Property series. Denise Nurse seeks the perfect family home on the Suffolk/Essex border away from busy city life for a couple with £500,000 to spend.
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Today's county is associated with Britain's most famous 20th-century composer.
Fans have erected this rather impressive monument on the beach near where he used to live and work.
Find out who he is and where I am in today's Escape To The Country.
Today we're helping a couple swap the fast lanes of London for an artistic life in the country,
but will any of our properties match their dream?
I think we're maybe looking for something that's a bit more...
open and invites the countryside and the light in a bit more.
And today's mystery house - will it turn out to be the masterpiece?
-And you can see out and beyond.
-And the view! Yes!
Today I'm in Suffolk, home and birthplace of Benjamin Britten
and this is Aldeburgh, the place where he spent the greatest part of his life.
Here we've got the scallop, the monument in his honour,
and it feature a bit of text: "I hear those voices that will not be drowned,"
from his most famous work, Peter Grimes, an opera that is set on this stretch of the Suffolk coast
which was a constant source of inspiration to Britten.
And this forty-mile stretch of heritage coast continues to inspire.
In recent years, affluent city folk have headed up the A12 to snap up
first and second homes both in Aldeburgh
and in nearby Southwold, turning these genteel seaside towns into increasingly fashionable hotspots.
Suffolk's location in East Anglia, sandwiched between Norfolk,
Essex and Cambridgeshire, makes it the ideal weekend getaway for southern urbanites.
And it's not just the seaside that's a big draw...
Suffolk is home to classic scenery.
It's a landscape that inspired one of Britain's most famous artists, John Constable.
He immortalised it on canvas 200 years ago and, remarkably, it's changed little since.
Unspoilt market towns, villages and hamlets offer up character properties aplenty,
from Tudor timber frames to Georgian townhouses and an abundance of thatched cottages.
And if you have an artistic temperament, this county has its own traditional colour statement -
So, Suffolk is clearly a winner and here are some more statistics to enthuse you.
The crime rate here is 5% below the national average and it's not too heavily populated...
66% less than neighbouring Essex and yet it's still commutable
into London and house prices are pretty reasonable, too. Take a look at what you can get.
There's plenty to suit all budgets.
If your pockets are very deep indeed, £1.3 million
will purchase this six-bedroom 18th-century barn conversation in the hamlet of Cove Bottom.
It's a huge country pile with four reception rooms, a super sized kitchen/diner
and bags of rustic charm, all set in an acre of land.
Or you could be horsing around in this five-bedroom modern house with paddocks and stables in Gislingham.
It offers masses of space with three reception rooms
and despite being just five years old, there's a real injection of character charm.
To ride away with this one, you'll need £625,000.
Finally, you could be sitting pretty in pink in this traditional Suffolk thatched cottage in Redgrave.
It comes with four bedrooms, three cosy reception rooms,
packed with must-have original features, a made-to-measure country kitchen and pretty, lawned garden.
However, the £395,000 price tag shouldn't put you in the red.
Pretty impressive stuff but is it gonna be enough to impress today's house buyers? Let's meet them.
Today's very creative couple are freelance writer Malcolm and artist and gallery owner, Meryl.
For the last 31 years they've lived in a five-bedroom Victorian house in North London
but so desperate are they to make the move to the country,
they've already sold up and are now renting in Hampstead.
I have always wanted to live in the country, since I was about four.
I told people that my uncle had a farm and we brought back milk and butter from it.
It never existed, but I've always had a rich fantasy life!
Turning a childhood fantasy into reality is a tall order, but we like a challenge!
Whether the reality of downsizing will live up to their expectations, though, remains to be seen.
They're splitting the proceeds of the sale of their North London home between a small flat
near Meryl's gallery in London's East End
and a country house in Suffolk, which is an ideal location,
given its direct rail and road links to that part of the city,
but there are other reasons behind this move, too.
We were involved for a long time with an arts festival, and a lot of the people who founded it
live out along in Suffolk and also now we've got friends
who live along the coast there and in Darsham.
They know the area but haven't viewed a single property, so do they have a clear location in mind?
I think we're looking for the edge of a village or close to civilisation, we were saying
in a distance you could walk for a pint of milk or a pint,
so not way out in the back of nowhere but not in the village itself, probably.
Keen equestrian Malcolm also plans to move his horse, Neville, from a livery outside London
to stables in Suffolk,
but we need to pin down exactly what kind of accommodation Meryl and Malcolm are after.
It could be anything from a plain old Victorian vicarage to an 18th-century straightforward house.
It could even be a complete new-build, architect-designed glass number.
Meryl and Malcolm are downsizing from a large townhouse, so what's on their wish list?
We want three bedrooms,
two bathrooms, we need a good, big kitchen that's gonna be the hub of the place,
a good big reception room so we can have lots of friends round,
outside, we need outbuildings for days,
an acre or two...
That's a sizeable wish-list! Do they have a sizeable budget to match?
Our budget for a house in Suffolk is around £400,000.
I think this is going to be a challenge!
So if it was good enough to inspire John Constable and Benjamin Britten,
I'm sure Suffolk will be good enough to inspire our arty couple, Meryl and Malcolm.
Now they want a three-bedroom house with a big kitchen/diner
so they can have their artistic friends round for weekends,
but what they'd really like is some space outside and some outhouses
to build a studio so they can continue being creative.
Well, they've got £400,000 so it might be a bit of a squeeze.
With friends in East Suffolk, Malcolm and Meryl know the area quite well
and want to focus the search in a narrow 24-mile strip of countryside
between Woodbridge, Halesworth and the coast.
This will give them easy access to the A12 into London
but will make it trickier
to get everything on their wish list for £400,000.
In today's show we'll view three of the best homes on the market for the money
but as always, I won't reveal the price tags until they've had a good look around,
And the last of the three, our mystery house, will take them
out of their comfort zone, but will it hit the spot?
Welcome to Suffolk, guys.
-How are you feeling about our adventures here?
-Excited and nervous, that's a good combination!
Well, I've brought you to the Snape Maltings
where Benjamin Britten founded the Aldeburgh Festival
which takes place every year so we're continuing a Benjamin Britten theme,
cultural theme, because I've got you pegged as the cultural couple.
-Is that fair?
-Oh, yes, of course!
-Yes, we ooze culture!
And I also sort of imagine that this move down here you're gonna set up an artists' colony
with painters and sculptors popping round for tea?
Oh, yeah, that would be great! We've got lots of friends who are working artists in this area
but also in London, so I think that would be the dream.
Since we spoke to you last, you've bought a property in London.
Yes, we've bought a flat in Whitechapel, so right in the gritty heart of East London,
close to All Hallows, where we operate from, and close to Liverpool Street Station.
You're still planning to get on the train and come out here?
Oh, yeah, this is very much part of the dream.
And has that had an impact on your budget?
Well, it's tight and pips are squeaking slightly but no, I think we should be all right.
So we're still talking about £400,000?
-Yep, that's the target area.
-Well, we've got some lovely properties
including the mystery house, so shall we stroll through the reeds?
Let's do it.
Armed with £400,000, Malcolm and Meryl want a detached period or ultra-modern home
on the edge of a village near the A12.
Their must-haves include...
I think the reality of downsizing here in Suffolk will have to involve that word "compromise"!
This is the very first time Meryl and Malcolm
have looked for properties here so I wonder how they're feeling.
This is a long-held dream, so I'm excited but kind of apprehensive
as well because something in me can't quite believe that you'll be able to find the dream place!
-You're a bit scared of your dream coming true!
-Well, there's always that!
It looks like we're going down a philosophical route today
and this voyage of discovery takes us to our first property, in Snape itself.
Situated on the banks of the River Alde, this pretty Suffolk village is tranquillity personified.
With just a couple of pubs serving the 600-strong population, it's an ideal escape
and the A12 is just a few minutes' drive away, so it's well-connected to London.
The location of our first property should be spot-on too...
it's right on the edge of the village, situated down a quiet country lane
and we're starting off with the most traditional of Suffolk properties, a pink cottage.
Surely as artists, Malcolm and Meryl will appreciate the colour palette.
So this is the cottage I wanted to show you,
but it is a proper Suffolk cottage, so what are your thoughts about that?
It's very pretty, isn't it?
-It is pretty.
-Classic garden, beautiful.
If you could draw a country cottage, this is probably what it would look like. What do you think, Malcolm?
Cottage is an interesting option.
We've been living in a Victorian house with very tall ceilings and I don't like the feeling of being
sort of enclosed too much, so everything depends on how it feels inside, I think.
Originally two separate cottages dating from the 1700s, this picture-perfect house could have
come straight out of a fairytale book, so I'm hoping it will fit Malcolm's childhood dream,
but it will be a very different proposition
to their London townhouse and it will definitely be a downsize in terms of room dimensions.
-In you come.
This is the dining room.
Absolutely classic, I'd say!
-Yes, it's cosy and it's beamy.
-Beamy - is that good or bad?
That's good for a cottage!
-But for you?
-For us, well...
Not great for me, but you know,
I don't want to rule these things out just because of...
Certainly as it's the first one we've seen.
That's right, but it's good for me to collect your preferences.
-You're not mad on beams?
-Not mad on beams and low ceilings.
It looks like I'm gonna have my work cut out for me but at least they're keeping an open mind.
This is the kitchen.
We love kitchens. I mean, food's very important to us, entertaining, eating together, it's all key for us.
So the kitchen's quite an essential part of the setup?
Absolutely, and space to sit is important.
As you can see, there's not really space to eat in this bit of the kitchen but if you walk through...
-it goes into a sort of breakfast area here.
That wall is pretty structural because that was the separating wall between the two cottages,
-otherwise it would be kind of easy to...
-That's pretty solid, isn't it?
But it's not a listed building so you could always move out into the garden and make this much bigger.
There's one more room downstairs, which is the big sitting room.
So there's a wash room.
This is the main sitting room.
Struck you dumb!
-What do you think about this?
-It has, hasn't it!
Well, again it's cosy. I like the wood-burning stove. That's good.
You could settle here for the evening, glass of brandy, be lovely.
I get the impression you're being terribly polite but you actually don't like it.
It's not "not like", I think it's probably just not us.
I mean, if this belonged to friends of ours, we'd come here and say
"It's fantastic, what a lovely place you've got."
You don't have to be embarrassed!
-It is lovely but it's not to everybody's taste and if it's not to yours, that's what we need to hear.
I think we're maybe looking for something that's a bit more open
and invites the countryside and the light in a bit more.
-Yes, or an atrium, there you go!
They have made an effort to kind of open those little French windows...
-Yes, to the garden.
-Into the garden.
Yes, that's a good point, that does.
Quite a lot of light coming in...
and upstairs is quite light as well.
Shall we look? Mind your head - it's quite a tight staircase.
Well, that's positive!
Could this cottage be gradually growing on Malcolm? Let's find out as we head upstairs.
Let's look at this room first. This is the master bedroom.
Beams for miles!
And it walks through into this enormous sort of
dressing room/bathroom suite.
That's nice, isn't it?
Yes, it's quite voluminous!
Yes, for a cottage, it's quite spacious upstairs.
I do like attic rooms, actually.
It's one of those areas, funnily enough, where I kind of
contradict myself because they are... bedrooms are good like that and I like the slope of the ceilings.
OK, well, next door there's two more bedrooms.
Mind your head!
So again, quite a good sized room for a cottage.
-Lots of light.
And you've got another bedroom down here which is joined by a back staircase.
-So you can lock this door and have that as a sort of separate room for guests.
We don't need big bedrooms.
I think bedrooms for us are where you sleep, they're not a sort of big play area,
so the dimensions aren't necessarily an issue.
Malcolm seems to be warming to this property, but I get the feeling it's a reality check in terms of space
and outside, although relatively roomy with a paved entertaining area and two front gardens, it certainly
isn't the one or two acres they've asked for but acreage on their budget is a very tall order.
Here we've come full circle, in fact to the front of the house but you may not have noticed this
bit of garden on the side.
This is all kind of squashed in and enclosed, isn't it?
And you also want some outside, some outbuildings, don't you,
for your artists' studio, which I'm envisaging very vividly in my mind.
-And I guess that garage won't cut it?
Well, it would need a bit of attention, wouldn't it?
It would need something doing to it to transform it...
Are you looking to have those buildings already there
are studios, or would you be happy to do some work and do them up?
Do some work, yes, as long as they were sound, not too much work to be done on structurally.
Let's step through here and then we can talk a bit about money,
because I get the impression that this is not
spatially quite what you're looking for, but there is the issue of budget and yeah,
I was just wondering what you thought this was worth, what it was on the market for?
Well, it's tough to tell, because we're at the beginning of the journey, but I'll plump for 390.
-I was gonna go 380.
-That's sort of high in your budget, but it's actually on at 375.
-Wander round the house, inside and out and I'll meet you out the front.
So Meryl and Malcolm could be living in the pink for £375,000 - £25,000 under budget.
This traditional cottage comes with bags of period features...
With three separate garden areas, there's potential to create an art studio.
This is a fairytale cottage but will it deliver a fairytale ending to Malcolm and Meryl's house hunt?
I like the windows and the French doors but...
Yeah, that would be nice, that would open out into the garden.
The location's good,
I like the pink traditional Suffolk exterior
-but it's not for me because I feel a tiny bit claustrophobic in here.
Yeah, I think with the table...
Almost the nicest room in the house.
I could see ourselves in here.
It's been well-organised and modernised, very liveable in, cosy
but for us, I think it's just not quite the right thing.
We have never lived in cottage sort of spaces and I think that it's just not the right kind of place for us.
There are bees everywhere!
-Are you all done?
So if you pull the door to, we have the rest of Suffolk to discover.
Malcolm and Meryl aren't the only ones to take inspiration from Suffolk's beautiful countryside.
For composer Benjamin Britten, it was his constant muse.
Now I'm a huge fan of Britten, so I couldn't miss the opportunity of visiting his Aldeburgh home
of 30 years, The Red House, where I'm meeting up with Dr Lucy Walker, Academic Research Officer.
During his adult life, Britten produced over 13 operas and stage works and many orchestral pieces,
and The Red House became a hotbed of creativity, attracting musicians and artists from all over the world.
-This is the composition sketch for Peter Grimes. The original material, yes.
-I'm a bit of a Benjamin Britten geek so that's quite an honour to see that!
-"Peter Grimes" is his most famous and very important for us because we're in Suffolk...
And it's set in Suffolk, isn't it?
It's set in, yes, in a village called "The Borough"
-which is really effectively Aldeburgh.
-It is Aldeburgh?
Yes, so it's very much rooted in Suffolk.
It was Britten's first big breakthrough?
It really was. It kick-started our English opera again as well.
It was a hugely important moment when it was first performed.
Today Britten is recognised as one of the most significant contributors
to 20th-century British classical music
and he was a passionate promoter of young musicians -
not surprising, considering the age he started writing.
He started at the age of six.
Oh! I hate those people who start when they're six... it's so depressing!
Yes, it is quite depressing and he wrote over 730 pieces before he was 18! So...yes.
-Have you got any that we can look at?
We've got a couple here and we have a piano duet here that he wrote for him and his elder sister Barbara to play.
-Shall we have a go?
-We could have a go, yes.
-Shall we take a seat?
And after two, one... two.
THEY PLAY COMPETENTLY
-Oh, we got through that!
-Benjamin's probably spinning in his grave!
-How old was he when he wrote this?
-Fantastic. Thank you so much, Lucy. it's been a real pleasure.
-You're very welcome.
-A real excitement!
We're restricted in our house hunt to a very specific area
and the next house we're viewing is situated just five miles north-west of Southwold, in rural Clay Common.
For amenities, Meryl and Malcolm can head to the positively blooming village of Wangford.
The community is serviced by one church and one pub
and since the London to Great Yarmouth road, which used to run through the village was bypassed,
peace and quiet is assured.
Our next property is situated just a couple of minutes' drive away.
This is where we're going,
down a quiet country lane to this sprawling, spacious property.
-It looks interesting, yes.
-Yes, I like it.
Yeah, I like the squareness of it.
-It's a house.
-It's a house!
Nice, simple little house.
-This has got lots of options, this property.
In terms of space.
-Shall we look inside?
Built in 1850, this property has been fully renovated and extended
by the current owners in the last five years
so it's a Victorian house but has a modern light and spacious feel,
which should be just right for Malcolm and Meryl.
So this is a little sort of atrium porch/office...
-cum music room.
You've given us beams again...
-Beams, but high beams.
-Slightly higher, yes.
-And there's no beams through here.
This is beamless,
-and much more modern.
Actually the dimensions I like, it's nice and spacious and light, isn't it.
Yes, it's smallish but...
I guess, yes, any house this age and style will be.
So if you come into the dining area, you can see the sort of heritage of the building.
-This was the outside wall.
And then this is a lean-to that they've kind of extended out.
This is a spacious house but Meryl and Malcolm seem slightly underwhelmed so far.
I think they're so used to living in a sprawling Victorian townhouse
that they can't quite get their heads around the fact that this is a downsize!
However, I have high hopes for the kitchen.
It's next door to the living room and has all the right ingredients to be the hub of the house.
In you come.
Now I think this is a good space. I'm quite surprised, really.
I like the panoramic windows with the garden. That's nice.
Really nice, and that's a nice kitchen with sink.
Yes, beech work surfaces throughout.
-So you've got all this and then there is a big utility room there as well.
Which goes out into the garden.
Is this adequate to your kind of kitchen/dining/utility needs?
-Yes, I would say so.
Well, that's better! Let's hope we can keep up the good work upstairs.
There's a bright, neutrally decorated bathroom
with tongue and groove detail, and the bedrooms are next.
The first is a good size for guests but we're heading into the second bedroom
which has been cleverly reappointed.
And then here, this would have been another bedroom but it's been turned into a walk-in wardrobe.
Oh, yes, just a room full of wardrobe!
An enormous wall of wardrobe!
-Is that good for you?
-To die for, I would have thought!
-But you are down a bedroom at this point.
But you do have an en-suite with some serious bathroom kit.
This is a sauna shower.
-Not just a shower...
-a sauna shower.
Turn it on outside, half an hour later,
roasting hot sauna.
Let's look at your bedroom.
What do you think of the layout?
We're up in the eaves. I quite like that. I like loft spaces.
Well, the interior has got a reasonably positive reception, but let's turn our attention to the
outside space, which is just as important to our creative duo.
This property comes with nearly half an acre in all and there's an added extra out there, too.
It's an interesting garden, I think, because when they moved in in 2004, it was all like this...
it was all this sort of asbestos outhouses and it was all concreted
so they've done an enormous amount of work re the structuring but I think there's lots of potential.
Can you see potential here?
-Yes, there's quite a bit of space.
-It's nice, yeah.
-And this is the latest addition to their garden landscape.
-It's a log cabin! There you go.
What I was thinking is you wanted some outside space for your art and stuff.
-Shall we have a look?
Oh, I thought that would get more of a reaction,
but these two are playing their cards very close to their chest!
It's a really substantial space they've got going on in here.
Indeed, yes, it is.
It's a Wendy house isn't it, but for grown-ups.
It's really not a Wendy house, it's a WENDY house,
because you've got a fully fitted-out kitchen and a bathroom and shower room at the back
and a very nice space here with a pull-out bed.
-It's good, isn't it!
I think this is a real addition to the property because it
really is like having another big living room/kitchen.
Yes, it is, and if you've lost a bedroom up there, you've actually got guest...
-You've more than made it up here.
Well, let's go into the garden and see what you think about the price.
It's an interesting proposition in terms of a package because it's lots of different things, really.
It's got a bit of the garden, lots of extensions possibilities.
-What sort of ball-park figure would you go for?
-And I was gonna go 375.
You're quite high, you're a little less high, but both of you are a bit too high,
-cos it's actually on the market for 365.
-So, have a wander around and then we'll met out front and then mull it over.
On the market for £365,000, this detached modernised Victorian home is a sizeable £35,000 under budget
and on paper it has nearly everything Malcolm and Meryl have asked for...
I think there's lots of potential
to put their own stamp on it,
but will Malcolm and Meryl
buy into the possibilities?
I like quite a lot of aspects of the house, particularly, funnily enough, towards the back.
I like the kitchen/diner, particularly like the garden and all
the sort of bits and bobs that make the garden full of possibilities.
I wouldn't discount it out of hand. Certainly something to think about.
I quite like this.
I like the fact that you can cook here and you can talk to people, it's all one big space.
And good outlook onto the garden, especially the doors there.
But this is house is quite perplexing and I can't quite get my head round it, because there are so many bits
and some of them work and some of them don't, yet there's bags of potential
in the garden and the outbuildings and outdoors so it needs a bit of consideration, really, I think.
With the sun beginning to set over Suffolk, the first day of our house-hunt is at an end.
Creative couple Meryl and Malcolm are looking for an artistic retreat in Suffolk.
We've already shown them two properties for their £400,000 budget,
one of which is a definite maybe.
But there's plenty more to come in the form of the mystery house,
which could be a masterpiece in the making!
It's put a smile on your face too!
-Almost a beam!
-Almost a beam!
Malcolm and Meryl aren't moving to Suffolk alone.
Neville, Malcolm's horse, will be joining them, too.
Finding out where he can saddle up and canter to his heart's content
is a priority for Malcolm so we've sent him
along to East Farm Park on the outskirts of Woodbridge to meet up with stable hand Steve Swann.
-Hello Malcolm, nice to meet you.
In 1974, the farm opened to the public and was the second farm park in all of England.
In the last few years, it's created 15 miles of horse tracks in the area where riders can gallop safely
in off-road countryside, but it's also home to a unique breed of horse, particular to this county...
the Suffolk Punch.
This is Polly and this is Major behind her.
Major was bred here. He's about 18 years old,
18 hands high, weighs just under a tonne, capable of pulling twice his own body weight.
With origins dating back to 1506, the Suffolk Punch is the oldest breed of heavy horse in Britain.
Bred to pull farm machinery, these chestnut gentle giants have a unique shape,
large body and stocky legs designed specifically to cope with the low-lying muddy terrain of Suffolk.
But these are quite rare, is that right?
Apparently, when the tractors came on the scene in the '50s, horses were disregarded slowly
and farmers' sons and things didn't want the horses, they wanted tractors and they faded them out.
They sort of got to the stage where they, you know, became endangered, so to speak.
They did say at one stage there were more giant pandas in the world than there were Suffolk horses!
Thanks to enthusiasts like Steve and the Suffolk Horse Society, the Punch is slowly making a comeback.
Today there are 200 grazing in England
and every one of them can be traced back to the same stallion from 1768.
Well, thank you, Steve, that was really great.
-Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Yeah, thanks, loved meeting the horses, that was great!
Suffolk does have some striking properties,
such as the House In The Clouds in Thorpeness.
Sadly it's not for sale, so I can't offer that to Meryl and Malcolm,
but I do feel that we need to pull out the big guns because they haven't
been exactly bowled over by the properties I've shown them so far, so time for the mystery house.
Of course, the mystery house always involves a twist, and today it's all about location.
We're breaking out of our search area and heading to Metfield, a 20-minute drive north-east
of Malcolm and Meryl's preferred location.
It's a lovely village with a strong community.
There's one pub, a 13th-century church and a shop that's run entirely by volunteers.
To save it from closure in 2006, a committee of local residents
bought the store and today the villagers serve the villagers, seven days a week.
The mystery house is situated on the outskirts of the village, in very rural surroundings.
It will need some cosmetic TLC but I have high hopes for this one.
-That is a house!
-This is a proper house.
-Yes, it is!
-No more cottages!
Wow, a good, solid house, yes.
-I saw the smile on your face too, Malcolm!
-Almost a beam!
-Almost a beam...
a different kind of beam!
-There are none of those beams in this property.
Well, we're off to a good start and I think this 1920s-built house
will have the room sizes Meryl and Malcolm are more used to.
Let's find out if lots of space will make up for the shift in location.
What I want you to bear in mind with this property is that
it's the bones that count.
I like it, I like the scope of this room, the height,
-and you can see in the beyond.
-The view! Yes!
That's the best response we've had from Meryl yet.
Just next door is a further reception room, currently used as a study, and I'm
quietly confident the kitchen will live up to expectations.
So we come through this sort of strange atrium that's got
lots and lots of storage there, there's a downstairs loo,
Well, it's a lovely big country kitchen, isn't it?
-Lots of space, you could get everybody in here, all together.
-Got lots and lots of possibility.
And you're sort of south-east facing, so you get a lot of the sun through the day.
I'm a bit shell-shocked because it is a surprise as it should be,
so I'm trying to envisage this, but there are lots and lots of things you could do, so I'm trying to
get past what we've got in front of us to see how it could be, but there are definitely lots of possibilities.
I think the fact that Malcolm is visualising what they could do here can only be a positive sign.
Let's see if the creativity continues upstairs.
-Lovely big wide staircase, no head-banging.
And you've got four bedrooms, a nice big bathroom,
study room here. This is a very typical...
it's the end bedroom. I think they're really nice
sized rooms, so you could easily turn one of these upstairs into another office, or a study room.
Back along the corridor is a further double bedroom and the master.
At the other end of the upstairs this is the one...
-The reverse of the other end.
-In fact more light.
More light because you've got triple aspect.
In terms of upstairs space, is this adequate?
-Upstairs, yes, it's good.
-More than enough!
I'm getting a good feeling from the place.
Yes, I like it, yes. I think...
I like the way it is, I like the views particularly and
the light and the solidness of the way it's built, yeah, I like it.
-You've got a big smile on your face!
Good, well, let's take a look outside.
Well, the mystery house seems to be working its magic.
Hopefully the outside space will charm them, too.
This property is set in a very secluded half-acre plot
and there's plenty of potential for art parties and studios.
-Lots of lovely outside space.
I'm picturing full-on soiree here!
Oh, yeah, look, places to sit!
Yes. Are those old stables?
They are indeed old stables, yes.
-There's two here and there's actually another one round the corner.
-For studio space possibly
or all sorts of other workshop ideas.
Let's look inside the stable.
-This is a proper workshop.
-Even smells like a workshop!
-It does. Power tools...
-Makes you just want
to mend things, doesn't it!
It makes Meryl want to mend things!
-Ellie, our daughter, would like this, I think.
-Is she a workwoman?
She is indeed, yeah, yeah, she's the sculptor, so she's working in ceramics and glass and things.
Oh, great! Wow, you could have a pottery in here! That would be cool!
Yes, definitely, cool. Try to stop her, I think!
Things are definitely looking up and I don't think the rest of the garden will disappoint, either.
Lots of potential in this garden.
They haven't really done an awful lot with it but you've got these great views, this magnificent tree.
Any idea how much space there is in acreage?
It's about half an acre, because it actually goes all the way down here,
-through this gate, goes down to this woodland bit on the other side of the tree.
-Right to that point?
What do you think it's on at?
Shall I go with 425?
I'm gonna be more optimistic and go for 390.
Well, this property is on the market for...
£380,000 and it's been on for a fair amount of time,
so you could probably put in a cheeky offer, should you wish.
Yes, that gets the mind whirring, doesn't it!
-Yeah, it does.
-It's great that your great minds are whirring!
Why don't you wander round the property and whirr some more?
-OK, see you in a minute.
-See you out the front.
That's fantastic, you see!
There's asking lots of questions, they're imagining where their daughter can do her sculpture.
These are the questions of somebody who's interested in buying a property.
At £380,000, the mystery house is £20,000 under budget
so plenty of spare change to convert the stable blocks and make any decorative alterations they want.
It comes with two reception rooms, farmhouse kitchen and four bedrooms.
We've taken them out of their preferred location
to get them more for their money
so will the gamble pay off?
I wanted to have another look at this room because it's such an unusual space, isn't it.
Yes. This extra bit.
It's nice though. I mean you could read in there, couldn't you?
Yeah, it would be a great little reading spot. Now this is a plus.
What I really like about this place is that it's a
proper house with proper rooms, lots of light, lots of ground and outbuildings so all that's good.
It's a bit of a project but if we can get the asking price down a bit, then that will give us some room to move.
I like the windows all three sides, that really works.
Yes, light, waking up to views of the fields, trees, lovely.
The garden is fantastic, there's lots of space, there's outbuildings
and rough space and then the view, which is really lovely and I think against it is only the fact that
there's a few bits that need moving around or sorting out, especially this kitchen perhaps, so I think
this one's one that I'd like to go into further and there's a distinct possibility.
OK, pull the door to.
Our work here is done.
Well, that's nearly it for our property tour of East Suffolk.
We've had some ups and downs but will any of our houses have truly inspired Meryl and Malcolm?
Our long Suffolk adventure has come to a close.
The first property I showed you was that pink cottage, Suffolk pink. What are your memories of that?
From the minute we got there, it felt enclosed.
Lovely as an example of Suffolk rural architecture but too constricted for me.
Certainly not enough space.
And so the next house I showed you was slightly less cottage-y.
They're all sort of cottage size because that's the sort of budget,
but it had made steps towards modernity including that chalet in the garden.
That had many more possibilities and it wasn't simply to do with it being more contemporary...
it was actually to do with the fact that it was a bit more open
and a bit more light and it led out into the garden area.
And the garden was terrific.
At the stage in the proceedings you both looked quite glum
and then I showed you the mystery house, the 1930s vicarage.
Well, I was much more enthusiastic about that, I have to say, and again there was a lot of options
with the garden and outhouses and space and I think the only thing
about that might be that you might need to do a bit of work to make the kitchen area work.
It feels like we've been juggling throughout the whole process between your expectations of this...
wonderful artistic colony in Suffolk and then the reality of your budget,
so I was wondering whether you'd had any thoughts about that?
It's a matter of...
dealing with a dream, because it's a long-held dream, particularly of mine, to move to the country and
I realise there are elements of fantasy with that so you've got to manage as a fantasy
but still hold on to the vision somehow, but I think that there are two possibilities.
I think the chalet house and the mystery house have both got possibilities which I think that
we should pursue and actively look at and see
whether they can turn the dream into a reality.
Yes, I think we'll look at those.
I think you're right to chase that dream. I'm sure the dream property is out there somewhere.
The market's very slippery at the moment
so you just need to plug away and you've got a place in Whitechapel to stay safe,
so I hope you find it soon and I can't wait to be invited to your first artistic soiree!
-We'll do it!
-We will have the bottles waiting for you!
Well, that was a turn-up for the books.
Meryl and Malcolm really liked some of the properties that we showed them, though I think they're
probably well-advised to keep on plugging away until they find their dream artistic home here in Suffolk.
I hope you enjoyed the show and do tune in if you want more Escape To The Country.
But if you want to make a break for the countryside and want our help, please apply online:
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Denise Nurse is on the Suffolk/Essex border seeking the perfect family home for a couple with £500,000 to spend, who are keen to bring up their children away from busy city life.