Buckinghamshire Escape to the Country


Buckinghamshire

Property series. Alistair Appleton helps a couple find a character home in Buckinghamshire with at least half an acre of land to keep some goats.


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Transcript


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I'm in a county which, in the 17th century,

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was home to one of the greatest English poets,

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famous for his epic poem pitting Satan against his creator in a fiery battle of wills.

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Find out where I am for this devilishly good edition of Escape To The Country in just a moment.

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Today, we're helping a couple realise their dream of a rural lifestyle.

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Maybe a donkey as well we could squeeze in here somewhere, yeah.

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We'll be viewing some truly stunning homes,

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but we have a challenge on our hands.

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I quite liked barns, but he put me off of them. Ah!

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-I'm not certain what I do want. I'm hoping I'll know it when I see it.

-So, will we ever find it?

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Today, I'm in Buckinghamshire

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and this cottage is where the visionary poet, John Milton, came to escape the plague in 1665.

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In his time, he was more famous for being a politician

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with his outspoken views of freedom of the press,

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but nowadays he's mostly remembered for his epic poem,

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Paradise Lost, which he finished in this building.

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And in that poem, he describes Paradise as a happy rural seat

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of various view, which is as good as any description of Buckinghamshire.

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Waxing lyrical, I would say there are a cornucopia

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of countryside vistas in this county of 726 square miles,

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which is quite remarkable considering its proximity to London.

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Situated northwest of the capital and surrounded by Hertfordshire,

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Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire,

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Bucks is one of nine home counties

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and is prize commuter-belt territory.

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It's even on the tube line.

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The south is dominated by the Chiltern Hills,

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an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

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and to the north is the flat arable landscape of the Aylesbury Vale.

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Whichever direction you take,

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it won't be long before you come across a beautifully preserved market town

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or a quintessentially English village brimming with thatches,

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brick and flint cottages, Georgian manors and Victorian farmhouses.

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From Noel Gallagher to Cilla Black, many celebrities call it home,

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but the wage packets of the stars might come in handy if you want to live here

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as the average cost of a detached property in Bucks is 40% over the national average.

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I've been trying to work out

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why Buckinghamshire is so incredibly expensive.

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It has good rail links into London, a very good grammar school system and low crime rate,

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but it also, I've discovered, has a very healthy attitude towards its green spaces.

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The county council here spends half a million pounds every year

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tending its forests and byways

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and they have very strict regulations about planning.

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So you're not likely to be able to get land to build new builds.

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When you do buy your house, it'll be surrounded by unspoiled landscape.

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Take a look at what's on offer.

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If you're after a very big house in the country,

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check out this five-bedroom, 17th-century manor in Dunton.

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Grade II listed, it's packed with original features

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and you get plenty of space, with two reception rooms,

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a new farmhouse kitchen, and 1.5 acres of land.

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You'll need an equally big budget to buy it -

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it's on the market for £1.35 million.

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For those with slightly less ambitious property dreams,

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how about this Grade II listed four-bedroomed farmhouse

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in the village of Bierton?

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£639,000 will purchase two reception rooms, a Shaker-style kitchen

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and one-third of an acre.

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If you've always fancied a thatch,

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then this traditional brick and flint two-bedroomed cottage could be just the ticket.

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Situated in the heart of a popular Chilterns village,

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it offers cosy country living inside and out

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and could be yours for the more modest sum of £340,000.

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You see, Buckinghamshire is bursting with beautiful properties,

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but at a price, and will they be beautiful enough for our buyers today? Let's meet them.

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Storage company MD Chris and wife Jenny have lived

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in their four-bedroomed modern house in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire for the last five years.

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But an expanding business and a new warehouse in Haddenham

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means the opportunity has arisen for them to make a move to the country.

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We'd like to move to the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders

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because it's near to where we're currently working.

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We'd like to have 10 to 15 minutes travelling time from where we have the new warehouse.

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However, this move doesn't just come down to logistics.

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It's a dream of mine to keep goats but we haven't enough space here.

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When we move, what I would like would be

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-at least a quarter of an acre plot where we can have a lovely, tranquil, park-like setting.

-Yes.

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It would be great to get away from the traffic noise we've got here.

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So a big garden for Jenny and her goat herd will be a top priority,

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but what about the house itself?

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I think we're quite open to looking at everything.

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This is a fairly new house and, although we have enjoyed it,

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I would like something with more character.

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Yes, character on the outside, contemporary on the inside.

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Up until recently they've shared their home with Jenny's daughters from a previous relationship.

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However, now they've flown the nest,

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Chris and Jenny want to downsize from four to at least two bedrooms.

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But what else is on the property shopping list?

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Currently we've got a spacious kitchen, which we love, with a separate dining room

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which was a good idea at the time, but now we've decided

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we'd really like more of a kitchen/diner to have a more sociable kind of setting.

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Busy MD Chris has more than just leisure requirements though.

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When we move, ideally, what I'd like to have

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would be an outbuilding that could be converted into an office

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so that I can separate my personal life from my work life.

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So we're downsizing the house and up-scaling the garden.

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But after months of trawling the property market,

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it's a combination that has so far eluded Chris and Jenny.

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We've both got lots of things that we think we're looking for in a house, maybe too much.

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We're not going to get everything, we realise that.

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The main thing is a big garden, but we don't need a big house,

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but it's difficult to find a small house with a big garden. That's our problem really.

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Well, if there are compromises to be made,

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who will make the final decision?

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Where I tend to be sometimes unsure and negative about things,

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he balances things out by being more positive and making quick decisions

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where I'll sit on the fence for ages, thinking, "I don't know, shall we?"

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But before they can make the move,

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Chris and Jenny need to know how much they'll have to spend in Bucks,

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so we've invited a local agent to value their house.

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This is a four-bedroomed detached house, presented in very good order.

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Very well positioned in a quiet cul-de-sac,

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yet moments away really from several transport links including motorways.

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I'd value this property at £500,000.

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With that in mind, what's the final figure for their country escape?

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Our budget for the new house is £600,000.

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Two things are ringing alarm bells for me now.

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One is the ten-mile radius around Haddenham,

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one of the best addresses in Buckinghamshire.

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And the second is small house, big garden

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because, even though they've got a big budget,

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Chris and Jenny are going to have to make some compromises.

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They want three bedrooms,

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but they also want space in the garden for their goats

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and maybe an outhouse for Chris's office.

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All for £600,000 in Buckinghamshire? Hmm.

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It's a narrow property search area we have on our hands

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around Haddenham on the Oxfordshire/Bucks border.

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It's just as well they've said they're open to anything

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which means we've managed to line up a fantastic array

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of period homes and gardens to view.

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I won't reveal the price tags until the end of the tours

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and today's mystery house is a project and a half,

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but will it have them plotting out a future here?

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So welcome to Buckinghamshire.

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It's not a huge journey you've been on to get here

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because you're moving from Hertfordshire.

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Yes, it's not too far at all, is it? We are quite familiar with it

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-because we're often popping in and out, aren't we?

-We are.

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And I know you're moving here largely because of your work

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and because of the storehouses.

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Do you have a great love for Buckinghamshire?

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Yes, we find it very fascinating countryside.

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-We like the hills and dips and...

-The Chilterns?

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Yes, the Chilterns, the views. Very nice.

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-Because you're sort of downsizing.

-Uh huh.

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-Sort of making your life a bit simpler.

-Mmm-hmm.

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But you'd still want some land... You want to breed some animals?

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Yes, well, not breed. We'd like to keep some goats, some pygmy goats.

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So we're looking for a smaller house with a larger garden, but we know it's going to be difficult.

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Good, as long as you're braced for some compromises ahead.

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It is a beautiful county, there's some lovely properties, so shall we go and find them?

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Yes, lovely.

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Chris and Jenny realise they have an ambitious wish list.

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For their £600,000, they want a character home

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but with contemporary styling.

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They need two to three bedrooms, a large open-plan kitchen/diner

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and one other reception room.

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Not a huge house, but with Jenny's plans to keep goats,

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they want a decent garden, at least half an acre.

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It's a tricky combination. Which of the criteria,

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if any, will they be prepared to let go of?

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Not really the land because I do want a large garden to have my goats, so that's a must.

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We could compromise on the quality of the building itself.

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As long as the structure's sound,

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we're quite happy to do quite a lot of work internally to remodel it to exactly what we want.

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Are you a bit handy with the renovating?

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I've done quite a bit of work on my houses in the past.

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So when you say a bit of renovating, how much?

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I mean, are you prepared to start from scratch?

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Yes, we're prepared to do quite a major renovation project

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to the building as long as the main structure of the building is sound.

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But then we're quite happy to tear down some walls

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and remodel that internally and then rebuild the extensions if need be.

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-So just little things really!

-Just little things.

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Hopefully our first property won't require such drastic measures.

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It's situated in Weston Turville

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which, at just 10 miles from Haddenham,

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will be an easy commute for Chris.

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It's one of Buckinghamshire's busier villages

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with a full run of amenities and period properties aplenty,

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from Victorian terraces to thatched cottages.

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Surrounded by pastoral scenery,

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it's easy to escape into the county's beautiful countryside.

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Our first house is situated back off the main village road,

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but it's a charming property that also has the all-important land,

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so we just had to show it to them. Let's see what they make of it.

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Well, this is the house.

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Originally it was a 1920s' house, quite small.

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It was extended in the '50s and the present owner's been here 20 years

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and has done everything you can see.

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He's re-clad it, put these lovely hung tiles on,

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new windows, double glazing, put a porch,

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a lot of work. What do you think?

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I personally am not a fan of the hung tile effect on houses

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although this fits for this particular property.

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Jenny, what do you think? You've got puzzled...

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I'm quite interested to get inside and have a look.

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-That sounds like you're withholding judgment.

-I am.

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-Because you don't like the outside?

-Not over keen, but...

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-What don't you like?

-It's just so close to the road.

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-And in terms of period in property, I mean. 1920s, is that OK?

-Mmm, yes.

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It's probably later than we're actually looking for.

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We're looking at Georgian, Edwardian, Victorian.

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You may well be looking Georgian, with half an acre...

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That's going to be quite tricky to find around here. Yes.

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It would be a big house as well, whereas we want the small, yes.

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So maybe Georgian? Let's have a look inside.

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Well, when Jenny claps eyes on the garden,

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I have a feeling that road may all but be forgotten.

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However, first the house.

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Although it's 20th century,

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I'm hoping it will deliver on space and room dimensions.

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In you come. This is the hall that they extended out.

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This is the sitting room

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and this would have been the extension, do you see the beam here?

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-That's an RSJ they would have extended out.

-Right.

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-And they've turned it into this big sitting room.

-It's a nice size room.

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It's a nice comfortable size.

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Unfortunately, you can, even though it is good double glazing,

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you can still hear the traffic noise.

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Yes, if you wanted the windows open in the summer, I think you'd get the traffic.

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Do you spend a lot of time at home watching telly?

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How do you use your home?

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-Yes, we spend a lot of time in the sitting room, don't we?

-Yes, we do.

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-We will be spending more time in the kitchen/diner.

-When we have one.

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That comfortable room, when we have one. At the moment, we've got a separate dining room.

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-Which we don't use, do we?

-Which we don't really use.

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Well, let's go and explore that area here. OK.

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There is a little study that's being used as a music room there.

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It looks out to the front. This is the kitchen.

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-Right, well, are you taking it all in?

-Yes.

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I quite like it, but I know Chris is going to hate it.

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-Why are you going to hate it, Chris?

-It's a country kitchen.

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-You don't like country kitchens?

-Ordinarily, no,

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but I do actually like the style of this.

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So what is it you don't you usually like about country kitchens?

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-Big taps, butler sinks, wooden worktops.

-You've got some very specific tastes!

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You don't like hung tiles, big taps.

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That's quite strange, what about you, Jenny?

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Although I do quite like this, it isn't what I'd choose, so...

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-What would you choose?

-I'm not exactly certain. I'm hoping I'll know it when I see it.

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'Ah, that old chestnut.

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'Fingers crossed, we'll come across it.

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'What a pity this kitchen isn't to Jenny's taste

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'because it would be a crying shame to pull it out and refit it.

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'Just down the hallway is a separate dining room which could be used as a spacious study for Chris.

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'But that's it for the ground floor, let's turn our attention upstairs.'

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This is the master bedroom. It's a quite conventional room.

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I think you also have this image of a master bedroom that's probably not this, is it?

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Well, no. I am very lucky, I have got a very large bedroom at the moment

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with a lovely en-suite so I don't really want to...

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-Downsize.

-Yes.

-Well it does have an en-suite.

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Oh, right?

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-Through here. Do you want to go and check that?

-OK.

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Ah, when Chris sees this loo...

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-Agh!

-What's wrong with the loo?

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-High-cistern toilets. Don't like them.

-You are so fussy! High-cistern toilets, tiny taps...

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I've never liked that.

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I can't take him anywhere!

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Yes, it would be too small for what we're looking for in an en-suite.

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You're looking for a giant master suite with a giant en-suite?

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We're looking for a large bedroom with an area where you could go to

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where one side would be a dressing room,

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the other side would be a normal family-sized bathroom.

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So when you say you're downsizing, you're not actually downsizing.

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-The number of bedrooms - we could do with just two.

-Oh, I see. OK.

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This house hunting is turning into quite a voyage of discovery.

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Jenny and Chris may not know exactly what they want,

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but they're very clear about what they don't want.

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However, there could be a solution to extending the master bedroom,

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as there is a further double bedroom

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and the dividing wall isn't structural, it's just a partition.

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There is an option here that you could knock this through.

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You could put a door at the top of the stairs

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and make this your giant, massive master suite with a fantastic en-suite.

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-Yes, could work.

-Take away that evil high cistern.

-With small taps.

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-With small taps.

-The small taps in the kitchen.

-OK.

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Giant taps in the bathroom!

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Sadly no gargantuan taps in the family bathroom,

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but along the hall are two further good-size bedrooms.

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However, for Jenny, the garden is equally important, if not more so,

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than the house itself and, at half an acre, this one should be spot on.

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There's even an added extra hiding behind the garage.

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Dining area and...

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-Right.

-A swimming pool.

-..and a swimming pool.

-Right, OK.

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When we were seeing bits of the garden,

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we were thinking, "Where would we put the goats?"

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One of the thoughts was behind the garage, but they would be swimming!

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-A sunken goat garden!

-So the swimming pool's not a big plus?

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-No, not at all.

-Not for us, no.

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The rest of the garden is absolutely fabulous.

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Well, there's plenty more of it and more space for your goats.

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Well, that surprised me.

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I can usually rely on a pool to get a big reaction,

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but no, in this case, space for the goats is the top priority.

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You said you wanted some land and it certainly goes on.

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-This is the end with this new fencing here.

-Right.

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-And he did actually used to have goats here.

-Really?

-Right, OK. Certainly enough room for goats

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and maybe a donkey as well could squeeze in here somewhere, yeah.

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-See? More land, more animals.

-Definitely. Yes.

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This piece here is certainly big enough for two pygmy goats.

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Huge potential, this garden, it really has.

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-It's a great garden, isn't it?

-Wonderful, yes!

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This is what I mean, when you're here, the road is a distant memory.

0:18:040:18:08

-Mmm, true.

-The plot of land goes a long way back.

-Yes.

0:18:080:18:11

How much do you think this is worth in very expensive Buckinghamshire?

0:18:110:18:16

Um, I guess maybe £580,000?

0:18:160:18:20

What do you think?

0:18:200:18:22

I would say, because there is the pool and because it's finished,

0:18:220:18:27

probably the upper end of the budget, £595,000.

0:18:270:18:30

-OK, so this is on the market at £650,000.

-Right.

-OK.

0:18:310:18:36

So, we don't usually show properties that are way over,

0:18:380:18:41

but in terms of this market, I kind of wanted to show you something

0:18:410:18:47

that sort of came up to scratch but is just...

0:18:470:18:51

This is what you have to pay to get all this round here, finished in this way.

0:18:510:18:55

It is the finished article and it's got the pool.

0:18:550:18:57

Have a walk around and see where compromises could be made.

0:18:570:19:01

-I'll see you out the front.

-Lovely, thanks.

-OK.

0:19:010:19:03

Despite this hung-tile house being over budget at £650,000,

0:19:030:19:07

it has been on the market for 14 months

0:19:070:19:11

so there should be a little room for negotiation.

0:19:110:19:13

It has the large kitchen/diner Jenny wanted,

0:19:130:19:16

although maybe not the right style. It has four bedrooms

0:19:160:19:19

which could be knocked through to create two big rooms

0:19:190:19:22

and the half-acre garden is perfect for goats.

0:19:220:19:24

And for some, there's the added bonus of a swimming pool.

0:19:240:19:28

So with some re-jigging, could Jenny and Chris make it work for them?

0:19:280:19:31

I love the kitchen and I love the way it flows onto the garden.

0:19:330:19:36

Really nice.

0:19:360:19:38

It is nice but I think we want the dining area...is the bit that flows.

0:19:380:19:42

Yes, we did want the table to look into the garden while we're eating

0:19:420:19:45

-and it's the other way round.

-And the dining room would be wasted

0:19:450:19:49

-being at the other end.

-Yes, same as we're doing now - we don't use it.

0:19:490:19:52

I love the garden. I love it so much I'm trying to make the house work.

0:19:520:19:57

So I've really got to step back and think again

0:19:570:20:01

because it's really having a big effect, how wonderful the garden is.

0:20:010:20:05

So I've got to do some thinking about that.

0:20:050:20:07

It's fantastically decorated, we can move straight in.

0:20:070:20:11

The garden is absolutely fabulous, it's perfect.

0:20:110:20:15

The unfortunate part about the house is the road noise.

0:20:150:20:18

We wouldn't be able to live with it, but overall, you know,

0:20:180:20:22

there's lots of bits about the house that we like,

0:20:220:20:25

but there's too many that would outweigh.

0:20:250:20:27

-Hello, all done?

-Hi, yes, thank you very much.

0:20:290:20:32

OK, pull the door to and we'll go.

0:20:320:20:35

With a new warehouse near Haddenham,

0:20:400:20:42

Chris and Jenny are well acquainted with the area

0:20:420:20:46

but, keen to explore further afield, earlier in the week, they visited

0:20:460:20:50

the picturesque market town of Old Amersham

0:20:500:20:53

where local historian Anthony Toufaux was on-hand to give them a guided tour.

0:20:530:20:58

The whole area is a conservation area. The reason is that

0:20:580:21:01

there are a lot of 17th and 18th century buildings here.

0:21:010:21:04

But going back in Georgian times, before planning rules came along,

0:21:040:21:08

a lot of these houses along here, which were medieval houses,

0:21:080:21:11

they added on to the front these Georgian facades.

0:21:110:21:15

They wanted the big windows bringing more light in,

0:21:150:21:19

and also they were fashionable.

0:21:190:21:20

It gave the right impression to the neighbours.

0:21:200:21:23

Keeping up with the Joneses it may have been,

0:21:230:21:26

but it's this wealth of historic and unusual architecture

0:21:260:21:30

that resulted in a conservation order

0:21:300:21:32

which has kept Amersham old town so perfectly preserved.

0:21:320:21:35

With its designer shops and delis, it's definitely a well-heeled place,

0:21:350:21:40

but it's a far cry from the busy commercial centre it would have been 300 years ago.

0:21:400:21:46

Located on a couple of vital trade routes and roads,

0:21:460:21:49

it was the first stop out of London

0:21:490:21:51

and a whole industry grew up to cater for over-night visitors.

0:21:510:21:55

The coaching inns are still here,

0:21:550:21:57

today serving up locally grown produce to Amersham's residents

0:21:570:22:00

and a couple have even played host to Hollywood,

0:22:000:22:04

appearing in the Brit-flick Four Weddings And A Funeral.

0:22:040:22:07

No time for the movies now though, we still need to find Jenny and Chris their dream home.

0:22:070:22:13

For our next property, we're heading to Gibraltar,

0:22:150:22:18

not the rocky outcrop off Spain,

0:22:180:22:20

it's a tiny hamlet just two miles from Haddenham,

0:22:200:22:23

which is where Chris and Jenny will go for supplies as well as work.

0:22:230:22:28

Haddenham's centrepiece has to be

0:22:280:22:30

its 13th-century church, village green and pond -

0:22:300:22:34

home to the famous Aylesbury duck.

0:22:340:22:36

It's a vibrant community with seven pubs, restaurants and a smattering of good old-fashioned shops.

0:22:360:22:42

The quiet lanes are home to a plethora of period properties

0:22:420:22:47

and if it all looks rather familiar, well, you may have spotted it

0:22:470:22:51

on more than one gentle-paced, Sunday night detective drama on TV.

0:22:510:22:54

But we're in the business of finding rural abodes,

0:22:540:22:57

not solving countryside crimes.

0:22:570:23:00

So it's off to Gibraltar for property two,

0:23:000:23:02

which is in a very quiet setting near the end of a no-through road,

0:23:020:23:05

so no passing traffic here.

0:23:050:23:07

This would have been a one-up,

0:23:070:23:09

or two one-up, one-down farmer's cottages

0:23:090:23:12

which have been knocked through together...

0:23:120:23:15

-Right.

-..and pretty heavily renovated 20 years ago.

0:23:150:23:18

-Right, OK.

-Let's have a look inside.

0:23:190:23:21

A somewhat muted response, but to find a smaller property

0:23:230:23:26

in a quiet location with a big garden is a tough challenge.

0:23:260:23:30

I think this 17th-century cottage fits the bill on those fronts.

0:23:300:23:34

In through the back door - country style - into the kitchen, also country style.

0:23:340:23:39

-Yes. Yes.

-What are your thoughts?

-Very snug.

-Very small.

0:23:400:23:45

Yes, but it's a small country cottage.

0:23:450:23:48

-I have to say, can't pretend that it isn't.

-No.

0:23:480:23:51

But again, we're looking in a very expensive part of the country,

0:23:510:23:55

so snugness might be the way forward.

0:23:550:23:57

Mind your head,

0:24:060:24:08

because here we go into the original building

0:24:080:24:11

which is, as you can see, quite low.

0:24:110:24:13

Low, right OK.

0:24:130:24:15

You're not banging your head, Jenny?

0:24:150:24:18

-No, it's just right for me, just, just.

-Jenny's fine.

0:24:180:24:21

So this is...they're using it as the dining room.

0:24:210:24:23

Obviously, it's next to the kitchen, but it could be used as anything.

0:24:230:24:26

I get the impression that you're not madly keen on this sort of property.

0:24:260:24:30

If I was going on holiday to the country,

0:24:300:24:32

I would adore to stay in something like this because it is amazing,

0:24:320:24:36

-but I don't think I'd like to live in it.

-So you're basically not looking for a period property?

-No.

0:24:360:24:41

-So you want something modern?

-Something more modern than this one.

0:24:410:24:45

-When people were taller.

-When people were taller.

0:24:450:24:49

It gets a little bit taller next door.

0:24:490:24:51

This is their sitting room, this is definitely higher.

0:24:530:24:58

-Yes, it's all right for you two, yes.

-Yes, definitely feeling more space.

0:24:580:25:03

Obviously, it's an old property but I think it's been done up in a very contemporary way.

0:25:030:25:08

It's light colours, there's no horse brasses

0:25:080:25:11

and they've got this beautiful inglenook,

0:25:110:25:14

a proper inglenook where you can sit on either side.

0:25:140:25:17

-Very nice.

-And this gives off buckets of heat.

-I can imagine, yes.

0:25:170:25:21

-In winter, it's a real roaring fire.

-It's a nice cosy, small room.

0:25:210:25:25

It's not such a bad size for a living room if you don't need to get around tables, chairs

0:25:250:25:30

and all the work in the kitchen. It's more of a... It's nice, yes.

0:25:300:25:34

The fire seems to have done the trick as they seem to be warming up to this property, ever so slightly.

0:25:340:25:39

So let's check out upstairs while the going is good.

0:25:390:25:42

New staircase, quite wide for a country cottage,

0:25:420:25:46

up into this landing area that was the bathroom they opened up.

0:25:460:25:52

Straight through into this little bedroom.

0:25:520:25:55

Wow, really cute, isn't it?

0:25:550:25:58

Yes. Lovely little bedroom.

0:25:580:26:01

And then you've got the bathroom which is also very charming.

0:26:010:26:05

Nice little study area and a very sweet bathroom.

0:26:080:26:12

Yes. It's different, very nice.

0:26:120:26:15

Very nice, lovely little window down there.

0:26:150:26:18

-Two...dual aspects.

-And there, yes, very nice.

0:26:180:26:21

They're going for this very kind of contemporary,

0:26:210:26:24

kind of boutique hotel type feel,

0:26:240:26:26

you know, this beautiful roll-top bath, light and bright.

0:26:260:26:30

So this is the only bathroom in the house.

0:26:300:26:33

Everything is scaled down,

0:26:330:26:35

-but you do have en-suite in your master bedroom.

-Ah!

0:26:350:26:41

-So this is the bedroom.

-Oh, right.

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

-Yes.

0:26:450:26:49

-The whole upstairs is really nice.

-Yes, because it's higher, isn't it?

0:26:490:26:53

-A much better feeling about the whole house, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:26:530:26:57

It's got more of a sense of space upstairs. And there's an en-suite?

0:26:570:27:00

-I say an en-suite, it's an en-suite toilet.

-Right.

0:27:000:27:03

-But you do have the bathroom next door.

-Yes, it's not too far to go.

0:27:030:27:08

-But you've really effectively only got two bedrooms.

-Mmm-hmm.

-Right.

0:27:080:27:13

Which could pose a problem.

0:27:130:27:15

Well, where there are problems we do like to provide solutions.

0:27:150:27:20

Chris and Jenny could remodel

0:27:200:27:23

the upper level of this house into their very own sleeping quarter with dressing room,

0:27:230:27:27

because out in the garden is a possible answer to guest bedroom and office space.

0:27:270:27:32

In you come, different change of tone here.

0:27:340:27:38

-Ah!

-Yes, what a nice surprise.

0:27:380:27:40

-Very nice surprise.

-Is this more your style?

-This is more our style.

0:27:400:27:45

-Could you think of using this?

-This could potentially be an office,

0:27:450:27:49

but I think it would be a wasted space for an office really.

0:27:490:27:54

There's space upstairs as well. Let's have a look at that.

0:27:540:27:57

Now I'm a bit confused, I thought Chris wanted an outside office.

0:27:570:28:01

Very cunning Swedish staircase leads you up into all this.

0:28:010:28:06

Ah, much better.

0:28:060:28:08

-It's quite a significant space, isn't it?

-It is.

0:28:100:28:13

-This could work very well as an office.

-I don't know what else we'd do with it.

0:28:130:28:17

It is difficult finding all...

0:28:170:28:19

You seem to have a very specific idea of what you want, and really not that massive a budget to get it.

0:28:190:28:25

So is there anything you would compromise on? You don't seem very compromise-ready.

0:28:250:28:30

We're quite... I think it's going to be a smaller garden.

0:28:300:28:33

-OK, that's good.

-To get a little more living space downstairs where you don't feel cramped.

0:28:330:28:38

Well, miniature goats don't take that much space.

0:28:380:28:41

Neither Jenny or her goats will have to compromise on outside space here

0:28:410:28:46

as this garden comes in at one-third of an acre.

0:28:460:28:51

You've got a lovely orchard

0:28:510:28:53

with some apples, plums, a pear tree.

0:28:530:28:56

-Great.

-Very nice, yes.

-It's a super garden.

0:28:560:28:59

It is a lovely garden.

0:28:590:29:01

It's a super spot.

0:29:010:29:03

I'm interested to know how much you think it costs, all this beauty?

0:29:030:29:07

£570,000, £580,000?

0:29:090:29:12

-I'd say probably £575,000.

-That's very interesting.

0:29:120:29:15

It's interesting what you've been saying about the property. It does really only have two bedrooms.

0:29:150:29:20

-It's on the market for £500,000.

-Oh, OK.

-So it's considerably under your budget

0:29:200:29:24

-and you'd have £100,000 to play with.

-But what would you do with it?

0:29:240:29:28

Being listed, it would be difficult to extend.

0:29:280:29:31

-These are all things to consider.

-Beautiful house though.

0:29:310:29:34

-Well, why don't you have a wander around?

-Right, right.

-See you later.

0:29:340:29:37

At £500,000, this cottage is under budget and has lots of options,

0:29:430:29:47

though they would have to seek planning consent for any changes they'd wish to make.

0:29:470:29:52

It's a beautiful country cottage as it is,

0:29:520:29:54

but it has potential to create a bigger kitchen/diner

0:29:540:29:58

and has two reception rooms and two bedrooms.

0:29:580:30:02

The converted garage delivers both Chris's office space

0:30:020:30:05

and a guest room and finally,

0:30:050:30:07

outside, Jenny's goats would have one-third of an acre to call home.

0:30:070:30:11

Is that enough to convince Chris and Jenny to rethink their wish list?

0:30:110:30:15

What would you do with the upstairs?

0:30:160:30:18

Well, the upstairs I think would be the office, yes.

0:30:180:30:21

-Maybe this could be a room for when the girls come and stay over.

-Yes.

0:30:210:30:25

-But we'd have to probably put a shower or something in as well.

-Yes.

0:30:250:30:30

It is a fantastic looking house if that's the sort of style you like,

0:30:300:30:34

but we're not really fans of the thatched cottage style

0:30:340:30:38

and the rooms are a little bit on the small side for us.

0:30:380:30:42

And although we're downsizing, what we're looking for

0:30:420:30:45

is large rooms but less of them. I don't think this would work for us.

0:30:450:30:49

Mmm, I really like this room. I think you've got more height

0:30:490:30:52

and it just gives a lovely feel to the room, doesn't it?

0:30:520:30:55

Yes, it's nice, it's sort of nice and cosy,

0:30:550:30:58

looking out both directions and the fireplace.

0:30:580:31:01

This is such a gorgeous quaint little cottage,

0:31:010:31:04

I'd love to come and stay here on holiday or to visit friends,

0:31:040:31:07

but I can't see living here would work for us.

0:31:070:31:09

Making a break with tradition, we'll leave through the front door.

0:31:090:31:14

Buckinghamshire has no shortage of places of interest

0:31:210:31:24

for Chris and Jenny to discover once they've made the move here.

0:31:240:31:28

But being a literary fan, I couldn't resist the opportunity

0:31:280:31:31

to take a proper look at the country escape

0:31:310:31:35

of 17th-century poet, John Milton. A museum since 1887,

0:31:350:31:38

today it's in the capable hands of curator, Edward Dawson.

0:31:380:31:42

-Good morning, Edward.

-Good morning!

-Lovely to meet you.

0:31:440:31:48

I feel I should say, "Hail!" or something in iambic pentameter!

0:31:480:31:51

Oh, I think we can let you off there.

0:31:510:31:53

-So this is Milton's cottage?

-It is indeed.

0:31:530:31:56

-His garden no less.

-Absolutely.

-What was he writing here?

0:31:560:31:59

He was writing probably the last two books of Paradise Lost

0:31:590:32:04

and then the inspiration for the sequel

0:32:040:32:07

also took place here in the cottage.

0:32:070:32:10

-Paradise Regained.

-Paradise Regained.

0:32:100:32:13

It's an inspiring property.

0:32:130:32:15

The cottage, built from an oak timber frame and red brick,

0:32:150:32:19

is a fine example of 16th-century Buckinghamshire architecture.

0:32:190:32:23

So exemplary in fact, it's one of approximately 100 cottages in the UK to have Grade I listed status.

0:32:230:32:29

And it's not just the house.

0:32:290:32:32

The garden's the only cottage garden in the Chilterns to be listed too.

0:32:320:32:36

And what are you doing to make the garden Miltonian?

0:32:360:32:41

Well, we plant out as many of the plants mentioned in his poetry

0:32:410:32:45

as we can through the seasons.

0:32:450:32:47

What would be an example of that?

0:32:470:32:49

Well, a famous plant that all the poets handled was the acanthus.

0:32:490:32:55

It's the plant of resurrection,

0:32:550:32:57

because this huge, massive, prickly plant

0:32:570:33:00

just disappears into the ground every season and reappears again.

0:33:000:33:04

Milton moved here from London in 1664 to escape the plague

0:33:050:33:10

and, despite living here for less than two years, the cottage is of paramount importance today

0:33:100:33:15

as it's his sole surviving residence.

0:33:150:33:18

All others were destroyed, either by the Great Fire of London or World War II,

0:33:180:33:22

and it's now home to the finest collection of Milton first editions.

0:33:220:33:27

-Where are we now?

-In Milton's study, possibly a study-bedroom

0:33:270:33:31

because he couldn't get upstairs.

0:33:310:33:33

Blind from the age of 44 and only a ladder.

0:33:330:33:36

So you can't ask a blind man to run up and down a ladder.

0:33:360:33:39

So how did he write? What was going on?

0:33:390:33:42

He used to rise at 4 o'clock in the morning,

0:33:420:33:45

40 or 50 lines of perfect iambic pentameter, locked in here, with corrections and reading over,

0:33:450:33:51

ready for dictation to the amanuensis,

0:33:510:33:55

he used the lovely word, Latin word for secretary, at 11 o'clock.

0:33:550:33:59

-And English language, does that owe much to Milton?

-It does indeed.

0:33:590:34:03

There are 630 words of Milton's.

0:34:030:34:06

He was the greatest neologist - it's called neology, the coining of words - in the English language.

0:34:060:34:11

Cambridge University did this exercise...

0:34:110:34:14

-Greater than Shakespeare?

-Shakespeare is in fourth place

0:34:140:34:17

behind the dictionary man Dr Johnson and John Donne.

0:34:170:34:21

-Crikey.

-Yes.

-So what's an example of a new Miltonian word?

0:34:210:34:25

Well, you use it every day, Alistair,

0:34:250:34:27

but I can offer you terrific,

0:34:270:34:29

and, of course pandemonium - Satan's headquarters in Paradise Lost.

0:34:290:34:34

Whether literature, architecture or horticulture is your bag,

0:34:340:34:39

there's plenty to take in at Milton's cottage.

0:34:390:34:42

In fact I'd go so far as to say, it's terrific.

0:34:420:34:45

Fingers-crossed the rest of our property search doesn't descend into pandemonium.

0:34:450:34:50

Well, it seems we've had more downs than ups today

0:34:540:34:57

so now Chris and Jenny have had time to reflect,

0:34:570:35:00

will they change their minds about either of our property offerings?

0:35:000:35:03

The first house we saw today was a fabulous house, wasn't it?

0:35:030:35:07

-Once you were inside.

-Yes, it was a nice house.

0:35:070:35:10

But on that road, there was a lot of noise.

0:35:100:35:13

The garden was absolutely fabulous, you know.

0:35:130:35:16

More than we'll probably ever see again.

0:35:160:35:18

It was an interesting surprise the swimming pool.

0:35:180:35:21

-But a waste on us because we'd never use a swimming pool.

-Yes.

0:35:210:35:24

OK, what about the second one, the thatched cottage?

0:35:240:35:27

The thatched cottage, I didn't like that one.

0:35:270:35:31

-Looked beautiful from the outside.

-It was a gorgeous little house, but the word little...

0:35:310:35:35

It didn't fit any of our room needs.

0:35:350:35:38

-Had a lovely garden though.

-It had a nice garden.

0:35:380:35:41

That's why we were there I think,

0:35:410:35:42

-because the garden was so...

-Nice long garden.

-Yes.

0:35:420:35:45

-Could we see the goats there though, in that garden?

-Possibly. Possibly.

0:35:450:35:49

Hopefully, tomorrow, there'll be some more surprises.

0:35:490:35:53

-It's certainly been an interesting experience.

-So here's to tomorrow.

0:35:530:35:57

Here's to tomorrow.

0:35:570:35:58

Chris and Jenny want to swap Herts for Bucks

0:36:050:36:09

and have a healthy budget of £600,000,

0:36:090:36:12

but in this county, that won't stretch far.

0:36:120:36:16

They want to be close to Haddenham where Chris works,

0:36:160:36:19

and would like a two-bedroom period house but with a super-size garden.

0:36:190:36:23

They know they can't have it all, so where will they compromise?

0:36:230:36:26

We'll just have to not have any guests!

0:36:260:36:29

Or will the mystery house have them making plans?

0:36:310:36:34

Day two and things are getting a little tricky.

0:36:360:36:39

On the one hand, I really admire Chris and Jenny

0:36:390:36:41

for sticking to their guns because £600,000 is a lot of money

0:36:410:36:45

and they deserve to get what they want.

0:36:450:36:47

On the other hand, what they want is a period property with land

0:36:470:36:51

with two big open plan rooms downstairs

0:36:510:36:53

and one massive bedroom upstairs.

0:36:530:36:55

But, back in the day they didn't build houses like that.

0:36:550:36:58

If they had big houses, they had eight rooms downstairs

0:36:580:37:01

and eight rooms upstairs and those cost millions of pounds

0:37:010:37:04

and we don't have that sort of money.

0:37:040:37:06

So, today we're going to have to change our tack.

0:37:060:37:09

It's become clear that big rooms,

0:37:100:37:13

but fewer of them, are our top priority for Chris and Jenny

0:37:130:37:16

so that's what we're going to deliver with our next property.

0:37:160:37:19

And for that we're popping over the border into Oxfordshire to Thame.

0:37:190:37:24

But Chris needn't worry, this vibrant market town

0:37:240:37:27

is just three miles west of Haddenham.

0:37:270:37:29

The well-maintained high street is home to a great mix of pubs,

0:37:290:37:33

family-run shops and architectural styles ranging from Tudor to Victorian,

0:37:330:37:38

all of which make it a popular postcode.

0:37:380:37:40

Our property is situated on the outskirts of town

0:37:400:37:43

on a quiet country lane in a very rural setting.

0:37:430:37:46

In fact, it's peace and quiet personified.

0:37:460:37:50

And we're looking at this property which as you can see is a barn.

0:37:520:37:56

Now this is what we're hoping might kind of answer some of your needs

0:37:560:37:59

since barns are, by nature, quite big and spacious and period.

0:37:590:38:04

What do you think about barns?

0:38:050:38:07

I quite like barns but he put me off them.

0:38:070:38:09

-Why's that?

-"Oh, we're not having a wooden barn."

0:38:090:38:13

But I do like the look of it and I love the setting, so I really want to have a look.

0:38:130:38:17

-Don't listen to him. Listen to me.

-OK.

0:38:170:38:21

That's our best reaction yet

0:38:210:38:24

and I'm glad because it's a truly impressive barn.

0:38:240:38:27

Dating from the 1600s, it's Grade II listed

0:38:270:38:29

and has all the interior space they've asked for.

0:38:290:38:32

Come inside to your very own grand hall.

0:38:340:38:39

Very nice.

0:38:410:38:43

Ceilings high enough?

0:38:440:38:46

-Yes.

-I don't think the ceilings could be higher.

0:38:460:38:50

You could be on a pogo stick and still manage not to bang your head.

0:38:500:38:54

-I love the oak.

-It's beautiful, isn't it?

-Very nice.

0:38:540:38:56

Wood in its natural state, it's beautiful.

0:38:560:39:00

-Can you imagine what you'd do here, Jenny?

-My mind is buzzing actually.

0:39:000:39:04

The present owners have partitioned this end of the barn and put in a false floor,

0:39:040:39:09

and then they've put the bedroom, that's the master bedroom up there, so you get views both ways.

0:39:090:39:14

Let's look upstairs so you can make sense of it.

0:39:140:39:17

It looks like the dimensions are going down well.

0:39:180:39:21

So this is the bedroom, the master bedroom.

0:39:260:39:30

Ah, interesting.

0:39:320:39:34

Now, it's not cavernously big,

0:39:340:39:36

but it does have all this huge expanse of view.

0:39:360:39:39

And you've got a little toilet in here, washroom.

0:39:410:39:46

This is why, even though it's not a massive space,

0:39:460:39:49

and it won't be a massive space, somehow it feels big

0:39:490:39:52

because you've got all that light and all that space.

0:39:520:39:55

-The height of the ceilings gives the whole feel.

-Yes.

-Let's see some more.

0:39:550:39:59

Let's see the kitchen.

0:39:590:40:01

Wow, Jenny is positively itching to see the rest,

0:40:010:40:03

so let's turn our attention to the kitchen.

0:40:030:40:07

It could do with some updating,

0:40:080:40:09

but then Jenny could create the kitchen/diner of her dreams,

0:40:090:40:12

although planning permission may be required.

0:40:120:40:15

What I'm thinking is that these walls are all thin and you've got a utility room

0:40:150:40:20

on the other side of this strange corridor that doesn't lead anywhere.

0:40:200:40:24

So the present owner was saying

0:40:240:40:26

that she would just knock out all of these walls and have one big space.

0:40:260:40:30

Right. OK.

0:40:300:40:32

You could either have a separate kitchen

0:40:320:40:34

or you could actually make it flow into that space there.

0:40:340:40:36

Possibly, yes.

0:40:360:40:38

So there's a lot of scope here. I would tend to just open out the whole space

0:40:380:40:43

and just make it one big open plan space and have a kitchen at the end.

0:40:430:40:47

Right. Yes, sounds like that could work.

0:40:470:40:50

Now, this is the stable block, what was the stable block.

0:40:500:40:54

It's converted into a chain of rooms. You've got a sitting room

0:40:540:40:59

and then a bedroom and then an en-suite, OK.

0:40:590:41:01

What might you use this for?

0:41:010:41:04

It seems too nice just to keep it for guests.

0:41:040:41:07

I like your thinking because I'd never sacrifice a nice room.

0:41:070:41:10

Yes, the oak here is just magnificent, I really love it.

0:41:100:41:14

This could probably work as the kitchen.

0:41:140:41:16

Take out the wall in the dining room and then it goes in to the garden.

0:41:160:41:20

But that would leave you no rooms for your guests.

0:41:200:41:23

We'd just have to not have any guests.

0:41:230:41:25

That's what I love about house hunting - this is very important

0:41:250:41:29

until I see the right house in which case I don't care!

0:41:290:41:31

It seems an awful lot of work, but when people start redesigning rooms,

0:41:310:41:36

it's usually a good sign. They're already buying into the potential.

0:41:360:41:41

But in this case, integrating the kitchen into the main barn would be a far more cost-effective solution

0:41:410:41:47

and it would still leave them with the bedrooms.

0:41:470:41:50

So positive reactions to the interior, but what about the garden?

0:41:500:41:53

Well, in addition to the front lawn,

0:41:530:41:55

the back garden is currently patio-ed and gravelled

0:41:550:41:59

but could easily be made more goat-friendly,

0:41:590:42:02

or they could take up the concrete hard-standing and make a pen.

0:42:020:42:07

But if that isn't enough, there are other options afoot.

0:42:070:42:10

-The present owner owns all this paddock around.

-OK.

0:42:100:42:15

And she'd be willing to rent you the quadrant

0:42:160:42:19

-so you'd get a little bit of extra land.

-Right.

0:42:190:42:23

Hmm, I wouldn't be too happy about renting my garden off someone.

0:42:230:42:26

If I own the house I'd want to own the garden as well, wouldn't you?

0:42:260:42:30

-Is that an option?

-Well, it's always a point of negotiation.

0:42:300:42:33

Now this is going to really interest me what you say this is worth.

0:42:330:42:37

It doesn't have the land unless it's going to be negotiated as an extra,

0:42:370:42:41

-and there is work required on the house.

-Plenty of, yes.

0:42:410:42:45

Plenty of, which we're happy to do.

0:42:450:42:47

So I'm thinking £475,000.

0:42:470:42:49

I'll say about £500,000.

0:42:490:42:52

This property's on the market for £595,000.

0:42:520:42:55

I was afraid you were going to say that. So without a garden for our goats, we'd have to say no.

0:42:550:43:00

-But it's wonderful.

-Yes, it's a lovely house.

0:43:000:43:03

-Not for us.

-It hasn't got the land that we need.

0:43:030:43:05

Well, it seems like you've made your mind up. But have a look around

0:43:050:43:10

-and I'll see you at the front, OK?

-OK.

0:43:100:43:12

-We've still got the mystery house.

-Lovely. Look forward to that one.

0:43:120:43:15

Well, you know, I don't mean to be mean, but that is the price.

0:43:150:43:19

I didn't make the price up and that is what the vendor's selling it for,

0:43:190:43:24

so that's the price I had to give.

0:43:240:43:26

However, the £595,000 price tag should be negotiable as the barn has been on the market for a year.

0:43:270:43:33

Internally it has all the space Chris and Jenny have asked for.

0:43:330:43:38

Two large reception rooms,

0:43:380:43:39

potential to create an open-plan kitchen/diner and two bedrooms.

0:43:390:43:43

There's work to be done, but it doesn't have to be a huge project

0:43:430:43:47

and if they're willing to rent

0:43:470:43:49

or negotiate to buy the land from the current owner,

0:43:490:43:52

also the next door neighbour, then the land issue would be resolved.

0:43:520:43:56

So I really hope they haven't written it off straight away.

0:43:560:44:00

Maybe open-plan to the living room

0:44:000:44:02

or the living room could go in that room

0:44:020:44:04

and then maybe put the kitchen here with a granite worktop or something.

0:44:040:44:10

Would be good, but either way we think of it,

0:44:100:44:12

it's a lot of money to be spent, a lot of work to do.

0:44:120:44:15

I like quite a lot of bits about this house

0:44:150:44:18

and how certain things could work.

0:44:180:44:20

It's just a fantastic bit of space downstairs,

0:44:200:44:22

it could work really well.

0:44:220:44:24

The biggest downside to this particular property was the garden.

0:44:240:44:29

There was no garden that was worth talking about.

0:44:290:44:31

This is a huge, wonderful building with bags of potential

0:44:310:44:34

and there's so many ways you could change it around, moving bedrooms and kitchens.

0:44:340:44:38

It's a dream in many ways although it is at the top of our budget,

0:44:380:44:42

plus with the tiny garden, I don't really think it's for us.

0:44:420:44:47

Guys, one more to go and hopefully no more disappointment.

0:44:480:44:55

For many people, a move to the country goes hand-in-hand

0:44:590:45:02

with keeping a few chickens and growing veg,

0:45:020:45:05

but Jenny has her heart firmly set on a kid or two,

0:45:050:45:08

of the four-legged variety. It's been her dream to keep pygmy goats.

0:45:080:45:13

So we've sent her and Chris to the Bucks Goat Centre

0:45:130:45:16

to meet farm manager Lauren Godfrey to find out more.

0:45:160:45:20

-Hi.

-Good morning.

-Morning.

0:45:200:45:22

-Hi, Jenny.

-Hi, I'm Chris.

-Nice to meet you.

0:45:220:45:26

-So you're interested in getting a couple of pygmies.

-Yes, we are.

0:45:260:45:29

We've looked at a lot of goats around here.

0:45:290:45:32

There's lots of pretty females and males. What would be the best to get?

0:45:320:45:36

What we're looking at is for pets, not for milking, nothing else.

0:45:360:45:39

It depends how big a space you've got really.

0:45:390:45:43

If you've not got much of a space, then these are perfect, really.

0:45:430:45:46

They're perfect pets. They're a nice manageable size.

0:45:460:45:49

-These are miniature pygmies?

-Yeah. Nice manageable size, you don't need an awful lot of space.

0:45:490:45:54

Well, with half an acre on Jenny's property wish list,

0:45:540:45:57

how much of that will go to the goats?

0:45:570:46:00

Probably something about half this size if you're having a couple.

0:46:000:46:04

They don't need an awful lot of space.

0:46:040:46:06

They need a shelter

0:46:060:46:08

because they hate the rain, their coats aren't waterproof.

0:46:080:46:11

So they need a good size shelter if they're staying out all year round.

0:46:110:46:15

-Or a raincoat!

-Yes!

0:46:150:46:17

A garden shed's quite a good idea.

0:46:170:46:19

It's nice and enclosed.

0:46:190:46:21

So even the goats need a property and it will need to be built to last

0:46:210:46:25

as these hardy little animals, originating from Africa,

0:46:250:46:29

have a life span of 12 to 15 years, so it's a real commitment.

0:46:290:46:33

However, for those looking to take small steps down the self-sufficiency route,

0:46:330:46:38

pygmy goats are a great starting point.

0:46:380:46:40

They don't take up much room but they do produce a lot of milk for their size -

0:46:400:46:44

just under two gallons a week,

0:46:440:46:46

which could keep your average household in milk all year round,

0:46:460:46:49

and the manure is a much-needed ingredient for any successful veggie patch.

0:46:490:46:54

-So are these males or females?

-These two are females

0:46:540:46:58

but if you're looking for two for pets, castrated males are probably the best.

0:46:580:47:01

-How old are these?

-These are a year old now.

0:47:010:47:04

-Are they going to grow much bigger?

-A little bit maybe.

0:47:040:47:07

They're fully grown at 18 months normally.

0:47:070:47:09

-And what do they eat?

-Concentrate and hay. If you've got grass they'll nibble a bit,

0:47:090:47:14

-but they're not massive grass eaters.

-We'll still need a lawn mower?

-Yeah.

0:47:140:47:18

And take heed, your pygmies require more maintenance than your average dog or mog.

0:47:180:47:23

Every 12 weeks they need worming, de-fleaing

0:47:230:47:26

and their hooves need trimming.

0:47:260:47:28

It's vital to learn how to do this from trained professionals or get your vet to do it.

0:47:280:47:33

Finally, all pygmies need to be registered with DEFRA -

0:47:330:47:37

the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

0:47:370:47:40

Ooh, do you want some milk? Come on, Leila. Leila. Yay, look at that!

0:47:400:47:47

Well, it looks like Jenny has found her goats.

0:47:470:47:49

Let's hope we can find them the house and garden they can all call home.

0:47:490:47:54

Buckinghamshire is a hard taskmaster

0:47:570:47:59

and it's so heartbreaking to see particularly Jenny so disappointed

0:47:590:48:03

by the price of that last property,

0:48:030:48:06

but we've got one more to go and I'm hoping the mystery house,

0:48:060:48:09

by bringing things down to ground level,

0:48:090:48:11

is going to provide us with a solution.

0:48:110:48:14

For that, we're heading to the outskirts of Wendover

0:48:140:48:18

which is a manageable 12-mile commute to Haddenham.

0:48:180:48:21

Tucked away in a crease of the Chiltern hills,

0:48:210:48:25

this charming little town

0:48:250:48:27

is prime stockbroker territory with direct rail links into London.

0:48:270:48:31

Awarded a royal market charter in the 15th century,

0:48:310:48:35

the stall holders stopped trading years ago.

0:48:350:48:37

But today the community is served by trendy little shops,

0:48:370:48:41

coaching inns and cafe culture is de rigeur.

0:48:410:48:44

As you'd expect from a town

0:48:440:48:46

that was once partly owned by Anne Boleyn's family,

0:48:460:48:50

period properties aren't in short supply.

0:48:500:48:52

Not that the mystery property is period,

0:48:520:48:55

in fact, it's hardly a property at all.

0:48:550:48:57

Situated well back off the road to Stoke Mandeville,

0:48:570:49:01

it's a major project.

0:49:010:49:03

Chris and Jenny aren't averse to knocking down walls, but will they want to start from scratch?

0:49:030:49:08

This could be the perfect solution

0:49:080:49:10

to finding the elusive mix of small house and big garden.

0:49:100:49:14

This is not what I want to show you, because this is a building plot.

0:49:140:49:18

And this plot of land has come up and I was thinking

0:49:180:49:21

that maybe building what you really want might be the way forward.

0:49:210:49:26

Um, yeah. We did look into self-build at one point

0:49:260:49:31

and to get a self-build mortgage is a bit of a premium.

0:49:310:49:35

Well, this is going to be coming down obviously,

0:49:350:49:38

but the plot goes a lot further to the back

0:49:380:49:40

and we've got the architect at the back

0:49:400:49:42

with the plans of what's going to be built, so we can discuss it. OK?

0:49:420:49:46

Chris doesn't sound convinced

0:49:460:49:48

and Jenny's not talking at all which doesn't look bode well.

0:49:480:49:51

But I think self-build could be a viable way for them

0:49:510:49:54

to get the house that they want, with the land that they want, for the right price.

0:49:540:49:59

Architect Sarah Wolstenholme and developer Nick Keeler have the approved plans.

0:49:590:50:03

So talk me through your design, Sarah, what did you actually, what was your idea of the house?

0:50:030:50:09

Well, for the plan, we were trying to capture as much of the natural light as possible.

0:50:090:50:14

It's quite overgrown at the moment but, if the shrubbery's removed,

0:50:140:50:17

there's open views over the countryside, so it's trying to capture that with main rooms.

0:50:170:50:22

So you've got a big living room here and a big breakfast/diner there.

0:50:220:50:26

And a big sun room which can open out into the garden.

0:50:260:50:29

Is there anything else around, are there houses either side?

0:50:290:50:32

-You've got an eight-acre field over there.

-No neighbours.

0:50:320:50:35

-No neighbours there.

-OK.

0:50:350:50:38

And there's 30 odd acres in that direction again, no neighbours.

0:50:380:50:42

The current plans are for a 2,100 square foot detached house,

0:50:420:50:47

including five bedrooms, a kitchen/diner and sunroom,

0:50:470:50:51

two reception rooms and a study, all on a three-quarter acre plot.

0:50:510:50:56

And in terms of planning, Nick, is it difficult to move anything around

0:50:580:51:03

or change it?

0:51:030:51:04

Internally, there wouldn't be any problems at all.

0:51:040:51:09

It's the external elevations and siting of the property

0:51:090:51:13

that will require a revised planning application.

0:51:130:51:17

So you're not tempted, because then you could get the big rooms...

0:51:170:51:21

-Yes, it's possible.

-..by redesigning them? It doesn't appeal to you?

0:51:210:51:25

It appeals to me if it was a design and build as a finished product

0:51:250:51:29

on a plot that wasn't so remote and near a road.

0:51:290:51:33

If it was in a village location and someone was doing the shell for us,

0:51:330:51:38

then, yes, it would be something we could then go in

0:51:380:51:42

and do the internal layout ourselves. That would be ideal.

0:51:420:51:46

Are you interested in finding out about the price?

0:51:460:51:48

-That would be interesting to find out.

-And what do you think?

0:51:480:51:51

Three-quarters of an acre, open countryside.

0:51:510:51:55

I'd say probably about £200,000.

0:51:550:51:58

-What about you, Jenny?

-Er, I think maybe a little less.

0:51:580:52:01

-Oh, dear, you're quite a bit off. It's actually on at £350,000.

-OK.

0:52:010:52:05

And what did we say the estimated cost of the house would be?

0:52:050:52:09

I think it was in the region of £250,000.

0:52:090:52:12

But it's not something you're interested in?

0:52:120:52:14

Unfortunately not. The location is too remote and too near a main road.

0:52:140:52:19

Well, if we weren't pushing boundaries, it wouldn't be a mystery house.

0:52:190:52:22

At £350,000 plus the estimated £250,000 build cost,

0:52:220:52:27

this property would be bang on budget.

0:52:270:52:30

The approved plans for the detached house include two reception rooms,

0:52:300:52:34

a kitchen/diner, a study and five bedrooms.

0:52:340:52:37

Now the internal plans, both downstairs and upstairs,

0:52:370:52:41

could be changed completely to give Chris and Jenny

0:52:410:52:44

the two reception rooms and two massive en-suite bedrooms they want.

0:52:440:52:47

But I think it's safe to say that this one is a project too far.

0:52:470:52:52

Well, that was our last shot and that didn't work either

0:52:530:52:57

-so I'm afraid we've disappointed you again.

-Unfortunately.

0:52:570:53:00

But let's go off and regroup and see what we've learnt.

0:53:000:53:04

Well, that's it for our property tour of Bucks

0:53:120:53:15

and it hasn't gone to plan. With Jenny feeling increasingly poorly,

0:53:150:53:19

she's decided to leave it up to Chris to fill me in on what they've concluded.

0:53:190:53:24

Well, it's been quite a challenging few days and I guess that it seems

0:53:260:53:30

that none of the properties we've shown you have struck home.

0:53:300:53:33

Unfortunately not.

0:53:330:53:35

So maybe if we go through them one by one

0:53:350:53:37

and we can talk about the pros and cons

0:53:370:53:39

and what you didn't like about them, primarily, by the sounds of it.

0:53:390:53:43

-We're starting with the 1920s' house.

-It had a fantastic garden.

0:53:430:53:46

The house itself it had a nice layout to it.

0:53:460:53:49

Not ideally to our taste, but it could be turned around

0:53:490:53:54

and moved to what we wanted it to be.

0:53:540:53:57

The main key factors that were a problem

0:53:570:53:59

was the road outside was a bit of a rat race.

0:53:590:54:03

And then I took you to a very pretty, charming, period property -

0:54:030:54:08

the lovely thatched cottage in Gibraltar, very quiet location.

0:54:080:54:12

What are your thoughts about that?

0:54:120:54:14

Yes, that was a very nice location, nice hidden sort of area.

0:54:140:54:19

The house was very quaint, very pretty

0:54:190:54:21

but totally not the sort of style of house that we'd want.

0:54:210:54:26

The barn conversion - that seemed to be quite positive at the beginning.

0:54:260:54:30

What happened as we were walking around there?

0:54:300:54:32

We did get excited over what could be done there. We understood what the general cost could be

0:54:320:54:37

for what we needed to achieve and then, when we realised the price

0:54:370:54:42

was at the top of our budget and it didn't have a garden,

0:54:420:54:47

it was quite a blow.

0:54:470:54:49

-It did have a garden, but not the garden that you wanted.

-Didn't have the garden that we would need.

0:54:490:54:55

And the mystery house,

0:54:550:54:57

now this was £350,000 for a plot to build a property,

0:54:570:55:00

and this didn't charm you at all.

0:55:000:55:03

It was long and narrow which was quite worrying.

0:55:030:55:06

But the major factor was it was on a main busy A road.

0:55:060:55:10

So none of the properties really seemed to offer what you want

0:55:100:55:13

even though they were lovely properties in themselves.

0:55:130:55:16

What do you think you've learnt looking at the whole process?

0:55:160:55:20

Um, I think what we need to be

0:55:200:55:22

is much clearer on what we express as our wishes to people,

0:55:220:55:28

and the criteria we need to get estate agents

0:55:280:55:32

to understand exactly what we want

0:55:320:55:35

when we continue with our search

0:55:350:55:38

and hopefully it'll work and find us the right property.

0:55:380:55:42

It's a difficult time to be buying, there's not a lot on the market

0:55:420:55:45

and, you know, you've picked a hard place to shop,

0:55:450:55:48

-but I wish you all the best and I hope you find what you're looking for.

-OK, thank you very much.

0:55:480:55:53

Well, you can't win them all and it looks like Chris and Jenny

0:55:560:55:59

weren't impressed by any of the properties we showed them here in Buckinghamshire,

0:55:590:56:03

but perhaps you were and you'd like to move here, or any other rural part of Britain.

0:56:030:56:07

So tune in next time for more Escape To The Country.

0:56:070:56:10

If you want to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

0:56:100:56:14

or England and would like our help, please apply online at...

0:56:140:56:17

Alistair Appleton is helping a couple to find a property in Buckinghamshire with at least half an acre of land to keep some goats. With a budget of £600,000, they are looking for a character home with contemporary styling. They need two to three bedrooms, a large open-plan kitchen diner and one other reception room.


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