Bedfordshire Escape to the Country


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Bedfordshire

Buyers are helped to find their dream homes. Alistair Appleton goes rural property shopping in Bedfordshire with a couple buying their first house together.


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180 years ago in this stately home, one of the greatest English traditions, afternoon tea, was born.

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Who was its creator, and where are we? Find out in just a moment.

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'On today's show, we're helping a married couple hoping to quit suburbia

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'to buy their first home together in the country.

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'And hold on, cos it's going to be a rough ride.'

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It makes you feel a bit seasick as you're walking around, I find.

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'Though we do find our feet on solid and rather splendid ground.'

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I can see the potential.

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'But will the numbers stack up?'

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I've come with a formula.

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I'm going to think of a price, take off 200 and add 25.

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We're in Bedfordshire,

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and I'm in the reputed birthplace of afternoon tea,

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the Blue Drawing Room at Woburn Abbey.

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In the 1840s, the lady of the house, Anna Maria, Duchess of Bedford,

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complained to her butler about "the terrible sinking feeling"

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that she had in her stomach - i.e. she was hungry around four o'clock.

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So she instigated a ceremony of light refreshments with the tea.

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Being Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria, the ceremony caught on.

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I'll be learning the etiquette of taking tea later in the show.

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First, let's look at some of the tasty delights

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-this county has on offer.

-BELL TINKLES

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'Neighboured by four other counties,

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'Bedfordshire is the gateway to the Midlands and East Anglia,

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'and lies within easy reach of London.

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'Despite its proximity to major rail, road and runway links,

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'it boasts many areas of outstanding countryside

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'dotted with picturesque towns and villages.

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'The Chiltern Hills dominate the county's southern edge,

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'within which are the Dunstable Downs.

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'The chalk escarpment is the highest point in east England

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'looking out over woods, grassland and arable fields.

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'One of Bedfordshire's principal rivers is the Great Ouse,

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'idling past many historic market towns

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'that have flourished on its banks.

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'Crossing over on the arched bridge

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'is probably the best introduction to the county town of Bedford.

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'It was here in the 17th century

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'Christian preacher and writer John Bunyon began writing

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'his most celebrated work, The Pilgrim's Progress,

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'whilst incarcerated in Bedford jail.

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'There's an array of quieter corners such as the village of Sutton,

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'with its 13th-century packhorse bridge

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'and picture-postcard properties.

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'It's clear to see why Bedfordshire is an appealing slice of the country

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'in which to set up home.'

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With beautiful countryside like this, and good transport links into London,

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as you might expect, property prices in Bedfordshire are pretty pricey.

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The average for a detached house is £298,000,

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which is £40,000 above the national average.

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If you want to be on a direct train link, stations like Harlington,

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you're going to pay 10% above the odds.

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Further north and east, little villages up there,

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you're going to get a lot more bricks for your money.

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Those bricks are beautifully laid out in a wide variety of styles.

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Let's take a look.

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'Sandstone from Bedfordshire's Greensand Ridge

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'has been quarried for hundreds of years

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'and used to build many homes across the county.

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'There's a mix of other traditional building materials including thatch

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'and limestone from the northern Ouse Valley.

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'The unspoiled village of Pavenham has an abundance of stone cottages,

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'such as this two-bedroom terrace,

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'that comes with an asking price of £242,000.

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'In the same pleasant village,

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'this 18th-century three-bedroom limestone cottage

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'is ripe for the picking for offers in excess of £300,000.'

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A beautiful collection of architectural styles.

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Will any be suitable for our couple today? Let's meet them.

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'Carolyn runs her own events company and her husband, Carl,

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'is chief operating officer for a dental supplies company.

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'They tied the knot in Sri Lanka two years ago, after crossing paths in cyberspace.'

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We met on the internet. The face-to-face meeting was here.

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We met up again a few weeks later. Met up in India.

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Then been together ever since, really.

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'They're living in a four-bedroom chalet bungalow on a main road

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'in a busy suburban Middlesex town.'

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I've been living in this house in Northwood for nearly 27 years now.

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My daughter, who's going to be 15 this year, was born here.

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Over the years, we've extended it upstairs, downstairs, sideways.

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There's really nothing else we can add to it.

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'As well as Carl, Carolyn and her daughter, Tamsin,

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'the new property must potentially cater for Carolyn's mother as well.'

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My mum's on her own and although she likes where she is,

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all her friends are there, it would be nice to have somewhere

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that she could come and live with us, eventually,

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if she felt that was something she wanted to do.

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'All parties involved in the move have particular needs

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'when it comes to the location.'

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I have to be within a reasonable commute of Kings Langley.

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My daughter goes to school there and I don't really want to change her school.

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And my mother is in Pinner, so...

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And I need to get to St Albans area.

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We'd like to live somewhere close to a village,

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because it would be really nice to get involved in the local community.

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'So strong community ties are a must.

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'It seems Carl and Carolyn are willing to do what it takes to create their dream property.'

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We both like doing DIY type stuff.

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Carolyn's quite handy. She's got a full set of tools in the workshop.

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A bit of a project would be great.

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'There are, however, a few fundamental elements that can't be shaped with a toolkit.'

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It would be really nice to wake up and look out over woodland

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or fields or something like that.

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Enough rooms that we can have our separate offices.

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Not beamy. Not too low ceilings.

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No. Something with a bit of character, a bit quirky, even.

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I trained as a garden designer,

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so I'd LOVE to have a big space to get my hands on,

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divide up and make it look interesting.

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'With grand ambitions for the garden,

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'it's clear that Carolyn has a horticultural vision,

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'but Carl may need a little more convincing.'

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Carl's a bit more fussy than I am.

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-Clearing up after yourself would be useful.

-I do!

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BOTH LAUGH

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We'd like somewhere that's our house, that we've bought together,

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-we can decorate and refurbish and make our own.

-Together, make it ours.

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'Good transport links are essential for our buyers,

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'looking for a maximum commute of one hour to Hertfordshire

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'for work and also the school run.

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'Our search will take us to some wonderful rural villages

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'surrounding Bedford, which are well connected to the M1.

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'Time for us to meet up to finalise the details of their move.'

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Welcome to Bedfordshire.

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-Thank you.

-Thank you.

-What a beautiful day!

-Glorious!

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The sun shines on your property search!

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Bedfordshire's not an area that you've looked at.

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We've been looking the other side of the M1, so it'll be interesting.

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A ballpark figure of how many you've seen?

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-Probably around about 50.

-50 you've actually visited?

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CHUCKLING: A fair few!

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So, what's the spec? How many bedrooms?

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A minimum of four. Five would be perfect.

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-We need a kitchen-breakfast room.

-Large kitchen-breakfast room.

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-Couple of studies.

-Cos you work from home?

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-I work from home.

-Carolyn works from home.

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And I tend to bring work home,

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so I like my own space for work as well.

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-Right.

-He just likes to get away from me, actually(!)

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-Have his own peace and quiet.

-The secret of a good relationship.

-A good shed would do!

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In terms of doing work to the property - you've done a lot of work to the bungalow.

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We don't mind knocking a place about a bit, doing a fairly major renovation.

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-If we could live in it while we're doing it.

-And your budget? How much are we going up to?

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If it's a big project, around about 800.

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-We could push up to a million for something perfect.

-Something really fantastic.

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-It is expensive, being so close to London.

-Yeah.

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But we have three beautiful properties lined up. We're excited to show them to you.

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-Hoping you've not seen them online!

-Don't think we will.

-Let's go.

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'Carolyn and Carl have a starting budget of £800,000

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'to spend on a character home with project potential,

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'although they could go higher if a house was absolutely perfect.

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'They'd like...

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'..We'll be serving up three superb properties

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'all with different opportunities.

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'I won't be revealing the prices until the end of each tour.

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'Our special offer is the mystery house.

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'It's safe to say our buyers could get much more than they bargained for.

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'For our first stop, we're heading to the village of Harrold,

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'an hour's drive from Carolyn's daughter's school

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'and Carl's office in Hertfordshire.

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'Harrold typifies an idyllic English setting

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'and wraps itself around a pretty green,

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'complete with an octagonal butter market

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'and an old circular lock-up that was last used to detain drunks

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'and suspected criminals in the 19th century.

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'We're stopping off in this arresting village to look around.'

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This is one of the hidden jewels of Bedfordshire, Harrold.

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This beautiful village green. Have you been here before?

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-No, not at all.

-No. It's a beautiful village.

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-It's a charming village!

-It's like going back in time.

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-Is it what you were thinking, in terms of a home?

-Yes.

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If it's got a nice community, if there's a community hall or...

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-Yeah, there's a good hall. They do amateur dramatics.

-Great!

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I used to be a bit of a thesp, actually.

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It's got two pubs, supermarket, butcher's, in terms of amenities.

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-Everything you need on the doorstep.

-And, possibly, your new home.

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A-ha!

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'A short stroll away in the heart of the village is our first house,

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'which is an outstanding Grade II listed former manor house.'

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-Property number one!

-Oh, wow!

-Wow!

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It dates back to the Elizabethan period.

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It was a gift of Elizabeth I to a wealthy London grocer.

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-What are your first impressions, Carl?

-It's beautiful. Nice property.

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Very handsome. Exactly the sort of thing we're looking for. Full of character.

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It's a handsome property and you get this thrown in.

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-Wow!

-That comes with it?

-Yes.

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-Gosh.

-Your coach house.

-Another separate house.

-Indeed it is.

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-You can guess what I might suggest that's going to be.

-Yes.

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-Do you want to look inside?

-Yeah.

-Certainly.

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'A very positive first impression, and that's no surprise.

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'This three-storey Elizabethan home certainly delivers on the character our buyers were after.

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'And it boasts terrific period features throughout.'

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Step on in through the hallway,

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into the main sitting room.

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Wow! I like the window seat as well.

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Is this a property you can imagine living in?

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-Could you imagine sprawling out in this room?

-Yeah.

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This is a lovely cosy room.

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I can imagine a roaring fire in that amazing fireplace.

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Let's take a look in the dining room/kitchen.

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-Another very impressive room.

-Wow! This is incredible!

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-This screen separates the dining room from the kitchen.

-I like that.

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That's interesting, that feature doorway.

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The staircase, too, is all wibbly wobbly.

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Yeah. It's quite a lot of wibbly wobbly upstairs!

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Oh, dear. Carl won't like that.

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-Let's have a peek in the kitchen.

-OK.

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-Here we are. This is the kitchen.

-Compact.

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-A bit small.

-A bit disappointing.

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The proportions are historically compact,

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cos you can't move this wooden screen.

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It's got a range cooker. I'm not sure about a range cooker.

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I've never used one.

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I know everyone that has one swears by them but I wouldn't know where to start.

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-I'm sure you'd soon learn.

-YOU'd soon learn!

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I'd have to do all the cooking!

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That's downstairs. Let's have a peek upstairs.

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'It was all going so well, but it seems we've hit a stumbling block with the proportions of the kitchen.

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'There is a separate utility room

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'where you could hide away the white goods.

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'There's also a large conservatory offering additional dining space

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'that opens out onto a paved patio.

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'But I've a feeling Carl and Carolyn won't find the space lacking

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'when it comes to the bedrooms upstairs,

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'spread out over two floors.'

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-You've got four bedrooms and this is...

-Wow!

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-..as you can guess, the master.

-Very grand. Gosh.

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-That's a solid bed, isn't it?

-It is a solid bed. Lovely carvings.

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-Look at all the detail there.

-That's amazing, isn't it?

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You have two big, big bedrooms on this floor,

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one of which could be a study.

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In the attic, you've got two more good sized bedrooms.

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Not squishy small, but they do have very bowed floors.

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So if you like a flat floor...

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It makes you feel a little bit seasick, I find.

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-There is only one bathroom. There's not en suites in a building this old.

-No.

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You were lucky if you had a bathroom!

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-It's actually a lovely bathroom, a nice big bathroom.

-OK.

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-Plenty of space.

-Right.

-Let's pop outside and talk price.

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'They do seem won over by the huge master bedroom.

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'There's also some excellent proportions in the outbuilding.

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'The former coach house has been converted

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'into a self-contained annexe and has an upside down layout.

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'With kitchen and living areas on the first floor and a shower room

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'alongside two double bedrooms on the ground floor.

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'So the coach house could be used as offices

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'or for Carolyn's mother in the future.

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'It just remains to be seen if the private walled garden

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'will come up smelling of roses.'

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-What about the garden?

-Yeah, a little bit on the small side

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for what I would like, ideally, really.

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It's a very pretty garden and it frames the house nicely,

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but I'd be looking for something a little bit more substantial.

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-Well, it's a good first house...

-Yes. It's a beautiful house.

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Focusing our mind on what you're looking for.

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-What do you think a property like this is on the market for?

-I would say, about...860.

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I would hazard a guess around 925.

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925. OK, so this is on the market for...

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a shade under 800.

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-Ooh.

-Under 800?

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-Wow!

-Just a smidgen under £800,000.

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For a very substantial characterful property.

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-Yeah. That's surprising, actually.

-With a ready-made annexe for Mum.

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-So, food for thought.

-Definitely food for thought.

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Check out the annexe first, then explore around the rest.

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-I'll meet you on the drive and we can head to the next one.

-Perfect.

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'On the market for a shade under £800,000,

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'this fine 16th-century property

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'is a great house to get our search under way...'

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If it was open plan downstairs and two rooms upstairs,

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-I think it would work a bit better.

-Hm.

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When we came through the garden and first saw the house, I thought,

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"Wow! It's really beautiful, full of character."

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I was a little disappointed in the kitchen.

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It's got a beautiful big window, but not enough storage.

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This house has a lot of period features, most of them I like.

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But there's a few I don't like. This would be a nice house to visit.

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I'd soon get tired of ducking down every day of the week.

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It's a beautifully secluded garden, even though it is right in the middle of the village.

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I wonder if the next property should be further afield.

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-Which it is. Hello!

-Hi.

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-All done?

-Yes, thank you.

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So, closing the door on a very characterful property.

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-Let's move on to something new.

-OK.

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'With Carolyn's vision to create her own dream country garden,

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'a trip to Bedfordshire provides the ideal opportunity

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'to visit the village of Stevington,

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'where four and a half acres at the manor house have been transformed

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'into an atmospheric and artistic horticultural highlight.

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'Developed by the owner, Kathy Brown, over the past 25 years,

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'the gardens have been divided into 18 themed areas,

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'each with a distinctive character.

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'Open to the public, it's not only a dream for those with green fingers,

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'but a tonic for those who wish to peruse the glorious surroundings.

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'So, earlier in the week, we sent both our buyers to get inspiration.

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'Influenced by trips abroad,

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'there are formal box parterres in a French style,

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'a colourful empty fishpond that's strongly Mediterranean,

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'as well as the traditional English cottage garden.

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'There's also a few art-inspired beds,

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'in particular one themed on Claude Monet's Water Lily paintings.'

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We've come over to one of the art gardens that we have,

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-which was based on a painting I saw in the National Gallery.

-Wow.

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I looked at it and was drawn in and I thought, "I can plant this up."

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Instead of the golden water, the reflection of water, I saw grasses.

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You know how they go golden in the autumn and through the winter?

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So I planted up an ornamental grass garden

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with these dots of colour for the water lilies.

0:19:300:19:33

For me, it's hugely emotional. It's not about individual plants.

0:19:330:19:36

It's about the overall feeling.

0:19:360:19:38

'Not only are the grounds evocative and entertaining,

0:19:380:19:42

'but medicinal and culinary, too.'

0:19:420:19:45

We have an edible flower border here, which is unusual, isn't it?

0:19:450:19:49

But in the 17th and 16th century,

0:19:490:19:51

households were so used to using lavender and cowslips down here

0:19:510:19:57

and roses, in all sorts of different ways.

0:19:570:19:59

I make rose petal cakes out of the roses.

0:19:590:20:02

-This is a David Austin rose.

-Oh, that's beautiful!

0:20:020:20:06

It's full of scent.

0:20:060:20:08

Simply get the scissors and cut off the coloured parts

0:20:080:20:11

and mix it with unsalted butter and icing sugar

0:20:110:20:14

and put it in a Victoria sponge cake.

0:20:140:20:17

'It's important to note that only certain flowers are edible

0:20:170:20:20

'and it can be dangerous to eat flowers

0:20:200:20:23

'unless you're absolutely sure the variety is safe to consume.

0:20:230:20:26

'Always check with a reputable horticultural expert.

0:20:260:20:30

'Also, be aware that flowers treated with pesticides, fungicides

0:20:300:20:33

'or other chemicals are not safe to eat.'

0:20:330:20:36

-I don't know whether you'd like to eat something.

-Yeah.

-Do you like aniseed?

-I do.

0:20:360:20:41

We have sweet cicely.

0:20:410:20:43

-See if you like it.

-You eat the whole thing?

-Yes.

0:20:430:20:47

-I love to make roast peppers with these inside.

-Ooh, yeah!

0:20:470:20:51

The flowers are the same flavour.

0:20:510:20:53

You can put them on salads or omelettes.

0:20:530:20:56

People have forgotten how to use them.

0:20:560:20:59

'Fuelled with fresh ideas for her own garden,

0:20:590:21:01

'no doubt Carolyn's itching to get planting.

0:21:010:21:04

'I'm hoping we may have found her an ideal option.

0:21:040:21:08

'Time to step away from the cake and get to the second property.

0:21:080:21:12

'Our next stop is the village of Thurleigh,

0:21:160:21:18

'a 20-minute drive east of our first house,

0:21:180:21:21

'and just over our buyers' preferred one-hour commute time.

0:21:210:21:25

'Thurleigh has a close-knit community

0:21:250:21:27

'and an inviting part-thatched pub.

0:21:270:21:30

'On the edge of the village,

0:21:300:21:32

'with a very impressive approach down a long driveway,

0:21:320:21:35

'we arrive at our second property.'

0:21:350:21:38

-A different offering.

-Yeah.

-Yes.

0:21:380:21:40

Because you're on the edge, you've got a lot more space to play with.

0:21:400:21:44

-It sits on a three-acre plot.

-Wow! That should keep me busy!

0:21:440:21:48

-And this is the property. It's a barn conversion.

-Right.

0:21:480:21:52

-Any strong feelings about barn conversions?

-Like the space.

0:21:520:21:55

-Usually have a good amount of space.

-It was done in the mid '90s.

0:21:550:21:59

Then there's this annexe, which was an old smithy and an outbuilding,

0:21:590:22:03

which was made part of the parcel of land.

0:22:030:22:06

-Shall we have a look inside?

-Yeah, lovely.

0:22:060:22:08

'It's a thumbs up for this beautiful peaceful setting.

0:22:110:22:14

'Let's see if this barn conversion

0:22:140:22:16

'is a style suited to our buyers' tastes.'

0:22:160:22:20

Come on in.

0:22:210:22:23

-Straight into the hallway.

-Lovely.

0:22:230:22:26

I love the floor, these lovely flagstones are beautiful.

0:22:260:22:29

Yellow York stone throughout. What are your first impressions inside?

0:22:290:22:34

-Yeah, good.

-Big smiles from Carl!

0:22:340:22:37

-LAUGHS

-It's nice, bright and airy.

0:22:370:22:40

This is a very impressive space, you can really see the barn...

0:22:400:22:44

Oh, wow! Beautiful. I love the double height space.

0:22:440:22:49

-That's quite a chimney stack!

-Yeah, it certainly is!

0:22:490:22:53

This is how a barn conversion should be,

0:22:530:22:55

so you get the full height of the original structure.

0:22:550:22:59

-Look at the windows!

-They've done some imaginative things.

0:22:590:23:02

This herringbone wouldn't have been in the original,

0:23:020:23:06

but they've used the bricks in that way.

0:23:060:23:08

It's nice cos you can separate it off

0:23:080:23:11

and either have it as one big room or make this a separate dining room.

0:23:110:23:15

-In the winter, it would be nice and snug.

-It's a lovely room.

0:23:150:23:19

It's quite nice to have a slightly lower ceiling.

0:23:190:23:23

-Makes it a bit more intimate.

-Yeah.

-Let's go through downstairs.

0:23:230:23:29

# Ta-da! #

0:23:300:23:31

-Slightly...

-Oh, wow!

0:23:310:23:33

That's a bit more like it! That's what I call a kitchen!

0:23:330:23:37

-It's good, isn't it?

-Beautiful.

0:23:370:23:39

This is a lovely space to hang out.

0:23:390:23:41

-It's like an old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen.

-It is. Yeah.

0:23:410:23:45

-Very nice modern range.

-Yes. That's more my style.

0:23:450:23:49

-Also a log burner, so you can keep nice and warm in the winter.

-Wow.

0:23:490:23:53

-With your coffee...

-Yeah. That's really nice.

0:23:530:23:57

And a huge utility room, which links through seamlessly into the annexe.

0:23:570:24:01

-Oh, perfect.

-The annexe is all on one level.

0:24:010:24:04

So if your mum is going to move here, she can close the door or potter in here and join you.

0:24:040:24:09

-That's perfect.

-Excellent.

0:24:090:24:12

'The three rooms in the annexe sit in the far wing of the property,

0:24:120:24:16

'to one end of the kitchen-breakfast room.

0:24:160:24:19

'It includes a large kitchen-diner, cosy lounge with a log-burning stove

0:24:190:24:24

'and a double bedroom.

0:24:240:24:27

'In the middle of the property sits a family room,

0:24:270:24:30

'right next to the smallest of five bedrooms within the main house.

0:24:300:24:35

'As this bedroom is on the ground floor, it could be ideal

0:24:350:24:38

'as one of their two requested studies.

0:24:380:24:41

'But there's another large ground floor bedroom across the hallway

0:24:410:24:45

'which is already being used as an office.

0:24:450:24:48

'We'll leave Carl and Carolyn to battle out who gets the bigger.

0:24:480:24:51

'The remaining three bedrooms are all on the first floor,

0:24:510:24:55

'alongside the family bathroom.

0:24:550:24:58

'They include a double, set in the eaves,

0:24:580:25:01

'and another roomy double with exposed timbers.

0:25:010:25:05

'That leaves the room that could be theirs.'

0:25:050:25:08

This is the master bedroom.

0:25:080:25:10

-Oh.

-Oh, wow!

0:25:100:25:13

-That's the room with the...

-Oh, yes. The lounge with the glass.

0:25:130:25:16

That's the other side of the window. You've got an en suite here. So...?

0:25:160:25:20

It's fine!

0:25:210:25:23

It's not reduced height at all.

0:25:230:25:25

Not what I expected. They've done a really good job.

0:25:250:25:28

'It's safe to say that Carl is getting on board with the idea of this generous barn conversion.

0:25:280:25:34

'It's definitely got the upper hand when it comes to land.

0:25:340:25:37

'I hope three and a half acres is what Carolyn was looking for.'

0:25:370:25:42

I need to get pole position so I can show you everything in one fell sweep.

0:25:420:25:47

You've got the back of the house. This is a formal garden.

0:25:470:25:51

Lovely sun-kissed patio and this pergola that goes all the way round.

0:25:510:25:55

I could definitely do something with this. It's a wonderful space.

0:25:550:25:59

To have the hedging round it, it's totally secluded.

0:25:590:26:02

-I'm not a gardener and I see the potential.

-Yeah?

0:26:020:26:04

What do you think this parcel of property is worth?

0:26:040:26:08

Ooh! I would say, probably about...925.

0:26:080:26:12

It is, I think, worth more than the last house. I would say 950.

0:26:120:26:16

Well, actually, it's on the market for...

0:26:160:26:19

£740,000.

0:26:190:26:21

-740?

-LAUGHING: I don't believe that.

0:26:210:26:24

I don't believe that at all.

0:26:240:26:26

-That's... That's incredible.

-740?

0:26:260:26:29

-Have a look round and I'll meet you out the front.

-OK. Perfect.

0:26:290:26:32

Explore away.

0:26:320:26:34

'Well under budget at £740,000, our second property has, yet again,

0:26:340:26:40

'given our buyers something to think about...'

0:26:400:26:43

Another big room!

0:27:060:27:08

This is just the annexe. This is amazing.

0:27:080:27:11

This works well as an annexe.

0:27:110:27:13

I think this is much more practical for us than the last one.

0:27:130:27:17

The house looked really nice from the outside.

0:27:170:27:19

I had high expectations. It didn't disappoint when I came inside.

0:27:190:27:25

The garden is amazing. It needs quite a lot of work.

0:27:250:27:28

It's pretty much a blank canvas.

0:27:280:27:31

When you went into the living space and the ceiling opened up,

0:27:310:27:34

it was, "Wow!"

0:27:340:27:36

It's nice that they've kept the full height of the original structure.

0:27:360:27:40

It's a bargain compared to stuff we've been looking at.

0:27:400:27:43

We don't know if it's a bargain for the area. I guess we'll find out.

0:27:430:27:47

I wonder whether that extra £200,000 in their pocket is burning a hole.

0:27:470:27:53

-Hello.

-Hi.

-Hi.

0:27:530:27:54

-Did you have a good look round?

-Brilliant, yeah.

0:27:540:27:57

-Liked what you found?

-Yes. Very nice.

-Big smiles! I'm happy!

0:27:570:28:01

So, time to rest and regroup. Let's head off.

0:28:010:28:04

'As the sun sets on what's been an enlightening time in Bedfordshire,

0:28:160:28:20

'the first day of our house hunt draws to a close.

0:28:200:28:24

'With a starting budget of £800,000,

0:28:280:28:31

'Middlesex based couple Carl and Carolyn have set their sights

0:28:310:28:35

'on a Bedfordshire home with bags of room both inside and out.

0:28:350:28:39

'They've seen two fantastic properties,

0:28:390:28:41

'the second of which really seemed to hit the mark.

0:28:410:28:45

'But it's not a done deal yet.

0:28:450:28:47

'Coming right up, we're going back to basics with the mystery house.'

0:28:470:28:51

There is something nice about being in a house that is 400 years old.

0:28:510:28:54

'And I'll be minding my Ps and Qs with an alternative vintage blend.'

0:28:540:28:59

It's the second day of our property hunt in Bedfordshire.

0:28:590:29:02

The sun's hiding behind the clouds, but I'm very pleased with the impact

0:29:020:29:06

this county is having on Carolyn and Carl.

0:29:060:29:09

They were floored by the prices yesterday. That's very gratifying.

0:29:090:29:13

For the mystery house, we're combining the period charm of the first property

0:29:130:29:17

and the land of the second, and seeing how that flies.

0:29:170:29:20

Although Carl is going to have to mind his head.

0:29:200:29:24

Slightly less nice weather on our second day.

0:29:300:29:33

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:29:330:29:34

What do you think we're going to show you with the mystery house?

0:29:340:29:38

Probably something a bit more ultra-modern,

0:29:380:29:41

which has all the land we're looking for, all the space,

0:29:410:29:45

and the compromise will be on the period property.

0:29:450:29:49

'Well, Carl, you couldn't be more wrong.

0:29:490:29:52

'We're not going forward in time, we're going back, way back.

0:29:520:29:56

'The location of the mystery house

0:29:560:29:58

'is on the edge of an unspoiled riverside village called Felmersham.

0:29:580:30:02

'Essential amenities are just a couple of miles away

0:30:020:30:05

'in the village of Sharnbrook.

0:30:050:30:08

'They include a convenience store and a pub.

0:30:080:30:10

'The mystery property we're showing our buyers

0:30:100:30:12

'is a substantial thatched stone farmhouse

0:30:120:30:16

'which dates right back to the 17th century.'

0:30:160:30:19

So, I brought you in the back of this property.

0:30:190:30:22

-Very nice.

-VERY nice.

0:30:220:30:25

Nice.

0:30:250:30:26

-So you'll see that we have lots to talk about here.

-Yeah.

0:30:260:30:31

-A swimming pool. Tamsin will be pleased.

-Tamsin will be pleased.

0:30:310:30:35

And then, a 400-year-old...

0:30:350:30:38

-400-year-old?

-..stone-built.

0:30:380:30:41

I can see all the beams...

0:30:410:30:43

CARL LAUGHS ..going through Carl's head.

0:30:430:30:47

There are many reasons we brought you here.

0:30:470:30:49

One of the reasons is you talked about having a project,

0:30:490:30:52

-something where you could put your stamp on it, and this has it, but not here.

-OK.

0:30:520:30:57

'The real twist of this house comes around the corner.

0:30:570:31:01

'We're about to find out if our self-confessed DIYers

0:31:010:31:05

'can handle starting a project from scratch.'

0:31:050:31:08

-That IS a project!

-That is definitely a project.

0:31:080:31:11

It's a stone barn in the same pocket of land as the listed building.

0:31:110:31:16

So this is Grade II listed, but the great thing is that this has planning already.

0:31:160:31:22

-Right.

-Approved to be converted into,

0:31:220:31:26

actually, a separate property that you could sell or have as an annexe.

0:31:260:31:31

-This is a nice building.

-It's an inspiring building.

0:31:310:31:34

It really is great potential.

0:31:340:31:37

'This old rustic stone barn comes with planning permission

0:31:370:31:41

'for conversion into a two-bedroomed dwelling with separate access,

0:31:410:31:46

'which could really give our buyers something to get their teeth into.

0:31:460:31:49

'The farmhouse is also ripe for some development,

0:31:490:31:53

'so let's have a look inside.'

0:31:530:31:55

-Carl's not going to like that.

-CAROLYN CHUCKLES

0:31:550:31:58

-CARL CHUCKLES

-Not low ceilings, but low doors.

0:31:580:32:02

-Mm.

-Yeah.

-This would have been the heart of the home.

0:32:020:32:06

You've got this fantastically huge inglenook which you can sit in,

0:32:060:32:10

which is the definition of an inglenook.

0:32:100:32:13

-Slopey floors.

-Mm-hm.

-But quite high ceilings.

0:32:130:32:17

-This room itself, it's a nice cosy room.

-It's not a bad size.

0:32:170:32:22

-For a snug, it would be nice.

-Yeah. For a snug.

0:32:220:32:25

-But for a living room...

-For the main living room, no.

0:32:250:32:29

I'm shaking my head in a worried way because it is the main living room.

0:32:290:32:33

Is it? OK.

0:32:330:32:35

Let's go look through the rest. Another low door.

0:32:350:32:39

Here we have the kitchen.

0:32:410:32:44

-Hm.

-It's huge(!)

0:32:440:32:46

-LAUGHTER

-Being very diplomatic.

0:32:460:32:49

-It is...

-Compact.

-Also diplomatic.

0:32:490:32:52

-It's a small kitchen compared to the last one.

-Yeah.

-Much smaller.

0:32:520:32:56

-So the wind slightly went out of our sails when we got inside the old house.

-I think, yeah.

0:32:560:33:02

'Off the kitchen, there's a decent sized dining room

0:33:020:33:05

'and another reception room, currently laid out as a study.

0:33:050:33:10

'The rest of the accommodation is set out on a further two floors.

0:33:100:33:15

'On the top floor, the family bathroom serves a double bedroom

0:33:150:33:18

'with chunks of exposed timbers,

0:33:180:33:21

'as well as a single bedroom with a brick chimney breast.

0:33:210:33:25

'The middle floor has two large double rooms on offer,

0:33:250:33:28

'each with its own en suite,

0:33:280:33:30

'one of which we've earmarked for them.'

0:33:300:33:33

This is the master bedroom. It goes through there into a big en suite.

0:33:330:33:39

-Lots of storage. Wardrobes.

-Right.

-OK.

0:33:390:33:42

The bones of the building have a lot of history in it.

0:33:420:33:47

There is something nice about being in a house that is 400 years old.

0:33:470:33:51

If we could make it work, that would be great.

0:33:510:33:54

When you've got something this old,

0:33:540:33:56

you are limited to what you can change and alter

0:33:560:34:00

to make it work for modern living.

0:34:000:34:02

'Sadly, it seems that the mystery property

0:34:020:34:05

'is a step too far for our buyers.

0:34:050:34:08

'Which is a great shame, for it stands in over two acres of land,

0:34:080:34:12

'including a fenced paddock, an orchard with a variety of trees,

0:34:120:34:16

'and a beautifully manicured and landscaped garden.

0:34:160:34:20

'More than enough to keep Carolyn busy,

0:34:200:34:23

'but I think it will be to no avail.'

0:34:230:34:25

-It is a beautiful looking property.

-It is, yes.

0:34:250:34:28

-Ideal location, the grounds, the gardens, the orchard.

-Yeah.

0:34:280:34:33

The outbuildings, everything, is fantastic.

0:34:330:34:36

How much do you think this lovely property's worth?

0:34:360:34:39

-720.

-What about you, Carl?

-I've been thinking similar.

0:34:390:34:43

I've come up with a formula.

0:34:430:34:45

I'm going to think of a price, take off 200 and add 25.

0:34:450:34:49

So I'm going to go for 725 on this one.

0:34:490:34:52

Often the guess is a barometer of how much you like the property. This is on the market for 775.

0:34:520:34:57

-Oh.

-Right.

-That's because it's got planning permission, I suppose.

0:34:570:35:01

-And because it's period.

-Yeah.

0:35:010:35:04

-And a good bit of land with it, too.

-True.

0:35:040:35:07

-So have a wander round.

-Lovely. Thank you.

0:35:070:35:10

'With an asking price of £775,000,

0:35:120:35:16

'the mystery property is a three-storey farmhouse

0:35:160:35:19

'that has a history spanning some 400 years...'

0:35:190:35:23

Oh, wow! This is an interesting place. It's got great potential.

0:35:410:35:45

-Yes.

-Just a shame it's not nearer to the house.

0:35:450:35:49

-Cos you could then join it on.

-Yes. This would be a totally separate building to the main house.

0:35:490:35:55

We hadn't really considered a thatched cottage before

0:35:550:35:58

because we had a preconceived idea that the rooms would be small

0:35:580:36:02

and the ceilings would be low.

0:36:020:36:04

It's the cottagey thing that is what we're NOT looking for.

0:36:040:36:08

I think the mystery house has challenged us to think a bit more

0:36:080:36:14

about exactly what it is that we do want from a property.

0:36:140:36:17

Anything more than 200 years old is not really that suitable for us

0:36:170:36:22

and our type of modern living.

0:36:220:36:25

Beautiful walnut tree here, and very old.

0:36:250:36:28

This was the centre of the village, and at one point this was the pub.

0:36:280:36:32

That's a lot of history. Hello.

0:36:320:36:34

-Hi.

-All done?

-Yeah.

0:36:340:36:36

-Very beautiful walnut tree.

-It's lovely. It's really old.

-Very old.

0:36:360:36:40

Now, our time here is done.

0:36:400:36:42

-Time to get you somewhere warm and dry so you can have a think.

-OK.

0:36:420:36:48

'Covering less than 500 square miles,

0:36:590:37:01

'Bedfordshire is one of England's smaller counties,

0:37:010:37:04

'but it still has its fair share of exclusive palatial mansions.

0:37:040:37:08

'It was here at the grand stately home of Woburn Abbey

0:37:080:37:12

'that the custom of afternoon tea was created

0:37:120:37:15

'by the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria, in the mid-19th century.

0:37:150:37:20

'Earlier in the week, I went behind the scenes to meet tea party hostess

0:37:200:37:24

'and baker extraordinaire Joe Christie,

0:37:240:37:27

'who showed me how to prepare the perfect tea plate.

0:37:270:37:30

'Starting, of course, with cucumber sandwiches.'

0:37:300:37:33

Slightly thick. There needs to be a crunch to it.

0:37:330:37:36

So...

0:37:360:37:37

I'd say a little bit thinner.

0:37:370:37:39

-Yeah. I'd say there.

-When you say thick you mean thin!

0:37:390:37:43

-Why cucumber?

-They had cucumber sandwiches to show off

0:37:430:37:48

in the wealthier quarters.

0:37:480:37:50

It was a very rare ingredient. So, crusts off.

0:37:500:37:53

And then finger sandwiches.

0:37:530:37:56

So they can be eaten in two or three bites. They're delicate.

0:37:560:38:00

'As well as sandwiches, afternoon tea is typically composed of scones

0:38:000:38:05

'with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and the best bit, cake!'

0:38:050:38:10

-More over here!

-The giggle cake, which is not so well known.

0:38:100:38:14

It's a boiled fruitcake, best served warm with a good cup of tea.

0:38:140:38:18

-Oh, my God! That is fruit-tastic!

-It's nice and colourful inside.

0:38:180:38:22

-You can see cherries and pineapple and dried fruit.

-Wow!

0:38:220:38:27

'Afternoon tea was initially developed as a social event

0:38:270:38:30

'for ladies in genteel society.

0:38:300:38:32

'Traditionally, the upper classes would indulge around four o'clock,

0:38:320:38:36

'just before a fashionable promenade.

0:38:360:38:39

'The middle and working classes would have a more substantial high tea a couple of hours later.

0:38:390:38:44

'Beryl Peters is an expert on afternoon tea etiquette.

0:38:440:38:48

'She joined me in Woburn Abbey's Blue Drawing Room,

0:38:480:38:52

'where this quintessentially English ritual was born.'

0:38:520:38:55

Hello. I come bearing sandwiches, giggle cake and Victoria sponge.

0:38:550:39:00

I need you to guide me through the ceremony of tea.

0:39:000:39:04

Anna, the Duchess, used to have the finest toast,

0:39:040:39:09

as thin as poppy leaves,

0:39:090:39:12

just as little tasters to begin with.

0:39:120:39:15

Then the percolated tea would be brought to the table.

0:39:150:39:19

It was brewed away from the table

0:39:190:39:22

and it was left for three minutes to draw,

0:39:220:39:26

then decanted into a warm teapot.

0:39:260:39:29

In the early days, we would have a bowl instead of a cup.

0:39:290:39:34

It would be of bone china.

0:39:340:39:36

So the balance had to be taken at six o'clock on the thumb,

0:39:360:39:41

12 o'clock with the first two fingers.

0:39:410:39:44

-And then the little finger would be the balance...

-I shouldn't laugh.

0:39:440:39:48

It does sound extraordinarily complicated!

0:39:480:39:50

The milk was poured in first, so it was a coolant.

0:39:500:39:54

And it would be given a gentle stir

0:39:540:39:58

before drinking, from the front to the back, like this,

0:39:580:40:02

and not in the vulgar fashion!

0:40:020:40:04

It is an amazing thing, afternoon tea. Who knew?

0:40:040:40:07

'And so, within a generation, as tea became more affordable

0:40:070:40:12

'and women were freer to socialise outside the home,

0:40:120:40:15

'tea rooms became a popular sight on the nation's high streets,

0:40:150:40:19

'leading to afternoon tea becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon.'

0:40:190:40:24

I'm rather regretting not having snaffled a piece of giggle cake, but I have duties to perform.

0:40:260:40:31

Namely, to find out whether Carolyn and Carl like any of the three houses we've shown them.

0:40:310:40:37

Let's talk about the houses, one by one, in retrospect.

0:40:410:40:45

The first house was a very beautiful Elizabethan period manor house.

0:40:450:40:50

-What are your thoughts about that?

-It's a stunning house in a really pretty village.

0:40:500:40:54

The rooms had nice high ceilings, which we like,

0:40:540:40:57

but we just felt that it didn't have enough land.

0:40:570:41:00

We did want a bit more garden.

0:41:000:41:02

Also, in terms of the room space we wanted,

0:41:020:41:05

there weren't enough rooms for us to do what we wanted.

0:41:050:41:08

We did manage to give you that for the second property,

0:41:080:41:11

a very nice large plot - three and a half acres on the edge of a village.

0:41:110:41:16

Attached annexe. What else do you think about that property now?

0:41:160:41:20

That was a great property, that barn.

0:41:200:41:23

Loved the garden. Lots of potential to develop and do something with.

0:41:230:41:29

Room layout worked well. More than enough space.

0:41:290:41:32

The annexe, we could utilise as part of the living space

0:41:320:41:36

before having to use it as an annexe.

0:41:360:41:39

What about the price? You were both quite surprised when I said it.

0:41:390:41:43

I really couldn't believe that you got so much space for that money,

0:41:430:41:47

and all the garden as well.

0:41:470:41:49

You do get so much more for your money here in Bedfordshire.

0:41:490:41:53

The mystery house combines the two, really.

0:41:530:41:56

We had lots of land and also the period aspect.

0:41:560:41:59

What are your thoughts?

0:41:590:42:01

The mystery house looked a really nice, picturesque property.

0:42:010:42:05

Lots of land. Nice gardens.

0:42:050:42:08

A lot of potential with the barn conversion project.

0:42:080:42:12

But the main house itself,

0:42:120:42:14

whilst it was beautiful and quaint, just wasn't right for us.

0:42:140:42:18

The kitchen was a bit on the small side, and being Grade II listed,

0:42:180:42:22

it would be a long drawn-out process to get planning permission,

0:42:220:42:26

if you could even get planning permission to extend it and make it work.

0:42:260:42:31

-Not such a hit, the mystery house.

-No, unfortunately not.

0:42:310:42:34

Were any of them a hit? What happens next?

0:42:340:42:36

-Would you revisit any of them?

-I think the barn offers a lot of what we wanted.

0:42:360:42:42

We would like to explore the area a bit more.

0:42:420:42:45

Also, we need to check out the daily commute to and from work and to school.

0:42:450:42:51

-And we'll take it from there.

-I do hope that you find something.

0:42:510:42:55

We may not have found you the perfect property,

0:42:550:42:57

but maybe we've opened your eyes to Bedfordshire, which would be nice.

0:42:570:43:02

-I wish you all the best.

-Thank you very much.

0:43:020:43:04

What an enormously satisfying week here in Bedfordshire.

0:43:070:43:11

Satisfying for me with the cream tea and Victoria sponge,

0:43:110:43:15

but more importantly, satisfying for Carl and Carolyn.

0:43:150:43:19

We've opened their eyes to a whole new potential pool of homes.

0:43:190:43:22

If you've enjoyed exploring these rural retreats,

0:43:220:43:25

join us next time for more Escape To The Country.

0:43:250:43:29

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

0:43:290:43:32

Northern Ireland or England and need our help, please apply online at:

0:43:320:43:40

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:450:43:48

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:480:43:51

With a budget of £900,000, Alistair Appleton goes rural property shopping in Bedfordshire with a couple buying their first house together - but there is also a teenager and a menagerie of pets to factor in. While in the county, Alistair visits Woburn Abbey, where that great British mealtime tradition, the afternoon tea, was born.