Jules Hudson catches up with house hunters who left behind their hectic working lives in Brighton and relocated to Herefordshire.
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Making the move from the city to the countryside
is often a momentous step.
Never in a million years I would imagine I would 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 rural home.
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...
Oh. But how pretty is that?
..that our buyers just couldn't resist.
Seriously, get your cheque book out now.
Join us as we catch up with those who made it happen...
-This is exactly what you like, isn't it?
-Yeah. 'Scuse me, guys.
..to find out how the move changed their lives
when they Escaped To The Country.
Well, today we're on the Welsh borders,
and these are the magnificent remains of Llanthony Priory.
It was founded back in the 12th century by Augustinian monks and has
dominated this glorious slice of Monmouthshire's countryside
Now, of course, my calling here today is an exciting one,
because we'll be catching up with some past property-hunters
who've turned their rural dream into a reality here.
I'll be knocking on the country doors of our past house-hunters who
successfully made their dream escape to my home county of Herefordshire,
and also to the neighbouring Welsh county of Monmouthshire.
Coming up, I'll be reunited with my past escapees Sandy and Pete.
They've only been living the rural life in Wales for a matter of weeks,
but are already feeling right at home
in one of the beautiful houses I presented to them.
But before that, I'm going to get acquainted with Les and Ian,
who made their move just across the border on the English side.
They, too, found themselves under the spell of one of our houses
and are completely enchanted by the idyllic country life
they're now leading.
The seeds of escaping were sown when we first met them at their home
just outside Brighton in the autumn of 2015.
Both Les and Ian knew that their bungalow in a suburban cul-de-sac
wasn't where they pictured themselves in the future.
'We met seven-and-a-half years ago.
'We met through mutual friends,'
-and we've been living together for five years?
And we've been civil partners for three.
'I think we're very excited about buying a house together
'for the first time.'
-We're really looking forward to it, aren't we?
-I think it's going to be
easy, because we've got very similar tastes.
We kind of know pretty comprehensively
what we're looking for.
And probably more importantly, what we don't like.
Yeah, I think we're both singing from the same hymn sheet, as they say.
Ian was working as a nursing assistant,
while Les was involved in the finance sector.
but they both had plans to semi-retire
and streamline their busy lives.
I want to do something completely different, not quite sure what yet.
May do something together, may do something separately,
we're not quite sure, so the world's our oyster.
And we think moving to the country will just be a nice,
simpler lifestyle. Less frenetic, I would say, probably.
We certainly love walking, and we feel
that we've exhausted this area now.
That's another reason why we want to move,
because we can explore new areas, and there's plenty of walking
opportunities where we're planning to move to.
I love cooking, so I want to expand on that.
And that will also involve growing a lot of food as well,
which everyone says they do, I know, but we will.
So with grand ambitions of gardening and self-sufficiency,
they wanted a detached country home with a large kitchen/diner,
plus at least half an acre of grounds.
To find this, they'd set a budget of £300,000.
And it was my Escape colleague Ginny Buckley who was supporting them
on their Herefordshire country quest.
The house-hunting started in the hamlet of Ivington Green,
and the first house Ginny presented to Les and Ian
was this detached cottage
with a lovely outlook across agricultural fields
and walking trails right on the doorstep.
So this is our property.
-Oh. Oh, it looks very nice.
Sits quite nicely.
-It is, yeah, it's beautiful views.
Fantastic views. It's quiet, but not too far away from anywhere, so, no,
I think it looks really good.
Promising impressions from the outside,
and the first stop inside was the main reception.
-What do you think of the size of this room?
-It's quite small.
-Would this be your main living room?
-This is the main living area, yeah.
It's a bit on the snug side.
This is a nice space, isn't it?
Yeah, this is the extension that was added on in the '80s.
-It's a big room.
-This is good, yeah, I like this.
The house also came with a conservatory and three bedrooms.
Then, an extensive garden provided Les and Ian
with plenty of options for growing fruit and veg.
I think this is great - this is just the sort of size I was kind of
-thinking of, really.
-Yeah, I agree with that, really.
It's not too big, not overwhelming.
Comfortably under budget at £250,000,
Ginny was off to a reasonable start.
But she was about to expand those property proportions at the next
destination, which was in the small village of Pontrilas.
So this is a property I wanted to show you.
-It is big,
and that's one of the reasons I wanted to show it to you,
because I know you've got a lot of friends, they'll be coming to stay
with you, you'll be entertaining.
It gives you the space to be able to do that.
-Yeah, very interesting.
-Yeah, it's very attractive.
This generous Edwardian property was full of character features.
Upstairs boasted four comfortably-sized double bedrooms,
each of which came with an original feature fireplace.
And downstairs had no less than three separate reception rooms,
plus a lovely farmhouse kitchen/diner.
-Look at this.
Oh, I love a wow!
Well, you got a wow.
My God, it's huge.
-It is. Again, you've got original cupboards over there...
..you've got a range.
I love the style of it. This is very much the stuff we like, isn't it?
-And you're smiling.
It was all going really well, but things were about
to close in outside.
This is what you get.
The garden is small, isn't it?
It is, it is.
But I think you can do things with it.
Yeah, there's potential. Cos we do realise you've got to compromise
somewhere, and we're happy to do that.
And the idea of compromising was an even sweeter pill to swallow
when the price was revealed.
Another property well under their £300,000 budget, at £240,000.
The next day, it was time to unveil the mystery house,
where compromise really was the key.
It was located in the pretty village of Ewyas Harold,
right on the border of England and Wales.
-I love the look of it.
-I think it looks great.
-It's a detached stone property,
dates back to the early 1800s, and it's a barn conversion.
-And the mystery isn't just the location here in the village -
there isn't a garden with this property.
-No garden at all?
-No, that's your compromise.
There's a tiny little courtyard garden, that's all.
I'm excited about this one.
-So am I, I'm very excited.
-Can't wait to see it now.
Right in the heart of a much sought-after and classic
Herefordshire village, this 19th-century detached
mystery property had great appeal and presence from the front.
So we're straight into this fantastic, cosy
You can really see the history of the barn, can't you?
-Wow, this is great.
-Do you like it?
Very much. This is exactly what you like as well, isn't it?
Yeah. 'Scuse me, guys.
-It's just really nice.
Has it just got you somewhere?
-You all right?
Yeah, I'm fine, but it's just so lovely.
It's really just what we're looking for, really, isn't it?
It is, this is exactly what we want.
-I love the stone walls...
-The stone walls.
..the beams, and the thickness of the walls. The feel of it.
Well, we're off to a good start.
Well, if it's character and space you're after,
-how about this?
Oh, crikey, this is lovely.
Oh, my God, this is great.
This is really beautiful.
Like a minstrels' gallery.
-Isn't it lovely?
Well, there's no tears from you,
but you do seem quite emotional in your reaction to it.
Oh, yeah, I'll cry in private, don't worry!
Provoking high and hidden emotions,
there was no doubt that the style and proportions of the
mystery property were having a really positive impact.
As well as the kitchen/breakfast room and large living room,
the ground floor also had a study accessed via the dining room.
This separate dining area would make a great space for formal occasions
when hosting all the guests that Ian and Les
were planning on entertaining.
The study behind it had original exposed brickwork
and offered peace and privacy.
This is...this is exactly what we were thinking about,
from when we were talking about moving.
Something a bit unusual, something a bit different.
And, you know, even the colours are just so lovely.
Yeah, it's bright, it's really bright.
What I haven't told you is that, upstairs,
you've plenty of space as well. You've got four bedrooms.
-Just go and decide which one could be the master suite.
Upstairs, off a galleried landing,
lay two bedrooms at the rear of the property.
Then, the other two had aspects to the front and included the largest
double, as well as a small room used for craft and sewing.
A third bedroom was presented as a dressing room,
next to which was another pleasantly-decorated double.
Overall, the house itself was doing well so far,
but Ginny was about to reveal the outside space.
Here we are, straight out into...
..a compact little courtyard.
It's very private, though.
-It feels very private.
-It is, yeah, it is.
And it's small. You know, we saw the small one yesterday as well,
-and we were prepared to compromise on that, so...
..yeah, I think we could live with that.
What do you think this is on the market for?
I think it's going to be very near the top of our budget.
So I'm going to say...
I'm going to say a very hopeful 285.
Ian...you're bang on,
-it's on the market for £295,000.
-Yeah, I was convinced it would be over.
-Yes, I was, too.
-So very excited.
-That's great. That's fantastic.
Would you like to go and look around again?
-We'd love to.
-I think we should.
Go on, then, go and take your time.
-Come and find me when you're ready.
This is fantastic. They've gone from hoping for half an acre
to being happy with a pretty little patio.
It just shows - if the house is right, that's all that matters.
Well, what a surprise turn of events.
Ginny's historic mystery house seemed to be a perfect match
for Ian and Les, despite the lack of garden.
I'm very excited by this house.
And it's certainly a very strong contender.
We're definitely excited about this house, yeah.
There's no doubt about that.
As I say, it really got us thinking from when we saw it first,
that this is, really, the kind of ideal house for us.
So we're definitely going to give it some serious thought.
So, after viewing three very different properties,
Ian and Les had plenty of options to consider, all with their own merits.
The first one had the large garden they wanted.
Then, there was the sizeable Edwardian option,
with a much smaller plot.
And finally, that 19th-century mystery house
with absolutely no garden at all.
But which property did they finally plump for?
Well, in my experience,
it came as no great surprise to once again see the mystery house
rise to the challenge.
Even moving Ian to tears as he tried to take it all in.
And by the time Ginny left them, it was perfectly clear that
any thoughts about a reasonable-sized garden had
long since evaporated. But, when the dust had finally settled,
was this really going to be the sort of home that Ian and Les would buy?
Well I'm delighted to say that it was, and indeed it is.
This is it, their beautiful mystery house.
So let's see how they're getting on...
if they're in! HE LAUGHS
HE KNOCKS ON DOOR
-Nice to meet you, I'm Jules.
-Hello, Les, how are you?
-Hi, very well, thanks.
-Well done, you lot. Look at it - your new home.
-Pretty good, isn't it?
-What do you think?
-I love it.
-Did you bring a kettle?
-We did, and we've unpacked it.
Brilliant, fire it up. HE LAUGHS
It took six months to secure the property
from that first viewing with Ginny.
And it was in this very kitchen where emotions ran high
and their country dream came closer.
Well, guys, first things first, Ginny sends her best.
And she, of course, is delighted that you finally made the move.
Well, you've picked a really vibrant village,
and you've got so many amenities.
Certainly, and we've become very good friends with the couple in
the shop next door. We've been round there for dinner, haven't we?
-And met other villagers through them, which has been good.
We have, and, of course, where we are is perfect because everybody
passes our front door, so we got to know people really quickly.
It's not exactly, you know, peace and quiet, is it?
You've got the footpath right next door,
the shop on the other side. But for you, that's been a positive?
Yeah, it's been great. I mean, because everybody uses it,
we've met everybody in the village really quickly.
So in the past six months, I think we've kept the door open
pretty much permanently. Especially in the hot weather.
-And everyone's got to know us and the cat.
So does Brighton seem a long way away now?
It does actually, yeah.
It does, and we don't miss it in the slightest.
-This is perfect for us.
-Especially the M25.
Yeah, absolutely, I don't blame you for not seeing that again!
But apart from where we are,
what was it about the building that really sold it to you?
Well, we liked the kitchen. It was the first room we saw when we walked in.
We thought, "This is lovely." But we weren't quite prepared for the shock
we had when we walked through into the lounge.
-Ah, yes, that was the wow?
There were tears in the kitchen, Ian,
were there more tears that I don't know about in the living room?
No, I managed to contain myself by then.
Well, I can't wait to see it for myself.
Do you mind if I take a peek?
-Not at all.
-I might even cry myself, you never know.
Let's have a look. Wow. Oh, yes.
You don't expect this, do you, from the front door?
No, it's a bit of a surprise, isn't it?
Isn't it just!
It's really lovely to see what I call the bones of
a building, to see the timber coming through.
And I can see through the double doors there
the now-infamous courtyard garden.
You said goodbye to green space
because this wowed you enough to forego it.
Do you really miss having a garden?
I think we would've liked a bit more land if we could have had it.
We've got plenty of beautiful green countryside round us, as you know,
so that's our garden, really, isn't it?
It'd be nice to have our own.
And growing your own, would that still be of interest?
-Oh, yes, yes.
-We are at the moment, but we're obviously limited for space.
-I have a solution for you.
There's a little place I know just down the road.
Drink up, come on. Follow me. HE LAUGHS
I'm taking Les and Ian on a short drive,
less than ten minutes from Ewyas Harold, towards Abergavenny,
as I want to show them what's on offer at Crucorney Allotments.
Just five years ago it was a farmer's field,
but has since been carved up into 28 separate plots
that are now available for a yearly rent
where locals can grow their own fruit, veg and flowers.
Well, gents, this is my solution to your tiny,
very ungreen courtyard garden.
-And you could have one of these - a huge plot if you want it.
There's one big one left.
-It's 22 metres-by-12.
-Crikey, that's big, isn't it?
-That will feed us.
What you're looking at here is a full plot.
This is currently managed by a lady I believe in her late 70s
for the princely sum of...
£65 a year.
Crikey. That's really good, isn't it?!
-And, of course,
you've got another green-fingered community to come and meet.
Yes, that's true.
Yeah, it's very sociable, as well, I imagine.
A lot of lovely, fresh country air.
Now, talking of fresh country air,
I gather that you two already have found a favourite walk near the
-village, is that right?
-Right on the doorstep.
-Come on, let's go for a wander.
See the local sites...now you're experts!
Back in Ewyas Harold,
Ian and Les are taking me to the top of the hill overlooking the village.
It's the perfect place to fully appreciate why they now call this
beautiful place home.
-Wow, that's a view, lads.
-Spectacular, isn't it?
-Isn't it! Looking across there to the Black Mountains, beautiful.
I mean, this does really set the scene as to why you did it,
-It is, it is. It's just five minutes' walk from our house.
-Do you come up here and have to sort of pinch yourselves
and think, "We've finally done it?"
We've done that - we've sat here and we've thought, "Oh, my God,
"we've actually done it and it's worked out perfectly."
We've absolutely no regrets.
Well, that was going to be my final question - any regrets at all?
-No, and I think everyone's been so friendly and made us feel very
welcome here, and that's been a big help.
It's been an easy transition. It's easier than you think.
Well, guys, it's been a real pleasure to meet you today.
I wish I'd done your house tour now.
We've had such a good laugh over the last few hours.
-Come and we do it again!
-Well, look, I'm delighted,
I've got two new neighbours.
-Thank you very much indeed.
-Nice to meet you, too.
-OK, Jules, thank you.
-Come on, let's go find a pint, shall we? BOTH:
Right across the British countryside, I've seen house buyers
all with very different lifestyle ambitions
fall in love with the properties we have shown them.
It's always wonderful to hear when they make that
all-important offer which goes on to be accepted.
Coming up, a couple of highlights from other house-hunting success
stories here in the Welsh borders.
In the summer of 2016, Margherita Taylor was helping
Bristol-based couple Peter and Karen to find their country escape.
For a budget of £500,000, they were after a detached three-bedroom
property with a good-sized garden.
The very first house Margherita unveiled was in
the small Herefordshire village of Llangarron,
and it immediately hit the jackpot.
Fabulous cottage, wraparound garden.
-Ten out of ten so far.
-I like that!
Dating back to the 1900s,
this beautiful detached cottage was immaculately presented both outside
and in. It offered three bedrooms with lovely views...
..a sumptuous sitting room,
a bright sunroom, and a modern country kitchen.
Can't fault it at all.
The size is perfect.
-It's homely, it's got character, it's just the right size.
But it was in the pretty wraparound garden where a bonus
converted outbuilding really blew Karen away.
Oh, for goodness' sake!
Oh, my God, Pete!
This is absolutely fantastic.
-It really is.
-Are you OK?
Oh, Karen, it's OK.
It's good when you find somewhere you love.
We can start living.
With a price £50,000 below their £500,000 budget,
it was job done.
Three months later, Karen and Peter moved into this gorgeous cottage,
where they're now living their long-held country dream.
A year earlier, in 2015,
Alistair Appleton was supporting Nicki and Carl from Hampshire
in their quest to live the good life.
They had a budget of £475,000 and wanted lots of land somewhere rural
with no near neighbours.
So when Alistair took them to this detached three-bedroom home off
the beaten track in the county of Powys, the setting was ideal.
-Potential, lots of potential.
-Yeah, potential, and that view is...
That view is winning.
-It really is.
It's fair to say that the house needed some work...
-It needs updating.
-Yeah, definitely potential.
..but the proportions made a good impression.
-Yeah, "wow" indeed!
However, it was the six acres of land plus outbuildings
that really won them over.
It's really quite exciting.
-I want to buy it.
At £435,000, the smallholding
was £40,000 under budget,
so Nicki and Carl snapped it up and are living the rural life
they both aspired to lead.
Now, over the years, I've met many couples who sought to beat a retreat
here, including Pete and Sandy,
for whom the hustle and bustle of Oxford was getting
a little bit too much.
We first met the husband-and-wife duo in the spring of 2016 at their
rented home in Oxfordshire, which doubled up as their place of work.
We run a business from home. It's basically importing
Anything that comes in a bottle, whether it's beer or horse shampoo,
then we can bottle it, label it and cap it.
We're always with each other, sort of 24/7,
but it's worked out really lovely.
I think we enjoy each other's company.
Pete and Sandy's working partnership was a happy one,
but there wasn't much harmony outside their home,
sandwiched between a new housing development,
a power station and a massive pylon.
'The master plan is we can run this business from anywhere in the world
'that's got an internet connection and a phone.'
We've looked at the area along the Welsh borders,
and we both like the countryside there very much.
I'm quite keen on canoeing, I quite like the Wye,
because you get a lot of lovely scenery on the way,
and just very tranquil.
I look forward to having that on my doorstep.
You're more of a city girl, really, and I'm a country boy,
but we can compromise.
Best of both worlds, basically - that's what we're looking for.
So with the destination set,
they called on us to find their first house purchase together
in the Welsh borders, and their brief was simple enough.
They wanted a modern but characterful home
with a kitchen/diner,
three bedrooms and space for their bottling business.
And to achieve it, they had a budget of £365,000.
The house-hunt began in the Herefordshire village of Whitchurch,
and the first house I showed them was thought to date back to the 1830s.
Right, then, this is property number one.
-All of it?
-All of it? But, yeah, you get the whole thing.
-Initially, we're happy?
-Let's see if that continues as we get in.
An entrance at the far end of the cottage took us through a lobby
into the main reception room.
Well, Sandy, is this the sort of...?
-..historic journey you were thinking about?
Wow, most definitely. Wow, look at the staircase!
What do you think, Pete?
Yes, I like it very much, yeah. First impressions count,
and first impressions are very good.
-Let's go through to the kitchen/diner, cos I think you might like this.
-OK. Great stuff.
I really love the way they've done this - new units, new tops,
the whole thing recently refurbished, as you can tell.
Very tastefully done, too. Very tasteful.
-Got enough room there to sit down at the table.
-If you wanted.
-The old and the new.
-I'm very happy.
Our stone cottage got us off do a great start,
combining period character with the modern twist Sandy liked.
Upstairs offered a large family bathroom, a double guest bedroom,
and another room used as a home office.
Lastly, there was the master.
I do like the stone feature. That's one of my favourites, so, yes.
I mean, given this is your first home together, I mean,
it's a nice opportunity for you to make a fresh start.
Is this the sort of building that would allow you to do that?
With me, definitely, yes.
Yes, I think the same. You get to look outside,
I'd be interested to see what garden there is.
Right, then, terrace and garden next, then. Follow me.
It was a big thumbs-up for this village-located cottage from
self-confessed city girl Sandy, but I sensed hesitation from Pete,
who was longing for real rural isolation.
The outside featured a raised south-facing courtyard and deck terrace,
from which there were impressive views of the surrounding hills.
So let's think about the price, then.
You have £365,000 to spend.
Sandy, make us an offer for property number one.
OK. Hard. I would say...
-Oh, over budget?
-Yeah, I think so.
A little steep, I think. I'm going to hazard a guess at 330.
This is on the market for...
You're joking me.
Leaving £67,000 to spare,
the stone cottage seamlessly combined old with new
and had scope for a home office.
But Sandy definitely seemed more enthusiastic about this
first option than husband Pete.
The search then continued and took us to the very rural location
of Garway Hill,
where I had an archetypal escape house to show them -
a registered smallholding located down a quiet country lane.
So, how about this, then, guys?
-It looks tremendous.
-You're probably thinking,
"You've brought me to the middle of nowhere."
You're not as remote as you might think.
Thank you, you're helping me there.
Well, I think, for you,
this is probably more you than the first one.
And look at that view.
What an eyesore(!)
As you can see, they've made much of it with this new addition of this
fully specced-up garden room.
It even has its own loo, etc.
This looks fantastic!
-Brilliant. Shall we have a look?
Originally dating back to the 1860s,
an extension which housed the kitchen/diner
was added in the 1990s.
There we are.
It wasn't a "wow", what's going through your mind?
No, I'm just taken aback how small it is, the kitchen.
I wasn't thinking small, it's larger than the last one,
it extends into the dining area there.
But could you make it work? I mean, that's the question.
-I'm saying a yes.
-Yes, definitely, yes.
Well, that was an unequivocal yes, I'll take two yeses, that great!
Come on, then.
I think it's a little small for me, a bit too cosy.
I can see this is an easy sell to your husband.
-I think we are going to have to work a little harder on you.
You're going to have to work a little bit harder.
-That's fair enough!
-You'll come around to my way of thinking eventually.
It's got to work for both of you. Come on, let's have a look upstairs.
'So there was a clear difference of opinion
'on this detached, rural smallholding.
'Upstairs, the house had three double bedrooms,
'including a decent-sized master.
'Outside, as well as the great garden room,
'the plot boasted a variety of sheds and a cider-apple orchard,
'all in an acre of grounds overlooking the valley.'
Look at that!
If you'd asked for this view, we'd never have found a property with it,
and look, there it is, as a bonus.
365 is your budget.
What's this on the market for?
You obviously thought about that, that was very direct.
-Off the cuff!
I think because we've got a bit more land, I would say...
Oh, you're keeping us in suspense again!
Come on, then, do a bit more arm-twisting.
You might have to!
Again under budget, this second house
was another strong option that particularly appealed to Pete.
Oh, yes, that is beautiful, isn't it?
It is, it's spectacular, I can't knock the view, it is breathtaking.
And this is our land, potentially.
It could be.
Well, with two houses down,
I was pretty confident at this stage that our first day of house-hunting
had gone reasonably well.
The problem, of course, was that whilst Pete loved one, well,
Sandy loved the other.
So with our final roll of the dice,
could we find something that would unite them and provide that happy
compromise? Well, that, of course, is where our Mystery House came in.
In trying to please everybody,
our final destination took us into the Welsh community
of Llangybi in Monmouthshire.'
So, at last, I can reveal to you the Mystery House.
There it is, guys,
A lovely, converted barn, what do you think of that, Sandy?
I definitely like it, I like the stonework.
It looks light and airy.
I know you preferred a bit more of this over Sandy's desire
to be more in, you know, a conventional village.
I'm always willing to compromise.
Well, this is the compromise, and as you can see,
there are a number of other buildings being redeveloped here on this old farm complex.
-There will be seven.
-Yeah, I noticed.
OK, so we will have quite a few neighbours.
You will have some neighbours, so it will be a little sort of hamlet.
And, as you can tell, it's got this lovely sense of texture about it,
but with this lovely, very modern twist.
But would that kind of compromise work for the pair of you?
For me, yes, I will say so.
I mean, are you feeling a bit anxious about this open space?
No, I like it, I do like open space.
Are you happy with all this?
Er, there are no negative points whatsoever I wish
to make at this stage.
Right, sir, let's go inside!
'By combining 18th century agricultural origins
'with up-to-date features for contemporary living,
'I was hoping this barn conversion would be the persuading force
'that Pete and Sandy needed on their search.
'The bones of the building were some three centuries old,
'but brand-new bifold doors took us into a very sleek,
Well, Sandy, how about this?
-Now you're talking!
-Yes, look at it!
It's kind of modern loft living, but with a nice rural twist.
-Funky, or what?
I am very pleased.
Would this, then, Sandy, persuade you to take the leap
-to rural Monmouthshire?
Now you should be taking this with both hands, mate,
cos this is all good, this is a bit of you and a bit of Sandy.
-So what do you think of this one, then, Pete?
I love it, too.
'Off the kitchen lay a snug...
'..a ground floor wet room...
'..and a utility room.
'Then, completing this floor was a large sitting area.'
We thought from the outside,
"It's not that big," but it just seems huge now you're inside.
But what it does offer you, I think, is a truly flexible amount of space,
and that's where it scores.
That's right, yeah, I think it's ticking all the boxes.
For me, it is very rural,
though you've got this prospect of the other houses
going up in the same area, so a little community,
-so it could well be the compromise we're looking for.
So, happily, it seemed that our mystery offering
was serving up Pete's idea of country life,
as well as satisfying Sandy's design tastes and her wish for
community close by.
Upstairs, there was another wet room,
alongside two similarly sized doubles -
one for guests and the other for Pete and Sandy.
Back outside, there was also a potential new home
for their bottling business in the double garage,
plus the good-sized garden had areas of decking and a lawn which,
although overlooked, well, it was only by the local sheep.
I love it, it just gets better and better. Yeah, it's my dream.
-Oh, is it?
-Oh, excellent! Music to your ears, I think.
Well, it is indeed, but now I'm starting to get worried, you see,
because I've got to look at the cold, hard facts - can we afford it,
for instance, is a major factor!
Yes, indeed. Let's talk about those facts, then.
You love it so much, you can go first on this one.
Right, I'm going to say, I'm going over budget, I'm going to say 375.
Yeah, it's almost impossible,
I'm going to show solidarity with my wife here, and I'm saying 375.
It is on at £375,000.
You see, we've brought you together,
we've brought you together at last, in more ways than one -
not just in the property, but also in the numbers.
So it is 375. Now, having said that, of course, over budget,
the owners know your budget.
-And we are cash buyers, more or less.
Absolutely, yeah, so I think your budget would do the trick.
We may have to have a discussion.
-I would. Are you happy now?
This modern conversion of an 18th century barn was a great
combination of old and new
that was ideally positioned in a lovely countryside setting.
It's not the kind of property we'd sort of imagined at all, I don't think.
Sometimes you need someone to give your imagination a bit of a kick,
and you've certainly done that.
At the end of our house-hunting excursion,
I'd left Sandy and Pete with a range of strong possibilities
to choose from.
First off, there was the stone cottage that really appealed to Sandy.
Then the rural smallholding that was a favourite with Pete.
Not forgetting, of course, our modern mystery barn conversion with views over farmland.
But which one of these three was to become their new countryside address?
Well, there's no getting away from the fact that that Mystery House
certainly seemed to wow both Pete and Sandy - agreement at last,
so much so, in fact, they did end up getting out their cheque book.
Yes, they bought it!
So let's go and track them down and find out how they're getting on.
From the outside, the house hasn't changed that much,
as they've only been in for four weeks,
and since it's been such a short time,
they've hardly had any visitors.
So it's an honour to be one of their very first guests.
-Hi, Jules, how lovely to see you!
How are you? Lovely to see you! Hello, Pete!
Wow, look at this!
Well, here we are again.
It feels like yesterday that I was showing this to you.
Glorious! You've finally done it.
Well, guys, I am delighted to see that you finally made the move,
but I do recall, when we first came here,
this was a property that made my job so easy,
because it is something that really sells itself.
It was love at first sight for us, I think.
I mean, that's one of the great selling points, isn't it?
That wonderful view right across Monmouthshire.
I mean, every morning now, Sandy, you get to enjoy that.
I think that sold the house for me, the actual view itself,
it's just beautiful. I mean, who cannot like that?
I think the only downside, actually,
moving to the countryside is our internet connection.
Well, you're not alone in that!
But it is one of those things,
and of course you're running a business from home, Pete.
How's that working out for you?
Um, difficult, but you know,
I've got various options of offices in the town as well.
What's been the biggest challenge for you in coming to terms
with what's been a pretty rapid and dramatic change in lifestyle?
Well, mine is definitely the grandchildren.
I used to see them once a week, and now I don't see them!
I've been to see them once so far. That's my biggest wrench, I think.
Sandy has been busy with the upcycling, renovation type work.
-We're getting there.
So what have you done, Sandy,
to bring your hallmark to the furnishings?
We bought this table and chair set, didn't we?
Stripped it back, I varnished it,
waxed it - about ten times.
It's got a lovely feel, hasn't it, yeah?
Trying to get a nice sort of old look to it.
So how much was this when you bought it?
It was a steal at 50 quid.
But it must be lovely, then, having the opportunity to, you know,
bring something of that creativity to a new home
that you can now kind of create together.
That's right, it's our first home together,
and it's lovely putting it together.
You know, it's not the biggest property we've ever sold,
but it does have a lovely warm feeling and a real sense of space.
Now we're starting to try and beautify it a little bit.
There is, however, one obvious omission,
I'm just looking up there at the ceiling!
You do need a couple of lights there, don't you?
-I think so.
-Well, I might have a solution for you.
There is a really good reclamation yard not that far away.
-OK, game on.
Come on, then. Let's go upcycling, shall we?
You're going to love this place.
'Half an hour's drive north from Pete and Sandy's home
'into the heart of the Brecon Beacons near Crickhowell
'is a place that I think's the perfect spot for sourcing
'unique and affordable household accessories.'
Now, this is one of my favourite haunts in the area...
..Gallops reclamation yard.
Look at it, it is just full of all sorts of bits and pieces
which I think you could use in furnishing your new home.
How about these? A nice bench for you!
I think they're great, they're fab, absolutely lovely, aren't they, Pete?
-This, does it...?
So you could change the direction of the class.
Sit this way and then sit that way.
But come on, let's have a look at the rest of it.
Now, I know we're here to look at lights,
but I get so easily distracted in a place this.
Your garden is a bit plain at the moment, isn't it?
It's almost bare, it's got a few benches but...
-Lots of grass.
-Yeah, I was being polite,
but bare is probably the way to describe it.
I like these big lions here.
-I won't put them in the back of our car but...
Yeah...everything's deliverable, you know, for a price.
-But look, we digress, lighting is what we're after. Come on.
'Reclamation yards can be an upcycler's paradise,
'and also full of traditional or industrial gems
'for both the garden and the home.
'Pieces can range from large to small
'and include anything from ornate garden furniture and statues
'to original cast-iron fireplaces,
'antique advertising signs, decorative tiles and lights.'
Look at this, guys!
Lighting all over the place, look at these,
fabulous kind of industrial lights, wouldn't they look good?
They're fantastic, lighting galore!
'When it comes to buying second-hand electrical goods,
'do be sure that the items have been PAT tested for safety
'and are fit for purpose.'
This, this is the same as that.
A matching pair. I think our place is big enough
that we could have something chunky.
Feel the quality, they don't make them like that any more!
-Isn't that lovely?
-I love it.
-Glass on the bottom.
-Isn't that nice, actually?
This is just the sort of thing I would like...
-I think that's ideal.
-..in my kitchen.
Probably, you know, '40s, 1940s,
something like that? So how many of those would you want?
Half a dozen.
A couple, matching pair?
'Well, mission accomplished,
'and no doubt there's a good deal to be had on the lights.
'So, with the shopping done,
'there's another stop that Pete and Sandy want to share,
'and that's their nearby pub, where we are popping in for a local brew.'
This is the start of your future.
You're only four weeks in,
but are you feeling optimistic?
Well, how does that song go?
We've only just begun so...
You have, you have only just begun, but if I'm honest,
I was more concerned about you, Sandy,
when we were looking for the right property,
as to whether or not you would feel genuinely comfortable and at home in
-Although I am a city girl, where I live now,
it is very countrified, but I can go and find the city life,
so I'm happy.
What sort of advice would you give to anybody who was thinking about
making the kind of change that you've made, Pete?
-Just do it?
Just do it, don't wait, yeah.
-So, no regrets?
Fantastic! Guys, well, look, here is the local stuff,
-we might as well use it.
-Cheers to you!
-Cheers, thanks very much.
Well, what a lovely couple of days I've had here on the Welsh borders.
With Pete and Sandy, of course, I've caught up with some old friends,
but with Ian and Les, I've made some new ones.
Two couples who bought two very different properties,
but each united in their determination to change their lives
and make their dream of a rural life a reality.
Now, for years, I've been lucky enough to call this glorious region home,
and now, happily, so can they.
I'll see you next time.
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Jules Hudson catches up with house hunters who left behind their hectic working lives in Brighton and relocated to Herefordshire. On their £300,000 budget, they successfully bought one of the homes they saw after a big rethink on their original property wishlist. Jules sees how their new home and the village location has had such a positive impact on their wellbeing and feeling part of local life.
Jules also drops in on some of his former house hunters who had a £365,000 budget and are now happily living in one of the houses he first showed them. He finds out why they are delighted to have made the lifestyle leap to rural Monmouthshire.