Dorset Escape to the Country


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Dorset

Property show. Jules Hudson goes on a £650,000 house hunt in Dorset with a couple who have lived their entire married lives in separate homes, 70 miles apart.


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On today's Escape To The Country, I'm in the county that was home to

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one of the world's most famous female fossil hunters.

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Her work here went on to define much of what we now know

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about geology and palaeontology.

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But where am I? And who was she?

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Well, stick around and I'll show you.

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In today's show I'll be helping a couple move in to their very first home together

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and they clearly like what they see.

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-This is a wow.

-Isn't it?

-That looks nice, wow.

-Wow.

-Yeah?

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But our mystery house throws them into turmoil.

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We might have given you more to think about...

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Another sleepless night, I think.

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Well, now then.

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Today I'm in Dorset, on part of its very famous Jurassic Coast.

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This part of the country shot to fame back in 1811

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when a young 12-year-old girl, and keen fossil hunter, called Mary Anning,

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discovered the bones of a big fish.

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It turned out to be an ichthyosaur, 180 million years old.

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Her discovery provoked something of a revolution in thought.

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It challenged many people's long-held biblical beliefs

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that the world was in fact much younger than her fossil had proven.

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Since that discovery, this place has been a real Mecca for fossil hunters

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down through the decades.

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It's become such an important place of study and understanding that in 2001

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it became Britain's very first World Heritage Site.

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Sandwiched between its coastal neighbours of Devon and Hampshire,

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Dorset's position means that it benefits from

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this glorious 95-mile stretch of stunning cliffs

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that falls within its county border.

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But venture inland from the towns of Lyme Regis and Charmouth

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and you'll find a rich hinterland with lush pastures

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providing perfect grazing territory

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for traditional livestock and alpacas alike.

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The region inspired much of Thomas Hardy's work

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and, as we'll discover,

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its villages remain a compelling option for aspiring escapees.

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Meet Valerie and Barry.

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This couple dated for 15 years before getting married.

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Sadly, work commitments prevented them from moving in together.

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They've been living in separate properties, 70 miles apart,

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Barry in Sussex and Valerie in Kent.

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But, now they're both retired, it's finally time to buy their first home together

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and have a lifestyle overhaul.

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We've both led quite busy lives.

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We'd like to slow down and spend more time walking the dogs.

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We want a bit more land, we want chickens.

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I've already been out and bought the chicken coop.

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I would like a couple of alpacas.

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And hopefully by having these sort of things, the grandchildren will want to come to the country

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and spend some reasonable time with us.

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The style of house that we're looking for is cottagey, pretty,

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maybe a bit quirky, a minimum of three bedrooms

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and an ensuite, if possible, would be lovely.

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And there's one room that really needs to measure up.

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I like to bake cakes and make jams and chutneys.

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This kitchen just isn't big enough for the two of us,

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we get in each other's way.

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We would like a garden up to one acre.

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We realise that, with our budget, we'd rather have a nice house

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and compromise on the garden.

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And, as they already have their respective properties on the market,

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they actually have a healthy amount to spend.

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Our top budget for the move would be £650,000.

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So, for a very healthy £650,000,

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Barry and Valerie are hoping to get a nice three-bed cottage,

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full of character, ideally close to, if not within, a village.

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They have been looking here in Dorset for some time.

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They did put an offer in, but sadly got pipped at the post at the very last minute.

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So, the pressure is on to try and find them their dream home this week.

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For Valerie and Barry's house hunt we will be casting our net wide,

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right across the county of Dorset from Lyme Regis to Dorchester,

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so they can experience the full flavour of what's available.

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We've cherry-picked three fantastic properties to show them

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but I won't reveal the price of each until they have had a guess first.

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And finally, our mystery house will set out to challenge

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what they think they want from their dream property.

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Well, Valerie, Barry, welcome back to Dorset.

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-This is your old stomping ground, isn't it?

-It is, yes.

-Yes.

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With many couples who've been together as long as you have, I can honestly say to them,

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are you going to agree on the sort of property that will be your new home?

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They'll say, "We've moved once, twice, three times and we always agreed,"

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but you've never done it.

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This is your first home together. How easy is it going to be?

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I think it's going to be quite easy

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because we basically love the same sort of things.

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-The garden and pottering around in the garden.

-If the garden is right for Barry

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and I like the house, the house is probably more of a woman's domain,

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so, I think I will have the last say on that.

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-The last word.

-That's what we normally do.

-OK, fine.

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Let's go and see what maybe sunny Dorset has to offer you.

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-Yeah, very excited.

-Come on.

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..but if there's space for alpacas, all the better.

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Our property search gets underway a couple miles from Beaminster

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in the village of Broadwindsor.

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Earmarked a conservation area, it benefits from many historic buildings,

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including a church, local pub and shop which serve its 1,200 residents.

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Our first house comes with a unique architectural heritage of its own being Grade II Listed.

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Well, there we are, our first one.

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-Very pretty house.

-Yeah.

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It's a kind of classic village house, this.

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-It's sort of 1700s, or thereabouts, so could be early Georgian.

-Yeah.

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-The windows would suggest that.

-I like Georgian.

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-But it's finished to a really high standard.

-Good.

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And you won't need to do much, if anything.

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Right, in you come. How about this then?

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-This is pretty.

-Nice?

-Nice.

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-Nice flagstone floor to greet you.

-Ideal for the dogs.

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Let's start in here.

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What's interesting about this house is that potentially you've got five...

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-Wow.

-..reception rooms. And you can configure them however you like.

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This one is currently set up as something of a dining area, but it's all movable.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

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You did say that one of the key ingredients was a nice big kitchen diner.

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-Yes.

-Yes. Especially for when the family come.

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See what you think of this.

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-There we are.

-Wow. This is lovely.

-Would this work?

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-Yes, definitely.

-This would, yes, definitely.

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It's been finished to a high spec.

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And to get something this big, in a village like this,

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-I think is quite exceptional.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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Next door is the site of the old kitchen, which still has its original exposed beams.

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To the rear, there's an additional room currently used as a home office.

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At the front, on the other side of the hallway, there's that second living room that they asked for

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with its own signature fireplace.

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Upstairs gives them four bedrooms, which is one more than they asked for, spread over two levels.

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Let's start in here.

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This would be, you know, another guestroom really.

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-Three on this floor to choose from.

-It's a nice sized room.

-Really nice.

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There's also a huge family bathroom on this floor.

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So, effectively, this is a guest floor. Because you two are on the very top.

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-Right.

-Look at this! Yeah.

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The other two potential guestrooms on this floor are both large enough to be doubles

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and one benefits from its own ensuite.

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But where they would sleep, upstairs on the next floor, really does raise the roof.

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-Oh.

-Yeah.

-This is a wow.

-Isn't it?

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-What do you think?

-This is lovely, isn't it?

-We're up in the eaves, aren't we?

-Yeah.

-This is lovely.

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This is your own little space here.

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The other great thing about this, of course,

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is that you have got your own ensuite.

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-Right.

-Which is through here. Which I think is really nice.

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Again, pretty generous when you think about it. Come on in.

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-This is a lovely size.

-This is lovely.

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-Just again, light too. You've got these lovely skylights here.

-Yes.

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If this impressive Georgian property were to be their first home together

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there would be absolutely no work to do.

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But, I know the garden is a big factor for Barry.

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Along with a lovely decked area flanking the rear of the house,

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the garden comes in at just under half an acre.

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But, is it enough for all of Barry's plans?

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Now, we spied the upper terrace from the kitchen and so forth.

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Very much kind of formal lawn.

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This kind of dell, if you will, is the lower part of the garden.

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In fairness, Barry, we're probably not talking alpacas.

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We did discuss compromises though, unfortunately this was one of them.

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So, let's see how far your £650,000 is going to stretch.

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-Valerie, go on, you go first.

-Well, I think it is at the top of our budget. I would guess 649.

-649?

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-Hoping for a bit of change. Barry?

-I'll go slightly lower.

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I would've gone at a similar price, but I'll go at 639.

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OK, you're absolutely right, Valerie,

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this is absolutely at the top of your budget, this is £650,000.

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-Yeah.

-Is it? Right.

-But, you know, the village location does come in at a premium.

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So, go and have a look round. See what you get for £650,000.

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Go and indulge yourself in that kitchen, Valerie.

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I know you love it. We all love it. See if you can find a kettle.

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-Why not?

-Catch up with you later, off you go.

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Right on budget at £650,000,

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this fabulous Georgian property is a great opening gambit.

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And addresses many of the criteria on their wish list.

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It gives them...

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The house is absolutely lovely.

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It's the sort of house that we could move into,

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drop our belongings, our luggage and we'd be settled, nothing to do.

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I do like this house, I really like the downstairs,

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the way it flows from room to room.

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Especially this kitchen that looks out on to the garden and the decking.

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We're continuing our house search five miles inland from Charmouth,

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whose evocative coastline is utterly breathtaking, come rain or shine.

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Our second property takes them away from the coast

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and into the heart of a rural setting.

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But, as they'll discover, it gives them more land than they might imagine.

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-Make what you will of that, our second property.

-That looks nice.

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-That looks very nice.

-Yeah?

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-It's only 1960s or so.

-I was going to say it's a fairly new build.

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Well, it is, and of course it benefits, therefore, from being laid out to accommodate,

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you know, modern living. Let's have a look. Follow me down.

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Come in. Come in.

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There we are, Valerie. What do you think?

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-I think it's a very nice hall.

-Lovely entrance.

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-This is the joy of a modern build.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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In that it's laid out with modern living in mind.

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And everything kind of flows off of this central hallway.

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Let's start in here, with the living room.

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-Now.

-This is nice. I like this.

-This is a nice size. Lovely and light, again.

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-It's bigger than we had before for your main...

-Yes.

-Yeah.

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..living room shall we say in terms of a separate area from the kitchen.

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Loads of light, that's one thing this house is not short of.

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It gets even better through here because it continues into this sort of sunroom arrangement

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which is also a dining room.

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-It is quite a clever addition, I think, this.

-Oh, this is lovely.

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-This is nice.

-So, there we are living room, dining room. Now, the kitchen.

-Yes.

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-Come and tell me what you think of this.

-OK.

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-OK, Valerie?

-OK.

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-Now, this is clearly not the same as our first kitchen...

-No.

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-..which was a real treat.

-That was special.

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Could you live with this one?

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Yes, I think I could because I can already see what I would do with it.

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OK, go on, tell me.

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-Take that wall out.

-And go into the dining room?

-Yeah.

-Good one.

-Very doable.

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The great thing about these relatively modern builds is that

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that sort of thing, structurally is...

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-Wouldn't be a problem.

-Yeah, absolutely very, very easy to do.

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There's plenty of additional space in the form of a utility room,

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potentially a useful holding area for their dogs, with a WC and shower room next door.

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Sandwiched between here and the garage at the front is a handy workshop.

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With the downstairs covered,

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we'll head upstairs where there are four bedrooms.

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Now, as with the hallway,

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obviously the landing benefits from light from that window.

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-I think, again, sets the scene for what you're going to get up here, really.

-Yeah, this is nice.

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Very generous family bathroom in here.

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-There you go.

-This is a good size.

-His and hers sinks.

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Right, out you go. Let's find you a master bedroom.

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Through here.

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-This is your room.

-This is nice, I like the windows.

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-The different shaped windows.

-Yeah.

-Nice and bright.

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Again, lovely big windows throwing a lot of light into the room.

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-So, how are we doing on the property?

-Fine, fine.

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There's no issues.

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Because it is a bit smaller than our earlier one and I had a few concerns about that, but you seem OK.

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Yeah, we actually don't need a big house.

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Next to the master is a single bedroom, currently used as a study,

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with two further bedrooms, both doubles,

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benefiting from large windows and garden views.

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It's outside to the garden where we're heading next which, with two and a half acres of land,

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gives Barry a plot over twice the size he wanted.

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Perfect for growing his vegetables and keeping chickens.

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There's even a paddock for those alpacas, who could enjoy stunning views over the Marshwood Vale.

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There you go, Barry. I think they will be very happy alpacas in here.

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-I think they certainly would.

-Enough room for them.

-Nice, isn't it?

-Yes.

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Let's have a think about the money on this one

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-because clearly this has whetted your appetite.

-Yes.

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Barry, this is all about you really, isn't it?

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-Land and so forth, let's have you go first on this one.

-639,950.

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-I think a little less than that. 625.

-625?

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-Yes.

-Would you be happy with 625?

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-It would give us a little bit in the pot.

-To play with.

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OK, there is a bit left over, you'll be delighted to know.

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From your budget of £650,000 you would have to part

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with £630,000 to get this.

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-Wasn't far out. That would be good, yes.

-20 grand left over.

-Yeah.

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Good, right. Look, the sun has finally come out to join us today.

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Make the best of it, go and explore that paddock.

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-See if it really is enough and I'll catch up with you later.

-OK.

-OK.

-Off you go, enjoy.

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Under budget at £630,000, this house has emerged as a strong contender...

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I know Barry has fallen in love with the garden

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and the area that would be probably my domain, I think I could cope with it.

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The house, yes, there's a couple of things that we would like to do

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in the sense of small alterations.

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Other than that, the house is a good size for two of us.

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As evening falls over the Dorset countryside,

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

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Well, it is, of course, the start of our last day of house hunting down here in Dorset

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with Barry and Valerie.

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I can tell you, having just had breakfast with them,

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they are more than excited about the prospect of our mystery house.

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Overnight they've talked about our previous two properties

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and they're really happy with the way it's gone so far.

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So, can we continue to thrill them with our final property?

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Let's hope so, providing, of course, the weather holds off.

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For our mystery property we're heading to the village of Maiden Newton,

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some nine miles from Dorchester.

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Located on the river Frome,

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it offers great walking terrain along the Frome Valley footpaths.

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The amenities serve a community of around 1,000 people

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and the village has its fair share of historic architecture.

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Neighbouring the parish church, our mystery property certainly delivers big on house

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but will it be too much?

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What we've got is, I suppose, at its heart, is a barn

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that's roughly, say, 200 years old.

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-As you can see much converted.

-Yeah.

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But it does also benefit from having the addition of that structure over there.

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-Oh, that's part of it?

-What?

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-That's all part of it. It's made a huge addition to the floor space that is on offer.

-Yeah.

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-Space is one thing this place is not short of.

-Right.

-It's lovely.

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The courtyard also houses two large garages.

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Valerie was wary about a barn conversion,

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so is she ready to tackle those high ceilings?

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-Now then, come on in.

-Wow.

-Wow.

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-You like?

-Yes.

-Yes.

-We like.

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-I thought you might!

-Yes, very nice.

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I think they've done this really inventively.

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So, if you like what you've seen so far

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wait till we get to the details.

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Come and have a look at this, this is great.

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-Oh, this is nice.

-Yeah?

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That's lovely.

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What I think is quite striking about this is it's got a very Georgian feel.

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-Georgian, yeah.

-Because you've got these great big sash windows,

0:20:400:20:42

and if I didn't know I was in a barn...

0:20:420:20:45

-You'd think you're in a Georgian house.

-I would, actually.

-Yes.

0:20:450:20:49

-Impressed so far?

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:20:490:20:51

Good, let's continue back through the hallway.

0:20:510:20:54

I'll show you what else happens.

0:20:540:20:57

Now, the whole kind of floor plan is linked with this lovely light corridor

0:20:570:21:01

which runs the length of the building.

0:21:010:21:04

Leading off of it we've got a very generous utility room down there.

0:21:040:21:07

Now, Valerie, this, I've been dying to show you this.

0:21:070:21:11

-Wow.

-It's beautiful.

0:21:130:21:16

It's absolutely everything that you could want.

0:21:160:21:19

Open plan, kitchen diner and living room, actually, all in one.

0:21:190:21:24

Yes, and it's open. This is beautiful.

0:21:240:21:27

So, have we really kind of put a spanner in the works?

0:21:270:21:30

You certainly have after yesterday.

0:21:300:21:33

After yesterday, after that second house yesterday.

0:21:330:21:36

So we might have given you more to think about?

0:21:360:21:39

-Another sleepless night, I think.

-Well, now then, OK.

0:21:390:21:41

Talking of sleep, let's go upstairs and see what you get in terms of bedrooms.

0:21:410:21:44

We have certainly spoilt them with the ground floor.

0:21:440:21:48

There are two further reception rooms,

0:21:480:21:51

one a potential den for Barry,

0:21:510:21:53

and the other a glazed reading room overlooking the courtyard.

0:21:530:21:56

Tucked away, on each side of the central entrance hall, are two cloakrooms

0:21:560:22:00

and upstairs the layout is just as extensive.

0:22:000:22:05

Up you come.

0:22:050:22:07

-Lovely great big sort of family wing over there.

-Yeah.

0:22:070:22:10

But this is for you two.

0:22:100:22:15

-Oh, this is nice.

-Yeah?

-I like the window.

-That's lovely.

0:22:150:22:19

It does also come with that very nice ensuite. Have a look at that.

0:22:190:22:23

-Oh, that's nice. I like the double doors.

-Yeah.

-This is really nice.

0:22:230:22:28

-It's ideal, isn't it?

-We wanted an ensuite so, this is...

0:22:280:22:32

-You'd feel at home with this.

-This is lovely.

0:22:320:22:35

-So, we're pretty happy, aren't we?

-We certainly are.

0:22:350:22:39

Well, we seem to be spot-on with the master.

0:22:390:22:42

Upstairs gives them four bedrooms in total with the other three at the far end of the house.

0:22:420:22:47

There is a potential double, which follows the roofline,

0:22:470:22:50

with a convenient shower room right opposite.

0:22:500:22:54

Bedroom three also features a high sloping ceiling.

0:22:540:22:58

The fourth has a built-in wardrobe with a handy bathroom next door.

0:22:580:23:03

The compromise is that outside doesn't come with land for Barry's alpacas,

0:23:030:23:07

but there is the possibility to rent the neighbouring field.

0:23:070:23:10

In terms of garden, really, to be frank, kind of what you see is what you get.

0:23:130:23:19

-Right.

-We haven't got acres of land for you, but we have got acres of house.

0:23:190:23:24

-Yes, yes.

-That's the up side. Shall we talk about the money?

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:23:240:23:30

You've got 650, where are we on this one?

0:23:300:23:32

-I think this is way over the budget. So I would say 699.

-699.

0:23:320:23:37

-I'll go 679.

-679.

0:23:370:23:41

Yeah, comfortably over budget, both of you.

0:23:410:23:44

-The good news is this is under budget.

-No.

-I'm surprised at that.

0:23:440:23:50

-This could be yours for £645,000.

-My goodness. That's incredible.

0:23:500:23:55

That's incredible. You've certainly thrown a spanner in the works with this one.

0:23:550:24:02

I thought we might. There's plenty of it.

0:24:020:24:04

There are couple of bits that I'm going to leave you to explore on your own.

0:24:040:24:09

-Go and finish the job off.

-OK.

-I'll catch up with you later.

-OK, Jules.

0:24:090:24:13

So, under budget at £645,000,

0:24:130:24:16

this remarkable mystery house would make an amazing first home...

0:24:160:24:20

I do like this barn conversion.

0:24:380:24:40

It's very spacious, there are lots of bedrooms.

0:24:400:24:44

The kitchen diner is wonderful, just what we asked for.

0:24:440:24:48

So, I do believe it is a real contender.

0:24:480:24:51

The only downside, I feel, would be the size of the garden.

0:24:510:24:55

But the garden isn't everything and I am sure we can sit down

0:24:550:25:00

and discuss these sort of things

0:25:000:25:01

and decide what we want - a garden or a beautiful house.

0:25:010:25:06

Well, we have now arrived at one of my favourite parts of any Escape To The Country.

0:25:130:25:17

It is decision time for Barry and for Valerie.

0:25:170:25:20

Goodness knows, they have been looking for their new home for long enough.

0:25:200:25:23

Have we brought that quest to an end, I wonder?

0:25:230:25:26

Well, let's go and ask them.

0:25:260:25:28

So, Barry and Valerie, here we are at the end of our house search.

0:25:310:25:36

Let's just remind ourselves of where we went and what we saw.

0:25:360:25:40

We kicked off with that very pretty, 1700s,

0:25:400:25:44

Georgian fronted village house

0:25:440:25:47

with the fantastic kitchen diner.

0:25:470:25:50

Beautiful, it was gorgeous.

0:25:500:25:52

The slight downside of that property was the garden, in the two tiers.

0:25:520:25:58

We're getting older all the time and that would be a concern.

0:25:580:26:04

OK, then we took you to our second property, which in all sorts of ways was very, very different.

0:26:040:26:08

But it did come, Barry, with lots of land.

0:26:080:26:12

Yes, the paddock, the garden, was nicely laid out.

0:26:120:26:17

The views from that area were stunning,

0:26:170:26:20

and it was everything we wanted.

0:26:200:26:22

My concern was that, having shown you a much bigger first property,

0:26:220:26:27

that our second one was a little bit smaller.

0:26:270:26:30

It wasn't going to give you all the reception rooms you might want.

0:26:300:26:33

It gave us a larger lounge

0:26:330:26:36

and there's only the two of us

0:26:360:26:39

the majority of the time, except for when the family come.

0:26:390:26:41

We don't need a huge house.

0:26:410:26:44

Then we took you to our final property, the mystery house,

0:26:440:26:47

which you had spent all night guessing over.

0:26:470:26:52

-It was amazing inside.

-Huge.

-The amount of room.

0:26:520:26:57

-The kitchen diner.

-Let's just talk about the kitchen diner.

0:26:570:27:00

Is it the kind of kitchen diner that you had always had in mind?

0:27:000:27:03

Yes, because you could have a nice, big table in there.

0:27:030:27:06

But I'm dying to know where we are now.

0:27:060:27:09

You've been married for not a year, quite.

0:27:090:27:11

You've been together for 15 years.

0:27:110:27:14

This is a great moment when it's all coming together.

0:27:140:27:16

Have we managed to find you your combined dream home?

0:27:160:27:20

I think you've really opened our minds to looking at something completely different.

0:27:200:27:25

We've got to decide do we want a lovely house

0:27:250:27:31

with a relaxing sort of retirement,

0:27:310:27:34

or do we still want the real rural dream?

0:27:340:27:37

I'm delighted that we have helped you to clarify a bit more what you want to do.

0:27:370:27:42

-Yeah.

-So, we wish you all the very best of luck.

-Thanks very much.

0:27:420:27:45

-As ever, let us know how you get on.

-We will, most definitely.

0:27:450:27:49

Well, as you probably gathered,

0:27:530:27:55

this hasn't exactly been the sunniest week we've ever had

0:27:550:27:58

down here in Dorset on Escape To The Country.

0:27:580:28:00

That's been more than made up for by the warmth and enthusiasm

0:28:000:28:04

that Barry and Valerie have brought to this house search.

0:28:040:28:07

A couple who, whilst they've been together, have had to live apart for the last 15 years.

0:28:070:28:12

So, with any luck, they are now several steps closer

0:28:120:28:15

to realising their dream of a life together.

0:28:150:28:18

And here in Dorset, well,

0:28:180:28:20

whatever the weather, they shouldn't go far wrong.

0:28:200:28:22

If you'd like to Escape To The Country

0:28:220:28:25

in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England

0:28:250:28:28

and would like our help then please apply online at:

0:28:280:28:32

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:530:28:56

Jules Hudson goes on a £650,000 house hunt in Dorset with a couple who have lived their entire married lives in separate homes, 70 miles apart. While in the county, Jules heads to the beach to search for fossils on the world-famous Jurassic Coast.