Episode 17 Escape to the Country


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Episode 17

Property series. Nicki Chapman helps a buyer who is property shopping with her best friend. She has £375,000 to find some countryside respite to suit her and her elderly mother.


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This magnificent viaduct

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with its 27 arches that reflect in the water behind me

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makes a striking backdrop to some rather restorative gardens.

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But where have I come to for this picturesque setting?

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Find out in just a moment.

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Today's buyer has dreams of the good life

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and has brought her best buddy along for the ride.

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They are both impressed by our characterful

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collection of cottages.

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-Oh, this is a pretty little room, isn't it?

-It's very nice, yes.

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And at one of our houses she clearly feels at home.

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It's gorgeous.

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-Love it.

-You're beginning to go, aren't you?

-Yeah, she is.

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-The dream is a step closer.

-Yes.

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Today, I am in Somerset

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and this is the Grade II listed Charlton Viaduct.

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Built in 1874,

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it stands an impressive 15 metres above the River Sheppey

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and was the longest of seven viaducts that were

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built along the 26-mile stretch of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

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Now no longer in use,

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the viaduct makes a statuesque feature to the public gardens

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here at Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet.

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And later on in the show

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I'll be back to find out more about the history of these gardens,

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but in the meantime, there is plenty more on offer

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in this beautiful western county.

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In the heart of the West Country, Somerset is England's

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seventh largest county and shares its border with Devon

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and Dorset in the south, and Wiltshire to the east.

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It is a county with a range of contrasting landscapes,

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from dramatic rocky shorelines

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to gently rolling countryside.

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As well as craggy cliffs,

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the coast of the Bristol Channel is made up of long sandy beaches

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such as the resort of Burnham-On-Sea, home to two wooden lighthouses

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perched high on stilts.

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Inland, the Mendip Hills cover an area of 120 square miles.

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Popular with hikers, it's also home to one of the most famous

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limestone gorges in the world at Cheddar.

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Pretty villages include Norton St Philip

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with its 15th century pub

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which some would say is the oldest tavern in Britain.

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The low-lying Somerset levels and moors are a haven to

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a variety of birds and wildlife

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and, although prone to flooding,

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it's hoped a major investment in defences,

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including the dredging of its network of river channels,

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will prevent a repeat of the 2013 flooding.

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With the added draw of the Quantock Hills,

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a rolling landscape of patchwork fields,

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this is a county for those seeking an authentic slice of rural Britain.

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If you pick Somerset as your county of choice, you will find that

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prices hang tantalisingly below the national average.

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Currently, the average price for a detached house in England

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and Wales is around £282,000,

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but in Somerset as a whole

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you will be making a saving of around £5,000 from that figure.

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However, in the far north of the county you may expect to pay

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a little bit more due to the swift transport links

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between Bristol and London.

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So, how will this glorious county provide the perfect

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environment for today's buyer?

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Well, let's meet her and find out.

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Today's house hunter is Gina from Bristol

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who has lived in this three-bedroomed cottage

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on the outskirts of the city for 18 years.

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Supporting her on the move is Claire, Gina's best friend.

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Claire and I met about 30 years ago, wasn't it,

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in Northamptonshire where we both lived.

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-And we got chatting.

-Yeah.

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-We just instantly liked each other.

-Yep. Clicked, didn't we?

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We've religiously kept in contact.

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At minimum, we have a long conversation once a week

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and, really, our friendship has just been like that

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-all the way through.

-Absolutely.

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Although Gina's spent nearly two decades in her beautifully

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renovated and much-loved home, she now feels it's time to move on.

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I currently live in North Bristol.

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My property is situated on a no-through road,

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but at the end of this road is the A38, which is a dual carriageway,

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so that's a very busy road, particularly in the rush hour.

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Bristol, generally, is a very busy area.

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I think if you could pick up this house, actually,

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and move it into the country you would be really happy.

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I would, yeah.

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But since Gina's two adult sons still live in Bristol,

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she doesn't want to venture too far,

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so the Somerset countryside is the happy medium.

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Somerset is an ideal location for me.

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It's got good motorway access back to Bristol,

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but then again, you are out in the beautiful countryside

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and I particularly love waking up in the morning, hearing the birds.

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It just feels right to me,

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if you can understand that, it's a feeling.

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And in her spare time

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Gina plans to pursue a more

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self-sufficient way of life.

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I think you're going to love living in the countryside.

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You're going to have a bit of outside space,

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-you'll be able to grow your vegetables.

-Absolutely.

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-Have more animals.

-Yeah, keep a dog.

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As well as her friendship, when it comes to rural endeavours,

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Claire speaks from experience.

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I've done a similar move to the country.

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I escaped five years ago,

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and I think some of our friends thought we were

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a bit crazy when they saw how remote we were living,

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but when Gina came down and saw the place for the first time...

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-Oh, it was just wonderful.

-..she got it, she totally understood.

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So I do know the ins and outs

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of living in the country, and hopefully

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I can point out some of the possible pitfalls, if there are any.

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Until she retired, Gina worked as an office manager

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for a construction company, so now the keen animal lover has more

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time to devote to her two cats

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as well as caring full-time for her elderly mother,

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Anita, who lives with her.

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Mum is obviously a big part of this move.

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And to start with, when I first talked to her about it,

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obviously she was a little bit reticent,

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but I think now she can see the benefits

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and it would make life much easier for her.

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Despite a big change in lifestyle for Gina,

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her good friend Claire has no doubt this is the best thing for her.

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This move is only going to be positive for Gina.

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You'll have peace of mind that your mum is in suitable accommodation.

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-Yep.

-So that's all good and you'll have such a better quality of life.

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I think so too.

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Gina wants to be within an hour's drive from her sons in Bristol,

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so our Somerset search will bear that in mind.

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I'm meeting up with the two friends

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to hear more about Gina's planned move.

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Well, Gina and Claire, lovely to meet you.

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-And welcome to Somerset.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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-Why Somerset? Why this county?

-It's just a good location for me.

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-And it's beautiful.

-It is. Best of both worlds in a way.

-Absolutely!

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Close to Bristol but in the country.

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-And you've brought your best friend Claire with you.

-I have, yeah.

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Claire, what are you going to bring to this search?

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Well, we've been best friends for a long time, over 30 years.

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I know exactly the sort of thing Gina is looking for, because

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we've got similar tastes.

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And I'm hoping I can help her make the right decision.

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-Are you going to be the voice of reason?

-Well, probably.

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Is there anything I should be looking out for?

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Um, she might just fall in love with something that's

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-not necessarily exactly what she really wants.

-Right.

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So, what exactly, then, are we looking for? Just remind me.

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OK, yeah. A minimum of three bedrooms.

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I need one bedroom to be downstairs with a shower room for my mum.

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I'd quite like a big kitchen-diner.

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I would like a character property

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and I would like a nice big back garden

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where I can have a little veggie plot, fruit trees,

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chickens, and if there was space for more animals, that would be lovely.

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So I would like a big, animal-safe garden, really.

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-Yes, the larger, the better.

-Yes, I think so.

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And, Gina, you've recently become your mother's carer, haven't you?

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And she's moved in with you. How does she feel about this move?

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I think she appreciates that with the facilities that she

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will have to a downstairs shower room, bedroom, it'll be a good move.

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-So she's looking forward to it, is she?

-Yes.

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And is she confident with your abilities to find you both a home?

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-Has she given you a little wish list?

-Oh, bless.

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Um... No, because I think she knows

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I have a mind of my own and I will

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-do the best for both of us.

-Awww...

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-I'm liking that answer. I'm loving your mother even more.

-Aw!

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Now, Claire, you know Gina so well. Anything that she wouldn't like?

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Any no-nos?

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I think anything that is too remote, she may like,

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but I don't think is going to be practical for her and her mum.

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-Definitely.

-And remind us of your budget.

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It is 375,000.

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And do you think that is realistic for this part of the country?

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I think so, yes.

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It's the land that is going to be the interesting one, isn't it?

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Well, let's just see what you've got for me, Nicki.

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Are you feeling flexible?

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Yes, I'm just open to looking at anything.

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Really excited about it.

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We do have some splendid properties to show you.

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Claire, pressure is on you as well as me with this search.

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We've got to find that perfect home for the two of them.

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Absolutely, we have.

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-Shall we get started, ladies?

-That would be lovely.

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-Come on then.

-Thank you, Nicki.

-Thank you.

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With a top budget of £375,000,

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Gina would like a character property with a minimum of three bedrooms

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with one on the ground floor for her mother Anita.

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Gina would like a range in her kitchen

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and a large enough garden to keep

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chickens and grow her own produce.

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We've scoured the property market

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and come up with a fine selection of Somerset homes

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to entice Gina and Claire,

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but they won't be furnished with the price until the end of our viewings.

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At our last contender, the Mystery House, we will see just how

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far Gina is willing to compromise on her home

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to get the land she's after.

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Your time is going to be busy, isn't it? Yeah! Yeah! It'll be lovely!

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Yeah.

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And do we think a local community is going to be important, Claire?

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Because you've made the move. Your macro yes.

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How quickly did you make friends by new moves to the country

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Well, actually, I think it's a lot easier in the country.

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If you make that effort and go halfway to meet people and

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join in things, then they really are very welcoming.

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-Jena seems a very sociable person.

-She'll be doing all sorts, Nicky,.

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She'll be on every committee, she'll be going to every type of class...

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Yes.

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There you go. Yes.

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The first property lined up for Gina and Claire is in the village

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of Pilton, in the north of the county.

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Situated on the edge of the Somerset levels,

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the pretty village is made up of attractive lanes flanked by

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rows of cottages built from locally quarried Middle Lias stone,

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with red clay double Roman roof tiles.

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Today, Pilton is probably most famous as the location for

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the Glastonbury music festival,

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which takes place on farmland just south of the village centre.

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Many of the proceeds from the festival are reinvested in local

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amenities and all the residents benefit from a free ticket.

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House number one is located on the edge of the popular village.

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So, our first property in Somerset!

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It's very nice. Very well-kept.

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It looks in very good condition, as if it doesn't need anything doing.

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-Ideal.

-Mm-hm.

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It looks as if there's going to be a fair amount of downstairs space.

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-Yeah. Lovely location.

-It looks in good condition.

-Beautiful views.

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-Yes!

-Oh, look at those views!

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-What a nice location.

-It's fantastic!

-Isn't it beautiful?

-Yeah.

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Very nice, yes.

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Is it a new-build?

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Built around 1950s.

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Quite a lot of work has been done to it,

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especially in the last 10 to 15 years.

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-It has been extended.

-Interesting, yes.

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-It sounds like first impressions of the house are pretty good, as well!

-Yeah.

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-Are you liking it as well, Claire?

-Yes, I am. I am.

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I like the look of it.

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-Excellent. Right, well, I think we should start, don't you?

-Definitely.

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-Yes.

-Come on, then.

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The current owners have lived in the property for nearly 20 years

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and added the wing to the left,

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which incorporates a garage with an additional bedroom above.

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The ground floor accommodation is arranged off

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a central hallway and includes a dining room,

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study area and a bedroom, that could work for mum Anita on one side.

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Then the kitchen and sitting room lie to the other.

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So let's start off with our sitting room.

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With access to the patio outside.

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The doors to the outside are nice and I like the fireplace.

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The fireplace is lovely.

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Nice having the double aspect with the doors and windows.

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Having access is lovely, especially if you've got a dog or the animals.

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-Yes!

-So perhaps not the largest of sitting rooms,

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but there are plenty of rooms with this property.

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Do you want to follow me? We'll go through to the kitchen.

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So the sitting room isn't that large,

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-but the kitchen is certainly bigger.

-Yeah.

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-Do you like it?

-It's nice having the patio doors out.

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-And it's nice to have room for the table.

-Yes.

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I do like the range cooker.

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-And you've got an additional hob as well.

-Yes.

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-There is a utility room around the corner.

-I see, yeah.

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And from here, along the hallway, you've got a separate dining room.

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And down a couple of stairs you've got another very small study,

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snug... So I'm thinking, for your mum,

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you could be in one part and she could be in the other.

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There's enough space.

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-So although the rooms aren't huge, you do have separate rooms.

-That's good, yeah.

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-That makes a big difference.

-Very good.

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And you're probably hoping that there is an additional room

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-downstairs that's going to suit Anita.

-Yes!

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Let's take a look at the bedroom.

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So that's Gin's living space covered.

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The potential bedroom for her mother is just across the hallway

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from the sitting room.

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So the all-important room for Anita.

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-That would be ideal for a bedroom.

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

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You also have a bathroom on the ground floor.

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So you've got a bath and you step in for a shower, as well.

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Mm, not ideal.

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OK. Now, we're going to show you houses that aren't going to be...

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-Oh, absolutely!

-..perfect.

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So that's something you're probably going to have to think about.

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Would that put you off buying a house?

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-Because that, for me, is a very small job.

-Yes.

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No, if everything else was right, no, it wouldn't.

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-Yeah. But, as space goes...

-Pretty good room.

-Yes, yes.

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And I think as long as you've got the downstairs bathroom,

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-you can always convert.

-Yeah.

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And Gina, it's just as important we find somewhere lovely for you

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as a bedroom.

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So let's go and take a look upstairs.

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As well as the downstairs bedroom, there are three further bedrooms

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upstairs, including two in the eaves in the older wing of the property.

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Both served by a small shower room.

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The bedroom I've earmarked for Gina is accessed by its own staircase

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from the ground floor study in the extended part of the house.

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This is the extension.

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So the staircase that we came up has this bedroom and

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-a really good family bathroom behind us.

-That's nice.

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And you're on your own - this is the wing, if you like.

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-That's good, isn't it?

-That's brilliant!

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You could have this as your little master suite or guest wing.

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-Absolutely.

-When the boys come on a separate bathroom.

-Yes.

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That's nice, isn't it?

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-Plenty of storage.

-Yes.

-And another nice view.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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What's the overall feeling for this property, girls?

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Um, for me, it's the character thing.

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Not necessarily old, but character.

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-Does this have enough character for you?

-No, I don't think so.

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-Right. Claire?

-I don't think it's quite Gina's era, if you like.

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-Yeah.

-A little too modern in some ways.

-Well, let's head back outside.

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Claire, if you wouldn't mind leading the way,

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we're going to discuss money.

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Right.

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Although we've got it right with the configuration of the rooms,

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I think Gina and Claire are struggling to appreciate the

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style of our 1950s property.

0:16:220:16:25

The gardens to the front and side are mainly lawn,

0:16:250:16:29

and there's a private patio area at the back of the kitchen.

0:16:290:16:32

But I'm conscious that Gina wanted to keep animals and grow her own produce.

0:16:320:16:36

Although there is probably space for a chicken run,

0:16:360:16:39

she'll be hard pushed to achieve self-sufficiently at this house.

0:16:390:16:42

-I was looking for a little bit more garden.

-Yeah.

-I'm not going to lie,

0:16:440:16:48

it's not huge.

0:16:480:16:50

However, if you did want to keep animals further down the line -

0:16:500:16:54

you wanted some rare pigs or perhaps a donkey - you can see those

0:16:540:16:58

-parcels of land or around.

-Yeah.

0:16:580:17:01

Farmers are always looking for people to rent it.

0:17:010:17:03

So that's not a problem.

0:17:030:17:05

-Let's see what we think of the price.

-OK.

0:17:050:17:08

How much do you think this is on the market for?

0:17:080:17:11

-Right, who's going first?

-You go first, Gina.

-OK. Um...

0:17:110:17:14

I think probably about 360.

0:17:140:17:18

Right. Claire?

0:17:180:17:21

I was going to say 365, because I think it's in

0:17:210:17:24

a fantastic location and it's a lovely house, actually.

0:17:240:17:27

I'm just not sure it's the right one for Gina.

0:17:270:17:30

Well, you're both remarkably close.

0:17:300:17:33

In fact one of you is on the money.

0:17:330:17:35

-Claire!

-Ah!

-Well done!

0:17:350:17:38

-The asking price is £365,000.

-Well done!

0:17:380:17:41

So why don't you take the opportunity to have a wander around on your own?

0:17:410:17:45

-Check out the side of the garden.

-Thank you, Nicki.

0:17:450:17:47

-Be my guest.

-Thank you.

0:17:470:17:49

Under budget by £10,000, this extended 1950s property gives

0:17:500:17:56

Gina much of what she asked for with a bit of money left over.

0:17:560:17:59

It has a kitchen with a range,

0:17:590:18:01

one more bedroom than she requested,

0:18:010:18:04

including a ground floor for Mum,

0:18:040:18:06

and little to do in the way of alterations.

0:18:060:18:09

It's on the edge of a sought-after village, but may lack the land

0:18:090:18:13

Gina is looking for.

0:18:130:18:15

I think the property is really nice.

0:18:150:18:17

The area is absolutely stunning.

0:18:170:18:20

For me, I think I need slightly more character in the property.

0:18:200:18:25

-This is a bit of a sun trap, isn't it?

-Oh, yes, it's lovely.

0:18:260:18:29

-Yeah, it's a nice little patio area.

-Yeah.

0:18:290:18:32

But I don't think it quite the big garden, is it?

0:18:320:18:36

THe location is fantastic - the views, the village.

0:18:360:18:40

We were a bit disappointed in the size of the garden, though.

0:18:400:18:42

For Gina, that is one of her real must-haves.

0:18:420:18:45

So overall, I think it's a beautiful property,

0:18:450:18:47

but I don't think it's the one for Gina.

0:18:470:18:50

-Have we seen enough, ladies?

-Yes, thank you.

0:18:500:18:53

-That's our first house done, more to show you.

-Lovely. Thank you.

0:18:530:18:56

Situated in the rolling Somerset landscape of the Blackdown Hills

0:19:020:19:06

is the Ferne Animal Sanctuary, which has been providing

0:19:060:19:09

refuge for unwanted animals since the Second World War.

0:19:090:19:13

As a charity, it relies entirely on donations

0:19:130:19:16

and members of the public to help look after its 300 or so residents.

0:19:160:19:20

Gina's passion for animals is clear, but she's also expressed

0:19:210:19:25

an interest in volunteering when she moves,

0:19:250:19:28

so we have arranged for her and Claire to visit the shelter

0:19:280:19:31

where they are meeting director, Jenny Wheadon.

0:19:310:19:33

-Welcome to Ferne Animal Sanctuary.

-Thank you, Jenny.

0:19:330:19:36

Thank you very much for having us here today. It really is a beautiful place.

0:19:360:19:39

So how did it all start, Jenny?

0:19:390:19:41

There's a lovely story behind the beginnings of the sanctuary,

0:19:410:19:44

actually. Back at the beginning of the Second World War,

0:19:440:19:46

there was a lady called Nina, who was the Duchess of Hamilton.

0:19:460:19:49

She recognised that there were men and women going off to fight

0:19:490:19:52

for their country who wouldn't have anyone to look after their pets

0:19:520:19:55

and she went to the BBC and asked if she could use the medium of radio

0:19:550:19:59

to broadcast that to the nation.

0:19:590:20:00

And legend has it that by the time she got back to her London home,

0:20:000:20:03

there were 40 cats and dogs and a parrot waiting for her!

0:20:030:20:06

So you can imagine that was a huge task for her to look after.

0:20:060:20:09

And she shipped them all down to her country estate,

0:20:090:20:12

which was near Shaftesbury in Dorset

0:20:120:20:14

and was called Ferne, hence the name.

0:20:140:20:16

-Hence the name, yeah.

-And, of course, at the end of the war,

0:20:160:20:18

many of the owners didn't return so that was how the sanctuary started,

0:20:180:20:21

when she's tried to find permanent homes for all the animals

0:20:210:20:24

that she had collected through the war.

0:20:240:20:26

So, Jenny, you say the site used to be in Dorset and they moved here.

0:20:260:20:30

Yes, after the Duchess died, the estate was wound up and the

0:20:300:20:34

sanctuary relocated to this site in Somerset, just over the border.

0:20:340:20:38

How many animals have you got here?

0:20:380:20:41

Well, we have around 300 animals here at any one time.

0:20:410:20:44

All various species

0:20:440:20:45

from horses, donkeys, cattle, sheep, pigs,

0:20:450:20:48

goats, cats and dogs, and all the small furry pets as well.

0:20:480:20:52

300 animals may sound a lot, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

0:20:520:20:56

Every year, over 7.5 million arrive at animal shelters across the UK.

0:20:560:21:01

The vast majority, cats and dogs

0:21:010:21:03

either abandoned by their owners or found roaming Britain's streets.

0:21:030:21:08

As well as providing refuge, the Somerset sanctuary

0:21:080:21:11

tries to find loving new homes for as many of its animals as possible.

0:21:110:21:15

Some horses and ponies are available for permanent loan.

0:21:150:21:19

Gina used to ride herself

0:21:190:21:21

and she is keen to meet one of the shelter's new arrivals.

0:21:210:21:24

So, Gina and Claire, this is our latest resident, as yet unnamed.

0:21:240:21:28

-Oh!

-Oh!

0:21:280:21:30

-How gorgeous.

-She's just two weeks old today.

0:21:300:21:34

Aw, so what's Mum's story? How did she get rescued?

0:21:340:21:37

Well, the mum is called Sydney and she had been abandoned

0:21:370:21:40

with 14 other ponies, in spite of the fact that she was pregnant.

0:21:400:21:44

And she came here and very soon delivered her baby.

0:21:440:21:47

-So will the foal be adopted?

-Hopefully, when she's old enough.

0:21:470:21:51

And Mum as well.

0:21:510:21:52

It would be lovely if the two of them could go together.

0:21:520:21:55

-Look at that foal.

-Look at that little foal. It is gorgeous.

0:21:550:21:59

Charities like the Ferne Animal Sanctuary could not function

0:21:590:22:03

without the help of volunteers.

0:22:030:22:05

Around 150 of them work across the 51-acre site,

0:22:050:22:09

including current volunteer Bernie

0:22:090:22:12

and her two companions, Molly and Rosie.

0:22:120:22:15

I'll leave you in Bernie's capable hands.

0:22:150:22:17

-It's been lovely meeting you both.

-Thank you very much.

0:22:170:22:19

-Thank you, Jenny.

-Bye-bye.

-Thank you.

-Bye-bye.

-Bye-bye.

-Hello!

0:22:190:22:22

Dogs and cats are available for re-homing within a 40 mile

0:22:220:22:25

radius of the shelter.

0:22:250:22:27

With up to 250 dogs waiting to be adopted,

0:22:270:22:29

one of the tasks is to help exercise and socialise these animals.

0:22:290:22:34

So, Bernie, how long have you worked here?

0:22:340:22:36

Well, I've volunteered here for the past two years.

0:22:360:22:39

-I started when I retired from work.

-Oh, what a nice thing to do.

0:22:390:22:43

-Yeah, it is.

-What made you decide to do that?

0:22:430:22:46

Well, I retired and I wanted to do something voluntary

0:22:460:22:49

and I had worked all my life with children

0:22:490:22:51

-so I decided I'd rather work with animals for a change!

-Yeah!

0:22:510:22:54

Is it sort of a nine-to-five job, you have to be available all day?

0:22:540:22:57

No. Really, the volunteer is in charge of the hours they work

0:22:570:23:00

or the days and you can help on a regular basis.

0:23:000:23:03

I work in the cattery, for example.

0:23:030:23:05

You can walk dogs, you can help in the office or in our charity shops,

0:23:050:23:09

because, obviously, fundraising is a major thing that we do.

0:23:090:23:12

So all that kind of fundraising activity, shops,

0:23:120:23:15

they all need people to help.

0:23:150:23:17

The Somerset countryside is not only a haven for animals, but could

0:23:170:23:21

also offer Gina sanctuary to pursue her hobbies.

0:23:210:23:25

We now need to find our buyer some territory of her own,

0:23:250:23:28

and with that in mind it's back to the house hunt.

0:23:280:23:30

For our next offering, we're heading to the hamlet of Parbrook,

0:23:340:23:37

which is just a few miles from Baltonsborough.

0:23:370:23:40

Here there are basic amenities,

0:23:400:23:42

including a public house and a large village hall,

0:23:420:23:44

hosting a range of events and clubs for the local community.

0:23:440:23:48

Back in Parbrook,

0:23:480:23:49

the house we are viewing is in the middle of the hamlet,

0:23:490:23:52

where there is an array of pretty stone cottages, which will

0:23:520:23:55

hopefully provide Gina with the kind of character she is after.

0:23:550:23:59

So let me show you our next property.

0:23:590:24:03

Is very nice, isn't it?

0:24:030:24:05

It's a Victorian property, so dates back to the 1870s.

0:24:050:24:08

-I like the look of it.

-I do, as well.

0:24:080:24:11

-Do you to know where we are within Somerset?

-No.

-No.

-No idea, really.

0:24:110:24:14

We're about six miles from Glastonbury

0:24:140:24:17

-and about seven miles from Wells.

-Right, OK.

0:24:170:24:20

There is a village three miles away that has everything you need day-to-day,

0:24:200:24:23

but we're actually in Parbrook, and it is a hamlet, so there

0:24:230:24:27

aren't any amenities, just, as you can see, some wonderful properties.

0:24:270:24:30

-Yes.

-Mm.

-Very pretty.

-Very pretty.

0:24:300:24:32

I'm glad you're loving the outside. Hopefully, you're going to be just as impressed with what's inside.

0:24:320:24:38

-Shall we?

-Yes, let's!

-Yes, please.

0:24:380:24:41

The former farm cottage is actually semidetached,

0:24:410:24:44

although from this angle it's hard to tell.

0:24:440:24:47

At the front there's a single garage, handy for storage,

0:24:470:24:50

which sits in front of an L-shaped cottage.

0:24:500:24:53

The house is a two-storey building attached to

0:24:530:24:55

a single-storey extension built seven years ago,

0:24:550:24:58

which is where we're starting our tour.

0:24:580:25:01

Come on in, ladies. I'm going to start off with Mum.

0:25:010:25:04

-We're actually thinking downstairs bedroom.

-Oh, right, yes!

-Yes?

0:25:040:25:10

-Yes, it should make a bedroom, wouldn't it?

-Yeah.

-I like the beans.

0:25:100:25:13

-A feeling of space, with the beans.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:25:130:25:16

And then just off the hallway is a downstairs toilet.

0:25:160:25:19

-Oh!

-So that you could extend all the way along to this wall,

0:25:190:25:23

to make it a downstairs shower room.

0:25:230:25:26

So you've got the plumbing already,

0:25:260:25:27

but you wanted a little bit of character.

0:25:270:25:29

-Yeah, we've certainly got that, haven't we.

-Definitely.

0:25:290:25:32

So this could be for Mum.

0:25:320:25:34

-Let's see what you make of the rest of the downstairs.

-Yes.

0:25:340:25:37

There is a small step. You've got your dining room here,

0:25:390:25:42

-and then you've got an L-shaped kitchen.

-Quite a good size.

0:25:420:25:47

The size is workable, isn't it? Because you've got a table there.

0:25:470:25:52

It's very nice.

0:25:520:25:54

I'd say I don't think the style of the units is exactly your style,

0:25:540:25:58

but that's irrelevant, really, isn't it?

0:25:580:26:00

Because it's a good shape.

0:26:000:26:02

-Could you work with this?

-I could work with it. Absolutely, yes.

0:26:020:26:06

And next door to this you've got your sitting room just through here.

0:26:060:26:14

-Oh, this is a pretty little room, isn't it?

-It's very nice. I like it.

0:26:140:26:18

Very, very nice, yeah. Nice features.

0:26:180:26:21

-Big window looking at all, hopefully, your garden!

-I hope!

0:26:210:26:24

-That is - that's the good news!

-There is a garden.

0:26:240:26:27

-You two are instantly animated walking into this room.

-Yes.

0:26:270:26:32

-First time.

-I like it!

-I could tell.

0:26:320:26:34

It's got a nice feel to it.

0:26:340:26:36

It has. It has, it has.

0:26:360:26:39

-Could you see yourself here with your mum?

-Yes.

0:26:390:26:41

Oh, yes, I can see her in here, yes.

0:26:410:26:45

-Would you change anything in this room, do you think?

-No, it's fine.

0:26:450:26:49

I'll be asking you upstairs. Let's have a look.

0:26:490:26:51

So both our ladies seem happy with what the downstairs house to offer,

0:26:530:26:57

although Gina may need to make a few alterations to make it work

0:26:570:27:00

for her and her mother.

0:27:000:27:02

Upstairs is a little smaller,

0:27:020:27:04

not benefiting from the ground floor extension,

0:27:040:27:06

but does have a bath and shower room and three good-sized

0:27:060:27:10

neutrally decorated double bedrooms, including a master.

0:27:100:27:13

-It's a nice shape, isn't it?

-Not a bad size, is it?

-No, not at all.

0:27:130:27:17

Nice light room.

0:27:170:27:19

I like it.

0:27:190:27:20

-It's not wowing you, is it?

-Um...

0:27:200:27:22

It's just because I think I would change certain things.

0:27:220:27:26

-It's probably about feeling, isn't it?

-It is.

0:27:260:27:28

And whilst I've got a feeling it's a nice house,

0:27:280:27:30

I'm not exactly getting that 100% feeling for myself

0:27:300:27:35

Well, there are three important elements to this move -

0:27:350:27:38

getting it right for Anita, your mum,

0:27:380:27:40

getting you the right property, but also finding you the right garden.

0:27:400:27:43

-Yes.

-So let's look at the final part of the jigsaw.

-Yes, thank you.

0:27:430:27:47

Although she is quite hard to read, I can't help but think Gina

0:27:470:27:51

was expecting a bit more from this house.

0:27:510:27:53

Hopefully, the garden will impress,

0:27:530:27:56

as it gives her space to grow her own vegetables

0:27:560:27:58

and maybe even keep an animal or two.

0:27:580:28:01

The garden is ideal.

0:28:010:28:03

It's a nice shape, enclosed, private, chickens up the corner.

0:28:030:28:07

I couldn't have put it better myself!

0:28:070:28:10

It's really nice.

0:28:100:28:11

-Do you like it, Claire?

-I love the garden, yes. I think it's perfect.

0:28:110:28:14

-Yeah.

-So, ladies, what are we thinking?

0:28:140:28:16

Can we put a price on this property?

0:28:160:28:18

I'm thinking maybe 345.

0:28:180:28:20

-OK. Gina?

-Um...

0:28:200:28:23

It is difficult... And it is a guess, and I'll say 350.

0:28:240:28:28

-You two are so good at this, in a healthy way.

-No!

0:28:280:28:33

Because the asking price is £350,000.

0:28:330:28:37

-So you're only five out.

-We've got one each now!

0:28:370:28:40

You're doing very well but in all seriousness,

0:28:400:28:42

-it means you've got £25,000 left.

-Yes, of course.

0:28:420:28:46

If you wanted to change anything.

0:28:460:28:48

So, knowing the price, does that change anything?

0:28:480:28:52

-Um... No, I don't think so.

-OK.

0:28:520:28:55

No, I think it's still about the feel.

0:28:550:28:57

And I do like it very much,

0:28:570:28:59

but I'm just not getting that absolute feel at the moment.

0:28:590:29:02

Not straightaway. Fair enough. Well, go back in,

0:29:020:29:04

get reacquainted with it and then give me a shout when you're ready.

0:29:040:29:08

-Thank you.

-Thank you, Nicki.

0:29:080:29:10

Under budget by £25,000, this extended former farm worker's

0:29:100:29:15

cottage gives Gina the character she was after.

0:29:150:29:18

For her mother,

0:29:180:29:19

there's a sizeable bedroom downstairs and three upstairs.

0:29:190:29:23

Although the practical kitchen isn't to her taste, there would be

0:29:230:29:26

capital left over to remodel and perhaps even install a range.

0:29:260:29:31

It has a pretty, large garden and is set in a peaceful hamlet.

0:29:310:29:35

I really like this property. Maybe I like it a little bit more than Gina.

0:29:350:29:40

Gina likes it, but I'm not sure she loves it.

0:29:400:29:43

I'm not sure that even having a spare bit of money

0:29:430:29:46

will persuade Gina that she wants to go through the work of changing the

0:29:460:29:51

content of the kitchen and putting in a shower room downstairs.

0:29:510:29:54

Let's have a look in here.

0:29:540:29:57

-Another bedroom!

-Yeah.

-Probably a guest bedroom.

0:29:570:30:01

Another nice room.

0:30:010:30:03

Yes, this would make a good room for your best friend to stay in!

0:30:030:30:06

-Oh, it would, wouldn't it, yeah!

-I think so.

0:30:060:30:09

My heart, I suppose, is about feeling,

0:30:090:30:12

and my head is the practicalities.

0:30:120:30:15

And I'm trying, really, to be very practical about it,

0:30:150:30:18

because it's not just me to consider.

0:30:180:30:21

Gina is looking for something that she will fall in love with,

0:30:210:30:24

but it has got to also have all the right components.

0:30:240:30:27

Whether that exists, let's hope it does.

0:30:270:30:30

But I'm not sure this is the one.

0:30:300:30:32

-Well, we've had a good day to day, haven't we?

-We have.

-Very good.

0:30:320:30:36

This is a beautiful spot. I'm not quite sure if we've cracked it,

0:30:360:30:39

but the good news is we've got more to show you tomorrow.

0:30:390:30:41

-Look forward to that.

-Thank you.

0:30:410:30:43

It's the second day of our Somerset house hunt with Gina,

0:30:520:30:55

who is accompanied by her friend Claire.

0:30:550:30:58

On a £375,000 budget,

0:30:580:31:00

Gina wants a country home

0:31:000:31:01

which suits both her and her elderly mother too.

0:31:010:31:04

Still to come, the Mystery House reveals its surprise.

0:31:040:31:08

-Well, I can see why it is the Mystery House.

-Yes.

0:31:080:31:10

-It's just gorgeous, isn't it?

-It really is lovely.

0:31:100:31:12

And I meet the green-fingered fashion guru

0:31:120:31:15

whose colourful garden is setting a trend.

0:31:150:31:18

All I could see was lines of corporation roses - orange, yellow,

0:31:180:31:21

pink, orange, yellow, pink.

0:31:210:31:23

So I thought, "Well, they've got to go."

0:31:230:31:26

Yesterday was a beautiful day weather-wise, but little gloomy

0:31:270:31:32

on the property front, so today, I am hoping for some role reversal.

0:31:320:31:37

Now, this search hasn't been easy.

0:31:370:31:38

Trying to find that characterful home with a large garden

0:31:380:31:43

that marries up both Gina and her mum Anita's requirements

0:31:430:31:47

with very little adjustments.

0:31:470:31:49

So what I'm showing them today, well, I hope it's going to give Gina

0:31:490:31:52

that feeling that she so craves.

0:31:520:31:54

The next home we're showing Gina is in the village of Burtle,

0:31:560:31:59

around nine miles inland from the coast.

0:31:590:32:01

Nearby Wedmore is a larger village situated on a ridge of land

0:32:020:32:06

rising out from the Somerset Levels.

0:32:060:32:09

A prosperous focal point for the area,

0:32:090:32:11

its amenities include a range of independent shops, cafes and pubs.

0:32:110:32:15

Wedmore is steeped in history.

0:32:160:32:18

In Saxon times, it was under the control of the Kings of Wessex

0:32:180:32:22

and in 878 AD, King Alfred the Great

0:32:220:32:25

declared peace with the Danes nearby.

0:32:250:32:28

Today, its architecture gives the village a real charm

0:32:280:32:31

which shines through whatever the weather.

0:32:310:32:34

From late-Georgian townhouses...

0:32:340:32:37

to an example built in the Italianate style.

0:32:370:32:41

Just south of Wedmore is the smaller village of Burtle,

0:32:410:32:44

where our next house is located.

0:32:440:32:46

Right, it might be raining, but it's not going to deter us

0:32:460:32:49

because this is our next property.

0:32:490:32:52

-Oh, wow.

-Oh, I like this.

-Oh, wow.

0:32:520:32:55

-This is lovely.

-I'm liking it too well, even in the rain.

0:32:550:32:59

-Is that the whole house?

-It's the whole house.

-The whole house!

0:32:590:33:02

-Oh, look at the door.

-Is this an extension?

-Yep.

0:33:020:33:06

The original part was 19th century.

0:33:060:33:08

One extension was done in the 1970s

0:33:080:33:10

and the other was done in the 1990s, so pretty substantial.

0:33:100:33:14

It looks fabulous.

0:33:140:33:16

-So, because of the rain, let's head straight inside, yeah?

-Please.

0:33:160:33:20

Despite the downpour, there are upbeat reactions from both Gina

0:33:200:33:23

and Claire to this detached country cottage.

0:33:230:33:26

We are bypassing the porch and using the French doors, going

0:33:260:33:29

through a lobby to reveal one of the reception rooms in the property.

0:33:290:33:33

The good news is it's nice and dry in here, ladies.

0:33:330:33:36

-Ooh! Very nice.

-I like it.

-Look behind you, Gina.

0:33:370:33:42

-Oh, that's beautiful.

-Going to keep you toasty in the winter, isn't it?

0:33:420:33:46

-Actually could do with it today.

-Yes. Absolutely.

-And this, I like this.

0:33:460:33:50

That's beautiful.

0:33:500:33:52

Now, the current owners have done an awful lot of work on this property.

0:33:520:33:55

Where they have,

0:33:550:33:57

they've tried to take it back to how it perhaps looked 150, 200 years ago.

0:33:570:34:01

-They've used as much as they can.

-Absolutely.

0:34:010:34:03

It's a beautiful bressummer beam there, isn't it?

0:34:030:34:06

-It certainly is.

-Lovely.

0:34:060:34:08

-I'm just getting that good feeling at the moment. Definitely.

-Yeah.

0:34:080:34:12

-Yeah, it's looking good. I like it.

-Do you like the beams?

-Yes.

0:34:120:34:16

-It's a lovely room.

-Yeah?

-So, this is a wooden floor?

0:34:160:34:19

-This is reclaimed parquet flooring.

-Oh, OK.

0:34:190:34:22

-You mentioned character and charm. Are you feeling that?

-Yes, yes.

0:34:220:34:27

-Bucketfuls, I think.

-Yes, it's lovely.

0:34:270:34:30

Early days, but could you see Gina here so far?

0:34:300:34:33

This is a Gina house. So far, yes. So far, so good.

0:34:330:34:37

We will continue the Gina tour then, shall we?

0:34:370:34:40

Well, Claire clearly thinks this house works for her friend,

0:34:420:34:45

but knowing how important the feel of the place is for Gina,

0:34:450:34:48

I'm hoping the kitchen gives her the same sense.

0:34:480:34:52

-Love it.

-It's not massive but it's gorgeous.

-Love it.

-Fabulous cooker.

0:34:520:34:56

-You are beginning to go, aren't you?

-Yeah, she is.

-Yep.

-Aww.

0:34:560:35:02

Oh, wow, that's amazing. I love the wooden worktops.

0:35:020:35:07

Look at the floor.

0:35:070:35:08

-You've actually got underfloor heating. It's electric.

-Oh, OK.

0:35:080:35:11

-Great, that's really good with these type of tiles.

-Yeah.

0:35:110:35:14

-So it's not cold on your feet first thing in the morning.

-No.

0:35:140:35:17

-And if you've got a cat, they're going to love it.

-I've got two.

0:35:170:35:22

So far, it is working for me, yeah.

0:35:220:35:24

-It's working, isn't it?

-It is.

-Look at the smile.

-I saw...

0:35:240:35:28

Claire, I saw a little moist eye earlier on.

0:35:280:35:31

-This is just so Gina, it's lovely.

-It's lovely.

0:35:310:35:34

-Beautiful, I love it too.

-The dream is a step closer.

-Yes.

0:35:340:35:38

OK, well, still one more thing to show you on this level,

0:35:380:35:40

and also to mention there is a utility room.

0:35:400:35:43

Because the house has been extended,

0:35:430:35:45

they couldn't put the utility room on this side,

0:35:450:35:47

they've actually put on the other,

0:35:470:35:48

-but you've got additional storage space, washer and dryer, room for that.

-OK.

0:35:480:35:53

Right, let's see what you make of the final thing on the ground floor.

0:35:530:35:56

So, with both ladies falling for our country cottage,

0:35:580:36:01

we just need to deal with mum Anita's living space and I've set

0:36:010:36:05

aside the second reception room as her downstairs bedroom.

0:36:050:36:09

Now, we can't forget Anita, can we?

0:36:090:36:12

-Gasp!

-All-important Mummy.

0:36:120:36:14

-I don't believe this, it just gets better.

-Oh, I don't believe it!

0:36:140:36:18

That is amazing.

0:36:180:36:21

-Look at that stone fireplace.

-It's beautiful.

0:36:210:36:23

-Lovely and light and bright.

-This is the way I actually brought you in.

0:36:230:36:27

There's two entrances to the cottage.

0:36:270:36:29

This one is a little bit wider, so perhaps if ever your mum did

0:36:290:36:32

need a wheelchair or easier access, you could bring her straight in here.

0:36:320:36:35

You've got this wonderful room which seems like a day room

0:36:350:36:39

-rather than a bedroom.

-Yes.

0:36:390:36:41

Potentially, if you wanted to change things around a little bit,

0:36:410:36:43

-you've got your utility room next-door.

-Oh, right.

0:36:430:36:47

You can make that into a bathroom.

0:36:470:36:48

-I think we could do that.

-Yes!

0:36:480:36:50

-I'm happy, Claire.

-Suddenly...

-I'm happy.

-A bit easier to do that.

0:36:510:36:54

I might have sulked if she said no.

0:36:540:36:57

You might be wondering about the staircase. So, this is the extension.

0:36:570:37:01

Upstairs, you've got a really large, generous double bedroom.

0:37:010:37:04

Next to that, you've got the family bathroom,

0:37:040:37:07

single bedroom with walk-in wardrobes.

0:37:070:37:10

-But there's another staircase with further bedrooms.

-Goodness.

-Right.

0:37:100:37:14

As well as the two upstairs bedrooms in this wing of the property,

0:37:140:37:18

there are two more in the older part.

0:37:180:37:20

Both bedrooms are served by a beautiful family bathroom.

0:37:200:37:24

One could make an excellent guest room for

0:37:240:37:26

when Claire comes to stay and the other, Gina's master.

0:37:260:37:30

-It is lovely room, another lovely room.

-Absolutely.

0:37:300:37:33

-It's just hitting the spot, I think.

-I love it.

0:37:330:37:37

Yeah? Getting a big thumbs-up?

0:37:370:37:40

Yes, definitely. Couldn't be better. I hate to think what it costs.

0:37:400:37:43

Well, we are going to have to touch on that.

0:37:430:37:45

It doesn't look as if it's raining quite as much as earlier on, but

0:37:450:37:48

the garden is so beautiful, I think it's worth getting a little bit damp.

0:37:480:37:52

-Definitely.

-Absolutely.

-Let's take a look.

0:37:520:37:54

The enclosed garden is south-facing and laid to lawn

0:37:550:37:58

with a paved patio area at the front of the house.

0:37:580:38:01

The level land provides space to keep animals

0:38:010:38:04

and there's easily room for a greenhouse or vegetable patch.

0:38:040:38:07

-Now you can see the garden in all its splendour.

-It's really lovely.

0:38:080:38:13

It's a lovely garden. Lots of nooks and crannies.

0:38:130:38:15

Shrubs and trees, just what I wanted. And I even see chickens

0:38:150:38:20

-and a chicken run.

-Yes.

0:38:200:38:21

You can negotiate, actually, keeping those on.

0:38:210:38:24

But, what do we think about the price?

0:38:240:38:27

I think it's over my budget.

0:38:270:38:29

I think I'm going to go for 385.

0:38:290:38:33

£385,000.

0:38:330:38:35

That's exactly what I was going to say.

0:38:350:38:37

I do think that and hope they take an offer.

0:38:370:38:40

I like that, the optimism.

0:38:400:38:42

-So, you both think £10,000 over the your top budget?

-Yes.

0:38:420:38:46

The asking price is...

0:38:460:38:48

£359,950.

0:38:480:38:52

-No!

-15,000 under your budget.

-Oh, my goodness.

0:38:520:38:57

-I don't believe that. Do you?

-Oh, I'm so excited about it.

0:38:570:39:00

Should we do a rain dance?

0:39:000:39:02

THEY LAUGH

0:39:020:39:04

So why don't you go back in the warm?

0:39:040:39:06

Have a look at the garden through that window at the top

0:39:060:39:08

and all catch up with you when you're ready.

0:39:080:39:10

-BOTH:

-Thank you.

0:39:100:39:11

The price of this extended country cottage comes as a nice surprise,

0:39:130:39:17

as it's £15,000 under budget.

0:39:170:39:20

Dating back to the 19th century,

0:39:200:39:22

it's been recently remodelled

0:39:220:39:24

and includes

0:39:240:39:25

a farmhouse-style kitchen,

0:39:250:39:27

two large reception rooms,

0:39:270:39:28

one of which could be turned

0:39:280:39:30

into a bedroom,

0:39:300:39:31

and four further bedrooms upstairs.

0:39:310:39:33

The south-facing plot provides

0:39:330:39:35

ample garden space for animals

0:39:350:39:37

and vegetables.

0:39:370:39:38

I definitely got the feeling with this property from the moment

0:39:380:39:42

we actually came through the gate and saw it and saw the garden.

0:39:420:39:46

And it continued when I walked in through the rooms.

0:39:460:39:50

It's about a feeling and I definitely got it, yeah.

0:39:500:39:53

-What have we got here, Gina?

-Oh... This is a nice room, isn't it?

0:39:530:39:57

-It's a lovely bedroom. Pretty, all done, nothing to do.

-No, no.

0:39:570:40:01

So what do you think you'd do with this room?

0:40:010:40:04

-Well, I'm not sure a moment. It could be a spare room.

-Yeah.

0:40:040:40:07

-It could be my room.

-Yeah.

-I'm not sure.

0:40:070:40:09

I really like this property,

0:40:090:40:11

and I know Gina does, obviously.

0:40:110:40:13

It's fantastic. It really couldn't be any better.

0:40:130:40:16

I just think it's made for her.

0:40:160:40:17

It's her style, it's got the character,

0:40:170:40:20

it's got the wood burner.

0:40:200:40:22

And it's perfect for her mum as well.

0:40:220:40:24

-Now, that was a good house tour, wasn't it?

-Certainly was.

0:40:260:40:29

Your faces say it all. Let's go.

0:40:290:40:32

One last house to see and it's really got our two ladies thinking.

0:40:380:40:42

Any idea how much we're going to challenge you with our Mystery House?

0:40:420:40:46

I don't know, really,

0:40:460:40:48

because I'm not sure on what front you're going to challenge me.

0:40:480:40:51

I'm hoping it' not a really full of character doer-upper that Gina

0:40:510:40:56

will fall in love with.

0:40:560:40:57

Yes, because that's how my other properties have been, yeah.

0:40:570:41:01

And that would be just awful, I think,

0:41:010:41:04

because her heart would be, like, going two ways.

0:41:040:41:07

Yeah.

0:41:070:41:08

And what do you think, Gina?

0:41:080:41:09

Well, um...open plan,

0:41:090:41:13

contemporary, church or barn conversion...

0:41:130:41:18

I hope it's not something with a communal garden.

0:41:180:41:20

Oh, gosh! I don't think that would suit you.

0:41:200:41:24

For our final house, we're hopping over the border into Devon

0:41:240:41:28

and travelling to the hamlet of Staple Cross.

0:41:280:41:31

Two miles away is Holcombe Rogus, which was a centre of chair-making

0:41:310:41:35

for 400 years until the last artisan shop closed in 1919.

0:41:350:41:40

The village's most notable landmark

0:41:400:41:42

is the privately-owned Holcombe Court,

0:41:420:41:44

one of the finest Tudor houses in England.

0:41:440:41:47

There's also a thriving pub

0:41:470:41:49

and a garage which doubles up as a post office.

0:41:490:41:52

There's an interesting mix of architecture with many houses

0:41:520:41:55

built from cob or stone dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

0:41:550:41:59

And the 500-strong community is served by a freshwater spring.

0:41:590:42:03

Our Mystery House is in the smaller settlement of Staple Cross.

0:42:030:42:08

By venturing into Devon, we are

0:42:080:42:09

lengthening Gina's journey time back to Bristol, but we are

0:42:090:42:12

going on a charm offensive, plus there is a surprise in store.

0:42:120:42:16

So...

0:42:160:42:18

Our final property, of course, is your Mystery House.

0:42:180:42:24

-It's cute, isn't it?

-Very sweet. Very cute, yes.

0:42:240:42:27

I think it's going to be full of character, hopefully.

0:42:270:42:30

So we've had a little bit of a drive, not too far, to get here.

0:42:300:42:34

Any idea why we brought you here, why this is our Mystery House?

0:42:340:42:37

No, not a clue at the moment.

0:42:370:42:39

Is it because we are no longer in Somerset?

0:42:390:42:41

On the money. Totally. We are only half a mile across the border.

0:42:410:42:45

-Not far, but we are actually in Devon.

-OK.

0:42:450:42:48

And this property is very different because it's part of a terrace.

0:42:480:42:52

It dates back to the 17th century.

0:42:520:42:54

It was actually the stables for the horses that worked for the pub.

0:42:540:42:59

-Right, OK.

-And I think it was in the 1970s it was converted into a house.

0:42:590:43:04

-Hopefully you are going to get the character that you are after.

-OK.

0:43:040:43:07

-Yeah?

-Yeah!

-Let's start.

0:43:070:43:10

Although it looks small from the front, the cottage has been extended

0:43:100:43:14

to the rear, offering deceptively spacious accommodation inside.

0:43:140:43:18

-So, off the hallway we have our sitting room.

-This is a nice room.

0:43:180:43:23

-This is very cosy, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:43:230:43:24

-A nice inglenook fireplace with a wood burner.

-It oozes character.

0:43:240:43:29

It does ooze character.

0:43:290:43:30

I thought it was going to be really quite small but it goes back,

0:43:300:43:33

-doesn't it?

-It is a warm, very friendly property.

0:43:330:43:37

And it does keep giving and giving as you are going to see.

0:43:370:43:40

So, you have a beautiful dining room which leads out onto the patio area.

0:43:440:43:49

Then next-door...we have our kitchen.

0:43:520:43:54

That's nice, isn't it?

0:43:540:43:56

Very characterful. And a range cooker which is on my wish list.

0:43:560:44:01

-And this is a kind of an L shape, is it?

-Yes.

0:44:010:44:04

So going down the little alleyway here,

0:44:040:44:06

you have a larder at the back, a little area and you also

0:44:060:44:10

have got a door which leads into a downstairs toilet and a utility room.

0:44:100:44:13

-Oh, OK.

-I really like it.

-Mm.

0:44:130:44:15

Would you change anything in here?

0:44:150:44:18

Um, I don't think so, no.

0:44:180:44:20

Mystery House is working so far.

0:44:220:44:23

But, of course, there's another person we'd like to keep happy,

0:44:230:44:27

-so were going to go back through the dining room.

-OK.

0:44:270:44:30

It seems that Gina and Claire

0:44:310:44:33

are both captivated by the charms of this mystery cottage.

0:44:330:44:36

The downstairs room we've set aside for Gina's mum is currently

0:44:360:44:40

being used as a study.

0:44:400:44:41

I know it's tight, but I'm hoping it could accommodate her needs.

0:44:410:44:46

-It's a sweet room.

-Yeah.

-It's not very big, though, is it?

0:44:460:44:50

I'm sure you could get a double bed in, but whether that would leave enough room...

0:44:500:44:53

-You could definitely get a double bed....

-Yes, you can.

0:44:530:44:56

-..but you wouldn't get an awful lot of access inside.

-No, no.

0:44:560:45:00

-True.

-But at the end of the day...

-It's a sweet little bedroom.

-Yeah.

0:45:000:45:05

Upstairs, the historic tone continues.

0:45:060:45:09

There are three bedrooms in total, all good-sized doubles

0:45:090:45:12

and a family bathroom with corner bath.

0:45:120:45:15

So, here is just one of the three bedrooms.

0:45:160:45:21

Oh, isn't that sweet.

0:45:210:45:23

-This is lovely.

-Isn't it lovely?

-I love the beams.

-That's beautiful.

0:45:230:45:27

It has been beautifully done, hasn't it?

0:45:270:45:29

Oh, I really like this room, yeah.

0:45:290:45:31

-It looks very nice.

-Is that a cupboard there?

0:45:310:45:34

-That is a really good size en suite. Shall we?

-En suite?!

-Yep.

0:45:340:45:39

-This is...

-This is your room.

-Yes.

0:45:390:45:42

This is bigger than what you imagine, isn't it, from the outside.

0:45:420:45:46

-This is a lovely room.

-It's a lovely room.

0:45:460:45:48

I mean, when you first see the cottage,

0:45:480:45:50

you think perhaps a generous two up, two down, don't you?

0:45:500:45:53

-You do really, yes.

-And you step in and in actual fact,

0:45:530:45:55

what we are looking at is a family home.

0:45:550:45:57

-Absolutely.

-Yes, it's lovely.

-And that's quite a surprise, isn't it?

0:45:570:46:01

If you'd like to follow me,

0:46:010:46:03

I've still got something else up my sleeve to show you.

0:46:030:46:05

Ooh!

0:46:050:46:06

The surprise I mentioned earlier is outside

0:46:070:46:10

and it's not the fully enclosed courtyard garden with steps

0:46:100:46:13

leading up to the landscape raised lawn area.

0:46:130:46:16

The space I want to show Gina

0:46:160:46:18

and Claire is further along the lane from the house.

0:46:180:46:21

It's a private woodland garden offering Gina the chance to

0:46:210:46:24

fulfil her dreams of self-sufficiency.

0:46:240:46:26

-All right?

-Think so.

0:46:280:46:30

The mystery continues up here.

0:46:300:46:34

-This is your land.

-No!

-Yes.

0:46:340:46:37

-That is amazing!

-0.8 of an acre.

0:46:370:46:41

There is a vegetable patch just there.

0:46:410:46:43

Some of it is laid to lawn but you've got your own woodland.

0:46:430:46:46

-Look at the trees!

-THEY LAUGH WITH DELIGHT

0:46:460:46:49

-I'm speechless!

-You could keep a pig in here.

0:46:490:46:52

It would clear it for you.

0:46:520:46:53

-You could, if you wanted to keep animals here.

-It's lovely.

0:46:530:46:57

So, this is the final part of the Mystery House.

0:46:570:46:59

Well, it is a mystery, yeah!

0:46:590:47:01

Has it been worth crossing the border into Devon?

0:47:010:47:03

-It's lovely, really lovely.

-Certainly has.

0:47:030:47:06

I can see you're both speechless, but in a good way.

0:47:060:47:08

But we are going to have to try and put a number

0:47:080:47:11

on the property with this land. So, let's guess the price.

0:47:110:47:14

It's really difficult. I have no idea.

0:47:140:47:16

-I'm just going to say £360,000.

-OK.

0:47:160:47:21

Um...370.

0:47:210:47:24

Ooh!

0:47:240:47:26

What about if we went in between the two of you?

0:47:260:47:29

Cos it's on for £365,000.

0:47:290:47:31

-Wow. That's amazing, isn't it?

-Under budget.

0:47:310:47:34

Every property we've shown you has been under budget.

0:47:340:47:38

-It has, yes.

-Yeah.

0:47:380:47:40

That's...very interesting.

0:47:400:47:42

-And this is the one that has the land.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:47:420:47:46

Well, I can see why it was the Mystery House, because it's...

0:47:460:47:49

-Gorgeous, isn't it?

-It really is lovely.

0:47:490:47:51

So why don't you head gently back, have a little look,

0:47:510:47:53

and I'll see you when you are ready.

0:47:530:47:55

-OK.

-Mind those stairs.

-Thank you.

0:47:550:47:57

Below budget by £10,000, our mystery property

0:47:580:48:02

is a terrace stone cottage

0:48:020:48:04

dating to the 17th century

0:48:040:48:06

that boasts a wealth of old features.

0:48:060:48:08

It has a farmhouse-style kitchen

0:48:080:48:10

and a downstairs study

0:48:100:48:12

that could make a bedroom for Mum.

0:48:120:48:14

Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms

0:48:140:48:16

and, as well as a courtyard garden,

0:48:160:48:18

there is almost an acre

0:48:180:48:20

of private woodland just up the lane.

0:48:200:48:22

From pulling up outside, it just had a very small frontage,

0:48:230:48:27

and the cottage just kept giving and giving.

0:48:270:48:29

And then, to be brought up here

0:48:290:48:31

to this parcel of land, it's absolutely lovely.

0:48:310:48:34

So, yes, the Mystery House hit the mark as well. Very nice.

0:48:340:48:38

-Oh, this is another lovely room, isn't it?

-This is pretty, yes.

0:48:380:48:43

-I like the beams.

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

0:48:430:48:46

It is, actually, because you've got two singles there.

0:48:460:48:49

-You know, you could easily fit a king-size bed.

-Absolutely.

0:48:490:48:53

I can see Gina living in this house. It's very much her type of house.

0:48:530:48:56

It had a lot of character. I think her mum would like it as well.

0:48:560:49:00

I'm not sure that the accommodation for Anita was perfect.

0:49:000:49:05

I do have a lot to think about, but, to be honest with you,

0:49:050:49:09

there's a clear winner in my mind.

0:49:090:49:12

Right, well, you've seen our properties in Somerset.

0:49:120:49:15

We've crossed the border into Devon for the Mystery House. That's it.

0:49:150:49:19

-So, I guess you want some time to have a chat?

-I think so.

0:49:190:49:22

-We'll have a think about it.

-Absolutely.

0:49:220:49:24

-Find out what your next move is going to be.

-OK.

-Come on, then.

0:49:240:49:27

During the late medieval period,

0:49:340:49:36

the Somerset countryside was home to a thriving cottage textile industry.

0:49:360:49:41

The market town of Shepton Mallet close to the Mendip Hills,

0:49:410:49:45

was a major wool trading centre.

0:49:450:49:47

And by the 17th century,

0:49:470:49:49

a number of mills had sprung up along the River Sheppey.

0:49:490:49:52

Fast forward to the 1990s when fashion entrepreneur Roger Saul

0:49:520:49:57

bought Kilver Court, a former Victorian mill complex

0:49:570:50:00

and ran his successful leather handbag company from the estate.

0:50:000:50:04

But after selling the fashion business in 2004,

0:50:040:50:08

he opened up the site to the public.

0:50:080:50:10

I've come to meet him to find

0:50:100:50:12

out more about the history of the mill and its gardens.

0:50:120:50:15

-Hi, Roger. Lovely to meet you.

-Welcome.

-Thank you very much.

0:50:160:50:19

Beautiful spot here.

0:50:190:50:21

And I understand this site has a fascinating history.

0:50:210:50:25

Can you tell us a little bit about its background?

0:50:250:50:27

Yeah, it started really, I suppose, back in probably Roman times

0:50:270:50:31

when they first made textiles here.

0:50:310:50:33

There would have been sheep up on the Mendips

0:50:330:50:35

and down in Shepton with the river coming through, it would

0:50:350:50:38

have been where they milled all of the wool from the Mendips.

0:50:380:50:41

By 1500, Somerset was probably a bigger wool producer than Yorkshire.

0:50:410:50:46

-Was it really?

-One of the biggest in the country.

0:50:460:50:48

So you could say that was a sort of fashion beginning.

0:50:480:50:51

West of England cloth came from here,

0:50:510:50:53

Queen Victoria's dress was made here.

0:50:530:50:55

So a whole sort of succession of really strong

0:50:550:50:58

entrepreneurial, industrial history.

0:50:580:51:00

The earliest mill at Kilver Court was established in the 1500s.

0:51:020:51:06

The present buildings date to the 19th century when businessman

0:51:060:51:10

Ernest Jardine ran a lace-making factory on the 3.5 acre site.

0:51:100:51:15

Jardine was a progressive industrialist who

0:51:150:51:17

wanted to keep his workforce happy, so he created fabulous gardens

0:51:170:51:22

and a lake for his employees to relax in.

0:51:220:51:25

All entrepreneurs that understood that

0:51:250:51:27

if they wanted to grow their businesses successfully

0:51:270:51:29

in those really successful Victorian times,

0:51:290:51:32

they had to have a workforce that was motivated.

0:51:320:51:35

So, at that stage, he would have rebuilt the buildings,

0:51:350:51:38

he would have redone some of the cottages

0:51:380:51:40

and made it a much more amenable place to work in.

0:51:400:51:42

And also, he built the gardens.

0:51:420:51:45

So he's really was thinking about how he could give them

0:51:450:51:48

the freedom to have leisure as well as work.

0:51:480:51:52

So, investing in the grounds

0:51:520:51:53

but also investing in his workforce at the same time.

0:51:530:51:56

Yeah, absolutely.

0:51:560:51:57

Jardine's factory eventually closed in the 1920s.

0:51:570:52:01

But Kilver Court found a new lease of life in the 1950s

0:52:010:52:05

when the Showering family began producing

0:52:050:52:07

a well-known sparkling perry from the site.

0:52:070:52:10

Francis Showering remodelled much of the gardens in the '60s

0:52:100:52:13

using the gold medal-winning design he'd seen

0:52:130:52:16

at the Chelsea Flower Show.

0:52:160:52:17

Are there any elements of the garden that exist from

0:52:170:52:20

when it was created back in Jardine's day?

0:52:200:52:23

The lake would have been here for the water power.

0:52:230:52:25

The viaduct, I think, first went up in about 1860, 1870.

0:52:250:52:29

Today, Roger keeps the gardens in the same style

0:52:290:52:32

developed in the mid-20th century.

0:52:320:52:34

The centrepiece is a rockery surrounded by upright junipers

0:52:340:52:37

and yew trees.

0:52:370:52:39

But being a cutting-edge creative himself, Roger couldn't resist making

0:52:390:52:42

his own fashion statement,

0:52:420:52:45

influenced by a garden design in Paris.

0:52:450:52:48

So, here we are. My favourite bit of the garden.

0:52:480:52:51

And has it changed, then, in recent times?

0:52:510:52:53

In '96, I bought the whole site.

0:52:530:52:57

So you looked out from the amazing director suite into the garden.

0:52:570:53:01

And all I could see was lines of corporation roses -

0:53:010:53:04

orange, yellow, pink, orange, yellow, pink.

0:53:040:53:07

And very, very '60s, if you like.

0:53:070:53:09

So I thought, "Well, they've got to go."

0:53:090:53:12

So we ripped them all out.

0:53:120:53:13

And there's a wonderful museum in des Invalides

0:53:130:53:17

and it's got shapes like these box,

0:53:170:53:20

which are like shells or missiles.

0:53:200:53:22

So I took that idea and created a parterre here in the middle

0:53:220:53:25

and put roses and lavender and so on in it.

0:53:250:53:28

You certainly have got a wonderful spot here, Roger.

0:53:280:53:31

-Thank you very much.

-It's been my pleasure.

0:53:310:53:33

In gardening terms, Kilver Court is largely considered to be a classic

0:53:330:53:37

'60s design, but Roger has ensured that the gardens continue to

0:53:370:53:41

evolve to be enjoyed by future generations.

0:53:410:53:45

So that's it.

0:53:470:53:48

We've shown Gina and her best friend Claire our properties

0:53:480:53:51

here in Somerset and,

0:53:510:53:53

of course, just over the border in Devon for our Mystery House.

0:53:530:53:56

Now, I must admit - I don't think we started off in the strongest

0:53:560:53:59

of fashions, but it got better as time went on.

0:53:590:54:03

And, well, I'm feeling quietly confident.

0:54:030:54:05

But let's hear what Gina has got to say.

0:54:050:54:07

Well, Gina and best friend Claire, we've had

0:54:110:54:14

a great few days here in Somerset and Devon, of course, in the end.

0:54:140:54:17

We have, yeah.

0:54:170:54:18

Blazing sunshine, pouring rain all the elements thrown at us.

0:54:180:54:21

Yes, we have.

0:54:210:54:23

But we haven't been deterred with our house-hunting.

0:54:230:54:25

-No, absolutely not.

-So, how well did we do, then?

0:54:250:54:28

Go on. Please let me know.

0:54:280:54:30

Well, I think you did very well.

0:54:300:54:32

The beautiful white property with the lovely big garden

0:54:320:54:37

is the clear winner in my book.

0:54:370:54:39

I think it just fits the bill for Mum, myself and for any visitors.

0:54:390:54:45

it's got so many options with all the bedrooms, and the accommodation,

0:54:450:54:48

which would be for Mum, I think she'll really like.

0:54:480:54:51

It was just light and airy and the only thing, obviously,

0:54:510:54:55

it didn't have was the shower room.

0:54:550:54:57

But, actually, that wouldn't be a problem.

0:54:570:54:59

It'd just, I think, go probably where the utility room is.

0:54:590:55:03

-So it's a clear winner.

-And she's all on one level.

-Yeah.

0:55:030:55:05

-So it's a clear winner.

-Oh! Delighted.

0:55:050:55:08

Delighted! Well, we are talking about a clear winner, how far we going to take it?

0:55:080:55:13

-Cos your house is currently on the market, isn't it?

-Yes, it is.

0:55:130:55:16

And the next step, I think, is to talk to Mum

0:55:160:55:18

and book a second viewing and take her to see it.

0:55:180:55:21

Lovely. Claire, you know Gina

0:55:210:55:23

and her mum Anita probably better than nearly anyone.

0:55:230:55:26

What difference do you think that property is going to make

0:55:260:55:29

to their lives if Gina's mum Anita likes it just as much?

0:55:290:55:32

I thin it'll be a new start for them.

0:55:320:55:34

So I think life will be easier all round.

0:55:340:55:36

Gina will be happier because she's got her animals.

0:55:360:55:38

It's got chickens in situ.

0:55:380:55:40

Yes, we've heard all about the chickens.

0:55:400:55:43

And also you can relax a little bit with your mum as well, can't you,

0:55:430:55:46

-knowing that she's safe, that she's happy, that she's independent.

-Yes.

0:55:460:55:50

-And let's hope she loves it as much as you do.

-Yes.

-I think she will.

0:55:500:55:53

So, I've got to ask you one last question.

0:55:530:55:55

You've wanted this for years.

0:55:550:55:57

What's the first animal you're going to buy

0:55:570:55:58

-when you move into your new home?

-Well, if the chickens

0:55:580:56:01

are already there - that would be crossed off the list -

0:56:010:56:03

probably a dog.

0:56:030:56:05

Well, let us know how you get on.

0:56:050:56:06

We've really wanted to try and find you that perfect home

0:56:060:56:09

-and I think in the end we got there, didn't we?

-Yes.

0:56:090:56:12

-Let's hope all the rest falls into place.

-Thank you.

0:56:120:56:15

Well, I don't mind admitting, it is

0:56:190:56:21

tricky trying to find the right house for two people

0:56:210:56:24

with individual needs.

0:56:240:56:26

And Gina was adamant there was no room for compromise.

0:56:260:56:30

She wanted the perfect house for them both.

0:56:300:56:33

And guess what,

0:56:330:56:34

when we showed her that stunning property with the large garden,

0:56:340:56:38

no compromise went out the window

0:56:380:56:40

and she's happy to make those tweaks so it's perfect for Anita.

0:56:400:56:44

And, if her mum loves it as much as Gina does,

0:56:440:56:47

and their offer is accepted, well,

0:56:470:56:49

they could be moving in very soon and make Somerset their new home.

0:56:490:56:54

I really hope it works out for them

0:56:540:56:56

and we wish them the very best of luck.

0:56:560:56:59

And I'll see you again on Escape To The Country.

0:56:590:57:02

If you would like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, England

0:57:040:57:08

or Northern Ireland and need our help, please apply online at...

0:57:080:57:12

Nicki Chapman helps a buyer who is property shopping with her best friend. She has £375,000 to find some countryside respite to suit her and her elderly mother. Away from the house hunt, Nicki meets a fashion entrepreneur turned horticulturist with designs on an iconic Somerset garden.