By Sophie Gallagher
It had been 18 months since we were last at the cinema. As the title sequence rolled on No Time To Die, the delayed 25th film in the James Bond franchise, I was already distracted by the locations. Instead of being enraptured by action scenes and criminal plots, my lasting impressions were of the far-flung settings, not least the character of Madeleine Swann’s childhood cabin.
Perhaps it is testament to a long lockdown spent in a concrete jungle where we are in such proximity to our neighbours that we can hear the constant whirring of their washing machine, but there was something about the tranquility and isolation of the lakeside home that was totally enchanting. That was until an unwanted visitor turned up — arch villain Safin, played by Rami Malek (pictured above, outside the cabin).
The Swann cabin was built for the film in a small village about 30km north of Oslo in Norway. It is situated on a strip of land between a pine forest and a frozen lake, giving sweeping vistas and the level of solitude and secrecy that a fictional villain would presumably want for his young family. And that a city-weary journalist might sometimes want too.
As well as the joyful mustard coloured exterior, the cabin’s idyllic charm comes from its panelled walls, patchwork stone chimney and sliding doors that open up to the breathtaking natural surroundings. Inside, there is an open-plan layout with wooden floors and a central staircase. Despite the sub-zero temperatures outside it looks warm, cosy and inviting.
In the opening scenes we see the cottage blanketed in snow, the perfect way to show off the glorious scenery and imagine the activities you might get up to if you lived here: lighting fires, going on brisk walks, spotting wildlife, drinking a Thermos of tea on the water’s edge and wearing patterned knitwear worthy of the finest Scandinavian noir detective.
Unlike the film’s characters, I would not be involved in high-speed car chases along Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road. Instead, life would be slow and intentional, and the house would serve as a cocoon in which to hibernate until the spring.
Later in the film we are introduced to another waterside villa when 007 retreats to Jamaica. Perched on the edge of a lagoon, his retirement bachelor pad with a 360-degree wooden deck is the antithesis of the cold cabin in the northern hemisphere, but both share the connection with water.
While I am waiting for my call from MI6 — for an office-based role — I will seek out my own waterfront property. This five-bedroom villa is not in Norway, but in southern Finland. It does however share the majestic water views and has Bond-worthy interiors, complete with a home gym, geothermal heating and sound-cancelling doors that stop noise carrying between rooms. Surely Q would be proud of that innovation? On the market for €3.34m, the property in Kirkkonummi also has its own private beach on the Baltic Sea.
A little further afield, this four-bedroom house with a separate two-bedroom carriage house, near the southern tip of British Columbia on Canada’s west coast, gives sweeping views across Saanich Inlet. Set within nearly seven acres and surrounded by mature forest, the C$18.8m ($14.9m) property offers privacy and a jetty for a boat to provide a speedy escape on the water.
The perfect place for a secret agent to call home.
Photography: 2019 Danjaq LLC and MGM, all rights reserved; PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy; Snellman Sotheby's International Realty; Engel & Völkers Victoria Oak Bay