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I'm in a county famed for its wild beaches and majestic castles.
As you can see, nowhere else do they sit together quite so magically as the scene here.
Which corner of the country am I in?
Join me in a moment to find out.
Today, we're helping a farmer's daughter and her partner find a country escape.
You're looking longingly at those sheep!
I was just hoping that that paddock was an added bonus.
Even though we show them some great country homes, this house-hunt is all about acreage.
Well, I think the most negative part of this property is the land.
But we turn a negative into a positive.
-Was there a little smile there?
-Yes. Yeah, that's really good. It is really good, a big plus.
Today I'm in Northumberland
and this is magnificent Bamburgh Castle.
There's been a fortification on this site since at least 547AD,
and the ground here has borne witness to Saxon kings, Viking raiders, Norman lords,
and countless battles over the past 2,000 years.
And looking at the surrounding countryside, it's little wonder that the castle's residents
have fought so hard to keep it just the way it is.
From rolling pastures to castles presiding over craggy windswept coastlines,
Northumberland is the most northern English county and is the gateway to Scotland.
Today it's peaceful, but Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England,
testament to a bloody history.
From Bamburgh to the likes of Alnwick Castle,
this often fought-over land has a rich and colourful background.
But there's much more to Northumberland than ancient border skirmishes.
It's one of England's largest counties with 405 square miles of national park to explore.
But for those that live here the stone-built houses are akin to their Scottish neighbours.
Sandstone is the characteristic building material,
historically used in everything, from the grandest wind-worn castles to the most modest farmhouses.
No doubt about it! Stunning scenery, unspoilt beaches, a national park,
and it's very own World Heritage Site in Hadrian's Wall,
Northumberland has plenty going for it.
So it may then be a surprise to learn that with an average detached home here
it's slightly cheaper than the national average at 258.
So, if being tucked away in this secluded corner of the country appeals,
here's a selection of what's on the market right now.
At just under £1.3 million,
this imposing seven-bedroom Edwardian house in Riding Mill
should satisfy both the snooker-playing country gent
and those that like a spacious kitchen.
There are options aplenty with huge bedrooms, large reception rooms
and a sunny terrace for your summer soirees. This is country life at its best.
Set peacefully in the middle of landscaped private gardens,
this five-bedroom property is on the market for £695,000,
and has been updated to make the most of the generous interior.
With a fresh modern take on the dual-aspect kitchen-diner,
the property comes with good-sized living rooms and bedrooms,
and outside there's a lawned mature garden.
For those that like something a little less imposing,
this £350,000 barn conversion has an open-plan kitchen-diner,
with exposed beams showing off the full height of the ceiling.
The feature fireplace sets off the living room and the four bedrooms are finished off beautifully.
Stunning Northumberland is a county we don't get to visit as much as I'd like,
so it's a real pleasure to be here this week.
Let's meet the couple who have brought us to this glorious corner of the country.
This week, we're helping ex-dairy farmer Linda and her partner John, who's on a year-long career break.
They met 18 months ago at a food fair and are currently living in John's two-bedroom flat
in this converted school in Yorkshire.
I'm a farmer's daughter.
I've been in farming all my life. I really miss it.
I miss the outdoor life, the space, my animals, my dogs...
Whilst moving in with John has changed my life completely...
but living in the apartment is just too restricting.
But with so many areas of beautiful countryside to choose from,
what attracts Linda and John to Northumberland?
Just such a beautiful area, and Linda, when I took her up there, just fell in love with the place.
But family ties can be a stumbling block, and with four children between them living in Ripon,
they don't want to be too remote for when the family come to stay.
It will be a wrench,
but, after all, Northumberland's only and hour and a half up the motorway, so it's not the end of the earth,
and if we could find the ideal property,
then it would be a good opportunity for them all to come up and spend time with us in the holiday season.
So they certainly need space
to cater for the extended family when they visit, but are there any other must-haves?
What we want is a reasonable-sized house with three bedrooms, good-sized kitchen
and decent living area.
That seems reasonable, but do they need any land?
Four or five acres would be a nice amount for the few cattle that I would like.
I have bred my cattle up to a pretty good standard in the past,
and I was well-respected within the farming industry.
So grazing space for the cattle is a must, but it doesn't stop there!
Reasonable location, close to the beach if possible, and close to road links.
Linda and John are cash buyers and will be hanging on to the apartment in Yorkshire,
but that still leaves us with one question... how much do they have to spend?
If we find our ideal home, our maximum budget would be £450,000.
Having been together for 18 months, John and Linda are starting an exciting new chapter in their lives.
Hopefully, we'll be able to help them realise it.
They dream of a detached property with three bedrooms, a large kitchen, plenty of living space,
and a good-sized garden, all within ten miles of the sea.
The reality is with Linda's longing for land for her cattle,
for their budget of £450,000, something might have to give.
Will we be successful in keeping man, woman and beasts happy? Let's find out.
We'll be focusing our search between Alnwick in the north
down to Newcastle, hugging the coastline as much as we can
for their walks on the beach.
We've got some fantastic properties for John and Linda's consideration,
but I'll be keeping tight-lipped about the prices, and then we have the mystery house...
a property that promises to challenge their idea of a dream home in the country,
but will certainly give them food for thought.
Well, John and Linda, welcome to Northumberland.
You must be both very excited because this is the first property you've bought together.
-Yeah, we are very excited.
-Yeah, very excited, just looking forward to seeing what you've got for us...
and taking it from there.
-Now, apart from John, I know you love your cattle...
So...the balance is, house for you two or land for the beasts...
which one's going to win, do you think, the battle?
Er...well, I think it'll be really hard not to have one without the other,
but if the house is right and there was an option to rent or something that was close by,
then we would certainly look at something like that.
And your budget, still £450,000?
-OK, then. Right, well, I think we should get started, we've got a lot to see.
So for a top budget of £450,000, Linda and John want a detached property with at least...
..so Linda can have a few head of cattle.
..for John to Newcastle for work,
..for those leisurely walks on the beach.
We're starting our search a few miles from the village of Mitford.
Just a 30-minute drive from Newcastle and the beach,
it's the perfect location for John and Linda.
Mitford itself is home to just 500 people and has plenty of period charm.
Linda and John can enjoy a quiet meal in the local pub when they need a break from feeding the livestock.
And, in keeping with the farming theme, our first property is in the farming belt,
just four miles outside the village.
-Here's your first property.
-Obviously a barn conversion.
Looks very nice.
Not sure whether it's going to be dark in there...small windows...
-but we shall see what's inside.
-It was actually converted in 2004...
..By the local farmer and there's eight buildings in total, and they've all been converted.
-So it's relatively new.
-Very pleasant round here, very pleasant.
-Very secluded, I like it.
Although John seems keen, I'm not sure about Linda,
but I'll be disappointed if the inside fails to impress.
So come on through into the hallway. You've got flagstones, storage and a downstairs cloakroom.
But I want to lead you straight into the kitchen.
-What do you think?
-Er...a bit smaller than I was expecting, to be honest.
Because of the entertaining we do, we do need a reasonable-sized kitchen. It's nicely fitted.
They're obviously very good units. It has potential, but, you know...
you can work around things.
This is a large kitchen, so I'm a little surprised at Linda's reaction.
Maybe she'll be more impressed with the living space.
-Here's your sitting room.
-Oh, this is lovely.
-This is nice.
-I do like this.
-I like the open aspect again at the top, which...
when you look from the outside, it looked as we were probably going to have the eaves factor,
-but this is very nice.
-I like the fact that there's more windows on this side as well,
-because it lets a lot more light in.
-And we're not seeing it on a particularly bright day.
I was going to say... and it's dark outside, exactly. So, yeah, I like it.
Off the sitting room is a small and compact study,
and next to that is this modern flagstoned bathroom,
but we're heading off to see where the family will stay when they come to visit.
This is the first of the three bedrooms and it's actually an en-suite,
-but it's not the master, you'll be pleased to know.
It's very small for the master,
which makes me feel... why have an en-suite for what is virtually a single bedroom?
No, I think it's all right, actually.
I think it's got potential, I think you could do things with it.
-So, John, you sound sold on this, but, Linda, 50-50?
I just feel this is a single bedroom,
and other than bunk beds I couldn't see... I think you're going to struggle with a double in here.
I thought the space here would be ample for occasional guests,
but there is another small double next door,
and the master suite at the end of the hallway is sure to impress.
So here's the third and largest bedroom. This is the master.
-This is a better size.
-Yeah, much better.
-And you've got the shower room next door as well, an en-suite.
-Yeah. It's pleasant, it's quiet.
-Nice aspect out the windows.
-And the most important thing is that you're both happy.
-You're going to be here all the time, your guests will come and go.
-No, this is a really nice room. I like this room.
-So we've seen the property...
-now to the all-important land.
-That's what I've been waiting for.
I'm not sure this lovely barn conversion has impressed Linda,
although John can certainly see the potential. With an open, manicured garden, the setting is idyllic,
but the land is a little under an acre, which does include the footprint of the house.
So this here, this fence is the very edge of your property.
So this is the one-acre paddock-cum-garden.
-You're looking longingly at those sheep!
I was just hoping that that paddock was an added bonus.
It would have been ideal if that had been in with the price.
That would have put a whole different aspect on the...
If there was an option to rent, then, it's certainly a possibility.
-The good news is there is an option to rent.
-The better news is there's also an option to buy.
-The two acres behind us that you've been lusting after!
-That's a big surprise.
We spoke to the farmer and he is prepared to sell.
-Now, obviously, we can't negotiate on your behalf, so we didn't talk price.
But he is happy to sell or to rent the two acres.
-Was there a little smile there?
-Yes. Yeah, that's really good. It is really good, a big plus.
Well, let's see if the price is going to make you smile or not, because it's that time!
Guess the price.
I think because of the location and because the land's the only garden you're going to have...
the house needs a little bit of updating, I'm going to go for about 410.
-I won't go an awful lot above you, but I will go to 425.
The current asking price for the barn conversion
-So just under your budget...
But the reason we wanted to show you this property and we think it's worth considering
-is one, it is so close to Newcastle...
-Yes, it is, very close.
-It's a commutable distance,
so that's reflected in the price. You do have a lot of land with the option behind us as well to buy.
Why don't you take a wander back inside
-and I'll catch up with you a little bit later on?
Well, that was a bonus at the end. I think having the potential to buy this land from the local farmer
could make all the difference.
Well, I think the barn conversion has been a rather stable start to our tour.
It's only just under budget.
It's close to Newcastle and the beach.
So, what do they make of it all?
Definitely think this is the best room in the house,
-the sitting room.
-Yeah, I agree.
-Do you think the rest of the house is too small?
I'm still a bit apprehensive about the bedrooms.
I think the house has got potential.
The positives are the garden which is absolutely fabulous.
I think the added bonus of having the land is a real, real plus,
so it balances out the house side.
-So are you both happy that you've seen enough?
-Yep. Great, thank you.
-Good. OK, we'll keep going.
The coveted landscape of Northumberland is framed by its breathtaking scenery.
As far back as the Roman times, the now English-Scottish border
stood witness to at least 2,000 years of conquering and pillaging.
The architecture of warfare still remains.
Alnwick Castle is just such a place with the earliest parts of the castle built in the 12th century.
It was the first Lord Percy of Alnwick in the early 1300s
who created the castle you see today,
and through the years the Percy family have retained ownership.
But it's the recent Duke and Duchess of Northumberland
who have really helped to restore the castle and the surrounding gardens to their former glory.
To find out more, earlier in the week, John and Linda met Ian August
who has 50 years of service to the castle under his belt, serving three different Dukes.
-I believe the family still live here?
-This is the Duke's main residence, yes,
but this time of the year, when it's open to the public,
he moves to another residence he has in the Borders, but the winter time he spends in Alnwick Castle.
But the castle isn't all about the past. The day-to-day running of the Duke's considerable estate
still needs to be managed.
-This is the head office for that...
-What sort of acreage is that?
-Well, in Northumberland it's about 120,000 acres.
-We're looking for four or five. You don't have four or five to spare?
-I'm sure we could find them!
Despite Ian's generous offer,
this country estate may be a little over John's budget.
Heading inside the castle, there is a strong Renaissance influence.
Oversized pictures adorn the walls of the rooms, leading to the grandiose formal dining room,
still in use today. In the past, the castle has been used as a location
in feature films such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.
Over the last ten years, the Duchess commissioned formal gardens
to complement this imposing structure,
complete with a magnificent fountain and, possibly, one of the largest tree houses in the world.
With these modern formal gardens and the castle's long and often bloody history,
this is arguably the most famous landmark in the area, a place to bring the family for a visit
when John and Linda do make the break for the country.
Back to the house-hunt and, just a stone's throw from the castle, is the town of Alnwick.
Only 15 minutes from the coast and about 30 miles from Newcastle,
this market town is one of the most picturesque in Northumberland.
With a long history of farming in the area, Linda will be in good company.
Our next property is one of four Victorian terraced cottages built for railway workers,
and it takes full advantage of this fabulous outlook.
I think it's only fair to bring you to see this side of the property
and then you really get to appreciate not just this cottage,
-but the surrounding countryside as well.
-It's absolutely amazing.
-And also it's so deceiving because that's the original cottage...
Then it was extended about eight years ago
and then a further extension was done on that side and that side about two or three years ago.
So although it's attached to the cottage behind it, it's actually been done
so that you wouldn't even know you had neighbours and they make the most of everything around them.
-The view is just stunning.
-Well, it's still a bit breezy out here,
so let's take you for a tour of the house
-and we'll come back outside and look at the gardens in more detail.
Apart from being a pretty cottage, this does have more space than the last property,
so I'm hoping that being on the end of a terrace won't become an issue.
So you've gone past the utility room at the end.
There's a shower and a toilet at the very end of it and this is your dining room/kitchen.
-Oh, that's interesting.
-Yes, this is really nice.
Got an open fire.
-Now, that range is an original range.
-And they do use it in the winter.
-Because this cottage is packed with original features.
Just standing here looking into the kitchen, that is the original wall from the cottage
which they've left as a feature.
-Now, cottages... You wanted a cottage that wasn't small and pokey.
-So far, no, this isn't a cottage.
-This is a proper house.
-A proper house.
-This is lovely.
-And this is just one part of it.
-Let's show you the kitchen because I know that's got to be right for you.
What do you think?
-Yes, I was going to say the same thing.
-You could always swap them around.
-Yeah, I was going to say exactly the same...
You could actually take your kitchen over that side, and have this as a sitting area or dining area.
I think that would be much better.
I must say, I'm really enjoying John's can-do approach.
The kitchen flows through to a gorgeous little snug,
perfect for curling up on a chilly northern evening.
So if that's the snug, this has to be your sitting room.
-This is more like it.
-This is lovely.
-I really like this.
-You'd probably spend many a day in here.
-And you like the log burner?
-They really have made the most of the position.
-They certainly have.
-They've made the most of the views. The views are just wonderful.
-I'm feeling very buoyant!
-It's very good, I like this place.
-Very nice, lovely.
-Let's hope you feel the same about upstairs.
-OK, if you want to follow me.
Back through the snug, the stairs to the first floor lead to a very light family-sized bathroom
and three good-sized double rooms, so guests and grandchildren will be well catered for,
but the accommodation doesn't stop there,
because up one more flight of stairs to the converted loft is a space
I'm hoping John and Linda are going to love.
-We are at the very top of the house.
-For your master!
-Gosh, this is different! A whole floor.
Normally, I don't like anything in the eaves because I'm constantly ducking,
but at least this does have some height.
And when you've got all your grandchildren and guests, this could be your sanctuary.
-Might need it.
Off the bedroom and through the dressing room, there's even more.
And the dressing room leads into this.
Wow! This is something you did not expect!
-Can we get over the eaves?
-Yeah, I think so.
-I think so.
And you've got lots of light coming in as well, so it doesn't feel claustrophobic in any way.
That's a great bath! Can you imagine lying in there watching the stars at night? It would be wonderful!
So far so good.
Time to head into the garden to see if the outside space measures up.
So, here are your gardens. Obviously been laid to lawn.
-And I know gardening's important, especially to you, John.
Very good. The garden is not laid out the way I would lay it out,
-but that can be done and it's a project.
-What about a vegetable patch?
-A vegetable patch
is very much what we're looking for.
This property also comes with an acre which, as we drove along the track,
-just before the cottages started, that was an acre of land.
-That is the only land attached to this house.
It's a big drawback not having something on your doorstep.
So it does bring us to guess the price.
So you've seen the property, you know it does have an acre of land...
So you go first this time.
Er...430 on this one, because the house has had a lot more updating.
I think the house...
because it's an end terrace, I'll go for 415 on this one.
-The asking price for this house, and it has only just gone on the market...
-That's a big...
-£65,000 change from your top budget.
-That's a big surprise.
-There's a lot of house in there for that money.
Well, you liked this house, so why don't you go and take another look around and have a think?
-Cos you never know, you might be able to get a field not too far away for your cattle,
-and with £65,000 still in your purse...
-..That's quite a few acres.
-Something certainly to think about.
-Go and enjoy. I'll catch up with you later.
At a very reasonable...
..the price is way under budget, although land may be a problem.
..via the A1 into Newcastle and it's only 15 minutes from the coast.
My favourite bits of the house were, of course, the living room,
which I thought was stunning. I loved the aspects out of the main doors, leading on to the garden,
that you could open up in the summer and have the outside come inside.
The room in the eaves was something very different, and I could see that actually working.
I'm not a lover of eaves, but its situation, the fact it was on a floor on its own,
allowed us to have our families here at times,
so that they'd have their own space and we would have our own space.
-Well, I think the most negative part of this property is the land.
-It'll be fine for the chickens,
-but it wouldn't be any good for the cows.
-No, not at all.
-Have you checked out the acre of land?
-Bet you're wishing it was five acres now!
-I surely do.
-Come on, then.
As the sun sets across Northumberland, John and Linda have plenty to consider.
But next up on our hunt for a Northumbrian home with land, we have our old friend, the mystery house!
-Go on, Linda, say it. Say you quite like it, please!
-I do quite like it, it's got lots of potential.
And that's just the land! Wait till they see inside.
I thought you said a little bit of work!
In our search to find John and Linda their first home together,
yesterday it became clear that land and lots of it
is perhaps more of a driving factor than we first thought, especially for farmer's daughter Linda.
The fact is, to buy a house with serious acreage on their budget...
well, something has to give!
Today the mystery property is certainly going to test how flexible they can both be.
Trying to get all the elements of the move right,
is there anything there that you're willing to compromise? Is something going to give
so that at least you can get nearly everything right for both of you?
I think we're both willing to compromise slightly on the house
in terms of that it may need some work done on it.
Well, that is excellent news, as the mystery property may require a little TLC.
Just over 40 miles from Newcastle in the west of the county
is the heart of the Northumberland National Park,
and that's where you'll find the Parish of Tarset,
with a population of just under 200 people.
Famed for the hardy Tarset hill lamb, it's historically a farming community, which should suit Linda,
and land is also readily available, which is one of the reasons we've picked this little gem.
So here is your mystery property, or I actually should say two,
because it is, in fact, two cottages. What do you think?
Well, it's obviously not detached which is what we were looking for,
-so we're going to have neighbours.
-Well, you're right, there are two cottages here...
-Both are owned by the same family...
-And these two cottages come together for sale.
-OK. Well, that's a nice surprise.
-So I can say to you, no neighbours.
-So it could become one big detached cottage?
-It could become one big detached house, yeah.
So...now we know that you don't have neighbours...
-It's a lovely-looking property.
-It is, it's a beautiful-looking property, actually.
It's beautiful sandstone, you've got the blue slate roof. I mean, it is impressive. It's very attractive.
It needs some work, but you could turn it into something really nice.
John, I'm liking what I'm hearing here. It does need a little bit of work,
but let's go round the back and show you what there is there first of all before I take you inside the house.
-OK, brilliant. Thanks.
Part of the problem with the areas that John and Linda have been looking at is the cost of land,
but in West Northumberland land can be up to 50% cheaper than coastal regions.
So, hopefully, Linda will be able to have her cows after all.
Now, just take a look around you, because we are in the centre of the Northumberland National Park.
-It's absolutely stunning.
-So stunning. You think you're miles away from anywhere,
but there's little houses, hamlets just in the distance.
Just standing here and looking around you, after you've admired the view,
-you can actually see the boundary to this property...
-Because the cottages between them have 13 acres of land.
-Oh, dear me!
-So literally...you can see where the drystone wall is...
-So it's the drystone wall...?
That's right. All the way along where the trees are, keep going, past the cattle to the back.
-Go on, Linda, say it. Say you quite like it, please!
-I do quite like it, it's got lots of potential.
But whether I'm going to be around to see its potential, I don't know.
-Of course you are!
-There's quite a lot of work here.
And "potential" today, I think, is going to be the buzzword.
-OK. And on that note, we're going to head back to the property.
And these two traditional stone-built cottages do have loads of potential.
They face south, they have plenty of space, but taking them on would be quite a project.
So welcome to the first of the two cottages... Mind your head as you come through.
-Here's the downstairs.
-Gosh, what a lovely big room!
I thought you said a little bit of work!
-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.
-And if John's not working full-time, then he'll...
-..Have plenty of time to...
And you don't need to sell your existing place,
so you've got somewhere lovely to go back to at the weekends...
-I think we've mapped out the next 12 months for him, haven't we?
-Thank you very much, ladies, very kind of you!
And some of those months may well be spent updating this small kitchen-diner
and the bathroom, also on the ground floor.
But the project doesn't stop there.
I just hope John keeps an open mind upstairs.
So there are two bedrooms in this cottage.
This is the larger of the two bedrooms.
-Even this is not bad, you know.
-Not a bad size.
-And this is a stud wall.
-So you could really open it out.
-You've got plumbing there, there's a toilet in there.
-And you could easily put an en-suite, you would need a bathroom upstairs.
Structurally both the properties are actually in good condition.
-Obviously they need a major overhaul inside...
-But if it's just internal, it's fine.
It's when you have to start changing things outside and knocking walls down and that...
this is when it becomes expensive.
-But stud walls coming down, it's not expensive.
-It makes it easy. Yeah, you just knock them down.
I'm glad John isn't work-shy.
Encompassing a second bedroom to make a master suite on this side of the house
is a great idea. Because if they were to knock through to the cottage next door,
they would have an open-plan layout for John to work with.
So come through into the second cottage.
This is certainly different.
What a lovely room. This would make a great kitchen-diner. Very nice. Lovely room.
I'm really surprised at how much...
-You're softening up, both of you.
-Yeah, definitely, I would say.
-It's because you can see the potential, isn't it?
-That's what it is.
You sort of start looking and think, "Actually, this, if we could knock it right through,
"this would be a fabulous space from one end to the other of the cottage."
-He's already got it worked out!
-And I think if it was done
-in a good quality way and you got it finished, I think you would have a stunning house here.
Next door to the kitchen, the living room boasts a Northumberland arch,
and upstairs there's another three small rooms that could be turned into two large rooms for visitors.
There's a bathroom, again in need of rejuvenation, but the garden also had a fantastic aspect
and plenty of the buzzword, potential!
-Well, I know you both love gardening, especially you, John.
So come through into your own walled garden...well, it's a mini walled garden, really, isn't it?
-It's quite delightful.
-Yeah, very nice.
-It needs some love and attention...
-Yes, it does.
..Like the whole house. It is such an attractive cottage, or cottages,
and the garden, I think, is beautiful.
-So, it's going to bring us to that price, isn't it?
How much do you think it's worth?
-I'm going to be really conservative and say 380.
-It does need an awful lot of work...
but, at the end of the day, you have what we're really looking for in some respects.
But I think 420.
-John is closer.
-Is he? Goodness me!
-I nearly said 400!
-Now, is that the price of the house or the fact that you lost out? Tell me which one.
I think if you actually knocked it through and did it to a reasonable standard,
you'd have a good-looking house.
Well, we spoke to the local estate agent who's actually got this on the market.
If you did it up as one house with four bedrooms to a good spec,
-he thought he price would be around £600,000.
-Really? That's amazing.
-Because of the location...
-..And the land.
-So that's not a bad return on your investment, is it?
Definitely. Makes it even more interesting!
And on that note, with those lovely smiles, which I didn't think I was going to see...
-have another look around and enjoy. I'll see you in a little while.
This property is £55,000 under budget.
The walled garden might have a much brighter future if John decides to get his hands dirty.
This would be sort of a dream home if it was done really well, you know,
and it's somewhere I could maybe think of living for the rest of my life.
We'll just have to wait and see.
It definitely thrown us and made us go, "Well, maybe we don't need to be near the sea."
-The house, at the end of the day, is probably what we've been looking for.
And the land's there as well.
-Have you both seen enough now?
-Yes, I think so.
I think we've ended up on a positive after a bit of a shaky start with this house!
-Yeah, very much so.
-Yeah, I think it's certainly thrown a spanner in the works, I think.
In a good way. Well, let's go somewhere quiet where you can have a think.
-You've got some decisions to make.
-Lots to make.
While I was in Northumberland, I couldn't resist hopping on a boat and heading to a group of islands
which have become a haven for wildlife in the summer months.
These are the Farne Islands.
-See you later.
-See you later.
There are no permanent residents on the islands, man or beast,
but Mike Steele, or Steelie as he's known, an ornithologist, lives here about eight months of the year.
-Watch your head!
-Yes, this isn't the welcome I was expecting.
This is the Farne Islands. Unexpected is exactly what you've got!
-Is there somewhere safer we can go?
-There is. We'll head down and get out the way of these Arctic terns.
There's no doubt it's a tough place for humans.
23 species of bird come to the islands annually between April and August to breed.
That's a staggering 85,000 pairs of seabirds.
But as the tide comes in to cover half of these islands every day, real estate is at a premium!
I'm not sure what the average square footage for a birdhouse is,
but I can tell you that this is high-density living.
My goodness! I really wasn't expecting that! They were quite vicious!
They were! They were attacking us, they were trying to lift our hats off and peck our heads.
-Is it safe to take this off now?
-I think it's fairly safe.
-What type of bird were they?
Arctic terns and what they were trying to do was defend their chicks and their eggs
which were just beside the pathway.
For ten years, Mike and his team have been collecting data about all kinds of birds,
and the 36,000 puffins on these islands are part of that study.
These amazing little creatures live underground
and, to find out more, Mike took me to visit his colleague Jason at one of the nests.
-Hi, Jason, hello.
-You all right, Jason?
-This is a puffin chick. He's probably about a week old, looking at him.
He's been down there being fed by his parents and he'll be down there for about 40 days.
-And is the mother still in the nest?
-Yes, the adult will still be down there.
Jason, as part of the research, is going to ring this bird with a very small aluminium ring.
On this island alone there are about 15,000 pairs of this iconic little bird.
-How old can a puffin be?
-Well, puffins are incredible birds. They can live for about 30 years.
In fact, we've actually got one on the Farnes which is 31,
and the record at this moment, and it's still alive, is 37 years old.
In this research, this little metal ring, this helps contribute towards that data.
Puffins pair for life and come back every year to the same nest.
Once the chicks leave home, they go for good. I bet some human parents wouldn't mind that!
I'm going to let you hold this bird.
-Which is the "ah" moment, isn't it?
-Make sure you keep him in your hands.
-This is a puffin...
seeing the outside world for the first time.
-And here comes an adult puffin.
-The markings on them are quite extraordinary, aren't they?
-Beautiful bills. And the grooves they've actually got on their beaks are actually...
every year it gets a new groove. Up until four and then that's it, till it's got the four grooves,
-it's an adult bird.
-It's a bit like a tree, the rings of a tree.
I've never seen so many birds in one place and it's not just birds that come here to breed.
When they've finished breeding in August, it's time for the grey seals to use the island until Christmas.
Just like taking over a summer-holiday rental, really.
It's been absolutely amazing visiting these islands,
and I can only imagine what it must be like to live here when you're such a bird-lover like Steelie.
Thank you so much. I'll leave you to your counting and research.
-Thank you very much indeed.
-Thank you. Bye.
Back to our house-hunters!
I'm sure John and Linda's feathers may be a little ruffled
as they work out whether they'll be migrating north!
Right now, it's time to find out.
So, Linda and John, we've certainly travelled around this county, haven't we?
Yes, and nearly the next!
Well, this is the first time you've bought together, so let's start off with the barn conversion.
-What did you think about that?
-The land was excellent, particularly if you could rent or buy those 2 acres,
-plus the wonderful garden.
-Yes, that garden really made it for me.
The only problem we had with that was the fact that the windows were all on the wrong side.
If they'd been on the side overlooking the garden, I think that would probably have swung it.
We might have even thought about going back and having another look at that one, I think.
-We got close, didn't we?
-And only five or so miles from the coast.
-It was wonderful.
-The second property we looked at was the railway cottage.
That was something else, wasn't it?
To me, that house was a good size. It had all been renovated to a very good standard.
The kitchen was really...that was probably the downside in that house.
It was dark and small. We would have been struggling with knocking any walls down in that property
to enlarge that kitchen.
And for what were actually looking for, the acre was really inhibiting
and the fact we could not buy any land in the neighbouring area.
Last but not least, we took you to see the mystery property. We travelled inland, quite a journey.
I think the great thing is the potential for the building itself is amazing.
To knock that through and make it one huge long house, with a wonderful sitting room,
brand-new kitchen-diner, big dining room, then you would just have a wonderful house!
Yeah, a house with lots of potential.
-And the mystery house did have 13 acres...
It had what we were looking for, getting 13 acres in there, ring-fenced, was really good...
-What's the next move?
-I think the next big thing for us is we're going to go back to that property
-and have another look.
-Yeah, go round the property and through the land,
-see what the perimeter is like.
-And to decide what we could be doing with the house.
It's when you start knocking down walls and putting in kitchens... there's a lot to think about,
-but, at the end of the day, you would have a really dream home.
-Yes, it would be a fabulous house, I think.
Well, that's fantastic news. It has been quite a journey going round...
not only looking after you two,
but bearing in mind all these four-legged friends that we've got to house as well,
but it does sound like we might have got close. If anything does happen, the next chapter,
you will let is know, won't you? You will keep in touch?
-And thank you both. It's been an absolute delight.
-No, thank you.
You made it very easy for us and it's been wonderful going round with you.
Well, who would have thought it?
It took great vision to see the true potential of the mystery house,
but, after a very shaky start, I think both John and Linda could visualise it
as their first home together.
Let's hope that both them and their cattle are one hoof closer to a move to Northumberland!
See you again soon.
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