A Bondholder

A Bondholder's lament...

by David Hoppit, Bondholder and former Property Editor of the Daily Telegraph

Long, long ago, in an age when banks were trustworthy institutions, policemen kept order on the streets and television comedy shows were funny, a coterie of young men hit upon a brilliant idea – the communal ownership of holiday properties without the day-to-day worries of maintenance, dodgy foreign plumbing, strange local taxes and vandalism during periods when they were unoccupied.

They had a dream; and it went even further. By putting part of the money received into bricks and mortar and part into other investments, the return earned from the latter would contribute to management fees and overheads.

Cynics scoffed at the idea and said it was just TTS – toffs’ timeshare. They said it would never work. All of which reminds me a bit of Bob Monkhouse’s best line: “They all laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now!”

But work it did – as, almost 30 years later, over 40,000 Bondholders know to their advantage.

Which brings me to my first complaint: Where were you, HPB, when my kids were small, in the 1970s? We had to endure crowded package hols to the Costa Brava for £35 to £40 each (about two week’s pay all those years ago). This covered the cost of flights, hotel accommodation and grub.

On one happy occasion our hotel was still a hole in the ground so we were upgraded to the best in the area.

Everyone was broke, or nearly broke; and what’s more Harold Wilson’s government would allow us to take only about £30 out of the country. Mind you, even £30 took some saving for a junior reporter on a little local newspaper.

They were fun days, but they would have been much more fun if we had the opportunities now offered by those same young men in Newmarket – well, fairly young men. That is one of the great strengths of HPB – it has continuity of characters, even if partings are getting a little wider, waists a tad larger and hair a little greyer.

You may have guessed by now that I put my toe in the HPB-water in the early days. I had achieved the dizzy heights of Fleet Street property writer (ah, happy days when there was a proper Fleet Street) and so made a modest investment in HPB which, over the years, has more than proved its worth.

I also flatter myself that my weekly ramblings from distant parts of the globe helped in a small way to focus attention on the places people wanted to visit.

Our biggest problem has always been getting round to taking a holiday (“we’ll go next month” and then the next), but having Points in HPB disciplines us to take holidays, which is no easy matter for a freelance writer such as I am these days. No longer shackled to school holidays, however, our Points go much further and give us many more options outside of high season.

That brings me to another of our complaints. HPB holidays so suited our grown-up children (and their little ones) that our Points seemed to evaporate quickly every year. They especially enjoyed the HPB resort in Mallorca, which my wife and I have not visited. We know the island well, however, so I feel a holiday coming on very rapidly!

To be fair to the kids we have, over the years, enjoyed happy holidays in Duloe Manor, in Cornwall, as well as more exotic resorts such as La Gomera (my current favourite), Lanzarote and Madeira, which is a fabulous island for grown-ups.

Great things have been happening in the Hoppit household in recent months. We bought a little house in an enchanting village in the foothills of the Pyrenees where the locals speak a curious Basque French, which even the French have difficulty understanding. It’s not all that far south of the HPB village of Constant, which we have still to explore.

The kids (and grandchildren) love it there and go as often as they can, so for the time being mum and dad can have their HPB Points almost to themselves. Now it is I who has come up with a cunning plan.

Though still scribbling for anyone who will have me I find that taking a holiday, especially a short one, is very much easier these days. We are therefore, for a number of reasons, actively considering increasing our HPB investment… sufficient to qualify for the 28-56 day rule.

The downside is that I will have to be more organised to take all these extra holidays!

The benefits, however, would appear to greatly outweigh this disadvantage.

We will, for example, be able to go on any number of “spur-of-the-moment” (within 28-56 days) holidays, having to accept, naturally, whatever vacancies there happen to be at that time. This will enable us to spend more time exploring the UK resorts in particular, which we have tended to neglect.

Also, as they get older and eventually tire of flogging down to SW France for their holidays, the children will be able to take advantage of the situation as well. Thus, when I eventually conk out, instead of family interest in HPB ceasing and its value being added to my estate, the Hoppit clan will continue to enjoy holidays in the growing and widening worlds of the HPB.

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