Property series. Ginny Buckley helps a couple who are looking to buy their first home together in rural Staffordshire with a budget of Â£700,000.
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After those long nights and grey days of winter,
there's no better sight to show that spring has finally sprung
than a host of golden daffodils.
And visitors come from far and wide to view this beautiful display.
So where is it? Find out in just a moment.
Today's house hunters are longing to move away from
cluttered coastal living to wide open spaces in the countryside.
Our properties offer the country style they've always craved...
Could you imagine yourselves in here?
-Don't look so surprised.
..along with bedrooms which blow them away.
If he's happy, I'm happy.
Today I'm in Staffordshire,
and the daffodils are in full bloom here at Shugborough Hall.
There are thought to be around 50 species of daffodils
growing wild in Britain, but that's just a drop in the ocean compared
to the 24,000 cultivated varieties that can be found in our gardens.
It's a staggering number that reflects
the enduring popularity of this vibrant symbol
of British springtime.
The landlocked county of Staffordshire
is situated in the West Midlands region of England,
covering an area of over 1,000 square miles.
The north of the county features
the heather-covered Staffordshire Moorlands,
a great vantage point to take in panoramic views across this
undulating, natural and working landscape.
In the south lies the market town of Tamworth,
with its historic Norman castle overlooking the River Tame.
The castle's motte, or mound,
is the second largest in the country after Windsor.
Lichfield's three-spired cathedral is a unique architectural landmark.
Dating back over 800 years, it's one of England's finest
medieval examples, built in the Gothic style.
Open, sweeping landscapes include Cannock Chase,
a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
And set by the River Trent, Great Haywood is home to
the picturesque Haywood Junction,
where two of the country's finest canals meet.
With 6,000 acres of national parks and a multitude of historic gems,
Staffordshire is a savvy choice for aspiring escapees.
If you're after a slice of rural life in a county that offers
some truly remote countryside,
but is in a central, accessible location,
then Staffordshire is worth some serious consideration.
House prices are hard to beat, too.
The average cost of a detached property here is £220,000.
That's £60,000 below the national figure.
So what is it about Staffordshire that excites our potential buyers?
Let's meet them and find out.
Angie and Steve met 18 months ago through a chance encounter,
when she was invited to join Steve and his friends aboard his boat.
They were sailing to the Isle of Wight from Christchurch,
-in Dorset, where they both live.
-Love at first sight.
-Yes, it was love at first sight.
-Steve is a fascinating man.
He's intelligent. Very sociable.
Good sense of humour.
Angie is a very caring and kind person.
She has a lot of friends.
She's liked by everybody.
Corporate events manager Angie
moved in with electronics MD Steve
just two weeks after they met.
However, having lived in the area for over three decades,
Angie has noticed a lot of recent local development.
There's been a lot of development and interest in the coast,
and big apartment blocks have been popping up.
There's a load more cars, there's more people,
it's just very, very busy now.
Living life in the fast lane, both Angie and Steve currently
travel extensively, conducting business across the UK and Europe.
They feel a move to Staffordshire, relocating away from the coast,
would be more beneficial to their lifestyle.
Moving towards the middle of the UK, in towards the country, allows us to
have a much better location, because it'll be less time travelling.
So it should give me
the ability to have more of a better work/life balance.
I would like to spend even more time at home.
It's time to just slow down now.
Angie and Steve both have grown-up children
from previous relationships,
and having spent time with Angie's daughter in Staffordshire,
they've realised that in addition to the area's convenient location,
it's also the ideal place for them to buy their first home together.
It is such a beautiful area. I love the countryside.
Not only because of the views that it lets you enjoy,
but you can get some solitude and tranquillity.
Everything changes as the seasons go.
There is a lot to enjoy, and the quietness,
which you don't get in a built-up area.
By reducing the pace of their busy lives,
our buyers hope this move to the countryside will allow them
to dedicate more time to their leisure pursuits.
I started riding when I was five.
I'm really looking forward to getting back in the saddle
and spending a lot more time doing that.
I've acquired myself a vintage car to enjoy
cruising around the countryside.
Also, Steve loves to keep chickens, and it is something I've not done.
We are looking for more land, ideally to change some hobbies
and interests, bring along some animals.
Their faithful four-legged sidekick, Truffles, will be moving with them.
And they're hopeful that a new location won't just bring them
a new lease of life,
but also a renewed focus on each other into their future.
I'm looking forward to the move so that we have more us time.
I'm going to, naturally, miss the coast.
But I'm even more excited about moving to the country.
Angie and Steve are fairly flexible about where
they live within the county, as long as it has good access to
motorways and airports for their work commitments.
I'm catching up with them to pinpoint
what they want from their new country pad.
Well, welcome to Staffordshire.
So what is it that draws you to this part of the countryside?
Well, my daughter lives up here, so we've spent some time with
her and loved it. Every time we've come up,
we've enjoyed our time here.
Well, it's quite a move. Why make it now?
I'm going to be doing a lot more travelling across the UK,
and being central rather than on the south coast helps.
-So that's an advantage.
-What's on the wish list
for this lovely property, here in the country?
The wish list is long. Um...
We like long, we don't mind long.
As long as it is doable.
Primarily, we want some land,
because we are looking at having some animals. Space.
We are quite social people, we like spacious houses.
We don't want doors that are going to stay shut
and rooms that are going to be unused.
So even though there is only two of us,
with the occasional visitor, we are looking for space,
and of course we need to work...
Home office space.
So it sounds like you're looking for a lot of space,
but space that you can use to live in, for offices, for living space,
-rather than lots of bedrooms that you might not use.
-And when you say land, how much land?
-Two to five acres.
Oh, OK, so that's a challenge. Now what about community?
Is a local community important to you?
I think it would be nice to have the obvious local community,
in terms of a nice local pub, good food.
And not too far for the emergency milk that you need to purchase.
OK. And neighbours. How do you fancy having a few neighbours around you?
I think we are both looking for a bit more seclusion.
Having a neighbour there is OK,
-as long as they're not in full view all day.
Can we talk about compromises on the list? Can we go there?!
-We can try!
-Well, if there were only five things on the list,
there'd be no compromises.
I think, because there's probably 15 things on the list,
we could probably compromise ten of them.
-But you're not going to tell me which ones, are you?
I can tell, you're just going to go,
"Well, that's something we could compromise on" when you see it,
-Now, remind me of the budget.
In an ideal world, we'd be looking to spend
If something really blew us away, we could probably stretch to seven,
but it would have to be "move-inable".
That's a good, healthy sum of money for this part of the country.
And you'll be pleased to hear we've got
some fantastic properties to show you.
-Do you want to take a look?
-Let's do it.
Angie and Steve have a healthy budget of £700,000
and a very precise list of requirements.
They're after four bedrooms with enough living space to allow
for regular entertaining and home office options for them both.
Ideally, they'd also like enough land to house some animals,
all wrapped up in an edge-of-village location.
We've lined up an enticing mix of properties that aim to
meet our couple's brief. And after each of the tours,
they'll have to guess the price before I reveal it to them.
Our final house is the mystery option, thrown in for good measure
to challenge these ideals and make them reconsider their priorities.
So, you two, how have we ended up here, driving round in a car
in Staffordshire, looking for properties?
Um, well, this, for us, is joining dots,
so this is the first property we've bought together.
That said, we moved in together on our second date.
-After our second date. So...didn't hang around.
-I was, uh...
-Steve does not procrastinate.
-So now it's time to fulfil a dream, I think.
And, for you, Angie, this move will bring you closer to family as well.
It will. Although I will be leaving my two sons down on the south coast,
my eldest, my daughter, does live in Staffordshire, um...
And she loves it here.
And she also has some land and animals,
so I think, uh, it's rubbing off on me.
But it'd be lovely to be close enough
-to spend some more time with her.
-That's exciting. That's great.
We're starting our property search
in the village of Draycott in the Clay, to the east of the county,
which has a local store with post office and two pubs,
all surrounded by rural countryside.
Nearby is the larger village of Tutbury,
which lies at the foot of the medieval ruins of Tutbury Castle.
A handful of independent shops and an antiques store sit alongside
more practical amenities, like a mini-market and a pub.
Just ten minutes' drive away
and located down its own private driveway
is where we'll find our first offering.
It's a detached property.
Built in 1760, originally.
The present owners have had it for 19 years.
It's been beautifully renovated and extended.
-It certainly looks like a very nice property.
Beautifully done, well-kept. It looks modern.
It looks modern because it is modern.
-The front part of the house is the more recent addition.
I've always had new properties,
so to get a blend of modern and...
more traditional would be lovely.
Very attractive. In a lovely location.
We have noticed that it does have a neighbour, at this point in time.
Yes, there's a farm next door. Lovely couple.
They haven't farmed it for 15 years.
I think you'll be surprised once we go into the property,
-and you see how it's laid out, how the gardens are laid out.
You don't feel as if you have neighbours quite so close.
-Are you still keen to have a look inside?
Dating back to the 18th century,
this character property started life as a cottage for workers
on the surrounding land, owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.
'Although the extension at the front was added during the 1980s,
'it is a sympathetic design in keeping with the house's history.'
OK, come on. Straight into the living room.
So this is the new part of the building.
-These are old, reclaimed oak beams.
Just to give it that older feel to the property.
Lovely, cosy log burning stove.
It's certainly very welcoming and cosy.
If this is the main lounge,
probably smaller than I had in my mind, what we were looking for.
It is a small space on its own, but if we go through here,
we have a lovely sunroom as well.
Sun...travels right over here during the day,
so it's always warm and light and bright.
-You can't help but want to imagine your own furniture in...
.. and coming in the door and having your glass of wine.
I'm trying to get the flow of the property.
Certainly, it's very...it is cosy, it's very nice.
Very nicely presented.
I just want to see more of it, see how it all works.
OK, well, let's go on with the flow because there is
a definite flow to it.
So we come through from those rooms
-to a cosy snug.
I'd be hard pressed to choose which room to sit in, though,
-because they're fairly similar.
You could sit in one each, couldn't you?
Hopefully not, but you know!
Now, I'm conscious that there are a lot of rooms here,
but I do think that they have a feeling of flowing in
from one to the other.
Well, it does seem to flow so far.
There's not going to be doors that are going, so far, remain closed.
-And rooms unused.
-Angie, I know the kitchen matters to you.
You're keen to do lots of cooking, lots of entertaining.
-Shall we go and take a look?
Also on the ground floor, there's a formal dining room,
handy for hosting their guests,
and a study which could be useful
for either Angie or Steve to work in from home.
-Is this your kind of kitchen, Angie?
Great size, beautiful quality. Beautifully done.
-It's got your range.
-It's got the range.
I can see me...
-cooking up something lovely there.
This is a good social space. Very nice.
Anything that you'd, you know, would you change about it?
I'd put a wine fridge in, probably.
-OK, you've got an idea for the flow of the space.
How is that working for you so far?
I think, from my side, the way the living space is laid out into
the sunroom and two lounges, isn't perhaps as open as I had in my mind.
But it is done to a very high standard.
I think we need to head upstairs,
because wait until you see the views from some of the bedrooms.
So, come on, let's go up.
On the first floor, there are four immaculately finished bedrooms.
Three good-sized, lovely lit doubles and one single.
There's also a stylish bathroom, complete with freestanding bath.
The master bedroom's down in the new extension.
'We're heading to the largest of the four bedrooms.'
They're real views.
From both windows.
A very nice modern en suite.
You might notice that the house has just been decorated.
It's really only in the last few months - new carpet,
new wallpaper, it's all freshly painted.
-I think the owners have got lovely taste.
-They have, indeed.
Very homely. And very welcoming.
You probably want a bigger bedroom.
-I probably would want a bigger bedroom. Yeah.
You tend not to get, unless you're looking at
-a Victorian, Edwardian property, those really big rooms.
-It's all about the compromise!
-It's all about the compromise. Yeah.
Let me show you the garden,
-and let's have a chat about the subject of land.
The manicured garden here sits within an acre of land,
and includes a good-sized lawn, vegetable plot and a duck pond.
I know our buyers are after more land than on offer here,
but I've got a potential solution up my sleeve.
It does sit in the middle of land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster,
and there is a possibility of renting a field,
some fields, off them.
Would that appeal?
I think, if it was an adjacent field, and depending on the size,
that's a possibility.
-There's also stables and a livery, a mile away, just up the lane.
So if you did want to get horses straightaway,
-there's definitely somewhere that you could keep them.
It's beautifully proportioned, and you're spoilt for places to sit.
-And spoilt for which view to look out.
I think the best elevation of the property as well.
Really? That's interesting, because this, of course,
-is the original front of the property.
-Let's come to the tricky part.
-Let's guess the price!
I think because we're on the east side of Staffordshire,
near the Derbyshire border,
the price is going to be slightly higher.
So I'm going to go with 625.
I agree, I think house prices in this area
are a little bit more...
So I will... It's a tough one.
I'll go with 635.
It is a more expensive part of the county.
It's actually on the market for 675.
What do you think now you know that?
It doesn't surprise me, really.
Because there are still too many compromises,
I think I would probably continue my search.
-It's not grabbing you in the heart, is it?
-It's not, no.
You haven't got that gut feeling for it.
I think you should still go back, have a look around,
just appreciate those beautiful views,
-and then it's on with the search.
-OK. Thank you.
£25,000 below the top
of their budget,
this immaculate character cottage,
with four bedrooms,
multiple living areas,
and a large country kitchen,
would provide the blend of old and new
that Angie and Steve are after.
Outside, the gardens are surrounded
by beautiful views
of the countryside,
and a home to a few chickens.
-You've got your space for the chickens.
-And your duck. Oh, look, this gate here.
Goes right through out to...
-That's good space.
I mean, that is a pretty big field.
-You could get a horse or three on there.
But you'd have to put the other animals in with them.
It's nice, the fact that it's not just open fields,
that there is, you know, it's broken countryside,
I felt the inside,
for me, was limited in terms of the flow and the space.
accessibility within that living space would be better.
When I first saw the house,
I thought it looked really attractive, beautifully kept.
The interiors have just been done up so beautifully. Great quality.
The grounds are beautiful, well tended.
Just a little bit too much garden for me, rather than not enough land.
Any change of heart?
No. Come on, let's look at the next one!
The Staffordshire countryside has been shaped
by its working landscape.
Arable and pastoral farms are both common throughout the county.
And Angie and Steve are keen to find out more
about what the land could offer them.
So we've arranged for them to meet Louise Fletcher-Chard,
who runs a small educational farm in the heart of the county,
helping people with learning disabilities.
She started with just two horses, but now her land is home
to five other types of livestock, including sheep, pigs and poultry.
So tell me about Sherratts Wood.
Well, we are not a traditional working farm.
We are helping some of the most vulnerable people
in our community, with learning disabilities,
mental health problems, brain injury,
to develop the skills to live an ordinary life.
So they learn about teamwork, they learn about communication,
and they do that through the animals.
What sort of activities do you do on a daily basis
-with your participants?
-They get involved in everything we do.
Mucking out pigs, feeding all the animals.
So these are some of our Portland sheep.
Would you say sheep make good companions, or best left alone?
You can see in here we've got a pygmy goat in with them,
and I think as long as the companion animal that comes in
isn't aggressive or too assertive,
the sheep tend to be quite accepting of them, really.
-Would these be suited for us?
-Oh, yes, they're a really good Smallholders breed,
the Portlands. They are really easy to look after.
You really don't need to be up early to look after sheep.
They just get fed once. Generally, for us,
-it is midday, that sort of time.
To keep any farm animal on your land, you need a holding number
and must follow regulations
and guidelines set out by animal health authorities such as Defra.
Lambing season is underway at Sherratts Wood,
and although Angie and Steve aren't thinking about breeding sheep,
let's hope they don't become too attached to these little beauties.
-Do you want to hold?
-And how old is he?
-This is Zara,
and she was born on Friday - she is only four days old.
And this is Zed, who's three weeks old.
You can see the difference already.
-So they get used to being handled really quickly
At what point are they weaned?
They generally will wean themselves, this breed.
Come on then, Zed.
But we tend to give them sort of four months, maybe a bit more,
depending on how well they're getting on, and then...
and then we'll separate them for a little bit.
OK, ladies. So if you want to come with me,
I'll take you to see some other animals
-that I think might suit you.
In the mid-1800s, Shetland ponies were brought to Staffordshire
and other counties to work in the coal mines
instead of children and women, who by then were prohibited by law.
Their strength and size made them perfect for passing through
low underground tunnels, hauling truckloads of coal.
Today, they're simply loved as family pets or used to
entertain children with rides at country fairs.
So how much land do these guys need?
They don't need an awful lot of grazing, half an acre,
you'd be absolutely great. They're like a garden variety, really.
So would they make good companions for a horse?
Oh, brilliant, yeah. Really playful with other horses as well.
Although they do tend to think that they're bigger than they
actually are, so they do tend to be quite cheeky.
The docile nature of Shetlands means
that they're low-maintenance for owners.
Once a month, they need to be
brushed from head to tail to remove mud
and check that they're healthy.
So, if you want to get your brushes,
and just give her a little bit of a brush?
And you can use that one, Angie, to do her mane, actually.
It works well.
This is the type of time where we would just check
-whether they're feeling a bit fat.
I would also have a look at their feet, as well.
So we'd run our hands down, pick their feet up,
just make sure that they looked OK, making sure that the nose is clear,
looking really healthy, nice bright eyes.
She's looking happy.
Thank you so much for sharing your animals with us.
-Thank you very much.
With a better understanding of what it takes to keep farm animals,
it's back to the property search to see if Angie and Steve
can find a place with enough land
to live out their very own countryside dream.
For our next stop, we're travelling west to the village of Standon,
just four miles from Eccleshall, where Angie's daughter lives.
Lying in a conservation area,
Eccleshall is a thriving market town, featuring many attractive
Georgian-fronted buildings neatly lining its high street.
The town offers a range of local stores,
a sweet shop and a variety of pubs and restaurants.
Back in Standon, the River Sow meanders around the edge
of the village, just a few minutes' drive from our house.
A sprawling property, which is best appreciated from the rear.
Now, this is the property that I've brought you both to see.
-What are your initial thoughts on it?
-It's a house.
It's a house!
I notice you said house rather than home!
-Yeah. More modern than expecting.
Part of the reason we're here is because of the location.
-It's ten minutes from Eccleshall...
-..I know you know well.
-The right location.
-Because your daughter is in Eccleshall, isn't she?
You've said it's a house.
Are you interested to see if it feels like a home inside?
-Yes. We must.
OK, come on, let's go and look.
Formerly two cottages built in the 1930s,
this modern property was made into a single dwelling in 1997.
The exterior may not have impressed our buyers,
but I'm hoping the open-plan layout inside will be more to their taste.
So I'll bring you in through the folding doors,
into a lovely big, spacious family room, kitchen-diner.
It is a great size space.
And just come in here,
because I want you to get a better idea of how the space works.
-And there is a lot of it.
-And it flows.
-It does flow.
It's a good, open space.
-Could you imagine yourselves in here?
-Don't looked so surprised.
Slightly am, actually.
That isn't the response I was necessarily expecting...
-after we talked outside.
-No, it is nice.
When there's just two of us for the majority of the time, it's
nice to be able to have somewhere to sit, to eat, to relax,
without moving too much.
And on the subject of places to sit, that's something that this house
isn't short of, so let me show you another one of them.
'Flowing on through from the kitchen,
'the dining area should be spacious enough for their dinner guests.'
-This is your sitting room.
And I think because the house is so open and airy,
what I liked about it was the cosy feel that it has in here,
that when it is a cold winter's night, you come and lock yourself away in here.
-Yes, it's lovely. I agree totally.
Yes. And it does flow. It does flow.
It definitely flows. This is the more formal...
-Guess we should look upstairs.
-I think we should.
Yes, that's a good cue. Come on. Follow on.
'Also on the ground floor, there's a large study with an adjoining
'conservatory overlooking the garden.
'Back through the entrance hall, we're heading upstairs.
'All five bedrooms are good-sized doubles.
'One is currently used as a twin,
'whilst another is used as a dressing area.
'A further roomy double benefits from its own en suite,
'and there's also a family bathroom.'
-Now, I'm going to show you what is the master bedroom.
-It is a good size.
-Yeah, good size.
-How do you feel about the fact that this house
has got five bedrooms?
-See what we... Maybe we can make them into three.
-Or make it into four.
You're talking about knocking walls down?!
Five bedrooms would be wasted, so we'd have to look at what
we could do in terms of just making some bigger rooms, but fewer.
There's a lot of improvements that can be made.
I'm going to take you downstairs, out into the garden. I have an idea I'd like to talk to you about.
I know you seem quite receptive to ideas and knocking things down and building things.
After a shaky start, Angie and Steve seem to be appreciating
the full potential of this property.
With a garden of half an acre, there isn't enough room to keep sheep,
but there is a duck pond and enough space for chickens
and goats to roam amongst the established garden and woodland.
As well as a large lawned area and a patio for dining outdoors.
I was quite pleasantly surprised inside with the reaction from
the two of you, but I sense it was the outside that didn't grab you straightaway.
Yes, the kerbside appeal doesn't get it for me, but inside works.
Just coming back to the kerb appeal of the house, how familiar are you
-with the New England-style property, those wooden-clad properties?
-The beach house type.
-Yeah. I like that.
Because I think the shape of the house, and particularly with
all those gables, lends itself to perhaps being clad in wood.
You could cedar-clad it, you could paint it
and give it that kind of very, you know, New England feel.
Yeah, sounds good.
I like your thinking.
Could potentially change how you view it from the outside quite dramatically.
-But, of course,
that would all depend on how much money you have left in your budget.
So, shall we move on to that one?
Oh! It's a whole lot of house.
So I'm going to tip my hat at 675.
I'm going to go lower than that. I'm going to say 640.
OK, you're both under, actually.
It was on the market for £725,000.
It was reduced a year ago to £695,000.
I'm sort of surprised.
-But not wholly.
-Because it is a lot.
It's a lot of bedrooms, a lot of house.
Are you getting that slightly more emotional feel that you
didn't necessarily get with the last property?
Yeah, it's a lot more interesting.
It has a lot more scope for change.
Why don't you two go back inside, have a chat about knocking
walls down, putting cedar cladding on, have a think?
-I'll see you soon.
£5,000 under our couple's maximum budget, this modern detached
property has five bedrooms, open-plan kitchen and living spaces
and home office options that seem to suit their desired lifestyle.
Although well-presented throughout,
it appears to offer the potential for our buyers to make it their own.
-OK, the office.
Interesting why it runs into the conservatory.
Not quite sure how that works.
You know what, if you just took this whole little section out and
then pushed everything together...
Yeah, lose this fifth of the property,
-lose the bedroom above it, and then it starts to...
But this is one of those rooms that potentially wouldn't be used.
'My initial thoughts, when I saw the property,
'were, it's a modern, purpose-built house.'
So I was a little bit disappointed when we first saw it.
However, when we came inside, the space downstairs was beautiful.
The kitchen and social living space was excellent.
Lovely hallway and dining area and beautiful sitting-room.
It is pretty much perfect in terms of its flow and its space.
The ground floor of the house has been given some love and care,
but upstairs, I think it needs quite a bit of attention.
I think the property needs some work
to turn it into the perfect home for us.
In part because of the excess number of bedrooms,
and outside doesn't have the... doesn't have the separate
office space, and of course there's no adjoining land for the animals.
Oh, no, you're going to make me get up from this lovely sunny spot,
-Up you come.
-So have you seen enough
-to get some thoughts about it?
-Yes, I think we have.
We've spent some good time walking around the house.
You're quite cagey, you two, you're not giving much away at this point.
I think it is probably time for a glass of wine
and some mulling over.
Glass of wine, sleep on it - sounds good to me.
Angie and Steve, from the town of Christchurch in Dorset,
have a budget of up to £700,000 and they are itching to buy their
first home together in rural Staffordshire.
Coming up, our mystery property throws uncertainty into the mix...
-You've gone very quiet on me.
I can hear your brain whirring, almost.
And I get to grips with the county's most iconic of
agricultural monster machines.
-It's like driving a really big automatic car.
We didn't quite get things right yesterday.
Angie and Steve have got a really healthy budget
for this part of the country.
But they also have a very healthy wish list,
which they're not prepared to compromise on.
But I've got high hopes for today's two properties,
particularly the mystery house, which I think will offer them
that elusive flow that they are after.
As long as they can live with the neighbours.
But before we get to the mystery house, for our next property stop,
we are travelling north and hopping over the border into Cheshire.
Our destination is the village of Bridgemere, which has great
road and rail connections for Angie and Steve's work.
Nearby is the village of Audlem,
with a run of 15 locks on the Shropshire Union Canal.
There are canalside pubs and it attracts thousands of visitors annually.
The high street has a delicatessen, local stores and post office.
And five miles away is the house I want to show them.
-It certainly has Steve's kerbside appeal.
It looks really lovely.
It's a 1960s house, but it's got a lot of character going on,
-which I know would appeal to you two.
-Well, shall we see if you're still smiling when we get inside?
'Over the ten years that the current owners have lived here,
'they have scoured reclamation yards for timeless pieces to add a sense
'of tradition and rustic charm
'to the exterior and interior of the house.'
You come into a really good-sized entrance hall.
I'm going to show you, first of all, the main family room.
-It doesn't look like a 1960s property.
-An exciting property. Like it.
-How do you feel?
-You actually imagine yourselves cosying down here?
This actually isn't the largest living and entertaining space.
That's just round here, so follow me.
-You've got this substantial-sized dining room.
And then this brings us through
to this really lovely summer room, a snug.
Again, lots of great features found in those reclamation yards...
And still lots of light.
Because even though there's a lot of wood and quite dark wood, it's...
-There's lots of light coming in.
It's got this quite modern feel, I think,
-which is in contrast.
-Mmm. It's beautiful.
It's got great personality.
The doors are lovely, they open out on both sides,
one onto the garden, the other onto the patio area that gets
-the sun all day and it's a fantastic barbecue spot.
-Well, you've got smiles on your faces and your eyes are lighting up...
It's really homely. Quirky.
OK, well, I know kitchen is important, particularly to you, Angie,
-so I bet you're keen to take a look at that.
-I'm very keen now.
'Back through the dining hall, there's also a large utility room,
'and I'm hoping the positive vibes I'm getting from Angie and Steve
'are going to keep coming.'
-Is this your style, Angie?
Yeah, yeah, I think the set-out's OK.
It'd be nice if it was a little bit bigger, but doable.
And what about the elusive flow that we've been talking a lot of?
Are you getting a feel that the house has a flow?
I think it has the warm feel, it's welcoming
and because it's open space, going through the dining hall
-towards the sunroom, it's...
-It still works.
-OK. You keen to see upstairs?
Let's go and look at the bedrooms.
We're heading upstairs to where there are four bedrooms in total.
The three double bedrooms, although full of character,
don't lack in space and light.
There's also an airy single and a wood-panelled bathroom.
So, I want to show you the master suite,
which I know is something that you were both quite keen on.
As you can see, this has got lots of space.
It's got a good-sized en suite just round the corner, there.
-Is this the kind of thing you had in mind?
-If he's happy, I'm happy.
-What do you like about it?
-As I say, the mix of space is right.
This is the perfect-sized bedroom.
One of the things yesterday that I know was
a bit of an issue for both of you, was office space.
-Because in an ideal world, you'd rather not have the bedroom next door...
..becoming the office.
I'm happy to say that that's not a problem that you'll face in this house.
-So, come on, let me show you the office.
Got to go back downstairs.
The office is built above the double garage, which is attached to the house.
Stylish in its finish, it's spacious enough
for a double bed and a smart en suite.
-So, is this the kind of thing you had in mind?
-Lots of daylight.
-Yeah, it's nice.
-Doesn't need anything doing to it.
-Yeah, that's good.
There's actually, attached to the house, a separate one-bedroom annexe.
It's a really good size and gives you another alternative
for an office space, or you could have one each.
So we've got to go back out into the garden and we'll wander through
-and take a look at it.
Back outside, and with its very own entrance,
the annexe here isn't shy of space, either.
There's a good-size studio-style living area with a
fully fitted kitchen, compact shower room and a double bedroom.
Come on into the one-bedroomed annexe.
So is this a welcome addition, or actually something
that you think you wouldn't use?
I think it's a welcome addition, if we were to make this the office space,
because there's a lot of room in here to
actually have office and meeting space.
-Which is what you wanted.
-Absolutely. Choices now.
-But you haven't seen the garden yet.
While the house here gives them super-size proportions,
the compromise is on the land.
The secluded and tranquil garden makes up
three quarters of an acre, and is mostly lawned,
surrounded by established trees and also features a charming brook.
There's not enough space for a horse, but there could be, next door.
The neighbour keeps horses, she has stables
-and she's got a number of paddocks at the back of the house.
Who knows, you could have a conversation with her...
-You're smiling still! That's good.
-Still smiling, yeah.
-No, I think that might have to be the compromise.
It's got a good space.
And now, I think we need to talk about the price, don't we?
It is a lot of property,
and I think it's going to be over our budget at 725.
It is a beautiful house, a lot of house and lovely grounds,
so I'm going to...push up to 750.
Well, you'll be both very pleased to hear that this property is actually
under your budget.
It's on at £650,000.
-That's good news.
-Yeah, that's very good news.
Why don't you go and have a look around?
There's so much to see.
Under budget by £50,000, this modern, quirky, character property
with four bedrooms has more space inside
than Angie and Steve could have wished for.
With a fabulous master bedroom suite,
two potential home offices
and set within a beautiful,
this house is a strong contender.
Stunning. Absolutely perfect.
-Yes, the babbling brook.
Oh! Big fail.
Ticking the boxes as I walked through.
The gates, the gravel driveway, the kerbside appeal,
recognising the space that it's got.
The annexe is an additional part of the property that we hadn't expected,
but would make extremely good working space.
And then the space above the garage could become a cinema room
or some kind of games room or additional accommodation for guests.
Overall, I would say we are nine-and-a-half out of ten.
There are really modern features in the house and some really great
traditional ones, so I can have my balance of quirkiness and modern.
I love the outside space, it is not manicured,
but it is beautifully kept.
You've got the space for the chooks and the ducks.
Got lots of social space. Yeah, very nice.
Of the properties that we've seen, this probably sums Steve and I up.
It's got the space, it's got the ability for us to
put even more personality into it and it has a lot of character.
It's warm, it's different and we love it.
-Have you seen enough?
-Yes, thank you.
-I really like those positive smiles.
-Very good property.
-And we've still one more to show you.
For our mystery house, we are staying within Cheshire,
but heading north to the hamlet of Hunsterson.
Nearby is the market town of Nantwich,
whose centre is made up of over 130 listed buildings,
including many preserved black-and-white timber-frame structures.
A popular local town,
the busy high street is home to everything our couple would need.
Seven miles away and overlooking wide-open views
is our final proposition.
So, here we have the mystery house.
It's a beautiful detached, period barn conversation.
It was renovated six years ago and it's done to an incredibly high standard.
What are your first thoughts?
It pushes all my buttons for modern and sleek and...
Which is possibly what I was trying to get away from,
so it's going to cause me a problem.
Yes. What about you, Steve? Because you...
No, I like it. I like the look of it.
Yeah, we considered barn conversations
and this certainly... Yeah, it looks impressive.
One of the really strong points about this property, I think,
is that you've got this stunning rural location.
-I mean, could you wake up and look at those views every day?
Lovely. And it's so quiet and secluded.
-Well laid out.
-Yeah. The development looks nice.
Even though they've got the neighbours, it looks immaculate.
I think you're going to like the inside.
-Are you keen to have a look?
I think you're going to be smiling.
Set within a small development of four barn conversions,
the mystery element is the close proximity of neighbours.
However, with such a smart and open-plan interior to consider,
maybe Angie and Steve will be seduced by its impressive interior design.
-So you come straight into this amazing entrance space.
It's a dining hall, isn't it?
And straightaway in here, you will get an idea and
a look and feel for the fact that this has a flow!
-It does have a flow.
Whoever lives here has beautiful taste.
Mmm, it's got my name on it.
It couldn't be more of a contrast to the property we've just seen
and I do think this will challenge both of you into exactly what
you're prepared to compromise on.
So, follow me... The dining hall.
We come into a brilliant-sized family room.
It's very bright and airy for a barn conversion. What do you both think?
Nicely done. It is the perfect barn conversion, yeah.
Yeah, it doesn't feel like a barn at all.
That's maybe because you expect wood, beams, A-frames.
Well, it flows through nicely from your entertaining space, through...
You've got an open-plan feel into the kitchen.
And look, there we go.
Lovely ceiling height.
The kitchen, again, is done to a fantastic specification,
-good quality wooden units, nice marble worktops.
-So bright and clean.
-Lots of light.
-Yeah, that's what we're looking for, in terms of...
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
There's another really nice sitting room that I'm going to show you,
so let's just wander back through the central entrance hall.
-It's beautifully done, isn't it?
-Yeah. It's good.
-The living space is good.
-It is, it's beautiful. And spacious.
The flow is superb.
The back, there, it's used as an office,
-so it is all kitted out as an office. It's a home office.
I know the two of you are quite keen to have a separate feel to that,
rather than it be part of the house,
and one thing I thought you could do is, you would lose some light,
but you could take the double sets of doors out,
and you could put an internal wall across there, and you could access
the office by a separate door there at the back.
It would give you that separation you need.
You needn't know it was there, but if you really felt strongly
about that, you could separate it from the rest of the house.
-You've gone very quiet on me.
I can hear your brain whirring, almost.
I think it's playing to Angie's weakness in the...
take it immaculate...
It's the pristine property and it does what it is.
In my head, I'm thinking,
I want to pick this up and put it somewhere more secluded.
We want the mystery property to challenge you,
-to challenge the way you're thinking.
-It's doing that.
-I did feel that.
Well, I know what a sucker you both are for a big master suite!
We've got one waiting upstairs for you.
The mystery house has divided opinion,
so I wonder if upstairs is going to receive harmonious reactions?
There are four double bedrooms, featuring the original beams
of the property, which give character and height to the rooms.
There's also a stylish family bathroom, with neutral decor,
but we are heading straight for the main bedroom.
-Here we go. How about that for an original feature?
Beautiful old... It's the old A-frame.
-It's lovely, isn't it?
-And it's a good-sized bedroom, extra large.
-You've got an en-suite.
It's still well proportioned.
And also, a walk-in wardrobe, just behind us there.
-So much light coming in.
-There is a lot of light. And a lot of character.
It is a good space, nice.
Let's go downstairs, let's explore a little bit more,
-and just talk about what the options could be outside.
Extending to a third of an acre, the garden's proximity to open
fields and uninterrupted views might just prove to be of more
interest to Angie and Steve than first meets the eye.
So, back in the garden.
Interestingly, I think of all the properties we have seen,
this one gives you the best options for having some land,
because the local farmer owns all the fields around me,
-and you could potentially buy an acre here, right opposite you.
We've got so much to think about now.
And there's a bit more we need to think about now,
because I need to know how much you think this property is on the market for.
Ooh! Is it my turn to go first? Um...
I'm going to be very precise and say, 649,950.
I'm going to go lower than that. I'm going to say 629,950.
Well, this evening's glass of wine goes to...Angie.
It's on the market for £650,000. And then, of course,
whatever negotiations happen with the land would be in addition to that.
-How does that feel, now you know that?
Well, clearly, it needs nothing doing to it. You'd just up and move in.
I don't know how I feel about that.
I haven't actually seen you both this quiet over the last two days!
THEY LAUGH I think you need to go and digest...
-I feel like I've given you a lot to think about.
And that's what the mystery house is supposed to do.
So why don't you go in, have a look around,
-explore the garden, go take a look over the fields?
£50,000 below budget, our mystery barn conversion
is beautifully presented throughout
and has a spacious, open-plan layout with four bedrooms.
It has rural views, as well as
the opportunity to purchase land.
It's given them a lot to think about.
This property has challenged every requirement, I think,
we had in a house.
It has really given us something to think about.
Internally, you can't help
but be totally impressed by how immaculate it is.
It works, it flows, the spaces are big, there's loads of light.
I think it's probably just a bit too perfect for me.
It doesn't have the charm that we saw in the previous property,
because it seems very clinical, very clean, very immaculate, and I would like
to put a bit of Steve and Angie into the property to make it feel like ours.
-You seen everything you want to see?
-I think so.
Final property done. All that's left is for us to find
-a nice quiet spot and have a chat.
Staffordshire is home to one of the greatest British manufacturing
success stories of the last seven decades.
From humble beginnings as a small, rural business
selling farm trailers, the company has grown to become one of
the biggest names in construction and agricultural machinery,
and highlights how British innovation has changed
the face of farming and building across the globe.
I've come to meet Lord Anthony Bamford,
son of the founder, at the world headquarters,
to discover how the county's home-grown machines
have become an iconic part of the rural landscape.
How lovely to meet you.
I would love you to tell me about your father
and about the company that he founded, how it all came about.
It goes back to 1820 in Uttoxeter,
and our family started as blacksmiths.
They were shoeing horses
and they gradually went into making things for farms.
In 1945, after the war, he wanted to do all sorts of modern things,
like welding, rather than riveting.
And his father got fed up with him and sacked him,
so he started on his own.
He wasn't allowed to use the name Bamford by the other members of the family,
so he called it JCB, and he invented this thing called a backhoe loader.
And that was in the early 1950s.
And that is when we really got into construction machinery.
Worldwide in their distribution, with 12 factories in Britain,
the Bamford family have committed to keeping 11 of those
factories in Staffordshire, where the company was born.
Why has it been important for your company to stay in this county?
I am from here, my father's from here and my grandfather.
I think, obviously, that is where our roots are.
And we've grown up with many generations of people,
many of our engineers, their fathers were here,
and maybe their grandfathers were.
So a lot of it is the sort of family thing.
When the company began, they made a few hundred machines a year.
They are now producing 75,000 annually and employing 7,000 staff.
I'm meeting Ivan Dyke, who, as a loyal worker,
just can't quite tear himself away.
What's your story with the company? What's your history?
I've been here 48 years.
I was on the shop floor in manufacturing, machining,
I took early retirement 13 years ago,
came back as a tour guide, looking after visitors.
-Is your story unusual?
-It isn't unusual these days.
There's people been here ten years longer than me,
working as tour guides today.
I think you'll be here for quite a few more years to come,
I have a feeling!
If the legs will stand up to it, maybe so!
Over the course of its history, the company's initial
production of 2-3 products has now flourished into a range of 350.
I think it's time for me to test drive one of these machines,
so I am being given a quick lesson by agricultural marketing manager,
-How are you doing?
-Good, are you?
Now, this is an absolute beast!
Yeah, it's the biggest tractor that we produce.
-Are you up for giving me a lesson?
-Yes, yeah, let's come and have a go.
OK. I think the first challenge will be getting in it.
'And the second challenge, I discover,
'is that Richard would actually like me to plough the field.'
Great. So, clutch...
-OK, so, to go forward, hold the joystick,
press the trigger and then push the lever forward.
This is an absolute monster.
-It's like driving a really big automatic car.
I mean, an enormous automatic car,
-but it's actually really simple to drive.
-OK, now drop the implement to the ground. There you go.
-There we go.
Great, so it's in.
-So now you turn that on, that engages the cultivator to start going round.
So now you want to increase the revs of the tractor.
-Oh, you can really feel it revving!
-Now, if you touch the throttle...
-Is slow and steady the best way to keep it straight?
On a sunny day, in the English countryside,
you could while away an hour doing this.
So, how long would it take to plough an acre?
With a large plough, you could probably do an acre in ten minutes.
You could easily cover 60-70 acres a day with this tractor.
Am I keeping straight?
Yeah, you are covering it all anyway, so you are doing a good job.
You're a natural to it. OK, so, now drop your revs off. Perfect.
-That was a lot of fun, thank you.
Although world leaders in their industry, it is
heartening to see that a home-grown company has remained on UK soil,
staying true to their Staffordshire roots.
I will be back in the summer. I'll be back for the harvest!
It's been nice to see such strong and positive reactions
from Angie and Steve to both today's properties.
I wasn't that surprised, really.
I thought the mystery house would appeal to Angie, in particular.
But you know, now, thinking back over the day,
I have a feeling I might be wrong.
There's a lot of contemplating going on there.
You know, I sensed a lot more enthusiasm from both of you
today for the two properties that we saw.
So where are we at? How're you feeling?
Today's been...an enlightening day.
The first property we saw today,
we really engaged with, we really felt at home,
and felt it delivered so much of what we are looking for.
What about the mystery house, Angie?
I think I went into a very small state of shock when I saw that,
because on paper, it would be everything I would be looking for.
It was a barn, it was immaculate, tidy, clean, straight lines.
So I felt a bit of conflict between how I felt
about house number three and the mystery house.
But it didn't take too long to overcome that.
Totally discounted the mystery house.
It's what I've always done - clean lines, modern interiors.
And the point is, we are changing everything,
we are changing our lifestyle and changing...
Yeah, changing everything.
I find that quite surprising.
I think a lot of people will.
So, that quirky house that we saw...
What next? What are your plans?
Certainly want to have a second viewing, have another look around.
Because, as Angie said, it's the top of the list.
When we go back and have another viewing,
if we're still that enthusiastic, it will hopefully lead to an offer.
So, we started off in Staffordshire,
but we ended up pushing you just over the border, into Cheshire.
How do you feel about that?
It's still not that far away from the boundaries we set.
We are still within 20 miles of where we wanted to be, I think.
-Just! And it's such a beautiful area.
And I've got to ask,
this thing about the land - if it turns out that the quirky house,
you can't get any land with it, would that be a deal-breaker?
That, I will know when I go back and have another look.
There are horses behind the house,
there might be an opportunity to help somebody with their horses,
ride with them, if I can't get my own.
So, there are conversations to be had a little bit more,
But I don't think it's a deal-breaker.
But the two of you can imagine starting this next chapter
of your life together, in your first home together, in that house?
That's absolutely fantastic news, I'm so thrilled to hear that.
Keep us informed.
We are coming back up in a few weeks,
so we will make arrangements to go and have another look.
I just wish you so much luck with your move, and lots of happiness.
-Thank you very much.
-It's been great fun.
And yeah, we've learnt an awful lot.
The two days I spent with Angie and Steve
could not really have been more of a contrast.
I felt like I had a slightly disappointed couple on my hands
at the end of the first day!
But today has been so positive and I've just left two people who,
I sense, are very excited at the prospect that they could have
found the property that will become their first home together.
A great end to our visit to Staffordshire.
Join me next time on Escape to the Country.
And if you'd like to escape to the country in England, Scotland, Wales
or Northern Ireland and would like our help, you can apply online at:
Ginny Buckley is supporting a sociable and successful couple who are looking to buy their first home together in rural Staffordshire. Their healthy £700,000 budget turns up an assortment of attractive properties, and Ginny learns about the county's driving force that has influenced agriculture and architecture across the globe.