If you thought spring cleaning your house was hard work, then spare a thought for the staff here at Shottle Hall.
We have spent the last few months preparing the magnificent house, marquee and gardens for the start of the wedding season - and I really think Shottle Hall has never looked better.
The marquee has gone back up after a thorough deep clean, inside and out. The drapes have been dry cleaned, the starlit ceiling and lighting rig serviced, the carpet shampooed and a new bar has been installed.
This is almost twice the size of the previous bar – which means wedding guests should get served twice as fast!
Inside the house we have decorated the lounge, Gallery bar, Devonshire breakfast room and most of the public areas have had some TLC. Obviously we touch up any scuff marks throughout the year, but the decorators have given the hall a lot of attention and it’s looking as good as new.
We’ve bought two new sofas for the lounge and the black chairs in the Orangery have been given a lick of paint too – it’s surprising what a difference it makes.
The carpets have been cleaned throughout the hall and the two bridal suites – the Red Room and Rococo Room - have been repainted, so they are every bit as luxurious as they should be.
In the bars we have been busy replenishing the stock adding some new lines ready for action.
We’ve had to update the crockery and glassware ready for the summer too; you would not believe the number of champagne glasses Shottle gets through every year!
Outside, our grounds men Dan and Stuart have risen to the challenge that the recent weather has thrown at them.
The gardens have to look great all year round and it’s not been easy with such unseasonal snow and a cold spring.
The conifers have been reshaped, the daffodils are finally in bloom and the blossom is just starting to come out.
With four acres of structured gardens to tend they have been kept busy, but when the guys can’t get outside they are still kept busy - painting, building and maintaining the inside of the house and the marquee.
The wind shields and frost protectors around some of the less hardy plants are beginning to come off and some bedding plants are being put in at the front of the hall to add a splash of colour.
Of course, our brides can never rely on the weather, which is why the Coachhouse Ceremony Room – which we created last year – is such a Godsend.
Because it’s brand new it hasn’t needed any attention over the winter months, but we have moved the gilded screen some guests may remember from inside the house and put it in there – it matches the gold mirrors and the shabby chic look of the room perfectly.
Our maintenance and housekeeping teams have been kept on their toes this winter but it’s a labour of love – especially for head housekeeper Gina.
She actually got married here and loved Shottle Hall so much she applied for the job!
But the spring clean is not just a matter of making sure the house looks spotless; it's a means of preserving it for future generations – which we consider to be a really important part of our job.
It's also an enjoyable time as it gives us a chance to really appreciate the beauty of it all. When we've finished, it's a very satisfying feeling and the place literally gleams.
Of course, our work here is never done; our cleaning and maintenance programme is in place all year round.
It’s a shame my own house doesn’t get quite the same attention. I wonder if I could borrow Gina…?