Dorset Escape to the Country


Dorset

Nicki Chapman is in Dorset, helping a couple swap city skylines for open countryside. They are tempted by a slice of a country estate with 350 acres of communal land.


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Transcript


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In the 1970s,

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this hill was probably one of the most instantly recognisable views in England.

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And just like the rest of today's county,

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it oozes with old-world charm.

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So, does it look familiar?

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I'm sure if you use your LOAF, you'll figure out where you've seen this beautiful vista before.

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On today's show, we meet a Canadian with her heart set on a home in the English countryside.

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It's beautiful. The landscape just rolls forever, doesn't it?

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And although she seems taken with our offerings,

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her English husband isn't so sure.

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John, give me something back. I reserve judgment.

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But will our mystery house unite her yin with his yang?

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Wow. Wow!

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Wow. Nice. Yeah.

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Today I'm in Dorset, and this is Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.

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In 1973, it became the backdrop for a well-known bread advert

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directed by the now world-famous film maker Ridley Scott.

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At the time, many of us believed this scene was set hundreds of miles away in Yorkshire.

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But with its thatched cottages, medieval walls and cobbled stone,

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it really couldn't be anywhere else

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than the unspoilt countryside of Dorset.

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Bordered by four other counties in the south of England,

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Dorset is largely rural,

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dotted with farms, peaceful villages

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and thriving market towns.

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Covering an area of 1,024 square miles,

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Dorset is a winning combination of stunning coastline and classic countryside,

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boasting the highest proportion of conservation areas for its size in England.

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Over 40% of the county is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

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with 139 Sites of Special Scientific Interest

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and a World Heritage Site in the form of the Jurassic Coast.

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Frequented by King George III,

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the county has been a popular tourist destination since the 1800s,

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which has helped create a prosperity evident in the region's housing stock,

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from the grand country homes made of local limestone

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to the picturesque thatched cottages.

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But is today's house hunters' dream home out there too?

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Let's meet them.

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Let me introduce you to John,

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a self-employed management consultant

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and his Canadian partner Christina.

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After meeting via the Internet three years ago,

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John travelled to Canada to meet Christina in person and the rest is history.

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Now sharing John's one-bedroom flat in central London,

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with their dog Willow and Jack the cat,

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they're hoping to ditch the Big Smoke for country air.

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We'd like to move to the country for space,

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to be able to be outdoors more, with trees surrounding me.

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I'm either in a city or I'm in the country.

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I'm not in a halfway. I don't want to live in the suburbs.

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They're both drawn to the rural beauty of Dorset.

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So let's find out what they want from their dream property.

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One, possibly two big reception rooms,

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big bathroom, a nice big kitchen

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and minimum three bedrooms, I think.

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We want nice, large open-plan spaces,

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whether it's the kitchen or the main living area.

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We want a nice big garden.

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That's the bigger picture covered. But what about the details?

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Wood-burning stoves. Love that smell.

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John's just accepted an offer on his flat for nearly ?900,000.

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So how much will they have for their home in the country?

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Our budget for the property is around ?750,000.

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We may go to ?800,000 for something absolutely exceptional.

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After 25 years of city living, John can't wait to make a break for the country.

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And Christina, used to the wide-open landscapes of Canada,

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obviously can't wait to embrace country living too.

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Now they've got a rather hefty budget of up to ?800,000,

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so finding them space to manoeuvre both inside and out

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shouldn't be too much of a problem.

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The big question is, can we find them a property

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with as much character and quirkiness as they have?

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John and Christina are flexible

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when it comes to a specific location within Dorset,

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so we'll be scouring the entire county,

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keeping in mind they want something rural.

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We'll be showing our house hunters three Dorset delights,

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but I'll be keeping schtum about the price tags until the end of the tour.

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Lastly there's our mystery house,

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which will challenge their idea of country living.

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John and Christina, hello and welcome to Dorset.

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Thank you. Are you looking forward to the next few days? We are.

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We've driven around a lot in Dorset, the gorgeous villages, the Jurassic Coast,

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from one end to another, but we've not seen anything yet.

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So what about work? John, will you need to commute? I'll work wherever I need to.

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If I need to work away from home, that's fine.

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And time is of the essence

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because you're about to complete on your property. Yes.

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We sold it within three weeks of putting it on the market, with two competing bidders.

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They want to complete within six weeks.

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So we really have to find you your dream house. Yes. And budget-wise?

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Still looking around ?750,000? 750, could go to 800 if we see the exceptional one.

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Right, so that's our top limit. Yeah. Yes.

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Well, we have got some fantastic properties lined up.

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Shall we get started? Let's go. Come on, then.

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For a top budget of ?800,000,

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John and Christina are after a spacious country home,

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consisting of a minimum of...

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Our first property is just outside the village of Cranborne,

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on the Dorset-Hampshire border.

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Used as a setting for Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The d'Urbervilles

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under the pseudonym Chaseborough,

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this 800-strong village boasts an imposing 15th-century church tower,

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a pub, convenience store and plenty of appealing period buildings.

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Here is house number one. What d'you think?

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The size overwhelms me. I'm used to compact,

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but the house looks really nice from the outside.

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Now, we are on a road. Yes.

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It's a B-road connecting the two villages,

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as we're right on the edge of a village. John?

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I like the look of the house, nice shape.

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OK. It is a bit nippy, shall we start the tour? Please. Come on.

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Come on through. Got the late-Victorian tiles here.

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It opens up straightaway into the first reception room. It does.

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Hm.

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Smaller than I expected, this room.

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Did you expect huge, high ceilings? Yes.

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What do you think of the entrance? I love it. I love the tiles.

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It just makes such a big statement.

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Let me take you across to the other room, then you'll see there's a bit more space.

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So here's your second reception room.

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It's actually been divided up.

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You've got this space and a bit more, big enough for a baby-grand piano.

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You can see where it opens up a bit more

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on this side of the house.

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It's got more character as well. Definitely.

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Let's look at the kitchen next. Great.

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Generous room dimensions are key to their move,

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so we head to the rear of the property

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where the space really starts to open up.

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And here you have a very handsome country kitchen.

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Love the beams.

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It's deceiving, isn't it? It is. It's almost like a different house.

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I like the light.

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You get so much natural light from each area of the house.

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So quite a lot of space downstairs, lots of reception rooms.

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But I haven't shown you everything.

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Come on.

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Next door to the kitchen is a utility room and a cloakroom,

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and across the other side of the house is yet another living space,

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a perfect spot to relax on a sunny summer's afternoon.

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So this home also has a conservatory.

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What a nice surprise. I didn't expect this.

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Yeah. Not at all.

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Bit of an added bonus? Yeah. Yeah, added bonus.

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Not necessarily something we'd need, but it's nice.

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Could be something we want.

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I'm getting a different warmth here.

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OK, well, John's not so sure, but you and I are excited

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about a conservatory. We'll head upstairs.

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And here's your master bedroom.

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Smaller than what we're used to.

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Is this smaller than you have at home at the moment?

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Yes. Yeah, it is, definitely.

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The one thing you're both used to is having one bedroom.

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Mm. You've got four.

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So if you wanted a dressing room, you've got plenty of space.

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The other three bedrooms include one dual-aspect double,

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next to which is a similar-sized room that shares a common wall.

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Knocking through to create a larger master bedroom is an option.

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There's also a single bedroom and a large family bathroom,

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so there are plenty of options upstairs.

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Now let's see what they make of the garden.

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So here's your garden.

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Quite a mature garden.

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The total acreage including the footprint of the house is about half an acre.

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You've got the garage there, a little greenhouse,

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a sunken garden

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and plenty of lawn to mow, because you like mowing your lawn, don't you? I do.

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Well, it is price time. Let's see if that puts you in a better mood.

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Who wants to go first?

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Go ahead. Apparently me.

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I think it's around 650,000. OK.

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I was going to go lower, about 570.

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Interesting from both of you.

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Current asking price - ?675,000.

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So ?125,000 under your top budget,

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so lots of flexibility there, but a lot of house for that price.

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Because Dorset, Hampshire, all these counties are expensive.

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A rather muted response, considering there's so much house for the price.

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All right, let's keep going, more to show you.

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It's hard to believe that thousands of years ago, Dorset was almost entirely forest,

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when today less than 10% of the county is woodland.

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One local resident, who has a vested interest in the regeneration

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and preservation of the county's woodland

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is eminent British furniture designer John Makepeace.

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John, great to meet you. Hello, Nicki.

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As a furniture designer, your passion is wood, isn't it?

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It is. I can't really explain it.

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It's just a material with which I have an empathy.

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It's responsive,

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it's something which I can work without very expensive equipment,

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I can produce individual things in it.

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It's a material right for furniture.

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Considered the father of modern British furniture,

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John favours indigenous and sustainable wood in his designs.

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John doesn't make the furniture himself,

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but employs local craftsmen to translate his drawings into physical forms.

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Organic shapes and curves are a signature of his designs,

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and inside his 16th-century house, the wood that is so carefully seasoned and crafted

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sits in pride of place with a natural elegance.

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And is this your dining table? It is.

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And do you use this as a family? Surely, surely, yes.

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What it is, is one tree of ash. Yes.

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And it's got this wonderful marking in here, the ripple,

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which is a feature of trees that grow in wavy grain

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and it produces this light and shade.

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John's strong belief in the importance of native trees led him to purchase Hooke Forest,

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a 350-acre of sustainable woodland,

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now used for research and development,

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ensuring the forests of Dorset remain useful

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and stay intact for future generations.

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But for now, it's back to the house hunt.

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Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

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our second property lies in the outskirts

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of the village of Thorncombe.

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With an active community, an impressive 19th-century church

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and an agricultural heritage, Thorncombe

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offers a typical slice of Dorset rural living.

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Property number two sits far enough outside the village

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to deliver that rural setting for John.

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Surrounded by a generous plot of land,

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the house dates back to the 19th century,

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and was originally thought to be a flax worker's cottage, typical of the area.

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So we've travelled from east to west Dorset.

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We're on the Somerset border now,

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and here is your second property.

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What do you think?

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Impressed. Yes? It's like something out of a storybook.

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It's very attractive, isn't it? Mm. John? Very solid, yeah.

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Nice shape, interesting.

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Shall we step inside? Perfect. Come on.

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As usual, John's keeping his cards close to his chest.

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So, step inside, up the stairs.

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Because this part, this is the old worker's cottage.

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Mm. The oldest part of the property.

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Greeted by a huge inglenook.

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Yes, I love that.

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It's interesting, it's possibly smaller than the other place,

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and yet it feels better.

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You get that instant feeling as you come through the door? Yeah.

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So this room flows into the study next door.

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It's quite a large area and I know that's important for both of you for the business.

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OK, let's keep going.

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Well, John seems to be coming round.

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Let's see what they think of the kitchen.

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So, I know we're after a large kitchen.

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Yes. How's this for size? This is spectacular.

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We could cook in here and be in the same room, not yelling through a wall.

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It's social, isn't it, the way it's set out?

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So you wouldn't change a lot in this room?

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No, maybe just the furniture. Yes, and how we use it. Yeah.

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Put your own mark on it. Mm.

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Like the first property, the kitchen has a utility room, adjacent to which is a cloakroom.

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And upstairs there are three bedrooms to choose from.

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I think this could make a fantastic master bedroom.

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The exposed beams just add so much to the room.

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Even the wall, it's not a straight wall.

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The chimney's underneath us, the inglenook.

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So you can see that's the flue going up.

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What do you think, John? Nice shape. Window onto the road. Not sure about that.

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The only good thing is, there's hardly any traffic. That's the good news.

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This room may overlook the country lane, but it has a spacious en-suite,

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and there's another option for a master bedroom.

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Or you could use this bedroom as your master,

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as it has a bathroom next door.

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Wonderful. This is a really big room as well, and almost

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brighter.

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Yes, well, it's triple aspect,

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and you've got similar views.

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Next door, the second bathroom also has generous proportions,

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as does the third bedroom.

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Outside, there's a garage with space for a workshop, which is important to John.

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In the last property, Christina said she'd like lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

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This property offers that and a whole lot more.

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I wanted to bring you up here so that you could really appreciate the property.

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It's beautiful. The landscape just rolls forever, doesn't it?

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This is all yours.

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There's a vegetable patch which comes with the property,

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and you've got three outbuildings as well.

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One's just been made into a stable block, you've got the barn,

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and there's planning permission

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to take that down and build, on the same footprint, another stable block, should you want to.

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So, time to guess the price.

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Oh, I'd say higher end of our budget.

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Eight. OK, 800,000 for you.

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John?

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Hm, interesting.

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815.

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815? So you're both quite close, really, aren't you?

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?750,000. HE LAUGHS

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50,000 under your budget, and

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it only has just gone on the market. Right.

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Wow!

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John, any feedback?

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I reserve judgment. I reserve the right to not commit.

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Lots to think about.

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As the sun sets over the Dorset fields,

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John and Christina have plenty to consider after their first day of house hunting.

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Well, it's day two.

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Yesterday didn't go quite as well as I hoped it would.

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Now, I seem to have a supporter in Christina, but John wasn't bowled over at all.

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So today we're going to show them our third property, the mystery house.

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Like John, I'm not going to give too much away,

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but I will say this -

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character and quirkiness they've asked for,

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and that's exactly what we're going to show them.

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Our mystery property lies in the village of Axmouth,

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over the border in east Devon.

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Taking its name from its position at the mouth of the River Axe,

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the 500 residents enjoy views stretching out over the estuary,

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past an impressive 15th-century church tower.

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The village is laden with charming thatched cottages,

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but our very attached mystery property has a more regal air.

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So, third and final property. It is our mystery house.

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Extremely different from the others that we've shown you.

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What do you think? Beautiful, classic.

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Surprised? Yeah, very surprised, yeah.

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Built in 1878, it was one family's home, can you believe?

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Later on it became a school,

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and then it's been renovated into five amazing homes.

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Wow. Nice. Yeah.

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Fantastic. Well, let's start the tour,

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because this is a house like I've never seen before. Come on.

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Architecturally, the property is fascinating.

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The exterior is a mishmash of architectural styles,

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from Tudor to Jacobean.

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Once inside, the living areas can be found on the first floor.

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And here is your kitchen.

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Magnificent. It is.

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JOHN LAUGHS

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The windows, the big working area.

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Originally, it was the butler's bedroom.

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Wow. Big bedroom. So it didn't look like this.

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Beautiful.

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It's the first one that's made me think I could move in.

0:21:490:21:53

Oh, yeah. Good, well, let's continue.

0:21:530:21:55

Mm. Great.

0:21:550:21:57

John's positivity is a refreshing surprise, and I'm sure the next room won't disappoint.

0:22:000:22:06

And this is your drawing room.

0:22:080:22:11

Wow!

0:22:110:22:13

Gosh. Oh! Oh!

0:22:150:22:17

JOHN LAUGHS

0:22:170:22:18

A little bit of a gem, isn't it? It is, isn't it? The size of it.

0:22:180:22:22

So the panelling around, that is the original Victorian panelling.

0:22:220:22:26

The most amazing fireplace is actually Georgian.

0:22:260:22:31

It's Italian marble, so it's a lot older than this property.

0:22:310:22:35

Oh, it's just spectacular.

0:22:350:22:37

I know I keep using that word, but...

0:22:370:22:40

And you know what? There's even more to discover with this home. Let's proceed.

0:22:410:22:46

I think the level of finish and the room dimensions are really hitting the mark so far.

0:22:480:22:53

Laid out over the second and third floors,

0:22:530:22:56

the four bedrooms don't disappoint either.

0:22:560:22:59

And here you have a rather palatial master bedroom.

0:23:020:23:05

Wow. Wow.

0:23:050:23:07

Oh, look at the ceiling and the windows!

0:23:070:23:12

It's pretty ornate, isn't it? Oh!

0:23:120:23:14

It continues the theme, doesn't it? It does. The level of decor and the quality.

0:23:140:23:19

And the doors are all original, the panelling.

0:23:190:23:22

This is how it would have looked. Downstairs it's been painted on.

0:23:220:23:27

And the windows, it's fantastic, isn't it?

0:23:270:23:30

That leaded glass is just beautiful.

0:23:300:23:33

Wow.

0:23:330:23:35

Follow me.

0:23:350:23:36

The other bedroom is equally regal and comes with an en-suite.

0:23:390:23:43

There's also a large family bathroom on this floor.

0:23:430:23:47

On the top floor, there's still more to come,

0:23:470:23:50

with yet another bathroom, bedroom number three

0:23:500:23:54

and the final room, which could be the perfect work hideaway.

0:23:540:23:58

This is the fourth bedroom. I think it makes a fantastic study/office.

0:23:580:24:03

It's beautiful. Look at the view.

0:24:030:24:05

Mm. Lovely.

0:24:050:24:06

And I can see two desks, plenty of space.

0:24:060:24:09

You could work side by side.

0:24:090:24:11

Or I could just go to the beach while he's working. Yeah.

0:24:110:24:15

Why don't we head back downstairs and you can look at the outside again? Perfect.

0:24:150:24:20

And think how much it's all worth. Mm.

0:24:200:24:22

John, do you want to lead the way?

0:24:220:24:24

Outside, the communal grounds are made up of woodland and pasture,

0:24:270:24:31

so the only thing left to discuss is the price.

0:24:310:24:34

So, that's the grand tour over, So, guess the price.

0:24:370:24:42

I think it's around ?850,000.

0:24:420:24:45

OK. Christina?

0:24:450:24:47

I'm close to that. I'd say 875.

0:24:470:24:51

You're ?100,000 over.

0:24:540:24:57

The asking price is ?775,000,

0:24:570:25:01

and that includes all the furniture and fittings, should you want them.

0:25:010:25:07

Wow!

0:25:070:25:09

Wow. Yeah.

0:25:090:25:11

That makes quite a difference, doesn't it? Yeah.

0:25:110:25:15

Well, it looks like the mystery house has done it again.

0:25:150:25:19

And for the first time on this tour I really think we've shown John

0:25:340:25:39

something he would consider buying.

0:25:390:25:41

I think you need to discuss and collect your thoughts. Come on.

0:25:410:25:45

Our house hunters have seen everything we had to show them in this beautiful part of Britain.

0:25:550:26:01

But were any of the properties right for them? Let's find out.

0:26:010:26:05

Well, Christina and John, from the bustle of London to the tranquillity of Dorset,

0:26:120:26:17

we've certainly seen this county. Have you enjoyed it?

0:26:170:26:21

Now the first property we saw, we went to the Hampshire border

0:26:210:26:26

and that four-bedroom house, very attractive from the outside.

0:26:260:26:31

It just didn't have that warm feel, like it could be home

0:26:310:26:36

We moved on to the second property in the west of Dorset,

0:26:360:26:39

just on the Somerset border this time. Beautiful.

0:26:390:26:43

First impressions for both of you I thought were quite good.

0:26:430:26:47

John, you're quite difficult to read, but I think you warmed up as we went round.

0:26:470:26:52

It just seemed to flow better.

0:26:520:26:54

So it gave me a better impression of the house, even though it was narrow and thin.

0:26:540:26:58

I think we did better with our mystery house.

0:26:580:27:03

It was absolutely perfect.

0:27:030:27:06

There isn't anything that I could fault.

0:27:060:27:09

The inside of the property, it was just spectacular.

0:27:090:27:13

I could picture both of us there.

0:27:130:27:17

It was literally like picking up our existing place

0:27:170:27:19

and moving it to the sea.

0:27:190:27:22

I think we need more space, away from people.

0:27:220:27:25

You want that isolation. I think we do.

0:27:250:27:28

So what is the next step for you both?

0:27:280:27:31

Is Dorset the county?

0:27:310:27:32

We like Dorset and we haven't really explored this area a lot.

0:27:320:27:37

Well, hopefully we've helped you narrow the search to Dorset

0:27:370:27:42

and showed you some houses you might not have considered. You definitely did.

0:27:420:27:46

We wish you all the best and I hope you make the move soon.

0:27:460:27:50

Thanks very much.

0:27:500:27:52

It seems John and Christina really crave the rural lifestyle without any close neighbours.

0:27:590:28:06

Now although we didn't manage to find them their perfect property,

0:28:060:28:09

I hope we've helped on their journey

0:28:090:28:12

to find their dream home.

0:28:120:28:14

Join us again next time. Bye-bye.

0:28:140:28:18

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:28:180:28:20

in Wales, Scotland, N Ireland or England and need our help,

0:28:200:28:26

please apply online at -

0:28:260:28:28

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:500:28:53

Nicki Chapman is in Dorset, helping a couple swap city skylines for open countryside. With a budget of up to £800,000, these buyers are tempted by a fabulous slice of a country estate with 350 acres of communal land.


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