Denise Nurse tackles a sizeable house hunt in the Cotswolds. Away from the search, Denise gets the modern spin on the area's wool heritage with a local alpaca farmer.
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Today, I'm standing on a hillside that, some 400 years ago,
played host to the very first Olympic Games staged here in Britain.
Where am I? Well, all will be revealed in just a moment.
'In today's show, I'll be helping a couple leave their hectic lifestyle overseas behind
'and head home to find a country property on English soil.
'Early on, the charm of a period property gets a muted response.'
I'm not so sure I like that.
'But a house combining old and new gets them smiling.'
-You really are. You're beaming.
Today, I'm in the Cotswolds and this is Dover's Hill
which, in 1612, was the location of the "Cotswold Olimpicks",
a tradition which is still going some 400 years later.
Gaining the royal seal of approval from King James I,
the Games were the vision of a local lawyer, Robert Dover,
and they included such illustrious events as sledgehammer-throwing, sword-fighting and shin-kicking.
Eccentric it may sound, but this historic local custom got a celebrated mention
in the winning bid for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Now that's what I call keeping the torch burning!
Covering an area of nearly 800 square miles,
the Cotswold region crosses six county borders,
including Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire
and is England's largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As one of the most unspoilt regions of England,
the Cotswolds are famous for pretty, honey-coloured limestone villages, undulating hills and scenic rivers
with England's longest, the Severn, meandering through its landscape.
The wool trade during the Middle Ages made this area prosperous.
Cotswold sheep were renowned across Europe for the quality of their wool which commanded a high price.
This wealth enabled wool merchants to leave their architectural mark
with an array of fine houses and wool churches,
such as those in Chipping Campden surviving to this day.
The region is still favoured by the rich and famous,
all drawn to the harmonious mix of stunning countryside and beautiful properties it offers.
Not surprisingly, the charm of the Cotswolds is reflected in the price of the properties around here.
The cost of the average detached house in the central belt starts at £500,000
and that is double the national average.
For a similar property in an exclusive heritage village
like Chipping Campden or here in Lower Slaughter,
you can expect to pay up to £750,000.
But don't despair. There are still some parts of this region which are affordable.
As you head westwards towards places like Stroud,
you could pick up a detached property for about £350,000.
But wherever you're looking,
there are plenty of fabulous architectural styles on offer in this region.
Many Cotswold villages are characterised by the famous Jurassic limestone
whose distinctive colour and malleability make it a desirable, natural building material.
It is still quarried in the region and the unique golden colour is a result of centuries of weathering.
However, there are variations in colour.
The stonework found in the northern Cotswold villages,
such as Stanton and Broadway, is darker than that found in the south.
You'll find a two-bed, mid-terrace, stone cottage typically costs around £375,000.
Thatch is also a recurrent theme across the region.
The Cotswold thatch is wheat reed and, depending on the size of the property,
can come with a large price tag.
For example, this five-bedroom, detached thatched house
in Chipping Campden would set you back £1.36 million.
There is a rich mix of properties here in the Cotswolds, but will any of them tempt our buyers?
Let's meet them and find out.
Alan and Sue live in Switzerland, but are looking for a home in the UK.
Alan is a media consultant and Sue is a former director of a pharmaceutical company,
but while they have been winding down their work commitments over the past few years,
they have been reflecting on what to do with the rest of their lives.
Both of our working days were very frenetic, often starting at 5.30, 6 in the morning up to 8, 9 at night,
in my case, seven days a week for many, many months.
And it was very nice to have a much slower pace
where both of us could be in the same location and have quality time together.
Our buyers have lived in the Swiss Alps for the last ten years.
They've enjoyed their life in the mountains, but they recognise a couple of key elements are missing.
The most important things at the end of the day are people - family and friends,
so we're very fortunate to have a little bit more time at this time in our lives
to spend with our family and friends and the people that matter to us.
-And to have a local pub.
After doing some research on the internet and visiting a few counties in the UK,
they decided the Cotswolds is where they want to be.
We're looking to move to the Cotswolds for a number of reasons.
The landscape is very, very special.
It's relatively unique, certainly unique to the area.
But the colour of the stone and the woodland area is very, very unique here.
It's certainly very different from Switzerland
and that, I think, in one respect, is part of the lure of this area.
And the house will have to match their ideal location.
We both know there are very good reasons why we want to move back to the UK,
but because we have this lovely, privileged life in Switzerland,
it is very important for us to find the right house.
Everything has to be right, otherwise we have so much to give up,
it will make the decision either very difficult or we'll end up regretting it and we don't want to do that.
For Sue, top of the property wish list is the kitchen.
I do like to cook. I've always dreamed of having an island in the kitchen and never managed it so far.
To find an island in a nice kitchen would be a dream.
For Alan, it's all about the garden.
I've always had a dream of having a classic, quintessential, English walled garden
where you can spend an entire day just pottering away,
generating or producing vegetables for the entire village
and also in terms of a little refuge somewhere at the bottom of the garden,
so when there's a football match on, you can have a little fridge
with a sofa and put your feet up and watch a match.
-Typical! Somewhere to escape the wife.
Sue, though, also has a plan to escape the husband.
Opening up a tearoom in a nice village location is something
that I would take into consideration and investigate further.
I'm very interested in that.
Well, before Alan starts tucking into the produce, let's nail the finances.
Our budget is £1.5 million.
There is flexibility.
Crucially, it's all to do with the house
and if we found something really special, we would be flexible.
'Alan and Sue have asked us to focus their house search in the northern part of the Cotswolds,
'around the town of Evesham, as they have family and friends living there.
'They would also like good access to road links,
'so they can travel quickly to London to visit Alan's family.
'I caught up with them to find out more about the kind of property they are after.'
-Sue and Alan, welcome to the Cotswolds. It's so beautiful here, isn't it?
-It really is.
So what sort of property do we need to find you to make this move work?
You've got to find us a special property.
That's really helpful(!) I know what you mean. You want that feeling when you walk in.
We've got such a lovely house in Switzerland. We will only come back if we find the right property.
It's got to have a minimum of four bedrooms. It's got to have light.
For you, Sue, what's the absolute must-have?
-It's very boring, but I want a really nice kitchen. Everyone wants a really nice kitchen.
-It's not boring at all.
I do very much enjoy cooking, like a lot of people, and eating.
Yes, a lovely kitchen with, hopefully, a nice eating area as part of it.
-A central island.
-I've always wanted one. I've never had one.
How much land do you want?
The most important thing about the land is that it is enclosed,
that we have a private garden.
You've always had a dream for a walled garden.
A walled kitchen-garden specifically would be fantastic
with clear designation of herbs and different vegetables.
-Cash buyers, a great budget and a beautiful county. Shall we go and look at some houses?
'Alan and Sue may have a very generous budget of £1.5 million,
'but there are some specific requirements they're looking for in their country property.
'We'll show them three wonderful, yet very different properties,
'but we won't be letting them know the price of each until they've had a guess first.
'As ever, our final offering is the mystery house
'which is more unusual than its surroundings suggest.
'I'm taking Alan and Sue to Winchcombe, a town around ten miles south of Evesham.
'The name "Winchcombe" means "valley with a bend"
'and today, the town still retains streets which curve gracefully along the vale.
'If you're a keen walker, it's an ideal location to head off into the countryside
'for a gentle stroll or a vigorous long-distance trek.
'After working up an appetite out in the hills, you'll be spoilt for choice for eating and drinking here.
'Take your pick from afternoon tea or dish of the day in a local pub.
'Now let's put our best foot forward with our first property -
'a characterful, Grade 2 listed house with an historic past hidden within.'
Here we are, property number one.
This is a real period property.
-It certainly looks it.
A lot to take in, so what are your first impressions?
It certainly looks impressive and it certainly looks old.
My only concern would be on the inside - is it dark and old?
-But we will see.
-You will see indeed.
-A perfect location. I can't wait to get inside.
-On that note, let's have a look.
'A house that is definitely to Alan's taste.
'As for Sue, I think all her reservations about period properties could be quashed
'as we go into the first room.'
-Well, in we come.
-Oh, my goodness!
Although it's a medieval property, it's Grade 2 listed, there have been additions over the years.
This part was added back in the 18th century, then we've had some in the 19th century.
And the current owner has renovated inside over the last two years, including this kitchen.
I didn't expect to find... looking at the fireplace, and then turning round and seeing a kitchen.
That's quite amazing, yeah.
-It's certainly got your central isle.
-Yes, it's got my island.
-That's one heck of an island. It's pretty big.
-The wood's nice.
Yeah, it really is very nice.
-You didn't expect to like it, did you?
-No, no, no.
-Smaller rooms perhaps, you thought?
-It's not too dark.
-Let me take you through to the oldest part of the property.
-Have a look in here.
Now, the origins of this property started here.
It was a chapel. We are standing in a medieval chapel. From the outside, you can still see the chapel window.
-It's bricked in, but it's still quite beautiful. And now it's a snug.
The fact it's an old chapel, I'm not so sure I like that,
and with the low beam, I think I'll try and rearrange it in my head a few times.
'A slight change in mood, sadly,
'as this room's religious origins haven't got Alan singing from the rafters.
'But there is also a useful study for them on this floor.
'Hopefully, he'll be more impressed with what the master bedroom offers upstairs.'
Now, they've managed to create a master suite up here.
-Gosh! They didn't have them in medieval times.
You've got this as your main bedroom, but through there, there's a dressing room
and a quite sizeable en-suite bathroom as well.
'There is one other bedroom on this floor and a family bathroom,
'then up another flight of stairs, there are two more light and airy double bedrooms.
'With the house covered, it's time to head outside.'
This is the garden. It's probably the one drawback of this property.
-This is what you get with the house.
-I'm glad you said that.
-The view is stunning.
-That is very special.
I'm not put off by the lack of space.
-I think this has got just...
-I think it's big enough, actually.
-We could live with that.
-There's a beautiful little...
-I'm glad you spotted that.
The water you would be drinking here is filtered from this very spring, so you've got your own water source.
-Be like Del Boy trying to bottle it...
-And sell it to the locals!
How much do you think a property like this is worth?
-You go first.
I'd say 1.1.
-But who was right?
-Put us out of our misery.
-Neither of you. But you were closer. It's on at 1.2 million.
-It puts into context what you get for your money in a period property like that in this area.
Why don't you spend a bit more time wandering around this property? There is a lot to take in.
-I will speak to you a bit later on.
On the market for £1.2 million,
this stunning chapel conversion offers them a slice of authentic Cotswolds architecture, featuring...
Oh, gosh, it's really light and airy up here. Oh, and there's another room.
-A second bedroom. So that's two bedrooms on the top, two below, so that's four in total.
I do believe this has been a really good first house,
not only because one of the things we thought we wanted was, as many people do, a characterful house,
but it does actually start to put into perspective what having character means.
The main living area with the kitchen
which then unfolds to almost two other areas - a dining area and a sitting area
with a fantastic fireplace, I was really surprised by that.
It was fantastic. I've never seen anything quite like that.
Have you taken it all in now?
-We certainly have. Lots to take in. An awful lot.
-But only the first property. We've got more to see, so let's keep moving.
As the largest of England's designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
the Cotswold Hills and its beautiful market towns and villages hold a worldwide appeal.
The region's harmonious style of architecture is due to the use of the local limestone
in everything from civic buildings, shops and houses
to the dry-stone walls that are so characteristic of the countryside.
Many Cotswold properties have introduced this feature closer to home by enclosing lawns and borders
to create their own walled gardens, such as in the pretty village of Lower Slaughter.
Alan and Sue are attracted to this idea and are considering developing their own walled garden,
but before getting to grips with the skills needed, we sent them to meet David Glenn from Huntsman's Quarry
to see up close how this distinctive and desirable stone is sourced.
Well, here we are in our quarry in the Cotswolds.
This is where we get our walling stone from.
The stone is a limestone and it's about 130 to 150 million years old.
We actually break the stone. We don't drill and blast.
We break the stone using a 70-tonne excavator with a hydraulic breaker on.
After being cut, any potential walling stone will be spread out
and hand-picked from the mass of excavated stone before being sent away for processing.
So what's the total production output per day?
The total output from the quarry is probably about 2,000 tonnes per day,
but of that, only a small percentage is suitable for walling stone,
probably about 100 tonnes a day.
Of all the things that come out of this quarry,
how much of them are used locally and how much do you sell to other parts of the country or overseas?
90%, as a rule of thumb, that goes out of this quarry
is used and consumed within a 25-mile radius of here.
One local craftsman who specialises in working with this walling stone is John Hepworth.
He creates bespoke walling projects that range from large estates to the smaller private gardens.
We sent Alan and Sue to meet him and get some first-hand experience of the skills needed.
So here we have a wall in progress.
You can see that we have the wall in various stages of being built.
It's a new wall with new stone.
We have this frame up called a profile frame, or a batter frame as it's known locally,
which gives us the shape of the wall.
Can you see that the wall is built in a slight pyramid section
which gives us the ability to have stability as the wall grows and comes out the ground?
The inside bits of the wall, called "hearting", are as big a stone as we can fit into the centre of the wall.
Let's put some hearting in, so pieces like that, Sue.
Don't be frightened to turn this round. That's great. That's more like it.
We can use smaller bits of stone to fill in the gaps.
As Alan and Sue are keen to lay down some solid foundations for their new life in the Cotswolds,
we'll return to the job of helping them find their perfect property.
For our second house, we're heading some six miles west from Winchcombe to Gotherington.
Thought to have been founded in 780 AD and gaining a mention in the Domesday Book,
it's a relatively small village, but with some useful amenities,
which include a local shop and post office, a tea room and a village hall.
Many of the original historic houses are clad in local stone,
but our second house is a more modern proposition.
It's a stunning detached property built in the traditional 1920s style from the local Stanton stone.
-Property number two. Take it all in.
-Yeah, it looks big.
Very different. Very different to the last one. This looks promising.
-Oh, listen to that.
-This looks promising. It does. It really does.
-You really are. What is it you like?
First of all, I love the stone colour again because we really do love this stone colour,
but there's much bigger windows and there's a greater expanse of property that you can see,
which gives you the feeling it will be spacious inside.
Shall we look inside? You seem excited about the outside.
-I'm excited to show you the inside.
'Now, this impressive house perched on a hill has really got our buyers bubbling with enthusiasm
'and I'm sure that the inside won't disappoint either.'
You wanted more space. What do you think of this for your living room?
It's better, much better.
It's the light as well. It's the light.
And yeah, double, triple aspect.
-And what a fireplace!
-What a fireplace!
With a beautiful oak floor.
Out there, you've got a conservatory, wonderful sun trap.
Through here, you have enough space for three desks, so it's like a triple office.
Excellent. I'll have that one then.
-But what was more important to you was the kitchen, wasn't it?
-It certainly was.
-I don't want to disappoint you with that.
-I hope you're not going to.
-Shall we have a look?
-You wanted an island...
-Now we're talking!
-It looks like a continent!
-This is a fantastic room.
This is quite possibly the biggest island I've ever shown anyone.
There are many lovely kitchens, but this is certainly one of them.
And you came through a dining area.
-Yes, we noticed.
-It is used a lot by the family who live here at the moment.
Utility space there, then through that door, there's a garage and a room next to it.
You can almost smell freshly baked bread
and a little bottle of freshly made lemonade or whatever there as well.
-It would be fantastic.
-You never know.
-You're getting a warm feeling about this one, aren't you?
'It's a great sign that Alan is actually imagining himself living here.
'There is also a second utility room which completes our tour of the ground floor.
'We're now heading upstairs to take a look at the bedrooms.'
So this is the master.
Those are encouraging sounds.
And a beautiful view of the garden at the back.
-And I think I spied to my left an en-suite?
-Yes, you have an en-suite.
-And it's a very generous size as well.
-You've got an en-suite for your master bedroom.
You can also see that this leads through to another bedroom with its own en-suite.
-In fact, this property comes with five good-sized bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms.
-That's a lot of toilets to clean!
-I just want to show you one more. I think you'll be quite impressed.
And this is the last bedroom I wanted to show you.
This is another master and a half!
-So is this THE master bedroom or another master bedroom?
Well, this is the guest wing.
-I want to be a guest!
-This is like a luxury suite in a hotel, isn't it?
It is, but it could be your home.
The last thing I need to show you is outside, so let's have a look at the garden.
-Then there's that very difficult question. Oh, dear.
-That's the one. Start thinking.
'We appear to be on to a winner here as Alan and Sue have clearly been impressed
'with the overall space of this house.
'I'm hoping, as we move outside, our buyers won't be overwhelmed
'with the amount of land that comes with this property.'
Here we are at the back of the house.
Your garden is round the side, round the back. It's all been beautifully landscaped.
So you get an acre of garden wrapping round,
but then that way, you also get five acres of paddock.
-And your friends, the sheep, are there at the moment.
-It's rented out to the local farmer, so you've got the sheep grazing.
-At least you don't have to maintain it.
With everything this house has to offer in mind, how much do you think it's on the market for?
It's got to be probably 1.6 million.
I also was going to say just over the budget, so let me go in between.
This house is on the market at 1.35 million.
Good grief! That's fantastic. We'd still have enough left over for a decent car.
Lots for you to think about. Go and have a wander.
-I'll come and seek you out later on.
-All right. Thank you.
What a result! They loved that property from the moment we walked in
and it didn't fail to meet their expectations.
And what I most love is that they overvalued it.
I think that's a sign of just how much they love it.
Coming in under budget at £1.35 million,
the price of this detached house has been a welcome surprise for Alan and Sue.
What's more, it meets many of the criteria on their wish list, providing them with...
I think this is much more our type or style,
simply from the point of view that it's very practical
and we would have very little to do.
Almost the biggest surprises for me and the nicest things about the house
was not just the wonderful kitchen and the lovely feeling of space when you walked into the house,
but that feeling of space continued upstairs.
I think that Alan and I are both very excited about this house.
If we had the money in our back pockets now,
we'd almost be meeting with the owner and seeing what we could do because it has got such a lovely feel to it.
I have high hopes for this one.
-You managed to find your way out?
-You almost didn't get us out. It's really, really lovely.
I'm so pleased it's been positive, but this is only the end of day one.
-There's more to see tomorrow.
-Looking forward to it.
As evening falls over the Cotswold skyline,
our buyers can bask in the warmth of a successful first day's house-hunting.
After ten years of being wedded to their respective jobs in Switzerland,
Alan and Sue have decided to cast aside their careers and return home to England
for a more tranquil life closer to family in the Cotswolds.
So far, our converted chapel failed to fire up our couple's enthusiasm,
but the 1920s house on a hill revived their spirits with its fabulous kitchen.
But could we have reached tipping point with our mystery house?
This is just extraordinary.
And I'll be meeting the new faces continuing the Cotswolds wool tradition.
Yesterday, I gave Alan and Sue a real flavour of the Cotswolds,
showing them two very distinctive properties,
one with historical charm and the other with a very spacious layout.
The second property really captured their imagination and has given them some food for thought,
but with our mystery house, it's time for something very different.
They'll be hard pushed to find a Cotswold stone in sight.
'Our mystery house is in the south-west area of the Cotswolds in Uley.
'It may be a fair distance from Evesham, which was Alan and Sue's ideal search area.
'However, we have found them a house that is truly unique.
'Before seeing the mystery property, we'll pop into the creative hub of Uley, the Arts Centre,
'and meet a local who runs the cafe.'
So what's the local community like? This is a central focal point.
It's very vibrant. There's a lot of things taking place, lots of activities.
We've got a brewery. That's pretty good. We've got an arts centre, a pub and a post office.
-There are things taking place in Uley.
-What's it like living round here?
It's a beautiful place to live. I wake up every morning, take a deep breath and go, "Oh, my goodness!"
-Let's get back to it, the mystery house calls. Adam, thank you very much for your time.
'Now, we've taken a calculated risk with the mystery house
'which is a complete break from the Cotswold traditional style.
'It is uber-modern, but it's also located in the grounds of a walled garden,
'so fingers crossed, they'll like it.'
It's just like a Monet garden, isn't it?
Well, here we are, a Monet garden indeed, and we have the mystery house.
It's definitely a mystery. That is fantastic.
-I never would have imagined that.
-I could never have expected anything like that.
A modern house, wood, lead, quite interesting.
It was designed and built by the current owners in 2007, so a very modern building.
-Not only is it modern, it's an eco-house.
I'm almost speechless and I'm really excited to get inside
because I think this could be a very, very special property.
-It is very special indeed. Let me show you inside.
'This is such an unusual property, I'm not surprised Sue is a touch tongue-tied, as well as intrigued.
'And inside, it certainly takes "light and airy" to a new level.'
Well, in we come.
This part of the house, we're almost underground. It's been built into the ground. It's concrete.
At the other end, it's oak timber frames, so it's unusual, the design and the set-up.
Down here at the front, you've got a really good room which they use as a children's playroom.
You could do as you wish. This is a gym with a wetroom and sauna. That could be quite special.
Shall we go into the living room and explore more of the features of this property?
So this is the main living room area.
-Oh, this is stunning.
-As you can see, you're looking out on to the water.
-They have built the windows...
-The oak beams are exceptional.
I love the wood and the view out of the window is stunning, but it feels somehow a cold room.
I don't have the feeling of warmth in this house so far.
-Let's go into the kitchen and see if you warm up a bit in there.
-So through a dining room area which does lead to the outside...
-But this is the kitchen.
-And yet another island.
And the angles and the view with the water outside is just so special.
-And through that door, you do have a very large utility area.
-That's always helpful.
-You're doing well, Denise.
-You're doing well.
'The ground floor is certainly spacious and includes a separate dining area, a cloakroom
'and a large study, all of which enjoy fabulous views out on to the grounds.
'However, I'm saving one of the best views until last.'
Here's a highly unusual master.
-You don't often get to look out on to the roof there, which is sort of seed and flowers.
-More oak beams.
The lighting is exceptional. Again that's really unusual.
It looks like there would be a very good view from the balcony.
-I think there is. Shall we have a look?
-I think this is the best view from this property.
-You're right about that, Denise.
So that's it, you can get a feeling for the grounds,
but one area you were interested in was gardening, growing your own veg. They're passionate about that here.
-There's an awful lot to look at.
-There is. Let's have a wander round.
'Back inside, there are four more good-sized bedrooms,
'one of which has an en-suite shower room. In addition, there's a separate family bathroom.
'As we move outside, the mature gardens have a natural stream feeding two ponds
'and there is a raised terraced area, perfect for dining outdoors.'
-You've got just under two acres, so 1.8.
-Good grief! That's incredible.
It runs right the way round the walled garden.
You can see the wall up there behind the trees, then up and back round here.
Over this side is a fantastic vegetable garden. They grow everything there.
-And you have a little swimming pool.
-All this and heaven too then!
-You've also got this area here which is where the original bungalow was.
-Now it's a garage and storage. The current owners use it as a hobby and craft room.
-So special, but how much?
-I would think probably 1.7,
-1.75, something like that?
Why don't I go a little bit closer to budget and say 1.6?
-You, Alan, are spot-on. It's on at 1.75.
-Fantastic. I thought so.
There's so much to take in here. You'd be hard-pushed to find a more unusual house in the Cotswolds.
Have a wander round. Enjoy these gardens. Go on a discovery journey.
-I will seek you out later on.
-Thank you very much.
I think they were blown away by that, but they did get the price spot-on.
It's hard to value a property that's so unique, but if you wanted the best of the Cotswolds
and the best of what's contemporary, you can't go far wrong with this.
On the market for £1.75 million,
our high spec mystery house has certainly got our buyers considering
whether they would opt for a more unconventional style of property.
The house is certainly not what I expected and it would not have been on the top of our priority list.
There's no Cotswold stone to be seen.
A lot of wood, actually a lot of beautiful wood. We both love oak.
And a lot of glass.
First impressions were...
a big "wow"!
The garden is exceptional.
As with most men, you always have to succumb to female charms
and I think what will happen here is Sue will do the usual suggestions about, "Let's think about it
"and come up with some ideas and costings, then we'll go from there,"
which is code for saying "no",
but I'll be batting hard to try and get my pennies' worth listened to at least.
-There you are.
-Yes, at last.
I had to find Alan. He was doing his best to get lost, so he could stay.
-It's an amazing property, but you have seen everything we have to offer now.
-Time to sit down and reflect.
'Although it was sheep that put the Cotswolds on the map from the late Middle Ages,
'the region's wool and cloth production declined during the early 19th century
'as the mechanised factories further north created more efficient forms of textile manufacturing.
'The golden age of the Cotswold wool industry came to an end.
'Fast-forward to the 21st century, it's making a bit of a comeback,
'albeit on a smaller scale and from an entirely different species that you wouldn't expect to find here.
'There are now over 1,000 alpaca owners in the UK, breeding the animal for their fibre.
'The majority of breeders sell the fleece on to be processed,
'but at this farm north of Swindon, they're spinning the wool and making hand-crafted items on site.
'I dropped in on Mym and Adrian Holcombe to find out more
'about how their modern spin on producing wool in the Cotswolds came about.'
Guys, these are definitely some of the cutest animals I've ever seen on a farm. I love them.
I can see why you probably fell in love with them,
but tell me about the journey from corporate life to running an alpaca farm.
We sold a couple of companies and we literally spent three years looking for something to do,
something that was exciting, that we could get really involved with,
that didn't mean sitting in an office all day and dealing with employees.
We just happened to see a five-second clip on television of alpacas,
Googled them and couldn't see any downside,
so 11 weeks later, we took delivery of four pregnant girls.
The four turned into eight, then we had a few more extravagances and ended up with 40.
They are unusual. It's not what I expect to find in the Cotswolds. Where are they from originally?
They originate from Peru, Bolivia, South America. They first came in with the Incas, really.
They used them for everything from meat, from pack animals, for the fleece for fibre.
'This herd of alpacas had their annual shear a few days ago
'and on average, one animal will yield one and a half kilograms of wool.
'As one of a handful of alpaca breeders in the Cotswold Hills,
'Mym and Adrian have learnt to spin, felt and weave their home-grown alpaca fleece.'
We've seen the animals in the field. They've been sheared. This is how it comes off their backs.
So if we want to do anything with this, we really need to what we call "card" it.
That's basically combing the fibres in the same direction,
then we can spin with it or, as we're doing, moving on to peg-looming with it.
It's very, very simple, hence I'm allowed to do it,
and we just put a little bit on the side here.
-And we just turn the handle.
-There you go.
-It's like a brush.
-It is exactly like a brush.
A little bit more.
-Where does it come out?
-It comes out here. It comes out on the drum.
'The wool is now ready to be woven and I'm going to have a go at peg-looming.'
These are warps and what we're going to do is add the wefts across,
so all these pegs have a warp going through them
and that's where it attaches to,
and very simply...
..we take a piece of this
and you just join it by twisting it together like that.
And then you go in and out.
In and out.
-This looks simple enough that even I can have a go.
-Over to you.
-The proof will be in the pudding. So we're twisting.
-That's right, in and out.
Carry on with the twisting.
When you get to the end, you just go back again.
-In and out. Always twisting in the same direction?
In and out...
-Are you doing this as well?
-There we are. Yeah.
'Slowly but surely, I'm getting to grips with this peg-looming,
'but let's weave our way back to Alan and Sue and see if they've made any decisions on our properties.'
Sue and Alan, what a couple of days we've had!
To lure you back from Switzerland, we're trying to achieve your Cotswold dream.
Let's reflect on each of them. We started with something very traditional. You wanted character.
It was unique, very special, but internally for me, the flow of the house didn't work.
Because you were accommodating a chapel,
as well as other 18th century parts,
it was something which would be too much and too difficult to accommodate what we wanted it to be.
So from there, we moved you forward a few centuries.
How did you feel about house number two?
I really liked house number two, particularly when we first walked up to it.
The colour of the stone used there was so warm. There was just something very special about that.
The only thing perhaps that was negative about the inside was there were too many rooms.
-It was just a bit too big and that sounds...
So we had a bit too small, we've gone too big.
With the mystery house, did we get it just right?
-It was a surprise.
-A huge surprise.
-Number one, we delivered a walled garden.
-You certainly did.
That was completely left-field, totally unexpected,
and by far, for me, the best of the three.
It was something which had character, but the character was modern.
The fact that the house very much is situated in and around the beautiful gardens,
including that lake-ette, for want of a better word, outside the main living area,
that really transforms the look of the house.
I've got a feeling that you perhaps like one of our properties more than you, but am I wrong?
Have you fallen in love with any of them?
For me, the third property,
the mystery house is the one which I would be seriously interested in,
but I think Sue might have another opinion.
Am I right, Sue? Do you have a different opinion?
I didn't quite feel the love for the infrastructure of the house as I did for the second house.
However, the garden is absolutely amazing
and I realise it fulfils a number of Alan's dreams,
so I think we've got a lot of talking to do, that's for sure.
What would be brilliant is if you do find a home soon and make the move, so do let us know.
We certainly will. Thank you very much.
Well, the mystery house seems to have done it again,
a very non-traditional Cotswold property in a very idyllic Cotswold setting.
It seems to have fulfilled Alan's dreams
and if Sue can find a way of putting her stamp on it, it could be the house for her too.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Denise Nurse tackles a sizeable house hunt in the Cotswolds, with a budget of £1.5 million. Away from the search, Denise gets the modern spin on the area's wool heritage with a local alpaca farmer and learns how to hand weave their exotic fibre.