East Midlands Escape to the Country


East Midlands

Alistair Appleton heads to the East Midlands, where a Dublin family with a £600,000 budget are looking for a classic English country home.


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Transcript


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Oh, yes. Where but the great British countryside is it acceptable

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for grown men to dress in ribbons and bells

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and shake hankies at each other?

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Find out exactly who these handsome fellows are in just a moment.

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Today we're helping a young family swap the city streets of Dublin

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for some English country lanes.

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-Wow!

-Wow! Very pretty, isn't it? Really.

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Absolutely chocolate box.

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We'll be tempting them with some rural beauties.

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I love this room. Straightaway, I love it.

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Me likee.

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Or will our Mystery House level the playing field?

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-A little stile goes across into the cricket...

-The kids can live there!

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-That's tennis, isn't it?

-I think it is!

-Croquet!

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We are in the heart of the East Midlands today

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and these fine fellows are the Leicester Morris Men.

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The origins of Morris dancing are lost in the mists of time

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but the myth is it wards off evil spirits and brings good fortune.

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Which means that with these guys on our side,

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our house hunt today is going to be truly blessed.

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Which is just as well, as there's lots of ground to cover

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with six counties making up the East Midlands.

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All are land-locked apart from Lincolnshire with its 50-mile coastline.

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By far the biggest of the six, 92% of the landscape is rural

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with a large swathe made up from the gentle rolling wolds,

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an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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Next is Nottinghamshire, forever linked with the legend of Robin Hood.

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It's also home to the UK's third largest river, the Trent,

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which meanders through a patchwork quilt of fields

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into neighbouring Derbyshire.

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Undoubtedly the most dramatic county with the windswept summits of the Peak District National Park

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and a whole host of pretty villages

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making it a big hit with homebuyers and tourists alike.

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Head south to Northants, though,

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and you can escape the hordes in a very relaxed fashion

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on the Grand Union Canal.

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With plenty of historic towns and honey-coloured houses

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but no significant tourist hotspot,

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you get country charm without the crowds.

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Rutland is the smallest county, not just of the East Midlands but of all the UK.

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However, it's home to Europe's largest man-made lake,

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so it's easy to see why they came up with the motto "multum in parvo" -

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"so much in so little."

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Last, but not least, Leicestershire.

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In a recent poll of the 408 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales,

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Leicestershire, along with Surrey, came out number one county for raising a family.

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It's got great schools and hospitals, high employment,

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very good family housing and a low crime rate.

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So if you feel inspired to buy a property here in the East Midlands,

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take a look at what's on offer.

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For those with big ambitions, how about this Georgian farmhouse

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near Market Harborough.

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You get six Louis XIV-style bedrooms,

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four character reception rooms,

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a huge high-spec kitchen-diner, and somewhere to dip your toes!

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Set in an impressive 20 acres,

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it has an equally impressive price tag - £1.35 million!

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If you want to go the whole rustic hog,

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then this 19th-century barn conversion near Lutterworth

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is just the ticket.

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You can cosy up in two reception rooms,

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hold banquets in the dining room,

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rest your head in one of the four bedrooms or just relax in the low-maintenance garden.

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It's on the market at £565,000.

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Last, but not least, how about this unusual new build near Ashwell?

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At just a snip under £400,000,

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you get modern accommodation with two reception rooms,

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three bedrooms and a good-sized laid-to-lawn garden

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for some lazy Leicestershire weekends.

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There you have it - a handful of beautiful East Midlands properties

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with three more yet to come.

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All we need now is a couple to show them to.

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Meet Julie and Simon and their two children, Rebecca and Jake.

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They live in Dublin and share their four-bedroomed house with Molly the cat.

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However, Simon recently started a new top job in the UK

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for a clothes retailer

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and is now commuting between Ireland and England on a weekly basis.

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'It's not great being a weekend dad.'

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We're a family unit and we really want to be together.

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If that's moving to the UK, fantastic.

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That's why we're moving.

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They've decided to up-sticks from the suburbs and move en-masse

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across the Irish Sea. But what's prompted these urbanites

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to plump for the English countryside?

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My family have a house in Wexford which is on farmland, beside the sea.

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When the kids are there, they run amok.

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Yes, we've a big back garden, but we can't open the door here and say, "Off you go",

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like I imagine you can in the country.

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Ah, the outdoor life. But have they decided on a location for their pastures new?

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Currently I'm working in Market Harborough.

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We don't want to give myself a long commute in the morning

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so anywhere a 30- to 40-minute commute into Market Harborough.

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-I suppose...

-I think from my point of view, probably the most important deciding factor

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would be where the kids go to school.

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I'd nearly say school first and then house or location second.

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So schooling will be key, but what about the property itself?

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Julie and Simon spent six months remodelling their Dublin home

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so is there anything they want to take with them to Blighty?

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I think I'd take our bedroom. I like it.

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We were quite selfish in terms of the space we allocated to our bedroom.

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The garden I love, but again, bigger.

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Certainly four bedrooms, because living away, we want people to stay with us.

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Another must-have, we were all so used to the open-plan kitchen/diner.

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That would be a must-have. I'm not gone on a separate dining area.

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-I love having it all happen in the one room.

-Totally.

-That's a must-have.

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With Simon already in the UK Monday to Friday,

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he's had a few months to adapt.

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But for Julie, who will be giving up her job as a Director of Studies,

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this will be a huge lifestyle change.

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I'm actually looking forward to the opportunity of simply being a mum.

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-Alone.

-"Simply"?

-Simply being a mum for the first time since the kids were born.

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That's something I'm really looking forward to,

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just being a mum and a wife, obviously!

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Thank you!

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However, before they can embark on their new life across the water,

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they need to know what they can afford. So we've invited a local agent round

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to value their Dublin home.

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It's a fantastic four-bed family house.

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Houses of this type are always sought after because of their size,

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the garden size and schools are in close proximity.

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Based on everything I've seen today, the value is around 600,000 euro.

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So what's the final spend in English pounds and pence?

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Our budget is about £550,000 sterling. Plus or minus.

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This is a big move for Julie and Simon, particularly Julie,

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because she's leaving behind her country, her parents and her job.

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But I'm hoping we can cushion their move

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because the average house price in the counties we're looking at is around £241,000 for a detached house

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which is six per cent below the national average.

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So hopefully their budget of £550,000 will get them the house that will make the move perfect.

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Simon and Julie's main criteria is to be located in a village

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with a good school, within a 40-minute drive radius of Market Harborough,

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where Simon works.

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So we can cast the search net over three counties today -

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Rutland, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

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We've lined up two lovely family homes for them to view

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but I won't reveal the price tags till they've had a good look around.

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And there's the Mystery House which won't be the country escape they're expecting.

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Ah, look at you. You're made for the East Midlands landscape. It's fantastic.

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Now, East Midlands from Dublin.

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So will it be difficult? I know you've been working here

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-but will it be difficult for you, Julie?

-I think it's important we're together as a family.

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The kids miss Simon, he misses them.

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So of course it'll be a wrench,

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but I think reuniting us as a family is very important.

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-You've had your house valued.

-Yes.

-Can I ask what you got?

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They valued it at 600,000 euro, which was a bit disappointing.

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-Disappointing?

-Yes.

-Three years ago, it was twice that value.

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The housing market in Dublin is, at the moment, at quite a low.

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Does that have an effect on what we have to spend?

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Well, our budget is 550.

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Six at a push.

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Ah, that's what I was waiting for!

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-I always ask is there any kind of room...

-I was going to hold back, but no.

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-But that's the pain threshold is it?

-Yes.

-Yes.

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-What about the schools? Have you been looking at Ofsted reports?

-Yes, from afar.

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But we need to look at that in more detail.

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It's a beautiful day. Houses look great in this weather. Let's go.

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For a maximum budget of £600,000,

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Simon and Julie are looking for a four-bed detached home.

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Must-haves include a large kitchen/diner

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and at least one en-suite bedroom.

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Simon's big dream is to have a big garden

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and the whole package needs to be situated in a village with a good primary school,

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no further than a 40-minute drive from Market Harborough.

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They haven't given us much to go on in terms of the style of the house,

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so let's hope we aren't way off the mark.

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In terms of living in a village, are you prepared for the rural life?

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I think so, yes. I think I am.

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It'll be a big change. But I'm up for the challenge. Once the kids are in school,

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that's a great way for me to make friends

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and get involved in the community.

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I'll be fine. I'm quite a sociable person, anyway,

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so I think I'll make the adjustment alright.

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Hopefully the family won't have any problems fitting into our first village, Empingham.

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Traffic permitting, it's a spot-on 40-minute drive from Market Harborough.

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It's a pretty and busy community village

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with a good run of amenities including a shop, a pub,

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two churches and most importantly, a primary school

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with an Ofsted rating of "good".

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There's also no shortage of cracking character housing stock

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all of which makes it a popular destination with buyers.

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-This is the first property I want to show you. What do you think?

-Wow!

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Wow! Very pretty, isn't it? Absolutely chocolate box!

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-You wanted chocolate box.

-We did.

-This is chocolate box. Now,

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the exciting thing about this property is that it's twice as big as you think.

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-It's not just this door, it's that door as well.

-Wow!

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A double chocolate box. A double layer!

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-The bigger the box, the better.

-A double layer!

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You can see it's thatched. Any aversion to thatch?

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I love the look of it. My question would be how long does a thatch last?

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Well, this has just been done, so you've got another 30 years in it. Thumbs up from outside?

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-Thumbs up so far, absolutely.

-Yep.

-Let's go in.

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Originally a farm worker's cottage dating from the 1500s,

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it was extended two years ago into a very substantial family home.

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Let's hope it measures up to size.

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Come on in.

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This is lovely, isn't it?

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This is the modern part of the house.

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There are two front doors but we've come into the modern part

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because I think this is the hall. This is all two years old.

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But a lot of it is reclaimed. So these beams are the original roof plates from the old cottage.

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-It's lovely.

-Yeah, it's very nice.

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-I love the way they've used the wood.

-So do I.

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We're going to go into the older part of the cottage.

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-Come into the kitchen.

-Wow!

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Ah, good "wow"!

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-This is lovely.

-It's nice, isn't it?

-Isn't it?

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It's not open plan - you're used to an open plan kitchen.

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I can see myself in here now with the kids doing their homework there.

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Me cooking. I can visualise that quite clearly.

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What's nice is you've got a big utility room and downstairs toilet

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-so you can throw unwashed stuff in there!

-And close the door!

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Close the door!

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There's also a little snug off the kitchen

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which could be a cosy playroom, leaving the living room, across the hallway, just for the adults.

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This is the final room downstairs, Simon.

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-Ah, very good.

-Nice and bright, isn't it?

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-I like this room.

-So do I. It's not as deep as I thought it would be, actually.

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-Going this way.

-Yeah.

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-It's very long.

-Yeah.

-But it's not very deep.

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It's typical of English farm cottages. They were just a room

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with a roof on top.

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-That's quite typical. The nice thing about that is you get light from both sides.

-Sure.

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Yes, what it lacks in the amount of rooms,

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the quaintness and the way they've used all the details from the past is nice.

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Is that a price you're willing to pay - to have more rooms and be modern?

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I don't know, actually.

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I think I might prefer more room downstairs.

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But quite how I'm not sure.

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-You know?

-And less charm?

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-I like the charm, too!

-See?

-I kind of want it all!

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'Who doesn't want it all? However, getting it all is a different matter.

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'Although we're delivering on room requirements upstairs with four bedrooms.

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'First up is a double guest room with an en-suite shower room.

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Next, the family bathroom.

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There's a double bedroom ideal for Rebecca and a smaller room for Jake.

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-Here is...

-Oh, I love this room! Straightaway I love this room!

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I thought you'd say that. More space, it's airy.

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It's big, it's bright. Look at the windows. I love this!

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The en-suite. Have a look in, both of you.

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-It's a goody!

-Julie, you'd like this!

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Oh, this is amazing!

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-Beautifully done, isn't it?

-Lovely. And it's big.

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'Great reactions. I think this property is going down well.

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'Now, what about the garden?

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'Simon has massive expectations for outside space

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'and this could be one area of compromise.'

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The big question for me is is this garden going to be big enough for you?

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It's smaller than we're used to.

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-It's a no from me.

-No?

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-Too small?

-Yeah.

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I want to throw a rugby ball around with Jake, and um...

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automatically, unless there's somewhere else I can go and do it, it doesn't have the space.

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The nearest sports field is two minutes away, but it's not out in your garden.

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-It might be interesting for you to know how much it costs, or to have a guess how much.

-Yes.

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I'd say it's the top end of our budget so I'd go with about 595.

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I'd pitch it a bit lower, actually.

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540.

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Split the difference. It's on the market for 550.

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OK.

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-There's a lot of interest in it.

-OK.

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-Well, it's the first house.

-Sure.

-And you did give us a wide brief.

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So it's interesting for us to know where's important and where's not negotiable.

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Have a wonder round. Look at all the nooks and crannies. See you out front.

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On the market for £550,000,

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this is a beautifully presented 16th-century thatched cottage.

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It's not open plan, but it has a good flow downstairs

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with two reception rooms, a country kitchen and a little snug.

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Upstairs, it delivers on bedrooms with four in all, two en-suite.

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It's a great village location with all the amenities they've asked for

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and for anyone not wanting to play rugby,

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the garden is a good size.

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I wonder if Simon's must-have outside space

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will find itself moving down the must-have list?

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When I saw the property, I thought, "Wow!" Thatched roof,

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amazing. I loved the size of the house.

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I was surprised it was two bits, not just the one. I love the kitchen.

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I have to say initially I was worried at the lack of open-planness - if that's a word!

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But now we've explored, it's growing on me.

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My one area of concern would be the garden. But maybe we have to compromise.

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Something we said we'd always like to have is a big garden.

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Where the compromise is, I don't know, cos the house itself is lovely.

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Julie will have to work on me a bit to get this one to work!

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Could I see us living here as a family? Yes, definitely.

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It's a very family-oriented house.

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Plenty of living space, great size bedrooms for the kids. Definitely.

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Sensational house-viewing weather.

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-Are you done?

-We're done.

-Pull the door behind you.

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-Done exploring.

-Done exploring?

-Yes.

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Let's go and discuss, then there's the rest of the East Midlands to look at!

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Now, when you imagine the quintessential English countryside,

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Leicestershire probably isn't at the top of the list.

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Yet this is a county with a strong farming pedigree.

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Even today, a massive 84% of the landscape is classified as rural,

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which covers everything from farmland to villages and market towns.

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In fact, it boasts the third oldest market town in the UK, Melton Mowbray,

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recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as having the only market in all of Leicestershire.

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People have been haggling over goods on a Tuesday

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since it was awarded a Royal Charter for its weekly market back in 1324.

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Keen to explore their potential new pastures, Julie and Simon met up with local expert Joan Dawson.

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-Nice to meet you.

-This is Simon.

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Here we are in the marketplace.

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-Very busy, isn't it?

-It's always very busy.

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But perhaps not as it was in 1837

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because the Marquis of Waterford came here with a lot of his friends.

0:18:340:18:39

They'd been to the races and got a trifle tipsy

0:18:390:18:43

and decided to paint the town red - literally!

0:18:430:18:46

They painted the toll house and the toll house-keeper red!

0:18:460:18:51

And that's where the expression of having a good time comes from, Melton Mowbray!

0:18:510:18:55

I do like a good tale of drunken derring-do,

0:18:550:18:58

but it's country life Simon and Julie are after, and you don't get more rural than the beast market!

0:18:580:19:04

OK, it's just cows, sheep and pigs, but a fantastic name.

0:19:040:19:08

And it's big business for Melton, with up to 3,000 people visiting each week.

0:19:080:19:13

Over 33,000 cows and 250,000 sheep are sold annually.

0:19:130:19:18

Pigs are a recent addition to the market, which is strange

0:19:200:19:24

when you consider what else Melton Mowbray is famous for -

0:19:240:19:27

the birthplace of the pork pie.

0:19:270:19:29

So for Julie and Simon's final stop, they met Stephen Hallam,

0:19:290:19:32

at the oldest and last shop that produces authentic Melton Mowbray pork pies in the town centre.

0:19:320:19:39

Where do pork pies come from, Stephen?

0:19:390:19:42

Melton Mowbray pork pies owe their fame to Stilton cheese. That came first.

0:19:420:19:47

Going back 200 years, a by-product of the cheesemaking process is whey.

0:19:470:19:51

Cheesemakers found that's a good food supplement for pigs.

0:19:510:19:55

So they kept pigs and there was loads of pork about.

0:19:550:19:58

A grocer and a baker started making pies in Melton Mowbray using the pork. That's how it happened.

0:19:580:20:04

Then the fame of the pies spread thanks to hunting.

0:20:040:20:07

The pork pie became the staple diet for the hunters' grooms.

0:20:070:20:11

Easy to carry and eat on the move.

0:20:110:20:14

To be an authentic Melton Mowbray pork pie, it must be hand-made in the area

0:20:140:20:19

from uncured meat and cooked without support.

0:20:190:20:22

They look about done now, so we'll take those out.

0:20:220:20:26

-Oh, they smell fantastic!

-Put them on there.

0:20:270:20:31

-They look good, don't they?

-Are they ready to eat?

0:20:310:20:34

No, we put jelly in them. They'll cool overnight and they're ready tomorrow.

0:20:340:20:38

4,500 pies are sold from these premises every week.

0:20:380:20:43

That increases to a staggering 30,000 in the six weeks before Christmas.

0:20:430:20:48

What will Julie and Simon think of this traditional Leicestershire fare?

0:20:480:20:53

I think Simple Simon has met his pie man!

0:20:530:20:55

In Melton Mowbray!

0:20:550:20:57

For our second offering, we're heading over the border into Northamptonshire,

0:21:000:21:05

to the village of Geddington.

0:21:050:21:07

At just 15 miles from Market Harborough,

0:21:070:21:09

it's a much shorter 20-minute commute for Simon.

0:21:090:21:12

Geddington has plenty to keep the family occupied

0:21:120:21:15

with an impressive roll-call of clubs.

0:21:150:21:17

Everything from rugby and cricket to tennis and am-dram.

0:21:170:21:21

There's also a youth club, and Simon and Julie get a choice of pubs.

0:21:210:21:26

The village is also home to the must-have primary school,

0:21:260:21:29

again with a "good" Ofsted rating,

0:21:290:21:32

and two cornerstones of rural life, the shop and the post office.

0:21:320:21:36

However, we're heading one mile out into the country

0:21:360:21:39

for our next property,

0:21:390:21:41

to a small development of nine houses converted from farm buildings back in 1999.

0:21:410:21:46

-Come on in, guys.

-Wow!

0:21:460:21:48

So after the first one, which I thought is a beautiful cottage,

0:21:480:21:52

perfectly formed,

0:21:520:21:54

-I thought it was perhaps a bit too "done" for you.

-OK.

0:21:540:21:57

So what we have here is an equally beautiful property

0:21:570:22:00

but I think it probably has more scope for you to do stuff to it.

0:22:000:22:04

-A mini project?

-Not really, you don't need to do anything to it.

0:22:040:22:08

-But there's potential to do something.

-OK.

0:22:080:22:10

This is your main garden. There's a back garden as well, but this is the biggest spot of lawn.

0:22:100:22:16

-Is this enough to throw a rugby ball around?

-On the drive in,

0:22:160:22:19

-there's fields galore.

-You're surrounded by fields and woodland galore.

0:22:190:22:24

-So there's plenty of space there.

-Pitch your rugby posts there!

0:22:240:22:28

Although this barn is attached, it's really spacious.

0:22:280:22:32

I think it could offer them the family accommodation they're after, if they put some work in.

0:22:320:22:37

However, having remodelled their current home, I'm sure they could handle it.

0:22:370:22:42

Step in.

0:22:420:22:44

-Another hallway.

-Yes, nice and big.

0:22:450:22:47

-Quite a theme on this show.

-I like this one.

-So do I.

0:22:470:22:50

It's a much better use of space.

0:22:500:22:52

What's nice about this one is it's bigger - everything is bigger in this property.

0:22:520:22:57

There are separate rooms, but there's also scope to make it open plan.

0:22:570:23:01

Off this hallway is the first reception room.

0:23:010:23:04

However, the majority of the living space is on the left-hand side of the barn.

0:23:040:23:09

So we come down the corridor into the kitchen.

0:23:090:23:13

-This is a nice big room.

-Nice size.

0:23:130:23:15

-Yeah.

-I like this.

-Lovely bespoke pine units all the way through.

0:23:150:23:19

-Is this enough work surface, Simon?

-Loads of space.

-Yes. Fantastic.

0:23:190:23:23

I know you're not mad keen on corridors.

0:23:230:23:26

-Could you live with that?

-I could.

0:23:260:23:29

Because you don't have to. TAPS WALL

0:23:290:23:31

-OK.

-These are all stud walls.

-Right. So there's massive potential.

0:23:310:23:35

-There's potential to open this all up so you have all these walls.

-Yes.

0:23:350:23:40

-Put your own stamp on it. Or our own stamp on it.

-Absolutely.

-Not yours.

0:23:400:23:45

Not mine, no. I'll keep my stamps for myself, thank you!

0:23:450:23:48

Sorry!

0:23:480:23:50

'Well, that's given them something to think about.

0:23:500:23:53

'And still a lot more to see.'

0:23:530:23:55

-Right.

-Wow!

-More and more space.

0:23:550:23:57

-This is the main sitting room.

-Oh, I love this!

-Me likee!

0:23:580:24:02

-This is lovely. I like this.

-The stonework.

0:24:030:24:07

-That would be the outside of the original barn.

-It's lovely.

-Also,

0:24:070:24:11

you've got here...

0:24:110:24:13

-..lots more options.

-Wow, a playroom for the kids. Look a this.

0:24:140:24:18

-With doors outside. A few trees for Jake to climb.

-And me!

-And you!

0:24:180:24:23

-No, I like this room.

-This is great.

0:24:230:24:26

'Tick, tick, tick, down here, I think.

0:24:260:24:29

'I'm glad to see they're buying into the potential.

0:24:290:24:32

'Hopefully upstairs gets equally good marks.

0:24:320:24:35

'There are four bedrooms in all.

0:24:350:24:37

'Two very ample double rooms, one of which is next to the family bathroom

0:24:370:24:42

'so could be knocked through to create a guest en-suite.

0:24:420:24:45

'And there's a good-sized single.'

0:24:450:24:48

I hear you planning things as we walk around. Very good.

0:24:490:24:53

-It's very red!

-This is very red, the master bedroom. Quite red!

0:24:530:24:57

-It's the colour of passion, so fitting!

-Great. You think?

0:24:570:25:01

-Well! A nice en-suite which you can explore a bit later on.

-OK.

0:25:010:25:05

Although the other property was fantastic and really well finished,

0:25:050:25:09

the proportions here and the ceiling height add a much different feeling of space.

0:25:090:25:14

'Simon is far more effusive in this house, which I take to be a good sign.

0:25:150:25:19

'But I know outside space can be a sticking point with him

0:25:190:25:23

'so let's see what he makes of the garden here.

0:25:230:25:25

'As well as the front garden, there's a patch at the back.'

0:25:250:25:29

So, the garden at the back is not massive, but it's pretty spectacular.

0:25:290:25:34

-You've got the forest to look at.

-Yes, that's nice.

0:25:340:25:37

-Very secluded, isn't it?

-Beautiful.

0:25:370:25:39

'Phew, I thought that might be a problem. I have one more area to show out front

0:25:390:25:44

'which could be a real bonus.'

0:25:440:25:46

This, I think, is a really exciting space.

0:25:490:25:52

-This is a continuation of what was the sitting room.

-Yep.

0:25:520:25:55

The sitting room.

0:25:550:25:58

And they have - or, rather, they had - planning permission

0:25:580:26:01

to convert this, put windows in and turn it into a living space.

0:26:010:26:04

In the end, they didn't need to do it, so the permission has lapsed.

0:26:040:26:08

But it would be easy to get it again.

0:26:080:26:11

This, to me, is one of the most exciting bits about this property.

0:26:110:26:15

It's totally untapped. I think - if I'm not wrong -

0:26:150:26:18

it's the living room behind that wall.

0:26:180:26:20

-So there's a fireplace there.

-Fireplace there.

0:26:200:26:23

-This, to me, would be a continuation of this.

-Yes.

0:26:230:26:25

In order to do that work, you need a bit of money.

0:26:250:26:29

-No!

-So how much do you think all of this costs?

0:26:290:26:33

-450.

-450.

0:26:330:26:35

I think probably...510.

0:26:350:26:39

To tell you the truth, it's on with a guide price

0:26:390:26:41

which is different from a fixed price.

0:26:410:26:44

So you can put offers under. It's on with a guide price of 540.

0:26:440:26:48

-OK.

-OK.

-I was way off the mark!

-You were very optimistic!

0:26:480:26:53

Have a look around. I think with this one there's more head scratching.

0:26:530:26:58

-I agree with you.

-Tweaking things.

-Have a look round and I'll see you on the drive.

-Great. Thanks.

0:26:580:27:03

With a guide price of £540,000

0:27:040:27:07

I can't say exactly how much money would be left in the pot

0:27:070:27:11

to further convert this barn.

0:27:110:27:13

But at least 50,000, I would imagine.

0:27:130:27:15

It's already a big property with two formal reception rooms,

0:27:150:27:19

a large kitchen, a study and four bedrooms.

0:27:190:27:23

It could be even bigger if they decided to convert the barn outside

0:27:230:27:27

and the rear garden backs onto prime Northamptonshire woodland.

0:27:270:27:31

I think we could have a contender.

0:27:310:27:33

I love the size of the kitchen.

0:27:330:27:35

But give me carte blanche, I'd build a nice breakfast bar out here,

0:27:350:27:41

move the table down, knock out that wall

0:27:410:27:43

and you have a lovely big living/breakfast/kitchen area.

0:27:430:27:46

From the moment we walked in, Simon's creative juices were flowing

0:27:460:27:50

and having done a project before, we're not averse to doing it again.

0:27:500:27:54

I could see his mind working,

0:27:540:27:56

mentally knocking down walls. I think he likes it, too.

0:27:560:28:00

I could actually see us living here.

0:28:000:28:02

I must say I like the light and the space.

0:28:020:28:05

And it would give us a blank canvas. There's a lot of potential.

0:28:050:28:09

There are so many bees in this wisteria - it's Bee Central!

0:28:090:28:12

-See this beautiful wisteria? It could be yours!

-Stunning, isn't it?

0:28:120:28:16

-Are you excited about this one?

-Yes. Very.

-Yes, I like this one.

0:28:160:28:19

I feel a positive energy. Keep that going! Keep it going.

0:28:190:28:23

Well, we're two properties down

0:28:250:28:27

as the sun sets over the East Midlands countryside.

0:28:270:28:30

I think we've given Julie and Simon plenty to think about.

0:28:300:28:34

Coming up, we'll be taking Simon and Julie out of their comfort zone

0:28:420:28:46

with the Mystery House. Could it be the not-quite-so-country-escape they want?

0:28:460:28:52

This is amazing!

0:28:520:28:53

-That's what we wanted to hear!

-Isn't it lovely?

0:28:530:28:56

And I'll be getting to grips with some traditional English folk.

0:28:560:29:00

Day Two of our Dublin to East Midlands house hunt.

0:29:050:29:09

Julie and Simon have been very enthusiastic about the beautiful countryside

0:29:090:29:13

but slight problems with the layout of these country cottages.

0:29:130:29:16

They could do stuff in the second property

0:29:160:29:19

but for the Mystery House I'd like to give them the layout they're used to,

0:29:190:29:23

but maybe add a little twist

0:29:230:29:25

for these cosmopolitan city dwellers.

0:29:250:29:28

All will be revealed soon. We're heading to Leicestershire

0:29:320:29:35

and will be 30 minutes from Market Harborough,

0:29:350:29:38

as the Mystery House is situated in Lutterworth.

0:29:380:29:42

A busy market town, it's not the chocolate box village our Dubliners had in mind.

0:29:420:29:47

But having a whole host of amenities on the doorstep

0:29:470:29:51

might not be such a bad idea for a young family,

0:29:510:29:54

including a choice of primary schools and the full gamut of shops and pubs.

0:29:540:29:58

Our property is situated near the centre of the town

0:29:580:30:02

but it's right next door to the church and cricket pitch,

0:30:020:30:05

so it almost feels like a village.

0:30:050:30:07

-Obviously, location has changed here.

-It has.

-Yes.

0:30:090:30:13

What are your thoughts about Lutterworth?

0:30:130:30:15

-First impressions are that it's noisy behind me.

-There is a road.

0:30:170:30:21

-Uh-huh.

-Busy road.

0:30:210:30:23

What about the house from the outside?

0:30:230:30:26

Looks great. Yes, I like it.

0:30:260:30:28

A good, substantial looking house.

0:30:280:30:31

It is from the '50s. Again, this part on the left is from 1953.

0:30:310:30:36

It won an architectural award when it was built.

0:30:360:30:39

This part on the right is from two years ago. There's a theme!

0:30:390:30:43

There is a theme, yes!

0:30:430:30:44

Add-on seamless extensions. So there's a lot of space.

0:30:440:30:48

-OK.

-Really?

-Sounds good.

-Good?

-Can we go inside?

0:30:480:30:52

-You like the outside?

-Yes, very much.

0:30:520:30:54

'Well, that went pretty well.

0:30:540:30:56

'Unless I've read these two completely wrong,

0:30:560:30:59

'I think they'll be bowled over by the interior.'

0:30:590:31:02

-It's a big, bright hall.

-Oh, wow!

0:31:040:31:06

-Into this space here.

-This is amazing.

0:31:060:31:09

-Lovely room, isn't it?

-Nice space.

-Huge.

0:31:090:31:12

Why we wanted to show you this is because it is very open plan.

0:31:120:31:17

You're not wrong there!

0:31:170:31:19

It flows through the back wall of the house into this new extension.

0:31:190:31:24

Look at those windows!

0:31:240:31:27

Interestingly, the builder specialises in oak.

0:31:270:31:29

-These are oak frames. Green oak, but now they're set.

-Stunning.

0:31:290:31:34

They're pegged. There's no screws or metal involved.

0:31:340:31:38

-I really, really like those windows.

-I love that.

0:31:380:31:41

-Lots of love.

-Lots of loving.

-Love in this room!

0:31:410:31:44

Great. You could have the kids doing their homework there,

0:31:440:31:47

you watching the telly there, and Simon in the kitchen cooking.

0:31:470:31:51

Take a look at this.

0:31:510:31:53

Ooh, now that's a kitchen... That's a kitchen!

0:31:530:31:56

Oh, wow!

0:31:560:31:58

-Beautiful, isn't it?

-Yep.

0:31:580:32:00

A lovely island.

0:32:000:32:02

This door goes straight into the double garage.

0:32:020:32:04

You've got inside access to the garage, so you can bring shopping in here.

0:32:040:32:09

-I like this.

-It's nice.

0:32:090:32:11

Rooms flowing into rooms.

0:32:110:32:12

'Downstairs is an unqualified success

0:32:120:32:16

'and upstairs won't disappoint.

0:32:160:32:18

'Five bedrooms in all, each a very good size.

0:32:180:32:21

'There are four doubles, so plenty of room for Rebecca, Jake and grandparents.

0:32:210:32:26

'And there's a large modern family bathroom.'

0:32:260:32:29

Here's the master.

0:32:310:32:33

This is amazing!

0:32:340:32:37

That's what we wanted to hear!

0:32:370:32:39

-Isn't it lovely?

-But also,

0:32:390:32:41

-you wanted open plan...

-It's open plan!

0:32:410:32:44

That is an open plan en-suite!

0:32:440:32:46

OK.

0:32:460:32:48

-Does that work for you?

-This could be our very own play room!

0:32:480:32:51

-Oh, right!

-On so many levels!

0:32:510:32:54

But it is lovely. It's an unusual thing to have.

0:32:540:32:58

It's not quite a wet room, but it's water-tight. But then...

0:32:580:33:02

-on top of that...

-Amazing feature!

0:33:020:33:04

-This is great.

-Look at this!

0:33:070:33:09

-Come out here...

-There's the church.

0:33:090:33:12

Church and the cricket ground to watch the cricket.

0:33:120:33:15

-I like this. It's great, isn't it?

-You have to become a cricket fan!

0:33:150:33:19

I mean, the noise is something you have to think about.

0:33:190:33:22

-MODERATE TRAFFIC NOISE

-Yeah, that's... Yeah.

0:33:220:33:25

Let's go in the garden, see if you can still hear.

0:33:250:33:27

'It's the biggest garden we're seeing so it should go down well with Simon.

0:33:270:33:32

-It's a beautiful garden.

-Stunning.

-Beautifully maintained.

0:33:330:33:37

-It's manageable.

-Uh-huh.

0:33:370:33:39

-It's about quarter of an acre.

-OK.

-Not excessive. It wraps round.

0:33:390:33:43

-Great.

-There's a little stile that goes across to the cricket.

0:33:430:33:47

-The kids can live over there!

-Bit of... That's tennis, isn't it?

0:33:470:33:51

Croquet! And a lovely veggie patch and another viewing platform.

0:33:510:33:56

You can sit... Is it going to be a problem with road noise? That's the question.

0:33:560:34:00

That's the big stumbling block for me. The house is perfect.

0:34:000:34:04

It ticks every single box. And more.

0:34:040:34:07

-I don't know.

-I can't deny, it is a factor here.

0:34:070:34:10

It's something we'd have to think about.

0:34:100:34:13

-The other thing to think about is the price.

-You go first. I hate this bit!

0:34:130:34:17

I think it'll be the top end. Uh... 595.

0:34:170:34:20

I'm going to go for 605.

0:34:200:34:23

Ah. Right. Throw the difference. It's just a shade under £600,000.

0:34:230:34:28

-OK.

-You get £50 change.

-Wow.

0:34:280:34:30

To be honest, the house internally ticks nearly all the boxes.

0:34:300:34:34

It's just the road is the bit that doesn't quite do it.

0:34:340:34:39

But we have to compromise.

0:34:390:34:42

-Why don't you go inside and discuss the compromise.

-OK.

0:34:420:34:45

-I'll see you out the front.

-OK.

-Great.

0:34:450:34:48

That was a good Mystery House.

0:34:490:34:51

So, a snip under our budget of £600,000,

0:34:510:34:55

our mystery market town house seems to have hit the spot.

0:34:550:34:58

It has a very contemporary huge open plan living area downstairs

0:34:580:35:03

including a high-spec kitchen.

0:35:030:35:05

Upstairs are five big bedrooms including the master en-suite.

0:35:050:35:09

And surprisingly for a town location,

0:35:090:35:12

it has the biggest garden we've seen, at quarter of an acre.

0:35:120:35:15

It is close to a road, but will it be a compromise worth making?

0:35:150:35:20

I just love it. I'd say it ticks all of my boxes, actually.

0:35:200:35:23

The only problem is the noise from the main road. It's a bigger compromise for me than for Simon.

0:35:230:35:29

The Mystery House has set the cat amongst the pigeons.

0:35:290:35:32

A bit of a dilemma.

0:35:320:35:34

But a nice dilemma to be stuck in!

0:35:340:35:36

I'm going to have to tear you away. I know you like it.

0:35:360:35:39

-I don't want to leave.

-Not only do you have to leave, you have to make some decisions.

0:35:390:35:44

-OK.

-You look like you're going to say goodbye!

0:35:440:35:47

-We'll go back in!

-Come away!

0:35:470:35:49

Come away!

0:35:490:35:51

Apart from country pubs, sheep and hay bales,

0:36:000:36:03

for me, nothing epitomises English rural life quite like a bunch of men

0:36:030:36:08

dressed in white, shaking bells, sticks and hankies.

0:36:080:36:11

However, we're lucky to see Morris dancing at all

0:36:110:36:14

as by the end of the 19th century,

0:36:140:36:16

with the Industrial Revolution taking over the countryside,

0:36:160:36:20

this ancient folk tradition had virtually died out.

0:36:200:36:23

Today, though, there are an estimated 14,000 Morris men and women in the UK.

0:36:230:36:28

And 17 groups are based here in Leicestershire and Rutland.

0:36:280:36:32

So to find out how it's survived, I'm joining Pete Johnson of the Leicester Morris Men.

0:36:320:36:37

Now, I'm a Morris dancing virgin. I don't know that much about it.

0:36:370:36:42

We're here in Leicestershire. Is it from here?

0:36:420:36:46

There would have been dances here, years ago, but nobody recorded them

0:36:460:36:50

because they regarded them as everyday stuff.

0:36:500:36:53

They were handed down, father to son.

0:36:530:36:55

So did they get lost at some point?

0:36:550:36:58

They got lost because the Morris virtually died out

0:36:580:37:01

at the end of the 19th century.

0:37:010:37:04

And they were only saved

0:37:040:37:08

because a serious collector of folk songs ran into some Morris men

0:37:080:37:13

on the outskirts of Oxford and took an interest

0:37:130:37:16

and collected the dances a few years later.

0:37:160:37:18

So it's been revived. What's the origin? It's a bit nebulous, isn't it?

0:37:180:37:22

Well, to put it into context, it's mentioned in writing in Leicester

0:37:220:37:28

in 1599.

0:37:280:37:30

It's around that time? It's not pre-history, not pagan?

0:37:300:37:34

It's not pre-history, it's not pagan. That's a theory that people put around for local colour!

0:37:340:37:41

It does seem to have something to do with the cycle of the year and the seasons.

0:37:410:37:46

-So in a sense it's fertility.

-Does it make you fertile?

0:37:460:37:49

It is a fertility ritual, but not in a personal sense!

0:37:490:37:53

Probably more of an agricultural metaphor!

0:37:530:37:56

-You don't have hundreds of children?

-Not that we're admitting to!

0:37:560:38:00

I've always had a soft spot for Morris dancing.

0:38:000:38:03

Often on this show I do things I'm not so keen on,

0:38:030:38:06

-but I'm keen to have a go at this.

-OK.

0:38:060:38:08

-Only if I get to wear the hat and the bells!

-You need all the kit if you're going to do it.

0:38:080:38:13

That one can go on your head.

0:38:130:38:15

-You'll need this around your neck.

-Handkerchief.

-A baldrick.

0:38:150:38:20

-And you've got some bells.

-Come and kit me up.

0:38:200:38:22

This Leicester side - that's what they're called, not a team -

0:38:230:38:27

meet weekly throughout the year and perform every Wednesday night

0:38:270:38:31

in and around Leicestershire in summer.

0:38:310:38:33

So who better to show me a few moves?

0:38:330:38:36

Your hats look... Mine looks like a dowager aunt! Yours look manly!

0:38:360:38:41

-Right, we need to teach you a few steps, if you want to join the Morris.

-Right.

0:38:410:38:45

The first thing is to go, "One, two, three, hop!"

0:38:450:38:49

Like this.

0:38:490:38:50

One, two, three, hop. One, two, three, hop.

0:38:500:38:53

BOTH: One, two, three, hop. One, two, three, hop.

0:38:530:38:56

'I think I've mastered that. Let's move on to the sticks.'

0:38:560:38:59

You hold it still and he'll strike you.

0:38:590:39:02

MORRIS MUSIC PLAYS

0:39:020:39:05

-Ah!

-There you go. It's better with your eyes open, isn't it?

0:39:110:39:15

Now, let's see if I can combine the two!

0:39:150:39:18

# Landlord, fill the flowing bowl

0:39:190:39:22

# Until it doth run over

0:39:220:39:25

# Landlord, fill the flowing bowl

0:39:250:39:27

# Until it doth run over. #

0:39:270:39:30

Ah!

0:39:450:39:46

You're getting there! Still looking a little anxious at times!

0:39:460:39:51

Come on!

0:39:560:39:58

That has got to be the most charming, guileless reason

0:39:580:40:02

to move to the countryside ever!

0:40:020:40:05

Hopefully, we haven't made such a song and dance

0:40:190:40:22

of the house hunt here in Leicestershire.

0:40:220:40:24

I think all three properties have given Julie and Simon food for thought.

0:40:240:40:29

They need time to weigh up the pros and cons.

0:40:290:40:31

The Mystery House seemed to knock them for six,

0:40:330:40:35

but will it be enough to make them forget the earlier, more rural contenders?

0:40:350:40:40

Let's find out.

0:40:400:40:42

Hello! Oh, you've poured me tea. How nice! Earl Grey?

0:40:460:40:49

It is Earl Grey, yes.

0:40:490:40:51

This is the moment when we have a little chat about all the houses.

0:40:510:40:55

So, the very first house, the chocolate box house.

0:40:550:40:58

-What do you think now?

-I still think it's a stunning house.

0:40:580:41:02

From the outside, it's quintessentially English.

0:41:020:41:05

I can't disagree. When we drove up to it, it certainly was a wow.

0:41:050:41:10

It was straight off a postcard.

0:41:100:41:12

But going into it, it felt a bit claustrophobic.

0:41:120:41:15

-And once we went into the back garden...

-It was off, wasn't it?

0:41:150:41:19

-Off the radar.

-Unfortunately, yes.

-Just a bit too small.

0:41:190:41:22

What about the house in the countryside, with the neighbours?

0:41:220:41:26

The hamlet, the barn conversion.

0:41:260:41:28

I loved the fact that it was a barn conversion. I liked the idea of the old stone

0:41:280:41:33

and the whole developments of that area.

0:41:330:41:36

The garden at the front was sizeable enough.

0:41:360:41:39

But it also hadn't quite realised its true potential.

0:41:390:41:42

There were parts of it, as we talked about, that hadn't been developed.

0:41:420:41:47

-What about the Mystery House?

-My first thought was it's a town.

0:41:470:41:50

But when I saw the house, it really had the wow factor.

0:41:500:41:53

There was a really nice, comfortable feel about it. Of all three,

0:41:530:41:57

it was the one where I went, "Wow, this is what I was looking for."

0:41:570:42:01

When you look at all three properties overall,

0:42:010:42:04

does one stand out as a clear winner?

0:42:040:42:06

-In terms of the house, the Mystery House.

-Without a doubt. Absolutely.

0:42:060:42:10

-That's the one you'd follow up on?

-Yes.

0:42:100:42:12

Would you think about putting an offer in?

0:42:120:42:15

Would we?

0:42:150:42:16

I think we have to go and find out more about it. A considered, reflective view.

0:42:160:42:21

But if we could pick it up and put it into Geddington, where the barn conversion was,

0:42:210:42:26

-we'd put an offer in today.

-Ching! If I had a pound for every time I heard that, I'd be rich!

0:42:260:42:31

We could make the barn in Geddington look like the house in Lutterworth!

0:42:310:42:35

I hope it works out. I'd love it to be one of our houses, but whichever way,

0:42:350:42:40

-I hope it's soon and you're happy.

-We'll send an invite to the house-warming!

-I'd be honoured.

0:42:400:42:45

It's quite a challenge to find a family home in an area as big as the East Midlands

0:42:500:42:56

especially when you're house-hunting from Ireland.

0:42:560:42:59

But I think we did Simon and Julie proud as they relocate to this beautiful bit of Britain.

0:42:590:43:04

For more beautiful bits of Britain, tune in next time

0:43:040:43:07

for Escape to the Country.

0:43:070:43:09

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England,

0:43:120:43:17

please apply online at:

0:43:170:43:23

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:440:43:48

Alistair Appleton dons a flower hat and bells to join the Leicester Morris Men troupe in the East Midlands. With a budget of £600,000, we're helping to reunite a Dublin family. Simon, the father is working in the UK and has become a 'weekend dad', so, in a bid to get the family back together, they are crossing the Irish Sea in search of a classic English country home.


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