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The Sunday Times Home - 11 March 2018

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March 11, 2018
UPWARDLY
MOBILE
CLIMBING WALLS ARE
THE NEW MUST-HAVE
TAXING TIMES
IN WALES
Travel
INSIDE
Look after the critters
Germaine Greer?s letter to the next owner of her Essex home 8
2 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
MAKING
MOVES
WEST SUSSEX
�5,000
MANCHESTER
FROM
�7,950
Worthing residents breathed
a sigh of relief when the
historic former lifeboat
house on beachfront Marine
Parade, painted shocking
pink, was repossessed in
2016. Reborn in gleaming
white, and redecorated
throughout, the turreted
Victorian building in the
town centre is a good deal
less flamboyant. Yet this
offbeat four-bedroom
property is far from dull: it
has a kitchen with quartz
worktops, Moroccan tiling,
coastal planting and
outside decking with those
all-important sea views.
01903 216219,
winkworth.co.uk
In the 20 years since the
Hacienda closed,
Manchester has become
better known for buy-to-let
investments than for its
clubbing scene. Set to be
completed in 2020, the
�m, 15-storey Trafford
Plaza development is in Old
Trafford, near the football
and cricket grounds, and
just outside the city centre.
It will have 174 flats with one
and two bedrooms; if you
don?t plan to live in one
yourself, the projected
annual yield is up to 7.5%.
0161 274 0472,
regencyresidential.co.uk
BRISTOL
FROM
�5,000
Looking for a bolthole in
buzzing Bris? The brightly
painted grade II listed
facades of Redcliffe Parade,
a Georgian terrace that
overlooks the Floating
Harbour, are a city landmark.
Six of the four-storey
townhouses on the row
have been restored and
converted into 16 sleek
one- and two-bedroom flats.
They?re just minutes from
Temple Meads station, for
trains to London, and eight
miles from the airport.
0117 911 4921, knightfrank.
co.uk; 0117 946 9823,
oceanhome.co.uk
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 3
�1M
COVER: FRANCESCO GUIDICINI. THIS PAGE: ZMG PHOTOGRAPHY; ALYS TOMLINSON; DOM JONES; CHILTERN
LONDON NW2
The architect owners of
this three-bedroom
former carriage house in
Cricklewood spent 10 years
looking for the right quirky
space to transform into a
family home. Part of a small,
arty community set around
a cobbled courtyard, and a
short walk from the train
station, the two-storey
property has internal
sliding barn doors and a
vaulted ceiling in the master
bedroom. Hot design tip?
Bold graphic artwork and
vividly hued furniture work
well with the warmth of
exposed brick.
020 3096 0065,
brickworkslondon.com
INSIDE THIS WEEK
Growing pains: why
extending isn?t easy
12
Get to grips with a
home climbing wall
15
PLUS Home Front 4 Home Help 20
Overseas 24 Interiors 27
Gardening 30 Time and Space 34
WE WANT... TO LIVE IN AN ORIGINAL NEW TOWN
�5,000
GLENROTHES
You can be within a 10-minute
drive of a new three-day book
festival that?s coming to Fife in
May if you buy this detached
house on Balgeddie Park. It
has five bedrooms, a sunroom,
a greenhouse, an orchard,
a double garage and solar
panels that supplement the
hot water tank. Edinburgh is
32 miles away.
01592 307017,
your-move.co.uk
�0,000
WELWYN GARDEN CITY
Behind the trad brick facade
of this new-build semi (above
left) in the Wilshere Park
development, on the fringes
of the Hertfordshire town, is a
sleek interior with a spacious
kitchen, dining and family
room. It has four bedrooms,
two with ensuite bathrooms,
a utility room and a garage,
and is handy for the A1.
01707 861386,
lindenhomes.co.uk
�7,500
REDDITCH
Ipsley Alders Farm House is
set in half an acre, with a
pond that could be a magnet
for creatures from a nearby
nature reserve run by the
Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.
The three-storey property
has five bedrooms, beamed
ceilings and an inglenook
fireplace, but the decor could
do with freshening up.
01527 338117,
andrew-grant.co.uk
4 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
HELEN
DAVIES
@TheSTHome
N
aming is a
treacherous
business. What
you choose to
call your child is
a profound statement, an
advertisement of your
aspiration. It is an obsession
beloved of expectant parents
? indeed, couples probably
spend even more time
choosing the name of their
children than househunting.
But property snobbery is set
to follow suit.
New research from Royal
Mail shows that more than
312,000 houses across the UK
have a name rather than a
number. The company
delivers to more than 29m
addresses, six days a week,
and the findings offer a
fascinating insight into life in
modern Britain. Among our
cities, aside from London
(with almost 10,000), the place
with the highest number of
named properties is Norwich
(more than 3,700), followed by
Bristol (at least 3,500), York
(2,959), Southampton (2,133),
Leeds (2,120), Reading (1,956),
Hereford (1,944), Worcester
(1,863) and Coventry (1,853).
The Old Rectory is one of
those addresses that carries a
premium implying a style and
stature, and there are 2,561
in the UK. Cottages are most
Would you share
your saliva to
find the perfect
housemate?
popular, though, with 16,397
named either Rose Cottage
or simply the Cottage, well
ahead of their nearest rivals,
the Bungalow (6,401) and the
Coach House (4,261).
There are almost 700
residential properties called
?castle?, most of them in
Scotland ? Inverness and Ayr
in particular. Norfolk has the
greatest concentration of
named homes in the UK, with
more than 16,000.
More unusual house names
include Bonjedward, the Old
Fox & Duck, and Wagtails
Corner. And many people are
apparently drawing on more
modern influences when
choosing a name: there are
now more than 800 Game of
Thrones-related addresses
scattered across our isles, with
numerous Stark, Tyrell and
Frey-linked monikers.
l Genome sweet home:
would you share your saliva to
find the perfect housemate?
The appliance of science to the
way we live is evolving, and
getting smarter. The rental
website SpareRoom.co.uk has
teamed up with Karmagenes,
a Swiss genetics start-up, to
trial DNA personality testing
as a method for matchmaking
housesharers.
In return for providing a
sample of your DNA ? and
taking an online psychometric
questionnaire ? you receive
a detailed report about your
personality and how your
genetics influence it. The
study assesses 14 areas,
including spontaneity,
optimism, stress tolerance,
risk-taking, self-awareness
and confidence. An algorithm
then sets to work matching
specific characteristics of you
DNA to personality traits,
with the hope of creating
domestic harmony.
?There?s no such thing as
the perfect flatshare, but
understanding a little more
about yourself, and knowing
how to pick your flatmates to
match your personality, will
help,? says Matt Hutchinson,
communications director at
SpareRoom.
Genetic similarities may not
be enough, though, according
to a study published last
week by the London School
of Economics. It found that
parents of ?boomerang?
children who move back into
the family home are more
likely to be miserable than
?empty nesters?. Based on
the latest evidence from the
housing market, I predict
more misery as opportunities
to get on the property ladder
are limited: figures from the
Halifax revealed that although
house-price growth has slowed
to its lowest rate in five years,
the number of properties on
estate agents? books has hit a
record low.
The situation is unlikely to
improve in the near future: the
Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors reports that the
number of valuations
undertaken has also fallen in
the year to February.
What?s going on where you are?
Get involved @STHome or email
helen.davies@sunday-times.
co.uk. Join our 20,000
followers on instagram
@SundayTimesHome
MOVING ON
HOME FRONT
Home Opinion
It has taken two and a half
years and a total price
reduction of �0,000, but
Natalia Vodianova has
finally managed to sell her
18-acre country pile. The
Russian supermodel and
philanthropist, 36, first
put Lodsbridge Mill, an
18th-century West Sussex
estate with a main
four-bedroom house, a
three-bedroom cottage and
a spa complex, on the market
for � in September 2015;
it has just gone under offer
after being cut to �25m.
afte
The property was bought
for �8m in 2005 from
the financier Sir Evelyn
de
d Rothschild by
Vodianova and her ex,
Justin Portman.
Whoever buys West
Lodge, in Wimbledon,
southwest London,
for �m will inherit a
straw boater worn by
the actress Glynis
Johns in Mary Poppins
and
a given to Julie
Andrews
as a memento.
An
Andrews
lived in a wing of
And
the 12-bedroom grade II
listed
liste property when she
starred
starr in the 1964 film
and left the boater behind
(robertholmes.co.uk).
(robe
Alexandra Goss
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 7
JAMIE GRILL/GETTY IMAGES
Home Move
GET YOUR
HOUSE IN ORDER
If you want to sell in a sticky market, it pays to
do your paperwork, says Graham Norwood
W
inter may
be melting
away, but
the housing
market is
still frozen solid. Property
prices across the country fell
by 0.3% in February to an
average �0,402, according to
Nationwide, while Foxtons
estate agency warns that 2018
will be ?challenging?.
The typical time a house is
on the market in England and
Wales before finding a buyer
is a daunting 169 days, the
property website Home.co.uk
reports. Separate figures from
the buying firm Quick Move
Now show that 28% of sales
fall through.
So, if you?ve decided that
spring is the time to move,
get your ducks in a row before
you start: decluttering is
essential, as is finishing any
long-forgotten DIY jobs, but
nothing is more important
than sorting out the mass of
paperwork involved in a sale.
Some is down to you alone,
some to your conveyancer or
agent, but all needs your input
and should be completed as
early as possible to help seal
the deal. Here?s a checklist.
Mortgage application
You can get a rough idea of
how much you can borrow at
moneyadviceservice.org.uk,
but only a full application will
provide a clear budget for your
next home, so sort this first.
Even those who already
have a mortgage will need all
this for a new loan application:
valid ID (also required by
agents and conveyancers)
and utility bills; details of any
benefits; a P60 from your
employer, and the past three
months? payslips; bank details
for six months or, if you are
self-employed, up to three
years? worth of financial
records audited by an
accountant. You?ll also have
to give details of tax paid via
form SA302; print this out
from your online HMRC
account if you have one.
Most lenders demand
evidence of ?informal?
spending, so prepare
documents covering costs
such as travel, childcare and
entertainment. Your
creditworthiness will be
checked, too, and questions
may be asked if you have not
been on the electoral roll at
any time in the past six years.
Property deeds
These will be lodged with the
solicitor used when buying
your home. Your current
conveyancer will need to
obtain the official deeds from
HM Land Registry.
Freehold or leasehold details
If you have a share of the
freehold, documents showing
its structure will be required.
If you?re a leaseholder, you?ll
need to show a copy of the
contract and complete a
seller?s information form
known as TA7; there?s a
template at lawsociety.org.uk.
Energy performance
certificate
Unless your home is listed,
an EPC, which measures a
property?s energy efficiency
and is valid for 10 years, is
mandatory. It can be arranged
by your estate agent, but it?s
cheaper to find your own
assessor via epcregister.com.
Expect to pay �-�0.
Property information form
This is known as TA6, and is a
whopper. There are more than
60 questions, and to complete
it adequately, you?ll need
ancillary paperwork such as
gas and electricity safety
certificates, planning consent
and building regulation
documents, plus warranties
for everything from extensions
to damp-proofing.
The TA6 covers boundaries;
neighbour disputes; nearby
development proposals;
extensions and amendments;
guarantees; insurance;
environmental issues, from
flood risk to Japanese
knotwood; access rights;
parking; ground rents and
service charges; and utility
suppliers and safety checks.
I told you it was a monster.
Again, it?s at lawsociety.org.uk;
you must answer to the best
of your ability, and omissions
may delay the sale.
Fixtures and fittings form
Amazingly, sales of �-plus
houses can founder because
of rows over whether the
vendor will be leaving white
goods or charging for the
Aga. This form, TA10, is meant
to avoid all that. It?s an 11section questionnaire stating
precisely what the sale
includes, from towel rails to
the stock of logs for the
woodburner.
8 March 11, 2018 The Sunday
y Times
es
es
D
ear new owner of the Mills.
You?re going to
o be
wondering why I?ve done
what I?ve done with the three
acres you?ve justt bought, so
I?ve written you a little guide to the wood,
rden, the
the orchard, the vegetable garden,
flower gardens, and to the buildings.
Not that I expect you to keep them as
they are. They are yours now, and you
must manage them as you will.
For 30 years I have run this strip of
chalk and rubble for biodiversity. That
means that there are molehills all over
the orchard, newts in the duck pond, as
many frogs as the heron can eat in the
season, solitary bees in the old walls,
and numberless pigeons rocking in the
treetops. Right now on this frigid spring
day there are violets in full bloom,
carpeting the warmest southwest corner
of the wood.
Most visitors arrive at the Mills via the
gravel drive, past pollarded sycamores on
the left, followed by a screen of pleached
limes. (I copied the idea of the lime screen
from the Commonwealth War Graves in
France.) On the right is a garden
surrounded by a low wall topped with tall
iron railings that somehow survived the
Second World War. The wall has been
patched with cement at some point. You
might decide to chip off the remnants and
replace it with lime mortar. Once that is
done the wall will last another 100 years.
The drive ends in a gravelled car park,
bounded by one of many yew hedges on
the property, planted to filter the
southwesterlies that come funnelling up
the valley of the Cam, otherwise known as
the M11. Come past the dovehouse (one of
six) by the workshop, through the trellis
gate. Here the property is dog-safe;
hidden amid the hedges is double-height
stock fencing that lets smaller mammals
come in, but bigger dogs can?t get out.
Cross the orchard and there?s the wood.
The wood was designed by the late Alan
Mitchell, the man who measured every
notable tree in the British Isles, and
founded the Tree Register. The trees
were planted, following his
tion, as whips;
recommendation,
many, maybe most of them
never got theirr heads
ocky grass.
above the tussocky
Alan may not have
he soil,
twigged that the
amid the ruinss of
the buildings
n
knocked down
by the farmer
after the war,
was a mess
of chalk,
FRANCESCO GUIDICINI; JUSTIN PAGET; GETTY IMAGES
Home Cover
er
A
After
330 years, Germaine Greer is selling
her Ess
Essex home. Here, she tells of its
rich his
history and the wildlife she shares it
with, and
w
an offers advice for the next owner
CARETAKER?S
NOTES
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 9
??
There are molehills all
over the orchard, newts
in the duck pond, solitary
bees in the old walls and
numberless pigeons
rocking in the treetops
CAMBRIDGE
A11
GREAT
CHESTERFORD
A505
M11
Saffron
Walden
Stansted
5 miles
rubble, ?Roman cement?, mortar and
flint. The biggest mistake was mine; what
is now the wood should have been
returned to the chalk grassland that was
there before the field became a horse
paddock. Now, for better or worse, it is a
one-acre wood.
Year on year, gaps in the planting
were filled with more suitable species
than the ones in Alan?s plan. Larix decidua
was replaced by L leptolepis; Quercus
coccinea by Q ilex and Q cerris; Fraxinus
oxycarpa by F angustifolia. A forest is a
battleground, however, and every year
trees that have been outgrown and
shaded out quietly succumb. The most
remarkable success in the planting is
enjoyed by 20 elms (not on Alan?s plan, of
which you shall be given a copy). These
are hybrids of the Exeter elm crossed with
the Himalayan elm, called ?Dodoens? by
the Dutch arboriculturists who developed
it in the 1970s to replace the millions of
trees wiped out by Dutch elm disease. I
was told that they might make it to 10
years old if I was lucky. They?re now going
on for three decades. Elms used to be the
dominant tree species in this part of
Essex; there is something to be said for
taking cuttings of the elms at the Mills and
propagating them for distribution among
friends and neighbours.
The wood shelters a range of native
snails and rare ladybirds, including the
threatened 14-spot. Dozens of bird species
nest there, including woodpeckers,
buzzards and sparrowhawks. In June you
may even hear a nightingale or two.
Stoats, foxes, badgers, shrews, voles,
mice and bats all enjoy the wood. (Rabbits
are and have always been a problem; all
young trees have to be protected. A lost
guard means a dead tree.) Muntjacs visit
from time to time, and perhaps the odd
larger deer. The
Th
he latest addition to the wild
menagerie
m
men
agerie
age
rie iss a polecat family.
The
T
he orchard (of which
you shall be given a plan))
is meant to serve
as a museum of
mid-Anglian
Left, Germaine
Greer at her Essex
home, which was
once a row of
tenements. She
has turned its
3.6 acres into
a haven of
biodiversity, with
an orchard, pond
and woodland
apple varieties no longer in commercial
cultivation. Most have been grafted onto
long-lived M and MM stocks. The names
are charismatic in themselves: Pippins,
Russets, Beefings (or Biffins, if you?re a
local), Seedlings, Queenings, Greenings ?
more than 70 apple trees in all, and five
geese grazing under them. (There were 16
geese, but that?s another story.)
Damsons, plums, gages, myrobalans,
bullaces and pears grow everywhere on
the property, producing all kinds of
the tartest to the sweetest.
hybrids from
f
The orchard is also home to
Th
families of moorhens, a carp
tank, a goose pond and untold
numbers of lazy pheasants
who turn up for easy pickings
when I feed the geese. Nettles
are allowed to flourish along
the hedges as primary larval
food plants for red admiral,
ssmall tortoiseshell and peacock
butterflies. A good crop of ragwort
b
most years gives us cinnabar moths
mo
by tthe thousands.
The
Th kitchen garden is divided into
three sections by two paths running
north-south.
One section contains the
northhouse ? a gift from Beth Chatto.
frame h
apricot tree in the house is a
The apr
Moorpark; we pollinate it by hand in
Moorpar
and it fruits abundantly in July,
March an
succumbing to dry rot.
but it is gradually
g
that is a steel berry cage that has
Next to th
produced more cherries, currants red
and black, gooseberries, raspberries,
loganberries and strawberries than
anybody wanted to eat. The birds get to
the cherry trees before we can, but there
are usually sufficient bitter cherries to
make a pot or two of confiture pure. The
berry cage also shelters the movable hen
runs. It is the best place to grow salads,
which are otherwise annihilated by the
wood pigeons. An important denizen of
the cage is the hop, which is the larval
food plant of the comma butterfly.
The middle section is planted with
English lavender, for the struggling bees.
This is a very good place to monitor
pollinator populations, but it is time the
60 lavenders were replaced. (This is likely
to be expensive, unless you can buy plugs,
which shouldn?t cost more than �each.)
The last section has been used recently for
growing vegetables, including potatoes,
carrots, asparagus, garlic, courgettes and
French beans. There is also a strawberry
bed, which fruits extravagantly. And
rhubarb. And wild horseradish.
The north end of the other back
garden was planted with beeches about
200 years ago; these are showing signs
of dieback, which is probably only to be
expected. One beech fell during the gale
of October 15-16, 1987, leaving two
survivors, plus a rather scruffy lime.
(A healthier lime tree behind the garden
cottage fills the workshop with scent
every spring.) The adjoining boundary
is home to a cedar of Lebanon and a
horse chestnut.
An inner hedge of cherry laurel and
other evergreens was planted to create a
sheltered garden. In 2015 the border was
planted with 70 scented shrub roses,
acquired from Rumwood Nurseries and
Peter Beales Roses. (You shall have the
plan and the list.) Nearly all the rose
bushes have suffered devastating rabbit
attack, and a few have conked out.
Clematis cirrhosa and Lonicera
fragrantissima grow against the outhouse
walls. A quince tree grows under the
horse chestnut; a big bowl of its fruit will
perfume the whole house in October.
The front garden is a bee garden, which
explains the presence of the Robinia
pseudoacacia by the front gate. This is
not the yellow foliage tree beloved of
gardeners, but the honey locust favoured
by French honey producers. The garden
was landscaped with deep borders on all
sides and allowed to go feral; naturally
occurring hybrids and opportunist
?
10 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
? weeds are not removed unless they
are hampering choicer plants. In spring
it is carpeted with two species of star of
Bethlehem, Ornithogalum nutans and
O umbellatum. Both refuse to grow
anywhere else on the property.
Altogether at the Mills we have
identified 127 species of wild flower
coming and going over the years. We?d be
happy to provide you with the list. Two
plants you might not notice are Buddleja
auriculata growing up the wall by the
house, and two different sarcococcas;
these (and lots of other plants in this
garden) flower in the winter and send
their scent even into freezing air.
Which brings me to the house. The
property is called the Mills because that
was its first name, when two smock mills
used to stand on the site. The house and
mills are described as built by Josiah Living
in 1834, but the west mill is first noted on
the map of 1825; it was demolished on
October 21, 1909. The east mill turns up on
the map of 1836, but it has disappeared
from the Ordnance
Survey map of 1893.
This history is
typical of the
period: windmills proliferated in the
early part of the Victorian era, only to be
replaced by more efficient steam-driven
mills towards the end of the century.
The house was originally a row of
three flint tenements built against the
flint boundary wall. At the turn of the
19th century, flints collected off the fields
by children ? a process known as
?stumpickin? ? were the cheapest
available building material. Each cottage
consisted of two rooms, one on top of the
other, considered adequate to house the
workers on the property and their families.
The only heating was a small register coal
grate in each ground-floor room, one of
which is still in use. There was no running
water; instead, rainwater for washing,
bathing and cooking could be pumped up
from an underground storage tank.
The first attempt to turn the tiny houses
into a single dwelling involved the
building of a two-storey extension in
Cambridge stock brick. The ground-floor
wind
window, which still has its pull-up
shutters, may have been moved from
another wall into the window
embrasure when the front door was
mo
moved to its present position, in what
seem
seems to have been the last addition to the
hous
house. It was probably at this time that the
cellar
cellar, a very unusual feature in this area,
was d
dug out and lined with brick. I lined
the lock-up
lo
part of the cellar with rather
too m
many wine racks.
Th
The new accommodation was floored
wit
with ?pammets?, or ?pamments? in the
lo
local dialect. (The word is simply a
ccontraction of ?pavement?.) The
co
p
paviours are low-fired yellow clay,
JUSTIN PAGET; GETTY IMAGES
Home Cover
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 11
The garden has
wide borders
that provide food
and shelter for
a wealth of
wildlife. The
kitchen, above,
has a floor made
of reclaimed
clay ?pammets?
fitted amazingly tightly together; the
original paviours can still be seen in the
big dining room. (As far as we can tell, no
one is capable of laying them so tightly
these days.) Where the two sections met
was another large room that seems to
have been used as a butchery, probably
for pigs. (In an old soakaway under the
horse chestnut we found dozens of crude
homemade knives.) The floor of this
room, now the kitchen, has been laid with
reclaimed pammets and sealed. Beyond is
the scullery and beyond that the larder,
with slate shelves and hooks in the ceiling
for hanging game. At this time of year,
the larder is colder than the refrigerator.
Sometime in the 1950s, the tenant
knocked out part of the end wall and
replaced it with RSJs to make a larger
sitting room and master bedroom above.
Unfortunately, the floors and ceilings
each side of the RSJs were brought in at
different levels. This ugly arrangement is
now hidden beneath the Tuscan arches
designed by John Sutcliffe, who also
carried out the wall decoration and
designed the fireplace; the grate was a
lucky find in an antiques shop in
Brighton. To make the master bedroom
on the floor above, space was robbed
from the one next to it. The one bathroom
shared the space in what is now the
library with a four-door closet for linen.
It was probably at this time that central
heating was installed; the original boiler is
still going, and much less temperamental
than newer computerised versions.
The later extension of the 1950s was
rather cheaply carried out, without
consideration for the character of the
original structures. The doorframes and
skirtings were made up as cheaply as
possible. I did my best to improve the
look and authenticity of these, basing my
concept on the watercolour interiors
painted in 1830 or so by Mary Ellen Best,
which gave the authority for such
features as the double-height sash
windows in the sitting room and the
central oak table in the kitchen. Original
doors were retained wherever possible,
and replacement windows all have
hardwood glazing bars with lamb?s-tongue
mouldings. New iron supports were made
for the awnings over the front facade
and the side door, and I sorted out the
sitting-room floor using fake parquet tiles
from B&Q.
I have tried to keep the Mills as a refuge
for as many other earthlings as I can by
avoiding all use of poisons. The cobbles
in the front garden are burnt clean, rather
than herbicided. We have never used
slug pellets; slug control is left to the
thrushes and the toads. The soffits of the
outhouses have been drilled with holes
to make entries for the bats. A family of
swallows nests every year in the garage.
They make a mess, of course, but when
they didn?t come for five years, it felt like
the end of the world.
I think I can say that if you agree to
share the Mills with its humble
everyday critters they will repay you a
thousandfold, not just in pure delight,
but also in faith that, for all our mistakes,
Earth still has what it takes to survive.
The Mills is for sale for �25m through
Savills; 01223 347147, savills.co.uk
12 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
PETER TARRY
Home Improve
12 MONTHS,
�,500 ?
AND ZERO
PROGRESS
Ruth Bloomfield found a
fixer-upper easily enough ? but
fixing it up was another matter
F
ull disclosure: I used
to think that people
who had trouble
managing a simple
building project
must be idiots. With the easy
complacency of the armchair
critic, I was convinced that,
when my time came, things
would be very, very different.
Then I bought the
doer-upper of my dreams: a
Victorian cottage in need of
a full makeover and a kitchen
extension. A year on, I find
myself close to �,000
poorer, and living in limbo in
a home with dodgy electrics
and rotting windows. And not
a single brick has been laid.
My misadventures started
when I decided to move on
from my cosy two-bedroom
flat in Finchley, northwest
London. I wanted to own a
dog and needed a garden.
I began househunting and
realised that my job, writing
about property, has given me
expensive tastes in design. At
first it was all rather fun. Having
bought the house in February
last year, I hired an awardwinning architect, Simon
Astridge. I liked his work; he is
a born optimist, so a good foil
to my dour pessimism.
I began visiting cavernous
kitchen showrooms, where I
would stroke Caesarstone
quartz surfaces and unfailingly
pick the most expensive taps.
Rapidly, the costs began
mounting. Before submitting
my planning application, a
?measured CAD? survey was
needed to establish precise
dimensions (�125 plus VAT ?
you get good at calculating VAT.)
By April, the architect and
I had decided on the design:
a three-metre rear extension
to create a good-sized
kitchen/dining room. It would
replace the galley kitchen
and adjacent leaking lean-to.
A wall of Crittall windows and
doors, framed by a polished
concrete lintel, would lead out
to the garden.
At the start of May, I
submitted my plans to Barnet
council while I went about
remortgaging the house to
actually pay for the work. I
naively believed a �0,000
budget would be enough.
In July, there was reason to
celebrate. Not only had Barnet
approved the work, just within
the eight-week statutory time
limit, but my mortgage had
come through. The next hurdle
was the dreaded party-wall
agreements ? both my
neighbours had to agree to the
work. The delightful family
one side agreed at once. On
the other side are landlords,
who wanted their own
surveyor, at a cost (to me,
naturally) of �0.
Next, a building-control
inspector had to ensure that
everything on the project was
legal (�0 plus VAT ? I told
you). I also needed a structural
engineer to prevent nasty
surprises during the build
(�000). The engineer
requested that two large ?trial
Best laid plans
Ruth Bloomfield
in her northwest
London home,
which remains
unmodernised
a year after she
started plotting
a renovation
THE COST OF
GETTING THINGS
OFF THE GROUND
Measured CAD survey
Architect?s fees
(including planning)
Remortgage fee
Party-wall surveyor
Building-control inspector
Structural engineer
Trial pits
�350
�,415
�9
�0
�080
�000
�2
TOTAL
�,596
pits? be dug at the back of
the house so the foundations
could be examined. On a
sunny August morning, half a
dozen builders turned up to
excavate. Four hours and �2
later, the mournful expression
on the foreman?s face, and the
sight of metre-wide caverns
rapidly filling with water, did
not bode well.
North London is built on
claggy, unreliable clay soil. A
key element of my design was
to lower the kitchen floor by
2ft; the ceiling is so low that,
at 5ft 8in, I can touch it with
ease. Raising the roof is not an
option with a bathroom above.
The high water table that
the builders discovered meant
digging down would require
expensive underpinning. By
this point I was fed up. For the
past six months, I had been
stuck in a house with only three
working radiators, erratic
lights, windows painted shut
and the smell of damp. I had no
cooker ? the previous owner
had removed it on departure ?
and the kitchen taps gushed
only hot water.
I still had hopes of a 2017
start. In September, Simon
and the project leader, Ruta
Dumciute, drew up a detailed
tender document listing all
the work required and called
in three building firms for a
quote. The return of those
estimates a few weeks later
was a low point. All three were
about �0,000, excluding
VAT and ?client supply? items
? the materials and fittings I
would be buying myself.
My �0,000 budget had
been busted by �0,000,
and I couldn?t even justify the
increase by way of rising house
prices: values in suburban
London have flatlined.
My timeframe to complete
by the end of the year was well
and truly missed, and more
was to come. Builders are like
bad boyfriends. They start off
promising the earth, but once
you?ve given them your heart,
they go off you. Simon, Ruta
and I had a jolly meeting with
our chosen builder. He was
upbeat. Then silence. I finally
managed to reach him and
tried to negotiate a 10%
discount. A couple of weeks
later, he withdrew his bid.
Back to square one.
Early in the new year, Simon
drew up a second shortlist of
builders to begin the process
of site visits and quotes again.
Let this be a cautionary
tale to the increasing number
of people who dream of
self-building or extending
without fully understanding
how many hoops they may
need to jump through just to
get started. Since April 1, 2016,
more than 33,000 people have
signed up to the government?s
?right to build? register, the
National Custom & Self Build
Association reports.
On the upside, there is a
chink of light. At the time of
writing, I am hours away from
meeting a new builder. By this
time next year, I should be
enjoying my new home. But I
wouldn?t put any money on it.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 15
T
he loo, you say?
Yes, of course.
Down the
corridor, turn
right. You can?t
miss it ? it?s just opposite the
climbing wall.
Not been to a dinner party
like this yet? Me neither. But
it?s a safe bet they?re going on.
Because in-house (and indeed
in-garage, in-barn and
in-garden) climbing walls are
very much in vogue. Some
are �0 DIY jobs with a few
handholds; others sprawling,
faux-rock-face fibreglass affairs
that consume outbuildings
and cost �000.
Forget that broken exercise
bike, hefty treadmill or dusty
set of weights in the corner ?
home exercise has gone
upwardly mobile. Pro climbers
looking to hone technique
round the clock are playing
their part, but just as many
seem to be being installed by
recreational climbers, or even
beginners, drawn to the
novelty, the all-weather fitness
benefits and, particularly, the
modest space requirements.
It?s an athletically aspirational
look, too.
They?re great for kids
(climbing the walls takes on
a whole new meaning), but
equally easy to customise with
more difficult routes for Mum
and Dad. Even the all-action
Brexit secretary, David Davis,
has one in the barn of his
constituency home in
Yorkshire ? so, like his boss,
he?s no stranger to clinging
on by his fingertips.
We?re not talking 200ft
replicas of El Capitan here.
Most in-home walls are for
bouldering, a stripped-down
version of the sport in which
colour-coded holds are
arranged to form routes, or
?problems? that climbers must
solve. These holds can be
unscrewed and shifted to
different pre-drilled holes to
increase difficulty, meaning
the problems get more and
more intractable. (We?re back
to Brexit.) The only kit you
need is climbing shoes and
perhaps a chalk bag.
The trend reflects the
explosion in popularity of
indoor climbing. Nearly 1m
people gave it a go in 2017,
according to the Association
of British Climbing Walls, with
100,000 doing so regularly.
Further impetus has come
from climbing?s admission
into the 2020 Olympics in
Tokyo. And before you get
sniffy about it, bouldering as
a spectator sport is nothing
short of compelling viewing ?
YouTube it if you don?t believe
me. Athletic and cerebral, it?s
like high-energy vertical
sudoku. With Lycra.
Andy and Kitt Ratford put
the finishing touches to the
climbing wall on the landing
of their house in Newcastle
last month. About 10ft high,
with two panels that meet in
a corner and support 50
holds, it?s for their two girls,
Finn, 6, and Ada, 3. ?Our
house is a Victorian terrace
with high ceilings, so there
UPWARDLY
MOBILE
Kids driving you
up the wall?
Embrace it, with
the growing
trend for home
climbing rooms.
By Duncan Craig
KATIE LEE
Home Improve
Once the kids are in
bed, they retreat to
the climbing room ?
with a baby monitor
? and can boulder
away to their
hearts? content
is plenty of what you might
call dead space ? or rather,
useful space,? says Andy, 45,
a project manager at an
engineering firm. ?Most
people are puzzled by what
we?re doing, but the girls
love it.?
The couple did some
research on climbing forums
before assembling it, getting
the wood from a local timber
yard and the screws, holds
and safety mats off the
internet. ?It wasn?t difficult,
and it?s great value ? probably
�0 all in. Hopefully we?ll
get a lot of use out of it.?
Alicia and Chris Reid?s
version, at their barn
conversion near Barnard
Castle, Co Durham, is the next
level up. Set in a narrow room
in an outbuilding, it has an
impressive finish, with twin
skylights throwing light onto
whitewashed walls studded
with brightly coloured holds.
It took a joiner a week and
cost them about �500.
Their children, Fenn, 2, and
three-month-old Tiff, were
also the catalyst for this ? but
for different reasons.
?We used to go climbing a
lot and now we can?t, because,
as parents, we have no time
or life!? says Alicia, who is
managing director of their
family electrical business. So
now, once the kids are in bed,
she and Chris retreat to their
climbing room ? often with a
baby monitor ? and boulder
away to their hearts? content.
Or at least until their arms give
way. (The muscle loading of
climbing means sessions are
traditionally quite short.)
Three-year-old Daisy
Thomson?s mountain-biking
and film-making father, Stu,
converted the upstairs floor
of the slate-roofed garage at
the family home in Aberfoyle,
Perthshire, into a climbing
area for all the family. He did
it himself and it cost ?about
�0?. Daisy plies the easier
routes among the monkey
and tree stickers at one end,
while Stu and his wife, Amber,
attack the harder holds on
the 45-degree pitched roofs
either side. ?We?re not huge
climbers,? Stu admits, ?but
we are an active family. I had
the space, so why not??
If you?d rather have a
professional construct your
vertical play park, there are
a number of companies
?
Living the high life
Alicia and Chris Reid
in their climbing
room, with their son,
Fenn, and baby Tiff
16 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Fenn Reid learning to
climb at the age of two
? taking advantage of the
boom. ClimbAwall, an offshoot
of a family-run carpentry
and joinery company based
in Barnstaple, Devon, sells
everything from single panels
with holds (�) to 11-panel
kits, complete with overhang,
for �9. Lori Watts, a director
at the firm, says business is up
100% year on year, with most
of the demand coming from
recreational climbers.
Ben Hunter, founder of the
Derbyshire-based Mock Rock
? one of the few companies
that attaches holds direct to
masonry ? confirms that
inquiries about customised
home walls are on the rise.
And Scott Muir, who runs one
of Scotland?s top suppliers,
Dream Climbing Walls, is
doing a roaring trade. He
reckons the Olympics will have
a ?massive knock-on effect?.
Christopher Bird, 39, sees
his climbing ?cave? ? a
shed-like structure in his
garden in Milton Keynes ? as
a resale asset. Strip the holds
away and it?s a summerhouse,
he says. Christopher, a chief
technical officer for a bank,
invested nearly �000 getting
the structure built after
moving from London, as he
got fed up with the 40-minute
round trip to his nearest
commercial wall.
Everyone who
comes round wants
to have a go. Kids
absolutely love it,
probably because
it?s so colourful
The structure (built by Mock
Rock) has six colour-coded
routes, some of which extend
across the ceiling, with an
additional one set up for
Christopher?s five-year-old
daughter, Emma. The longest
climb he?s done is a lateral
70 metres ?before my arms
gave way?. Welcome to the
(summer)house of pain.
Editor-in-chief of
UKClimbing.com, and a
sponsored climber herself,
Natalie Berry, 26, is delighted
that the home-wall market is
booming. As a 10-year-old
inseparable from her chalk
bag, she ?pestered and
pestered? her father to build
a wall in their Glasgow home.
And, as is the way with
doting dads, he duly obliged.
It?s still there.
?We had a big garage that
the car never really went in,
so eventually he gave in,? she
recalls. ?I?d go home after
school, do my homework,
then go straight in.?
It?s tempting to see Natalie?s
father as a pioneer, but this is
actually a case of a movement
that?s gone full circle. The
first indoor walls, created in
the 1980s, were replicas of
routes serious sport climbers
wanted to practise. They
were often built in their
cellars, particularly in popular
climbing areas such as
Sheffield, and were decidedly
unglamorous.
?Some of the walls we?re
seeing today look like they?re
driven more by architects
than climbers,? says Alex
Messenger, head of marketing
at the British Mountaineering
Council. ?Great fun, but a
little too... clean.?
Possibly the best in-home
wall in the UK belongs to
probably the best climber in
the country. (Neither
statement is his ? he?s way
too modest). Dave MacLeod,
39, bought his house in
Roybridge, near Fort William,
three years ago partly off the
back of the potential he saw
in the pitched-roofed double
garage ? and parking his car
was the last thing on his mind.
About �000 later, he had
a professionally built and
ratified facility that would be
the envy of any commercial
climbing centre ? and from
which he runs training
courses. It has hundreds
of holds and, even to a
non-climber, exerts a strong
pull. ?Everyone who comes
round wants to have a go,?
Dave says, shortly after
finishing up a coaching
session. ?Kids, particularly,
absolutely love it. Probably
because it?s so colourful.?
He loves the convenience.
?Having your own wall fits
into your lifestyle so much
better. The funny thing is, you
don?t actually need a lot of
space. The bigger it is, the
more fun you can have, but
even if it?s just a small wall
and a few grips, you can be
doing the basics.?
And it means he gets to
hang out, quite literally, with
his seven-year-old daughter,
Freida. ?We spend a huge
amount of time in there,? he
says. ?We swing about, chase
each other, have fun. It?s like
a big games room for her.?
Sounds like Freida would
be a good outside bet for
climbing honours in the 2032
Olympics. Wherever it?s held,
she?ll be able to draw on
plenty of home advantage.
CHRIS PRESCOTT/DARK SKY MEDIA; KATIE LEE
Home
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 17
As a child, Natalie
Berry pestered
her father to turn
the garage at
their family home
into a climbing
room
BIGGER,
BRIGHTER,
BOULDER: HOW
TO BUILD YOUR
OWN WALL
repeatedly landing on them.
So be careful.?
Location, location, location
Somewhere with a bit of
height is obviously
preferable. Outbuildings,
lofts, garages and basements
all work well. If it?s in the
main house ? a spare room
or landing, perhaps ? factor
in the chalk dust.
Board rigid Most home
walls are made from 18mm
plywood, drilled with regular
holes into which M10 T-nuts
are placed for the bigger
holds. This needs to be set
away from the wall to allow
for bolt clearance, and
needs to be reinforced from
behind. (Timber beams are
a good idea.) If the wall is
in a visible spot, you may
wish to paint it before
attaching the T-nuts.
Take the strain You need to
be sure that your chosen
spot can take the weight of
people hanging off it. ?The
biggest risk of a home wall is
the DIY associated with it,?
says Alex Messenger, of the
British Mountaineering
Council. ?Your attic may
seem like a logical place to
bolt a climbing wall, as it?s
got the right angle, but the
roof is not made to take that
load ? and the ceilings
below definitely aren?t made
to take the weight of you
Map it out Have a broad
idea of the sort of climbing
you want to do. A simple
vertical wall is great for kids,
but if you want to stretch
yourself, you should aim
for an overhang or even a
ceiling section.
Holds on tight Bags of
assorted climbing holds can
be bought through suppliers
such as www.holdz.co.uk;
or search online for
second-hand ones. Resist
the urge to make your own
wooden holds, as they will
be harder on the fingers and
more prone to come away
from the wall.
Mat finish It?s essential that
you have something to break
your fall. Gym-style training
mats offer some protection,
as do mattresses, but the
best option would be fitted
mats. Be aware that the
latter can end up costing as
much as all the other
elements combined.
Policy wonk Notify your
home insurance company
in advance, and bear in
mind that some may increase
your premium or even
refuse cover. If that?s the
case, you?ll need to take out
a tailor-made policy.
More information Visit
ukclimbing.com or
thebmc.co.uk, both of which
have articles on building
climbing walls. If you?re
renting and unable to make
adjustments to your
property, consider a
freestanding training wall
such as a Power Station;
powerstationtraining.com.
Suppliers Climbawall.co.uk;
drclimbingwalls.com;
dreamclimbingwalls.com;
indoor-rock.co.uk;
mockrock.co.uk;
playcrete.com.
18 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Market
�5,000
LAND TAX O
T
GWYNEDD
Aberdovey is a Victorian
seaside resort in Snowdonia
National Park. Gwel Afon, a
five-bedroom former
fisherman?s cottage, has steps
down to the beach. Four of
the bedrooms have french
windows with juliet balconies;
the sitting room, kitchen
and breakfast room have
similarly invigorating views.
The town is about an hour
from Aberystwyth by car.
01743 284200,
struttandparker.com
�0,000
PEMBROKESHIRE
It may be called Tides Reach,
but this country pile is a
little way inland, near the
village of Cosheston, two
miles from Pembroke Dock.
The five-bedroom pile would
appeal to horsey types:
its 2.2 acres contain several
stables and two fenced
paddocks. There?s also a
four-bedroom attached
annexe, ideal for lettings. It?s
for sale by public auction in
Cardiff on March 27.
029 2036 8930, savills.co.uk
�9,995
BRIDGEND
Ogmore Vale, a former mining
village, may not seem like
an obvious place to buy
property ? but it?s a hotspot
for commuters from Cardiff
and Swansea looking for
more house for their money
(it?s about 45 minutes? drive to
both) and investors chasing
yields of 10%-15%. This house
has five bedrooms, pretty
floors (mosaic tiles, parquet)
and a cast-iron hearth.
0800 008 6906,
hunters.com
here?s a quiet revolution
brewing on the remote hilltops
and rugged coastlines of Wales,
where some of Britain?s
favourite second-home
locations are set to be shaken by a new
property purchase tax that could add tens
or even hundreds of thousands of pounds
to the cost of buying a high-value home.
From next month, stamp duty in Wales
is being replaced with a land transaction
tax (LTT). According to the devolved
Welsh government, it should leave 95%
of purchasers paying the same amount
or less tax than before. The remaining
buyers, however, are set to be stung hard.
The Welsh housing market, rarely
discussed outside the country itself,
already differs sharply from England?s.
The Office for National Statistics says the
average home in Wales costs �4,000 ?
a full �,000 less than the figure for
England. If you rent in Wales, you have
greater protection than you do across
the Severn Bridge: the Rent Smart Wales
system has licensed 177,000 properties,
87,000 landlords and 3,000 letting agents,
and has issued 185 fixed-penalty notices to
rogue operators. England is still awaiting
the rollout of a rogue landlords? database.
The scrapping of stamp duty, however,
marks the biggest divergence yet. LTT will
generally be lower for buyers of homes
below �0,000, but much higher for
those purchasing properties above that
threshold. Like its English counterpart,
LTT will impose a 3% surcharge on holiday
cottages and buy-to-let investment
properties; however, the exemption from
stamp duty for many first-time buyers in
England will not be replicated in Wales.
Johnny Morris, head of research at
Britain?s largest estate agency,
Countrywide, says the biggest
losers from the new LTT are
set to be second-home
buyers, increasing numbers
of whom ? local rugby
fans may be delighted to
hear ? are English.
Will your neighbourhood
Morris has prepared
make the cut?
data for The Sunday Times
Find out next Sunday
showing that, last year,
#STbestplaces
about 4,150 house sales in
Wales (9% of the total) were
second homes ? two-thirds were
bought by Welsh residents and one
third by English. Back in 2007, 15% of
sales in Wales were second homes, but
only a fifth were to English buyers.
Tough break? Popular holiday-home
The west coast has the biggest
locations such as Whitesands Bay,
concentration of second homes, and in
above, in Pembrokeshire, and
seven of Wales?s 22 local authorities, at
Abersoch, right, in Gwynedd, are
least 2% of the housing stock is holiday
likely to be affected by the new tax
cottages or investment flats. In Gwynedd,
home to popular locations such as
Abersoch, the proportion is almost 10%,
While many locals will have little
while it is 5.3% in Ceredigion and 4.7%
sympathy for anyone able to afford a
in Pembrokeshire spots such as St Davids
� property ? and a second home at
and Tenby.
that ? agents have reported a rush to
?Second homes constituted 9% of all
beat the deadline. ?In the past month,
house purchases in Wales in 2017, but
we?ve agreed half a dozen deals, ranging
contributed 30% of the stamp duty,?
from �0,000 to �5m, where the
Morris says. ?That?s because they were
buyers have indicated that they want
typically well above average price.? He
to get the sale over the line before the
adds that LTT ? which is set to be higher
end of March,? says Nick Withinshaw,
than stamp duty on big-ticket homes ?
a director at Jackson-Stops?s Chester
will hit the same sector even more.
office, which also covers north Wales.
Buyers of a Welsh second home at,
He predicts that sellers will have to take
say, � now pay �,750 stamp duty,
the extra tax into account when setting
but will be clobbered with an LTT levy
asking prices.
of �,250; if the sale price is �,
If the experience of Scotland is
today?s stamp duty of �3,750 will rise
repeated ? where a land and buildings
to �8,350 from April 1.
transaction tax (LBTT) replaced stamp
New stamp-duty rules in Wales will
hit high-value properties, but the
worst affected will be second-home
buyers. By Graham Norwood
BEST
PLACES TO
LIVE 2018
SECOND HOMES
LEAGUE TABLE
Local
authority
Second
homes
Gwynedd
5,626
9.7%
Ceredigion
1,766
5.3%
Pembrokeshire
2,801
4.7%
Isle of Anglesey
1,471
4.3%
Conwy
1,473
2.7%
Powys
1,261
2.0%
Swansea
2,064
2.0%
Cardiff
2,716
1.9%
Carmarthenshire
1,182
1.4%
Vale of Glamorgan
647
1.2%
Source: Countrywide
% of all
homes
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 19
KEITH MORRIS/GETTY IMAGES; PAUL WESTON/ALAMY
OF
O MY FATHERS
LAND TRANSACTION
TAX: HOW IT WORKS
From April 1, when you buy a home
in Wales, the following LTT rates will
apply instead of stamp duty
NO
3.5%
5%
7.5%
10%
12%
LTT
up to and
including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�5m
portion over
�5m
LTT
The biggest
losers could
be ? local
rugby fans
may be
delighted
to hear ?
the English
duty back in April 2015 ? the Welsh
high-end market may have a rough ride.
The Perthshire estate agency Bell Ingram
recently sold a �15m property that would
have attracted a levy of �,750 under
stamp duty. Under LBTT, the fee was
�,350, and with the 3% second-home
surcharge, the total purchase tax came
to a startling �0,850.
?This is making people do one of two
things ? not move at all, or negotiate hard
on the price, based the vendor on reducing
it by the level of tax due,? says Carl
Warden, the agency?s senior associate.
In Wales, there are now council-tax
surcharges on second homes, too ?
some already introduced, others on their
way ? under new powers given to local
authorities. Denbighshire, Wrexham,
Powys and Flintshire councils are setting
50% rates; Ceredigion and Anglesey have
gone for 25%.
Yet while the jury is out on how much
the Welsh high-end housing sector will
suffer under the weight of new taxes,
the rest of the market is booming. Most
of Wales saw price rises in 2017, the
Principality Building Society reports,
with Pembrokeshire increasing the most
at 8.1%. And 4,800 first-time-buyer
mortgages were completed in Wales
during the final quarter of last year,
14.3% up on the same period of 2016,
according to UK Finance.
In the south, the employment centres
of Swansea and Cardiff are performing
well and, with tolls to be scrapped on the
Severn Bridge from late 2018, some young
professionals working near the border are
opting to buy or rent on the Welsh side.
?We?re seeing investors flock from
London and Bristol,? says Luke Jones,
director of Hunters estate agency in
Ogmore Vale and Bridgend. ?In the
valleys, a two- or three-bedroom terraced
house costs �,000 to �,000 and
secures rental yields of 8% to 15%, due
to the proximity to the cities.?
Shadi Fatemi, 26, and her cousin
Shahin Khosravi, 28, from London, are
new buy-to-let investors in Wales,
having purchased six terraced houses
in the valleys, priced between �,000
and �,000. Even after spending tens
of thousands renovating those in the
worst condition, the pair expect 10%
annual returns. ?We chose south Wales
because of the exceptionally low prices
and because we?re likely to get a mix of
tenants ? families and commuters to
Cardiff,? says Fatemi, an office
administrator.
Yet while the mainstream market looks
likely to have a strong year, with healthy
demand from owner-occupiers and
investors alike, questions remain about
the impact on more expensive properties
and second homes. Time will tell whether
the English beat a hasty retreat.
20 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL DRIVER
Home Experts
rts
THE BEST
SMART HEATING SYSTEMS
Nest Learning Thermostat
3rd Generation; �9;
nest.com/uk; 82/100
l Stylish, easy to use
l Tells you how long it will
take to reach your desired
temperature
l Activity sensor
automatically turns the
heating down if it detects
that nobody?s home
l Self-learning function
predicts your patterns
goodhousekeeping.co.uk
/institute
READERS?
CLINIC
Tip of the week
Re Scott Rodgers?s rising
damp (Home, February 25).
If rising damp is causing
plaster to lift or bubble
near the base of a wall, a
simple cure is to remove a
bit. Using an electric drill
with a sanding plate
attached, use the edge of
the sanding disc to cut
through the plaster just
above the skirting board, to
the wall behind. The tiny slit
will be almost invisible but
it breaks the continuity
between skirt and wall, the
join of which is often
sealed with gloss paint.
Doing this creates an air
gap, so moisture in the wall
can evaporate.
Andrew Bamji, Rye
Future questions
l Should I get a ducted
extractor fan in the kitchen,
or a recirculation hood?
l How do I get a new
Chubb key to work
smoothly?
l How do I remove a
lipstick stain from a dress?
l Do electric radiators
work out cheaper than gas?
Send tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk
OUR NEIGHBOUR?S
GARDEN WALL IS
CRUMBLING ?
AND TAKING OURS
DOWN, TOO
Q
Our house
is one of a
number
of terraced
Georgian houses.
At the rear we all
have a connected wall at
the end of our gardens.
Unfortunately, our
neighbour?s part of the wall
collapsed, taking down our
part to one side, and
another neighbour?s part on
the other side. This also
caused the gardens to
collapse onto the street.
As they are interconnected,
the walls will all need to be
rebuilt at the same time.
However, the neighbour
has stopped responding
to emails and calls and
seems to have ?gone to
ground? over the issue.
Can we legally force them
to rebuild their part of the
wall, so as to allow us to
rebuild our part of the wall?
Stephen Simson, Bath
Drayton Wiser Multi-zone
Kit 1; �0;
amazon.co.uk; 77/100
l Great value
l Lets you control the
temperature in different
rooms separately
l Lacks bells and whistles,
but simple to use
Honeywell Lyric T6R,
�9; plumbnation.co.uk;
73/100
l Switches heat off when
last person leaves house
l Apple users can control
heating by talking to Siri
l Simple to use
l Unable to detect if
there?s activity in the house
or if a window is open
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
HOME
HELP
A
Want to deter cats or give bathroom tiles a
clean new look? Our advisers are on hand
Q
I?d like to update the
tiles in my bathroom
but can?t afford to rip
them all out and start
again. Is there a good,
hardwearing tile paint?
CD, London
A
Before you paint tiles,
always use a good primer;
for floors, Zinsser Bulls Eye
1-2-3 is ideal (� for 1 litre).
After application, wait an
hour, then paint with a
heavy-duty floor or tile paint.
Leyland Trade is sold in DIY
stores (� for 5 litres) and its
range of colours is OK, but the
paint gives off strong fumes so
use a mask. For walls, use a
wall tile paint: V33, available
from B&Q (� for 2 litres),
includes the primer, comes
in eight colours and is very
durable.
Alternatively, we have seen
excellent results on both wall
and floor tiles with Fusion
Mineral Paint (� for 500ml);
it also offers the best colour
range. Use a coat of Fusion
Ultra Grip primer first, then
apply the paint with a small
microfibre roller for the best
finish; you may want to use a
brush first to get into the grout
lines so you don?t miss any
bits. Fusion is virtually
odourless: Ultra Grip needs
12 hours to dry before you can
apply the paint, which takes
another 1-2 hours to dry (�
for 500ml).
The firm claims that once
it is fully cured (this is a
hardening process, different
from the drying time), the
paint is unrivalled for
durability. Curing takes
21 days to complete, so treat
surfaces gently until then.
Wayne Perrey and Steph Bron,
founders of thediydoers.com
Q
I?m looking forward to
the summer, when I can
open the windows. I?m
planning to replace my old
timber-framed ones with
PVC double-glazed units,
but I want to keep out flying
insects. I have spent a lot of
time in America, where bug
screens are commonplace:
in New York they have
simple expanding mesh
frames that fit inside the
window frame. You then
lower the sash until it holds
the bug screen captive.
These are cheap, and in
winter you store them away.
What are my options here?
Simon Plant, via email
A
There are many different
ways to keep out the bugs.
There are roll-down fly
screens made from a durable
mesh that you can cut to the
width of your window. They
are simple to put into place,
often made from PVC-coated
fibreglass mesh, and work well
with sash windows. But they
can also work on hinged
windows, if you install them
on the inside, as your windows
will open outwards. You then
pull down the blinds from
inside. PVC roller fly screens
are sold by Avosdim, a
specialist window fitter, in
standard dimensions or made
to measure (from �).
For a quicker and cheaper
solution, there are stick-on fly
screens that adhere to the
inside frames. They are easy to
put up and take off, so you can
remove them in the winter.
Avosdim does self-adhesive
PVC Fly Screen in three sizes
(from �for 1 sq metre).
A cheaper option is the
Rentokil Window Fly Screen
(�20 from Amazon), which
First look at your title
deeds to see if they state
who should repair and
maintain the wall. If there are
express obligations, check
with your solicitor to make
sure that you can enforce
them against your
neighbour. Your fallback is
that your neighbour owes
you a duty not to create a
attaches with tape. It?s light and
portable ? ideal for travelling.
Rod Smith, adviser,
manomano.co.uk
Q
A cat has started doing
its business in an alley
beside my house. We
have tried cleaning it with
bleach but the cat keeps
returning, thinking that it is
its toilet. How can I deter
the cat from coming back?
EC, via email
A
Cats are usually good at
burying their faeces in the
soil, where they get broken
down naturally. But pet cats
can get lazy ? my own
defecates brazenly in the
middle of the lawn.
You are right that they do
revisit familiar, safe places to
squat. The trouble is finding
something to cover the smell
from previous visits: bleach is
designed for smooth sanitary
surfaces, not tarmac or gravel,
so is likely to be ineffective.
Various proprietary cat
peppers and granules are
available; scattering these
across the ground is meant to
repel the animals rather than
nuisance. This means
checking that the wall is safe,
and taking steps to maintain
it. If the wall might collapse,
steps must be taken to
remove or reduce this risk.
Your neighbour?s duty will
be both to you and to the
owner of the road. If you can
show that the condition of
the neighbour?s part
of the wall had
deteriorated so as
to cause your
section to
collapse, the
neighbour is likely
to be liable for the
damage that you
have suffered. This will
especially be the case if you
can show either that the
neighbour knew or ought to
have known of the
deterioration and the risk of
a collapse with damage to
other parts of the wall.
If the neighbour does not
accept liability, you will
require a court order,
known as a mandatory
injunction, to force them to
rebuild their part of the wall,
and failure to comply may
be treated as contempt of
court, which can lead to
prison. Whether a court
would make such an order
in this case will depend on
the expert view of what really
can be done. If the evidence
is that it is possible to rebuild
your part of the wall on its
own, the court is unlikely to
order an injunction against
the neighbour, but will
rather order that the
neighbour should pay for
the cost of rebuilding your
part of the wall.
Andrew Chesser and Henry
Stuart, partners at Withers;
withersworldwide.com
mask latrine smells. Some
people claim chilli powder or
paprika also works. Cats don?t
like loud high-pitched noises,
so electronic ultra-sonic
devices are available and birdfriendly. My father used to
rush into the garden hissing
and howling like a banshee if a
neighbour?s cat ever appeared.
Lying in wait in your alley
might be too labour-intensive,
but if you do, water pistols are
also recommended. If you
have seen the YouTube videos,
in which cats are scared witless
by cucumbers placed behind
them, you might give some
credence to a New Zealand
remedy of leaving short pieces
of green hose around the
garden ? the theory is that the
felines instinctively mistake it
for a snake and hurry off.
Richard Jones, author of
House Guests, House Pests
(Bloomsbury �99);
bugmanjones.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sundaytimes.co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
HOW
TO...
CLEAN WINDOWS
With sunnier, longer days
on the way when the clocks
change later this month, our
less than spotless windows
will come into the spotlight. Is
it really that murky outside, or
are you just looking through
layers of dirt and grease?
Here?s how to make your
windows sparkle.
THE BASICS
It may seem counterintuitive,
but don?t clean a window in
bright sunlight, despite the
fact that it?s easier to see
where the dirt is ? the
warmed glass will dry too
quickly, leaving streaks.
Instead, choose a dry, cloudy
day; or, if it is sunny and
you are itching to get going,
clean windows that are in
the shade.
Give the inside panes and
sills a going-over with a
household dustpan and
brush, or the narrow nozzle
of a vacuum cleaner. That
way, dirt and cobwebs won?t
get mixed into the cleaning
solution later. Make sure
curtains and blinds are out of
the way and clear anything
that?s on the sill ? you want
room to manoeuvre.
If you are cleaning the
outside windows, start with
those upstairs, so any water
run-off doesn?t spoil the work
you have done below. Do as
much of them as you can
safely reach from inside; some
modern double-glazed panes
will rotate to allow this. For the
bits you can?t get to, you can
get brushes and cloths on
poles, but your best bet is to
take a deep breath and climb
that (well fixed) ladder to
attack them close up.
If you have more than a
few windows to do, it is
wisest to hire a professional
(see below). It?s not worth
breaking your neck for the
sake of a few smeary panes.
EQUIPMENT
As to what to use, Andrew
Lee, managing director of
JA Lee Window and General
Cleaning Contractors, based
in Cumbria, and chairman of
the Federation of Window
Cleaners, says all you need is
a wet cloth, a dry cloth and
some soapy water in a bucket:
a weak solution of washingup liquid is ideal. The cloths
should be lint-free, so they
don?t leave fibres behind.
PAUL BRADBURY/GETTY IMAGES
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 21
?Old towelling is perfect ? it
has been washed lots of
times, so has lost its lint, but is
still abrasive,? he says. You
could also put old cotton
T-shirts and napkins to use.
For the ?detailing? ? the
bits by the edges and in the
corner, Lee says window
cleaners often opt for
microfibre cloths or scrim,
a rough fabric made from
flax or cotton that is usually
used for upholstery. You can
find it, and lots of other
window-cleaning products,
at windowcleancentre.co.uk.
If you have large windows
or patio doors, it is less effort
to use a squeegee, keeping
the dry cloth to give
everything a last wipe and
polish. Screwfix.com has
them from � and Lakeland
has a range that covers even
the smallest panes (from
�79; lakeland.co.uk).
TECHNIQUE
?Mastering this is a skill,? Lee
says. ?It is not just side to side
or up and down.? Watch a
good window cleaner and
you will see them start at the
top corner, go along the
edge, then take a serpentine
trail to the bottom, without
the rubber blade lifting from
the glass. At the bottom, turn
the blade upwards with a flick
so all the water doesn?t drip
off the bottom of the pane,
though you may need the
towel to clean this up. Use
the microfibre cloth to rub
away obstinate insect or
finger marks, then polish with
the dry cloth.
You can also use a special
window vacuum (K鋜cher?s
start at �; kaercher.com),
which acts like a squeegee,
but sucks up the suds as it
goes. They can be quite
cumbersome to manage,
especially if you are up a
ladder, but are handy for
mopping up condensation.
If you don?t have a lint-free
cloth, scrunched-up
newspaper, used with a
vinegar solution (50:50 with
distilled water), is a traditional
combination, as the paper
has a high absorbency rate
and the acid in the vinegar
will cut through the grime.
The newspaper, scrunched
into a pad, is good for buffing
glass when you have finished.
You can also use special
window-cleaning fluids,
available in supermarkets,
with your cotton cloths,
getting into the corners and
along the edges with your
finger or a stick under the
cloth. Microfibre cloths can
be used with just warm water;
E-cloth?s double window pack
costs �50 (e-cloth.com or
lakeland.co.uk).
USING A WINDOW CLEANER
A cleaner is going to have a
close-up view of your home
and its contents, so trust is
almost as important as the
ability to leave your windows
dazzling. Make sure you hire
someone from a reputable
company, preferably a
member of a trade
association ? the Federation
of Window Cleaners has
2,000 members ? or get a
recommendation from a
trusted source. Even if it is a
one-man (or woman) band,
they should have public
liability insurance to cover
any accidents.
Don?t be surprised if they
don?t get out a ladder and
head up to the skies ? the
2005 Work at Heights
Regulations were brought
in to minimise risks, so it?s
more than likely that they will
use telescopic poles. These
can extend to 60ft and are
fed with purified water.
Caroline Donald
24 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Overseas
GREEK
REVIVAL
T
here is not a house
in sight. Nothing
but rocks, trees,
mountains and
sea. It?s called
Kalamitsi.? So wrote Patrick
Leigh Fermor, the adventurer,
soldier and acclaimed travel
writer, to his wife, Joan, in
1962. He had discovered
this secluded spot near the
town of Kardamili, in the
Mani, the finger of land
pointing south from the
middle of the Peloponnese.
For two decades, he had
been searching for the ideal
place to build a home in his
beloved Greece ? where he
had fought with the resistance,
pulling off the spectacular
kidnapping of a German
general on Crete in 1944.
His 1958 work, Mani: Travels
in the Southern Peloponnese,
remains the definitive book
about this remote corner of
the continent.
And here he found that
ideal place: a low promontory
between two bays, protected
by the sea on one side, with
cypresses, pines and olive
trees on the other three, and
not a house in sight. An infinite
supply of gold-flecked building
stone lay in the Taygetus
Mountains, which rise steeply
from the sea. As if that
weren?t enough, Kardamili
had a connection with Leigh
Fermor?s beloved Homer: in
the Iliad, Agamemnon offers
the citadel of Kardamili to
Achilles. Now you can visit ?
and even stay in ? Leigh
Fermor?s unique sanctuary.
Once described as ?a cross
between Indiana Jones,
James Bond and Graham
The travel writer Patrick
Leigh Fermor?s beloved
home in the Peloponnese
is soon to open for guests.
Harry Mount steps inside
Greene?, Leigh Fermor died
in 2011, aged 96; Joan had
died eight years earlier, at 91.
The couple had no children,
so left the house to the Benaki
Museum in Athens, the
elegant neoclassical mansion
endowed in 1930 by the art
collector Antonis Benakis, a
friend of the couple.
The Leigh Fermors
envisaged their home as a
writers? retreat, and so that is
what it will become. Artists,
teachers and professors will
also be able to stay there.
From next summer, the house
will be open to the public
once a week; from 2020, it will
be available for hire from June
until August.
?This was Paddy?s express
wish,? says Irene Geroulanou,
the Benaki?s executive director.
She is the great-granddaughter
Athens
Peloponnese
Kalamata
Mani
Peninsula
KARDAMILI
50 miles
of Antonis, and was there on
the day in 1996 when the Leigh
Fermors signed the deed with
her grandmother, bequeathing
the house to the museum.
?It was a beautiful moment.
It?s all ended up very well.
It was a good outcome in the
middle of the [Greek financial]
crisis. Paddy is still a real
hero in Greece, one of the
outstanding heroes of the
Second World War. His books
are still published in Greece.?
The grand opening is
looming and, thanks to a
grant from the Stavros
Niarchos Foundation and
the vocal support of the
Patrick Leigh Fermor Society
in Britain, the property is
being restored. For all its
epic charm, the original
building was suitably spartan,
given that ancient Sparta is
JULIA KLIMI
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 25
only 20 miles away. There
was no air conditioning and
limited plumbing.
The building works are
subtly turning the original
four bedrooms into three
ensuites, each with a study
space. Leigh Fermor?s old
writing pavilion and his
housekeeper?s annexe will
provide two more rooms.
The utilities infrastructure
has been cleverly hidden in
the roof void. It will be
protected by new tiles ? on top
of them will lie the originals,
salvaged by Leigh Fermor
from Peloponnesian houses
destroyed by earthquakes.
Once the work is completed
next year, the villa will look
just as it did in its heyday.
The academics and
holidaymakers are in for a
treat ? not just in the form of
the house?s setting, but in its
design. The Leigh Fermors
bought the land at Kalamitsi
in 1964. Over five years, the
pair built the house,
consulting the ancient and
Renaissance experts Vitruvius
and Palladio, borrowing
inspiration, too, from the
handsome foursquare houses
sprinkled through the Mani.
Leigh Fermor enrolled local
masons, builders and mules to
cart the stone. He could also
call on advice from friends ?
the English painter John
Craxton and the Greek artist
Nikos Ghika, who designed the
serpentine pebble patterns in
the broad terrace overlooking
the sea. He also painted a chalk
mural of a girl, cat and a fish
in an outdoor niche, and a
mournful-looking lion?s head
by the front door. The work
of Ghika, Craxton and Leigh
Fermor features in a new
??
If a chicken were
to be found
wandering through
the library, no one
would be a bit
surprised
exhibition that has just started
at the British Museum.
And so art and nature
conspired to produce one
of the most charming villas in
the Mediterranean. Every
detail was carefully planned.
The house is strung around
an open courtyard
overlooking the sea. That
terrace has a sunken stone
table and benches built into
it. To one side, a staircase
leads down to a private
beach, from where Leigh
Fermor would swim around
Merope, the neighbouring
island ? not difficult for a man
who swam the Hellespont
when he was 70.
Inside, the bedrooms are
strung together in an enfilade
one room deep, connected
by an arched colonnade for
shade ? vital in this southern
tip of Europe. The idea was
inspired by monks? cells in
Greek monasteries and by
Ghika?s home on the island of
Hydra, a former Venetian
colony. Leigh Fermor?s eastern
travels inspired the ogive
fireplaces and the coffered
Ottoman ceilings.
The enfilade leads first to
?Almost magical
beauty? Patrick
Leigh Fermor,
pictured far left,
bought the plot
in 1964. He and
his wife spent five
years building the
house, in which
they entertained
the great and
the good over
the next 40 years,
and where he
wrote his most
famous books
a kitchen, then to what John
Betjeman called ?one of the
rooms of the world?: the
library, where Leigh Fermor
designed deep bookshelves
into the stone walls, lined
with Evelyn Waugh, Cyril
Connolly and his favourite
reference books. As he put it,
?Where a man?s Eleventh
Edition of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica is, there shall his
heart be also.? There?s also a
small section of the shelves
that carries a handwritten
sign saying ?Own Books?.
One step down from the
library and you?re in another
sunken room, with latticed
glass and built-in sofas on
three sides, overlooking
the sea. Leigh Fermor said
of the house, which is plainly
whitewashed throughout:
?I want it to be part of
outdoors, so that, if a chicken
were to be found wandering
through the library, no one
would be a bit surprised.?
A little further on from the
house lies a separate pavilion,
Leigh Fermor?s writing room,
where he toiled for nearly
half a century, in agonies of
writer?s block, trying to finish
his magisterial travel trilogy.
The first book, A Time of Gifts:
On Foot to Constantinople
from the Hook of Holland to
the Middle Danube, was
published in 1977. Next was
Between the Woods and the
Water, in 1986. The final book,
The Broken Road, edited by
Artemis Cooper and Colin
Thubron, was published in
2013, two years after Leigh
Fermor?s death.
For 40 years, the great and
good came to visit the Leigh
Fermors at Kardamili, among
them Stephen Spender, Freya
Stark and Nancy Mitford.
Then, as now, the house
passes the Mitford test: ?All
nice rooms are a bit shabby.?
Leigh Fermor kept up a
correspondence with
Mitford?s sister, Debo
Devonshire, for more than
50 years, until his death.
Bruce Chatwin was another
regular guest. In 1985, he
wrote The Songlines, his book
on Australian Aborigines, in
Room 1 in the neighbouring
Kalamitsi Hotel. After his
death in 1989, his ashes were
scattered, with Paddy in
attendance, in the shadow of
an impossibly romantic
Byzantine church high in the
mountains above Kardamili.
On the final morning of my
visit, I climbed the three miles
to the church, as Chatwin
often did. I sat by its tiny door
and stared back down to the
Messenian Gulf and Kardamili,
towards Leigh Fermor?s house,
perched on what he called
?a gently sloping world of the
utmost magical beauty?.
What a great delight that
we can now all, for a moment
at least, share this magical,
beautiful place.
Charmed Lives in Greece:
Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor
is at the British Museum,
London WC1, until July 15;
britishmuseum.org
For details of Patrick Leigh
Fermor?s house, call 0030 210
367 1090 or visit benaki.gr;
patrickleighfermorsociety.org
Harry Mount is the author
of Odyssey: Ancient Greece in
the Footsteps of Odysseus
(Bloomsbury �.99)
Home Interiors
NA
KATRINA
BURROUGHS
OUGHS
@Kat_Burroughs
I
f you are under 30,
one thing you can be
certain of is that life
will change, and will
go on changing. In your
twenties, you might be settling
for a stepping-stone job and
relationship, and you are
unlikely to be living in the
house of your dreams.
While I hesitate to advise
anyone on career or love life,
I can suggest a route to
property-based contentment
that doesn?t involve winning
the lottery. When you shut the
door on the outside world, you
can be happy and comfortable
in your current home, even if
the plumbing is below par and
you aren?t allowed a puppy.
The key is canny buying
for your interiors: putting
together a capsule kit of items
you love to live with now
that will travel with you and
make homes of all your future
residences. To start you off,
here?s a list of 30 things to buy
before you?re 30 (and keep).
The mix you need in your
interiors portfolio is plenty of
good-quality necessities and
some design investments.
For excellent-value everyday
objects, consider a set of Tesco
cast-iron cookware, a Brown
Betty teapot and almost any
textiles from H&M ? they
really are exceptionally good,
from towels to throws. The
company?s offshoot, Arket,
does a cracking tea towel.
Once you have the beautiful
basics, splurge on icons: an
Anglepoise for the bedside, a
String shelving system, cutlery
by Henning Koppel for Georg
Jensen. Everyone?s design lust
list will be different ? all I?d
recommend is that you buy
nothing you would save for
best. Best is no longer a thing.
It?s crucial to incorporate
glamorous touches in your
capsule. Even on a budget, you
can find marble-topped tables
(the new one from Atkin and
Thyme costs �9), velvet
?
30
FOR
Generation rent doesn?t
have to miss out on
stylish furniture. These
designs are perfect for
twentysomethings ? and
should last a lifetime
D BLACKMORE
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 27
The one, the only... I give you
the Brown Betty teapot. Proper
adulting is owning this classic.
�; davidmellordesign.com
UNDER
30s
Everyday glassware perfected
by Iittala: Kartio tumblers, by
Kaj Franck, �50 and �
davidmellordesign.com
Hay, the Danish design brand,
worked with Ikea on the
Ypperlig collection. Right, sofa
bed, �0; cushion cover, �
throw, � ikea.co.uk
No need to splash out on big names: Tesco?s Go Cook Cast Iron
Casserole Dishes are great value. � each; tesco.com
Mondaine?s famous Swiss
Railway wall clock, designed
by Hans Hilfiker in 1944.
�5; amara.com
Ruark Audio?s classic DAB
radio, the R1 Mk III, is shown
in a walnut finish.
�0; ruarkaudio.com
Look sharp: David Mellor?s Black Handle starter knife set consists
of four stainless-steel blades. �6; davidmellordesign.com
Handsome and robust, enamelware stands the test of time.
This six-piece prep set starts at �. falconenamelware.com
28 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Interiors
? cushions (� at Nisi Living)
and polished brass lamps
(BHS?s Beryl costs �).
Most of the furniture in my
list of 30 for the sub-30s is
space-saving. That?s because
designers have been thinking
hard about what millennials
want, and have come up
with compact, lightweight,
easy-to-assemble and portable
furniture. Generation Y is
style-savvy, moves often and is
likely to rent and to live in
small flats. Ranges that meet
the brief include Morten, from
Heal?s; John Lewis?s House;
Loft at M&S; and Ypperlig,
Ikea?s collaboration with Hay.
Habitat has made this
cohort its inspiration. Kate
Butler, the firm?s head of
product design, explains:
?There was a perception that
if you were renting a property,
you didn?t have a) the budget,
The rental market
wants quality
design, but needs
manoeuvrability
and durability
from products
b) permission from the
landlord to decorate, and
therefore c) the inclination
to furnish a space with
interesting design pieces. But
this is something we?ve been
challenging in the design
studio at Habitat, creating
modern ?rent-friendly?
products for a rental market
that wants and expects quality
and cool design, but needs
manoeuvrability and durability
from products.?
While most designers have
focused on compact size,
quality and value, some
creatives have taken the need
for longevity as a starting
point. Tom Dixon designed
Ikea?s Delaktig sofa, which
incorporates a side table, a
lamp and moveable arm and
back rests, and turns into a
bed. He intended it to see its
owner through several life
stages: ?You get married or
split up, and you might want a
different configuration. Don?t
chuck Delaktig away if you?re
finished with it ? turn it into
something else, something
new. Or save it for the children,
so they can take it with them
when they move out.?
If you haven?t yet turned 30,
it may not be time to start
worrying about which sofa to
give the kids. That?s a list for
another day.
Happiness is a smart laundry
bin, like this handwoven
stainless-steel basket by Korbo.
�0; nordichouse.co.uk
There are areas where you
can save and never regret it.
Flatware is not one of them.
This is Henning Koppel?s New
York cutlery. � for four
pieces; georgjensen.com
Every kitchen table needs a
piece of British china. Burleigh
Felicity tableware starts at �
for a saucer. burleigh.co.uk
Nordic classics from Iittala include Teema plates, Kastehelmi
glassware and patterned plates designed by Klaus Haapaniemi.
Prices start at � for a 17cm Teema Dotted Blue plate.
skandium.com
It tops wedding lists, but why
not buy it for yourself? Dualit
Classic four-slot toaster, in
stainless steel with a polished
finish. �5; dualit.com
The String Pocket is ideal small shelving. Two
side panels and three shelves in ash/white cost
�2; above the bed, a String cabinet, with ash
sliding doors, starts at �7. skandium.com
Luxury on a budget: Cozy Living?s inexpensive
cotton velvet-fronted cushions (30cm x 50cm)
come in pink, mint, yellow and blue.
� each; nisiliving.co.uk
Coastal Stripe linen bedding from Secret
Linen Store, shown in Pebble Grey, starts at
� for a pillow case. A double duvet cover
costs �. secretlinenstore.com
Small is beautiful: the Morten range, by John
Jenkins for Heal?s, is made from whitewashed
American oak. Extending dining table, �9,
bench, �9, and shelving, �9. heals.com
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 29
You won?t regret splashing out on a
woven wool and linen blanket by Eleanor
Pritchard. Charlock throw, 160cm x
200cm. �5; eleanorpritchard.com
Designer lighting from BHS. Right to left,
Vivian Copper Drop Cap, �; Cosima
White Marble Drop Cap, �; Vivian Brass
Drop Cap, �; Razzo Terrazzo Drop Cap
pendant, �. bhs.com
Sainsbury?s Helsinki collection includes
inexpensive mugs (�25), roasting tins
(�) and the Pezzetti Italexpress coffee
maker (�). sainsburys.com
Grey isn?t over yet. This glamorous Stellar side table, from Atkin and Thyme, has a grey marble top on a
black iron frame. �9; atkinandthyme.co.uk
Baskets are unsung heroes of the home:
countless uses, invaluable when you
move. These slate-grey felt ones come as
a set of three. �; nordichouse.co.uk
A full-length mirror
is a non-negotiable
element of any
household
inventory. The
Stenford is a
contemporary
cheval mirror
(H160cm) in a
black metal frame.
�5; maisons
dumonde.com
Good bedding is a worthwhile luxury. Try Piglet?s
?white basic bundle? in pure linen, pictured (�5 for
a double), or M&S?s white-washed cotton set (�).
pigletinbed.com; marksandspencer.com
Nadia is a handwoven wicker bed frame designed
by Matt Long for Habitat. It?s made with rattan from
Vietnam, steam-bent by skilled craftsmen.
�5; habitat.co.uk
PRCHTG.NL
Kilims are the ideal buy for the nomadic
homeowner ? just roll up and go. Tangier
rug from Myakka, 120cm x 180cm.
�5; myakka.co.uk
Kiwi green and grey reversible merino
lambswool throw from the British
Blanket Company, 145cm x 200cm.
�; thebritishblanketcompany.com
H&M has throws from
�, in soft cotton
blends and acrylic.
Right, from top:
herringbone blanket
in dusty pink, �;
rust and pink
jacquard-weave
blankets, �;
light beige jacquard
pattern blanket, �;
dark khaki green
jacquard weave,
�; soft blanket
in grey, �.
hm.com
An entry-level design icon, the Anglepoise Original 1227 Mini Table Lamp is now available in Dusty Pink.
�; anglepoise.com
Rattan makes lightweight and portable
furniture. Rockett St George has several
options, including this lounge chair.
�0; rockettstgeorge.co.uk
30 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
A POTTED
GUIDE TO...
POST-SNOW RECOVERY
The wretched weather may
have moved on (for most), but
it will have left some damage
in your garden. A plant?s cells
will expand and rupture in
freezing temperatures, killing
it or causing dieback. Some
plants, though, have cells that
contain solutes to stop the
water within them from
freezing. Other adaptations
IN THE GARDEN
THIS WEEK
l The recent snows reminded
us how difficult it is to predict
the weather. Spring has
returned in most parts of the
UK, but if your mind boggles
at working out when the last
frost might be, so you don?t
sow too early or too late, go to
gardenfocused.co.uk. You can
enter the area where you live
(it doesn?t cover the whole
country yet) and it will produce
a date for you, along with
advice on what to do when.
include a special type of
antifreeze in the cell walls,
so your worst fears may be
unfounded.
The real problems are likely
to have been caused by the
weight of the snow on top of
your plants, snapping their
stems. The first and most
important rule is patience:
hasty chopping can cause
more harm than good, putting
extra stress on the plant.
Leave shrubs well alone
until you can distinguish
properly between dieback
and actual death, and you
see new growth coming ? at
which point prune tentatively
and judiciously.
If part of a perennial has
had it, you may be able to lift
and divide, discarding any
dead bits. Some succulents
may have shown their
displeasure by turning brown
and mushy. Sadly, this pretty
much signals curtains, but your
sempervivums should be fine,
so perfectly adapted are they to
extremes of heat and cold.
Laetitia Maklouf
l My autumn-sown sweet peas
were damaged by the snow.
I?ve managed to save some by
pinching them back, but I?ll
be sowing more and they
should catch up pretty
quickly. If your seedlings have
survived, they can be put in a
container, or in the ground,
and tied gently to some sort of
tepee or climbing frame.
Take care to keep root
disturbance to a minimum
and be vigilant for slugs and
snails. If the sweet peas have
fallen over and grown
?elbows?, you can nip them
back a bit if there are good
shoots below. Things should
right themselves once the
plant has a place to climb.
l Say hello to the mower
again. Don?t cut too low on
this first foray ? just the tips.
l Get your rubber gloves
on and scoop out any leaf or
other debris that has got into
your pond. At the same time,
remove any algae that has
started forming on the surface.
Contain your excitement ? and greenery ?
with Laetitia Maklouf?s pick of the planters
P
ots were my
gateway into
gardening and hold
a special place in
my heart. To avoid
overkill, go easy on containers
smaller than 18in wide. Apart
from looking bitty, having
masses of small pots means
masses of watering and
weeding: time you could spend
sunbathing.
Keep to one or two
materials to avoid a cluttered
look. Bear in mind that
terracotta is porous and dries
out much faster than other
materials, so you might want
to use a plastic pot within. For
indoors, it?s a shame to have
things too matchy-matchy;
different cachepots look more
comfortable together. Pots
can be also a lovely way to
add hue and pattern to a
minimalist scheme.
DECORATIVE
CUTTINGS
Home Gardening
TOP
OF THE
POTS
Fancy that: these
decorative urns
and planters will
liven up any
space. From left:
Flared bell urn.
�3; sweetpea
andwillow.com
Cast stone classic
French urn.
�9; haddon
stone.com
Fretwork planter
on stand, in iron
with a gold finish.
�8;
audenza.com
Left, pineapple
planters, from �
for an H18cm pot;
right, Sussex urn,
�4. Both are
made from
lightweight
fibreglass.
capital-garden.
com
cuttings@sunday-times.co.uk
WE DIG
Whoops. Forgotten Mother?s
Day? (It?s today, by the way.)
Fork out for H Walter Lack?s
sumptuous Redout� The Book
of Flowers and you should be
able to salvage things. It brings
together engravings from
three volumes published by
Pierre-Joseph Redout�, the
18th-century botanical
illustrator who enjoyed the
patronage of Parisian high
society and the Empress
Jos閜hine herself. His fame
has never really gone away.
As well as being works of
art in themselves, from the
days before photography, the
detailed engravings record
what plants were available in
the botanical gardens and
glasshouses of Paris in the late
18th and early 19th century.
�; Taschen
Above, a frost-proof Swag
and Acanthus terracotta pot.
�9; whichfordpottery.com
CONTEMPORARY
Think out of the, er,
pot when showing
off specimens
Top right, wire stand
and plant pot.
�0; black-bydesign.co.uk
Right, use this
Industrial gold and
black side table
as a plant stand.
�;
thefarthing.
co.uk
Strong, simple
shapes in tactile
materials for
minimalist style
Above, set of two
tapered cement
plant pots.
�; idyllhome.
co.uk
Left, self-watering
Cubico cachepot
in Scarlet Red.
�; wayfair.co.uk
INDOOR
MINIMAL
METALLIC
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 31
Tired of terracotta?
It?s time for a fresh
approach
Show your metal with pots in shiny steel,
trad zinc, hammered copper ? or go faux
Above, Hoop
pendant lamp
planter.
�5; outthere
interiors.com
Right, Pimlico
Square geometric
planter.
�; artisanti.com
Above, Malmesbury planter in galvanised steel.
�; gardentrading.co.uk
Right, from top:
RHS faux lead
cube.
�; wyevale
gardencentres.
co.uk
Hammered
copper plant pot.
From �
(H14cm);
audenza.com
Large rustic Vence
ribbed planter in
zinc-plated steel.
�; thefarthing.
co.uk
Set of three
Chedworth zinc
planters.
�;
audenza.com
Left, Soren small
coral planter.
�;
urbanoutfitters.
com
Traditional Taras terracotta pot, made in Crete.
From �5 (H70cm); potsandpithoi.com
Above, black and white Dakara seagrass basket,
used as a cachepot. �; ohwhatsthis.com
Above, pale grey
painted pot.
�.50;
conranshop.co.uk
Above left,
Cilinidro Alto
terracotta pot.
�5; italian
terrace.co.uk
Left, Fresco cube
planter box.
�; wayfair.co.uk
Above, Bathford rectangular fibre-clay planter.
�; gardentrading.co.uk
Above, glazed
indigo pot.
�;
anthropologie.com
Left, Dot Dash canvas
storage pots in Teal.
From � (H18cm);
bohemiadesign.
co.uk
Below, stripe
indigo hanging
basket.
�;
ohwhatsthis.com
Above left,
Beatrice cutout
hanging planter.
�; urban
outfitters.com
Left, grey teardrop
plant pots.
From �(H14.5cm);
tch.net
Below, doll?s head
gold plant pot.
�;
audenza.com
New Homes
Italy
VILLA營N燯MBRIA
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Villa燾omprises爋f�eparate燼partments爀ach爓ith
independent爀ntrance.
Easily燼ccessible爁rom燽oth燫ome燼nd燩erugia.
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Book your advertisement now at:
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Where next?
Discover Britain?s best places to live in our
exclusive 48-page magazine. Out March 18.
34 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
The fashion model on his DIY
skills, his rescue dog, Dora,
and where he keeps his undies
GREG WILLIAMS; DAVID GANDY; ALEXANDRE ROTENBERG/ALAMY
TIME AND
SPACE
DAVID
GANDY
Gandy has developed
a love for Greece
AWAY FROM
IT ALL
I
Gandy?s dressing
room includes a
watch drawer
He owns a 1965
Porsche 356
TIMES +
One lucky subscriber
will win a luxury
break for two in a
Royal Suite at the
newly renovated
Grosvenor House. To
enter visit
mytimesplus.co.uk
inherited my passion for building
and design from my father, who
extended our home in Essex when
I was a kid. We pretty much lived
on a building site, and I loved
hanging out with the builders ? and
learnt the importance of cleaning your
neighbours? driveways and windows so
you don?t annoy them.
So, when it came to renovating my own
Fulham townhouse, I wasn?t daunted. I
knew exactly what I wanted ? it only took
eight months ? and I am now definitely
ready to take on a big country-house
restoration, maybe West Sussex or
Wiltshire. I?ve certainly got the stuff for
it, from Victorian clocks to antique French
bistro tables and vintage lights. My motto
is, when you find something you love,
day you?ll have the right
buy it ? one d
space for it.
Talk
us through the
T
London project
The house was a shell when
T
I bought it four years ago.
With
W my amazing builder,
Richard
Sadler, we took out
R
every floo
floor, dug out a basement, filled
in
i the
h side
id return, created four main
bedrooms, then worked on designing
authentic period interiors ? today, it is a
mix of Georgian and Victorian styles. We
put in cast-iron radiators, parquet flooring
and impressive-looking wall panelling
(actually just dado rail), and there are
fireplaces in every room. Tom Howley
designed the kitchen for me, and it?s really
the centrepiece of the house, painted in
Farrow & Ball Elephant?s Breath.
Sounds like a masculine space...
It?s really not. I hate bright overhead
lighting, so there are lots of lamps to keep
things soft. And my girlfriend [Stephanie
cupboards and a dressing area built for
her in what I call the ?four-poster
bedroom?. I own three classic cars, which
have turned out to be good investments,
but it?s obviously an expensive hobby,
so I positively encourage my girlfriend to
buy shoes. My own dressing room is quite
a small space, with an old travel chest that
my carpenter cleverly incorporated into
the scheme. I also have a watch drawer, as
I have quite a few timepieces.
So where do you keep your cars?
I have a restored 1960 Mercedes 190SL
that I keep in storage, and I am having a
1965 Porsche 356 renovated at the
moment. I have also just signed off on a
1954 Jaguar XK120, which should be ready
to race next year. As I can?t keep them in
Fulham, I am always dreaming of that
perfect five-car garage ? which is where
the country house will come in.
I own three classic cars,
which have turned out
to be good investments ?
but it?s an expensive
hobby, so I encourage my
girlfriend to buy shoes
Mendoros, a barrister] decided the dark
Harris tweed on the furniture was a bit
much, so we replaced it with pale sofas ?
which our rescue dog, Dora, loves
jumping on. Let?s just say we are on
first-name terms with our local sofa
cleaner. We do try to have rules for Dora.
She is not allowed to come into our
bedroom before 7am. She is definitely
the star of the show, though ? she gets far
more fan mail than me.
Do you have more wardrobe space
than your girlfriend?
I collect Savile Row suits and want to
support the young guys in London who
do such incredible tailoring. When my
girlfriend moved in, we had a row of
The kitchen is the
centrepiece of
Gandy?s London
home. His rescue
dog, Dora, loves
jumping on the
pale sofas
SMART
CASUAL
Are you handy around the house?
I do quite a bit of DIY, and I have been
known to fix a boiler or washing machine.
I have bought a lot of vintage and antique
pieces that I work on myself, too, to bring
them back to life.
Do you follow a strict diet and exercise
routine to keep in shape?
I am known as ?three meals a day Dave? ?
I am a 90kg guy, and absolutely love my
food. I love to cook and do a lot of Asian
dishes. I?m told I do a great cod teriyaki
and miso salmon, though my roast
potatoes go down well, too. We don?t eat
much red meat, or anything processed
or from a packet. I don?t have a home
gym ? I belong to a David Lloyd one down
the road, where I usually go late at night
and do a lot of free weights.
You have said you belong to England.
Would you live anywhere else?
My girlfriend is half Greek, and her
father has a house in Greece, so I am
getting to know the country quite well.
I absolutely love everything about it ? the
people, the food. I know this is terribly
Fulham, but we had Dora DNA tested
when we got her, as she is such a mix.
She turned out to be part Yorkshire
terrier, part collie and part shih tzu, with
some working dog, so a real mongrel.
At the same time, my girlfriend insisted
on getting me DNA tested, as she said I
couldn?t be 100% English with my
colouring. Turns out I am 1% Greek.
Which made her father happy.
Interview by Emma Wells
David Gandy is an ambassador for
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home;
battersea.org.uk
like
bad boyfriends. They start off
promising the earth, but once
you?ve given them your heart,
they go off you. Simon, Ruta
and I had a jolly meeting with
our chosen builder. He was
upbeat. Then silence. I finally
managed to reach him and
tried to negotiate a 10%
discount. A couple of weeks
later, he withdrew his bid.
Back to square one.
Early in the new year, Simon
drew up a second shortlist of
builders to begin the process
of site visits and quotes again.
Let this be a cautionary
tale to the increasing number
of people who dream of
self-building or extending
without fully understanding
how many hoops they may
need to jump through just to
get started. Since April 1, 2016,
more than 33,000 people have
signed up to the government?s
?right to build? register, the
National Custom & Self Build
Association reports.
On the upside, there is a
chink of light. At the time of
writing, I am hours away from
meeting a new builder. By this
time next year, I should be
enjoying my new home. But I
wouldn?t put any money on it.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 15
T
he loo, you say?
Yes, of course.
Down the
corridor, turn
right. You can?t
miss it ? it?s just opposite the
climbing wall.
Not been to a dinner party
like this yet? Me neither. But
it?s a safe bet they?re going on.
Because in-house (and indeed
in-garage, in-barn and
in-garden) climbing walls are
very much in vogue. Some
are �0 DIY jobs with a few
handholds; others sprawling,
faux-rock-face fibreglass affairs
that consume outbuildings
and cost �000.
Forget that broken exercise
bike, hefty treadmill or dusty
set of weights in the corner ?
home exercise has gone
upwardly mobile. Pro climbers
looking to hone technique
round the clock are playing
their part, but just as many
seem to be being installed by
recreational climbers, or even
beginners, drawn to the
novelty, the all-weather fitness
benefits and, particularly, the
modest space requirements.
It?s an athletically aspirational
look, too.
They?re great for kids
(climbing the walls takes on
a whole new meaning), but
equally easy to customise with
more difficult routes for Mum
and Dad. Even the all-action
Brexit secretary, David Davis,
has one in the barn of his
constituency home in
Yorkshire ? so, like his boss,
he?s no stranger to clinging
on by his fingertips.
We?re not talking 200ft
replicas of El Capitan here.
Most in-home walls are for
bouldering, a stripped-down
version of the sport in which
colour-coded holds are
arranged to form routes, or
?problems? that climbers must
solve. These holds can be
unscrewed and shifted to
different pre-drilled holes to
increase difficulty, meaning
the problems get more and
more intractable. (We?re back
to Brexit.) The only kit you
need is climbing shoes and
perhaps a chalk bag.
The trend reflects the
explosion in popularity of
indoor climbing. Nearly 1m
people gave it a go in 2017,
according to the Association
of British Climbing Walls, with
100,000 doing so regularly.
Further impetus has come
from climbing?s admission
into the 2020 Olympics in
Tokyo. And before you get
sniffy about it, bouldering as
a spectator sport is nothing
short of compelling viewing ?
YouTube it if you don?t believe
me. Athletic and cerebral, it?s
like high-energy vertical
sudoku. With Lycra.
Andy and Kitt Ratford put
the finishing touches to the
climbing wall on the landing
of their house in Newcastle
last month. About 10ft high,
with two panels that meet in
a corner and support 50
holds, it?s for their two girls,
Finn, 6, and Ada, 3. ?Our
house is a Victorian terrace
with high ceilings, so there
UPWARDLY
MOBILE
Kids driving you
up the wall?
Embrace it, with
the growing
trend for home
climbing rooms.
By Duncan Craig
KATIE LEE
Home Improve
Once the kids are in
bed, they retreat to
the climbing room ?
with a baby monitor
? and can boulder
away to their
hearts? content
is plenty of what you might
call dead space ? or rather,
useful space,? says Andy, 45,
a project manager at an
engineering firm. ?Most
people are puzzled by what
we?re doing, but the girls
love it.?
The couple did some
research on climbing forums
before assembling it, getting
the wood from a local timber
yard and the screws, holds
and safety mats off the
internet. ?It wasn?t difficult,
and it?s great value ? probably
�0 all in. Hopefully we?ll
get a lot of use out of it.?
Alicia and Chris Reid?s
version, at their barn
conversion near Barnard
Castle, Co Durham, is the next
level up. Set in a narrow room
in an outbuilding, it has an
impressive finish, with twin
skylights throwing light onto
whitewashed walls studded
with brightly coloured holds.
It took a joiner a week and
cost them about �500.
Their children, Fenn, 2, and
three-month-old Tiff, were
also the catalyst for this ? but
for different reasons.
?We used to go climbing a
lot and now we can?t, because,
as parents, we have no time
or life!? says Alicia, who is
managing director of their
family electrical business. So
now, once the kids are in bed,
she and Chris retreat to their
climbing room ? often with a
baby monitor ? and boulder
away to their hearts? content.
Or at least until their arms give
way. (The muscle loading of
climbing means sessions are
traditionally quite short.)
Three-year-old Daisy
Thomson?s mountain-biking
and film-making father, Stu,
converted the upstairs floor
of the slate-roofed garage at
the family home in Aberfoyle,
Perthshire, into a climbing
area for all the family. He did
it himself and it cost ?about
�0?. Daisy plies the easier
routes among the monkey
and tree stickers at one end,
while Stu and his wife, Amber,
attack the harder holds on
the 45-degree pitched roofs
either side. ?We?re not huge
climbers,? Stu admits, ?but
we are an active family. I had
the space, so why not??
If you?d rather have a
professional construct your
vertical play park, there are
a number of companies
?
Living the high life
Alicia and Chris Reid
in their climbing
room, with their son,
Fenn, and baby Tiff
16 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Fenn Reid learning to
climb at the age of two
? taking advantage of the
boom. ClimbAwall, an offshoot
of a family-run carpentry
and joinery company based
in Barnstaple, Devon, sells
everything from single panels
with holds (�) to 11-panel
kits, complete with overhang,
for �9. Lori Watts, a director
at the firm, says business is up
100% year on year, with most
of the demand coming from
recreational climbers.
Ben Hunter, founder of the
Derbyshire-based Mock Rock
? one of the few companies
that attaches holds direct to
masonry ? confirms that
inquiries about customised
home walls are on the rise.
And Scott Muir, who runs one
of Scotland?s top suppliers,
Dream Climbing Walls, is
doing a roaring trade. He
reckons the Olympics will have
a ?massive knock-on effect?.
Christopher Bird, 39, sees
his climbing ?cave? ? a
shed-like structure in his
garden in Milton Keynes ? as
a resale asset. Strip the holds
away and it?s a summerhouse,
he says. Christopher, a chief
technical officer for a bank,
invested nearly �000 getting
the structure built after
moving from London, as he
got fed up with the 40-minute
round trip to his nearest
commercial wall.
Everyone who
comes round wants
to have a go. Kids
absolutely love it,
probably because
it?s so colourful
The structure (built by Mock
Rock) has six colour-coded
routes, some of which extend
across the ceiling, with an
additional one set up for
Christopher?s five-year-old
daughter, Emma. The longest
climb he?s done is a lateral
70 metres ?before my arms
gave way?. Welcome to the
(summer)house of pain.
Editor-in-chief of
UKClimbing.com, and a
sponsored climber herself,
Natalie Berry, 26, is delighted
that the home-wall market is
booming. As a 10-year-old
inseparable from her chalk
bag, she ?pestered and
pestered? her father to build
a wall in their Glasgow home.
And, as is the way with
doting dads, he duly obliged.
It?s still there.
?We had a big garage that
the car never really went in,
so eventually he gave in,? she
recalls. ?I?d go home after
school, do my homework,
then go straight in.?
It?s tempting to see Natalie?s
father as a pioneer, but this is
actually a case of a movement
that?s gone full circle. The
first indoor walls, created in
the 1980s, were replicas of
routes serious sport climbers
wanted to practise. They
were often built in their
cellars, particularly in popular
climbing areas such as
Sheffield, and were decidedly
unglamorous.
?Some of the walls we?re
seeing today look like they?re
driven more by architects
than climbers,? says Alex
Messenger, head of marketing
at the British Mountaineering
Council. ?Great fun, but a
little too... clean.?
Possibly the best in-home
wall in the UK belongs to
probably the best climber in
the country. (Neither
statement is his ? he?s way
too modest). Dave MacLeod,
39, bought his house in
Roybridge, near Fort William,
three years ago partly off the
back of the potential he saw
in the pitched-roofed double
garage ? and parking his car
was the last thing on his mind.
About �000 later, he had
a professionally built and
ratified facility that would be
the envy of any commercial
climbing centre ? and from
which he runs training
courses. It has hundreds
of holds and, even to a
non-climber, exerts a strong
pull. ?Everyone who comes
round wants to have a go,?
Dave says, shortly after
finishing up a coaching
session. ?Kids, particularly,
absolutely love it. Probably
because it?s so colourful.?
He loves the convenience.
?Having your own wall fits
into your lifestyle so much
better. The funny thing is, you
don?t actually need a lot of
space. The bigger it is, the
more fun you can have, but
even if it?s just a small wall
and a few grips, you can be
doing the basics.?
And it means he gets to
hang out, quite literally, with
his seven-year-old daughter,
Freida. ?We spend a huge
amount of time in there,? he
says. ?We swing about, chase
each other, have fun. It?s like
a big games room for her.?
Sounds like Freida would
be a good outside bet for
climbing honours in the 2032
Olympics. Wherever it?s held,
she?ll be able to draw on
plenty of home advantage.
CHRIS PRESCOTT/DARK SKY MEDIA; KATIE LEE
Home
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 17
As a child, Natalie
Berry pestered
her father to turn
the garage at
their family home
into a climbing
room
BIGGER,
BRIGHTER,
BOULDER: HOW
TO BUILD YOUR
OWN WALL
repeatedly landing on them.
So be careful.?
Location, location, location
Somewhere with a bit of
height is obviously
preferable. Outbuildings,
lofts, garages and basements
all work well. If it?s in the
main house ? a spare room
or landing, perhaps ? factor
in the chalk dust.
Board rigid Most home
walls are made from 18mm
plywood, drilled with regular
holes into which M10 T-nuts
are placed for the bigger
holds. This needs to be set
away from the wall to allow
for bolt clearance, and
needs to be reinforced from
behind. (Timber beams are
a good idea.) If the wall is
in a visible spot, you may
wish to paint it before
attaching the T-nuts.
Take the strain You need to
be sure that your chosen
spot can take the weight of
people hanging off it. ?The
biggest risk of a home wall is
the DIY associated with it,?
says Alex Messenger, of the
British Mountaineering
Council. ?Your attic may
seem like a logical place to
bolt a climbing wall, as it?s
got the right angle, but the
roof is not made to take that
load ? and the ceilings
below definitely aren?t made
to take the weight of you
Map it out Have a broad
idea of the sort of climbing
you want to do. A simple
vertical wall is great for kids,
but if you want to stretch
yourself, you should aim
for an overhang or even a
ceiling section.
Holds on tight Bags of
assorted climbing holds can
be bought through suppliers
such as www.holdz.co.uk;
or search online for
second-hand ones. Resist
the urge to make your own
wooden holds, as they will
be harder on the fingers and
more prone to come away
from the wall.
Mat finish It?s essential that
you have something to break
your fall. Gym-style training
mats offer some protection,
as do mattresses, but the
best option would be fitted
mats. Be aware that the
latter can end up costing as
much as all the other
elements combined.
Policy wonk Notify your
home insurance company
in advance, and bear in
mind that some may increase
your premium or even
refuse cover. If that?s the
case, you?ll need to take out
a tailor-made policy.
More information Visit
ukclimbing.com or
thebmc.co.uk, both of which
have articles on building
climbing walls. If you?re
renting and unable to make
adjustments to your
property, consider a
freestanding training wall
such as a Power Station;
powerstationtraining.com.
Suppliers Climbawall.co.uk;
drclimbingwalls.com;
dreamclimbingwalls.com;
indoor-rock.co.uk;
mockrock.co.uk;
playcrete.com.
18 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Market
�5,000
LAND TAX O
T
GWYNEDD
Aberdovey is a Victorian
seaside resort in Snowdonia
National Park. Gwel Afon, a
five-bedroom former
fisherman?s cottage, has steps
down to the beach. Four of
the bedrooms have french
windows with juliet balconies;
the sitting room, kitchen
and breakfast room have
similarly invigorating views.
The town is about an hour
from Aberystwyth by car.
01743 284200,
struttandparker.com
�0,000
PEMBROKESHIRE
It may be called Tides Reach,
but this country pile is a
little way inland, near the
village of Cosheston, two
miles from Pembroke Dock.
The five-bedroom pile would
appeal to horsey types:
its 2.2 acres contain several
stables and two fenced
paddocks. There?s also a
four-bedroom attached
annexe, ideal for lettings. It?s
for sale by public auction in
Cardiff on March 27.
029 2036 8930, savills.co.uk
�9,995
BRIDGEND
Ogmore Vale, a former mining
village, may not seem like
an obvious place to buy
property ? but it?s a hotspot
for commuters from Cardiff
and Swansea looking for
more house for their money
(it?s about 45 minutes? drive to
both) and investors chasing
yields of 10%-15%. This house
has five bedrooms, pretty
floors (mosaic tiles, parquet)
and a cast-iron hearth.
0800 008 6906,
hunters.com
here?s a quiet revolution
brewing on the remote hilltops
and rugged coastlines of Wales,
where some of Britain?s
favourite second-home
locations are set to be shaken by a new
property purchase tax that could add tens
or even hundreds of thousands of pounds
to the cost of buying a high-value home.
From next month, stamp duty in Wales
is being replaced with a land transaction
tax (LTT). According to the devolved
Welsh government, it should leave 95%
of purchasers paying the same amount
or less tax than before. The remaining
buyers, however, are set to be stung hard.
The Welsh housing market, rarely
discussed outside the country itself,
already differs sharply from England?s.
The Office for National Statistics says the
average home in Wales costs �4,000 ?
a full �,000 less than the figure for
England. If you rent in Wales, you have
greater protection than you do across
the Severn Bridge: the Rent Smart Wales
system has licensed 177,000 properties,
87,000 landlords and 3,000 letting agents,
and has issued 185 fixed-penalty notices to
rogue operators. England is still awaiting
the rollout of a rogue landlords? database.
The scrapping of stamp duty, however,
marks the biggest divergence yet. LTT will
generally be lower for buyers of homes
below �0,000, but much higher for
those purchasing properties above that
threshold. Like its English counterpart,
LTT will impose a 3% surcharge on holiday
cottages and buy-to-let investment
properties; however, the exemption from
stamp duty for many first-time buyers in
England will not be replicated in Wales.
Johnny Morris, head of research at
Britain?s largest estate agency,
Countrywide, says the biggest
losers from the new LTT are
set to be second-home
buyers, increasing numbers
of whom ? local rugby
fans may be delighted to
hear ? are English.
Will your neighbourhood
Morris has prepared
make the cut?
data for The Sunday Times
Find out next Sunday
showing that, last year,
#STbestplaces
about 4,150 house sales in
Wales (9% of the total) were
second homes ? two-thirds were
bought by Welsh residents and one
third by English. Back in 2007, 15% of
sales in Wales were second homes, but
only a fifth were to English buyers.
Tough break? Popular holiday-home
The west coast has the biggest
locations such as Whitesands Bay,
concentration of second homes, and in
above, in Pembrokeshire, and
seven of Wales?s 22 local authorities, at
Abersoch, right, in Gwynedd, are
least 2% of the housing stock is holiday
likely to be affected by the new tax
cottages or investment flats. In Gwynedd,
home to popular locations such as
Abersoch, the proportion is almost 10%,
While many locals will have little
while it is 5.3% in Ceredigion and 4.7%
sympathy for anyone able to afford a
in Pembrokeshire spots such as St Davids
� property ? and a second home at
and Tenby.
that ? agents have reported a rush to
?Second homes constituted 9% of all
beat the deadline. ?In the past month,
house purchases in Wales in 2017, but
we?ve agreed half a dozen deals, ranging
contributed 30% of the stamp duty,?
from �0,000 to �5m, where the
Morris says. ?That?s because they were
buyers have indicated that they want
typically well above average price.? He
to get the sale over the line before the
adds that LTT ? which is set to be higher
end of March,? says Nick Withinshaw,
than stamp duty on big-ticket homes ?
a director at Jackson-Stops?s Chester
will hit the same sector even more.
office, which also covers north Wales.
Buyers of a Welsh second home at,
He predicts that sellers will have to take
say, � now pay �,750 stamp duty,
the extra tax into account when setting
but will be clobbered with an LTT levy
asking prices.
of �,250; if the sale price is �,
If the experience of Scotland is
today?s stamp duty of �3,750 will rise
repeated ? where a land and buildings
to �8,350 from April 1.
transaction tax (LBTT) replaced stamp
New stamp-duty rules in Wales will
hit high-value properties, but the
worst affected will be second-home
buyers. By Graham Norwood
BEST
PLACES TO
LIVE 2018
SECOND HOMES
LEAGUE TABLE
Local
authority
Second
homes
Gwynedd
5,626
9.7%
Ceredigion
1,766
5.3%
Pembrokeshire
2,801
4.7%
Isle of Anglesey
1,471
4.3%
Conwy
1,473
2.7%
Powys
1,261
2.0%
Swansea
2,064
2.0%
Cardiff
2,716
1.9%
Carmarthenshire
1,182
1.4%
Vale of Glamorgan
647
1.2%
Source: Countrywide
% of all
homes
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 19
KEITH MORRIS/GETTY IMAGES; PAUL WESTON/ALAMY
OF
O MY FATHERS
LAND TRANSACTION
TAX: HOW IT WORKS
From April 1, when you buy a home
in Wales, the following LTT rates will
apply instead of stamp duty
NO
3.5%
5%
7.5%
10%
12%
LTT
up to and
including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�0,000
LTT
portion over
�0,000
up to and including
�5m
portion over
�5m
LTT
The biggest
losers could
be ? local
rugby fans
may be
delighted
to hear ?
the English
duty back in April 2015 ? the Welsh
high-end market may have a rough ride.
The Perthshire estate agency Bell Ingram
recently sold a �15m property that would
have attracted a levy of �,750 under
stamp duty. Under LBTT, the fee was
�,350, and with the 3% second-home
surcharge, the total purchase tax came
to a startling �0,850.
?This is making people do one of two
things ? not move at all, or negotiate hard
on the price, based the vendor on reducing
it by the level of tax due,? says Carl
Warden, the agency?s senior associate.
In Wales, there are now council-tax
surcharges on second homes, too ?
some already introduced, others on their
way ? under new powers given to local
authorities. Denbighshire, Wrexham,
Powys and Flintshire councils are setting
50% rates; Ceredigion and Anglesey have
gone for 25%.
Yet while the jury is out on how much
the Welsh high-end housing sector will
suffer under the weight of new taxes,
the rest of the market is booming. Most
of Wales saw price rises in 2017, the
Principality Building Society reports,
with Pembrokeshire increasing the most
at 8.1%. And 4,800 first-time-buyer
mortgages were completed in Wales
during the final quarter of last year,
14.3% up on the same period of 2016,
according to UK Finance.
In the south, the employment centres
of Swansea and Cardiff are performing
well and, with tolls to be scrapped on the
Severn Bridge from late 2018, some young
professionals working near the border are
opting to buy or rent on the Welsh side.
?We?re seeing investors flock from
London and Bristol,? says Luke Jones,
director of Hunters estate agency in
Ogmore Vale and Bridgend. ?In the
valleys, a two- or three-bedroom terraced
house costs �,000 to �,000 and
secures rental yields of 8% to 15%, due
to the proximity to the cities.?
Shadi Fatemi, 26, and her cousin
Shahin Khosravi, 28, from London, are
new buy-to-let investors in Wales,
having purchased six terraced houses
in the valleys, priced between �,000
and �,000. Even after spending tens
of thousands renovating those in the
worst condition, the pair expect 10%
annual returns. ?We chose south Wales
because of the exceptionally low prices
and because we?re likely to get a mix of
tenants ? families and commuters to
Cardiff,? says Fatemi, an office
administrator.
Yet while the mainstream market looks
likely to have a strong year, with healthy
demand from owner-occupiers and
investors alike, questions remain about
the impact on more expensive properties
and second homes. Time will tell whether
the English beat a hasty retreat.
20 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL DRIVER
Home Experts
rts
THE BEST
SMART HEATING SYSTEMS
Nest Learning Thermostat
3rd Generation; �9;
nest.com/uk; 82/100
l Stylish, easy to use
l Tells you how long it will
take to reach your desired
temperature
l Activity sensor
automatically turns the
heating down if it detects
that nobody?s home
l Self-learning function
predicts your patterns
goodhousekeeping.co.uk
/institute
READERS?
CLINIC
Tip of the week
Re Scott Rodgers?s rising
damp (Home, February 25).
If rising damp is causing
plaster to lift or bubble
near the base of a wall, a
simple cure is to remove a
bit. Using an electric drill
with a sanding plate
attached, use the edge of
the sanding disc to cut
through the plaster just
above the skirting board, to
the wall behind. The tiny slit
will be almost invisible but
it breaks the continuity
between skirt and wall, the
join of which is often
sealed with gloss paint.
Doing this creates an air
gap, so moisture in the wall
can evaporate.
Andrew Bamji, Rye
Future questions
l Should I get a ducted
extractor fan in the kitchen,
or a recirculation hood?
l How do I get a new
Chubb key to work
smoothly?
l How do I remove a
lipstick stain from a dress?
l Do electric radiators
work out cheaper than gas?
Send tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk
OUR NEIGHBOUR?S
GARDEN WALL IS
CRUMBLING ?
AND TAKING OURS
DOWN, TOO
Q
Our house
is one of a
number
of terraced
Georgian houses.
At the rear we all
have a connected wall at
the end of our gardens.
Unfortunately, our
neighbour?s part of the wall
collapsed, taking down our
part to one side, and
another neighbour?s part on
the other side. This also
caused the gardens to
collapse onto the street.
As they are interconnected,
the walls will all need to be
rebuilt at the same time.
However, the neighbour
has stopped responding
to emails and calls and
seems to have ?gone to
ground? over the issue.
Can we legally force them
to rebuild their part of the
wall, so as to allow us to
rebuild our part of the wall?
Stephen Simson, Bath
Drayton Wiser Multi-zone
Kit 1; �0;
amazon.co.uk; 77/100
l Great value
l Lets you control the
temperature in different
rooms separately
l Lacks bells and whistles,
but simple to use
Honeywell Lyric T6R,
�9; plumbnation.co.uk;
73/100
l Switches heat off when
last person leaves house
l Apple users can control
heating by talking to Siri
l Simple to use
l Unable to detect if
there?s activity in the house
or if a window is open
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
HOME
HELP
A
Want to deter cats or give bathroom tiles a
clean new look? Our advisers are on hand
Q
I?d like to update the
tiles in my bathroom
but can?t afford to rip
them all out and start
again. Is there a good,
hardwearing tile paint?
CD, London
A
Before you paint tiles,
always use a good primer;
for floors, Zinsser Bulls Eye
1-2-3 is ideal (� for 1 litre).
After application, wait an
hour, then paint with a
heavy-duty floor or tile paint.
Leyland Trade is sold in DIY
stores (� for 5 litres) and its
range of colours is OK, but the
paint gives off strong fumes so
use a mask. For walls, use a
wall tile paint: V33, available
from B&Q (� for 2 litres),
includes the primer, comes
in eight colours and is very
durable.
Alternatively, we have seen
excellent results on both wall
and floor tiles with Fusion
Mineral Paint (� for 500ml);
it also offers the best colour
range. Use a coat of Fusion
Ultra Grip primer first, then
apply the paint with a small
microfibre roller for the best
finish; you may want to use a
brush first to get into the grout
lines so you don?t miss any
bits. Fusion is virtually
odourless: Ultra Grip needs
12 hours to dry before you can
apply the paint, which takes
another 1-2 hours to dry (�
for 500ml).
The firm claims that once
it is fully cured (this is a
hardening process, different
from the drying time), the
paint is unrivalled for
durability. Curing takes
21 days to complete, so treat
surfaces gently until then.
Wayne Perrey and Steph Bron,
founders of thediydoers.com
Q
I?m looking forward to
the summer, when I can
open the windows. I?m
planning to replace my old
timber-framed ones with
PVC double-glazed units,
but I want to keep out flying
insects. I have spent a lot of
time in America, where bug
screens are commonplace:
in New York they have
simple expanding mesh
frames that fit inside the
window frame. You then
lower the sash until it holds
the bug screen captive.
These are cheap, and in
winter you store them away.
What are my options here?
Simon Plant, via email
A
There are many different
ways to keep out the bugs.
There are roll-down fly
screens made from a durable
mesh that you can cut to the
width of your window. They
are simple to put into place,
often made from PVC-coated
fibreglass mesh, and work well
with sash windows. But they
can also work on hinged
windows, if you install them
on the inside, as your windows
will open outwards. You then
pull down the blinds from
inside. PVC roller fly screens
are sold by Avosdim, a
specialist window fitter, in
standard dimensions or made
to measure (from �).
For a quicker and cheaper
solution, there are stick-on fly
screens that adhere to the
inside frames. They are easy to
put up and take off, so you can
remove them in the winter.
Avosdim does self-adhesive
PVC Fly Screen in three sizes
(from �for 1 sq metre).
A cheaper option is the
Rentokil Window Fly Screen
(�20 from Amazon), which
First look at your title
deeds to see if they state
who should repair and
maintain the wall. If there are
express obligations, check
with your solicitor to make
sure that you can enforce
them against your
neighbour. Your fallback is
that your neighbour owes
you a duty not to create a
attaches with tape. It?s light and
portable ? ideal for travelling.
Rod Smith, adviser,
manomano.co.uk
Q
A cat has started doing
its business in an alley
beside my house. We
have tried cleaning it with
bleach but the cat keeps
returning, thinking that it is
its toilet. How can I deter
the cat from coming back?
EC, via email
A
Cats are usually good at
burying their faeces in the
soil, where they get broken
down naturally. But pet cats
can get lazy ? my own
defecates brazenly in the
middle of the lawn.
You are right that they do
revisit familiar, safe places to
squat. The trouble is finding
something to cover the smell
from previous visits: bleach is
designed for smooth sanitary
surfaces, not tarmac or gravel,
so is likely to be ineffective.
Various proprietary cat
peppers and granules are
available; scattering these
across the ground is meant to
repel the animals rather than
nuisance. This means
checking that the wall is safe,
and taking steps to maintain
it. If the wall might collapse,
steps must be taken to
remove or reduce this risk.
Your neighbour?s duty will
be both to you and to the
owner of the road. If you can
show that the condition of
the neighbour?s part
of the wall had
deteriorated so as
to cause your
section to
collapse, the
neighbour is likely
to be liable for the
damage that you
have suffered. This will
especially be the case if you
can show either that the
neighbour knew or ought to
have known of the
deterioration and the risk of
a collapse with damage to
other parts of the wall.
If the neighbour does not
accept liability, you will
require a court order,
known as a mandatory
injunction, to force them to
rebuild their part of the wall,
and failure to comply may
be treated as contempt of
court, which can lead to
prison. Whether a court
would make such an order
in this case will depend on
the expert view of what really
can be done. If the evidence
is that it is possible to rebuild
your part of the wall on its
own, the court is unlikely to
order an injunction against
the neighbour, but will
rather order that the
neighbour should pay for
the cost of rebuilding your
part of the wall.
Andrew Chesser and Henry
Stuart, partners at Withers;
withersworldwide.com
mask latrine smells. Some
people claim chilli powder or
paprika also works. Cats don?t
like loud high-pitched noises,
so electronic ultra-sonic
devices are available and birdfriendly. My father used to
rush into the garden hissing
and howling like a banshee if a
neighbour?s cat ever appeared.
Lying in wait in your alley
might be too labour-intensive,
but if you do, water pistols are
also recommended. If you
have seen the YouTube videos,
in which cats are scared witless
by cucumbers placed behind
them, you might give some
credence to a New Zealand
remedy of leaving short pieces
of green hose around the
garden ? the theory is that the
felines instinctively mistake it
for a snake and hurry off.
Richard Jones, author of
House Guests, House Pests
(Bloomsbury �99);
bugmanjones.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sundaytimes.co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
HOW
TO...
CLEAN WINDOWS
With sunnier, longer days
on the way when the clocks
change later this month, our
less than spotless windows
will come into the spotlight. Is
it really that murky outside, or
are you just looking through
layers of dirt and grease?
Here?s how to make your
windows sparkle.
THE BASICS
It may seem counterintuitive,
but don?t clean a window in
bright sunlight, despite the
fact that it?s easier to see
where the dirt is ? the
warmed glass will dry too
quickly, leaving streaks.
Instead, choose a dry, cloudy
day; or, if it is sunny and
you are itching to get going,
clean windows that are in
the shade.
Give the inside panes and
sills a going-over with a
household dustpan and
brush, or the narrow nozzle
of a vacuum cleaner. That
way, dirt and cobwebs won?t
get mixed into the cleaning
solution later. Make sure
curtains and blinds are out of
the way and clear anything
that?s on the sill ? you want
room to manoeuvre.
If you are cleaning the
outside windows, start with
those upstairs, so any water
run-off doesn?t spoil the work
you have done below. Do as
much of them as you can
safely reach from inside; some
modern double-glazed panes
will rotate to allow this. For the
bits you can?t get to, you can
get brushes and cloths on
poles, but your best bet is to
take a deep breath and climb
that (well fixed) ladder to
attack them close up.
If you have more than a
few windows to do, it is
wisest to hire a professional
(see below). It?s not worth
breaking your neck for the
sake of a few smeary panes.
EQUIPMENT
As to what to use, Andrew
Lee, managing director of
JA Lee Window and General
Cleaning Contractors, based
in Cumbria, and chairman of
the Federation of Window
Cleaners, says all you need is
a wet cloth, a dry cloth and
some soapy water in a bucket:
a weak solution of washingup liquid is ideal. The cloths
should be lint-free, so they
don?t leave fibres behind.
PAUL BRADBURY/GETTY IMAGES
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 21
?Old towelling is perfect ? it
has been washed lots of
times, so has lost its lint, but is
still abrasive,? he says. You
could also put old cotton
T-shirts and napkins to use.
For the ?detailing? ? the
bits by the edges and in the
corner, Lee says window
cleaners often opt for
microfibre cloths or scrim,
a rough fabric made from
flax or cotton that is usually
used for upholstery. You can
find it, and lots of other
window-cleaning products,
at windowcleancentre.co.uk.
If you have large windows
or patio doors, it is less effort
to use a squeegee, keeping
the dry cloth to give
everything a last wipe and
polish. Screwfix.com has
them from � 
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