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23 January 2021

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The Story of The Sandcastle

How the Sandcastle Came to Be

“We had just finished complete renovation and extension of Mount Severn – our “forever house” overlooking Freshwater Bay and visible from The Sandcastle balcony – when we got a call at 9am on a Saturday from Gary, the builder of our beautiful floral wall.

 

He told me that the estate agent for Trewent Bungalow (a strange name for a two-floor house) was putting up a “For Sale” sign.  I drove straight down to look around outside and called the agent from my car 15 minutes later and said, “We’ll have it”!

Having been renovating properties all my life, my gut told me that with a “once in a lifetime” location such as this, you have to just go for it and worry about the consequences later.

 

The house itself was, apart from the balcony, very solidly built but appallingly laid out. The bedrooms were incredibly dingy with tiny ceiling height windows and, hidden behind a hedge, was the invisible sea.  

The Most Unique Property in Pembrokeshire?

To make matters worse there was a corridor running between the four downstairs bedrooms facing the (invisible) sea and four fairly sumptuous bathrooms – with no windows at the back. Hardly en-suite!

There was a cracked swimming pool that had been tiled by some passing travellers (seriously) and a pointless slipway, where our new pool is now, right alongside the existing public slipway! Clearly a complete rebuild was necessary.

As it was built with planning permission for just one floor, the National Parks stated that, provided we produced tasteful plans, they would draw a line under the stack of past planning enforcement summonses.

 

Whilst a two-story house by the sea was unheard of, they preferred that to having a derelict property right on the beach. Due to our cunning landscaping, people still think it is a bungalow, even from the sea.

Building The Sandcastle

The only way we were going to sort out this massive mess was to bring over our building team from Slovakia. Sad to think that this is the only way to get anything done in the UK: not so much about cost, but speed.

 

With anywhere from 6 to 12 men working 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week and lodging locally at the old house up the hill, we achieved the whole operation in 12 months.

As soon as the main living room and balcony were presentable, we brought down all the furniture from the other house and did a staged photoshoot. This was in April 2018 and from the end of July we were soon solidly booked. No pressure then!”

The subject of the planning, the timing and the finance is a whole other story.

Here are some more pictures of our amazing journey to create the most unique beach house in Wales.

We really would be delighted to share it with you, and I hope you appreciate the finished result!”

Mike is married to Linda Johnson-Bell (www.thewinelady.com), the CEO of The Wine and Climate Change Institute in Oxford, and an award-winning wine critic, author, conference speaker and climate-change analyst, along with their two sons, Benjamin(22) and Charlie (18)

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