Property Secrets: North Pole trekker Ed Suttie
- Credit: Archant
Ed Suttie’s trek to the North Pole last year has helped him raise more than £51,000 for charity. He shares his property secrets...
Where are you from originally?
I was born in my parents’ semi in a Warwickshire village which, when chatting to our wonderful mayor at the Polar Bear Plunge 2017, I learned is the same village where she grew up!
Did you enjoy growing up there?
I genuinely did love growing up there - it was a busy enough place and a simple safe environment. I also had three years growing up in Barbados which was a great contrast to rural England. I loved being outdoors more than anything else and it’s where I grew the wild roots that gained me the name ‘nature boy’ in later life!
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When did you buy your first property?
I moved to St Albans in 1995 and in 1998, with my wife-to-be, Clare, I bought a two-up, two-down terrace on Temperance Street. The perfect first house for us, with friendly neighbours, close to the city centre, Abbey, parks and local hostelries. I’m over 2m tall so the steep stairs and doorways were a bit challenging for the first few weeks until I got used to ducking at the right moment.
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How long did you live there?
We lived there for five years until we decided we needed a bigger place on our return from a year away travelling the world as nomadic backpackers. We wanted to start a family.
Where else have you lived?
I lived in York when I was at university and then in Cambridge for five years when I worked for the British Antarctic Survey.
Where do you live now?
We live in a Victorian terraced house on Verulam Road. There is so much that I love about this house, it’s full of character and personality.
It is in a row of three houses commissioned in 1867 by a chap called Ebenezer and was handed down in the family until it was first sold in 1972 to the family that we bought it from in 2004! I feel we are a living part of local history.
Who do you live with?
I live there with my wife Clare and three kids Madeleine, Alexander and James.
How would you describe your home in three words?
A warm embrace.
What do you like and dislike about the area?
As with Temperance Street it’s a fantastic neighbourhood of generous spirited people, so close to all the wonderful amenities of St Albans, my kids’ school, the theatre, parks and yes the restaurants and hostelries! Without doubt the most challenging aspect for St Albans is the volume of road traffic. I am also concerned about the speed of traffic in built-up areas and I’m a keen supporter of 20mph for the city.
What are your favourite local pubs and parks?
I am fond of the Portland Arms. When we moved to St Albans knowing hardly anyone it is where we met so many of our friends who we still have today.
The parks we have access to are brilliant with the Brickie, Victoria Playing Fields and Verulamium Park providing something for all.
Have you changed much about your house since you’ve lived there?
Yes we have, by necessity! In 2008 we noticed large cracks appearing in the two-storey extension at the back of the property. One crack in the bathroom eventually got so wide that you could see the Abbey tower! Long story short, there was a mains water leak under the rear extension which had been poorly built in the 1970s. The foundation clay had been eroded away by the leak which lead to the extension slipping down the slope away from the main house.
We had to move out for two years, just after our daughter was born, while the insurers decided what to do and eventually the whole extension was removed and rebuilt.
The silver lining was we got a new two storey extension built to 2010 building standards. It was fantastic moving back in with our new kitchen, with Madeleine and two-week-old Alexander!
Is there anything you’d like to change about your property?
The house has a very long garden which needs some TLC - and chickens, according to my daughter!
What has been your best interiors buy?
My absolute favourite interior item is a painting of beech trees at the Ashridge Estate by local artist Angela Allaway. My wife bought it for me seven years ago at an art exhibition in the Assembly Rooms of the old Town Hall. Some of my day job sees me working with forestry businesses – trees are very important for me.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I like the West Indies and the British coast.
Do you have a ‘dream road’ locally? Where is it if so?
Not really, I’m happy with Verulam Road though I always thought Hill Street looked nice and the Georgian classic Dalton House on Catherine Street is a favourite.
Do you see yourself moving on?
I don’t know, we are well bedded in here with family and work life. Though I do find my thoughts wandering to other places, like Devon, Norfolk and the Peak District. I am wowed by their landscapes and vernacular architecture - so many places have great appeal.
What would your dream home be like?
A rambling village home with gardens and bags of personality. It would have to have enough room for a piano (for Clare) and the dining table and benches we currently have squeezed into a way too small room in our house. It would have room for books and roaring fires. I fear I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills so this may remain a pipe dream or the family might have to get used to Arctic conditions!
Ed - aka Ed2NorthPole - now offers talks to local groups and clubs about his trekking experiences. The second fundraising Polar Bear Plunge, organised by Ed’s wife Clare, took place in St Albans in New Year’s Day. You can donate to his charities here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Ed2NorthPole.