Latest Video Tour Of Luxury Berkshire Property

The Property

This wonderful property is presented to an exceptional standard and provides around 4,000 sq. ft. of luxurious space, enclosed within distinctive architectural styling.

McCarthy Holden are renowned for producing high end video productions for special properties in and around Finchampstead Ridges near Wellington College, so it’s no surprise that this beautiful property got that special added marketing bonus.

There is hundreds of acres of National  Trust land on the doorstep of this property, providing access to wonderful woodland walks nearby, yet this location benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3 / M4 motorways, and of course towns such as Wokingham, Reading, Bracknell and Basingstoke.

Ground Floor

The impressive reception hall sets the scene for exploring this luxury property, with high specification indicators such as the French polished internal oak doors, skirtings, architraves and a bespoke oak staircase, French polished with handmade architectural metal balustrade.

Additional ground floor accommodation includes a significant kitchen/family/dining room, a fine living room, a dining room, sitting/tv family room, study, a substantial gym room, cloakroom and a utility room.

The Optiplan kitchen is complemented by a granite work surface, natural stone flooring and under cupboard and plinth lighting. Features and appliances include three  Villeroy and Boch white ceramic sinks, a Rangemaster Cooker with Extractor Hood, Samsung USA style Fridge/Freezer with ice and water, a Bosch fully integrated dishwasher and a Caple built in wine cooler. Best of all the stunning kitchen opens directly into a wonderful breakfast garden room with vaulted ceiling and the benefit of views over the grounds to the rear.

First Floor

On the first floor there is an impressive landing. There are five bedrooms, three with an en-suite.

The vast master bedroom suite benefits from a fine range of built in bedroom furniture with soft close doors with French polished wood finish. The luxurious en-suite bathroom and shower room features a distinctive Edwardian style bath tub, a shower cubicle, a wc, bidet and pedestal wash basin. The property benefits from heating by way of a gas fired condensing Worcester Bosch boiler, with radiators.


To the front of the property there is a sweeping driveway with two electronic gated entry / exit stations. To the rear of the property there is a vast natural stone patio leading to tree fringed formal gardens.


The property is located about 5 miles to the South West of the charming market town of Wokingham.  There is excellent schooling in the area including Holme Grange, Luckley House, Yateley Manor St Neots,, and Wellington College which is less than a mile away, Heathrow Airport is about 35 miles and Farnborough Airport is about 11 miles distant. Private aircraft facilities are also available at Blackbushe Airport (about 6 miles).

Contact our Hartley Wintney branch / Telephone 01252 842100 for further details.

Video Tour Of Period Property, New to The Market Today

This distinctive period property is a landmark Grade 11 Listed family home, known locally as The Cat, which offers a wealth of character which is equalled by the history surrounding the property.

The property went on sale today with the Odiham branch of McCarthy Holden, who created a presenter lead video to showcase this fine home.

Accommodation is generous and offers four double bedrooms, plus two bonus rooms on the second floor, four well sized reception rooms and a kitchen with separate utility room. Outside the garden wraps round the house and offers a large patio area with historic well, vegetable beds and various flower and shrub beds. There is a large wooden workshop with double door access for vehicle access. There is a detached  double garage power and light and workbench.

There is access to wonderful walks nearby including along the Basingstoke canal, yet this location benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3  motorway, and of course towns such as Farnham, Reading, and Basingstoke.

 The downstairs accommodation offers flexible use and is currently set up to offer a dining room (a dual aspect room with door leading into the garden, inglenook fireplace with beam over, beams to ceiling) a snug with fireplace and log burner, a study, a sitting / living room (in the oldest part of the property with a wealth of character features including exposed beams and a charming fireplace), a farmhouse style fitted kitchen with Aga and a utility room with cloakroom and w.c.

 The upstairs accommodation is generous and well laid out, with the master bedroom benefiting from an adjacent en-suite shower room. There are four spacious double bedrooms, all with built in wardrobes. There is a family bathroom on the first floor. In addition, there are two bonus rooms on the second floor which have been used as bedrooms from time to time. Through half of the first floor are stunning wide elm floorboards and exposed beams to wall and ceiling.

North Warnborough is an area that was held by King Harold before the Norman invasion of 1066, and today, North Warnborough consists of a conservation area, bounded by Mill Corner in the north and The Street in the south. Most of the village’s 40 listed buildings lie within the conservation area. The Cat is in the centre of the conservation area and is within close proximity of The Millhouse and North Warnborough Green which has the ford and gives access to the canal and extensive walks.

The property is located about mile from the charming village of Odiham. There is excellent schooling in the area including Mayhill, Buryfields and Robert May’s.

Contact McCarthy Holden in Odiham to view – by phone 01256 704851

Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Home Office

Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Home OfficeA calm and stylish space can boost productivity and look good, as entrepreneur Liz Earle tells Gabrielle Fagan.

Millions of us now spending some, if not all, of our time working from home. And one of the joys of working in your own space is that you’re the boss when it comes to design and ambience – so you can escape dull desks and bland decor and kit out your own personalised sanctuary to suit your taste.

Entrepreneur and beauty and wellbeing expert, Liz Earle, has teamed up with blinds and curtain specialist Hillarys (, to reveal her own home office and simple but effective tips to help you conjure a stylish work area of your own, where you can be happy as well as productive.

“It’s a quick and easy strategy for creating the perfect space, or could be used for an existing office makeover, which could be just what you need to reinvigorate your home-working life,” enthuses mother-of-five Earle, 54, who lives on a farm in the West Country. “There’s undoubtedly a whole host of benefits to home-working, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective, whether that’s because you’re escaping the daily commute or because you’re able to spend more time with the family.”

Read on to discover Earle’s approach for creating a calm and stylish home office…

1. Work with the light

“Put your desk in front of a window; plenty of natural light is the holy grail, as it’s known to significantly help increase energy, creativity and productivity,” advises Earle. “Wood or faux wood Venetian blinds are perfect for home office windows as they filter light, which will minimise glare on a computer screen and the slats can be adjusted to control light levels when the sun moves round during the day. Go for function but don’t forget about style. Roman blinds soften the look, and a pretty botanical fabric brings a lovely feel of nature into the room.”

Make your office more eco-friendly2. Make an eco desk choice

“Make your office more eco-friendly with a desk made from reclaimed scaffolding boards and simple trestle legs,” Earle suggests. “Scaffolding boards can be picked up cheaply from a salvage yard, and the beauty of doing this is that you can design your desk according to your space and needs. Make sure there’s room for a task light and desk accessories.”

3. Invest in a great chair

“As tempting as it sounds, dragging a chair from the dining room or a stool from the kitchen is a false economy,” Earle warns. “An ergonomically designed chair may not give you the designer feel you had in mind – but your back will thank you for it!  You can always pretty it up with a cosy sheepskin or throw.

“Don’t hunch over a laptop – set up a computer monitor at eye level and use a separate keyboard, ergonomic mouse or track pad. Rest forearms on the desk while typing and invest in a simple foot rest to ensure you sit with legs at a comfortable 90-degree angle to the floor.”

TIP: Try to do simple stretches and strength moves regularly throughout the day. You don’t necessarily need equipment – try out chair yoga which can be done while seated.

4. Get crafty with accessories

“It needn’t cost the earth to decorate your office. Charity shops and car-boot sales are perfect hunting grounds for quirky, vintage pieces, or you could indulge in some DIY creativity,” says Earle. “Cover plain cardboard box files with wallpaper or fabric for a fabulous bespoke look. A pin-board, made from a wooden picture frame, foam and fabric, is a great way to display photos, to-do lists or other information you want to see at a glance.”

TIP: Schedule things in your diary that make you happy, not just work tasks.

5. Bring nature into your space

“It’s been proven that plants in the workplace can reduce stress levels and increase productivity,” Earle points out. “Aside from these health benefits, plants are a cheap and cheerful way to add decoration and bring the outdoors in. I opt for green, leafy plants like ferns or ivy, avoiding cacti whose spikes can create the opposite of a relaxed feeling, or flowers with a strong scent, which can be distracting or irritating.” And if caring for real plants doesn’t quite work out for you, there are great faux options available these days, so you can still get that calming, leafy look.

Whether selling or letting, at McCarthy Holden we see first hand how much demand there is from home buyers to find that perfect home working space6. Conceal the clutter

“But remember, the more stuff you add to your desk, the more your brain has to keep track of,” adds Earle. “Working in a crowded space can be mentally exhausting and distracting, even if you don’t realise it. Get creative with storage. I’ve used soft, floaty voile curtains to disguise a shelving unit.”

7. Create an uplifting display

Finally, treasured photos that spark joy, and meaningful sayings to keep motivation levels up, make an ideal finishing touch. “Pictures and photographs can be a great way to inspire creativity and a feeling of wellness,” says Earle. “Pick out three or four that are significant to you and make sure those are in your view.”


Whether selling or letting, at McCarthy Holden we see first hand how much demand there is from home buyers to find that perfect home working space, and top tips numbers one, six and seven are spot on, perhaps with the addition of inviting your favourite cat or dog into the highly productivity space.


Small Spaces Big Ideas: 7 Secrets For Making The Most Of Every Inch

Small Spaces Big Ideas

Interior designers and award-winning bloggers, Athena Bluff and Amy Brandhorst from Topology (, have joined forces with Habitat, in a mission to help the nation maximise the space in their homes.

While there’s nothing anyone can do about the bricks and mortar and actual dimensions of your property you live in, their seven home hacks could help you make the best of the space available, meaning rooms feel larger.

Read on for their space-enhancing secrets…

Hack #1: Shine a light

“Ensure you have multiple light sources within a room to maximise light at night,” says Bluff. “You should aim to have around six light sources around the room, which will ‘replace’ natural daylight and allow light to flow through the space. Enhance the effect with mirrored surfaces, which will bounce light around. Those and metallics, which  reflect warm light,  will create a sense of more space.”

Hack #2: Be free with flooring

“An easy trick for floors to is to continue the hallway flooring into your small room. Creating a visually unbroken flow of space will make it appear as though it’s one big area, and creates an illusion that the floor is expanding,” points out Bluff.

Hack #3: Create colour harmony

“Try painting walls, skirting boards and door frames all the same colour. Painting them different colours can actually break up a space and emphasise the shape and (small) size of the room,” says Brandhorst.”If they’re all the same colour, they’ll blend into one and make the room appear bigger.”

Create colour harmony

Hack #4: Make a great reflection

“Hang a mirror opposite a window. It’s simple but extremely effective – both in terms of cost and visual impact,” suggests Brandhorst. “The mirror will reflect natural light and instantly brighten up your space, as well as making it appear larger. If you’re feeling creative, play around with different shapes or multiple mirrors to reflect as much light as possible. More light equals more sense of space.”

Hack #5:  Choose multi-functional furniture

“Opt for dual usage furniture that can be folded or expanded to suit your needs,” says Bluff. “If there’s only two of you most evenings, opt for a folding table which, with an extension, turns into a four-person dining table for entertaining. Check out sofa bed options, which can easily turn a sitting room into bedroom for guests. Always consider storage in items like ottomans, pouffes, trunks, coffee tables. If there’s a design that also hides clutter (the enemy of small spaces), choose it!”

Hack #6: Embrace the dark side

“This is one for the brave! Don’t be afraid of going dark in small spaces,” advises Bluff. “It may sound counter-intuitive, but dark shades – navy and grey – can actually disguise the perimeters of a room and blur boundaries which extend the space, so don’t feel you can only use ‘Brilliant White’ to achieve a sense of more space. Walk on the dark side – trust us, it works!”

Hack #7: Work the walls

“As you don’t have a lot of floor space to play with, think upwards and make use of walls instead,” advises Brandhorst. “Floating shelves, clothes hooks, wall-mounted magazine racks and bike hooks will allow you to store things like folding chairs, or display belongings without cluttering the floor. Make use of dead space, such as corners, and have wall-mounted shelves.”

Athina Bluff and Amy Brandhorst of Topology Interiors will be hosting special workshops at Habitat’s Tottenham Court Road store in London on February 24. For tickets, further hacks and inspiration, visit

U.K. Manufacturing Industry Delivers ‘solid’ Growth In December

manufacturing up

Activity in Britain’s manufacturing sector has eased from a near four-and-a-half-year high, but still stumped up “solid” output and order growth in December.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 56.3 last month, down from 58.2 in November, with economists expecting a figure of 57.9. A reading above 50 indicates growth. While output levels from consumer goods producers rolled back, intermediate and investment goods motored ahead thanks to rising demand from overseas.

UK producers enjoyed a healthy appetite from Europe, China, the Middle East and America, helping to drive a further rise in employment.

It means the anufacturing industry churned out an average reading of 57 for final three months of the year – its best performance since the second quarter of 2014. Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said UK manufacturing ended the year on a positive footing.

He said: “Although growth of output and new orders moderated during December, rates of expansion remained comfortably above long-term trend rates. “The sector has therefore broadly maintained its solid boost to broader economic expansion in the fourth quarter. “The outlook is also reasonably bright, with over 50% of companies expecting production to be higher one year from now. “The main growth engines were the intermediate and investment goods sectors during December, suggesting resilient business-to-business demand and capital spending trends, albeit in part due to rising exports.”

Firms were also given a helping hand after input costs rose at the slowest rate for four months. Chemicals, electrical goods, metals and paper were among the products becoming more expensive. Despite sterling’s Brexit-induced slump keeping costs high, around 54% of firms are pencilling in a rise in production for the year ahead.

Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief UK economist, said the manufacturing industry will struggle to maintain momentum this year. He said: “UK manufacturers have cut investment since the Brexit vote and are struggling to find skilled workers. As result, work backlogs are increasing quickly and supply chain delays are worsening.

“These constraints will only worsen as the recovery continues, unless manufacturers suddenly ramp up investment. “Meanwhile, the recent rally in oil prices – to 67 US dollars, from just 50 US dollar six months ago – which has been driven by OPEC supply curbs and tensions in Iran, has darkened the outlook for low value-added production. “Accordingly, we expect the recovery in the manufacturing sector to lose its current vitality soon.”

The pound was 0.3% up against the US dollar at 1.35 following the update, and 0.3% lower versus the euro at 1.12. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed last month that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4% in its final reading for July to September this year, rising from 0.3% in the first and second quarters.

However, the UK economy is still struggling to bounce back to levels seen in the final quarter of 2016 – when GDP rose by 0.6%. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to EY ITEM Club, said: “With December and November surveys from both the purchasing managers and the CBI also robust, the manufacturing sector looks likely to have produced another robust performance in the fourth quarter after expanding 1.3% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter.”

Stamp Duty – A Massive Missed Opportunity on Budget Day

Flagship Budget changes to help young people get onto the property ladder will mainly benefit people who already own homes by forcing up purchase prices, the official economic watchdog has warned.

McCarthy Holden also believe the measures announced today missed an opportunity to improve house availability supply in the short term, by not addressing wider stamp duty changes designed to improve mobility and increase choice and supply.

“The missed opportunity on the stamp duty front is directly linked to the weakness of this Government,” according to John Holden Chairman of McCarthy Holden, “and the mid to top end property sectors are long overdue a stamp duty reduction since the disastrous hike in the stamp levy on larger properties by George Osborne”

“Ever since Osborne significantly increased house purchase stamp duty on more expensive properties, especially over £2.0m., this sector stagnated, tax revenue fell and buyers motivations to move hit rock bottom, which in turn has impacted directly on availability of housing stock. It’s obvious that if there is a healthy top end with motivated sellers and buyer this will feed into the mid to lower end sectors because buyers will have the motivation to move and the supply side of property will increase.”

“Politically Hammond was weak,” continues Holden, “because he didn’t have the resolve to stand up to the inevitable Jeremy Corbyn stance to a reduction in top end stamp duty, however the prospect of a looking after the rich accusation by Corbyn should have been faced down in the greater interest of achieving a supply side and mobility gain with the prospect of increased tax revenue” concluded Holden.

Today Chancellor Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000 as part of a giveaway Budget package which pumped an additional £25 billion into priorities like housing, infrastructure and the NHS in a bid to build “a Britain fit for the future”.

But the Office for Budget Responsibility took the shine off the move – which the Treasury says will benefit a million home-hunters by an average £1,660 over five years – by predicting it will push up prices by around 0.3%, leaving many first-time buyers paying more than they would have done without the relief. Forecasting that the change, estimated to cost more than £3 billion by 2022/23, will result in as few as 3,500 additional home purchases a year, the OBR said: “The main gainers from the policy are people who already own property, not the first-time buyers themselves.”

Treasury sources insisted that the measure, which will also apply to the first £300,000 of homes worth up to half a million pounds, would be a welcome boost to first-time buyers, with 95% seeing a cut in the amount of stamp duty paid and 80% paying none at all.

Despite the tight economic backdrop, Mr Hammond announced significant investments including: An additional £15 billion for housing in a bid to reach the target of building 300,000 extra new homes a year by the mid-2020s, an extra £7.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years and another £3 billion to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

So you’re just about to become a first time landlord?

How choosing the wrong letting agent will make you cry…

It happens more often than you think.You might get a new job offer that’s too good to turn down, you may decide to move in with your partner or you may just fancy a change of scenery and take some time out traveling.

The thing is, what do you do with your home? You could sell it, and reinvest the money, although returns on most things are very poor nowadays, as well as taking on a large amount of risk. So why not keep it?

If you keep it, you can either leave it sat empty and have a friend or family member check on it every once and a while, or you could let it out and hopefully make additional income along the way.

This is where doubts start to creep in…this is where becoming a first time landlord really can start you off worrying about your home that you have painstakingly improved and maintained over the years. There are so many horror stories about people renting out their homes from tenants not paying the bills, blocking the drains, decorating in unsuitable colours to running illegal ‘so-called businesses’. The problem is that a lot of dysfunctional, criminal, deranged or antisocial people can, when the occasion demands, give an impression of being an upstanding trustworthy member of society.

Unfortunately, without carrying out the right checks and trying to mitigate the risk as much as possible you may find, to your cost, that you end up with an unsavory character renting out your home.

Even if you do carry out the right checks, there is always the chance of things going wrong …way into the time scale of the tenancy. For example, what happens if the tenant stops paying, for no apparent reason? This can really start to cause cash flow issues.

There are also the legal obligations of being a landlord. Falling foul of the law can end up costing you an awful lot of money. For example, failure to comply with gas safety regulations could lead to prosecution and/or imprisonment with fines up to £25,000. Then, of course, there is the legal requirement to put your tenant’s deposit into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) See details about ‘Tenancy deposit protection’ on the UK Gov. website.

So the choice is yours… do it yourself or bring in a Letting Agent to help you.

So what should you really be looking out for in a lettings agency?

There are a few things that your letting agent must cover without a shadow of a doubt. If they can’t help you with these five things…then stay well clear.

  • Processes and measures in place for finding the right tenants
  • Health and Safety – complying with the law
  • Optimising rental income
  • Tenancy deposit scheme
  • Comprehensive tenancy agreement

Choose a letting agent who is a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), or one of the professional bodies that support it.

– The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA/Property Mark)

– The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

– The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)

Level of service
Can the agent offer you different levels of service, from full management to just finding a tenant, depending on your requirements?

Do they have professional indemnity insurance?
This will cover the letting agent against the possibility of being sued. Do they also have a client money protection policy in place

Tenancy deposit scheme (TDS)
Can the letting agent deal with this for you? If so, check that the scheme they belong is a government-backed reputable scheme.

Ongoing support
Does the agency undertake regular property visits to check up on the state of the property and the wellbeing of your tenants?
Is there an emergency maintenance out of hours contact number available?

These are just a few of the things you should consider when renting out your home for the first time. However, there is nothing like meeting up with the letting agent, to see what they are like in person. Do they get on with you, how helpful do they seem? How knowledgeable are the staff, and are they continuously being trained (CPD courses) on the latest legislation for example.

Also, check out a post by ARLA on “How to find a good Letting Agent”

Gardening Delight in Autumn Harvest and Apples

At McCarthy Holden we know the added value that comes with a beautiful and productive garden, so top tips from gardening expert are worth having…..


As fruit-lovers celebrate harvest with Apple Days this month, Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don offers tips on how to grow them.Monty Don loves apples. He has around 60 different types at his garden in Longmeadow, Herefordshire, growing in various forms – some are big trees, others stepovers, or smaller trees.

They are among the most popular fruits in this country and yet people have a fear about growing apples, says Monty in his latest book, Down To Earth.

“They somehow feel it has to be a big tree, but it doesn’t. You can grow stepovers or espaliers, you can grow fans or cordons. You can train the fruit to fit your space,” he explains.”People also get very worried about what are actually quite trivial afflictions. It could be a bit of mould on a leaf or a bit of bitter pit in the apple, but by and large apple trees are robust. They don’t need much looking after.”

Some people are also confused by rootstocks, he observes. “It’s moderately complex because all apples are grown on a different rootstock, so the roots of one tree are joined at the graft to the trunk and branches of another tree. The root dictates the size and vigour and shape of the tree, and the bit above the root dictates the fruit.

“So you could have my favourite eating apple, Jupiter, as a dwarf, a cordon or a great big tree, but you’d need a different rootstock for each of them.

“All you need to know is, I want it to be this big, my garden is this size, what rootstock do you have? And a good garden centre should be able to tell you.”

Monty’s tips for apple-growing beginners

1. Find a sunny spot – Apple trees need sunshine and good drainage. Don’t grow grass right up around them. Clear the grass for at least a 1m radius around them until the trees are as big as you want them to be, then you can let the grass grow back up to the trunk. Grass will take a lot of moisture and nutrients they need.

2. Plant more than one – “Some apples are self-pollinating, but you should always plant more than one. There are eight groups of apples, which are numbered solely on when they produce their flowers. Number one is the first to blossom, and number eight the last. “If you have two apples, one from group one and one from group eight, they won’t blossom at the same time and if they don’t blossom at the same time, they can’t cross pollinate. Either have two of the same group or one from either side, so if you have a group three apple, you should either have another from group three or one from group two or one from group four.

“The earliest apples start blossoming at the beginning of April and the latest blossom at the end of May, but the flowers have to be open at the same time to pollinate.”

3. Learn how to plant new trees – “Dig a wide hole no more than one spade’s depth deep, loosen the hole and the sides, but don’t add manure or compost. “Plant the tree slightly higher than it is in the pot or, if it’s bare-rooted, slightly above soil level, so it’s on a tiny pyramid. Firm it in well, so it’s planted in a slight cone, not a well, because more trees die from being over-wet than too dry. “Water it well, stake it and mulch it thickly with either garden compost or wood chippings, to keep the weeds down and the moisture in. You don’t add compost to the hole because you want the roots to grow out into the soil. If you put compost into the hole, the roots will stay and curl around and become almost pot-bound. Roots need to grow horizontally as quickly as possible. “Most feeding roots are within a spade’s depth and horizontal. They don’t go down, they go sideways.”

4. Know when to prune – “If you prune hard in winter, you will get lots of shoots coming back and none of those shoots will have any fruit on them. If you want to reduce the size of the apple tree, do it in summer. If you want to stimulate it to grow bigger, do it in winter. “Almost all apples produce their fruit on spurs and the spurs only develop on wood when it gets to two or three years old.”

5. Get inspired about varieties at Apple Days – “My advice is to go and taste as many different varieties as possible, see what they look like. Use it as an experience to extend your knowledge about what apples look and taste like. When you go to the supermarket, you’re just not going to have that opportunity. Then, if you find an apple you really like that you can’t buy in a supermarket, that’s the one to grow.”

Down To Earth by Monty Don is published by DK, priced £17.99. Available now.

To start your search for a property with a perfect garden just click here

Happy Home Recipe


The 82-year-old reveals 10 favourite household tips in her new book, Mary’s Household Tips & Tricks – Your Guide To Happiness In The Home.

“My focus may have been on cooking, but it’s always centred on the home. In my books and TV programmes, I’m always keen on sharing tips to help people,” says the cook.

“This book’s not about creating more work, or telling people what to do, it’s just passing on a collection of tips, things I learnt from my mother, my own ideas gleaned from years of practical experience, as well as helpful hints from friends and family.

“Home should be a place where, if you have a family, they want to visit and can come in and instantly relax,” Mary adds. “We’re very lucky – my husband and I have been married 50 years and don’t really argue – life’s too short. Never let the sun go down on a row is our motto.

“The one thing Paul and I really disagree about is how the house is decorated,” she says. “My husband likes the style he grew up, which isn’t exactly mine! For example, I’ve got tie backs on the curtains, but if I go away, he removes all the tie backs and puts them away in the cupboard. Similarly, he’ll move cushions he dislikes out of sight. Then gradually I put them all back again. It’s a farce really!

“Our kitchen is a practical, attractive space where everyone tends to congregate – family, friends and our two dogs – and where all the decisions are made,” reveals Mary.

“I have collections displayed, from china hens to vintage christening mugs. There are all sorts of easy tricks to making a space more practical. For instance, if you have good quality cupboard doors, fixing spice racks to the back of them is very useful. That’s the perfect dark place to store them, because light causes spices to fade and lose flavour.”

Here are Mary’s top tips:

1. Sort it out

“My house is tidy but definitely not immaculate! I like to keep on top of things though, so every so often I’ll sort out the chaos in my wardrobe and clear out some clothes. I also clean out kitchen cupboards and drawers every six months – I empty them, use a clean cloth and hot soapy water to wash all surfaces, and dry thoroughly. I’d suggest lining pan drawers with ridged rubber matting (available from online catering companies).”

2. Iron candle wax off a carpet

If wax has got onto a wool carpet, place kitchen roll or grease proof paper on top of the affected area, then iron it. The wax will melt and stick to the paper. (Take care with synthetic carpets as they don’t take well to heat!)

3. Clean your machines

To clean a dishwasher, run a wash with white vinegar. Use around 250ml placed in a container on the bottom rack – just run a normal cycle and it will be like a new machine. For the washing machine, run an empty cycle to clear the drum, and add a cut lemon to a short empty cycle, to keep the machine fresh. To pep up your microwave, put a cut lemon in a bowl of water and microwave on full power for one minute – condensation will release stains around the sides and make it easy to wipe clean.

4. Use nuts to help fade furniture scratches

Break an oily nut – such as a walnut – in half, and rub the exposed area over scratches in the wood. The oil of the nut should help them to fade and appear less noticeable.

5. Steam clean your floors

“I use a steam mop to clean my tiled floors and I don’t think it’s too much to say that it’s changed our lives. Steam mops are quick to heat up, can be used on any sealed floor surface, and the reusable micro fibre pad collects dirt with minimum effort,” advises Mary.

6. Wear rubber gloves and get stuck in to properly clean a toilet

To remove hard water and limescale toilet stains, wear rubber gloves, flush the cistern and remove a mugful of water from the bowl – I use a tin mug – so you can see the rim of the limescale line clearly.While the water level is low, pour or spray the loo cleaner around the limescale in the bowl. Make sure you get the product around the top and where water drips down the back of the bowl too. Leave for 30 minutes (or according to the product instructions), then rub with a fine scourer or brush. Pour the water in mug back into bowl, then brush and flush the cistern again.

7. Use onions to rid paint smells

If you have newly-painted walls, counteract the smell by cutting two onions into quarters and leaving them cut up on a plate overnight.

8. Protect the floor when you’re partying

Protect carpet if you’re having a party by using rolls of polythene film, used by builders to protect flooring. Make sure you buy the appropriate film for the floor surface – the one for carpet shouldn’t be used on hard flooring.

9. Keep flowers looking and smelling amazing

When putting cut flowers in a vase, remove any leaves which come below the water, otherwise they’ll make it turn green and smell. To clean irregularly shaped vases or containers, use a handful of rice and a good glug of white vinegar. Swirl around briskly, so the rice can clean corners, before rinsing and drying.

10. Clean windows the old-school way

“A half and half mixture of vinegar and water is a traditional window-cleaning solution and an alternative to chemical sprays. Alternatively, use a window/glass-cleaning spray and a micro fibre cloth, which won’t leave bits of lint on the surface.

Mary’s Household Tips & Tricks by Mary Berry, is published by Michael Joseph, £20.00.

The new bathroom rules

There’s a new wave of styles washing over bathrooms. The tide’s turning against the predictable, and embracing a more go-with-the-flow approach means you can mix-and-match furniture and fittings to conjure a space that perfectly suits your taste, as well as your practical needs, whether it’s a spa-like haven, a functional family room, or a contemporary wet room.

As designers become more adventurous, sophistication, glamour and individuality rule. And it’s easy to achieve a ‘wow’ factor, thanks to state-of-the-art technology – think TVs, sound systems and light and water shows in the shower – sculptural sanitary ware, and even stunning waterproof wallpaper now vying with tiles for attention.

“The traditional bathroom suite has become outdated and there’s a desire for the space to become customised, with people seeing it as a room where they can display individual pieces, as they would art,” says Leanne Martin, head of product at Sottini.

“A strong industrial trend is coming through, with steel-effect wall-hung cabinets complemented by sleek brassware and fresh white walls for an efficient, sleek look. Bathroom units raised off the floor, increasing visible floor space, to create an illusion of a larger room, are starring, and a particularly striking ‘floating’ effect can be achieved, with wall-hung, chunky, unsupported slabs in gloss or wood grain, and slim, curved vessel basins on top.”

“If you don’t want to reach out and touch the walls, you’re not doing it right for 2017. Bathrooms no longer mean matching tiles as far as the eye can see – as a nation, we’ve become experimental with wall finishes and shrugged off the constraints of the white bathroom tile,” says Martin.

“Industrial concrete walls are being paired with textured wallpapers, while tile effects are being created using countless different sizes, shapes, prints and texture options. Even a retro wood finish has made a comeback for a Scandi-chic style statement, and for the really bold, vertical green, living walls, to give a lush 3D impact you can’t beat!”

Water, she points out, is a feature in itself. “It’s not enough that it drains down a plughole any more. It’s all about the spectacle of how it falls in a waterfall-like sheet from a height and disappears out of sight into concealed drainage.”

Why not start your property search and find the perfect home with a wow factor bathroom or soak up inspiration from some of the other inspiring bathroom ideas noticed by McCarthy Holden include the following.

[Photo of Madeira Cast Iron Double Ended Bath, from £3,750; Hemsby Floor Standing Bath Shower Mixer, from £1,272; Abingdon Basin and Washstand in Rose Gold, from £495; Chesham Mirror in Stone Black, from 425, all available from Heritage Bathrooms (prices at time of going to press may vary) Picture PA Photo.]

[Photo of Bonamico 70cm vessel basin, £341.55; Paglia wall mounted basin mixer, £218.21, all available from Sottini (prices at time of going to press may vary). PA Photo.]

[The Gold Kartell by Laufen All Saints mirror, £504.62, Gold Kartell by Laufen ‘Rifly’ pendant lamp, £335.27 and the Boutique Dark Oak Vanity Unit, £1,522.50, all available from (prices at time of going to press may vary) Picture PA Photo.]

[Ombrone Totem basin, £1,190.25; Ciane wall mounted basin mixer, £250.13, both available from Sottini (prices at time of going to press may vary). Picture PA Photo.]
[Bubbles bath, £29,310; Polished carved cast brass free standing wash basin, £13,470; Crescent Mirror, £4,890, available from Touched Interiors (prices at time of going to press may vary). Picture PA Photo.]