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The thing I most enjoy about exploring the British Isles and its landscape
is that at almost every twist and turn you can find a human story that tells us
a little bit more about our history and where we've come from.
Take this gorgeous old ruin behind me.
It's thought that buried within are the remains of a soldier shot 356 years ago.
But why was he here?
Where am I, for that matter?
Join me for what promises to be a very historic Escape To The Country.
On today's show we'll be meeting a couple who want to swap
the Spanish sun for muddy boots in the English countryside.
We have wonderful rural properties, if they can hold their nerve.
I am scared silly. I don't know what this price will be.
But other getaways leave them utterly speechless.
-How about that for a kitchen/diner?
Today I'm in Somerset and this extraordinary glacial lump is known as Burrow Mump.
It played a small but significant part in the fortunes of the English Civil War here.
In 1645, the Royalist Army, led by Lord Goring,
took on the Parliamentarians at the nearby Battle of Langport.
Goring and the Royalists were defeated, but some of the stragglers
made it back here, where they held out for a further three days.
When eventually they were overcome, their resistance marked the end of the Royalist campaign here,
in the West Country, handing the region to Oliver Cromwell.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Lying in the south-west corner of England,
Somerset is bordered by four other counties
and bounded by the Bristol Channel to the West.
The stunning landscape ranges from the dramatic limestone cliffs at Cheddar Gorge
to the expansive open moorland of Exmoor National Park.
Somerset has a plentiful supply of natural building materials,
including the mellow grey lias stone
and the distinctive honey-coloured ham stone,
both of which have been used to build
an assortment of attractive country properties.
You may be surprised to learn that the average detached house in Somerset
will set you back around about 7% above the national average.
But that does compare very favourably with Devon and Dorset.
In Dorset, it's a whopping 25% above the national average
and in Devon it will set you back 16% above the national figure.
If you want value for money, and a slice of the West Country, Somerset is a good bet.
If you're property shopping with £800,000 to spend,
how about this three-storey Grade II-listed property in Bath?
It comes with four bedrooms,
and period features are a theme throughout the reception areas,
which include a garden room with great views across the valley.
Or, a few miles from Taunton,
this listed thatched cottage delivers bags of historic charm.
Priced at £325,000, it has three bedrooms,
two receptions with a kitchen/diner
and to the rear lies a pretty enclosed garden
with a delightful paved terrace.
Lastly, this two-bed terraced cottage in South Cheriton
is on the market for £250,000 and is packed full of character,
with exposed brick and timbers in the reception areas
as well as a lovely garden room.
Well, as you can see, some wonderful property down here, and three more houses to come on the show,
including our mystery house,
but are any of them good enough to tempt today's buyers to part with their cash?
Well, let's meet them and find out what they're after.
Today's house buyers are Phil and Diane,
who are looking to simplify their lifestyle,
as they currently split their time
between properties in Spain and North London.
Phil spent 40 years working as an architect and Diane used to be a bank manager,
but since retiring they've set their hearts on moving to the West Country.
Maintaining two properties is difficult. We want to be closer to our family as well.
-We've been away and we've missed a few things about England and family is one of them.
But what else persuaded them to give up the sun, the sea and the sangria?
I've always wanted to do drawings and paintings
and never had the time to do it. I've got all the equipment.
I think I've got the ability to do it. I just haven't addressed it.
I make a lot of jam and chutney in Spain and I'd like to be doing that here.
I love picking blackberries from the hedgerows. I like freebies.
-We'd love to have chickens and maybe a pig, if you'd let me!
Although they've identified the West Country, they're open as to the exact location.
On the edge of a village preferably, to give us more open space.
-We'd like a view.
We've never had a view. Even in Spain we don't have a view!
I was born by the sea.
As long as I know it's close enough to be able to go to,
half an hour's drive, 30 miles away or something like that.
It's great they're so broad-minded.
It helps to keep your options open.
What do they want from the new house?
Ideally three bedrooms.
And the ability to either have
or to make the kitchen into a large kitchen, living, eating area.
-A family room, yeah.
Although Phil no longer works as an architect,
there's a personal building project he would like to complete.
When we bought the house it was my intention
to convert the loft into a den or boy's room,
however you might call it,
but in our new house I'll be looking for a space,
somewhere I can go and hide away and play my music and do my own thing.
All in all, they both seem flexible, but is there anything they wouldn't consider?
-A brand-new house, I think.
-Yes, I would say so.
You also expressed a dislike of the chocolate-box type of cottage,
They've just accepted an offer on their London property for £315,000
but are waiting for a buyer for their Spanish villa.
With that in mind, what's the final figure for this West Country move?
The budget for this next move will be up to £400,000.
Well, Phil and Diane want to move here to the West Country
and, when faced with views like the one behind me, who can blame them?
They're prepared to consider almost anything within East Devon, West Dorset or South Somerset,
but I think the key to this search will be Somerset.
They'll get more bang for their buck here and all the indoor and outdoor space they're after.
We'll be starting our search in southern Somerset,
close to the Blackdown Hills and the villages around Ilminster,
about a half-hour drive to the coast.
We've found some superb homes, each offering great opportunities,
but I'll be staying tight-lipped about the prices.
Finally, there's the mystery house,
where we're presenting a picture-postcard country dream.
-How are you?
Here we are, Somerset beckons with a hint of sunshine.
Whether it will last I've no idea.
Quite an exciting move for you two.
Fantastic, we're very excited.
And I gather you've got a lot of money burning a hole in your back pocket, because you've exchanged?
-Thank God, yes.
-Has this had any effect on the budget?
Yes, it has, it's gone up by £50,000.
-£50,000 just like that.
-So £450,000 is what we've got to play with?
-Let's have a look.
Seeing as Phil and Diane have already exchanged contracts,
time is of the essence to find their next home.
So, with a revised budget of £450,000,
they're after a three-bed property with inspiring views.
Diane has her heart set on a country kitchen
and Phil is looking for a den to escape to.
Outside, they want a decent plot of land,
with room for chickens and a pig.
They're not keen on new-builds, as they prefer historic character,
and they are prepared to take on minor renovations.
Now that Phil and Diane have upped their spend,
I'm confident we can find a property to fit the bill.
It's time to get this house search started.
Our first port of call is Stocklinch,
three miles north-east of Ilminster.
Stocklinch is a small tranquil place dating back to medieval times
with a mix of traditional and modern properties
housing a small, close-knit community.
Set in the heart of the countryside,
the impressive panorama opposite our first house
should hopefully provide
the perfect inspiration for Phil to develop his painting passion.
Well, let's start with this one, what do you think?
-It looks good.
-Yeah? You don't get all of it.
It's a rural semi, so you get that half on the right.
1900, Victorian, late Victorian,
-so it's got lots of features as well.
-We like Victorian.
We've only ever owned three houses and they've all been Victorian.
-Come and have a look.
This former worker's cottage has been substantially extended
and offers three reception rooms,
the smallest of which is at the front, and has great views to open countryside.
Now then, Phil, we're going to start with what might be your den.
This is what I'm thinking about.
In terms of size and space, I mean, something of a snug,
-a TV room or an office, whatever you want.
-It's not too big. It's good.
-Would this work?
-That means you're not allowed in here.
-You've got it.
-You probably wouldn't get a look-in here.
-It's fine, maybe there's something for me!
-Oh, yeah, follow me through here.
Right, Diane, this could be just for you,
but actually this is the bit that you've got to share, really.
Your main family room, reception room, call it what you will.
Nice working fireplace there.
-It's very nice and bright as well, isn't it?
It's a very amenable space, this.
You could make this quite contemporary if you wanted to
or go with the country Victorian, which is what they've got here.
-Comfy Victorian is what I like.
-Comfy Victorian? OK.
Comfy, country Victorian, there you go.
-Let's see if the kitchen matches up.
-A new catchphrase.
-There, Diane. What do you think?
-This is great.
The thing that really struck me when I first came in was the floor.
-Where else do you get flags like that?
-It's like my grandmother's flagstone kitchen floor.
-You've got the range, that's very nice.
In terms of a kitchen on its own, it's not bad.
So where do we put the sofa? Come and look at this.
This is the latest extension, that's really made it work, I think.
It's a lovely room, and what a surprise when you come through here.
Yes, and a dining table and doors out to the garden.
Off of it, we have quite a generous larder/utility room.
-You've got loads of space.
-Store the jams in there.
-Your jams, chutneys, wine.
'With positive reactions from both parties on the ground floor,
'it's time to head upstairs.
'There are four double bedrooms here, including two at the front.
'Both are light and airy
'and there's another double at the rear
'adjacent to the family bathroom.
'Next up, we're going to take a look at the largest bedroom.'
This is currently designated as the master.
It's quite busy, because you've got all this free-standing storage.
Again, another lovely window with a view of the village beyond.
-Will it work?
-It's bigger than the room we've got at the moment.
-It certainly is.
-Let's finish off in the garden.
-It's a little bit higher again.
-We can indulge the view and see what you've got out there. After you.
'As we make our way downstairs, back through the house,
'it gives our buyers the opportunity
'to reflect on what this delightful property has to offer,
'both on the inside and outside.
'The south-facing garden may not stretch to pigs,
'but there's certainly enough room for a few chickens.'
Let's get down to the basics and talk about money.
Go on, Phil, what do you think this is on the market for?
-I'm thinking just below £400,000.
-435. Well, you could now afford £435,000,
-because you've upped your budget by 50,000 to 450.
You've come in at £400,000, which is where you were before you got the extra cash.
-The good news is that this is less than that.
-This is 357,500.
It just goes to show you what you can get.
-That ticks a lot of boxes, then.
-Doesn't it just! I thought it might.
Go and have a good old explore.
Why not start with the chickens and I'll catch up with you later.
Yeah, off you go. Grab an apple, why not?
We are in Somerset, home of apples after all.
And, of course, cider. You never know, we might be drinking that if we celebrate the sale of this one.
As a first property, it's turned out to be a pretty good start.
Nearly £100,000 under budget,
this semi-detached property is great value,
considering it meets most of Phil and Diane's requirements.
With four bedrooms and three reception rooms,
there are plenty of options for both an art studio and a getaway den.
There's a large kitchen/diner
and a manageable garden with a ready-made chicken enclosure
and it's set in a prime position to make the most of the rural views.
With no building work to do, our first property could help them
realise their longstanding dream of a country lifestyle straight away.
The price is amazing. I'm so impressed with that.
The flow of the rooms would actually work for us as well.
The garden isn't as much land as we thought we wanted,
but I think we could work it, and maybe that's the project.
It's certainly a contender.
You suggested the room downstairs but I fancy this room.
It's unusual, isn't it?
It's a lovely Victorian place,
what we're used to and what I like.
It's nicely proportioned and clean.
There's a lot of house here for the price that's offered
and plenty of scope in the back garden
and the views are to die for, they're lovely.
Ah, out you come.
-Had a good old explore, Phil?
It's a pretty good start and a good example of the value of money that Somerset has to offer you.
-It's very interesting.
-And it's only the first one.
Let's see more.
The view from our first property
looks out towards the beautiful, rural Blackdown Hills,
which cover an area of around 230 square miles
across the border of Somerset and Devon.
There are no towns here.
Peaceful picturesque villages such as Staple Fitzpaine
with a small population of 150 people.
But what it lacks in size
it makes up for in character, being full of historic properties.
During the week, Phil and Diane met up with former resident Gill Cooper
at the impressive Grade I-listed Norman Church of St Peter.
It was originally built in the 1200s,
but in the 1400s with the prosperity of wool and a wealthy landowner,
they decided to rebuild the church tower
and they built this magnificent Somerset church tower.
The towers were built as a landmark,
but also to house the bells and also to show the prosperity.
-An indicator of wealth?
There's obviously some gargoyles or something up there.
I'm glad you noticed those.
They're not actually gargoyles, they're called hunky punks.
They're little creatures that live at the top of Somerset church towers
and they're very special.
-And they're all different?
They're not religious. They're more likely to be pagan images.
Another features in the Blackdowns is the network of ancient hedgerows,
which total over 5,000 miles.
Hedgerows not only enclose stock and provide shelter,
they're a valuable natural habitat supporting a spectrum of species.
They make a great place to find edible treats,
perfect for Diane's preserve-making passion.
With that in mind, they've come for a foraging lesson with wild food expert John Wright.
-Hi. I hear you want to do a bit of foraging, a bit of hedgerow harvesting.
-Love to, yeah.
There's lot to be found and the best place is along the roadside.
A lot of the best things grow there.
It's nice and light, and often cut back in the spring so things grow up fresh.
John, I love making chutneys, jams and marmalade,
is there anything we'll find today that I could make something out of?
It's a funny time of year, we're in the middle of July,
-but there's soft fruit. I don't know if you can make anything from soft fruit.
-Let's see what we can find.
-Fantastic. Let's go!
Autumn is generally the best season to find a variety of fruit and nuts ready for harvest
such as blackberries, which are delicious in pies,
elderberries, which can be turned into wine,
and sloes for gin.
When foraging, be careful never to eat anything
if you're not certain of its exact identity.
Also be sure to vary your location so the plants can rejuvenate
and remember to leave something for the wildlife, who need food to see them through the winter.
Hey, look at this.
This is the best thing. If there's one thing I hoped we'd find today, it's these.
-These are wild strawberries.
-Have you seen them before?
-No. Can we try one?
You want to try one? I was going to try one. You try, go on.
I'll let you!
-Are you going to have one?
I'll have one too.
-What an intense flavour.
-It is an intense flavour, yeah.
-It hits the spot, doesn't it?
There's lots of them here. Shall we collect?
-I don't think we're going to fill my basket.
-No, not today.
-I'll put them in my hat, how about that?
-They're so ripe.
-That looks good.
-You keep finding them hiding under the leaves.
We're not doing too bad.
Today's bounty may not fill a basket,
but they'll be spoilt for choice here by the autumn.
Time to get back to the hunt
to see if we can find a property that's ripe for picking.
For our next stop, we're heading to Barrington,
staying in the outskirts of the Blackdown Hills.
It's a conservation village
situated in the fruit-growing area of the county
with a pub and a 13th-century church
featuring an unusual octagonal tower.
This is an ideal rural spot full of period houses,
many of which are built from ham stone and cob,
with native reeds employed in pretty thatched rooves.
Our next house dates back to the early 1800s
and is now a large and beautiful family home
which is attached to a smaller cottage that lies to the rear.
Right, guys, here's our second property to feast your eyes on.
-What do you think?
I love the brick and the stone.
It has been renovated to a very high standard.
"Embellished" is the word I'd use.
But, as ever, it depends on what you think of it.
-Make less work for me.
-Don't think you've got off lightly. I've got plenty for you to do.
'This pretty, 19th-century farmhouse has made an impression.
'Let's hope the interior lives up to expectations, starting with the main sitting room.'
-That's a wood burner.
-That is a wood burner.
Pretty special. Quite a contemporary feel, all this.
-It is very, very nice that.
-That feels nice.
And this flooring goes throughout and really joins it altogether.
Are we higher up the scale of interesting?
-For me, yes, because it's got that much more space.
-So our first impressions are better?
I always hope they go up as we go through the houses.
Come and follow me through here, because you'll like this.
OK, Diane. What do you reckon?
-That's a fireplace, too.
And the beams and they are not low!
Not low. Not dark.
-And brick, have you seen this, Phil?
A lovely space, isn't it?
A nice big room, I love it.
-I get the sense, Phil, you're more encouraged with this one.
-I'm really going for this.
There is more of 'em. Everything is orientated towards the back of the house
which is this way, as is the kitchen.
Now then, Diane, is this going to work for you?
-Can you rustle something up in here?
-I think I could.
-I think I could.
-It's nice, isn't it? I love this big stone wall here.
Presumably, at one point, was the old external wall of the building.
This has been added on, later on. But done in a way which I think is really, really smart.
-You're really excited.
He is. He's going like... and I'm just going, "um".
Well, the enthusiasm seems to be building on the ground floor
which has a large useful utility room as well as a games room
and timber frame conservatory.
'With the excitement brimming, time to tour the first floor where there are three bedrooms.
'There's a large double,
'a good sized single
'and an impressive family bathroom with separate shower and whirlpool bath.'
There you are, right next door to that huge bathroom, you have this.
-A lovely window.
Sweet, isn't it?
A fireplace there.
Not quite square. You've got roof line coming through there,
but plenty of room for this freestanding storage.
So I think you'd accommodate most of what you would need.
I think you are out of a job, Philly!
I've no work to do.
I have got plenty of work for you to do.
-You keep saying that.
-Come on, I'll show you.
-All right, let's go.
'We're heading back downstairs through the kitchen
'which takes us out to the back garden.
'Immediately to the rear is a large paved patio which leads down
'to the formal lawned area.'
There's a vegetable patch and lots of fruit trees for Diane's jams and chutneys.
The range of outbuildings includes a large workshop and stables
and with Phil's trained architect's eye, he should be able to work some magic.
Now you also said you wanted a view.
-So there you go.
-It has sort of got it all, really, hasn't it?
I am scared silly, I don't know what the price is going to be.
One thing that's going to have an influence on the price
isn't the fact that you get the house, the lovely lawn
-and the outbuildings and all the rest of it. You also get this paddock.
All in whole lot the whole thing is 2.35 acres to be precise.
If you want to go down the pig route or sheep or chickens or whatever,
you have got plenty of space out there.
-Come on, Diane, make me an offer.
-I think it's going to be about 550,000.
-I am going to be cheeky and say 465.
You are both wrong!
-It is on the market for £479,500.
I hope you will accept my apologies
for showing you something over budget, but I think this is a good one.
Oh, it is amazing.
-Am I forgiven?
Good. Oh, look, oh!
Go on, go and have a look around. I'll catch you later.
Over budget at £479,500,
our second offering is a highly attractive detached period farmhouse
that comes with everything our buyers specified, and more.
It has three bedrooms, three receptions
and a beautiful kitchen/diner.
The house is immaculately presented,
with plenty to keep them occupied in over two acres of grounds,
complete with several outbuildings to renovate.
This place has quite obviously touched Phil and Diane emotionally,
which is THE most important thing when house-hunting.
But will that be enough to allow them to stretch beyond their budget?
This house was amazing - lots of textures and natural materials.
It's everything that I wanted out of a house.
I loved it, all the way through, every room.
I'm just blown away with the style,
the size of it,
and the garden.
This kitchen is unbelievable.
And to still have those projects outside, it's fantastic.
I can't believe you found a house like this for us.
It's so perfect.
This would be a fantastic workshop - the space to do what you like.
Yes. It's interesting with the light panels, as well, isn't it?
You've got some...
Ah-ha! I've caught you plotting and scheming!
It's all going on, isn't it?
This place has clearly had a profound effect on both of you.
-So many opportunities.
So many. It's not over yet -
there's one more property to come - the mystery house.
But this one is going to take some beating, I suspect.
-This is amazing.
Come on, I'm going to drag you away.
And, as the sun sets on a day of high emotion,
the first stage of our house-hunting journey draws to a close.
Still to come, eyes are widening in the mystery house.
Show me more!
Show you more!
'And I'll be getting all primitive back in the 1st Century.'
As you can see, a glorious start to our final day's house-hunting
here in the West Country, with Phil and with Diane.
Yesterday they certainly enjoyed our first property,
but they both adored the second one.
It even brought tears of joy from Diane.
So clearly, our final property, the mystery house,
has a lot to compete with.
Two things they said they didn't want were new-build
and pretty little chocolate-box cottages.
So, it's the mystery house. Let's test them with this one.
Well, guys, here we are.
It's our final journey to our final house.
It's all gone pretty quickly, it seems.
It certainly has.
We're heading further south than we have previously,
down towards the coast.
Diane was born by the sea
and the call of the ocean is another factor spurring this move.
Our final destination is the village of Abbotsbury,
across the border in Dorset, right on the outstanding Jurassic coast.
Abbotsbury is a beautiful and historic village
surrounded by magnificent rolling countryside.
It's set in the hills behind the 18-mile stretch
of pebble shoreline, known as Chesil Beach,
and is overlooked by the 15th-century St Catherine's Chapel.
The majority of the village has been in the care of the Ilchester Estate
for 500 years, and their conservation policies, along with a proud community,
ensures that Abbotsbury continues to reflect its 1,000-year-old heritage.
Right then, Diane.
Come here, Phil.
-There's the mystery house.
I was worried about this one because you did say,
"We don't want chocolate-box and we don't want new-build."
Mm, and this is both.
-This is both.
Can you see, in the wall there, it says 2006.
-It's brand new.
-It's brand new.
But built of local Purbeck and Abbotsbury stone.
-Come on, let's go and have a look.
'The mystery house is a semi-detached thatched cottage
'right in the heart of the village.
'It combines all the charm of a character property
'with the benefits of modern day conveniences.'
Right, in you come. Watch your head on the lamp!
Let's start in here.
There we go.
How about that for a kitchen/diner?
Come in, Phil, don't be shy.
-That's what you wanted.
-It certainly is.
-Show me more.
-Show me more!
The finish in here is something
that really sets the scene for the rest of the house, to be honest.
It had proportions of a modern building,
but it's wrapped up in this lovely looking old exterior.
So far, so good.
So far, so good.
Yeah? Right, follow me through here.
Just off the kitchen, you've got a really nice utility room.
Same sort of spec as the kitchen.
-And then this.
Can you see yourself?
You know, Sunday morning - Phil with a cup of coffee with the papers.
-Whatever the weather.
That's the way.
Anything for an easy life.
And views out to the garden, which we will explore at the end.
I love the colour of the stone.
-Yes, it's lovely.
The ground floor also has a large, light and pristine sitting room.
'Next, we're going upstairs
'to see what's on offer on the first floor,
'starting with the master bedroom.'
Come on in.
This is you guys, effectively.
Storage behind me, as you can see.
Again, we're on the front, so we've got beautiful views out.
Your en-suite is through that door there -
a basin, loo and shower.
OK, so enough, I suspect.
I'm not getting any wow out of Phil at the moment.
I'm struggling with the space, to be fair.
Yes, OK. What about Diane?
I'm fine with it. I'm absolutely fine.
To me, this is more a home, strangely.
I think, also, I get the feeling like a Disney set here.
A bit staged.
There are a further two double bedrooms upstairs,
one of which also sits at the front of the property,
again taking in that amazing view towards St Catherine's Chapel,
and out to sea.
On the other side of the hallway is the family bathroom.
'That concludes the tour inside,
'so it's back downstairs, through the conservatory, and out into the terrace garden.'
Whilst there's no room for pigs or chickens,
what is on offer is very beautifully done.
This is the very last layer, or level,
to your terraced garden.
That's the view.
Let's have a think about the money.
Our last time of asking.
You go first, Phil.
I wasn't ready for this!
Beautiful, beautiful house. A beautiful location.
It's very high spec.
I think it's got to be just slightly over our budget.
I think £460,000.
Well, all of the above, and the fact that it is so close to the sea,
I think that is fantastic,
but I think I'm going to say about £425,000.
Well, either those figures are affordable, I think,
should you want it, but, um...
..it's neither of them.
It's on the market for offers around or in excess of £420,000.
I think it's an interesting one,
and I think it certainly balances out what we've been able to show you
in terms of desirable location and so forth.
But it's up to you guys. Let the tussle continue.
Off you go. Go and explore and I'll catch up with you later.
Off you go.
Comfortably under budget by £30,000,
our mystery package is a stunning new-build thatched cottage,
with the visual appeal of a more historic property.
The first floor houses three bedrooms,
and on the ground floor there's a cosy conservatory,
as well as a large sitting room and a beautiful kitchen/diner.
The immaculate landscaped garden may not be suited to pigs and chickens,
but you do get the advantage of incredible breathtaking views
that come with this fantastic coastal location.
So, this was actually, for me, a great surprise.
We had hadn't thought about new properties, and we hadn't thought
that you could create an amazing thatch like this.
And I think the setting is amazing. I could see myself living here.
I think... I think it's very comfortable.
Sadly, I can't see a den in this house.
And maybe that's one of my difficulties.
I think it's a gorgeous environment around here.
Almost too perfect, I would say.
Well, that's it.
End of the mystery of the house.
End of all of our house tours.
All of the above?
Let's get you somewhere where you can mull it all over
and we'll see what you do with the rest of your lives.
Off you go!
'It's no secret that I have a passion for archaeology
'and, with over 11,500 known archaeological sites,
'Somerset is the perfect place to get my hands dirty.
'Earlier in the week, I visited a site ten miles from Bath called Blacklands
'where they've unearthed evidence of one of the earliest Roman villas in Britain.
'Educational officer Tavis Walker was on hand to tell me more.'
Behind us we've got a Roman villa footprint,
from an early phase of Romanisation.
What date are we talking about - 1st Century AD somewhere?
1st / 2nd Century AD.
Most of the larger villas in the area were built in the 3rd / 4th Century,
by professional builders - very fancy mosaics, underfloor heating.
Whereas this one, being an early structure,
it's almost a DIY - someone's built it themselves.
In the surrounding area we've got a number of Iron Age roundhouses.
It looks like these roundhouses were still standing
at the same time as this villa.
This illustration demonstrates what the Romano British farmstead
would probably have looked like in its full glory,
with a square colonnaded villa
featuring a stone tiled roof and two gate houses.
The whole thing represented a real leap forward in terms of providing
a much more organised and comfortable rural lifestyle.
The story we've put together from our finds,
it looks like, maybe during the early years of Roman Britain,
one of the local Iron Age occupants of this site
was living in one of the roundhouses in the area,
possibly joined the legions, served his 25 years.
So he comes back and says, "I don't want that.
"All these roundhouses, we've had it wrong.
"We're going to build a nice square villa". You can imagine that conversation!
You can imagine him coming home and thinking,
"I can't live like this any more."
-"What were we thinking?!"
Just metres from the villa footprint,
volunteers are digging out an Iron Age roundhouse
dating back to around 500 BC.
There is this joke amongst archaeologists that it is rubbish.
But that's what it's about - we're looking for everyday bits and pieces
that will tell a human story as to what life was all about here.
That's exactly the aim of archaeology,
and it's the rubbish, the everyday stuff, that gives the story.
'There are voluntary archaeological digs throughout the country
'so anyone can get involved.
'Digs have a great sense of community and they can also be very exciting.'
Ah, now, my endeavours are paying off.
What have we got here?
It looks like you have got a bit of pottery.
There it is. I nearly lost it! There we are.
Can you date that one?
Let's have a look. It looks like...
It's a small piece. It's probably Romano British greyware.
That's what you'd expect to find on a site like this.
Wonderful! I'm enjoying this. It's a while since I had a chance to dig.
I think I'll stick around!
We've got lots of jobs. We've even got a big, juicy cesspit over there!
We knew from the outset
that this was going to be a big lifestyle change for Phil and Diane.
They've already sold one house in the UK,
and they've also got one in Spain they're going to sell
to fund their future retirement back here in the UK.
We've shown them, I think, three viable properties,
but do we have a clear winner? Let's go and ask them.
Well, Phil, Diane, here we are on glorious Chesil Beach in Dorset.
We started in Somerset.
At the end of our journey, how have you found it?
Amazing. Really interesting.
It started with that 1900 late Victorian villa, semi-detached.
I thought it was nice.
We're very familiar with Victorian features. We loved it.
The view over the valley was fantastic.
The inside of the house was lovely. It flowed fantastically.
I thought the modern extensions have been done sympathetically.
In hindsight, the kitchen doesn't quite work for me.
I can't see ME cooking meals in there.
It doesn't quite flow the way that I would like it to do.
Then we took you to our second house,
which was just a spit up the road, just a few miles in it.
A lovely property, Diane.
Beautiful rooms. The size of the rooms.
The modernisation to the house had been done very, very well.
The textures and the materials were just perfect.
It was everything that we probably aspire to.
Those outbuildings certainly fired your imagination.
There was so many options.
I thought that was a terrific house on which to end our first day.
It certainly ended on a high for all of us.
I realised the mystery house was going to have a lot of competition.
It has absolutely everything, and to be this close to the sea,
for me, that was fantastic. What a surprise though, yeah.
A thatched roof!
You see, a new one!
New build, whoa!
But I loved it. I thought we would be very, very comfortable there.
Phil, wasn't quite so sure.
Tell us your reservations.
First of all, I was a little concerned
about the lack of space in the house itself.
Incredibly clean - I'd be scared of putting a foot wrong in there.
What happens next? Have we persuaded you to buy any one of them?
I think later on this afternoon we'll be contacting the agent
on house number two to see if we can actually put an offer in.
I am absolutely delighted.
You never quite know at the beginning of a house search
how it's going to go, but you've been great fun.
I'm delighted we've been able to show you
three very interesting and very inspiring properties.
Best of luck. It's been a pleasure.
Thank you ever so much. It's been wonderful.
You know when the weather is like this,
you can't blame anybody for wanting to make the West Country their home.
I love house-hunting down here, as do Phil and Diane.
We've given them three fantastic houses to choose from,
but I suspect from the outset there was only one clear winner.
They've yet to buy it - it is over budget, but I think they will,
and I suspect Phil's retirement is going straight out of the window!
I'll see you next time.
Phil and Diane made an offer on the second property of £450,000,
which was rejected.
They upped their offer by £20,000,
and I am delighted to say that it has been accepted.
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