The virtues of a sanctuary in a friendly neighbourhood
Y OU might soon be seeing more of Marie Thomas and her husband, Edwin, because they will be appearing on our TV screens next month as part of a series on great British bakeries, with a feature on the London Road business they own. But for now their attention is on selling their beautiful home.
This is a lovely house now – "a sanctuary'' as Marie calls it – but it was not so when they arrived here eight years ago.
Marie says: "It was in a bad state of repair when we first came and even the lights had been taken so all we had were bare wires hanging down but I saw something here, something that really captured my imagination and I could see the potential.''
Since the couple moved in they have replaced or renewed "absolutely everything'' with the result that what you find today at 30, Taylor Avenue, May Bank, on the edge of Wolstanton marsh, is a house that is essentially new in terms of its fabric, fixtures and fittings and has some lovely features.
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Taylor Avenue is a very quiet road and even on a weekday at 9 am when I visited there is very little traffic to disturb the tranquility.
The hallway has tile effect laminate flooring and there is a cloakroom/wc with an original stained glass window, a theme repeated elsewhere in the property, and off it is a lovely lounge with very convincing wood effect laminate on the floor, a nice bay window (double glazed of course) and a timber fireplace housing a coal effect fire. Marie and I chatted here about the house and it struck me as being a warm and peaceful room.
Across the hallway is the kitchen/dining area with tile effect flooring and off-white Shaker style base and wall cupboards and fitted appliances. There is understairs storage and plenty of room for the dining table which looks out over the back garden. With a large glass area and the glazed back door this is a very light area and the pale furniture works perfectly.
Going up to the first floor, it is worth pausing at the top of the stairs to admire the stained glass panels over the bedroom doors which have been here since the house was built, I guess, in the 1930s.
Both bedrooms are easy doubles and the master one, over the lounge, also has a nice bay window and the wood effect flooring and there is an impressive bathroom with a mirrored wall, a genuine Jacuzzi bath and shower and the white suite includes a wc with concealed cistern and a wash basin set within a custom-built unit.
On the outside there is a block paved driveway at the front which has space for perhaps up to three cars to be parked safely off the road and at the back is a patio style paved garden with a large timber shed.
But of course that is not all that is outside because Edwin and Marie live in what is effectively a village with a strong community identity. Wolstanton marsh is a couple of hundred yards away and all the attractions that holds – "It's lovely to see cricket matches with the players in their whites, or the children playing football'' – there is a variety of shops within walking distance, as are schools, and the major roads are no more than a couple of minutes away.
In terms of location Wolstanton has to be one of the better residential areas in North Staffordshire.
Marie says: "Wolstanton is a lovely place, the neighbours are wonderful and when I walk into the shops everyone knows each other by name.
"When we first saw the house it was in a bit of a state but I saw something beyond that and knew it had potential. It has turned out to be everything I hoped for and more.
"It is very peaceful and soothing and I used to call it a little sanctuary.
"It is a beautiful home in a beautiful area.''