Property series. Nicki Chapman helps a couple who are seeking an impressive house to retire to in South Wales. They have a healthy budget of £650,000.
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It was on this seven-mile stretch of sand 100 years ago
that one of the stages of the first British motor rally took place.
The speeds and times of the cars were neither recorded nor published,
in order to, and I quote from the 1909 rally itinerary,
"avoid the vulgarity of advertisement."
Find out where I am in a moment, as we start our engines in Escape To The Country.
'Today, we're helping a couple retire to the country in grand style.'
It's actually got six reception rooms downstairs.
'In fact, it's a case of the bigger, the better.'
These properties have 30 acres.
'But will we be able to find them their dream pad for the right price?'
-I just can't believe it.
-I don't believe it.
I am just over the moon, I really am.
This is Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire, Wales,
where on the 25th September 1924,
Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the first of his nine land speed records,
reaching a speed in his Sunbeam car of 146.16 miles per hour.
Sir Malcolm went to break a further two records here,
the last on the 4th February 1927,
in Bluebird II, with a speed of 174.88 miles per hour.
We, too, will have to move fast today, because there's a lot of ground to cover.
We are taking in two counties for the price of one,
Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire,
which make up the majority of the south-west peninsula in Wales.
Whilst Carmarthenshire's green, fertile landscape has earned it the nickname the Garden Of Wales,
Pembrokeshire's 186-mile coastline is undoubtedly the jewel in its crown.
Home to the only coastal national park in the UK, visitors have 50 beaches to choose from.
Whilst tourism is a booming industry for both counties,
farming is still a major player,
so, escaping the hordes to find a slice of the quiet country life isn't a problem.
English home-buyers have long been attracted by Pembrokeshire's charms,
and the average price for a detached property is £23,000 above that of Carmarthenshire.
However, with both counties coming in at just under 50%
of the national average for a detached property,
it's a good choice if you want your pounds and pennies to stretch to a country mile.
Large swathes of south Wales have been designated specific regeneration areas,
which means £185 million is being ploughed into the redevelopment of Swansea's waterfront,
and another £120 million has been spent on the Millennium coastal park in south Carmarthenshire.
Good news for property hunters,
as investment in the area makes living here more attractive,
and property prices are likely to increase.
So, if you're tempted, here's a selection
of some great properties currently on the market.
Head to Carmarthenshire,
and you'll find this 1920s seven-bedroomed manor house
in the stunning countryside just outside the county town of Carmarthen.
A bespoke oak kitchen and four reception rooms should impress.
If that fails, the indoor swimming pool will surely make a splash.
It's on the market for a cool £1.3 million.
Sticking with Carmarthenshire but coming down in price, for £695,000,
how about this substantial country property near Lampeter?
Built in 1988, it has a galleried reception room, a quaint country kitchen and five bedrooms.
Adjoining the property is a very colourful two-bedroomed self-contained annexe,
and it's all set in an impressive seven acres of land.
If you prefer Pembrokeshire, just outside Haverfordwest is this four-bedroomed modernised cottage.
The interior is snug and cosy,
but there's no shortage of space outside,
with nearly five acres of land.
It could be yours for just under £390,000.
Well, we've lined up some great properties.
All that's left is to meet this week's house hunters.
Philip, a finance director and Julia, housewife, have been married for 31 years.
For the last seven, they've lived in this five-bedroomed estate house in Watford,
with their pug, Boris, their three cats and some of their five grown-up sons.
But now the last of the boys has moved out,
and Philip has retired, they've decided to make a break for the country.
-We've been looking to move, probably, for two years.
-Yeah. About that.
What set it off was when we went to Stow-On-The-Wold.
Yeah, when we went to Stow, we had a short break in Stow-On-The-Wold,
and I was really excited about being in the country, which was amazing, because I'm a town mouse.
And Julia's turnabout has been 100%, as she now wants to go the whole hog.
Ideally, I would like to live somewhere really, really, rural,
with open fields around us, with lots and lots of space.
They've set their hearts on South Wales.
However, so far, their house search has been confined to the internet.
What kind of property has been grabbing their attention?
'We would like to have an old-style house. We don't want a modern executive home.'
We would like somewhere that's sprawling and rambling.
-Sprawling and rambling. Yes.
-Rather than enclosed.
That doesn't sound like a downsize.
Just how much house are they looking for?
'Six bedrooms, at least.'
Two or three reception rooms, a lot of space, a large kitchen, a good-sized garden,
at least half an acre.
We would like to keep animals on it, and we thought of all sorts, getting some donkeys, sheep.
So that's the must-haves. What about the no-nos?
Beams are another thing. Everyone seems to love beams.
What's to love about a beam? It's just a piece of wood on the roof.
It's already a substantial wish list, so I'm reticent to ask, anything else?
We'd like to be within driving distance of the coast, because Julia loves the seaside.
I do love the seaside.
Philip and Julia's location and property requirements are considerable,
so are they willing to put some work in to create the dream home?
We're both very keen to move into the right sort of property,
and it will be one that we have to do things to.
We like to stamp our own mark on the house.
-We enjoy DIY, so it'll be really exciting to do that.
-Oh yeah, I can't wait for that, yeah.
Well, before we can find them their rural, coastal, mammoth, period home,
Philip and Julia need to know how much money they'll have to spend,
so we've invited a local agent to value their house.
This is a well-presented five-bedroomed family home,
in a sought-after area, located close to Watford Met line station,
so it's good for commuters, therefore I'd recommend an asking price of £725,000.
With that in mind, what's the final spend for South Wales?
Our budget is £650,000. If the house is perfect, we would spend that.
If it's needing work doing, then we would spend up to that with whatever we did to it.
I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty unusual for a retired couple to be upscaling,
from a five-bedroomed house to a six-bedroomed one.
Add to the fact that Julia and Philip are seriously considering
keeping cows, sheep, goats and chickens,
they're certainly not going to have a quiet retirement.
I'm very keen to find out whether their dream matches the reality.
To maximise their chances of finding the dream home,
Philip and Julia have asked us
to cast the property net far and wide,
from the countryside surrounding Carmarthen,
to Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.
In today's show, we'll be viewing three choice character homes,
but, as always, I won't reveal the asking prices until they've had a good look around.
The last of the three is the mystery house, which today might just have them all at sea.
Philip and Julia, great to meet you. Are you looking forward to the next few days?
Very much so. Really excited.
We've got some great properties lined up. But first of all, let's talk money.
What's your top, top budget, is it the same?
Yes, £650,000 is our maximum budget.
Now, you want six bedrooms.
Yes, six bedrooms. Got to be six bedrooms.
Who's going to come to stay, all the family?
Yes. That's why there has got to be six bedrooms.
-And what about grandchildren?
-Well, they're not here yet, but hopefully on the horizon.
The third one is married now, so it's increased the probability.
So you've got to have lots of bedrooms for the whole family to come to stay?
-They insist on high days and holidays, the house is the gathering place.
OK, we'll have to bear that in mind.
That's a lot of work, isn't it?
And you want a place that's quite remote?
Yes. Really remote.
I want some space round me now.
-I'm bored with living in a town. I want...
-A complete change?
-I want a complete change of lifestyle.
-Animals and space.
-Animals and space.
Do you have any at the moment apart from your beloved dog?
My beloved dog, and we have three cats, but no other animals.
So, we've got six bedrooms,
times the amount of houses to show you,
divided by the amount of time to do it in.
I think we'd better get started.
I think you're right!
'So, Philip and Julia have a healthy budget of £650,000,
'but they have a big wish list to go with it.
'They want a very large period home with at least six bedrooms,
'so their children can stay,
'a couple of reception rooms, and a sizable kitchen.
'With plans to keep animals, half an acre of land is a must.
'the more rural, the better.
Luckily, they're happy to take on a project and get stuck in with the DIY.
So what's the current situation with your property? Is it on the market?
Yes, we've got it on the market
and the estate agents are quite hopeful that it will sell quite quickly.
They've got a number of people who are interested in the area.
-They think that it will be very marketable.
-So feeling optimistic?
Positive thinking all round, then.
I'm feeling very confident about today's property search,
which we're kicking off in Pembrokeshire,
in the very rural outskirts of the ancient county town of Haverfordwest,
situated six miles from the coast.
Straddling the banks of the western Claddau,
this thriving country market town is in fact the largest urban centre in the county.
But when you compare its population of 13,000 to Watford's 70,000,
it's a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Julia and Philip's home town.
The high street is lined with fine Georgian and Victorian buildings,
home to a good mix of independent and national retailers,
and presiding over it all are the remains of a Norman castle.
Our first property won't be quite such a big renovation job, though.
It's situated three miles out of town in pristine Pembrokeshire countryside,
and even has its own woodland.
It's really rural Julia's asked for, so it's really rural we'll give her!
So guys, here is your first property. Grade II listed.
-Built in 1812 as a gentleman's residence.
Although they lived here, it was built for hunting and fishing.
It's absolutely lovely. I love it already.
It has got some age to it and often with properties that have an age,
there's a bit of a project attached to it as well.
-If there was no project, we'd have nothing to do.
-We want the project.
-Philip, music to my ears. Music to my ears.
'This Georgian lodge will definitely keep them occupied
'and I don't think I've ever come across a house
'that more aptly fits the description of rambling and sprawling.'
-So how's this?
-Oh, it's wonderful.
-Look at that ceiling, absolutely beautiful.
-I love the vaulted...
-It's grand, it's wonderful.
-It is. It's...
-You'd expect a good entrance and it delivers, doesn't it?
For a house of this age, this is perfect. Exactly right.
You've got three reception rooms.
-You've got the morning room, the dining room and a drawing room.
-Shall we start off with the drawing room?
-Let's start on the drawing room.
It's absolutely splendid, I really, really love it. The ceiling height, it's just great.
This is a proper drawing room, you could put a Christmas tree there.
You've got the original fireplace, that works.
-That's a working fireplace?
-I love the surrounds.
-I'd recommend you got the fireplaces checked out, though.
'A very warm response to the drawing room,
'but I can't wait to see what they'll make of the kitchen, which could do with some modernising.'
So here is your kitchen - I don't think it's changed since 1812!
-I think that's not an exaggeration.
-It just needs a little bit of love.
-A bit of modernising!
I can just imagine us doing a lot of work in it.
That is a feature that you are not going to find anywhere else,
Look at that, look. We can have servants. We can, we can have servants!
'Julia can joke, but there is still a servant's wing here.'
'It's comprised of a former gun room, a living room, a buttery,
'a dairy, a saddle room and a cellar. How's that for a country house?
'So more than enough space downstairs for them, their visiting children and future grandchildren.
'Now let's see if there's enough room upstairs.'
-Oh, it's wonderful. It really is. The size is perfect, isn't it?
And again, it's got high windows so it creates a lot of light.
The light is great in here, it really is, really lovely. Love it.
-Good sized bedroom.
-Probably be the master.
-Yeah, I would imagine.
'There's plenty more space so Philip needn't make up his mind just yet.
'Off the hallway are two double bedrooms, there's one single
'and two bathrooms right next door to each other,
'which are in need of some serious TLC. But they could be knocked through to create a very large one.'
So here's another of the five bedrooms. It gives you an idea...
-It's huge. It's fine, isn't it?
-Lovely size, and this one has got two windows.
-You have dual aspect, which is beautiful.
-This could be a master as well.
It does have the five bedrooms and ideally you were after six.
Yeah, I'm listening.
-Remember the servant's wing?
-Above that is a self-contained flat.
-There'll be a fight for that.
-There will be a fight for that one.
-That self-contained flat has three bedrooms.
-Eight bedrooms. That's fine!
-Now we're getting silly.
You're both nearly speechless.
It's not that, we have either got to have more children or more grandchildren.
Off we go! Thank you.
The flat is currently rented out to tenants and therefore has its own access.
It comes with a kitchen, three bedrooms and a living room.
Believe it or not, this was built in the early 1800s as well, this section.
Same sort of time as the original.
Unbelievable! It just shows you what you can do, really.
It gives you a great deal of flexibility as well.
Whether we would keep it self-contained or whether we would knock it through...
-Open it up, yes.
-Food for thought.
-It certainly is.
This house delivers over and above their requirements inside.
It's most certainly the project they wanted
and with two acres of land,
there's no shortage of space for pugs, cats and all the chickens and goats they could want.
So I've brought you to the front of the property
so you can see all your land.
-And behind you, if you can look, it's been laid to lawn.
-That originally was a tennis court.
So if you don't fancy taking up the sport,
you can put your animals on there, and if you fancy it, you can easily reinstate it.
Probably leave it for the animals at the moment.
-Yeah, stick with the animals.
-Put the old goat on there. Good enough for him.
So it is time, having seen this wonderful property, to talk money.
-Who wants to go first?
-Well, I'll have a go.
-I mean, it's a fabulous house.
How much do you think the current price is?
Our budget is 650, there's a lot of work, so I'm going to say...
-500. Yeah, that sounds about right.
I would go just slightly lower than that.
You know, 495 to make it sound better. Yeah.
I think you're going to be slightly disappointed.
-The asking price is £650,000.
-Because you've also got the additional accommodation.
-Of course, with that. That's true.
We'd need to find out just how much work has to be done on it.
-It would be worth finding out.
-It's a lovely house.
Why don't you have a wander around, have a good look,
think about all your options and I'll meet you in the front in a little while.
-Off you go.
With an asking price of £650,000,
this Georgian lodge is right at the top of Julia and Philip's budget, and it does need work.
But it's not every day you come across an opportunity like this
so we had to show it to them.
It's positively huge, with three reception rooms,
a big kitchen space, a servants wing, five bedrooms
and a three-bedroom self-contained flat.
To top it off, it's all set in two acres of land.
The renovations could be tackled over time
and it's worth remembering it's still a buyer's market
so there should be a little flexibility on the price tag.
I love symmetrical houses.
I just love the grandeur of the whole place.
I know it's a little bit battered, but I just loved it from the moment I set eyes on it.
It's got nooks and crannies and cellars
and it's got rooms that we at the moment don't even know what we would use them for.
I know that it needs decorating and it needs some work,
but it deserves that work.
It would be a joy to be able to do it.
What a great start, you don't get to see properties like that very often.
-You don't, do you? Wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
-Ready to go?
-More to see.
For our next property, we're popping over the border into Carmarthenshire,
where we should get that little bit more for our money.
We're heading to the rural outskirts of Whitland,
which, crucially for sea-loving Julia,
is just nine miles from the coast.
Nestled in the Taf Valley, Whitland is a small county town,
with a good mixture of amenities serving the locals,
including a mainline train station, with connections to Swansea, Carmarthen and Pembroke.
The house we're viewing is a mile from the centre of town,
set in glorious Carmarthenshire countryside, and I have an admission to make,
as I know this is a property they've seen on the internet.
'However, when it comes to house-hunting, the proof isn't in the pudding,
'it's in the viewing, so what will they make of it in the flesh?'
-Do you remember it?
It's a property we've seen on the internet.
-Yes, it is.
-But I didn't realise it was in such a beautiful location.
I mean, the views from the house must be stunning.
You can see the Preseli mountains from here.
-It's wonderful, isn't it? Absolutely fantastic.
-It is fantastic.
-We are by a road, though.
-Not a busy road.
We've lived by roads before.
If it's a road going from somewhere to somewhere rather than just a suburban road, it's not as bad.
Well, let's talk about the property.
Here she is. At the heart is a 100-year-old cottage,
which is quite difficult to see now, because it's been extended on both sides.
It was only finished a year ago.
-So you've seen the outside of the property. Are you ready for the inside?
'This house is a very different proposition.
'Whilst the core is Victorian, the decor is more contemporary,
'but there's certainly no scarcity of space.'
-So, come straight in.
This house rambles, but it has a lovely flow,
because it hasn't got one reception room, or two or three,
or four or five, it's actually got six reception rooms downstairs.
-Six reception... We should have paid more attention when we looked at it.
This is just the first one. We're in the old part of the cottage now.
I think it would be fair to say this is one of the smaller rooms.
-So are you ready to start?
-Here we go.
To this reception room.
-It's much bigger.
-Oh, this is great, this is really great.
I love that archway through there. It makes it enormous, doesn't it?
And again, amazing views.
Yeah, you can see those views out there.
-They're quite stunning, aren't they?
-Aren't they lovely?
-That gets you, doesn't it?
-It does. It does.
Just looking out there is beautiful. We've got nothing like that.
'It would be easy to stare at those views all day,
'but there's a lot more to see.
'So on with the property tour via reception room number three.'
So we are now on our fourth reception room.
Fourth! Again, it's absolutely wonderful, isn't it?
I like the way that they all interlink, so that you feel it's really quite open.
It's all really one.
-I like it.
-You've got a small utility room there.
-Oh, have you, right?
You have got two staircases with this property, leading upstairs.
-And then you have got two more reception rooms through there,
-and then the kitchen, so let me show you that.
It's an important room, the kitchen, for you and your family.
It is, it is, and I feel that somehow this is just a little bit too small for me.
A bit smaller than we were probably hoping for.
This area here, I wonder whether you'd be able to knock a wall somewhere and extend.
-There is potential.
-There is so much space down here.
-You could change the layout of it.
I think we would probably change the layout.
There is potential here.
'Julia and Philip are certainly seeing the possibilities,
'and although it would be a shame to pull out such a lovely kitchen,
'I get the feeling these two will want to put their own stamp on any property they move into.
'So that's it for downstairs,
'Let's see what they make of the sleeping arrangements.
'They shouldn't be disappointed. There are seven bedrooms in all.'
Here it is. With views like that, this has to be the master bedroom.
I think you are right, it certainly does.
It's absolutely splendid, and the size of the room is perfect.
Good. And does it bother you that it is not an en-suite?
No, no, I mean, we're not really bothered by en-suites.
-It's not one of our major look-fors.
-No, it isn't.
That's good. Let me show you one of the bathrooms,
-see what you think.
Oh, no, this is great. I really like this.
-It's a big bathroom.
-Yes, it's very big.
-It's a good-sized bathroom, yes.
-Yeah, but it's not too big.
We would have a bigger bath, because the room can take it quite easily.
And a double sink. Crying out for it!
It's a great bathroom.
I like the limestone tiles as well.
'More positive reactions,
'and I think the rest of this floor will get a thumbs up, too.
'Just next door is another double bedroom.
'There's a single bedroom with a secret room,
'perfect for future grandkids.
'But, we're not done yet.
'Off the rear landing are three further doubles and another family bathroom.
'So more than enough space inside.
'But how does the land measure up?
'Well, on top of a rear lawn garden,
'this property comes with a one-and-a-half-acre paddock.'
So, here's the additional land that I mentioned.
All of this paddock comes with the house.
It's just amazing, isn't it?
-Amazing! In unison!
Is this what you were thinking of when you were talking
sheep, goats, cows...
I can see the goats now,
running down the hills, the chickens in a little pen over there,
-a donkey or two.
-There's even room for the cow.
So all this comes at a price, but you have already seen this property
on the internet, so do you have an inkling?
I...I can't remember, we looked at a lot of properties,
but I don't think that this was one that was right at the top end,
so something tells me around half a million
and at the back of my mind, I have got the figures of 498.
-OK, well, I'm going to go a bit higher
because it's a really beautifully done house, so I'm going to go 525.
The asking price is £398,500.
Is that a pleasant surprise?
It's a totally pleasant surprise.
-So, with that good news,
why don't you go and have another wander around?
-Have a browse, and I'll catch up with you a bit later.
Excellent, thank you.
'That came as a shock, didn't it?
'At £398,500, this modernised Victorian cottage
'is a massive 200,000 under budget,
'leaving spare change and then some
'for Julia and Philip to put their own stamp on the place.
'It's a positively huge property, with six reception rooms,
'a country-style kitchen, which could be extended,
'seven bedrooms, an ample garden and one-and-a-half acres of paddock.
'Will it be period enough?'
When we came into the house, I was surprised.
I hadn't realised it was quite so modern.
But despite the fact that it's modern, I do quite like it.
The rooms are really quite huge.
The only thing that concerns me about the property is the road,
but I think that's something we'd get used to,
because it's not as busy as the sort of roads we are used to in the town.
I think the only thing I didn't like about the house myself
was the kitchen, really.
It was a little bit small,
but it was beautifully done
and it would seem a shame to do anything to it.
Ah, Nicky, you look very comfortable there.
I am very comfortable, but it is time to go. Come on.
Carmarthenshire has no shortage of beaches
and a must-visit is Pendine Sands.
Not only is it one of the longest beaches in Wales,
but back in the 1920s,
it was the site of the first record-breaking land speed attempts.
I am meeting up with local motoring historian Lynn Hughes,
to find out more.
Tell me, why was Pendine Sands so good for breaking land speed records?
Well, there's a lot of it, you know?
It's seven miles long and it's outstanding in the British Isles,
if not in Europe, for the fact that the quality of the sand
at certain times of the year is such that it's almost like tarmacadam.
And how many land-speed records were broken here?
Well, altogether, I suppose about five.
Three by Malcolm Campbell and two by JG Parry-Thomas.
I've heard of Sir Malcolm Campbell,
but I have not heard of JG Parry-Thomas.
-Who is he? Have I let the side down?
-I am afraid you have, rather.
In his day, he was probably as famous a racing driver
as Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button.
He had a reputation for total fearlessness.
He had that sort of tiger,
which you need to be a frontline racing driver.
What type of car did JG drive?
Well, it so happens that we have it on display here
in the Museum Of Speed, so why don't we go and have a look at it?
I'd love to. After you.
The car was built by engineer and racing driver
Count Louis Zborowski -
the man responsible for the real Chitty Bang Bang,
the Grand Prix racing car and, of course,
the inspiration for Ian Fleming's famous novel.
Babs, as Parry-Thomas called her, couldn't fly
but, with a 27-litre aeroplane engine in her,
she sure could move fast
and JG pushed her to the very limits.
-Now, he broke two land speed records with Babs, didn't he?
-Yes, he did.
In 1926, on two consecutive days, the 26th and 27th of April,
he broke the world land speed record twice,
on the second day, at the astonishing speed of 171 mph.
I can't imagine sitting in her now, going at that speed.
-So did JG try again?
-Yes, he did.
He came back the following year.
He was going, really, for 200 mph,
but the car somersaulted and he was instantly killed, I'm afraid.
And what actually happened to Babs?
Well, they didn't know what to do with her
and for some curious reason,
they decided to bury her here, in the sand dunes.
-And there she remained.
-And how long was she actually buried for?
She was eventually disinterred in 1969 by an eminent engineer called Owen Wyn Owen,
who restored her to the condition that you see her in now.
Well, I mean, thank you so much.
It's been amazing and a real privilege to be allowed to sit in Babs.
With the sun setting over South Wales,
Philip and Julia have a chance to mull over the properties they've seen so far.
What did you think about the Georgian house?
-It was splendid.
-It ticked every box.
-Every single box.
-The rabbit warren of the rooms was great.
Yes, everywhere you went there was one more room and another room and yet another room.
You'd get lost in there for years, you really would. I really, really did love it.
-What did you think of the yellow pointy house?
-Oh, I loved that.
It was quite modern, really, wasn't it?
The rooms were fantastic sizes, weren't they?
-Lots of rooms - seven bedrooms!
-And loads of reception rooms.
You couldn't really have asked for more.
-Who knows what they'll find for us.
-They've been very inventive today
so I'm sure they'll be able to find something tomorrow that will be equally exciting.
-I hope so. Here's to tomorrow.
Retirees Philip and Julia are looking to swap busy Watford
for very rural South Wales, but this is no downsize.
They want a six-bedroomed period pile and plenty of acreage.
So far our properties have had the thumbs up,
but will the rustic charm of our next property prove to be the dream?
Why don't I hate these beams?
-I really like them!
-We've converted you!
I'm a... Yes, I'm a converted beamer!
'Or will the mystery house blow everything else out of the water?'
Julia, you've always said you wanted to be by the sea -
you're not going to get much closer than that!
It's a castle!
Yesterday went really well and what became apparent
was that for Philip and Julia, family is everything.
As long as the house can accommodate them, their five children
and their future grandchildren, they're going to be happy.
Let's hope today goes as well as yesterday.
For our first viewing of the day,
we're heading to the village of Brechfa.
Situated in the Cothi Valley,
under the towering oaks of the Brechfa Forest,
it's been described as one of the most secluded villages in South Wales.
So it should be remote enough for Julia and Philip.
There's been a settlement here since the 6th century.
However, most of the properties today date from the late 1800s.
We're heading two and a half miles out of the village
for our first house of the day.
Surrounded by farmland, it's about as rural as properties come.
These are your properties.
-It's both of them.
You've got the converted barn that was done about 23 years ago.
And you've got the farmhouse, there. They both date back about 150 years.
-They look lovely.
-They do, don't they?
I love the colour of the stone. That's splendid. I like that.
The lovely stream that we came past.
That's the head of the River Gwili.
-It also provides all the water for both properties.
That's really special.
-It's got a filter system.
-Couldn't get fresher than that, could you?
-Lovely. That's really unusual.
-You can't get freer than that.
That's the magic word!
That appeals to the accountant in me.
-Now, you noticed some of the livestock around?
Do they come with the property?
-The livestock don't. But the field that they're standing in does.
This property, or these properties, have 30 acres.
The good news is,
-25 of those acres are currently being rented out to the farmer.
-That's a great idea.
But you could have sheep literally at your back window.
So you could look after them,
but you don't have to worry too much about them -
the best of both worlds.
There is a sheep at our back window now.
Yeah, there is.
'Well, they seemed suitably impressed by those numbers.
'But will they be taken with the actual property?
'Style-wise, it's a mix of contemporary and character
'with a few rustic features that might not be to Julia's liking.
'But it has all the space they're after
'and I think it has real wow factor.'
I really like that. I do. It's really unusual.
It is unusual, isn't it, to have the dining hall straight as you come in.
-But, no, that's fine.
-But it works.
-Do you like the balcony effect?
-The gallery, looking down?
I love the wood. The combination of the wood and the stone.
The contrast of the wood with the stone, it really works.
So far, so good.
'But the living room could be make-or-break, as it
'has a particular feature I know Julia isn't too keen on - beams!'
Oh, no, that's lovely.
And I don't usually like beams.
-I was a little bit worried about the beams.
-But these are right.
This is the right setting for them.
They're high enough up and they're not too imposing.
-I haven't seen a barn conversion before.
-No, nor have I.
I have to say, this is really
giving me a completely different view of them.
-So this is the first time?
-Yeah, we've never been to one.
Something you wouldn't have considered?
-I would never have thought of it.
-I like it.
-Fabulous. Let's check out the kitchen.
We've got quite a contemporary kitchen, here.
This is... Yes, contemporary.
This is fantastic, isn't it?
-I love it.
-I like it.
If you've got room for a couch in the kitchen,
it's got to be good, hasn't it?
-Exactly. And a dining table.
-This is just amazing me.
-I like it.
Through the kitchen you've got a massive utility room.
Huge, with storage. And you've got a wet room.
That's really useful.
-With the family, you need all the bathrooms you can get.
-You do, yes. It's perfect.
'Perfect. Now, there's a word I like.
'Let's see if we can get top marks upstairs, too.'
So, the barn has four bedrooms.
-This is the master.
You've got the beautiful beams, which I think are very attractive.
I like them again. They're not intrusive.
Good, good. You've got an L shape with the dressing area.
-That's a storage.
And you've got a fabulous en-suite.
'As well as the en-suite, off the hallway is a family bathroom.
'Bedroom-wise, there is a double, a single and a box room.
'So, by no means the six bedrooms requested.
'However, let's not forget we have a whole other property to check out - the farmhouse.'
'It's currently used as a self-contained holiday let
'and is totally separate from the barn.'
So, here's your second property, the farmhouse,
which is pretty big.
As you walk in, if you turn to the right,
you've got a fully fitted kitchen.
This is your drawing room-come-dining room.
It's absolutely wonderful. This is additional to everything else.
And why don't I hate these beams?
I really like them.
We've converted you!
Yes. I'm a converted beamer, I really like them.
I really, really like it. I do.
Would you be interested to hear what the income is on this?
The lady does it about five months of the year.
But some are just odd weekends here and there.
So it's not a full-time business.
She makes about £12,000 a year.
-So if ever you want six months without family coming down...
-Well, that had better not happen!
-It is certainly worth considering.
So you've got four bedrooms in that building. You've got three in here.
Enough for the family. So you've got one on this level, two upstairs with a family bathroom.
'So, not only is this property beautiful,
'it could be a nice little earner too,
'along with the proceeds from the farmland acreage.
'And there's still garden left for Julia and Philip to just enjoy.'
So, you've got your 30 acres,
including this lovely little bit of lawn here.
So you could have some flowerbeds and everything here?
-It's really, really beautiful.
-So, who wants to go first?
-Do you want to go first this time?
-Well, I will, but we've not been very good at this, have we?
-We've been pretty awful at guessing.
-But this house is beautiful.
It ticks all our boxes and a few boxes we didn't even know we had.
This one's 700, more than.
Do you think so?
I think it's top side of 700, yes.
The current asking price for both of these properties and all this land -
What?! I just can't believe it.
I'm just over the moon. I really am.
That is really, really lovely.
Oh, you're getting a bit emotional!
I really was...sorry. That has really, really shocked me.
-We had got it way over our budget.
-We really had.
Do you both fancy a second look, perhaps?
Second look? Yeah. Yeah, I'm there.
Go and have a continuous look.
-I'll catch up with you in a while.
What a reaction and what a surprise.
They were both getting really emotional
when I said that figure to them.
Well, I'm just going to let them browse for as long as they like.
'On the market for £590,000 this property is not only
'60,000 under budget, but it's two houses for the price of one.
'The barn comes with two reception rooms,
'a modern kitchen/diner and four bedrooms.
'While the self-contained holiday house has a further three bedrooms,
'all set in a breathtaking 30 acres of land.
'We were taking a bit of a risk with this house.
It needs no work, it has beams and a barn conversion wasn't the period property they had in mind
'but it just goes to show,
'when you're house hunting it's worth exploring all avenues.
'I get the feeling this property has just jumped to the top of the contender list.'
When we learnt the price,
I mean, Julie's reaction set me off and it was just unbelievable.
It's a superb property and I really didn't think
we'd get something like this for that sort of price.
I cannot think of one negative point to this property whatsoever.
It has absolutely everything I have ever wanted.
It is the property for me, I love it.
I would go to the estate agent this afternoon and buy it.
I just absolutely love it to bits, it's fantastic.
-So are you happy with that second look?
I'm going to have to drag you away now.
Well, you certainly will have to drag us!
Now usually on Escape To The Country,
we send our househunters off to enjoy some countryside pursuits,
but earlier in the week, they did something rather different.
We sent Philip and Julia to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines,
the only Roman gold mines still in existence in the UK,
to meet up with Sandra Parry and hopefully make like the Romans and strike gold.
We're in a Roman open-cast pit that was mined out 2,000 years ago.
If you could imagine that this was 40 feet lower than what it is now.
What they were actually looking for was this, this is the quartz.
This is where the gold comes from. Thin little pieces of gold, not much bigger than a grain of sand.
And how do you know there's gold in that?
They would crush it very, very fine like dust
and then they would continuously wash it so all the little gold flakes would fall to the bottom
and there to catch it would be a sheep's fleece.
They would pick the fleece up out of the water and then dry it
and set it alight or burn it in a furnace
-and there would be left just the gold.
-And how much gold did they get out of this, the Romans?
They reckoned, when they were here 2,000 years ago,
about three-quarters of a tonne, which is nearly one of these tramfuls.
-Three-quarters of a tonne!
-Out of all of this hillside.
The hillside they took out is about 500,000 tonnes of rock.
Many of the quartz veins ran deep underground
and where they led, the Romans followed,
using slaves to tunnel, and once down there,
many wouldn't see daylight again.
How did they dig it out?
Well, when they found a nice big quartz seam, they would actually
make a fire against the quartz and kept it burning for several days
and that would make the rock go very, very hot.
By throwing water on it, it would crack
and they used a small pickaxe called a gad and they would gad it out.
-It was all done by pickaxe?
-What, the whole of this was dug out by hand?
-This was all been done by the Romans, yes.
Time to head back up to ground level, there's some gold digging to be done.
Panning is the easiest and most common technique for those wanting to get rich quick.
Well, what you have to do is put your bowl in the water
and then scoop up some of the gravel, by shaking it around
and tipping the water off, you have ridges on the bowl
and then if you just keep shaking it round,
you'll get all the little shiny bits in there.
-So if I find some, can I keep it?
-Yes, you can.
-I've got the lucky pan. Look at this.
-That's a brilliant piece!
It's a nice nugget, but I don't think
it will quite stretch to a deposit on a property.
But not to worry, as they can always come back.
It's time now to mix things up a bit
by showing Philip and Julia our mystery house.
They've been extremely receptive to everything we've shown them so far.
Let's hope this property really floats their boat.
We know Julia loves the sea,
so we're travelling back to Pembrokeshire
and heading to the estuary town of Neyland.
Situated on the northern shore of the Milford Haven waterway,
Leyland grew up around Brunel's railway.
Completed in 1856, it resulted in a population burst
from 200 to over a 1,000 in just five years.
A marina has now taken the place of the railway terminus
which closed down in the '60s.
Our mystery house has almost a birds-eye view of all the boats.
So, guys, here is your mystery property.
Julia, you always said you wanted to be by the sea.
-You're not going to get much closer than that.
-It's a castle!
-It's your turret.
-It's a turret. I could be a princess.
-You're going to be Rapunzel.
No, I'm sorry, that's quite impressive.
It's got a lot of character.
-It certainly has.
-I bet you weren't expecting something like that?
You see, the mystery property never fails to deliver, does it?
It's exactly that, something different.
-It looks fascinating.
There's a lot about it, isn't there?
-Yeah. So, are you ready?
-Oh, I'm ready!
Ready and waiting, off we go.
'Philip and Julia are obviously intrigued and I can't wait to see what they'll make of the inside.
'Because, at just four years old, the mystery house is very much a modern home
'and it's rather topsy-turvy with living accommodation upstairs to maximise the amazing estuary views.
'So that's where we're going to start.'
What a splendid view it is. It is absolutely tremendous.
-All those boats out there and the boats here in the yard.
-It's lovely, isn't it? It really is.
-It's gorgeous, it really is. A beautiful view.
I knew the scenery would be a hit.
Fingers crossed the house will live up to the vista.
So we've come through the dining hall. I wanted to bring you straight into this room.
This is a lovely-sized room, isn't it? It really is, yeah. I like this.
Very much like a villa with the stone floors and the openness, yeah.
Yeah, it is, very much like a villa.
-Yes, this is rather charming, I like this.
And it flows nicely into the kitchen.
It's a good kitchen.
It's beautifully fitted out, yeah.
You've got the granite worktops, great range. That and the fridge are going to stay.
So you've seen the first level, let's take you up one to the crow's nest.
It's not often I can say that in a property. Back this way.
'It doesn't have period character
'but this house is definitely characterful.'
So here we are, Rapunzel's tower.
The crow's nest. I'll let you name it.
-This is lovely, isn't it?
-It's a fabulous room.
-It's so unusual!
The views again, it's great.
-That's right, we come up here for views over the estuary.
As you can see it's currently an office
but you could easily convert this into a bedroom.
-Oh, yes, yes. It wouldn't take very much at all.
-A very fun bedroom.
I think it would, yeah.
Whoever got this one would really enjoy it.
'I'm glad they like that idea because, as it stands,
'this property doesn't meet their hefty bedroom requirements.
'However, will they like a little project? I do have a solution.
'As above the double garage, and accessed via the dining room, is a self-contained holiday annex.'
So, you walk through the bedroom...
-You've also got a shower room through there.
This is the living part.
-That's fine, isn't it?
-It's a good size for a sitting room.
-A good size.
-Windows are smaller but then it's a smaller room, isn't it?
Through there you've got the kitchen and the dining area.
There's the front door, so you have a separate entrance so you can lock that.
They can be completely self-contained.
If you want to open it up and use it, it's so easy to do.
-Oh, yeah, very easy.
I'm going to take you back downstairs now to look at one of the bedrooms.
'It looks like Julia and Philip are taking everything on board but is it really floating their boat?
'Hmm, I'm not sure.'
Here's the master bedroom.
Oh, that's fine, isn't it? That's a lovely room.
It's a good size and you've got the archway through there
to what looks like a dressing area with lots of wardrobes.
Very generous dressing area, generous wardrobes.
It's a very good-sized room.
It's a double bed and still plenty of room.
And it leads through into a wonderful en-suite.
Double sink, showers...
You've got another two bedrooms on this level.
-And you've got the family bathroom as well. So you've got the crow's nest.
-And the holiday let accommodation.
-So that makes a total of five.
-I know, ideally, you wanted six.
-I did, yes.
-It might be worth considering that double garage.
-It might be worth changing one of those into a bedroom.
-That's a good idea, yes.
-That's a thought, yes.
-Shall we go back outside?
The all-important outside space.
I have an admission.
This property doesn't have a hidden half acre anywhere,
but will proximity to the water make them rethink their wish list?
What you see around you is what you get.
That would be a problem, I think, for us. It's a splendid house.
It's got the space.
It's got a lot of the features we're looking for but an essential for us, really, are the animals.
It is an impressive house but the big question now is, what does it cost?
It's the last time I'm going to ask you.
Well, we've been wrong by a long way quite a few times.
Well, that doesn't matter, it makes it a bigger surprise.
Given the location, given that it's an absolutely splendid house.
For people who are looking for this, it puts it at the top end of our budget,
-so I would guess around £650,000.
You're right, yeah. I'm going to go a bit higher because the decor of the place is brilliant.
That view is amazing.
-So, 675 I'd go for.
-Current asking price...
That's stunning, isn't it? That's amazing.
I don't believe it. The price of property is just so fantastic here.
I mean it has come down by £90,000 because they are keen to sell.
-But it is a very unusual, unique house.
Yes, it's a splendid house.
Why don't you go and have another wander around, enjoy those views.
-I'll see you in a little while.
Under budget at £535,000,
the mystery house is a unique and sizable modern home.
It has three bedrooms,
an open plan living area with contemporary kitchen,
a very interesting study and a self-contained one-bedroom annexe.
There's plenty of potential for Philip and Julia to rejig it
to suit their needs
but I don't think even those stunning estuary views
will make up for the lack of land.
It's billy goats not boats that'll win the day here.
It's a splendid house. It's beautifully decorated.
Its position is just absolutely wonderful.
You couldn't get better views than this.
This actually helped us to realise that our dream of the country was really what we were after
and although we like the house and the location,
it said to us it's not for us to live.
Right, guys, we've got to find you somewhere quiet.
The two of you, on your own, to gather your thoughts and think about all these properties.
This is a huge move for Philip and Julia.
They now have a lot to discuss.
The time has come for Philip and Julia to make a decision about which of the properties they may go for.
Now, I think it's rather obvious they're rather smitten with one,
so let's find out.
-Julia and Philip, we've had a great few days, haven't we?
-Oh, yes, we've had a lovely time.
We've seen some amazing properties, so shall we kick off with our first one?
That Georgian lodge. It was rather elegant.
It was just absolutely splendid. Such grandeur, it was heaven.
The detail, the architecture, the bits and pieces, it was really special, wasn't it?
Yeah, we weren't at all disappointed.
An awful lot of work was needed to be done and so...
-I mean, we'd have to take that into account.
-We'd have to.
You wanted a project, but that would have been a mammoth one.
It would have been a great project to do,
but mammoth is the right word, yes.
We looked at a yellow cottage,
an old cottage that had been...
Well, it had had some super extensions done either side.
We thought that the property was excellent.
There were a few things we'd have liked to do with it
because there were some things that could be changed around
but they were all good and we liked it.
It was large and had the land. Lots of possibilities.
So a new day and a new property, or should I say two because we had
the converted barn and the farmhouse next door.
-Those properties were wonderful.
-We really loved them.
30 acres, that's silly, isn't it? 30 acres.
-We hadn't dreamed of 30 acres.
When we went inside, just the way it was done was perfect.
Another thing that Julia and I have said to each other we'd never, ever consider are beams.
The beams worked in the property.
-Beams... I'm very pleased you liked the beams.
-They just looked right.
We loved them, they really were, it was a revelation.
Very taken with that property?
-Very taken. Very taken indeed.
-Just a smidge.
Oh, I'm on the edge of my seat!
I'm not going to ask you yet because we've still got to discuss the mystery house.
Ah, the mystery house. I liked the house.
The mystery house was very well done.
-There's a but...
-There is a but.
-And that is we felt that we would prefer to be there on holiday...
..than live there.
So, what is the next step? I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this.
The next step, oh, well, over to my financial adviser, I think.
-Well, I've already contacted the estate agent this afternoon.
I've asked the estate agent for the property with the farmhouse and barn.
To send us the details and we will be putting in an offer.
It ticked every single box and a few more.
It's our idea of heaven.
-Listen, I'm delighted for the both of you but also for all your children
as well who I know are going to be coming to stay very, very quickly.
-Keep in touch, and let us know how you get on.
-Delighted, thank you both so much.
-Thank you, it's been wonderful.
-It's been a fantastic time.
What great news and for me it's been a real treat showing this lovely couple
properties in this beautiful part of Wales.
Interestingly we showed them houses that they wouldn't even have
considered before and, lo and behold, they're actually going to put an offer on one of them.
So we wish Julia and Philip all the very best.
See you next time on Escape To The Country.
I'm delighted to report Philip and Julia have had their offer accepted
on the converted barn and they can't wait to finalise the deal.
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Nicki Chapman helps a couple who are seeking an impressive house to retire to in South Wales. There's a healthy budget of £650,000 but a big wish list to go with it. The buyers are after a large period home with six bedrooms to accommodate their five children when they visit. Good reception rooms, a sizeable kitchen and at least half an acre of land are also musts.