Wales Escape to the Country


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Wales

In Gwynedd, North Wales, Nicki Chapman helps an artistic couple find a home with inspiring views for 450,000 pounds and learns how to craft one of the region's famous tiles.


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Buried deep beneath my feet is a material that's become popular with house owners the world over.

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It was discovered here nearly two centuries ago and is still being mined today with high demand.

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So where am I? Find out in a moment.

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'In today's show, I help a retired couple escape to North Wales.

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'I'm brimming with confidence about our first two properties.'

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-You like it?

-Stunning.

-A good start! I haven't even got to it yet!

-A good early start, believe me.

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'But will our mystery house push our buyers over the edge?'

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I don't know if I can put any estate agent gloss over that!

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I'm in the county of Gwynedd in North Wales,

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an area famous for its slate.

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Below me is the old Meirionydd vein.

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When it was discovered in 1836, it transformed this region

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into an important natural resource in the Victorian industrial age.

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At its peak, North Wales produced four-fifths of all slate quarried in Britain.

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But there's no doubt that today this part of the country has a lot more to offer than its geology.

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With the Snowdonia National Park to the east and the Llyn Peninsula to the west,

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Gwynedd is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in Britain.

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The coastline offers up mud flats, secluded coves and rocky cliffs

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reaching over 1,100 feet at points.

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Head inland and this scenery gives way to the rugged peaks and valleys of its mountain ranges,

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separating it from the rest of the UK. Traditional cottages and smallholdings,

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built using local limestone and slate, dot the hillside.

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With so much on offer, it's clear why this area is such an attractive proposition.

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An average house in Gwynedd would set you back £140,000.

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That's £23,000 less than the national average.

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And there's even better news.

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You can buy in the heart of the National Park without paying a premium for the privilege.

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So let's look at what's currently on the market.

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£275,000 will get you this newly-converted barn.

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Each of its three bedrooms boasts vaulted ceilings and the sitting room gives the best of both worlds

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as you take in the expansive rural setting from its modern and stylish interior.

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Or there's this five-bedroom stone farmhouse situated in Rhyd-y-clafdy.

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For £599,000 you could sit back in the huge living room and enjoy the breathtaking views.

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And when the sun goes down, you can snuggle up in the beamed drawing room with its wood burner.

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If budget's not an issue, then take a look at this elegant Grade 1-listed Georgian townhouse.

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£785,000 will buy you six bedrooms, this majestic sitting room and a lavish dining room.

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Some great properties there and three more coming up.

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But will any of them tempt today's couple? Let's find out.

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Meet our buyers, Jamal and Dee. For the last 15 years,

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they've called this chalet bungalow in North London home. Keen artists and travellers,

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both took early retirement from their careers in accountancy and psychology.

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They're ready to leave the bright lights of London behind them in favour of more sedate surroundings

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and it's not exotic climates that have stolen their hearts.

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We've travelled the whole world over, but we like to see weather,

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we like to see spring and autumn and having a tropical setting is not exactly what we have in mind.

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We'd like to move to North Wales, preferably around Snowdonia National Park area

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or the Llyn Peninsula, an area we know quite well.

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After researching the move on the internet, their yearning to escape is stronger than ever.

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I love photography. I'm just looking for some wider spaces and the open countryside.

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But it's not just countryside that they're after.

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I like old, ancient properties with interesting features, nooks and crannies,

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old floors, panels. That kind of thing is what I like.

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The wish list doesn't end there. There's plenty of other essentials they want to add.

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I'd like to have at least three bedrooms.

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We need two bathrooms because Jamal hates sharing a bathroom either with guests or me.

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So a big reception room, preferably, because we love entertaining.

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-And...

-Must have outbuildings so we can have our studios for our darkrooms and paint mixing

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-and our sculpting. All of those things.

-'Two bathrooms and two studios is a tall order,

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'plus Dee loves horse-riding, so ideally they'd like a stable or paddock as well.

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'All of that won't be easy to find, so I'm wondering if they're against getting their hands dirty

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-'to help make their dream come true.'

-The property we'd really like

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should be one that doesn't need a lot of work. We've taken early retirement not to become builders

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-but actually...

-And we're useless at DIY, frankly.

-Yes.

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Well, you are. I don't do any, so we'll never find out how good or bad I am.

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'OK, then. That means the financing for the move is all-important.'

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I think our budget for this move will be £450,000.

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'We're focusing today's house search in the county of Gwynedd,

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'home to the picturesque Llyn Peninsula and the wilderness of the Snowdonia National Park.

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'We've got some fantastic houses to show them, but as ever they'll have to guess the price of each property

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'before I reveal it to them.

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'Then, of course, there's our mystery house, which will provide our buyers with new possibilities.'

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-Jamal and Diane, lovely to meet you both.

-Good to meet you, too.

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Now you've both decided you want to make Wales your home. North Wales.

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-Yeah.

-Wales is known for its beauty, but why this part so much?

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It's just so beautiful. They've got fantastic wild coastlines

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and mountains and although you get to see that around the world, it just draws me back all the time.

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So this is your escape. Are you united in your vision of what you're looking for in a house?

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I think for our dream home, we'll know exactly what it is as soon as we see it. We have no idea

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-what it is going to be. But as soon as we see it, we'll know it.

-I'm loving the challenge!

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-Shall we hit the road?

-Yes.

-Great.

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'To finance their new home, Jamal and Dee have a healthy budget of £450,000.

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'They're quite open-minded, but do know they want a property with plenty of character,

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'two bathrooms, two art studios and room for a pony.

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'We're taking Jamal and Dee directly to their dream destination.

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'The Llyn Peninsula has it all - dramatic coastlines, tons of local farmland

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'and views of the Snowdonia mountain range. It's hard to find a more striking landscape.

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'Our first property is just under two miles away from the village of Llithfaen.

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'With a tight-knit community, it has a small shop for essentials and at its heart a local pub.

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'I hope this white-stone farmhouse with a barn and extra outbuildings sets us off

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'on the right foot.'

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And this is the set-up. We've got a barn here.

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-OK.

-Behind us, we've got the pigsties and storage space,

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-which we thought could make fantastic studio space for not one, but two.

-Yeah.

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-Definite potential. The setting is just stunning.

-You like it?

-Stunning.

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-What a good early start!

-It's a good early start!

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-Believe me.

-This is the main farm.

-OK.

-A traditional Welsh farmstead.

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-Yeah.

-Dates back to the 1730s, although it is a lot older than that.

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-Ready to step inside?

-Definitely.

-Yes. Looking forward to it.

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-Welcome to the farmstead.

-Wow. It's really amazing.

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Isn't that gorgeous?

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-Oooh!

-I like this.

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This is really, really interesting.

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-And that beautiful fireplace.

-I can see Jamal is taking it all in!

-Yes, I'm...

-Absorbing.

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-Slowly absorbing.

-Keep absorbing. We'll take you to the kitchen now.

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You really do have a proper country kitchen here.

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-Yeah, definitely.

-A real country kitchen.

-It is.

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-With the range.

-Yeah, it's a great kitchen. The windows...

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Look how small that one is.

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-They're so pretty. So cute.

-'So far, so good,

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'but there's still plenty more to see.' Step through here...

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-into, I think, a very cute sitting room.

-It is.

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It's very sweet. You've got a wood fire burner there, very nice character windows.

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-It's got a nice feel to it.

-It's characterful.

-Very.

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You feel fascinated by it. You want to walk through it.

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'On this level of the house there's also a family bathroom and a double bedroom.

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'The stepladder in the library area leads to another good-size room currently used for guests.

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'By the main entrance a second set of stairs takes you to the master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe.

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'Back outside, I've got another surprise in store.'

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Now...

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-Step inside the barn.

-Oh, wow!

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OK.

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This is really nice. Really nice.

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-And what a surprise.

-Yes, this could be the big dining area.

-Absolutely.

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-It depends on what else there is.

-If you've got guests.

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We were just thinking it's fine for us, but when we've got friends and family coming,

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-where do we sit down and eat?

-A really good point.

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-Which could be here.

-Through there you've got the family bathroom. It's actually a shower room.

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-OK.

-So a shower room for the barn. A double bedroom through there.

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-Right.

-And on the other side of the kitchen, in this direction, well, let me show you.

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-Now this sitting room is the opposite of the other house.

-Yeah, it's surprising.

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-And it's got a lot of character as well.

-It's a nice, big room.

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-It's got a lot of space.

-And its own wood burner.

-Yeah. Very interesting.

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-And the mystery staircase.

-It takes you to one other bedroom.

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-Ah, I see.

-It's a twin at the moment, but could easily take a double bed.

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Through there is another bedroom, so you've got three in total, two here and one at the very end.

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And that's a surprise. The property just goes on.

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-It just keeps giving and giving.

-It does!

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'Jamal and Dee's responses are all very positive.

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'Surrounding the house is 1.5 acres of land, which includes a paddock,

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'perfect for Dee's aspirations to own a horse. Topping it all off, these glorious views.'

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Is this what you both had in mind?

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-Yes, it's glorious. The setting is really nice.

-It really is, actually, more than I was imagining.

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It's just so beautiful. It's a little homestead.

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Now you've showed us the extra accommodation, it's just fallen into place, really.

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This is all going swimmingly! It's the big question mark now.

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Guess the price.

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-How much is this property currently on the market for?

-I'm going to say 450,000

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-because I can't imagine it being really any less than that.

-OK.

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-4...30.

-The current asking price

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-is £435,000.

-For me, that's a good price.

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-£15,000 is quite a few pennies in your pocket.

-Yeah.

-Go and have another wander.

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-Take your time. I'll catch up with you later.

-Brilliant. Thanks.

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On the market for £435,000, this 16th-century property certainly has much to offer.

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The homestead is bursting at the seams with character features Jamal and Dee both love.

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The converted barn boasts a magnificent double height ceiling.

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There's plenty of room for guests with six bedrooms in all.

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And there's two required bathrooms, which should keep Jamal happy.

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There's also outbuildings and land.

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Potentially, this property could be my dream home. It's in a lovely rural setting,

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you've got fantastic scenery.

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It's got a lovely feel to it. I could probably be quite happy here.

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Generally, the feel of the property has bee very encouraging. I'm looking forward to the second!

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I don't actually want to leave. I'm quite happy sitting there.

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-Have you seen enough?

-Yep. Very enthusiastic about this.

-He's fighting the smile! Great start.

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We do have another property today, so we have to hit the road.

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It's easy to see why Jamal and Dee have fallen in love with this area.

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The Llyn Peninsula boasts some of the most incredible natural heritage coastlines in Wales.

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Pwllheli is the unofficial capital of the peninsula

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and gets its name from the Welsh phrase "salt water basin".

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The Llyn coastal path runs for 84 miles so there's enough to keep Jamal busy beachcombing

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-for years to come.

-Look!

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That can be my next canvas. It can be all landscape-y.

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-Yeah.

-That's really good.

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That's really good.

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Perfect, perfect.

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Much of Pwllheli town was developed by Solomon Andrews,

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a businessman from Cardiff, in the 1890s.

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His vision of coastal living made this a must-see destination for Victorian holidaymakers,

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a trend which has carried through to the present day.

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A few minutes away is Llanbedrog. This area has always been popular with art lovers,

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so earlier in the week we arranged for Jamal and Dee to visit Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw,

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the oldest art gallery in Wales. Resident expert Dilwyn Williams showed them around.

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Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw. Here we are at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Art Gallery.

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Originally, this Gothic-style house was built for Lady Love Jones Parry to exhibit her art collection.

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Names like Love Jones Parry are unique to this area of Wales,

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following the 16th century fashion of adding the word Love to surnames to illustrate Christian faith.

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Glyn-y-Weddw, of course, literally translates as valley of the widow.

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Built in 1857, so let's go and have a look inside.

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Excellent.

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The architect Henry Kennedy specialised in building churches

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and it's easy to see the ecclesiastical influences here.

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Well, here we are inside the main hall. I'm sure you agree it lends itself well to being a gallery,

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which is its present use.

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Originally a private home, it's now open to the public.

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There are 10 exhibiting rooms and one of the most popular shows works by Gareth Parry.

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His wild Welsh landscapes are very much in keeping with Jamal and Dee's own style.

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-I can see all that rain coming down. It's always raining in Wales!

-Not like today. We do get sunny weather!

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-One day, Jamal, you might be exhibiting in this gallery.

-Yes. That's one of our ambitions,

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to be able to live in Wales and exhibit in this gallery.

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You'd be hard pushed to find anywhere better to exhibit.

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No question, this is the perfect location for our artists,

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but for now let's get back to finding them the perfect home to be creative in.

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Our property search has brought us a little further south from the Llyn Peninsula,

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just a short drive from Llanbedr.

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It boasts a friendly family butcher and other independently-run shops,

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plus there's a church and local pub.

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There are plenty of opportunities lining the streets here.

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With property number one, it was love at first sight for Dee. Jamal played it closer to his chest.

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Time to see how our next offering goes down.

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-Before I explain our second property, what do you think?

-It sits very cosily on top of this hill.

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-I love the setting and the fact that it's sitting in a little hollow.

-It nestles.

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Nestles is the word. I wish I had said that.

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Because at the very beginning you both said to me that you knew straight away if you'd like a house.

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There's always a little trepidation as we walk to a property.

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-This is a traditional Grade 2 Snowdonian house.

-Right.

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-Built in 1585.

-Wow.

-But it was extended around 1650 by Colonel John Jones.

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-Quite recently, then(!)

-Yes!

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-Now he went on to marry Catherine, who was Oliver Cromwell's sister.

-Oh, gosh.

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So this property has a pedigree. It was built really as a gentleman's house.

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-Looks good from the outside.

-We have to see if we deserve to live in it!

-Let's start the tour.

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-So quite a narrow corridor.

-Right.

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-But it does lead...

-Oh, lovely.

-..into this spectacular room.

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-Isn't it marvellous? It's really lovely.

-Very nice.

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It's amazing, isn't it? It's a really ancient room.

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-You've got the exposed beams.

-Yep.

-Huge inglenook fireplace.

-Yes.

-If you look to the left,

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-that ornate bread oven.

-Wonderful.

-So for your needs, would this work?

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-Yes. For a living area it's enough for us.

-Yeah.

-It's what we need.

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It's very charming. Definitely.

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'Let's hope they're equally charmed by the other rooms I show them.'

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So up these steps...

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leads through

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-to a very spacious kitchen.

-Right. Well, I wasn't expecting this.

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-This is rather lovely.

-How does this work for you for entertaining space?

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-It works perfectly.

-Yeah, it does.

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It's beautifully put together. It's a really good space.

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There are two doors in the corner. The one on the right leads to the dairy. They've kept it basic.

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It works beautifully as a utility room, a cold store.

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-Then further down they use it as a tack room.

-A-ha?

-So loads of space.

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But we're going to go through the other door. Upstairs.

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So up these stairs - fabulous slate flagstones, centuries old -

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-it's actually a study through there.

-OK.

-But we're going to continue up here.

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-So up this staircase is the master bedroom.

-Lovely.

-Wow.

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Yep, this is very nice. Very nice.

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I always like it when you walk into a room and you go, "Wow!"

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-It's got a good space, it's very light.

-Look at those wonderful views

-It's got fantastic views.

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There's nothing around but beauty.

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-Yes.

-It's beginning to feel like a gentleman's home and I'm beginning to feel I deserve living here.

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'As befitting any gentleman, this room also has an en-suite bathroom.

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'Next door, there's another spacious double

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'and a short hop across the hall finds a third and fourth bedroom with more of those fabulous beams,

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'but if that's not enough to win their hearts,

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'I've got something special that might just steal the show.'

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There is one further room I want to show you two because this could be the most fantastic studio.

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Now, it's not very lady-like. The things I do to sell a house!

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-Jamal, you might get a good view from where you are, but Diane, follow me through.

-I'm through.

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-So what do you think?

-Wow, my own train set!

0:22:280:22:32

It would be a travesty to take this out. However, if you did, this could make the most amazing space.

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-It certainly could.

-This'll do me as a studio. What about Dee?

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-Ah!

-We'll find something for Dee. I haven't worked it out yet, but we'll find something.

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We'll head back downstairs. Jamal, you lead the way. After you, Diane.

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I think this is where we don't film any longer. You can't film our bottoms. Time to say, "Cut!"

0:22:540:23:00

'So Jamal's pinched the attic for his art studio,

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'but this outbuilding could be a great space for Dee.

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'Round the back of the house are stables

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'and next door there's a paddock which the current owners rent from a local farmer,

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'perfect for Dee's dream of owning a horse.

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'Plus, there's a well-tended garden.'

0:23:200:23:23

-So, hopefully, we've covered everything for you with that wish list.

-Yeah, you have.

-Yes.

0:23:230:23:29

Now the question is - how much is it all worth?

0:23:290:23:32

I think we're getting there,

0:23:320:23:35

so I think it's going to be £449,999.

0:23:350:23:40

I'm going to go a little bit higher than our budget. I'll say 460,000.

0:23:400:23:44

Jamal is close once again.

0:23:440:23:47

-Oh, dear(!)

-The asking price is £445,000.

0:23:470:23:52

I would say for this property it's a very good price.

0:23:520:23:56

A very good price. It's a beautiful location.

0:23:560:23:59

And this property has presence.

0:23:590:24:01

Have another look around on your own. There's plenty to explore.

0:24:010:24:06

-I'll catch up with you in a little while.

-Fantastic.

-Thank you.

0:24:060:24:10

At £445,000, this property is towards the top end of Jamal and Dee's budget.

0:24:100:24:16

The reception hall and drawing room both have open beam ceilings, as do the four bedrooms.

0:24:160:24:22

The master bedroom has an en-suite, giving us the two bathrooms,

0:24:220:24:26

which is high on Jamal's wish list.

0:24:260:24:29

There's also potential for art studios and the opportunity to rent the paddock next door.

0:24:290:24:34

We've had a good look at the property.

0:24:340:24:37

There were lots of surprises in the property, as well as in the grounds.

0:24:370:24:42

So all in all, I really do like this property.

0:24:420:24:45

It's a property I could grow into. It's a very charming property.

0:24:450:24:49

There are a few little issues regarding space,

0:24:490:24:53

but generally, um...I think it is a lovely, lovely house.

0:24:530:24:59

-Hello.

-That's got you both thinking, hasn't it?

0:25:010:25:04

-Absolutely.

-It certainly has.

0:25:040:25:06

-Two very impressive properties.

-Very impressive. Beautiful.

0:25:060:25:10

-Have you enjoyed today?

-Loved it.

-Good.

-Very good.

0:25:100:25:14

-You can relax now and think about what you've seen. Time to head home.

-Excellent.

0:25:140:25:19

'As the sun begins to cast its shadow on the Llyn Peninsula,

0:25:290:25:33

'the end of our first day's property search draws to a close.

0:25:330:25:37

'Keen artists Jamal and Dee are desperate to find their dream country home,

0:25:400:25:45

'so they can retire to Gwynedd in North Wales,

0:25:450:25:48

'but have vowed their £450,000 must buy them the perfect property that doesn't need any DIY.

0:25:480:25:54

'Coming up, it looks like our mystery house might have pushed them too far.'

0:25:540:26:00

-And a capital W for "work".

-Yes.

0:26:000:26:02

-'And Dee gets more than she bargained for.'

-I've put my foot in it now, haven't I?

0:26:020:26:07

Yesterday was certainly an interesting day -

0:26:090:26:13

two properties and two very positive reactions,

0:26:130:26:17

but I don't think we found something to suit them both.

0:26:170:26:21

Now, Diane, she lost her heart to the first house. With Jamal, it was the second.

0:26:210:26:26

So will our mystery house today be the house that they both fall in love with?

0:26:260:26:32

Now, if it's a slice of the Welsh countryside they're after,

0:26:320:26:36

then the mystery property is my trump card,

0:26:360:26:39

but as ever, things are never quite that straightforward.

0:26:390:26:43

'Dee was very taken with property number one

0:26:440:26:47

'and Jamal felt he'd fit nicely into number two - a gentleman's house.

0:26:470:26:52

'But our mystery property could change all that.

0:26:520:26:55

'Situated just inside the boundaries of the Snowdonia National Park

0:26:550:27:00

'is the popular town of Tremadog with a thriving community full of history and heritage.

0:27:000:27:05

'However, it's also the surrounding countryside that makes our next property extra-special.

0:27:050:27:11

'Secluded in the Cwm Pennant Valley,

0:27:110:27:14

'the dramatic views should get Jamal and Dee's paintbrushes twitching.'

0:27:140:27:19

Well, normally, we would start off with a house tour,

0:27:190:27:23

but how often do you stand in the middle of the Snowdonia National Park with this view?

0:27:230:27:28

It is amazing. We've got the only house in the valley. You could sit here for ever and just look.

0:27:280:27:34

-Yes, you've got the river there.

-You're quite taken with this location?

-I love it.

0:27:340:27:39

-We haven't seen the inside of the house yet, but...

-That'll come. In good time.

0:27:390:27:45

-I don't think you could do too much better than the outside of the house.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:27:450:27:50

Fabulous, fabulous.

0:27:500:27:52

We can see the house from here. To the left of it you'll notice the barn.

0:27:520:27:57

-It would make the most fantastic artist's studio.

-It would make a brilliant studio.

0:27:570:28:02

I've seen the plans and it's got huge skylights, so plenty of natural light.

0:28:020:28:07

-It's got a lot of potential.

-I could see those as studios quite easily.

0:28:070:28:12

'Before we look at the house, I want to show them the glorious back garden.'

0:28:120:28:17

-Would you like to know how much land comes with this property?

-Comes WITH it?

-Yeah.

0:28:170:28:22

-Yes.

-OK. So you've got Gyfyng Rock that we saw when we first arrived.

0:28:220:28:26

-OK.

-The whole of the rock to the other side...

0:28:260:28:29

Keep following it down, so it goes back down into the valley.

0:28:290:28:34

-Yeah.

-There's about three acres of woodland down the bottom.

0:28:340:28:38

That's all yours, so we're still going.

0:28:380:28:40

Keep travelling around, follow the stream and then all the way back.

0:28:400:28:45

-The border is the stream, is it?

-The border is the stream.

-That all belongs to the house?

0:28:450:28:51

-All 28 acres.

-Wow!

0:28:510:28:54

Oh, my goodness! That is unbelievable.

0:28:540:28:58

We'll have to buy a lot of sheep.

0:28:580:29:00

-At the moment...

-That is crazy.

-..the land is tenanted by the local farmer.

-Yeah.

0:29:000:29:05

-If you continued that - revenue to be had.

-Right.

0:29:050:29:08

I don't think it could fail to appeal to anybody. It's just absolutely glorious.

0:29:080:29:13

There'll be somewhere for your horse in the 28 acres. We'll find a paddock somewhere.

0:29:130:29:19

-I think there would be.

-Jamal, I haven't shown you the house yet, but what do you think so far?

0:29:190:29:25

-There's a lot to take in.

-I think you're going to let me down somewhere.

0:29:250:29:30

-That's why you've kept the house till the end.

-Would I ever let you down?

-You haven't so far.

0:29:300:29:36

But I'm expecting you to.

0:29:360:29:38

'We'll have to wait and see.

0:29:390:29:41

'I just hope this anti-DIY couple can see past all the renovating

0:29:410:29:46

'and recognise the immense potential this house has.'

0:29:460:29:49

-Come into the mystery house.

-OK.

0:29:500:29:53

This is a house with fantastic potential, but it's also a project with a capital P.

0:29:530:29:59

Yes, and a capital W for "work".

0:29:590:30:01

Yes, definitely. How would you both feel about that?

0:30:010:30:05

You would have to do it. What do you think?

0:30:050:30:08

-When you say, "YOU have to do it..."

-Personally, you wouldn't...

0:30:080:30:12

-I want to make it clear...

-You can't even change a light bulb.

0:30:120:30:16

So ONE would need to get something done.

0:30:160:30:19

'And this is just the start.

0:30:200:30:22

'Either side of the hallway there are two reception rooms

0:30:220:30:27

'and ahead lies the kitchen.'

0:30:270:30:29

-So this is the oldest part of the house.

-OK, there is a little bit of potential here.

0:30:290:30:35

-A bit of an overhaul.

-A bit of an overhaul and quite a lot of work.

0:30:350:30:39

-Next door, there's the bathroom. Just have a little peek.

-All right, let's have a look.

0:30:390:30:45

OK, it's spacious.

0:30:470:30:49

-It's functional.

-It's spacious.

-It's big.

-Functional.

0:30:490:30:52

-I don't know about functional.

-I don't think I can put any "estate agent" gloss on that, even me!

0:30:520:30:58

-It gives you an idea of what would need to be done.

-Sure, sure.

0:30:580:31:02

-However, just standing here, you know what's through that door.

-Yeah.

0:31:020:31:06

-That spectacular view.

-If you set the house straight,

0:31:060:31:10

you wouldn't want to live anywhere else, basically. It's got fantastic potential.

0:31:100:31:15

-Hmm.

-Jamal's very quiet.

0:31:150:31:17

-He's always very quiet. It's all this...

-Pondering.

-Pondering.

0:31:170:31:21

-I can practically hear the cogs going round.

-It's the worry, I think.

0:31:210:31:26

Yes, I'm getting into the project, but I don't think I'm being pulled in very hard right now.

0:31:260:31:32

'But as soon as I'm out of earshot, Dee and Jamal start hatching plans.'

0:31:330:31:38

You see, I was thinking that this could be something like...

0:31:390:31:45

-Having the second bathroom in here?

-Yeah, exactly, having a bathroom.

0:31:450:31:49

It's big enough for a bathroom, it's light, you could walk from that main bedroom into here.

0:31:490:31:55

Again you're talking a lot of money, aren't you?

0:31:550:31:58

-And you're giving up a very nice room for a bathroom.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:31:580:32:02

'They don't have to sacrifice this room

0:32:020:32:06

'because down the hall there's a toilet that could be transformed into an en-suite for Jamal,

0:32:060:32:12

'plus there are three more light and airy double bedrooms for when guests come to stay,

0:32:120:32:17

'making four bedrooms in total.'

0:32:170:32:19

Ah, happy, smiling faces! Is this a good sign?

0:32:190:32:22

You've seen everything there is to see, so I think time for "guess the price".

0:32:220:32:27

-How much do you think all this is worth?

-I think 420.

0:32:270:32:31

I think it's more, but I'm going to say 400,000 because I'm almost hopin it's going to be something like that

0:32:310:32:37

Would you be happy

0:32:370:32:39

if I told you the asking price...

0:32:390:32:43

..is £395,000?

0:32:440:32:47

THEY CHUCKLE

0:32:470:32:49

There, I've put my foot in it now, haven't I?

0:32:490:32:52

You were so close because you were HOPING it was going to be about that.

0:32:520:32:58

Because there's a lot of work to be doing to the house

0:32:580:33:01

-and that's something to think about very seriously indeed.

-Mm-hm.

0:33:010:33:06

-Before I leave you with that thought, there's a second option with this property.

-Is there?

0:33:060:33:11

-You could buy the house...

-Yes.

-..two and a half acres of land...

-Yes.

0:33:110:33:17

-..plus the barn for a different price.

-Ah!

0:33:170:33:21

You'd still have the stream running through.

0:33:210:33:24

They are looking at £250,000 for that.

0:33:240:33:28

Oh, crikey! Are they?

0:33:280:33:31

-Well, I mean, you know, that's...

-Is that good news? That's all I need to know now.

0:33:310:33:37

-It's extraordinary news.

-Yes.

0:33:370:33:39

-It's made your mystery house into our mystery house.

-Yes.

-Well done.

-Thank you.

0:33:390:33:44

Let's go somewhere quiet where you can gather your thoughts. It's a lot to go through.

0:33:440:33:50

At £395,000, the mystery house fits easily in budget.

0:33:500:33:55

The main house needs work, but there are some lovely original features.

0:33:550:34:00

Upstairs, there's room for guests with four bedrooms, plus a toilet,

0:34:000:34:04

providing opportunity for an en-suite,

0:34:040:34:07

meeting that all-important two bathroom requirement.

0:34:070:34:11

Finally, there's a massive 28 acres

0:34:110:34:13

of awe-inspiring Welsh countryside,

0:34:130:34:16

but if all that land has them running for the hills, there is a second option.

0:34:160:34:21

£250,000 will buy the house, barn and a more manageable 2.5 acres.

0:34:210:34:28

It needs a lot of work, a lot of work,

0:34:280:34:32

but every time I look out of one of the windows,

0:34:320:34:35

I see the view and I see the river and I can hear the river sometimes

0:34:350:34:39

and I think, "No, there must be a reason why they've brought us here.

0:34:390:34:44

"There must be something that makes this within our reach."

0:34:440:34:48

So I haven't completely lost faith, although I'm not going to tell Nicki that.

0:34:480:34:54

This is an amazing location, but when we walked into the house, I was initially really disappointed

0:34:540:35:01

because we've never done a project before and I wouldn't know where to start, frankly,

0:35:010:35:07

but now knowing the price, we are in such a dilemma

0:35:070:35:11

because it's a fantastic price and we know that we could do the renovation work.

0:35:110:35:16

It's just a question of putting our heads together and doing it.

0:35:160:35:21

'I'm taking the opportunity

0:35:270:35:29

'to discover more about the rich history of Gwynedd and one of the biggest Welsh exports,

0:35:290:35:35

'so I've come to Llechwedd Slate Caverns to meet historical guide Michael Hughes.'

0:35:350:35:41

-What exactly is slate?

-Its main ingredients

0:35:410:35:44

are mud and clay that's been compressed for 500 million years and the mud and clay turns to slate.

0:35:440:35:50

How long has the mine actually been here?

0:35:500:35:54

The actual mine started in 1846.

0:35:540:35:56

-So when it was discovered here, it must have transformed this part of Wales?

-It did.

0:35:560:36:02

It's thanks to the actual slate mine that we've got Blaenau today.

0:36:020:36:06

Without a doubt, it's because of the slate we've got the town here.

0:36:060:36:11

'The surrounding slate is hundreds of years' worth of waste, dating back to the 18th century.

0:36:110:36:16

'These days, we're more eco-minded, so now it's used for making house foundations.'

0:36:160:36:21

-So underneath my feet is the mine?

-Yes.

-Are we able to go down there?

-We're going down there now, yes.

0:36:210:36:28

-Well, I will follow you.

-OK then.

0:36:280:36:30

-Right, off we go.

-Off we go.

0:36:340:36:36

Oh, Mick, this is quite a drop!

0:36:430:36:46

-It is. We're going down about 400 feet.

-What's the gradient?

0:36:460:36:50

-It's on an angle of about one in nine.

-I'm holding you!

-That's all right.

0:36:500:36:55

It's the steepest passenger narrow-gauge railway in Britain.

0:36:550:36:59

'Years ago, the journey into the mine would have been a long, hard walk,

0:36:590:37:03

'but today, it takes just a few minutes.'

0:37:030:37:06

-Are we here now?

-Yeah.

-You can hear the water.

-Yeah.

0:37:060:37:10

'There's around 25 miles of underground passageways and chambers down here.

0:37:100:37:16

'And this main chamber is about 50 feet high.

0:37:160:37:20

'Every inch has been chiselled out by hand.'

0:37:200:37:24

-This is amazing.

-Yeah.

0:37:240:37:26

We always hear about how hard life was,

0:37:260:37:29

-but I presume these men were under severe pressure.

-It was a hard life, yes.

0:37:290:37:35

-Your average age to start down here is 12 years old.

-That young? When would they finish?

0:37:350:37:41

Depending how lucky they were or how unlucky they were, they carried on till about 34, 35.

0:37:410:37:47

Then these men would start getting that horrible disease, silicosis, which is dust going on the lungs.

0:37:470:37:53

They didn't last long once they had the silicosis, so that was quite grim.

0:37:530:37:58

-Yeah.

-What a hard, hard life!

0:37:580:38:01

'Thankfully, working conditions have improved,

0:38:010:38:05

'but it still takes a lot of hard graft to bring this precious slate to the surface.

0:38:050:38:10

'The story doesn't end here.

0:38:100:38:13

'The slate still needs to be trimmed and shaped - something tile splitter Glyn Daniels knows all about.

0:38:130:38:19

'Glyn makes on average 1,000 tiles a day, all by hand.

0:38:210:38:26

'I'm not about to compete with that, but I am itching to test my skills.'

0:38:260:38:31

-About there?

-In the middle.

0:38:310:38:33

That's it... And again. That's it.

0:38:340:38:38

OK...

0:38:380:38:40

You know when you take a cake out of a tin

0:38:400:38:44

and you're waiting in anticipation to see what it looks like? It feels like that for me.

0:38:440:38:50

Gosh, you're strong!

0:38:500:38:52

That's not too bad.

0:38:530:38:55

'All that's left now are the finishing touches.'

0:38:550:38:59

LOUD CRACK

0:38:590:39:01

And that gives it the most amazing edge.

0:39:070:39:11

Gosh, just think, in a few months' time, that could be someone's roof tile.

0:39:110:39:16

'It's great to know I've played a small part in creating someone's perfect home.

0:39:180:39:23

'Let's hope I've helped Jamal and Dee too. I can't wait to find out what they really thought

0:39:230:39:29

'about the three properties I've shown them on this journey.'

0:39:290:39:33

Well, Jamal and Diane, what have you thought of the last couple of days?

0:39:350:39:40

Just fantastic. You've given us more than we actually were expecting, to be honest.

0:39:400:39:45

So the first property that we saw was the cottage with the converted barn right next door.

0:39:450:39:51

Diane, you were taken with it straight away.

0:39:510:39:54

I was. It had a lovely feel to it, just the way the buildings were sort of situated.

0:39:540:40:00

I think when you first took us into the stone cottage, it was really interesting and very pretty.

0:40:000:40:07

What a lovely conversion!

0:40:070:40:09

The second property we showed you was very different from the first.

0:40:090:40:13

We started off with the cottage, then we moved slightly up-scale to the gentleman's house.

0:40:130:40:19

I think Jamal was more struck with i in terms of it being a little bit more imposing.

0:40:190:40:24

On the whole, the garden, the stream, the hollow in which that property was situated,

0:40:240:40:31

I fell in love with, I really liked that place.

0:40:310:40:34

-It was a lovely house.

-It was very attractive.

0:40:340:40:37

Grade 2 listed and in the centre of the Snowdonia National Park,

0:40:370:40:41

which brings us on to our mystery house.

0:40:410:40:44

-You did want a little bit of land, you said, when we started this house hunt.

-Yes.

0:40:440:40:50

We managed to find you a property with 28 acres.

0:40:500:40:54

-But it didn't seem to faze you too much.

-Well, it did, I suppose.

0:40:540:40:58

It was quite overwhelming, but it's irresistible in its location.

0:40:580:41:02

But then it's a renovation job.

0:41:030:41:06

The bonus for us was the price you gave us, the two options,

0:41:060:41:10

and the lower price option is a very good option because if the sums add up,

0:41:100:41:16

then there is a possibility that we may go for it. I don't know.

0:41:160:41:20

You see, we had promised ourselves when we started on this tour that you've kindly led us on

0:41:200:41:27

-that we would never get involved with a building project.

-That's true.

0:41:270:41:32

-Here we are...

-Discussing it.

-..doing the sums.

0:41:320:41:35

So what is the next step going to be for the two of you?

0:41:350:41:38

I think there's sort of a tension between properties one and three.

0:41:380:41:43

That's something we...certainly I would like to take forward.

0:41:430:41:47

I think it's only property three.

0:41:470:41:50

-Have you bought this house already?

-In my mind, I have.

0:41:500:41:53

I feel we're getting close. There's plenty of opportunities with this mystery house.

0:41:530:41:59

There are lots of opportunities, but it has given us a dilemma.

0:41:590:42:03

We'll take it forward and see what we can come up with and how it works out.

0:42:030:42:08

Whatever happens, because I know you'll be moving very soon, please keep in touch.

0:42:080:42:13

-I'm glad we've helped get you closer to your dream.

-Thank you.

-Thank you very much.

0:42:130:42:19

That's it, the end of our search here in North Wales.

0:42:210:42:24

Now, we've certainly given Jamal and Diane plenty to mull over.

0:42:240:42:29

And I've got a feeling it won't be too long before Diane comes round to Jamal's way of thinking

0:42:290:42:36

and the mystery house is turned into the perfect artists' retreat.

0:42:360:42:40

I certainly hope so.

0:42:400:42:43

See you next time.

0:42:430:42:45

After revisiting the mystery house,

0:42:460:42:49

Jamal and Dee decided that it was too much of a project for them after all,

0:42:490:42:54

but they have found a perfect home in North Wales

0:42:540:42:57

and plan to be living their country dream very soon.

0:42:570:43:02

If you'd like to escape to the country in Wales, Scotland,

0:43:020:43:06

Northern Ireland or England and need our help,

0:43:060:43:09

please apply online at:

0:43:090:43:11

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011

0:43:320:43:36

Email [email protected]

0:43:360:43:39

Nicki Chapman visits Gwynedd, North Wales, to help an artistic couple find a home with inspiring views for £450,000. While in Gwynedd, Nicki takes a tour of a local slate mine and learns how to craft one of the region's famous tiles.