Kent Escape to the Country


Kent

Nicki Chapman is in the Kent countryside with a couple who have a £900,000 budget and completely different views on the style of the home they want to buy.


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Transcript


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When you think of Leicester Square, you think London, big bright lights.

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But, believe it or not, I'm standing in the middle of it right now.

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Confused? Well, you won't be for long,

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because I'll explain everything and where I am in just a few moments.

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Today, I'm with a South London couple who have set their sights

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on moving to the peace of the countryside.

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However, finding a property they both agree on

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proves to be a challenge.

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-I am not sure about the beams.

-I love it.

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We could put a little sitting room for you downstairs, if you want.

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Amidst differences of opinion, there are signs of compromise.

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Who is going to like this one, I wonder?

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-I think it might be me.

-Yeah?

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I might have to put some beams inside, though.

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Today, I'm in Kent, in the village of Penshurst,

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and this is the original Leicester Square,

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dating back to the 1500s.

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Now, the one in London was named after the 2nd Earl of Leicester,

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Robert Sidney, and although this was his main residence here in

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the village, he built a very grand house in 1636 in London,

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where the famous square now sits.

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And that is why there are two Leicester Squares,

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but this one in Kent was definitely here first.

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Sitting in the south-east of England,

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Kent is bordered by Surrey and East Sussex.

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Its only city is Canterbury,

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which is centred on the magnificent cathedral

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founded in the sixth century.

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Beside historic towns,

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30% of the county is covered

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by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

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including well preserved villages such as Chilham.

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At its centre lies a square

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of medieval and Jacobean timber buildings,

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many dating from the late 15th century.

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Known as the Garden of England,

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Kent is celebrated for its fertile ground terrain.

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However, its diverse landscape also includes

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the wetland of Romney Marsh,

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home to the remote church of St Thomas a Becket.

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Built to serve a long-vanished farming community,

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its timber frame was encased by brickwork in the 1700s,

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allowing the church to maintain its lonely marshland vigil.

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So, while Kent provides good connections to London,

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it's also a place where rural splendour is never far away.

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Charles Dickens wrote in his novel The Pickwick Papers,

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"Everybody knows Kent.

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"Apples, cherries, hops and women."

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And he would have known, having lived here.

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And so would I, after all, I am a woman and I grew up here.

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Now, what's widely known about Kent is that its close proximity

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to London means property price tags are above the national figure.

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A typical detached property here would cost on average £468,000.

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Now, that's well over £135,000 more than the UK as a whole.

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So, is it worth it, I hear you ask?

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Well, of course, I'm going to say yes.

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But so too would today's buyers, who want to move here.

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Carl, who works in the building industry, and Debbie,

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a business development manager,

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met over a decade ago in their hometown of Bromley

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in south-east London.

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We used to see each other quite a lot in bars

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and just got to know each other a bit, I think.

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And we probably saw each other every weekend from thereon.

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A month, maybe two until we actually...

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..started dating, I guess.

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Carl has three children from a previous relationship

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who are now teenagers.

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And nine months ago,

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they welcomed their baby daughter Jasmine into the family.

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After spending so much of their lives in Bromley,

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Debbie and Carl are disillusioned

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with the changes they see in the suburb.

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It's getting really busy.

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They are doing a lot of building work here now.

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There's a big development a two-minute walk from here,

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and our road is full of more cars trying to park.

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That is kind of why I want to get out of Bromley.

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For Debbie, Jasmine's arrival has brought into focus

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what she holds most dear in her life.

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I was very career driven.

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I love my job. It has completely changed me,

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so that whole career side of things has taken a back burner for now.

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They want to begin a new life in rural Kent,

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yet remain close enough to family and friends.

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I would like to move sort of south of Sevenoaks and Maidstone,

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purely because I like the area,

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as one of my sisters lives in Maidstone,

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the other lives in Sevenoaks,

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so sort of somewhere in the middle would be perfect.

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Jasmine's arrival has meant that

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Debbie and Carl have had to share their sleeping space.

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I'm looking forward to having a fifth bedroom

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so that we get our bedroom back

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and the baby's not waking us up

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-every time she moves or coughs or...

-Yeah.

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Debbie also needs space to look after two horses,

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which are currently stabled several miles away.

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It would be great to have them right on the doorstep so I don't have to

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drive miles up there,

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miles back just to feed them or just to check on them every day.

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They both agree about the need to move.

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However, that might be the only thing the couple see eye to eye on.

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-We disagree...

-On everything.

-..on everything.

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-Everything, yeah.

-On the style of the house.

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I wanted a character house with the beams and...

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-The open fireplace.

-..open fireplace.

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But I don't really like any of that.

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I only discovered this... Well, probably a couple of weeks ago.

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I quite like the modern look.

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I don't mind a farmhouse or an older house,

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but it has to have that modern twist.

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Carl and Debbie would ideally like to live

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within 20 miles of Maidstone,

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in the north-west of Kent,

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which will keep them within reach of Carl's children in Bromley

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and also means they are close to Debbie's parents.

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But they do have other needs for their home,

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so I'm meeting up with them to learn more about their property wish list.

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Well, Debbie and Carl, welcome to Kent.

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I've got the impression that you two don't always agree.

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-Would that be the fair?

-I think that is very fair.

-Yeah.

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-The five bedrooms is the only thing that we agree on.

-Yeah.

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And then it all goes wrong, doesn't it, because...

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-Yes.

-..how many acres of land do you actually want?

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Oh, well, there's no acres that are going to be too many,

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so as much as you can find us, for me.

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-But for Debbie...

-Just a couple. Just for the horses.

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-Now, as you've got horses...

-Yes.

-..you know what it's like...

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-Absolutely....

-..managing land.

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-Yes.

-Have you any idea at all?

-Not a clue.

-Oh.

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What else does the house compose of?

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Well, for me, I'd like to be in the middle of nowhere, no neighbours.

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Debbie likes the idea of having people nearby

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in case I'm at work and...

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OK. All right. What about the style of the house?

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-Are we going to agree on this one?

-No.

-No. No.

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THEY LAUGH

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I want a nice character house with the beams and...

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-The open fireplace.

-..open fireplace.

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And I'm not really...

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I don't really like the open fireplaces, the open beams.

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I... The character house, I don't really like that.

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I was thinking of a new show called One Couple, Two Houses. Might work.

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You two have been together a long time, there is hope.

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Who's going to compromise?

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-Me.

-Are you? Are you? LAUGHS

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-Debbie, is that right?

-Yeah. I think so.

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Are you happy to take on a little bit of a project?

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Absolutely. That's what we done on our current property.

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Remind us of your top budget,

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because we know that Kent is a very expensive area.

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Yes, this is the trouble. So, we said up to 900,000.

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Hopefully below that would be good.

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I think we should get started, because we have lined up

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some rather lovely properties to show you.

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-Lovely.

-Are you looking forward to it?

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-Yes, we are.

-Yes. Can't wait.

-Absolutely.

-Yeah, me too. Come on.

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With a maximum budget of £900,000,

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Debbie and Carl are divided on whether their five-bedroom

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country home will have character or be modern.

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Carl would be happy to live in a more remote location,

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while Debbie would prefer to be closer to a community.

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They are also looking for land for Debbie's horses,

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and Carl is hoping for a long term renovation project.

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I've got a wide range of beautiful houses to show them.

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I'll be asking them to guess the price of each property

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before I reveal it.

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The final offering will be the Mystery House,

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which offers a surprising twist on their requirements and takes their

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search in different directions.

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Now, I want to ask you about this land.

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How many acres in total would you like, Carl?

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27.

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THEY LAUGH That's the whole of Kent.

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-You could buy the county.

-Yeah.

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What about the maintenance of all this land?

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Well, that is why we need the animals.

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-We get sheep to cut the grass...

-Right, OK.

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-Alpacas, I think, can keep the bushes...

-OK. Yeah.

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-Carl is dreaming. Carl is dreaming a little bit.

-He is.

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Obviously, having the animals on the land

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makes more work, not less, Carl.

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Our first house is on the outskirts of the small community of Brenchley.

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Nearby is Matfield,

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situated in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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The village centre lies in a conservation area

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and is home to a range of local shops and charming pubs.

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Matfield House is an impressive Grade I listed Georgian home,

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built in 1728 for a local yeoman farmer and his heiress wife.

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The war poet Siegfried Sassoon lived in the village and wrote of

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his pleasure at the cricket matches played on the green,

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a tradition that continues to this day.

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Two miles from Matfield is a substantial Grade II listed property

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that lies in a charming setting.

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-Oh, wow!

-That is nice, isn't it?

-Look at that!

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-THEY LAUGH

-I like it already.

-Looks nice.

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Yeah. Bit remote, though, isn't it?

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Now, who wanted remote, I wonder?

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Did you expect us to show you something like this

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to start off with?

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-No. Not at all.

-The barn itself dates back to the 16th century.

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-Oh, it is an oldie.

-It is.

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Now, you've got another barn next door, but this is detached.

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-OK.

-Well, I am glad you're liking the look from the outside...

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-It does look nice.

-Yeah.

-It is impressive, isn't it?

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-Yeah. Very.

-Let's see if it's just as impressive inside.

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It's an encouraging reaction that I am optimistic will continue

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when Carl and Debbie see the inside, which has an upside-down layout.

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The ground floor is dedicated to the bedrooms,

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but we'll go straight upstairs to explore

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the dual aspect sitting room on the first floor.

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-Wow. Look at that.

-So many beams.

-THEY LAUGH

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-This is good, I like this.

-It's not your average sitting room, is it?

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-No, it is not.

-It's lovely.

-Carl, you are in seventh heaven.

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-Yes, you are.

-Yeah, yeah.

-I like this.

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-Got to work on Debbie.

-I'm not sure about the beams.

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-It is a lot of them.

-Carl?

-I love it.

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We could put a little sitting room downstairs for you, if you want.

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-It's a nice big room, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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The way it has been configured,

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you have the most incredible views through all those windows.

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That is amazing. It is a lovely room, but still not a fan of beams.

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This is not a room for me.

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-I love it. Yeah. We'll take it.

-THEY LAUGH

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You two haven't disappointed me. You know, it's only round one.

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It's round one, let's see what you make of the kitchen.

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-OK.

-All righty.

-It's just through here,

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so you've got a really good sized study area.

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-Yeah.

-Nice office space.

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Toilet through there. And here is the kitchen, complete with...

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-Beams!

-THEY LAUGH

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What do you think of the actual space in the kitchen?

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Yeah, I think it's a good space, isn't it? New kitchen, Carl.

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A little bit of a project there for you.

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-Yeah. But I mean...

-Could you cope with putting in a new kitchen?

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-Oh, yeah. Two minutes.

-Oh, look at that!

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Mr Fixit. It is funny, isn't it,

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how certain sort of architectural styles

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can have such a profound effect?

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-Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

-You are warming to it straightaway.

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And I... No, I'm not.

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Right, well, I haven't won upstairs, have I?

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At all. Should we head downstairs to see if the bedrooms win you over?

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-Yeah, for sure.

-Thank you.

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I can see this is going to be quite a battle.

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Perhaps they will find common ground when they see the four existing

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bedrooms on the ground floor.

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Two of them can be found off an inner hallway with plenty of beams,

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which will please Carl.

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One has an adjoining dressing room, currently used as a study.

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Another bedroom and family bathroom are on the opposite side of

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the entrance hall, along with a room we have earmarked for our couple.

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So here is the master bedroom. Minimal beams.

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Yes. Feels a bit more modern downstairs.

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-Warming to it?

-Mmm...

-THEY LAUGH

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OK, won't go that far. Tepid. Not warm, Nicki, just tepid.

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Well, this might impress you a little bit.

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You have got a walk-in wardrobe here.

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-OK.

-And then behind this door, you've actually got an en-suite.

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-Oh, very nice.

-Very nice, yeah, yeah.

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-Look at that.

-Contemporary.

-Yes.

-You see?

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So along the hallway, you've got the other bedrooms.

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Then right at the end, you can just see there is a door,

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and that's the garage.

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-That could be the additional bedroom.

-Oh, OK.

-A project for you.

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-So you're loving the downstairs...

-Yeah, I really like downstairs.

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Outside, hopefully, is going to cement the deal.

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-I'm keeping everything crossed. After you, Carl.

-OK, thank you.

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Leaving the house from the rear of the entrance hallway,

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we cross an extensive stone patio to take in the half-acre garden

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which commands truly spectacular views.

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So you have this splendid Grade II listed barn with beams.

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-Yes.

-And then you have this magnificent garden.

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However, we can't forget the horses, can we?

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Right behind us is just under four acres.

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-OK.

-I am going to ask you to guess the price of our barn,

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and then we're going to discuss the field separately,

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-if that's all right.

-OK. Yeah, yeah.

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-So what are you thinking?

-About nine.

-885.

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-£885,000?

-Yeah.

-I say probably nine.

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-£900,000?

-Yeah.

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The asking price is £895,000.

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-Oh, we were close.

-Yeah, yeah.

-OK. So that's a jolly good start.

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-Yeah.

-You sounded quite interested then.

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If we were going to add...

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..the field at the back, the asking price is £950,000.

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-OK.

-Obviously there is a premium on that land.

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-Yeah.

-Do you want to go back inside, reacquaint yourself with the barn?

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And then when you've seen enough,

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do have a look at that all-important field at the back.

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-Thanks, guys.

-Thank you.

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Coming in under budget,

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this Grade II listed barn conversion provides four bedrooms

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with a potential to convert the garage into a fifth,

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subject to planning consent.

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There are plenty of reception areas for the family to spread out in,

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along with the option to buy a four acre paddock for Debbie's horses.

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When I first saw this property from the outside, I thought,

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"It's a barn, there possibly will be some beams."

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I just dislike them. I don't like the exposed dark wood.

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It makes the rooms darker.

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I know Carl loves this place...

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..but I am sure there's other places he will love just as much.

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I love the character, I love the size, I love the land.

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I am a little bit sad that this is a definite no-no,

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because I can actually see me being here.

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But obviously that would be without Debbie, which won't work.

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How would you feel, waking up to that every single day?

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-That would be lovely.

-Yes.

-Part of the dream.

-Absolutely.

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Well, I am going to have to drag you away,

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-because I've got more to show you.

-Ooh.

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Canterbury is known around the world,

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thanks to its religious significance and of course Geoffrey Chaucer's

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celebrated Canterbury Tales.

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Set on the banks of the River Stour, it has existed for 2,000 years.

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A settlement was first recorded in Celtic times,

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but in the first century AD

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it was captured by the Romans and rebuilt.

0:16:490:16:53

Today the river offers a unique way to experience

0:16:530:16:56

the city's layers of history.

0:16:560:16:58

Keen to discover more about the county they hope to call home,

0:16:580:17:01

Debbie and Carl are meeting guide Rob Nye.

0:17:010:17:04

So why is it important for you

0:17:040:17:05

to keep the history of Canterbury alive?

0:17:050:17:08

I believe, personally, that Canterbury

0:17:080:17:10

is the pinnacle of history here in England.

0:17:100:17:13

I believe it's well worth preserving our heritage.

0:17:130:17:15

It's a way into the past.

0:17:150:17:18

So, seeing the city by water,

0:17:180:17:19

I guess we're going to get a different feel for it.

0:17:190:17:22

We're going to see different parts, etc.

0:17:220:17:24

Absolutely. You can always tell an old city

0:17:240:17:26

if it's got a river running through it.

0:17:260:17:27

Because they would have used it to carry the heavy materials

0:17:270:17:30

such as stone and things like that,

0:17:300:17:31

they wouldn't have had engines and things like that.

0:17:310:17:33

So you'd have to have used boats.

0:17:330:17:35

The Stour in Canterbury lays claim to being

0:17:350:17:38

one of England's most historically rich rivers.

0:17:380:17:42

In Roman and medieval times, it was a major transport and trading route,

0:17:420:17:46

connecting England with the continent.

0:17:460:17:48

Later it powered water mills that helped generate the city's wealth.

0:17:480:17:53

So this is the first part of the tour.

0:17:530:17:55

No turning back now.

0:17:550:17:58

-Welcome to King's Bridge.

-King's Bridge. Look at that.

-Now...

0:17:590:18:03

King's Bridge allegedly received its name after King Henry II

0:18:030:18:07

passed over it in 1174,

0:18:070:18:11

on his way to offer penance for being responsible for the murder

0:18:110:18:14

of Archbishop Thomas Becket.

0:18:140:18:17

It was expanded this way in 1769 due to the increase

0:18:170:18:20

of horse and carriage traffic.

0:18:200:18:22

And in the mornings,

0:18:220:18:23

when the delivery drivers go over this bridge,

0:18:230:18:26

it becomes the second oldest working road bridge in England.

0:18:260:18:29

The bridge does work, though, as a fantastic portal to another world.

0:18:290:18:33

As we emerge, the sounds of the high street disappeared.

0:18:330:18:35

It's wonderful back here.

0:18:350:18:38

So, here we are. We arrive at the tip of the little Franciscan island.

0:18:380:18:42

Who were the Franciscans?

0:18:420:18:44

The Franciscans, followers of

0:18:440:18:46

the patron saint of wildlife and animals,

0:18:460:18:48

Francis of Assisi from Italy.

0:18:480:18:50

Franciscanos, more commonly known here in England as the Greyfriars -

0:18:500:18:54

due to their vow of poverty,

0:18:540:18:55

they would often wear the cheapest available cloth,

0:18:550:18:57

and friar from the French word for brother, frere.

0:18:570:19:00

These "grey brothers".

0:19:000:19:02

The Franciscans first arrived in 1224,

0:19:020:19:05

when nine missionaries braved the English Channel.

0:19:050:19:08

When the Franciscans came to Canterbury,

0:19:080:19:10

they weren't treated very well.

0:19:100:19:12

In fact, quite a lot of them were mistaken for deserters,

0:19:120:19:15

beggars, these poor men in rags.

0:19:150:19:17

The soldiers here in Canterbury were used to very expensive, rich,

0:19:170:19:20

well-dressed members of the Church.

0:19:200:19:23

These poor, grubby Greyfriars, yeah,

0:19:230:19:24

they weren't treated very well at all.

0:19:240:19:26

So, Rob, what can we see upstream here?

0:19:260:19:29

The little chapel just upstream there, the structure,

0:19:290:19:32

the base of it dates back to about 1269.

0:19:320:19:35

The Franciscans had been in Canterbury for about 50 years or so.

0:19:350:19:38

It was mostly used as a bridge and access to the island.

0:19:380:19:41

They built a small chapel on top of that

0:19:410:19:43

where the Franciscans still worship today.

0:19:430:19:45

And downstairs, there is graffiti on the walls

0:19:450:19:47

from previous prisoners as well.

0:19:470:19:49

Canterbury has been a centre of Christian religion

0:19:510:19:54

since the sixth century.

0:19:540:19:56

The buildings that lie on the River Stour

0:19:560:19:58

stand testament to this heritage.

0:19:580:20:00

The Franciscans weren't the only monastic order

0:20:010:20:04

to establish a base here.

0:20:040:20:06

The Dominicans also set down roots in 1236.

0:20:060:20:09

Parts of the order were even involved in the Spanish Inquisition,

0:20:110:20:14

and the ones here in Canterbury,

0:20:140:20:16

they were quite famous for hunting witches and heretics as well.

0:20:160:20:20

Rather prosperous career, though, hunting witches.

0:20:200:20:23

Who would have thought, eh? They would dress in black,

0:20:230:20:25

a much more expensive colour robe,

0:20:250:20:27

and they were known here as the Blackfriars.

0:20:270:20:30

Two of their original structures survive.

0:20:300:20:34

What are they used for today?

0:20:340:20:36

The school here, King's School, they use this one as an art department,

0:20:360:20:39

and over here, a secondary assembly hall.

0:20:390:20:42

Having journeyed back through nearly

0:20:420:20:44

a millennium of Canterbury's history,

0:20:440:20:47

it's time to spool forward and return to our house-hunt.

0:20:470:20:50

Our next stop is again on the edge

0:20:550:20:57

of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

0:20:570:21:00

a mile from the village of Horsmondem.

0:21:000:21:03

With a thriving community for Debbie,

0:21:030:21:05

attractive buildings surround a large village green

0:21:050:21:08

known as the Heath.

0:21:080:21:10

It's home to some useful independent shops, and as well as a pub,

0:21:100:21:13

there's a social club open to all local residents.

0:21:130:21:17

Set off a quiet lane, we find house number two.

0:21:170:21:20

Right, let's see how we get on with our second property.

0:21:210:21:24

I feel much more positive about this property.

0:21:240:21:27

Doesn't look like there's too many beams in there, does it?

0:21:270:21:29

-It doesn't.

-So we have a modern property this time.

0:21:290:21:32

Who's going to like this one, I wonder?

0:21:320:21:33

-I think it might be me.

-Yeah?

0:21:330:21:36

I might have to put some beams inside, though.

0:21:360:21:38

It's only about ten years old, so let's see how we get on this time,

0:21:380:21:42

-shall we?

-Yeah. Let's.

-Come on.

0:21:420:21:44

Hopefully, Debbie continues to appreciate the merits

0:21:460:21:48

of this contemporary house when she sees inside.

0:21:480:21:51

So let's start our tour - massive entrance hall.

0:21:530:21:57

You can probably guess it's unfurnished,

0:21:570:21:59

but you can put your own mark on it.

0:21:590:22:01

But I think it's worth really beginning in the kitchen.

0:22:010:22:04

-Yeah. Lovely.

-Very nice.

-Much nicer than the last one.

0:22:040:22:08

-Look at the smile!

-Put a couple of beams up there, maybe just to...

0:22:080:22:11

No. Yeah, it's lovely. I really like it. Not what I expected, actually.

0:22:110:22:15

-It's much more modern. It's nice and big.

-Yeah.

0:22:150:22:18

Now, I've got to ask you, haven't I, Carl?

0:22:180:22:21

-I hate it!

-Oh, no.

-No, this is still good.

0:22:210:22:23

-Does it feel like a family home?

-Yeah, absolutely, yes.

-It does.

0:22:230:22:26

It actually makes me think I haven't got to do too much anyway,

0:22:260:22:29

so it is... It's still quite nice.

0:22:290:22:32

And then on top of this,

0:22:320:22:33

you've actually got a utility room next door, which is...

0:22:330:22:35

-Oh, perfect.

-..pretty large as well.

0:22:350:22:38

Got a pantry behind us.

0:22:380:22:40

-OK.

-And let's see what's through these doors.

0:22:400:22:43

Now, big family, very large sitting room.

0:22:460:22:49

-Very large.

-Good size, yeah.

-Yeah.

0:22:490:22:51

From the outside, I thought it would be quite small rooms, but...

0:22:510:22:53

-Yeah.

-Yes, it's huge.

-You could put in an incredible feature.

0:22:530:22:58

-You like a fireplace...

-Can't have Carl without a project.

0:22:580:23:02

-Yeah. I was going to say.

-Yeah.

0:23:020:23:04

-I like it.

-So, also on this floor, you have good-sized study.

0:23:040:23:08

-You could make that into another bedroom.

-Mm-hmm.

0:23:080:23:10

A man cave?

0:23:100:23:13

Bedroom. I don't think you heard me on that one, did you?

0:23:130:23:16

-Let's head upstairs and look at the bedrooms.

-OK.

0:23:160:23:20

It's wonderful to see how enthusiastic Debbie is

0:23:200:23:23

about this house.

0:23:230:23:24

Along with the possible bedroom downstairs,

0:23:240:23:27

upstairs provides another four in total,

0:23:270:23:29

comprising two doubles and a single for the children, who could all make

0:23:290:23:33

use of the stylish family bathroom.

0:23:330:23:36

So, with all the children accounted for,

0:23:370:23:39

it's time to assess where they would sleep.

0:23:390:23:42

Let's hope those positive vibes continue with the bedrooms.

0:23:430:23:47

-Nice, big room.

-Yeah.

-This is the master.

0:23:470:23:50

I can't imagine you letting the children have this size.

0:23:500:23:54

-With the en suite, you can see the shower there.

-Yes.

0:23:540:23:56

And plenty of wardrobe space.

0:23:560:23:59

Yeah, it's nice. Nice and big. Nice and bright.

0:23:590:24:01

-The windows aren't very big, but...

-True.

-It's still bright, yeah.

0:24:010:24:05

-Are we liking this house?

-I am.

-I think we might be.

0:24:050:24:08

-I am, yeah.

-Is it giving you everything you want

0:24:080:24:12

as, you know, a mum, for the family?

0:24:120:24:15

You're going to be here more time than anybody else.

0:24:150:24:18

Yeah, I think so. I like... It's a big, big house, isn't it?

0:24:180:24:22

There's lots of spaces for everyone.

0:24:220:24:24

It is a large property.

0:24:240:24:26

But there's also just that little bit more to show you.

0:24:260:24:31

A stone patio leads to a large lawn

0:24:310:24:34

that gives way to views of the surrounding countryside.

0:24:340:24:37

We have got the huge house for the family, tick.

0:24:370:24:41

And I can deliver on the land.

0:24:410:24:44

In total, you have got about 3.6 acres, total plot itself.

0:24:440:24:48

But you've got a paddock here

0:24:480:24:50

which you could convert into a menage for the horses.

0:24:500:24:53

And then you've got all that land there,

0:24:530:24:55

-so plenty for two horses.

-Yeah. Lovely.

0:24:550:24:58

And then, additionally, and this is the interesting bit,

0:24:580:25:00

I think, is the garage.

0:25:000:25:03

Would it be worth looking at planning permission

0:25:030:25:05

and converting that for the family?

0:25:050:25:07

I think it would.

0:25:070:25:08

And then you could make that into further bedrooms,

0:25:080:25:12

or perhaps the man den.

0:25:120:25:13

-There we go.

-Is this what you had in mind with the move?

0:25:130:25:16

For me, yes, it's quite similar to what I'm thinking.

0:25:180:25:21

But can you afford it?

0:25:210:25:23

I would expect it to be around £825,000.

0:25:230:25:28

Interesting. OK.

0:25:280:25:31

-I think about 800.

-£800,000?

0:25:310:25:34

-Yeah.

-Oh... We're miles out, aren't we?

0:25:340:25:38

I don't think you're going to like me on this one.

0:25:380:25:41

The asking price is...

0:25:410:25:42

-..£950,000.

-Wow!

-Wow, OK.

0:25:440:25:47

Because you've got a five bedroom home, you know,

0:25:470:25:51

-you've got just under four acres of land...

-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:25:510:25:53

The good news is the owners are aware of your budget

0:25:530:25:56

-and are happy to have a conversation with you.

-OK.

0:25:560:26:00

-Why don't you now mull that over...

-Yeah.

-OK.

0:26:000:26:01

..and then come and find me when you're ready?

0:26:010:26:04

-Perfect.

-OK.

-Thank you.

0:26:040:26:05

£50,000 over budget,

0:26:070:26:10

this generous modern property

0:26:100:26:11

benefits from a countryside setting,

0:26:110:26:13

but is also close to a village.

0:26:130:26:15

It has the five bedrooms Carl and Debbie are after,

0:26:150:26:18

as well as an impressive open-plan kitchen and spacious sitting room.

0:26:180:26:23

There are over three acres of land for Debbie's horses.

0:26:230:26:26

I think this could well be the house.

0:26:280:26:30

It's got the land that we want, it's got the bedrooms that we want.

0:26:300:26:33

Potential to do a little project for myself.

0:26:330:26:35

And I really think this could be it.

0:26:350:26:37

Debbie loved the property, which makes it a lot easier for me.

0:26:370:26:41

Not the sort of property I would have picked,

0:26:410:26:43

but it doesn't mean I don't like it.

0:26:430:26:45

Today, I think I have learned that budget we've got in mind

0:26:450:26:48

might need to be pushed up slightly to get exactly what we want.

0:26:480:26:51

This house is a thousand times better than the last house.

0:26:510:26:55

It is much more my style.

0:26:550:26:56

I could really see myself living here.

0:26:560:26:59

Look at those happy two smiles, not just one.

0:26:590:27:03

That has gone really well, hasn't it?

0:27:030:27:05

-Yeah. Absolutely.

-Are you surprised you both like it?

0:27:050:27:08

A little bit, yeah.

0:27:080:27:09

So am I.

0:27:090:27:10

THEY LAUGH

0:27:100:27:12

We're house-hunting in the Kent countryside

0:27:220:27:24

with parents Debbie and Carl from Bromley in south-east London.

0:27:240:27:28

Their budget of £900,000 needs to house four children and two horses.

0:27:280:27:33

So far, the property style and location has been up for debate.

0:27:330:27:37

However, there are signs of unity and awe

0:27:370:27:41

when they see our Mystery House.

0:27:410:27:43

It is beautiful, isn't it?

0:27:430:27:45

-Unbelievable, look at that.

-Even with the beams, it's nice.

0:27:450:27:48

THEY LAUGH

0:27:480:27:49

And it's far from a close shave when I try my hand

0:27:490:27:52

at making English cricket bats.

0:27:520:27:55

I'm being very, very careful here, aren't I?

0:27:550:27:58

I can feel I'm slightly holding back.

0:27:580:28:00

-So...

-That's how it's meant to be done.

0:28:000:28:02

Look at that.

0:28:020:28:03

Now, I always like to start the second day of our property search

0:28:060:28:09

with a house in the bag.

0:28:090:28:11

So today, the Mystery House will have to deliver

0:28:110:28:14

above and beyond that beautiful new build

0:28:140:28:17

we showed Carl and Debbie yesterday,

0:28:170:28:19

in terms of price, space, and, of course, land.

0:28:190:28:23

Now, I believe this is going to offer them a little bit of

0:28:230:28:27

everything that they're both after and maybe even the odd beam or two.

0:28:270:28:31

The Mystery House takes us to the village of Collier Street,

0:28:340:28:37

nine miles south-west of Maidstone.

0:28:370:28:40

With a population of around 500,

0:28:400:28:42

Collier Street doesn't have amenities,

0:28:420:28:45

although there is a primary school.

0:28:450:28:47

Facing opposite this is the Victorian St Margaret's Church.

0:28:470:28:51

Although the substantial properties here were built in the Tudor era,

0:28:510:28:55

most date from the 19th century.

0:28:550:28:56

The village is in the centre of an important hop-growing area of Kent,

0:28:580:29:02

and many oast houses dot the landscape.

0:29:020:29:06

Although our Mystery House reflects this heritage, it is semidetached,

0:29:060:29:10

set across three floors and unconventional in many ways.

0:29:100:29:15

So it might take a while for Debbie and Carl to make sense of it all.

0:29:150:29:19

This, I think, is the perfect spot for you to see the Mystery House.

0:29:220:29:28

-Where are we looking, here?

-That's it.

0:29:280:29:30

-Oh, wow!

-Really? Oh, wow!

-That's lovely.

0:29:300:29:32

Is it the whole house, though?

0:29:320:29:34

-No.

-I thought not.

0:29:340:29:35

And that's why it's the Mystery House.

0:29:350:29:38

As you can see, it's an oast house, built around the 1860s,

0:29:380:29:41

converted last year.

0:29:410:29:43

-OK.

-You do have neighbours, but they are not side-to-side with you,

0:29:430:29:47

they are actually back-to-back.

0:29:470:29:49

-OK.

-Hopefully, you are going to get the best of both worlds.

0:29:490:29:52

Debbie, it does have a few beams.

0:29:520:29:55

-OK.

-But not too scary.

0:29:550:29:57

Carl, it has got the character and the charm and...

0:29:570:30:00

Well, I think it has got a real personality as well.

0:30:000:30:02

-Definitely.

-So I'm hoping, no fights.

0:30:020:30:06

Could it be your future home?

0:30:060:30:08

Let's see.

0:30:080:30:10

We have been so close with their previous houses,

0:30:100:30:13

and I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed

0:30:130:30:16

that Debbie and Carl will agree on the merits

0:30:160:30:18

of this magnificent conversion.

0:30:180:30:20

The disadvantage of being in the front is I can't see your faces.

0:30:220:30:25

You're hearing me smile, don't worry.

0:30:250:30:27

I like that. Hear you smile!

0:30:270:30:30

What do you think of the kitchen, though, more importantly?

0:30:310:30:33

-It's lovely.

-This is good, yeah.

-Really nice.

0:30:330:30:35

-Nice and light.

-Big space.

0:30:350:30:37

-Yeah.

-And the beams aren't...

0:30:370:30:38

-You can live with them.

-Not overpowering.

0:30:380:30:41

No, they're not. That's the one. Got that modern twist.

0:30:410:30:43

-Yeah.

-Which I like.

0:30:430:30:44

Am I right in thinking it's working for both of you?

0:30:440:30:47

-I think so.

-OK. OK. OK. On that note...

0:30:470:30:50

I'll take you through to the sitting room.

0:30:500:30:52

Downstairs cloakroom.

0:30:520:30:53

-Yeah.

-Up two steps...

0:30:530:30:56

-Leads us to our sitting-room.

-Oh, nice fireplace.

0:30:560:30:59

-Look at that.

-Oh, nice, yeah.

-You sound slightly surprised.

0:30:590:31:01

I am, I am, I really like it.

0:31:010:31:03

We have one beam in this room, a bressummer beam,

0:31:030:31:05

above the fireplace.

0:31:050:31:07

I did spot that. As I walked in.

0:31:070:31:08

I actually like the fact I haven't got to do anything to it.

0:31:080:31:11

It's all done, which is nice.

0:31:110:31:13

I love the character. And that view.

0:31:130:31:15

You don't need the TV, you just sit there, looking out there.

0:31:150:31:17

That's why you move to the country, isn't it?

0:31:170:31:19

-Absolutely.

-Absolutely, yeah.

0:31:190:31:21

We're happy, aren't we?

0:31:210:31:22

We are, let's see what we've got upstairs.

0:31:220:31:24

What a result.

0:31:260:31:27

Despite the odd beam,

0:31:270:31:29

our project-free Mystery House seems to be hitting the mark.

0:31:290:31:33

Up on the first floor,

0:31:330:31:34

the corridor leads to two guest bedrooms

0:31:340:31:37

and a stylish family bathroom.

0:31:370:31:39

But that's nothing compared to what lies in wait

0:31:390:31:42

for Carl and Debbie in the master.

0:31:420:31:45

This property is over three floors.

0:31:450:31:48

-OK.

-We've got to show you the master bedroom.

0:31:480:31:52

It's lovely. Really big.

0:31:520:31:53

-Good size, yeah.

-Yeah.

-Could put the bed just here, couldn't we?

0:31:530:31:56

Yeah. Look out into that every morning.

0:31:560:31:59

But you really need an en-suite, don't you?

0:31:590:32:01

That would be nice.

0:32:010:32:02

Do you just want to take a little look up those stairs?

0:32:020:32:05

I don't think you're going to be disappointed.

0:32:050:32:07

-Oh, wow.

-Go on, up you go.

0:32:070:32:09

-Oh, wow, look at that.

-Wow.

0:32:100:32:13

It's so big.

0:32:130:32:14

It's beautiful, isn't it?

0:32:140:32:16

Unbelievable, look at that.

0:32:160:32:18

Even with the beams, it's nice.

0:32:180:32:20

I knew you were going to be impressed.

0:32:200:32:22

If I showed someone this bathroom and they didn't like it,

0:32:220:32:25

I don't think I'd talk to them again.

0:32:250:32:26

-It's unbelievable.

-It is absolutely beautiful.

0:32:260:32:29

-It's a winner, isn't it?

-I think this is the house.

0:32:290:32:31

-Yeah.

-It is a winner. Tremendous. Right.

0:32:310:32:33

I'm going to drag you two away now, we've more to show you.

0:32:330:32:37

Now their excitement is building,

0:32:370:32:39

let's keep that momentum going

0:32:390:32:42

and explore the rest of our multilevel mystery property.

0:32:420:32:45

Up on the second floor,

0:32:450:32:46

two more bedrooms make up the five that our couple requested,

0:32:460:32:50

and there's also a shower room.

0:32:500:32:51

Outside, there's a small front garden and a garage

0:32:530:32:55

with planning permission

0:32:550:32:57

for conversion to a one or two bedroom annexe.

0:32:570:33:00

The all-important outside space.

0:33:030:33:06

You've got an enclosed garden here,

0:33:060:33:08

that two acre paddock is included with this property.

0:33:080:33:11

-Two acres enough?

-Yeah, perfect.

0:33:110:33:12

-Yeah, absolutely.

-What's going through your mind?

0:33:120:33:14

What are your thoughts on the Mystery House?

0:33:140:33:16

-I'm really excited about this one. I, um...

-Yeah, me too.

0:33:160:33:19

The other two, I feel like, are not in the picture.

0:33:190:33:21

-Forgotten about them. They've gone.

-Really?

-Yeah, absolutely.

0:33:210:33:25

And even though we've got neighbours, I don't mind.

0:33:250:33:27

We're going to have to try and work out a price.

0:33:270:33:30

935.

0:33:300:33:32

£935,000.

0:33:320:33:34

-Right.

-I think it's closer to a million.

0:33:340:33:37

I think it's around the nine...

0:33:370:33:38

985.

0:33:380:33:40

Oh, £985,000.

0:33:400:33:43

She's got it, hasn't she?

0:33:430:33:46

Asking price is...

0:33:460:33:47

..£910,000.

0:33:490:33:51

Oh, wow, look at that.

0:33:510:33:52

-I won.

-You won, but more importantly...

0:33:520:33:56

-It's better than I thought.

-It's just a shave over your budget.

0:33:560:33:58

Just a shave.

0:33:580:34:00

-Yeah.

-And that's without any negotiations.

0:34:000:34:01

-Yeah.

-You've got some thinking to do, haven't you?

0:34:010:34:04

-Yes.

-Check out the garage, with all that potential.

0:34:040:34:06

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-And then let's have another chat.

0:34:060:34:09

-Perfect, thank you. Brilliant.

-Thank you.

0:34:090:34:11

On the market for £10,000 over Debbie and Carl's budget,

0:34:140:34:17

this mystery oast house conversion

0:34:170:34:19

has really struck a chord with them both.

0:34:190:34:22

It has five bedrooms,

0:34:220:34:23

including a self-contained master en suite.

0:34:230:34:26

Along with generous living areas,

0:34:260:34:29

it provides over two acres for Debbie's horses

0:34:290:34:31

and perhaps a mini project for Carl.

0:34:310:34:34

-Good size.

-Yeah, this is certainly for you, isn't it, in here?

0:34:340:34:37

If I knock this down, we can get maybe two floors,

0:34:370:34:39

little bedroom up there, little sitting area.

0:34:390:34:41

-Man cave.

-Well, this can be yours, I'll have the house.

0:34:410:34:45

Sounds good to me. Let's do it.

0:34:450:34:46

I think we both agree on this house.

0:34:480:34:51

It's modern, it's got character,

0:34:510:34:54

it's got some beams, it's got the land.

0:34:540:34:57

It seems to tick both of our boxes perfectly.

0:34:570:35:00

I think, as a family, we'd all be really happy here.

0:35:000:35:03

The top floor can be the kids' own floor,

0:35:030:35:06

just seems to flow really well.

0:35:060:35:08

Yes! We have done it.

0:35:080:35:11

All three houses, you've seen them all.

0:35:110:35:14

-Feeling happy?

-Yeah.

-Yes, very happy.

0:35:140:35:15

-Yeah?

-This is...really lovely.

0:35:150:35:18

-Yeah.

-Really like it.

0:35:180:35:20

I think we might have ended on a high.

0:35:200:35:21

-I think we have.

-Let's go.

0:35:210:35:23

Kent's rich, varied history is said to include

0:35:290:35:32

the origins of the world's second most popular sport, cricket.

0:35:320:35:36

The game is reputed to have originated

0:35:360:35:38

amongst children in Kent's Weald

0:35:380:35:41

during Saxon or Norman times.

0:35:410:35:43

To find out more, I've come to meet local resident Andrew Kember,

0:35:430:35:48

who established Salix Cricket Bats in 1990.

0:35:480:35:51

The company makes handcrafted bats

0:35:510:35:54

out of the finest traditional materials

0:35:540:35:57

and they're used by many international players.

0:35:570:36:00

Andrew, good to meet you.

0:36:000:36:02

Now, you might not know this, but I'm actually from Kent.

0:36:020:36:05

And I like to think Kent is the home of cricket.

0:36:050:36:08

I think we're pretty safe saying that.

0:36:080:36:10

So how did you get into this business,

0:36:100:36:11

making some of the best cricket bats in the world?

0:36:110:36:14

Really, a love of the game.

0:36:140:36:15

Now, I know it's made from willow, and that's about it.

0:36:150:36:18

Where does the willow come from?

0:36:180:36:19

We tend to use willow from the south-east,

0:36:190:36:22

and if we can buy wood from Kent, then perfect.

0:36:220:36:25

This is the starting point for us.

0:36:250:36:27

Our first job now is to plane the face

0:36:270:36:31

and have a look at the quality of the wood,

0:36:310:36:33

and start to be able to assess where we're going to put the handle,

0:36:330:36:37

which end we think should be the driving end,

0:36:370:36:39

what sort of weight we think the bat's going to be

0:36:390:36:42

and what shape we think we should make it.

0:36:420:36:43

So what's the next process?

0:36:430:36:45

Well, the next process is pressing,

0:36:450:36:47

-and we can press this piece of wood here.

-OK.

0:36:470:36:50

Before the face of the willow is pressed

0:36:500:36:52

at a pressure of up to 2,000lbs per square inch,

0:36:520:36:56

it's sprayed with water to keep the fibres of the wood supple.

0:36:560:37:00

So if we start the machine...

0:37:000:37:02

Now, what I would like you to do

0:37:020:37:05

is just feed the bat between the side rollers

0:37:050:37:08

and the face roller.

0:37:080:37:10

The pressing process strengthens the willow,

0:37:120:37:14

and gives it more rebound when struck by the ball.

0:37:140:37:18

The handle is made separately to the bat

0:37:180:37:21

out of cane laminated with strips of rubber.

0:37:210:37:24

Both the handle and blade of the bat are cut

0:37:240:37:27

with the same unique splicing saw.

0:37:270:37:30

They are fitted together in a room next door.

0:37:300:37:33

If you're able to glue this handle, both sides and the end,

0:37:330:37:38

and then I'll pop that in.

0:37:380:37:40

I'll let you fit it, though, OK?

0:37:400:37:41

So...

0:37:410:37:43

How thick do you need it?

0:37:430:37:45

That is absolutely perfect.

0:37:450:37:47

Great. OK.

0:37:470:37:49

So when we put the handle in...

0:37:490:37:52

-And then...

-I'll get out of the way.

0:37:520:37:55

-Is that a good fit?

-It's a great fit.

0:37:580:38:01

With the handle attached,

0:38:010:38:03

the bat is left to set overnight

0:38:030:38:04

before the next stage of the process - shaping.

0:38:040:38:08

Ah, now, there's a lot of cricket bats in here.

0:38:080:38:11

Yes, absolutely.

0:38:110:38:13

So many, right.

0:38:130:38:15

OK, so, this is a draw knife...

0:38:150:38:17

-Yeah.

-So we're now going to take the top of the cane off here.

0:38:170:38:21

You're measuring those shavings so precisely.

0:38:230:38:26

How many cricket bats do you think you've produced

0:38:260:38:30

in the 36 years you've been doing this?

0:38:300:38:32

-Oh, tens of thousands.

-Yeah.

0:38:320:38:34

If you draw this towards you,

0:38:340:38:37

and then just take a small shaving...

0:38:370:38:39

-Yeah.

-That's it.

0:38:390:38:41

I'm being very, very careful here, aren't I?

0:38:410:38:44

I don't want to take too much off,

0:38:440:38:46

but I probably need to put a bit more pressure.

0:38:460:38:48

It's... A draw knife is such a difficult tool to use.

0:38:480:38:53

-But actually, you're going really well.

-How's that?

0:38:530:38:56

Almost there, but we do need to take a little bit more wood out.

0:38:560:38:59

Do you want me to take that last bit?

0:38:590:39:01

Go on, then. I don't want to ruin it.

0:39:010:39:04

I can feel I'm slightly holding back.

0:39:040:39:07

That's how it's meant to be done, look at that.

0:39:070:39:10

And then... We're just drawing the knife down in towards the toe.

0:39:100:39:15

Try and keep the bat looking...

0:39:150:39:17

as fluid lines as we possibly can.

0:39:170:39:20

And is there a signature to your cricket bats?

0:39:200:39:24

I think the amount of hand work that we do

0:39:240:39:27

is probably quite unusual now.

0:39:270:39:29

Just looking at the tools that you use, they haven't changed,

0:39:290:39:32

have they, in many a year?

0:39:320:39:34

Some of the tools here are going to be 100 years or more old.

0:39:340:39:37

Andrew then uses a plane to take more weight

0:39:370:39:40

from the back of the bat.

0:39:400:39:42

And how do you finish off the bat?

0:39:420:39:45

Well, at this stage, we will coarse-sand, fine-sand the bats,

0:39:450:39:50

they will be polished, we will put binding on the handles.

0:39:500:39:53

Once the labels go on, they look like this.

0:39:530:39:56

The finished article.

0:39:560:39:57

I've got to ask, where does Salix come from?

0:39:570:39:59

Is that the family name?

0:39:590:40:01

No, Salix is Latin for willow.

0:40:010:40:03

So basically if we translate the company, it's willow cricket bats.

0:40:030:40:07

Do you know what? I'll let you into a little secret,

0:40:070:40:10

this is the first time I've ever held a cricket bat.

0:40:100:40:13

-Have a go.

-About there?

0:40:130:40:16

Yes, absolutely.

0:40:160:40:17

And then nicely into line, playing nice and straight.

0:40:170:40:21

That feels really good, not too heavy either.

0:40:210:40:24

-Great.

-Anyone for cricket?

0:40:240:40:26

So that's it.

0:40:310:40:33

We've shown Carl and Debbie our three houses

0:40:330:40:36

and the good news is they are still standing.

0:40:360:40:39

But are the gloves still on,

0:40:390:40:41

or have they managed to make a joint decision?

0:40:410:40:44

Let's go and find out.

0:40:440:40:46

When we first met the two of you,

0:40:510:40:53

you said that you really don't agree on anything,

0:40:530:40:56

apart from the fact you wanted a new home

0:40:560:40:58

with five bedrooms for your family.

0:40:580:41:01

Have we managed to find you that home?

0:41:010:41:05

Absolutely. I like the way the first house,

0:41:050:41:07

you teased me a little bit with the beams and the character.

0:41:070:41:10

And then the second property was ideally for Debbie,

0:41:100:41:13

which I did warm towards.

0:41:130:41:14

And then the Mystery House had it all.

0:41:140:41:17

From the outside, I was still questioning,

0:41:170:41:19

but once we got inside, it was amazing. That modern twist to it.

0:41:190:41:24

Yeah, I didn't think about the second house after that.

0:41:240:41:27

Yeah, the third house all the way.

0:41:270:41:29

They say you know when you step through a door.

0:41:290:41:31

Is that how you felt?

0:41:310:41:33

-It felt like home?

-Absolutely.

0:41:330:41:34

Yeah. It was a really nice feeling to the house, I thought.

0:41:340:41:37

Yeah, as you stepped in, you turned to that kitchen, that was...

0:41:370:41:40

-The sight of it, wasn't it?

-Yeah.

-Just the kitchen.

-Yeah.

0:41:400:41:43

So that leads me on to, what happens next?

0:41:430:41:46

First thing we need to do is get the children down there,

0:41:460:41:48

let them look at it, they've got a decision in there as well,

0:41:480:41:51

it's not just us two.

0:41:510:41:53

If they give us the green light, then an offer will be put in.

0:41:530:41:55

-And you're joint in that decision?

-Yes, we are. One thing we agree on.

0:41:550:41:59

Yeah, the gloves are off, we're happy.

0:41:590:42:01

-Have you surprised yourselves?

-Yes.

-Agreeing?

-Yes.

0:42:010:42:03

We have had such a great time showing you around

0:42:030:42:06

this beautiful part of Kent.

0:42:060:42:08

All the best for the future.

0:42:080:42:09

Thank you. Nicki, thank you for taking us to the houses

0:42:090:42:12

-and finding our dream house.

-Yeah, it's been great.

0:42:120:42:15

At the beginning of this house-hunt with Carl and Debbie,

0:42:180:42:22

I was worried about...

0:42:220:42:23

Well, all sorts of things.

0:42:230:42:25

Would we find them a home with everything that they wanted,

0:42:250:42:29

that they could agree on, for their budget?

0:42:290:42:32

So as you can imagine,

0:42:320:42:33

I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself

0:42:330:42:35

because I truly believe we've done that

0:42:350:42:38

in this gorgeous county that I'm proud to call home.

0:42:380:42:43

Debbie and Carl have returned to the Mystery House

0:42:430:42:47

and their children have given enthusiastic approval.

0:42:470:42:50

Once their Bromley house is sold,

0:42:500:42:52

they're hoping it will soon become their new rural home.

0:42:520:42:55

We wish them luck.

0:42:550:42:58

If you would like to Escape To The Country

0:42:580:43:00

in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

0:43:000:43:03

and would like our help, you can apply online at...

0:43:030:43:06

Nicki Chapman is on a house-hunting mission in the Kent countryside with a strong-minded couple who have a £900,000 budget and completely different views on the style of the large family home they want to buy.

While in the county, Nicki gains an insight into Kent's cricketing heritage by seeing the impressive craftsmanship involved in producing handmade cricket bats.


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