Suffolk Escape to the Country


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Suffolk

Property series. Jonnie Irwin is property-hunting with young parents from Stevenage who are seeking an authentic country lifestyle in Suffolk and a rural family home.


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Built in 1923, this striking folly stands some 70 feet tall

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and is known as the House In The Clouds.

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But where is it, and why was it built? Find out in just a moment.

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Today's buyers are longing to leave suburban living

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for the slice of country life they've always dreamt of.

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-We may have struck lucky with our properties.

-Wow!

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-That is a wall, isn't it?

-Yeah!

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It's actually made out of real Suffolk gold.

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And their vision might be closer than they imagined.

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I'm looking around and I'm thinking, where I would fit my furniture?

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And it's the first house that I've seen, that I've done that.

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Today, I'm in east Suffolk,

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and behind me is the village of Thorpeness.

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Built in the early part of the 20th century, it was

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the brainchild of eccentric Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie.

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He was passionate about Tudor and Jacobean architecture.

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And he wanted to create a holiday village that, in his view,

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harked back to the days of quintessential England.

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but there was a problem. A ginormous water tower

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that overlooked the entire village.

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In Ogilvie's view, it wasn't

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in keeping with the rest of the houses, so he wanted to make it so,

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and what you see today is the result of his modifications.

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The tower has been ingeniously disguised as a clapperboard house,

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complete with windows and a pitched roof.

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It's even got a chimney stack.

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Today, though, the village no longer requires the water tower, but,

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you will be pleased to hear, it's been converted into a luxury home.

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And stands tall testament to the unique vision of Ogilvie himself.

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The East Anglian county of Suffolk is bordered by Norfolk

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to the north, Essex to the south and Cambridgeshire to the west.

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Looking out over the North Sea, the Suffolk Heritage Coast stretches

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50 miles from Felixstowe in the South to Lowestoft in the North.

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Along the way,

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the ever-popular seaside town of Southwold is recognised for

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its stunning Georgian architecture and multicoloured beach huts.

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The pier, originally built in 1900, was completely refurbished in 2001

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and offers some wonderful views back towards the town.

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Moving inland towards the heart of the county,

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the cluster of historic Suffolk Wold towns and villages date back

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as far as the 15th century, when the textile trade was big business here.

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To the south of the county, Dedham Vale has some of

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the country's most serene and stunning landscapes

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which were immortalised by 19th century artist John Constable.

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Some of his most celebrated works such as The Hay Wain

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and Flatford Mill were painted in the countryside

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around the nearby village of East Bergholt, where he lived.

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With a wealth of period properties

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and beautiful surrounding countryside,

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you'd think that would be reflected in Suffolk's property values.

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Yet the average cost of a detached house here at the moment

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is just under £278,000.

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Which is around £16,000 below the national figure, which,

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I think, represents pretty good value.

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But be warned - towards the south of the county,

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where properties are closer to road and rail links back into London,

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prices do begin to climb.

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So whereabouts in the county are today's buyers looking?

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Let's meet them and find out.

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Laura met New Zealander Matt seven years ago at a bar in London

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whilst he was backpacking around the UK.

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She convinced him to settle with her here,

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and they bought a home in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

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I would describe Matt as a typical Kiwi. He's very outdoorsy.

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Lots of fun. Really easy-going and friendly and easy to get along with.

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Things have changed substantially since I arrived in the UK.

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I've now got a wonderful wife and two fantastic children.

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And I couldn't ask for anything more, really.

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Aww!

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Having lived in Stevenage now for two years,

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Laura and Matt are finding that as their daughters - Sophie, three,

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and Elizabeth, two - get bigger, the house is beginning

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to feel smaller, and the location also no longer suits their needs.

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Currently, we live quite close to the town,

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and it can be quite busy and quite crowded.

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We'd like to give the kids some space, some freedom,

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some ability to be curious and just explore things by themselves

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without having to be too controlled by us.

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It would be nice to be able to look out of the window and see fields.

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And to have that feeling of space.

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And you were quite happy living here

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until you found out that you weren't the only Kiwi in the village!

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MATT LAUGHS

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And that!

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Whilst police officer Laura is currently on a career break,

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staying at home to bring up the children, now is the right time

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for them to make a move before the girls start school.

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We're hoping to escape to Suffolk.

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We've been over there a couple of times. Some beautiful countryside

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and beautiful houses and beautiful little villages that we could

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really see ourselves settling into, and becoming part of the community.

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Nice little cosy pubs in the winter.

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And lots of sheep, primarily!

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THEY LAUGH

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Which is not why I'm attracted to Suffolk at all, but, yeah,

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we would like to get some land that we could potentially keep

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some sheep on in the longer term.

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Just to give our girls a sort of a rural upbringing.

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Matt grew up in the New Zealand countryside close to the sea,

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and they're keen for the girls to experience the same kind

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of childhood he enjoyed.

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Suffolk's got a long coastline, and I'd really like to teach

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the girls how to sail, like I was taught when I was younger.

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And I'd like to learn how to sail, as well.

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But it would be nice to be able to go to the coast for the day.

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Yeah, absolutely, just get on the boat at the coast in the morning,

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or for the afternoon, for fish and chips.

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-It would be amazing, wouldn't it?

-Yeah.

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Committed to making the move to Suffolk work,

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Matt would like the property to be no more than a 15-minute drive

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from the nearest railway station,

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so he can still commute to his risk-management job in London.

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I'm fully prepared for the commute to take a bit longer.

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It's a trade-off with lifestyle.

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And with rolling fields and sea air on the horizon,

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Laura and Matt can't wait to immerse themselves in country life

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and begin their search for their dream home.

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I'm primarily looking forward to the peace and quiet,

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the kids being able to make as much noise as they want to

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without annoying any neighbours,

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and just having the freedom to do what we want, whenever we want to.

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Having visited Suffolk only a handful of times,

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Laura and Matt are open to living anywhere in the county,

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so this gives us great scope for our property search.

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I'm meeting up with them to pinpoint exactly what they're after

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in terms of their new home and new life in the countryside.

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Welcome back, you two, to a bright but blustery Suffolk.

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-Good to be out in the countryside?

-Absolutely.

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So, how well do you know Suffolk?

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We don't know Suffolk very well.

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A voyage of discovery for you both.

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-Yes.

-Why have you chosen Suffolk, then?

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We were looking to move back to New Zealand at some stage, and...

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-That's called Escape THE Country!

-Escape THE Country! Absolutely.

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Ha-ha!

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And Suffolk is quite similar to New Zealand in terms of countryside.

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This is sort of a compromise between the two.

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Well, you're still working, so it needs to be commutable.

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I've spoken to a few people in my work that do commute from Suffolk.

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I've had a look at the Sudbury commute,

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and that seems quite reasonable.

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Now, schools have got to be a factor coming up, haven't they?

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That's a key aspect of the property search for us -

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the schools available for the children.

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So let's talk about the house itself. And its environment.

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You're from New Zealand, so I imagine you want to be in the middle of nowhere.

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This is where we compromise again.

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I would rather be in the middle of a village.

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Matt would rather be in the middle of nowhere.

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So I think somewhere in between that would be ideal.

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What does it look like, then, this dream countryside property, then, Laura?

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Ideally four bedrooms at least.

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An annexe would be nice.

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If people are coming to stay,

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-I think it's nice for them to have their own space.

-OK.

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Especially for people staying from New Zealand,

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that are over here for extended periods of time.

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That makes perfect sense, so, like your folks, of course.

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-Absolutely, yeah.

-OK, style-wise, have you got anything you both like?

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We've looked at barn conversions,

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we've looked at Victorian properties.

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We'd prefer something with a bit of character.

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-Yes. Now, outside. Big garden?

-Yes.

-How big?

-Huge!

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Why did I even ask that question?!

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-Matt would like five acres. I'm a bit more realistic.

-Good.

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I'll go with your answer, then, Laura. Any particular no-noes?

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-We don't want it right on a main road.

-Let's talk about budget.

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I understand you've got two options, haven't you?

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We have. We have a property in Stevenage at the moment

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and we'd quite like to keep that and rent it out,

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or selling it would increase the budget somewhat over here.

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So, if you keep your property in Stevenage,

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how much would you be able to spend here?

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-I think 450 is realistic.

-OK, and if you sell your property in Stevenage?

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-550-650.

-OK.

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So, how about, then, we look around 450-ish, option one, and 550-ish,

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maybe squeezing a bit more out of it, for option number two?

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-Sounds a good plan.

-Great.

-Let's get going.

-Lovely, thanks.

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Having a budget in the region of 450,000 and £550,000, Laura and Matt

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are looking for a four-bed detached property with

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lots of space for their growing girls to explore and enough land

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to appreciate rural living, but also not too far from a local village.

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We've got some gorgeous properties lined up which reflect

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the bountiful architectural heritage of Suffolk that Laura

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and Matt love, combined with the space they're longing for.

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At the end of the house tours, I'll be asking them

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to estimate the price of each.

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Our final stop will be the mystery house, which provides an alternative

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option and may make them reconsider elements of their wish list.

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So, have you lived in the countryside before, Laura?

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I haven't, no. I'm what you would describe as a townie.

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Is it daunting?

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A little bit, yeah, because I'd be leaving my family,

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but then Matt wants to live in the countryside.

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I'd still be lucky enough for my parents

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and friends and family

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to come and stay with us at weekends.

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We're not a million miles away.

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That sounds like a mother-in-law staying at your house a lot.

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Absolutely. Hence the requirement for an annexe!

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What do your folks think about you moving away?

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I think Mum would prefer us to move to Suffolk than New Zealand.

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They just want me to do whatever makes me happy.

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So what sort of things do you want to do in your new life in the country?

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Have you any ideas of things you want to do as a family?

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New things?

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We'd like to be more involved in the community, basically,

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and have some close relationships with people that live around us

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and just get involved in the country lifestyle.

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We've got a couple of really active young girls

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and we want them to grow up with the ability

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to do some... Get outdoors and see a bit of the country.

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Your children will be growing up as country bumpkins.

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Won't they? Not townies!

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All we need to do now is find you the right house.

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-In the right community.

-Yes. Definitely.

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We're beginning our search in the village of Bacton.

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This popular and attractive village is set around a pond

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and offers a local store and post office,

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pub and garden centre with cafe.

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There's also a highly regarded school, which could be

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a good option for Matt and Laura's girls.

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On the edge of the village and just a gentle saunter

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from the centre of the community is the property we're going to view.

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Now, you told me you like a variety of styles,

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so what do you think of this one?

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Wow, it's very pretty.

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It's beautiful.

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-Yeah, I really like it.

-Do you?

-Yes.

-Good!

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I like the windows.

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It's lovely. It's set back from the road. Nice and quiet. Yeah.

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But with a few neighbours.

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To bake cakes for. I'm building a picture of your life. I want in!

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-I do bake.

-Good. Let's go inside.

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This substantial, Grade II-listed,

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picture-postcard cottage has origins dating back to

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the late 17th century and, although modernised throughout,

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retains many original and characterful features.

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OK, let's start in the kitchen because, by the sounds of it,

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-you are going to be spending quite a bit of time in here.

-Yes.

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It's lovely. Nice, open-plan.

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I love the fact that the conservatory area comes off of the kitchen,

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-because it makes the kitchen look a lot bigger.

-Yeah.

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-It's a good family space.

-Somewhere to cook, eat, entertain. That's right.

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And that would really suit our lifestyle, wouldn't it?

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I love cooking. I love being in the kitchen.

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-We could certainly live in here very happily.

-Happy families!

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Also on the ground floor is a study and a shower room,

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which would be useful for visiting family.

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Your main living room.

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OK, this is cosy.

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Yeah, nice. Very cosy.

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But, what you get with all this wonderful timber

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is the character just oozing from the walls, don't you?

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-It's beautiful. The timber is beautiful.

-Yeah, the wood is a really lovely colour.

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There is planning consent to go through there -

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see where that window is? And keep those big timber uprights.

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You've got a really nice opportunity for another ground-floor room.

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-So this could lead into a much bigger living room.

-Yeah.

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Formal dining room, whatever you want to use it for.

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-It's a really pretty room. Yeah. Lots of potential.

-Yeah?

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Now, before we go upstairs, I want to show you one room down here,

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because I think it lends itself to what you're after.

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So follow me.

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OK, so this, officially, is the other reception room.

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But, as the current owners have elderly parents,

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-they use this when they come to stay.

-OK.

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So this is a nice guest room.

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And it's a nice place to have a guest room.

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So, would you keep it just as this?

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Well, it could be a good children's playroom, as well,

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when it's not being occupied by friends and family.

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I'm looking around and I'm thinking, where I would fit my furniture?

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And it's the first house that I've seen, that I've done that.

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Let's go upstairs and look at the bedrooms.

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Matt asked for four,

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and with the option of the fourth being downstairs, upstairs

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there are two double bedrooms, one single, and a family bathroom.

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Now, this is your master bedroom.

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-Wow!

-OK.

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That is a wall, isn't it?

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Yeah! It's a gold wall!

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It's actually made out of real Suffolk gold.

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LAURA LAUGHS

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-It's quite a statement, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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A bit more light might open it up a bit. It is a reasonable-sized room.

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That's for sure.

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It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it's just a room.

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It's not wowing you.

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But, does a bedroom need to wow you?

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-The most important rooms in the house are downstairs.

-Yeah, exactly.

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Let's go outside and talk about outside space.

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We'll also have a think about how much

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this place might be on the market for.

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Deceptively small-looking from the front of the property,

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the garden actually stretches out and round the cottage,

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which sits within a third-of-an-acre plot.

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-Now, all-important outside space.

-Nice. Absolutely.

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I really like it. I think it's a lovely size. It's manageable.

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And of course, this isn't the smallholding that

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I know you dream of, Matt.

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-We're not going to be running 50 sheep on it, but...

-Just two girls!

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-Yeah, the two girls.

-Maybe a couple of chickens.

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So, how much do you think it is?

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I'm thinking 435,000.

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-OK, I was going to say the lower end of our budget at 450.

-Well...

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Not great news for you.

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This place is on the market for offers around £485,000.

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I think that reflects its position.

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It's in one of those rare old villages that has the pub,

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the post office, the shop, Stowmarket,

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one hour and 26 minutes on the train, so it's commutable.

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-You've got the village community.

-Yes.

-And you got outside space.

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-Mm-hm.

-Now, I think you should go back into the house

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and have a look around all the other rooms

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and then I'll meet you back out here, and we'll move on.

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-OK, thank you.

-Enjoy.

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That was the first house. I've seen some great reactions from them both.

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And I think, as Laura said, they could see themselves living here.

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So, good start.

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£65,000 under the top end of their budget,

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this cottage offers up four bedrooms,

0:16:560:16:59

a large, sociable kitchen

0:16:590:17:01

and a garden big enough for the girls to explore.

0:17:010:17:04

With a convenient layout for when family come to stay

0:17:040:17:06

and being a stone's throw from a village community,

0:17:060:17:09

it's pretty much what Laura and Matt were after.

0:17:090:17:12

I thought the house was absolutely beautiful. Really impressive.

0:17:120:17:15

Lovely. Nice bit of land behind it.

0:17:150:17:17

-I think the girls would like playing here.

-Yes.

-Plenty of room for them.

0:17:170:17:21

-Yeah. And it's interesting, as well.

-It is.

0:17:210:17:24

Interesting garden, and it's mature. I love all these trees.

0:17:240:17:26

Yeah, they're beautiful.

0:17:260:17:28

I absolutely fell in love with the kitchen, conservatory area.

0:17:280:17:32

And downstairs had an extra room which would be ideal as a playroom or

0:17:320:17:37

a guest room, and I think that would really work well for us as a family.

0:17:370:17:42

-Cosy little room, isn't it?

-It is.

0:17:440:17:46

I think Elizabeth would like this room.

0:17:460:17:48

Yeah. At the moment. She'd soon outgrow it, though.

0:17:480:17:51

I'm aware that the property does have planning permission to add an

0:17:510:17:54

extension on, but, as it is at the moment, probably quite tight for us.

0:17:540:17:59

I really like this house and, if it meant that we could

0:17:590:18:02

keep our current house, then I would happily live here.

0:18:020:18:05

-So, all done inside?

-Yes, we're done.

0:18:070:18:09

Didn't bang your head on any beams?

0:18:090:18:11

-No.

-I must have missed them all.

0:18:110:18:13

-So, you could get used to it, then, maybe?

-Yeah, possibly, yeah.

0:18:130:18:16

-Truth be told, that's all I want to hear. Let's get going.

-Fantastic.

0:18:160:18:21

The Suffolk countryside is home to extensive views

0:18:290:18:32

and an undulating terrain, and below this surface lies land rich in clay.

0:18:320:18:36

In Bulmer, on the Suffolk-Essex border,

0:18:360:18:39

there's a site dating back to the Middle Ages, where clay

0:18:390:18:42

is still being used today to make decorative terracotta

0:18:420:18:45

plaques in the style of the past.

0:18:450:18:48

We sent Laura and Matt, who are keen to find out about the local area

0:18:480:18:51

and traditions, to meet tile- and brick-maker Peter Minter,

0:18:510:18:55

whose family have been running this brickyard since 1936.

0:18:550:18:58

Good morning. Nice to meet you, nice to meet you. Jolly good.

0:18:580:19:02

So, Peter, is the clay local clay?

0:19:020:19:05

We are sitting on a clay seam.

0:19:050:19:06

This is the north edge of the Thames Estuary, would you believe?

0:19:060:19:09

And this was all the silt in that estuary.

0:19:090:19:12

And it's a very clean, fine clay.

0:19:120:19:14

And that's perfect for making a whole range of things.

0:19:140:19:17

-What are you going to do today?

-Well, I think we'll make some plaques.

0:19:170:19:20

These are plaques.

0:19:200:19:21

This is a carving of a traditional Tudor rose from the time of

0:19:210:19:24

the Wars of the Roses, and this is a little stylised rose.

0:19:240:19:27

And they are carved in wood in reverse and then moulded

0:19:270:19:30

and we shall see that process.

0:19:300:19:31

Peter makes all the plaques using traditional moulds made

0:19:330:19:36

out of mahogany, which enable them to retain their shape.

0:19:360:19:39

Rescued by Peter's father after the Second World War,

0:19:390:19:43

the mould they are using today was one of many set to be burned

0:19:430:19:46

before he brought them back into use.

0:19:460:19:48

We have come to the making shop to try to make a decorative

0:19:480:19:52

plaque for you. So this has been sanded, ready to throw the clay in.

0:19:520:19:55

And we're going to roll the clay in sand, rather as you would use

0:19:550:19:58

flour with dough, so that the two will come apart.

0:19:580:20:01

And if you have a look here, here's the start of rolling what is

0:20:010:20:04

called a warp, which is the shape that's going to go in there.

0:20:040:20:07

So it just needs a little bit of sand, just literally to roll it in,

0:20:070:20:10

and you can roll back like that, you just get each corner

0:20:100:20:13

just slightly rolled, and then it will go into that box, we hope.

0:20:130:20:18

As one piece. That's it.

0:20:180:20:22

That's lovely. And then, if you punch from the centre,

0:20:240:20:27

push it in, we're going to push it into each corner with your fist.

0:20:270:20:31

That's it.

0:20:330:20:34

It's really good fun.

0:20:350:20:36

And then just fold it in slightly from the edges. That's perfect.

0:20:370:20:41

Then we bow off the surplus clay.

0:20:430:20:46

-Like that?

-That's it.

0:20:460:20:48

Press down and draw along. Lovely! And then roll that back.

0:20:480:20:53

That's it.

0:20:560:20:58

-I'll take that.

-That's the start of the next brick.

0:21:000:21:03

And then we take a metal, we call it a strike.

0:21:030:21:06

Just put a little bit of water on there, as well,

0:21:060:21:08

and then you can just smooth that off with that rod.

0:21:080:21:11

Right along the top, there. That's perfect.

0:21:110:21:14

This has got to go onto a board, when you turn it out,

0:21:140:21:17

so we put a little sand on there, just like a flour again,

0:21:170:21:20

so the next thing is to pick it up.

0:21:200:21:23

That's it. That's lovely, perfect.

0:21:230:21:26

You've got a job!

0:21:260:21:28

THEY LAUGH

0:21:280:21:29

That's lovely. Pick up a board, lay it on top.

0:21:290:21:33

Turn it over.

0:21:360:21:38

And with a bit of luck, it should, hopefully, come out.

0:21:410:21:45

-And...

-Just give it a little wiggle.

0:21:450:21:47

-Slowly. Not too much. Just straight up.

-You're so bossy!

0:21:470:21:51

-Oh, wow!

-How about that?

-Fantastic.

0:21:540:21:58

So, now, you're going to put this to dry,

0:21:580:22:00

and during the drying process, it will shrink.

0:22:000:22:02

Once the plaques are out of the moulds,

0:22:020:22:04

they need to dry out for around three to four weeks

0:22:040:22:07

before they can be fired in a coal-burning downdraught kiln.

0:22:070:22:10

This is the kiln.

0:22:120:22:14

Why do you dry the plaques out before you put them in the kiln?

0:22:140:22:17

Because if you've got moisture present when it heats up,

0:22:170:22:19

it will turn to steam, and the whole thing will disintegrate.

0:22:190:22:22

Your plaque, once it's dry, will be dry enough to go in here,

0:22:220:22:24

and we shall pack it in with other bricks.

0:22:240:22:26

And put it at the height that we want to get the colour,

0:22:260:22:28

because the colour is affected by the height it is in the kiln.

0:22:280:22:31

What sort of temperatures do you get in the kiln?

0:22:310:22:33

At the top of the kiln, about 1,100 centigrade. So it's quite hot.

0:22:330:22:36

Is there much variation between the top and the bottom?

0:22:360:22:39

About 200 degrees.

0:22:390:22:40

-So the hotter they are, the paler in colour?

-No, darker.

0:22:400:22:43

Your plaque will be put in the middle to protect it,

0:22:430:22:45

so that it comes out a perfect red.

0:22:450:22:47

And you leave it that way for...?

0:22:470:22:49

Three days. Three days to fire it, and three days cooling.

0:22:490:22:52

-So in a couple of months' time, your plaque should be ready.

-Fantastic.

0:22:520:22:56

Lovely, thank you.

0:22:560:22:57

It's very nice to have met you, and thanks very much for coming.

0:22:570:23:00

-Thank you for a fantastic day out.

-Jolly good. Very good. Thank you.

0:23:000:23:03

-Lovely.

-Bye-bye.

0:23:030:23:05

Our house-hunt continues in the hamlet of Creeting St Peter.

0:23:120:23:16

Nearby is the town of Needham Market,

0:23:160:23:19

which originally grew up around the wool-combing industry,

0:23:190:23:22

and where there's a butcher, a baker, a post office and two pubs.

0:23:220:23:27

The property we're going to visit is 2.5 miles

0:23:270:23:30

from this thriving community and a five-minute drive

0:23:300:23:33

to a local primary school for Laura and Matt's girls.

0:23:330:23:36

Now, someone here mentioned they liked the idea of a barn conversion.

0:23:360:23:40

Mmm.

0:23:400:23:42

-There you go.

-OK.

0:23:420:23:45

-Fantastic.

-Interesting.

0:23:450:23:47

All this timber-clad building is yours,

0:23:470:23:50

from the two-storey building, all the way along here.

0:23:500:23:53

And the living accommodation ends right there at the carport.

0:23:530:23:56

-It's quite extensive, isn't it?

-Mmm.

0:23:560:23:58

I think it looks quite small from the outside,

0:23:580:24:01

but I think it's going to actually be quite big.

0:24:010:24:03

Now, can you hear that?

0:24:030:24:05

That's the train that takes you into London in one hour and 26 minutes.

0:24:050:24:09

The station is less than a couple of miles away. At Stowmarket.

0:24:090:24:12

What do you really think about this area?

0:24:120:24:14

It seems a bit more in the middle of nowhere for me.

0:24:140:24:18

The convenience of the train is quite appealing.

0:24:180:24:21

Inside, this could be the house that you fall in love with.

0:24:210:24:25

It really, really could be. Let's go and find out.

0:24:250:24:29

Stylishly converted 12 years ago,

0:24:290:24:31

this Grade II-listed barn has foundations which date back

0:24:310:24:34

to 1753, and sits within a development of eight dwellings.

0:24:340:24:38

Right, first off, I want to point out

0:24:410:24:43

you've got a utility room just there.

0:24:430:24:45

-Brilliant.

-Big tick for you, isn't it?

0:24:450:24:47

-Yes.

-Absolutely!

-Now, kitchen.

-Ah!

0:24:470:24:50

-Well, that's nice.

-I like the kitchen, lovely island in the middle.

0:24:520:24:56

Now, they've spent some money on this house, especially in the kitchen. You can see it.

0:24:560:25:01

Shot-blasted granite worktops, state-of-the-art cookers.

0:25:010:25:05

Yeah, very contemporary, yet still quite country at the same time.

0:25:050:25:09

Yeah, and if you look through those double doorways,

0:25:090:25:12

-you've got a really good-sized dining room.

-Yes.

-I'm liking it.

0:25:120:25:16

Through that door that way, you got a living room

0:25:160:25:20

and an en-suite double bedroom.

0:25:200:25:23

-OK.

-Right.

0:25:230:25:25

-That's almost like an axe.

-Oh, wow!

0:25:260:25:29

So you can go and discover that later on,

0:25:290:25:31

-but I just want you to know that is there while we walk through the rest of the house.

-OK.

0:25:310:25:35

Come with me.

0:25:350:25:36

-Now, I really like this room.

-Oh, yeah.

-I think you will, too.

0:25:390:25:42

Fantastic, yeah.

0:25:420:25:43

-It's a good size, isn't it?

-It's a really nice room.

0:25:450:25:48

It's got a lot of what you liked in the previous house, but then, look!

0:25:480:25:53

-Just more space.

-Yeah, beautifully decorated.

-It certainly is.

0:25:530:25:58

-Nice flooring. Very impressive.

-I like this room.

0:25:580:26:02

-You like the inside of this house, don't you?

-I do. I really do.

0:26:020:26:05

-And because of that, the outside is growing on me, too.

-Good.

0:26:050:26:09

It's all about the package. Of course it is.

0:26:090:26:11

Let's keep looking around. Let me take you to one of the bedrooms -

0:26:110:26:14

-I think you'll like those, as well.

-Yep.

0:26:140:26:16

Due to the unique layout of this barn conversion,

0:26:180:26:21

on the ground floor there are two double bedrooms

0:26:210:26:24

and two bathrooms located at either end of the property.

0:26:240:26:27

On the first floor, there are a further three double bedrooms -

0:26:270:26:30

one currently used as a library, one as a study - and two more bathrooms.

0:26:300:26:37

Obviously, this is your master, en suite.

0:26:390:26:42

-I think you can get all your family at this end of the house.

-Yeah.

-Yes!

0:26:420:26:47

-It's lovely.

-Definitely!

-I love the timber.

0:26:470:26:50

And what we love about it

0:26:500:26:52

is that it's so separated from the kitchen/dining room,

0:26:520:26:55

so if you've got friends over and you're having a party

0:26:550:26:59

and it's a little bit noisy, it's not going to disturb...

0:26:590:27:02

The little ones, yeah, good idea.

0:27:020:27:03

Don't forget downstairs, there's a double bedroom,

0:27:030:27:07

great for visiting relatives.

0:27:070:27:10

-I really feel at home here. Do you?

-Yeah, I could see myself living here.

0:27:110:27:16

-I think the layout would suit us really well.

-Yeah.

0:27:160:27:19

You spied that other bit of garden from the living room.

0:27:190:27:22

Let's go out there and also maybe start thinking about the price.

0:27:220:27:26

'Since viewing the inside of the barn,

0:27:260:27:28

'the property seems to have grown on Laura especially.

0:27:280:27:31

'But let's see if the landscape garden here of half an acre

0:27:310:27:35

'lives up to expectation, too.'

0:27:350:27:36

This is a really handy bit of garden space here, isn't it?

0:27:360:27:39

-Yes.

-Absolutely, yeah.

-I really like this.

0:27:390:27:42

A little bit overgrown at the moment,

0:27:420:27:43

-but you can really do something with this space.

-Definitely.

0:27:430:27:46

Nice views of the countryside here.

0:27:460:27:48

Compare your thoughts or reactions now to your first reactions

0:27:480:27:52

when you were stood on the other side of that building.

0:27:520:27:54

Yeah, well, I was a bit disappointed when we first saw the garden.

0:27:540:27:57

But, actually, I've walked around the house and I've come out here

0:27:570:28:02

and there's a lot more garden out here and it's beautiful.

0:28:020:28:06

You just keep finding more and more house, don't you,

0:28:060:28:09

and more and more garden? So, yeah, it's quite surprising.

0:28:090:28:12

OK, then, your next problem is to guess the price of this house.

0:28:120:28:16

-Well, I definitely think it's the top end of our top budget.

-OK.

0:28:160:28:20

But I don't think you'd be so mean as to show us somewhere

0:28:200:28:24

that I would fall in love with that we couldn't afford.

0:28:240:28:27

-So I would say £600,000.

-OK.

0:28:270:28:30

I'm going to go slightly lower.

0:28:310:28:33

-I think £580,000.

-Good guess.

0:28:330:28:36

You'll be pleased to hear that this place is on the market

0:28:360:28:38

-for offers around £575,000.

-Wow!

-Wow!

-That's good, isn't it?

0:28:380:28:43

That's surprising! Yeah, I was being optimistic with my 580.

0:28:430:28:47

-That's really doable.

-Yeah.

-I like that.

-Something to think about?

-Yes.

0:28:470:28:53

Good package, isn't it, really?

0:28:530:28:55

-Yeah.

-I'm impressed.

-I love this house! I love it!

0:28:550:28:59

Well, I love hearing that.

0:28:590:29:01

Now, look, I think you should go back into the house,

0:29:010:29:03

have a look at all the rooms you haven't yet seen.

0:29:030:29:05

Maybe the guest suite - the guest wing, should we call it? -

0:29:050:29:08

at the other side of the kitchen

0:29:080:29:09

and I'll meet you outside whenever you're done.

0:29:090:29:11

-All right?

-OK, brilliant. See you in a mo.

-Thank you.

0:29:110:29:13

Well, this house has really grown on both Laura and Matt

0:29:140:29:19

and I think a lot of that is, of course, the size of the accommodation.

0:29:190:29:22

It's been really well done

0:29:220:29:24

and I do actually think this is a contender this time.

0:29:240:29:27

At the very top end of their budget, this stunning barn conversion

0:29:300:29:33

with four bedrooms and contemporary kitchen

0:29:330:29:36

offers the perfect solution for separate guest accommodation.

0:29:360:29:39

So there's plenty of room for Laura and Matt to play with.

0:29:390:29:42

-Oh, this is a nice space.

-Yeah.

0:29:460:29:48

Like a fantastic playroom for the girls

0:29:480:29:51

and just somewhere they can mess up and you can shut the door on it!

0:29:510:29:55

-Yeah!

-Space is what we were after and this place definitely delivers that.

0:29:550:30:00

Walking round the house, the rooms are all lovely.

0:30:000:30:04

It's beautifully decorated.

0:30:040:30:05

-This would make a fantastic guest room, wouldn't it?

-Yeah.

0:30:070:30:10

Yeah, very impressive.

0:30:100:30:12

I love the style, this place has been done very tastefully.

0:30:120:30:15

-Another bathroom.

-Oh, wow!

0:30:150:30:17

Brilliant.

0:30:200:30:21

-Your mum and dad would be pretty happy with this, wouldn't they?

-Mmm.

-As would mine.

0:30:210:30:25

Possibly where this house falls short is on the outside space.

0:30:250:30:30

If we were to buy this house, because it is at the top

0:30:300:30:33

end of our budget, we would have to sell our house in Stevenage.

0:30:330:30:36

But I think, for a house like this,

0:30:360:30:37

that would be something I'd be willing to do.

0:30:370:30:40

Tell me, guys - what was it like spending some time

0:30:410:30:44

-in this house on your own? Did it grow on you even more?

-Yes.

0:30:440:30:48

-Yeah.

-Yep. I really like this house.

0:30:480:30:52

It's surprising how you've almost turned a corner.

0:30:520:30:54

You said it looked quite nice, but you weren't certain about the area.

0:30:540:30:57

-But you really seem to have warmed to it.

-I have.

0:30:570:31:00

The inside is just fabulous.

0:31:000:31:03

Mmm. I have, too.

0:31:030:31:05

I liked it to start with,

0:31:050:31:06

but seeing the inside just makes it even more...

0:31:060:31:09

-Hopefully, something to sleep on now, isn't it?

-Yes.

-Let's go.

0:31:090:31:12

It's the second day of our property search in Suffolk,

0:31:200:31:23

with Laura and Matt from Stevenage in Hertfordshire,

0:31:230:31:26

who have a budget of between £450-550,000.

0:31:260:31:32

They're ready to leave busy suburbia behind and enjoy the space

0:31:320:31:35

and freedom country living can provide for their growing family.

0:31:350:31:39

Coming up, they're blown away by what's on offer.

0:31:390:31:42

Every time you turn a corner in this place,

0:31:420:31:44

it just gets better, doesn't it? Just space.

0:31:440:31:46

And I take to the water in search of one Suffolk's finest delicacies.

0:31:460:31:51

-Wow!

-That must be 20 years old.

-What are you going to do with that?

0:31:510:31:54

-We'll use it for oyster soup.

-Ooh, lovely!

0:31:540:31:56

I think it's fair to say that Matt and Laura

0:31:590:32:01

rather like barn conversions, so I'm going to stick with that theme

0:32:010:32:04

for the first house today.

0:32:040:32:05

Then, we're off to the mystery house.

0:32:050:32:07

Now, often, this is a bit of a gamble.

0:32:070:32:10

But I was quite pleased with how Laura reacted to the rural

0:32:100:32:12

location of house number two.

0:32:120:32:15

And although the mystery house is the most rural of all

0:32:150:32:17

the locations that Matt and Laura are looking at, I think it's

0:32:170:32:20

worth this gamble, because Matt, in particular, should be laughing here.

0:32:200:32:24

It comes with three acres of land, so plenty for all of his sheep.

0:32:240:32:28

But before the mystery property,

0:32:300:32:32

our search is taking us to the village of Old Newton.

0:32:320:32:35

Close by is the ancient village of Haughley,

0:32:350:32:37

the market for which was once an important

0:32:370:32:40

and historical hub for the area,

0:32:400:32:42

until a great fire in the 1500s destroyed much of the village,

0:32:420:32:45

and brought about the end of the market, which was then moved

0:32:450:32:48

to nearby Stowmarket.

0:32:480:32:50

Today, there are still a range of amenities.

0:32:510:32:54

And, 1.5 miles away, just around the corner from the nearest

0:32:540:32:57

primary school, our offering can be found in the heart of the community.

0:32:570:33:02

You might not guess it quite yet,

0:33:030:33:05

-but this is actually a barn conversion.

-Right.

0:33:050:33:09

What do we think?

0:33:110:33:12

-I really like it.

-I really like it, too.

-You like the position?

-I do.

0:33:120:33:15

You're only a ten-minute drive from Stowmarket,

0:33:150:33:17

so good train access back into London.

0:33:170:33:19

It's a strange shape, isn't it? Interesting shape.

0:33:200:33:24

When you think barn conversion, you think lots of beams,

0:33:240:33:26

but I don't think there's going to be lots of beams.

0:33:260:33:29

-I think it could be quite modern inside.

-Yeah.

0:33:290:33:32

-I think you're going to like this place.

-OK.

-Great.

0:33:320:33:34

Let's go inside.

0:33:340:33:36

Formerly a Victorian threshing barn built in 1847,

0:33:360:33:40

this property has phenomenal proportions

0:33:400:33:42

and certainly isn't shy of space.

0:33:420:33:45

Sympathetically converted in 2003,

0:33:450:33:48

it's also been refurbished since by the current owners.

0:33:480:33:51

This could be a really nice, light reception hall there,

0:33:530:33:56

with those blinds taken up.

0:33:560:33:58

But take a look at this.

0:33:580:34:00

Oh, yes!

0:34:000:34:03

I like that!

0:34:030:34:04

-THAT is a fireplace.

-That IS a fireplace.

0:34:050:34:08

-That's fantastic.

-That's pretty special.

-What a room.

0:34:080:34:12

Christmas, can you imagine it in this house? Look at this room!

0:34:120:34:16

I'm already decorating the room.

0:34:160:34:18

We could have the whole extended family for Christmas, yeah.

0:34:180:34:21

We've got stockings over the fireplace...

0:34:210:34:23

-So - big enough, isn't it?

-It certainly is.

0:34:250:34:29

I really like the style of the house inside so far.

0:34:290:34:32

-Favourite living room so far?

-Absolutely.

-Definitely.

0:34:320:34:34

-It beats the previous one.

-And you liked that one, didn't you?

0:34:340:34:38

-I did like that one.

-OK, let's keep looking around.

0:34:380:34:41

Just wanted to have a quick peek into here,

0:34:440:34:46

because I thought, Christmas dinner.

0:34:460:34:49

Oh, yeah.

0:34:490:34:50

-It's cosy in here, isn't it?

-It's lovely.

0:34:500:34:52

-Imagine the whole family in here, gathered round the table.

-Yeah.

0:34:520:34:55

-It makes a great, great formal dining room.

-Doesn't it just?

0:34:550:34:59

But you've got space in the kitchen, as well - let me show you.

0:34:590:35:02

Also on the ground floor, there's a study which could provide either

0:35:030:35:06

a playroom for the girls or a further guest room for family.

0:35:060:35:10

-Mind your step on the way down here.

-OK.

-Now...

0:35:100:35:13

Wow.

0:35:130:35:15

This is nice.

0:35:150:35:18

Every time you turn a corner in this place, it just gets better.

0:35:180:35:21

Good. I'm glad you said that. And bigger!

0:35:210:35:22

Just space. Lots and lots of space.

0:35:220:35:25

Beyond there, you've got a utility room and a downstairs loo.

0:35:250:35:28

-Yeah.

-Sorted.

-Sorted!

0:35:280:35:31

They've done a fantastic job of it, too.

0:35:310:35:34

-Well, I'm glad you like it.

-Very nice.

0:35:340:35:36

Nice mixture of wood, brick and... plastered surfaces. Yeah, that's...

0:35:360:35:40

-It's got a great feel to it.

-It has. It's beautiful.

0:35:400:35:44

-Great news. Let's go upstairs.

-Thank you.

-Come with me.

0:35:440:35:47

'Up past this vast, vaulted hallway on the first floor,'

0:35:480:35:52

there are four double bedrooms -

0:35:520:35:54

two of which benefit from en suites -

0:35:540:35:56

plus, there's a family bathroom.

0:35:560:35:58

The master bedroom.

0:36:010:36:02

-Just keeps delivering, this place, doesn't it?

-It does. Wow.

0:36:050:36:08

And I'm guessing through that door there, there's en suite?

0:36:080:36:12

Yeah, I like this bedroom a lot.

0:36:120:36:14

-Just the sense of space and light and...

-Mm. The high ceilings.

-Yeah.

0:36:140:36:21

We really like high ceilings, don't we?

0:36:210:36:23

-It's exactly what we're looking for.

-Mm-hm.

-Good.

0:36:230:36:27

Well, you've reacted really, really well.

0:36:270:36:29

I wonder if your prices are going to reflect your reactions.

0:36:290:36:34

Let's go outside and have a chat.

0:36:340:36:35

So far, so good.

0:36:370:36:39

However, whilst the well-manicured garden here completely envelopes

0:36:390:36:43

the property, there's only 0.4 of an acre of land,

0:36:430:36:46

so I'm hoping that won't dampen their spirits.

0:36:460:36:48

Now then, you can see you've got these different segments of the garden again.

0:36:500:36:54

-A bit like yesterday afternoon.

-Yes.

0:36:540:36:57

-Do you like it?

-It's really nicely done.

-I really like it.

0:36:570:37:00

You've got the play area for the girls

0:37:010:37:04

-and then the party/entertainment area for us.

-Exactly.

0:37:040:37:08

So...come on, then, tell me -

0:37:080:37:11

how much do think this house is on the market for?

0:37:110:37:15

I think you've been a bit mean to us, Jonnie, and I think you've

0:37:150:37:17

gone right to the top, if not a little bit over our budget.

0:37:170:37:21

-So, I'm thinking around the £610,000 mark.

-All right.

0:37:210:37:25

I'd say 600, definitely top-end.

0:37:250:37:29

Well...

0:37:290:37:31

this place is on the market for offers around £550,000.

0:37:310:37:35

-Wow!

-Wow!

0:37:350:37:36

No way!

0:37:360:37:38

-No way!

-Yeah.

-I'm shocked.

0:37:390:37:42

It's a good shocked - it's in budget!

0:37:420:37:43

-That's a lot of house for the money.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:37:430:37:46

I think the house has absolutely blown us away,

0:37:460:37:49

and I think with the quality of the house and the space that the

0:37:490:37:52

house offers, the compromise on the land is one I could easily make.

0:37:520:37:58

But also, I think because there's a field next door,

0:37:580:38:02

it gives you that sense of space.

0:38:020:38:04

Yeah, throws the eye, certainly. Good.

0:38:040:38:07

Well, look, go back into the house, have a good look around it.

0:38:070:38:10

You know what I'm going to ask you to do - start comparing this place

0:38:100:38:13

with what you've seen before now, and I will meet you outside. OK?

0:38:130:38:16

-OK.

-Great.

-See you in a mo.

-Thank you.

0:38:160:38:19

A fantastic house tour, make no mistake about it.

0:38:200:38:23

And the fact that Matt's now prepared to maybe consider

0:38:230:38:26

buying a place without any land, well, it's great news.

0:38:260:38:30

But we've got one more property to see.

0:38:300:38:32

Just under the top of their budget, this modern barn conversion

0:38:320:38:36

beautifully retains a sense of its heritage.

0:38:360:38:40

There are four bedrooms, plus more than enough living space

0:38:400:38:42

for their growing girls to enjoy, and to accommodate visiting family.

0:38:420:38:46

It sits on the edge of a village and is blessed with countryside views.

0:38:460:38:50

Walking into the first reception room, erm...

0:38:500:38:53

I don't think I've ever been in a room so big in a house in the UK.

0:38:530:38:56

It's... It's just amazing.

0:38:560:38:58

It's exceeded any expectations.

0:38:580:39:01

-I'd be tempted to have this bedroom...

-Really?

0:39:010:39:04

..as our bedroom, for the view.

0:39:040:39:06

-Oh, wow!

-That's what they're after, isn't it?

-Absolutely stunning.

0:39:060:39:11

Very nice.

0:39:110:39:12

The living space in this house would so suit our needs as a family.

0:39:120:39:17

There's big spaces and plenty of room for us to grow.

0:39:170:39:22

-Aww! This is a perfect little-girl bedroom, isn't it?

-Isn't it?

0:39:220:39:27

When I think about a country property that we would move to,

0:39:270:39:30

you know, this pretty much is it.

0:39:300:39:33

It delivers on everything we're asking for -

0:39:330:39:35

space, bit of character with the beams...

0:39:350:39:37

It's just everything we were looking for.

0:39:370:39:40

The house itself is beautiful.

0:39:400:39:42

It's got beautiful features, it's beautifully decorated...

0:39:420:39:47

It's my dream home.

0:39:470:39:48

-Now then, I think it's fair to say we all enjoyed looking round that house, didn't we?

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:39:500:39:55

-Did we potentially look around your new home?

-Yes!

0:39:550:39:58

Oh-ho-ho-ho! Straight in!

0:39:580:40:01

-But...yourself?

-I think we're both quite keen on the property.

-We are.

0:40:010:40:06

Well, we've got one more property to have a look at...

0:40:060:40:08

Let's get on the way.

0:40:080:40:10

-So for the mystery property, you know we mix things up a bit?

-Yes.

0:40:170:40:21

What do you think it could be today?

0:40:210:40:23

I think the mystery property could be a thatched cottage

0:40:230:40:28

on a fair bit of land that needs a bit of work done to it.

0:40:280:40:31

So you think you'd be getting the land

0:40:310:40:33

but the compromise would be the cottage in proportion...?

0:40:330:40:36

-Exactly, yeah.

-Yes.

0:40:360:40:38

-Would a thatched be really bad?

-Erm, not for me.

0:40:380:40:42

What do you think it might be, Laura?

0:40:440:40:46

Yeah, I think Matt's probably right there.

0:40:460:40:49

What would you personally love it to be?

0:40:490:40:51

I would love it to be something like the second house we saw yesterday,

0:40:530:41:00

but with the land that Matt wants.

0:41:000:41:02

You've really reacted well to character, to beams,

0:41:020:41:06

-to history, haven't you?

-Yeah. I love all that.

0:41:060:41:09

-And I like a little bit of quirkiness.

-Mm.

0:41:090:41:12

-But, erm...

-It's just got to have the space, as well.

0:41:120:41:15

That's the key element for us, with the rapidly growing family.

0:41:150:41:19

-So...

-Well...

0:41:190:41:21

..we're hoping for big things today.

0:41:210:41:25

You might get them. Careful what you wish for, mate!

0:41:250:41:28

For our mystery property, we're visiting the village of Offton.

0:41:320:41:36

Close by is the village of Somersham, which,

0:41:360:41:39

with a good sprinkling of old, traditional buildings,

0:41:390:41:41

has a tightknit community who run the village shop.

0:41:410:41:44

There's also a local primary school which would be handy for Laura and Matt's girls.

0:41:450:41:50

From here, it's just 2.5 miles to our next property,

0:41:500:41:53

which has a stunning rural setting.

0:41:530:41:55

-Now, the mystery house is this.

-OK.

0:41:570:42:00

What's going through your mind?

0:42:000:42:02

-That my daughter, Sophie, would absolutely love it.

-Ohh! Why so?

0:42:020:42:07

-It's pink.

-OK, well... All right! Suffolk pink it is.

0:42:070:42:11

-Pink.

-Yes.

-Very traditional.

0:42:110:42:13

-With lots of pargetting on the facade and the rear, as well.

-Mm.

0:42:130:42:16

I think it's very pretty.

0:42:160:42:18

-The house looks quite small from the outside.

-Mm...

0:42:180:42:22

Hoping it will be bigger inside.

0:42:220:42:24

So I'm imagining it's probably got something large that comes with it.

0:42:240:42:27

It has indeed. Come with me.

0:42:270:42:29

Steeped in history dating back to the 17th century,

0:42:290:42:33

this Grade II-listed cottage spent its former years as a pub

0:42:330:42:36

which closed in 1907.

0:42:360:42:39

Lovingly restored by the current owners,

0:42:390:42:41

it includes a host of period features.

0:42:410:42:44

There's a small pantry through that door there.

0:42:440:42:46

-Straight into the kitchen.

-Mm-hm.

0:42:460:42:50

-Mind your head.

-Yeah!

0:42:500:42:51

-It's cosy, isn't it?

-Yeah.

-Cosy.

-Cosy...

-And small.

0:42:530:42:58

Oh! Really? Come through with me...

0:42:580:43:00

SHE LAUGHS

0:43:000:43:01

Give it a chance! OK...

0:43:010:43:05

-A lot of history in here, isn't there?

-Yeah.

0:43:050:43:07

I love it, it's very pretty...

0:43:070:43:09

but, for our family living, this is too small.

0:43:090:43:14

I think I would have to agree with Laura on that one.

0:43:140:43:16

It is exceptionally lovely, but I think it's just a little bit...

0:43:160:43:21

-Not combining both these spaces, though?

-Yeah...

-You've got a separate dining room next door.

0:43:210:43:25

-OK, well, let's keep an open mind and see the rest of it and see how that pans out.

-All right, do that.

0:43:250:43:30

Now this dining room... If you like open fires, you'll be impressed.

0:43:330:43:37

-Awww!

-Look at that.

0:43:370:43:39

Wow! That's lovely. You can picture family dinners in here -

0:43:390:43:42

nice and cosy in the winter by the fire - can't you?

0:43:420:43:45

I think the reception room you would use is just this way.

0:43:450:43:48

OK, so the dedicated adults' room, I think.

0:43:490:43:53

-Nice and cosy in here, isn't it?

-Yeah!

0:43:540:43:56

Whoever's renovated it has done an absolutely fantastic job

0:43:560:44:00

of stripping all the wood back and making it look really pretty.

0:44:000:44:03

Yeah, beautifully done.

0:44:030:44:05

But we're not really talking about it being a home, are we?

0:44:050:44:08

-That says everything.

-I don't think it would suit us as a family.

0:44:080:44:11

-And a growing family at that.

-Mm.

0:44:110:44:14

Well, as you know, the mystery house is all about a gamble

0:44:140:44:17

and compromise, sometimes, so...we thought you may be pushed

0:44:170:44:22

-a little bit internally as regards to family size, of course.

-Yes.

0:44:220:44:29

But we chose it because it gives you something that you haven't

0:44:290:44:31

-yet seen, and that's lots of outside space.

-Mm.

0:44:310:44:35

-But before we go out there and have a look around the land...

-Sure.

0:44:350:44:40

-..let's have a quick peek at the bedroom.

-OK.

-Great.

0:44:400:44:43

On the ground floor, there's a further reception room -

0:44:430:44:46

which could be a fourth bedroom - and a family bathroom.

0:44:460:44:50

Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms and a shower room.

0:44:500:44:52

We're heading for the master.

0:44:520:44:54

-And...

-FLOOR CREAKS

0:44:570:44:58

..a creaky bedroom!

0:44:580:45:01

-I love that! Beautiful floorboards.

-They are, aren't they?

-They are.

0:45:010:45:05

-There'd be no sneaking in at night, though, would there?

-No!

0:45:050:45:07

-Not really, no.

-It's lovely.

0:45:070:45:10

I think it's a beautiful house.

0:45:100:45:12

Absolutely stunning. I think we both do.

0:45:120:45:14

But, in terms of the space aspect that we're really craving -

0:45:140:45:18

hence our move out of the city - erm, it's not got it.

0:45:180:45:23

Maybe this house can give you the space outside as opposed to inside.

0:45:230:45:27

-Yes.

-Come with me.

0:45:270:45:29

The land is the real selling point of this country cottage,

0:45:310:45:34

with veggie plot and stunning views.

0:45:340:45:37

There's over 3.5 acres here,

0:45:370:45:39

and I'm hoping this time Matt will be happy with his lot.

0:45:390:45:42

Now, the man wanted land. Satisfied?

0:45:420:45:47

-It's a good lump of land, isn't it?

-Isn't it?

-Yeah!

0:45:470:45:50

Cracking view from up here, isn't it?

0:45:500:45:52

I think, coming here and seeing, you know,

0:45:520:45:54

the land and what you get in terms of a house for the price,

0:45:540:45:58

and the compromise you have to make between the two, I'm swayed

0:45:580:46:02

more towards the house being the focal point, rather than the land.

0:46:020:46:05

So, how much do you think it's on the market for?

0:46:050:46:09

I'm thinking around the 450,000 mark.

0:46:090:46:12

-OK.

-I'd say 500.

0:46:120:46:14

-Ooh! Quite a spread.

-Yeah.

0:46:140:46:17

And it's split the camp,

0:46:170:46:19

because this place is on the market for offers around £475,000.

0:46:190:46:23

-OK.

-I feel like the mystery house on this occasion has been

0:46:230:46:26

an exercise in flushing things out.

0:46:260:46:28

Maybe you've already seen a property you like more

0:46:280:46:30

and it helps make your mind up.

0:46:300:46:32

So, have a quick scoot around on your way out and I'll meet you whenever you're ready, OK?

0:46:320:46:36

-OK.

-See you in a mo.

0:46:360:46:38

£75,000 under the top end of Laura and Matt's budget, this pretty pink

0:46:420:46:48

cottage offers the character they're after, a substantial amount of land

0:46:480:46:52

that Matt has always dreamt of, and the village location they hoped for.

0:46:520:46:56

However, the property itself just wasn't big enough to accommodate

0:46:560:47:00

the needs of their family.

0:47:000:47:03

The mystery house is a beautiful little cottage,

0:47:030:47:05

but probably just not right for us.

0:47:050:47:08

The house was very lovingly restored, but the rooms felt very small

0:47:080:47:13

and the ceilings were low.

0:47:130:47:15

We have two young, very energetic children who need space to grow

0:47:150:47:20

and to run. And I just feel that this cottage would be

0:47:200:47:24

too small for them to be able to do that.

0:47:240:47:27

It's helped me realise that the land that

0:47:270:47:30

I was longing for is possibly not as necessary as what I thought it was.

0:47:300:47:34

The best move for us would be to spend the extra money

0:47:340:47:37

and sell our house in Stevenage so that we could perhaps buy

0:47:370:47:40

a bigger place over here and get exactly what we want.

0:47:400:47:45

So, that's it.

0:47:450:47:46

-No more houses.

-Nope.

0:47:460:47:48

Maybe we've found you something that you really like. Hopefully so.

0:47:480:47:52

Let me take you somewhere you can have a chat

0:47:520:47:54

-and I'll catch up with you after that.

-OK, yeah.

-Fantastic.

0:47:540:47:56

Just outside this Suffolk coastal village of Orford sits

0:48:030:48:06

the three-mile-long Butley Creek,

0:48:060:48:08

a small tributary to the River Ore and a breeding ground for oysters,

0:48:080:48:12

which have been farmed here since Roman times.

0:48:120:48:16

By the early 20th century, the trade had almost completely died away.

0:48:160:48:19

That is until the 1950s, when Richard Pinney,

0:48:190:48:22

a Londoner keen to make his own escape to the country, heard of this

0:48:220:48:26

rich oyster heritage and reintroduced oysters to the creek.

0:48:260:48:30

Three generations later,

0:48:300:48:32

and Bill Pinney is still working the oyster beds.

0:48:320:48:35

So I've come to meet him to find out a little more about this

0:48:350:48:38

age-old tradition, and, of course, the delicious Butley oyster itself.

0:48:380:48:42

Bill, thanks very much for seeing me this morning.

0:48:430:48:46

Firstly, how would you describe what you do here?

0:48:460:48:48

-Well, we are oyster farming.

-Right.

0:48:480:48:49

We buy the oysters as very small seed

0:48:490:48:53

and grow them all the way through.

0:48:530:48:54

So on the river - on the surface to start with, in small mesh bags.

0:48:540:48:57

And when they get big enough, we put them on the bottom,

0:48:570:48:59

where they grow much more slowly. But they grow into a better oyster.

0:48:590:49:03

-So have you been out yet today?

-Not yet, no. Now is the time.

0:49:030:49:06

-Shall we go?

-Yeah.

-Good man.

0:49:060:49:07

Having been introduced to Europe's shores around 40 years ago,

0:49:090:49:12

the deep-shell oysters here are originally native to Japan,

0:49:120:49:15

and with Butley Creek being tidal, the mixture of fresh water,

0:49:150:49:19

salinity and natural plankton provides optimum conditions

0:49:190:49:23

for the growth of around 50,000 of these oysters each year.

0:49:230:49:27

So, what's going on in these ones, then?

0:49:270:49:29

We've got the small ones growing under us...

0:49:290:49:31

So these are ones you're growing, Bill?

0:49:350:49:38

Yeah, these are the baby oysters that are getting big enough

0:49:380:49:41

to go onto the ground. I'll show you.

0:49:410:49:44

These are very, very small, these ones.

0:49:460:49:50

-So, how long have these been in here?

-Yeah, we've had them six months.

0:49:500:49:53

And when you put them in here, how big would they have been?

0:49:530:49:56

Well, they were absolutely tiny.

0:49:560:49:58

I mean, they were just like the tip of the oyster there.

0:49:580:50:01

They were that small. These ones are getting near the end.

0:50:010:50:03

Probably in another three or four weeks they'll be big enough to go on the bottom.

0:50:030:50:07

Quite close to it, yeah.

0:50:070:50:08

Can we have a go of dredging some that have been there?

0:50:080:50:10

Yes, I'll take you on to a bed where they've been down

0:50:100:50:13

for about six or eight months and you'll see the difference in growth.

0:50:130:50:16

Great.

0:50:160:50:18

The oysters in these beds can be harvested all year round

0:50:180:50:20

using traditional methods which have barely changed

0:50:200:50:23

over the last 2,000 years.

0:50:230:50:26

Tugged behind the boat,

0:50:260:50:27

the heavy-framed dredge scrapes the oysters off the riverbed

0:50:270:50:31

and catches them in a net-like bag before it's

0:50:310:50:33

then pulled in by hand.

0:50:330:50:35

-Do you want to have a go?

-Yes!

-It's all yours, then.

0:50:370:50:39

-It's this way up? Just throw it in?

-Yep. Good.

0:50:410:50:46

I've got a good feeling about this one, Bill.

0:50:480:50:51

-It's all in the throw, I think.

-Yeah, we'll get a bag full.

0:50:510:50:53

Haul it in, then. See what you got.

0:50:530:50:56

-Pull it in.

-This side?

-That's right.

0:50:560:50:58

Feels heavier. Here we go. Moment of truth.

0:51:000:51:03

Got it? Oh, yeah, that's good. You've got half a dredge full.

0:51:060:51:11

Pull them in.

0:51:110:51:12

Look at the size of that!

0:51:140:51:16

Goodness me! Wow!

0:51:220:51:26

Well, this is more than six months old, isn't it?

0:51:270:51:30

Yeah, that's probably about 20 years old, I should think.

0:51:300:51:32

That's the size you would normally eat.

0:51:320:51:34

-What are you going to do with that?

-We'll use it for oyster soup.

0:51:340:51:36

-Oh, really?

-Yeah.

-Nice.

0:51:360:51:38

Or we might use it for angel on horseback, where we

0:51:380:51:40

-wrap it in bacon.

-Oh, lovely!

0:51:400:51:43

After being dredged, the oysters are washed

0:51:470:51:49

and purified before they are ready to eat.

0:51:490:51:51

And, having worked up an appetite on the water, I'm itching to try one.

0:51:510:51:55

But first, I've got to get past that shell. So, how do you open one?

0:51:550:52:00

-Because it looks difficult.

-There is a knack. In at that end, yeah?

0:52:000:52:03

Under the hinge, give it a little wiggle.

0:52:030:52:05

A little pressure, keep wriggling until you feel it pop in.

0:52:050:52:08

Keep going. That's it, you've got it, you've got it.

0:52:080:52:11

And then you just pop the top shell out.

0:52:110:52:13

You can just lift it up a bit and get your finger in.

0:52:130:52:15

And then just slide along the top shell. Cut the muscle.

0:52:150:52:20

Go in that way and you'll feel that top muscle give.

0:52:200:52:23

That's it, you've got it. Plump little oyster.

0:52:230:52:26

You're now going to cut underneath that muscle.

0:52:260:52:28

You slide the knife underneath the muscle there

0:52:280:52:32

and it's free from the shell. That's ready to go.

0:52:320:52:35

-How do you prefer to eat them?

-Most of our oysters are just eaten raw,

0:52:350:52:39

so we're going to put a little bit of lemon on them.

0:52:390:52:41

Sprinkle of red pepper, perhaps.

0:52:410:52:43

-Like most fresh things, the simpler the better, isn't it?

-Exactly.

0:52:450:52:49

-Your fork.

-Thank you, sir.

0:52:490:52:51

Mm!

0:52:550:52:56

That is gorgeous. That is absolutely gorgeous.

0:52:570:52:59

Well, I must say, Bill, it's not the quickest form of farming,

0:52:590:53:02

but it's certainly one of the tastiest. Thank you very, very much.

0:53:020:53:05

-It's been fascinating today.

-My pleasure.

0:53:050:53:07

-Best of luck for the future.

-Thank you.

0:53:070:53:08

Well, it's pretty clear that the barn conversion in the village

0:53:130:53:16

is Matt and Laura's favourite property.

0:53:160:53:18

But after a bit of time to think and consider things,

0:53:180:53:20

has it done enough to quash Matt's dream of a property with land,

0:53:200:53:24

and, indeed, tempt Laura away from her family and friends in Stevenage?

0:53:240:53:29

Let's catch up with them and find out.

0:53:290:53:31

So, your favourite house?

0:53:350:53:37

-It's got to be the barn conversion in the village.

-Definitely.

-Now...

0:53:370:53:42

Why is the barn conversion in the village your favourite property?

0:53:420:53:46

-What set it apart?

-The lounge was just fantastic, with the fireplace.

0:53:460:53:50

You couldn't fail to be impressed when you walked into that space.

0:53:500:53:54

And the fact that you walked through the house

0:53:540:53:56

-and it just gets better and better.

-Yeah, quite. As did your reactions.

0:53:560:54:01

-Yeah.

-Now, from my perspective, this looked like a two-horse race between

0:54:010:54:04

the semi-timber-clad barn conversion and the one we saw in the village.

0:54:040:54:08

The outside space in the village barn conversion worked much better.

0:54:080:54:11

It wrapped around the house a bit better

0:54:110:54:13

and the fact that it was right next to fields

0:54:130:54:15

and it had a beautiful vista over the fields, as well.

0:54:150:54:17

-Even if we didn't own them.

-Now, Matt, for you,

0:54:170:54:19

one of the big factors was land.

0:54:190:54:21

This barn conversion doesn't have a lot of it.

0:54:210:54:23

Has the house done enough for you?

0:54:230:54:26

I think so.

0:54:260:54:28

The house blew us away and that more than makes up for the...

0:54:280:54:31

Well, it's still got a reasonable amount of land.

0:54:310:54:33

It's 0.4 of an acre, which is not to be sneezed at.

0:54:330:54:37

To sacrifice the wide open fields that I'd envisaged,

0:54:370:54:41

-which are admittedly right next door to the property also...

-Yeah, quite.

0:54:410:54:45

-Yeah, so it's a perfect compromise for us.

-Because in that village...

0:54:450:54:49

You started to sound quite interested in that community

0:54:490:54:53

aspect, which, beforehand, in New Zealand, I think

0:54:530:54:57

you were after something very, very rural.

0:54:570:54:59

Possibly. Possibly.

0:54:590:55:01

Yeah, but with Laura home during the week,

0:55:010:55:03

it's going to be important to have a community aspect to our lives.

0:55:030:55:07

I'm moving from a town. I've always lived in a town or a city.

0:55:070:55:11

So to move into the countryside is quite a big deal for me,

0:55:110:55:14

but I think this would be a fantastic compromise.

0:55:140:55:17

-And the house was just absolutely fantastic.

-So, what's the next step?

0:55:170:55:22

I think we need to take a bigger look at the area...

0:55:220:55:26

Just find out what the schools are like.

0:55:260:55:28

Visit a school, maybe look at the house again.

0:55:280:55:31

Just sort of...another day with a fresh set of eyes.

0:55:310:55:35

Is Suffolk the place for your family, long-term?

0:55:350:55:37

-Driving round, Suffolk is a beautiful county.

-Beautiful.

0:55:370:55:40

It's got so much variation in the landscape,

0:55:400:55:42

and every time you come around a corner, it's a new vista.

0:55:420:55:45

Which, you know, is just amazing.

0:55:450:55:47

How soon do you think you'll come back here and have a look around the area?

0:55:470:55:50

I think a house like that's not going to be on the market

0:55:500:55:52

for a huge amount of time, so it's going to have to be quite soon.

0:55:520:55:55

-Yeah?

-I think so.

0:55:550:55:57

No matter what you decide, do let me know what happens next, won't you?

0:55:570:56:01

-We will.

-Good. Well, good luck.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:56:010:56:04

Well, it's been great showing Matt and Laura around those fantastic properties.

0:56:080:56:11

But what I've really enjoyed is seeing them both compromise

0:56:110:56:14

on what they individually want in order to

0:56:140:56:16

get what's best for their entire family in the long term.

0:56:160:56:19

And I think with that barn conversion,

0:56:190:56:21

they're achieving just that.

0:56:210:56:23

Now, of course, by their own admission,

0:56:230:56:24

they don't know this part of Suffolk particularly well.

0:56:240:56:27

So I totally understand why they want to come back up here,

0:56:270:56:29

and, in particular, look around that primary school

0:56:290:56:32

for their two young daughters.

0:56:320:56:33

And, if all that goes well, then maybe the entire family will be

0:56:330:56:36

making a more permanent move up here to Suffolk very soon.

0:56:360:56:40

See you next time.

0:56:400:56:41

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:56:430:56:45

in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

0:56:450:56:48

and would like our help, you can apply online at:

0:56:480:56:50

Jonnie Irwin is property-hunting with young parents from Stevenage who are seeking an authentic country lifestyle in Suffolk and a rural family home. Jonnie offers his expertise along the way before experiencing the rich spoils of the Suffolk coastline.