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Welcome to Escape To The Country. Today I'm in one of Britain's oldest forests, established way back
by the Normans, and much of it is governed today by laws laid down by William the Conqueror himself.
But the best way to get a real taste of it isn't from down here.
It's from up there.
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple escape the urban sprawl
and grow their business in the country.
But will they get stuck in a time warp?
-Let's get creative.
-We need to!
Or can we cook up some 21st-century solutions?
-And there's the mystery house which offers a step back in time with a few extra surprises.
Well, today I'm in Hampshire, here in the New Forest at the New Forest Outdoor Centre,
and it really is a fantastic way to get a bird's-eye view of what this place has to offer.
Even if you are hanging on for dear life.
Now, the forest was created as the then New Forest back
in 1079 by royal charter by William the Conqueror.
Now, back in the day, they cleared out all the locals, knocked down
36 churches to provide the king with somewhere to relax and to hunt in.
Well, the good news is that today
everybody's moved back, the hunting has gone, but it's still a fantastic playground.
The New Forest occupies 200 square miles of the county of Hampshire,
right on the southern tip of England.
These days, this ancient woodland is most famous for its wild ponies
which roam free over its extensive forest, heath and grassland.
But they're not the only creatures that enjoy the right of way here.
The New Forest is one of the few places in the UK where the cow, not the car, is king of the road.
Even so, man has managed to make his mark.
The forest is the most inhabited of all the national parks, with 34,000 people making their home here.
Although building in the New Forest has been restricted since King William II's time,
planning permission is still possible. However, houses
that do come on the market tend to be snapped up very quickly.
But with national park status and a combined block on building
and development, we do end up with something of a double-edged picture here.
On the one hand, you're unlikely to have a supermarket or a petrol station built on your doorstep.
But on the other, it does mean that pricing of local housing stock is going to remain high.
Difficult if you're a buyer, but perhaps in the long run,
if you're looking to invest, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all.
So, if all that hasn't put you off and you still think that the New Forest is for you, here's a taste
of what's on the market right now.
For £1.5 million, this three-bedroom farmhouse in the village of Tiptoe is a perfect horse-lover's retreat.
You could curl up in front of the sitting room's log-burner
or play a game of billiards or hopscotch in the games room.
Its 10 acres include stabling and paddocks, with open riding in the New Forest on your doorstep.
£565,000 will get you this three-bedroom Grade 2 listed cottage in Rockbourne,
with beams throughout its characterful reception rooms and upstairs bedrooms.
Outside, there's a stable-yard for the ponies and over seven acres of paddocks and pastureland.
This two-bedroomed Arts and Crafts cottage in Hillhead is on the market at £395,000.
Inside needs a bit of modernising, but all the period features are there,
with high ceilings, cornices and original panelling.
Outside, there's an attractive south-facing garden.
So, as you can see, some lovely properties in a lovely area
with some fantastic neighbours, which is precisely why today's buyers want to move here.
They are Nick and Tracy from Bournemouth, who currently live
in a three-bedroom 1930s house with their son and twin daughters.
They also run a thriving Spanish food import business from here, which they want to expand.
But that means they need more space.
So now it's time to say "hasta la vista" to town living and "si, senor" to the countryside.
We'd like to move to the country because we'd like to open a farm shop.
We're Spanish-food importers.
We supply restaurants, delicatessens and we retail ourselves.
So want to very much work from home.
So, whether it's in an outbuilding or within the house, we need an office,
some storage and, ideally, somewhere to put a farm shop.
But it's not just a business premises that they're looking for.
It's got to operate as a family home
as well as what we're doing with the business.
So it's really about giving us the space for the whole family to do what they need to do.
After nine happy years in this house, they're now ready to move on.
So what are they looking for in their new home?
This move to the country is all about family and the business.
If he could find a property that had the farm shop, that would be great.
-Or we could actually build one ourselves.
-I'm passionate about food.
Food's our business and this kitchen just doesn't allow me to do what I need to do.
And I want a kitchen with a big range, one we can develop
our Spanish foods and bring in our Spanish friends to enjoy them with us.
Nick has his food and wine.
I have my music. What would be great moving to the country
is to have a music room for my son and I and I can play as loud as I want.
-So what sort of location would suit them?
-We want to be close to or in a village.
We have to have a community close-by that we can get involved with.
Schools are really important.
I think we'd like to be in a village, if we could, that's got a local pub, that would be great.
Before we can seriously start our house hunt, we need to see how much they've got to spend.
So, we've arranged for an estate agent to come and give them an evaluation.
This is an exceptionally well-presented four-bedroom family home,
situated within one of the most prestigious roads within the Talbot Woods area of Bournemouth.
The price guide on this property should be in the region of £750,000.
We're very happy with the valuation.
-It's really what we expected it to be.
-So how much are they prepared to spend?
Our budget for this move is £650,000.
Despite keeping 100,000 back towards the business, both Nick and Tracy still have a healthy budget.
But who's going to have the final say?
I think I'd be right in saying I'll probably make the decision on the house.
I think if it's on the financial side, it's probably my husband.
I'd agree with that. There is no way we'd buy a house if Tracy didn't like it.
Now, I think I am going to have to break it to them gently that the whole idea of a farm shop
attached to a domestic property isn't really going to happen.
£650,000 sounds like an awful lot of money, but to be honest, here in the New Forest,
it isn't going to go that far.
And we've still got to accommodate quite a big family. They also want some office space.
I think that is doable. But we've also got to fit in a drum kit.
Let's just hope it doesn't upset the residents.
As Nick and Tracy's move to the New Forest has to accommodate their business and a family home,
they don't want to be too isolated.
Being in a village or near a town would be ideal.
I'll be showing them a great choice of properties,
but I won't reveal the prices until after they've had a good guess.
Last but not least is the mystery house, which could put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Hi, guys. All set?
-Welcome to the New Forest. I say welcome. we're sort of on your patch in a way, aren't we?
-Bournemouth, very close.
-So you must know this area fairly well?
-But you still want get out of the smoke and into the countryside?
-Now, your budget. 650.
Not a bad figure, to be honest, but in trying to incorporate everything that you're after,
this is the kind of challenge that we are used to.
But the big issue, I think,
is the farm shop.
Yeah, we thought that might be a challenge for you, in the New Forest especially.
Especially in the New Forest. Yeah. What if we didn't find a shop?
We can live with that.
The key thing is that we find a lovely home, I think,
for you and your family.
We can always look for a shop in one of the villages later on. So that would work very well.
OK. We have got a number of quite interesting properties for you to look at today.
So it has just stopped raining. It might hold off.
-Let's go and see what we can find you.
So, for £650,000, Nick and Tracy want a house full of character
and three reception rooms.
They want at least four bedrooms and a large working kitchen.
Finding a property with a farm shop is unlikely, but they're set on having an office
from which to run the business.
Our first property is in the village
of Hale, set in the north-western corner of the New Forest National Park.
Hale's thatched cottages and more modern houses sit happily around the village green and playing fields.
There's a well-regarded primary school, perfect for their twin girls,
as well as a village hall where the family can get to know the neighbours.
The house I'm taking them to see is this extended chalet bungalow on the outskirts of the village.
Right. Let's start with this one.
There. That's what I want you to have a look at.
Yeah, it looks good. Looks good.
The windows, the upstairs. Bungalow originally.
So lots of space, well laid-out.
It's great. Love it so far. Really nice.
Is this the sort of thing you'd a mind in terms of lush country life?
-Well, let's see what you make of the inside.
OK. In we come. Through something of a sort of boot room.
Let's start in here. Because you've got to pay for this great adventure.
Yeah. This is a good office.
I think as offices go, this is quite good actually.
-This is good.
So, you've had a hard morning on the phones, taking lots of orders, cashing lot of cheques.
-Now, let's go and make a cup of tea.
Follow me through to the kitchen.
Right. What about this?
My goodness. This is a nice large kitchen.
Is this the sort of space that would work for you?
It would work. As long as you can get your cooker in.
Ah. Yes, we haven't seen that far yet.
Right, well, have a look. You tell me. Will it fit in there?
-I think we could do something with that space.
What kind of cooker have you got?
-I've got a very big range.
-OK. Well, you said you'd fit in there.
You'd fit in there. That's a good space.
And the diner element has a nice one, too.
-With the kids as well, it's really good.
Good. OK. Well, let's see if we can find you some reception rooms. Come and have a look through here.
Now, leading off of the kitchen, this little sort of vestibule, if you like.
It's something of a kind of snug, I suppose.
Nice bay window overlooking the front garden.
It could be a kids' area. That's possible.
Somewhere for them to watch telly.
Maybe more their kind of space. It should mean that you guys
would be in here - a really interesting family area.
-This is good.
-Nice open fireplace here.
And I do love this. I think the window-seat really works.
-It makes the best of the garden.
-Feels very spacious.
-So you would all fit in here. That's the key thing.
Right. Good. Great. And next door, there's a dining room with direct
access to the kitchen which would be ideal for their dinner-parties.
Still on the ground floor, there's also a good-sized family bathroom
and three bedrooms, including a generous double, a single
and one which could be perfect for them.
So. How about this as your master bedroom?
What a lovely size.
-It's huge, isn't it? You look quite surprised, Tracy.
-I wasn't expecting quite so big.
-It's great. It's lovely.
Again, the bay windows are a real feature of this property.
I think that's what makes it really nice.
Well, have a look in there because you've got a very nice en suite, too. Check it out. Off you go.
At least it's not avocado.
-Yeah. Very Spanish, aren't they?
Very Spanish. Thought that might appeal.
Good size for an en suite with shower. Very good.
Good. Right. Let's see what else we can find you.
Well, let's start exploring the upstairs conversion here.
This is 2002. You have got two further bedrooms up here.
I think the question is whether you configure these for your son or for the girls.
I think we'd have this room.
Or for you. It's a great big double. It's got some really, really lovely features in it.
Go and have a look through there. Go on. There's some double doors, Tracy.
Go and open those up.
Wow! This is really good.
Look at that. It's fabulous.
What a good view of the garden.
Can you imagine coming out of your slumber with a cup of coffee in the morning?
-Definitely. Very nice.
So you think this would become your master?
-I think it would.
-Yeah, I don't think we'd argue about that one, would we?
-So who would get the one downstairs?
-We'd have to think about that one.
It looks like they're really starting to see themselves in this house.
On the same level, there's another bathroom and a further single bedroom tucked under the eaves.
But now it's time to go back out and give them a closer look at that wonderful garden.
I love this place.
It's like a rain forest.
How about this, then?
The rest of it goes on through here.
Come and have a look at this.
So, all in all, about a third of an acre.
But it feels a lot bigger.
-A lot bigger.
-Very beautiful garden.
So, very pretty house in the heart of the New Forest.
How much is it worth, then?
I'm going to go 610 because of the area.
Well, you were a little bit more realistic there, Tracy.
To be perfectly honest. This is on the market at 625,000 quid.
-Not too shocked?
-No, not too shocked.
-Well, there's plenty of it go and explore.
Go and soak up the atmosphere and I'll catch up with you a little bit later.
So, well under budget at 625,000, this former bungalow is in fact a rather large house.
Although it doesn't have that pipe-dream farm shop, it is in a desirable village location
and it has many of the features on Nick and Tracy's wish-list.
Including three spacious living areas,
four bedrooms and three bathrooms, a large kitchen/diner and a huge office to run their business from.
But what do they think about it all?
-I love this room.
-It's a good room.
Nice open fireplace.
This window in particular, looking over that fabulous garden.
It's got a nice feeling of space. I think this house could work with us.
We'd obviously have to spend some money on it, but it does have some nice features.
I think the kitchen's a good size, but whether it's big enough.
Whether you'd get your big range in.
Yeah, because I really want a large range cooker and it's a good size, but I know it'll frustrate me.
I think, on the whole, the property has everything we're looking for.
The office in particular is a really good space.
And I guess a little bit of issue with the layout of some bedrooms upstairs and downstairs,
but that needs a little more thinking about.
Overall, though, what a great start.
It's started raining.
What have you done, you two? Have you seen enough?
Great first property. Good start, then.
-Plenty more to come.
The lively market town of Lyndhurst is at the heart of the New Forest.
Nick and Tracy are no strangers to the town,
but they're here to find out a bit about its heritage,
so they've come to meet local expert Peter Roberts.
First stop is the awe-inspiring St Michael and All Angels church,
which stands imposingly over the town centre.
Although it was built in the Victorian Gothic style,
its multicoloured bricks show it belonged to the then
cutting-edge design movement known as Arts and Crafts.
Right, we're in the height of Lyndhurst, if you like.
I say height because we've got a spire attached to this church, which is 160 feet high.
Gothic in style but actually built in the 1860s by the Arts and Crafts movement,
and it was funded entirely from people within the parish,
which says something about their affluence in the 1850s and '60s.
-So quite a place, all in all.
-Yes, it is.
Inside, there are some beautiful examples of craftsmanship
by celebrated artists of the time.
With a biblical fresco by Lord Leighton,
and stained-glass windows created by the Arts and Crafts artists,
Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.
Outside, there are also literary legacies from the Victorian era.
The churchyard marks the resting place of Alice Liddell,
who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland.
Just next door is the Verderers' Hall,
seat of the Verderers' Court, which has presided over the area
and its people for the past 1,000 years,
dealing with all matters of forest law.
The Verderers' Court goes back to Norman times,
with the introduction of forest law.
Forest law was invented by William the Conqueror
to protect his hunting - to look after the deer.
The idea was that there was a need to look after the deer,
ensure they weren't taken by the locals
and ensure their habitat had somewhere safe for them to go to.
The Verderers are still a powerful force in the New Forest
and have the final say on all kinds of forest business,
like animal welfare and planned developments.
It's no wonder Nick and Tracy want to move here
and enjoy the riches of the New Forest's town and country life.
Our next property is in the village of Pilley,
of one of the most sought-after areas in the New Forest.
Pilley has a village store and a post office, useful for
Tracy and Nick's online business food deliveries.
A resident herd of cows make themselves at home amongst
the Victorian red-brick cottages and barn conversions.
The house I'm taking our couple to see is a little less easy to date.
-Come on up to the gate.
-What do you think of that?
-That looks good.
-It's a very big, substantial house, this.
-What kind of date do you think it was built?
-Early 20th century.
-You would think so. But, actually, this is 1970.
-Probably not a lot has changed since 1970.
The other thing to point out is that in terms of schools,
this is a really good area.
-The bus stop for the local schools is at the end of the lane.
-Let's take a step back in time, shall we? To the 1970s.
It's like Life On Mars.
Right then, in you come, Nick.
As I say, we are in something of a time warp here,
as you can probably tell.
-Behind you, a little downstairs cloakroom on the way in.
Quite a small study there.
-I'm not sure that's enough for what you need to work in.
In your previous property searches, you've looked at at least one property that needed renovation.
-And you weren't put off.
-Not put off by that.
-Something that really needs it.
-You know where you are. Warts and all.
-I'm glad you said that! Come with me.
-I did say this place had a lot of space.
-This is a nice room.
-What a nice room.
-I like this.
-It's a good room.
-I think this is actually quite generous.
-It's a nice room.
-Love the windows.
I'm describing it as a bit of a project, and it is in some respects.
It's not as major as it might be, but it does give you the scope to really go to town with this.
OK. Let's continue through here.
-Let's get creative.
-We need to!
As you can see, it's going to be much too small. But through here...
-..is the kitchen.
If this wall were to disappear, you'd end up with a very, very big kitchen.
-Is that the sort of project you would consider?
Let's have a look in the kitchen itself. It'll start to make more sense. This way.
-This has great potential.
-I think it has.
-I think definitely take that wall out.
-And what about your big range?
-Where would we put that?
-Well, I think we're probably somewhere...
-There, I'd say.
-..along that wall.
-Yep, that would work.
We have enough space.
I'm glad this gamble's paid off.
They seem to be taking the whole renovation idea in their stride.
Next door to the kitchen, there's a handy little utility room,
but we're going to go upstairs to check out the four bedrooms.
Look at that - mirrors on the ceiling!
-Let's start in here. This is one of the biggest bedrooms.
-It's a good size.
-Absolutely enormous, isn't it? This really could be two.
-One would have dual aspect, one would have single.
-How about that for the girls?
-That would work really well.
-That would really work.
Despite the slightly dated feel, all the rooms are of a good size,
including the family bathroom and the fourth bedroom.
-Don't look down!
It's the size of the room which I think really is special.
-Yeah, it's a good size.
-Plus you get your own en suite.
-Oh, right. Wow. That's a good size.
-There is, curiously, one omission.
-Yes. There's no toilet.
There is one next door, off the landing, which is also a wet room.
-So the plumbing is up here.
-So you could put one in.
-You could quite easily renew that.
-How are we doing on this one?
-Quite well. I like the area.
-I like the house. I think it's got some potential.
-Growing on you, Tracy?
-Upstairs is ticking more boxes than downstairs.
It's normally the other way around. There we are.
-Could be a first! Let's go and look at the garden.
In terms of the garden, what you see is what you've got.
You've got that area up there and this area here,
going down to this sort of point.
And you've got the great big garage which I want you to explore later.
-So, what do you think?
-It's good, yeah.
-I think it's...
I'm really surprised how much accommodation there is inside.
Especially upstairs. Lovely house.
The nice thing is, you've got plenty of room here for the twins to run around and kick a football about.
-And a gate, which keeps them off the road.
-Yes, that's nice.
-It's pretty secure.
We can hear the road, it's not a main, main road but that means your clients can come and see you.
-Absolutely. We don't want to be SO remote they can't get to us.
OK, let's have a think about the money.
-Mm. This is a hard one.
-It's a hard one.
It needs quite a lot of money spent on it to modernise it.
But it is quite substantial and in an area quite sought-after.
-Yes, we're very close to Lymington. It's a real hot spot.
-Go on, then, Nick.
-610. Yeah. Tracy?
I'm going to go nearer 640.
It's on the market
-It's a good price.
-That's a good price.
I think that gives us some room to manoeuvre a little
and to do a lot of work inside.
Good! Go manoeuvre a little more around this property.
Check out the garage, tell me what you think of that as office space.
-I'll catch up with you later.
For £620,000, with money left over for renovation work, they get...
-This is a good size.
-This would make a... I'm thinking of two things here.
-Music room. Sound-proof it.
-Office or music room.
Lovely house. Wonderful location. Downstairs, not so sure about. Upstairs is great.
Three bathrooms, which ticks all the boxes.
Lots of scope to split one bedroom into two, so, yeah, really nice.
Obviously needs a lot of work to bring it up to modern standards
-but I'm sure that can be worked on.
-Price, I think, is probably a bit higher than we'd like
because of the money you'd have to spend on the bathrooms and the kitchen.
But then the location - I think you're paying for the location.
I think it's a very interesting house and one we should definitely consider.
If that was a glazed front, that'd make a fantastic office space.
-An office, I hear what you're saying.
-Flowers in front.
-Sounds like a plan with some vision!
-I think it is!
-So it could be a contender?
-Brilliant. Come on. Let's see what else we can find you.
-But one on the list - it's all good.
Tracy and Nick are not alone in their love of the New Forest.
Around 13 million people a year come and enjoy this protected area.
Besides the ponies and cattle that graze here, it's a truly special habitat,
home to a host of different birds, deer and snakes.
So it's crucial that the people looking after the forest know what they're doing.
The men in charge of that are known as Agisters.
They're employed by the Verderers and form a vital part of the ancient governing system of the forest.
Brian Ingram is a retired Head Agister and he's going to show me what the job is all about.
-Hi, Brian. How are you?
-All right, thank you.
Nice place to be, I should think, in the heart of the New Forest.
-Yeah, really nice place.
-Born and bred?
Man and boy. It must be a real thrill, living and working amongst all the wildlife that's here?
Well, it is because, you know,
where else can you find a place like the New Forest, really?
You ride your horse out, you can see all the wildlife go on, you can see the deer, you can see the foxes.
Well, we haven't got any ponies with us today that we can ride, but we have got your pick-up.
-Shall we go for a ride?
-We'll go and have a look round.
Regular inspections on horseback or by car mean that the Agisters know every inch of their patch of forest.
Of the 7,000 animals that roam over the New Forest, 4,000 of these are the famous ponies.
Although they're wild by nature, they're all owned by commoners.
That's people who have the right to graze their animals on open land.
A good Agister will know exactly which ponies belong to a particular commoner.
There's no formal training needed to be an Agister, it's the local inside
knowledge of the land and the animals on it that counts.
There. Look at that. I love it. The foal, the mare.
-They just look very, very happy here.
-Yeah, they do.
And what happens to them all? New Forest is famous for its ponies.
-What becomes of them?
-We sell them through for breeding, for riding.
Well, I have to say, it's absolutely lovely having the chance to see them in their truly natural environment.
Now, if there is one thought that you could leave me with, for anybody coming here to the New Forest,
as somebody who's had to look after it and manage it, what would it be?
One of our biggest problems is people that feed the animals.
It is something that we have tried to stop for a number of years because people get injured.
They get kicked and then, you know, it's a problem that that animal's got to be moved.
But it hasn't been the animal's fault. It's been the people that have come here and feed them.
I think the key thing to remember is that it isn't a tourist attraction,
-it's a genuine working landscape.
-This is a working forest and this is what we'd like it to continue as.
If you come to the New Forest, enjoy it, celebrate it, make the best of it, just don't feed the animals.
With our day's house hunting over,
Nick and Tracy take a chance to mull over the properties they've seen so far.
-What did you think of the bungalow?
-It's a good conversion. The office.
-Perfect for what we need.
It didn't really have that much space, did it?
It had space, but not the way we want space. Living rooms, great.
-Nice open fireplace. Garden was fantastic.
-Thought that was great.
-But is it big enough for us? Not sure.
-How about the 1970s house?
I love the look of the outside. The location is perfect.
Really good, but it needs a lot of money spending on it to update it.
The kitchen and the dining room have to become one room.
-I guess the biggest surprise in the house is upstairs.
Those rooms were amazingly big. Especially the thought of knocking
-one into two for the girls would be perfect.
Your drums could go into the garage, perhaps,
if we could extend beyond the garage for the office outside.
-There's a few options. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Nick and Tracy from Bournemouth dream of swapping their house
in town for a character family home in the New Forest.
With a budget of £650,000, they also want an office space
and ideally a shop from where they can run their Spanish food business.
So far, they've seen two properties but coming up, I get an idea of what Nick's cooking up in the kitchen.
I want to cook suckling pigs.
You know, I need an oven that's big enough to get them in.
-Is he serious?
And there's the mystery house with a potential business bolthole just around the corner.
Well, we've got just one more day here in the New Forest to find Tracy and Nick the house of their dreams.
Now, it wouldn't be Escape To The Country if our buyers didn't want
a nice big kitchen, but these two are real foodies.
I think they want an exceptional kitchen and they also have a thing about properties that are thatched.
So just as well we've got two more to come, including, of course, the mystery house.
Our next property is in the dramatically named village
of Nomansland, slap bang on the Hampshire and Wiltshire border.
It was named in the 17th century when no-one could decide whether or not it fell within the New Forest.
As well as a popular primary school for their girls, Nomansland is foodie heaven for our gastronomes.
Boasting a fine pub and a French restaurant in the village.
But what will they make of the property itself?
Right. Out you come.
Now, it's not every day we get to go to Nomansland on this show.
Although we are often in the middle of nowhere, to be fair!
But, you know this part of the world quite well.
We've been here before.
-So, in terms of location?
Excellent. Good. Well, that's what I want you to look at.
Wow! Love it.
Now, it's described as a cottage. But it has had an awful lot of work done to it over the years
and it has just been newly refurbished.
Let's see what you make of it. Come and have a look.
And through the gateway into Wiltshire we go.
In you come. Grab the door, Nick.
Now then, Tracy.
This looks really good. I love it. It's the floor.
It's clean, it's fresh.
It looks really open.
My goodness, it's like a tunnel going down into somewhere else.
-You wanted a kitchen, my friend.
-Oh yes. Come with me. This you will like,
Mr Nick. Utility room in there.
-All very handy. But this I think you'll enjoy.
-What a space. What a room. Wonderful.
It's quite interesting. I mean, there's quite a high-spec here. Have a look at this.
If you're into your cooking, you've got a whole range of ovens here. And everything's nicely built in.
-It's a cook's kitchen, this.
-It is, which is why I thought you would like this.
And it's also a kitchen where you've got everybody around you, which is what I love as well.
Well, you know, you've got bags of space for them.
Open-plan is clearly what this is all about.
Whether you keep it as open-plan as it is, I don't know.
You could divide this with a glass partition if you wanted to.
I don't think so. I love it open-plan.
I mean, in fairness, this is really one of your principal reception rooms.
-But what you do get is quite special.
So far, so good. You haven't smiled so much all week. This is great.
This house may only have one reception room, but I've got a few surprises up my sleeve.
Downstairs, there's one of this property's five bedrooms, which
could be a perfect music room for Tracy and there's a small cellar.
Back up to the entrance hall, there's a good-sized double with a large en-suite.
But now to the top floor, complete with a spacious family bathroom and the three remaining bedrooms.
Now, of the three bedrooms up here, there are two which are pretty much identical.
This one and the one next door. So you tell me.
Girls. Fantastic. No arguing.
I would think this would be perfect.
I can see the little dressing tables here.
All right, well, let's see
if we can find you a master bedroom. Follow me through here.
-So, here you are. This can be your own little playroom.
What a lovely room.
The little old Victorian fireplace is quite sweet.
And there's a mixture of stripped doors and new doors.
That one there going into your little shower room. Have a look in there.
It's quite a big shower, though.
-And, of course next door you've got the bathroom in any case.
-Look, there are your neighbours. Ponies.
-My goodness! Look at that.
That's why you've got a gate!
Well, um, I think this is going quite well,
in terms of its finish, and so forth, so let's go and look
at the garden because there are some interesting options there. It really does set this place off a treat.
I know you have been itching to come out and explore this bit.
It's somewhat sort of Mediterranean, I think, in a way.
We could be on a ship.
Yeah, a game of shuffleboard, or quoits, or something?
The only thing we haven't got you is a pool. I think it's rather nice.
-Well, I can see us eating out here.
-Many evenings during the summer.
Good. And of course you've got that bit down there.
Some grass, and a good size, by the look of it.
-Something for you to mow, Nick.
-I do the mowing!
The terrace has gone down a treat. I want to impress them with the bigger picture.
There we are.
Quite handsome, I think, actually, perched up there.
Looks lovely up there.
You get a real sense of how much extra the extension that includes
-the kitchen, it's a vast area, isn't it?
The garden is pretty much
what you see.
-Office space, I'm thinking, Nick...
-Ah. We were thinking about offices. Where we might put those.
Well, maybe there, what do you think?
Purpose built, for the job, fantastic.
You know, something that will really complement the garden.
You're going to have to run it through the relevant authorities.
But you wouldn't be overlooked, there.
-I wouldn't have thought. It's tucked away.
-That would work very well.
Well, are you going to move here?
I wonder. Let's have a think about how much it's going to set you back.
-Go on, Tracy.
-Well, location's fantastic.
The reception rooms, there's not as many as I'd like and the bedrooms might be an issue.
But the finish is fantastic, so I'm going to say it's near the top end of our budget.
I think you jumped a little bit over.
Well done, you.
Yeah, for the sake of a few quid, it's just under £650,000.
That's pretty good. Because we haven't got too much to spend other than the office.
-It's only the office space. The rest of it's done.
Go and have a look round and I'll catch up with you later.
Well, the stunning kitchen layout and garden office idea have wiped
the three reception rooms from their wish-list.
For just under £650,000, it offers a state-of-the-art open-plan kitchen for Nick.
Five bedrooms with two en suite.
A south-facing terrace overlooking the garden.
And it's just a stroll across the road to the New Forest.
-Absolutely love the house.
-I think this house is fantastic.
-What do you reckon to the kitchen?
-I love the kitchen. It's modern, but I love it.
Very, very well designed.
Big fridge, no range cooker, though.
Ah! You're going to make me compromise on that one, I think. Maybe.
-But the equipment's beautiful.
-I love this island.
I could see the children having breakfast here in the morning.
I can see ME having my breakfast here in the morning!
-Well, I think there's so much potential.
What would be great is if you could put a conservatory off from the top
level there at the back here with a spiral staircase coming down.
That would give us another reception room.
Flat in the chalet office down there.
That would just make it a workable...
Garden's a really nice size.
Should be good. The location of this house is fantastic.
Ponies coming up to the door.
There's a fantastic pub up the road, so just what we want.
Right, guys, out you come.
Come back to Hampshire.
But a nice foray into Wiltshire, I think.
-Yes. Great foray into Wiltshire. Brilliant.
-Plenty more to see.
Go on. Off you go. Let's move on.
Nick and Tracy aren't only food distributors,
they are food connoisseurs.
So they couldn't resist a visit to a nearby farm which claims
to be the only British producer of a version of one of Italy's finest cheeses - buffalo mozzarella.
They're meeting former racing driver-turned-organic farmer
Jody Scheckter, who's going to show them how it's done.
I'll show you to the dairy where we make the mozzarella.
-There's a guy that's going to make some by hand.
-That would be fantastic. Thank you.
Jody's herd of East Indian water buffalo have been on the farm
for about five years
and they certainly look very at home in the heart of Hampshire.
Although they only produce half the milk of a dairy cow,
it's much richer in calcium and protein,
which gives the mozzarella its distinctive flavour.
Welcome. This is Tom. He's going to give us a demonstration on how you do it by hand.
The traditional method is to soak the cheese curds
in almost-boiling water to soften them and then stretch them out
over a wooden board, which creates the stringy,
layered consistency that characterises the very best mozzarella.
In a good mozzarella, you'll see the layers when you open it up. It's quite firm.
When's going soft, it's starting to go past its good date.
The advantage we've got is it's fresh.
You can't get mozzarella like this unless you go to the south of Italy.
Traditional Italian mozzarella, di Bufala Campana, is a protected brand
from the Campana region, much like champagne is in France.
This is as we'll deliver it. Take one out and open it up like this.
-It's a little cold now.
You want to eat it always at room temperature.
-You want to take a bite?
-I'd love to.
-That's the way you eat it.
-Shall I just go for the same one?
-Yeah, go for it.
You know how we tell we're doing good?
You show it to an Italian from the south of Italy
and you see the face go like that.
I know it's not Spanish,
but maybe it'll be out with the manchego cheese and in with
the mozzarella if our couple make their move to the New Forest.
At long last it's time to reveal the mystery house to Nick and Tracy.
Back in its heyday, the New Forest would have been full
of thatched buildings and indeed, a good many are still left.
It's something Tracy has said she might be interested in,
and if thatched is what she wants, then thatched is what she'll get.
Our final property is nearly upon us. And that is which one?
-The mystery house.
-The mystery house.
What do you think we've got in mind?
I don't know. Probably something you haven't shown us yet.
-Isn't Jules famous for converted chapels?
The aspect of the shop combined with the property is something that we have had difficulty in achieving.
Are you missing that element?
I think it's become so clear that it's virtually impossible to have a shop
with a property in the Forest, that
we are happy to find a shop may be in a village somewhere,
-so that would be the compromise that would work very well.
I was hoping they would say that.
Before we go to the mystery house, we are going to stop off in the village of Burley, where
there's an interesting premises which might help them launch their Spanish food retail business.
This little gift shop, the lease is up for renewal.
There's a premium to pay, which effectively gives you access to the lease.
OK. That's about 15 grand.
There on in, combined rent and rates is about 12,000 a year.
To give you a presence on the high street.
-Certainly something to think about.
Because the other point is that the mystery house is less than a mile from here. Ha-ha!
You see! It's beginning to make sense! Come on. Let's have a look.
Let's find your house.
Burley's a great village, and, along with a reputable primary school for their girls, it gets
plenty of passing trade, so Nick and Tracy should be heartened by the other thriving independent shops.
But there's still a distinctly rural feel with
cows roaming free on forest land and manor houses and little thatched cottages tucked away.
Ha-ha! The mystery house.
Come on in. Now then.
Very different to what we've seen. So far.
Admittedly, we are on the road.
That's the only downside. I think.
Because it's a wonderful period property, this.
-It looks massive.
-It does look big.
Come and have a look inside. Let's see what you think.
Let's start in here.
Come in, Tracy. Come in, Nick.
-This is sweet. Yeah? Isn't it? It's quite elegant.
-It's a nice room, isn't it?
-Cosy little room.
Is this the sort of period charm you were thinking of?
It's got a lot of character.
Good. Right. Excellent.
Come on through here.
-There we are. Is that what you pictured?
I like that.
Can you chop wood?
I'd have to be chopping wood,
-Come and have a look through here. It's sort of divided by the furniture.
But you could potentially have another little dining area here, if you wanted to.
You've certainly got bags of room.
It's lovely. It's got a nice feel about it. I love the beams.
There's not too many beams.
It's just cosy.
I can see us in here.
This room has definitely grabbed Tracy, but will the kitchen be suitable for Nick?
-Yeah, really cosy, isn't it?
-This is sweet.
-Now, Nick, you pride yourself on being the chef in this relationship.
Would you be happy doing your thing in here?
I'm struggling a little bit on the size at the moment.
It would need a complete redesign. So I would need a moment, I think, to think how it would be done.
Tell me, how much room do you need?
What actually are you going to do in this kitchen?
Ooh, I want to cook suckling pigs.
I need an oven that is big enough to get them in.
-Is he serious?
You could still fit a range in there.
I still think you could.
You got a lot more space through you, too. The utility area.
The downstairs loos. So, loads of space. Should you need it.
I think you rather like it as it is.
Yeah, I do. It's cute.
Let's go upstairs.
Well, I hadn't thought that Nick would be roasting whole animals.
You see? Old houses, old stairs.
Upstairs there are four bedrooms with a good-sized double, currently used as an office.
And down the landing, a single room.
But we're going to explore options for Nick and Tracy.
Watch your head. It's great, this, isn't it? You're loving it, aren't you, Tracy?
Yes. This is a great room.
Come on in. How about all this?
Look how those beams go. Brilliant.
This room also has a very useful en suite in there.
-Look at that.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Kind of a large en-suite as well.
-Yes. Really large.
Now, this could be the master.
Because there is a choice. Let me show you the master, then you can decide.
Now then. In here, that is technically the family bathroom.
-That's nice. Without a bath.
-Just with a big shower.
-A large shower.
-But it is next door to this room which is currently
on the spec as the master.
But it's not en suite.
Hence, why I am suggesting that the other one, if you wanted an en suite, would be the master.
Fantastic. Really pretty.
Very, very pretty.
So how are we doing on this property so far then?
-It's a question whether it's big enough.
Haven't worked that one out yet.
Drums and office, purpose-built solutions in the garden.
Come this way to office and drums, this is all good.
Well, this house does give them the three reception rooms they want, just not under the same roof.
OK, grab the door, Nick.
There's a lot of garden to explore here.
-Come through here, this is what I want to feast your eyes on.
Now I see where you're coming from.
-You see, I think at this point, you want this place.
We've got to find a very good reason to persuade him to want it too.
I've got a feeling that this might just do it.
-Come and have a look inside.
-There we are! How about that?
-What a great space.
-It's a great space, isn't it?
Perfect. Jules, I think we're getting there.
-It's absolutely wonderful.
Let's find you a drum kit.
Now then, don't say you've been left out of the thinking here, Tracy.
-My own hideaway.
I think it's got music room written all over it and there's more.
So if all that isn't enough, you also get this as well, which I think is really, really charming.
It's very private, it's very secluded.
-Good for the girls to run around in.
-The girls would love it, wouldn't they?
-They would. Absolutely love it.
So it's the final time that I'm going to press you to guess the price...
-before it rains!
-Before it rains.
So, very quickly, Nick.
I'm going to say 645.
645 would be a very good price.
620 would be a very fair price.
-595 is a brilliant price.
-That is interesting.
That is really interesting.
You like challenging us, Jules.
Well, that's the general idea, hopefully in a good way, though.
-Right, you've got some arm-twisting to do.
-Yes, I have.
OK, off you go, twist away and I'll catch you later.
Well, that was our final offering.
The mystery house, £595,000 of character, charm and fun.
It is very comfortably under budget but it is also a fantastic fit
for this extraordinary family. Is it for them?
It jolly well should be.
Our mystery house has been a real success.
For £595,000 - £55,000 under budget -
it gives them all the period character they could wish for, a large family sitting room,
four bedrooms with a master en suite, separate buildings to use
as an office, and a music room for Tracy.
And the option of using some leftover cash to lease a shop,
less than a mile up the road, on Burley High Street.
Tracy loves it, but will the kitchen be an insurmountable problem for Nick?
This has been quite a challenging property for me
but I'm warming to it quite a lot.
This house is fantastic, this room especially.
I think this would be my favourite room, the fireplace is gorgeous.
The beams, everything I would want in a house, whether it's what Nick wants, I really don't know.
-So what about the kitchen?
-I love it.
You're not sure about the size.
I'm a little bit worried about the size.
-You could put your range there though.
-I think we would maybe need to take a wall out.
We could always enquire.
It's got lots of character. I love it.
Lots of character.
I think it would work.
Oh, well, we need to work on this.
OK. The road, a little bit noisy but the walls are thick.
-It's not perhaps so bad.
-Another positive is the office outside and somewhere for me to play my drums.
It's got all the reception space that we really want.
Right, guys, I'm afraid that's it. Are you feeling suitably challenged?
-Totally challenged, Jules.
-Good! That's the general idea, if you're challenged it's a good thing.
OK, let's get you somewhere where you can mull it all over and we'll see if you've reached a decision.
Well this house hunt has been a real journey for Nick and Tracy but we've reached our destination.
Well, at long last, decision time is upon us.
Now, to be honest, it can be a fairly fraught process for my buyers, often they are left feeling
a little bit confused, but Nick certainly is feeling challenged and maybe Tracy too.
So maybe this'll help.
-There we are, chaps.
-This looks good, Jules.
-Just what the doctor ordered.
Brilliant! Right, well, cheers!
Well, let's revisit the little tour that we've taken, shall we? Tell me about the bungalow.
It was a bungalow with a difference.
-And it was a very good conversion.
-That got us challenged.
-What did you think of it, Tracy?
I thought the bungalow was really nice, the garden was fantastic,
the lounge was great, the fireplace was great.
I've got a slight problem with the bedroom layout.
I'm not sure with the girls whether it's quite right for us.
-OK. Let's have a think about the red brick 1970s build.
Loved where it was. Inside...beams and more beams.
But as we were going through that, I thought you were coming round to the idea that this was
something you might want to tackle and take on, but you, Tracy,
-were a bit more reticent.
-I think, on reflection,
the position of the house, with roads on either side...
The plot wasn't huge,
-not sure we really want to start converting garages.
-Wow factor, not quite there.
OK, well, it wasn't over just yet, we had one more day to come.
It started with that very charming white cottage.
-It looks beautiful.
-I mean, you do walk out of your front door literally onto the New Forest.
-Beautiful, we loved the area, I know we do.
-Yeah, the area's great.
-The kitchen was a "wow."
-My goodness that was a beautiful kitchen.
Modern kitchen mind, but really "wow."
Open plan, love it.
-I think if we could add a conservatory onto the end of the
house and create a further reception room, that would be fantastic.
And you'd definitely need the office outside.
OK, last but not least, it was time to take you to the mystery house, to a thatch, Tracy.
Yes, you completely blew me away with that one.
The lounge was fantastic, the little snug room,
the kitchen was a little bit small but I felt it was workable.
-Loads of charm and character...
-He wanted to roast pigs in the kitchen!
-Yes! For sure.
You could even get the range in there, I think.
Then to go outside and find that wonderful outbuilding,
for the office and an outbuilding for my music room-cum-drums, you know, it was just...
Well, it ticked all the boxes.
OK, so what happens next?
We're going to revisit two properties.
We're going to Nomansland, and we're going to Burley.
I think we've got to spend a little time in both places...
I think we want to drive around Burley and just get a feel for the area.
It's a bit of a tourist spot.
I think Nomansland only works if we can get the permissions, so we need to work on that.
Brilliant. Thank you very much for coming on Escape To The Country, it's been great showing you around.
-I do hope it has been useful.
It's been more than useful and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we didn't buy one of those two houses.
Brilliant, I can't wait for the phone call. Guys, congratulations.
-Cheers. Thank you, Jules.
You know, when we started this house search, whilst we knew
their requirements, I wasn't sure what style of property we eventually find for Nick and Tracy.
As it is we've given them a very clear choice between a very slick
renovation and a beautiful and very old thatched cottage.
My hunch is, when the debate is finally over, and an ultimate
decision is finally reached, they could end up in "Nomansland".
I'll see you next time.
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