Tag Archives: cardiff

Mopp.Com – Review

**Disclosure – I was offered a free clean by Mopp.com for the purposes of this review; I was not asked to say anything specific in return, and this review as always reflects my honest opinion of the service received**

Cleaning. There’s something that’s fallen by the wayside over last few years if I’m honest. Time was that I’d make sure the house was clean and tidy on Thursday night, we’d do whatever it was we did all weekend before we had kids, but come Sunday night the place would still be vaguely presentable, if strewn with newspapers (NEWSPAPERS? REMEMBER THOSE?) Then we’d go back to work on a Monday – things would go a bit downhill from there – and the cycle would start again on Thursday night.

It’s much less organised now! The cleaning bit itself takes much more time, but the tidying up bit so I can find the house to clean – well that seems to take forever. Even though the Husband more than plays his part (it’s been a journey, but we got there!) it feels impossible to keep on top of everything to the standard I’d like. And tidying and cleaning the house before a weekend? Not bloody likely, that’s just a pointless exercise. Basically now, as long as the bathroom and the kitchen are clean, I try not to worry about the rest  – we keep on top of it somehow and if we don’t, well we don’t, and I try not to bitch stress about it too much.

I’ve also started getting into the habit of booking us a one off visit once or twice a year from a cleaning company – usually right before we have friends to stay, ha! This means I can spend a bigger chunk of time on tidying and sorting (umm, perhaps a bit of pre-cleaning too) leading up to the visit and also means that all the bits I skip over (glass shower door? polished taps?) get done properly, my house looks all sparkly, I feel all chirpy and life is generally marvellous . Well, until the place looks like a car boot sale again anyway!

It can sometimes be difficult to find a company that are willing to do a one off clean for a manageable price, and who are bookable reasonably quickly (last minute? moi?) Also often one-off cleans will be for a set amount of say 6 hours, whereas I only really need and can afford two or three hours. I’ve also found it difficult to get hold of cleaning companies in the past – sorting a booking can take a couple of days of missed calls and emails (on both sides) when really I just want to press a button. And then there’s the finding the chequebook, or making sure I have cash…and suddenly my ‘treat’ to myself is turning into a hassle.

So I was really interested to be invited to trial Mopp.com, a new cleaning service launching in Cardiff and throughout the UK. Mopp promises to connect customers with local trusted and reliable cleaners online, and also to provide an easy, flexible booking service, whether for one off or regular cleaning sessions. A quick look at their booking page (put in your postcode to access it) will show you how easy it is to organise what you need, with a choice of regular and one-off cleans, slots between 2 and 7 hours long, and even the option to have cleaning materials provided by Mopp for the ultimate in no-hassle cleaning. Payment is nice and simple too – one-off cleans are debited from your card immediately, while regular cleans are taken from your card 24 hours later – either way, no faffing with cash or cheques – perfect!

So with the booking sorted, I did what I always do in these situation and had a massive tidy up, and I might have done a titchy bit of pre-cleaning too, I mean that’s normal when someone you don’t know comes to your house, right? RIGHT? But I didn’t need to worry – when Mihaela turned up (early) she did not take one look and run screaming for biohaz Breaking Bad type industrial protection wear, nor did she seem particularly fazed by my four year old following her around demanding to ‘help’ – instead she got stuck in straight away. I told her not to worry about the kids’ rooms as I had not had a chance to tidy them properly, but amazingly she managed to spruce them up in any case, as well as give the rest of the house a really good once-over – including the dreaded glass shower screen, which now looks shinier than it ever has done!

I was really pleased with my visit from Mihaela, and with the whole Mopp experience, and would definitely book through them again for a one-off clean – and if I ever, ever reach my pre-kids earning power (sigh) I’ll be booking a weekly slot quicker than quick. Until then, I’m just going to satisfy myself with another look at my lovely sparkly house before chaos takes over once again!


Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy
Jessie, Woody and Buzz

We’ve been trying to take our minds off this horrible weather by talking about what we’re each looking forward to later on this year…the kids are excited about various things, from our camping trip to Dartmouth (not till it’s MUCH warmer mind) to getting their own bedrooms when the House Project is completed (haven’t quite broken it to them that it’ll be next year rather than this…)

The one thing that’s causing the most excitement, for my lovely girl especially, is our trip to see Disney on Ice presents World of Fantasy. This show, which promises to be absolutely spectacular, is coming to Cardiff in April, as the last stop on a tour of the UK which takes in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Glasgow and London on the way. We’ve never been to a live Disney show before, or a show on ice for that matter, and it’s fair to say we’re pretty excited about both!

The show itself is based around an adventurous journey by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who turn to Goofy and Donald Duck for some roadside assistance when their car breaks down…I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away if I tell you that this particular ‘A’ team did not manage to get the car moving again without some assistance from the coolest of the Disney Cars!

As well as those Cars, the worlds of The Little Mermaid, Toy Story 3 and my girl’s favourite, Tinkerbell are all interwoven into the show – meaning that there’s something for Disney fans of all ages. Creating sets for all these very different worlds can be no mean feat – and probably explains why the show needs no less than thirteen trucks to get it from place to place!

It’s fair to say we’re really looking forward to our first Disney show…if it sounds like fun to you, why not visit the Disney on Ice website, where you can find out more about the show and book tickets for any of the UK venues.

**Disclaimer – We have been kindly invited to ‘Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy’ by Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the crew**

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy


Independent retail – three myths – busted

It’s not something I tend to mention on the blog, but one of the things that keeps me busy outside of my kids,  my day job and LearnerMother is Rules of Play, the games shop that I co own with my husband and a friend.

As an independent retailer, we spend a fair amount of our time challenging myths and assumptions, and after yet another conversation earlier in the week about ‘the high street being irrelevant’ I’ve been having a bit of an internal rant, to tell you the truth. And what better thing to do with an internal rant than to blog it out! Stand by for Independent Retail – three myths – BUSTED!

Independent shops are ALWAYS more expensive than chain stores/online.

Errr, nope.  I can tell you right now that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the board games in a well known chain toy shop, 10 minutes away from us, are on sale for between £3 and £5 over RRP. And you know what? They keep selling them. They’re selling them to people who are buying there in the knowledge that they’re getting a better deal than an independent shop.  Just the same as the people buying their toys there…except that technically they are actually getting a better deal than the local independent toy shop, because, uh, there isn’t one of those in the city centre any more. I wonder why…

Independent shops will sometimes be more expensive, because chains can afford to run loss leaders – i.e. cherry pick certain lines that they think will sell well, and sell them at heavily discounted prices or even at a loss. They count on the fact that you’ll be blinded by the light and make the assumption that everything else they sell is also automatically cheaper than elsewhere. Not so.

There’s a second aspect to this that isn’t often considered. If you know what you want, walk in, pick it up, pay for it and walk out, then all you need to take into account is the price of the product you walk out with. However, if you walk in, pick up what you want, ask some questions on it, decide whether it’s the right or wrong product for you, discuss alternatives or upcoming releases, even have a quick demonstration of a couple of products before making your purchase, and THEN grumble about the fact it’s £2 cheaper down the road or online – well, you are not comparing like for like. You pay for what you get.

Independent retailers are all very well, but their variety of stock isn’t as good as I can find in chain stores/online. 

Let me tell you a story. Our shop is in one of Cardiff’s historic arcades, very close to the Castle, which is pretty much a must-do tourist stop. And we sell board games. So you’d think it would make sense for us to sell Cardiff Monopoly, right? Hell, yes it would. We could shift that day in, day out. Do we stock it? No. Why don’t we stock it? Because every single copy of Cardiff Monopoly in the WORLD is piled up by the tills at a well known supermarket. Because they have the muscle to buy it as it comes off the lines and stockpile it until it sells – which means we can’t get it. This isn’t an isolated case by the way – each of the last four Christmases have seen us unable to get hold of one or more ‘must have’ games, and having to send customers elsewhere to buy them. But we do that, because we think it’s our job to help our customers get what they want. That happens online/in chains too, right?

So yes, we are sometimes locked out of key product lines. But independent retailers will usually love what they sell – or at least have a keen interest in it. They’ll also probably have a very strong idea of what their customers want (as opposed to telling them what they never knew they needed, a classic chainstore advertising tactic). This means they’ll be continually seeking out new and interesting product lines for their customers, actively sourcing more unusual items and also they’ll have the product knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff.  So while you might not be able to get this week’s hot product from your local indie shop, you’ll probably be able to get something that’s a whole lot better.

I don’t care about anything but price, and I don’t need help choosing, so I’m not losing anything by shopping online/in a chain. 

You are, actually. And you are ultimately losing something a LOT more crucial than the £2 or £5 extra you’d spend by buying from an independent retailer. What you are losing, bit by bit, is your ability to choose where you buy you stuff from. And once you have lost that, once the retail giants know that they have the monopoly on the market, what do you think they will do? Yep, they’ll rack the price up. And they will keep doing it up to the point where the demand curve levels off (you see Mr Bond, you DID teach me something in ‘A’Level Economics!) And at that point, you’ll have to make a decision on whether you continue to buy this particular product at its inflated price,  or whether you live without it.

This might not be a disaster when you’re talking about board games. It might bother you a bit more if you’re talking about books. Or clothes – and lets not forget the supply-side effects of huge buying power in the textiles market – remember  Rana Plaza?  And a little further down the line, what are you going to do when there’s only one place to buy food, and you can’t afford it?

Think it’ll never happen? Ask your elderly next door neighbour how many butchers, bakers and candlestick makers were on your local high street 40 years ago. And then take the story forward another 40. You see? This, THIS is what we all stand to lose when our independent retailers all disappear. It’s so much bigger and more scary than your 10% saving that you’ve made by sweating over a hot computer.

So there you are – three myths busted! Thank you for reading, as always – but please don’t just read and run…even if you only change one small buying choice as a result of this article, you WILL be making a difference.

Michelle, co-owner, Rules of Play, Cardiff
Photo credit – Amy Davies