Dorset Escape to the Country


Dorset

Jules Hudson is in the Dorset countryside to help a couple make the move from Queensland, Australia, who are looking forward to enjoying village life in cooler climes.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Escape To The Country.

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Now, from within this rather dramatic coastline behind me came

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the essential building blocks used in the reconstruction of London

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following the Great Fire of 1666.

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And with that claim to fame, it's fitting, then,

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that over a century ago a local writer here

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should have described it as "A peninsula carved by time

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"from a single stone."

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But who said it and where was he talking about?

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

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Today our house-hunting couple want to escape the searing heat

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of the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy the charms of rural England.

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Wow, this is more like it. This is a real country kitchen.

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But whether our properties measure up remains to be seen.

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Your thoughts, sir?

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Er, it's compact!

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Is that Australian for small?

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Well, today I'm in Dorset and more specifically

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I'm in the heart of one of the old quarries here

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on the Isle of Portland that local legend Thomas Hardy found so inspiring.

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Now, they've been excavating this stuff since the 17th century.

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The beautiful fine-grained Portland stone.

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Sir Christopher Wren used it in his rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral

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following the Great Fire of London back in 1666

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and since then, well, it's adorned some of the most important

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architectural landmarks, not just in Britain, but also around the world.

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Amongst them, Buckingham Palace, the Port of Liverpool Building,

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Manchester's Central library.

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Even the exterior of the United Nations in New York.

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Now, whilst today there are still a few quarries operating here,

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this one has carved out a new lease of life

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celebrating the heritage of this part of the coast

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in a very creative and artistic way.

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I'll be back here later on, finding out a little more about how they've done it,

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but in the meantime, well, here's a taste

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of what the rest of Dorset has to offer.

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Dorset takes pride of place along England's south coast,

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with Devon to the west and Hampshire to the east.

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It's a county with 100 miles of stunning heritage coastline,

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made up of long pebbly beaches and vertical cliffs which,

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when battered by the sea, reveal a unique geological record

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of the Earth, dating back 185 million years.

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Beaches such as Charmouth are a haven for fossil hunters both young and old.

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Unspoiled by cities and motorways, the county's many villages

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retain a character and charm of days gone by.

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Abbotsbury, a mile inland from the coast, is one of the most

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visited, with many buildings dating back to the 16th century,

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overlooked by a medieval chapel built by the monks of a now ruinous abbey.

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Many of Dorset's pretty towns are fringed by the coast.

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Lyme Regis is known for its curved harbour wall, The Cobb,

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and was the setting for Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.

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With Dorset's rich cultural heritage and array of natural landmarks,

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some millions of years in the making,

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there's no doubt this county is a compelling choice for those

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seeking that picture perfect image of the English countryside.

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Now, if you follow those quality-of-life surveys,

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you may notice that Dorset regularly gets a mention

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as one of the best places to live

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in the UK, but - no surprise - that appeal does come at a cost.

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Currently, the average price of a detached property here is some £410,000.

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That's £80,000 above the national average.

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And if you talk to the locals, well, they'll tell you

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that Dorset can provide a higher life expectancy.

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Maybe that's why many people choose to retire here.

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Whatever the truth of it, well, word has clearly got out,

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because today's buyers, well, they've decided to travel from

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the other side of the world just to live here.

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Alan and Gwenda are from Queensland, Australia,

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and have arrived in a chilly UK to begin their property hunt in earnest.

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They've been together for more than 50 years.

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We met at a local what they called a record hop.

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I went with my sister to the record hop and met Alan there

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and he asked to take us home so it had to be with my sister

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so we both went home with him at that stage.

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From thereon, we just knew from the first week we went out

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that we'd be together.

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Love at first sight, I can still remember that night.

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Gwenda's a very soft, gentle, generous, loving person.

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Great mother and a great wife.

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Gwenda's late grandfather was a British Merchant Navy officer

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who settled in Australia in the 1920s.

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Although Gwenda and Alan have holidayed in the UK,

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it's always been her desire to return to her ancestral homeland

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on a more permanent basis.

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The first trip to England, I felt so at home, as though I'd come home.

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Every time we come here we're comfortable here.

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One of their first trips to the UK involved a stop off in Dorset

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and they were immediately struck by the county's beauty.

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We were driving a little back road cos we chose to do the back roads,

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and we came across a scene that just made us stop

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and we got out of the car and just lent over the gate

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between two hedges and just looked down over the countryside

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and just thought, "This is just beautiful."

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That was probably the first time we thought,

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"Yes, it'd be nice to live here."

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Until he retired five years ago, Alan worked

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in the Australian music industry,

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spending long periods away from home.

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Gwenda was a lab technician before retiring to help look after

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their six grandchildren in Brisbane.

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With our grandchildren now almost all grown up

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and finished school, I don't have the responsibilities

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I used to have, or we used to have, looking after them,

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and I think now that we've both retired,

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we can now fulfil our lifelong dream of coming to live in the UK

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and just doing what we would like to do for a while.

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As Queensland's summer temperatures often exceed 30 degrees Celsius,

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they're looking forward to cooler climes to enjoy their hobbies

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which, for Alan, includes walking.

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To go into the countryside here is much different

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to going into the Australian bush.

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It's softer, more gentle, easier.

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I'm hoping where we're going we'll just be able to get out

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and enjoy that walk and enjoy the country.

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If I came to live in England, the weather would be a lot cooler

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and I'd probably get more into knitting and crocheting

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cos it's a bit hot in Australia at the summertime of the year.

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So after 52 years of marriage but with long periods

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spent apart from each other, this move to the UK countryside

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is a chance for them to enjoy new-found freedom during their golden years.

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It's a lifestyle change now.

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To be here means that we're together,

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we can go and do whatever we'd like, when we like, as we like.

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Alan and Gwenda would like us to concentrate our property search

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in the villages around the county town of Dorchester.

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I'm meeting up with them on a rather wet spring morning

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to find out what they're looking for in their English country home.

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Welcome to Dorset. Where do we start with you two, then?

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Coming all the way from Australia to the less-than-warm

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climate of Dorset at the moment.

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-Why here?

-We're looking for the best of both worlds.

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We're looking to spend six months of the hot weather

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out of Australia here and six months of the beautiful winter

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around 26 degrees Celsius every day in Australia.

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So give us an idea of the sort of property

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that you are thinking of, because the property market here

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clearly is very different to what you're used to in Australia.

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And I think that is what attracts us to the properties here.

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They look very quaint.

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We've had the big house and we got a big unit we live in now,

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but I think I want something a bit smaller and a bit more cosy.

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With a small garden.

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How much space are we after, in terms of bedrooms

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and reception rooms and that sort of thing?

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We would like at least three bedrooms

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and room for an office for Alan.

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What you call a reception room here, which would be a lounge room for us.

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-Yeah.

-We've talked about a big country-style kitchen,

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a good country-style kitchen.

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Open plan into the dining room so that we've got that space.

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For me, I'd like a garage, definitely, for the car.

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Are you keen on being within a community, within a village?

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We don't want to be remote. We actually like people!

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THEY ALL LAUGH Good, good!

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Now, give us an idea of how much you're planning to spend on this.

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We'd be looking at investing somewhere in the vicinity of about 450,000.

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-Tops.

-450,000 British pounds?

-That's it.

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Right, well, look. The sun is coming out.

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It's not quite 26 degrees, Alan, but you don't really want that, do you?

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-No.

-I don't, I want it like this.

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Well, let's go and see if we can spend your money

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and find you a toehold in Dorset.

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-Thank you.

-Let's go.

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After you.

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With a maximum budget of £450,000, Alan and Gwenda would like

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a cottage-style property with a country kitchen.

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It should provide them with three bedrooms,

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along with an office and garage for Alan.

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The garden should be manageable

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and they'd like to be close to a thriving community.

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We've scoured the rural property market for a rich mix

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of delightful Dorset country homes to show them,

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but I won't reveal the price of each one until after the tour.

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Lastly, the mystery house will offer our Antipodean pair

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something they won't be used to, but will hopefully love.

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So, in considering the properties that we might show you,

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are there any things that you don't want?

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-We do have a bit of a reservation about thatched roofs.

-Yeah.

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Because we're not familiar with them in Australia,

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we don't have them there, so... But that's not ruling it out, though.

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We need to learn a lot more about them.

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It's certainly part and parcel of the architectural landscape here.

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Property one is located in the village of Sutton Poyntz,

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just outside the seaside town of Weymouth.

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Tucked away beneath the chalky Dorset Downs,

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there's a popular gastropub and a historic mill pond.

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In 1908, a serious fire broke out in the village,

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but by the time the fire brigade arrived,

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almost a quarter of a mile of buildings were alight.

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Work on restoration of the village began in 1962,

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and today it retains much of its traditional character.

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Our first house is situated on the village outskirts.

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There we are. That's what I thought we would start with.

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-What do you think?

-Oh, I love the colour.

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-I love the stone colour.

-Nice, really nice.

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Now, the reason I thought this one would be of interest is because,

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built in 2004,

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it looks as if the builders have just finished it, to be honest.

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Given the way you want to use your new home,

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being able to lock up and leave and know that it's well cared for,

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I think this is quite a good option.

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I think it's been done really sympathetically to the area,

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-for a new build.

-Good, right, then, let's make a start.

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Let's see what you think. Good.

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This contemporary architect-designed property has an interior

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that's modern and manageable.

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There we are, Alan. Straight into the kitchen. Your thoughts, sir?

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-Er, it's compact. It's compact.

-THEY LAUGH

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Is that Australian for small?

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No, it's compact. No, seriously, it's good.

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-It's got everything you'd want. It's modern.

-I like it.

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I like the size of it, yeah. Plenty of bench space.

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There's not a lot to be done, from what I can see so far.

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I don't want to give you a project, you see.

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No, we definitely don't want a project!

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-You will not give me a project!

-I won't. Believe you, me, I won't.

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Come on, let's have a look at the rest of it.

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It might not be the old-style country kitchen they were after,

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but Alan and Gwenda seem open to the idea of a more practical option.

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The combined living and dining room is to the rear of the property.

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And I suppose there's no getting away from the compact theme

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in the living room.

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-It's true. It's quite small, isn't it?

-It is.

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It's nice, but it's...cosy.

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I mean, what they've done here...

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This, believe it or not, was a solid wall.

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I think rather clearly they've put in this glazed bifold door

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arrangement, so the whole thing would open up to give you

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more of a kind of family entertaining space.

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It's a house that lends itself to be minimalistic, isn't it, really?

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-You know, don't want it over cluttered.

-Over cluttered.

-Yeah.

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I'm beginning to sense that cosy might mean too small,

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but the wall between the kitchen and living room could be removed,

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opening up the ground floor,

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or they could build a conservatory at the rear, subject to consent.

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Upstairs, the three bedrooms are arranged off a main landing

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and include a bright double with skylights and walk-in wardrobe,

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along with a single currently used as a music room.

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There's also a three-piece family bathroom

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and then finally the master.

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We're thinking this would be yours cos it's got the shower en suite.

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All the rooms have got really good built-in storage.

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This one being no exception.

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-It's very nice, it's well done.

-Yeah, I like the colour scheme.

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Yeah. So what's the bottom line at the end of it all?

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Let's go to the garden and then I'll give you lowdown.

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Go on, mate, after you.

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To the side of the property there's a single garage for Alan's car.

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The pleasant, south-facing garden at the back

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is largely laid to lawn, with planted beds which would be easy to

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maintain when Alan and Gwenda are away travelling.

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Is this the sort of thing that you regard as manageable?

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-Definitely, yes. It's a perfect space, yes.

-Exactly.

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Let's cut to the chase. Madam, make me an offer on the first one.

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I'd go about £400,000.

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£400,000. Alan?

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I think on the size of it I'd be talking somewhere around the 350 to 360.

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This is currently on the market for £425,000.

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Right. Way out.

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Well, you were way out. You weren't far off, to be fair.

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And, look, you know,

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you are tackling a completely different property market

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to what you're used to, so I'm going to forgive you any errors there.

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Go and have a wander around and I will come and find you later on.

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-Thank you.

-Off you go.

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See what you might do... with your change.

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Under budget by £25,000, our first offering is a modern stone-built

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property with a clean, contemporary interior and simple layout.

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It gives them their three bedrooms, a manageable garden,

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and it's located in a very desirable Dorset village.

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I liked the look of it from the outside.

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I liked the house from the outside, it looks lovely.

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Inside, it doesn't disappoint. It's a lovely home.

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The space inside the house, my thoughts on that

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at this point in time are that, for me, it's a little tight.

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This whole area into the lounge room needs to be open.

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You've got those beautiful doors leading on to what,

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there could be a fantastic conservatory built there.

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So where it feels close and closed at the moment,

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it could in real terms be opened up

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and made to feel three to four times bigger than it is.

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-There we are. All done?

-We are, yes.

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Now, then. You're used to cold beer, aren't you, in Australia?

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We are.

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Let me introduce you to the warm stuff. Come on, let's have lunch.

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Come on, let's go.

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When they move to rural Dorset,

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Gwenda and Alan are keen to find volunteering opportunities as

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a way to discover new pursuits, get involved in their local community

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and immerse themselves in country living.

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To gain an insight into the historic houses

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and farming life in Britain, we've sent them to Kingston Maurward,

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a handsome 18th-century property built for the then Prime Minister

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William Pitt's cousin George Pitt,

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and set in a glorious 750-acre estate.

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The Grade I-listed building houses an agricultural college

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and an animal park,

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along with beautifully landscaped Grade II-listed gardens.

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Gwenda and Alan have come to meet Luke Rake, the principle here,

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to learn more about the estate

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and find out what volunteering opportunities there are today.

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We're hoping you can give us some history about this home behind us.

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Absolutely.

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The house was built in 1720, originally in brick,

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and the building that you see behind us at the moment

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clearly isn't covered in brick.

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It's covered in Portland stone which was quarried locally.

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The reason for that is that King George III in the 1790s

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felt that brick was not fashionable enough and so,

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to maintain patronage, the owner of the house at the time

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very quickly clad what is now a very familiar white stone.

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Not only do we have this amazing house,

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but we have a literary connection with Thomas Hardy.

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So Thomas Hardy lived on the estate.

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His family were raised on the estate and he worshipped in the church

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just about 400 metres from where we're standing now here.

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And tell me, what opportunities are there for the locals to become

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involved in any, say, volunteering activities with the college?

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There's quite a few. The gardens that we'll see today are immense.

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You know, we've got 30 acres of formal gardens

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as well as the 750 acres of the estate.

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So we actually have quite a lot of people that come in locally

0:17:490:17:52

to help and support the college in a whole range of ways.

0:17:520:17:54

The animal park is also an area that welcomes volunteers.

0:17:550:17:59

It's one of only 19 sites in England accredited

0:17:590:18:02

by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust to keep and promote rare breeds.

0:18:020:18:07

Head animal park technician Barbara manages the animal park

0:18:080:18:12

and is passionate about conservation.

0:18:120:18:14

Gwenda and Alan are meeting her to learn about some of the native breeds at risk.

0:18:150:18:19

Could you tell us about this breed of sheep here behind us?

0:18:200:18:23

Yes, Portland sheep are very, very hardy, but because they only produce

0:18:230:18:28

usually one lamb and they're quite small in size,

0:18:280:18:32

the sheep and the lambs,

0:18:320:18:34

they went out of popularity and nearly became extinct.

0:18:340:18:38

-That would have been sad, wouldn't it?

-Oh! It would have been tragic.

0:18:390:18:42

It would be really sad to lose some of England's finest animals

0:18:420:18:48

simply because they're not large enough for today's commercial market.

0:18:480:18:52

So, yes, we're expecting lambs from these and, at the moment,

0:18:520:18:57

we've got a Manx Loaghtan sheep, which are also rare breed sheep,

0:18:570:19:01

they're chocolate brown.

0:19:010:19:03

They've just started popping out lambs.

0:19:030:19:06

-Oh, wow.

-In fact, we had a set of twins last night!

0:19:060:19:09

Another Manx Loaghtan ewe here recently had triplets

0:19:100:19:13

but sadly she rejected one of them, called Benji.

0:19:130:19:16

Barbara and the staff here are now hand-rearing him

0:19:170:19:20

and Gwenda and Alan are going to get a chance to feed him

0:19:200:19:23

and one of his little friends, too.

0:19:230:19:25

And you have a bottle each.

0:19:270:19:29

And the little ridge there, if you keep that at the top

0:19:300:19:34

when they start sucking on the bottle,

0:19:340:19:37

that lets the air escape,

0:19:370:19:39

so that they don't take air into their tummy,

0:19:390:19:41

or they squash the teat flat.

0:19:410:19:43

-Just like with little babies.

-Right.

0:19:430:19:45

-Right, Gwenda, I think you'd rather like little Benji.

-I think so, too.

0:19:460:19:51

-Oh, that's sweet.

-There we go.

0:19:520:19:54

Now, if he stays there...

0:19:540:19:56

-Over this way.

-You just show it to him, he'll go for it.

0:19:560:20:00

-All right, let's just...

-That's it.

0:20:000:20:02

-Oh, there you go.

-Oh, yes.

-He's off a treat.

0:20:040:20:07

As you can see, he's doing very well

0:20:090:20:11

even though he hasn't got his mum with him.

0:20:110:20:13

Oh, hello!

0:20:150:20:17

-Says, "Me too, me too."

-And how old is he?

0:20:170:20:19

He is now...nearly two weeks old.

0:20:190:20:23

Oh, lovely.

0:20:240:20:26

Now it's Alan's turn.

0:20:280:20:31

-Alan, you've got a more feisty one.

-Have I? Good.

0:20:310:20:34

-Who's hungry?

-This is Benson.

0:20:350:20:37

-Hello, Benson.

-So you've got...

0:20:380:20:40

Hang on, hang on.

0:20:400:20:43

He's got a lot more fleece on him.

0:20:430:20:46

Yes, yes.

0:20:460:20:48

This one's how old?

0:20:480:20:49

This one's most probably three weeks old.

0:20:490:20:52

Beautiful experience, thank you very much.

0:20:540:20:56

-Yes, thanks, Barbara.

-Thanks a lot.

-Thanks, Benson.

0:20:560:20:59

You were just perfect, weren't you? Eh? Just perfect.

0:20:590:21:03

From one perfect experience to, I hope, another

0:21:090:21:12

as we continue our property search in the village of Martinstown.

0:21:120:21:16

Around four miles from the county town of Dorchester,

0:21:170:21:20

the village has a range of amenities

0:21:200:21:22

and many of the houses are built from locally quarried Purbeck stone.

0:21:220:21:26

In July 1955, Martinstown was the scene of

0:21:260:21:29

one of the most extreme rainstorms ever recorded in the UK,

0:21:290:21:33

when 28 centimetres of rain fell in less than 24 hours.

0:21:330:21:38

Today, though, there's no sign of rain

0:21:380:21:40

as we explore our next property -

0:21:400:21:42

a cottage right in the heart of this pretty Dorset village.

0:21:420:21:45

Well, for our second one, I thought we'd go for something that was

0:21:450:21:48

a little bigger and a little older.

0:21:480:21:51

First impressions?

0:21:510:21:52

-Looks great.

-It does, looks lovely.

-Looks great.

0:21:520:21:55

And this one is full of the sort of character

0:21:550:21:58

-that I think you're looking for.

-I think you've got it.

0:21:580:22:02

-If I'm right! Shall we get inside and see?

-Let's go.

-Yes.

0:22:020:22:05

The original part of this end-of-terrace cottage

0:22:060:22:09

dates to the 1800s and is packed full of period features.

0:22:090:22:13

Right, then, is this the sort of...

0:22:130:22:16

..cosy charm you were thinking of?

0:22:160:22:18

-Yes, definitely.

-Oh, my God. This is fabulous, isn't it?

0:22:190:22:22

What would your family make of this if you shipped them over from Oz?

0:22:220:22:26

I think they'd all want to come and stay for ever.

0:22:260:22:29

It could be a problem getting rid of them! Getting rid of them!

0:22:290:22:33

Good, I get the feeling that we are definitely on better tracks.

0:22:330:22:36

-Appealing, yes.

-Yeah.

-OK.

0:22:360:22:39

Whereas the sitting room dates to Georgian times,

0:22:400:22:43

the dining room is a Victorian addition,

0:22:430:22:46

complete with another brick-built fireplace.

0:22:460:22:48

Beyond that lies the kitchen in a further extension.

0:22:480:22:52

-There you go.

-Wow, this is more like it. This is a real country kitchen.

0:22:520:22:56

-Yeah?

-Not quite what I'd been picturing.

0:22:560:22:59

Oh, really? How does it differ?

0:22:590:23:02

-Probably a little bigger, a bit more bench space.

-OK.

0:23:020:23:06

And a view out from the sink, a view out the window.

0:23:060:23:09

That, I can't change.

0:23:090:23:11

I can, however, offer you some double doors out to the garden,

0:23:110:23:14

which might do the same thing.

0:23:140:23:16

-OK.

-This wasn't always the kitchen.

0:23:160:23:17

The original kitchen still exists out the back

0:23:170:23:20

as more now of a utility space,

0:23:200:23:23

-but it also has another oven and hob out there.

-Oh, OK.

0:23:230:23:27

The benefits of a larger footprint downstairs

0:23:270:23:30

in this extended property are also mirrored upstairs.

0:23:300:23:33

There are four bedrooms - two at the front of the house,

0:23:350:23:38

one in use as a twin -

0:23:380:23:40

and a smaller single providing an option for Alan's office.

0:23:400:23:44

There's also a tongue-and-groove panelled bathroom,

0:23:440:23:47

and finally the master.

0:23:470:23:48

So this one we've kept till last

0:23:480:23:51

cos I think this would be the one you'd go for, really.

0:23:510:23:55

Not least because it's got the shower en suite through there.

0:23:550:23:58

It's a good-sized room.

0:23:590:24:01

A bit of character to it.

0:24:010:24:02

-Nice light coming through the window there.

-Plenty of light.

0:24:020:24:05

Yeah, and actually you can overlook the front door of the pub!

0:24:050:24:09

THEY ALL LAUGH

0:24:090:24:12

So if he's not back by 11 o'clock and you're in bed reading,

0:24:120:24:15

you'll know when he's coming home.

0:24:150:24:17

-When he's coming, yeah. OK.

-It looks good.

0:24:170:24:19

This room is quite, quite good.

0:24:190:24:21

With more enthusiastic reactions to this house than our first,

0:24:230:24:27

there's just the outside space left to explore.

0:24:270:24:30

The cottage-style walled garden has been well cared for

0:24:300:24:34

and stocked with flour and shrub borders and fruit trees.

0:24:340:24:37

There's also a Victorian-style greenhouse along with

0:24:370:24:40

a garage with power that Alan will no doubt be keen to call his own.

0:24:400:24:45

Well, as you can see, the garden is absolutely charming.

0:24:470:24:51

It's certainly a bit more garden than you've got at the moment,

0:24:510:24:54

-Alan, in your apartment.

-It's much bigger than we've got!

0:24:540:24:57

We've got no garden, so yes.

0:24:570:24:58

So let's talk about the money on this one, shall we, Alan?

0:24:580:25:01

Well, I think I would say it's somewhere between

0:25:010:25:04

£440,000 to £450,000.

0:25:040:25:08

Yeah. Gwenda?

0:25:080:25:09

-I was thinking about 415,000.

-415?

0:25:090:25:14

-Ah, that's an optimistic start!

-Yes.

0:25:140:25:17

Well, on this occasion, your roles are slightly reversed

0:25:170:25:21

because you, sir, are pretty much spot on.

0:25:210:25:24

This is on the market for offers in excess of 450,

0:25:240:25:28

although I think 450 would do it.

0:25:280:25:31

Go and have a good explore of it and I will come and find you

0:25:310:25:34

-a little bit later on.

-OK.

-Thank you very much.

-Off you go.

0:25:340:25:37

At the top of their budget,

0:25:400:25:42

our second house is a characterful stone cottage

0:25:420:25:44

with period features throughout.

0:25:440:25:47

It comes with two reception rooms and a separate country kitchen.

0:25:470:25:51

Four bedrooms provide space for visiting family and,

0:25:510:25:54

as requested, it gives them a garden that's easy to maintain

0:25:540:25:57

and a central village location.

0:25:570:26:00

It's more the style of house that we've had in our minds

0:26:010:26:04

to look at over here.

0:26:040:26:06

It's certainly up there.

0:26:060:26:08

The location is brilliant, it's really lovely.

0:26:080:26:12

I like the fact that it's very close to Dorchester.

0:26:120:26:16

The whole village looks like a lovely little village to live in.

0:26:160:26:20

-Well, guys, all done?

-All done. Yes, thank you.

0:26:210:26:23

-Just having a little snoop around.

-I bet you were.

0:26:230:26:26

I've got you in here with your name writ large across the door -

0:26:260:26:29

-"Alan's Cave".

-I don't have to build a bar in there, though.

0:26:290:26:33

-It's right there, mate.

-Well, why don't we?

-Shall we?

0:26:330:26:35

It's the end of the day, isn't it? Come on.

0:26:350:26:38

It's day two of our Dorset house hunt,

0:26:460:26:49

seeking out the perfect English country home

0:26:490:26:51

for Gwenda and Alan from the coast of Queensland in Australia.

0:26:510:26:55

They've got £450,000

0:26:550:26:57

to bag them a character home with a country kitchen.

0:26:570:27:01

Still to come, our mystery house is a slice of history

0:27:010:27:04

wrapped up in an overwhelmingly charming package.

0:27:040:27:07

It does give me that coming-home feel.

0:27:070:27:10

It's everything that I've imagined that an English home would be like.

0:27:100:27:14

And I'll be seeing how ancient Dorset Stone

0:27:140:27:17

has been transformed into rather striking artwork.

0:27:170:27:21

It really has that sort of primeval feel to it, doesn't it?

0:27:210:27:25

It looks like a great big sort of squid, almost.

0:27:250:27:28

Well, the clock is definitely ticking through the final hours

0:27:320:27:35

of our property search here with Alan and with Gwenda.

0:27:350:27:38

In just a few days' time, they're booked on flights back

0:27:380:27:40

to Australia unless, of course, we can find them a reason to stay.

0:27:400:27:45

Now, so far, that has proved elusive,

0:27:450:27:47

but can our mystery house finally seal the deal?

0:27:470:27:51

Architecturally and historically, I think it's a Dorset classic

0:27:510:27:56

with a twist they probably aren't really expecting.

0:27:560:27:59

But will it be enough to make them change those flights?

0:27:590:28:02

Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

0:28:020:28:05

So, guys, one more house to come.

0:28:080:28:10

The mystery house.

0:28:100:28:12

I think it could possibly be a thatched cottage.

0:28:120:28:15

-Do you, now?

-Yeah.

0:28:150:28:17

Why do you think that?

0:28:170:28:18

Because that's one thing we said we weren't sure about.

0:28:180:28:22

You'll want to change our minds.

0:28:220:28:24

Well, it is Dorset and it is famous for its thatched cottages,

0:28:240:28:29

so would it be the end of the world if it was a thatch?

0:28:290:28:33

-Oh, no, no.

-No, we're over it.

-Definitely not.

0:28:330:28:35

Well, that's good to hear as we make our way to our mystery house,

0:28:370:28:40

located in the village of Cattistock.

0:28:400:28:43

Architecturally, the village is an attractive mix of

0:28:430:28:47

brick, stone and thatched cottages.

0:28:470:28:50

The local parish church with its high tower

0:28:500:28:52

is one of the finest 19th-century examples in Dorset.

0:28:520:28:56

Our mystery house, meanwhile,

0:28:560:28:58

is a real period gem right in the heart of the village.

0:28:580:29:02

What do you think of that, Alan?

0:29:020:29:04

I think from the outside it looks absolutely beautiful and striking.

0:29:040:29:07

-Gwenda?

-I would agree. It is beautiful.

0:29:070:29:10

It's a lovely little thatched cottage.

0:29:100:29:13

I know you've got some reservations about that. You're not alone.

0:29:130:29:16

Many people do. As you can see,

0:29:160:29:17

the rest of the village has got plenty of thatched properties in it.

0:29:170:29:20

It is organic, it does need a bit of work, but the thatcher lives just up there,

0:29:200:29:23

so you've got no excuse for not having it well looked after.

0:29:230:29:27

Dating to 1740, this classic Grade II-listed stone cottage

0:29:290:29:33

was built 30 years before Captain Cook arrived in Australia

0:29:330:29:37

and is by far the oldest property I've shown Alan and Gwenda.

0:29:370:29:40

It was originally two cottages.

0:29:410:29:43

An entrance dining hall leads into one of two sitting rooms.

0:29:430:29:47

-This is nice, isn't it?

-Yes.

-It is. Yes.

0:29:470:29:51

That broadening smile, Alan, tells me everything I needed to know.

0:29:510:29:55

-This is lovely.

-It's got some really nice features.

0:29:550:29:59

The beams are gorgeous.

0:29:590:30:00

Can you see the way they're worked at their ends?

0:30:000:30:03

This chamfering and the little bit of detailing.

0:30:030:30:06

I mean, when you think about that empathy with England

0:30:060:30:09

that you talked about, Gwenda, and the love of the old country,

0:30:090:30:13

if you will, and tapping into your kind of ancestral past

0:30:130:30:16

and your great-grandfather and so on, I mean,

0:30:160:30:19

does a building like this help you kind of realise that ambition?

0:30:190:30:23

It does give me that coming-home feel.

0:30:230:30:26

It's everything that I've imagined that an English home would be like, yes.

0:30:260:30:31

Both Alan and Gwenda seem smitten by this slice of traditional English architecture.

0:30:330:30:38

The historic features continue to pack a punch

0:30:380:30:41

in the second sitting room, located the other side of the hallway

0:30:410:30:44

and currently set up as a library.

0:30:440:30:46

But we're exploring the kitchen, just beyond that library space.

0:30:460:30:50

Right, Gwenda.

0:30:500:30:52

-This is it, huh?

-Talk to me.

0:30:520:30:56

It's a nice kitchen, but not a lot of bench space.

0:30:560:30:59

-By that, you mean worktop space.

-Worktop space, yes, yes.

-Yes, yes.

0:30:590:31:03

-OK.

-Where could we improve that?

0:31:030:31:06

Well, they've got a dresser here.

0:31:060:31:08

You could also think about putting something across there

0:31:080:31:12

if you so wished. Mm-hmm.

0:31:120:31:14

If you didn't go for the table.

0:31:140:31:16

So it's not your massive farmhouse kitchen.

0:31:160:31:19

However, I myself...

0:31:190:31:21

Easy for me to say, but I myself can forgive it that

0:31:210:31:24

because of what's going on next door and the rest of the property.

0:31:240:31:28

Although the kitchen is on the cosy side, there's also

0:31:280:31:32

a utility room for all the white goods, and a downstairs washroom.

0:31:320:31:35

Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms, all in the eaves

0:31:370:31:40

and all featuring exposed stonework.

0:31:400:31:42

There's also a small study area and a functional family bathroom.

0:31:440:31:49

-Now, you can see why I've kept this one until last.

-Oh!

-Oh, yes.

0:31:500:31:55

-It's beautiful, isn't it?

-It's worth just taking it all in, really.

0:31:550:32:00

It's got so many fascinating and quirky features.

0:32:000:32:04

I think this one really does recommend itself

0:32:040:32:06

because it's got the space, it's got the history,

0:32:060:32:08

it's got the location and, you know, I think it's somewhere you would be

0:32:080:32:12

really proud to kind of share with your visiting friends and family.

0:32:120:32:16

Oh, definitely!

0:32:160:32:17

With the age and character of our mystery cottage clearly

0:32:170:32:20

hitting the mark, we braved the elements

0:32:200:32:22

to explore what's on offer outside.

0:32:220:32:25

Set out in a courtyard style, the garden is to the rear

0:32:250:32:28

with an oval-shaped lawn surrounded by mature borders.

0:32:280:32:31

Accessed from the garden is an artist's studio,

0:32:320:32:35

which could make an excellent home office for Alan.

0:32:350:32:38

But there's a trade-off with our mystery house,

0:32:400:32:43

as there is no garage for his car.

0:32:430:32:46

So that's it, that's what's on offer with our mystery house.

0:32:480:32:51

I think we'd all agree, a really interesting property.

0:32:510:32:55

So there is one more bit to discuss.

0:32:550:32:57

What do you think that is, Gwenda?

0:32:570:33:00

This is going to be at the top of our budget, if not over.

0:33:000:33:04

About 465.

0:33:040:33:06

£465,000.

0:33:060:33:08

I'd come in just under that, £455,000.

0:33:080:33:12

This could be yours for 425,000.

0:33:120:33:17

-Wow, that's quite a price.

-Really?

-And open to offers.

0:33:170:33:20

-Open to offers.

-Is that right?

-Go on, then. Off you go.

0:33:200:33:23

Our mystery house is yours for a bit. Can't give it away!

0:33:230:33:28

Much as I'd like to!

0:33:280:33:30

Our mystery house may be topped with thatch,

0:33:320:33:35

but it's £25,000 under budget,

0:33:350:33:38

giving Gwenda and Alan a strong option

0:33:380:33:41

for their classic country home.

0:33:410:33:43

There are two sitting rooms to choose from,

0:33:430:33:45

and three bedrooms upstairs.

0:33:450:33:47

The courtyard garden is manageable

0:33:470:33:49

and it's situated in the heart of a lovely Dorset village.

0:33:490:33:53

It is beautiful. It's been very, very well maintained.

0:33:530:33:57

It's got real street appeal.

0:33:570:33:59

One of the things we are concerned about is that

0:33:590:34:01

there's no car accommodation.

0:34:010:34:03

The rooms are a good size, the whole thing flows well from room to room.

0:34:030:34:08

It'd be a perfect little house to come to Dorset

0:34:080:34:11

to live in for the winter in a perfect little village.

0:34:110:34:15

Well, it's a shame to leave the very welcoming confines

0:34:200:34:24

of our mystery house and come out to this horrible wet weather,

0:34:240:34:27

but leave it we must because we need to get you to somewhere

0:34:270:34:30

where you can settle down, relax,

0:34:300:34:32

and think about all the properties we've shown you.

0:34:320:34:34

-OK.

-Sounds good.

0:34:340:34:36

And I'm going to catch up with you and find out if we've sold one.

0:34:360:34:38

-Come on. Let's go.

-OK.

0:34:380:34:40

Ugh, yuck!

0:34:400:34:41

Stretching away from Dorset's southernmost tip,

0:34:450:34:49

the Isle of Portland is attached to the mainland

0:34:490:34:52

by the beautiful Chesil Beach.

0:34:520:34:54

The island's famous Portland stone has been quarried since Roman times

0:34:540:34:59

and the pale limestone has not only been used to build

0:34:590:35:02

many iconic landmarks in London, but numerous others further afield.

0:35:020:35:06

Tout Quarry, perched high up, overlooking Chesil Beach,

0:35:070:35:11

opened in 1750 and operated until 1982.

0:35:110:35:15

I've come to meet Ralph Stone,

0:35:150:35:17

an 18th-generation quarryman who's spent his working life here,

0:35:170:35:21

and his name gives a clue as to his long family history.

0:35:210:35:25

So when did you actually start work in the quarry, then?

0:35:250:35:28

-1959.

-How old were you then?

-15.

0:35:280:35:30

-15!

-I was an apprentice quarryman for five years.

0:35:300:35:34

But how did you go about knowing where to mine the best stone from?

0:35:340:35:38

You're presented with the quarry, the face, if you like,

0:35:380:35:41

and because of our experience,

0:35:410:35:43

the joints we work by, the gully there has a big open gully...

0:35:430:35:47

-So there's this vertical fissure...

-Vertical fissure, yeah.

0:35:470:35:51

-That's a joint.

-That's a joint - well, the main joint.

0:35:510:35:53

And all the other joints emanate from the gullies and then you

0:35:530:35:56

sort of attack it the best way you can to earn the most out of it.

0:35:560:35:59

But how much of that was done by hand and how much of it by machine?

0:35:590:36:02

These days you'd just get a massive bit of equipment in, wouldn't you, presumably?

0:36:020:36:06

-Every little bit was done by hand.

-Wow.

-Every little bit, yeah.

0:36:060:36:09

I mean, having been a quarryman all your life, Ralph,

0:36:090:36:12

when you go to London and you see some of the buildings both...

0:36:120:36:15

..well, old and new that are adorned with Portland stone,

0:36:150:36:18

it must sort of pique your pride a bit.

0:36:180:36:21

It certainly does. To see something like St Paul's Cathedral,

0:36:210:36:24

it's really special and I feel to myself, "Yeah, we made that."

0:36:240:36:27

For me, Portland stone fits in character of buildings, yes, it does.

0:36:270:36:32

In 1983, a year after the quarry work stopped,

0:36:320:36:37

new life was breathed into the 44-acre site

0:36:370:36:40

when it was turned into a sculpture park to preserve the memory

0:36:400:36:43

of the quarry and showcase Portland stone.

0:36:430:36:47

Artist Hannah Sofaer is the creative director

0:36:470:36:49

of the Portland Sculpture Quarry And Trust,

0:36:490:36:52

and continues to develop the park.

0:36:520:36:54

She now also works in partnership with the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

0:36:540:36:58

I'm meeting her by a carving called Still Falling

0:36:580:37:01

by world-famous sculptor Antony Gormley,

0:37:010:37:04

creator of the Angel Of The North.

0:37:040:37:06

It depicts a figure falling through time.

0:37:060:37:09

And why did he pick this particular rock face?

0:37:090:37:12

Well, it's the best on the island, a section of geological time.

0:37:120:37:17

You can just read it from the very top to the point where he's carved.

0:37:170:37:22

And the section where he's carved his figure,

0:37:220:37:25

how old is that particular bed?

0:37:250:37:27

That's going back to 150 million years

0:37:270:37:31

of whit bed, the good carving stone, and building stone.

0:37:310:37:35

So that's where our Portland stone comes from,

0:37:350:37:37

-that whit bed that's 150 million years old.

-Yeah.

0:37:370:37:41

This section has been left behind where the rest

0:37:410:37:44

of the quarry has been quarried away and restacked,

0:37:440:37:47

so this becomes an original land surface

0:37:470:37:51

which hasn't been touched for millions of years.

0:37:510:37:55

How many carvings are here now in the park itself?

0:37:550:37:58

There are over 60 pieces of work that have been commissioned.

0:37:580:38:02

Gormley was one of the first artists to be inspired

0:38:020:38:05

by the scale and space of this amazing quarry.

0:38:050:38:10

And you're still creating work here, presumably.

0:38:100:38:13

We are, but very carefully because now it's a SSSI -

0:38:130:38:18

it's a Site of Special Scientific Interest -

0:38:180:38:20

and we've saved this quarry.

0:38:200:38:22

The sculpture helped to save it.

0:38:220:38:24

Hannah's going to give me a tour of the site and show me some more

0:38:250:38:28

of the commissioned work that brought the quarry back to life.

0:38:280:38:32

Well, Hannah, this is definitely an eye-catcher.

0:38:320:38:34

What's that all about, that funny cone shape?

0:38:340:38:37

It's called A Window.

0:38:370:38:38

It's created light in the centre that keeps changing,

0:38:380:38:41

it plays with the light in the quarry.

0:38:410:38:44

It's really, really beautiful.

0:38:440:38:45

So on a sunnier day than this, that would really sort of

0:38:450:38:48

-come to life and get into its own space, I suppose.

-Absolutely.

0:38:480:38:52

There's a range of artwork here.

0:38:540:38:56

Some of which takes inspiration from Dorset's prehistory.

0:38:560:38:59

-So what have we got here, Hannah?

-It's called The Fallen Fossil.

0:39:000:39:04

It's a negative and a positive, like it's fallen out of the rock bed.

0:39:040:39:08

And it really has that sort of primeval feel to it, doesn't it?

0:39:080:39:13

It looks like a great big sort of squid, almost.

0:39:130:39:16

It's a brilliant piece of work.

0:39:160:39:18

It looks like it could literally fit back in again.

0:39:180:39:20

The Memory Stones installation is another one

0:39:200:39:23

that's just been created.

0:39:230:39:25

It's really a stone circle which is actually in line

0:39:250:39:28

with the solstice and the equinoxes

0:39:280:39:31

and the way the Earth travels around the Sun.

0:39:310:39:34

-It's been carefully, you know, mathematically, drawn up.

-Amazing.

0:39:340:39:38

So it's constantly changing, just as the rock around us

0:39:380:39:42

has constantly changed over millions of years.

0:39:420:39:44

Yes. It's very, very beautiful.

0:39:440:39:46

Very magical. This quarry is very, very special.

0:39:460:39:49

It's so impressive to walk around this site

0:39:490:39:52

and admire how its natural bedrock has been used

0:39:520:39:55

for centuries in buildings all over Dorset and beyond.

0:39:550:39:58

Well, property wise this week we've taken Alan and Gwenda on

0:40:020:40:06

a magical history tour that started in the 21st century

0:40:060:40:09

and ended in the mid-18th

0:40:090:40:11

at our wonderful mystery house, but have we done enough

0:40:110:40:14

to persuade them to swap a life down under for a slice of Dorset?

0:40:140:40:18

Well, let's go and ask them.

0:40:180:40:20

We've given you three, I think, quite interesting properties

0:40:260:40:29

here in Dorset to consider

0:40:290:40:31

that might encourage you to finally make the move.

0:40:310:40:34

Have we managed it?

0:40:340:40:35

You've certainly given us a lot to think about

0:40:350:40:38

in these beautiful properties.

0:40:380:40:39

So, Alan, if you had to choose between the three,

0:40:390:40:42

which one would be your favourite?

0:40:420:40:44

Ah, definitely the mystery house.

0:40:440:40:45

-I mean, by a country mile.

-By a country mile?

0:40:450:40:48

-By a country mile.

-And we travelled some of those!

-True.

0:40:480:40:52

-So, for you, Gwenda, is that the same?

-It is, yes. Yes.

0:40:520:40:56

It's almost ticked all the boxes that we're looking for, so...

0:40:560:41:00

You say we've ALMOST ticked all of those boxes. What's missing, then?

0:41:000:41:04

One of our prerequisites was car accommodation

0:41:040:41:07

because we need that, so I'd like to follow up with the agent

0:41:070:41:12

and see if we can...

0:41:120:41:14

There's room in the back to be able to put a car in,

0:41:140:41:16

but can you actually go through the fence?

0:41:160:41:19

We've got to be able to lock it up, know it's secure, whereas

0:41:190:41:22

you can't leave a car sitting out in the street for six months.

0:41:220:41:25

Yeah. No, fair enough.

0:41:250:41:27

So you're going to go back and talk to the agent,

0:41:270:41:29

find out a little more, Alan.

0:41:290:41:30

But if you are reassured by the answers

0:41:300:41:34

he gives you to the questions you pose,

0:41:340:41:36

you might delay your flights and stick around a little longer?

0:41:360:41:40

I'll open negotiations now and commence talking

0:41:400:41:43

and we'll see where it goes from there.

0:41:430:41:46

So, guys, very best of luck. Let us know how you get on.

0:41:460:41:50

It's been a real pleasure.

0:41:500:41:51

Thank you, we've really enjoyed the time spent with you here,

0:41:510:41:54

and thanks very much for the time you've put in.

0:41:540:41:57

-Oh!

-Thank you.

-Pleasure.

0:41:570:41:58

Now, when most people escape to the country,

0:42:040:42:07

it usually means a car journey of a few hours

0:42:070:42:09

followed by a truck full of their belongings,

0:42:090:42:12

but for Alan and Gwenda, well, their escape to the country

0:42:120:42:15

is going to mean a journey of some 10,000 miles

0:42:150:42:19

from the other side of the world and the rather exotic surroundings

0:42:190:42:22

of Australia's Sunshine Coast to this - Dorset's Jurassic Coast.

0:42:220:42:28

Now, as we said, they'll be flying back in just a few days' time.

0:42:280:42:32

Let's just hope they've bought a return!

0:42:320:42:34

I'll see you next time.

0:42:340:42:36

Gwenda and Allen did make an offer on the mystery house,

0:42:390:42:42

which was unfortunately not accepted,

0:42:420:42:44

so their Dorset property search continues

0:42:440:42:47

and we wish them the very best of luck.

0:42:470:42:49

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

0:42:490:42:53

Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales,

0:42:530:42:55

and need our help, you can apply online.

0:42:550:42:57

Jules Hudson is in the Dorset countryside to help a couple make the move from Queensland, Australia. With a budget of £450,000 they look forward to enjoying village life in cooler climes. Jules also visits Tout Quarry on the Isle of Portland, now home to a unique sculpture park celebrating the heritage of Portland stone which was used for many of London's historic buildings.


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