Worcestershire Escape to the Country


Worcestershire

Nicki Chapman is in rural Worcestershire helping a couple who have £450,000 to realise their dream of raising their young family in the countryside.


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Transcript


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The field of dreams behind me hold the distinction of being one of the

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most picturesque cricket grounds in the country.

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But out for a duck can often have very different connotations on this hallowed ground.

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So, any idea why?

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And, of course, where am I?

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Find out in just a moment.

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Today's house-hunting challenge is to find the perfect balance of

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country character and modern practicality if the figures add up.

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I think I will probably have to pull out the spreadsheet and understand

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-what the genuine cost of doing what we would like to do in there would be.

-Yes.

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VOICEOVER: And it looks like the girls might be outnumbering the boys

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when it comes to getting what they want.

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Are you feeling the pressure slightly?

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-Absolutely. These sets of eyes staring right through me, yeah.

-Two sets.

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Today I'm in Worcestershire and this is the New Road cricket ground,

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home to Worcestershire County Cricket club.

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Now, as well as hosting a flood of cricket fans during the summer months,

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the ground is also prone to the River Severn's annual flood.

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And in years gone by, the water has reached far above my head.

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No surprise, then, that the club's Twenty20 team is dubbed the Worcestershire Rapids.

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Cradled in the heart of the West Midlands,

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Worcestershire is a landlocked county of contrasting landscapes,

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the most celebrated being the Malvern Hills,

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whose summit reaches a dramatic 425 metres high.

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The county's extensive network of waterways cuts through the land.

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Many feeding into the River Severn.

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Passing through the centre of Droitwich Spa,

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the River Salwarpe runs parallel

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with the town's beautifully restored canal, which reopened in 2010.

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Once famed for brine,

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the town's salt working heritage

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is commemorated by a number of sculptures.

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Another notable spa town is Malvern,

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whose spring waters are world-renowned, and the town retains many Victorian

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properties from its prominence in the early 19th century.

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A little further south and the market town of Pershore features

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elegant Georgian structures,

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but it's timber black and white buildings that typify the style of

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this region, many of which are found in Tenbury Wells.

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Dating to 1862, the Grade II listed Pump Rooms

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break with tradition in colour but stand as

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a prime example of this county's eye-catching architectural heritage.

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Worcestershire's beautiful countryside, particularly the Malvern Hills,

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stirred the composer Edward Elgar to write Land Of Hope And Glory.

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But if you want your own slice of this glorious landscape,

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then it's not going to come cheap. The average price of a detached home

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here comes in at just over £343,000.

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Now, that's £10,000 more than the national figure.

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A largely rural county,

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it is centrally located with great transport links,

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all of which makes Worcestershire very desirable.

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And that's exactly why today's house-hunters want even more of it.

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It's actually this county's only city, Worcester,

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that has been home to Jenna and Ewan for the past two years.

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The couple, who both work in sales,

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were joined by their daughter Amber nine months ago and are fast

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outgrowing their modern, three-storey,

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centrally located town house.

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We love this house that we are in at the moment but the main challenge is

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space. Our family is expanding.

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I had no idea how much stuff comes with a baby.

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You know, we are bursting at the seams and it just keeps growing.

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This isn't the first time Jenna and Ewan have faced a big move.

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They originally met whilst working in London and the plan was to up and

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move from the capital to rural Worcestershire when they were married.

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They just didn't get the rural part quite right.

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We went down the route of something a bit more safe, sensible, in town,

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so it's easy to commute for Jenna,

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easy to be able to sort of walk around. We felt like it was a good

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sort of halfway house where we are now before that

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sort of taking the plunge and that move to the country that we have

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always wanted to do.

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Having fallen in love with the Worcestershire countryside surrounding

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the city, their next move won't be taking them too far.

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I know there's lots of villages dotted around.

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But without going to all of them,

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we are at a bit of a loss to know where to start and where to look.

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It's got a nice balance of,

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there are lots of rolling fields and beautiful woodlands and country

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walks... That still seems miles away from where we are in the city centre.

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Space for friends and family to visit is a big priority for Jenna

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but an even bigger priority for both

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is the most recent addition to their family, daughter Amber.

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It would be great taking her to a house where she's got lots more room to play...

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-Yeah.

-Sort of room to make a bit more of a mess in the garden...

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-Yeah.

-When she gets older,

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she'll just be able to explore and have more fun.

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One of the best things about having children is that you see things a

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lot differently because you see them through their eyes.

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So we can spend half an hour staring at swans and the next day,

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go and see the same swans and she is still just as excited at seeing

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these swans as she was the day before.

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Aside from family time,

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Ewan also has his own ideas for making the most of their new living

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-situation.

-I love running.

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It's a great way to see the local area.

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Sort of blow out the cobwebs of the day.

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To be able to go out and go for a run is really important because it

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is probably the quickest way for me to keep fit.

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Sounds like Ewan is more than ready to take on his new surroundings,

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while Jenna's focus will undoubtedly be inside the house.

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I will get excited about what it looks like, whereas Ewan

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is thinking about schools and distance travelled from work.

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Whereas I will just be, "Have you seen the moulding?!"

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"Look at the garden!"

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So, yeah, the danger is I might almost talk myself out of a good idea but

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-that's where Jenna comes in.

-Whereas I'll be like, "Oh, a fireplace!"

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Sticking within their chosen county of Worcestershire,

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Jenna needs good access to her office in Birmingham and Ewan's commute is

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down to Gloucestershire.

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So they'd like to live under an hour's travel from both places of work.

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We are all meeting up to discuss more about their ideal home.

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Jenna and Ewan, welcome to Worcestershire.

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Although in actual fact, you already live in this county, don't you?

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So, tell me, in your minds, what is it that you're after?

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We definitely want some character.

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So we absolutely want something that you know we'd be proud to bring our

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friends round to and our family round to see.

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How large a home do you want?

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-How many bedrooms?

-So, minimum of four.

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We've got family in Devon, sort of, in America, friends in London,

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so with us being in the Midlands, it's nice if they come and stay,

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that they can come and stay with us.

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-So you are going to be a B&B without charging?

-Yeah.

-Aren't you lovely?

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Aren't you lovely? What about a garden, outdoor space?

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Anything in particular?

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So something low maintenance.

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It would be nice to have, you know,

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a patch of grass that Amber can go and play on.

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But I don't want any landscaped gardens.

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I'm not green fingered and haven't got the time.

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At the moment. But it would be nice to have some outdoor space, for sure.

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Who is going to make the decision on this property?

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Is it going to be a joint one or...?

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LAUGHTER Ewan said it all, OK.

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-I think it would be a joint one, as long as Jenna is happy.

-A modern castle.

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-Would be lovely.

-I will bear that in mind.

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And this dream property that we are looking for,

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take us to the top of our budget, please.

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So, the top of the budget would be about £450,000.

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If we found you something that is perfect,

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is there any wiggle room over that or not?

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-I think they're perhaps could be.

-Yeah, but it would need to be...

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-Perfect.

-Yeah.

-You could raid the piggy bank.

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-Show us something amazing and we'll raid the piggy bank.

-Yeah.

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Look at that. Pressure's on me now, isn't it?

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Well, we are very much looking forward to showing you different

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-types of property, so shall we get started?

-Yes, please.

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With a top budget of £450,000,

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Jenna and Ewan are hoping to find a characterful four-bedroom property

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with plenty of room for visitors.

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They are after low maintenance outside space and a location within

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striking distance of work.

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With baby Amber's education to consider,

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they will also have good local primary schools in mind.

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We have some wonderful properties lined up,

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aiming to unite Jenna's rural dreams with Ewan's practical head but our

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couple won't find out the attached price tags until the end of each of

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our tours. Our final property will be our Mystery House and

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if it strikes the balance they so desire, time will be of the essence.

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For our first property,

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I'm taking our house-hunters to the village of Clifton-upon-Teme.

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It has a population of just 600 but by comparison is home to almost 50

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Grade II listed buildings.

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They add character and charm to this community that I think will be right

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up Jenna and Ewan's street, so we are stopping here first.

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So, before I show you our first property,

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I wanted to really give you a quick tour of the village.

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-How do you fancy village life?

-Yeah, really good.

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Especially what we can see and sort of looking around it looks absolutely beautiful.

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You have a primary school right there, which has a good Ofsted rating.

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Secondary school about three miles away, which was rated outstanding.

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The pub, which is always very pleasant to have.

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And a local shop.

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The house itself is about 50 metres down there.

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-OK.

-Shall we have a look?

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-Let's go.

-Yes, please.

-VOICEOVER: Directly opposite the local church,

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we find our very first property.

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Initial thoughts?

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In terms of the view and where it is, it looks spot on.

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It looks like a new house but definitely got a bit more of an old style.

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I think looking forward to the inside...

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But it does look a bit modern.

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Well, you would be right because it was built in the 1980s.

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But, as you said, you're keen to get in, shall we take a look?

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-Yes, please.

-Come on, then.

-Thank you.

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VOICEOVER: Although a modern house, I'm hoping that once we are inside,

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the property's character features will charm Jenna and Ewan.

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Like to start off with the kitchen.

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Very nice. Clearly a nice and modern kitchen.

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It ticks the social box.

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You can be cooking whilst, you know, kids are up at the table.

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Come home and tell me about your day at school.

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-This is exactly what we asked for, really.

-Great. And then if you want to follow me...

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So you also have your sitting room, so it flows, doesn't it?

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-Nicely.

-Yeah.

-With the obligatory wood burner.

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-Nice.

-Yeah, that is a nice feature.

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-Yeah.

-We can definitely get an extended family in here.

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For me, I think, so far, so good.

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But I'm looking at Jenna because she's the one that decides what we think.

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I'm not too keen on the living...

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-The living room.

-This is not quite big enough for you?

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No. I think in our current house, it's about the same size as this.

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I don't see how we could make it bigger other than maybe extending

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into the garden. But depending on how much he house price is,

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would we have enough left over in the bank to then maybe take the wall

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-down?

-OK, so this could be the compromise.

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Let's see if I can win you over upstairs.

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I thought the open-plan aspect of this home would be just what our

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sociable couple wanted but it seems I haven't quite convinced Jenna yet.

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There is however the potential for a separate sitting room which could

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be used as a study or perhaps a playroom for Amber.

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Upstairs, there's more than enough space for them and their many

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visitors, with the four bedrooms they requested.

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All of them are a decent size and three make use of a fully-tiled main bathroom.

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So the request was for four bedrooms.

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With this house, we can give you four double bedrooms,

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which is always a bonus, isn't it?

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-Yes.

-But obviously this is the master and en suite.

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Probably a lot more room up here than I was expecting, if I'm honest.

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Yes. What's nice is inside the house, although it is modern,

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having sort of the wooden rustic windows and being able to look out

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and see the trees and the green, it's a lovely mix.

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Upstairs has had a bit more of a thumbs up than perhaps a little bit

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of downstairs. Let's see what you make of the garden outside.

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-Lovely.

-OK.

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Looks like we are moving in the right direction.

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I wonder if the outside of this property will clinch it.

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Now, your initial request was for a garden that wasn't too big.

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You didn't want to do loads of work, did you? But high impact, low maintenance.

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I do like what they've done with the outside sort of decking area.

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In terms of entertaining and barbecues and people round in the summer as well.

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-Yeah.

-That's really nice.

-Well, we're going to have to now go to guess the price, aren't we?

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-Yes.

-What do you think our first property is on the market for?

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I think you are probably pushing us to the top of our budget.

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So I'm going to say 450.

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Right. Jenna?

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I mean, yeah, I did initially think maybe around 465.

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OK. Interesting.

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Well, it is just the start.

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This house is on the market...

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..for £425,000.

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-Is it?

-Wow!

-So we could do the extension in the living room.

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-Calculator...

-Ding-ding.

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Pleasantly surprised.

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Well within your budget.

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Might not on the next one, you don't know,

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do you? On that happy note, why don't you have another look around,

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-just on your own this time?

-Will do.

-And then I'll catch you out the front when you're ready.

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-Brilliant.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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Under budget by £25,000,

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this modern home comes with open-plan living spaces,

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four double bedrooms including a master en suite, and a manageable

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garden. Set in the heart of a village,

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it's also within commutable distance for both Ewan and Jenna.

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This is a pretty... Pretty good room.

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-I wasn't expecting this.

-Yeah,

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always good to have extra space for a nursery.

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The kitchen dining living area, I think, for me, really works.

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Really sort of sociable.

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For me, it's understanding what Jenna thinks about the house, really.

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It is great that there's four double bedrooms but I wouldn't compromise

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living space for bedroom space.

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I would rather knowing they were only here for two or three days give

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them a slightly smaller bedroom but a bigger social space to be in,

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-like living room or dining area.

-You could absolutely move in here tomorrow.

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So I think what we really need to think about is what would we need in

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five or ten years' time

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and could we see ourselves living here then, really?

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Right, well, that's our first property tour over with.

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-A good start?

-Really, yeah. A really positive start. Really got us thinking, I think.

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-Yeah, brilliant start.

-Let's see what you make of the next one.

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Worcestershire's wild and varied rural landscape is dotted with charming

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villages and a diverse collection of grand stately homes,

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of which Witley Court was once a prime example.

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It was purchased by the Foley family in the 17th century,

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who transformed it into one of England's finest mansions.

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But today, the shell of this former great building is all that remains.

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Jenna and Ewan are relatively recent Worcestershire residents and know

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very little about the county's history.

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Keen to learn more, they are meeting historian Jenny Hatton,

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who is also site manager here.

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So this is an absolutely stunning building.

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Could you tell me more about its history?

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So this house was originally built by the Foley family,

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they were quite a prominent family in Worcestershire.

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And it wouldn't have looked like it does today.

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Although there is actually an original Jacobean house that was built here in around 1610.

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And the only part that really remains of this house is right behind me here,

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which is a Jacobean window.

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By the 19th century, Witley Court was an opulent grand home

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and the setting for many parties.

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Well-known guests from the period included King Edward VIII,

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whilst he was still the Prince of Wales.

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So, why is the house just a shell at the moment?

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-Why is it derelict?

-In 1937,

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there was unfortunately a fire and that caused a lot of damage.

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Ultimately, it was sold for only £2,000 and was bought around the

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1950s by an antiques dealer and he stripped the house of many of the

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marble fireplaces and all the plasterwork, the stucco,

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-and sold it off at auction.

-Why has it never been restored?

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Unfortunately, a lot of it is down to money.

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-The latest estimates are about £300 million to put a roof back on it.

-A bit out of our budget, babe.

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Tragically, Witley Court was never returned to its former glory.

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It was designated a scheduled ancient monument in the 1970s and

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passed into the care of English Heritage.

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Great Witley Church survived the fire and gives some sense of just

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how opulent this entire estate would have once been.

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Angela Snow is the churchwarden.

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Could you tell us something about this magnificent church?

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I can tell you it's the only church like it in the country.

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This has never been a private chapel.

0:18:110:18:13

Because it is owned by the parishioners and the parish,

0:18:130:18:16

the people that bought the court and stripped it didn't own the church.

0:18:160:18:19

So they couldn't strip the church.

0:18:190:18:22

Could you tell us a bit more about the paintings?

0:18:220:18:24

It looks like, you know, they could have been in Rome or in Venice.

0:18:240:18:28

People often call this the Sistine Chapel of Worcestershire

0:18:280:18:32

because of our wonderful painted ceiling.

0:18:320:18:34

And the paintings are actually oil on canvas by Antonio Bellucci.

0:18:340:18:40

The very large one is the Ascension of Christ going up into heaven,

0:18:400:18:44

and some of them are just little cherubs, to make it look pretty, I think.

0:18:440:18:48

The Italianate Baroque decor was sourced from the chapel of a palace in London.

0:18:490:18:53

Contents transported from the city to furnish the church here

0:18:530:18:58

included ten stained-glass windows, a number of oil canvases,

0:18:580:19:03

plus the organ and pipes.

0:19:030:19:05

But the stucco designs were painstakingly recreated.

0:19:050:19:09

They took moulds of it from where it was on the chapel walls and then

0:19:110:19:15

they made it out of papier mache.

0:19:150:19:17

And here, you can see how very thin it is.

0:19:170:19:21

You can even see on the back of that,

0:19:210:19:23

the newspaper that the papier mache was made of.

0:19:230:19:26

-Wow!

-It's very, very thin. Very, very light.

0:19:260:19:30

And then it's covered in gold leaf.

0:19:300:19:32

-23.75 carat gold leaf, the whole lot.

-Wow!

0:19:320:19:35

A beautiful and fascinating 18th-century transformation.

0:19:350:19:39

Back in the present day, we need to return to our house search.

0:19:390:19:43

Next, I'm taking Jenna and Ewan to the north of their chosen county to

0:19:470:19:52

a property on the fringes of Upton Warren.

0:19:520:19:55

A short ten-minute drive away is the small village of Chaddesley Corbett,

0:19:550:19:59

which benefits from not just one but three pubs and a butchers.

0:19:590:20:04

The village's Grade I listed church was largely built in

0:20:060:20:09

the 11th century and is the only place of worship in England dedicated to St Cassian.

0:20:090:20:14

Five miles down the road on the rural outskirts of Upton Warren,

0:20:160:20:19

we find a cluster of houses,

0:20:190:20:21

one of which is the home we've come to view.

0:20:210:20:23

So a slightly different approach with our second property and this is

0:20:260:20:30

the one that we're going to be looking at.

0:20:300:20:32

-OK.

-Have you considered a converted barn before?

0:20:320:20:36

-Yes!

-You're keen...

0:20:360:20:39

-I am, I am.

-You're keen.

0:20:390:20:41

Well, these date back about 200 years.

0:20:410:20:43

They are not listed.

0:20:430:20:44

OK. I'm intrigued with barn conversions to know how they've done

0:20:440:20:48

-it inside.

-Shall we?

-Yeah.

-Yes, please.

0:20:480:20:50

There's no doubting Jenna's enthusiasm but Ewan doesn't seem as

0:20:530:20:57

convinced on first impressions.

0:20:570:20:59

Converted in the 1980s, this barn has an entrance hall at its centre,

0:21:000:21:04

with a large living room to the left-hand side.

0:21:040:21:07

On the other side is the kitchen, which is the first stop of our tour

0:21:070:21:11

and might require some imagination from our couple.

0:21:110:21:14

I think it'd be fair to say it's ready for an update.

0:21:160:21:20

-Yes.

-Yeah.

-Take away the fixtures and furnishings,

0:21:200:21:23

-look at the actual building itself.

-That's very much sort of in my head,

0:21:230:21:27

what I'm doing at the moment is wondering what we could do with

0:21:270:21:31

maybe taking some off the walls to create a bit more space.

0:21:310:21:34

-Next-door to us is a door leading into the garage.

-OK.

-One of the other properties,

0:21:340:21:39

they've actually knocked through and extended it and...

0:21:390:21:42

-That makes sense.

-It would depend on the house as to how much of a project I think we

0:21:420:21:45

-are willing to take on.

-Yeah.

0:21:450:21:47

Let's see how much of a project it is in entirety.

0:21:470:21:50

Look at the potential. Right, follow me. Thank you.

0:21:500:21:53

So, just off the hallway, you have your sitting room.

0:21:550:21:58

It's a lot lighter, brighter, so they've painted the beams white,

0:21:580:22:02

which gives it a lot bigger sort of perception of space.

0:22:020:22:05

Want that character and charm...

0:22:050:22:07

Perhaps you don't want the character and charm.

0:22:070:22:10

How are you feeling because you're both coming from slightly different places, aren't you?

0:22:100:22:14

I don't mind character and charm. I just want a little bit of practical-ness.

0:22:140:22:17

But there's nothing here that's sort of putting me off when it comes to character or anything like that.

0:22:170:22:21

-Let's head upstairs, then. Let's see the bedrooms.

-Brilliant.

-Thank you.

0:22:210:22:25

I get the feeling that Jenna might have a fight on her hands when it

0:22:250:22:29

comes to persuading Ewan that this could be their perfect family home.

0:22:290:22:34

Perhaps the upstairs will help her bend his arm.

0:22:340:22:37

Awaiting us on the first floor are four good-sized bedrooms.

0:22:370:22:41

A single bedroom...

0:22:410:22:43

..a roomy double...

0:22:450:22:46

..and another, which is currently being used as a study,

0:22:470:22:50

all of which are served by a family bathroom,

0:22:500:22:53

with features that show off the history of the building.

0:22:530:22:56

The final bedroom is the master,

0:22:560:22:58

which comes complete with its own en suite.

0:22:580:23:01

-Oh, lovely.

-So, upstairs, there's beams everywhere.

0:23:010:23:04

You can see the original A-frame, can't you?

0:23:040:23:07

Oozing character, isn't it?

0:23:070:23:09

It's very bright in this room, which is great.

0:23:090:23:12

Do you like it?

0:23:120:23:13

I do. That's plain.

0:23:130:23:15

Coming up the stairs is winning me over a bit more.

0:23:150:23:18

-Is it?

-If it was a bit lighter...

-Are you feeling the pressure slightly?

0:23:180:23:21

Absolutely. These sets of eyes staring right through me, yes.

0:23:210:23:25

-Two sets. Two sets.

-Yeah.

-We are going to take you out of the garden,

0:23:250:23:29

which is impressive, but let's see what you two make of it.

0:23:290:23:33

OK. Brilliant.

0:23:330:23:35

Ewan is proving to be a tough customer to satisfy and when it

0:23:350:23:40

comes to the garden, well, it could be a high risk.

0:23:400:23:43

Lovely as it is, boasting a large pond and far-reaching views,

0:23:430:23:47

it is a lot bigger than they asked for.

0:23:470:23:50

Now, I think this is a delightful garden.

0:23:500:23:55

However, at the end of the day, it has to work for the two of you.

0:23:550:23:59

Yeah, no, brilliant size garden.

0:23:590:24:01

-Lovely.

-Doesn't scare you?

-Garden parties.

0:24:010:24:04

Give me the space, I'll bring the people.

0:24:050:24:08

I love it. Ewan, what are you thinking?

0:24:080:24:09

I think I'm the one that's got to tidy up after all those people.

0:24:090:24:12

-It is beautiful.

-It's lovely.

0:24:120:24:13

All you can hear is birdsong. And all you can see is the rolling hills.

0:24:130:24:17

I know, you just look out there, gorgeous.

0:24:170:24:19

Let's see what price we are going to put on this property.

0:24:190:24:22

I would guess around 450.

0:24:220:24:25

I think... I would rather it be right at the top of our budget,

0:24:250:24:27

so it may be a little bit out of reach...

0:24:270:24:30

-Or so low down that it makes it affordable.

-Yeah.

0:24:300:24:34

Worst case scenario would be around £430,000?

0:24:340:24:37

And how would you feel if it was £430,000?

0:24:370:24:40

-Conflicted, I think.

-Hit us with it. Hit us with it.

0:24:400:24:43

All right. Well, I'm going to hit you with £425,000.

0:24:430:24:47

Ooh!

0:24:470:24:49

That's... That's... Doable. I'm looking at my accountant.

0:24:490:24:52

-That's doable? Question mark!

-I think I would probably have to pull out the spreadsheet and

0:24:520:24:56

understand what the genuine cost of doing what we would like to do in

0:24:560:24:59

-there would be.

-Yes.

-Having never knocked down walls before...

0:24:590:25:02

Is this more you? This is more of a Jenna house?

0:25:020:25:05

Yes. I believe so.

0:25:050:25:06

-OK.

-A lot of hard work but worth it in the end.

0:25:060:25:09

Fair enough. Let's see if Ewan is going to come along for the ride!

0:25:090:25:12

I think you do need another look around, don't you?

0:25:120:25:14

-And then give me a shout when you're ready.

-Thank you.

0:25:140:25:17

Again under budget, at £425,000,

0:25:210:25:25

this 1980s barn conversion has a spacious sitting room and offers

0:25:250:25:30

great potential for a family kitchen.

0:25:300:25:33

Upstairs, there are four good-sized bedrooms,

0:25:330:25:35

plus plenty of space in the garden to host friends and family.

0:25:350:25:39

In an idyllic rural location, it's less than an hour's drive from

0:25:390:25:43

both Jenna and Ewan's places of work.

0:25:430:25:45

What are you thinking with this space?

0:25:480:25:50

Because it joins to the kitchen, let's knock it down.

0:25:500:25:53

-Yeah?

-Yeah, I'm thinking knock this wall down, huge kitchen diner,

0:25:530:25:59

all overlooking the garden. I really like this house because I see the

0:25:590:26:03

potential that's in this house.

0:26:030:26:05

I think Jenna is probably already sort of weighing up what we be

0:26:050:26:09

offering, what we could do to the house, how we could get it,

0:26:090:26:11

what we could do when we moved in...

0:26:110:26:13

I appreciate how much work it would take to bring it to that point of it

0:26:130:26:19

being an ideal home, but you know, nothing good was ever easy.

0:26:190:26:24

-Have you seen enough?

-Yeah, I think so.

0:26:260:26:29

Two houses, both of them way under budget.

0:26:290:26:32

-Yes, lovely.

-We've got you thinking, haven't we?

0:26:320:26:34

-Absolutely.

-Indeed.

-Good. Well, that's it for today. Let's go.

0:26:340:26:38

We are in Worcestershire,

0:26:490:26:51

helping county locals Ewan and Jenna from central Worcester to buy

0:26:510:26:56

their dream family home.

0:26:560:26:58

With a healthy budget of £450,000,

0:26:580:27:01

they are in search of somewhere perfect for their growing family.

0:27:010:27:05

Coming up next,

0:27:050:27:06

speed will be of the essence at our Mystery House if it proves to be the

0:27:060:27:11

perfect fusion.

0:27:110:27:13

It's ideal. So far. Yeah. Very much so.

0:27:130:27:16

-Have him worried.

-I just haven't heard Ewan say it's ideal.

0:27:170:27:21

And later, I learn what it takes to keep one of the UK's most popular

0:27:210:27:25

heritage railway lines on track.

0:27:250:27:28

We are juddering around a little bit.

0:27:280:27:30

What's going on under our feet?

0:27:300:27:31

So yesterday was a good day with our young couple.

0:27:340:27:37

Two properties and two rather good reactions.

0:27:370:27:41

Sadly, not for the same home.

0:27:410:27:44

However, today we have our final offering, the Mystery House.

0:27:440:27:48

And I'm hoping we can combine the elements of those houses that they

0:27:480:27:52

liked under one roof. Hey, and if they do like it,

0:27:520:27:55

they are going to have to act rather quickly.

0:27:550:27:57

So, as we make our way down these windy, beautiful

0:28:020:28:04

country roads to the Mystery House, in your heart of hearts,

0:28:040:28:08

-what are you hoping to see?

-Probably hoping to see just a little bit more space.

0:28:080:28:12

I think, for Jenna, a little bit more space downstairs and for me,

0:28:120:28:15

a little bit more space in the bedrooms.

0:28:150:28:17

What I'm really hoping for is a hybrid of the two that we've seen already.

0:28:170:28:20

Yeah. Yeah, easy(!)

0:28:200:28:23

-Tall order.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:28:230:28:26

To locate our Mystery House,

0:28:290:28:30

we are heading to the village of Offenham in the south of the county,

0:28:300:28:34

that will warrant a slightly longer commute for Jenna.

0:28:340:28:37

The village is awash with black and white timber cottages that this

0:28:380:28:42

county is famous for and thatched roofs adorn many of the properties,

0:28:420:28:47

including the longest thatch in Worcestershire,

0:28:470:28:50

covering the tops of seven cottages.

0:28:500:28:53

Another significant site in Offenham is the tallest permanent

0:28:530:28:57

maypole in the UK, towering a majestic 64 feet above the residents here,

0:28:570:29:02

who enjoy May Day celebrations every year.

0:29:020:29:06

On a more practical note, there's a pub,

0:29:060:29:08

post office and just two miles from the centre of the village itself,

0:29:080:29:12

the property we've come to see.

0:29:120:29:14

It is final house time.

0:29:150:29:18

Here is your Mystery.

0:29:180:29:20

Ah!

0:29:200:29:23

-Wow!

-Outside space looks big, looks good. Doesn't look like too much maintenance.

0:29:230:29:27

-Yes.

-Lots of lawn.

-No, incredible.

0:29:270:29:30

-I'm dying to see inside.

-Yeah.

0:29:300:29:31

The reason we picked it and it is the Mystery...

0:29:310:29:34

-Yeah.

-..is it's hot property.

0:29:340:29:36

-OK.

-OK.

-They had an Open Day viewing just a couple of days ago.

0:29:360:29:40

-Right.

-And there has been an awful lot of interest.

0:29:400:29:43

-Right.

-OK.

-Serious interest.

0:29:430:29:44

-OK.

-The good news is, the owners haven't accepted any offers.

0:29:440:29:48

-OK.

-So we have the opportunity to show you this property.

0:29:480:29:51

-No pressure(!)

-No pressure at all!

-Great, thanks, Nicki(!)

0:29:510:29:54

So, if it is the house of your dreams...

0:29:540:29:57

-Yes.

-..you will need to move pretty quickly.

0:29:570:30:00

Shall we step inside?

0:30:000:30:01

-Yes, please.

-Yeah.

0:30:010:30:02

It will be a race against time if our couple want

0:30:020:30:05

to bag the Mystery House as any offers need to be in by the end of

0:30:050:30:09

the working day. Another former barn, this home

0:30:090:30:12

was converted in the early 1990s and has more than 1,000 extra

0:30:120:30:17

square feet than our last offering and I'm sure all that additional

0:30:170:30:22

space won't be lost on our couple.

0:30:220:30:25

I think we'll start with the kitchen.

0:30:250:30:29

-Wow!

-Wow!

0:30:290:30:31

-Yes.

-Yeah.

0:30:310:30:32

-Ah!

-I think this is probably what you're picturing, isn't it?

0:30:320:30:35

-Yes.

-Modern kitchen,

0:30:350:30:38

but it's got all the character running through it as well.

0:30:380:30:40

Definitely. Yes.

0:30:400:30:42

And open plan but also sort of separate room for dining.

0:30:420:30:47

-Yeah.

-Which is what the other house was missing.

0:30:470:30:49

-So, we are liking this.

-Very much so.

-Very much, yeah. This isn't just what Jenna wants.

0:30:490:30:53

-I think this is what I would envisage as well.

-Yeah. OK.

0:30:530:30:56

You're doing well.

0:30:560:30:58

One room down, let's see if we can continue the theme.

0:30:580:31:02

The Mystery House seems to be working its magic,

0:31:020:31:05

as these two seem in positive agreement at last.

0:31:050:31:09

Next to the kitchen, there's quite a substantial utility room but we

0:31:090:31:13

are heading across the spacious hall and into the sitting room.

0:31:130:31:17

Fair to say, I showed you the biggest room first.

0:31:170:31:20

-The kitchen.

-Yeah.

-But I know the sitting room is important to you.

0:31:200:31:23

-What do you make of this one?

-It's nice. It's cosy.

-Yeah.

0:31:230:31:26

I think it's still got the room that we need. Exactly what we were thinking, really, isn't it?

0:31:260:31:30

Yes. It's ideal.

0:31:300:31:32

So far, yeah. Very much so.

0:31:320:31:34

-Have him worried.

-I just haven't heard Ewan say it's ideal.

0:31:340:31:39

No, I agree. I think it is.

0:31:390:31:40

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

-Wonderful. Right, we will continue.

0:31:400:31:43

There's far more to explore,

0:31:440:31:46

as this home is the only one in our trio to be spread

0:31:460:31:50

across three floors. Right at the top of the house,

0:31:500:31:53

the attic space has been converted into a study.

0:31:530:31:56

Then down on the first floor are four bedrooms, all of a good size,

0:31:560:32:01

as well as a family shower room.

0:32:010:32:04

The guest bedroom has an en suite and then there are two further

0:32:040:32:08

bedrooms, ideal for children.

0:32:080:32:10

We are heading straight for the biggest bedroom.

0:32:100:32:13

So, come on through

0:32:130:32:15

to the master bedroom.

0:32:150:32:18

You only just clear that as well, don't you?

0:32:180:32:21

No heels in the bedroom.

0:32:210:32:22

-No?

-We'll leave it there. We'll leave it there.

0:32:220:32:25

-Saucy.

-This is the master. With an en suite.

0:32:250:32:28

-It's great.

-Yeah?

0:32:280:32:29

Yeah. Brilliant. Lots of character.

0:32:290:32:31

-Yes.

-A quick look in the en suite.

0:32:310:32:33

-That looks really quite snazzy in there.

-You said...

0:32:330:32:37

-Yes.

-If you could, we'd like the Mystery House to merge the first two properties you showed us.

-Yeah.

0:32:370:32:43

Yes, it has done. It has delivered.

0:32:430:32:45

-Yeah?

-It's merged them and added more space.

0:32:450:32:48

-Yes.

-Which is what I said.

0:32:480:32:49

So it's perfect.

0:32:490:32:51

There's no putting these two off.

0:32:510:32:54

I just hope they move quickly enough on this hotly sought-after property.

0:32:540:32:58

Outside, a smart patio leads onto a large but low maintenance lawn,

0:32:580:33:03

ideal for their lifestyle.

0:33:030:33:05

The home has a detached double garage,

0:33:050:33:07

as well as parking for several cars.

0:33:070:33:10

Both our previous properties have come in comfortably under their

0:33:100:33:14

budget but this one is by far the biggest,

0:33:140:33:16

so they must be anxious for me to reveal its price tag.

0:33:160:33:20

So, standing here,

0:33:200:33:21

you really can admire the Mystery House and this is all your garden.

0:33:210:33:27

This is the serious part.

0:33:270:33:30

What do we think the asking price is?

0:33:300:33:32

I'm sure you're going to stretch our budget here,

0:33:320:33:35

so I think you're going to be over at around 465, 470?

0:33:350:33:39

Yeah, I'd say about 475.

0:33:390:33:42

-I would say.

-The asking price for this property is...

0:33:420:33:46

..offers over...

0:33:470:33:49

-OK.

-..£450,000.

0:33:490:33:52

-OK.

-OK. So, we can offer them a penny over?

0:33:520:33:55

I think I might leave the negotiations to you.

0:33:570:34:00

Now, when we started off, you did say your budget was 450...

0:34:000:34:04

-Yes.

-You could perhaps have a little wiggle room on that.

0:34:040:34:07

I think that's a conversation you two need to have on your own.

0:34:070:34:10

If you do want it, you're going to have to move rather quickly.

0:34:100:34:14

At offers over £450,000, the Mystery House has a modern,

0:34:140:34:18

spacious kitchen, two separate reception areas, and four bedrooms,

0:34:180:34:23

two with en suites. Outside, there's a large but simple garden

0:34:230:34:28

with a detached double garage.

0:34:280:34:30

Increasing the commute time and stretching their budget,

0:34:300:34:33

there's a lot to consider,

0:34:330:34:35

but they will need to think on their feet if they don't want to miss out

0:34:350:34:38

on this fantastic home.

0:34:380:34:41

I love the Mystery House.

0:34:410:34:43

I think the Mystery House has almost stolen my heart,

0:34:430:34:47

has the Mystery House.

0:34:470:34:49

Really, really happy with the Mystery House.

0:34:490:34:51

Totally given me what I was hoping that we'd see.

0:34:510:34:54

I can see us living here now, but I can see us living here in 15,

0:34:540:34:59

20 years' time, which is just as important.

0:34:590:35:01

I definitely think that me and Ewan sort of would sing from the same

0:35:010:35:06

hymn sheet for this property.

0:35:060:35:08

I think it's got the perfect balance of the character and originality

0:35:080:35:11

that I'd look for and the practicality and the modern slant

0:35:110:35:16

that Ewan very much needs.

0:35:160:35:18

-Have we seen enough?

-We have.

-Yes.

0:35:180:35:21

Our final property. Have we finished on a high,

0:35:210:35:24

-I wonder?

-Oh, yes.

-Yeah?

-Definitely.

0:35:240:35:27

Yeah, you never know. We might have even finished our house search.

0:35:270:35:30

-But...

-Let's go and have a chat. You need to tell me more.

-Yeah.

0:35:300:35:34

Worcestershire's rolling hills and valleys have been shaped by the

0:35:400:35:44

meandering course of the River Severn.

0:35:440:35:47

Emerging in the Welsh mountains and snaking down through Shropshire,

0:35:470:35:50

it runs through the centre of the county before continuing on to

0:35:500:35:54

Gloucestershire and out to the Bristol Channel.

0:35:540:35:57

220 miles of river make it the longest in the UK and the Severn

0:35:570:36:03

Valley Railway has followed part of its route since it was first

0:36:030:36:07

completed in 1862.

0:36:070:36:09

The rurally located stations along this stretch of line were prime

0:36:090:36:13

targets when the Beeching report of the 1960s closed down many railway

0:36:130:36:18

lines across the UK.

0:36:180:36:20

Fortunately today, a stretch of the line is kept open and it's run by a

0:36:200:36:25

hard-working team of volunteers.

0:36:250:36:27

I've come to meet general manager Nick Rawls.

0:36:270:36:31

-Hi, Nick.

-Good morning.

0:36:310:36:32

So, even on a very wet day like today, this station looks beautiful,

0:36:320:36:37

-doesn't it?

-It does. It is. It's a perfect recreation of the past.

0:36:370:36:41

What you see today is a very English countryside station of the 1950s,

0:36:410:36:47

1960s period.

0:36:470:36:48

In the 1960s, there was massive changes,

0:36:480:36:51

wasn't there through the railways, through the Beeching report?

0:36:510:36:54

But can you explain exactly what that was?

0:36:540:36:56

Beeching was brought in by the government to look at the profitability

0:36:560:37:01

of railways around the country,

0:37:010:37:03

so small secondary routes and branch

0:37:030:37:06

lines that weren't profitable were closed.

0:37:060:37:09

These closures had a profound affect on the community and in

0:37:100:37:14

response, a group of locals got together at a pub,

0:37:140:37:17

where all the best ideas are formed,

0:37:170:37:19

determined to save this historic line

0:37:190:37:21

before the ink on the Beeching report was dry.

0:37:210:37:24

Because of Beeching and also because steam trains, steam locomotives,

0:37:250:37:28

were seeing their last great hurrah on the mainline as well,

0:37:280:37:32

they had to really get their skates on because the track was being taken

0:37:320:37:36

up just north of the station,

0:37:360:37:38

just as the volunteers were trying to save it.

0:37:380:37:42

-That's remarkable, isn't it?

-It is, it is.

0:37:420:37:44

It's part of the fabric of Worcestershire and Shropshire.

0:37:440:37:47

The successful campaign saw steam locomotives chugging through the

0:37:470:37:51

valley again in 1970 and continuing to this day,

0:37:510:37:55

supported by a dedicated team of volunteers.

0:37:550:37:59

But today, the trains aren't running.

0:37:590:38:02

I'm visiting in early spring and the line is closed for maintenance.

0:38:020:38:06

But that certainly doesn't mean it's quiet around here.

0:38:060:38:09

I want to learn exactly what it takes

0:38:090:38:11

to keep these trains on the move. Keith Brown will tell me more.

0:38:110:38:16

Do you want to explain what we are doing here today?

0:38:170:38:20

What we are trying to do today is use this mainline piece

0:38:200:38:25

of equipment to help us assess the alignment of the track

0:38:250:38:30

and by clamping the ballast and lifting

0:38:300:38:33

the rails at the same time, it will lift it to make it a smoother ride.

0:38:330:38:37

Would this have been done by hand, by labour, years ago?

0:38:370:38:40

-Exactly that.

-We are juddering around a little bit.

0:38:400:38:44

What's going on under our feet?

0:38:440:38:45

What is going on is the machine is moving forward,

0:38:450:38:49

one sleeper at a time.

0:38:490:38:50

There are then what we call tines

0:38:510:38:54

going down either side of that sleeper.

0:38:540:38:57

They are vibrating to loosen the ballast.

0:38:570:39:00

And to make it mobile.

0:39:000:39:01

And at the same time, squeezing it back under that sleeper.

0:39:010:39:06

Well, it's rattling away,

0:39:060:39:07

so it sounds like there's plenty of work being done beneath us.

0:39:070:39:11

-Correct.

-Thank you very much indeed.

-OK.

0:39:110:39:14

When the line first reopened, there were just 50 volunteers.

0:39:140:39:18

Today, there are 1,700, some even come from Australia.

0:39:180:39:22

But it's not just the track that need upkeep.

0:39:240:39:27

All the carriages and the steam locomotives,

0:39:270:39:29

including the historic Flying Scotsman, need care too.

0:39:290:39:33

In the carriage works, Graham Faulkner is working on the

0:39:330:39:36

upholstery for that world-famous train.

0:39:360:39:40

Now, you're one of the many much valued volunteers with the railway.

0:39:400:39:44

How long have you been doing it?

0:39:440:39:45

I've been doing upholstery all my life but I've been in here at the

0:39:450:39:49

assembly for four years now.

0:39:490:39:50

And I bet your skills are much valued.

0:39:500:39:53

So, what are you doing today? What are you repairing?

0:39:530:39:56

Doing some side panels

0:39:560:39:57

off one of the coaches from the 1930s.

0:39:570:40:00

-Could I have a go?

-Course you could, yes.

0:40:000:40:02

What are we doing here, then?

0:40:020:40:04

Just stapling that on near the end of the cloth, every two inches.

0:40:040:40:09

-Just pull?

-Quickly. That's it.

-Quickly.

0:40:090:40:12

-One more?

-Yeah. What you have to do then is...

0:40:120:40:16

You have to staple it round the back.

0:40:170:40:19

And why did you choose to volunteer?

0:40:190:40:21

-What do you get out of it?

-What do I get out of it?

0:40:210:40:23

-Yeah.

-The love of doing it.

-Yeah.

0:40:230:40:25

And I've always been interested in trains and it's just something I

0:40:250:40:30

-wanted to do.

-The perfect marriage.

0:40:300:40:32

-Yeah.

-Your skill and trains together.

-That's right.

0:40:320:40:35

Thanks to this dedicated team,

0:40:350:40:37

the future of the Severn Valley Railway is in good hands,

0:40:370:40:41

so that passengers can continue to enjoy this heritage route and the

0:40:410:40:45

Worcestershire countryside it passes through.

0:40:450:40:47

So, Ewan's last words to me were...

0:40:510:40:54

we might have finished the search.

0:40:540:40:56

That bodes well, in my book. But let's find out for sure.

0:40:560:41:00

Well, you two. When we started this search,

0:41:080:41:11

did you both think we were actually going to find you your next home?

0:41:110:41:15

-Honestly?

-There's a little part of me that was really hoping you would

0:41:150:41:18

show us something that would tempt us into something we wouldn't have thought of or considered.

0:41:180:41:22

Which, you know, I think you might have done.

0:41:220:41:24

-And uncover some hidden gems for us.

-So, out of the three,

0:41:240:41:29

-is there a favourite?

-Absolutely, the Mystery House.

0:41:290:41:32

-Yeah.

-It delivered on the space.

0:41:320:41:34

It had the right setup downstairs.

0:41:340:41:36

Had the right mix between feeling very rural but actually being quite

0:41:360:41:40

-close to a village.

-And it has the potential for a forever home.

0:41:400:41:43

We can really imagine our family expanding and then growing up and

0:41:430:41:48

the house sort of expanding and growing and developing with us.

0:41:480:41:51

We know there has been an awful lot of interest in that property.

0:41:510:41:55

Literally in the last week.

0:41:550:41:57

-Yeah.

-What are you going to do next about the Mystery?

0:41:570:42:00

So I think we are going to have to very quickly just do a bit more

0:42:000:42:03

research and double-check a few things.

0:42:030:42:05

But then I'm pretty positive we'll be putting some sort of offer on the

0:42:050:42:09

table for the Mystery House.

0:42:090:42:11

My goodness! Thank you, both, so much.

0:42:110:42:14

We obviously want to hear how you get on.

0:42:140:42:16

-Yes.

-Absolutely.

-I'll be expecting a call over the next 48 hours to see if that offer has gone in.

0:42:160:42:20

-We will keep everything crossed for you. Thank you, both.

-Thank you.

-Thanks, Nicki.

0:42:200:42:25

Well, it's certainly been a very positive experience,

0:42:290:42:32

house-hunting with Ewan and Jenna.

0:42:320:42:34

He loved our first house, she loved the second, and lo and behold,

0:42:340:42:39

the Mystery House had secured the deal for them both.

0:42:390:42:43

But time is of the essence and if they really want to live in that

0:42:430:42:47

fabulous home, they are going to have to put an offer in very soon.

0:42:470:42:52

And that's it from me from sunny Worcestershire.

0:42:520:42:54

I will see you again soon on Escape To The Country.

0:42:540:42:57

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

0:42:580:43:02

Wales or Northern Ireland and would like our help,

0:43:020:43:05

you can apply online at...

0:43:050:43:08

Nicki Chapman is in rural Worcestershire helping a couple who have £450,000 to realise their dream of raising their young family in the countryside. Along the way, Nicki joins the volunteers of the Severn Valley Railway, whose passion and dedication has helped keep this historic steam railway line running for over 50 years.