Sussex Escape to the Country


Sussex

Denise Nurse helps a family swap city living for a life in rural Sussex. Land is the all-important ingredient as they are hoping to set up a fitness boot camp business.


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Transcript


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"That's she, the only she. Make an honest woman of her, quick."

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That was the reaction of one of England's most famous 19th and 20th century's writers

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on first seeing this stunning Jacobean property.

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Who was he, and where am I? Find out in just a moment.

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In today's show, I'll be helping a dynamic couple

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swap city living for a breath of fresh air in the country.

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But it comes with its challenges.

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Would you have to do a lot of work here?

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-WOMAN: No, I... MAN:

-Yes.

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So we resort to shock tactics.

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-What?!

-Wow!

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You're joking?

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And the mystery house gets the ultimate reaction.

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Wow.

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And a "wow" from Nick.

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Today, I'm in Sussex, and this is Bateman's,

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the former home of Rudyard Kipling.

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Now, suffering from a serious case of love at first sight,

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Kipling bought this house in 1902 for the princely sum of £9,300.

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Both the house and the grounds became a place

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of inspiration and sanctuary for the world-famous author.

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He spent 34 happy years here,

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surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Sussex.

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Neighbouring Kent, Surrey and Hampshire,

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Sussex's borders are home to over 600 square miles

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of undulating rural landscape.

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And since April, 2010, the county formally encompasses the South Downs National Park,

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stretching as far as the yawning chalky cliffs at Beachy Head,

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near Eastbourne.

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Besides a geological history spanning some 40 million years,

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the date of 1066 is inextricably linked with this county,

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as it was at Hastings, the Normans sealed their victory,

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the architectural remains of their glory years

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surviving to this day in towns such as Lewes.

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There are plenty of period properties that echo the county's rich history,

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from elegant Georgian mansions, built in its naval heyday,

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to the classic red-brick, tile-hung and weather-boarded houses.

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In terms of property, West Sussex is the seventh most expensive county in England,

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with prices an eye-watering 41% higher than the national average.

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Now, East Sussex is slightly cheaper, but the closer you are to mainline stations into London,

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the more expensive and desirable the properties become.

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In fact, in Sussex, properties are so desirable at times

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that they are sold within hours of going onto market.

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So, why don't you take a look at some of the properties on offer right now in Sussex,

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because they may not be for long.

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For £750,000, this three-bedroom, traditional Sussex cottage

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on the edge of Lurgashall

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has a wealth of historic features

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throughout its spacious reception rooms,

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all wrapped up in just over three quarters of an acre of gardens.

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This cottage in Bells Yew Green for £500,000

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is full of rustic period features

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that run throughout its comfortable reception areas,

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with its four bedrooms also offset by those exposed beams.

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For a slice of history from the 1800s, what about this four-bedroom converted schoolhouse in Fairlight?

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Priced at £350,000, its high ceilings and arched windows

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are impressive, with clean lines

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and light, bright rooms continuing upstairs.

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Some smashing Sussex properties there, and three more coming up.

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But will any of them tempt today's buyers?

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Well, only time will tell, so let's meet them.

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Nick, who runs his own IT company, and Sarah, a fitness instructor -

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along with their two children and dogs -

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have lived in their four-bedroom semi-detached home

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in Wimbledon, south-west London, for the past eight years,

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during which time they have completely renovated their property.

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The first night, I cried and said, "What have we done?" It was hideous, wasn't it? Absolutely horrific.

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And it's taken... Well, it's taken seven years, hasn't it, to sort of get it together?

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And of course, typically for us, as soon as we've finished it, we want to move.

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Although Nick's a self-confessed urbanite,

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he's had a change of heart.

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I always thought I was a city boy,

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and wanted to stay in the city, but I've come around to the idea

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that it would be fantastic to move out and have a lot more space.

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But his decision has come after a lot of persuasion from Sarah.

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I've spent the last two years getting brochures, and selling it, basically.

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And she has her reasons.

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Basically, Gabby's nearly 11, and you know, we live in a nice area,

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but I can't open the front door and the kids can't run out

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and have the freedom that I had when I was a kid.

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I tend to run around like an absolute lunatic around London, as does Nick,

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and I think we need that time with the kids to just be a family

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and to spend more time with each other, doing simple things, really.

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At least they can agree on HOW they're going to spend their time.

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I used to cycle quite a lot - a lot of mountain biking when it was first invented.

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So, I'd like to do that again with the kids as they grow up.

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I'd like to...kind of relax a bit as well,

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because being in the city, being so connected to work...

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I'll have him working in the garden, because I want a big garden, you see?

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That's my plan. SHE LAUGHS

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Sarah currently has her own gym, but with this move, she wants to go bigger.

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What I want to do is set up fitness boot camps, training camps, in and around Sussex.

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They're united on looking in Sussex villages

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with good train access to London for Nick,

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but can they agree on the house?

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I can't stand twee, or low ceilings.

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-Or, in fact, wobbly houses, so...

-I like wobbly houses.

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When we're looking for character,

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I'm not looking for a low-ceiling, beamed house.

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You see, I love that.

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That's because you're short.

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Because I'm 5'4", and he's 6'1".

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So I love, and I'm obsessed with all the sort of...

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not mock Tudor, but real Tudor, and real, old character.

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But that's where the big problem is. He absolutely hates it.

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You know, I do know what Nick wants and needs

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for where we're going to live,

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and equally, you know what I want and need, too.

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The next property needs to have four bedrooms,

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I guess two reception rooms.

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Well, my absolute must-have is a really big garden.

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That's really important to me -

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no less than three quarters of an acre.

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At the moment, they're planning on renting out their current property,

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so how much do they have to spend for their move?

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The budget is £500,000. There's a little bit of flexibility there.

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It's pretty obvious that Sarah is the driving force behind the family's decision to quit city life.

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It has taken her five long years to convince confirmed urbanite, Nick,

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to leave his beloved London behind forever.

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It's also perfectly apparent that after a tearful and shaky start,

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they both now love their house in Wimbledon so much,

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they want to keep it and rent it out.

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But we also know that they've chosen to move to a very expensive part of the country.

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And whilst they're both willing - even eager - to take on a project,

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I am extremely worried that their half-a-million-pound budget

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still won't be enough to get them everything they want.

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So, something is going to have to give.

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They've since decided to put their house on the market,

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which now arms them with a generous budget of £750,000.

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So, with that, and their need to have road and rail access to London in mind,

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we're basing Nick and Sarah's property search in East Sussex,

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where they'll get a bit more for their money

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than they would over the border in West Sussex.

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We've found three gorgeous family homes to show them,

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but I won't be revealing the price tag of each

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until they've had a guess first. The last is our mystery house,

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which adds a totally different dimension to their search.

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Good morning, guys. Glad to see you've made it to leafy Sussex.

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-Only five years it took you to get here.

-Yes!

-How are you feeling, Nick?

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Really good.

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-Not too worried about making this big move?

-Not at all, no.

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Sussex is commutable to London, but that does make it very popular with ex-city people,

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and therefore one of the more expensive places in the country.

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I also know it's a big step for you and it shows your commitment

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to making this move and changing your family's whole lifestyle.

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It is a bit scary, but we're ready for it.

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You're ready to let go of Wimbledon?

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I think so.

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While you're in that mood, let's not spend any more time talking about it and go and see some properties!

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With a budget of £750,000,

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Nick and Sarah are after a detached property,

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with high ceilings for him, but rustic beams for her.

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Also on the wish list

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is a large family kitchen, four bedrooms,

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at least three quarters of an acre garden,

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with the scope for a gym, music room and ideally,

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space for Sarah to realise her boot camp idea.

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And it must be located near schools

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and a mainline train station

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for Nick's commute into London.

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For our first property, we're heading to the village of Pett,

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with an array of attractive period housing stock

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and its own farm shop.

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They can take in the sea air with the beach only half a mile away.

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And among the selection of period properties

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is this Arts and Crafts house, built at the end of the 1920s.

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This is the first property.

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Wow, that is big!

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That was a "wow". Nick?

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That's quite funny, it's like the house I used to live in when I was a kid.

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-Really?!

-It is, isn't it?

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-Ah!

-It looks like it's going to have high ceilings as well, I think.

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You lucky boy!

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I get the feeling you're going to like it here.

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-I'm just staring at it now.

-Let's see if you like the inside.

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There's no doubt that our property has impressed them at the outset.

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Let's hope those high spirits continue inside.

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In we come.

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Very, very big hallway, as you'd expect with a house this size.

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I love big hallways.

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-It's fantastic.

-So, come through to your formal living room.

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It's lovely, it's lovely.

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-It's a good size.

-I think it's great.

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It's got a lovely atmosphere about it. I really like it.

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And does it fit your style?

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I know you two spent a lot of time in Wimbledon,

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re-doing it and making it the way you want it.

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Would you have to do a lot of work here?

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-No, I...

-Yes.

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LAUGHTER

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Love it!

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Wow, what different reactions. While Sarah is fizzing with excitement,

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Nick's being more level-headed.

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But maybe there's a project next door

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that they'd both be happy to take on.

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-Hmm...

-It's a bit small.

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That's how I thought you were going to react.

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Yeah, it's a bit small.

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-What's that out there?

-Good question. Let's move forward.

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There's potential, of course there is.

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Would we show you a kitchen that was too small without an option?

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Of course not! Here, this little extra section is essentially a utility space.

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However, we've already spoken to the local council and the planners,

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and you wouldn't need planning permission if you went four metres and did a single storey...

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-Really?

-..from here, out.

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-Wow, that's quite far.

-That would take you to the edge there.

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-That would make it the size that we would want it to be.

-There you go.

-Well done! Very good.

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So, taking that into consideration...

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It's really big.

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-..what do you think of this kitchen, or the potential for this kitchen?

-I think it's all right, now!

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And they've got more reception areas on the other side of the hallway,

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with a second smart sitting room

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and a third room which Nick could use as his music den.

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The downstairs of this Arts and Crafts property

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has the period elegance and space they're looking for.

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And those generous proportions continue upstairs.

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Leading off the spacious landing are the five bedrooms -

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all well-decorated doubles and a very good size.

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What's more, there's a bathroom and separate shower room.

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But they should definitely claim this as their room.

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The reason I say this should be the master suite

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is because not only does it have a little dressing room tucked behind there,

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it also has an en-suite bathroom

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with bath and shower just over there.

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As you can see, they have so many bedrooms,

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-they're using this as a boudoir at the moment.

-Fantastic.

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Do you know what? I've always wanted a dressing room.

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Perhaps!

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So what are you thinking?

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-You'd like to keep this like that?

-Oh, yeah!

-Sorry, Nick.

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I'm not getting the vibe at the moment.

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I have to see it in its entirety, then I can start planning it all out.

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Well, hopefully seeing another master option might change his view.

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Now, look at this for a bedroom,

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and...that for a view.

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It's lovely, really lovely.

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-Are you feeling any warmer towards the property now?

-No.

-No?

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There's a sort of heart and there's a head thing going on.

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My heart's not in this one for the moment.

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I think this house is a fantastic opening gambit,

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that gives them the space and period character they asked for.

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And outside might convince Nick,

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as there's three quarters of an acre of tiered gardens,

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so lots of space for the dogs and children to roam in,

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with little secret corners tucked away among its mature trees.

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It's quite a unique setting, but does it work for them?

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We are up into the hills, which is why you get the wonderful views.

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How are you feeling about this type of garden?

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Well, I like it. I like the idea of levels

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and little, sort of secret areas to hide in and play around.

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What do you think?

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Well...

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-LAUGHTER

-I'm guessing if you say you like it, you've got a different opinion!

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It's, erm...

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Er, you know, it is quite a nice garden.

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It could be a bit flatter, maybe.

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I'm going to sound so picky, aren't I?

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No, but it's about what works for you.

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Now you've seen the house and the garden and the views,

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have you made an opinion on how much you think it's worth?

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So, I think it's £695,000.

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-OK.

-And I think it's £650,000.

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There's a big difference there. Shall I put you out of your misery?

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BOTH: Yes.

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You're right. You win this round.

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-That's a surprise.

-It is on at £650,000.

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-Brilliant.

-So, it's a hundred grand under your budget,

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which does mean the changes we talked about in the house are do-able.

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-Go and spend some time in the house, and I'll see you later.

-We will do.

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Under budget at £650,000, perhaps the £100,000 saving

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will persuade Nick to warm to this Arts and Crafts house.

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It's a great proposition,

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giving them four large reception areas,

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a kitchen ripe for extension

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with the money they have left over,

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five bedrooms with a potential master suite,

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three quarters of an acre of grounds,

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and a spectacular rural location,

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but with a mainline train station

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in nearby Hastings,

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giving Nick only an

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hour and a half's commute to London.

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When I first saw it, I thought, "Wow, that's amazing."

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The location was fantastic, the house looked really impressive.

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In terms of all the things in this house that we've asked for -

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-large hallway...

-Yep, that's a tick.

-..nice living room...

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I like the garden, location's good. I'm just... I'm just not feeling it.

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-Hello.

-Hello.

-I've been taking in the view out here.

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Have you seen enough in there?

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-We have, we have.

-Yes.

-Let's keep going, then.

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Along with the spectacular hinterland of the South Downs National Park,

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Sussex also racks up an impressive coastline of 106 miles,

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where throughout its towns,

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the Normans wasted no time in making their architectural mark.

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Chichester in West Sussex is home to a prime example.

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Work on its imposing cathedral started in 1070,

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although much of what remains today dates back to the 1300s.

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Its medieval spire is reputedly the only one in the UK that can be seen from the sea,

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and is thought to have been used as a navigational aid.

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Chichester wears its architectural heritage on its sleeve,

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with over 500 listed buildings - many of them Georgian.

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But in many cases, it's only skin-deep.

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Earlier in the week, we sent Nick and Sarah

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to meet local guide, Colin Clark, to find out more.

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Are all the houses here Georgian?

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Not entirely, because it's rather deceiving.

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We've got Georgian frontages on many of the buildings that are, in fact, medieval.

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They were...sort of upgraded for status, as much as anything,

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during the 18th century.

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And many builders actually reveal timbers and things

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which date back way before the Georgian period.

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The 18th century was a time of commercial prosperity in the city,

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as grain and livestock were traded at market

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and taken to Portsmouth to supply the Naval fleet.

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A few miles from the city centre, Chichester harbour

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is a marine playground for wildlife and boat enthusiasts alike.

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And as Sarah and Nick have never flexed their sea legs before,

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we asked master sailor, Nick Jones,

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to give them a taste of life on the waves,

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although reservations seem to be creeping in.

0:17:280:17:31

Nick does get a little bit seasick. He might not admit that today.

0:17:310:17:36

I don't think he'll get seasick today.

0:17:360:17:38

It's quite flat and there's not too much wind,

0:17:380:17:41

so we should be able to cope with that.

0:17:410:17:44

So, with life jackets donned, it's time to put them through their paces.

0:17:440:17:48

What we're trying to do, Nick, basically, is keep the boat level.

0:17:480:17:53

It goes fastest when it's level.

0:17:530:17:55

-I think Nick's pretty much a natural.

-He's good, isn't he?

0:17:550:17:59

-Can you, er, crack open a few beers?

-I'm just trying to stay alive!

0:17:590:18:04

SHE SCREAMS

0:18:040:18:06

One of the key sailing skills is tacking, where you change direction

0:18:060:18:09

by turning the front - or bow - of the boat up through the wind.

0:18:090:18:13

In three, two, one, tacking now.

0:18:130:18:17

Good work.

0:18:220:18:23

Besides having such bracing activities on their doorstep,

0:18:250:18:29

I'm sure the spoils of Chichester have reassured city lover, Nick,

0:18:290:18:33

that Sussex can serve up the best of town, country and coast.

0:18:330:18:37

Our second property lies in the village of Brede,

0:18:430:18:46

within easy reach of Hastings and Rye, for schools and train stations.

0:18:460:18:50

Along with a church and shop, the village serves up a varied mix of character properties,

0:18:500:18:55

including this impressive 1930s house,

0:18:550:18:58

thoughtfully extended in the early 1990s.

0:18:580:19:01

And this is the second property.

0:19:020:19:05

-It's lovely.

-It's very nice.

0:19:050:19:07

Oh, my word!

0:19:070:19:09

It reminds me of something from when I was little.

0:19:090:19:12

It's the sort of thing that you always wanted to live in.

0:19:120:19:16

-It does. It looks homely.

-Homely, that's good.

0:19:160:19:19

A smile and a positive from Nick. I think we're doing well.

0:19:190:19:22

On that note, let's go inside.

0:19:220:19:24

How exciting that they both think this property makes a statement.

0:19:240:19:30

As there's plenty of parking space, Sarah could think about turning the car port into a mini gym.

0:19:300:19:35

Let's hope what they see inside sets their hearts racing.

0:19:350:19:39

Right, straight through here we have another big entrance hallway.

0:19:410:19:46

I thought this was a lounge. I thought we'd go straight into the lounge from the front.

0:19:460:19:52

This is a really great hallway.

0:19:520:19:53

-A nice surprise for you, then?

-Yeah.

-Yeah, it's good. It's big.

-Good.

0:19:530:19:58

Voila!

0:20:000:20:01

-Le kitchen, what do you think?

-I like it!

0:20:010:20:04

Definitely better than the other one.

0:20:040:20:07

LAUGHTER I love those windows.

0:20:070:20:09

This is all reclaimed brick. I think the windows are lovely,

0:20:090:20:12

and the sun's coming through and they're letting in all that lovely light,

0:20:120:20:16

so it's really brightening up.

0:20:160:20:18

It's got a really nice atmosphere about it.

0:20:180:20:20

And just over there, you've got a utility room,

0:20:200:20:23

so more storage space, a door for the dogs, and a downstairs loo.

0:20:230:20:27

BOTH: Great.

0:20:270:20:29

-We said "great" at the same time!

-You did!

0:20:290:20:32

I'm hoping that's a good omen and you both really like it,

0:20:320:20:35

-so a good start all round. Let's keep going.

-Absolutely.

0:20:350:20:39

Perfect harmony, at last.

0:20:390:20:41

I hope we can build on that in the main reception room.

0:20:410:20:44

It's nice. It's a really nicely done room, too.

0:20:440:20:48

-It's cosy, isn't it?

-Do you like it? ..(He likes it.)

0:20:480:20:51

I can't believe it, I know! I don't want to say it out loud.

0:20:510:20:55

I don't want to ask any questions in case you change your mind.

0:20:550:20:59

-Just tell me what you like about it, Nick.

-Um...

0:20:590:21:01

It's a good size,

0:21:010:21:04

nice and bright, um...

0:21:040:21:07

-Yep!

-Oh, you looked up, then!

0:21:080:21:10

-I was waiting for that.

-I knew there'd be something.

0:21:100:21:13

That's it, but it's just the ceiling, so...

0:21:130:21:15

I can see Nick's going to be a tough cookie to please until we get those ceilings right,

0:21:150:21:22

but there is the square footage, with a separate dining room

0:21:220:21:25

giving them a third light living area to adapt as they see fit.

0:21:250:21:29

And the fresh, modern style continues upstairs,

0:21:290:21:32

throughout its six bedrooms, and the first stop is the master.

0:21:320:21:36

This one is the master suite because you do have an en-suite bathroom.

0:21:370:21:42

You've got lovely storage, here.

0:21:420:21:44

Lots of space for you, but is it big enough for you, Nick?

0:21:440:21:48

This is a really good size room. No, it's good. I think it's working.

0:21:480:21:51

What do you think, Sarah?

0:21:510:21:53

You know me, Denise, I really like it.

0:21:530:21:55

-Silly question - "I love it!"

-I think it's lovely.

0:21:550:21:58

You could just move in and not have to do anything.

0:21:580:22:01

-I wouldn't do anything.

-Amazing.

-It's never happened, ever.

0:22:010:22:04

The remaining five bedrooms are just as tastefully furnished,

0:22:040:22:09

and include two lovely, light doubles and two smaller rooms,

0:22:090:22:12

one with built-in cupboards, and an ingenious little single

0:22:120:22:16

with storage and a skylight.

0:22:160:22:17

The Victorian-style family bathroom has a fabulous roll-top bath,

0:22:190:22:23

and there's a separate, sleek shower room.

0:22:230:22:26

I think the contemporary interior has reassured Nick that a country home doesn't have to be twee.

0:22:260:22:32

And they're excited by the fact that they could move straight in.

0:22:320:22:36

Let's head outside and see if the garden scores as highly.

0:22:360:22:40

Right, here we are, out in the garden.

0:22:400:22:42

Is it flat enough for you, Nick?

0:22:420:22:44

That's a lot flatter. You can play football on this one!

0:22:440:22:47

You can, they're even ready for you!

0:22:470:22:49

What about the size? Does it work for you?

0:22:490:22:52

Yeah, it's a lot better.

0:22:520:22:53

-Would you like your garden any bigger than this?

-Say yes.

-Yes!

0:22:530:22:57

-Good! Because all of that is yours as well.

-You're joking? No!

0:22:570:23:01

LAUGHTER

0:23:010:23:02

Now that is... Wow! That is fantastic.

0:23:020:23:07

-Are you ready for a little bit more?

-How much of that...? ..What?

0:23:070:23:10

-It's not just that little bit there. You see that little woodland there?

-Really?!

0:23:100:23:14

And guess what's at the back behind there?

0:23:140:23:17

I don't know!

0:23:170:23:18

A little stream!

0:23:180:23:19

Oh!

0:23:190:23:21

NICK LAUGHS

0:23:210:23:22

SHE SOBS Sorry!

0:23:220:23:25

Don't be sorry!

0:23:250:23:26

Are you all right?

0:23:260:23:28

It's just...perfect.

0:23:280:23:30

It's perfect. I can't believe this.

0:23:300:23:33

Sorry, Nick.

0:23:330:23:34

I'm just blown away. Blown away, I can't believe it.

0:23:360:23:39

I don't know if you're ready for any more.

0:23:390:23:41

There's not more?

0:23:410:23:42

-There's a little bit more!

-You're joking?

0:23:420:23:45

It wraps round a bit, and there's enough space there -

0:23:450:23:48

the current owners have got planning permission -

0:23:480:23:51

-they were going to build a stable block with a tack room.

-No?

-Wow!

0:23:510:23:55

Mmm. At a cost of about £80,000 to £90,000,

0:23:550:23:59

so it's a substantial plot and building.

0:23:590:24:02

And all in all here, you have three-and-a-half acres.

0:24:020:24:05

-Wow.

-What?!

0:24:050:24:07

You're joking!

0:24:070:24:09

Well, I just cannot... I just can't believe it.

0:24:090:24:12

-I was thinking about the boot camp.

-You're absolutely right.

0:24:120:24:15

To develop that would be absolutely magnificent.

0:24:150:24:18

It's what I've always wanted to do.

0:24:180:24:21

-Nick, is it enough to win you over?

-I'm going to have to think hard about this one!

0:24:210:24:25

And now the wife's burst into tears!

0:24:250:24:28

All right, now, you've seen it all,

0:24:280:24:31

but how much do you think you'd have to pay?

0:24:310:24:34

I think it's going to be the full monty. For your dream home...

0:24:340:24:37

-Without a doubt.

-£750,000.

-If not a bit above our budget.

0:24:370:24:42

-So you're going for £750,000?

-Yeah.

-I'm going £765,000.

0:24:420:24:47

Put us out of our misery.

0:24:470:24:48

Yes, put us out of our misery.

0:24:480:24:50

You win this time.

0:24:500:24:52

It's on at £750,000.

0:24:520:24:55

-Right at at the top of your budget.

-Yeah.

0:24:550:24:57

Have a think, take it all in,

0:24:570:24:59

maybe explore some of those acres!

0:24:590:25:02

-I'm going to!

-Great, let's go.

-I'll find you.

0:25:020:25:04

Wow! Our 1930s property has blown them away,

0:25:050:25:09

and in Sarah's words, is "perfect".

0:25:090:25:11

It may be priced at the top of their budget,

0:25:110:25:14

but for £750,000, they get a substantial family home

0:25:140:25:18

and they wouldn't have to lift a finger.

0:25:180:25:21

It features three light, airy reception areas,

0:25:210:25:24

a large kitchen-diner,

0:25:240:25:26

six bedrooms with a master en-suite,

0:25:260:25:28

and over three-and-a-half acres

0:25:280:25:30

of garden, woodland and a stream,

0:25:300:25:32

all of which bowled Sarah over,

0:25:320:25:34

and gives her the scope

0:25:340:25:36

to develop her boot camp business.

0:25:360:25:39

-There's a lot of potential, isn't there?

-It really is, and it's gorgeous as well.

0:25:390:25:43

It's beautiful - the stream, everything. Everything.

0:25:430:25:46

I'm so excited, I just... I just can't believe it, it's perfect.

0:25:460:25:49

The additional bonus that this house is on this land, is quite incredible,

0:25:490:25:53

because if this had been a derelict house on this land,

0:25:530:25:56

I still would have been really tempted.

0:25:560:25:58

But the fact that this house is done beautifully

0:25:580:26:01

just makes it so much easier.

0:26:010:26:03

I know Sarah really, really likes the house, I can tell that.

0:26:030:26:07

Um...so I guess that means it's all up to me, doesn't it?

0:26:070:26:10

I'm saying the head's really thinking this one through,

0:26:100:26:15

the heart - I have to say - it isn't the one that I sort of fell in love with straight away.

0:26:150:26:19

I rarely do that, though.

0:26:190:26:21

Right, that's it. I've got to drag you out of there, I'm afraid.

0:26:220:26:26

Yeah, you have.

0:26:260:26:28

But that's it for today. Come on.

0:26:280:26:30

As the sun sets over the Sussex countryside,

0:26:420:26:45

it marks the end of the first day of our property search.

0:26:450:26:48

It's taken five years, but Sarah has finally convinced Nick to leave the capital

0:26:540:26:59

and head for pastures new in Sussex with their children,

0:26:590:27:03

So far, one of our properties has completely bowled her over...

0:27:030:27:07

It's just...perfect. It's perfect.

0:27:070:27:10

..but can our mystery house turn the tables?

0:27:100:27:14

I'm getting nervous...

0:27:140:27:16

because I'm not used to this.

0:27:160:27:19

It's always been apparent that Nick is much more reticent about this move to Sussex,

0:27:240:27:28

whereas Sarah, she just fell in love with our second house yesterday.

0:27:280:27:32

So, one more to go.

0:27:320:27:34

Let's see if the mystery house can provoke some emotion from Nick.

0:27:340:27:38

Our mystery property takes us to the village of Mayfield.

0:27:400:27:43

Along with great schools in the area,

0:27:430:27:45

Nick would have just a ten-minute drive

0:27:450:27:48

to Wadhurst or Stonegate

0:27:480:27:49

with just over an hour's train journey into London.

0:27:490:27:52

Mayfield's streets are spilling over with charming pubs,

0:27:520:27:56

boutiques and independent food retailers.

0:27:560:27:59

Our mystery house is a less practical option than they've seen so far,

0:27:590:28:03

with fewer bedrooms, quirky features, and plenty of beams.

0:28:030:28:08

I'll be amazed if Nick goes for it.

0:28:080:28:11

And our mystery house.

0:28:110:28:12

-I like that.

-Wow!

0:28:130:28:15

And a "wow" from Nick! Oh, my word!

0:28:150:28:18

It's an oast house, 200 years old,

0:28:180:28:20

and it was only converted 65 years ago.

0:28:200:28:23

I like that. It's cute, isn't it?

0:28:230:28:25

-It makes a statement.

-It does.

0:28:250:28:27

Good! Let's have a look inside.

0:28:270:28:29

Well, Nick has shown a really strong emotional reaction to the unique character of the oast house,

0:28:310:28:37

built in the early 19th century for drying hops,

0:28:370:28:40

with its conical roofs and circular kilns,

0:28:400:28:42

which are still defining features of its rooms inside.

0:28:420:28:47

So, on this side, you have your kitchen.

0:28:470:28:50

Oh, silence!

0:28:510:28:53

It's a very nice kitchen.

0:28:530:28:54

I think it's the height of the ceiling, Denise.

0:28:540:28:57

Ah, of course!

0:28:570:28:58

No, I like the way it's done out, and I like...

0:28:580:29:01

Yeah, no, it's very nice.

0:29:010:29:02

I love the shape of it. I love round rooms - it's just really different.

0:29:020:29:06

And that is not a cupboard door, that is actually the utility space.

0:29:060:29:10

It's a good size and there's a little downstairs toilet in there as well.

0:29:100:29:14

-I know that you want a family kitchen.

-Yeah.

0:29:140:29:17

There's not an obvious amount of room here for the children.

0:29:170:29:20

-Would that bother you?

-It's definitely a consideration.

0:29:200:29:24

Let's hope our charm offensive on Nick continues in here.

0:29:240:29:27

So, over this side, you get the living room, and as you can see,

0:29:280:29:33

it's open plan into the dining room.

0:29:330:29:35

-Interesting.

-Interesting, indeed.

0:29:350:29:38

I would switch this completely and have this as the kitchen-diner

0:29:380:29:42

-and that as the lovely, round lounge.

-Just seems obvious, doesn't it?

0:29:420:29:46

Yeah, because this is the space that we want for us all together,

0:29:460:29:49

and that's the relaxing room, so that would work.

0:29:490:29:53

-I think that would work really well.

-And it's still a little bit more height than before.

0:29:530:29:57

-Yeah.

-That's good.

-Still happy?

-It's got a lot of character, yep.

0:29:570:30:01

-I am impressed that you like it so much.

-I'm amazed.

0:30:010:30:04

I hadn't really considered an oast house.

0:30:040:30:07

-I have tried.

-That's why it's the mystery house!

0:30:070:30:10

Come on, let's go through and have a look at the space through here.

0:30:100:30:14

Because you come through and then the ceilings lift again.

0:30:150:30:18

So, any reservations so far, Nick?

0:30:180:30:21

Um...no, no.

0:30:210:30:23

I mean, it is obviously smaller than everything we've seen before, so...

0:30:230:30:28

interested in how we solve that problem.

0:30:280:30:31

At the moment, I'm going to sell the children and we'll just live here(!)

0:30:310:30:34

Radical thinking! Sell the children, that is an option,

0:30:360:30:39

but I'm hoping I can find a way that you don't have to do that, Nick.

0:30:390:30:43

-That would be good.

-I'm thinking of you, kids. Let's go and look upstairs.

0:30:430:30:47

Nick's clearly loving the fact that our mystery property is a slice of local history.

0:30:470:30:52

And he seems to square the circle to make it work for them.

0:30:520:30:55

Upstairs, along with a well-furnished family bathroom,

0:30:550:30:59

are three bedrooms, which I hope will raise the roof.

0:30:590:31:02

-Ooh!

-That is a "wow", isn't it?

0:31:040:31:07

-That is a high ceiling!

-There you go. I want no complaints from you about ceiling height!

0:31:070:31:12

Could this be the bedroom for the two of you?

0:31:120:31:15

We'd have to find somewhere to put Sarah's clothes.

0:31:150:31:17

Because, you know...

0:31:170:31:20

-that might just about do ME.

-OK, so great space for the two of you,

0:31:200:31:24

-but still concerned about storage.

-Yes, yes.

-Yeah, I am, too.

0:31:240:31:28

Which, unbelievably...

0:31:280:31:30

-We had a role-reversal!

-Yes, I know! That is, it is a concern.

0:31:300:31:35

And also, it's just a family bathroom.

0:31:350:31:37

Could be a bit of scrapping over that.

0:31:370:31:40

Could be, couldn't there?

0:31:400:31:42

Well, I've been a bit naughty,

0:31:420:31:44

because at the other end of the landing

0:31:440:31:46

is the room which I'm sure will put all their fears to bed.

0:31:460:31:49

Come in!

0:31:490:31:51

Come in here.

0:31:510:31:52

Now...how about if you slept on this side of the oast house?

0:31:520:31:57

-I think it's right for us.

-I think so.

0:31:570:31:59

Ah, and there's shower. I was worried about that.

0:31:590:32:03

-And enough storage?

-Yeah!

0:32:030:32:05

It's got rid of that problem, I think.

0:32:050:32:08

So we're getting rid of problems. I like that.

0:32:080:32:10

Come up and have a look at the bedroom.

0:32:100:32:13

I think, of all the properties, you are having a stronger emotional reaction to this one.

0:32:130:32:19

-I am, aren't I?

-You kind of like it, you feel at home.

-Yeah.

0:32:190:32:23

And I'm feeling a bit cooler from you, Sarah.

0:32:230:32:26

Probably because he's feeling a bit warmer.

0:32:270:32:30

-You don't make life easy.

-No.

0:32:300:32:33

Yeah, it's funny.

0:32:330:32:35

I think I'm getting nervous... because I'm not used to this!

0:32:350:32:41

-You can't win, can you?

-He actually likes it!

0:32:410:32:43

It's a lovely house, isn't it?

0:32:430:32:45

And don't worry, kids. There IS space for you, in the third bedroom, now set up as a study-cum-library.

0:32:450:32:52

Nick is obviously in love with our mystery property,

0:32:520:32:55

while Sarah appears to be stepping into his shoes as the rational one.

0:32:550:32:59

But she'll be pleased that outside, there's lapsed planning permission

0:32:590:33:03

for a two-storey outbuilding with upstairs accommodation.

0:33:030:33:06

And the garden is delightful,

0:33:060:33:08

with gently sloping lawns and established fruit trees.

0:33:080:33:12

So, we'll climb to higher ground

0:33:120:33:14

and really soak up the sight of the surrounding countryside.

0:33:140:33:17

Wow, that is some view, isn't it?

0:33:190:33:21

-Worth that walk.

-It's beautiful, beautiful.

0:33:210:33:24

This plot is just under an acre.

0:33:240:33:26

It's amazing.

0:33:260:33:27

My only worry - she says, being the sensible one now -

0:33:270:33:30

is how much that is, and whether we could afford to do anything.

0:33:300:33:35

-Yeah.

-That's my worry.

0:33:350:33:37

Well, you pre-empted the question.

0:33:370:33:39

-Sorry, Denise!

-How much do you think it's worth?

0:33:390:33:42

£750,000.

0:33:420:33:43

I think it's definitely... Must be about £775,000.

0:33:430:33:47

This property is on the market for offers between...

0:33:470:33:51

£695,000 and £735,000.

0:33:510:33:55

-No!

-Ooh!

0:33:550:33:56

Yes.

0:33:560:33:58

Well, that's very different. And it's something that I never thought he would ever consider.

0:33:580:34:03

Nick, you have been the biggest surprise!

0:34:030:34:06

-I have, haven't I?

-It's usually the mystery house that shocks everyone,

0:34:060:34:09

but it's your reaction that I've been so impressed with.

0:34:090:34:12

Before you change your mind, spend some more time in what could be your house and I'll see you later on.

0:34:120:34:18

-See you later.

-See you later.

0:34:180:34:20

It looks like our mystery oast house conversion

0:34:200:34:23

has thrown everything up in the air.

0:34:230:34:25

With a guide price of £695,000 to £735,000,

0:34:250:34:30

it's comfortably under budget,

0:34:300:34:32

and packed to the rafters with historic features,

0:34:320:34:35

giving them two reception rooms

0:34:350:34:36

with those exposed timber ceilings,

0:34:360:34:38

a quirky, round kitchen,

0:34:380:34:40

three bedrooms with a master en-suite,

0:34:400:34:43

and just under an acre of garden

0:34:430:34:45

with the potential

0:34:450:34:46

for an outbuilding

0:34:460:34:47

to house their gym and music room.

0:34:470:34:49

I think it could work. You know, this location could work, it's...

0:34:500:34:55

..yeah, I think we could be...

0:34:560:34:58

I really do think we could be here.

0:34:580:35:00

I think what was going through my mind about Nick

0:35:030:35:05

was it was the first time that I've seen him actually react to something,

0:35:050:35:09

and I could feel that he was falling in love with it.

0:35:090:35:11

I've never seen that before.

0:35:110:35:14

I was upstairs trying to imagine how I'd feel if we were living here,

0:35:140:35:18

and there's such a feeling of calmness in this house.

0:35:180:35:21

I mean, I really, really... It makes me feel really happy...

0:35:210:35:25

..so I really want to be here.

0:35:260:35:30

-Thoroughly confused now?

-Completely.

0:35:330:35:35

Don't worry. We'll find you somewhere that you can sit down,

0:35:350:35:38

think about it, and work it all out. Come on.

0:35:380:35:40

Over the years, the Sussex countryside has inspired many of Britain's greatest writers,

0:35:530:35:58

with William Blake describing it as, "England's green and pleasant land,"

0:35:580:36:02

and it's where AA Milne wrote Winnie The Pooh.

0:36:020:36:06

But it was Rudyard Kipling

0:36:060:36:07

who made this magnificent example of Jacobean architecture his home.

0:36:070:36:13

Now looked after by the National Trust,

0:36:130:36:15

Kipling referred to this house - known as Bateman's - as his "good and peaceable place".

0:36:150:36:19

I've come to meet curator, Gary Enstone,

0:36:190:36:22

to find out more about Kipling's own reasons for escaping to the country.

0:36:220:36:26

It really is beautiful! I can see why Kipling moved his family here, and fell in love at first sight.

0:36:260:36:32

He moved here from Rottingdean in 1902.

0:36:320:36:35

He had a lot of problems with...

0:36:350:36:37

basically being a celebrity of the age,

0:36:370:36:39

so he moved out here to the country

0:36:390:36:41

and somewhere a little bit more peaceful and quiet for both him and his family.

0:36:410:36:45

So this was his own escape? He was actually quite a private and family man, wasn't he?

0:36:450:36:49

-This move was for his children.

-Very much so.

0:36:490:36:52

People forget that although he was such a famous author,

0:36:520:36:55

and wrote so many well-known books, behind all that,

0:36:550:36:59

he wrote all of that work for his children.

0:36:590:37:01

Over the 34 years that Kipling lived here,

0:37:010:37:05

his estate grew from 13 to 300 acres,

0:37:050:37:08

on which he farmed crops and kept prize-winning cattle.

0:37:080:37:11

But one particular part of the garden

0:37:110:37:13

was very much devoted to his children.

0:37:130:37:16

Well, Denise, this is the rose garden and the pond,

0:37:160:37:20

and basically, what you're looking at here

0:37:200:37:22

-is the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.

-What do you mean?

0:37:220:37:25

Kipling, in 1907, became the first British man to actually win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

0:37:250:37:30

He was given £7,700,

0:37:300:37:33

and that money he used to build the rose garden and pond.

0:37:330:37:37

Kipling also harnessed the energy of water,

0:37:380:37:41

installing a turbine in the old working mill

0:37:410:37:43

to generate enough light for ten 60-watt bulbs

0:37:430:37:46

for some four hours every evening.

0:37:460:37:49

Inside, the rooms remain, as he put it, "Untouched and unfaked,"

0:37:490:37:53

with Kipling's furnishings reflecting his passion for the subcontinent.

0:37:530:37:58

And upstairs is where all his inspiration came together

0:37:580:38:02

for works such as the Just So Stories

0:38:020:38:04

and the famous poem, If.

0:38:040:38:06

Oh! It's almost as if he just popped out of the room.

0:38:070:38:11

Yeah, this is Kipling's little hideaway from the rest of the world,

0:38:110:38:15

but that doesn't necessarily mean that he wanted to have a solitary life.

0:38:150:38:19

In fact, we've got many, many recorded people visiting here, and he did keep a visitors' book.

0:38:190:38:25

-OK.

-If you just look at this month here, of 1909,

0:38:250:38:29

you can see just down here in two or three days,

0:38:290:38:32

he had Percival Landon, Henry James... A tremendous amount of people came and visited here.

0:38:320:38:37

There's one more thing I wanted to ask about -

0:38:370:38:39

that bed, did he sleep in there? Was he that immersed in his work?

0:38:390:38:42

He used to work very much in the mornings,

0:38:420:38:45

but he was only really inspired at certain times,

0:38:450:38:47

and they say that he used to get himself into a bit of a mini-daze

0:38:470:38:50

by laying himself out on the bed, waiting for inspiration to strike.

0:38:500:38:54

As soon as it would strike, he'd move straight over and start writing.

0:38:540:38:59

For all of the celebrity that Kipling was caught up in,

0:38:590:39:02

he willingly bequeathed his historic home to the public so that like him,

0:39:020:39:06

future generations could enjoy its awe-inspiring setting.

0:39:060:39:10

Yesterday, I thought we had a clear winner,

0:39:140:39:17

but today, as is so often the case,

0:39:170:39:20

the mystery house has turned everything on its head.

0:39:200:39:23

So, have we finally convinced Londoner, Nick,

0:39:230:39:26

to make his escape to the country?

0:39:260:39:28

Sarah's already here, so let's find out.

0:39:280:39:32

-Hello, you two.

-Hello.

0:39:390:39:41

We've had a good week, haven't we?

0:39:410:39:43

Finally got him out here in Sussex looking for properties.

0:39:430:39:46

Finally got a big smile out of you!

0:39:460:39:48

We started with that beautiful Arts and Crafts house.

0:39:480:39:52

What did you think of that?

0:39:520:39:53

In terms of space, a good amount of space,

0:39:530:39:56

and I liked the parquet flooring.

0:39:560:39:57

I...didn't feel that we could stamp our mark on it.

0:39:570:40:02

What did you think of it, Sarah?

0:40:020:40:04

Well, you know me. I liked it. I thought it was very nice.

0:40:040:40:07

The garden, I quite liked, on different levels.

0:40:070:40:09

There was nothing wrong with it.

0:40:090:40:11

It just... I just didn't feel the love!

0:40:110:40:14

It just didn't happen!

0:40:140:40:16

But it did happen when we went to the house

0:40:160:40:19

with the three-and-a-half acres.

0:40:190:40:21

You were certainly feeling something, because we had tears, I hope, of joy.

0:40:210:40:25

I thought it was absolutely magnificent. I loved it.

0:40:250:40:28

It was very nice inside, I thought it was done very well,

0:40:280:40:32

but I think, for me, when I started to look more into it after we'd been there,

0:40:320:40:37

I sort of realised the commute was going to be really quite a big one.

0:40:370:40:41

And I think I was looking at close to two hours to get to the office,

0:40:410:40:45

which is nearly four hours every day. I can't really take that out of my day.

0:40:450:40:49

But it was the perfect house... potentially!

0:40:490:40:51

Because there was, of course, the mystery house!

0:40:510:40:54

So, what did you think of the oast house, Nick?

0:40:540:40:57

The first thing that struck me was the location.

0:40:570:41:00

The setting is absolutely magical.

0:41:000:41:02

I saw a really beautiful house.

0:41:020:41:04

Erm, it just looks amazing.

0:41:040:41:06

So, I was really quite taken aback when I first saw it.

0:41:060:41:10

You, when we walked in, became almost silent,

0:41:100:41:13

-which is unusual!

-Very!

0:41:130:41:15

I mean, I was really pleasantly surprised, but shocked.

0:41:150:41:20

Surprised but shocked?

0:41:200:41:22

It only has three bedrooms.

0:41:220:41:24

Mmm...so, I've been turning that over in my mind, and erm...

0:41:240:41:30

I think the fact that we've potentially got the ability to put something outside,

0:41:300:41:35

I think that can solve all of those problems.

0:41:350:41:37

Well, the question has to be, which way have you decided to go?

0:41:370:41:41

-Shall I say?

-Yes.

-Erm, the third. The mystery.

0:41:420:41:45

This has made me feel warm, cosy, and I can see us all living here.

0:41:450:41:50

-Very happily, actually.

-And how committed are you to that decision? What is the next step?

0:41:510:41:56

Erm, well we're going to go back and see it. I'm going to do things like trial the commute.

0:41:560:42:01

-How soon would you want to be out here in the countryside?

-Next week!

0:42:010:42:05

..Nick?!

0:42:050:42:07

Well, I'm going to be very practical and think, "We've got to think about schools," so...

0:42:070:42:12

But soon.

0:42:120:42:15

-I think you're ready to do it.

-I think so.

0:42:150:42:18

It's been one of those things that we had to do,

0:42:180:42:21

the experience has been fantastic.

0:42:210:42:23

It's really given him a push to look properly and think about it.

0:42:230:42:27

-I think that's made all the difference.

-I think so too.

0:42:270:42:30

I hope it's not too long before you're moving to the countryside,

0:42:300:42:33

-and please do let us know how you get on.

-Thank you.

0:42:330:42:35

It's funny how things work out.

0:42:410:42:43

You show a couple a property that they would never, ever have looked at,

0:42:430:42:47

and it turns out to be the one that both Sarah and Nick not only agree on,

0:42:470:42:51

but they seem to have fallen in love with.

0:42:510:42:54

So, they're coming back with the kids to have another look, and what happens after that,

0:42:540:42:59

well...we'll have to wait and see. See you next time.

0:42:590:43:02

Sarah and Nick eventually decided they needed more rooms than the oast house offered,

0:43:020:43:07

but it has made them realise that East Sussex

0:43:070:43:10

is definitely the area for them,

0:43:100:43:12

so hopefully it won't be long before they find their perfect property.

0:43:120:43:16

And if you want to escape to the country

0:43:160:43:18

in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England

0:43:180:43:22

and would like our help, please apply online:

0:43:220:43:25

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:460:43:49

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:490:43:52

Denise Nurse helps a family swap city living for a life in rural Sussex. Land is the all-important ingredient as they are hoping to set up a fitness boot camp business. So when Denise delivers a delightful 1930s period house with over three acres and on budget at £750,000, it's game, set and match. There's also a visit to Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's very own Jacobean escape to the country.


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