Katie Sweep - H&H & other things.

I really do hope all those in attendance of this year’s Hearth and Homes Katie Sweep H&H & other things 1exhibition, be it visiting for the day or exhibiting for the 3 days, had as good a visit to the Harrogate show as I did… The fact I only needed to tootle 20 minutes down the road to visit some of the leading industry professionals from across the country was also wonderfully convenient. Myself and my husband Tom attended on the very first day of the exhibition, been Sunday the 12th June, so after taking the children for their usual Sunday morning swimming lessons, followed by a super quick lunch and then tipping the kids out at their grandparent’s house, we hurried along to enjoy what remained of the afternoon.

A few weeks earlier I had been in contact with the lovely Emma from Sparkling flues, a fellow lady chimney sweep from over Manchester way, whom I am acquainted with via the wonderful (and equally terrible) thing that is Facebook! Emma and I had arranged to meet and say a quick hello at the H&H and it was very nice to finally have a good chat in person with Emma and her nice HETAS installer husband Paul upon our late arrival, as they were just leaving... Emma described the exhibition perfectly as being like a sweetie shop!

Katie Sweep H&H & other things 2One of the many great things about the show is it is such a sociable event. Our first stop on entering the Harrogate conference center was to the cheerful NACS stand, of which I am a member, where all were in fine spirits, and greeted us warmly. We even participated in a game of ‘throw the ball into the chimney pot’, winning between us, two NACS hats and a tape measure! (An excellent game I will be adopting for our local country fairs that we will be attending this summer, perhaps replacing the balls with papier-mâché Jackdaws? He-he)

We stopped for a while to chat with the NACS team, resulting in meeting more NACS member sweeps who had traveled from far and wide. I was very pleased to hear, when talking with one chap in particular that he was just about to enroll his daughter on to the NACS sweeping course before she begins her career as a chimney sweep, it is always good to hear of new female sweeps being welcomed in to the industry. Realising that we were already quickly running out of time we hurried on, getting about two stands along before bumping into some more friendly faces from the chimney sweep world for a bit more chatting. This pattern continues as we slowly worked our way round in the sweltering temperatures, taking refuge under the air conditioning vent’s for a cool down whenever possible. The heat within the H&H show is of course due to a large number of the lovely display stoves being ‘lit’ and demonstrating what a fantastic job they can do of heating the conference center on a June’s summer day! 3

With the Exhibition being so vast and situated over 3 massive halls, there is pretty much anything you could wish to see, with it being the perfect opportunity for businesses to show off their products and attract and inform potential new customers… We were ‘scanned’ rather a lot and acquired a lot of ‘Stuff’. I gratefully received a large free sample of heat logs, which I thought was brilliant at the time until realising I still had half the show to wonder around carrying them! Not so brilliant after all. I still managed to make some time for a little shopping! although I could have got quite carried away I was very sensible Katie Sweep H&H & other things 3and limited myself to the purchase of a super duper Rodstation CCTV inspection kit, a particular piece of equipment I have been wanting to add to our specialist kit for a while now. With my NACS CCTV Inspection course coming up, it was definitely the time to be getting one in readiness. I cannot wait to get started offering chimney CCTV inspections to our customers, another string to add to our bow.

After dashing around in the heat with our bags of goodies, chatting with nearly everyone in sight, the atmosphere calmed and steadied down as it drew nearer to the 5pm closing time. We continued at a more leisurely pace conceding that we were unfortunately never going to see everything on our way round. We arrived at what we thought would be our last stop to visit the Rodtech stand, to have a good old chat with Tony and the team about the latest goings on, and purchased an adapter for our lovely posh new CCTV kit to also be able to fit and use with my Rodtech kit.

Many of the exhibitors who also attended the NACS exhibition earlier in the year had been enquiring as to the whereabouts of baby Fitz (aka ‘Baby Sweep’) I was exceedingly pleased to be having a well-deserved enjoyable child free afternoon. I am quite sure most busy mums, would sooner spend their afternoon off at a spa or something similar, but not me!

By the time we had finished, it was 5pm and the show was officially closed, so we whizzed round the last part of our H&H circuit, heading to the exit, and on route we happily came across the hard working, and seemingly last remaining exhibitors, the Valliant team. Of course when reaching their stand, I remembered I had been asked by my step dad, Gordon to pick him up some black stove paint, so even though it was past closing time, and even though I had no cash left, and even though it was too late in the day to be putting my trade order through, the Valiant team came to my rescue and did me a massive favor of letting me do an I.O.U to add to my next trade account order. A huge thanks again and I have not forgotten, I will be placing my order soon.

Katie Sweep H&H & other things 4After this last stop we did finally leave…without having to be forcibly ejected by security!
Later, around 9pm on that same Sunday evening, with the little ones long since tucked up in bed and all the days’ jobs done, myself and husband Tom decided to give our currently disused chimney a CCTV inspection and give our new purchase a test run. We discovered (as previously expected) there is indeed a Jackdaw nest situated around 7 meters up on the 45… I know, I know, it will be removed at some point or another, and the correct form of bird guard or cowl fitted depending on if we decide to start using it again in the future.

In other day to day sweep news…
Following on from last month, thankfully my Radio interview for radio Vale’s ‘Women in Business’ hour went well, much better than I expected, even with all my nervousness. I didn’t get round to mentioning half the things I had intended to, but equally I don’t think I made a complete idiot of myself either, phew! It is safe to say I am definitely destined to be a chimney sweep, and not a radio presenter.

It has been another nice reasonably busy month for our sweep bookings, for the time of year really rather good, with our lovely new receptionist Alison settling in perfectly to the sweep team and doing a truly fantastic job. But the month would not be complete without some sort of drama, mainly consisting of Val sweeps trusty 9-year-old Numatic vacuum starting to smoke & spark! will it be fixable and live to sweep another day? Who Knows. It is currently sat in the corner of my kitchen in need of some serious TLC.  If we can make do and mend for a little longer that will be fantastic. Thankfully she has her smaller sturdyvac to be going on with, but there is a good chance that will be me shopping again soon.

Katie Sweep H&H & other things 5And then there’s Jayne Sweep with not just one, but two flat tyres!  It is suspected that these were picked up when she was sweeping a chimney on a house renovation site after parking next to their skip. It just goes to show even with brand new vans there will still be unavoidable motoring issues.

But the month has ended on a high note with my two little ‘Sweeps in Training’ (my children Evie age 3 and Fitz age 1) taking part in, what was a last minute decision to enter the fancy dress competition at our local Village fate, Nun Monkton Feast day. A really wonderful day and to top it off nicely the children as little sweeps were awarded first prize in the preschool fancy dress. They were so proud of their medal and ridiculously cute with their little sooty faces.

Looking to next month, I am very excited to finally be able to reveal all about two or three of our behind the scenes projects I/we have had under construction. They are now in the final stage of preparation, and very nearly ready for the grand unveiling in Augusts addition of fireplace.co.uk’s newsletter. Stay tuned sweep fans!

Find previous Katie Sweep diary entries click here...

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