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Welcome to Escape To The Country.
Today I'm standing on top of England's tallest cathedral,
and having climbed the 332 steps to get here, trust me, it certainly feels like it.
It's also home to what is thought to be the world's oldest working clock.
Where am I? Stick around for just a few more seconds and I'll tell you.
Today we're helping a couple swap the suburbs for a taste of the good life.
This is the produce of your very own vineyard.
Wow, now that's different!
Our properties are a real revelation.
And the mystery house is set to impress.
Oh, my goodness. That is massive!
If you know your historic buildings, you'll have recognised
the great spire of Salisbury Cathedral stretching up behind me, here in the heart of Wiltshire.
Arguably one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical gothic architecture anywhere
in the land, but its location was something of a matter of chance.
Legend has it that back in 1219, an arrow was shot from a nearby hill
and where it landed would be the site of the new building.
Given that Salisbury is surrounded by marshy wetlands, odds are that if this building
had been built 100m in any other direction, it wouldn't be here today.
So it just goes to prove that even back in medieval England, location was everything.
Gateway to the West Country, Wiltshire is land-locked by five counties,
including Hampshire to the east,
with Dorset and Somerset to the west,
but this 2,000 square mile rural landscape
has an identity all of its own, forged by 5,000 years of history.
It's home to one of England's most iconic ancient monuments, Stonehenge.
If you prefer your history slightly more recent,
the last millennia has left an indelible mark on the county too,
with over 35 medieval market towns and villages to explore.
The wealth of natural stone in the region - chilmark, bath, chalk
and flint, has helped create a mix of properties, and you can find
everything here from timber-framed Tudor buildings, thatched cottages
to Victorian farmhouses.
So as you can see, there is plenty on offer here in Wiltshire
and a very good chance that today's buyers won't be disappointed.
IT specialists Simon and Siobhan met at work 18 months ago,
but they're currently living 50 miles apart in Basingstoke and Wimbledon.
So they're not only moving to a new part of the country -
they'll be moving in together for the very first time.
So what kind of home will bring this long-distance couple together?
I think if we're going this far out, we want to be detached.
The classic country kitchen, really, with the breakfast table, would be lovely.
Because we have the ability to work from home, we're really looking for
space that we've either got one room that's big enough for both of us to work in there or two small rooms.
I would love a nice, large or relatively sized bathroom.
I love just lazing in a bath with a book, with a glass of wine for an hour until I'm pruney.
So lots of room will be a must, but what kind of property are they looking for?
I prefer old-character, small, beamy things, but you wouldn't, would you?
So that's fine, that's a compromise.
-We can compromise.
-Yes, we can compromise!
It seems while Simon wants a cosy period home,
Siobhan is looking for something more light and spacious.
And on top of that, while Simon wants up to four acres of land, Siobhan wants just the one.
But keen tennis player Siobhan may have other plans for their land.
Ideally, if we found the property that either had
the space for a tennis court or actually had the tennis court, that would be fantastic.
Siobhan and Simon are financing their move with the sale
of Siobhan's London maisonette and combined savings and equity.
-So how much will they have to play with?
We're willing to go up to £750,000 if it's really the property that we want to get.
We'll be starting today's property search
in the countryside between Bath and Salisbury Plain,
which has a good road and rail network
to the rest of the county and beyond.
Great news for Siobhan's commute to work.
We've lined up three stunning homes to view,
but as always, I won't reveal their price tags until Siobhan and Simon have had a good look around.
Just to shake things up, we'll throw in the mystery house - but will it suit both of them?
-Hi. Pleased to meet you.
Hi, Siobhan, hi, Simon. Nice to see you.
Now, you're undertaking this foray into your future with a very healthy budget, aren't you?
-750 or so?
-Yeah, or so. Or so.
We really want to be around 750 where we close, but in today's market, we are looking and we can go higher
if we need to, so we're looking at anything around 800 as well.
OK, good. Now, you are cash buyers.
Yes, very lucky to be in that position.
-Very lucky indeed, so you could move like that.
-It's nice and sunny, a good day to go house-hunting. Shall we?
So, for a maximum budget of £800,000,
Siobhan and Simon want a detached three to four bedroom house
with plenty of space, light and character features.
Their must-haves include a country-style kitchen, room enough
for a couple of offices, a spacious bathroom
and anywhere between one and four acres of land, but with
their varying tastes in style,
will we be able to find a property that suits them both?
I'm hoping our first house will be spot-on, as at two miles from
the village of Atworth it should be remote enough for Simon, but close enough to amenities for Siobhan.
It's also just eight miles to Chippenham with its direct train link into London.
Atworth offers up a slice of typical Wiltshire country life, with one pub, almost as many
farm animals as residents, and who needs supermarkets
when you have a farm shop stocked with local produce?
Our property is set amongst farmland and there's a surprise in store for Siobhan.
Right, Siobhan, keep your eyes nice and shut.
It's the first house we're going to show you.
All will be revealed in a moment.
Right, turn around that way and open your eyes.
-How about that?
-That's a bonus, isn't it.
-Fantastic, I didn't expect to see that here.
That comes free. It's the house that's expensive.
That's what we've really come to look at.
I'm not sure it's something we'd have picked, naturally.
If we saw that in a brochure, I think it would seem too long, like it was three sections
and as a result I don't think we'd be selecting that on to the list to go and view.
You wanted country cosy. That's what this is.
I think we think too hard.
We're both in that field.
So sometimes we don't let our feelings go enough.
So now, we'll let our feelings go.
Hooray! Let's see what you make of this.
Originally three separate cottages, dating from the 1700s,
this house has character and space in equal measure.
I'm sure it will get an emotional reaction on some level - let's just hope it's a positive one.
Let's start in here, shall we, one of two reception rooms this property has for you.
They've got it set up as a dining room, but you can do what you like with it.
-I'm seeing traditional futures, the nice beam, which is good.
The open fireplace, which is great. That's good.
It's fantastic, there's so much light in here
that you get light from all the different angles, and even though it's a through-room, it's perfect.
Who's the cautious one out of you two?
Why am I not surprised? Come and have a look through here.
Moving on from the dining room, your second reception room.
It's very large. It's very deceptive coming through here.
You don't expect it to be so big.
It's a great space. A good-sized space. Nice, blank canvas, really.
So how are we doing? Marks out of ten?
We mark harshly!
So for me at the moment, we're about a seven and a half.
-I think I've gone up to an eight at the moment.
-The good news is there's room for improvement.
OK, two more points to find. Let's see what we can do. Come through here.
'Let's see if we can notch up those extra marks in the kitchen.
'It's on the other side of the dining room.'
OK. Simon, the kitchen. Your domain, I believe?
-There you are.
All of a sudden it doesn't seem as light as the other rooms.
Every room will have its pros and cons.
In every house there is one particular room which is always,
you know, a bit of a thing.
It may be that for you guys the kitchen is the thing you would want to pour more of yourselves into.
That's maybe just the unfortunate thing.
-We were wanting to come in and go, "That is great as it is."
-You want it all on a plate!
We just have to do a bit of work.
You're making me work, so I'm going to make you work for it, too.
But there may be a solution, as right next door is an annexe with two rooms and a small kitchen.
So with a bit of work, they could combine this whole area to make a whopper of a country-style kitchen.
What's more, upstairs has all the space they need.
It comes complete with a family bathroom and four guest bedrooms - two singles
and two doubles, so plenty of space for an office or two, but just wait until they see the master bedroom.
-Oh, my goodness.
-Come on in. Come on in.
Nice. Not expecting that.
There is a lot of nice going on.
-Is this good nice?
Siobhan, your face is a picture. What are you thinking?
I think it's weird because you first come in, the first thing you see is pink.
Then you see all this space.
I know that the beams are quite low, but character is just amazing.
-What about storage?
-What about storage? There's some there.
-Built in, OK? But there is also a door over there.
-Shall we go have a look?
There we are. You wanted some storage.
Oh, my goodness. That's a lot of storage.
Simon, come and have a look in here. This, I think, is what you want.
-That's very good!
-Very good? I'd say that was brilliant.
That is great.
-Now, while he's lounging in the bath, you can be down there playing tennis
-And you can lie here and keep score.
-Yeah, yeah, ace!
-It's absolutely fantastic.
That tennis court is definitely a winning feature of this property,
but will the rest of the garden be a hit?
It's just under an acre, so spot-on for Siobhan, but will it be big enough for Simon?
Right, let's come out of the back of the property.
Have a look at this extraordinary building. Now you know what goes on inside...
There it is.
Your £750,000, how do you think it stacks up against this little lot?
I'm thinking sort of 680.
-He's tough, isn't he? I would possibly go for 750.
Well, the actual figure on this is offers in excess of 695.
Oh, my goodness. I'm very surprised.
-Bet you hate it when he's right, don't you?
-We're not competitive!
Look, there's a few things that you've got to explore on your own.
Not least of which, of course, the tennis court, the veg patch
and take a look at that annexe and see how the office space may work there for you.
Go and enjoy. I'll catch you later.
Fantastic. Thank you.
I'd say that's a pretty good start.
For offers over £695,000, this could be as much as £100,000 under budget,
and there is a lot of property.
Two reception rooms, five bedrooms and a self-contained annexe.
The acre of garden comes with the added bonus of a tennis court,
but will this be enough for our self-confessed tough customers?
When I opened my eyes and saw that tennis court,
I couldn't believe that you were able to find a property in the country with a tennis court.
I wasn't expecting that at all. So in some ways it's a dream come true.
I can see myself living here, and that's really surprising.
I'm highly critical. However, I can see each day would be a pleasure to be here.
As the sun begins to set over this mysterious and ancient landscape,
the first day of our property tour of Wiltshire is at an end.
Now, you'll recall that yesterday we got a very healthy
nine out of ten from some very discerning buyers.
Can we get a nice, round ten out of ten today, I wonder?
Two more properties to play for
including, of course, the mystery house. So fingers crossed.
We're hopping over the border into Hampshire.
Our first offering is situated in the village of North Gorley.
At just 20 minutes to Siobhan's offices in Winchester
and 15 miles from the coast, it's a superb location.
The village itself is situated right on the western edge of the New Forest,
so not only comes complete with pubs, tea shops
and an abundance of character properties,
but the region's most famous four-legged friends,
the wild New Forest ponies.
The property we're viewing sits on top of nearby Buddle Hill
and enjoys spectacular views across the Avon Valley.
There we are, a first offering of the day, what do you think of that?
I think it looks amazing.
-It's the White House!
-It is - your own presidential world.
-What about it? Is this the sort of thing you would have considered off of the details?
Ah! There's a theme emerging here.
Let's see what you make of it inside. It's beautiful.
It has quite a simple lay-out,
but it also has some fantastic views. Come and look at this.
Right, in you come. The hallway, as you can see.
There's lots to this property to explore, not least outside,
-but let's start with this reception room. What do you think?
-It's a good basic shape to work with.
We need to understand it in the context of the rest of the house,
as a sitting room.
Next door is a lovely little conservatory.
-So far, so good?
"It's OK"! Such a difficult customer! Come through here.
Back through the hallway, downstairs loo in there,
-and then in here, a nice little study.
Now, you can fight over that.
There are other options as well, but the dining room is in here.
-What do you think of this, Siobhan?
-Oh, my goodness. It's massive.
-It's a big space.
-Loads of light in.
This end is now configured as a dining end.
This area here, containing the piano and the desk and so forth,
that could easily be another little seating area,
a little snug if you like, for more informal relaxing and eating.
Because right next door is the kitchen.
-Let's see what you think of this, chef.
There we are.
-OK. That's nice.
Come on, it's gorgeous!
That's impressive for me.
What do you think, Siobhan? Come on.
I think it's lovely and light in here.
You've got space and the room and the light from both ends,
and just look at that cooker.
OK. Well, let's go upstairs and have a look at that.
Plenty of room for you up there, too.
-Then we're going to go out and explore the gardens.
-That sounds exciting.
Siobhan obviously loves this house,
but Simon's playing his cards
somewhat closer to his chest. Maybe upstairs will swing it for him.
There are two double guestrooms, a box room and the family bathroom.
Now, last but not least, the master.
So configured because it makes the best use of that view.
-Waking up with that every morning.
-That's stunning, yes.
Now, a touch in here - there's also a little en suite shower room.
-I think this is a house that's quite viable?
I think it's got a lot of potential.
To me, it's just cosmetic things that would need to be updated.
Yes, I think there are cosmetic things that need to be updated.
-Why can't you envisage it?
Because it's kind of the whole is needing to be done. That's hard.
-But it's not a big job.
-No, it's not a big job, I agree with you.
If anything can get Simon to visualise himself living here,
I think it's the garden.
There's one acre of land which comes with some very special features.
Come on in here.
Oh, my goodness.
This is the produce of your very own vineyard.
Wow, now that's different!
How about that? This is the winery that's attached to the house.
Now, there aren't many vines up there, but believe it or not,
they can produce, in a good year, upwards of 200 bottles.
-So, is all this staying, then?
-All of this is staying.
I thought that would get some emotion out of Simon, but we're not done yet.
There's one more feature I want to show them
that could have them diving right in.
-Oh, my goodness.
-What do you think?
I like it a lot. We didn't ask for it in the criteria.
You certainly didn't. I love it.
As pools go, I don't think you can beat that for the view, if nothing else.
And you've got all the wine to enjoy while you're out here.
What's it going to set you back, I wonder, in pounds sterling.
-I think I'll go first.
I think it's got to be the top of our range.
-I would just go straight for 800,000.
I'll say very similar, so I'll just go £5 below.
OK. The good news is that it's not £800,000.
Nor, indeed, a fiver less than that.
This could be yours for £745,000.
-Right, that's thinking time now then, isn't it?
You have just thrown the cat amongst the pigeons.
Well, you have plenty of cats, already.
Yeah, I think that's a pretty good figure.
-Go on, off you go, go and explore. I'll catch you later.
So this is £55,000 under Simon and Siobhan's top budget
and it's a huge house in an amazing Hampshire location
on the edge of the New Forest.
It has the farmhouse kitchen,
office space and four bedrooms they've asked for,
and with the swimming pool and winery,
I think we may have finally discovered
what it takes to impress Simon.
Immediately as we were approaching the house,
we just knew we were in a fabulous place of beauty.
I could definitely see myself living here.
Location-wise, it's absolutely perfect for work, for rail links,
and yet you really feel like you're in the countryside
and it's just so peaceful and tranquil all around.
For the mystery house, we'll stay over the border in Hampshire,
in the heart of the New Forest and amongst some of its more exotic
four-legged residents, and try something completely different.
We've shown Simon and Siobhan some very nice period properties,
but I think we really need to push them a bit harder.
So let's try something brand new.
We're heading to the outskirts of the market town of Ringwood.
It's a great location with good road and rail links
to both Winchester and London, and it's just 11 miles to the coast.
Situated in a predominantly rural area,
Ringwood is the western gateway to the New Forest,
at a crossing point of the river Avon.
The mystery house is just a few miles out of town
on a modern private development with around 150 homes.
Now, Simon and Siobhan like period properties,
so I wonder how they'll react to a new build.
Come on in. There, that's the mystery house.
Oh, my goodness. That is massive!
It looks so different. I'm really, really intrigued to see inside.
-You don't have to do anything.
So far, so good. I'm confident the interior won't disappoint.
Oh, my goodness.
-That's some entrance hall.
-Yeah, that's grand.
-Do you like that?
Yeah, that doesn't feel new inside.
Siobhan, your face.
-What are you thinking?
-The wooden floors, features are...
Solid oak, throughout.
Oh, my goodness.
You've completely thrown me.
This is done to a good finish, this is nice.
It's very, very nice. There's an awful lot of it.
To my left is a downstairs loo.
Leading on from that is a double bedroom,
downstairs, with an en suite.
We've also got you two lovely reception rooms.
One of them is in there, but I want to show you in here.
Come and have a look at this, Simon.
Because I think we're getting there with what you're after.
-I'm not sure, Jules. It might need some work.
Such a liar.
I'm surprised, because it does still feel cottagey.
All the wood, and the floor.
In terms of kitchens, to be fair, you have been a bit disappointed.
-I think you rather liked the last one.
-As did I.
This is one for you, mate. If you don't like this, there's no helping you.
OK. So what's not to like?
I can't believe it! I just can't believe this space and the finish.
That's a lot of space and a lot of work top.
-That's exactly what I was picturing.
-It's stunning, absolutely stunning.
-You get the idea that you can literally just move in here.
But there's plenty more space to come,
as flowing off the kitchen is a separate dining room.
So downstairs has a very positive reaction from Simon.
Let's see if upstairs will score top marks too.
I think this would be a great office.
This is massive.
It's a good space. It's almost like you're spoiling it as an office.
It is technically one of the bedrooms, but you don't need four,
-really, so a few options, then?
Arranged around the galleried landing is a double guest bedroom and a guest bathroom.
This is the master.
Yes, you've got fantastic views.
It's just so open and airy and the wood finish is just stunning.
-It's nice. It's big, it's a good size.
-Having that amount of light and the view onto the garden is nice.
-Is this as good as it gets with him?
-OK. All right.
I'll take nice, then.
This property comes with under half an acre,
which isn't as big as either Siobhan or Simon wanted.
So, will they be able to compromise on less outside space for a huge house?
There we are... The mystery house from the garden.
Completely different again.
It's amazing, actually. It looks lovely.
And I love the fact that the garden is such low maintenance.
Let's have a little think about how nice the price may or may not be.
Who's going to go first on our final property?
-I think it's got to be my turn to be brave.
-So I'll say 740.
Mm-hm. Quite brave, yes.
I think it's closer to 800.
You can afford it, but it is going to cost you £775,000.
A good mystery house?
-Very good, Jules.
-Very impressed, Jules.
Good. Go and explore it, because there's an awful lot more to have a look at.
It really is terrific. Go on.
At £775,000, this is £25,000 under budget
and doesn't need any work whatsoever.
It comes complete with four bedrooms,
two reception rooms plus that huge conservatory.
Although it's nearly new, it does deliver on character.
At under half an acre, the garden isn't quite as big as they want,
but I think even Simon can visualise living here.
Hampshire is definitely coming up trumps.
I was completely confused by the mystery house.
I was expecting the thatched roof and the stream in the garden
and what I've seen is a new property that is done
to the highest finish inside and out, and it's absolutely stunning.
Just the number of knobs on that cooker is phenomenal, so...
I'll be quite happy working in here and that really made me pleased.
Well, at long last it's decision time for Simon and for Siobhan.
For a couple who ruthlessly analyse every aspect of their life
and indeed their future life plan,
this could be quite an interesting discussion.
Maybe we've given them too much choice - who knows?
Well, Siobhan, Simon.
It all started with that very interesting house with the tennis courts.
That was an immediate wow-factor for me.
I thought the house was fabulous.
So many different features throughout the house,
I could really see that would last the test of time.
Then we took you to something very different,
I think a very beautiful property.
On the hill with gorgeous views.
I think that property was amazing.
It's got an awful lot of potential
in order to put your own mark on it.
It was a good choice, something different.
All right, there was one more to come. The mystery house was completely out of the box.
Totally, it was wonderful.
It all fitted perfectly.
What happens next, I wonder.
I could guess on this one, but I'm not sure I want to.
At the moment, it's two.
OK, let me have a guess now, then.
I think you would go for
the property with the view, and the pool.
You are completely correct, Jules.
Ah. OK. Simon?
The property with the tennis court has everything.
It has the feel of home and I am very torn by that property.
Now then, the tennis court property.
You didn't pick that one. I thought you would have done.
I think you've got a win-win here.
And if you do buy the vineyard, send some bottles over. Cheers.
Cheers. Good life.
Now, there's no doubt in my mind that even just going out and looking
for a property for the two of them to live in for the future
has been a momentous occasion, certainly for Siobhan
and not least for Simon, but I have to say we have given them
some fantastic choices, which one they will eventually go for,
I suspect only time will tell, but if there is a moral to this tale,
it is this - never judge a property by the paper on which it is printed.
If you do, you may just pass up your ideal dream home.
I'll see you next time.
Well, Siobhan obviously has very persuasive skills,
because I'm delighted to report that they've had their offer accepted
on the Hampshire house on the hill.
Maybe the winery sealed the deal?
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