-08-31) 
What should a web site cost you? - (2009-06-16) 
Building down expectations - (2009-04-09) 
A Presentation about our company - web and PHP - (2009-02-23) 
Dealing with The Press - (2008-07-06) 
Spam Filters ... are working! - (2008-06-11) 
A time to update pictures - (2008-01-03) 
An update on the West Wilts show ... - (2007-07-30) 
Too many instructions, too much detail - (2007-02-23) 
One Thousand Posts and still going strong - (2006-12-18) 
Of course I'll tell you by email - (2006-10-25) 
Keeping customers informed by email - (2006-05-26) 
New look to website - (2005-10-30) 
Final courses of '05 coming up .... - (2005-10-08) 
Targetted Advertising - (2005-06-05) 
What they are saying about our OF COURSE newsletter - (2005-04-16) 
Posting 1000 letters! - (2004-09-21) 
PHP - onwards and upwards - (2004-09-14)G912 - Well House Consultants - Photography for the Web 
That spec is a kingfisher ... - (2011-08-21) 
How far is something pictured from the camera? - (2011-02-15) 
Catering in Syracuse, the Saigon Cafe, stolen images and Christmas - (2010-12-25) 
Hotlinked images onto adult material sites - (2010-07-23) 
Re-using our pictures - (2010-01-21) 
Leaping dog, Leaping horse, copyright of old masters - (2009-06-20) 
Trowbridge - a missed opportunity? Melksham - into the breach? - (2009-06-08) 
Comparison - with and without flash - (2008-11-20) 
Old pictures and comparisons - (2008-08-01) 
What colour is the season? - (2008-03-08) 
Ongoing Image Copyright Issues, PHP and MySQL solutions - (2008-01-14) 
Using PHP to upload images / Store on MySQL database - security questions - (2007-10-19) 
Drawing hands on a clock face - PHP - (2007-05-19) 
What shape is your shake? - (2007-05-15) 
Themes for the web site - (2007-05-13) 
PHP Image upload script - (2007-03-21) 
Display an image from a MySQL database in a web page via PHP - (2006-11-22) 
My projector has a photo-id - (2006-07-31) 
PHP Image viewing application - (2006-04-01) 
Merging pictures using PHP and GD - (2006-01-13) 
Keep that image small - (2006-01-03) 
The relevance of the hairy woodpecker - (2005-12-28) 
Published Photographer - (2005-01-30) 
What makes a professional photographer? - (2004-10-23)M350 - Well House Manor - project diary 
A course is not just for a year - its for a career - (2013-02-20) 
Expecting nothing, but prepared for anything - (2013-01-05) 
National TV - Melksham - 9th January 2013, Pre-alert. - (2012-12-27) 
The Accidental Hotelier - (2012-08-24) 
Keeping our hotel looking like new, by using our gained experience - (2012-03-09) 
The changing Hotel and Bed and Breakfast business in Melksham - (2012-01-18) 
Well House Manor - the next six years - (2010-10-24) 
Well House Manor Hotel - on plan for 2009 business guests - (2009-01-03) 
A lot has happened in a year - (2007-05-31) 
Three big events - TWSW, Business of the year and the police - (2007-03-03) 
Rail trouble forced me to buy hotel - (2007-02-07) 
Snagging - (2006-11-24) 
A tale of a wee wall - (2006-11-19) 
Before and After - Well House Manor - (2006-11-18) 
Brand new hotel and training centre, Melksham - (2006-10-22) 
Where quality costs less - (2006-10-15) 
Open - (2006-10-09) 
Coming together. - (2006-09-29) 
4 weeks to go - (2006-09-11) 
From the Manor written - (2006-09-07) 
Fitting our bathrooms - (2006-09-04) 
Hotel, Melksham, Wiltshire - (2006-08-24) 
Above the parapit, Well House Manor - (2006-07-28) 
Naming Rooms - (2006-06-24) 
Seeing the bricks for the trees - (2006-06-11) 
We can offer a room, but we can't operate on a dog - (2006-06-05) 
The eye - (2006-05-31) 
Residential - (2006-05-15) 
Planning a hotel refurb - an example of a Gant chart in PHP - (2006-05-14) 
Sympathetic development - (2006-04-09) 
Well House Manor - (2006-01-21) 
Hotel novelties - (2006-01-05)
Some other Articles
The Psyche is all wrong.Playing old gamesWhy use BBC code not HTML?Telling a story in different waysInjection attacks - safeguard your PHP scriptsLawrence Webb's Melksham Taxi serviceWriting terms and conditions for conferences and other eventsBehind the scenesStraight from the .jar