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The Sunday Times Home — 14 January 2018

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January 14, 2018
DAYDREAM
BELIZER
EXCLUSIVE INSIDE
HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR
SOFIA COPPOLA?S
JUNGLE HIDEAWAY
14
Travel
INSIDE
Get out of town!
Record numbers are leaving the city ? should you join them? 6
2 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
MAKING
MOVES
SURREY
�5M
DORSET
�5,000
Completed in 2000, Bowood
Lodge has the feel of a much
more established country
house, but without the
draughty spots. Set in 2.3
acres in Sandhills, six miles
from Godalming and within
the Surrey Hills Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty,
the Arts and Crafts-inspired
home has a flowing layout
on the ground floor, a
self-contained bedroom
annexe, then four more
bedrooms and two dressing
rooms upstairs. There?s a
Med-worthy outdoor pool
with a pergola, and a palatial
white kitchen.
01483 565171,
knightfrank.co.uk
Village life may have
calmed down a bit since
1853, when the Primitive
Methodist Magazine
described Woodyates, near
Shaftesbury, as rife with
?drunkenness, fighting and
other species of iniquity?.
The former Ebenezer chapel,
built the previous year,
has planning consent for
conversion into a home with
two bedrooms and a spiral
staircase to the first floor.
The agent estimates it would
cost �,000-�0,000 to
carry out the work.
01722 337575,
myddeltonmajor.co.uk
WARWICKSHIRE
�5,000
Once part of a stable block
servicing a grand pile,
this dinky mews house in
Kenilworth?s old town has
two bedrooms, and every
inch of its 643 sq ft has been
expertly overhauled. The
open-plan living space has
engineered wood floors and
a contemporary fireplace,
and the private courtyard
garden serves as an extra
room. The high street is
within a short stroll and
it?s less than a mile to the
station ? set to reopen next
month after 53 years.
0330 111 9766,
mrandmrsclarke.com
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 3
�95M
COVER: GAVIN SMITH; MB BIRDY/MATT GIBSON/GETTY IMAGES. THIS PAGE: PETER WRIGHT; JANE COLLIER
CORNWALL
With terraced gardens
dropping dizzyingly down
to a stretch of private beach
at Plaidy, near East Looe,
Dove Rock is one of the
most spectacular homes on
the south Cornish coast.
Recently renovated, it has
five bedrooms with Villeroy
& Boch ensuite bathrooms,
a bar and games room, a sun
room and a library. There
are great views from the
full-height windows and a
terrace running the length of
the house, and the barbecue
area has an outdoor Sonos
sound system. Plymouth is
a 40-minute drive away.
01392 423111,
knightfrank.co.uk
INSIDE THIS WEEK
Our 14-year
restoration saga
10
How to find your
perfect mattress
13
Bark up the right
trees for winter
17
PLUS Home Front 4
Home Help 12 Overseas 14
Time and Space 18
WE WANT... A RETIREMENT PAD
FROM
�4,950
NORTH YORKSHIRE
About 40 one- and
two-bedroom flats and 16
bungalows are available at
Mickle Hill retirement village,
in Pickering. They have
waist-level electric sockets,
wide doorways and
emergency cords in the
bathrooms. Facilities include
a guest suite for visitors, a
cafe/bistro and a cinema.
01751 245000,
micklehill.co.uk
FROM
�0,000
DORSET
Monterey is a part-buy,
part-rent scheme in the leafy
grounds of Christchurch
hospital, within walking
distance of the town centre.
One-bedroom flats start at
�0,000 for a 50% share;
two-bedders are also on
offer. There?s a GP surgery, a
pharmacy and personalised
pay-as-you-use care.
01202 471461,
platinumskies.co.uk
FROM
�0,000
SURREY
On the edge of Cranleigh,
nine miles from Guildford,
Elmbridge Village has bowls,
table tennis, exercise classes
and allotments to be tended.
Two top-floor properties,
each with two bedrooms
and accessible by lift, are
available within the main
house, Elmbridge Manor,
which has a library and a bar.
01483 676100,
retirementvillages.co.uk
HOME FRONT
Home Opinion
HELEN
DAVIES
@TheSTHome
C
ongratulations to
Dominic Raab. The
MP for Esher and
Walton is now the
fourth housing
minister to be appointed in
three years ? and the 16th
since 1997 ? with a remit to
solve the housing crisis. Yet it
is still not a cabinet post.
Instead, in an effort to show
that the government now
realises property is a political
issue, we have a newly
named Ministry of Housing,
Communities & Local
Government (MHCLG),
overseen by Sajid Javid. Last
week, he also announced a
new housing agency, Homes
England, that will free up land
and encourage medium-sized
developers, one of the key
steps towards delivering the
homes we need.
Even with the new name,
however, I fear the policies,
reports, strategies and
consultations will be the same.
This is the sort of fine mess
recycling is also in, despite
Theresa May?s 25-year
environmental strategy
pledging to bring plastic-free
aisles to supermarkets and
eliminate ?avoidable? plastic
waste such as coffee cups
and drinks bottles. As Simon
Ellin, head of the Recycling
Association, told me a week
??
By taking refuge
at the Ecuadorian
embassy in
Knightsbridge,
Julian Assange has
?saved? at least
�9,000 in rent
ago, there are about 350 ways
councils choose what and how
to recycle. This needs to be
streamlined, otherwise good
intentions will go to waste.
To the many of you who
thanked me for the reassurance
that you can recycle the
screwtop along with your wine
bottle, I have checked on your
behalf, and the plastic caps on
Tetrapak cartons can also go in.
?Wash, squash and put the
caps back on,? Ellin says.
l One person who should be
moved on is Julian Assange.
The WikiLeaks founder has
been holed up at the
Ecuadorian embassy, in
Knightsbridge, since June 2012
to avoid being extradited to
Sweden to face an allegation
of rape (which has since been
dropped). Now even his
generous landlord views his
residence as ?untenable?, and
the South American country
has granted the Australian
citizenship in an effort to break
the deadlock.
Two years ago, it was
reported that policing Assange
had cost UK taxpayers �m.
I asked the analyst LonRes to
calculate how much he has
managed to ?save? in rent
during his time at the embassy.
It turns out to be �9,000 if
he?d paid the going rate for a
one-bedroom flat in SW1X, or
a whopping �1,000 on a
three-bedroom townhouse.
Meanwhile, the number
of mortgage possession
claims and orders made in
county courts is rising again.
According to Sellhousefast.uk,
which analysed data from
the Ministry of Justice, there
were 4,757 claims and 3,376
county court orders in the
quarter to September 2017,
up 6% and 26% respectively
on a year earlier. Owners in
Middlesbrough, Oldham and
Thurrock are ?most at risk?
of losing their homes, while
the areas with the fewest
mortgage possession claims
are Islington, in London,
South Northamptonshire
and Cambridge.
l Thank you to Rosemary
Shewry, who wrote in reply to
my sighting of a house with
two doorbells in west London.
Could the explanation be, she
suggested following a holiday
to Iran, that one is for female
visitors and the other for
male, thereby warning the
occupants who will answer the
door? Possibly. Though I fear
I am still rather cynical about
the motivation behind fitting
a bell marked ?trade? in our
day and age.
Far more of you ? more
than 1,300 in fact, proving
that it?s still OK to do your
own trade ? headed to
steadyspin.co.uk after
reading Home last weekend,
and bought one of John
Hammond?s Steady Spin
pads. He claims to have come
up with a solution to the
problem of shaking washing
machines: a balloon-like pad
that you slide between the
countertop and the machine,
before inflating until snug to
stop the banging. At �.95,
including p&p, who needs
Dragons? Den when we bring
you Home Help?
What?s happening in your
local market, and what
would you like to know?
Email helen.davies@
sunday-times.co.uk
MOVING ON
4 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Anyone wishing to relive
the glamour ? if not the
black dress code ? of the
Golden Globes can rent
the two-bedroom flat in
Bayswater, central London,
that has been a crash pad
for a host of stellar tenants.
Celebs who?ve stayed at
the �950-a-week property
(not together) include the
Hollywood stars Kirsten
Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal,
and the director Jane
Campion. Gwyneth Paltrow,
who announced last
week that she was giving
?the soul-stretching,
pattern-breaking
opportunities? of intimacy
another shot by marrying
the television producer
Brad Falchuk, has also
spent the night there
(knightfrank.co.uk).
Or splash out on a
Med-style villa in West
Hollywood, owned by
the Oscar-winning
actress Halle Berry for
more than a decade.
Berry, 51, sold the
three-bedroom home
for $4.15m in January
2006, significantly more
than the current price
tag of $3.795m (�8m;
christiesrealestate.com).
Alexandra Goss
6 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
SHOULD YOU
STAY
GAVIN SMITH
Home Cover
OR SHOULD YOU
GO?
London v the shires: with a record number
of people selling up, Martina Lees assesses
the pros and cons of city buzz and country life
A
re you planning
to move house
this year? Record
numbers of
Londoners are
leaving the confines of the
M25 as price growth slows
and owners cash in on their
bricks-and-mortar gains.
The move of the upwardly
mobile urbanite to the shires ?
whether from London or other
British cities ? is more fiercely
debated, and fastidiously
plotted, than any cabinet
reshuffle. The frustrations,
financial outlay and stress of
househunting mean the
pressure to get it right can be
overwhelming.
Yes, you want a bigger
house, a dog and space for
your children to run wild, but
what can you afford? Town,
village or suburbs? Surrey or
Hampshire, Winchester or
Colchester? A two-bedroom
cottage near Dorking, Surrey,
for �5,000, or five bedrooms
and 4� acres in Hertfordshire
for �5m? And that?s before
factoring in commuting costs.
Yet the dream of escaping
the fug of the South Circular is
a popular one. Annual net
migration out of London has
more than doubled in five years
to 93,000 ? a post-recession
peak, according to the Office for
National Statistics. The exodus
is made up not only of those
who can?t afford to climb the
ladder, now the average home
in the capital costs 14� times
average earnings, but also,
increasingly, of owners selling
up in wealthy postcodes.
In the past year, 42% of
these ?prime? vendors (or
about 2,000 households)
bought outside London ? up
from 33% in 2013, according to
a new report by the data
analyst LonRes and Hamptons
International estate agency.
It found that the gap between
prices in the capital and
elsewhere peaked in 2014;
and, as it has begun to narrow,
London sellers have taken the
opportunity to cash in on
previous gains. This year, with
weaker expectations for price
growth, the report predicts
more will move away.
The greatest proportion of
prime leavers (48%) move to
the southeast, followed by the
east of England (23%). About
20% head more than 50 miles
away, up from 11% in 2010;
and a third spend more on
their next property.
Before joining them, though,
you need to work out whether
THE HIGHEST
NUMBER
OF PRIME
LONDON
LEAVERS
(42%) GO TO THE
SOUTH
EAST
you?re ready to move at all.
Many people claim taking the
leap out of London was the best
thing they ever did. Sarah and
Angus Henderson, both 40,
sold a terrace in Wandsworth,
southwest London, to build a
house on Angus?s parents?
farm near the Surrey/Kent
border. Their children, Jago, 9,
Hamish, 8, and India, 5,
?needed space and freedom?,
says Sarah, who markets an
online art gallery, Lumitrix.
com. Two years on, they are
still renting, but the children
have nevertheless ?thrived?.
Yet for some, the grass
turned out to be less green
than they had hoped. Emily
and Euan Murray weren?t
ready when, as sleep-deprived
young parents seven years
ago, they moved up to
Edinburgh for help from all the
grandparents. ?Then the baby
fog lifted and all the reasons
why we lived in London
before were still there,? says
Emily, 39, an interiors blogger
(pinkhouse.co.uk). ?We
missed the multicultural
element ? the mix, the
excitement, the opportunity.?
Now they?re back with
their sons Oscar, 8, and Zac, 5.
In July, the Murrays bought a
five-bedroom Edwardian semi
in Forest Hill, southeast
London, forking out about
�0,000 more than they
had sold a similar house in
Edinburgh for. This has boosted
Euan, 40, in his career heading
a sustainability non-profit.
They aren?t the only family
to boomerang back to London,
so here are the 13 questions to
ask before making your move.
1
Are you just bored?
The first question that the
buying agent James
Greenwood asks new clients
at Stacks Property Search is
not ?How many bedrooms??,
but ?Why are you moving??.
His advice: if you can?t come
up with a good reason, don?t.
Moving won?t end any
restlessness caused by your
job or relationship. ?Like Four
Weddings and a Funeral said,
people get married when ?they
run out of conversation?,? says
Belinda Aspinall, founder of
LifeafterLondon.com, which
compiles personal research
reports to help Londoners
decide whether, and where,
to move (from �0). ?Don?t
move because you are bored.?
2
Have you visualised the
new normal?
Aspinall, 43, started
LifeafterLondon.com five years
ago after pulling out of a deal to
trade Wandsworth, southwest
London, for Wiltshire ?at
horrible expense?. Two days
before they were due to
exchange, her family visited
their would-be home. ?The
trees were not in leaf. The
traffic noise was a bit louder.
It made us realise, what does
normal look like when friends
from London stop coming??
Big houses have higher
running costs and take more
work, warns Mary Till, 43, a
graphic designer who works
from the Wiltshire manor she
shares with her husband and
their three under-10s. It has
three times as much space as
the London home they left
three years ago, but with 10
acres and 86 trees, it?s ?like
managing a smallholding?.
Country properties also
often have issues that rarely
crop up in London: are they
listed? Will they flood? Is it
easy to get home insurance?
Do they have oil-fired heating?
What?s the broadband speed?
Is there a phone signal?
3
Are you blinded by the
house?
In the Noughties, Claire
Zambuni sold a mortgage-free
flat in Tufnell Park, north
London, to buy a 30-acre
country house in Berkshire
with her young son and
then boyfriend. The PR
executive, now 48, gave up
her job to manage the project.
That meant ?losing my
identity a bit?, she admits.
?I was naive to think I could
change my life so drastically
so quickly.
?My relationship wasn?t
stable enough to cope with it,
and the whole thing was
financially crippling.?
Zambuni, who now runs a PR
firm, zambuni.com, advises
renting first.
Other buyers are ?beaten
into submission? by the
sheer hell of househunting,
says Henry Sherwood,
managing director of the
Buying Agents ? exacerbated
in the current market by a
record shortage of homes
coming up for sale. For some,
when they finally find a home
that is not yet sold, and they?re
not outbid, ?practicalities go
out of the window?.
ESSEX
�5,000
Down a tree-lined
drive in Bicknacre,
eight miles from
Chelmsford, this
house has four
receptions and four
double bedrooms.
Strip away the
swirly carpets and
the beauty of its
Edwardian bones
will shine.
01245 807265,
beresfords.co.uk
�5,000
No place like
home Emily and
Euan Murray
moved back to
London from
Edinburgh with
their children,
Oscar and Zac
lawn, what next? Moving is
harder for teens, who face key
exams and can struggle to
adjust after leaving meaningful
friendships. Ask your children
how they feel ? and ask
yourself how you?d feel about
becoming a glorified taxi
service when they want to go
shopping or to a party.
ALEX LAKE
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 7
7
TIMES
DIGITAL
What?s the worst
move you?ve ever
made? Join the
conversation
@TheSTHome
or email property@
sunday-times.co.uk
4
Will it work for the
next decade?
A short-term focus is the
biggest mistake Sherwood sees.
?Assume you?re buying for a
minimum of 10 years,? he
advises. For couples, this may
mean some uncomfortable
questions: ?Will it be a family
home? How many children
are you planning? Will your
parents visit for long periods??
You should also consider the
opportunities for career
progression, and if secondary
schools are more important
than a village primary that
Ofsted deems outstanding.
In 2015, while expecting
their second child, Jo and
Tim Philips left their rented
London home for Bristol,
where they?d both studied.
They thought the return would
be simple: they already owned
a five-bedroom house there.
?It was a very different pace
of life with children than as
university students,? says Jo,
38, a business consultant.
For Tim, 40, a management
consultant, ?the pay grades
DO YOU
REALLY WANT
TO BECOME A
GLORIFIED
TAXI
SERVICE
FOR YOUR
KIDS?
weren?t really available in
Bristol?, she adds. He
commuted weekly to London
? ?horrific? ? until the couple
relocated to Surrey.
5
Can you cope with the
commute?
If you plan to head back
into the city every day for
work, choose a train line with
a maximum of one change to
reach the office, and look at
how busy that station is ? will
you have to stand for an hour
on a packed train?
Allow extra time to get to
the station, too, Aspinall says:
?On the map, country lanes
might seem better, but is that
the time when the cows are on
the move? Also, don?t assume
you?ll be able to park ? and it?s
rarely free.?
Look at the economics, too.
Yes, you may be able to get a
more affordable house outside
London, but are your savings
being eroded by thousands of
pounds of extra commuting
costs each year? How likely is
strike action to affect the line,
and do the trains have wi-fi?
6
Will it work for the kids?
Do they really want to go
geocaching, or would they
prefer the Science Museum?
What facilities are available if
they have a particular interest
or talent? And, once they?ve
outgrown a playroom and the
How long is the school
run?
Education is one of the
main drivers for many families
moving out of London, so
wherever you?re considering
moving to, check that it has
what you want: Britain?s top
2,000 schools are ranked at
thesundaytimes.co.uk/
parentpower. ?Don?t just look
at primary schools,? says
Rupert Reeves, partner in
Carter Jonas estate agency?s
office in Newbury, West
Berkshire. ?You need to check
it has the secondary options
you think you will want, too ?
whether state, private or
grammar. It?s better to have a
lot of choice, so you can find
something that best suits your
child when the time comes.?
Remember, though, that a
25-minute drive to school
means nearly an hour?s round
trip twice a day, or more often
if your children are of different
ages ? and that?s not factoring
in any after-school or weekend
clubs. Trying the run
beforehand is the only way to
check whether snarl-ups will
double that commute.
?Winters are tough,? Sarah
Henderson says. ?The
darkness, the mud... Our
rural spot is easily ?7C when
scraping the ice off the car for
the school run. But I can park
the car outside my own house
and I don?t have to lock it.?
Note, too, that wraparound
childcare is less common
outside London, as fewer
nurseries stay open until 7pm.
8
Do you need to support
elderly family?
How often would you visit
your parents ? and who can
help out if you?re far away?
Greenwood recently advised
retired clients to trade
Buckinghamshire for
Monmouthshire, rather than
North Wales. That would cut
the journey time to elderly
parents in the southeast from
five hours to three.
9
Where is your real
network?
Jo Philips missed her
Wandsworth parenting
?
SURREY
GLOUCESTERSHIRE
On the village
green in Brockham,
this two-bedroom
cottage would suit
downsizers from
London: it?s an hour
to the capital from
Dorking station,
three miles away.
There?s a studio in
the lush garden.
01306 887560,
jackson-stops.
co.uk
Grade II listed
Lower Chalkley
Farm is set in 1.6
acres, with
Cotswold views,
yet is just six miles
from the Waitrose
in Chipping
Sodbury. The 17thcentury house has
five bedrooms.
01285 627681,
struttandparker.
com
�2M
MY BEST
MOVE EVER
Longtime Londoner India Knight on why starry
Suffolk skies beat the Night Tube hands down
L
eaving London has
been one of the best
things I?ve ever done.
I haven?t regretted it
for a fraction of a
second, even when people
said things like, ?Just wait
until it?s January and raining
horizontally,? or, ghastlily,
?But what about the theatre??
The horizontal rain is one
of my favourite things, as it
happens, because it so
accentuates the especial
bliss of being cosily indoors,
fire blazing away, with
books and dogs and cups
of tea. And cultural life
happens outside the capital,
too ? imagine!
I?ve found living out in the
sticks ? and we are very
remote, even by the remote
standards of my adopted
county, Suffolk ? liberating.
I am going to write a really
prattish-sounding thing now,
and here it comes: my soul
feels free.
It?s as though my universe
has been wildly expanded,
whereas of course, in reality,
leaving a giant metropolis
after 40-odd years should
have made my universe feel
smaller. But it hasn?t. At night
it?s pitch black here, and the
stars are blazingly bright, and
I can?t tell you how wonderful
it is. In May the garden ?
and the hedgerows, and
the fields ? are at their
ravishingly beautiful peak, in
a way that gives me a lump
in my throat and thrills me.
Even now, in bleak January,
we have woodpeckers both
green and spotted. I look up
from my desk and see ducks,
coots, the odd fox and, this
morning, a particularly
industrious weasel. There
are loads of owls at night.
It?s amazing. I am amazed
by it. And the sky! We have
so much sky.
I love the rhythms of life,
so much more natural here
than they were in London. I
love the slowness of things.
But I also love how my local
market town has a brilliant
deli and two fantastic cafes.
I love how good the local
produce is. I love the
independent bookshops.
I love how creative everyone
is ? they all seem to be
making something, whether
it?s jam or paintings, cakes
or handbags.
I also love the new friends
we?ve made. It?s been like
being welcomed into a
shared secret, and I?ve
become rural enough to
go, ?Ha ha ha, how much??
with genuine incredulity in
London shops. The Big
Smoke?s fine, but I love
coming home.
??
Leaving a giant
metropolis after
40-odd years
should have
made my universe
feel smaller.
But it hasn?t
8 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Cover
�5M
MARK BOURDILLON
HERTFORDSHIRE
The childhood
home of EM
Forster, on the
edge of Stevenage,
inspired his novel
Howards End. It?s
set in 4� acres and
has five bedrooms,
yet London King?s
Cross is less than
half an hour away
by train.
01438 313393,
hunters.com
TIMES
DIGITAL
Find out how far
your money will go
by searching for
your electoral ward
or local authority
in our interactive
database
thesundaytimes.
co.uk
? group, but thought moving
to Bristol would mean
reconnecting with university
friends in the city, as well as
family in the Welsh borders. In
reality, the friends had moved
on and her relatives were an
hour away. ?Don?t move away
from your network,? she
warns. Aspinall adds: ?Don?t
host London friends every
weekend. Immerse yourself.?
Finding a town or village
with a welcoming, lively
community is the holy grail
for every London leaver. Ask
friends and colleagues who?ve
made the move whether they
would honestly recommend
where they live. Local
social-media groups can also
be a useful way to take the
temperature from afar. Mary
Till settled in with the help of
the Wiltshire Mums Facebook
group, the all-women shooting
club Femmes Fatales and a
village cream tea hosted by
their vendor.
10
Can you give up
convenience?
Closing times are earlier
in Till?s pocket of countryside,
across the Wiltshire border
from Hungerford, and you?ll
pay more for cleaners (� an
hour, instead of � in London)
and babysitters (�, not �.
Taxis are also more expensive,
and need to be booked two
weeks before a night out.
Consider, too, how far you
have to go to get a pint of milk
or a loaf of bread. ?You?d think
in the country you?d walk
more, but you walk from the
front door to the car,? Till says.
11
Have you stress-tested
your criteria?
Jo Eccles, managing
director of SP Property Group,
says that, as a buying agent,
she has helped clients realise
the difference between a
dream lifestyle and how they
actually end up living.
KENT
�5,000
Downsizers looking
for country with a
dollop of London
could try Swifts
Cottage, in Seal.
The two-bedroom
home is three miles
from Sevenoaks
station (36min to
Charing Cross).
01732 741212,
humberts.com
ESSEX
The four-bedroom
Moat House is part
of Hempstead
Hall, 10 miles from
Saffron Walden. It
has a doubleheight dining
room, 700 sq ft
drawing room and
3.3 acres of land.
01223 403330,
carterjonas.co.uk
�1M
12
SURREY
�35M
Nine miles from
Godalming?s
Waitrose and station
(50min to London
Waterloo), this
sprawling Victorian
house has six
bedrooms, a double
garage and a pool.
01483 407620,
thegrantleygroup.
co.uk
BATH
The Georgian
architect John
Pinch designed this
grade II listed semi,
a short walk from
Bath Spa station.
The four-bedroom
house has a
two-bedroom flat
in the basement.
01225 325999,
knightfrank.co.uk
Suddenly, a separate dining
room and a playroom are less
important than a nice kitchen
and a big utility room. ?How
often do you actually see your
family? How often will you
really go into the garden, not
out to a pub or play park??
When one client, in his
sixties, wanted to buy a
future-proof home, Eccles
advised him to extend his
cottage in Chiswick, west
London, so he could live on
the ground floor. In another
case, an Islington couple
with two children wanted
?basically their flat, but
bigger?. They bought the flat
next door. ?Sometimes you
should just re-evaluate where
you are.? (See panel, right.)
�685M
Can you afford the
moving costs?
If you sell for � in
London and buy more space in
the country for the same price,
you?ll pay �,750 in stamp
duty, �,000 to the estate
agent and more than �000
in mortgage and legal fees,
surveys and removals ? a total
of almost �,000.
That could comfortably pay
for an extension, which starts
at �,000-�,000 (three
metres on the rear of a typical
Victorian terrace) or a loft
conversion (�,000-�,000).
13
Will you miss London,
or the idea of it?
Identify what you will
miss. Can you replace that in
your new location? When Niki
and Kenton Jones and their
two young children swapped
Tooting Bec, south London,
for Tunbridge Wells in 2013,
they found ?a thriving creative
industry? in the Kent spa
town, where she works as an
advertising executive. ?Within
five minutes you?re in the
countryside, but you?ve also
got all the culture,? says Niki,
43. ?We?ve never looked back.?
CHANGING
ROOMS
If you love your home?s location, but not the
layout, follow Greg Toon?s advice for a fresh look
H
omeowners can be
notoriously bad at
envisaging changes
to their property.
When it comes to
moving, you will likely be on
the lookout for ?potential?,
but what about your own
home? Fresh eyes ? even
unqualified ones ? provide a
different perspective. If you
can handle the critique, ask
friends for their honest
opinion on your home and
what they would change.
With a bit of lateral thinking,
you might find that you no
longer want to move.
l If you are moving for more
space, first make sure you
have extracted every inch
from your existing house.
Consider loft conversions,
altering the roofline to
increase the volume (not
on semis or terraces) and
maybe even a basement.
l If your home is fully
extended, consider bespoke
joinery to create flexible
spaces that adapt to changes
of circumstances, such as
having a baby or working
from home. With the right
furniture and storage, a play
area in the kitchen/diner can
easily be turned into a sitting
area or used to extend the
dining area for parties.
l If you are moving because
you desire something
grander, think whether you
can improve your key spaces.
Expand the master bedroom
into that underused spare
room, install a luxurious
ensuite and look at vaulting
the ceiling (with roof lights)
to give an airier feel.
Extend to make the rear
rooms large enough for an
aspirational family kitchen
and keep the front as snug
winter living rooms. Use
lots of glass at the back to
maximise views and bring
light into the deeper spaces.
l If downsizing, demolish
that dated conservatory and
put in large sliding doors to
turn one of the rear rooms
into a garden room: with the
right orientation, it will have
some of the benefits of a
conservatory without all
the drawbacks. Knock
bedrooms together or
convert one into an upstairs
living room, giving you a
different perspective or more
light in the morning.
If you can address both
the practical and emotional
sides of the property, you will
have a high chance of falling
back in love with your home
? and you may not need to
move after all.
Greg Toon is the founder of
Potential etc?, which specialises
in making the most of unloved
spaces; potentialetc.com
??
If you can handle
the critique, ask
friends for an
honest opinion
on your home,
and what they
would change
10 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
S
ophie and Bob Sheard are born
storytellers. They settle in front
of the cavernous fireplace of their
Tudor sitting room, and Bob
begins the dramatic tale of the
rescue of the Manor House, in South
Littleton, Worcestershire, with the words:
?There are some houses that are so
wrecked and so big, no one takes them on.?
What unfolds is a property thriller
featuring four-poster-bed picnics,
100-bucket floods and catastrophic
squirrel trouble. The couple?s skill at
weaving a compelling narrative is the basis
of their business, FreshBritain, which
helps clients from Team Sky and Volvo to
Bear Grylls and Al Gore?s sustainable
equity fund to form a ?brand vision?. As
they recount the triumphs and disasters,
their passion for their grade II* listed
home is unmistakable. Though I imagine
sometimes the only thought that kept them
going during its 14-year restoration was
that one day this would make a great yarn.
Bob is not exaggerating the building?s
size. The Elizabethan manor, with a
smart William and Mary facade added by
Francis Taylor, the agent to the Earl of
Coventry, is, technically speaking,
humongous. After a quick count, we agree
on five bathrooms and a dozen bedrooms.
But it also has a couple of wig rooms,
a priest-hole, a panelled dining hall, a
minstrels? gallery with two swings, and
a cupola with a 360-degree view of the
Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham. In the
first six months of occupancy, they
discovered two extra rooms.
The house?s size deterred many buyers,
but its utter dereliction was the main push
factor: when the couple arrived, trees
were growing out of the roof. Sophie says:
?My mum reassured me it would be fine.
I think everyone else we knew thought we
were crazy.?
Today the manor house is a cosy,
colourful family home to Sophie and Bob,
both 46, and teenagers Henry, 18, and
Daisy, 16. It was the arrival of the kids that
had made the Sheards consider a move
from north London. They had grown up
in rural surroundings: Sophie was born in
Warwickshire and spent her childhood on
her parents? farm, with summer holidays
seeing relatives in Wales; Bob grew up in a
village in West Yorkshire.
They came to the capital to study, met
at the London College of Fashion in 1989
and stayed in the city to found their
business. But they wanted their offspring
to benefit from a country childhood.
Bob recalls: ?I once read in the Camden
New Journal about a gruesome murder,
on page 6. The same week in the Evesham
Journal, the cover story was ?Library gets
new shelves.??
The flight from Primrose Hill began
in June 2002, when Daisy was one and
Bob and Sophie Sheard bought the
manor near Evesham for �5,000
in 2003
Henry was three, and they decamped to
Italy and France for a year. ?We rented a
beautiful villa looking over Florence, then
spent six months in Avoriaz, in the French
Alps. Then we came back and started
looking at properties in the country to
restore.? They acquired the manor house,
which was on English Heritage?s Buildings
at Risk register, for �5,000 in September
2003, after a two-stage sealed bid process,
and moved in that November.
Sophie, whose family are seasoned
renovators, took on the role of project
manager. ?My father and two brothers
own a hotel in Shropshire and used to
own a brewery in Buckinghamshire, both
historic country properties. I spent my
childhood living in wrecks and going
round reclamation centres, so I thought,
?I can do it? ? but I must admit, the first
days I got the keys, I sat on the stairs and
cried as the water poured down the main
staircase like a river.? Bob says: ?At one
point, we owned more than 100 buckets.?
The roof was the most urgent task, but
in 2003 they began by reconstructing the
wall and the walled gardens. Permission
for the works had to be gained from
English Heritage and the Wychavon
conservation officer, and the process was
so protracted that the roof could not be
replaced until 2006. In the meantime,
Sophie remembers: ?There was no heating
or hot water, the electrics were unsafe
and window panes were broken or
boarded up. When we first moved in, we
all slept in the dining hall because it had
windows that weren?t broken, so we had
four camp beds and slept in our skiwear
to keep warm. Daisy was two and Henry
was four at the time.?
Comfort levels were challenging.
Budget was positively hair-raising. To give
a snapshot of the sums involved, Bob
says: ?The roof we paid for by selling our
three-bedroom maisonette in London.
We became very good at 36-times
multiplication: � for each light switch,
times three per room, times 36 rooms,
means a conversation about light switches
is a �600 conversation. Restored
cast-iron radiators at �0 each became
a �,000 conversation, and the
restoration of restored oak window
frames and handmade glass leaded lights
to put in the frames was much the same.?
Sophie?s ingenuity became invaluable.
?Everything was going on the roof, and we
didn?t have much cash for the interiors. It
made it more interesting, and made me go
out and search for things I really liked and
could afford.? Dismayed by the price of
drapes, she cut down the curtains from
their previous property in Primrose Hill
BEAMING W
After 14 years of floods, fires and sleeping in skiwear, one
GET THE LOOK
l A favourite source for vintage and
new Welsh blankets and cushions is
Jane Beck. New multicheck throws
woven at Melin Tregwynt cost �9.
welshblankets.co.uk
l Traditional cast-iron I 18 stoves
from the Norwegian manufacturer
Jotul heat the larger rooms.
From �899; jotul.com
l Blue and white Cornishware fills pine
shelves and dressers in the kitchen.
Classic hooped ceramics by TG Green
include mugs, jugs, plates and jars.
From � cornishware.co.uk
l Sally Rowles?s earthenware platters
are thrown and painted by hand,
with coloured slips, in her garden
workshop in Wales. Prices start at �
for a 25cm plate.
magicgardenceramics.co.uk
l The turquoise wallpaper printed
with gold bumblebees in the master
bedroom is based on a silk fabric found
in Josephine Bonaparte?s bedroom.
� a roll; farrow-ball.com
l The kitchen units are in reclaimed
oak from Cox?s Architectural, a salvage
company in Moreton-in-Marsh, as are
the kitchen sink and the bathroom
fittings. Belfast sinks start at �0.
coxsarchitectural.co.uk
WITH
W
PRIDE
epic renovation has paid off, says Katrina Burroughs
ADRIAN SHERRATT
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 11
for the windows, and drove the length of
the country, from Scotland to Somerset,
to find affordable furniture, including her
?pride and joy? ? a salvaged copper tub
from Frome Reclamation.
In their day job, the Sheards dig down
to the core identities of the companies
they help, then refresh them for the
future. Bob says: ?The problem with
brands is that every three to four years
they have successive owners. It?s a bit like
a Georgian townhouse, where someone
comes in and knocks through the kitchen,
the next person puts in a spa bath, and the
house loses its architectural integrity. The
job of us as brand guys is to bring it back
to the authenticity and project it into the
future. That?s a good metaphor for what
we?ve done here.?
Materials were carefully researched
and sourced: the couple used lime plaster
and limewash paint on the walls, and
handmade glass from Poland for the
window panes. They salvaged and reused
all they could from the original structure.
Every oak window and door frame had to
come out, so, wherever possible, the
timber from each was saved and spliced
into the replacement carpentry. This
diligent approach was recognised when
they won an award for the restoration: a
certificate of merit, awarded by the Vale
of Evesham Civic Society in 2007.
From the beginning, the project was
marked by incidents tragic and comic.
Bob remembers a red-letter day in
December 2006: ?We fired up the Baby
Belling in the only habitable bedroom,
and all four of us had hot steak
sandwiches and got into the four-poster
to watch Leona Lewis win The X Factor.?
Sophie recalls what is now a cherished
part of family folklore. ?We had one of the
freestanding 1920s baths original to the
house restored and installed to create our
first proper bathroom. Bob ran himself a
hot bath and got in it. The feet
immediately fell off the tub and all the
water ended up in the corridor below.?
On September 29, 2010, works were
complete and the family gave a dinner
party to thank the people who had
supported them during seven gruelling
years. Sophie says: ?Everything was set in
the dining hall, fire lit, candles lit, table
laid, Bob had the food under control and
I was changing upstairs, expecting the
guests to arrive shortly. I heard Bob start
shouting downstairs, screaming at me to
call the fire brigade. I followed him into
the dining hall and could see small flames
licking out from the ceiling above.?
The roof and all the timbers of the
Elizabethan section of the house were
lost. Forensic investigators from the
insurance company arrived next morning
to find the fire had been caused by
squirrels nesting under the roof tiles and
chewing lighting cables.
The project is complete now, bar the
hanging of a few pictures. The squirrels
and the buckets are long gone; the
replacement electric cables are covered
in armoured sheaths. The family have
surrounded themselves with beloved
objects: woven Welsh blankets and
distinctive Welsh ceramics collected by
Sophie?s mother, antique maps of
Yorkshire and Bob?s own oil paintings of
the children. The kids themselves, far
from being traumatised by their early
experiences of skiwear for PJs, adore the
building. Henry did his A-level revision
in a study room, surrounded by his
vintage typewriters and vinyl; Daisy has
a light-filled art studio. Sophie says:
?Sometimes we say to them, ?Maybe we
should downsize?? They won?t hear of it.?
So the ending is a happy one, though
the epic has left a lasting mark on Bob:
?I can no longer watch a lot of Channel 4.
As soon as a house programme comes on,
I leave the room.?
TOP
KITCHEN
GADGETS
Reusable Eau
Good water
bottles have
a binchotan
charcoal filter.
�; black-blum.com
Bye-bye,
bottled water.
Blue Home,
from Grohe,
offers filtered,
chilled, still,
sparkling and
semi on tap.
From �039;
grohe.co.uk
The Smart
Garden 9, by
Click & Grow,
feeds and
waters your
plants. �;
harrods.com
In stainless
steel, with a
bamboo top,
this tub works
as a sandwich
box or fridge
storage.
�; blackblum.com
Check on and
reward your
pet while you
are out, with
Petcube Bites.
�0;
selfridges.
com
Upload
recipes to the
door of the
Hoover Vision
oven, or use
programmed
videos.
�499;
diy.com
For devotees of
posh tea, the Smeg
KLF04 kettle can be
set for 50C, 60C,
70C, 80C, 90C, 95C
or 100C. �0;
smeguk.com
The Sintesi, by
Falmec, is a
touch-control
induction hob and
extractor fan in one
sleek appliance.
From �143;
falmec.co.uk
Foppapedretti
beech and
aluminium
ironing board,
with a cotton
hammock.
�0;
lakeland.
co.uk
KB
12 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL DRIVER
Home Experts
ts
THE BEST...
CORDLESS VACUUM
CLEANERS
Morphy Richards 734050
98/100; �0;
amazon.co.uk
l Perfect pick-up scores
on all floor types
l Tackles pet hair in one
easy sweep
l Can also be used as a
handheld mini vacuum
l If you leave it in the
docking station, it?s always
charged and ready to use
goodhousekeeping.co.uk/
institute
READERS?
CLINIC
HOW CAN I STOP
SCATTER CUSHIONS
FROM SLIPPING ON
A LEATHER SOFA?
Margaret Parry, via email
Jennifer Steer, via email
Replace the cushion inserts
with feather pads. These
will stay in place better on
the leather?s slippy surface.
Dunelm has a good range
(from � dunelm.com).
Andy Wells, via email
Stitch or stick antislip mat,
the rubbery mesh for
stopping things slipping on
shelves, to the back of the
cushion cover. It helps.
Ian Lambdon, Isle of Wight
Araldite!
l Future question How do
I sterilise jars to make jam?
Send your tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk.
Readers? tips should not be
considered expert advice
I AM DIVORCING MY
HUSBAND. WHAT ARE
MY RIGHTS TO THE
FAMILY HOME?
Q
I am planning
to divorce
my husband.
The family home
is registered in
his name. What
are my rights to
this house, and
how can I prevent my
husband from selling it
without my consent?
RS, Gloucestershire
Dyson V6 Absolute
98/100; �0;
argos.co.uk
l Ticks all the boxes when
retrieving dust and pet hair
from various floor types
l Powerful suction. Picks
up in one sweep with both
the standard head and the
mini motorised tool
l Detachable handheld
piece works well in the car
l Lightweight, attractive
and easy to operate
Gtech AirRam K9 MK2
97/100; �0;
gtech.co.uk
l Excellent choice that
scored almost full marks
l Sucked debris from the
crevices of floorboards
l Tackled crumbs well
l Great suction for pet
hair, but it got tangled in
the brush
l 40-minute run time
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
A
HOME
HELP
Confused by CCTV cameras, condensation or
capital gains tax? Our experts are on hand
Q
After I was burgled, I
installed CCTV cameras
in my driveway and on
the sides of my property. My
neighbours have objected,
as the cameras overlook
their land. What can I do?
L Morris, Kent
A
We all have the right to
protect our homes with
CCTV. The surveillance
camera commissioner
recommends ?responsible?
usage: a grey area when
filming land that isn?t yours,
such as a shared driveway. If
CCTV captures images outside
your property, these are
subject to the Data Protection
Act and don?t fall under the
domestic purposes exemption.
There have been complaints
to the police about domestic
CCTV from neighbours and
pedestrians, who believe
cameras are spying on them.
By law, their right to privacy
may be protected by the
Human Rights Act. So put
stickers on your windows
that state ?CCTV cameras in
use?, in full view. If a break-in
occurs, the footage can then
be used in court. This also
deters burglars.
Invite your neighbours over
and show them some footage.
Say that you are only trying to
prevent a burglary, and that it
should help their security, too.
Assure them you will not be
streaming footage publicly.
Try angling the camera
differently; narrow the view to
appease them. You could also
put filters on the camera: add
black gaffer tape to one corner,
obscuring their property.
Nina McDowall, head of Strutt &
Parker?s Knightsbridge lettings
office; struttandparker.com
Q
I am buying a flat, but it
doesn?t have a window
in the bathroom, which
has an internal wall. Is an
extractor fan alone enough
to stop condensation?
TL, Penge
A
External walls are more
prone to condensation,
but it?s really the amount
of airborne moisture from a
bath or shower that causes
condensation. Open windows
allow warm, wet air to escape
and lessen the risk.
Building regulations
require bathrooms to have
ventilation, such as an
extractor fan, to remove damp
air. Often it?s connected to the
lighting: if the light is on, so is
the fan. Some switch it off to
reduce noise. Don?t do this.
Extractor fans must be kept
clean to work. Check this
with a piece of tissue paper ?
when the fan is on, it should
hold the tissue against itself.
It?s not only showers that
are a concern. Drying clothes
in a bathroom or putting a wet
towel over a heated rail will
require the fan to be running
to allow moisture to escape.
Finally, the fan will be sized
to suit the bathroom only. If
you shower with the bathroom
door open, wet air can spread
to non-ventilated areas, which
may cause condensation there.
Steven Way, principal, Collier
Stevens chartered surveyors;
collier-stevens.co.uk
Q
Four years ago, we
converted an office that
was grade II listed back
into a residence. We have
lived here ever since. We
now want to let it for the
next five years, and do not
expect its price to rise much
If your husband is the
sole legal owner of the
property, and no one
else (other than you) has a
beneficial interest, you have
a continuing right under
the Family Law Act 1996 to
occupy your home. This can
be protected by registering
a home rights notice at the
Land Registry (if the house
is registered).
Consider doing this
immediately. It won?t
prevent your husband from
selling the house, but your
occupation rights, once
registered, will have priority
over any purchaser (until
your divorce, unless the
court orders otherwise).
Reasonable people are
unlikely to buy when they
see the notice on the title.
Even if the property is
registered in your husband?s
sole name, you may still have
a beneficial interest. You can
protect this by registering
a restriction at the Land
during this time. But the
tax rules on capital gains
imply that if we sell, the
financial gain would be
spread over the total period
of ownership. Will we have
to pay tax on half the gain?
Can we protect ourselves?
Philip Brown, via email
A
There may be a taxable
gain on the eventual sale of
the property, but principal
private residence relief (PPR)
is available. This will apply on
a pro rata basis for your period
of occupation. For example, if
the home is owned for 108
months, but only 66 of these
qualify for actual or deemed
occupation, then 66/108 (61%)
of the gain will be offset by PPR.
In addition, if you bought
and converted the building
straightaway, and it was
unoccupied while the work
was carried out, there is a
concession from HMRC with
respect to development of a
property that will be your
private residence. This is for up
to two years of work, and if
you did not move into the
property within that period,
then normally there is no relief
during the conversion.
Registry. Again, this will not
prevent a sale, but a prudent
purchaser will not proceed.
When you get a divorce,
you and your husband must
resolve all financial matters.
If your solicitor makes a
formal application for a
financial remedy order on
your behalf, you can then
register a unilateral
notice at the Land
Registry to
protect your
pending claim.
Again, this notice
may not stop a
sale, but it makes
it less likely.
The way in which your
assets are divided on divorce
will depend on your and
your husband?s specific
circumstances. The family
home is likely to be a key
matrimonial asset that the
lawyers (and the court) will
consider when determining
a fair financial settlement.
They will look at whether
you or your husband should
retain the home in the
long term, if the property
should be sold and how the
proceeds should be divided.
If you are worried that your
husband will try to dispose
of the house without your
consent, you can obtain a
freezing order to stop a sale.
This requires an application
to court. The burden of proof
is high: you will have to show
that there is a real risk your
husband will sell the property
and dissipate the proceeds,
and that other preventative
measures are not sufficient.
In most cases, a freezing
order is not necessary.
Annabel Dean and Sarah
Hutchinson, partners, Farrer
& Co solicitors; farrer.co.uk
PPR would only apply to
the development period if,
when the alterations were
finished, the new house
became your only or main
residence. It also covers the
last 18 months of ownership,
regardless of whether you lived
there in that period.
During a tenancy period,
lettings relief is available. This
applies when a house that has
been your main residence is
let during a period of absence.
The rate applied is the lowest
of the PPR relief, the capital
gain arising during the period
in which the property was let,
or �,000.
In addition, you may use
your annual CGT exemption
(�,300) in a sale. You have
stated ?we?: if the property is
held with another person, you
can both use these allowances.
Lucy Brennan, partner,
Saffery Champness chartered
accountants; saffery.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sunday-times.
co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 13
The pursuit of sleep is a
serious business; there are
phone apps to help you
snooze and devices that
monitor bedside
temperatures, as well as
countless manuals and
scientific studies. But the
key to a good night?s rest is
the mattress.
The average lifespan for
a mattress is about seven
years. Even if it?s not lumpy
after that, it will ? according
to the Sleep Council?s Bed
Buyers? Guide ? have
absorbed half a pint of fluid
every night and a pound of
dead skin cells every year, so
it?s worth changing. Makes
you think, doesn?t it? But
which one is right for you?
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
We wouldn?t advise cutting
corners here, but you can
get away with paying less
than �0: John Lewis has an
open-spring double for �.
At the luxury end, a double
Somnus Royal Britannia,
made by Harrison Spinks with
wool from a flock of rare
Wensleydale sheep reared on
the manufacturer?s 300-acre
farm in North Yorkshire,
will set you back �759
(harrisonspinks.co.uk).
SOFT OR FIRM?
The old adage that those
with a bad back need a hard
surface is not necessarily
true. Think about how you
lie and which mattress will
support your spine in a
natural position. When you
are lying on your side, your
backbone should be
horizontal. As a rule, the
heavier you are, the firmer
the mattress you will need.
Loaf?s Perfect Mattress is
available in three tensions,
including extra-firm (�5
for a double; loaf.com).
If you and your partner are
of differing weights, causing
irritating ?roll together?,
consider a dual-tension
mattress. The Swedish
bespoke bed manufacturer
Hastens can customise its
2000T with a different
firmness for each side. Prices
start at �,930 for a W160cm
mattress, which is roughly
kingsize (hastens.com).
A more affordable option
is ?zip and link?: two single
mattresses fastened
together, each ranging from
soft to extra-firm. Vispring
Zip & Links are available in
including wool from
Herdwick sheep (�9 for
a double; herdysleep.com).
Naturalmat, a Devon
manufacturer, fills its
mattresses with organic coir,
lambswool, cotton and
cashmere (from �900 for a
double; naturalmat.co.uk)
Or plump for the last word
in opulence: the Vispring
Magnificence double
mattress has natural fillings
including Shetland wool,
cashmere, mohair and
Moosburger horsetail
(�,800; vispring.com).
TANYA CONSTANTINE/GETTY IMAGES
HOW
TO...
CHOOSE A MATTRESS
a W182cm (superking) size
or larger; prices start at
�630 for a Vispring Elite,
through And So to Bed
(andsotobed.co.uk).
WHAT IF I?M ALLERGIC?
The filling in your mattress
can aggravate allergies.
Memory foam is good for
asthmatics and those allergic
to house dust mites. It can be
pricy ? Tempur?s Sensation
Elite 25 costs �625 for a
double (johnlewis.com) ?
but Ikea?s Morgedal double
mattress, roll-packed for easy
transport, is �5 (ikea.co.uk).
Provided you are not
allergic to latex, the new
Latex 3000 pocket air-sprung
mattress is resistant to dust
mites, mould and bacteria;
what?s more, it does not get
as warm as foam can (�5;
soakandsleep.com).
Alternatively, cover a
regular mattress with an
anti-allergen cover (from
� at John Lewis).
AND IF I PREFER A TRADITIONAL
NATURAL FILLING?
Wool and cotton fillers are
more breathable than foam,
and can be better for those
who feel hot sleeping on a
foam mattress. Herdysleep
has launched a rollable
pocket-sprung mattress,
TALK ME THROUGH SPRINGS
Open-spring or open-coil
mattresses contain wire
wound into connected
springs. They?re ideal for
those on a budget, or for
guest rooms: the John Lewis
Basics Collection includes an
open-spring double for �
(johnlewis.com).
Pocket springs give better
support than open-coil, but,
you guessed it, they cost
more. Manufacturers often
use the number of springs as
a shorthand for quality, but
it?s not that simple, says Kris
Manalo, sleep buyer at Heal?s:
?You can only truly tell if you
like a mattress by lying on it.
Our top-of-the-range model
has more than 3,000 springs,
and it feels amazing. Yet some
people prefer the feel of our
1,500-count mattress ? it?s
all down to personal taste.?
The Emma double has
2,000 pocket springs (�9;
emma-mattress.co.uk),
while the new Lyndhurst
1700, from Swoon Editions,
has 1,700 (�9 for a double;
swooneditions.com).
Button & Sprung has a
unique ?IQ Spring? in its
Wensleydale mattress, which
offers ?progressive support?:
the more you push on it,
the more it pushes back
(�400 for a double;
buttonandsprung.com).
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
This used to mean going into
a shop and lying on a couple
of mattresses for 10 minutes
each, then deciding between
them. That changed with the
rise of e-commerce: online
retailers tend not to have a
showroom, so an increasing
number of suppliers allow
you to test your potential
purchase for 100 nights
before you commit, with
free returns. These include
Emma, Sleepbear, Casper,
Swoon Editions and Simba.
Katrina Burroughs
14 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Overseas
BEGUILED BY BELIZE
This Caribbean hideaway is the film director Sofia Coppola?s favourite retreat. By Jeremy Callaghan
B
elize may not be
the obvious
destination for
a second home,
but the Coppola
family don?t do obvious. The
Central American nation,
discreetly tucked into the
Caribbean coast, looks and
feels as if it is a half a world
away from anything, and
that?s the way the movie
dynasty like it. To the locals,
the Coppolas are not much
more than ?that family who
like Italian food?.
?We?ve had lots of fun trips
in Belize since my dad wanted
to go and discover it in the
1980s,? says Sofia Coppola,
46. Her father, Francis Ford
Coppola, had just finished
Apocalypse Now and, after an
infamously demanding shoot,
was looking for somewhere
the family could regroup,
halfway between the steamy
jungle of the Philippines,
where the Vietnam War epic
was shot, and the concrete
craziness of Hollywood.
Belize is where the family
have retreated ever since,
with Francis, 78, going on
to open Turtle Inn, near the
village of Placencia. It?s an
eco-resort established long
before that kind of description
became part of the traveller?s
lexicon. So, when a plot of
land next to the inn became
available, Sofia jumped at
the opportunity to create her
own beach hideaway.
At the edge of the world?s
second largest barrier reef,
Placencia is one of those
places where nature still rules
and high-speed internet has
not yet taken off. Mayan ruins
are a few hours? drive away
and jaguars roam the jungles.
?It?s unlike any place I
know,? she says. ?It feels like
an undiscovered small town ?
authentic and not at all
touristy. When my brothers
and I first came here, it was
as if we were camping. We?d
just play poker and swim.
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We still do pretty much the
same thing.?
Now, though, the seaside
location is graced by Sofia?s
Beach House, designed by
the French architect Laurent
Deroo. She met Deroo when
a store he had designed for
the French fashion brand
APC, in Tokyo?s hip Harajuku
district, was used as a
location for her 2003 film
Lost in Translation. ?I loved
his work,? she says. ?He uses
wood in an interesting way,
so I thought he would make
something I would love. I
first saw his designs in Tokyo,
and he started working on
the house when I was living
in Paris during [the making
of her 2006 film] Marie
Antoinette.?
The house, which has a
double bedroom, children?s
bunks and two one-bedroom
guest houses, it is remarkable
in that is just that: a house and
not much more. The emphasis
is not on who designed the
wall coverings or furnishings,
but is thrown back onto the
occupants, encouraging
them to look at each other,
their relationships and the
natural world without any
other distractions.
??
It?s unlike any place
I know. It feels like
an undiscovered
small town ?
authentic and not
at all touristy
?I love to go there for a rest
after work with family, or to
write a project,? says Sofia,
who last year became only
the second woman to win best
director at the Cannes Film
Festival, for her Civil War
drama The Beguiled.
?It?s a slow way of life, and
it?s refreshing to be at the sea.
There is an Italian couple in
the village who make the best
gelato, so that?s our usual
afternoon activity, to go there
? it?s called Tutti Frutti. It feels
very far away from city life.?
Sofia?s Beach House is available
to rent from $2,379 per night;
coppolaresorts.com/turtleinn
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 15
Corozal
Ambergris Caye
San Pedro
Caye Caulker
Belize City
BELIZE
20 miles
JUNGLE FEVER
GAELLE CALLAGHAN; ERIK PENDZICH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
MEXICO
Belize is off the radar for most buyers, but the tiny Central
American nation?s appeal is growing, says Emma Wells
T
Placencia
Director?s hut
Sofia Coppola?s
Beach House,
near Placencia,
has lots of natural
wood finishes.
It?s an ideal base
for taking boat
trips to explore
the reef
he Coppolas are not the only
movie A-listers who have felt
compelled to create their
own paradise in this corner
of the Caribbean. Leonardo
DiCaprio has invested in a project on
Blackadore Caye, an unpopulated
104-acre island just west of Ambergris
Caye. Building work on his eco-resort ?
and on 36 luxurious villas that are due to
go on sale ? was expected to start last year.
As with many a Hollywood project,
exact details of what?s on offer are
sketchy, and there are no updates on
progress from the site. Don?t let that stop
you, though: there?s a growing number
of resorts in Belize catering to the more
adventurous buyer seeking a holiday
home in a pristine natural setting. The
dense jungle interior is studded with
Mayan ruins, and much of it is protected.
The 186-mile Belize Barrier Reef is dotted
with hundreds of pristine cayes hosting
rich marine life and mangrove forests,
and the country has just announced an
indefinite moratorium on oil exploration
in its waters.
Land values and property prices here
are far lower than in neighbouring Mexico.
The average price of a one-bedroom
beachfront condo with sea views is about
US$200,000 (�8,000), while for those
with deeper pockets, a private island can
be had for $9m.
Most investors head for Ambergris
Caye, a 25-mile-long island off the
northern coast, near the Mexican border.
Two-thirds of purchasers are from the
US (compared to 11% from Europe,
including the UK), according to Robert
Cooper, managing director of the
Caribbean specialist 7th Heaven
Properties. He says the fact that Belize
is the only officially English-speaking
country in Central America ? it was a
British colony for 120 years, and is a
member of the Commonwealth ? adds to
its appeal for buyers from these shores.
Cooper reports rising British interest in
Belize as a second-home and retirement
destination. There are no restrictions on
overseas property investors, though a
transfer tax of 5% is payable. Admittedly,
its appeal isn?t bolstered by the arduous
journey from the UK, which takes 32
hours or so ? although several airlines
will take you from Heathrow to Miami for
an overnight stop, then on to Ladyville
airport, near Belize City, the next day.
For now, that is the only international
airport in the country, but work on a
second one at Ambergris Caye, just north
of the town of San Pedro, is expected to
begin next year. The hope is that it will
stimulate investment.
San Pedro and its environs are already
popular with international buyers,
although properties there are not cheap.
Debbie Wade, a broker at Sancas Realty,
says you can expect to pay upwards of $1m
for a two- to four-bedroom oceanfront
house on the caye; a typical beachfront
condo with two bedrooms will set you
back about $500,000.
Further south, on the mainland, the
16-mile-long Placencia peninsula ? home
to the Coppolas? Turtle Inn ? is beginning
to challenge Ambergris Caye and gain a
reputation for laid-back luxury and hip
hotels. Prices here are about 40% lower:
two-bedroom cabin-style homes start at
about $250,000.
But for real barefoot Belize, if you?re
intrepid enough, take a water taxi from
Belize City to Caye Caulker, with its motto
?no shirt, no shoes, no problem?. You can
buy a three-bedroom doer-upper there for
about $125,000.
ORCHID BAY
$189,500
This is a gated
community in
northern Belize, an
80-minute drive
from the town of
Corozal and not far
from the Mexican
border. Buy an
airy two-bedroom
casita here and
you can use the
beach club.
00 501 226 4309,
belize-sothebys
realty.com
PLACENCIA
TIMES+
One lucky
subscriber will win
a holiday for two in
Thailand, enjoying
beautiful scenery,
excellent food
and a tuk-tuk tour
around Ko Yao
Noi. Enter at
mytimesplus.co.uk
With 1,200 sq ft of
interior-designed
living space ?
think wooden
furniture and
bright textiles ?
this two-bedroom
cottage on the
lagoon is part of
a development
near the hip
Itz?ana resort.
020 8960 1010,
7thheaven
properties.com
$470,000
New Homes
South East Property
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 17
BARK WITH
From left, a
red-barked
strawberry tree;
Prunus serrula;
and the ethereal
Betula utilis var
jacquemontii
?Grayswood
Ghost?. Bottom,
Cornus alba
?Elegantissima?
BITE
Coloured trunks and stems brighten up your
plot in the bleak midwinter, says Anna Pavord
L
ike film extras given
an unexpected
close-up, or a
forgotten celebrity
cameo, dogwoods
and willows come into the
limelight in a winter garden.
Fluffy leafage is shed, flowers
are almost non-existent, and
what we are left with is stems
and bark. The colours they
provide light up the scene with
eye-catching shafts of red,
orange and cinnamon.
For the brightest colours,
you?ll have to coppice (cut
down) the clumps on a regular
basis to produce strong,
vigorous new shoots. Early
spring is the best time for this
job. It is best to take out a
proportion of stems each year
? say a third. You?ll avoid a big
gap, but still give the shrub
enough of a jolt to produce the
bright new shoots that shine
out so well in winter.
DOGWOODS
My favourite is Cornus alba
?Elegantissima?. Its red stems
may not be as brilliant as
those of ?Sibirica?, but it has
variegated foliage, useful for
picking in the summer
months. If you cut down the
stems in rotation, the older
growths will produce flat white
flowerheads, another bonus.
The aptly named C
sanguinea ?Midwinter Fire? is
one of the most widely planted
varieties, with stems that
blaze up from soft yellow to
red at the tips. In mass
plantings, it gives a stupendous
effect, but, although showy,
it doesn?t always have the
oomph of varieties such as
acid-green ?Flaviramea? or
black-purple ?Kesselringii?.
WILLOWS
Willows grow with great
energy and vigour, and you
will probably need to cut out
more growth each year than
you do with dogwoods. But
cut you must, because the
best colour comes on the new
growth. The stem colours ?
warm oranges and yellows ?
are similar to the winter effects
dogwoods provide.
Salix alba var vitellina
?Yelverton? burns from yellow
to warm orange at the tips of
the new growth. S alba var
vitellina ?Britzensis? produces
bright orange-red shoots,
well contrasted in the winter
walk at Anglesey Abbey,
Cambridgeshire, with a carpet
of low-growing, purple-leaved
Mahonia aquifolium ?Apollo?.
Salix irrorata has mauve
stems with a whitish bloom,
wonderfully ghostly in the
dusk of a misty, moisty
winter?s afternoon.
As they age, willow clumps
take up a lot of room, and in a
small garden it may be wiser
to pollard a willow than to
coppice it. This way, you can
use the space round the tree
for other plants. To make a
pollard, let the trunk of your
chosen willow grow to 3ft-6ft
before cutting off its head.
The height depends on
where you want the action.
Shoots will sprout from the top
of the trunk and, each year,
you take out all (or most) of the
shoots to encourage more to
sprout the following season.
BEST OF THE REST
The so-called snake-bark
maples ? such as Acer davidii,
with its intricately patterned
trunk in purplish green and
white, or the similar A grosseri
? need no hard pruning to
achieve their effects. Here,
you are not trying to kick the
tree into producing fresh
shoots. The beauty is in the
main trunk. So it is with the
paperbark maple, the gorgeous
A griseum, from China, with
bark that peels away from the
trunk in rich orange-brown
flakes. If you can, plant this
so the sun shines through it
from behind, highlighting the
translucent effect.
More robust maples such
as box elder (Acer negundo),
from North America, can be
pollarded in the same way as
a willow to produce new
shoots: first green, then, as the
season progresses, a searing
acid yellow, particularly
luminous on a dull day. Try the
?Winter Lightning? variety, one
of the best of this group,
interplanted, perhaps, with
A negundo var violaceum.
This has extraordinary mauve
stems, overlaid with a soft
whitish bloom.
Arbutus � andrachnoides
has, I think, the best bark of
the three most commonly
grown strawberry trees, but
it does not fruit as well as its
parent, A unedo. The most
memorable specimens I have
seen have been in Ireland:
big trees with trunks and
branches clothed in the same
mesmerisingly rich cinnamon.
Betula utilis var jacquemontii
?Grayswood Ghost? is the
whitest of the white-barked
birches, especially if you get
out the scrubbing brush (or
a pressure hose) to clean off
the trunk each year. But there
are other colours, such as B
albosinensis ?Chinese Garden?,
with bark that peels to reveal
a delicately marked trunk of
pale mahogany red.
Prunus serrula does its
cherry thing in spring, with a
crop of white blossom, but
longer-lasting pleasure comes
from the trunk, which is a
glossy mahogany brown,
streaked horizontally with
paler bands of beige.
Rubus cockburnianus
?Goldenvale? is one of the
more manageable forms of
the white-stemmed brambles,
with the advantage of yellow
leaves. But these shrubs are
only for gardeners with plenty
of space to fill and a tough
pair of gloves. The prickly
shoots arch over and root at
the tips, so a single plant
quickly becomes a thicket.
FOR INSPIRATION
Winter Gardens: Reinventing
the Season by Cedric Pollet
(Frances Lincoln �) and
The Garden in Winter by
Rosemary Verey (out of print,
try abebooks.co.uk)
GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/JOHN GLOVER/ALAMY
Home Gardening
18 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
The writer and comedian on
hoarding books, her spice
cupboard and hiding in the bath
ALICIA CANTER/EYEVINE; ALEX LAKE/THE GUARDIAN; FOTO VOYAGER/GETTY IMAGES; ALAMY
TIME AND
SPACE
MEERA
SYAL
Syal with her mother, Surrinder,
and, left, with her wall of suns
MUM?S THE
WORD
T
o me, home means sanctuary.
It?s the place where you walk
through the door, all the
weight goes from your
shoulders and you?re with the
people who love you no matter what. My
husband [the comedian and actor Sanjeev
Bhaskar] used a phrase once when we
were, as you do as a family, going through
a tough time ? ?This is as far as you fall.?
I thought that was such a lovely thing to
say. Whatever else happens, in your home
you are loved and supported.
Syal?s kitchen is
packed with
Indian staples
Which room in your home do you
gravitate towards?
The kitchen is definitely where it?s at.
It?s an Indian kitchen ? like my mother,
I have one cupboard dedicated to the
spices. There?s the family-sized pack
of basmati rice, giant tins of tomatoes
and the huge drawer of Tupperware
for the leftovers. My parents live
with us, so there are five people
and three generations in our house
[Syal, her parents, Bhaskar and their
son, Shaan]. There are various
different food requirements.
The only place I can get away from
everybody is the bathroom. The bath
is where I think and read and chill.
Are there any house rules?
I?m a bit too relaxed. I?m trying to
get my son to learn to make his bed and
One of many
put his clothes in the laundry. He?s just
books she can?t
turned 12 and that?s the least he should
bear to part with
do. He does have
hav to lay and clear the
table, though. Enforcing
house rules is difficult
because my husband and
I have such an irregular
lifestyle. We can either be
flat out working or
She grew up in a
kicking our heels.
Midlands village
had these really heavy quilts that my
parents would bring back from India.
Every child I knew had that experience
of customs officers saying ?What the
hell is this?? as they unpacked several
huge quilts.
Do you collect anything else?
Yes, suns. They?re all on one wall
downstairs, where everyone has to look
at them. It started with one huge one I
brought back from Mexico, and now
pretty much every place I go, I try to find
a sun. I?ve got them from India, America,
Norfolk, Italy, Greece, France. They
make me happy.
??
The biggest wrench was
leaving the village where
I grew up. Whenever I
dream of being in a home
it?s that home. My world
was so small there. It was
my kingdom
How many books do you own?
We must have at least 1,000. I couldn?t
bear to throw any away. Everything from
the 1975 Jackie annual to Victoria Wood?s
sketches, A Feast of French & Saunders,
The Duchess of Malfi and the complete
works of Shakespeare. I remember the
feeling, as a kid, of being desperate to read
a book and going to the library, only to
find the one I wanted was out, then having
to wait a week, two, three. I hated it. Now
I can afford books, I buy them.
What are your memories of your
childhood home?
Did we have a light-up statue of the Taj
Mahal? I think we probably did. We also
Syal fantasises
about running
away to Canada,
but loves the
cosmopolitan
buzz of London
What would you save in a fire?
We have one album of all the old photos
from my parents and grandparents ? their
lives in India and when they first came
here ? and they are irreplaceable. There
is one picture of my mum and dad?s
wedding, one taken on the day my dad
left for England, one of my grandparents.
There?s even one of my mother running
across the finishing line ? she was the
Delhi college champion athlete and she
ran in full salwar kameez.
Have you ever cried when moving
house?
I have moved quite a lot. The biggest
wrench was leaving the village in which
I grew up and spent my formative years.
At 13, I moved from Essington, a rural,
slightly isolated community in the West
Midlands, to the giddy heights of
Bloxwich. I cried. I knew it was the end
of an era and I think about it all the time.
Whenever I dream of being in a home, it?s
that home. My world was so small there.
It was my kingdom and I got to know it so
well ? every tree, every blackberry bush,
every blade of grass.
Where in the world would you live,
if not in Highgate?
Occasionally, when I see the state of the
world, I think, let?s all go to Canada. Yet
for all its faults, and for all we?re going
though as a country right now, I still think
London is an extraordinary city. I feel so
grateful for the fact that it is home to so
many different communities and cultures.
I can?t imagine having that sort of
cornucopia in any other city.
Interview by Alexandra Goss
THE
HIGH LIFE
Meera Syal is one of more than 30
celebrities sitting for portraits for Sky
Arts? Portrait Artist of the Year, which
returns for a fourth series on Tuesday
at 8pm. Syal is also starring as Miss
Hannigan in Annie at the Piccadilly
Theatre, London W1, until February 18;
anniewestend.com
?? of the
Golden Globes can rent
the two-bedroom flat in
Bayswater, central London,
that has been a crash pad
for a host of stellar tenants.
Celebs who?ve stayed at
the �950-a-week property
(not together) include the
Hollywood stars Kirsten
Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal,
and the director Jane
Campion. Gwyneth Paltrow,
who announced last
week that she was giving
?the soul-stretching,
pattern-breaking
opportunities? of intimacy
another shot by marrying
the television producer
Brad Falchuk, has also
spent the night there
(knightfrank.co.uk).
Or splash out on a
Med-style villa in West
Hollywood, owned by
the Oscar-winning
actress Halle Berry for
more than a decade.
Berry, 51, sold the
three-bedroom home
for $4.15m in January
2006, significantly more
than the current price
tag of $3.795m (�8m;
christiesrealestate.com).
Alexandra Goss
6 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
SHOULD YOU
STAY
GAVIN SMITH
Home Cover
OR SHOULD YOU
GO?
London v the shires: with a record number
of people selling up, Martina Lees assesses
the pros and cons of city buzz and country life
A
re you planning
to move house
this year? Record
numbers of
Londoners are
leaving the confines of the
M25 as price growth slows
and owners cash in on their
bricks-and-mortar gains.
The move of the upwardly
mobile urbanite to the shires ?
whether from London or other
British cities ? is more fiercely
debated, and fastidiously
plotted, than any cabinet
reshuffle. The frustrations,
financial outlay and stress of
househunting mean the
pressure to get it right can be
overwhelming.
Yes, you want a bigger
house, a dog and space for
your children to run wild, but
what can you afford? Town,
village or suburbs? Surrey or
Hampshire, Winchester or
Colchester? A two-bedroom
cottage near Dorking, Surrey,
for �5,000, or five bedrooms
and 4� acres in Hertfordshire
for �5m? And that?s before
factoring in commuting costs.
Yet the dream of escaping
the fug of the South Circular is
a popular one. Annual net
migration out of London has
more than doubled in five years
to 93,000 ? a post-recession
peak, according to the Office for
National Statistics. The exodus
is made up not only of those
who can?t afford to climb the
ladder, now the average home
in the capital costs 14� times
average earnings, but also,
increasingly, of owners selling
up in wealthy postcodes.
In the past year, 42% of
these ?prime? vendors (or
about 2,000 households)
bought outside London ? up
from 33% in 2013, according to
a new report by the data
analyst LonRes and Hamptons
International estate agency.
It found that the gap between
prices in the capital and
elsewhere peaked in 2014;
and, as it has begun to narrow,
London sellers have taken the
opportunity to cash in on
previous gains. This year, with
weaker expectations for price
growth, the report predicts
more will move away.
The greatest proportion of
prime leavers (48%) move to
the southeast, followed by the
east of England (23%). About
20% head more than 50 miles
away, up from 11% in 2010;
and a third spend more on
their next property.
Before joining them, though,
you need to work out whether
THE HIGHEST
NUMBER
OF PRIME
LONDON
LEAVERS
(42%) GO TO THE
SOUTH
EAST
you?re ready to move at all.
Many people claim taking the
leap out of London was the best
thing they ever did. Sarah and
Angus Henderson, both 40,
sold a terrace in Wandsworth,
southwest London, to build a
house on Angus?s parents?
farm near the Surrey/Kent
border. Their children, Jago, 9,
Hamish, 8, and India, 5,
?needed space and freedom?,
says Sarah, who markets an
online art gallery, Lumitrix.
com. Two years on, they are
still renting, but the children
have nevertheless ?thrived?.
Yet for some, the grass
turned out to be less green
than they had hoped. Emily
and Euan Murray weren?t
ready when, as sleep-deprived
young parents seven years
ago, they moved up to
Edinburgh for help from all the
grandparents. ?Then the baby
fog lifted and all the reasons
why we lived in London
before were still there,? says
Emily, 39, an interiors blogger
(pinkhouse.co.uk). ?We
missed the multicultural
element ? the mix, the
excitement, the opportunity.?
Now they?re back with
their sons Oscar, 8, and Zac, 5.
In July, the Murrays bought a
five-bedroom Edwardian semi
in Forest Hill, southeast
London, forking out about
�0,000 more than they
had sold a similar house in
Edinburgh for. This has boosted
Euan, 40, in his career heading
a sustainability non-profit.
They aren?t the only family
to boomerang back to London,
so here are the 13 questions to
ask before making your move.
1
Are you just bored?
The first question that the
buying agent James
Greenwood asks new clients
at Stacks Property Search is
not ?How many bedrooms??,
but ?Why are you moving??.
His advice: if you can?t come
up with a good reason, don?t.
Moving won?t end any
restlessness caused by your
job or relationship. ?Like Four
Weddings and a Funeral said,
people get married when ?they
run out of conversation?,? says
Belinda Aspinall, founder of
LifeafterLondon.com, which
compiles personal research
reports to help Londoners
decide whether, and where,
to move (from �0). ?Don?t
move because you are bored.?
2
Have you visualised the
new normal?
Aspinall, 43, started
LifeafterLondon.com five years
ago after pulling out of a deal to
trade Wandsworth, southwest
London, for Wiltshire ?at
horrible expense?. Two days
before they were due to
exchange, her family visited
their would-be home. ?The
trees were not in leaf. The
traffic noise was a bit louder.
It made us realise, what does
normal look like when friends
from London stop coming??
Big houses have higher
running costs and take more
work, warns Mary Till, 43, a
graphic designer who works
from the Wiltshire manor she
shares with her husband and
their three under-10s. It has
three times as much space as
the London home they left
three years ago, but with 10
acres and 86 trees, it?s ?like
managing a smallholding?.
Country properties also
often have issues that rarely
crop up in London: are they
listed? Will they flood? Is it
easy to get home insurance?
Do they have oil-fired heating?
What?s the broadband speed?
Is there a phone signal?
3
Are you blinded by the
house?
In the Noughties, Claire
Zambuni sold a mortgage-free
flat in Tufnell Park, north
London, to buy a 30-acre
country house in Berkshire
with her young son and
then boyfriend. The PR
executive, now 48, gave up
her job to manage the project.
That meant ?losing my
identity a bit?, she admits.
?I was naive to think I could
change my life so drastically
so quickly.
?My relationship wasn?t
stable enough to cope with it,
and the whole thing was
financially crippling.?
Zambuni, who now runs a PR
firm, zambuni.com, advises
renting first.
Other buyers are ?beaten
into submission? by the
sheer hell of househunting,
says Henry Sherwood,
managing director of the
Buying Agents ? exacerbated
in the current market by a
record shortage of homes
coming up for sale. For some,
when they finally find a home
that is not yet sold, and they?re
not outbid, ?practicalities go
out of the window?.
ESSEX
�5,000
Down a tree-lined
drive in Bicknacre,
eight miles from
Chelmsford, this
house has four
receptions and four
double bedrooms.
Strip away the
swirly carpets and
the beauty of its
Edwardian bones
will shine.
01245 807265,
beresfords.co.uk
�5,000
No place like
home Emily and
Euan Murray
moved back to
London from
Edinburgh with
their children,
Oscar and Zac
lawn, what next? Moving is
harder for teens, who face key
exams and can struggle to
adjust after leaving meaningful
friendships. Ask your children
how they feel ? and ask
yourself how you?d feel about
becoming a glorified taxi
service when they want to go
shopping or to a party.
ALEX LAKE
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 7
7
TIMES
DIGITAL
What?s the worst
move you?ve ever
made? Join the
conversation
@TheSTHome
or email property@
sunday-times.co.uk
4
Will it work for the
next decade?
A short-term focus is the
biggest mistake Sherwood sees.
?Assume you?re buying for a
minimum of 10 years,? he
advises. For couples, this may
mean some uncomfortable
questions: ?Will it be a family
home? How many children
are you planning? Will your
parents visit for long periods??
You should also consider the
opportunities for career
progression, and if secondary
schools are more important
than a village primary that
Ofsted deems outstanding.
In 2015, while expecting
their second child, Jo and
Tim Philips left their rented
London home for Bristol,
where they?d both studied.
They thought the return would
be simple: they already owned
a five-bedroom house there.
?It was a very different pace
of life with children than as
university students,? says Jo,
38, a business consultant.
For Tim, 40, a management
consultant, ?the pay grades
DO YOU
REALLY WANT
TO BECOME A
GLORIFIED
TAXI
SERVICE
FOR YOUR
KIDS?
weren?t really available in
Bristol?, she adds. He
commuted weekly to London
? ?horrific? ? until the couple
relocated to Surrey.
5
Can you cope with the
commute?
If you plan to head back
into the city every day for
work, choose a train line with
a maximum of one change to
reach the office, and look at
how busy that station is ? will
you have to stand for an hour
on a packed train?
Allow extra time to get to
the station, too, Aspinall says:
?On the map, country lanes
might seem better, but is that
the time when the cows are on
the move? Also, don?t assume
you?ll be able to park ? and it?s
rarely free.?
Look at the economics, too.
Yes, you may be able to get a
more affordable house outside
London, but are your savings
being eroded by thousands of
pounds of extra commuting
costs each year? How likely is
strike action to affect the line,
and do the trains have wi-fi?
6
Will it work for the kids?
Do they really want to go
geocaching, or would they
prefer the Science Museum?
What facilities are available if
they have a particular interest
or talent? And, once they?ve
outgrown a playroom and the
How long is the school
run?
Education is one of the
main drivers for many families
moving out of London, so
wherever you?re considering
moving to, check that it has
what you want: Britain?s top
2,000 schools are ranked at
thesundaytimes.co.uk/
parentpower. ?Don?t just look
at primary schools,? says
Rupert Reeves, partner in
Carter Jonas estate agency?s
office in Newbury, West
Berkshire. ?You need to check
it has the secondary options
you think you will want, too ?
whether state, private or
grammar. It?s better to have a
lot of choice, so you can find
something that best suits your
child when the time comes.?
Remember, though, that a
25-minute drive to school
means nearly an hour?s round
trip twice a day, or more often
if your children are of different
ages ? and that?s not factoring
in any after-school or weekend
clubs. Trying the run
beforehand is the only way to
check whether snarl-ups will
double that commute.
?Winters are tough,? Sarah
Henderson says. ?The
darkness, the mud... Our
rural spot is easily ?7C when
scraping the ice off the car for
the school run. But I can park
the car outside my own house
and I don?t have to lock it.?
Note, too, that wraparound
childcare is less common
outside London, as fewer
nurseries stay open until 7pm.
8
Do you need to support
elderly family?
How often would you visit
your parents ? and who can
help out if you?re far away?
Greenwood recently advised
retired clients to trade
Buckinghamshire for
Monmouthshire, rather than
North Wales. That would cut
the journey time to elderly
parents in the southeast from
five hours to three.
9
Where is your real
network?
Jo Philips missed her
Wandsworth parenting
?
SURREY
GLOUCESTERSHIRE
On the village
green in Brockham,
this two-bedroom
cottage would suit
downsizers from
London: it?s an hour
to the capital from
Dorking station,
three miles away.
There?s a studio in
the lush garden.
01306 887560,
jackson-stops.
co.uk
Grade II listed
Lower Chalkley
Farm is set in 1.6
acres, with
Cotswold views,
yet is just six miles
from the Waitrose
in Chipping
Sodbury. The 17thcentury house has
five bedrooms.
01285 627681,
struttandparker.
com
�2M
MY BEST
MOVE EVER
Longtime Londoner India Knight on why starry
Suffolk skies beat the Night Tube hands down
L
eaving London has
been one of the best
things I?ve ever done.
I haven?t regretted it
for a fraction of a
second, even when people
said things like, ?Just wait
until it?s January and raining
horizontally,? or, ghastlily,
?But what about the theatre??
The horizontal rain is one
of my favourite things, as it
happens, because it so
accentuates the especial
bliss of being cosily indoors,
fire blazing away, with
books and dogs and cups
of tea. And cultural life
happens outside the capital,
too ? imagine!
I?ve found living out in the
sticks ? and we are very
remote, even by the remote
standards of my adopted
county, Suffolk ? liberating.
I am going to write a really
prattish-sounding thing now,
and here it comes: my soul
feels free.
It?s as though my universe
has been wildly expanded,
whereas of course, in reality,
leaving a giant metropolis
after 40-odd years should
have made my universe feel
smaller. But it hasn?t. At night
it?s pitch black here, and the
stars are blazingly bright, and
I can?t tell you how wonderful
it is. In May the garden ?
and the hedgerows, and
the fields ? are at their
ravishingly beautiful peak, in
a way that gives me a lump
in my throat and thrills me.
Even now, in bleak January,
we have woodpeckers both
green and spotted. I look up
from my desk and see ducks,
coots, the odd fox and, this
morning, a particularly
industrious weasel. There
are loads of owls at night.
It?s amazing. I am amazed
by it. And the sky! We have
so much sky.
I love the rhythms of life,
so much more natural here
than they were in London. I
love the slowness of things.
But I also love how my local
market town has a brilliant
deli and two fantastic cafes.
I love how good the local
produce is. I love the
independent bookshops.
I love how creative everyone
is ? they all seem to be
making something, whether
it?s jam or paintings, cakes
or handbags.
I also love the new friends
we?ve made. It?s been like
being welcomed into a
shared secret, and I?ve
become rural enough to
go, ?Ha ha ha, how much??
with genuine incredulity in
London shops. The Big
Smoke?s fine, but I love
coming home.
??
Leaving a giant
metropolis after
40-odd years
should have
made my universe
feel smaller.
But it hasn?t
8 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Cover
�5M
MARK BOURDILLON
HERTFORDSHIRE
The childhood
home of EM
Forster, on the
edge of Stevenage,
inspired his novel
Howards End. It?s
set in 4� acres and
has five bedrooms,
yet London King?s
Cross is less than
half an hour away
by train.
01438 313393,
hunters.com
TIMES
DIGITAL
Find out how far
your money will go
by searching for
your electoral ward
or local authority
in our interactive
database
thesundaytimes.
co.uk
? group, but thought moving
to Bristol would mean
reconnecting with university
friends in the city, as well as
family in the Welsh borders. In
reality, the friends had moved
on and her relatives were an
hour away. ?Don?t move away
from your network,? she
warns. Aspinall adds: ?Don?t
host London friends every
weekend. Immerse yourself.?
Finding a town or village
with a welcoming, lively
community is the holy grail
for every London leaver. Ask
friends and colleagues who?ve
made the move whether they
would honestly recommend
where they live. Local
social-media groups can also
be a useful way to take the
temperature from afar. Mary
Till settled in with the help of
the Wiltshire Mums Facebook
group, the all-women shooting
club Femmes Fatales and a
village cream tea hosted by
their vendor.
10
Can you give up
convenience?
Closing times are earlier
in Till?s pocket of countryside,
across the Wiltshire border
from Hungerford, and you?ll
pay more for cleaners (� an
hour, instead of � in London)
and babysitters (�, not �.
Taxis are also more expensive,
and need to be booked two
weeks before a night out.
Consider, too, how far you
have to go to get a pint of milk
or a loaf of bread. ?You?d think
in the country you?d walk
more, but you walk from the
front door to the car,? Till says.
11
Have you stress-tested
your criteria?
Jo Eccles, managing
director of SP Property Group,
says that, as a buying agent,
she has helped clients realise
the difference between a
dream lifestyle and how they
actually end up living.
KENT
�5,000
Downsizers looking
for country with a
dollop of London
could try Swifts
Cottage, in Seal.
The two-bedroom
home is three miles
from Sevenoaks
station (36min to
Charing Cross).
01732 741212,
humberts.com
ESSEX
The four-bedroom
Moat House is part
of Hempstead
Hall, 10 miles from
Saffron Walden. It
has a doubleheight dining
room, 700 sq ft
drawing room and
3.3 acres of land.
01223 403330,
carterjonas.co.uk
�1M
12
SURREY
�35M
Nine miles from
Godalming?s
Waitrose and station
(50min to London
Waterloo), this
sprawling Victorian
house has six
bedrooms, a double
garage and a pool.
01483 407620,
thegrantleygroup.
co.uk
BATH
The Georgian
architect John
Pinch designed this
grade II listed semi,
a short walk from
Bath Spa station.
The four-bedroom
house has a
two-bedroom flat
in the basement.
01225 325999,
knightfrank.co.uk
Suddenly, a separate dining
room and a playroom are less
important than a nice kitchen
and a big utility room. ?How
often do you actually see your
family? How often will you
really go into the garden, not
out to a pub or play park??
When one client, in his
sixties, wanted to buy a
future-proof home, Eccles
advised him to extend his
cottage in Chiswick, west
London, so he could live on
the ground floor. In another
case, an Islington couple
with two children wanted
?basically their flat, but
bigger?. They bought the flat
next door. ?Sometimes you
should just re-evaluate where
you are.? (See panel, right.)
�685M
Can you afford the
moving costs?
If you sell for � in
London and buy more space in
the country for the same price,
you?ll pay �,750 in stamp
duty, �,000 to the estate
agent and more than �000
in mortgage and legal fees,
surveys and removals ? a total
of almost �,000.
That could comfortably pay
for an extension, which starts
at �,000-�,000 (three
metres on the rear of a typical
Victorian terrace) or a loft
conversion (�,000-�,000).
13
Will you miss London,
or the idea of it?
Identify what you will
miss. Can you replace that in
your new location? When Niki
and Kenton Jones and their
two young children swapped
Tooting Bec, south London,
for Tunbridge Wells in 2013,
they found ?a thriving creative
industry? in the Kent spa
town, where she works as an
advertising executive. ?Within
five minutes you?re in the
countryside, but you?ve also
got all the culture,? says Niki,
43. ?We?ve never looked back.?
CHANGING
ROOMS
If you love your home?s location, but not the
layout, follow Greg Toon?s advice for a fresh look
H
omeowners can be
notoriously bad at
envisaging changes
to their property.
When it comes to
moving, you will likely be on
the lookout for ?potential?,
but what about your own
home? Fresh eyes ? even
unqualified ones ? provide a
different perspective. If you
can handle the critique, ask
friends for their honest
opinion on your home and
what they would change.
With a bit of lateral thinking,
you might find that you no
longer want to move.
l If you are moving for more
space, first make sure you
have extracted every inch
from your existing house.
Consider loft conversions,
altering the roofline to
increase the volume (not
on semis or terraces) and
maybe even a basement.
l If your home is fully
extended, consider bespoke
joinery to create flexible
spaces that adapt to changes
of circumstances, such as
having a baby or working
from home. With the right
furniture and storage, a play
area in the kitchen/diner can
easily be turned into a sitting
area or used to extend the
dining area for parties.
l If you are moving because
you desire something
grander, think whether you
can improve your key spaces.
Expand the master bedroom
into that underused spare
room, install a luxurious
ensuite and look at vaulting
the ceiling (with roof lights)
to give an airier feel.
Extend to make the rear
rooms large enough for an
aspirational family kitchen
and keep the front as snug
winter living rooms. Use
lots of glass at the back to
maximise views and bring
light into the deeper spaces.
l If downsizing, demolish
that dated conservatory and
put in large sliding doors to
turn one of the rear rooms
into a garden room: with the
right orientation, it will have
some of the benefits of a
conservatory without all
the drawbacks. Knock
bedrooms together or
convert one into an upstairs
living room, giving you a
different perspective or more
light in the morning.
If you can address both
the practical and emotional
sides of the property, you will
have a high chance of falling
back in love with your home
? and you may not need to
move after all.
Greg Toon is the founder of
Potential etc?, which specialises
in making the most of unloved
spaces; potentialetc.com
??
If you can handle
the critique, ask
friends for an
honest opinion
on your home,
and what they
would change
10 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home
S
ophie and Bob Sheard are born
storytellers. They settle in front
of the cavernous fireplace of their
Tudor sitting room, and Bob
begins the dramatic tale of the
rescue of the Manor House, in South
Littleton, Worcestershire, with the words:
?There are some houses that are so
wrecked and so big, no one takes them on.?
What unfolds is a property thriller
featuring four-poster-bed picnics,
100-bucket floods and catastrophic
squirrel trouble. The couple?s skill at
weaving a compelling narrative is the basis
of their business, FreshBritain, which
helps clients from Team Sky and Volvo to
Bear Grylls and Al Gore?s sustainable
equity fund to form a ?brand vision?. As
they recount the triumphs and disasters,
their passion for their grade II* listed
home is unmistakable. Though I imagine
sometimes the only thought that kept them
going during its 14-year restoration was
that one day this would make a great yarn.
Bob is not exaggerating the building?s
size. The Elizabethan manor, with a
smart William and Mary facade added by
Francis Taylor, the agent to the Earl of
Coventry, is, technically speaking,
humongous. After a quick count, we agree
on five bathrooms and a dozen bedrooms.
But it also has a couple of wig rooms,
a priest-hole, a panelled dining hall, a
minstrels? gallery with two swings, and
a cupola with a 360-degree view of the
Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham. In the
first six months of occupancy, they
discovered two extra rooms.
The house?s size deterred many buyers,
but its utter dereliction was the main push
factor: when the couple arrived, trees
were growing out of the roof. Sophie says:
?My mum reassured me it would be fine.
I think everyone else we knew thought we
were crazy.?
Today the manor house is a cosy,
colourful family home to Sophie and Bob,
both 46, and teenagers Henry, 18, and
Daisy, 16. It was the arrival of the kids that
had made the Sheards consider a move
from north London. They had grown up
in rural surroundings: Sophie was born in
Warwickshire and spent her childhood on
her parents? farm, with summer holidays
seeing relatives in Wales; Bob grew up in a
village in West Yorkshire.
They came to the capital to study, met
at the London College of Fashion in 1989
and stayed in the city to found their
business. But they wanted their offspring
to benefit from a country childhood.
Bob recalls: ?I once read in the Camden
New Journal about a gruesome murder,
on page 6. The same week in the Evesham
Journal, the cover story was ?Library gets
new shelves.??
The flight from Primrose Hill began
in June 2002, when Daisy was one and
Bob and Sophie Sheard bought the
manor near Evesham for �5,000
in 2003
Henry was three, and they decamped to
Italy and France for a year. ?We rented a
beautiful villa looking over Florence, then
spent six months in Avoriaz, in the French
Alps. Then we came back and started
looking at properties in the country to
restore.? They acquired the manor house,
which was on English Heritage?s Buildings
at Risk register, for �5,000 in September
2003, after a two-stage sealed bid process,
and moved in that November.
Sophie, whose family are seasoned
renovators, took on the role of project
manager. ?My father and two brothers
own a hotel in Shropshire and used to
own a brewery in Buckinghamshire, both
historic country properties. I spent my
childhood living in wrecks and going
round reclamation centres, so I thought,
?I can do it? ? but I must admit, the first
days I got the keys, I sat on the stairs and
cried as the water poured down the main
staircase like a river.? Bob says: ?At one
point, we owned more than 100 buckets.?
The roof was the most urgent task, but
in 2003 they began by reconstructing the
wall and the walled gardens. Permission
for the works had to be gained from
English Heritage and the Wychavon
conservation officer, and the process was
so protracted that the roof could not be
replaced until 2006. In the meantime,
Sophie remembers: ?There was no heating
or hot water, the electrics were unsafe
and window panes were broken or
boarded up. When we first moved in, we
all slept in the dining hall because it had
windows that weren?t broken, so we had
four camp beds and slept in our skiwear
to keep warm. Daisy was two and Henry
was four at the time.?
Comfort levels were challenging.
Budget was positively hair-raising. To give
a snapshot of the sums involved, Bob
says: ?The roof we paid for by selling our
three-bedroom maisonette in London.
We became very good at 36-times
multiplication: � for each light switch,
times three per room, times 36 rooms,
means a conversation about light switches
is a �600 conversation. Restored
cast-iron radiators at �0 each became
a �,000 conversation, and the
restoration of restored oak window
frames and handmade glass leaded lights
to put in the frames was much the same.?
Sophie?s ingenuity became invaluable.
?Everything was going on the roof, and we
didn?t have much cash for the interiors. It
made it more interesting, and made me go
out and search for things I really liked and
could afford.? Dismayed by the price of
drapes, she cut down the curtains from
their previous property in Primrose Hill
BEAMING W
After 14 years of floods, fires and sleeping in skiwear, one
GET THE LOOK
l A favourite source for vintage and
new Welsh blankets and cushions is
Jane Beck. New multicheck throws
woven at Melin Tregwynt cost �9.
welshblankets.co.uk
l Traditional cast-iron I 18 stoves
from the Norwegian manufacturer
Jotul heat the larger rooms.
From �899; jotul.com
l Blue and white Cornishware fills pine
shelves and dressers in the kitchen.
Classic hooped ceramics by TG Green
include mugs, jugs, plates and jars.
From � cornishware.co.uk
l Sally Rowles?s earthenware platters
are thrown and painted by hand,
with coloured slips, in her garden
workshop in Wales. Prices start at �
for a 25cm plate.
magicgardenceramics.co.uk
l The turquoise wallpaper printed
with gold bumblebees in the master
bedroom is based on a silk fabric found
in Josephine Bonaparte?s bedroom.
� a roll; farrow-ball.com
l The kitchen units are in reclaimed
oak from Cox?s Architectural, a salvage
company in Moreton-in-Marsh, as are
the kitchen sink and the bathroom
fittings. Belfast sinks start at �0.
coxsarchitectural.co.uk
WITH
W
PRIDE
epic renovation has paid off, says Katrina Burroughs
ADRIAN SHERRATT
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 11
for the windows, and drove the length of
the country, from Scotland to Somerset,
to find affordable furniture, including her
?pride and joy? ? a salvaged copper tub
from Frome Reclamation.
In their day job, the Sheards dig down
to the core identities of the companies
they help, then refresh them for the
future. Bob says: ?The problem with
brands is that every three to four years
they have successive owners. It?s a bit like
a Georgian townhouse, where someone
comes in and knocks through the kitchen,
the next person puts in a spa bath, and the
house loses its architectural integrity. The
job of us as brand guys is to bring it back
to the authenticity and project it into the
future. That?s a good metaphor for what
we?ve done here.?
Materials were carefully researched
and sourced: the couple used lime plaster
and limewash paint on the walls, and
handmade glass from Poland for the
window panes. They salvaged and reused
all they could from the original structure.
Every oak window and door frame had to
come out, so, wherever possible, the
timber from each was saved and spliced
into the replacement carpentry. This
diligent approach was recognised when
they won an award for the restoration: a
certificate of merit, awarded by the Vale
of Evesham Civic Society in 2007.
From the beginning, the project was
marked by incidents tragic and comic.
Bob remembers a red-letter day in
December 2006: ?We fired up the Baby
Belling in the only habitable bedroom,
and all four of us had hot steak
sandwiches and got into the four-poster
to watch Leona Lewis win The X Factor.?
Sophie recalls what is now a cherished
part of family folklore. ?We had one of the
freestanding 1920s baths original to the
house restored and installed to create our
first proper bathroom. Bob ran himself a
hot bath and got in it. The feet
immediately fell off the tub and all the
water ended up in the corridor below.?
On September 29, 2010, works were
complete and the family gave a dinner
party to thank the people who had
supported them during seven gruelling
years. Sophie says: ?Everything was set in
the dining hall, fire lit, candles lit, table
laid, Bob had the food under control and
I was changing upstairs, expecting the
guests to arrive shortly. I heard Bob start
shouting downstairs, screaming at me to
call the fire brigade. I followed him into
the dining hall and could see small flames
licking out from the ceiling above.?
The roof and all the timbers of the
Elizabethan section of the house were
lost. Forensic investigators from the
insurance company arrived next morning
to find the fire had been caused by
squirrels nesting under the roof tiles and
chewing lighting cables.
The project is complete now, bar the
hanging of a few pictures. The squirrels
and the buckets are long gone; the
replacement electric cables are covered
in armoured sheaths. The family have
surrounded themselves with beloved
objects: woven Welsh blankets and
distinctive Welsh ceramics collected by
Sophie?s mother, antique maps of
Yorkshire and Bob?s own oil paintings of
the children. The kids themselves, far
from being traumatised by their early
experiences of skiwear for PJs, adore the
building. Henry did his A-level revision
in a study room, surrounded by his
vintage typewriters and vinyl; Daisy has
a light-filled art studio. Sophie says:
?Sometimes we say to them, ?Maybe we
should downsize?? They won?t hear of it.?
So the ending is a happy one, though
the epic has left a lasting mark on Bob:
?I can no longer watch a lot of Channel 4.
As soon as a house programme comes on,
I leave the room.?
TOP
KITCHEN
GADGETS
Reusable Eau
Good water
bottles have
a binchotan
charcoal filter.
�; black-blum.com
Bye-bye,
bottled water.
Blue Home,
from Grohe,
offers filtered,
chilled, still,
sparkling and
semi on tap.
From �039;
grohe.co.uk
The Smart
Garden 9, by
Click & Grow,
feeds and
waters your
plants. �;
harrods.com
In stainless
steel, with a
bamboo top,
this tub works
as a sandwich
box or fridge
storage.
�; blackblum.com
Check on and
reward your
pet while you
are out, with
Petcube Bites.
�0;
selfridges.
com
Upload
recipes to the
door of the
Hoover Vision
oven, or use
programmed
videos.
�499;
diy.com
For devotees of
posh tea, the Smeg
KLF04 kettle can be
set for 50C, 60C,
70C, 80C, 90C, 95C
or 100C. �0;
smeguk.com
The Sintesi, by
Falmec, is a
touch-control
induction hob and
extractor fan in one
sleek appliance.
From �143;
falmec.co.uk
Foppapedretti
beech and
aluminium
ironing board,
with a cotton
hammock.
�0;
lakeland.
co.uk
KB
12 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL DRIVER
Home Experts
ts
THE BEST...
CORDLESS VACUUM
CLEANERS
Morphy Richards 734050
98/100; �0;
amazon.co.uk
l Perfect pick-up scores
on all floor types
l Tackles pet hair in one
easy sweep
l Can also be used as a
handheld mini vacuum
l If you leave it in the
docking station, it?s always
charged and ready to use
goodhousekeeping.co.uk/
institute
READERS?
CLINIC
HOW CAN I STOP
SCATTER CUSHIONS
FROM SLIPPING ON
A LEATHER SOFA?
Margaret Parry, via email
Jennifer Steer, via email
Replace the cushion inserts
with feather pads. These
will stay in place better on
the leather?s slippy surface.
Dunelm has a good range
(from � dunelm.com).
Andy Wells, via email
Stitch or stick antislip mat,
the rubbery mesh for
stopping things slipping on
shelves, to the back of the
cushion cover. It helps.
Ian Lambdon, Isle of Wight
Araldite!
l Future question How do
I sterilise jars to make jam?
Send your tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk.
Readers? tips should not be
considered expert advice
I AM DIVORCING MY
HUSBAND. WHAT ARE
MY RIGHTS TO THE
FAMILY HOME?
Q
I am planning
to divorce
my husband.
The family home
is registered in
his name. What
are my rights to
this house, and
how can I prevent my
husband from selling it
without my consent?
RS, Gloucestershire
Dyson V6 Absolute
98/100; �0;
argos.co.uk
l Ticks all the boxes when
retrieving dust and pet hair
from various floor types
l Powerful suction. Picks
up in one sweep with both
the standard head and the
mini motorised tool
l Detachable handheld
piece works well in the car
l Lightweight, attractive
and easy to operate
Gtech AirRam K9 MK2
97/100; �0;
gtech.co.uk
l Excellent choice that
scored almost full marks
l Sucked debris from the
crevices of floorboards
l Tackled crumbs well
l Great suction for pet
hair, but it got tangled in
the brush
l 40-minute run time
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
A
HOME
HELP
Confused by CCTV cameras, condensation or
capital gains tax? Our experts are on hand
Q
After I was burgled, I
installed CCTV cameras
in my driveway and on
the sides of my property. My
neighbours have objected,
as the cameras overlook
their land. What can I do?
L Morris, Kent
A
We all have the right to
protect our homes with
CCTV. The surveillance
camera commissioner
recommends ?responsible?
usage: a grey area when
filming land that isn?t yours,
such as a shared driveway. If
CCTV captures images outside
your property, these are
subject to the Data Protection
Act and don?t fall under the
domestic purposes exemption.
There have been complaints
to the police about domestic
CCTV from neighbours and
pedestrians, who believe
cameras are spying on them.
By law, their right to privacy
may be protected by the
Human Rights Act. So put
stickers on your windows
that state ?CCTV cameras in
use?, in full view. If a break-in
occurs, the footage can then
be used in court. This also
deters burglars.
Invite your neighbours over
and show them some footage.
Say that you are only trying to
prevent a burglary, and that it
should help their security, too.
Assure them you will not be
streaming footage publicly.
Try angling the camera
differently; narrow the view to
appease them. You could also
put filters on the camera: add
black gaffer tape to one corner,
obscuring their property.
Nina McDowall, head of Strutt &
Parker?s Knightsbridge lettings
office; struttandparker.com
Q
I am buying a flat, but it
doesn?t have a window
in the bathroom, which
has an internal wall. Is an
extractor fan alone enough
to stop condensation?
TL, Penge
A
External walls are more
prone to condensation,
but it?s really the amount
of airborne moisture from a
bath or shower that causes
condensation. Open windows
allow warm, wet air to escape
and lessen the risk.
Building regulations
require bathrooms to have
ventilation, such as an
extractor fan, to remove damp
air. Often it?s connected to the
lighting: if the light is on, so is
the fan. Some switch it off to
reduce noise. Don?t do this.
Extractor fans must be kept
clean to work. Check this
with a piece of tissue paper ?
when the fan is on, it should
hold the tissue against itself.
It?s not only showers that
are a concern. Drying clothes
in a bathroom or putting a wet
towel over a heated rail will
require the fan to be running
to allow moisture to escape.
Finally, the fan will be sized
to suit the bathroom only. If
you shower with the bathroom
door open, wet air can spread
to non-ventilated areas, which
may cause condensation there.
Steven Way, principal, Collier
Stevens chartered surveyors;
collier-stevens.co.uk
Q
Four years ago, we
converted an office that
was grade II listed back
into a residence. We have
lived here ever since. We
now want to let it for the
next five years, and do not
expect its price to rise much
If your husband is the
sole legal owner of the
property, and no one
else (other than you) has a
beneficial interest, you have
a continuing right under
the Family Law Act 1996 to
occupy your home. This can
be protected by registering
a home rights notice at the
Land Registry (if the house
is registered).
Consider doing this
immediately. It won?t
prevent your husband from
selling the house, but your
occupation rights, once
registered, will have priority
over any purchaser (until
your divorce, unless the
court orders otherwise).
Reasonable people are
unlikely to buy when they
see the notice on the title.
Even if the property is
registered in your husband?s
sole name, you may still have
a beneficial interest. You can
protect this by registering
a restriction at the Land
during this time. But the
tax rules on capital gains
imply that if we sell, the
financial gain would be
spread over the total period
of ownership. Will we have
to pay tax on half the gain?
Can we protect ourselves?
Philip Brown, via email
A
There may be a taxable
gain on the eventual sale of
the property, but principal
private residence relief (PPR)
is available. This will apply on
a pro rata basis for your period
of occupation. For example, if
the home is owned for 108
months, but only 66 of these
qualify for actual or deemed
occupation, then 66/108 (61%)
of the gain will be offset by PPR.
In addition, if you bought
and converted the building
straightaway, and it was
unoccupied while the work
was carried out, there is a
concession from HMRC with
respect to development of a
property that will be your
private residence. This is for up
to two years of work, and if
you did not move into the
property within that period,
then normally there is no relief
during the conversion.
Registry. Again, this will not
prevent a sale, but a prudent
purchaser will not proceed.
When you get a divorce,
you and your husband must
resolve all financial matters.
If your solicitor makes a
formal application for a
financial remedy order on
your behalf, you can then
register a unilateral
notice at the Land
Registry to
protect your
pending claim.
Again, this notice
may not stop a
sale, but it makes
it less likely.
The way in which your
assets are divided on divorce
will depend on your and
your husband?s specific
circumstances. The family
home is likely to be a key
matrimonial asset that the
lawyers (and the court) will
consider when determining
a fair financial settlement.
They will look at whether
you or your husband should
retain the home in the
long term, if the property
should be sold and how the
proceeds should be divided.
If you are worried that your
husband will try to dispose
of the house without your
consent, you can obtain a
freezing order to stop a sale.
This requires an application
to court. The burden of proof
is high: you will have to show
that there is a real risk your
husband will sell the property
and dissipate the proceeds,
and that other preventative
measures are not sufficient.
In most cases, a freezing
order is not necessary.
Annabel Dean and Sarah
Hutchinson, partners, Farrer
& Co solicitors; farrer.co.uk
PPR would only apply to
the development period if,
when the alterations were
finished, the new house
became your only or main
residence. It also covers the
last 18 months of ownership,
regardless of whether you lived
there in that period.
During a tenancy period,
lettings relief is available. This
applies when a house that has
been your main residence is
let during a period of absence.
The rate applied is the lowest
of the PPR relief, the capital
gain arising during the period
in which the property was let,
or �,000.
In addition, you may use
your annual CGT exemption
(�,300) in a sale. You have
stated ?we?: if the property is
held with another person, you
can both use these allowances.
Lucy Brennan, partner,
Saffery Champness chartered
accountants; saffery.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sunday-times.
co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 13
The pursuit of sleep is a
serious business; there are
phone apps to help you
snooze and devices that
monitor bedside
temperatures, as well as
countless manuals and
scientific studies. But the
key to a good night?s rest is
the mattress.
The average lifespan for
a mattress is about seven
years. Even if it?s not lumpy
after that, it will ? according
to the Sleep Council?s Bed
Buyers? Guide ? have
absorbed half a pint of fluid
every night and a pound of
dead skin cells every year, so
it?s worth changing. Makes
you think, doesn?t it? But
which one is right for you?
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
We wouldn?t advise cutting
corners here, but you can
get away with paying less
than �0: John Lewis has an
open-spring double for �.
At the luxury end, a double
Somnus Royal Britannia,
made by Harrison Spinks with
wool from a flock of rare
Wensleydale sheep reared on
the manufacturer?s 300-acre
farm in North Yorkshire,
will set you back �759
(harrisonspinks.co.uk).
SOFT OR FIRM?
The old adage that those
with a bad back need a hard
surface is not necessarily
true. Think about how you
lie and which mattress will
support your spine in a
natural position. When you
are lying on your side, your
backbone should be
horizontal. As a rule, the
heavier you are, the firmer
the mattress you will need.
Loaf?s Perfect Mattress is
available in three tensions,
including extra-firm (�5
for a double; loaf.com).
If you and your partner are
of differing weights, causing
irritating ?roll together?,
consider a dual-tension
mattress. The Swedish
bespoke bed manufacturer
Hastens can customise its
2000T with a different
firmness for each side. Prices
start at �,930 for a W160cm
mattress, which is roughly
kingsize (hastens.com).
A more affordable option
is ?zip and link?: two single
mattresses fastened
together, each ranging from
soft to extra-firm. Vispring
Zip & Links are available in
including wool from
Herdwick sheep (�9 for
a double; herdysleep.com).
Naturalmat, a Devon
manufacturer, fills its
mattresses with organic coir,
lambswool, cotton and
cashmere (from �900 for a
double; naturalmat.co.uk)
Or plump for the last word
in opulence: the Vispring
Magnificence double
mattress has natural fillings
including Shetland wool,
cashmere, mohair and
Moosburger horsetail
(�,800; vispring.com).
TANYA CONSTANTINE/GETTY IMAGES
HOW
TO...
CHOOSE A MATTRESS
a W182cm (superking) size
or larger; prices start at
�630 for a Vispring Elite,
through And So to Bed
(andsotobed.co.uk).
WHAT IF I?M ALLERGIC?
The filling in your mattress
can aggravate allergies.
Memory foam is good for
asthmatics and those allergic
to house dust mites. It can be
pricy ? Tempur?s Sensation
Elite 25 costs �625 for a
double (johnlewis.com) ?
but Ikea?s Morgedal double
mattress, roll-packed for easy
transport, is �5 (ikea.co.uk).
Provided you are not
allergic to latex, the new
Latex 3000 pocket air-sprung
mattress is resistant to dust
mites, mould and bacteria;
what?s more, it does not get
as warm as foam can (�5;
soakandsleep.com).
Alternatively, cover a
regular mattress with an
anti-allergen cover (from
� at John Lewis).
AND IF I PREFER A TRADITIONAL
NATURAL FILLING?
Wool and cotton fillers are
more breathable than foam,
and can be better for those
who feel hot sleeping on a
foam mattress. Herdysleep
has launched a rollable
pocket-sprung mattress,
TALK ME THROUGH SPRINGS
Open-spring or open-coil
mattresses contain wire
wound into connected
springs. They?re ideal for
those on a budget, or for
guest rooms: the John Lewis
Basics Collection includes an
open-spring double for �
(johnlewis.com).
Pocket springs give better
support than open-coil, but,
you guessed it, they cost
more. Manufacturers often
use the number of springs as
a shorthand for quality, but
it?s not that simple, says Kris
Manalo, sleep buyer at Heal?s:
?You can only truly tell if you
like a mattress by lying on it.
Our top-of-the-range model
has more than 3,000 springs,
and it feels amazing. Yet some
people prefer the feel of our
1,500-count mattress ? it?s
all down to personal taste.?
The Emma double has
2,000 pocket springs (�9;
emma-mattress.co.uk),
while the new Lyndhurst
1700, from Swoon Editions,
has 1,700 (�9 for a double;
swooneditions.com).
Button & Sprung has a
unique ?IQ Spring? in its
Wensleydale mattress, which
offers ?progressive support?:
the more you push on it,
the more it pushes back
(�400 for a double;
buttonandsprung.com).
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
This used to mean going into
a shop and lying on a couple
of mattresses for 10 minutes
each, then deciding between
them. That changed with the
rise of e-commerce: online
retailers tend not to have a
showroom, so an increasing
number of suppliers allow
you to test your potential
purchase for 100 nights
before you commit, with
free returns. These include
Emma, Sleepbear, Casper,
Swoon Editions and Simba.
Katrina Burroughs
14 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Home Overseas
BEGUILED BY BELIZE
This Caribbean hideaway is the film director Sofia Coppola?s favourite retreat. By Jeremy Callaghan
B
elize may not be
the obvious
destination for
a second home,
but the Coppola
family don?t do obvious. The
Central American nation,
discreetly tucked into the
Caribbean coast, looks and
feels as if it is a half a world
away from anything, and
that?s the way the movie
dynasty like it. To the locals,
the Coppolas are not much
more than ?that family who
like Italian food?.
?We?ve had lots of fun trips
in Belize since my dad wanted
to go and discover it in the
1980s,? says Sofia Coppola,
46. Her father, Francis Ford
Coppola, had just finished
Apocalypse Now and, after an
infamously demanding shoot,
was looking for somewhere
the family could regroup,
halfway between the steamy
jungle of the Philippines,
where the Vietnam War epic
was shot, and the concrete
craziness of Hollywood.
Belize is where the family
have retreated ever since,
with Francis, 78, going on
to open Turtle Inn, near the
village of Placencia. It?s an
eco-resort established long
before that kind of description
became part of the traveller?s
lexicon. So, when a plot of
land next to the inn became
available, Sofia jumped at
the opportunity to create her
own beach hideaway.
At the edge of the world?s
second largest barrier reef,
Placencia is one of those
places where nature still rules
and high-speed internet has
not yet taken off. Mayan ruins
are a few hours? drive away
and jaguars roam the jungles.
?It?s unlike any place I
know,? she says. ?It feels like
an undiscovered small town ?
authentic and not at all
touristy. When my brothers
and I first came here, it was
as if we were camping. We?d
just play poker and swim.
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We still do pretty much the
same thing.?
Now, though, the seaside
location is graced by Sofia?s
Beach House, designed by
the French architect Laurent
Deroo. She met Deroo when
a store he had designed for
the French fashion brand
APC, in Tokyo?s hip Harajuku
district, was used as a
location for her 2003 film
Lost in Translation. ?I loved
his work,? she says. ?He uses
wood in an interesting way,
so I thought he would make
something I would love. I
first saw his designs in Tokyo,
and he started working on
the house when I was living
in Paris during [the making
of her 2006 film] Marie
Antoinette.?
The house, which has a
double bedroom, children?s
bunks and two one-bedroom
guest houses, it is remarkable
in that is just that: a house and
not much more. The emphasis
is not on who designed the
wall coverings or furnishings,
but is thrown back onto the
occupants, encouraging
them to look at each other,
their relationships and the
natural world without any
other distractions.
??
It?s unlike any place
I know. It feels like
an undiscovered
small town ?
authentic and not
at all touristy
?I love to go there for a rest
after work with family, or to
write a project,? says Sofia,
who last year became only
the second woman to win best
director at the Cannes Film
Festival, for her Civil War
drama The Beguiled.
?It?s a slow way of life, and
it?s refreshing to be at the sea.
There is an Italian couple in
the village who make the best
gelato, so that?s our usual
afternoon activity, to go there
? it?s called Tutti Frutti. It feels
very far away from city life.?
Sofia?s Beach House is available
to rent from $2,379 per night;
coppolaresorts.com/turtleinn
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 15
Corozal
Ambergris Caye
San Pedro
Caye Caulker
Belize City
BELIZE
20 miles
JUNGLE FEVER
GAELLE CALLAGHAN; ERIK PENDZICH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
MEXICO
Belize is off the radar for most buyers, but the tiny Central
American nation?s appeal is growing, says Emma Wells
T
Placencia
Director?s hut
Sofia Coppola?s
Beach House,
near Placencia,
has lots of natural
wood finishes.
It?s an ideal base
for taking boat
trips to explore
the reef
he Coppolas are not the only
movie A-listers who have felt
compelled to create their
own paradise in this corner
of the Caribbean. Leonardo
DiCaprio has invested in a project on
Blackadore Caye, an unpopulated
104-acre island just west of Ambergris
Caye. Building work on his eco-resort ?
and on 36 luxurious villas that are due to
go on sale ? was expected to start last year.
As with many a Hollywood project,
exact details of what?s on offer are
sketchy, and there are no updates on
progress from the site. Don?t let that stop
you, though: there?s a growing number
of resorts in Belize catering to the more
adventurous buyer seeking a holiday
home in a pristine natural setting. The
dense jungle interior is studded with
Mayan ruins, and much of it is protected.
The 186-mile Belize Barrier Reef is dotted
with hundreds of pristine cayes hosting
rich marine life and mangrove forests,
and the country has just announced an
indefinite moratorium on oil exploration
in its waters.
Land values and property prices here
are far lower than in neighbouring Mexico.
The average price of a one-bedroom
beachfront condo with sea views is about
US$200,000 (�8,000), while for those
with deeper pockets, a private island can
be had for $9m.
Most investors head for Ambergris
Caye, a 25-mile-long island off the
northern coast, near the Mexican border.
Two-thirds of purchasers are from the
US (compared to 11% from Europe,
including the UK), according to Robert
Cooper, managing director of the
Caribbean specialist 7th Heaven
Properties. He says the fact that Belize
is the only officially English-speaking
country in Central America ? it was a
British colony for 120 years, and is a
member of the Commonwealth ? adds to
its appeal for buyers from these shores.
Cooper reports rising British interest in
Belize as a second-home and retirement
destination. There are no restrictions on
overseas property investors, though a
transfer tax of 5% is payable. Admittedly,
its appeal isn?t bolstered by the arduous
journey from the UK, which takes 32
hours or so ? although several airlines
will take you from Heathrow to Miami for
an overnight stop, then on to Ladyville
airport, near Belize City, the next day.
For now, that is the only international
airport in the country, but work on a
second one at Ambergris Caye, just north
of the town of San Pedro, is expected to
begin next year. The hope is that it will
stimulate investment.
San Pedro and its environs are already
popular with international buyers,
although properties there are not cheap.
Debbie Wade, a broker at Sancas Realty,
says you can expect to pay upwards of $1m
for a two- to four-bedroom oceanfront
house on the caye; a typical beachfront
condo with two bedrooms will set you
back about $500,000.
Further south, on the mainland, the
16-mile-long Placencia peninsula ? home
to the Coppolas? Turtle Inn ? is beginning
to challenge Ambergris Caye and gain a
reputation for laid-back luxury and hip
hotels. Prices here are about 40% lower:
two-bedroom cabin-style homes start at
about $250,000.
But for real barefoot Belize, if you?re
intrepid enough, take a water taxi from
Belize City to Caye Caulker, with its motto
?no shirt, no shoes, no problem?. You can
buy a three-bedroom doer-upper there for
about $125,000.
ORCHID BAY
$189,500
This is a gated
community in
northern Belize, an
80-minute drive
from the town of
Corozal and not far
from the Mexican
border. Buy an
airy two-bedroom
casita here and
you can use the
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The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 17
BARK WITH
From left, a
red-barked
strawberry tree;
Prunus serrula;
and the ethereal
Betula utilis var
jacquemontii
?Grayswood
Ghost?. Bottom,
Cornus alba
?Elegantissima?
BITE
Coloured trunks and stems brighten up your
plot in the bleak midwinter, says Anna Pavord
L
ike film extras given
an unexpected
close-up, or a
forgotten celebrity
cameo, dogwoods
and willows come into the
limelight in a winter garden.
Fluffy leafage is shed, flowers
are almost non-existent, and
what we are left with is stems
and bark. The colours they
provide light up the scene with
eye-catching shafts of red,
orange and cinnamon.
For the brightest colours,
you?ll have to coppice (cut
down) the clumps on a regular
basis to produce strong,
vigorous new shoots. Early
spring is the best time for this
job. It is best to take out a
proportion of stems each year
? say a third. You?ll avoid a big
gap, but still give the shrub
enough of a jolt to produce the
bright new shoots that shine
out so well in winter.
DOGWOODS
My favourite is Cornus alba
?Elegantissima?. Its red stems
may not be as brilliant as
those of ?Sibirica?, but it has
variegated foliage, useful for
picking in the summer
months. If you cut down the
stems in rotation, the older
growths will produce flat white
flowerheads, another bonus.
The aptly named C
sanguinea ?Midwinter Fire? is
one of the most widely planted
varieties, with stems that
blaze up from soft yellow to
red at the tips. In mass
plantings, it gives a stupendous
effect, but, although showy,
it doesn?t always have the
oomph of varieties such as
acid-green ?Flaviramea? or
black-purple ?Kesselringii?.
WILLOWS
Willows grow with great
energy and vigour, and you
will probably need to cut out
more growth each year than
you do with dogwoods. But
cut you must, because the
best colour comes on the new
growth. The stem colours ?
warm oranges and yellows ?
are similar to the winter effects
dogwoods provide.
Salix alba var vitellina
?Yelverton? burns from yellow
to warm orange at the tips of
the new growth. S alba var
vitellina ?Britzensis? produces
bright orange-red shoots,
well contrasted in the winter
walk at Anglesey Abbey,
Cambridgeshire, with a carpet
of low-growing, purple-leaved
Mahonia aquifolium ?Apollo?.
Salix irrorata has mauve
stems with a whitish bloom,
wonderfully ghostly in the
dusk of a misty, moisty
winter?s afternoon.
As they age, willow clumps
take up a lot of room, and in a
small garden it may be wiser
to pollard a willow than to
coppice it. This way, you 
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