Born into a family with roots in Selsey dating back over two-hundred years, Ian Hoare is still in shorts and flip-flops on one of the chilliest days of the year.
“I’m used to being outside in all weathers,” he grinned.
Studying plumbing, carpentry, decorating and bricklaying at Chichester College, (“I failed the 11 Plus and got directed into what was called a Link Course”), Ian’s career has taken him all over the country.
“Locally I’ve worked on loads of houses and even on Chichester Cathedral, where I did a small pointing job on the north side. I’ve got hundreds of pictures of the Cathedral spire that I have taken from different chimneys around the city.
“I also worked on the old Royal West Sussex Hospital when it was turned into housing.
“With new builds gardens are definitely getting smaller, but houses are a lot better insulated.
“Building modern houses is like doing Lego,” he told me.
“With estates it’s all down to getting the first one right.
“You find all the foibles in the first house and then you can crack on,” .
With a keen eye for detail, Ian particularly enjoys doing intricate and decorative brick and flint work.
“I like the challenge of doing something that you can’t see a join in. I do a lot of decorating and general maintenance these days, too.”
As for the hazards of the job, punctured thumbs are a casualty of working with flints. “I did a wall on flats down by Chichester canal basin, putting flints in one by one. My thumbs were a right mess afterwards. Danger is everywhere on a building site and you need to use common sense. I’ve never broken a bone or had a stitch.”
Another local project was the retaining wall by the Swan pub in Pulborough, and on a job on the Aldwick Bay Estate he met Earl Spencer, the late Princess Diana’s brother.
“We all stood in the line-up and shook hands. He was a lovely fellow,” recalled Ian.
Another famous face Ian was fond of was Sir Patrick Moore. “I used to mow his lawn as a kid and he was a big supporter of the Selsey Colts and would come to our cricket matches. When he bought us a drink after one match once it was the first time I’d seen a twenty-pound note.”
A self-taught cook (“when I was 16 I was in a bedsit and I decided to stop looking at the Baby Belling and learn to use it instead”), in the run up to Christmas Ian was busy in the kitchen.
“I always make everything, including the sausage rolls with pastry by hand, and we had three kinds of stuffing with Christmas dinner.”
It occurs to me that Ian has fantastic potential as a TV cook. Big-hearted and funny, ‘The Baking Brickie’ is surely a ratings winner waiting to happen? Move over, you Hairy Bikers…
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