Cotswolds Escape to the Country


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Cotswolds

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,

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played host to the very first Olympic Games staged here in Britain.

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Where am I? Well, all will be revealed in just a moment.

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'In today's show, I'll be helping a couple leave their hectic lifestyle overseas behind

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'and head home to find a country property on English soil.

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'Early on, the charm of a period property gets a muted response.'

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I'm not so sure I like that.

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'But a house combining old and new gets them smiling.'

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-I'm excited.

-You really are. You're beaming.

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Today, I'm in the Cotswolds and this is Dover's Hill

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which, in 1612, was the location of the "Cotswold Olimpicks",

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a tradition which is still going some 400 years later.

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Gaining the royal seal of approval from King James I,

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the Games were the vision of a local lawyer, Robert Dover,

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and they included such illustrious events as sledgehammer-throwing, sword-fighting and shin-kicking.

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Eccentric it may sound, but this historic local custom got a celebrated mention

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in the winning bid for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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Now that's what I call keeping the torch burning!

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Covering an area of nearly 800 square miles,

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the Cotswold region crosses six county borders,

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including Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire

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and is England's largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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As one of the most unspoilt regions of England,

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the Cotswolds are famous for pretty, honey-coloured limestone villages, undulating hills and scenic rivers

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with England's longest, the Severn, meandering through its landscape.

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The wool trade during the Middle Ages made this area prosperous.

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Cotswold sheep were renowned across Europe for the quality of their wool which commanded a high price.

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This wealth enabled wool merchants to leave their architectural mark

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with an array of fine houses and wool churches,

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such as those in Chipping Campden surviving to this day.

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The region is still favoured by the rich and famous,

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all drawn to the harmonious mix of stunning countryside and beautiful properties it offers.

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Not surprisingly, the charm of the Cotswolds is reflected in the price of the properties around here.

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The cost of the average detached house in the central belt starts at £500,000

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and that is double the national average.

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For a similar property in an exclusive heritage village

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like Chipping Campden or here in Lower Slaughter,

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you can expect to pay up to £750,000.

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But don't despair. There are still some parts of this region which are affordable.

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As you head westwards towards places like Stroud,

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you could pick up a detached property for about £350,000.

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But wherever you're looking,

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there are plenty of fabulous architectural styles on offer in this region.

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Many Cotswold villages are characterised by the famous Jurassic limestone

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whose distinctive colour and malleability make it a desirable, natural building material.

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It is still quarried in the region and the unique golden colour is a result of centuries of weathering.

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However, there are variations in colour.

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The stonework found in the northern Cotswold villages,

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such as Stanton and Broadway, is darker than that found in the south.

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You'll find a two-bed, mid-terrace, stone cottage typically costs around £375,000.

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Thatch is also a recurrent theme across the region.

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The Cotswold thatch is wheat reed and, depending on the size of the property,

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can come with a large price tag.

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For example, this five-bedroom, detached thatched house

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in Chipping Campden would set you back £1.36 million.

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There is a rich mix of properties here in the Cotswolds, but will any of them tempt our buyers?

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Let's meet them and find out.

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Alan and Sue live in Switzerland, but are looking for a home in the UK.

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Alan is a media consultant and Sue is a former director of a pharmaceutical company,

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but while they have been winding down their work commitments over the past few years,

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they have been reflecting on what to do with the rest of their lives.

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Both of our working days were very frenetic, often starting at 5.30, 6 in the morning up to 8, 9 at night,

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in my case, seven days a week for many, many months.

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And it was very nice to have a much slower pace

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where both of us could be in the same location and have quality time together.

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Our buyers have lived in the Swiss Alps for the last ten years.

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They've enjoyed their life in the mountains, but they recognise a couple of key elements are missing.

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The most important things at the end of the day are people - family and friends,

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so we're very fortunate to have a little bit more time at this time in our lives

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to spend with our family and friends and the people that matter to us.

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-And to have a local pub.

-LAUGHTER

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After doing some research on the internet and visiting a few counties in the UK,

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they decided the Cotswolds is where they want to be.

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We're looking to move to the Cotswolds for a number of reasons.

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The landscape is very, very special.

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It's relatively unique, certainly unique to the area.

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But the colour of the stone and the woodland area is very, very unique here.

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It's certainly very different from Switzerland

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and that, I think, in one respect, is part of the lure of this area.

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And the house will have to match their ideal location.

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We both know there are very good reasons why we want to move back to the UK,

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but because we have this lovely, privileged life in Switzerland,

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it is very important for us to find the right house.

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Everything has to be right, otherwise we have so much to give up,

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it will make the decision either very difficult or we'll end up regretting it and we don't want to do that.

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For Sue, top of the property wish list is the kitchen.

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I do like to cook. I've always dreamed of having an island in the kitchen and never managed it so far.

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To find an island in a nice kitchen would be a dream.

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For Alan, it's all about the garden.

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I've always had a dream of having a classic, quintessential, English walled garden

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where you can spend an entire day just pottering away,

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generating or producing vegetables for the entire village

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and also in terms of a little refuge somewhere at the bottom of the garden,

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so when there's a football match on, you can have a little fridge

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with a sofa and put your feet up and watch a match.

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-Typical! Somewhere to escape the wife.

-Yeah.

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Sue, though, also has a plan to escape the husband.

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Opening up a tearoom in a nice village location is something

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that I would take into consideration and investigate further.

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I'm very interested in that.

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Well, before Alan starts tucking into the produce, let's nail the finances.

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Our budget is £1.5 million.

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There is flexibility.

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Crucially, it's all to do with the house

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and if we found something really special, we would be flexible.

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'Alan and Sue have asked us to focus their house search in the northern part of the Cotswolds,

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'around the town of Evesham, as they have family and friends living there.

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'They would also like good access to road links,

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'so they can travel quickly to London to visit Alan's family.

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'I caught up with them to find out more about the kind of property they are after.'

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-Sue and Alan, welcome to the Cotswolds. It's so beautiful here, isn't it?

-It really is.

-Fantastic.

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So what sort of property do we need to find you to make this move work?

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You've got to find us a special property.

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That's really helpful(!) I know what you mean. You want that feeling when you walk in.

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We've got such a lovely house in Switzerland. We will only come back if we find the right property.

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It's got to have a minimum of four bedrooms. It's got to have light.

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For you, Sue, what's the absolute must-have?

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-It's very boring, but I want a really nice kitchen. Everyone wants a really nice kitchen.

-It's not boring at all.

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I do very much enjoy cooking, like a lot of people, and eating.

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Yes, a lovely kitchen with, hopefully, a nice eating area as part of it.

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-A central island.

-I've always wanted one. I've never had one.

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How much land do you want?

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The most important thing about the land is that it is enclosed,

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that we have a private garden.

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You've always had a dream for a walled garden.

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A walled kitchen-garden specifically would be fantastic

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with clear designation of herbs and different vegetables.

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-Cash buyers, a great budget and a beautiful county. Shall we go and look at some houses?

-Yes.

-Let's go.

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'Alan and Sue may have a very generous budget of £1.5 million,

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'but there are some specific requirements they're looking for in their country property.

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'We'll show them three wonderful, yet very different properties,

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'but we won't be letting them know the price of each until they've had a guess first.

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'As ever, our final offering is the mystery house

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'which is more unusual than its surroundings suggest.

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'I'm taking Alan and Sue to Winchcombe, a town around ten miles south of Evesham.

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'The name "Winchcombe" means "valley with a bend"

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'and today, the town still retains streets which curve gracefully along the vale.

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'If you're a keen walker, it's an ideal location to head off into the countryside

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'for a gentle stroll or a vigorous long-distance trek.

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'After working up an appetite out in the hills, you'll be spoilt for choice for eating and drinking here.

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'Take your pick from afternoon tea or dish of the day in a local pub.

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'Now let's put our best foot forward with our first property -

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'a characterful, Grade 2 listed house with an historic past hidden within.'

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Here we are, property number one.

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This is a real period property.

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-It certainly looks it.

-It's medieval.

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A lot to take in, so what are your first impressions?

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It certainly looks impressive and it certainly looks old.

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My only concern would be on the inside - is it dark and old?

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-But we will see.

-You will see indeed.

-A perfect location. I can't wait to get inside.

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-On that note, let's have a look.

-OK.

-Thank you.

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'A house that is definitely to Alan's taste.

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'As for Sue, I think all her reservations about period properties could be quashed

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'as we go into the first room.'

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-Well, in we come.

-Oh, my goodness!

-Indeed!

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Although it's a medieval property, it's Grade 2 listed, there have been additions over the years.

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This part was added back in the 18th century, then we've had some in the 19th century.

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And the current owner has renovated inside over the last two years, including this kitchen.

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I didn't expect to find... looking at the fireplace, and then turning round and seeing a kitchen.

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That's quite amazing, yeah.

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-It's certainly got your central isle.

-Yes, it's got my island.

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-That's one heck of an island. It's pretty big.

-The wood's nice.

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Yeah, it really is very nice.

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-Unexpected.

-You didn't expect to like it, did you?

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-No, no, no.

-Smaller rooms perhaps, you thought?

-It's not too dark.

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-Let me take you through to the oldest part of the property.

-OK.

-Have a look in here.

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Now, the origins of this property started here.

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It was a chapel. We are standing in a medieval chapel. From the outside, you can still see the chapel window.

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-It's bricked in, but it's still quite beautiful. And now it's a snug.

-Very snug.

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The fact it's an old chapel, I'm not so sure I like that,

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and with the low beam, I think I'll try and rearrange it in my head a few times.

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'A slight change in mood, sadly,

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'as this room's religious origins haven't got Alan singing from the rafters.

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'But there is also a useful study for them on this floor.

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'Hopefully, he'll be more impressed with what the master bedroom offers upstairs.'

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Now, they've managed to create a master suite up here.

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-Gosh! They didn't have them in medieval times.

-No, exactly.

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You've got this as your main bedroom, but through there, there's a dressing room

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and a quite sizeable en-suite bathroom as well.

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'There is one other bedroom on this floor and a family bathroom,

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'then up another flight of stairs, there are two more light and airy double bedrooms.

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'With the house covered, it's time to head outside.'

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This is the garden. It's probably the one drawback of this property.

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-This is what you get with the house.

-The view!

-I'm glad you said that.

-The view is stunning.

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-That is very special.

-Yeah.

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I'm not put off by the lack of space.

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-I think this has got just...

-I think it's big enough, actually.

-We could live with that.

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-There's a beautiful little...

-I'm glad you spotted that.

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The water you would be drinking here is filtered from this very spring, so you've got your own water source.

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-Be like Del Boy trying to bottle it...

-And sell it to the locals!

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How much do you think a property like this is worth?

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-You go first.

-OK.

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-1.4.

-OK.

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I'd say 1.1.

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-But who was right?

-LAUGHTER

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-Put us out of our misery.

-Neither of you. But you were closer. It's on at 1.2 million.

-Right.

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-It puts into context what you get for your money in a period property like that in this area.

-Yeah.

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Why don't you spend a bit more time wandering around this property? There is a lot to take in.

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-I will speak to you a bit later on.

-Thank you.

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On the market for £1.2 million,

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this stunning chapel conversion offers them a slice of authentic Cotswolds architecture, featuring...

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Oh, gosh, it's really light and airy up here. Oh, and there's another room.

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-A second bedroom. So that's two bedrooms on the top, two below, so that's four in total.

-Yeah.

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I do believe this has been a really good first house,

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not only because one of the things we thought we wanted was, as many people do, a characterful house,

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but it does actually start to put into perspective what having character means.

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The main living area with the kitchen

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which then unfolds to almost two other areas - a dining area and a sitting area

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with a fantastic fireplace, I was really surprised by that.

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It was fantastic. I've never seen anything quite like that.

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Have you taken it all in now?

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-Yes.

-We certainly have. Lots to take in. An awful lot.

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-But only the first property. We've got more to see, so let's keep moving.

-Good.

-OK.

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BLEATS

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As the largest of England's designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

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the Cotswold Hills and its beautiful market towns and villages hold a worldwide appeal.

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The region's harmonious style of architecture is due to the use of the local limestone

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in everything from civic buildings, shops and houses

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to the dry-stone walls that are so characteristic of the countryside.

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Many Cotswold properties have introduced this feature closer to home by enclosing lawns and borders

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to create their own walled gardens, such as in the pretty village of Lower Slaughter.

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Alan and Sue are attracted to this idea and are considering developing their own walled garden,

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but before getting to grips with the skills needed, we sent them to meet David Glenn from Huntsman's Quarry

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to see up close how this distinctive and desirable stone is sourced.

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Well, here we are in our quarry in the Cotswolds.

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This is where we get our walling stone from.

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The stone is a limestone and it's about 130 to 150 million years old.

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We actually break the stone. We don't drill and blast.

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We break the stone using a 70-tonne excavator with a hydraulic breaker on.

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After being cut, any potential walling stone will be spread out

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and hand-picked from the mass of excavated stone before being sent away for processing.

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So what's the total production output per day?

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The total output from the quarry is probably about 2,000 tonnes per day,

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but of that, only a small percentage is suitable for walling stone,

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probably about 100 tonnes a day.

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Of all the things that come out of this quarry,

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how much of them are used locally and how much do you sell to other parts of the country or overseas?

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90%, as a rule of thumb, that goes out of this quarry

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is used and consumed within a 25-mile radius of here.

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One local craftsman who specialises in working with this walling stone is John Hepworth.

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He creates bespoke walling projects that range from large estates to the smaller private gardens.

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We sent Alan and Sue to meet him and get some first-hand experience of the skills needed.

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So here we have a wall in progress.

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You can see that we have the wall in various stages of being built.

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It's a new wall with new stone.

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We have this frame up called a profile frame, or a batter frame as it's known locally,

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which gives us the shape of the wall.

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Can you see that the wall is built in a slight pyramid section

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which gives us the ability to have stability as the wall grows and comes out the ground?

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The inside bits of the wall, called "hearting", are as big a stone as we can fit into the centre of the wall.

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Let's put some hearting in, so pieces like that, Sue.

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Don't be frightened to turn this round. That's great. That's more like it.

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We can use smaller bits of stone to fill in the gaps.

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As Alan and Sue are keen to lay down some solid foundations for their new life in the Cotswolds,

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we'll return to the job of helping them find their perfect property.

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For our second house, we're heading some six miles west from Winchcombe to Gotherington.

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Thought to have been founded in 780 AD and gaining a mention in the Domesday Book,

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it's a relatively small village, but with some useful amenities,

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which include a local shop and post office, a tea room and a village hall.

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Many of the original historic houses are clad in local stone,

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but our second house is a more modern proposition.

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It's a stunning detached property built in the traditional 1920s style from the local Stanton stone.

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-Property number two. Take it all in.

-Yeah, it looks big.

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Very different. Very different to the last one. This looks promising.

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-Oh, listen to that.

-This looks promising. It does. It really does.

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-I'm excited.

-You really are. What is it you like?

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First of all, I love the stone colour again because we really do love this stone colour,

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but there's much bigger windows and there's a greater expanse of property that you can see,

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which gives you the feeling it will be spacious inside.

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Shall we look inside? You seem excited about the outside.

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-I'm excited to show you the inside.

-Let's go.

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'Now, this impressive house perched on a hill has really got our buyers bubbling with enthusiasm

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'and I'm sure that the inside won't disappoint either.'

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You wanted more space. What do you think of this for your living room?

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It's better, much better.

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It's the light as well. It's the light.

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And yeah, double, triple aspect.

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-And what a fireplace!

-Gorgeous fireplace.

-What a fireplace!

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With a beautiful oak floor.

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Out there, you've got a conservatory, wonderful sun trap.

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Through here, you have enough space for three desks, so it's like a triple office.

0:21:200:21:25

Excellent. I'll have that one then.

0:21:250:21:27

-But what was more important to you was the kitchen, wasn't it?

-It certainly was.

0:21:270:21:32

-I don't want to disappoint you with that.

-I hope you're not going to.

-Shall we have a look?

-Yes, please.

0:21:320:21:38

-See?

-Oh!

0:21:430:21:45

-You wanted an island...

-Now we're talking!

0:21:450:21:49

-It looks like a continent!

-This is a fantastic room.

-Good grief!

0:21:490:21:53

This is quite possibly the biggest island I've ever shown anyone.

0:21:530:21:57

There are many lovely kitchens, but this is certainly one of them.

0:21:570:22:01

And you came through a dining area.

0:22:010:22:03

-Yes, we noticed.

-It is used a lot by the family who live here at the moment.

0:22:030:22:09

Utility space there, then through that door, there's a garage and a room next to it.

0:22:090:22:14

You can almost smell freshly baked bread

0:22:140:22:18

and a little bottle of freshly made lemonade or whatever there as well.

0:22:180:22:22

-It would be fantastic.

-You never know.

0:22:220:22:25

-You're getting a warm feeling about this one, aren't you?

-Very good.

0:22:250:22:29

'It's a great sign that Alan is actually imagining himself living here.

0:22:290:22:34

'There is also a second utility room which completes our tour of the ground floor.

0:22:340:22:39

'We're now heading upstairs to take a look at the bedrooms.'

0:22:390:22:43

So this is the master.

0:22:430:22:45

Ah!

0:22:450:22:47

-Very nice.

-Very nice.

0:22:470:22:49

Those are encouraging sounds.

0:22:490:22:52

-Very good.

-It's light.

-Yeah.

0:22:520:22:54

And a beautiful view of the garden at the back.

0:22:540:22:57

-And I think I spied to my left an en-suite?

-Yes, you have an en-suite.

0:22:570:23:01

-And it's a very generous size as well.

-Fantastic.

-You've got an en-suite for your master bedroom.

0:23:010:23:07

You can also see that this leads through to another bedroom with its own en-suite.

0:23:070:23:13

-In fact, this property comes with five good-sized bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms.

-All?

-All.

0:23:130:23:19

-OK.

-That's a lot of toilets to clean!

0:23:190:23:22

-I just want to show you one more. I think you'll be quite impressed.

-OK.

0:23:220:23:27

Final bathroom.

0:23:310:23:33

And this is the last bedroom I wanted to show you.

0:23:360:23:39

This is another master and a half!

0:23:390:23:42

-Wow!

-So is this THE master bedroom or another master bedroom?

0:23:420:23:46

Well, this is the guest wing.

0:23:460:23:49

-I want to be a guest!

-Exactly.

-This is like a luxury suite in a hotel, isn't it?

0:23:500:23:55

It is, but it could be your home.

0:23:550:23:57

The last thing I need to show you is outside, so let's have a look at the garden.

0:23:570:24:02

-Then there's that very difficult question. Oh, dear.

-That's the one. Start thinking.

-Yeah.

0:24:020:24:07

Thank you.

0:24:070:24:09

'We appear to be on to a winner here as Alan and Sue have clearly been impressed

0:24:100:24:15

'with the overall space of this house.

0:24:150:24:18

'I'm hoping, as we move outside, our buyers won't be overwhelmed

0:24:180:24:22

'with the amount of land that comes with this property.'

0:24:220:24:25

Here we are at the back of the house.

0:24:250:24:28

Your garden is round the side, round the back. It's all been beautifully landscaped.

0:24:280:24:33

So you get an acre of garden wrapping round,

0:24:330:24:37

but then that way, you also get five acres of paddock.

0:24:370:24:41

-Good grief!

-And your friends, the sheep, are there at the moment.

0:24:410:24:46

-It's rented out to the local farmer, so you've got the sheep grazing.

-At least you don't have to maintain it.

0:24:460:24:52

With everything this house has to offer in mind, how much do you think it's on the market for?

0:24:520:24:57

It's got to be probably 1.6 million.

0:24:570:24:59

I also was going to say just over the budget, so let me go in between.

0:24:590:25:05

1.55 then.

0:25:050:25:07

This house is on the market at 1.35 million.

0:25:070:25:12

Good grief! That's fantastic. We'd still have enough left over for a decent car.

0:25:120:25:18

Lots for you to think about. Go and have a wander.

0:25:180:25:21

-I'll come and seek you out later on.

-All right. Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:25:210:25:25

What a result! They loved that property from the moment we walked in

0:25:250:25:29

and it didn't fail to meet their expectations.

0:25:290:25:32

And what I most love is that they overvalued it.

0:25:320:25:36

I think that's a sign of just how much they love it.

0:25:360:25:39

Coming in under budget at £1.35 million,

0:25:400:25:43

the price of this detached house has been a welcome surprise for Alan and Sue.

0:25:430:25:48

What's more, it meets many of the criteria on their wish list, providing them with...

0:25:480:25:53

I think this is much more our type or style,

0:26:070:26:11

simply from the point of view that it's very practical

0:26:110:26:15

and we would have very little to do.

0:26:150:26:18

Almost the biggest surprises for me and the nicest things about the house

0:26:180:26:23

was not just the wonderful kitchen and the lovely feeling of space when you walked into the house,

0:26:230:26:29

but that feeling of space continued upstairs.

0:26:290:26:32

I think that Alan and I are both very excited about this house.

0:26:320:26:36

If we had the money in our back pockets now,

0:26:360:26:39

we'd almost be meeting with the owner and seeing what we could do because it has got such a lovely feel to it.

0:26:390:26:45

I have high hopes for this one.

0:26:450:26:47

-Hey there.

-Yes...

-You managed to find your way out?

0:26:470:26:51

-Yeah.

-You almost didn't get us out. It's really, really lovely.

0:26:510:26:54

I'm so pleased it's been positive, but this is only the end of day one.

0:26:540:26:59

-There's more to see tomorrow.

-Good.

-Great.

-Looking forward to it.

0:26:590:27:03

As evening falls over the Cotswold skyline,

0:27:140:27:17

our buyers can bask in the warmth of a successful first day's house-hunting.

0:27:170:27:23

After ten years of being wedded to their respective jobs in Switzerland,

0:27:280:27:33

Alan and Sue have decided to cast aside their careers and return home to England

0:27:330:27:38

for a more tranquil life closer to family in the Cotswolds.

0:27:380:27:41

So far, our converted chapel failed to fire up our couple's enthusiasm,

0:27:410:27:47

but the 1920s house on a hill revived their spirits with its fabulous kitchen.

0:27:470:27:52

But could we have reached tipping point with our mystery house?

0:27:520:27:56

This is just extraordinary.

0:27:560:27:59

And I'll be meeting the new faces continuing the Cotswolds wool tradition.

0:27:590:28:04

Yesterday, I gave Alan and Sue a real flavour of the Cotswolds,

0:28:060:28:10

showing them two very distinctive properties,

0:28:100:28:13

one with historical charm and the other with a very spacious layout.

0:28:130:28:17

The second property really captured their imagination and has given them some food for thought,

0:28:170:28:23

but with our mystery house, it's time for something very different.

0:28:230:28:27

They'll be hard pushed to find a Cotswold stone in sight.

0:28:270:28:30

'Our mystery house is in the south-west area of the Cotswolds in Uley.

0:28:340:28:38

'It may be a fair distance from Evesham, which was Alan and Sue's ideal search area.

0:28:380:28:44

'However, we have found them a house that is truly unique.

0:28:440:28:48

'Before seeing the mystery property, we'll pop into the creative hub of Uley, the Arts Centre,

0:28:480:28:54

'and meet a local who runs the cafe.'

0:28:540:28:57

So what's the local community like? This is a central focal point.

0:28:570:29:01

It's very vibrant. There's a lot of things taking place, lots of activities.

0:29:010:29:06

We've got a brewery. That's pretty good. We've got an arts centre, a pub and a post office.

0:29:060:29:13

-There are things taking place in Uley.

-What's it like living round here?

-It's lovely.

0:29:130:29:18

It's a beautiful place to live. I wake up every morning, take a deep breath and go, "Oh, my goodness!"

0:29:180:29:24

-Let's get back to it, the mystery house calls. Adam, thank you very much for your time.

-Thank you.

0:29:240:29:29

'Now, we've taken a calculated risk with the mystery house

0:29:290:29:33

'which is a complete break from the Cotswold traditional style.

0:29:330:29:37

'It is uber-modern, but it's also located in the grounds of a walled garden,

0:29:370:29:42

'so fingers crossed, they'll like it.'

0:29:420:29:45

It's just like a Monet garden, isn't it?

0:29:450:29:48

Well, here we are, a Monet garden indeed, and we have the mystery house.

0:29:480:29:53

It's definitely a mystery. That is fantastic.

0:29:530:29:57

-I never would have imagined that.

-I could never have expected anything like that.

0:29:570:30:02

A modern house, wood, lead, quite interesting.

0:30:020:30:05

It was designed and built by the current owners in 2007, so a very modern building.

0:30:050:30:10

-Not only is it modern, it's an eco-house.

-Excellent. OK.

0:30:100:30:14

I'm almost speechless and I'm really excited to get inside

0:30:140:30:17

because I think this could be a very, very special property.

0:30:170:30:21

-It is very special indeed. Let me show you inside.

-Good.

0:30:210:30:25

'This is such an unusual property, I'm not surprised Sue is a touch tongue-tied, as well as intrigued.

0:30:250:30:31

'And inside, it certainly takes "light and airy" to a new level.'

0:30:310:30:35

Well, in we come.

0:30:360:30:38

This part of the house, we're almost underground. It's been built into the ground. It's concrete.

0:30:380:30:44

At the other end, it's oak timber frames, so it's unusual, the design and the set-up.

0:30:440:30:51

Down here at the front, you've got a really good room which they use as a children's playroom.

0:30:510:30:56

You could do as you wish. This is a gym with a wetroom and sauna. That could be quite special.

0:30:560:31:02

Shall we go into the living room and explore more of the features of this property?

0:31:020:31:07

So this is the main living room area.

0:31:070:31:11

-Oh, this is stunning.

-As you can see, you're looking out on to the water.

0:31:110:31:15

-They have built the windows...

-The oak beams are exceptional.

0:31:150:31:19

I love the wood and the view out of the window is stunning, but it feels somehow a cold room.

0:31:190:31:24

I don't have the feeling of warmth in this house so far.

0:31:240:31:28

-Let's go into the kitchen and see if you warm up a bit in there.

-OK.

0:31:280:31:32

-So through a dining room area which does lead to the outside...

-Lovely.

0:31:340:31:39

-But this is the kitchen.

-And yet another island.

-Another island.

-Fantastic.

0:31:390:31:44

And the angles and the view with the water outside is just so special.

0:31:440:31:51

-And through that door, you do have a very large utility area.

-That's always helpful.

0:31:510:31:56

-You're doing well, Denise.

-Good.

-You're doing well.

0:31:560:32:00

'The ground floor is certainly spacious and includes a separate dining area, a cloakroom

0:32:000:32:05

'and a large study, all of which enjoy fabulous views out on to the grounds.

0:32:050:32:10

'However, I'm saving one of the best views until last.'

0:32:100:32:14

Here's a highly unusual master.

0:32:160:32:18

-You don't often get to look out on to the roof there, which is sort of seed and flowers.

-More oak beams.

0:32:180:32:24

The lighting is exceptional. Again that's really unusual.

0:32:240:32:28

It looks like there would be a very good view from the balcony.

0:32:280:32:32

-I think there is. Shall we have a look?

-Yeah.

-After you.

0:32:320:32:35

-I think this is the best view from this property.

-Wow!

-You're right about that, Denise.

-Absolutely.

0:32:390:32:45

So that's it, you can get a feeling for the grounds,

0:32:450:32:49

but one area you were interested in was gardening, growing your own veg. They're passionate about that here.

0:32:490:32:55

-There's an awful lot to look at.

-There is. Let's have a wander round.

0:32:550:32:59

'Back inside, there are four more good-sized bedrooms,

0:33:000:33:04

'one of which has an en-suite shower room. In addition, there's a separate family bathroom.

0:33:040:33:10

'As we move outside, the mature gardens have a natural stream feeding two ponds

0:33:100:33:15

'and there is a raised terraced area, perfect for dining outdoors.'

0:33:150:33:20

-You've got just under two acres, so 1.8.

-Good grief! That's incredible.

0:33:200:33:24

It runs right the way round the walled garden.

0:33:240:33:27

You can see the wall up there behind the trees, then up and back round here.

0:33:270:33:31

Over this side is a fantastic vegetable garden. They grow everything there.

0:33:310:33:37

-And you have a little swimming pool.

-Fantastic.

0:33:370:33:40

-All this and heaven too then!

-You've also got this area here which is where the original bungalow was.

0:33:400:33:47

-Now it's a garage and storage. The current owners use it as a hobby and craft room.

-Very special.

0:33:470:33:53

-So special, but how much?

-I would think probably 1.7,

0:33:530:33:58

-1.75, something like that?

-OK.

0:33:580:34:02

Why don't I go a little bit closer to budget and say 1.6?

0:34:020:34:05

-You, Alan, are spot-on. It's on at 1.75.

-Fantastic. I thought so.

0:34:050:34:10

There's so much to take in here. You'd be hard-pushed to find a more unusual house in the Cotswolds.

0:34:100:34:16

Have a wander round. Enjoy these gardens. Go on a discovery journey.

0:34:160:34:20

-I will seek you out later on.

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:34:200:34:24

I think they were blown away by that, but they did get the price spot-on.

0:34:240:34:28

It's hard to value a property that's so unique, but if you wanted the best of the Cotswolds

0:34:280:34:34

and the best of what's contemporary, you can't go far wrong with this.

0:34:340:34:38

On the market for £1.75 million,

0:34:400:34:43

our high spec mystery house has certainly got our buyers considering

0:34:430:34:47

whether they would opt for a more unconventional style of property.

0:34:470:34:51

It includes...

0:34:510:34:53

The house is certainly not what I expected and it would not have been on the top of our priority list.

0:35:090:35:15

There's no Cotswold stone to be seen.

0:35:150:35:17

A lot of wood, actually a lot of beautiful wood. We both love oak.

0:35:170:35:22

And a lot of glass.

0:35:220:35:24

First impressions were...

0:35:240:35:26

a big "wow"!

0:35:260:35:28

The garden is exceptional.

0:35:280:35:30

As with most men, you always have to succumb to female charms

0:35:300:35:34

and I think what will happen here is Sue will do the usual suggestions about, "Let's think about it

0:35:340:35:40

"and come up with some ideas and costings, then we'll go from there,"

0:35:400:35:44

which is code for saying "no",

0:35:440:35:46

but I'll be batting hard to try and get my pennies' worth listened to at least.

0:35:460:35:53

-There you are.

-Yes, at last.

0:35:550:35:57

I had to find Alan. He was doing his best to get lost, so he could stay.

0:35:570:36:02

-It's an amazing property, but you have seen everything we have to offer now.

-Yes.

0:36:020:36:07

-Time to sit down and reflect.

-Definitely.

0:36:070:36:10

'Although it was sheep that put the Cotswolds on the map from the late Middle Ages,

0:36:180:36:23

'the region's wool and cloth production declined during the early 19th century

0:36:230:36:28

'as the mechanised factories further north created more efficient forms of textile manufacturing.

0:36:280:36:34

'The golden age of the Cotswold wool industry came to an end.

0:36:340:36:38

'Fast-forward to the 21st century, it's making a bit of a comeback,

0:36:380:36:42

'albeit on a smaller scale and from an entirely different species that you wouldn't expect to find here.

0:36:420:36:49

'There are now over 1,000 alpaca owners in the UK, breeding the animal for their fibre.

0:36:490:36:55

'The majority of breeders sell the fleece on to be processed,

0:36:550:36:58

'but at this farm north of Swindon, they're spinning the wool and making hand-crafted items on site.

0:36:580:37:04

'I dropped in on Mym and Adrian Holcombe to find out more

0:37:040:37:07

'about how their modern spin on producing wool in the Cotswolds came about.'

0:37:070:37:12

Guys, these are definitely some of the cutest animals I've ever seen on a farm. I love them.

0:37:120:37:18

I can see why you probably fell in love with them,

0:37:180:37:21

but tell me about the journey from corporate life to running an alpaca farm.

0:37:210:37:26

We sold a couple of companies and we literally spent three years looking for something to do,

0:37:260:37:31

something that was exciting, that we could get really involved with,

0:37:310:37:35

that didn't mean sitting in an office all day and dealing with employees.

0:37:350:37:40

We just happened to see a five-second clip on television of alpacas,

0:37:400:37:44

Googled them and couldn't see any downside,

0:37:440:37:47

so 11 weeks later, we took delivery of four pregnant girls.

0:37:470:37:50

The four turned into eight, then we had a few more extravagances and ended up with 40.

0:37:500:37:56

They are unusual. It's not what I expect to find in the Cotswolds. Where are they from originally?

0:37:560:38:03

They originate from Peru, Bolivia, South America. They first came in with the Incas, really.

0:38:030:38:08

They used them for everything from meat, from pack animals, for the fleece for fibre.

0:38:080:38:14

'This herd of alpacas had their annual shear a few days ago

0:38:140:38:17

'and on average, one animal will yield one and a half kilograms of wool.

0:38:170:38:22

'As one of a handful of alpaca breeders in the Cotswold Hills,

0:38:220:38:26

'Mym and Adrian have learnt to spin, felt and weave their home-grown alpaca fleece.'

0:38:260:38:32

We've seen the animals in the field. They've been sheared. This is how it comes off their backs.

0:38:320:38:37

So if we want to do anything with this, we really need to what we call "card" it.

0:38:370:38:42

That's basically combing the fibres in the same direction,

0:38:420:38:45

then we can spin with it or, as we're doing, moving on to peg-looming with it.

0:38:450:38:50

It's very, very simple, hence I'm allowed to do it,

0:38:500:38:53

and we just put a little bit on the side here.

0:38:530:38:57

-And we just turn the handle.

-This way?

-That's right.

-Other way.

0:38:570:39:01

-Other way.

-There you go.

0:39:010:39:04

-It's like a brush.

-It is exactly like a brush.

0:39:040:39:07

A little bit more.

0:39:080:39:10

-Where does it come out?

-It comes out here. It comes out on the drum.

0:39:100:39:14

'The wool is now ready to be woven and I'm going to have a go at peg-looming.'

0:39:140:39:19

These are warps and what we're going to do is add the wefts across,

0:39:190:39:25

so all these pegs have a warp going through them

0:39:250:39:29

and that's where it attaches to,

0:39:290:39:32

and very simply...

0:39:320:39:34

..we take a piece of this

0:39:350:39:37

and you just join it by twisting it together like that.

0:39:370:39:41

And then you go in and out.

0:39:440:39:46

In and out.

0:39:480:39:50

-Twist.

-This looks simple enough that even I can have a go.

0:39:500:39:54

-Over to you.

-The proof will be in the pudding. So we're twisting.

-That's right, in and out.

0:39:540:40:00

Carry on with the twisting.

0:40:000:40:02

When you get to the end, you just go back again.

0:40:020:40:05

-In and out. Always twisting in the same direction?

-Yeah.

0:40:050:40:09

In and out...

0:40:090:40:12

-Are you doing this as well?

-There we are. Yeah.

0:40:120:40:15

'Slowly but surely, I'm getting to grips with this peg-looming,

0:40:150:40:19

'but let's weave our way back to Alan and Sue and see if they've made any decisions on our properties.'

0:40:190:40:25

Sue and Alan, what a couple of days we've had!

0:40:250:40:28

To lure you back from Switzerland, we're trying to achieve your Cotswold dream.

0:40:280:40:33

Let's reflect on each of them. We started with something very traditional. You wanted character.

0:40:330:40:39

It was unique, very special, but internally for me, the flow of the house didn't work.

0:40:390:40:44

Because you were accommodating a chapel,

0:40:440:40:47

as well as other 18th century parts,

0:40:470:40:50

it was something which would be too much and too difficult to accommodate what we wanted it to be.

0:40:500:40:57

So from there, we moved you forward a few centuries.

0:40:570:41:00

How did you feel about house number two?

0:41:000:41:03

I really liked house number two, particularly when we first walked up to it.

0:41:030:41:09

The colour of the stone used there was so warm. There was just something very special about that.

0:41:090:41:15

The only thing perhaps that was negative about the inside was there were too many rooms.

0:41:150:41:20

-It was just a bit too big and that sounds...

-Oh, Sue!

-I know.

0:41:200:41:23

So we had a bit too small, we've gone too big.

0:41:230:41:26

With the mystery house, did we get it just right?

0:41:260:41:29

-It was a surprise.

-A huge surprise.

-Number one, we delivered a walled garden.

-You certainly did.

0:41:290:41:35

That was completely left-field, totally unexpected,

0:41:350:41:39

and by far, for me, the best of the three.

0:41:390:41:42

It was something which had character, but the character was modern.

0:41:420:41:47

The fact that the house very much is situated in and around the beautiful gardens,

0:41:470:41:53

including that lake-ette, for want of a better word, outside the main living area,

0:41:530:41:58

that really transforms the look of the house.

0:41:580:42:01

I've got a feeling that you perhaps like one of our properties more than you, but am I wrong?

0:42:010:42:06

Have you fallen in love with any of them?

0:42:060:42:09

For me, the third property,

0:42:090:42:12

the mystery house is the one which I would be seriously interested in,

0:42:120:42:17

but I think Sue might have another opinion.

0:42:170:42:20

Am I right, Sue? Do you have a different opinion?

0:42:200:42:23

Slightly.

0:42:230:42:26

I didn't quite feel the love for the infrastructure of the house as I did for the second house.

0:42:260:42:32

However, the garden is absolutely amazing

0:42:320:42:35

and I realise it fulfils a number of Alan's dreams,

0:42:350:42:38

so I think we've got a lot of talking to do, that's for sure.

0:42:380:42:43

What would be brilliant is if you do find a home soon and make the move, so do let us know.

0:42:430:42:48

We certainly will. Thank you very much.

0:42:480:42:51

Well, the mystery house seems to have done it again,

0:42:540:42:58

a very non-traditional Cotswold property in a very idyllic Cotswold setting.

0:42:580:43:03

It seems to have fulfilled Alan's dreams

0:43:030:43:06

and if Sue can find a way of putting her stamp on it, it could be the house for her too.

0:43:060:43:11

I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.

0:43:110:43:15

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,

0:43:160:43:20

Northern Ireland or England and need our help, please apply online at:

0:43:200:43:24

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:480:43:52

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.