North Wales Escape to the Country


North Wales

Jules Hudson heads to north Wales in a bid to help a recently retired couple find a rural retreat, and revisits a couple who found their perfect home three years ago.


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Transcript


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As a keen archaeologist, I never take much persuading

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to find myself in the ruins of a beautiful 13th-century castle.

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But this wasn't built so much to keep invaders out

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as to keep a population in.

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But why and where?

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Join me in just a few moments for what promises to be a very historic Escape to the Country

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in more ways than one!

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On today's show, I'm helping a couple find a peaceful new life in the countryside.

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Outside, our houses certainly deliver on setting.

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-I love the view.

-Yeah.

-And the fact that all you can hear is birdsong.

-Exactly.

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'And inside, the rooms prompt some excitement, too.'

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-That's a wowser moment.

-A wowser moment?

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It is, actually.

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Today, we're in North Wales,

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and these are the beautiful remains of Conwy Castle.

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It was one of five enormous castles built up here by Edward I

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at the end of the 13th century following his successful conquest of Wales.

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Edward's plan was simple.

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Tired of continual dissent and rebellion,

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he wanted to contain Wales, to create an iron ring.

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And these certainly did the job.

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As you can see, they are a striking reminder of medieval authority and power.

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This one alone took four years to build at a cost then of some £20,000.

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But if that seems cheap for a fortified coastal retreat, don't be fooled.

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In today's money it's over 10 million.

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No surprise, then, that Conwy, along with its sister castles at Beaumaris, Harlech and Caernarfon

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have been designated as a World Heritage site.

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As you can probably tell in this glorious part of the world,

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there's a lot more to it than just striking architecture.

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The landscape is stunning.

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North Wales stretches from the Cheshire border in the east

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to the west coast

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and includes the Isle of Anglesey.

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The region then extends southwards

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to the borders of Ceredigion and Powys.

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It's an area that offers impressive coastline

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ranging from the rugged and unspoilt to the seaside resorts that became popular during the Victorian era

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such as Llandudno, whose elegant period architecture

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still lines its shores.

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Head inland, and that atmosphere changes as the landscape gives way

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to soaring mountains and green valleys.

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Set here are charming villages such as Betws-y-Coed,

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renowned for the cascades at Swallow Falls.

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Betws-y-Coed itself sits within Snowdonia,

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the largest national park in Wales,

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which encompasses 100 lakes and some 90 mountain peaks,

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including Mount Snowdon, which, at over 3,500 feet,

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is the highest point in England and Wales.

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Although the park spans over 800 square miles,

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it's home to just under 26,000 people,

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making it one of the most sparsely populated areas in Britain.

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And it's this perceived remoteness

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that makes it appealing to visitors and home-buyers alike.

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Perhaps it is no great surprise to learn

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that when it comes to house prices,

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North Wales does offer particularly good value for money.

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To put that in context,

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when you consider that the price of an average detached property

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in England and Wales is currently around £255,000,

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well, here, you could comfortably knock about a third off that figure.

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But as with anywhere, there are, of course, variations.

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Step within the borders of the Snowdonia National Park, for example,

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and you could find a premium of 15 to 20%,

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particularly around hot spots such as Betws-y-Coed.

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And the same is also true for coastal towns such as Conwy and Llandudno.

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But for me, North Wales really is a win-win.

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It mixes affordability in a beautiful landscape

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with some stunning properties to match.

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North Wales' rural character

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is evident from the scattering of traditional cottages

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found in its villages and throughout its farming landscape.

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Until the Industrial Revolution,

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large swathes of this countryside remained cut off from commercial activity,

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hence the reliance of building with locally-sourced materials.

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Quarried stone is particularly prevalent in this northern region.

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A prime example being this five-bedroomed farmhouse in Denbighshire

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which cost £550,000.

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North Wales' slate-mining heritage has certainly made its indelible mark here.

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The huge piles of loose scree that have built up alongside its mountains

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are also a reminder of how it defined the local architecture

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during the Victorian era.

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This five-bedroomed detached house in Carow is priced at £335,000.

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As you can see, North Wales really does have it all.

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It's one of my favourite parts of the country in which to come house-hunting,

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which is just as well, because this is where today's buyers want to call home.

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Dave, who works in IT for Essex police,

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and Kate, a police trainer for Norfolk Constabulary,

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live with their two student daughters in a modern property in the town of Attleborough, Norfolk.

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As Dave is set to retire and their children are approaching independence,

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they feel this is the perfect time to start a new life

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somewhere much quieter.

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I want cosy character.

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You sit in the garden and you can just hear the A11 behind you.

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It's just a constant noise.

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Their plan is to leave their town in Norfolk

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and head to the opposite side of the country

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in search of tranquillity in North Wales.

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I like the area around Conwy particularly.

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Either at the edge of a village

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or a little distance out of the village.

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But we don't want it too isolated.

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Their children may be fully grown,

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but Dave and Kate still have other dependants.

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Six cats and two dogs.

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They need to be factored into the wish list for their next property.

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An absolute dream property would be a big enough kitchen.

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It has to have a utility room with all the animals we've got.

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I think a utility room is a must.

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But it's not just the animals that will need their own room when they move!

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What would be ideal for Dave

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is either another bedroom

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or an outbuilding that's big enough so he could have a train room.

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It doesn't have to be a workshop per se,

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just a space, really.

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So whilst Dave needs space for his steam train,

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Kate would like a larger garden in which to grow vegetables.

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But that's just one of her pastimes.

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I actually do quite a lot of cross-stitch.

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But I also like to get involved with the community in some way.

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So having given this move lots of thought,

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they now have a clear idea of how much money they have to spend.

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The maximum budget would be £330,000.

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Dave and Kate's preferred location

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is in the Conwy area

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with easy access to Snowdonia.

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However, they'd consider looking as far south as Betws-y-Coed.

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I'm catching up with them at the start of our house hunt

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to find our more about their plans for their new rural home.

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Well, chaps, here we are, literally in the middle of North Wales.

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Getting your house search underway.

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-How does it feel?

-Exciting.

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-Exciting.

-It's exciting. And it's beautiful.

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For many people coming here, the classic image is of a stone building,

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slate roof, all that sort of thing, nestled in the landscape.

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Give us an idea of what you are dreaming of.

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Ideal is character.

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A cottage but with high ceilings, because obviously...

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-Dave's a bit tall!

-Dave's a bit tall!

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-It's got to have an open fire or a log burner.

-Yep.

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That is an absolute must.

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Something with character, high ceilings.

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It's got to have three bedrooms. Has to have a bedroom for the girls.

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-Everybody wants a nice kitchen.

-Kitchen diner, yes, standard thing.

-Standard thing.

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-And you would ideally like a study.

-Or a workshop for the engine.

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-For your locomotive.

-Yes.

-Brilliant.

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How do you see this building sitting in the landscape?

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On the outskirts of a village.

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Further out, where you haven't got anybody around you for half a mile

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would be lovely.

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We've got three to show you, including of course, our mystery house.

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-Yes.

-The weather here in North Wales is notoriously changeable.

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It's all right at the moment but I suggest we don't delay.

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-Let's get on.

-OK. Thank you.

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With their £330,000 budget,

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Dave and Kate would like a Welsh cottage-style property

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that provides them with high ceilings

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and an open fire or log burner.

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A large kitchen with separate utility room for their pets.

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A minimum of three bedrooms for when their daughters visit,

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a space for Dave's train

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and finally, they'd like to be in the heart of the countryside.

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I'll be showing them three wonderful Welsh properties,

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but I won't give away the price until they've had a guess first.

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The last of these is, of course, our mystery house,

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which will challenge them to review at least one of their key priorities.

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We're getting our house hunt underway 28 miles from Conwy

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in the village of Saron.

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It offers them the peaceful location they're after

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with some spectacular scenery on their doorstep

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as it overlooks open countryside including the Clwydian hills.

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The property is situated on the outskirts of Saron

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and provides a pretty and secluded home dating back to the 1800s.

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So here we are, then. Property number one.

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We talked about the classic image of a stone-built cottage

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with a slate roof.

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-Yep!

-What do you think?

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It looks interesting. I love the view.

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-Yeah.

-And the fact that all you can hear is birdsong. It's beautiful.

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-You're soaking up the peace and quiet.

-Yes.

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-No A11 here!

-No A11. Just birdsong.

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

-OK.

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'The setting of this single-storey property

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'certainly seems to have scored highly.

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'Inside has been sympathetically refurbished

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'and retains many of its original features,

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'as our buyers will discover.'

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Now, how cosy is this?

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-That's got character.

-Yeah.

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-Yeah.

-Very nice.

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Yes.

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Is this the sort of thing you were kind of imagining?

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-I think so.

-As a cosy Welsh retreat?

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Yes. I think I knew more of what I didn't imagine

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than what I did imagine, if that makes sense.

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And this is lovely.

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-Brilliant.

-Lovely.

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Let's continue through here.

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You wanted a woodburner, Kate. There you are.

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-Gosh.

-Multi-fuel, actually.

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-Yes.

-That's lovely. Yes.

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-And again these lovely windows.

-Picture window.

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I love the window seat and I love the panelling they've put in.

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Something slightly Georgian about it, actually.

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-Yes, it is.

-But everything's geared up to make the best of that.

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Absolutely. You can imagine sitting there,

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just watching the seasons go by.

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Let's explore the rest of it. See if they like this.

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This corridor gives you access to everything else.

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All the accommodation. A little box room in there.

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Family bathroom there. Again, lovely oak doors.

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A really nice and quite generous guest double in here.

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And then this bit is yours.

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So in here, you get your own kind of wing, really,

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with a really generous en-suite.

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Whirlpool bath. All mod cons.

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-It's lovely.

-Perfect.

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And then a master bedroom which really does make the best of these views.

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-Yes, does it just.

-Isn't it light!

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-Mm.

-Lying in bed, waiting for my cup of tea!

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Just looking out over the...

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Is she going to have to wait long?

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-Doesn't normally!

-Doesn't normally?

-No.

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This addition, which is the most recent addition, obviously,

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this kind of wing to the property

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is what really makes it work, I think.

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I just can't stop looking that way.

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The views are pretty captivating.

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-Shall we go outside and indulge ourselves with them?

-That would be nice.

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Come on, then.

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'The generous grounds comprise two separate areas.

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'There's a landscaped garden to the front, featuring a pond,

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'but we're heading to the adjoining parcel of land to discuss their options.'

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It is lovely when a house is surrounded by such glorious views

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-that in a way you're completely distracted, aren't you?

-You are.

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You just can't take your eyes off of the view and watch what's going on.

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In terms of outside space,

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we saw the more manicured garden as we came in.

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This area we're standing on now would also be yours.

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The great thing about it, Dave, is that it's flat.

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It really lends itself to all sorts of things.

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-A poly-tunnel, perhaps, vegetable beds, raised beds...

-Chicken coop.

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-Chicken coop. And the engine shed.

-Indeed.

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So, let's have a think about the price

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and see if we've started well there.

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OK. I'm thinking this is all your idea, so I'm going to get you to go first.

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-You've got £330,000 to spend.

-Yes.

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-I think 299,950.

-Yes.

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-Dave?

-I was thinking 295.

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Cheat!

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I'm going to make this easy for both of you.

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-You are both saying just under 300,000, more or less.

-Yes.

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-This will set you back £330,000.

-Really?

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-Yeah.

-OK.

-Good. Right.

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-Now you know how much it's worth.

-OK.

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Go and explore to your heart's content.

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-Right.

-Take your time. Make the best of our time that is still available.

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-OK.

-I'll catch up with you a bit later.

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Right on budget at 330,000,

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this traditional renovated cottage

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provides Dave and Kate with many of the elements they've asked for.

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When I first saw this house, I thought it was well-presented,

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nice aspect to it, and in a superb location.

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If I'm honest, one or two of the rooms are a bit smaller than we'd hoped for.

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I'd hoped for a utility,

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but you can't have everything!

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The first impression of the house was positive.

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The bedrooms are the one thing that concern me.

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I want to make sure that the girls have got somewhere they can come,

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a bolt-hole should they ever need it, that there's room for them.

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I think that was a really encouraging start.

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Yes, definitely.

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Lovely property, lovely views.

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I'm concerned we've set the bar too high!

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It's going to be challenging.

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In a bid to give them as much space as we can for their budget,

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our second house takes us further away from Conwy,

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deep into the countryside.

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The nearest village is Cerrigydrudion

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where there's a church, a local shop and a pub.

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But four miles away, set in rural seclusion,

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is this converted barn and coach house.

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OK. Here we are, then.

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Our final offering of day one,

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property number two.

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What do you think?

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-It looks interesting.

-Very interesting.

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I think it's really interesting.

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It's pretty, it's in a lovely setting,

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but just looking at it, I'm kind of excited about it.

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I got the feeling, reading between the lines on the last one,

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that it did feel a bit of a holiday home.

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The whole idea of a family home is still really important even though they're off flying the nest.

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-It's still important to have that space.

-This does that.

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-Because it's also got four bedrooms.

-Wow.

-Oh, wow.

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-Yes. Happy, Dave?

-Yes.

-Can we go in?

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Cos your wife says she's really excited.

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-In that case, I must be happy!

-You must be excited! Come on, then.

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'The solid rustic bones and period feel here

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'are very different to those in our first house

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'as they'll see immediately on the inside.'

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Let's start with this one.

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Ooh.

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What do you think?

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-It's a dining room.

-It is. It's a kind of dining hall, really.

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-Yes.

-We don't normally loiter in hallways much on this show,

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but this is worth considering.

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Definitely. There's a downstairs cloakroom off of it over there.

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-Right.

-Again, sort of sets the scene.

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-Yeah.

-But space we are not short of.

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Lots of space. But this doesn't have to be the dining room.

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-OK.

-There are other options.

-Right.

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But have a look at this. This is really nice. You'll like this, Kate.

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Well, I think you will.

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You wanted a fireplace, a woodburner,

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stone, beams, cosy.

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High beams. It's lovely.

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There's also a conservatory through there.

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-Wow.

-Milking all those views, which we'll have a closer look at later.

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A comfortable family house.

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It's very promising. Good.

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It's not as light and bright and airy as the previous property.

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But it's different.

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And it's got that character.

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-Excellent.

-You're doing very well.

-Hoorah!

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Let's see if we continue doing well. Follow me down here.

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Across from the dining/entrance hall,

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is this second reception room.

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-This is good.

-Could be a snug.

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-This is useful.

-Family room.

-Yes.

0:18:100:18:12

-Dining room.

-Somewhere to put the kids out the way.

-Snug.

0:18:120:18:15

Snug? It's right next to the kitchen.

0:18:150:18:17

One of the things I really love about this house

0:18:180:18:21

is its geography.

0:18:210:18:23

We've got this low level, which, of course, is the kitchen.

0:18:230:18:26

It's lovely.

0:18:260:18:27

I think you would spend a lot of your time here quite happily.

0:18:270:18:32

-I think so.

-You could even incorporate a sofa,

0:18:320:18:34

do all sorts of other things with this as a kitchen diner.

0:18:340:18:37

But you've got so much space up there.

0:18:370:18:39

-The other reception room, the main living room.

-Sofa's there.

0:18:390:18:42

-There already, is it?

-Sofa's there.

0:18:420:18:44

That's always been my dream to have a kitchen big enough to have a sofa in it.

0:18:440:18:48

We teased you outside with the four bedrooms that are on offer.

0:18:480:18:52

There's a lot to see. Come and have a look.

0:18:520:18:54

'Upstairs, two of the four bedrooms are good-sized doubles,

0:18:590:19:02

'both light with sloping ceilings

0:19:020:19:04

'and could be perfect for when their daughters come to stay.

0:19:040:19:07

There's one other bedroom located at the bottom of a flight of stairs

0:19:070:19:10

which could serve as Dave's den.

0:19:100:19:13

But we're heading to the opposite end of the landing

0:19:130:19:15

to the main event.

0:19:150:19:17

At the other end of the house, up here, is your bit.

0:19:190:19:22

-Wow!

-Yeah?

-It's huge!

0:19:250:19:28

-It is, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:19:280:19:30

-Gosh.

-Dave!

0:19:300:19:32

-It's big!

-He's a bit taken aback!

-I think he is.

0:19:320:19:36

No, it's lovely.

0:19:360:19:38

-My word.

-It is big.

0:19:380:19:39

-Bags of storage.

-And the balcony.

0:19:390:19:41

-You can see the balcony out there.

-You've spotted it.

-I have.

0:19:410:19:44

Not much gets past me!

0:19:440:19:46

-It's the policewoman in you!

-Is it?

-Yeah.

0:19:460:19:49

It's also got this, which is nice.

0:19:490:19:51

An en-suite shower room.

0:19:510:19:53

-OK.

-Yes.

0:19:530:19:55

-Sorted.

-So how much is it going to cost you?

0:19:550:19:57

Oh. Don't go there!

0:19:570:19:59

-I know you're going to go there.

-I am,

0:19:590:20:02

but first we'll all go into the garden and then talk about money.

0:20:020:20:04

Come on.

0:20:040:20:06

'The property sits in a substantial plot

0:20:070:20:10

'and has the most fantastic outlook.'

0:20:100:20:12

So, there's the view.

0:20:130:20:16

-Yeah.

-Not bad, is it?

-It's spectacular.

0:20:160:20:19

As views go, North Wales never really disappoints.

0:20:190:20:22

The plot is mirrored by the garden you can see in front of us.

0:20:220:20:26

The same sort of thing the other side.

0:20:260:20:28

So all in all, I guess it's half an acre or so.

0:20:280:20:32

-Big enough.

-It's plenty big enough.

0:20:320:20:35

But you've got everything you want. Veggie patch, plenty of room for chickens.

0:20:350:20:39

So we like this one.

0:20:390:20:41

-Yeah.

-Now, then.

0:20:410:20:43

Price, Dave.

0:20:430:20:45

I was thinking 340.

0:20:450:20:48

340. Interesting, yep.

0:20:480:20:50

OK.

0:20:500:20:52

I was going to go five more than you and say 345.

0:20:520:20:55

-Yep. You're both wrong, I'm afraid.

-Of course we are!

0:20:550:20:58

Of course we are.

0:20:580:21:00

This will cost you...

0:21:000:21:02

£335,000.

0:21:020:21:05

-We'd be happy with 335.

-You should be. I think it's worth it.

0:21:050:21:08

-Yeah.

-I think so.

0:21:080:21:09

We've got a bit of time left. Make the best of it.

0:21:090:21:11

-I'll come and find you later.

-Thank you.

-Off you go.

-Cheers.

0:21:110:21:14

A touch over their budget at £335,000,

0:21:140:21:19

this conversion would give them an extremely generous family home.

0:21:190:21:23

..including a huge master.

0:21:300:21:32

The garden amounts to half an acre

0:21:320:21:35

and has the countryside views they were looking for.

0:21:350:21:38

First impressions when I got here - good size.

0:21:380:21:41

Pretty, a lot of character.

0:21:410:21:45

A reasonable amount of land. I was quite impressed.

0:21:450:21:49

The space that is available is perfect. It really is.

0:21:490:21:54

The kitchen is superb.

0:21:540:21:55

The size of the kitchen. I never thought I'd have a kitchen big enough for my sofa.

0:21:550:22:01

Here you are, at long last.

0:22:010:22:03

-Have you seen enough?

-Yes.

-For the moment.

0:22:030:22:07

For the moment. There's obviously some thoughts going on

0:22:070:22:10

-which is a good sign.

-Yes.

0:22:100:22:12

I think this marks a very good end to a very busy day.

0:22:120:22:15

So as it's sort of getting dark,

0:22:150:22:18

let's go and find a pint and a bite to eat, shall we?

0:22:180:22:22

-OK.

-Good plan!

-Come on, then.

0:22:220:22:24

So as dusk falls, it marks the end of an extremely positive first day of house-hunting.

0:22:330:22:38

Welcome to our final day of property hunting.

0:22:430:22:47

When you consider that Dave and Kate are moving from Norfolk,

0:22:470:22:49

which, arguably, is one of the driest parts of the UK,

0:22:490:22:52

and they want to come to Wales, which, as you see, is one of the wettest,

0:22:520:22:56

it begs the question as to why.

0:22:560:22:58

But to come to Wales and moan about the weather is to miss the point.

0:22:580:23:02

It's the rain and the rivers that it fills

0:23:020:23:04

that have scoured this landscape over thousands of years,

0:23:040:23:07

that make it the dramatic backdrop that it now is.

0:23:070:23:10

Yesterday, we had two, I thought, very thought-provoking properties,

0:23:100:23:14

both quite similar with gorgeous views.

0:23:140:23:16

So for our mystery house, as ever, we're going to try something different.

0:23:160:23:20

And with that in mind, our final property

0:23:250:23:27

is in the village of Llanrhaeadr.

0:23:270:23:29

Our mystery house is just down the road.

0:23:300:23:32

-We've shown you two very rural properties so far.

-Yes.

0:23:320:23:36

So on this occasion we're going to try something a bit different.

0:23:360:23:39

-We're going to go for a heart of village location.

-OK.

0:23:390:23:44

And this particular village, Llanrhaeadr,

0:23:440:23:46

has a really vibrant community and it's a very old village.

0:23:460:23:50

Hopefully, this will give you something else to put into the mix.

0:23:500:23:54

-Right.

-Interesting.

0:23:540:23:56

'Set in the Vale of Clwyd,

0:23:560:23:59

'the village's well-preserved 16th-century church

0:23:590:24:01

'is a source of great local pride.

0:24:010:24:03

'It's where we're meeting Enid Brown,

0:24:030:24:05

the president of the village's Women's Institute.

0:24:050:24:08

Is it quite an active village?

0:24:080:24:10

Yes, it is a very active village.

0:24:100:24:13

We do have, we are fortunate,

0:24:130:24:15

that we have a shop and a post office.

0:24:150:24:18

And we have a garage and a restaurant.

0:24:180:24:22

-Wow.

-We have a school and a pottery

0:24:220:24:26

and the church.

0:24:260:24:28

That's an extraordinary list, actually.

0:24:280:24:30

-So with my pidgin Welsh, I'm going to say...

-(SPEAKS WELSH)

0:24:300:24:34

-Croeso.

-Croeso.

0:24:340:24:36

I said, "Thank you very much." Enid said, "Welcome".

0:24:360:24:39

And welcome you will be, I am sure.

0:24:390:24:41

Thank you very much indeed. Let's go house-hunting. Come on.

0:24:410:24:45

Time to reveal our mystery house.

0:24:490:24:50

A stone property built in the 1870s

0:24:500:24:53

which offers Dave and Kate plenty of space and character.

0:24:530:24:56

However, they do have neighbours

0:24:560:24:59

and it is right in the heart of the village.

0:24:590:25:01

Here we are, as promised, a stone's throw from the church,

0:25:020:25:06

our mystery house. There you go.

0:25:060:25:08

Impressive-looking, isn't it?

0:25:080:25:09

-Very symmetrical.

-Very symmetrical. Classic late Victorian.

0:25:090:25:13

-Mm.

-It's thought it was built with leftovers from the school.

-Right.

0:25:130:25:17

I think it's well worth you considering this.

0:25:170:25:19

-It does round off the options we've been able to offer you.

-Yes.

0:25:190:25:22

-OK.

-Yes.

-Good. Come on, let's have a look.

0:25:220:25:25

Thank you.

0:25:250:25:27

'Thankfully, the village setting doesn't have our buyers heading for the hills.

0:25:270:25:31

'I think they'll be really drawn to what it offers inside.'

0:25:310:25:34

Let's start in here, in the kitchen.

0:25:340:25:37

Come on in, guys.

0:25:370:25:39

What do you think?

0:25:390:25:40

That's a wowser moment!

0:25:400:25:43

Yeah? A wowser moment?

0:25:430:25:45

-It is, actually.

-Good!

0:25:450:25:48

-Is that a stable door?

-This is a stable door

0:25:480:25:51

that goes out to a generous utility room.

0:25:510:25:53

Dogs, boots, muddy shoes.

0:25:530:25:56

Husband!

0:25:560:25:58

-Don't be like that!

-Poor old Dave! I'm on your side, mate!

0:25:580:26:02

I've got something for you upstairs, so you can get your own back.

0:26:020:26:05

-Poor old Dave.

-We're liking it, aren't we?

-We are, actually.

-Good.

0:26:050:26:08

Follow me. Let's continue our tour through here.

0:26:080:26:11

'With warm reactions to the kitchen,

0:26:110:26:13

'let's make our way to the front of the property

0:26:130:26:16

'and explore the main reception areas.'

0:26:160:26:19

How about this for somewhere to relax in?

0:26:190:26:22

Yes. They've got the open fire. It's not a huge room.

0:26:240:26:28

But there's enough room. You've got your woodburner.

0:26:280:26:32

Also got an open fire next door in a really lovely room.

0:26:320:26:35

-So the whole thing sort of flows around.

-Looks good.

0:26:350:26:39

-OK. Let's continue upstairs. Come this way.

-OK.

0:26:390:26:42

'The character feel of our mystery house seems to be holding their interest.

0:26:450:26:48

'It's laid out over three levels

0:26:480:26:50

'with three bedrooms up on the first floor.

0:26:500:26:53

'One is currently used as a sitting room

0:26:530:26:54

'and leads onto a decked terrace.

0:26:540:26:56

'The other two doubles here have huge bay windows

0:26:560:27:00

'which make these rooms wonderfully light.

0:27:000:27:02

'There's also a large family bathroom

0:27:020:27:04

'and a separate WC.

0:27:040:27:06

'But we're heading up to the top floor

0:27:060:27:08

'to what could be the master.'

0:27:080:27:10

As you can see, there's a range of options on the middle floor.

0:27:120:27:16

But this is currently the master on the top floor.

0:27:160:27:20

-It's quite baffling, because there are so many different options...

-There are.

0:27:200:27:25

..that you could use them for.

0:27:250:27:27

-Take your pick.

-Decisions.

0:27:270:27:29

It concerns me that what you've given here, the choices you've given us here

0:27:290:27:33

are we can't afford it.

0:27:330:27:35

I know that's coming later, but it's concerning me.

0:27:350:27:39

-So long as you're liking it. That's the main thing.

-We like it.

0:27:390:27:41

-I think you need a kind of model room.

-I need a man room, don't I?

0:27:410:27:45

A man room. Somewhere for a little model railway, perhaps.

0:27:450:27:48

-Yep.

-Work room.

-Yep.

0:27:480:27:51

It's up here. Next door.

0:27:510:27:52

Could be next to your bedroom. How about that? Come and look at this.

0:27:520:27:56

Now, you can see what I was thinking about.

0:28:020:28:05

Come on in.

0:28:050:28:07

-Isn't this just a proper kind of attic?

-Yes. Very much so.

0:28:070:28:11

-I love it.

-Yes.

-I can just see you in here.

0:28:110:28:14

Let's finish off outside

0:28:140:28:16

and talk about the money.

0:28:160:28:17

-Nothing to worry about. It's only money! It's only money!

-He says!

0:28:170:28:22

'Dave seems delighted with his den.

0:28:250:28:27

'But Kate's got misgivings that the mystery house will be beyond their reach.

0:28:270:28:31

'So time to pause for breath in the gardens.'

0:28:310:28:34

The garden, as you see, is slightly terraced, cos we're on a hill.

0:28:340:28:38

-It also includes quite a big area of woodland behind us.

-Right.

-Yes.

0:28:380:28:43

And you also have access to that walled garden.

0:28:430:28:46

-You can see the walls there.

-Yes.

0:28:460:28:48

It's open to you to use.

0:28:480:28:51

Vegetable plots, et cetera, should you want to.

0:28:510:28:54

All part of the deeds. You know what's coming now.

0:28:540:28:56

-I do.

-You've been agonising over this, haven't you?

-Yes.

0:28:560:28:59

Worrying about the price, the money?

0:28:590:29:01

I've been getting more and more depressed as we walked round.

0:29:010:29:04

-OK. That means you like it.

-I like it and I don't think we can afford it.

0:29:040:29:07

Let's have a go. See if you can afford it.

0:29:070:29:10

Make me an offer.

0:29:100:29:12

-It's got to be about 365.

-365, yeah.

0:29:120:29:16

I was thinking 360-ish.

0:29:160:29:18

360-ish. Well, it'll cost you £339,000.

0:29:180:29:24

-Well...

-Which I think puts it within range of your budget of £330,000.

0:29:260:29:33

Yes. It's nice. It's lovely.

0:29:330:29:35

-Off you go.

-Thank you.

-Go on.

0:29:350:29:37

Indulge. Take your time.

0:29:370:29:39

I'm absolutely delighted. Once again,

0:29:400:29:42

our mystery house would seem to have done it.

0:29:420:29:45

We almost had a sale right here, right now.

0:29:450:29:47

There's still a lot to consider,

0:29:470:29:49

but it's a gorgeous house in a gorgeous village

0:29:490:29:51

with a vibrant community to match.

0:29:510:29:54

Although our mystery house nudges over their budget at £339,000,

0:29:550:30:00

they could see where a lower offer would get them.

0:30:000:30:03

Although it challenges them to reconsider whether to opt for living in a village,

0:30:030:30:07

the property itself does meet their demands.

0:30:070:30:10

My initial thoughts when we walked up the street to be shown that this was the mystery house

0:30:290:30:34

that it was right in the middle of the village.

0:30:340:30:37

And did we want right in the middle of the village with cars going past?

0:30:370:30:42

My feeling to the house changed immediately I walked through the front door.

0:30:420:30:48

They've kept all the original features.

0:30:480:30:51

And that all lends itself towards the character.

0:30:510:30:54

It's an unusual place.

0:30:540:30:56

It's full of options, full of character.

0:30:560:30:59

I like it. I would fit in this house and this house would fit around me.

0:30:590:31:02

-That was quite revealing, wasn't it?

-Wasn't it just?

0:31:020:31:05

-A bit of a surprise?

-Very much so.

0:31:050:31:07

-That's what the mystery house is all about.

-Yes.

0:31:070:31:10

I think, all in all, we have given you some interesting, viable options this week.

0:31:100:31:15

-You have.

-I think so.

-Lots to think about.

0:31:150:31:18

Let's go and settle you down somewhere where you can mull it all over.

0:31:180:31:21

-I'll catch up with you later on.

-OK.

-Thank you.

0:31:210:31:24

Over the years, we're often asked what happens to the buyers who appear on Escape to the Country.

0:31:350:31:40

Three years ago, I was in just this part of North Wales

0:31:400:31:44

giving another couple a sense of what a new life in the country might look like.

0:31:440:31:48

We uncovered a dream property

0:31:480:31:50

that went on to become their new rural home.

0:31:500:31:53

I'm delighted to say they've invited me back to show me how they're getting on.

0:31:530:31:57

Hope they're in!

0:31:580:31:59

That would be typical, wouldn't it?

0:31:590:32:01

-Hello!

-Hiya! How are you doing?

0:32:030:32:06

-I'm very well, mate. Good to see you. Hello, Carol!

-Hiya!

-How are you?

0:32:060:32:10

-Good to see you. Look at you both!

-You haven't changed much!

0:32:110:32:16

-How are you two?

-Great.

-Fine, yes.

-Absolutely fantastic.

0:32:160:32:18

-You look very well.

-Coffee's made. Are you coming in?

-Come on, then, Carol!

0:32:180:32:22

You did promise me a coffee many years ago!

0:32:220:32:25

'When I first met Bernard and Carol Hudson,

0:32:260:32:29

'they wanted to move from Leyland in Lancashire to North Wales.

0:32:290:32:33

'Originally, they thought they were looking for a traditional Welsh cottage.

0:32:330:32:37

'But when I showed them this modern refurbishment of a property built in 1900,

0:32:370:32:41

'everything changed.'

0:32:410:32:43

What do you think of that?

0:32:430:32:45

-Good.

-Yes. I like it as well.

-Good.

0:32:450:32:48

That's the main thing. Good start.

0:32:480:32:51

'And it was the kitchen that really sold it to them.'

0:32:510:32:54

OK, Carol.

0:32:540:32:56

In you come.

0:32:560:32:58

-This is definitely what I had in mind. Definitely.

-OK.

0:32:590:33:03

I do remember your reaction in this kitchen, particularly.

0:33:060:33:10

I liked the house soon as I walked in.

0:33:100:33:12

But as soon as I saw the kitchen, I was thinking,

0:33:120:33:15

"I've got to have this house."

0:33:150:33:17

How have you found the local community and your neighbours?

0:33:170:33:21

Very good, yes. We have a good bartering system going on,

0:33:210:33:25

where we give them vegetables

0:33:250:33:27

and we get cakes. That's why we've got these Welsh cakes and bara brith.

0:33:270:33:31

-I was going to ask if you made them, but you've swapped them for vegetables?

-Yes.

0:33:310:33:35

What about all the pickles and the rest? Is that you?

0:33:350:33:38

I made them, yes. I can't bear waste,

0:33:380:33:40

so everything we grow, I try and make something with.

0:33:400:33:43

'Most of that fruit and veg has been grown in their garden.

0:33:430:33:47

'Bernard was especially keen to have land

0:33:470:33:50

'in order to become somewhat self-sufficient.

0:33:500:33:52

'He wanted a vegetable plot, pigs and chickens.'

0:33:520:33:55

-You're a little bit choked.

-I am.

0:33:550:33:57

Is this going to be your new dream home?

0:34:000:34:02

-I think it is.

-Oh, mate!

0:34:020:34:04

Oh, brilliant.

0:34:040:34:06

'And after three years' hard work,

0:34:060:34:08

'that's exactly what they've got.'

0:34:080:34:10

Wow.

0:34:100:34:12

What a difference a few years makes!

0:34:120:34:14

-Some transformation, isn't it?

-Isn't it just.

-Yep.

0:34:140:34:17

Do you know what? I had my doubts.

0:34:170:34:21

It wasn't the most promising bit of land, to be fair,

0:34:210:34:24

but look what you've done with it.

0:34:240:34:26

When I started, I had my doubts, too.

0:34:260:34:28

But happily, a local farmer ploughed it for us initially

0:34:300:34:33

and that was a huge help.

0:34:330:34:35

The pigs look gorgeous. You've got the hens here, as well.

0:34:350:34:37

A little hen house.

0:34:370:34:39

Well, this gate is a bit famous, isn't it?

0:34:390:34:42

-The blubbering gate!

-The blubbering gate!

0:34:420:34:44

But it was here that the penny finally dropped, wasn't it?

0:34:440:34:47

-Yes.

-Yep.

-Definitely.

0:34:470:34:49

-Are you going to cry again, Bernard?

-No.

0:34:490:34:51

Once is enough!

0:34:520:34:54

'This has clearly been a genuine labour of love for Bernard and Carol,

0:34:570:35:01

'to turn the paddock into exactly what they wanted.'

0:35:010:35:04

It's really inspiring, actually.

0:35:050:35:07

-Thank you very much.

-I might have a little blub myself!

0:35:070:35:10

We've never been happier, have we?

0:35:120:35:14

-One of the best decisions we've made.

-Brilliant.

-Yes.

0:35:140:35:16

Well, when it comes to house calls, take it from me.

0:35:220:35:25

They don't get much more rewarding than that one.

0:35:250:35:28

The chance to see Bernard and Carol clearly enjoying life to the full

0:35:280:35:31

and making the very best of their time here in Wales,

0:35:310:35:34

well, I, for one, am absolutely delighted.

0:35:340:35:37

That's one set of happy customers.

0:35:370:35:39

The question is, have we got some more?

0:35:390:35:42

Time to catch up with Dave and Kate.

0:35:420:35:44

Well, chaps. Here we are. At the end of our little house tour.

0:35:490:35:53

Three very interesting properties which we're all agreed upon.

0:35:530:35:57

Let's remind ourselves of them.

0:35:570:36:00

We started with that really interesting white long house

0:36:000:36:04

overlooking the Clwydian range.

0:36:040:36:06

-All done.

-I particularly liked the master bedroom within that property.

0:36:060:36:12

You could lie in bed and just have that stunning view in front of you

0:36:120:36:18

with patio doors opening out onto the outside.

0:36:180:36:21

-That was absolutely stunning.

-Very good indeed. Yeah.

0:36:210:36:25

But the box room, third bedroom, box room, office, whatever,

0:36:250:36:29

that wasn't quite enough room in that house.

0:36:290:36:31

Bearing all that in mind, we then took you to property two.

0:36:310:36:34

But we had the benefit of another floor.

0:36:340:36:37

-Yes.

-With that one, and four bedrooms to play with.

0:36:370:36:40

From a logical point of view, using your head,

0:36:400:36:44

you had everything you're looking for and it was also a bit quirky.

0:36:440:36:47

Yes. The kitchen was lovely.

0:36:470:36:50

It really was. I liked the stepping down into the kitchen.

0:36:500:36:53

Upstairs, four brilliant sized bedrooms.

0:36:530:36:57

But it didn't touch my heart.

0:36:570:36:59

It's the imponderable, isn't it? It's very difficult to put your finger on

0:36:590:37:02

-this magical thing that happens when a property feels right.

-Yes.

0:37:020:37:05

Then we finally took you to our mystery house in the lovely village of Llanrhaeadr.

0:37:050:37:11

A very different proposition, very different style of building.

0:37:110:37:15

What happened to your heart there?

0:37:150:37:17

Yes, you see this has done the opposite.

0:37:170:37:19

My head says, "You shouldn't like it."

0:37:190:37:22

It's in a village, hasn't got that stunning view.

0:37:220:37:27

-Yep.

-It's on a road.

-It's on a road.

0:37:270:37:31

This is wrong.

0:37:310:37:33

-My heart fell in love the moment we walked through the door.

-Yeah.

0:37:330:37:37

Oh, the kitchen. The dining room with the open fire...

0:37:370:37:41

-And, come on, Dave.

-It's got a man room!

-You've got a man room at the top, yes!

0:37:410:37:46

-The railway room.

-Perfect, yes.

0:37:460:37:48

It would be a perfect office, computer room,

0:37:480:37:50

railway room, model room, you name it. It's a man room.

0:37:500:37:54

So I might just hazard a guess

0:37:540:37:57

that the mystery house is your favoured property of the lot.

0:37:570:38:02

-Definitely.

-Well, no.

0:38:020:38:03

It is, actually, yes.

0:38:030:38:06

-Yes, it is.

-So what happens next?

0:38:070:38:09

-First thing, get the girls to come and have a look.

-Yes.

0:38:090:38:13

It's still going to be a family home. We want it to be a family home.

0:38:130:38:16

It's important to us that they like it.

0:38:160:38:18

-So, yes. First thing.

-Yep.

0:38:180:38:21

What can I say? Best of luck.

0:38:210:38:23

-Thank you.

-Fingers crossed. Let's hope you do it.

0:38:230:38:25

-Thanks for your help.

-Thank you.

-Pleasure.

-Thank you.

0:38:250:38:28

At the beginning of this episode,

0:38:320:38:34

I promised you an historic Escape to the Country

0:38:340:38:36

and so it has turned out.

0:38:360:38:38

We started amidst the beautiful surroundings of Conwy Castle.

0:38:380:38:41

We then had three wonderful period properties to look at,

0:38:410:38:44

and I had the chance to catch up with lovely Bernard and Carol.

0:38:440:38:48

Now, with any luck, Dave and Kate are going to follow in their footsteps.

0:38:480:38:52

A life in Wales. Take it from one who knows - you can't knock it.

0:38:520:38:57

See you next time.

0:38:570:38:59

Dave and Kate are still interested in pursuing the mystery house

0:38:590:39:02

when they find a buyer for their current property.

0:39:020:39:05

Let's hope all goes well and they settle in the Welsh countryside soon.

0:39:050:39:09

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:39:100:39:12

in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England,

0:39:120:39:14

and would like our help, please apply online:

0:39:140:39:17

Jules Hudson heads to north Wales in a bid to help a recently retired couple with £400,000 find a rural retreat. While in the region, Jules revisits a couple who found their perfect property three years ago, which has enabled them to lead the self-sufficient lifestyle they dreamt of.