West Country Escape to the Country


West Country

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If you enjoy a slice of rural life, what better way to get a taste of what your chosen region has to offer

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than a trip to the local country show? So where are we today? Join me in a few minutes and I'll show you.

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'In today's show, I'll be helping a couple quit the London suburbs

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'to earn what they hope will be a substantial crust in the country. Time to launch our charm offensive.'

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-Oh, this is nice.

-Yeah.

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-That's it.

-It's happening. Definitely happening.

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You're joking!

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'And the business opportunities with our mystery house force them to do some blue-sky thinking.'

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Well, today we're in Dorset in the heart of the West Country.

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And this noisy, bustly place is the Melplash Country Show.

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It's a wonderful example of local colour and culture, produce and, of course, people.

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A great place to catch up on all the local gossip.

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The West Country is a rather informal term

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to describe the counties of south-west England

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with Devon and Dorset resolutely at its heart.

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It's easy to dwell on the spectacular 95-mile Jurassic coastline,

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England's first World Heritage Site,

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charting 185 million years of the Earth's history.

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But the region's rural backdrop is equally as impressive,

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rooted in a strong farming tradition and the spoils of two National Parks in Devon alone.

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The region offers up a varied mix of properties with those quintessential thatched cottages

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always an enticing sight for aspiring escapees.

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Now, currently, the national average house price

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is around about £258,000.

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Here in the West Country, though,

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you could expect to spend around 17% on top of that.

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And even if you did, unfortunately it won't get you this gorgeous pile behind me, Brympton D'Evercy.

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But the rise does go on and we think it's down to demographics.

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It's a very popular area for people to retire to.

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It could be the first part of the UK where a quarter of the population are pensioners.

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So if you want a slice of the action, you could have to move pretty quickly.

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But whatever your age or budget, there is plenty on offer.

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£250,000 could buy you this two-bedroom cottage in Mamhead,

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recently renovated throughout, making the most of quality wooden features

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from the fireplace to the bespoke oak kitchen fittings.

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A cosy thatch could be yours for £399,000

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in the form of this listed four-bedroom cottage in Cheriton Bishop.

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Its period features have been lovingly restored

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with the beams adding a rustic feel to the kitchen/diner.

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Or for £700,000, how about this Grade 2 listed thatched property in Otterton

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which oozes character with fireplaces and exposed beams running throughout its living areas?

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And the somewhat lavishly furnished master is one of four bedrooms on offer.

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The property market down here has plenty to tempt anybody away

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from suburban streets to a bit of pastoral perfection,

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exactly the kind of lifestyle that today's buyers are trying to find.

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'Paul, a civil engineer, and Diane, a school administrator,

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'have lived together in their three-bedroom house in Pinner for the past decade.

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'But they feel it's now time to break away from the London suburbs

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'and put some big business plans into action.'

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For me, having worked and lived in London for all my life,

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an hour and a half's commute each end of the day, definitely had enough.

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There's got to be more to life. What we would like to do ideally

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would be to have maybe four or five high-quality, four to five-star holiday lets

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which would attract an affluent customer.

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We're throwing ourselves into this wholeheartedly and it's a bit of a dream, you know.

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It's just going to be fabulous. I know it's going to work. We're going to put our heart and souls into it.

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'And family are obviously close to their hearts too.'

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One of the big reasons we're doing this is for my father.

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He currently lives by himself

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and he's getting less capable of tending to his own needs.

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We need to bring him in to live with us, so we can give him the care and attention that he deserves.

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'And their chosen location has got to be good for business.'

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Our criteria is that we want to be a maximum of three and a half hours from north-west London.

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That's a reasonable time for friends and relatives and paying guests

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to travel on a Friday night or a Saturday morning.

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It needs to be within walking distance of maybe a pub or a shop

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or somewhere where people can buy milk, emergency rations.

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But yeah... It is essential that we have the tranquillity and the peace and the views.

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So I think on the very outskirts of a village would be lovely, or a hamlet.

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'So what's the vision for their perfect property?'

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That photogenic, um... chocolate box image is high priority for me, a high one.

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We want a three-bed property.

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Reasonably large rooms downstairs, nice big kitchen.

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Secondly, we need an annexe for my father.

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The special features that I'd like to see in our house

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are things like inglenook fireplaces, bread ovens,

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beams, flagstone floors.

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Well, what I really would like is a big farmhouse kitchen,

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so that I have the space to do the cooking that I like to do.

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It would be lovely just to be able to spread out.

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'To finance the move, they have their house on the market

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'for £355,000.

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'To add to the pot, they've got some savings, the funds from selling Paul's father's house

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'and a business loan, so taking all that into account, how much do they have to spend?'

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Our maximum budget is £1.25 million.

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There's no denying the fact that Paul and Diane have a fantastic budget.

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But they also have a pretty extensive wish-list to go with it.

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Not only are we looking for a gorgeous country house, we also need a business.

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And we need somewhere for Peter, Paul's dad, so he can make his own escape to the country.

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Now, they are all London born and bred.

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Moving to the West Country will represent a huge change of lifestyle,

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which I suspect will involve a lot more than just money.

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Being three and a half hours from London is key to this move.

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But with such a formidable wish-list, we'll cast our net wide,

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spanning the Devon borders and even nudging into Somerset.

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I'll be showing Paul and Diane three different properties.

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But I won't be revealing the price of each until they've had a guess first.

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And our mystery house will challenge how close to home they want their business to be.

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Well, guys, welcome to what promises to be a pretty wet West Country.

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Thank you, Jules.

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So you're rolling the family finances into one

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to get this fantastic figure of what, 1.25 million?

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Yeah. That's the theory. I mean, with a good business plan

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for a holiday let business, hopefully we can achieve that budget and the property that we want.

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Now how much money does this business need to make?

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-I'm estimating that we need a turnover of approximately 80,000 to maintain the family.

-Yeah.

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-So you can chuck in the city life completely...

-Absolutely. Not a problem.

-Yeah.

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Not a problem. Can't wait!

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-Right. Let's go for a little wander.

-All right. Lovely.

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For a maximum budget of £1.25 million,

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Paul and Diane are looking for a detached character property

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with original features that give them a large kitchen/diner,

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at least three bedrooms, an annexe for Paul's father to make his own,

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along with the potential for a holiday let business

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that will generate £80,000 a year.

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And no more than three and a half hours from London.

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Well, having trawled the internet, how does it now feel

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to finally have the chance to get in some of these wonderful buildings?

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It's very exciting. I'm really looking forward to doing this.

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'We're kicking off our property search within Somerset's borders,

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'close to the village of Sparkford.

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'Their urban clientele can make a quick getaway from London

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'with a direct train to Castle Cary,

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'so rural peace and a Friday night pint at the local pub is within their reach.

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'Besides its listed church, there are some lovely historic properties dotted about,

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'such as this Grade 2 listed farmhouse, built in 1853 for a dual purpose.'

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-Right, what do you think of that? It was built as the local doctor's surgery.

-It's a handsome building.

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But it looks as if there is a little bit of external decorative work to be done.

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Yes. There's a good reason for that. There are plans for an extension.

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It would come off to the right-hand side there.

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-It could go all the way up or it could be a single storey.

-That sounds good.

-Right.

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-Shall we get out of the rain?

-Let's do it.

-Let's do that.

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'This Victorian property has good, solid bones

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'and the potential they're looking for to make their mark.'

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Right. Come on in, Diane.

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-Wow, look at this!

-Come in, Paul. What do you reckon?

-This is really nice.

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It's a fabulous space.

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-This is great.

-I think this is a building that offers all kinds of possibilities for you.

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The space in here is terrific. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd expect in, effectively, a farmhouse.

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Decoratively, we can tweak it. That isn't a problem.

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-The space and the feel is very comfortable.

-It's very good.

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Good. Right, follow me through here.

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-Wow!

-That's lovely.

-This would all have been sort of scullery/parlour, you know,

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going back to the Victorian day.

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-Um... This doorway is original. And this we think would've been the consulting room.

-OK.

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Although now it's a reception room.

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OK. Another gorgeous fireplace, actually.

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-Oh.

-Oh, that's pretty special.

-Yeah?

-Yeah!

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-It is currently the main reception room.

-Mm-hm.

-And I know, ideally, you want another one.

-Yes.

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-The extension is proposed, the bulk of it, to go there.

-Right.

-OK?

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So effectively this window would become a doorway. And you would have quite a generous garden room there.

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'They seem impressed by the generous proportions of the downstairs rooms.

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'And leading off the dining area is a useful cloakroom with a distinctly Victorian feel.

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'But now let's see if the space on offer in the five bedrooms spread over two floors measures up.'

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-So this is one of the three on this floor.

-Yeah. It's a very good size, actually. Very good size.

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-That's a big bed and it sits easily in here.

-Yeah.

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'Opposite the master is a single room, currently decked out with bunk beds

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'with a second dual-aspect double further down the landing and a family bathroom opposite.

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'But let's head up into the roof space.'

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I mean, you really do get the idea that you are approaching the top of this house...

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-It's so steep!

-Once you tackle the stairs, they are really steep!

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-Um... Great space, though.

-It is. It is. I'm liking the exposed structure here.

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-The roof structure is lovely.

-It's very nice.

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'And next door, the fifth bedroom is a mirror image, accessed by a separate flight of stairs.

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'This farmhouse certainly serves up ample space for them to live in.

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'And outside are stables and outbuildings with lapsed planning permission for residential use,

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'so there's the option of converting them into an annexe for Paul's father.

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'What's more, there's a finished blueprint round the corner,

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'where three former stables are currently being let out on rolling six-month leases,

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'generating £20,000 a year.'

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-Come in the dry.

-Oh, this is nice.

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-Yeah.

-My word! Beams!

-What do you think?

-We have some beams.

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I mean, this is very cosy, I think.

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-This one also has two double rooms with it. I mean, just going back to Dad...

-Hmm.

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-Incorporating him in this move.

-Yes.

-Would he settle into this, say,

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if you introduced this to him straight away?

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I think, provided something like this had disabled facilities,

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especially in the bathroom, this would be absolutely ideal with this sort of thing.

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-Because that's the other joy - it's all on one level.

-That's very important for him, no steps.

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So, let's go outside, check out a little bit more, finish the tour. And then we'll talk about the money.

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'There's a potential money-spinner outside as part of the ten-acre site is given over to paddocks

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'and equestrian facilities which they could rent out.'

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Well, Diane, how much do you think this little lot is worth?

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-Hmm...

-The rain's for free, by the way. You get that chucked in.

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Um... I think I'm going to go with...

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-875?

-Oh.

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-That is...

-Optimistic?

-Very optimistic. Yeah. OK.

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-OK!

-I'm going to go for 915.

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-Well, this was on the market for 1.25 million.

-Wow!

-Yeah.

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But it is now on the market for just under a million - 999.999.

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-So we have automatically saved you a quarter of a million pounds, Paul.

-I like that thought.

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-Well, go and get your calculator out.

-Yeah.

-Have a wander round. I'll catch up with you later. Off you go.

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'At just shy of a million pounds,

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'this Grade 2 listed farmhouse is a great opening gambit

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'and meets the demands on their wish-list,

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'offering them two reception rooms

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'with planning in place for a third.

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'A huge kitchen/diner,

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'five bedrooms and three holiday lets all ready to go

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'with another stable block ripe for conversion,

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'all wrapped up in ten acres.'

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The immediate reaction to the kitchen as we walked in was lovely.

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I loved that whole...flagstone floors. It was a big space.

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There's work to do. So I can see us spending the rest of our budget

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fitting the place up to what we need it to be.

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It doesn't quite have some of the features that I would like

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in terms of a more cottagey feel. That's really where my heart lies,

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in more of the oak beams, big inglenook fireplaces.

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Right, guys.

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-Come on. Nice for ducks, isn't it?

-Yes, absolutely.

-If I was a duck, I'd be really happy today.

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That was a really interesting property for you to look at

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because as well as focusing in on what kind of building you're after,

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it's also stirring up interesting ideas as to how you're going to finance this.

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-And how far you really need to stretch yourself.

-Yes.

-It's been very interesting indeed.

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-OK, one down, two to go.

-A good start. Excellent.

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Along with the spectacular rural hinterland,

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the south-west coast forms an important bedrock for British tourism.

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Devon and Dorset combined pull in over £3.5 billion a year.

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Its Jurassic stretch is dotted with historic seaside towns and ports

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of which Weymouth is a prime example.

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Today, visitors spend well over £140 million here every year.

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And as far back as 1789, this seaside resort met with royal approval.

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Earlier in the week, Paul and Diane met town guide Jackie Gibson to find out more.

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Weymouth first became a tourism hotspot when King George III made a number of holidays here

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to take in the health-giving properties of the water.

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So on a daily basis, the King would go into a bathing machine.

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He would be pulled by a shire horse into the water

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where he would be dipped into the water. And at the same time, the band would go in

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and strike up God Save The King every time he went in.

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-LAUGHTER

-Some described him as The Mad King.

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I think he was perfectly sensible coming here for his holidays!

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'With its waters also considered to be some of the best for sailing in northern Europe,

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'Weymouth's harbour will play host to the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

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'Still graced by its handsome Georgian buildings, it's a vibrant marine hub these days.

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'But back in the 14th century, these waters were troubled by local feuding.'

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So here we are in Weymouth harbour. This very much was two separate communities

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with Weymouth on our right-hand side now and Melcombe Regis to our left.

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The two areas used to continually fight over the use of the water.

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'But with the onset of the Hundred Years' War, they joined forces

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'and in 1347, provided 15 ships and 263 mariners for the Siege of Calais

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'where the English sealed an early victory.'

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The two towns put all their history behind them.

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And rather than having a rowing boat with a piece of rope as a ferry

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to get from one side of the harbour to the other,

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they built a bridge. And now rather than Weymouth and Melcombe Regis,

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we're just known as the town of Weymouth.

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'The town currently draws in well over a million visitors a year.

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'And with the Olympics on the horizon,

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'the region is sure to build on its reputation as a tourist hotspot.

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'Great news for Paul and Diane's venture.

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'Our house hunt continues over the border into Devon,

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'in the village of Tedburn St Mary,

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'just a couple of miles from the Dartmoor National Park,

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'so well located for their holiday guests with charming local pubs

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'and its church dating back to the 13th century.

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'Among the traditional thatched properties tucked way along its pretty lanes

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'is this impressive one.'

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-There.

-Wow!

-What about this one? That's beautiful.

-Wow!

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-Now, how old do you think it is?

-I mean, it's designed as a 200-year-old cottage,

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but it looks almost brand-new.

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-Really?

-Possibly.

-So if I told you that actually at its core it's a 12th-century mill...

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-Ah!

-You're kidding me.

-I can't see the core from here.

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-It's a 12th-century mill, hence the proximity to the brook.

-Yeah.

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But you are absolutely right in that effectively it's a new house.

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The whole thing has been redone.

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-Sounds good to me.

-That'll do!

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-You didn't want a project, did you?

-You persuaded me.

-Yeah, I know. Come on. Have a look.

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'That's the reaction I was hoping for. And as they'll see, the interior is just as charming.'

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OK, Diane.

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Come on in to here.

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-Yeah?

-Oh, look at the lovely fire!

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-That's fantastic. And the beam - that's nice.

-It's one hell of a beam. I'm loving the wonky walls as well.

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-Yeah.

-Oh, yeah. It's not a straight house, Paul.

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-Well, it shouldn't be. It shouldn't be.

-Quite right too.

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In our last property you were concerned that it didn't have that cottagey feel.

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-But I get the sense with this one you've lit up.

-Very much.

-Have a look at this room.

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'Next door is a generous dual-aspect dining room with a useful cloakroom by the entrance.

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'But I want to see what they think of their third reception room.'

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There we go. Come on in.

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-Oh, my goodness! Look at that fireplace.

-Yeah. Now we're talking!

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-Yeah?

-Yeah.

-Have you seen the ceiling?

-You wanted beams, Paul.

-That's it.

-My goodness!

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OK. Well, you know, lots of space here.

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Lots more to come because the kitchen is through that door there.

0:20:350:20:40

That's what I'm keen to see now.

0:20:400:20:42

'Brace yourself, guys, because it just gets better.'

0:20:420:20:46

Right. There.

0:20:460:20:49

-Wow! This is fabulous.

-Isn't it just? This place was a real wreck when the current owners bought it.

0:20:510:20:57

They've re-built the whole thing. Because the really clever bit is that this building isn't listed.

0:20:570:21:03

-I don't believe that.

-No. It's not listed.

0:21:030:21:05

So they had a free hand to really turn this into as modern a home as you can imagine.

0:21:050:21:10

-Yes.

-It's absolutely brilliant. I love the kitchen.

0:21:100:21:14

-Wouldn't change a thing at all.

-No? And the rest of it so far?

0:21:140:21:18

-That's it.

-It's happening.

-Yeah.

-Definitely happening.

-Good.

0:21:180:21:22

-Let's see what happens upstairs...

-OK.

-Missus(!)

0:21:220:21:25

LAUGHTER

0:21:250:21:27

'So far they seem utterly smitten by the downstairs of our mill house.

0:21:270:21:32

'So we'll head upstairs and see if the potential master, one of three bedrooms up here, measures up.'

0:21:320:21:37

-Now then...

-Wow!

-Start in here, shall we?

0:21:370:21:41

-What do you reckon?

-Master bedroom, I take it?

-I'm going to suggest that it might be the master bedroom.

0:21:410:21:48

So again no straight lines. The floors are all a bit wonky. But it's just gorgeous.

0:21:480:21:54

Look at that view out the window as well.

0:21:540:21:56

-Waking up in here would be great.

-To your own bridge.

-Yeah. And your own brook!

0:21:560:22:02

'Well, if they like that, they're going to love soaking up the view from the next room.'

0:22:020:22:07

Now then... Come in here.

0:22:080:22:10

LAUGHTER

0:22:100:22:12

-Yeah?

-Great shower.

0:22:120:22:15

What a bathroom. That's fantastic!

0:22:150:22:17

Now, the view here when you're sat in the bath or laying in the bath...

0:22:170:22:22

-Oh, my goodness!

-Straight through the garden, through the gate to the woodland beyond. Yeah?

0:22:220:22:27

'The other two bedrooms consist of a lovely spacious double and another great-size guest room

0:22:270:22:34

'with a tasteful, modern en-suite.

0:22:340:22:36

'The character and finish of this house seem to have hit the right note.

0:22:360:22:41

'Outside is full of cottage garden charm too, with bridges over the brook and a vegetable garden

0:22:410:22:46

'with raised beds and a state-of-the-art greenhouse, complete with chicken run.

0:22:460:22:51

'But the real magic of this property starts here.'

0:22:510:22:54

And the more formal bit, I suppose. But this bridge here goes back over the brook

0:22:540:22:59

and I think really marks the transition between the formal garden

0:22:590:23:04

and what I can only describe as an enchanted garden.

0:23:040:23:08

You wanted woodland, mate. There's five acres of it over there.

0:23:080:23:12

LAUGHTER

0:23:120:23:14

'And that's just for starters.

0:23:150:23:18

'All told, they get over 19 acres with a pond, paddocks, and there's a host of outbuildings,

0:23:180:23:23

'including an animal shelter and hay barn.

0:23:230:23:26

'There's potential for Paul's father to have his own self-contained abode with access at ground level

0:23:260:23:32

'to this lovely light annexe, the downstairs of which serves as a double garage.

0:23:320:23:37

'With house and land covered, it's time to do some straight talking about the money.'

0:23:370:23:42

Now, the business plan... What, of course, we haven't got

0:23:420:23:46

are ready-made holiday cottages for you at the moment.

0:23:460:23:50

How about yurts? They're not permanent, so planners can look quite favourably on them.

0:23:500:23:56

A decent yurt will set you back about six grand.

0:23:560:23:59

But in the high season, people queue up to spend a weekend in one.

0:23:590:24:03

-Wow!

-That's intriguing.

-That's certainly something to look into.

0:24:030:24:07

-It's certainly a lot cheaper than building a holiday cottage.

-Yes.

0:24:070:24:12

Because the key thing is, how much is this all going to cost you?

0:24:120:24:17

-Paul, you start this time.

-It's your turn.

0:24:170:24:19

-I'm thinking sort of 1.2 plus a little bit.

-Diane?

0:24:190:24:25

I think... I'm going to be optimistic again, Jules,

0:24:250:24:29

and go with 1.15.

0:24:290:24:32

1.15.

0:24:320:24:34

Well, if it were on the market for £825,000...

0:24:340:24:39

You are joking!

0:24:390:24:42

-That's fantastic.

-You might not need to worry about the mortgage, Paul.

-Hmm...

0:24:420:24:47

-That is a shock.

-Go and explore the rest of the grounds,

0:24:470:24:51

the house. Get into it.

0:24:510:24:53

-Soak it all up. Think about Dad.

-Yeah.

-And I'll catch up with you later.

-Thank you.

-Off you go.

0:24:530:25:00

Gorgeous.

0:25:010:25:02

'Very comfortably under budget at £825,000,

0:25:020:25:07

'our stunning mill house seems to offer them the full package.

0:25:070:25:11

'You've got three spacious reception rooms,

0:25:110:25:15

'a stunning kitchen/diner,

0:25:150:25:17

'three bedrooms and a separate annexe for Paul's father.

0:25:170:25:21

'And beautiful wooded ground,

0:25:210:25:23

'potentially great terrain for yurts,

0:25:230:25:26

'each of which could bring in

0:25:260:25:28

'up to £300 for a long weekend.'

0:25:280:25:31

We saw the thatch and immediately that blew us away. It just looked stunning with the cream walls.

0:25:310:25:37

A typical, you know, chocolate box cottage. It's a fantastic impression.

0:25:370:25:42

So do you think this will work as an annexe for your dad?

0:25:420:25:45

-If the property has a weak point, this is it.

-Yeah.

0:25:450:25:50

It's quite small. And it's quite cut off from the main house by steps and slopes.

0:25:500:25:56

When we came outside and saw the land here,

0:25:560:26:01

it's just amazing. The woodland is so beautiful and so natural.

0:26:010:26:06

-Torn yourselves away then?

-Just about.

0:26:060:26:09

-That was a task.

-I knew it wouldn't be easy, guys. It's a very nice property, this.

0:26:090:26:15

-Absolutely magical.

-Have we rocked the boat then?

-Yeah.

-Just a bit.

-You certainly have.

-Good.

0:26:150:26:21

'So as the sun goes down over the West Country,

0:26:280:26:31

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

0:26:310:26:36

'Armed with a one-and-a-quarter million pound budget,

0:26:380:26:41

'Paul and Diane want to quit their life of long commutes into London

0:26:410:26:46

'and find a property in the West Country where they can build a luxury holiday let business.

0:26:460:26:52

'We've shown them two rural sites with business potential.

0:26:520:26:56

'But our mystery house will push them to do a re-think.'

0:26:560:26:59

-Wow!

-It's incredible.

0:26:590:27:01

'And I go under canvas where competition is rife.'

0:27:010:27:06

You know, when we started out with Paul and Diane, I was a bit anxious.

0:27:060:27:10

They had said that they'd looked at a great many properties.

0:27:100:27:14

But none of them satisfied them. So it does beg the question - what is going to work?

0:27:140:27:19

The truth is that having looked at many online, they hadn't looked at many in the flesh.

0:27:190:27:24

So far they've seen two of ours. They've been quite interested in both of them.

0:27:240:27:29

Certainly thrilled by the second one. But it's mystery house time. It's our final day of house-hunting.

0:27:290:27:34

What will that throw up, I wonder?

0:27:340:27:37

'With a big holiday business in mind,

0:27:370:27:40

'we're off to the east Devon coast,

0:27:400:27:42

'to the seaside resort of Budleigh Salterton.

0:27:420:27:45

'Its three-mile stretch of red sandstone cliffs form part of the Jurassic Coast.

0:27:450:27:50

'The seafront, shops and cafes are within walking distance of our mystery house,

0:27:500:27:55

'where we're going all out for high-end income without a holiday let in sight.'

0:27:550:28:00

-There you go.

-Gosh! A mansion.

0:28:000:28:02

-The whole thing is absolutely gorgeous. 1920s or thereabouts.

-OK.

0:28:020:28:07

-Now, of course, we have discussed holiday lets in some detail. We haven't really touched on B&B.

-No.

0:28:070:28:13

-But this is a five-star B&B.

-Right.

-In its first year it turned over £80,000.

0:28:130:28:20

-This year they think they'll turn over nearly 100.

-Wow!

-Wow! That's incredible.

-Mm-hm.

0:28:200:28:26

Right, let's go and see what you think.

0:28:260:28:28

'The figures seem to have impressed them. And I'm confident the house will too.'

0:28:280:28:33

-Come on in...to the mystery hall.

-Wow!

-The foyer!

0:28:330:28:38

-Some foyer. It's fantastic!

-Isn't it?

-Very grand.

-Beautiful staircase.

0:28:380:28:43

-It just oozes class.

-There's an awful lot to explore here.

0:28:430:28:46

The foyer kind of is the interface, really, between the family side and guest side.

0:28:460:28:52

-So which side shall we start with first?

-It's got to be the family side, I think.

-Family side? OK.

0:28:520:28:59

Let's go through these doors here.

0:28:590:29:01

OK, now then... Not your average B&B kitchen.

0:29:050:29:10

No, absolutely. Look at that space!

0:29:100:29:12

-It's a nice space. Everything's all in, isn't it? It's a big room.

-It's fabulous.

0:29:120:29:18

It's a huge family room, this,

0:29:180:29:20

-which I think is a real sanctuary, if you will...

-Mm-hm.

0:29:200:29:23

..from guests over there. You're in here. Nice dining area.

0:29:230:29:27

-Seating area. Somewhere to relax, chill out.

-It's a really lovely social space, actually.

0:29:270:29:33

-So this is you.

-Yeah.

-Guests. Let's see what they're going to enjoy. Through here.

0:29:330:29:38

'By the kitchen there's also a cloakroom and a useful laundry room.

0:29:390:29:43

'And they get a second rather grand living room all to themselves

0:29:430:29:47

'as their guests get their own impressive reception areas to relax in.'

0:29:470:29:52

So this is the other half of what's on offer, the guest half, if you will.

0:29:520:29:57

As you can see, guest dining and living room.

0:29:570:30:01

-This is handsome, isn't it?

-Very comfortable looking. Very luxurious.

0:30:010:30:06

Now, of course, it is a bed and breakfast, so let's go and check out the beds.

0:30:060:30:11

-They are as good, if not better...

-Good stuff.

-..than this.

0:30:110:30:15

'Upstairs, the five bedrooms offer up high-end accommodation throughout.'

0:30:150:30:20

OK, guys. Well, let's start with the kind of family end of it.

0:30:200:30:24

This would be your master bedroom.

0:30:240:30:26

-It's a fabulous size. Wall-to-wall wardrobes.

-Get all your clobber in there.

-All my clothes. Absolutely.

0:30:260:30:33

Again it goes to the heart of making sure that you as a couple, as a family,

0:30:330:30:38

-are as comfortable as your guests, if not more so.

-Yeah.

0:30:380:30:42

'And that's certainly the case with the superb walk-in shower they get in their en-suite.

0:30:420:30:48

'Further along the landing is one of the two B&B rooms with the same luxury on offer.'

0:30:480:30:53

Now, slightly squeaky floorboards at this end. You'll know what's going on here.

0:30:530:30:58

-Lovely en-suite in there with bath, which is just lovely.

-Yes.

0:30:580:31:03

And then in here. You know, long weekend, a week...

0:31:030:31:07

-I'd be very happy for a week in here.

-Same here.

-Very comfortable.

-If we're going to do B&B,

0:31:070:31:13

we'd love to do something high-end like this, so it's really interesting to see it.

0:31:130:31:18

We'd need to think about it a lot, I think. But it's giving us some good vibes at the moment.

0:31:180:31:25

'The other paying double guest bedroom is again beautifully decorated

0:31:250:31:29

'with the fourth double given over to family guests. The fifth room is used for laundry.

0:31:290:31:35

'The quality finish of our spacious mystery property seems to be making the B&B idea an appealing one.

0:31:350:31:41

'And outside across the driveway from the main house is a detached annexe

0:31:410:31:46

'with two self-contained bedrooms, one of which could suit Paul's dad down to the ground.'

0:31:460:31:52

Right, chaps.

0:31:520:31:54

Now...

0:31:540:31:55

-As you would expect, standard is really high.

-Yes.

0:31:560:32:00

Loads of space. Nice seating area here.

0:32:000:32:03

But this one is different to next door in that it has the addition of this little kitchenette area,

0:32:030:32:09

leading on to another beautifully appointed en-suite. But what about in terms of Dad?

0:32:090:32:14

It's looking good. I mean, there's the space he needs. There's the facilities he needs certainly.

0:32:140:32:20

-It's not too far from the house.

-I really like it.

0:32:200:32:24

'And they could still use the second bedroom and en-suite next door for paying guests.

0:32:240:32:30

'Outside, the attractive gardens amount to just under an acre

0:32:300:32:35

'and include a huge timber-frame greenhouse.

0:32:350:32:38

'The big question is - has our magnificent mystery property won them over enough

0:32:380:32:43

'to do a complete U-turn on their vision for the business? And, of course, at what cost?'

0:32:430:32:49

-Right, guys. Well, here we are.

-Stunning house.

-Isn't it?

-Very nice.

0:32:490:32:54

So, how much is it worth to you?

0:32:540:32:57

-1.1 million.

-1.1 million.

-Yeah.

0:32:570:33:01

I'm going to say, um... 1.05.

0:33:010:33:06

It's actually on the market for less than that.

0:33:060:33:09

-This could be yours for £950,000.

-Really?

-Very good.

-Yeah?

-Very good.

-That's interesting.

0:33:090:33:16

-So a cool 300 grand under your proposed maximum spend.

-It is.

-Absolutely.

0:33:160:33:22

-It's something certainly to consider.

-Right. Go and consider.

0:33:220:33:26

-Go and make a list of all the pros and cons. I'll catch you later.

-All right then.

-Off you go. Brilliant.

0:33:260:33:32

'Under budget at £950,000,

0:33:340:33:37

'our immaculate mystery property

0:33:370:33:39

'throws their business plan completely up in the air.

0:33:390:33:43

'However, it is a tantalising package,

0:33:430:33:46

'offering them superb, yet separate reception areas

0:33:460:33:49

'for family and their holiday guests, five bedrooms,

0:33:490:33:53

'an annexe for Paul's father

0:33:530:33:55

'and they would inherit a healthy B&B business

0:33:550:33:57

'with a secure £80,000 a year turnover.

0:33:570:34:00

'And it's all set in a seaside tourist hotspot

0:34:000:34:03

'with direct train links

0:34:030:34:05

'from nearby Exeter to London,

0:34:050:34:07

'ideal for weekend escapees.'

0:34:070:34:09

For Dad, in terms of the annexe facilities,

0:34:090:34:13

I think this is possibly the best we've seen.

0:34:130:34:16

-If I could get my head around the whole idea of the B&B aspect, people in your house...

-Yes.

0:34:160:34:22

-..then maybe it would work.

-Yeah. I do love the great big space with the kitchen/diner and lounge.

0:34:220:34:28

But I was hoping to have more reception space.

0:34:280:34:32

Right, guys. Well, that's it, I'm afraid. We're going to close the door on the mystery house.

0:34:350:34:41

House tours are now done and dusted.

0:34:410:34:43

-Mm-hm.

-How are we feeling?

0:34:430:34:45

-Um... The mind's going 19 to the dozen.

-The variety of what you've shown us is fantastic.

0:34:450:34:51

-So many different options to consider.

-That's what I wanted to do.

-Yeah.

0:34:510:34:56

If that's where we're at, I'm delighted. The key thing now is have we come up with a solution

0:34:560:35:02

or just confused you? Come on.

0:35:020:35:04

LOUD MOOING

0:35:110:35:14

'Agricultural shows have throughout history celebrated the best of what rural life has to offer.

0:35:140:35:20

'Dating back over 200 years, they grew out of a desire to encourage competition and improvement,

0:35:200:35:26

'much needed during the early 19th-century agricultural depression.

0:35:260:35:30

'Even today, of the 20,000 people who flock to the Melplash Show,

0:35:300:35:34

'around half come to compete, be it with their prize livestock or produce.'

0:35:340:35:40

Now, if you think that competing in the horticultural tent here at a country show

0:35:400:35:45

is all about producing suggestively shaped vegetables, well, think again.

0:35:450:35:50

The men and women that compete here every year are passionate about their produce.

0:35:500:35:55

'I'm meeting Cyril Whitlock, who besides being a part-time judge, is an avid competitor himself.'

0:35:550:36:02

Now, what are you exhibiting? What is your key exhibit here?

0:36:020:36:06

-Well, I've entered the dahlias here in this class.

-Wow!

0:36:060:36:10

It's a class for a mixed vase.

0:36:100:36:12

That's... They are stunning.

0:36:120:36:14

-Yes.

-But in terms of the competition, Cyril,

0:36:140:36:18

how are you going to do? I mean, how do the other exhibits sort of stack up against yours?

0:36:180:36:23

There is one exhibit that's very good and that's this one here.

0:36:230:36:27

The colour is stunning, isn't it?

0:36:270:36:29

And brilliant condition. They are really lovely.

0:36:290:36:33

-That's a prize exhibit.

-That, I think, will be hard to beat.

0:36:330:36:37

'But it's not only floral displays that fall under the horticultural umbrella.

0:36:370:36:43

'As you'd expect, local vegetables also take pride of place.'

0:36:430:36:46

I know you're exhibiting potatoes. Which ones are yours?

0:36:460:36:50

-These.

-The Balmoral?

-That's the Balmoral. Very good variety.

0:36:500:36:54

Now, come on, anybody watching this is going to say, "Oh, it's just a potato, Cyril."

0:36:540:37:00

This has been grown in a peat base in a bag

0:37:000:37:03

-to get them like that.

-Not in soil?

-Not in the soil in the open ground.

0:37:030:37:07

-And what does that do? Does it give you that lovely smooth texture?

-Yes.

0:37:070:37:11

So when you dig them up or take them out, you wash them. Then you wrap them in paper.

0:37:110:37:17

-And then you put them...

-I love your face. You're so proud! They're like your babies, aren't they?

0:37:170:37:23

Well, I am proud of those, actually, yes.

0:37:230:37:26

-I think we are being hurried out of here because judging is about to begin.

-We must go.

-Come on then.

0:37:260:37:32

'Cyril would normally be judging in the horticultural section,

0:37:330:37:38

'but as there's clearly a conflict of interest,

0:37:380:37:41

'all he can do is sweat it out for a nail-biting two hours until judging is finally over.'

0:37:410:37:47

These to me look very nice.

0:37:470:37:50

My first impression of these is they are well-grown, well-spaced, nice colours.

0:37:500:37:55

No damage on this one.

0:37:550:37:57

-The quality of the dahlias...

-The dahlias, much better.

0:37:570:38:01

-..is very good.

-The foliage is very clean. It's an eye-opener. It's a much bigger exhibit than the others.

0:38:010:38:07

Balmoral. I can't say I've grown this one.

0:38:070:38:10

But that's a nice, uniform set.

0:38:100:38:13

-Not bad. Nice and clean.

-A little small?

-Yes. Yes.

0:38:130:38:18

-We'll give those first then.

-Second?

-And they're second.

0:38:180:38:22

It can't be that far off, can it?

0:38:250:38:27

-Ah, brilliant.

-We're on.

-We're on.

-Come on. Let's have a look.

-Let's have a look.

0:38:270:38:32

-Right, Cyril. How's it looking? Oh, what do the colours tell you?

-No. I knew.

0:38:320:38:38

-What did I tell you?

-You got second.

-I got second.

0:38:380:38:41

-But I think that would've... I told you that would've won.

-You thought this was the competition?

0:38:410:38:47

-It was exceptionally good, wasn't it?

-First prize.

0:38:470:38:50

-There you go. But what about those stud spuds? Let's see how they got on.

-Right.

0:38:500:38:55

-Oh, no!

-Nah!

-It's another second, Cyril!

-I know!

0:38:550:38:59

-And these were the competition?

-Yes. And they're best in show.

-Second best in show.

-Second best in show.

0:38:590:39:05

-Well, that is what a prize-winning potato looks like.

-They are very, very good, yes.

0:39:050:39:12

'With our house search now at an end,

0:39:160:39:19

'I wonder if Paul and Diane will run with any of the business options our properties have served up?'

0:39:190:39:26

Well, guys, here we are.

0:39:280:39:30

-It's the end of the road, as it were.

-Mm-hm.

0:39:300:39:33

Or indeed the beginning of a new one, if we've found your new property, I wonder?

0:39:330:39:38

We started with the old doctor's surgery, the equestrian property with ten acres, the stables

0:39:380:39:43

and the three holiday lets.

0:39:430:39:45

Now you've had time to really mull that one over, what do you think?

0:39:450:39:49

Well, it was a very spacious house. Lovely big kitchen there.

0:39:490:39:53

Needed a little bit of work doing. I think the extension that was mentioned,

0:39:530:39:58

we'd want that if we were to take that property for the extra reception area.

0:39:580:40:02

With the holiday lets, we'd have to spend a lot of money on them. We would have to strip out completely

0:40:020:40:08

and re-start to get to the level of accommodation that we want to provide.

0:40:080:40:13

But our second property was different all again.

0:40:130:40:16

It's just a gorgeous house in a gorgeous setting that we all fell in love with!

0:40:160:40:21

-Talk me through it.

-It was absolutely fantastic.

0:40:210:40:25

The house, you couldn't fault. It was the chocolate box image.

0:40:250:40:29

The thatched roof. Very modernised, but in a very, very tasteful and most acceptable way to me.

0:40:290:40:36

I think we had a bit of a dilemma with the annexe situation.

0:40:360:40:41

It was still a little bit awkward to get an access to the house. We're concerned about Paul's dad, Peter.

0:40:410:40:47

And I think as we walked round, we were wondering where the business aspect was coming from?

0:40:470:40:52

-Yes. It was a shock.

-We threw the idea of yurts into the mix.

0:40:520:40:57

And very easy to imagine

0:40:570:40:59

down by the brook there, those lovely gladed paddocks.

0:40:590:41:03

-An idyllic location for exactly that.

-Yeah.

0:41:030:41:07

-Our little search wasn't over just yet because there was, of course, one final property to come.

-Mm-hm.

0:41:070:41:13

The fabled mystery house.

0:41:130:41:15

-It was a little bit special.

-Yeah. I think it was very special!

0:41:150:41:20

-You know, with a very handsome income attached to it.

-It was a complete curve ball.

0:41:200:41:25

They've set it up perfectly. The rooms are exquisite.

0:41:250:41:29

And it's no wonder that they can easily turn over that kind of money out of just four rooms.

0:41:290:41:34

I think for me personally, the B&B prospect is still a bit of a stumbling block.

0:41:340:41:39

Getting up early in the morning to do other people's breakfasts...

0:41:390:41:44

-LAUGHTER It's not for you!

-It's not at this moment in time for me.

0:41:440:41:49

We've tempted you handsomely with all three.

0:41:490:41:52

If I were to give you the keys to any one of them, which one would it be?

0:41:520:41:56

-Have a guess, Jules.

-It's got to be number two.

-It's number two.

-You're bang-on.

-Course it is!

0:41:560:42:02

Well, guys, I can see it's going to take a little while for all this to sink in

0:42:020:42:07

and for you to finally make your minds up and make the move,

0:42:070:42:11

to take this great leap of faith from Pinner to the West Country.

0:42:110:42:16

And bring your dad with you.

0:42:160:42:18

-But when you do, I think you are going to fit right in.

-Thank you very much.

0:42:180:42:23

-So it's been a real pleasure. And, as always, very best of luck. Cheers.

-Cheers.

-Cheers indeed.

0:42:230:42:29

The pebbles here on the beach at Budleigh Salterton are unique.

0:42:350:42:39

They're not found anywhere else along the British coastline.

0:42:390:42:44

And when you look at patterns like that, it's believable.

0:42:440:42:47

And I suppose in some ways they're a nice analogy for house hunts.

0:42:470:42:51

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, different people, different requirements.

0:42:510:42:57

You never quite know what you're going to get. But I think as Paul and Diane have found,

0:42:570:43:02

having a country dream is one thing. Figuring out what that's going to take in reality to make it happen

0:43:020:43:08

is something else, but like pebbles, if you look hard enough,

0:43:080:43:12

you may just find what you're looking for.

0:43:120:43:15

If you want to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,

0:43:150:43:19

Northern Ireland or England and would like our help,

0:43:190:43:23

then please apply online at:

0:43:230:43:25

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:43:460:43:50

Email [email protected]

0:43:500:43:53

Jules Hudson is in the West Country helping a couple leave suburbia behind and earn a crust in the countryside. With a healthy budget of £1.25 million they are looking for a period character home with an annexe for dad and a high-end holiday let business.


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