Property Hot Spot: Des res includes on-site parking for eight reindeer; The North Pole
Saturday 26 December 1998
The occupier is an elderly man who would seem ripe for joining the bungalow brigade. Managing director of his own global delivery firm, he is corpulent well into the red zone, and his job is physically punishing, even though he works only one day a year. He nevertheless seems determined to see his lease out, even though it still has about 550 years to run.
The property itself contains - in estate agent terminology, comprises - a massive workshop, ample staff accommodation and on-site parking for a minimum of eight reindeer.
The lease contains a highly unusual restrictive covenant. These covenants generally prohibit work altogether or strictly limit the kind of work that may take place in a property, but these premises must be used as a workshop producing children's toys. This highly unusual covenant is the notorious sanity clause.
Several countries claim the property. The Arctic Circle includes parts of America (Alaska division), Canada, Greenland, Finland, and Russia.
Santa's familiar red and white are the national colours of Canada. Danish children address their letters to the "Julemanden" in Greenland, and receive replies.
In fact, Santa replies to children from many countries. Erja Tikka, press counsellor at the Finnish Embassy, says: "These other countries don't have reindeer, and our Santa post office receives 700,000 letters a year, so Finland has clearly won
Try telling that to the Canadians. Lynne Boyer of Canada's Office of Strategic Communications Planning, notes: "The North Pole is on Canadian territory, so Santa is, technically, a Canadian citizen."
In Finnish Lapland, Mr Claus maintains an office, complete with Web server and Internet address, at Napapiiri, near Rovaniemi, and he makes daily appearances in nearby Korvatunturi. This part of Finland has abundant ice and snow but is hardly the most northerly of Finnish towns and villages and, for nearness to the North Pole, might as well be in Ecuador.
Canada's northern territories are also closer to the Pole and contain a huge swathe of government-owned land ideal for squatters. The Canadian High Commissioner has revealed, almost exclusively to The Independent, instructions for building an igloo based on Inuit building practices.
For starters, says the helpful information sheet, you need plenty of snow and, rail officials in Britain will be heartened to learn, preferably the right type of snow - crunchy and hard-packed.
The blocks are laid down in a spiral shape, and the entire structure's strength depends on the placement of the final block at the tip. Large families can be accommodated in several igloos connected by passageways.
Crucially, "the best location is beside a gently sloping hill." Even for igloos, location is everything.
Transport: The world's most northerly railway line is at Ny Alesund, Norway. Otherwise, transport goes to the dogs.
South-facing gardens? At the North Pole, they all are.
Council tax: For 1998/1999, Band A: Frankincense. Band H: Myrrh.
"No, it's not my vanity number plate": The correct postal code for Father Christmas in the United Kingdom is SANTA1, and in Canada it is HOH HOH. His Finnish website address is http://www.santaclausoffice.fi
Furs R Us: Shopping options are limited. When winter arrives there is not much to do except wait six months for summer and daylight to return. Otherwise, the Arctic has waterfalls, geysers, sulphur, mud and mineral pools, dog-sledge races and the Northern Lights. Rovaniemi is a winter-sports resort.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food