Cotswolds Escape to the Country


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Cotswolds

Alistair Appleton helps a couple with very different tastes swap city life for some Cotswolds charm. Plus, find out about the life of a chorister in Gloucester Cathedral.


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As well as hosting Henry III's coronation and housing Edward II's tomb,

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this 1,000-year-old cathedral also contains one of the earliest

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known depictions of one of Britain's most popular sports.

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Find out which sport and which cathedral in just a moment.

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'Today, our couple both have very different views

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'of what they want from their move to the country.'

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One seems to prefer modern.

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You don't like the beams? No?

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-No.

-Too much beamage?

-Oh, yeah.

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-The other favours period properties.

-This is a great house, but it's not because of the look.

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But who will win the battle?

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I'm holding myself. I like it. I really like.

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Don't hold yourself. Let go.

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Mark is already cutting my head off.

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Welcome to the glories of Gloucester Cathedral, here in the heart of the Cotswolds.

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You won't be surprised to see a stained-glass window in the cathedral,

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but you might be surprised to see a golfer in a stained-glass window.

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There he is in that little red circle and he's not a modern golfer.

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He's been there since 1350.

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But it's not necessarily sport that's made the Cotswolds famous.

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Situated within six counties in the upper part of south-west England,

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the region has attracted artists, writers and composers,

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all falling for the fluid landscape and beautiful stone homes.

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In fact, novelist and playwright J B Priestly wrote

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about this local limestone, saying, "Even when the sun is obscured and the light is cold, these walls are

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"still faintly warm and luminous, as if they knew the trick of keeping the lost sunlight of centuries."

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Covering 790 square miles, this is Britain's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Manor houses overlook vistas of lush, green pastures,

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dotted with grazing sheep, wandering in and out of medieval stone enclosures.

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In fact, that's where the name Cotswolds comes from.

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A "cot" was a stone pen for sheep and the "wolds" are rolling hills.

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In fact, the landscape is scattered with medieval wool churches and

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handsome market towns built on the profits of those sheep's fleeces.

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And cathedral choirboys have been singing the Cotswolds' praises for centuries.

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Of course, in the idyllic English countryside stakes, the Cotswolds does score pretty highly.

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I mean, it has beautiful architecture,

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lush, verdant countryside and great train links into London.

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But, oh, boy, is it expensive! Up to 45% above the national average.

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Yes, that's right, 45%.

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But take a look at what that can buy you.

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For £1.25 million, you're not just paying for the overwhelming views across the lush countryside.

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This five-bedroom, beautifully appointed, Victorian farmhouse

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has a modern kitchen that keeps the spirit of the house intact,

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a dining room anyone would be proud of, and after the meal,

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why not relax with a drink in the grand drawing room?

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If you're looking for a cottage, then this £695,000 property is literally a barnstormer,

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making use of the attached barn and converting it into a lovely reception with a vaulted ceiling.

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The kitchen opens out into the dining room

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for a great entertaining space with character beams and a log burner.

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With four bedrooms, this cottage can certainly handle a few city folk dropping in for the weekend.

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For £345,000, this two-bedroom, Grade II listed cottage is like taking a stroll into another time.

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Overlooking a beautifully manicured garden,

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this living room is the perfect place to sit by the fire

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after a meal whipped up in the pretty little kitchen.

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Surely, even the most hardened city dweller could be lured out of their urban ways

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by those beautiful properties, which is a good job,

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because at least one half of our couple today is a hardened urbanite.

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Only one half, though. Let's meet them.

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Mark and Luciano own a small listed apartment within the City of London's square mile.

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Mark works in finance and Luciano is a trained chemical engineer.

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But Mark, in particular, is starting to outgrow their cosy urban bolt-hole.

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It's a relatively small one-bedroom flat, where I really want at least, I think, at maximum, three -

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Luciano wants four - bedrooms. The kitchen is incredibly small.

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-Very tiny kitchen.

-Out of date.

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Bathroom, don't even go there. It has no outdoor space.

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We can't do anything with the house because it's listed.

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Even with its limitations, being just five minutes from Mark's work has been very convenient

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and they are in the fortunate position of being able to hang on

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to the flat and upsize to a spacious country home, although Luciano does have reservations.

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Most of the time Mark is working, so I have only my friends to go and talk and have a coffee or something.

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And if I live too far away, how am I going to do it? I don't drive.

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Even though Luciano doesn't drive, they do agree that the best region for them to move to

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is the Cotswolds, so he's not too remote from his friends in the city.

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It's got great communications to London.

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It's incredibly beautiful. You're also near South Wales and some natural beauty there.

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It's countryside, but there's a degree of sophistication in the Cotswolds

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which may not be there in some more remote areas of the countryside.

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Mark's right about the connections to London, especially if Luciano

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needs some time in the city with his friends.

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But is there anything that might persuade Luciano to stay in the country?

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When you buy a house, it's not like buying clothes.

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You buy a house, you want to keep a house for a long time.

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And for a long time, I want to have kids.

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And because I want to have kids, I want a bigger house because I want them to have their own rooms.

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OK. So what are the other must-haves?

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For me, it must have a big kitchen.

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I don't mind an open-plan kitchen which connects with the sitting room,

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where I can cook and my friends can be there and sit and we can talk.

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I don't need to stop and go and see what they're doing. Just go one side or another.

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And if it's possible,

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have a lake... a river, nearby.

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-A pond, you mean?

-I like to live by the water. No, not a pond.

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I love to live by the water.

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One of the things I've always wanted to do

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is have a garden. I mean, I kill plants in two seconds flat, mind you.

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What I'm hoping to do is find someone who knows how to garden who could teach me.

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But it's more actually about being in the country, as much in the country as I can persuade Luciano to be.

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-As far as possible.

-Exactly.

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So without selling their flat, how much do they have to spend?

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Maximum budget I think, for the actual house itself, is about £600,000, cos that means we've got

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another 100,000 or so which we could then spend on the house and make it a little bit more perfect for us.

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I have an impression this could be one of our most interesting escapes, because not only do we have to find

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the two of them a beautiful house, and Mark and Luciano both have quite exacting tastes,

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but we have to convince Luciano that moving to the countryside is not the end of the world.

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What we don't want to end up with is an escape from the countryside!

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Today, we're casting our property net across two counties,

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Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, prime Cotswolds territory.

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Prices in this area are at a premium, so on reflection,

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Mark and Luciano have decided to up their budget from 600 to £700,000.

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We'll show them some properties that'll whet their appetite for country life,

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but I'm not going to tell them the price until the end of the tour,

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and who knows, maybe the mystery house

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will bring this pair of personalities into alignment.

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-Morning, gentlemen.

-Good morning.

-How are you?

-Very well.

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Welcome to, well, Oxfordshire, bit of the Cotswolds. We're on the edge of the countryside, Luciano.

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-I know.

-How are you feeling? Getting jittery?

-No, no. I really like.

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So that's the plan, convince Luciano to...

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We've got to try to sort of integrate Luciano into the countryside, little bit by little bit.

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We'll find you a beautiful house, of course, that makes all the difference. Before anything else,

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-I just want to be clear about the budget.

-Yes. The budget's 700,000.

-Ah.

-Maybe more, maybe a bit less.

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-It all depends, really.

-But also, nicely for us, you're not really interested in period properties,

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-or not old, old period...

-No. I think we're quite broad spread in what we think we might like.

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-That's perfect.

-Perfect.

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Well, the only way we're going to find out is by looking and

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you've obviously got to take a deep breath of this lovely country air. Brace yourself.

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What is the thing you fear most about the countryside?

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-Oh, get stuck in the kitchen, chained to the oven, and never see my friends again.

-Ah.

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Which is ridiculous, because one of the reasons we want to come here is it's a couple of hours from London.

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I feel like I'm refereeing a kind of argument!

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-I feel that might happen all day long. Let's start looking at houses.

-Thank you.

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So let's do a quick recap. With a top budget of £700,000,

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Mark and Luciano are after a detached property with at least three bedrooms

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to cater for the future pitter-patter of tiny feet.

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An open-plan kitchen/diner is on the menu for entertaining and a garden for Mark to develop his green thumb.

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Luciano is also very keen on a home near a river or a lake.

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Our first property is situated in Great Rollright in north-west Oxfordshire.

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It's 11 miles by bus from the mainline station at Banbury,

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should Luciano need a quick escape to the city.

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It's a small village, where limestone-built houses hide

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behind the stone walls that line the pretty lane.

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Manor houses and well-kept larger estates congregate around the partly Norman St Andrew's Church

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and the local primary school.

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'And just outside the village, Mark can even pick up some supplies for his gardening hobby.'

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This is the first house I want to show you guys.

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-What do you think?

-I think it looks lovely.

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It's gorgeous. I love it.

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This was built in the 1970s.

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-Oh, OK.

-So it's actually quite a new build,

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but obviously built using original materials and it has been extended.

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This sort of garage wing, if you like, was put on 15 years ago. So there has been some work done.

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-But it's actually quite a modern property.

-Great.

-It looks very nice.

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'Not a bad start, really.

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'Outside, the tiled roof complements the reclaimed stone, which I think is a lovely touch.

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'And inside, the hallway connects all six rooms on the ground floor.'

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Straight into the sitting room.

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Yes, this is lovely. It's a nice size.

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-A nice fireplace, too.

-Nice.

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I don't like the wood, though.

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You don't like the beams? No?

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-No.

-Too much beamage?

-Yeah.

-I think you could possibly get used to this.

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And then you go through these double doors into a formal dining room, but it could be anything.

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Do you use a formal dining room?

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No, not on a regular basis.

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Cos you could just extend the sitting room into here.

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Also I think because it's more connected to the sitting room,

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-you're probably going to use more than we use where we are now.

-Or I could use it as my office.

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Not in the middle of my sitting room!

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"Not in my sitting room!"

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-Sorry about that.

-Quite territorial. I like that.

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Yeah. I apologise for suggesting it.

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'Next stop, Luciano's domain, the kitchen.'

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This is actually the part of the house that was finished most recently.

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They renovated it completely, put in this range,

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which gives off a lot of heat.

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-Which is very country.

-Very country.

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Yeah, exactly. But I was worried about the size of this room.

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Yeah. It's not really big enough.

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It's bigger than we've got at the moment, I have to say, but it is a bit small.

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I gather it's not difficult to be bigger than the one you've got.

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-Anything is bigger than that.

-A postage stamp!

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What's your ideal in terms of a kitchen?

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I want an open-plan kitchen.

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I want to have a kitchen that has straight access to the sitting room.

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It might be difficult to make it open-plan to that sitting room, cos these are quite thick walls.

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But this extension could work.

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This, if you remember, is the extension they put on 15 years ago.

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But I think this would actually make a lovely kitchen.

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I think so. It's very, very bright in here as well.

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I like it. I really like it.

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Good. Cos that's not all.

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There's more on the ground floor.

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'Back down the hall is a shower room and at the other end of the house

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'is a spot I think Mark will find rather interesting.'

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Cos you've also got this.

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This is lovely. Nice and bright.

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-This is my room.

-You can use your books to keep you warm.

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Book burning?!

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-He doesn't like my books.

-Really? Have you got too many?

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-I don't think I've got too many.

-You can never have too many books.

-Exactly. I agree.

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And then you've also got this delightful little conservatory at

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the end, so when you're done with working, you can go and chill out.

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Luciano, you'll be there watering the plants.

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'And I thought Mark was the keen gardener! The plot thickens.

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'Heading upstairs, there are some lovely details created with

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'the reclaimed materials, like this slit window on the spiral stairs.

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'Upstairs, there are two good-size doubles built into the eaves, a cosy single and a family bathroom,

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'which means any children will be well catered for.

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'But we're heading to the main bedroom.'

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-This is a nice size. This is big enough.

-It's perfect.

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You've got an en suite with a shower. You've got a lot of built-in storage.

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But, extraordinarily, attached to this...

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..is this magical little place.

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-Wow!

-So this is above the extension and they use it as a sort of nursery, the little girl's room.

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It would be great to have the baby in here.

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No, this will be good for your dressing room, I think.

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'I do like a dressing room with a view.

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'Most of the rooms in the house look out onto the manicured,

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'wrap around gardens, which is where we're heading next.

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'Although not massive, what the gardens lack in space, they make up for in manageability.

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'After all, Mark freely admits he's a novice when it comes to keeping plants alive.'

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So that's your garden. It's not a massive country garden.

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-No.

-Mark won't be working in the garden anyway.

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Well, I'd have a gardener, but I would like a vegetable garden.

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I like the idea of having a few chickens and that kind of thing.

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I mean, you know, it's compromising, isn't it? So it's kind of... There's enough space to have some of that.

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The crucial question is price, this is the first property we've looked at.

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We need to get a gauge of what you get for your money. How much do you think this costs?

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If I was going to guess, I would say 695.

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-How about you?

-650.

-650?

-650, yeah.

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-It's actually in the market for 700.

-OK. Right.

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It's been on the market a while and there's flexibility in the market, so you could put in an offer.

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Have a look around inside, then I'll meet you out the front and then we can go on to the next house.

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At the top of their budget at £700,000, this modern build offers the space they're looking for.

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With potential for an open-plan kitchen/diner and five bedrooms, Luciano seems very pleased about

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the space for any future additions to their family.

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But will the wrap around gardens measure up for Mark?

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Ideally, I'd like a bigger garden. But frankly, I haven't been a gardener before,

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-so it's a starting place.

-There is a lot of place for you to kill the plants.

-Exactly.

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I like the fact there's lots

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of little tiny rooms. They're all kind of a very human size, quite comfortable.

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I'm quite surprised of my reaction, actually.

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I didn't realise I would like it as much as I like it.

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I'm going to have to tear you away, I'm afraid, gents, cos we've got other properties to look at,

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the rest of the Cotswolds to explore. But generally, good vibes?

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Yes, not too bad.

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Keeping your cards close to your chest. I like it.

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If Mark wants Luciano to fall in love with country life,

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then the majesty of the landscape, the architectural sophistication and the wonderfully rich history of

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Chipping Campden is a very good place to start convincing him.

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And this small town is a shining example of village life in this part of the country.

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Typical of the Cotswolds, with its 17th century limestone architecture,

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historian G M Trevelyan said, "Chipping Campden has the most beautiful village street

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"now left on the island." So we organised for Mark and Luciano to rendezvous

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with local guide Tim Sexton at this 300-year-old market hall in the town centre.

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-Good morning.

-Good morning. Lovely to meet you.

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-Nice to meet you, too. Right, let's go and see Chipping Campden.

-Great.

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In its early days, this pretty town thrived due to the wool trade.

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In fact, the term "chipping" actually comes from an old English word meaning "market".

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William Greville, one of the most influential wool merchants of his time, built this wonderful house

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in 1380, when it would have been the first property to have chimneys instead of holes in the roof.

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It's a pretty big house. Was he a very wealthy man?

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Yeah. He was a very wealthy man.

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As a wool merchant, he was probably one of the wealthiest men in England.

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He was so wealthy, he used to lend money to the crown, which was King Richard II at the time.

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So why did he build a house here?

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The reason he built here was because Campden was one of the foremost

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centres for the wool trade in that period.

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We'd get wool in from as far away as the Welsh Marches and it was brought

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here to be graded and packed, ready for transport to the continent.

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The wool was of such a fine quality.

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The local breed, the Cotswold Lion, produced such good quality wool

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and it just flourished on the local hills.

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Another thread woven into the fabric of this 600-year-old town

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is that of the Cotswolds Arts and Crafts movement.

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In 1880, architect Charles Robert Ashbee created the Guild of Handicraft in London,

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an eclectic mix of blacksmiths, silversmiths,

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jewellers, wood carvers, printers and cabinet makers.

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In 1902, in search of inspiration, Ashbee relocated the entire guild to Chipping Campden.

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Today, Julian Hart, the great-grandson of one of the original guild members,

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runs his silversmith workshop in the original building where the guild was housed over 100 years ago.

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One of the main reasons they moved here was, this was an old silk mill,

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that was lying empty, so it was ideal for the workshops.

0:19:130:19:17

There were lots of houses that were quite run down at the time, ripe for renovation and there was a station in

0:19:170:19:22

Campden with a direct line straight to London, with easy access back to London, where they had a front shop.

0:19:220:19:28

-Has the workshop changed much?

-It hasn't changed much.

0:19:280:19:31

I mean, pretty much everything in here is as it was back then.

0:19:310:19:35

We've moved things round a bit, but the tools, the benches, were what they brought with them in 1900

0:19:350:19:41

and we've been using them in here ever since.

0:19:410:19:45

And today, unless you have a sharp eye and ignore the cars,

0:19:450:19:48

you might be convinced not much has changed here in the last 100 years, except property prices, of course.

0:19:480:19:55

Our second property is equidistant by bus from Oxford

0:20:020:20:05

and Didcot Parkway for those all important rail links into London.

0:20:050:20:09

Standlake is a typical Oxfordshire village with more local shops than

0:20:090:20:13

our first property and this should certainly appeal to Luciano.

0:20:130:20:17

And for Mark, there are some prize examples of chocolate-box kept properties.

0:20:170:20:21

I fear the budget they have won't necessarily offer

0:20:210:20:24

the location and period build they're after, which brings us to our next property.

0:20:240:20:29

House number two.

0:20:290:20:30

A very different confection.

0:20:300:20:34

-Yeah, it's very different.

-I quite like it again, actually.

-I like it.

0:20:340:20:39

Obviously, this is not disguised as an old property.

0:20:390:20:42

This is a fairly modern property, built in the 1980s.

0:20:420:20:45

-Is that wisteria?

-It's not wisteria, actually.

0:20:450:20:47

-It's Russian vine.

-I like it because it ages the house a bit, gives it a bit more character.

0:20:470:20:52

-I can't wait to get inside and have a look.

-And you're happy to have neighbours?

-Yes, very happy.

0:20:520:20:57

-Very happy.

-I thought you might be.

-Completely opposite of Mark.

0:20:570:21:01

Well, compromise is the name of the game.

0:21:010:21:04

Let's look inside.

0:21:040:21:05

'Mark may be hesitant about having neighbours close by, but if he can get over that,

0:21:070:21:11

'he should be impressed by the space, including an extension above the garage.

0:21:110:21:16

'Heading into the main hall is easy on the eye, too,

0:21:160:21:19

'as the interior has been rather tastefully remodelled throughout.'

0:21:190:21:23

Here is the formal sitting room.

0:21:230:21:26

This is quite a size. And again, the fireplace.

0:21:280:21:32

Lovely fireplace and then also, this really nice vaulted music part.

0:21:320:21:39

-Wow!

-You always wanted to have a piano, didn't you?

0:21:390:21:43

Yes, if I ever learn how to play.

0:21:430:21:46

What do you think?

0:21:460:21:48

Ah, it's a good-size room.

0:21:480:21:50

I'm holding myself. I like it. I really like.

0:21:500:21:53

Don't hold yourself. Let go.

0:21:530:21:55

Mark is already cutting my head off.

0:21:550:21:58

-Ah! Don't listen to him.

-Don't listen to me, exactly.

0:21:580:22:02

-I like this place. A lot of space. There's no...

-Beams.

-There are no beams.

0:22:020:22:06

The layout here is much, much simpler than it was in the last house.

0:22:060:22:10

Spacious rooms. French doors out into the garden.

0:22:100:22:13

-Lots and lots of light.

-I really like it.

0:22:130:22:16

So far, so good, but the kitchen was a slight stumbling block in the last property, so fingers crossed.

0:22:160:22:21

Here's the kitchen.

0:22:210:22:24

There's my kitchen.

0:22:240:22:26

There's your kitchen.

0:22:260:22:28

This is quite a kitchen.

0:22:280:22:30

It's beautifully laid out. A huge T-shaped kitchen.

0:22:300:22:33

Chinese slate on the floor, great big range, masses of storage.

0:22:330:22:36

These are all reclaimed wooden units from a Victorian conservatory

0:22:360:22:42

-that was going to be pulled down, so they've been reinstated.

-I really like it.

0:22:420:22:46

-Taken it all in?

-Yes, thank you.

-Can you imagine cooking and entertaining here?

0:22:460:22:50

-Yeah. I can imagine myself chained to that oven there.

-It's got a bar there for that.

0:22:500:22:57

But in terms of entertaining, would this work?

0:22:570:23:00

Because this is the dining space. There isn't another room.

0:23:000:23:03

No, I think so. Can do something about it.

0:23:030:23:06

Doesn't really need to be a dining room here.

0:23:060:23:08

As I said, the layout of this house is much simpler. There's the formal sitting room and music room,

0:23:080:23:14

there's this dining room/kitchen and then there's one more room down here.

0:23:140:23:18

With the utility room off the kitchen and a study next to that, it's a very functional ground floor,

0:23:180:23:24

but there is another option for Mark's workspace.

0:23:240:23:27

This is the space above the garage that they built up into

0:23:270:23:30

a couple of years ago and turned it into a sort of family, TV, snug room.

0:23:300:23:34

-This could be my office.

-It's a bit different from the other ones.

0:23:340:23:38

But there's only really two major rooms on the ground floor and this little tiny room up here.

0:23:380:23:44

-Does that work for you or do you prefer more rooms?

-It works for me.

0:23:440:23:49

You're sold. I won't even talk to you. What about you, Mark?

0:23:490:23:52

-Er...

-I love the house.

0:23:520:23:55

Again, a little bit agnostic at the moment.

0:23:550:23:58

"Agnostic", that's the first time I've heard that word in a house tour.

0:23:580:24:02

Even if he is non-committal about the space above the garage, this house does deliver,

0:24:020:24:07

with no less than five double bedrooms, so Luciano will have plenty of space for children.

0:24:070:24:12

Three have a dual aspect, one comes complete with en suite and there's also a good-sized family bathroom.

0:24:120:24:19

But we're heading to the master suite.

0:24:190:24:23

-This is the master bedroom.

-Mm.

0:24:230:24:26

What do you think?

0:24:270:24:29

I don't like the windows. Too small windows.

0:24:290:24:31

But that's not a problem. There's enough light.

0:24:310:24:34

-Yes. I mean, it's...

-Simple.

-Simple. That's the word for it, exactly.

0:24:340:24:40

You do have an en suite.

0:24:400:24:41

Poke your head in there.

0:24:410:24:43

It's a good size. Got a bath, not a shower.

0:24:430:24:46

-That's quite nice.

-Yes, nice.

0:24:460:24:48

"Nice"? That's not exactly the response I was hoping for.

0:24:480:24:52

On the whole, this is a spacious property and as we make our way

0:24:520:24:55

into the garden, I'm hoping Mark will finally be impressed.

0:24:550:24:59

It's much more substantial than the last one and beautifully maintained.

0:25:000:25:04

And over the back there there's a fenced off area...

0:25:040:25:07

-They've got a dog. You could easily make that a veggie patch.

-Plenty of space for Mark's chickens.

0:25:070:25:13

-A much nicer garden.

-I love the trees. I really like them.

0:25:130:25:16

-Still not winning you over is it, Mark?

-Well, no, no. I'm sorry, I do like the garden.

0:25:160:25:21

I want us to go to the country.

0:25:210:25:23

I do love the Cotswold look and this is a great house, but it's certainly not a Cotswold look.

0:25:230:25:29

You mentioned the budget of the first house, which had the right look.

0:25:290:25:34

-How much do you think this costs?

-I would say that it's probably 670.

0:25:340:25:37

I think I go back to 650, I think.

0:25:370:25:39

It might be a surprise to you to know that this on the market for 725.

0:25:390:25:43

This sort of chunk of house in this location, even though it's not your favourite location,

0:25:430:25:50

-does fetch way up the top of your budget.

-Yeah.

0:25:500:25:53

Why don't you have a look around the house and I'll see you out the front?

0:25:530:25:58

-Sure.

-No scrapping though.

0:25:580:26:00

Although it's just over-budget at £725,000, this modern-built house

0:26:020:26:07

comes with lots of space, five or six bedrooms,

0:26:070:26:10

depending on what you do with the room above the garage,

0:26:100:26:14

four bathrooms,

0:26:140:26:15

a large formal reception and the kitchen with dining room attached.

0:26:150:26:20

The large garden also seemed to impress Mark.

0:26:200:26:23

So what do they think after a second look around?

0:26:230:26:26

I love the kitchen. The kitchen is perfect for me.

0:26:260:26:29

There are a lot of aspects of this house I like.

0:26:290:26:31

The garden's a great size. It's a mature garden.

0:26:310:26:34

So there are lots of things I do like about this house.

0:26:340:26:38

But it's simply not how I envisaged a house in the country.

0:26:380:26:42

I can see myself living here, but not Mark.

0:26:420:26:46

He won't live here.

0:26:460:26:48

See, this is wisteria. A bit wet.

0:26:480:26:51

-Hello.

-Are you still talking?

-Just about.

-Just about, yeah.

0:26:510:26:56

-Peace is maintained. Very good.

-It's a good sign.

0:26:560:26:59

On you go.

0:26:590:27:01

Well, that was quite a day, and as it turned into night, Mark and Luciano have plenty to discuss.

0:27:100:27:17

It may be a tricky one tomorrow.

0:27:170:27:19

The plot thickens on our controversial mystery house, but will it divide or unit?

0:27:230:27:28

I really like it. Really, really modern.

0:27:280:27:31

I'm kind of lost for words.

0:27:310:27:33

Lost for words!

0:27:330:27:34

This was never going to be an easy assignment and it became apparent yesterday that Mark has

0:27:360:27:42

the controlling vote, but he would like a two- to three-bedroom,

0:27:420:27:47

little, historic cottage in the Cotswolds made of Cotswold stone.

0:27:470:27:51

But we were going on the brief that Luciano also had a say

0:27:510:27:54

and he wanted four to five bedrooms for his children and something quite modern.

0:27:540:27:59

So we're not going to show them a country cottage for the mystery house. That would be far too easy.

0:27:590:28:04

We're going to show them something completely different.

0:28:040:28:07

Our mystery house is in South Cerney,

0:28:090:28:11

over the border into Gloucestershire,

0:28:110:28:14

just a bus ride from a mainline rail link to London via Swindon,

0:28:140:28:19

for when our buyers want a taste of the city.

0:28:190:28:22

South Cerney is thriving and comes with plenty of amenities...

0:28:220:28:25

post office, local shops, church, three local pubs and a river.

0:28:250:28:31

Mark's going to love the typical stone cottages, which are perfect period properties,

0:28:310:28:36

but our mystery house is meant to challenge their buying criteria.

0:28:360:28:40

So we're about to see something they are definitely not expecting.

0:28:400:28:44

Ah, I love the mystery house.

0:28:440:28:47

Particularly this week!

0:28:470:28:49

Cos it's basically a big, fat cat among your property pigeons.

0:28:490:28:54

-We are in the heart of the Cotswolds and this is obviously a modern complex.

-Yes.

0:28:540:28:59

And as the story's progressed, clearly I've been aware

0:28:590:29:02

that this is going to please you less and less and...

0:29:020:29:05

I almost bought a house like this when I lived in America, so...

0:29:050:29:10

The house itself, I quite like.

0:29:100:29:12

I suppose the reason we picked it, apart from the fact that it's very different,

0:29:120:29:16

is that it is officially a second home. All of these properties here have to be second homes.

0:29:160:29:21

-Oh, is that right?

-In fact, they're so much a second home that you can't live here all year round.

0:29:210:29:27

There's one month, January,

0:29:270:29:29

when you can't be resident here. Cos this is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the only way

0:29:290:29:35

that the developers could develop here is by making sure that they were not permanently occupied.

0:29:350:29:41

So you have at least a month where you don't have to be in the countryside.

0:29:410:29:45

For sure I won't be here at least a month. For sure I won't be here.

0:29:450:29:49

-Luciano, what do you think from outside? Because we are on water.

-Yeah, I love the water.

0:29:490:29:55

I don't know about the house.

0:29:550:29:57

That's a bit of a surprise. I think the exterior is rather handsome.

0:29:570:30:01

But inside, Luciano can't complain about the layout.

0:30:010:30:05

Come on.

0:30:080:30:10

And we come into this very big, open-plan space.

0:30:100:30:16

-It's nice.

-It is really lovely, isn't it?

0:30:160:30:18

-It is nice. Beautiful.

-I thought you'd like this, Luciano.

0:30:180:30:21

I like it. I really it. It's really, really modern, isn't it?

0:30:210:30:24

-There's not much period about this.

-Not at all.

-Not in the two years that it's been built.

0:30:240:30:30

But you have a lot of space. We can have everyone here and cook at the same time there.

0:30:300:30:35

Following your line of argument, in the sense of having everything on one space.

0:30:350:30:40

You've got oak flooring, under-floor heating throughout and light coming in everywhere.

0:30:400:30:45

It's beautiful. It is beautiful.

0:30:450:30:48

What do you think, Mark?

0:30:480:30:50

Er, er... Well, Luciano likes it.

0:30:500:30:54

So diplomatic. So diplomatic!

0:30:540:30:57

Well, at least Luciano has his truly open-plan dining experience.

0:30:570:31:04

What do you reckon to the kitchen?

0:31:040:31:06

I like it, but it's a bit too modern for me.

0:31:060:31:08

-Too modern?

-Yes.

-Ah! We've touched the edge of modernity.

0:31:080:31:13

Well, I mean, of course, this is the show home.

0:31:130:31:16

You can talk to the architects and put what you like in.

0:31:160:31:19

There's a big utility room there with all your washing machines.

0:31:190:31:23

I like country-style kitchens and this is not.

0:31:230:31:26

I was intrigued when we were talking yesterday about the dining room.

0:31:260:31:31

-Is that kind of what you were thinking of, a space in-between the sitting room and the kitchen?

-Yes.

0:31:310:31:36

The house does sort of centre round the outside space.

0:31:360:31:39

Let's have a little peek of that out on the decking.

0:31:390:31:42

Well, I can see that although he wants period, Mark can appreciate the space, light and finish.

0:31:420:31:48

More interestingly, I have a suspicion that Luciano has started

0:31:480:31:52

to think that modern may not be for him, at least in the country.

0:31:520:31:56

So here's your garden, Mark.

0:31:560:31:57

I mean, it's a water garden, essentially.

0:31:570:32:00

The lake is in two parts at the moment, but they're going to get rid of that wake-boarding park

0:32:000:32:05

and knock through as it were, so join the two lakes together so it becomes one private boating pond.

0:32:050:32:12

-I'm kind of lost for words.

-Lost for words!

0:32:120:32:14

-I'm feeling this kind of blankness coming from you.

-I think I've started to change my mind

0:32:140:32:21

-about the style of the house in the countryside.

-In what way?

0:32:210:32:25

I'm going more in favour of Mark's opinion.

0:32:250:32:30

Maybe Luciano and Mark are finally starting to agree on what they want from a country house.

0:32:300:32:35

Heading upstairs, there are two spacious double bedrooms, one with an en suite,

0:32:350:32:40

a family bathroom and a single room, which could easily be used as Mark's study.

0:32:400:32:46

We're heading up to the second floor, to the main bedroom, complete with a swish wet-room.

0:32:460:32:52

This is the master bedroom.

0:32:540:32:57

You can't say you don't like it, Mark.

0:32:570:32:59

No, I don't say I don't like it. I do like the render of it.

0:32:590:33:03

It's lovely to have balconies and the elevation as well.

0:33:030:33:07

To get to see the life of the whole building site.

0:33:070:33:10

But I must show Mark and Luciano where their plot will be.

0:33:100:33:15

-The property you could buy is over there.

-OK.

-The gap. Ah, OK. What do you think about that?

0:33:150:33:21

-It isn't there yet?

-And you can visualise it.

-You don't have to visualise it.

0:33:210:33:25

You can go over and feel it.

0:33:250:33:27

The plot does have a very different aspect to the show room,

0:33:290:33:34

so, hopefully, when we get there, it will help them visualise their very own piece of the project.

0:33:340:33:40

Interestingly, Luciano is changing his tune about wanting a modern house in the country after all.

0:33:400:33:45

Quite a surprise, considering this property is right on the water, which was on his wish list.

0:33:450:33:51

Here it is.

0:33:510:33:52

All this rubble could be yours.

0:33:520:33:54

-A house with just a little bit of conversion to do.

-A little !bit of work, yes

-Yes.

0:33:540:34:00

Yes, not exactly what we were looking for.

0:34:000:34:04

But it will be interesting to know what you think this plot costs or how much this sort of project costs.

0:34:040:34:09

-Well, what do you think?

-I think it will be quite expensive.

0:34:090:34:13

750.

0:34:130:34:15

-675.

-Actually, you're almost spot on.

0:34:150:34:18

It's actually on the market at 670.

0:34:180:34:21

And then you have to factor in quite hefty service charges, cos you'd be a leaseholder.

0:34:210:34:26

Because of this sort of quirky... So it's about £4,000 a year service charge.

0:34:260:34:32

That looks after the lake and grounds, and gives you membership to the local golf club and spa.

0:34:320:34:37

It's a very desirable area. Probably not quite made for you, but I mean, in terms of property,

0:34:370:34:44

-it's a very viable concept.

-I think it's a specific taste.

0:34:440:34:47

We're going to go back and you can wander round.

0:34:470:34:51

Great. Thank you very much indeed.

0:34:510:34:53

At £670,000 this home does have the open-plan living room,

0:34:530:34:58

which was a must-have for Luciano.

0:34:580:35:01

There are three light and spacious bedrooms.

0:35:010:35:03

The balcony provides views, which Mark asked for.

0:35:030:35:06

And it is right by a lake.

0:35:060:35:08

In theory, this property ticks plenty of boxes, but in practice,

0:35:080:35:11

we'll have to find out.

0:35:110:35:13

My first impression of the mystery house was quite a thing,

0:35:130:35:17

because I could see the water nearby, so I got excited

0:35:170:35:22

and I thought it would be something I would like.

0:35:220:35:27

I can see why you would say this is the mystery house for us.

0:35:270:35:30

Luciano loves water. He wanted to be by water.

0:35:300:35:33

So, you know, here you've got a great big lake outside the kitchen windows.

0:35:330:35:37

Deep inside what I'm trying to do is have a house what I want in London,

0:35:370:35:44

a busy house where we going to raise kids and everything, in the countryside.

0:35:440:35:50

This thing just doesn't really fit it.

0:35:500:35:55

Last-minute conversion?

0:35:570:35:59

-Scales fallen from eyes.

-I don't think so, Alistair.

-Damascus road?

0:35:590:36:03

-Nothing like that?

-Nothing like that, no, no.

0:36:030:36:07

No blinding moment of wanting to take the house.

0:36:070:36:10

-Do you want me to take you away from here?

-Yes, please.

0:36:100:36:12

Just a few years ago, when I was a child, I sang every week in my local church choir.

0:36:240:36:29

And if you live in the Cotswolds,

0:36:290:36:31

the chances are that your local church might have a very fine choir indeed.

0:36:310:36:36

Gloucester Cathedral, used as a filming location in the Harry Potter series,

0:36:360:36:41

is also a stunning example of 11th-century architecture and a lot more than just a film set.

0:36:410:36:48

I thought I'd reacquaint myself with the life of a chorister

0:36:480:36:51

and met up with the cathedral's musical director Adrian Partington.

0:36:510:36:57

-Adrian, morning.

-Morning.

-Thanks for taking the time.

0:36:570:37:00

-This is amazing. It's an astonishing piece of architecture. This is the cloisters?

-Yeah.

0:37:000:37:05

It's just a very fancy corridor that connected the different parts

0:37:050:37:09

-of the monastery to other parts so that the monks didn't get wet.

-It's like a forest of stone.

0:37:090:37:15

It is. It's just beautiful.

0:37:150:37:17

And the first of its kind in Europe.

0:37:170:37:19

-And tell me about the choir.

-Well, the choir in its current form dates from 1541.

0:37:190:37:25

Henry VIII and his ministers abolished the monastic system,

0:37:250:37:29

but he had to replace it with something,

0:37:290:37:33

so the most important abbeys he turned into cathedrals and appointed bishops.

0:37:330:37:38

And he was a great musician and not the Philistine that legend has him,

0:37:380:37:44

and he organised choir schools at all these cathedrals.

0:37:440:37:48

I sang at my little parish church and I sang when I was at university

0:37:480:37:51

and, for me, it's given me a lifelong love of church music and singing together.

0:37:510:37:57

You see boys go through the system in a four- or five-year cycle I presume.

0:37:570:38:02

-What are the things that it instils in the boys?

-They spend so much time together.

0:38:020:38:07

They must be like an army unit or something like that.

0:38:070:38:10

It's wanting to do well for the team and I think that's a fantastic thing to take through your life.

0:38:100:38:17

BOYS SING CHORAL PIECE

0:38:170:38:21

It's something that England leads the world at.

0:38:400:38:43

Cos across Europe, with the various religious wars

0:38:430:38:46

and things, all this has been destroyed, everywhere except here.

0:38:460:38:50

It is a unique tradition and this building, which has one of the best acoustics in the entire world,

0:38:500:38:58

it just sounds like you're in heaven.

0:38:580:39:00

The boys sing every day, so if you live locally, you can pop in and enjoy a free concert.

0:39:080:39:13

And speaking of concerts, combining their forces with two cathedrals in Worcester and Hereford,

0:39:130:39:19

this choir takes part in a major choral gathering called the Three Choirs Festival every August,

0:39:190:39:24

a 250-year-old tradition that makes it the oldest continuing music festival in the world.

0:39:240:39:32

And now it's time to find out what properties hit the right note for Mark and Luciano.

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-Hello, guys.

-Hello.

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Let's talk about the houses one by one and then perhaps we can talk more generally

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about the whole experience of property shopping together. The first house that I showed you.

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Looked very old. In fact, wasn't so old. What are your thoughts about that now?

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I really liked the house.

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It was just the kitchen wasn't exactly what I want.

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But, generally, it was a nice house.

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I think it's grown on me, the more I've been thinking about it.

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The location, you can't beat it.

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And the garden? Cos the garden was a bit...

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A bit small, but actually, you know, the garden, in retrospect...

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-Compromise.

-Yeah, exactly. It seems to me perfectly adequate.

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Let's talk about the second house, cos this was a much bigger garden, certainly in a bigger house.

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I like it from outside.

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I like from inside.

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I like the back garden.

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I just loved the house.

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Mark doesn't have exactly the same opinion.

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If that house had been in a different location, if that house had been

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in the location of the first house, would I compromise? Yeah.

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I think I probably would. I am open to listening to what Luciano wants and compromising on that.

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But it's not necessarily what I would choose myself.

0:41:060:41:09

That sounds like a diplomatic way of saying, "No, I won't negotiate on location."

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Let's move on to the mystery house. Just to change the subject.

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This seemed to crystallise a lot of things. Did it help bring some things into focus?

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For me, it did a lot.

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Because now I know exactly what we're looking for.

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It's not a big house.

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Cos we need to compromise. It cannot be modern.

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Mark's not going to be 100% happy with a modern house at all.

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For you, Mark, did it bring anything into focus?

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It focused the fact that coming to the Cotswolds,

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I would like, a Cotswold house.

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And, you know, it's all part of a cunning plan I had that perhaps Luciano would come here,

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see the Cotswolds and actually, you know, sense that he could be happy here

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and could be happy living in a country house.

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-Is that true? Have you had a...

-Yeah, I think it helps. It did help.

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What about any of the properties? Would you pursue any of them?

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-Would you go back and look at any of them?

-The first house.

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-So, it hasn't all been...

-No.

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It's been challenging. Oh, it's been wonderfully entertaining to see you work through

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the kind of challenges that happen when two people want to buy a house with different templates.

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And I really hope it works out. But all the best.

0:42:290:42:32

-Thank you very much indeed.

-Thank you very much.

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This is the house we should have shown Mark.

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Although, of course, Luciano wouldn't have stood for it, being too old and too small.

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And that's been our problem all along, trying to balance these two very different wish-lists.

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But we've contributed to a compromise that could make this couple's country idyll come true.

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Make sure you join us next time for more Escape To The Country,

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where we will be exploring other corners of rural Britain.

0:42:580:43:02

If you'd like to Escape To The Country in Northern Ireland,

0:43:030:43:07

Wales, Scotland or England and need our help, please apply online at...

0:43:070:43:11

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:300:43:32

E-mail: [email protected]

0:43:320:43:35

Alistair Appleton helps a couple with a budget of £700,000 swap city life for some Cotswolds charm. But our buyers have very different tastes in property so one of them will have to compromise.

We also visit Gloucester Cathedral to find out more about the life of a chorister.