Oxfordshire Escape to the Country


Oxfordshire

Series in which buyers are helped to find their dream home in the country. Jonnie Irwin helps a newly retired couple downsize to a smaller home in rural Oxfordshire.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

I'm close to a world-famous centre of academia. You're thinking

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I can only be in one of two places. Yes, but which one?

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'In today's show I'll be helping a couple downsize to find a retirement home in the country,

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'although I'm not sure who wears the trousers in this house hunt.'

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-Let's look at the master bedroom because...

-Because he thinks he's the master.

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Ooh, after you.

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'But I think we might just achieve house harmony.'

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-We like.

-We like.

-We like.

-Very matter of fact.

-We both like.

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So which one did you punt for? Sorry. Today I'm in Oxfordshire, and this is the River Cherwell.

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People have been punting here since Victorian times,

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but it became most popular in the Edwardian era, where I'd wear a straw boater and stripy jacket.

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Clearly I'm not observing that tradition today, but I am adhering to a strict local rule.

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When in Oxford, unlike Cambridge, where they punt from the box end,

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here one stands inside the boat. It gives you a much lower centre of gravity.

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And it's a delightful way of discovering the countryside.

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Oxfordshire is the most rural and least populated of the south-east counties

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with over three-quarters of the land devoted to agriculture. The Chiltern Hills run right through it,

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stretching all the way from Hertfordshire to Oxfordshire.

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The county is home to spectacular sights like the ancient sculpture at Uffington,

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which overlooks the Vale of the White Horse.

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Oxfordshire has lots of pretty villages. Those in the south-east

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have houses built from the flint cut straight from the Chilterns,

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whilst in the north many traditional buildings feature the distinctive yellow limestone of the Cotswolds.

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Time to meet today's buyers

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and find out why they're ready to escape to the country.

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Stuart and Sharon retired from running their own dry cleaning business six and a half years ago.

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Their children have flown the nest, so now they want to downsize from four bedrooms in Buckinghamshire

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and head for more peaceful surroundings.

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The current home has just got too big. We don't ever sit in here.

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We have four bedrooms and we only sleep in one.

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-We've got three bedrooms...

-To store my clothes.

-..to store clothes.

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Since their retirement, they've been keen to see more of the world.

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We'd like to downsize to really give us the opportunity to travel more.

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-We'd just like to go off and do a bit more.

-And have a smaller place

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that it's easier to lock up and travel from.

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-We really like walking, don't we? You like the golf.

-As long as it's near a golf club, fine!

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So the world is their oyster, but family ties are shaping where they want to move.

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We'd like an Oxfordshire village, preferably so we're within distance of all the grandkids, the children,

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-so we can visit everyone.

-Neighbours are important to me.

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-I'd like to live close to some people. Stuart would live on his own in the middle of a field!

-I'm easy.

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Such a happy soul!

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These two are not always of the same thinking,

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-especially when they describe what they want from their new home.

-We both have different ideas.

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I'd like two bedrooms, two bathrooms, open plan, folding doors.

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I think you might need three bedrooms or a study, with how much clothes you've got.

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-I hate gardening.

-So we'd like a smaller garden.

-And preferably a garage.

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It can be a modern property or a character property, but modern inside.

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At least they're sure on their finances.

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Ideally, our budget for the next property will be... £450,000 to £490,000.

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Any move to the countryside doesn't have to be about the quiet life.

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They both want to remain sociable, so I don't want anything isolated.

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But as long as I find Stuart something close to his golf club, he'll be fairly happy,

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but I get the inkling that Sharon wears the trousers, so she's the one I need to please. Wish me luck.

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Stuart and Sharon have asked us to look in Oxfordshire,

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where there are plenty of pretty rural villages and heaps of culture.

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We've found three fantastic houses to whet our buyers' appetite,

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but I won't tell them the price until they've had a guess first.

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As ever, our last property is our mystery house and we've got something special up our sleeves.

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-So why do you want to move?

-Em, basically, my parents are getting very old now

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and seeing what they haven't done, they haven't moved, and are now too old to move,

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it's made us think about doing it while we can.

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And we can still see the grandchildren without our suitcases.

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House-wise, this is why we're here. What do you want from the house?

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-What does your ideal house look like?

-Just something we could lock up easily so we could travel more.

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That's interesting. So this is a low-maintenance house.

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Something with a smaller garden, something to lock up.

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-We're surrounded by period cottages. Are we looking for old or new?

-Something newer, really.

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-OK, why is that?

-Just easier to maintain and it's a bit lighter. They're not so dark, are they?

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-Older properties have smaller windows.

-OK.

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Let's talk about the budget. How much are you looking to spend?

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-Sharon said we'll go to £490,000.

-£490,000.

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OK, good. Hopefully, the first house is fantastic, but, if not, shout out why it's not.

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-OK?

-That sounds good.

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Stuart and Sharon have a budget of £490,000.

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They are open to either a new build or a character property if it has a contemporary interior.

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They want two bedrooms, but I think they'll need more for all those clothes and shoes.

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They'd also like a place they could easily lock up and leave

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so a manageable garden is a must.

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For our first house, we're taking them to the village of Bletchingdon, 8.5 miles north of Oxford.

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Many of its houses are built of the yellow-hued Cotswold stone.

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This is a classic rural village with a green and attractive pub.

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The house is a delightful period cottage that started life as three small farmworkers' houses

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which have been knocked into one.

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Now then. Property number one... is this one right here.

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You can't see a great deal of it from here.

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-You access it really round the back.

-I see.

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-I want to get a first impression.

-Not bad at all.

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-It's a nice village as well. Nice area.

-Excellent.

-It's lovely. Really nice.

-Any questions?

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-No.

-No. Excited. Let's go and have a look.

-Follow me.

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'Well, I'd call that a thumbs up. Let's hope the inside will keep the positives coming.'

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-Just a slight step down there.

-Thank you.

-Straight into the kitchen first.

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-Oh, that's nice.

-Is it?

-I quite like the kitchen.

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-And it's got a range.

-Yeah. Do you like a range?

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-Um...

-It's interesting that you focus on an old piece of machinery rather than the house...

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-I've got an old piece of machinery!

-Goodness me!

-Cheeky!

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-I'm glad you like it.

-I like the kitchen. Seriously, I really like it.

-Not bad.

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-Not bad? Faint praise from Stuart.

-I think it needs a new range.

-OK, all right.

-But I like it.

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-I like the oak doors.

-But she'd change it completely.

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-Would she?

-She would.

-Go on, Sharon. Talk me through it.

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-Em...

-It's a good space for a cottage.

-It is a good space.

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-Once she's ripped it all out, yeah.

-What would you rip out?

-The lot.

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-No, I wouldn't change...

-She would!

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No, I wouldn't change the cupboards. And I quite like the centre island.

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-And this is big enough for you?

-Has it got a dining room?

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It could have. There's two reception rooms. One could be a dining room.

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Cos it's a nice space as a kitchen, but not big enough to entertain.

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-A dining room, possibly, at the far end. Let's see the living room.

-OK.

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OK?

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So then, the living room. Tell me what you think, cos I know you will.

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-Dark.

-Now, now.

-Dark?

-It's just a bit dark for my tastes, I think.

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I like things a bit lighter.

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Could you make this better for yourselves? Liveable for yourselves?

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You certainly could make it a lot lighter. I'd lighten the fireplace and lighten up the curtains.

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I'd like to see the rest of the house and how we go from there.

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OK, well, let's do just that.

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'A cool response, but I still think the upstairs might win them over.

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'On the first floor there are two modestly-sized double bedrooms and a sweet little single room

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'that could work as a wardrobe. There's also a fair-sized family bathroom by the master bedroom.'

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Come right in. I rather like this bedroom. See what you think.

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This is a nice size.

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-Isn't it brighter up here?

-Much lighter. Shows the difference paint can make.

-That's all it is.

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-You've got lighter floor coverings.

-This is lovely.

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-We're still not blown away.

-No.

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-Would you like a bigger bedroom?

-No, the bedroom size is nice.

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-Wasn't the bathroom next to this?

-Yes.

-So you could open a door there for an en-suite.

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-That's a really good idea.

-See?

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So that becomes an en-suite and maybe you could make a separate bathroom down here?

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-She used to be a designer.

-Oh, right.

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'Things are looking up now Sharon can see the possibilities of this house.

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'I'm going to show them another room which could be the second bathroom.'

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In total, there's four bedrooms in this house.

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-Now you only need two double rooms.

-We do, yeah.

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So, as it stands, this bathroom,

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whilst it faces the road, it might be easier to put it here.

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-It's a possibility.

-We wouldn't mind if we were in love with the house.

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The big question is whether or not you are in love with it.

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'I'm getting the feeling they're still a bit lukewarm about it.

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'Let's see if the price sways them.'

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-The sun's come back out.

-It's nice and bright.

-It's south-facing.

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-You said you didn't want a massive one.

-It's a lovely size. Just right for going away, leaving.

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So look, how would you place this, price-wise?

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I'd probably think in today's market it's about £450,000.

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-Stuart?

-Em, I think about 435.

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Not bad guesses. This is on the market for offers around £449,950.

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-Oh.

-So good guess!

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So for just under £450,000, this characterful 18th-century cottage

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has a beautifully modernised kitchen and breakfast room with beams and a range.

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There are two reception rooms, one with an open fire,

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three double bedrooms and a single.

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There's also an enclosed south-facing rear garden.

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-All done?

-All done.

-Good.

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-Well, onward and upward. Follow me.

-OK.

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Oxford and Cambridge have been competing against each other in an annual boat race since 1829.

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The event has become an international sporting occasion, watched by millions round the world.

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I'm here to meet Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford University Boat Club,

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who's going to teach me some much-needed rowing skills.

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Karl, thanks very much for seeing me today. What would I need to do, you know,

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if I was to try and go out on a boat from this club? What would the process be?

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The main thing to think about today is keeping your hands level.

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-If you keep your hands apart, the boat will tip over.

-What now?

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-We'll get in a double and go down on the river.

-Or down in the river!

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-OK, let's go.

-Cool.

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'For 182 years, the boat racing crews of Oxford and Cambridge have battled it out on the water.

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'The famous annual boat race takes place on the Thames between the bridges of Putney and Chiswick.

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'Traditionally, both crews are known as the Blues, with Cambridge favouring light blue shirts,

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'while Oxford has the dark blue. Sean Bowden, head coach, is going to put me through my paces.'

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Jonnie, when you start to slide forward, keep your knees reasonably close together

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-and let your arms come either side to let your knees bend.

-OK.

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All right.

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-When you're ready.

-That's it.

-Like that?

-Yeah.

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'So with my first run out drawing to a close, there's only one thing left to ask.'

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-It'll be a while before I'm selected?

-Yeah.

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We continue our property search in the village of Fringford, just over 18 miles north of Oxford.

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There are pretty thatched cottages, but no shop. The nearest one is just up the road in Hardwick,

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which also has this charming pub.

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The house I'm showing them is an impressive detached property,

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which I think might appeal to our buyers' modern tastes.

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So...the second property is this one.

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Straightaway you can see it's obviously a lot younger.

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-It looks nice.

-Quite nice, that.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

-It's nice.

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What you see is off-street parking, your own garage. What do you think?

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-It's really nice.

-Good. All right.

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-Let's get inside and see what you think.

-OK.

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-What do you think of this?

-This is lovely.

-Nice, bright, airy. Lovely.

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-Wow! Straight out.

-Really lovely. Very nice.

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-Show us more.

-I'm glad you said that!

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-This is a very different reaction.

-It's a different house.

-Completely.

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-Totally.

-The owners have done a very clever extension over here.

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They've extended it out and put a pitch roof on,

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-to give you this amazing room.

-Really nice.

-Lovely.

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Really nice. Airy, spacious. Everything we asked for.

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-Everything you asked for.

-So far. So far.

-Trust me! Go with me.

-I am.

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Now, listen, you liked the kitchen in the first house.

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This is a different style of kitchen,

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but it has features I think you'll like. So, follow me.

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'So far, so good.

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'I think the open-plan layout is working for them.

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'Let's hope the kitchen keeps that momentum going.'

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OK, then. So...

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-..very modern kitchen.

-Yeah, I really like it.

-Do you?

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-Very nice.

-Why? Why do you like it?

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It's nice, clean lines. Big enough to eat in.

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Everything you could ask for.

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-Madam would like this.

-I would.

-"Madam", did you say?!

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But so far, this feels like it's working for you. Am I right?

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-It does work. Yeah. We like.

-"We like."

-We like.

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-Very matter of fact.

-We both like. See? Both.

-That's good.

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-All right, let's go and discover the upstairs.

-Let's go.

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You're going to hit me soon.

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'Well, they both like this property.'

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Up here on the first floor, this is the master bedroom.

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-You look scared!

-I am scared! In case I like it too much.

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-Just checking the size.

-Is it big enough?

-It's plenty.

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-What do you think?

-Plenty of storage space.

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You said you were worried that you might like it too much.

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Yeah. I really do like it.

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-It's getting better by the minute.

-Really?

-It's going all right.

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-And you look quietly impressed by this place.

-You got it right.

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-We are. I am. You are.

-I am quietly impressed.

-Good. OK.

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Let's see if we can take a peek at the garden

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and then we'll start talking about price

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-and whether or not you can afford it.

-Ohh!

-Ohh!

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'This house just keeps getting better.

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'On this floor, there's a family bathroom,

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'two single bedrooms and another double bedroom.'

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So, low-maintenance garden was a task you charged me with.

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This is just right. Just the right size.

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OK, how impressed are you?

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You guessed pretty much on the money at the first house.

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-How much do you think this house is on the market for?

-A bit more.

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-I think it's probably at the top end of the budget - about £500,000.

-OK.

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-Stuart?

-I was going to go 499, but...

-You still can, if you like.

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-There's a pound separating you.

-I'll go 499.

-We'll toss for the pound!

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OK. This house is on the market for...

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-offers around £475,000.

-God, I'm surprised.

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-So, what do you think?

-I think it's a good price, good house.

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So for around £475,000,

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this modern build has a stylish kitchen/diner,

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a huge open plan living room with floor-to-ceiling French doors,

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four bedrooms and a low-maintenance garden they said they were after.

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-How did you get on?

-Really well.

-Really well?

-Yeah, pretty good.

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Pretty good. Well, hopefully this has been a good end to the day.

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-A brilliant end to the day.

-This is promising.

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As the sun sets over the rolling hills of Oxfordshire,

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the first day of our property search is over.

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Today, we're off to see the mystery house.

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As ever, it's here to challenge the expectations of our buyers,

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but I don't know what a great reaction to a house looks like.

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Hopefully, I'll find out today.

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For the mystery house, we're taking them to Kingston Bagpuize,

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ten miles south of Oxford.

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The village has a beautiful 17th-century manor house,

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and also a Post Office, a pub and a tennis court.

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Stuart and Sharon don't mind a character home,

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but the absolute essential is a contemporary interior.

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Our mystery house has an interesting mix of old and new.

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I just hope it's not too quirky for them,

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as it's the perfect "lock up and leave" property.

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So welcome to Kingston Bagpuize.

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The house that will help you decide whether to live here or not

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-is this one here.

-That looks nice.

-Looks very nice.

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Now, it's a converted barn. It was converted in around the 1960s,

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but it's thought the property dates back to the 1700s.

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-What do you think?

-Can't wait to look inside.

-Good.

-OK, off we go.

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OK, let's go.

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'Let's hope Jenny's not too quiet when she sees the inside.'

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-In we come.

-Oh! It's not what I expected.

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Really? What were you expecting?

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I expected it to be a lot darker than it actually is.

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-That bodes well.

-Mmm.

-I expected it to be a lot, lot darker.

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-What do you think, Stuart?

-It's different. Yeah.

-It is different.

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You've got a downstairs loo, but I'll take you to the kitchen.

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-OK.

-All right.

0:22:210:22:22

Hopefully, this light feeling continues in the kitchen.

0:22:250:22:30

Everything is really surprising, from inside to outside.

0:22:300:22:34

It's really surprising.

0:22:340:22:37

-You were expecting a very dark...

-Very dark.

-..living space.

0:22:370:22:42

Dark oak beams, no lights. This is a nice surprise.

0:22:420:22:46

-Good.

-And the kitchen's much more modern than I thought.

0:22:460:22:50

-It doesn't, sort of, inspire me so far.

-Right. Why is that?

0:22:500:22:54

I don't think it's us, but we'll go on a bit more.

0:22:540:22:58

I probably like it a bit more than you do. It's a bit quirky.

0:22:580:23:02

-Let's see the living room. It has got a flow, which you liked.

-I did.

0:23:020:23:08

Let's take a wander through here. The living room's a good size,

0:23:080:23:13

-but it's what you think.

-It is a nice size, yeah.

0:23:130:23:19

-I like how it opens up into the garden.

-That's one thing you wanted.

0:23:190:23:23

-What do you think of this?

-I don't think a Zimmer frame

0:23:230:23:27

-will go up there!

-No! This is...an occasional room.

0:23:270:23:33

The grandchildren would like climbing up there.

0:23:330:23:35

It doesn't do much for me at all. None of it.

0:23:350:23:39

Let's look at the master bedroom, because, well...

0:23:390:23:43

-Cos he thinks he's the master.

-Oooh! After you.

0:23:430:23:46

'So, opinion seems to be divided, but let's see if I can win them

0:23:480:23:52

'both over with the master bedroom.'

0:23:520:23:54

Now, the master bedroom is on the ground floor.

0:23:570:24:00

-Now...

-It's quite dark.

0:24:000:24:02

-Yes.

-I don't mind the bedroom being on the ground floor.

0:24:020:24:07

-I just think this is a bit dark for a bedroom.

-Essentially,

0:24:070:24:11

this is the biggest room, as well.

0:24:110:24:13

So I think this is actually your master, so it's en suite.

0:24:130:24:17

-Which you clearly love, Stuart(!)

-I love it. Yeah. I don't think.

0:24:180:24:24

Isn't it amazing? You liked it up until this point.

0:24:240:24:28

I did, until this bedroom.

0:24:280:24:30

-But for you...

-I can't get enthused about anything so far.

0:24:300:24:34

Have a think about the price when we go outside.

0:24:340:24:37

-We'll go back through the living room.

-OK.

0:24:370:24:40

Upstairs, there's ample room for two further bedrooms,

0:24:440:24:48

but I feel the tide has turned against it.

0:24:480:24:51

So this could be your garden. There's another to the back.

0:24:510:24:57

-Fabulous views.

-It is fabulous.

-Best part of the house!

0:24:570:25:01

So, with that in mind,

0:25:010:25:03

-how much do you think this house is on the market for?

-Ooh.

0:25:030:25:08

-It's quite an expensive village around here.

-I'll go first.

0:25:080:25:12

-Go on, then.

-520.

-So you think it's over budget?

-I do.

0:25:120:25:16

-I don't.

-No?

-No. I think it's less.

-How much less?

0:25:160:25:22

-I think it's about 465.

-Do you?

0:25:220:25:25

Good guess from you. It's on the market for offers around £475,000.

0:25:250:25:31

This unusual and attractive take on a barn conversion

0:25:340:25:37

is priced at around £475,000.

0:25:370:25:41

It has a modern kitchen/diner,

0:25:410:25:43

a reception room, with a vaulted ceiling and period beams,

0:25:430:25:47

three bedrooms and a south-facing garden

0:25:470:25:51

with stunning views over parkland.

0:25:510:25:53

-All done?

-All done.

-Good. We need to find somewhere

0:25:550:25:59

-for you guys to have a chat and then we'll discuss it all.

-OK.

0:25:590:26:04

So how have you enjoyed your time looking in Oxfordshire?

0:26:130:26:16

-You've shown us some nice houses.

-Is it the place for you to relocate?

0:26:160:26:22

-It is. We like the area.

-Cast your minds back to yesterday morning.

0:26:220:26:26

-The first property.

-From outside, I thought it looked really nice.

0:26:260:26:30

It just didn't flow nicely for us once we were inside.

0:26:300:26:34

I think we can write off house number one.

0:26:340:26:36

-It just wasn't for you. House number two went down very well.

-Oh, yeah.

0:26:360:26:41

We were really pleased when we saw it.

0:26:410:26:44

We're just trying to think, "Can we live here?"

0:26:440:26:47

-We really liked it.

-Good. Now the mystery house is always

0:26:470:26:51

-something to challenge you.

-I didn't like it at all.

0:26:510:26:54

-Nothing at all appealed.

-OK. Well, it's always a gamble.

0:26:540:26:58

So, as I suspected, it's down to the second house, is it?

0:26:580:27:02

-It is.

-We'd like to go back to look at it.

0:27:020:27:06

-You do want to go back?

-Yeah.

-We will have a look.

0:27:060:27:09

I wish you the best of luck. Let us know how you get on.

0:27:090:27:13

-We will, indeed.

-Enjoyed it.

-Pleasure.

0:27:130:27:16

I think, now, for them a second viewing is essential.

0:27:210:27:25

If it is their favourite, they need to go back to that house,

0:27:250:27:27

not only to look around it, but also to investigate the area.

0:27:270:27:32

Have a chat with friends who live locally

0:27:320:27:35

and see what it's like to live there full-time.

0:27:350:27:37

They need to be happy there for the rest of their retirement.

0:27:370:27:41

I'm sure, like me, you'll wish them the best of luck.

0:27:410:27:45

And I'll see you next time.

0:27:450:27:46

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:27:490:27:51

in Scotland, Wales,

0:27:510:27:52

Northern Ireland or England, or maybe even further afield,

0:27:520:27:55

to the Continent and need our help, please apply online at...

0:27:550:28:02

Jonnie Irwin helps a newly retired couple downsize to a smaller home in rural Oxfordshire, with a budget of £500,000. While in Oxfordshire, Jonnie is put through his paces by the head coach of the world-famous Oxford University rowing team.


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