The White Stuff

Christmas in June and baking ingredients in the wash – Has the world really been turned upside down just because the weather is warm and sunny in England?

Untitled-1Yesterday was National Leon day. Yup, that didn’t really mean anything to me either until I googled it. It turns out that Leon is an anagram for Noel……. Can you see where I am going with this? Yes, we are talking about the ‘C’ word in June. Now anyone reading this blog who knows me personally will be floored, as I dislike Christmas with a passion. I have some good reasons for my festive negativity, mixed with a hefty dose of ‘scrouge’. I am repeatedly told that my festive outlook will dramatically change and I will grow to love Christmas as my toddler becomes more aware of this magical time. (Yeah right). I just don’t think people realise how much I do actually dislike it.

But exactly what has this actually got to do with housekeeping in June I guess you are probably asking? Well, the concept of having a successful small business (which is kind of where Leon day comes from-crafters having to start creating festive merchandise in time for December sales) is all about the planning and looking ahead to landmark dates throughout the year. By talking to our clients, we are finding that this is not just a small business thing and that a successful household needs planning all year round too. At home I have a white board with our meal plan written on it for the week. Am I super organised? Well actually this weekly practice was born out of weakness for all things ‘take away’ and tiredness from working stupidly long hours in a corporate role. I would arrive home, peer into the fridge uninspired, and in an attempt to deflect the thankless task I would ask my husband what he wanted for tea. After 60 minutes procrastinating and a few raised voices, we would often plump for a ‘quick-and-easy-but-nutritionally-poor’ meal, or worse still, a takeaway. To reduce costs (and waistlines), now I write a menu for the week and then do my weekly shop based on that menu. It stops us buying masses of exciting looking carbs or veg that go to waste and takes the decision making away at a time when we are possibly likely to make poor choices.
I have to be honest, I was mocked for my white board when I introduced it years ago. Mocked by both my mum and my friends. It is tucked away in the utility room, my dirty little secret, set out with tape gridlines and lots of magnets. Nowadays though, on a Tuesday night when my mum arrives for ‘Grandma’ duties, she checks the board to see what delights we have in-store for her this week. And it’s the same friends who now do exactly the same (albeit not everyone has a white board) to keep this part of their evening simple and on track, allowing them to actually enjoy their free time without arguments over what is for tea (we are northern so it really is ‘Tea’).

Top Tips:

We wouldn’t be British if we didn’t talk about the weather. The fantastic sunny days that we are currently experiencing usually bring out questionable fashion choices for a few, and the whitest of white T-Shirts for the masses. For some though, a white T-Shirts also mean unsightly sweat marks that linger long after the sun has set. In the war against yellowing ‘whites’ try adding a spoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda to your washing machine (just pop it in the drawer with your washing powder) and just like the sun disappears as soon as you get your suncream out, sweat marks and other unsightly stains will vanish as if by magic. Did you know that ‘Bicarb’ can also be used to fluff up your towels too. Use in place of fabric conditioner and you might just be surprised.

You could leave the laundry to Bright & Beautiful if you prefer. We don’t just provide domestic cleaning services – we can help out with all manner of housekeeping tasks including Ironing and Laundry as we do for a lot of our clients. Click here to make an enquiry about how our services could free up your time.

The ‘Superhero’ in my life

As we celebrate fathers day in the U.K. there will be many cards and gifts being given stating ‘best dad’ and ‘world’s number 1’ but there is something that you should know – my dad actually has a superpower!


My dad is a true superhero in my eyes. Not just for the most obvious reasons like; lending me money in days gone by, supplementing my driving lessons with practice sessions in my aged Ford Fiesta on icy January roads, or attending every sports match I played in (often shouting encouragement from the sidelines in a very embarrassing way). My dad also did the other standard ‘dad’ things like casting his opinion on my chosen ‘going out’ outfit, and telling me in no uncertain terms was I to go collect a kitten from the farm up the road and bring ‘that ferrel animal’ back to his house. (I still have that same kitten, going strong at the grand old age of 14, and his brother from the same litter lives with my parents too). What you should really know though, is that my dad actually has a super power. One that he managed to keep hidden for about 13 years before his hidden talent was exposed by my grandma to the world. My dad was a policeman, you see. He spent his days collecting crime scene evidence long before the CBS network cashed in on the (not very glamorous) world of DNA testing, footprint casting and finger printing CSI sleuths. But as an old school copper, and having started his career as a police cadet, he also had his fair share of parading around in his ceremonial uniform etc. and presentation had to be ‘en pointe’.

Thirteen years or so of being married, my dad had managed to keep his superhuman ability a closely guarded secret until my grandma came round for tea one Sunday.  A proper Sunday roast was a regular, weekly, family gathering  for us and I have lots of fond memories around our dining room table laid out with the Sunday best crockery, a gravy boat and ‘proper’ napkins. My dad however, will remember one particular Sunday as the day that his cover was blown. We had migrated into the front room for the Coronation Street omnibus and, as most of us had watched the episodes anyway during the week, there was a little chat going on. My mum had brought the ironing board in and set up in the corner of the room to crack on with the shirts for the coming week. It started off innocently enough as my grandma is quite conservative, and will not get involved in other peoples business as a general rule. On this occasion my grandma just dropped into the conversation that she didn’t often see my dad (her son) ironing. My mum looked up, surprised, and replied that this was probably because he wasn’t able to iron. My dad looked a bit shifty but his ego took over and he had to defend his position. Yes, my dad was forced to admit to my mum (and his mother-in-law as both my Grandmas were there) that for 13 years he had been withholding vital information. You could even say he had been perverting the course of justice by not offering up relevant facts in due course. My dad is actually really quite impressive at ironing. He earned his ironing stripes due to the precision required for his work shirts with epaulettes that he used to iron as a bachelor. Anyone who can iron like my dad can iron, is a superhero in my eyes. Needless to say, my dad has been ironing in their house ever since.

Top Tips from the boys

Having seen and heard a lot of stereotypical gender related content in the news and on social media in the run up to Fathers day, we naturally considered our client base here at Bright and Beautiful in Chorley and noticed that over half our clients are in fact men. Does this mean that men are worse at housekeeping than women? No, and that nugget of blatant sexism is a conversation for someone else to tackle on a different day. What we do think, is that both men and women are getting more savvy with how they spend their precious few hours of leisure time and are choosing to let us look after their home and housekeeping so that they can concentrate on their family and friends. Regardless of your gender, you can not buy happiness. But, by getting some help with your housekeeping, you  definitely free up some of your time to help you pursue the things that make you happy.

The other ‘daddy’ in my life, is my husband. He is a brilliant dad and not one for spending hours folding clothes when he could be having fun with our daughter. So when I spoke to him about this weeks blog he was insistent that I shared his favourite clothes folding hack. He said that if there was one thing that he could go back and tell his  student self about ‘adulting’, it would be the 2 second T-Shirt folding hack which you can catch in this short video. Happy folding!

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads who can iron, and of course, also a very Happy Fathers Day to those that can’t iron, or choose not too!

As Safe As Houses

Keeping the smallest members of our household safe can be a real challenge, but one client had a simple solution…

private padlock imageAs we offer bespoke housekeeping solutions, the only real way to ensure the service we offer reflects the needs of a potential client is to visit them at home. I really enjoy this part of my job as I love to meet new people, (and often) their family and pets too. Needless to say, you never quite know what you will encounter when you are invited to tour a home, as we are invariably shown the rooms that other guests do not see.
A few weeks ago I had been invited to quote a family home, around tea time, not very far from where I live. I was greeted at the door by a lovely man who let me know that everyone was out except him, and invited me in. It was a modern new build property on a lovely quiet estate, tastefully decorated and clearly a family orientated home. We began our tour around the neat and tidy home, and he showed me every nook and cranny. (By the way, I don’t really need to see the cupboard you keep your cleaning supplies in although most people like to show off their collection as proof that they do actually clean!)
There were quite a few rooms, and I was making notes on my clipboard as we go round so that I could provide a structured quote for the client. We were chatting away and I had mentioned a few things about the way we work. After the family bathroom, we reached a regular interior door which was bolted shut and my tour guide paused, raises his eyebrows and said ‘Oh you don’t need to see in there’, blushed and moved on. Hang on….. you have shown me the interior of your wardrobe (very neat!), the inside of your fridge (clean and methodical), yet this seemingly normal white door that has a huge silver bolt at the top corner, is out of bounds? The architrave had been chiselled out to make way for such a big bolt at the top, and my 5ft tall best friend would have struggled to reach the bolt as it was positioned at the very top of the door. I am feeling a little uneasy now, almost as uneasy as when I had my toes nibbled by someones pet ferret whilst quoting last year. Are the contents of this room suggestive of 50 shades of grey? Does he have a stalkers picture wall dedicated to a single celebrity female? Maybe he is into time-travel? We continue but I have to say, my mind keeps flicking back to that room, and the reason for such a big bolt.
We finish the tour and as we are headed back down stairs, and I am just recapping which rooms the client wants included in the deep clean and which will also be included on the regular cleaning schedule. To check, I say, as we approach ‘THE’ door, ‘So we are leaving that room completely for now?’ The owner turns to look at me, with a very sheepish look on his face and dramatically reaches up to the bolt. ‘Well you could give it a deep clean I guess’ he says, throwing open the door, to reveal his Ironing room.  ‘I am so embarrassed’ he goes on to explain, ‘its so messy in here, there are clothes everywhere and our ironing isn’t very good. We just keep it bolted because we are so worried that the toddler will hurt himself in here as you hear such horror stories about accidents in the home. We probably go a little OTT as we worry about safety a lot.’ And just like that, I gained myself a new ironing contract and dissipated the mystery of the bolted room.

As national child safety week comes to an end, remembering this encounter made me consider how many different obstacles the small people in our lives have to navigate in our homes and the masses of products on the market that we have available to help us safe guard them. Some of which are impractical, expensive and not necessarily as effective as a nice big silver bolt on the top corner of a door.

Top Tips

They say that the best form of prevention is to remove the danger, but if we think about household cleaning products often this isn’t practical. If you can’t eliminate, then substituting for something less harmful is the next best thing.
When your next in the supermarket, consider picking up an Eco-friendly alternative. Bright & Beautiful pride ourselves on achieving perfect results with eco-friendly products without the use of bleach or other nasties. Eco-friendly doesn’t mean reduced cleaning power. Think about where you store your cleaning products – are little hands able to open the cupboards? What about paws and jaws? Family pets are often as inquisitive as children. There are lots of different types of cupboard safety locks available to help if you are unable to store your cleaning products out of arms reach.

Children often copy us through imaginative play, a toy vacuum may be a better alternative if your little person likes to help with the household chores so that they can feel involved without encouraging them to reach for the something that they may hurt themselves with.
If you would like to see the results that we can achieve with our Eco-friendly cleaning products in your home, or even if you have an ironing room you would like to show us, feel free to contact Bright & Beautiful (Chorley) for a no-obligation quote visit or take a look at our Bright & Beautiful website.

We all have to start somewhere…

There is a social media post being shared and re-shared at the moment that keeps popping up in my news feed, and it is getting hard to ignore. You know the type of thing; a social rant, written eloquently enough that everyone ‘likes’ and reposts, secretly wishing they had been the originator, but equally relieved that they only have to wade through the few hundred responses / ‘likes’ as a re-poster. (The author probably is currently contemplating going to live in a cave somewhere to avoid the keyboard warriors that often appear as standard when someone expresses an opinion.) The post questions why celebrities selling a new wonder product, fad diet, gambling website, shopping channel rubbish / crazy invention garners immediate credibility through their status when family and friends showcasing a new venture experience much more guarded predictions of success and support.

The overall message is that every business has to start somewhere so please acknowledge and support those crazy sounding ideas from those not famous but equally hardworking people around you. Even if ‘support’ is just clicking the ‘heart’ button on f/book or sharing a blog/meme from your friends / family / the-person-on-the-train-who-you-randomly-chat-to-in-the-morning-whilst-trying-to-work-out-where-their-gorgeous-shoes-are-from. It is true though – we all do have to start somewhere, and sometimes that first blog post can take ages to pluck up the courage to write (ahem). Maybe that person has agonised over the angle and colours of their first instagram shot, desperate to get it perfect (guilty). Yes – even the Finch bakery ‘huns-with-buns’ started out with 0 followers. The point is that they have ‘started’. They have taken that step and it probably is tangled up in the beginnings of turning their dreams of a better future into a reality of some kind. Surely, just that brave step alone deserves acknowledging, and our support.

In a previous corporate life, I have done my fair share of networking and it has never really bothered me. Most people who (really) know me, will probably agree that I talk a little too much, and the inquisitive part of me loves to meet new people – I really am a naturally social person. I love positive interactions, much to the exasperation of my husband when I explain that ‘no I didn’t know that person’ on leaving the supermarket. However, formal networking has not really been that high on my agenda over the past 9 months because, well, running a small business seems to take up a lot of my time and to be truthful, the google results for local networking events were rather uninspiring. But as we have already established, I talk too much, and I talk to my friends. One thing led to another, and my good friend ‘M’ who happens to be ‘Mr Network’ said oh I know someone you should meet. Enter Stage left, my first ‘proper’ networking contact, who invited me for coffee on the back of an email from Mr Network. Wow. What a productive hour I spent and left with; a head full of ideas and information, invites to various events, some credible marketing intel, and a warm fuzzy feeling given that we both have very strong values that guide our customer service. (Oh and the coffee was great too!)

Fast forward to Thursday evening last week and I managed to make it to my first proper networking session as a small business owner. I am embarrassed to say that my expectations were low, it was something I thought I really needed to get on with, raise my profile I guess and perhaps hand out a few business cards. WRONG. What a bland misconception I had about this fantastic group of people. (I feel a little guilty about my earlier thoughts on Networking). The lovely lady I met earlier in the week had been thinking about me over the past couple of days and had introduced me to a number of people over email she thought might be able to help me out in various ways. Some of those introductions attended the meet up on Thursday night along with loads of other interesting, helpful, supportive people. It felt like a door to a secret club had been opened to me. Although its not secret, its just hard to know where to start. (They do say that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’)

Networking is a powerful weapon for any small business owner. I knew this in my heart of hearts before I set off in my Bright & Beautiful branded vehicle on that sunny Thursday. So why on earth hadn’t I made it part of my business? If I am being totally honest, I didn’t really know where to start.  On Thursday, I hoped that people would be friendly to a new face. In reality I got so much advice, tips, general chat, pizza, and a short discussion about George Orwell’s ‘1984’. I can’t really remember when I last enjoyed myself at a Networking event. Small businesses that help other small businesses are a force to be reckoned with. Business owners that support other business owners strengthen the local economy too. I am a convert!

At Bright & Beautiful we offer the opportunity for busy people to buy their time back. We are not a standard cleaning company or an ironing service. We offer a fully managed, bespoke Holistic Housekeeping service that can be tailored to your needs with the added reassurance of a Trusted Team, Strict Security, and we provide all our own Eco-friendly cleaning products. Sound great? We are! However, everyone has different needs so what should you look out for when you are searching for someone to keep your chores in check?

  1. What kind of level of service do you need? Will you be around to speak to/supervise the housekeeper whilst they are in your property? Do you want the responsibility of employing someone directly? If the answer to these questions are ‘I just want someone to just take control over the whole service so I don’t have to worry about anything’ then you should look for a fully managed service. If this is not you, and instead you are happy to work directly with someone, you can often find that local facebook sites or word of mouth are a great place to find people offering these services on a more casual basis.
  2. How important is Security & Insurance to you? When I mention the strict security procedures we have in place, the fact that we DBS check our staff and the high levels of insurance we offer, most people agree that they are important to them. Worryingly though, a high number of people admit to me that they hadn’t automatically considered this a top priority when researching service providers. Always ask questions and make sure you are comfortable with a companies policies in these areas.
  3. Does it bother you if different people visit your home every week to do the same job? Everyone has a clear expectation on this. Some people are just happy for the job to be done well every week regardless of who does it, and some people like the continuity of having the same person visiting their home every week. If you like continuity, steer away from using an agency as staff are not directly employed by the agency. If you choose a more casual arrangement such as a self employed cleaner, think about checking how sickness and annual leave will be covered – will you be left without a service or are there plans in place to refer work on? This is one of the reasons that we clean in teams of 2 or 3 so that if one person is off sick, you still receive a consistent service as the rest of the team know your property and the way that you like things doing,

Remember, always ask for references and check out reviews. If you do not feel comfortable with someone, say ‘no thanks!’ and ensure that you avoid putting yourself or your property in a vulnerable position.

Note: This first blog post is dedicated to all my super supportive friends, but in particular M&S. Not obviously the premium clothing & food retailer but instead, a couple of people providing me with a very premium friendship. Friends who made this blog happen by suggesting it in the first place, showing me the ropes, and then providing the introductions which has led to the content too. Its not just friendship, it’s a M&S friendship.


Disclaimer: The content of this blog belongs to Impalah Ltd. trading as Bright & Beautiful. All the content has been written by me unless otherwise stated. If you are sharing any material from my blog, please credit me as the source.The views and opinions expressed within these posts are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of any other company T/A Bright and Beautiful although we do all share the same Code of Values. Anyone undertaking the tips or recommendations should do so after considering the options and consequences, and by their own choice, under their own volition.