Margherita Taylor heads to the Cotswolds with a house-hunting couple who have a £550,000 budget.
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This incredible tree is one of over
145 champion trees
growing from strength to strength on this particular site.
Why are they champions, and where am I?
I'll tell you all in a moment.
Today, it's classic British scenery that's drawing a dynamic couple
to make the leap from a seaside town to the countryside.
And their house-hunt is a journey full of surprises.
-I wasn't expecting that.
-I'm seeing big smiles.
It's ticking quite a few boxes.
One property casts its spell before we even cross the threshold.
I'm loving the ambience of this place.
This is the sort of thing that we were looking for.
Today, I'm in the Cotswolds, and the National Arboretum in Westonbirt.
A large number of the trees here are UK champions,
either for being the tallest or for having the widest trunk,
or for being particularly rare.
Since planting first started here over 160 years ago,
things have really grown.
There are now over 2,500 different types of trees,
and it makes the perfect showground
for the National Arboricultural Show.
Everyone from tree surgeons to woodcarvers are here,
and I'm going to be exploring the show a little bit later.
First, though, let's take a look at some of the wonderful sights
the Cotswolds have to offer.
The Cotswolds is an area covering 800 square miles,
running through five counties, including Gloucestershire,
Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.
The county's largest designated
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
is characterised by undulating hills,
crisscrossed by an extensive network of dry stone walls.
Cotswold stone is a defining feature of preserved villages
such as Stanton, where impressive houses are fronted with smart,
mullioned windows, and Broad Campden,
where charming cottages bordered by country gardens
line the narrow, winding lanes.
Much of the Cotswolds' architecture harks back to the medieval
wool trade, not only the rows of workers' cottages,
but also the grander buildings and large ornate churches.
In the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds produced the best wool in Europe,
and as the industry flourished,
wealthy merchants hoping for a smooth journey to the afterlife
lavished money on what became known as wool churches.
The magnificent church of St Peter and St Paul in Northleach
is a prime example, and dubbed "The Cathedral Of the Cotswolds."
Attracting over 20 million visitors a year,
and countless escapees from city life,
the Cotswolds offer a perfect slice of English country living.
The headline for the Cotswolds property market
is that it's expensive,
especially when compared to the UK average of £327,000
for a detached home.
The Wiltshire and Oxfordshire areas err on that more expensive side,
but head west into Gloucestershire
and you will get more for your property pound.
Luckily, today's house buyers are pretty flexible
when it comes to which part of this beautiful area
they'd love to call home.
Banking administrator Maria and her operations analyst husband Tony
have been an item for 16 years.
We met each other at a black-tie event.
We were introduced to each other,
and things just really rolled from that point onwards.
-We just hit it off, didn't we?
-Yeah, we clicked.
Yeah. It was supposed to be one of these dinner and dances
where you actually had dance cards,
and you were supposed to have a dance with any of the guys or girls
on the table. We ended up dancing every dance together.
The others didn't get a look in.
And he did ask for my number when we left, so I was very happy.
-A big attraction.
-..I was going to say.
Yeah, there was a big attraction, for sure.
That attraction grew, and the couple tied the knot almost 14 years ago.
For the last 11 of those,
Maria and Tony have lived in their three-bedroom chalet-style house
in Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
After recent holidays in the English countryside,
they have decided they would like to swap the seaside for rolling hills.
We'd like to move away from the area,
simply because there's not as much activity as we would like to do.
If we've got to do any activity, or if we want to go walking,
then we have to travel quite a way for it.
Same with cycling, it's very flat around here.
When we go for walks,
we don't actually want to walk round houses and on pavements.
We want to actually go to places where we can walk on the trails.
We think we are going to find what we want
somewhere like the Cotswolds, because that's going to offer, like,
more hills, rolling countryside,
just more of what we want than the flat that we have over here.
When they make their move,
they are both keen to improve the work-life balance.
I've actually been commuting now for 33 years,
and I think it's time to slow down
and actually start enjoying life a bit more.
I'm looking forward to a quieter pace
and getting off the merry-go-round.
Having time to do things like I enjoy. I love my cooking,
I like making greeting cards.
Maybe we'll join a ramblers' club or something.
You know, we might take up fishing.
There's so many things that we could get into,
and that's why it appeals to us so much.
I'd still like to do maybe a local role, but you know,
maybe I would just work in a local company
or a local shop or something.
Tony is hoping to reduce his working days in London so he can enjoy
country life and dedicate his time to his favourite passions.
Gardening is something I enjoy doing.
It's always therapeutic to actually get away from the daily
sort of things going on in your mind, get away from work,
and it just takes your mind off things.
And that's not all.
One of my main hobbies is to do DIY.
If a place needs doing up or it needs any work on it,
then I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty
and general DIY and handyman stuff.
With their house sold, all they need now is a new country pad
that Tony can put his stamp on
so the couple can begin their new life.
We are looking for the outdoor life.
We are looking for taking up activities, getting outside,
and generally having a healthier lifestyle
than the one we've currently got.
I liken myself to a bit of a hamster on a wheel,
and I just feel like it's time to get out of the cage
and just start doing things.
And that's what we want to do.
Maria and Tony are happy to consider settling anywhere
within the Cotswolds, so we have free rein of the region
for our house hunt.
Before we set off, though,
I'm meeting up with them so they can go through the finer details
of what it is they are hoping for in their new home.
Hi. Hi. Maria, Tony, it's great to see you.
How much looking have you done in the Cotswolds so far?
Unfortunately, we haven't done any.
We've only come down for a couple of days, and we've toured the area,
and we like what we see. And we think this could be
-the next place for us.
-So, what are we looking for?
What we really need is a nice garden, a bit of land, if possible.
Only really need two or three bedrooms,
we don't need a massive place.
We'd rather have it open, so it's more open-plan.
Not really keen on cottages because of the low ceilings.
I don't want to be next to a main road, or a very busy road, anyway.
But we also want the views.
I mean, this would be perfect.
So, the style of property...? Not a...
-Not a cottage.
-Not a country cottage, unless it is open-plan.
And not really a new build, so I guess we're looking for character.
So, maybe something that's had some sort of conversion,
or something that we can convert.
So, we are literally open to what may come our way.
-So, in terms of proximity to a village...?
-Edge of a village is what we'd be looking at.
-Edge of a village.
-Even push it out and make it rural.
-So, what's in the budget?
Well, what's in our kitty, babe?
Well, we've got £550,000.
Obviously, if it needs work and the rest of it...
I mean, that is our max.
And if we get anything for around 450, we'll be very happy.
-Well, it's a great place to be...
-..and we have
gorgeous properties for you to see in this beautiful part of the world
that you could soon be calling home.
-That'd be good.
-That'd be great.
For their top budget of £550,000,
Maria and Tony are hoping for a bright,
spacious character property with high ceilings,
an open-plan kitchen-diner, and two to three bedrooms.
They'd like a feature garden, ideally with views,
and are hoping to be in a quiet location
on the outskirts of a village.
We have hand-picked a diverse assortment of properties
to show Maria and Tony, and after they have viewed each one,
they'll discover the asking price.
Our final visit, to the Mystery House,
will offer slightly more in the way of community,
but also goes all-out on space and character.
We're travelling to Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire,
in the north of the Cotswolds.
The beautiful small market town
has a history as a rich wool-trading centre
in the Middle Ages, and its high street is a vision
of honey-coloured Cotswold stone.
In the centre is the old Market Hall, built in 1627.
It was designed to provide shelter for the town's food market.
The classic Cotswolds setting attracts tourists in their droves,
and independent shops and cafes also provide for locals.
Standing 120 feet tall,
the striking tower of St James' Church,
built back in 1500, can be seen for miles around.
The neighbouring lodges and gateway
are all that remain of the old Camden House,
which burned down in the civil war.
On the edge of the town, we've arrived at this detached property.
It's nice-looking. It's got a bit of character, hasn't it?
-It's certainly got some character.
The original part of this property, 1920s.
It was a bungalow to start with, so not so much a barn conversion,
but a bungalow conversion.
And then you can see the new brick came in in 2010, 2012,
the project was finished, where the current owner has extended.
So you've got two-storey accommodation.
It actually blends quite well, doesn't it?
In character with the whole house.
It is a little mismatched, I think, for me.
Well, shall we see if the inside's a bit more of a winner for you?
-Why not? Let's have a look
-at what it's got to offer.
This unusual redbrick property has more than doubled in size
since it was first built.
It's topped with slate roof tiles,
and is finished to a very high standard inside.
A large entrance hallway, decked with flagstones,
leads us to our first stop.
Come straight in to what would be your kitchen-diner.
-Wasn't expecting that.
-Especially not with the windows on top.
-Wasn't expecting that. That's good.
-I'm seeing big smiles.
It's ticking quite a few boxes, because you've got the light,
you got the space, and I'm loving the floor.
And look at the views. You can already see the views,
-which is what we want, isn't it?
You wanted to enjoy that Cotswold countryside,
and it is literally on your doorstep.
This room is really nicely done.
Great. Well, let's see more.
We are heading across the hallway to the rear of the house.
And in you come to one of your two living spaces downstairs.
One is used as a guest bedroom at the moment...
-..but it could be a dining room.
And then this, I'm thinking, you know, after all that entertaining,
just somewhere to put your feet up at the end of the day.
My immediate reaction is it feels a little small.
I'm with Maria on this. It's probably too small for me.
Well, I imagine you would be living in that kitchen space.
-You wouldn't want to leave it, would you?
-No, for sure.
-But at the end of a busy day, nice cosy winter evening.
-And still somewhere to put your feet up.
-Well, there's lots more house to see...
..so let's keep exploring,
-and then you can then let me know what you think.
Also on the ground floor, there's a cloakroom, a handy utility,
and a space currently set up as a playroom.
We are moving upstairs,
where there are three potential bedrooms located in the eaves,
which have use of a stylish family bathroom.
One with skylights is currently used as a study,
along with two existing doubles.
There's one at the front of the house,
but we're heading to the back,
where there's a very spacious master with its own en-suite.
-This is a good size.
-That's plenty of room, isn't it?
-That's enough room for us, I think.
-And an en-suite as well.
No, liking it. And you've got the views as well.
You can see that straight away. It's really good, like it.
Well, there's so much house to explore, still.
-And of course we've got to guess the price, so...
I hadn't even thought about that! I'm so into looking at the house.
Start having a think. Let's head out into the garden and, yes,
-then we will talk money.
-Brilliant, thank you.
The property has a single garage and a good-sized enclosed garden,
with far-reaching views across the surrounding countryside.
What do you think of the outside space of this property?
-It's smaller than I thought it would be.
Obviously, you've got all the outside space,
which is absolutely beautiful, really lovely.
And I know you enjoy gardening, and this is pretty much a blank canvas.
-Lawned at the moment but, really,
-you could make this whatever you want.
-You could make it
-your own, couldn't you?
-And you said you are quite up for doing work...
-Oh, yeah, sure.
-..getting involved in a bit of a project.
-Yeah, we just have to think about
how we want to design it.
So, having had a look at the property,
and taken in these beautiful views,
what do you think this property is currently on the market for?
I think this property is on the market
I think it's on the market for £475,000.
This property is currently on the market for £550,000.
-That's a lot more than we thought.
-That's a surprise.
I wonder if that is because of the area.
Well, we're in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty....
-..in the Cotswolds...
..not too far to commute to some beautiful towns.
-It's a hot spot.
-Fair enough, yeah.
Now you know what this is on the market for,
why don't you take another look around at the space,
-and I'll meet you out the front in a few moments?
-OK, will do.
Bang on the top budget,
the price tag of this property has clearly shocked them.
That said, it's beautifully finished,
with a fabulous open-plan kitchen-diner and three bedrooms.
The garden is a fair size, providing magnificent views,
and all set in a desirable location.
Primarily, what has caught my eye about this house is the kitchen.
It has a lot of light, it has a lot of space,
and some of the other areas that have openness feel quite spacious.
I really like this house. I think it's got a lot of character.
I especially like the kitchen, with all the light coming through,
and I quite like the outlook of the property
towards the back of the property.
-So, you've had a good explore around?
-The first ever house you'd stepped inside
-in the Cotswolds?
-It is, yes.
-Are you ready to see more?
-Yes, we are.
-Come on. Let's do it.
Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire is the beautiful Cotswold Water Park.
Covering 40 square miles, it encompasses more than 150 lakes,
and is a wildlife haven.
Within the park is the Lechlade and Bushyleaze Trout Fisheries,
where amateur anglers can come to learn fly fishing
and pros can come for their catch of the day.
Maria and Tony can't wait to get stuck into countryside pursuits
when they make their move, so we have sent them along
to try their hand at fly fishing.
Tim Small set up the farm in the 1970s,
when he was one of only eight trout farmers in the UK.
Now, he is one of around 450.
So, how long have you been in business, Tim?
I've been up here fish farming since 1974.
I started when I was very young.
Started off small, doing restaurants
and local fishmongers and stuff,
grew up to doing wholesalers, supermarkets,
and actually I became the first fish farm in Europe
to get organic certification, and as a result of that,
I saw that I could actually produce fish on the farm
which are of such a good quality
that they were perfect for fishing.
Have you ever done fly fishing before?
No, I've never been fly fishing.
So what's the difference between fly fishing and the other sort?
Trout mainly feed on insects.
We are going to get you to cast an imitation fly
that imitates what they are feeding on at the moment.
There are around 70,000 fish growing here at any one time
across the ten ponds and raceways,
and around 4,000 swimming in the two fishing lakes.
These are restocked at least twice a week.
Now it's time for an introduction to the different types of flies.
Tony has a little experience in coarse fishing,
but Maria is a relative novice.
So, this is a mayfly.
This one here is a damselfly, but the one they really love are these,
which are called a buzzer, and that is like a mosquito larva.
And they adore those, they prefer them to these.
So, I'll hand you over to Nick. Have a great time,
-and I shall see you later.
-Thank you, brilliant.
Thanks a lot.
It's fishery manager Nick Mackie who is going to teach the pair how to,
hopefully, catch a fish in Bushyleaze Lake behind them.
Generally with fishing and fly fishing, it's all hands,
so you are pulling the line off and keeping it in your hand.
And on the end here, we have got a fly that I put on ready earlier,
which is a little damsel. If you want to have a hold of that...?
-It's quite light, actually. Lighter than I thought.
-Yeah, they are.
-Can't wait to get out there and give this a go.
But before they hit the water for real,
they need to know how to cast correctly.
So, all we are doing is plying off a bit of line and going back and fall.
We call it a ten to two.
So, if you imagine a clock face, you are just going ten to two.
And then right at the very end when you cast,
you just drop your rod down and let the line come out like that.
-And if you just want to have a go, Maria.
And then you just want to lift up...
And go ten to two,
ten to two, ten to two.
So, same thing, Tony, if you just pick the rod up for us.
And you've done a bit of fishing before,
so you've got to remember that you're not casting one single,
you're going back and forth.
So, as I say, ten to two.
That's it. Perfect.
That's it. And if we just go back over to here.
Protective glasses and headwear on, they're ready to fish.
And we'll hopefully catch some fish.
The sunglasses not only help with the glare from the sunlight
on the water, but protect against any stray fishing hooks.
So, if you just hold it in your hand there,
-but be careful because obviously it's a hook.
And you just want to drop that into the water now.
-Just let that go down into the water.
And then peel off a little bit of line, as we were before.
-Is that enough?
-Yeah, that should be fine.
And then you want to come back out and then cast out,
again with the ten to two.
Let that go. That's it, straight on top of him, look at that,
-There we go.
-If you come round to my right, Tony,
-because you're right-handed, aren't you?
-Yeah, I am.
And you're just doing that ten to two action again.
A little bit of line out with your hand as it goes forward.
That's it. And then last one, and let that go.
-They're taking the bait.
-We've got you hooked, have we?
-You definitely have.
-Practice makes perfect.
-It does, it does.
The more you do something, the better you get at it.
And if you're going to come back and do it again,
and keep doing it and keep doing it, you will find that, over time,
it becomes sort of a natural...
Almost as much as walking and riding a bike.
Once you know how to do it, you never forget it.
It's certainly been a lot of fun.
-Well, Nick, thanks for the lesson.
-That's all right.
-No doubt we'll see you again.
-Best of luck, guys.
-Thanks very much.
Although there's no bite today,
lets hope that our house hunt results in us reeling in
a great property catch here in the Cotswolds.
It's day two of our Cotswolds property adventure,
seeking out a country escape for Maria and Tony
from Southend-on-Sea in Essex to call home.
They've got a budget of £550,000
to spend on a spacious character property
with an attractive garden.
Still to come, church bells may chime
when our Mystery House is revealed.
So, every Sunday morning, as you lie in bed,
you may hear a little singing waking you with your morning cuppa
-and the papers.
-Depends what time they start, I think!
And top tree experts show off the impressive art of knot tying.
Stop the clock! Wow, 26 seconds!
You smashed the record!
It's a new day, and there are still two more houses to see.
Later, of course, there's the Mystery House,
which might not be quite the rural escape our couple had in mind.
But first, I'm going to show them a house on a hill.
Our next property stop is in the village of Eastcombe
in Gloucestershire, towards the west of the Cotswolds.
Sitting on a hilltop,
the village has spectacular views across the Toadsmoor Valley,
including from the local pub,
where visitors can enjoy the outlook while stopping for refreshment
after a beautiful country walk.
On the edge of Eastcombe,
we've arrived at this detached Cotswold-stone property,
which benefits from its elevated position.
So here we are, Maria, Tony, in the Cotswolds, your Cotswold cottage.
-That is nice.
-That is really, really nice.
Loving the ambience of this place.
We're getting the height, and you know the views are going to come.
Suddenly, they just open up.
This is the sort of thing that we were looking for.
And the house has got heaps of character.
-It was an old worker's cottage.
-Well, originally, two...
-..but they converted years ago.
-Shall we get inside and see more?
This cottage is thought to date back to the early 1800s,
and with that history comes character charm.
It's been extended twice in its lifetime.
We are entering into a galley kitchen which forms
part of the extension, and accommodates a dining area.
-Views are great.
-Straight over the valley.
-Shame about the kitchen size, but the view is there.
Do you like what's here already?
It's lovely. You know, it's woodwork surfaces, they look great.
What's here is nice.
Well, this is the newer part of the property.
-Let's go into the older part of the house, your living area.
At the front of the cottage is the open-plan sitting room.
So, this was the original worker's cottage,
or the two of them separated, joined together.
I'm loving looking at the stonework in the lounge.
Just brings the cottage alive.
There's a lot of light coming through from various windows.
-Cos it opens it up, doesn't it, around to this area.
-This one isn't listed...
-..so in terms of adding different doors in...
-..or even extending out into that patio space at the back...
-..and maybe up as well, to give you even more space
in the property. Or here, extending out onto the patio
-with your kitchen.
-I'm liking the sound of that.
-You've got options here.
-That's what we like.
-Shall we take a look upstairs?
-OK, come this way.
An open wooden stairway leads to the first floor,
where there's a tiled family bathroom and three bedrooms.
There's one with a contemporary cottage feel in the extension,
a smaller one in the main part of the house,
and next door is the master.
Quite high ceilings for a cottage,
and waking up with those lovely views of the valley.
I mean, as a bedroom size for a cottage, it's a good size.
-You've got a proper bed, a king-size bed.
Yeah, it's a cottage, so rooms traditionally are smaller.
It's now trying to figure out how you would configure them.
It's lovely as it is, but I think we would need to make a few changes.
Quite a few changes.
I want you to see the garden, so let's head out
-and have another look.
-And let's guess the price.
Yeah, all right.
-With all the work involved...
-With the work involved!
At the rear of the property is an enclosed courtyard and shed.
And at the front, as we've already seen,
there's a tiered landscape garden surrounded by trees and borders
with a large raised patio
from which to take in the stunning outlook and beautiful sunsets.
Lovely views. The peace and quiet.
It's almost like you've got different rooms out here.
Yeah. Obviously, it's not your traditional garden, but then,
we weren't looking for traditional.
I quite like the idea of having different sections in the garden
-as a whole.
-Bearing that in mind, what do you think this property,
with these amazing views, is currently on the market for?
I think this property is on the market for...
-Tony, what do you think?
-I would have to go low as well.
My initial thought was around £425,000.
This property is currently on the market for £410,000.
I'm glad it is that much under budget
and we are on the right wavelength
for what we can get for our money,
including those wonderful views,
but allowing us to add our stamp to the property.
Well, knowing that now, do you want to take another look around,
and we'll catch up once those cogs have whirred a bit more?
-We can start moving walls now!
I'll come see the plans once you've had a little look round!
-See you in a bit.
-See you later.
This gorgeous Cotswold-stone period cottage is priced
£140,000 below the top budget,
which would allow Maria and Tony the freedom
to really put their stamp on it.
It's full of character both inside and out,
gives them three bedrooms, and a delightful garden
with spectacular views.
The village location means amenities are close to hand.
I think this house is in a great location.
It's got all the countryside that we are looking for.
It is a little small as it stands,
but we can see that there's potential
to knock a few walls here and there
to make it our own.
I think this place is lovely. I think the space has got
a lot of character, it's in a wonderful position,
some great views.
However, I think it's probably a little bit small in places,
we would need to do some work to it to give us the space
that we are looking for.
When I walk around this property,
I get a good feel for the actual ambience of the house.
It's feeling nice and quiet and peaceful,
and the general layout of the property is really good.
Great, lots of smiles, still. I'm liking this.
-Had a good look round?
-Yes, we have.
-Yeah, we had a good look around,
and I think the both of us have knocked a few walls out,
and we're happy, within the budget,
we are going to be able to make it our own if we wish to.
-Great, sounds good, lots to talk about.
Our final journey to the mystery property takes us to the village of
Tytherington in the south of Gloucestershire,
and to the west of the Cotswolds.
There's a real sense of community here,
with a village shop run by residents,
a post office, and a village hall.
There's also a 16th-century dining pub and two churches,
one neighbouring our last offering,
which is approached down a gravel driveway.
As Maria and Tony will see,
our Mystery House may be in an unexpected setting,
which will mean compromising on those far-reaching views,
but if they can do that, they'll be suitably rewarded.
So, here we are - the Mystery House.
That's different and interesting.
-That's quite big.
-I take it it's the whole thing?
-It's the whole thing.
-OK, that's impressive.
Looks good from the outside.
It's a lot of character, and plenty of space.
It was built, they believe, at the same time as the chapel next door...
And I know you wanted a sort of edge-of-village location,
and this is a quiet village,
but you are next to almost the heart and soul of the village, the chapel.
-So every Sunday morning, as you lie in bed,
you may hear a little singing waking you with your morning cuppa
and the papers.
That's every other Sunday.
-Depends what time they start!
-But you like the looks of it?
It's got a lot of character, and it looks a really good size.
-Yeah, I like it.
-Shall we get in?
This handsome Mystery House was built by the local squire,
originally as a bakehouse.
It's constructed from local Tytherington quarry stone.
The property was never used as a bakehouse,
and was converted into two cottages, then later into one dwelling.
We are entering through a sun room and starting our tour
on the ground floor.
The original part of the house is made up of three reception rooms,
with a kitchen, shower room and sunroom later additions.
We are starting our tour in a large drawing room,
which boasts an Indian slate floor.
So, come through into one of three living spaces
-in the house.
-This is the largest of them.
Next door, you've got a dining room, and then there's a snug...
-..at the end as well.
-This is nice-size room.
-It's a good-size room.
-I love the slate floor.
-Lovely Rajasthan slate, here.
And then you can put your Persian rug or something there
to give it a bit of colour and change it.
-So, a good start?
-It is a good start, yeah.
-It is a good start.
The kitchen-diner is always the heart, for you, of the home.
-It's the hub of our home.
-Shall we see what this house
-has on offer for you?
-Yeah. Let's go.
Come through into your farmhouse kitchen-diner.
OK! That's a different layout than I would have anticipated,
-I have to admit.
-What were you imagining, then?
Probably more standard, where you've got work surfaces
-all the way around.
-It's big enough, isn't it?
So, what I was thinking for you two is you knock through.
There's a shower room behind here,
and then you've also got that garden room
-where the main front door comes into...
-OK, I see.
..which was added on in 2000. Knock this whole thing through...
-Through, and just...
-That's sounding more like what I'd like to see.
Yeah. You could certainly open that wall up,
have a lot more light come through.
-Options are there.
-Shall we see more?
-Let's head upstairs.
I'm glad Tony is thinking through
how they can make the layout work for them.
Upstairs would give them three bedrooms,
all serviced by a characterful family bathroom.
They are all good-sized doubles,
two with feature fireplaces,
one which is in the master.
Nice high ceilings as well, a good size.
A good-size room. You would have room to put some storage.
You've got enough wardrobe space here!
Each bedroom, you could put a big couple of wardrobes in there.
-It's a good-sized bedroom.
And on this one, you've got a loft hatch above.
-Now, these walls are thick as.
-But the next middle bedroom also has a loft hatch.
-And the current owner has thought about
going up into the loft and
then creating another bedroom space up there.
And we'll head outside, and you can
also get a sense of the outside space
-that you get with this property...
-..and then we'll talk price.
Our Mystery House may be in the heart of the village,
but it has a generous garden that extends to a third of an acre.
It's laid to lawn and surrounded by attractive hedges and flower beds.
There is also a useful double garage.
It looks like it's been well looked after. Nice garden.
Yeah, it's a good amount of space.
Well, it's time to talk money.
What do you think the Mystery House is currently on the market for?
Well, I'm going to go straight in with about 485.
I think it's a bit less than that.
I think this property is on the market for...
The mystery property is currently on the market for...
-I can understand that.
It is actually a really big house.
There's a lot of space here.
Why don't you take another look around the Mystery House,
get a sense of what you do get for your money here,
-and I'll catch up with you in a moment?
Our late 19th-century stone Mystery House
comes in £25,000 below budget,
and whilst being located
in the heart of a charming Cotswold village,
it provides generous and adaptable spaces.
There's the potential to create
a fabulous open-plan kitchen-diner,
plus three reception rooms and a sunroom.
As requested, it has three bedrooms
and a pretty garden.
This house has got some absolutely great features.
You've got beautiful flagstone, lovely tall ceilings,
and it's really roomy.
The Mystery House has a lot of space, has a lot to offer.
Hi, good to see you again.
-Right, time for a cuppa?
-Come on, let's do that.
Around a tenth of the Cotswolds countryside
is given over to forests and woodland
with ash and beech trees the most prevalent.
Westonbirt, the National Arboretum near Tetbury,
is home to 15,000 tree specimens
and includes 2,500 species from across the globe.
The Arboretum is hosting the ARB Show, which I'm at today.
It is the Arboricultural Association's annual trade show
which brings together experts from the tree world
and attracts visitors from far afield.
Jake O'Kean is a former chairman of the association.
You are the man in the know, what is arboriculture?
Have I said it correctly?
You have said it perfectly.
Arboriculture is really the science of looking after trees
where people live, where they play and where they work.
It's different to forestry.
Forestry is where you would grow trees as a crop,
so producing timber or providing large spaces for recreation.
But arboriculture tends to be carried out in our urban areas.
Why is that important?
It's good for our psychological and physiological wellbeing.
Essentially, we love to have trees around us.
Not only that, they are actually cooling our cities,
they are providing the air that we breathe...
They are just wonderful.
This annual event has been running for 19 years
and after being located at two previous sites
has moved to the Arboretum.
It seems huge,
giant machinery everywhere,
people climbing gigantic trees.
Yeah, and that's the beauty of this industry, or this sector,
that whatever your interests, whatever your motivations,
there's something for you in it.
If someone is coming to the show for the first time,
what are the two or three things they must go and see?
For a start, they've got to go and see the climbing.
You've got to see the physical skills these people have.
You can go and see, for instance,
some of the big machines that are here,
if you love that sort of thing.
Go and talk to the educationalists,
because it's such a rewarding industry,
go and find out how you can learn about arboriculture.
Well, there's obviously a lot of passion
to be found in the tree world and my next stop is with
tree surgeon and champion knot tier,
He's running a knot tying competition.
So, Nick, tell me, why knots at the show here?
They are really important to every aspect of our jobs.
They keep us safe in the trees, save our lives.
We use them for bringing branches down
and even just tying ladders on the roof to drive down the motorway.
So every aspect of our job involves knots.
How did you get involved?
I did some training, did an evening course,
did my chainsaw licence and got a job with a tree surgery company.
And now I am running my own business
and I always say, "I've got the best job in the world,"
I absolutely love what I do.
And it seems to be quite a competitive field
when it comes to the knots because at the show today
someone will be coming out an ARB champion?
Yeah, we will have the knot tying champion.
We've got five knots you tie in every day arboricultural work
and we tie them against the clock
and whoever's fastest wins the prize.
We have a few leaders at the moment.
-Is this you?
-That is me.
Probably get the times down to near 20 seconds by the end of the day.
So this is 30 seconds for five knots?
-Can anyone have a go?
Absolutely, we had a little nine-year-old girl last year.
She started off doing 1:29 for her first attempt.
By the end of the day she got down to 28, 29 seconds.
After hearing all about this competitive and important skill,
I want to see Nick in action.
-Nick, you ready?
I think this is the most complicated one.
Seven seconds, eight seconds, done.
Getting a bit easier as they work their way down.
12 seconds. 13 seconds, Nick.
Two knots down.
Wow, that was fast, almost didn't even see that one.
Stop the clock.
You smashed the record.
That was impressive.
And my final visit today is to Simon O'Rourke,
he is a chainsaw carver.
He turns unwanted wood into a beautiful art form.
Simon, it was amazing watching you work, creating this.
You take this all over the world?
I do, yes. I've competed in all sorts of places.
Watching you work, I have to admit, it looks dangerous.
I'm guessing I shouldn't try this at home?
-Is it dangerous?
It is dangerous, it's like anything, proper training will
set you up to use anything in the correct manner.
What is it about working with wood in this way that you enjoy so much?
I enjoy the speed...
..and I've always been an artist.
I was a trained illustrator and then a tree surgeon,
which is what brought me into it.
I love the texture it leaves as well,
it's like tool markings on the wood,
like when you sculpt clay and
you get the thumb marks and the fingermarks.
And is there a best type of wood to use
when you are carving in this way?
The quickest wood to carve are the softwoods.
I use a lot of oak,
I use some of the softwoods,
I use Western red Cedar or Redwood.
And does sustainability come into your work in any way?
It does, all of the wood I get is
usually from either forestry contractors or tree surgeons.
Simon, it's been fantastic seeing you work
and experiencing the ARB Show,
I can see why it's such a pull.
-Thank you for your time.
I've left Tony and Maria having a cuppa and a think
about all the properties that we've shown them.
I can't wait to find out what their next move is going to be.
Hi, lovely to catch-up again.
-I can't wait to find out,
do we have a favourite from all the properties we've seen?
The favourite from me was the hillside.
The house with the lovely views?
-Breathtaking, weren't they, those views?
I would agree. It's my favourite out of what we've seen.
But it wasn't quite, quite perfect for you?
No, it was actually quite small, the actual cottage, for us.
Although there was room to extend out into the garden area,
but because it was quite a small courtyard,
we felt that would make the garden a little bit too small.
What did you think of the properties we've shown you?
We liked aspects in most of the houses,
the bungalow conversion had a great kitchen,
light coming through the ceiling, absolutely wonderful.
The one on the hill, as we have said, it was our favourite.
The views on that property were absolutely amazing.
We almost want to take the views of that property,
we want to take the character of that property.
I think we'd like to take the kitchen-diner of the conversion.
But obviously you can't do that and
we understand that you compromise with
what you are looking for and each of the properties we viewed over the
last couple of days has given us a lot of information
as to what we think would be our ideal property.
So where does that leave us now?
It leaves us with a good, clear idea of what we actually do want,
where we want to be and what we won't accept.
Until you actually get here and look around,
there's so many different areas,
it's hard to sort of know where you want to be,
but having been around everywhere,
I think we've got a clear idea now of what we think we like.
Well, we wish you all the best with your property search
and please do let us know when you find that dream place.
We will and thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to view a
number of properties that we wouldn't have done on our own.
-It's been a pleasure. Good luck with it all.
Exploring the Cotswolds really has
helped Tony and Maria confirm that this is absolutely
the place they want to start the next chapter of their lives.
And through the properties we've shown them,
they've really crystallised what they want on that must-have list for
their new dream home.
I'm sure it's out there for them and
I look forward to hearing from them soon
that they have found the perfect property.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
If you would like to escape to the country in England, Scotland,
Northern Ireland or Wales and need our help,
you can apply online at...
Margherita Taylor heads to the Cotswolds with a house-hunting couple who have a £550,000 budget and a dream of swapping coastal life in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, for views of rolling countryside.
Along the way, Margherita visits Westonbirt, The National Arboretum where the annual arboricultural show is in full swing, and sees tree experts putting a range of impressive skills into action.