You’ve decided to let out your property for short-term holiday rentals while you head for the sunshine, and the agency is sending over a photographer to do some spiffy pics. As a rent-virgin, you are not sure what to expect and perhaps a trifle uneasy about splashing photos of your intimate sanctuary all over the interwebs. However, the success of your rental, and therefore the exoticness of your own holiday, is in direct proportion to the attractiveness of your property, so how to you make the most out of what you’ve got? I’m a partner at posh London agency AccommodateLondon.com so I thought some practical guidance would be useful:
Q: By spooky coincidence, we booked your photographer to come on laundry day. Is it okay to leave the house festooned with knickers and damp tracksuit bottoms?
A: No. Unless you have booked a super-model to wear them, please hide all extraneous undergarments and clothing.
‘Have you had any interesting things left behind?’ Well, tennis balls, old trainers, healthy foodstuffs; Joanna is struggling for something noteworthy to say. ‘And some splendid foreign language adult magazines’, she finishes with a triumphant flourish. I kick her under the table but the plaster cast on her broken leg is a substantial construction, courtesy of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, and she feels not a thing.
We had picked up Reuters tennis correspondent Pritha Sarkar from the roadworks disaster that is currently Wimbledon Station and spent the day visiting the houses that would become home for the stars of the centre court. It didn’t help that Joanna’s leg was propped up on the dashboard of the Mini, or that I was doing the driving for the first time in a few years.
It’s called Urban Oasis. On first impression, that’s an odd description for this 35 foot sculpture sitting in the heart of London’s Clerkenwell Green. It could just as easily be described as an alien wind machine. Designed by architect Laurie Chetwood, this eco-friendly tree-like structure has provided welcome relief from the heat and stress of overheated London life of late. It has a wind turbine on the top and ‘branches’ which open and close with the sun. These branches generate power from the attached solar cells. The branches also collect whatever rain water is available and uses it in turn to irrigate plants encased in their own test tubes.
I shot this double page spread at the end of a long fashion and design shoot at The Wapping Project in the East of London. Charles Trevelyan arrived in a transit with his huge, slanted bookshelf sporting and integrated chair; definitely cut on the bias, this one. Lucy and Hannah had sourced a great selection of products at very short notice and we set the whole thing up against the old pumping machinery in the back of the restaurant area in an hour, which was all we had before the evening’s diners arrived.
Shelflife bookshelf and Titanic lamp by Charles Trevelyan at Viable. Hoch Tassen glasses, Milkii milk jug all from Places and Spaces. Squint fabric covered teapot, Liberty. Drink Me lamp, Pint glass vase, candle holder, goblet and ashtray, Emiko Oki. Cyclone limited edition bowl, Orrefors. Orange Slice chair in Horses Stampede fabric, Giant cup and saucer, Flames gas candelabra, Places and Spaces. Based Upon The Grain titanium dining table, Based Upon.
The brilliant white town of Ostuni has attracted visitors for centuries but has always been considered a little off the beaten track. That all looks set to change.
Down on Italy’s heel, Puglia has never been on most people’s holiday radar although popular with Italian families who come here to relax, eat good simple food and generally get away from it all. A sort of antidote to la bella figura. It has a chequered history, either being fought over by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Longobards, Arabs and Normans, or simply being left to its own, mainly agricultural, devices. Now, Puglia has seen dramatic growth as a potential southern counterpart of Tuscan Chiantishire, fuelled by Ryanair’s cheap flights to Bari and Brindisi, the lure of its incredible architecture and unique, vibrant culture.
Here in the UK, feelings about the Royal Wedding has been typically equivocal. Our media seem hesitant to take a meaningful editorial stance, preferring to focus on Ms Middleton’s dress or nutty local council rulings on the height of bunting. Among the Great Unwashed we find opinion wavering somewhere between mild approval of the extra holiday and, um, warm approval of the extra holiday.
You will need to plan your wedding to ensure a fulfilling, hitch-free day. If you’re going to watch it on TV then you need do little more than stock up on Duchy Originals Gooseberry Posset. For those intending to see it in the flesh, here are some useful resources.
This is m-house in it’s natural habitat; a bit of useless waste ground which costs virtually nothing to rent. If planners could get their heads round the idea that you don’t have to wreck the environment to provide housing, there are thousands of sites in the UK like this which could be made into homes.
We’re not sure what to call it: is it a classy caravan or an ultra-chic pad with wheels? The distinction is the m-house’s raison d’etre and it’s greatest obstacle. Tim Pyne wanted a house on a bit of Essex estuary but was told he could only have a mobile home. Something on wheels, below a certain size, which arrives on site in no more than two big pieces. The planning laws do not, however, say that it had to be flimsy or look tacky so, together with Michael Howe of mae architects, he has produced a 2-bedroom, 900 sq foot designer home that is totally complete and can be assembled in a day with minimal planning permission.
Zeus’ beautiful daughter Persephone was kidnapped and raped by Hades at Enna and Scylla devoured sailors in the Strait of Messina. ‘You’ll need extra insurance, of course,’ said the man at the car rental desk, ‘this is Sicily’. We insured ourselves to the hilt and headed for the mean streets of Palermo.
Palermo was an Arab caliphate until Roger II invaded and made it the Norman capital of the Kingdom of Sicily, which also included most of Southern Italy, for almost 600 years — the jewel in the Med’s crown. After a short dalliance with Naples and the Unification of Italy in 1860, it continued a long, slow decline, but has never forgotten its proud past. Grand, raw, self-assured and untamed, Palermo may be Italy’s most underrated city.
Everything is all over the place and it’s making me depressed, so I’ve decided to move most of my material to this online collection called sprks.
Here will be features, snippets, likes and dislikes, new and old, projects, photographs and writings. I will be migrating the best stuff here and developing the site at the same time, so it might look a bit funny here and there. It is April 2011 and it’s a lovely, warm, sunny Spring in London. Good omens.
Photographic portfolio: in the developer, so to speak, but I keep a sort of photographic scrapbook on Flickr. Here’s a fancy gallery (Flash) for you to preview. Try it fullscreen.
I seem to have a backlog of posts stretching back to the dawn of time, so this site is going to be somewhat ad hoc and un-chronological, but quality is important and that can’t be rushed. Photographic projects will be also be posted here if they seem of general interest. Anyone who would like to use any of these photos, please ask me first.