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Ahoy there! Neighbours to port and starboard

It always surprises me when there is a general cheer in the media that ‘House prices are up.’

Despite the present financial situation (or even because of it) we are all interested in the price of our house. As people sitting in a comfortable house it is difficult not to join in the general celebration. House prices are still the main talking point at dinner parties. ‘Ours has gone up fifty per cent… a hundred per cent... Out of this world... I never thought I would be a millionaire.’ It is good for our ego that our property has doubled or trebled in price. Many readers turn to the property section of T&L not only because they are actively looking for a new house but also because they want to see the current value of their own house. It somehow comforts us to see the huge amount of money we are worth.

Many people believe that the psychological effect of continual increase in house prices contributed to the national debt and the muddle we are in now. ‘If I am worth all that money then I can certainly afford a new kitchen, sound system, freezer – you name it. Just put it on the card,’ goes the thought process. I have a memory of waking up one spring morning in our new house many years ago (two up and two down) and berating myself for having taken out a mortgage for £4,500: ‘How will I ever pay that off?’ I asked myself, as I gazed at the ceiling. ‘What a foolish thing to have done,’ I said, chastising myself roundly as I put on my socks, cooked a soft boiled egg for my wife and went off to work.

Well, of course, as things turned out we were OK – even better than OK. Last week, whilst gazing in an estate agent’s window down the road, I came across a house worth over three million. A far cry from my four and half grand in the 60s.

For those of us who like to expand the size of our properties we now have carte blanche to extend our living space a fair way into the garden. You don’t even have to ask the neighbours or talk to the local planning office. I am sure that readers of T&L will consult all relevant parties, however.

We all realize that the price of our home is largely money we can never spend. If you were to sell it tomorrow and pocket the money for a swanky cruise where would you go? Maybe a bijou property in downtown Luton or a vacant spot in a sleeping bag outside Victoria station with all the other waifs, strays and homeless.

Well, this could resolve the problem. HMS Ark Royal, the aircraft carrier was up for sale for £2.9 million. It’s not the family silver we are selling off but the Royal Navy. Now £2.9 million is pretty well in the reach of many people these days with house prices as they are and think of the space you would have. You could live in a suite of rooms and let out the rest to would-be fantasy sailors. You could sell tickets for dinner at the captain’s table. Just make sure you don’t get a parking ticket!

Tony Kane is founder of Time & Leisure Media Group and editor of the Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Putney editions of Time & Leisure Magazine.