Warwickshire Escape to the Country


Warwickshire

Alistair Appleton is in Warwickshire helping a young family relocate from Australia to settle in the heart of England. Will their budget stretch to a Georgian manor?


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Transcript


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Today I'm in a county that is home to the world's largest wooden catapult

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or trebuchet

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and I'm going to fire it

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and this is the traditional medieval phrase you do as it happens.

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Have a care!

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Whoo-hoo!

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Heavens to Betsy, that goes, doesn't it?

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On today's show, we're helping a young family say g'day

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to a big country pile.

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It's huge.

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Beware, though. Some traditional features may cause confusion.

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The story of the three little pigs has put me off.

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The house is not built of straw, just the roof.

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And be prepared for some controversial DIY.

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How do you feel about the beams in here?

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-I'd probably put some plasterboard over the main ones.

-Oh, God!

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Today we're in Warwickshire and this is Warwick Castle,

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one of the finest medieval castles left in the UK,

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an inspiration to Warwickshire's favourite son, William Shakespeare.

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So it's once more into the breach, dear friends, as we rescue not damsels in distress

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but property buyers in distress in this most historic of counties.

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'Landlocked in the West Midlands by seven English counties,

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'Warwickshire is considered to be the very heart of England.

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'As you'd expect from the birthplace of our most renowned playwright,

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'it has a rich, dramatic and historic pedigree.

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'Once the western border of the Roman Empire,

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'the Fosse Way is one of the only Roman roads in Britain to retain its Latin name,

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'although don't expect anything exotic.

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'It simply means ditch.

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'Warwickshire played main stage in the Civil War, too,

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'Edgehill being the backdrop for the very first battle to be fought,

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'in 1642.

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'No prices for guessing Warwick is the county town,

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'which isn't just home to the castle

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'but boasts some prime Regency and Georgian architecture.

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'A fire in 1694 destroyed the town centre

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'and it was completely rebuilt.

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'Whilst the north developed industrially in the 1800s,

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'the south kept to its rural ways

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'and is still an agricultural stronghold today.'

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Warwickshire's a tale of two counties.

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You've got the northern part, centred around Coventry,

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that's on the commuter line towards Birmingham and is more populous.

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The southern part around Stratford-upon-Avon

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is less populous but more expensive

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because it's shading into the Cotswolds.

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Across the county, the average price for a detached house

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is only 3% above the national average,

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so that means that wherever you're buying, north or south,

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there's some property bargains to be had.

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If its original features you worship,

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look no further than this converted chapel in Ilmington.

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The open-plan layout downstairs is an inspired use of space

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and upstairs are four bedrooms.

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With a price tag of just under £400,000,

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it won't take a wing and a prayer to buy it.

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For a bigger budget, how about this old wheelwright's cottage in Grandborough near Rugby?

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A sizeable bespoke oak kitchen,

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four reception rooms, five bedrooms

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and a quarter of an acre plot

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make this cottage anything but cosy.

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It's on the market at £675,000.

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For really big thinkers with a big budget to match,

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1.25 million will buy this late Victorian family home

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in Moreton Morrell.

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A mix of period charm and mod cons, it's a great entertainer,

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with two reception rooms, four bedrooms

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and a large annexe.

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Surely with your own lake and 2.75 acres of land,

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a garden party must be on the agenda?

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Lots of beautiful property to be had

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but we have to fit it to our buyers' needs

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and that could be a comedy of errors or all's well that ends well

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here in Shakespeare's county.

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And our buyers today have come from far, far away.

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Olivia and her husband Neil, an offshore engineer,

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together with Alistair their son,

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have already made a bigger move than most, 9,000 miles, in fact,

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all the way from Oz.

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So what's made them swap Perth's beaches for the Bard's county?

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My mum recently, in May, had open cardiac surgery

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and it really just put things in perspective.

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I'd been away for ten years in Australia

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and it was time to come back and spend some time in England

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and be round my family.

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However, it's not just family ties that have motivated Olivia's return to her Warwickshire roots.

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I've been missing the English country tremendously.

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In Australia, it's all about outdoor living,

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barbecues, the pool and that type of lifestyle.

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England really has a very different quality of life

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and that's all about wrapping up warm, going for a long walks.

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-There's more history in England.

-Yes.

-Far more.

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Culture, as well.

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I think so.

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A different type of culture.

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-There's a lot more history and it would something I would be keen to look at...

-Yeah.

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..and for Alistair to appreciate as well.

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Having sold up down under,

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they're renting a two-bed bungalow in Kenilworth.

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I'm getting cabin fever, really. I'm not used to such a small environment.

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Our house in Australia was quite big,

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with a pool, a big garden, five bedrooms.

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So I think it's time to move into a bigger environment.

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Matching that is going to take some doing,

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so what will come close to the dream?

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We want a house with a bit of style,

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maybe even a Georgian manor or a house.

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I really do like that type of style.

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I'd focus on the external side of it, the countryside

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and lovely gardens, some woods nearby, maybe a stream.

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Outside space is obviously key for Neil

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but how much has he got in mind?

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-Maybe one to five acres. Get some land around us.

-Yeah.

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Grand property ambitions indeed.

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They're also used to large living spaces in Oz,

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so what are they expecting from their new home here?

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-Internally, we'd like...

-More than three bedrooms.

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Three to four, onwards. We can go up to seven or eight bedrooms, it doesn't really bother us.

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We need a good kitchen, a good size.

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And we need a big sized lounge.

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And the bedroom has to be fairly large.

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Sounds like we're supersizing.

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Hopefully that covers the do's - what about the don'ts?

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We don't want anything poky or small, low ceilings.

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We don't necessarily like beams, do we?

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We're not keen on the thatched cottage,

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wooden beams every two feet look.

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Nothing too rustic, then. But what about the location?

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With Neil spending months away at sea with his job,

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just how rural do they want to be?

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'Probably a small village. Some kind of shop, a primary school,

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'a pub, that kind of thing.'

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The community is very important for us, especially with having a child.

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Being cash buyers means our Aussie deserters can move fast

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but how much do they have to spend?

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Our budget is £600,000.

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It seems like an Australian's home is also their castle

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because Olivia and Neil have got used to castle-like proportions in Western Australia.

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They've got a budget of £600,000 but they want a large Georgian property

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with at least three bedrooms and up to five acres of land.

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So it could be that they have to go for something a little more modest.

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Olivia wants to be close to her mum in Coventry,

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no more than an hour's drive.

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But since they're hankering after some ever-so-English countryside,

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we're going to start the property search in the very rural south,

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gateway to the Cotswolds.

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I'll be showing them around some gorgeous period piles

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but I won't be revealing the price until they've had a chance to take everything in.

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And finally, there's a mystery house,

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which has the power to get them in a spin.

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-Welcome to Warwickshire, guys.

-Thank you.

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-I bet you don't get gardens like that in Western Australia.

-No, definitely not.

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Now, how does it feel, Neil, to be in England?

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-I know you've been here since Christmas.

-I'm excited for a new chapter in my life

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and looking forward to settling down here.

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-Not missing the sun?

-A little bit.

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Well, spring's on its way, so good weather for property hunting.

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You've been doing a bit already.

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Yeah, I've been looking, mostly on the internet when I was in Western Australia.

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Since coming back, for two months now I've been looking at houses,

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quite extensively, in Warwickshire.

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And what sort of price range?

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We've kind of got a strange range or a big range.

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-Big is good.

-Yeah!

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Between about 600 to 900.

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OK, so originally we were saying 600.

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Now it's gone up a bit. Where's the extra leeway come from?

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We sold our house in Australia, which put us into the 600 range

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but Olivia has some land in Western Australia

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that we've got on sale at the moment.

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If that sells, that'll put us through to 900.

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-So that adds to the pot.

-Yes.

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So what is our budget? What are we working with?

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We roughly looking at round about 700.

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Good. Another £100,000 in the pot. That's excellent.

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Warwickshire is a really wonderful, mixed county.

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There's lots of historical styles

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and also, the market's picking up, so we've found some nice things.

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-Sounds good.

-Let's go and look.

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Increasing the budget up to a flexible 700,000

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can only be a good thing,

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as finding a Georgian house with at least three bedrooms,

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a big kitchen, a big lounge, not to mention plenty of acreage,

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is a big ask.

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They also want that property package to be situated

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in a thriving community village in prime Warwickshire countryside.

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Only time will tell if it's to be or not to be.

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We're off to our first property. What are you hoping to see?

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I like the idea of being in the country

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and having spectacular views from the house would be nice.

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I'm hoping for something where there's a wood or something,

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not too far from the community, so we can go to the shops.

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It might be difficult to find a property with a wood attached in the middle of the community.

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-We'll try. Of course, you don't have to own the wood.

-That's right.

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You could borrow somebody else's wood.

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I think Neil might have to forget the forest.

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What I can deliver is a very pretty English village

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on the Oxfordshire border - Hornton

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At a 50-minute drive from Coventry, Olivia's mum is easily accessible.

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Hornton is famed for its colourful limestone.

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Quarried locally for generations,

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it makes up almost every building in the village

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and it's a picture that's unlikely to change,

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as the entire place is a conservation area.

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It's 12th-century church has medieval wall paintings

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and plays a vital role in the community's social events,

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along with the pub, primary school and sports pavilion.

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Our first property is on the very rural outskirts of the village.

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Fingers crossed it won't be too isolated.

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So we're walking along the Oxfordshire-Warwickshire border.

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That's Oxfordshire, this is Warwickshire

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and inside Warwickshire is, da-dah! The first house I want to show you.

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-What do you think?

-Wow! That's fabulous.

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I like where it's set. This is just such a quiet, idyllic place.

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The thing about this property is that it's a bit of a project.

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It's a grade II listed building but it has plans

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to almost double the volume of the house.

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-At the back?

-At the back and to the side.

-Right.

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-But that's obviously a lot of work.

-I'd like to look at the plans.

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That would give us a perspective on how big a project we're prepared to do.

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-OK. Shall we look inside?

-Yes.

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Well, they haven't run a country mile at the word "project".

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Tudor revivalist in style, this started life as an ale house

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in the 1800s.

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But for the majority of the 20th century, it was a working farm.

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Having been modernised, it's entirely liveable,

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but the extension will make it into the large family home these two want.

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Straight into the hall. Nice big hall.

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They put down these tiles. They're not original

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but they're in the spirit of that period.

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Yeah.

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It's a nice hall. I like the ambience. It's a nice big space.

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Let's take a look at the drawing room.

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Originally it had earth floors

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and then as the farmhouse, it was brought up to scratch.

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I like the exposed stone. It gives a bit of character to the room.

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The view is just magnificent out there. I really do like that.

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I think the windows frame the countryside quite well.

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So this is very different from the architecture in Australia.

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It is a bit unusual to have a beam running through your house.

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But it's a smaller room than I'd envisaged

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-but it's cosy and it's good light.

-Yes.

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I don't think we're going to get, in your budget,

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those massive rooms that you're used to.

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Well, they may not be gargantuan but we do have a few more.

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At the end of the hallway, is a snug come study,

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the only bathroom in the house

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and back across the hallway is the third reception room and kitchen.

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But this layout will be transformed beyond recognition

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with the agreed plans.

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Here's the plot. This and this is the extension.

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So you can see, it almost doubles the size of the house.

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Yes. That's good.

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You'll go through there

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-and there'll be a huge kitchen-diner here.

-That will be good.

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Again, there's a lobby and a play room for Alistair.

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-That's good.

-That's great.

-That goes up into a loft space here.

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I like the idea of a play room for Alistair.

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It's quite Australian. We have play rooms stroke theatre rooms

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in a lot of new houses.

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-Theatre rooms?

-They call it theatre.

-Oh, I say.

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-For your home theatre.

-Yeah.

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There's a sitting room. You could make this into a theatre room.

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'So the plans allow for four reception rooms on the ground floor

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'but let's now head upstairs.

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'There are currently just two decent-sized bedrooms

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'but planning consent allows for a master en-suite

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'plus three bedrooms and a family bathroom.'

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-This will be one of the big bedrooms.

-OK.

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This is a big room, really, for an English house.

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So what do you feel about the actual rebuilding?

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You've had a quick look at the plans.

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I think the plans look very well thought out

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and they're quite appealing.

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It's really going to come down to the cost,

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how much it's going to cost to build the house to the standard that's been planned for.

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Well, we'll get to that shortly

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but not until we've checked out the outside space

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and this is where the property really comes into its own.

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We have not one, not two, not even three

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but nearly five acres.

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So here we get the full extent of the property.

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Because the five acres basically follows the hedgerow all the way to the fence where the cows are,

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across and then all the way along here,

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back down, all the way to that side and back down to the road.

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What are you going to do on your five acres of land?

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Well, what we'd like to do is maybe put a wood on it.

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So on the far side, we would like to plant lots of trees

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and then we would like to also have more of a formal garden,

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so Alistair can play in that area.

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OK, so you want land, I've given you land, that's fine,

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but land costs money, so let's talk money.

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What do you think this land and property is worth,

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not including the cost of the extension?

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Well, I think maybe high fours, early fives.

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What about you, Neil?

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I would have thought about 550 or thereabouts.

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OK, so this plot of land, five acres plus the farmhouse,

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is on the market at 595.

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Right.

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Two years ago when it went on, top of the market,

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-it was on at 850.

-Wow.

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-You've got to remember, you've got five acres of land in the Cotswolds.

-Yep.

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-That costs money.

-Yeah, a big difference, hearing what you said,

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and it would be quite an expensive wood that we'd be planting.

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It would be a wood that you'd have to plant and wait 50, 60 years to grow,

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when there's lots of woods around that you could just drive to

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and let Alistair play in.

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Anyway, those are some thoughts.

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Have a look around inside. Go back and look at the plans again

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-and see what you think now you know the price.

-OK.

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-Thank you.

-Thanks.

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At just a snip under £600,000, this grade 11 listed Georgian farmhouse

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has stacks of potential.

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Currently it has two bedrooms, a small kitchen and three reception rooms.

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However, for an estimated cost of 250,000,

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the approved plans would transform it into a four-bedroom family home,

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with a big, open plan kitchen-diner and four reception rooms.

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The icing on the cake has to be the five acres of land it comes with.

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This will be a stretch in budget.

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The question is do they like it enough to push it that far?

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The five acres of land is certainly fairly attractive.

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It's not quite the ideal for me.

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I'd envisaged maybe a little bit of a wood and an orchard

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and obviously to establish that

0:17:530:17:55

I would need to probably wait a good 40 years.

0:17:550:17:59

What excites me about this is that it's a grade II listed building

0:17:590:18:04

but it's been pre-approved, these plans have.

0:18:040:18:07

And that's what I like about it.

0:18:070:18:08

They've done the hard work on that.

0:18:080:18:11

It looks very nice. It would be very liveable.

0:18:110:18:13

Externally, it's very, very pretty.

0:18:130:18:16

It's a very handsome building. It's lovely to look at.

0:18:160:18:19

Inside, obviously, it's quite small

0:18:190:18:21

but I have to use my creativity

0:18:210:18:24

and think, "OK, what would it be like with an extension?"

0:18:240:18:27

So it's something to think about and to reflect upon.

0:18:270:18:30

The big question for me would be whether we can live with it long enough

0:18:300:18:35

to be able to do it up to the standard that we'd like it to be done to.

0:18:350:18:39

-Hey!

-Hi, how are you doing?

-All done?

-Yes.

0:18:400:18:43

Very good. If you can give that door a good tug

0:18:430:18:45

and let's press on.

0:18:450:18:47

As one of the finest medieval fortifications in the UK,

0:18:580:19:01

Warwick Castle is the perfect place

0:19:010:19:04

to enjoy one of the most popular sports of the last millennium -

0:19:040:19:07

and I'm not talking football.

0:19:070:19:09

In the middle ages there was only one way to spend your Saturday afternoon,

0:19:160:19:20

cheering on your local knight at the joust.

0:19:200:19:22

In 1194, Warwickshire became one of just five counties

0:19:220:19:27

to receive a jousting licence from Richard I.

0:19:270:19:29

Re-enactments are held regularly at the castle,

0:19:290:19:33

and Richard Timson, manager of some modern-day knights,

0:19:330:19:36

has agreed to put me through my paces.

0:19:360:19:38

-Ah! My liege!

-Good day to you, sir. Are you well?

0:19:390:19:42

Richard, your highness, your kingship, whatever.

0:19:420:19:45

-Yes, indeed. You can call me "Your Majesty".

-Your Majesty.

0:19:450:19:49

Now tell me about jousting. I'm quite excited.

0:19:490:19:51

Jousting was a training for war, basically.

0:19:510:19:54

It was usually in peacetimes

0:19:540:19:56

and there would be competitions between countries to see who had the best knights.

0:19:560:20:00

Tell me about the tournaments.

0:20:000:20:02

A tournaments could be a l'outrance, which means to the death.

0:20:020:20:06

They would have a spike on the end of their lance.

0:20:060:20:08

Or a tournament a la plaisance,

0:20:080:20:11

which was with a coloured lance with a ball on the end,

0:20:110:20:14

so that nobody would get speared or skewered.

0:20:140:20:17

-We'll be doing the a la plaisance, will we?

-I'm sure.

0:20:170:20:20

Well, that's a relief.

0:20:200:20:22

But I can't put my knightly prowess to the test without the right outfit.

0:20:220:20:27

Now, where's my steed?

0:20:270:20:29

So this is Daffodil, not a terribly knightly name, I have to say.

0:20:290:20:33

We're going to do the quintain, a training for the joust.

0:20:330:20:37

You run down and hit the shield

0:20:370:20:38

and if you're not quick enough the bag on the other end will spin round

0:20:380:20:42

and clout the back of your head.

0:20:420:20:44

I can just about see out of it.

0:20:440:20:46

If you could pass Sir Alistair the lance.

0:20:460:20:49

-Sir Alistair Lance-a-little.

-I think you're ready, sir.

0:20:490:20:54

-Let's do this.

-Are you ready?

0:20:540:20:56

On you go.

0:20:570:20:58

Get your lance set underneath your arm, Alistair.

0:20:580:21:01

Underneath your arm. That's it. Go on.

0:21:010:21:04

Keep going, keep going. Set, set! Excellent.

0:21:040:21:07

-Excellent!

-Hey, hey!

0:21:070:21:09

Well done, Sir Alistair.

0:21:090:21:12

Ah! King Richard!

0:21:120:21:14

Well done, sir. From now on, sir, you shall be known as Sir Alistair the Brave.

0:21:140:21:18

Oh! My God.

0:21:180:21:21

It's like racing a horse with a can of baked beans on your head

0:21:210:21:26

with a giant wand in your hand.

0:21:260:21:29

Well done, Daffodil.

0:21:290:21:32

I feel like a complete cretin but I hit it.

0:21:320:21:34

Hats off to you knights.

0:21:350:21:37

It's no easy business, jousting, is it?

0:21:370:21:39

Well, this knight's tale is at an end

0:21:410:21:43

and so is our first day of house-hunting here in Warwickshire.

0:21:430:21:47

Coming up, can Neil downsize on his five acres

0:21:480:21:52

for Olivia's dream Georgian pad?

0:21:520:21:54

The size of the room and the windows really excites me.

0:21:540:21:59

This is something that I was looking for.

0:21:590:22:02

Or will they splash out on today's mystery house?

0:22:020:22:05

This is the bustling little suburb of Lillington,

0:22:080:22:11

just outside Leamington Spa, home to the Midland Oak,

0:22:110:22:15

which traditionally used to mark the very centre or belly button of England.

0:22:150:22:19

For us it has a slightly different significance today

0:22:190:22:22

because yesterday we were looking at property south of the oak,

0:22:220:22:26

towards the Cotswolds and the more expensive part of Warwickshire.

0:22:260:22:30

Today, we're looking north towards Coventry

0:22:300:22:33

and closer to Olivia's mum,

0:22:330:22:34

where we can get a little bit more for our money

0:22:340:22:37

and hopefully find something that pleases the both of them.

0:22:370:22:40

Our first destination is Kilsby on the Northants border.

0:22:410:22:44

It's 20 miles from Olivia's mum in Coventry

0:22:440:22:47

and five miles from Rugby,

0:22:470:22:48

Warwickshire's second-largest town.

0:22:480:22:51

That makes Kilsby a popular commuter village

0:22:510:22:54

and despite its proximity to some big towns,

0:22:540:22:57

which can often mean the demise for village amenities,

0:22:570:23:00

this one has bucked the trend,

0:23:000:23:01

with a choice of two pubs, primary school

0:23:010:23:04

and a busy local store and post office.

0:23:040:23:07

Legend also has it that the very first shots of the Civil War were fired here,

0:23:070:23:12

which is somewhat pertinent,

0:23:120:23:14

as I could be entering into a battle of wills with Neil,

0:23:140:23:17

as our first house has a prominent feature

0:23:170:23:19

I know he's not keen on.

0:23:190:23:21

-First off...

-It's thatched.

0:23:210:23:24

-It's thatched and you didn't want to have thatched.

-No.

0:23:240:23:28

What's your problem with thatch?

0:23:280:23:29

There's the fire danger, the maintenance.

0:23:290:23:32

It just looks a bit on the messy side.

0:23:320:23:34

For me, probably the story of the three little pigs has put me off as well.

0:23:340:23:38

Right. The house is not built of straw, just the roof.

0:23:380:23:41

But actually, thatch is a very sustainable, green and good form of roofing insulation.

0:23:410:23:47

This one does need to be replaced.

0:23:470:23:50

In about five years' time, you'll need to put a new, fresh, tidy one on

0:23:500:23:54

-and that will set you back about 25 grand.

-OK.

0:23:540:23:57

And it is actually both these properties.

0:23:570:24:00

-It's all one property.

-Oh, really?

-It's a big detached property.

0:24:000:24:03

-Fabulous.

-That's very nice.

0:24:030:24:05

Now, I think, despite the thatch, that you're going to love this,

0:24:050:24:08

though often I've been proved wrong on that front. Let's go.

0:24:080:24:11

'Let's hope Neil keeps an open mind

0:24:110:24:13

'because although this isn't the Georgian manor house Olivia has her heart set on,

0:24:130:24:18

'built in 1758, it is, indeed, Georgian.'

0:24:180:24:21

Come in. Lovely flagstone hallway.

0:24:230:24:26

Very nice.

0:24:260:24:27

These are the sitting rooms. We've got double aspect.

0:24:270:24:32

Mm. That's good, the light coming through on both sides.

0:24:320:24:35

-We do have an evil beam, I'm afraid.

-Yes, I just noticed that.

0:24:350:24:39

-But it's high.

-It is high. I'll fit underneath it.

0:24:390:24:42

I'm getting all the bad stuff out the way. Thatch and the beam.

0:24:420:24:46

It's a little bit small but it's good light

0:24:460:24:49

and there's a feeling of space in here, even though it's a small room.

0:24:490:24:53

I've been trying to break it to you gently

0:24:530:24:55

but we're not going to get those Western Australian proportions

0:24:550:24:58

in a Georgian house in your budget.

0:24:580:25:00

-Within our budget, yes.

-That's fair enough.

0:25:000:25:03

So why don't you go in there and see what strikes you about that?

0:25:030:25:07

OK, it's much bigger, this one.

0:25:090:25:12

Oh, it's lovely.

0:25:120:25:14

-It's a bit grander, isn't it?

-It is.

-It's nice.

0:25:140:25:16

The size of the room and the windows, that really excites me.

0:25:160:25:21

This is something that I was looking for.

0:25:210:25:23

'Great reactions and there's still more living space to check out

0:25:230:25:28

'along the hallway.'

0:25:280:25:29

-And here's the dining room.

-Oh, very nice.

0:25:300:25:33

Dining room. What would we do with it?

0:25:330:25:36

We don't really utilise the dining room, do we?

0:25:360:25:39

I can see the kitchen's just through here,

0:25:390:25:41

so we could knock this wall out and open the space up.

0:25:410:25:44

-We'd have to look at that.

-Anything is possible.

-Yeah.

0:25:440:25:47

It does flow through into the kitchen.

0:25:470:25:49

It would make a nice dining, kitchen space.

0:25:490:25:52

This is fairly contemporary.

0:25:520:25:54

Right now it is too small but it's workable and it's liveable.

0:25:540:25:58

-The idea of opening this up...

-It would make the bottom part of this house very nice.

0:25:580:26:02

I like it so far.

0:26:020:26:04

'A definite thumbs-up to the ground floor

0:26:040:26:07

'but knowing how much they like their huge spaces,

0:26:070:26:10

'upstairs might need some rejigging.

0:26:100:26:12

'There's ample scope, with a whopping six bedrooms in all.

0:26:120:26:15

'On the first floor are four similar sized bedrooms and two bathrooms

0:26:150:26:19

'which they could divide up to make two en-suite bedroom wings,

0:26:190:26:24

'each with its own stair access.

0:26:240:26:26

'The final rooms are up in the attic.'

0:26:270:26:29

-Ta-da! After you.

-Thank you.

0:26:300:26:32

OK.

0:26:340:26:36

Nice oak stairwell. That's nice.

0:26:360:26:38

-Wow.

-This is really interesting.

0:26:380:26:41

Three rooms. It's very versatile, this area.

0:26:410:26:45

-This room's actually quite light.

-Lovely wooden b... floors.

0:26:450:26:48

You were about to say beams. Lovely beams. It's working.

0:26:480:26:51

-A Freudian slip, there.

-My beam therapy.

0:26:510:26:54

I'm going to lock you in there overnight until you love the beams.

0:26:540:26:57

-That would be a treat.

-Room 101.

0:26:570:26:59

You know, I'm just not convinced Neil wants a period home at all.

0:26:590:27:03

I think he'd be happier with something sparkly and new.

0:27:030:27:06

However, there is something out in the garden that might persuade him

0:27:060:27:10

that this could be the house for them.

0:27:100:27:12

-This, I think, is a real selling point.

-It's lovely.

0:27:130:27:16

This is your very own indoor barbecue party space.

0:27:160:27:22

LAUGHTER

0:27:220:27:24

-Oh, wow.

-It's huge.

-Isn't it great?

-It's massive.

0:27:240:27:27

-Really fun.

-You've got a loft area here.

0:27:270:27:30

Because obviously the weather's not always like Western Australia.

0:27:300:27:35

So you can have your barbies indoors.

0:27:350:27:37

-You can have your friends round the bar.

-That's so funny.

0:27:370:27:40

It's a nice outdoor entertainment area for rainy days.

0:27:400:27:43

I thought that blokes' shed would impress an Aussie.

0:27:430:27:47

To the all-important garden.

0:27:480:27:50

We're downsizing from five acres to approximately one quarter

0:27:500:27:55

but it's still a good size,

0:27:550:27:56

so can they make the compromise for Olivia's near-perfect Georgian house?

0:27:560:28:01

So this is a handsomely sized garden.

0:28:010:28:04

-You've got a barn and a car port and a walled garden.

-That's right.

0:28:040:28:09

I like the little sections of everything.

0:28:090:28:12

It gives a very different feel, it depends where you are outside.

0:28:120:28:16

-How much do you think it all costs?

-Erm, I'd say about 680.

0:28:170:28:21

-OK. What do you think, Neil?

-I agree with Olivia.

0:28:210:28:23

It would be on the upper end of our budget. I'd say 695.

0:28:230:28:26

You are exactly on the money. 695 is what it's on the market for.

0:28:260:28:29

-Hey, do I win a prize?

-Well done.

0:28:290:28:31

You get the house for free.

0:28:310:28:33

No, you don't.

0:28:330:28:35

There are things that you'd want to change, so have a walk around,

0:28:350:28:38

think about whether they're things that you could afford to do.

0:28:380:28:42

-We'll meet afterwards and then press on.

-OK, thank you.

0:28:420:28:45

I saw that Olivia was getting more and more enthusiastic as we went round

0:28:460:28:50

and Neil was looking more and more panicked

0:28:500:28:52

by Olivia's enthusiasm.

0:28:520:28:54

So it'll be interesting to see how they work that one out.

0:28:540:28:57

At £695,000, this grade II listed thatched cottage

0:28:580:29:03

is just under the £700,000 budget

0:29:030:29:05

but that figure is flexible if the house is right.

0:29:050:29:08

And I'd say for Olivia, it definitely is.

0:29:080:29:11

It has three versatile reception rooms with spacious dimensions.

0:29:110:29:16

If they're happy to lose one, there's potential to create

0:29:160:29:19

a huge kitchen diner.

0:29:190:29:20

With six bedrooms, there's scope to rejig upstairs

0:29:200:29:23

and for Neil, set in the quarter acre garden,

0:29:230:29:26

is a superb blokes' shed.

0:29:260:29:29

Yes, this is my favourite room. This is what I really like.

0:29:290:29:32

It just feels good. It feels open, fresh...

0:29:320:29:36

There's lovely character to this room.

0:29:360:29:39

I really liked the gardens, the barns.

0:29:390:29:42

The property itself, I really liked the ground floor

0:29:420:29:45

but as I went up the stairs,

0:29:450:29:46

I was a bit put off by the size of the rooms.

0:29:460:29:50

I don't think he was as excited as I was

0:29:500:29:53

but he has to methodically think about things,

0:29:530:29:56

where I really put my heart on my sleeve

0:29:560:29:59

and it's either a yes or no and get quite excited quickly.

0:29:590:30:02

So this time, we are on slightly different pages

0:30:020:30:06

in some aspects.

0:30:060:30:08

And I suppose at the end of the day, if she really does love it,

0:30:080:30:11

I can learn to live with it.

0:30:110:30:12

Ah! Well, well.

0:30:150:30:17

It works.

0:30:170:30:19

-Look, you've got your own spring.

-Oh, fantastic.

0:30:190:30:22

-Fresh water from the well.

-That's a really nice feature.

0:30:220:30:25

-That's the first well that I've seen.

-That's the first working pump I've seen on this show.

0:30:250:30:30

Hats off to that. Let's press on.

0:30:300:30:33

When it comes to historical hotspots,

0:30:430:30:45

Warwickshire has more than its fair share.

0:30:450:30:47

Stratford, Warwick, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa

0:30:470:30:50

are all popular tourist honey traps.

0:30:500:30:52

But with eleven ancient market towns in all,

0:30:520:30:55

it's possible to get your history without the hordes.

0:30:550:30:58

Oyez! Oyez!

0:30:580:31:01

Oyez!

0:31:010:31:03

We welcome you to the historic market town

0:31:030:31:08

of Henley-in-Arden.

0:31:080:31:11

Just seven miles north of Stratford, Henley-in-Arden is a real gem.

0:31:110:31:15

Its first of many market charters was awarded to the lord of the manor,

0:31:150:31:20

Thurstan de Montfort, in 1141

0:31:200:31:22

and today, it's one-mile-long high street

0:31:220:31:25

is a conservation area.

0:31:250:31:27

Earlier in the week,

0:31:270:31:28

Olivia and Neil met up with local historian George Atkinson

0:31:280:31:31

to find out more.

0:31:310:31:33

Where we are now is the site of the original market cross.

0:31:330:31:38

We had to renovate it

0:31:380:31:40

because it is one of the listed ancient monuments in Henley

0:31:400:31:44

and it had deteriorated a lot.

0:31:440:31:47

What we've got left is the remains of it.

0:31:470:31:49

It's 22 feet, which would have been an enormous landmark

0:31:490:31:53

in the particular time.

0:31:530:31:55

With an incredible 174 listed buildings,

0:31:550:31:58

Henley's high street is an architectural time warp.

0:31:580:32:02

The Elizabethan guildhall

0:32:020:32:04

and 15th-century church of St John's are both notable.

0:32:040:32:07

But the oldest building in the town, dating in part from 1395,

0:32:070:32:11

is now a heritage centre

0:32:110:32:13

and it's home to some fascinating artefacts.

0:32:130:32:16

What we have here is a very distinctive relic for the town.

0:32:170:32:22

It is the original charter, granted by Henry VI

0:32:220:32:26

on 13th May 1449 to the then lord of manor.

0:32:260:32:31

It gave him jurisdiction over the application of law,

0:32:310:32:36

the raising of taxation and general governance.

0:32:360:32:39

Normally you'd see it, say, in a bigger museum.

0:32:390:32:41

It's nice to know that the community has ownership of this.

0:32:410:32:45

It is, apparently, the only one still in existence.

0:32:450:32:48

The mystery house is going to be a challenge

0:32:540:32:57

as the mystery house often is

0:32:570:32:59

but it is going to play to one of Neil's main requests,

0:32:590:33:03

that he wanted to have some running water by his house.

0:33:030:33:05

We've definitely got running water.

0:33:050:33:07

So we're off to see the mystery house. Any ideas what the mystery might hold?

0:33:110:33:15

I have no idea now. I'm just as confused, more than ever,

0:33:150:33:20

than even in the first house.

0:33:200:33:23

All the houses we've looked at have elements of what we really like

0:33:230:33:27

and perhaps this will combine all of them.

0:33:270:33:32

The mystery house isn't typically everything you want - that would just be the right house.

0:33:320:33:36

The mystery house always has a bit of a challenge in it,

0:33:360:33:39

maybe something that may make you think in a slightly different direction.

0:33:390:33:44

All will be revealed soon.

0:33:440:33:46

This time we're heading 20 miles north of Coventry

0:33:460:33:49

to the hamlet of Bilstone, just over the Leicestershire border.

0:33:490:33:53

The little hamlet is popular with young families

0:33:530:33:56

because neighbouring Congerstone has a high-performing primary school.

0:33:560:34:00

For supplies, though, you need to travel five miles

0:34:000:34:03

to the attractive, and aptly named, market town of Market Bosworth.

0:34:030:34:07

But back to the mystery house.

0:34:070:34:09

We thought Neil, as an offshore engineer,

0:34:090:34:12

might enjoy a bit of onshore engineering

0:34:120:34:14

because this property is a prime example of both Victorian and 21st century technology,

0:34:140:34:20

which could be a bit of a money-spinner.

0:34:200:34:23

-Oh my God!

-It has a river running through it.

-Fantastic.

0:34:230:34:28

Running through it.

0:34:280:34:30

It's literally running through because this is the mill house.

0:34:300:34:33

-Very interesting.

-That's the mystery.

0:34:330:34:36

-Running water is a massive source of...?

-Power and energy.

0:34:360:34:41

Hydroelectric electricity,

0:34:410:34:43

which is why this house is self-sufficient in electricity.

0:34:430:34:47

-That's fantastic.

-Brilliant.

0:34:470:34:49

Look at that magnificent bit of industrial engineering.

0:34:490:34:52

That's phenomenal.

0:34:520:34:53

So it can supply all the electricity for the house

0:34:530:34:56

and you can sell back to the grid at least £2,500 every year.

0:34:560:35:02

-So you're making money.

-So you're making money.

-Fabulous.

0:35:020:35:05

It makes more than enough to keep you going.

0:35:050:35:07

'Well, it will do once the mill is sold

0:35:070:35:09

'and the turbine switched on.

0:35:090:35:11

'It's an attractive feature but will the house be as appealing?

0:35:110:35:14

'It's semi-detached, beautifully presented

0:35:140:35:17

'and retains real rustic charm.

0:35:170:35:19

'Yes, I do mean beams.'

0:35:190:35:21

-Come in. Ooh, it's lovely and warm.

-It's nice and roasty.

0:35:220:35:26

So we're straight into the kitchen.

0:35:260:35:28

Oh, it's lovely laid out.

0:35:280:35:30

Well, what's nice about this property

0:35:300:35:34

is that it has traditional elements, obviously,

0:35:340:35:37

and a lot of modern elements.

0:35:370:35:38

So what are your thoughts?

0:35:380:35:40

I like the way it's planned out. I like the colours.

0:35:400:35:44

How do you feel about the beams in here?

0:35:440:35:46

-I'd probably put some plasterboard over.

-Oh, God.

0:35:460:35:49

-Just have the larger beams exposed.

-No, I wouldn't.

0:35:490:35:54

This actually frames the whole of the kitchen. This is lovely.

0:35:540:35:58

I like these. Well, that's going to be a bone of contention, isn't it?

0:35:580:36:01

So it's very simple downstairs. Two big areas. Next is the living room.

0:36:010:36:05

Lovely oak doors and frames throughout, actually.

0:36:060:36:09

-And then, here we are.

-OK. Nice views of the outside.

0:36:090:36:14

-It would be a nice room to relax in.

-It's got a nice feeling to it.

0:36:140:36:20

You've got views everywhere you look, too.

0:36:200:36:23

-Let's go upstairs.

-Yes.

0:36:230:36:26

Lovely oak stairwell. Very solid and modern.

0:36:260:36:30

Drum kit. More beams.

0:36:310:36:33

-More beams.

-Oh, right.

0:36:330:36:36

So this is the master bedroom. A good size.

0:36:360:36:39

Yeah. Reasonable size.

0:36:390:36:41

You've got a dressing area, you've got his and hers cupboards.

0:36:410:36:46

-All the loft space there is turned into storage.

-That's nice.

0:36:460:36:50

-Every bedroom has its own en suite. This is yours. Have a look.

-OK.

0:36:500:36:54

It's quite compact but I suppose it does the job.

0:36:540:36:58

Also on this floor is a double en suite,

0:36:590:37:01

a study

0:37:010:37:03

and the last two en-suite bedrooms are upstairs.

0:37:030:37:06

Here we go. And as we go higher, the ceilings get higher

0:37:070:37:10

and this is the old mill workings.

0:37:100:37:12

-That's a really nice feature.

-So we've got two bedrooms up here.

0:37:120:37:16

But what's interesting about mill houses

0:37:160:37:18

is that this is where the mill workings used to be

0:37:180:37:22

and it was all open plan, there were no dividing walls.

0:37:220:37:25

These are just plasterboards, throughout.

0:37:250:37:28

You could take all of these walls out and have this as a master suite.

0:37:280:37:32

Yes. Now I know that this exists and the possibility of opening it up,

0:37:320:37:36

-it's a very positive thing.

-It makes it more attractive.

0:37:360:37:39

It makes it much more attractive.

0:37:390:37:41

On that positive note, we should take a closer look at the river

0:37:410:37:45

and the land.

0:37:450:37:46

So, back outside and this, I have to say, IS the outside.

0:37:500:37:55

-Oh, OK. Just this part of the land?

-Yeah.

0:37:550:37:58

-But this is all public footpath.

-That's nice.

0:37:580:38:01

You can walk all the way across to the church and the village.

0:38:010:38:04

It's like having a huge garden that you don't have to look after.

0:38:040:38:08

So how much do you think it's worth, this unusual building?

0:38:090:38:12

Well, it's beautiful, it's been renovated extremely well

0:38:120:38:15

and I think maybe,

0:38:150:38:18

looking at, also, the land, about 610.

0:38:180:38:22

I'd be guessing around 650 to 700.

0:38:220:38:26

And again. He's good. It's actually on the market at 695.

0:38:270:38:30

Right.

0:38:300:38:32

So have a wander around and then I'll be here by the generator

0:38:320:38:35

-and we can motor on.

-All right.

-Thank you.

0:38:350:38:38

A fraction under budget at 695,000,

0:38:380:38:42

this semi-detached water mill is quite a rare opportunity.

0:38:420:38:45

It combines Neil's beloved mod cons with rustic authenticity.

0:38:450:38:51

It has a big country kitchen diner,

0:38:510:38:53

one reception room,

0:38:530:38:55

five bedrooms, four of which are en suites,

0:38:550:38:58

and it's very, very green.

0:38:580:39:00

In fact, when it comes to being eco-friendly,

0:39:000:39:03

this house will make money,

0:39:030:39:04

a return of about £2,500 a year.

0:39:040:39:07

It doesn't have acres of land

0:39:070:39:09

but it does back on to open, public countryside.

0:39:090:39:12

Can you imagine us being in here?

0:39:120:39:14

Yeah, I think it would be a nice working environment.

0:39:140:39:17

You've got that beautiful view.

0:39:170:39:20

I don't think I could work in here. I'd be distracted by the scenery.

0:39:200:39:24

-It's lovely.

-I'm really attracted to this idea of the hydro power

0:39:240:39:30

and being self-sufficient.

0:39:300:39:31

To come here and have that presented was a pleasant surprise.

0:39:310:39:36

Yeah, the actual environmental aspect of this house

0:39:360:39:40

excited Neil more than myself

0:39:400:39:42

because he thinks about it in a very mechanical way

0:39:420:39:45

and a way of saving money, as well.

0:39:450:39:47

-So we'll drag you away from this one.

-OK.

0:39:490:39:51

Let's go and think things over.

0:39:510:39:53

Great.

0:39:530:39:55

So with the sun going down, it's time to find out

0:39:580:40:00

if any of our properties have made the grade.

0:40:000:40:03

-There you go, you guys.

-Wonderful, thanks.

0:40:050:40:07

I do feel the pressure's been on us, slightly,

0:40:070:40:10

because it's such a big move for you, coming from Western Australia,

0:40:100:40:13

so I hope we've been able to help you in some way

0:40:130:40:16

by showing you some properties.

0:40:160:40:18

So can we go through them and talk about them in turn?

0:40:180:40:22

So the first one was quite a big renovation project.

0:40:220:40:25

That was the Georgian house, right in the middle of nowhere.

0:40:250:40:29

What are your thoughts about that?

0:40:290:40:31

It was really impressive and a very nice facade.

0:40:310:40:34

When you showed us the plans, it was evident it would be a nice place to live

0:40:340:40:39

once it was finished.

0:40:390:40:40

Did it raise a question about how much renovation you're willing to do?

0:40:400:40:44

Yeah, that was a concern of mine.

0:40:440:40:46

We never thought of going into this

0:40:460:40:48

looking for houses to do a big project.

0:40:480:40:51

I have to consider, "Well, what would it be like without Neil being here?"

0:40:510:40:55

and me actually coordinating doing this.

0:40:550:40:59

So it brought up a lot of questions for me.

0:40:590:41:01

Yeah. Now the thatched farmhouse in the beautiful little village.

0:41:010:41:05

-That seemed to get you very excited.

-Yes, it did, especially downstairs.

0:41:050:41:10

I really liked that. I loved the windows and the character

0:41:100:41:14

and just how it felt, generally speaking.

0:41:140:41:17

I really was thinking, "This could be it."

0:41:170:41:19

I really loved the back yard, the barn.

0:41:190:41:24

But the house itself seemed fairly small

0:41:240:41:27

and I couldn't see a lot of potential to improve it,

0:41:270:41:30

given it's grade listing.

0:41:300:41:32

So the mystery house was a mystery to you

0:41:320:41:35

and it's a mystery to me how you responded to it.

0:41:350:41:38

What are your thoughts on the mystery house?

0:41:380:41:41

I was initially very positive to the kitchen.

0:41:410:41:44

I was thinking, "OK, we can work with these beams if it's just within the kitchen area."

0:41:440:41:48

But I didn't realise that throughout the whole house

0:41:480:41:52

this was the main feature of the house.

0:41:520:41:55

When I saw the turbine, that really got my imagination going

0:41:550:41:59

and I thought, "This is great, fantastic."

0:41:590:42:01

-As we moved up through the house...

-Relentless beams.

0:42:010:42:04

It was relentless beams and small rooms,

0:42:040:42:06

so I was sort of put off by it.

0:42:060:42:09

So it seems that none of the properties really grabbed you

0:42:090:42:12

-to the point that you're going to put an offer in.

-That's right.

0:42:120:42:15

So looking at all the properties,

0:42:150:42:17

can you sum what you've, I don't want to say learnt,

0:42:170:42:21

but perhaps what conclusions you've drawn.

0:42:210:42:23

Well, we definitely need to be a bit more focused on what we want

0:42:230:42:28

and maybe increase our budget slightly up to the 900.

0:42:280:42:32

Or if we do stay within this budget, to try to compromise a wee bit

0:42:320:42:35

on our dream home.

0:42:350:42:38

I genuinely hope you find something and soon

0:42:380:42:40

-because it's been lovely showing you round.

-It's been great. Thank you.

0:42:400:42:45

Well, we didn't quite manage to create the Shakespearean happy ending

0:42:490:42:52

for our house-hunting couple from Australia,

0:42:520:42:55

but it wasn't a tragedy

0:42:550:42:56

and I hope they picked up some tips

0:42:560:42:58

and they'll be moving into somewhere soon.

0:42:580:43:01

Meanwhile, you can join us again on another Escape To The Country even sooner.

0:43:010:43:05

If you'd like to Escape To The Country in Northern Ireland, Wales,

0:43:060:43:10

Scotland or England and need our help, apply online at:

0:43:100:43:17

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:370:43:39

Email [email protected]

0:43:400:43:41

Alistair Appleton is in Warwickshire helping a young family relocate from Australia to settle in the heart of England. But will their budget of £700,000 stretch to a Georgian manor with large, impressive reception rooms and up to five acres of land? Alistair visits Warwick Castle and tries his hand at one of the most popular sports of the Middle Ages.


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