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Today I'm in a county that is famous for two things.
The first, a very decisive battle fought here in 1645.
The second is shoes. Want to know how the two of them are linked?
Join me in a moment to find out.
In today's show, I'll be helping two city slickers cast off from life by the River Thames
and seek out peace and relaxation in the country.
We'll be seeing houses that make them jump for joy.
Not just space for hanging!
Jumping up and down.
And there's our mystery house, which might call for drastic action.
The furniture we have at the moment
we'll just stick on a bonfire and start again.
Today I'm in Northamptonshire
and this is a monument to the Battle of Naseby,
the definitive battle in the English Civil War.
Not only did Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army win that fight,
they did it wearing shoes and boots made in this very county.
And that is something that Northamptonshire
is still famous for. There were 600 pairs of boots
and 4,000 pairs of shoes marching across this field.
That's a lot of leather.
But leather is not the only thing that this county is famous for.
Northamptonshire has been shaped by its
strategic position in central England
since the time of the Romans, with transport links by road
and river ensuring it became a prosperous trading centre.
The production of leather emerged as one of Northamptonshire's key trades
and, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, it was the tanning capital of the world.
Besides being a hub for industry, Northamptonshire is often dubbed
the county of spires and squires, due to the many stately homes
and churches that rise up from its vast, undulating landscape.
As for properties, there's a great range,
from thatched cottages made from local sand ironstone,
to lavish mansion houses, making it an ideal place to seek out a rural hideaway.
Northamptonshire is great for commuters.
The M1 runs right the way through the county and there's a regular
hour service from Northampton station direct to London Euston.
And those transport links are set to improve.
In 2011, they are upgrading Northampton station and by 2015,
there should be brand-new high-speed trains travelling at 125mph.
And the property prices are pretty attractive round here, too.
The average detached house comes in at 11% less
than the national average.
So let's take a look at what's on offer right now.
For £1.15 million, this seven-bedroom
stone-built house in Gayton
has spectacular character features in spades.
The kitchen-diner has been modernised
with doors leading out to the large garden and a host of outbuildings.
This restored three-bedroom thatched cottage in Spratton,
on at £410,000, has a contemporary feel
but retains its beams and fireplaces.
The kitchen is impressively high spec with granite worktops
and there are doors opening out to the garden.
For £325,000, this attractive three-bedroom cottage
has a cosy inglenook fireplace in the dining hall
and an inviting sitting room with lots of light.
The garden is divided into zones and has the bonus
of a separate stone-built office.
With such delightful properties on the market, I am pretty hopeful
about our house hunt for today's buyers. So let's meet them.
Paul, a tax adviser, and Lorna have lived in their London
end-of-terrace townhouse in Docklands for the last five years
and have loved lapping up urban life on the river.
But after a holiday in New Zealand, they had a major rethink of their priorities
and a move to Northamptonshire is very much on the cards,
which racing car addict, Paul, is very pleased about.
I regularly visit Silverstone, so I know the area well
and I've gradually introduced Lorna to that area.
But it's not just Silverstone that's a driving factor
for their move to Northamptonshire.
Paul needs space for a few cars of his own.
The house is not ideal because I have several cars.
It would be great to get them out of storage and into our own garage.
He also has an urge to have a boy's shed.
They may need more space but don't want to feel isolated.
I think the sort of location we're looking for for our next house
is a village within striking distance of a town,
so we can cycle in, which is what we like doing.
What kind of lifestyle are they hoping for in the country?
The lifestyle we are looking for in the country is probably
a lot more relaxed and quiet than we have had in London.
We are both used to rushing around for work
and our social lives are really busy.
Lorna in particular has very definite ideas
on her likes and dislikes.
The sort of house I don't want to move to is the typical
chocolate-box thatched cottage style, with lots and lots of beams
running across the ceiling, low ceilings, small rooms.
In the new house I'd four bedrooms,
dining room, study, utility room,
outdoor space, garage,
and if we can get all those in one place that would be fantastic.
I'm more flexible than Lorna.
As long as there's room for me to either have an outbuilding
which I can use for the vehicles, or create one myself, that's fine.
Interesting. In a county full of rustic properties,
Lorna's saying "no" to thatch and "yes" to minimal.
I'm used to clean lines, minimalist interiors, contemporary feel,
so I'm hoping that whatever we find
has that modern feel that we've become used to.
This is my study. I run my business from here.
It's really important, when we move, that I have an equivalent room.
One of the main reasons for moving is more outdoor space,
as we only have a balcony with two window boxes. I want to grow my own vegetables.
You can't imagine growing carrots in a window box,
so if we can move and have that vegetable patch, that would be cool.
So that they can buy a new home, they need to know how much they have to spend.
We've asked a local estate agent to value their house.
This property's beautifully presented,
brilliantly positioned for a family home,
so we recommend an initial asking price of £575,000.
With that in mind, what's the budget for the new house?
Our budget for the new house is around £500,000.
Thatches are a no-go zone.
But if there's a garage for the car collection
and enough space in the garden for a vegetable patch, they'll be happy.
As long as we also find them four bedrooms, a study, some reception rooms and a large kitchen.
And they want that elusive mix of old and new.
Some beams but not too many. An old shell with a contemporary interior.
That's becoming something of a trend on this show.
I'm seeing it a lot - but it doesn't make it any easier.
With Paul and Lorna looking for good road links,
our house search will radiate out from the market town of Brackley,
and we might stray over the odd county border.
I'll be showing them a great selection of properties
but I won't reveal the price until they have had a guess first.
The grand finale will be our awe-inspiring mystery house.
Good morning, Paul and Lorna.
Thank you for bringing me here on this fabulous morning.
Great county, Northamptonshire.
Close to Silverstone. Is that the only reason we're here?
Different ideas on this one.
We are in central London at the moment and love it, but with friends and family moving out of London
and located around the country, if we can move somewhere central, it makes life easier.
-So, a lot of thought has gone into this.
Not just about the car racing.
After six months in New Zealand, you have had time to consider this.
New Zealand's pretty stunning. Why back home rather than there?
It's a lovely place to visit, beautiful scenery, wonderful people
-but we don't think we could live there. We would rather go and visit people.
-And the style of property?
Conversions - that's really what you're looking for.
I would love a barn conversion.
Something that's got a period look, character, but inside, modern, contemporary, a little bit funky.
New Zealanders are keen on a bloke shed and it's a wonderful idea.
So, it's a big wish list. How much money?
-We have around £500,000.
-If it was perfect, we would go to 550.
OK, so there's a bit of room if it's the ideal property and you don't have to do anything.
That's good to know because we obviously have fantastic properties.
We should get going.
This is a real, big change for you.
Are you sure you going to be able to make the decision easily together?
When you look at the house, do you think you're going to just know?
I believe, if you walk into a place, it feels right or it feels wrong.
So I'm hoping that sort of gut instinct will kick in, either way.
It certainly happened for us as soon as we walked in at London.
Yeah, the house that we're in at the moment.
-So you're expecting the same magic again.
If a conversion is what they want, a conversion is what they will get.
Our first property is just over four miles from Brackley in the village of Croughton.
For drink and provisions, they could bike a couple of miles down the road to Charlton
with its traditional pub, village shop and post office.
There are some eye-catching properties in the area, including a Methodist chapel dating back to 1904
but converted some 15 years ago. Right, this is it.
I didn't realise you were bringing us to the mystery house first.
It feels like it should be the mystery but given the requirement of a conversion,
this is going to deliver on that.
You're surrounded by neighbours and obviously we are on a road.
How do you feel about the location?
That's my only reservation is the road.
-It's quite busy.
-But I like the front.
The front's amazing. You've got wonderful arched windows
and that feeling of a church but you can see it's been converted.
Well, the unique character appeals to Lorna.
Let's hope they both see the light as we step inside.
In we come.
Through the vestibule.
-You have some useful things through here as well.
you've got a room through there which they're currently using as a gym - quite a good space.
Over here is the downstairs loo and a utility room.
-That's the washing area, so it's away from things.
-Good. I like that sort of thing.
The room I really want you to see - one of the many - is through here.
Through the big, grand entrance hallway into...
This would be perfect.
It's a nice shape as well.
Easy to put things in and move things around. Yeah, I like it.
-Oh! What else?
-She likes it, what else?
A fabulous kitchen. If you like this, you're going to love what I'm going to show you next.
'Can it get any better? I can't wait to see Lorna's reaction.'
What do you think of this?
Like it. Look at the size of this!
I love it already. I just want to be able to sell our house!
This kitchen is exactly what I'd want. Space. Storage.
Everything's been done to the highest specifications, great attention to detail.
-That, for example, is your fridge.
-Sold! Are they leaving it?!
-They're leaving it. All of this stays.
-Stunning. Stunning room.
Two big yeses so far.
We're heading upstairs now. What do I need to show you up there?
-Bedrooms, bathrooms, en suite.
-"Bedrooms, bathrooms, en suite!"
More of the same, please.
This is a kitchen where no expense has been spared and there are more
beautiful design features on the way upstairs.
The light streaming through on this stairway is glorious. Isn't it?
-All thanks to these amazing windows which have obviously stayed from the original chapel.
Double aspect with huge windows, a great feature.
You've got the beams and a fair amount of space.
Bit more than perhaps you were expecting?
Can't see yet.
-How many bedrooms were you looking for, Lorna?
-I wanted four.
I'm quite happy with three.
-He'd go down to three.
-Do you think you could cope with five?
-Five? Up here?
Yes, indeed. There are five bedrooms.
One would make an ideal study for Paul.
And that leaves them three comfortable guest rooms, including a nice sized double
and two stylish singles - one with some lovely old beam details.
But we'll take a look at the family bathroom.
-Here we go.
It's a small space but actually we've got a lot in it and it doesn't feel small. It feels really big.
I like the huge mirror and that, in itself,
is what makes the room look twice the size.
-The skylight, looking out at the sky.
Time to look at that master suite.
And through this way.
Lovely. Another great room. Really good.
So this could work.
I did call it a master suite.
I did, didn't I?
Perhaps that's because behind here, there's a little bit more.
Have a look in there.
Walk-in wardrobe. Go on, walk in to the walk-in wardrobe.
Space for hanging stuff.
And not just space for hanging! Fantastic!
-A proper wet room.
-A proper wet room.
Exactly like at home, which is the room I wanted to take with me
and be able to plonk somewhere else. Brilliant.
I've just gone from being a little disappointed to being really happy.
It's like Narnia!
This is me, just totally.
So, you're saying this is you.
But we're doing a "we", so...
If Lorna's happy, I'm happy. this suits me fine.
So, what else would this house have to give you, or are you happy already?
I'm happy with the interior. I need to see what's going on outside.
I want the same kind of reaction out of you.
I'm working on you, Paul. I want the joy. And I want some jumping.
-I can't believe I did jump, actually.
Let's get outside.
This is an impeccable conversion and I can see Lorna is totally in love with it.
I'm praying the outside space holds the same magic for Paul.
This is the area I am going to come to you a little bit more, Paul, to see what do you think.
-Front of the house,
you could park five vehicles and on this side there was planning permission to build a garage.
There's space there. How do you feel about that?
This is the area where you compromise with this property.
-Yeah, it is.
-But it's a compromise I'm quite happy with.
OK, we've reached the moment! Go on. You're going to tell me how much you think it's worth.
I'm going to say 600.
I would definitely go lower. 545.
-That is very precise.
And I've got to say, the winner is Paul. That's spot-on.
How did you do that?
This property's on the market and has been on for three weeks at £545,000.
Three weeks? That's...
Well, if the... That's great.
It's do-able. Reversing out of there still could be a problem but let's have a look at it.
Let's have another look at the front.
I don't know if you can reverse out of the other side of the house.
Lorna's going to find a way to make this work. Off you go!
Investigate how you'll back out of the front and where the cars will go.
Oh, my word. It's only property number one.
They love it. Paul, a little bit more reserved, but I have feeling that Lorna gets what she wants,
but will she still want it when she's seen our other houses?
At £545,000, this unique chapel conversion is at the top of their budget.
But there's nothing to change.
Are you prepared to compromise on...?
There's only one person making the compromises here.
I'm compromising on the garden! There's no garden.
Initially, I was disappointed because of the traffic noise
but once you come in, you completely forget about it and it's just stunning.
I'm totally attached emotionally to the house.
I've been here half an hour and can't find fault with it.
-I like just playing with the drawers!
-You'd do that all day, wouldn't you?
I'm going to have to be careful because this doesn't compromise anything, particularly, for me.
It will be more of a compromise for Paul and we can't always work on what I want.
I think Lorna's over the moon.
She will put up with any compromises in order to have it.
A-ha! Plenty of space for your cars out here and I reckon we can reverse out no problem.
I'm going to make Paul practise now.
I know you love this one but there's so many more to see.
So let's get moving.
Paul's passion for cars and desire to be near Silverstone fuelled their choice of location.
But they know very little about Northamptonshire.
What better starting point than Towcester,
the county's oldest market town, three miles from the race track?
Towcester is loaded with historic buildings, from its Norman Church,
built on Roman remains, to the 19th-century corn exchange.
But, just outside the town centre, is an architectural first.
Stoke Park was designed by self-taught architect Inigo Jones,
who was inspired by his travels around Italy
and planned it in the Palladian style.
In 1629, it was really ahead of its time.
It was his passion for classical architecture that won Jones many Royal commissions.
The original house was destroyed by fire in the late 19th century.
So today only the east and west wings remain.
Our couple of city slickers will certainly have plenty of local gems
up their sleeve to show to their friends when they come to visit.
Let's hope they continue to be wowed by our line-up of properties.
Our next conversion takes us just seven miles from Brackley
and we're skipping over the Buckinghamshire border
to the small village of Chackmore.
Chockfull of desirable properties, there's a pint on tap at the pub
and lovely walks at Stowe Gardens.
Let's see if this conversion of an old stable block gets the thumbs up.
-Come round here. We've taken you into Buckinghamshire.
Slightly across the border. And this is the barn conversion...
-..that I want to delight you with.
-Paul, what are your first impressions?
It looks quite interesting.
-Well, a barn conversion was right at the top of your wish list.
So let's see what you make of the inside.
On paper, this should suit them down to the ground.
But with Lorna it's all about gut instinct.
Let's see how she reacts inside. Right, through the hallway.
-Nice little boot room area.
-And into the dining space.
Um...it's a little bit dark, is my first reaction.
-A separate dining room, which I like.
-You do like that?
I quite like the idea of a separate dining room.
-A muted response. This way. Look at the kitchen. See what you think of this.
-Now, it's definitely a lot lighter in this room, I think.
-Yes, it is.
Fairly nice size. Lots of storage space. Double oven. Brilliant.
-And you like the granite worktops.
-Yes. I like granite worktops.
Having a separate dining room, I'm wondering why they need a table here as well.
Breakfast. You don't always sit at the dining table, do you?
-So there's scope to move things here.
-Yes. That's personal taste.
And I like the curved corners on the windows.
Little details. Oh, yes. OK. So warming up a bit.
Let's go to the other side, the living room,
-to see what you make of that.
Right, through here, this is your living room.
A very nice-sized space.
-It's got a wood burner for you.
-Oh, yes, I like that.
-It's dual fuel.
-A multi-fuel burner.
-The exposed stonework, does that work for you?
-I like that wall.
-That wall's nice.
-That wall, no, doesn't work.
-It's not really doing it.
-No. It looks too artificial.
Does it feel as if it could be a living room for the two of you?
I don't see us sitting here.
I haven't got that gut feel that I should be here,
whereas in the other property, when I walked in I could see myself there.
I feel as if I'm not winning you over yet.
-Upstairs we've got five bedrooms.
-A bonus on what you were asking for.
-So let's have a look.
-You do get a lot of space and this is a great location.
'Well, you can't predict how someone's going to react. Let's head upstairs.'
Right. Five bedrooms up here.
Three on this side and just here is the family bathroom.
-Poke your heads in and have a look.
-Well, that's quite small!
-Smallest bathroom sink I've ever seen.
-It's normally in a downstairs cloakroom.
-Bijou, yeah. But there is a bath and shower.
-It's a huge bath.
You could have fun in your tiny bathroom! Let's see the bedrooms.
Well, this is one of the larger rooms. It's a child's at the moment.
-You could fit a double bed in but not much else.
It'd be a bed and bedside table probably.
-For guests, do you need much more?
-Perfect guest room.
'Next door, there's study space for Paul and plenty more rooms,
'with a large double room in the eaves and another single room.
'Now we'll go right to the end of the landing to size up where they would sleep.'
-Right, master bedroom back here.
-Bigger than the others.
And, because the family bathroom
was a little bit tinier than you wanted...
have a look in there.
So, you get the stand-up shower. A small en suite.
It's got everything you need.
So, you've seen pretty much all of the house.
I've had a fairly, er...restrained response from you.
It's a family home at the moment. So lots of rooms do work for the current owners
but for you two, there's scope to open some of it up and, as you say, put your stamp on it.
-Make it a little more modern or to your taste.
-Yes. More contemporary.
There's the space here and, in particular,
the reason we want to show you this property is the outside space.
-Oh, right, OK!
-This one's for you, Paul.
So let's go outside and have a look.
'This is a great family home.
It doesn't have the dimensions they expected with a conversion but it does have all the bedrooms
'and, outside, there's plenty of space for Lorna's vegetable patch.
'But I'm particularly hoping it will appeal to Paul.'
So, from up here, you can see your double garage, Paul!
It will be for you for the cars. You've got two there and this space.
-I was thinking enough room to build the bloke shed.
-That's a good idea.
-Yeah, that would work.
-What are you thinking?
I had thought I would do away with the bedroom above
and make the workshop extend upwards.
I like that! Hydraulic things...
So I can jack the cars up and work underneath.
-Three stacked up and you lose a bedroom. You only wanted four!
-Exactly, a small one. Of course, if this is the house for you.
And that partly depends on the price. So, Lorna,
how much do you think this is on the market for?
-Um...I'm going to say 495.
-And I will go 450.
-So quite a big drop.
-It's on the market at £475,000.
-So you're right, it is under budget.
-What do you think of that?
-It's not for me.
-Ooh! Nothing to consider.
It's not a place I've walked into and thought, yes,
this is where we could move to and be settled.
And it's strange cos I can't quite put my finger on it
but we'd have to do quite a lot of work to make it feel like ours.
Well, before we leave, let's look at that garage and dream about where your classic cars could have lived.
-All right. See you later.
Under budget, at £475,000,
and with more bedrooms than they asked for,
this stone-built conversion may not have lived up to their dream
but it has some great selling points.
-So is this OK for you?
-It would work as a garage but that is all it is. It's a double garage.
-I've got a door at the back to access the back garden
and I could put a workshop out there.
So, yes, it would work.
I feel with this house, it's like an ordinary four-bedroom detached house.
In my head, as a barn conversion,
I was perhaps expecting a property where we got nice,
high ceilings, bigger rooms, a bit more of an open plan set-up inside.
Perhaps I've just made that up but once I've got that in my head,
I think I was a little disappointed with how this was in reality.
-Right, time to make a move.
-All right. Onwards, yes.
Northamptonshire has a fascinating shoe-making history.
In the late 1940s, there were around 240 shoe-making factories in the county, of which about 34 remain.
I'm meeting David Dickerson from one of the renowned local companies
to find out how a best-of-British shoe is made.
This is where it all starts. The beginning of the process.
I can smell the leather!
An amazing array.
This is a typical calf leather. It's probably three to four months old.
-This is a by-product, isn't it?
-Yes, a by-product of the meat industry.
Although nowadays modern machinery has kicked in to cut out the leather linings,
traditional skills are still employed in what's known as the clicking room.
So, here, we're actually cutting by hand and this is where the term "clicking room" comes from
because the knife, as it goes round the brass-bound patterns tended to make a clicking noise.
And that's where the term clicking came from.
And it's next door in the closing room where the shoe uppers start to take shape.
Well, it's a hive of activity in here, isn't it?
Here, we're actually doing an operation called under edging.
This is trimming off the surplus lining material and stitching around the top at the same time.
-What style of shoe is this, then?
-This is a classic brogue Oxford.
And why do we only have girls in this room? Seems segregated?
Well, historically, it's always been women in the closing room.
There are stories that machines were brought in, where everything was traditionally hand stitched
When the machines were brought in, they went on strike and women replaced the jobs the men did.
So the men went on strike because of modernisation and women came in to save the day.
That's how the story goes.
So, where do we find the finished product?
-The next department.
-OK, thank you very much.
From start to finish, these shoes go through about 200 different stages
and typically take around seven weeks to make.
It's certainly no quick stitch job!
-What's happening here?
-This is called welt sewing.
-This is the most important part.
-And what exactly is that?
We stitch a leather welt to the rib here and we then stitch the sole
to the welt, so the whole thing is then held together.
Does it make it more waterproof, longer lasting?
It's a flexible process. The main thing is, the shoes can be repaired three or four times,
so they become good value for money.
How much money would a shoe like that cost?
-It's been through many processes.
-Retail, you're talking probably £200.
Some of our customers charge £300 - £400.
So, what does the final shoe look like?
This is pretty well at the end of the process, so...
Look at that. A thing of beauty!
-Isn't it? Just gorgeous.
I have a new appreciation of what has gone into making it.
A home-made British shoe.
100% British, yes.
With the first day of our house hunt at an end,
Lorna and Paul have a chance to reflect on the properties they've seen so far.
-So, how do you think today went?
-I think it's been very informative for both of us
because I think we now have a better idea of what we like and don't like.
-So what did you like about the chapel?
I loved the lounge space. It was great.
We could do all sorts of things with that. Into the kitchen, clever use of space.
Lots of storage and five bedrooms.
To have a wet room which was almost identical to what we've got
and really wanted was brilliant.
The garden area was a bit small but it would suit me.
It's not overlooked. We can sit out there.
We don't have to buy a lawnmower!
There's hardly any gardening to do, which suits me fine.
So what do you think about the barn conversion then?
The kitchen was OK but nothing more than OK.
It was nice to have a separate dinging room. That was different.
There was a lot of money that would have to be spent on that place.
And we still wouldn't be happy with it.
-I don't think they're going to be able to top the chapel.
-I'd be surprised.
-I'd be well impressed.
Paul and Lorna want to escape from London and, with their £550,000 budget,
are on a mission to find their perfect country pad in rural Northamptonshire.
Lorna's already got her heart set on one of the properties we've seen.
But, coming up, our mystery house could well scupper her plans.
-I'm loving it.
-He's loving it! A big chuckle.
-I knew he would!
Don't tell him that. Can you up the numbers a bit?
Yesterday, I think I may have peaked a little too early.
Lorna's reaction to that chapel is probably the best reaction I've had to a first house on this show,
so my challenge today is to try to top that. Wish me luck.
Our house hunt continues 27 miles from Brackley in the village of Cogenhoe.
Paul and Lorna could stride out down the Nene Way into unspoilt countryside.
Alongside the Norman church that overlooks the village green
is yet another conversion, dating back to 1843.
-And this used to be the old school house.
-That's nice. Lovely windows.
-You like, but I'm not feeling love.
-I like the concept.
I think it looks really nice. Looks really pretty.
-But what's inside?
-You always just want to see inside, don't you?
Seen the outside now, let's move on!
Come on, let's see if I can get you jumping up and down.
This is a really impressive house from the outside.
And hopefully, they will give the inside a warm reception.
It's a great door, there, very solid.
Come on in.
So, this house was bought by an old shoemaker who did the renovation back in the '70s.
-He didn't do this.
-Modern for his time! I love the oven. Look at that. Really nice.
-That's very good.
-I quite like it.
-You quite like it? You're surprised, aren't you?
-This is quite nice! Yes, it is.
-I like the flooring, too.
Through there is a utility space and a downstairs loo.
Everything covered and plenty of space to entertain as well.
Let's go and have a look at the living room.
Right, through the glass door, into your living room.
Fantastic windows all around.
-Beautiful. Lovely windowsills.
Over here, this great fireplace. You can still smell it, can't you? You can, actually.
It does feel nice and comfortable. You can imagine being cosy in here.
It has a nice feel to it.
Through there we have another reception room which could easily be a dining room if you wanted it to.
OK. Let's have a look upstairs. Upstairs we've got a few bedrooms.
We've got three in fact.
-We've got three. See if that's enough for you.
At the moment, this property seems like a contender.
Let's see if Lorna can compromise on her demands for upstairs.
Great shutters on the windows up here.
And we follow through into this, which is the master bedroom.
But there is no en suite.
Er, right. That's a bit of a negative.
In as much as if we are looking for a property where we could have more friends and family for a visit,
-the one bathroom situation is not ideal.
If we come up with an option for your guests...?
If there is a workaround.
I feel as if it's been growing on you as we've been walking around.
I felt quite comfortable with it.
In fact, I've probably gone slightly down, knowing there is no en suite, but if there's a solution...
-We're still in with a chance!
Well, Lorna, fear not. There's a surprise to follow later.
Upstairs there are two other bedrooms -
a good-sized double and a nice, cosy single.
There's also a bright, modern family bathroom.
I think they're still on board with this house and my surprise outside should hook them even more.
-A good-sized garden.
-Very nice. Good views.
-You spotted that already!
I'm coming to that! Concentrate on the garden first of all.
-There's no-one going to be building on that piece.
And, over here, Paul, a bloke shed. It looks a bit girly at the moment.
-Looks more like a doll's house.
-It looks really pretty.
You can toughen it up a bit.
Finally, I'm going to put you out of your misery. There is a fourth bedroom.
The staircase leads to...
The guest room. Come on.
The bedroom may be in a quirky place but it's not short on space.
Now, look at this for an extra room.
-Something you weren't expecting.
-No. Granny annexe.
It is, if she can make it up the stairs.
It's got its own lovely en suite there. Got the shower in there.
It's a great room. So, take it all in, let's go back outside. And then guess the price.
All right. Put your thinking hat on.
This house and garden has a bit of everything they have asked for.
But now we need to go and talk money.
This is such a beautiful time of year, isn't it?
The leaves falling, the colours, and that would be your view if you lived here.
-Wonderful village, 10 minutes from Northampton.
-You know where I'm going with this, don't you?
I'm hoping you will keep talking to give me more time.
How much do you think it's on the market for? Paul?
I would say it's 500,000.
I'm going to go higher. I'm going to go 540.
This property could be yours for...
-We were both well out.
-Well out. It's well under your budget.
-Gosh, that changes things.
So, we could afford to put the staircase in and make that annexe a part of the house.
Still don't know where to put the cars.
But you do keep some of your cars in a separate location at the moment, don't you?
Off you go, start thinking about it.
I'll see you later on.
Under budget at £435,000, this old school house is a great property.
But anything we show them now is going to come up against the chapel conversion which they loved.
-This is a good space.
-It's all set up as a study.
Get all your work stuff in here.
I'm very concerned about the lack of parking. The garden is lovely.
Nice little surprise to have a balcony where we can sit out and look out across the fields.
-I think the lack of the shower is a problem here.
-Yes, we need one.
If you look in this cupboard...there's no boiler.
I noticed that.
So you could do away with that and put a decent shower in this end.
I think we could do with having that option.
I quite like this property.
The downstairs space is really good -
nice living room and kitchen.
Upstairs is a bit disappointing. Three bedrooms, two quite small and you'll struggle to fit a double bed.
There is the annexe but, at the moment, it is a bit impractical.
We could integrate it with the house but it is going to take time and money,
so the upstairs lets it down for me.
I think this is where the schoolchildren may have carved their initials into the wall.
Something that Lorna and Paul could be doing... Hello!
If you moved in here, you could put your name...
There's more to see. We haven't finished yet. Come on.
Paul and Lorna already cycle in London
but they're keen to get out and about more on two wheels when they move to Northamptonshire.
Salcey Forest, just seven miles from Northampton, is perfect for getting on your bike.
So they're meeting Linda Johns, a local artist, who's a passionate regular visitor to the forest.
-Hi, Lorna. Hi, Paul.
-Good to meet you.
-I gather you're keen cyclists?
-OK. Let me show you the forest.
Spanning 1,200 acres of ancient oak woodland,
Salcey dates back to Henry VIII's time.
Nowadays, it's a Site of Special Scientific Interest
but there are unexpected sites growing on these trees.
Here we can see we have some books. It's part of a Book Crossing club.
The idea is that people bring their books up here and leave them
for others to pick up and when they've read them, they leave them for someone else.
-It is, yeah. So much goes on in the forest!
They fell in love with the outdoors in New Zealand
and this forest certainly has its high points, with a 1,000ft long treetop walk.
Here we are, right at the top of Salcey Forest and you can see out over the trees.
-Over there you can see Northampton.
Well, freewheeling around this forest would be the perfect antidote to Paul's motorsport mania.
We've just got to nail the right house.
Right, for the mystery house we have decided to show them something old,
packed with period features
and at a different end of the county to that which they were looking for.
But they are going to get a lot more for their money here
and they could end up as lord and lady of the manor.
But what do they think we've got lined up for them?
I have visions of you taking us to a brand new house. Red bricks, square, my absolute hate.
-But it's more likely to have the double garage and outdoor space than older properties
because they were not built with that in mind.
So that's what I think it will be.
How wrong you are, Lorna!
Our mystery property is 38 miles from Brackley,
in the village of Barton Seagrave.
As well as a handy post office, there's a Norman church right on the village green.
And, surprise, it's NOT a conversion.
It's a seventeenth-century manor house.
I know you like contemporary, so we've brought you period.
Grade 2 listed period.
-I think it looks beautiful.
-It looks substantial, solid, old.
-I'm loving it!
-He's loving it. I got a nice, big chuckle.
I'm going to score highly with this house with you, I'm sure.
-Let's have a look inside.
Well, Lorna seems a bit awestruck by the period grandeur
but, dare I say, Paul's revved up and raring to go.
This house is full...
of period features. Amazing hallway.
All of the panelling. Actually, this was put up in the '30s.
It doesn't date back that far.
And this room...
This is what you call a dining room.
A dining room. Wonderful fireplace there.
-Yeah, the stone hearth. Huge fireplace.
-Love the dining table.
-This is very different to the contemporary sharp lines, clean...
Yeah, it's totally removed from that.
-I love it already.
And I'm loving this role reversal.
Giggles and smiles from Paul, and Lorna is considering her opinion.
-Let's work on that.
So, through here you've got a lovely living room.
Another period part of the property.
-Lots of beams.
-Look at that fireplace.
-I could live here quite happily.
You're going to have to convince Lorna this time.
-Some good arguments about this one.
-Not all of it dates back so far.
There are some extensions, some modern touches.
Some slightly more modern touches.
Let's go back to the 20th century.
Circa 1960. Through here.
A bit more space.
-Another sort of seating area.
-I think this would make a nice reading area.
Nice reading area. A bonus.
-Something you haven't even asked for.
-Something you have asked for, though, is a good kitchen. You might like this one.
-Go on, then.
We need Lorna to love this kitchen if we're going to convince her of living the manor house lifestyle.
So fingers crossed.
Now, the kitchen is not the biggest, but I still think it's pretty nice.
It's smaller, from what we've seen of the house so far from the outside,
the house looks huge and the kitchen is disproportionately small.
-But you've got everything you want.
-"Everything I want", I hear you say!
"You've got everything you want!"
-"I love the house, you like the kitchen!"
-Yes, you will like it.
In all seriousness, it's smaller than many kitchens and it's obviously not a kitchen diner
but this house does extend that way as well, you've got two other fairly sizeable rooms down the corridor.
Perhaps you could put a kitchen in there, but this is Grade 2 listed.
There's a lot of space, a lot of options.
-Let's go upstairs and see the bedrooms.
Paul seems at home here but Lorna's still reserving judgement.
She should be happy as there are four bedrooms upstairs.
Let's see if the master can win her over.
You get even more character upstairs, I think.
Partly the furnishings.
They've really found furniture that fits the period.
You've got the big four-poster bed. What would you do with it?
I think this is a room where we could perhaps modernise it to satisfy Lorna's tastes.
The en suite round here, you get a shower, a stand-up shower, and it's quite nice, that room.
-Could become a wet room.
-Paul, you love this house already.
-Safe to say.
But what I really want is to make you jump up and down with joy.
So come and see what I'm going to show you next.
There are another three bedrooms -
a very grand double room,
a single tucked away in the eaves
and a generous single currently used as a dressing room.
There's also a family bathroom with a roll-top bath.
But now let's make Paul a happy boy.
Right, outside, Paul, and I have finally found you
what I think is a bloke shed.
I'm in heaven.
Jumping up and down.
Brilliant! You have got your carport, a garage and an extra room.
Come on, let's have a look.
'Oh, dear. While Paul's jumping up and down, Lorna's gone very quiet.
'This is no ordinary garage. There's an upstairs with endless possibilities.'
Yes, Paul. You don't just get space for the cars,
you get space for the toys as well.
-Yes, I think it would be a music room.
-A music room.
-I like this, you're actually excited about this.
This could be my ladies' outdoor shed. House, parlour.
Bloke shed out the window.
Lorna's moving in. Sorry, I tried.
As long as I've still got downstairs, that's fine.
And that is it. Just the garden to look at and time to talk about how much all this costs.
-Off you go. I'll follow you.
Well, the mystery house has certainly delivered for Paul but it might be a project too far for Lorna
unless the garden and the price can swing it.
Well, the house is big and so is the garden.
Compared to everything else we've shown you, plenty of room for a vegetable patch up here.
Good entertaining area.
And from back here you can have a good look at the manor which could be yours.
It comes at a price. What do you think that is?
-Well, because I'm so in love with it, I'm going to say it's right at the top of our price...
So I would say, all right, I'll go 540.
I'm going to go for 575.
-575? Over budget.
-It's a lot, isn't it?
But you could get your hands on it for £499,000.
Don't tell him that, please! Can't you up the numbers a bit?!
We have to bear in mind there are things we would need to do to it.
With my heart, I would say whatever the price, and just pay it
but we've got to take into account the work that needs doing.
And the furniture we have at the moment...
The furniture we have at the moment, we just stick on a bonfire and start again!
That's the first time anyone's ever said that!
I was looking for a reaction from you, Paul. I wasn't expecting that.
You love it enough to burn all your furniture. Brilliant.
-And start again.
-I think you'll have to convince Lorna of that.
And while you work on that, off you go.
Lot of work to do.
Who expected that?
I did not see that coming.
I wanted Paul to love it, but not that much.
-Here's the space that you wanted.
Garage next door to keep the valuable cars.
I love it.
Oh dear, oh dear!
This house was not at all what I was expecting to see
but the more I walked around it, the more I could see that it would be a wonderful home to live in.
And to come out the back and find this as well was just phenomenal.
My initial reaction about the house when we first arrived was,
it looks pretty, it looks stable, it looks good in its setting.
I still feel this is a really large property where just the two of us
in an average week, we would bumble about it and we would never meet.
Do you reckon they're still talking to each other?
Fixed grin, I think.
Right. Decisions to be made, so let's find somewhere quiet.
Lorna and Paul's journey around our properties is at an end.
I don't think they ever thought they'd find themselves disagreeing on their favourite property.
Just when they think they know exactly what they want,
we show a couple the mystery house and throw everything into turmoil.
The problem here is that Lorna and Paul's country dream seems to be going in two different directions.
Can they get it together? Let's find out.
A-ha! What a nice place to find the two of you.
It's great, isn't it?
In front of an open, roaring fire.
We're talking at the moment.
Let's just reflect and go through all of them, starting with the chapel conversion.
What were you thinking when you arrived?
It was just fantastic.
Kitchen was fantastic. Really high-spec.
For me, the whole house worked.
It was a great compromise between old and new.
They had mixed the two styles together really well and there was nothing I'd want to do to it.
I could do with somewhere to keep my cars and a shed, so that was missing but there was space for it.
Now, we took you to see a barn conversion
and that was something specifically on your wish list.
The initial appearance was lovely.
The sun was shining off the mellow stone. It looked very nice.
It was a nice setting but I was disappointed with that first room.
I think that influenced the rest of my feelings.
Even though it was a good space, these things are important.
It's that gut reaction, instinct, that first feeling as you walk in.
I didn't get it.
I think all the rooms were on the small side -
downstairs as well as upstairs - but especially upstairs.
Sticking with our conversion theme, we took you to a converted schoolhouse.
So, did it tick all the boxes for you?
Why not? It should have done.
Why not? Where am I supposed to put my cars?
There was absolutely nowhere.
-The cars would have had to go.
-That is a step too far!
Definitely a step too far.
Now, at this point in the show, leading up to the mystery house,
I was pretty sure we'd already shown you your dream house, the chapel.
And our mystery, designed to throw a curve ball, might not do the trick.
What a shock I had.
I was hoping you would like it, Paul, but you loved it.
Yeah, I really loved it.
Beautiful setting, little village green, just looked stunning from the outside.
Inside it offered a lot more space than even you were expecting.
Lots of rooms, and of course on the outside, so much room you had your own bloke shed, finally.
Yes! We even had a room above the bloke shed,
which could be a music room or cinema.
Or girls' room!
I even got you to jump up and down for that property.
The problem is we have ended up with two houses.
-Usually I would ask you which one you were interested in but I think it's very clear.
OK, have we progressed this any further,
the discussion between you as to which one you would go for?
We've got to decide which we want.
If we go for the chapel, yes, the location's ideal.
-And so is the property.
The house is ideal but it's got nothing that I want.
I could build it...
Ideal but not anything that you want.
It's ideal, the house, but the grounds have not got what I want
so I'll have to spend a lot of money and time to build what I want
so that I've got somewhere to work.
Whereas the manor house has got it already.
Is this the first challenge like this?
-Do you usually agree on everything?
-We do. It's been quite interesting.
Paul would normally side with me if I've got a preference.
This is the first time I've stuck up for myself.
Probably one of the first times where he's actually said, "We need to fight this one out." So...
-So watch this space.
-Watch this space indeed.
It's been a great journey. I've really enjoyed it.
I can't wait to find out where you end up.
Ah! Whoever said the course of true property hunting would run smoothly?
We started with such a high, then a little low,
then Paul came to life and fell in love with the mystery house.
Now, which one will they go for? The chapel or the mystery? I really don't know.
One thing I do know for sure - whichever one they go for will be ideal for the two of them.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
Paul and Lorna couldn't agree on either house, so for the moment they're happy staying put in London.
So, if you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,
Northern Ireland or England
and need our help, apply online at...
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