Northumberland Escape to the Country


Northumberland

Nicki Chapman is in Northumberland National Park in search of a property for a farmer's daughter with a budget of £450,000.


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Transcript


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I'm in a county famed for its wild beaches and majestic castles.

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As you can see, nowhere else do they sit together quite so magically as the scene here.

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Which corner of the country am I in?

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Join me in a moment to find out.

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Today, we're helping a farmer's daughter and her partner find a country escape.

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You're looking longingly at those sheep!

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I was just hoping that that paddock was an added bonus.

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Even though we show them some great country homes, this house-hunt is all about acreage.

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Well, I think the most negative part of this property is the land.

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But we turn a negative into a positive.

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-Was there a little smile there?

-Yes. Yeah, that's really good. It is really good, a big plus.

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Today I'm in Northumberland

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and this is magnificent Bamburgh Castle.

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There's been a fortification on this site since at least 547AD,

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and the ground here has borne witness to Saxon kings, Viking raiders, Norman lords,

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and countless battles over the past 2,000 years.

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And looking at the surrounding countryside, it's little wonder that the castle's residents

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have fought so hard to keep it just the way it is.

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From rolling pastures to castles presiding over craggy windswept coastlines,

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Northumberland is the most northern English county and is the gateway to Scotland.

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Today it's peaceful, but Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England,

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testament to a bloody history.

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From Bamburgh to the likes of Alnwick Castle,

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this often fought-over land has a rich and colourful background.

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But there's much more to Northumberland than ancient border skirmishes.

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It's one of England's largest counties with 405 square miles of national park to explore.

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But for those that live here the stone-built houses are akin to their Scottish neighbours.

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Sandstone is the characteristic building material,

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historically used in everything, from the grandest wind-worn castles to the most modest farmhouses.

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No doubt about it! Stunning scenery, unspoilt beaches, a national park,

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and it's very own World Heritage Site in Hadrian's Wall,

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Northumberland has plenty going for it.

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So it may then be a surprise to learn that with an average detached home here

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costing £250,000,

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it's slightly cheaper than the national average at 258.

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So, if being tucked away in this secluded corner of the country appeals,

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here's a selection of what's on the market right now.

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At just under £1.3 million,

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this imposing seven-bedroom Edwardian house in Riding Mill

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should satisfy both the snooker-playing country gent

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and those that like a spacious kitchen.

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There are options aplenty with huge bedrooms, large reception rooms

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and a sunny terrace for your summer soirees. This is country life at its best.

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Set peacefully in the middle of landscaped private gardens,

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this five-bedroom property is on the market for £695,000,

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and has been updated to make the most of the generous interior.

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With a fresh modern take on the dual-aspect kitchen-diner,

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the property comes with good-sized living rooms and bedrooms,

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and outside there's a lawned mature garden.

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For those that like something a little less imposing,

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this £350,000 barn conversion has an open-plan kitchen-diner,

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with exposed beams showing off the full height of the ceiling.

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The feature fireplace sets off the living room and the four bedrooms are finished off beautifully.

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Stunning Northumberland is a county we don't get to visit as much as I'd like,

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so it's a real pleasure to be here this week.

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Let's meet the couple who have brought us to this glorious corner of the country.

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This week, we're helping ex-dairy farmer Linda and her partner John, who's on a year-long career break.

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They met 18 months ago at a food fair and are currently living in John's two-bedroom flat

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in this converted school in Yorkshire.

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I'm a farmer's daughter.

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I've been in farming all my life. I really miss it.

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I miss the outdoor life, the space, my animals, my dogs...

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Whilst moving in with John has changed my life completely...

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but living in the apartment is just too restricting.

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But with so many areas of beautiful countryside to choose from,

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what attracts Linda and John to Northumberland?

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Just such a beautiful area, and Linda, when I took her up there, just fell in love with the place.

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But family ties can be a stumbling block, and with four children between them living in Ripon,

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they don't want to be too remote for when the family come to stay.

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It will be a wrench,

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but, after all, Northumberland's only and hour and a half up the motorway, so it's not the end of the earth,

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and if we could find the ideal property,

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then it would be a good opportunity for them all to come up and spend time with us in the holiday season.

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So they certainly need space

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to cater for the extended family when they visit, but are there any other must-haves?

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What we want is a reasonable-sized house with three bedrooms, good-sized kitchen

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and decent living area.

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That seems reasonable, but do they need any land?

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Four or five acres would be a nice amount for the few cattle that I would like.

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I have bred my cattle up to a pretty good standard in the past,

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and I was well-respected within the farming industry.

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So grazing space for the cattle is a must, but it doesn't stop there!

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Reasonable location, close to the beach if possible, and close to road links.

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Linda and John are cash buyers and will be hanging on to the apartment in Yorkshire,

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but that still leaves us with one question... how much do they have to spend?

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If we find our ideal home, our maximum budget would be £450,000.

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Having been together for 18 months, John and Linda are starting an exciting new chapter in their lives.

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Hopefully, we'll be able to help them realise it.

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They dream of a detached property with three bedrooms, a large kitchen, plenty of living space,

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and a good-sized garden, all within ten miles of the sea.

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The reality is with Linda's longing for land for her cattle,

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for their budget of £450,000, something might have to give.

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Will we be successful in keeping man, woman and beasts happy? Let's find out.

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We'll be focusing our search between Alnwick in the north

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down to Newcastle, hugging the coastline as much as we can

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for their walks on the beach.

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We've got some fantastic properties for John and Linda's consideration,

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but I'll be keeping tight-lipped about the prices, and then we have the mystery house...

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a property that promises to challenge their idea of a dream home in the country,

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but will certainly give them food for thought.

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Well, John and Linda, welcome to Northumberland.

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You must be both very excited because this is the first property you've bought together.

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-Yeah, we are very excited.

-Yeah, very excited, just looking forward to seeing what you've got for us...

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and taking it from there.

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-Now, apart from John, I know you love your cattle...

-Yes.

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So...the balance is, house for you two or land for the beasts...

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which one's going to win, do you think, the battle?

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Er...well, I think it'll be really hard not to have one without the other,

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but if the house is right and there was an option to rent or something that was close by,

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then we would certainly look at something like that.

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And your budget, still £450,000?

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-Yep.

-Yeah.

-OK, then. Right, well, I think we should get started, we've got a lot to see.

-Great!

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Thank you.

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So for a top budget of £450,000, Linda and John want a detached property with at least...

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..for entertaining...

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..so Linda can have a few head of cattle.

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..for John to Newcastle for work,

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..for those leisurely walks on the beach.

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We're starting our search a few miles from the village of Mitford.

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Just a 30-minute drive from Newcastle and the beach,

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it's the perfect location for John and Linda.

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Mitford itself is home to just 500 people and has plenty of period charm.

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Linda and John can enjoy a quiet meal in the local pub when they need a break from feeding the livestock.

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And, in keeping with the farming theme, our first property is in the farming belt,

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just four miles outside the village.

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-Here's your first property.

-Yeah.

-Obviously a barn conversion.

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Looks very nice.

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Not sure whether it's going to be dark in there...small windows...

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-but we shall see what's inside.

-It was actually converted in 2004...

-Right.

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..By the local farmer and there's eight buildings in total, and they've all been converted.

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-Yeah.

-So it's relatively new.

-Very pleasant round here, very pleasant.

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-Very secluded, I like it.

-Yeah.

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Although John seems keen, I'm not sure about Linda,

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but I'll be disappointed if the inside fails to impress.

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So come on through into the hallway. You've got flagstones, storage and a downstairs cloakroom.

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But I want to lead you straight into the kitchen.

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-What do you think?

-Er...a bit smaller than I was expecting, to be honest.

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Because of the entertaining we do, we do need a reasonable-sized kitchen. It's nicely fitted.

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They're obviously very good units. It has potential, but, you know...

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you can work around things.

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This is a large kitchen, so I'm a little surprised at Linda's reaction.

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Maybe she'll be more impressed with the living space.

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-Here's your sitting room.

-Oh, this is lovely.

-This is nice.

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-Yes...

-I do like this.

-I like the open aspect again at the top, which...

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when you look from the outside, it looked as we were probably going to have the eaves factor,

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-but this is very nice.

-I like the fact that there's more windows on this side as well,

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-because it lets a lot more light in.

-And we're not seeing it on a particularly bright day.

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I was going to say... and it's dark outside, exactly. So, yeah, I like it.

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Off the sitting room is a small and compact study,

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and next to that is this modern flagstoned bathroom,

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but we're heading off to see where the family will stay when they come to visit.

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This is the first of the three bedrooms and it's actually an en-suite,

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-but it's not the master, you'll be pleased to know.

-No.

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It's very small for the master,

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which makes me feel... why have an en-suite for what is virtually a single bedroom?

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No, I think it's all right, actually.

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I think it's got potential, I think you could do things with it.

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-So, John, you sound sold on this, but, Linda, 50-50?

-No...

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I just feel this is a single bedroom,

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and other than bunk beds I couldn't see... I think you're going to struggle with a double in here.

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I thought the space here would be ample for occasional guests,

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but there is another small double next door,

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and the master suite at the end of the hallway is sure to impress.

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So here's the third and largest bedroom. This is the master.

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-This is a better size.

-Yeah, much better.

-And you've got the shower room next door as well, an en-suite.

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-Yes.

-Excellent.

-That's nice.

-Yeah. It's pleasant, it's quiet.

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-Nice aspect out the windows.

-And the most important thing is that you're both happy.

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-You're going to be here all the time, your guests will come and go.

-That's right.

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-No, this is a really nice room. I like this room.

-So we've seen the property...

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-now to the all-important land.

-That's what I've been waiting for.

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I'm not sure this lovely barn conversion has impressed Linda,

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although John can certainly see the potential. With an open, manicured garden, the setting is idyllic,

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but the land is a little under an acre, which does include the footprint of the house.

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So this here, this fence is the very edge of your property.

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So this is the one-acre paddock-cum-garden.

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Right, so...

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-You're looking longingly at those sheep!

-Yes...

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I was just hoping that that paddock was an added bonus.

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It would have been ideal if that had been in with the price.

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That would have put a whole different aspect on the...

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If there was an option to rent, then, it's certainly a possibility.

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-The good news is there is an option to rent.

-Oh, right?

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-The better news is there's also an option to buy.

-Oh, right.

-Right.

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-The two acres behind us that you've been lusting after!

-That's a big surprise.

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We spoke to the farmer and he is prepared to sell.

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-Now, obviously, we can't negotiate on your behalf, so we didn't talk price.

-Right.

-OK.

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But he is happy to sell or to rent the two acres.

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-Was there a little smile there?

-Yes. Yeah, that's really good. It is really good, a big plus.

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Well, let's see if the price is going to make you smile or not, because it's that time!

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Guess the price.

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I think because of the location and because the land's the only garden you're going to have...

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the house needs a little bit of updating, I'm going to go for about 410.

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-OK.

-I won't go an awful lot above you, but I will go to 425.

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OK.

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The current asking price for the barn conversion

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-is £445,000!

-Ooh!

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-So just under your budget...

-Yeah.

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But the reason we wanted to show you this property and we think it's worth considering

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-is one, it is so close to Newcastle...

-Yes, it is, very close.

-It's a commutable distance,

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so that's reflected in the price. You do have a lot of land with the option behind us as well to buy.

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Why don't you take a wander back inside

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-and I'll catch up with you a little bit later on?

-Thank you.

-Cheers.

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Well, that was a bonus at the end. I think having the potential to buy this land from the local farmer

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could make all the difference.

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Well, I think the barn conversion has been a rather stable start to our tour.

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It's only just under budget.

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It's close to Newcastle and the beach.

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So, what do they make of it all?

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Definitely think this is the best room in the house,

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-the sitting room.

-Yeah, I agree.

-Do you think the rest of the house is too small?

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I'm still a bit apprehensive about the bedrooms.

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I think the house has got potential.

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The positives are the garden which is absolutely fabulous.

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I think the added bonus of having the land is a real, real plus,

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so it balances out the house side.

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-So are you both happy that you've seen enough?

-Yep. Great, thank you.

-Good. OK, we'll keep going.

-OK.

-OK.

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The coveted landscape of Northumberland is framed by its breathtaking scenery.

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As far back as the Roman times, the now English-Scottish border

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stood witness to at least 2,000 years of conquering and pillaging.

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The architecture of warfare still remains.

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Alnwick Castle is just such a place with the earliest parts of the castle built in the 12th century.

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It was the first Lord Percy of Alnwick in the early 1300s

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who created the castle you see today,

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and through the years the Percy family have retained ownership.

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But it's the recent Duke and Duchess of Northumberland

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who have really helped to restore the castle and the surrounding gardens to their former glory.

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To find out more, earlier in the week, John and Linda met Ian August

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who has 50 years of service to the castle under his belt, serving three different Dukes.

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-I believe the family still live here?

-This is the Duke's main residence, yes,

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but this time of the year, when it's open to the public,

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he moves to another residence he has in the Borders, but the winter time he spends in Alnwick Castle.

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But the castle isn't all about the past. The day-to-day running of the Duke's considerable estate

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still needs to be managed.

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-This is the head office for that...

-What sort of acreage is that?

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-Well, in Northumberland it's about 120,000 acres.

-Oh, gosh!

-Yes.

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-We're looking for four or five. You don't have four or five to spare?

-I'm sure we could find them!

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Despite Ian's generous offer,

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this country estate may be a little over John's budget.

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Heading inside the castle, there is a strong Renaissance influence.

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Oversized pictures adorn the walls of the rooms, leading to the grandiose formal dining room,

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still in use today. In the past, the castle has been used as a location

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in feature films such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

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Over the last ten years, the Duchess commissioned formal gardens

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to complement this imposing structure,

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complete with a magnificent fountain and, possibly, one of the largest tree houses in the world.

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With these modern formal gardens and the castle's long and often bloody history,

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this is arguably the most famous landmark in the area, a place to bring the family for a visit

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when John and Linda do make the break for the country.

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Back to the house-hunt and, just a stone's throw from the castle, is the town of Alnwick.

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Only 15 minutes from the coast and about 30 miles from Newcastle,

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this market town is one of the most picturesque in Northumberland.

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With a long history of farming in the area, Linda will be in good company.

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Our next property is one of four Victorian terraced cottages built for railway workers,

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and it takes full advantage of this fabulous outlook.

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I think it's only fair to bring you to see this side of the property

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and then you really get to appreciate not just this cottage,

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-but the surrounding countryside as well.

-It's absolutely amazing.

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-And also it's so deceiving because that's the original cottage...

-Uh-huh.

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Then it was extended about eight years ago

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and then a further extension was done on that side and that side about two or three years ago.

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So although it's attached to the cottage behind it, it's actually been done

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so that you wouldn't even know you had neighbours and they make the most of everything around them.

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-The view is just stunning.

-Well, it's still a bit breezy out here,

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so let's take you for a tour of the house

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-and we'll come back outside and look at the gardens in more detail.

-OK.

-Brilliant.

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Apart from being a pretty cottage, this does have more space than the last property,

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so I'm hoping that being on the end of a terrace won't become an issue.

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So you've gone past the utility room at the end.

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There's a shower and a toilet at the very end of it and this is your dining room/kitchen.

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-Oh, that's interesting.

-Yes, this is really nice.

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Got an open fire.

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-Yep.

-Now, that range is an original range.

-OK.

-And they do use it in the winter.

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-Right.

-Because this cottage is packed with original features.

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Just standing here looking into the kitchen, that is the original wall from the cottage

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which they've left as a feature.

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-Now, cottages... You wanted a cottage that wasn't small and pokey.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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-So far...?

-So far, no, this isn't a cottage.

-This isn't...

-This is a proper house.

-A proper house.

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-Yes.

-This is lovely.

-And this is just one part of it.

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-Let's show you the kitchen because I know that's got to be right for you.

-Good.

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What do you think?

0:20:480:20:50

-Small.

-Yes, I was going to say the same thing.

-You could always swap them around.

0:20:500:20:55

-Yeah, I was going to say exactly the same...

-Mmm, yeah.

0:20:550:20:58

You could actually take your kitchen over that side, and have this as a sitting area or dining area.

0:20:580:21:03

I think that would be much better.

0:21:030:21:05

I must say, I'm really enjoying John's can-do approach.

0:21:050:21:09

The kitchen flows through to a gorgeous little snug,

0:21:090:21:12

perfect for curling up on a chilly northern evening.

0:21:120:21:15

So if that's the snug, this has to be your sitting room.

0:21:150:21:19

-This is more like it.

-This is lovely.

0:21:190:21:21

-I really like this.

-You'd probably spend many a day in here.

-And you like the log burner?

0:21:210:21:27

-Yes, wonderful.

-Lovely, yeah.

0:21:270:21:30

-They really have made the most of the position.

-They certainly have.

0:21:300:21:33

-They've made the most of the views. The views are just wonderful.

-I'm feeling very buoyant!

0:21:330:21:38

-It's very good, I like this place.

-Very nice, lovely.

-Let's hope you feel the same about upstairs.

0:21:380:21:43

-OK.

-OK, if you want to follow me.

-OK.

0:21:430:21:45

Back through the snug, the stairs to the first floor lead to a very light family-sized bathroom

0:21:470:21:53

and three good-sized double rooms, so guests and grandchildren will be well catered for,

0:21:530:21:58

but the accommodation doesn't stop there,

0:21:580:22:00

because up one more flight of stairs to the converted loft is a space

0:22:000:22:04

I'm hoping John and Linda are going to love.

0:22:040:22:08

-We are at the very top of the house.

-Goodness me!

0:22:080:22:12

-Wow!

-For your master!

-Gosh, this is different! A whole floor.

0:22:120:22:18

Normally, I don't like anything in the eaves because I'm constantly ducking,

0:22:180:22:22

but at least this does have some height.

0:22:220:22:24

And when you've got all your grandchildren and guests, this could be your sanctuary.

0:22:240:22:28

-Yes.

-Yeah, definitely.

-Might need it.

0:22:280:22:30

Off the bedroom and through the dressing room, there's even more.

0:22:300:22:35

And the dressing room leads into this.

0:22:360:22:39

Wow! This is something you did not expect!

0:22:400:22:43

-It's fabulous.

-Fabulous bath.

-Can we get over the eaves?

0:22:430:22:48

-Yeah, I think so.

-I think so.

-Yes!

0:22:480:22:51

And you've got lots of light coming in as well, so it doesn't feel claustrophobic in any way.

0:22:510:22:56

That's a great bath! Can you imagine lying in there watching the stars at night? It would be wonderful!

0:22:560:23:03

So far so good.

0:23:030:23:05

Time to head into the garden to see if the outside space measures up.

0:23:050:23:10

So, here are your gardens. Obviously been laid to lawn.

0:23:100:23:14

-Yep.

-And I know gardening's important, especially to you, John.

0:23:140:23:16

Very good. The garden is not laid out the way I would lay it out,

0:23:160:23:22

-but that can be done and it's a project.

-What about a vegetable patch?

-A vegetable patch

0:23:220:23:26

is very much what we're looking for.

0:23:260:23:28

This property also comes with an acre which, as we drove along the track,

0:23:280:23:32

-just before the cottages started, that was an acre of land.

-OK.

-Right.

0:23:320:23:37

-That is the only land attached to this house.

-OK, right.

0:23:370:23:41

It's a big drawback not having something on your doorstep.

0:23:410:23:44

So it does bring us to guess the price.

0:23:440:23:46

So you've seen the property, you know it does have an acre of land...

0:23:460:23:49

So you go first this time.

0:23:490:23:51

Er...430 on this one, because the house has had a lot more updating.

0:23:510:23:59

I think the house...

0:23:590:24:02

because it's an end terrace, I'll go for 415 on this one.

0:24:020:24:05

-It's one-all!

-Is it?

-Great!

-The asking price for this house, and it has only just gone on the market...

0:24:050:24:12

-OK, right.

-Right.

-..Is £385,000.

-Oh, wow!

-Wow!

-Big difference.

-That's a big...

0:24:120:24:18

-£65,000 change from your top budget.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-That's a big surprise.

0:24:180:24:22

-It is.

-There's a lot of house in there for that money.

0:24:220:24:24

Well, you liked this house, so why don't you go and take another look around and have a think?

0:24:240:24:28

-OK.

-OK.

-Cos you never know, you might be able to get a field not too far away for your cattle,

0:24:280:24:32

-and with £65,000 still in your purse...

-Yes.

-..That's quite a few acres.

-It is.

0:24:320:24:37

-Something certainly to think about.

-Go and enjoy. I'll catch up with you later.

-Thank you.

0:24:370:24:41

At a very reasonable...

0:24:410:24:43

..the price is way under budget, although land may be a problem.

0:24:450:24:50

..via the A1 into Newcastle and it's only 15 minutes from the coast.

0:25:000:25:04

My favourite bits of the house were, of course, the living room,

0:25:040:25:08

which I thought was stunning. I loved the aspects out of the main doors, leading on to the garden,

0:25:080:25:12

that you could open up in the summer and have the outside come inside.

0:25:120:25:17

The room in the eaves was something very different, and I could see that actually working.

0:25:170:25:22

I'm not a lover of eaves, but its situation, the fact it was on a floor on its own,

0:25:220:25:28

allowed us to have our families here at times,

0:25:280:25:31

so that they'd have their own space and we would have our own space.

0:25:310:25:35

-Well, I think the most negative part of this property is the land.

-It'll be fine for the chickens,

0:25:350:25:40

-but it wouldn't be any good for the cows.

-No, not at all.

0:25:400:25:43

-Have you checked out the acre of land?

-We have.

-Yes.

-Bet you're wishing it was five acres now!

0:25:430:25:48

-I surely do.

-Come on, then.

0:25:480:25:51

As the sun sets across Northumberland, John and Linda have plenty to consider.

0:25:510:25:57

But next up on our hunt for a Northumbrian home with land, we have our old friend, the mystery house!

0:26:040:26:11

-Go on, Linda, say it. Say you quite like it, please!

-I do quite like it, it's got lots of potential.

0:26:110:26:16

And that's just the land! Wait till they see inside.

0:26:160:26:20

I thought you said a little bit of work!

0:26:200:26:22

In our search to find John and Linda their first home together,

0:26:250:26:29

yesterday it became clear that land and lots of it

0:26:290:26:33

is perhaps more of a driving factor than we first thought, especially for farmer's daughter Linda.

0:26:330:26:40

The fact is, to buy a house with serious acreage on their budget...

0:26:400:26:45

well, something has to give!

0:26:450:26:47

Today the mystery property is certainly going to test how flexible they can both be.

0:26:470:26:54

Trying to get all the elements of the move right,

0:26:550:27:00

is there anything there that you're willing to compromise? Is something going to give

0:27:000:27:05

so that at least you can get nearly everything right for both of you?

0:27:050:27:07

I think we're both willing to compromise slightly on the house

0:27:070:27:10

in terms of that it may need some work done on it.

0:27:100:27:14

Well, that is excellent news, as the mystery property may require a little TLC.

0:27:140:27:20

Just over 40 miles from Newcastle in the west of the county

0:27:200:27:24

is the heart of the Northumberland National Park,

0:27:240:27:27

and that's where you'll find the Parish of Tarset,

0:27:270:27:29

with a population of just under 200 people.

0:27:290:27:32

Famed for the hardy Tarset hill lamb, it's historically a farming community, which should suit Linda,

0:27:320:27:39

and land is also readily available, which is one of the reasons we've picked this little gem.

0:27:390:27:45

So here is your mystery property, or I actually should say two,

0:27:450:27:49

because it is, in fact, two cottages. What do you think?

0:27:490:27:54

Well, it's obviously not detached which is what we were looking for,

0:27:540:28:00

-so we're going to have neighbours.

-Well, you're right, there are two cottages here...

-OK.

0:28:000:28:05

-Both are owned by the same family...

-Right.

-And these two cottages come together for sale.

0:28:050:28:12

-OK. Well, that's a nice surprise.

-So I can say to you, no neighbours.

0:28:120:28:16

-So it could become one big detached cottage?

-It could become one big detached house, yeah.

-Right.

0:28:160:28:21

So...now we know that you don't have neighbours...

0:28:210:28:24

-It's a lovely-looking property.

-It is, it's a beautiful-looking property, actually.

0:28:240:28:28

It's beautiful sandstone, you've got the blue slate roof. I mean, it is impressive. It's very attractive.

0:28:280:28:34

It needs some work, but you could turn it into something really nice.

0:28:340:28:37

John, I'm liking what I'm hearing here. It does need a little bit of work,

0:28:370:28:41

but let's go round the back and show you what there is there first of all before I take you inside the house.

0:28:410:28:46

-Come on.

-OK.

-OK, brilliant. Thanks.

0:28:460:28:48

Part of the problem with the areas that John and Linda have been looking at is the cost of land,

0:28:480:28:54

but in West Northumberland land can be up to 50% cheaper than coastal regions.

0:28:540:28:59

So, hopefully, Linda will be able to have her cows after all.

0:28:590:29:03

Now, just take a look around you, because we are in the centre of the Northumberland National Park.

0:29:030:29:11

-Spectacular views.

-It's absolutely stunning.

-So stunning. You think you're miles away from anywhere,

0:29:110:29:17

but there's little houses, hamlets just in the distance.

0:29:170:29:21

Just standing here and looking around you, after you've admired the view,

0:29:210:29:24

-you can actually see the boundary to this property...

-OK.

0:29:240:29:27

-Because the cottages between them have 13 acres of land.

-Oh, right?

-Oh, dear me!

0:29:270:29:33

-So literally...you can see where the drystone wall is...

-So it's the drystone wall...?

0:29:330:29:37

That's right. All the way along where the trees are, keep going, past the cattle to the back.

0:29:370:29:41

-Go on, Linda, say it. Say you quite like it, please!

-I do quite like it, it's got lots of potential.

0:29:410:29:48

But whether I'm going to be around to see its potential, I don't know.

0:29:480:29:52

-Of course you are!

-There's quite a lot of work here.

0:29:520:29:55

And "potential" today, I think, is going to be the buzzword.

0:29:550:29:57

-Right, OK.

-Right.

-OK. And on that note, we're going to head back to the property.

-Right.

0:29:570:30:02

And these two traditional stone-built cottages do have loads of potential.

0:30:030:30:08

They face south, they have plenty of space, but taking them on would be quite a project.

0:30:080:30:15

So welcome to the first of the two cottages... Mind your head as you come through.

0:30:150:30:20

-Here's the downstairs.

-Gosh, what a lovely big room!

0:30:210:30:25

I thought you said a little bit of work!

0:30:250:30:27

-It's a project.

-Yeah, it's certainly a project.

-I think as we walk round that's how you have to think of it.

0:30:280:30:33

-And if John's not working full-time, then he'll...

-Thank you!

-..Have plenty of time to...

0:30:330:30:37

And you don't need to sell your existing place,

0:30:370:30:39

so you've got somewhere lovely to go back to at the weekends...

0:30:390:30:43

-True.

-I think we've mapped out the next 12 months for him, haven't we?

0:30:430:30:46

-At least!

-Thank you very much, ladies, very kind of you!

0:30:460:30:50

And some of those months may well be spent updating this small kitchen-diner

0:30:500:30:55

and the bathroom, also on the ground floor.

0:30:550:30:57

But the project doesn't stop there.

0:30:570:30:59

I just hope John keeps an open mind upstairs.

0:30:590:31:02

So there are two bedrooms in this cottage.

0:31:020:31:05

This is the larger of the two bedrooms.

0:31:070:31:09

OK.

0:31:090:31:10

-Right.

-Even this is not bad, you know.

-Not a bad size.

0:31:100:31:15

-And this is a stud wall.

-Right.

-So you could really open it out.

0:31:150:31:19

-You've got plumbing there, there's a toilet in there.

-Right.

0:31:190:31:22

-And you could easily put an en-suite, you would need a bathroom upstairs.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:31:220:31:27

Structurally both the properties are actually in good condition.

0:31:270:31:31

-Obviously they need a major overhaul inside...

-But if it's just internal, it's fine.

0:31:310:31:37

It's when you have to start changing things outside and knocking walls down and that...

0:31:370:31:41

this is when it becomes expensive.

0:31:410:31:42

-But stud walls coming down, it's not expensive.

-It makes it easy. Yeah, you just knock them down.

0:31:420:31:47

I'm glad John isn't work-shy.

0:31:470:31:49

Encompassing a second bedroom to make a master suite on this side of the house

0:31:490:31:54

is a great idea. Because if they were to knock through to the cottage next door,

0:31:540:31:59

they would have an open-plan layout for John to work with.

0:31:590:32:02

So come through into the second cottage.

0:32:020:32:05

This is certainly different.

0:32:050:32:08

What a lovely room. This would make a great kitchen-diner. Very nice. Lovely room.

0:32:080:32:13

I'm really surprised at how much...

0:32:130:32:15

-You're softening up, both of you.

-Yeah, definitely, I would say.

0:32:160:32:20

-It's because you can see the potential, isn't it?

-That's what it is.

0:32:200:32:23

You sort of start looking and think, "Actually, this, if we could knock it right through,

0:32:230:32:27

"this would be a fabulous space from one end to the other of the cottage."

0:32:270:32:29

-He's already got it worked out!

-Mmm.

-And I think if it was done

0:32:290:32:35

-in a good quality way and you got it finished, I think you would have a stunning house here.

-Yeah.

0:32:350:32:40

Next door to the kitchen, the living room boasts a Northumberland arch,

0:32:400:32:45

and upstairs there's another three small rooms that could be turned into two large rooms for visitors.

0:32:450:32:51

There's a bathroom, again in need of rejuvenation, but the garden also had a fantastic aspect

0:32:510:32:58

and plenty of the buzzword, potential!

0:32:580:33:01

-Well, I know you both love gardening, especially you, John.

-Yep.

0:33:010:33:06

So come through into your own walled garden...well, it's a mini walled garden, really, isn't it?

0:33:060:33:11

-It's quite delightful.

-Yeah, very nice.

-It needs some love and attention...

-Yes, it does.

0:33:110:33:16

..Like the whole house. It is such an attractive cottage, or cottages,

0:33:160:33:20

and the garden, I think, is beautiful.

0:33:200:33:22

-So, it's going to bring us to that price, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:33:220:33:27

How much do you think it's worth?

0:33:270:33:29

-I'm going to be really conservative and say 380.

-It does need an awful lot of work...

0:33:290:33:35

but, at the end of the day, you have what we're really looking for in some respects.

0:33:350:33:42

But I think 420.

0:33:420:33:46

-John is closer.

-Is he? Goodness me!

0:33:460:33:49

-£395,000.

-Oh...!

-Yes!

-I nearly said 400!

0:33:490:33:54

-Now, is that the price of the house or the fact that you lost out? Tell me which one.

-Oh, gosh!

0:33:540:34:01

I think if you actually knocked it through and did it to a reasonable standard,

0:34:010:34:06

you'd have a good-looking house.

0:34:060:34:08

Well, we spoke to the local estate agent who's actually got this on the market.

0:34:080:34:12

If you did it up as one house with four bedrooms to a good spec,

0:34:120:34:16

-he thought he price would be around £600,000.

-Really? That's amazing.

-Because of the location...

0:34:160:34:22

-Yes.

-..And the land.

-Goodness me.

-So that's not a bad return on your investment, is it?

0:34:220:34:26

Definitely. Makes it even more interesting!

0:34:260:34:30

And on that note, with those lovely smiles, which I didn't think I was going to see...

0:34:300:34:36

-have another look around and enjoy. I'll see you in a little while.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:34:360:34:42

This property is £55,000 under budget.

0:34:450:34:48

The walled garden might have a much brighter future if John decides to get his hands dirty.

0:34:560:35:00

This would be sort of a dream home if it was done really well, you know,

0:35:000:35:06

and it's somewhere I could maybe think of living for the rest of my life.

0:35:060:35:11

We'll just have to wait and see.

0:35:110:35:13

It definitely thrown us and made us go, "Well, maybe we don't need to be near the sea."

0:35:130:35:17

-The house, at the end of the day, is probably what we've been looking for.

-Definitely.

0:35:170:35:23

And the land's there as well.

0:35:230:35:25

-Have you both seen enough now?

-Yep.

-Yes, I think so.

0:35:290:35:33

I think we've ended up on a positive after a bit of a shaky start with this house!

0:35:330:35:37

-Yeah, very much so.

-Yeah, I think it's certainly thrown a spanner in the works, I think.

0:35:370:35:43

In a good way. Well, let's go somewhere quiet where you can have a think.

0:35:430:35:46

-You've got some decisions to make.

-Lots to make.

0:35:460:35:48

While I was in Northumberland, I couldn't resist hopping on a boat and heading to a group of islands

0:35:560:36:02

which have become a haven for wildlife in the summer months.

0:36:020:36:06

These are the Farne Islands.

0:36:060:36:09

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

-See you later.

-See you later.

0:36:090:36:12

There are no permanent residents on the islands, man or beast,

0:36:120:36:16

but Mike Steele, or Steelie as he's known, an ornithologist, lives here about eight months of the year.

0:36:160:36:23

-Watch your head!

-Yes, this isn't the welcome I was expecting.

0:36:230:36:26

This is the Farne Islands. Unexpected is exactly what you've got!

0:36:260:36:29

-Is there somewhere safer we can go?

-There is. We'll head down and get out the way of these Arctic terns.

0:36:290:36:33

There's no doubt it's a tough place for humans.

0:36:330:36:38

23 species of bird come to the islands annually between April and August to breed.

0:36:380:36:43

That's a staggering 85,000 pairs of seabirds.

0:36:430:36:48

But as the tide comes in to cover half of these islands every day, real estate is at a premium!

0:36:480:36:53

I'm not sure what the average square footage for a birdhouse is,

0:36:530:36:58

but I can tell you that this is high-density living.

0:36:580:37:01

My goodness! I really wasn't expecting that! They were quite vicious!

0:37:010:37:05

They were! They were attacking us, they were trying to lift our hats off and peck our heads.

0:37:050:37:09

-Is it safe to take this off now?

-I think it's fairly safe.

-What type of bird were they?

0:37:090:37:13

Arctic terns and what they were trying to do was defend their chicks and their eggs

0:37:130:37:16

which were just beside the pathway.

0:37:160:37:18

For ten years, Mike and his team have been collecting data about all kinds of birds,

0:37:180:37:24

and the 36,000 puffins on these islands are part of that study.

0:37:240:37:28

These amazing little creatures live underground

0:37:280:37:31

and, to find out more, Mike took me to visit his colleague Jason at one of the nests.

0:37:310:37:37

-Hi, Jason, hello.

-You all right, Jason?

0:37:370:37:39

-Aw!

-This is a puffin chick. He's probably about a week old, looking at him.

0:37:390:37:45

He's been down there being fed by his parents and he'll be down there for about 40 days.

0:37:450:37:50

-And is the mother still in the nest?

-Yes, the adult will still be down there.

0:37:500:37:54

Jason, as part of the research, is going to ring this bird with a very small aluminium ring.

0:37:540:37:58

On this island alone there are about 15,000 pairs of this iconic little bird.

0:37:580:38:04

-How old can a puffin be?

-Well, puffins are incredible birds. They can live for about 30 years.

0:38:040:38:10

In fact, we've actually got one on the Farnes which is 31,

0:38:100:38:13

and the record at this moment, and it's still alive, is 37 years old.

0:38:130:38:17

In this research, this little metal ring, this helps contribute towards that data.

0:38:170:38:23

Puffins pair for life and come back every year to the same nest.

0:38:230:38:28

Once the chicks leave home, they go for good. I bet some human parents wouldn't mind that!

0:38:280:38:33

I'm going to let you hold this bird.

0:38:330:38:34

-Which is the "ah" moment, isn't it?

-Make sure you keep him in your hands.

-This is a puffin...

0:38:340:38:39

seeing the outside world for the first time.

0:38:390:38:41

-And here comes an adult puffin.

-The markings on them are quite extraordinary, aren't they?

0:38:410:38:46

-They're beautiful.

-Beautiful bills. And the grooves they've actually got on their beaks are actually...

0:38:460:38:51

every year it gets a new groove. Up until four and then that's it, till it's got the four grooves,

0:38:510:38:57

-it's an adult bird.

-It's a bit like a tree, the rings of a tree.

0:38:570:39:01

I've never seen so many birds in one place and it's not just birds that come here to breed.

0:39:020:39:08

When they've finished breeding in August, it's time for the grey seals to use the island until Christmas.

0:39:080:39:14

Just like taking over a summer-holiday rental, really.

0:39:140:39:18

It's been absolutely amazing visiting these islands,

0:39:180:39:21

and I can only imagine what it must be like to live here when you're such a bird-lover like Steelie.

0:39:210:39:27

Thank you so much. I'll leave you to your counting and research.

0:39:270:39:30

-Thank you very much indeed.

-Thank you. Bye.

-Goodbye.

0:39:300:39:33

Back to our house-hunters!

0:39:340:39:37

I'm sure John and Linda's feathers may be a little ruffled

0:39:370:39:40

as they work out whether they'll be migrating north!

0:39:400:39:44

Right now, it's time to find out.

0:39:440:39:46

So, Linda and John, we've certainly travelled around this county, haven't we?

0:39:490:39:53

Yes, and nearly the next!

0:39:530:39:55

Well, this is the first time you've bought together, so let's start off with the barn conversion.

0:39:550:40:01

-What did you think about that?

-The land was excellent, particularly if you could rent or buy those 2 acres,

0:40:010:40:07

-plus the wonderful garden.

-Yes, that garden really made it for me.

0:40:070:40:12

The only problem we had with that was the fact that the windows were all on the wrong side.

0:40:120:40:17

If they'd been on the side overlooking the garden, I think that would probably have swung it.

0:40:170:40:23

We might have even thought about going back and having another look at that one, I think.

0:40:230:40:27

-We got close, didn't we?

-Nearly.

-Yeah.

-And only five or so miles from the coast.

-I know.

0:40:270:40:32

-It was wonderful.

-The second property we looked at was the railway cottage.

0:40:320:40:36

That was something else, wasn't it?

0:40:360:40:38

To me, that house was a good size. It had all been renovated to a very good standard.

0:40:380:40:45

The kitchen was really...that was probably the downside in that house.

0:40:450:40:49

It was dark and small. We would have been struggling with knocking any walls down in that property

0:40:490:40:56

to enlarge that kitchen.

0:40:560:40:59

And for what were actually looking for, the acre was really inhibiting

0:40:590:41:03

and the fact we could not buy any land in the neighbouring area.

0:41:030:41:08

Last but not least, we took you to see the mystery property. We travelled inland, quite a journey.

0:41:080:41:16

I think the great thing is the potential for the building itself is amazing.

0:41:160:41:22

To knock that through and make it one huge long house, with a wonderful sitting room,

0:41:220:41:27

brand-new kitchen-diner, big dining room, then you would just have a wonderful house!

0:41:270:41:33

Yeah, a house with lots of potential.

0:41:330:41:35

-And the mystery house did have 13 acres...

-Yeah, yeah.

0:41:350:41:39

It had what we were looking for, getting 13 acres in there, ring-fenced, was really good...

0:41:390:41:46

-What's the next move?

-I think the next big thing for us is we're going to go back to that property

0:41:460:41:50

-and have another look.

-Yeah, go round the property and through the land,

0:41:500:41:55

-see what the perimeter is like.

-And to decide what we could be doing with the house.

0:41:550:42:01

It's when you start knocking down walls and putting in kitchens... there's a lot to think about,

0:42:010:42:07

-but, at the end of the day, you would have a really dream home.

-Yes, it would be a fabulous house, I think.

0:42:070:42:13

Well, that's fantastic news. It has been quite a journey going round...

0:42:130:42:17

not only looking after you two,

0:42:170:42:19

but bearing in mind all these four-legged friends that we've got to house as well,

0:42:190:42:23

but it does sound like we might have got close. If anything does happen, the next chapter,

0:42:230:42:29

you will let is know, won't you? You will keep in touch?

0:42:290:42:31

-Yes.

-And thank you both. It's been an absolute delight.

-No, thank you.

-Thank you.

0:42:310:42:35

You made it very easy for us and it's been wonderful going round with you.

0:42:350:42:38

Well, who would have thought it?

0:42:420:42:44

It took great vision to see the true potential of the mystery house,

0:42:440:42:49

but, after a very shaky start, I think both John and Linda could visualise it

0:42:490:42:55

as their first home together.

0:42:550:42:58

Let's hope that both them and their cattle are one hoof closer to a move to Northumberland!

0:42:580:43:03

See you again soon.

0:43:030:43:05

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0:43:050:43:08

in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland or England

0:43:080:43:11

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

0:43:110:43:18

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0:43:220:43:26

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0:43:260:43:30

Nicki Chapman is in Northumberland in search of a property for a farmer's daughter. With a budget of £450,000, we head west to the farming stronghold of the Northumberland National Park to find acreage. And Nicki gets a rare insight into the remarkable wildlife of the Farne Islands.


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