Property series. Jules Hudson helps a couple of self-confessed urbanites swap the big smoke for a country pile in Somerset with somewhere to put a swimming pool.
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It's not every day I wear a hard hat when visiting country houses
but I'm standing on top of one of the most important country houses
in the West of England and it's covered by this,
the largest free-standing temporary roof structure
currently up in the UK at the present time.
So where are we? Well, stick around and I'll show you.
Today, we're helping self-confessed urbanites
swap the big smoke for a big country pile.
And it's going to be a journey of self-discovery.
I really dislike ponds.
-Yeah, I really...
You didn't know this. I really dislike ponds.
Oh, I think that's a great feature.
We've got really hot properties...
I've never had stairs up to a bed before.
Stairway to heaven! I mean, come on!
-And truly impressive plots.
-This is a wind-up.
-Are you sure?
-I'm not winding you up.
But will any of it be enough to lure them away from city life?
Lurking behind this somewhat surreal structure is Tyntesfield House,
on the edge of Bristol, here in the West of England.
It's currently in the middle of a £4.5 million conservation project
thanks to the work of the National Trust.
Originally, the whole thing was built around 1863
by the Gibbs family and they made their money
trading guano, or bird droppings, from South America -
very popular in late 18th century fertiliser.
As you can see, they did pretty well at it,
which confirms the old adage, where there's muck there's money.
Once called Avonside, the area surrounding Bristol and Bath in
West England is today made up of a number of different authorities,
including Bath and North East Somerset,
South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset.
At its heart is England's sixth largest city, Bristol.
Once the South West's most important seaport, today the shipping industry
has all but shipped out, leaving in its wake a vibrant,
bustling and increasingly trendy city.
To the west is historic Bath, a World Heritage Site
and without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the UK.
Straddling the River Avon, exemplary Georgian architecture,
Roman baths and more than its fair share of boutique shops,
cafes and gastro pubs keep it at the top of the popularity stakes,
with around 3 million visitors dropping in each year.
A stone's throw the from these cities is prime countryside.
From the Mendip Hills to the Cheddar Gorge,
farming is still the mainstay of the economy.
If you're after a good mix of urban and country life,
then this is the place to be.
We've all come up against the property slump, but there are
some quite interesting signs here in the West of England.
In North Somerset, property prices, it's thought, are up by 1.4%
so indeed it may be an area that could lead the way
for the greater recovery in the months ahead.
All good news if you want to buy and invest here and as ever,
there are plenty of properties on offer.
Take a look at some of these.
If Victorian Gothic architecture is your bag,
then this country house in the Mendips could be for you.
Period splendour and contemporary styling
are combined and with an impressive six bedrooms
and four reception rooms, there's no lack of space.
Outside, paddocks and a summer pavilion complete the package,
but it'll set you back a rather regal £1.5 million.
For barn conversion enthusiasts,
we've found this four-bedroom stone granary
in the sought-after village of Shepton Montague.
The country kitchen comes complete with a must-have range
and there are two sizable reception rooms.
It's all set in a third of an acre with breathtaking rural views.
However, the asking price of £550,000 shouldn't knock the wind out of you.
And if your budget won't stretch that far, £300,000 will purchase
this traditional four-bedroom stone cottage in Shepton Mallet.
The two reception rooms are cosy and characterful and the lawn
and patio garden is the perfect spot to soak up some Somerset sunshine.
So as you can see, there is plenty on offer here to tempt you, some really pretty properties.
Let's meet today's buyers, who are determined to make the West of England their home.
John, an IT specialist, and Jenny, a reflexologist,
have lived in a five-bedroom Edwardian home in Balham,
for the last eight years, but a move to the country has been on the cards for a while.
For one of them, at least.
I've been looking for a very long time, but I've just been trying
to convince John that a move out to the country would be a good idea.
But I've been looking to move out to the country
for a good five, six, years, perhaps.
John's entertaining an urban escape and they've homed in on Somerset,
but he's not quite ready to quit the city completely.
Ideally, we'd buy a property that we'd like in the country,
but also retain a small flat in London so that as part
of my working life I can spend one or two nights a week in London.
Good transport links into the capital will be key,
but what else are they looking for in a location?
We're looking for the best of both worlds
in terms of we do want a bit of life, but more privacy and a bit more space.
I still want to be close enough to
a village which has got a pub, for example, or a couple of pubs,
or close to Bristol where you'd be able to get into restaurants and so forth quite easily.
These two obviously like the trappings of city living, so why the big move?
Gardening is my main passion and I've only got a small garden here in London
so I'm ready for a place that has got room for a veggie patch,
a few fruit trees and hopefully even room for a couple of pigs.
An absolute must for me would be land.
We're not looking for a property that is done for us when we walk in,
but by buying a property with land,
we're able to maybe build some outbuildings,
maybe look even building a swimming pool, something outrageous like that.
So Jenny is hankering after the good life and John wants
to be a landed gent, but what about the bricks and mortar?
The ideal style of house for us is a period property.
We definitely aren't looking for a new build.
Something which is light and airy, so a tiny thatched cottage
is not really what we're looking for, but perhaps a barn conversion.
For would-be rock hero John,
space and soundproofing are definitely going to come in handy.
I've been playing the guitar for about 20 years now.
Been in a couple of bands.
Really looking from the new house to have
a dedicated music room so I can play guitar.
Rocking might be at the top of John's wish-list, but what are the priorities for Jenny?
The kitchen is the most important room in the house for us.
But for different reasons. I love cooking, so I spend most of my time doing that.
And we've lots of parties and, for me, it's the social epicentre.
So, looking at the new house, we're looking for somewhere that has
the kitchen as the fulcrum of the main living space, really.
Before we can home in on a new property,
they need to know what price they'll get for the house they're in
so we've invited a local agent round to give them a valuation.
This is a fantastic Edwardian house.
Five great-sized bedrooms. Great location.
Hyde Farm is well sought-after.
I'd value this house at £750,000.
Bearing in mind they want to keep a flat in London,
what's the final spend for Somerset?
Our budget for the new property is £600,000 to £650,000.
So despite their handsome budget of £650,000,
I somehow think that whatever house we're able to find
has to be pretty special to tempt John out of London,
but they are agreed on wanting something
with plenty of period charm,
lots of space for entertaining and great big open-plan living.
And they want somewhere for their friends to come and stay when they visit them.
And all of that within 20 to 25 minutes of either Bath or Bristol.
It's quite a list.
So we've focused the property search around
each of those cities, taking in South Gloucestershire and Somerset.
We've lined up a fantastic array of period homes and gardens
for them to view and as always, I'll be asking them to guess the price.
Last but not least, we'll head to the mystery house,
but will it be the rural dream or an urbanite's nightmare?
-Good morning, Jenny, morning, John. How are you?
-This move, are you feeling a bit daunted, John?
-A little bit.
I'm very used to London but moving out to the country,
we're getting a bit older so work-life balance is something we're looking at.
You both look very young! What are you talking about?
And what are you really hoping to achieve in your new country life?
Lots more outdoor living.
I'm keen on gardening so that's my main drive.
For me, bigger ground floor space,
-cos in London you don't get that.
And there's a lot of things I like to do. I play the guitar.
I'd like to get a music room.
So make lots of noise?
And don't upset the neighbours.
So much for the quiet, country life.
There is going to be crash metal going on.
-Well, we're near Glastonbury!
Remind me of how much you want to spend on this move?
We're looking at keeping a little bit back for a small property
in London so we've got about £650,000 to spend in this area.
That's not bad! And you're keeping some back, wow!
-A little bit.
-A tiny bit.
We've got some very interesting properties lined up for you.
-I hope we can persuade you that country life is the way forward.
-It's starting well.
-Let's see what we can find you. Come on.
Well, there's no denying John and Jenny have a healthy budget
of up to £650,000, but they do have a hefty wish-list to go with it.
All this and they want to be somewhere to Bristol or Bath
for nightlife and transport links.
It's just as well these two aren't averse to doing some major DIY.
How do you feel about the idea of a bit of border-hopping?
We're struck upon Somerset because it is easy to get
into London and also it has the right quality of life.
I don't have an understanding of how good Gloucester or Wiltshire is,
but happy to look at them.
Well, that's good news, as we're kicking off today's property search
in South Gloucestershire and heading for Pucklechurch,
which at just eight miles from both Bath and Bristol,
should be ideally situated.
It's a thriving village with one shop,
a post office and most importantly for John, I suspect, three pubs.
The village green and community centre
play host to many sporting events and social clubs.
And there's no scarcity of period houses here,
with 45 traditional 17th and 18th-century stone cottages lining the streets.
However, our first property is even older.
It's a 15th-century Grade II listed barn in the heart of the village.
Let's start with this one, shall we?
What do you think?
-It is stunning.
-That is gorgeous.
-Very nice indeed.
So we've got this, effectively, courtyard development, really.
A gated courtyard development.
You've got one, two, three neighbours, effectively,
and then there's you, but you get the lion's share of it in this extraordinary building.
This is very good start.
-I love it. Yeah.
-I do like it.
Are we persuading you that country life might work for you, John?
Moving in the right direction.
Let's move in there. Come on.
That's a good enough start for me and I have a feeling
they're going to be equally bowled over by the interior.
The barn was converted 2003 and it's appeared in more than one
interior-design magazine, it's not lived in at the moment
so it's somewhat lacking in furniture.
Right, in you come.
What do you think?
-As you can tell, it's empty.
So you can, I hope, imagine what you'd do with this space
without the clutter that one would normally see in a place like this.
You wanted a big floor plan.
-It goes on, look.
-I love this staircase as well.
I hadn't noticed that when we first walked in.
That's the thing that dominates the whole room!
Again, you could go to town on how you furnish it. The sky is the limit.
I particularly love the beams, I have to say.
That's something that I keep being drawn to, the ceiling height
and the beams with the glass making it contemporary.
I can just imagine decorating it at Christmas time.
What, with a long ladder?
Jenny, I know you want a nice big kitchen/diner.
-And you'd expect this place would have one.
It's the one thing you'll have to really compromise on, OK?
-I'm open to compromising.
-Let's see what you'd do with it.
Come and have a look through here.
-Right, so you were...
-I was joking.
-Yeah, that'll do.
-It's all right, isn't it?
-It's all right(!)
I'll compromise! This, the... Wow.
-And the stove...
Yes, this will do.
-I can work with this.
This is definitely not my domain so I don't know what to say.
Space is definitely something this barn has plenty of.
At the opposite end of the living room is the guest wing
with two bedrooms on the ground floor
and a bedroom and bathroom upstairs, accessed via its own staircase.
But we're taking the main stairs to the mezzanine.
-Look at this. It's great, isn't it?
Built in situ, this.
-It gets you up to here, which...
I don't know what you'd do with this space, really. You tell me.
Oh, God, yes, guitars.
-I was going to suggest perhaps, if you wanted to,
we could use this as a study area, but guitars, equally.
No, study would be good. It's nice and light.
And it gives you a great view over to your guest wing, because this is all you here.
-Oh, good grief.
-Have a look at this.
Oh! I thought this was going to be the bedroom.
No, bathroom, yeah.
-It's big, isn't it?
-Oh, yes, this is lovely.
-Right then, last but not least, master bedroom.
So you see, there's the back wall of the bathroom,
these little skylights, little light wells chucking light
into the corridor, leading on into this.
Regal, I think is the word you are looking for.
I've never had stairs up to a bed before.
-Stairway to heaven.
You can see this great big beam in front of us,
-clearly that has to stay.
So the floor level, bed level, has to be at that height.
There's no storage space either, is there?
-There is in the corridor.
-There's some there? Oh, I missed that.
You've got hanging space in there.
I mean, I imagine this is more of a dressing area,
kind of thing as you, you know, descend from your regal bed.
For me, it's working really well.
I think it's safe to say the interior is a resounding success.
Let's turn our attention to the outside space.
It doesn't come with half an acre, but it's much bigger than their
London garden, so could they make it work for them?
Now, in terms of garden, what you see is what you get.
I knew there would be a compromise, cos the house is stunning.
The house... I mean, you've overdone yourself there. But this is...
I mean, this is just one compromise too far for me.
I mean, that's the point, though,
in terms of getting you close to vibrant cities
like Bristol and Bath, we are pretty much in the middle of both of them -
to give you this sort of floor space with this sort of design and spec,
you know, you're going to trade down on the garden.
-That's the rub.
Which probably brings us neatly round to thinking
about the overall cost of this little lot.
How does it stack up against your £650,000, do you think?
I'm going to say 610.
610? Oh, that's interesting.
I know. I know - and hope.
See, I thought it was lower.
-575 for me.
That's... You are very optimistic, you two, aren't you?
-Oh, God, here we go.
-What did you say, 5...
-Add on 100,000, my friend.
We've got to move away from Bristol, then, cos...
Well, now we know what we're dealing with.
Exactly, that's the point. OK?
Toe in the water - slightly cold water, I suspect.
Or maybe hot water, I don't know.
But, yeah, it gives you a good idea, a good yardstick
-as we go through the rest of our house search.
-Go in explore that.
And see what you get for £675,000.
-Off you go, I'll catch you later.
Well, there you go.
675 is the price of this rather impressive period barn conversion,
although it has been on the market for 18 months
so there could be some bargaining room.
It obviously meets John and Jen's interior requirements,
with four bedrooms, a huge living space
and equally large kitchen diner.
But as nice as the lawn garden is,
it's just not big enough for our London escapees.
Sadly, though, that the compromise for a sought-after village location
so close to Bristol and Bath.
-I really, really like the living space.
-Best part of the house.
This is brilliant. And through into the kitchen, stunning.
But, I don't know, the garden...
It's a shame, cos first impressions are really good.
-Are you willing to move further from Bristol?
OK, cos this is how much it'll cost.
Right, out you come.
-I think that was well worth a starting with.
-Yeah, good starting point.
-But I can see what you mean about getting further into the countryside.
-Let's go and find some country.
And, who knows, we may not need to move too far from Bristol
to find them what they are looking for.
Novices to country life, Jenny and John are keen to see as much
of the area before making that all-important decision to buy,
so, earlier in the week they decided to check out Frome -
one of Somerset's oldest and prettiest market towns.
Ex-Londoner John Burkett-Smith offered to show them around.
We're in Cheap Street and this is part of the old Saxon town street plan
because it's very near the centre of why Frome is where it is,
which is the spring and fountain just at the end of the street.
Frome's cobbled streets are home to over 500 listed buildings -
more than any other town in Somerset.
A lasting legacy of its standing as a powerhouse
of the 17th and 18th century wool and cloth trade.
Even today's tourist information centre is an old wool-drying house.
During the end of the 1600s Frome was actually one of the largest
towns in the area producing wool and cloth.
And people came from miles around to live and work in the town,
the town grew to a population of around 11,000 by the mid 1700s.
-Bigger than Bath, biggest town in the area.
Well, Bath may win in the population stakes today,
but Frome isn't short on community spirit
with year-round food festivals, carnivals and social events.
Will it be enough to persuade John to move to the country though? Only time will tell.
For now, we'll try to impress him with properties.
So for our second viewing of the day, we're not giving up
on proximity to Bristol, or a house with land just yet.
We're heading to the busy village of Winterbourne,
just a 15-minute drive from Bristol city centre.
With a population of over 8,500, there's some debate
over whether Winterbourne should have town or village status.
It certainly has all the amenities you'd expect to find in any small town,
but surrounded by fields and woodland, most of which has public access,
escaping into the countryside is easy.
Our property is just a mile and a quarter down the road
in the hamlet of Winterbourne Down.
That's the house that we're thinking about for you.
-Two cottages that have now been welded into one and in terms
of outside space, this does offer you quite a lot more.
We're still trying to get you something that has a sense of space about it, um, but again,
-I think this could be taken onto another level again.
-Good! Lots of potential!
I'm hoping this will be the solution for staying close to Bristol,
as well as having a house with land for the right price.
It also has real scope for Jen and John to put their own stamp on the place.
What do you think? I like it.
I love all the doors coming off it, it feeds well.
This is the 1850 bit, the rest of the house is much later.
This is interesting, look at this, you'll like this.
-This is a great size.
-Perfect size, isn't it? Yeah, I like this.
-A really good size.
-It's a great addition
-and it makes the best of the garden.
-I like it. I think I almost like this more.
I am fickle, I'm sorry.
John, are you the voice of reason in all this? What are your thoughts?
First impressions are very good, I like it.
Let's check out the kitchen.
-Now then, Jenny, kitchen/diner which was on the list...
-I'm not instantly wowed.
-It's comparable to what we already have.
Yeah, it's similar to what we have already and I was hoping for something a bit bigger.
We were looking for a lot bigger - an island-type scenario.
Yeah, an island or a huge table
in the middle with room for a sofa at the back and perhaps
at the cost of another room we'd loose a room in order to have that size of kitchen.
What about the idea of developing something out that way?
-You could go for a great big garden room that comes
right the way along which would give you a bit more floor space
to plan a much bigger kitchen/diner that you want.
That would definitely be an option. Definitely.
Well, there is another option.
They could potentially knock through to the snug
which was formerly a dining room.
-This is a lovely room.
-Very nice. This feels good.
Whether you were to keep this as a snug, or indeed reinstill it as a dining room, up to you really.
I really like this room. I'd keep it as it is.
John's not agreeing with you I don't think.
I like it, I'd have to look at it in context with the kitchen to be honest. That's how I see it.
I'd aim to go that way with the kitchen
-and keep this cos...
-A land-grab that way?
-Yeah, a land-grab that way,
-and I really like this room.
-It's not bad.
I expect we'd be in here all the time.
Yeah, we'd end up using this more than we would the large one I think.
You'd end up using this more than the large one.
Ooh, separate rooms!
Suddenly the penny's dropped.
Oh, yes, you're next door watching the Grand Prix on something
the size of a cinema and you're in here relaxing.
-I like this snug.
From a difference of opinion to a problem solved in less than a minute - that's what I like to see!
But can we get them singing from the same hymn sheet upstairs?
They should be happy, there are five bedrooms in all,
including three doubles and a family bathroom.
So in terms of storage, Jenny...
Oh, good grief!
Imelda Marcos has been in here.
-So this isn't giving up a bedroom, this is actually a...
-Nope, this is one of the five,
but I thought it was worth showing you
cos it's an interesting use of the space,
and, you're a girl, you must have loads of shoes!
I certainly don't need five bedrooms...
I'VE got loads of shoes?! He's got more!
I think this would work well, it could be a music room, a guitar room.
-That's not a bad idea.
-With five bedrooms you can pick and choose, you only really want two, don't you?
You and a spare, effectively, so this could be another dressing room,
walk in wardrobe, that sort of thing,
allowing you as much space as you want in the master.
-Ah, yes, that's a nice idea.
Mind you, not that you need it, the master is enormous.
-Come and have a look at this.
So this is you, this is the master.
-Oh, I like this.
-I do like this, actually.
I like the wardrobe space down there.
-And these great big windows, pouring light in which is quite nice.
I really like this room a lot, actually.
-And, of course, it's got the en suite. Look in there.
Cor, this is a good size.
-It's big, isn't it?
-Not bad at all.
Well, the spacious - and not to mention versatile -
interior seems to be doing the trick.
Now let's see if we can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat with the garden.
So as you can see, this is your patio area. That's the conservatory, right?
-This is a great size.
-It really is good.
You know, as a family garden, it's fantastic.
I think, you know, you could forego some of that space
if you were thinking about something that ran across.
-That would work.
-It'd fundamentally change it.
I think it would be a vast improvement.
Looking at the garden, this is looking special
and by adding that, that would give us most of the things we would be looking for.
Didn't you mention a swimming pool?
I did, actually. I'm not sure where that's going to go.
-Well, let's see if we can find somewhere.
Yes, this house has one last surprise
but it will take a bit of work before they can dive in.
Now, this was the swimming pool.
Oh, was it?!
Not that you'd know now, but this bit...
should be water. It's been filled in. Yeah.
-This would be brilliant as a pool.
-Superb. It's really good.
-let's have a think about the money, then.
-We're still close to Bristol.
We are. Go on, John, you go first.
I'll go completely different this time and go for 650,000.
-I'm going to say 660,000.
OK. Well, it was on the market for 625,000.
But it's been reduced...
Oh, right, so the extension...
-Yeah, it takes the budget.
£50,000 left over to transform the back of the house,
the kitchen and the bathrooms into what you want them to be.
-Food for thought.
-Yeah. Very much. Yeah.
I can see we've piqued your interest!
Go and have a good look around
and have a think about the extension idea, see how it might work.
-I'll catch up with you later.
-Let's go and look.
-Off you go.
I think that went down very well.
At just a smidge under £600,000,
this cottage is comfortably under budget,
so spare change to tackle any work.
It's already a very spacious home with five bedrooms,
two reception rooms, a kitchen/diner and a garden of nearly half a acre!
Plenty of room for a veggie patch
and they could even reinstate a swimming pool.
I wonder, could this be the package to persuade reluctant countryphile
John to say goodbye to his beloved London?
I'm really confused by this property,
because it wasn't necessarily what I was looking for at first.
And the more I've looked at it, the more I've liked it.
The garden is brilliant.
I can have a working garden hidden round the corner.
-The garden has surprised me in how much I like the garden.
As long as we could make sure that we could do this,
that'll be interesting.
There's a big if on that, though.
Yeah, that's important to have that done.
As long as everybody's happy that could be done.
Right, guys, seen enough?
-Good. Out you come.
-And off we go.
Now, if you want to see, touch and feel
100 years of Britain's social history,
Tyntesfield House just outside Bristol is a must.
Currently being restored whilst open to the public,
I couldn't resist the opportunity to have a look around
this perfectly preserved Victorian time capsule,
and Laura Brown from the National Trust has kindly offered to give me a guided tour.
-Hello, Laura, very nice to see you.
-Nice to meet you, hi.
-What an extraordinary place.
-Fantastic, isn't it?
And what a project. This is... This is amazing, isn't it?
Yeah, yeah. It really is. It's a huge challenge, but it's very exciting.
When do you think it's going to be finished?
When will the scaffolding come down and will we see Tyntesfield as it was?
Well, the hope is that the whole project will be finished in 2012.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the show,
this house was built back in 1863 by the Gibb family
from the proceeds of their bird-muck importing business.
It was an opulent show of wealth
and marked the beginnings of the rise of the middle classes,
proving hard work and money could buy what the aristocracy had by birth.
The house remained in the family until 2001, and was sold intact
with all its preserved home furnishings, decor and objets d'art.
In fact, since 2004, almost 40,000 historic items have been catalogued.
So this is coming into the servants' part of the house.
-These are all original, all these ladders?
-Look at that.
-These are the bells.
-Look at that.
-So you can see how many rooms
are in the house with the amount of bells there are.
We have over 100 rooms.
I love that, "His Lordship's Dressing Room."
-"The Oak Room, The Bath Room, oh, Billiard Room.
-Is that still here?
-It is indeed.
Oh, fantastic. Let's have a look at the billiard room, absolutely.
So this is the billiard room.
It most certainly is, look at that!
-He's seen a few games, hasn't he?
-The poor old moose.
My goodness me. I mean, this is...
It's like a film set, isn't it?
It's a kind of Agatha Christie film set, it's amazing.
It gives a real atmosphere, actually, to how this room was used.
This is no ordinary billiard table, by the looks of it?
No, it's a heated billiard table.
We think it's for the ease of the balls moving across the table.
So it's all kind of built-in?
-And the balls are original?
-Yes, they are.
-Are these buttons?
They're an electronic scoring system, so when you scored,
you would have pressed a button and it would have come up on the board.
-That's amazing. When was this made?
-This was made in 1850.
1850? And they had heated billiard tables in 1850 with, effectively,
-an electronic scoring system?
I'm absolutely amazed by that.
Not all of the house is in quite such good condition, though.
As well as needing a whole new roof, it hasn't been rewired or replumbed
in over 50 years, and that's a huge job.
But what makes this unique is that all the work is being carried out
in full view of the public eye.
We can all drop in and see how it's done.
However, there's one particular interior here
that I can't wait to see.
So this is the chapel,
used by the family as their private chapel,
and for the estate workers as well.
This is incredible! This would grace any provincial town as a church!
-To think it's just simply attached to the house.
-Yeah, a really awesome space, beautiful.
-I've had a wonderful time looking round.
-Thank you very much, Laura.
-Now, how do we get out?
-I'll show you out!
With the evening drawing in over Somerset,
John and Jenny head back to base
so they can mull over the day's properties.
What did you think about the barn today?
I loved the living area, the party room.
-A good place for a party.
-Don't you think?
-Just for basic living, too.
-Yeah, for you and me.
-It's disappointing about the garden.
The outside space was indifferent, wasn't it?
I think it's a reasonable size, it's just not big enough for what we're looking for.
And what's really nice is I can now say "we"
because you've realised that the garden is quite important as well.
-What did you think of the house by the river?
-It's not our taste and it needs a bit of work
and I think we agreed,
-if we were to take it on, we'd need an extension at the back. But the garden was fantastic.
You know, with the bonus of a swimming pool there.
How often does that happen?
-Well, a swimming pool in the making!
-Well, a bit of digging to be done.
-But it was really good
and it's so good having something so close to Bristol,
so it is food for thought.
Jenny has spent the last six years trying to convince John
to swap London living for the rural good life.
Reluctantly, methinks, he's finally given in,
but still wants to be close to a city - Bristol or Bath.
We've already shown them some fantastic pads for their £650,000
but if we're going to persuade John, we need to pull out all the stops.
Oh, God, it's even bigger!
-Look at this, look at this, outbuildings.
-Oh, yes, the music room's coming.
-Or will today's mystery house be the country idyll?
-It is just a field.
-It's pretty amazing, I must admit.
There's nothing like a good, strong cup of coffee to kick off any day's house hunt,
and here in the West of England our final day is no exception.
Now, yesterday I think Jenny and John were persuaded
that although we did try to get them within half an hour
of either Bristol or Bath, if we move further South,
we could get a lot more value for money, so that's where we're going.
In fact, we are travelling South-East
to the Somerset/Wiltshire border,
to the small hamlet of Hawkeridge, just 14 miles from Bath.
For amenities, they will need to head to nearby Rode.
Formerly a busy market town which prospered during the wool boom of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries,
today the mills and shops are being converted into fine period homes
and the only trading going on is in the village store and few pubs.
Our property is a couple of minutes' drive away, and we're taking a bit of a gamble on this one
as thatched cottages weren't exactly at the top of Jen and John's wish list.
But when we came across this one, with its very spacious proportions,
inside and especially out, well, we just had to show it to them.
There, what about that, then?
-I think you like it.
-I love it.
It's gorgeous. The garden is...is...
-Well, this is the small bit.
-Is it? This is the front garden?!
The property itself, at its core, 16th century.
-Believe it or not, the bit to the right is a modern extension.
-God, that's really well done.
-Very impressive, yeah.
-The whole thing is about 10 years old in terms of thatch.
-Oh, that's good.
-So there's another 20 years on that.
I'm sure it ticks lots of your boxes, doesn't it?
Yeah! I'm just...
I'm trying to remain calm.
Good. Well, let's get you excited, come and have a look.
That's a really positive start!
Fingers crossed the interior gets the same reaction.
OK, Jenny, is this what you had in mind?
Yes, it's lovely. The floor is just gorgeous.
Well this, I think, goes to the heart of the sort of detailing that makes this extension
-feel part of the rest of the house.
-This is the extension?
-Oh, that's... Wow!
-They've done it very well.
-And it's created a really interesting kitchen/diner,
in here, which I think really is country-country.
-It's a little bit small.
Yeah, I know, that's my...
initial thought, was that it was a little bit small.
To be fair, this is as big as it will get in terms of the kitchen.
I think it's very nice, you know?
I just think... I know you were after a very big kitchen.
-Because that's where you spend most of your time, and so...
But I suppose that's the compromise you make with a cottage, isn't it?
-I don't think any room's going to be the sort of big, open space we were looking for.
Exactly. And I do love it.
It's just getting my head around the fact that it's completely different to what we were initially...
-Exactly, had in our mind's eye.
-But it's beautiful.
-So far, so good.
Let's see what they make of the original part of the cottage.
This is your main living room,
and I think this is very charming, very cosy.
-I like this.
-Oh, look at the fireplace.
-Yeah, this is very nice.
But it's lovely. Absolutely lovely.
-It feels nice, doesn't it?
It's a bit smaller than I would hope for but, again,
this goes back to the conversation we had, that's the natural size of the room.
-I feel it's a very nice house.
-I do as well. I'm surprised at how much I like it.
It's really sort of taking away the sort of preconceptions that we had
-and saying, "Does this work for us?"
It looks like they're both falling for the charms
of this cottage, and whilst, yes, unarguably dimensions are cosier,
it's certainly big enough.
Across the hallway is a functional study and a sizable dining room.
Silence. I'm met with silence. What are you thinking?
-You love those, don't you?
The ultimate question is,
are you going to use a dining room as a dining room?
Well, this is one of my big issues.
Every house I've ever been in with a dining room,
we've used on high days and holidays.
And I always feel it's a bit of a waste of space.
-It would make a great snug.
-Yes, it would.
-I like that idea, actually.
Well, it goes on upstairs, through here. There we are, follow me.
And there's plenty of scope
to rethink how they'd use the space up here, with four bedrooms in all.
Two doubles means there's space for guests and John's guitars,
and there's also a single bedroom and a shared shower room.
So this is the master, how about that?
-Oh, it's lovely.
-Oh, I like this a lot.
Complete with beams, which hopefully you won't bump into in the middle of the night.
It's a really, really good size, this. How about an en suite?
Oh, really? Is there?
-Oh! Oh, wow!
Oh, this works. This is just...
-This is just great.
-Very impressive, isn't it?
It's fabulous. This works.
I can see through that window that it is tipping down with rain,
-so let's go and brave the weather and explore the garden.
Even in the rain, the garden is the piece de resistance of this house,
and at three-quarters of an acre, it's the biggest we've seen so far.
Out you come. Now, what have we got for you?
Quite a nice little formal garden, as you can see, patio seating area there under the gazebo.
-Great big pond over there.
-I know, it's huge.
-It's very nice.
-I love the garden and I hate the pond.
-I really dislike ponds.
Yeah. You didn't know this, did you? I really dislike ponds.
-That's a great feature, and the well's good...
-No, it's going.
-So there'll be fish for supper, then, if you move in?
But in terms of vegetables and a bit of space and that sort of thing...
-It's a great site. So it goes on round there?
-Yes, it does, look at this. Come and have a look.
-You get all of this as well.
-Oh, my goodness!
-Oh, God, it's even bigger!
Look at this, outbuildings.
-The music room is coming!
-Yeah, you see? I like it.
-You've got loads of outside storage space.
Wow, this is brilliant.
I really wasn't expecting this size.
-I think the garden really adds, doesn't it?
-The garden is fantastic. I love it.
OK. So, how much is it going to cost you to love it even more?
-I think we are looking at 640.
I wish it were. It is bang on the budget.
-That is not bad.
-I am not surprised.
-That is not an unfair price at all, I don't think.
-No. I think you were just being cheeky, weren't you?
Well, go and explore. Go and fall in love with some period charm.
Well, could our gamble have paid off?
With its asking price of £650,000,
this 16th-century thatch is right on the money.
It's a big cottage with a kitchen/diner, two reception rooms,
a study and four bedrooms.
So, plenty of room inside
for entertaining and John's musical ambitions.
The three-quarters of an acre garden with outbuildings
is obviously a winner, but even though they have been charmed
by the interior space,
can Jenny and John really see themselves living here?
I am really surprised at how much I like the property.
Not that it is not likeable, it is a beautiful, beautiful period cottage.
But we weren't after a period cottage,
so it has left me feeling really confused.
I had in my head of this idea of a certain type of property.
It is not that.
But I am now trying to work internally with myself to say, well,
"Are you being stupid?" Because it's a lovely property.
Right, out you come.
Look, it has stopped raining, just!
-We don't need these any more.
Have you seen enough in there?
-I think so. It has been a very interesting house to look at, this.
-Well, there is more to come. Come on.
As Jenny loves cooking and both she and John are self-confessed foodies,
we thought we'd send them to one of the county's more unusual food producers -
Somerset's only smokery.
Jessie Pattison is the owner of this family-run business
and he's going to give them a lesson in smoking.
Starting with our eels...
There's a couple here, Jen, if you want to grab hold of the hooks there.
These are eels that we've brought off the Test River.
Our eels are from chalk-stream rivers - the Test, Stour and Avon.
What we do is we've already gutted these
and if you can pop them into the brine, which is just a saltwater solution,
-we'll pop them in there for three hours.
-Three hours? Oh, OK.
Eels have long been part of the European diet.
Evidence suggests we've been consuming them since the sixth century.
In fact, Dante placed Pope Martin IV among the sinners in purgatory
for his gluttonous weakness for eels cooking in wine.
And our very own King John once ordered 1,000 of them
for a Christmas feast.
However, it was the Vikings that brought smoking to Britain.
For the process to work, any fish or meat has to be cured first.
That's quite simply adding salt, either via a brine or a salt rub.
It's the salt that enables the smoke to be sucked into the product.
Today, the eels are being hot smoked.
So you can see we've got a decent fire in the bottom.
-What are you burning in there?
-Burning purely oak.
We'll roast these products.
We're hot smoking them, so we'll cook them over that fire and then
when we're happy they're cooked, we kill the fire back using dust.
Oak dust or beech dust in the case of eels.
-How long do you leave them in for?
-Er, well, for the eels, they'll stay in for about quarter of an hour,
till we're happy they're cooked.
It's a big, hot, probably 190 to 250-degree fire.
And then kill the fire back and smoke them for about an hour and three quarters.
Once the products have been chilled, the enjoyment can begin.
It's pretty good, that.
It's all right?
It's really nice!
I think that unique taste of Somerset has definitely hit the spot.
Let's hope they have an appetite for our mystery house.
Well, our final offering is nearly upon us.
A little bit of a drive, to the mystery house.
What you think we have got in store for you?
Absolutely no idea whatsoever.
Everything you've shown us has been so incredibly different.
Because we are moving a little bit further out, there's going to be more land
and more opportunity to put our own footprint on it.
But then again, I have been wrong on everything else so far!
Well, John is not completely off the mark, and he will find out why
very shortly, as we are making our way deep into Somerset
to the outskirts of the small village of Wookey,
famed for its prehistoric caves, Wookey Hole.
Sheltering under the Mendip Hills,
the village is set in premium countryside.
With fields as far as the eye can see, the lapping waters of the River Axe nearby,
and a 13th century church, I am sure all of this will appeal to Jenny,
and there are even a couple of pubs for self-confessed urbanite John to get to grips with.
At 45 minutes from both Bath and Bristol,
it is that much further from direct rail links to London,
but it means we can really - and I do mean REALLY - up the ante on the land.
OK, the mystery house.
-Look at this.
-It is just a field.
This could be your field.
This is the mystery house...field.
But there is no... Are you sure?
This is what you get with the mystery house,
which is one of the reasons why it is the mystery house,
because you get these three glorious acres.
Good grief. So literally as far as that hedge line is?
Yes, the post-and-rail and back here.
That's brilliant. We could get sheep as well as pigs.
-We could have a whole menagerie.
This is the uber-end of the rural idyll
that I think you are chasing.
-Yes, with the onus on me.
John, what do you think?
-It is pretty amazing, I must admit.
-It is brilliant.
I'm so relieved you don't want us to build our own house, though!
No. There is a house thrown in with it, along with that.
-That purpose-built studio comes with it as well.
Oh, my God, that's brilliant.
Or perhaps it is more likely John will claim it as his music studio,
since Jenny seems to be getting a whole farmyard.
But they still need somewhere to live themselves.
-There you are.
That's lovely, isn't it?
So you can see, everything is separated by this little lane,
but it is really quiet.
It feels just like you have the whole area.
I like it a lot.
Great reactions from John,
but will the interior live up to such high expectations?
There is only one way to find out.
What do you think?
-It's very cute.
-Yeah, I think so.
-While still remaining cosy.
It's long and thin, isn't it? But it's nice. It's OK.
And everything sort of leads off it.
Smiles From Jenny. John? Because you're the one we've got to work on
because this is more rural than anything else we have shown you.
It's not bad. It's nice. I'd like to see the rest of the house.
OK. This is really nice. Have a look at this.
This sounds good.
Now, John, I'm thinking this would be perfect for you.
This is a great sized office.
-And you could get a telly in here.
-I like it.
-Relaxation is very important!
-It's not all work, you know.
-It helps my creativity. Absolutely.
-I should be more than lucid!
Talking of fridges and lucidity - the kitchen!
Have a look at this.
To suit John and Jen's personal taste,
they might want to make some changes.
But I'm hoping, with its adjoining dining room, it will be big enough.
-I like this.
-I really like this, actually.
I am surprised. Personally, this is what we already have.
From a functional standpoint,
you would have the same challenges you have today. Exactly the same.
-I was thinking more about the fact that people could be down in that room.
Let's have a look at that room.
I think it's because it adjoins to this room.
It's a relatively recent addition but it makes a big difference.
This was what I was looking at.
When I was up in the kitchen, I think it was more the fact
that I could see through here and I counted this as part of it.
This is the part I really like.
No, see, I'm struggling with that. I really am.
Because that's exactly what we have at this moment in time.
I'm not seeing enough, am I?
Even though it's not the prescribed plan and layout,
I would be tempted to trust your initial instincts,
which were, "I rather like this."
It may not be what you had come in search of, but,
you know, it seems to me that it has struck a chord somewhere?
-I don't know now!
Mull it over. We've got the upstairs to go, yet.
Come on, follow me.
It looks to me like we have a case of heart versus head -
Jenny's heart and John's head.
And I get the feeling John might be the more persuasive of the two.
Let's see if we can change his mind upstairs.
There's certainly plenty of options with five bedrooms in all.
Two doubles, a box room and a single.
This is the master, last but not least.
I love the lookout onto the garden. That is really nice.
Yeah, and you can look up to your field, actually.
-Oh, right. Survey from the bed.
-This is master of all you survey, isn't it?
Literally. You can just lie there and take it all in. It's great.
It is a nicely-proportioned room, isn't it?
I think the views from this room are brilliant.
The thing you haven't got is an en suite but you have got a separate shower next door
and a family bathroom and so forth.
Is there any more to show you, I wonder? We have got, of course, a field, studio, house.
There's a bit more garden. Let's have a look outside.
Come here, then, and we'll finish off our tour of the mystery house.
With this little cottage garden, well, I say little...
It's actually a good size.
-It's not bad, is it?
-Yeah. I like this.
I really like the outside of this place. I really do.
Let's have a think about the money, shall we?
I think it's quite small.
I'm going to go for a cheeky 595.
That would be cheeky. Yes! John?
I think it's going to be around 625 again.
It's on the market for £635,000.
I think 635 is all right, actually. That's fine, I was being cheeky.
Yeah, that's reasonable.
There's an awful lot that we have covered. Go back up there and have another look at the paddock.
Go on. Go and enjoy the views.
So, very mixed reactions to the mystery house.
On the market for £635,000, there is a lot of it.
The house itself has a kitchen/diner, a study,
a living room and five bedrooms upstairs.
But the real reason for bringing John and Jenny here are the added extras.
Three acres of paddock and the converted barn.
It all started so well, and although Jenny
seems rather taken with it,
I'm not so sure she'll be able to convince John
it could be a contender.
Just leading up to the front door,
I was so excited and I just thought, "This could be the property."
I kept wanting it to work.
I was trying to convince myself all the way around that it was fine.
And, um... Yeah. So...yeah.
I probably still am, to a certain extent!
There is an office which is extremely good and I thought I could work in there.
But based on the fact that you've got just two other rooms
on the ground floor, I felt it's a little bit small.
-It's lovely out here, isn't it?
-It's gorgeous, I just feel so peaceful.
-I know what you mean about the country.
-Do you really? Do you get it now?
Yeah, it's very peaceful.
-Are you winning?
On a day like this, look at it.
The sun setting over a gorgeous autumn landscape. Come on.
This is a huge move for our city-loving couple
so the property has to be spot-on.
We've had lots of pluses but, equally, plenty of negatives, too.
So have we managed to find the house that will convince John
to up sticks to West England?
It's time to find out.
-Hi, chaps. How are you doing?
Have you had time to have a good old think about everything?
-We've been pondering.
That's a good sign.
Let's take a little trip down memory lane and think about where we went.
It started with the barn conversion, which was all about you, John.
Agreed. Totally. I think from a living space, having the very large
living room, dining room area, that was really what I was looking for.
I think also feeding into the very large kitchen, it felt great.
The kitchen was just absolutely perfect.
I couldn't have found a better one.
The challenge was, and a surprise to me, was the lack of garden.
I felt that has become more of a priority that I wasn't anticipating.
Let's have a think about the house by the river.
It was a curious place, actually. It was good in many ways -
the garden was by far the big selling point there for me.
We could extend it
and make it absolutely the house of our dreams, I think.
I'm surprised at how much I liked that one.
We let you sleep on it and woke you for a final day's house-hunting,
which I think started with a bang
with an extraordinary 16th century thatched building.
Yeah, "wow" factor in bucket loads.
I didn't want thatch, I didn't want 16th century
-and that's what you gave us and it was stunning.
Sometimes it's worth trusting us!
John, I think you were moved by that, too?
I thought it was an excellent house, I really liked all parts of it.
I just don't understand why I'm not getting the "wow" factor.
Because it has everything we asked for.
Let's come back to this idea a little bit later.
Let's finish off with a quick run-through of our mystery property.
What did you make of that one?
I've just been on a real roller-coaster of emotion
because we started off with the paddock.
Wow. Went to the studio, more wow.
The outside of the property, fantastic.
And then we went in and it just wasn't going to work for us and my heart sank.
It was a shame, it was outward-facing, brilliant,
but inside a little bit more lukewarm.
What, if anything, happens next?
I don't think any of the houses we've seen we're going to move forward with.
But I think what it has done is made me more pro-moving to the country.
What I take away from this is you are still determined to move and,
most importantly, you have persuaded John that it's a good idea to move.
-Am I right?
-I think that's fair, I think that's true.
Well, guys, thank you very much. It's been great fun.
I do hope you formulate a new plan in your minds
-and all the best of luck with it.
-Brilliant, thank you.
I have to confess, in trying to make sense of this house search,
it has been little bit disappointing.
We had a good budget and some great properties, so what went wrong?
Well, John and Jenny say we didn't quite tick all the boxes.
But if you ask me, they were trying to tick too many.
I'll see you next time.
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Jules Hudson helps a couple of self-confessed urbanites swap the big smoke for a country pile in Somerset. They are after a large, period property with masses of living space to include a big kitchen, a separate music room and a study. Outside they would like space to grow veg and keep pigs, and even somewhere to put a swimming pool. Fortunately, the pair are not averse to doing a spot of DIY.