Series helping buyers find dream homes. Denise Nurse is in Dorset helping an ex-army couple, who have lived in 30 different properties around the world, settle down for good.
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Today, I'm at the southerly most point of one of our most sought-after rural counties.
The lighthouse behind me protects ships from a rugged coastline
and a fast-moving current.
But will it be all hands on deck or plain sailing
as we escape to the country?
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple find their home of a lifetime in the country.
I'll be taking them on a tour of some desirable properties and things get a bit steamy.
-A sauna in here.
-Now I'm using my imagination!
I think I might have a thing to ignite your rocket.
-But the results go stratospheric.
-Houston, we have a lift-off.
And there's the mystery house which looks out of this world.
Today, I'm in Dorset and this spectacular lighthouse is
the Portland Bill lighthouse which has stood here since 1906
and it's standing on the Jurassic coastline, a world heritage site.
71 miles this stretches right the way across the Dorset coast.
These rocks record over 185 million years of the Earth's history.
And if that is not enough for you, this county has a lot more to offer.
Dorset is one of the maritime counties that
stretches down the south-western arm of England.
It offers the best of both worlds with its Jurassic coastline
and fine beaches, as well as beautiful countryside inland.
With nearly two thirds of Dorset designated as areas of outstanding
national beauty, there are stunning and varied landscapes to enjoy.
From the Blackmore Vale, home to dairy farming
to the chalky slopes and hedgerows of the Dorset Downs.
The historic architecture of town and country is alive and well,
from imposing Georgian townhouses to quintessential country cottages,
with the local grey Portland stone
cropping up in buildings across the county.
Dorset's capital, Dorchester,
is home to some notable buildings with plans afoot for more.
This building was designed by Crickmay, an architect that
Thomas Hardy worked for before he became a writer.
It's now part of Brewery Square, a £200 million regeneration effort
to redouble and reinvigorate Dorchester town centre.
But it's not just this building.
It's actually this 11 and a half acres of space which is going to be
turned into luxury flats, there's going to be a theatre
and the first solar-powered train station.
But if it's property you're looking for,
then take a look at some of these properties on the market right now.
You could reap the rewards of this six bedroom farmhouse
for £1.25 million.
The kitchen and sitting room with their open fireplaces are large enough,
but then there's 30 acres of land
and wonderful countryside views to take in too.
For £575,000, this three-bedroom converted Victorian coach house
in Wick has a quirky grandeur with its light, spacious reception rooms
and a welcoming kitchen.
Outside, there's a south-facing walled garden.
For character charm, you could pick up this four-bedroom
Grade II listed thatched cottage in the village of Preston for £350,000.
The original exposed beams
and stonework run throughout the reception rooms and kitchen,
and there's a conservatory which leads into a landscaped cottage garden.
So we know that Dorset has some beautiful properties
but will any of them suit today's buyers?
Let's meet them and find out.
Today's buyers are Sally and Jeff, who have lived in
their four-bedroom bungalow in Ash Green, Surrey, for 15 years.
With Jeff now a retired Army brigadier
but with a new job in Weymouth and Sally wanting to quit
running her management training company, they're drawn to
the Dorset countryside for a completely new life together.
We've always wanted to move down to Dorset.
I was actually born in Dorset.
I intend to give up my own work at the moment,
although I'll keep going with the charity work that I'm doing.
But I do want to enjoy the countryside.
Our ideal location would be a village but a good sized village,
perhaps with one or two good pubs within walking distance.
A village shop perhaps. But certainly a quiet location.
We would love to get involved in the community.
The lifestyle we are looking for is a little bit more stability
because I've been away so much with the military over the past 33 years.
It would be nice to spend a bit more time at home.
We would like to do some more entertaining as well.
Jeff's army career has meant they've spent their married life
living all over the world
with 14 moves into rented army accommodation under their belt.
But this move is all about a new lifestyle on their own terms.
I miss the dogs. We had dogs. We are going to get dogs again.
So dog walking is going to be a big feature of my life.
And perhaps get involved with a wildlife trust
and do some voluntary work with them.
There are some very specific and quite unusual demands for their new home.
This is the garden that we have at the moment and it's a good size
and we'd like to garden the same size if not bigger.
But what we would really want to have in our garden,
which we've always wanted, is a hot tub.
This is the favourite room in the current house.
With a south-facing garden, we get lots of light coming in.
So we definitely want to replicate that in the new house
in the country, but with more storage space
and we would also like an open fireplace, please.
This is a reasonable-sized kitchen and quite good to work in.
But what we are really looking for is a bigger kitchen.
A kitchen to entertain in so we can have people around
and most certainly a nice country view.
I do collect model vehicles and, as you can see, this is a model fire engine.
Sadly for Sally, I've got about 700 of these packed away in boxes at the moment
and what we'd really like when we move to the country is a room where we could have them
on display with glass cabinets all around the outside.
With 700 fire engines coming with them,
this does not sound like a move to downsize.
As well as four bedrooms with at least one ensuite,
there are other elements to squeeze in.
We would like to have light and airy rooms rather than enclosed rooms.
Both of us will need space in an office. We have a gym.
We want to keep fit still.
We'd like a fishpond. Sally has got very attached to the goldfish that we've got here at the moment.
Sally and Jeff need to know how much their property is worth
so we've arranged for a local estate agent to value their home.
This four-bedroom detached bungalow has got off-road parking
at the front and a south-facing rear garden.
It's in lovely condition throughout and in a great location.
Therefore, I'm going to put a price on it of £450,000.
Slightly disappointed. I know the market has dropped over the past 12 months.
However, we were hoping for a little bit more than that
considering the amount of money we've invested in this property.
So how much are they prepared to pay for their dream property?
The budget for this move is £600,000.
Jeff and Sally have fairly straightforward requirements.
They want three to four bedrooms, room for a gym,
a large office and a reasonable garden.
The thing is, although they've moved many times over the years,
they've only bought twice and that means I think they're going
to need a bit of help with this house hunt.
But don't worry, that is what we are here for. Wish me luck.
We are basing our property search around Sally's former hometown
of Dorchester which is also
just a 20 minute drive to Weymouth for Jeff's work.
I'll be showing them an assortment of impressive homes,
but I'll only reveal the price once they've had a good look around.
Lastly, we'll see the mystery property which will challenge their preconceptions that big is best.
Hello, Jeff. Hi, Sally.
What a gorgeous day for househunting here in beautiful Dorset.
This is a county you've chosen to come and settle down in
-because you have moved around a lot over the years, haven't you?
-Yes. We certainly have.
With Jeff being in the Army for more than 30 years, we've had a lot
of moves, so we really are looking forward to settling down permanently.
We've got a good healthy budget, about £600,000.
What's the situation now? How soon can it move?
We've got our house on the market in Surrey where we are living at the moment, near Guildford.
Just before we came away we had an offer, which we have accepted, so we are ready to rock and roll.
Fantastic. Well, we've got great houses to show you.
Of course, there is the mystery house as well. A little bit of a twist in the tale.
But all of that means we've got a lot to do and we need to be organised.
I'm relying on you, Jeff. You've been in the Army a long time,
-so are you ready to put all of that into action?
Logistics, exactly! I think you might be leading the way on this!
-Shall we get going then?
-Yes, let's go.
So Sally and Jeff have £600,000 to spend on their ideal country home.
For that, they are after a couple of living areas with open
fireplaces and a large kitchen for entertaining.
Then there is a space for an office, a gym
and a hot tub to factor in, as well as a village location for Sally
which is close to Weymouth for Jeff's work.
So not asking for much then!
We're off the starting block and taking to the road.
You have moved more times than I can even count
and certainly more than most people on this show.
Are you concerned at all about what this process is going to be like?
I guess my concern is that this move really will be our last move.
We bought the present house thinking it was temporary.
This one will not be temporary so it is a big decision for us,
choosing the right the right place.
With such an important move on the cards, I really hope we can help.
Our first property is eight miles from Dorchester in
Kingston Russell with just half an hour's drive for Jeff into Weymouth.
It is a quiet hamlet surrounded by pastureland
and has a distinctly Dorset feel with its thatched stone
cottages and country pub, which should get a thumbs up from Sally.
A minute's drive down the road is this converted barn.
You want to upsize. We bring you this property.
-First impressions are very positive.
It is certainly a lot bigger than the property we've got now so that is another plus.
It is bigger but it's also attached, as you can probably see.
So you've got a neighbour. How do you feel about that?
I don't think that's a problem.
Certainly from the outside, it is impressive
and it looks distinctive, which is always a good start.
This property comes with a lot of space,
enough to give you a triple garage on the outside.
There is quite a lot to get around so I don't think we should waste any more time. Let's have a look.
I'll be amazed if they don't think this house is large enough
for all their collectables and gym kit.
There is space in abundance.
As you'd expect with such a big house,
-we have a big entrance hallway for you. What do you think?
-I like it.
We've got some mysterious doors going off.
Lots of mysterious doors which we will go through later on, but I want to start with this one.
-The kitchen, I think, is often the heart of the home.
-What do you think of this one?
-A good size. A really nice size. I like it.
It is very open. Lots of space.
-Great views out of the window.
-And I love that central island. That is lovely.
I like to be cooking in the kitchen and having people around me.
-This is an ideal place for that. A good first impression.
-This is good.
There is more though. You've also got utility space through there
-and you've got a walk-in pantry here.
-That, I do like.
-So a good start to this property?
Look at that, in unison. They are so together. I like that.
Let's see if we can keep this up. There is a lot to explore. Follow me.
It looks like they are on board.
Size is everything in this house and I don't think the living room will disappoint.
This is a good size, isn't it?
Lots of wall space because we have got a lot of pictures and paintings
that we need somewhere to hang up and I like the fireplace.
-A working fire?
-A working fireplace.
-Great. That's what we want.
This house seems to make the grade so far.
We'll go back through the hall to explore the other living areas behind Jeff's mysterious doors.
-Sally, this I think should be just for you.
-Oh, yes. Isn't this lovely?
-A little snug all to myself.
-All to yourself.
-It's an escape, isn't it?
There are plenty of rooms to escape to in this property, so let's keep looking.
-This is where your stairs are.
-I wondered where they were.
You can really see the height of the barn. More doors here.
That is big enough to house a freezer chest.
That door leads through the utility room back to the kitchen.
-And in here...
-Yes, yet another room.
-It could be a dining room.
-The current owners have used it as such.
It could be a study because it's got a nice view over the adjoining properties.
It could be. Or we could be a bit more inventive
-and we could use it to house your fire engines.
Whether Sally will agree to that is another question.
What do we need that to happen?
We need enough space for everything else like the gym, like the study.
Maybe I can help.
-Sally, why don't you take a look through that door there.
Oh, they've already got a gym! This is where it would be. Look at this.
-Yes. Ideal. It really is.
-This is just a wonderful space, isn't it?
And a view out, other than looking at a wall as we do at the moment
when we are on the running machine or the cycling machine.
-This is a really good space.
-A real selling point.
-Big smiles all round.
-So happy with the downstairs so far?
It is time to check out the bedrooms then and there are many of them.
Six in fact.
They wanted big and this house certainly delivers on that front.
Upstairs, we do have the six bedrooms, which is
a little bit more than you actually need, I think.
-Three or four was on your wish list.
-Six is a lot.
Here are two of the bedrooms. A lot of light coming in.
A nice double size room there.
I think this would be an ideal space to use for perhaps an office each, fire engine collection.
Now you're talking!
-I'm loving it so far.
-Great. This is two of the six bedrooms.
There are four more to see and they are all behind this door.
Through the door, the landing leads on to the other four bedrooms.
Not surprisingly, they are all great sized double rooms.
Perfect for overnighting guests.
There is also a large modern bathroom and separate shower room.
But I'm going to show Jeff and Sally their master bedroom.
All of this built in wardrobe space here.
They really have utilised everything in this property.
-They certainly have.
-But this is the room I want to show you.
-A lovely room.
-It's huge and there is more to it.
Here, you've got a walk-in wardrobe.
-I like that.
-I'm not sure that's big enough for all your clothes!
-Through here, you have your ensuite.
-It is lovely.
-I think you quite like this property, don't you?
-It's growing on us.
We have certainly covered a lot of ground inside
and addressed a lot of the points in Sally and Jeff's brief,
and there's a staggering amount to discover outside too.
-A gorgeous day out here.
-Into your garden space.
With a house that big, you wouldn't expect it to hold back on the garden, would you?
And it really doesn't. It is not just this area here. Oh, no.
-Follow me this way.
-This is a surprise.
Yes, you can maintain this
but you might need some help from the local sheep to help you
maintain that field there and the two paddocks behind it.
-That's part of this? Oh my goodness!
-You don't know what to say, do you?
-All in all, just over four acres.
All of that property, all of this land, the question is, how much do you think it's worth?
I think we are talking up in the seven hundred thousands, I really do.
OK. So 700,000 for Jeff.
I was going to go as high as that, if not higher, to be honest.
-But I could be wrong.
-Give me a number.
-So that's quite a bit above your budget.
What about if I told you it's actually on the market at £585,000.
-You are serious?
-I'm absolutely serious.
-I'm absolutely amazed.
-That's stunning. That is well within our budget.
I think it gives you a lot to think about, doesn't it?
-It certainly does.
-Well, go inside.
There's plenty for you to have a look at.
Start thinking, and I'll catch up with you later on.
That shocked them, didn't it? 585 is actually under budget.
They wanted space. This property gives them more rooms than they wanted,
more land than they needed and a wonderful rural location.
But is it too much space for them?
Under budget at £585,000, this barn conversion is a strong contender.
There is a large kitchen dining room, ideal for entertaining.
Six bedrooms with a master ensuite. A gym room and four acres of land.
This property may not be slap bang in the heart of a village as Sally had hoped,
but the potential of its huge living areas could tip the balance.
I think it is a beautiful house. It's very big.
It's got everything that we need and more.
The one thing that sold me was the gymnasium
because we were really determined that we were going to have to
convert a room that wasn't designed for that,
whereas here we've got a room that is purpose built as a gymnasium.
The location, for me,
it's slightly more remote than I would have wanted to be.
I was shocked and stunned when Denise told us what the price was.
I think this has set the benchmark so far for me.
This is an amazing first property to see
and I am pretty overwhelmed by it.
-I thought you might have got lost in there!
-You could easily!
So much to see but that is only one property. There are more.
Great. Lead on.
Sally and Jeff are taking a trip down memory lane to Dorchester,
where Sally was born and lived as a girl.
It's a lively market town and retains lots of its historic character.
One of Dorchester's claims to fame is as the birthplace
and home of one of our most celebrated authors, Thomas Hardy,
who wrote such classic novels as 'The Mayor Of Casterbridge'
and 'Far From The Madding Crowd'.
Sally and Jeff are meeting town guide Alistair Chisholm to find out
more about Dorchester's influence on Hardy's life and writing.
-We've got a lot to see. Let's head off in this direction to start with.
He was born just three miles away. He came to school here.
But what people sometimes forget is that
he trained as an architect in the building just over here.
He won prizes as an architect, and that is actually how
he earned his living until he was able to get money from his writing.
After a short career as an architect and working in London,
he returned to Dorchester in 1871 when he was inspired to
write from what he saw in the local landscape.
A prime example of this lies just outside the town centre.
So here you have the Hangman's Cottage.
It's worth remembering that at the tender and very impressionable
age of 16, Thomas Hardy witnessed the execution of Martha Brown.
This image stays with him and of course explains the sad ending
of one of his greatest heroines, Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
Hardy not only mined the local area for his writing,
but also put his architectural talents to good use,
designing Max Gate House on the other side of town,
where he lived until his death in 1928.
Now owned by the National Trust, the house is open to visitors
who wish to discover what the true Hardy was like.
So this is where he wrote quite a few of his books and novels
-and 900 of his poems.
-Was he famous locally?
-He was very famous locally.
Of course, he was a very shy man,
hence the planting of the trees to try and keep a degree of privacy.
And of course when he dies in 1928, it is decided that
his ashes will be laid to rest in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
But actually his heart remains literally in Dorset
because that lies buried in the grave where Emma,
his first wife, and later Florence, his second wife, are buried.
Well, with this move being a return to Sally's roots,
let's hope we can find our couple their home of a lifetime.
Our next property is a halfway house in Portesham, nine miles
from both Dorchester and Weymouth, so a great commute for Jeff.
It's an idyllic village nestled in the Downs,
with country pathways and a reviving pint on your doorstep.
There is a historical nod to a different Hardy.
Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, Nelson's right-hand man, who lived
here as a child and to whom this 80 foot tower is dedicated.
Our property is just a stone's throw from the pub.
You have your very own gated entrance to this property.
-Lovely sweeping driveway. Triple garage there.
-This is the house.
-I like the look of that very much.
Very modern looking. Clean lines.
A little bit of road noise, but you are going to get that in any village that you live in.
Sally likes the walk to the pub, though!
-Do you, Sally?
-I think that would be good.
-Ready to have a look?
The village location has pleased Sally
and I have high hopes she'll be impressed by the inside.
In we come. Lots of space to take off muddy boots.
A fairly generous and modern entrance hallway.
-That leads you through to a spacious living room.
-Oh, right. Very nice.
Lovely fireplace. I love that surround. That's very nice.
-French doors out into the garden.
-Very warm feel to it.
-Is it big enough?
-Yes, I think so.
It's bigger than our current living room.
It hasn't got any nooks and crannies, that's the only thing.
There is no shelving or whatever and we've got lots of knick-knacks
and mementos and you are going to have to bring in bookshelves
and display cases freestanding to do that, so you have to think of that.
Let's keep looking around and see what else there is in this house.
I am sure a spot of DIY would give Jeff the wall storage he's after.
Maybe he'll be swayed by the size of the kitchen.
A nice bright kitchen for you.
Yes. This is nice. I like this. Bright. Lots of space. I like it.
I like the tiled floor as well, which is ideal.
-There is certainly enough space to put a central island there if you wanted to.
-There certainly is.
You are using your imagination here about what you could do.
-I sense some reservation from you, Jeff.
-A little bit.
It is a bit bland. There's not much character to it.
-Keep an open mind, Jeff. Have a look in here.
-This is hidden away, isn't it?
-A little study.
-Yes, very nice.
-Which could be a home office, a little snug.
-A little snug, exactly.
We're not done yet. There are plenty more rooms that lead off the kitchen.
Behind this door, this house just keeps on tumbling on.
Much more space through here. Wonderful utility space.
And up here, we have what the current owners have as a dog room.
It could be great when you get your new dogs. Or perhaps a mini gym.
Yes, it could be.
-However, the possibility I saw with this is to have a sauna in here.
-Now I'm using my imagination!
-That brightened you up, didn't it?
If this is the sauna then perhaps you can make more of this space.
-Now, you see, I would then have this as the gym.
My imagination is still yet to take off. It's on the runway.
-Has it sparked a little bit?
-A little bit.
-The fuse is fizzing but we haven't achieved lift-off.
-Not quite. I'm going to keep working on this.
We're going to get lift-off, I hope.
Downstairs is a blank canvas, which if Jeff and Sally
really put their minds to it could deliver the features they are after.
Upstairs in this property, you have four bedrooms
and a family bathroom.
Here is one of the slightly smaller bedrooms.
You've got two nice-sized doubles over here.
-I just want to show you one of them first of all.
It is a reasonable-size room. Probably not as big as I expected.
They've also got the computer stuff in here
-so that takes up a good deal of space.
-A big window. Very light.
-As a guest room, do you think it would do?
The other double would also give their guests a great view.
The modern family bathroom also has a separate shower cubicle.
We'll go into the master bedroom, which I hope will win Jeff over.
In terms of room size, I should imagine this is a bit more like it for you.
-That is a good size, yes.
-That's nice. And great views.
A really good view. It does look good. I like it.
-And behind here, have a look. You have an ensuite shower room.
-A good size. Storage as well.
-Very modern. Very nice. Nicely done.
My rockets are still fizzing, but they are not blasting off.
Not blasting off.
I think I might have the thing to ignite your rockets. Outside.
A couple of surprises which just might get you going.
I'm determined to earn my stripes with Jeff
so I hope he's going to like what he sees.
Now, Jeff, this is for you.
Outside we have what I consider to be another room to this house.
It is. It just hasn't got a roof on it but you're right, that is exactly what it is.
It's the barbecue area, the manly zone,
and there is a gas barbecue over there.
-I'm beginning to blast off now.
-Good. We are going straight to blast off. Brilliant.
-This is a lovely entertaining area, I must say.
-It's great. Very smart.
-One of the best aspects yet.
Well, we're on a roll now because just over there, have a look up there.
-There's the hot tub.
-There's the hot tub. As requested.
-That is ideal, isn't it?
-It is ideal.
-It's a good spot.
-Houston, we have lift-off.
I think we are really going to be firing up into the sky
when I show you the final surprise in this garden.
This half acre lawned garden is a very manageable size
and I've got the perfect solution for Sally's fishpond dilemma.
-That is so pretty, isn't it?
-And that is your surprise.
It's a wonderful surprise.
-Apparently, they have trout coming through here at times.
-That is super.
-Very, very clean. It looks lovely.
Now, do we have rockets firing on all cylinders?
-I think we are about to go into orbit!
There is your stream, you've got a hot tub
and over there you have a house.
-All of the things we asked for.
And to get them in the location I think you quite like,
how much do you think you'd have to pay?
I may be completely wrong but I'm going to say £600,000.
-Right on your budget.
-Yes. That's what I'm going to say.
-What about you, Jeff?
I'm going to say slightly less than that and come down to about 570.
570. So money to play with. Well, there is good news.
-This property is on the market at £550,000.
So even more money to play with.
It's a lovely house and it's a beautiful garden
and it's got everything that we have asked for.
-So we'll have to think about it.
-I think that's exactly right.
Go back in, have a little think, wander round,
-start to imagine yourself living there and then I'll catch up with you later on.
As well as having space and a good price in its favour,
this property also fulfils Sally's wish to live in a village.
Well within budget at £550,000, it offers a large kitchen/diner,
four bedrooms with master ensuite, space for a gym
and office or snug and a half acre garden with a hot tub.
Very nice house.
The best feature of the house is in fact the garden, which is lovely. It's got everything you would want.
And a hot tub.
It didn't have a fish pond, but it had a river with its own waterfall and a bridge,
which I think is just fantastic.
I loved the stream at the top. Upstairs, four good bedrooms.
A good size master bedroom and ensuite.
I think the whole package together is brilliant.
But it just doesn't fire my rockets
because it perhaps doesn't have that character, the quirkiness,
the nooks and crannies that maybe I'm looking for.
-Hello there. Have you had a good look around?
-Yes, we have.
-How is that rocket launch going?
The launch went fine, we got into orbit, but then I think we drifted back down to Earth.
-Well, don't worry because we've still got a lot more to see.
Sally and Jeff will be able to enjoy
Dorset's spectacular countryside and coastline,
but they will need to be aware of potential troubles at sea
in the stretch between Portland and Weymouth.
These treacherous waters are known as the Portland Race,
where two tides clash, causing fierce currents between the bill
and the Shambles sandbanks.
The Portland Bill lighthouse built nearly a century ago is
a vital beacon for vessels to steer a safe course through this channel.
The lighthouse became automated in 1996 but before that,
Larry Walker was the principal light-keeper
and lived here for 26 years.
There is something very romantic and yet awe-inspiring about
the job of living here, working up there and protecting our shores.
Yes, it's nice to think that when you see the beams of light going around here at night
to think there is somebody out there waiting for that flash of light
to tell them where they are and guide them to safety.
Since the lighthouse has been built I'm quite happy to say that no major catastrophes have occurred.
-So it's doing its job.
-It is doing its job.
Standing at 135 feet, it's a trudge the 155 steps to the top.
But I can see a light at the end of it, and impressive it is too.
The lens is made up of four panels which gives Portland Bill lighthouse
a distinct character of its own, which is four white flashes every 20 seconds.
The lens here will actually enable the light from that 1,000 watt bulb
-to be seen in excess of 25 miles away.
It's a real feat of engineering,
and controlled along with another 68 lighthouses by the Harwich Operation Centre
some 240 miles away in Essex.
But our work is not quite done.
In true light-keeping tradition, Larry lets me
-raise the sign aloft and what a view.
-There we are.
-The lighthouse is manned today.
-It is today.
I have learnt a lot about lighthouses
but I wonder what Sally and Jeff make of the houses they have seen
so far on their property search?
-So how did you feel when we first saw the barn?
-I loved the kitchen.
That was such a great kitchen for entertaining,
and the living room with that wonderful fire.
I liked the snug as a separate room where you could go away and tuck yourself away.
I also liked the room at the top of the stairs where you could
look out over the grounds.
I think as a library that's got a lot of possibilities.
So what about this afternoon, the house with the hot tub?
Actually, my first impression as we drove up to it
and we went through the village, I thought this is a nice village.
It certainly is very modern. It's very easy.
You could move in there straightaway. It doesn't need anything doing.
And I did like the kitchen, actually.
Plus you have got that dining area at the end.
So again, a great kitchen for entertaining.
I think the thing that sold it to me was the garden.
Having the stream running through there was just such an added bonus.
Yes. Again, possibilities.
It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow
and whether it's possible to bring those two things together.
The location and the house. So, yeah, I look forward to tomorrow.
Sally and Jeff want to up sticks from the suburbs of Surrey
and make the up-size of a lifetime to rural Dorset.
With a £600,000 budget, they want this move to be their very last.
So far, they have seen two properties,
but coming up our house and makes them break into a sweat.
For your next surprise!
Oh, wow! Look at this.
And the mystery house where downsizing would reap huge rewards.
It's the start of day two.
So far, Jeff and Sally have really not been that specific
about the style of property they want.
We have shown them something new,
but today it's all about age, character and thatch.
Our next property takes us 19 miles from Dorchester
to the village of Okeford Fitzpaine
with a slightly longer hour's drive for Jeff into Weymouth.
It's a slice of quintessential Dorset,
surrounded by fields and hedgerows.
The heart of the village is made up of thatched cottages
and stone manor houses, along with a fine local pub and village store.
Our next house is totally in-keeping.
After yesterday, it's very evident that you want to be near to a village,
or in the heart of a village, and you're looking for a bit more character. Some quirks.
So here we are in Okeford Fitzpaine in the heart of the village.
And I want to show you this property which has character by the oodles.
-And a thatched roof. Nice.
-I like the look of it.
Good. Let's just wander around the front.
-So this is the front of the property. Isn't it gorgeous?
-It is very impressive.
This property was actually two cottages which I think you can
clearly see from here as well, dating back to the 17th century.
-It is Grade II listed.
-It looks lovely.
-Bags of character.
It's got that cottagey feel and a few surprises in there, so let's have a look.
I think it's hard not to fall in love with
the character of this cottage and you get twice the space.
Watch your head there. It is a cottage.
-Oh, this is a country kitchen, isn't it?
-A real country kitchen.
-Lovely. Real character. Real beams.
You said you wanted beams, Jeff. You've got beams.
An antique feel about it from the start. It's a real country kitchen.
It's certainly smaller perhaps than I would have envisaged,
but I'm sure it's adaptable.
Whether it's right for us, I don't know.
Let's find out. Let's keep exploring and see how we get on.
This living room really shows off the fact that this was once two cottages.
You get double for your money.
-Two inglenook fireplaces.
-It's almost like walking into a museum.
-A beautiful cottage.
And there's a lot of light through this room as well.
You've got these nice wide windows and all of this character.
I love it. And then divided into a separate living area.
-It's got possibilities.
-It definitely has.
The one thing that worries me is the walls.
We have got a lot of pictures and artefacts that we would like to
hang up on the walls and there ain't much wall space to hang those on.
There is a bit more to show you on this floor which I think is going to surprise you.
One of the things you wanted was an extra reception room.
In here, another one, again with lots of character.
And actually a good size as a dining room.
-There is lots of space in here for a big table.
-A nice deep window.
-How are we doing so far?
Maybe there are more surprises to come.
Well, there is certainly more space through here.
Oh, right. This is an amazing library, isn't it?
-It's a great space, isn't it?
-It's just very relaxing.
The whole property,
you could really chill out of an evening or on a winter's day
with the fires going and I think that is the attractiveness of it.
You could maybe get away with putting a few fire engines up instead of some books.
We have got a lot of books.
There is a little bit more to see. Out this way.
This cottage has that winning combination of Jeff's beloved nooks and crannies
and a whole host of different living areas that just seem to keep on going.
If you come through here, hidden behind the main living area.
-I wondered where the utility area was.
-A great space for the dogs.
-A nice Belfast sink.
-It's a bonus, isn't it?
-It is. Lovely.
But it's not the surprise. Sally, there is a shower room up there.
-Have a look in there and maybe open the airing cupboard.
-Oh, wow! Look at this.
-A little sauna.
-That really is a great addition. That is just amazing.
-It is superb.
-Fantastic downstairs, but now it's time to check out the bedrooms.
Up here, you have five bedrooms,
one of which is slightly smaller but there are three good size doubles.
In here is one of what could be your extra bedrooms for the guests.
Oh, yes. This would make a very nice guest bedroom, wouldn't it?
-It would be a lovely place to come at the end of the day.
-I like it.
It's so quiet and peaceful, isn't it?
I'm just amazed at how many fireplaces
they have in this property.
-There is a feature for every room pretty much, isn't there?
They seem to be finding the character charm of this property irresistible.
The other four bedrooms include another beautiful double,
a twin room set into the eaves
and a small single room which they could use as a study.
There is also a spruce bathroom and separate WC on this floor.
And I'm sure they're going to be smitten by the master bedroom.
So, through here is your master bedroom.
That's a nice view, isn't it?
It's very quaint and obviously in character with the rest of the property.
But we do have a big bed and I do think getting the big bed
in here is going to be quite difficult.
So maybe if there was a bit more space, that would help.
-Why don't you just have a look over there.
Definitely more space in the bathroom.
This is a wonderful bathroom. A great size bath. I love it.
I can see real chill out potential here. It's marvellous. It really is.
A real surprise yet again.
I think this changes the aspect of this whole bedroom and makes it viable.
They seem really taken by the house so far, so we'll go outside
across to the barn which I think will really get their hearts racing.
-Ta-dah! Another surprise.
-For your next surprise!
-This is a good space for a gym.
-Isn't it super?
-It's a lovely space for a gym.
-There is so much you could do with this.
It doesn't have to be a gym. It could be the office.
Funny you should say that because what you have is an identical space just over there.
Currently, it's a workshop but you could make it an office.
-A fire engine museum?
-You say the nicest things!
It all looks picture perfect so far,
but will the all-important price fit the bill?
As you'd expect with such a wonderful cottage,
-you have the perfect cottage garden. It's beautiful, isn't it?
It really is a beautiful garden and one that fits in so perfectly
with the property, doesn't it?
It is a beautiful garden.
It comes with a fantastic and very impressive cottage in the heart of a wonderful village.
It could be yours,
but how much do you think you'd have to pay to get it?
I really don't know. You first. I'm stuck with this one.
I think it's so quintessentially Dorset that we're probably
talking about 635,000 at least.
I would probably go for a little bit more than that. 650,000.
-Do you know, this property is on the market at £595,000.
-You could have two saunas!
-It is a good price.
-We need to go and just have more of a snoop around, I think.
-Off you go.
-Let me know your thoughts a bit later on.
This is the quintessential Dorset cottage.
They've got their own dream about what they want to do when they move here,
but this would fit most people's dreams
and, at that price, it could be the perfect home for them.
So, within budget at £595,000, this traditional Dorset cottage
fits Sally and Jeff's brief for their all-important last move.
It has three spacious versatile living areas,
lots of original features with beams and fireplaces, five bedrooms with
a master ensuite, and a ready-made sauna and space for a gym.
To have a gym there, which was one thing that was very high
on our list of things and it's there ready made.
It is higgledy-piggledy.
I like the nooks and the crannies and the twists and turns.
It's not stylised in anyway. It's not angular.
It's all very fitting and with beautiful wood beams throughout.
I think this would be a lovely place to relax, actually.
And you have got enough space here to relax with a number of friends.
I like it very much.
I love the fact that it really is a Dorset cottage and has got so much history.
I would love to live here.
-Hello. You got lost in there.
-Or stuck in the sauna perhaps!
You can tell me about that later on. We've still got more to do.
During his time as a brigadier in the armed forces,
Jeff has launched lifeboats for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
The RNLI has charitable status
and since Sally wants to continue with her voluntary fundraising work,
we thought it would be a great way of combining their interests.
So they are going to meet the coxswain at the Weymouth station.
-Hello, Sally. Nice to meet you. I'm Andy and you've come to see a bit about what work we do.
The RNLI volunteers at Weymouth station have rescued
over 2,500 people since it was established 140 years ago.
The Weymouth station has two operational boats.
A smaller boat for inshore waters
and 17 metre rescue boat used in open waters.
How many incidents do you get called out to, Andy?
That can vary from year to year, but on an average between 90 and 100 services a year.
That equates out to about twice a week throughout the year.
So if you have a shout, how quickly can you actually get the crew together and get going?
Generally, the boats are going down the harbour within 10 minutes.
Jeff and Sally are joining the crew for a routine training exercise
so it's weather gear on and time to set sail for a man overboard drill.
Only this time, a fender is being used.
But it's a chance for Jeff to take to the helm.
This is where we come to manoeuvre the boat to go alongside a casualty or recover people.
One person who sees them go overboard will be responsible
to maintain eye contact with that person at all time.
The other crew are getting ready to recover the person.
Man overboard starboard side. Wheel hard to starboard.
So you come 60 degrees off hard to port.
Keep coming around to our reciprocal course and there he is. Brilliant.
Under Andy's expert eye, Jeff steers the boat safely to the spot where the fender is then hauled in.
-Brilliant. Well done. Congratulations.
-Thank you very much. We saved the day.
You have saved your first person.
With their rescue job done, it's time to return to shore.
Or perhaps this will be the first of many trips out on the water
when Jeff and Sally move down the Dorset for good.
Up until now, Jeff and Sally have been pretty definite about one thing.
They want space, and lots of it.
But who needs space when you have a view like that?
It's mystery house time.
Everything has been full of surprises so far, hasn't it?
So what do you think we could shock you with now that would really be a surprise?
-Well, perhaps an underground bunker!
-That would be fitting.
-A castle, a barracks.
Who knows what we're going to be tested out with?
But please not a converted fire station! Please not!
Darn! That's just what I was thinking.
Our mystery property is five miles from Dorchester
in the village of Sutton Poyntz,
meaning just a 15 minute drive into Weymouth for Jeff.
It's a picture perfect village
with period cottages overlooking the duck pond.
Set at the foot of the chalky Downs, it's ideally placed for seeing
the only hillside white horse carving in England with a rider.
Our mystery house will challenge Sally and Jeff
to rethink their lifestyle in a smaller property.
But there is a huge payoff.
The mystery house.
I thought we could come to a point where you see the best of what Dorset has to offer.
It really is an incredible view, isn't it?
Right out over the ocean and over the hills.
-It really is Dorset coastline at its best.
-At its best.
-Imagine if you could wake up every morning to views like that.
-It would be pretty impressive, wouldn't it?
Well, if you look just down there, if you buy that property,
all of this could be your view. And that is our mystery house.
We've got a few steps to get down to get there, so follow me.
There is private parking at the top
and with these steps as the only way of access to this 1930s
Arts and Crafts inspired house, they won't be needing a gym.
In we come.
Straight through to the first reception room
and you start to appreciate what this house is all about.
-Still with the views through the window.
-Oh, yes. Look at that from here.
You could just sit there with a pair of binoculars
-or a telescope for a day and admire the view.
-Or a lifetime.
I think we should deal with this straight on.
It is a smaller house than the other houses that we have shown you.
I think you just need to take that in because what this house is about is the wonderful location,
the great views and the lifestyle you would live here. It's very open.
You can go out for wonderful walks.
-You can get fit with the stairs!
-Yes, you can certainly do that.
If you are looking for original features and quirkiness, this property certainly has it.
If you are looking for a stunning view, I don't think you could get much better.
-What do you think so far?
-Very, very impressed.
Let's wander over and have a look at the kitchen area.
It is sort of open plan, this house.
As I said, it is small, but I think it fits. It works for this property.
It is a lot smaller than we were looking for.
I think it would take a bit of getting used to.
But nevertheless, the views again maybe make it all worth it.
Maybe they do. Let's keep exploring and see how you feel.
There are more rooms which might solve the space problem.
-So this would be your living room.
-Open fire again?
-It is small.
-It might be a squeeze to get the furniture in.
A bit of cutting off the edges! But doable.
-Or maybe just starting again.
-Perhaps this move to Dorset for you could be...
-A fresh start.
I do like the feel of the house itself.
It has got the real cosy feel, which is nice.
Next door, there is another room currently used as a music studio, which would make a perfect snug.
Now, we'll head upstairs and admire the original features on the way.
This staircase, as I've said, is the Arts and Crafts movement staircase.
All that lovely wood. The great window there letting in lots of light.
It brings you up to the upper level.
You've got the same amount of space up here, but you do have a total of four bedrooms.
Along this way first of all.
I think it's a very cute family bathroom. Have a look.
-It's nice and bright, isn't it?
-Yes, nicely done.
Over this way, the toilet is separate.
I love this little feature here, the porthole window.
-This is like being in a ship again.
And if you were going to show off the friends you might want to
put them in here if they came to stay.
-I like this room. It's bright and light. Again, a lovely view out.
It could be spoilt on your guests.
Off the landing there is another bedroom for their weekend visitors to enjoy.
There's also a through room into the master bedroom,
which could convert to a useful dressing room and master ensuite.
And this is back in to the extension added by the current owners.
It does look good. And it all matches very nicely.
I think it's a lovely house and it has been very well looked after.
For me, it does feel small.
The views certainly are just stunning and that stands for a lot.
Let's see if those spectacular views can work their magic
on Jeff and Sally as we stroll down through the terraced garden.
-So down here, is your garden.
-It's lovely and quiet, actually.
-It's a nice quiet garden.
-It's very private.
-Maybe you could put a hot tub down here.
-Oh, yes, that's a good idea.
-Tucked away in that corner perhaps.
-I think that would be pretty good.
But over there, you can see, strategically placed, is a picnic table
and that's because there is a little gate there
and that gate opens up and leads you straight through.
There's a public right of way running across the fields,
-running behind us. It's a wonderful walk.
-That is good.
You can walk into the nearest village, off to the shops, in about 10 to 15 minutes.
If you are going to have a new dogs where better to have them for lovely walks?
I know this house is smaller.
It doesn't come with the gym or the added extras that you wanted.
But I have to say, with all of this available to you, you'd get plenty of exercise anyway, wouldn't you?
In different ways.
But as you said, it's a compromise between the views,
which you won't get anywhere else, and the smallness of the house.
We would have to adapt to fit in here
and I think you are never going to get that 100% success solution.
-It's just a matter of balance.
-How much do you think it's worth?
I think it's difficult because it has that beautiful view.
It's a very attractive house. I'm going to go for 550,000.
I'm going to hedge my bets a little bit and say a little bit less than that. £535,000.
So quite a lot under your budget.
You are both right but you're both wrong.
It is under budget but not that much under budget.
-It's on the market for £575,000.
-OK. All right.
-What do you think?
-It is a good price.
I can see why it is that price because it does have
so many redeeming features and it is a very attractive house.
-A little bit of the best of both worlds, if not a bit smaller.
But there is still enough for you to go and wander around so head back up those stairs
and have a look around the property and I'll see you later on.
There you go, that is our mystery house.
Designed to stretch them a little and make them think about a different lifestyle.
Is it for them? Who knows?
All I do know is, that is one spectacular view.
If Sally and Jeff take the downsize option with this Arts and Crafts thatched house,
they'd be under budget at £575,000
and get an open plan kitchen and living room, four bedrooms
and wonderful views of the Dorset countryside.
It is also walking distance to the village for Sally
and just three miles to Weymouth for Jeff's work.
The mystery house offers such a fabulous view that you could
just not get anywhere else. It is totally unique.
We talked about having some sort of change of lifestyle
and I think we would need to do that if we were going to live here
because it is definitely smaller than we were thinking of getting.
If you look at the space here,
it's probably even smaller than we already have.
From an entertaining point of view, it would be
not as easy to manage as we would have hoped for.
It's doable, but catering for 10 people,
six of whom were staying, might be a bit tight.
Very much thinking about Dorset
and an escape to the country feel about it.
It is the Dorset dream.
I had to use this bell. I couldn't resist it.
-Now, are you ready for the stairs?
We've got plenty to get up, lots to think about and decisions to make.
Sally and Jeff's house tour of Dorset is over, leaving them with plenty to think about.
After over 30 years in the Army, Jeff is used to making decisions
and giving orders. But Sally, she is used to ruling the roost
and now they have to make a decision together.
What will they come up with?
We have been on not quite a military operation,
but it has certainly been a journey, hasn't it, the last couple of days?
Lots of properties and lost to talk about so it's time to go through them.
We started with that barn conversion out in Kingston Russell.
-What did you think of that one?
-It was a TARDIS.
From the outside, it looked very small, but it had huge depth.
It was the wow factor.
There were so many nooks and crannies,
and the big beams upstairs I thought were just fantastic. I love it.
-Quite an incredible property, really.
-It wasn't close to a village. It was quite remote, really.
I guess, for me, that was probably the one thing I wasn't so sure about
because I've always said I want to be close to the heart of the village.
So if we did decide that that was the place for us,
that would be a real compromise for me.
Let's talk about the property with the hot tub.
That is quite an unusual thing to have on your wish-list.
I must say, I really didn't think you would come up with a property
that actually had a hot tub, so it had a lot of super features.
What did you think of it, Jeff?
It had a beautiful garden but the house was a bit square and angular.
It didn't have the nooks and crannies and the angles and the beams.
I just felt it lacked that bit of character.
Well, from something perhaps lacking in character to the quintessential Dorset cottage.
Yes. That was absolutely beautiful.
It was a lovely house.
Although it was an old property, it had all those extra things like the outbuilding with the gym space.
Just so much there as well as a beautiful inside,
which was delightful.
Absolutely fabulous old oak beams in there, beautiful cottage garden.
Finally, the mystery house.
Always designed to throw a curveball into the situation.
We know you said you wanted size. It was definitely smaller, but it had fabulous views.
What a dilemma - to have such wonderful views that you
could just sit there and watch forever.
You couldn't ask for a better view.
But the house itself was just a little bit too small for us, I think.
I think it would really mean a complete change of the way
we even approach the lifestyle we have got at the moment.
So it would be a real challenge to even consider that house.
We just want that extra space and I think certainly one
of the properties we've seen this week will give us that opportunity.
Which one of those properties do you think could be it for you?
The old barn I think was the one that fired my rockets the most.
What I would like to do is to go back, see how long it takes me
to walk into Winterbourne Abbas for instance
and maybe then decide whether I can make that compromise.
Jeff, how are you going to persuade her?
We are going for a walk next week.
Get your hiking boots out because here we go.
I really hope it all works out well
and you have finally found your perfect Dorset home.
-We've really enjoyed the journey with you and I wish you luck.
-Thoroughly enjoyed the time. Thanks.
What a journey.
Jeff seems pretty sure where him and Sally are going to end up,
but I still think that Sally might just pull rank
and make a different decision.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
But until then, company dismissed.
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Denise Nurse is in Dorset helping an ex-army couple settle down for good. After having lived in 30 different properties around the world, will their 600,000 pound budget finally find them their ideal home?