Thursday, 25 February 2016

Independent Businesses - Ashley @ Kels Belles Beauty

As some of you will have seen recently, I have been making it a mission of mine to visit and write about independent businesses and their owners, to keep you all in the know about who to visit, where to go and what to spend your pennies on. This week, I was asked to visit the lovely Ashley, resident hairdresser at Kels' Belles Beauty.

I will hold up my hands and admit, I am a hair-dressers' nightmare. I like my hair long. I like it blonde. I like it, effectively, to never be touched, and when it has to be, I'm part of the 'take of the smallest amount you can' brigade. I'm not particularly brave or creative with my bonce.

But even I find it a treat to, every now and then, change it up a bit and go for something different, and already knowing just what an excellent hair stylist Ashley is, when she invited me in for a treatment I jumped at the opportunity to get my locks looked at.

As stated above, I am incredibly fussy and nervy when it comes to getting my hair done, but having known Ashley for a long time, I felt entirely comfortable with her. She is so very good at her job (as the pictures show), is friendly and welcoming, and really listens to you when you describe what you would like. So even those without my previous knowledge of Ashley's work and can visit her, comfortable in the knowledge that they're in for a treat.
Beautiful bridal hair
A while back, I had some copper lowlights put through my hair by another wonderfully talented hairdresser and absolutely adored them, so asked Ashley if she would freshen them up for me. She did this and so much more.

As mentioned in my previous post about Kelly at Kels' Belles, the salon is a wonderful place to visit. You really do feel like you are visiting friends. Chatty, warm, and bubbly, there's always a lovely atmosphere. My appointment was the last on a Tuesday evening, so the girls would have been forgiven for being tired, but as usual, they were hard at work making people look fabulous.

Once I had taken a seat and been provided with a (perfect) cup of tea, Ashley went through the colour options with me, and whilst advising me about the colours and my selection, allowed me to make the decision for myself. I chose a gorgeous golden copper tone, slightly richer than my previous colour and Ashley got to work.
Just some of Ashley's work
As the dye was applied to my hair, the conversation flowed, and Ashley talked me through how she chooses her products. She's incredibly conscientious about the quality of the products she uses, and is considerate of what she is happy to apply to her customer's hair. This is hardly surprising considering that she has studied and practiced hair dressing since leaving school. In actual fact she was practicing her styles on her friends at school during lunchtime. I should know, I was one of them! She has a wealth of experience, and shares that with her clients, not being afraid to advise them on what would be best for their hair, but always having their wishes at the forefront of her mind.

Once the dye had done its job, we moved over to the basin for my favourite part- the hair wash. There is something incredibly therapeutic about someone else washing your hair, so I kicked back and relaxed.

Ashley had talked to me about a new range that she is currently utilising in the salon called Milkshake. A hair care range inspired by all things natural, the products feel gorgeous, smell delicious and are well priced (see more here - They sounded amazing, so Ashley popped one of the hair treatments on for good measure. My hair was silky and soft, and smelt so good I could have eaten it. Don't worry, I resisted! She also told me about a new dying process she has been using - mixing Milkshake's Whipped Cream leave-in treatment in a cocktail glass with a temporary colour. Apply to the hair and leave in, as simple as that!
Milkshake's Whipped Cream leave-in treatment mixed with a temporary hair colour.
Once the dye was washed out and my hair had been rinsed, we moved back to the mirror, where I had a trim (a very small one!) and a blow-dry, leaving my hair in soft waves, with a warmer tone and looking very pretty.
The finished look. Warm copper and blonde tones set off with soft waves.
A good hairdresser can cut your hair. A great hairdresser makes you feel like you've had a complete make-over. Ashley falls into the latter category. I left the salon that evening feeling refreshed and relaxed. She has years of experience and has worked her way up, from studying her craft, to working for various salons, to where she is now - a successful business owner in her own right, based in a gorgeous boutique salon. Success isn't easy to come by, and takes dedication, hard-work and a love of what you do to achieve it. All things Ashley has in bucket-loads. She deserves every achievement because she works so hard to earn them, and takes care of those who choose to trust her with their hair. That trust is well-placed, and explains why her clients return to her time and again. Anyone who hasn't visited her, get your appointment booked now, you won't regret it!
Keep your eyes open for the next Independent Business posts, I'll be visiting some lovely local entrepreneurs over the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Falcon, Bletsoe

The past couple of weeks have been packed with goings-on, so please forgive my absence. I've been indulging my social side a little too much! But this does mean that I have a lot to catch you up on.

Indulgence has definitely been the theme for the last fortnight. Catch-ups, meals, visiting friends, and more on the way, I'm starting to feel frayed around the edges. But I wouldn't change it!

Not that all of my time has been spent exerting myself, or doing particularly strenuous activities, there has been some much-needed down time too. Some of which was spent enjoying a delicious Sunday lunch at a gorgeous pub in Bedfordshire.

Venturing out for a Sunday roast is always a dangerous thing to do. Appealing in thought, they never quite live up to expectation, with nostalgic thoughts of your mum/nan/aunt's Sunday fare springing to mind, and the knowledge that you have just paid for something not up to their standards. That was not the case when we took a trip the The Falcon in Bletsoe, a beautiful 17th Century pub set on the banks of the River Great Ouse.

Having discovered that I'm gluten intolerant, I've become increasingly wary about eating out. Despite the fact that many places offer gluten-free options, they are frequently limited, bland or just unpleasant. I needn't have worried. The Falcon managed to cater to the changes I needed, without it feeling like I'd drawn the short straw.

Feeling indulgent (there's that word again), we had baked camembert to start. Served with roasted garlic and a fig jam, it was delicious. Gooey hot cheese, fragrant garlic and sweet figs, it was delicious.

I always become indecisive when it comes to having a roast. Do I take the safe bet and have the chicken? Or do I risk the beef, hoping it doesn't arrive grey and dry? (I genuinely do put this much thought in when it comes to food. Don't judge me!) In this case, I was more trusting, as I'm lucky enough to know the chef! I've been treated to Martyn's cooking for years, so I knew I was in for a treat. I opted for the roast beef with all the trimmings, which I could have, because all came in a gluten-free option. As usual he didn't disappoint. It was one of the loveliest Sunday lunches I've had for a while (sorry Mum). Reasonably priced, it didn't break the bank, it's a beautiful setting, and the staff are lovely. All in all a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Had the weather been warmer, I'd have been tempted to go for a stroll after lunch. As said above, the pub is set on the river, and is in a beautiful rural location, so if you decide to visit, why not go for a wander to work off your lunch?

Take a closer at The Falcon here -, in case you don't fancy a roast. But who wouldn't?!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Guest blogging for a good friend

I started up A Little Bit of Everything for several reasons. It has encouraged me to get out and about, seeking stories to share. I wanted to share recipes and crafts that I've tried. I wanted an excuse to improve my photography. The main reason being that I love to write, and this wonderful creature has given me the means to practice and improve.

So it meant an awful lot when recently, a good friend of mine and fellow blogger, Michael Green, asked me to write a guest post for his website, discussing the local music scene in our town, and the way in which aspiring musicians, artists and writers can make a name for themselves.

I've a huge amount of time and respect for Michael. A huge talent and immensely hard worker, Michael has been honing his talents as a musician and songwriter for years. He has been working on his own blog for some time, and has been a massive influence on me since starting up, so I grabbed the opportunity to write for him with both hands. It's been an absolute pleasure, and it would mean the world if you'd take the time to follow the link below and take a few minutes to read it. A lot of love went in to it. I hope you enjoy it!

Find my guest post at

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Competition Time!

Yesterday saw the release in the latest edition of my new Independent Business series, and a review of the lovely Kelly's Kels Belles Beauty Bedford (found here Thanks to all of you lovely people out there reading, and the post's success, Kelly has offered a competition!

If you'd like the chance to win a set of Gelish nails and cuticle oil, pop over to Kels Belles Facebook page here, and like and share the competition post.

Likewise, you can make your way to the brand new Lily's A Little Bit of Everything Facebook page and find the post there and do the same -

Good Luck to all of you that enter!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Independent Businesses - Kels Belles Beauty Bedford

As I've been telling you all recently, I've been embarking on a mission to write up about independent businesses. It's so easy to visit your nearest chain store and pick up what you need, but what these places offer in convenience, they lack in the personal experience. Independent business owners are a huge part of our community and require support and our custom to thrive. Having asked my friends for suggestions about who I could post about, I was put into contact with Kelly-Marie Parker, the lovely owner of Kels Belles Beauty. She invited me down for a chat and to get my nails done, so on Saturday I paid her a visit.

The first impression you get as you wander down to the salon is just how quaint it's surroundings are. Based in Clair Court on Lime Street in Bedford, you would never know that you were in the centre of town. Quiet, relaxed and charming, Kels Belles is set in a lovely courtyard, removed from the noise and fuss of the high street.

As I entered, I was greeted by Kelly. At 26, Kelly has been running her own business for 2 years, and set up the salon last May. It's gorgeous. Elegant to look at, with soft colours and a cozy space, there's clearly been a lot of work put in. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, the staff equally so.

I sat down at the nail station and Kelly helped me pick a colour whilst she talked me through the products she uses. She clearly knows her stuff, and invests time into looking for the best products possible. I commented that her prices are so reasonable that her mark ups can't be huge. The lovely thing about Kelly is, as she stated herself, she'd rather keep prices low and know that her customers will come back to her because of the quality of her products, rather than charge people a fortune and lose their custom in the long run.

I went for a beautiful heather tone for my nails and Kelly set to work. We chatted as she worked on my nails, and I was struck by what a forward-thinking business woman she is. Having worked in beauty for 8 years, Kelly has worked her way up the ladder and has no plans on stopping yet. About to embark on a teaching qualification, she told me that she'd like to get to a point where she can train others in certain products, and would eventually like to open more salons.

We spoke about how Kels Belles came about, and it was simply that she set her mind to it, worked hard, and is now reaping the rewards. As Kelly stated herself, "It's easy if you think positively".

Offering a multitude of treatments, Kels Belles may be small but it has a huge amount to offer. Gelish nails, Lycon waxing, hair treatments, lashes, spray tans, the list goes on. The biggest deal currently running at the salon is the HD Brows treatment. Currently 50% off the first treatment, so get down there quick! I've already had my patch test done ready for my next visit.

One of the treatments Kelly is really proud of is the Lycon wax. An all-natural, hot wax, Lycon can remove the smallest, finest of hairs and is hugely popular. Unlike regular waxing, Lycon can be used in the same place several times and is great for those of you with sensitive skin, and even pregnant women. Kelly assured me it's less painful than regular waxing, so I may even be brave and give it a try!

Visiting the salon was a truly lovely experience. Kelly and Ashley, the resident hair stylist, are friendly and chatty. Too often, you feel rushed and awkward at nail appointments, just the next in a long line of people waiting their turn. This could not be less true of Kels Belles. Even the other customers got involved in the conversation, giving the morning a social, fun feel.

At the end of my treatment, I was left with gorgeous nails and a pampered, content frame of mind, plus some lovely cuticle oil to keep my nails looking wonderful on the recommendation of Kelly.

Kelly is hoping to host a special 1st birthday gathering for the salon, so as soon as I hear anything I will keep you posted.
You don't just get a treatment when you visit Kels Belles, you get and experience, and leave feeling like you've made new friends, you really can't ask for much more. This is definitely one to watch, I have a feeling Kelly and the Kels Belles team are going to go far. Pop down for a treatment or two, you won't regret it!

If you want more information about Kels Belles, you can find the salon on Facebook at, the website will be up soon, and there will be more photos to follow, so keep your eyes peeled.