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In 1758, Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that lighthouses are far more useful than churches.
Well, fortunately, the one above me has been both
and it's also thought to be the oldest working beacon in Britain.
So join me for what should be a very enlightening Escape To The Country.
Today, we're helping a couple find a dream property with earning power.
We've got gorgeous homes...
-This is really nice.
-Really like this. Like it?
The views are spectacular. There's no doubt.
-We get down to business...
-I actually think it would be good as...a holiday let, yeah.
'But can we find the real deal?'
-It's an old cow shed.
-What are you saying?!
In the nicest possible way!
Today, I am in Ilfracombe on the shores of North Devon
and this is St Nicolas's Chapel,
a refuge that's been saving both souls and sailors since 1320.
A light has shone out from here for the last 650 years,
making it the oldest working lighthouse in Britain.
In 1851, lighthouse keeper Jon Davey
lived here with - wait for it - 11 children.
It must be all that sea air.
Fringed by the Bristol Channel and sitting atop the southwest peninsula
between Cornwall and Somerset, North Devon's 66 miles of coastline
is among some of the most dramatic in the UK.
But don't just take my word for it.
Most of it has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty since 1959.
And with 26 beaches to choose from, there's plenty to go round.
And if wild and windy moors are more your thing,
the county is also home to Exmoor National Park.
As you would expect, tourism is big business, with nearly 1 million visitors turning up here annually.
North Devon's primarily agricultural economy and remoteness once made it
the poor cousin to the trendy and more accessible south.
Suddenly, though, in the late '90s, the landscape changed as city dwellers and beguiled bankers
started buying up property here in search of a better lifestyle.
However, with the price of a detached property coming in 20%
under that of East Devon, it's North Devon that canny buyers choose.
Now, there are big plans afoot for Ilfracombe.
What they're planning is a new high-speed ferry service
that will link both here and Swansea in South Wales.
The whole thing is designed to bring in much-needed investment
into both parts of the country.
And on top of that they're also planning an £8 million redevelopment
of the harbour area.
So, whilst for many people Devon may represent
a quieter pace of life, as you can see, it's not standing still.
I think you'll need to move fast if you want to snap up this
stunning contemporary style coastal home overlooking Bideford Bay.
For £950,000 you'll get four spacious bedrooms,
a large, open-plan kitchen and more than just one room with a view.
Included in the price are five acres of private woodland and you can purvey it all in style.
If it's period property you're after,
this Grade II listed former Georgian rectory deserves high praise indeed.
Situated on the outskirts of Monkleigh, this elegantly renovated house
has four large bedrooms, three reception rooms and a large birch wood kitchen.
It's all set in a substantial 1.2 acres,
but with a price tag of £595,000, it won't cost you the earth.
Or how about this four-bedroom period farmhouse in the hamlet of Meddon?
Character features abound in the three snug reception rooms.
There's also the must-have country kitchen and the house is surrounded by a pretty garden.
This bundle of rural bliss could be yours for a snip under £400,000.
So, as you can see, it's not hard to spot good property here in Devon.
There is plenty on offer, which is exactly why today's buyers want to move here.
John works in the oil industry and Annie runs an HR consultancy.
They share their five-bedroom home in a Surrey commuter town
with their three-year-old, Madeleine, and baby Isabella,
whose premature arrival has prompted their escape.
She was born nearly four months early, at 25 weeks.
So we've had a very, very stressful year.
And it has actually made us think about what's important in our lives.
We want to spend a lot more time with our children
and that's going to be our priority.
With family quality time and a change of pace
now at the top of the agenda,
John and Annie have designs on North Devon.
We've started to look online. We looked on the internet.
We've done a bit of research, but we certainly don't know the area.
They may not be familiar with North Devon, but they do know exactly what will make them happy.
The new house really needs to have four or five bedrooms,
be a detached property, have a bit more space outside
-in a flatter garden than we currently have.
Maybe the neighbours not so close to us as they are,
and be close to a village with amenities such as a school, maybe a shop, a pub.
And I would like a farmhouse-type kitchen,
so that we can have a table in the kitchen.
That's a must have.
And hopefully an open fire or a wood burning stove would be great.
But it's not just a house move John and Annie are planning.
We are looking for the potential to run a business from the new property.
So whether that would be...
a B&B, or a holiday let...
-Or a guest house or...
-Or even just an office.
-A home where we could work from.
That will certainly give us a challenge!
So what kind of location have they set their sights on?
It would be somewhere fairly rural, but still quite near to the sea.
Maybe not exactly on the seafront but maybe within a 10 or 15 minute drive, so we can get the kids
down there and they can go and enjoy the beach or the cliffs.
Spending more time with the girls is the top priority,
but what other pursuits do they have planned when they do move?
-Definitely like to...look at sailing.
John would like to learn to sail.
I would like to surf again. I haven't surfed for many, many years.
-And maybe horse riding.
But before they can saddle up and mosey on down to Devon,
they need to know how much their property is worth.
We've invited a local agent round to value it.
This is a well-presented
five-bedroom family home,
ideally situated and located for the village shops and amenities,
and I would currently put this on the market at around £550,000.
So what's the final budget for the big move?
If we found a property that was absolutely perfect we'd go up to £550,000.
Now, finding a large home with business potential for £550,000 in North Devon
is a big ask in itself, without the added limitation of a 10 to 15 minute drive to the sea.
In order to maximise John and Annie's chances of landing
the dream property, we've cast the search net slightly further afield.
We'll include houses within a 30-minute drive of the coast,
taking in the countryside around Barnstaple.
We've tracked down fantastic propositions, which we really hope will fit their bill, but, as always,
I won't reveal the price tags until the end of the tours.
Finally, there's the mystery house, which could be a gamble.
-Hi, John. Very nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
At long last, we're in North Devon about to start your house search.
-How does it feel?
-Fantastic. We're very excited.
We are. It's so beautiful down here. I can't wait to make the move.
Let's have a think about budget. Just remind me of our maximum proposed spend.
But potentially we could stretch it to £550,000.
And in terms of scale of tweaking, are you a bit of a DIY man, John?
-So we need money to get a man in?
Yes, basically. We need something we can move into, more or less, off the cuff.
Obviously the girls are quite young, so we don't really want a major refurbishment job.
So somewhere for four of you, with some character,
half a million quid to spend in North Devon...
I wonder. Well, we've got some interesting ones lined up, including the mystery house.
-It's all to play for.
So let's get a move on.
'Will their top budget of £550,000 meet their big property ambitions?
'We'll see. They're looking for...
'A level garden for the girls to play in,
'which, in hilly North Devon, isn't as easy as it sounds.
'Location-wise, they want easy access to amenities,
'particularly excellent schools,
'and they'd prefer to be within a 15-minute drive of the sea.
'To top it all off, they'd like the house to have business potential,
'but as yet they have no idea how they'd like to earn a crust.
'I think this could be an interesting couple of days.'
I know you're sort of skirting around the idea of having your own business,
but without any real specifics. That's quite a leap of faith.
Quite right, Jules.
But I think being open-minded,
I think it really depends on what's available and what we can do.
You say open-minded, have you got any sort of practical applications
-that you might develop further?
I'm just wondering how we start to find you a living.
"Find me a job."
-Find me a job. Escape To The Job!
-Escape To The Job.
Well, we'll try our hardest to offer some inspiration with our properties.
The first one today is in the village of Tawstock,
just a few miles south of the county town of Barnstaple,
and a 30-minute drive to the coast.
It's not a huge place and doesn't have a pub or shop,
but the girl's schooling will be well catered for.
There is a pre-school at the village hall,
a well-rated primary school or there's also an independent school
taking children from three months to 13 years, should they wish to go down that route.
The house we're viewing is outside the village, set well back off a B road.
It's all of this. All of this cream building you can see in front of us there.
Fantastic. Very pretty.
-With the ivy and the... Absolutely beautiful.
It's quite an interesting one. I mean, I say "property",
it's properties, actually, because that half is a holiday annexe.
We're thinking, you know, money-making potential.
But the main house is that chunk up there covered in the green.
It's really several buildings joined together.
-It is pretty big, isn't it?
-It's looking good.
The only obvious downside to this, I suppose, is the road.
It's quite quiet at the moment. There are lights at either end of it,
-so it sort of comes in waves.
-In waves. OK.
But if you can get over that, this is quite an interesting proposition.
'A positive start and so it should be, because I think this property has loads going for it,
'both in terms of a home and potential earning power.
'But before we get down to business,
'let's see if we are in the right ballpark with the house.'
Right. In you come.
I'll grab the door.
What do you think?
-It's really lovely.
-Fantastic. Love the wooden floors.
-Love the wooden floors.
-The real fire's really nice.
-As we explore this building, you'll see how it rambles on.
I wouldn't really want to have to draw a floor plan of it.
You'll see what I mean. Come through here.
Now this drops down...
into a very sweet little kitchen, actually.
Very nice. Very clean.
Very fresh. It would work. There's lots of options.
You could do something quite nice with it, actually.
In terms of size, through that door there,
there's a big utility room, which runs along the back of that wall.
That, obviously it's useful as a utility room, but if you wanted to
open this up a little more, you potentially could do.
Certainly, it's nice to have it all tucked away.
Because there is a separate dining room, so this is real sort of breakfast, easy living in here,
then a more formal area through there.
-Loads of scope.
And we haven't even seen the annexe yet.
'But the living space doesn't end there, as upstairs there's a very light and airy addition.'
-Quite nice, isn't it?
-This is beautiful.
-Yes, this is really nice.
-Really like this.
-Is it working for you?
Definitely. I think it's got a really good feel to it.
-I think you're right. It's really nice.
-Good. All right.
Well, we have come upstairs to this gorgeous garden room,
but no surprise, this also leads on at this level
-to four bedrooms for you to play with.
-Have a look at these.
Off the hallway is a double guest room, if the teddies will give it up,
a family bathroom, and two single bedrooms, ideal for Madeleine and baby Isabella,
and the master bedroom makes four.
Bedroom-wise, this is... it is what it is.
-It is a good size again, though, isn't it?
But the real kind of ensemble to this is through there. This is the en-suite.
More than makes up, I think, for the quite small family bathroom, in a way.
Again, double shower, bath, and so forth.
It's massive for an en-suite, isn't it?
-We'd definitely like to make it our own.
-White suite. Personal preference.
Very simple job, though. Not an expensive one.
It allows you those little tweaks that sort of make it your own.
-Let's face it, most of it is done. It's in good condition.
-Oh, it's in really good shape.
Now we need to check out the annexe and see if they think it has enough potential.
Connected to the house, but with it's own separate entrance,
this annexe is all kitted out and ready to run as a holiday let.
There's a functional kitchen, two double bedrooms, a bathroom,
and a cosy living room.
The other thing to consider is that the current owners were letting this out a couple of years ago
-for £500 a week.
-Two grand a month.
-That's very good.
A pretty useful addition to any mortgage.
'They clearly like the sound of that, but this property comes with plenty more revenue potential.'
-You get a complete yard...
-And some friends.
-And some friends.
-Look at them looking at us.
-That's a bit different.
Let's go and find you some land that goes with this little lot.
Come and have a look. Through you go.
'I'm no Alan Sugar, but I can see there are great opportunities here.
'Renting the stables out for livery, maybe setting up a riding school,
'and it comes with a whopping three acres.
'We are offering up ideas, but John and Annie are the ones
'who need to decide what line of business they want to get into.'
Let's take a view that way and take it all in.
So, two houses, stable yard and your three acres.
-Not bad, is it?
-Not at all.
-Not bad at all.
-Can you hazard a guess as to how much this little lot is going to set you back, I wonder?
-475? Interesting. John?
I think it might be a bit more. I think more like 525.
525? That's interesting, actually.
Actually, you've pretty much straddled it.
Given that it comes with earning potential straight away,
I think that's a pretty good price, actually.
-I would agree.
-That's quite a lot for your money, I think.
Given the ground, the stables, the annexe, the house.
It's good space. I think we like it.
-It's a good start.
-Good, I like to hear that.
A good start is always a healthy thing.
OK. There's plenty more for you to really investigate.
-I'll catch up with you a little later.
-Off you go.
With an asking price of 499,950,
this period cottage is a comfortable 50,000 under their maximum budget.
And, bar a few personal touches, needs very little doing to it.
The main house has Annie's country kitchen,
three reception rooms and four bedrooms.
The patio and decked garden are perfect for adults,
but it's not the level lawn they've asked for.
However, will it be a compromise worth making
for the abundant business opportunities?
A self-contained two-bedroom holiday let,
purpose-built stables and three acres of land.
It's off a B-road. too, which might be handy for passing trade.
I think this outside space is nice.
But we wanted the flat garden.
Yeah, the number of stairs outside scared me a bit.
-Stumbling up and down them is something they'd do a lot.
-Concrete steps, small children -
not a good combination.
I think, in terms of business potential,
I think it would be something we could do.
If I was to stay there for a week's vacation, I'd really quite like it.
I wouldn't be disappointed at all.
I actually think it would be good as...
-a holiday let.
-I think you're right.
Particularly, as Jules said, the revenue potential,
the earning potential, 500 a week during the holiday season.
That could be very good.
I think even though there are concerns about the road and garden,
I still think we would consider this house.
-You've found a friend.
-Haven't I just?
We'll have to find him a new escape to the country if you buy this place.
He's going to need a new home, aren't you?
-That'll be your next challenge.
-Want to come on the show?
As John and Annie are completely new to North Devon,
they're keen to see as much as possible, so earlier in the week,
they dropped anchor in the harbour town of Ilfracombe.
Ron Goodwin, a man who just can't helping shouting about Ilfracombe's attributes,
was on hand to show them around.
Hello, welcome! Welcome.
The cliffs and hills around the town are great walking territory,
making up part of the Southwest coastal path. But in bygone years,
they played a more strategic role in the town's welfare.
The hill in front of us is Capstone Hill,
the hill where the legend of Betsy Gammon was born.
In the 1700s, the French decided they were going to attack Ilfracombe.
Vessels moored off Ilfracombe ready to attack.
Most of the men from Ilfracombe at that time were at war, they were out of town.
Betsy decided that wasn't going to happen. She decided there was one way to repel the French.
So what she did,
she got her friends to follow her, she beat her drum,
and they walked all the way up towards just above Capstone Hill.
They took off their red petticoats, put them round their shoulders and peeped over the top of the hill.
The French, who were moored off, thought it was a platoon of soldiers
and went and attacked Wales instead.
100 years later, however,
the town was welcoming invaders by the ferry and train-load.
The age of the Victorian holiday-maker had begun.
In Ilfracombe, it's not just the villas and terraces that are a lasting legacy of this heyday.
Its unique tunnel beaches, sheltered tidal bathing pools,
accessed via tunnels dating back to the 1820s,
are still in use today.
This one actually was the male swimming pool, because, in Victorian times,
they were prudish. The gentlemen had to swim separately from the ladies.
The ladies swam just round the corner in the other pool.
There was always someone on the rock there
with a bugle, whose job was to keep them apart.
The ladies all wore long swimming dresses.
And the gentlemen wore...nothing.
Thankfully, these days, clothing is compulsory,
so Annie and John needn't worry about revisiting with the girls.
But we're not on holiday now
so it's back to the business of property hunting.
You've had a pretty good glimpse already at North Devon.
Is this still where you want to be, do you think?
-I think it's beautiful.
It's quite remote.
But we knew that anyway. One of the questions is,
do we look more at South Devon and perhaps the Exeter area
where there is maybe more business opportunities
and wider business opportunities.
More opportunities maybe,
but with detached properties around Exeter costing 26% more,
they'll get a lot less for their money.
So we'll continue our search here. The next property is in Yarnscombe,
which is 16 miles from the nearest beach.
And as it's village life Annie and John are after,
this place certainly delivers.
With a population of just 300, and a church and a village hall,
getting to know the neighbours won't be difficult.
More action can be found five miles away in the market town of Great Torrington,
which doesn't fall short on the amenities front.
Our property is a stunning home with some untapped holiday let potential,
but only if John and Annie are willing to put the work in.
Feast your eyes on this lot. Isn't it pretty?
-Yeah, very sweet. You don't get the house, you get the old barn.
So you wanted a project. There you go. You get the whole lot.
A cob barn, and this, which is really interesting. It doesn't look it from here,
but this is late-medieval. So it could be, you know,
14th, 15th century at its core. It's an old hall house.
Once upon a time, it would have been just a big open barn, effectively,
with a central hearth in the middle. Over the centuries, floors have been added
and the whole thing has become what we would now regard as a very pretty little cottage.
-First impressions are good.
-Right. Let's see if they continue. Follow me through here.
'Another flying start.
'Let's just hope the home and business idea stacks up.'
I have high hopes for this so don't let me down.
-As you can see, all done, nice oak floors.
We'll start in here in the kitchen.
Come on through. Come in, John, don't be shy.
-As you can see, all fitted.
you know, units this end, we could have a table that end. It would work.
-Nice and light and airy.
-Mmm. You could have a table that end,
you could have a huge table that end, because this is in the process of being extended.
-And this will be finished by the time whoever buys it moves in.
-Cos the owner is a builder.
'When finished, the single-storey extension would increase the kitchen footprint
'by 25 square metres so Annie could have the huge country kitchen of her dreams.
'And for John, well, the living room definitely delivers the log burner.'
I think you're going to like this.
-Oh, yeah, this is great.
-Yeah, it's beautiful.
Really sweet, actually, and as we move into this part of the house,
you get a real sense of the history. Grade II, not surprisingly.
For no other reason than the beams. I mean, the beams would list it.
And the great thing about this is that although there are beams,
-there's still plenty of headroom.
-It's not particularly low.
-That's an interesting feature. Do you see that?
A mullion window. It's not an original thing, the current owners put it in. But I think it's nice.
It gives a real sense of period to the place,
and, of course, lets light flood through from here to there,
which is an enormous family room. Have a look at this.
What do you think of this?
-It's really nice.
-Isn't it? Is it capturing you with its feel?
I think it's got a good feel. There's loads of space.
-So we like so far?
-So far, so good.
'That's usually my line! But I'm more than happy to give it to them.
'Let's see if we can continue the good work upstairs.'
Let's start in here, shall we?
-As family bathrooms go in cottages, this is a good one.
-Loads of room.
-What is that room there?
-What is in here?
-What is in here?
-Oh, it's the airing cupboard.
-There we go.
-We were all excited!
You were expecting another world in there, weren't you?
It's not Narnia, it's an airing cupboard!
'There aren't any secret rooms along the corridor either,
'but there are two spacious doubles,
'one of which is being used as a study,
'fluffy cats not included.'
So how about this one....
-..of the three?
-It's really nice.
I think it's actually not a bad size.
I think it's nice and square as well so you can easily get furniture in.
-I know ideally you wanted four.
-So could you do this, could you do three?
-We'd have to find somewhere else for visiting friends or relatives to stay.
-Maybe if we could convert the barn.
-That's what I'm thinking.
'The barn isn't yet a business,
'and converting it into a two-bedroom self-contained holiday let
'will be a big job, so let's see if they're up for the challenge.'
Come on in.
-It's quite a thing, isn't it?
I mean, I just think a lick of paint, bit of dusting...!
You can have this sorted! An afternoon's work.
But space-wise, you know, this is quite interesting.
BOTH: It could be fantastic.
But the fact that it's got planning on it
-not to be sniffed at. Well worth thinking about.
-But it's not going to be done in a weekend, John.
Come on through here.
'The last stop on our tour is the garden.
'Flat as a pancake, as per their command,
'it comes in at just under half an acre, so plenty of room
'if John and Annie want to go down the self-sufficiency route.'
What do you think? That's the key thing.
I think...good size, needs some work.
They've obviously done a lot of work, which is great,
but we need space for the kids.
Yes. You may not want it this formal, I suppose, John.
You could just clear the whole thing away to grass.
-I think that would work better at the moment, with the age of the kids.
Having a bit more open space where we could keep an eye on them might be better.
Just please don't put a great big blue trampoline in the middle. Don't do that. It's such a shame.
OK. But joking apart, obviously the whole thing does come at some sort of price.
Make me an offer.
Mmm. No idea. Erm...
I think more like 460.
Actually, you're both a little bit high.
-Oh, right, OK.
-This could be yours for £450,000.
-Could give us the money we need, then, to maybe...
-Work on the barn.
Well, it would certainly give you enough
-to think about how you would get it structurally sound.
And then maybe you could just add to it, you know, as more money becomes available.
Go and explore and I'll see you later.
I have to say, it's not every day we find houses like this tucked away
in the heart of a really attractive village location.
These are the things that people very often ask for, but they are hard to find.
We've found one. Have we found the house for them? Who knows?
On the market for 450,000, this Grade II listed hall house
is £100,000 under their maximum budget,
leaving some money to tackle the barn conversion.
The house itself is really spacious with...
Whilst the barn isn't a concern at the moment,
John and Annie could set it up
as a self-contained two-bedroom holiday let.
So could this one be the business?
-If this was the kitchen area, do you think?
-Looking out on the garden.
I think it's got a lot of potential, but, my, there's a lot of work to be done, isn't there?
Quite a surprising space inside, for a period property.
And big enough ceilings for John to cope with,
so he doesn't hit his head on the beams.
The barn conversion is obviously a bonus.
This would be good. Maybe dining here, do you think?
-Do you think? Maybe a dining room?
-Then in the other room...
-They're just big family rooms.
-I think you're right.
-That'd be good.
-You're in there, I was in there!
I've got great plans for this conversion. I think it could be really exciting.
-It was great.
-It is definitely one to enjoy, isn't it?
Good. Come on.
As the sun sets over North Devon's sandy shores,
our couple have their first chance to relax and mull over today's properties.
-What do you think of the house with the annexe?
liked that house. Loads of space.
Loved the garden room.
-That was very nice, wasn't it?
-Bit concerned, though, about the lack of garden.
-And also the road.
The good thing about that house is it did have the annexe and the stables.
They had already used it for a holiday letting, hadn't they?
-£500 a week, in the annexe.
-That's very promising, isn't it?
-So I think that's good.
And the stables across the road, potentially livery.
-So there's a few options there without a doubt.
And what about the medieval hall house?
I really liked some of the rooms in there.
It was a really nice property, again with bags of character.
I'm not too sure about there being only three beds.
I think we would have to maybe convert the barn in order to give us the extra space we need.
I think the barn conversion would be a lot of work.
I think you're right.
-And it would be fantastic when it's done.
So lots of good things about it.
-I think it was quite quirky.
'Annie and John are looking for a better lifestyle for themselves and their daughters.
'For a top budget of £550,000,
'they've asked us to look at properties with income potential.
'But, as yet, they have no idea what business they'd like to run
'and are now unsure if North Devon is the right place from which to run it.
'So, coming up, we'll sideline the business and put finding the perfect house first.'
Wow, this is beautiful.
John and Annie think they've solved the riddle of today's mystery house.
-I think it's missing something, surely.
-It's missing a floor.
Well, if I'm looking a little bleary-eyed, there's a very, very good reason for it.
It is ludicrously early, but I've come down here to the beach for breakfast,
and the man who's going to cook it for me is over there.
But it is a breakfast with a difference.
'John Wright has been a forager for as long as he can remember.
'From mushrooms in fields, to berries in hedgerows.
'He's a man who can find a meal just about anywhere, and this morning,
'he's scouring the coastline.'
-Oh, hi, Jules.
-Hello, nice to see you.
What a lovely way to start the day.
-It's terrific, innit?
-What is on the menu for breakfast?
Plenty of winkles, if you fancy winkles, but I'm looking at seaweed.
What have we got here? This looks like the sort of stuff we're used to seeing on the beach.
-That's a tiny bit there.
-What have we got there?
That's sea-lettuce. You can see why it's called sea-lettuce.
-Beautiful green colour.
-This is a great one. You wash it,
put it with oil and vinegar, and it's a great addition to a salad.
-Can you eat it raw?
-You can. It might be a touch on the salty side, though.
Oh, my God, yeah. It really is salty.
Well, it would be.
That's lovely. Is there anything out here that's inedible?
Anything dangerous? With mushrooms, you've got to be so careful.
You don't have to worry with seaweeds. None of them are poisonous.
Some of them don't taste very nice, but none are poisonous.
Brilliant. So that's sea-lettuce. What else have we got here, then?
Now, that looks kind of familiar to most of us.
You're probably thinking of kelp. It's not kelp. It's something called dulse -
one of the seaweeds you can cook like a vegetable.
Most of them need some special preparation, but this one doesn't need that.
You can just cook it up - 15 minutes in a steamer.
Tastes a bit like cabbage, but it's a great vegetable.
'But today, John is cooking with carrageenan, also called Irish moss.
'It's generally gathered off the south and west coasts of the UK
'and can easily be foraged as it's found just below the shoreline.
'Because it contains natural gelling agents, it's a perfect thickener
'for soups, stews and puddings, which is exactly what John is going to cook up for me -
'a seaweed panna cotta.'
So that's just in there with some water.
-That'll soften it, presumably.
-It breaks down the cells and this carrageenan flows out.
It's a very sticky, slimy, jelly-like substance.
It's really disgusting, actually.
-And you're going to feed it to me?
-I am. You'll love it!
OK. So how long is that going to take?
-Well, that's going to take about 25 minutes.
So we'll have to sit here quietly and wait.
'Once the seaweed has softened, milk, vanilla and sugar are brought to the boil in a separate pan,
'and then we can squeeze the jelly substance out of the seaweed.'
What do you think? Is it looking good?
'Then whisked with the milk, together with a fresh dollop of double cream.'
Gosh, that really is thick.
Look at that. More machine than man, John.
I'm very impressed.
'The mixture is then poured into ramekins and left to set
'for five to ten minutes in nature's natural refrigerator
'and served with a good helping of sea air.'
-Here we go.
-Thank you. There's a spoon.
Oh, my God.
I have to say, when that stuff came out of the pan, I wasn't convinced.
But that's absolutely delicious.
It is quite extraordinary, really, isn't it? I think it's lovely.
What a great way to start the day.
But now it's back to foraging for properties.
We're going to concentrate much nearer to the coast,
and since Annie and John are unsure what line of business
they want to get into,
I think it's best to focus on homes rather than finding them jobs.
We're starting off in the village of Parracombe.
Situated in Exmoor National Park, and just a 12-minute drive to the seaside,
I'm hoping this location will fulfil both the countryside and coastal brief.
Despite a population of less than 400, it boasts a pub, two churches,
a village hall, a shop, and the all-important primary school.
Our property is on the edge of the village in a very private and secluded setting.
-Isn't it nice?
That's really interesting. It's really different.
In the greenery, tucked away.
-Isn't it? Really hidden away, really quiet spot.
This is interesting. I'll deal with it while we're here, cos it's easier to see it.
That stoned bit is one of the oldest parts of the property,
known in Devon-speak as a shippon.
-It's an old cow shed.
What are you saying?
In the nicest possible way. It's an old cow shed.
It's actually now the dining room.
We'll explore that when we get inside, but a nice bit of local history and colour.
-Right. Let's see if you like inside. Come on.
The cottage is a real mixture of architectural ages.
It's part-17th-century, part-Victorian, and the cow shed?
Well, that's 400 years old.
However, having been extended and renovated in 1996,
there's nothing dated about the interior.
Let's start in here, the kitchen.
-They've done this really nicely. This is great.
-Wow. This is beautiful.
-I like this.
-Very sweet, isn't it?
It's got the table we're after. It's a nice shape and size.
-I think it's a really nice kitchen.
-Well, you say table.
It's a kind of island, really - an extension of the kitchen. This huge lump of slate in the middle of it.
Yeah, really nice.
-So, next, through there is the shippon, the cow shed.
Let's have a look at this.
Nice for the cows, eh?
They've done a great job in here as well.
-I think it's really pleasant.
-Very different. The table...
-The table's fabulous.
-It's kind of made to fit.
Do you think friends and family would get quite excited by dining in here?
-They'd love it.
I think it's really different and interesting.
-OK, we like the kitchen.
-We like the shippon.
-Let's go and find you a living room.
Let's shippon out.
'Off the kitchen is a sizable utility room,
'and back through the hallway is a small study,
'which could be knocked through to the living room to create more space.'
-What do you think?
-Again, it's another really nice room.
-They've laid it out really well.
Like the French doors. Definitely. Great room.
-In terms of reception rooms, this is it.
How does the ground floor feel?
-I think so.
I think it might be a bit small.
-Yeah? I quite like it.
-I don't think it's a bad size for an old cottage.
-Yeah, don't forget the cow shed.
Let's go upstairs.
'Now, it seems we have a divided opinion.
'They both obviously love the style of this cottage,
'but where John is thinking with his heart, Annie is thinking practically.
'So let's see if upstairs can help them decide. There's plenty of space up here.'
So hidden behind the door off the hall are these stairs. Quite steep.
-I don't know how you feel about that.
-They are quite steep for little ones.
Although they do get bigger.
-That's the upside. Have a look. Let's start with the bathroom.
-In you go, John.
-This is a bit different, isn't it?
Yeah, kind of a newer feel.
-Nice and modern.
-Again, they've done it really nicely, I think.
Neutral tones. It's good.
This is the only bathroom up here. But you have got four bedrooms.
-Come and have a look.
'There are two singles so the girls could have a room each,
'leaving an ample double for guests.'
We're thinking this for you two.
What do you think?
-Yeah, that's a nice room as well.
-It's pretty big.
-A really good size.
The one thing is you don't have an en-suite up here.
But, to be honest, the bathroom's so nice and so near, I don't know how big an issue that is for you?
-I don't think it is, actually.
-And the views through there.
-The views are spectacular, the valley.
-You wanted to be in Devon, there it is.
It's a really, really nice room.
'Well, that's the house done and dusted.
'Let's see what they make of the garden.
'There is a good level patch for the girls.
'Newly-built stable blocks, which could easily be converted into office space.
'And this property comes with a 1.5-acre paddock.'
Here's...oh, an acre and a bit, just been topped, as you can see,
just to keep it down.
-But this all comes with it as well.
-Along with the view of that.
The local 11th-century church.
-Is this the sort of thing you'd pictured?
Yes. I think this is more like it. Rolling hills.
-It is beautiful.
I wonder if the price is going to be the best thing you've heard.
Come on, John.
For everything, maybe 490,000?
See, I'm less than that. I'm thinking 465?
I mean, we are touching Exmoor National Park.
That does have a bearing.
But, actually, John is not far away on this one. 495.
I think 495 for the whole package, for everything, the house,
the view, the garden - that's quite fair.
What I'm dying to know is what you're going to do with all this land,
and all these options we've given you.
Lots to think about. Go on then, go and have an explore and figure it out. Make a list.
Well under budget at £495,000,
this period cottage does seem to fit them like a glove.
It has a great country kitchen,
with a cow shed dining room, an area reception room and four bedrooms.
The stables could be converted into substantial office space
for when Annie and John make up their minds job-wise.
The girls get their garden,
and it comes with a 1.5-acre paddock, which could be rented out.
So, could this be the property
that persuades them North Devon is the place to be?
I think this is one of the nicest houses we've looked at so far.
I think the owner's done a great job in renovating it and decorating it.
It's a great room. It's got some good storage.
And they put a nice wooden floor in.
Wood floor's good.
I think the house is in a great location.
Very tranquil. Lots of greenery.
It really is the escape I think we were looking for.
That's a beautiful stream, though, isn't it? That's fantastic.
Nothing like the sound of running water.
Finished the hard work of figuring it all out?
-We've got our list.
-You've got a list? Excellent.
I can't wait to see what's on it.
Good. OK. Right, then. Let's go. More to see.
Out of North Devon's 26 beaches,
four are nationally-renowned surf destinations -
Putsborough, Croyde, Saunton Sands and last but not least,
at three miles long, Woolacombe.
As Annie is keen to take up surfing again, we've sent her and John
to meet local instructor Nick Thorn and see if they can catch some waves.
We're going to get you some wetsuits,
-and then get cracking and get you into the big blue.
-Let's get going.
Surfing arrived in North Devon in the 1960s and has been popular ever since.
The swirls of the Atlantic, particularly in winter, make this an ideal location
for experienced surf dudes, but for beginners,
Woolacombe's gently sloping sandy beach means there's less chance of dangerous currents
and nasty grazes when you come off.
However, before tackling the gnarly waves,
it's best to start with the basics on terra firma.
Keep your back fully straight, look at the beach, foot forward to the knee.
Bring the knee right up. That's it.
Once you've done that, do not let go.
All we're doing here is twist into a standing position.
Bend your knees, silver surfer, twiddle the fingers, head towards the beach.
Adjust the weight between the two. Speed up, lean forwards.
Slow down, lean back.
And keep yourselves going that way round, OK?
-All right. Ready? Psyched?
Come on! Let's get in there. Off you go.
If Annie and John do get a taste for it, there are over 15 surf schools and clubs
along the North Devon coast, most of which hire out equipment,
which is an advantage when you consider a board and wetsuit can cost as much as £500.
But it looks like they could do with a bit more practice, though,
but if they plump for the mystery house, this beach will be right on their doorstep.
Coast is an important thing to you, isn't it?
That's one of the big attractions of this part of the world.
How accessible do you really want to be to it?
It would be nice to be within, say, maybe a 15 or 20 minute drive,
not necessarily on the actual seafront,
but it would be nice to be quite close to the sea.
Yeah, we love the seaside,
particularly with our.... surfing ideas.
I don't think we'll have jobs. We'll just become surf bums.
This could bode well for the mystery house.
It doesn't come with any business opportunities at all,
but it is just a few minutes' drive
or a 15-minute walk from Woolacombe Sands.
This three-mile stretch of blue flag beach definitely takes some beating
and unsurprisingly, the village largely has a seaside theme going on.
But when the tourists disappear, there is a thriving community here,
and it's home to one of the best schools in the county,
which was rated as outstanding by Ofsted.
The mystery house is set in an elevated position,
overlooking the village just a few minutes' walk away.
So if it's being close to the sea Annie and John want, then this house takes the biscuit.
..the mystery house.
It's probably the most...
unusual mystery house that I've shown for a while.
They normally are different, but this isn't what you might normally expect on Escape To The Country.
-I think it's missing something.
-It's missing a floor!
Ah, well, it's not actually missing a floor,
-because what it's hiding is a floor underneath.
So actually it's a bit upside-down.
-All your living space is on this level.
And all the accommodation and bedrooms and stuff is underneath it.
-Because it's built on the slope. That's the clever bit.
So you want to be on holiday for the rest of your lives?
'Built in 1980, this topsy-turvy house
'has been refurbished and extended over the last ten years.
'It has all the space they've asked for, but let's face it, this property
'is about one thing and one thing only, and that's the location.'
Right. Come on in.
Let's start with what this house is all about, which is the view.
That is a great view, isn't it?
-Stunning views, isn't it?
-It's not bad, is it?
Let's have a proper look. Come on. Enjoy the balcony arrangement. Here we are.
That's quite nice as well. Those are the Woolacombe Downs.
And that's never going to change, so the view is going to be unspoilt for forever and a day.
-And if surfing and beach life becomes your thing, then you couldn't really be any closer.
Unless we bought you a boat and put you out to sea.
I thought you were going to say "surfboard", then.
You can't live on a surfboard! Come on.
'Well, they liked the views, but will the rest of the house live up to the vistas?'
So as you can see, fairly slick, all mod cons, everything's in here.
You've got high level ovens, a microwave and so on and so forth.
-I think it's been nicely done.
-It's a nice kitchen.
It's very nicely done, actually, and again, another property that you can just walk into and get on with it.
-It's not as big as I had hoped, but it could work.
-It could work.
It does lead on through here into the dining room.
Not as big as the reception room next door but it still has the views, of course.
You could keep it as a dining area or, again, another reception.
It could be more of a snug or a playroom or whatever.
That's what we're trying to sell you, really, the view.
The views are spectacular. There's no doubt.
'So the views have got the thumbs-up,
'but I get the feeling the house has got some convincing to do.'
So at this end, we've got you a family bathroom.
Have a look in there. Get your heads in.
Jacuzzi bath as well. Have a look, Annie.
It's nice but there isn't a window.
-No natural light.
-That's because we're on a hill.
That's one of the things.
But next door is the master, which does have its own on en-suite.
-Have a look at this.
With yet more glorious views of the Woolacombe Downs,
-and your own little balcony.
In terms of size, how does this compare to what you've got at the moment?
-It's slightly smaller than where we are at the moment.
Have you got an en-suite at home?
-I was trying to give you something else.
There is an en-suite there, too.
That is bigger than our en-suite at home, to be fair.
Well, Annie and John are really making me work hard here.
For many it would be the dream seaside pad - coast and countryside views combined with plenty of space.
On the ground floor are a further three double bedrooms, one of which
is used as a gym-come-TV room, and one a downstairs sitting room that leads on to a conservatory.
Now, through here... Never had an upside-down conservatory, really,
-but this is what you get, because it is all upside-down.
It's a really nice addition to this house.
Again, I could see myself sitting with the Sunday papers,
with feet up, enjoying the view.
-You'll be on the beach, mate, surfing!
'If the house hasn't convinced them, I have a very strong
'suspicion the terrace garden isn't going to do the job either.
'It's very attractive but not the flat-level lawn they had in mind for their daughters, but hey,
'when you're this close to the beach, the girls aren't going to want to spend time in the garden.'
I think for the right people it could be nice.
They've obviously put a lot of time and effort and done a good job of the landscaping,
but our situation doesn't lend itself well to this garden.
-Even the view?
-The views are spectacular.
-The views are spectacular.
-Can we buy the views?
'Sadly, I can't manage that and, of course, views do come at a cost.
'What price will John and Annie put on this seaside pad?'
Let's have you going first, Annie. For the final time.
Well, I've been wrong every other time, so...
I'm going to go 400,000.
I think it might be a bit more than that, so I'm going for 450,000.
-You're both under.
This is currently on the market for 475.
And it will sell very quickly.
Hasn't been on the market very long. It's already had a number of very close offers to that.
I suspect at the end of the day it probably will go for the asking price,
because it is beautifully appointed, as you can see.
The views are everything.
The views are absolutely spectacular.
Well, before we take you away from here, go back up there, indulge those views,
-and I'll catch up with you later.
-Off you go.
Well, the mystery house is always a gamble and on this occasion it looks like it hasn't paid off.
It's certainly a property worth seeing, though, because at £475,000,
this coastal home is not only 75 grand under the top budget,
but also comes in a prime seaside location
and has some of the best views I've seen in a long time.
It's a spacious and well-decorated home with four bedrooms,
two reception rooms, a conservatory and a big kitchen.
The tiered garden isn't ideal for the under-fives,
but the beach is just a short walk away.
However, I think it's fair to say that for Annie and John
location isn't everything.
One of the best attributes of the house is its proximity to Woolacombe Beach and Downs.
It's a beautiful area and the views are tremendous.
Anybody who moved here could have a really nice lifestyle in this house.
The mystery property is certainly different.
I don't think it's what we were expecting. The views are spectacular.
The house, though, is not right for us.
You see the sea. There you go.
Last time to see it up here, though, guys, because I'm now going to take you away from the mystery house
and get you somewhere where we can have a good think about everything we've seen over the last few days,
and see if you've made a decision.
-Lots to think about.
Yes. Are you confused?
-That's a good sign.
That's a really good sign.
Moving to a new part of the country and trying to find a home
and business is an enormous step,
so Annie and John need some time out to weigh up the pros and cons.
I have to say, I have had an awful lot of fun showing John and Annie
around some of the properties here in North Devon, but finally decision time is upon us.
Have we managed to find them their dream home?
What do you think?
Here you are,
ready for our final chat.
-How are you?
-Really good, thank you.
It all started with that very interesting property, I thought, with the annexe.
What did you think of that one, Annie?
I liked that one.
I thought that the revenue potential of the annexe was great.
I loved the stables and the pasture that came with it.
But the main road next to the house was a concern.
It would be a shame to move to Devon and have such a busy road so close to the house.
We took you to an extraordinary place,
that late-medieval hall house,
now beautifully converted into a charming cottage
-with that huge barn attached. What happened there? Annie?
-I think John was scared!
I thought you'd twist his arm and make him buy it!
No, even I could see there was a lot to do with that barn,
but I think, for the right person, that could be great.
Then we let you sleep on it and woke you up for our final day's house hunting,
and we found ourselves in that gorgeous dell with that lovely house
with the cow shed attached, the shippon.
-What did you think of that one, Annie?
-I liked the location.
Beautiful Devon countryside, and that house was very well-presented.
Really immaculate, wasn't it? We could have moved straight in.
That really was one of the nicest properties we've seen from our point of view.
Finally it was time to show you our mystery house.
The views were indisputable -
they were just gorgeous - of the bay.
But the house was smaller than we currently have
and I was really concerned, as you know, about those steps in the garden.
Now, I suppose, comes the point when I ask you what happens next,
but I have a pet theory about you two, which has developed over the last few days.
And that is that I don't think we've found you your dream home
just yet but then I'm not sure we're looking in quite the right area.
And you may well be right.
OK, why am I right?
Well, we've had time to look round North Devon and it is beautiful,
and it offers us the coastline that we want.
We don't know if it offers us the business opportunities that we would like.
I think if it was purely a lifestyle move, and we just wanted countryside
and the beautiful lifestyle, North Devon would be fantastic.
But I've got a feeling that we may need to be nearer a bigger town or city to support
buying the house that we would like in this area.
And generating an income.
Maybe in greater Devon, if you like.
Maybe we should look at North, South and mid-Devon.
So we're going to see you again, aren't we?
-I thought we would. You see?
-We'll be back.
-You'll be back.
You'll be very, very welcome, guys.
In the meantime, I hope you're able to refine your search area and let us know how and where you end up.
Who knows, we may see you again on Escape.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you so much.
When we started our house search here in North Devon with Annie and John,
we were chasing that dream package of self-sufficiency,
working from home and an altogether much quieter pace of life.
On this occasion, we haven't found them their dream package,
but I think we have given them a much-needed plan for the future.
They are going to keep chasing the dream.
It just isn't going to be here.
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With a budget of £550,000, Jules Hudson is helping a couple fulfil their big property ambitions. They are looking for a detached house with four bedrooms, a large country kitchen and a level garden for their girls to play in, which in hilly north Devon, isn't as easy as it sounds. They're also after easy access to good schools and want to be within a 15 minute drive of the coast. To top it all, they'd like the house to come with business potential.