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This humble-looking structure may look like a hermit's shelter
but 300 years ago, it was literally firing up the economy
of the county I'm visiting today.
Find out what was made there and where I am in just a moment.
Today, we're helping a married couple fulfil a lifelong dream.
-I could see myself in this.
And our property search brings out the full spectrum of reactions.
I do like that, it's just all my worst nightmares.
Today, I'm in Devon, near Bideford,
and this is one of the many remaining lime kilns
scattered across the north Devon coast and estuaries.
Before the advent of cement,
quicklime was used as a building material
but also as a soil fertiliser and to make paint
and it's manufactured by taking raw limestone,
transported often as far away as south Wales here,
and then burnt in the kilns.
So, these little relics of our industrial past
are not the only fascinating thing about this stunning county.
Devon sits in the southwest of England,
with land borders to its west and east
and the Bristol Channel to its north
and the English Channel to its south.
The northern coastline features rugged, rocky outcrops and cliffs,
as well as natural harbours, such as the one at Ilfracombe.
Such geographic features encouraged maritime trade,
as well as providing strategic start points for several invasions,
notably to Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland
in the 13th century.
Smaller coves dot this coastline.
Combe Martin, located in an area of outstanding natural beauty,
features a sandy beach, flanked by natural rock pools.
Other seaside resorts include Lynmouth and Lynton,
a twin town, separated by a 700-foot gorge
and joined by a water-powered funicular railway,
opened in late Victorian times.
Devon has provided inspiration for an array of writers and artists.
Damien Hirst has recently made his home and his mark here,
whilst the 19th-century novelist RD Blackmore
set the historical romance Lorna Doone
around Exmoor National park.
In the village of Malmsmead,
the packhorse bridge featured in the story
can still be seen crossing the river.
With so much on offer,
it's no surprise that the county proves popular with those seeking
a temporary or more permanent escape to the country.
As you've just seen, Devon is a particularly desirable place to live
and that's reflected in the prices.
The average price for a detached property here is around £310,000,
which is £25,000 above the national figure.
And, as you might expect, in the north of the county,
it's properties near the coast that command a particular premium.
Villages like Croyde or Georgeham, just south of Ilfracombe,
are very desirable because of their proximity to stunning beaches
and great surfing.
But the plethora of property in the town of Ilfracombe itself
means that you can pick up bargains there.
So, what's attracted our buyers to this lovely part of the world?
Let's meet them and find out.
Tony and Sheila were born and raised in the same Midlands city,
but it wasn't until their teenage years
that their paths first crossed.
We met in Derby at a youth club.
-We were 16 at the time.
-We were both 16, yeah.
We've been married 50 years next April.
Soon after their marriage, Tony found work in Oxford
as a professional photographer and the couple relocated to the city.
But Sheila never lost sight of a lifelong dream.
I always was promised, when we moved to Oxford,
I was going to get a cottage,
but it didn't work out like that, so I'm still looking for my cottage.
Tony finally retired a few years ago.
The time was right to relocate to the peace of the countryside.
They bought what appeared to be Sheila's dream cottage
next to a disused airfield, but it soon turned out to be a nightmare.
Four years ago,
we thought we'd found the ideal place in the country.
It was a converted cowshed, very, very nice.
The day we moved in, however, it got very noisy.
There were aircraft and then the military moved in as well,
so we decided this wasn't for us.
We wanted a quiet, nice place to live in the country
and it didn't work out.
The couple decided to sell up
but are now left living in a one-bedroom flat
above their daughter's garages, with all their belongings in storage.
It's a far cry from what they wanted from retirement.
My daughter doesn't want us, really, to go.
She'd like us living here for a long while,
but I don't want to be a geriatric and not having done anything.
I've still got life in me yet.
I've got multiple sclerosis.
I've had MS for quite a long while and I will not be beaten.
I am stubborn.
Life IS short and we need to get on with what we want to do.
And after the last one, we've got to get it right.
Putting health concerns and false starts behind them,
the couple are keen to make their second attempt at moving a success.
And this time, they have their sights set on the seaside
and north Devon.
The area we like the best is on that north coast.
It's not quite so commercial.
They say the coast is best for you - the fresh air,
just away from all that traffic, having sea air.
Just walking along cliffs in the open air, really.
After their move, Sheila would like to spend more time on her art,
whilst Tony would like to continue with his role
as a voluntary first responder.
But, most of all,
they want to make the most of every day they have together.
I want to go out there and do my own thing and live my life, you know,
-not through what everybody else wants me to do - what
-want to do.
If I live to 80, I want to enjoy the next ten years.
We need to be in a place we can enjoy
and be accepted as part of a community.
I do hope that we can find a nice place now.
-We have been trying for two years.
And we're quite picky, I have to admit.
Tony and Sheila have asked us
to concentrate our search in north Devon,
with its easier access to and from their friends and family in Oxford.
They admit they're picky, but I'm about to find out how true that is,
as we meet up in the county to learn more about the home they're after.
-Good morning, guys.
What attracts you to this area? It's a beautiful part of the country.
I like the views, the coast and I like the ruggedness.
-You know this area quite well, don't you?
-Yes, we do.
We've been looking for a house for two years.
You've been looking for a while.
What's put you off the properties you've seen?
It's always just little bits that's not quite right.
We also have had certain instances
where we've arrived outside the house and then phoned the agent
to say don't bother coming over.
We know when we look at a place
-whether it's going to be right or not.
-OK, you can't do that today.
-We won't do that.
Just be polite and go round, cos we have selected some nice ones.
Tell me about the location.
Do you want to be way out in the countryside?
I don't mind being out in the countryside,
so we're quite adaptable to where we'd like to be.
Want to be able to sit outside in the evening and look out over views.
Want somewhere quiet, really, that's the main thing.
-Not a main road, no wind turbines, no industry.
-And no airfields.
-And no airfields.
-Definitely no airfields.
-Remind us how much money you've got to play with.
-£300,000 to £325,000.
-£325,000. We always like the highest figure.
-Yes, I thought you might.
Obviously, the coast does command premium prices.
Well, yes, we're prepared for that.
So, what would you compromise on, if you had to compromise?
-Er, two bedrooms.
-And then cut out one bedroom.
We don't mind a place that needs a bit of renovation,
so if we can go in at a lower price
and then add to it, that wouldn't be a problem.
You don't mind rolling up your sleeves and doing a bit of DIY?
-And what about the style of the house?
-Are you fussed about modern or old?
-An old property.
So you have a bit of flexibility, but you also are quite picky.
Yes, I suppose, yeah. I always wanted a cottage.
So you know your mind, that's good.
-We've got three lovely properties lined up, all quite different.
So we're hoping you won't walk off before you actually go in them,
-but while the weather's nice, we should start.
With a maximum budget of £325,000,
Sheila and Tony are looking to finally fulfil
that dream of living in a cottage.
They'd like an old property
with a minimum of two, but preferably three, bedrooms.
They don't mind getting stuck in and doing some work themselves
and they're flexible about location, as long as it is peaceful.
They're also keen to have some countryside views.
We've lined up three great homes to show them
and I'll be asking them to guess the price of each before I reveal it.
The last one is the Mystery Property, which has lots to offer,
although it's not exactly what they've asked for.
First though, we're heading to house number one.
-You guys have been married 50 years, is that right?
-50 years in April.
-So, presumably, that means you're on the same wavelength.
-You must be to be together that long.
-I think we are, aren't we?
-We are, really.
-We like similar things.
-Is that true of house-buying as well?
-Very much so.
So, do you want to put down roots here
or do you see there will be a few more moves after this one?
Oh, no I don't see a lot more, cos we're 70 now,
so you don't want to keep moving.
-Which is why this has got to be the right one.
Our first foray into north Devon is a three-mile drive
from the market town of Barnstaple
and about ten miles from the north Devon coast,
in the village of Goodleigh.
Poised to ring out across the rolling hills,
the bell tower of Goodleigh's gothic-style St Gregory's church
dates back to the turn of the 15th century,
although the rest was largely rebuilt in Victorian times.
Nearby, a former Methodist church now houses a preschool.
With a pub, hall and plenty of pastoral scenery,
this location is far enough away
from the county's busy tourist hotspots
to offer all the peace and quiet Sheila and Tony have asked for.
The detached home I want to show them
is situated at the edge of the village.
-Here we have our first offering.
-Mmm, it's quite quaint, isn't it?
-It's quite sweet, isn't it?
-It's in a very quiet place.
-I know, no noise.
-You can hear the birds singing.
You are right on the edge of the village.
You've got these lovely views over the open fields.
It looks as if there's a lot of houses into the back garden though.
Looks as if it's probably blocked in a bit.
I quite like the look of it at first,
but we'll have to see the inside.
-Let's have a look inside.
This house was only built in 2003
and has been already refurbished throughout by the current owners.
'We're turning right from the central hall,
'into what is now a generously-proportioned space.'
Come into the kitchen.
This used to be the garage
and the present owner converted this into a big kitchen-diner
and what was the kitchen is now a big utility room
-on the other side of the hall.
-It's nicely done. I love the colours.
-Quite spacious, isn't it?
It is spacious. And nicely laid-out, isn't it? This is our style, yes.
-The Belfast sink as well, that's our style.
-Is it plucking at your heartstrings though?
-The kitchen is.
-Kitchen certainly is.
-But I'll wait and see the rest.
Let's continue the tour. I'll show you the main living space.
'Located behind the kitchen-diner, to the rear of the property,
'is the main reception room.'
The sitting room runs the opposite direction.
The kitchen comes in north-south and this is east-west,
-with the doors through into the garden.
-It's a nice room.
-It is, isn't it?
-It just seems a little room though, doesn't it?
-It's a bit small for you, is it?
-Er, a little. We've got two big settees.
-It is too modern, I think.
-I think so.
-You don't have a beam anywhere.
There's not a beam in sight.
You normally get some kind of a beam showing in a real old property.
You've got a nice log burner there, so for winter nights,
you can keep nice and warm,
-but maybe not quite the right historic tone.
The ground floor also features a downstairs shower
and separate cloakroom.
So far, the lack of period features here have met with disappointment
from Sheila and Tony.
'Still, there's more to see upstairs,
'where a landing, set out as a study area with a skylight,
'could be used for arts and crafts.
'A well-appointed family bathroom serves three good-sized bedrooms -
'a guest double, a generous single, with pretty views to fields,
'and finally, their master bedroom.'
-This is the biggest of the three.
-It's not en suite.
There's a walk-in wardrobe, though, in the eaves.
-Room for lots of shoes and handbags.
-It's got quite a lot of windows in.
-Makes them very light rooms, doesn't it?
-In terms of space upstairs, is this what you're looking for?
The whole house has got virtually the right amount of rooms.
But if you'd got a bit more land, you could put a conservatory on,
which opens it up quite considerably.
'Well, let's see if the outside of this house offers the potential
'to extend that Sheila is looking for.'
Double wooden gates give access to parking for two cars,
while fruit trees and flower beds frame a small lawned area,
ornamental pond and patio seating.
There's also a log store and shed, along with stunning country views.
But it's not the largest of spaces.
In terms of the size, is it too small?
Um, there's nowhere I could put a conservatory on, if need be.
You wouldn't even need an electric mower on this, would you?
-You could do it by hand.
-Pair of scissors.
What about the proximity of neighbours?
I'd rather just have fields there, if I could.
If I sit here, I'd feel as if I'm being nosy
and I can't look out
because you look as if you're looking into somebody's house.
So, what price tag would you put on this property?
-You go first.
-I'd go 302.
Very fast and efficient.
And almost exactly right. In between the two, you'd be spot-on.
-It's on at £299,950.
-Right, so we were quite close, weren't we?
Not far off.
I'm going to let you go inside and explore a bit more,
-then I will meet you at the front.
-OK, thank you.
£25,000 below their top budget,
this three-bedroom house provides the quiet location
Sheila and Tony are after.
As well as being detached,
it has well-proportioned accommodation on both floors.
There are lovely views inside and out and there is private parking.
This is quite nice. Just enough for a single bed.
-We'd want one single bedroom, wouldn't we?
-They've got a dresser in as well.
-Yes, ample space.
The insides are fantastic.
Bedrooms are nice, the views are good
and, if it was an old property, we would say this is the one.
This house is just too modern for us, basically.
We could discuss it and, perhaps, we might change our minds,
but we don't know yet, until we've seen the other houses.
I think the location of this house is quite good, actually.
I think it's a very quiet village and you've got views over the back.
Overall, the size is not too bad.
The garden's a little too small for us.
A bit more, then you could have put a conservatory on
and that would have allowed the house to be that bit bigger.
If you close the door behind you,
-we're all ready for the next property. Follow me.
There are signs of creative endeavour all over north Devon.
One small coastal cabin in the village of Bucks Mills
is now maintained by the National Trust,
just as it was left by long-term resident artists
Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards in 1971.
Mindful of Sheila's passion for art, we've lined up a meeting
with another local artist 20 miles along the coast.
Caroline Baxter is keen to share her love
for this very beautiful part of the world
and show Tony and Sheila how she expresses it.
I brought you up here because this is a very special place for me.
It's known as the Ilfracombe Torrs.
Locally, it's know as Little Switzerland
because of all the hills.
Art-wise, it is just an artist's dream.
It is wild, it's free, it's forever changing.
In spring, it's bright green, in autumn, it's golden.
What sort of artist are you? What materials do you use?
I paint with wool. I'm a felt artist.
I call them woolly watercolours.
Caroline includes local wool in her materials,
much of which she dyes herself, using foraged natural products.
She's cooking up her latest batch
with a common kitchen-cupboard ingredient.
I stewed up a load of onion skins and that's what we've got.
What we're going to do is put the wool in here.
Caroline has used a solution
to remove the natural oils from the wool
and prepare it for the dye.
She places it in a pan of cold water with the onion mixture,
increasing the heat very slowly to prevent shrinkage.
We'll simmer it for up to an hour and then it will be golden brown.
-It's just beginning to bubble now.
-Yes, just beginning to bubble.
What other things can you use to dye with?
There's lots of things that I can forage locally -
elder leaves, bark, berries, bracken and brambles.
Round here there's lots of things you can use.
They're all those natural colours,
-especially of the moors and the cliff tops.
You can already see that it's beginning to pick up
-a lovely yellow colour.
The next stage is to use the dyed wool
to recreate Devon's scenic beauty.
Is that where we were this morning?
Yeah, that's where we were this morning.
Caroline shows Sheila and Tony how to separate the fibres
and mix them together like paint.
The mixed colours are then placed onto a white background
to build up a picture.
-There's a bit for you.
-That's very blue. I think that's a bit TOO blue.
-Nice bit of sea.
-That's not sea colour.
-Well, it's a sunny day.
All right. He's not very good at colours.
-Don't forget to put the sheep in.
-You can make those.
Would you like to put some in, darling?
-I think I'll leave the creativity to you, darling.
You're doing so well and if I did it, it wouldn't be right.
He's good at woodwork,
so I suppose you can't be good at everything, can you?
Now, to set the scene in place.
We just warm it with our hands a bit, very gentle like that.
The warmth of your hand and that gentle movement
starts the felting process, very gently.
You put this piece of netting over it to protect it
and then we add soapy water.
-Basically, we're going to go across and wet our picture.
We want all the fibres wet
and you just press it down until it's all wet and flat.
If we carefully take the netting off, we'll be able to see.
-Oh, my gosh.
It's already beginning to look a bit more like a picture.
So, we are now ready to felt.
Wool fibres are covered in microscopic hooklike scales.
Wetting then rolling causes these to attach and bond together.
This process of felting is similar
to shrinking your jumper in the washing machine.
After about 400 rolls and a rinse to get the soap out,
Sheila and Tony's creation is ready.
-So there's your felt picture.
-Thank you very, very much.
And please take it with and put it in pride of place in your new home.
-I will, actually.
-Thank you very much indeed.
The next property is further inland,
around a 45-minute drive to either the north or south coasts
and just a couple of miles from the small market town of North Tawton
in the village of Bondleigh.
Lying over the river, in the upper Taw Valley,
Bondleigh includes a church with some surviving Norman features
and several pathways, such as the Tarka Trail, the fictional route
taken by the well-known literary otter of the same name.
Facilities located three miles away in Winkleigh
include a post office, butcher's shop and a choice of pubs.
But back on the outskirts of Bondleigh,
this inland location could give them the character bones they are after.
Look at our second offering.
-It is attached.
It's two-thirds of this building but it is old, it is historic,
at least 200 years old. What are your first impressions?
We've always said no to a semi.
-We once lived in a semi and it was disastrous.
-What about you, Tony?
-I feel exactly the same,
but let's have a look inside and see how it goes.
-You never know.
-You do never know. Let's have a look.
'Originally this property was a two-storey farm building,
'known as a linney.
'But it has a long-standing history of residential use,
'as they'll see from the features inside.'
-Come on in to the new and improved...
-Oh, that's nice.
-That's a "wow", yes.
This would have been a building,
typically, where you kept carriages and carts.
This would have been the whole building, this space here,
and these beams would have separated out different compartments.
It's been extended over hundreds of years.
-You've got the lovely inglenook.
-And the bread oven. That's lovely.
-It's a surprise, isn't it?
-It is a surprise. Very surprised.
It's a nice big lounge.
I like they way they've done the inset bits on the beams as well.
-It works really well.
-Yeah, it's nice.
Come through to the kitchen cos I think you'll really like this.
-I think this is where the house really excels.
-Wow. Oh, yes.
-Another burner as well.
-Yeah. Isn't that cute?
This would have been the back wall of the original building,
so this extension was put on before the present owners moved in.
-It's really lovely to have this long, open space.
-They've got a walk-in larder.
You've got space for a big dresser.
We have a long sideboard which it would take. Lovely.
And a wonderful, proper conservatory, with a brick base.
-A proper wood one.
-I do love the kitchen.
-What do you think, Tony?
-I like it. I like it very much.
-I could see myself in this.
Ah, that's a good sign of approval after a slightly wobbly start.
-Yes, it was a wobbly start.
-Let's look upstairs cos there are three bedrooms here.
The character features inside this period property
have clearly won over Sheila and Tony.
'Stairs from the living room take us up to the first floor,
'which I think offers them all the accommodation they want.'
To the front and south-facing part of the home,
there are two good-sized double bedrooms
that could be for visitors or used as hobby rooms.
Both are served by a large family bathroom,
with free-standing roll-top bath,
whilst on the other side of the landing,
we find the bedroom which could be theirs.
-This is the master bedroom.
-That's a nice room. That's lovely.
-Look at the fireplace.
-This used to be a sloping attic space.
-They lifted it and took...
-You can see the ceiling going down.
-It's sweet, cos that fireplace is actually a cupboard.
It swings open and there's space behind it in the eaves for storage.
-It's a big space, isn't it?
And the en suite is really also very spacious.
-Slate floor and a shower room.
-So, has the inside grown on you?
I can see your eyes darting around. Rrr-rrr-rrr.
I'm trying to take everything in.
I'll let you explore in more detail afterwards
-but I want to show you the garden cos it's very special.
'So far, so good for the interior here.'
Outside, the driveway is shared
but there's a great deal of seclusion to enjoy
in this third-of-an-acre plot.
The outbuildings provide a potting shed, tool store,
greenhouse and wood store,
whilst the garden itself has raised beds for home-grown veg,
fruit trees and well-stocked borders,
plus one feature that's a little more unusual.
There's an outside toilet there. You see this cream building?
-A little outside dunny.
-Do you like the garden?
-Yes, I do.
I like the way it's been treated.
If it was just all flat, it would look nothing,
but they've given it a bit of character.
The only thing that lets it down, for me,
is that does look a bit of a hotchpotch.
Where they've lifted the roof?
Probably, yes, where they've lifted it, I think.
What do you see in terms of a price tag?
I think £325,000...I would say.
-I think about 312.
Well, in this instance, Tony, you should listen to your wife.
It's on at exactly what she said, £325,000.
I'm never going to hear the end of this.
Go in and explore and I'll see you out the front.
-Lovely, thank you.
Bang on budget, this period cottage has lots of the character features
Sheila and Tony have asked for,
including an inglenook fireplace and exposed beams.
Downstairs, there's a large country-style kitchen-diner
and upstairs, the three bedrooms provide plenty of accommodation,
both for themselves and guests.
Out in the garden, the manageable plot is thoughtfully laid-out
and has plenty of storage.
Plus, importantly for them,
it's quietly located at the edge of a village.
-This is a nice bright room isn't it?
-It's on the south-facing side.
When Alistair said it was a semi, um, my heart sank a bit.
But then when we came inside, it was amazing.
The sitting room area is beautifully done,
with the beams and the log burner, and the kitchen is to die for.
There are one or two drawbacks.
One is there isn't a view from the back garden,
which is what we wanted,
and we wanted detached, and this is, basically, a semidetached.
There's just a few bits that I'm trying to get my head round.
If there's one thing I could do to it,
is take the roof off and redo it.
-Ah, all done. That is this house tour over.
-It's beautiful, really.
-Has it won you over a little bit?
-Yes, it has.
The lounge and the kitchen are perfect.
Come on, let's have a little rest.
-We're done for today.
-Right, thank you.
Husband and wife Tony and Sheila, from the city of Oxford,
'have £325,000 to fulfil their lifelong dream of country living.
'So far, it's been a struggle to match their wish list
'to their budget.'
Coming up, the Mystery Property goes out on a limb
to give them a whole new perspective.
You all right with heights?
Yes, I used to climb when I was younger.
'And I'll be making my creative mark with a unique local pigment.'
It's really satisfying and enormously black.
Back at the beginning of this search,
when we were talking to Tony and Sheila in Oxford,
they did say they were very picky
and that everything had to be perfect for this move
and that's completely understandable
when we remember what happened to their "aerodrome" house.
And it seems we haven't hit the mark with the first two properties.
Even that lovely house yesterday afternoon
seemed a bit too far from the sea for them.
So, the Mystery House is, as ever, a complete wildcard
and it's definitely close to the sea and it HAS got amazing views,
but whether it will tickle their fancy remains to be seen.
Tony and Sheila said they wanted to be near the sea
and the Mystery Property is located right on the coast
in the seaside resort of Ilfracombe.
Spooling forward from its Iron Age origins,
Ilfracombe developed both fishing and farming communities,
its natural harbour making it a safe port and key location
for the shipping of coal and lime from Wales.
Its heyday as a tourist hotspot was in the 1950s,
but it remains a popular destination,
retaining much of its traditional appeal.
Have you guys been to Ilfracombe before?
-Yes, we brought our grandchildren two or three years ago.
I think it's a fantastic old Victorian seaside resort.
It's kept its character, hasn't it?
It famously has this Damien Hirst statue,
fabulously controversial, as always. He's a resident here,
so I think he's done a lot to bring up the interest in the area.
-Is it something you'd like to live close to?
-It certainly is.
-It's our ideal, really.
-I like the north coast.
It's rugged and it's not all too commercial here.
I might even buy a boat as well. Temptation.
We have thought about it, haven't we? Depends how close we are.
Well, actually, the Mystery House is very close indeed.
In fact, today's Mystery Property is located up on a hill above us,
in one of the most commanding positions
on the north Devon coastlines.
So, a few more steps,
because this is the property we've brought you to see.
-Oh, good God.
So, the flat we're going to view is the one right at the top.
-Hmm, not impressed.
-It's not our ideal property.
The location's perfect but it's not what we would have chosen initially.
We'll be prepared to have a look and see what it's like.
Well, I like the fact you're game,
so we're going to go round and catch the lift.
'We're heading to one of 14 apartments
'in an historic building originally opened as a hotel in 1891,
'and designed to look like a French chateau.
'Outside, there is allocated parking in a shared lot.
'The mystery proposition is accessed via stairs or lift.'
-That was a nightmare.
Then, once inside the private hall, stairs lead up
to an impressive multifunctional open-plan living space.
Come through. I want to bring you to the main event, which is this space.
-That's incredible, isn't it?
-It is, actually.
-There's windows everywhere
-to make the most of the view.
So, you've got the two turret spaces.
One's like an observatory over the sea
and another one over the town and, of course, the big balcony.
-So, what do you think of the actual space?
-The space is great.
I do like that, it's just all my worst nightmares.
It was always a gamble bringing you here but...
It's a modern-style conversion, a modern open-plan kitchen.
-It's beautiful. But it's not us, I think.
Beautiful but not you. Come and look at the dining space.
You do get lovely views over the town.
You certainly do. It's gorgeous.
These are the Jubilee Gardens, so these were the epicentre
of the Victorian pleasure gardens in Ilfracombe.
It used to have a very long and elaborate theatre and ballroom
and it was burnt down in the '80s and they built, in the '90s,
this slightly striking-looking theatre complex.
-Effectively, those are your gardens.
-And we don't have to mow them.
Exactly. Let's have a peek at the master bedroom.
There's no doubt the stunning views and prime coastal location
'are huge pluses for the Mystery Property.
'There are two bedrooms here -
'a double, served by its own separate bathroom,
'and then there is the master, which has its own en suite.'
-Lovely sea view here.
Waking up to that in the morning's great, isn't it?
-It's quite a thing, isn't it?
Regardless of what you feel about flats, being this high up
-and having this view.
-It is amazing, actually.
The sort of place you need binoculars
-to look at the ships, isn't it?
I can see it would be quite nice if I was OK with lifts.
-I'm not. And also...
-If you were OK with flats, which you're not.
Which I'm not. But the views are to die for.
Let's go onto the balcony, cos that's a really nice view
-and we can talk about the price.
This is why we brought you here.
-Amazing, isn't it?
-Are you all right with heights?
-Yes, I used to climb when I was younger.
-It is special, isn't it?
-It is, actually.
And the sun rises there so you get the sunrise over the cliffs.
-What do you think this little slice of Ilfracombe is worth?
I would say over our budget, so I would say 340.
-I'd go for 335.
-You two are really good!
-Actually, this time, Tony's spot-on.
It's actually on the market for £335,000.
Wow, you really have been looking around
-the property in this area, haven't you?
-We know it quite well.
Go back in and have a little...
There's another bedroom and the other bathroom
and I'll see you downstairs.
Slightly above budget, at £335,000,
our mystery proposition
does offer Sheila and Tony
the two bedrooms they asked for,
as well as incredible views
and proximity to the coast.
As it's an apartment, ground rent
and service charges are payable annually,
but it does offer secure
private parking and a long lease.
-This is one of the turrets, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
Get a beautiful view of the sea there, don't you?
-They're quaint, aren't they?
The Mystery House was a shock at first.
A flat is one of my nightmares and plus a lift -
that's the other nightmare.
We don't want flats, we want a detached house.
It's got one of the criteria that we asked for and that's views,
views you couldn't beat anywhere.
In every room, you could see a different view,
because you go to all the windows and you've got something different.
Before the rain sets in, we should find a place
to have a cup of tea and talk through the week.
-That's a good idea.
As well as being the birthplace of many famous artists,
including Sir Joshua Reynolds,
Devon's unique beauty has been the crucible
for much creativity over the centuries.
But not only has the landscape served as an inspiration,
it's also a rich source of natural materials.
Today, I'm meeting local illustrator,
painter and sculptor Peter Ward,
who has offered to show me how he makes art,
literally, from the Earth itself.
Good morning, Peter. Now, north Devon coast, you're an artist.
What drew you to this particular spot?
Basically because there's a very special earth pigment
that can be gathered here and, in particular,
a pigment that was mined in Bideford until 1969 called Bideford Black.
This is where the seam of Bideford Black actually reaches the coast.
So it's a seam of what?
It's a clay that runs along the side of a seam of anthracite,
which is a very hard coal.
Around 350 million years ago, during the Carboniferous era,
temperate forest, flanked by high mountains,
covered lowlands in this area of Devon.
As the mountains moved,
the heartwood from tree ferns became buried
up to five miles below the earth,
where massive pressure worked to form
the black claylike seam in evidence today.
There's an area across north Devon where there's been mining activity.
There is a lot of excavations between here and Umberleigh,
about 12 miles inland, but the main concentration was in Bideford.
It would be quite interesting to see it actually in situ.
-Can we actually go and spot it?
'The Bideford Black, or Biddiblack, pigment was historically used
'as a natural antifoul on the bottom of wooden boats
'to prevent barnacle and weed formation,
'but it's also been used as a tank camouflage in the Second World War
'and even in mascara.'
This is the seam of Bideford Black here, running vertically.
Down here, at the bottom, you can see a mine adit,
which is basically a drainage ditch.
The mines that were dug on the top of the cliffs
would have filled up with water.
The miners went down, they'd walk about half an hour underground
and they would work there for an eight-hour day.
The pay was very good but it was hard, dirty work.
This is up until 1969. Very little health and safety going on here.
'Fortunately for me, today's task of foraging for pieces on the beach
'is far less arduous or dangerous.'
Here's a bit of the lovely clay stuff that's fallen down.
So this looks like you could almost paint with this immediately.
You can. It's very, very simple stuff to paint with.
You come here, you collect this, you make your own paint.
To me, it's a statement about north Devon,
it's something about this place.
-So, you have to bow before the geography.
-Nature is boss.
-So, how do you process it?
How do you actually turn it into art material?
You can draw with it like that, but to make it into paint,
-the simplest way is to just mix this with water.
You're making suspensions.
You're not dissolving anything, there's no chemistry involved.
It's just a suspension within water.
'There's something primal
'about painting with the very landscape around us
'and I can't resist having a go,
'first mixing our lump from the beach with some water in a bowl...'
-How are you getting on there?
-It's kind of lumpy but it's very black.
'..and then letting the muse take me.'
It's... It's really black.
Mmm. When it dries, it's a kind of dull black.
-It's really satisfying.
-And enormously black.
It's a very, very liberating material,
possibly because you're not paying for it,
possibly because soil has something within it
which makes us happy that it connects us to something else.
I'm very taken. There is something really special about the fact
that it's just come out of the cliff there.
We'll just leave you there, Alistair.
Yes, you can leave me three hours later. It's a snail, do you see?
It's a Bideford Black snail. I love it! It's wonderful!
Well, we were under no illusions
that Sheila and Tony had a very specific wish list.
They called themselves picky.
But even I can't put a positive spin
on Sheila calling the Mystery House her "worst nightmare".
But you never know, on the drive back from Ilfracombe,
they may have changed their mind. Or not! Let's go and find out.
A nice cup of tea gives us a chance to reflect on the week and houses.
Has anything come into focus for you?
I know we didn't probably find the one that you wanted.
I would say the second property would fit the bill
more than any of them. I loved the downstairs.
It was just a few things that was not quite right with it.
It's been very interesting seeing some good ideas,
because the kitchen was beautifully designed and laid out
and if we do find a house that needs a bit of renovation,
we will bear the design of that in mind, I'm sure.
The flat gave us food for thought afterwards.
-It certainly did.
Cos I wouldn't have thought I would have ever liked a flat
and it was so quiet while you were up there
and I thought, "That's amazing." I would say now, looking at a flat,
if it wasn't so many storeys up,
probably might even look at that, I don't know.
It would still have to be a top-floor one.
It would have to be a top-floor
cos I couldn't stand people running around on top up there.
-Do you think you'll ever find the house that you want?
If we haven't got one in ten years, we're going to give up.
-What's the next step for you guys?
-Start house-hunting again, I think.
We'll be contacting the agents,
we'll be looking at the various websites
and putting a list together and coming down again.
I'm going to be a bit more focussed on everything we need.
-So you're going to be narrower, tighter?
Well, I hope it goes well. It's been great fun.
I'm sorry we didn't find you your dream home but, hopefully,
you'll find somewhere close to Ilfracombe or the sea.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you. It's been great fun.
-We've enjoyed it.
Usually, the one thing you can certainly say on this show
is that people come on and they leave
with at least their criteria a little wider,
they've been to see properties they wouldn't have considered,
and they're a bit more open-hearted
to different properties on the market.
But in Sheila and Tony's case,
the opposite seems to have been the case
and actually, seeing the properties we've shown them,
seems to have narrowed their focus somewhat.
But good for them, because they can afford to be picky.
They don't have to move, they want this house to be the perfect house
and it's out there somewhere, so we wish them all the best.
I hope that you join us next time for more Escape To The Country.
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