Property series. Alistair Appleton is in Devon helping a couple of journalists to find a characterful country home with holiday-let potential.
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This farm is the fictional setting for a classic children's novel about a horse and its owner,
which went on to be adapted with huge success for the stage and the big screen.
And if you are chomping at the bit to find out where it is,
then wait just a little longer.
Today's house-hunters are hoping to say farewell to arduous commuting,
to live and work under one roof in the countryside.
We get off to a flying start.
Tempted to say I'll get my chequebook out right now.
And our properties come with enticing business plans.
If I came here on a holiday I would be chuffed to pieces.
Today I'm in Devon and this is Parsonage Farm,
which local author Michael Morpurgo used as the inspiration for the
beginning of his novel, War Horse, the story of a farm boy, Albert,
who's befriended by a horse called Joey,
and then they're both sent to the trenches in World War I.
The novel really put the suffering of working animals in warfare on the
map and it also put this farm on the map,
although this is not the only cultural highlight you can canter to
in this wonderful county. Set on England's south-west peninsula,
Devon is bordered by Cornwall as well as Somerset and Dorset.
North Devon, where we are focusing our search today,
is home to its own Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Covering over 65 square miles,
the region is framed by a rugged Atlantic coastline,
a dramatic highlight being Hartland Point.
These imposing jagged rocks rear up above sea level, but catch them on a
clear day and there are far-reaching views out towards the Isle of Lundy,
a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
A mile inland, in the village of Stoke, is St Nectan's Church,
often referred to as the Cathedral of North Devon.
With most of the surviving remains dating back some 600 years,
it was a coastal landmark for sailors
before a lighthouse was built.
Heading deeper into the county,
Roadford Lake is the largest watersports reservoir in the south-west.
On its shores sit a contemporary six-metre stainless steel sundial
which was Devon's gift to the Queen to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.
With close access to the expanse of Dartmoor National Park,
where granite hilltops meet undulating heathland,
North Devon really does offer a desirable combination
of coast and countryside.
Buying property in Devon ain't particularly cheap.
The average price for a detached house here is £310,000,
which is about £27,000 above the national figure.
And if you've ever driven to Devon, you'll know that the one and only
motorway, the M5, that goes through the county,
stops about halfway through in Exeter,
which means that those good connections in the east drive up prices and
things are a little bit more affordable in the west of the county.
If you go inland, however, towards Dartmoor - to places like Okehampton
or Tavistock, prices tumble even further.
But our buyers are looking to be in the north of the county, so let's
meet them and find out what drew them to that place.
Medical correspondent Chris and communications director Mary, from Brighton
met through work as health journalists.
However, romance only blossomed after Chris spent a year sweet-talking
Mary into writing for him.
They have now been married for eight years.
Chris is a great guy. I wouldn't have married him otherwise.
He's not a great breakfast man.
He tends to come alive at night.
Mary's a natural optimist. She likes animals.
We have two dogs.
Two cats. Two snakes...
..and a gecko at the last count.
Mary has loved being based in Brighton since she was a student.
However, she's had enough of her five-hour commute to and from London.
Both feel it's time to change gear.
It's a great, interesting, wacky, fun place to live.
But it's loud, it's noisy,
it's busy, and we just want to have some peace and quiet
to be able to do other things.
Another motivation for their move is that the eco-house they commissioned
two years ago doesn't provide them with enough space to branch out in the future.
It's not as rural as we'd like. We don't have land.
There's no room to grow vegetables.
There is no room for animals.
What we'd be looking for is somewhere with the opportunity to provide us with
an income, be it holiday lets, be it a converted barn,
something like that or something that we could even build to,
you know, create that.
And besides running a holiday-let business,
our couple have developed a personal connection to the dramatic
windswept shores of the West Country.
In North Devon, we just love that wild Atlantic coast.
It's just so beautiful.
The cliffs and the pristine beaches.
The most fantastically rugged, jagged cliffs and amazing seas,
and then you have the moors.
Although it's kind of bleak, it's also very beautiful.
But although Mary is more than ready to get out of town and head to the countryside,
Chris admits that he's only recently come round to the idea.
She's always wanted to live in the country.
I think, secretly, she's a frustrated farmer's wife.
I'm a bit anxious about living in the country,
with tractors and birds and grass and stuff,
but we want a different kind of life, so this is an adventure for us.
There's so, so much that we'd like to do.
Would love to learn how to dive in cold water.
Fishing. Growing things.
Walking the dogs. We'd like to get more active.
Although Chris and Mary have been together for 15 years,
they're looking forward to finally buying a home that's purely for the two of them,
where the focus isn't their three offspring.
We should mention the children.
They're gone, or they're going, and we'll be free and clear of children!
It will be so nice that Mary and I can be a couple and not a kind of
Is that fair?
So the chance that we could be together 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, I think would be a fantastic treat.
Although their sights are firmly set on North Devon,
Mary and Chris are flexible about where in that area they live.
I'm meeting up with them to find out exactly what's on the wish list for
their dream country home.
-Welcome to Devon, you two.
-The north is a bit more remote.
Is that what you're looking for?
Well, we came up one weekend
and we were just so blown away by the landscape.
-And we just fell in love with it.
-We hadn't seen that part of the country before.
And we thought, well, if we are ever going to retire, this might be the place.
And what exactly are you looking for in terms of the spec of the house?
We just wanted something with a bit more character that, you know,
makes your spirits rise when you come home.
So character, with beams and sort of olde worlde?
-I'm afraid all the cliches, yes.
We will want perhaps a former farmhouse, inglenook fires, land,
you can look out and see hills and trees.
In terms of size, how many bedrooms?
We were thinking about three, four.
OK, so to have, you've got kids...
We've got kids and relatives and also space to
-spread out ourselves.
-You want a traditional kitchen.
I'd love a big kitchen. We're both really keen cooks.
The idea that the kitchen is the heart of the home, we'd like that.
And outside, because you want to diversify into a business,
-is that right?
-We would love to have some holiday lets in the grounds.
Something small, something modest, that we can really,
you know, make something of.
It'll be an adventure. It will be a source of income.
We just want to give it a go.
So would you do any conversion work?
Would you change things around?
Yes, up to a point, as the saying has it.
I mean, if everything's perfect and up and running
and ready to go immediately, we would pay more for it.
I don't mind a bit of physical labour as long as I don't have to
build the walls and put the slates on the roof.
So what's the very top end of your budget?
I think, with all the work done, the very top would be about 700,000.
Great! Well, we've got lovely properties lined up.
All you have to do is love them, fall in love with them,
and buy them and then we will be very happy.
-We're really excited.
-We're looking forward to doing our bit.
Well, you don't have to look forward. You can do it now. Come with me.
With a sizeable £700,000 budget to spend,
our couple would like a character property with four bedrooms.
They'd both like a large kitchen to indulge their love of cooking,
and a house that provides them with the potential to run holiday lets.
We've lined up some top-notch Devon properties to show them both,
but they won't be informed of the price tag
until after each house tour is over.
Our final offering is our Mystery House,
where character overload will challenge our couple to rethink
their business plans.
We're kick-starting our property search inland and westwards, in the
tiny hamlet of Virginstow.
The nearest amenities are three miles away in the small village of Ashwater.
Set back from the attractive village green is the 13th-century
church of St Peter. The village was renowned for its cattle fairs in the early 1800s.
And today the centre retains a strong sense of community
and is home to a local store and pub.
On a clear day, in the distance,
both Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor are visible over the surrounding countryside.
Back in Virginstow,
and located just on the outskirts, is our first property.
-It's so pretty!
This is a fantastic property. I'm very excited to show this to you. It dates back to the 1800s.
You've got the kind of old farm buildings which have been beautifully,
beautifully renovated and then you've got a new wing here,
the West Wing, yes,
which has been added, including this beautiful sunroom.
I think we'll have it! It's stunning.
-Looks good already. I can't wait to get inside.
-I'm almost lost for words.
-I don't think that happens very often!
It's fantastic to see delighted reactions so early on.
Hopefully that positive energy will continue when we see inside.
Converted during the 1980s and extended in 2011,
the property was refurbished in the style of a French farmhouse,
especially in the heart of the home.
-And a range.
-A range cooker.
And a very kind of French-style freestanding kitchen.
I can really imagine us, can't you, cooking?
It makes you want to get your knives and pots and pans.
-Already, doesn't it?
And then out into the sunroom there. That's got underfloor heating, actually.
All of this side of the house has underfloor heating.
-I love the beams and the flagstones.
-I think it's amazing.
-The space continues through here. There's a huge dining room.
Oh, my! Oh, my word!
-Huge, high ceilings.
-Oh, my goodness.
-A great log burner with a great stone lintel.
Moving out of the barn,
we're making our way into what previously would have been a cottage
but is now used as a snug or winter sitting-room.
Beautiful. I love the windows.
And the configuration.
It's just really, really interesting. There's a great feel about it.
-Chris, what are your feelings?
-I think it's amazing.
Tempted to say I'll get my chequebook out right now.
We haven't even seen the half of it.
-No, we haven't. It's true.
-Most attractive building.
Full of character.
-Could you imagine the two of you living here?
I can see us certainly sitting in here in the winter.
First impressions don't really get much better than this,
but there's still plenty more to explore.
The sleeping quarters amount to five bedrooms and are scattered across
all levels of the property. On the first floor above the snug,
there's a cosy double and a single, which share a bathroom.
At the opposite end of the house and within the new extension,
there's a well-presented double as well as a good-sized twin.
As both make use of a modern shower room,
this self-contained sleeping accommodation could provide our
buyers with a B&B guest suite.
But we're making our way to the master, which is in the central barn,
up on a mezzanine level above the kitchen.
-This is different.
-It is, very different.
As you can see, it has a rather splendid freestanding egg bath.
-And lovely views down over the...
-I think this would work very well.
I just love the way they've done it.
They've used the space so ingeniously.
And yet, you know, retained this sort of sophistication with quite rough woodwork.
-I think it's fabulous.
Outside the property there are three traditional barns which,
subject to approval,
have huge potential to be run as prospective holiday lets.
Wrapping around the property, the grounds total almost 2.5 acres.
Mostly laid to lawn, interspersed with mature borders,
the garden features a variety of fruit trees and a vegetable patch.
There's also a separate paddock and an open-fronted shelter which would
be ideal for homing our house-hunters' proposed new animals.
Backing on to open farmland,
there is the further possibility of purchasing an additional five acres.
With the faultless feedback so far,
I wonder if what's on offer out here might just seal the deal.
It's absolutely stunning.
I'm actually lost for words, like you.
What do you think it's on the market for?
I think it's way beyond our budget.
It just has to be. I'm going to go for 750.
-It hasn't got the barns done
and that would cost us money.
I think I'd go in at 700.
OK, in this instance you're both wrong.
This property is on the market for £645,000.
Ooh, good gracious me!
Gosh, that's a surprise.
-Made my day.
Where do we sign?!
-I don't know what else you've got to show us,
but it's going to have to work hard to top this.
I would like you to wander around,
soak it all up and I'll meet you probably under the magnolia.
-See you a bit later, then.
-See you shortly. Thanks.
A healthy £55,000 under their top budget,
this character property would leave our buyers with money
in their pockets to plough into their future business plans.
With five bedrooms, two more than they needed,
there's more than enough space to accommodate their visiting children.
With 2.5 acres of land and outbuildings
ripe for conversion into holiday lets,
it's situated in a delightful rural location.
I thought this house was absolutely amazing.
It actually blew me away.
I could definitely see ourselves living here.
-Ooh! This is sweet. I do like this.
-Look at the window seat.
We could have this as our bedroom.
-I thought it was a wonderful place.
Beautifully done. I loved the gardens. I loved the little orchard.
-Oh, wow, look at this.
-Always wanted an orchard.
-Ready-made chicken run.
And they do have chickens.
That's amazing. Oh, I love it.
There's a huge possibility for income generation here.
I think maybe one downside is that the barns aren't up and running already.
In terms of Mary's reaction to this place,
I think she's fallen in love.
I think it was love at first sight.
I think, left to her, she would buy this place immediately.
-I get the feeling you like it. Is that true?
-We love it.
-I love it.
-Don't get too carried away,
-because we've got another one lined up for you straightaway.
With two stunning coastlines,
it's no surprise that Devon attracts over 4.5 million visitors each year.
The north is characterised by expansive beaches and steep cliffs,
whereas the south is indented with coves and estuaries.
But for sculptor Heather Jansch,
there is a greater attraction to visiting Devon's shoreline.
Using driftwood collected from the beach, she's well-known for creating
impressive and often life-sized sculptures.
We've sent Chris and Mary to Dawlish beach to lend a hand with some
beachcombing and gain an insight into why wood washed up by the sea
is such an inspiring art material.
Why do you collect driftwood? It seems rather an unusual hobby.
Well, it's something I started doing about 30 years ago.
At that point, I lived on the west coast of Wales,
where a lot was thrown up by the tide.
I started to make sculpture with it.
The curvilinear shapes of it and the way it fits together allow for there
to be plenty of spaces.
And it's those spaces in between the wood that enliven the sculpture.
The ideal time of year to beachcomb for driftwood is during the winter months
when high tides and rough waters ferry debris floating out at sea
to the shoreline.
The thing is to just enjoy the hunt, really.
And the joy of beachcombing is that you don't know what you're going to find.
It's legal to pick up items from the beach,
with the exception of large stones, which form natural sea defences.
Often the most interesting pieces are those that have been exposed to
the water and elements over a long period of time
and are therefore worn and distressed in appearance.
-Oh, this is beautiful, look.
-Oh, that's gorgeous.
Lovely. Can I swap?
You win the prize! I think that's too big.
-You think that's too big?
-You take back what do you think you'd like.
All right, I'll take that one.
Shall we head back now, then?
-If you've got a good haul.
-Sounds like a plan.
Heather originally painted portraits of horses before she expanded her
craft to make life-size creations of these animals from driftwood.
28 of her beautiful works live in her garden at home.
Your foals that you've done, they just have this spring to them.
What I look for in a sculpture of this nature is something that
provides us with a sense of imminent movement.
You are guided by the material.
You have to just let it take its form.
And so that's why they can take up to five years.
Driftwood only has a shelf life of six to seven years,
after which time it weakens due to the wood contracting and expanding.
Heather casts her sculptures in bronze so that they endure for longer.
Now that our couple have been given a taste of what you can achieve with driftwood,
it's time for them to attempt their own masterpiece and
create a three-dimensional relief
from the items they sourced from the beach.
-That's a horse's head.
-You can just lay it out.
And then reposition it until you're happy with it.
-It looks awfully like a dinosaur, I'm afraid.
Chris frames the piece with rope whilst Mary uses netting to shape the
horse's body. However, Heather still feels the need to step in.
By switching the rope for small stones,
the silhouette has more definition.
-Do you think this needs to come...?
-It's not great, is it?
-Are you saying I don't know what a horse's front leg looks like?
-Oh, no, dear!
As well as using her discoveries from the beach,
Heather often receives donations of unwanted household items such as
old nutcrackers from members of the public,
which add a strong look to her art.
-I tell you, I want to try something. Can I try something?
I just want to try this.
-Look at that.
You definitely have got a horse there.
-We've had a lovely day. Thank you so much.
-Lovely to see you.
After being inspired by the creative qualities of the local Devon landscape,
it's time to return to our mission of finding Chris and Mary a
country home that captivates them.
Our property search continues over the border into north Cornwall,
in the rural village of Week St Mary.
Constructed in 1643 on a site previously occupied by a Norman castle,
the church of St Mary benefits from its elevated position looking out
over rolling farmland.
The village is made up of a number of pretty stone cottages,
a pub and a post office.
Just outside of the village and located in a glorious, tranquil setting,
is house number two.
This is our second offering. Very different.
And we've brought you here because this property offers you an
up-and-running holiday let.
-What an amazing location.
-It's quite remote.
I'm very OK with it being remote.
-What about you, Chris?
-I'll have to give that some thought.
-We are very much in the country here.
Dating back to 1660, this former farmhouse, built of local stone,
has a rendered exterior.
The location seems to have impressed Mary,
but perhaps Chris needs a little more time to get his head round the
remoteness of the house.
Let's see if the interior can work its magic.
Come into the kitchen.
Oh, I say.
That's all you could ask for for a range, isn't it?
-You could roast an ox in there if you wanted.
-You could, couldn't you?
-Which of course we do all the time!
So what's your vibe when you come into this one?
It's not as visually exciting.
It obviously is an older house.
I think we would want to spend a little money modernising it, perhaps.
Well, we like something that we can put our mark on.
You know, it's obviously been lived in and loved.
And I think that comes across.
Next stop is the sitting room.
That view is to absolutely to die for, isn't it?
I'm very taken with the fireplace.
And through there is a very nice little sunroom.
A conservatory that they added as well, which takes you out into the garden.
-Chris, is the remoteness growing on you?
-The views are lovely.
I'm beginning to think it might be a tad TOO remote.
But I would love to see the rest of the house.
Also on the ground floor, there is a separate dining room.
A bright, spruce shower room and a large study.
The sleeping accommodation is split over two floors and comprises
seven bedrooms in total. On the first floor, there is an extremely generous double
and two smaller doubles, one of which has an en-suite.
There's also a spacious four-piece family bathroom,
and a compact space used as a snug, which leads through to a cosy twin.
On the second floor, there are a further two twin bedrooms,
a WC and an additional space in the eaves which could be a double.
Outside, and with its very own entrance, is the detached holiday let.
Rented out for around six months of the year,
the current owners' annual income is around £12,000.
This property has clearly captured Mary's imagination.
However, fireplaces aside,
Chris still doesn't seem to be warming up to what's on offer.
Perhaps the business potential of this property
might just win him over.
You've actually got a huge kitchen.
Big kitchen. So this is really why it brings in so much money.
You've got three double bedrooms and space for a big family.
Good. If I came here on a holiday, I would be chuffed to pieces.
-I think it's gorgeous.
What do you think, Chris?
I've lived in worse HOUSES,
let alone a holiday let.
I do think it's extremely well done.
Let's go outside and talk about the land.
Outside, the land extends to around two acres,
which includes an outbuilding used for storage, as well as a
disused barn which, with the right planning consent,
could be converted into another holiday let.
The lawned gardens backing on to open countryside, provide the most
Not as much land with this property,
but what's nice is that you have this private garden and then your
holiday let-ers have their own garden too.
We like the fact that the holiday let is so independent and so separate.
I think it's nice for holiday-makers too.
You can also see that, just beyond the holiday-let garden,
there's another paddock that goes to that sort of link fence there.
-That's yours as well.
So you could use that either as a campsite or
you could have it as more garden or to keep some kind of animal creatures.
Livestock! That's good, isn't it?
Something to think about, definitely.
What do you think this is on the market for?
I think 650.
I would go for about 625.
Interesting, because this property is on at £695,000.
-Oh, we got it wrong, then.
-So it's right at the top of your budget.
-And that's largely to do with the fact that that's an
So, stroll around and I'll see you out front.
Just £5,000 shy of their very top budget,
this former farmhouse with seven bedrooms and fully operational holiday let,
offers our couple the business income they wanted.
With two acres of land and set within a very private location,
it benefits from the most magnificent views.
I love the fact that there is something very traditional about this house,
and I would love to be able to really make it ours.
I think it would definitely need tender loving care,
but it's got an enormous amount of potential.
This is a good size, isn't it?
It's almost got a Georgian feel, somehow.
-Yeah. I love the fireplace, look.
-It's got the holiday let up and running.
We could let it out tomorrow, which is very attractive.
-Oh, this is nice.
They've even got their own little self-contained garden.
This is nice, isn't it?
That's all your houses seen for the day.
-Well, we've really enjoyed it.
-And a lot to think about.
Good. Let's find you somewhere where you can think about it in peace.
It's very interesting after our first day of property shopping here in North Devon,
because it seems like Mary is more business-minded than Chris.
Even though they both loved that first house in a very kind of passionate,
"Oh, we could really live here," sort of way, Mary was, like,
much more cold-headed and rational about the fact that the second house
would bring them more money.
So the Mystery House is going to be interesting because, in many ways,
the Mystery House doesn't give them so much business potential, but, oh,
it's going to tug on their heartstrings.
And maybe it might make them think about finding a house that's just good
for THEM, not for their bank balance.
For our final offering, we're heading back into Devon to
the rural hamlet of Thrushelton.
A mile away is the nearby village of Lewdown,
which is home to a store with a post office as well as a pub.
The local landscape is one of softly rolling hills and on the outskirts
is the architectural highlight of Lewtrenchard Manor.
Originally mentioned in the Domesday Book,
this impressive Jacobean mansion is currently a family-run hotel.
Back in Thrushelton and hidden away down its own private driveway is our
rather special mystery option.
Up until now, the focus for our couple has been on the future
business potential for their property.
However, with this move comes the opportunity for them to purchase
their first house together, so I wanted to show them something
which might appeal much more to
their hearts than their heads.
It's so pretty!
It's picture-perfect, isn't it?
-It could be on a tin of Devon clotted cream almost.
It's a classic Devon thatched cottage.
A really delightful find in many ways because, historically,
this is about the 1600s.
-It's really gorgeous. What can I say?
-Let's have a look inside.
A derelict shell until the 1970s,
this 17th-century chocolate-box thatch has been completely refurbished
and extended. Retaining much of its original stone and cob structure,
the interior has been completed to a stylish high-spec throughout
and still retains some of its original timbers.
This is a great country kitchen.
Beautiful slate floor.
It's amazing. What do you think?
It's got beams.
It's got big old oak beams.
-Everything you ever wanted in a country kitchen in one room!
-Dreamy, isn't it?
-Is it plucking on your heartstrings?
I'm having some slight stirrings, I must admit.
Stoke it up. Let's see if the rest of the house can stoke it into
-a coal fire.
-Show us it, then.
Leading off the kitchen is a modest conservatory,
a large utility room and a generous study.
There's also a dining area with an inglenook fireplace.
Next on our list, however, is the living room.
-Isn't it lovely?
-This probably would have been a later addition in the history of the house.
You can see it's got these much more manicured beams.
It's definitely surprising in terms of the amount of space that there
-appears to be.
-I wonder if you've just noticed, Mary,
-what's in the corner.
-It's a piano. It's a piano!
-We were wondering where to put the piano.
And that's the dilemma solved.
You really have confused us, you know.
-Good, I'm glad.
-It is throwing a spanner in the works, isn't it?
-It has a bit.
-A big spanner. Mm-hm.
So, flummoxed but positive.
It's onwards and upstairs to explore the four bedrooms.
There are two well-decorated doubles with exposed beams,
which is also a feature in the single.
Not only is there a light, bright family bathroom,
but a separate shower room as well.
We're making our way to explore the master which has its own dressing area.
Blimey, this is fantastic, isn't it?
Very unusual in these sort of thatched cottages to have really high ceilings
like this. They've taken all the loft space out.
-I like the way they've exposed the beams.
-It's quite deceptive, isn't it,
because outside you imagine it to be very small and compact and actually it's big and airy.
-Let's go into the garden, because it's really magical.
Well, for the moment at least,
our mystery cottage has put all thoughts of holiday lets out of their minds.
Outside, the large garden amounts to three quarters of an acre and is made up of
lawned areas framed by mature plants.
There's also a separate orchard and vegetable patch along with a workshop.
The size of this plot allows them to keep animals or set up a couple of
shepherd's huts, which could generate up to £600 a week each.
The shepherd's hut, like, a really self-contained one,
that has cooking facilities in it, it's about £20,000.
Something we hadn't really thought of.
But you've really opened our eyes.
My head and my heart are warring now.
I think if we were to live here on our own and didn't need a business,
I think I would buy this on the spot.
But you've given us a lot to think about again.
-The one thing I haven't given you is the price.
So what do you think the price of this little slice of Devonian heaven is?
Because it's so, so pretty and perfect,
I'm going to say it's 700,000.
I think it's probably worth more than Mary suggested.
I'm going for 725.
Well, in this instance, you're both wrong.
And you're wrong in the wrong direction.
Because this is actually on the market for - hold your horses -
-You are joking.
-I am not joking.
-You're making that up.
-I'm not making that up. That is the truth.
Well, that's an amazing price.
That is, I think you've made our day again.
-Now you've given us a difficult dilemma.
But I must say it's a wonderful one to have to wrestle with.
Exactly. I'd like you to wrestle in the grounds.
Wrestle wherever you like and I'll see you out the front.
That's great. Thank you.
Aww. It's great when the Mystery House does that,
when it does exactly what it's meant to do,
it puts a cat amongst the pigeons and makes people think differently
about what this move could mean to them.
A staggering £160,000 under budget, our mystery thatch,
brimming with character features and four bedrooms, has completely
surprised our couple.
Located within a hamlet,
it has a large cottage garden
and the orchard could accommodate shepherds' huts,
but really this mystery proposition
is all about the two of them.
I loved the Mystery House.
I'm absolutely lost for words.
And it's been a house of absolute surprises.
Look at this. This is a proper functioning garden.
Really olde worlde, like the Secret Garden.
-It is, isn't it?
-I think we would enjoy this.
I think we would too. I thought we'd made a decision and now I'm not
quite sure that we have.
I think the Mystery House is amazing.
I don't think this property really allows us to have a business,
but that doesn't matter.
If we could keep that capital,
we could invest it somewhere else
and just use this as our own perfect house.
Whoo! Had to really tear you away from this one.
I'd like to find a spot where you can think about all three houses
without being swayed, so follow me...
I think the Mystery House has added an element of finance into this
house search that wasn't there before.
Because I think if Chris and Mary can save £160,000 on the price tag,
that's going to give them some breathing space where they can kick back
and really enjoy the property as a home rather than thinking of it as
an asset that needs to make money.
So I'll be very interested to see what that's done to their
thought processes. Let's find out.
Hello. How are you doing with all this?
It's interesting. Often when I sit down at this table,
I have a pretty good idea of which one people like, but with you
-I think you like them all.
-It's come down to between house number one
and the Mystery House.
We weren't expecting to fall in love with two beautiful houses.
It's going to be hard to decide between them.
-What do you think?
-I think it will be hard to decide.
You came with a big wish list and hopes for a business,
hopes for a lovely house.
What do you think's come into focus during this process?
We did come with a plan that the house should
generate an income, and increasingly, as we've gone on,
I've begun to think that perhaps we just want a house that we love,
that we want to live in for ourselves and we'll look for
business opportunities elsewhere. And especially the Mystery House,
the lovely thatched cottage, would allow us to do that,
because it was so much cheaper than we were anticipating.
I've heard you mention the Mystery House twice -
does that mean that's edging to the front of the pack?
I think it has to be, for me, the Mystery House.
I'd like to have one more cool, calm, collected look
at house number one,
simply because that potentially could bring us some income.
And what happens now? What is the next step?
We'd very much like to go and have a look at
both house number one and three again,
just to make sure that we're making the right decision.
I think we will go for one of them.
Yay! I'm waving a little flag of joy! LAUGHTER
That's great. I think you'll be happy here, so make it happen.
Thank you very much. We've really enjoyed ourselves.
It's been a pleasure. Thank you.
Those three houses in North Devon are almost proof that you can have
too much of a good thing, because poor Mary and Chris's minds were
slightly addled by just the richness of the properties that their budget could buy.
Perhaps they were used to kind of Brighton prices.
Because here their money goes a little bit further and, almost,
they can afford to kick back and enjoy the property, rather than have
to have a business to support their lifestyle.
Inspiring stuff and I hope that you'll be inspired enough to
join us next time for more Escape To The Country.
Following our search, Chris and Mary made an offer on the French-style
first property in Virginstow, which was accepted,
so they are due to exchange very soon.
If you would like to escape to the country in England, Scotland,
Wales or Northern Ireland, and need our help, please apply online at...
Alistair Appleton is in Devon helping a couple of journalists to find a characterful country home with holiday-let potential. They have a generous property budget of £700,000 with which to make the move. While in the county, Alistair meets a pioneering young sheep farmer and gets a masterclass in hand shearing the grey-faced Dartmoor sheep.