Property series. Jonnie Irwin is in rural Lincolnshire helping two canal boat enthusiasts find the perfect rural pad to suit their lives on dry land.
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This windmill behind me first started producing flour over 180 years ago
and, today, also helps make rather a good pint.
Find out how and exactly where I am in just a moment.
Today's house hunters are ready to move to pastures new
in the countryside, closer to family.
Our properties offer rooms with views that leave them startled.
-Oh, that's amazing.
-That is really surprising.
Did not expect this.
And we've also found spaces that leave them dumbfounded.
Oh, that's absolutely fabulous.
Today, I'm in Lincolnshire and behind me is Heckington Windmill,
the last remaining eight-sailed working windmill in the country.
Originally constructed in 1830, the tower has recently been refurbished
and now not only mills wheat, but also barley for an on-site brewery.
Later on in the show,
I'll be finding out more about this rather unique enterprise.
Lying on England's east coast, Lincolnshire covers a vast area
of over 2,000 square miles.
The county shares borders with Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire,
Nottinghamshire and England's smallest county, Rutland.
In north-east Lincolnshire lie the Wolds,
a landscape of rolling hills, valleys and chalk streams.
The Wolds feature some of the most attractive countryside in the east
and have been protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
for over 40 years.
Further south, marshy fenland was drained several centuries ago
to reveal low-lying, nutrient-rich agricultural land,
which generates more fresh produce than anywhere else in the country.
At the heart of the region is the city of Lincoln,
whose magnificent cathedral rises up out of the historic city centre.
With roots in the 11th century, it was once the tallest building in
all of Europe.
When it comes to setting up home,
the town of Stamford is one of the most desirable centres in the county.
Here, the architecturally rich streets are lined
with stunning Georgian facades
and over 600 listed buildings made from local mellow limestone.
Lincolnshire also happens to be one of the most sparsely populated
counties in England and so makes for an attractive option
for those seeking a truly rural escape.
As it stands, the average price of a detached house here in Lincolnshire
currently comes in at £176,000, which is around £100,000 below
the national figure, which represents a pretty good proposition
for those seeking their very own escape to the country.
Now, the beautiful city of Lincoln itself and some of the villages
to the north are slightly more expensive,
but heading east towards Boston...
Well, areas like that haven't seen price rises for quite some time,
so these represent even more value for money.
Time to catch up with today's buyers, then, and find out why
they're looking in this beautiful and reasonably priced part of the world.
Peter and Melanie met whilst working as teachers in the same school
and have now been married for 25 years.
She's a very strong lady.
Good sense of humour. Very loyal and very, very popular.
Very good with words,
irritating cos he always corrects me, but he's brilliant.
Based in Locks Heath, between Southampton and Portsmouth,
they live with their two dogs and two cats.
Peter and Melanie have three children between them
from previous relationships,
all of whom have moved away with their own families.
Now, our buyers feel it's their turn to try somewhere new.
'We've been here 23 years.'
When we first moved here, it was strawberry fields,
but recently all the housing development around us is new,
so gradually, from open fields and areas to walk the dogs,
we're now surrounded by houses.
Peter is retired, but dedicated head of science Melanie
is finding it harder to cut ties as she approaches
the end of her working career.
I don't want to retire but I've got to. They've appointed my successor.
I've got to move on and there is no way
I'd still be wanting to live in this house
knowing that my work was just down the road,
so I'd really like to move.
And the ideal base for them would be
somewhere within easy reach of their narrow boat,
docked in the East Midlands,
and their five grandchildren who live in London and Yorkshire.
We'd love to be closer to family
and it seems that Lincolnshire will offer exactly that,
and Lincoln, as a city, I thought, was beautiful.
So equidistant between children and grandchildren
and boat would be ideal.
And we actually managed to take the canal boat through Lincoln
last summer and it was absolutely beautiful,
so Lincolnshire is where we'd like to head.
Narrow-boat enthusiasts for over 30 years,
Peter and Melanie plan to enjoy their new-found free time
by spending the summer months of the year exploring Britain's waterways.
The lovely thing about narrow boating is you can get out
and you're just away from everywhere.
The boat is usually in the middle of nowhere and you can just walk.
You can enjoy the space.
You meet a whole variety of people.
You can go to places you never dream of. It's lovely.
And on dry land, during the winter months,
Melanie's passion for education means she is considering
starting back at school.
I love teaching.
I think helping in a school would give me
a way into becoming part of the community.
It's just been part of my life for so long, I'm not quite ready
to give it up yet.
As for Peter, he's looking forward to spending as much time as he can
tending his garden, and they're both relishing the thought
of entering this next phase of their lives together.
We're going to have more time to do the things we like doing
and do new things as well.
Yeah, he can go to museums
-and I'll go riding or something...
-And I promise not to join a choir.
..cos I hate museums, and he can't sing.
Peter and Melanie are excited to learn about
what the Lincolnshire countryside can offer them,
so they're flexible about where in the county they'd like to settle,
as long as they're within an hour-and-a-half's drive
of their narrow boat, which is moored in Derbyshire.
I'm meeting up with them to get a better idea of what might
float their boat when it comes to finding their perfect property.
-Well, good morning, Mel and Peter.
-Welcome to Lincolnshire.
-Gorgeous day. Beautiful weather.
You're looking down the barrel of retirement, aren't you?
I am, yes, I have one term left at school.
HE WHISTLES So, is that the reason why you're looking to relocate now, then?
Yes, because I don't want to be living just down the road from work,
thinking, "I'd like to be at work."
So, we're going to move house so I can't possibly be at work any more.
Well, you want to be living, not down the road from work,
-but down the road from the boat.
-And closer to family.
-Yeah. Where are the family again?
-Just south of Doncaster. North London.
But this part of the world - we don't know at all,
so it'll be lovely to do something totally new.
You could have picked anywhere. Come on, why have you chosen Lincolnshire?
I used to live at Waddington, so I've got a grounding here.
I used to live on the RAF station at Waddington.
We wanted a county that was different to all the other counties
that we'd been to.
Now, the boat's the all-important thing, isn't it?
How much time do you plan on spending on this boat in your retirement?
-Well, perhaps five months a year, something like that.
Not all in one block. There's something lovely about going to the boat
and there's something lovely about coming home. You have the best of both worlds
and we're fortunate that we can do both.
I take it, then, you want the commute time to be as small as possible?
At the moment, it's about three hours to drive up.
If we could cut that to an hour, an hour and a half, it would be ideal.
OK, well, let's talk about the house.
What do you need from this house, then, Mel?
It's got to have three bedrooms.
I'd like a kitchen which has got a dining area in it.
It doesn't have to be...
We could have a formal dining room as well. I'm not worried about that.
It can be a bungalow, it can be a standard house.
It has to have a garden, though.
-Who's the big gardener out of both of you?
It doesn't have to be big. It just has to have a feeling of space.
We're looking in a part of the world where you get a lot for your money.
That must be one of the main drivers why you're looking here.
Yes. I suppose you could say we are downsizing
to something the same size, but it's cheaper.
Well, that makes perfect sense, Mel.
-And we're also homeless cos we've sold our house.
You know what, though? That actually is music to my ears
because it means that you're committed now.
You're committed to this move. So, let's talk about budgets.
How much have you got to spend, then?
Well, 350 but perhaps 400 if it's something absolutely beautiful.
-Have you got a favourite style?
-We don't mind...
When you walk into the house, we'll know whether we like it or not.
-Great. All right, well, it's a beautiful day.
-Let's get started. Come with me.
With a maximum budget of £400,000,
Peter and Mel have a fairly concise brief.
They want a three-bed property with a country-style kitchen/diner
and a sizeable garden,
all in a location within reasonable reach of their narrow boat.
We've come up with a fine selection of Lincolnshire properties
with which to tempt our buyers,
but we'll be keeping the price tag under wraps
until the end of each house tour.
Our last destination is the Mystery House,
where classic style meets 21st-century technology
and could literally bring the retirement dream to the front door.
Living in this Lincolnshire countryside, how well do you know it?
Not very well at all. When I was a child, we lived at Waddington
with the Vulcan bombers, but haven't really had any experience
-outside the RAF station.
-I know you've discovered a lot of
Britain by the waterways, but this is your chance to discover
-a whole a new area...almost above ground, isn't it?
A couple of summers ago, we went in to Lincoln on the boat
and moored in Lincoln and walked up to the cathedral
and had a superb cake halfway up the hill, because we were all so tired.
So basically, what you're telling me is - you've chosen to move
to Lincolnshire cos you had some nice cake here once.
I think that's one of the best reasons I've ever heard!
We're starting our property search in the sought-after village
of Ropsley, an hour and 15 minutes' drive
from our buyers' boat in Willington.
In the quiet village centre are a host of period cottages
alongside a post office and a pub.
There's also a primary school, which could present rewarding
opportunities for Mel as a volunteer.
And there are a number of footpaths in the area,
which should make for some enjoyable dog walking.
Located on the edge of the village is our first offering.
So, option number one is this.
-It looks good.
-It does, doesn't it?
-Yeah, it looks very good.
-It looks super.
-It looks a good size.
Interesting bits of architecture as well.
It has a sort of Mediterranean feel, this end piece.
The original part of the property, that side, the front,
-was two-up, two-down, 16th-century.
-Oh, that's why the...
-That's why that angle.
You can turn round on the front drive.
Actually, you've got an in-and-out drive - even better.
-Now we're living!
-Yeah, we don't like having to reverse onto a road.
-Her reversing is not good.
-You can say that - I can't.
-So, first impressions, these are good, right?
-Well, let's go inside, shall we?
-Lovely. After you.
'Dating all the way back to 1590,'
this attractive stone property has accommodation over three floors.
It has been hugely extended over the years,
building on the original character to create a unique country home.
So, let's start with this split-level living room. What do you think?
-Oh, it's lovely.
-Not too big,
but gives that lovely feeling of space,
and it's beautifully light!
Well, being such an old property, an old two-up, two-down,
you'd never have this sort of space.
This apparently is a conversion of an old barn
and, with a conservatory beyond, it really brings that outside in.
It stretches it beautifully. That's very nice.
And you've got a wood burner as well.
-And a big hearth.
-Lovely. I like the fireplace.
This is brilliant and I like this room. I'd like to see
-how it progresses from there.
-It's got a really good feel.
-Good feel. I like the textures.
Well, this exposed stonework, this timberwork, it works, doesn't it?
You don't have to decorate, that's why.
But you will have to dust the beams.
-Job allocation, I like it.
Well, let's go to the kitchen and see what you think of that. Follow me.
'Heading into the oldest part of the house, I'm hoping Mel and Peter
'will continue to be impressed by what the kitchen offers.'
Oh, that is fascinating.
Kind of galley-style, just walking straight through.
-Yeah, but it's not really too constricted, is it?
There's enough space to feel right.
Through there you've got a door going into a really handy utility -
Now, there's two rooms the other side of this wall -
a dining room straight off it
-and then you've got another snug that side, as well.
-We could walk around all day and miss each other.
Your choices are these - you could refurb this kitchen as is,
maybe incorporate some of that rear space,
OR use an entirely different room for the kitchen.
Oh, that sounds intriguing.
-Let's keep looking.
-Yes, let's have a look.
-Now, see this room...
-Oh, this is a fabulous room.
-Oh, that's amazing.
-That is really surprising. I did not expect that.
And this is where you thought the kitchen could come?
Yeah. Well, look, this wall here...
HE KNOCKS ON THE WALL ..it's only stud partition,
so you could bring this room right back to that stone wall.
That has got huge potential, hasn't it?
And if you're going to redo the kitchen,
-you might just as well...
-You are cleverer than you look, you know.
That's the first time that's ever been said!
Look, I know you said you didn't want a project,
this house works absolutely fine, there's nothing to do
-that needs doing...
-But as and when, as years go by...
It would make an absolutely brilliant kitchen.
-That's got a lot of possibilities.
-I like it.
This feel definitely continues.
Let's hope so. Even more upstairs. Come with me.
Oh, that would be lovely.
With some expert input,
this could make an incredible kitchen with impressive rural views.
Next, we're off to explore upstairs.
There are five bedrooms here and a family bathroom.
Up on the second floor, in the eaves, is a large double bedroom
and the other bedrooms are all on the first floor,
including two cosy but well-presented doubles,
as well as a small single.
But we're stopping off at the rather generous master suite.
-Oh, I've got a dressing room.
-I've got somewhere to put all my clothes.
-Good size, isn't it?
-Yep. It's a very, very good size.
-The view is lovely.
-This is something I've never seen before.
Some of the things in this house are completely different
and it would be absolutely fascinating to just
walk around later on and get a feel for where the other rooms are.
The meld between the new and the old is interesting
and that's been done quite well, I think.
This modern extension, two-storey modern extension,
it completely changes the whole house.
Let's go outside and talk about price.
-That will be difficult.
-It will indeed.
The garden here, of just under half an acre, is mostly lawned
and blessed with stunning, uninterrupted views over open fields.
-So, cracking outlook.
Now, the house, you can see now, it looks a lot bigger from this side
than the front, doesn't it?
-It's very big.
-Lots of rooms.
Well, OK, all this must come at a cost. Let's guess the price.
How much do you think this house is on the market for?
-You can go first.
Well, I would guess they would be asking a little shy of 400,
knowing what our budget is.
Well, as it stands, this property is on the market
for offers around £435,000.
Having spoken to the owner, they said they would be prepared to negotiate
down towards the top end of your budget.
-Well, that's something to think about.
-It's a first option. It's a big one.
I think your job is to discuss amongst yourselves
-whether it's too big and then we can go from there.
-Catch you in a mo.
-See you later.
Over budget by £35,000 but open to offers,
this spacious, detached, period property with five bedrooms
benefits from gorgeous country views
in an enviable edge-of-village location.
-Gosh, it's another room.
-It's a long room.
This is an interesting feature, isn't it?
This raised plinth all the way along.
It would be great if you had a railway, a model railway.
-Great place for grandchildren, though.
When we first saw the property, I thought it looked really good.
I loved the stonework of the house
and it looked very neat, tidy and together.
When we came in, this room, particularly,
I felt very comfortable with.
I love the conservatory added on. It gave you a nice, cosy sitting area,
yet a feeling of space.
When we came to the newer part of the property,
it didn't have the comfortable feel and that...
To me, it didn't match with the rest of the house.
I think it's the proportions that are nice.
But having said that, we have to look very carefully at downsizing
to somewhere not too big.
There's an awful lot of space and I'm not sure what we'd use
all the space for.
-That was good.
-So, you didn't get lost inside?
-No, we found all...
-Well, we think we found all the rooms.
-There are lots.
-There are lots.
Maybe too many, but that's something to discuss maybe later on.
-Shall we keep going?
When they make their move, our buyers, particularly Peter,
can't wait to get to grips with the Lincolnshire soil
to landscape their new garden.
With this in mind, we've arranged for them to visit
Easton Walled Gardens, known as the "lost gardens" of Lincolnshire.
Formerly the site of Easton Manor,
the estate has belonged to the Cholmeley family since 1592.
The manor house itself has not survived,
but after 50 years of neglect,
Lady Ursula Cholmeley has worked to restore the natural beauty
of the site and opened the gardens to the public.
-Hello and welcome to Easton Wall Gardens.
-It is absolutely gorgeous.
-Yeah, it is quite a vista, isn't it?
It is absolutely gorgeous.
The house must have been able to look out onto that.
The gardens were really important to the house
and they had this fantastic 270-degree view,
and it was one of the reasons I decided to restore them.
A lot of the design that was here, we've replaced
because we have photographs from about 100 years ago.
The last two years have been really exciting
cos instead of me saying to people, "Well, here's a field
"and this is what it's going to look like", I now am able to say,
"This is what we've done and what we've achieved." So that's been really exciting.
That must have been a major decision, though, wasn't it?
It was a really stupid decision!
I'd have said brave, but you said stupid!
Lady Cholmeley and her team have restored ten of the 12 acres
of garden here, which is now divided into two distinct sections.
Within the remaining Tudor walls,
the main garden echoes the one previously planted here.
Modern additions include a yew tunnel,
created from 200-year-old yew trees, and a traditional white garden.
The second section was planted to inspire visitors.
It has a vegetable plot, a pickery and a cottage garden.
So, this is where the house was and you can see over there,
that's where the conservatory was.
-A fantastic view looking out over the gardens.
-It must have been beautiful.
When we came here, one of the challenges was that
we're in a very cold site, and the soil's very poor,
but it's very free-draining. One thing that grows very well here
are bulbs. So, our spring bulbs are something that we plant thousands of every year.
Trying to encourage ecological diversity
is something that I'm really keen on, so we do have a lot of meadows
and obviously a lot of bulbs have single flowers,
which are excellent for insects.
So, the planting is thought about carefully in terms of the ecology?
-Very much so.
-That must be an interesting part of your job.
Yeah, really interesting.
When we first came here, we were in a period of destruction
so we had heavy machinery, bonfires,
and we really wanted to do some actual horticulture
as soon as possible, so we started growing sweet peas
and we got a bit obsessed with them, and we now grow 100 varieties.
Sweet peas were introduced to the UK from Sicily
at the end of the 17th century.
However, it was some 200 years later in the 1900s
when many of the varieties we find today
were cultivated by botanist Henry Eckford.
He experimented with the native Sicilian species
to create a broader range of colours and sizes.
Lady Ursula is taking Mel and Peter to the pickery,
where they can get a bit more hands-on
and plant some of their own.
The first thing to do is fill the pot with the compost.
-You can do the heavy bit. Don't drop it on the flowers.
-You can guide it.
You want me to get muddy?
So, sweet peas need a good deep base
and we're going to add some slow-release fertiliser,
something that's high in potash.
-They're high-feeders, then, are they?
-Yes, they are.
We're just going to sprinkle a bit of that in there.
Now, the important thing about training sweet peas
-is, you know, they have tendrils on them?
So this has got nice, rough texture.
-What is it?
-It's a dogwood.
The most important thing is to have lots going on on the top
because a sweet pea is narrowest at its base
and it gets wider as it goes up.
Now, the key to good sweet peas are good roots,
so we're going to tap this out...
-..and there you can see.
-Beautiful root structure.
These are heritage variety, so they don't grow as tall,
so we thought that it'd be nice for you to have this
because then they might be a better size on the canal boat.
-That's a lovely thought!
-They'll get to about four to five feet tall.
Thank you. We've had a lovely time, we've learned a great deal.
That was very kind of you.
And I've got sweet peas at last cos you never grow sweet peas!
-Heritage sweet peas.
-They will look beautiful on the front of the boat.
Peter and Mel may have been impressed by the landscaped grounds
here at Easton, but might have to scale back THEIR grand garden plans
when it comes to our next property.
And to get there, we're travelling south
and out of the county to Tickencote in Rutland,
which is an hour and a half drive from their narrow boat.
With its attractive traditional stone houses,
Tickencote is in a quiet conservation area
and the River Gwash meanders around the outskirts of the village.
On its doorstep is Rutland Round,
a circular walk which has long attracted ramblers
and is bound to be a hit with Mel and Peter.
Located in the heart of the village is our next property.
OK, option number two - a very different option.
-As you can see, we're semidetached.
-I've got no objection to that.
This place, we're thinking, is your lock-up-and-leave
for when you spend your five months on your boat.
This garden, I think you could
do something better with it for your needs.
What you see is what you get - that is the compromise with this house.
-Have you any idea where you are?
Well, you are only five miles from Stamford
and, if you haven't been, you should go. It is absolutely beautiful.
And that's basically your local town,
a lovely area for you to discover.
This is a base more than a home where you spend 365 days of the year.
-We look forward to seeing it.
-Well, come with me.
This characterful period cottage was originally constructed in 1860.
Though it has a well-kept and modern interior,
it retains many original features.
However, I'm interested to see if our buyers are really ready
to face the reality of downsizing.
-It's beautiful, though.
-It's lovely. It is smaller.
-There's only two of us to sit down, dear.
-That is true.
This room is a very comfortable room.
I don't need an enormous living room. This is very comfortable.
I love this.
The owners think that this panelling came out of the Norman church
-just over the road. It looks lovely, doesn't it?
-It does look good.
-And it suits the room.
-I love the fireplace.
That natural stone just sets the room off beautifully.
Now, you said, in your own words, making sense from it,
you were downsizing, in a way.
This genuinely is downsizing
and you both seem to have warmed to it straight away.
Yes. I could quite happily be sitting in this room.
When do you think you'd spend most of your time in your...
-This is going to be really cosy in the winter, isn't it?
-I think so.
-I like this room.
-All right, great reactions.
Let's keep looking round.
-Let me just squeeze through the middle here.
-Yes, of course.
It's a lovely kitchen, though.
Am I benefiting from people that spend a lot of time on narrow boats?
Cos it's not the biggest kitchen, but...
-It's bigger than my one on the narrow boat.
But it's been well done.
So, could you see yourselves living, not full-time,
but more of the time in a house with these proportions?
I personally could see myself in the house.
It's the outside space that might be a compromise too far.
I get the feeling it's a little bit too tight.
A reason why there's less outside space than you'd normally imagine
with these cottages is because they've built an annexe out the back.
-A pretty much one-up, one-down annexe,
which I thought for visiting children and grandchildren...
-Is that part of this property?
-Part of this place.
-Oh, that might be different.
-That makes a difference.
-Oh, you thought that was a neighbour.
I'm going to let you loose on the annexe later on.
The master, I think you'd still use the one upstairs here.
-Let me show you that.
-OK, thank you.
Outside to the rear of the property,
the two-storey annexe has a small but comfy living room
and sleeping quarters.
'But we're heading back through the entrance hall to check out
'the upstairs in the main house.
'As well as a three-piece family bathroom,
'there are three bedrooms on offer.
'One is a small but bright, airy double,
'another a single with handy built-in cupboards.
'And that just leaves the largest bedroom.'
So the master bedroom faces out over that beautiful church.
-Lovely, isn't it?
-Lovely window, good size for a bedroom.
-Much bigger than I expected from downstairs.
-I like it.
-It is good.
-You do, don't you?
-Are you surprised you like it?
No, because I'm quite happy to downsize.
I'm not sure he's got his head around downsizing yet.
-Inside or out, Peter?
-Was that a prompt?
-Surely not. No, this room isn't too small.
-He says, "I need more space."
-The sitting room felt right.
The kitchen is a touch small. Outside might make the difference.
Let's go back outside to the garden,
cos I think that could be the sticking point,
-and we'll talk it through.
The only patch of garden here is at the front of the house
and features a tidy lawn with mature planted borders,
which, on a day like today, makes for a beautiful sunny spot.
However, given Peter's thoughts on the property so far,
I'm a little unsure whether the outside space here
will be enough for him.
Would you consider maybe turfing over that gravel
and getting more garden?
No, I don't think so. I think that works well as it is.
We need somewhere for the car. I think I'd be happy with this.
If we were downsizing, this would be it.
Mel, you seem to have warmed to this.
I like the idea of a smaller property
and this is very well-presented, it's very comfortable.
I like the amount of space. I don't need a great big garden.
OK, well, let's talk about the price.
How much do you think this house is on the market for?
It's your turn first, I'm pleased to say.
It's semidetached and it's an awful lot smaller.
-I'd probably go for 310.
-Right, then, Peter.
I think I'd probably go slightly lower - 295.
-Right, OK, I was trying...
-You're going to shock us now.
-I am, yeah.
This place is on the market for £350,000.
-You're five miles from Stamford.
-Yeah, it is beautiful.
Well, look, go back into the house, but also go into that annexe,
have a good look at it and then I'll meet you outside when you're ready.
In fact, I'm going to be sat on that lovely bench, basking in the sun.
-Good sunbathing spot.
-Enjoy, see you in a mo.
£50,000 under the top
of our buyers' budget,
this three-bed semidetached cottage
is beautifully presented throughout.
With an annexe handy for visiting family,
it's located in the centre
of a desirable Rutland village.
When we came in to the house, it immediately felt like a home.
I love the way the rooms flow.
Not many of them, but they actually work as you move around the house.
It felt right.
Inside, the rooms generally were pretty good,
much smaller, perhaps, than we're used to.
But I think, probably, I've got to get used to downsizing.
Well, this is a good space.
-You can have your office out here, darling...
-I don't need an office.
I just need somewhere to escape. I was amazed about the annexe.
It gave a great deal more life to my feelings about the property.
The garden is lovely.
Realistically, it's far too small for what I envisaged,
but having to rethink it in terms of downsizing
and looking at a smaller property, it's the sensible option.
This house feels as though we could move into it and enjoy living here.
Winter, when it's cold, it's wet and it's raining,
I can imagine just sort of lighting the fire
and really settling down here.
-I was nodding off then.
-You're nearly awake!
-What do you think?
-It's lovely. It's true downsizing.
-Yes, it is.
And I like it BECAUSE it's true downsizing.
-Well, that's something for you both to argue over dinner about.
-Argue? Surely not!
-All right, let's go.
Peter and Melanie from Southampton have a budget of up to £400,000
and they're longing to start a new life
closer to their children, grandchildren and their narrow boat,
by moving to the Lincolnshire countryside.
-Coming up, we might have just struck lucky with our mystery property.
It gets better and better. What a kitchen!
And I get to experience sailing - of a sort - as I take a step
back in time to power up one of Lincolnshire's historic landmarks.
-You are on the throttle, you're driving it.
-I'm driving a windmill!
Well, we've got two quite different properties lined up for Mel and Peter today.
Looking forward, the Mystery House, well,
short of showing them an actual boat,
they couldn't get much closer to the water.
But in order to get their hands on this Holy Grail, if you like,
they'll have something nearby that often splits the camp.
Some people love them, some people loathe them.
And we'll find out Peter and Mel's thoughts after we've seen
my next offering, which out of all four houses
has the best garden, in my opinion, so let's see what they think.
Our house hunt continues back in Lincolnshire,
in the village of Coleby,
which is about an hour and 25 minutes' drive
from our buyers' boat in Derbyshire.
A handful of homes here are clustered along quiet, country lanes.
Apart from the pretty church,
there's also a pub and a primary school.
The village has a small but thriving community
and is surrounded by countryside.
Along with the potential to help out at the local school,
there's also a choice of dog walking options.
Sitting at the edge of the village is our next property.
Right, how about this, then?
That stone front looks lovely, really neat, very tidy.
If you'd come here 100 years ago, you'd see a really, really tall
-windmill at the back.
-We've definitely escaped to the
-Do you feel remote?
-At the moment, yes.
-It depends what the house does...
-..cos that changes the feel.
-I think so. Let's get inside and have a look.
This 18th-century former miller's cottage
once stood at the base of a windmill, which was in operation
until 1942, but it was demolished as it was in the flight path
of aircraft returning to nearby RAF Waddington.
Righty-ho, then, so straight in to the kitchen.
Your reaction as to...shape and form?
Yeah, nicely done. It's certainly a good size.
-Looks in lovely condition.
-This kitchen is just over ten years old,
-It's worn well, hasn't it?
-Looks much better than that, doesn't it?
I love the granite worktops going into the windowsill like that.
I like the window, as well, nice and light, cos sometimes
-in kitchens you have a small window...
-We'll end up in the living room...
-..but I want to show you
-the dining room first, so come with me.
Just off the kitchen is an elegant, formal dining room,
which could be great for entertaining visiting friends and family.
So, you finish here in the living room.
-Oh, this is bigger than I expected.
-Look where the fire is placed.
-See, the wall would have been there
and then you'd have a scullery at the back there going
-into the back of the kitchen.
-Which is why the fire's off-centre.
You haven't got a wood burner, you've got an open fire.
-It's a nice, comfortable room.
-It is lovely.
-It is downsizing, with that space...
-Let's go upstairs and take a look at the bedrooms.
On the first floor, there are three double bedrooms,
all of a good size and decorated in neutral colours.
There's also a large family bathroom and a separate WC,
but I'm taking Mel and Peter to see the master.
Right, then, what do we think of this one?
-Good bedroom, good size.
-Yes, beautifully light.
I was expecting small cottagey windows
and that one's big enough to make it really light
and, of course, decoration in these light colours makes
-it look even better.
-It does help.
They've made a four-bedroom house into a three-bedder.
You've got a decent-sized family bathroom.
But then, looking around you, you've got the option of,
"Where do we take this place? Do we make it modern?
"Do we expose all these timbers and make it really traditional again?"
I know it's got modern windows and it's got some modern touches,
but I think it would spoil it to go totally modern.
-It's got character at the moment.
-Buying furniture would be interesting.
-I could have a lovely time!
Sounds expensive. Well, let's start thinking about how much
this place would cost. I want to show you some outbuildings
-and gardens and we'll go from there.
Outside, the land extends to a third of an acre,
which includes two large lawned areas, as well as
a few outbuildings.
I suspect that Peter might be in his element out here.
Right... Now, Peter, you'll be pleased to hear...
-you've got that patch there with beautiful views...
-..and that patch there.
That should keep him quiet!
-Gives you a big space, doesn't it?
I'd love to know how we're going to keep the dogs in.
Dog-friendly wise...you'll need to put some fences up.
You've got garages... An old cold store, garage and then...
-See that UPVC door and windows?
That was an office.
-So, I don't know...
You might make it a hobby room or you could...
You could do anything you want with it, it's all lined...
-It's called a doghouse, isn't it? Whichever way you read it.
-Or Peter's quarters!
LAUGHTER There's no jobs, there's just ways of making it one's own.
I think it's beautifully presented, well-decorated...
It's a nice, square cottage, that hasn't been extended.
-And it hasn't been spoiled.
-It is what it is.
And it's the better for that, I think.
So, how much would you pay for this?
-Who's going first?
That's very confident, all right.
-Peter, what do you think?
-I think it's really difficult.
I will go for...
Oh, you just nicked it. This place is on the market
for offers around £375,000.
-Yeah, I like the house, I like the garden.
-It's got a lot going for it.
I'd like to go and have a look at what else...
Go and have a wander.
All right, well, look, why don't you go and do just that?
Go and have a look around the outbuildings, go back into
the house, see if this place could be your new home
-and I'll meet you whenever you're done.
-Thanks a lot.
I feel like we're getting closer.
Outside space for Peter, comfortable house, not too big,
for Mel. Yeah, it's gone down well, hasn't it?
This property seems to have given
both our couple food for thought
when it comes to what they're after
-from their future home.
-Let's see what's in this one.
-Oh, a nice space.
-Oh, it does look good.
-I'm not sure
I could use it as a gym, though. I think we'd have to find another...
Do you not? How would we use it?
-That's something to think about.
-It's a useful space, though.
It is lovely, it's got a lovely feel to it, it's light, it's airy.
Plenty of height in the rooms, upstairs as well as down.
In some houses of this age, there is wasted space.
This one has used every bit of the ground floor
for something that you can actually see its use.
When Jonnie took us into the kitchen, I was really surprised.
It was beautifully fitted. It had a great feel to it.
I could have imagined living in there, perhaps even working
-in there and cooking in there.
-The bedrooms are brilliant.
Nice square bedrooms.
All double bedrooms, which is ideal.
The ground itself and the size of the plot is probably
just about right.
Not too large, not too small, lovely bit of land.
Possibly, the one downside with the property is that it is a little bit
too remote. But again, that's something we'll have to go away and
-I feel happy with the house and Peter feels happy with the land.
So, this probably will be at the top of the list now.
Now, for a couple that are looking to downsize,
this seemed to be palatable for both of you.
-Is it something to think about?
Definitely something to think about.
-Good, onward and upward.
So, the Mystery House...
What do we think?
What might it be?
-Could be modern.
-Good or bad?
-Bad, I think.
-Depends on the style
of modern. Brick modern would be bad.
Stone modern could be very interesting.
Sometimes, it's the location that can be quirky.
In that case, it might be in the middle of a village.
Something by water?
-What? You'd like that or...?
I'd like it, but we'd spend our entire time fishing the dog out
because she likes it as well.
Our last stop is about 20 miles south to the village of Helpringham,
which is an hour and 40 minutes' drive
from Mel and Peter's narrow boat.
Lying on the edge of the Fens,
St Andrew's Church is the focal point here,
set back from the village green.
There's also a pub, a primary school and a tea shop.
The village lies in a conservation area
and there are several Grade II listed local features,
including a red brick road bridge built back in 1825.
Three miles outside of the village, in a very rural location,
is our rather special Mystery House.
It's surrounded by open countryside
in sight of a wind farm as well as some water.
Now, then, before we get to the house, I want to show you this.
My goodness! So, when does the QE2 come in?
-Funny you should say that - this is navigable.
-On a narrow boat?
-We've spoken to the river inspector.
-You are joking!
-No, I do not joke.
That is a mooring point. This is open for six months a year.
You go up there, turn right, get to Boston
and it opens up the entire system to you.
Ah, now, that is incredible.
-Can we wind here?
-You can turn in and out.
-Is that what you mean?
You can wind away down there, by the way!
-Oh, how lovely!
-Oh, my goodness.
The whole gamble about this house is, first of all, it's remote.
-We know it's remote.
-But people love or loathe those.
-I personally love them.
-Oh, I love them. I love them.
I've got nothing against them.
So, I wanted you to see all that's here before we look at the house,
-so let's go and have a look at it.
-Oh, my word!
'Judging by Mel and Peter's reactions,
'they certainly weren't expecting that.
'I'm hoping that the house is going to come up trumps too
'and I have a sneaky suspicion that it might.'
So, let's look at the house itself. She's a beauty.
-Beautiful! Oh, that looks gorgeous.
Very, very substantial. That is amazing!
-Far bigger than I thought it was going to be.
-It's not a small house.
-It's typically Georgian in its proportions.
-Is it that old?
It's early 1800s.
-This hopefully combining your love of narrow boating...
..and the water and the canal system.
Your desire for a good, good-sized garden...
And a big enough property that you can downsize to but have lots of space in.
I'd like to see inside.
That's why we're here, so let's do just that. Come on, yeah.
This 19th-century Georgian property features a style typical of its time
and so has a striking symmetrical facade.
It's an attractive property and, although it is rather remote,
the generous layout on offer inside means our couple definitely
won't have to deal with downsizing.
So, let's start with one of the two reception rooms.
Oh, this is fabulous! Absolutely fabulous!
-It is an incredible room.
-Good-size wood burner. I know you love those.
And then nice detailing either side of the chimney.
-The Georgian proportions you get, I've always loved.
-Nice and square.
-I can't wait to see the rest of it.
You've got this reception room,
another of equal size the other side of the official front door,
but I think you're going to love the kitchen.
-So, big enough?
-It gets better and better.
What a kitchen! Beautiful proportions.
-I'm going to be rendered speechless.
-It's a lovely kitchen, isn't it?
You've got a dining area there
and then you've got almost the same size again...utility
-the other side of that entrance hall.
Yeah, it's massive. Imagine the wet dogs coming in from outside.
-That was my immediate thinking. "That's the dogs' house."
Oh, I want to see the rest of it.
-Definitely want to see the rest of it.
-OK, great reactions down here. Let's start looking upstairs.
'Back through the entrance hall, we're going up to the first floor,
where there are three spacious bedrooms.
'All doubles, they benefit from high ceilings with large sash windows
'that flood the traditionally square rooms with light,
'and there's also a family bathroom.'
Now, then, this is officially the master,
-solely because it has an en-suite.
I think you could make this into a lovely master bedroom.
I'd be very happy with this as a master.
Right at the top of your shopping list, Peter, was the garden,
which is one of the reasons why we're here.
So, let's go back outside, but also start thinking about price, OK?
-What a thought!
-I know, sorry.
This garden is the largest we've shown Mel and Peter.
At around an acre and mostly lawn,
the land here is partially walled with established hedges
that provide some shelter to the property
from the winds sweeping across the Fens.
Now, then, the man wanted gardens.
And the view between the trees just is lovely. You can see for miles.
All the property you see from here is yours.
That new pantiled roof, that's all your garaging - there's four garages.
So, you've seen a house that I think you've been surprised by.
-We have been DELIGHTED by.
Well, surprise me by guessing the price correctly.
-You go first.
-I was going to say the same.
I'll go 430.
OK, well, I do have a little bit of bad news cos you're wildly out.
This place is on the market for £350,000.
-You are joking? You are JOKING!
That is an amazing price.
I am astounded, honestly, I am really astounded.
-I can't believe it.
-It's absolutely gorgeous.
Did you ever think, Mel, that you might be considering
living in a Georgian house like this?
I never considered that there would be a Georgian house in the country that I could afford.
You need to think long and hard about it.
It's a very different environment to what you're used to,
so go back into the house.
You may be some time, but the sun's going down, so get a move on.
-I'll catch you later on.
-OK, thank you.
£50,000 under budget,
this detached Georgian property
with three bedrooms
has a huge modern kitchen,
a large garden
and the added bonus
of a potential narrow-boat mooring
located on Fen waterways.
As we came in through the door, it exceeded expectations.
-It was phenomenal. It just felt right.
-This is spectacularly good.
It's absolutely beautiful. It would make a wonderful home.
It's exactly the sort of kitchen I was looking for -
it's large, we can sit and eat in it, but at the same time,
there's enough room to fall over the dogs.
And they've got somewhere to be as well. Really, really good space.
I think the position, its rural isolation,
is something we would need to think about,
but again, that's something I think we could probably live with.
The house offers everything.
-Yep, I feel like Dr Who.
You go through the door and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
Not too big, though, hopefully?
No, no, because every bit of it is useful.
So, is this something to compare others by and to?
-Well, decision time looms.
-Let's go off and do that.
wind power has been used as a natural source of energy,
harnessed by windmills, which are thought to have been
introduced to the UK during the 12th century.
At one point,
there were estimated to be over 500 windmills in Lincolnshire alone.
Today, there are 136 remaining in the county in various states of repair.
But one shining example must be
the one standing proudly in the village of Heckington.
This mill ceased working in 1946, but, since the 1980s,
it has been in the care of the Heckington Windmill Trust,
who have spent the last 24 years restoring it.
I've come to meet trust director and mill manager Jim Bailey on site
to find out how such an iconic local landmark
continues its longstanding legacy.
-How are you doing?
-I'm very well, thanks.
Thanks so much for seeing me today.
Now, I understand this windmill hasn't always been in this guise,
-since it was constructed in 1830.
No, it was after 1830, it operated for 60 years
and then, in a huge storm, the whole of the top -
the five sails that it had - blew down.
That would have been the end of the windmill.
-Did they repair it straight away?
-It was repaired within two years.
John Pocklington, who was a miller in Boston,
he wanted to own his own windmill. There was a windmill in Boston.
He bought it at auction - it cost £72 and ten shillings -
demolished it, brought all of the topwork across here,
and the bricks, and rebuilt this windmill.
We go from five sails to eight sails.
So, how do you get a beauty like this up and running and going?
-I'll show you.
-Lead the way, sir.
Each sail has 24 shutters, making 192 in total.
On a blustery day, they're opened and, on a calm day,
they stay closed to harness the wind and maximise the power of the sails.
'I'm going to try my hand at setting these sails in motion.'
Here we are. Here's the brake. So, hand over hand and pull it down.
And then just slowly release it and there we go, brake's off.
So what we need to do now is close the shutters on the sails
and she'll go. So, lean out and you're going to pull down on this.
When you pull down on this,
you'll see the shutters slowly begin to close.
There, you see, it's closing now.
Hopefully there is enough wind...
And there she goes. She's off.
Now, you're driving it. That's fine, she'll slow down.
-Essentially, I'm on the throttle.
-You're driving it.
-I'm driving a windmill!
The trust is made up of volunteers - around 200 in total.
These enthusiasts work as guides and shop staff as well as millers.
Spread over six floors,
the windmill is capable of milling over five tonnes of flour a day.
How many workers would have been inside?
There would be a miller, possibly two young people,
-apprentices working for him.
And then the miller's wife, as well.
Is this how it would have appeared hundreds of years ago?
Yes, I think so.
There's about half a tonne of flour around us in various bags and sacks.
There would have been much more
because their output would have been higher.
We milled half a tonne of wheat at the weekend.
We mill the barley here for the brewery.
We are the only windmill in the country
that's milling malted barley for a brewery.
Well, I wouldn't be thorough
unless I gave that brewery a good inspection,
so I think it's a good point to leave you.
-Thank you so much for your time.
-An absolute pleasure.
-See you again.
Literally sitting in the shadows of the windmill,
the 8 Sail Brewery has been producing beer
since 2010, and most of its grain is grown locally, malted locally
and milled right next door by the windmill.
'Proprietor Tony Pygott has got me working for my liquid lunch,
'so I'm breaking up hops in preparation for his beer making.'
So, Tony, what would you say would be the one big advantage
of having a windmill next door to you?
It's two businesses that actually use the same basic ingredients.
On one hand, grain being turned into flour.
On the other hand, grain being turned into beer.
We actually produce one beer on the shelf
that is purely made from the grain made next door
and it's named Kibbled, which is coarsely ground.
Now, Tony, you're not going to wait for me to fill this entire bin to give me a pint, are you?
No, probably not. Let's have a look.
-Go on, then, I reckon that's worth a half.
-I'll take you up on that.
Go on, then.
'It takes seven whole days to complete the brewing process,
'Tony has perfected a range of 13 types of beer,
'several of which are award-winning
'and my taste buds can't wait to sample the blonde.'
Oh, that's good, that is. That is REALLY good.
I wish you all the very best with your enterprises,
not only here, but in the windmill itself. I'll see you again.
-Excellent, nice to meet you.
Well, as you can see,
Mel and Peter reacted pretty well to a couple of the properties
I showed them, but I've a sneaky suspicion the Mystery House
might have just edged it.
But has it done enough to warrant a second viewing?
Let's catch up with them and find out.
-Now, then, tell me - do you have a favourite property?
Is it the one I think it is, the Mystery House?
It's quite rural and it's quite isolated,
but, having said that, the house was beautiful,
the price was unbelievable and the views were just gorgeous.
This house seemed to have everything...
but it was almost picked up and put somewhere
that you'd never even considered before.
But if you hadn't picked it up and put it somewhere else,
it would probably be far too expensive.
Yeah. It was still 50,000 light of your maximum figure.
What's your thoughts on that?
Excitement. It would leave lots of money for furnishing,
so we could actually furnish it properly.
When I ask how keen people are on a property,
they normally say - if they're very keen,
"We'd like to go back for a second viewing."
It sounds like your second viewing is quite unique.
It's... Run me through what you'd like to find out more about.
Well, we're going back tomorrow morning,
we've already arranged that, and we need to go back
and talk about the intricacies of actually running the house.
You move fast! Faster than your boat.
That's one part of the second viewing.
The other part is getting there by boat, then, by the sounds of it.
Yes, and that, if we decided to go ahead
-and buy it, would have to be a longer term project.
For once we've sold the house, completed...
Got rid of the house down south,
to actually come up and live on the boat
and find somewhere that we could hire a smaller boat
and take their advice. "Can you get a narrow boat up the drain safely?"
It'll be a real novelty to actually step out of the house
and find that we could put the boat outside.
So we could load it up there and then...
-That's a dream come true, isn't it?
-It's got lots of exciting potential.
Take the waterside location of the house away from it...
-Would you still be interested in it?
The house was absolutely beautiful.
It's the sort of house, as I said, I've always dreamed about owning
-that sort of house, but...
We've always lived in areas where that sort of house would be far too expensive.
And if we have to compromise on where we're living,
to get that sort of house, then that might be the compromise we have to make.
So, what about the county, then?
We were able to look around the Mystery House
primarily because it is in Lincolnshire.
Things are cheaper here.
Are you satisfied that you've chosen the right part of the Midlands?
You could have chosen a few counties.
I just thought it was the flat fenland and, in fact,
there's some beautiful countryside.
I'm chuffed to bits - you liked a few of the houses.
You have a favourite, the Mystery property, that's fantastic.
But I also feel obligated to remind you that
it came with compromises and in your second viewing you should
go in there with your eyes wide open to those compromises -
looking to the future. We looked at it on a pleasant day.
How do feel on a cold winter's night up there?
-I wouldn't go out. I'd stay in.
-Stoke the fire up,
-turn the heating up...
-..and just batten down the hatches.
There you go - sold.
Look, whatever happens tomorrow at your second viewing,
-please let us know, won't you?
-We'd love to.
-Thank you ever so much, we've had a great time.
Well, the fact that Peter and Mel would consider the Mystery House,
even if it wasn't in a waterside location,
shows just how strong a contender it actually is,
but I'm buoyed to hear they're considering going back there
because, yes, it's in a remote location,
but it shows they're taking it very seriously.
So, tomorrow morning, first thing,
they're back there for a second viewing
to find out a few more bits and bobs
about what it's really like to live out there
and I wish them both the very best of luck.
See you next time.
Mel and Peter did revisit the Mystery House
and decided the location was too remote after all,
but the good news is they've since had an offer accepted
on a barn conversion in a Lincolnshire village
and are due to exchange very soon.
If you'd like to escape to the country in England, Scotland, Wales
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Jonnie Irwin is in rural Lincolnshire helping two canal boat enthusiasts find the perfect rural pad to suit their lives on dry land. Away from the house hunt, Jonnie helps to power up one of the county's iconic windmills.