Ten years ago, against the rather sensible advice of my mother, I bought an island in the Swedish archipelago. I wasn’t really in the market for an escape from my primary base in London but a weekend with Stockholm-based friends, Christina and Claus, turned me on to the delights of endless summer evenings, chilly dips in the water, no air conditioning and simple, built-for-purpose houses.
...an architect friend alerted me to a house he’d heard about. But “it’s pretty much everything you don’t want,” my agent told me when I asked about it. “It’s on an island. It’s in the north archipelago. It draws brackish water from the sea.” Some days later I visited. Walking past the bald rocks, moss, rustling birches and the odd conifer, the house came into view. And, at first glance, it was perfect.
Yes, it needed work – an indoor bathroom and modern plumbing to replace the outhouse, a new kitchen, a new deck and some painting. But it was a modernist gem with the closest neighbours 300 metres away (on their own islands) yet still only a 45-minute drive and a seven-minute boat ride from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. On the trip back to the mainland I made an offer and, eight weeks later, by the start of July, the house was ready to accept its first guests.
That same year my theory was put to the test again when I decided to buy an apartment in what might be the world’s most famous ski resort, St Moritz. ...what really sealed the deal was the idea of taking part in a perfectly formed world in miniature – the tiny hospital with the gleaming helicopter that landed on the roof, the hotels grand and petite, the butcher, the baker and, well, not so much a candlestick-maker but a shop selling a full range from scented candle manufacturer Diptyque. It was all my childhood play-days rolled into one finely tuned, rather pricey version of a giant train set. It was life-size Marklin/Hornby/Lego world.
und so weiter, und so weiter.