Property series. Sonali Shah is helping a couple from Essex who have a Â£400,000 budget to find some rural respite in the Suffolk countryside.
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500 years ago, locals transformed this quiet village church
into a towering landmark, with cathedral-like proportions.
Find out where it is and where the money to do it came from
in just a few moments.
Today's house-hunting couple
are wearing their hearts on their sleeve.
Lovely. It's a me room.
Is it a Ken room, a Ken house, yet?
And the character of our properties
brings out ever-more dramatic reactions.
This is probably something you'd see in the movies.
-I mean, unbelievable.
Today, I'm in Suffolk,
and this is the magnificent church of St Peter and St Paul in Lavenham.
From the 14th to the 16th century,
this village was the centre of Suffolk's wool trade.
At the height of its prosperity,
local merchants were keen to show off their wealth,
so they funded the building of this impressive nave and flint tower,
which rises up to more than 140 feet.
Lavenham's cloth and wool-making status
crumbled away in the 17th century,
but preserving its architecture is a cause celebre these days.
This church, and more than 300 other listed buildings here,
are an enduring reminder of those boom years.
Located in East Anglia,
Suffolk is bordered by the North Sea to the east
and shares land borders with Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.
-The county's Heritage coastline stretches for
over fine golden sands and pebble beaches.
Seaside towns include Southwold,
with its rows of iconic, brightly-coloured beach huts
built in the 1960s.
Several tidal rivers running out to the North Sea
make for many fascinating places to explore by boat.
Arthur Ransome, the author
of the well-known children's series Swallows And Amazons,
sailed and kept a boat here.
And he set the books We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea
and Secret Water in the area.
Inland, the unique, low-lying landscape around Dedham Vale
inspired one of the country's most famous landscape painters,
John Constable, to paint some of his most well-known works.
Pretty market towns include Bury St Edmunds.
Originally designed on a grid system
by monks of the abbey in the 11th century,
it offers an intriguing combination of medieval architecture,
elegant Georgian squares and a cathedral.
So, whether it's coast, countryside
or ecclesiastical architecture you're after,
Suffolk is a wonderful place to plan an escape to.
The Suffolk property market offers good value for money
when you consider that the average cost of a detached home here
is £275,000, just under £10,000 below the national figure.
However, there are hot spots to the south of the county,
such as the well-connected villages of East Bergholt and Nayland.
In seaside resorts like Southwold and Aldeburgh,
you could pay double the national average for a coastal property.
Luckily, the picture does become more affordable
as you head north, towards the Norfolk Borders.
So, which part of the Suffolk countryside
do today's buyers want to settle in?
Let's meet them.
Ken and Debbie, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex,
first met as teenagers 36 years ago.
My friend asked for my opinion
on a girl that worked in the hairdresser's.
And he pointed her out and I said, "Yeah, she's a nice-looking girl."
He kept coming in for a haircut -
more than when he needed it, really and truly -
so we got attracted to each other and the rest is history, really.
It's, like, 31 years.
-Am I right on that one?
31 years married, five years courting.
Kids came along, and they soon found the demands of juggling family life,
as well as Ken's insulation business in Tilbury,
didn't leave much time for anything else.
Our current lifestyle is very busy.
You're always looking at the calendar,
and, before you know it, it's nearly Christmas again.
I'm sure a year goes quicker when you're running a business.
Now the kids have left and Ken and Debbie are finding their large home
is just one more demand on their time and budget.
We've now realised this place is just too big for us.
50%, maybe 60% of the property we're not using,
but we have to go round and run it, maintain it and keep on top of it.
Get something that I can do my housework in about one day
instead of three days.
Something smaller. Get it done and off we go.
The only way you're going to get time is to make the time,
and it's to make difficult decisions,
cos you don't know what's around the corner.
You've got to live for today, really, sometimes,
-if you can afford to do it, and that's what we want to do.
Added to the demands put on them
by the size of their current house and mortgage
are the stresses of living in an area
popular with commuters and London day-trippers.
As the summer holidays come along, it gets very busy. Very busy.
It is really a commuter area.
You've got lots of people working in the banks and insurance industry
in the City, who travel from here into London.
Everything seems to be rushed,
and what I really want is that amount of time
to do things in my own time, and enjoy them.
The best way to free themselves up
is a move to more rural and affordable surroundings.
We're going to get away from the rat race of living where we are now,
off-load our mortgage so that we haven't got that worry any more,
and really start to unwind and start to enjoy life.
We're looking to move to Suffolk,
because it's... well, just a nice, pretty county.
What we've seen so far is the picturesque villages.
The lifestyle seems a lot slower.
We'd like to be part of that, and, er...
and it's not that far away.
We was always travelling through Suffolk, and we said,
"Right, this would be about the perfect distance to be."
-We can visit, and they can visit us.
They hope a less hectic pace will give them a better quality of life.
I'm really looking forward to the wildlife side of things,
from taking the dogs for long walks and, all of a sudden,
you'll stumble upon a little pub
and it's, "Ooh, let's go and have a drink,"
or, "Let's have a bit of lunch."
I'm looking to join a golf club and be playing at least once a week,
and really look forward to that, and get me handicap down.
But, most of all, they want to enjoy each other's company.
We want to spend more time together, and I feel that this move
is going to give us the option to do that.
I'd like to think that this is going to give me a lot more time with Deb.
It's turning a page, and starting another chapter.
-Quite exciting, isn't it?
-I find that really exciting.
Ken and Debbie have asked us to concentrate our search
around the towns of Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket,
close to road links back to Essex,
but before we start looking at houses,
I'm meeting them in the county to get a clearer understanding
of what they want from their country relocation.
-Welcome to Suffolk.
-What attracted you to this area?
The history, the houses and the slower pace of life here.
We often drive through with the motor home,
when we're going to holiday in Norfolk,
and we just really like the county.
And it's not too far from where you currently are, either, is it?
No. It's about an hour.
Yeah. We still can nip back to visit family.
I may have two go into work two or three days a week,
so it's not a major commute.
Tell me about the house that you're looking for.
What would you like it to look like?
We're both looking for different houses, I think.
-Ah-ha! DEBBIE LAUGHS
And Debbie would like it all done.
I don't mind a little bit of renovating,
but I obviously mean by that wallpaper and new bits and pieces,
so I don't really want to start having to build the place again,
or anything like that.
Kitchen-diner, I'm looking for,
or a room to put a large kitchen-diner on.
A nice, sort of... comfortable lounge area
-for retiring in, in the evening.
-Probably three bedrooms would do us.
-Yeah. Three bedrooms.
At least three bedrooms for when the boys,
or the family, come up to stay.
We don't want a large garden,
because we want to be away a lot in the motor home,
but we do need a large front on the property to put the motor home on.
We just want a little garden
that doesn't take us very long to maintain or do.
Shut the back door, lock up the house
and off we go for the weekend. That's the main thing.
What about location?
Where in the county would you like to live?
I think we're looking at North Suffolk.
A rural area, and with close access to the A14
for commuting back to work and visiting.
And remind me of your budget, then?
Our budget is 400,000.
And if we really, really, really fall in love with something
-and it's just right, maybe we could go...
We've got three great properties lined up.
So, let's get cracking.
-Yeah, thank you.
With a budget of £400,000
but some room to stretch for the right property,
Ken and Debbie are looking to downsize,
but still have some important needs from their new country home.
They want a large kitchen-diner, a good-sized lounge
and at least three bedrooms.
They'd like a low-maintenance garden for the dogs,
and off-road parking for their motor home.
Plus, they want good road access
back to friends, family and Ken's business.
We've found three fantastic properties to tempt them with
and, at each one, I'll be asking them to guess the price
before I reveal it.
One, of course, will be our Mystery House,
which could well put a new design on this search.
But first on our agenda is house number one.
So, Debbie, it sounds like you're more ready to slow down than Ken.
-Is that right, Ken?
It's probably going to be a bit more difficult for me to slow down.
How different do you want this home to be to the one
that you are currently living in?
Um, I would like a smaller back garden...
Really, a large kitchen-diner I'm looking for,
cos our kitchen's quite small,
and we are both really looking at getting into cooking together.
Yeah. That's something we'd like to do, a bit more cooking together.
Mindful of the need to remain within reach of Essex,
the first house is located in the village of Barking,
five miles south-east of Stowmarket
and two miles west of Needham Market.
As well as amenities including a post office, and pubs,
Needham Market features a flint church
that dates all the way back to the 15th century
and a Grade II listed old station building, completed in 1849.
Two miles away, back in Barking, the village hall hosts activities
including carpet bowls, an art group and the WI,
after which you could enjoy a drink at the local pub.
At the centre of the village is the tye -
a word for a common, only found in parts of West Suffolk
and adjoining areas of Essex,
and our first house is located right beside it.
The big thing about this property is what's on your doorstep.
-They believe it's the largest village Tye in Suffolk.
There's enough space here for a motor home, isn't there?
Yeah, I'm just looking at that.
We can just about get the motor home in there.
What do you think about the house itself?
The character of the house, they've got that.
And the dormers and the rendering and colour
-is in keeping in the Suffolk area. It's lovely.
Can't wait to get in there and have a good look around, really.
'This detached house was built just a decade ago,
'and our buyers' first impressions are positive.'
So it's a really nice-sized hallway,
which comes straight into this living room.
-Oh, that's a nice room.
I can see meself sitting in here.
-A lot of this is actually done to our taste, as well, isn't it?
Very pleased. Very pleased.
It's a perfect balance -
you've got a lovely view of the common over there,
-and the privacy of the trees and fencing there.
Yeah, lovely. Yeah. It's a "me" room.
Is it a Ken room, a Ken house, yet?
Very close. Very close.
I'll take very close with the first room.
I'll show you the kitchen.
I know. Not the kitchen-diner you wanted.
It is a bit small.
There's really only space
-for a little breakfast table, isn't there?
It's still a nice size.
I don't know if not having a ready kitchen-diner is a deal breaker?
I wouldn't class it as a deal breaker.
I'm just wondering whether perhaps we could...
If there's room to build on, maybe?
I think you could be close to doubling the size of this
-with a conservatory-type extension.
-That would be nice.
-That might be your answer.
-Yeah, that would be nice.
Ken's wasted no time spotting an opportunity
to put his renovating hat on in this house.
There's already a separate dining room on this floor,
as well as a handy downstairs cloakroom.
Stairs take us up to a generous landing
and two double bedrooms with countryside views -
the largest to the front
and another to the rear of the property,
currently being used as a study.
These two bedrooms sandwich a family bathroom.
Then, across the landing,
is a third, good-sized double with its own shower room.
-This is what I want to show you, is the master...
..because there's an en-suite attached.
And nice sets of wardrobes as well.
That's a nice-sized room, actually. It's bigger than I thought it'd be.
It's a lovely room, I like this.
-This is a "me" room!
That is what you'd wake up to every day.
It's lovely. Beautiful. Yeah.
It is a very nice house, and I can see myself living here.
It's not too big, and it would be easy to maintain, and it's just...
Well, let's go and see your garden.
-I'm already calling it "YOUR garden"!
With an overwhelming response to the inside of this house,
let's head outside.
Here, the fenced and gated grounds are private and secure.
There are pleasant seating areas
and a variety of mature shrubs and trees.
What do you think about the size of it?
Yeah, I think that's ideal. I'm not a gardener,
and I don't want to spend too much time in the garden.
I think I could stay on top of this garden with a few hours a year.
The views are lovely, with the decking and the chairs up there.
The views you've got, that's fantastic.
I'm really relaxed out here. It's lovely.
How much is this "lovely" going to cost you?
I'm going to go for 395.
I reckon 420.
It's on the market for...
Ooh. I can understand that.
It's a lovely property in a very nice location.
-Something to ponder on.
-Ponder inside -
have another look around, and I'll meet you at the front.
I think it's ideal for them.
And hopefully they can make it work,
but we, of course, have other properties to see,
so I shouldn't get too excited.
Right on budget,
this detached home has the three bedrooms they've asked for,
and is idyllically located next to a tye,
so benefits from scenic, countryside views.
There's also a low-maintenance garden,
as well as off-road parking for the motor home.
And whilst it may not have the kitchen-diner Debbie wants,
it does have a large living room and separate dining room.
I think this is a lovely view. You've got the view of the common.
I could see me out there, walking the dogs.
Very nice. Lots to think about.
I loved the first property from the moment I saw it.
But I am looking for that large kitchen-diner.
I think, with a little of tweaking, here and there,
we could perhaps make that into my dream kitchen-diner.
Apart from that, everything else works for me.
Marks out of ten?
I would say I'd give this a nine.
I really, really like this house.
The lounge area, very inviting.
I could see myself sitting in there, watching the football on the TV.
And the common opposite the house - that's fantastic.
And it's not that far, really, from the A14, the A12,
for commuting to work. Lovely.
I can't believe how many boxes this has ticked.
I think it's going to take some beating.
I'm so pleased that you love this property.
I love this property!
Very nice. I had trouble getting her out.
-A good start.
-It is a great start, and we've got more to see.
Ken and Debbie hope their slower-paced Suffolk lifestyle
will give them more time to spend cooking together in their new home,
so we've lined up a visit to a farming family,
where they can get a taste of fresh produce,
directly from field to table.
Nick Hardingham moved to the county with his wife
to start a pick-your-own business.
-Hello. Welcome to Alder Carr Farm.
-Good to meet you.
What's the history of the farm?
We came here in 1981.
We were looking to dump our original jobs.
We were 30 acres when we came here
and, over the years, we've expanded up to 50 acres.
What's in season at the moment?
Well, we're still picking quite a few different crops,
but absolutely the best, at the moment, is the sweetcorn.
This is a family affair, so it's over to Nick's son-in-law, Barry,
to check out this year's crop of corn.
This is sweetcorn. You know it's ready
cos it's got a brown tassel on the top,
and if I just open this up, I'll let you try some.
-Do you like sweetcorn?
-Yeah. I do.
-I've never tasted it, so, this is new for me.
If you want to try a piece of this and see what you think.
-Straight off the plant.
It'll be very, very sweet. It's absolutely beautiful.
This is a pick-your-own. So Ken and Debbie do just that.
Just pull that downwards?
Give it a quick snap downwards.
-That's it. There you are.
Meanwhile, back in the farmhouse kitchen, Nick's wife, Joan,
is ready to show them how to turn their freshly-picked cobs
into her version of sweet corn chowder.
Chowder is a kind of thick soup,
and it's really quick and simple.
First to get the corn off the cob.
You sort of have to dig your nail in a bit to grab it.
-It is quite tough, isn't it?
You have to give it a bit of a wiggle.
What we're going to do now is cut these off.
So I've never done one of these before,
so anything can happen.
Ken puts chopped onion, celery and some butter into the microwave
to soften for three minutes.
This then goes into a pan,
and Joan add some flour to make a roux-based sauce.
Try and avoid burning it.
Don't be afraid to take it off if it's getting too hot.
In a separate pan,
diced squash and potato is cooked in milk and seasoned with thyme.
These are then added to the roux base,
stirring to prevent lumps.
There we are. See it start looking really creamy?
It's seasoned with half a teaspoon of celery salt.
So if you can't get that?
-Could you use...just ordinary salt?
-Just ordinary salt, yes.
And, lastly, in goes the sweetcorn.
-Just put that in slowly?
-No, just put it in.
-Put it all in?
Joan likes to stop cooking her chowder
before the corn loses its crunch.
Right. I think that's done.
But what will Debbie make
of her first-ever taste of cooked sweetcorn?
I like the sweetcorn. I think you've converted me.
So I'll be having some of this when I get home?
-Yeah. Yeah, you will, actually.
And you can cook it!
Our second house is located in the village of Wetheringsett,
eight miles north-east of the town of Stowmarket
and five miles north-west of the large village of Debenham.
Debenham offers facilities such as a fish and chip shop,
a butcher's and a pub.
Its church has evidence of Norman and even Saxon work
on the lower reaches of the bell tower,
which gives what's considered one of the most mellow rings in the county.
Five miles away, back in Wetheringsett,
the All Saints Church was almost entirely rebuilt
in the second half of the 15th century.
What's believed to be the oldest surviving house in this village
is a short stroll away.
So what we're looking at here is house number two.
Where am I going to park my motor home?
Can you see the telephone box just there?
-There is an entrance?
That leads to a huge double garage,
and enough space outside of that garage to park your motor home.
-That sounds better.
The house itself is end-of-terrace.
Right. We'd have to think about that.
That's something we'd have to think about.
I know that's something you're not fans of,
being attached to someone. But are you willing to give it a go?
-Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
-Wait and see.
-Let's go and see what the inside has to offer.
Arranged over three floors, this property
dates back to the 16th century
and has retained its historic character and period features,
whilst offering generous living spaces.
-What do you think?
-Wow! Very nice.
It comes across so much older internally
than it looks from the outside.
Well, come into the living room.
Have a look at this.
Very characteristic. Very cosy.
-Is it listed?
-It is. Grade II listed.
And you've got these little sections.
The current family use this as a playroom.
Very different to us, isn't it?
Yeah. Yeah. It's making you think what you could do with it.
This is open-plan living.
There's gaps through all the timber work.
I love the beams.
Not too dark, not too imposing. No, really, really nice.
Now, Debs. One of your big requests was a kitchen-diner.
That's what I'm going to show you next.
I think this is what you'd call a proper country kitchen-diner.
This is probably something you'd see in the movies.
-I mean, unbelievable.
You said you both want to do more cooking together.
Is this the kind of kitchen you can imagine doing that in?
I was just going to say, actually,
you could do the cooking and I could sit there and watch.
-That's why she wanted a kitchen-diner -
the diner bit for her, the kitchen bit for you.
To watch me cook.
It has got that wow factor.
-This is almost your show kitchen.
You've got a really nice-sized utility
that comes with this kitchen,
with all your washing machine, your fridge.
Everything is kind of hidden away.
I think, in a way, I feel kind of quite emotional with it, really,
cos it has really blown me away a little bit, again.
I think when you take on a house like this,
you take on the responsibility, the history,
and you've got to maintain that
and you've got to keep it within character.
I know you're a little overwhelmed. Let's go and see the upstairs.
I'm not sure Ken and Debbie know
quite what to make of this period property.
On the ground floor, there are two staircases.
The first leads to a double bedroom and a family bathroom.
The layout is such that Ken and Debbie could choose to use this
as their master suite.
Next to it, more stairs lead to the top floor,
where the largest bedroom, with its own walk-in wardrobe, is located.
Alternatively, the second staircase on the ground floor
leads off the kitchen,
giving a further option for their master suite.
All you've got on this side of the house, above the kitchen,
-is this bedroom.
Plus a bathroom, which is almost an en-suite.
So, it's its own private living quarter, really.
Looking at storage, where you'd put clothing and stuff like that,
is it practical?
I think this is only practical to put your day-to-day things in,
just here, on the window seat, if you'd turn that into storage.
It could be an office up here.
-Absolutely. It's got a bathroom, so...
-I think it's quite flexible.
'It seems our couple love the character here,
'but are still puzzling over
'whether the quirky layout would work for them.
'Outside is more straightforward,
'with an enclosed, good-sized, rear garden mainly laid to lawn.'
Very low-maintenance, so Ken can run the lawnmower round it.
And ideal for the dogs. It's big enough for them to have a run round.
The question now is, how much will this property set you back?
I think, because it's semidetached this time, 385?
-I'm going to go with a little bit more.
I'm going to go 395 again.
-It is currently on the market for £365,000.
-Something to think about, isn't it?
-Go and have another look around.
-And I'll see you in a bit.
I've really confuse matters, haven't I?
But it's great to give them options,
and I'm glad they're having a think about it.
£35,000 below their budget,
this listed 16th-century end terrace
gives Debbie that kitchen-dining space she craves.
There are three bedrooms, all large enough to be masters, while outside,
there's parking for the motor home and a dog-friendly garden.
Right. That's a nice garage.
That'd be big enough to park the motor home and keep it there.
You just about get it up the side of the houses,
but I think that's fine for parking.
I'm actually quite speechless with this house, to be honest with you.
I'm not really 100% sure what to make of it.
I just find it so enchanting,
so I am really, really mixed up about this house.
Could I get my head around being semidetached?
I'm not 100% sure on that.
So, I'd really have to have a long, hard think.
But there's so many pluses.
I love the kitchen, the quirkiness of it.
I wasn't sure what to make the bedrooms,
because they are kind of all over the house,
but on the second floor, we could really open that up,
so there is lots of potential to do here, and lots to think about.
It is a contender for me.
I can just imagine this, probably at Christmas time,
it would be very, very homely.
Some areas of the house I didn't find very practical to live in.
You're limited in what you can do.
I think you've got to keep the character of the house.
Storage is limited on what you've got in the bedrooms.
Whether it's for me, maybe for Debbie,
but it is a lovely, lovely house.
I really have made you think about what you want
-from a property, haven't I?
-Makes you think.
But I have to give you options.
The good news is I'm not giving you any more today.
So, we can go and relax.
Husband and wife Ken and Debbie,
from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, are downsizing,
with £400,000 to find a slower pace of life in Suffolk.
We've shown them two very different houses
that could give them the new, more rural base they're after.
But there's still the mystery house to see,
which may well split opinion.
That is something I wanted to do at home, and she said, "No!
"No TV in the bathroom," but I think it's a good idea.
'And I'm putting my nose to the grindstone
'at a working tide mill.'
-So, this is a big start button?
-This is the big start button!
All right. Shall we do it?
-Oh... I fear you...
-..might be doing most of the hard work.
-I think so!
Our first two properties were very different in terms of age and style,
and I think that's helping Debbie and Ken figure out
what type of house they really want to live in,
but there's no need to make a decision just yet,
because, today, we show them the mystery house.
It's certainly got plenty of style.
The question is - will its grand design charm them?
When we started this process,
Ken, you were up for perhaps putting a bit of work in,
-but I sensed you were going Debbie's way yesterday.
All the houses we've ever had,
I've, er, developed and refurbished them.
And then, yesterday, when I walked into the first house
that everything was done, there was this calmness come over me,
which I've never had before
when we've gone into a property, looking at it, and I thought, "Wow!
"Do you really want to refurbish another property?"
So, er...it's over my eyes, this, er, two houses.
What are you both expecting from the mystery house,
-wanting from the mystery house?
-I'm expecting it's going
to be my biggest nightmare, the renovating job,
because we haven't really seen anything like that at the moment.
I don't know, I'm quite excited to find out, really.
The mystery house is in the village of Woolpit,
12 miles northwest of Stowmarket,
and 10½ miles east of Bury St Edmunds.
With many facilities reflecting its status
as the main cultural and retail centre of West Suffolk,
Bury St Edmunds is a pleasant market town.
The 14th-century gate abbey gate,
once a secular entrance for servants,
leads to formal gardens and the cathedral.
Around ten miles away is Woolpit,
where the village sign harks back to a strange 12th-century legend
of two local children who, it's said, would eat nothing but beans.
With a little over 2,000 residents,
there's an interesting museum, bakery and pub,
whilst the church features fine flush work,
part of the perpendicular style of gothic architecture.
'The mystery house is located on a road leading out of the village,
'backing onto open countryside.'
What do you think of the mystery house?
Wow, completely different to the first two.
-A very modern property, I think you'll agree.
Yeah, I like the entrance, the modern doors,
-and the coloured window frames.
-I did say I would like modern.
Nothing to do. Off we go.
'This detached home was bought as a chalet-bungalow ten years ago
'by the current owners, who are interior designers.
'They completely remodelled outside and in.
'A small lobby leads straight into a large living room.'
It feels more spacious in here than it looks from standing outside.
These are oak floors from the local area.
-Don't miss the fireplace.
-Real fire, an open fire.
-I know your eye's drawn towards the kitchen.
-I know, I know.
So let's head that way.
Oh, that's nice.
-Very nice. Very nice.
-That's the kitchen I've been looking for.
It's a high-spec German kitchen, actually.
I don't think there's much missing.
You can eat over there on the breakfast bar,
or you've got the dining room just here.
So you've got eating options both sides.
I like the breakfast bar part of the kitchen.
-Look at those bi-folds.
-Yeah, that's lovely.
Flows in really nicely, from the kitchen into the conservatory area.
Now, that may look like the back of the house, but there's more.
'Running alongside the kitchen is a ground floor bedroom,
'wet room and a utility space
'that leads into another very big room which should appeal to Ken.'
A man cave! And just like my snooker table.
I used to have my office in my snooker room,
so walking in here, it just... Yeah, it just takes me back.
-Home from home, then, aren't you?
It's been done to a very high spec.
-Yes, I... I'm tempted by all three.
It's going to take a lot of talking over, I think, this is.
-Shall we head upstairs?
'So far, this looks like another contender for Ken and Debbie.
'As we had upstairs, we find contemporary style is
'taken to a whole new level.'
Have a look at the bathroom.
That is fantastic.
Real mother-of-pearl tiles. A TV.
That is something I wanted to do at home and she said, "No!
-"No TV in the bathroom."
-But I think it's a good idea.
'There are two further bedrooms on this floor,
'a good-sized double and an even more spacious master.'
Lovely room, lovely-sized room.
I like the colour of the floor. This works very well, very well.
Very nice, yeah. A lot to think about, a lot to ponder on still.
Well, let's go and take in the garden.
See the house from the other side, and then we can discuss place.
'Outside, there's plenty of parking for Ken and Debbie's motor home,
'whilst a fenced easy-to-keep rear garden
'offers secluded seating areas.'
How would this garden work for you?
Nice size. Not overlooked.
-Not too much lawn to mow, have you?
Nice patio area.
Room for the dogs.
Let's discuss money. How much is this design house on the market for?
I would say it's going to be top end of our budget, so I'd say 425.
I was going to say almost the same,
so I think I would go in at 420.
OK. It is on the market for exactly £425,000,
so we would need the very, very top of your budget.
-Are you reaching for your cheque book?
I think I might have to sit down
and have a little discussion with you.
-Have another look around.
-OK, thank you.
-And I'll see you in a bit.
I'm glad I've surprised them with this house,
but I have a feeling it might be that little bit TOO modern for them.
But let's see.
Although this is £25,000 over budget,
they have said they could stretch themselves
for the right property,
and this detached Uber-modern home
does deliver on that large kitchen/diner.
There are three bedrooms
plus a luxurious wet room and bathroom.
The fenced garden is private and perfect for the dogs,
and there's off-road parking for the motor home.
I really love this house. The kitchen/diner is just me to a T.
The garden is absolutely wonderful,
bringing the outside in as well, with the bi-folding doors.
Just absolutely superb.
Although I'm looking for modern, is too modern for me?
Maybe I feel I could be too old for this house, maybe.
But we shall see. We'll see.
The kitchen is a definite plus. The garden is a plus.
Um, the snooker room and bathroom areas, they are a plus.
The modern design could be a minus for us,
but for someone else, it would be a plus.
The interior design is fantastic.
Their taste - what they've set out to do -
I think they've achieved in this property.
Choices, choices, choices!
-Ponder, ponder, ponder!
-Tea, tea, tea?
-Let's go and get a cuppa.
With its coastline along the North Sea,
Suffolk boasts many tidal rivers.
As well as providing a picturesque haven for wildlife and sailors,
their tidal power has been harnessed for milling since medieval times.
Today, I'm visiting a rare Grade I listed
18th-century working tide mill,
located on the banks of the Deben Estuary, where Nigel Barratt, one of
the volunteers keeping this building alive and open to the public,
has offered to give me a tour.
What's so special about this mill?
There are now only, so far as we're aware,
three working mills left in Europe and this country.
-So does this work?
-How does it work?
Well, all tide mills work by storing the water in a reservoir.
As the tide comes in, it fills the pond,
then, as the tide goes out, the water's trapped in the pond.
We open the sluice gates, water pours out at a great pressure
and that pressure can turn the wheel.
'The original seven-acre millpond would've worked the mill for
'four to five hours, producing up to half a tonne of flour each hour.
'It's now a marina and the new much smaller pond
'provides just half an hour of action at a time.
'Luckily, I'm here as the wheels are about to be set in motion.'
There we go.
-So this is the big start button, really?
-This is a big start button.
-Yes, that's right.
-All right. Shall we do it?
-Shall we do it?
-How heavy is this?
-It's quite heavy.
-I feel you...
-..might be doing most of the hard work.
-I think so.
-Dave, you may need to help us.
-You haven't jammed it, have you?
-I think we need to...
-Maybe I'll move out the way!
I clearly was no help.
'I have some way to go to make a miller,
'but this centuries-old mechanism is as efficient as ever.'
Oh, my gosh.
-And we're already getting flour?
-We're already getting flour.
I'm just so impressed at how instantly it came out.
'It all starts with the waterwheel,
'which, via cogs, rotates a central shaft.
'This causes a nut above to turn the millstones,
'which then grinds the flour.
'But the waterwheel is also used to power a hoist,
'taking the wheat grain to the upper levels of the mill,
'where the flour-making process begins.
'With the grain being filled,
'a simple shutter is opened, putting gravity to work...'
-So I just put that out?
-Just pull that out.
'..as the grain flows down a chute towards the winding mechanism.'
So we've now charged the hopper with grain and it'll be agitated
-by the damsel into the eye of the stone.
-That's called a damsel?!
Legend has it that they started calling it a damsel,
because, when it's operating, it never stops chattering.
-Sorry about that!
-Like all the world's greatest woman.
Sorry about that.
'After the damsel has done its work controlling the flow of grain
'and coarseness of grind, it falls to the millstones.
'Unlike modern roller milling,
'which can separate the germ from the flour,
'stone grinding retains the germ and the husk,
'creating a higher-protein wholegrain product.'
And this is the finished flour. And doesn't it look mighty fine?
-You've got the bits of bran. You can see it.
-You can see, yes!
This is ideal for baking bread.
I like them.
Because this is high in protein, actually you can get a better rise, and it gives a very good result.
Nigel, as it's been brilliant to actually see
the stone-ground process.
-Thank you so much.
Debbie and Ken are in a great position.
They like all three of our properties
and each of them has most of the elements they've asked for.
So now it's just a case of figuring out which one suits them the most.
Let's see if they've been able to make a decision.
So, what have you decided?
Because, in a way, you quite liked all three houses, didn't you?
We did, very much, didn't we?
It was quite a hard decision that we've come to.
I think we've more or less decided on house number one.
I think house number one still ticks most of the boxes that we want.
Is it the common that sold it to you?
Because that's such an amazing feature.
I think so, because it was beautiful views from the front
and also beautiful views from the back.
And where it was situated, it was just fantastic, wasn't it?
Yeah. They kept the house in character with Suffolk.
Showing us three houses, it's shown me that I actually like
the traditional contemporary style.
I walked in house number one and I felt relaxed.
With house number one, will you want to
put on an extension to the kitchen to turn into a kitchen-diner?
Is that something you're still looking to do?
I think it would need an extension on the kitchen
to get my sought-after kitchen-diner that I've really hankered after,
so that would be a good plus for us, wouldn't it?
-Also, a little bit of renovation for him there,
-so he's getting that out of it.
-He's got that fix.
We're sort of compromising that way, both getting a bit of what we want.
Well, it sounds like you're ready to put an offer in.
Well, we'd like to go back and have a look
at house number one, definitely.
It was like a piece of string and we were at two opposite ends,
and we've come to the middle and we're in agreement on house number one.
Fingers crossed all goes well and we'll hear some good news soon.
-Thank you very much.
Well, what a lovely, productive couple of days of house-hunting
in this rather picturesque county.
Debbie and Ken liked all three of our properties,
even though they're quite different.
In the end, it's easy to see why they've decided to pursue house number one,
and we wish them the very best of luck with their plan
to start a slightly slower pace of life here in Suffolk.
See you next time on Escape To The Country.
Ken and Debbie are still interested in the first house we showed them
and are planning to arrange a second viewing
as the sale of their own house progresses.
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Sonali Shah is helping a couple from Essex who have a Â£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.