Shropshire Escape to the Country


Shropshire

Jules Hudson is in the Shropshire countryside with a couple of parents who have £575,000 to spend on a home for them and their young son.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Escape To The Country.

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Now, this beautiful estate behind me has been home to the same family

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for some 800 years.

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These days, not only is it a busy working farm,

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it's also something of a living museum.

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So, where have we come to

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to find this beautiful vision of the past?

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Well, join me in just a moment and I'll tell you.

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On today's search, a couple with differing tastes.

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I can't say I'm feeling dreadfully comfortable with it,

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-to be honest with you.

-I mean, it appeals to me.

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I like the natural sort of look to it.

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Excellent, I have an ally.

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That's all I needed. We're going to have to work on him.

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Yeah. Come on.

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But can we find the perfect property to please them both?

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Beautiful. Really beautiful.

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I... I'm feeling a bit emotional.

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THEY LAUGH

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Good!

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Well, today we are in Shropshire, and this beautiful Grade II star,

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no less, Elizabethan mansion

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is at the heart of what is now the 1,500-acre

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Acton Scott estate.

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But it was back in 1974 that a member of the Acton family

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sowed the seeds of an idea as to whether or not it was possible

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to farm using 19th-century tools. Now, later on in the show,

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I'll be back here finding out a little bit more of the history

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of the estate and the house,

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and trying my hand at a bit of good old-fashioned

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Victorian farmyard maintenance. But in the meantime, well,

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here's example of some of other historic highlights

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that Shropshire has to offer.

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On the border of North Wales,

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landlocked Shropshire is one of the largest counties in England

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and makes up part of the West Midlands.

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The River Severn, England's longest river at 220 miles,

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runs through the centre of the county,

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from its source in the Welsh mountains and, en route,

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curling around the county town of Shrewsbury.

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The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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covers a quarter of the county.

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Its landscape is made up of peaks and valleys,

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a diverse geological bedrock rich with wildlife.

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Scattered across the south of Shropshire

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are pretty villages and ancient market towns.

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From Cleobury Mortimer, the second smallest in the county

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known for its church's crooked timber spire,

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to Ludlow, its magnificent,

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imposing castle perched high above the River Teme.

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Much of the town's architectural heritage remains intact,

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with around 500 listed buildings.

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It also plays host to a celebrated food and drink festival each year.

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With a wealth of walking opportunities and nature to take in,

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along with historic towns and villages to explore,

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it's no wonder Shropshire has recently been acknowledged

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as one of the happiest places to live in the UK.

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Now, Shropshire's diverse property market and relatively low population

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density have long made it popular amongst rural property shoppers,

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and it does afford some pretty good value for money

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when you consider that the average price

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of a detached homes here is currently just shy of

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£277,000, some £42,000 below the national figure.

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All good news for today's buyers,

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who are very keen to make it their new home.

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Lana and Ashley got married 13 years ago,

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before moving from North London to Little Berkhamsted, near Hertford,

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where they currently live along with seven-year-old son Mallory.

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I've always lived on the outskirts of London.

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We wanted to go to a more rural location,

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which Little Berkhamsted has been for the last 12 years,

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but it's not as rural as we would like.

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It's a little bit of countryside, with Hertford, Hatfield,

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Welwyn Garden City all dotted around us.

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And it is quiet, but we want a bit more countryside than we've got

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at the moment.

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This close-knit family spend most of their free time exploring the

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great outdoors in the UK and abroad.

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We've talked a lot about moving,

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and I suppose it's the right time for us to move now,

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because we want to move before Mallory gets much older,

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because, you know, once he leaves primary school,

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it becomes that much more difficult to move children.

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And it's just sort of come to the forefront now, really,

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where we thought, "Right, we either do it now or we don't do it."

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So, they've decided to set up home

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in one of England's most rural counties.

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We know Shropshire sort of reasonably well.

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We've been on holiday there a few times.

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And it's just field after field after field.

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And this is what we like - the peace, the quiet,

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and we just want more of it.

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I'd be quite happy if it was just us in a house in the middle of

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-absolutely nowhere.

-If it was up to you,

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-you'd moved to the Outer Hebrides!

-Yeah. Yeah.

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A move to the countryside means leaving family and friends behind,

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but they will be taking a few familiar faces with them.

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We've got two dogs, English bull terriers.

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We've got Millie and Wendy.

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We've got a tortoise called Cotton, a budgie called Hooey,

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and two goldfish who are called Keswick and Goldie.

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All named by Mallory, not a lot to do with us.

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As you can tell by the names!

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They are hoping a slower pace of life away from the capital

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will be good for the whole family.

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In an attempt to gain a better work/life balance,

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Lana and Ashley are also considering career changes.

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I've been a solicitor for 18 years.

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My job is quite time-consuming and quite stressful.

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I'd like to go into teaching

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so that I've got the holidays to spend with Mallory.

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I've changed job types a couple of times.

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I'm quite sort of...

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-Flexible.

-Yeah.

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Yeah.

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I think I've realised that if you're not that keen, or not that happy,

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then you can change.

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They both know and like the market town of Ludlow in the south of the

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county, so they would like to search for properties within a 15-mile

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radius of it, but are happy to cross

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the county border into Herefordshire.

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So, it's time to learn more about their property brief.

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Well, Lana, Ashley, welcome to Shropshire.

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-How about this?

-Yeah.

-We've got some weather, we've got some countryside.

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It's the start of your Escape To The Country.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-Beautiful, isn't it?

-Fantastic.

-Give us an idea

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of the spec of this new property

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that's been floating around your mind, Lana?

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We're looking for something probably with about four bedrooms, detached.

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A nice sort of family dining, kitchen room, you know, family room,

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-so that we can all sort of be together.

-Yeah.

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And then a playroom for Mallory would be ideal.

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What about outside space, Ashley?

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Well, at the moment, we've got a reasonable garden,

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but it's quite modest.

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We've seen properties that have got a paddock, for instance, which...

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Not sure what I'd do with something like that, but, you know,

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the possibilities and options are there for things.

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So, we're not after acres, as such,

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but as much space as the budget will allow.

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-Yeah.

-What are we thinking in terms of style?

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Because obviously the countryside has many different types of property

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in it, predicated, I suppose, to older, more characterful

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ideas. Why do you fancy?

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That's us down to a T.

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We like things with a bit of, you know, character to them.

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Bit quirky. Something a bit different.

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So, we know what you're after, but how much are you planning to spend?

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What's the budget, Ashley?

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We have a budget of up to around 575.

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Well, you're going to put me on my mettle this week,

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because you used to be an estate agent, didn't you?

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Yes. It's a few years ago now.

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I'm used to looking around houses.

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Yeah, well, likewise.

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So, I think we should have some fun this week.

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Got three to show you.

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A fairly good budget to play with.

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And some weather. How about that?

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-Yes.

-It's not raining. Come on, let's see what we can find you.

-OK.

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For the maximum budget of £575,000,

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Ashley and Lana are after a detached character property with four

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bedrooms, a large family kitchen, and a playroom for Mallory.

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They'd also like a good-sized garden and, ideally, some extra land.

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We've scoured the Shropshire countryside in search

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of their perfect home and have come three exciting options.

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They won't find out the price until the end of each tour,

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and for our final property, our Mystery House,

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I'll be luring them into unknown territory.

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Our first property is just outside Church Stretton,

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the only town within the Shropshire Hills

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Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Set in a valley surrounded by lush rolling hills,

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Church Stretton was the first town in the West Midlands to be awarded

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Walkers Are Welcome status in 2008,

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its location making it an ideal starting point for the numerous

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hiking and cycling trails in the area.

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The Tudor cottages and Georgian townhouses in its centre

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are home to a variety of independent shops, cafes and delis.

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And there's a well-regarded primary school in the town.

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The house I want Ashley and Lana to see is 2.5 miles away,

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occupying an elevated position in a quiet valley.

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Here we are. This is property number one.

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What do you think of that, then, Lana?

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Yeah, great. Looks really impressive from the outside, doesn't it?

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The aspect of this, I really like.

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I mean, if you want to be immersed in the rolling countryside of

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Shropshire, you know, this is it.

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-Yeah, it's beautiful.

-It does look nice, and I love the approach.

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-It's so peaceful.

-Well, the lane...

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You know, you'll probably be the only people that use it,

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-to be honest with you.

-Yeah, it's so quiet.

-One thing it does have,

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which I know you're going to love, is a kitchen/diner.

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-Excellent.

-Ah.

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That's me.

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Come and have a look.

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This property was built in the 1930s

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but benefits from a side extension added 20 years ago,

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which has transformed it into a very substantial family home.

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It's also been modernised inside to create a layout that I think

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really works. I'm taking them in via the side entrance,

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into the new extension.

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Well, we'll start with this bit.

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OK.

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Now, the current owners use this as their sort of day room, really,

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coming in and out of the garden, and so on.

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And then through there is the utility room, downstairs loo, etc.

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I was thinking maybe...playroom.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely.

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And he's got the indoor/outdoor as well.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-It has created a lot more space,

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which has been put to good use in here.

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-There we are.

-Oh, wow.

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That is the kitchen/diner.

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Gosh. It's a big space.

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-Oh, that's nice.

-Isn't it?

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-Big space.

-Yeah. I'm really keen to have us kind of all together.

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Whether we use it as a dining/breakfast room,

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or get a sofa in here somewhere...

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-Yeah.

-Family room.

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-Great size.

-Oh, yeah.

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-So, happy?

-Yeah, fabulous.

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-Brilliant.

-Going to buy it?

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We'll have to wait and see, won't we?

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This one really does offer everything on their wish list.

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Next door, there's a large family living room,

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and upstairs are the four bedrooms they asked for,

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including a single room currently used as a study and three doubles,

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the largest taking up the first floor of the extension.

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So, this is the master suite.

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You've got a dressing area here with an airing cupboard,

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and then you got all of this...

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-Oh, wow.

-Complete with shower en-suite.

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That's fabulous. That's a big room, isn't it?

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-That's a room and a half.

-Nice, isn't it?

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-Yeah, lovely. Really nice.

-Strangely,

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the current owners don't use this as their master bedroom,

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they keep it for their guests.

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-They're too kind.

-Way too kind, I think.

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-You're surprised?

-Yeah, I'm surprised how big it is.

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I wasn't expecting a bedroom quite as big as this.

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Ours at home isn't that small, and we thought that was big, but this is bigger.

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Well, look, the next thing to look at is the garden.

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Come and have a look and see what they've done with it.

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Outside, the extensive landscaped grounds were once used

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as a market garden, growing produce to sell in Church Stretton.

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To the side of the property, there are tiered flowerbeds,

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and a seating area making the most of the beautiful valley views.

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So, here we are at the top of the garden.

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And this is your paddock, complete with lawn mowers.

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-Yeah.

-I like the neighbours.

-They look after that bit for you.

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Well, they do. The current owner borrows these off a local farmer.

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So, yeah, I'm sure that arrangement could be continued.

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-Sounds like a plan.

-It's nice having that in your back garden, isn't it?

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From our point of view, it's unusual.

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So, we've set the scene, but the final bit, of course,

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is now to think about its market value, Mr Estate Agent,

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-or former estate agent.

-Oh, no.

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So, you can go first on this one.

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I didn't work out here, I worked in London.

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-Yeah.

-A bit different.

-I get the feeling is going to be

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middle 500 range. 550-ish.

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-Something of that nature.

-550-ish, yep.

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560?

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560.

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Are we being hopeful?

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Actually, no, you're being very professional

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in the role of an estate agent,

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because you're absolutely right, mate, it's £550,000.

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-It can only go downhill from here.

-Well, it's kind of does, actually.

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But, yeah, 550.

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I'm going to give you a little bit of time to go and explore

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-this garden in particular.

-OK.

-Off you go.

-That's great, thank you.

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-Smashing.

-As you said, it's all downhill from here.

-Here we go.

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Try not to roll.

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Comfortably within budget,

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this extended four-bedroom property has the large family kitchen Ashley

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and Lana wanted and a great playroom with garden access for Mallory,

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ensuring the living room remains a toy-free zone.

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The one-acre plot includes a large garden and a separate paddock,

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plus it's just 15 miles to Ludlow.

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That's some view.

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Yeah.

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Yeah. What you think of the slope?

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It's not your traditional, obviously, sort of garden, you know?

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Flat sort of surface area.

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But...I like it, it's different.

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The house has probably got slightly less character than we're used to

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at home, but it works.

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All the spaces work. They've done a lovely job with it.

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The extension here adds a lot.

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It makes a big, big difference to the house.

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So, overall, it's really nice.

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Only slight downside is the sort of sloping nature of the garden.

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A bit more difficult for maintenance.

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It's got a lot of interest to it for Mallory,

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lots of little nooks and crannies and places for him to hide.

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And he'd love the sheep.

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That's an added bonus.

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-How are we doing, then? BOTH:

-Good.

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Yes. We had a good look round, thank you.

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I think, all in all - pretty garden, pretty house, pretty good start.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah, it has been.

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-It has been.

-Hungry?

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-Oh, yes.

-Lunchtime.

-Come on, then.

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Shropshire's geology is regarded as being more varied than any other in

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Britain. Its landscape represents 11 out of the 12 geological periods

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and features some of the oldest rock formations in existence.

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In fact, the world's oldest known complete fossil was discovered just

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outside Church Stretton.

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As Lana and Ashley love spending time outdoors with their son,

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we sent them to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre to meet

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learning officer Laura Harvey to try out a recent phenomenon

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that has encouraged people all over the world

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to get out and explore their local landscape.

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Erm, so what goes on at the Discovery Centre?

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Our main aims are

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to encourage visitors that come to the centre

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and schools to get out and about in the countryside,

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and one of our main activities here at the centre is geocaching.

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And what is geocaching?

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It's kind of 21st-century treasure hunting.

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You'd need a smartphone or a GPS unit.

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You can download coordinates to caches, which are boxes

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that have been hidden,

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and the idea is you go and find these using your GPS unit,

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and you take something along with you that you can pop into the box,

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and you also take a piece of treasure out.

0:16:150:16:17

So, the beauty of it is actually finding the cache,

0:16:170:16:19

but also doing a bit of this treasure hunting along the way.

0:16:190:16:24

Geocaching started back in 2000 when,

0:16:240:16:26

after a significant advance in GPS technology,

0:16:260:16:30

an American computer consultant decided to test its strength

0:16:300:16:33

by hiding a package in the woods and posting the GPS coordinates online.

0:16:330:16:38

His only instruction - take some stuff, leave some stuff.

0:16:380:16:41

Within three days, the items in his box had been changed,

0:16:410:16:45

and geocaching was born.

0:16:450:16:47

So, why is it called geocaching, Laura?

0:16:480:16:50

OK. Two parts of the word.

0:16:500:16:52

Geo for the Earth,

0:16:520:16:54

and then the cache part comes from the French word cacher, to hide.

0:16:540:16:59

As well as being a geologist's paradise,

0:16:590:17:01

Shropshire's rural landscape makes it perfect for geocaching.

0:17:010:17:05

Within ten miles of the Discovery Centre,

0:17:050:17:08

there are over 40 caches to be found.

0:17:080:17:10

OK. So, we're going this way.

0:17:100:17:12

Off we go.

0:17:120:17:14

With Laura's guidance,

0:17:140:17:15

Lana and Ashley are going to be finding their way to one of the most

0:17:150:17:18

visited, on a key site of geological interest.

0:17:180:17:21

This is an interesting place to stop.

0:17:230:17:25

This is part of our Secret Stones trail.

0:17:250:17:27

So, how old you think they are, then?

0:17:270:17:28

I suspect you're going to tell us millions.

0:17:280:17:32

Quite a few million years.

0:17:320:17:34

-Really?

-340 million years, to be precise.

0:17:340:17:37

This particular rock is Carboniferous limestone,

0:17:370:17:42

and that was formed by the bodies of lots of sea creatures,

0:17:420:17:46

millions of years ago, building up

0:17:460:17:48

on the bottom of the sea as sediment.

0:17:480:17:50

This is a fantastic way of knowing that, once upon a time,

0:17:500:17:54

Shropshire actually lay under a shallow sea.

0:17:540:17:57

So, shall we see if we're going in the right direction?

0:17:570:18:00

-Yeah.

-OK.

-Yeah.

-Off this way.

-Yeah.

0:18:000:18:04

The great thing about geocaching is that it's a low-cost activity that

0:18:040:18:08

appeals to the whole family.

0:18:080:18:10

And it really is as simple as it looks.

0:18:100:18:12

You can explore the local landscape

0:18:120:18:14

on foot, by car, or by public transport.

0:18:140:18:17

Lana and Ashley have arrived at Bury Ditches, eight miles away,

0:18:180:18:21

the site of an Iron Age hill fort dating back to 500 BC, and today,

0:18:210:18:26

a popular viewpoint looking out across the Shropshire Hills.

0:18:260:18:29

-Anything?

-I think that's it. I think we've found it.

0:18:320:18:34

-Have you got it?

-Well done.

0:18:340:18:36

-Excellent.

-Ah, here it is.

0:18:360:18:38

-OK. We've got official geocaching box.

-Oh, a proper box.

0:18:380:18:42

Yep.

0:18:420:18:44

Ah, here we go. Look what's inside.

0:18:440:18:46

-Oh, right.

-Lots of little trinkets that people have left.

0:18:460:18:50

And...

0:18:500:18:52

-That's the logbook to sign and say you've been here today.

-OK.

0:18:520:18:55

Say we've found it.

0:18:550:18:57

-Excellent.

-And you leave that in the box,

0:18:570:19:00

and a little gift of your own in the box.

0:19:000:19:03

Leave the pencil for the next person.

0:19:030:19:04

That's it. And are you going to take something

0:19:040:19:07

-yourselves?

-Oh, wow.

-Looks like a little hacky sack.

0:19:070:19:10

Somebody's visited all the way from the Netherlands, maybe.

0:19:100:19:13

-Wow.

-Mallory will like that.

-That will be great.

0:19:130:19:15

The possibilities of geocaching are far reaching,

0:19:150:19:18

with around 2 million hidden caches worldwide,

0:19:180:19:21

and 9 million registered users.

0:19:210:19:23

-Make sure it's hidden.

-OK.

0:19:230:19:25

We'd better find our way back.

0:19:250:19:28

But with plenty to discover right here in Shropshire,

0:19:280:19:30

Lana and Ashley won't have a shortage of places to explore

0:19:300:19:33

with their son Mallory when they finally make their move.

0:19:330:19:36

Back on the search,

0:19:420:19:43

we're crossing the county border

0:19:430:19:45

into Herefordshire for our next property,

0:19:450:19:47

which is in the rural surroundings of Bircher Common.

0:19:470:19:50

It's just seven miles from Ludlow

0:19:500:19:52

and less than three miles to the nearest primary school.

0:19:520:19:55

The village of Yarpole is just a few minutes away by car,

0:19:550:19:59

where there's a pub

0:19:590:20:00

and a church which, uniquely, also houses a full-time village shop.

0:20:000:20:05

And even closer to home is the rather lovely Croft Castle.

0:20:050:20:09

Now, you are probably wondering

0:20:110:20:13

what we are doing here. There's been a castle here in one way or another

0:20:130:20:17

for 1,000 years.

0:20:170:20:18

It's now in the care of the National Trust.

0:20:180:20:21

Thousands of acres for you to explore here,

0:20:210:20:23

with the family and with the dogs and so on.

0:20:230:20:25

I think this is a great place to have on your doorstep.

0:20:250:20:28

-Yes, fabulous. A great day out.

-Oh, definitely. Yeah, yeah.

0:20:280:20:30

So, I think we should go and find you something to buy because, sadly,

0:20:300:20:33

this is no longer for sale. SHE SCOFFS

0:20:330:20:35

-But this one is.

-Just missed it.

-Can't have it all.

0:20:350:20:38

The house we are seeing is just on the edge of the Croft Castle estate,

0:20:400:20:44

and what our last property may have lacked in period character,

0:20:440:20:47

this one certainly makes up for.

0:20:470:20:50

What about this, then?

0:20:500:20:51

Hm. Different. Yeah. Really different.

0:20:510:20:54

-This is old. Compared to the last one.

-This is really old.

0:20:540:20:58

This, historically, was an old malt house.

0:20:580:21:01

-Oh. Oh, right.

-Built about 1570, '75ish.

0:21:010:21:06

With some lovely views out as the hill slopes away behind it.

0:21:060:21:10

If you want something that's got a real sense of history about it

0:21:100:21:14

and is genuinely quirky...

0:21:140:21:15

-You did say you wanted that.

-I did, yes.

0:21:150:21:18

..this could well be it.

0:21:180:21:20

-What do you think, Lana?

-I like it. Yeah, initial impressions are great.

0:21:200:21:23

Well, let's test your quirky scale and see how far up it's going to go.

0:21:230:21:28

Come on.

0:21:280:21:29

This property really is one of a kind.

0:21:300:21:33

Originally a malt house supplying beer and cider to Croft Castle,

0:21:330:21:37

the current owners have transformed the ground floor from a windowless

0:21:370:21:40

undercroft into a surprisingly light, modern living space.

0:21:400:21:44

So, what you think of this as an entrance hallway, then?

0:21:460:21:48

It surprised me slightly, looking at the age of the outside.

0:21:480:21:51

-Yeah.

-Immediately more modern than I was expecting it to be.

0:21:510:21:55

I wasn't expecting this inside.

0:21:550:21:56

And you won't be expecting what's through here either.

0:21:560:21:59

THEY LAUGH

0:21:590:22:02

There we are.

0:22:020:22:03

-See what I mean?

-Just full of surprises.

0:22:030:22:05

Isn't it?

0:22:050:22:07

That door apparently came from

0:22:070:22:10

-the castle.

-Oh, really?

0:22:100:22:12

-Great.

-This is a nice open...

0:22:120:22:15

-..open space, isn't it?

-There's fabulous features in there.

0:22:150:22:17

I mean, yeah, it's really fun.

0:22:170:22:19

And behind all this lot, there's loads of steel

0:22:190:22:21

tying it all together.

0:22:210:22:22

-Is there?

-So it's not going anywhere.

0:22:220:22:25

-Not least because of those.

-I did notice that, yes.

0:22:250:22:29

Come on, look, you can hug a tree on the way round.

0:22:290:22:31

You can't do that in every living room, can you?!

0:22:310:22:34

Although at first Lana and Ashley were thrown by the age of this one,

0:22:360:22:40

they now seem pleasantly surprised by the space on offer.

0:22:400:22:43

So, once you finish with the tree, this is where you can end up,

0:22:440:22:47

-in the kitchen. BOTH UNIMPRESSED:

-OK.

0:22:470:22:51

Now, this is the but, isn't it?

0:22:510:22:53

-Yeah.

-OK, come on, let's have it, then, Ashley.

0:22:530:22:56

Erm... OK, it is a kitchen/breakfast room,

0:22:560:22:59

but not kind of what I had in my mind's eye.

0:22:590:23:02

I like the space.

0:23:020:23:03

It's not massive. It's not a classic kitchen/diner, I suppose,

0:23:030:23:07

in the modern sense.

0:23:070:23:08

-No.

-I can't say I'm feeling dreadfully comfortable with it,

0:23:080:23:12

-to be honest with you.

-I mean, it appeals to me.

0:23:120:23:15

I like the, you know, sort of natural look to it.

0:23:150:23:18

Excellent. I have an ally.

0:23:180:23:19

That is all I needed. Right, we're going to have to work on him.

0:23:190:23:21

Yeah. Come on.

0:23:210:23:23

Downstairs, there's no obvious playroom as such,

0:23:250:23:28

but with a total of five bedrooms upstairs,

0:23:280:23:30

including a single and three good-sized doubles,

0:23:300:23:33

it offers plenty of space for Mallory and his toys.

0:23:330:23:36

And then finally, this is yours.

0:23:390:23:43

SHE CHUCKLES

0:23:430:23:45

-OK.

-It's a curious arrangement, this one, though, because it...

0:23:450:23:47

You've got the dressing area through there,

0:23:470:23:49

the shower room that goes with this room,

0:23:490:23:51

then that door leads you into one of the five bedrooms

0:23:510:23:55

that is on offer up here. So, the layout is by no means conventional.

0:23:550:24:01

-Is it working?

-If I'm honest, probably not quite.

0:24:010:24:07

I appreciate it for what it is, and the age of the house,

0:24:070:24:12

and I love all the woodwork and so forth,

0:24:120:24:14

I just feel a little bit hemmed in.

0:24:140:24:16

Interesting. Lana?

0:24:160:24:18

Erm... Again, I think the period features are brilliant,

0:24:180:24:21

sort of a slice of history.

0:24:210:24:22

I mean, it's fabulous. The lounge, you know, is fabulous.

0:24:220:24:26

Absolutely beautiful space.

0:24:260:24:27

But it's lost a bit upstairs for us, hasn't it?

0:24:270:24:31

OK. Right, well, I'm not going to give up on this one just yet.

0:24:310:24:34

We have yet to really explore the gardens and talk about the price.

0:24:340:24:38

-Yeah.

-And money does talk, sometimes, doesn't it?

0:24:380:24:41

It might talk and persuade you.

0:24:410:24:42

Who knows?

0:24:420:24:43

Outside, the property sits in the centre of its plot,

0:24:440:24:47

with a variety of garden areas surrounding it.

0:24:470:24:50

There's an outhouse currently used as a workshop to the side

0:24:500:24:54

and a patio to the rear which extends to a large area of lawn.

0:24:540:24:58

Well, I did promise you a view, and there it is, look.

0:24:580:25:01

-Just rolling fields. Lovely.

-A garden of two halves, really.

0:25:010:25:04

This is the most open, of course, with the views.

0:25:040:25:06

-Yeah.

-Perhaps the most amenable to kick a ball around with Mallory,

0:25:060:25:10

or whatever.

0:25:100:25:11

Yeah. A bit flatter. Yeah.

0:25:110:25:13

So, let's get down to the brass tacks of this one, then,

0:25:130:25:16

-and talk about the price.

-Mm!

-Good luck.

0:25:160:25:19

SHE LAUGHS

0:25:190:25:21

-540?

-540?

0:25:210:25:23

-Yeah, OK.

-My head is kind of saying 495.

0:25:230:25:27

-495. An optimistic...

-Miles off, probably.

0:25:270:25:31

However, Lana, you have done very well, actually.

0:25:310:25:35

It's 535.

0:25:350:25:37

-OK, OK.

-OK.

0:25:370:25:39

Which leaves you a fair chunk left over

0:25:390:25:42

to make a few adjustments to it.

0:25:420:25:45

-Yeah.

-Look, go and have a look around.

0:25:450:25:47

The house is yours for as long as you need it,

0:25:470:25:49

and I will come and find you a little bit later.

0:25:490:25:51

-Lovely.

-Off you go.

-Thanks.

0:25:510:25:53

Under budget, this converted malt house is packed

0:25:550:25:58

with the quirky period features

0:25:580:26:00

Lana wanted, and has five bedrooms.

0:26:000:26:03

The kitchen may not quite be the modern hub of the home

0:26:030:26:05

Ashley had in mind, but it is a good size and, outside,

0:26:050:26:08

there's a huge garden for Mallory and the dogs.

0:26:080:26:12

I liked the character, quirkiness of it, and the appeal of where it is.

0:26:120:26:16

It's fabulous. As much as I might appreciate it for what it is,

0:26:160:26:19

and its quirky nature, its, you know, history,

0:26:190:26:22

it's got to be somewhere that we're both happy with.

0:26:220:26:25

As nice as it is, and where it is is fantastic,

0:26:250:26:29

I'm just not feeling it.

0:26:290:26:31

I think, an instructive day, but that is it.

0:26:310:26:35

Ludlow, famous foodie capital of England, is just down the road,

0:26:350:26:38

but it also does a very good pint.

0:26:380:26:41

-Come on.

-Off we go.

0:26:410:26:42

We're in Shropshire with Ashley and Lana from Hertfordshire

0:26:540:26:57

who are hoping their maximum budget of £575,000

0:26:570:27:01

will buy them a rural property with the perfect blend of character,

0:27:010:27:05

charm and contemporary style.

0:27:050:27:07

So far, though, impressing ex-estate agent Ashley

0:27:070:27:10

has proved a tough task.

0:27:100:27:13

But coming up, well, there's a first time for everything.

0:27:130:27:16

Please tell me this is good enough.

0:27:160:27:17

It's nice. I didn't ever really feel that way about a property.

0:27:170:27:22

And later, we turn back the clock as I find myself on a 19th-century

0:27:220:27:26

working farm.

0:27:260:27:28

That's hot. Water.

0:27:290:27:31

-You don't get long, do you?

-No.

0:27:330:27:35

Well, yesterday's property certainly elicited some pretty extreme

0:27:370:27:40

responses from both Ashley and Lana, both for and against.

0:27:400:27:45

So, as we head into a final day of house-hunting,

0:27:450:27:47

I think it's fair to say that our house search

0:27:470:27:50

has still got some way to go.

0:27:500:27:52

So, what can we possibly conjure for our final offering from Shropshire's

0:27:520:27:56

sumptuous property market?

0:27:560:27:57

Well, I think at this stage,

0:27:570:27:59

it is obvious they don't want

0:27:590:28:00

a project or any kind of building work,

0:28:000:28:02

regardless of how small,

0:28:020:28:04

but they do want something

0:28:040:28:05

with lots of character and lots of space around it,

0:28:050:28:09

so that is exactly what I am going to show them.

0:28:090:28:11

Let's just hope they like it.

0:28:110:28:13

What would it take you to spend every penny of your budget?

0:28:180:28:21

Erm... It would definitely have to be absolutely spot on.

0:28:220:28:25

-In terms of finish, location, space.

-Size.

0:28:250:28:29

Yeah, we're not frightened to do so, so long as...

0:28:290:28:33

..we're getting pretty much what we want.

0:28:330:28:35

I'll hold them to that,

0:28:380:28:40

because for our Mystery House, we're breaking out of the boundaries

0:28:400:28:43

of our search area and heading north of the Shropshire Hills

0:28:430:28:46

to the small village of Fitz.

0:28:460:28:48

Two miles away, in Bomere Heath,

0:28:480:28:50

facilities include a number of shops,

0:28:500:28:53

a hairdresser's, a tennis club, and a well-regarded primary school,

0:28:530:28:56

which should appeal to our buyers.

0:28:560:28:59

Back in Fitz, across the road from the beautiful 18th-century redbrick

0:28:590:29:03

village church, we find our Mystery House.

0:29:030:29:06

-There we are.

-Wow.

0:29:070:29:09

That's not what I was expecting.

0:29:090:29:10

-What do you think of it?

-First impressions are great.

-Yes.

0:29:100:29:14

-Lovely.

-Attractive.

0:29:140:29:15

I haven't mentioned it before, but as Lana knows,

0:29:150:29:17

I'm quite taken by barn conversions.

0:29:170:29:19

-Are you?

-Yeah.

-Ah, good.

0:29:190:29:21

Well, this combines the best of both worlds, Ashley,

0:29:210:29:23

because not only is it a barn conversion,

0:29:230:29:26

it's only six years old in its conversion.

0:29:260:29:28

-I'm excited.

-Yeah?

0:29:280:29:30

Yeah, it looks great. It looks like it's got sort of the benefit of

0:29:300:29:33

character but also the sort of benefits of modern living as well.

0:29:330:29:36

Well done. That's exactly it.

0:29:360:29:37

That's why we picked it as our Mystery House.

0:29:370:29:39

Come on. Let's see what you think.

0:29:390:29:41

Well, we may have brought them outside their preferred search area,

0:29:430:29:46

but I'm hoping the mix of character and contemporary in this Grade II

0:29:460:29:50

listed barn will get them onside.

0:29:500:29:54

Predominantly single-storey,

0:29:540:29:56

its unusual layout means most of the living rooms

0:29:560:29:58

in this property benefit from being dual aspect.

0:29:580:30:02

There's a kitchen/diner to one end,

0:30:020:30:04

a room in the middle of the property,

0:30:040:30:06

and a study and the master bedroom at the other end,

0:30:060:30:09

on the ground floor.

0:30:090:30:10

A staircase leads to two further bedrooms and a bathroom

0:30:100:30:14

on the first floor.

0:30:140:30:15

Right.

0:30:150:30:17

Yes?

0:30:170:30:19

Come through here. We'll start with the kitchen/diner.

0:30:190:30:21

Please tell me this is good enough.

0:30:210:30:23

SHE LAUGHS

0:30:230:30:25

I'll leave that to Ashley.

0:30:250:30:27

I... I'm feeling a bit emotional.

0:30:270:30:29

THEY LAUGH

0:30:290:30:32

Good!

0:30:320:30:33

So you should - it's amazing.

0:30:330:30:34

-I love it.

-Beautiful.

0:30:340:30:36

-Really beautiful.

-Yeah.

0:30:360:30:37

And in terms of you as a family...

0:30:370:30:39

-Plenty of space.

-Oh, yeah, plenty of space.

0:30:390:30:42

Probably plenty of time spent in here as well.

0:30:420:30:45

-It's nice. Very nice.

-You are quite emotional, aren't you, actually?

0:30:450:30:49

Yeah. I... I didn't ever really feel that way about a property, you know?

0:30:490:30:55

-So, yeah, this is a... It's surprising.

-Let's see what

0:30:550:30:58

the rest of it does to you, shall we? Come on.

0:30:580:31:00

He may have seen a fair few properties in his time,

0:31:030:31:05

but there's no doubt this mystery barn is working its magic on Ashley.

0:31:050:31:10

Also off the entrance hall is a useful utility room

0:31:100:31:13

and a downstairs cloakroom.

0:31:130:31:15

And then this is your principal living room.

0:31:150:31:19

That's nice again, yeah.

0:31:190:31:21

Yeah.

0:31:210:31:22

Again, nice woodwork on the ceilings.

0:31:220:31:24

But what do you think of this, Lana?

0:31:240:31:26

Because so far you've just agreed with your husband.

0:31:260:31:29

Well, that doesn't happen very often, Jules, I'll tell you, the agreeing with him, but...

0:31:290:31:33

It's just great.

0:31:330:31:34

It's got all the sort of, you know, character that I like

0:31:340:31:38

plus the more modern living.

0:31:380:31:39

You know, I know it appeals to Ashley, so boxes ticked,

0:31:390:31:42

-effectively.

-Is he hard to please?

0:31:420:31:44

He's much more hard to please than I am.

0:31:440:31:47

-He loves it. We must be doing something right.

-You are.

-Come on.

0:31:470:31:49

The corridor from the sitting room takes us past a large study,

0:31:530:31:56

or possible playroom for Mallory.

0:31:560:31:59

At the end of it, the staircase leads out to two well-presented

0:31:590:32:02

bedrooms on the first floor,

0:32:020:32:03

which share the use of a great modern family bathroom.

0:32:030:32:07

But I want to show them the master on the ground floor.

0:32:070:32:09

So, this is the en-suite for the master suite.

0:32:110:32:15

-There you go, bath and shower in there.

-Nice.

0:32:150:32:17

-Yes.

-And then this is you.

0:32:170:32:19

-Wow.

-That is...

0:32:190:32:21

VOICE QUAVERING: That is nice.

0:32:210:32:23

Big double. Big double, yes.

0:32:230:32:25

The emotions coming up to the surface again, Ashley.

0:32:250:32:28

Great.

0:32:280:32:29

Safe to say, this is scoring quite highly.

0:32:290:32:33

-Yeah.

-There's nothing to dislike about the house.

0:32:330:32:36

Right then, the garden.

0:32:360:32:38

Let me show you what you have.

0:32:380:32:39

I think they'll find it hard to fault the outside space, too.

0:32:410:32:44

To one side of the property,

0:32:440:32:46

the kitchen opens on to a seating area and a small lawn behind it.

0:32:460:32:51

On the other side of the barn,

0:32:510:32:52

there's a vast, level lawned garden,

0:32:520:32:55

but that's just for starters.

0:32:550:32:57

What about this lot for Mallory to run around in?

0:32:570:33:00

Yeah. This is plenty, cos it's going round the side there as well.

0:33:000:33:04

-This isn't all of it... BOTH:

-OK.

0:33:040:33:05

..because you also get that paddock through that gate.

0:33:050:33:08

-Oh.

-So, in all, it's about two acres.

0:33:080:33:11

You know what's coming now, don't you?

0:33:110:33:13

-I do, yes.

-What's it worth, then, madam?

0:33:130:33:16

Is going to be 575, definitely, if not more.

0:33:170:33:20

-Ashley?

-I have to agree.

0:33:200:33:22

I think it's 575 as well.

0:33:220:33:24

Your instincts are absolutely right.

0:33:240:33:27

It is at the top end, and it is 575, so there you are.

0:33:270:33:31

You both were correct.

0:33:310:33:33

That's a nice way to finish, isn't it, really, on our Mystery House?

0:33:330:33:36

I'm not going to rush you on this one.

0:33:360:33:37

Have a good look around and I will come and find you later on.

0:33:370:33:41

-Smashing.

-Thank you.

-Off you go. Brilliant.

0:33:410:33:44

Fabulous. Our Mystery House might have done it again.

0:33:440:33:47

I love it, they love it,

0:33:470:33:48

and I'm pretty sure you probably love it as well.

0:33:480:33:51

Bang on budget, this mystery barn might be listed,

0:33:540:33:57

but it's impeccably finished with no further work needed.

0:33:570:34:00

There are three bedrooms with the potential for a fourth,

0:34:000:34:03

or a separate playroom in the study.

0:34:030:34:05

And the property comes with just over two acres of land.

0:34:050:34:09

Now, granted, it's almost twice

0:34:090:34:11

as far as they wanted to be from Ludlow,

0:34:110:34:13

so they've just got to work out if they want to go the distance.

0:34:130:34:16

Fabulous high ceilings again.

0:34:180:34:20

-Yeah, that's lovely.

-Playroom for Mallory.

0:34:200:34:22

That's what I'm thinking.

0:34:220:34:24

I'm a bit more composed now, I've gathered myself.

0:34:240:34:28

You know, it is said that when you walk into somewhere, it feels right,

0:34:280:34:32

and certainly when we came in here, it had the right feel about it,

0:34:320:34:37

and I could see us in each of the rooms.

0:34:370:34:41

It's an area over here that we don't know as well as sort of the Ludlow

0:34:410:34:45

side of things, and obviously that was our primary focus,

0:34:450:34:48

being near Ludlow, but I'm not sure that it matters, really.

0:34:480:34:52

For a boy who loves to be outdoors, it's absolutely perfect.

0:34:520:34:55

This has been a great morning, hasn't it?

0:34:550:34:57

Oh, fabulous.

0:34:570:34:59

However, that is it.

0:34:590:35:01

You have now the very difficult task

0:35:010:35:03

of trying to make sense of everything

0:35:030:35:05

we have shown you and everything we have talked about

0:35:050:35:08

to see if we can find you a new home of the future.

0:35:080:35:11

-OK.

-Which one will it be, I wonder?

-Come on.

0:35:110:35:16

Shropshire is renowned for its industrial

0:35:240:35:26

and agricultural heritage.

0:35:260:35:28

Ludlow, in the hillier south, is surrounded by cattle country,

0:35:280:35:32

whereas the flatter terrain in the north lends itself to more arable

0:35:320:35:36

farming. Tucked away in the Shropshire Hills

0:35:360:35:39

is one farm that echoes of the past.

0:35:390:35:41

At its centre is a Grade II star listed Elizabethan mansion

0:35:410:35:45

built by the Acton family in 1580,

0:35:450:35:48

which today remains their private residence.

0:35:480:35:51

Tom Acton inherited the Acton Scott estate and its 40-acre home farm

0:35:510:35:55

more than a generation ago.

0:35:550:35:57

But instead of introducing modern farming techniques,

0:35:570:36:00

he chose to preserve its buildings and the 19th-century farming skills

0:36:000:36:04

he'd grown up with. I've come to meet his son Rupert

0:36:040:36:07

to find out more.

0:36:070:36:08

-Hello, Rupert.

-Hello, Jules.

0:36:090:36:11

Very nice to see you.

0:36:110:36:12

-Nice to see you.

-And look at this, there we are -

0:36:120:36:14

Shropshire rolled out before us

0:36:140:36:16

and overlooked by that wonderful building.

0:36:160:36:18

How long has your family been farming here?

0:36:180:36:20

Well, the Actons have owned land here for over 800 years.

0:36:200:36:24

Now, whose idea was it to try and turn the clock back

0:36:240:36:27

and pick up those tools from yesteryear,

0:36:270:36:30

to create a 19th-century working farm?

0:36:300:36:32

The home farm was tenanted up until about 1974.

0:36:320:36:37

The tenant then left,

0:36:370:36:38

and my father had the decision to make about the farm's future.

0:36:380:36:42

It seemed a pity to him to demolish the fine set of 18th-century farm

0:36:420:36:46

buildings, which were there on the site

0:36:460:36:49

but not adequate for modern farming,

0:36:490:36:52

so he decided to start farming it himself with the one horse called

0:36:520:36:57

Blossom, and that's how it began.

0:36:570:36:59

But going back to the early '70s, it was an age of concrete, of steel.

0:36:590:37:03

Everybody was looking to a modern future.

0:37:030:37:06

Some would say his decision was quite eccentric, if not bold.

0:37:060:37:10

Yes, I think some people thought it was an odd thing to do.

0:37:100:37:13

Nobody else was doing anything like this at the time.

0:37:130:37:17

With a small collection

0:37:170:37:18

of 19th-century farm machinery and tools,

0:37:180:37:21

Rupert's father took over the running of the home farm

0:37:210:37:23

until he was approached by the county council

0:37:230:37:26

with a proposition to run it as a working museum.

0:37:260:37:29

I'm keen to explore the site and see the techniques for myself.

0:37:290:37:32

Rupert's pointed me in the direction of wheelwright Mike,

0:37:320:37:35

who is about to tyre a traditional horse-drawn wagon wheel.

0:37:350:37:39

Mike? Are you Mike Wright?

0:37:410:37:43

-I am.

-Nice to see you, Mike.

0:37:430:37:44

-How are you?

-Hello.

-Hello, there.

0:37:440:37:46

Hello. Mike Davis.

0:37:460:37:47

Mike Davis. Do you have to be called Mike to work in the blacksmith's

0:37:470:37:50

-shop here at Acton?

-I'm afraid so, yes.

-What are you doing?

0:37:500:37:53

This looks very, very dramatic.

0:37:530:37:54

Well, what we are doing...

0:37:540:37:56

There is a tyre in there.

0:37:560:37:57

A tyre in Victorian times is a metal band,

0:37:570:37:59

not a rubber tyre as we know it now.

0:37:590:38:01

So, one of these that's against the wall?

0:38:010:38:03

Yeah, exactly. And it's a bit smaller than this wooden wheel,

0:38:030:38:06

and that's what the wheelwright does, makes the wooden wheels.

0:38:060:38:09

So, we're heating it up. Metal expands - while it's hot,

0:38:090:38:12

it's going to fit on. We're going to cool it down quick before it burns

0:38:120:38:15

the wood. It will shrink on, contract on,

0:38:150:38:18

tighten all the joints up and stay on.

0:38:180:38:20

How long would it take you to produce a wheel like that from scratch?

0:38:200:38:23

A big wheel like this?

0:38:230:38:24

-Three or four weeks.

-Three or four weeks?

0:38:240:38:26

-Yeah.

-Well, I can certainly feel the heat coming off of that fire now.

0:38:260:38:29

Presumably, the band is buried within that lot?

0:38:290:38:32

-It is.

-How long do you have to leave it in there for so it's hot enough

0:38:320:38:34

-to put on?

-Well, it's normally about 20 minutes once the fire gets going.

0:38:340:38:38

When the iron band expands, it turns a dull red colour.

0:38:380:38:42

Then it's a race against time to get it out of the fire,

0:38:420:38:44

fitted on the wheel and cooled.

0:38:440:38:46

-You ready?

-Mike, yeah.

0:38:460:38:49

While the two Mikes do the important part,

0:38:490:38:51

I'm on standby with a bucket of water.

0:38:510:38:53

-That's on.

-Water.

0:38:560:38:58

-You don't get long, do you?

-No.

0:39:020:39:04

You can see it bubbling off the red-hot iron, there.

0:39:060:39:11

The iron takes less than five minutes to contract.

0:39:110:39:14

Once re-tyred, the new wheel could last another 50 years.

0:39:140:39:18

It's amazing how much it does expand.

0:39:180:39:20

-It is amazing.

-I mean, there was a much bigger gap than I thought

0:39:200:39:24

-I'd see.

-Yeah.

0:39:240:39:26

Mike and Mike make or repair around ten to 20 wagon wheels a year.

0:39:260:39:30

-There we go.

-There we are.

-That's it.

-Job done.

0:39:300:39:33

-Yes.

-Brilliant, guys. Well, what a fascinating insight.

0:39:330:39:36

Thank you very much indeed.

0:39:360:39:37

A window on your world like no other.

0:39:370:39:39

And thank you for your help, sir.

0:39:390:39:41

-Let me guess, you're called Mike, too?

-I am.

0:39:410:39:43

HE LAUGHS

0:39:430:39:45

-Three Mikes on the site.

-So, I need to change my name, really, don't I,

0:39:450:39:47

-if I'm going to take up residence here?

-If you want a job, yeah.

0:39:470:39:50

Well, with the hard work done, before I get back to my day job,

0:39:510:39:55

there's one more thing to do - have a test drive with wagoner Simon.

0:39:550:39:59

-Go on, then, big man.

-HE WHISTLES

0:39:590:40:02

-Good lad.

-Oh, good boy.

0:40:020:40:03

Well, it is now, of course, decision time

0:40:140:40:17

for Lana and for Ashley.

0:40:170:40:19

They've given us a very handsome budget this week,

0:40:190:40:21

and in return, well,

0:40:210:40:22

I think we've shown them three very handsome houses,

0:40:220:40:25

but, of course, they can afford to buy only one.

0:40:250:40:28

So, which one, if any, is it likely to be?

0:40:280:40:31

Let's go and ask them.

0:40:310:40:33

Well, this all looks very jolly.

0:40:390:40:41

Does this mean that there's some good news on the horizon, I wonder?

0:40:410:40:45

-Possibly.

-Possibly?

0:40:450:40:47

What a place to finish up.

0:40:470:40:48

So, is there a clear winner?

0:40:480:40:52

-I think there probably is.

-I think there is, yes.

0:40:520:40:54

The Mystery House...

0:40:540:40:56

It's lovely.

0:40:560:40:58

You could see... When I first saw it, when we walked into

0:40:580:41:00

-the kitchen...

-It is absolutely gorgeous.

-Yeah.

0:41:000:41:02

I think it took me back, obviously.

0:41:020:41:05

I think it took Lana back as well.

0:41:050:41:07

So, yeah, we're very keen on that one.

0:41:070:41:10

It's all of your budget.

0:41:100:41:12

-It is.

-575.

0:41:120:41:14

-Yeah.

-Every last penny.

-Yeah.

0:41:140:41:15

I mean, I do suspect that he's open to a sensible offer but, boy,

0:41:150:41:20

-wouldn't it work?

-Oh, beautiful.

0:41:200:41:22

Absolutely beautiful. And nothing to do.

0:41:220:41:25

Absolutely nothing to do.

0:41:250:41:27

What do you do next in your master plan for making this move happen?

0:41:270:41:31

Well, I think we'd probably like to go

0:41:310:41:33

and have a look at the local area,

0:41:330:41:35

get a bit of an idea for Shrewsbury and around.

0:41:350:41:38

Yeah, we will do all of that as quickly as possible.

0:41:380:41:41

And then hopefully make an offer on it.

0:41:410:41:42

-Yeah.

-Well, I'm delighted.

0:41:420:41:45

I know it's in a slightly different part of Shropshire,

0:41:450:41:47

but you're still in the county,

0:41:470:41:48

and there's lots around there to occupy you and sustain you,

0:41:480:41:52

and I think that's the important thing in terms of work going forward

0:41:520:41:55

and schools for Mallory.

0:41:550:41:58

Brilliant. Here's to you.

0:41:580:42:00

We should, really, I suppose, have some champagne.

0:42:000:42:02

We'll have to make do with a cup of tea.

0:42:020:42:04

-But here's to you, well done.

-Cheers.

-Thanks.

-Cheers.

0:42:040:42:06

Well, I said it before and I will say it again -

0:42:110:42:14

it is very rare that this region ever disappoints

0:42:140:42:17

in terms of the property that it can offer,

0:42:170:42:19

regardless of budget,

0:42:190:42:21

and certainly that has been the case this week.

0:42:210:42:24

Now, clearly, Ashley and Lana have some homework to do,

0:42:240:42:27

but I'm pretty optimistic that in the not too distant future,

0:42:270:42:30

that beautiful barn will be bursting with their new family life

0:42:300:42:34

here in Shropshire. I'll see you next time.

0:42:340:42:36

Lana and Ashley did end up making an offer on the Mystery House,

0:42:390:42:42

but unfortunately they were beaten to it by cash buyers,

0:42:420:42:46

so their search continues.

0:42:460:42:48

If you would like to escape to the country

0:42:480:42:50

in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland

0:42:500:42:52

and need our help, you can apply online at...

0:42:520:42:55

Jules Hudson is in the Shropshire countryside with a couple of parents who have £575,000 to spend on a home for them and their young son. While in the county, Jules visits the Acton Scott Estate, home to an authentic Victorian working farm, and tries his hand at being a wheelwright's apprentice.