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Welcome to Escape To The Country.
Now, from within this rather dramatic coastline behind me came
the essential building blocks used in the reconstruction of London
following the Great Fire of 1666.
And with that claim to fame, it's fitting, then,
that over a century ago a local writer here
should have described it as "A peninsula carved by time
"from a single stone."
But who said it and where was he talking about?
Well, join me in just a moment and I'll tell you.
Today our house-hunting couple want to escape the searing heat
of the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy the charms of rural England.
Wow, this is more like it. This is a real country kitchen.
But whether our properties measure up remains to be seen.
Your thoughts, sir?
Er, it's compact!
Is that Australian for small?
Well, today I'm in Dorset and more specifically
I'm in the heart of one of the old quarries here
on the Isle of Portland that local legend Thomas Hardy found so inspiring.
Now, they've been excavating this stuff since the 17th century.
The beautiful fine-grained Portland stone.
Sir Christopher Wren used it in his rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral
following the Great Fire of London back in 1666
and since then, well, it's adorned some of the most important
architectural landmarks, not just in Britain, but also around the world.
Amongst them, Buckingham Palace, the Port of Liverpool Building,
Manchester's Central library.
Even the exterior of the United Nations in New York.
Now, whilst today there are still a few quarries operating here,
this one has carved out a new lease of life
celebrating the heritage of this part of the coast
in a very creative and artistic way.
I'll be back here later on, finding out a little more about how they've done it,
but in the meantime, well, here's a taste
of what the rest of Dorset has to offer.
Dorset takes pride of place along England's south coast,
with Devon to the west and Hampshire to the east.
It's a county with 100 miles of stunning heritage coastline,
made up of long pebbly beaches and vertical cliffs which,
when battered by the sea, reveal a unique geological record
of the Earth, dating back 185 million years.
Beaches such as Charmouth are a haven for fossil hunters both young and old.
Unspoiled by cities and motorways, the county's many villages
retain a character and charm of days gone by.
Abbotsbury, a mile inland from the coast, is one of the most
visited, with many buildings dating back to the 16th century,
overlooked by a medieval chapel built by the monks of a now ruinous abbey.
Many of Dorset's pretty towns are fringed by the coast.
Lyme Regis is known for its curved harbour wall, The Cobb,
and was the setting for Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.
With Dorset's rich cultural heritage and array of natural landmarks,
some millions of years in the making,
there's no doubt this county is a compelling choice for those
seeking that picture perfect image of the English countryside.
Now, if you follow those quality-of-life surveys,
you may notice that Dorset regularly gets a mention
as one of the best places to live
in the UK, but - no surprise - that appeal does come at a cost.
Currently, the average price of a detached property here is some £410,000.
That's £80,000 above the national average.
And if you talk to the locals, well, they'll tell you
that Dorset can provide a higher life expectancy.
Maybe that's why many people choose to retire here.
Whatever the truth of it, well, word has clearly got out,
because today's buyers, well, they've decided to travel from
the other side of the world just to live here.
Alan and Gwenda are from Queensland, Australia,
and have arrived in a chilly UK to begin their property hunt in earnest.
They've been together for more than 50 years.
We met at a local what they called a record hop.
I went with my sister to the record hop and met Alan there
and he asked to take us home so it had to be with my sister
so we both went home with him at that stage.
From thereon, we just knew from the first week we went out
that we'd be together.
Love at first sight, I can still remember that night.
Gwenda's a very soft, gentle, generous, loving person.
Great mother and a great wife.
Gwenda's late grandfather was a British Merchant Navy officer
who settled in Australia in the 1920s.
Although Gwenda and Alan have holidayed in the UK,
it's always been her desire to return to her ancestral homeland
on a more permanent basis.
The first trip to England, I felt so at home, as though I'd come home.
Every time we come here we're comfortable here.
One of their first trips to the UK involved a stop off in Dorset
and they were immediately struck by the county's beauty.
We were driving a little back road cos we chose to do the back roads,
and we came across a scene that just made us stop
and we got out of the car and just lent over the gate
between two hedges and just looked down over the countryside
and just thought, "This is just beautiful."
That was probably the first time we thought,
"Yes, it'd be nice to live here."
Until he retired five years ago, Alan worked
in the Australian music industry,
spending long periods away from home.
Gwenda was a lab technician before retiring to help look after
their six grandchildren in Brisbane.
With our grandchildren now almost all grown up
and finished school, I don't have the responsibilities
I used to have, or we used to have, looking after them,
and I think now that we've both retired,
we can now fulfil our lifelong dream of coming to live in the UK
and just doing what we would like to do for a while.
As Queensland's summer temperatures often exceed 30 degrees Celsius,
they're looking forward to cooler climes to enjoy their hobbies
which, for Alan, includes walking.
To go into the countryside here is much different
to going into the Australian bush.
It's softer, more gentle, easier.
I'm hoping where we're going we'll just be able to get out
and enjoy that walk and enjoy the country.
If I came to live in England, the weather would be a lot cooler
and I'd probably get more into knitting and crocheting
cos it's a bit hot in Australia at the summertime of the year.
So after 52 years of marriage but with long periods
spent apart from each other, this move to the UK countryside
is a chance for them to enjoy new-found freedom during their golden years.
It's a lifestyle change now.
To be here means that we're together,
we can go and do whatever we'd like, when we like, as we like.
Alan and Gwenda would like us to concentrate our property search
in the villages around the county town of Dorchester.
I'm meeting up with them on a rather wet spring morning
to find out what they're looking for in their English country home.
Welcome to Dorset. Where do we start with you two, then?
Coming all the way from Australia to the less-than-warm
climate of Dorset at the moment.
-We're looking for the best of both worlds.
We're looking to spend six months of the hot weather
out of Australia here and six months of the beautiful winter
around 26 degrees Celsius every day in Australia.
So give us an idea of the sort of property
that you are thinking of, because the property market here
clearly is very different to what you're used to in Australia.
And I think that is what attracts us to the properties here.
They look very quaint.
We've had the big house and we got a big unit we live in now,
but I think I want something a bit smaller and a bit more cosy.
With a small garden.
How much space are we after, in terms of bedrooms
and reception rooms and that sort of thing?
We would like at least three bedrooms
and room for an office for Alan.
What you call a reception room here, which would be a lounge room for us.
-We've talked about a big country-style kitchen,
a good country-style kitchen.
Open plan into the dining room so that we've got that space.
For me, I'd like a garage, definitely, for the car.
Are you keen on being within a community, within a village?
We don't want to be remote. We actually like people!
THEY ALL LAUGH Good, good!
Now, give us an idea of how much you're planning to spend on this.
We'd be looking at investing somewhere in the vicinity of about 450,000.
-450,000 British pounds?
Right, well, look. The sun is coming out.
It's not quite 26 degrees, Alan, but you don't really want that, do you?
-I don't, I want it like this.
Well, let's go and see if we can spend your money
and find you a toehold in Dorset.
With a maximum budget of £450,000, Alan and Gwenda would like
a cottage-style property with a country kitchen.
It should provide them with three bedrooms,
along with an office and garage for Alan.
The garden should be manageable
and they'd like to be close to a thriving community.
We've scoured the rural property market for a rich mix
of delightful Dorset country homes to show them,
but I won't reveal the price of each one until after the tour.
Lastly, the mystery house will offer our Antipodean pair
something they won't be used to, but will hopefully love.
So, in considering the properties that we might show you,
are there any things that you don't want?
-We do have a bit of a reservation about thatched roofs.
Because we're not familiar with them in Australia,
we don't have them there, so... But that's not ruling it out, though.
We need to learn a lot more about them.
It's certainly part and parcel of the architectural landscape here.
Property one is located in the village of Sutton Poyntz,
just outside the seaside town of Weymouth.
Tucked away beneath the chalky Dorset Downs,
there's a popular gastropub and a historic mill pond.
In 1908, a serious fire broke out in the village,
but by the time the fire brigade arrived,
almost a quarter of a mile of buildings were alight.
Work on restoration of the village began in 1962,
and today it retains much of its traditional character.
Our first house is situated on the village outskirts.
There we are. That's what I thought we would start with.
-What do you think?
-Oh, I love the colour.
-I love the stone colour.
-Nice, really nice.
Now, the reason I thought this one would be of interest is because,
built in 2004,
it looks as if the builders have just finished it, to be honest.
Given the way you want to use your new home,
being able to lock up and leave and know that it's well cared for,
I think this is quite a good option.
I think it's been done really sympathetically to the area,
-for a new build.
-Good, right, then, let's make a start.
Let's see what you think. Good.
This contemporary architect-designed property has an interior
that's modern and manageable.
There we are, Alan. Straight into the kitchen. Your thoughts, sir?
-Er, it's compact. It's compact.
Is that Australian for small?
No, it's compact. No, seriously, it's good.
-It's got everything you'd want. It's modern.
-I like it.
I like the size of it, yeah. Plenty of bench space.
There's not a lot to be done, from what I can see so far.
I don't want to give you a project, you see.
No, we definitely don't want a project!
-You will not give me a project!
-I won't. Believe you, me, I won't.
Come on, let's have a look at the rest of it.
It might not be the old-style country kitchen they were after,
but Alan and Gwenda seem open to the idea of a more practical option.
The combined living and dining room is to the rear of the property.
And I suppose there's no getting away from the compact theme
in the living room.
-It's true. It's quite small, isn't it?
It's nice, but it's...cosy.
I mean, what they've done here...
This, believe it or not, was a solid wall.
I think rather clearly they've put in this glazed bifold door
arrangement, so the whole thing would open up to give you
more of a kind of family entertaining space.
It's a house that lends itself to be minimalistic, isn't it, really?
-You know, don't want it over cluttered.
I'm beginning to sense that cosy might mean too small,
but the wall between the kitchen and living room could be removed,
opening up the ground floor,
or they could build a conservatory at the rear, subject to consent.
Upstairs, the three bedrooms are arranged off a main landing
and include a bright double with skylights and walk-in wardrobe,
along with a single currently used as a music room.
There's also a three-piece family bathroom
and then finally the master.
We're thinking this would be yours cos it's got the shower en suite.
All the rooms have got really good built-in storage.
This one being no exception.
-It's very nice, it's well done.
-Yeah, I like the colour scheme.
Yeah. So what's the bottom line at the end of it all?
Let's go to the garden and then I'll give you lowdown.
Go on, mate, after you.
To the side of the property there's a single garage for Alan's car.
The pleasant, south-facing garden at the back
is largely laid to lawn, with planted beds which would be easy to
maintain when Alan and Gwenda are away travelling.
Is this the sort of thing that you regard as manageable?
-Definitely, yes. It's a perfect space, yes.
Let's cut to the chase. Madam, make me an offer on the first one.
I'd go about £400,000.
I think on the size of it I'd be talking somewhere around the 350 to 360.
This is currently on the market for £425,000.
Right. Way out.
Well, you were way out. You weren't far off, to be fair.
And, look, you know,
you are tackling a completely different property market
to what you're used to, so I'm going to forgive you any errors there.
Go and have a wander around and I will come and find you later on.
-Off you go.
See what you might do... with your change.
Under budget by £25,000, our first offering is a modern stone-built
property with a clean, contemporary interior and simple layout.
It gives them their three bedrooms, a manageable garden,
and it's located in a very desirable Dorset village.
I liked the look of it from the outside.
I liked the house from the outside, it looks lovely.
Inside, it doesn't disappoint. It's a lovely home.
The space inside the house, my thoughts on that
at this point in time are that, for me, it's a little tight.
This whole area into the lounge room needs to be open.
You've got those beautiful doors leading on to what,
there could be a fantastic conservatory built there.
So where it feels close and closed at the moment,
it could in real terms be opened up
and made to feel three to four times bigger than it is.
-There we are. All done?
-We are, yes.
Now, then. You're used to cold beer, aren't you, in Australia?
Let me introduce you to the warm stuff. Come on, let's have lunch.
Come on, let's go.
When they move to rural Dorset,
Gwenda and Alan are keen to find volunteering opportunities as
a way to discover new pursuits, get involved in their local community
and immerse themselves in country living.
To gain an insight into the historic houses
and farming life in Britain, we've sent them to Kingston Maurward,
a handsome 18th-century property built for the then Prime Minister
William Pitt's cousin George Pitt,
and set in a glorious 750-acre estate.
The Grade I-listed building houses an agricultural college
and an animal park,
along with beautifully landscaped Grade II-listed gardens.
Gwenda and Alan have come to meet Luke Rake, the principle here,
to learn more about the estate
and find out what volunteering opportunities there are today.
We're hoping you can give us some history about this home behind us.
The house was built in 1720, originally in brick,
and the building that you see behind us at the moment
clearly isn't covered in brick.
It's covered in Portland stone which was quarried locally.
The reason for that is that King George III in the 1790s
felt that brick was not fashionable enough and so,
to maintain patronage, the owner of the house at the time
very quickly clad what is now a very familiar white stone.
Not only do we have this amazing house,
but we have a literary connection with Thomas Hardy.
So Thomas Hardy lived on the estate.
His family were raised on the estate and he worshipped in the church
just about 400 metres from where we're standing now here.
And tell me, what opportunities are there for the locals to become
involved in any, say, volunteering activities with the college?
There's quite a few. The gardens that we'll see today are immense.
You know, we've got 30 acres of formal gardens
as well as the 750 acres of the estate.
So we actually have quite a lot of people that come in locally
to help and support the college in a whole range of ways.
The animal park is also an area that welcomes volunteers.
It's one of only 19 sites in England accredited
by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust to keep and promote rare breeds.
Head animal park technician Barbara manages the animal park
and is passionate about conservation.
Gwenda and Alan are meeting her to learn about some of the native breeds at risk.
Could you tell us about this breed of sheep here behind us?
Yes, Portland sheep are very, very hardy, but because they only produce
usually one lamb and they're quite small in size,
the sheep and the lambs,
they went out of popularity and nearly became extinct.
-That would have been sad, wouldn't it?
-Oh! It would have been tragic.
It would be really sad to lose some of England's finest animals
simply because they're not large enough for today's commercial market.
So, yes, we're expecting lambs from these and, at the moment,
we've got a Manx Loaghtan sheep, which are also rare breed sheep,
they're chocolate brown.
They've just started popping out lambs.
-In fact, we had a set of twins last night!
Another Manx Loaghtan ewe here recently had triplets
but sadly she rejected one of them, called Benji.
Barbara and the staff here are now hand-rearing him
and Gwenda and Alan are going to get a chance to feed him
and one of his little friends, too.
And you have a bottle each.
And the little ridge there, if you keep that at the top
when they start sucking on the bottle,
that lets the air escape,
so that they don't take air into their tummy,
or they squash the teat flat.
-Just like with little babies.
-Right, Gwenda, I think you'd rather like little Benji.
-I think so, too.
-Oh, that's sweet.
-There we go.
Now, if he stays there...
-Over this way.
-You just show it to him, he'll go for it.
-All right, let's just...
-Oh, there you go.
-He's off a treat.
As you can see, he's doing very well
even though he hasn't got his mum with him.
-Says, "Me too, me too."
-And how old is he?
He is now...nearly two weeks old.
Now it's Alan's turn.
-Alan, you've got a more feisty one.
-Have I? Good.
-This is Benson.
-So you've got...
Hang on, hang on.
He's got a lot more fleece on him.
This one's how old?
This one's most probably three weeks old.
Beautiful experience, thank you very much.
-Yes, thanks, Barbara.
-Thanks a lot.
You were just perfect, weren't you? Eh? Just perfect.
From one perfect experience to, I hope, another
as we continue our property search in the village of Martinstown.
Around four miles from the county town of Dorchester,
the village has a range of amenities
and many of the houses are built from locally quarried Purbeck stone.
In July 1955, Martinstown was the scene of
one of the most extreme rainstorms ever recorded in the UK,
when 28 centimetres of rain fell in less than 24 hours.
Today, though, there's no sign of rain
as we explore our next property -
a cottage right in the heart of this pretty Dorset village.
Well, for our second one, I thought we'd go for something that was
a little bigger and a little older.
-It does, looks lovely.
And this one is full of the sort of character
-that I think you're looking for.
-I think you've got it.
-If I'm right! Shall we get inside and see?
The original part of this end-of-terrace cottage
dates to the 1800s and is packed full of period features.
Right, then, is this the sort of...
..cosy charm you were thinking of?
-Oh, my God. This is fabulous, isn't it?
What would your family make of this if you shipped them over from Oz?
I think they'd all want to come and stay for ever.
It could be a problem getting rid of them! Getting rid of them!
Good, I get the feeling that we are definitely on better tracks.
Whereas the sitting room dates to Georgian times,
the dining room is a Victorian addition,
complete with another brick-built fireplace.
Beyond that lies the kitchen in a further extension.
-There you go.
-Wow, this is more like it. This is a real country kitchen.
-Not quite what I'd been picturing.
Oh, really? How does it differ?
-Probably a little bigger, a bit more bench space.
And a view out from the sink, a view out the window.
That, I can't change.
I can, however, offer you some double doors out to the garden,
which might do the same thing.
-This wasn't always the kitchen.
The original kitchen still exists out the back
as more now of a utility space,
-but it also has another oven and hob out there.
The benefits of a larger footprint downstairs
in this extended property are also mirrored upstairs.
There are four bedrooms - two at the front of the house,
one in use as a twin -
and a smaller single providing an option for Alan's office.
There's also a tongue-and-groove panelled bathroom,
and finally the master.
So this one we've kept till last
cos I think this would be the one you'd go for, really.
Not least because it's got the shower en suite through there.
It's a good-sized room.
A bit of character to it.
-Nice light coming through the window there.
-Plenty of light.
Yeah, and actually you can overlook the front door of the pub!
THEY ALL LAUGH
So if he's not back by 11 o'clock and you're in bed reading,
you'll know when he's coming home.
-When he's coming, yeah. OK.
-It looks good.
This room is quite, quite good.
With more enthusiastic reactions to this house than our first,
there's just the outside space left to explore.
The cottage-style walled garden has been well cared for
and stocked with flour and shrub borders and fruit trees.
There's also a Victorian-style greenhouse along with
a garage with power that Alan will no doubt be keen to call his own.
Well, as you can see, the garden is absolutely charming.
It's certainly a bit more garden than you've got at the moment,
-Alan, in your apartment.
-It's much bigger than we've got!
We've got no garden, so yes.
So let's talk about the money on this one, shall we, Alan?
Well, I think I would say it's somewhere between
£440,000 to £450,000.
-I was thinking about 415,000.
-Ah, that's an optimistic start!
Well, on this occasion, your roles are slightly reversed
because you, sir, are pretty much spot on.
This is on the market for offers in excess of 450,
although I think 450 would do it.
Go and have a good explore of it and I will come and find you
-a little bit later on.
-Thank you very much.
-Off you go.
At the top of their budget,
our second house is a characterful stone cottage
with period features throughout.
It comes with two reception rooms and a separate country kitchen.
Four bedrooms provide space for visiting family and,
as requested, it gives them a garden that's easy to maintain
and a central village location.
It's more the style of house that we've had in our minds
to look at over here.
It's certainly up there.
The location is brilliant, it's really lovely.
I like the fact that it's very close to Dorchester.
The whole village looks like a lovely little village to live in.
-Well, guys, all done?
-All done. Yes, thank you.
-Just having a little snoop around.
-I bet you were.
I've got you in here with your name writ large across the door -
-I don't have to build a bar in there, though.
-It's right there, mate.
-Well, why don't we?
It's the end of the day, isn't it? Come on.
It's day two of our Dorset house hunt,
seeking out the perfect English country home
for Gwenda and Alan from the coast of Queensland in Australia.
They've got £450,000
to bag them a character home with a country kitchen.
Still to come, our mystery house is a slice of history
wrapped up in an overwhelmingly charming package.
It does give me that coming-home feel.
It's everything that I've imagined that an English home would be like.
And I'll be seeing how ancient Dorset Stone
has been transformed into rather striking artwork.
It really has that sort of primeval feel to it, doesn't it?
It looks like a great big sort of squid, almost.
Well, the clock is definitely ticking through the final hours
of our property search here with Alan and with Gwenda.
In just a few days' time, they're booked on flights back
to Australia unless, of course, we can find them a reason to stay.
Now, so far, that has proved elusive,
but can our mystery house finally seal the deal?
Architecturally and historically, I think it's a Dorset classic
with a twist they probably aren't really expecting.
But will it be enough to make them change those flights?
Well, we'll just have to wait and see.
So, guys, one more house to come.
The mystery house.
I think it could possibly be a thatched cottage.
-Do you, now?
Why do you think that?
Because that's one thing we said we weren't sure about.
You'll want to change our minds.
Well, it is Dorset and it is famous for its thatched cottages,
so would it be the end of the world if it was a thatch?
-Oh, no, no.
-No, we're over it.
Well, that's good to hear as we make our way to our mystery house,
located in the village of Cattistock.
Architecturally, the village is an attractive mix of
brick, stone and thatched cottages.
The local parish church with its high tower
is one of the finest 19th-century examples in Dorset.
Our mystery house, meanwhile,
is a real period gem right in the heart of the village.
What do you think of that, Alan?
I think from the outside it looks absolutely beautiful and striking.
-I would agree. It is beautiful.
It's a lovely little thatched cottage.
I know you've got some reservations about that. You're not alone.
Many people do. As you can see,
the rest of the village has got plenty of thatched properties in it.
It is organic, it does need a bit of work, but the thatcher lives just up there,
so you've got no excuse for not having it well looked after.
Dating to 1740, this classic Grade II-listed stone cottage
was built 30 years before Captain Cook arrived in Australia
and is by far the oldest property I've shown Alan and Gwenda.
It was originally two cottages.
An entrance dining hall leads into one of two sitting rooms.
-This is nice, isn't it?
-It is. Yes.
That broadening smile, Alan, tells me everything I needed to know.
-This is lovely.
-It's got some really nice features.
The beams are gorgeous.
Can you see the way they're worked at their ends?
This chamfering and the little bit of detailing.
I mean, when you think about that empathy with England
that you talked about, Gwenda, and the love of the old country,
if you will, and tapping into your kind of ancestral past
and your great-grandfather and so on, I mean,
does a building like this help you kind of realise that ambition?
It does give me that coming-home feel.
It's everything that I've imagined that an English home would be like, yes.
Both Alan and Gwenda seem smitten by this slice of traditional English architecture.
The historic features continue to pack a punch
in the second sitting room, located the other side of the hallway
and currently set up as a library.
But we're exploring the kitchen, just beyond that library space.
-This is it, huh?
-Talk to me.
It's a nice kitchen, but not a lot of bench space.
-By that, you mean worktop space.
-Worktop space, yes, yes.
-Where could we improve that?
Well, they've got a dresser here.
You could also think about putting something across there
if you so wished. Mm-hmm.
If you didn't go for the table.
So it's not your massive farmhouse kitchen.
However, I myself...
Easy for me to say, but I myself can forgive it that
because of what's going on next door and the rest of the property.
Although the kitchen is on the cosy side, there's also
a utility room for all the white goods, and a downstairs washroom.
Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms, all in the eaves
and all featuring exposed stonework.
There's also a small study area and a functional family bathroom.
-Now, you can see why I've kept this one until last.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
-It's worth just taking it all in, really.
It's got so many fascinating and quirky features.
I think this one really does recommend itself
because it's got the space, it's got the history,
it's got the location and, you know, I think it's somewhere you would be
really proud to kind of share with your visiting friends and family.
With the age and character of our mystery cottage clearly
hitting the mark, we braved the elements
to explore what's on offer outside.
Set out in a courtyard style, the garden is to the rear
with an oval-shaped lawn surrounded by mature borders.
Accessed from the garden is an artist's studio,
which could make an excellent home office for Alan.
But there's a trade-off with our mystery house,
as there is no garage for his car.
So that's it, that's what's on offer with our mystery house.
I think we'd all agree, a really interesting property.
So there is one more bit to discuss.
What do you think that is, Gwenda?
This is going to be at the top of our budget, if not over.
I'd come in just under that, £455,000.
This could be yours for 425,000.
-Wow, that's quite a price.
-And open to offers.
-Open to offers.
-Is that right?
-Go on, then. Off you go.
Our mystery house is yours for a bit. Can't give it away!
Much as I'd like to!
Our mystery house may be topped with thatch,
but it's £25,000 under budget,
giving Gwenda and Alan a strong option
for their classic country home.
There are two sitting rooms to choose from,
and three bedrooms upstairs.
The courtyard garden is manageable
and it's situated in the heart of a lovely Dorset village.
It is beautiful. It's been very, very well maintained.
It's got real street appeal.
One of the things we are concerned about is that
there's no car accommodation.
The rooms are a good size, the whole thing flows well from room to room.
It'd be a perfect little house to come to Dorset
to live in for the winter in a perfect little village.
Well, it's a shame to leave the very welcoming confines
of our mystery house and come out to this horrible wet weather,
but leave it we must because we need to get you to somewhere
where you can settle down, relax,
and think about all the properties we've shown you.
And I'm going to catch up with you and find out if we've sold one.
-Come on. Let's go.
Stretching away from Dorset's southernmost tip,
the Isle of Portland is attached to the mainland
by the beautiful Chesil Beach.
The island's famous Portland stone has been quarried since Roman times
and the pale limestone has not only been used to build
many iconic landmarks in London, but numerous others further afield.
Tout Quarry, perched high up, overlooking Chesil Beach,
opened in 1750 and operated until 1982.
I've come to meet Ralph Stone,
an 18th-generation quarryman who's spent his working life here,
and his name gives a clue as to his long family history.
So when did you actually start work in the quarry, then?
-How old were you then?
-I was an apprentice quarryman for five years.
But how did you go about knowing where to mine the best stone from?
You're presented with the quarry, the face, if you like,
and because of our experience,
the joints we work by, the gully there has a big open gully...
-So there's this vertical fissure...
-Vertical fissure, yeah.
-That's a joint.
-That's a joint - well, the main joint.
And all the other joints emanate from the gullies and then you
sort of attack it the best way you can to earn the most out of it.
But how much of that was done by hand and how much of it by machine?
These days you'd just get a massive bit of equipment in, wouldn't you, presumably?
-Every little bit was done by hand.
-Every little bit, yeah.
I mean, having been a quarryman all your life, Ralph,
when you go to London and you see some of the buildings both...
..well, old and new that are adorned with Portland stone,
it must sort of pique your pride a bit.
It certainly does. To see something like St Paul's Cathedral,
it's really special and I feel to myself, "Yeah, we made that."
For me, Portland stone fits in character of buildings, yes, it does.
In 1983, a year after the quarry work stopped,
new life was breathed into the 44-acre site
when it was turned into a sculpture park to preserve the memory
of the quarry and showcase Portland stone.
Artist Hannah Sofaer is the creative director
of the Portland Sculpture Quarry And Trust,
and continues to develop the park.
She now also works in partnership with the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
I'm meeting her by a carving called Still Falling
by world-famous sculptor Antony Gormley,
creator of the Angel Of The North.
It depicts a figure falling through time.
And why did he pick this particular rock face?
Well, it's the best on the island, a section of geological time.
You can just read it from the very top to the point where he's carved.
And the section where he's carved his figure,
how old is that particular bed?
That's going back to 150 million years
of whit bed, the good carving stone, and building stone.
So that's where our Portland stone comes from,
-that whit bed that's 150 million years old.
This section has been left behind where the rest
of the quarry has been quarried away and restacked,
so this becomes an original land surface
which hasn't been touched for millions of years.
How many carvings are here now in the park itself?
There are over 60 pieces of work that have been commissioned.
Gormley was one of the first artists to be inspired
by the scale and space of this amazing quarry.
And you're still creating work here, presumably.
We are, but very carefully because now it's a SSSI -
it's a Site of Special Scientific Interest -
and we've saved this quarry.
The sculpture helped to save it.
Hannah's going to give me a tour of the site and show me some more
of the commissioned work that brought the quarry back to life.
Well, Hannah, this is definitely an eye-catcher.
What's that all about, that funny cone shape?
It's called A Window.
It's created light in the centre that keeps changing,
it plays with the light in the quarry.
It's really, really beautiful.
So on a sunnier day than this, that would really sort of
-come to life and get into its own space, I suppose.
There's a range of artwork here.
Some of which takes inspiration from Dorset's prehistory.
-So what have we got here, Hannah?
-It's called The Fallen Fossil.
It's a negative and a positive, like it's fallen out of the rock bed.
And it really has that sort of primeval feel to it, doesn't it?
It looks like a great big sort of squid, almost.
It's a brilliant piece of work.
It looks like it could literally fit back in again.
The Memory Stones installation is another one
that's just been created.
It's really a stone circle which is actually in line
with the solstice and the equinoxes
and the way the Earth travels around the Sun.
-It's been carefully, you know, mathematically, drawn up.
So it's constantly changing, just as the rock around us
has constantly changed over millions of years.
Yes. It's very, very beautiful.
Very magical. This quarry is very, very special.
It's so impressive to walk around this site
and admire how its natural bedrock has been used
for centuries in buildings all over Dorset and beyond.
Well, property wise this week we've taken Alan and Gwenda on
a magical history tour that started in the 21st century
and ended in the mid-18th
at our wonderful mystery house, but have we done enough
to persuade them to swap a life down under for a slice of Dorset?
Well, let's go and ask them.
We've given you three, I think, quite interesting properties
here in Dorset to consider
that might encourage you to finally make the move.
Have we managed it?
You've certainly given us a lot to think about
in these beautiful properties.
So, Alan, if you had to choose between the three,
which one would be your favourite?
Ah, definitely the mystery house.
-I mean, by a country mile.
-By a country mile?
-By a country mile.
-And we travelled some of those!
-So, for you, Gwenda, is that the same?
-It is, yes. Yes.
It's almost ticked all the boxes that we're looking for, so...
You say we've ALMOST ticked all of those boxes. What's missing, then?
One of our prerequisites was car accommodation
because we need that, so I'd like to follow up with the agent
and see if we can...
There's room in the back to be able to put a car in,
but can you actually go through the fence?
We've got to be able to lock it up, know it's secure, whereas
you can't leave a car sitting out in the street for six months.
Yeah. No, fair enough.
So you're going to go back and talk to the agent,
find out a little more, Alan.
But if you are reassured by the answers
he gives you to the questions you pose,
you might delay your flights and stick around a little longer?
I'll open negotiations now and commence talking
and we'll see where it goes from there.
So, guys, very best of luck. Let us know how you get on.
It's been a real pleasure.
Thank you, we've really enjoyed the time spent with you here,
and thanks very much for the time you've put in.
Now, when most people escape to the country,
it usually means a car journey of a few hours
followed by a truck full of their belongings,
but for Alan and Gwenda, well, their escape to the country
is going to mean a journey of some 10,000 miles
from the other side of the world and the rather exotic surroundings
of Australia's Sunshine Coast to this - Dorset's Jurassic Coast.
Now, as we said, they'll be flying back in just a few days' time.
Let's just hope they've bought a return!
I'll see you next time.
Gwenda and Allen did make an offer on the mystery house,
which was unfortunately not accepted,
so their Dorset property search continues
and we wish them the very best of luck.
If you would like to escape to the country in England,
Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales,
and need our help, you can apply online.