Property series. Alistair Appleton is in Hampshire, helping an empty-nester couple with a budget of 700,000 pounds find a downsized new home in the New Forest.
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It is hard to believe that this little Hampshire village
was once the bustling centre of shipbuilding for the British Navy.
In fact, it was here that three of Nelson's ships, used later in the battle of Trafalgar, were built.
Find out where I am in just a moment on Escape To The Country.
In today's show I will be helping a couple make a downsized move
to the country, but they can't stop thinking big.
I'm dreaming of a bigger garden so that I can have a little rotavator going up and down.
You want a little tractor, don't you?
But will our mystery house throw the idea of downsizing out the window.
Here is your room.
Oh, it's wonderful.
This is fantastic.
Today, I am in Buckler's Hard on the River Beaulieu in Hampshire.
Back in the 18th century this really was a big shipbuilding outfit.
It was well placed, on the edge of the New Forest, and all the ships were built of oak from the forest.
You can imagine, back in the 1780s, for example, Nelson's favourite ship, the Agamemnon,
was built here - 160 ft long, space for 64 canons and 500 men.
It would have towered above these little houses.
Then came the advent of iron ships and the ship building here
died a death, but it did leave behind this beautiful little village.
A fitting starting point indeed for our adventures today on Escape To The Country.
Hampshire offers the best of both worlds with beautiful coastline
and countryside within its borders.
To the south west of the county you'll find one
of Hampshire's two national parks, the New Forest, famous for its wild ponies which roam freely over
this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which William the Conqueror declared his new hunting forest.
Running south to the coastline the Forest continues
to the attractive Georgian market town of Lymington.
A popular destination with seafaring enthusiasts.
Hampshire has a long maritime history.
With just a short hop across the Channel,
it has been a popular choice with invaders,
captured first by the Romans and falling again to the Normans.
So whether it is a forest escape or a seaside retreat,
Hampshire certainly has plenty of options to choose from.
If you want to be a Hampshire hog then you'll have to pay for the privilege because,
even with the recent dip in the market,
house prices in Hampshire are 26% above the national average
and if you want to live in the New Forest
you have to add another 15 or 20% on top of that.
So dig deep into your imaginary pockets and take a look at what's on the market.
If you've got a big budget, take a look at this fabulous
four-bedroomed Victorian farmhouse in Bockhampton for £1.4 million.
After cooking up a storm
in the country kitchen, where better to relax than in this stunning orangery.
Then there's plenty of recreational options with a barn converted to a games room and a swimming pool.
On the market at £535,000, this three-bedroom Grade II listed
cottage in Crawley is packed to the rafters with country charm
with its inglenook fireplace and exposed beams, which also flow through into the kitchen.
Outside, the mature gardens amount to a third of an acre.
But you can also get thatched for less with this three-bedroom
cottage near Ringwood priced at £389,000.
Its open fireplaces are a running theme throughout its living room and separate dining room.
All those property pearls cast before Hampshire hogs,
but will it be enough to tempt today's buyers
to leave their life in the city for a new life in the New Forest?
Anil and Shirley have lived in their six-bedroom semi-detached house
in Ilford, Essex, for the past 22 years.
Now that all four of their children have left home, these empty nesters are ready to make a move.
Prompted by Shirley's recent retirement, they are primed to make the most of their new-found freedom.
This house is really too big for as. We don't need the six bedrooms and now that we are both retired,
we don't need to travel into London for our work
so we feel it's an ideal opportunity
to move to an area where we have more outdoor life.
'We love cycling and walking.'
I am particularly looking forward to a big garden so I can do some gardening.
Tired of fast-paced city living, Anil and Shirley are planning to
get more involved in their local community.
If there's a local village hall with any clubs,
we are very keen to join things like gardening clubs and yoga.
With the rest of the family supporting their parents' move,
which area of Britain have the set their sights on?
We'd love to live in the New Forest.
It has been our dream for some time because it's an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
So are they looking to live in splendid isolation?
We don't want to be isolated, but we definitely want tranquillity.
What about their wish list for the new property?
We are looking for a detached four-bedroom house with a garage
and a large kitchen
and a large dining room because our family visit often.
We are not looking for any thatched cottage
Grade II listed building or anything like that.
We prefer something more modern for ease of maintenance.
Although retired, they are still planning to keep themselves busy.
As you can see, I'm in my study where I spend a lot of my time silver surfing
and in my new house
I'm hoping that we'll get a similar-sized study.
KNITTING MACHINE RASPS
This is my favourite room in the house.
It is where I come to get away from it all and to do my knitting
so in my next house I would like a room at least this size
to accommodate all my knitting machines.
In order to see how much they have to spend on their new home,
we asked a local estate agent to value their property.
It is a large six-bedroom house in a much sought-after location.
Houses like this
rarely come onto the market and we value this property at £750,000.
With that in mind, what is the budget
for their house in the country?
Our budget for the new property is £700,000 maximum.
A property wish list like Anil and Shirley's
is not so unusual on this show.
Beautiful house, lovely views, wraparound garden, four bedrooms...
But what will be tricky is finding that in the sparsely-populated 150 square miles that is the New Forest.
However, here on Escape To The Country,
the one thing we are good at is seeing the property wood from the trees.
Today our house hunt is focused around the New Forest
and the historic harbour town of Lymington.
We have lined up some delightful country homes
for Shirley and Anil to inspect but, as always, I'll be
getting them to take a guess at the price of each of the properties before I reveal the asking price.
And of course there's the mystery house
which is a bit of a wild card, but I'm hoping it will sweep them off their feet.
Welcome to the New Forest.
-You don't know this area so well?
-Not at all. No.
It's the first time we are visiting it.
That's amazing. What made you want to move down here?
-We like cycling so we think it's an ideal place for cycling.
Yes, it's lovely. And also walking.
Perfect and I know your house selling is progressing nicely.
So what's our budget because it is expensive down here?
We are prepared to spend up to 700.
I think that's a good budget.
You do want to downsize. You've got six bedrooms at the moment.
Yes, so we are looking for four.
You've got four children.
Are you hoping they will all come back for Christmas?
They definitely will for all occasions - Christmas, birthdays and holidays.
You've got a good budget. Let's go and look at some properties.
Our downsizers, Anil and Shirley, are hoping
their £700,000 budget will buy them a four-bedroom detached house.
In terms of house hunting, it's been a long time, hasn't it?
22 plus years since you last looked for a house.
-Are you are excited or a bit nervous?
-No, we're excited.
We're excited about starting a new chapter in our lives
and moving to a new area.
We're kicking off our house search in the village of Sway, tucked within the New Forest boundary.
It's a popular spot with a smattering of handy local shops.
On the outskirts of the village is this recently refurbished property, built in the 1930s.
Come around the corner, hidden from view, is this property.
-I love it.
-A lovely cottage.
-I love the style of it.
The owners have been here about ten years and they've done lot of work.
They've extended in all sorts of directions and really remodelled it from top to toe.
'Great. So with a positive first impression of this property, let's see what they make of the inside.'
So here we have the main sitting room.
Oh, yes. This is beautiful.
Oh, yes. Very nice.
It's warm as well.
So this is, presumably, smaller than the sitting room that you've got at the moment, is it?
It is. But then we will be looking at the totality
-of the footprint of the house.
-Remember that we're downsizing.
-That's right, yes.
-This is why I flagged it up.
Very often it's like, "Oh, it's a bit small." Because you're used to big.
We're not comparing it with what we have and what we don't have.
We're just looking at what will go with our future projected lifestyle.
'One of Shirley's many hobbies is cooking.
'The question is, will she want to put her culinary skills to work in this modern kitchen?'
What do you think about this?
It's very nice, yes. Beautiful.
-I know you like to cook.
Is this going to be enough workspace for you?
-Also you've got a separate utility room.
With an entrance so you can bring your shopping in.
-That's really a bonus.
-That's very useful.
I know that you're quite keen on having a separate dining room.
-In a smaller property like this,
that's possible, but something will have to give.
However, as you may have noticed, they do have this lovely option.
'Yes, I think I've found somewhere for the visiting family to eat.'
What do you think of this?
This is beautiful. Yes, very light and bright.
-Could you imagine using this as the dining room?
For the most part of the year,
because it's south-facing, there will be plenty of sun and warmth in here.
On the ground floor of this former bungalow, there are three good-sized bedrooms.
So it will be a question of drawing straws to see which one Shirley turns into her knitting room
and which one becomes the study for Anil to indulge in a spot of silver surfing.
There's also a modern family bathroom.
But, for me, it's on the next floor that this former bungalow comes into its own.
-This is gorgeous.
It's great, isn't it?
Along with all of the wardrobes.
-This is very relaxing.
-It's a lovely room.
-Why don't you have a look at the en suite?
Ooh. Very nice.
Are you getting your head around that it's not a family house any more?
-It's a house for two people?
We are beginning to realise that
-and, yeah, we've got to...
-Easier to maintain.
In that sense, it's very good.
Easier to maintain.
The interior seems to satisfy a lot of our couple's requirements.
So let's see if the outside can deliver.
You step out of the conservatory, or the double doors, into this very nice flagged patio area.
Let's talk about the garden. I know that's a big issue for you.
-It is, yes.
-What's your honest opinion of the size of the garden?
I think the size is a bit small for what I'm dreaming of.
A bigger garden, for a vegetable plot and a little rotavator
going up and down.
You want a little tractor, do you?
A little tractor.
Like all retired men, you want a sit-on lawnmower and tractor.
Absolutely, that's my dream. It's beautiful, though.
There is a little secret garden at the bottom.
Let's have a look, yes.
'I'm not sure the garden's quite living up to Anil's dream.
'Maybe this little hideaway will help.'
So, again, have a look in here.
This is a little sunken garden, because you are slightly overlooked in the main garden.
Yes, a nice little corner.
'And there's scope for projects aplenty in the garage.'
Look at this. I was surprised by this.
Oh, yes. This is a useful area.
Very useful, yes.
There's a huge workshop and garage space.
-You could convert it into anything. You can even convert it into more living space.
It could be Shirley's knitting room.
She needs a large room.
Let's go back into the garden and talk about the price.
You can see the house from the back much clearer, what they've done.
They've raised the ceiling there.
-What do you think it costs?
I think it's 635.
So, high up.
645? You'll be pleased to know this is on the market for 565.
-That's a good price.
-Very good price.
I wanted to show it to you because, on paper, it fits a lot of the things.
It does, yes.
-And it gives you a big chunk of change to enjoy your retirement with.
Also it's quite difficult to find properties in the forest.
They go like hot cakes.
So why don't you wander around inside
and see whether the compromises outweigh the money you save.
Then we'll take it from there.
-Off you go.
It's a great first house.
It does offer pretty much everything.
Maybe the garden, not so much. The location, perhaps.
But in terms of the property, I think it's a really good property if they really want to downsize.
And it's a bargain.
Under budget by a massive £135,000,
this property is a great low-maintenance option for them
to live out their retirement years featuring...
But how committed are they to downsizing?
I think it's a beautifully presented house.
We wouldn't have to do any work to it, just move in.
The upstairs master bedroom, with the en suite, is amazing.
I can imagine lying there and reading.
It would do for your knitting.
I could have my machine there and another machine there.
Plenty of light, as well. Yeah.
One issue that I have, personally, is the size of the property,
particularly the dining room/conservatory.
Because we have a large family and I was looking for space enough for a 10-seater table.
The garden is all right by London standards.
But not for what I'm looking for.
While the forest dominates inland Hampshire, its coastline is defined by ports.
Southampton and Portsmouth, which have played their part in generating this county's wealth.
Lymington is also a key coastal port, whose identity has endured over the centuries.
Earlier in the week, Anil And Shirley met Steve Marshall, director
of Lymington's St Barbe's Museum, to find out more about its history.
Back in medieval times, when they were looking for
a place to set up a town, they chose Lymington because of the river.
It's got a nice connection with the Solent and the sea.
And also with the Isle of Wight.
So a good place to trade from.
From the Middle Ages until the mid-19th century, Lymington was famous for producing sea salt,
which, at its peak, reputedly supplied the whole of South England and lined the pockets of many
a rich merchant, whose legacy still lives on in the town's architecture.
We're here in the middle of Lymington High Street, looking at this particular house.
It's called Bellevue House.
It was built in the 1790s.
It was home to a chap called Charles St Barbe, who opened Lymington's first bank.
But he also owned saltworks.
When you see a grand building like this,
it's a fairly safe bet that the money to build it came from making salt.
Beside Lymington's OFFICIAL industry,
more illicit operations were rife in its pubs and inns by the 18th century.
One of the ways people made most of their money in the 18th century, locally, was by smuggling.
The inn here was reputed to be a place where smugglers would meet.
Legend has it that there are tunnels running under the high street.
-From down on the quay, up to here and beyond.
Above ground, a unique surviving feature of the town is its serpentine walls, which were built
by Hanoverian soldiers in exile at the beginning of the 19th century.
Back in the Napoleonic wars, foreign troops were based here in Lymington.
They brought the building method with them.
They knew how to make walls in this way.
They're cheap on materials because they're only one brick thick.
Oh, right, I didn't realise that. Solid, is it?
It is solid, it's not going to go anywhere.
That's why they make them wavy.
The curves gives it the strength.
Lymington's position has made it an attractive draw
for a rich and varied influx of people throughout the ages.
And our second property is all about location, too.
It's tucked well inside the New Forest Park in the village of Mockbeggar.
For amenities the historic market town of Ringwood is two miles away
with an array of local pubs and independent shops.
The national park itself is quite literally on their doorstep,
as are the locals who tend to keep a healthy distance.
We won't go over the cattle grid.
That's to stop the New Forest ponies coming in.
We're right on the edge of the New Forest here.
-This is the property I want to show you.
It's a 1950s bungalow and it's been stretched out to the front and the side.
-In the last 10 years, it's doubled in size.
-It looks very spacious.
'This modernised property is a surprisingly spacious option
'which may be just the ticket for our reluctant downsizers.'
And straight ahead into...
the fabulous kitchen.
-Oh, yes. Very nice.
-This is beautiful.
-I like the island.
-Did you always want an island?
Yes, it's very useful.
Then there's a good-sized utility over there.
Is this going to work?
I think this is exactly what we were looking for.
Well, it naturally draws you through...
to this splendid room.
This is a BIG conservatory.
It's more than a conservatory.
Yes, it's amazing. I can imagine us spending a lot of time in here.
Would you make this your dining room?
We could do.
I'd like to sit here and read.
-We could do both. There's plenty of room here.
-Yes, it's a big room.
We could have a dining table and there's plenty of room.
This could be a dining room or, if you follow me...
-It's another dining room.
-Ooh, it's lovely. Ideal.
Personally, I wouldn't use it as a dining room.
It would make a nice dining room because it's next to the kitchen.
Well, there's that one as well.
We have a choice!
You could have a winter dining room and a summer dining room.
This is a nice room. This is so good that you could have this as a study or something.
Don't rush, Anil, there are plenty of other options.
The reception areas keep all unfolding.
There's a generous sitting room with wood-burning stove
for the family to gather around and three of this property's five bedrooms are on this level,
two of which could be contenders for a study or a knitting room.
There's a handy wet room, not that they would need it, as they have a suite of their very own.
This is your master bedroom.
-This is beautiful.
-This is a new extension
and a nice en suite if you want to have a poke in there.
Oh, this is nice. It's a good size.
-Enough space for you?
-Yes, plenty of space.
It's a good job there's another floor then! What are you going to do with all that space?
This is good.
Space is definitely not lacking in this house.
Upstairs there's another good-sized double bedroom and family bathroom.
Come through here. I can talk you through...
Essentially they went up into the attic space.
An excellent use of the space.
Yes, I want this room for myself.
That's what I was thinking.
I was thinking "which rooms are they going to use for what?"
I was thinking "which room could be the knitting room and which could be the study?"
It'll be the knitting room, I suspect.
She'll win. But basically I want it.
This is ideal.
'But before they decide on who's having which room,
'I want to show them the all-important garden'
which wraps around the property with space for Anil to rev up his ride-on the lawn mower
and with potential for him to establish his vegetable garden.
-There's quite a bit of land.
-Yeah, as well.
A lot of the land was lost when they extended the property.
So that was eaten up by the lovely conservatory.
-It's very quiet.
How much do you think this house is on the market for?
I think it's at the top of our budget, if not over budget.
I'd say 725.
I'd put a price on it of 695.
-Top of the budget.
Well, yet again I've some good news for you.
Because this is on the market for 675.
-Oh, that's good.
-You'd have £25,000 to get yourself a pony!
Properties in the New Forest are like hens' teeth.
They don't come up that often.
And what you're looking for with the land and everything is a desirable property
and they get snapped up there.
But this is a nice property. Without a doubt.
Have a wander around again and look inside and then I'll collect you.
Under budget at £675,000
this house is ready to move into and wouldn't be a radical downsize.
Critically, it'd also put them in the heart of some fabulous countryside and give them...
It feels a very warm and homely house and it's very quiet.
It's lovely to have so much space.
It gives us lots of options.
I like the loft conversion at the top because it's absolutely beautiful and peaceful.
My only dream still remains that I could get a slightly bigger
plot of land so I can do a bit of gardening for a vegetable plot.
Two houses down. If you want to pull the door.
But time for a little reflection.
As the sun sets over the Hampshire countryside it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
Armed with a £700,000 budget, Anil and Shirley are looking
to downsize to Hampshire where they can enjoy their retirement.
So far, they've seen two properties and although they say they're keen to downscale with this move,
I get the feeling size does actually matter.
Remember we're downsizing. This is a massive kitchen and utility complex.
So perhaps we can expand their horizons with our mystery house.
Hooray, we're all at sea. This is going to be a very exciting mystery house.
Day two and we've decided to take Anil and Shirley across the water
from the New Forest to the Isle of Wight.
Yesterday Anil was insistent what he wanted was quiet and you don't get much quieter than the island.
We're also crossing the water as the average detached property
on the Isle of Wight is a staggering £75,000 cheaper than in Hampshire.
-So I'm excited!
-Yes, it's a wonderful surprise. We haven't been here before.
What sort of house do you think we're going to show you?
It might be a lighthouse!
There's a famous lighthouse at the end, but that might be occupied!
I'm sure it'll be a house
with a certain amount of land and tranquillity
and a character of its own which befits the island.
So for our mystery house
we're heading to Totland Bay
situated on the west side of the Isle of Wight.
With breathtaking scenery and spectacular coastal walks, it's easy to see why
the poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson lived in the area for more than 40 years.
There are 21 chines or coastal gullies on the Isle of Wight
and today's mystery house is at the top of one of them - Widdick Chine.
Not only are we taking them somewhere they would never have considered
with our mystery property,
but we're also doing a U-turn on the modern style and serving up a grand period property.
Come on in.
This is a very lovely house.
-I'm looking forward to getting your reactions to this.
It looks very traditional.
It's a Victorian property from the end of Victoria's reign.
Full of character. Beautiful.
A wonderful wraparound garden which I know you're interested in.
Are you keen to get inside?
-Very much so.
-I'm keen to show you inside this one.
'And when Anil and Shirley see inside, they may leave all notions of downsizing at the front door.'
Come on in.
You don't often stop in the hall, but this is a special hall.
-Yes, it's lovely.
-One of the striking things about this property
is the number of windows. A whole wall of windows here
and a vestibule with another window looking through to the stairwell so the light comes in everywhere.
'The distinctive character windows are a running theme in our next room.'
-The sitting room.
Lots of nice windows.
Look at this fantastic bay window.
Yes. I can imagine sitting in the bay window
with a book and there's a lovely fireplace
so it's really cosy in the evenings in the winter.
'Let's hope the room across the hallway gets the thumbs up from Shirley.'
Shirley, this is one for you.
Oh, yes. Very bright.
Lovely big windows.
-And the dining area flows with these lovely quarry tiles into the kitchen.
Yes, it's very nice.
Lots of character.
A lovely range cooker.
A slightly serpentine kitchen.
There's a massive utility room through there.
And another summer room/study on the other side.
What do you think about the entertainment possibilities here?
Yes, there's room for a large table.
-For my liking I could do with a bit more space, but that's always the case.
-More space than this?
Yes, but that's always the case.
Remember we're downsizing! This is a massive kitchen and utility complex.
'Anil isn't going to let go of his table for ten without a fight.
'Maybe this next room will make him happy.'
-Ah, was that an "ooh"?
-I like the windows, double aspect.
How many rooms do you see with double-bay windows?
Is this big enough, Anil?
It's definitely big enough.
That's the litmus test, will it accommodate family and friends
more than once a year, a number of times a year?
And if that's OK then accommodation-wise, it's OK.
-This could seat 11, 12, 13, 14 people quite happily.
-This is a lovely room.
'This house has a seemingly endless wealth
'of original Victorian features
'like this turning staircase with its striking triangular bay window.
I want you to admire this beautiful bit of domestic architecture.
It's a fantastic stairwell with this triangular light well.
-You've got this lovely barrel ceiling.
There are two bathrooms, the larger of the two having shades of Victoriana.
Two of the four bedrooms on this floor are singles along with another double with a view.
Who wouldn't want to sit dreaming their days away by this stunning bay window?
Which leaves the piece de resistance, the master bedroom.
-Here's your room.
-Oh, it's wonderful.
Yeah, this is fantastic.
It's absolutely fantastic.
You've your bedroom here, your dressing room here.
-Lots of wardrobe space.
-En suite with shower.
My goodness, that's a surprise.
'This fabulous four-bedroom house certainly seems to have all they asked for.
'The only thing left is to see whether the garden can match up to the house.
'With its terraced borders, this well-established garden wraps all the way around the house.
'There's even a garage for Anil's ride-on tractor
'and as for dreams of self-sufficiency,
'I think we may have found him the perfect vegetable plot.'
And you'll never guess what this used to be, Anil.
Oh, right. I can see, I can imagine.
With a compost heap there.
It's really nice, actually. Just right.
'I think this property has it all, but do Shirley and Anil agree, and can they guess the price?'
Nice hammock, cos we're very private in this spot.
-Yes, it is.
-And we get a good view of the property.
How much do you think it's worth?
It does need a bit of work in places, so I'd say 685.
I think it's a magnificent property.
-I'll put it at 725.
-If you split the difference, you're spot-on.
It's just a shade under £700,000, so right at the top of your budget.
But of course there is space in the current market for a bit of negotiation,
because, as you say, the paintwork needs freshening up.
But I think, for what you get on the island, it's incredible.
-This would undoubtedly shade into a million pounds if it was in the New Forest.
-Why don't you have a look around, suck up the beauty,
and then I'll see you at the front for some decision-making time.
-Thank you very much.
Well, it is a magnificent property and, you know, I'd buy it!
So I'm kind of slightly prejudiced,
but there is an amount of work that needs to be doing to it
and it is on the Isle of Wight,
which, for some people, is not such a good thing, but I think for Anil and Shirley
it's actually perfect, because it's quiet and tranquil and the perfect place to retire.
Sneaking in £500 under their £700,000 budget, they certainly
get a lot for their money with our impressive Victorian mystery house.
All set on the Isle of Wight,
a location they would never have thought of,
but seem to be warming to.
I think this is a magnificent house in an excellent location,
and the rooms are large. This is just the type of place I have been
dreaming of. This is a large room.
Yeah. Lots of possibilities to use in this room.
We could extend the kitchen.
Yes. I think it's a beautiful house, absolutely stunning location.
One of the best things about the house is it's full of light.
We didn't think that there'd be such wonderful properties within our budget.
It's opened up a new world for us, coming here.
Can you resist buying this house?
-No, it's a beautiful house.
-You'll have to resist it for a bit longer until we get somewhere else to have a decision chat.
It's beautiful, though, this house.
'I grew up in Hampshire, so I'm keen to get back to my roots with a visit to the New Forest.
'Many of today's oak trees replaced those that furnished
'the shipbuilding industry which boomed in the 18th century.
'These days, the site is sustainably managed by the Forestry Commission,
'who look after more than 1.4 billion trees in Britain, producing over 40% of the UK's wood.
That's more than five million tonnes of timber.
I'm meeting forester Richard Burke, who's leading a team of woodsmen in an area known as the New Copse.
So this was planted as farmed oak?
Yeah, this is a big tree farm, really.
It was planted in 1860, something like that, as an oak plantation.
We're trying to get long drawn-up,
straight, clean stems of timber, that sort of maximises the value.
We've got some beech that have grown up amongst it, and we're trying to break up the beech
and the canopies, to try and get more light on to the forest floor.
'The trees are thinned and felled in cycles to help maintain the health of the forest.'
-What are we doing here?
-Right, we're going to try and favour this tree by removing that tree there.
-So this is the oak?
-Yeah, this is the oak that we're after,
and we're trying to give that as much room to grow and develop as we can.
'To be honest, I've got rather mixed feelings about watching this beech being felled.'
-It's almost quite sad.
-It is, isn't it?
-But essentially it's breathing new life into this guy here.
-I know, I totally see that.
Like I say, they're grown there to do that
and produce some wood. That'll get used now
and made into something useful, or provide heat for someone. So, yeah.
'But as well as cutting down and clearing trees, the Forestry Commission are also responsible
'for planting more than 17 million new trees every year.'
-So when were these planted?
-These were planted this time last year,
so they've been in about a year.
It shows how slowly they grow. It'll be 150 years before we get that log again?
Yeah, there's 2,500 trees per hectare planted in this area, and not all of them will make it.
We'll only need about 200 trees per hectare.
So what we'll have here in 150 years' time are the best examples of these trees.
The ones in between will have been taken out in the meantime as firewood and fence posts and planks, etc.
So in 2160,
this tree will be a big tree?
Yeah. I'm sure I won't be here then.
No, I don't think either of us will, even if we try hard.
It's interesting to see how much a seemingly natural landscape like the New Forest
needs managed conservation in order to flourish for generations to come.
Anil and Shirley have definitely chartered new territory
on their house search, and it's given them many options to consider.
It looks like our Isle of Wight wild card really paid off, because
I think this would be the perfect island retreat for Anil and Shirley to spend their twilight years.
But let's find out whether that's true.
So thinking back to the first house we looked at at Sway, what are your thoughts about that now?
It was very beautifully presented, no work to do on it, we could just move in.
It's very convenient for the village and for the forest.
The only drawback, from my point of view,
was the conservatory was a bit small and overlooked on one side.
So the second house was much bigger.
-It had a lovely big kitchen and conservatory.
-That's right, yes.
-What are your thoughts about that?
It had a very homely feel, very welcoming.
I could see myself living there.
All the rooms were a good size.
I liked the flow of the house, the way the kitchen led into the conservatory.
There was a lovely farmhouse kitchen with an island and a wonderful large cooker.
The garden was fairly large.
I mean, I could've done with a bit more ground
for a vegetable patch.
Again, we must balance that against the beautiful views
in front of the house.
It was a good property.
The upstairs, as well, had very large and light rooms.
-Lovely loft conversion, wasn't it?
-It's almost there.
Was there any downsides for you, Shirley?
Well, the house was so nice that going round, we didn't notice that
it didn't have a garage, and we thought about that afterwards.
That's one of the things that we wanted.
The mystery house, we came to the Isle of Wight,
and that was a whole new mystery in itself,
and then I showed you a period property, which you hadn't asked for.
So what were your thoughts about that lovely house?
What a stunner it was. And the location, absolutely...
We have not seen anything like it.
It has got spacious accommodation, large bedrooms.
-What about you, Shirley?
-Erm, it was all the things that we didn't want,
a very large, substantial house when we're supposed to be downsizing.
But I absolutely fell in love with it.
Large rooms, high ceilings, which is what we're used to, and full of light.
Ostensibly, you did want to downsize, but, as we looked around,
it seemed to me that actually you weren't so fussed about the downsizing, actually!
You wanted a big garden, a big kitchen, a big dining room, space for 12 people to come and stay.
Do you think now that actually you wouldn't call what you're doing downsizing?
I think it wouldn't be downsizing so much as moving to a quiet location.
I realise that it's not, strictly speaking, a downsizing exercise, because, had that been the case,
property number one was most appropriate for it.
Is there any one of these that you would proceed on?
Yes, the Isle of Wight. The house was much bigger, the garden was bigger.
We would like to contact
the estate agent and take this matter further,
because we are very keen that, if properties of this ilk
-are available, then the chances are that we will be moving to this part of the country.
I'm so pleased because I, for one, am glad
that you're not downsizing, because I think, why downsize when you don't have to?
And I'm really pleased that we were able to help you make some decisions in that direction.
Yes, you've helped us a lot.
Thank you very much to you and to the team.
I hope that we'll visit you on the island!
-Definitely! Yes, you must come to our housewarming.
-Most welcome, yes. Definitely.
So despite the obvious beauties of the New Forest,
it seems like expensive house prices may have driven Anil and Shirley over the water to the Isle of Wight,
which I think is actually a very beautiful place to play out your retirement years.
So I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Escape To The Country, and do join us for more next time.
If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,
Northern Ireland or England and need our help, please apply online.
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Alistair Appleton is in Hampshire, helping a couple with a budget of 700,000 pounds seek out a new home in the New Forest. Retired with their children having flown the nest, today's buyers are looking to downsize, but nothing we show them seems quite big enough. So will the super-sized Victorian Mystery House fit the bill?