Staffordshire Escape to the Country


Staffordshire

Property series. Denise Nurse helps a couple relocate from Kuwait to Staffordshire. They're after a large kitchen-diner and a small, low-maintenance garden.


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Transcript


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Today I'm standing in front of what may look like

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a big bush, but actually it's the largest tree in the UK.

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And which county is home to such a magnificent tree?

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Join me in a moment to find out.

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In today's show we'll be helping a couple currently living in Kuwait

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find a slice of England to call home.

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-This is lovely. You've achieved your wow. Well done.

-Good!

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I'll be showing them a selection of rural gems...

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I'm just starting to get those shivers up my spine

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that normally mean that Jan is about to write a cheque!

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..and then there's our mystery house, a splendid offering where

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they will get more than they bargained for.

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Today I'm in Staffordshire, and this yew tree

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is officially the largest tree in the UK.

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It dates back to the 1400s and it stands here on the Shugborough estate.

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It looks so unusual because its branches have become so heavy

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that they've drooped down and created this huge circumference.

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But I am told that you can still explore right the way through

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to the centre to find the heart of this very, very old tree.

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So, while I navigate my way through to the centre, why don't you explore

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what else there is to see in this wonderful county?

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Staffordshire sits slap bang at the heart of England

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and covers just over 1,000 square miles.

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Our property search focuses on the north of the county.

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Back in the 18th century, it was the availability of

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local coal and clay that made this area ideal for the pottery industry

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that was to become world famous.

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It was to boost this growing trade that in the mid-1770s, Josiah Wedgwood

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became instrumental in helping create the Trent and Mersey Canal.

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Linking up with the rivers Trent, Mersey, Severn and Thames,

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it opened up valuable trade routes with much of the country.

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Farming the Staffordshire moorland was a hard task.

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Many farmers were forced to turn to the pottery trade to supplement their income.

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Today, it's that same wild and rugged land that's attracting

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thousands of visitors keen to explore this varied landscape.

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And the Peak District National Park is an ideal place

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for those seeking outdoor pursuits.

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Staffordshire's close proximity to Birmingham means there's a massive

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variation in house price from one end of the county to the other.

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The areas closer to Birmingham are the most expensive.

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The cheaper areas are closer to Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, further north.

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Now, recently announced plans to build 5,800 new rural homes

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in the south are afoot.

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But estate agents still think this is unlikely to meet the demand

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for large semi-detached properties.

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But if location is no consideration and money is no bond,

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there's still some great houses out there for the taking.

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So have a look at these.

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If you are torn between period and contemporary, then this 1.5 million

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house in Tutbury could be the property of your dreams.

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Dating back to 1850, the huge rooms have been lovingly restored.

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A new extension has created contemporary living space

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tailor made for family living.

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Or if you're looking for a large family home for considerably less,

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then how about this four-bedroom house in Haycroft?

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On the market for £595,000,

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it started life as two separate houses,

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which means there's bundles of space, with four reception rooms

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and a good-sized mature garden.

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Finally, if a barn conversion is up your street, this four-bedroom

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home in Leek is up for grabs for £50 short of 370,000.

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Immaculately decorated throughout, it sits on a three-quarter-of-an-acre plot

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with a sweet seating area to take in the far-reaching views.

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There's plenty to be found roaming around the Staffordshire countryside,

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and speaking of roaming, let's meet today's buyers,

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who've been on the move for over 20 years.

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Today we are giving a guiding hand

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to an RAF Tornado navigator Martin and his wife Janet.

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Martin's career means they're rolling stones

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who clocked up ten homes over the last 22 years.

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They're currently living in a fabulous five-bedroom rented villa in Kuwait.

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Martin and Janet will be returning to the UK in the near future and have decided it's high time

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they press the eject button on their nomadic lifestyle and buy a home

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where they can put down their roots.

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They're over in the UK on a house-hunting holiday

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and are staying with Martin's uncle

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whilst they find their dream home. Unearthing a house to match

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their Kuwait palace could be tricky.

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We moved there a year ago, to Kuwait,

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and I think we did fall in love with the house,

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because it's just so unlike anything we've had before.

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It's massive. Big, sweeping staircase, loads of bedrooms, loads of bathrooms.

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Space, light, everything, fantastic.

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But despite their huge house and the endless sunshine in Kuwait,

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Martin and Janet still find themselves drawn back to the British countryside.

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We want to move to the country primarily for all the things that we don't have in Kuwait.

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We love the countryside so much. We want to be able to walk and buy some dogs.

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Being part of a village community, for me, particularly if Martin does

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end up working away during the week, is going to be paramount.

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Something with a little bit of life but not a town, not a huge town

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or anything that's too busy, perfect.

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We have said that we have one prime criteria for this house,

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and that is that it has to be within walking distance of a pub.

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Not because we like to drink heavily.

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It's because we see the pub as the heart of a community.

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So to that end, we wouldn't want to be right out in the sticks.

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A thriving village, even a small town,

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but somewhere where there's a community, where we can meet people

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and where, if we do have to go away for a while because of work, when we come back

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people will remember us and they will know which is our house.

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So, the location is nailed,

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but what about the interior requirements for their new home?

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The most important room in the house for me is the study.

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It's my sanctuary.

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I have a massive shoe collection.

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Over 200 pairs of shoes.

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I've bought 47 pairs of shoes in the last six months.

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So what I'll be looking for in my bedroom is even bigger space than this.

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That's an incredible number of shoes, even by my standards!

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What sort of house would be befitting for such a collection?

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Either a detached or semi-detached,

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like a barn conversion that would be a bit open-plan inside.

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We're looking for between two and four bedrooms,

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a smallish garden and a big kitchen. There's a lot of things that you can add on to your wish list.

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I'd love to have a larder. An open fire would be wonderful.

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And once they get all settled, Janet can't wait to lead a country lifestyle.

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I'd just like to get some dogs and walk in the country.

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I keep going on about it, that's all I want to do.

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Without a property to sell,

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they are ready to sign on the dotted line right away.

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But before we can start the search,

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we need an idea of how much money there is to play with.

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Our budget for this is 350,000.

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But for the right house,

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we would go up to about 400,000.

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Although not mammoth, with no chain and cash in the bank,

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the budget is attractive to sellers. And their property requirements are pretty simple.

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It's got to have a big kitchen,

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be easy to maintain and have a pub nearby.

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They're even willing to look at semi-detached houses,

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so that should make our job a little bit easier.

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Martin and Janet are looking forward to

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leading an outdoors lifestyle in the UK.

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They're keen to be close to the Peak District National Park.

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Over two days, I'll be taking them on a tour of three tempting houses,

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but will keep the prices a secret until they've finished each viewing.

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Our final stop will be the mystery house,

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which often pushes the boundaries and is always a gamble.

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Hello, Jan.

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-Hi, Martin.

-Hi. Good to meet you.

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-You could have brought some sunshine from Kuwait with you!

-Wish we had!

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We wish we had, yes!

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It's pretty different. You're on holiday, aren't you?

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-Yes, we are.

-Have you done much property hunting?

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We've done bits and pieces. We've done quite a lot of research before we came over here.

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We need to have a home base that we can call home. When everybody says

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"I'm going home," they've got somewhere to go home to,

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which we don't have.

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And then over the next few years we'll spend more time there,

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and when we finally move back, we'll have the home we want.

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We have got some fantastic properties to show you, including the mystery house.

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I suggest we get out of the rain and get property searching.

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-Excellent.

-Come on.

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So, Martin and Janet have up to £400,000 available

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to find a property they can come home to.

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They're looking for two to four bedrooms, a large kitchen and a small garden.

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With no property to sell

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and all ready to go,

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they're in a strong buying position.

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I'm certain you've got quite a network of friends

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and an entertaining circle back in Kuwait.

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We do a lot of stuff back home,

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and actually the one thing that's scaring me a little,

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moving from a city, where we do lots of things, I belong to choir groups

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and this group, and we play games and have social events,

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and we have a good social network.

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Just a little bit scared of moving and having to make new friends in a village.

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I have no doubts or qualms

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that you will make friends very easily!

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To find that house, we're kicking off in Lapley,

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nine miles south-west of Stafford.

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Embedded in glorious Staffordshire countryside, this village

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was awarded best-kept small village in Staffordshire in 2009.

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But despite the pristine surroundings,

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it doesn't have the pub Martin and Janet are seeking.

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Just as well that Wheaton Aston a mile away comes to the rescue,

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with a canal-side watering hole popular with the locals.

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The towpath would offer them lovely walks when they get their puppy.

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In Lapley, we've arranged a viewing

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in a conservation and design award-winning development.

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And the style of home is top of their wish list.

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This is the first property we want to show you. It is a barn conversion,

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which I know is on your wish list.

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-Absolutely.

-Is that the garden? Is that it?

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I knew you'd spot that straightaway!

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-Yes.

-No, that's good.

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-That's a good thing.

-Is that about the right size for you?

-We don't want to garden!

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-Yes, that is the garden.

-That's all we want!

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Yeah, first impressions, very favourable.

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-Doing well, but it is raining, so let's get inside and have a proper look.

-OK.

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This barn conversion in this pretty village has got us off to a good start.

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Right, in we come.

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Into the dry. This, as you can see,

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could be an entrance hallway, but it's a little room, really.

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It's a striking entrance.

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You come in and you walk into here and it gives you... Well, I've already got

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a warm, homely feeling about it.

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It's nice, I like it.

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But I think it works as it is, as a sort of a snug.

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We'll install you here, let's find somewhere for you! Come on.

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So here we are, a much bigger space for your living room,

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and the feature you just can't miss.

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-What a beautiful fireplace.

-Stunning, isn't it?

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It is gorgeous, actually.

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Fireplaces are a big thing for us.

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We like to sit around the fire.

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There's nothing quite like sitting around an open fire.

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So this room's another tick then?

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Not exactly, I wouldn't say.

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-A small tick.

-It's getting there,

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but it's not giving us that sense of space that we are looking for.

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Our main criterion that we need is space,

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and this is lovely, cottage-y, cosy, quintessentially English,

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which is what we're looking for, but it's not giving us that feeling of space.

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But you have been living in Kuwait, where everything is a lot bigger!

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So, you're back in little old England, things are a lot smaller here.

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Yeah, we have made an allowance in our minds for that.

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We knew we weren't going to get the space that we've got now,

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but it's still there in our mind, this space. We know it's possible.

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Let's go and have a look at the kitchen, because I think that's got a nice size and feel to it.

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-Here's your kitchen.

-Oh, that's lovely.

-Lovely, I like that word! What do you think?

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It is, it's just cottage-y, isn't it? It's just lovely.

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I can actually see us in here.

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It's got a lot of work space, which is what Jan likes. It's not huge,

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-but we can exist in here. It's nice.

-As a kitchen, it works perfectly.

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The one thing we're missing with the house so far

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is there's nowhere that we can get our dining table.

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Entertaining is a big part of our life, and it's not something I'm prepared to compromise on,

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not having anywhere for people to sit and dine.

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I did consider... This wall could be maybe taken down, and you'd open

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this up into one big kitchen dining space, with the living room there.

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-That would be gorgeous.

-That's very interesting.

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That would then give us space to put our big table with,

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what has always been Jan's desire,

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to be able to be cooking and still interacting with guests.

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I hate that, I'm in the kitchen and missing everything that's going on.

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Eventually I come in all ragged and hot, carrying food,

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and think, "I've missed three hours of conversation."

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So yeah, actually this is the open-plan space thing that we're desperately wanting,

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so that I can cook and interact and talk with friends,

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not all in different rooms.

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Something to think about, and while they're at it,

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they could incorporate the utility room into the kitchen,

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making the space even larger.

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So, that wraps it up for the downstairs.

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Upstairs, it feels incredibly spacious, and the first stop is the family bathroom.

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Poke your heads in, have a look.

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-Yes, very nice indeed.

-Nice.

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Very tasteful. Yes.

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The vaulted ceilings in this property certainly make the bedrooms feel bigger.

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The first is a single and could always act as a study.

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Then there's two small doubles, and that leaves just one more room.

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What do you think of this as a master bedroom?

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-Lovely.

-More than adequate, yes. Nice. Again, I love the height.

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The height compensates for the lack of floor space, if you will.

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It feels like a very light, airy room.

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We have just noticed a lack of storage space, as well.

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You've got all your shoes to accommodate!

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-Well, goodness me!

-Well, that's one bedroom!

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Yeah, that's like a bedroom, never mind a storage space!

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Martin might have a good point there, and although this room

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isn't as large as they'd hoped, it has an en-suite shower room.

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Finally, we are heading outside, where I have a small surprise in store.

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Right, back outside, and hallelujah,

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I think the rain is easing off now!

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Come on out.

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Now, we're back in our little small bijou garden, but here is your double garage,

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all remote controlled.

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Don't give him that, you know what men are like with their little toys!

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Sold! I don't care about the rest of it!

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Just play with this all the time!

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-It's a really good space, actually.

-Yes, a nice, big garage.

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-And you said this garden is just about what you're looking for?

-Yeah.

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Minimal. We're not in a position to be able to upkeep a garden at the moment,

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and it's just perfect. Lots of pots. I can do pots.

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-It's a courtyard feel to it, hasn't it?

-Yes.

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Come this way, there's just a little bit extra I want to show you.

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-OK.

-I hope it's not a field!

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It's not exactly a field!

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-A little bit more bijou!

-It's really sweet, though.

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I might have to wait a while before I buy that croquet set I've been promising myself!

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It's really, really sweet, actually.

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And this is it. You've now seen the whole property in its entirety.

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Which brings us to the question

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of how much you think you'd have to pay for a house like this.

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-I'd go for about 365.

-OK.

-Yeah...

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Possibly 375, I think. Probably in the middle.

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Martin, you're amazing.

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Having not had a look at a property in this county, you're spot-on!

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That's 1-0, Jan!

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It's started raining again, so I think you should go back inside

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and have another look around, and I'll see you later on.

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Thank you very much.

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Well, there you go. I think we got off to a good start there.

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It's been a while since they looked, but they were spot-on.

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It's a little bit smaller than they might like, but downsizing from a Kuwaiti palace

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is something they're going to have to get used to.

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At £365,000, this barn conversion sits comfortably within their budget,

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and it's in the middle of a village,

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providing the community environment they're looking for.

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The lounge has the fabulous fireplace they're so desperate for.

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There's four bedrooms, including a master en suite.

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And the outdoor space is manageable.

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With this house, there is a but. It meets so many of our criteria.

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It ticks so many of our boxes.

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Unfortunately, there are two things, really.

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One of which, there's not much storage space.

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The open-plan in this reception area, we'd struggle to entertain,

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to get our dining table in.

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Apart from that, it's a cracking house, it really is.

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-Now, that's a cracking fireplace, isn't it?

-I absolutely adore it. Absolutely.

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The only problem I find with the whole house is just this area here.

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It's not big enough for our dining table.

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I love the fact that the rooms are airy

0:17:310:17:34

and the colours are neutral.

0:17:340:17:37

However, it's just a tad small, I think, for what we're looking for.

0:17:370:17:41

We're a couple who like to entertain.

0:17:410:17:43

We're looking for a comfortable home for two, but with room for 30.

0:17:430:17:46

A-ha! There you are.

0:17:460:17:48

You've had a good explore?

0:17:480:17:49

-Thank you very much, yes.

-But we've got a lot more to do,

0:17:490:17:52

-so let's keep exploring.

-OK.

0:17:520:17:54

Martin and Janet enjoy living in Kuwait,

0:17:590:18:01

but are looking forward to returning to England and all things English.

0:18:010:18:05

Lichfield is Staffordshire's premier heritage city,

0:18:050:18:08

so to find out more about the place, they're meeting up with

0:18:080:18:12

tourism office Lynn Norman at the cathedral.

0:18:120:18:14

There have been three cathedrals on this particular site.

0:18:140:18:18

The first one was 700s, then there was the Norman

0:18:180:18:22

cathedral in the 11th century, and then later on there was the Gothic.

0:18:220:18:27

It's the Gothic that we're looking at today.

0:18:270:18:30

This is the only medieval cathedral in the country

0:18:300:18:33

with three spires.

0:18:330:18:35

The cathedral has seen much repair work over the years,

0:18:350:18:39

but it was architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who was

0:18:390:18:42

responsible for the restoration work in the mid-1800s,

0:18:420:18:44

leaving the cathedral as it is today.

0:18:440:18:47

So as we're walking along here, you can see this beautiful

0:18:470:18:51

Sir George Gilbert Scott screen coming into view.

0:18:510:18:54

Across the top are the musicians.

0:18:540:18:58

The design, as I say, was by George Gilbert Scott himself,

0:18:580:19:02

but the ironmongery was all done by a gentleman called Skidmore.

0:19:020:19:06

It's certainly an impressive piece of craftsmanship to be enjoyed.

0:19:060:19:10

Just a stone's throw from the cathedral

0:19:100:19:13

is the museum of Dr Samuel Johnson, a prominent writer who held

0:19:130:19:16

the accolade of producing the first English language dictionary in 1755.

0:19:160:19:20

It took him ten years to write this dictionary.

0:19:200:19:25

He'd anticipated that it was only going to take him three years.

0:19:250:19:29

The strange way that he created this dictionary was to collect

0:19:290:19:33

all the books that he knew of and liked,

0:19:330:19:35

and then emphasised from A to Z.

0:19:350:19:39

And that was then passed on to his workman,

0:19:390:19:42

and that's how they created this great dictionary,

0:19:420:19:45

the forerunner of all the dictionaries we have today.

0:19:450:19:47

To round off the afternoon,

0:19:470:19:49

they're stopping off for a quick refreshment.

0:19:490:19:53

In the 1730's, there was a pub

0:19:530:19:55

for every 40 members of the community.

0:19:550:19:59

The women were very well known for brewing in the area.

0:19:590:20:02

They were given a licence to brew in their backrooms

0:20:020:20:06

and of course, it was from that period where all the names

0:20:060:20:09

associated with the brewing industry came from.

0:20:090:20:12

So we have the lounge, which was part of the house,

0:20:120:20:15

We have the bar,

0:20:150:20:16

which was as far as the customers could go within the house.

0:20:160:20:19

So that's where all of those names came from.

0:20:190:20:22

-So they were barred from going into the house?

-Absolutely, yes.

0:20:220:20:25

I'm sure their new-found knowledge will come in handy

0:20:250:20:28

for many a pub quiz to come.

0:20:280:20:30

For our next house,

0:20:300:20:32

we're navigating our way over the border into Shropshire

0:20:320:20:35

to Childs Ercall, 19 miles from Stafford.

0:20:350:20:38

Surrounded by agricultural land, the village is small,

0:20:380:20:41

yet has a buzzing community.

0:20:410:20:43

The Social Club has got to be the number one spot to meet the locals.

0:20:430:20:46

'If they fancy taking up a new hobby,

0:20:460:20:48

then, there's a bowling club.

0:20:480:20:50

The house we're viewing sits on the edge of the village

0:20:500:20:53

and although it was built just four years ago, it's full of charm.

0:20:530:20:57

-This is the house.

-Wow.

0:20:570:20:59

A-ha! It's lovely.

0:21:010:21:03

That's a very impressive outside.

0:21:030:21:05

Isn't it? Brick and timber.

0:21:050:21:07

-Beautiful structure.

-Yeah, stunning, actually, from the outside.

0:21:070:21:12

Let's go inside.

0:21:120:21:14

-Right, in you come.

-Thank you.

0:21:180:21:20

I think you'll be pleased.

0:21:200:21:22

It looks beautiful. I'm almost speechless.

0:21:220:21:25

It's like a show home.

0:21:250:21:27

Something out of a design magazine.

0:21:270:21:30

It's got that wow factor, certainly, when you walk in.

0:21:300:21:33

-I'm feeling a bit low.

-Are you?

0:21:330:21:35

-Yes.

-OK.

0:21:350:21:36

Just initially, my first thought is I'm feeling, yet again,

0:21:360:21:41

-just a little bit low.

-If you're feeling a bit close in here,

0:21:410:21:45

-let's look at the kitchen, cos that opens out.

-Lovely.

0:21:450:21:47

So, here you go.

0:21:490:21:50

A kitchen which is big enough for you to dine in.

0:21:500:21:52

Yes, definitely.

0:21:520:21:54

And it wraps round the corner, there, into a little snug area.

0:21:540:21:58

Now, this is getting there.

0:22:000:22:02

-Love the dual sinks.

-A lot of work space, as well.

0:22:020:22:05

-It's quality. All the things that we like.

-Great.

0:22:050:22:08

Out there, you've got your utility space

0:22:080:22:11

and there's a downstairs cloakroom and shower.

0:22:110:22:14

So, so far, so good.

0:22:140:22:15

-So far, so good.

-Right, let's have a look at the living room.

0:22:150:22:19

I mean, what do you think of it for room size?

0:22:220:22:25

Without trying, we'd fill this room with furniture.

0:22:250:22:28

It is just on the small side.

0:22:280:22:29

-But so well done.

-Beautiful.

0:22:290:22:32

Yes, I can't fault it at all. It has got a lovely feel.

0:22:320:22:35

I could see it being really, really cosy in the winter.

0:22:350:22:39

We have a very eclectic group of furniture and hangings

0:22:390:22:43

and we've got wall hangings.

0:22:430:22:44

I should imagine after 20-odd years of travelling around the world,

0:22:440:22:48

you've got a lot of memorabilia.

0:22:480:22:50

Turkish rugs and Indian wall hangings

0:22:500:22:52

and big pieces of Dutch furniture.

0:22:520:22:56

Sadly, it doesn't fit in every house and we're struggling with this.

0:22:560:23:00

But this is going to be base camp for a while.

0:23:000:23:03

Exactly. Maybe, we need to change the way we look at things.

0:23:030:23:07

You are downsizing.

0:23:070:23:09

Quite a nice property to do it in, if you get to that point.

0:23:090:23:12

-I think you're searching for a tick and it's not quite coming.

-Well, maybe not.

0:23:120:23:16

I'm going to sell this room.

0:23:160:23:18

Look at these amazing timbers!

0:23:180:23:20

Look at that wood-burning fire! That's a great focal point.

0:23:200:23:24

Come on, you two. You did say you wanted a cosy log fire.

0:23:240:23:28

This house may be just a few years old, but the design,

0:23:280:23:31

incorporating quality oak beams, provides wonderful character.

0:23:310:23:35

Now, up here, I think...

0:23:370:23:38

Well, it certainly opens up, doesn't it?

0:23:380:23:41

-They've made an impressive upstairs hallway.

-This is lovely.

0:23:410:23:45

-You've achieved your wow. Well done.

-Good!

0:23:450:23:48

Fantastic. Glad to hear it.

0:23:480:23:50

Two of the three bedrooms here are singles,

0:23:500:23:53

one of which could be a study for Martin,

0:23:530:23:55

but will they fit their possessions into what would be their room?

0:23:550:23:58

So, here is the master bedroom.

0:23:590:24:02

-Oh, very nice.

-Yeah, delightful.

0:24:020:24:04

I have a feeling, so I'm going to say it for you,

0:24:040:24:07

that you might mention the lack of storage.

0:24:070:24:10

-No wardrobes.

-No wardrobes.

-We can buy wardrobes.

0:24:100:24:13

We can get round it for the right property. It's not a drama.

0:24:130:24:17

But this is a very nice bedroom.

0:24:180:24:20

You looked a bit shocked. Is he not usually this placid and accommodating?

0:24:200:24:24

I'm shocked that you think it's my clothes we'll have trouble with

0:24:240:24:27

and actually, Martin is the proud owner of about 70 shirts.

0:24:270:24:30

70? What do you mean 70 shirts?!

0:24:300:24:32

-Probably more like 50.

-No. No, when... No, more like 70.

0:24:320:24:36

There's a lot of shirts. I don't throw them away. They all get used.

0:24:360:24:40

-50, 70 - what's the difference?

-Exactly.

0:24:400:24:42

I want to take you through to the bathroom, which I think you'll like.

0:24:420:24:45

It looks like an en-suite but, actually, it's a Jack and Jill,

0:24:450:24:48

so it is the family bathroom. Let's look.

0:24:480:24:51

Now, this is a gorgeous bathroom, I think.

0:24:510:24:54

Oh, isn't it? Yes.

0:24:540:24:56

It's really well done.

0:24:560:24:59

It's a wow, it's romantic, it's comfortable.

0:24:590:25:03

It's great. Lovely room.

0:25:030:25:05

There's no doubt this beautiful house

0:25:050:25:07

has been carefully designed

0:25:070:25:09

and I think the outdoor space will be easy to maintain.

0:25:090:25:13

-Out here...

-Oh, this is pretty.

0:25:130:25:15

Absolutely just the perfect size for us, isn't it?

0:25:160:25:20

It is. Just what we want.

0:25:200:25:21

Some mature little things, but just this area for sitting.

0:25:210:25:24

Or you could put your hot tub here, darling.

0:25:240:25:27

Fantastic.

0:25:270:25:29

Space for a hot tub.

0:25:290:25:30

We had to give up our hot tub when we went to Kuwait and we miss it dreadfully.

0:25:300:25:34

Just perfect.

0:25:340:25:36

It's just a manage itself garden.

0:25:360:25:38

-And it attracts so many beautiful butterflies.

-I can see, yes!

0:25:380:25:43

I love this wildlife garden, but the land doesn't end here.

0:25:430:25:46

Round the corner is a good-sized lawn,

0:25:460:25:48

bordered by young shrubs.

0:25:480:25:50

The owners are planning to put up a fence

0:25:500:25:52

to screen out the neighbours beyond.

0:25:520:25:55

Well, it begs the question, now, then -

0:25:550:25:57

how much do you think this property is worth?

0:25:570:26:00

-Oh.

-I don't know.

0:26:000:26:02

I think, just looking at the quality of the building,

0:26:020:26:05

the fact it's been designed, bespoke,

0:26:050:26:08

it's got some really, really nice touches.

0:26:080:26:10

I think this is up towards the top end of our budget.

0:26:100:26:13

I reckon this is about 400,000.

0:26:130:26:16

I'm going to go on 370.

0:26:160:26:19

-370?

-Yeah, yeah, really.

-Interesting.

0:26:190:26:23

So, it's fairly expensive, then,

0:26:230:26:25

for not providing all the space that you need.

0:26:250:26:28

Tell me how you feel about it now, then,

0:26:280:26:31

because this property is on the market at £337,000.

0:26:310:26:35

Wow.

0:26:350:26:36

I'm quite surprised at that. I thought it would be a bit more.

0:26:360:26:39

I am. I was quite comfortable with my 400,000.

0:26:390:26:42

No, I was thinking it wasn't as much as four but certainly,

0:26:420:26:45

not as low as that.

0:26:450:26:47

So, pleasantly surprised.

0:26:470:26:48

-It's certainly a beautiful house.

-It is.

0:26:480:26:50

It won't be too much torture to send you back in

0:26:500:26:53

-to have another look.

-No, we'd love to.

0:26:530:26:55

Just wander round it and take in the attention to detail.

0:26:550:26:59

-I will see you later on.

-Thank you.

0:26:590:27:01

At £337,000, this property is well under their guess-timates.

0:27:010:27:06

And for that price tag, they get an open-plan kitchen/diner,

0:27:060:27:10

the bonus of a utility room,

0:27:100:27:12

three bedrooms, including a master en-suite

0:27:120:27:15

and a garden that, apart from a good mow,

0:27:150:27:17

should be easy to maintain.

0:27:170:27:18

-It's absolutely delightful.

-It is.

0:27:180:27:21

It's a stunning house.

0:27:210:27:22

It's a real shame this room is just too small.

0:27:220:27:25

-You wouldn't get most of our furniture in here.

-No.

0:27:250:27:28

It's not big enough for us two to stamp our character on this house.

0:27:280:27:32

We're big people with big furniture and big ideas.

0:27:320:27:36

Frustration is my overwhelming feeling,

0:27:360:27:38

having looked round this house, now.

0:27:380:27:40

It's so close, it's so lovely, it just doesn't work.

0:27:400:27:43

I think they've probably seen enough of this one.

0:27:430:27:46

-Are you ready?

-Yes, thank you.

-Come on, then. Let's keep moving.

0:27:460:27:49

Staffordshire is home

0:27:580:28:01

to one of the most intact pieces of history in the UK -

0:28:010:28:04

Shugborough Hall.

0:28:040:28:06

It's the only complete, working, historic estate in Britain

0:28:060:28:09

and as Martin and Janet are looking forward

0:28:090:28:12

to immersing themselves in English culture,

0:28:120:28:15

I'm sure it will be top of their wish list of places to visit.

0:28:150:28:18

I couldn't resist a tour and my guide is Judy Chivers.

0:28:180:28:22

Now in the hands of the National Trust,

0:28:220:28:24

the house belonged to the Earls of Lichfield,

0:28:240:28:26

the Anson family for over 300 years and today,

0:28:260:28:29

they retain 36 rooms as a private residence.

0:28:290:28:33

In its heyday, there would have been 30 servants here,

0:28:330:28:36

busily attending to the family's every need.

0:28:360:28:38

Not least at mealtimes.

0:28:380:28:41

Oh, wow, Judy.

0:28:410:28:43

This is a very stately dining room.

0:28:430:28:45

Presumably, this really does show you

0:28:450:28:47

the Upstairs Downstairs sort of mix

0:28:470:28:49

that you would've had because you'd have had the family, here,

0:28:490:28:52

served by how many servants?

0:28:520:28:53

Well, depending on how many people were to have dinner,

0:28:530:28:58

they would have a footman each.

0:28:580:28:59

But this house is unusual. Look at this.

0:28:590:29:01

Ah! So, we've got a bank of mirrors, here.

0:29:010:29:05

Yes, and the footmen would have stood here

0:29:050:29:07

and instead of behind the chairs

0:29:070:29:09

where they could listen to salacious gossip,

0:29:090:29:11

they could ascertain by looking in the mirrors,

0:29:110:29:14

when anybody needed more food or wine.

0:29:140:29:16

The working environments of the mansion have been recreated

0:29:160:29:20

so visitors can step back in time to the 19th century.

0:29:200:29:23

First stop for me is the engine room of all homes.

0:29:230:29:26

A-ha!

0:29:260:29:27

So, here we are in the heart of the home, in the kitchen.

0:29:270:29:30

This is Sarah, the kitchen maid.

0:29:300:29:32

-Hello, Sarah. Nice to meet you.

-Hello, nice to meet you.

0:29:320:29:35

Now, what are you making here?

0:29:350:29:37

I'm making some biscuits for the nursery.

0:29:370:29:39

They're called Tilly's Teatime Treats - the children love them.

0:29:390:29:43

-Ah, and how many children do they have in the nursery?

-13.

-13?

0:29:430:29:46

-Keeps us busy.

-Absolutely.

0:29:460:29:48

I'll let you get back to the baking.

0:29:480:29:51

The living history continues in the laundry,

0:29:510:29:53

where back-breaking work was carried out six days a week

0:29:530:29:56

with simple tools. The estate was almost self-sufficient.

0:29:560:30:00

Grain was ground in the flour mill, and a variety of breads made in the bakery.

0:30:000:30:05

They even had their own brewery.

0:30:050:30:06

The kitchen garden grew a huge range of produce, and even now

0:30:060:30:10

ancient varieties of fruit can still be found here.

0:30:100:30:14

There's so much more history to be soaked up, but for now, it's time to move on.

0:30:140:30:19

As the sun sets over Staffordshire, Martin and Janet return to base

0:30:230:30:26

to reflect on the day's events.

0:30:260:30:28

So, what did you think of that converted forge?

0:30:280:30:31

Actually, I really quite liked it but...

0:30:310:30:34

it just wasn't big enough for what we wanted.

0:30:340:30:37

It was well finished, I thought it was in a nice place.

0:30:370:30:40

Um...and yeah, there were some gorgeous features,

0:30:400:30:43

-and I would kill for that fireplace.

-It felt right, didn't it?

0:30:430:30:47

That suggestion Denise made of knocking the wall down.

0:30:470:30:51

If we had the time to do that...

0:30:510:30:54

-it's pretty close to a solution, isn't it?

-It is. Almost, yeah.

0:30:540:30:58

What about your thoughts about the new build cottage that we looked at?

0:30:580:31:03

From the outside, it looked like there was so much space,

0:31:030:31:06

I got quite excited standing outside it.

0:31:060:31:09

And then we went inside.

0:31:090:31:11

Kitchen was pretty good, but it was just that lounge.

0:31:110:31:16

We put one bit of furniture in there, and that's the room full.

0:31:160:31:19

Our coffee table would take up the whole room.

0:31:190:31:21

-It was great upstairs.

-Beautiful house, well appointed.

-The bathroom?

-Oh, well...

0:31:210:31:26

I've always wanted a bath like that,

0:31:260:31:28

-but you can't buy a house just for a bath.

-No.

0:31:280:31:31

Close but no cigar.

0:31:310:31:33

RAF Tornado navigator Martin and wife Janet are currently based in Kuwait.

0:31:420:31:48

But their latest mission is to snap up a slice of the English countryside they can call their own.

0:31:480:31:53

They have a budget of up to £400,000, and so far have viewed two houses.

0:31:530:31:58

Coming up, we might have found our target.

0:31:580:32:00

-Now we're getting there, yeah.

-Oh, it's beautiful.

0:32:000:32:04

After yesterday, one thing is very clear.

0:32:060:32:08

Jan and Martin are looking for a house for two people

0:32:080:32:11

that can accommodate up to 30 for entertainment!

0:32:110:32:15

And I think that's a tall order on anybody's budget, but especially theirs.

0:32:150:32:18

Today, we do have a couple of options

0:32:180:32:21

and I think they may just do the trick.

0:32:210:32:23

So let's get going!

0:32:230:32:25

So, it's chocks away at full throttle!'

0:32:250:32:28

Our first house this morning is a more unusual proposition,

0:32:280:32:31

and it's in Wychnor, 20 miles from Stafford.

0:32:310:32:33

The property we're viewing sits in a development of 12 dwellings,

0:32:330:32:37

in the grounds of a country club with fabulous facilities.

0:32:370:32:40

The local shops are in Barton-under-Needwood, a five-minute drive away.

0:32:400:32:44

And there's more pubs than Martin and Janet can poke a stick at. Let's see what they think.

0:32:440:32:49

Wow, it's beautiful round here.

0:32:490:32:51

-Lovely area.

-Listen.

0:32:510:32:53

BIRDS CHIRRUP FAINTLY

0:32:530:32:55

-Pretty good, huh?

-The sound of silence!

-Yeah!

0:32:550:32:58

The sound of silence.

0:32:580:32:59

This club has facilities like a golf club,

0:32:590:33:01

swimming pool, tennis court, pub and restaurant.

0:33:010:33:05

When I say on your doorstep, I do pretty much mean literally.

0:33:050:33:10

-Has anybody ever kissed the presenter?

-Not yet!

0:33:100:33:13

When I show you the house, you may well just! So save that thought!

0:33:130:33:16

-Let's have a look.

-Thank you.

0:33:160:33:18

I think this neat, self-contained little community could suit them down to the ground.

0:33:180:33:23

I'm sure you're dying to know which one we want to show you.

0:33:230:33:27

-Absolutely, yes.

-Got an idea?

0:33:270:33:29

-The one right in front of us, I guess.

-No. That one!

0:33:290:33:33

This one in the corner.

0:33:330:33:36

-Lovely.

-It's so cute, actually.

0:33:360:33:39

For your purposes, the fact that you're going to be

0:33:390:33:41

travelling backwards and forwards, having neighbours...

0:33:410:33:44

-Ready-made community, peace and quiet, the ticks are rattling.

-Good.

-Let's get in!

0:33:440:33:49

Let's get in, come on!

0:33:490:33:51

And, if that's not enough, this house also comes with

0:33:510:33:55

a four-acre wood shared with the other properties.

0:33:550:33:57

I can't wait to see their faces when we get inside.

0:33:570:34:00

-Now, this is, I think, what you're looking for.

-Wow.

0:34:010:34:07

Now we're getting there, yes.

0:34:070:34:09

-Oh, it's beautiful.

-It is.

0:34:090:34:12

It opens up, doesn't it?

0:34:120:34:14

You can see all the space of... Instead of just looking there,

0:34:140:34:18

you just look up, you just can't help looking up.

0:34:180:34:21

That's what I wanted to do. Look at that fireplace.

0:34:210:34:24

-It's great, isn't it?

-I just love it, it's gorgeous.

0:34:240:34:27

No, I love it.

0:34:270:34:29

Yes. Wow. Tick.

0:34:290:34:30

Tick, yes. Tick, tick!

0:34:300:34:32

-You like it so much, you've both gone speechless!

-I know.

0:34:320:34:35

It's funny, because it's such a big room, I don't know what to look at.

0:34:350:34:39

I'm trying to find something wrong with it. That's the thing.

0:34:390:34:42

You know me, I'm desperately trying to find something wrong with it.

0:34:420:34:46

Ever since we have arrived here, it's been, "Wow, wow, wow."

0:34:460:34:49

I'm just waiting for the disappointment round the corner when it's not what we want.

0:34:490:34:53

I'm pretty confident there won't be one, but, let's see as we work our way through the rooms.

0:34:530:34:58

I'm just starting to get those shivers up my spine that normally mean Jan is about to write a cheque!

0:34:580:35:03

I get the feeling you're quite impulsive.

0:35:030:35:05

-We've got a mystery house as well.

-I'm very impulsive.

0:35:050:35:09

-But this is a really rocking start to this property.

-Yes.

0:35:090:35:13

It's about to get better. Let's keep going.

0:35:130:35:16

So I'm hoping there's space for your mammoth dining table in here.

0:35:200:35:24

Yes. It would fit in here.

0:35:240:35:26

-Holy smoke!

-It would fit beautifully here.

0:35:260:35:29

As you can see, we're looking straight onto the kitchen.

0:35:290:35:32

This is exactly what I was looking for, yes.

0:35:320:35:36

Even more than that, just to give you the geography of this place,

0:35:360:35:39

-we're in the original dovecote of this property.

-Yes, I saw that outside.

0:35:390:35:43

The hexagonal-shaped roof.

0:35:430:35:45

So, this is where we are now. Off that way you've got a double garage.

0:35:450:35:49

You have one bedroom through there, that could be the guest bedroom.

0:35:490:35:52

and we've even got a little bit of office space.

0:35:520:35:56

-It's got practicality and quirkality.

-Quirkality!

-Is that a word?

0:35:560:36:01

It is now.

0:36:010:36:03

This is the first house I've walked into and thought, "I can feel us here."

0:36:030:36:06

You know when you start placing your own furniture, that's when you know.

0:36:060:36:10

-The practical items will fit, and we will fit.

-Shall we go through to the kitchen?

-Yes.

0:36:100:36:15

-Jan, the kitchen. This is what you've been looking for.

-Yes.

0:36:170:36:21

I think it's definitely that cooker that will do it for you.

0:36:210:36:24

I'm desperately trying to find something I don't like in here, and there's just nothing.

0:36:240:36:29

That cooker is my idea of heaven.

0:36:290:36:31

This has got, from what we've seen of the house so far, it's got the old, the country feel.

0:36:310:36:37

But it's got that contemporary edge that we were talking about. I can see Jan in here.

0:36:370:36:41

I thought he was going to say, "I can see Jan there, chopping vegetables."

0:36:410:36:46

He can see you being happy here, Jan!

0:36:460:36:48

I don't know, you have to work a bit harder to make sure she's happy!

0:36:480:36:52

-"I can see Jan making my tea in there."

-I can!

0:36:520:36:54

He can, he'll be sitting right there!

0:36:540:36:57

I'll have a little sofa here, and I'll read the paper whilst you're cooking tea.

0:36:570:37:01

-Some things haven't changed and gone contemporary!

-Some things haven't modernised, you're right.

0:37:010:37:07

Somebody has to pay for the house, Jan.

0:37:070:37:09

Yes. There is that. I knew he'd come in useful at some point.

0:37:090:37:12

But I think this could be it? Even I could picture you, Jan, right there.

0:37:130:37:18

I certainly can't find anything about this whole place I don't like.

0:37:180:37:21

We'll keep exploring. I'm pretty positive you won't find, but let's keep looking.

0:37:210:37:26

This house just keeps on delivering.

0:37:330:37:36

-Here we are, upstairs in the dovecote.

-This is beautiful.

0:37:360:37:39

In your master bedroom, and look up.

0:37:390:37:42

-I can't even see all the way up!

-THEY LAUGH

0:37:420:37:45

-Deary me, you're right.

-I could lie in bed all day and just look at that ceiling.

0:37:470:37:52

It does deliver in spades, doesn't it?

0:37:520:37:54

You've got plenty of space, you could put a huge bed in here.

0:37:540:37:57

And...built-in storage!

0:37:570:37:59

Plenty of space.

0:37:590:38:01

-Shoe wardrobes!

-Shoes, clothes...

0:38:010:38:05

This is another room where, as Jan was in the kitchen downstairs,

0:38:050:38:09

you can't actually find anything wrong with it.

0:38:090:38:12

It's a blank canvas, almost, in terms of you being able to put your own belongings in.

0:38:120:38:16

-And they would fit.

-Perfectly.

0:38:160:38:18

The great thing is that the family bathroom is just over there.

0:38:180:38:22

I say family bathroom, there's only one bedroom up here so it's your en suite. Let's have a look.

0:38:220:38:29

-And...the bathroom.

-Wow.

0:38:320:38:35

I don't even think you could complain about this.

0:38:350:38:38

-No. Not at all.

-Love it.

0:38:380:38:39

Huge bath, and just look round the corner.

0:38:390:38:42

Ah-h-h! No running up and down the stairs to the shower.

0:38:430:38:46

-Absolutely not.

-It just keeps delivering, this house, doesn't it?

0:38:460:38:50

-It does.

-I could literally move in.

0:38:500:38:53

And actually might.

0:38:530:38:55

I just love it. Love it.

0:38:550:38:57

-Of course, for that to happen, we need to get the right price for you, don't we?

-We do.

0:38:570:39:01

Which is what we haven't talked about yet!

0:39:010:39:03

-It's the worrying part.

-So, let's go out to the garden, have a look at that,

0:39:030:39:07

and then talk about how much it will cost. OK? Come on.

0:39:070:39:10

Did you notice that? WILL cost. Did you notice that?

0:39:100:39:14

Finally, the garden.

0:39:220:39:24

This is perfect.

0:39:240:39:26

Not too much lawn.

0:39:260:39:29

-Just perfect, low maintenance.

-Another great entertaining space.

-Small place to sit outside.

0:39:290:39:34

-Room for a hot tub.

-How much do you think you'd have to pay for it?

0:39:340:39:37

What it's on the market for?

0:39:370:39:39

-380.

-All the fixtures and fittings and the actual reception area,

0:39:390:39:43

I think if it were three bedrooms we'd be looking at another 30.

0:39:430:39:48

I think it's 399.

0:39:480:39:50

If it's over our budget, I'll be very disappointed.

0:39:500:39:53

-Because it's made such an impact on us.

-Are you ready to get your chequebook out?

0:39:530:39:58

This property, I can't believe how accurate you are, given that you've been in Kuwait

0:39:590:40:03

and out of the property scene completely! It's on at £399,950.

0:40:030:40:08

It was on at £440,000 for a while, it's been dropped recently, so that's pretty much the price.

0:40:090:40:15

That's it. It's within budget. I know you've got a lot to think about now.

0:40:150:40:18

No, there isn't a lot to think about.

0:40:180:40:20

Well, we've got the mystery house to see.

0:40:200:40:22

Oh, sorry, there is one other thing. This has got to be a first for telly.

0:40:220:40:26

Ooh, I'm going to blush!

0:40:280:40:30

But if you buy this house, then I'm very, very happy.

0:40:300:40:34

And on that note, in you go, before it gets any more risque!

0:40:340:40:38

You're such a tart!

0:40:380:40:40

That's definitely a first for telly. I got a kiss because we may have just found their perfect house.

0:40:400:40:45

But we've still got the mystery house to come and that could just put a spanner in the works.

0:40:450:40:50

It's crystal clear

0:40:500:40:52

that Martin and Janet love this immaculate property,

0:40:520:40:55

on the market for £50 short of £400,000.

0:40:550:40:58

It offers spacious and light accommodation, with a large lounge,

0:40:580:41:02

fabulous kitchen, two bedrooms

0:41:020:41:04

and a study for Martin.

0:41:040:41:06

This is what we've been chuntering about, isn't it? Light, airy...

0:41:060:41:10

Can you just imagine us cuddled up in front of this fire?

0:41:100:41:13

Stunning. I used that word a couple of times

0:41:130:41:15

with the other houses,

0:41:150:41:17

but this time, it just ticks all our boxes.

0:41:170:41:21

The list of criteria that we have mentioned, it wipes the first half-dozen off

0:41:210:41:26

without even batting an eyelid and then just keeps going.

0:41:260:41:29

The location, I think, is absolutely perfect. It's so beautiful.

0:41:290:41:33

Coming up the country lanes, where the fields have just been harvested...

0:41:330:41:37

The car park to the country club appears to me to be further enough away that you won't hear

0:41:370:41:43

the clanking of car doors constantly. As far as I'm concerned

0:41:430:41:47

it's an added bonus, because that's the facilities that we're going to make full use of and utilise,

0:41:470:41:52

from the sports facilities to the bar. Everything's there.

0:41:520:41:55

It's got a sense of homeliness, it's got style, it's got a bit of contemporary.

0:41:550:42:01

It's light, it's airy, there's space, there's room for our things.

0:42:010:42:05

I can see us living here, I really can.

0:42:050:42:08

-Hello, you two.

-Hi.

0:42:100:42:11

I hate to drag you away from this near-perfect property, but our journey is not over quite yet.

0:42:110:42:17

Let's keep going.

0:42:170:42:19

Staffordshire is widely regarded as one of the finest producers of china in the world,

0:42:220:42:26

thanks to the efforts of famous producers such as Josiah Spode and Josiah Wedgwood.

0:42:260:42:31

As a early as 1785, the operations in Stoke-on-Trent

0:42:310:42:36

employed 20,000 workers, giving the area the name the Potteries.

0:42:360:42:41

Martin and Janet are meeting up with Janice Beech for a tour of the Gladstone Pottery Museum.

0:42:410:42:45

It's the last standing Victorian factory.

0:42:450:42:49

There were about 2,000 bottle ovens in Stoke in their heyday, in the Victorian times.

0:42:490:42:54

All firing away, 24/7.

0:42:540:42:55

The men that worked in the ovens, of course, they spent

0:42:550:42:59

up to four, five days in here, never going home, working, and loved it.

0:42:590:43:05

And if you read the histories, they're all proud of their job and thought it was wonderful.

0:43:050:43:10

The huge bottle ovens were the workhorses of the process and could hold up to 2,000 containers,

0:43:100:43:16

known as saggers, which were used to protect and hold the china pieces when being fired.

0:43:160:43:21

How hot did it get in here when they were firing?

0:43:210:43:23

It would've been about 1,250 degrees.

0:43:230:43:26

Which took quite a few days to get to temperature.

0:43:260:43:30

And just sheer skill, really, cos no thermometers.

0:43:300:43:35

Timing and temperature were critical,

0:43:350:43:37

but after seven days of firing and then cooling,

0:43:370:43:40

the saggers were removed and the pieces were ready for decoration,

0:43:400:43:43

And Janice is keen for Janet to put her creative talents to the test.

0:43:430:43:48

During the 1700s, massive quantities of beautifully decorated white porcelain

0:43:480:43:53

were imported from China. It was cheap,

0:43:530:43:55

and an ideal accompaniment for the tea chests the vessels were carrying.

0:43:550:43:59

And it also acted as a ballast for the ships.

0:43:590:44:01

The colour and clarity of the porcelain soon gained popularity,

0:44:010:44:05

and the English potters became envious of the material.

0:44:050:44:08

The local potters, Spode and Wedgwood, tried desperately to copy it.

0:44:080:44:12

Eventually Spode, who was born in Burslem, so was Josiah Wedgwood,

0:44:120:44:16

actually eventually discovered by putting bone into the pottery

0:44:160:44:21

that he could achieve this lovely white translucency.

0:44:210:44:24

I think that's absolutely fantastic, actually.

0:44:240:44:27

Can you give me a job?

0:44:270:44:28

I think so! I've been trying to recruit people. I think you should apply for a job.

0:44:280:44:34

-Wonderful. Did you know you were artistic?

-I do now!

-Yes!

0:44:340:44:39

For our mystery property, we've decided to deliver some of what our couple are looking for.

0:44:450:44:50

It's certainly got community spirit and there's plenty of space to entertain, but I'm pretty certain

0:44:500:44:56

it's something so grand even they wouldn't have considered it.

0:44:560:45:00

Today's mystery house is an unusual offering,

0:45:000:45:03

and it's just outside Biddulph, 10 miles from Stoke-on-Trent.

0:45:030:45:06

The busy high street of Congleton

0:45:060:45:08

is just three miles away and caters for most needs.

0:45:080:45:11

And, of course, there's the all-important pub for socialising.

0:45:110:45:15

Our mystery property is one of just nine apartments

0:45:150:45:17

that form part of Biddulph Grange, a handsome Grade 2 listed house.

0:45:170:45:21

It sits within 73 acres of woodland and meadows,

0:45:210:45:26

which would be perfect walking territory for Martin and Janet.

0:45:260:45:29

Gosh, you've done it again, haven't you?

0:45:290:45:32

Surpassed myself. This is how far your budget could stretch!

0:45:320:45:36

Sort of.

0:45:360:45:39

-Maybe a small part of it.

-You're on the right track, yes.

0:45:390:45:42

This is an old Victorian manor house. It's so grand, isn't it?

0:45:420:45:45

Beautiful, absolutely stunning.

0:45:450:45:47

It's been divided up into nine apartments.

0:45:470:45:49

-Nine?!

-Yes.

-That surprises me, I thought it would be more.

-Yeah? So a lot to look forward to there.

0:45:490:45:54

-Can't wait.

-I hardly dare think about what might be inside.

0:45:540:45:58

Again, you could've just... You can work up for another kiss.

0:45:580:46:01

Be causing a divorce at this rate! Come on, let's go!

0:46:020:46:05

The apartment I want to show them is located at the back of the building,

0:46:070:46:10

overlooking a lovely communal courtyard.

0:46:100:46:13

So as you come through, you have a potential bedroom there, family bathroom behind me

0:46:130:46:18

and through into this hallway, you get the idea,

0:46:180:46:22

it's all on one level.

0:46:220:46:24

-What do you think?

-Yeah. It's a bit dark.

0:46:240:46:27

-Feels dark?

-It feels dark.

0:46:270:46:28

Let me show you a lighter room, then. Let's go into the kitchen.

0:46:280:46:31

-What do you think of this for a kitchen?

-Oh, I love it.

0:46:340:46:38

This is great, isn't it? Yes.

0:46:380:46:40

Just ever so slightly still too dark.

0:46:400:46:44

The lighting can be sorted out, but, no, it's a lovely space.

0:46:440:46:47

It's got a nice...

0:46:470:46:49

Nice area in the middle here for eating, and this little step all adds a little bit of style to it.

0:46:490:46:55

-Really nicely done.

-It's lovely.

-Yeah, lovely. Very nice.

0:46:550:46:59

Well, we've scored well on the kitchen. Let's see some of the other rooms. This way.

0:46:590:47:04

-Here is your living room.

-Ha-ha!

0:47:090:47:13

-Very nice.

-That's light and airy, isn't it?

0:47:130:47:15

-Isn't it just?

-This is a big room into which big furniture could go.

0:47:150:47:19

I almost feel like I haven't got anything that'd fit in with the character of this property.

0:47:190:47:23

I almost feel like this property requires a character, and that's not the one that I've got.

0:47:230:47:27

Well, it's not over yet. The second of the three bedrooms

0:47:270:47:31

has a huge arched window and is being used as a study,

0:47:310:47:35

but I want to show them the master, which will surely accommodate

0:47:350:47:39

a wardrobe or two for all those shoes and shirts.

0:47:390:47:41

-And this is yet another grand room in this house.

-Oh, it is.

0:47:410:47:45

-Your master bedroom.

-It's rather lovely.

0:47:450:47:47

Although I feel, really, that I would love this as my dining area.

0:47:470:47:51

Bigger reception, put more of my things in here.

0:47:510:47:54

I just somehow feel it's a little bit of a wasted space just for...

0:47:540:47:57

Except for the en suite, do we want an en suite dining room?

0:47:570:48:01

-I don't know if there is one.

-There is one right here, good point.

0:48:010:48:04

-Let's have a look, and then you can work out whether it would work being next to your dining room.

-True.

0:48:040:48:09

A big en suite with the master bedroom, so you are right,

0:48:110:48:14

if you had it as a dining room it would be interesting to have this

0:48:140:48:19

located at the end. Got a big stand-up shower there,

0:48:190:48:22

-huge bath and all the space around here.

-It's a fantastic bathroom.

0:48:220:48:27

It is, actually. Again, it's dark!

0:48:270:48:30

-Nothing that a bit of lighting can't fix.

-I know!

0:48:300:48:32

-You don't want a really bright bathroom, though.

-Yes, you do!

0:48:320:48:36

-You do want a really bright bathroom.

-Yes, you do!

0:48:360:48:40

This has got to be the largest en suite I've ever seen, but I can't see the bedroom

0:48:410:48:45

working as a dining room for entertaining all their friends.

0:48:450:48:48

Just as well I have something else up my sleeve to tempt them, and it's outside.

0:48:480:48:52

If you're wondering why I've brought you away from the apartment, it's because this is obviously

0:48:560:49:01

an old manor house and the common parts are shared by all nine residents.

0:49:010:49:06

And the Grand Hall is one of the common parts, just through here.

0:49:060:49:10

-Wow.

-Wow, indeed.

0:49:100:49:12

This could be the answer to the problems of how you entertain all your many guests. Come this way.

0:49:120:49:19

Now, come in here.

0:49:210:49:24

This area here...

0:49:250:49:27

-is an amazing room, isn't it?

-Isn't it just?

0:49:270:49:29

And the beauty of this mystery house is that you all get equal access to it, you all own it.

0:49:290:49:35

Current residents use this for parties, black-tie events, they've had weddings, they've just had

0:49:350:49:41

friends round, sitting round in this area. The only stipulation is

0:49:410:49:45

if you are doing something you invite the others, that's it.

0:49:450:49:48

Other than that, it's everyone's to use.

0:49:480:49:51

Objectively, it's a lovely place and I like this room,

0:49:510:49:54

but I don't feel comfortable about this.

0:49:540:49:57

Let's go outside, stand on that amazing, beautiful, pristine lawn,

0:49:570:50:01

and ponder how much it could cost to live in a house like this. Come on.

0:50:010:50:07

Well, they certainly didn't bargain for all this.

0:50:070:50:11

There is no doubt it's a unique property, but how deep will they have to dig in their pockets?

0:50:110:50:15

It's a very grand, big house, beautiful apartment, a great location,

0:50:150:50:20

but how much do you think it will cost you?

0:50:200:50:22

I think it's going to be right up at the top end,

0:50:230:50:26

possibly just even a little bit over our budget, maybe 410.

0:50:260:50:30

I think a little bit under, I think probably about 380, 385.

0:50:300:50:34

Quite a bit under.

0:50:340:50:35

So, a big split in your price range this time, and...

0:50:350:50:40

you're both wrong!

0:50:400:50:41

You've lost your credibility now.

0:50:430:50:45

-It's somewhere in the middle, it's on at £400,000.

-Right.

0:50:450:50:48

-So bang on the top of your budget.

-Right.

-What do you think about that?

0:50:480:50:53

It's lovely, it's impressive, it's stunning, it's really well-presented,

0:50:530:50:57

it's genteel living, it's not Martin and Janet.

0:50:570:51:00

It's more a beautiful retreat for the weekends,

0:51:000:51:04

but we are looking for a home base that we can mess about with and mess up, and it's just too nice.

0:51:040:51:10

Why don't you wander off and have another wander round the grand Victorian palace?

0:51:100:51:16

-Mm, yes.

-I will see you later.

-OK, thanks.

0:51:160:51:19

At £400,000, this mystery property is at the top end of their budget.

0:51:190:51:23

It's an unusual proposition, but it would offer them

0:51:230:51:26

the community feel they're looking for.

0:51:260:51:28

There's a large high-spec kitchen, three bedrooms,

0:51:280:51:31

including a master en suite, and the use of a communal hall and grounds.

0:51:310:51:35

In your career and everything else we've had forced communal living

0:51:350:51:39

for a long time, people telling you where you can and...

0:51:390:51:42

What you can and can't do. I just feel that this is our opportunity to have

0:51:420:51:46

our own piece of countryside. I don't want other people telling me what to do.

0:51:460:51:50

We've done that regimented communal living with rules and regulations.

0:51:500:51:54

Overall, I still don't think it would work for us.

0:51:540:51:57

We're back to the classic rooms, and it is a classic building, so there's no reason it shouldn't have rooms.

0:51:570:52:04

It just hasn't got that flow, that openness that we're after.

0:52:040:52:08

It's a very, very dark property, and it's not that open space that we are looking for, you know?

0:52:080:52:13

The joy of those high beams, it's just not there.

0:52:130:52:17

-A lovely spot just to sit and think about things.

-Gorgeous view.

0:52:170:52:22

I see you've found a place to rest your feet.

0:52:220:52:24

I hope your brains are still working, because you have a think about what you're going to do next.

0:52:240:52:29

As Martin and Janet's mission draws to an end, it's time to consider

0:52:320:52:36

their options and for us to discover whether we have hit the target.

0:52:360:52:40

For the first time in ages, I am certain of the favourite

0:52:410:52:45

property of our couple, and my money is going on the converted dovecote.

0:52:450:52:49

But am I right? And more importantly, do they love it enough to make it their home?

0:52:490:52:54

Let's find out.

0:52:540:52:56

Well, my dears, it's been 22 years

0:53:000:53:04

and a journey from Kuwait back all the way to Staffordshire,

0:53:040:53:08

but here we are trying to find you a perfect house in the country for you to settle down.

0:53:080:53:13

We started with the old converted forge.

0:53:130:53:16

Cast your minds back, what did you think when we first walked up to it?

0:53:160:53:20

It looked very much like what we were after from the outside.

0:53:200:53:24

So then when we went in, did it live up to the promise?

0:53:240:53:27

It didn't have that open-plan look we're looking for.

0:53:270:53:31

It was warm, it was country,

0:53:310:53:34

it was homely and it was really well done,

0:53:340:53:38

but it was...just lacked that ability to flow through the downstairs.

0:53:380:53:45

We looked at a detached property together, didn't we?

0:53:450:53:47

A new build, built to an old design.

0:53:470:53:50

Lots of timber and brick.

0:53:500:53:52

From the outside, that was impressive,

0:53:520:53:54

but how did you feel when you went in and had a wander round?

0:53:540:53:57

The kitchen was nice, it was beautiful, large, well-appointed.

0:53:570:54:01

I liked the fact it went round the corner, that was the open bit of it.

0:54:010:54:06

But as we discussed, we wouldn't get our furniture in that living room.

0:54:060:54:10

One thing we won't compromise on is making everything we own fit the house.

0:54:100:54:14

-It's got to be the other way round.

-Yeah.

0:54:140:54:17

We're prepared to make certain sacrifices,

0:54:170:54:19

but not changing our lifestyle to fit into a house that clearly isn't us.

0:54:190:54:23

We'll thin our stuff down, it's got to happen,

0:54:230:54:26

but as Jan says, not to just be able to buy one property

0:54:260:54:29

are we prepared to throw away all our cherished possessions.

0:54:290:54:33

It almost felt like a mystery house when we got to the old dovecote.

0:54:330:54:36

It looked so tiny from outside,

0:54:360:54:38

this lovely little cottage in the corner,

0:54:380:54:41

and initially I just thought, "Oh, no.

0:54:410:54:43

"This is going to be low beams, little cottage, exactly what I'm not looking for, tucked in the corner."

0:54:430:54:49

But a surprise for you as you walked through!

0:54:490:54:51

Exactly the opposite effect from the other house. You went inside,

0:54:510:54:55

and it seemed to go back and back and back and, yeah...

0:54:550:54:58

And the essence of space the moment you walked through the door, I just loved everything about it.

0:54:580:55:04

Yeah. It just...

0:55:040:55:05

-It hit everything.

-Well, to end the journey we, of course,

0:55:060:55:10

had the mystery house just to throw a spanner in the works.

0:55:100:55:13

It was a lovely show home experience for me that I'd be proud

0:55:130:55:18

to show people, but I couldn't see myself living in it.

0:55:180:55:21

-It's genteel living.

-And it's time to move on from that?

0:55:210:55:24

-Yeah.

-You were here on holiday, but we've been on a property search.

0:55:240:55:29

Of course, that brings us to the question of have

0:55:290:55:31

any of the properties we've shown you hit the mark?

0:55:310:55:34

I think it's very clear which one the winner is, it's the old dovecote.

0:55:340:55:38

-Yes?

-Absolutely!

0:55:380:55:40

That's hit the spot.

0:55:400:55:42

But what is the next step for you?

0:55:420:55:45

We've got three next steps in our minds.

0:55:450:55:48

One of which, we just need to establish what sort of access

0:55:480:55:51

there is to the leisure facilities that are next door,

0:55:510:55:54

we just need to talk to the bank to make sure that their provisional offer still stands for the cash,

0:55:540:55:59

and we need the phone number of the estate agent so we can go tomorrow morning for a second viewing, because

0:55:590:56:05

we leave the country in four days' time and we've got to get moving.

0:56:050:56:09

I love it, so impulsive, so direct. So military!

0:56:090:56:13

"I have a three stage plan!"

0:56:130:56:16

-And if it all goes ahead...

-It'll be happening at 0900 tomorrow morning!

0:56:160:56:20

-You'll be moving in!

-Chocks away!

-THEY ALL LAUGH

0:56:200:56:24

-And are you on board with that plan?

-Apparently!

0:56:240:56:28

-Thank you both very much, it's been an absolute pleasure.

-Thank you.

0:56:280:56:32

Jan and Martin may well have spent the last couple of years living it up on the Kuwaiti sand dunes,

0:56:350:56:40

but all they've really wanted is to come home to the Staffordshire hills

0:56:400:56:44

and to live a simple life with a traditional home, a roaring fire and a pub on their doorstep.

0:56:440:56:50

And do you know what? I think we've found it for them.

0:56:500:56:53

I'll see you next time on Escape to the Country.

0:56:530:56:56

If you want to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

0:56:560:57:00

or England and need our help, please apply online at:

0:57:000:57:03

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:57:220:57:25

E-mail [email protected]

0:57:250:57:27

Denise Nurse helps a couple relocate from Kuwait to Staffordshire. They will be leaving a palatial house behind so will she succeed in finding them their rural idyll? With a top budget of £400,000, they are after a large kitchen-diner and a small, low-maintenance garden.


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