Cumbria Escape to the Country


Cumbria

Alistair Appleton visits Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria. The house hunters he meets want a period home with a budget of 400,000 pounds, but a modern house proves tempting.


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Transcript


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On the first weekend in June for the last 300 years

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horse traders from all over Europe have come to this town

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and washed their horses in this river

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before they start selling them.

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Find out where I am

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and what particular horse traders I'm talking about

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on Escape To The Country.

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On today's show we're hoping a couple exchange

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the Cambridgeshire suburbs for a glorious country life.

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I love it. I love it. I absolutely love it.

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But they can't believe the prices.

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-Good Lord.

-Are you sure, Alistair?

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I'm sure. I don't make mistakes.

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'And the excitement doesn't stop there.'

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It was almost the time for high fives

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and jumping up and down around the house.

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'Does that mean they've found their dream property?

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'We'll find out later.'

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Today I'm in Cumbria in the town of Appleby

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which, since the time of James II, has hosted a horse fair

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which has been a Mecca for Romany folk who travel all over the UK

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and from Europe, gather here once a year to meet their family,

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do a little horse dealing and maybe a little courtship.

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So I'm hoping there's going to be a perfect partnership, too,

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between country lovers and their ideal property on the show today.

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It's impossible not to be drawn to this wild and dramatic landscape.

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Made up from the old counties of Cumberland, Westmoreland,

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parts of North Lancashire and North Yorkshire,

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Cumbria is England's second-largest county and is best known as the home

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of Britain's biggest National Park, The Lake District.

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Although it gained park status in 1951,

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tourists were hitting the Lakeland trails at least 100 years earlier,

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following the publication of a guide book

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penned by one of the region's most famous sons, William Wordsworth.

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Not only a poet but a forward-thinker,

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as he suggested it become a sort of national property as early as 1835.

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Today, 8.3 million visitors descend on the Lakes each year.

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But head east in Cumbria

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and you can swap crowds for cows as this largely rural region

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is home to countless farms, pretty stone villages and market towns.

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When it comes to property prices, Cumbria is split in two.

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While, of course, it's beautiful to live inside

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the Lake District National Park, it's also quite expensive

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cos across the country as a whole house prices are about £257,000,

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which is just a couple of thousand pounds

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more than the national average.

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But if you live inside the National Park, prices can jump up 15-25%.

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So a big spread of prices but some beautiful properties.

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Take a look.

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As horses are certainly a theme in Cumbria,

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this coach house in Casterton

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is the perfect place to hitch up your wagon.

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The regal exterior is complemented by the inviting

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formal reception room, modern kitchen and spacious dining area.

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A stroll in the woods behind the house can only be beaten

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by a long relax in your rather stately bathroom.

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This property will certainly break your stride at £1.15 million.

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Or how about something more modern?

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Sitting on a hill within beautiful landscaped gardens,

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this £750,000 property comes with a plush pond for your fish

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and your living quarters aren't too shabby either -

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a spacious kitchen and large contemporary living room.

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At a more modest £350,000,

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you could be enjoying the dramatic views of Keswick at The Joinery,

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a classic setting for this free-standing stone-built cottage

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with period features like original beams

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framing the open-plan living area and kitchen.

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Some of Cumbria's finest, inside and outside of the National Park.

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But we have another three tucked up our sleeve for today's house buyers.

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So let's meet them.

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Retirees Pat and Lyn have been happily married

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for an impressive 44 years

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and since 2002 have lived in their five-bedroom house on a development in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

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But having watched a certain TV programme, they're both now agreed

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it's time to make a break for the country.

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We'd like to go to Cumbria. We've seen...

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We watch Escape To The Country.

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We've seen some of the properties

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and we would hope that we could get a nice property up there

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which we may not be able to afford in this part of the world

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but up in Cumbria, hopefully we could.

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Neither Pat nor Lyn have ever visited Cumbria before

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so they're taking quite a gamble.

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But they're not complete novices to country life.

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I was born in Tipperary in Ireland

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and that's a very rural part of the world

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and we go back every year

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for our holidays in Tipperary.

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And I think that says it all.

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We like the peace and quiet of a rural area.

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Yes. This move is all about getting a bit of hush.

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This garden backs on to six other gardens

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and when we first moved in, there were no children.

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Now we have about eight and they're all very noisy

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and since then, four people have acquired dogs

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and they're very noisy.

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So we cannot sometimes sit out in the garden.

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So that's why I would really like to move to the peace and quiet.

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OK. So it's clear it's a quiet location we'll be looking for.

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What other criteria do they have in mind

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for their new peaceful country pad?

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I would like a very large kitchen.

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The kitchen that I've got at the moment is about 21 foot long

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but I would like a nice big, square kitchen.

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Also I would like five bedrooms, a utility room, two en-suites,

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a conservatory, a lounge and a separate dining room

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and a double garage.

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Gardening is graft but I find it therapeutic.

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I enjoy my rose garden and in the new property,

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hopefully I could have a rose garden there and hopefully with a bigger garden

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it would also be more peaceful and quiet.

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With their house already on the market for a healthy £350,000,

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these two are raring to make the move.

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But how much are they planning to spend?

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If we were lucky enough in Cumbria to find a property that ticks all our boxes,

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our budget would be £350,000,

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at a stretch going up to £400,000.

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We are looking for a property for Pat and Lyn

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in a county they've never actually been to.

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So not only do they have to love the property,

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but they've got to fall in love with Cumbria as well.

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Now, they have a handsome budget but they also have quite a wish list -

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four to five bedrooms, big kitchen and a big garden.

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So we're going to be looking outside of the National Park

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but as you can see, it's still very beautiful.

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We're focusing today's search in the countryside around Appleby

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in the Eden Valley, just east of the National Park and where we should find

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the perfect combination of peace and quiet and value for money.

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We've lined up some smashing houses to view over the next two days,

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including a mystery house,

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which is almost as green as the gorgeous landscape it sits in.

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-Hello. Morning.

-Hello.

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-Welcome to Cumbria.

-Thank you.

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-You've never been here before?

-No.

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So what made you choose this area to buy in?

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-We saw this area on the show.

-On Escape?

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And we decided we liked it so we'd give it a try.

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So it really works?

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-Yes, it does.

-Was it one of my shows?

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-I do believe it was.

-Very good.

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First impressions? I know we've not been here long.

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It's lovely and it's peaceful and it's lovely and green.

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Because peace and quiet is what you're looking for?

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Tranquillity, in a word.

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Have you done any looking on the internet?

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Have you looked at prices here?

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No, no, we're not on the internet.

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So we use local estate agents

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and we applied to come on the programme.

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-Old school.

-Yes.

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And here we are today.

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The National Park does have a premium on it, I have to warn you.

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Inside the Lake District National Park it's quite expensive,

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but outside of the National Park there are bargains,

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or things to be bought in your budget, cos that's a healthy budget.

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Are you looking forward to this move?

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-Is it something you've been planning for a while?

-Yeah.

-Yes.

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Good, let's make it happen.

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-We'll to have to start by looking at houses. Come on.

-That'd be good.

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OK, time for a recap.

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For a top budget of £400,000, Pat and Lyn

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would like a detached four to five bedroom house

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with a big kitchen, a lounge and a separate dining room.

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Used to a conservatory, they'd like another one

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and Pat is after a manageable garden that won't be too much hard graft.

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I have to say it all sounds very doable

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so let's hope we come up smelling of roses.

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For our first viewing, we're heading to Sandford.

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This Eden Valley village is not only pretty as a picture,

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it's peace and quiet personified.

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So it should be spot on, although there is one pub,

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if Lyn and Pat feel like a wild night out.

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So this is the house I want to show you.

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Well, it's a bungalow. First thoughts on bungalows?

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I don't mind a bungalow.

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Pat?

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No, I like the look of it. It's a lovely bungalow.

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I particularly like the stonework there,

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that's striking and it's a very quiet area, isn't it?

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It's very quiet.

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Sandford's a good spot because this road

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goes down to a farm so there's no through traffic.

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And on this close there are four bungalows

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and it's all sort of mature dwellers.

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There's no teenagers, no kids, no noise.

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-No ravers.

-No ravers.

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Just what I'm looking for.

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That's music to my ears - very quiet music, obviously.

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I think they're going to love the interior too.

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Built in 1987, it's been extended a few times.

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So it's a lot bigger than its diminutive exterior might suggest.

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So come into the main sitting room.

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This is the sort of heart of the home.

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All the other rooms have come off this room.

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-It's a nice size.

-It is a nice size.

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But essentially it's quite a sort of stately sitting room

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because it's all built around the hearth.

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-I like it.

-I can see myself sitting here in the winter.

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-Really?

-Really.

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So come across here - this is an extension that they

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put on in around 2005 to make the most of these incredible views.

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-Which are very nice.

-Beautiful. Beautiful outlook.

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How does it make you feel, being here?

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That I'd like to stay here.

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-That's a good sign.

-Homely.

-You too, Pat?

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Homely, yes I find it homely but that is the most beautiful view and to sit there

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and look out at it, at any of the four seasons, beautiful.

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Let's continue the tour. This takes us into the kitchen wing, because this is

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an extension that they put in, the first extension actually, 2001.

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So this is kind of extended again out

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because everything about the extensions is all about the view.

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The more views of the garden the better, from what I see.

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-Yeah, I like it.

-So you can imagine retiring here?

-Yes, I can.

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I've only shown you two rooms! Here's the kitchen.

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-Well this is your domain, isn't it, Lyn?

-Yes, it is.

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What's nice is, it is a kitchen-diner.

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So there's this sort of dining space here.

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The kitchen-breakfast room I've got now

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is about 21 foot long and it is wider than this

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but you always have to consider everything.

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Indeed you do.

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Although this is a large kitchen Lyn seems to have her heart set

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on something more square in shape.

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But conveniently situated off this kitchen is the utility room

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and a good-sized bathroom, complementing the master bedroom.

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So, this is the master bedroom.

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This is lovely.

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What are you looking for in a bedroom?

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Storage and a lot of room.

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-So does this fit the bill in terms of room and space?

-Yes.

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It's got a nice feel about it.

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-The whole bungalow has a very restful, peaceful feel about it.

-It does.

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There are plenty more bedrooms on the other side of the house,

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three off the main hallway, including two good-size doubles

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and a further family bathroom.

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Now, this is, I think, a very nice bedroom.

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This is a nice size again, nice and light.

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It's a lovely room.

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You've also got the extension, if you follow me here.

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What's striking about this is that this extension belongs to this bedroom.

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This was again the last part of the extensions that they put on.

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It used to be a conservatory but they turned it into a beautiful winter garden.

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It's very nice.

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Yes, it's clever what they've one.

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Well, I think the interior is a success.

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Now let's see if the garden will be

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the oasis of tranquillity our retirees are so desperate for.

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So, Pat, this is your domain, the garden.

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-Yes.

-What do you think?

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In a word, beautiful, it really is lovely.

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It's not overwhelming? You could manage this?

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I've got four grandchildren.

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-They'll have working holidays here.

-Delegate.

-That's guaranteed.

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There's potting sheds, a garage,

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-plenty of space to keep all the tools.

-Handy.

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It's a good-size plot

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and a handsome bungalow - what do you think it costs?

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I would say probably around £350,000.

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OK, what about you, Pat?

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I'd go along with Lyn but if we're going to have a margin,

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then 350 to 375.

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It's a bit more expensive than that. It's on the market for 395.

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So, it's at the top of your budget.

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Walk inside have a look around and I'll meet you out the front.

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-Lovely, thank you.

-Thank you, Alistair.

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They will get a lot of bungalow for £395,000.

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The kitchen isn't quite measuring up to size for Lyn

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but she seems very happy with the peace and quiet

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of the surroundings and the beautiful views.

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I think we're off to a great start.

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What I've seen of this bungalow and this area today,

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it offers us the peace and quiet that we're craving for.

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One thing that you have gone on about quite a bit

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is the separate dining room and you won't have it here.

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I do like a separate dining room.

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But maybe one of the extensions would make a nice dining room.

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I believe it would.

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To be looking out on those views,

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it'd be worth it to be in any of those rooms as a dining room.

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-I agree with you on that, Pat.

-So it's not really the be-all and end-all.

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-No.

-Not that essential when it comes down to it.

-No.

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I think Pat and I would both be happy in this bungalow.

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We both like it so much.

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I have to drag you out of the bungalow

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cos we've got another property to look at.

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Whilst Cumbria is most famous for the Lakes,

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if aquatic or climbing pursuits aren't a priority,

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there's lots to explore outside the National Park.

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Well worth a visit is Kendal, often dubbed the southern gateway to the Lakes.

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It's best known for its very sweet mint cake,

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but this small town has a rich architectural heritage

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normally only to be found in much larger towns and cities,

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including not one but two Norman castles, a church,

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which is just a few feet narrower than the mighty York Minster,

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and a whole host of Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian public buildings.

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As first-time visitors to Cumbria,

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Pat and Lyn were keen to get a taste of a traditional Cumbrian town.

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So earlier in the week, they trekked off to Kendal

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where local town guide Claire Feeney kindly offered to show them around.

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-Hello.

-Hello, Claire, nice to meet you.

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Hello, Claire, very nice to meet you.

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-Shall I go and take you to see some of our yards?

-Yes, please.

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Yes please, that'd be great.

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From the 14th to the 19th centuries,

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it wasn't mint cake that earned the townspeople a crust but wool.

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In fact, the town's motto is still, "Pannus mihi panis,"

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literally meaning, "Wool is my bread."

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The industry left an indelible mark on the vernacular of the town,

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which is characterised by a network of narrow lanes and streets

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called yards running off the main thoroughfare.

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Houses lined the yards providing accommodation for the wool workers,

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and at one time there were around 150 yards in Kendal.

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So this is Yard 83 or more locally known as Dr Manning's Yard.

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Dr Manning was a local physician in the area

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and the development behind would have been the cottages or the residential area.

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Earlier on than Dr Manning, they would have been formed as part of the dyers -

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the dyers would have worked here to dye the wool for the woollen industry.

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-Would the workers have had to have paid rent for the cottages?

-Yes.

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This would have been a residential area,

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but the woollen trade was all done in cottage industry.

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So they would have had to have paid the normal sort of rents.

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However, it's not just the architecture that's well preserved here.

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A familiar sight in Kendal is this 1940s bus, the Kendal Klipper.

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It's a great way to take in the town's many delights

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whilst preserving your feet.

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For the past ten years, the town council has paid

0:18:110:18:14

for the Klipper to run as a free service for nine weeks every summer.

0:18:140:18:18

Knowing it's peace and quiet Pat and Lyn are after,

0:18:180:18:21

we asked the driver to drop them off at Levens Hall,

0:18:210:18:24

an Elizabethan mansion with a Grade I listed garden

0:18:240:18:28

that boasts some of the oldest and most valuable topiary in the world.

0:18:280:18:31

Where does topiary originate from?

0:18:320:18:35

Well, it's a Latin name, really.

0:18:350:18:37

It's probably the first form of gardening,

0:18:370:18:39

shaping trees and shrubs into funny shapes.

0:18:390:18:41

It was popular then thousands of years ago

0:18:410:18:43

and it's sort of gone in and out of popularity.

0:18:430:18:46

When this garden was laid out in the 1690s, it was THE fashion to have in your garden.

0:18:460:18:50

So the new man at the big house here at Levens Hall

0:18:500:18:52

brought in a French garden designer to lay out

0:18:520:18:56

the latest in fashion in his garden and this is what remains.

0:18:560:18:59

Fashions changed, everybody had Capability Brown lakes

0:18:590:19:03

-and parks and trees put in, but Levens - it never got swept away.

-Yes.

0:19:030:19:07

Thank goodness the owners of Levens down the centuries weren't at the cutting edge -

0:19:070:19:11

excuse the pun - of horticultural trends,

0:19:110:19:14

otherwise this beautiful 300-year-old garden would have been lost for ever.

0:19:140:19:18

Well, it's back to the business of finding a property.

0:19:250:19:28

Next up we're off to Blencarn.

0:19:280:19:31

Also situated in the Eden Valley,

0:19:310:19:32

Cross Fell looms over this pretty village, giving many of the homes here

0:19:320:19:36

Lake District views without the sky-high price tags.

0:19:360:19:40

And there's some very attractive housing stock, with many properties dating from the 1800s.

0:19:400:19:46

Come and take a look from the front.

0:19:460:19:48

This could be your home.

0:19:500:19:52

-Oh, yeah.

-Yes.

-Quite different, isn't it?

0:19:520:19:55

-It's very different.

-Yes, it is.

0:19:550:19:57

Very nice.

0:19:570:19:58

It's sandstone, which is the local building material,

0:19:580:20:01

and this brick was built in about 1895,

0:20:010:20:03

and at that time brick was a posh thing.

0:20:030:20:05

So they put all the brick on the front. The rest of the house is actually stone.

0:20:050:20:09

-It looks lovely.

-Shall we look inside?

0:20:090:20:11

-Yes, please.

-OK.

-Thank you.

0:20:110:20:13

'Once again, Pat and Lyn are rather positive about the outside.

0:20:150:20:18

'Let's hope that continues with the inside.'

0:20:180:20:21

So here is your kitchen, Lyn.

0:20:220:20:24

Slightly different from the last one.

0:20:240:20:28

-It's certainly wider.

-Yes. It's a lot wider.

0:20:280:20:31

And as you can see, it was originally two rooms.

0:20:310:20:34

This was a dividing wall and they've opened it up to make it one big sort of kitchen/diner space.

0:20:340:20:40

Is it going to be big enough for you?

0:20:400:20:42

Umm...

0:20:420:20:44

-Maybe. I have to give it careful thought.

-Right.

0:20:440:20:48

-It'd be OK when there's just the two of us here.

-Right.

0:20:480:20:51

But I'm not sure when the family's here.

0:20:510:20:55

What would be a problem, then?

0:20:550:20:57

Well, for a start, not just for them,

0:20:570:21:00

Pat doesn't like the table in the middle of the kitchen.

0:21:000:21:02

You don't like the table in the kitchen?

0:21:020:21:04

I prefer people to have access to be able to move around.

0:21:040:21:09

-Right. So you could take that out, then, presumably, could you?

-Yes.

0:21:090:21:13

-That would give you more room.

-I mean, it is designed as a kitchen-diner.

0:21:130:21:17

Do you not like that idea?

0:21:170:21:19

I think I'm going to have to get used to it.

0:21:190:21:22

Or there is another room which you could co-opt as your dining room.

0:21:220:21:25

This used to be, well, the main sitting room of the house before it was extended.

0:21:270:21:31

You've got a lovely... The original fireplace. So that's your new surround

0:21:310:21:35

but it's the original tiles from the Victorian property.

0:21:350:21:38

And they've turned this into a through room,

0:21:380:21:41

-but you could if you like make this the dining room.

-Yeah.

0:21:410:21:44

It would make a nice quiet room, a nice reading room.

0:21:440:21:47

Difficult to know what to do with the rooms until you've seen them. This is a very impressive room.

0:21:470:21:52

This is the new extension that they added just two years ago.

0:21:520:21:56

-Another nice-size room.

-It is a very nice size.

-Yeah.

0:21:560:21:59

And you've got this fantastic conservatory that backs onto it.

0:21:590:22:04

-I know you love a conservatory.

-I do like the conservatory.

0:22:040:22:07

What are your thoughts about your house? You're being quite tight-lipped.

0:22:070:22:10

Are you liking it or not liking it?

0:22:100:22:13

I like the size of the rooms, the high ceilings, the walls.

0:22:130:22:18

-I like that.

-What do you think, Lyn?

0:22:180:22:22

-I'm getting more used to it.

-You weren't so impressed?

0:22:220:22:24

-It's growing on me.

-You weren't so impressed at the beginning?

0:22:240:22:27

I don't think I imagined the table being in the kitchen like that before I came in.

0:22:270:22:32

All right. So that threw you a bit.

0:22:320:22:34

-It did, because we've never had a table in any of our kitchens.

-All right.

0:22:340:22:37

So it did throw me a bit.

0:22:370:22:39

'I'm realising that a separate dining area is key to Lyn's dream layout,

0:22:390:22:44

'which is certainly possible here.

0:22:440:22:46

'Onwards and upwards to the bedrooms.'

0:22:460:22:49

You've got four bedrooms upstairs. They all have these phenomenal views.

0:22:490:22:54

Those views are absolutely stunning.

0:22:540:22:56

I couldn't agree more, they are beautiful.

0:22:560:22:59

Off the hallway is a vast family bathroom, a single bedroom

0:22:590:23:03

and a good-size double.

0:23:030:23:06

Actually before we go into the master bedroom,

0:23:060:23:10

you can see this was an extra room, but they've taken down this wall to give themselves a study.

0:23:100:23:15

Good idea, cos Pat likes a study.

0:23:150:23:18

Yes, a nice size study as well.

0:23:180:23:20

You could put a few shelves up there, a telephone in there as well.

0:23:200:23:25

Telephone. Not mobile.

0:23:250:23:26

-Not mobile, no.

-No internet.

-All mod cons(!)

0:23:260:23:29

Just books. Let's look in here.

0:23:290:23:32

Now this is really the master,

0:23:330:23:36

I would say, cos it's got an en-suite and a walk-in wardrobe.

0:23:360:23:39

Can you imagine using this as your master bedroom?

0:23:390:23:42

-I can.

-Yes.

0:23:420:23:44

It's a beautiful double-aspect room and again views!

0:23:440:23:48

-Yeah.

-Views to wake up to.

-Beautiful.

0:23:480:23:50

The house has grown on me.

0:23:500:23:52

The more I've seen inside the more I like it.

0:23:520:23:54

'I think deservedly so because it's a lovely home.

0:23:540:23:58

'Now let's see if the outside space will seal the deal.

0:23:580:24:01

'Most of the garden is at the front but there's also a brick-built shed and a greenhouse.'

0:24:010:24:06

Well, the garden really is, I think, a jewel because it's very private,

0:24:090:24:13

but it's also quiet manageable. It's not enormously big.

0:24:130:24:17

It's a nice garden and I like the way it's enclosed all the way round. Yeah, I like it.

0:24:170:24:22

It's an L-shaped garden.

0:24:220:24:23

This is where the main bulk of the lawn and flowers are,

0:24:230:24:27

but down the side you've got a veggie garden with currants and rhubarb

0:24:270:24:30

and space for lettuce and potatoes to the left.

0:24:300:24:33

Yeah. Yeah, I could manage that.

0:24:330:24:34

Now money. How much is this fine, handsome property worth?

0:24:340:24:38

I think it must be on the market for at least £390,000.

0:24:400:24:44

I'll say 395.

0:24:440:24:46

Well, in that case you're going to be pleasantly surprised

0:24:460:24:50

cos this is on the market for 375.

0:24:500:24:52

So £20,000 under what you estimated.

0:24:520:24:56

And a lot of house for the money as well.

0:24:560:24:58

-A lot of house, yeah.

-As we were saying when we were going round the house - it grows on you.

0:24:580:25:02

-I'd better send you back in, then.

-OK.

-OK.

0:25:020:25:05

At £375,000, this modernised Victorian house is 25,000

0:25:050:25:10

under the maximum budget and needs nothing doing to it whatsoever.

0:25:100:25:15

The pretty garden is entirely manageable

0:25:240:25:26

but Pat could put his green fingers to use

0:25:260:25:29

in the vegetable garden if he so desires.

0:25:290:25:31

The Lakeland views are absolutely priceless.

0:25:310:25:34

But will that kitchen table have scuppered our chances?

0:25:340:25:38

This house grew on me. The more I went into every room the more I liked it.

0:25:380:25:43

I think I was taken aback by the kitchen having the table in there.

0:25:430:25:47

That threw me a bit.

0:25:470:25:49

But then I thought, "Well, you can always take a table out of the kitchen."

0:25:490:25:53

I actually think this is better than our conservatory at home.

0:25:530:25:57

Yeah, I'd agree with that, yeah.

0:25:570:25:59

This has been made much better, and I could sit in here for ages,

0:25:590:26:02

and I'd read my books, then I would look up at the views,

0:26:020:26:05

-then I'd let you go and make me a nice cup of coffee or a cold drink.

-Yeah, or a gin and tonic.

0:26:050:26:11

That's more like it.

0:26:110:26:12

A lot of work has gone into this place and I liked what I saw.

0:26:120:26:16

It'll be interesting to see what they think about this house.

0:26:160:26:19

Either they're having their cards really close to their chest

0:26:190:26:23

or they've been struck down by the wonder of it all.

0:26:230:26:26

-Hello.

-Hello.

-I'm very intrigued to know what you think about this house,

0:26:260:26:30

whether you like it more or less than the bungalow.

0:26:300:26:33

But we can discuss it elsewhere. Come with me.

0:26:330:26:36

As twilight turns to night over the two very different roofs of our Cumbrian properties,

0:26:460:26:50

Pat and Lyn have plenty to weigh up.

0:26:500:26:52

But coming up next is our mystery house,

0:26:540:26:58

-a property that's pretty green.

-An excellent idea. I love the ideas we're hearing.

0:26:580:27:02

But will high-tech really impress our low-tech couple in the end?

0:27:020:27:06

Only time will tell.

0:27:060:27:08

Day two and it did seem that Pat and Lyn responded very positively

0:27:100:27:14

to Cumbria and the two houses we showed them yesterday.

0:27:140:27:17

In fact, so positively, I was a bit surprised, maybe a bit suspicious,

0:27:170:27:20

whether they're keeping their cards to their chest

0:27:200:27:23

because it seemed that they liked everything pretty much in equal measure.

0:27:230:27:27

So it'll be interesting to see what they make of the mystery house, cos this is quite different.

0:27:270:27:32

What do you think the mystery house might involve, Lyn?

0:27:340:27:37

-Well, I'm hoping that maybe it will be a barn conversion...

-Uh-huh.

0:27:370:27:41

-..or a new build.

-Ah.

0:27:410:27:44

Why those two? Are those things that you're looking for?

0:27:440:27:47

-They are things that I'd be interested in.

-Yeah.

0:27:470:27:51

But part of the fun is trying to guess before you get there what the mystery house will look like.

0:27:510:27:56

Well, I think it looks pretty good.

0:27:560:27:59

We're heading to the East Cumbrian town of Cliburn.

0:27:590:28:02

Most of the houses here date from the 18th and 19th century

0:28:020:28:06

and historically the community has grown up around farming,

0:28:060:28:10

though it's a landscape of green fields and hills.

0:28:100:28:13

And the mystery house is almost as green.

0:28:130:28:15

It's a low-energy sustainable house in a close of three similar properties.

0:28:150:28:20

-Here's the mystery house.

-Ah, yes.

0:28:200:28:23

It's not a church, not a barn conversion.

0:28:230:28:25

But you were right, Lyn. It is a new build, cos this is actually one year old.

0:28:250:28:30

It's not quite a green house in terms of...

0:28:300:28:32

It's not completely green, but it's as good as.

0:28:320:28:36

It's an extremely environmentally energy-efficient dwelling.

0:28:360:28:40

-I like the look of it.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-Pat?

-Interesting.

0:28:400:28:44

Let's go out the back and I can show you some more features.

0:28:440:28:47

'All the bricks, slate and timbers in this house are reclaimed.

0:28:470:28:51

'But I think it's the energy and money-saving green aspects that Lyn and Pat will appreciate.'

0:28:510:28:57

Look at these amazing views.

0:28:570:28:59

-Again, we haven't short-changed you on views on this show, have we?

-No.

-You have not.

0:28:590:29:04

What I want to point out are the things on the roof.

0:29:040:29:06

This is a huge bank of solar panels which, when the sun is shining,

0:29:060:29:11

they generate electricity. And the electricity that you don't use -

0:29:110:29:15

for example, on a day like today - gets sold back to the National Grid.

0:29:150:29:20

So you actually make money, the money comes off your bill.

0:29:200:29:23

So overall in the whole year, your electricity bill

0:29:230:29:27

-for the property is around £100 to £150.

-That is excellent.

-Really?

0:29:270:29:32

-You see the silver panel up there?

-Yes.

0:29:320:29:35

That's what they call a photovoltaic cell

0:29:350:29:38

and that does your hot water. So all your water is done

0:29:380:29:40

when the sun's shining by that little chap up there.

0:29:400:29:44

-Marvellous.

-Let's look inside.

0:29:440:29:46

'They seem to like the green credentials, but what will they make of the interior?'

0:29:480:29:53

Let's come into the... This is the main space downstairs.

0:29:530:29:56

You can see it's unfurnished, but that's good, right?

0:29:560:29:59

-You can see your furniture here more easily?

-Yes, I can. It's a lovely big room. I like the beam.

0:29:590:30:05

I like the window sills.

0:30:050:30:06

-That's actually an interesting point because you can see here how thick the walls are.

-Yes.

0:30:060:30:11

They're all about almost a foot thick, and they're stuffed

0:30:110:30:15

with recycled newspaper, which is treated against fire and rodents.

0:30:150:30:19

So the house is incredibly well insulated.

0:30:190:30:22

The idea being that actually you don't need to heat houses if you've got all these windows.

0:30:220:30:27

They're double glazed and they've got argon gas between the panes of glass which stops the heat

0:30:270:30:32

escaping in the winter and stops the heat coming in in the summer.

0:30:320:30:37

On a hot day like today it's lovely and cool in here.

0:30:370:30:40

The reason for that is because we have what they call energy exchangers.

0:30:400:30:44

See these little circular vents? This is what they call a heat exchange system.

0:30:440:30:49

So it takes the stale hot air out and brings fresh cool air in

0:30:490:30:54

if you need it to be cooler. But in the winter, for example,

0:30:540:30:58

you don't want it to be too cold, so it takes the heat from the hot air

0:30:580:31:03

-and warms up the cool air coming in. So you get fresh warm air.

-That's a very good idea.

0:31:030:31:07

I've not heard of that in a house before.

0:31:070:31:09

These houses are obviously something of the future. Excellent idea. I love the ideas we're hearing.

0:31:090:31:16

Good ideas. Let's look at the kitchen.

0:31:160:31:19

Now this is the acid test for you, Lyn.

0:31:210:31:23

Will this kitchen cut the mustard?

0:31:240:31:27

-It's small.

-Definitely. But I think it's very nice.

0:31:280:31:31

Is it going to be big enough, though? You wanted a huge kitchen.

0:31:310:31:35

-I know, but I quite like what I see here.

-Oh, really?

0:31:350:31:38

Cos of course you have all this space as well, which is the utility room.

0:31:380:31:41

-But it is definitely downsizing.

-I know, but I could put up with that.

0:31:410:31:45

And you notice that we scrupulously removed the table.

0:31:450:31:49

There was a table for eight here but we took it out.

0:31:490:31:51

I jest, of course.

0:31:540:31:55

But if Lyn did want to make a larger kitchen or a separate dining room,

0:31:550:31:59

they could knock through into the integrated garage and replace the door with windows.

0:31:590:32:03

But let's head upstairs. There are four bedrooms in all.

0:32:030:32:06

On the first floor, there are two good-sized doubles

0:32:060:32:10

and a family bathroom.

0:32:100:32:12

Now, all the bedrooms upstairs are empty,

0:32:140:32:17

but this is the master bedroom, cos it's got an en-suite.

0:32:170:32:20

-That's good.

-Right.

-This view is nice.

-Yeah.

0:32:210:32:24

Even though you're looking over the roofs there, you can still see

0:32:240:32:28

the scenery and further into the distance. It really is lovely.

0:32:280:32:32

And then you've got another floor to explore, very excitingly.

0:32:320:32:37

We're up in the eaves. This is, well, the fourth bedroom.

0:32:420:32:45

It could be a study.

0:32:450:32:46

It could be something for the grandchildren.

0:32:460:32:48

I think this would be ideal for the grandchildren.

0:32:480:32:52

And here, this is the nerve centre

0:32:520:32:54

of your very green, energy-efficient house,

0:32:540:32:58

because this is where the heat-conversion unit lives.

0:32:580:33:02

This is the one, do you remember the one that takes out the stale hot air

0:33:020:33:05

-and brings in the fresh cool air?

-Yeah.

-It's nicely tucked away.

0:33:050:33:10

Well, that's it for the house.

0:33:100:33:13

Let's turn our attention outside. What you see is what you get.

0:33:130:33:16

The garden is all at the front of the house.

0:33:160:33:18

However, it does come with a pre-dug veggie patch.

0:33:180:33:22

So, self-sufficiency thrown in, too.

0:33:220:33:25

But how much will this eco lifestyle set them back?

0:33:250:33:27

Oh, Alistair, I'm frightened to guess.

0:33:270:33:29

I think it's way, way over budget. I think it would be at least 425,000.

0:33:290:33:36

What do you think, Pat?

0:33:360:33:37

I'm going to hope it's 400, and a lot less.

0:33:370:33:41

-400 and a lot less?

-Yeah.

0:33:410:33:43

Well, erm, yes, you're right, it is a lot less than 400.

0:33:430:33:47

This is on the market for 325.

0:33:470:33:49

-Good Lord.

-Are your sure, Alistair?

0:33:490:33:52

I'm sure. I don't make mistakes.

0:33:520:33:53

£325,000 will get you this very energy-efficient house.

0:33:530:33:58

I can't believe the price of the house.

0:33:580:34:00

I love it when people say that when I tell them the price. I'm happy.

0:34:000:34:03

Why don't you go in and have a look round,

0:34:030:34:06

-and then we'll meet out the front?

-OK.

-Lovely.

0:34:060:34:10

Our eco mystery house seems to be a huge hit.

0:34:100:34:12

On the market for £325,000, it's £75,000 under budget,

0:34:120:34:17

and although the smallest of our properties, it still has

0:34:170:34:21

a large open living/dining area, a modern kitchen and four bedrooms.

0:34:210:34:26

It's also incredibly energy efficient,

0:34:260:34:28

and Pat can even put his gardening skills to work

0:34:280:34:30

in the attached veggie patch.

0:34:300:34:32

They love our futuristic energy house,

0:34:320:34:35

but will it be part of their future?

0:34:350:34:37

The mystery house has really been a mystery,

0:34:390:34:42

and I must admit, I really do like it, and I know Pat likes it as well.

0:34:420:34:47

I love it. I love it. I absolutely love it.

0:34:470:34:51

And the lounge here, what a lovely... Yeah, what a lovely size.

0:34:530:34:59

When Alistair mentioned the figure of 325,

0:34:590:35:02

it was almost the time for high fives

0:35:020:35:05

and jumping up and down around the house.

0:35:050:35:07

I'll have to drag them out. Pat, Lyn? It's a very good sign.

0:35:080:35:12

Nice to have to drag you out of the mystery house.

0:35:130:35:16

That's fine. We've had a good look round.

0:35:160:35:18

-Good look round.

-Like what we see.

0:35:180:35:20

-You do, yes?

-Oh, yes.

-Lyn, you seem very struck by it.

0:35:200:35:23

I'm impressed with the kitchen as well.

0:35:230:35:25

I said I would not have a smaller kitchen than what I've got,

0:35:250:35:28

but I'm taken with the kitchen in there.

0:35:280:35:30

-I've won you over?

-You have. Definitely.

0:35:300:35:32

Well, you don't have to make any decisions right now,

0:35:320:35:35

cos we're going to go and cool down a bit,

0:35:350:35:37

and then we can discuss all properties in order.

0:35:370:35:40

Think of Cumbria and most of us will picture lakes and fells

0:35:520:35:55

or tourists and cake shops. Few of us will think about gypsies.

0:35:550:35:59

However, for one week of every year for well over 300 years,

0:36:000:36:03

one small town on the banks of the River Eden has played host

0:36:030:36:07

to the most important annual event of the Romany calendar -

0:36:070:36:10

the Appleby Horse Fair. Historically, gypsies have bred high-quality workhorses

0:36:100:36:14

known as coloured or cob horses to pull caravans

0:36:140:36:18

and to trade with farmers for centuries.

0:36:180:36:21

And to encourage this, in 1685 King James II granted

0:36:210:36:24

Britain's Romany gypsies a charter, licensing a yearly fair

0:36:240:36:29

in the small town of Appleby, where they could trade horses. They've been doing that ever since.

0:36:290:36:34

According to official figures,

0:36:340:36:36

there are 100,000 Romany gypsies in the UK, and each summer,

0:36:360:36:40

this is where they congregate, for both business and pleasure.

0:36:400:36:44

I've never had the chance to experience gypsy culture up close,

0:36:440:36:48

and was intrigued to find out more.

0:36:480:36:49

So, during the week, I headed to Appleby to meet up

0:36:490:36:52

with one of the most senior Romany men, Billy Welch.

0:36:520:36:56

-Morning.

-Thank you for taking time out,

0:36:570:36:59

cos I know this is your busiest time of the year.

0:36:590:37:02

-Not a problem.

-Now you're the shura'rom?

0:37:020:37:06

-Shura'rom, yeah.

-What's that?

0:37:060:37:07

Head gypsy. Shura is head, rom is gypsy.

0:37:070:37:09

In every single area, there's a spokesman or a representative

0:37:090:37:13

or the head of the family, and the word for it is shura'rom.

0:37:130:37:17

-I'm the shura'rom on Appleby Fair.

-So, you're the boss here?

0:37:170:37:20

-I'm the boss.

-What does Appleby mean for the Romany people?

0:37:200:37:23

This place is absolutely sacred to us. It is literally our Mecca.

0:37:230:37:26

It's unique on Planet Earth, is Appleby Fair,

0:37:260:37:29

and it's the only place where the gypsies can come

0:37:290:37:33

and practice their culture, their way of life, traditions

0:37:330:37:36

and meet up with family and friends what they haven't seen probably from

0:37:360:37:40

the Appleby Fair before that. It's, like, instinctive.

0:37:400:37:43

It gets to that time of the year, you don't ask if anybody is going -

0:37:430:37:47

everybody turns up. It's where young people do their courting.

0:37:470:37:51

I notice also that the courtship basically seems to take the form

0:37:510:37:54

of all the lads sort of on their horses with their shirts off,

0:37:540:37:57

and all the girls sort of like...

0:37:570:38:00

"Look at me, I've got the best horse and I'm the best rider."

0:38:000:38:03

And the young girls all dressed up, parading up and down

0:38:030:38:06

like a fashion parade. Yeah, like they're on a catwalk.

0:38:060:38:08

It's a delicate balance, isn't it, what you do here,

0:38:080:38:11

trying to make the fair work, keep your people happy,

0:38:110:38:14

keep the locals happy - how does that all work?

0:38:140:38:17

Well, to be truthful with you, Alistair, the meetings I go to -

0:38:170:38:20

and I go to quite a lot of meetings -

0:38:200:38:21

80% of it is about the settled community,

0:38:210:38:24

trying to make them happy. We've gone a long way

0:38:240:38:27

to improving relationships

0:38:270:38:29

between the settled community and our people.

0:38:290:38:31

Each year, it's getting better.

0:38:310:38:33

And they're enjoying it more, and we're enjoying it more.

0:38:330:38:37

As it is a horse fair, it's fair to assume horses play a big part

0:38:370:38:40

in the festivities. Gypsies know how to keep

0:38:400:38:42

their four-legged friends looking their best,

0:38:420:38:46

from presenting the horses in their finest riding gear

0:38:460:38:48

to washing them in the local River Eden.

0:38:480:38:51

What goes on at the river is one of the most striking things

0:38:510:38:54

about the fair. So Billy and I went to have a closer look.

0:38:540:38:58

Billy, this is possibly one of the most magical things I've ever seen.

0:38:580:39:01

Before they take them onto the corner to sell them,

0:39:010:39:03

they bring them down here and they wash them

0:39:030:39:06

in the river, wash them down, lather them up with soap powder

0:39:060:39:09

and shampoo, and get them all lathered up,

0:39:090:39:12

and then they ride them into the deep water and swill them down.

0:39:120:39:16

-It just looks so primal, and I've never seen anything like it.

-We've been doing this

0:39:160:39:20

ever since we arrived in this country, 500 years ago.

0:39:200:39:23

We've been bringing the horses here to wash them.

0:39:230:39:26

Once the horses are looking their best, they're shown off on the streets,

0:39:260:39:30

and one place that's a favourite

0:39:300:39:31

with the locals and the gypsies alike is known as the Flashing Lane.

0:39:310:39:35

If you want to buy a speed horse, or sell one, this is where you come to buy and sell them.

0:39:350:39:39

How fast do they go?

0:39:390:39:40

They go up to 40 miles an hour, some of these speed horses.

0:39:400:39:43

-So it's like taking it for a test spin?

-Taking it for a test drive.

0:39:430:39:47

Not sure I'm ready to take a test drive on the back of a horse

0:39:470:39:50

at 40 miles an hour, but the fair itself is truly remarkable.

0:39:500:39:54

Pat and Lyn have also been looking to make a deal

0:40:010:40:05

after trotting around three properties.

0:40:050:40:07

They've experienced Cumbria in all its glory,

0:40:070:40:10

but have any of the houses impressed them enough to saddle up

0:40:100:40:13

and make that all-important move to the country?

0:40:130:40:17

Well, a surprise barrel of enthusiasm for the mystery house

0:40:180:40:21

means that it looks like maybe that will take the Cumbrian biscuit.

0:40:210:40:25

Let's find out which one they choose.

0:40:250:40:27

Here you are, and you've picked a typically beautiful spot,

0:40:330:40:36

because Cumbria's really come up trumps

0:40:360:40:39

on the quiet countryside front, hasn't it?

0:40:390:40:42

It definitely has. I could sit and listen to the birds singing all day.

0:40:420:40:45

The birds are almost deafening here.

0:40:450:40:47

But it's a good spot to kind of collect our thoughts.

0:40:470:40:50

It's easier if we go through the houses one by one,

0:40:500:40:53

and then we can talk about those in turn.

0:40:530:40:56

The first one I showed you was the bungalow.

0:40:560:40:59

Originally, I fell in love with the bungalow.

0:40:590:41:01

I saw us living there, but not now.

0:41:010:41:05

Ah, things have changed!

0:41:050:41:08

I liked the bungalow. I liked the way it had been set out,

0:41:080:41:13

the extensions that they'd done, which overlooked the rear garden.

0:41:130:41:16

So, the second house was a big property.

0:41:160:41:19

It was a very big property. But I just don't think it was right for us.

0:41:190:41:23

I liked the size of the rooms. A lot of work done on that house,

0:41:230:41:27

and it grew on me. As you went to the staircase and went up,

0:41:270:41:30

the house grew on me, but...

0:41:300:41:33

You didn't like the table in the kitchen? That was almost a deal breaker for you?

0:41:330:41:37

It was, cos I know Pat won't have a table in the kitchen.

0:41:370:41:41

So it all went wrong with the table in the kitchen.

0:41:410:41:43

What about the mystery house, though? Because that seemed to really enchant you both.

0:41:430:41:48

When I saw the mystery house, I liked the look from the outside,

0:41:480:41:51

but when we went inside, I just fell in love with it.

0:41:510:41:54

It was beautiful inside.

0:41:540:41:56

Looking back, can you pinpoint what it is

0:41:560:41:58

that you love about it so much?

0:41:580:42:00

Well, strangely enough, I loved the kitchen.

0:42:000:42:03

I always said I would not have a kitchen smaller than I've got.

0:42:030:42:06

But I just feel that one is right for me.

0:42:060:42:08

I like the mystery house very much, top to bottom.

0:42:080:42:13

So, I've kind of got a good guess

0:42:130:42:15

which you might say is your favourite,

0:42:150:42:18

but which one was your favourite?

0:42:180:42:20

-Definitely the mystery house.

-Said without a hesitation!

0:42:200:42:23

-Pat, do you agree?

-I do agree, by a distance.

0:42:230:42:26

What might happen next? I know that you're waiting to sell your house.

0:42:260:42:29

I mean, are you so convinced by the beauties of Cumbria

0:42:290:42:32

that you'd move up here?

0:42:320:42:34

I really hope to move up to Cumbria, and into that mystery house.

0:42:340:42:38

And it's so green and peaceful.

0:42:380:42:40

What more could you want than listen to the birds singing?

0:42:400:42:43

Well, I hope it all happens.

0:42:430:42:45

I hope your house sells lickety-split

0:42:450:42:47

and that you come up to this beautiful countryside

0:42:470:42:50

and can indeed enjoy the birdsong.

0:42:500:42:52

Thank you, Alistair.

0:42:520:42:53

That was one of the most extraordinary house hunts

0:42:580:43:01

I've ever been involved with here in Escape.

0:43:010:43:04

Pat and Lyn, never been to Cumbria before,

0:43:040:43:06

only seen it on the telly, suddenly converted,

0:43:060:43:09

as if the scales had dropped from their eyes,

0:43:090:43:11

when they saw the mystery house.

0:43:110:43:13

That's the sort of result we like on the show.

0:43:130:43:15

So, make sure you join us next time for more Escape To The Country.

0:43:150:43:19

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland,

0:43:220:43:24

Northern Ireland, Wales or England and would like our help,

0:43:240:43:28

please apply online at bbc.co.uk/beonashow.

0:43:280:43:33

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:330:43:35

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:350:43:37

Alistair Appleton is visiting Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria. The house hunters he meets are after a period home with a budget of 400,000 pounds, but surprisingly the ultra-modern eco-friendly mystery house gets a very warm reception.


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