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How do you convert a pub into a home?

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After the tumult of recent days, it’s probably time for a stiff drink — but if you’re hoping to find a pub to quench your thirst, you might be out of luck.

A century ago there were almost 100,000 pubs in England and Wales, but a new survey shows just 39,970 pubs operating in June this year, down by 7,000 since 2012. 

The Altus Group, a hospitality consultancy, says 400 pubs shut in 2021 and another 200 have gone so far this year.

Quirky: A converted pub, formally known as The Ship, in South Harting, West Sussex

Quirky: A converted pub, formally known as The Ship, in South Harting, West Sussex

‘While pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they’re now facing new headwinds grappling with the cost of doing business in a crisis through soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises,’ says Robert Hayton, head of Altus in the UK.

Some pubs have simply lost too much money, while others have been snapped up by the big corporate chains and then shut down to eliminate competition.

But there may be a silver lining.

Plenty of redundant pubs are being converted into unusual homes, often rich in character and steeped in history.

‘Pubs typically form the heart of a town or village which means that if they’re later converted, the resulting home is often in a highly sought-after central location,’ says Simon Backhouse of the Strutt & Parker estate agency.

‘Houses that were formerly pubs have fantastic selling points — for example, often a walled garden, architectural interest thanks to period features and, of course, a large cellar for a wine collection,’ he says.

Backhouse says ex-pubs are often large with open-plan ground floors and plenty of accommodation upstairs. But there are also downsides, whether you buy them ready to live in, or as a project to convert yourself.

The layout of the accommodation can be quite quirky, so they appeal to a limited market,’ says Kenrick Browne of high-end estate agency UK Sotheby’s International Realty.

Other experts believe the proportions and condition of most pubs are a disadvantage, too.

‘There will almost certainly be way too much car parking and too little garden,’ says James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search, a buying agency. 

‘Kitchens will be industrial and badly sited, and you’ll either have a bunch of small bedrooms with small bathrooms, or poky staff accommodation in the worst part of the property.

‘You’ll need a good architect and deep pockets, as the chances are you’ll need a complete refit and rearrangement.’

Yet if you do take the plunge, you will be in good company.

Veteran rock star Richard Thompson of the band Fairport Convention and comedian Harry Enfield have converted pubs in Hertfordshire and London respectively.

One converted public house currently on sale has a particularly spectacular history. Worked in by Jamie Oliver, The Cock Inn near Braintree in Essex has not only featured in the celebrity chef’s cooking shows but was also used for scenes in the BBC’s comedy drama Lovejoy in the 1990s.

It’s now a family house called Lime Tree Cottage and, according to agent Karl Manning of Savills, ‘sympathetically combines contemporary finishes and stylish new additions such as exposed chrome pipework and solid oak doors’.

That combination of old and new, found in many pub conversions, is part of the appeal of this kind of property.

But, of course, to get a conversion, a pub must shut — and that represents a community loss.

Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale Nik Antona, says: ‘Pubs are not only vital employers, but they are key to community life up and down the country — bringing people together and tackling loneliness and social isolation.’

CAMRA is calling on the Government to cut VAT on drink, review business rates for inns, and levy new taxes on online sales to level the playing field with pubs.

Who knows whether the new Chancellor will agree, but even if he doesn’t, it looks as if many pubs will at least live on as houses — and most of us will raise a glass to that.

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Bluewater grows its entertainment offer (GB)

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Landsec has announced the opening of a third ‘UK first’ attraction at Bluewater, Kent as the destination expands its partnership with Hangloose Adventures. Skydive, a free-fall experience not found anywhere else in Europe, and the UK’s only outdoor skydive machine has opened at the centre. It follows on from Europe’s biggest purpose-built giant swing, standing at 46-metre tall, which opened at Bluewater earlier this month.  

 

The announcement builds on a successful first year for Hangloose’s initial attraction Skywire, the longest zip wire in England, which has welcomed 30,000 guests since launching at Bluewater last June. Landsec will continue to work with Hangloose to expand its offering, with up to five more experiences set to open at the centre by 2024: a bungee tower, giant slide, clip and climb, waterdrop boulding wall, and Via Ferrata, a route-marked climb using metal rails and rungs embedded in Bluewater’s cliff walls.

 

Mark Warne, Brand Account Director F&B and Leisure at Landsec commented: “Delivering new experiences which are unique to Bluewater is central to our overall offer for guests. Hangloose’s innovative concept raises the bar when it comes to leisure attractions and draws guests from across the UK to Kent. By partnering with Hangloose to grow their business and create shared value, we’ll be able to give guests even more exciting experiences every time they visit.”

 

Brian Phelps, MD of Hangloose Adventure, said: “Since the beginning, we’ve worked closely with Landsec to grow our leisure concept and drive performance, putting us in a unique position where we’re able to expand our offer after only a year. We’ve enjoyed great success at Bluewater so far and are already thinking about how we can provide even bigger and better experiences in the future.”

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Author with immaculate house offers ten tips for a clean home

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Is this the secret to NEVER having to clean? Houseproud author claims she saves hours by sticking to a ten-step mantra – including banning chairs in bedrooms, wiping as you cook and only ironing shirts and dresses

  • UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply
  • She shared top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers
  • Among them are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom, not having a chair in the bedroom and cleaning  the kitchen while you cook

A houseproud author has revealed her ten essential tips for keeping a house spotless – saying simple ground rules for family members and cleaning as you go means never wasting time on dull chores. 

Writer Natali Juste Simmonds, who was born in the UK but now lives in the Netherlands, penned her top ways to keep on top of cleaning on Twitter, saying she has time to focus on her writing because she follows her own advice about dodging ‘thankless’ cleaning tasks. 

The author of a series of paranormal romance novels told her 20,000 followers on Twitter: ‘I know so many people who spend hours cleaning up after their family every day, but I refuse to. 

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UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she's cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules - and making sure family members comply

UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply

‘It’s boring and thankless. I prefer to write. Yet my house is spotless. Here are 10 ways to keep on top of s*** so you don’t have to clean for hours.’ 

Sharing her ‘tough love’ mantra, she said that the key to keeping a home clean is making sure every family member is engaged, saying learning how to tidy is a lifeskill that everyone needs – and no-one should get away with not doing it. 

Natali wrote: ‘Train everyone in the house to do the following (cats are the exception). After a while these habits will become routine, but you MUST stick to them and make sure no one is let off the hook.’ 

Among the tips are filling a bag with things that are in the wrong place at the end of every day and placing them back where they belong. 

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter - saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds' home)

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter – saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds’ home)

The writer also claims having a toilet brush doesn’t help keep a loo clean and dousing it with bleach instead is a more reliable way to ensure it’s sparkling. 

And getting used to wiping down mirrors after using a sink also helps, she claims, writing: ‘Keep a dry cloth next to the bathroom sink. Every time someone uses the taps or brushes their teeth, wipe down the counter and mirror. Takes literally 2 seconds. No cleaning toothpaste stains off counters.’

Teaching kids to pull their weight around the house is key to success, and equality reigns supreme in the Simmonds house. 

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom - using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom - to prevent people leaving clothes on them - and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds' very tidy office)

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom – using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom – to prevent people leaving clothes on them – and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds’ very tidy office)

‘If one kid lays the table, the other clears. If one hangs out the washing, the other collects. I don’t say “I need help with dinner” I say “who will chop the veg and who will wash up?” Its called a presumed close. I have no option, why should others in my house?’

The author, who has written books including the Indigo Chronicles trilogy and the Blood Web series, admits that having a cleaner is still useful…because they can help keep on top of areas where grime quickly builds, including fridges and ovens – but she suggests ditching a takeaway a week to cover the cost. 

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DIA Group closes 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal

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DIA Group has closed 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal, resulting in the loss of approximately 159 jobs. The retailer said the closures are the result of ‘the effort to adapt, modernise and balance the operations of DIA Portugal, with the aim of better preparing the company for current and future challenges arising from the current economic situation in the country,’ according to media reports. In the last two years, the multinational company operating in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and Argentina, accumulated losses of over €620m.

 

In Portugal, net sales reached €283.1m in the first half, 4.5% below the €296.3m generated in the same period last year, due to the reduction of stores and mobility restrictions. DIA Group confirmed its intention to continue to invest in Portugal. The company hopes to adjust its operation to the current reality in order to ensure the future success of the company.

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