Property series. Aled Jones helps a couple who have hardly lived together during 34 years of marriage to find a home in West Sussex, with an area for dog grooming.
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These historic buildings behind me are still standing because of one man's extraordinary vision
and a care for conservation way ahead of its time.
Brick by brick, these once endangered buildings were
dismantled, relocated and painstakingly reconstructed...
so which county inspired such architectural devotion?
Find out, as we Escape To The Country.
In today's show I'll be helping a couple who have hardly lived
together during their 34 years of marriage find a home in the country
where they can finally settle down together.
Sometimes we take them by surprise...
-I didn't expect this!
-It's certainly different!
This is huge!
Sometimes we take their breath away...
-We're just speechless, I think, it's so...
And sometimes we send them spiralling out of control...
I'm not keen on galley kitchens, to be honest, sorry!
Hide the knives!
Welcome to West Sussex.
I'm at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester.
Opened in 1970, this unusual museum is home to around
50 historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century
and it's all down to the extraordinary passion
for conservation of one man, Roy Armstrong.
Well, let's hope our tour of this county unearths
properties as beautiful as that one!
The South Coast county of West Sussex is bordered by Surrey
to its north with Hampshire and East Sussex to either side.
The chalky South Downs are its key geographical feature,
parts of which have been designated a new National Park.
The area's climate makes for good farming and many English wines
are produced here and of course the sea is never far away.
The county has a busy history, to which the many
architectural styles, stately homes and castles bear witness.
Arundel Castle, perhaps the most impressive, looks out across
the county's fast-flowing river, the Arun. The Romans called
the river The Trespasser, because of its tendency to flood.
Well away from the flood plain, however, there are many lovely houses to be found.
West Sussex offers beautiful countryside
within easy reach of London but despite its commutability,
this county has really managed to retain its sense of heritage,
but being able to escape the rat race and step back in time means
that property here really does come at a premium.
The price of a detached house is 38% above national average,
so with prices so high today's buyers are going to have to be
realistic about what they want.
This, though, is what you get for your money.
Fancy riding around your own equestrian country estate in Horsham?
It comprises a four bed family home with an orangery,
an obligatory swimming pool, stable, yard and paddocks.
I'm not horsing around when I say it's on the market for
1.4 million pounds!
For less cash and less animals,
this charming cottage in Pulborough could be yours.
Set within a beautiful landscaped garden,
it has three bedrooms and a large drawing room with vaulted ceiling.
It's being sold for £595,000.
How would you like to own
this two bedroom thatched cottage in Amberley?
Throw £395,000 down its well, and your wish may come true!
This Grade II Listed property with its exposed beams could be yours.
Such lovely properties there,
it really does bode well for today's househunters.
Shall we meet them?
Michael and Julie from Billingham in Teesside have been married
for 34 years, yet for the majority of their marriage
they've been forced to live apart because of Mike's job working
all over the world within the oil industry.
However, things are about to change as Mike
has recently returned to these shores to start a new job
in Staines where he currently rents this property.
But although Mike will be permanently based here,
Staines is 250 miles away from the family home,
so Julie has decided to leave this, her four bed semi in Teesside,
to make a new home together with Mike down south.
This move will be harder for me because I live up North
and my family are there, my grandchildren are there,
but the time has come when really we need to spend more time together.
There's no doubt it will be a wrench for Julie and her family.
I can't deny I'm going miss my mum and dad but after 30 years
of living apart I think it will be a great opportunity for them
to spend some quality time together. I just hope there's room for me!
But at least Julie will be taking
her four beloved Cocker Spaniels for company.
It will be great for the dogs and it will be great for us
to be together, to go walking, just pursuing pastimes that we both enjoy.
Considering that Mike and Julie will be living together full-time for the first time ever,
it's essential the house meets their requirements, so, what are they looking for?
In the next house I'm looking for a detached property
in a semi-rural, or rural, area
with a minimum of three bedrooms and a good sized garden...
And possibly an outbuilding outside which is somewhere I could use
as a grooming room for the dogs.
And that's not all!
Special features I'm looking for
will probably be period with some character.
I would like a large kitchen, possibly kitchen diner.
But how much have they got to spend on their new property?
We're not selling the property up in Teesside, however, I have made
other investments and we're going use them to finance the property.
The budget for the new property is £450,000.
However, if it ticked all the boxes, I'd be willing to go to £500,000.
Hopefully that will be enough to find the perfect escape for Mike,
Julie, Monty, Sasha, Ellie...
and let's not forget, Paisley!
Michael and Julie have had their fill of living separate lives
and are desperately seeking a three bedroom period property
with a couple of reception rooms and a decent size kitchen.
Close to Julie's heart are her four Cocker Spaniels, so ideally she'd
like a utility room or an outhouse to double-up as a grooming parlour.
It all seems pretty reasonable. I think it's time we go walkies!
We'll be stretching our legs around the western part
of Michael and Julie's chosen county... West Sussex.
Ideal for Julie's dogs with it being so close to the sea
and handy for Mike, who won't have far to commute.
In today's show we'll be viewing three fabulous country houses
that meet their requirements, but as usual, I won't be revealing
their price tags straightaway.
The last of those three will be the Mystery House,
which might make them think twice...
-Welcome to West Sussex. Looking forward to this?
-Yes, we are.
A massive move for you because you've never been away from Teesside.
You've been everywhere for the last 30 years!
How do you feel about that?
Leaving the grandchildren will be the hardest thing.
They're both only small at the moment but they can always come and visit!
Now what about the budget? It was originally £500,000?
We said £450,000 but obviously we've got the £500,000 if we can
tick all the boxes and we can see that that's the right place for us.
I have to say that you've chosen a pretty expensive area.
-Are you adaptable?
I knew you'd be adaptable, it's this one I'm worried about!
-Are you going be adaptable?
-Urm... if it's suitable for the dogs, yeah.
-They're important to you?
-The dogs are my family now!
Get rid of him!
I get the impression that it's dogs and then maybe you?
You're quite right, yes, I'm at the lower end!
-The dogs come first!
-I'm looking forward to it.
We've got some lovely properties to show you,
-including the mystery property. Come on, follow me!
After 34 years of marriage,
Michael and Julie are ready
to start this new adventure together.
With a budget of up to £500,000
their wish list is achievable,
so long as they compromise in certain areas.
They're hoping to get a three bedroom period house
with an area for grooming Julie's dogs.
What they're willing to sacrifice, however,
is up for grabs but something tells me
her precious pets won't be going without!
Mike, let me ask you, why did you concentrate on this area to move to,
because it still gives you quite a bit of a commute, doesn't it?
It's more concentrating on what we want to do in the future.
We want an area where we're going to settle down eventually.
We didn't want to be too close to London and this was the compromise.
Doing the extra commuting gives us
the availability to get to the beaches, etc.
Our first house is in Cocking, a much sought-after village
and a 46 mile commute to Mike's work in Staines.
Named after Cocker, a Saxon warlord,
Cocking is a quiet village within the South Downs.
It has a post office, tea room,
a church dating back to the 11th century and plenty of footpaths,
ideal for Mike and Julie to walk their dogs along.
The house I'm taking them to is in a prime spot within the conservation area of the village.
It's a Grade II Listed Tudor cottage, bursting with character.
Can you imagine walking the dogs up this nice country lane?
Yes, a great possibility!
Really sought-after, the properties here and I don't know why you're looking at me... that's the house!
Right. It looks very nice.
16th century, loads of period features, as you can imagine.
This one, I think!
-You've gone very quiet on me, straightaway!
What do you think?
It is... it's absolutely gorgeous!
It's fantastic, isn't it! It's a lovely looking building.
One thing I should tell you right away is that you don't get
the impression from standing here, but it is semidetached.
-Didn't realise that!
Right! You got all 'sergeant-major' on me, then!
-But you don't get that impression at all, do you?
It's the other side of the property so even when you're in there,
you really don't get the impression that you're semi-detached.
I've done enough talking out here. I think we should get in?
We're taking a bit of a risk with this house.
It's not the detached property they were after, but there are lots
of period features that they did want, so fingers crossed!
Come on in.
Close the door behind you.
-That's certainly different!
-Little downstairs bathroom.
-The current owners are using it as a kind of utility room
-as well because it's got a washer dryer there.
Let's not dwell in the hallway,
because there's plenty of other rooms to show you that are fantastic,
I think, anyway. Follow me, come on.
Methinks you'll like this room.
Oh, fantastic, yeah! I didn't expect this!
-That is certainly different!
-This is huge!
-So, kitchen diner/reception room?
-Yeah, reception room.
-All in one!
It's Grade II Listed and this was added on in 2002,
but if you're sympathetic with your extensions, you get away with it
and I would say that this has been done really sympathetically.
-Yeah, it has. Make a nice garden room.
-Yeah, that type of thing.
Can you imagine yourself living here?
-So far, yeah!
-I get the impression the dogs are part of the family
-and can imagine them scampering around in here.
-This is ideal.
They'd love it especially with the sofa here as well
because from the sofa to the biscuit cupboard, not too far.
So if the dogs are laying on that sofa, I'd better show you the sofa
-that you're going be laying on.
-Follow me. I'm going look after you!
If it's a cosy sitting room you're after...
Oh, I see what you mean!
-This is lovely! Look at that fire!
-Yes, the sort of thing I like.
-Inglenook, you've got a wood burner in there.
I just wanted to check one thing.
If you could stand there and you stand here.
Oh, we're all right! You're not going bang your head!
It is clear, is it?
-I'm fine, I'm fine.
You do expect that with period properties,
-so it wouldn't surprise me.
-I love this... it's cosy.
You could just imagine this in the winter, couldn't you?
This house is "majorly" growing on you!
To be honest, it is.
-It's lovely, it's quirky. It does have some lovely features.
We've ascertained that the dogs are going be very happy
in the breakfast room with their biscuits on the sofa,
-and they lounge here in front of the fire!
-They'll love that fire!
-Shall we find out where they're going sleep?
-There's three bedrooms for them.
So far, so good, but will the dogs take the large bedroom,
or will the master be left for the Master?
-You'd get four dogs on that bed!
-That bed is lovely!
-It's huge, isn't it!
-Plenty of room on there for four dogs!
-I'm surprised at that!
-I was joking!
-I know, the dogs are no joke!
These dogs are important, aren't they!
Very, very, yes, certainly are!
-What do you think of this room?
-I think it's lovely!
It's surprising how big it is for a period property.
I was very surprised. I wasn't expecting anything as big as this.
You don't get the feeling that you're semidetached?
-It doesn't give that feeling at all.
-Yeah, you're right.
-I'm glad you like it!
-Yeah, we do.
-Shall we have a look at the other bedroom?
Come on, then. I'll lead the way.
With the family bathroom on the ground floor, this shower room
is perfectly placed between the two bedrooms and
-the original beams continue in here.
-That's certainly got a slope on it!
-It has, yeah!
-You'll be sleeping all over the place here!
I'm quite surprised by the light
in this place because I expected it to be a lot darker.
And there's more!
Up a wooden stepladder is a converted loft space,
perfect for the grandkids when they come to stay.
It's time to head outside where there's plenty of room
for Michael, Julie and their four legged friends to run around.
For a property with sloping floors,
you'd expect a garden that slopes as well, wouldn't you?
Yeah, I'm quite impressed. It's well-established, isn't it?
There's nothing to do and it's not overlooked.
It's very private. You've got established apple trees,
-you've got cherry trees, hazelnut.
-This is certainly private here.
You don't get the impression that it's a semi at all.
-You've got a little outbuilding there as well.
-Great! Grooming room!
-Why not, if you fancy it!
-OK, let's talk money.
Don't look like that!
-I'm nervous, it's a habit.
-The fun bit... what do you think it's on the market for?
With it being a semi,
I'm going knock it down a little bit so I'm going to say 435.
-OK. How about you, Michael?
It's the area that's probably the thing that's really going to pull this up,
so I'm going to say 445.
It's actually on the market for £499,500.
-The area's playing into it a lot.
-Very close to the top of your budget.
It was originally on for £550,000. Has that changed anything?
It's not a "no" if I can see I can make some improvements,
-so I've got to keep that in mind.
-No pressure to make your mind up just yet.
Go and have another look around the house and garden.
-I'll come and find you!
Well, who'd have thought it!
Hands up if you thought that Julie was going be the difficult one
and actually she really loves the property!
Michael sees the positive, but I think we need to work on him.
We didn't think it was going be a walk in the park, did we?
This 16th century property is at the top of Mike and Julie's budget
but it does have the large kitchen and period features
they were looking for and although it is semidetached,
it has three bedrooms and a large garden
with enough space for the grandkids and the dogs to let off steam.
It certainly has potential to make into a nicer kitchen,
you could make a breakfast bar around that side.
It's got so much potential, such a large space,
-It would be... you can do anything you want with it, can't you!
I really like this room. It's cosy, isn't it, and look at this fireplace!
Yeah, that's absolutely gorgeous!
You can imagine in the winter the heat this will actually give off
and it's even got a bread oven in as well!
I like the squareness of the room.
You certainly get a good feel in there, it's...
-It's a decent size, yet it's cosy.
I think this house could be a contender.
The kitchen area is absolutely smashing.
You could do anything you want with that.
I'm not so keen on the upstairs, but the garden is ideal.
It's at the top end of the bracket for me and there's certainly some
work to do on the house to bring it up to where I would want it.
Aah, there you are. You're smiling, that's a good sign!
Come on, let's get on with it, plenty more to see!
Character features are always top of our escapees' wish lists
so it's a real privilege to come
to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Set in 50 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside,
this former Museum of the Year is home to nearly 50 historic buildings
all rescued from destruction. The museum is the legacy
of historian and teacher, Roy Armstrong. In the 1960s,
Armstrong saw that the rush to redevelop was sweeping away
our knowledge of how to use local materials and building techniques
in order to preserve our architectural heritage.
I'm here to find out more from the museum's director, Richard Harris.
-Great to meet you, Richard.
-Nice to meet you, too.
Thanks for having us. What a fascinating place!
It's a really beautiful place. People love coming here.
It's open, free and fascinating to see the buildings, yeah.
Tell me a bit about the history of the place.
We opened in 1970 and it was really started by a group of enthusiasts
who were fed up with seeing medieval farmhouses being destroyed
in the urge for development after the War and so they thought that if they
were to dismantle them and rebuild them here,
a sort of a graveyard but also makes it interesting for people
to come and see how the buildings were.
We're trying to give people the opportunity to explore old buildings
-in a realistic context.
-Can we have a little wander?
-Yeah, let's have a look round.
The museum is recognised as being of national importance.
With its collection of market halls, schools and shops dating as far back
as the 13th century, 146,000 visitors wandered through
these ancient structures last year, experiencing a tangible sense
of what it was like to live in medieval England.
Aah, this is impressive!
This is one of our earliest and sort of flagship exhibits.
It's a very common type of good quality farmhouse in the Weald.
Dates to about 1500 and it has an open hall, that is,
the fire doesn't have a chimney. You've got a big window
at that end that lights the high table at the upper end of the hall.
You can smell the fire!
Yes. We burn a fire in here all through the winter and of course
there's no chimney so the smoke rises and blackens all the beams and
in order to introduce some element of light and colour, they used textiles
in front of the darkened walls,
that's common through all medieval houses. In the 17th century when
the fires were put underneath chimneys, then you could have whitewashed walls
so houses changed entirely in the 17th century from black to white.
Nowadays these buildings would almost certainly be listed
but in Armstrong's day their future was far from secure.
So if Roy Armstrong was around today and he had the vision
to set up this museum now, would it be possible with all the listings and everything?
Probably not. In a sense, we're victims of our own success.
We very, very rarely get offered buildings of any quality.
This unique collection is a lasting and fascinating tribute
to the passion and dedication of one man,
but I must drag myself back into the 21st century and continue our hunt
for a period home a little more suitable for Mike and Julie.
As afternoon turns into evening,
our first day of property hunting is over.
Michael, Julie and her four dogs from Teesside are all looking
for a new home in West Sussex. So far they've seen one house
and coming up, we get their tails a-wagging!
-I don't believe it!
Oh, this is absolutely gorgeous, it really is!
But the mystery house has Julie totally barking up the wrong tree.
It looks like a pub!
Looks like a pub?!
So, it's a new day in the search to find Michael and Julie their
dream property here in West Sussex.
How silly of me! It's a new day in the search to find Michael, Julie
and their four Cocker Spaniels their dream property here in West Sussex.
They want a three bedroom house with plenty of character
and as we saw yesterday, that's totally achievable,
but they don't do small rooms, they want lots of space!
I'm afraid space plus their budget
is a sum that doesn't add up in this county!
Our next house is in Felpham,
a coastal village with a population of around 10,000.
Felpham was once home to the poet William Blake
who described the village as "the sweetest spot on earth".
It's right on the coast, perfect for walking the dogs and
taking a dip. The house we're taking them to see is Grade II Listed.
It's a 17th century thatched cottage.
Well, they did ask for a period property!
You're here to see this.
-That is spectacular!
-That's something else, isn't it!
Yes, oh, I like that!
-Do you like it?
-I love it!
What about the fact that it is on a road? Not a really busy road.
-I would say that's a minus.
-But inside you'll see
it's a perfect marriage of old and new, it really is.
-Shall we get in there?
-Yes, I'd love to.
-Come on, then.
It seems like love at first sight!
Fingers crossed their passion won't wane as I show them around.
Come on in.
The current owners have it as an office, open fire.
This is really nice, yeah.
And you're clearing your beams, just about, which is good.
-Come on through to the snug.
-Oh, this is great, isn't it!
Really, really nice.
Hey, this is a good reaction! You like it?
Yeah, I do like it, lovely. Nothing not to like, is there?
It's absolutely gorgeous!
-Lovely fireplace there as well.
-Would you keep this as a snug?
And keep it away from the dogs, let them play elsewhere
and we can come out of the way. This is lovely!
You're telling me there's a room
-that the dogs aren't allowed to go into?
-It's more that...
-It won't work, no!
It won't work! Scrap the idea, she says! You've gone a bit quiet!
I'm just amazed, actually, I'm speechless! It's lovely!
Oh, good. If you like the snug, you're going to love the sitting room!
-This is absolutely gorgeous! Look at that!
-I'm a bit worried
-that fireplace isn't big enough for you!
-That's big enough
-for all four dogs!
-Oh, this is tremendous!
You can almost feel history in this house?
You can feel the history in this house.
Those doors make such a difference,
-the doors leading onto the garden, they let so much light in.
It's not gloomy.
It really was a vision that I had,
yeah, yeah. This is what I was looking at.
I think I'm going to cry! I thought he was going make a speech then!
I'm really pleased!
You can imagine yourself here, then?
-Yes, I could as well. It's lovely.
Sorry, what was that?
Yeah, I could!
We've only seen two rooms. Shall we carry on with the tour?
-Yes, that would be good.
-Come on, then, follow me.
Julie seems lost for words!
Things are going well, and there's more to see.
If I remember rightly, you wanted a farmhouse country kitchen?
-You've found one!
-Tick! it's good, isn't it!
I like these flagstones.
These flagstones are fantastic and they'll be great
for the dogs as well, coming in from the garden.
There's nothing you would want to change even, is there? It's spot-on.
You've gone a little bit quiet on me, come on, tell me how you feel?
I think we're just speechless, I think, it's so...
So right, it is...
It's beautiful, it's totally amazing, it really is!
Even doing your washing up, look at the view out of that window
-into your garden! You've moved in already, I think!
-I have, I have!
I think we have, yeah.
-OK. Onward. You wanted a utility, didn't you?
-There we are.
I don't know whether we need one now, but!
Well, whether you need one or not, you're going get one!
Aah, yeah! And it's so in line with...
Very good size this is as well, isn't it!
You've got a downstairs toilet there as well, wash basin.
This would make a great dog room!
-Good, good. You've seen downstairs.
-Time to go upstairs.
Can it possibly get any better for Michael and Julie?
Upstairs there's a beautiful shower room.
Slate tiles complement the ancient beams and modern fittings just perfectly.
There's a double bedroom encased with more original timbers
and I can't wait for them to see the spectacular master bedroom!
I don't believe it!
Oh, this is absolutely gorgeous, it really is!
-Stunning, isn't it!
-That is, yes.
-What's the matter, Julie?
-I can't get over it! It's lovely!
So you can imagine this as your master bedroom?
It's fantastic, isn't it?
This property is in the heart of the village.
Yeah. I noticed it doesn't have the rural aspect to it.
Where it is located
is a compromise overall but it's a compromise I'd go for.
And also, you know, you are on the road, but there's a gate,
so the dogs can't just leave the property and get onto the main road.
-That is the most important factor.
-You're loving this, then?
The only thing this room could do with, if you asked me,
would be an ensuite...
lucky it's got one, eh?
That is an ensuite!
-That is an ensuite and a half, isn't it?
It's perfect, isn't it? You wouldn't have to change anything.
-This is a Jack 'n' Jill bathroom.
-D'you know why?
-There's another bedroom!
-Bedroom three through there.
This is your third bedroom and actually it's got its own staircase.
It's really a double room, isn't it?
Yep. We've seen the inside of the house and I'm guessing
from the smiles and the "oohs" and the "aahs" that you like it...
We do, yes.
But I also know that the outside space is important to you.
Yeah. The outside space is crucial.
-Crucial! You're putting a lot of pressure on me now!
-That's fine. The outside space is lovely. I'll show you.
-It's handy having these little stairs.
-This really is unique.
There's plenty to get their pulses racing here but before
Mike and Julie take a breather, I want to take them back through
the big kitchen to show them the equally big garden.
Lovely little seating area here.
That's a lovely little suntrap as well, isn't it?
-It is, isn't it!
-This is your garden.
Couldn't ask for anything more than that, plenty big enough.
This really works. This gives us plenty of room,
nice and secluded, excellent.
There's plenty of room in there to do the grooming as well.
That's what I thought, and there's loads of storage as well.
There's two floors, really,
you can store all your junk in the first floor.
That's excellent, very, very good.
What do you think it's on the market for?
I think it's going be way past our budget, to be honest.
-OK. I'll go for 510.
-I'll go for...
-I'd go with more than that.
-Go on, then.
-I can't believe how much you like it!
-I love it, it's great!
You love it, OK. Will you still love it when I tell you that
it's currently on the market for £525,000, slightly over your budget.
I was expecting it was going be in that region.
Is it worth that extra 25 grand?
Yes, I can see it being.
If we could try and find that bit extra,
then it would be definitely be worth a shot, this one.
Certainly worth putting an offer in and see what comes of it.
If you're thinking about making offers, I think you should
-go and have another look round.
-Enjoy the house. Imagine yourself in it.
You see, that's one thing I really can do...
I can imagine them in that property, two very happy customers.
Even when I told them it was 25 grand over their budget,
they were still kind of smiling!
I think we've got a winner in this one!
It is £25,000 over their budget of £500,000
but Mike and Julie are still keen.
It offers just about everything
they've asked for.
A detached property with
a large kitchen, period features
and three bedrooms.
The utility room would make
the perfect space for dog grooming
and the garden is big enough for
all four of them to run around in.
I must admit, I'm very, very impressed.
Yeah, I can see us here.
This really is the vision that I had.
It's a fabulous house.
There's nothing really in it to do, there's nothing to change,
it's completely to my taste, anyway, and I'm sure it is to Mike's as well.
It would be fantastic for the dogs.
This room's definitely got the wow factor for me!
Yeah, I agree with that... it certainly is lovely.
Airy rooms, light, you've got everything in here.
I love them windows as well!
This house is great.
There are a couple of downsides, one of them being the road outside.
It's got so many plus points and it has tremendous gardens
out the back, good size garage for meeting all our expectations.
Come on, you two. I know you wanna stay in there.
To be fair, the wish list for this house wasn't that unrealistic
so we've been able to show our couple properties with bags of character and history
and their reactions have been quite favourable.
Let's shake things up a little, shall we?
Let's see if Michael and Julie do modern.
So we're off to the mystery property.
Looking forward to it?
-Michael, what would you like it to be?
Well, certainly a barn conversion would be the type of thing
I would have expected it to be and that would quite appeal to me.
What would you really, really hate it to be?
So long as it's got potential there
to do something with it, I'd consider anything.
-Except a tent!
-Except a tent! Oops!
We're nearly there.
Our mystery house is in the hamlet of Lyminster,
just south of the village of Burpham.
Burpham is a former Saxon village whose name derives from
the Anglo-Saxon word "burp" or "fortification".
It has stunning views across the West Sussex countryside
and its magnificent church dates back over 800 years.
Slightly younger is the century-old cricket pitch on which
the legendary WG Grace has played.
I'm taking Mike and Julie to see something that might
just be out of their comfort zone. It's a 100 year old detached
chalet-style property with a surprising interior.
I'll tell you what, I've noticed that you're walking a bit slower to the mystery property!
Yeah, we're a bit worried about this one!
You said it might be a barn conversion...
-This is your mystery property.
It looks like a pub!
Looks like a pub! Is that what pubs look like in Teesside!
-Or a tea room, then!
-A tea room!
-I'd go with that.
-I can see that.
It's the mystery property because...
-it's really modern inside.
Current owners have totally refurbished it eight years ago
and then added another extension on in 2002.
-Got to keep an open mind.
Good for the dogs, nice and rural so far?
Yeah, very good for the dogs.
Okey-doke. Shall we go in?
Julie might not have been won over by our mystery home's exterior,
but hopefully she'll be pleasantly surprised by its modern interior.
Come on into your modern house in the country.
So, what do you think?
It's very, very modern, isn't it?
-It's certainly different.
-It is different.
-Good different, bad different?
-Good from you and reasonable from you?
-Yes, it is.
I'm sorry, it's got competition!
-Yeah, OK. We're talking about the last property we saw?
-The last property we saw, yeah, but...
-Do you like this?
I like this, yes, I think it is lovely.
-Let me show the kitchen first of all.
You've got Welsh slate here.
This is your galley kitchen.
-It's a galley kitchen.
-How do you feel about that?
I'm not keen on galley kitchens, to be honest, sorry!
Hide the knives!
Why don't you like galley kitchens?
I just don't like the narrowness of them. I prefer a square kitchen where
you can actually put a table and it does have a breakfast bar
-but it's just not the same. It doesn't have the same appeal.
But we've only seen this, so let's see what the rest of it is like
and there's always potential to do things with it.
This is the Mike I'm used to - positive!
Let's go upstairs, shall we?
Mike's thankfully keeping his options open but I'm afraid
we're facing an uphill task with this one!
So upstairs for your master bedroom.
-This is different, isn't it?
Tell you what I do like about this.
-The dogs will have a job getting up here!
Oh, really! Yeah, I think they would a bit!
You've found a positive... well done!
I think they would have a bit of trouble climbing up. I did!
However, the howling might kill us off!
-What do you think?
-The stained glass window is absolutely... that's lovely!
-You've got a little en-suite.
-It's quaint, it's quirky.
-But overall, can you imagine this being your master bedroom?
I'd be struggling with that, to be quite honest. There are some nice features here but overall...
-It's not what we're looking for, is it?
-OK. Do you want to look at the bedrooms?
you've got a good size family bathroom through there,
-free-standing bath, again the Welsh slates on the floor.
Off the main living area, there are two further bedrooms...
a single overlooking the garden
and a double which shares a bathroom with the fourth and final bedroom.
-And you come through to a good sized double.
-This is nice, this is lovely.
-It is, isn't it?
-This is quite pleasant, this.
-Yes, very pleasant.
-I like the French doors, so...
-It's really nice.
-I'll be quite honest with you,
-I would prefer to be in this room than the one upstairs.
If you make this your master bedroom, you'll like what's behind this door.
-It's a wet room.
-It's seriously impressive, that, isn't it?
-That's good, yeah.
-Really nice shower, Welsh slate again.
-That works OK.
You're probably wondering where you could put your plasma screen?
-That would be interesting!
-I'll show you.
All right... I see what you mean!
-This is different!
-That would certainly suit that!
-This is a huge family room, isn't it!
-It is, isn't it!
-Yes, I like this.
-Why not make this your kitchen?
-We could do!
There's nothing to say that that's got to be your kitchen.
if this was your kitchen, it would be a pretty impressive one!
It would be impressive, yeah. It is a nice room this, isn't it?
-Can you imagine yourself here?
-I don't think I could imagine myself here all the time.
It does give you the feeling of being a holiday-type place... it doesn't feel like a home.
No, it doesn't.
OK. Well, shall we go outside?
-The garden's lovely and plenty of space for dog-grooming.
-I knew that would put a smile on your face! Come on!
-You've got to like this, haven't you?
-Yeah. This is very nice, isn't it? It's a good size.
What I love is that there are so many hidden pockets in this garden.
-You've got a gorgeous barbecue area. What I want to show you is that outbuilding.
-Ideal for doggie grooming.
-Ideal, it's just the perfect size.
-Looking back at the house here, it looks fantastic, doesn't it?
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. What do you think it's on the market for?
-Do you want to have a think about that?
This place is not for you at all, is it!
You just don't want to even linger!
OK, well, I've taken into consideration where it is.
I think it'll probably fetch a bit more than that. I'd say 465.
Are you sure about that?
-I think it's going to be more.
-You think it's going to be more?
-Yeah, it's going to be more.
Well, I can tell you that you're both wrong... it is more.
It's currently on the market for £499,000.
So we were quite way off there, weren't we!
-Well, you've got more exploring to do, so have a look around and I'll catch up with you later.
With an asking price of just under
half a million, this ultra-modern house slips in just under budget.
What it lacks in character features,
it more than makes up for with its light, spacious and hi-spec interior,
not always found in older properties.
Many people would yearn
for such a stylish house in a rural location,
but it's obvious that Mike and Julie only do period...
I would certainly have preferred it be a lot wider.
Yeah, I prefer the country kitchen style, which would be a lot squarer,
to be able to put a table in the middle.
Yeah, that would make sense.
The kitchen is far too small as a galley. I'd certainly need it double the size of that.
We're more into the farmhouse, certainly with it being a rural area,
and also it appears to me to be more like a holiday home.
The house has been tastefully modernised and it's bang up to date.
We were looking more for a countryside period property which this obviously isn't.
Stay! Sit! Stay!
What an obedient dog!
-It certainly looks it!
-It must be trained by you!
-It must have been!
You've seen all the properties, so it's decision time. Don't look so worried.
Shall we find somewhere to have a chat?
Michael and Julie's house tour is finally over
and there's plenty to think about.
Well, it's decision time. It's going to be very interesting to hear what Michael and Julie have to say.
They seem to like the area, they seem to like some of the properties,
but do they like it all enough to want to Escape To The Country?
Let's find out.
What a beautiful way to end a beautiful house hunt. Here we are in the South Downs.
Let's talk about the properties.
-Start with the 16th century one. What did you make of that?
-I like that.
When we first saw that one, I thought it was going to be far too small but it was quite Tardis-like inside.
However, it does need some work doing to it to bring it up to
what we want it to be but on the whole, I think that was a very nice house.
You weren't sure to start with if you were going to move down from Teesside.
-And this house was the start of your transformation process, I think, really?
-Because you were quite surprised by the size of the rooms.
-Yes, I was.
-But you weren't?
-I thought it was all right, that property.
There were a couple of things we didn't like and the fact that it was semi-detached.
I appreciate the fact that when you're in it, you couldn't actually tell that
but you do know that you've got them neighbours about.
The good things about was it was access to the South Downs was good
and you were in the right area.
-You were really conscious that you might make a noise with the dogs.
That is a big issue because we would hate to find a property that we love,
only to find we have neighbours that don't like dogs and then we're back to square one again.
But you know, was the 16th-century house a contender for you?
-I wouldn't rule it out.
-I think I was more taken with it than what Michael was.
-OK. Let's move on to the thatched house.
-That was good.
-The smile's back!
The thatched house is a dream house.
It totally was a dream house. I mean, that everything that you could ever possibly want.
The only thing I could say against that was that it was on the road,
which was something I wasn't really looking for
with having the dogs but we wouldn't rule it out because of that,
because I think we could make it safe so that the dogs were fine.
What about the house itself? You were bowled over?
That's it... that was my dream, so I was really happy with it.
It's over budget. Is that going to be an issue?
I would be willing to stretch if I needed to, to go that extra mile.
It really meant that much to me, that one.
-You probably can't say that for the mystery property?
The problem was, although there were some nice features,
I would class that as a holiday home and that's not what we're looking for.
It did have a nice room at the back, the staircase was absolutely lovely.
-It was a bit quirky up the stairs. It didn't appeal to me.
-It was just too modern, wasn't it?
If I was gonna push you, then, are you gonna go for one?
What we'd like to do is actually go back to the area and have a look more round the area...
Where the thatched one was.
We've been very lucky with the weather - it's been glorious.
It's about to pour down, I think, so we should fold up our blanket and finish these drinks inside.
-It's been fantastic meeting you.
-Good luck with your move, and I hope you make it down.
-You're lovely people.
When I first met Michael and Julie, I don't know about you
but I got the impression this was a move for Michael and Julie was along for the ride.
I don't think she was considering moving from Teesside,
but what a difference it's made to her actually being here,
so much so that they're thinking of increasing their budget, so with that sort of commitment
and adaptability, it's only a matter of time until they're here enjoying the country life of West Sussex.
Until next time, goodbye.
Great news! Mike and Julie have put in an offer on the thatched cottage which has been accepted,
and they're looking forward to finally moving in together for good after 34 years of marriage!
If you'd like to Escape To The Country and would like our help,
please apply online -
Series in which prospective buyers are helped to find their dream home in the country.
Aled Jones helps a couple who have hardly lived together during their 34 years of marriage find a home together in the country. They have chosen to settle down in West Sussex, and with a budget of £500,000, they hope to find a three-bedroom period house with an area for grooming the dogs. Their wish list is achievable, as long as they compromise in certain areas.