West Sussex Escape to the Country


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West Sussex

Property series. Sonali Shah is property searching in West Sussex with a couple who want their £625,000 to buy them uninterrupted peace in the country.


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This 19th-century windmill is known locally as Jill

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and just behind the trees there is her partner Jack.

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Together, they stand proud over the local landscape. But where am I?

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Find out in just a moment.

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Today, a couple who crave quiet in the countryside,

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away from the noise of next door.

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At one of our properties,

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the neighbours are the least of our worries.

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We're not really great fans of brick.

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There's going to be a lot of vacuuming I'll have to do.

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But at another house, we get it right.

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Oh, this is lovely.

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I think this has got almost everything we want.

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Today, we're in West Sussex.

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And I'm in the village of Clayton

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in the heart of the South Downs National Park.

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The village's two windmills

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are thought to have been named Jack and Jill

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by day-trippers to Brighton in the 1920s.

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Today, only Jill here is a working mill,

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lovingly cared for by a group of dedicated volunteers,

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who've been meeting here every Saturday since 1978.

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Thanks to their hard work,

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Jill has been fully restored and occasionally, when the wind blows,

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is used to grind locally-grown wheat to make wholemeal flour,

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providing us with just a taste of what this county has to offer.

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West Sussex lies in the heart of the South East,

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tucked in between the English Channel

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and the counties of Hampshire, Surrey and East Sussex.

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Despite being just a short hop from the capital,

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parts of the county feel like a step back in time,

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with historic architectural delights and quiet country lanes aplenty.

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In the east, the rolling hills of the Weald,

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once an ancient forest,

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are interrupted by the Ouse Valley viaduct,

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one of the country's finest.

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An imposing example of Victorian engineering.

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Stretching across the county from east to west

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is the South Downs National Park,

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which became a protected area in 2011.

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These chalk hills are considered

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one of the most important rural landscapes in southern England.

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Nearby, the charming market town of Arundel

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boasts a beautifully preserved castle,

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which dates back to the 11th century.

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Today, it makes an impressive sight,

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towering above the banks of the River Arun.

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With its easy access to both the coast and the capital,

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West Sussex is a much sought-after county

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for those after of a not-too-remote slice of rural England.

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But property buyers beware.

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With its proximity to the capital and unspoilt countryside,

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houses in West Sussex don't come cheap.

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In fact, the average price of a detached property here

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is about 45% more than the national average

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and would cost you around £400,000.

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Commuter territory always comes at a premium,

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but prices are more reasonable

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the further south you go away from the capital.

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Apart from the coast, of course.

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So what are today's buyers hoping to find in this beautiful county?

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Well, let's meet them and find out.

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Ben and Kim have been married for almost 40 years

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and live in the Surrey town of Hawley.

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For the last two decades,

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the family home has been this four-bedroom detached house.

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But with two grown-up children having flown the nest,

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they're not only looking to downsize,

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but to find a quieter setting

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away from the town Ben has lived in most of his life.

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I've lived here for probably about 50 years now.

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And when I moved here it was fantastic. It was like countryside.

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We used to go to the river, where there's lots of fields.

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-It was great fun.

-It was a village, wasn't it?

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-It was a little village, yeah.

-Now, there's a lot more housing.

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But they haven't sort of improved the town to cope with it, really.

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And the road's got very busy now.

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We like peace and quiet.

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Ben has worked in IT for 40 years and Kim is a school secretary.

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They're not giving up their jobs or their friends,

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so they've set their sights south

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on the neighbouring county of West Sussex.

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We'd really like to move to West Sussex.

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We've got friends in that area.

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We'd really like to be kind of within 25 miles' radius of Horsham,

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because then we could carry on visiting our friends.

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We do see them quite a lot. You know, they come over for dinner.

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And if we're too far away, that would take that away from us,

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you know, and we really do enjoy that type of thing.

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As well as entertaining, Ben and Kim hope to add to the family.

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What draws us really to the country life is the peace and quiet

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and the fact that, you know,

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when Kim gets her dog - finally gets her dog -

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which I promised her when we move,

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she'll just be able to walk out the house, down the country lane.

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There won't be traffic zooming past us all the time.

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Be able to let it off the lead and off it'll go.

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When they're not walking their new dog,

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Ben wants to hit the West Sussex roads in his classic car.

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The MG Midget that I've got in the garage,

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Kim and I bought that in 1979.

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And all through our married life she's been saying,

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"We've got to sell that car to pay for something."

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But somehow, I've managed to hang onto it.

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And when we get into the countryside,

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I'm going to get it back on the road,

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drive it out to a little country pub with the hood down.

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I may even take Kim with me, as well, if she's lucky.

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But it sounds like Kim will be more than occupied with her new garden.

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We'd like to have a smaller garden. Not too small.

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Because I do enjoy gardening

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and I get very carried away at the garden centre

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buying plants and shrubs and trees.

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But something that will be a bit easier to manage.

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Hopefully, with room for a small greenhouse.

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And after a busy day outside,

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what better way to relax than in front of the fire.

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I don't know why, I've always loved wood burners

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and everything that goes with them.

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It'll be really, really cold and we'll light up the wood burner

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and get in front of it,

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nice glass of red wine - or white wine Kim prefers -

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and get some music on.

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And, you know, you just can't beat it.

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We really want to be able to either have a wood burner in the new house

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or certainly be able to put one in, if possible.

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But although our buyers clearly yearn for rural rapture,

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the sociable couple have some fears

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about being too cut-off from the rest of the world.

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I think our main concern, if we moved too far,

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is we'll be moving away from our friends.

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We know we've got to do it. We've got to get away.

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But, you know, when you're so familiar with something,

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it is going to be a big shock.

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But we desperately want to do it.

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You know, if we don't do it now...

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Kim keeps saying to me,

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"Why don't we wait until we go into an old people's home?"

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I think, "No. That will be after this move."

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So we've got to do it now.

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Ben and Kim want us to concentrate our property search

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within a 25-mile radius of Horsham,

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so Kim can continue working

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and so they're not too far from their friends in Surrey.

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I'm meeting up with our buyers in West Sussex

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to find out more about their planned move.

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-Ben and Kim, lovely to meet you both.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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Now, this is why you want to move to West Sussex, isn't it?

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-The peace and quiet.

-It is indeed.

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It's just amazing here, isn't it?

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You've both lived in Surrey for most of your lives.

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So are you ready for the change?

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It's going to be quite a change,

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because we have lived in Surrey for, well, 50 years

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and we'll be starting again, really.

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It'll be a new life.

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Tell us about the house you're looking for.

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Well, ideally, three bedrooms.

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We're downsizing a bit.

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-Kim would like an en suite, wouldn't you?

-Yes.

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Don't mind about the style or the age, particularly.

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Probably not too old.

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-No. We don't want a project.

-No.

-No.

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-So something fairly ready to move into?

-Yes.

-Yes.

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Modern would be great, wouldn't it?

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Because I do a lot of work around the house,

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a lot of central heating stuff, electrics.

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But I'd like to put that behind me and have it all done for me, really.

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Anything else that's really important for you both?

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Ben would like a wood burner or be able to put one in.

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I've got to have a wood burner, yes.

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So if it doesn't have one in, you'd be doing that job, wouldn't you?

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I would be doing that job. That's fine. Yeah, it would be good.

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And, really, it does need to have broadband as well,

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because I'm into computers quite a bit

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and I don't want to be cut off from the internet.

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Most places nowadays, actually... You can check the companies.

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Yeah, and you can always get satellite put in now. Yes.

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What are the big no-nos for you?

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Neighbours is a really, really big no-no.

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We want to be somewhere where, whatever the neighbours do,

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they're not going to affect us.

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And whatever we do, we won't affect them.

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We spend a lot of time in the garden, you know, sunbathing and...

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-Gardening.

-And gardening.

-Sitting out with a glass of wine.

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Yeah, glass of wine. Got a chiminea outside, wood burner indoors.

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-So you must have a nice garden?

-Yes. Yes.

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Size doesn't matter too much

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because, at the moment, we've got a big garden

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and we'd like to get something smaller.

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But we don't mind if it's got fields around it, something like that.

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Yeah, a view would be fantastic.

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Or a garden that's maybe got a little area

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that's more cultivated with grass and shrubs and things around

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that doesn't need too much work.

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Remind us of your budget.

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-The budget is 625,000.

-OK.

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Now, in most parts of the country, that would be a fantastic budget.

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-But you know how popular West Sussex is.

-Yes, we do know.

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So it might be difficult

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-to get absolutely everything on your wish list.

-Yes.

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-But we've got some great properties lined up.

-Fantastic.

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And hopefully, you'll find something in them that you're looking for.

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-Yeah, we're really looking forward to it.

-Thank you.

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Ben and Kim have an ambitious wish list for their £625,000.

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But we hope to find them a detached property

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with a minimum of three bedrooms and at least one en-suite bathroom.

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They're not too concerned about a particular age or style,

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but would like a wood burner or the potential to install one

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and a manageable garden.

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But of greatest importance is the position.

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They don't want to be disturbed by neighbouring properties.

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We've lined up a worthy selection of West Sussex wonders

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for Ben and Kim to ponder.

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But I won't by revealing the price tag of their potential purchase

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until the end of the tour.

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Our Mystery House challenges our buyers to embrace shared living.

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How do you think the process will go?

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Who do you think will make the final decision?

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Well, I think it's going to be a joint decision, really.

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So I'm really looking forward to it. I'm really excited.

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And I'm really excited to be going to the first house

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because we've been looking for a long time

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and haven't been able to find what we want.

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Our first house is in the village of Nutbourne,

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around 12 miles from Horsham.

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Surrounded by pleasing countryside,

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the attractive farming village

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is centred on an award-winning 16th-century pub

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and is close to a local vineyard

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situated on gentle slopes overlooking the South Downs.

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Our first house is located not far from the pub,

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in the heart of the peaceful village.

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-Well...

-Oh, amazing.

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Fantastic.

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-It's very unusual.

-It is unusual, isn't it?

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-It is an unusual property. So this used to be a millhouse.

-OK.

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Built in 1750. And then it was converted 25 years ago.

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-So you can see all the original stone.

-Yeah.

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And then it's got the tiled roof.

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It is amazing. It's so quiet here.

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-And that is the big plus point with this property.

-Yeah.

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The peace and quiet that you have requested in a huge way is here.

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Definitely. That is our number one priority.

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You can hear the birds singing. And that's the only disturbance.

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We love the birds singing.

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-But what do you think?

-I think it's amazing at first sight.

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Yes. Little bit concerned about the proximity...

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I guess these are other people, are they, here?

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Yes, your neighbours are right here.

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This used to be the bakery, the shop, basically.

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If they had kind of a family of children, you know,

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and they're playing ball and they've got a trampoline in there,

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that would, you know, be a no-no for me,

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because we've got that already.

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We've got neighbours already. But to start with, yeah, it looks amazing.

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-Let's hope the inside is as good as the outside.

-Let's go and see.

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Ben seems a little concerned about potential noise pollution.

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But hopefully, the charm of our converted mill

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will dilute those fears.

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They front of the property overlooks the old millpond.

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The waterwheel itself has been replaced in recent years,

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although serves only an aesthetic purpose.

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Inside, though, it's the real deal.

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I thought we'd start with the kitchen first.

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Because I think it shows off

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-some of the nice original features of the millhouse.

-Yes.

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-Now, we've not really talked about size of kitchen.

-No.

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At the moment, we've got quite a large kitchen-diner.

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-But this is OK. It's not too small.

-It is.

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-And who spends most of the time in the kitchen?

-You.

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Yes, I'll be doing most of the cooking.

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It looks good to me for cooking in, yeah.

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You're both fairly quiet about it, though.

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-We're not really great fans of brick.

-Are you not?

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I thought that was a real feature.

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That was one of my favourite bits, the exposed wall.

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-Yeah, it does it for some people.

-Oh, really?

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Yeah, we should have mentioned it maybe earlier.

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No, listen, this is something you can always plaster over.

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-Of course.

-It's just most people think that's a nice feature.

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I don't dislike it in the kitchen.

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It's in bedrooms and things I'm not so keen on it.

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-Where it's just brick everywhere, yeah.

-A little bit's all right.

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-Is that OK?

-Let's see if you could see yourselves

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sitting in the living room.

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-Thank you.

-Lead the way. Just through the hall...

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Now, Ben, this living room has the wood burner that you requested.

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Oh, that is fantastic. I love that wood burner.

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Yeah, it's not the normal kind of wood burner, is it?

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It's actually built-in. It looks really nice.

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Yeah, it sort of integrated into the wall.

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But actually, this house doesn't need one,

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because they have got underfloor heating throughout the ground floor.

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So the kitchen and this room makes up most of the downstairs.

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There's a downstairs loo, which is also a bathroom.

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You'll see that later. It's got a lovely bath in it.

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But do you think it might be a little bit too small for you,

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what you've seen so far?

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-I think so, probably.

-Yeah, you know.

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-It's got character.

-It's certainly got character, yeah.

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Because you both said you didn't mind what style of house.

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So I thought I'd introduce you first to a lot of character.

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There is a lot of character.

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Yes, maybe a bit of character overload, perhaps.

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-Do you think too much for you?

-Maybe.

-It is for me, yes.

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Yes, but, you know, we're open-minded.

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And perhaps we'd get to love this type of place.

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Some reservations, then, about the ground floor arrangements.

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But I'm hoping upstairs will get us back on track,

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because there's lots more to see.

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It gives Ben and Kim the three bedrooms

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they wanted across two floors.

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The first floor is home to two bedrooms, a single and a double

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with its own en suite

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and the master bedroom is found on the top floor.

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So the house is over three floors. And this is the top floor.

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And this actually used to be the lounge, the living room.

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But the family that live here

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converted it into their master bedroom

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and made an en suite just through there.

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And the reason why they liked this space

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is they felt this was the lightest, airiest part of the house.

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And the view is of the millpond. What are your thoughts?

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Kim, you've been quite quiet.

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It's a bit small, I think.

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Looking at all those steps there,

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there's going to be a lot of vacuuming I'll have to do.

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And, of course, our knees aren't getting any younger,

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like the rest of our bodies.

0:15:190:15:21

But the location is lovely.

0:15:210:15:23

'Let's remind ourselves of the surroundings

0:15:230:15:25

'by heading back down to the garden.

0:15:250:15:27

'Outside, a lawn wraps itself around two sides of the property

0:15:270:15:31

'and there's a decked seating area for summer entertaining,

0:15:310:15:34

'although that's hard to imagine on a day like today.'

0:15:340:15:37

I'd love to get your thoughts on the garden.

0:15:370:15:40

I like the garden, yeah.

0:15:400:15:41

-Yes.

-It's a bit secluded.

0:15:410:15:44

It's got lots of tall trees. It's secluded but maybe a bit dark.

0:15:440:15:47

Yeah. Maybe a bit dark.

0:15:470:15:48

Well, it's not the brightest day to see a garden, is it?

0:15:480:15:52

No, it isn't. No, that's true.

0:15:520:15:54

How much do you think the property and the garden is on the market for?

0:15:540:15:58

Well, I think it's quite small,

0:15:580:16:01

but it's got a real kind of quirky value.

0:16:010:16:04

I reckon 595,000.

0:16:040:16:07

I would say 550,000.

0:16:070:16:08

It's actually on the market for £625,000.

0:16:080:16:13

We've gone right to the top of your budget.

0:16:130:16:15

Remember where we are! You've chosen an expensive county.

0:16:150:16:17

Yeah, we have. That's true.

0:16:170:16:19

Do you want to go and have another look around, a final look around?

0:16:190:16:22

-And then I'll meet you out front in a bit.

-Thank you very much.

0:16:220:16:26

The price of the first property, which is bang on budget,

0:16:300:16:34

comes as a bit of a shock to Ben and Kim.

0:16:340:16:36

But this is a unique former watermill

0:16:360:16:38

in a sought-after West Sussex village.

0:16:380:16:41

It gives them the three bedrooms they asked for,

0:16:410:16:43

two with en suite bathrooms,

0:16:430:16:45

the all-important wood burner and a manageable garden.

0:16:450:16:48

-It's not really us, is it?

-No, I do think it's us at all, really.

0:16:490:16:53

-I don't like the rustic beams.

-No. No.

0:16:530:16:56

-It seems very closed in.

-Yeah.

0:16:560:16:59

When we first arrived, I looked at the house and I thought,

0:16:590:17:02

"Yeah, this house looks amazing."

0:17:020:17:04

I looked at the view, the lake

0:17:040:17:06

and it's just to die for, that view.

0:17:060:17:09

But I was rather disappointed at the location of the neighbours.

0:17:090:17:13

They're very, very close.

0:17:130:17:15

Once we got inside, I realised that it wasn't really my sort of house.

0:17:150:17:19

It feels quite enclosed.

0:17:190:17:21

Although I love the location,

0:17:210:17:23

the house doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid.

0:17:230:17:25

-It's definitely not for you, is it?

-No, afraid not.

0:17:250:17:28

At least we know more about style and size.

0:17:280:17:31

Yes, and even this weather

0:17:310:17:33

hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the next house.

0:17:330:17:36

-Well, we've got plenty more to show you.

-Fantastic.

0:17:360:17:39

With its rich rural landscape,

0:17:420:17:44

it's easy to forget that West Sussex is only a 30-mile drive

0:17:440:17:47

from the suburbs of Greater London.

0:17:470:17:49

Just south of Horsham is Knepp Castle Estate,

0:17:490:17:52

which dates back to the Middle Ages

0:17:520:17:54

and was one of King John's hunting parks.

0:17:540:17:57

For the last 200 years, it's been owned by the Burrell family

0:17:570:18:00

who, until recently, managed it as agricultural land.

0:18:000:18:04

But 15 years ago, they embarked on a visionary project

0:18:040:18:07

to return the land to its natural state

0:18:070:18:09

by introducing a variety of grazing animals,

0:18:090:18:12

a process known as rewilding.

0:18:120:18:14

Since both Kim and Ben are keen

0:18:140:18:16

to embrace the countryside and all it has to offer,

0:18:160:18:18

we sent them to find out more from the current landowner, Sir Charlie Burrell.

0:18:180:18:22

Hi, there.

0:18:220:18:24

Well, it's an amazing place. It really is.

0:18:240:18:26

What is the history behind it?

0:18:260:18:28

Well, this castle is a modern one. It was built in 1806.

0:18:280:18:31

But it's sort of on a ground which is a bit more interesting than that.

0:18:310:18:34

We've enclosed large areas of the estate,

0:18:340:18:37

about 1,000 hectares, in large enclosures.

0:18:370:18:41

And we've then released

0:18:410:18:43

a whole load of free-roaming animals into those areas.

0:18:430:18:46

So we've got Exmoor ponies, longhorn cattle

0:18:460:18:48

and three species of deer

0:18:480:18:50

roaming freely in these large enclosures.

0:18:500:18:53

And that can kind of control the land, can it?

0:18:530:18:56

Well, these are considered drivers for biodiversity.

0:18:560:19:00

The way they eat and the way they behave

0:19:000:19:02

and the way they damage and rootle and all the things they do naturally,

0:19:020:19:07

that is considered to be a driver of the system.

0:19:070:19:09

So we're creating the right habitat

0:19:090:19:11

for lots of different species of animals.

0:19:110:19:13

It's about letting go.

0:19:130:19:14

It's about allowing the land to have a free will.

0:19:140:19:18

It's about seeing what happens if you do this.

0:19:180:19:20

And what we've had is a huge success with lots of different species.

0:19:200:19:23

We've got 2% of the nightingale population of the UK here.

0:19:230:19:26

We have one of the biggest populations of purple emperors,

0:19:260:19:29

which is a butterfly which is quite rare.

0:19:290:19:31

We've got interesting bat species.

0:19:310:19:33

We've got a whole load of things going on

0:19:330:19:36

which have been because of what we've done and how we've done it,

0:19:360:19:38

have come back to this land.

0:19:380:19:40

The best way to explore Knepp's range of grazing animals

0:19:400:19:43

and the role they play in rewilding the land is to take a safari trip.

0:19:430:19:47

Hi, there. Lovely to meet you. If you'd like to get on.

0:19:470:19:50

Today's guide is ecologist Amy Nightingale.

0:19:500:19:54

And it's not long before they come across

0:19:540:19:56

some of the estate's resident roamers.

0:19:560:19:58

So these are our longhorn cattle.

0:19:580:20:00

They've been brought onto the estate to browse and graze

0:20:000:20:04

and manage the habitat themselves naturally.

0:20:040:20:07

What's a browser?

0:20:070:20:09

So browsing means that, instead of just eating grass, which is a grazer,

0:20:090:20:13

they're actually going up into the bushes

0:20:130:20:15

and eating through the hedgerows,

0:20:150:20:17

they're eating all the sort of thorny scrub

0:20:170:20:19

that we've got on the estate here.

0:20:190:20:21

So will they keep the grass down or do you have to manage it as well?

0:20:210:20:25

There's no management on the estate at all.

0:20:250:20:28

No land management whatsoever. The animals manage to do it themselves.

0:20:280:20:32

It's entirely natural processes.

0:20:320:20:34

Are they quite hardy

0:20:340:20:36

or do you have to get the vet in quite a lot for them?

0:20:360:20:38

No, they are very hardy animals.

0:20:380:20:40

Yeah, they give birth quite easily on their own without much management.

0:20:400:20:44

They live out all year round with no problems.

0:20:440:20:47

They grow a really thick winter woolly coat.

0:20:470:20:50

And they'll eat through the whole of the estate.

0:20:500:20:53

You know, they'll go through each bit at different times of the year.

0:20:530:20:56

They have a big impact on the estate.

0:20:560:20:59

Other animals with a right to roam include fallow deer,

0:20:590:21:02

who make fantastic grazers and enjoy foraging in open grassland.

0:21:020:21:06

The herd here are considered to be among the top six in Europe.

0:21:060:21:09

The estate is also home to the rarer red deer,

0:21:090:21:12

although they're proving elusive on this morning's safari.

0:21:120:21:15

So, we've been driving around 20 minutes or so now

0:21:150:21:18

and we haven't seen any of the red deer.

0:21:180:21:20

But what we've got over here at the moment is the deer rutting season.

0:21:200:21:23

And as you can see, there's two males fighting up ahead.

0:21:230:21:25

Oh, God, yeah.

0:21:250:21:27

So during this time of year, sort of end of October,

0:21:270:21:30

the males will all sort of start fighting for territories now.

0:21:300:21:35

And as you can see, these two are having a really good battle.

0:21:350:21:38

Usually, they start off parallel walking.

0:21:380:21:41

So they'll walk dead in-line with each other

0:21:410:21:43

and then, all of a sudden, they'll turn in and fight.

0:21:430:21:47

As well as creating new habitats for important species,

0:21:470:21:50

the grazing animals at Knepp generate an income,

0:21:500:21:53

as some are sold for their meat,

0:21:530:21:54

which also helps to control the population

0:21:540:21:56

in the absence of predators.

0:21:560:21:58

The project has been so successful

0:21:580:22:01

there are plans to extend it across the rest of the estate,

0:22:010:22:03

returning this beautiful part of the West Sussex landscape

0:22:030:22:07

to the way nature intended it.

0:22:070:22:09

Our next offering is in the village of West Chiltington,

0:22:120:22:15

12 miles from Horsham.

0:22:150:22:17

Situated on the South Downs,

0:22:170:22:19

the tranquil village is characterised by winding lanes

0:22:190:22:22

with rows of idyllic cottages,

0:22:220:22:24

some with hung tiles and a village shop,

0:22:240:22:27

which doubles up as a post office.

0:22:270:22:29

The church, dating back to the 12th century,

0:22:290:22:31

features an oak-shingled spire and is tiled in Horsham stone,

0:22:310:22:34

a traditional roofing material found throughout the region.

0:22:340:22:38

Positioned on a quiet road on the edge of the village,

0:22:380:22:41

the next property sits in a peaceful, secluded garden

0:22:410:22:44

offering natural privacy.

0:22:440:22:46

What do you think of the chalet?

0:22:480:22:50

-I like it.

-Yeah, I like it as well.

0:22:500:22:52

A lot more promising than the last one, I think, so far. Yep.

0:22:520:22:56

Yes, after finding out what you didn't like about the old millhouse,

0:22:560:23:00

I do think this will suit you better.

0:23:000:23:04

-Yes, it's got a garage.

-Yes, it's got a garage.

0:23:040:23:06

It's more conventional, isn't it?

0:23:060:23:08

It's got the traditional driveway, the garage, the nice front garden.

0:23:080:23:12

Less of the quirk and character of the millhouse,

0:23:120:23:16

which I think, as we've now established, isn't for both of you.

0:23:160:23:19

It wasn't, no. That's right.

0:23:190:23:21

This looks very promising.

0:23:210:23:24

-I see you've still got neighbours, but...

-Not too near.

0:23:240:23:27

-Shall we go inside?

-Yes, please.

-Let's get out of this rain.

0:23:270:23:31

'Built in the 1950s, it's a classic chalet-style home.

0:23:320:23:35

'I just hope Ben can leave his fears

0:23:350:23:37

'about proximity to neighbouring houses at the front door

0:23:370:23:39

'as we embark on our tour.'

0:23:390:23:41

We'll go into the living room first.

0:23:410:23:44

Oh, this is lovely.

0:23:470:23:48

-It is, isn't it?

-Much more our style.

-It is.

0:23:480:23:52

-Yeah, it's so much more promising, it really is.

-Lovely big windows.

0:23:520:23:56

-Yes.

-Triple aspect.

0:23:560:23:58

Yeah, that's why it's so light. And big.

0:23:580:24:00

-There's enough space for a sizeable dining table just over there.

-Yes.

0:24:000:24:04

-Yeah, it's good.

-And there's a fireplace.

0:24:040:24:08

There is a fireplace, but that's not a real fire.

0:24:080:24:11

But you can take that out and put in a real fireplace.

0:24:110:24:15

-There is a chimney up there?

-There is, exactly.

0:24:150:24:17

Oh, that's fantastic, then.

0:24:170:24:19

So you will have to do a little bit of work if you move in.

0:24:190:24:21

I don't mind. I just feel so much more comfortable already,

0:24:210:24:25

just walking in here.

0:24:250:24:27

Yes, so we can just move straight in.

0:24:270:24:29

In fact, we might not go home.

0:24:290:24:31

-Perfect.

-Yes.

0:24:310:24:33

-Everyone's happy, then.

-So far.

-So far.

-Yes.

0:24:330:24:36

-One room down, a few more to go.

-That's good.

0:24:360:24:39

-With the next one, we are looking after your knees.

-Oh, that's good.

0:24:390:24:43

'Because in this property,

0:24:440:24:46

'you don't need to climb the stairs to get into bed.'

0:24:460:24:49

You were worried about climbing too many stairs as you got older.

0:24:510:24:55

-This house would mean you just live on the ground floor.

-It's lovely.

0:24:550:24:59

It is nice, yeah. It really is. It's a good-sized room.

0:24:590:25:02

-Yeah, it is. Lots of wardrobe space.

-Yes.

0:25:020:25:05

-And an en suite.

-Kim really wanted an en suite, yes.

0:25:050:25:08

I think this has got almost everything we want.

0:25:080:25:11

-So would it bother you to have the master on the ground floor?

-No.

0:25:110:25:15

-No, not at all.

-I really like this.

-Yeah, I like it.

0:25:150:25:17

I just feel, you know, comfortable in here.

0:25:170:25:20

It just feels home from home.

0:25:200:25:21

So let's see if the kitchen is the right size

0:25:210:25:25

-for you to watch Ben cook in.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:25:250:25:28

'As well as the master, the ground floor features another bedroom

0:25:280:25:32

'the current owners use as a study, as well as a family bathroom.'

0:25:320:25:36

Now, what's lovely about the kitchen is really that view of the garden.

0:25:380:25:42

-Yeah.

-That's lovely.

-That is great.

0:25:420:25:44

I can see myself standing at that sink, washing up,

0:25:440:25:47

looking out into the garden.

0:25:470:25:49

Yeah, Kim will be sitting out there with a wine, I expect.

0:25:490:25:52

Watching you wash up.

0:25:520:25:54

Watching me wash up, yes.

0:25:540:25:56

How's the size for you?

0:25:560:25:58

Yeah, no, because we are downsizing.

0:25:580:26:00

You know, so this would be just right.

0:26:000:26:02

-It is a nice-sized kitchen, isn't it, yeah.

-I like the units.

0:26:020:26:04

It's that breakfast room, though, that gives it that feeling of space.

0:26:040:26:08

-Yeah.

-Lovely and light.

0:26:080:26:09

-Because it is a big kitchen, if you count that.

-Yeah.

0:26:090:26:11

Yes, it is.

0:26:110:26:13

'Great reactions to the practical set-up of the ground floor.

0:26:130:26:16

'Upstairs, there are two further bedrooms, both doubles,

0:26:160:26:19

'as well as a smaller boxroom and a cloakroom with wash basin.

0:26:190:26:23

'Outside, the lawned garden wraps itself around the house

0:26:230:26:27

'and amounts to about a third of an acre.'

0:26:270:26:29

I think this garden is a wonderful space for entertaining.

0:26:290:26:33

Yes, it is, isn't it? Yeah.

0:26:330:26:35

-Barbecues, summer parties.

-Yep.

-Yes.

0:26:350:26:37

-Possible wedding for one of your children.

-No!

0:26:370:26:40

-Grandkids running around.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:26:400:26:43

-It's the forever home, isn't it?

-It is, yeah.

0:26:430:26:46

Talk about the elephant in the room, the neighbours.

0:26:460:26:49

Are they still bothering you as much?

0:26:490:26:52

-Yes, they are bothering me just as much.

-Really?

0:26:520:26:54

Even after seeing what's, effectively, your dream home?

0:26:540:26:58

You haven't really had a negative about the house,

0:26:580:27:00

unless you're holding back.

0:27:000:27:02

The only holding back I've been doing

0:27:020:27:04

is about the neighbours, yeah.

0:27:040:27:06

-Nice high hedge. Dense hedge.

-Yeah.

0:27:060:27:08

They're not too close. Can't even really see that one.

0:27:080:27:11

This is part of her persuasion campaign.

0:27:110:27:13

It is part of it, definitely, yeah.

0:27:130:27:15

Shall we guess the price

0:27:150:27:17

-and then maybe that might add to your campaign.

-Yes.

0:27:170:27:21

I think, really, this has got to be more than the last one,

0:27:210:27:25

because it's so lovely.

0:27:250:27:26

So I'm going to go 5,000 above my range.

0:27:260:27:32

-630,000.

-630,000, you think?

-Yeah, 630,000.

0:27:320:27:35

-Kim?

-Well, I would say 650,000,

0:27:350:27:37

just because I think it's so much better than the other one.

0:27:370:27:40

It's actually on the market for £600,000.

0:27:400:27:43

-Wow!

-Oh, that is good.

0:27:430:27:44

-Well within your budget.

-That is excellent. How can it be?

0:27:440:27:47

How do you feel about those neighbours now?

0:27:470:27:49

I'll have to have a little ponder about that, yeah.

0:27:490:27:53

-Do you think you can persuade him, Kim?

-I might, yes.

0:27:530:27:55

I think, yeah, we're on the right track.

0:27:550:27:58

I think tonight we'll get a bottle of champagne out, you know,

0:27:580:28:01

get it chilled down and have a good think about that.

0:28:010:28:04

-I think you should have another look around.

-Yeah, definitely.

0:28:040:28:06

-I want to, yeah.

-Go ahead.

0:28:060:28:09

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:28:090:28:11

-I'll see you soon.

-Thank you.

0:28:110:28:12

Come on...

0:28:140:28:15

This is the dream house within budget.

0:28:150:28:18

Kim needs to put the hard work in now and persuade Ben.

0:28:180:28:22

Under budget by £25,000, this 1950s detached chalet home

0:28:240:28:29

has hit the nail on the head, in terms of style and layout.

0:28:290:28:32

It gives Ben and Kim one more bedroom than they asked for,

0:28:320:28:35

a working fireplace to house a wood burner and a manageable garden,

0:28:350:28:39

offering the seclusion and privacy they wanted.

0:28:390:28:42

I absolutely love this house.

0:28:420:28:44

I can't believe we've actually found something

0:28:440:28:46

that I like as much as I do.

0:28:460:28:48

It's like home from home.

0:28:480:28:50

It's really nice. I love the location.

0:28:500:28:53

The garden's perfect. Everything about it is just wonderful.

0:28:530:28:56

I love the kitchen.

0:28:560:28:58

The lounge is just like ours at home.

0:28:580:29:00

And the log burner, of course, will go down very well with Ben.

0:29:000:29:03

Yeah, when we came up the drive,

0:29:030:29:05

I got out of the car and I listened and it was just so peaceful.

0:29:050:29:08

I looked at the house and I thought, "Yeah, this is a really nice house."

0:29:080:29:11

My only slight reservation is the neighbours again.

0:29:110:29:16

Because there is neighbours all around.

0:29:160:29:18

And although it's peaceful in the garden at the moment,

0:29:180:29:21

if you, you know, had a noisy family out there,

0:29:210:29:23

that could be a disturbance.

0:29:230:29:26

But apart from that, you know, it is great.

0:29:260:29:29

I know Ben's concerned about the neighbours.

0:29:290:29:31

But from what I can see, the neighbours here aren't that close.

0:29:310:29:35

It's very quiet.

0:29:360:29:37

We've been out in the garden and it's very, very quiet here.

0:29:370:29:40

They've got a greenhouse

0:29:400:29:41

so, hopefully, they're maybe retired like us.

0:29:410:29:44

And it'll be nice and quiet and peaceful.

0:29:440:29:46

Smiles all round. It's made for you, isn't it?

0:29:490:29:51

It is. Really perfect. Love it.

0:29:510:29:53

Perfect?

0:29:530:29:55

It is very, very, very nearly perfect.

0:29:550:29:58

Which means you can't let it go, Ben.

0:29:580:30:00

I think you're probably right, yeah.

0:30:000:30:02

That is music to my ears.

0:30:020:30:05

Well, it's been a long day, lots of action, exciting action.

0:30:050:30:08

-Let's go and get a glass of wine and chill.

-That sounds perfect.

0:30:080:30:12

'It's the second day of our property search in West Sussex

0:30:220:30:26

'and armed with a budget of £625,000,

0:30:260:30:29

'we're helping Ben and Kim from Hawley in Surrey

0:30:290:30:31

'find a quiet countryside property

0:30:310:30:34

'out of sight and out of sound from neighbouring homes.

0:30:340:30:37

'Coming up, two more properties,

0:30:370:30:39

'including a Mystery House of seemingly stately proportions.'

0:30:390:30:43

You weren't expecting this for the Mystery House, were you?

0:30:430:30:45

-We weren't, no.

-Not at all. No.

-Let's take the grand tour.

0:30:450:30:49

And it's full steam ahead

0:30:490:30:50

at one of the oldest heritage lines in the country.

0:30:500:30:53

We had two extreme reactions to yesterday's houses,

0:30:560:31:00

confirming exactly what Ben and Kim want from their country escape.

0:31:000:31:04

A fairly modern property that's ready to move into.

0:31:040:31:07

It's also become very clear that having neighbours

0:31:070:31:10

is a big problem for Ben.

0:31:100:31:12

So I'm hoping the property I'm showing them this morning

0:31:120:31:14

is rural enough for him.

0:31:140:31:16

Then comes the Mystery House, though,

0:31:160:31:18

which is a very grand proposition.

0:31:180:31:20

But will Ben be willing to share it?

0:31:200:31:22

For our next offering, we're heading south towards the coast

0:31:270:31:30

to the village of Angmering, around 20 miles from Horsham.

0:31:300:31:34

The village is home to a number of historic properties,

0:31:340:31:37

some dating to the 1600s,

0:31:370:31:39

and retains a quaint rural charm.

0:31:390:31:42

At its centre is a well-preserved village square,

0:31:420:31:45

hosting a range of useful shops and services.

0:31:450:31:47

Our next property is on the edge of the village,

0:31:470:31:50

on a quiet country lane,

0:31:500:31:52

surrounded by farmland and out of sight of the nearest neighbour.

0:31:520:31:55

-Can't see any neighbours.

-No, can't see any neighbours here.

0:31:560:32:00

You might have come up trumps this time, yeah.

0:32:000:32:03

It's big. It's huge!

0:32:030:32:05

-It is. It's a big property.

-It's not a semi, is it?

0:32:050:32:08

-Absolutely not a semi.

-Oh, that's good. Oh, that looks lovely.

0:32:080:32:11

-I love the style of it. The wood, yeah.

-Interesting.

0:32:110:32:15

Well, yesterday we realised how much you liked modern.

0:32:150:32:17

Well, this is very modern.

0:32:170:32:19

So there's been a house here for a long time but,

0:32:190:32:22

basically, this is a complete rebuild just two years ago.

0:32:220:32:26

Yeah, yeah, I like the sound of that. And I can see logs.

0:32:260:32:29

Those logs must be for a log burner. I hope.

0:32:290:32:32

-You're very observant this morning, aren't you?

-No, it's good.

0:32:320:32:35

Very good indeed.

0:32:350:32:37

First impressions, great. So far, so good. Definitely.

0:32:370:32:40

-Let's get in.

-Thank you.

0:32:400:32:42

So it's a thumbs up from Ben on location

0:32:430:32:45

and I'm sure he'll appreciate the modern touches inside.

0:32:450:32:48

But for Kim, we'll need to better yesterday's chalet house.

0:32:480:32:52

-We've got to do the kitchen first.

-Yeah, it's one kitchen, isn't it?

0:32:530:32:57

-It's huge.

-That really is a kitchen.

0:32:570:32:59

-Real open-plan living.

-Yeah.

0:32:590:33:01

With those bifold doors that look out onto their wonderful views.

0:33:010:33:05

Oh, that is a wonderful view.

0:33:050:33:07

Yeah, you're right.

0:33:070:33:09

You can't get more rural than that.

0:33:090:33:11

You can't get more rural than that, can you, no. That is great.

0:33:110:33:14

This is really the entertaining room, isn't it?

0:33:140:33:17

-Yes, it's nice.

-It is. It is, yeah.

0:33:170:33:19

You can eat your breakfast here, you can eat lunch here,

0:33:190:33:21

have your friends over for dinner here.

0:33:210:33:23

The other thing this kitchen has is a utility room

0:33:230:33:25

that runs all the way along this side of the house, with a door that goes outside.

0:33:250:33:29

-So great for a dog.

-That's good.

0:33:290:33:31

-They've really thought about the way you live as well.

-Yes.

0:33:310:33:34

'I think Ben is sold on the modern feel

0:33:340:33:37

'and practical layout of the ranch house.

0:33:370:33:40

'That contemporary ambience continues in the living room.'

0:33:400:33:43

So the kitchen really connects with the living room.

0:33:430:33:47

Oh, it does, doesn't it, yeah.

0:33:470:33:48

Wood burner.

0:33:480:33:50

-And a wood burner.

-Oh...

0:33:500:33:52

But it also heats the hot water and the underfloor heating.

0:33:520:33:56

That is an excellent idea,

0:33:560:33:58

because normally you get so much wastage from a wood burner.

0:33:580:34:01

You know, and that is just going to be so much more efficient.

0:34:010:34:04

-They've made sure they use that energy.

-Yeah, that is excellent.

0:34:040:34:07

Now, would this be enough of a living room for you?

0:34:070:34:09

I like the fact it connects to the kitchen, but you have to like it.

0:34:090:34:12

For me, it's definitely enough of a living room. For me.

0:34:120:34:15

-Are you happy with the size of it?

-Yes.

0:34:150:34:17

Kim, you haven't said as much as Ben about this house.

0:34:170:34:20

At the moment, I'm not sure.

0:34:200:34:22

Do you think it's too modern, too industrial-looking in parts for you?

0:34:220:34:27

Certainly the kitchen, yes. I don't like that.

0:34:270:34:30

-But that's all freestanding.

-That could all be changed easily.

0:34:300:34:33

Is there anything else about it that's made you a bit hesitant?

0:34:330:34:36

I just really liked the other house.

0:34:360:34:39

It was more like our house we've got at the moment.

0:34:390:34:42

-But Ben didn't like the neighbours being there.

-I know.

-I know.

0:34:440:34:47

And I really like that kitchen.

0:34:470:34:49

You know, it'll be a fight whether we keep that or not, actually.

0:34:490:34:52

Because I really like that. And I like this room, too.

0:34:520:34:54

We can make this house like the other house, if we wanted to.

0:34:540:34:57

But we can never make the other house like this house,

0:34:570:35:00

because we can't move away the neighbours.

0:35:000:35:02

-Yeah, you two have got some chatting to do, haven't you?

-Yeah, we have.

0:35:020:35:05

-Let's go and see the bedrooms.

-OK. Thank you.

0:35:050:35:07

'So, differing opinions on our new-build ranch house.

0:35:090:35:12

'It seems we're yet to win over Kim.

0:35:120:35:14

'Also on the ground floor, a long spacious study,

0:35:140:35:17

'a large family bath and shower room

0:35:170:35:20

'and two of the five bedrooms in the property,

0:35:200:35:22

'including a single and a larger double,

0:35:220:35:24

'which is currently used as the master.

0:35:240:35:26

'Upstairs, accessed from a large landing,

0:35:260:35:29

'are three further bedrooms,

0:35:290:35:31

'including two that can be made into one large one

0:35:310:35:33

'by opening a partition. and another sizeable double.

0:35:330:35:36

'There's also another spacious family bathroom up there.

0:35:360:35:39

'But we're continuing our tour with the ground floor master.'

0:35:390:35:42

-So the master bedroom is actually on the ground floor.

-Uh-huh.

0:35:470:35:51

But, of course, you don't have to use this as the master.

0:35:510:35:53

But I think the couple that live here just really like the views.

0:35:530:35:56

It's not a problem for me being on the ground floor at all.

0:35:560:35:58

-It's lovely being open to the garden.

-It is.

0:35:580:36:01

Yeah, just walk straight out there.

0:36:010:36:03

There are two family bathrooms.

0:36:030:36:05

We just passed one on the ground floor. There's one upstairs.

0:36:050:36:07

So there's no en suite.

0:36:070:36:10

But there is a walk-in wardrobe.

0:36:100:36:13

I don't know if that's your thing, Ben or Kim.

0:36:130:36:16

Room for all my clothes.

0:36:160:36:18

-Oh, that is good, isn't it?

-So what do you think?

-I think it's great.

0:36:180:36:21

-What do you think, Kim?

-Yes, I'd like to see a bit more.

0:36:210:36:24

But, yes, promising.

0:36:240:36:26

-Always a but.

-Always a but.

0:36:270:36:29

I really want to show you the land around the property.

0:36:290:36:33

-So let's do that. Let's go back into the kitchen.

-Thanks.

0:36:330:36:36

Outside, the gardens are to the front and rear.

0:36:380:36:41

At the front, there's space for parking and a garage.

0:36:410:36:43

At the back, the garden is mainly lawn.

0:36:430:36:46

But there are options to lease further garden space

0:36:460:36:48

from the neighbouring stable owners.

0:36:480:36:51

So the garden that comes with this property just goes to this fence.

0:36:520:36:55

OK.

0:36:550:36:56

So the bit beyond that with the vegetable patches

0:36:560:36:59

is rented from the stable owners next door for next to nothing.

0:36:590:37:03

Yeah, I think we'd definitely want to rent that bit as well

0:37:030:37:06

-and take down the fence.

-And grow some vegetables.

0:37:060:37:08

Exactly, you can have your own vegetable garden.

0:37:080:37:11

-The dog needs a bit more space.

-Need to fence it in more for the dog.

0:37:110:37:16

Yeah, that's true. But that's not a problem.

0:37:160:37:18

It depends on the price of the house, really.

0:37:180:37:20

-Which is something we absolutely should talk about.

-Yes.

0:37:200:37:23

Who'd like to guess the price of the house first?

0:37:230:37:25

I will.

0:37:250:37:26

I think it's going to be the top end of our budget.

0:37:270:37:30

-So I would say 650,000.

-OK.

0:37:300:37:32

Well, I'm going to be wildly different to that, Kim.

0:37:330:37:36

Because there's not a lot of land.

0:37:360:37:38

You know, I know we've got the advantage of a lot of land,

0:37:380:37:40

but there's not much land.

0:37:400:37:42

And looking around, I'm going to go for 595,000.

0:37:420:37:47

You're almost spot on.

0:37:470:37:48

It is on for £599,950.

0:37:480:37:52

-Oh...

-So just shy of £600,000.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:37:520:37:55

That is good.

0:37:550:37:56

Does that make you like the house a little bit more, that price?

0:37:560:37:59

Yeah, definitely.

0:37:590:38:01

I love it. I do. I love it, Kim.

0:38:010:38:03

-You loved it before you knew the price.

-I did.

0:38:030:38:05

Why don't you both have a chat as you look around?

0:38:050:38:09

-Because Kim's not so keen on this house as much as you.

-Yeah.

0:38:090:38:13

-So I think you two need to go off and have a natter.

-OK.

0:38:130:38:17

-And I'll meet you out the front.

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:38:170:38:20

Well, I think this is a case

0:38:230:38:24

of who is going to be the one to compromise,

0:38:240:38:26

because Kim really likes the chalet house

0:38:260:38:28

and Ben really likes this house.

0:38:280:38:30

So it's about who will win over who.

0:38:300:38:33

But I have a feeling Ben is going to win the battle.

0:38:330:38:37

£25,000 below budget,

0:38:370:38:39

this modern ranch-style property impresses Ben,

0:38:390:38:42

thanks to the lack of immediate neighbouring houses,

0:38:420:38:45

but its contemporary feel isn't Kim's cup of tea.

0:38:450:38:48

It gives them a large kitchen-diner,

0:38:480:38:50

two more bedrooms than they asked for

0:38:500:38:52

and a stylish and practical wood burner.

0:38:520:38:55

-This is nice.

-It is nice.

0:38:550:38:57

One big bedroom or two single bedrooms.

0:38:570:38:59

-Oh, this is two, is it?

-Sliding doors, I imagine, yes.

-Oh, OK.

0:38:590:39:03

I love this house. I really do.

0:39:040:39:06

The location is perfect.

0:39:060:39:09

As perfect as you can get. It really is.

0:39:090:39:12

You know, it's got a small garden,

0:39:120:39:14

but the views extending out of the back of the garden and to the sides are fantastic.

0:39:140:39:19

We want to be rural and it's almost like exciting again.

0:39:190:39:24

You know, it's such a young, vibrant house, really.

0:39:240:39:26

I don't think Kim's going to be quite as enthusiastic as me.

0:39:260:39:30

But I think I can bring her round, probably.

0:39:300:39:32

I hope we're on the same page.

0:39:320:39:34

But sometimes I think we're not even in the same book.

0:39:340:39:36

The other house, as soon as we walked in, I felt at home.

0:39:360:39:40

I really liked it.

0:39:400:39:42

This one, I'm just not so sure, really.

0:39:420:39:45

Something about it isn't quite me.

0:39:450:39:47

The kitchen area, I will definitely want to change.

0:39:470:39:50

Then that might persuade me.

0:39:500:39:52

I guess, if Ben really likes it, then we'll probably go for it.

0:39:520:39:56

I know you've both got mixed feelings about this house

0:39:570:40:00

and I'm going to confuse the issue further with the Mystery House.

0:40:000:40:04

-Let's go.

-Thank you.

0:40:040:40:05

Our final house choice is located close to the village of Duncton

0:40:130:40:16

in the heart of the South Downs and around 20 miles from Horsham.

0:40:160:40:21

Nearby Petworth, a 10-minute drive away,

0:40:210:40:23

offers the best range of local services.

0:40:230:40:26

The pretty market town has a strong reputation

0:40:260:40:28

as a leading antiques centre

0:40:280:40:30

and an abundance of cafes and eateries

0:40:300:40:32

line its attractive cobbled streets,

0:40:320:40:34

with the parish church of St Mary dominating the skyline.

0:40:340:40:38

Our Mystery House is truly one-of-a-kind,

0:40:380:40:41

set in parkland not far from the village of Duncton.

0:40:410:40:44

The stately driveway should give Ben and Kim a clue

0:40:440:40:47

to the property's pedigree.

0:40:470:40:49

Ben said he didn't want close neighbours.

0:40:490:40:51

He gets them here, but not in the way he probably imagined.

0:40:510:40:55

That is amazing. It really is.

0:40:550:40:58

Now, you both actually could live in a house like this.

0:40:580:41:01

I'd love to live in a house like this.

0:41:010:41:03

I'd love to own a house like this.

0:41:030:41:04

-Well, you can own a part of a house like this.

-That would probably do.

0:41:040:41:07

-Have a wing each.

-Yeah, a wing each, yeah. OK.

0:41:070:41:10

This is a Grade I-listed Georgian mansion.

0:41:100:41:14

And inside there are apartments.

0:41:140:41:17

And one of them is up for sale.

0:41:170:41:19

With our name on it.

0:41:190:41:21

What do you think about the prospect of shared accommodation?

0:41:210:41:25

Where not only do you have neighbours, but you're fairly close.

0:41:250:41:29

Yeah, I'm not a great one for shared accommodation.

0:41:290:41:32

I like solitude, really, and rural.

0:41:320:41:34

And I know this is in a rural setting.

0:41:340:41:36

This is an amazing setting, though. Imagine living here.

0:41:360:41:39

But, you know, think of all the people.

0:41:390:41:41

-How many apartments are there here?

-There are nine apartments.

0:41:410:41:44

But most of them are people's second homes.

0:41:440:41:47

People are only here for weekends or every month.

0:41:470:41:50

-This is not a noisy building.

-Oh, OK.

0:41:500:41:53

You're not going to have screaming kids with footballs

0:41:530:41:56

annoying you night and day, which I know is your big bugbear.

0:41:560:42:01

It is, yes.

0:42:010:42:02

Kim, how do you feel about this style of accommodation?

0:42:020:42:05

I'd certainly give it a thought. I think it's just amazing.

0:42:050:42:08

-The grounds are just wonderful.

-So, let's have a look, see what happens.

0:42:080:42:12

You weren't expecting this for the Mystery House, were you?

0:42:120:42:15

-No, we weren't.

-Not at all, no.

0:42:150:42:16

-Let's take the grand tour.

-OK.

-OK.

0:42:160:42:18

This magnificent Georgian Grade I-listed manor house

0:42:200:42:23

was built in the 1830s as a private residence

0:42:230:42:26

and later became a girls' school,

0:42:260:42:28

before being converted into luxury apartments.

0:42:280:42:31

Oh...!

0:42:310:42:32

-How grand is this?

-Look at that staircase!

0:42:340:42:36

It is something else, isn't it?

0:42:360:42:38

-This could be yours.

-Yeah.

0:42:380:42:40

-As long as I don't have to do the dusting.

-Yeah!

0:42:400:42:43

You'd need a big ladder.

0:42:430:42:44

Kim needn't worry.

0:42:440:42:46

For an annual service charge of £5,000,

0:42:460:42:49

cleaners will take care of communal areas,

0:42:490:42:51

such as the grand hallway,

0:42:510:42:53

and gardeners will tend to the landscaped gardens,

0:42:530:42:55

as well as the 140 acres of parkland.

0:42:550:42:58

Kim and Ben's apartment is a garden flat arranged over two floors

0:42:590:43:03

and accessed by its own private entrance,

0:43:030:43:05

through a two-tier patio space.

0:43:050:43:07

We're starting our tour on the lower ground level.

0:43:070:43:11

So you come straight into the kitchen, really, in this apartment.

0:43:110:43:16

This is a great apartment. Yeah.

0:43:160:43:18

-I like the kitchen.

-I like the kitchen.

0:43:180:43:21

This is ultramodern living.

0:43:210:43:23

And this is the proposition, this sort of grand mansion

0:43:230:43:27

and you get to have a small part of it in a very modern way.

0:43:270:43:31

I love this ultramodern. I really do.

0:43:310:43:33

Yeah. It is good.

0:43:330:43:35

-Good size, as well.

-It's not a small pokey kitchen, is it?

-No, it's not.

0:43:350:43:39

I thought it could have been smaller than this, but it is amazing.

0:43:390:43:43

-Let's go to the living room.

-OK.

0:43:430:43:45

'As far as mod cons go,

0:43:460:43:48

'nothing has been spared in this stylishly modern apartment,

0:43:480:43:51

'from underfloor heating

0:43:510:43:53

'to top-of-the-range kitchen appliances.'

0:43:530:43:55

So the owners decided to go with a Moroccan theme for this room.

0:43:560:44:00

But all of that is very cosmetic.

0:44:000:44:03

So, easily changed.

0:44:030:44:05

-It's just the soft furnishings, really.

-Moroccan's great.

0:44:050:44:08

That ceiling...

0:44:080:44:11

-It's like being in a cave.

-That is really clever.

0:44:110:44:14

This apartment is over two floors

0:44:140:44:16

and all of this is the lower ground bit.

0:44:160:44:19

And this is what they use as their main living room.

0:44:190:44:23

But that wall is actually a stud wall and next door is a room

0:44:230:44:26

that they haven't really decided what to do with it.

0:44:260:44:29

It has all the plumbing to be a bathroom.

0:44:290:44:30

It's bigger than this space.

0:44:300:44:32

But what you could do is just knock it all through

0:44:320:44:34

and have one lovely big living room.

0:44:340:44:37

-You still need to see more?

-Yes.

0:44:370:44:40

-Yeah, I need to see more.

-You're not saying much.

0:44:400:44:42

No, it's very small.

0:44:420:44:44

-Do you feel?

-Yes. And no window.

0:44:440:44:46

Well, this part of the house doesn't.

0:44:460:44:50

-Let's go to the bedroom, where there are windows.

-OK.

0:44:500:44:52

The subterranean living space darkens the mood a little,

0:44:540:44:56

but I'm hopeful the sunlit master will lift the spirits.

0:44:560:45:00

You can see why the couple use this as the master bedroom.

0:45:020:45:05

This is lovely. I really like that.

0:45:050:45:07

-Very light and airy.

-It is. Lovely.

0:45:070:45:10

Door straight out onto the terraced patio area.

0:45:100:45:13

A little courtyard garden.

0:45:130:45:15

-This is just what you like, isn't it?

-Yes, clean.

0:45:150:45:18

-Really clean.

-Nice clean lines. Yeah, this is lovely.

0:45:180:45:21

This is more my sort of house again.

0:45:210:45:24

Yeah, it is, yes, definitely.

0:45:240:45:26

After seeing the bedroom.

0:45:260:45:28

Now, there's no en suite, but there's a lovely shower room

0:45:280:45:31

just on the other side of the kitchen.

0:45:310:45:33

So that's what the couple use.

0:45:330:45:34

How many bedrooms has it got?

0:45:340:45:36

So it's a two-bedroom apartment.

0:45:360:45:38

The other bedroom is being used as a study

0:45:380:45:40

and that's on the ground floor, so the level above this.

0:45:400:45:43

But I thing that makes a lovely study

0:45:430:45:45

and I think, for you guys, you can use it as a study

0:45:450:45:48

and then when people come round, you turn it into a bedroom, really.

0:45:480:45:52

Yeah, sounds good.

0:45:520:45:54

-So you've seen a lot of the apartment now.

-Yes.

0:45:540:45:57

Is now the time to ask you whether it would ever be a realistic option?

0:45:570:46:01

I think it's lovely. I'm not sure about whether I could live here.

0:46:010:46:05

For me, it is a fantastic place.

0:46:050:46:07

As a second house, it would be amazing.

0:46:070:46:09

But I honestly think I'd be bored here.

0:46:090:46:12

The countryside around looks amazing.

0:46:120:46:14

The thought of getting up in the morning to that view,

0:46:140:46:16

taking the dog for a walk, yes, I could definitely be tempted by that.

0:46:160:46:20

Well, I am going to try and tempt you with that. I haven't given up.

0:46:200:46:23

-Let's go out into the garden.

-OK.

-OK.

0:46:230:46:27

As well as Ben and Kim's private patio area,

0:46:290:46:31

they also have access to the communal grounds,

0:46:310:46:34

which include a stunning formal landscaped garden.

0:46:340:46:37

So this Georgian manor house comes with 140 acres of gardens.

0:46:380:46:45

-Lots of room for my dog.

-You don't seem surprised any more.

0:46:460:46:49

Well, it's just so...

0:46:490:46:51

You know, you can't grasp it, can you?

0:46:510:46:53

-No, it's a little bit unreal, isn't it?

-Yeah, it's just so amazing.

0:46:530:46:56

-Your own medieval church, tennis courts.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:46:560:47:00

How much would it cost you? Who'd like to go first?

0:47:000:47:03

600,000?

0:47:040:47:06

-She's gone straight in there.

-She has, hasn't she? Yeah.

0:47:060:47:09

It's just such a hard house to gauge, this one.

0:47:090:47:12

I think it's 619,000.

0:47:120:47:14

OK, that's a very precise 19 there.

0:47:140:47:18

-You're trying to win this game, aren't you?

-I want to win, yes.

0:47:190:47:22

-This time the winner is Kim. She's closer.

-That's good.

0:47:220:47:26

It's on for £595,000.

0:47:260:47:28

-That is surprising, isn't it?

-It is.

0:47:280:47:31

You don't want to miss out on these stunning gardens.

0:47:310:47:34

Have a look around. Go back and see the apartment.

0:47:340:47:36

-And then we'll get a cup of tea and have a chat.

-That sounds fantastic.

0:47:360:47:39

See you soon.

0:47:390:47:41

Under budget by £30,000, our stately Mystery House

0:47:450:47:49

offers Ben and Kim a share of a splendid Georgian manor.

0:47:490:47:52

Stylishly kitted out with modern facilities,

0:47:520:47:55

it features a top-of-the-range kitchen,

0:47:550:47:57

a cavernous living space and two bedrooms.

0:47:570:48:00

But the real selling point is the grounds.

0:48:000:48:03

140 acres of communal parkland, including formal landscaped gardens.

0:48:030:48:08

When we came down the long one-mile drive

0:48:090:48:12

and saw the front of the building with the sun on it, I just thought,

0:48:120:48:16

you know, it's got to be almost a joke.

0:48:160:48:18

It's like a film set. It's like a film star's house.

0:48:180:48:21

And I can imagine that the neighbours here

0:48:210:48:24

are going to be, you know, like Kim and I, quiet.

0:48:240:48:27

But I don't think it's for me,

0:48:270:48:29

because I just don't know what I'd do all day.

0:48:290:48:31

I've got a garage, I've got an old car I'm restoring,

0:48:310:48:34

I've got all my computers.

0:48:340:48:36

I wouldn't be able to have any of that here.

0:48:360:48:38

I think the house would make a lovely second home.

0:48:380:48:41

If we won the lottery and could afford it, that would be perfect.

0:48:410:48:44

But as a main home, it's just too small for us.

0:48:440:48:48

-You've both got a lot to think about, haven't you?

-We have.

0:48:490:48:53

-But not about this one.

-No, that's your second home.

0:48:530:48:55

I mean about your primary residence.

0:48:550:48:57

Let's go and get a cup of tea.

0:48:570:48:59

With its cottages and village greens,

0:49:030:49:06

there's something of an old England feel about Sussex.

0:49:060:49:09

And carving its way through the landscape here

0:49:090:49:11

is another reminder of a bygone era.

0:49:110:49:13

The Bluebell Line is the UK's first preserved

0:49:130:49:16

standard-gauge heritage steam railway,

0:49:160:49:19

which reopened part of the old Lewis to East Grinstead track in 1960.

0:49:190:49:23

Since then, it's developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex,

0:49:230:49:28

mainly run by a dedicated team of volunteers.

0:49:280:49:31

And I'm hopping on to meet one of the longest serving, Mick Blackburn.

0:49:310:49:34

-Hi, Mick.

-Hi, Sonali.

0:49:340:49:36

-Nice to meet you.

-Nice to meet you.

0:49:360:49:39

So, Mick, tell us how the Bluebell Railway came about.

0:49:390:49:42

It was opened in 1882 by the London to Brighton South Coast Rail.

0:49:420:49:46

But it closed in 1958.

0:49:460:49:48

And a group of students, four students, thought,

0:49:480:49:52

"We don't want this to close."

0:49:520:49:53

So in 1959, they formed the Bluebell Rail Preservation Society.

0:49:530:49:56

And the line reopened again in August 1960.

0:49:560:49:59

So, really, it's here because of a group of train enthusiasts.

0:49:590:50:03

It was four students, train enthusiasts,

0:50:030:50:05

who really didn't want to see it close.

0:50:050:50:07

And when did you start volunteering?

0:50:070:50:09

I came here in 1960, when I was a schoolboy.

0:50:090:50:12

I couldn't afford the five shillings to join. I was here on opening day.

0:50:120:50:15

I helped on the station, I helped in the car park.

0:50:150:50:18

In March 1961, I managed to find five shillings and I joined the railway.

0:50:180:50:23

-It was myself and four friends from school.

-Wow.

0:50:230:50:26

And myself and one of the friends are still here.

0:50:260:50:29

And you've been coming every week since?

0:50:290:50:32

-Well, not every week. When I can, yes.

-When you can.

-When I can, yeah.

0:50:320:50:35

It's quite a sweet name, the Bluebell.

0:50:350:50:37

Why is it called the Bluebell Railway?

0:50:370:50:40

The press really dubbed it the Bluebell Railway before it closed,

0:50:400:50:43

because there used to be lots of bluebells and still is along the lineside.

0:50:430:50:46

And they used to say the trains ran so slow that you could get out and pick them

0:50:460:50:50

and get back in again which, of course, wasn't true.

0:50:500:50:52

And that's how the Bluebell Railway got its name.

0:50:520:50:54

Mick has worked his way up the food chain

0:50:540:50:56

to driving trains on the Bluebell Line.

0:50:560:50:59

The society has seven working steam engines

0:50:590:51:01

and runs a daily service from March through to October.

0:51:010:51:05

But old engines need some TLC to keep them going.

0:51:050:51:08

And that's where the maintenance team, based at Sheffield Park, step in.

0:51:080:51:11

I'm meeting engineer Andy Sabin,

0:51:110:51:14

who's currently warming up a restored 323 engine,

0:51:140:51:17

which was built in 1910.

0:51:170:51:19

So what are we going to do here?

0:51:190:51:20

-What we're going to do, we're going to give her a warming-up fire.

-OK.

0:51:200:51:23

This is because the engine's out tomorrow

0:51:230:51:25

and we need to be kind to the boiler.

0:51:250:51:28

So we're going to put some warmth in it

0:51:280:51:29

and it won't stress the boiler so much.

0:51:290:51:31

-It's boiler maintenance, basically.

-Boiler maintenance. It's good care.

0:51:310:51:34

So the first thing, the most important thing we need to do

0:51:340:51:37

-is just make sure that we've got water in the boiler.

-OK.

0:51:370:51:40

-So what we're going to do now, is if I give you this stick...

-OK.

-Right?

0:51:400:51:44

We need a rag and that's covered in paraffin.

0:51:440:51:47

-You can probably smell that, can you?

-Yeah, definitely.

0:51:470:51:50

Lighter.

0:51:500:51:51

-Essential tool.

-Essential.

-OK.

0:51:510:51:54

What we're going to do is you light the rag

0:51:540:51:56

and you throw it on the wood in there.

0:51:560:51:58

-Can you see the wood?

-Yeah.

-Right.

0:51:580:51:59

There you go.

0:52:000:52:02

That's it. You see the fire in there burning?

0:52:020:52:05

-We will add coal to it now.

-OK.

0:52:050:52:07

When we add coal to it, the coal will burn through

0:52:070:52:09

and it will take a few hours

0:52:090:52:11

and then overnight it will just sit there by itself,

0:52:110:52:13

it won't create any steam

0:52:130:52:15

and that'll be it, ready for them in the morning.

0:52:150:52:17

But engines are only half the story.

0:52:170:52:19

Old rolling stock also needs to be maintained

0:52:190:52:22

but, more importantly, protected from the elements.

0:52:220:52:25

The society is hoping to raise money to put the most at-risk carriages

0:52:250:52:28

under shelter at their depot in Horsted Keynes.

0:52:280:52:32

-Where did you get all your carriages from?

-Well, various places.

0:52:320:52:36

British Railways. People's seaside bungalows, all that sort of thing.

0:52:360:52:39

People used to buy them, put a roof over them and live in them, yes.

0:52:390:52:43

Oh, wow. You've got so many here, though. How many have you got?

0:52:430:52:45

I haven't counted for a long time. Probably 50 or 60.

0:52:450:52:48

Something like that. All awaiting restoration.

0:52:480:52:50

-That's a lot of restoration.

-That's a lot of restoration.

0:52:500:52:52

A lot of work, yeah.

0:52:520:52:53

At the moment, we have an appeal out

0:52:530:52:55

to try and get some of these carriages, at least 20 of them, under cover.

0:52:550:52:58

Because you don't want to do them up and then...

0:52:580:53:00

The problem we've got, we spend lots of time, money, energy

0:53:000:53:03

doing them all up and then stand them back in the open again.

0:53:030:53:05

They start to deteriorate straightaway.

0:53:050:53:08

-Best of luck with the campaign.

-Thank you very much.

-I hope you get the money you need.

0:53:080:53:11

-Thank you for showing me around today.

-That's quite all right.

-It's been brilliant.

-Jolly good.

0:53:110:53:15

The Bluebell Railway And Preservation Society

0:53:150:53:18

has been operating this heritage line for over 50 years.

0:53:180:53:22

And with the passion and dedication of volunteers like Mick,

0:53:220:53:25

thankfully, it seems there's little sign of it running out of steam.

0:53:250:53:28

Ben and Kim were in total agreement about the Mystery House.

0:53:300:53:34

But that hasn't necessarily been the case with all the properties.

0:53:340:53:37

On their budget,

0:53:370:53:39

it is unrealistic to get everything on their wish list.

0:53:390:53:42

So which one of them is willing to make the compromise?

0:53:420:53:45

So, Kim and Ben, what are you both going to do next?

0:53:500:53:54

I'd like to go and have a second look at the chalet house.

0:53:540:53:58

Have a look around the neighbourhood,

0:53:580:54:00

see what it's like, how close the neighbours really are.

0:54:000:54:03

Get a feel for it there. Because I really loved that house.

0:54:030:54:07

What about you, Ben?

0:54:070:54:08

I would like to go and have a second look at the wooden house, ranch.

0:54:080:54:12

Because I really liked that.

0:54:120:54:14

What are we going to do, really?

0:54:140:54:16

Because you both like different houses.

0:54:160:54:18

Kim, if you want to go back and look at the chalet,

0:54:180:54:22

Ben, would you be willing to compromise on the neighbour issue?

0:54:220:54:25

I know that's the reason you came into this process,

0:54:250:54:27

but it is Kim's dream home.

0:54:270:54:31

I can see that Kim just loved that house.

0:54:310:54:33

And, you know, don't get me wrong, I loved that house as well.

0:54:330:54:36

And, yeah, maybe the neighbours are not going to be a problem.

0:54:360:54:40

But we started back in April house-hunting

0:54:400:54:44

and the number one priority was we would not have any neighbours.

0:54:440:54:48

So, I could compromise.

0:54:480:54:51

And I wouldn't mind making that compromise,

0:54:510:54:54

but I just feel as though it's not what we really both want.

0:54:540:54:58

I mean, it sounded like a no, the answer to my question,

0:54:580:55:02

would you be wanting to make a compromise? It did sound like a no.

0:55:020:55:05

Yes, I was like a politician, wasn't I? The answer is a no.

0:55:050:55:08

-Is it really a no?

-It is really a no.

0:55:080:55:11

So therefore there's no point Kim

0:55:110:55:13

going back for a second viewing, is there?

0:55:130:55:16

Oh, I suppose not, really, no.

0:55:160:55:17

How do you feel about that, Kim?

0:55:170:55:19

Disappointed.

0:55:190:55:21

Really?

0:55:210:55:22

Yes.

0:55:220:55:24

But then I can't really see me living in the ranch house.

0:55:240:55:28

The things that you didn't like about the house,

0:55:280:55:30

-I really feel you could change.

-I could fix.

0:55:300:55:33

Unless you both really think that, over time,

0:55:330:55:37

you can find something that is perfect inside for you

0:55:370:55:39

and perfect outside for you, in your budget.

0:55:390:55:43

I mean, that's the crucial factor.

0:55:430:55:45

Yes, I actually do think that, you know, if we keep looking,

0:55:450:55:50

we will find something that we both really like.

0:55:500:55:53

I think that is the crux of the matter,

0:55:530:55:56

we've both got to really love it.

0:55:560:55:57

So are you both OK

0:55:570:55:58

about not going to see your favourite houses, really, again?

0:55:580:56:02

Yeah. I think Kim has made a bigger sacrifice than I have, actually.

0:56:020:56:08

Because I think she loved that house more than I loved the wooden house.

0:56:080:56:14

So at least you know exactly what you're looking for.

0:56:140:56:16

I feel I know exactly what you're looking for.

0:56:160:56:18

It's the chalet house on the land of the ranch house, isn't it?

0:56:180:56:21

You've got it, yes.

0:56:210:56:23

-So you just need to go out and find that now.

-Yes. Yes.

0:56:230:56:26

Well, thank you for taking me along on your search. It's been fun.

0:56:260:56:31

Well, thank you for guiding us. It has been wonderful, it really has.

0:56:310:56:34

Really enjoyed it.

0:56:340:56:35

-Good luck and let us know how you get on.

-Thank you.

0:56:350:56:38

-You must call me.

-We will, definitely. Thank you.

0:56:380:56:41

Well, it turns out neither Ben nor Kim were willing to compromise

0:56:440:56:47

in order to secure one of the two houses so right for each of them.

0:56:470:56:51

So their search continues.

0:56:510:56:53

They believe the perfect property for the both of them

0:56:530:56:56

is out there and within budget.

0:56:560:56:58

Let's hope they're right, because it would be lovely to see them both

0:56:580:57:01

starting their new life in the country sooner rather than later.

0:57:010:57:05

See you next time.

0:57:050:57:07

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:57:070:57:09

in either England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland

0:57:090:57:12

and would like our help, then please apply online at...

0:57:120:57:19

Sonali Shah is property searching in West Sussex with a couple who want their £625,000 to buy them uninterrupted peace in the country.

Sonali also stops off at one the UK's finest preserved heritage steam railways.