Tag Archives: London

Property trends 2016

Last year’s housing market was shaped by optimism – house prices rose by 5.6 per cent nationally (10.6 in London), and above the 2007 peak for the first time, to reach new record levels (£186,350 nationally, and £503,431 in London), encouraging developers to build more homes and councils to approve record levels of new developments.

 

Helios Top View

But it was also one of despair for many, as record numbers of potential buyers and middle-class families gave up on their dream of owning a home. New research from the Bank of England revealed that half of families who don’t own a home never think that they will – that’s some 4.5million households. The rate of home ownership has fallen from 73 per cent in 2007 to 65 per cent today.

And next year? Recognising the crisis, the government used its Autumn Statement to announce a raft of new measures to try and increase the amount of new homes being built, and to help first-time buyers even more. But the pressure on supply is still likely to keep pushing up prices – at least until interest rates start to rise and push up mortgage costs, which is predicted to happen by the end of the year. So if you have a home, sort out your five-year fixed-rate deal now, and if you’re thinking of buying, get in before those rates rise.

New hot spots to watch out for

Agents are tipping Victoria as a new ‘prime’ location thanks to its proximity to landmarks like Buckingham Palace.

Likewise, The Lancasters in Bayswater redefined W2, doubling values achieved north of Hyde Park for the first time in 2015.

“At the moment, a similar sort of thing is happening in Marylebone with The Chilterns development – upcoming luxury schemes in Nine Elms and Liverpool Street look set to have the same effect in other parts of the capital,” says Charlie Willis, Head of London Residential at Strutt & Parker

Other areas of growth will be in Fitzrovia and Kings Cross ,which are rapidly changing out of all recognition, tips Andrew Ellinas, Director at Sandfords.

“In terms of potential hotspots for 2016, we predict that outer London areas will continue to rise more rapidly than prime markets as buyers continue to look for value and investors for better yields. Areas such as East London, Canary Wharf, Camden, Islington, and new markets like Croydon will all outperform prime. Additionally, overlooked parts of the capital, such as Tooting and Streatham in south London, are expected to become more popular,” suggests Camilla Dell, Managing Partner at property buying agency, Black Brick.

Last year Walthan Forest and Lewisham were London’s best performing boroughs for rising prices, because they were comparatively so affordable to start with – we expect first-time buyers to continue to look further out in zones three and four for better value, as well as areas on the edge of zone one that offer better value, such as Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall, and Pimlico.

The Crossrail effect will also start to kick in – places you’ve never heard of, like Shenfield and Abbey Wood, will suddenly be worth considering once the high-speed rail connection becomes a reality.

 

Developments to watch for 2016

 

The Stage – A new Shakespeare museum, his original theatre dug our from the mud, and new homes and the first designer shops in Shoreditch, this development will mark Shoreditch’s coming of age.

 Dusk View

Television Centre – Stanhope’s development of the iconic BBC Television Centre in White City will launch in April 2016, reviving a huge area of west London.

 

Chelsea Barracks – the first phase of this long-awaited £3billion super-prime development on Chelsea Bridge Road launches this year, with apartments and a café designed by Squire and Partners.

 

Old Oak Park – if you’ve ever been to Car Giant in London, you’ll know it’s vast. Now try to picture it without all of the cars… The canalside site will be transformed into hundreds of new homes, restaurants, shops and even a new tube station, with Crossrail nearby.

 

Chelsea Waterfont – this vast new development centred around a Victorian power station will link up the hinterland between the Kings Road and Chelsea Wharf and includes residential, retail, restaurants and new parks.

 

Greenwich Peninsula – There’s been plenty of hype about Nine Elms, but not much chatter about Greenwich Peninsula, which will offer almost as many homes (15,000), waterfront bars, restaurants and shops, and a mini Southbank for south-east London, all just one tube stop from Canary Wharf.

Chelsea Waterfront CGI

GOING UP

Mortgage rates – the Fed has put up the interest rate in the US for the first time since the crisis, will the Bank of England follow suit? We think so.

House prices – in 2015 average house prices in London broke through the £500,000 barrier for the first time. We can’t see demand fading, although prices are reaching unsustainable levels, which will reduce the amount of potential buyers, causing the rate of growth to slow – especially if interest rates rise.

The study – thanks to the internet more of us are working from home, so a dedicated work space is now a must, developers are only just waking up to the fact that everyone has a computer, printer and scanner, and we need a space for them.

First-time buyers – The government has introduced even more new measures to try and help new buyers into the ladder – a 20 per cent discount for first-timers buying below £450,000 in London; doubling the value of Help to Buy to a 40 per cent equity loan in the capital; increasing shared ownership, and a new Help to Buy ISA, plus and increase in the amount of 95 per cent mortgages will all help to get more new buyers into their own homes this year. 

Garden and outdoor rooms – Any outdoor space is a precious commodity and more of us are turning our gardens into “outdoor rooms” with elaborate kitchens and furniture, and installing posh sheds and studios to extend our homes outwards without the cost of moving or building an extension.

Rented, reinvented – The PRS – or private rental sector – is one of the fastest growing new-build areas as developers realize that young people who cannot buy will pay for quality, new-build, long-term rental properties. The developer not only gets the capital gain of the property, but a steady rental income, while tenants can expect a higher standard and quality of contract, including integrated broadband and Sky TV, longer tenancies, and concierges to manage buildings, maintenance and collect those ASOS packages while you’re out.

Broken plan – think nooks for teenagers to sit with their iPads in, while the rest of the family watch TV, and break-out spaces for toys or work.

Swimming pools – going up in every sense! Swimming at altitude looks set to become a new London trend with rooftop pools, panoramic 24th floor pools, and even a suspended swimming pool bridge all being built into new schemes.

 

GOING DOWN

The dining room – admit it, in real life you eat your supper on your lap watching Masterchef.

Open plan – so you really want to eat curry in the same room as you dry your washing or to try and focus on work at the table while your other half watches the footy?

Buy to let – new rules on stamp duty and tax relief from George Osborne have been designed to make it less appealing, which could be good news for first-time buyers, who are often beaten to affordable homes buy investors.

Grey – There’s a certain developer look to new build homes – gloss kitchens, grey walls, white bathrooms and metro tiles – that’s getting a bit tired. Buyer are bored of bland and searching for something more personal and localised, expect a rise of British interiors, craftsmanship, and homes and interiors inspired by their surroundings and the history of the site or area.

Technology – super whizzy, remote-controlled properties that are all bling and completely confusing are seeing a backlash from buyers, who’d rather install their own tech systems or enjoy a more simplified home. Too many switches and controls add up to high maintenance and ‘messy’ walls cluttered with control panels.

Luxury buyers – almost all agents agree that the top of the housing market could falter in 2016 as new changes to stamp duty will make people think twice about buying in the £2-5million bracket.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 13.23.38

 

ALISON TYLER

 

 

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 In praise of church conversions

 

Church conversions offer heavenly architectural features, soaring heights and quirky contemporary living spaces – usually at the heart of a community

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.07

It’s not just buyers that love a church conversion, for developers they are a dream project, the chance to create a landmark residence, with unique living spaces. But taking on the double-height windows, crumbling spires, and leaking lead roofs is not a job for the feint-hearted, and it takes an experienced architect to sensitively configure the space. There is little more depressing than a badly converted church. Get it right though, and the results are remarkable.

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The 19th-century Saint Paul’s Church in Battersea was in a sorry state when developer Nick Laurence spotted it in 2013, but given the how rarely they come to market he jumped at the chance to buy it. “I was captivated by its potential and I could see that we could retain the church’s originality and ecclesiastical architecture, yet make intelligent adaptations to the existing structure and layout,” explains Laurence.

Today, the outside of the church looks much the same, although there’s a new roof that Laurence’s team travelled the country to source and completely reconditioned stained glass windows – but inside it has been divided in to four completely bespoke apartments across three new floors, the Apse, the Cloister, the Spire and the Tower.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.59.05

 

Throughout, the renovation has been as sympathetic as possible. “The church brought with it an innate sense of calm and a sanctuary away from London’s fast pace, so we sought to perpetuate that with the most natural materials that would complement rather than juxtapose the original edifice,” says Laurence. “We worked closely with our interior designer, Sarah Reed, to identify and retain as much of the church’s identity as possible.”

The three-bedroom Apse apartment is framed by double-height stained glass windows, while open plan living, dining and kitchen areas offer contemporary counterpoint. Any additions that have been made are based on century’s old stonework and hues, with tactile surfaces finished in oak, limestone, marble, linen and velvet to reflect the church’s timeless feel.

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“The Apse is a great example of how we’ve expanded on the existing structure with a new staircase, conceived to resemble a pulpit, with a thick rope bannister to evoke the ropes that ring church bells. We even handmade Gothic style arched doors.”

A mezzanine floor, complete with a library built into a huge arch that was the former altar, overlooks the living area and also harbours a hidden door in the library wall that leads to the jewel in the crown of the apartment: a 550-square-foot master bedroom suite.

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But it’s the Spire apartment, that includes the church bell tower, where the renovation of this project really comes to life. Laurence has turned it into a folly within the apartment – it is breathtaking, and offers its lucky owner panoramic views of the city. While some would have dismissed it as an unworkable space, Laurence has installed a viewing platform, which is wired for sound and illuminated by a five-metre-long, hand blown glass chandelier.

“We had a team of 12 joiners on site constructing a specially made wooden spiral staircase to provide access to this stunning space,” he explains.

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“Even after being on site for 18 months – at times with a team of 40 experts, overcoming obstacles and working with the challenges of a 160 year old church – I still find the building utterly compelling,” says Laurence. “Every visitor is awestruck.”

It’s rare to find such a well-restored and sensitively converted church, especially one that was formerly in such a state of disrepair – perhaps of this derelict building it was a case of divine intervention.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.20

The apartments at The Sanctuary are on the market from £1,650,000. Douglas & Gordon’s Battersea office on 020 7924 2000 or Winkworth’s Battersea office on 020 7228 9265.

Divine inspiration, three more ecclesiastical conversions:

St Joseph’s Gate, Mill Hill

Throughout the design and transformation of this Grade II-listed seminary, set in seven acres of grounds, the developer Berkeley has retained a host of original features, including the ornate Victorian staircases, imposing, feature windows and ornamental ironwork, all meticulously restored to its former grandeur. There are 59 luxury apartments in the gated development, starting from £899,995, and the showhome launched last week, contact 020 7718 5202, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

The Lourdes Collection, Fulham

This historic Victorian Fulham church newly converted into nine luxury apartments, with a very modern feel, is moments from West Brompton underground. There are still three, two-bedroom apartments available, from £975, 000, 020 7368 4830, www.marshandparsons.co.uk

 

Oakfield Court, Bristol

Further afield, this new development launches in September and comprises 16 one- and two-bed apartments over four floors set within a beautifully converted church in Bristol’s highly desirable Clifton area. Expect kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, high-vaulted ceilings, and even the church’s original arches – all have been retained and restored as part of the sympathetic conversion.

Prices from £225,000, 0117 317 1999, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

ALISON TYLER

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A home fit for an architect

A micro-development of just three townhouses in a quiet, leafy Clapham street just off the Common by world-renowned architects Squire and Partners, famed for their flagship projects such as Chelsea Barracks and One Tower Bridge – it’s an intriguing combination.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.35.53

So when I met Henry Squire at one of the contemporary interpretations of a Victorian villa one sunny morning last week I wanted to find out more. It turned out that he hadn’t had far to come; his father and business partner, architect Michael Squire lives just two doors down.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.29.56

“This is the street I grew up on, and Dad moved here 30 years ago, so when we saw this old Eighties office block was up for sale – which never made sense on this very residential street – we just had to buy it,” explains Henry.

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Who better then, to take on the project of creating three new family homes than someone who already knows all the neighbours, and knows what people in the area are looking for.

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While they are undoubtedly “wow” homes they don’t look out of place and don’t overshadow or bully any of the neighbouring properties. There’s a modesty and simplicity about them from the outside – the huge picture windows still feel discreet somehow, while the bespoke metalwork on the balcony have been designed to mirror detailing that can be seen elsewhere in the road.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.34.58

Inside it is huge, with clean lines, and confident oversized parquet floors to match the spacious hallway, cloakroom, living room and library spaces on the upper ground floor. But there is still a sense of the Victorian villa here – in the drawing room there’s a real stone, marble-plinth fireplace; rich American black walnut timber has been used for all of the windows; the staircase curves up through the entire building and you can look up through all of the three floors to the top of the house.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.33.19

“We could have put in a lift, but I was just against it morally,” explains Henry. “I know we might lose a couple of buyers because of it but a family house like this shouldn’t have a lift – and you’d rarely climb all six floors at once. The same goes for comfort cooling, I just don’t believe a house like this needs it, you can just open the windows.” Although Henry does admit that they have installed comfort cooling in the bedrooms – these are the kinds of demands that international buyers want, and it is changing the shape of development in London, but Henry is confident about who will want this house and why.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.35.15

At the top of the building, three storeys up, a top floor media room have balconies on either side of the building, below it are six bedrooms, three of which have balconies. The master suite is luxuriously generous in size with a large, dressing area and a vast en-suite bathroom where Filetto marble combines with large porcelain tiles by Domus to create a serene, contemporary-but-not-too-cool finish.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.32.31

“We’ve deliberately kept it feeling neutral with room to personalise the space,” says Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.34.31

“If we’d tiled it wall-to-wall there’s no opportunity for a buyer to make it there’s, so as the architect you have to hold back and restrain yourself a little.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.32.50

The real selling point of this home, beyond its fantastic proportions and high quality finish, can be found on the lower ground floor.

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A separate, glass-sided staircase leads downstairs and is a taste of what to expect. Once downstairs you arrive at an entirely open-plan super-room that houses the kitchen, dining room, family snug, and a light-filled garden living room, separated by the rest of the room by a glass “sock” as Henry calls it. Sliding floor-to-ceiling glass doors span the entire back of the house, opening up the garden and living space seamlessly, while the walnut floor running the length of the inside gives a feeling of continuity. It is incredibly impressive without feeling brash, or smug, or over-the-top.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.12

“We could have put in a £250,000 kitchen, but again I just don’t think the house it needs it,” says Henry. “There’s not that much difference between a £50,000 kitchen and a £250,000 kitchen and it was important to us that it blends with the space well and functions well – this one is from SieMatic.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.46

The Ceaserstone Osprey worktops and Filetto marble splashback feel as expensive as they look, while the copper pendant lights by Tom Dixon add a dash of contemporary colour into the mix. But you can see it would make a hard-working family kitchen in what is the ultimate family space. It’s a 21st-century version of knocking through the walls of a Victorian home that so many families have done up and down the capital, “our interpretation of the bourgeois break-through,” says Henry.

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Is it every architect’s dream to build their own home, I wonder? The answer, if this project is anything to go by, is “yes”. Henry’s father Michael Squire has actually moved into one of the three houses, leaving just two left for sale. And if it’s good enough for one of the world’s leading architects…

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.27.48

The houses at Macaulay Road, Clapham are priced at £6.75 million, contact Savills on 020 3430 6900, www.savills.com.

ALISON TYLER

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The Barbican, reborn

The stellar refurbishment of the Barbican’s Brutalist fourth tower proves that you can go back to the future, without creating something hackneyed or ersatz

Central London new developments generally don’t come with an iconic Grade II-listed building, mature gardens the size of a small park, ponds complete with ducklings, secure parking and cycle clubs, storage facilities, gyms, schools, crèches, a restaurant – oh, and Europe’s largest arts and cultural centre, on your doorstep. But then it would be hard to find anywhere quite like the Barbican.

This Brutalist Sixties development (which actually wasn’t finally completed until 1982) has come full-circle, as a new appreciation for the raw, bush-hammered concrete walls, industrial-chic Crittall doors and Mad Men-style architecture is back in vogue, and large-scale community-led developments have finally been recognised as the building model to strive for. As resident and architect Dave King says, “The Barbican’s architecture is ageless, generous and robust. But what you appreciate when you live here is how peaceful it is, even though you are in a crowded city.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 17.09.19

He’s right; as I visited on a sunny day last week, one resident was running the organic food shop on site, another gave us a friendly hello as he held open the garden gate, and several people were quietly enjoying the gardens, while others were actively getting their hands dirty in the wildlife garden. A flyer advertises a garden tour and talk by one of the estate’s oldest residents coming up soon. “If you want it, there is a really thriving community here that you can be part of,” says Tina Evans, group director at Frank Harris estate agent, who has been based on the Barbican estate for 16 years. With a community of 4,000 people, the Barbican is practically an urban village within the City of London.

“Some residents have been here since the beginning, and others move around trading up and down as there is such a diverse mix of housing here,” explains Evans. “Once people move in, they rarely move out, which is why the new flats are so exciting.”

The bespoke designed kitchens by Conran + Partners
The bespoke designed kitchens by Conran + Partners

The flats she’s talking about are in Blake Tower, the only tower that is not yet a residential building. The former YMCA building on Fann Street has been empty since the last students moved out in 2012, but now developer Redrow is in the process of gutting the insides of the 17-storey block to carve out 74 contemporary, art-inspired studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The original 1960s architects were the internationally renowned Chamberlain, Powell and Bon, and today it is being sensitively restored and refurbished by Harper Downie, while the interiors will be reworked by another iconic architecture and interior design studio Conran and Partners. “We’ve been inspired by the historical, architectural and cultural characteristics of the Barbican to create a fresh, exciting and crafted design that has a modern heritage,” says Simon Kincaid, project director at Conran and Partners.

The terrazo bathroom at Blake Tower
The terrazo bathroom at Blake Tower

The design is all about celebrating and complementing the existing structure and the innovative, modernist original design from the Sixties. The dramatic spaces will be showcased with clean minimalist lines and delicate brass detailing, such as the screen that will divide the living room and the curved brass door handles. “We wanted to soften the Brutalism so that it feels warm, rich and soft,” says Brook Lloyd of Conran and Partners.

“Restoring an existing building presents its own challenges,” says Neil Ventin, the Health and Safety and Public Relations manager for McAleer Rushe, who are working on the tower. “For instance, we are completely demolishing the lift shaft piece-by-piece, then it will have to be redesigned and rebuilt to modern standards and to meet modern technology.” They are currently clearing the former student digs to make way for the open plan apartments that will replace them, and while the floors, internal walls and the windows will be replaced, much of the fabric of the building is protected and will remain.

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“We are saving and restoring the original balustrades, Crittall doors and glass screens in the communal hallways, and the original concrete will be restored and revealed where it was painted over or damaged over the years,” explains Ventin.

However, working with a building of such character also brings excitement, explains Redrow’s Managing Director, “Of course it is challenging but it’s not formulaic in the way that a new-build might be. It means we can be more creative and work more with the area around us.”

That inspiration is embodying in some of the apartments’ finer details, such as bathroom basins designed to match the curve of the Barbican buildings’ balustrades, and the same terrazzo and brass elements that are used within the Barbican Arts Centre.

It has also made for much larger apartments than usual, with some one-bed flats covering 87 square metres, compared to a typical 50 metres for a regular new build.

With such care and attention it’s clear that this legendary London landmark will live on for at least another half-century, while Conran will breathe new life into the apartments without turning them into bland “new-build” show homes. It’s a rare chance to buy a piece of Britain’s architectural and design legacy – and one that comes with a whole neighbourhood and cultural playground in place, too. It’s hard to imagine a less sterile antidote to your average new-build city pad. I’m sure Chamberlain, Powell and Bon would approve.

Prices from £650,000, www.blaketower.com

ALISON TYLER

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Restaurant review: Amaru

This week I headed to St Katherine’s Dock in London to new Japanese-Peruvian (aka Nikkei cuisine, which is the same as Nobu serves) eatery Amaru. It’s small and a mix of take-out and eat-in food, but it’s brilliant value (think £4-£6 a dish) and amazing quality.

Toasted sesame-crusted tuna with truffle shavings at Amaru, London
Toasted sesame-crusted tuna with truffle shavings at Amaru, London

The miso soup was rich and dark and silky smooth; spicy edamame had a coating of sticky and delicious hot sauce, and sesame seeds for added crunch; the toasted sesame-crusted tuna with truffle and avocado looked almost too beautiful to eat. My favourite was the Peruvian cured beef, wrapped around shredded sweet potato with yuzu, although the rich chocolate ganache cake with mandarin wasabi was pretty dreamy, too (a bargain at £5). Light and airy, it was completely moreish – so much for the “one spoonful” that I was planning to eat!

OI0A8994

This gem of a place seats just 15 and is designed to look like a Japanese izakaya bar inside – it’s the perfect place to try eating healthily without even realising it.

OI0A9006

Find out more at @amaru_skd on Twitter.

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    Here's a piece I wrote for Metro this week about the explosion of new chicken joints that are hip, ethical and healthy... In the paper there wasn't room to mention the myriad of new places, so I have added a few more here: First it was gourmet burgers, then posh…

Restaurant review: DEN udon

One of the biggest trends of the past year has been for restaurants to do less, but do it better, whether it’s chicken, burgers or lobster. Den is set to do the same thing for noodles.

There’s nothing flashy or pretentious about this local, light and airy, Wagamama-style udon diner. But that’s the point. The short menu comprises of freshly made udon noodles in a ramen broth or without broth; donburi rice dishes, and some delicious sides – the prawn and vegetable tempura was light and crispy and tender, sake-steamed clams tasted like the seaside, by way of Japan.

The miso broth, or dashi, and noodles are both made in-house everyday and the menu changes according to what’s seasonal. Pork Belly and cabbage udon in a really umami-flavoured miso broth was both delicate and bold, without feeling too heavy; while the chicken curry donburi felt like a healthier and far more authentic version of a katsu curry.

Best of all, it was brilliantly affordable with excellent, friendly service, making it a great spot for a lunch or quick supper, just a short stroll from Kings Cross.

www.den-udon.uk.com 2 Acton Street, London WC1X 9NA

The skinny on DEN:

Udon won’t break your diet or healthy eating regime – udon is huge in Japan because it has fewer calories than ramen, soba or pasta.

Everything is be made in house – from the noodles to their dashi broth. There are two dashis: white dashi (made with bonito flakes, dried seaweed and soy sauce) and black dashi (white dashi mixed with strong soy sauce to produce a richer, umami taste).

The Head Chef is Emi Machida – she knows her stuff having held Chef de Partie positions at Koya and Bone Daddies.

ALISON TYLER

This review appeared in Metro on 19 January 2015.

A raw diet: super healthy or a raw deal?

Earlier this week I met Tanya Maher, a nutritionist, certified health coach and co-founder of one of London’s first organic raw food restaurants. She’s tiny and perfect and looks a good five years younger than her years.

The reason? Seven years ago she went raw. After switching her diet to start drinking green smoothies each morning, both Tanya and her husband noticed that they didn’t get ill (she had been one of those people, like me, who usually gets a cold or sniffle with each new season). And when her then-boyfriend phoned her from the office one day to say that he was the only one at work – everyone else was sick with Swine Flu – she had a lightbulb moment.

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After a bit of research decided to introduce more raw foods and alkaline foods into her diet. Today she doesn’t eat meat or dairy, wheat or caffeine. Instead she loads up on veggies, fruit, juices and salads, as well as healthy grains, nuts and vitamins. “Disease  cannot  develop, live  or  survive  in  an  alkaline  environment.  Every  ache,  itch and pain is telling you that your body is too acid,” says Tanya.

“I call myself a nutritarian,” explains Tanya who hasn’t been ill once sine she made the shift in her diet. “I look for foods that offer the most nutrients – I’m not against chocolate, I love it – and it’s packed with antioxidants and flavanoids, but I pick the best raw cacao.”

I was keen to learn more about the benefits of going alkaline and also what you can and can’t eat. “Pork is the most acidic meat,” says Tanya. “And cheese is very acid, especially blue cheese. Sugar… and coffee and tea – caffeine’s so acidic.”

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I feel smug. I tell her I drink decaf. She frowns apologetically. It turns out the process of taking out the caffeine (the bleaching and treating of the beans) make it just as bad, just with a different cause. “But you can make coffee alkaline – just add a slice of lemon to your coffee.”

Lemon?! I would have thought that was acidic, after all it’s full of citric acid. Wrong. It turns out that things that might be acidic in their natural state can still have an alkalising affect on the body.

So fruit (all fruit) and veg are in – the greener the veg, as a general rule, the more alkaline it will be. Spinach is the number one alkaline food, followed by kale, broccoli, cucumber, avocado… spot the trend?

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Keen to give it a go, I have been doing Tanya’s Raw Alkaline Cleanse for the last 48 hours. She promises it will be both juicy and raw and guaranteed to purify your body, skin and energy.

I was SO worried about being hungry and feeling weak, but actually that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sure, I haven’t felt full, but equally my tummy has not rumbled once. Not once! And I have been so busy drinking a juice every hour or two, or snacking on some nuts or kale wheatgrass crackers, that I haven’t had time to feel like I’m missing out. And there’s a raw organic soup, veggie sticks and tahini, probiotics and lots of water mixed with Tanya’s pH booster powder. I have to keep checking the chart to know what to eat or drink when!

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The juices – cold-pressed and organic – taste simply delicious, from the green breakfast juice to  to a beetroot and berry lunch juice and an energising evening mango, carrot and orange juice. The soup is divine, even though it’s cold and raw. But the kale and wheatgrass crackers, filled with fibre to scrub out your insides? Vile. It was like eating silage. I actually couldn’t stomach the whole portion. And the pH water was like drinking pond water – thank goodness for the affirmation that you recite as you drink it “It is my divine right to be healthy”. I really had to tell myself that as I swigged it back!

But everything in the cleanse is there for a reason. Probiotics to increase your intestinal flora, chlorophyll to boost your pH levels from acid to alkaline, electrolytes to hydrate and calcium to nourish you.

I’ve just reached the end and I feel great. It’s got me hooked on cold pressed juice and I’m even planning to blend up my own morning green smoothie. Which, incidentally, is Tanya’s number one tip for making the change to raw, one smoothie at a time.

If you’re feeling sluggish, like your hormones might be out of whack, in pain, or worse – making the shift to alkaline might just be the first step to recovery.

READ THE RESULTS OF MY CLEANSE HERE.

ALISON TYLER

Try Tanya’s Alkaline Cleanse for one, two or three days, from £65, this January. She is also planning to run the programme intermitantly through the year.

Learn more about going alkaline and raw at on Tanya’s website Better Raw, where you’ll also find recipes and can sign up to one of her Raw Workshops.

 

Merry Craftmas

 

Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford
Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Leave Black Friday weekend for the masses and make your way way to one of the vibrant and creative craft and artists independent fairs this advent – it’s a much more imaginative and enjoyable way to shop.
And you get something unique and handmade.
And… You’ll feel better for helping a local artist instead if a tax-dodging international corporate entity too!

Made in Clerkenwell
Made in Clerkenwell

Try these:

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Crafty Fox, this weekend in Dalston; next weekend in Brixton; Peckham the weekend after.

 

Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central
Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central

Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central –  today and tomorrow (to 30 Nov). At John’s Square.

 

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Thornback and Peel at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Cockpit Arts open studios in Holborn this weekend and Deptford next weekend.

 

We’re going on a (Paddington) bear hunt…

That quintessentially British bear (despite hailing from Darkest Peru!) Paddington, hits the cinema screen today in a star-studded film following the polite, bumbling bear’s adventures.

And to celebrate, Britain has gone  all gone soft – and cuddly – for a certain small bear from Darkest Peru, with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches. The Paddington Bear film, starring Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Ben Wishaw, only opens today, but he’s already making an impression elsewhere around the UK.

In London you can search for 50 different Paddington statues on the Paddington Bear trail or visit the exhibition at the Museum of London. Get into the look with wellingtons from hip boot brand Hunter or a blue duffle coat; or simply tuck in to Elevenses – with marmalade sandwiches, of course.

A Bear Called Paddington, Museum of London
This small, free exhibition feature original memorabilia, including author Michael Bond’s typewriter and Paddington’s actual costume from the film. Visit on 29-30 November and take part in Paddington’s Picnic Weekend when there will be storytelling, craft activities and even a chance to meet Paddington himself. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

truffles

Toast & marmalade truffles, from £2
Using 70 per cent Pacari Piura Quemazon chocolate from darkest Peru, brown bread toast, butter and marmalade, star chocolatier Paul A Young has reimagined Paddington’s favourite foodstuff in confectionery-form. www.paulayoung.co.uk

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The Paddington Curiosity Shop at Selfridges
The Paddington story began at Selfridge’s department store, when in 1956, author Michael Bond bought the last teddy on Christmas Eve – which then inspired the adventures of the bear from Darkest Peru. So it’s fitting that the a golden Paddington statue (one to tick off on the trail) takes over one of the windows, while Selfridge’s Wonder Room concept store has been taken over by all things Paddington. From one-of-a-kind archive pieces to props from the film it’s a trove of delights. Expect exclusive gifts and fashion items inspired by the much-loved bear, including a blue duffle coat from Gloverall (kids £109, adults £295) and Globetrotter suitcases (from £285). www.selfridges.com

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Hunter boots, £95
The original gloss wellington boots, as favoured by the festival set, in military red – team them with a duffle coat for maximum Paddington effect. www.hunterboots.com

Paddington Bear with wellies soft toy, £19.99
With his cardboard label saying “Please look after this bear”, shiny willies and blue felt duffle coat, this gorgeous bear is just like the original. www.johnlewis.com

A bear called Paddington, Michael Bond, £10.99
The hardback edition of the very first book, originally published in 1958, has beautiful illustrations by Peggy Fortnum and tells the story of a bear, found at Paddington station, having travelled all the way from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and his hat. www.waterstones.com

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Robertson’s limited edition Golden Shred, £2.29
Grab one of the limited gold label jars of the UK’s favourite marmalade featuring the new-look Paddington Bear from the film and the story about his inception on the jar. Exclusive to Selfridges, www.selfridges.com

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Elevenses and afternoon teas
Known for his love of a snack – elevenses was his favourite – there are Paddington-themed afternoon teas popping up all over the place. At Aqua Shard the afternoon tea of orange marmalade macaroons, praline cream buns, chilli-chocolate taxis and orange blossom scones, is served 31 floors high in a battered suitcase (£34.50, www.aquashard.co.uk). At the Athenaeum you’ll find marmalade-glazed ham sandwiches, marmalade tarts and chocolate tea cups filled with orange and white chocolate mousse (£39.50, www.athenaeumhotel.com). And at the Lowndes hotel you can try Elevenses – a morning ritual that Paddington Bear famously enjoyed with Mr Gruber – and a Pastuso cocktail (that’s Paddington’s original Peruvian name) as part of the Paddington Bear experience, which also includes a night at the hotel and a toy Paddington Bear (£252, www.jumerirah.com/JLH).

paddington cocktail

Paddington Pisco Marmalade Fizz, £7.95
The Fable in London’s Farringdon has created a cocktail that may leave you feeling like a bear with a sore head – Peruvian Pisco, lemon, sugar, Prosecco and two healthy dollops of marmalade. It even comes served with a mini marmalade sandwich. www.thefablebar.co.uk

Paddington wallpaper and fabric
Jane Churchill’s London Sights Paddington range of wallpaper and fabric have a vintage feel that will give any child’s room a timeless feel. www.janechurchill.com

Paddington case

Paddington Bear suitcase gift, £20
This gorgeously-presented bath set contains shower gel, bubble bat, bath fizzers and a marmalade-shaped sponge – too cute by far to give to your little ones. www.marksandspencer.com

This feature appeared in Metro on 27 November 2014. To view the newspaper version visit http://e-edition.metro.co.uk/2014/11/27/