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Behind me is the tallest cliff on the south coast of England,
which, on a clear day, can be seen for miles.
Where am I? Find out as we escape to the country.
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple ditch the city suburbs
and build a new life for themselves in the country.
We've some happy house-hunters on our hands.
-What a super kitchen.
Good Lord. Oh, Nicki.
And the mystery house throws down the gauntlet of a green lifestyle.
This week, we're in the ever-popular county of Dorset.
And I'm in the small village of Seatown,
which, despite its name, has never actually been a town.
The cliff behind me is called Golden Cap
and is formed of golden greensand which you can see at the top.
At 626 feet,
it's the highest point on the whole of Britain's south coast.
Dorset not only shares borders
with four other counties, but also looks out
over the English Channel where you'll find England's first Natural World Heritage Site -
95 miles of sweeping Jurassic coastline
whose fossil-rich red sandstone and limestone harbour 180 million years of natural history.
Dorset also has a long and industrious maritime history
that's set to continue with the 2012 Olympic sailing events taking place in Weymouth.
But there's much more to Dorset than its coast.
Behind its beaches is a county rich in unspoilt countryside and picture-postcard villages.
All a reminder of Dorset's rural heritage.
With not even a mile of motorway in the county,
it's a perfect place to be Far From The Madding Crowd,
as Thomas Hardy, Dorset's most famous author, might have said.
The houses Thomas Hardy described here in Dorset are in demand as much as ever.
So much so that the average property price in this county
is a whopping 27% above the national average.
With that in mind, take a look at what's currently on the market here.
For £1.5 million, this eight-bedroom Grade II listed country house
in Charlton Down has been lovingly refurbished.
Its two stunning reception rooms have open fireplaces
and the light, spacious kitchen overlooks 1.75 acres of grounds
which include a tennis court.
Or you could go ranch-style with this three-bedroomed bungalow
for £625,000 in Ferndown.
It comes with 2.5 acres of paddock with stables.
And there's the chance to get cosy inside by the feature inglenook fireplace.
And at £400,000, this three-bedroom character cottage in Tincleton
offers surprisingly modern living spaces throughout its quality kitchen and open-plan living room
where French doors lead out to the garden.
There we are. Some great examples of houses for sale here in Dorset.
Let's hope the ones we show this week's escapees match their expectations. Time to meet them.
Nigel and Frieda have lived in their large six-bedroom Edwardian home
close to Nottingham city centre for 25 years.
But now their three daughters are grown up,
they feel it's time to downsize and make a new start in the country.
This is a house for a family, not just for two people.
We wanted to go somewhere different
and change our lifestyle.
Both are very open-minded when it comes to the style of properties we show them,
but have strong thoughts on what they need in their home.
Two reception rooms, because Nigel watches football on television quite a lot and I don't.
-Guilty as charged.
Three bedrooms minimum.
A decent-sized kitchen.
We both like to cook and we like the other person to be in the room
whilst we're cooking so we can chat or do the crossword.
-And drink a glass of wine.
-And drink a glass of wine.
We do like to entertain. We love cooking for other people.
Besides entertaining, how do they plan to keep themselves busy once they've moved?
One of the things we're keen on, and we want to continue to do, is to play golf.
It'd be important, actually, that our house was within perhaps 10 miles of a golf course.
And a decent one.
I sing and I would want to join a singing group.
It's a wonderful way to make friends. It's a fantastic thing to do.
The couple are both linguists and Nigel currently runs his own translation business from home.
In the new house, it'd be great to have my own study as a separate room.
Frieda needs her artistic space.
This is my studio. It was a bedroom, one of my children's bedrooms.
Basically, that means I have to carry everything upstairs.
What I'd really like is an outbuilding.
This is my piano. I love it. It's got to come with me wherever I go
and it's got to have a really nice place to put it in. It deserves it.
It's been around a long time.
They're also keen to live in a more eco-friendly way.
Here, we've got a condensing boiler.
We've got energy-saving bulbs.
We compost our food.
We'd be interested in finding out more
and looking at the possibilities of doing something with a new house,
perhaps in terms of solar panels or geothermal energy.
Frieda and Nigel need to know how much they have to spend,
so we've asked a local estate agent to value their home.
This is a wonderful six-bedroom family home with immense character, situated in an excellent plot
in the heart of West Bridgford and, in my opinion,
the value of this property is £550,000.
Well, we're very pleased with Peter's valuation of £550,000.
Our budget for the new house, ideally, would be £500,000.
Nigel and Frieda have chosen a very popular area for their escape to the country.
The linguistic couple want a minimum three-bedroomed detached house with enough space for an artist's studio.
They'd also like a well-appointed kitchen and two reception rooms
so that Frieda can get away from the football - for a budget of £500,000.
My problem is most buyers have a pretty clear idea of what style of house they want to buy.
Frieda and Nigel don't, which makes my life a little bit more complicated.
So much to choose from, so little time.
Although we'll be starting our search in Dorset,
I think we may also need to show them
what the county of Somerset to the north has to offer,
where they might be surprised
by how much more their money will get them.
After all, houses in Somerset are on average 24% cheaper than in Dorset.
We'll be showing Nigel and Frieda some great properties but, as usual,
our mystery house will put their preconceptions to the test.
And, of course, I won't be revealing the property price tags until they've had a guess first.
Hello, Nigel and Frieda. Welcome to West Dorset.
-Are you looking forward to the next few days?
-We're really are.
-I must admit, a beautiful part of the world.
Let's talk money straight away.
Budget for this house, half a million pounds.
A nice round £500,000.
-We're going to keep that on the nose, are we?
-You've set us quite a task because you love your current home, don't you?
25 years you've been there.
25 years since we were last house-hunting.
-That's a long time.
-It's been wonderful.
It's been a lovely house to bring a family up,
but now we're moving on. The family have gone.
And we want to get on with our lives and we want to live somewhere else and start a new adventure.
Have a new adventure. A new stage in our lives.
Hopefully, we'll find you something that won't make you miss your current house too much
if we get everything right for you.
-Let's hope so.
-You don't want too much of a project, do you?
But you're quite open to what you're after.
-The brief is quite wide.
-It is, isn't it?
So we don't have a fixed idea, for example, about style, age... We'll leave it up to you.
-We want to be surprised.
-It's a blank canvas.
-But not too much work that's needed to be done by you.
Now, you're both more interested in living, well, a more green life, aren't you?
Yes, the house we're in at the moment uses a lot of energy
and we're looking to reduce our carbon footprint in a more energy-efficient house.
Yes. One of our daughters works in the charity sector
and is very keen that we should follow that sort of life,
so we have got into it recently in quite a big way, yes.
So we've got some great properties lined up for you to see,
and, of course, the mystery house as well.
-So shall we start?
'Despite their extensive wish-list, we'll be keeping under Nigel and Frieda's £500,000 limit
'so they won't incur the 4% stamp duty
'which would be a hefty sum to pay.
'They want their dream home
'to have enough space for Frieda's piano
'and for Nigel to watch the football..'
Now, Frieda, I hear you've got a very good voice.
-Well, it's not that good, actually!
-Are you being modest?
I love to sing and have done ever since I was a child, so, um...
I belong to two groups in Nottingham.
So it's important, when we find you your house,
-that it's got a good community around it.
-Absolutely. Somewhere to sing.
Somewhere I can meet some like-minded people.
-What about you, Nigel? Have you got a voice?
-Strictly shower room.
-Private performances only.
We kick off our property search in the south-west corner of Dorset,
where we're heading to Charmouth, just a mile from Lyme Regis.
This beautiful coastal village sits in an area of outstanding beauty.
Along with plenty of independent shops, there's a real communal feel, which will appeal to Frieda.
Our first property is this detached 1930s house right by the coast,
so I can't wait to see what Nigel and Frieda think of it.
-This is your first house.
-Wow. It's quite pretty, isn't it?
-How would you feel about living close to the sea?
-That's what we want. Yeah.
-This house has the most amazing sea views.
-That's what I suspected. I'd love to see the other side.
-Good. Let's go and show you.
Well, they're really taken with the location,
so let's take a closer look inside.
-This goes straight into the first reception room.
Got a real gas fire here, but that is what I want to point out straight away. Have a look at that view.
-Wow. That's fantastic.
-That's the coastal path.
Isn't it beautiful?
But as a first reception room goes...?
-Could be a little small.
-But nice. Yes.
-Bijou, but with a great view.
-In the summer, it doesn't matter,
cos you just open those doors and sit outside.
-And we'll find plenty for you to do in the winter as well.
-I'm sure you will.
-Let's keep going...
We'll check out the second reception room.
Here is your dining room. This used to be the kitchen when the house was built,
so the range would have been in there.
There's currently an electric fire, but if you wanted to open it up and make a real fire, you could.
-Again, it's got the same views.
-It's got the view, yes. Yes.
-But in comparison to where you live now, it's a serious downsizing for you.
-It is a big step.
Six bedrooms, big Edwardian house. It's very different, isn't it?
It is, but we're going to have to think differently.
We've got to have a different mindset.
But you do seem quite realistic, I have to say.
Yes, we are. We've got to be realistic.
-Mm-hm. OK, well, let's see what you think of the kitchen.
It's pretty modern.
-Again, it's a fair size.
-I can see you adjusting while you're looking around.
-There's nowhere to sit.
-It's a nice, bright kitchen, but there's nowhere to sit.
-This is the extension.
-This was built about 17 years ago. Round the corner, you've got the conservatory.
With the right permission, you could open this right out.
We'd have to think hard about that. OK.
-Now, I know, at the moment, you haven't got an en suite.
This house doesn't have an en suite.
However, it does have the family bathroom on the ground floor.
-Which is slightly unusual.
-How would you feel about that?
-I'd have to have a look at that.
-OK. Let's have a look.
So, take a peek in there. That's your family bathroom.
-But it's worth bearing in mind, cos we are on the ground floor.
-And you've got a huge bath in the corner. You've got the bath, the shower.
-Although it's not large, it has everything you want.
-Have a think about that. I'm going to take you upstairs.
-OK. We'll think about that.
It's definitely the views that are going to sell this property.
Upstairs certainly doesn't disappoint on that front, either.
You've got three double bedrooms upstairs.
-I would call this the master, but you're straight to that view.
-I didn't realise you could see the beach. Isn't that wonderful?
-That's a walk-in wardrobe at the moment.
-You could change that.
With the bathroom downstairs, I know that wasn't ideal. The wall there isn't a supporting wall,
-so you could take that out and make that...
-An en suite.
Either an en suite for this room, or a family bathroom for upstairs.
-Let's look at one of the other bedrooms and then I'll take you outside.
So, here we are. We can't get away from that view.
-Again, it is wonderful.
-It is lovely.
Bringing it back to the bedrooms and size...
This is fine as a guest bedroom.
What do you think, then, Nigel?
I'm concerned about just three bedrooms, without study space.
I'm not sure it's going to be adequate, really, when we have people visit.
But we'll see.
Well, the third double room is a good size
with a basin and WC cleverly tucked away.
Our couple could make changes to the property,
which might be worth it for those magnificent coastal views.
So here is your garden and, of course, that spectacular view.
You've been itching since we first arrived...
-That view is superb.
-It is beautiful.
-That is the Jurassic Coast.
-Millions and millions of years old.
-Would you get bored with it?
-Not in a million years.
-We're actually in Lyme Bay.
-But it is quite amazing.
But - cos I keep pulling you back from that view to the property itself -
this is a very mature garden, it's been looked after so well.
-Just under half an acre.
-Really? It's a gardener's garden, isn't it?
-I mean, it is so beautifully kept.
-Now, where we're standing,
there isn't any studio space, but you could build a structure here. All would depend on the price.
-Have you had time to have a think?
-How can you put a price on that view?
It's the unknown in the price.
I agree with Nigel. I think the house itself would probably be, if we didn't have the view,
about 400,000, but the view... I'd say 450.
-OK. You're both out, actually. You're both under.
-The current asking price is £495,000.
-You can understand why.
-You can. Yeah. It is under budget
-and we would have to do a lot to it. I need somewhere to work.
And there's nowhere here.
Why don't you take a wander, have another look
-and I'll catch up with you in a while.
-OK. Thanks, Nicki. Thank you.
It is a prime location. You can't fail to be impressed with those views,
but the house, it is delightful but it is on the small side for them.
Whether they'll change their mind - we'll have to wait and see.
You can change a house but you can't change its location,
and this house is under budget at £495,000, offering them...
..and with an insulation retro fit,
this property could achieve an energy-efficient D rating.
-You could imagine sitting here, though, and reading the Sunday newspapers.
-You certainly could.
The views and the garden are absolutely wonderful,
but the house itself, unfortunately, I think that's going to be too small for us.
-That's a nice view.
-A lovely view.
-Superb view, yeah.
-It is the only sitting room and...
-Where are you going to go?
-Exactly. Where are you going to go?!
It'd be a wonderful place to spend a holiday, for example, but it's not really ticking the boxes
-for somewhere to live permanently.
-You look comfortable, Nicki.
I am very comfortable. I could stay here all day, but you're going to drag me away.
Time to go!
Although they've spent time in Dorset, they haven't yet visited Lyme Regis,
a popular seaside town with coastal walks for Nigel,
and plenty of art galleries to keep Frieda happy.
To find out more about the town's rich past,
they're meeting town guide, Carl Salter.
Away from the seafront, Lyme Regis's maze of charming medieval back streets still survive today,
the most famous being Sherborne Lane,
used by monks escorting pilgrims back to Sherborne Abbey, some 30 miles away.
A lot of people came to Sherborne Abbey as pilgrims, hoping for a cure for whatever ailments they had.
It was quite dangerous travelling by coach
so they came by sea, and they would come in at the harbour, there,
and then the monks from Sherborne would come down here
and take them off. Hopefully, they'd get the cure for whatever ailment they had.
Dorset's very own Lourdes, then.
The Lepers' Well marks the spot where, 700 years ago, a lepers' hospital stood,
which treated all manner of medieval skin conditions.
Sherborne Lane leads down to the River Lym and to the restored 14th-century town mill.
It's new and old power sources would no doubt interest our eco-enthusiasts.
-So what actually powers the mill?
-It's powered by its original water wheel,
but also, there is another twist to it because, just recently,
we've gone green in Lyme, and there has been a hydro-electric turbine put in
so that now we produce our own electricity.
-Also, any extra power then goes into the National Grid.
Down by the sea are yet more historic remains,
with the harbour, known as The Cobb, once a prosperous medieval port.
I'm sure Nigel and Frieda would be in there element here by the sea,
and luckily, our next property is just 13 miles away,
near the village of Loders.
Tucked away in quiet countryside, Loders is your archetypal rural Dorset village,
with pretty Hamstone cottages, thatched roofs,
an inviting pub and handsome church, dating back to the 12th century.
A mile outside the village,
our first house serves up a very special 20th-century take on a traditional Dorset house.
-Gosh. This is different.
-It is a stunning house.
-It is stunning, yes.
-Architecturally designed by the current owner.
It took him three years to actually build the house.
-OK, more intriguing.
-You're liking the look?
-That little bit there, that's...
That's the car port at the moment. Shall we go and explore?
-It certainly looks impressive.
Got the wow factor when we walked up that drive.
-From the outside.
-Let's hope we have the same inside.
-Yes, let's hope.
They seem intrigued by the outside
and I think they're going to be pretty impressed by what the inside offers.
-So with this house, you go straight into the dining hall.
Very bright. Lovely tiles.
Copper slate, isn't it? They're beautiful.
It's like a greenhouse, isn't it? With all these...
All that glass. The glass wall.
The growth there as well.
And you've got double glazing.
Nigel, not to leave you out - I know work is important and you need an office.
As you can see, an architect lives here at the moment, but that could potentially be your office.
Indeed, yes, it looks lovely.
And not shut off from the rest of the house.
-No, that's a big enough space for me.
-That would work?
I'm glad all this works. Now, turn around,
because this is your sitting room.
Wow. Look at that.
What a lovely space.
-Impressed as you walk through?
Definitely. It's very light, very open.
Modern. Nice lines.
-I like the wooden A-frame.
-I'm a big gobsmacked, actually.
-It's very unusual.
-I can see our furniture in here.
-I feel it's got a lot of character,
-even though it's a new build.
-Good. Let's keep going, then.
-Through to the kitchen.
It's very positive so far and I'm sure the kitchen will give them that extra space they're looking for.
Here we are.
-Yes. Oh, right.
-So we are...? Oh, I see!
-So another dining area. Informal dining.
-I can see us using that a lot.
-Or evening, because that's west?
-So evening that side, morning that side.
-I can tell, isn't it? Because you're an artist.
-So important. I don't like sitting in the dark.
-In the evenings, you can have drinks out there.
-On your balcony.
And this obviously is the kitchen.
It looks very pleasant. Nice exposed beams and all the rest of it.
-The great thing is you've got a utility room through there.
-With extra storage.
-That's interesting. Right. And this little bit is lovely.
-Works well, doesn't it?
-Get the newspapers out and sit around there with a cup of coffee.
-Excellent, and you've got the downstairs cloakroom next door.
-Now it's time to go upstairs.
Brilliant. Nigel and Frieda seem really excited by the design and layout of the downstairs.
We'll head upstairs and take a look at the first of the three bedrooms in this property.
So another unusual sized room.
-Which seems to be the theme in this property.
Yes. Oh, right.
-Talk to me.
I thought it was going to be bigger.
I suppose I'd forgotten that that was the A-frame for the lounge.
So there's nothing on top of that, of course.
-You've got storage in there so you've got a walk-in wardrobe through there.
-I think so, just.
-OK. Let me show you the family bathroom that's next door.
So again, you've got the unusual layout.
That's nice, the lovely modern bathroom furniture and the lovely big bath. That's what I like.
-But where's the shower?
-It's one of those hand showers.
-Are you a shower man?
-Is there space to put a shower here?
-You could perhaps get one in there but there are other options with this property.
Let's see if we can find you a shower.
I'm not giving up that easily, Nigel.
The second bedroom could solve that shower problem.
-This is a large double.
-Out of the three.
-Yes. That's a nice size.
-Good size. And light.
This could be a great studio.
It's got quite an artistic feel.
It has, but we really need the bedroom space. That's the problem.
It would be a shame to mess these lovely old floorboards up.
With only the family bathroom and no shower, Nigel,
what you could do is actually go through because that's a stud wall.
There's some storage space on the other side,
so you could put an en suite there. It's big enough.
-And then you've got a nice large bedroom with a bathroom.
-This could be the master.
-Shall we go downstairs and look at the garden?
-Yes, let's do that.
-That would be lovely.
Off the landing, there's also a useful single bedroom.
But now we'll make our way outside to the garden which should suit them down to the ground.
-So the garden's just under a quarter of an acre.
-That sounds great.
And it's nicely done. It's quite low-maintenance.
There's an area at the back for growing your own vegetables.
-Got your greenhouse.
And just looking, this is a stunning-looking property, isn't it?
With your artistic nature in mind - the car port at the moment -
unless you really wanted to keep it as a car port, this could be a fantastic studio.
Yeah, we thought of that.
If you put glass across the front, you've got a workroom there for you, potentially.
Yes, that's what's missing, really. So that is a solution.
So how much do you think this house is currently on the market for?
Hmm. Towards the top end of our budget. I'd say 480?
Do you know? I was going to say 480, actually. I was. I promise.
-It's currently on the market for £479,500.
-There you go.
-We are getting the hang of this.
-You are very close, indeed.
Which would leave just over £20,000.
-For alterations and improvements.
-Well, lots to think about, really.
Plenty of options, so why don't you have another wander?
-I think we will.
-And I'll catch up with you a bit later on.
Thanks, Nicki. Will do. Thanks.
Just shy of £480,000,
this bespoke architectural house
in a lovely rural setting
comes in under our couple's budget and would give them...
It's fully insulated,
but if they want to notch it up to a D energy rating,
they could install a condensing boiler to heat the house and water,
cutting their bills by 30%.
Block off the front and use it as either studio space for you or living accommodation.
It's a place I really could see myself living.
It's a beautiful house.
Out there on the balcony,
evening meal, out there with our friends in the formal dining room.
Some slight concerns on the amount of space we have here.
Both downstairs and upstairs, actually.
So I think you'd agree, it's a very unique house.
BOTH: Certainly is.
-Nigel, if you can grab the door?
-And we'd better hit the road.
The Dorset town of Bridport harbours an 800-year-old tradition of making nets and rope for the Navy,
as the land here was one of the few places in England where hemp and flax grew successfully.
Besides fishing and sailing, most of England's hangman nooses were made here during the Middle Ages.
So that "to be stabbed by the Bridport dagger" meant to be hanged.
They may be using synthetic material nowadays,
but the rope and net heritage is kept alive by a number of local netting businesses,
such as Edwards, one of the oldest companies in Bridport,
which turned its hand to making sports nets over 120 years ago.
Today, it's managed by Archie Berkeley.
Our particular niche in the market
is applying the traditional finishing skills of net-making to these sports nets.
What type of nets do you produce here for sport?
We make football, for example, tennis, golf, cricket and so on.
There's quite a pedigree with regard to football nets.
Edwards was the first company to manufacture the football net in the 19th century when it was invented.
Wow. Have you done any famous matches?
-You might have heard of the 1966 World Cup final?
-I have, yes.
That would give you an example. Those were all manufactured here.
-Wow, that's quite a claim to fame.
-It is indeed.
'The Bridport net business might be a cottage industry,
'but it's thriving and worth around £7 million a year.
'I'm meeting Ros, who's going to show me the ropes when it comes to finishing these nets.'
-Good to meet you.
You look hard at work there. So what are you doing?
-This is called shut in.
I'm joining two pieces of net together to make the start of a net.
-So you can make a really long net?
It comes in sections and you're putting it together?
Yes. You normally get pieces of net about 20 metres long
and you join them together.
You needle through the top, then you hold it with two of your fingers.
Make an knot, then you come to the bottom one, do exactly the same.
It would take a couple of months for me to get up to speed.
But I couldn't keep up with Ros who joins together 300 metres of netting a day. Still, I'll give it a go.
-Shall I swap?
-Yes, it's like cat's cradle.
-Through your top mesh.
-Pull it down.
-Pull it down.
-No, you've gone a bit...
You want to hold it with your...
Put those two fingers up to there.
God, I need more fingers. I've only got 10.
So this is a process that was done centuries ago and hasn't changed?
Yes. It's exactly the same. It's joining two bits of net together.
I know Bridport has such a reputation for net and rope-making,
but it still pays to do it by hand rather than by machine?
-Oh, yes, I think it looks neater.
'It's certainly harder than Ros made it look.
'At this rate, I'll be here all night.
So with the first day of our house search at an end,
Nigel and Frieda take time out to reflect on the houses they've looked at.
So, what did you think of the house with the view?
In terms of location, that house was absolutely perfect.
-The views were stupendous.
-They were, weren't they? They were spectacular.
-It had a cottage-y charm to it.
-It did, it certainly did.
But I don't think there was enough room for us, there wasn't enough space for two of us
to sit separately in the evenings.
If that were necessary!
-And then think about me working.
-There wasn't enough room for either of us to work,
a study for you or a studio for me.
-It's going to make a lovely house for somebody.
-But not us.
-The contemporary house that we saw.
-Didn't that have the wow factor?
-It had that lovely open feel about it.
-It certainly gave me a good feeling inside.
-And the garden, I liked that.
-The garden was great. Nowhere near as big. And easy to manage
With that house, we could see the potential to make some improvements,
make some extensions, and get it more to what we require.
Let's hope tomorrow we find something
that has some of the good points of both the houses we've seen, and more.
I'm hoping there will be something more on the environmental side as well, in terms of energy efficiency.
-That Nicki can come up with a miracle.
-A minor miracle.
A minor miracle, let's drink to that
'Nigel and Frieda want to up sticks from Nottingham to put down roots in or around Dorset.
'With a top budget of £500,000, they're looking for two reception rooms, a study for Nigel
'and an artist's studio for Frieda.
'SO far they've seen two houses, but coming up, Frieda resorts to some wishful thinking...'
I'm hoping it's going to be 499,950.
-Are you really hoping?
-I am hoping, yes!
And our mystery house has a whole load of hidden secrets within its walls.
It's the start of a new day,
and I think it's dawned on Nigel and Frieda
that although they want to downsize from a six-bedroom house by half,
a three-bedroom property isn't going to be big enough for them
and their friends and family when they want to stay.
So I think we're going to need to be realistic
and perhaps look at bigger houses offering more accommodation.
However, I'm not sure that on their budget of £500,000,
they're going to find what they want in Dorset.
So we're heading north to the county of Somerset to see what it has to offer.
I just hope this weather holds.
As properties can be up to 24% cheaper in Somerset than Dorset,
it's certainly a gamble worth taking.
Our next house is in the historic market town of Ilminster,
just 17 miles from Lyme Regis.
Renowned for its magnificent 15th-century minster church,
there would also be plenty of independent shops and market produce on our couple's doorstep,
and Frieda can be indulge her art and music passions
at the former Meeting House, now an art gallery and concert hall.
Our property is just a mile out of Ilminster.
This is your farmhouse.
OK. Right. The whole of this?
-Now, it is attached...
-..so that is a separate property.
-But I would say, keep an open mind on this property.
It's worth considering, so look at it from the outside,
-wait until you see what's inside.
'I think they're going to be delighted by the living space
'and character in this farmhouse, so let's take a look.'
Here we are in the entrance lobby.
I think I'll take my shoes off, because it's pretty muddy out there.
-This is obviously a newer part of the property,
but the wall that you're looking at, that is 250 years old.
Standing here, you can see that was the farmhouse,
and that was the mill barn - literally - the two separate doors.
Through there, you've got the cloakroom and the utility room.
Shall we start the tour?
Oh, yes, please, it looks fabulous.
Here's the drawing room, sitting room.
Dominated by that amazing inglenook fireplace.
-Incredible, it's amazing.
I think you could get your whole family in there, couldn't you, if it was cold?
We could! I can imagine sitting up next to that.
-Is that a wood-burning stove?
And if you look just to the side, that's an old bread oven which they've kept.
-It's a great room. Low ceilings, of course.
-Low ceilings, but that's OK. Not too low.
-And you've got the original beams.
-Yeah, they're original? Right.
-To the side, there's a large study.
-So, Nigel, I'll let you explore that in a little while, but plenty of room there.
I know entertaining is a big part of your lives,
so I don't think you'll be disappointed with the next room.
-Nigel, we're going to follow you through the door.
-What a super kitchen.
Nicki, good Lord.
Even I'm really smiling as I walk into this room.
-A beautiful kitchen.
Look at the floor!
And it's light and airy, with that door and the window.
-I love the brickwork round the stove, there.
-Look at that stove.
-So a big range...
-..but you'd get used to it?
Oh, yes, I'm always wanting more rings!
-Especially at Christmas.
-With all your family and grandchildren, going to keep you busy.
You've got a dining area there.
-And somewhere to sit, yes, lovely.
-Very impressed with this room.
-And it doesn't end there.
You've got another large room, currently used as the dining area.
That's a lovely size as well, isn't it?
So you could keep it as a dining area,
or you could make it into another reception room,
-and just have the kitchen as the dining place.
-Yeah, we could.
-Room for your piano, there.
-My piano could go there.
-That's important, isn't it?
-It is very important, yeah. Ideal.
-I'm going to move you on on that note. We're going to go upstairs, so let me lead the way.
'We've got a definite thumbs up here,
'so let's see if I can get them excited by what's on offer upstairs.'
-Heavens, look at that!
-How's that for a landing?
Well, that's just unbelievable.
There's a lot more to it than you think.
-You get to appreciate the whole length of the property.
'Leading off this impressive landing is a light, spacious family bathroom,
'and all four bedrooms, including two well-decorated doubles,
'perfect for when their daughters come to stay.
'And would this third bedroom be large enough for their guests?'
-This is the smallest of the smallest.
-But it's a great size!
For a guest room, it's just perfect.
-Yes, lovely room.
-It's lovely, and it's the smallest.
-It's the smallest.
-Oh, show us some more.
Well, now it's time to see where you both would be.
So, Nigel, if you want to lead the way, keep going along the landing.
'At the end of the landing is a real treat of a master bedroom for them.'
Ah, so this is your bedroom.
-It's spectacular, isn't it?
-Really. That's the chimney, is it, from downstairs?
-that's the inglenook. It's a great feature, isn't it?
-As it travels through the house.
And there's the bonus of a large en-suite with bath, and Nigel's beloved shower.
Frieda seems bowled over by the ample space and beautiful features in this house,
and it doesn't end there.
I can't wait to show them what they get outside.
So here is your garden.
I can't believe it.
-But it's a little bit more than just this garden.
If you look straight ahead to where the stable block is,
-and then take your eyes to the left, all of that is your land.
-You've got the chicken run there.
-Are you going to have chickens?
I'd love to have chickens, I really would.
-To get fresh free-range eggs, that would be great.
-Plenty of space for a vegetable patch.
If you look, there is a carport there.
The owners have got permission to have that extended and made into a proper structure.
Possibly a studio for you, Frieda.
-If that's not enough, can you see where the willow trees are?
-That's an island.
-I can see the bridge.
-You've got the River Isle going through - you've got your own island!
You know the rich and famous? It's the done thing to go and buy your own island? There you have it.
-We would have to put a duck house on it!
How much do you think this house is currently on the market for?
I'm going to guess it's going to be £540,000.
-Over budget, you're saying?
I'm hoping it's going to be 499,950.
-Are you really hoping?
-I am hoping!
If you've bought this property, with all this land,
you would have £5,000 change.
Really? Out of 500,000?
-You were close.
£5,000. Which could go towards...
The artist's studio!
It's not going to go towards an artist's studio.
So, yeah, £5,000 change.
You should go and have a look around the grounds, and then go back and take a look at the second property.
-Have a real think.
-We'll do that, thanks.
-Off you go. Go and check out those sheep.
Well, what a surprise.
A few reservations when they first arrived, but as soon as you walk through that door,
that farmhouse sells itself, and all of this, it's a bonus.
Under budget at £495,000,
this stunning Somerset farmhouse
was definitely worth crossing the border for.
The grounds already have planning permission
for an out building,
so Frieda would get her studio.
They could also retrofit
a condensing boiler
for their water and heating,
which could bump
this property's energy efficiency rating up to a D.
How amazing to have all this land.
-And a river! And a picnic table on the island.
I'm really glad we've come over the border to Somerset,
because I think you get a whole lot more for your money.
-This could be my study.
-Big enough for you?
Absolutely, yeah, it's fine. I could see myself working there.
I could certainly see us living here.
It's got everything we could ask for.
It's absolutely wonderful, and we would very seriously consider moving here.
-Hi, Nicki, is it time to go?
-It is, I'm going to have to drag you away.
So far, all our properties have been packed full of individual charm,
but what they had in character, they lacked in eco-features.
Retrofitting is a practice where energy-saving devices are fitted
to an existing property to reduce its carbon emissions.
With this in mind, Nigel and Frieda are meeting Charles of the Ecos Trust Charity
to learn what they could add to their home.
Over a third of a house's heat escapes through the walls,
so good insulation is vital.
Here we are.
This is what we are using.
-We are using sheep's wool insulation.
Now, that's really thick.
Yeah. It's a great product to use on walls on older houses.
-Where has that come from, Charles?
-That's from Cumbria.
You have a lower carbon footprint using these materials,
-because you don't use energy to produce them.
-No, the sheep use theirs.
-And then you've got this?
Yes, which is wood fibreboard. So you've got that, plus the sheep's wool,
wrapping up the whole frame, making it really warm.
In the UK, £8 billion of energy is wasted every year
because of bad insulation and poor heating systems,
but Chris shows Nigel and Frieda how solar energy can be harnessed to make savings.
Here's one of the skylights that we're going to be using on the roof.
-That will create a sun space. These are double-glazed,
argon-filled units - they'll reduce the amount of heat loss during the winter.
Are you going to be using solar panels as well?
Yes, we'll use solar thermal panels,
so that will provide heating for the hot water in the house,
so we're combining passive solar heating with active solar heating.
Maybe this is the sort of thing you could use when you move?
It could be, we'll certainly think about it, thanks for showing us.
-It's been fascinating.
We've shown Nigel and Frieda a variety of properties, but now it's time for the mystery house.
The couple are environmentally aware,
and hoping with this final property to see one or two green credentials.
Little do they know.
'Our mystery house takes us to the village of Stawell,
'close to the Somerset Levels.
'An array of architectural house styles are tucked away in the village,
'from chapel conversions to grand period properties,
'but nothing quite like our 21st-century mystery house, with its bang up-to-date green credentials.'
-This is the house I want to show you, because you wanted a house with eco-features, didn't you?
How about an eco-house?
-Looks really different.
-Very, very different.
-Two things I want to point out as we're standing here,
the front of the house is north-facing, so the windows at the front are much smaller.
They're triple-glazed, with argon gas, which keeps the heat in.
Also, if you look at the front of the lawn,
underneath that manhole is a huge, huge tank -
2,500 litres that can hold - all which comes off the roof.
-Exactly. That is for the toilets and the washing.
-So let's step inside and I'll show you around.
'This timber-framed eco-house is super insulated
'and includes a wall cavity filled with powdered recycled newspaper, but that's just one example.'
So come on in. I must admit, this is a first for me, an eco-property,
and I find it really exciting. Obviously, we're in the hallway.
Down there, you've got the utility room and the downstairs toilet,
and to the left, you've got a study, and that faces to the north.
-But I want to take you straight into the living area.
So, as you can see, open-plan living.
Yes, very light, very light and airy.
-You've got ceramic tiles on the floor.
-These are ceramic, are they?
Yeah. They've got a special thermal material underneath them,
so in the summer, it keeps the property cool and in the winter it retains the heat.
Where that sculpture is, that's actually going to be an automated wood-pellet burner.
You can see the pellets at the side.
That's going to be installed on that plinth by the builders,
-and that's going to provide most of the hot water and heating for this property.
Most of it will come from there.
Of course, wood is a renewable resource, isn't it?
It is. And the better news is it costs between £200 and £300 a year in wood pellets,
so once it's installed, that's the only cost you're going to have for that.
-How does that compare your house?
-That is... Oh!
That's probably our monthly costs.
-That's what I was thinking. That's a big difference, isn't it?
So you've got your open-plan living, you've got your dining area here.
The kitchen is next door, here.
-Not a largest of kitchens.
-That really doesn't matter,
because you've an extension of it here to sit, so that's fine.
-Energy-efficient white goods here.
-You have beech tops and you have pine - all sustainable forest material.
-As you'd expect.
'There's a second study for Nigel or Frieda to make their own,
'with French doors leading out to the garden.
'Going upstairs, the carpet is made from sisal, a renewable plant fibre.
'But now let's look at the four bedrooms in this eco-house.
'First stop, the master.'
So it's quite bare at a moment because it's only just been built.
-Yes, it looks a bit sparse.
-Imagine it with all of your belongings and everything.
-Would it be full?
It would, it would, yes.
-This is all cupboard space?
-Yes. Actually, this house has a lot of cupboard space.
They've thought about that.
-It makes a big difference, doesn't it?
-And you've got the view outside of the agricultural land and farm next door.
-Yeah, that's lovely, and a balcony.
-You've also got an en-suite.
Take a look. Go on, after you.
-Ample room, yeah.
And a nice shower.
Eco-taps, which aerates the water.
-Yes, so you use less.
-You use less. Have you got those at home?
-Very good, I'm impressed.
-We've already got them.
-Right, I've got more to show you.
There are three other bedrooms, including two bright single rooms,
one which leads onto the balcony.
The family bathroom has the all-important shower cubicle and a bath.
But we'll go through to size up the fourth bedroom.
-This is the second largest of the four bedrooms.
So big enough to get a double in.
-You can envisage that.
You've got storage there.
-It's got that beautiful balcony.
Yes, it's lovely, on to the orchard there, it's beautiful.
'I get the feeling Frieda and Nigel admire the green credentials
'of our mystery eco-house, but I wonder whether they've really clicked with it.
'Still, they're very open-minded, so maybe the price will clinch it.'
So here's the garden.
As you can see, it's been landscaped but not planted.
That won't be a very big job, will it?
No. Not a massive garden, but you didn't want a lot of land.
-That's true, yeah.
-Is it big enough?
-What do you think?
-I think this would be great for a busy young couple
that want an extremely low-maintenance garden,
but I think we'd probably want a bit more space outside.
What do you think? How much is it currently on the market for?
It's quite difficult to assess the...
extra cost involved in the energy-saving measures.
I would guess 440,000.
I'd put it probably a bit higher than that at about 460.
-The current asking price...
so well under your budget and four bedrooms,
-plus the two studies downstairs.
You could say it's competitively priced to encourage people to look at eco-houses
-Why don't you have another wander around?
-We will, thanks.
At £100,000 under budget, it's certainly worth another look.
-It certainly is.
-And I'll meet you in a little while.
-OK, thanks, Nicki.
A whopping £100,000 under budget.
Loads of eco-features,
and an impressive B energy efficiency rating,
which only 5% of UK properties currently have.
-One big, open-plan space.
-Yep, it's what we've got.
-What do you think?
Well, in principle, it's a great way of using limited space, but we do like to have our own space.
I'm very, very impressed with the eco-features in the house.
I was disappointed with myself, in a way, that I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped I would.
What do you think, Frieda? Is the garden big enough?
-I don't think so.
I'm not sure that I can see us having this as our home.
But I can imagine other people enjoying it - particularly younger people.
So all done and dusted?
Well, you've certainly given us a lot to think about with this one.
Good. Well, let's find somewhere nice and quiet
-where you can gather your thoughts together.
Well, our house hunt is at an end,
and I think the range of properties we've shown Nigel and Frieda
have given them a lot of different options to think about.
Nigel and Frieda have seen a variety of properties over two counties,
and I wonder if any of them have tempted the couple to get their chequebook out.
Well, there's only one way to find out - let's go and ask them.
-Well, Nigel and Frieda, it's certainly been a very enjoyable few days.
-It's been great.
But how do you think it's gone for you? Dorset and Somerset.
-All in one go.
-Two for the price of one.
Fantastic, it's been a lovely, lovely few days for us as well.
So shall we kick off with the gardener's cottage by the sea,
with that amazing garden?
What did you think about that?
It's a pretty amazing view and garden and, really, that was stunning.
What a way to start. Absolutely beautiful.
But the living accommodation, unfortunately, just wasn't big enough.
Simply not big enough. Charming but not big enough.
We looked at a new-build, architecturally-designed, can you remember your first impressions?
They were very positive. We really liked the...
I did anyway - I really liked the design from the outside and I took to it immediately.
-It was stunning, wasn't it?
-It was spectacular.
Downstairs was fine.
The sitting room was beautiful and there was an nice little study and a nice place to eat.
But we needed another room, really, and there was nowhere for me to work either,
so it wouldn't have been perfect.
A new day, and a property which, I think it would be fair to say,
caught your eye pretty instantly as you walked through the door - the old farmhouse.
As soon as we walked through the door, we were really impressed.
We were sucked into that house, it had an emotional pull.
It sort of said, "Come into my home..." You know, it was...
"You'll be comfortable here." It almost spoke to you
-as you walked in through the front door.
-I like that.
-It gave you that mmm feeling.
-Absolutely, it wanted you to go in,
and that was a very friendly atmosphere, you know?
Obviously a very happy family home.
And you were pretty surprised at the grounds,
all 2.5 acres that you didn't need!
Exactly! That was a bit of a surprise to both of us, I have to say.
Now, something completely different, and I think this is always the fun part, is the mystery house.
A slight curveball, very different,
but what this house brought was those real green values,
-being an eco-house.
-What did you both think?
-In terms of the energy efficiency, its green credentials if you like,
it was fantastic.
Unfortunately, for us, it wasn't big enough again, really.
And it didn't grab us the way the farmhouse did.
I think it will definitely appeal to some people, but just not to us.
-What's the next step going to be?
-Well, Nicki, we love the farmhouse,
so I think we're going to give that some more thought.
We like it so much we are seriously thinking about taking it further.
Well, that's great news, I'm absolutely delighted.
We'll be keeping our fingers crossed.
Can I say thank you? You've been tremendous these last few days.
You've been so open-minded and receptive to everything we've shown you.
You've shown us wonderful things, you've been a fantastic guide.
-It's been great fun.
-Keep in touch, won't you? Let us know how you get on.
It's been a real pleasure showing Nigel and Frieda the properties,
partly due to their open-mindedness and being open to our suggestions.
Although they had set their heart on Dorset, it's clear Somerset was a revelation.
One thing is clear, we've given them plenty of food for thought.
See you next time.
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Nicki Chapman helps a retired couple flee Nottingham for the Dorset countryside. They are after two living rooms, at least three bathrooms, an artist's studio and a study - all within walking distance of a village. With such an extensive wish list, will they manage to find what they want and still keep below the 500,000 pound stamp duty threshold?