SELL YOUR NEW
HOME QUICKLY

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SELL YOUR NEW HOME QUICKLY

FIND OUT HOW

GIOVANNA FLETCHER: ‘How I Created a Nursery for Baby Number Three’

The author, blogger and wife of musician Tom Fletcher shows Gabrielle Fagan how she put together a ‘rocking’ nursery for their new son, Max Mario.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design

“Welcome to the world, Max Mario Fletcher,” Giovanna Fletcher proudly declared on Twitter, celebrating the birth of her third baby this August.

Now, she’s delightedly showing off the beautiful nursery she’s created for him in the home she shares with musician husband, Tom – of McFly and McBusted fame – and their other sons: Buzz, four, and two-year-old Buddy.

The bestselling novelist and podcast guru worked with online interiors specialist, Wayfair.co.uk, to revamp a bedroom and transform it into an airy, gender-neutral, tranquil space ready for the family’s newest arrival.

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“I really wanted to freshen up the space, as it’s not been redesigned since it became Buzz’s room four years ago and it looked really tired and worn,” explains Giovanna, 33. “I wanted a clean space that felt homely and calming but full of sweet details and practical, affordable picks. It was important it was gender neutral as we didn’t find out the sex before he was born.”

“The jungle-themed wallpaper is stunning and adds so much to the space, while also being neutral. I really love a statement design,” Fletcher enthuses. “We have flamingos in the downstairs loo, an intricate story-based design in the boys’ room and then full on ‘flower power’ in my office.”

“The teepee tent (Hokku Designs Play Tent, £136.99, Wayfair) is gorgeous – such a unique but affordable touch,” she adds. “I can really imagine him lying in there and taking it all in.

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“There are also so many textures to explore with the cushions, throws and rugs, and the muted pastel shades help make it all look so beautiful.”

“I’m also really happy with the wardrobe and changing unit. Babies come with a lot of stuff,” says the new mum. “Being the third child, this baby is inheriting a fair few clothes, so it’s good to have somewhere to put it all.”

The Fletchers have a busy lifestyle. Giovanna writes romantic fiction and blogs about life as a mum – plus there’s the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast she hosts; she documented her third pregnancy throughout, sharing details with her social media fans. As well as performing and touring with his bands, guitarist and singer-songwriter Tom also writes – children’s fiction – and this year saw the couple publish Eve Of Man, the first book in a trilogy they’re co-writing.

“We moved into our house 12 years ago, when we were only 21 years old, and kept it just as it was initially,” reveals Fletcher – Tom and Giovanna were childhood sweethearts after meeting aged 13 at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and married in 2012.

“We bought a show house, which was great for us at the time as it was hassle-free and looked stunning,” she recalls. “But as time went on, we realised it didn’t really show off our personalities or interests.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, nursing chair

“About two years ago, we decided to make some upgrades – the house is now a collection of the things we love.” There’s a music room for Tom, 33, and one end of their spacious lounge converts into a cinema space.

“Having children also forced us to look at our home differently. Before we became parents, we did a first aid course which led us to an extensive ‘risk assessment’ in the house. It completely freaked us out, and made us view everything as a potential threat,” Fletcher adds, laughing.

“So glass went, any sharp corners were frowned upon, stair gates went in and locks were fitted on locks!”

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, storage

She feels that since the redecoration, they’ve been able to have more fun with their space.

“Growing up, I can remember being told off about doing anything that might damage the carpet, sofas or breakables. Our boys still have to be careful, of course, but I’d say our style has become more family-friendly,” Fletcher reflects. “Children take over and there’s not a single room that doesn’t contain some sort of child-related item! But I like rooms to reflect some personality, while being inviting and cosy.

“Our home’s colourful, warm, inviting, cosy, inspiring and calming, depending on where you are in it. It’s also practical. I’m not one for useless faff.”

8 Tips for Giving your Garden a Late Summer Spruce-up

end-of-summer, garden-tips, autumn-preparation

As the season draws to a close, it’s time to clear patio debris, replace tired plants and restore order to your outdoor space. By Hannah Stephenson.

Back from your summer travels? Are your hanging baskets looking a little sorry, your pots pathetic and your borders brimming with weeds? Here are some easy but effective garden tidy-up tips…

  1. Save it

Save what you can, deadheading late-flowering blooms in borders which may come back to life. Perennials which have finished flowering can be cut back but will come back to life next year. Established trees and shrubs won’t generally have been damaged in your absence.

  1. Ditch it.

If your hanging baskets and pots of annuals have completely dried out, take them down and empty the contents onto the compost heap. Keep your spirits high by buying spring-flowering bulbs and, if you want late colour, pop into the garden centre to find some.

Good plants which will bring colour at this time of year include asters, chrysanthemums and nerines, along with rudbeckias and sedums. Plant some in the pots that are now free from wilted summer annuals.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, dead-heading
  1. Tend to the lawn.

With the hot summer we’ve had, the lawn might be looking like hay and shouldn’t need cutting. If it has grown substantially though, leave the blades on the highest setting for the first cut, reduce the height at the next a few days later, and then cut at the normal height. You’ll be surprised how much tidier the garden looks when the lawn has been mown. Take time to tidy up the lawn edges using edging shears.

  1. Lose the weeds.

Look over your beds and borders and if weeds have sprung up, then get rid of them quickly. Seeds shed at this time of year, which means more work later on. Keep on top of deadheading, otherwise the flowering will not continue as long as you’d like.

  1. Harvest now.

If you have a vegetable patch, harvest as much ripe produce as you can now, to stop the veg running to seed or becoming over-ripe. You can blanch (immerse in boiling water) and freeze many veg, including green beans and sweetcorn, so you don’t end up wasting what you pick.

Immerse the vegetables immediately into a bowl of iced water after blanching, to stop them continuing to cook. When cool, lift the veg from the iced water, spread out on a kitchen towel and pat dry to remove excess moisture. Pack loose vegetables in resealable plastic bags or other containers. Vegetables suitable for freezing include beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, spinach, Swiss chard and summer squash. Even tomatoes can be frozen whole and then used in sauces and soups later on.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, autumn harvest
  1. Clear space for new crops.

Find time to clear vacant rows in the veg patch and refill them with autumn and winter crops as soon as you can.

  1. Put away pots for winter.

If you have empty pots you’re not going to use again this year, clean them with diluted disinfectant and stow in the shed for winter. That way, terracotta won’t crack and other vulnerable pots won’t perish when the frost comes. Also, remove and put away stakes which propped up plants which have now been cut back.

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  1. Plan for next year.

Take time to write a list of what you are going to include and exclude in your plantings next year. Look for gaps you’ll need to fill in borders next season, and maybe extend the season by planning to plant some perennials which provide late-summer colour.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, dead-heading

Print marketing, they say it’s all over

Discover the beauty and benefits of quality print

When it comes to print marketing, some say it’s all over but we challenge that view and back up our view with investment in print marketing and tangible evidence of results.

In this digital age it is very easy to dismiss the power of quality print marketing, and when it comes to the thousands of pounds we spend on producing the lifestyle and property magazine In The Country and Town the doubts sown by the digital age ring loudly in our corporate ears.

The summer edition of lifestyle and property magazine In The Country and Town is out now, thanks to greta print services from IC Printing and photography work from John Joe. Right now the magazine is being read by thousands of people, including house buyers, search agents and tenants from as far afield as London to Bejing.

This quality magazine is showcasing wonderful content from stunning properties, to celebrity chefs and motoring features, great interior design, market insight, politics and gardening. So, does it work?

At McCarthy Holden we distribute thousands of copies of each issue by Royal Mail and many more by our own direct distribution. Looking back on previous issues we can fine many examples of properties which were sold directly from this magazine, despite these properties already being on the open market on property portals such as Rightmove. So yes this old fashioned print marketing can work and in many cases outperformed the digital property portals such as Rightmove.

Take a look at some examples.

farm sold

The house above sold as a result of the successful buyer picking up a copy of the magazine in a railway carriage travelling from Waterloo to Fleet.

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Finchampstead Ridges, Berkshire

The country house above sold when Royal Mail delivered the magazine and the successful buyer, who wasn’t on Rightmove or registered with an agent to move, simply saw the advert and was inspired to move.

Why Does Print Work In This Case?

“Quality print in books and magazine are something we are all attracted to, because people appreciate good design and beauty and I’m not at all surprised by the fact that printed books are on the rise again against the digital versions. People like to hold a book or magazine.” says marketing director Samantha Holden.

‘In this case the carefully targetted Royal Mail delivery is a big factor in the success rate, getting us to buyers who haven’t yet thought about moving. We already have the digital buyers from the online property portals, but we want to find and motivate buyers who aren’t yet in the market place. In The Country and Town does this brilliantly” she concludes.

Quality magazine print marketing can outperform the digital world of Rigtmove or similar property portals, so for those who think print marketing is dead, a reassuring word to say that quality print magazine marketing is working well.

The Opportunity for house sellers to appear in this magazine, without obligation or cost unless we sell or let the property, is a big appeal.

The real story of this successful magazine is that it brings new buyers to the market, many of whom are not actively in the market looking around agents or property portals, hence the reason we tag the magazine name with ‘Creating the inspiration to move.’

One McCarthy Holden client took the time to write in and pen the following commendation about their experience of the In The Country and Town magazine.

‘A brief note of thanks for selling our lovely house in Odiham. The full page advert in your property magazine was excellent and certainly did the trick, outperforming internet giants such as Rightmove and Primelocation. Congratulations on producing such a professional and succinct magazine as “In the Country and Town”. The photography and video work was of exceptional quality, which has also provided a lasting memory of a property we were really fond of. We did appreciate very much your extensive experience coupled with your negotiating prowess, which held the deal together from the outset through to completion. All the very best for much deserved success in the future. Sue Easton- Jones – West Meon.

The property we sold for these clients at the time is shown below.

So in summary, if you are thinking of selling or renting a fine home then don’t just focus on digital marketing but in addition think about the role of quality print. Fortunately at McCarthy Holden we are leaders in digital and video marketing as well as professional print.

Cont act your nearest branch for a free no obligation valuation.

country house
Odiham, Hampshire
magazine photos

The A-Z of Home Renovation

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THE A-Z OF HOME RENOVATION

Thinking about embarking on a ‘project’? Claire Spreadbury reveals everything you need to know.

A new beginning: Starting a building project feels exciting. You’re creating a new section of your home, designed uniquely for you, which is pretty special.

Builders: The people who are going to take on your work need thoroughly researching. They’ll all have different work ethics, set-ups and costs. Ask around and find out if friends and family would recommend builders they used – it’s surprising how many won’t.

Contract: Once you’ve made a deal with a builder and the work’s secured, insist on a contract. This should tell you exactly what will be done when – week by week – and how much you need to pay at every stage. Remember to only pay that money when work’s completed as agreed.

Dirt: Strap in for a few months of filth. There will be dust everywhere. Some builders are better than others when it comes to protecting you from the dirt (for example, blocking off sections of the house so mess can be contained to work sites) and cleaning it up. Your grass is also likely to get filthy (and slightly ruined) if they store tools in the garden.

Extras: Beware – everything will have been priced up for you, but as the build progresses, there will be lots of additional opportunities for you to haemorrhage cash. The builders’ costs, for example, might include uber-cheap, ugly new radiators, but no doubt there’ll be an option to upgrade to much prettier ones, for a price of course.

Frayed nerves: Going through a build is incredibly stressful, and youmight well need to take on the role of project manager, which is almost impossible if you’re trying to work and sort out your family at the same time. Be prepared for difficult conversations with the builders too – if  you’re not happy with something, it won’t change unless you speak up.

Getting cash out: You might not want to do any dodgy dealing, but if you’re trying to haggle and the only way to make things more affordable is to supply a lump sum of cash, you might be tempted (though we couldn’t possibly recommend it). Getting large amounts of money out of the bank can be troublesome. You may have your account blocked and be treated like a total criminal, just to warn you.

Holidays: A holiday feels so good in the midst of a build, but be warned – there might be a little less activity going on when you’re not around. Builders often work on several jobs at the same time, so if someone else is around and shouting louder, people may get moved off your project onto theirs.

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Itemisation: When the builder gives you your contract, go through it with a fine-tooth comb to check if anything’s missing. If you’re ordering a new kitchen or bathroom, check the itemised list. You may have spent days in the shop talking through it all and working out what you want with the supplier, but that doesn’t mean they won’t incorrectly order something.

Jargon: There will be lots of things you won’t know the names of. When builders, plumbers or electricians litter their updates with words you don’t understand, ask what they mean.

Keys: Your builders are likely to need their own set of keys, so be prepared to get a set cut, and to trust them in your home. Otherwise you’ll need to remain in the house the whole time, and might just drive yourself insane.

Lost stuff: Anything you leave on site is likely to end up in a skip if it’s not needed, and things like light fittings or thermostats – that are fixed to a wall that are being knocked down or worked on – can easily get mislaid.

Mess: Strap yourself in for a messy few months. You’ll have stuff on top of stuff, on top of stuff. It’s a nightmare.

Never-ending: The builders might tell you eight weeks, you’ll estimate 12, but when they’re still at it during week 14, you might feel like you want to explode. Building work takes an awfully long time.

Open plan: This is the look so many of us are trying to achieve. Open plan living’s what modern life is all about, a real home hub where everyone can be together, perfect for families and entertaining. Just beware, there are fewer places to hide mess so think about storage, and if you have a TV in your open space, that’s going to take over, so you might need some screen rules.

Portaloo: They’re not pretty but if having a portaloo stops dusty builders traipsing up your stairs to use your bathroom, you want to have one installed. Check if it’s included as standard in your job price.

Queen-size tantrums and emotions: Nothing can really prepare you for the stress building work puts on your life. If you have other stressful elements to worry about too, prepare yourself for a tough few months. You’ll be snappy, ratty, emotional and generally quite unpleasant whenever you’re inside the house.

Real-life blur: Once you’re a good six weeks into a build, something happens to your brain. You’re no longer able to retain any additional information that isn’t written down, and have to take each and every day as it comes. Planning ahead can no longer happen.

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Skips: When you’re having building work done, a skip is one of the first arrivals. Don’t get too excited about using it to chuck out some big old bits of rubbish you’ve been hoarding for the last 17 years, though. Generally, builders might let you pop in the odd thing, but if you take advantage, they’ll charge you for the cost of the skip – which is hundreds. Prepare yourself for scavengers too; scrap metal dealers will come and rummage at all hours, and some have better manners than others. Same goes for neighbours looking for matching bricks and tiles, and complete randoms hoping for treasure.

Timings: We all know a builder’s schedule is unlikely to go completely to plan. Be prepared for timings to be, let’s say, flexible. It’s slow work – but worth the wait.

Under the ground: You might have to wave goodbye to bits of your garden or a beloved rose bush when it’s dig up to provide the soak away. The tunnels and pipes are often necessary for plumbing work, but rest assured, the garden will grow back (minus the rose bush).

Various people: Building firms use different people for different types of work, so you could see a lot of different faces over the course of the work. It’s a good idea to try and get to know them all though, as you’ll feel easier about being in the house with them.

Wall cracks: When you knock down walls and do extensions, you put the rest of the house under severe pressure. Supports will be put in place to ensure it’s safe but you will discover lots of brand new cracks, around windows, across corners and over ceilings. This can be alarming but it happens. Wait for the house to settle (usually at least six months is advised), then fill in the cracks and redecorate.

X-rated language: It’s not sweary builders you need to worry about, but your own language. Another side-effect of stress, it’s likely your swear count will rise dramatically. Stay calm by organising time away from the house, relaxing exercise classes like yoga or meditation, and mindfulness apps.

Yes please: Remember everything you say ‘yes’ to could cost you money. Some builders are more upfront about it than others. So if you’re asked if you’d like something a bit different, be sure to check whether it’s included in the price.

Zoo-like behaviour: Most reputable firms will use good staff, but there’s always the odd one – possibly the labourer doing all the horrible jobs – who might not be quite as tidy and polite as you might like. Be sure to give them mugs you’re happy to throw away for their cuppas, prepare for mud getting everywhere and cover up any areas – like stair carpets and hallway – with sticky, plastic coverings. You’ll really appreciate it come the end of the build.

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Before you start building works of a significant expense, why not speak to your local branch of McCarthy Holden who will be able to guide you in potential before and after values. For your local branch information:  

https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

5 Top Tips For Being A Happier Renter

renting-tips, homes-in-hampshire, homes-to-rent

Nobody dreams of renting a house forever - but if this is the situation you're in, you may as well make the most of it, says Abi Jackson.

Whether you’re a fully-fledged member of Generation Rent, or a family for whom the property ladder is still a step out of reach, renting can sometimes feel frustrating.

It’s your home – except, well, it’s not really, is it? Somebody else is the boss of it, which – while there are some pros to this – means there are plenty of less than ideal cons, too.

But, as somebody who’s been renting for two decades, I’ve learnt (often the hard way) that there are certain things you can do to help make living as a rent-paying tenant the best it can possibly be.

Here are my five top tips…

  1. Be on good terms with your landlord/letting agent

When you’re looking for a place to rent, remember you’re vetting the people you’ll be renting with/from, as much as the property itself. Mutual trust and respect, and an ability to communicate, will count towards a lot.

There might be times when things go wrong and need to be fixed, fast. A broken toilet/tap/boiler, for instance. The good thing is, where a plumbing disaster due to wear-and-tear or technical issues is concerned (or any similar scenario), your landlord will be picking up the bill. The sometimes not so good thing is, you’ll be relying on a third party to sort things out. Now, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a headache on your hands, but it might be a bit of a nuisance – and you’ll be doing yourself a big favour if you get on good communication terms with your landlord/letting agent from day one, rather than waiting until something ‘goes wrong’ to make contact.

  1. Streamline, streamline, streamline

It’s often said that our European cousins are much better at the whole renting game than us, being far more likely to rent their ‘forever home’, while us UK renters might find ourselves moving a lot (I stopped counting at 13), and it sucks. The good thing though? You’ll get so sick of packing and unpacking and losing money to removal vans (and cramming all your worldly belongings into one small bedroom, if you’re sharing a house), you’ll reach a point where you just don’t care for ‘stuff’ any more. Marie Kondo ain’t got nothing on me: I saw the light after move number 11 and waved goodbye to clutter for good. Do yourself a favour and get strict about the ‘stuff’ you let into your life. The next move will be a lot easier and, without even really trying, you’ll be living a less consumerist lifestyle – and will have more money to spend on experiences (tick, tick, tick).

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  1. Give yourself reasons to get out of the house

Live in a shared house? No matter how great your housemates are, there will be times when you desperately wish you could afford your own place. Plus, self-comparison is part of the human condition, and if there are moments of mild (or severe) despair, when you’re wondering how you’ve not managed to bag that mortgage yet, while everyone around you is upgrading their kitchen – you’re not alone. Until that day comes for you, though, you need to make the best of the situation you’re in now – and embracing life outside your four walls can play a big part in this. Make dates with friends, join a club, go for walks, volunteer in your local community (no seriously, try it). Your life will be richer, your mental wellbeing will benefit, and you’ll find yourself seething about coming home to an already-occupied sofa a lot less.

  1. Make your bed king

You might not own the bed frame, or the walls around it – but that does not mean you don’t own the right to a decent night’s sleep. Good sleep is the foundation of so many thing (your health, your work performance, your overall zest for life and all the people in it) – so prioritise it and do your best to make it happen. Renting doesn’t have to mean putting up with a crap, wafer-thin mattress or not-quite-right bedding. If your landlord doesn’t feel the same way, save up and invest in the best mattress you can afford (it’ll be some of the best money you’ve ever spent), and a pillow you look forward to sinking your head into every night. Treat yourself to some fabulous bed linen too; as far as ‘home purchases’ go, you can pick up some great designs at reasonable prices, and you’ll get way more pleasure from it than a TV upgrade.

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  1. Find ways to get personal

One of the most frequently-cited phrases among us long-term renters: ‘I just want to be able to hang whatever pictures I want on the walls!’ There’s a general assumption that landlords don’t want tenants to make their house too much of a home (by banging nails into walls, that sort of thing). Have you actually asked your landlord about this though? There’s no harm in asking.

Even if nails are out, there are lots of other ways you can personalise a space without permanently affecting the actual walls or structure. Get creative and remember that little touches can make a big difference. Everybody needs some home comforts, even if it’s just a throw from Matalan, a few coloured utensils in the kitchen that feel more like ‘you’, or a stack of books on the coffee table that light a spark every time your eye catches them. You may not be putting down permanent roots in this property, but right now, it’s home – so don’t underestimate the importance of making it feel that way.

If you want to find our more information about renting through McCarthy Holden, then call the lettings team on 01252 622550 or follow https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/letting/ 

Almost the price of a house

btw i8 photo

With the average house price in the UK being around £226,000, the luxury car market appears to be going in a similar upwards direction.

Jack Evans, Press Association motoring correspondent road tests the new BMW i8 Roadster, which is thought to have a guide price around £136,000.

The drop-top version of BMW’s instantly recognisable hybrid sports car is now on sale. Jack Evans heads out to Valencia to see what it’s like.

What is it?

That’s right, it’s finally here. After years of teasers, reveals and promises, we’re finally behind the wheel of the BMW i8 Roadster. A soft-top version of the iconic hybrid sports car, the Roadster is aimed at those who want the wind in their hair when piloting one of the most futuristic looking vehicles available.

It’s also able to offer genuinely low running costs and emits next to nothing, but can that help the i8 Roadster to top the bill when it comes to performance drop-tops? Let’s find out.

What’s new?

The biggest change here is, of course, the lack of a roof. BMW has whipped off the i8’s top and, because of its predominantly carbon-fibre underbody, it hasn’t had to laden the car down with additional strengthening.

That means the Roadster’s weight stays down, and as a result it’s just 60kg heavier than its hard-top brethren. The roof mechanism itself is clever too, taking just 15 seconds to raise or lower at speeds of up to 31mph. The exterior of the car has also been lightly breathed upon to freshen its looks, though we’ll come to those in more depth later.

What’s under the bonnet?

The i8 Roadster makes use of exactly the same powertrain as the regular i8, so you’ll find a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine linked to an electric motor. The combustion engine powers the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor powers the front wheels through a two-speed automatic ‘box.

BMW has also increased the car’s battery cell capacity, so while you still get 369bhp and 570Nm of torque, the Roadster can still travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone. Both units combine to offer the best performance possible, with the electric motor filling in the gaps of the petrol’s power delivery. Thanks to this, 0-60mph takes just 4.4 seconds, and it can a top speed of 155mph too.

What’s it like to drive?

Usually when converting a regular hardtop into a convertible, you’d expect a significant penalty to the way the car drives. Lopping the roof off usually requires additional bracing to stop the car from flexing too much, and this adds weight, therefore blunting the vehicle’s performance. However, as we mentioned, the i8 Roadster hasn’t suffered too much with the conversion, with a negligible amount of weight added. This means that it steers just as keenly as the Coupe, and manages the weight it does have impressively well through the corners.

Push the i8 Roadster a little harder and it does fall into understeer, the front tyres scrubbing wide with little effort. We’d also like the brakes to be sharper; currently they feel underpowered and vague, leaving you guessing as to how much pedal force you need apply at any given moment.

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How does it look?

The regular i8 still looks like nothing else on the road, despite having been around for some time now. The Roadster, in our eyes at least, looks even better – particularly in the ‘E-Copper’ colour our test car was finished in. The bubbles behind driver and passenger have been accentuated, giving it the look of a 1950’s racer, while the two-tone alloy wheels fitted to our test car stood out too.

The front of the car has benefited from some additional design touches too. There are revised air ducts finished in gloss black, while the headlight’s look has been updated as well. It’s still the i8 motoring fans know and love, just turned up a little bit more.

What’s it like inside?

The i8 Roadster’s interior remains largely unchanged over the Coupes, though it does benefit from the addition of a few new colour and material combinations. It’s still a well-made place to be, albeit one that is starting to feel its age a touch now; the screen, though clear, isn’t quite as pin-sharp as rival systems while the multifunction steering wheel hasn’t got the features you’ll find on other current BMWs.

The Roadster, does however, have practicality on its side. Though soft-tops are usually the less spacious option, this i8 packs more luggage space than its hard-top stablemate. In fact, you’ll find 188 litres of storage space in the Roadster – close to 35 litres more than the Coupe.

What’s the spec like?

Prices for the i8 Roadster start at £124,735, there’s plenty of equipment included as part of that base price. You get 20-inch alloy wheels, for instance, and full leather upholstery too, while a suite of safety assistance systems such as forward collision warning, city collision mitigation and high beam assistant all help to keep the Roadster as safe as possible.

It can be easy to ramp up the car’s price however. Apple CarPlay, for instance, is a £235 optional extra – which seems a little mean given it is standard on the majority of hatchbacks currently on sale today. Our test car weighed in at a hefty £135,075, with options such as LaserLight headlights (£5,100) contributing to its rather chunky price tag.

Verdict

BMW already claims that the Roadster will outsell the Coupe three to one – and we’d we can already see that being the case. There’s little reason why you wouldn’t go for the soft top; it’s quick, great to look at and its roof mechanism is simple and easy to use. The hybrid powertrain keeps running costs to a minimum, yet despite there’s a whole lot of performance accessible under your right foot. It’s an impressive car alright, and one you’d likely never tire of driving.

Facts at a glance

  • Model as tested: BMW i8 Roadster
  • Price: £135,810 (E171,390)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol linked to electric motor
  • Power: 369bhp
  • Torque (Nm): 570Nm
  • Max speed (mph): 155
  • 0-60mph: 4.4
  • MPG: 141.9
  • Emissions (g/km): 46

Footnote: Alternatively, at McCarthy Holden why not search for a fine property investment.

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

interior design photo

For a different house interior design, birds, wildlife and foliage all star in the latest decor must-haves. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to style them up.

Hot weather may make you yearn to escape to a tropical paradise but if that’s beyond the budget, you can easily create your own exotic sanctuary.

Combine vibrant shades and bold palm prints with a sprinkling of tropical touches – it’s one of the easiest ways turn up the style dial in your interior, and add a little sizzle to your space.

So, put away your passport and pick one of these sun-kissed looks…

Wing it with tropical birds

“Exotic birds – parrots, flamingos and toucans – are winging their way into our homes, as they’re the perfect way to introduce the colour we’re craving, to give rooms a punchy personality,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, style advisor for online interiors specialist, Wayfair. “Why not flirt with this feathered trend with bold bed linen, cushions, wall art or some eye-catching glassware?

“Alternatively, give an unloved space (such as your downstairs loo or the inside of a cupboard) a quirky makeover, with a striking splash of flamingo or parrot-decorated wallpaper, ” she suggests.

Walk on the wild side with animal prints

“Opting for safari-themed homeware is another sure-fire way to make your interiors grrrr-eat!” says McCowan Hill.

“As well as walking on the wild side with animal images and faux heads, add some bold contrast with bold zebra stripes for a pouffe or chair, and dress a floor with fur print rugs.”

interior design photo

Pick a leafy pattern

“Lush leafy patterns are another easy way to bring this hot summer look home, because palms are evocative of far-away destinations,” notes McCowan Hill.

“For a fresh take on this summer favourite, choose a classic print with a tropical twist, and accessorise around it. That way, you can ramp up the effect to suit your taste. Metallic touches will add a hint of luxury, which will contrast well with a pared-back setting.”

If you really want to create a sultry atmosphere, wall specialists Pixers has a fab Art Illustration With Palm Tree Doodle mural, £301 (though prices start from £29), which would have real impact on a feature wall in a living area.

interior design photo

By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association

8 Reasons To Get Solar Panels On Your Home

house with solar panels

Could your property value be enhanced and the house become more saleable be with the benefit of solar panels and reduced energy bills? Putting property values top one side, in this article by Lisa Salmon (Press Association), she examines some good reasons to consider a solar panel installation.

Sunlight is free, so why not harness its energy through solar panels on your home?

Most people would love to save money on their domestic energy bills, and the summer is the ideal time to do it.

And that’s not just because you don’t need the heating on. It’s because all that sunlight is producing huge amounts of energy, which can be harnessed if you have solar panels on your home.

While a decade ago solar energy provided virtually no power, around 840,000 homes in the UK now have solar panels – also known as photovoltaics (PV) – and the renewable energy source regularly generates around a fifth of the country’s electricity for hours on summer days. The spell of hot, dry summer weather has helped break several solar power-generation records, and recently even very briefly eclipsed gas power stations, as the UK’s top source of electricity.

However, the solar energy boom may already have reached it’s peak, as solar panel installations have flatlined recently because financial incentives for householders to get them installed have been slashed dramatically, and will stop completely next year with no sign of a replacement scheme.

But green campaigners desperately want solar power to keep its foothold in the energy market, and point out there are still many reasons to consider installing solar panels on homes.

property roof with solar panel

1 Solar panels can save you money

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), an independent consumer body which helps householders and businesses save energy, says the amount saved depends on several factors – where your home is, what direction your roof faces, how big a system you install, when you install it, and how much of the energy produced you’re able to use yourself. For a typical 4kW system in the south of England, you could make around £275 a year in feed-in tariff generation payments and export payments.

Use the EST’s online Solar Energy Calculator (energysavingtrust.org.uk) to assess what financial benefits you may get from installing a solar PV system.

You’ll also save on electricity bills, says the EST. The amount you save depends on how much energy you use in a day when your solar panels are generating energy. If you’re usually out all day, you’ll only save around £90 a year on your bills. However, if you tend to be at home, you could save around £220 a year. Including the benefits from tariffs, this would give you a total saving of around £365-£495, depending on your lifestyle.

Caitlin Bent, home energy expert for the EST, says: “Solar panels are most suited to people who are at home a lot during the day, who can really take advantage of using free electricity when the sun is shining.”

2 You get paid for energy you produce

As well as saving on electricity bills, you can make money in two other ways with solar panels. Firstly, through the feed-in tariff, you’re paid for every unit of energy you generate. The feed-in tariff will close to new applicants in April 2019, although payments will continue for 20 years from the date of installation for those who invest in solar panels before April.

Secondly, you can make money via the export tariff, through which you’re paid for any energy you don’t use but send back to the grid. However, because export isn’t metered for domestic properties, the government assumes you’ll export 50% of the energy you produce. This means regardless of how much you use, you’ll be paid for 50% of your generation.

3 You’re helping to save the planet

Solar electricity is green renewable energy, meaning it doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save around 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes of carbon per year. The EST says: “By generating clean, green electricity you reduce your home’s carbon emissions. Plus, any solar energy you don’t use will be fed into the grid, so it can be used by someone else.”

4 Costs have fallen

A typical 4kW solar PV system now costs around £5,500 – £6,800 on average, according to government figures. When the feed-in tariffs began in 2010, costs were as high as £12,000-£14,000.

5 You can store solar energy on batteries

Batteries can now be purchased by householders to enable them to consume rather than export their solar electricity, which makes more financial sense.

6 It’s possible to use solar tiles if you prefer

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. However, a system of solar tiles will typically cost about twice as much as an equivalent panel system. Therefore, solar tile systems aren’t normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels aren’t appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

7 They’re low maintenance

Solar panels require relatively little maintenance, but you may need to wash the surface occasionally, and make sure trees don’t begin to overshadow them, to make sure they continue working at their most efficient. Debris is more likely to accumulate on ground-mounted panels, and roof panels that are tilted at 15 degrees or more will be cleaned by rainfall. Panels should last 25 years or more, but their inverter is likely to need replacing at some point sooner, at a cost of about £800.

8 They come with a guarantee

“The performance of solar panels will degrade slightly over time,” says Bent, “but most come with a guarantee of at least 25 years.”

If you are a house buyer looking for a home with solar panels, why not undertake a property search from our home page

Country House For Sale In Odiham Preview

Property For Sale In Odiham Hampshire

Our Odiham branch will be showcasing this country house next week, so here is a preview.

This is a substantial house of immense character in grounds of around 6.5 to 7 acres (not yet checked or measured), now available on the open market for the first time in over 40 years.

Originally designed by the renowned architect Herbert Pool for his own occupation in circa 1935 and extended in the 1950s, the generous proportions of this home extend to about 4,600 sq. ft. with the added benefit of the principal rooms enjoying a southerly aspect over the beautiful grounds to the rear.

Within this significant space there is a self-contained wing with a potential family room / staff quarters.

This property is set in beautiful park like grounds, brushing shoulders with lovely Hampshire countryside and less than a mile from the picturesque village of Odiham, rich in period charm with local shops and restaurants.

property photo rear elevation

The impressive oak front doors open lead to a fine reception hall, where the main stairs lead to the first floor. There is an elegant drawing room with wonderful views over the grounds to the rear, a morning room which opens onto the terrace, a substantial dining room, a garden room, and a kitchen/breakfast room with a converted gas-fired four door AGA and electric Neff oven and Neff ceramic hob. There is a seating alcove. Beyond the kitchen there is a secondary staircase to the first floor. A door leads to the former servant’s quarters with a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom.

The master bedroom with triple aspect windows is approached past a dressing room with an extensive range of wardrobes. There are six further bedrooms, one of which is currently fitted as a study.

property for sale hall photo

In location terms this is special, and benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3 / M4 motorways, and of course towns such as Farnham, Reading, Guildford and Basingstoke. Odiham Common is nearby as well as some excellent walks into the adjoining countryside and along the Basingstoke Canal providing wonderful towpath walks.

Telephone 01256 704851 for more details or to a arrange a viewing.

Odiham High Street View
Photo by John Joe

Property for sale in Odiham preview

Property for sale in Hampshire.

If your leaving #London or any other city to escape to the country, then do take a look at this property preview of a character home set in rural Hampshire; due to the open market soon with an anticipated guide of £1.1m.

Located on the outskirts of Odiham Village and surrounded by open countryside, this is an attractive converted and extended former stables, which occupies a plot of approximately an acre.

The Stables was converted by the current owners 25 years ago, and the photos and video created by John Joe showcase this beautiful four bedroom detached family home which has an abundance of character throughout, including exposed beams and brickwork as well as wood burning stoves in both the main lounge and family room.

kitchen photo

Upon entering the property you are met by an entrance hall which provides access to the living room and family room, both of which are double aspect. At the back of the property is the spacious country fit open plan kitchen/dining/family room with double doors leading to an outside patio area and the generous grounds. There is also access to the downstairs cloakroom and separate utility/boot room with side access to the garden.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, with the master bedroom benefitting from an en-suite bathroom, and a family bathroom. All bedrooms have built in wardrobes and there is additional storage on the landing with a linen cupboard and space in the eaves.

The property is accessed via a double five bar gate which takes you through to the gravel driveway providing parking for a number of vehicles. There is also a detached double garage which has the added benefit of an office space on the first floor.

garden view

The private garden is mainly laid to lawn with a number of mature shrubs and trees, as well as an area of orchard. There is a large stone patio area, ideal for alfresco dining, which is the perfect place to take in the adjacent countryside views. Additionally there is a summer house and a shed that is located next to the greenhouse and vegetable patch.

Odiham is ideally located for access to London via Hook mainline station along with M3 access via junction 5. There are a number of shops and restaurants, a thriving cricket club and tennis club with excellent schools also on offer. Nearby towns such as Farnham, Fleet, Basingstoke and Reading are a short drive away and provide further shopping and recreational facilities.

Contact our Odiham branch on 01256 704851

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