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Welcome to Escape To The Country.
Behind me is the entrance to a quarry cave
and if its walls could speak,
it would tell fantastic tales of Roman soldiers, Saxon miners and medieval masons,
plus one or two tall tales of smugglers and pirates stashing their booty. Where am I?
Well, join me on Escape To The Country and I'll show you.
In today's show I'll be helping a couple leave life
in the busy Buckinghamshire commuter belt behind
to find their perfect home in the country, and it's not without its challenges.
We don't want to make it too easy for you.
Yes, you like a challenge.
Yes, that's what they keep telling me.
I'll show them some enticing properties in the hope that they take the bait.
Do you like fish?
No, we've just filled in our fish pond.
Then there's the mystery house which is sure to add some 21st century cool.
Today I'm in Devon, or should I say underneath it really, because I've decided to start my visit here
at the caves at Beer on the south coast.
If you want to get an idea of why the architecture
of this county is so special, this is a great place to start.
In fact, the county's stone also underpins its rich geological history.
At the south western arm of England
Devon sits between the counties of Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.
It is the only county in the UK to have two separate coastlines,
and breathtaking they are too.
With World Heritage status,
the East Devon coast forms part of the stunning Jurassic coastline,
95 miles of fossilised rock face recording 185 million years of the Earth's history.
Dramatic landscapes continue inland with the green patchwork fields
serving Devon's active farming industry.
Traditional stone cottages are a strong feature of the local architecture,
although we won't be seeing many of those on today's house search.
So whether it's coast or countryside, Devon offers up
plenty of options for those seeking a change of scenery
and a slower pace of life.
If you were lucky enough to have bought your home
here in Devon five years ago you were very, very fortunate indeed
because the odds are that was the last time you could have come here and snapped up a real bargain.
Since then house prices have risen
a whopping 20% above the national average which means that your normal
four-bedroomed detached will now set you back around £280,000.
If you want something a little more secluded
or on the coast you can add a cool 15% to 20% on top of that.
Even beach huts here are hugely expensive,
so clearly Devon isn't cheap but it does remain popular.
The question is why.
Well, when you get an idea of what is on the market right now, you'll know.
For top dollar rural splendour you could splash out on this
five-bedroom Grade II listed farmhouse at £1.1 million.
Along with the elegant reception rooms and attractive family kitchen
the property also includes two holiday cottages
and top notch stabling,
all set in 32 acres.
For just shy of 600 grand this striking four bedroom eco home
overlooking Totnes is certainly a one-off.
Its locally sourced oak and Douglas fir timber frame
and contemporary open plan layout make it a stylish low-energy house.
On the terrace there are panoramic views and a wildlife pond.
And what about this converted three bedroom chapel in Bere Alston for £360,000?
You could take a pew in the kitchen diner
or in the double height living room.
And the landscape garden leaves you in no doubt as to the building's origins.
You know I have to confess I love coming to Devon,
particularly to go house hunting.
Not just because it's got some fantastic properties in abundance,
as you can see, but also because of this,
wonderful coastline wrapped around a stunning landscape inside.
It's the perfect place I think to escape to the country,
so no surprise that today's buyers want to come here too.
Today it's the turn of Jill, a holistic therapist, and Jazz,
an accountant, who live in a four bedroom detached house in Denham, Buckinghamshire.
They feel they've outgrown their current home and are looking
for a completely fresh start with their dog Arthur in the country.
Jill's been in this property for about 15 years now
and I've been here about eight.
We got married about a year and a half ago
and just feel it's time to buy something together now.
Only their youngest daughter Eleanor will be moving with them
but they want to accommodate all eight children from their previous
marriages in their new home so there are some important considerations.
I really love this kitchen, I love the layout of it,
but we've got a large family
and we need to sit eight to ten people round the table with ease.
This is our garden.
It's quite a large garden as it is but what we're looking for is
about an acre where Arthur can run around
and hopefully we've got some room for a vegetable plot
where we can grow our own vegetables.
We really like this room because it's got such large open windows
and it's very light and airy.
We're quite sort of modern, minimalistic people,
we definitely don't like sort of dark pokey windows at all.
They've certainly got definite ideas on what they don't want.
We don't want beams. We don't want open brickwork.
Thatched roof, we don't want that either.
-And not on a main road.
Hm, this could be an interesting house hunt.
So what's the draw to Devon?
Jill comes from Devon. Her parents are still there.
We go to Devon a lot and we just love the countryside out there.
We want to be closer to Jill's parents as well.
Especially as they're getting older.
But we don't want to be too far away so the children can come and visit as well.
So with this being the first property they're buying together
do they think they'll agree?
I think it should be quite easy for us to agree on a property
because our tastes are quite similar.
Jill chooses it and I agree.
Yes, you've learned those two important little words,
"Yes, dear," haven't you?
With the move on the horizon
we've arranged for a local estate agent to value their property.
This is an extremely well presented four bedroom detached house
with a lovely garden in a very popular location.
I would suggest a valuation of around £465,000.
With that in mind, how much do they have in their budget?
If the property ticks all our boxes, we're looking to spend £550,000.
Now the good news is that Jazz and Jill don't want to be near the coast
so their already fairly sizeable budget of over half a million pounds
should go that little bit further.
Who knows, they might even get a few neighbours like these thrown in to boot.
The other nice thing
is that this is the first home they'll have bought together,
will they agree on their ideal home? I wonder.
With family in Sidmouth and Lyme Regis, Jill and Jazz are looking
to focus their search in east Devon around the town of Honiton.
I'll be taking them on a tour of some great properties
but, as ever, I won't be revealing the prices right away.
And then there's the mystery house,
which could always throw our house hunters off course.
-Well, hello there.
-Nice to see you. Hi, Jazz, how are you?
Well, here we are then in Devon,
back where it all began for you, Jill.
-Mm, how lovely.
Did you ever think you'd come back to Sidmouth?
No, I didn't, no. But we're at the sort of stage now where we're just
looking for something a bit quieter and we like this part of the world.
-Well, let's have a think about your budget. It's, what, 550...?
-And for that you want three bedrooms,
a couple of reception rooms but a big kitchen.
It's the kitchen really that's going to sell us any property.
OK. Now, although we are technically on Escape To The Country,
and we are in a beautiful part of the country Devon has some fantastic local architecture,
you don't really want a traditional country house, do you?
Not really, no, because we do like sort of, we like modern.
-Modern, minimalistic really.
-Yeah, we don't want beams.
No. Dark wood. No. So have you found something for us?
Well, we have got some very interesting properties
for you to look at.
Go at all of them with an open mind.
-Don't get too hung up on the odd detail...
Because often knowing what you do like is harder to put your finger on.
Let's see if we can inspire you with the properties we've got. Come on.
With a budget of £550,000 Jill and Jazz want a three to four bedroom
detached house with a large kitchen diner and plenty of outside space.
They don't want to be staring at beams all day.
Modern interiors are a must.
I have a feeling this wish list might make our house search tricky.
Let's see if I'm right as we get on the road.
You bring a collection of eight children to your
current partnership, what do they think about you moving to Devon?
They think it's great.
They're looking forward to somewhere to go at weekends.
The initial reaction was, "You're not moving that far away, are you?"
When we explained that it's only going to be two hours away
and that they could come down for weekends
they were quite up for it.
We've just got to the stage in our lives where we want
sort of a quieter life, I suppose, and sort of work in the garden
and get our vegetable plot.
I know it sounds old, it makes us sound really old, doesn't it?
On the contrary, it's an aspiration held by many of our escapees,
so hopefully our house search will come up roses.
For our first property takes us 14 miles from Honiton
to the quiet village of Chardstock, nestled in the Blackdown Hills.
Chardstock and the surrounding countryside is prime walking territory,
perfect for Jill, Jazz and dog, Arthur.
The village atmosphere is well preserved
with pretty thatched cottages and, at its heart,
and 15th century county pub where you can enjoy the local ales.
Come through here.
Now, originally this was a sort of 1930s bungalow.
All right? And, as you can see, it's been much modernised
and, well, totally rebuilt,
in fairness, to provide a modern family home.
-It's very open plan.
It's just from the outside it's not particularly pretty.
Pretty we can do by the bucketload.
-But because you don't want old and you don't want beams...
-..etc, etc, it's quite a trick to fit your bill.
It will be interesting to see.
You might be surprised. They've done it quite cleverly. Come and look inside.
Right, come on in, guys.
-Grab the door, Jazz, if you would.
There's a little study in there which is quite nice, which overlooks the drive.
-You've got a downstairs bedroom with an en-suite.
Let's go in here to the main event.
-Big open-plan space.
-Yeah, that's lovely.
-It's a nice space actually.
Yeah? The whole thing is dominated by this central fireplace
-which goes both ways, as it were, through the room.
-Yeah. I'm not very keen on brickwork.
-From a dust point of view.
-I don't mind it so much.
I could certainly live with it.
Come here and have a look because it's in-the-round, this space, really.
I'm just thinking about all of you here for Christmas and birthdays and that sort of stuff.
It's a blank canvas, which is fine for us. I think, in a way, this space is almost too big.
I think we'd need smaller areas to make it cosier and more homely.
Three of us in here, we're going to rattle around, but when there's eight or ten, it'll be great.
-We're looking for a house that's going to have a dual purpose, in a way.
-Cosier, but still minimalistic. It's quite a hard seesaw to balance, that one.
-We don't want to make it too easy for you.
-You like a challenge.
-Yes, that's what they keep telling me. Yes.
Let's look at the kitchen and see what you think of this.
Come on in.
Tell me some good news.
-It's not a bad-sized kitchen.
I know this idea of a huge farmhouse kitchen, in which you can all sit...
-This place sort of does that out there.
We'd prefer, I think, to have a kitchen where we can actually all be.
-But coming back to this idea that most of the time there'll just be the three of you...
-..as an occasional thing, you've got space here for a dining table.
-It would work for three of us, yeah.
-Through here you've got your utility room as well, which is...
-So mall your bits and pieces are in here, out the way.
-This is the...
-Yeah, have a look, yeah, yeah. Little loo there.
-In terms of the finish, I think this is something we should explore a little further.
I think we know wherever we go, kitchen-wise, we'd rip out anyway.
-Because our standards are very sort of...
Yeah. We've got granite at home and I would stay with granite.
OK, but that's just the tops, that's an easy fix.
'Fussy by their own admission - what are they going to make of the upstairs?'
That's the gallery that overlooks the dining area - all the bedrooms lead off from that.
Let's start in this one. This is currently set up as the master.
-It's quite small.
-It is not huge. The one downstairs might be more...
..appropriate. It also has something of an en suite, essentially just a toilet and so forth,
but I know you asked for three bedrooms, this house technically has four,
which, you know, is not un-useful.
-If you wanted one for a therapy room or whatever...
-..then that might work.
-All right, let's have a wander through here.
-This is the main family bathroom. Go in there and have a look.
-Is that shower big enough for you, love?
-Oh, I expect I'll squeeze in!
-No, it's fine. It's fine.
-You're very fussy about your showers, aren't you?
It's only three years old. It's all new. It's quite neutral but very functional.
-It's a good standard finish, yeah.
-Lie in the bath and look at the stars, Jill?
-I do like a bath, so yes, that would be quite nice, wouldn't it?
'Next to the bathroom are the two other good-sized bedrooms -
'one of which would be ideal for their daughter, but now it's time to explore the garden.'
Right. Out you come. The garden is divided into two zones -
-you've got this as a more formal area, I suppose.
-Got the garage arrangement there.
-Great big fish pond here. Do you like fish?
No, we've just filled in our fish pond!
-Right. So the fish may move with the current owners, then.
-I think so, yes.
-Right, OK, poor old fish.
Er...all right, well, let's go on to the rest of it and have a look.
'Well, after that curved ball, let's see if the rest of this garden is more to their liking.'
-So this is the other zone of the garden. You've got this small area of paddock.
-The vegetable thing is good because we'd quite like to grow our own.
-it's quite a lot of space out there to do that.
-Well, yeah, absolutely.
'So the potential of the vegetable plot seems to appeal, but, well, it's time to sit and talk numbers.'
-Right, so we have seen it all, pretty much.
How much do we think it's worth, though, I wonder.
-I reckon it's probably in the region of about £485,000.
-£485,000, says the accountant.
Yes. THEY LAUGH
-What does holistic therapist think?
-I'd have said around £495,000.
Well, it's on the market for £499,950.
You weren't wildly out. It is technically four bedrooms, with a huge reception room.
It's a pretty house, I think, but whether it's for you or not, I wonder.
Well, go and have a look around, take a few ideas away with you
-and I'll catch up with you a little bit later.
-Off you go.
-And I'll keep the fish company.
Well, there we are. It was our first property. I have to say, I have known them go better than that.
This house does, however, have a lot of things to recommend it.
I love the quality of the finish, I love the open-plan space, but do they? Sadly, I don't think they do.
At just under half a million, this house does cover many of the points on their wish list, including...
Nice and bright and light. This area would be nice if it had doors that could open out.
-You could almost have an inside/outside dining area, then, couldn't you?
The property just lacked a bit of individuality, really,
especially from the outside.
I really like the front garden, nice, mature trees, nicely laid out.
I could see myself spending a lot of time out there.
The location is not bad because it is quite rural, and it's quite nice being part of a village.
We want the kitchen/diner to be in one room, really. The kitchen's too small to do that here.
It's fine for the three of us, but when the tribe arrives, they're big lads, yeah, so...
There's a lot of fish in there, aren't there?
-Look at that big one over there.
-The cats would love to eat those.
-We were just saying, for the cats.
-So have you seen enough?
-OK, well, let's press on, then.
With Jill having grown up just down the road in Sidmouth,
our house-hunters have called in on the neighbouring town of Seaton for an trip down memory lane.
In the past, Seaton flourished as a Victorian seaside resort,
which was celebrated in local landmarks, such as the clock tower, built in 1887
to mark Queen Victoria's jubilee.
Seaton today has a quiet pedestrianised town centre, with some good independent shops.
Just across the road, Seaton's mile-long beach reveals its greatest asset,
marking the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, with its mix of red sandstone and white chalk cliffs.
Further along the coast, the beauty spot of Branscombe Mouth reveals an historic gem.
Dating back over 100 years, this landmark building sits on the site of the old coal yard,
which would have supplied coal to local industries.
Now a beach-side restaurant, it's the perfect place to stop for lunch and take in the sea views.
-This looks nice, isn't it?
-I think I could get used to this.
'Well, the lifestyle seems to suit them - it's just the small matter now of finding them a house.'
For our next property, we're heading ten miles from Honiton
to the small village of Clyst Hydon.
Although there's quick access to the motorway, you'd never think it from the quiet country lanes,
hedgerows and open fields.
Besides the welcoming residents there's a real villagey feel, with a local pub and cricket club.
Our next offering lies on the edge of the village.
Right, come on through the archway.
That one over there.
-It is a converted barn...
-But it is not what I would describe as a barn conversion in the classic sense.
-No, it's not.
-It makes use of an old bit of barn but essentially what you've got
is a largely new build, but I think with a bit more character in it.
-The obvious thing to point out is you do have an immediate neighbour.
-They're in there, but the rest of the property overlooks nothing but farmland the other side.
-Let's have a look inside.
'I think I can win them over with this house
'as there's more to it than first meets the eye.'
Right, you are greeted by this,
one of the reception rooms in this property.
-Nice open space.
-Yes, it's nice and cosy.
I presume the beams are just cosmetic.
-They can just come down.
-That's an afternoon's work, mate.
Give you something to do.
Yeah. All right, let's have a look at the kitchen. It's that way.
-Off you go.
-That's quite nice, yeah.
-Quite nice. I think it's quite nice too.
-No, it's lovely. Yes.
In terms of space I think this works quite well in terms of...
-Giving you a really genuine working kitchen/diner.
-This kitchen would certainly work for us, yeah.
No, the space is right, yeah.
The space is...actually. Yeah.
'And the kitchen also has a useful utility room and larder.
'Also on this floor are all four bedrooms.'
This is the accommodation wing, if you like.
Four nice big bedrooms. There's one of them.
Oh, it's a nice size, isn't it?
Yeah. They all benefit from views to the garden.
Something of a sort of family bathroom.
-Another nice big double in here, loads of built-in storage.
-Yeah. Oh, that is good.
And, through here, three of four.
-This one does have a little en suite.
But this is the master bedroom and again...
-I'm thinking about size and space now for you two.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Oh, what's that, then?
-You've got a little sunroom all of your own.
Oh, that is nice.
Coffee in the morning, enjoy the garden,
and you're not overlooked there at all.
-Oh, that is nice.
-How does this sort of work for you?
-I'm thinking Eleanor's down there permanently with you at the moment.
-It works perfectly.
-It works perfectly?
-It's very nice.
-Yes. Are you surprised?
-Yes, I am.
Hooray, you've made my day!
Now you've also got an en suite of course, as you would expect in a room this big and that is in there.
-Shower and toilet and all that sort of stuff.
-All right. Lovely.
Now I'm glad you like it. It's nicely laid out.
-And nice clean lines as well, which I like.
'With all the bedrooms tucked away on the ground floor
'it's time to head upstairs to check out this rather unusual space.'
-It's actually quite nice.
-Come on up. Don't be shy.
Now in terms of you and the family having somewhere to all assemble,
they've got this as a sort of games room but, you know, make it what you like.
Probably keep it as a games room, the boys would love that, yeah,
sit here playing pool all night, drinking beers.
Hey, there's a picture emerging.
'Back downstairs and we cross the courtyard to a self-contained
'building with a garage and another nice surprise.'
Right, in you come.
This little surprise bit to this building.
-To this property I should say.
-So you can fight over this space between you.
Whether it's something for your therapy
or your accountancy work or just a home office,
whatever you want it to be.
-Oh, it's nice.
Very useful, isn't it?
-A surprise, yeah.
There's an en suite down here but upstairs it gets exciting as well.
-Come and have a look at this.
-Oh, there's an upstairs.
So up here it all gets a lot bigger
because the space goes over the garage.
-That's really good.
You've got this sort of built-in kitchenette area
and the other side of that is another en suite
so it really is a self-contained little world, this.
Very nice indeed.
Yes. And no beams.
No beams up here.
-I'm going to live here.
-Wooden floorboards, though.
Oh, we can carpet that.
'Well, we're going from strength to strength with this house tour.
'Time now to go back through the house into the rear garden where we'll take a punt on the price.'
Oh, this is nice.
-It's a lovely garden.
-Just survey your potential domain.
Very easy to maintain.
-It's lovely, isn't it?
-No, it's very nice.
-Well, that's it, then, for the tour of this property.
-You've seen all that it has to offer, nice big garden.
-And, of course, you get the annexe thrown in as well.
It's fantastic, the annexe.
-Yeah, you've done well to find that.
Right, well, let's have a think about the cash.
How much is it on the market for, Jill?
I'm going to say, erm...
-That's what I was going to say.
You can agree, you know, it's not against the rules.
Oh, right, OK.
-It is going to be at the top end and I think it's probably about 545.
It is on the market for £550,000.
-Oh, is it?
-Yeah. So you weren't far off.
-You were pretty much spot on to be fair.
-I was spot on.
I think the point about this place is it's the right sort of space.
-It's the right layout more than anything.
-Or a layout that we can work with.
-And this certainly is.
Jill and Jazz really seem to have taken to this house
and can clearly see its considerable potential.
It's at the top of their budget at £550,000 and certainly has a lot
going for it including a spacious kitchen diner for family gatherings,
four bedrooms with two en suites,
a huge family room and a very useful self-contained annexe.
This is the garage so...
It's only a stud wall there, so we could sort of knock that down
and make that into a really large room downstairs.
-That would be a good idea. Yes.
The overall sort of feeling of the house is nice,
the space works particularly well. The layout's excellent.
The garden's great, fairly low maintenance,
so we would probably do a lot more with it but the potential's there.
The size of the kitchen's very workable
and it's just what we're looking for.
I think the annexe is fantastic.
It's almost like I'm reserving it for myself as my little bolt hole
and I can go and lock myself away.
My main concern is how close some of the other properties are.
More pluses than minuses on this one, definitely.
OK, Jazz and Jill went up the hill.
No, you've probably heard that before. Yes.
-I think that was well worth you looking at, though.
-No, it's a lovely property and, er...
-Is it a contender?
Let's see if we can find any more to put on the list.
Don't forget your jacket.
When Jill and Jazz move to Devon they'll be able to enjoy
over 80 miles of beautiful beaches
with more Blue Flag awards than any other county in England.
But keeping them that way is no mean feat.
I'm here to meet council officer Tim Harris and his team
who clean up after the holidaymakers have left.
Hi, guys, Tim.
-Nice to see you. Nick.
-Nice to meet you.
Nice to see you. You're clearly hard at it.
Absolutely. There's always something to pick up on the beaches.
Now, you guys work for the district council.
-Nick, you're a volunteer.
Why do you volunteer for this job? It's not an easy one.
It's about living in Seaton and taking a little bit of responsibility for the area you live in.
It's a lovely place to live and it doesn't take a lot to keep it clean.
Well, it's an awful lot for you guys to cover.
Give me some idea of the sort of things you have to tackle year in year out.
The last couple of years we've had to deal with the Napoli.
-All the rubbish from there.
The coast hit the national headlines when the container ship MSC Napoli
grounded just off these beaches in January 2007.
Looters plundered the washed up containers for booty,
from car parts and nappies to wine barrels and dog food.
Hundreds of tonnes of oil spilled into the sea
endangering hundreds of sea birds
and now, over two years later, is it job done?
It's never finished.
There's always stuff out there still being washed in
-and this morning we've picked up BMW parts.
-So really it's a case of looking after your own backyard.
I love Devon and I love coming here, the beaches are a great attraction.
I'm not doing anything at the moment, shall I give you a hand?
-A hand or a nipper. Brilliant.
Luckily these east Devon beaches are well maintained,
with council litter picks every day during the summer and 60 volunteers
combing 35 miles of beaches every couple of months.
-There we go, some more car parts for you.
-Look at that.
-That's just not going to degrade at all, is it?
-No, since the Napoli.
It'll be coming up for years. There were containers full of it.
But the story is not the same across the country.
It's estimated that beach litter
in the UK has increased by 80% over the past ten years
and costs millions of pounds a year to clean up.
But now let's see what we've picked up.
Wow, look at the professionals.
You've definitely got a lot more than I have.
Bits of car, an old leather sole. But what have you got in there?
That's pretty unpleasant.
-Can be quite harmful to the sea birds as well.
-There's loads of fishing hooks in there.
-That's what you don't want to be walking on.
On the beach, is it?
Well, guys, you're clearly doing a sterling job.
-My contribution...to the day.
Not much but I guess every little helps.
-Guys, thanks very much indeed.
Best of luck with the other 35 miles of beach.
So, as the sun sets over the Devon countryside,
Jill and Jazz take time to reflect on their house search so far.
-So what did you think of the chalet-bungalow at Chardstock?
-It was quite a nice house,
-but it wouldn't work for us.
-The biggest reservation I had was the separate kitchen/diner
and a kitchen/diner is really important to us, but the property in itself had been done out well.
-There's a lot of wood there, which, again, is not to our taste.
-It's not us, is it?
So what about the barn conversion at Clyst Hydon?
-That was a real surprise, considering we've never entertained a barn conversion.
Pleasantly surprised. It was a lovely property. The space worked really well.
-The kitchen/diner leading on to the lounge was exactly what we want.
-The layout was great.
Obviously the annexe was a real plus and a real surprise.
-The only reservation was how close the other properties were.
-Yeah, yeah. That was the only thing.
It was an exciting day, so we'll see what they've got in store for us tomorrow.
Jill and Jazz are upping sticks from Denham in Buckinghamshire
and are looking to buy their first home together in rural Devon.
They've set us the tricky task of finding their dream home,
one with character on the outside but a modern interior which they can make their own.
It also has to accommodate their eight children at once, all for 550 grand.
So far, they've seen two properties but, coming up, Jill gets ruthless with period features.
-The shape and everything's fine.
-Change the fireplace.
-You'd change that? Because that's original to the house.
And I lose my cool in the mystery house.
-Jules! Pull yourself together.
-Yes. You are absolutely right.
There's nothing like starting your final day's house hunt
with a little bit of putting on the hotel lawn.
If only all of my putts were that good.
Now today is going to be something of a challenge.
Finding a house that Jill and Jazz like aesthetically, to be honest,
I don't think we're going to do that.
The key is going to be finding them a house that works in terms of space.
We've got two more to play for including, of course,
the mystery house, so who knows? We might get there.
With our next house, we're going back to base camp, to Honiton,
one of the traditional gateways into Devon.
This busy market town with a history of pottery and lace making today enjoys
a thriving trade in antiques and bric-a-brac.
The High Street has an eclectic mix of other independent shops too,
from millinery to music.
Only a mile or so from the town centre and you're in glorious countryside
which is where we find our next property.
-So, what do you think?
-Well, let's see what you really make of it.
There we are.
-It's not listed.
-It's not old, there's no wooden beams in it.
-No, lots of potential.
-The point about it is its proportion and the space it offers you.
-And, of course, a view which, believe it or not,
is out there behind the mist.
-Yeah, that's a fantastic view.
All right. Well, let's go inside and have a look around.
Right, Jazz, what do you think?
-It's a proper hallway.
-I like. I love hallways.
-This is a proper hallway.
No, this is great.
All right, good. Well, let's have a look at the kitchen.
-There you go.
-Oh, nice size.
-And double aspect windows as well.
-Double aspect windows.
It's very light and airy which is exactly what we wanted, so...
-No, this is great.
-And also in here you've got a kind of walk-in larder arrangement.
Oh, that's good.
So lots of options.
-I think that's the important thing.
-Let's have a look through here.
-So right next door to the kitchen, Jill, utility room.
-Good size, isn't it?
-Door out to the garden.
That's great and loads of storage this side as well.
-It really does lend itself quite nicely.
All right, come through here.
-How about that?
It's definitely a boys' room, this one, isn't it?
This was a garage that was added on to this property.
-As you can see, it's all roughcast breeze blocks, etcetera.
All right, and there's a little conservatory added,
quite a big conservatory added on on the other side.
Yeah, we'll keep the snooker table. Definitely.
'Well, Jazz seems sold on the games room,
'now it's back through the hall to the more formal reception rooms.'
-Oh, nice room.
-I like all the windows.
-That's the door out to the terrace that we saw outside.
Working fire place. You know, good size.
I mean, could you all fit in here? Would you be cosy in here?
-No, this is...
-Lovely size room.
There's nothing wrong with it at all.
-The shape and everything's fine.
-Change the fireplace.
You'd change that? Because that's original to the house probably.
-What would that become?
-I'd probably just change the hearth, actually.
-Well, let's think about dining rooms because there's one in here.
Have a look at that.
-Very nice. Lovely room.
-Oh, this is great.
-You could get the whole tribe round this one.
'And good news for Jazz, he's got his own private study just next door.
'Now we're going upstairs where there are four bedrooms in total,
'two of which are nice-size doubles with their own washbasins.
'Next we'll take a look at what could be their bedroom.'
And this is what is currently the master.
-It's a nice spot for it, on the corner, loads of light coming in.
-No, that's great. I mean the double aspect windows are...
-..just fantastic, and the views from the windows are great.
-Let's have a look at the views.
-It's beginning to clear a bit.
Oh, yes, it's lovely, isn't it?
Honiton nestling down there in the mist.
Now the family bathroom, as I say, is currently next door.
You could add an en suite there.
-And give over one of the other bedrooms - you've got four to play with.
Or you could swap the master from this end of the house to the other end.
Come and have a look at this.
Now at this end of the house, toilet, OK?
Immersion tank in there, shower room in there.
-Now, this is sort of a guest wing, if you like, at the moment,
but given that you've got all the plumbing available,
this would make a great master suite.
If you knocked all that out, put in a new purpose-built en suite
-this could be a master bedroom with a view out there.
A lot of potential.
'Granted, there's work to be done in the house but they do seem to like the layout and spacious rooms.
'So let's take a trip outside and inspect the garden.'
In terms of outside space, we've already seen the front,
or what was the front of the property,
and what you see is what you get.
A bit of a sort of veg area
and a sort of more formal bit over there, just mown lawn and some shrubs.
-It's a nice size garden actually.
-It's a lovely plot.
All right. So it's of interest?
Let's see how much interest it holds for you.
You've got £550,000 to spend. Jill?
I think it's about 535.
535. What does the accountant say?
I think it's probably more than that.
I think it's probably 555.
-Lots of fives going on.
Well, OK, to put you out of your misery, £550,000.
-So actually very much the top end of your budget.
-How do you feel about that?
Do you think you could scrape together a bit more to do the work?
Yeah. We have allowed for that anyway because we knew wherever we went we were going to do some work.
-So we've got money to do some renovation anyway so we'd allowed for that.
Good. Well, go and have a good look around.
There's obviously a lot for you to think about in terms of planning
and where you may start your renovations
and I'll catch up with you later.
-Off you go.
-I might even have a game of snooker.
With some modernisation, this house has all the hallmarks of being their perfect family home.
At the top end of their budget at 550,000, the property offers
a large kitchen/breakfast room, four large reception rooms
in which their family can spread out,
four double bedrooms and a large garden
with countryside views.
I like the size of the kitchen, I do like the double aspect windows.
Yeah, nice space.
-No, it's a very, very usable space.
It's a really nice feel about it.
-Just really felt quite at ease and comfortable and soon as you walked in.
-I really like the house.
It's got a really nice sort of homely feel to it.
Yeah, I could see...
a lot we could do with this to make it a really lovely family home.
The kitchen's a good size.
We wanted a kitchen/diner and we've got a good-sized kitchen/diner where we can spend most of our time
but we've got the formal dining room as well.
The rooms are good sizes, there's a lot of light coming in, which is what we wanted.
No dark wood.
It's just a question of putting your own stamp on it which everybody does when they go into a new place,
and, er...it's just decoration, really, more than anything else.
This property would be definitely on a short list for us, yes.
Yes! You missed the shot, chaps.
-Did you pot it?
-I got it in, yeah.
Hooray. Probably the only one of the day. So you've seen enough?
-We've had a good look round.
-Good. Lots of food for thought?
A very expensive list of renovations that you're making, I'm sure.
Well, let's continue our little search through Devon
-and see what else we can find you.
Even though Jill and Jazz are looking for a modern take on a country home,
you can't ignore the traditional buildings which define Devon's architectural heritage
so they've come to meet John Scott, owner of Beer Quarry,
who knows what makes these traditional cottages so distinctive.
The stone itself is unique.
It's a type of limestone you can't find anywhere else. It was discovered by the Romans.
It came from the underground workings just up the road and they're known as Beer Quarry caves.
But it's ideal for very fine detail carvings.
Let's go and have a look at Beer Quarry caves and workings, where it all came from.
The caves are a two-minute stroll away and, extending over a 75-acre site, date back 2,000 years.
The quarry closed 25 years ago but still offers tours and an exhibition.
Craftsmen up and down the ages have been carving this versatile stone with stunning results,
as John shows us.
You can get some idea
of how beautiful it is for fine detail carving.
-You can get details like that when it's freshly quarried.
When it goes in the outside world it dries, turns a creamy white colour, then becomes five times harder.
So have you got any artefacts that you can show us?
Well, yes. We've got all the tools we found here.
We found Roman coins and pottery quite recently after all this time,
other things throughout the ages.
But one beautiful example of the masons' work, I can show you, just over here, if you'd like to look.
-Oh, love to.
Some of the most intricate examples of Beer stonework feature in 24 of the UK's 44 cathedrals,
including Exeter, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
So could you tell me a bit more about this church window, John?
Well, yes. It actually came from St Andrew's church, Colyton,
about five miles away.
It spent centuries in perfect condition but then it was ripped out
in a so-called Victorian restoration and just lay abandoned in the churchyard.
So, in an effort to preserve it, we had it rebuilt here by the master mason of Exeter Cathedral
using exactly the same methods
that the masons would have used centuries ago.
It's certainly a fantastic example of craftsmanship from days gone by.
But now it's time to return above ground
and step back into the present.
Well, perhaps it's no surprise
that in picking a suitable mystery property for Jazz and for Jill
we really have been pushed to the absolute limits.
Traditionally at this point and in this part of the world, Devon, I'd be looking for something historic,
maybe even characterful - dare I say it? - something that might reflect the style of the local architecture,
like that thatch behind me,
but in their case it just isn't going to wash.
Jill, who would you say was the really fussy one in the relationship?
Well, I think you think I am.
I didn't say that. I asked you the question.
But, believe it or not, we both are really.
Yeah, we're both pretty fussy really, but I guess Jill is a bit more vocal about it than me.
Now what kind of a mystery house do you think we've got lined up for you?
-I don't know.
-Something with beams, something old.
-Something with lots of dark wood.
It'll be so fantastic that she'll fall in love with it. THEY LAUGH
Our mystery house takes us to the village of Withleigh,
a small, pretty place set in the heart of the Devon countryside.
Just down the road, Tiverton, with its scenic riverbank
and some impressive architecture, offers a good range of local shops.
Our mystery house brings us right back to 21st-century modern living.
-What do you think?
-I like the glass balcony.
-Brand new. We've never looked at a new build.
-Ah. Why not?
We tend to like the character of an older property but...
But bringing it into the 21st century...
-You see one of the issues has been trying to get an idea of what is your style.
-And I'm hoping that this might be it.
-I'm hoping. Come on, let's have a look.
-Was that a wow?
-That was a wow.
Wahey, at last.
I like the glass and the chrome.
I thought you would like this, Jazz.
-Yeah. I do like this.
It's clean lines.
-That's the main sort of dining area, as it were.
-But what I want you to look at now is the kitchen.
-So come on, Jill, is this the sort of thing that you had in mind?
-I like the kitchen.
-I think it's great.
-I mean, it's brand new.
-This is the sort of cooker you were after, wasn't it?
-These kind of tops.
-I'm trying to get a picture...
..of what you would do, even in our previous property.
I think what I'm trying to think here is how do we actually personalise a house like this.
That's what I'm sort of feeling at the moment.
Because everything's done...
-And I know you're thinking, "God, we can't please this woman."
Whatever gave you that idea? No.
There is a question of how do we personalise it.
-Yeah. No, I think that's fair enough.
-Which is with any new build.
Absolutely. We actually quite like doing it, you know what I mean.
-Jules, pull yourself together.
-Yes. No, you are absolutely right.
As I go slowly crazy on this house tour,
it's worth mentioning the state-of-the-art utility room
and pristine garage,
but now let's cross the hallway and through the double doors.
Right, living room.
-That's a working fireplace.
-OK. That's nice, I must admit.
-Very simple, very contemporary feel to it.
It's nice and light and airy with all the windows.
-It's a nice shape, isn't it?
-Very well designed.
And I'm just trying to picture all of you as a family in here.
-We wouldn't let them come down here.
-No. This would be our place.
-They'd just mess it up.
'It's a tricky one to gauge, this,
'but they do seem taken with the lounge.
'Time to go upstairs across the galleried landing
'to see if the master bedroom tips the balance in my favour.'
-Oh, that's nice, yeah.
Yes, carpet upstairs, excellent.
Some of it goes in, you see.
-Little sort of Juliet balcony over there.
Now, thus far the en suites you've seen have not been that exciting.
-This one's quite nice, though. In you go.
Oh, that's more like it. Excellent.
-Oh, yeah, this is really good.
-Big shower for you, Jazz.
-Yeah, this is what we...
Even I could fit in that one.
Me as well?
-Well, you've got a bath.
-Yes, you've got your bath.
-Right, let's carry on.
So this, you know, two of the four.
-Another en suite there.
No bath in there, just a shower room etcetera.
This also has a balcony but one that's a bit more useful,
you can venture out onto that one.
Go and have an explore, see what you think.
Views of the garden.
Even the balcony's tiled.
-Yeah. Although not underfloor heating, I don't think.
-Is it not?
-That does surprise me.
-Well, there you go.
It's not the biggest balcony in the world,
but at least it gives you a nice place to enjoy the views from.
The views are fantastic. Lovely.
There are two further good-size light bedrooms, one with en suite.
An extra plus is a super-slick guest bathroom with bath and shower,
useful for when the family descend.
Time, now, though, to go outside and scope the garden.
So obvious things, I suppose, patio, little seating area.
You can make the best of the kind of al fresco design of this house,
-because all of these doors open out onto this area...
-Allowing you to enjoy that lot, really.
And garden - well, this is pretty much it, Jazz.
-All you've got to do is mow it.
-Jill does the mowing.
-That's my job.
And you get a nice perspective of the property from here.
-It's a very nice design for a new build, isn't it?
I'm very impressed with this one.
Well, let's have a think about the money, then.
-I would say it's probably on the sort of 550,
at the top of our budget.
Because the spec is quite high on it and it is a new build, yeah...
-Give or take...
-OK so you're both saying about £550,000, the top end of your budget.
-OK, this will set you back today £585,000.
-You can see...
-So you've shown us over budget.
Mm. It's the mystery house, I'm allowed to.
But I think the important thing about this property is that maybe
it gets us some way to understanding what it is you are actually trying to achieve with your new property.
'With the mystery house I've tried to give Jill and Jazz
'a taste of what modern living in the country might feel like.'
Over budget, but ready to go at 585, it does offer
large reception areas loaded with modern features,
a spacious kitchen with all mod cons,
four bedrooms, three en suite,
and great countryside views from its south-facing garden.
For a new build, it's an excellent design, isn't it?
-The back actually looks better than the front.
-Yeah, I see what you mean.
It's got a bit more character where the front's very flat.
As a mystery property it was very good.
It didn't give me the wow factor from outside,
but once you walk in the front door
then you certainly do get the wow factor.
The quality of the workmanship, the quality of the materials they've used is very good.
The kitchen is great, the space in the lounge is superb.
I quite like the tiled floors everywhere. We've got a dog, so cleaning them, keeping them clean
and dust-free, they're very good.
The internal space isn't working for me.
Definite rooms rather than open spaces is what we're looking for.
The main thing that's put me off is the kitchen/diner.
I feel you're actually dining in the sort of entrance hall,
and it hasn't got that connection with the kitchen.
This mystery property has been a really good experience because,
you know, it showed us what can be done inside the house.
Well, how was that?
-Good, thank you.
-Well, that's it now. House tours are over.
-Time for you guys to have a good old think about everything we've shown you.
And see if you've made a decision about any one of them. I wonder.
Who knows? Get your thinking caps on.
After you. Lead on through the door.
Ah, yes, decision time.
Jazz and Jill's house tour of Devon is now over,
leaving them with lots to think about.
Well, at long last, it's decision time for Jazz and for Jill
and, in many ways, this is quite a momentous moment for them.
It is, after all, the very first time they've bought a house together
and in some ways, that's kind of sweet.
In fairness, it hasn't been the easiest of house searches.
Will the decision-making process itself have proved any easier, I wonder?
As ever there's only one way to find out
and that's to go and ask them.
Well, here we are, guys, where it all started, in Sidmouth,
overlooking the bay and the sea, where you grew up.
Yes. It's nice to be back, isn't it?
Well, it all started with that converted chalet/bungalow - a very contemporary twist to it.
That was interesting, wasn't it? It had a very large, open-plan area.
In our minds, when we came here, we thought we'd want that,
but we realised that possibly we didn't want that large an area but wanted a smaller, cosier feel.
Well, it was an interesting one to try and figure out with you, I think, what it was you were after.
-Our needs are quite diverse, you know, from coping with three of us to ten of us.
-It also needs to be a family home.
Let's think about how it moved on. We then took you to a converted barn.
I thought that was a great house, I really liked it. Seclusion as well.
I mean, I know we had very close neighbours. Other than that, there were no buildings in the area at all.
The kitchen was great, it was a superb size, the annexe was great.
-Well, the annexe was an extraordinary bonus.
-That was, yeah.
We had a sleep on everything and then we began our search again
where we took you to a very handsome house on a hill
with a fantastic view of Honiton and all the surrounding landscape.
-The whole layout...
It was a lovely walk up the drive looking at the house and the house looked nice.
It's a handsome property, especially the original front door and the little terrace.
-We loved that.
It's just got so much potential, that house.
-Certainly from a feng-shui point of view.
OK. Finally we then got to the mystery property -
uber-slick, very, very modern, brand new.
One of the most important things for us was this kitchen/diner area.
It wasn't there in the mystery house.
I felt, you know, you were almost dining in the entrance hall.
-In terms of the finish, the kitchen...
-It was great.
-You couldn't fault it.
Worktops, the whole thing.
No. We would actually put very similar things into our home.
All right, so what happens next with you two?
Are you going to go for it with the house on the hill?
-We need to think seriously and carefully about the budget...
About how much it's actually going to cost to get that house to the standard that we want.
Well, thank you, it's been great having you on the show.
I do hope we've got you that little bit closer
to finding your ideal escape to the country.
There's nothing like a trip to the coast to gather your thoughts
and having had the time to reflect on this house tour,
I have to confess it hasn't been one of the easiest I've ever done,
but in some ways it has been one of the more insightful.
It's very often the case that buyers know what they DON'T want,
but trying to identify what they DO want
can be a bit of a struggle.
That's certainly been the case with this one but, ultimately
Jazz and Jill have found their house on a hill.
It does sound like a nursery rhyme.
Who knows? With the right amount of time and money
they could find their happy-ever-after.
I'll see you next time.
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