Suffolk Escape to the Country


Suffolk

Property series. Sonali Shah is helping a couple from Essex who have a £400,000 budget to find some rural respite in the Suffolk countryside.


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Transcript


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500 years ago, locals transformed this quiet village church

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into a towering landmark, with cathedral-like proportions.

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Find out where it is and where the money to do it came from

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in just a few moments.

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Today's house-hunting couple

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are wearing their hearts on their sleeve.

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Lovely. It's a me room.

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Is it a Ken room, a Ken house, yet?

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Very close.

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And the character of our properties

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brings out ever-more dramatic reactions.

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This is probably something you'd see in the movies.

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-I mean, unbelievable.

-Wow!

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Today, I'm in Suffolk,

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and this is the magnificent church of St Peter and St Paul in Lavenham.

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From the 14th to the 16th century,

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this village was the centre of Suffolk's wool trade.

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At the height of its prosperity,

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local merchants were keen to show off their wealth,

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so they funded the building of this impressive nave and flint tower,

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which rises up to more than 140 feet.

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Lavenham's cloth and wool-making status

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crumbled away in the 17th century,

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but preserving its architecture is a cause celebre these days.

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This church, and more than 300 other listed buildings here,

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are an enduring reminder of those boom years.

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Located in East Anglia,

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Suffolk is bordered by the North Sea to the east

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and shares land borders with Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

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-The county's Heritage coastline stretches for

-45

-miles

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over fine golden sands and pebble beaches.

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Seaside towns include Southwold,

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with its rows of iconic, brightly-coloured beach huts

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built in the 1960s.

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Several tidal rivers running out to the North Sea

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make for many fascinating places to explore by boat.

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Arthur Ransome, the author

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of the well-known children's series Swallows And Amazons,

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sailed and kept a boat here.

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And he set the books We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea

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and Secret Water in the area.

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Inland, the unique, low-lying landscape around Dedham Vale

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inspired one of the country's most famous landscape painters,

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John Constable, to paint some of his most well-known works.

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Pretty market towns include Bury St Edmunds.

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Originally designed on a grid system

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by monks of the abbey in the 11th century,

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it offers an intriguing combination of medieval architecture,

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elegant Georgian squares and a cathedral.

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So, whether it's coast, countryside

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or ecclesiastical architecture you're after,

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Suffolk is a wonderful place to plan an escape to.

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The Suffolk property market offers good value for money

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when you consider that the average cost of a detached home here

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is £275,000, just under £10,000 below the national figure.

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However, there are hot spots to the south of the county,

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such as the well-connected villages of East Bergholt and Nayland.

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In seaside resorts like Southwold and Aldeburgh,

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you could pay double the national average for a coastal property.

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Luckily, the picture does become more affordable

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as you head north, towards the Norfolk Borders.

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So, which part of the Suffolk countryside

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do today's buyers want to settle in?

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Let's meet them.

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Ken and Debbie, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex,

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first met as teenagers 36 years ago.

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My friend asked for my opinion

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on a girl that worked in the hairdresser's.

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And he pointed her out and I said, "Yeah, she's a nice-looking girl."

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He kept coming in for a haircut -

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more than when he needed it, really and truly -

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so we got attracted to each other and the rest is history, really.

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It's, like, 31 years.

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-Am I right on that one?

-Yeah, yeah.

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31 years married, five years courting.

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Kids came along, and they soon found the demands of juggling family life,

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as well as Ken's insulation business in Tilbury,

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didn't leave much time for anything else.

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Our current lifestyle is very busy.

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You're always looking at the calendar,

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and, before you know it, it's nearly Christmas again.

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I'm sure a year goes quicker when you're running a business.

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Now the kids have left and Ken and Debbie are finding their large home

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is just one more demand on their time and budget.

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We've now realised this place is just too big for us.

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50%, maybe 60% of the property we're not using,

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but we have to go round and run it, maintain it and keep on top of it.

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Get something that I can do my housework in about one day

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instead of three days.

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Something smaller. Get it done and off we go.

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The only way you're going to get time is to make the time,

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and it's to make difficult decisions,

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cos you don't know what's around the corner.

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You've got to live for today, really, sometimes,

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-if you can afford to do it, and that's what we want to do.

-Yeah.

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Added to the demands put on them

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by the size of their current house and mortgage

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are the stresses of living in an area

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popular with commuters and London day-trippers.

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As the summer holidays come along, it gets very busy. Very busy.

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It is really a commuter area.

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You've got lots of people working in the banks and insurance industry

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in the City, who travel from here into London.

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Everything seems to be rushed,

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and what I really want is that amount of time

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to do things in my own time, and enjoy them.

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The best way to free themselves up

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is a move to more rural and affordable surroundings.

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We're going to get away from the rat race of living where we are now,

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off-load our mortgage so that we haven't got that worry any more,

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and really start to unwind and start to enjoy life.

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We're looking to move to Suffolk,

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because it's... well, just a nice, pretty county.

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What we've seen so far is the picturesque villages.

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The lifestyle seems a lot slower.

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We'd like to be part of that, and, er...

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and it's not that far away.

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We was always travelling through Suffolk, and we said,

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"Right, this would be about the perfect distance to be."

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-We can visit, and they can visit us.

-Yeah.

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They hope a less hectic pace will give them a better quality of life.

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I'm really looking forward to the wildlife side of things,

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from taking the dogs for long walks and, all of a sudden,

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you'll stumble upon a little pub

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and it's, "Ooh, let's go and have a drink,"

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or, "Let's have a bit of lunch."

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I'm looking to join a golf club and be playing at least once a week,

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and really look forward to that, and get me handicap down.

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But, most of all, they want to enjoy each other's company.

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We want to spend more time together, and I feel that this move

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is going to give us the option to do that.

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I'd like to think that this is going to give me a lot more time with Deb.

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It's turning a page, and starting another chapter.

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-Quite exciting, isn't it?

-I find that really exciting.

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Ken and Debbie have asked us to concentrate our search

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around the towns of Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket,

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close to road links back to Essex,

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but before we start looking at houses,

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I'm meeting them in the county to get a clearer understanding

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of what they want from their country relocation.

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-Welcome to Suffolk.

-Hello.

-What attracted you to this area?

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The history, the houses and the slower pace of life here.

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We often drive through with the motor home,

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when we're going to holiday in Norfolk,

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and we just really like the county.

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And it's not too far from where you currently are, either, is it?

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No. It's about an hour.

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Yeah. We still can nip back to visit family.

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I may have two go into work two or three days a week,

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so it's not a major commute.

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Tell me about the house that you're looking for.

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What would you like it to look like?

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We're both looking for different houses, I think.

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-Mr Renovator!

-Ah-ha! DEBBIE LAUGHS

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And Debbie would like it all done.

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I don't mind a little bit of renovating,

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but I obviously mean by that wallpaper and new bits and pieces,

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so I don't really want to start having to build the place again,

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or anything like that.

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Kitchen-diner, I'm looking for,

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or a room to put a large kitchen-diner on.

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A nice, sort of... comfortable lounge area

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-for retiring in, in the evening.

-Yep.

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-Probably three bedrooms would do us.

-Yeah. Three bedrooms.

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At least three bedrooms for when the boys,

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or the family, come up to stay.

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We don't want a large garden,

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because we want to be away a lot in the motor home,

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but we do need a large front on the property to put the motor home on.

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We just want a little garden

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that doesn't take us very long to maintain or do.

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Shut the back door, lock up the house

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and off we go for the weekend. That's the main thing.

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What about location?

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Where in the county would you like to live?

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I think we're looking at North Suffolk.

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A rural area, and with close access to the A14

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for commuting back to work and visiting.

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And remind me of your budget, then?

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Our budget is 400,000.

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And if we really, really, really fall in love with something

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-and it's just right, maybe we could go...

-425, yeah.

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-Maybe.

-OK.

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We've got three great properties lined up.

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So, let's get cracking.

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-Great.

-Lovely.

-Yeah, thank you.

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With a budget of £400,000

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but some room to stretch for the right property,

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Ken and Debbie are looking to downsize,

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but still have some important needs from their new country home.

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They want a large kitchen-diner, a good-sized lounge

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and at least three bedrooms.

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They'd like a low-maintenance garden for the dogs,

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and off-road parking for their motor home.

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Plus, they want good road access

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back to friends, family and Ken's business.

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We've found three fantastic properties to tempt them with

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and, at each one, I'll be asking them to guess the price

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before I reveal it.

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One, of course, will be our Mystery House,

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which could well put a new design on this search.

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But first on our agenda is house number one.

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So, Debbie, it sounds like you're more ready to slow down than Ken.

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-Is that right, Ken?

-Yeah.

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It's probably going to be a bit more difficult for me to slow down.

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How different do you want this home to be to the one

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that you are currently living in?

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Um, I would like a smaller back garden...

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Really, a large kitchen-diner I'm looking for,

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cos our kitchen's quite small,

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and we are both really looking at getting into cooking together.

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Yeah. That's something we'd like to do, a bit more cooking together.

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Mindful of the need to remain within reach of Essex,

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the first house is located in the village of Barking,

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five miles south-east of Stowmarket

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and two miles west of Needham Market.

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As well as amenities including a post office, and pubs,

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Needham Market features a flint church

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that dates all the way back to the 15th century

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and a Grade II listed old station building, completed in 1849.

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Two miles away, back in Barking, the village hall hosts activities

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including carpet bowls, an art group and the WI,

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after which you could enjoy a drink at the local pub.

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At the centre of the village is the tye -

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a word for a common, only found in parts of West Suffolk

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and adjoining areas of Essex,

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and our first house is located right beside it.

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The big thing about this property is what's on your doorstep.

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-They believe it's the largest village Tye in Suffolk.

-Really?

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There's enough space here for a motor home, isn't there?

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Yeah, I'm just looking at that.

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We can just about get the motor home in there.

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What do you think about the house itself?

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The character of the house, they've got that.

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And the dormers and the rendering and colour

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-is in keeping in the Suffolk area. It's lovely.

-Very characteristic.

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Can't wait to get in there and have a good look around, really.

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Let's go.

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'This detached house was built just a decade ago,

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'and our buyers' first impressions are positive.'

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So it's a really nice-sized hallway,

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which comes straight into this living room.

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-Oh, that's a nice room.

-Yeah.

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-Very nice.

-Really nice.

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I can see meself sitting in here.

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-A lot of this is actually done to our taste, as well, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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Very pleased. Very pleased.

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It's a perfect balance -

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you've got a lovely view of the common over there,

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-and the privacy of the trees and fencing there.

-Very private.

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Yeah, lovely. Yeah. It's a "me" room.

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Is it a Ken room, a Ken house, yet?

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Very close. Very close.

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I'll take very close with the first room.

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I'll show you the kitchen.

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I know. Not the kitchen-diner you wanted.

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It is a bit small.

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There's really only space

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-for a little breakfast table, isn't there?

-Yeah.

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It's still a nice size.

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I don't know if not having a ready kitchen-diner is a deal breaker?

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I wouldn't class it as a deal breaker.

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I'm just wondering whether perhaps we could...

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If there's room to build on, maybe?

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I think you could be close to doubling the size of this

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-with a conservatory-type extension.

-That would be nice.

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-That might be your answer.

-Yeah, that would be nice.

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Ken's wasted no time spotting an opportunity

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to put his renovating hat on in this house.

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There's already a separate dining room on this floor,

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as well as a handy downstairs cloakroom.

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Stairs take us up to a generous landing

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and two double bedrooms with countryside views -

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the largest to the front

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and another to the rear of the property,

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currently being used as a study.

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These two bedrooms sandwich a family bathroom.

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Then, across the landing,

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is a third, good-sized double with its own shower room.

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-This is what I want to show you, is the master...

-Yeah?

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..because there's an en-suite attached.

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And nice sets of wardrobes as well.

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That's a nice-sized room, actually. It's bigger than I thought it'd be.

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It's a lovely room, I like this.

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-This is a "me" room!

-THEY LAUGH

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That is what you'd wake up to every day.

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It's lovely. Beautiful. Yeah.

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It is a very nice house, and I can see myself living here.

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It's not too big, and it would be easy to maintain, and it's just...

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-It's lovely.

-OK.

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Well, let's go and see your garden.

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-I'm already calling it "YOUR garden"!

-Yeah. Yeah.

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With an overwhelming response to the inside of this house,

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let's head outside.

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Here, the fenced and gated grounds are private and secure.

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There are pleasant seating areas

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and a variety of mature shrubs and trees.

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What do you think about the size of it?

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Yeah, I think that's ideal. I'm not a gardener,

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and I don't want to spend too much time in the garden.

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I think I could stay on top of this garden with a few hours a year.

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The views are lovely, with the decking and the chairs up there.

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The views you've got, that's fantastic.

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I'm really relaxed out here. It's lovely.

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How much is this "lovely" going to cost you?

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I'm going to go for 395.

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OK.

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I reckon 420.

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It's on the market for...

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£400,000.

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Ooh. I can understand that.

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It's a lovely property in a very nice location.

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-Something to ponder on.

-Ponder inside -

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have another look around, and I'll meet you at the front.

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-OK.

-Thank you.

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I think it's ideal for them.

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And hopefully they can make it work,

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but we, of course, have other properties to see,

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so I shouldn't get too excited.

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Right on budget,

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this detached home has the three bedrooms they've asked for,

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and is idyllically located next to a tye,

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so benefits from scenic, countryside views.

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There's also a low-maintenance garden,

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as well as off-road parking for the motor home.

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And whilst it may not have the kitchen-diner Debbie wants,

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it does have a large living room and separate dining room.

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I think this is a lovely view. You've got the view of the common.

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I could see me out there, walking the dogs.

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Very nice. Lots to think about.

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I loved the first property from the moment I saw it.

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But I am looking for that large kitchen-diner.

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I think, with a little of tweaking, here and there,

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we could perhaps make that into my dream kitchen-diner.

0:16:280:16:32

Apart from that, everything else works for me.

0:16:320:16:35

Marks out of ten?

0:16:350:16:36

I would say I'd give this a nine.

0:16:360:16:38

I really, really like this house.

0:16:380:16:40

The lounge area, very inviting.

0:16:400:16:43

I could see myself sitting in there, watching the football on the TV.

0:16:430:16:47

And the common opposite the house - that's fantastic.

0:16:470:16:51

And it's not that far, really, from the A14, the A12,

0:16:510:16:55

for commuting to work. Lovely.

0:16:550:16:58

I can't believe how many boxes this has ticked.

0:16:580:17:02

I think it's going to take some beating.

0:17:020:17:04

I'm so pleased that you love this property.

0:17:070:17:10

I love this property!

0:17:100:17:12

Very nice. I had trouble getting her out.

0:17:120:17:14

-A good start.

-It is a great start, and we've got more to see.

-Lovely.

0:17:140:17:19

Ken and Debbie hope their slower-paced Suffolk lifestyle

0:17:230:17:27

will give them more time to spend cooking together in their new home,

0:17:270:17:31

so we've lined up a visit to a farming family,

0:17:310:17:33

where they can get a taste of fresh produce,

0:17:330:17:36

directly from field to table.

0:17:360:17:38

Nick Hardingham moved to the county with his wife

0:17:380:17:41

to start a pick-your-own business.

0:17:410:17:44

-Hello. Welcome to Alder Carr Farm.

-Hi.

-Good to meet you.

0:17:440:17:47

What's the history of the farm?

0:17:470:17:48

We came here in 1981.

0:17:480:17:50

We were looking to dump our original jobs.

0:17:500:17:53

We were 30 acres when we came here

0:17:530:17:55

and, over the years, we've expanded up to 50 acres.

0:17:550:17:58

What's in season at the moment?

0:17:580:18:00

Well, we're still picking quite a few different crops,

0:18:000:18:02

but absolutely the best, at the moment, is the sweetcorn.

0:18:020:18:06

This is a family affair, so it's over to Nick's son-in-law, Barry,

0:18:060:18:09

to check out this year's crop of corn.

0:18:090:18:12

This is sweetcorn. You know it's ready

0:18:120:18:14

cos it's got a brown tassel on the top,

0:18:140:18:17

and if I just open this up, I'll let you try some.

0:18:170:18:19

-Do you like sweetcorn?

-Yeah. I do.

0:18:190:18:21

-I've never tasted it, so, this is new for me.

-No?

0:18:210:18:24

If you want to try a piece of this and see what you think.

0:18:240:18:27

-Straight off the plant.

-That's beautiful.

0:18:270:18:29

It'll be very, very sweet. It's absolutely beautiful.

0:18:290:18:32

This is a pick-your-own. So Ken and Debbie do just that.

0:18:320:18:35

Just pull that downwards?

0:18:350:18:37

Give it a quick snap downwards.

0:18:370:18:38

-PLANT CRUNCHES

-That's it. There you are.

0:18:380:18:41

Meanwhile, back in the farmhouse kitchen, Nick's wife, Joan,

0:18:420:18:45

is ready to show them how to turn their freshly-picked cobs

0:18:450:18:49

into her version of sweet corn chowder.

0:18:490:18:51

Chowder is a kind of thick soup,

0:18:510:18:54

and it's really quick and simple.

0:18:540:18:57

First to get the corn off the cob.

0:18:570:19:00

You sort of have to dig your nail in a bit to grab it.

0:19:000:19:03

-It is quite tough, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:19:030:19:05

You have to give it a bit of a wiggle.

0:19:050:19:08

What we're going to do now is cut these off.

0:19:080:19:10

So I've never done one of these before,

0:19:100:19:13

so anything can happen.

0:19:130:19:14

Ken puts chopped onion, celery and some butter into the microwave

0:19:140:19:18

to soften for three minutes.

0:19:180:19:20

This then goes into a pan,

0:19:200:19:22

and Joan add some flour to make a roux-based sauce.

0:19:220:19:27

Try and avoid burning it.

0:19:270:19:29

Don't be afraid to take it off if it's getting too hot.

0:19:290:19:33

In a separate pan,

0:19:330:19:35

diced squash and potato is cooked in milk and seasoned with thyme.

0:19:350:19:38

These are then added to the roux base,

0:19:380:19:40

stirring to prevent lumps.

0:19:400:19:42

There we are. See it start looking really creamy?

0:19:420:19:45

Smells lovely.

0:19:450:19:47

It's seasoned with half a teaspoon of celery salt.

0:19:470:19:49

So if you can't get that?

0:19:490:19:51

-Could you use...just ordinary salt?

-Just ordinary salt, yes.

0:19:510:19:54

And, lastly, in goes the sweetcorn.

0:19:540:19:56

-Just put that in slowly?

-No, just put it in.

0:19:560:19:59

-Put it all in?

-Yeah.

0:19:590:20:00

Joan likes to stop cooking her chowder

0:20:020:20:04

before the corn loses its crunch.

0:20:040:20:06

Right. I think that's done.

0:20:070:20:09

But what will Debbie make

0:20:110:20:12

of her first-ever taste of cooked sweetcorn?

0:20:120:20:15

I like the sweetcorn. I think you've converted me.

0:20:150:20:18

-Good!

-THEY CHUCKLE

0:20:180:20:19

So I'll be having some of this when I get home?

0:20:190:20:22

-Yeah. Yeah, you will, actually.

-Good.

0:20:220:20:24

And you can cook it!

0:20:240:20:25

THEY LAUGH

0:20:250:20:26

Our second house is located in the village of Wetheringsett,

0:20:310:20:35

eight miles north-east of the town of Stowmarket

0:20:350:20:38

and five miles north-west of the large village of Debenham.

0:20:380:20:42

Debenham offers facilities such as a fish and chip shop,

0:20:420:20:45

a butcher's and a pub.

0:20:450:20:47

Its church has evidence of Norman and even Saxon work

0:20:470:20:50

on the lower reaches of the bell tower,

0:20:500:20:53

which gives what's considered one of the most mellow rings in the county.

0:20:530:20:57

Five miles away, back in Wetheringsett,

0:20:570:21:00

the All Saints Church was almost entirely rebuilt

0:21:000:21:03

in the second half of the 15th century.

0:21:030:21:06

What's believed to be the oldest surviving house in this village

0:21:060:21:09

is a short stroll away.

0:21:090:21:11

So what we're looking at here is house number two.

0:21:130:21:17

-Right.

-OK.

-It's different.

0:21:170:21:19

Where am I going to park my motor home?

0:21:190:21:21

Can you see the telephone box just there?

0:21:210:21:23

-Yeah.

-There is an entrance?

-Yeah.

0:21:230:21:25

That leads to a huge double garage,

0:21:250:21:28

and enough space outside of that garage to park your motor home.

0:21:280:21:32

-Sounds good.

-That sounds better.

0:21:320:21:34

The house itself is end-of-terrace.

0:21:340:21:37

Right. We'd have to think about that.

0:21:370:21:39

That's something we'd have to think about.

0:21:390:21:41

I know that's something you're not fans of,

0:21:410:21:43

being attached to someone. But are you willing to give it a go?

0:21:430:21:45

-Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

-Wait and see.

0:21:450:21:47

-Let's go and see what the inside has to offer.

-Right.

-OK.

0:21:470:21:51

Arranged over three floors, this property

0:21:510:21:53

dates back to the 16th century

0:21:530:21:56

and has retained its historic character and period features,

0:21:560:22:00

whilst offering generous living spaces.

0:22:000:22:02

-What do you think?

-Wow! Very nice.

0:22:030:22:06

It comes across so much older internally

0:22:060:22:09

than it looks from the outside.

0:22:090:22:11

Well, come into the living room.

0:22:110:22:14

Have a look at this.

0:22:160:22:17

Very characteristic. Very cosy.

0:22:170:22:19

-Is it listed?

-It is. Grade II listed.

0:22:190:22:22

And you've got these little sections.

0:22:220:22:24

The current family use this as a playroom.

0:22:240:22:27

Very different to us, isn't it?

0:22:270:22:29

Yeah. Yeah. It's making you think what you could do with it.

0:22:290:22:33

This is open-plan living.

0:22:330:22:35

There's gaps through all the timber work.

0:22:350:22:37

I love the beams.

0:22:370:22:39

Not too dark, not too imposing. No, really, really nice.

0:22:390:22:43

Now, Debs. One of your big requests was a kitchen-diner.

0:22:430:22:46

That's what I'm going to show you next.

0:22:460:22:48

I think this is what you'd call a proper country kitchen-diner.

0:22:560:23:00

This is...

0:23:000:23:01

This is probably something you'd see in the movies.

0:23:010:23:04

-I mean, unbelievable.

-Wow!

0:23:040:23:06

You said you both want to do more cooking together.

0:23:060:23:08

Is this the kind of kitchen you can imagine doing that in?

0:23:080:23:11

I was just going to say, actually,

0:23:110:23:13

you could do the cooking and I could sit there and watch.

0:23:130:23:15

-OK, right!

-That's why she wanted a kitchen-diner -

0:23:150:23:18

the diner bit for her, the kitchen bit for you.

0:23:180:23:20

To watch me cook.

0:23:200:23:21

It has got that wow factor.

0:23:210:23:23

-This is almost your show kitchen.

-Yeah.

0:23:230:23:25

You've got a really nice-sized utility

0:23:250:23:27

that comes with this kitchen,

0:23:270:23:29

with all your washing machine, your fridge.

0:23:290:23:31

Everything is kind of hidden away.

0:23:310:23:32

I think, in a way, I feel kind of quite emotional with it, really,

0:23:320:23:35

cos it has really blown me away a little bit, again.

0:23:350:23:38

I think when you take on a house like this,

0:23:380:23:40

you take on the responsibility, the history,

0:23:400:23:43

and you've got to maintain that

0:23:430:23:45

and you've got to keep it within character.

0:23:450:23:48

I know you're a little overwhelmed. Let's go and see the upstairs.

0:23:480:23:52

I'm not sure Ken and Debbie know

0:23:520:23:54

quite what to make of this period property.

0:23:540:23:57

On the ground floor, there are two staircases.

0:23:570:24:00

The first leads to a double bedroom and a family bathroom.

0:24:000:24:04

The layout is such that Ken and Debbie could choose to use this

0:24:040:24:08

as their master suite.

0:24:080:24:09

Next to it, more stairs lead to the top floor,

0:24:110:24:13

where the largest bedroom, with its own walk-in wardrobe, is located.

0:24:130:24:18

Alternatively, the second staircase on the ground floor

0:24:180:24:22

leads off the kitchen,

0:24:220:24:24

giving a further option for their master suite.

0:24:240:24:27

All you've got on this side of the house, above the kitchen,

0:24:270:24:30

-is this bedroom.

-Yeah.

0:24:300:24:32

Plus a bathroom, which is almost an en-suite.

0:24:320:24:34

En-suite, yeah.

0:24:340:24:36

So, it's its own private living quarter, really.

0:24:360:24:39

Looking at storage, where you'd put clothing and stuff like that,

0:24:390:24:43

is it practical?

0:24:430:24:44

I think this is only practical to put your day-to-day things in,

0:24:440:24:48

just here, on the window seat, if you'd turn that into storage.

0:24:480:24:52

Ideal office?

0:24:520:24:54

It could be an office up here.

0:24:540:24:55

-Absolutely. It's got a bathroom, so...

-Yeah.

0:24:550:24:58

-I think it's quite flexible.

-Yeah.

0:24:580:25:00

'It seems our couple love the character here,

0:25:010:25:03

'but are still puzzling over

0:25:030:25:05

'whether the quirky layout would work for them.

0:25:050:25:08

'Outside is more straightforward,

0:25:080:25:10

'with an enclosed, good-sized, rear garden mainly laid to lawn.'

0:25:100:25:14

Very low-maintenance, so Ken can run the lawnmower round it.

0:25:150:25:18

And ideal for the dogs. It's big enough for them to have a run round.

0:25:180:25:21

The question now is, how much will this property set you back?

0:25:210:25:25

I think, because it's semidetached this time, 385?

0:25:250:25:30

-OK.

-I'm going to go with a little bit more.

0:25:300:25:36

I'm going to go 395 again.

0:25:360:25:38

-It is currently on the market for £365,000.

-Right, right.

0:25:380:25:44

-Something to think about, isn't it?

-Mmm.

-Yeah.

0:25:440:25:46

-Go and have another look around.

-Yep.

-Will do.

0:25:460:25:49

-Lovely.

-Thank you.

-And I'll see you in a bit.

-OK.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:25:490:25:52

I've really confuse matters, haven't I?

0:25:520:25:54

But it's great to give them options,

0:25:540:25:56

and I'm glad they're having a think about it.

0:25:560:25:59

£35,000 below their budget,

0:26:000:26:02

this listed 16th-century end terrace

0:26:020:26:05

gives Debbie that kitchen-dining space she craves.

0:26:050:26:09

There are three bedrooms, all large enough to be masters, while outside,

0:26:090:26:13

there's parking for the motor home and a dog-friendly garden.

0:26:130:26:16

Right. That's a nice garage.

0:26:180:26:20

Yeah. Yeah.

0:26:200:26:22

That'd be big enough to park the motor home and keep it there.

0:26:220:26:25

You just about get it up the side of the houses,

0:26:250:26:28

but I think that's fine for parking.

0:26:280:26:30

I'm actually quite speechless with this house, to be honest with you.

0:26:300:26:34

I'm not really 100% sure what to make of it.

0:26:340:26:37

I just find it so enchanting,

0:26:370:26:38

so I am really, really mixed up about this house.

0:26:380:26:41

Could I get my head around being semidetached?

0:26:410:26:44

I'm not 100% sure on that.

0:26:440:26:46

So, I'd really have to have a long, hard think.

0:26:460:26:49

But there's so many pluses.

0:26:490:26:51

I love the kitchen, the quirkiness of it.

0:26:510:26:54

I wasn't sure what to make the bedrooms,

0:26:540:26:57

because they are kind of all over the house,

0:26:570:26:59

but on the second floor, we could really open that up,

0:26:590:27:02

so there is lots of potential to do here, and lots to think about.

0:27:020:27:06

It is a contender for me.

0:27:060:27:08

I can just imagine this, probably at Christmas time,

0:27:080:27:11

it would be very, very homely.

0:27:110:27:14

Some areas of the house I didn't find very practical to live in.

0:27:140:27:18

You're limited in what you can do.

0:27:180:27:20

I think you've got to keep the character of the house.

0:27:200:27:23

Storage is limited on what you've got in the bedrooms.

0:27:230:27:27

Whether it's for me, maybe for Debbie,

0:27:270:27:31

but it is a lovely, lovely house.

0:27:310:27:34

I really have made you think about what you want

0:27:340:27:37

-from a property, haven't I?

-Very confused.

-Yes.

-Makes you think.

0:27:370:27:40

But I have to give you options.

0:27:400:27:42

The good news is I'm not giving you any more today.

0:27:420:27:44

So, we can go and relax.

0:27:440:27:46

Husband and wife Ken and Debbie,

0:27:580:28:00

from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, are downsizing,

0:28:000:28:02

with £400,000 to find a slower pace of life in Suffolk.

0:28:020:28:07

We've shown them two very different houses

0:28:070:28:10

that could give them the new, more rural base they're after.

0:28:100:28:13

But there's still the mystery house to see,

0:28:130:28:16

which may well split opinion.

0:28:160:28:17

That is something I wanted to do at home, and she said, "No!

0:28:170:28:21

"No TV in the bathroom," but I think it's a good idea.

0:28:210:28:23

'And I'm putting my nose to the grindstone

0:28:230:28:26

'at a working tide mill.'

0:28:260:28:28

-So, this is a big start button?

-This is the big start button!

0:28:280:28:32

All right. Shall we do it?

0:28:320:28:33

-Oh... I fear you...

-Ha!

0:28:330:28:35

-..might be doing most of the hard work.

-I think so!

0:28:350:28:38

Our first two properties were very different in terms of age and style,

0:28:400:28:45

and I think that's helping Debbie and Ken figure out

0:28:450:28:47

what type of house they really want to live in,

0:28:470:28:50

but there's no need to make a decision just yet,

0:28:500:28:52

because, today, we show them the mystery house.

0:28:520:28:55

It's certainly got plenty of style.

0:28:550:28:57

The question is - will its grand design charm them?

0:28:570:29:01

When we started this process,

0:29:040:29:06

Ken, you were up for perhaps putting a bit of work in,

0:29:060:29:10

-but I sensed you were going Debbie's way yesterday.

-Yes, yes.

0:29:100:29:14

All the houses we've ever had,

0:29:140:29:16

I've, er, developed and refurbished them.

0:29:160:29:20

And then, yesterday, when I walked into the first house

0:29:200:29:23

that everything was done, there was this calmness come over me,

0:29:230:29:26

which I've never had before

0:29:260:29:28

when we've gone into a property, looking at it, and I thought, "Wow!

0:29:280:29:32

"Do you really want to refurbish another property?"

0:29:320:29:35

So, er...it's over my eyes, this, er, two houses.

0:29:350:29:40

What are you both expecting from the mystery house,

0:29:400:29:44

-wanting from the mystery house?

-I'm expecting it's going

0:29:440:29:47

to be my biggest nightmare, the renovating job,

0:29:470:29:50

because we haven't really seen anything like that at the moment.

0:29:500:29:53

I don't know, I'm quite excited to find out, really.

0:29:530:29:55

The mystery house is in the village of Woolpit,

0:30:010:30:04

12 miles northwest of Stowmarket,

0:30:040:30:06

and 10½ miles east of Bury St Edmunds.

0:30:060:30:10

With many facilities reflecting its status

0:30:100:30:13

as the main cultural and retail centre of West Suffolk,

0:30:130:30:16

Bury St Edmunds is a pleasant market town.

0:30:160:30:20

The 14th-century gate abbey gate,

0:30:200:30:22

once a secular entrance for servants,

0:30:220:30:24

leads to formal gardens and the cathedral.

0:30:240:30:28

Around ten miles away is Woolpit,

0:30:280:30:30

where the village sign harks back to a strange 12th-century legend

0:30:300:30:34

of two local children who, it's said, would eat nothing but beans.

0:30:340:30:38

With a little over 2,000 residents,

0:30:400:30:42

there's an interesting museum, bakery and pub,

0:30:420:30:45

whilst the church features fine flush work,

0:30:450:30:48

part of the perpendicular style of gothic architecture.

0:30:480:30:53

'The mystery house is located on a road leading out of the village,

0:30:530:30:57

'backing onto open countryside.'

0:30:570:30:59

What do you think of the mystery house?

0:30:590:31:01

Wow, completely different to the first two.

0:31:010:31:04

-A very modern property, I think you'll agree.

-Yeah.

-Definitely.

0:31:040:31:07

Yeah, I like the entrance, the modern doors,

0:31:070:31:10

-and the coloured window frames.

-I did say I would like modern.

0:31:100:31:13

Nothing to do. Off we go.

0:31:130:31:15

'This detached home was bought as a chalet-bungalow ten years ago

0:31:160:31:20

'by the current owners, who are interior designers.

0:31:200:31:23

'They completely remodelled outside and in.

0:31:230:31:27

'A small lobby leads straight into a large living room.'

0:31:270:31:31

-Wow.

-Wow.

0:31:310:31:33

It feels more spacious in here than it looks from standing outside.

0:31:330:31:38

These are oak floors from the local area.

0:31:380:31:41

-Don't miss the fireplace.

-No!

-Yeah, yeah.

0:31:410:31:44

-Real fire, an open fire.

-Wow!

0:31:440:31:47

-I know your eye's drawn towards the kitchen.

-I know, I know.

0:31:470:31:50

So let's head that way.

0:31:500:31:51

Oh, that's nice.

0:31:570:31:58

-Very nice. Very nice.

-That's the kitchen I've been looking for.

0:31:580:32:01

It's a high-spec German kitchen, actually.

0:32:010:32:04

I don't think there's much missing.

0:32:040:32:05

You can eat over there on the breakfast bar,

0:32:050:32:07

or you've got the dining room just here.

0:32:070:32:09

So you've got eating options both sides.

0:32:090:32:11

I like the breakfast bar part of the kitchen.

0:32:110:32:14

-Yeah.

-Look at those bi-folds.

-Yeah, that's lovely.

-Lovely.

-Yeah.

0:32:140:32:17

Flows in really nicely, from the kitchen into the conservatory area.

0:32:170:32:22

Now, that may look like the back of the house, but there's more.

0:32:220:32:26

-Oh, right!

-Follow me.

0:32:260:32:28

'Running alongside the kitchen is a ground floor bedroom,

0:32:280:32:32

'wet room and a utility space

0:32:320:32:35

'that leads into another very big room which should appeal to Ken.'

0:32:350:32:39

Wow!

0:32:400:32:42

A man cave! And just like my snooker table.

0:32:420:32:45

I used to have my office in my snooker room,

0:32:450:32:49

so walking in here, it just... Yeah, it just takes me back.

0:32:490:32:52

-Home from home, then, aren't you?

-Yeah!

0:32:520:32:54

It's been done to a very high spec.

0:32:540:32:56

-Tempted?

-Yes, I... I'm tempted by all three.

0:32:560:33:02

It's going to take a lot of talking over, I think, this is.

0:33:020:33:07

-Shall we head upstairs?

-Yes.

0:33:070:33:09

'So far, this looks like another contender for Ken and Debbie.

0:33:110:33:15

'As we had upstairs, we find contemporary style is

0:33:150:33:19

'taken to a whole new level.'

0:33:190:33:21

Have a look at the bathroom.

0:33:210:33:23

That is fantastic.

0:33:230:33:25

Real mother-of-pearl tiles. A TV.

0:33:250:33:27

That is something I wanted to do at home and she said, "No!

0:33:270:33:30

-"No TV in the bathroom."

-Really?

-But I think it's a good idea.

0:33:300:33:34

'There are two further bedrooms on this floor,

0:33:340:33:37

'a good-sized double and an even more spacious master.'

0:33:370:33:41

Lovely room, lovely-sized room.

0:33:420:33:44

I like the colour of the floor. This works very well, very well.

0:33:440:33:47

Very nice, yeah. A lot to think about, a lot to ponder on still.

0:33:470:33:50

Well, let's go and take in the garden.

0:33:500:33:53

See the house from the other side, and then we can discuss place.

0:33:530:33:55

-Lovely. Great.

-All right.

0:33:550:33:57

'Outside, there's plenty of parking for Ken and Debbie's motor home,

0:34:000:34:05

'whilst a fenced easy-to-keep rear garden

0:34:050:34:08

'offers secluded seating areas.'

0:34:080:34:10

How would this garden work for you?

0:34:100:34:12

Nice size. Not overlooked.

0:34:120:34:15

-Not too much lawn to mow, have you?

-No.

0:34:150:34:18

Nice patio area.

0:34:180:34:19

Room for the dogs.

0:34:190:34:21

Let's discuss money. How much is this design house on the market for?

0:34:210:34:27

I would say it's going to be top end of our budget, so I'd say 425.

0:34:270:34:32

I was going to say almost the same,

0:34:320:34:34

so I think I would go in at 420.

0:34:340:34:37

OK. It is on the market for exactly £425,000,

0:34:370:34:42

so we would need the very, very top of your budget.

0:34:420:34:46

-Right, OK.

-Are you reaching for your cheque book?

0:34:460:34:49

I think I might have to sit down

0:34:490:34:51

and have a little discussion with you.

0:34:510:34:53

-Have another look around.

-OK, thank you.

0:34:530:34:55

-And I'll see you in a bit.

-OK.

-Bye.

0:34:550:34:56

I'm glad I've surprised them with this house,

0:34:590:35:02

but I have a feeling it might be that little bit TOO modern for them.

0:35:020:35:08

But let's see.

0:35:080:35:09

Although this is £25,000 over budget,

0:35:100:35:14

they have said they could stretch themselves

0:35:140:35:16

for the right property,

0:35:160:35:18

and this detached Uber-modern home

0:35:180:35:20

does deliver on that large kitchen/diner.

0:35:200:35:23

There are three bedrooms

0:35:230:35:25

plus a luxurious wet room and bathroom.

0:35:250:35:28

The fenced garden is private and perfect for the dogs,

0:35:280:35:32

and there's off-road parking for the motor home.

0:35:320:35:35

I really love this house. The kitchen/diner is just me to a T.

0:35:350:35:39

The garden is absolutely wonderful,

0:35:390:35:41

bringing the outside in as well, with the bi-folding doors.

0:35:410:35:45

Just absolutely superb.

0:35:450:35:47

Although I'm looking for modern, is too modern for me?

0:35:470:35:50

Maybe I feel I could be too old for this house, maybe.

0:35:500:35:54

But we shall see. We'll see.

0:35:540:35:56

The kitchen is a definite plus. The garden is a plus.

0:35:560:36:00

Um, the snooker room and bathroom areas, they are a plus.

0:36:000:36:04

The modern design could be a minus for us,

0:36:040:36:09

but for someone else, it would be a plus.

0:36:090:36:11

The interior design is fantastic.

0:36:110:36:14

Their taste - what they've set out to do -

0:36:140:36:16

I think they've achieved in this property.

0:36:160:36:18

Choices, choices, choices!

0:36:200:36:22

-Ponder, ponder, ponder!

-LAUGHTER

0:36:220:36:25

-Tea, tea, tea?

-Yes!

-Let's go and get a cuppa.

0:36:250:36:28

With its coastline along the North Sea,

0:36:330:36:36

Suffolk boasts many tidal rivers.

0:36:360:36:39

As well as providing a picturesque haven for wildlife and sailors,

0:36:390:36:43

their tidal power has been harnessed for milling since medieval times.

0:36:430:36:48

Today, I'm visiting a rare Grade I listed

0:36:480:36:51

18th-century working tide mill,

0:36:510:36:53

located on the banks of the Deben Estuary, where Nigel Barratt, one of

0:36:530:36:58

the volunteers keeping this building alive and open to the public,

0:36:580:37:01

has offered to give me a tour.

0:37:010:37:04

What's so special about this mill?

0:37:040:37:06

There are now only, so far as we're aware,

0:37:060:37:09

three working mills left in Europe and this country.

0:37:090:37:14

-So does this work?

-How does it work?

0:37:140:37:16

Well, all tide mills work by storing the water in a reservoir.

0:37:160:37:22

As the tide comes in, it fills the pond,

0:37:220:37:24

then, as the tide goes out, the water's trapped in the pond.

0:37:240:37:28

We open the sluice gates, water pours out at a great pressure

0:37:280:37:33

and that pressure can turn the wheel.

0:37:330:37:34

'The original seven-acre millpond would've worked the mill for

0:37:350:37:39

'four to five hours, producing up to half a tonne of flour each hour.

0:37:390:37:43

'It's now a marina and the new much smaller pond

0:37:430:37:47

'provides just half an hour of action at a time.

0:37:470:37:50

'Luckily, I'm here as the wheels are about to be set in motion.'

0:37:500:37:54

There we go.

0:37:540:37:56

-So this is the big start button, really?

-This is a big start button.

0:37:560:38:00

-Yes, that's right.

-All right. Shall we do it?

-Shall we do it?

0:38:000:38:03

-How heavy is this?

-It's quite heavy.

-OK.

0:38:030:38:05

-I feel you...

-Ha!

-..might be doing most of the hard work.

-I think so.

0:38:050:38:09

-Dave?

-Dave, you may need to help us.

-You haven't jammed it, have you?

0:38:090:38:12

-No.

-OK.

-I think we need to...

0:38:120:38:14

-Oh, gosh!

-Maybe I'll move out the way!

0:38:140:38:17

That's it.

0:38:170:38:19

I clearly was no help.

0:38:190:38:20

'I have some way to go to make a miller,

0:38:220:38:24

'but this centuries-old mechanism is as efficient as ever.'

0:38:240:38:27

Oh, my gosh.

0:38:290:38:30

-And we're already getting flour?

-We're already getting flour.

0:38:300:38:34

I'm just so impressed at how instantly it came out.

0:38:340:38:37

'It all starts with the waterwheel,

0:38:380:38:40

'which, via cogs, rotates a central shaft.

0:38:400:38:43

'This causes a nut above to turn the millstones,

0:38:430:38:46

'which then grinds the flour.

0:38:460:38:48

'But the waterwheel is also used to power a hoist,

0:38:480:38:52

'taking the wheat grain to the upper levels of the mill,

0:38:520:38:55

'where the flour-making process begins.

0:38:550:38:57

'With the grain being filled,

0:38:580:39:00

'a simple shutter is opened, putting gravity to work...'

0:39:000:39:03

-So I just put that out?

-Just pull that out.

0:39:030:39:06

'..as the grain flows down a chute towards the winding mechanism.'

0:39:060:39:10

So we've now charged the hopper with grain and it'll be agitated

0:39:100:39:15

-by the damsel into the eye of the stone.

-That's called a damsel?!

0:39:150:39:19

Legend has it that they started calling it a damsel,

0:39:190:39:22

because, when it's operating, it never stops chattering.

0:39:220:39:26

-Sorry about that!

-Like all the world's greatest woman.

0:39:260:39:28

Sorry about that.

0:39:280:39:30

'After the damsel has done its work controlling the flow of grain

0:39:310:39:35

'and coarseness of grind, it falls to the millstones.

0:39:350:39:39

'Unlike modern roller milling,

0:39:390:39:40

'which can separate the germ from the flour,

0:39:400:39:42

'stone grinding retains the germ and the husk,

0:39:420:39:45

'creating a higher-protein wholegrain product.'

0:39:450:39:49

And this is the finished flour. And doesn't it look mighty fine?

0:39:490:39:54

-Ha-ha!

-You've got the bits of bran. You can see it.

-You can see, yes!

0:39:540:39:57

This is ideal for baking bread.

0:39:570:40:00

I like them.

0:40:000:40:01

Because this is high in protein, actually you can get a better rise, and it gives a very good result.

0:40:010:40:06

Nigel, as it's been brilliant to actually see

0:40:060:40:09

the stone-ground process.

0:40:090:40:11

-Yes.

-Thank you so much.

-Thank you.

0:40:110:40:14

Debbie and Ken are in a great position.

0:40:200:40:22

They like all three of our properties

0:40:220:40:24

and each of them has most of the elements they've asked for.

0:40:240:40:27

So now it's just a case of figuring out which one suits them the most.

0:40:270:40:30

Let's see if they've been able to make a decision.

0:40:300:40:33

So, what have you decided?

0:40:390:40:41

Because, in a way, you quite liked all three houses, didn't you?

0:40:410:40:46

We did, very much, didn't we?

0:40:460:40:48

It was quite a hard decision that we've come to.

0:40:480:40:51

I think we've more or less decided on house number one.

0:40:510:40:55

I think house number one still ticks most of the boxes that we want.

0:40:550:41:00

Is it the common that sold it to you?

0:41:000:41:02

Because that's such an amazing feature.

0:41:020:41:05

I think so, because it was beautiful views from the front

0:41:050:41:08

and also beautiful views from the back.

0:41:080:41:10

And where it was situated, it was just fantastic, wasn't it?

0:41:100:41:13

Yeah. They kept the house in character with Suffolk.

0:41:130:41:16

Showing us three houses, it's shown me that I actually like

0:41:160:41:20

the traditional contemporary style.

0:41:200:41:22

I walked in house number one and I felt relaxed.

0:41:220:41:25

With house number one, will you want to

0:41:250:41:28

put on an extension to the kitchen to turn into a kitchen-diner?

0:41:280:41:32

Is that something you're still looking to do?

0:41:320:41:34

I think it would need an extension on the kitchen

0:41:340:41:37

to get my sought-after kitchen-diner that I've really hankered after,

0:41:370:41:41

so that would be a good plus for us, wouldn't it?

0:41:410:41:44

-Yeah, the...

-Also, a little bit of renovation for him there,

0:41:440:41:47

-so he's getting that out of it.

-He's got that fix.

0:41:470:41:49

We're sort of compromising that way, both getting a bit of what we want.

0:41:490:41:53

Well, it sounds like you're ready to put an offer in.

0:41:530:41:56

Well, we'd like to go back and have a look

0:41:560:41:59

at house number one, definitely.

0:41:590:42:01

It was like a piece of string and we were at two opposite ends,

0:42:010:42:04

and we've come to the middle and we're in agreement on house number one.

0:42:040:42:10

Fingers crossed all goes well and we'll hear some good news soon.

0:42:100:42:14

-Thank you.

-Thank you very much.

0:42:140:42:17

Well, what a lovely, productive couple of days of house-hunting

0:42:200:42:24

in this rather picturesque county.

0:42:240:42:26

Debbie and Ken liked all three of our properties,

0:42:260:42:29

even though they're quite different.

0:42:290:42:31

In the end, it's easy to see why they've decided to pursue house number one,

0:42:310:42:35

and we wish them the very best of luck with their plan

0:42:350:42:38

to start a slightly slower pace of life here in Suffolk.

0:42:380:42:42

See you next time on Escape To The Country.

0:42:420:42:44

Ken and Debbie are still interested in the first house we showed them

0:42:460:42:49

and are planning to arrange a second viewing

0:42:490:42:52

as the sale of their own house progresses.

0:42:520:42:54

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:42:540:42:56

in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or England and need our help,

0:42:560:43:00

please apply online at...

0:43:000:43:02

Sonali Shah is helping a couple from Essex who have a £400,000 budget to find some rural respite in the Suffolk countryside.

Sonali also opens tidal gates and grinds some flour when she visits the country's last working tide mill.