Devon Escape to the Country


Devon

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This magnificent structure behind me

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is known as the last castle to be built in England.

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Created to evoke a real sense of medieval pedigree,

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it took 20 years of agony and effort to realise.

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It was the culmination of one man's dream,

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to create a beautiful home in a beautiful location.

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Something, of course, we know all about on Escape To The Country.

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On today's show, I'll be helping a couple downsize with a move to the country.

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However, they love the fact that it gives them more than they bargained for.

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Wow! Wow! Cor blimey!

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Lovely!

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Wow! Fabulous!

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How fantastic!

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But can they cope with the challenge of our mystery house?

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Is it pick-axe work, or...? It needs a lot of... You never use a pick-axe in the house, dear!

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Today I'm in Devon and this is Castle Drogo,

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the vision of early-20th-century entrepreneur Julius Drewe.

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The building was designed by Lutyens

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but is thought to be the last private residence in the UK to be built entirely of granite.

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A spectacular structure in a spectacular setting

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here on Dartmoor overlooking the Teign Valley.

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It's also a lasting testament to Drewe's ambitions to create a real family home full of pedigree.

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It's been a very welcome addition to the landscape ever since.

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Situated in the south-west of England,

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Devon is home to both magnificent countryside and coast,

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attracting over five million visitors a year.

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It's the only county in England with two distinctly separate coastlines

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totalling over 250 miles of stunning cliffs and beaches

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which grace the English Riviera resorts of Torquay and Paignton.

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Inland, Devon is renowned for its gentle pastures

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and two national parks, which include the wild landscape of Dartmoor

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and sweeping vistas of Exmoor.

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Regularly voted as one of the most tranquil places to live in the UK,

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it's no surprise that a survey singled out Devon as the county of choice to retire to.

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No surprise that Devon remains as popular as ever.

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Which is exactly why today's buyers want to move here.

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Alan, a retired IT analyst, and Pat, a counsellor,

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have lived in their four-bed house in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire,

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for eight years. But now Pat is winding down her work,

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they've decided to move to the countryside.

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We'd like to move somewhere quieter,

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somewhere to get more involved in the community.

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We've always liked to be somewhere nearer the sea.

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I'd like to be able to go out walking.

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Alan and I have nothing else to do except enjoy the countryside

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and so I'm hoping to retire and just take it easy.

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But they want the location to give them the best of both worlds.

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We'd quite like to be somewhere near a large village,

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to pick up the shopping and go out for a meal, et cetera.

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Yes, and doing some nice nature walks as well.

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We'd like three bedrooms. We'd prefer a detached,

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but we'd be happy to look at a semidetached if it was full of character. And a decent size.

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My ideal house, I think, would be in a nice setting

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so that it looks pretty, looks nice, when you drive up to it.

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A nice garden at the back with an area where I could do my vegetables.

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Walk into a beautiful kitchen with clean lines, nice tiles on the floor,

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a big area so that there's room to dine. A good-sized lounge,

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with maybe a lovely marble fireplace.

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There are beautiful marble fireplaces, and a woodburning stove.

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Even though Pat's planning to retire, she wants to do some occasional counselling work.

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So she'll want an extra reception room, but is happy to share it

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when Alan wants to strum a few chords.

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On top of that, they'd be delighted if their new property gave them the scope to earn an income.

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We're quite interested in maybe a place with an annexe

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that we could rent out in summer.

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And maybe have the family over the other times.

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With that in mind, what budget do they have for the move?

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With an annexe it would be ?450,000.

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Without an annexe it would be ?350,000.

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In some ways, we've got two house searches going on this week.

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If we blow all the budget of ?450,000, we need a house and an annexe with income potential.

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Or if we spend less, we just need a pretty house. So in some ways, the choices are endless.

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Alan and Pat want to base themselves in the south-east of Devon within reach of the coast,

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so we'll concentrate the search round Exeter.

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I'll show them three "creme de la creme" Devon properties

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but as ever I won't reveal the price tag straightaway.

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Lastly, our mystery house, which gives generously on the one hand

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but could take a lot of their time up on the other.

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Hi, Pat. Hi, Alan. How are you? Good, thank you. Good, thanks.

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Welcome to Devon. We're looking forward to it.

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In terms of what you're after, talk me through your requirements.

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If it's old, that would be super because it's full of character.

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But I don't want to have to re-roof it or be worried that the pipes will fail.

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So maintenance free. Something that's old and maybe been renovated.

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That would be fantastic. So you don't want a major project, but what about a new kitchen or bathroom?

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No problem. Absolutely no problem. But we're not big DIY-ers.

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Well, no.

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Poor old Alan! He's thinking, "I don't want a lot of work, Jules!"

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We've got some great properties for you to look at. I'm looking forward to it. Yeah.

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Let's get started.

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For a maximum budget of ?450,000, Pat and Alan would like...

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They want to be within easy reach of village amenities

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and a community.

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We're starting our search close to the village of Kingskerswell,

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on the outskirts of the Dartmoor National Park,

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four miles from the south coast.

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The village serves up all the amenities they could ask for

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and has a parish church whose tower dates back to the 14th century.

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Among the grand Victorian properties occupying a prime spot

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on the outlying edges is our first property

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which comes with fabulous views.

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Right, in you come.

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What do you think of this, then? Wow! Wow!

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Cor blimey! Blimey, that's exciting!

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It's amazing! I'm impressed. At the moment, it looks stunning.

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I'm knocked out. You get the idea.

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It's a big, substantial family home. It looks fantastic. Brilliant.

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Let's see if you think it's brilliant inside.

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Wow!

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It's terrific. The staircase is original.

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You have some lovely features. Yes.

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They get better as we go through. Can't wait. Follow me. Look at this.

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Wow! Yeah? Look at the view!

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Amazing.

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You wanted light. Yeah, this is lovely. Can't get much more light.

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It's sweet, isn't it? This is a lovely room.

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Fireplace is original. Yeah. It's unusual because you've got the window above the fireplace. Unusual.

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Absolutely. It's beautiful. Beautiful.

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We've only just scratched the surface as next door there's a generous study

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which one of them could claim as theirs.

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Let's see the splendour in the dining room.

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There we are. A bit of opulence for you. They've set the table. Yes.

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That's lovely. Another nice fireplace.

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A big room. The nice thing about these houses

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is that they were designed with dining and entertainment in mind.

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That was the Victorian thing. See the little door in the corner?

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There used to be a dumb waiter that would operate downstairs.

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Wow. It's not there any more, but that's the old vestige of it.

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Very nice, yes.

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Is this a surprise, Alan? A big surprise, actually.

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After the grandeur we've seen so far, the more functional areas include a handy utility room

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and a downstairs shower room.

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But they may find that the kitchen brings them back down to earth.

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Now, for such a big house... A small kitchen.

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It is quite a small kitchen. The reason being,

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that most of the cooking would have happened underneath us.

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So in more recent years, it's been brought up

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in the way that we would all have now, without servants.

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But in terms of kitchen, would this work? Yeah,

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but it's not really the kitchen/dining room I was hoping for. That's the compromise.

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It is a bit of a compromise.

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Hopefully, it'll be a compromise that Pat's happy to consider

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after she's seen what's on offer upstairs.

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Along with a lavish family bathroom are four bedrooms including a bright, spacious double

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and another double with a feature fireplace.

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The third has light streaming in but let's see if the main bedroom makes a grand impression.

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Mmm! Nice! Wow! Nice. It's a nice room, isn't it?

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Good size. What we haven't got is an en-suite.

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I know it's something you'd like. It would be nice.

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But I guess most of the time it's just you two. Yeah.

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It would be nice, but it's not a deal-breaker.

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As a room, I think it's lovely. It's a lovely big room.

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It's an amazing home, it just feels very large to me, compared to what we've been living in.

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We're trying to downsize a bit, and it's huge!

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But it certainly is a lovely house.

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Come and take a look. It's huge. Come and check this out.

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We're testing the water with this house,

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but if they want an annexe, there will always need to be a bit of give and take.

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Served by its own entrance, the annexe is on the lower level and built into the hillside,

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benefiting from a fine bay window which makes the most of that view.

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Leading off the hallway is a lovely large sitting room

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with a working fireplace.

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Along with a guest bedroom, there's a dressing room and serviceable bathroom.

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So now we've got to grips with the property,

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let's explore outside.

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You get quite an imposing view of the house.

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This is the annexe floor. Good grief. Huge, isn't it? Yes.

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It is huge. Then the whole thing wiggles through this terraced pathway.

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It's your own woodland walk!

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The terraced garden comes in at around quarter of an acre.

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The pathway snakes down the hillside and is flanked on either side

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by a variety of mature trees and shrubs.

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But what's the price to be paid for all of this?

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OK. Here we are at the bottom of your winding terraced garden.

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It's quite a journey, once you get here. Yes. Very extensive. Yeah.

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There we are. Property number one. Let's put you out of your misery and talk about what it's worth.

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Boy, that is a difficult one. Hmm.

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I reckon this must be 460. I'll be optimistic and say 450.

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450. As well you should be. Cos it's ?450,000.

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Well done. Yeah.

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It was on the market for more than that. Brilliant value.

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It's been reduced so you're getting a lot for your money.

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Bang on budget at ?450,000, this fabulous Victorian villa

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certainly gives them enough space and a wealth of period features.

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A charming terraced garden with views

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and country walks on the doorstep.

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All within easy reach of a popular village.

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It's getting quite exciting, isn't it? Yes.

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Wonder what else we can find you.

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Castle Drogo's magnificent standing

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makes it the only Grade I listed 20th-century building in Devon.

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Its founder, Julius Drewe, wanted to display not only his wealth,

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but his aristocratic aspirations for the family name.

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The result was a 20th-century palace that combines the grandeur of a medieval castle

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with designs for the modern era, pioneered by the great British architect, Edwin Lutyens.

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I'm meeting Bryon Mason who, as house and collections manager,

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knows all about Drewe's vision.

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Tell me a bit more about Julius Drewe. He sounds fascinating.

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Yes, a really interesting man. He started out working as a tea buyer in China.

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But in 1878, he and his business partner set up what became known as the Home and Colonial Stores.

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Immensely successful,

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and he sold the shares for ?1 million

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and decided to retire at the grand old age of 33!

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The 100 rooms inside continue Lutyens' modern take on the medieval theme

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but he did have fun with his architectural styles,

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employing them to great effect in the library.

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The intention was to make it feel like the Norman keep of this castle.

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So there's a huge fireplace. The bookcases are intentionally made

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to look like they've been inserted into this arch at a later date.

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Lutyens' trick of suggesting that different parts of the castle were built at different periods

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led him to create a drawing room in the Georgian style.

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Looking after this must be quite extraordinary. Is it in good shape?

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In some ways. It's a very robust building, built of granite.

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However, it is a building that comes with its own particular set of problems.

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Julius Drewe insisted that because he was having a real castle,

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it had to have a flat roof which basically doesn't work.

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Technology has finally caught up with the great Lutyens

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and an ?11 million restoration project is due to start in 2012,

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which will hopefully preserve this unique building

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so it may age gracefully for generations to come.

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Our house search continues half an hour's drive inland

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close to the village of Sampford Courtenay.

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With a population of 500, this idyllic village is teeming with thatched buildings

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including the local pub, and a variety of other period properties.

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Just outside the village is our second offering.

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Crunch, crunch, crunch!

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What do you think? This looks lovely. Lovely.

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Doesn't it? That looks really nice. Very different to our first property. Yes.

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Victorian grandeur, if you like. This is classic Devon cottage,

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albeit in a barn conversion. It looks really nice, much more me.

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Really? How about Alan? Much more me, as well.

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Really? Great.

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Let's go in! Let's have a look.

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There's no doubt the style of this barn conversion really appeals to them.

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I have high hopes that our first room will set Pat's hopes soaring.

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Come on in, Pat.

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Lovely! Wow! Oh, fabulous. How fantastic!

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This is lovely. Really is lovely.

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Just what you always wanted. Super, isn't it? Yeah, really nice.

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It's taken your breath away a bit. Yeah, you've done well here, Jules.

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This is lovely.

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You know, it is gorgeous. But what do you particularly love?

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It's just a really nice feel to it.

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A really good feel to it.

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And it's big and spacious. It just feels really nice.

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It's a brilliant kitchen/diner.

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It's a great space. Lovely space.

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The good news is there is a bit more to it. Have a look at this through here.

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Next door has a similarly light, airy feel, but with the warm touch they're after.

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Oh, yes. Very nice. We could spend a few cosy evenings here!

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And that will belt out the heat. Oh, yeah. I'd imagine so.

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You've got this nice vaulting which continues from the kitchen. Lovely.

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So far, so good on the second property. Come on, follow me.

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Yeah.

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The manageable size and clean lines of this barn conversion

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have won them over so far.

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At the other end of the property is a downstairs bathroom and two of the four bedrooms,

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one of which could serve as Pat's counselling room,

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another could be Alan's music room.

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But we'll head upstairs and see what they make of the master.

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Gosh!

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Yeah. Now we're talking!

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En-suite. En-suite as well. Very nice.

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What about the shape? Very strange. It's lovely!

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Very nice. Absolutely lovely.

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That is really, really nice. Yeah?

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Yeah, very quirky. Just right.

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At the other end of the landing, the fourth bedroom would make a good guest room.

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Looks like our barn conversion has served up the perfect mix of character and space,

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providing a great low-maintenance option.

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Outside is a useful double garage, next to which is a large lawned area

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which gives Pat ample scope to create her vegetable patch.

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Just a few steps along the country lane, this cottage garden complete with summer house

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is a real oasis of calm and runs down to the River Tor.

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But before we get carried away, it's time for some straight talking.

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Beautiful, isn't it? Beautiful. So.

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Very nice. How much do you want it?

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Yes, you know what's coming next. How much is it worth?

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This is a seriously interesting property. I think it's up for 375.

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I'm going to be dead cheeky and say about 340.

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Bit of a difference, there. Yes.

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There is a difference. Yeah.

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375 would be fair enough. It's your lucky day, madam.

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This is ?340,000. No! You're joking. You've done it again! Done it again.

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That's amazing. That's good. Have you been looking at my notes? No, I haven't!

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Good. It's a nice one, isn't it? It's lovely. Lovely. Lovely.

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Good way to end the day. Yeah. Yes.

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On a high. Yes. Certainly.

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On the market at ?340,000, our barn conversion is so generously under budget

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they could forget the holiday annexe as a source of extra income.

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So as the sun sets over the Devon countryside,

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it marks the end of our first day's property search.

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Well, as you can probably tell, it's a very misty and chilly start

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to our final day's house-hunting here in Devon.

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Our first property yesterday may have been too big

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and our second one may have been too rural for Alan.

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So for our mystery house, our final property, we need to strike a happy balance between the two.

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I think it does.

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For our mystery house, we're staying in Sampford Courtenay

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but we're going right to the heart of the village.

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It's all beautifully preserved with a strong sense of community

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which our mystery property is at the heart of.

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This cottage gives them a great option to downsize

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but there's definitely work to be done.

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However, it does give generously in other ways

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which can be best appreciated from round the back.

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Turn round

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and survey the scene.

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Wow. Wow.

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I thought we'd start up here on this one.

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We usually start at the front of our properties, but the key to this one

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is what it's got.

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I think it's important we set that out to start with.

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What you get is that building down there. Yeah.

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It's semi-detached, so your bit is effectively the rendered area to the left

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and what's above it, and the garage, the yard,

0:20:510:20:54

and that annexe there. Oh, that comes with it?

0:20:540:20:56

That comes with it. It looks lovely.

0:20:560:20:59

Yeah. It looks lovely. Very exciting.

0:20:590:21:01

Now, in fairness, whilst the annexe is all done, the house does need... Some work. ..some work. OK.

0:21:010:21:07

All right? Is it pick-axe work? It needs... You never use a pick-axe in the house, dear.

0:21:070:21:14

It needs a lot of updating.

0:21:140:21:16

You may have to bend your minds to more of a project than we'd considered. OK.

0:21:160:21:23

We'll explore the project that comes with the house later. First, I'll whet their appetite with the annexe.

0:21:230:21:29

Let's start in here.

0:21:290:21:31

This is the living/dining area of your annexe.

0:21:310:21:36

Nice. Yeah? Very nice.

0:21:360:21:39

Nice kitchen.

0:21:390:21:40

Oak floors. Doors out to what could be a nice patio.

0:21:400:21:45

I can imagine with a bit of dressing you could put your mark on this

0:21:450:21:49

and make it a very warm place for clients to come to.

0:21:490:21:52

It's lovely. I'd be thrilled if I came here as a holiday let. I'd be really pleased.

0:21:520:21:59

Down the hallway is a well furnished shower room and double guest bedroom.

0:21:590:22:03

So now we'll cross the yard and get to grips with the project the mystery house has in store.

0:22:030:22:09

Grab the door, Alan. Sure.

0:22:110:22:13

Follow me across here.

0:22:130:22:15

It's very cosy, isn't it? Very cosy, isn't it?

0:22:150:22:20

It's not the huge kitchen/diner that you wanted.

0:22:200:22:24

Certainly it's functional enough that you could basically move in

0:22:240:22:29

and then start thinking about how to go about it.

0:22:290:22:32

There's this area through here. The dining bit of what's on offer.

0:22:320:22:37

With that range in the fireplace.

0:22:370:22:40

A nice little bread oven tucked away in the corner. Oh, wow.

0:22:400:22:44

Some nice features in there. Absolutely.

0:22:440:22:47

The living room is less of a challenge. Have a look.

0:22:470:22:50

An office arrangement there, another door out. That's nice. Handy.

0:22:500:22:56

This is the bit that really works for me,

0:22:560:22:59

down here. Nice big room. Good size. Nice and square.

0:22:590:23:02

Hmm.

0:23:020:23:03

It has a potential, without a doubt. It's just seeing that potential at the moment.

0:23:030:23:08

Yeah. Ideal location. Yeah. Lovely annexe. Yeah.

0:23:080:23:12

It's what it's about. It's this section we have to think about.

0:23:120:23:15

I imagine they would also want to put their decorative mark on the three bedrooms upstairs.

0:23:150:23:21

One a cosy double, along with a good-sized single

0:23:210:23:24

with storage cupboards, and the third just big enough for a bed.

0:23:240:23:28

Although turning this house into something that will suit them may seem a daunting task,

0:23:280:23:33

the outside space is impressively large

0:23:330:23:35

with an array of lawned areas and a substantial vegetable plot for Pat to cultivate.

0:23:350:23:41

At the top of the hill, the land flattens out to give them a huge two-acre field.

0:23:410:23:47

Our mystery house throws a host of unexpected elements into the mix.

0:23:470:23:51

But at what price?

0:23:510:23:52

Question is, how much do you want it?

0:23:520:23:56

Yes, how much. Or how much would it have to be to persuade you to buy it?

0:23:560:24:00

That's the other way of putting it.

0:24:000:24:02

I think I would say it may be on the market for...

0:24:020:24:06

..375.

0:24:060:24:09

It's exactly what I was going to say. But I can't say the same,

0:24:090:24:12

so I'll go lower than you and say 365.

0:24:120:24:15

365. 375.

0:24:150:24:17

You have done it again! She hasn't! I've not!

0:24:170:24:20

This is embarrassing. It's on the market for ?375,000.

0:24:200:24:23

I've watched too many of your programmes! We've never had anybody get it right three times in a row!

0:24:230:24:28

Amazing. Yes, ?375,000. Yes. That does leave a lot in the budget. Doesn't it?

0:24:280:24:34

Priced at ?375,000, our mystery cottage not only offers them an option to downsize,

0:24:380:24:44

but leaves plenty in the pot for the project.

0:24:440:24:47

There are also the appealing pluses:

0:24:470:24:50

All wrapped up in a very desirable village location.

0:25:000:25:04

Let's get you somewhere where you can mull it all over.

0:25:040:25:07

We'll have a chat. Come on. Lovely.

0:25:070:25:09

Well, there's no doubt we've given Pat and Alan a fantastic range of options

0:25:200:25:24

to meet their property requirements.

0:25:240:25:27

But have we got them any closer to finding their dream home in the country?

0:25:270:25:31

Let's go and ask them.

0:25:310:25:33

The question is, have we managed to find you your new dream house?

0:25:360:25:40

We started with that lovely Victorian villa set high on the hill

0:25:400:25:44

with its holiday annexe set underneath it.

0:25:440:25:47

That was fantastic, wasn't it?

0:25:470:25:50

It was beautiful. It was really elegant. The rooms were tall with high ceilings.

0:25:500:25:54

Victorian features.

0:25:540:25:56

But I also felt that we'd be rattling around in it. Too large for us.

0:25:560:26:00

OK. Then we took you from Victorian grandeur

0:26:000:26:06

to cosy barn conversion.

0:26:060:26:07

You said, if I remember rightly, "This is more me." Yes.

0:26:070:26:11

Absolutely. It was much more me.

0:26:110:26:13

You felt that, too. It was more me, as well. Yeah.

0:26:130:26:16

That was really nice. It was lovely and light.

0:26:160:26:19

The property was fine.

0:26:190:26:22

But the location we thought was just a bit too rural for us.

0:26:220:26:28

That led us nicely on to our final day and to our mystery house

0:26:280:26:34

which certainly had lots of neighbours on offer. Absolutely.

0:26:340:26:37

A beautiful village. Now, then.

0:26:370:26:40

We started with the holiday annexe that came with it,

0:26:400:26:43

which you seemed to like. It was very well done.

0:26:430:26:46

I thought it was very lettable.

0:26:460:26:48

But I did warn you that the house did need a bit of imagination.

0:26:480:26:51

Yes. You weren't exaggerating there!

0:26:510:26:54

I wasn't exaggerating in some respects.

0:26:540:26:58

Now, when I revealed the price to you, 375,

0:26:580:27:01

you certainly did have the money to do it.

0:27:010:27:04

So would you do it?

0:27:040:27:06

I'm doubtful. I don't know.

0:27:060:27:09

I don't think we want to compromise the house for the sake of an annexe.

0:27:090:27:16

So we're going to stay with the 350 and start really looking for the right property for us.

0:27:160:27:22

I think we have shown you the range of options. Yes.

0:27:220:27:25

It's redefined your focus. I'm delighted that's the case.

0:27:250:27:29

I'm very glad we've seen those properties. Yes.

0:27:290:27:32

They were all very interesting. It was good to see the ones with the annexe

0:27:320:27:36

and for us to understand that actually the property is a priority.

0:27:360:27:40

Maybe we're clouding the issue by looking at both.

0:27:400:27:43

Guys, very best of luck with your house search.

0:27:430:27:46

Enjoy your retirement. Thank you.

0:27:460:27:49

And let us know how you get on. Thank you so much. Thank you. It was brilliant.

0:27:490:27:53

Trying to find a house with an annexe in the right location

0:27:570:28:02

for their maximum budget of ?450,000 has proved to be something of a tall order.

0:28:020:28:08

So their house search goes on.

0:28:080:28:10

But it'll be much simpler. They'll be looking for a home first and a business second.

0:28:100:28:14

See you next time!

0:28:140:28:15

If you want to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,

0:28:150:28:18

Northern Ireland, England or even further afield to the continent

0:28:180:28:22

and would like our help, please apply online:

0:28:220:28:24

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:430:28:46

Planet Earth - it's unique. It has life.

0:28:570:29:01

To understand why, we're going to build a planet...up there.

0:29:010:29:07

These were the objects that were making the Earth.

0:29:090:29:12

Jules Hudson is in Devon, helping a couple with a budget of £450,000 find a home with bags of West Country character. We step back in time as Jules is given a private tour of Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England.


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