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If you could have dinner with four people, what would you cook, who would you invite and why?

I’m going to start with what I would cook, as I feel that’s the most important part because food is everything!!!

So, for Starters I would make Smoked Salmon with Prawns, with a Horseradish cream & Lime Vinaigrette, as it’s a light and tasty dish and will carry my guests through to the Main Course without filling them up too much.

For the Main Course, I would make a Katsu Chicken Curry, with a portion of sticky rice and some mixed salad. This is a very easy but delicious dish to make and you can’t really go wrong with a Katsu Curry!

Finally, for the Dessert (my favourite part), I would make a Salted Caramel & Belgian Chocolate Cheesecake. This is by far my favourite dessert of all time!! The Salted Caramel and the Belgian Chocolate just really compliment each other well. It’s not too rich either, it’s nice and light and won’t leave you feeling like you can’t move after filling up on your starter and main.

Now for the Invitations!

My first guest that I would invite would be Ryan Reynolds because he is absolutely hilarious! I feel like Ryan would bring a lot humour and sarcasm to the table.

My second guest that I would invite would be Blake Lively, as you can’t have Ryan Reynolds without his gorgeous other half Blake! I feel that Blake would bring sophistication and intelligence to our conversation.

My third guest that I would invite would be Ian Somerhalder because he does a lot of work for the environment, so I think Ian would be really interesting to talk too. Also, he was in one of my favourite TV series called The Vampire Diaries, Ian played a vampire called Damon Salvatore, so I’d love to get some of the inside gossip from him!

My fourth guest would have to be Maggie Smith because she is an absolute icon!! Maggie has starred in a plethora of films and series, from all the Harry Potter movies to Downtown Abbey, to filming a long side Peter Ustinov in the Agatha Christie Novel Death On The Nile. I think Maggie would bring a lot of wisdom and experience to our conversation.

Stay tuned for some exclusive Pro-Clean Banbury Top Tips!

 

By Courtney Barnes – Marketing Assistant

Top 10 Halloween Films!

Top 10 Halloween Films!

It’s that time of year again, where the leaves start to turn those beautiful Autumnal reds, burgundies and orange colours, and gently fall to the ground. When people decorate their front porches with spooky decorations, stock up on sweets and chocolates, carve pumpkins and dress up in terrifying costumes…yep you guessed it, it’s Halloween. Did you know that Halloween today is thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic speaking countries, some of which are believed to have Pagan roots. Here is a list of our Top 10 favourite Halloween Films at Pro-Clean Banbury Ltd:

  1. Hocus Pocus – Three witches resurrect after 300 years to exact revenge and begin a reign of terror on Max, a young boy who moves to Salem with his family, lights a cursed Candle of Black Flame.
  2. The Haunted Mansion – A family decides to visit a mansion that Edward Gracey wants to sell. However, they soon discover that the property is haunted by evil spirits.
  3. Harry Potter – An eleven- year-old orphan, discovers that he is a wizard and is invited to study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even as he escapes a dreary life and enters a world full of magic, he finds trouble awaiting him.
  4. Ghostbusters – When Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler lose their jobs as scientists, they start an establishment called Ghostbusters to fight the evil ghosts lurking in New York City.
  5. The Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack Skellington, a being from Halloween Town, finds Christmas Town and is instantly enchanted. The situation becomes riveting when his obsession with Christmas leads him to abduct Santa Claus.
  6. Casper – Carrigan Crittenden hires paranormal expert Dr James Harvey to exorcise the ghosts from her mansion. The situation changes when Harvey’s daughter befriends Casper, a friendly ghost.
  7. The Lost Boys – Lucy along with her two sons, Michael and Sam moves to a small town in California. Soon, the two boys are sucked into the mysterious and dangerous world of bikers, vampires and vampire hunters.
  8. IT – Seven helpless and bullied children are forced to face their worst nightmares when Pennywise, a shape-shifting clown, reappears. The clown, an ancient evil torments children before feeding on them.
  9. The Adams Family – When an evil doctor learns about an eccentric family’s missing relative, she hires an imposter to masquerade as him so that she can loot the family.
  10. Scream – A year after Sidney’s mum is murdered, more murders start to occur. She begins to suspect if these murders are related and tries to find the killer as everyone seems to be a suspect.

There you have it! Our Top 10 favourite Halloween Films of all time.

 

By Courtney Barnes – Marketing Assistant

Famous Hartlepool Names

In anticipation of the Hartlepool by election this Thursday (6th May 2021), I thought I would showcase some of the famous names (other than myself of course) who either hail from Hartlepool, or lived there for a period of their lives.  Who would have thought that there were so many !

  1. Andy Capp – Andy is a working-class figure who never actually works, living in Hartlepool with his long suffering wife, Flo. * Not a real person*
  2. Andy Linighan – Born in 1962, he played for his hometown club before scoring the winning goal with a header for Arsenal in the 1993 FA Cup final replay against Sheffield Wednesday.
  3. Janick Gers – Born in 1957, the guitarist was part of Hartlepool heavy metal band White Spirit before joining Gillan and later rock legends Iron Maiden.
  4. Savannah Marshall – Born in May 1991, Marshall became the first British female amateur world boxing champion in 2012 and also represented Great Britain at middleweight in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
  5. Sir Compton Mackenzie – The author of novel Whisky Galore and co-founder of the Scottish National Party was born in West Hartlepool in 1883 although it is believed his theatrical family left town within weeks. He died in 1972.
  6. Phil Middlemiss – He is best known for television appearances as bookie Des Barnes in Coronation Street and as David Buckley in Where the Heart Is.
  7. Jack Rowell – Born in 1937, Rowell coached rugby union side Bath before taking charge of the England national side and leading them to the semi-final of the 1995 World Cup.
  8. Sir Ridley Scott – While born in South Shields in 1937, movie director Scott is included after attending West Hartlepool College of Art before later finding fame as director of Alien and Gladiator. His early short movie Boy and Bicycle is also filmed here.
  9. Wayne Sleep -Although born in Plymouth in 1948, the future ballet dancer and choreographer moved to Hartlepool with his family in 1951 and spent ten years there. from the ages of two and 12 and still returns to town occasionally to train tomorrow’s potential stars.
  10. Jeff Stelling – Born in 1955, the Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday anchorman, Hartlepool United fanatic, charity fundraiser and former Hartlepool Mail journalist has never forgotten his roots and is an honorary freeman of the town.
  11. Wincey Willis – is a former weather forecaster and television presenter who spent part of her life growing up in town. Her first name is apparently short for Winsome. She also went to the same junior school as me (quite a few years ahead of me I must add), quite possibly her most important claim to fame.
  12. Guy Pearce – A star of Australian soap opera, Neighbours, Guy and his family lived in Hartlepool until he was four, when they moved ‘down under’. He is also known for his roles in films such as Rules of Engagement, Memento and LA Confidential.

This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure you will all be able to think of others who should be on the list.

Best Christmas Films EVER

Best Christmas Films EVER

Christmas is the perfect time for family, food, gifts, over-indulgence… and films.

If you are lucky, you will have some time off work over the festive period, giving you plenty of time to spend with the family.  However, when the novelty of that rapidly wears off (after all, we have all spent more time together than we normally would this year), there is no better way to escape than to curl up on the sofa and watch your favourite Christmas films.

So if Granny is snoring away in the comfy chair and grandad is telling you endlessly about how things were better in his day, or you just need a break from eating yet more turkey sandwiches, the film is there to rescue you.

So what classes as a Christmas film ?  This is a major bone of contention in the Pro-Clean office, with some saying it should be a Bond film or any version of Die Hard, and others saying it should be a smushy festive film that is guaranteed to bring you to tears during the opening sequences.

To help with that, I thought I would offer up my top 10 Christmas films, and give my review of each one to help you choose the best.  So here goes (in no particular order)…………

  1. Home Alone (1990) – Eight-year-old Kevin is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for France. At first, he is happy to be in charge, but when thieves try to break into his home, he tries to put up a fight.

Now the problem I have with this film is that Kevin is only 8 and is already showing psychopathic tendencies.  Not only does he delight in causing pain and misery to the would be burglars, he knows how to do it and has the skills to set up flame throwers etc.  I seriously worry for Kevin when he grows up.

  1. Elf (2003) – Buddy, a human, is raised amongst elves at the North Pole. When he discovers that he is not an elf, he travels to New York to search for his biological father.

I can’t be the only one who finds Buddy the most annoying person / elf in the world EVER.  He is constantly over cheerful and ridiculously enthusiastic in everything he does. Arghhhh.  I’ll still watch it though.

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – This film closely follows the Charles Dickens plot and is the story of how miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has his life turned around after he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

Now this is more like it.  From singing cabbages to the magnificent double act of Gonzo (the narrator) Rizzo the Rat with his pithy and sarcastic commentary, there can’t be a finer re-telling of this tale in existence.  Granted, Michael Caine can’t sing and is a wooden actor, but come on…… it’s the Muppets !!!!!!

  1. Die Hard (1998) – An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and many others, who have all been taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in LA.

The only reason that this is classed as a Christmas film is because it was set during the festive period, which is why many people don’t class it as a Christmas film.  They are all completely wrong of course and none of that matters as this is the plot style that all modern action films have, or should have followed since it was released.  Absolute classic of a film, with guns and explosions and one liners a-plenty.  ***Disclaimer – no dirty white vests were harmed during the making of this film.

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (2003) – A typically dark Tim Burton classis musical about a proposed merger between Halloween Town (run by the magnificent Jack Skellington) and Christmas Town (run by Santa Claus) that goes wrong.

I absolutely love the stop motion animation style of Tim Burton, with it’s accompanying dark music and backgrounds.  My main problem with this film though is that it is really a Halloween film and not a Christmas one.  That said, it is a masterpiece in animation, so we will forgive them.

  1. Gremlins (1984) – Plenty of Christmas presents come with instructions, yet none are as ominous as the following: Never expose to bright light, never add water and, crucially, never feed after midnight. Joe Dante’s horror-comedy turns a well-intentioned gift into a nightmare, with disastrous consequences.

Why would anyone in their right mind go into a dingy, dark, smoky basement shop and buy something from an old man who has clearly been smoking some strong stuff and has warned you not to buy from him?  Nevertheless, this is an excellent film (which I remember going to the cinema to see when it came out – #OLD) with some real comedy moments.  Who can forget the Gremlin in a blender moment, or the cinema full of them all singing New York, New York ?  A must watch film for any sensible minded person.

  1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Based on the 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by  Dr Seuss, it is the live action adaptation of the story featuring Jim Carey in the titular role.  The Grinch is a mean spirited green thingymabob who plots to steal all the Christmas presents from the residents of Whoville.  To cut a long (and rhyming) story short, he gets nicer and ends up enjoying Christmas.

Apart from the bit where he gets nicer, this is a great film which showcases the talents of Jim Carey perfectly.  Any resemblance between the Grinch and me is purely co-incidental – I’m not green anyway !

  1. Family Guy Christmas Episodes – Peter Griffin is the childish, overweight husband of Lois, with 3 kids, Chris, Meg (shut up Meg) and Stewie, and a talking dog Brian. Based in Quahog, Rhode Island, this is the tale of the dysfunctional family struggling to cope with normal life amid Peter’s odd behavior.

Ok, this is not really a film, but Family Guy has to be the best animated series EVER (even better than that yellow lot in Springfield), and who amongst us males hasn’t secretly wanted to be a bit like Peter Griffin ?

  1. Jingle All The Way (1996) – Howard (Arnie) a haggard salesman, promises his son a Turbo Man toy for Christmas. He is forced to fight every parent and travel all over town to get the toy after he forgets to buy it.

Ok, it’s a bit rubbish if you take into account Arnie’s acting skills (mediocre at best) and the dodgy plot line where he ends up being Turbo Man.  However, it’s really fun seeing a pair of fathers leaving present buying to the last minute (as if !!) and fighting their way through the shops to find the perfect, must have present.

  1. Any Bond Film – James Bond (007) is a British Secret agent with a license to kill.

What more could you want over Christmas than to sit back and watch Bond schmooze and shoot his way through his latest mission, getting the girl and annoying his boss.  Anybody who doesn’t like Bond is off my friends list.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 Christmas Films ever.

 

Stay tuned (see what I did there?) for some exciting news, introducing a revolutionary way of keeping your carpets clean all year round.

Confessions of a Carpet Cleaner

Confessions of a Carpet Cleaner

In this blog, I hope to give you an insight into why you should use a professional carpet & upholstery cleaning company, whilst examining a few myths along the way.

Scenario 1:

You have both splashed out and bought a £2000 Stella McCartney designer outfit direct from her store and a £1500 made to measure suit from Saville Row.  It’s an investment in yourselves, allowing you both to look and feel great for years to come.  But……you go to a party and your partner spills a drink all over himself.  Disaster !!  However, all is not lost.  You look at the care label and it says to send the suit off to the specialist cleaners and they rescue your suit, which is then returned without the stain and looking as good as new.  Phew , £3.5K investment protected.

Scenario 2:

You have both splashed out and bought new 100% wool carpets throughout the house, spending £3500 on a nice looking and great feeling addition to your home.  It’s an investment in your home, allowing it to look and feel great for years to come.  But…..you host a party and your partner spills a drink all over the carpet.  Disaster !!  However, all is not lost.  You have lots of cleaning products under your kitchen sink and your mate down the pub told you to use salt, bicarb, vanish, 1001, hairspray, WD40 etc.  What could possibly go wrong ?  The stain is now 3 times as big, much darker and won’t come out.

 

The same investment, but massively different results in both scenarios.  If you used everything under the kitchen sink, or turned to the internet to clean your designer suits, your investment would most likely be permanently ruined, so why would you do this for your carpets or upholstery, even though the replacement costs could be the same ?

By using a professionally trained and experienced company, you have a much better chance of your carpets lasting as long as your designer suits.  We routinely carry approximately 20 different spot removers, along with numerous cleaning agents which are specifically designed to treat specific spills and soils

Just to show we aren’t making things up, here is a short list of things our customers have told us about before calling us out :

    1. Red wine spill‘Well, I put white wine on it and the colour seemed to disappear, but it has turned black after a week’. What has happened here is the white wine has diluted the stain, making the colour appear lighter and making it appear that the stain has vanished.  However, the area covered by liquid on the carpet surface is only a fraction of the stain, the majority of the wine is most likely in the carpet backing and even in the underlay, similar to an iceberg having most of it’s mass submerged and out of view.  The dark mark could be the red wine wicking back up the carpet fibres, or could be simply the damp area attracting dirt as you walk over it.
      • Solution – Don’t Panic !  Soak up as much of the spill as possible using kitchen roll or a clean towel.  Make up an acidic detergent solution by mixing 1 tsp of mild wool safe detergent to 300ml of warm water, then adding one tblsp of white vinegar.  Pour the acidic detergent into a spray bottle and mist onto the stained area, blotting up with dry cloths frequently. Repeat until no more transfer onto the towel is noted.  Remember – little and often is the best method.   Upon completion, leave a small stack of kitchen roll or a clean towel over the area and weigh down with a heavy object (such as a heavy book or your husband) and leave to dry.
  1. Oil spill‘My partner got engine oil on the carpet and I used WD-40 and some gentle dabbing with a cloth, then I used soapy water and gave the carpet a good scrub’ It is still there and I can’t get rid of it’  WD-40 is formulated with strong lubricating oils and mineral solvents (amongst other top secret things).  The solvents in the WD-40 may have lifted the main oil spill, but have succeeded in adding more oil to the carpet.  This oil may be lighter in colour than engine oil so may not have been immediately visible, but as you walk over the oil it will attract dirt from your shoes and gradually darken.  Also, when scrubbing a carpet, the friction can cause the fibres to blow (separate from each other) or fluff (similar appearance to felt), which along with the heat caused by friction can result in the stain penetrating deeper into the fibres and becoming harder or impossible to remove.
      • Solution – Scrape off excess oil if possible, then sprinkle baking soda, cornstarch, or another absorbent on the stain and leave for 30 minutes. Vacuum the powder, but avoid using a brush vacuum as this may spread the stain further.  Then, using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent and blot until the solvent is absorbed.  DO NOT SCRUB
  2. Mascara stain‘My kids have spilled mascara onto the carpet (yes, of course it was the kids!) and I have tried nail varnish remover but it won’t budge’. Amongst other ingredients, mascara is made of pigments, oils and waxes which make lashes appear darker and fuller (so I have been told).  Unfortunately it also leaves nasty looking stains on the carpet if dropped.
      • Solution – Mix ¼ tsp of mild detergent to 250 ml warm water. Sponge the stain with the detergent solution. Dab with a cloth dipped in clear water and blot until the liquid is absorbed. Note: Work slowly from the outside of the stain inwards and try to avoid over-wetting the carpet.  DO NOT SCRUB
  3. Carpets get dirtier quicker once they have been cleaned‘My friend had her carpets cleaned and they got dirty really quickly. She said that having carpets cleaned regularly shortens their life’.  This is one of the most persistent myths that we come across, fuelled mainly by social media.  However, this may have had some degree of truth in the early days of carpet cleaning.  Wet shampoo cleaning with rotary machines was widespread in the 70’s, and hot-water extraction, also regarded as preferable by carpet manufacturers, had not been introduced either. Wet shampoos were once formulated from coconut oil soaps, residues of which can be foamy or sticky.  Since no rinse is performed, the residue continued to attract dirt after cleaning, leading to the carpet getting dirtier after cleaning.
      • Solution – Modern hot water extraction machines (both portable and truck-mounted), combined with superior cleaning solutions results in a thorough deep clean of your carpets. If detergents are used, these can be neutralised and thoroughly rinsed out, and many carpet cleaners use detergent free cleaning solutions (such as micro-splitters), which can be left in the carpet without causing re-soiling.  Regular cleaning removes deeply ingrained soils which can cause wear and tear, thus extending the life of your carpet.  The only way it may appear to get dirty quickly is that you will notice new stains if they are on a clean carpet, whereas on a dirty one they may not be visible.

 

To summarise, it is possible for you to remove small stains yourself without the need to call in a professional, but this needs you to have a stock of basic chemicals to hand.  As professionals, we carry a wide range of detergents, cleaning solutions and spot removers and have experience in dealing with most, if not all types of spills and stains.  We can’t guarantee to remove all stains, but we will certainly have a good chance by using the correct chemistry and methods.

Regular cleaning enhances the look and feel of your carpets and upholstery, can extend their useful life and can have a beneficial effect on mood and health (by removing allergens).

Always use a trained, experienced and insured professional company for your cleaning needs.  Don’t forget that training, chemicals, equipment and insurance are expensive, so if your cleaning quote seems to be cheap then there may be a reason for that.  As an Advanced NCCA (www.ncca.co.uk) member and Trading Standards Approved (www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk), you can rest assured that we will provide a high quality service at a fair price.