Wiltshire Escape to the Country


Wiltshire

Alistair Appleton helps a couple returning from Australia find a rural retreat in Wiltshire on a budget of £600,000. But property prices in the UK take them by surprise.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

These 29 locks were on what was essentially the M4 of the 19th century,

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the canal that linked the West Country to London.

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This wasn't the fastest bit of it cos it takes 4.5 hours

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to bring your boat up 237 metres.

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Where am I? Find out as we Escape to the Country!

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Today, we're helping a young family return from "down under"

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to find their dream country pile.

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We have some first-rate contenders.

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-That's fantastic.

-Oh, wow!

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Good, isn't it?

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-Yes! Very good!

-That's an understatement!

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But will British property prices be a bit of a shocker?

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450.

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I think 500,000.

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OK. You have been away for quite a while!

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Today I'm in Wiltshire, and this amazing looking thing

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is the Caen Hill flight of locks

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which was created 200 years ago.

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It really is a miracle of engineering because, amongst other things,

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it pumps 32 million litres of water from the bottom of the hill to the top

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in order to make sure all the locks flow properly.

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It's not just water that flows down here,

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but also thousands of happy holidaymakers

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and barge enthusiasts exploring the backwaters of this very beautiful county.

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Gateway to the West Country,

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Wiltshire is bordered by six counties

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including Berkshire to the east, and Somerset, Dorset and Gloucestershire to the west.

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It's undeniably pretty.

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In fact, 44% of this traditionally rural landscape

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comes under the "Outstanding Natural Beauty" umbrella.

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The phrase "rolling green hills" could have been coined for this county.

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With the arable farmland of the Marlborough Downs

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and taking in parts of the Cotswolds, it's quintessentially English countryside at its best.

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Believed to be the home of Britain's first settlers, the Beaker Folk, Wiltshire is surrounded by myth.

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Enduring mysteries shroud its Neolithic stone circles,

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from World Heritage Site Stonehenge to Avebury.

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With two-thirds of Wiltshire lying on chalk,

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its residents over the centuries have been given a very wide canvas

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and white horses dot the chalky hills.

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They have become the county's unofficial emblem.

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It's home to a wealth of character housing stock from medieval thatches to Chilmark stone cottages.

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But depending on where you're looking to buy in the county, you may need deep pockets!

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Property prices in Wiltshire vary very wildly

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with the north-east generally outperforming the south-west.

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But with the best and most prestigious schools in the county,

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Marlborough takes the biscuit for being the most expensive place to buy.

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Local estate agents say if you're willing to move ten miles north or west or south from Marlborough

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then you can knock 25% off the price of a house.

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So what else does this mystical county have to offer in terms of property?

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Let's find out, shall we?

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If you're thinking big,

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check out this beautiful four-bed 14th-century thatch in Wanborough.

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You get a 31-foot bespoke country kitchen. Two reception rooms serve up character features galore

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and it's all set in an impressive 5.5 acres.

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Its price tag is also substantial.

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1.3 million.

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However, if you like character with modern convenience,

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this four-bedroom thatch in Barford St Martin could be for you.

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On the market at £525,000, you get three reception rooms, a country kitchen,

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and a terraced garden perfect for al fresco dining.

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Finally, this converted three-bed chapel in Great Cheverell

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is certainly worth praise.

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If you worship both character and open-plan living,

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it could be just the ticket.

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It's on the market at £395,000.

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There are some beautiful properties here in Wiltshire.

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Our couple today have come a long way to find them

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because they're swapping a life down under, with Bondai and barbies

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for one that involves British bangers and brollies!

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Let's meet them.

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Today's house-hunters are Steve, an online manager for a mobile phone company,

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his wife, Carolyn, and their children - Ella, Scarlet and Cameron.

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They've just spent three years working and living down under in Oz.

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But that stint was long enough for them to realise that there's no place like home.

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We had a fantastic time there. It was a great experience for us and all the family.

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But it became obvious for what I call the three "F"s,

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family, friends and football!

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They can't be replicated over in Australia.

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So it was time to come back.

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Since arriving home a few months ago,

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they've been living with Carolyn's mum in a three-bed house in Berkshire.

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It's living in someone else's house. No matter how great they are.

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Every now and again she walks in on me in the bathroom

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which, when it's your mother-in-law, is not great, really!

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With space and dignity in short supply,

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finding somewhere of their own, fast, is obviously a priority.

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What part of our green and pleasant land have they set their sights on?

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Cameron is at a school in Newbury.

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So we're kind of looking from west Berkshire out to as far as Marlborough in Wiltshire.

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Cameron's education is catered for. But what about the girls?

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Ideally we'd like to have a primary school, pre-school, in the village that's walkable.

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So that's the location. Now let's turn our attention to bricks and mortar.

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Our dream list, I guess, would be the large kitchen/diner.

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The lounge with the open fire.

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The study, the four bedrooms.

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A couple of bathrooms, maybe one of those being en-suite.

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And how much outside space are they hankering after?

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We'd love to have an acre, half an acre, of garden.

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That would be the ideal.

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But I think that's probably one of the areas

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that we find we could compromise on.

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Open to compromise. That's a phrase I like!

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Do they have a style of property in mind?

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We're fairly flexible.

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I think the only thing that's a real no-no

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is probably a new, brand-new, kind of property.

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We're looking for something more with character or age.

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In terms of creating spaces, knocking the odd wall down,

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we're quite up for that.

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Both are selling the UK houses they had before they met,

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which, on completion, will effectively make them cash buyers.

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So how much are they planning to spend?

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Our budget for our property is up to £600,000.

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We'd better get this house hunt on the road

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or they'll be living with their in-laws for Christmas, and we don't want that.

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Ironically, the real problem is not the four bedrooms or the three reception rooms

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or even the acre of land.

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The real problem is the school catchment area.

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Living near a good school in Wiltshire is like gold dust.

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It puts a lot of pressure on an already pressurised house search.

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So I hope they're ready to make some compromises.

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Carolyn and Steve want to focus their search in north-east Wiltshire,

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in the villages and hamlets around Marlborough

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and no more than 45 minutes from Newbury, where Cameron is at school.

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We have some great properties to view, but I won't reveal the price tags

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until they've taken everything in.

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Finally, there's a mystery house, which will turn the tables on their wish list.

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-Hi, guys.

-Hi.

-How are you?

-Welcome to Wiltshire.

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-Thank you.

-I've brought you onto the Ridgeway so you get a big view

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over the gorgeous countryside.

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Fantastic.

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Our task is to get you out of your mum's house. You love her dearly

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but I imagine you're tearing each other's hair out.

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-Yes.

-We want to get you a beautiful family home.

-Yes.

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We want something close to Cameron, who's at school near Newbury.

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-Newbury.

-That's an important factor.

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And also the good news is that you've sold your houses.

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-Yes.

-Just last week.

-What does that mean for us?

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That means we're now cash buyers, ready to go.

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-So bring it on.

-Your budget?

-£600,000.

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That's a good, healthy budget, but it's a pressurised market around Marlborough and Newbury.

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-So we'll have to keep alert.

-Yes.

-Yep.

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But they're out there and waiting for us.

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-Let's go.

-Excellent.

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So, for a maximum budget of £600,000,

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Carolyn and Steve have a considerable wish list.

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They want this package to be set in a village with a good pre-school and primary school.

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It all needs to be within commutable distance of Cameron's boarding school in Newbury.

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Luckily, they don't mind knocking down a few walls

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to create their dream pad.

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What won't you compromise on?

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There are three things we'd like to avoid compromising on.

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The kitchen/diner, or the ability to create one, at least.

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A study because I do sometimes work from home. I need space away from the children.

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-And the garden. We're not expecting rolling acres...

-Good!

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-It needs to be big enough for a game of football.

-Game of football?!

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-Football.

-11-a-side or five-a-side?

-Two-a-side!

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Time to kick off our house-hunt.

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We're starting at Ogbourne St Andrew, 40 minutes from Newbury,

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and two miles from Marlborough,

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placing it in the catchment for a highly-sought-after state school

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and it's one of Steve and Carolyn's preferred areas.

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The village itself is absurdly pretty.

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Quiet lanes are lined with cosy thatches and grand Georgian manors.

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Serving the community is one church and one gastro-pub.

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The all-important pre-school and primary are five minutes away in Ogbourne St George.

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So, this is the property I want to show you.

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What do you think?

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It looks like it's the right sort of size.

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I quite like the look of it.

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It's maybe not the old country house I was looking for, but it looks very nice.

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I'm glad Carolyn is keeping an open mind

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because getting a period home of the size they want on their budget

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in this neck of the woods is mission impossible.

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However, this 17-year-old property has been extended

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and offers an extensive family home they could re-jig to suit them.

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We go straight into the big sitting room

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which spans the whole depth of the house.

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-It's a good-sized room. I like the size.

-It's got a family feel about it.

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Even though the set-up is quite formal, it's got a family feel.

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Does it bother you that it's modern?

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Not so far.

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We can go through these double doors, which are arched.

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They're using this as the dining room but it could be a study or anything.

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-It leads into the garden.

-Nice double doors to the garden.

-The doors are nice.

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Well, you might want to combine it with this room.

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This is your kitchen.

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OK.

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Right. It's quite long and thin.

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The obvious solution that leaps to my mind

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is to have all that light from there and make this one big kitchen/diner.

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You do have a utility room off here. You could also knock through that way.

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And a family room.

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-This is the extension, so it's the part they added on.

-OK.

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-Nice and bright. Doors out into the garden.

-It says study to me.

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-Immediately.

-It says study?

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-I might put my towel down in this room!

-Very good.

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-Where would the kids go?

-Yeah.

-Somewhere else.

-Somewhere else, yes!

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You do have the garage through there, so you could put them in there!

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I jest! There's plenty of room in this house for children and visitors,

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with five bedrooms in all upstairs.

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-This is your bedroom.

-Wow!

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-It's a nice size, isn't it?

-Lovely fitted wardrobes.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

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-Sounds good!

-It's very light.

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This is the Ridgeway, so beautiful views over the fields.

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And a very nice en-suite. Poke your head round the corner.

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-Wow. This is really nice. Nicely done.

-Hmm.

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-They've done this well.

-Really nice room.

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Next door to the master is a large single bedroom.

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Off the hallway are two cosy doubles, one of which is currently used as a study.

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But there's still more.

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This is the extension. A family bathroom there.

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-And a very sweet little kind of library.

-Aw!

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It's not classed as a bedroom, so you're not losing one there!

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-Good!

-It's a nice little nook.

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-Homework room.

-Ah, yes.

-That's a good idea.

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So who's crying out for a bedroom? Who hasn't had a bedroom for ages?

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-Cameron.

-Ella's been sharing with her three-year-old sister.

-So she's desperate!

-Absolutely.

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Well, they're all going to fight over this.

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-This, I think, is a lovely bedroom.

-Oh, it is.

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-Very nice.

-There'd be some arguments over this, I reckon.

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-You could have it as another study!

-Another study.

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-Solve it.

-Studies you need.

-Daddy wins!

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"It's my study!"

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-It's a lovely room, though.

-It is.

-And nothing needs doing up here.

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So it's great.

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After a hesitant start, they may have warmed up to this modern house.

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However, the garden isn't football pitch size.

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So will we have scored an own goal?

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So, come into your garden.

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It's not very big.

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-Is there a bit hiding round...

-Certainly not!

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-OK.

-There is nothing hiding.

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-It's all on display.

-It is private, that's for sure, which is what we'd look for.

-Not overlooked.

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What do you think it's on the market for?

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I'm going to be really optimistic...

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-Don't laugh!

-Be optimistic. I like that.

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450.

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I think 500,000.

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OK. You have been away for quite a while!

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This property is on the market for 550.

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OK.

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450?

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I told you I'm optimistic!

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I love that about you. You keep on being optimistic.

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-But you pay the bills!

-That's right!

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Why don't you have a look around inside

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to see whether there's stuff you could think about inside.

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-I'll see you afterwards.

-OK. Thanks.

-Thank you.

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At £550,000,

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this substantial modern family home is £50,000 under budget.

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It could be reworked to suit them.

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Upstairs is spot-on with five bedrooms,

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so plenty of space inside.

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But although this garden is very pretty and secluded,

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it isn't massive.

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The village is hugely sought-after, and with a nearby pre-school and primary,

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I'm hoping the location will compensate.

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From a location perspective, this is fantastic.

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It has great transport links,

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it's got the catchment areas for the schools we want.

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The peace and quiet of this location is exactly what we'd hoped for in coming back here.

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We wouldn't need to do anything up here.

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-No, it's pretty sorted. They've done it very nicely.

-Yes, they have.

-I like how it is.

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There'd be plenty of room for everybody.

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-Yeah.

-No, it's good.

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-Plenty of options for studies!

-Yeah!

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It is so quiet!

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I've been listening and there's just birds and birds and birds!

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-Very peaceful.

-So whatever you think about the house,

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-you've got to love the location.

-Absolutely.

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The poet Lord Alfred Tennyson once wrote,

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"As from the Dorset shore I travelled home

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"I saw the charger of the Wiltshire wold

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"A far seen figure, stately to behold."

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He was, of course, referring to the chalk horses, synonymous with this rural landscape.

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Although the origins of the carvings are shrouded in mystery,

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we do know that at one point, 13 white steeds galloped across the county.

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Today, there are just eight.

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But you'd be very much mistaken in thinking they're prehistoric.

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Wiltshire's first white horse at Westbury

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is believed to have been carved in 878

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to celebrate King Alfred's victory over the Danes.

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But most of today's horses have 18th-century origins

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and have undergone a fair few facelifts over the years.

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Earlier in the week, Carolyn and Steve headed to the chalk hills above Pewsey

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to meet up with local historian Phil Stevens

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and find out about the white horse there.

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The actual horse was put here to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

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It was cut by our local fire brigade. It's maintained by Pewsey parish council

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and in the last few weeks, we've rechalked it.

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If it's not rechalked, it will turn green and disappear into the rolling hills again.

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White isn't the only colour gracing Wiltshire's lovely landscape, though.

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We sent Carolyn and Steve to glorious Westwood

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to meet up with Dominic Price

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and experience one of the British countryside's spring phenomena.

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We've got over 800 acres of almost pure stands of bluebell here.

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At this time of year, it's the greatest show on earth.

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The bluebell is protected under law. The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981

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prohibits anyone from selling any part of the flower or the bulb or the seed.

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You can't even barter them in exchange for another flower.

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They're also massively threatened from a thing called the Spanish bluebell.

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The Spanish bluebell freely breeds with the English bluebell

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and forms things called hybrid swans.

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What you won't get is this sea of blue because the colour is mixed down.

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The Spanish bluebell is now pretty much across the whole UK

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and there's nothing we can do about it.

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In more and more woodlands there'll be the odd pocket of Spanish bluebells.

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To our knowledge, there's none here at all

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and so hopefully this woodland is safe for future generations.

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It's not everywhere. You have to come to places like Westwood to see it on this scale.

0:19:130:19:18

It is a big part of the British countryside and what makes Britain so very special.

0:19:180:19:23

Back to the present and on with the search.

0:19:320:19:34

We're heading to the attractive village of Wanborough.

0:19:340:19:38

It's a slightly further drive to Newbury at one hour,

0:19:380:19:41

but it's a thriving village which should suit our buyers' needs.

0:19:410:19:45

As well as the all-important primary school,

0:19:450:19:48

it's stocked with a village store and a church which boasts both a tower and a spire.

0:19:480:19:52

Steve and Carolyn shouldn't go thirsty with no less than six pubs to choose from!

0:19:520:19:57

Let's hope we'll be toasting our next house which is on the outskirts of the village

0:19:570:20:02

and comes with something our first property didn't - masses of outside space.

0:20:020:20:06

We're talking premier league space!

0:20:060:20:09

Down the lane.

0:20:090:20:11

And this is the house I want to show you.

0:20:110:20:14

-OK.

-OK.

0:20:140:20:16

So once again, we haven't got the period nailed on the head.

0:20:160:20:20

-This is 23 years old.

-OK.

0:20:200:20:22

The interesting thing about this property is that it is upside-down.

0:20:220:20:27

-Oh. OK.

-Wow.

-What are your thoughts from the outside?

0:20:270:20:31

Not visually stunning. But might have space.

0:20:310:20:35

I'm intrigued.

0:20:350:20:36

Intrigued isn't a bad place to start.

0:20:360:20:39

There's so much opportunity for Steve and Carolyn to put their own stamp on this place.

0:20:400:20:45

As it's built into the hill, the living space is on the top, where we'll start.

0:20:450:20:49

It's accessed via the back of the house.

0:20:490:20:52

So we come in through these huge glass doors

0:20:530:20:56

into what is, of course, the hall,

0:20:560:20:58

but also landing.

0:20:580:21:01

Yeah.

0:21:010:21:03

But you'll see that the whole point of this house is that it's pretty much all views.

0:21:030:21:08

It's all about great big panes of glass looking out over fields.

0:21:080:21:13

We come into here. This is the main space.

0:21:130:21:16

In many ways, it's quite a simple house.

0:21:160:21:19

You've got this big room with incredible views over the White Horse Vale.

0:21:190:21:24

Right to the horizon. There's nothing interrupting them.

0:21:240:21:27

And this great big double-glazed double window out to the garden.

0:21:270:21:32

Light is important to us because we've been spoilt by very bright light.

0:21:320:21:36

Never apologise for being spoilt. Very important.

0:21:360:21:39

It's something we're very accustomed to, so this is lovely and light.

0:21:390:21:43

Through here.

0:21:430:21:45

This is the other wing of the house

0:21:480:21:50

which flows into the kitchen.

0:21:500:21:52

-That's a pleasant surprise.

-Pleasant surprise?

-Yes.

-That's nice.

0:21:540:21:58

Then the archway through to the dining room.

0:21:580:22:00

It's not the country kitchen that I had as a dream, if you like.

0:22:000:22:07

But it's nice.

0:22:070:22:08

The clean lines and clinicalness of it appeal to me, actually.

0:22:080:22:13

-Right.

-Yes.

0:22:130:22:14

It feels like a family house, actually.

0:22:140:22:17

Good stuff. Let's hope the underbelly of this house

0:22:170:22:20

will get the thumbs up, too.

0:22:200:22:22

It should. It has the required four bedrooms.

0:22:220:22:24

This is the master.

0:22:250:22:27

It's a good-sized room.

0:22:270:22:29

Yeah. Too many fitted cupboards, I think.

0:22:290:22:33

-Too many?

-Well, you can always take them out.

0:22:330:22:35

I've got enough stuff to fill them, but...

0:22:350:22:38

-it confines the room a bit.

-It has a good-sized en-suite.

0:22:380:22:41

Have a peek in there.

0:22:410:22:44

-Yeah. It's been really nicely done.

-Yeah, it's been done well.

0:22:500:22:54

A thumbs up to the master suite and off the hallway is a good sized family bathroom

0:22:550:23:01

and three other double bedrooms

0:23:010:23:03

so the children won't be arguing who gets the biggest.

0:23:030:23:06

Outside there's more than enough space to mess around in. An acre in all.

0:23:060:23:10

It's a good-sized garden. It slopes down here to take in the design.

0:23:120:23:18

I wanted to show you this.

0:23:180:23:20

You've got a huge sun trap. This is where the setting sun hits the side of the house.

0:23:200:23:25

It's a great paved area, or it could be a conservatory or extension.

0:23:250:23:30

You could make it a study, maybe.

0:23:300:23:32

There's definitely options. It's not listed, so you can go any which way.

0:23:320:23:37

Is this enough of a garden, though?

0:23:370:23:39

It's got potential for all the things we want

0:23:400:23:42

without being overly big so that we need a tractor!

0:23:420:23:45

How would you like a little bit more?

0:23:450:23:48

Down here. What have we got here?

0:23:550:23:58

-Oh, wow!

-Oh, dear!

0:23:580:23:59

It's your very own paddock.

0:24:060:24:09

Wow!

0:24:090:24:11

-With a little summer house.

-That's fantastic.

-Oh, wow!

0:24:110:24:14

Good, isn't it?

0:24:140:24:16

-Hmm.

-Yes, very good.

0:24:160:24:18

That's an understatement!

0:24:180:24:20

-My mind's going...

-Your eyes are lighting up!

0:24:220:24:24

It's the first time I've seen both your faces light up.

0:24:240:24:28

The mind is going...

0:24:280:24:30

"Oh, my God! What? What?"

0:24:300:24:32

Amazing. That's a real surprise.

0:24:320:24:34

This is the thing. To get the land, the garden and the house

0:24:340:24:39

and the location, it's a struggle.

0:24:390:24:43

But I think this is a really wonderful buy.

0:24:430:24:45

-Mmm.

-But how much does it cost?

0:24:450:24:48

I'll say £600,000.

0:24:500:24:52

I'm going to say 550.

0:24:520:24:54

Actually, this house is on the market for...

0:24:540:24:57

£535,000.

0:24:570:25:00

-Oh, right.

-Wow.

0:25:000:25:02

-That's a nice surprise.

-You've impressed us.

0:25:020:25:04

Go and have a look at the summer house. Wander round.

0:25:040:25:08

Then when you're all finished, we'll meet again.

0:25:080:25:11

How nice to be the harbinger of good news.

0:25:130:25:15

At £535,000, this is £65,000 under budget.

0:25:150:25:21

So plenty of spare change to extend to their hearts' desire.

0:25:210:25:24

The piece de resistance here is the one-acre plot,

0:25:320:25:35

taking in a formal garden and a paddock to run wild in.

0:25:350:25:39

My only concern is probably the lack of reception space upstairs.

0:25:400:25:44

But then - I love this area here, so you wouldn't want to build here -

0:25:440:25:48

but you could put a double-ender on that end.

0:25:480:25:51

And then put build out... Put an annexe in the garage.

0:25:510:25:54

-Give us more space.

-Yeah.

0:25:540:25:56

There's definitely potential to do... A couple of options, even better.

0:25:560:26:01

The price is a pleasant surprise

0:26:010:26:05

because we would be able to do the work that we feel the house needs

0:26:050:26:10

within the budget.

0:26:100:26:12

I think this land kind of changes my view a bit, actually.

0:26:120:26:16

Definitely.

0:26:160:26:17

It's kind of life-changing

0:26:170:26:19

for us, isn't it?

0:26:190:26:21

-Yeah.

-The kids would go nuts if they saw this.

-Definitely.

0:26:220:26:26

I know where they are! Hello? Yes!

0:26:270:26:30

Come out of that field. You can't live in there!

0:26:300:26:33

-Oh, really?

-No.

0:26:330:26:35

-A good day's property shopping, right?

-Yes, so far, so good.

0:26:350:26:39

Let's go and mull it over.

0:26:390:26:41

That's it for our first day of house-hunting.

0:26:500:26:53

With the sun setting over the downs,

0:26:530:26:55

I hope we've given Carolyn and Steve plenty to think about.

0:26:550:26:59

Coming up, it's mystery house time, which will push Carolyn and Steve to the edge of their comfort zone.

0:27:040:27:09

But could it come up trumps?

0:27:090:27:11

Do you love, love, love, love it?

0:27:110:27:13

-Yes.

-Do you want to buy, buy, buy, buy, buy?

0:27:130:27:16

Yes!

0:27:160:27:18

It was a bit dispiriting yesterday because Carolyn really wants a period property

0:27:200:27:25

and although this part of Wiltshire is jammed with historical properties,

0:27:250:27:29

they're simply not in their price range.

0:27:290:27:32

So compromise is necessary. The first house, wonderful location, the second house, great land.

0:27:320:27:38

The mystery house is not a historical property, but it's absolutely beautiful inside.

0:27:380:27:44

It's just miles away from where they wanted to live.

0:27:440:27:47

Indeed, we do have some distance to travel

0:27:510:27:53

as the mystery house is in the very rural hamlet of Chedglow

0:27:530:27:57

on the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire border, 53 miles from Newbury.

0:27:570:28:01

Sitting in prime countryside, it's a peaceful location,

0:28:010:28:05

but for more hustle and bustle, just four miles away

0:28:050:28:09

is the stunning market town of Tetbury.

0:28:090:28:12

Designated an Outstanding Conservation Area,

0:28:120:28:15

the town is chocker-block with listed architecture

0:28:150:28:19

from its 17th-century market hall

0:28:190:28:21

to its medieval cobbled steps and its Georgian church with one of the tallest spires in the UK.

0:28:210:28:27

With Prince Charles' country home just outside the town,

0:28:270:28:30

it's no wonder Tetbury has become something of a showstopper.

0:28:300:28:34

OK, the mystery is we've travelled across time zones to get here!

0:28:370:28:41

But this is the property I want to show you.

0:28:410:28:44

It is attached. It's not a period property, I'm afraid.

0:28:440:28:49

-But I think it is a beautiful property.

-I love the style.

0:28:490:28:53

-Very pretty colour, isn't it?

-It's very sympathetic, the way it's been done.

0:28:530:28:58

Yes. And the village is lovely. It's so peaceful! Relaxing.

0:28:580:29:03

The thing you'll really like are the interiors. Let's have a look.

0:29:030:29:06

We're doing things by half with today's semi-detached mystery house.

0:29:080:29:11

But I'm hoping the open plan interior layout will be just what Steve and Carolyn are looking for.

0:29:110:29:17

Here we are.

0:29:170:29:19

-Wow!

-Yeah, that's a straight wow!

0:29:200:29:24

-It's a double wow, right?

-Yeah.

-Yes.

0:29:240:29:27

-This is one of the nicest kitchens I've seen in a while.

-Beautiful.

-Semi? What semi?

0:29:270:29:32

I love everything about it.

0:29:340:29:35

We aim to please!

0:29:350:29:37

There's also a utility room for all the white goods.

0:29:370:29:41

So when they bought it, they immediately extended it.

0:29:420:29:45

This would have been the back wall and they pushed out into what was patio, on that side too

0:29:450:29:50

-and put in this lovely lantern roof.

-Yes, it's lovely.

0:29:500:29:53

-Really nice.

-Very light.

0:29:530:29:56

Great area for dining, with all that light.

0:29:560:30:00

Connected with the kitchen. That's great.

0:30:000:30:03

It's like you've been struck dumb!

0:30:030:30:06

-It is a bit like that.

-It's lovely.

0:30:060:30:08

It is a wonderful space.

0:30:090:30:11

Can you imagine the children here?

0:30:110:30:13

-Definitely.

-When they've gone to bed, we can entertain here.

0:30:130:30:17

What's lovely is that the concertina doors open up completely.

0:30:170:30:21

So you've got nothing there, it's an open wall.

0:30:210:30:25

You can go out into more patio space, more garden.

0:30:250:30:27

-Almost Australian living.

-Yeah.

-That's what we thought.

0:30:270:30:32

Also, they put in for planning permission to extend that way, which you could take up if you want.

0:30:320:30:38

On both floors. That planning permission is in perpetuity.

0:30:380:30:42

It's beautiful.

0:30:420:30:44

-Beautiful.

-Do you love, love, love, love it?

0:30:440:30:47

-Yes.

-So far.

-Do you want to buy, buy, buy, buy, buy it?

0:30:470:30:49

-Yes!

-So far!

0:30:490:30:51

Well, there's more.

0:30:520:30:54

This is the sitting room.

0:31:030:31:04

It's lovely. Really cosy, isn't it?

0:31:060:31:09

It's in marked contrast to the big sunny kitchen. This is more snugly.

0:31:090:31:13

-I love the floor.

-Oak floors with this cool open fireplace

0:31:130:31:18

with a chain-mail fireguard.

0:31:180:31:19

Wow. It's just lovely.

0:31:190:31:22

It moves on through.

0:31:220:31:25

Then it goes through into here

0:31:260:31:28

which is her study.

0:31:280:31:31

-It could be your study.

-It's a nice light room, isn't it?

0:31:310:31:35

Another little lantern.

0:31:350:31:37

And double doors that open into the garden.

0:31:370:31:39

-The windows are great.

-As a house, it's very exciting.

0:31:390:31:43

Excitement is what we like!

0:31:430:31:46

I think we're onto a winner. Let's keep up the good work with the rest of the house.

0:31:470:31:51

There are four bedrooms in all.

0:31:510:31:54

Two double bedrooms, perfect for growing girls, and a family bathroom.

0:31:540:31:59

-This is the master suite.

-Right. Wow.

0:32:030:32:06

It's a little bit smaller than I'd hoped for.

0:32:070:32:10

The built-in wardrobes are very nice, though.

0:32:100:32:13

The en-suite is in here.

0:32:130:32:15

That's a good size. I like the tiles.

0:32:160:32:18

-Then you've got another floor.

-Ooh.

0:32:180:32:21

-Ooh.

-Ooh.

-What's up there?

0:32:210:32:23

Want to have a look?

0:32:230:32:25

Let's go.

0:32:250:32:27

This is quite interesting. They used this space for blanket drawers.

0:32:320:32:36

This is your upstairs room.

0:32:380:32:40

-This could be quite nice for Cameron, maybe.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:32:400:32:44

-He would love this.

-Teenage boys.

-Teenage retreat. Yeah.

0:32:440:32:48

I think we'd struggle to get Cameron out of here!

0:32:480:32:51

Give him a pole to come down to the kitchen!

0:32:510:32:53

It seems to answer a lot of your needs.

0:32:530:32:56

-Absolutely.

-But there's always outside. I know that's important to you.

0:32:560:33:00

So let's peek!

0:33:000:33:02

Because it's an attached property,

0:33:030:33:06

it doesn't come with paddocks.

0:33:060:33:08

But it's a really ample plot, at over a quarter of an acre.

0:33:080:33:12

It's a very simple garden. It is just what you can see.

0:33:140:33:17

No hidden extras, this time.

0:33:170:33:19

-It's funnel-shaped, so you can keep your eye on where the children are.

-Yes.

0:33:190:33:24

-A play area there.

-Scarlet would love that.

0:33:240:33:26

Monkey puzzle tree that'll be gorgeous in 100 years!

0:33:260:33:29

What's also nice is that this land here belongs to the farmer at the back.

0:33:310:33:36

So it's agricultural land. But he's very amenable.

0:33:360:33:39

-You could probably buy something off him or rent if you wanted a pony for Scarlet.

-That's positive.

0:33:390:33:45

-Veggie patch already dug at the bottom.

-Saves a bit of work!

0:33:450:33:48

-This is a good space. We could do something with this.

-Mmm.

0:33:480:33:52

So the package is pleasing?

0:33:520:33:54

-Yeah.

-The package is good.

-Is it affordable? What do you think it's on for?

0:33:540:33:58

I'm going to go for 500.

0:33:580:34:01

Keeping with the optimism, 525?

0:34:010:34:04

Gloriously optimistic! Both totally wrong, I'm afraid.

0:34:040:34:08

Because even though it's not the area you were thinking of,

0:34:080:34:11

-it's on the market at 595.

-Wow.

-Right at the top of your budget.

0:34:110:34:15

So if you wanted to do the extension, you'd have to do it later on.

0:34:150:34:19

-Well, it's certainly liveable!

-Exactly.

0:34:190:34:22

-In the meantime.

-Have a look round and I'll see you up front.

-Thanks.

0:34:220:34:25

Well, that shocked them!

0:34:280:34:29

But at £595,000, our semi-detached mystery house

0:34:290:34:33

does deliver on space inside and out.

0:34:330:34:35

Two bedrooms are en-suite.

0:34:440:34:45

It's not as near to Newbury or Marlborough as they'd like,

0:34:510:34:55

but can they swap location for their dream interior?

0:34:550:34:59

The quality and finish of the interior is absolutely stunning.

0:34:590:35:02

It's almost impossible to see through it because it's so fantastic.

0:35:020:35:06

It's just made that whole decision much harder.

0:35:070:35:11

It's finished to a level of perfection that really suits our style.

0:35:110:35:15

The wow was the kitchen for me.

0:35:150:35:18

The kitchen/diner is my dream.

0:35:180:35:20

The fact that it's semi-detached is, for me, quite a big issue, I have to say.

0:35:200:35:25

We'll see what Carolyn thinks.

0:35:250:35:28

-You're done. I was just catching some rays.

-Wakey-wakey!

0:35:300:35:33

I wasn't sleeping, I was gathering my thoughts,

0:35:330:35:36

which is what I'm going to ask you to do next. Follow me.

0:35:360:35:39

Once, Britain's canals were the life-blood of our country,

0:35:500:35:54

with over 5,000 miles of waterways criss-crossing the landscape,

0:35:540:35:58

transporting goods during the Industrial Revolution,

0:35:580:36:02

at its height ferrying over 30 million tonnes per year.

0:36:020:36:05

But with the arrival of the railways and later motorways,

0:36:050:36:09

by the late 1960s, many of these peaceful pathways were in major decline.

0:36:090:36:13

This year, however, sees the 200th anniversary of the Kennet and Avon canal,

0:36:140:36:18

running through Wiltshire on its way from Bristol to Reading.

0:36:180:36:22

Rather than being consigned to history, this waterway is experiencing a boom.

0:36:220:36:27

To find out more, I headed to the Caen Hill locks at Devizes

0:36:270:36:31

to meet with lock-keeper of 30 years Bob Preston,

0:36:310:36:35

who has seen the canal brought back from the very brink.

0:36:350:36:38

Devizes Locks was closed in 1951 and didn't reopen until 1990.

0:36:380:36:45

-So there were 40 years when the locks were empty.

-It was in a state of dereliction.

0:36:450:36:49

A navigable canal was in decline.

0:36:490:36:52

With the help of the Canal Trust,

0:36:520:36:54

it took 20 years to bring the Kennet and Avon back to life.

0:36:540:36:58

Run me through the wonders of this flight of locks.

0:36:580:37:02

On Caen Hill itself, we've got 16 locks. Boats can raise 137 feet

0:37:020:37:08

and that takes about two hours to do that small three quarters of a mile section.

0:37:080:37:13

-So essentially you've got barges going uphill.

-That's right.

0:37:130:37:16

That's a pretty steady stream of dedicated bargees cos that's a lot of opening and closing locks.

0:37:160:37:23

Everybody wants to have done Devizes locks at least once.

0:37:230:37:26

-It's their Everest, if you like!

-Standing on the Canal Everest!

0:37:260:37:30

Fantastic.

0:37:300:37:31

Today there are ten times the number of boats on the Kennet and Avon canal

0:37:310:37:36

than there were back in 1810.

0:37:360:37:38

But they're not all day-trippers. Some people make these waterways their permanent homes.

0:37:380:37:43

Like Lionel and Lynne who've lived on their barge moored just outside Devizes for a year.

0:37:430:37:49

Morning!

0:37:490:37:51

They're going to show me how exactly to conquer the Everest of the lock world.

0:37:510:37:55

First, the sluice needs to be opened so the water level can equalise.

0:37:570:38:02

That takes around five minutes. Then the gates can be opened.

0:38:020:38:06

So you have to be pretty Zen to be a bargee. No rushing here.

0:38:060:38:10

Once your barge is in place,

0:38:110:38:13

then you have to do it all again, in reverse.

0:38:130:38:16

It's quite heavy!

0:38:160:38:18

And then shut the locks and open the sluice gates so the water can drop.

0:38:190:38:24

Come on, Lynne!

0:38:240:38:25

This one's a struggle.

0:38:250:38:27

Such a slow coach. Should have stayed on my team!

0:38:290:38:32

Once the water level is the same on each side of the gates,

0:38:340:38:37

the next set can be opened.

0:38:370:38:38

But by George, you need some patience!

0:38:380:38:41

Another lock opened.

0:38:490:38:51

Mind my back!

0:38:510:38:53

Watch, it's like pooh sticks, but barge sticks!

0:38:530:38:56

Which one will come out first?

0:38:560:38:59

Hmm!

0:38:590:39:00

I think it's going to be Lionel's.

0:39:030:39:04

Yay! I win!

0:39:040:39:06

No doubt with people like Lynne and Lionel making these byways their home,

0:39:080:39:12

the heritage of the canals will stay alive

0:39:120:39:15

and hopefully the Kennet and Avon will still be around to celebrate its 400th birthday.

0:39:150:39:20

For once on this show, I'm completely in the dark as to which of these houses

0:39:270:39:31

Carolyn and Steve may go for.

0:39:310:39:33

I did see Carolyn go misty-eyed at the kitchen/diner in the mystery house,

0:39:330:39:37

but Steve was distinctly more level-headed about it.

0:39:370:39:41

Let's find out which one they like.

0:39:410:39:43

This is the sort of house you really want!

0:39:470:39:50

-It's the mystery, isn't it?

-Sadly not.

0:39:500:39:52

It's 12 times your budget!

0:39:520:39:54

It's been slightly challenging for you in terms of compromise.

0:39:550:39:59

We haven't been able to find exactly what you want.

0:39:590:40:02

But it's a good idea to go through them one by one

0:40:020:40:05

and talk about the different things with each property.

0:40:050:40:08

Spin back your minds to yesterday morning and the first property.

0:40:080:40:12

Beautiful location, surrounded by countryside. Great.

0:40:120:40:16

The front entrance was nice. There was some work to be done for our taste downstairs.

0:40:160:40:22

Upstairs, ready to rumble.

0:40:220:40:25

Downstairs I would need to change the kitchen/diner,

0:40:250:40:28

but there was scope to do that and also room in the budget for that.

0:40:280:40:32

I was a little disappointed with the garden.

0:40:320:40:34

That's a major compromise we'd have to consider with that property.

0:40:340:40:39

Although in most other ways it ticked the boxes.

0:40:390:40:42

Let's move on to the second house. It offered things the first one didn't.

0:40:420:40:47

Didn't it just! The land was fantastic. The paddock was a real surprise.

0:40:470:40:52

I think there's a different wish list for the paddock.

0:40:520:40:55

-Have you both nabbed it?

-There are two towels down!

-Yeah.

0:40:550:41:00

-Even the garden was nice, too, wasn't it?

-Yeah,

0:41:000:41:02

-a beautiful garden.

-But I found the house a bit disappointing.

0:41:020:41:06

-In what way?

-Not enough reception space.

0:41:060:41:10

The challenge with that property is the changes would be wholesale ones to make it how we wanted.

0:41:100:41:15

So the location for the first house, the space outside for the second house.

0:41:150:41:19

And the third house? The mystery house?

0:41:190:41:21

The location was a surprise when we travelled so far to get there,

0:41:210:41:25

-but I had a good vibe about the area.

-A really nice feeling.

0:41:250:41:29

It was semi-detached. I can't get beyond that.

0:41:290:41:31

It's sticking in my head. Inside, it was absolutely stunning.

0:41:310:41:35

But the space upstairs was quite small for what we would want.

0:41:350:41:38

It was hard for me to see the bad points because I loved every room,

0:41:380:41:43

the way that they'd done it, and their touches.

0:41:430:41:45

There was no expense spared with any of it. It was beautiful.

0:41:450:41:50

Would you progress on any of them? Would you take a next step?

0:41:500:41:54

-I think we'd like to go and view the first one again.

-Have another look.

0:41:540:41:58

And the local primary school, yes. Definitely.

0:41:580:42:01

-That's almost a success.

-Yes.

-Absolutely.

0:42:010:42:05

I think the reality check you've given us, with what you've done,

0:42:050:42:10

has shown that perhaps we need a five-year house, not a forever house

0:42:100:42:14

in this move, and then we can live here and build from within the area.

0:42:140:42:19

Well, I really hope you do. You've picked a beautiful bit of the country.

0:42:190:42:23

So that's not a bad strategy to come and move down here

0:42:230:42:26

and get yourselves onto those secret estate agents' lists. Good luck!

0:42:260:42:31

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:42:310:42:33

I was a bit perplexed by Carolyn and Steve's insistence on one corner of Wiltshire,

0:42:360:42:41

because it's a beautiful county and full of stunning villages.

0:42:410:42:45

So I personally probably would have compromised on location

0:42:450:42:49

and gone for a bigger more beautiful house. But what I want doesn't matter!

0:42:490:42:53

On this show, the home-buyer is king.

0:42:530:42:56

I hope you've enjoyed our adventures in this beautiful county

0:42:560:43:00

and you'll join us for more next time on Escape to the Country.

0:43:000:43:03

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:43:060:43:08

in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England

0:43:080:43:11

and need our help, please apply online at:

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