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Today I'm in a part of the UK that's famous for these glorious things, windmills.
The one behind me is the product of one man's unique passion and vision, determined to restore
what has to be one of the most visual icons of the county. But where are we?
Stick around on Escape To The Country, and I'll show you.
Today's couple want to swap the suburbs for a stunning rural outlook.
You can even see the view sitting on the toilet!
There's a lot to like.
I like it! I like this.
-I like this, this is me.
But will any of our properties be their dream retirement country pile?
Oh, Christopher, look! THEY LAUGH
-Is this what you wanted?
-This is beautiful.
As you might have guessed, today I'm in a very windy Norfolk,
where windmills have been grinding corn and pumping water, it's thought, since the 12th century.
The example behind me is Hardley Mill, the product of one man's passion, Peter Grix,
who spent the last 24 years and around £500,000 restoring it.
And it just goes to represent part of the rich,
cultural and architectural heritage that Norfolk has to offer.
Sitting at the top of East Anglia,
Norfolk is England's fourth largest county.
But given that 96% of it is given over to farming, it's also no surprise that it's
one of the least densely-populated, so it's the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of any big city.
Its genteel pace of life makes it a hugely desirable destination for retirees.
Over 25% of residents are aged 65 plus, that's 6% above the norm.
Norfolk's attractions are also plentiful.
90 miles of near untouched coastline, an abundance of historic medieval towns and villages,
and the largest inland navigable wetlands in Europe, the beautiful Norfolk Broads.
Along with windmills, the county's rural traditional architecture
tends to come in the shape of red brick and flint cottages, and farmhouses.
The market towns are full of neo-classical Georgian numbers,
and when you consider that the price of a detached property
is over £150,000 below that of the national average,
it's amazing more of us haven't already set up home here.
Now, if you are thinking of moving to the outer regions of North Norfolk, it's worth remembering
that this area is attracting quite a lot of cash.
Here in King's Lynn, they're planning a £500 million regeneration scheme,
concentrating on brownfield sites, and also building a marina here on the quayside.
If you're tempted to invest in this area, you won't be alone.
And there are plenty of choice properties to take your pick from.
If money's no object, check out this fully restored
18th-century farmhouse in Wolterton.
In exchange for £1.3 million, you'll get seven bedrooms, four reception rooms, the always
sought-after country kitchen and a couple of acres to horse around in.
If you want to shrink that price tag but not the property,
for £680,000, you could be the proud owner of
this seven-bedroom Grade Two listed country house in Horsford.
There's plenty of living space, with three reception rooms,
and accommodation is arranged over three floors.
Finally, how about a conversion?
This 19th-century rendered cottage used to be the old post office and shop.
It now has three bedrooms, a couple of reception rooms and plenty of character, but you can always
put your own stamp on the place, and at 375,000, it's surely something to write home about.
Well, with properties like that on offer, you can see why I love
house hunting up here in Norfolk, and why today's buyers want to move here.
Married for just over a year, Chris and Pat have lived in their
four-bedroom detached house near Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire for a couple of years.
Now that Pat has joined Chris in retirement and no longer
needs to be near her job, they're hankering after a rural lifestyle.
I'm a village girl. I much prefer the country.
I would rather look out my window and see a field,
than see another house.
It'll be wonderful to have the time to enjoy rural life, but do they have a location in mind?
We're looking at Norfolk and Suffolk. Both my daughters live in Suffolk.
It's not an area I know very well, but as we've driven through a few times,
-there are some beautiful villages.
We thought by going further afield, we might get a bit more for our money.
Well, that begs the question, just how much house do they want for their pennies and pounds?
Must have, um, three bedrooms, a double garage or parking space.
-Or some outbuildings to compensate.
-Or some outbuildings, yes.
So that's the practicalities taken care of. Now let's look at the dream.
If we can't have a view across fields,
then a view into an attractive, pretty village would be fine.
Yes, my must-haves would be an en-suite, at least two bathrooms.
I'd quite like a reasonable sized kitchen/diner.
We have a large kitchen/diner at the moment, which is ideal.
It could be a bit smaller than I have already got, but a kitchen/diner is quite nice.
-Yes, a kitchen/diner.
-And storage space. Must have some storage space.
But green-fingered Chris has his mind on outdoor space.
The problem here is that the garden is already completely landscaped, and I'd really like a larger garden
where I can put my own stamp on it and perhaps have enough room to keep a few chickens at the bottom.
To help us narrow down this property search, is there anything we shouldn't consider?
You're not keen on barn conversions.
-I love barn conversions.
-You like barn conversions. I don't like the outside,
they just look like a shed.
Maybe beautiful inside, but I don't like the outside appearance.
Although, having said that, I wouldn't discount a barn conversion...
-If was in the right place.
-If it was in the right place.
-And offered the right amenities.
But they've only been together for a few years.
Will they actually agree when it comes to picking the right house?
With regard to house hunting, Chris and I both like the same things.
I think we're very similar.
We're similar, but you prefer older property.
I, because I've had two new houses, I can see the benefits of everything
working very well and the practicalities of a new house.
Before they can home in on their new country abode, Pat and Chris need to know how much they'll have to spend.
So we've invited a local agent round to value their current house.
It's a super, modern family house.
It's a great location here, close to schools.
We're only 20 minutes from Stansted Airport.
The double garage will go down well with people.
It's got very good parking.
And bearing all those things in mind, I would put the value at £400,000.
So, with that in mind, what's the final spend for Norfolk?
I think our budget for the next property would be £400,000.
Well, I have to confess that as house searches go, Chris and Pat's
does look, on the surface, fairly straight-forward.
Refreshingly so, I might add, because all they're after is three bedrooms,
a house with lots of period charm and character,
but with a few mod-cons thrown in to make life that little bit easier.
And all for £400,000.
Should be all right.
We'll be focusing today's property search
in the villages and countryside between King's Lynn and Norwich.
We've lined up some choice homes and gardens to view, but as always,
I won't reveal the price tags until the end of the tours.
Finally, of course, there's the mystery house,
which will challenge our buyers' wish-list, but will it manage to convert them?
Chris, Pat, very nice to see you in Norfolk.
-Nice to meet you.
-Now, why Norfolk?
It's a gorgeous county, but what's motivating your move here?
Well, we don't need to be in Bishop's Stortford any more.
I'm not working, there's nothing to hold us there.
Both of my daughters live in Suffolk, so we thought Norfolk might be a good compromise.
-Without being on top of them?
-Exactly, yeah. As much as I love them.
Yeah, we're hoping for a bit of space, something where we can look out and not see too many walls.
-Just nice, big open skies that this part of the world is famous for.
-And not too many busy roads.
Now, is this going to be your... sort of ultimate move, is this where you want to be forever?
That's difficult, because you never know, do you, until you're actually in the area you're living in,
whether it is the place you want to be forever and ever, but who knows?
There's a big world out there.
But you have to try and find your ideal place, and I think it's time
to move on from Bishop's Stortford to find our ideal place.
-We don't want to move too often.
-We don't want to move too often.
-Well, I don't mind moving.
-You're a bit of a gypsy, but I'm more stable.
-Let's just confirm the budget. 400,000 or so.
All right, good. Well, we are in quite a nice part of the country.
It does represent pretty good value for money, and as I say, there is some really nice local
vernacular architecture which should give you the pretty little country house you're looking for,
so fingers crossed. Who knows?
It's not raining yet. I think it might do. Let's get a move on, shall we?
We will. Thank you.
So, for a definitive £400,000, we need to find a hassle-free detached home.
Pat likes character and Chris likes modern but that's about as complicated as this wish list gets.
They're after a very manageable three bedrooms, ideally with a couple of ensuites,
a big kitchen diner, at least one reception room, and plenty of storage.
A decent garden where Chris can relax is a must and
he'd rather like to keep
his double garage.
Now, I don't want to tempt fate
but this sounds like a doddle.
How much...looking have you done in terms of properties?
We haven't looked too much in this area.
-No, we haven't.
-Not as far north as this.
I think you need actually visit personally to appreciate where they are and what they actually look like.
Absolutely right. It's very easy to dismiss things on paper.
One of the joys of Escape To The Country is that we take you
to things that sometimes you may not have considered, but on closer inspection, as you say,
they make you think twice and think, actually, maybe that's going to work.
It's the slow paced country life Chris and Pat are after.
So, I think we'll start today's search in the very aptly-named Little Snoring.
This pretty north Norfolk village is home to St Andrew's, the Grade One listed Saxon church,
and one of the 124 round tower churches found throughout the county.
For more secular needs, there's a post office and pub
so Chris and Pat shouldn't have problems getting to know their potential new neighbours.
Well, Pat and Chris, let's start with this one, shall we? What do you think?
I'm liking the outside of it so far.
It's got roses up the window, Chris.
He doesn't like the thorns. THEY LAUGH
-I don't mind the roses.
-You can be the gardener.
-Yeah. That's good.
-As you can see, a little lane here.
-It's not the A120, that's the good news.
-That is good news, yes.
You will get a little bit of traffic but nothing untoward.
-It's only just been fully renovated in the last two years.
-And partly extended as well.
-I like it.
-Is this the sort of thing you had in mind?
-Very nice. Yes.
Let's see what you think of the inside.
This cottage has the rural aspect they're looking for and I'm hoping its mix of character,
mod cons and almost TARDIS-like dimensions will be the perfect combination for them.
Come on in. What do you think of this, then?
-Well, I like it.
-Yes, it's very nice.
It's a nice size, isn't it?
-Nice size without being too big. It's cosy.
-I like it.
-Of course, you've got the dining area through here.
-I like this area here.
-Yes. I like.
-Good. All right.
So, nice bit of cosy living here.
But you have got a lot more space through there.
Go on, Pat. Through you go.
I like this. I like this. This is me.
-Very nice. These are my colours. I love this green.
-Very nice, aren't they?
It's a good size. Very good size.
-I like it.
Good. As you can see through here, your main living space.
Have a look at this. This is, I think, really impressive.
This was an old forge once upon a time.
-It's a lovely size. This is a family room, isn't it?
-Certainly is, yeah.
-This is a family room.
OK. In terms of working and studying and that sort of stuff,
-do you ever need a study or a space for that sort of thing?
-Yes. We have got an office.
Computer room, files and all the usual junk. Golf trophies.
Golf trophies? How many trophies have you got?
-Will they all fit in here? This is quite nice.
-Have a look at this.
-This is a good area.
-This is a good area.
This was a stable. There was a stable door there, apparently.
-But a couple of years ago, horses coming into here and then being shod next door.
-Yes, very nice.
-It would make an ideal office space, wouldn't it?
-So, how are we doing, then, so far?
I think we've got to keep something in reserve.
I think eight out of ten so far.
-Eight? Eight's good.
-Keep some in reserve.
At this stage, I'll take eight.
-Very nice. I'm very impressed with it.
-I am very impressed.
'Well, that's thrown down the gauntlet.
'Let's see if we can get a perfect ten upstairs.'
Now, we've got three bedrooms to choose from up here.
There's a very nice twin there.
But we'll start in the this one.
This is a good-sized room. This is a lovely-sized room.
-Is this the master bedroom?
-It's not. It would make a very nice master bedroom.
Especially with the views. Amazing.
Yes. I think your guests would love it in here.
I'd love it in here! THEY LAUGH
If you want it, you can have it, you know. You've got a choice.
I think you'll prefer this one.
This is the master.
-Come on in.
-Yes, I can see why this is the master.
-Very nice, yes.
-I like this.
-Double doors out.
Even upstairs, little Juliet balcony.
The only thing it's lacking is wardrobe space.
-In this room.
Given it is only you two here in the house for most of the time, you could use next door.
We could utilise one of the other bedrooms as a dressing room.
No. We'll utilise all the bedrooms.
Well, to house your clothes. Fine, OK.
Now, we don't officially have an en suite, or, indeed, a family bathroom.
We've got a mixture of the two which is through there. Have a look at that.
-Duck your head.
-I like this bathroom.
It's very good, isn't it?
-Very nicely done.
-So, downstairs you said eight out of ten.
-Eight out of ten.
Upstairs, I would give it seven out of ten purely because of the lack of wardrobe space. But that's all.
So, combined? Overall figure?
Seven and a half.
You've got to allow for improvement.
So, it's all down to the garden to bring those scores back on line.
With around a quarter of an acre, there is plenty of room for relaxing and landscaping.
But it is missing one vital component.
-One thing it doesn't have is a garage.
-We did notice that, didn't we?
But, Chris, I have noticed a Wendy house so you could always use the Wendy house. Instead of the garage.
I can't park my car in a Wendy house.
Get a smaller car. I mean, practically speaking,
there is space into which you could incorporate one if you so wished.
That would be my sense.
Let's have a think, then, about how much you think this might set you back.
Right, because it's been so well done, I think it's at the top of our budget, possibly just slightly over.
So I'm going to say 409.
OK. Interesting number there.
-Chris, what do you make of it?
That's a strange figure.
I think it's just under our price.
I think 395.
Well, you are right, sir.
-Pretty much. It's a fiver short of 400,000.
I think quite an interesting proposition for what you're after.
-I think so.
-Good. All right, then.
Well, go and have a good old explore and I'll catch up with you a little bit later.
Well, I think we're off to a cracking start.
A smidge under their £400,000 budget, this former forge offers up
character, charm, mod cons and plenty of space.
It comes with two reception rooms, a brand-new kitchen, a study and three bedrooms.
There's no double garage at the moment
but there's plenty of space for one
in the quarter of an acre plot.
This room, I think, is really versatile.
-You could do anything with this room.
-I like the house. I was impressed.
It's much larger than it first appears when you come through the front door.
On the downside, there is no garage.
I have a workshop in my garage so I would lose that.
-But there's plenty of pluses.
-I love this house.
This is just my style of house.
The kitchen particularly. It's brilliant. I love it.
Out you come.
I'm going to drag you away from here.
Lovely as it is. I get the sense this could be a contender.
Definitely a contender for me.
Yeah, certainly nice. Very impressed with the first one.
It's my style.
OK. Keep it on the list, then.
North Norfolk is uncharted territory for both Chris and Pat,
so earlier in the week, they decided to brave the weather
and headed to King's Lynn to do some exploring
where ex-Londoner Richard Morley was on hand to show them around.
-Welcome to King's Lynn.
Sitting on the Great Ouse River where it flows into the Wash,
King's Lynn saw it prosper from the Middle Ages onwards
as one of the busiest ports in the British Isles,
and much of the centre of town was built by wealthy merchants.
Today, it's a conservation area, positively dripping with history.
How did the town get its name, King's Lynn?
Well, it was originally called Bishop's Lynn, Lynn Episcopi,
because it was founded by the Bishop of Norwich.
but under Henry VIII, it changed its name to King's Lynn
because the council then were tired of paying taxes to the bishop.
They wanted them for themselves, so the king gave permission.
And all during that time, almost from the very earliest times,
we've traded with Europe, and the Hanse League from the Baltic
were trading here in King's Lynn.
By 1475, they were allowed, to have their own warehouse
which we're standing in front of,
and this, I have to say, is the only one left in the country.
The others in Hull and Yarmouth and Ipswich and London
have been destroyed at various times.
So we are left with a unique building.
The German Hanseatic League dominated trade in medieval Europe.
Whilst King's Lynn imported herring, timber and pitch,
it sent the Hanse merchants off with grain, wool and cloth.
Today, King's Lynn is the only member of the New Hanseatic League.
But for more relaxing ventures, just a few miles along the coast
is Old Hunstanton Beach.
Well, welcome to sunny Hunny, or should I should not-so-sunny Hunny?
This is the only place on the east coast
where you can actually see the sun setting in the west
over the horizon there. Behind us here are extraordinary cliffs
which have been laid down, the orange part,
about 110,000 years ago.
And the white part above it, about 95,000 years ago.
-It is quite extraordinary.
-Look at the divide. Amazing.
Yes, it's very clear. It's very unusual
and very specific to this part of the country.
Even in the rain, I think Chris and Pat can appreciate
the highlights of Norfolk,
but I do hope the sun comes our for the rest of our house-hunting.
For our next offering, we're heading to Sculthorpe,
which, I have to say, is about as rural as villages come.
At its heart is the medieval church and common,
but with a couple of pubs and a busy bowls club,
I think Pat and Chris will find plenty to keep them occupied.
So how about two mid-19th century cottages rolled into one?
That looks interesting.
-It does, yes.
-I like the look of that.
-So what's grabbing your attention there?
-Just the whole thing, really.
It just looks typical Norfolk country. Yeah.
Yeah. Looks nicely balanced.
-Originally built about 1850-odd.
And then converted about 1980, but since that conversion,
the current owner has poured his heart and soul into it
and created something that I think is a really clever way of mixing
these two buildings together.
Yes. I can't wait to get inside now.
Yeah? Come on, then.
Once again, this property combines period features
with the comforts of modern living.
It's a formula that worked with our first house, so I'm sticking with it.
-Now, how about this one?
-Do you like?
-Yes, I do like.
-It's quite sweet, isn't it?
-It is, yes.
Obviously, this is the stairway.
There would have been two of those. One is gone
because the whole thing has been amalgamated
so you end up with one of everything.
In terms of the cottagey feel, is this what you had in the mind?
It is, yes. It's ideal.
It's perfect for my style of kitchen. Yes, I love it. I love the dresser.
-Yeah. Very comfortable with this.
-Nice, yes. It all fits in nicely with the property.
-You know, the style.
-Right, then. Let's continue.
Let's see what you think about this.
Now, as well as the dining end in the kitchen-diner,
-you've got this fully dedicated dining space here.
You get a real sense of how these buildings have been amalgamated.
Obviously, that has been knocked through there
to give you this big, open living space.
Um, you know, but I think quite cleverly done, really.
It is, very nicely done. It's a good space for a dining area, isn't it?
But it leads on to this. This is the main living space, I suppose
that we've got for you. With that, which is rather attractive.
-The log burner.
The log burner. Yeah.
Have you got one of these at the moment?
We haven't, no. We've only got a gas fire.
-We don't have chimneys in our house.
-Ah, right. OK.
So that's a bit of a novelty, isn't it?
In terms of space, is this grabbing you at all?
I like the space. I think I'd prefer it if the sitting area was slightly bigger.
I like the room, though. I do like the room.
'Pat seems a bit disappointed.
'Let's see if we can bring that smile back to her face upstairs.'
-Right. Now, then. Three bedrooms for you up here.
Would have had four, but one's become a bathroom. That's in here.
There we are.
-Lovely bathroom. Roll-top bath.
I mean, this is the only bathroom up here.
-OK, so none of the bedrooms have got en suite as such.
But whether that's a problem or not, I don't know.
-Not a huge issue.
-No. It's convenient to have two, but the guests will just have to wait, won't they?
'Well, they'll have nice rooms to bide their time in.
'There are two good-sized doubles.'
But we'll deal with this one, because I think this would be your master.
Oh, this seems to be a good size, actually, doesn't it?
There isn't any storage in this particular room.
Not in this one, but there is next door,
-so you could make the master that one if you wanted to.
-You'll see what I mean. Have a look at this.
-There we are.
All built in for you right there.
Ah, yes. That's better. Plenty of storage there.
And a little bit here, and also a little vanity area here too,
so, you know, guests would have access to that
just for brushing teeth if you don't want to worry about the bathroom.
There is one more option, though.
They could knock through to create one huge master bedroom up here
with all the storage they want, because the cottage also comes with a separate annex.
Perfect for guests.
Now, what would you do with all this?
-Oh, my goodness!
-Not bad, eh?
-It's very good. It's excellent!
Through there, big double shower, en suite and so forth.
They've got it set up as a guest wing, if you like,
but this would make a great study.
Er, no, I think I'd have to keep it as a guest wing, definitely.
Certainly with the bathroom here, definitely a guest room.
-It's excellent. Brilliant.
-Convert the small bedroom to a study.
To the office. Yeah. Yeah.
And then when we're old and decrepit and we can't manage the stairs, perfect - bedroom en-suite!
-Speak for yourself!
I get the feeling that's going to be a long way off,
and besides, Chris will spend all of his time in the ample third-of-an-acre garden,
which stretches to the side of the house, providing what could be an ideal space for a garage.
I mean, this is your domain, Chris. What do you think?
Yeah, it's nice, it's interesting.
There's a lot of different parts to it.
It's taken me a little while
to take it all in and see exactly what's here.
So, house, annexe, garden -
what's it all worth, I wonder? Chris?
With the annexe, which was a surprise,
and all the rest of it, the garden, I'm going to say of £405,000.
I would say probably a little bit more at £410,000.
OK, would it be of interest if it was £410,000?
-Er, we'd think about it, yeah.
-Yeah, I think...yes, £410,000.
So you'd think about it at £410,000,
but you'd probably really consider it if it was £379,950.
-Wow! That makes it a lot more interesting, doesn't it?
-It does, yeah!
-Doesn't it just?!
Go and explore and I will catch up with you later.
Celebrate the news! Off you go.
Well, that certainly came as a pleasant surprise.
With a price tag of £379,950,
this Victorian cottage is a comfortable £20,000 under budget.
So plenty of spare change for Chris to build his garage.
In terms of living space, it has a big kitchen breakfast-room,
an open-plan living room/diner, three bedrooms
and an impressive annexe.
The icing on the cake is the one third-of-an-acre garden,
which I think puts this place firmly in the running.
The garden looks interesting.
It ticks the boxes, as they say,
and it's certainly a contender at the price.
-Plenty of work surface.
-Yes, and there's a kitchen/diner as well,
so you wouldn't have to encroach on the dining area too much.
I really like this house. I thought it had been really sympathetically done.
I thought the sitting room could have been a bit bigger and I was slightly disappointed
that there wasn't a utility room.
But I was very impressed with the annexe,
it makes an ideal guest suite.
So any bedrooms in the main part of the house, you can do what you like with.
-At last! All done?
-A nice one to see, I think.
Plenty of food for thought, but there's a lot more that way.
OK, thank you.
Now, just name one thing associated with Norfolk and most of us, I'm sure, will say windmills.
Home to more of these early eco builds than any other county in the UK,
for over 800 years they've been part of the landscape.
Back in the 19th century, there were around 600 mills.
Today, there are just 200 in varying conditions.
I'm meeting up with former architect, Peter Griggs,
a man who knows a thing or two about windmill restoration having spent 25 years working here at Hardley Mill.
Peter, this is a wonderful thing. What on earth persuaded you to bring it back to life?
Oh, it's been a lifelong sort of dream really.
Being born and bred here, they were part of the landscape, really, and I wanted to have a piece of it, really.
And do something for them.
Now, we all are familiar with the sight of a windmill and most of us
will associate them with grinding corn.
But this is the first one I've seen that's actually a pumping mill.
-What's the idea behind it?
-Well, very simple, really.
Just to drain the marsh land and pump the water out over the river so
that eventually you can bring cattle on to graze and put the crops down.
That's the objective.
Lifted a huge amount of water. This one, 12 tons of water a minute.
6,000 gallons in a good breeze, we are told.
This is quite a special day for you, isn't it?
It's the first time the sails, any sails, have been on this and turning in 62 years.
It was tail winded, I think, in 1947.
So, it's tremendous.
Well, it's a good job it's windy, isn't it?
-Yes, it is. And sunny.
We've got to find out how to control it now. THEY LAUGH
Built in 1874, the mill operated right up until 1947 when it was
abandoned by the drainage board in favour of an electric pump.
However, in 1991, Peter leased the windmill and with help from volunteers and funding,
he is slowly breathing life back into this beautiful building.
Wow! Look at that!
This is where the action is.
It is remarkable. What I'm struck by is the fact that you had to reconstruct this entire top.
I mean, that must have been a real headache.
It had to be fairly accurate, because it has to be accurate to engage with the rollers.
The rollers have to point inwards.
So the rollers here are supporting.
We had to build the cap upside down.
So the whole idea is that it can turn to wherever the wind is.
It must every moment of the day when the wind changes.
If it doesn't, it could be lost.
Now, I know seeing the sails turn is a big day for you,
but coming up here and hearing it, this is the beating heart of the mill.
It is. And I am hearing it for the first time. It's very exciting.
-Really exciting. Brilliant.
-Do you want to come up to the last level?
This is going to be quite a squeeze, isn't it?
Whilst no two windmills are the same, a feature particular to Norfolk is the sailboat cap,
called so because it resembles the hull of an upturned boat.
And seeing the whole mechanism in action really allows you to
appreciate these masterpieces of simple engineering.
Well, I have to say this has to be the most exciting bit of the tour.
-It's wonderful to be up here.
-Hats off to you, Peter. Congratulations.
-And the team!
And the team, but this has been a wonderful project to undertake, and it is lovely to see the landscape
now with a working windmill in it, turning round as it would have done over the centuries. Well done.
-Well, thanks a lot.
With the sun setting over beautiful north Norfolk, our couple get a chance
to sit down and take stock of their first day of house-hunting.
I thought it went pretty well.
I was quite impressed with the farmhouse.
That conversion, I thought they did that very well.
I loved it. I loved the house.
I thought it was brilliant and I thought it was very well done.
The kitchen was my style of kitchen.
The way that it flowed, I really liked that.
The downside, I felt, was the fact that the property
was very close the road,
which meant there was no facilities for parking in front of the house.
-And no garage at all.
-No garage, but I did like the house.
Bags of room.
-What about the cottage?
-The cottage... I liked the cottage.
The kitchen/diner was quite a good space, and the sitting-room area,
I felt could have been a bit bigger.
But what swung it for me was the annexe.
-It was a nice separate part with its own bathroom which worked very well.
I thought the garden was nice... Again, it didn't have a garage,
which was a bit of a negative. But there was quite a lot of parking space either side of the property.
Yeah, lots of parking space with that one.
-It looks promising, doesn't it?
-It does, yes.
-I must agree.
Retirees Pat and Chris have £400,000 to spend in Norfolk
on a low maintenance character home with a must-have double garage.
We've had good marks so far, but can we hit the jackpot?
-Ten out of ten!
-Ten out of ten! Hooray!
Or will the mystery house be the one to beat?
As you can see, it's a lovely, fresh morning here in Norfolk,
and a glorious blue East Anglian sky
greets our final day of house-hunting.
So far, Pat and Chris have been impressed by what they've seen,
but they haven't quite fallen in love with anything just yet.
So, it's all to play for today. Two more to come, including, of course, the mystery house,
which I think Chris could find quite interesting.
Our first property of the day is situated
close to Great Ellingham in central Norfolk.
So, we are moving closer to Pat's daughters and grandchildren who aren't too far away in Suffolk.
It's a small community village that has everything you would expect to find - a medieval church, a pub,
a post office, stores and thatched cottages.
But before Chris and Pat can get to grips with village life,
let's see what they make of today's first offering.
This is a very attractive looking house.
-Yes, a pretty house.
-It is, yes.
Now, effectively, it's a new build.
-That end, not that you'd know, used to be a bungalow.
So the whole thing has been completely knocked about,
and changed to give you quite an impressive brand new property.
-Very much in the local style.
-It looks good from the outside.
-Yes, it certainly does.
-And, Chris, it has got a garage.
The way new builds go around here, they do tend to be quite good at reflecting some of the older
characteristics of the vernacular architecture, and this is no exception.
We are messing around with our tried and tested
character home/contemporary finish formula here.
As this property is a contemporary home with a character,
but I think the current vendors have done an excellent job.
However, will Pat and Chris agree?
That, of course, is the all-important question.
Right. Is this what you imagined, I wonder?
No, it isn't.
No, not at all. So this is just a reception area?
Yeah, exactly that. A nice wood burner in the corner.
-I like it.
As a reception hall, it's wonderful.
You're liking this. Right, come on through here.
There we are. This I think is you, guys, actually.
-Wow! Yeah, I love it.
-Yes, it's very nice.
It's a brilliant sized room.
-I think it's... I think it's...
If you could have drawn up your ideal home, would this have been it?
-Well, it's starting to be that way, I think. Yes.
-Yes, certainly is.
-Right, let's go and find the kitchen. Come with me.
Oh, Christopher, look! THEY LAUGH
Is this what you wanted?
-This is beautiful.
It is absolutely beautiful. Lovely colour.
And it's all brand-new.
-And it's light as well.
You've got windows everywhere.
It's wonderful. I am speechless. THEY LAUGH
Speechless is OK if it's a good thing.
-Very nice, very nice.
-Through that door there is also a separate utility
and a back door to the garden, so all that can happen out there. A bit of a boot room.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
I don't know what to say.
Well, as long as you like it, that's the main thing.
-Well, there's no doubt that Pat is falling for the charms of this house.
I think we may have found the perfect mix.
Also on the ground floor is a nice, large study.
The upstairs is equally spacious with three bedrooms in all,
two good-sized double guest rooms, and a rather resplendent shower room.
What a lovely shower room.
-It's great, isn't it?
-It's beautiful. I even love the colour.
Quite bold, but I think it really works, I have to say.
I wouldn't change it.
-I wouldn't change it at all. The shower is beautiful.
-Lovely size shower.
-Nice and big.
You can even see the view sitting on the toilet. THEY LAUGH
You can sit on the loo and see the view!
-You're not going to spend a lot of time in here, though.
-I might have to spend more time.
-It's a good point.
I didn't know it was going to be a selling point, but if that's what you want to do, Pat, sit away.
But this, really, is for your guests.
It is they who are going to enjoy the view because you have your own one next door
in the master bedroom. Come and look at this.
Yes, I love it. I love it.
A good-sized room, too.
Good-sized room, great size en suite in there.
Oh, wow, look. THEY LAUGH
We've got another wow. Look at this.
Another wow. Why are we wowing this time?
-Another loo with a view.
-It's great, isn't it?
Not many people come on this show asking for a loo with a view, but I'm glad you've got it.
-Very nicely done.
Nine and nine tenths so far.
Nine and nine tenths?
-So near, yet so far.
Amazing. I love it. I love it.
Good. Right, I'm going to try and squeeze ten out of ten out of you. Let's go to the garden.
-Well, Pat might be playing hardball with her fractions, but I think she's already sold.
It's time to focus on Chris's criteria, and out in the garden
is something that's strictly his domain.
OK, Chris, is this what you had in mind?
Yeah. It is. Lovely, huge.
-Not bad, is it?
I suspect there isn't a huge amount of loft space in the house itself.
But if you boarded this out it would probably be easier to have access to this than the house roof.
Huge potential. Very nicely done. Good. Super.
-You might be persuaded towards barn conversions, you never know.
Well, I don't think we'll go that far!
-OK. Let's see what we can do with a garden. Come and have a look at this.
Right. Now, I'm curious to know what you would do with this plot to make it your own?
Cos it is crying out for some attention. It's the only bit of this property
that hasn't really been fully done.
Yes, you need to think about the design. It's not something you should just jump in and
start hacking around, but there's loads of space,
and you could make this a really pretty garden.
The question is, how much is it going to set you back, I wonder?
It's going to be over budget. 425.
-Yeah, I think it will be at least that, probably...430.
It's on the market for 395.
-Ten out of ten!
-Ten out of ten! Hooray!
Well, a well-deserved ten out of ten, I think you'll agree.
I love it. I love it.
-I am delighted.
-Off you go, go and revel in this ten out of ten.
Enjoy. I have to confess there are many days when I'm out house-hunting when it is a little bit frustrating,
but I have to say, in the words of the film, I do love it when a plan comes together.
Under budget at £395,000, this modern character home
is obviously pushing all the right buttons.
It has Pat's country kitchen, three bedrooms with one en suite,
and we finally managed
to find Chris's double garage.
I think if it was up to Pat,
they would be signing
on the dotted line already.
But does Chris feel the same?
I love the house. It seems to have everything we are looking for.
It has a large garage, which is a big plus.
The garden itself has got loads of scope, so it seems to fit the bill.
No formal dining area unless we used the study.
But there's plenty of room for a table in here. I absolutely love this house.
Everything about is just perfect for me. The room sizes are brilliant.
The kitchen is amazing.
I don't think I could better it at all. I love it.
Cut in a few beds and think about the design.
Big plans afoot then? I've been looking for you two everywhere.
Yeah, we were just discussing what we could do with the garden, and
it's quite an exciting prospect, the more I look at it.
But don't make your minds up just yet, because we have got plenty more to show you with the mystery house.
Well, it looks like we may have found Pat her dream country kitchen,
so how about reintroduce her and Chris to a traditional country kitchen persuit? Jam-making.
Catriona Dickie has been running her own preserves business for the last year
and has been nominated for a Made In Britain food award.
-I hear you want to make jam.
-No, we want to TRY to make jam.
Well, let me show you what it's all about.
Food preserving and jam-making has seen a huge resurgence over the last year
with pick-your-own-fruit farmers reporting
sales increases of up to 20%
and one leading homewares retailer seeing an increase of 30% on their jam-making products.
So, this is my kitchen.
This is where I make all my jam.
So, to make some strawberry jam what we need are some strawberries,
right, fresh from the plant,
some sugar and some lemon juice.
Why would you use lemons?
Strawberries are not very high, naturally high in pectin
and lemons reduce the acidity of the jam in general
and they help it to set.
So, I mean, a traditional strawberry jam
is equal parts fruit, strawberries,
sugar and the juice of lemons.
First things first, we need to cook the strawberries.
I've got 400g of strawberries here, so I'll just pop them in
pop them on to the simmering plate.
The fruit and water need to be simmered
until the excess water evaporates and the fruit has softened
then 400g of sugar can be added.
Stir thoroughly and turn up the heat.
I'm going to move this from the simmering plate to the hot plate
and let it start boiling properly
and what you want is you normally boil jam solidly
for about four minutes until it reaches a good rolling boil.
Nice, big bubbles, it's quite volcanic, isn't it?
And the other way you can tell it's at the right temperature
is using a jam thermometer.
So, I'll just pop this in.
As you can see from here, the correct temperature to make sure
-you're going to have a good-setting jam is 120 degrees Celsius.
Once the jam reaches the optimum temperature,
the lemon juice is added, stirred and left to sit for a few minutes.
So, one of the best ways to see whether the jam
is actually going to set or not is the spoon test.
Take a clean, cold spoon and you coat the back of it with the jam.
You see that?
And if the jam doesn't dribble very much
and it's kind of stuck to the back of the spoon
then that means that this jam is going to set.
That's lovely. I didn't realise it was so easy.
It is easy, it's really simple.
Thank you very much for that.
Now, for all of us that work on Escape To The Country,
picking the mystery house can be one of the most exciting parts of the process.
You may recall that when we started our house search, Chris said that one of the things
he was a bit unsure about were barn conversions,
but we are in Norfolk, and I have to say, I love them.
Right, Pat and Chris, it is mystery house time.
What do you think we have got in mind for you?
I think a barn conversion.
Yeah, well, yes.
Knowing that Chris isn't keen. THEY LAUGH
Well, I think whatever it is, it is going to have a long way to go
-to beat your reaction to our last property.
I think it will have to be 101% to beat the last property.
My word, that really is a challenge.
Let's hope the mystery house can rise to the occasion.
It's situated on the outskirts of Wymondham,
which, being in the south of the county,
is that much nearer Suffolk and Pat's daughter and grandkids.
This small market town, like many others in East Anglia,
prospered as a medieval wool town up until the 1800s.
But with the collapse of the wool industry, Wymondham became a virtual back water
escaping Victorian modernisation, which means that today,
apart from a few new pubs, shops and eateries, the town looks pretty much as it would have done in the 1700s.
-It's a barn conversion.
It is a barn conversion. We couldn't come to Norfolk without showing you one, to be fair.
And as you said, you've never been in one.
-We thought it was only right that you should have the full experience.
-Right. Thank you very much.
It is a really, really lovely one, to be honest.
You don't get all of it. There are three all together.
That is one there with the brick frontage. This one over here, the low white building,
they are the neighbours, but you are the bit in the middle with the great big black timber boards.
That's the best bit, by the look of it. I think that is a better-looking part of it.
-It's certainly the most imposing part.
-I think so.
-I agree, yes.
It looks good from the outside, anyway. I think we might be able to persuade you, Christopher.
Yes, I am to be persuaded yet.
Shall we try?
Although this traditional 18th century barn is attached, it's certainly not lacking in space,
and it even has Chris's sought-after double garage, so let's see if we can convert him?
Grab the door, Chris.
Come on in, Pat.
Now then, Chris, what do you think inside?
It is interesting, isn't it?
We've got, I suppose in some ways, the most interesting bit of this whole set of outbuildings,
because we have the old carriage barn, or carriageway, that runs through the middle of the barn.
Imagine big barn doors at that end, big doors at that end, and classically you end up with
these conversions with these great big glazed areas making use of the space.
Yeah, lots of light.
-Plenty of light.
-I think I would have preferred it a bit bigger.
But that's just me being fussy.
Glad you said it.
-It's quite big.
-You think it's adequate?
It's quite a big space, actually. That is quite a big space.
Well, that is a turn-up for the books.
Chris stepping in to defend a barn conversion.
Hopefully the kitchen will also measure up to size. Here we are.
Right, that's a good size.
Essentially you've almost got two kitchens, really.
-Plenty of work surface here.
The barn also has a separate dining room on this floor, a guest bathroom and the first of four bedrooms.
Now, for me, this is where these buildings really do come into their own.
You don't often get the chance to look down on your living room.
-That's incredible, isn't it? Look at that.
-Let me have a look.
Oh, yes, I have to say, that's quite an unusual view.
It's a very unusual view.
It's amazing what they do with just a shell.
Yeah, the conversion is lovely. They have made a really nice job of it.
Right. Let's continue. Come through here.
So this is the master.
-Right, this is a good-sized room.
-Not bad, is it?
-Bags of head room.
-I can't actually see any storage or wardrobe space.
No. That's the only thing.
But, of course, there is some other space in the other bedrooms,
so that's quite handy. But they have managed to squeeze in an en suite. Have a look at that in there.
-That's a good size.
Oh, yeah, that's fine. That's more than adequate, isn't it?
-That's a good size.
-Nice size, yes.
I think this barn deserves higher praise than that.
It's a cracker of a conversion with very versatile space,
including another two double bedrooms which they could use however they wanted.
I thought the character features would be charming the socks off Pat,
but it looks like the garden has really got some work to do.
OK, let's finish off out here then with the garden.
A bit disappointing.
Yes, and because it's overlooked either side
it's not a place I think you'd come and sit out particularly.
OK, well let's have a think about what you feel the mystery house may be worth. I'm dying to know.
I think, probably, 350.
-Yes, I think that would be a reasonable price, 350.
You may be surprised to learn that it's actually on the market for 375.
-Oh, right. But your offers probably suggests it may not be the one for you.
But either way, I'm still desperate to convince you that there is some merit in barn conversions, Chris.
-Go and have another look around and I will catch up with you later.
-Off you go.
Well, the mystery house is always a gamble, but sadly on this occasion it has not paid off.
However, at £375,000, I'm sure there are plenty of barn conversion enthusiasts out there
who would be desperate to snap this up.
Although its attached, it does offer 2,000 square feet of living space with a kitchen/breakfast-room,
two reception rooms and four bedrooms,
but it seems neither the beautiful rural views
nor the double garage are enough
to convince Chris and Pat
that this could be a contender.
It's not really for me.
No, it hasn't changed your mind.
It's opened my eyes to what you can do with converting a barn,
-but it doesn't really appeal to me. It's not my...
Although it's a huge building and there is acres of space, it's not necessarily usable space.
It's just space.
You won't want to fill this bath up every time you wanted a bath.
-It would be a once a week job, wouldn't it? THEY LAUGH
Although this one is very well done,
I do feel that many of the rooms are just a little bit too small for me.
Right then, that's it. Mystery house is done.
House tours are now officially over.
-I really think we've given you plenty to think about over the last few days.
-I think we should get you somewhere where you can
quietly mull it all over and I will see if you've made a decision.
Well, now my favourite part of the show has arrived.
It is, of course, decision time for Chris and Pat.
Have we managed to find them their dream escape in Norfolk?
Let's go and ask them.
Well, I don't know about you two, but I'm pretty worn out.
-How are you feeling?
Let's take a trip down memory lane and
think about where it all started, with that quite small farmhouse
with the old forge attached that has now been completely renovated
to a very high-spec, I think you'll agree.
-It was very well done, wasn't it?
And the kitchen and sitting-room area I thought was wonderful.
It worked really, really well.
What about the garden there, Chris?
You could have done quite a lot with it but not completely what I had in mind, really.
What about those two cottages that had been welded together
to produce an interesting family home with the annex attached.
-What about those?
-That was different, wasn't it?
I expected it to be bigger inside.
The sitting room, I expected to be bigger
once I got inside than it actually was, but I think the annex,
with the guest suite, actually made up for that.
I suppose a little drawback to me was the fact that
there wasn't a garage, although there was parking.
-But nicely finished.
-It was nicely finished. Very well done, yeah.
Then we let you rest a while and go to bed, and we woke you up for our final day's house hunt,
and we started off with what was to all intents and purposes a new-build,
albeit on the side of an old bungalow.
But I think you rather liked that one.
-We did, yes.
-Yes, that ticked all the boxes.
-It was a lovely house, yes.
-We couldn't find fault with it, really.
Just everything we saw, we liked.
-A huge garage.
-I knew you'd like that.
My fear was that we'd rather shot our bolt with that one and that the mystery house
would have a lot to compete with.
I know, Chris, in the past you have been a bit reticent over barn conversions,
but have we changed your mind, I wonder?
I was impressed once I had gone inside,
but it had a lot to live up to.
And, as far as I'm concerned, it didn't quite do it.
-Nor me. I like barn conversions,
but having seen the house prior to that, no contest.
My sense is, that having given that lovely new build ten out of ten,
that is probably where your heart now resides.
It does for me.
-It does for me.
So what happens next?
Try and secure a sale on our property.
Yes, which we hope to do fairly shortly, and we'd like to try and progress on that property if we can.
-It's got you written all over it and
-you would be so happy there, I'm sure.
-I think we would.
Thank you very much for finding it.
-Well, thank you for being on the show, and I'm glad we were able to help.
Excellent. Thank you very much.
Look at that, the sun melting over the East Anglian countryside.
I love it here, not just because this is where I grew up, but because
it has such a fantastic range of properties on offer.
When we started this search, I think it was a fairly straightforward one.
We were not looking for acres and outbuildings.
What Pat and Chris wanted was a nice, characterful cottage in the heart of Norfolk.
And that, I am very pleased to say, I think is what we've managed to find them.
A nice, simple outcome. I'll see you next time.
And I'm delighted to report that Pat and Chris have officially had their offer accepted on
the modern character house and are hoping for a speedy sale on their Hertfordshire house.
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