Cheshire Escape to the Country


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Cheshire

Property series. Jules Hudson is house hunting in Cheshire with a couple who want their £400,000 budget to provide them with a rural life.


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Welcome to Escape To The Country. Now, this remarkable structure was built in 1875.

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It is a marvel of Victorian engineering,

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the first of its kind to be built anywhere in the world.

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But what was it for and where was it built?

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Well, join me in just a moment and I'll tell you.

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Today's house-hunting couple are itching to embark

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on a new phase of their life

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and make the move to the countryside they've always dreamed of.

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And at first, there's a repeatedly positive reaction to our houses.

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Absolutely stunning.

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-Stunning again.

-Yeah.

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This is stunning.

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Absolutely stunning.

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But later, they change their tune

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and it's time for some straight-talking.

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-I'm afraid it doesn't do it for me.

-Oh.

-Right.

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I just don't like the set-out.

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Well, today, we are in Cheshire,

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and this astonishing structure is the Anderton Boat Lift.

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It was built to allow canal boats

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using the trench at the Mersey Canal over there

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to drop some 50 feet below me down to the River Weaver.

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Now, it was designed by Victorian engineer Edwin Clark.

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Back in 1875, it cost some £48,000 -

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in today's money, about 4 million.

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Now, later on in the show, I'll be back here,

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learning more about its history

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and, importantly, finding out exactly how it works.

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But in the meantime, here's a little taster

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of what the rest of this fascinating county has to offer.

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Located in the North West of England,

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Cheshire has a population of just over a million.

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It stretches from its border with Wales in the West

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to the windswept moors of the Peak District in the East.

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The county may have a reputation

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as the playground of the rich and famous,

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as many high-profile footballers live in the region,

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but agriculture still plays a central role in the economy.

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More than two thirds of its land is farmed today, mainly for dairy,

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and a fifth of the North West's breeding herds are found here.

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This largely rural landscape

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makes the county an ever-popular choice with commuters

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wanting to live beyond the urban centres of Manchester and Liverpool.

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The expansive Cheshire Plain is home to market towns,

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such as Nantwich, which has the largest number of historic buildings

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in the county, outside of Chester.

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With beautifully-preserved villages and towns

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giving way to undulating countryside,

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Cheshire provides fertile ground for property-shoppers

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in search of a rural bolthole.

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Now, Cheshire is famous for many things,

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but when it comes to property, it is now perhaps notorious

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as the home of more than a handful of footballers' wives,

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living in multi-million pound properties

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within the county's Golden Triangle,

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centred around Wilmslow, Knutsford and Alderley Edge.

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They, of course, have inflated local house prices.

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Within the hotspot, the average price of a detached property

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is currently double the national figure.

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But there is, of course, some good news.

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Around the rest of the county as a whole,

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things are much more sensible.

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The average price of a detached property elsewhere

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is currently £268,000,

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15 grand below the national average,

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which means, of course, in simple terms,

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you don't need to be a millionaire to live here.

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So, let's now meet today's buyers

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and find out what has attracted them to this glorious county.

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Neil met Denise as teenagers

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on a blind date at the school dance in the 1970s.

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He's fun-loving, he's adventurous, I think,

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good sense of humour.

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I'd describe Denise all those

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but very organised.

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She organises my life.

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But I call Denise a corned-beef inspector,

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because, no matter what I do in the house, she inspects it.

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Yes.

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Married now for 40 years,

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they currently live in Milnrow

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on the outskirts of Rochdale in Lancashire.

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The reason we moved to Milnrow is

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-we got a job at the Milnrow Working Men's Club.

-I work in the men's club.

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Yeah, steward and stewardess of a working men's club.

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Yeah, when we moved out of Milner for a few years,

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we only lasted five years and came back.

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People that we knew 20, 30 years ago,

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we still see them, you know, say hi to them.

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So, it seems to capture people's hearts.

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Our first house cost us £700.

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Yeah, £700.

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-Makes me feel ancient, that.

-Yeah.

-Back-to-back house, no toilet.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Because they've lived here for as long as they've been married,

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Neil and Denise have extremely fond memories

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of where they began their lives together.

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However, over the decades,

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the area has increasingly become part

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of the busy Greater Manchester suburbs.

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Years ago, when we first moved here, it was a little village.

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It was a few estates, but it wasn't a big community as such.

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And it's just a massive place now.

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Former telecoms-engineer Neil and marketing consultant Denise

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bought their current home six years ago

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with the intention that it was to be their last.

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But since then,

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they've decided that the house no longer suits their needs.

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We bought this off-plan.

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We knew the motorway was there, but I think...

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It's not until it was built and we moved in.

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-You can hear the motorway all the time.

-Yeah.

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I think we want peaceful

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is an important part of living in the country,

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the noises of the country, not the noises of the towns,

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-so that's why we want to go.

-Yes, yeah, exactly.

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Mindful that they don't want to be too far

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from their two daughters and four grandchildren, who live locally,

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Denise and Neil have decided that rural Cheshire is the right place

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for them to put down roots for the long term.

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We want that nice fresh air,

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that nice fresh smell of the countryside, you know.

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What I quite like about the Cheshire countryside is - the countryside -

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just getting up, getting out and walking.

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I love open spaces.

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Neil's been lobbying for this move for the past three years,

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but it's only since buying a caravan that Denise has been fully convinced

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that a move to the country could be just what she's been looking for.

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On the caravan sites, you get the friendliness.

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It's completely different to what...

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You know, everybody helps each other.

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It's the best thing we've ever invested in...

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-Yes.

-..I think.

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Well, we invested in each other.

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Yes, love.

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Now that Denise and Neil have both signed up to a rural move,

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they're excited that it marks a new chapter in their lives together.

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I think we're kind of ready for going back to

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where we were right at the beginning when it's just the two of you.

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We've been from childhood sweethearts...

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-Is it a case of putting up with each other now?

-Yeah. No.

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Denise and Neil are looking forward to the open space

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that the Cheshire countryside can offer them.

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As long as they're within a quiet, semi-rural location,

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they're up for settling pretty much anywhere within the county.

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I'm catching up with them

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to see just what it is they're after from their new home.

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Rights, guys, well, welcome to Escape To The Country,

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Denise and Neil, and welcome to Cheshire on a glorious day.

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-Yeah, it's fantastic, isn't it?

-Yes.

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-This is quite a move, then.

-It is, yes.

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-It's going to be our final...

-Well, hopefully, it's going to be our last.

-Yes.

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Now, give us an idea of the kind of key components

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that this new house has in your own mind, Denise.

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I want it to have a lovely, big kitchen,

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preferably with an island in it.

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We've got a caravan, so, I want to put...

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It would be a preference to have a drive, but it's not essential.

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-Yeah.

-And then, I kind of like the thought of a bungalow.

-Yeah.

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But it doesn't have to be a bungalow.

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And maybe detached rather than semidetached.

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OK. Anything from you, Neil, to add to that list?

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I think she's filled everything, apart from I'd like a rather large workshop.

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-OK.

-To escape away from everybody.

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-So, this is you pottering away in your retirement.

-Exactly, yeah.

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He has a shed which we call his studio.

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HE LAUGHS But it's a shed?

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But it's a shed.

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So, I think, when we move, he wants it to become the studio.

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-Now, in terms of style, you've mentioned bungalow.

-Mmm.

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Do you have any kind of real view

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on what it should kind of feel and look like?

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I tend to go for more modern. Neil tends to go more for...

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-Traditional.

-Traditional.

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Now, I think congratulations are in order,

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-because you've just celebrated your 40th wedding anniversary.

-Yes.

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How many times have you moved over that 40-year period?

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-Four times.

-Four times we've moved, yeah.

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Yeah, our very first house, back in the 1970s, was £700.

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-OK, 700 quid, 40 years ago.

-Yeah.

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How much are we going to spend 40 years later?

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I know, 3-400,000.

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Well, it's 300,000, with a contingency to go to 400,000.

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Yeah. Yeah, for the right property.

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Now, is all this dependent on you selling your current home?

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Are you ready to go?

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-No, we're ready to go.

-We don't need a mortgage or anything.

-We've got the money in the bank

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and we're ready to buy.

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-Wow.

-Yeah.

-Hot to trot.

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-Yes.

-Hot to trot is the word.

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Is it burning a hole, Neil?

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It always burns a hole in Denise's pocket, not mine.

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THEY LAUGH

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Brilliant.

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Well, I think we've got some really interesting properties

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lined up for you this week.

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We've got some wonderful weather, all of Cheshire to explore

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and, of course, in the mix is our Mystery House.

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-Looking forward to that.

-Might cost you a bit more than 700 quid, though.

-Yes.

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-But that's how times have changed. Come on, let's have a look...

-OK.

-..and see what we can show you.

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With a budget of £400,000,

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our buyers have drawn up a well thought-through wish-list.

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They're after a three-bedroom property

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with both traditional and modern features.

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Ideally, they'd also like a large kitchen with an island,

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and a shed or studio for Neil potter about in.

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We found a selection of handsome properties

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which embrace the mix of old and new features

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that Neil and Denise have requested.

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After each house tour,

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I'll be asking them to put a price on each one.

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Our final proposition will be our Mystery House,

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designed to challenge them to think beyond their original brief

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and open their minds to other surprising possibilities.

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We're starting our property search

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in the hamlet of Wettenhall in the heart of the county.

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Nearby Tarporley is one of the larger villages of central Cheshire,

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which flourished during the mid-18th-century

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as a result of its position

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on the main route between London and Chester.

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It was used by traders dealing in salt mined in nearby Nantwich.

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The high street offers a Post Office, a pub, a butcher's

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and many independent shops and restaurants.

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And just six miles away back in Wettenhall is our first option.

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Right, chaps, here we are.

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Property number one,

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set within this newly-renovated complex of farm buildings and barns.

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-But which one is it?

-Mmm.

-Yeah, exactly.

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It's this.

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Tucked away in the corner. You've got two floors, which is rather nice,

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-although it has a sort of sense of kind of single-storey living...

-Yeah.

-..if you like.

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-Mmm, very nice.

-I quite like it, yeah.

-Yeah.

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I've always quite fancied the idea of a barn conversion

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and it does look like a big barn conversion in this corner.

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A bit of communal living to whet your appetite as far as property number one is concerned.

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-Yes.

-I quite like that idea, actually. That's fine.

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Get to know the neighbours, close-knit. Yeah. I quite like that.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-Lovely.

-Shall we go in?

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Yes. Let's go.

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Renovated seven years ago,

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the five individual properties set within this complex

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are thought to date back to 1850.

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It's a solid start so far,

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so let's hope the interior also gets a positive reaction.

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Right.

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-Come on in.

-Wow.

-Thank you.

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What do you think? All done, isn't it?

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-It is.

-Very nice. Very nice, indeed.

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Done to a very high spec.

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This, I guess, is your sort of dining room,

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-dining-hallway, as it were.

-Yeah.

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So, it has a nice, sort of simple kind of flow to it.

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This works for me. This is nice.

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It's just right. I don't know what you think.

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-I like this...

-Yeah.

-..as the dining room,

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but it does kind of depend on the kitchen a little bit as well.

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-Well, yeah, the kitchen is through here. It's not the biggest...

-It'll be interesting to see, yeah.

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..to be honest, but it does all kind of flow through.

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-Granite tops, all done.

-Oh, yeah.

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Oh, no, it's nice.

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Yeah, again, high spec.

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But what I like about this is,

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what we want to do is, if we're entertaining,

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you can still speak to people while you're in the kitchen

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and this, therefore, works.

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-Yeah, with it being open-plan, it flows.

-Yeah, it flows.

-Yeah.

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It's not...

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Even though it may appear narrow, it's actually not,

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it's quite a wide kitchen.

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Back through the entrance hall, lies the living room.

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There you go.

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Oh, now, this is cosy.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah?

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-That's a good word, that, cosy.

-Yeah.

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And I like the width of it.

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I also like the simplicity of it all.

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-Yeah.

-I like that. That's nice.

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It's very uncluttered.

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-It is.

-And we're that kind of people.

-Yes.

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Well, it always helps in selling your property when it's presented like this,

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to be perfectly honest, cos you can see the wood from the trees.

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-You know exactly what you've got to play with.

-Yeah.

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I think this is more Neil than me, because of the barn effect,

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but I do like... It feels nice.

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The flow of it feels really nice.

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-Well, there is more of a sense of the barn upstairs.

-Right.

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Particularly, in the master bedroom. Let's have a look up there.

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-Yeah, that would be interesting.

-Yeah, OK, fine.

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Just off the dining hall, there's also a cloakroom.

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On the first floor, the historic features of the property

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have been retained throughout the three double bedrooms,

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all of which include exposed beams.

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There's also a bathroom, tiled in neutral tones.

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And then this is the master.

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Oh, right.

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Oh, yeah, this is nice.

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This is obviously the biggest of the three.

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-This is lovely.

-Yeah. And again, it's...

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Even though it's only got that one window, it's still very light.

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-Mmm.

-Isn't it? I quite like the fact we've got the modern

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with this effect, so it fits both of us, and I like the beams.

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-It's cosy again.

-Yeah.

-I keep bringing that word out, cosy.

-Cosy.

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-And it's warm feeling in here.

-Yeah.

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Interesting. Well, let's go out the garden

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and we'll talk about the price, because I think that's going to be

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another interesting thing for you to kind of take on board

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as to how far your budget may or may not go.

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The outside space is mostly lawn with a Yorkstone sitting area

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overlooking open fields.

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It's pretty much a blank canvas for Neil and Denise to make their own.

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-Here we are.

-Oh, very nice.

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-Lots of kinds of alfresco opportunities here.

-Yeah.

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Your garden extends really up to this post and rail fence,

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-and that gate. That little paddock in there is communal.

-Right.

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And you access it from over there.

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-That's your garage in the middle of that lot.

-Oh, right, yeah.

-OK.

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-Nice double-door garage.

-Yeah.

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-So, you can bring it in, your shed, as it were.

-Yeah.

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-Well, studio, come on.

-Studio, yes.

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-It's going to be pukka, isn't it?

-I'm glad you said that.

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-Yeah, exactly.

-You'd put it, like, in this corner here, wouldn't you?

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-Yeah.

-Tucked away.

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-Well, let's think about the price, then.

-Well, I would say 35, 355.

0:15:140:15:19

355? Yeah, OK. Neil?

0:15:190:15:22

Well, I'm going higher, because it's a project that's finished,

0:15:220:15:25

and, with that in mind, I'm going to go 375.

0:15:250:15:28

If it were 299,950...

0:15:280:15:31

Mmm.

0:15:310:15:33

-That would...

-That's an eye-opener.

0:15:330:15:34

Yeah.

0:15:340:15:36

I don't think it is going to be 299.

0:15:360:15:39

-It is.

-Is it?

0:15:390:15:40

It's 299,950.

0:15:400:15:42

-Very surprised. Very surprised.

-Yeah, so am I.

0:15:420:15:45

I think we'd have to look into the definite studio thing, as well,

0:15:450:15:49

to make sure that it is feasible, cos that is important,

0:15:490:15:52

cos I don't want Neil in the house all day.

0:15:520:15:55

She's trying to say I'm under her feet.

0:15:550:15:57

-Well, look, I think we've given you an interesting proposition here...

-Very, yeah.

0:15:570:16:01

-Very surprised.

-..at a very interesting price point

0:16:010:16:03

-to start with.

-It is. It is, yeah.

-Yeah.

0:16:030:16:05

So, go and have a wander around, get the feel of it, why not?

0:16:050:16:08

Check it out, explore it.

0:16:080:16:09

-And I will come and find you a little bit later.

-Lovely.

-OK, thank you.

-Thanks.

0:16:090:16:12

Below budget, at just under £300,000,

0:16:140:16:17

this generous three-bedroom barn conversion

0:16:170:16:20

has been renovated to an excellent standard.

0:16:200:16:22

Outside, the garden gives way to views of open countryside.

0:16:220:16:26

Altogether, an impressive package.

0:16:260:16:28

The style of these barns, it appeals to me.

0:16:280:16:30

This is what I've been looking for for quite a long time.

0:16:300:16:34

So, yeah, as soon as we approached it,

0:16:340:16:36

I thought, "Oh, this'll do for me."

0:16:360:16:38

When I saw the kitchen, initially, I thought,

0:16:380:16:41

"This isn't the kitchen that I was dreaming about."

0:16:410:16:44

But because of the openness of the dining room

0:16:440:16:46

and then into the living room,

0:16:460:16:48

it actually felt like a nice-sized kitchen.

0:16:480:16:51

Quite liked outside.

0:16:510:16:53

I quite like the fact that it wasn't overlooked.

0:16:530:16:55

You've got all these fields behind you.

0:16:550:16:57

Nicely set out garden, lovely.

0:16:570:16:59

For this property, I feel that, if I could move it

0:16:590:17:02

into more of a semi or a detached, it would be a definite contender.

0:17:020:17:10

Good. Well.

0:17:100:17:12

Property number one.

0:17:120:17:16

-Almost on target for you.

-Mm-hmm.

0:17:160:17:18

Little bit wide of the mark for you.

0:17:180:17:20

-Mm-hm, yeah.

-So, we need a direct hit, don't we, really?

0:17:200:17:23

-We do.

-Right, then. Let's have some lunch

0:17:230:17:24

and then we'll see if we can achieve that with property number two.

0:17:240:17:27

OK, fine.

0:17:270:17:29

Cheshire's historic canals stand testament

0:17:360:17:38

to water being the lifeblood of the county's industrial activity.

0:17:380:17:43

But as well as providing a transport network,

0:17:430:17:45

it also fuelled the growth of Cheshire's biggest industry,

0:17:450:17:48

water-powered textile mills thrived throughout the county.

0:17:480:17:52

And it was silk mills that really put Cheshire on the map.

0:17:520:17:56

From the 1800s, Macclesfield was strategically-placed

0:17:560:17:59

on the textile trade route between Manchester and London.

0:17:590:18:03

Over the next century,

0:18:030:18:04

it became one of the leading silk-producing centres in Europe.

0:18:040:18:08

And today, its legacy is kept alive

0:18:080:18:10

through museums and heritage centres.

0:18:100:18:13

Denise and Neil are keen to know more about the area's history,

0:18:130:18:16

so we arranged for them to visit Paradise Mill,

0:18:160:18:18

one of the last remaining silk mills in Cheshire

0:18:180:18:21

to meet tour guide Mike Scott.

0:18:210:18:23

Welcome to Paradise.

0:18:230:18:24

Thank you, mate, thank you.

0:18:240:18:26

So, Mike, how old is the mill?

0:18:260:18:27

It's approximately 140, 150 years old.

0:18:270:18:30

The last company to actually use this mill as a working silk mill,

0:18:300:18:35

didn't close until 1981.

0:18:350:18:37

-Right.

-So...

0:18:370:18:38

So, why was silk produced in Macclesfield?

0:18:380:18:42

They say that some of that silk came into Macclesfield

0:18:420:18:45

for the purpose of covering buttons.

0:18:450:18:48

Silk buttons were a status symbol.

0:18:480:18:50

The more silk buttons you had, the more wealthy you were.

0:18:500:18:53

-Shall we go and have a look, and have a look at the looms?

-Yeah.

0:18:530:18:56

-Yeah, that'd be lovely, Mike. Thank you.

-Come this way.

0:18:560:18:58

Silk had to be twisted through the water-powered machines

0:19:010:19:04

before it could be used to cover buttons.

0:19:040:19:07

It was this process that formed the beginnings of the silk trade

0:19:070:19:10

in the UK, with mills in Macclesfield, Congleton, Stockport

0:19:100:19:13

and Bollington becoming silk powerhouses.

0:19:130:19:15

What type of looms are they?

0:19:180:19:20

They are Jacquard looms,

0:19:200:19:22

which means that they can produce patterns.

0:19:220:19:24

It was the first programme board machine in the world.

0:19:240:19:27

It was given to us by a Frenchman, Joseph Marie Jacquard.

0:19:270:19:30

He was born in Lyon.

0:19:300:19:32

And he produced this system

0:19:320:19:34

whereby you could produce a set of punch cards.

0:19:340:19:38

The machine will read the holes in those cards

0:19:380:19:41

and select the warp threads to lift or to stay down.

0:19:410:19:45

-Right, very interesting.

-Very good.

0:19:450:19:47

How much was made on one loom?

0:19:470:19:50

It is a very slow process.

0:19:500:19:53

Two yards a day.

0:19:530:19:55

Between 1743 and 1940,

0:19:550:19:59

over 100 mill sites were built in Macclesfield,

0:19:590:20:02

and, by the 1830s, nearly half of the town's population

0:20:020:20:05

were working in the textile industry.

0:20:050:20:07

Would it be possible to have a demonstration?

0:20:070:20:10

Yes, certainly,

0:20:100:20:11

and perhaps you could have a treadle or two yourself.

0:20:110:20:15

-Oh, that'd be lovely.

-Right, come this way.

-Thank you.

0:20:150:20:17

-Down...

-Yeah.

-..back, across.

0:20:180:20:21

This rhythm.

0:20:210:20:23

I wonder if Denise will rise to the challenge.

0:20:240:20:27

And down.

0:20:270:20:29

That's it.

0:20:290:20:30

That's it.

0:20:300:20:32

From there...to there.

0:20:320:20:33

About that big.

0:20:330:20:35

-She's got a good right hand.

-That's it. Yeah.

0:20:350:20:37

Well done.

0:20:370:20:38

I'm awaiting for the shuttle to fly out.

0:20:380:20:40

-THEY LAUGH

-So am I!

0:20:400:20:42

I wouldn't like to do that for eight hours a day.

0:20:420:20:45

Silk has always been more desirable than cotton for many reasons.

0:20:450:20:50

Often, it's down to its texture, lustre and draping ability,

0:20:500:20:53

which made it a luxurious, almost exotic, textile.

0:20:530:20:57

It was also easier to dye into practically any colour.

0:20:570:21:00

We're in the little part of the factory now

0:21:020:21:05

where design was paramount.

0:21:050:21:06

So, how old, just as a matter of fact, would these samples be?

0:21:060:21:11

These would probably be up to the end of the '50s,

0:21:110:21:15

-something like that.

-Would they?

0:21:150:21:17

So, why did the factory close, then, in '81?

0:21:170:21:20

Well, there was a number of things, really.

0:21:200:21:22

The tide was certainly against it.

0:21:220:21:25

They had their good times.

0:21:250:21:27

Silk was no longer the preserve of the very rich

0:21:270:21:32

and, also, there was a lot of import penetration coming in.

0:21:320:21:35

There was also polyesters and viscose coming in as well,

0:21:350:21:39

which made the whole thing cheaper.

0:21:390:21:41

So, cost went against them, so they had to go and close.

0:21:410:21:46

-It's a shame, really.

-It is.

0:21:460:21:48

Having stepped back into Cheshire's productive textile past,

0:21:490:21:52

it's time we spooled forward to the present day

0:21:520:21:55

to continue our property search.

0:21:550:21:57

Our second property lies in Beeston, known for its series of locks

0:22:020:22:06

located along the Shropshire Union Canal.

0:22:060:22:09

Nearby is the larger village of Bunbury,

0:22:090:22:12

whose corn mill is thought to date back to 1290.

0:22:120:22:14

With a mill pool and stream running by,

0:22:150:22:18

its thriving centre has a number of useful amenities to hand,

0:22:180:22:21

including a store with Post Office, family butchers and two pubs.

0:22:210:22:26

Just a five-minute drive from the heart of the village

0:22:280:22:31

and with great views of Beeston Castle from its doorstep

0:22:310:22:34

is our second property.

0:22:340:22:36

Next on our list, on our little tour of Cheshire's rural hotspots...

0:22:360:22:42

-Right.

-..is this one.

0:22:420:22:44

-What do you think of that, then, Denise?

-Oh, that's lovely.

0:22:440:22:47

-That is nice.

-Yeah?

-Yes.

0:22:470:22:49

Why does this one appeal?

0:22:490:22:51

-Well, it's a semi, for a start. It's got a conservatory.

-Yes.

0:22:510:22:54

It's got a beautiful garden and it's more private.

0:22:540:22:58

And I like the character.

0:22:580:22:59

It's got loads of character, this place, looking at it from here.

0:22:590:23:04

-This is not the kind of slick modern finish that we saw earlier.

-OK.

0:23:040:23:09

But, that said, I think there's lots of scope for you to sort of...

0:23:090:23:13

-You put your own stamp on it, then, don't you?

-Exactly that.

0:23:130:23:15

-And you're a handy bloke.

-Oh, he is. Definitely.

-So she keeps saying.

0:23:150:23:18

THEY LAUGH Well, it's worked for 40-odd years, hasn't it? Let's face it.

0:23:180:23:21

-Yeah, that's right.

-Yeah.

-Good.

0:23:210:23:23

-Looks lovely.

-Come on, then. Let's have a look.

-Yeah, let's go.

-OK.

0:23:230:23:26

This handsome Victorian redbrick semidetached property

0:23:280:23:31

dates back 120 years.

0:23:310:23:34

Laid out over two storeys,

0:23:340:23:36

there's more than enough space both inside and out

0:23:360:23:38

for Neil and Denise to make this a forever home.

0:23:380:23:41

-Grab the door, Neil.

-OK.

0:23:430:23:45

Thank you.

0:23:450:23:46

-So, your conservatory, obviously.

-Yeah.

0:23:460:23:48

And then straight into one of the two reception rooms, really,

0:23:480:23:52

-that this place offers you.

-Oh, right.

0:23:520:23:54

Oh, this is nice. This is lovely.

0:23:540:23:56

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

0:23:560:23:57

-This is more you.

-Beams, again.

-Yeah, this is definitely you.

0:23:570:24:00

-This is me, yeah.

-Yeah.

0:24:000:24:01

How is it you?

0:24:010:24:02

It's the cottagey feel for me.

0:24:020:24:04

Comfy, cosy.

0:24:040:24:06

-Mmm.

-Yeah, don't mind it. I don't mind it.

0:24:060:24:09

You don't mind it but you don't love it?

0:24:090:24:11

I don't love it at the moment,

0:24:110:24:12

and the only reason why, if I'm absolutely truthful,

0:24:120:24:15

is I would do something with the stairs.

0:24:150:24:18

Yeah. It's a bit '70s, isn't it?

0:24:180:24:20

Yeah. I wasn't expecting that.

0:24:200:24:22

But it can be changed.

0:24:220:24:24

I would keep these.

0:24:240:24:25

-These are really nice character.

-I think you would have to. They're holding the house up.

-Well, yeah.

0:24:250:24:29

Good point. Well made. You can tell he was an engineer.

0:24:310:24:34

-Right, come and have a look at the kitchen.

-Let's see it.

-OK.

0:24:340:24:36

-Now, Denise...

-Mmm.

0:24:390:24:41

..is this a bit more like it?

0:24:410:24:43

It is.

0:24:430:24:44

A bit more of the size.

0:24:440:24:46

-This is a country feel for me.

-Yeah.

-This is definitely a country kitchen.

-Yeah.

0:24:460:24:50

But I would... I mean, I'd change it slightly, obviously.

0:24:500:24:53

Well, I'd have this just purely as the kitchen.

0:24:530:24:55

It's a nice size and it's very roomy.

0:24:550:24:57

You've also got a really big and quite extensive

0:24:570:25:00

utility area through there.

0:25:000:25:02

-Interesting.

-Yeah, it's the right size what we're looking for.

-Yeah.

0:25:020:25:06

-Let's crack on with the tour.

-Yeah.

0:25:060:25:08

-Let's get upstairs.

-OK.

-Okey doke.

0:25:080:25:09

Follow me, this way.

0:25:090:25:11

Heading back through the sitting room,

0:25:120:25:14

it's time we explored upstairs.

0:25:140:25:16

Here, there are three bedrooms -

0:25:160:25:18

two doubles with high ceilings and large windows,

0:25:180:25:20

along with a small single.

0:25:200:25:22

And they all share a family bathroom.

0:25:220:25:25

And then, finally, we're thinking this is for you.

0:25:250:25:28

Right.

0:25:280:25:29

It is the biggest of the three.

0:25:290:25:31

Yes.

0:25:310:25:33

Although, in many ways, I quite like the guest room actually.

0:25:330:25:36

-Yeah.

-I like it, because that room next door overlooks the castle,

0:25:360:25:39

-which is nice. It's away from the road, which is quite nice.

-Yeah.

0:25:390:25:42

-It doesn't quite flow the same, this upstairs.

-Mmm. I think you can do something quite interesting

0:25:420:25:46

-with the end boxroom...

-Yeah.

-..and the family bathroom,

0:25:460:25:49

-knocking those together...

-Mmm.

0:25:490:25:50

..to give you a nice, big family bathroom...

0:25:500:25:53

-Yeah, and two bedrooms.

-..and just settle for two bedrooms.

0:25:530:25:56

-Which is fine, cos there's only you and I and occasional guests.

-That's right, occasional guests.

0:25:560:26:00

For me, it doesn't flow quite the same up here.

0:26:000:26:03

But I think, if I came back and had a few more visits,

0:26:030:26:06

I could get back into that kind of flow of visually seeing it.

0:26:060:26:11

So, upstairs has taken a little bit of a dip.

0:26:110:26:13

-Just a little bit of a dip.

-OK.

0:26:130:26:15

Well, I'm going to see if we can pick ourselves back up again

0:26:150:26:18

by heading outside.

0:26:180:26:19

-Garage-workshop, mate.

-Yeah.

0:26:200:26:22

My hair's standing on end.

0:26:220:26:24

THEY LAUGH

0:26:240:26:25

Essential to Neil's retirement is the need for man-space

0:26:250:26:29

he can call his own,

0:26:290:26:30

and I think this one could do quite nicely.

0:26:300:26:32

There we are, Neil. Just for you, mate.

0:26:340:26:36

THEY LAUGH

0:26:360:26:38

-This is definitely for me.

-Yeah?

-This is the workshop I want, yes.

0:26:380:26:42

I think we might put a hammock in here for you, as well.

0:26:420:26:44

-HE LAUGHS And it would get him out of your way.

-Yeah.

0:26:440:26:46

-Very good.

-Let's get out there and conclude

0:26:460:26:49

with a talk about the price, then.

0:26:490:26:50

OK.

0:26:500:26:51

Outside, the large lawn is surrounded by established borders

0:26:540:26:57

and has amazing views of Beeston Castle,

0:26:570:27:00

with uninterrupted countryside all around.

0:27:000:27:02

So, time now to think about the price.

0:27:020:27:06

OK, so, the final bit.

0:27:060:27:07

Let's see...Neil?

0:27:070:27:09

I think I'd put a price on this of about 340.

0:27:090:27:14

340.

0:27:140:27:15

Now, I'm going to go slightly higher and do 370.

0:27:150:27:18

It's actually on the market - on the market -

0:27:180:27:21

for 399,950.

0:27:210:27:25

-Now...

-Top of the batch.

-Yeah.

0:27:250:27:27

Top of the clock, isn't it, really?

0:27:270:27:29

-Yeah.

-However, it is, of course, open to sensible offers,

0:27:290:27:34

which is where I think your 370...

0:27:340:27:37

-Ish might...

-..ish would probably be something worth talking about.

0:27:370:27:42

-Mmm. Yes.

-Right, then, off you go.

0:27:420:27:44

-OK.

-THEY LAUGH

0:27:440:27:46

-Go and explore, the pair of you.

-OK.

0:27:460:27:47

-OK.

-And I will catch up with you a little bit later on.

0:27:470:27:50

£50 under their top budget,

0:27:530:27:55

this three-bedroom semidetached

0:27:550:27:56

Victorian property

0:27:560:27:58

has the character and proportions

0:27:580:27:59

that Denise and Neil asked for,

0:27:590:28:01

while offering scope for them to put

0:28:010:28:03

their own personal mark on it.

0:28:030:28:05

Crucially, it also gives Neil

0:28:050:28:06

a ready-made workshop

0:28:060:28:08

and those countryside views.

0:28:080:28:09

Overall,

0:28:090:28:10

it's an attractive proposition.

0:28:100:28:12

When we arrived at this Victorian property

0:28:120:28:15

and I walked up the drive,

0:28:150:28:16

I just thought, "This is absolutely beautiful."

0:28:160:28:19

I was quite surprised how big this property is

0:28:190:28:22

and the land at the side, as well. It was really surprising.

0:28:220:28:27

The gardens were superb for me.

0:28:270:28:29

Yeah, they'll do for me.

0:28:290:28:30

I just weighed up at the side of the workshop,

0:28:300:28:32

I could put the caravan, not a problem,

0:28:320:28:35

and then, going inside the workshop, that did it for me.

0:28:350:28:38

It was... Yeah.

0:28:380:28:39

Just my size.

0:28:390:28:40

Ah.

0:28:420:28:43

Now, what would you do with this room?

0:28:430:28:45

I'd just turn this into a dining room

0:28:450:28:48

and move that table out the kitchen

0:28:480:28:51

and put our own table in here.

0:28:510:28:53

It's nice and quiet.

0:28:530:28:54

Lovely meal and away you go.

0:28:540:28:57

Yeah, well, I have to say I'm coming round to your way of thinking.

0:28:570:29:02

-Good, good.

-OK.

0:29:020:29:03

When I went upstairs, I was expecting a lot bigger bedrooms,

0:29:050:29:13

so I was disappointed.

0:29:130:29:16

This Victorian house, for me, is in the right location.

0:29:160:29:20

Lovely house, but it does need a bit of tender loving care,

0:29:200:29:23

just to bring it up to stamp.

0:29:230:29:26

-Gosh, what has happened to the day?

-I know.

-It's freezing now.

0:29:260:29:28

-Look at the cloud. I think it's going to start raining.

-Oh, gosh.

-Oh, don't say that.

0:29:280:29:32

-OK, so, a busy day.

-Yes.

0:29:320:29:35

-Good day?

-Yes.

-Yes, yes.

0:29:350:29:37

Are we getting closer to figuring out what it is we're after?

0:29:370:29:40

-I think so, yes.

-Yes, you are.

0:29:400:29:41

I think you've got a better idea now

0:29:410:29:43

and we're tightening the brief a little bit more.

0:29:430:29:46

-We are.

-Yes.

-It's a work in progress.

0:29:460:29:48

-It is.

-It certainly is.

0:29:480:29:49

Right, come on, beer time. Let's go.

0:29:490:29:51

-OK.

-THEY LAUGH

0:29:510:29:52

Sounds good to me.

0:29:520:29:54

Retired childhood sweethearts Denise and Neil

0:30:030:30:06

have up to £400,000 to spend on making a move

0:30:060:30:09

from suburban life in Rochdale to the Cheshire countryside.

0:30:090:30:13

They've been on the same page

0:30:130:30:15

with the two properties they've seen so far,

0:30:150:30:17

but coming up, our Mystery House causes conflict...

0:30:170:30:20

I'm not with you on that one, I can't see that one.

0:30:200:30:23

Right, fine.

0:30:230:30:24

-JULES LAUGHS

-I can't see that at all.

0:30:240:30:26

..and I found out how one impressive Victorian structure

0:30:280:30:31

revolutionised the way goods were transported

0:30:310:30:34

on Cheshire's famous waterways.

0:30:340:30:36

So, we're now kind of isolated in our own kind of watery bath...

0:30:360:30:40

-Yes.

-..50 feet above the river below us.

0:30:400:30:43

-Yeah.

-HE LAUGHS

0:30:430:30:45

Well, when we started out with Neil and Denise, they gave us such a broad brief,

0:30:470:30:51

I thought our task might be somewhat easier,

0:30:510:30:53

but of course, it is throwing up its own challenges.

0:30:530:30:57

When you are on the hunt, you do need to have some idea

0:30:570:30:59

of what it is you're looking for.

0:30:590:31:01

Initially, they weren't that bothered about style

0:31:010:31:04

or, indeed, location.

0:31:040:31:05

But Neil, it seems, does quite like a barn conversion

0:31:050:31:08

and certainly responds to that cottagey feel.

0:31:080:31:11

But Denise, on the other hand,

0:31:110:31:12

well, she is proving to be a much tougher nut to crack.

0:31:120:31:15

So, it's another day, our final day,

0:31:150:31:18

with plenty more to see, including, of course, our Mystery House,

0:31:180:31:22

which I hope, in its own rather distinctive, crafty way,

0:31:220:31:26

may provide everything they're looking for.

0:31:260:31:28

Before the Mystery House, we're heading to our penultimate property,

0:31:310:31:34

which lies in the village of Warmingham.

0:31:340:31:37

Here, the River Wheelock runs around the outskirts of the centre,

0:31:370:31:40

which is home to a pub.

0:31:400:31:42

Nearby is the busy town of Sandbach,

0:31:420:31:44

where there are frequent food and craft markets

0:31:440:31:46

held in the attractive cobbled square.

0:31:460:31:49

There's also a Post Office and other handy amenities.

0:31:490:31:52

Our next offering is just a five-mile drive away

0:31:520:31:56

in rural seclusion.

0:31:560:31:57

Oh, wow.

0:31:590:32:00

-How about this? Was that a "wow"?

-Yeah.

-That was a "wow".

-Yeah.

0:32:000:32:03

We've got the wow factor.

0:32:030:32:04

So it should be. This is lovely.

0:32:040:32:06

Bathed in sunlight.

0:32:060:32:07

-Yeah.

-Look at that.

-Yeah.

0:32:070:32:09

Absolutely stunning.

0:32:090:32:11

Yeah.

0:32:110:32:12

-Yeah, well, that's definitely got the wow factor.

-It's beautiful.

0:32:120:32:15

Well, wait till you get inside,

0:32:150:32:16

because I'm going to put my head on the block

0:32:160:32:19

and say I think this is you all over.

0:32:190:32:21

-OK.

-I'm not going to disagree with that.

0:32:210:32:24

-Well, let's see if I'm right. Come on, let's have a look inside.

-OK.

0:32:240:32:27

Constructed in 1875 and formerly a dairy,

0:32:270:32:31

this L-shaped barn was converted eight years ago

0:32:310:32:34

into three properties.

0:32:340:32:35

As they'll see, the renovations have been completed sympathetically

0:32:350:32:39

and to a really high standard.

0:32:390:32:42

-You see?

-Yes.

-NEIL CHUCKLES

0:32:420:32:43

-Come in, mate.

-Oh. Oh, look at this.

0:32:430:32:47

-What do you think?

-Oh...

0:32:470:32:49

-Stunning again.

-Yeah.

0:32:490:32:50

Blown away. It's beautiful.

0:32:500:32:53

Nothing to do here at all.

0:32:530:32:55

And I guess this gives us a natural kind of choice as to where we go first.

0:32:550:32:58

To the right there is the living room.

0:32:580:33:00

-OK.

-But to the left is the kitchen.

0:33:000:33:03

So, where are we going to start, Denise?

0:33:030:33:05

-I think to the left.

-I thought you'd say that, yeah.

-Let's see the kitchen.

0:33:050:33:08

Come and have a look.

0:33:080:33:10

Good choice, Denise.

0:33:100:33:12

-Oh.

-I thought this was where you'd want to start.

0:33:120:33:14

This is stunning.

0:33:140:33:16

Absolutely stunning.

0:33:160:33:17

-Is that not the kitchen you're looking for?

-It is.

0:33:170:33:20

-Oh! The island in the middle.

-Yeah.

0:33:200:33:23

I think it's absolutely perfect.

0:33:230:33:24

The beauty about this kitchen, Jules, is

0:33:240:33:26

when we're in our kitchen at home, we're under each other's feet.

0:33:260:33:30

-Not in here.

-No.

-Not here.

0:33:300:33:32

-You can stand there.

-THEY LAUGH

-I'll stand here.

0:33:320:33:35

But what I like is actually the extra room for sitting and dining.

0:33:350:33:39

Yeah, yeah.

0:33:390:33:40

-It's big, it's spacious.

-But it's done to our taste. This is something that I would choose.

0:33:400:33:44

-You've found the right one here.

-Yeah, the handles, everything.

-So far, anyway. It's beautiful.

0:33:440:33:49

-It's just lovely.

-Even the handles! No-one's ever said that before. I love the detail.

-Yeah.

0:33:490:33:53

Good, we're getting there. We are finding our way, aren't we?

0:33:530:33:55

-Oh, yeah.

-I think you've got there at the moment.

0:33:550:33:57

-Well, let's nip across the hallway and look at the living room.

-Yes.

-OK.

0:33:570:34:00

So, all good so far,

0:34:030:34:04

but I wonder if Neil and Denise would've been just as thrilled

0:34:040:34:07

if they'd taken a right turn at the entrance hall.

0:34:070:34:09

Time to find out.

0:34:090:34:10

There you go.

0:34:120:34:14

Oh.

0:34:140:34:15

Yes.

0:34:150:34:16

This is - I'm going to use the word again, Jules - it's stunning.

0:34:160:34:20

I need to think of some more words that relate to stunning.

0:34:200:34:22

Stunning's good. I'd leave it at stunning.

0:34:220:34:25

Again, wouldn't change anything.

0:34:250:34:27

So, do you want to buy the whole lot with everything in it?

0:34:270:34:29

We don't need to look upstairs.

0:34:290:34:32

Oh, yes, you do. Believe you me.

0:34:320:34:34

-OK, OK.

-It's well worth seeing. I tell you what's interesting

0:34:340:34:36

about this one, cos it's not massive, let's be honest,

0:34:360:34:39

but it does feel big enough to give you both your own space.

0:34:390:34:42

Oh, of course.

0:34:420:34:43

-Without a doubt, yeah.

-Yeah, I've already put Neil down there

0:34:430:34:45

-on the settee there and I'm there.

-THEY LAUGH

0:34:450:34:48

-Managed him in the kitchen, so...

-She's put me near the remote.

0:34:480:34:50

-Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can see what's coming.

-Yeah.

0:34:500:34:53

-Good.

-It's beautiful.

0:34:530:34:56

It's the bee's knees.

0:34:560:34:57

Yeah, it's beautiful.

0:34:570:34:58

-Well, let's have a look upstairs. It will not let you down, I can assure you.

-Yeah.

0:34:580:35:02

Well, the character downstairs has really delivered

0:35:020:35:05

and that continues at the top of the oak staircase.

0:35:050:35:08

How about that?

0:35:080:35:09

-Yeah.

-That's stunning as well.

0:35:090:35:12

Yeah.

0:35:120:35:14

There are four bedrooms in total -

0:35:140:35:16

three generous doubles with one currently laid out as a study,

0:35:160:35:19

benefiting from a fitted wardrobe, and one single, used for storage.

0:35:190:35:23

There's also a family bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath.

0:35:230:35:27

This is your master bedroom.

0:35:270:35:29

-Oh!

-HE CHUCKLES

0:35:300:35:32

-This is...

-Absolutely beautiful.

-Yeah.

0:35:340:35:36

-Yeah?

-Oh, yeah.

-Original beams.

0:35:360:35:38

Yeah, original beans.

0:35:380:35:40

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:35:400:35:41

And you've got the bonus of your shower en suite.

0:35:410:35:44

-All right.

-Oh, gosh.

0:35:440:35:46

-All done.

-I love the shower.

0:35:460:35:48

Look at the shower.

0:35:480:35:49

-Massive walk-in shower.

-Walk-in.

-Yeah.

-Lovely.

0:35:490:35:52

-Lovely.

-High quality.

-Told you it wouldn't disappoint you.

0:35:520:35:55

-It certainly hasn't.

-No, definitely not.

-No.

0:35:550:35:58

No, I can't find any...anything.

0:35:580:36:00

-You can't fault it.

-No.

-No.

0:36:000:36:02

You've done your homework today.

0:36:020:36:04

-JULES LAUGHS

-Yes.

-Phew!

0:36:040:36:06

But it's not over yet.

0:36:070:36:08

-No?

-Garden.

-Mmm.

-OK.

0:36:080:36:10

It's beautiful.

0:36:100:36:12

Come and have a look.

0:36:120:36:13

Outside, there is a large and immaculate lawn

0:36:140:36:17

and a flagstone patio.

0:36:170:36:19

It also has a greenhouse

0:36:190:36:20

and a shed, so Neil and Denise can potter to their hearts' content.

0:36:200:36:25

Plus, it also benefits from a double garage.

0:36:250:36:27

There we are. That's it. The whole package is now complete.

0:36:310:36:34

-It is.

-Couldn't wish for anything better.

0:36:340:36:36

-Now, let's think about your studio.

-OK.

-Mmm.

0:36:360:36:38

-Can you see what the neighbours have done?

-I can, yeah.

0:36:380:36:40

-That's the type of thing I'd like.

-That's it, isn't it?

-That is, yeah.

0:36:400:36:43

And I think you'd find some space down here to do that.

0:36:430:36:46

-Oh, yeah.

-In fact, I was talking to the neighbours earlier,

0:36:460:36:49

-they built their own.

-I'd have ask to him, then, would he build mine.

0:36:490:36:52

There's a project, yeah. THEY LAUGH

0:36:520:36:54

So, let's think about the price of this property, then,

0:36:540:36:57

because I think it appeals, Denise, doesn't it?

0:36:570:36:59

It appeals, yes.

0:36:590:37:00

So, Madame, make me an offer.

0:37:000:37:02

Yes, well, cos I really love it, I'm going to guess at 385,

0:37:020:37:09

but I think it's more than that, but I want it to be 385.

0:37:090:37:13

-HE LAUGHS You want it to be?

-I want it to be 385.

-OK.

0:37:130:37:15

I'm going to go way over budget here and say 425.

0:37:150:37:18

-425.

-Mmm.

0:37:180:37:21

Well, here's the thing, you're both wrong.

0:37:210:37:23

Right.

0:37:230:37:24

-But in a good way.

-Oh.

0:37:240:37:26

This is on the market for 389,950.

0:37:260:37:32

THEY LAUGH

0:37:320:37:33

-So, that should put a smile on your face.

-Oh, it went bang.

0:37:330:37:36

-THEY LAUGH Good.

-Yes.

0:37:360:37:38

-Well, you've surprised me with that...

-Yeah.

-..with that price.

0:37:380:37:41

-I really thought it was well over budget.

-Good.

0:37:410:37:43

Well, look, I think you should have a better look around upstairs

0:37:430:37:46

-because it really is sumptuous up there.

-Yeah.

0:37:460:37:49

-And I will come and find you a little bit later on.

-Okey doke.

-Lovely, thank you.

-Thanks, Jules.

0:37:490:37:53

Off you go.

0:37:530:37:55

Making plans to move in, I think.

0:37:550:37:56

So, still within

0:38:010:38:02

their maximum budget,

0:38:020:38:03

this converted dairy

0:38:030:38:05

with its four bedrooms

0:38:050:38:06

is beautifully presented throughout.

0:38:060:38:08

The huge kitchen with its island

0:38:080:38:10

was an obvious hit with Denise

0:38:100:38:12

and the studio options open to Neil

0:38:120:38:14

seem to have made this property

0:38:140:38:16

a genuine contender.

0:38:160:38:17

This is nice again. Good size.

0:38:190:38:21

-Nice guest bedroom, this.

-Yeah.

-Isn't it?

0:38:210:38:24

You just can't fault it, can you?

0:38:240:38:26

When we went into the kitchen,

0:38:260:38:27

I just couldn't see anything wrong with it

0:38:270:38:31

in any way, shape or form.

0:38:310:38:32

Sometimes, you want to put your own stamp on something.

0:38:320:38:35

That had my name on it.

0:38:350:38:37

The style of the house, for me, is everything.

0:38:370:38:39

It's got that rustic farm feel about it.

0:38:390:38:42

Love it.

0:38:420:38:44

Oh, right, yeah, this is another full-sized room again, look.

0:38:440:38:47

Yeah.

0:38:470:38:48

Might even be an extra dressing room.

0:38:480:38:50

-Oh, well, I thought as much.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:38:500:38:53

The sitting room's another one.

0:38:530:38:54

It was just nice and cosy,

0:38:540:38:56

the right size what we're looking for.

0:38:560:38:58

I could see me and Denise sat in there, without a problem.

0:38:580:39:01

The downstairs, the size of it, the feel of it, everything was perfect.

0:39:010:39:06

The bedrooms, four bedrooms, and all big.

0:39:060:39:10

The original beams, and it just complemented everything.

0:39:100:39:13

How I would sum up this particular property

0:39:130:39:16

is stunning, stunning, stunning.

0:39:160:39:19

Perfect.

0:39:190:39:21

-How we doing, then?

-Really good, Jules, really good.

0:39:210:39:24

I think things are hotting up in more ways than one.

0:39:240:39:27

They certainly are. They certainly are.

0:39:270:39:30

I'm all of a flush.

0:39:300:39:32

Do you want to see the Mystery House?

0:39:320:39:33

-Let's go for it.

-Erm...oh, do I now, Jules, really?

0:39:330:39:37

-It might put a spanner in the works.

-I know. That's the fear factor.

0:39:370:39:41

-Yeah.

-Come on.

0:39:410:39:42

-We will.

-Come on, toughen up.

-Let's go for it.

0:39:420:39:44

Now, what do you think we've got in mind for our Mystery House, then, Neil?

0:39:530:39:58

For some reason, I'm looking towards thinking

0:39:580:40:01

it's going to be like a project, an old church or something like that.

0:40:010:40:06

I'm looking forward to seeing it.

0:40:060:40:07

Is this mystery property going to be a huge studio

0:40:070:40:11

with a little flat on the top of it, Jules?

0:40:110:40:13

THEY LAUGH It could be anything, Denise.

0:40:130:40:15

It could be anything.

0:40:150:40:17

One thing that has become clear from property one

0:40:170:40:20

is the idea that a bit of community living might appeal.

0:40:200:40:24

Yes. Yes, it does appeal to me.

0:40:240:40:26

I don't mind neighbours around.

0:40:260:40:28

I think, for me, it was just

0:40:280:40:30

I would've preferred the house to be

0:40:300:40:33

slightly more detached away or a semi.

0:40:330:40:35

OK, so, if we found you something that had a similar feel,

0:40:350:40:38

but gave you a sense of a bit more space, that might...

0:40:380:40:42

That would, yes, that would tick the box, yes.

0:40:420:40:44

I thought she was going to say tick the box.

0:40:440:40:46

THEY LAUGH Everybody's ticking boxes on this show, Neil.

0:40:460:40:50

Yeah.

0:40:500:40:51

For our final offering, we're heading 20 miles north

0:40:540:40:56

to Frodsham where the River Weaver and the Mersey meet.

0:40:560:41:00

With good access to the coast,

0:41:000:41:02

Frodsham today is a lively market town.

0:41:020:41:06

The high street with its two pubs and handful of independent stores

0:41:060:41:09

is interspersed with pretty houses.

0:41:090:41:12

And just three miles outside of the town

0:41:120:41:15

is our rather imposing Mystery House.

0:41:150:41:17

Well...

0:41:200:41:21

at last, I can reveal our Mystery House.

0:41:210:41:24

-Mmm.

-What do you reckon?

0:41:240:41:26

Pretty large.

0:41:260:41:27

Yes. It used to be the Crossley Sanatorium or Crossley Hospital.

0:41:280:41:33

But what we've got for you isn't an apartment,

0:41:330:41:36

-you'll be pleased to hear.

-Oh.

-Good.

0:41:360:41:38

-Well, let's go for a wander and find your Mystery House.

-OK.

0:41:380:41:43

Built in the early 1920s, this Grade II listed building

0:41:430:41:46

was initially a hospital for TB patients.

0:41:460:41:49

Having also spent its former years as a nursing home and a school,

0:41:490:41:53

it was completely and sympathetically developed

0:41:530:41:55

25 years ago.

0:41:550:41:56

See, you get away from the main building out here

0:41:580:42:01

and it's like walking through a kind of very quiet, leafy suburb.

0:42:010:42:04

-Yeah.

-Stunning.

0:42:040:42:06

-Well, that's the Mystery House.

-I like the way it's laid out.

0:42:060:42:08

-I like all this architecture on the roof.

-I'm not as keen.

0:42:080:42:11

-I'm not keen on the pebble-dash...

-Mm-hm.

-..I have to say.

0:42:110:42:14

Erm...

0:42:140:42:16

and I'm not overly enamoured about living near what was a sanatorium.

0:42:160:42:22

HE LAUGHS There's no more TB, that's all long gone.

0:42:220:42:24

-I know. I know.

-It worked.

0:42:240:42:26

THEY LAUGH

0:42:260:42:29

It did. But I'm keen to look inside.

0:42:290:42:32

Good. Right. Come on, then.

0:42:320:42:33

OK.

0:42:330:42:34

Our Mystery House is located in a private, gated development

0:42:360:42:39

with a community of its own,

0:42:390:42:41

which may offer Neil and Denise an alternative

0:42:410:42:43

to living near a village.

0:42:430:42:46

Through the entrance hall, our first stop is the dining room.

0:42:460:42:50

Let's start in here, then, guys.

0:42:500:42:52

-Oh, this is nice.

-Yeah?

0:42:520:42:53

-Yes.

-Nice dining room.

-Nice size.

0:42:530:42:55

Yeah, it's a good size, this.

0:42:550:42:56

It would make a very nice living room actually, but you've got one next-door.

0:42:560:43:00

I think we need to look at the other rooms as well,

0:43:000:43:02

cos, to me, this could also be the living room.

0:43:020:43:04

-I'm delighted you're giving it its due.

-Oh, yes.

-This is all good.

-Yes.

0:43:040:43:07

-Let's have a look at the living room. This is lovely.

-OK.

-This is a really good family space.

0:43:070:43:12

-There.

-Oh, right. This is lovely.

0:43:120:43:15

-But it's contemporary as well.

-Nice size. It's very contemporary.

0:43:150:43:18

It's a lot bigger than I thought.

0:43:180:43:20

And these lovely windows that go out onto the little patio there

0:43:200:43:24

-and the garden beyond as well.

-Yeah.

0:43:240:43:25

Pleasantly surprised, to be honest with you.

0:43:250:43:28

-You see, but I would make this maybe the dining room.

-Well, you could, couldn't you?

0:43:280:43:32

You've got a lot of room here and it would work quite nicely, because,

0:43:320:43:35

-with a dining table there, the kitchen is through that door.

-Right.

0:43:350:43:39

Well, if that was the case, if you wanted, then you could have... You could knock through

0:43:390:43:42

-and have a huge lounge.

-Mmm.

0:43:420:43:44

-Look at you with the creative poking about.

-There you go.

0:43:440:43:46

I thought I'd better put ten penneth in.

0:43:460:43:48

Yeah, well, you've done more than that. Let's call it ten quid.

0:43:480:43:51

That is very good. Very good.

0:43:510:43:53

-Right, come and have look at the kitchen. That's through here.

-Absolutely fine.

0:43:530:43:56

Well, Denise does seem to have warmed a little since coming inside,

0:43:560:44:00

although I suspect a lot will hinge on the all-important kitchen.

0:44:000:44:03

There you go.

0:44:030:44:05

Oh, that's nice.

0:44:050:44:07

-Very straightforward.

-Yeah.

-Very simple, really, actually.

0:44:070:44:10

-And I'm afraid it doesn't do it for me.

-Right.

0:44:100:44:12

Because...?

0:44:120:44:13

-It's just the set-out, really.

-Yeah.

0:44:130:44:16

I just don't like the set-out.

0:44:160:44:17

I suspect if you could, for example, if we're going to get creative...

0:44:170:44:21

-Mm-hm.

-..somehow create a kind of garden room

0:44:210:44:25

that occupied that space out there

0:44:250:44:26

-that links the kitchen with the main living room.

-Yeah.

0:44:260:44:30

-Wow.

-I don't mind the kitchen, actually. I really don't.

0:44:300:44:34

-That's interesting, actually.

-Yeah.

0:44:340:44:36

-That's cos she's seen a wine rack in the corner.

-THEY LAUGH

0:44:360:44:39

-It's kind of almost full.

-Yeah.

0:44:390:44:41

Good, OK.

0:44:410:44:42

But upstairs is also pretty expansive.

0:44:420:44:45

-Right.

-Yeah.

-Right, yeah.

-Let's try the upstairs.

-Let's have a look.

0:44:450:44:48

You've got an extra floor with this one.

0:44:480:44:50

Oh.

0:44:500:44:51

Back through the entrance hall, we're heading upstairs,

0:44:510:44:54

where there are three bedrooms laid out over two levels.

0:44:540:44:58

On the first floor, there's a large single bedroom

0:44:580:45:00

with its own modern ensuite shower room,

0:45:000:45:02

as well as a simple family bathroom.

0:45:020:45:05

In the eaves, there is a further newly-decorated double bedroom.

0:45:050:45:09

But we're stopping off at the bedroom I've earmarked for them.

0:45:090:45:12

So, this is yours...

0:45:140:45:17

-we think.

-Right. The master, yeah.

-Yeah.

0:45:170:45:19

The only thing that I would say is that I would've preferred

0:45:190:45:22

the bed up there and the wardrobes here,

0:45:220:45:24

because it feels strange having the bed to the back of the door.

0:45:240:45:28

I'm not with you on that one, I can't see that one.

0:45:280:45:31

Right, fine.

0:45:310:45:32

-JULES LAUGHS

-I can't see that at all.

0:45:320:45:34

It's great being a fly on the wall with you two. It really is.

0:45:360:45:38

I love it. Carry on. Go on.

0:45:380:45:40

Yeah, well, I just think that, if you walked in,

0:45:400:45:42

it's nicer to see the bed,

0:45:420:45:44

so you put the wardrobes on this and then put the bed up there.

0:45:440:45:47

-Well, then, wouldn't the wardrobes be stuck out so far, so you'd go...?

-Yeah.

0:45:470:45:51

You're blocking it in, this room.

0:45:510:45:52

OK. It's, erm...

0:45:520:45:54

-Yeah, it's... Again, you've had the problem with the kitchen.

-You've got the problem with the bedroom.

0:45:540:45:59

-I've got the problem with this bedroom.

-So long as everybody's got a problem...

-Yeah.

0:45:590:46:02

..that's a problem.

0:46:020:46:05

-Right, come on, let's come out and get some fresh air.

-OK.

0:46:050:46:07

-After you, Jules.

-Maybe that's what we need.

0:46:070:46:10

The garden here is deceptively large,

0:46:100:46:13

extending through a small area of woodland

0:46:130:46:15

and backing onto open fields.

0:46:150:46:17

Now, when we were discussing things in the living room,

0:46:190:46:22

-it was all much bigger than you'd expected.

-Yes.

0:46:220:46:25

-What about the garden?

-Yes, bigger.

0:46:250:46:26

-It is, isn't it?

-It is.

-Mmm.

0:46:260:46:28

-So, really surprising, this one, isn't it?

-It is.

0:46:280:46:30

It is a surprising one.

0:46:300:46:32

Yes, and I also actually don't mind the pebble-dash

0:46:320:46:35

on the back of the house.

0:46:350:46:36

For some reason, it fits with the back.

0:46:360:46:40

-Got a result, there, Jules.

-SHE LAUGHS Well, have we, though?

0:46:400:46:43

Have we, though? Because there is one more bit to come, which is...

0:46:430:46:45

One more bit to come?

0:46:470:46:48

-Yeah.

-Is there?

0:46:480:46:49

-The price.

-Oh...

-Of course.

0:46:490:46:51

I thought you were going to show me a swimming pool, then, Jules.

0:46:530:46:56

-You got me all excited.

-Oh, no.

0:46:560:46:58

And it was all going to open up.

0:46:580:47:00

Yes, the price.

0:47:000:47:01

Neil, make us an offer on our Mystery House.

0:47:010:47:04

I thought about it and I've put a price on at 360.

0:47:040:47:07

Actually, I think I'm going to match you.

0:47:070:47:10

Yeah, 360.

0:47:100:47:11

This is on the market for £385,000.

0:47:110:47:14

-Oh, right.

-Right. OK.

0:47:140:47:16

Yeah, I can understand why it's kind of at that price.

0:47:160:47:20

Yeah.

0:47:200:47:21

-Good.

-But, mmm...

0:47:210:47:23

Well, that's it. House tours are over.

0:47:230:47:25

-Yeah.

-Go and have a wander around

0:47:250:47:27

and I will catch up with you a little bit later on.

0:47:270:47:29

-OK, thank you.

-Thanks, Jules.

-Off you go.

0:47:290:47:31

£15,000 under their top budget,

0:47:360:47:39

our Mystery House delivers

0:47:390:47:40

generously with three bedrooms

0:47:400:47:42

and smart decor throughout.

0:47:420:47:44

It has a large, secluded garden,

0:47:440:47:46

but will the origins and setting

0:47:460:47:48

of this private development

0:47:480:47:49

sit easily with our buyers?

0:47:490:47:51

Initially, I wasn't overly keen on the outside.

0:47:510:47:54

But I like the feel of the house.

0:47:540:47:57

So, that kind of overcame the outside.

0:47:570:48:01

The lounge was superb.

0:48:010:48:02

Absolutely superb.

0:48:020:48:04

Lovely wood fire, nice view into the garden.

0:48:040:48:08

I quite like that and the neutral taste as well.

0:48:080:48:11

I was pleasantly surprised at the size,

0:48:110:48:14

and it's contemporary, which I love.

0:48:140:48:16

But at the end of the day,

0:48:180:48:19

I think the hospital bit has really put me off.

0:48:190:48:24

I didn't like the impression of the kitchen at all. It threw me.

0:48:240:48:28

The very large handles on all the units,

0:48:280:48:31

it just threw in my face and I just didn't like that look at all.

0:48:310:48:34

Some of the things I didn't like, but it's not bad,

0:48:340:48:36

you can overcome that, but all in all, it wasn't the best of them.

0:48:360:48:41

Ah. Well, you took a bit longer then I thought you might.

0:48:410:48:44

Yes.

0:48:440:48:45

Is it a grower, I wonder?

0:48:450:48:46

Erm...well, pleasantly surprised, to be honest with you.

0:48:460:48:49

-Pleasantly surprised.

-Yeah.

-You've definitely given us plenty to think about, Jules.

0:48:490:48:53

-I think we've given you bags to think about.

-You have that.

0:48:530:48:56

Some very tempting options.

0:48:560:48:57

Right, then, let's go and sit you down somewhere nice and quiet

0:48:570:49:00

and you can mull it all over.

0:49:000:49:02

-OK.

-Come on.

-Thank you.

0:49:020:49:03

Built in 1875 and designed by Edwin Clark,

0:49:100:49:14

Cheshire's Anderton Boat Lift was one of the most ambitious feats

0:49:140:49:17

of Victorian engineering on Britain's waterways.

0:49:170:49:21

It was designed to use two enormous tanks of water as counterweights,

0:49:210:49:25

each weighing over 200 tonnes when full,

0:49:250:49:27

to lift cargo boats 50 feet

0:49:270:49:29

between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal.

0:49:290:49:33

This hydraulic method was a far quicker way of transporting goods,

0:49:330:49:37

avoiding the time-consuming and difficult job

0:49:370:49:39

of unloading cargo by hand between the two waterways.

0:49:390:49:43

As a huge fan of the Industrial Revolution,

0:49:430:49:46

I want to learn more about this architectural icon

0:49:460:49:49

of our canal network,

0:49:490:49:51

so I've come to meet Graham Wood from the Canal and River Trust.

0:49:510:49:55

Wonderful. What a great way to get a glimpse of this fantastic structure.

0:49:550:49:59

-It is remarkable, isn't it?

-It is. It's amazing.

0:49:590:50:01

But why was it built here?

0:50:010:50:03

This is the closest point that the Trent and Mersey Canal comes to the River Weaver,

0:50:030:50:06

so it was an obvious place to put it.

0:50:060:50:08

Northwich and surrounding areas were massive salt producers

0:50:080:50:11

in their day, and Stoke-on-Trent, of course, famous for its pottery.

0:50:110:50:14

So, to get things from one level to the other,

0:50:140:50:17

so that they could move them onto Manchester Ship Canal

0:50:170:50:19

and move them all over the country and all over the world, this was the obvious place to do it.

0:50:190:50:23

So, what were they doing before the lift was built?

0:50:230:50:26

They'd have chutes for the salt.

0:50:260:50:27

So, you'd have a massive chute on the hill behind us,

0:50:270:50:30

and the salt would be brought to the chute in barrows

0:50:300:50:32

and then tipped down onto the chute and onto the boats below.

0:50:320:50:36

And pottery was having to be moved by hand.

0:50:360:50:38

Now, I would love to take a closer look.

0:50:380:50:40

Is it possible to get on top of it?

0:50:400:50:41

-Yeah, no problem. We can get right up onto the top deck.

-Come on, then.

0:50:410:50:45

Wonderful.

0:50:450:50:47

The lift remained in service for over 100 years

0:50:470:50:50

before structural faults were found and it closed in 1983.

0:50:500:50:54

20 years later, a seven-year renovation project was undertaken

0:50:540:50:58

to bring the lift back to life,

0:50:580:50:59

and today, it's used by both commercial and leisure boats alike.

0:50:590:51:03

Wow.

0:51:040:51:06

I mean, I got a glimpse of these from down below,

0:51:060:51:09

but I had no idea just how big these cogs were.

0:51:090:51:11

That's an amazing shot, isn't it?

0:51:120:51:14

-It is.

-What a wonderful view, it's like an enormous clock.

0:51:140:51:16

-It is, it's marvellous.

-How many are there?

0:51:160:51:19

-There's 72 altogether.

-And when do these date from?

0:51:190:51:21

These date from 1908, when it became an electronically-driven lift.

0:51:210:51:25

It's because the salt content in the water was corroding

0:51:250:51:28

the hydraulic mechanism.

0:51:280:51:29

So, it begins life as a hydraulic lift,

0:51:290:51:31

it then has its electric phase.

0:51:310:51:34

Now, during your subsequent renovations,

0:51:340:51:36

you've decided to take it back to a hydraulic lift. Why?

0:51:360:51:38

It's more economic doing it hydraulically

0:51:380:51:41

and it returns it back to its original roots.

0:51:410:51:43

Well, it's been a real treat to get a sense of it,

0:51:430:51:46

-but any chance of a ride?

-No problem at all.

0:51:460:51:48

If you'd like to go on the boat, we'll go now.

0:51:480:51:50

Boats come off the canal and into the aqueduct

0:51:530:51:55

through a series of gates.

0:51:550:51:57

The lift works by a counterbalance method,

0:51:570:51:59

whereby one boat travels up to the canal

0:51:590:52:01

as the other travels down to the river.

0:52:010:52:03

Fascinating, there, the gates above us. Brilliant. Look at that.

0:52:060:52:09

MACHINERY DROWNS THEM OUT

0:52:090:52:11

I'm amazed they managed to stay on.

0:52:110:52:14

The next stage involves the operator opening another set of gates,

0:52:140:52:18

which allows us to sail into the giant bathtub-like tank,

0:52:180:52:21

known as a caisson.

0:52:210:52:22

So, here we are coming actually into the lift itself.

0:52:220:52:26

-Is that the gate?

-Yes, that's the gate.

0:52:260:52:28

That's the gate.

0:52:280:52:30

Incredible.

0:52:300:52:31

-Once we're in, they'll drop the gates behind us.

-Yeah.

0:52:340:52:37

Brilliant.

0:52:370:52:38

Are we going to see another boat coming up alongside us now?

0:52:380:52:41

Yes, there will be boats coming up alongside us.

0:52:410:52:43

The lift operates in balance the majority of the day.

0:52:430:52:46

We can do 32 boats a day.

0:52:460:52:49

WATER RUSHES

0:52:490:52:51

Now that sounds like somebody's just pulled a plug out.

0:52:510:52:54

That's right, that's the last of the water disappearing

0:52:540:52:56

-down the drain.

-Between the gate and the...?

0:52:560:52:59

-Yes, yes.

-Aqueduct.

-Between the two sets of gates.

0:52:590:53:01

So, we're now, kind of, isolated in our own kind of watery bath...

0:53:010:53:05

-Yes.

-..50 feet above the river.

-Yeah.

0:53:050:53:08

HE LAUGHS

0:53:080:53:10

Today, the hydraulic system may be computerised,

0:53:100:53:13

but the speed at which the lift moves evokes the pace

0:53:130:53:16

of a bygone era - a gentle nine feet per minute.

0:53:160:53:21

-So, at last, we're dropping.

-That's right.

0:53:210:53:24

I say dropping. Thankfully, it's very controlled.

0:53:240:53:28

Yeah, it's a lovely smooth movement.

0:53:280:53:30

I can certainly see how it's got that name,

0:53:300:53:31

the Cathedral of the Canals.

0:53:310:53:33

It's absolutely brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

0:53:330:53:36

Do you think Edwin Clark thought of it as the Cathedral of Canals

0:53:360:53:39

when he designed it?

0:53:390:53:41

Maybe he did, maybe he had a soft side.

0:53:410:53:43

I'd like to think he had a sense of the romantic about him.

0:53:430:53:46

-Revolutionary in its time.

-Yeah. And yet, here we are,

0:53:460:53:49

it's still working in all of its glory.

0:53:490:53:53

Well, I'm delighted to see this working,

0:53:530:53:56

I'm delighted that it has survived all of those years

0:53:560:53:59

and, with any luck, Graham,

0:53:590:54:00

it should continue well into the future.

0:54:000:54:02

Now, the conversation that we have to conclude any house tour

0:54:050:54:08

is always a chat that I look forward to.

0:54:080:54:10

Now, some weeks, it's pretty hard to tell which way

0:54:100:54:13

it's going to go, but this week, well, I've got no worries.

0:54:130:54:16

Ready to go? Look at that. Is that for me?

0:54:200:54:23

-It is.

-Fabulous, guys, thank you very much indeed.

0:54:230:54:25

Well, it all seems like quite a long time since we started this,

0:54:250:54:28

-doesn't it?

-It does.

0:54:280:54:30

When you started this process, how optimistic were you

0:54:300:54:33

about finding a home that would work?

0:54:330:54:35

I was more pessimistic than optimistic,

0:54:350:54:38

but you've turned it around for me.

0:54:380:54:40

Denise?

0:54:400:54:42

Um, I think, because of the brief we gave you,

0:54:420:54:44

a little like Neil, I didn't know whether you'd get

0:54:440:54:47

the right property for us.

0:54:470:54:48

OK, let's cut to the chase.

0:54:480:54:50

We've given you plenty of options, all of them interesting,

0:54:500:54:54

all of them worthwhile in their own way.

0:54:540:54:57

But I suspect there is one that's really out in front.

0:54:570:55:01

Yes, well out in front, I think, yes.

0:55:010:55:06

-Lovely barn conversion.

-Yes.

0:55:060:55:09

What was it about that property that really sold it to you, Neil?

0:55:090:55:12

When we walked round the corner and you showed us the expanse

0:55:120:55:15

of this barn conversion...

0:55:150:55:17

-That whole kind of wing?

-The wing, yeah.

0:55:170:55:19

It blew me away and I didn't know what to expect.

0:55:190:55:22

I was getting excited, thinking, "I can't wait to get inside here

0:55:220:55:25

"and have a look." Beautiful.

0:55:250:55:27

When you opened that front door and let us in

0:55:270:55:30

and I saw this entrance hall...

0:55:300:55:31

Excellent, excellent.

0:55:310:55:34

-Yeah!

-That did it for me.

0:55:340:55:35

And I gave you a choice of whether we went left or right.

0:55:360:55:39

-You correctly picked the kitchen.

-Yes.

0:55:390:55:41

That I knew would sell it to you.

0:55:410:55:43

It certainly did, the minute I walked into the kitchen.

0:55:430:55:45

It had everything and the island in the middle,

0:55:450:55:48

it just was everything we'd asked for.

0:55:480:55:50

What happens next?

0:55:500:55:52

Well, I'd like to look at the amenities.

0:55:520:55:54

So, at the weekend, I want to come back and have a good look around

0:55:540:55:57

the area and then, once we've done that, I think we'll ask

0:55:570:56:00

for a second viewing.

0:56:000:56:01

I think there'll be no stopping her.

0:56:010:56:03

Do you need a second viewing?

0:56:030:56:04

I don't.

0:56:040:56:07

It's one of those times where my hand will go in the wallet.

0:56:070:56:09

Well, guys, it's been a real treat. I've really enjoyed your company,

0:56:090:56:12

I've thoroughly enjoyed being back in Cheshire.

0:56:120:56:15

So, well, let us know what happens.

0:56:150:56:17

-BOTH:

-We will.

-Here's to you.

0:56:170:56:19

-Thank you.

-Thanks.

-And your new life.

0:56:190:56:21

-Thank you.

-Cheers.

0:56:210:56:22

Well, our work here is pretty much done.

0:56:260:56:29

The sun is beginning to set over Cheshire's glorious countryside

0:56:290:56:32

and the whole landscape is now bathed in this wonderful,

0:56:320:56:35

rich, warm glow.

0:56:350:56:37

Our house search is over, but with any luck,

0:56:370:56:40

Neil and Denise's new life is just about to begin.

0:56:400:56:43

I'll see you next time.

0:56:430:56:44

Well, the hot news is - Denise and Neil

0:56:460:56:48

have had a major change of heart.

0:56:480:56:51

In an enormous U-turn, they've decided to stay put

0:56:510:56:54

in Rochdale and buy a holiday home in Portugal instead.

0:56:540:56:58

But they do intend to revisit their country move

0:56:580:57:00

in a few years' time.

0:57:000:57:03

If you'd like to escape to the country in England,

0:57:030:57:05

Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and would like our help,

0:57:050:57:08

then please apply online at...

0:57:080:57:12

Jules Hudson is house hunting in Cheshire with a couple who want their £400,000 budget to provide them with a rural life. Along the way, Jules visits one of the finest feats of Victorian engineering on the UK's waterways, the Anderton Boat Lift.