Nicki Chapman is in the Gloucestershire countryside helping a couple with an £850,000 budget find a rural home with land for alpacas.
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Today you find me 13 metres above ground,
on one of the longest tree-top walkways in the UK,
but where can you enjoy this bird's-eye view?
Find out in just a moment.
On today's show, our property search puts things into perspective.
They definitely have focused on the view.
That's just what we're hoping for.
I'm going to have a pound for every time we say "view", I think.
But views aren't everything.
-It's so big.
Today I'm in Gloucestershire,
and this is the fantastic treetop walkway at Westonbirt Arboretum,
home to one of the most important tree collections in the world.
This beautiful bridge, which opened in spring 2016,
meanders along a 300 metre stretch
and provides a unique vantage point
on some of the 15,000 trees here.
Now, the National Arboretum grew from the passion
of Victorian plant collectors
and it is rather fitting that, 180 years later,
the walkway gives us a breathtaking perspective on their legacy.
Gloucestershire is situated in the south-west of England,
and borders the neighbouring counties of Herefordshire and Oxfordshire.
The majority of the Cotswolds falls within Gloucestershire.
Famous for its distinctive honey-coloured towns and villages,
which flourished on the back of the medieval wool trade,
the name refers to the range of rolling hills
that run down the eastern fringe of the county.
Painswick is one of the best preserved towns here,
it's known as the Queen of the Cotswolds.
Equally majestic is the Royal Forest of Dean,
the former hunting ground for Tudor kings.
It was England's first designated National Forest,
an accolade received in 1938.
It's also the birthplace
of acclaimed British dramatist Dennis Potter,
who set many of his plays in the forest.
Gloucestershire's literary giants also include Laurie Lee,
who lived in the village of Slad.
The pub he frequented is a popular watering hole for fans of his books,
including Cider With Rosie.
So, whether it's a literary heritage or historic architecture
that interests you,
it seems Gloucestershire has something for everyone.
Well, who wouldn't be inspired
by this glorious Gloucestershire countryside,
but living here does come with something of a premium.
The average price of a detached home in the county
is just over £361,000.
Now, that's £50,000 above the national figure.
Property hot spots such as the Cotswolds
where second homes are in high demand
really drives up that price tag.
But, today's buyers are after their forever home,
and they want their budget to go the distance.
Susan and Bill have been married for 20 years
after meeting whilst travelling in Tahiti.
They currently live in Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex,
not far from the airport,
but they've been planning a move to a more rural setting for some time.
Stansted Mountfitchet is charming,
it's also becoming increasingly popular.
So there's more and more people in a relatively small area.
We'd like to go out into the country and get some breathing space.
Well, we do like the area,
it's very convenient for London and Cambridge,
but it's time for a change.
Whilst Bill has retired from a career in IT,
and now spends his time running a holiday let
at their home in Stansted,
Susan works full-time as a lawyer in the City of London
but she's become frustrated with her commute
and with her firm offering flexible working,
she's seizing the opportunity.
Now is the right time for us to move to Gloucestershire
because I can work in another office, I can work in Bristol.
I can also work from home.
It's definitely time to move.
Their current home is a period property,
and while it may seem like they've already made
their Escape To The Country,
they are now after a bit less character and a bit more land.
As you may have heard from my accent, I am American, and, as an American,
I thought I'd enjoy a house with a lot of beams,
a lot of olde worlde character.
And I discovered I'm not that keen on olde worlde!
So we need more open-plan space that we can use more conveniently.
We'd like to look out of the windows
and see the countryside and the hills.
As well as its proximity to Susan's Bristol office,
they've also chosen Gloucestershire for its stunning landscapes.
It's such beautiful countryside.
We'd be happy to look out of our windows every day
and see the rolling hills.
And a great place to hike.
In addition to hiking, Bill likes to play golf,
and when she has some spare time, Susan enjoys a spot of gardening
but, when they move, they want to try something completely new.
We want some pasture land, so that we can maybe have some alpacas,
my wife's dream.
There are very easy to maintain, they look amazing,
there are very charming,
and I believe it's going to just look amazing
to have them out in the garden, in the pasture,
in front of the house, and be able to watch them.
For a couple who have lived in different parts of the world,
including six years in Botswana, they are not afraid of the unknown.
In the last 15 years, we've moved ten times,
and we like getting to know a new area, and settling in.
We're hoping it's just a calmer lifestyle.
Sue and Bill would like to be within 45 minutes of Bristol,
where Sue's new office is,
so we'll be looking at properties within easy reach of the M5.
I'm meeting up with them in Gloucestershire, to run over their wish list.
Bill and Susan, I have to say, welcome to beautiful Gloucestershire.
-Why have you decided that this is the county that you want to move to?
We're looking for a particularly beautiful part of the country
and this definitely is.
We want some space, we want some open views
and, if you look behind you, you see what we see, and that's why.
Yeah, gorgeous. And ideally you'd like to commute to Bristol,
not every day but some days, don't you?
-Best of both worlds.
Exactly, that's the plan.
So what about the actual property that you're looking for?
Tell me about that.
Well, we have - not difference of opinion but, perhaps, different priorities.
For me, it's about the view and the land,
and I'm not that interested in an old house,
an old thatched cottage.
That doesn't appeal to me so much,
and that's partly because I'm American.
I thought Americans loved our traditional houses!
That's sort of what we're living in now
and we've decided that doesn't work for me.
-Bill, what's your priorities?
-My priorities, the views, also,
but I want a couple of holiday units,
because we currently have a holiday let in our house
and we'd like to carry on doing that.
We find it's very interesting, meeting lots of different people,
and the income is really useful, as well.
How many bedrooms, ideally, do you want?
Well, there's just the two of us, so we don't need that many bedrooms.
Three would be ideal.
More... It tends to be bigger properties that have these annexes.
-So if we have more, that's a bonus.
Inside, lots of light.
Bill's quite tall, so we'd rather not him banging his head,
-which he currently does.
-Yes, I find that a problem.
-You're good at ducking.
So, lots of light, more open plan than what we have now,
which is a rather small rooms, so it's all boxy,
and we'd like it to be opened up.
If that's something we could do to the property,
we're willing to take on a bit of a project.
Who's going to make the final decision?
You were very honest and said you've got different priorities.
We've both got to love it.
-I like that.
-If we don't, there's no point.
So do remind us of your top budget.
Our top budget is about £850,000.
That is without having to do any work.
-So, ideally, if it needed a little bit of work, under that.
Well we do have three rather splendid properties to show you
in this lovely county, so shall we get started?
-Come on then.
-Great. Thank you.
With the generous maximum budget of £850,000,
Sue and Bill will pay good money to get a property with an amazing view.
The house itself should be light and airy and, ideally, open plan.
It must include three bedrooms and a holiday let,
or the potential to build one, and Sue would like some land,
up to an acre, for alpacas.
We've lined up three properties that best reflect this exacting wish list,
but they won't know how much it will cost them
until the end of each property tour.
The Mystery House could challenge our couple to sacrifice
some of their wish list to get the house of their dreams.
Our property journey starts in the small hamlet of Coopers Hill,
just outside Gloucester,
and close to the M5 for Sue's journey into Bristol.
The closest village to our property is Cranham,
which is tucked away in a wooded valley
and features pretty cottages built from distinctive Cotswold stone.
English composer Gustav Holst lived in the village in the mid-19th century.
His music to the classic Christmas carol In The Bleak Midwinter
is thought to have been inspired by cold snowy days
looking out across the valley from his cottage.
Hard to imagine on a day like today.
Under a ten-minute drive away,
property one has an enviable position situated on the Cotswold way,
and with commanding views across Gloucestershire.
So let me introduce you to our first property
on this elevated position, looking out.
From what we can see, the views are amazing.
-And the house is that lovely Cotswold stone.
This is reclaimed Cotswold stone, it comes from an old barn,
-because this house was only built around 2004.
And it has been designed with that view in mind.
You said to me the views are more important than the house.
Yes. Yes, I did.
But I want the house to work as well for you, so fingers crossed.
Follow me, let's take a step inside.
With the space for cars and a timber garage to the side,
the front of the house is designed with practicalities in mind.
It's when you step inside that you really get a sense of the character
of this building, which takes advantage of the view.
So, this house is on different levels, you've probably guessed that now.
So we actually come downstairs to not only marvel at that view,
which I'm sure we'll be discussing in some detail,
but also introduce you to the kitchen-dining-breakfast room.
We like this a lot. Well, I like it a lot.
-What do you think?
-I think it's very good.
And, as you say, looking at that,
taking advantage of that amazing view.
Our current house, we have no view out the window, from the kitchen,
we always thought we would like to look out and see something beautiful.
-So we're liking the inside so far.
Let's see what you make of next door to our sitting-room.
Again, I think, generous proportions.
This is a lovely room.
Light and airy, isn't it?
Windows on three walls.
They definitely have focused on the view.
That's just what we're hoping for.
I'm going to have a pound for every time we say "view", I think,
because we're going to say it all the time.
Is it going to get obnoxious?
Yeah. We'll have to think of other words.
Yeah, but that's the whole point with this house.
It is a large property,
but it's all about the view.
Yeah. It's beautiful.
As well as this living room,
a spacious garden room lies next door,
which spills out onto a sunny courtyard.
There's also a utility and shower room on this level.
Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, including two good-sized doubles,
at the back of the house.
And, a single with exposed stone.
What's more, there's a study,
but I'm showing Sue and Bill their master suite.
So you've actually got three doubles on this level of this house.
This is the master, so you've got your en-suite, the shower and bath,
wardrobe space, and then the room itself.
Doesn't knock my socks off but it's very nice.
Yeah, I prefer it a little bit larger
and bigger windows, I think,
I suppose you could try and open up the view.
Maybe put in French doors, or something like that.
French doors and a balcony, really.
That would be lovely, wouldn't it?
I'm saving the best till last here,
as we're finishing the tour with that splendid view.
Because the property is perched on a hill, the gardens are terraced,
a patio section leads down to a lawn with well-stocked borders
and further below there's a mini orchard.
A few reservations about the property itself
but I wonder whether this...
-Stunning, absolutely stunning.
-It is absolutely amazing.
Two other things I know you are quite passionate about.
One is the possibility of having an annexe.
You may have noticed to the right of the entrance of the property,
a double garage, wooden structure,
planning permission has been sought
for that to be turned into holiday let accommodation,
has not been granted yet, but the paperwork's gone in.
-We like a project.
-You would be starting from scratch.
There is a great double garage, but there is space there.
The other thing that you two like is land, isn't it?
If you're thinking of grazing land, you could look either to the side,
or, straight in front of us.
Conversations could be had either about leasing that or buying it,
but that is something you would need to look into.
-We're going to try to put a cost, a price,
on our first property, with these spectacular views.
What are you thinking?
I'm going to be a bit cheeky, I'm going to say 795.
Yeah. I would have thought slightly lower than that.
OK. The house has only just gone on the market, the asking price is...
Bill, well done - £750,000.
Good grief. Sounds promising. I think £100,000,
we could make this house to what we wanted it to be,
and do the holiday unit as well.
I'm glad you're both pleasantly surprised.
It's a good start.
And now you know that price, I think you're going to want another look, aren't you?
Have a wander on your own this time,
and don't forget the double garage - annexe potential, holiday let potential, income.
With £100,000 left over,
Sue and Bill seem to have warmed to our first house -
a modern detached property with character features.
An open-plan kitchen-diner and large living room have exceptional views,
and it comes with four bedrooms.
The garage could be turned into a holiday let,
and there are neighbouring fields available to rent for alpacas.
Well, that's a surprise.
Could obviously be the bedroom.
I think this could work really nicely but you'd have to spend some money to do it.
I think this property has great potential,
the price is very reasonable -
750,000, which gives us enough money to change some of the layout
which we don't like in this house, plus to develop the garage,
to be a holiday unit.
The outside area is gorgeous.
I have mixed feelings, I'm not thrilled with the upstairs.
And the annexe obviously will take a bit of work because it's not even
there yet. That would take some consideration for us.
We have mixed views, but the view does sell the house pretty well.
Have we had a good look around for a second time?
-A few concerns when we started but, by the end,
especially with that price, things were falling into place with
our first property. A good start?
Yes, it's a very good start, lots of potential.
Excellent. We do have more to show you, so let's hit the road.
Sue has expressed an interest in keeping alpacas on their land
when she and Bill move to Gloucestershire.
The distinctive woolly creature hails from deepest Peru.
They first arrived in the UK in the 19th century as exotic zoo exhibits
but in the last 20 years
their popularity as pets has grown and there are now estimated to be
around 35,000 alpacas in Britain.
We sent our buyers to meet with alpaca farmers Bridget and her husband
James Tibbs at their farm near Cowley to find out more.
So how did this all happen, running an alpaca farm?
It's a dream. I worked on a city farm...20 - scary - years ago,
and learned to spin and use wool and all sorts of fibres.
I found alpaca and thought, one day, I want alpacas.
We've been here three years now and just love it.
What's the difference between an alpaca and a llama?
Good question. People always think these guys are llamas.
Llamas are a lot bigger
and in their native country, Peru, they are used as pack animals,
so they're beasts of burden.
They do have a coat which you can work with, but it's coarser.
So alpacas are small, highly valued for their fleece.
We're thinking of getting some alpaca when we move this way.
Are they difficult to manage?
How much land do they need?
They are absolutely adorable.
They don't take an awful lot of land.
You could have three or four on an acre quite happily.
-Really, that much?
Although alpacas are hardy creatures, they do require care.
As well as an annual haircut, alpacas need twice-yearly vaccinations
against bacterial diseases, and vitamin D supplements in the winter.
Like any animal, they are demanding when they are little,
and James is on daddy duty.
-Hi, how are you doing?
-Who do we have here?
This is little Melody.
She is having a bit of a bottle feed.
-Would you like to have a go at feeding her?
-I'd love to.
Let me stop her a moment.
Steady, mate. I know, that's not fair, is it?
Take the bottle. What you want to do is stand astride.
Keep your hand around her neck there.
And then lift up and keep the bottle up nice and high for her.
-That's it, there you go.
-And how often do you have to feed her?
We're feeding her two times a day, sometimes three, depending.
We're weighing her at the same time just to see how she goes.
Her mum had mastitis last year,
and she lost some of the quarters off her udder.
They usually have four teats but she only has one so she is only getting
25% of her milk.
And we're backing that up at the moment.
But she's growing well, she's doing really good.
-What is she drinking?
-She's actually drinking goat's milk.
We've experimented a little bit with her. She has a little bit of honey in that, which is a bit of a trick,
cos it sweetens it slightly cos the alpaca milk is slightly sweeter than the goat's milk.
There she goes.
Alpacas can also generate a healthy income.
Their fleeces are often compared in quality to cashmere,
and money can be made by turning the luxury fibre into woollen clothing.
Selling the raw fleece alone can fetch up to £90 per animal,
but spinning the wool into a yarn can reap even bigger rewards.
We've so much fibre that we send the majority away to a mill in Wales
and we have yarn made and produced, and we have rugs and throws.
But I do keep the very nicest, softest cria fleeces to do by hand.
OK. So you need a piece of fibre each.
-The principle of spinning is very, very simple.
You just pull a piece of fibre out, the wheel will twist it,
the wheel will pull it in onto the bobbin and wind it.
Your job is to determine the thickness of the thread you are
-going to spin.
The three alpacas Sue and Bill would like to keep could generate
a kilo and a half of quality wool each year.
-Easily enough for a warm winter jersey.
That's it. Get the foot going.
That's it. You are on a roll. You are on a roll.
Bridget, this has been brilliant.
We have a lot to learn but we have really enjoyed it.
I hope you get alpacas and we'll see you one day back here for
a bit more spinning.
Yeah, we'll look forward to it. Thank you.
For our second property,
we are crossing the River Severn to the southwestern part of the county
and heading to the hamlet of Etloe, a 45-minute journey to Bristol.
Situated near the Severn, the closest village is Blakeney,
which has a range of local amenities,
including a post office and public house.
The nearby Forest of Dean offers plenty of opportunities for walking,
and as one of the last surviving ancient woodlands in England,
it provides a steady stream of tourists for Bill's potential holiday let.
House two is a mile from Blakeney,
situated on a quiet country lane with fabulous views across
the River Severn.
So, brought you down a little country lane.
We are on the other side of the River Severn
for this, our next property.
-It's got more kerb appeal, hasn't it, than the first property?
Any idea how old this property might be?
We think there's an older part and then perhaps a newer addition.
A couple of hundred years old?
Oh, my gosh! That's amazing.
We are stepping back in time, but, Susan, being eagle-eyed,
you have noticed there's been an extension.
I'm a little bit worried about the light but we'll see.
OK. Let's do that.
This former farmhouse is actually Grade II listed but shows how
alterations can be made provided you get the right planning consent
from the local conservation officer.
We are heading to the kitchen in the extended part of the house.
So the kitchen - it does have beams.
They are lovely beams.
-They are nicely...
-A great high ceiling.
Yeah. It's a very attractive kitchen.
Yes, I do like this.
I think if you took the table out, this would be a really nice size.
Yes. And you could easily take it out and perhaps put it next door
because you've got a beautiful garden room there.
-So if you did want to have separate dining, you could use that.
I suppose another option is that we can knock through to the next room.
OK. Let's keep going.
So we are now stepping into the oldest part of the house.
You've got your snug to one side,
dining table on the other. This was the original kitchen.
-It's a lot smaller. I want to show you through here.
Next to the dining room, there is a utility with WC and an office.
Although this older part of the house is darker than the kitchen,
I'm hopeful the living room will allay Sue's fears
about lack of light.
So at the end of the hallway, we have this sitting room.
This is a very pleasant room.
It's obviously smaller than more modern properties but a good size
for an older building, for a much older building.
Yeah, I love the beam and the fireplace.
It's got plenty of windows.
Lots of natural light.
And it's not too twee.
Not too old-fashioned.
-I probably would prefer more open-plan but I don't think it's...
I don't know if it is possible with the way the rooms have been...
Yeah. Let's take you upstairs.
-See what you make of the bedrooms.
Upstairs, there are four bedrooms.
These include a double and a single
both serviced by a family bathroom with roll-top bath.
There's also a large double with exposed ceiling beams
and en-suite shower room with its own staircase
leading up from the snug.
This could serve as the master but the current owners are using the
largest and lightest bedroom at the other end of the house.
is your master bedroom.
Wow! This is beautiful.
This is a great room.
-It's so big.
-I found it, a big room.
Light, airy, good size.
Good views from this one.
Yeah, love the views.
Of course, it's not just finding the right house for our couple.
I'm mindful that Bill is keen on running a holiday let.
And, so far, I've been hiding this from them -
a completely self-contained annexe with two bedrooms and a bathroom,
a fully-fitted kitchen, and a large living room.
-This is actually part of the dairy.
When the owners were given planning permission to put the extension on
and to make changes to the main house, they also converted this.
So surprising, and such big space.
It's been sort of landscaped so that they have a little bit of garden,
but it doesn't infringe on yours.
That's great. That would work really well for us.
Yes, sounds ideal.
And then, of course, there's the land for Sue.
The house sits in an acre plot and although she'd probably want to keep
the lawned garden for herself,
a gate leads to a field which is available to rent for alpacas.
But again, I've saved the best till last.
Perhaps the most important part of this garden is the view
of the River Severn and beyond.
Stunning view. When we were doing research about this area,
we weren't that keen on the Severn view, but it's really lovely.
It's much nicer than we expected.
-How much are we thinking for this property?
What's it on the market for?
I'm going to go a bit higher this time because of the holiday lets.
I will say 800.
-Maybe slightly lower.
-OK, well, the asking price is...
Has come down quite considerably as well because they are very keen
-I suppose it's a fair price, cos there is a lot of house.
OK. Well, now you know that figure,
why don't you have another look around?
I'm sure the holiday lets, you are going to want to explore those for a second time.
And then go back into the house and see what adjustments perhaps you
might make to make it perfect for the two of you.
-Great, thank you.
-Be my guest.
£15,000 below budget,
our second property is a Grade II-listed farmhouse
with parts dating back
to the 16th century, with a new kitchen and garden room
It has four bedrooms and comes with a self-contained annexe with two
bedrooms. There is an acre of garden and options for alpacas and, what's
more, it overlooks the River Severn.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
-Yes, it certainly is.
With the staircase down right into the snug,
it almost feels like a self-contained unit.
Which you could do.
Yes. Lovely en suite, isn't it?
So you could close this off and make this another holiday let.
This is a lovely home.
It's very impressive, the outside, lovely garden.
The views over the Severn.
The garden is beautiful,
but it's not really going to be suitable for the alpacas
if we did decide to do that.
So there are some really positive points.
It's a lovely house overall.
Well, we've certainly had the best weather for house-hunting here in
-Gloucestershire, haven't we?
-It's been beautiful.
So, interest in what we've seen so far?
Yeah. We've been very impressed with the houses.
Hopefully you're going to be even more impressed tomorrow,
-because we've got our Mystery House still to show you.
We are in Gloucestershire with Bill and Sue from Essex,
hoping to find a home with land on an £850,000 budget.
Coming up, the Mystery House reaches new heights...
Wow! This is really surprising.
I have to bend down like this.
Right, OK. Moving on to the next room.
And I get the scoop on one of the county's coolest concoctions.
You're like the Willy Wonka of the ice-cream world.
Although Susan and Bill told me at the start of this search
that the view was more important than the actual house, yesterday it
became clear that the two homes we showed them didn't quite deliver
on the layout, even though they both had exceptional vistas.
So today we're going to shift our focus back to the home itself.
Now, the mystery property is a unique new-build but, as ever,
there is a compromise, and this time, it's the land.
For our final house,
we are hopping back over to the eastern side of the Severn
and heading to the village of Purton.
A 45-minute journey from Bristol,
the quiet village is home to a scattering of pretty cottages
and is one of the last stops along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.
The land between the canal and the river
is known for the Purton Hulks -
the remains of old boats intentionally beached to protect
the banks from erosion.
Our Mystery House is set back from the road,
tucked away behind the parish church
in the heart of the riverside village.
So our final house is of course the Mystery, and here she is.
Wow! This is really surprising in this location. It's beautiful.
Well, this looks really intriguing. Can't wait to have a look.
This brand-new barn-style property has been
built with energy efficiency in mind.
Based on the German Passivhaus design,
the insulation is three times thicker than an average home,
resulting in very low running costs.
With triple-glazed windows on every side,
the main living space is bathed in natural light and takes advantage
of some stunning rural views at the back.
Great use of light, space.
-It's really beautiful.
-And we know it's important that you love
the home as much as the view. We've found that out.
This is all about the home.
So you've got your kitchen...
It's a lovely kitchen. I love the island.
It's beautiful granite.
And you feel like you are outdoors.
-My problem is that I've got to duck to look through the windows.
So you see a big green...
Blob. Yeah. I don't see the vista.
I think it's better for someone of your height, to be honest.
I have to bend down like this.
Right, OK, moving on to the next room.
I'm going to take you in here and then hopefully you will see it
-at its best.
-Oh, very nice.
Simple, but great fireplace.
Yes, I like this area.
So you do have access to your patio area out there,
which is slightly raised, and they've put in this huge pond
which comes from the rainwater off the roof, and you can swim in it.
-So when they have their friends and their children, they all have a dip in the pond.
-And Bill has actually always wanted a pond.
-I have, yes.
-Ah! There we are.
-So that's another tick.
It's working. It's working.
Right, let's head on upstairs.
As well as this huge open-plan entertaining space,
the ground floor also features a bedroom with a wet room en suite
and a laundry area.
Upstairs, there are three further bedrooms,
including two good-sized doubles,
each with their own en-suite bathrooms.
And, finally, a spacious master.
I probably should put Bill this side.
Bill will be able to see my view.
But do take a look at the actual master bedroom as well.
-This is gorgeous.
-Fantastic. I do like this room.
-What a wonderful place to wake up in the morning.
-Good size. I love it.
-Yes, we both do.
-This is beautiful.
-Let's head back downstairs.
The Mystery House seems to be working its magic but, as always,
there is a compromise.
There is less land here than our previous properties,
so they'd have to put their alpacas on neighbouring land.
In addition to the garden at the front of the house,
there's a small lawn to the side which is the location for one
of the outbuildings. The current owners use this as an office.
There's also a separate workshop.
So the final part of the jigsaw are these beautiful outbuildings,
really, aren't they? At the moment, set up as an office.
You've actually got a shower room there, storage, workshop,
whatever you want.
Now, it is the Mystery House.
I'm going to give you a "small C" compromise,
because we don't have holiday lets set up at the moment.
You would need to seek planning permission to change the use of
these buildings and make a few changes, as well,
but there is the potential if you wanted to rent them out.
-Yeah, that's something to think about.
There's a lot to take in with this property, isn't there?
And also now, we've got to try and guess the price.
Shall I go first this time?
If you want.
Maybe around the 800,000 mark.
-I'm going to go much higher.
-I think it's the top of our budget.
It's a brand-new build, I'm going to say 845.
The asking price - and it hasn't been on very long,
it came on at the beginning of the summer - is £770,000.
-That really surprises me.
-It's a good price.
-Have a wander around and I'll find you
-when you are ready.
£80,000 below budget,
our Mystery House is a stylishly modern barn-style property
with eco-friendly credentials.
The main living space is light and open-plan
and there are four bedrooms.
The third of an acre of land features two timber outbuildings
and there are stunning country views to the rear.
A great office, isn't it?
Yeah. But it would need a lot of work for an annexe.
We could keep this for ourselves.
We love the house, we love the space, we love the light,
and the fact that it is eco-friendly is really attractive to both of us.
The location is nice but it doesn't have the views of the first property.
The land is an issue,
because there is not much of a garden.
Is it a compromise too far?
I'm not sure. It's something that we need to discuss because this house
is so beautiful.
I'm just admiring your new neighbours. Look at those cows.
-So have you enjoyed our final property?
Very much so. We love this house.
Well, let's go and have a chat and find out what your next move
-is going to be.
The common land near Stroud in Gloucestershire is graced
by free-roaming cows, who provide a key ingredient to one of
the county's famous delicacies, ice cream.
So it's no surprise that Rodborough Common
has been the historic home to a family-run ice-cream producer
for three generations.
They set up on this very spot back in 1925
and it's now one of the longest-running ice-cream makers
in the country.
I've come to the headquarters to meet Frank Winston,
whose entrepreneurial father started the business nearly 100 years ago.
Well, Frank, lovely to meet you on this gorgeous, sunny day.
-It's grand, isn't it?
how did it all get started? Because it is a family business, isn't it?
My dad started back in 1925.
He was a French polisher by trade and he was made redundant,
so he thought, well, we could sell drinks from here -
a lot of people walking on the common.
So he put a little wooden shack up and started selling drinks.
And that went quite well and so he thought, "How do you make ice cream?"
People were asking for ice cream.
So your father's name was Albert, wasn't it?
-But he had no past experience?
No. He was quite intelligent. He was pretty bright.
-First lot was atrocious, he said, but gradually got better.
And then he bought a motorbike and sidecar and started trading
on the streets around Stroud, in Cirencester.
-I love the fact that the premises is right on the edge of Rodborough Common...
-That's the beauty of it.
-..and you haven't moved.
-So you took over the business.
I took over the business when...
I did my National Service and then I went into partnership with my dad.
And then when my dad retired,
I took over the reins and now my daughter Jane has taken over
the reins and she runs it.
Frank still lives on-site so he can keep a keen eye on the family business.
Although the company has grown since the days of his father's
motorbike and sidecar, it's still small-scale.
Frank's son-in-law, Colin Vear, is general manager
and is showing me around.
What is it about this region that makes it so special?
I think this region more than any other is really well-known for its
dairy products. So, for example, its milk and its cream,
and I think there's just a certain
excellence about the milk and cream from this region.
Strangely enough, you've also got to count the water, as well, from this
There's a certain amount of water in the product, as well.
-It's just got...
-Has that flavour.
I'm not sure exactly what, but it seems to bring it out.
As well as being proud of their heritage, they like to keep things local.
The milk and cream all come from these grazing cows.
They sell from their vintage ice-cream vans on the common,
or direct to nearby pubs and restaurants.
The rest is sold in the shop but I'm meeting Frank's daughter, Jane,
who's now in charge of the business.
-This is the magic.
-I wouldn't mind having a go.
-Do you need an extra pair of hands?
What do I need to remember? What do I need to do?
-OK, you've got your scoops.
-Yes. And what do I offer them? Three different varieties?
-Or they might want a tub.
-These are all the traditional flavours but you
go out there and do some weird and wacky ones.
We do. We do rhubarb crumble, we've done gooseberry.
We are about to try a liquorice and blackcurrant.
You are like the Willy Wonka of the ice-cream world.
We've got some customers coming.
Keep an eye on me. I'll give it my best, ready?
Here we go. Big smile.
This isn't the first time I've sold ice cream.
1986, Herne Bay Bandstand - I remember it well.
You've picked a perfect day for an ice cream, haven't you?
I used to live here and I grew up with 99s.
If you still do a 99, I'd like a 99.
-So that's vanilla?
If I can tempt you with a cone, or did you want...?
-I have to have a cone.
-And which one would you like?
-Which one would you like?
-That one will do good.
-So we are going to have vanilla.
-A little more ice cream on it.
-I'm going to put it into a little ball.
Maybe a little bit of a bigger ball.
I'm thinking of her profits.
There we are. Enjoy.
-Nice to meet you.
'Back in the summer of '86, I ate more ice cream than I sold.'
-Am I allowed a double one?
-You are allowed a double one.
'And it seems old habits die hard.'
Total job satisfaction.
Well, we finished on a high but has the Mystery House done enough
to convince our couple to move to Gloucestershire?
Let's go and ask them.
Well, Bill and Susan, we started off this house-hunt with a very generous
budget and a very generous wish-list, didn't we?
-And how have we done?
You did well. And hitting our wish list -
maybe not all on the same property.
But bits and pieces of all of it, you've got it.
So, Bill, have we got close with any of our properties?
Yeah, all three properties were very nice and they had lots of positive
points. But I think, overall, my favourite was probably number three.
Was it? The Mystery House?
-The house itself was great.
Almost perfect. The light,
the care that they had taken in putting it together,
the materials they used.
-It was great.
-It did work its magic but do you love it enough that you
might consider a second viewing?
I don't think so.
We do love the house but there are too many compromises for us.
It's a lovely house and I'm sure it will be snapped up pretty quickly.
If I could pick up the Mystery House and take it somewhere where it had
perhaps more impressive views...
If you moved it to where the first property was...
-Yeah. That would have been...
-I think that would have been perfect.
-Yes, that would have been our dream house, I think.
Yes. Because of the land that you are after, this pasture land,
and it's not half an acre, it's sort of one or two acres,
with the holiday lets, and I'm going to say, a big home...
You didn't want a big home, but boy, you like space, you like size.
We have learnt that we need to increase the budget
if we get the house of our dreams.
-Yeah. Or we give up something and that may be the pasture land
and sadly the alpacas.
-The alpacas have got to go.
-I'll just go and visit them.
Well, all the best when you do make the move and thank you, both,
-very much indeed.
-Thank you so much for this.
-It's been so good.
-Yes, we had a brilliant time.
So, in the end, the Mystery House was a compromise too far.
However, what this week has shown Bill and Susan is, to achieve
everything they want to the standard they desire,
they are either going to have to look at that rather generous budget
all over again or reduce their wish-list.
So we haven't secured a sale over the last few days but I'm pleased
we've given them clarity, what their priorities actually are,
and hopefully they'll be making a move very soon.
So that's it from me from Gloucestershire.
See you again next time on Escape To The Country.
If you would like to escape to the country in England, Scotland,
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Nicki Chapman is in the Gloucestershire countryside helping a couple with an £850,000 budget find a rural home with holiday-let potential and land for alpacas.
While in the county, Nicki visits Rodburgh Common and gets the scoop on a family who have been making ice cream there for nearly a century.