Herefordshire I Escaped to the Country


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Herefordshire

Nicki Chapman returns to Herefordshire to catch up with her house-hunters, discovering how their plans of running holiday let business have come to fruition.


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Making the move from city to countryside

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is often a momentous step.

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Never in a million years I would imagine

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I would be seeing a house like this. Never, ever.

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But for many years, Escape To The Country

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has been helping countless people on the hunt for a new home.

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-What do we think of this?

-Oh, my! Chocolate box.

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We've travelled to the most picturesque pockets of Britain...

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-Take a look at that killer view.

-That's amazing.

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..to showcase thousands of exquisite country properties...

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Oh, how pretty is that?

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..that our buyers just couldn't resist.

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Jules!

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-Seriously...

-Really?

-..get your cheque book out now!

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Join us as we catch up with those who bought their dream home...

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You two are like the bird whisperers, aren't you?

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..to find out how the move changed their lives

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when they Escaped To The Country.

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Today, I'm in Herefordshire and behind me are the Malvern Hills.

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Now, this spectacular scenery was much-loved by the renowned

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classical composer Edward Elgar,

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who throughout his life lived in and around the Malverns.

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But he wasn't the only one inspired by this beautiful countryside.

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I'm back here to catch up with some of my past house hunters,

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whose move to this area has completely transformed their life.

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Herefordshire is a land-locked county in the West Midlands,

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that nestles up against the border with Wales.

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With a rich agricultural heritage,

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the area is renowned for its local produce.

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I'm here to visit former Escape To The Country buyers

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Danny and Suzanne from Sutton Coldfield,

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who made their rural move seven years ago.

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As empty nesters, they were after a complete change of life.

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If I offered you £1 million to give all this up,

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would you be tempted?

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-No.

-Yeah.

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No, you wouldn't move!

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No, I wouldn't. No.

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Back in September 2009,

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lift engineer Danny and nursery school owner Suzanne

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were looking for a change as their children had flown the nest.

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They fancied trying their hands at running some holiday lets

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to generate an income.

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We thought about doing the holiday lets really because we've

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got a lodge up in the Lake District

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and we actually rent that out now, but that's through a company.

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We'd like to do it on site so that we're there.

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And more involved.

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More involved with it and obviously have one or two more

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as well as the lodge. So whether we do a barn up, maybe, or stables.

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-And it gives us income, that's the main thing.

-Yeah.

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The lodge they already owned was transportable,

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so they needed enough space to accommodate it,

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plus room for at least one more holiday let.

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In fact, the outside was key to their search,

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particularly for green-fingered Suzanne.

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Although we love this garden and we've put a lot of plants in,

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we do feel we'd like a little bit more acreage now,

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maybe one to two acres so that we can put the lodge on.

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And I can have a ride-on mower

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and we can enjoy life in a new garden, new setting.

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So with land and business potential firmly in mind,

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they were raring to go.

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The wish list for their move included a house

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with three to four bedrooms and a large country kitchen.

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Danny needed a garage for his classic car,

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as well as a much anticipated ride-on mower.

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Holiday let potential was essential,

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with between one to two acres for their existing lodge.

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And their budget was an impressive £650,000.

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The first house we showed our buyers was in the small rural village

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of Mathon and simply oozed character and charm,

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despite only being a couple of years old.

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This is your property. Built in 2007.

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It's a very attractive looking house, I think.

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It doesn't look brand-new.

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No, it's got character from the outside, definitely.

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-Looking forward to the inside.

-Great! Well, let's get started.

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Thank you.

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Regardless of age, this property worked in sympathy

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with its surroundings,

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so I was hoping it was just what Suzanne and Danny were looking for.

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Is this what you had in mind?

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-You've got an island as well.

-Yeah.

-Island.

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-A big range.

-And a range cooker.

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Yes. Table!

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It's going well.

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-It's got some character.

-Yeah.

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-Yeah, it's lovely.

-Very nice.

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The kitchen was a hit.

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Next up was the sitting room.

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Oh, got my wood burner.

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Right, you can keep warm with that then.

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-Are you partial to those?

-Yes. That's ideal.

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And an inglenook style fireplace to go with it.

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-Lovely. Put the logs there.

-You've got a stained window.

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-A nice bit of character there.

-It's a good touch, isn't it?

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It also brings a bit of natural light to the hallway.

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-It does, doesn't it?

-It's a good size actually, isn't it?

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Still going strong,

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next we made our way upstairs to explore the four bedrooms.

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The house came with two small doubles

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and a larger room that could work well for guests.

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But I wanted to show off the master.

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-Well, here it is.

-Oh, that's a good size.

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-Bigger than ours!

-Definitely bigger than ours.

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-Is it?

-Oh, yeah, definitely.

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So far, so good.

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And as we made our way outside, I revealed that there were also

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almost 2.5 acres of land on offer,

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leaving plenty of room for their existing lodge

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as well as any additions.

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And there was one more feature I was keen to unveil.

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So I want to show you this stable block

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-because there's some options here to consider.

-Oh, right.

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-As you can see, you've got three stables.

-Yep.

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You've got an office at the end and you've got a tack room.

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-Right.

-So quite a large building.

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But you've probably noticed, this building doesn't have a garage.

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-No.

-No.

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So you could potentially convert this

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-into a very large double garage.

-Oh, that would be good.

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That would be good for your classic cars.

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-Yep, excellent.

-So that could work out quite well.

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However, with anything when you're changing a structure,

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-you have to get planning permission.

-Consent.

-Yeah.

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Even for a garage.

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But before they could consider any of that,

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there was one pressing question to answer.

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How much do you think the current asking price is?

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Probably 655,000.

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Danny?

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I'd say 670,000.

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This house, the current asking price,

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is £599,950.

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Oh! A little bit left over to do the necessary work.

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-It would have to be done.

-Yep.

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And obviously the garage would have to be done,

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-so that gives you a little bit...

-It does.

-..in your budget.

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It gives us some extra there to play with.

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That's good, yeah.

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£50,000 under budget,

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this property would have left our buyers with plenty of money to put

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towards their potential holiday let business.

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But I still had more property options to show them.

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Next, we headed to rural Eastnor to see a former pumping house

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that dated to around 1895.

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So here we have your house.

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-Got some history there.

-It certainly has.

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And it looks to me more Arts and Crafts than Victorian

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because I think it's got a lot of beautiful character.

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It looks beautiful, yes. The whole setting.

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-I'm really quite excited.

-Yep.

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It just looks absolutely magnificent.

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-Ready to go?

-Yes.

-Yes, please.

-Carry on.

-Yes.

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What a great start.

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I was just hoping they'd find the inside equally impressive.

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-Straight into the reception room.

-Oh, isn't that lovely?

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-Wood burner again.

-Oh, that's lovely.

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It's got nice proportions as well.

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It's got a cosy feel to it.

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Our sitting room appeared to have gained full marks.

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And there was also a separate dining room on this floor.

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But I was eager to find out if Suzanne thought the country kitchen

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measured up, so I was only too happy to take them there next.

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-Ah, yes!

-Oh, you've got this one. Yeah, definitely.

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-Oh, lovely.

-You've ticked a couple of boxes.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

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-Oh, and the cooker.

-You've got your range there.

-Nice cooker, yeah.

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The kitchen is only two years old.

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-Right.

-So you've got practically a brand-new kitchen,

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with granite work surfaces.

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And there's nothing to do, is there, it's all perfect.

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-Immaculate.

-Gorgeous. You can just leave me here now.

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Music to my ears!

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Upstairs there were three bedrooms,

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including a double and a single for when the children came to stay

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and of course there was a good size master bedroom

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for Danny and Suzanne.

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But this property came with one other feature

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that I couldn't wait to reveal -

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in the form of a self-contained holiday let above the double garage.

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Oh, wonderful!

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Oh, gosh, that's great.

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That is really self-contained, isn't it?

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You've got a separate entrance,

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completely away from the rest of the house and it's all done.

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Because we're so close to Eastnor Castle,

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they get a lot of weddings,

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a lot of functions there.

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So, the current owners actually let this to a lot of people

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-who are going to the castle.

-Oh, right.

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Outside boasted around two-and-a-half acres of land,

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giving more than enough space to site their holiday lodge

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and even a few more.

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Ahead of us is an Airstream caravan.

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-It's a static caravan, which is going...

-Aww.

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..but it gives you an idea of where perhaps you could your log cabin

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-and other log cabins or static caravans around here.

-Yes.

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Fantastic. It's just lovely.

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So, it's time now to think about how much this is on the market for.

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-This has got to be well over the budget.

-This is difficult.

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I think it's the land more than anything.

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-It's perfectly formed, the house, but...

-Yeah.

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You go first.

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-700.

-OK.

-I think that's what we're looking at.

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-Danny?

-I think probably 680, 690, something like that.

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Danny, you're closer.

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-Oh, right.

-That's nice.

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-But you're not that close.

-Oh.

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-Current asking price is £499,950.

-No!

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-No!

-Oh, my God!

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-Can you just get your cheque book out?

-I know, yeah.

-No!

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What's going through your mind?

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-Talk to me.

-Try not to cry.

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Possibilities.

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£150,000 below budget.

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This house had completely blown them away.

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But not wanting to peak too early, our search continued.

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And our third option was situated in the village of Holme Lacy

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in the beautiful Wye Valley,

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where we found a farmer's cottage that dated back to the 1700s.

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Oh, look.

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You've got this accommodation at the side which is attached to the house.

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-Right.

-You've got a beautiful courtyard,

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which needs a little bit of a love and care,

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but it's absolutely stunning.

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There is so much potential out here, you can see just standing.

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-It looks good.

-It looks lovely.

-The layout looks great. Yeah.

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-So I bet you are intrigued now, aren't you?

-Yes, very.

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-Very.

-Well, let's start with the house.

-OK.

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-And we'll go from there.

-Great.

-OK.

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A promising initial reaction gave me hope

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that they liked what they saw so far.

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As we stepped inside, we made a beeline for the sitting room.

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Oh, this is nice. I like different levels.

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A bit quirky.

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-Oh, it's sweet, isn't it?

-Yeah.

-Cosy.

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-So what room would this be?

-Living room.

-Yeah?

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Living room, definitely.

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So, let's show you the kitchen next.

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Oh, that's my bit.

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Back up the stairs.

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Suzanne had come across what might have been her dream kitchen

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in the last property, so this room had a lot to live up to.

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-More exposed stone, original beams.

-Oh!

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-The kitchen, with the biggest range...

-Look at that!

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..I think I've ever seen!

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But you've also got another reception room through here.

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Oh, a dining room. Breakfast room.

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God, that's massive.

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I mean, you could extend your kitchen right the way out.

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You could. You could put all cupboards down that one side,

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-so literally this is just a cooking bit then.

-Yeah.

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There was an additional reception room

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and a utility room on this floor.

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Then upstairs, we found four bedrooms.

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There were three doubles that would have been perfect to accommodate

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guests or the children when they came to stay.

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The master was the next destination on our tour.

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-I mean, it's absolutely beautiful.

-It's got the character.

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It's just what we'd hoped...

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You know, what you hope for in a cottage.

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The house had gone down very well,

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offering plenty of the character Danny and Suzanne were after.

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But we still had to look at the business side of things.

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The self-contained annexe had two bedrooms, a sitting room,

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a bathroom and a kitchen, complete with breakfast bar.

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-Is it already used as holiday lets?

-It's not.

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Although it's set up for it, they used to run their

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business from here, so this was used as additional accommodation

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for people working for them. But everything's here.

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Back outside, I revealed that the property

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came with some stunning views across the countryside

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and sat in an acre of land,

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meaning sufficient space for their holiday lodge.

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The garden may have been a little on the wild side,

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but that didn't seem to faze gardener Suzanne.

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The only thing left to discuss was the price.

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So, money time.

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How much do you think the farmhouse, the garden,

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the orchard and the additional holiday let accommodation

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-is on the market for?

-This is very difficult.

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I think about five-and-a-half.

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-I think a bit more.

-Do you?

-So I would say 600.

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-Let's see who's right.

-We'll see.

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And it is... Bang on the nose, Suzanne.

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-..£600,000.

-Ah, you see!

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That sigh from Danny said it all,

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as I'd shown them another house that could have been a really good fit

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for their new lives and at a price they could afford.

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I had shown Danny and Suzanne properties with great potential

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to get their new life in the countryside kick-started.

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But there was still the Mystery House to come,

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and that was going to tip the balance

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towards one of their other criteria.

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For the last stop of our rural road trip,

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we went over to border into Worcestershire

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to the village of Hanley Swan.

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In a twist on the business potential objective,

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I served up a B&B that I thought could be right up their street.

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So here is the Mystery House.

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-All of it?

-All of it.

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-It looks impressive.

-It's very impressive.

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-It also has eight bedrooms.

-Eight?

-Eight.

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Eight bedrooms.

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The reason this house has been picked for you

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is to look at something different

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-and that is a B&B as earning potential.

-Yep.

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-OK.

-Are you ready to start the tour?

-Yes.

-Yes, please.

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As we made our way inside, it seemed that I was getting vibes

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of cautious optimism from our couple.

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So come on in. How's this for a hallway?

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-Beautiful.

-That's beautiful.

-Lovely size.

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That side is for the B&B,

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and the whole of this side is the private residence.

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Oh, that's nice, then.

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So for anyone staying here,

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-this is the only part of the private house they go into.

-Right.

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Then they go through that door,

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not to be seen again until they check out.

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-Oh, that sounds right.

-That's good. And pay.

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And pay, obviously.

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-Let's do the private part of the house first.

-OK.

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Passing through the large sitting room,

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it was the kitchen I was keen to highlight.

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So imagine between 7-9am, pans going, food all out.

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-Could we not do late breakfasts?

-You could do, yeah. Weekends.

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I think it would be very late breakfasts.

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-Lunch!

-I'm not too good in the morning. I'm really not.

0:16:230:16:27

Upstairs, there were five generous bedrooms

0:16:280:16:30

within the private side of the house.

0:16:300:16:33

Again, ample room for when the family came to stay.

0:16:330:16:36

The fifth bedroom was up on the top floor.

0:16:360:16:39

It came complete with a sitting room and a study all of its own.

0:16:390:16:44

-Oh, that's good.

-Look at all this.

-Oh, God. And round there as well.

0:16:440:16:47

-That's brilliant.

-So you would never think this was here, would you?

0:16:470:16:49

-No.

-This is really nice and tucked away.

-Yeah.

0:16:490:16:52

But Danny and Suzanne were itching to check out the B&B side of things,

0:16:520:16:57

which consisted of a large guest dining room,

0:16:570:16:59

as well as a communal sitting room

0:16:590:17:01

where people could unwind in the evenings.

0:17:010:17:04

To give my buyers a glimpse of the life their guests would enjoy

0:17:040:17:08

when they came to stay, I took them to one of the three B&B bedrooms.

0:17:080:17:12

Gives you an idea of the standard of the rooms,

0:17:130:17:16

which I think is very high.

0:17:160:17:18

You don't normally get this size, do you?

0:17:180:17:19

No, I've stayed in hotels that aren't as nice as this.

0:17:190:17:23

-Not as nice...

-A very generous bathroom next door.

0:17:230:17:26

And is this a five-star accommodation?

0:17:260:17:28

This is five-star.

0:17:280:17:30

You're keeping this going, aren't you?

0:17:300:17:32

-Is it working overtime?

-Yes.

-But, I mean, it is all done.

0:17:320:17:37

There were two more guest bedrooms that were finished

0:17:370:17:40

to an equally high standard and I was able to assure them

0:17:400:17:42

the business was looking very healthy for the next few months.

0:17:420:17:46

Outside, Suzanne, in particular,

0:17:460:17:48

was a little disappointed by the lack of a proper garden.

0:17:480:17:52

I knew she was looking forward to having space to work

0:17:520:17:55

her green-fingered magic, and the front lawn

0:17:550:17:57

wasn't quite what she was looking for.

0:17:570:18:00

But I had one more piece of information to impart

0:18:000:18:03

before our talk turned to money.

0:18:030:18:06

So before I ask you how much you think this property is worth,

0:18:060:18:09

would you like to know how much revenue this business takes?

0:18:090:18:11

-That would help, yes.

-So she only had B&B about 50-60% of the year.

0:18:110:18:16

-Right, that that's what we would do.

-Yeah.

0:18:160:18:18

But her turnover is between £30,000-£40,000 a year.

0:18:180:18:22

-Wow.

-That's pretty good, isn't it? That's good.

0:18:220:18:25

So, how much do you think this house is currently on the market for?

0:18:250:18:30

-590.

-OK.

0:18:300:18:32

-Danny?

-I think about 650, actually, with that income and stuff.

0:18:320:18:37

I think it's about 650, actually.

0:18:370:18:39

OK. Current asking price is £625,000.

0:18:390:18:46

-In between the two then.

-I thought so. I thought that, yeah.

0:18:460:18:49

Under budget at £625,000,

0:18:500:18:54

our Mystery House may not have been exactly

0:18:540:18:56

what they had in mind initially, but it had got them thinking

0:18:560:19:00

about the possible merits of B&B.

0:19:000:19:02

I'd shown them four houses,

0:19:030:19:05

each with exciting possibilities they could turn into realities.

0:19:050:19:10

They'd seen character and charm at every turn

0:19:100:19:12

and could easily make their holiday let dreams come true,

0:19:120:19:16

or perhaps try their hands at running a B&B.

0:19:160:19:19

But which house would win the day?

0:19:190:19:22

It's time to find out.

0:19:220:19:24

Judging by Danny and Suzanne's initial reaction

0:19:260:19:29

and that tantalising price tag,

0:19:290:19:32

it should come as no surprise that they actually bought...

0:19:320:19:35

..the pump house.

0:19:350:19:37

Yes, and I'm back and very excited to see what changes they've made.

0:19:370:19:42

-Hello!

-Hello, Nicki. How lovely to see you.

0:19:530:19:56

-Lovely to be back.

-Lovely.

0:19:560:20:00

I can't wait to see your home.

0:20:000:20:02

-Well, come and have a look what we've done.

-Thank you.

0:20:020:20:04

Right, come and have a look at the lounge then, Nicki.

0:20:070:20:11

-Now, we haven't been...

-Burgled!

-NICKI LAUGHS

0:20:110:20:14

We're waiting for our new suite.

0:20:140:20:16

So, shall I pretend to sit down here?

0:20:160:20:18

-Yes!

-That's right, yeah.

-Very nice.

-A finished space.

0:20:180:20:21

We haven't done much in here. It was beautiful.

0:20:210:20:23

It's, you know, so cosy with the fire on

0:20:230:20:26

and we love it in here in the winter.

0:20:260:20:29

-It is a great space, isn't it?

-Well, now it is, yes!

0:20:290:20:31

Although this room seems unchanged,

0:20:340:20:36

there are other areas of the house they've put their own stamp on.

0:20:360:20:40

-You won't have seen this.

-Now... Oh!

0:20:400:20:44

That's a good "oh", wasn't it?

0:20:440:20:45

-And we've got a three-piece suite.

-Yes.

0:20:450:20:47

-We've got some furniture this time.

-I can sit down.

0:20:470:20:50

-Yes, you

-can sit down. I can sit down.

0:20:500:20:52

-This is beautiful.

-Thank you.

0:20:520:20:54

And you've maximised that incredible garden, haven't you?

0:20:540:20:57

This was the first thing that we actually did when got here.

0:20:570:21:00

We knew we wanted one. We had one at the old house

0:21:000:21:02

and it's just brought the garden in. It's beautiful.

0:21:020:21:05

Oh, I would live out here.

0:21:050:21:07

-I would live out here with those views!

-Thank you.

0:21:070:21:10

-It's perfect.

-The only problem is because we've got glass right

0:21:100:21:13

down to the bottom, we've got all the ducks that peck the glass,

0:21:130:21:17

so we're forever cleaning the glass.

0:21:170:21:20

-That...

-Apart from that.

0:21:200:21:21

That is a lovely problem is to have, isn't it?

0:21:210:21:24

A lovely problem to have.

0:21:240:21:27

One thing I do remember from my last visit is how much Suzanne

0:21:270:21:31

fell in love with the kitchen.

0:21:310:21:33

Oh, yes!

0:21:330:21:35

This was my dream kitchen.

0:21:350:21:37

-We haven't really changed anything in here.

-No.

0:21:370:21:39

If you like what you've got, then there's no need to bash it about.

0:21:390:21:42

It's a lovely workable kitchen.

0:21:420:21:44

Lots of worktops, lots of cupboards, which I love.

0:21:440:21:47

We did put a stable door in,

0:21:470:21:48

but unfortunately we can't open that much

0:21:480:21:50

because we get the birds and the ducks coming in.

0:21:500:21:53

-We had the robin in yesterday.

-All sorts of wildlife.

0:21:530:21:56

Country problems, eh?! Do they really - they just come in?

0:21:560:21:59

-Yes.

-We had a little baby robin hit the window the other day

0:21:590:22:02

and if that had been open it would have been in the kitchen.

0:22:020:22:06

He's got a little pet robin, which I'm sure you'll meet

0:22:060:22:09

-a bit later on.

-I'm loving this tour.

0:22:090:22:12

The wildlife, the property. This is great.

0:22:120:22:14

Of course, my double oven is great for all my cakes.

0:22:140:22:18

-Cakes?

-Oh, yes.

-You're a baker?

0:22:180:22:20

Well, the guests do get spoilt a little bit.

0:22:200:22:22

-Do they?

-With the duck eggs.

0:22:220:22:23

-Yes. I might just have a cake for you.

-Lovely!

0:22:230:22:28

No time for cake just get as they can't wait to show me

0:22:280:22:31

what's changed upstairs.

0:22:310:22:33

Oh, it's all coming back to me now, the upstairs.

0:22:370:22:40

Not the hugest of bedrooms, but we've managed to move things around

0:22:400:22:44

a little, but it was he en-suite - we desperately wanted an en-suite.

0:22:440:22:48

-And big enough for the two of you?

-Yes, fine.

0:22:480:22:51

I don't believe you should have a really massive bedroom,

0:22:510:22:54

it's downstairs that really matters, really. Yeah.

0:22:540:22:56

And that's where you've got the space, isn't it?

0:22:560:22:58

-Yes.

-I remember this being a big move for the two of you,

0:22:580:23:02

especially as you were considering introducing a new business

0:23:020:23:06

-into it as well.

-Yeah, it was.

0:23:060:23:07

It was a risk, really, we took, but it's paid off.

0:23:070:23:10

Well, that sounds like the perfect cue to head back outside

0:23:110:23:15

for a proper chat and maybe a slice of that cake.

0:23:150:23:18

It really is a very attractive property, your pump house, isn't it?

0:23:200:23:24

-It is pretty.

-The work that went into a pump house in those days,

0:23:240:23:29

it's extraordinary. Now it would be just like a concrete block.

0:23:290:23:32

Well, that's the Victorians.

0:23:320:23:34

They always designed something that always wasn't what it is.

0:23:340:23:37

Gorgeous. As you come up our drive way,

0:23:370:23:39

do you look at your home still and pinch yourself?

0:23:390:23:42

-Has the novelty worn off?

-No.

-No.

-Never, never.

0:23:420:23:45

We still look out of the windows now and think

0:23:450:23:48

it's like being on holiday.

0:23:480:23:49

-Really?

-Every window has got a different view.

0:23:490:23:52

-We just feel lucky every day.

-But the right decision?

0:23:520:23:55

Yeah, definitely.

0:23:550:23:57

And what difference has it made, do you think,

0:23:570:23:59

to the way you live your lives,

0:23:590:24:01

the way you view the two of you together?

0:24:010:24:04

Very different at the moment.

0:24:040:24:06

Well, unfortunately Danny had a stroke two years ago,

0:24:060:24:09

so he had to give up his work. He was...

0:24:090:24:11

You were about to give up, anyway, weren't you, to go part-time.

0:24:110:24:15

Well, I had the stroke a month after

0:24:150:24:19

I was going to actually find part-time work.

0:24:190:24:23

It took my right side, not as bad as some other people,

0:24:240:24:29

where they get paralysed.

0:24:290:24:31

And I call it my lucky stroke, actually,

0:24:310:24:33

because it was lucky that it had less effect on me.

0:24:330:24:38

Do you think being here has helped your recovery?

0:24:380:24:41

Yeah, because you've got...

0:24:410:24:43

Well, I've got more time to get well, basically.

0:24:430:24:48

And you always want to get well and better when you're at home.

0:24:480:24:53

Well, you look so well now, sir, I have to say.

0:24:530:24:56

-So, all that hard work...

-Thank you.

-..has paid off, hasn't it?

0:24:560:24:59

Yeah, yeah, really good.

0:24:590:25:00

And that made you make the decision, "I'm definitely retiring now"?

0:25:000:25:03

Yes, it was made for me, in a way.

0:25:030:25:05

-But, yes.

-Can I just say that this isn't retirement, this is hard work.

0:25:050:25:08

Oh, well, I was going to ask you because you haven't stopped.

0:25:080:25:12

Because running the business, the B&B and the holiday let,

0:25:120:25:14

that is your income now coming in, isn't it?

0:25:140:25:16

-We are reliant on that.

-Yeah.

-And that's important, isn't it?

0:25:160:25:19

-Yes.

-Yeah.

-That is important for the two of you.

0:25:190:25:21

We've got to get that right.

0:25:210:25:23

A lot of people who come here to stay,

0:25:230:25:26

we actually find we love that interaction with people

0:25:260:25:29

and we get some really nice people.

0:25:290:25:32

And some people have come here, come back again

0:25:320:25:34

and have started to become friends.

0:25:340:25:36

-They just say it's home from home, which is lovely.

-Yeah.

0:25:360:25:39

So do you ever have time to sit out here

0:25:390:25:41

and just ponder and take it all in?

0:25:410:25:43

Actually, sometimes when I'm on the ride-on mower and...

0:25:430:25:46

-Oh, your ride on mower!

-He got one.

-I got one, yeah.

0:25:460:25:49

-How could I forget?

-It's relaxing. It's really relaxing.

0:25:490:25:52

But when I'm sitting on the mower sometimes at the top

0:25:520:25:55

and I switch the mower off and I just love it.

0:25:550:25:58

-Do you?

-Yeah.

-I remember your infatuation with a sit-on mower.

0:25:580:26:01

-I know. It was a bit silly, really.

-No, it wasn't.

0:26:010:26:04

That's what dreams are all about, sitting here, taking it all in.

0:26:040:26:09

And do your guests get this gorgeous cake as well?

0:26:090:26:11

-They do - with the duck eggs.

-Yeah, do they? They all have cake.

0:26:110:26:14

-Would you like a piece, Nicki?

-I would love a piece. Thank you.

0:26:140:26:17

I'll be experiencing more of Danny and Suzanne's country escape later,

0:26:190:26:24

because I still need to meet these famous feathered friends of theirs.

0:26:240:26:28

Buying your first home together is often the perfect excuse for

0:26:330:26:37

a new start. Throw in some beautiful surroundings

0:26:370:26:40

and you've got a recipe for happiness if ever there was one.

0:26:400:26:44

It was back in October 2011 when we met newly-weds Neil and Justine

0:26:460:26:51

from Peterborough who were looking to do just that.

0:26:510:26:54

They had settled on Norfolk after a recent holiday to the area,

0:26:540:26:58

and were after a character property

0:26:580:27:00

with a typical English country garden

0:27:000:27:03

and enough room for their two dogs.

0:27:030:27:05

With a budget of £425,000,

0:27:050:27:08

it was the very first house in the rural Hamlet of Pentney

0:27:080:27:12

that exceeded all expectations.

0:27:120:27:16

-Wow.

-Gosh.

-It's very pretty, isn't it?

0:27:160:27:18

-It is, yes. Quite big as well.

-It is quite big, actually.

0:27:180:27:21

-Bigger than I was expecting.

-It's actually an old farmhouse.

0:27:210:27:24

It dates back about 200 years.

0:27:240:27:27

So, as a setting, does this appeal?

0:27:270:27:30

I like the garden. I think it's wonderful, isn't it?

0:27:300:27:32

There's plenty of room and there's a gate there to keep the dogs in,

0:27:320:27:36

-but they'd love it around here, wouldn't they?

-Yeah, they would.

0:27:360:27:38

Good. All right, how keen are you to get started?

0:27:380:27:40

-Oh, yes, please!

-Come on.

0:27:400:27:42

Great first reactions and I was hoping we could build on those

0:27:450:27:49

as we made our way inside via a large utility room.

0:27:490:27:52

It's certainly a spacious house.

0:27:540:27:58

Gosh, this is lovely, isn't it?

0:27:580:28:00

Yeah. Look at the beautiful wood everywhere.

0:28:000:28:02

I like the stone work as well, which goes well with the wood.

0:28:020:28:07

-I think this property has loads of character.

-It certainly does.

0:28:070:28:11

-We're quite excited at the moment.

-Are you?

-Yeah.

0:28:110:28:14

And that character feel continued in the kitchen.

0:28:150:28:18

-Gosh!

-I like "gosh!"

0:28:180:28:21

-It's beautiful, isn't it?

-It is.

-Yes, yes.

-Look at the views.

0:28:210:28:25

-Wonderful, aren't they?

-Now, I have to tell you this,

0:28:250:28:28

the owner has spotted 120 different varieties of bird

0:28:280:28:32

-from the kitchen window.

-Really?!

-Oh, my goodness!

0:28:320:28:35

So much so he tends to hover in here.

0:28:350:28:38

And look out the window all the time.

0:28:380:28:40

Also on this floor there was a rather splendid formal dining room

0:28:400:28:44

and a separate office space.

0:28:440:28:47

Upstairs, there were four bright bedrooms,

0:28:470:28:50

each large enough to fit a double bed,

0:28:500:28:52

and next I wanted to show them my favourite - the master.

0:28:520:28:56

-It's beautiful and light, isn't it?

-It is.

0:28:560:28:59

-I don't think I've shown you a small room.

-It is huge.

0:28:590:29:01

-It is huge, isn't it?

-It's a lovely size, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:29:010:29:04

You'd get all your wardrobes and things in here.

0:29:040:29:07

The house was certainly working its magic on Neil and Justine.

0:29:070:29:11

And it was time for us to head outside,

0:29:110:29:13

where we found around two-thirds of an acre of land.

0:29:130:29:16

This included a garage,

0:29:160:29:18

as well as an additional outbuilding at the bottom of the garden.

0:29:180:29:22

All that was left was to talk finances.

0:29:220:29:25

Who wants to guess the price first?

0:29:260:29:28

-Do you want to go first?

-Oh, OK.

0:29:280:29:30

Our budget is £425,000.

0:29:300:29:31

So I'm really hoping that it is 425 and not above that.

0:29:310:29:35

Although, I mean, it's a brilliant house so it might well be.

0:29:350:29:38

-What do you think?

-I would have to go higher than that.

0:29:380:29:41

And I think I would go £450,000.

0:29:410:29:45

The current asking price...

0:29:460:29:47

-Neil, you're on the money. ..£450,000.

-Right.

0:29:470:29:52

I've spoken to the owner, they would be happy to negotiate.

0:29:520:29:56

-That's exciting, isn't it?

-It is exciting, yes.

0:29:560:29:59

This house remained the favourite in our line-up for Neil and Justine,

0:29:590:30:03

and I'm happy to report they did put in an offer.

0:30:030:30:06

Another one of our memorable house-hunting highlights.

0:30:060:30:09

Herefordshire is a firm favourite with our house hunters,

0:30:140:30:17

and I can see why.

0:30:170:30:20

The Malvern Hills and the Wye Valley are both protected

0:30:200:30:23

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

0:30:230:30:25

and provide wonderful walking terrain.

0:30:250:30:28

The county is also home to over 9,500 acres of cider apple orchards,

0:30:280:30:35

which continues to fuel its cider-making tradition.

0:30:350:30:38

Now, local food and drink production is the lifeblood for lots of

0:30:380:30:42

independent businesses here.

0:30:420:30:44

And markets in places like Hereford and Ledbury continue to be great

0:30:440:30:48

gathering points for the whole community.

0:30:480:30:51

And it's Ledbury that's my next Herefordshire port of call.

0:30:530:30:56

It's the closest town to Danny and Suzanne

0:30:560:30:58

and is popular with visitors and locals,

0:30:580:31:01

resplendent with boutique shops and gorgeous historic architecture.

0:31:010:31:06

Ledbury Country Market is a co-operative affair,

0:31:060:31:09

run by members and volunteers,

0:31:090:31:11

selling home-made and home-grown produce for the community.

0:31:110:31:15

I'm told it's a bit of a social gathering,

0:31:150:31:17

as well as a great place to pick up something delicious.

0:31:170:31:21

Cecily is in charge of the chutneys and jams.

0:31:210:31:25

Now, my husband loves lemon curd.

0:31:250:31:29

Freshly made yesterday.

0:31:290:31:32

-Oh! By your fair hand?

-Yes.

0:31:320:31:34

Well, I think if we're going to buy lemon curd,

0:31:340:31:36

we should probably go for the big one, shouldn't we?

0:31:360:31:39

-That's right. That one is £2.75.

-Yeah, that one's £2.70...

0:31:390:31:42

Where does it say? Yes, £2.75.

0:31:420:31:44

Everything you buy is written down on a sheet

0:31:440:31:47

you receive at the entrance.

0:31:470:31:48

The total is then added up and you pay the cashier on the door.

0:31:480:31:53

The range of foodstuffs on offer here is astounding.

0:31:530:31:56

And I'm told anyone can be a member of the co-operative

0:31:560:31:59

if they're over 16 and have produce to sell.

0:31:590:32:03

Graham is running the charcuterie stall.

0:32:030:32:05

-Well, hello, sir.

-Hi.

-How are we today?

0:32:050:32:09

-Terrific.

-What are we selling?

0:32:090:32:11

It's a range of charcuterie, produced by me at home.

0:32:110:32:13

About 18 months ago, my wife said to me,

0:32:130:32:15

"Do something now you've retired."

0:32:150:32:17

She wanted me out of the house and what do I end up doing?

0:32:170:32:19

Staying in the house.

0:32:190:32:21

Yes, but if you could tempt her with all of this I bet she's very happy.

0:32:210:32:24

Well, she is, but she occasionally says,

0:32:240:32:26

"Can we have a real meal tonight, not bits, please?"

0:32:260:32:28

What should I be tempted with? There's so much to choose from.

0:32:280:32:30

I think the things which are really nice -

0:32:300:32:32

-in some cases I take something like a pork tender loin...

-Yes?

0:32:320:32:35

..wrap it in some spices.

0:32:350:32:37

It's cooked. It comes out, the cooking's slightly anaemic,

0:32:370:32:40

so it's blowtorched to give it it's lovely brown colour

0:32:400:32:42

and a bit of charring. That actually adds a bit of flavour as well.

0:32:420:32:45

And then I smoke it for 24 hours in the whisky barrel,

0:32:450:32:48

sawdust as well, at the same time as I'm probably doing

0:32:480:32:50

-some of the other products.

-Yes.

0:32:500:32:52

And that's lovely on a sandwich or in a salad.

0:32:520:32:54

Let's take one of those, I think.

0:32:540:32:57

Generally, members don't have their own individual stalls,

0:32:570:33:00

as all produce of the same type is sold together.

0:33:000:33:03

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:33:030:33:04

There's also no minimum quantity required

0:33:040:33:06

and you don't have to sell every week.

0:33:060:33:10

My last stop has to be the cake stand,

0:33:100:33:13

where Angela is only too happy to help.

0:33:130:33:16

-Now, I've gone for the healthy bit.

-Now you want the nice bit.

0:33:170:33:21

I've got my eggs, got my vegetables.

0:33:210:33:24

I need a little something for after, don't I?

0:33:240:33:26

A little indulgence.

0:33:260:33:29

-All locally produced?

-Yeah.

0:33:290:33:31

There's four cooks that all cook and we all bring it together.

0:33:310:33:34

And do you take it in turns to sell it as well?

0:33:340:33:37

-We all stand here and sell.

-Do you? Together?

-Yeah.

0:33:370:33:40

-It really is a community?

-It is, absolutely.

0:33:400:33:43

So we all know what we bake. We all bake different things.

0:33:430:33:47

So if I said to you, a jam tart.

0:33:470:33:50

-Yes.

-Would that go down well?

0:33:500:33:52

Yes. Home-made jam.

0:33:520:33:53

Lovely. OK, so I'll take one of those, please.

0:33:530:33:56

With my basket full of home-grown fare,

0:33:570:34:00

it's been lovely to experience the vibrant community

0:34:000:34:03

right on Danny and Suzanne's doorstep.

0:34:030:34:06

Back at their house,

0:34:090:34:10

I want to find out how their holiday let business has developed.

0:34:100:34:14

And I'm pleased to report that not only have they kept up the existing

0:34:150:34:19

let, but they've successfully added a new holiday lodge on site.

0:34:190:34:24

It's situated where the old Airstream caravan used to be,

0:34:240:34:27

after they decided against bringing their old lodge with them,

0:34:270:34:30

as they had originally planned.

0:34:300:34:33

Danny's promised to show me one further addition,

0:34:330:34:35

that I think is his pride and joy.

0:34:350:34:39

And here we are in the keep, this is our shepherd's hut.

0:34:390:34:43

Oh, this is adorable!

0:34:430:34:47

-I've never been in one before.

-Never?

0:34:470:34:49

And you'd think as I spend most of my life in the country

0:34:490:34:52

that I would have done.

0:34:520:34:53

-But it's bigger than I thought it was going to be.

-Yeah.

0:34:530:34:56

It's a lot more glamorous.

0:34:560:34:58

-I thought it would be basic.

-It's a little TARDIS.

0:34:580:35:00

-A big double bed.

-Yeah, proper double bed size

0:35:000:35:03

and also there's a wardrobe in there.

0:35:030:35:06

And it's all heated.

0:35:060:35:08

So, how do you actually heat it?

0:35:080:35:10

We've got solar panels, actually,

0:35:100:35:12

which is quite a nice green, sort of, credential you can have,

0:35:120:35:16

and also it provides all the power for the hot water, the heating.

0:35:160:35:21

-So you're nice and cosy in here.

-Eco-friendly.

0:35:210:35:24

-Yes, I would say.

-Is it popular with your guests?

0:35:240:35:26

Yes, they like that side of it

0:35:260:35:27

and also the fact that it's nicely tucked into the garden here.

0:35:270:35:31

I'm sure it is. Are they very expensive to buy?

0:35:310:35:34

Yes, it's all dependant on specification, of course.

0:35:340:35:37

You could probably start at a basic price of £15,000 upwards.

0:35:370:35:41

-Right, £15,000?

-Yeah. It's what you want in it, really.

0:35:410:35:44

And do you need planning permission for something like this, or not?

0:35:440:35:48

We've had to have planning permission because we rent it out.

0:35:480:35:51

-Right.

-If this was something that was situated here

0:35:510:35:54

on its own without renting,

0:35:540:35:56

then we wouldn't have to have planning for it.

0:35:560:35:58

I can see people coming. It's like a little hideaway,

0:35:580:36:01

-a little secret.

-Thank you.

0:36:010:36:03

And it has the added extra of this.

0:36:030:36:06

-That's what I want to see.

-Yes. A bit of luxury.

0:36:060:36:09

Absolutely. As much as I love the countryside,

0:36:090:36:11

I don't want to be going out there at 3am in the morning.

0:36:110:36:13

-With your torch.

-Exactly, no.

0:36:130:36:16

What a charming addition to the property.

0:36:160:36:19

On the other side of the garden,

0:36:190:36:21

I'm joining Suzanne to help with feeding time.

0:36:210:36:24

So are all these ducks yours?

0:36:250:36:26

These are our, sort of, wild...

0:36:260:36:28

But they were wild, they're tame now.

0:36:280:36:31

-Look at them!

-I know.

0:36:310:36:32

But we'll feed them first.

0:36:320:36:35

Come on, then, come and have some breakfast.

0:36:350:36:37

There we are.

0:36:370:36:39

And if you'd like to go and let the girls out while they're busy.

0:36:390:36:41

-OK.

-There's your little tin, Nicki, for some eggs.

0:36:410:36:43

-Is this for the eggs?

-And they'll be in the house.

0:36:430:36:45

I hope they haven't let me down.

0:36:450:36:48

Hello, girls.

0:36:480:36:51

Come on, into the pond.

0:36:510:36:52

-Have a nice day in the pond.

-Last, but not least.

0:36:570:37:00

And then look at me, I'm after the bounty.

0:37:000:37:02

-See if you can find some eggs.

-Any in here?

0:37:020:37:05

Oh, look, it's like a little nest in the corner.

0:37:050:37:08

Oh, one, two, three, four.

0:37:090:37:11

-Is that a good day?

-That's a good day.

0:37:110:37:14

Why is there a blue one? What's the difference?

0:37:170:37:19

-The Runner ducks give us blue eggs.

-Yeah.

0:37:190:37:21

And the Cherry Valley and the Khaki Campbells give us white eggs.

0:37:210:37:25

-So you know who's laying which egg?

-Yes.

0:37:250:37:29

-Very clever ducks.

-A good day - four eggs.

0:37:290:37:31

A good day. Thank you.

0:37:310:37:33

Would you like to hold those, then, Nicki?

0:37:330:37:35

-Yeah.

-We'll get Polly up to say hello.

0:37:350:37:37

-How old's Polly?

-This is little Polly.

0:37:370:37:39

-Hello.

-She's probably about four years old now.

0:37:390:37:42

Her mummy left her as a baby, so we brought her up.

0:37:420:37:45

Aww! Are you looking for food, are you?

0:37:450:37:47

-Yes, probably.

-Beautiful plumage.

0:37:470:37:49

-But quite happy for you to pick her up?

-Yeah.

0:37:490:37:51

-Sort of semi-tame.

-So-called wild duck.

-Yes!

0:37:510:37:54

-Not quite that wild.

-No.

-They love you, don't they?

0:37:540:37:57

Look at them. Do they follow you around the garden?

0:37:570:38:00

They do follow me, and if I get this tin...

0:38:000:38:03

-Come on.

-TIN RATTLES

0:38:050:38:09

NICKI LAUGHS

0:38:090:38:12

There you go.

0:38:150:38:17

And it's not just the ducks ruling the roost around here,

0:38:170:38:21

there's Danny's famous robin, too.

0:38:210:38:24

I wonder if I can get his attention.

0:38:240:38:26

-He's talking to you.

-Yeah, he chirps away.

0:38:290:38:32

-Come on.

-He's thinking about it. There you go.

0:38:320:38:36

Look at that.

0:38:400:38:42

He's beautiful.

0:38:420:38:43

You don't get him that close unless there's stuff, basically.

0:38:430:38:47

Look at that.

0:38:470:38:49

That's what this move has all been about, hasn't it?

0:38:490:38:52

Yeah, it's the wildlife and the area.

0:38:520:38:57

-Yeah.

-Oh, Danny that was magical.

0:38:570:39:00

I'd be out here for hours.

0:39:000:39:02

Apparently you are!

0:39:020:39:04

-Supposedly, yeah.

-That's the best muesli, that is.

0:39:040:39:07

-Sorry!

-I think that was meant to be for the guests.

0:39:070:39:10

-You two are like the bird whisperers, aren't you?

-I know.

0:39:100:39:14

We really have got close to nature since we've been here, haven't we?

0:39:140:39:17

I'm showing you this beautiful old pump house

0:39:170:39:20

and thinking about a taste of what life could be like.

0:39:200:39:23

Never, never in a million years did I realise

0:39:230:39:26

you were going to be having all of this as well.

0:39:260:39:29

-I didn't think so either.

-Did you not?

-No, no.

0:39:290:39:32

-Wonderful.

-It's something you...

0:39:320:39:34

It's something you want to come to and you very rarely get it,

0:39:340:39:38

-and we've got it luckily enough, yeah.

-We never want to move.

0:39:380:39:41

-Do you not?

-No.

-No.

0:39:410:39:42

We hate it when we go away, actually.

0:39:420:39:44

We always want to come back, you know?

0:39:440:39:47

Any more than a week and you're just dying to come back again.

0:39:470:39:51

Because we just like the surrounding area.

0:39:510:39:54

We always say, "Why do we want to go abroad and sit by a pool when we've

0:39:540:39:58

"got our own pond here, and we can sit and have a picnic

0:39:580:40:01

"by the pond and watch the ducks, and we're happy?"

0:40:010:40:04

I mean, do you spend hours in your garden?

0:40:040:40:07

He's spent hours training that robin!

0:40:070:40:09

THEY LAUGH

0:40:090:40:11

Our couple really are all about the countryside these days.

0:40:110:40:16

And surrounded as they are by rolling hills and beautiful views,

0:40:160:40:20

it's easy to see why.

0:40:200:40:22

Before I leave, I'm joining them on one of their favourite walks.

0:40:220:40:27

This is such a beautiful spot.

0:40:270:40:29

And this is your normal hike, is it, into Ledbury?

0:40:290:40:31

This is our walk into Ledbury.

0:40:310:40:33

It takes about 30 minutes, and Ledbury's just over there

0:40:330:40:36

-behind you over there, in the valley.

-How lovely.

0:40:360:40:40

It's a lovely walk for the guests, and then they can go and have

0:40:400:40:43

a coffee or something to eat in Ledbury.

0:40:430:40:44

And we can walk into the deer park from our house as well.

0:40:440:40:47

Again, that's about 30 minutes.

0:40:470:40:48

And that's important, isn't it, when you've got guests?

0:40:480:40:51

It is. And if they want a really long walk,

0:40:510:40:53

-they can actually get up on to the Malvern Hills...

-Can they?

0:40:530:40:55

-..from there.

-Stunning.

0:40:550:40:57

The countryside has been good to the two of you, hasn't it?

0:40:570:40:59

-It has.

-It has.

0:40:590:41:02

-Wouldn't change it for the world?

-No.

-No.

-Definitely not.

0:41:020:41:05

Not now. I certainly wouldn't go back.

0:41:050:41:07

Does it make you re-evaluate your lives?

0:41:070:41:10

I mean, obviously you've had a life-changing experience,

0:41:100:41:12

anyway, Danny, but, you know, living here

0:41:120:41:15

and looking at this view, which, as we know,

0:41:150:41:18

changes not every day, it's every hour, isn't it?

0:41:180:41:21

That's what we like about the countryside though, isn't it,

0:41:210:41:24

-the seasons.

-The weather...

-And the changes.

-..the rain.

0:41:240:41:27

It doesn't matter, it's all part of the countryside.

0:41:270:41:29

It's what you get.

0:41:290:41:31

-Yeah.

-We love it.

0:41:310:41:33

If I offered you £1 million to give all this up,

0:41:330:41:37

-would you be tempted?

-No.

0:41:370:41:40

Yeah!

0:41:400:41:42

-No, you wouldn't move.

-No, I wouldn't, no.

0:41:420:41:45

-No.

-No.

0:41:450:41:46

I think, no, money isn't everything.

0:41:460:41:50

I think we've found out that you have to make ends meet,

0:41:500:41:55

and we love being in the country

0:41:550:41:58

because it's what we wanted in the first place.

0:41:580:42:02

You really are the most delightful couple

0:42:020:42:05

-in the most beautiful home with all of this...

-Thank you.

0:42:050:42:09

-..on your doorstep.

-Thank you.

0:42:090:42:11

It's been lovely to see you again and to show you what we've done.

0:42:110:42:14

I'm so pleased we've played a small part in all this happiness.

0:42:140:42:18

-Thank you. BOTH:

-Thank you.

0:42:180:42:20

For Suzanne and Danny,

0:42:230:42:24

their move to Herefordshire represented so much more

0:42:240:42:28

than just swapping one house for another.

0:42:280:42:30

That was just the starting point.

0:42:300:42:33

And it's been so inspiring meeting up with them again and seeing how

0:42:330:42:37

together they are now reaping the rewards of all that hard work.

0:42:370:42:42

And as we've heard, sometimes it's been really tough.

0:42:420:42:46

So I'm delighted they can finally enjoy their new lives

0:42:460:42:50

in the country.

0:42:500:42:53

If you dream of escaping to the country in Wales, Scotland,

0:42:530:42:57

England or Northern Ireland, and would also like our help,

0:42:570:43:00

why not apply online at...

0:43:000:43:03

Nicki Chapman returns to Herefordshire to catch up with her house-hunters, discovering how their plans of running holiday let business have come to fruition and how they've also become a firm port of call for the local wildlife. Whilst in the area, Nicki visits Ledbury Country Market and meets the committed food producers who are behind its ongoing success.