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This magnificent machine has been helping to shape the British countryside for decades,
and if not for the industrious folk of the county we're visiting today
I think the rural landscape would look very different.
So it's full steam ahead as we go in search of the perfect escape to the country.
Off we go, Barry!
Today we're helping a couple swap a semi in urban Essex for a detached home in the country.
We'll be scouring the countryside for a kitchen big enough to satisfy our house-hunters' hunger for space.
Kitchen perhaps not quite as big as I'd hoped for.
We'll be helping them realise their hidden dreams of traditional timekeeping.
We've got a secret desire for a grandfather clock, and that would be a good place for it.
And today's mystery house offers up a whole new career, but will they buy into the business?
I wonder whether I could run a small tea shop from here and be completely objectionable to all the customers.
Well, today I'm property searching in Suffolk,
and this Ransome steam traction engine was built just down the road from here in Ipswich back in 1919.
Now, Ransomes were the UK's largest manufacturer of farm equipment,
supplying not just the UK but the world.
It takes half a ton of coal and two men to power this beast, but it doesn't go very fast.
At only four miles per hour, it's not the fastest way
to explore the countryside, but it's definitely a great ride.
An agricultural stronghold in the south of England,
Suffolk's farming heritage
has created a county blanketed by open fields
crisscrossed with hedgerows and dotted with coppices.
With Norfolk lying to its north,
Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south,
sleepy Suffolk forms the mid-portion of the East Anglian peninsular.
The county shoreline boasts some of
England's most sought-after coastal getaways, Aldeburgh and Southwold.
Inland Suffolk has escaped major motorway development,
and with a limited rail network its villages have been given
a reprieve from becoming major commuter communities.
A trip through some of the villages
will bring you face to face with some beautiful ancient buildings,
like this 15th-century guildhall in Hadley.
But for those who are particularly squeamish
it might be worth avoiding any of the well-known Suffolk pink houses,
as traditionally it's said the colour was obtained by mixing pig's blood with chalk and clay.
Today, however, far more conventional methods are used,
but whether it's a pink Suffolk cottage
or a mansion house you're after, it's all here for the taking.
With house prices having dropped by 20% here in the last year,
many homeowners are choosing to hold off from putting their properties on the market.
So much so that compared with only 12 months ago there are 25% less properties being marketed.
That being said, if Suffolk whets your house-buying appetite,
there's still plenty out there to tickle your taste buds.
One and a quarter million pounds could see you happily ensconced
in this beautiful Victorian farmhouse
in the entertainingly named village of Helions Bumpstead.
With eight bedrooms you certainly won't be running out of space,
but if you get bored of admiring the period features inside
you can always go and feel like the king of the castle in the garden,
which comes complete with its own wood and even a moat.
If barns are your thing then we've got a stormer for you.
High standards have been maintained throughout this conversion.
The contemporary kitchen beautifully complements the sitting room
with its impressive use of glass, and it's yours for £600,000.
But if quaint and cosy is more your style
and you have £389,000 burning a hole in your pocket
then this cottage could be the place for you.
It has all you could want from a country house, with exposed beams,
a thatched roof and a pretty garden for those summer afternoons.
Some impressive properties there, so let's meet today's buyers who are
ready to don their wellies and plunge into the country.
Alan, an engineer, and Sheila, a primary school teacher,
have been married for 26 years and for the last 17 have lived in
their four bedroom semi-detached
in busy Upminster on the Essex/London border.
But, now their two grown-up children have flown the nest,
their home no longer meets their needs.
The garden is far too big for me.
I can't manage it, it gets overgrown every year. The kitchen's too small.
All our married life I've had a small kitchen.
I have a dream of having a big kitchen with a big table in the middle
and I could be there making cakes.
After nearly two decades of urban living they're finally ready
to make the move and have decided on the Suffolk/Essex borders.
But are they ready to go totally rural?
I don't think we want to be particularly remote, because you don't drive, do you?
So that... We'd need some transport facilities.
I quite like the idea of having, you know, at least a couple of shops perhaps in walking distance.
And, while she is giving up work, Sheila won't simply be putting her feet up.
I'd really like to be part of the local community and get involved in whatever is going on there really.
I've got lost of interests, so whether it's wildlife projects
or local history or amateur dramatics, you know, I'm up for having a go at most things really.
So that's new pursuits covered, but what about the property?
Ideally we'd like something traditional, lots of character.
I like cottages.
One of my hobbies is DIY, so if it is an older house
with a bit of work to do on it then I'm happy to take it on.
-I'd quite like to take the summerhouse with us.
If not, at least have the space for one the same.
We don't have a very rigid idea of what we want.
We are quite open-minded about the kind of house we'd like.
I think you go in and you just think, you know, this feels right.
It's like...almost like a feeling that you've been there before
and that you're almost coming home when you go in there.
Oh, that old chestnut, the elusive "right feeling",
but what about the more tangible criteria?
We would like a bigger kitchen and a bigger study.
We would like three bedrooms and a smaller garden that would be more manageable.
I'm not bothered about having an en-suite bathroom, although I do have
a secret dream to have a dressing room, that would be quite nice.
Exciting times, but before Sheila and Alan can embark on their new beginnings
they need to sell their current house, so we've invited a local agent to give them a valuation.
This is a fine example of a 1930s-built semi-detached house
located in a sought-after residential area within easy reach
of the mainline railway station, so it's ideal for commuters.
Value, we'd say between £425,000 and £450,000.
With that in mind, what's the final spend for this move?
Our budget is £450,000 or thereabouts.
So Sheila and Alan have a good budget for what they want, a three-bedroom detached house with
a good size kitchen and a garden large enough for a summerhouse.
That shouldn't be that difficult.
But the important factor for these two is location
and I think balancing the need for a strong community, shops and public transport links
with their requirement of a peaceful rural setting,
you know, that just may be the tricky part.
As Alan regularly commutes into London
they want to focus the property search on the Suffolk/Essex border
between Sudbury, Ipswich and Colchester.
In today's show I'll be taking them to see three fantastic properties in search of that "right feeling"
but, as ever, I won't be revealing the price tag straightaway.
The last of the three is the mystery house, which offers up a complete
change in lifestyle, but will our buyers be up for the challenge?
-Oh, well, hello, Sheila, Alan.
-Thank you for bringing me to Suffolk.
But we're not going very far. Essex is where you are at the moment, hopping across the border.
Does that mean you know this area pretty well?
Not really, not that well.
We've been here a couple of visits in the past.
We know a few places but it's a world of difference from where we live, which is effectively Greater London.
Sheila, you're the dreamer and obviously you're retiring from your current job,
so what do you think you'll do when you move here?
I don't know really, I just want some time and space to think about it.
A change of lifestyle, thinking about all the things I'm interested in,
you know, from a hobby point of view and from a work point of view,
and just coming up with something that's a little bit different,
a bit more what I want to do rather than what I have to do.
-And you, Alan, are sharing that dream!
-Oh, yes, yeah. I'd like a bit more peace and quiet.
Peace and quiet is what it's all about. Time to relax.
With £450,000 and modest requirements, I have high hopes for this search
-but it's Suffolk and things here are moving relatively quickly, so let's not waste any more time.
Come on, let's go.
So Alan and Sheila have £450,000 to spend on a detached period home with plenty of character.
For cake-baking Sheila, a large kitchen is the ultimate dream.
Three bedrooms and a good size study are must-haves,
and Alan's after a small, manageable garden.
Location will be all-important,
a peaceful setting combined with excellent transport links
and amenities within walking distance for non-car-driver Sheila.
And there's one indefinable factor which could make this property search a tad trickier,
and that's getting the right feel.
My instincts tell me this is going to be interesting.
We're kicking off today's proceedings
just 5½ miles south of Ipswich
in the very quiet village of Hintlesham,
a good location for Alan's commute into London with the Ipswich to Liverpool Street direct rail link.
However, bar one pub, a church and a deli, there are few amenities here.
Just five miles away is the busy market town of Hadleigh,
and its high street comes with amenities aplenty,
including a butcher, a couple of pubs, coffee bars,
a post office and a farm shop.
Most importantly for Sheila, though,
it's accessible by bus from Hintlesham.
This property is a five-minute walk from the centre of the village
and as a traditional character cottage is at the top of Sheila's wish list.
That's what we'll start with today.
And this is the house, a traditional Suffolk pink cottage.
Early part 17th-century, the rest of it extended over the years
right up into the 20th century,
a lovely substantial house. What do you think?
-Well, it's a large cottage.
-And it's quite pink.
I'm not sure I'd live with the pink, would you?
No, I think I might change that.
'Pink isn't to everyone's taste even if it is traditional to the county,
'and to be honest we're not viewing this cottage for its colour palette.
'This property is all about country character.'
Come on in. Straight through here.
I know you said it looks bigger than you expect a cottage to
but inside it's definitely got that sort of cottage feel, hasn't it?
-Yes, it has.
-A lot of traditional features.
-It's got a warm feeling about it, cosy.
Cosy, yeah. The kitchen perhaps not quite as big as I'd hoped for.
I'd like to be able to put a table in the kitchen.
-You can see straight through into...
-You've got a table close by.
It's almost open-plan and they've kept in the original beams, which...
-Yeah. No it is nice.
-..is a nice quirky feature.
-It is a bigger kitchen than what you've got now, though.
Out here you've got more utility space. A lovely walk-in pantry,
great for a regular kitchen.
-You like walk-in pantries.
-It's a big tick for you there!
-Oh, yes, yes.
-Shall we keep moving?
'Good marks from teacher so far.
'Let's see if we can get a gold star for the rest of the house.'
This is the extension. They've done a good job of retaining the timbers.
-It's got a very relaxed feel, hasn't it?
Yeah. You pick up different things from the ambience of the place.
It feels like quite a creative sort of space, really.
Plenty of room for your books, Sheila.
-You're a book collector as well. Woman after my own heart.
-Let's have a wander through, then, have a closer look.
So this is the other half of the sort of living area
in this property, and this is it for the main house really.
If that was our sitting area...
what would we do with this bit?
Could this be your study?
It could be, couldn't it?
There are other options with this property, interestingly enough.
You have a garage outside and they've built a studio up there.
-Up the top.
Or you could possibly have a more formal dining table here
for special occasions,
still taking most of your meals in that area by the kitchen.
That would be another possibility.
'That's a good sign.
'They're already visualising how they could use the space,
'and there's plenty more possibilities upstairs,
'as we're delivering over and above expectations, with four bedrooms.'
Let's just pop in here to the smallest of the bedrooms,
which is currently being used as a small little study or office,
so another option for you really
if you didn't want to use that downstairs space.
If you wanted to use it for dining, you could work up here.
-Yeah, it's quite a good size as a study, isn't it?
It's bigger than your study at the moment.
Across the landing are two single bedrooms,
one of which is also being used as a study.
And at the end is the family bathroom.
Up the steps into the master bedroom.
Definitely can fit a double bed in here.
Go on, tell me what you're thinking, don't hold back.
The painting is sort of overpowering...
Well, that's always the way.
-It's a trick to take out someone else's belongings...
..and picture the space, one, empty, and, two, with your own belongings in it. What do you think?
I'm getting used to it now actually. I think it's not a bad room.
I think it's quite pleasant.
Yeah, it is. Again, it's just...
-Windows either side...
-Windows either side.
-Nice and light.
-It's very different to what we have at the moment.
Yeah. It's a little bit small.
I'm kind of concerned about where we'd fit a wardrobe in.
Ta-da, I have an answer to that.
-You have a his and hers, one of either side.
-You find a door as well.
You do have some wardrobe space.
-And remember this has got four bedrooms in total,
-one which we thought could be a study...
But perhaps one you could sacrifice
to make a wardrobe, dressing room area.
Yeah, perhaps we could do something like that.
'So Sheila could get her fantasy walk-in wardrobe. But let's turn our attention to Alan.
'He wants a nice manageable garden but enough room
'for his summerhouse, and I think this one will be spot on.'
What do you think of the garden? Is this enough space for you?
I think this is about the right size as a garden.
Yeah, it's about the size we'd like, really.
The question is, though, how much do you think it's on the market for?
-Hmm, pondering. Who shall I start with? Alan?
I'd say it was up for about £450,000.
-That's right on your budget.
I don't think it's quite as much as that. I was going to say 420.
I hate to disappoint you, but I have to!
You were right, Alan, right on the money. This is on the market at £450,000.
-You wouldn't really have to do much to it.
-It's a big property.
Why don't you have another wander round and think about
how you would modernise this property a little if it were yours.
-I'll see you later.
With a price tag of £450,000,
this traditional character cottage is bang on budget.
It's deceptively spacious, with two reception rooms,
a country kitchen cum dining room, and four bedrooms.
Alan gets his manageable garden
and there's an added bonus of an attic room above the garage.
Location-wise, the village offers up the peace and quiet they're after
and there's nearby access to rail links for Alan.
But with very few amenities here
will it be a bit too quiet for non-driver Sheila?
I think it's a house with a lot of personality.
I like the way that the rooms are a little bit quirky and they're different shapes, and
a bit of a jigsaw puzzle I think, fitting in what we've got now into a completely different environment.
But I do think it's got possibilities, I do like it.
I've been used to a traditional '30s house where the ceilings are a lot higher.
There's a tendency to
naturally sort of stoop a little bit in order to
avoid the beams, but I think I could get used to that.
Oh, it's great. I mean it's lovely and peaceful and calm.
It's nice and secluded, I quite like the hedge here as well.
You can hear the birds as we speak.
Yeah, you can!
I think Alan quite likes it. Yeah, I think
sometimes when he's not said anything negative he quite likes it.
Round one over.
I know you wanted to keep exploring but we've got so much to do
we're going to have to keep moving. Come on.
Although Sheila and Alan have visited Suffolk a few times
they've never made it to the historic town of Sudbury,
and since many of our properties will be within striking distance
they are taking an opportunity to explore.
A thriving market town today, Sudbury has been a prosperous destination since medieval times
and was at one stage one of the most important weaving centres in Europe.
One of the key factors for its wealth and success was its access to the River Stour.
Now an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Suffolk countryside doesn't get much better than this.
To find out more, Sheila and Alan are meeting up with Barry Wall,
chairman of the Sudbury history society.
Now this piece of land here is known as the freeman's great common.
This is the oldest common land in the whole of the country.
-Oh, it's beautiful.
It's so tranquil and peaceful.
Has it always as peaceful?
No, not really. About 1710 when it was made navigable
it introduced barge traffic to Sudbury so it was
especially good for the brick industry which we had established here, and bricks
went all the way down to London which were used in such places as St Pancras Station, the Albert Hall.
But the river is probably more famous for being the inspiration for Thomas Gainsborough
who was England's greatest landscape painter
from the 18th Century, and then Constable carried on the tradition afterwards in the 19th Century.
But these pools, as the cattle are grazing around them, they remained
in his mind all the while throughout his life and he painted them over
and over again, and he really is Sudbury's, probably our greatest son and our greatest pride.
In his lifetime Gainsborough produced over 300 landscape paintings and an estimated
800 portrait pictures of English aristocracy.
He was born in Sudbury and they're dropping in to the house he lived
in until he was 13 years old which today houses the largest collection of his work in Britain.
And they're meeting Diane Perkins, one of the curators, to find out more.
Well, Gainsborough was a really important artist in the 18th Century and part of that's because
he was very unusual because he was painting both portraits but also landscape paintings,
and that was quite unusual because at the time, landscape painting was
considered to be a rather lowly branch of art and many other artists steered clear of it, if you like.
But Gainsborough was very brave and went ahead
because he obviously had a great passion for the Suffolk landscape.
He would have seen scenes exactly like this one with the river and the cows drinking at the stream,
the wooded landscape, it's clearly this landscape.
It looks like what we've seen today.
Even the trees look like there's a wind blowing which is what we've seen as well.
That's right. But it's exactly that sort of scene that really inspired him.
With the sun setting over the Suffolk countryside, the first day of our property tour is at an end.
On today's show we're looking to help Alan
and Sheila swap their semi in Essex for a detached rural residence.
So far they've seen a house packed with character features so today
we're changing tack and opting for something a little more modern.
And I'll take them out of their comfort zone and into the mystery house.
Well, after yesterday it is very clear that for Sheila the kitchen size is all-important.
But even in the Suffolk countryside, if you're moving to a detached
it comes at a premium and something has to give.
Today it's either the traditional features or the room size.
I'm going for room size.
Let's find Sheila that big kitchen that she really wants.
We're popping just over the border into Essex for our first property of the day, to the very quiet
village of Foxerth, whilst lacking on the local amenities front itself, is just four miles north of Sudbury.
One of the big attractions of Sudbury is the twice weekly market, held on Thursdays and Saturdays.
It's the perfect place to stock up on locally-grown fresh produce.
However, there's just one bus a week on a Thursday to and from Foxerth,
so if our next property is a contender Sheila may have to
bite the bullet and get behind a steering wheel.
What do you think?
-It's very attractive, a nice clean look to it.
Just to set the scene with this house,
what we compromised on this morning is the traditional features perhaps.
-It used to be the old police station though...
It does have a story to it and there's an extension added on.
This is a really sizeable home and I have very high hopes
it will deliver the kitchen Sheila's been dreaming of, but let's get them in the front door first.
In we come. Nice big hallway for you.
-Is that to your liking?
-So far, yes.
-Yeah, we've got a secret desire to have
a grandfather clock and that would be a good place for it there.
-I think I can see a vision there, but I know another important room to you is the kitchen.
So let's go there first.
Sheila, what do you think of this for a kitchen?
Yeah, that's lovely. Nice.
-This is more like it.
I like the chunky wooden worktops, I like wood.
Nice range there as well.
-Kitchen dining area.
Window out over the garden.
Yeah, it's ideal isn't it?
-You're saying you like it but I'm not sensing your excitement.
I want you to be excited because I thought
this could possibly sell a house to you.
I have to see the rest of the house before I let myself get too excited!
Well, there's nothing wrong with being cautious.
Let's just hope that the rest of the house lives up to the kitchen.
Now, over to this side of the property, this is a lovely big reception room.
As you can see, being used as a dining room but
you could do with it as you wished.
Very nice, actually. It's big enough sized room I think for either living room, lounge.
It's light, isn't it? I like the windows on both sides.
Yeah, of course, it's got that sort of cosy feel about it already.
OK, let's have a look through in the next room, the living room.
This is obviously currently being used as the living room. Working fireplace, that's a nice feature.
There's lots of possibilities really, dining room, sitting room, study area.
You see I was concerned that it wouldn't have enough period features for you or tradition, that you
quite like the charm of inglenooks and beams and you might find it too much of a blank canvas,
so I'm interested and I'm pleased that you do like it so much but how do you measure that?
How is that working for you?
I think we could stamp our own personality and tastes on it.
-I think it's the design and layout of the rooms...
-Yes, I think so.
..which is very attractive.
It's light and the rooms are big.
There's a lot more possibilities of doing what we want to do with it.
The good news is that I don't think upstairs is going to
disappoint you, which can sometimes be the case, particularly
with period properties, but here you get generous rooms upstairs as well. Let's have a look.
In total there are four bedrooms upstairs so plenty of space for an office for Sheila.
I promised you wouldn't lose out on space up here and you've got a big family bathroom.
It's a good size, isn't it?
-No work to do in here.
-And a bonus, I know you don't need them, but there are two en suites in the bedrooms as well.
So in fact you end up with almost three bathrooms.
-Pretty generous, I think.
Come on, let's go and have a look at them.
So this is one of the double rooms, in fact all the rooms you could fit a double in.
-Oh, that's good.
-But this one you can fit a good size double in.
It's got a lovely view, hasn't it?
-Out of the over the fields.
The en suite's just there.
Yeah, it's a good shower cubicle, isn't it?
-You don't feel you've lost out...?
-Not at all.
-On the bedroom space.
Good. And all of that and this isn't even the master. Let's go find it.
Along the hallway are three further bedrooms, a single
and decent sized double, but we're heading to the largest of them all.
Now this room could be the master,
and I know it doesn't feel that way with two single beds here
but this is why, have a look at this en suite.
Now, Sheila, I know an en suite was not only not on your wish list, it's not something you particularly like.
-It's really nice I think.
-Yes, it is.
But given your feelings, are we going to be ripping this out?
-Probably not, no.
-Probably not. It's a risk.
No, no, no. I could live with it.
You wouldn't have to do a lot of work on it when you first move in.
-But perhaps develop it as time goes on.
And it needs some storage space...
-Some storage units put in.
Well, I'd say it's top marks for the interior.
Let's see if we can match that outside.
Alan and Sheila are looking for a manageable garden and with its tidy
patio and lawn I can safely say this property delivers.
I think it's a good shape and size and it's got that wonderful apple tree right in the centre.
What do you think? Could it work for you?
I think this garden could be really because it's about the right size, not too big, not too uncontrollable.
We could develop a bit... .
-It's a beautiful property.
-All the space that you needed and a bit more.
-And a bit more, yes.
And you're even happy with the garden. I am so pleased but the big question is
-how much do you think it's worth?
-I would have said it's about...
I'd say 470,000.
I think it's above our budget as well. I'll go for 480,000.
-Right, so quite a bit above your budget.
At that price, could you stretch to it?
Well, I think we'd want to try and negotiate.
Well, let me put you out of your misery.
You're both right, it is above your budget, but only by 15 grand.
It's on the market at £465,000.
Not quite so bad. I don't think we'd need to spend a lot of money on it
because there certainly aren't anything major that needs to be done with it.
It's all sounding so positive.
I know you enjoyed wandering around so I'm going to
free you up to have a look around on your own without me and I will see you later on.
-What a result!
The room size and extra rooms definitely works for them.
I think they're definitely willing to give up on some
of the traditional features to give Sheila that proper kitchen.
At £465,000 this property is £15,000 over budget, but despite
being on the market for just a couple of months I've been assured there is room for negotiation.
Sheila gets her big kitchen diner, there are two reception rooms, and four bedrooms.
There's a large driveway and Alan gets a garage to store his DIY tools.
The village itself is quiet but popular Sudbury with amenities and transport links is close by.
However, to get there Sheila will either have to learn to drive or just go on Thursdays.
Look at all this worktop space, I can't believe it.
After having to pile everything up for years
-you can actually spread it out in here, couldn't you?
It seems to have everything we want.
It's certainly got enough space.
It's done out enough that we can move in without having to do any major work on it.
If we could negotiate a keener price then I think it's a serious consideration.
I really like this house, I feel quite taken with it.
There's lots of scope to look at each room and decide how
we'd like to use it and what we'd do with it. The location's nice as well.
I mean it's close to some villages and towns that we really like.
It's got a lot going for it.
Well, you two, if you do move here I don't think you're going to get lost are you?
A sign pointing the way home.
But which way shall we go now?
-I'd like to explore every direction.
-I think that way. Come on.
Once Sheila has made the move to Suffolk she's hoping to spend
more time on her hobbies and as one of her passions is wildlife we've sent her and Alan out into
the countryside to meet Max Lock, who's involved with the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project, which
has been established to protect and preserve this now very rare species.
From the 1930s to present day their numbers have dropped from
12,000 pairs to 4,000 and there are just 125 in Suffolk.
Agricultural barns, which are the preferred nesting ground of the barn owl,
it's in the name really, are fast disappearing thanks
to both a drop in farming and, of course, the ever-popular conversions for home buyers.
But the project is desperately trying to increase the population
by building them safe habitats in which to nest.
This is one of the boxes that we put up, about five years ago now, and
last year was the first year that we actually had barn owls nesting in it.
Do owls make their own nests?
A lot of the time they actually need somewhere man-made to actually get a decent nest.
Barn owls years ago used to nest in the
holes in trees but, of course, a lot of them trees are actually falling down or being cut down nowadays.
Raising awareness of the plight of the barn owl is key to the project's
success and one of the ways it gets the community involved is at the owl sanctuary in Stoneham Barns where
members of the public can get up close and personal with these magnificent birds.
This is Cobweb our male barn owl that we fly here at the centre.
He's about five years old this bird and he was actually one of our rescue birds, he got brought to us.
He was in a bit of a sorry state when we first got him, he was only about two days old.
Now one of the main features about this bird is the fact that he's pure white underneath.
The reason that he's pure white is because we're looking at a male barn owl.
The females are slightly darker and they have a little bit of black speckling on the chest.
Usually have a little bit of eyeshadow on,
and the way you can always remember it is always think of humans.
The girls wear the make-up, the boys stay completely clear like that, nice and simple.
I'll just go out here and I'll just let him go.
The sanctuary also offers the opportunity for volunteers to help out.
Great for a wildlife lover like Sheila.
From cleaning out the aviaries to preparing food or getting involved in the live shows.
And it's not just home to barn owls.
There are over 60 rescued birds of prey here.
There's always something to be getting on with.
And for now we'd better be getting on with the house hunt.
For the mystery house we're making Alan and Sheila really think
about their retirement so we're taking them to one of the most
popular villages in Suffolk to show them a house
that offers them the opportunity to start a business, and it brings the community right to their doorstep.
We're heading off to one of Suffolk's prettiest and largest villages, Long Melford.
At the heart of the Stour valley, the village has plenty of green
spaces, but it's the two and a half mile high street that is a big draw for both residents and tourists.
A fabulous mix of largely Tudor and Georgian architecture,
it now houses an abundance of independent retailers.
There's everything from family-run butchers to clothing boutiques to antiques shops, and we're heading
to one of five art galleries in the centre of the village.
This is the property, right on Long Melford road. Something a little bit different, isn't it?
Looks like a cross between a house and a shop.
It is. It was completely rebuilt.
It serves as a little sort of art gallery.
The point of this is that you could run a business from here
if you were so minded, and live in the heart of the village.
I think they're slightly stunned, but Sheila did say she was looking for a new career as well as a new
home so this could be the perfect combination if they're up to the challenge.
Now this is definitely worth taking a look at I think.
-All your living accommodation is on the next two floors...
-Oh, I see.
And really I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how much space you get up there.
So all of this floor would just be a work space, business area.
This is the beauty of it, Sheila. This space could be whatever you want it to be.
What do you think you would do with this space?
Well, I suppose you could have a tuition centre here for after school and weekends.
Rent out parts of it, perhaps for craft groups to come and get together and make things.
If you wanted to run a business here, you'd just have to pay the business rates,
-and they would depend on what you were doing.
-So a lot of flexibility
of what you could do. Alan, you've had plenty of time to think now, what would you do?
I wonder whether I could run a small tea shop from here,
-and be completely objectionable with all the customers.
-I think you'd do a thriving trade, Alan!
In all seriousness, would you?
I don't know. I don't know if I'd be able to do anything like that.
You really would have to be quite pleasant with people.
-It would be a stretch!
This mystery house could open up a world of possibilities for them,
but it's going to involve our old friend, compromise!
And we're on our way to the first one, upstairs in the kitchen.
Not an awful lot of storage space, is the first thing that comes to mind.
-It's smaller than we wanted, although you have got the dining area over there as well.
They haven't made the most of this area, although it's got the dining table, if you wanted extra storage,
-there's no reason why you couldn't just extend this kitchen.
Let's see the living room, just next door.
So right next door!
It's got a lovely view up the street.
It's quite pleasant. And it's quite a nice shape. But it's not all that big, actually.
If this is all your living space, it's not much.
If they want to increase the floor plan in here,
they could knock through to what's currently being used
as the master bedroom, keeping this floor purely as living accommodation with the family bathroom.
But that would leave them with just two bedrooms on the top floor.
So this is the room that I think could be probably a better master, actually.
You've got more space, that great view out there,
two wonderful built-in wardrobes, his and hers.
-They've managed to fit a whole sofa in here, so it's really quite a big room.
-I think you're right, there's a much more tranquil feel to it.
-And the view is 100% better than the roofs.
-Than looking at roof tiles!
-So this could really work. And...
I know this isn't on your wish list, yet we keep giving them to you,
another en suite. Have a look in there.
-That's big, isn't it for an en suite.
-Wouldn't have to do any work on it.
-No. It's all quite new.
-Yes, definitely warmer, isn't it?
Well that was a more positive response.
Could they be warming up to the idea of a home AND business?
There's just one last thing to check out and that's the outside space.
If Alan really wants manageable, I don't think
he'll find more low maintenance than this garden.
So here's your garden with this property. It's not huge,
but I think it's quite cute, really. Little al fresco areas.
They've made good use of having some flowers and plants.
You've seen all of the the mystery house now,
and I still think it's worth us discussing how much it would cost, because you don't know that!
So, who's going first? Give me a number. We'll start with you!
Well, it's difficult in a way, because obviously,
you've got the business premises down stairs, and I really don't know
what difference that would make to the value of the property.
-I'm going to say 395.
-395. OK. Alan?
I wouldn't be far off that.
-I think around 420.
-420. So, a little bit more.
It's actually on the market at 399,950.
-So that's a good 50 grand under your budget.
Certainly leaves you scope. Something for you to think about.
While you have the opportunity,
go back in and have a look around and imagine if you were
running the tea shop, even though it's something
you're probably unlikely to do. Go on!
I'll see you later on. Milk and two sugars, please!
Well there you go! It's the mystery house! We try. We throw a curveball,
sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But hopefully,
it's helped them crystallise exactly what they are looking for.
So at just a snip under £400,000, this business property
is 50,000 under budget. So the spare change could be
ploughed into starting up an enterprise.
The owner's accommodation comes with an open plan kitchen/diner,
a living room, three bedrooms
and a low maintenance courtyard garden.
The whole package offers a home,
as well as an alternative career path for Sheila.
But will it be one either of them want to go down?
It's certainly made us think that little bit out of the box, actually.
It's perhaps been a little bit too extreme.
We've just gone one step a bit too far, with a shop,
-small garden, small kitchen.
-I have got ideas about having some kind of business,
but I don't think it would be the kind of thing I would run
from a shop. I don't think I would want to be dealing with the public
all the time. I don't think that's me, really.
Right, that's it. You've seen all the houses now.
It's just starting to rain, so I'm going to find you somewhere dry
to sit down and think it all through,
and see if you can some decisions. Come on.
Sheila and Alan have been pretty forthright in their opinions
on this property search, so I've got a very good idea of which property
is their favourite. But now it's time to find out for real.
Good morning, guys! You've got breakfast already here.
We certainly had an interesting time together.
Your requirements were fairly straightforward - three bedrooms,
detached, decent size garden and kitchen.
I thought what would be tricky was getting the location right
and the mix between the traditional and modern.
We started with the Suffolk pink cottage.
Very traditional. What did you think from the outside?
Not particularly liking the pink,
but just thinking it was quite an appealing house,
you felt you wanted to go inside and have a look and see what it was like.
-Immediately it gives a feeling that it was cosy.
-Yeah. It had character.
-Quite taken with it, really.
Now, we went to the old police station. That was certainly an imposing property, wasn't it?
I liked it as soon as I saw it, really,
because I liked the raised position of it.
And it had a kitchen that was just the size you wanted, Sheila.
Lovely kitchen with a dining area alongside it.
A little bit on the bland side.
But I think that would be good, because you would go in
and just decide on how you wanted to use colour and give it your own personality.
The garden area was manageable, really. It wasn't too large.
You could sort of keep control of it.
For the mystery property, we took you smack, bang
into the middle of Long Melford for that property with a business. A real opportunity for you.
I don't think I really need to ask. Tell me how you felt about it.
We thought about it. But we couldn't see ourselves in a business opportunity there.
The rooms were quite small throughout the house.
Apart from downstairs where the shop was.
I'm still going to weigh up possibilities, but I don't think
using a kind of premises in that way is something that I'd want to do, really.
You've both been very clear as we've looked at the properties
as to your likes and dislikes, and I have a very strong idea
as to which one is your favourite and which one is
your least favourite. But, put everyone out of their misery
and let us know. Are you going to go for any of our properties?
-We're very tempted by the old police house. And I think we'd like to go back and have another look...
..at the house and the area in general.
It's been a real pleasure exploring the Suffolk countryside with you and helping you to find your dream home.
-With any luck, it won't be long before you're escaping to the country!
Well they may not have moved for 17 years, but Sheila and Alan
definitely know what they want and it looks like
it's that old police station in the Suffolk countryside.
And that's the house they're going to lock themselves away in for the next 17 years.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
Sheila and Alan revisited the old police station a couple of times,
but after much consideration, decided sadly it wasn't for them.
However, this house hunt has clarified where they want to be.
Long Melford or Sudbury.
So their search continues.
And if you want to escape to the country,
in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England,
and would like our help, please apply online.
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