Gartenart garden swimming ponds and natural swimming pools.

Gartenart | Portfolio | Mandy and Nigel Keene, Hampshire
Gartenart | Portfolio | Mandy and Nigel Keene, Hampshire
Gartenart | Portfolio | Mandy and Nigel Keene, Hampshire
Gartenart | Portfolio | Mandy and Nigel Keene, Hampshire

Nigel and Mandy Keene, Hampshire

When Mandy and Nigel Keene sold their estate agency business they moved with their family to a house in the countryside just outside Basingstoke. “There were lots of things we wanted to do to the house but this was the one thing that we felt everybody would benefit from,” they say.

“I think as we are both estate agents we looked at this from a slightly different perspective. I actually think there are very few things which add value to a house – a lot of people think a new conservatory or a new driveway will, but this is very rarely the case. I think that ultimately something like a swimming pond does add value, as it adds something quite unique about the property. I’m confident that with the swimming pond we’ll get our money back on it." says Nigel.

“There was an existing pond already and one option was to fill it. But we thought we’ve already got enough garden, we don’t need to look at more grass, and we really always wanted a swimming pool,” says Mandy.

“So we googled how to make a swimming pool from a pond, and swimming ponds came up,” adds Nigel. “We were definitely encouraged by the number of case studies on the Gartenart site. I don’t think either of us had heard of them before...”

“Gartenart’s process was very good, it was well organised and detailed. They surveyed the site properly, and they did some very detailed drawings. We were involved with the things that we wanted to be involved in.

“Ohad and Ashley [the construction team] worked so hard in horrendous weather, they were absolutely brilliant,” says Mandy. “We can’t praise them enough. Actually for that time they were part of the family, it was like having two permanent guests for a couple of months. It was very easy to have conversations with them about anything on the project we wanted to discuss.”

“Beforehand I was a bit concerned that we would have to semi project-manage and it would be a real disruption with mud all over the driveway,” says Nigel. “But it wasn’t anything like that, we didn’t really need to be involved and they ensured that there was no inconvenience. Which is part of the quality of the product.

“The pond conjures up visions of childhood adventures, like Huckleberry Finn, jumping in rivers and things like that. I think children naturally want to do that but it can be unsafe. Whereas with this, they’ve got the best of both worlds. They’ve got a safe environment where they also can act out those sorts of childhood adventures."

“Another reason for having the pond is so the children want to spend time here, so the house isn’t a place they are trying to escape from but a place they actually want to be around more. It’s nicer that they’re here and involved a lot of the time,” says Nigel.

Mandy adds: “I do sit here in the warm weather and listen to the water running and I can do that for hours and hours. It’s ideal because I can sit and watch the children. Also we’re not big on travelling a lot throughout the year, so if the weather’s good we can get friends round and spend the time here."

"What’s it like swimming in the water? It’s like swimming in silk – I’ve swum in swimming in pools and in the sea quite a lot, but this water is very different. It’s a great feeling but it’s really unusual. It’s like swimming in Evian, it really is noticeable,” says Nigel.

“One of the things we have really enjoyed was on a hot day just floating on the water on inflatables. That was a lovely feeling, you felt as though you literally were floating down a stream somewhere. I’ve done it in swimming pools but it wasn’t the same, this is somehow a lot more peaceful. We had a couple of dragonflies buzzing past us and back out again. You definitely feel like you’re one with nature.”

"What about temperature? It's not a concern – it hasn’t stopped people from going in. The kids don’t care anyway and we had a couple of big family parties where parents were leaping in as well.

“I think also the skin is a natural repellent of water. In swimming pools the water clings more because of the chlorine and other things in the water, whereas fresh water just bounces straight off it, it’s quite amazing really. It’s almost like the human skin is a wet suit in its own right."

“People say we haven’t had the best of summers recently, which is true and I think with English summers there is a tendency for us to live for the highlights, to look forward to the really nice days when you really want to swim. But actually the kids weren’t so bothered about that, they just jumped in anyway.

“I think with the summers in the UK when they’re hot they’re really hot, and it’s nice to be able to go into a water environment, and being able to jump into water in your back garden is great. You certainly wouldn’t want to be in an indoor swimming pool.”

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