Property series. Alistair Appleton is in Devon with a couple who are looking for a light and airy three-bedroom house with a large kitchen/diner, close to the sea.
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Mathematically speaking, this wonderfully eccentric building behind me is a hexadecagon.
Find out how many sides it has and where I am in just a moment on Escape To The Country.
Today we're helping a couple find their dream coastal home.
-That's something I've always wanted, a balcony.
We'll be tempting them with some choice seaside properties, but will they be united in their vision?
One of my dreams has been to live right on the beach.
Yes, that's right.
-Could it be one of your dreams too?
So, could this be the house search that has me calling out an SOS?
I've been feeling quite stressed with this job, to be honest.
-Picky. They don't know what they want.
-What, this week?
I'm in Devon, just outside the seaside town of Exmouth.
This 16-sided building is called A La Ronde.
It was built at the end of the 18th century by two spinster cousins, Mary and Jane Parmenter,
partly to house all the lovely treasures they brought back from their European grand tour,
but also, by cleverly placing windows 360 degrees, to harvest all this beautiful Devon sunshine.
Situated in south-west England, Devon is one of the UK's most popular tourist destinations.
Over 5.4 million visitors head here each year compared
with 4.5 million to neighbouring Cornwall and 3.5 to Dorset.
And there's plenty to keep it at the top of the popularity stakes.
Nature lovers can lose themselves in the wild landscapes of two national parks, Exmoor and Dartmoor.
For sun worshippers, sea dogs and watersport enthusiasts,
there are 200 miles of spectacular coastline to enjoy. And when you consider nearly every coastal resort
has a harbour or marina, it's understandably a mecca for yachties.
Away from the surf, Devon's green and undulating landscape is peace and tranquillity personified,
with countless chocolate-box villages brimming with thatched cottages.
This county inspired 19th-century philanthropist and poet Sir Harold Bolton to write,
"Old England's counties by the sea from east to west are seven
"But the gem in that fair galaxy, 'tis Devon, glorious Devon."
According to statistics, Devon gets 7½ hours
of sunshine every summer's day, but clearly not on this summer's day!
But that figure might be the reason why property prices here
are 18% above the national average.
Still, there are some real beauties on offer.
Take a look.
If you have £895,000 to spend, you could be galloping off with this equestrian property near Totnes.
With five bedrooms, three reception rooms,
three bathrooms and a swimming pool, you get a lot for your money.
And there's no scrimping on the land either, 29 acres in all.
At the slightly more modest price of 600,000, how about this four-bedroom
former bungalow in the village of Woodside?
The space has been recently remodelled
and refurbished throughout and it now exudes understated elegance.
However, if it's a character property you're after, look no further than
this four-bedroom traditional Devon longhouse on the edge of Dartmoor.
£495,000 will purchase three reception rooms,
a cosy country kitchen and a spacious garden with outdoor pool.
So why not take the plunge?
The clotted cream from the top of Devon's property market there,
but will it be enough to tempt today's buyers? Let's meet the Brockenshaws.
Married for 18 years, keen marathon runners Michael and Shirley are
hoping to make a quick dash from their home in Bristol for a brand new outlook.
We want to move to the country because we want to be nearer the coast.
I have a great love of sailing, but as well as that, I think the slower pace of life is
what we're looking for as we sort of wind down into retirement.
Although Michael and Shirley won't be giving up their jobs
as a freelance engineer and a life coach straight away, they have good reason to take things easy.
Mike had a heart attack a couple of years ago and that made us think seriously about, let's slow down.
So having decided to apply the brakes on their busy lifestyle, have they agreed on a new location?
We'd like to move to South Devon.
We had a look all over Devon and we liked that area.
We didn't want anywhere too remote.
Perhaps a nice community. And that seems to fit the bill.
However, having spent nearly 10 years renovating and decorating
their five-bedroom home, leaving it behind isn't going to be easy.
If you could arrange to pick this house up and actually take it down to Devon,
somewhere near the coast, with the neighbours, we'd be very happy.
Sadly, we can't quite manage that, so what kind of property will make the grade?
-We'd definitely like something that's finished.
Three, four bedrooms preferably.
With a couple of en suites for guests.
And with two grandchildren and another on the way in a few months,
family visitors will be plentiful.
I quite like Victorian houses.
Yes, but at the same time I think neither of us would object to modern.
If it's the right house in the right place, then that's no problem.
No, no, we're very flexible.
Flexible is good.
But finding the dream home usually comes down to details.
This is my favourite room in the house, kitchen diner.
It's a real family room. We all congregate in here.
And I also love the granite.
Absolutely love that. If there's something similar when we move, that would be absolutely superb.
And it's not just the kitchen sink they want to take with them.
The sort of garden that we're looking for when we move is something which, like this one, is low-maintenance.
Because we're not really gardeners at all.
It would be lovely to sit in the garden without all this traffic noise that we've got here.
And the wish list doesn't end there.
I would like a separate room for counselling,
because at the moment people come in here for counselling and it's difficult with all the family.
Basically, I've lived without a garage for more than 10 years now
and it's one thing which always drops off the bottom of a compromise list.
So this time I'm going to have one.
I fancy a conservatory as well. Always wanted one of those.
But that would be a plus.
In preparation to move fast, Mike and Shirley have already put their
house on the market at £465,000, but what's their spend for South Devon?
Our budget for this move is up to £500,000.
Mike and Shirley have given me a pretty open brief about what they want down in Devon.
Clearly they're not really retiring. They're far too active for that.
Apart from three bedrooms, I haven't got a lot to go on.
Still, I'd better get my running shoes on if I'm going to keep up with their needs.
As Michael and Shirley want easy access to the sea,
we'll be casting our property search net across the entire south coast,
from Exmouth and its surrounds
all the way down to the countryside around Dartmouth.
We've lined up some choice coastal homes to view, but as always I won't reveal
the price tags until the end of the tours.
We'll wrap things up with a mystery house,
but will any of our properties have our would-be buyers dropping anchor?
Welcome to Devon.
-Not quite sunny Devon, but we live in hope.
-You've lived here before, right?
-I lived in Exeter for a while, in my twenties.
-A long time ago.
-And you've never left Bristol.
-No, this is a big adventure for me.
-A big adventure. Are you going to be all right?
What's the ground for the big move?
We want a quieter pace of life, really.
We want to be able to develop our hobbies.
But otherwise you've got quite an open brief.
Yes, we're very flexible, aren't we?
Which makes it much more difficult for me. It's much easier if you say exactly what you want.
-Quite right too!
-I like the fact that you're challenging me. Let's go.
For their £500,000, Michael and Shirley are clear,
however, they want a detached, three-bedroom, light and airy house.
Must-haves include a big kitchen-diner.
Shirley needs a separate room or annexe for her counselling sessions,
whilst Michael has his heart set on a garage.
And as neither are green-fingered,
a low-maintenance garden is a priority.
Although the brief is fairly open, we are house-hunting in a very pricey part of the country.
And the closer we get to the coast, the more expensive the properties.
So we could still have a challenge on our hands to meet the criteria.
One of the reasons you're coming down here is to sail, for you, Michael.
Is that really a huge passion of yours, or something that you've...?
Yes, it is. At the moment I've got to basically travel two hours to get any sailing in.
So what I'm really looking for is something where I can just
pop out the front door after breakfast, disappear for the day.
Even if it's only just going and sitting on a boat, you know, it's so relaxing.
Sounds like you're pretty busy yourself, Shirley, so you won't mind him being out.
I won't mind at all, no. It'll be quite relaxing for me too!
Our first destination should be the ideal setting for some nautical R&R,
as we're heading to the popular coastal town of Brixham.
Although even on a dreary day, Brixham looks like your typically
pretty colour-washed south-coast resort, it's actually one of the busiest fishing ports in the UK
with a staggering £80 million of fish traded annually.
So unlike many tourist hot spots, Brixham's streets aren't deserted come low season.
Instead, there's a thriving community all year round and Michael
should be glad to hear that a recent regeneration scheme has afforded the village with a new marina.
Our first property is a couple of minutes out of Brixham.
It's a modernised 1930s bungalow and enjoys an enviable elevated position above the coast.
-This is the one.
So this property has been extended three times. It was extended up,
-and then across, and then the present owners have extended again.
-Very smart, it looks well kept.
-I've already spotted the fact that it looks like a very nice double garage down there.
In many ways it's exactly what you're looking for,
but I'd be interested to get your impressions as we go inside.
I know they've spent years decorating their Bristol home
to quite a contemporary spec and they may want to make a few cosmetic changes here.
However, it's a blank canvas and size-wise should be spot-on.
In we go, into the sitting room.
Yes, clean and bright.
-Lovely big window.
-Everything about this house is really about sitting in it looking out.
-Amazing views down the coast to the sea.
-Looking good so far.
A good start, but I know the kitchen could be a dealbreaker in this property search,
so Shirley's reaction to this one will be a useful yardstick.
-Is it what you're looking for?
-It's a good size. Room for sitting, I like that.
-Nice stove. I don't know how you'd get on with that.
Range. What do you usually cook on?
I burn things whatever I cook on.
Well, you can burn things in style here.
In our house, the kitchen is the hub of the house.
One thing that I'm thinking is that if we had the whole family here, we could find it a little bit cramped.
It's not a kitchen diner in the sense that there's not space to sprawl. It's more a breakfast area.
-So this gets a tick.
Let's look at the rest. Before that, I wanted to show you...
You were worried about family spreading out.
You've got a sort of dining sitting room, an extra one here.
I like this, yes. Very cosy.
Because this could actually be like an office, couldn't it?
There are other options for your office.
This, I suggest, would be your R&R room.
Over here, you've got this sort of dining room.
They've got it as a dining room. You could do what you liked.
And it's all so light,
-that's what I like about it.
-Well, that's what you asked for.
-You ask for it...
-So you get it, yes.
And then, on top of that, two more rooms.
At the end of the corridor is an office which I'm hoping will be
the perfect solution for Shirley to give more counselling sessions.
-Oh, ideal. Perfect.
-You were mentioning an office.
-Yes, I could shut the door and be enclosed.
-Would this be good enough for your counselling?
It's just the right size in fact.
Well, I'm glad this room is up to snuff.
Because, just in case you were feeling left out, Michael, there is another one.
We're spoiling you in this house because there's another big, big room.
Loads of storage by the looks of it, too.
Yes, massive deep cupboards, and a shower room.
This is effectively like a guest wing. You start to see the sea.
-Can you see?
-Yes, I can see the sea.
The hazy blue. That is the sea. Would you keep this as a bedroom?
It depends how many bedrooms are upstairs.
In that case this would make a perfect guest suite, wouldn't it? I think we'd keep it as that.
That way you can have maybe all the kiddies running around upstairs and have the serious guests...
Auntie down here. She'd like that.
Well, that's one relative sorted and there are a couple more
guest bedrooms upstairs which share the family bathroom.
But the piece de resistance of this property is the master bedroom.
Oh, just look at this.
This is magnificent. Oh, this
is jolly good. Fantastic.
-Have you seen that, a balcony?
-Something I've always wanted, a balcony.
-What's nice is you've got a walk-in wardrobe there, so you can put your running clothes in there.
-And a very nice en suite.
-It's done very well.
-And then this wonderful decking area.
For me, this is what makes this whole property.
In terms of sailing clubs for you, you've got Brixham, which you can see there.
Also Kingswear and Dartmouth all very close, about a five-minute drive.
-From up here you can see the extent of your garden, but let's go into it.
Now, I know Shirley and Michael have confessed to being horticulturally challenged, but I don't think
this garden will pose too many problems for them, and I'm sure the grandkids would love it.
The whole plot is about half an acre.
It's different portions of garden. You've got this raised bit here, a little water feature over there.
There's another plot of land just beyond the drive.
And a nice patio area here.
So lots of kind of different bits.
How much time do you spend in the garden?
I think if it was a garden like this, more time.
This is beautifully done. I can just see myself with a garden like this.
Although we're not very good at gardening, something that's already
so lovely as this, we could continue and keep it this way.
Looking around, it seems to be shrubs rather than flowers.
This is the first property we've seen down here.
It is the Riviera, as they call it, so it'll be interesting to see what you think it's worth.
I would value this house at 495.
That's exactly the figure I was going to put on it.
I have to be different, don't I?
-So I'm going to say 490.
Well, there you go. If you'd gone a shade above
you would have been right.
It's on at 499.
Oh, quite close.
So why don't you have a wander around? I know it's difficult with me breathing down your neck to make
any kind of judgments, but have a wander around on your own and then we can press on.
See, I'm not entirely sure they're being honest.
Because I think that's too many "lovely"s and "wonderful"s.
For me, I like a bit of, "Well, I'm not so sure about this."
I need to maybe tease out what they don't like as well as what they do like and then we can proceed nicely.
At just a snip under £500,000, this property is bang on budget, and there's a lot of it.
Three reception rooms, a large galley kitchen,
an office for Shirley's therapy sessions,
a double garage for Michael, four big bedrooms and it's all set in
the low-maintenance half-acre plot.
With three marinas all within a ten-minute drive it should be
the perfect location for skipper Michael, so could they be sailing away with our very first offering?
Oh, look at this, Mike.
My domain, keep out.
When I saw the house I was very impressed. It's clean and tidy.
It's perfect, you could move straight in, just what we wanted.
The only thing I'm a little bit concerned about is not its immediate location
but it's the surrounding, whether we could get to shops without having to drive.
Because that's always something that I enjoy doing Sunday mornings, the walk to get the papers.
-Right, let's go. Have you got all your bits and bobs?
-I have, yes.
You can close the door, Michael.
Keen to explore as much of the coast as they can
before making the all-important decision to buy,
earlier in the week, Michael and Shirley headed for the shores of
the coastal resort of Teignmouth, where local historian Viv Wilson
was on hand to fill them in
on the back story of this still-working harbour town.
-You must be Viv. Pleased to meet you.
Do you want to come and have a look at the harbour?
Situated on the north bank of the mouth of the Teign estuary,
the town got its start as a Medieval fishing port.
By the 17th century, the main industries were Newfoundland cod fishing and smuggling.
But the town's wealth attracted unwanted attention.
One July morning, 4:00 it was, in 1690,
1,000 French sailors invaded Teignmouth.
They rampaged through the town, set fire to the houses,
they went into churches, ripped up the bibles,
they slaughtered the animals, and left the place in flames...
cos all the locals had taken to the hills for safety!
Teignmouth was the very last place in England to suffer a foreign invasion, in fact.
But the town's fortunes were to change 100 years later,
when invaders of a very different kind started
descending in their droves - holidaymakers.
And the arrival of Brunel's South Coast Railway in 1846
sealed the town's reputation as a Victorian vacation hotspot.
I promised you to see the pier.
It was built in 1865 and some of the very early visitors landed at the end.
It was also important for the sea-bathing, cos we had a lot of people come for that.
It was ladies that side, gentlemen this side.
So segregated sea-bathing!
The sea front is still lined with fine examples of Victorian villas and terraces.
But it's lucky they've survived at all -
as an important boat-building harbour for the Royal Navy
in WWII, Teignmouth again received unwanted attention
from across the Channel - this time from the Germans.
So, gunning emplacements were positioned
on hilltops opposite the harbour to protect it.
Teignmouth suffered 22 air raids, you know.
22 air raids, 79 high-explosive bombs dropped on it
and curiously, 79 people were killed.
Poor old Teignmouth had seven bells knocked out of it.
It struggled to get its way back up to the present time
and has rebuilt quite well, in the main.
And as a popular base for yachties,
I'm sure it won't be long before they return.
On with the property shopping.
Our next offering will be a real opportunity for our couple
to live life in the slow lane.
We're heading 6.5 miles inland from the coast to the rural parish
With little more than a church and a couple of pubs, it's definitely peaceful!
Our property is situated a short distance away in the hamlet of Coombe Barton,
which consists of a small group of farm dwellings, including a few
converted barns, which is a big clue as to what we're viewing next.
Certainly different from the last one.
-I thought it was good to show you something different.
-Yes, we're open to suggestions.
It's a barn conversion. How do you feel about that?
As long as it's finished, um...worth considering.
We want an easy life, Alistair.
-Easy life! It is quite rural.
-Yes, maybe bit too much.
But we'll keep an open mind.
We'll have a look inside.
Well, that's not the most enthusiastic of starts!
Let's hope the barn gets a warmer reception inside.
It's an upside-down house, with the living accommodation upstairs -
and that's where we're going to start.
At over 50 feet in length, it's a rather impressive space.
Here we are.
Here we are, indeed.
What do you think of this?
It is, isn't it? You've got to admit it's interesting.
-A certainly wide-open space.
Well, you wanted white and bright
and spacious, so...this is the ultimate, in many ways.
Think of that dusting, up there.
-And the beams.
-Gosh, you really don't like it,
if that's the first thing you can think of.
You don't like all this lovely wide-open space?
Oh, I like open space, but...
What is it you don't like?
You don't have to like everything I show you.
You know houses get a feel...? They have a personality and a feel?
This doesn't do it for me, at all.
Right. So open-plan's not really for you?
Some open plans, yes.
-Not this one!
It's got potential, which covers a multitude, doesn't it?
Ah, the elusive "right feeling".
It's always the trickiest thing to nail.
Well, we've seen most of the kitchen, but now we're in it.
What's your verdict?
It's not doing it for me at all. I think it's these beams.
I feel I want to duck all the time.
One of the things we've deliberately gone away from at home,
-because we had one before, was a farmhouse kitchen.
So, we're off farmhouse kitchens at the moment.
Most people are desperate to have a farmhouse kitchen and you don't!
We're the opposite!
Basically, the result of that is that when I look at something like this,
I'm thinking, how much would this cost to actually replace? We're starting to clock up.
-Let's look at the sitting room.
-That might change your mind!
It looks like we can rule out typically rural properties, then,
if beams and country kitchens are off the table.
It's a refreshing change, but it's a shame, as on paper,
this barn conversion offers them all the space they've asked for and more.
Maybe this room will just do it. Suddenly you'll fall in love.
-Or maybe not!
It's more of the same, really.
But this is the living end of the house.
-Still just see cobwebs, do you?
More beams. More dusting.
Well, we're obviously not cleaning up on this level,
but I'm not throwing in the towel just yet.
There's still the downstairs to check out and you never know,
they could change their minds when they see what's on offer.
As well as three good-size bedrooms, and the family bathroom,
there's a huge added extra.
It's a self-contained flat.
-A home within a home.
-A home within a home.
Three bedrooms, kitchen, dining room -
and I was thinking in light of what you've said about the rest
of the house, that this could be your kind of office wing for counselling.
It could be, yes - it could be very cosy with the log burner.
But I think something this size would actually be too big,
-wouldn't it? For what you want to do.
Just doesn't feel right for us.
I can see lots of people would love it here.
But it probably needs too much to do with it.
I think so, yes.
I guess I was trying to show you something completely different and see what you thought.
It's been very instructive, because I've learnt a lot!
-Often you learn a lot by showing something you don't like.
It'd be boring if you liked everything. But let's step outside and talk about the money.
Shirley is obviously a very instinctive housebuyer
and although by rights, this property should work in terms
of size and space, neither of them are feeling it.
So I doubt the double garage or the ample paddock is going to make a blind bit of difference.
-What do you think this is on the market for?
-I'm going to say...550.
-Gosh! I'll say 450.
-In between the two of you.
-It's on at 495.
But not a 49 you're going to be spending.
Not our 495, unfortunately.
It's a shame Shirley and Michael aren't getting the right vibe
from this barn, cos there's a lot of property for the £495,000.
The floorspace includes a huge open-plan kitchen-cum-diner
and living room, three bedrooms
a self-contained annexe with a further three bedrooms,
a very low-maintenance garden
and a paddock.
Despite having a small village close by,
it's clear the more rural setting of the barn isn't a huge hit, either.
I like the idea of having two sections to this house,
that was great, cos we could always get an income from holiday let.
I could use counselling rooms that were completely separate. Probably be quiet as well.
So I like that aspect.
I think this has brought home to us exactly what we're NOT looking for and what we are.
-Nothing too rural.
And certainly not too much work.
Although we're flexible and open to looking at different things,
and viewing them, this has got too many negatives against it, for us.
What we're looking for is something which is rural outlook,
but on the edge of something so that there is a community around you.
Ah. Did you change your mind?
Well, can't win them all.
Our super sporty couple are always on the lookout for a new activity to take up,
so with the 2012 Olympics fast approaching I thought I'd introduce them to one of the sports
that will no doubt be featuring heavily on our TV screens - beach volleyball.
Clare, Ali and Sylvia belong to the Exmouth Beach Volleyball club.
They're part of a local league, play at least once a week and welcome new members with open arms.
But I'm going to take a break before I do myself a serious injury to find out more
about this Olympic sport from team captain Ali West.
It's got an interesting history. I was surprised how long it's been around.
Yeah, it's been going since 1915.
I think it was first invented by some surfers at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.
-1915! That's in the middle of the First World War.
How did it arise?
I think they wanted to do something when there was no surf,
so they thought, "Let's mess around playing with a ball."
-And then the Californians took over, and then it's become an Olympic sport.
When did it start?
The first showing was in Barcelona.
They didn't play for medals.
But then the first official one was at Atlanta Olympics.
-We've got it coming up in 2012?
-Where are they going to play in England?
London, of all places, Horse Guards Parade.
No way. Shirley and Mike are moving down here.
They're very active retirees.
Is it something that anybody can take part in?
Absolutely. Anyone, any age.
That's the beauty of it. Anyone can come along and just join in.
You don't have to be particularly sporty. Just throw yourself around.
And on that note, I think we'll rejoin the action.
We're not playing beach volleyball rules because, as opposed to indoor volleyball
which is played in teams, beach volleyball is played in pairs.
Our team needs all the help it can get.
Time for a cup of tea.
As the sun sets over the south Devon countryside,
Shirley and Michael get a chance to mull over the properties they've seen today.
What did you think about the extended bungalow we saw?
I thought it was really well presented, I liked the garden. That was great.
What I liked particularly was we could move in tomorrow without any problem at all.
-Plus the fact it had that beautiful double garage, which would win it over for me!
-Maybe it was a bit too far from local communities?
-Yes, I think I'd agree with you there.
What did you think of the barn conversion?
I don't think it's for us, do you?
I don't think so. It's too much work, um...
It needs too much work to bring it up to the sort of thing that we're looking for.
-But it did tell us what we didn't want.
-Yes, it was useful.
So it should help us actually find when we're looking at stuff tomorrow.
-So here's to tomorrow!
Shirley and Michael are in search of a slower pace of life on the south Devon coast.
They liked a 1930s house we viewed,
although I don't think we've really blown their socks off yet.
But could all that be about to change?
-I want to move in!
-But I haven't seen the rest!
Or will it be the mystery house that has keen yachtsman Michael battening down the hatches?
You're not getting interested in this place, are you?
He's been interested since he walked through the door.
Day two, the sun is shining here in Devon and Michael and Shirley's brief, although wide-open,
has proved quite tricky. So today we're going to concentrate on the essentials -
coast, no renovation, good community.
With that in mind, we're kicking off today's search in the charming coastal town of Budleigh Salterton.
This part of east Devon is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the red sandstone cliffs
that bookend the two-and-a-half mile pebble beach mark the very beginning of the world-famous Jurassic coast.
Away from the water, the High Street has wholly resisted the influx of chain stores
and local independent retailers serve the 5,000-strong population.
The heady combination of sea air, old-fashioned charm and handsome period properties makes it
a popular destination, particularly for retirees, who account for more than one-third of total residents.
So Michael and Shirley will be in good company when they do give up their jobs.
The house we're viewing is a half-a-mile walk from the High Street in a truly secluded position.
Before I show you anything else, Michael, I want you to meet your new double garage.
-I've got it into my head now
what is important about this house-buying business.
Clearly it's the garage.
That's a beautiful old-school 1920s garage.
-It's got character.
It's all right, Shirley, you don't have to live in there. There is a house!
Come onto the lawn to see the full glory of this property.
It's a 1920s house. Extended up and out in various parts of its history.
-First impression, it's so peaceful here.
-It looks fantastic.
I want to get inside now.
-You're itching to get in?
Well, you can't go in!
'That's what you call a perfect start to a house tour.
'And I have a feeling Shirley will be equally enchanted by the interior.
'The owners have refurbished the place in the last few years, and it's beautifully decked out.'
Come into the sitting room.
That view as well.
-Isn't that magnificent?
-It's interesting, your eyes went immediately to the view.
-Yes. A pretty room.
-Beautiful original 1920s fireplace.
-Even though it's a big,
light room, it still feels cosy, which is nice.
It's wonderful. Yes.
What do you like about it?
I like the airiness, the view and the window, and it's got a good feel in here.
It feels like home.
'I'd say that's the sound of a box being ticked.
'And just next door is something Shirley has been hankering after for some time.'
-I like this.
-You like this?
-Yes. I've always wanted a conservatory, always.
They put this on about five years ago because they wanted to have space to dine.
So it acts as a sort of dining room.
But what's great about it is that all these windows open and obviously the door out onto the terrace.
-What a wonderful way to sit. Gosh, you wouldn't want to work.
Effectively, it functions as the dining room to the kitchen because it flows straight in here.
-I like this as well. I want to move in!
But I haven't seen the rest.
'That is music to my ears, but Shirley should see all of the house before booking the removal men!'
This is a great little room.
This is pretty too.
-You like balconies.
-You've got to bear in mind this house started off as a bungalow.
So bedrooms are going to be an issue for you.
We have one bedroom downstairs, this is technically another bedroom,
-and upstairs we've just got the master bedroom.
-I see, yes.
So they're using this as a second lounge because it's just the two of them living here,
but you would need to configure whether you'd have this as a bedroom,
or whether you'd keep it as an office, or maybe as a visitors' room.
-You could have one of those sofa beds that comes down so it could be dual purpose.
'It's difficult to know without seeing everything there is here,
'so let's continue with the tour.'
Up the stairs to your one and only but beautifully appointed master bedroom.
It is. Beautifully done.
-There's a little en suite across the landing.
-For us this is ideal.
I notice there's all little nooks and crannies in that which is fantastic.
-Good use of space here.
-So that's everything inside.
Is that going to be enough space for you?
It's so lovely, I think...
We'd find somewhere to fit things in.
-Forget about the seven bedrooms I needed, this is beautiful.
-Yes, very impressed.
There are options outside as well.
'It looks like the wish-list has been torn up and thrown away
'but I seem to remember a separate consulting room being of paramount importance.
'There's good news with this property - Shirley may not have to compromise at all.'
-Lots of nooks and crannies including this.
I thought, Dr Shirley, this would be a good consulting room.
It would. Clients would be relaxed straightaway coming in here.
That's what I'm thinking. Take a seat. See if it works.
-How does it feel?
I've been feeling quite stressed with this job to be honest.
-Tell me your troubles.
-I've had difficult clients, picky, they don't know what they want.
Yes, sometimes they want...
-This would work, wouldn't it? It's a nice space.
-It's the right size and the ambience is good.
-You've got the advantage that they don't have to come through the house as well.
-You can put heaters in here in the wintertime.
-That would be ideal, wouldn't it?
'Thumbs up. But what will they make of the garden?
'At one third of an acre, it's quite sizable.'
It's a beautiful property but it's a particularly beautiful garden.
-I was worried it might be a bit big.
-Not at all.
I like big gardens, if they are already in place.
You're sold on this property. I can see.
"It's a graveyard here." "No, it's fine!"
As far as I'm concerned, I don't mind cutting grass, I find that very relaxing.
-As far as I can see it's all low maintenance.
-Slightly rose-tinted goggles there.
It's a very low-maintenance garden, you'd have to do nothing to keep it as perfect as it is.
What about the price of the property?
I think £499,500.
-So right at the top of your budget?
-I'm thinking it's over the 500 mark, I'm going to say 520.
Well, you're very realistic because it's actually offers around 525.
In the present climate, the buyer is keen, I just think in terms of location
and what it offers in terms of ready-made, move in, beautiful family house, it's hard to beat.
Yes, it is. It's beautiful.
It's not going to be a challenge for you to walk round this one, is it?
-No. Can't wait.
-I'm very impressed, 10 out of 10!
-Pat me on the head.
-10 out of 10! Well done!
My heart's pounding and proud, made Shirley happy, that makes me happy,
and I think this property would make just about anybody happy.
The offers around £525,000 price-tag is down to the hugely-desirable Budleigh Salterton postcode.
The agent has assured me that the vendors are open to negotiation.
It's a spacious chalet bungalow with an open-plan kitchen/conservatory/diner.
Shirley seems happy with the summerhouse as a consultation room.
Michael gets a double garage,
and the landscaped garden is apparently low-maintenance enough!
This property is almost perfect.
I adore that beautiful garden and I really love the house.
Beautiful room, isn't it?
-Very well done.
-I love these insets in here.
It's a beautiful spot, very, very peaceful, lovely house and the sort of thing we are looking for, yes.
You've got us thinking now.
A possibility here, I could see myself making a home here and enjoying it.
You took ages in this one, is that because you like it?
I love it.
Very good. Big smiles, we like that. On we go.
We've already introduced Michael and Shirley to beach volleyball,
but another sport that's big in Devon
and makes the most of the beaches and rolling hills is kite-buggying.
Always up for a new challenge, our sporting duo are meeting
instructor Richard Thompson for a quick lesson.
It's an extreme sport, so safety is paramount.
Helmets are a must and it's important to learn the ropes
with feet on the ground before even attempting to get in a buggy.
-Hands in mine.
-Let me come behind you.
Just feel what I'm doing. It's one hand in, one hand out.
Can you feel the rhythm we're getting?
OK, the kite is yours. OK, well done.
Now, what you were doing was you had it up here and you were using it as a steering wheel.
So it's more like a bicycle. One hand in, other hand in.
-One hand in, other hand in.
I'll try and do better this time! Oooh!
Believe it or not, the origins of kite buggying can be traced back to the 1820s,
when Bristol schoolteacher George Pocock invented the "charvolant,
the kite-drawn carriage he hoped would replace the need for horsepower.
Sadly, his ideas didn't take off - well, not for another 190 years
when thrill-seekers and manufacturers decided to marry foil kites
with three-wheeled buggies for some serious outdoor fun.
Well, let's see if Michael will fare any better.
Pulling on your right. That's it.
Today the British Para-kiting Association has over 4,000 members
and there are 100 tutors nationwide.
From racing to freestyling, where stunts and tricks are performed, competitions are now held annually
at kite festivals throughout the country.
I haven't even taught him! I'm going to go home!
And it looks like Michael's a natural, so it's time to get the buggy.
The kitebuggying current speed record is 72mph,
but I think Michael and Shirley will have to put in some practice before mounting any serious challenge!
With a brief as wide as Michael and Shirley's it's quite difficult to think of a mystery house
as they're open to most things, however, with our mystery house
I really do think we've pulled things into shipshape focus.
-So the mystery house, coming up next, what you think we might be seeing?
-I don't know.
I'm hoping it's going to be something completely different and perhaps something that we haven't thought of.
It probably will be.
It could definitely be that! Any ideas what I might be showing you?
If it's a floating boat, you'll love it and I won't.
'Well, Shirley isn't too far off the mark.
'The mystery house isn't a boat but it does have nautical connections
'and we're heading to Exmouth.
'Now, this typical Georgian and Victorian seaside resort
'is a busy coastal town.
'But escaping the hordes is easy when you have two miles of golden sand on the doorstep.
'And for those who want to get even further away
'it's home to one of south Devon's most popular yachting marinas.
'Here, for many, sailing is a way of life and we don't have to voyage far for the mystery house
'as it's situated right on the water's edge in a prestigious marina development.
'For seafaring Mike it should be the dream, the question is, will Shirley share his sentiment?'
-Here it is, the mystery house.
-Here it is.
-The whole three storeys.
-The whole of it?
-Yes, this is your garage, I almost forgot. So you're happy.
-What are your first impressions?
I'm not sure what else to say.
-It's blue, yes.
-Well, I'm looking and thinking, "No problem with what I see."
I'm in anticipation of what I might see inside.
You wanted something you could move straight into
and one of you wanted something that would be good for your leisure activities,
one of you will be happy.
Hold your breath...
I don't want you to look at the house
because I want you to go straight out here, out to this.
Oh, yes, this is what it's all about.
-This is Mike's scene.
-Now you're talking!
-Look, boats, listen.
-The gulls, the clink clink clink.
-Come on, Mike, spill the beans, what do you think?
-It's lovely, fantastic outlook.
Even the noise of the halyards against the mast is just what sailing's about.
I don't even know what a halyard is.
You'll get to know it after about 10 seconds of living here.
The highlight - what do you think this building is?
-It looks very much like a sailing club to me.
-Yes, Alistair, what have you got for me, then?
-This is slightly slanted towards Mike.
-Yes, it is.
-Although it is beautiful, don't you think?
-Yes, it is. It's very pretty out here.
-You can run all along the Exe.
-I could paint.
-You could paint beautiful paintings.
Yes, well, hey ho, you know.
-Well, enough of this, we'll come back to the view many times but let's look inside the property.
Working on the basis that the two of you have completely fallen in love with the view, Shirley,
let's talk through the inside of the house.
This is the kitchen. Very clearly a galley kitchen.
Very blue again.
Let's talk realistically about this property.
If Mike was on his own, it would be a good bachelor pad, this would suit him down to the ground.
So if ever we part company, you can come back again!
So for you it's absolutely out of the question?
-It's not me at all.
-Not you at all.
-Not even a bit?
-Maybe, it might grow on me as I go around.
-I'll keep my options open.
-It's got a lot going for it.
You wouldn't mind it, would you? This is you, with boats.
It meets a lot of my criteria. I have to say that.
-Your skipper's hat on, you'd be away.
Well, it's got four bedrooms...
-..one of which could be your treatment room.
I'm not sure you're going to be very happy about it.
It's small, functional, simple.
It's on the ground floor, by the front door,
-so I was thinking maybe...
-Quick getaway, maybe.
-Maybe a consultancy room?
Come on, be fair, it would work, wouldn't it?
-Give it a chance!
-Yes, Mike, come on, mate, let's gang up!
'The location is obviously working its magic on Michael
'but I think convincing Shirley could be an uphill struggle.'
Come into the living room.
Nautical themed again, nice and blue.
Sit down. I'm going to sit you here, Shirley, until you fall in love with this view.
-I think it is a lovely view.
-It would improve because twice a day this would be all water...
-..when the tide is in.
I'd never hear the last of it, would I?
You'd be telling me the tide times. You do that now! You'd be even worse when we're here.
-Well, you'd know them.
-Just by immersion, you'd learn them.
I feel we're ganging up on you. I'm going to stop that.
-You're on his side.
-But there is this...endless things to look at.
You don't need a television because you always have someone messing around on a boat or a kite-surfer...
'On this floor is the second bedroom and the bathroom.
'The final two bedrooms occupy the third level, including the master, with en suite.'
And what a view to wake up to.
-I believe you.
-This is what would make you get out of bed in the morning.
Just to get up and look at that view.
I'm thinking, because the river runs north-south, that must be west...
The sun sets over Starcross
so pretty much on all the three floors you'd get bathed in golden light.
You're not getting interested in this place, are you?
He's been interested since he walked through the door!
One of my dreams has been to live right on the beach.
That's right, yes.
-Could it be one of your dreams, too?
-Probably not. The view I like, yes.
Across the landing is another nice bedroom, maybe for the grandchildren.
I thought of the grandchildren because there are two single beds in it.
But this could also maybe be your treatment room. It's a bit higher up.
Yellow. You've got nice views of the marina.
-Soothing. It's proven that it's soothing for counselling people.
-Excellent. It would be ideal.
-The marina would be very useful because that's where you'd keep the cruising boats.
Hang on, you're starting to sound a bit too eager!
I just want to know, where do I sign?
Before you start budgeting for a new cruiser, let's go outside and talk about the price.
Ah, the sound of the halyards, the flapping of the sails,
the cries of the gulls, the lapping of the water...
It's so peaceful.
-Do you love the house?
-I love it, I love it!
It's not hypnotising you?
-Not really, no.
-What about you, Mike? You're in love with it, aren't you?
I think it's a lovely position but at the end of the day,
I have to bow to senior management.
How much do you think it costs?
I'm going to go a little bit higher and say 370.
I'm going to give you a piece of information that might help you make your mind up one way or the other.
-You think so?
-This property is on the market for...£545,000.
That must be one of the few occasions when the price of a house stops an argument rather than starts one.
-A shame, though.
-The picture of relief on your face!
-"Such a shame."
-Such a shame.
Yes, properties by the coast are spectacularly expensive.
-This is probably the last chance you'll get to look at those views
-so why don't you go round, have a look and I'll meet you out the front?
Poor Mike - he looked genuinely heartbroken, whereas Shirley, absolutely gleeful.
Well, it's the mystery house. You really can't guarantee what's going to happen.
With an asking price of £545,000, this marina townhouse is considerably over-budget
but having been on the market for some months, there should be some bargaining room.
You couldn't get much closer to the water.
But it doesn't look like our skipper and cabin girl
will be making it their port of call.
The views are gorgeous, aren't they?
I must admit they are.
You're right there.
I think Mike thought it was Christmas when we came here.
He's talked about something like this in the past.
I've enjoyed it, coming here. It's been great fun. But really, realistically, it's not for me.
The position of the mystery house is absolutely perfect -
On the beach, overlooking the water, boats all around you. I couldn't ask for anything better.
Reluctantly, I have to concede on this one.
-Ah! Mike, did you get one last look?
-One last look.
-It's etched into your memory.
-Shirley will never let you see it again.
-Come on, we'll go and find some place to recuperate.
I was hoping the maritime magic of the mystery house
was going to leave Mike completely besotted with the sea
but that didn't work out and that's probably a good thing in Shirley's case.
So let's find out what they finally think about all the houses I've shown them.
I only thought it was fitting that we finish our adventures here in Devon down by the seaside.
Have you enjoyed it?
Thoroughly enjoyed it. I've had a wonderful time.
If you can cast our mind back to the very first property we showed you, you were quite taken by this.
I liked the entrance. Lovely driveway.
Really neat and well-done and that master bedroom, with the balcony.
That was really good.
And of course, the big thing with it was it was moveable-into tomorrow,
which is one of the things that we've pulled out of this, one of the things we're looking for. So it was good.
It's also taught me a lot about what you don't like.
-When I took you out into the countryside and showed you the barn...
-The barn! Yes.
-I remember it well!
-Tell me about the barn now.
-Too much to do.
Lot of work there.
-We don't want that, do we?
A wonderful project for someone, but not a project for us.
And I also really learnt there how intuitive you are about house-buying.
It really was, "This, no. That, yes."
Because when we took you to see the house in Budleigh Salterton...
I just wanted to stay there. I loved it.
That beautiful conservatory,
which was something we'd been thinking about for a long time,
and to move into something like that would be really great.
It was so jolly relaxing there, too.
We could sit and chill out.
And then the mystery house...
-I know that secretly you really...
-I fell in love with.
That was really one for you, Mike.
Did that bring anything into focus?
Yes, once we found out the price,
it made me realise there that living right on the edge of the sea
does come at a price.
I think the house itself wasn't for us.
Looking overall, because it was a very big, wide brief you gave me,
and I was wondering whether the course of the programme has helped you focus in on what's important,
and was there one of those houses that you'd like to proceed on?
Budleigh Salterton. Although...it hasn't been on the market very long, I understand.
And there's a lot of interest. And we haven't actually finalised the selling of our house yet.
It's been fantastic. I've enjoyed showing you around these properties.
You have a great sense of humour, and I hope you put down anchors here soon,
because the county is crying out for you.
-Thank you, Alistair. We've had a wonderful week, really enjoyed it.
-It's been really great.
-My pleasure, Cap'n.
I do think this show has brought things into nautical, crisp focus.
Too close to the sea is too expensive.
They want something they can move straight into and they would like a balcony.
If you've been inspired to make a move, rural or nautical,
make sure you join us next time for more Escape To The Country.
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Alistair Appleton is in Devon with a couple who are looking for a light and airy three-bedroom house with a large kitchen/diner, an annexe, a garage and a low-maintenance garden. They want to be close to the sea too - but can all this be achieved on their £500,000 budget in pricey Devon?