Jules Hudson is in Wales helping a mother and daughter find a house where they can start a new life and business. Will they be won over by Wales's rustic charms?
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I'm in a county that has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the British Isles.
But it's not just the glory of this county's architecture that we're celebrating.
It was also the home of Charles Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce,
-the perfect vehicle to escape to the country in. Shall we, Anthony?
-Very good, sir.
'In today's show, we'll be helping a mother and daughter
'leave behind the toil of the city and escape to rural tranquillity.'
-I don't think my purse is big enough!
'I'll be taking them on a tour of some of the most tempting houses the area has to offer,
-'and things aren't always quite what they seem.'
'The final leg of our tour will deliver the mystery house,
'a property that might not have been on their hit list, but I can't wait to see their reaction.'
Well, today, I'm in Monmouthshire, basking in glorious sunshine
and being driven around in this wonderful 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom by Anthony.
-What a wonderful car you have.
You're a resident of Monmouthshire, aren't you?
Yes, we've lived just down the road for 35 years and it's a wonderful county.
If it's good enough for Anthony,
the Romans and the Normans, it's good enough for me.
Monmouthshire plays host to a rich tapestry of landscape,
from the rugged mountains in the north to the stunning views of the Wye Valley.
At the southern end of the once volatile and bloody Welsh borders,
the county has seen numerous battles, a past reflected in many of its magnificent castles.
To the west of the county lies the market town of Abergavenny, often referred to
as the gateway to the Brecon Beacons and framed by the dramatic mountains of the National Park.
Monmouthshire still has its share of English invaders
looking for cheaper property and a rural lifestyle.
And who can blame them when the first-class countryside provides their perfect haven?
You know, when it comes to house-hunting in the British Isles,
I really don't think you can do better than Monmouthshire.
It combines lots of fantastic attributes, but all of that does come at something of a cost.
When you compare the average detached price here to the rest of Wales, it's a whopping 36% above
the average figure for the rest of the principality.
However, compare that to both England and Wales,
and your average detached
will set you back a cool 2% below that national figure.
So there are bargains to be had and if you want accessibility
and beautiful rural charm,
this really is a wonderful county to choose.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about,
here are some examples of properties on the market right now.
If you've got just shy of £1 million to spend,
this recently-converted four-bedroom barn in Three Ashes
is an interesting option.
The architect has successfully achieved modern living
whilst retaining the character of the structure.
If those vaulted ceilings aren't to your liking
and you fancy spending around 635,000,
then this five-bedroom property in Langstone could do the job.
It's a modern build, but does incorporate a country-style kitchen
that blends with the more contemporary aspects of the house.
Or how about this three-bedroom former 18th-century flannel mill
near Crickhowell, which has been beautifully converted.
At 265 grand, the award-winning architect has presented luxury living in a riverside development.
So if all of that has made you hot under the collar and contemplating a move to Monmouthshire,
then that means you've probably got a lot in common with today's buyers,
who can't wait to make their move to the country.
Our buyer today is Sharon, a riding instructor who lives with her two daughters in Cardiff.
Art student Suzanne is joining her on the search, while younger daughter Faye is back at school.
Sadly, Sharon's husband Alan died just two years ago. It's been
difficult time, but she now feels ready to sell the family home.
I feel sad, but also excited at the thought of moving.
Memories of my husband are still here but it's a good thing to move and have a fresh start.
We moved here about 20 years ago and we paid 37,500 then.
The property now has four bedrooms and a kitchen-diner,
two reception rooms downstairs and an en suite, due to an extension we put on about eight years ago.
With Suzanne at university in Cardiff, their new family home
needs to be within commuting distance, and Monmouthshire is the ideal spot.
The views are absolutely spectacular.
It's the most beautiful part of the world.
I'd be happy to move there, as long as we're not totally isolated.
I've only been looking seriously the last six months and done a little bit of research,
found a few houses but they're not really what I'm looking for.
So what are the essential features that she's after?
This room doesn't have an awful lot of character. The whole house doesn't, actually.
What I would love is a house in the country that has more character than this.
This is our kitchen and dining area.
I really love to cook so in our next property, we'll probably want something around this size.
This is the en suite to my bedroom. It's manic in the morning,
with the three females in the house, so this would be a big plus to have.
Sharon is a cat lover and wants to fulfil her dream of starting a cattery business.
So adequate land is the key to this search.
She's also hoping to buy a horse, so stables would be a bonus.
With all this in mind, what's the final list looking like?
My dream property would be a four-bedroom detached house with some character
on the outskirts of a village or in a village, with some outbuildings,
a couple of stables, couple of acres and a farmhouse kitchen.
With property prices changing so quickly in the current market,
Sharon's keen to get an up-to-date valuation.
It's a great property. It's got four bedrooms on the outskirts of Cardiff in a sought-after location.
I'd look to market the property at £230,000.
I'm happy with the valuation.
Pleasantly surprised that it's come up to expectations. If the new property
ticks practically all the boxes
and has everything that I need, then I'm happy to go to £550,000.
Suzanne is right behind her mum with the move, but are they after the same thing?
I don't think it's going to be very easy to agree on a property.
Especially because I think we're going to have a different opinion on the age of the house.
I like something a bit newer and I think my mum likes something a bit more that has character.
-So that'll be a bit of a mission.
-Yes, it's going to be a real challenge.
There's no doubt in my mind that this move could be an emotional wrench for Sharon.
She's lived in her current home for over 20 years. But it's also an exciting challenge,
an opportunity to find a new life, not just for her but for daughters Suzanne and Faye as well.
We need at least four bedrooms and a big country kitchen but we're not just looking for a home.
We also need a place that can operate as a business premises,
somewhere outside for those new catteries to go up.
And maybe space for the odd horse or two.
We've got just over half a million quid to spend. We're in a great part of the country,
some fantastic properties on offer. Let's see what we can find.
Sharon is keen to live in the Wye Valley,
so our property search will focus on the area between Monmouth
and Chepstow, where she and the girls
can enjoy some stunning scenery.
Over two days, I'll be taking them on a grand tour of attractive properties
and we may even stray over the border to view a house too good to turn down.
And, of course, the final stop will be the mystery house, which always aims to offer the unexpected.
-Well, Sharon, Suzanne, welcome to Monmouthshire.
This is a whole new chapter, Sharon, isn't it?
Because sadly, Alan, your husband, died pretty recently.
-Yes. That's right.
-Tell me about the cattery idea.
My husband and I briefly talked about it before he died.
But it'll bring, hopefully, an income for me and a new way of life. I need to move on.
Do you think you're likely to agree on the right sort of property?
I'll certainly know if Suzanne hasn't! That will be very obvious.
-But I think there are certain things we'll link up with.
-Without doubt. But she certainly isn't afraid to tell me when she doesn't like something.
We have got some wonderful properties for you to look at and one or two other surprises.
-So I'm quite excited about this.
-Yeah, me too.
So Sharon has £550,000 to spend on a new home for her and her daughters.
She's looking for four bedrooms, a farmhouse kitchen, enough land to develop a cattery business,
subject to planning permission, and if possible, space for a horse too.
Now, was it always the case that you would try and stay in Wales, do you think?
-Yeah, pretty much.
-I wouldn't want to move out of Wales
and I've got very patriotic daughters so life wouldn't be worth living...
I really want to stay in Wales.
Now do you think that moving and taking on a new business
to try and fund that move all at once is a bit of a gamble?
Yes, it's daunting but it's very exciting.
We've got some interesting ones for you to look at, so fingers crossed.
Our first house for cat lover Sharon is in the appropriately-named Catbrook,
which sits halfway between Monmouth and Chepstow.
It's a quiet backwater that is really no more than a cluster of houses,
but it is just a stone's throw from Tintern, which has
a few amenities and enjoys a beautiful riverside position.
Let's stop here and take it all in.
What are your first impressions of that?
This sort of location and look is one of the things that went through my mind.
-Now you're very much into country, character cottage.
You, on the other hand, uber-young groover that you are,
are looking for something more slick and contemporary, aren't you?
-How are you balancing what Mum wants to what you think?
Erm, I'm just going to have to have a look inside and just... I'll get used to it, eventually.
Right, let's start in here.
Come on in, Sharon.
This is the conservatory. There is another door
but we thought we'd start in here because you've got the views of the outside.
That's lovely. Lovely spot.
-I like these.
Yes, the beams. I'm loving those.
That's a lovely feature, I like the skylights.
Now off the conservatory is this, a kind of reception area/dining room.
Very much the centre of the house.
The whole room is lovely. I didn't want dark beams, I like these because they're light.
The good news is, it's linked into the kitchen.
Come and tell me what you think of this.
I think it's rather sweet, actually.
-Oh, that is sweet.
I love the floor.
-Yes, this is Italian.
-Is it? Lovely, isn't it?
It blends really well. It's a lovely kitchen.
-This is all hand-built, which is really nice.
-It's lovely, yes.
-None of your flat-pack.
The wood is good and the doors being wood is lovely as well. It's a lovely feature.
'This isn't a bad start at all. Off the kitchen is a reasonable-sized room
'which I think would make an ideal office for the cattery business, next to which is the utility room.
'But let's have a look at the lounge.'
Now, what do you think of this, I wonder?
-I actually really like this.
-Yes? Now this is the old, original part of the house.
You've got a lovely, great big multi-fuel wood-burner.
-That's very nice.
-Which is going to really make this cosy.
Well, it does, it does.
I love the fact that there's a feature wall there.
-I love that. Really, really nice.
-Again, it's such a big room.
You could even think about a little dining area there.
Yes, because of the shape of it.
This is, I think, yes, my favourite room so far, I think.
Well, it looks like the living room has got the nod from the girls.
Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms.
The first two would be ideal for Suzanne and her younger sister, Faye.
Then there's the recently-installed family bathroom.
Next to which is something for Mum.
Right, Sharon, this is all about you.
This is a lovely little spot.
Oh, gosh. This is a haven.
I do like this, because downstairs, I was thinking,
"There's a weighing room and where will the girls go or I go if we want our separate TV stuff?"
Well, this suits me.
-So, you've got your own little suite.
Through here is the master bedroom, have a look at this.
I think it's really sweet, actually.
Oh, gosh. That is sweet!
-You've got a little en suite, have a look. En suite through there.
-Poke your head in.
There's lovely. There's a shower there. Nice, modern feel to it.
-It's a lovely room.
-I love the fact there's windows on both sides because it's a corner piece.
-That's a lovely thing.
-Wake up in here. Sound of your horses...
-Oh, well, you can't beat that.
-..neighing in the distance.
-"Where's my breakfast?"
Talking of the horses, it's time to head outside.
If Sharon wants stables, then she's got them.
Two, in fact, built within the last six years, and that's not all.
As you can see, outside, it's pretty well-appointed, I think, for what you want to do.
Here, we've got this schooling area, I would say.
Your boundary is that post-and-rail fence.
It's not acres, but the current owner rents a couple of acres down the road.
That's what we'd need to do, yes.
I like that the woods are there for the riding.
That would be superb. I'm wondering where my cattery would go.
I would guess, potentially...
I looked at that, on the left?
-Up there. Where you've got the back end of the garden.
-That's where I thought.
Not to put a damper on things, we do need to talk about the money. You've got 550,000 quid.
-What's it worth?
-I think probably about 495?
I reckon maybe a little bit less.
Really? Do you now?
You're right. You're absolutely spot-on.
-Am I really?
-I'm amazed at that. OK. Good!
That is good, is it?
Yes, it is because there's a bit left, because I need to fund the cattery,
-so, yes, definitely.
-Go and have an explore. I'll catch you later.
There we are, £495,000. Now, we are in Monmouthshire.
It's not the cheapest county in the world but this is a place
well worth living in and that, as a house,
is definitely well worth living in.
So, Sharon's guess for this country cottage was spot on at £495,000.
For that, she would get two reception rooms, three bedrooms with a master en suite,
two stables and a manege
and sufficient land on which she could build the cattery business.
This room, I love. I don't know about you.
Yes, yes. I didn't think there would be a lot I would change about it.
First reaction, it looks charming, it looks full of character.
I think there would just about be space for a cattery. So, there's a lot of possibilities here.
It's exciting, because the more I look, the more I see chances to do what I want.
-Suze, what d'you think of this size room?
-It is quite small.
The house isn't massive though, is it?
I mean, they're practical-sized rooms but they're not huge rooms.
And we've got lovely window view areas.
I don't think Faye will...
-Worry about that.
It's a little bit smaller than I think what we were looking for.
Although I think I'd be happy living here.
I think Faye would be happy living here as well.
For Faye, having the horses nearby would be a plus, because she said,
"It would be great to open the back door
"and the horse would be there." That might sway it for her.
I'm just admiring your view. Maybe. Will it be your view? Who knows?
They don't come much better than that one.
Hopefully this has whetted your appetite.
The sun's still shining, let's see what else we can find. Come on.
Sharon and Suzanne are eager to get to grips with the area,
so they're stepping out to explore the county town of Monmouth.
Sitting in the heart of the stunning Wye Valley, this attractive Georgian market town is rich in history.
Its position on the navigable River Wye meant it flourished as a wealthy
-trading town from the Middle Ages onwards.
-Quite quaint, isn't it?
-Different to where we are now.
I like it. I think it's smashing.
A number of impressive bridges span the River Wye, no more so than the Monnow Bridge.
Dating from the 13th century, it's unique and is the only fortified bridge in Britain.
Towards the south end of the river is Tintern,
home to the spectacular ruins of Tintern Abbey.
Built in 1131, they were home to Cistercian monks, whose strict principles
led them to becoming one of the most successful orders of the 12th and 13th centuries.
-What do you imagine then? Is living here OK?
-Yes, after some time to get used to it, I might be able to.
It's beautiful scenery around here.
-It's just gorgeous.
We're heading up to Mitchel Troy for an our next house, which is just a couple of miles south of Monmouth.
Nearby Dingestow would be the place for last-minute essentials,
a drink with friends or for taking strolls along the River Trothy.
This next house sits high up and is approached via an attractive path.
Now then. What about that?
Well, that's gorgeous.
-That's a lovely front, yes. Very, very nice.
Originally, it's thought it was an old coaching inn.
I think this is somewhere that entertains the kind of long game for you and your future plans.
-In terms of land, there is plenty of it, that's all I'm going to say.
-OK. That's exciting!
We'll explore that later, but you're perched up here on this hill with views of Monmouthshire.
-What a spot.
-The "wow" factor.
From where I can see, just that little bit, it's beautiful.
Wait till you the see inside. Come and have a look at this.
What a place to explore this is.
Come on in, you can see this hallway betrays some of the age of the place.
-Big beams that greet you and the old oak staircase.
-That's actually quite quaint, that.
-But you wanted a nice big kitchen.
-Come and have a look at this.
-I love it.
This beam's OK...
-I love the beams as well and I like the old cooker.
You've got some lovely features, I love the shutters, the window seat...
The window seat's lovely.
I hate to keep saying "lovely"
but I don't know what else to say. I'm gobsmacked.
-It's a good Welsh word, isn't it, "lovely"?
-"Lovely", I can say it better! Lovely.
'If Sharon is looking for character
'then there is a feature in the next room that should blow her away.'
-In you go.
-Check that out.
Oh my word, how big is this?!
-Oh, my goodness.
-Oh, blimey, that's a fireplace. And it's on.
-I just like that there's sort of somewhere else to dine other than in the kitchen.
The windows are just gorgeous. They make it for me, that.
The windows are really something.
Brilliant. Well, no surprise that these two rooms being so enormous,
the kitchen and the living room/dining room,
that's pretty much it for the downstairs of this property.
-But it does go on up over another two floors.
-Yes, come and have a look at this.
'This room certainly seems to have grabbed them.
'Let's see how they get on with upstairs.
'At the top is the first of two bathrooms, which has a country look about it.
'Then there are three bedrooms, also on this floor.
'The first two are roughly the same size and then I think there is one
'that Sharon should grab for herself.'
-This would give you as much room as you could need.
-That's gorgeous. What a lovely size.
-This is over the kitchen, I suppose.
-Exactly. Now with all this space, the obvious thing
-that it doesn't have is an en suite.
-Yes, yes, that is a missing part.
It's a nice extra. But it wouldn't stop me, if I loved the house enough, going for the house.
-It wouldn't be that much of an issue.
-So this could be you, all right?
In terms of the rest of it, two final bedrooms are right at the top
of the house and I'm thinking that's for your daughters.
Oh, what a good idea.
-We can shut you away.
-Shut them away!
'Now this is a space that I think two teenage girls are going to love.'
This is the top floor.
This is your domain and your kid sister's.
Come in here. Tell me what Faye would think of this.
-Oh, my goodness!
Oh, my goodness! This is... I just love it here.
-You're like I was in kitchen speak, aren't you?
-Yes, I love it here.
There's also a huge dormer window there.
I love the window seat.
That's a lovely feature.
You're Faye's ambassador here on this journey, so you speak for Faye.
Yes, she loves it. She loves it, I've decided for her.
-All right, let's find somewhere for you. Come on.
-You're in trouble!
So, back across the landing to your room, Suzanne, but on the way,
-Aw, that's cute.
-Shower room for you.
-But what about this?
Yes, love it.
It's lovely. It's a very charming room.
Yes, I absolutely love it.
Is this surprising you, Sharon, as much as it's surprising me?
Very much. I'm absolutely amazed that she likes it this much because I felt
that I was the one really for this and Suzanne's with me but needed to be convinced.
-She's ahead of me now.
-I love the thought of having this floor as well.
-That's what it is, isn't it? That's what's done it.
-No, not just this. The kitchen, everything.
'Suzanne's face says it all, but as ever, it's Mum that will have to get the chequebook out
'and it's the outdoor space that will make or break this deal.'
Now, out here, in total, you've got four acres.
-Oh, my God.
You've got those three purpose-built stables.
-Paddock over here and everything that goes down, through those trees and down to a little dip
at the bottom and I think a little brook runs through there as well.
Come on. Let's continue our little wander because I don't know, look at the light, it's just glorious.
-It's lovely and high, isn't it? You can get a lovely feeling of height. That's so pretty.
-So, do we like it, Suzanne?
-Yes, Faye says she likes it too.
-Faye hasn't had a word yet.
Hang on a minute, have you got an ESP link with her, or something?
-She likes it, yes.
-Right. Let's get down to it then.
What do you think this is going to cost you?
I think it must be my budget.
I think it must be 550.
It's got to be 550.
-I think it's way over.
I think it's more like 600.
I think it's way over.
If it was 600, would you be able to persuade your mother to buy it?
Maybe, I'm not sure.
Because that's the thing.
-It is 599.
-Oh right, I was a bit out on that one then.
-Now, we've shown it to you because my sense is that it may be achievable for your budget.
-Offers in the region of.
Go and explore. Have a look and see,
-forget the money for a minute, just go and see what you get. Off you go.
-OK. Thank you.
-See you later.
Although this house is on the market for £599,000,
I think there's a chance, in the current climate,
that an offer within Sharon's budget may be accepted.
There's a lounge with an enormous feature stone fireplace, five bedrooms,
three stables and four acres,
allowing plenty of room for Sharon to build the cattery business.
What do you think Faye would think of this?
-She'd be wowed by it.
-It's a bit idyllic, isn't it?
I thought this house was absolutely stunning.
Just the whole sort of scenery around it, all the trees
and everything, set the scene for it really well.
I think this house is charming. It's a lovely house.
For me, there's things do in there and I have to have the money for this cattery. I can't stress that enough.
I have to separate the "wow" factor with the practical sense,
which is not what Suzanne has to do.
You love it, don't you?
I think it is lovely. But I've got to get that cattery up and running,
so I've got to think about that. You're wowed!
-You've got stars in your eyes.
Yeah. I think you should too, because, you know, this house isn't going to be around for long.
You know, when the sun's out, there's nothing better than showing beautiful houses.
-Just like this one. All done?
-Made your minds up yet?
Good. Well, I'm glad to hear it, because there's plenty more to see.
One of the quickest ways to sell a house in a slow-moving market is at auction.
If Sharon doesn't have any luck selling hers, it might be a good idea,
so I'm taking her to a local auction in Usk.
Before we get under way, I'm stealing a chat with auctioneer Mike Davis.
What are the real advantages?
You get a definite result on the night.
It also gives you competition amongst purchasers,
which will realise the best price for the property.
Can you give us your top tip for anybody buying or selling at auction?
When you go to auction, you must set your limit, and not get carried away
with the auction and pay more than you can afford for the property.
Sound advice. As we head into the auction room,
we're joining Andy Lusk, who will be bidding on one of the lots.
Are you sure you want to spend all this money?
I'm not sure I wanted to spend all this money,
but I do want one of these barns. I've got to stick to the limit in my head.
Yes. The auction is about to start. Let's see how we get on.
If Andy gets the property, he will need to pay 10% of the price
this evening and will have just four weeks to meet the balance.
Lot two at Little Castle Farm. 80,000 to start. 70 then.
Thank you, 70,000 is bid. At 80,000.
At 80,000. At 90,000.
100 bid. At 100. At 100,000. At 105. Far away, my bid.
At 110. At 110. At 110.
12. At 112. 14, do you want, then? At 114.
At 115. At 115,000. Once, twice...
-Thank you, sir.
-What a shame.
Andy didn't get it.
I knew I could go to 110. I think I bid to 114 and was outbid at 115, wasn't I? Yes.
That's the other thing, because your adrenaline is running so you can barely hear what's going on.
But, yes, so I thought, "All right, I'm pushing to 15% over the limit."
Well, it's all good fun but it is business after all,
and Andy was probably wise sticking to his limit.
Well, as you can see, the sun is setting
on our first day's house-hunting with Sharon and Suzanne.
I think today has been very successful and has thrown up one or two quite interesting ideas.
Suzanne is very taken with the properties in a way neither I nor her mother really expected.
But, of course, as they say, tomorrow is another day, and it's all to play for.
As day one of our search draws to a close, Sharon and Suzanne take stock of the search so far.
What do you think of the house with the manege, Suze?
It didn't quite do it for me. The size might have been a factor.
But it did have a really nice, cosy feel about it, especially with the front room.
We could possibly run a cattery from there. What do you think Faye would think of that?
She would like the manege.
-Do you think she'd like the size of the bedroom she would be in? Too small?
-Yeah, a little bit too small.
The house we saw, the old coaching inn, what did you think of that?
I loved it. Everything from the outside looked stunning.
The kitchen was lovely. I loved it.
That was a wow factor. That kitchen was gorgeous.
And the fireplace in the main living room.
What do you think Faye would think about upstairs?
Yeah. I don't think she would be disappointed at all living there.
It's got plenty of room for you to sort of run your cattery.
I'm sure it's worth every bit,
but the price was more than I could really afford.
That's my main concern. So you looking forward to tomorrow? I am.
Because that's really giving me a clearer picture of what
more to look for, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It'll be good.
Sharon and her daughter Suzanne are scouring Monmouthshire in search of
a new home with enough land for a cattery business.
They have a budget of £550,000, but that does need to include business start up costs.
So far, they have viewed two houses and coming up,
-a house that won't disappoint.
-Oh, it's stunning.
-I love it.
-And a mystery house that leaves Sharon speechless.
Stop laughing at me, will you!
Well, it's the start of day two and yesterday's sunshine
has given way to this - a real pea souper.
Thick fog everywhere.
Now, yesterday I think Sharon and Suzanne
were inspired by what they saw, but I do think their dream house
is still out there as far as they're concerned.
Today we have it all to play for.
Two more to come, of course, not least of which the mystery house,
which as you would expect is very, very different.
We just have to find it.
Somewhere. In the gloom.
Our first house this morning is in Bigsweir,
which lies over the border in England.
Llandogo just over the road sits on a steep hillside overlooking
the River Wye and offers a local pub and village store.
It's a tranquil haven that seems miles away
from the stresses of every day life.
The next house is a little unusual.
So here goes.
-It looks lovely.
I love the different levels already from here.
I'm glad you said that, because that's what this place is all about - levels.
As you can see, we're built on to the side of a hill,
but it's designed in a way
-to make the best of the view over that way.
-Now, have you figured out where we are yet?
-One side of the river.
-We're on one side of the river.
We're on the English side.
Oh, no! Suzanne! Oh.
Well, let's see what you think. Come on, follow me.
I admire your patriotism Suzanne, but from here at least
you will get a cracking view of Wales, and just to be different,
I'm going to start this tour upside down.
Now, this place is currently run as a B&B.
-All right? But I'm assured it is the best in the area.
It has a five-star rating.
But we will start upstairs, slightly unusually, and work our way back.
So this is not the very top of the house. The rest is up there.
There is more to come. Wow.
-But you've got a very nice double in there.
-That's lovely. Very nice.
-Yes. I love that.
Come in here, because this is quite interesting.
Family bathroom, but very much the one that's attached to that room.
That's really big. Oh, I love this.
That's a beautiful bathroom. Very well done.
Nice big shower room too over there.
-Really nice bathroom.
So it's full marks for the bathroom,
Up on to the top floor, there is another double bedroom.
A single bedroom and the luxury of another bathroom.
The many levels of this house could offer Suzanne and her sister Faye
a floor each and, don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Mum.
Now it's back to the ground floor.
Right. Now. Some living accommodation.
Very cosy. Oh, I like the log burner.
-Yes, that's lovely, and the fireplace.
-Oh, it's stunning.
-And this room kind of flows on, because here you have the main dining area for the property.
-That's very pretty.
-Again, presented in a really sweet way.
Go on, go and explore. Off you go.
-What a view.
-Oh, it's stunning.
-I love it.
-Can you imagine sitting out here with your gin and tonic?
Very easily. I'd never get up. That's the trouble.
But also here is the kitchen, just off the dining room.
Come and look at this.
Staircase, leading to more surprises.
Look at that.
Now, the kitchen.
Oh, it's beautifully done.
All the decor is lovely. You could live with this. Well, I could.
You could just walk in here.
It's lovely, it's very stylish. I like the floor.
Yeah, I like the fact the floor follows through there.
It goes all the way through to the living room and so forth.
It's just a different style to what we've been seeing and I have to get my head round it.
'The kitchen isn't the biggest,
'but it's a small price to pay for the rest of this gorgeous house.
'But now for the basement,
'and we get to that via a spiral staircase from the dining room.'
A TV on the wall.
This is a delightful room. Oh, look at the windows again.
Fireplace as well.
The log burner is gorgeous.
Look at all the books. I never noticed that.
-Computer by there.
-You could have a little study area, couldn't you, there.
I think this is you.
I'd like it down here. We could have our own TV sessions separately.
-Now, there's one thing we haven't found yet.
-Yeah. Come with me.
Come over here.
Come here. Come here.
-You're pulling my leg.
Oh. Oh my God.
-This is amazing.
-What a lovely room, but I thought you were just joking.
-That is brill.
-That's an amazing feature.
It's so realistic, isn't it.
-This is definitely my bit.
-I love this place.
And if one secret door wasn't enough, have a look at this one,
because you have some built in storage there.
-But in here, your en-suite.
-It's very roomy.
I love the stone on the stone floor. This floor.
It comes through all the way, but this is a nice spacious area.
'That room certainly got the reaction I was looking for
'and outside there are more surprises.'
-Look, it's a hydropool.
-What? Oh, Suzanne, look.
-I've never seen anything like this.
-What is it?
The way it works is, it pumps water at you through those big jets and you swim against it.
It's like a water treadmill.
All of this slides back, so it becomes open.
-I see, for nice weather.
Great fun that, but it also allows us to get a real sense of how this
property works, because you couldn't really see it on the way in.
-Not at all.
-But there it is.
That's a lovely looking thing.
-What do you think, Suzanne?
-It's absolutely stunning.
I've fallen in love with it.
'Clearly Suzanne doesn't need any more convincing,
'but I haven't forgotten Sharon still needs space for the cattery.
'Just to the side of the house is an out building which could be a good starting point for the business.
'All in all this house sits on two acres of land, with staggering
'views of the river and their native Wales beyond.
'And there is even more.'
You've also got a couple of stables.
Oh, you're joking. I don't believe it.
I'm saying there's nowhere for a horse here.
-I don't think my purse is big enough.
Well, let's have a think, shall we, because currently you've got £550,000 stuffed into it.
How much of that are you going to have to take out, to get this, do you think?
OK, off the top of my head, 595 I think it has to be.
Yes, I'm round about the same.
It was on the market for a figure in that order.
The good news, however, is that it has been reduced.
That's done her now. she's gone. Has it?
Don't forget you have an established B&B here. It's well-known.
It's well rated.
This is a business ready to go.
Which is a very attractive offer.
-It gives you options.
All your eggs won't be in one basket when it comes to the cattery.
-Go and have a look round.
-Go and explore.
And I'll see you later.
At £539,000, this property is comfortably within their budget,
and although it's in England, it has everything they're looking for.
There are four bedrooms, with a master en suite.
An outbuilding for starting the cattery business, two stables,
and it all sits on a two acre plot with first class views.
I was convinced there wouldn't be any stables.
I couldn't see any more space, but it's fitted in really well.
It's far away from the house, but you can keep an eye on them.
I thought it was absolutely stunning.
I think they would be shocked by this house.
The pool you know would be a huge bonus for her, the size of the rooms are also perfect for the both of us.
A lovely, lovely house.
The view is stunning.
B&B potential as well which is something I hadn't actually fully considered.
The cattery, I'm still focused on that idea, that is my reason
and there is potential to still do that here.
-And there's stables.
-The whole house works really well.
It's got everything that you've asked for really.
-So many extra features as well which work
really well with the house, just an extra bonus really, aren't they?
I agree with you. There's lots you could do. Yeah, definitely.
I got quite excited at the thought of the price.
I've got to think very carefully about that now.
You know, there are days when I love by job and this is one of them.
Turned out nice, really. Hello.
-Hi, how are you?
-How about it?
-Am I going to have to drag you out of here with a team of horses?
Possibly. We'll have the horses back.
-It's a lovely property and the price reduction is very attractive.
Don't make up your minds just yet because there is one more to come, the mystery house.
-Will that throw a spanner in the works, I wonder.
Probably knowing the way you seem to be doing things, yes.
Let's see, come on.
With its towering castles and impressive churches,
Monmouthshire has a plethora of majestic stained-glass windows.
Since Victorian times, stained glass has become more popular
and can look great in private homes.
As Sharon and Suzanne are both enthusiastic artists
and keen to flex their creative muscles,
we've arranged for them to meet Bruce May
who owns a local stained glass studio to find out more.
Bruce has been making stained glass for 30 years.
Much of his work involves restoration of traditional windows
but a large part of his business includes private commissions for homes.
Oh, gosh, its gorgeous.
This is a coloured glass window.
This is made up of individual pieces of glass
that are held together within a lead framework.
This is coloured glass.
This is stained glass. On this one you can see all the different
coloured pieces of glass have been cut and leaded together,
-but before you lead it together you actually paint detail on to it.
Lesson over, it's time for the girls to have a go.
First the shape is drawn on a piece of paper.
Than the glass is scored with a tungsten wheel and then snapped.
We just do that sort of action.
-There you go.
-That's it, just bend it. There you go.
Once all the glass has been cut, it's
laid out on the template and farrier nails are used to hold it in place.
The lead frames are then cut to size.
And placed to join the glass shapes.
Just slide it back in.
Finally the joins are soldered to bind them together.
Then you'll end up eventually with one of those for your front door.
-It's lovely. Thank you very much.
Now Sharon and Suzanne have a memento of Monmouthshire to take with them to their new home.
What a view, you can't beat it.
Wales bathed in glorious, hazy sunshine.
So far we've concentrated on properties that are full of good old-fashioned rural charm
and character particularly with Sharon in mind, but now it's time for the mystery house.
We often talk about houses with kerb appeal, but how about something for
the younger generation, something with a bit of property bling.
What do you think
would make a good mystery house, Sharon?
Probably one that throws me into total chaos, I would imagine.
This one is very different to anything that we have shown you.
I can't wait to see what Suzanne thinks of it.
That's all I'm saying.
Suzanne will be delighted to know that we've headed back
into Wales for the mystery house which is in Blaenavon, six miles from the market town of Abergavenny.
Now a World Heritage Site, Blaenavon was well known
for its iron ore and coal. The ironworks date back to 1789
and were one of the largest in the world.
The remains, along with that of an old coal mine, stand testament to the heritage of the area.
This final house is a real wild card,
but, after all, that is exactly what the mystery house is all about.
So this is really with your daughter in mind.
It doesn't come much slicker or more contemporary than this.
There is a remote control for literally everything.
What do you think Suzanne? It's all about you.
Well, exactly what I'm looking for.
Right, come on then, let's have a look.
Come on in.
Look at the walls!
Stop laughing at me, will you.
The staircase is absolutely amazing.
-Have a guess at what it would cost you to buy a staircase at like?
I'm going to say something silly like 10 grand, but I'm sure it isn't.
-You're joking! I wasn't so silly.
Oh, my God!
Come through here because the whole thing works, kind of very open plan, in the round, as it were.
This is your principal living area.
Look at the fire.
It's actually remote control.
That is a feature.
It's beautiful. It's a bit like being in a cell, you can't hear anything.
-You're shut right off.
-But a nice cell.
-It's a beautiful cell.
-You're not in solitary.
It's not padded!
Come through here because the open-plan thing is quite exciting, huge doors out there.
Look at the windows above the doors.
Doors out to the garden which we'll explore a bit later.
Then here something of a dining area underneath this enormous staircase.
It's amazing. I have not seen anything like that.
Come and look at this, the kitchen is one of the high points of this place.
I love glossy worktops, it's got all the reflection.
-All the light is in here.
-You got loads of a storage under here,
these lovely stainless-steel drawers.
Yeah. As islands go...
This is some island.
This is a continent not an island. It's amazing.
Now tell me, Suzanne, what are you thinking?
It's absolutely stunning, but I couldn't see myself living here at all.
I wouldn't want to spoil anything.
-What would Faye think?
-I think she'd like it.
-I think she'd like it more than me.
'I don't believe it.
'I thought this house would be right up Suzanne's street.
'Still, there's plenty more to see.
'Next to the kitchen is a utility area and also a cloakroom,
'but we're heading up that £30,000 staircase.'
-Yeah. Lovely light.
Needless to say all of the blinds and shutters are remote control.
You would need long arms, wouldn't you.
The only thing that isn't remote is cleaning them.
Let's have a look in the family bathroom.
Check it out. There is your bathroom.
-Wow, that's a gorgeous bathroom.
-Look at the shower.
-I don't know about that mirror.
-Look at the shower.
-Stunning, absolutely stunning. I like the two windows.
I like all the tiles, and the fact it all goes together.
'It's a room that certainly has the wow factor.
'Next up, the sleeping quarters. There are four doubles up here.
'They're all good sizes and the wooden floor runs throughout.
'One of them is currently used as a second sitting room but I'm going to
'cut to the chase and show them the most impressive one of all.'
Now Sharon, this is all for you.
Nice size, yes.
A lovely size.
-I love the two windows, that's lovely.
-I personally love it.
I just don't think it's your...
If you take this furniture out, which is lovely,
but if we put my furniture in it would be different.
Other than the actual look of the shape of the room with the soft curves of the wall.
There's a good reason for these curves.
They're all part of the design of this place.
There we've got you a huge dressing area and in here...
Go in there and tell me what you find. Have a look in this one. Suzanne, look in that one.
-That's very nice. Lovely space.
-The shower is amazing.
-Yep. Absolutely amazing.
-You swap over, go on.
Really pretty bathroom. Very modern.
I love it. Yes.
OK. That's pretty much it inside so let's go outside because,
no surprise, that's pretty different too.
'At least they like the bathrooms but I'm surprised
'Suzanne isn't more wowed by the bling factor with this place.
'But, it's Sharon's money and she'll be keen to see what's on offer outside.
#There isn't any space on the plot for a cattery but there is the
#possibility of renting some land opposite to develop the business.'
As you would expect, a very contemporary garden.
Probably one of the most contemporary we've ever seen.
This is lovely. This is very, very nice.
Of course, you've got this huge... runway of hard wood decking,
surrounding that seating area.
On the other side, that sweeping slate wall contains a fish tank.
-Six of them, apparently.
The waterfalls and everything else, guess what?
They're also remote controlled and you can turn those on from the house.
-A nice sound.
-I like the sound.
Up here we've got the rest of it.
This is another seating area with a view down into the top of the fish tank.
That's a nice thought.
Let's have a think about how much the mystery house is worth.
I'm dying to know...
-..what you might think.
-I'll say 650.
I reckon a bit less. I reckon 625.
Listen to those numbers hitting the floor.
Well it may well be worth £650,000 to somebody,
but the good news is you wouldn't have to pay that.
You would get this for a cool £550,000.
I got that wrong. Big time, didn't I. I'm amazed at that.
I think this is worth seeing, not only from your point of view, but I think particularly as a
comparative example and also to give you a sense of what's available at
the other end of the spectrum in terms of style and design.
Go on, have a good look around and I'll catch up with you later.
At £550,000 this house is bang on budget
and offers sleek, hi-tech, contemporary living.
It has open-plan accommodation, an impressive central staircase,
four bedrooms with a funky master en-suite
and a terraced garden with a feature fish tank.
This kitchen, I do actually like.
It feels a little impersonal for me.
It's beautifully done, like you said.
-Don't touch those.
Leave them there, you don't know what they're going to do.
Straightaway when we walked, the stairs going up, just stunning. I love those.
I have to take my hat off to the way it's done.
It's beautifully done.
It is a stunning looking place.
-I preferred the upstairs to the downstairs.
You can have your own personal space.
Down here everything seems to be too open for me.
Yes, it's definitely difficult to have your own space downstairs.
Now I've seen the other houses,
it's opened my eyes to what I'd really like.
For my other daughter, Faye, I think she will be wowed.
She will think, "Gosh, mum how could you not like this house, it's absolutely fantastic."
It may be much more for Faye than it is for me.
That was the mystery house.
-It certainly was.
-House tours are now officially over.
No more to look at.
You're probably very pleased to know.
Lots for you to think about, I suspect.
Let's get you somewhere where you can have a think about everything
we've shown you and then we'll catch up and see if you've made a decision.
All right. Lovely.
This move to Monmouthshire is an exciting new start for Sharon and her daughters.
It's important the house feels like home for everyone and also has the land Sharon needs for the cattery.
I've given them plenty to think about so I'm looking forward to hearing their thoughts.
-Here we are in the ruins of the glorious Usk Castle.
A lovely way to finish off.
How have you found the whole experience?
Has it given you lots of ideas?
You have, you've given me more than I even could have asked for now. That's a real quandary.
It all started with that quite elevated house
with fantastic views surrounded by lovely woodland.
-What did you think of that one?
-It was a charming house.
Good potential for the cattery.
Equestrian facilities and the price was good, but just a little small.
What did you think, Suzanne?
The outdoor school was a huge bonus for me with that house but just a little bit small.
We then went to something much bigger, the old inn.
Yeah. That house did wow me.
Absolutely stunning property.
The kitchen really did take your breath away, didn't it, Sharon?
It was amazing, it was a wow kitchen.
Well, of course, I love these moments because I know what's coming.
Then we took you through to the living room and that extraordinary fireplace.
-That definitely made the room.
A feature that I will never forget.
-Your breath was taken away.
Not only just with the views and the windows, but that fireplace is something that's unique.
Well, the sun came out the following day and we took you to
the house just over the border in Gloucestershire.
What did you think, Suzanne?
It was such a beautiful house.
The more I looked around it, the more it grew on me
and I just felt really at home there.
I couldn't believe it when that bookcase opened, it was really bizarre.
That was amazing, it was a lovely feature and the spiral staircase was lovely as well.
There was a lovely aspect which I hadn't thought of with the B&B side.
-Just about ticked every box.
-Last, but not least...
The mystery house.
What did you make of it?
I loved the outside look of the house.
I loved how in the main master bedroom the en-suite,
-how that was done.
It was just too open planned for me.
And Sharon you probably echo that?
It was stunning, lovely features, lovely staircase, beautiful front
door, all done with quality, but very clinical for me.
What happens next?
What happens next, quite genuinely,
is to go back and speak to my younger daughter, Faye.
-I would like to take her to see the house in Gloucestershire,
that one I think she needs to see.
And think about the Old Inn.
-The Old Inn.
-That's the next step for us.
I hope we have taken you a little bit further down the road
to your new life, your new lifestyle.
-And hopefully we've opened your eyes to the possibilities,
not just of making the dream of the cattery come into being,
but some other notions, as well.
-You have, you've been super.
-It's been a real pleasure showing you both around.
Let us know how you get on. I wish you all the very best of luck.
-Thank you very much.
Sadly our tour through the county of castles is nearly at an end,
but I have to say it has been a wonderful experience.
Both Sharon and, in particular, Suzanne, have approached
all the houses we've shown them with the right kind of attitude and that is so important.
The other thing, of course, is that they do make a great team.
They balance each other out and they've certainly landed on a choice
of properties which could suit them absolutely down to the ground.
It is, of course, ultimately, that attitude that is the key thing.
Open your mind to what's out there and who knows you may well find
your very own escape to the country. I'll see you next time.
If you would like to Escape To The Country and need our help,
then please contact us through our website.
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Series in which prospective buyers are helped to find their dream home in the country.
Jules Hudson is in Wales helping a mother and daughter find a house where they can start a new life and a new business. With 555,000 pounds to spend, Mum loves character features but the daughter is keen on clean, modern interiors. Will she be won over by Wales's rustic charms? And will an outdoor pool seal the deal?