Herefordshire Escape to the Country


Herefordshire

Nicki Chapman is in Herefordshire, shopping with a couple who dream of owning a period black-and-white cottage with bags of curb appeal and a decent-sized garden.


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Transcript


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On a tour of the British Isles, Daniel Defoe described today's county as having the finest wool,

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the richest cider, and - that staple of British ale - the best hops in all of Britain.

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And today, that tradition continues and this is the main hop-growing region in the whole of England.

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So stick with us as we serve up another bumper crop of properties on today's Escape to the Country.

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Today, our couple are swapping life in suburbia for a character property in the country.

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It's exactly what you were kind of picturing. Yes, it is. Yes, spot on.

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I like the corner window! Yeah, it's lovely!

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Can we just buy it now?!

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THEY LAUGH

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And they're both keen on a period property, so what will they think of our new-build mystery house?

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This is stunning.

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I'm in rural Herefordshire. Hops have been grown here since the 1500s,

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and this is the key ingredient that separates a pint of British bitter

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from our smooth Continental neighbours' lager.

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Now traditional hop varieties like Goldings and Fuggles are prized

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for the fruity aromas and bitterness they impart on the nation's favourite drink.

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Situated in the southwest corner of the West Midlands bordering Wales,

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Herefordshire has over 5,000 farms,

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making it an agricultural stronghold which is not such a surprise

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when you consider it's one of the least populated counties in England.

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Herefordshire boasts 3,000 orchards, more than any other county in the UK.

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Apples have been cultivated here since pre-Roman times

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and the cider industry has blossomed since the 16th century.

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Hereford cattle are a characteristic feature of this county,

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as are the 65 square miles of outstanding natural beauty that make up the Malvern Hills.

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In the city of Hereford,

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the cathedral sits proudly alongside the 12th-century Bishop's Palace

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and this 17th century black and white house which is simply known as the Old House,

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just a taste of the character properties mirrored in this county's villages.

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But what are today's buyers actually after? It's time to find out.

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Lee, an IT manager, and his wife Heidi live in a modern four-bedroom home near Reading.

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With their three children all at university, Heidi is longing to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

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Well, I've always wanted to move to the countryside ever since the children were tiny.

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Always fancied some views,

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just fancied the country-style living really.

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And Herefordshire is the practical choice for their country dream.

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Herefordshire really brings me a little bit closer to my customers

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who are in the Midlands. And also they have some beautiful character houses there.

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No prizes for guessing the style of house that they're looking for, then.

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Yes, would be a black and white little cottage with land all the way around.

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A cottage with kerb appeal it is, so let's get into the details.

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What we want from the next property would be three/four bedrooms,

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a large kitchen, preferably one we can put a table in.

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One of the must haves would be a large garden - half an acre would be great.

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I do tend to be the only gardener so it would only be me tending it, so I don't want anything unmanageable.

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I do a bit. Yes, you do a bit.

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Anything else on the list then?

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We need somewhere for both of us to work,

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for me working at home and you for your business and your embroidery.

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OK, so an office for two as well, but how far into the countryside will this cottage be?

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For me, you can't get too rural because I still need reasonable speed broadband, 1.5 meg,

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to make sure I can still work. And mobile phone connection. Signal.

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With their house on the market and receiving interest, they need to find a property soon. What's the budget?

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If the house ticks all the boxes, we could pay ?350,000.

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Now their children are flying the nest,

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Lee and Heidi can concentrate purely on themselves for this move,

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but the one thing they're very clear on is they want plenty of character.

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But black and whites aren't known for their ample interiors,

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especially those in the ?350,000 price bracket.

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So that much-longed-for period cottage, well, it may be more of a dream than a reality.

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Lee and Heidi are particularly keen on an area near the Malvern Hills

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so we'll be focusing our search in the east of the county.

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We have a variety of properties to show them, and at each one,

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I'll ask them to guess the price before I reveal it..

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And then there's the mystery house - a property chosen to challenge their idea of a dream home in the country.

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Lee and Heidi, welcome to Herefordshire. Thank you.

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This is an important move for you both because your children have flown the nest.

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I know some come back occasionally. Yes, part-time children just now.

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It's a place for us really that we are now looking for, aren't we?

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Now budget wise, top end of your budget still ?350,000?

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Yes, find us the perfect house - ?350,000. Yes, that would be great.

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Do you think you're realistic about what that's going to buy you?

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Maybe some compromises need to be made. Some flexibility.

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What might go?

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We did specify three/four bedrooms - if we find somewhere with three

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with a space somewhere we could make into an occasional bedroom,

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when our son comes home from university, that would be fine.

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Because ?350,000 is a good budget

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but we have quite a few demands to go with it, including the two offices,

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but let's see what we can come up with.

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We've got some great properties lined up for you today, one of which of course is our mystery house.

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So are you both ready to hit the road? Absolutely. Come on then.

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For a top budget of ?350,000, Lee and Heidi are looking for

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a three to four bedroom character property in a rural location.

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They'd like a large kitchen and about half an acre for a vegetable patch.

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Crucial to the move is a work space for both of them.

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11 miles from Hereford, our first property is in the village of Pencombe.

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The Norman-style church sits high amongst the village cottages

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and provides a great vantage point across the surrounding countryside.

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There is a local pub, so Lee and Heidi can meet some of the 350 locals.

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And our first offering is, as requested, a black and white.

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How is this for your first cottage?

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It looks very nice, it looks lovely.

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Yes, really pretty. It's exactly what you were picturing, I think.

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Yes, it is. Yes, spot on. Ready to go in? Definitely. Come on then!

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It's hard not to be impressed with the character.

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It's grade two listed but technology has found its way into the house

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in the form of that all-important broadband.

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So come on through. I'm going to bring you straight into...

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It's currently being used as an office.

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I know how important offices are for you two.

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I like the corner window. Yes, the corner window's lovely.

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That is extremely rare. That is a cantilever window

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and it looks from the outside like the window is taking the whole weight of the side of the house.

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It gives you all that natural light, and you've got a real fire there.

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Wow, yes. Could this be the perfect office for you, Lee?

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Oh, absolutely. Very nice. A very good start.

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I'm going to lead us through into the family room.

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So as you can see, much larger proportions.

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Lovely sized room, isn't it?

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Originally this house was a tavern, called the Huntsman's Tavern.

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Oh, really? So this is where the bar would have been.

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I can have another bar in. You could if you wanted to, yes.

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Stepping back in time. Look at those beams. Lovely.

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Well, let's go through into the kitchen.

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So down steps to this very long galley kitchen.

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So how is this, not the conventional kitchen?

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No. But still plenty of work space. Loads of worktop space actually.

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I love this area here. Yes, more than you've got.

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More than I have currently actually.

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But it is important you have somewhere to dine,

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so if we just go through the kitchen, this might be the solution.

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This would have been the original cellar of the tavern,

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but the owners have transformed it into a dining room.

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It's a little dining area. Quite compact, but isn't it lovely?

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It is. Very cosy little area. Yes, all good so far.

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Let's head upstairs.

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There's also a bathroom on this level and upstairs there are three bedrooms to choose from.

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Straight into the master bedroom, This is big.

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It is so much bigger than I was expecting.

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I love these beams, gorgeous room.

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This is stunning. This would be right. This is right.

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And we still haven't shown you everything.

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Come on.

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Next door to the master is another inviting guest bedroom and there's also a cosy single on this level.

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But outside in the garden, I have a surprise for Lee and Heidi.

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The question is, who will make the most out of the space?

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So in addition to the house, you've got your own summerhouse, which we think would make the perfect office.

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Yes, I like this. Yes.

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I thought you might. His or hers?

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You could do your embroidery in here. I could.

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Or it could even be used as an extra put up bedroom, all sorts of things.

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Heidi seems to be enthralled by the property,

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but it doesn't stop here, we've still got to explore the garden.

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It's about a third of an acre.

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It's a good size garden, lovely space isn't it? Lovely garden.

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It is, yes. I am thinking, can we just buy it now?

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And we haven't even discussed the price.

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I know! A brilliant start.

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How much is this beautiful cottage on the market for? You can go first.

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Erm...

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I would say 345?

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OK. Lee?

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I was thinking less than that when we first came in,

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quite a lot less I thought when we first saw the first room.

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Maybe 340?

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The top of your budget is ?350,000.

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It is. Right, OK.

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You wouldn't get any change, the asking price is 350.

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You were closest then. OK, yes.

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I win.

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Well, quite a result.

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Topping their budget at ?350,000, this property has three bedrooms

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and a living room with a feature fireplace.

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There's a study for Lee, and annexe for Heidi,

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and a large garden.

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This one is going to be tough to beat.

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The stakes are high after seeing this. Yes, indeed.

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Herefordshire may be known for orchards and cider but hops, a key ingredient in the production of beer

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that grows in the form of a flower, has also been an agricultural mainstay throughout the centuries.

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In the 1800s, the county had more acreage devoted to hop growing than any other shire in England.

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The recent resurgence in the popularity of real ale helped to buoy up this 500-year-old business.

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Martin Powell-Tuck's family have been growing hops for generations,

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so I've headed a few miles north of Ledbury,

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one of the classic hop growing regions, to help him harvest this year's crop.

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Martin, Explain to me what they're doing.

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Tractors and trailers are cutting and pulling the vines ready to go to the hop-picking machine.

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The forward momentum of the tractor is what causes the vines to come off the top.

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With a window of only one month to harvest the hops, the work needs to be done quickly and efficiently,

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and that means a little help from some heavy machinery.

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It looks like a vegetarian butcher's to me, what exactly are they doing?

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Those are going through pluckers,

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which basically strips the hops and leaves off the vines.

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The rest of the machine is just concentrated with separating the hops from the leaves and stalks.

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Inside the ultramodern kiln where the hops dry out, it's easy to see how successful the end result is.

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So how can you tell if this is a good Herefordshire hop?

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The important thing about these hops is their aroma for the brewing,

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and what he would do is rub those hops like that.

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Be careful you don't sneeze because it is a bit powdery.

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Wow, I can smell it from here.

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And that's considered ripe for brewing.

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At one time, more than 70,000 acres were given over to hop growing in England,

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now just 5,000 acres are utilised nationally.

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Herefordshire looks set to continue hop farming for years to come.

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Our next property is two miles from

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the rural village of Burley Gate near the Malvern Hills.

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Horses graze in the paddocks that surround the black and white cottages.

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There's a local post office here but just 15 minutes away,

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Lee and Heidi can pick up supplies from the market town of Bromyard.

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With festivals held here throughout the year, this may be a good location

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for Heidi to sell her embroidery.

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And once again, we found a property with bags of character.

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Well, you both fell in love with the first property,

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hopefully our second one is equally going to hit the spot.

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So here is your grade two listed farmhouse.

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Yes. Right. It looks delightful, doesn't it?

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It does, and it looks like it goes all the way round with the garden.

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And it has a gravel driveway. I've always fancied a gravel driveway.

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But going back to the actual property, standing here,

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it is so quiet, Heidi,

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is this your dream of living in the country? Absolutely. So peaceful,

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absolutely no traffic at all, no road noise.

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Fantastic, something we just dream about really.

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Let's hope you dream about the inside of the house as well. Come on. OK.

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Clearly the grounds are appealing to Heidi, let's hope the features inside meet the same reaction.

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Let the second tour commence, come on in. Thank you.

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It's quite an unusual layout, you've obviously got the hallway,

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but they've utilised the space and made it into a dining area as well.

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A quite clever use, I think.

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Yes, it's a nice little area. Let's keep going.

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So here would be your sitting room.

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OK. It's very cosy, isn't it? It is, isn't it?

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Very cosy, nice fireplace.

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You always wanted an open fireplace. They've actually restored it

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and they've opened it up, put it back to its former glory.

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You've got Welsh stone surround and the original flagstones at the bottom. Very nice.

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Office space is important, and there's an extra room just off here.

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At the moment, it's a children's playroom but could make a very good size office.

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A very good size office. It's about the size you've got now.

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Probably slightly bigger actually, slightly wider.

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For you or for me? For you. For me? Yes, your space.

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I noticed that - for you. How good was I?! Very kind, thank you.

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I'm not hearing the same excited tones that I heard in the first house from Heidi.

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Maybe the modern kitchen will turn things around.

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So down the hallway leads into...

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a brand-new Shaker-style kitchen. Gosh.

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Very nice, very nice units, aren't they? They are.

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There's some space for a small table there. Yes, thinking breakfast?

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And you have access to the garden.

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But first, I want to take you upstairs.

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The family bathroom is also on the ground floor and, once again, we have three bedrooms on the next level.

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This is the master.

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Very twee, isn't it? It is, isn't it?

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You've lost a little bit of the room but you have gained an en suite.

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I think that's a good compromise.

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Definitely a useful addition. It is, yes.

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From outside, I thought this property looked quite big.

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But inside, it's a little bit more compact. It is. Yes.

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But it does have the added bonus of more land.

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Right. Time to head outside.

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The other two rooms up here include a good-sized double and a small single,

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but it's on the outside that this property comes into its own.

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So you've got about three-quarters of an acre of plot

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surrounded by sheep in the fields,

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so a substantial garden. Yes. It is. Looking around,

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you've got the greenhouse, sheds, lots of little buildings.

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With permission, you could have a summer chalet out here

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if this was the right house for you. But beautiful gardens.

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It is wonderful, couldn't ask for more in the garden aspect.

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Well, it does come to the time where you've got to guess the price.

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Slightly smaller house, bit more land - tough one.

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This face isn't giving anything away. Oh, please! I don't know, 330?

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OK. Heidi?

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I would say a fraction under that, maybe 325?

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Both of you are actually quite a bit out. Are we?

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Really? ?350,000. Oh, really?

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Gosh. OK.

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Yes, that's a surprise.

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A lot of work has been done on the property inside and also you're paying for this location.

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I'd say their expectations versus the realities

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of what their budget can achieve are starting to hit home for our buyers.

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For ?350,000, this is a stunning property. Inside it offers

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three bedrooms, a modern, fitted kitchen and two living rooms.

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Outside, there's three quarters of an acre,

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more than they'd asked for.

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But the dimensions inside might be the problem.

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It's been a pretty good day, hasn't it? It has. Very enjoyable.

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You two have got a lot to think about now, haven't you? You can relax until tomorrow! OK.

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As the sun slips from view after their first day of house hunting,

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Lee and Heidi are weighing up all they've seen so far.

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It's the second day of our property search,

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and we're heading to the rural village of Longtown.

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14 miles from Hereford, this is the furthest west we've been so far.

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Given the name of Longtown because the original settlement was strung out on the road connecting two towns,

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this village has a splendid example of a Norman motte and bailey castle

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boasting glorious views across the countryside.

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Once again, our offering has plenty of character but being a new build,

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I'm interested to hear what Heidi makes of it.

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So we've travelled west of the county and I know you both love lots of character, quirky houses.

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Well, our mystery house certainly has that.

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I really like the stone front. It does look lovely, doesn't it?

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I would say it looks a new build but built in a traditional way.

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Heidi, you're practically there.

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This is why it's a mystery house because the stone is all reclaimed, all over 100 years old.

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But you have all the mod cons, all the comforts of a modern house.

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So it's a good balance there. It is!

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So are you ready to step inside? Absolutely.

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Inside, we are met by the first of two reception rooms.

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So, step inside.

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Gosh, wow. Not what you were expecting? Not at all.

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This is stunning.

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Isn't this amazing? Amazing, yes. Got a wood burner as well.

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Now that's a multi-fuel wood burner.

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I don't know if you can see, it's actually dual aspect. Yes, amazing.

0:21:470:21:51

Now, Lee, I like you to be happy as well.

0:21:510:21:54

Unlike the other house, you have your own office here so we don't have to cram you in any other room.

0:21:540:21:59

It's quite snug but fully functional and I think that could be perfect.

0:21:590:22:04

It does look very good. Exactly. Let's continue the tour.

0:22:040:22:08

So we have a large modern country kitchen.

0:22:100:22:14

It's lovely, absolutely super. And the table. And the table.

0:22:140:22:18

Gosh, it's more than I can imagine really. It's fantastic.

0:22:180:22:23

In addition to this, there's a very large utility room behind this door,

0:22:230:22:27

again handy if you want to the white goods out there.

0:22:270:22:31

Yes, definitely.

0:22:310:22:32

Well, I think we're getting good vibes, aren't we? Yes, definitely, very good vibes. Yes? Yes.

0:22:320:22:38

So, as well as the front reception room, you have this.

0:22:400:22:45

Very cosy, isn't it? It is.

0:22:450:22:47

Like you say, the dual aspect fire. Yeah. Come through here.

0:22:470:22:50

So you've got three reception rooms in total with this house.

0:22:520:22:57

This is lovely, it's very light. It is, isn't it?

0:22:570:23:00

Now, Lee, you're considering this as your office, aren't you, because you currently use your conservatory? Yes.

0:23:000:23:06

Could you work in here? I could work in here quite easily.

0:23:060:23:09

Unless you've got somewhere hidden for her.

0:23:090:23:13

The layout, it does give you choices. It certainly does, very flexible.

0:23:130:23:19

Gosh. I like that, gosh and wow, I've heard quite a few of those.

0:23:190:23:23

Let's head upstairs. OK.

0:23:230:23:25

All the reception rooms are a good size and there's a downstairs cloakroom.

0:23:270:23:32

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, one more than both the other properties -

0:23:320:23:36

I like to start off with the master bedroom.

0:23:360:23:39

It's very nice. Oh.

0:23:390:23:42

And! The en suite. We've never had an en suite. Have you not?

0:23:420:23:46

No. No, what a bonus.

0:23:460:23:48

On the rest of the floor, the other three double bedrooms are all large and tastefully decorated,

0:23:480:23:54

and there's also a family bathroom up here.

0:23:540:23:57

But there is a compromise, the garden.

0:23:570:24:00

So here is your garden.

0:24:020:24:05

Now it's not the biggest garden but it does have the most tremendous views. Yes, it does.

0:24:050:24:12

Stunning views. Lovely, lovely views. Yes.

0:24:120:24:15

It's still larger than the one we have. Yes, that's true.

0:24:150:24:18

And the broadband connection here is very good, which you can't often say in the country.

0:24:180:24:23

I know that was a major... Yes, that was a big test. It's fantastic really.

0:24:230:24:28

Time to guess the price. The scary bit.

0:24:280:24:31

OK, you first then.

0:24:310:24:33

OK, well, I think it's got to be the top end, 350?

0:24:330:24:37

I would say 340?

0:24:370:24:39

You're actually the closest. Yes?

0:24:390:24:41

It is on the market for ?335,000.

0:24:410:24:45

Gosh. Wow. That's 15,000 under your top budget.

0:24:450:24:50

Well, it's very good news. Absolutely. I'm so pleased.

0:24:520:24:55

I thought the first house was a fantastic find.

0:24:550:25:00

A great result for the mystery house, and well under budget at ?335,000.

0:25:020:25:08

There are four bedrooms, three reception rooms

0:25:080:25:11

a study for Lee and a large kitchen.

0:25:110:25:15

Outside, the garden may not be huge, but the views

0:25:150:25:18

are breathtaking.

0:25:180:25:19

Well, it's been a successful house hunt here in Herefordshire

0:25:260:25:31

with two out of the three properties hitting the mark for Lee and Heidi,

0:25:310:25:35

but what is their next step going to be? Let's find out.

0:25:350:25:40

We started off with a black and white Herefordshire period property,

0:25:430:25:48

Tell me what you thought about it.

0:25:480:25:50

We really, really liked that house, didn't we? Oodles of character,

0:25:500:25:55

really quite quirky. Yes, the living room was nice and big with the fire.

0:25:550:26:00

Yes, fantastic kitchen. Loved the garden, loved its terraces.

0:26:000:26:05

Well, it was a very positive start. It was. Gave us loads of energy.

0:26:050:26:10

Now the second one, very different, it was a farmhouse

0:26:100:26:15

set in an ample amount of land and in quite a rural location.

0:26:150:26:18

You were quite taken with that as we walked up the drive?

0:26:180:26:21

Yes, a beautiful location.

0:26:210:26:24

We were quite excited the fact that it had a nice driveway.

0:26:240:26:29

Yes, and obviously lots of land. It was a bit too compact, especially

0:26:290:26:34

when we have people round. Yes, I think we'd struggle on space really.

0:26:340:26:37

And then our third property, well, the mystery house.

0:26:370:26:41

What a surprise that was.

0:26:410:26:43

That house seemed to have the best of both worlds.

0:26:430:26:47

I think it did actually, the stone gave it a lot of character,

0:26:470:26:51

yet inside, it was really quite contemporary, which is what you tend to... Lean towards.

0:26:510:26:57

But it was quite stunning as you step in and you had that fire...

0:26:570:27:01

for the living room and the dining room, that was quite a feature.

0:27:010:27:05

It really made it look very impressive. It was.

0:27:050:27:09

New kitchen. And large, it has a table in it.

0:27:090:27:13

So after hearing all of that, what is your next step going to be?

0:27:130:27:18

I think we'd like to start making some enquiries about

0:27:180:27:21

probably number three property.

0:27:210:27:23

I think we'd like to have a look at that one again.

0:27:230:27:28

It was... Yes. Definitely try and take that forward if we can.

0:27:280:27:32

Delighted we've been able to play a part in that. Thank you very much to you and your team. It's been great.

0:27:320:27:38

Yes, really good. Well, we've enjoyed it just as much. All the best, thank you.

0:27:380:27:43

Well, the mystery property has done it again.

0:27:470:27:51

Lee and Heidi went into this search looking for plenty of character

0:27:510:27:55

and they found it where they least expected it, in a very modern mystery house.

0:27:550:28:01

So as soon as they've managed to sell their property in Reading,

0:28:010:28:06

they'll be hurrying to Herefordshire and escaping to the country.

0:28:060:28:10

Join us again next time.

0:28:100:28:12

If you would like to escape to the country in England,

0:28:140:28:19

Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland or even further afield to the continent,

0:28:190:28:22

and need our help, please apply online at...

0:28:220:28:24

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:330:28:36

Nicki Chapman is in Herefordshire, property-shopping with a couple who dream of owning a period black-and-white cottage with bags of curb appeal. They have a budget of £350,000 and are seeking a house with at least three bedrooms, space for two offices and a decent-sized country cottage garden.

Nicki also finds time to help bring in the hop harvest.


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