Nicki Chapman heads to Derbyshire's Peak District to revisit a house-hunting couple who have used their interior design flair to beautifully refurbish a property.
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'Making the move from city to countryside
'is often a momentous step.'
Never in a million years
I would imagine I'd be seeing a house like this. Never, ever.
'But for many years Escape To The Country has been supporting
'countless people on the hunt for a new home in a more rural location.'
-What do we think of this?
-Oh, my. Chocolate box!
'We've travelled to the most picturesque pockets of Britain...'
Take a look at that killer view.
'..to showcase thousands of exquisite country properties...'
How pretty is that?
'..that our buyers just couldn't resist.'
Seriously, get your chequebook out now!
'Join us as we catch up with those who bought their dream home...'
I'm bowled over. I'm knocked for six.
I can't speak.
'..to find out how the move changed their lives
'when they escaped to the country.'
Today, I'm in the East Midlands, and this is the River Trent -
an important transport artery in this part of the world
since Roman times.
Now used mainly for leisure craft rather than working boats,
the waterway cuts its way through the region...
and we're finding it's becoming an increasingly popular search area
for house buyers looking to make that country escape.
Which brings me to the reason for my visit and it's an exciting one,
as I'm meeting some of our former
Escape To The Country property buyers
who made the big leap and changed their lives forever.
I'm returning to the East Midlands counties
of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Later on in the show, I'll be meeting retiree Susan
to find out how her new-found community in the country
has given her the social opportunities
that were lacking from her former life in the capital.
But first, I'll be catching up with my house-hunting couple
Niall and Barry, who are lucky enough to wake up
to the most mesmerising Peak District views every single day
after I helped them to find their perfect escape home
some years ago.
Back in 2009, Niall -
a business development manager and textile designer -
was struggling as he was living in a Manchester suburb
more than 20 miles away from his partner Barry,
a research scientist.
So together they hatched a plan to sell their respective properties,
pool their resources and establish a more peaceful way of life
in the Derbyshire countryside.
It's just very chaotic,
all the travelling around we have to do to try and sort our weekend out.
With being in separate houses as well and both having busy jobs,
quite often we'll only see each other at the weekend.
Maybe one evening in the week.
we need to move on from that.
For Barry, he was hopeful that the beautiful Peak District countryside
would give him inspiration
for his hobbies of hiking and landscape photography -
but for Niall, it was the potential house style
that would need to capture his imagination.
Personally, I'd be looking for something with character to it.
So maybe Victorian or even Georgian-type of features.
Basically, because I like that type of architecture
and I like that type of interior.
So with plans in place to tie the knot
and make their first joint property purchase,
they had a lot to organise - and that's where I came in.
They pictured their ideal home
being a detached period property with a large kitchen,
separate dining room for entertaining
and a good-sized garden.
And to find this they had set themselves a healthy budget
Our property hunting journey together started in the small town
of Whaley Bridge on the edge of the Peak District.
Our first house had a handsome exterior.
And here it is. This is your first property.
As you can see, it's Edwardian.
Built in 1904.
What do you think as you're standing here?
It's got little turrets.
That's giving it a bit more character, as well, there.
It's obviously in a really nice setting with all the greenery here,
so the gardens must be great.
-Yes, it looks fab.
-Let's go and have a look inside.
-That's the exciting bit, yes.
'A large welcoming entrance hallway led to three reception rooms.
'One, a comfortable living room.
'Another, a cosy snug.
'And the last of which was dedicated to formal dining.'
So you guys love entertaining.
-And ideally, you wanted a separate dining room.
That's right, yes. I think it's nice to have more of an area contained
so that you don't feel as though you are sprawl through a kitchen area.
It's got another lovely fireplace.
Yeah, and we've got a brilliant view there as it is.
I can see you are both taking it all in.
'At the end of a long hallway lay the kitchen,
'which, it's fair to say, did need updating.
'Upstairs, there was no shortage of room for visiting guests
'with three double bedrooms, one of which was used as a study.
'A smaller single room.
'Plus a spacious master.'
It's a good size.
Look at the view. Fantastic.
-There is your reservoir.
Yes! It's just a perfect room to be able to do something with,
put your own stamp on it and make it the way you'd like it to be.
'Despite some work needed in places,
'the house received encouraging reactions,
'and I felt confident the grounds wouldn't disappoint
'with three separate areas to discover.'
You didn't say there was a secret garden.
This is the third part of your garden.
Is this all for the house here?
-All for the house.
So we're going to have to cut straight to money.
How much do you think this house is currently on the market for?
I imagine it's probably about 645.
The current asking price is £675,000.
-Gosh, that's a lot more than I was expecting.
So not at the very top of your budget,
but bearing in mind you would want to do work on the property,
something to think about.
So do you fancy having another little look around the house?
-That would be great.
-Go on, have a wander
-and I'll catch up with you in a little while.
-All right. Thanks.
At £675,000, this large Edwardian home was under budget by £25,000.
It had clearly got them thinking
about what their money would buy them in the Peak District.
-Have you seen enough?
-Yes, I think so.
-I think so.
-A good start?
-We've got plenty more to see so let's hit the road.
The next day, our search continued and took us to the village of Combs.
Knowing that Niall and Barry love Georgian and Victorian architecture,
I had high hopes for this next home
which was part of a Grade-II listed former manor house.
I love these great big chimneys on the top.
It's a very grand looking house.
'Although it wasn't detached, inside gave them space in abundance.'
So here's your entrance.
This is really lovely. Yes, really nice.
It's got all the period features that hopefully you're after.
It is beautiful, actually.
Now, Niall, I know this is a very important room for you.
It's beautiful, yes. I wasn't expecting it to look like this,
the kitchen, but it's fantastic.
It's so big, as well.
You both love entertaining
but it's important that we get the reception rooms right, isn't it?
-So let's see what you think of the next room.
Gosh, this is fantastic.
It's so big. I wasn't expecting this at all.
You'd feel like Lord of the Manor living here, wouldn't you?
You've found something fantastic here.
I really love this. It's brilliant.
I'm glad you love this room,
but I've got another one now to show you.
-I feel a bit actually lost for words, to be honest,
because it is absolutely fantastic.
'Praise and stunned reactions for this character home so far.
'Upstairs, the four bedrooms were laid out over two further floors.
'Right up in the attic was a part-converted double room.
'On the first floor was a large family bathroom and three bedrooms,
'one used for storage, another a pretty double guest bedroom.
'And lastly, the master.'
I don't think we've got a bed big enough for there!
I've got a super king-size.
I still don't think it will be big enough!
I mean, I can't believe the size of the rooms are so massive.
Another fantastic view, like a picture through the window there.
The glorious countryside vistas were drawing them back outside,
which is where we headed next.
So this is the way to see the Peak District, with the sun shining.
I mean, the view is just spectacular, isn't it?
'As well as a shared tiered lawn,
'the house also came with its own plot,
'including a private terrace
'and a parcel of land ideal for vegetable growing.'
So we've seen the house, we've seen the gardens.
You can't fail to be impressed by that spectacular view.
But you're looking worried, Niall. It's time, isn't it?
It's that money question.
How much do you think this house is currently on the market for?
That's the bit I was worried about
because I think it's probably quite a lot over our budget,
so I'm going to have to say probably 750.
-OK, and the budget, at the top, was 700.
-Yes, I think it's probably 700 to 750,000.
OK. The price for this property is £5 short of
-Easy for some to say!
-I can't believe that.
-I'm just dumbstruck, really.
Good. Why don't you go and have another wander around.
Take as long as you like and I'll catch up with you in a little while.
-All right. Thank you.
Well, two very smiling faces.
They're so pleasantly surprised, but how can you not be?
I think this is the most confident I've ever felt with a property.
I'm going to keep my fingers crossed.
A shock to them both at some £200,000 below budget,
this property offered Barry and Niall
plenty of change in their pocket
for what appeared to be their dream Derbyshire home.
But we still had the mystery proposition to see
in the heart of the Peak District National Park
in the village of Calver.
On the banks of the River Derwent,
it was part of a former textile mill.
So this is it. This is the total area for downstairs.
What you see is what you get.
Priced at £649,000,
they quickly decided it was a project to far for them.
I don't think I could see myself living here
because I just feel as though it might be
a little bit too restrictive.
It's just somewhere that I don't really feel I would be at home.
So with two serious contenders to weigh up the merits of,
which would they finally press ahead with?
The old Manor house was the clear favourite
and they loved it so much they only went and bought it.
They moved in about seven years ago -
so, plenty of time to make a few alterations.
So I'm really keen to see exactly what they've done.
It was six months after our viewing
that Barry and Niall became the formal owners
of this beautiful property...
and in the years since our house-hunting expedition,
they not only made their first joint house purchase,
they also tied the knot with a civil partnership.
'They've certainly been busy - and I look forward to catching up.'
Niall, Barry, hello.
-It's been a long time.
-Lovely to see you again.
I can't wait to see your home.
Although it was a very well presented home when I was last here,
Niall and Barry have completely transformed the place
and put their own stamp and style to it,
helped in no small part by Niall,
who stopped working in the textiles industry last year
and has recently set up business as an interior designer.
Oh, my goodness. This is beautiful.
I'd forgotten the size of the rooms.
-Yes, great proportions.
We've done lots to this room.
It's completely changed.
There was a fairly boring stone fireplace
so we've put in this fireplace,
which, I believe, is Portoro marble, it's Italian.
-You've done a wonderful job.
And, of course, you have that magnificent view.
It is like a country retreat but it feels homely at the same time.
Yes, we wanted to make the place feel a bit more like a country house
so that's the reason for the decoration.
We've tried to give it a little bit more of a grand feel
when you walk in.
As keen hosts with an eye for interiors,
they're obviously proud
of the stylish home they've created.
But before they reveal more of what they've done,
that view is calling me outside -
so Niall is making us all a brew,
and then we're going to have a proper catch up over a cuppa
out on the terrace against that incredible backdrop.
-Tea for you.
So tell me, how's it been in your not-so-new home now?
I think we've sort of managed to get it the way we want it.
We've got lots of challenges here.
-The biggest issue we have is the wind, unfortunately.
We're about a thousand feet up here
and many days it's blowing a gale and it's too windy to sit out.
But when you get the nice days, it really is wonderful.
I think you must have the best view in Derbyshire.
In fact, you'd be pushed to beat that view anywhere in the UK.
I mean, you couldn't paint that and do it justice really, could you?
No, not at all.
So do you have literally a diary ticking off who's coming to stay?
Yes, we do tend to have a diary.
It's on the board in the kitchen.
Everybody wants to come and escape.
The number of visitors does drop off in the winter, though.
And how welcoming have your neighbours been
and the local community when you first bought the property?
I must say, everyone around here is amazing.
We've got some great neighbours just across from us
who, when we moved in initially,
we obviously didn't know a soul on the road
and they organised a party and invited everybody along the road
and further afield. So that was a great introduction to people.
And, Barry, what difference has it made to you living here?
Hopefully more time for your hobbies,
because you were very keen on landscape photography
and also hiking, I seem to remember.
It's very nice just to be able to just go straight out the front door
rather than have to drive somewhere and plan it.
You notice things like the wild orchids in the limestone valleys,
which are beautiful.
Every year in May, they come round again
and you see all the seasonal variations.
It is a wonderful place to be.
You get some mornings now in the autumn
where it's just mist in the bottom of the valley
and that will lift gradually. Today, we've got beautiful sunshine.
We can open the curtains in the winter
and we've had this much snow overnight.
So you just never really know what you're going to see
and that's really one of the beautiful things about it.
So you haven't been snowed in
in the past seven years since you've been here?
We have a few times, yes.
-Well, you've both certainly whetted my appetite.
I can't wait to have a look round.
Actually, you can give me the tour this time!
-We'd be delighted.
-Yes, come on.
'With the roles reversed today,
'it's Niall and Barry who are leading the way.
'We're entering back through the large formal dining room
'where there's plenty of space
'to display their possessions and objets d'art.
'Heading right to the top of the house,
'our next stop is the attic room,
'which was used as storage when I was last here,
'but now has been transformed for Niall's interior design business.'
Yep, this is where it all happens.
I think when you were here before this room was a bit of a junk room.
It didn't look like this.
And is this a project you are working on at the moment?
These are just two boards I've put together
which are showing some new trends at the minute
that are coming onto the high street.
So it's nothing too adventurous for most people,
because I'm sure they'll be used to seeing them.
How wonderful to have a hobby and a business all in one.
I might ask to be a bit more nosy and see a few more of the rooms.
Of course. Yeah.
As we make our way back through the house
there's one more room they're eager for me to see,
which has definitely evolved since the last time I saw it.
Oh, now, I think bathrooms are worth getting excited about,
and this one certainly does it for me.
It's gorgeous. Did you do all the work yourself?
Well, we didn't do it ourselves, we got somebody to do it.
-Did you design it?
-Yes. We picked all the pieces.
We wanted to obviously change it completely because before,
it was like a boxed-in radiator.
The bath was very small.
I think it had probably been put in in the '80s,
so it was ready for a change.
We both love going in the garden.
And when you've been out in the garden all day,
there's nothing nicer than a good soak in the bath.
And then we have - would you call that a mural?
Are we allowed to call that a mural?
Yes, it's a mural. It's, sort of, a hint on a bathing-type of scene.
But the best scene is if you sit in the bath and look out the window.
And no-one looks back in, do they?
No. Not unless they've got stilts!
That is gorgeous.
It may be Niall who has the career in interior design,
but Barry isn't without creative vision too.
His passion for landscape photography is evident
throughout the home, where there is plenty of wall space
for his prints to take pride of place.
'And before I leave,
'Barry wants to take me to one of his favourite vantage points,
'high up on Chinley Churn,
'which is in the Dark Peak area of the National Park.
'This wilder and windier part of the northern peaks
'has been the inspiration
'for many of his photographs throughout the seasons.'
It's certainly breathtaking up here, isn't it?
In more ways than one.
I mean, how often do you manage to come up here hiking?
As often as I can really.
-Here we go. We can sit over here.
I'm ready for a rest!
It is the most splendid view up here, isn't it?
It's worth the climb.
Definitely. Although it is a little bit on the windy side.
It is a bit windy, a bit gusty.
So what can we see from this vantage point?
Well, we're looking west here
and you can see the city of Manchester over there.
It's got a huge cloud over it.
-Do you reckon they're going to get a downpour?
-It's raining as usual.
And then further round, that's Lyme Park over there,
-which is where they filmed Pride and Prejudice.
So, for the two of you, no regrets,
no change of heart about moving to Derbyshire?
-No, not at all.
-It feels like home?
-Definitely, yes. I travel quite a lot with my work,
but I always love coming home here the best.
Thank you both for bringing me up to one of your favourite spots.
It is glorious. We've been lucky with the weather.
It's been kind, although I think that rain is heading our way.
-I think so, yes.
-We should probably head back down.
It's going to be a lot easier going downhill, isn't it?
'What a wonderful walk, high in the Peaks,
'and a great trip down memory lane.
'Sampling a slice of Niall and Barry's country life first-hand
'has been a truly rewarding experience
'and makes my job worthwhile.'
Right across the British countryside we've seen house-buyers,
all with very different lifestyle ambitions,
fall in love with the properties we've shown them.
It's always fantastic to hear when they make that all-important offer
which goes on to be accepted.
Coming up, a couple of those memorable highlights.
'It was in the summer of 2016 when Sonali Shah was in Derbyshire
'property shopping with Pat,
'who had her best friend Tula in tow for support.
'Pat had a £300,000 budget to leave Windsor in Berkshire
'and find a characterful home in a welcoming village.
'This end-of-terrace, built in 1912, seemed perfect.'
Oh, this is stunning.
That is just... Everything's stunning.
It looks amazing.
-I'm moving in!
'There was also a beautifully finished front reception room.'
I love the open stone fireplace. Love it.
'Then, upstairs, there were three bedrooms
'with views across the valley.'
I really, really like it.
Really like it.
'The attached price tag was music to Pat's ears.'
I think you might have gone slightly over. I will go 310.
It's actually currently on the market for just under 270,000.
-It's within your budget.
'Clearly smitten, Pat made an offer that was accepted the very next day
'and is now happily living the rural dream.
'One year earlier, in the spring of 2015,
'I found myself just outside the Peak District park borders
'at this Victorian home that started life as a humble pigsty.'
So our very first property, right in the heart of the village.
-It looks good. It looks very pretty.
'I was house-hunting with Darcie and Ian from Cambridgeshire.
'They had a budget of £400,000
'to find a period house with a home office and a kitchen-diner.'
I'm really liking it. It's a well-proportioned room.
It's got the beams in the ceiling, but they're not oppressive.
I could move in and live here for some time
-before feeling I needed to change things.
'There was a generous sitting room and three comfortable bedrooms,
'but a separate annexe delivered more space than they imagined.'
So the final part of this house tour is this annexe.
-Wow. It's really cute.
-Yes, I like this.
-And for working at home,
it gives you that feeling of leaving and going to the office.
-You can lock it away at night and not have it in the lounge.
But would you be tempted to come up here
-and check your e-mails at midnight?
'And the house had a favourable price tag too.'
Well, the asking price is £310,000.
-You nearly said it, didn't you? But, yes.
-You're kidding. 310?!
'At £90,000 under their budget, it was a steal,
'and so became their much longed for country home.
'Another success story in our rural hall of fame.'
I often find that when people plan a move to the countryside
it's not just for the peace and quiet it affords.
It usually results in space, too -
lots more space for your money.
There's also the prospect of a sense of community
that can be lacking in cities.
That's exactly what Susan from London was looking for
with her move to Nottinghamshire,
guided by Mr Countryside himself, Jules Hudson.
'It was in 2013 that retired teacher Susan drafted us in
'to help her escape her small two-bedroom semidetached house
'right next to the Thames in London's Docklands.'
'I moved down to London nearly 40 years ago to start teaching,
'and because I've always worked in London,'
I've not been able to afford the sort of property
that I would really like to live in.
Now I'm looking forward to upsizing
and having the sort of space that I've always wanted.
So she wanted to increase her square footage
and cut back on the city chaos.
I'm getting a little bit tired of the hustle and bustle of London.
Waiting for buses, being squashed on Tubes.
I want to escape the crowds and live in a rural community,
village community, where the pace of life is much slower
and I could join in with lots of local events.
'And to help support her on the hunt for the perfect country property,
'Susan called on her close friend, Leslie.
'She is the person that I turn to for advice.
'She can see possibilities where I can't.
'I see my role as helping to keep Susan's feet on the ground.'
With the location fixed on Nottinghamshire,
Susan was after a character property with three bedrooms
and a large country kitchen,
all in a location with a welcoming community -
and to find this,
she had set a budget of £330,000.
'The first destination Jules took Susan and Leslie to
'was the small village of Epperstone
'where, in an exclusive development
'within the grounds of a historic manor,
'they came to the first house.'
-So property number one. There we are.
The thing we liked about it was that given where you're coming from,
where obviously you've got neighbours and it's quite secure
and it feels very at home,
this offers you the same sort of feel but in a lovely village,
Epperstone, which has got loads going on.
WI, lots of groups, the church is over there.
You know, there's a lot of community here for you to get involved with.
And something with a bit of character about it.
-It certainly has.
-Let's have a look inside and see what you think.
Right. In you come.
Let's start with the living room.
The whole thing is open-plan, as you can see.
-How does it compare with where you are at the moment
in Surrey Quays?
This is much bigger.
-This is upsizing?
-This is upsizing.
-This is upsizing plus.
And very cosy. I think you will feel very at home and safe here.
-It's really cosy.
-I'm putting myself in here already.
Well, we haven't seen the rest of it yet.
-The kitchen is through here.
-Oh, it's lovely.
-The whole thing.
-It's the whole space in one.
I love it. I really do.
-So do I.
-Is she telling the truth, Leslie?
You'll know because I might start crying in a minute.
-You'll REALLY know!
'Just off the kitchen, the staircase led them up to the first floor.'
So what have we got up here then?
Family bathroom. Very nice again.
A good double in there, which I'm thinking, Leslie, would be you.
Yes, that's my room.
There's another single there.
And so this is your bit, Sue,
Come on in, Leslie. You're hiding.
-There you go.
-I love that.
The vaulted ceiling, that's so nice.
You've got loads of built-in storage over there.
And the en-suite behind us.
-We walked past that.
-With its own sort of frosted glass.
I was going to say, what's that?
Well, it just lets in a bit more light.
-I think it's lovely.
All in all, this is a really interesting package for you.
It certainly is, yes.
'That wrapped up what appeared to be a very positive tour
'of house number one.
'All that remained was to check out the garden
'and to work out the asking price.'
What you see is pretty much what you get,
but if your green fingers get any greener,
the good news is that they're about to open some allotments
-within the development.
-And the nice thing there, of course,
is you haven't got to go and buy it so you can have a go,
and if you get bored or it becomes too much, you can just give it back.
You also get a garage with it.
So let's have a think about the price, shall we?
You've got £330,000 to spend.
-Susan, make me an offer.
I hope I can afford it. It better not be more.
OK, yes. Leslie?
I think it must be at the top end of the budget, as well.
But I'm going to go for 325.
-Wouldn't that be nice?
-That would be nice.
The good news is that that's exactly what it is.
-This could be yours for 325, yes.
-How about that?
I think it's been a really, really good start.
-It's been a great start.
-Right then, off you go.
Go and have another look around and I'll catch up with you later.
Well, I have to confess that when it comes to property number ones
in this game, they don't often get much better than this one.
'The first property was a delightful character cottage
'that was £5,000 under budget and nailed Susan's wish list.'
The house is absolutely gorgeous.
It's just such a beautiful, light, airy space.
I love it. I would love to entertain people in this space.
I'm very excited thinking about it.
'Susan was quite taken with the cottage
'but Jules still had more property to deliver.
'The next home was in the village of Coddington.
'Again, it was a charming detached cottage
'believed to date back to 1840.'
-Look at this.
-Property number two.
-A wing for me!
You're quite right.
That's why I wanted to start with this aspect of it
because it displays this L-shape
and it is a wing for you. That is a guest wing.
That is amazing.
I'm bowled over.
I'm knocked for six. I can't speak.
'A bigger proposition than the first house,
'the guest wing featured two main rooms,
'one of which had an en-suite, so could be used as a guest bedroom.
'This accommodation was attached to the main house.'
OK, Susan, come on in.
-Isn't it just?
You've given me a kitchen that's big enough to put a sofa in.
Yes, we brought that in especially!
You've given me everything I asked for.
-Look, Leslie, a proper sink.
-You've got a Belfast sink.
And a beautiful wood surface.
-And a wood burner.
Now it goes on. There's a study next door.
Come through here.
And your living room.
The study is there, which is really nice, actually.
-That is lovely.
-And then in here we've got your living room.
-Come on in.
-This is lovely, too.
That's what you said, isn't it? You didn't want a huge sitting-room,
-you wanted the space in the kitchen.
It's another really good choice.
It is really cosy, but it's a fine room as well.
-It's very elegant, isn't it?
-The way it's dressed and presented.
So, if the upstairs is as good as the downstairs, we're laughing,
-We are indeed.
Let's keep laughing. Come on.
'Along with the potential annexe rooms,
'there were three bedrooms up on the first floor
'so plenty of space for visiting friends.
'Lastly, there was the bedroom for Susan.'
And here we are in what would be, I think, your master bedroom.
No, I'm having the double aspect one at the back.
You're having the other one? You're going to have the guest room?
Yes. No, this is lovely, as well.
You've just found such a wonderful house.
-I am going to cry.
It's OK. You don't have to.
-I pull some funny faces when I cry!
I think it's a hit.
I think it is a hit, Leslie, yes.
'Emotions finally got the better of Susan
'as Jules had presented her with another contender
'for her new country home.
'It all hung on that all-important price.'
Let's ask Leslie to go first on your price guess.
I think it might be a little over budget at 335.
335. Yes, that would be nice.
Susan? I'm going even higher.
-It's not, it's 350, isn't it?
No, it's 330.
-You are joking!
You are joking!
-You're not lying to me?
-I'm not, no.
I'm really not. Come on, take it all in.
This could be yours for your budget of £330,000.
-I'm doing it again.
Go on, in you go.
-Have a good old sob.
Enjoy it and I'll catch up with you later.
And I like the other one, too!
You can only buy one!
'Right on budget, the second property
'was another beautiful cottage that seemed a perfect match
'with what Susan was looking for
'and so presented a real dilemma.
'However, Jules still had the final property to show her
'in the village of North Leverton.'
So this is it.
Not the whole house, surely?
The whole house. The whole Mystery House, yes.
'The Mystery House was a huge Grade-II listed Georgian home
'with beautifully proportioned reception rooms.'
-And it's not too big either, is it?
'It had a substantial kitchen that was full of country charm,
'complete with a range cooker.'
Can I go over and warm my hands?
By all means.
'Upstairs, there were three bedrooms
'that included a double-aspect master.
'And if the property wasn't big enough as it stood,
'there were another three bedrooms in the adjoining annexe too.'
It's gorgeous. It really is gorgeous.
But it's a project
and it's a project for somebody that's 20 years younger than me.
'Susan ruled out the big and beautiful Mystery House,
'leaving two character cottages in the mix.
'One whitewashed with an open-plan interior,
'and the other built with red bricks that had an annexe attached.
'But, of course, only one would become
'her dream Nottinghamshire escape.'
I think Jules did a fine job with those first two offerings
but it became clear that the Mystery House
was just that little bit too much for Susan to take on.
So house number one or house number two?
Which one did she decide to go for?
I'm delighted to reveal she went for house number one.
So I think it's time that I met up with Susan to find out
how she's got on since she escaped to the country.
I hope she's got that kettle on.
-Lovely to meet you.
-Lovely to meet you too.
'Jules had been property shopping with Susan in the spring of 2013
'and she had her offer accepted
'just a couple of days after their viewing.
'Four months later, it became her new address
'and she's been its proud homeowner for the last three years.'
Susan, it is so lovely to meet you, and Jules sends his regards.
He's very keen to get an update on this beautiful property.
That's nice to know. I very much enjoyed filming with Jules
and, of course, I have this lovely house from your programme -
and I really can't thank you enough for that
because, well, I'm just so happy here.
Have you had to change anything here?
No, I haven't changed anything at all.
A local carpenter built me the thing that the television is on
and some wardrobes upstairs.
-So, really, furnishings.
-Yes, just furnishings.
I said to Jules that I could just pop my furniture in a van,
come up here and move in, and that's exactly what I did.
Because you were coming from London, weren't you?
-Have there been any regrets at all?
Do you miss your old London life?
No, apart from the art exhibitions
that you have to make an effort to go to now.
You can't just choose one morning to go and see them.
No regrets at all.
You brought with you on this search your best friend in the world.
I think you've been friends for about 40 years or so.
Leslie. Has she been to see this house since you bought it?
She's stayed here several times, but Leslie now lives in Italy.
She is pursuing her dream of living life in another language.
Her Italian is coming on in leaps and bounds.
But she loves coming over here to visit you?
-And we're sitting here in your beautiful cottage.
Peace, quiet, surrounded by the countryside.
What a change in lifestyle and it works for you.
It certainly does. I don't think I've ever been so content.
Now it is a rather gorgeous village, Epperstone,
and I know that was important for you when you were making the move
that you did have neighbours, you had a community around you.
How has that worked out?
Fabulous. The day after I moved in,
I went down to the pub for the coffee morning
and met loads of people, and I don't think I've looked back since.
-No. Everybody I've met is just wonderful.
'Susan really has thrown herself into village life
'and is involved in everything from the WI to quiz nights,
'the church and a local ladies darts team.
'She's taking me into the village where some of her team-mates
'have gathered for a little practice session.'
-How are you?
-This is Nicki.
Here are some of my friends from the darts team.
Good to meet you.
'Time to partner up.
'Susan is with Rosemary,
'and poor Lisa will have to make do with an inexperienced me.
'And it's Lisa who's first up.'
There's no messing, I'm feeling very confident with my team.
'Next, it's Rosemary for Team Susan.'
'Now for my turn.'
Here we go. RECORD SCRATCH
Do you really want to stand there with me playing?
I think you should take a good step back.
Just in case.
No laughing if I miss.
-At least I got it on the board, didn't I?
'And lastly, Susan is going to show us her skills.'
How long have you been playing?
I've been playing for a couple of years, but I'm the reserve.
They only play me if there's nobody else.
That's not fair.
'I think Susan's just being modest,
'as from what I've seen she must be a valued member of the team.
'And it's really great to experience a little of the highlights
'in Susan's action-packed country calendar.
'As well as a close-knit community and a country cottage,
'another of Susan's aspirations was to own a narrow boat.
'And just a couple of months ago,
'the opportunity arose to purchase one.
'It's moored just 20 minutes away, and Susan is keen for me to see it.'
So, Susan, this is your boat.
-This is my boat.
-What's her name?
The Gentleman's Relish.
That's rather fruity, isn't it?
-I didn't give it its name!
-So you've escaped to the country
-and now you want to escape on the waterways?
What made you buy her?
I think it's something that I've always wanted to do.
Have a boat. I've always loved boating holidays.
I like bobbing about on the water
and if I didn't do it now I might regret it.
So I thought...
-The opportunity came up, so I took it.
I would love to go out on her. However, it's quite gusty today.
And as I'm still a novice I don't think I'd get her off the moorings,
-I don't know how good I'd be as a first mate, either.
But can we go on board and perhaps have a nice cup of tea?
We'll have a nice tea and a tour.
Right. I've got to ask you one more thing.
-Captain, permission to board?
And mind your head.
It is certainly narrow.
Here we are. You come straight into the kitchen.
-A little sink, a little heater.
And then on we go.
On we go to the dining area which,
when we have to sleep on the boat, it converts into a double bed.
And this is the lounge area.
Bijou, compact but beautiful.
You did offer me, I think, a cup of tea?
-Shall I put the kettle on?
Back to the galley.
People think long and hard about making the move.
They always talk about it being a huge leap of faith,
because you're leaving behind what you know.
What advice would you give them?
Just do it. Don't talk about it, don't think about it, just do it.
-You wouldn't change a thing?
-Wouldn't change...not one thing.
-Cheers to that.
-And thank you.
When we're house-hunting with our buyers,
we spend so much time with them they truly feel like family.
So it's great to have this opportunity to see for ourselves
the difference making the move has made to their lives,
because it's not just the physical side
of perhaps changing a few counties -
it's the peace and tranquillity that country life gives them.
If you dream of escaping to the country in Wales, Scotland,
England or Northern Ireland, and would also like our help,
why not apply online at...
Nicki Chapman heads to Derbyshire's Peak District to revisit a house-hunting couple who have used their interior design flair to beautifully refurbish a property she first took them to and they ended up buying. After being impressed by their 'country house' inspired décor, she takes in the dramatic setting of the National Park, where her house hunters now enjoy walking and landscape photography. Later, Nicki crosses the border into Nottinghamshire and catches up with a retired teacher who has been loving life in her Escape cottage for the past few years. Nicki sees how her move has been a springboard to a new social life and allowed her to realise a long-harboured dream of owning a narrowboat.