Norfolk Escape to the Country


Norfolk

Sonali Shah is house-hunting in the Norfolk countryside with a couple who want their £440,000 budget to buy them a character country property close to the Broads.


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Transcript


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530 years ago, the King and Queen of England

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crossed the moat of this magnificent

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Tudor mansion to stay with its owners.

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The family that welcomed them then still live here today.

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Find out where I am, in just a moment.

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It's a nautical passion drawing today's house-buyers from a busy life in a

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town towards a stunning pocket of rural England,

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and we do well to fulfil the property shopping list.

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So if I've got you the double garage and the log burner,

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-you're moving in, right?

-Almost.

-You're not doing bad!

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And the smiles continue as things get better and better.

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This is the kitchen we imagined.

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-You wouldn't want to do anything to it, would you?

-When can we move in?

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Today, we're in Norfolk, and this is the impressive Oxburgh Hall.

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Although it's now managed by the National Trust,

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the Bedingfeld family have lived here for some 600 years.

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Now, back in Tudor times, brick was an expensive option,

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so this was a clear sign of their status within the royal circle.

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In fact, the family became guardians of the exiled Catherine of Aragon

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and then to the future Elizabeth I.

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Royal connections aside, there are plenty of other rural gems

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to celebrate here in this historic county.

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Norfolk sits to the east of England, sharing a border with the North Sea.

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Known for its expansive, flat landscapes,

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huge skies and majestic windmills,

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the county's footprint is mainly agricultural,

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with crops such as wheat and sugar beet a familiar sight.

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The architectural mark of the region is its many striking buildings and

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cottages built from brick and local Norfolk flint.

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These include those proudly on display in many towns and villages,

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such as the Georgian market town of Holt in the north-east of the county

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or the coastal village of Blakeney in the north,

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which is a protected environment renowned for its wildlife and beauty.

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The Blakeney National Nature Reserve is one of the largest areas of

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undeveloped coastal habitat of its type in Europe.

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Inland, the scenic Norfolk Broads is a network of man-made rivers and

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lakes, featuring more than 125 miles of navigable waterways,

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which are home to a quarter of the UK's rarest species.

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So whether just visiting Norfolk, like 30 million tourists a year,

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or choosing it as a place to lay down roots,

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the county offers not only architectural delights

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but outstanding natural beauty, too.

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At £294,000,

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the average cost of a detached home here in Norfolk is around £30,000

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less than the national figure, which is pretty good value for money.

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But in the last year alone, property prices here have soared by 10%,

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largely fuelled by second-home-owners and retirees.

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In fact, it's estimated a tenth of all property on the county's north

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coast are used as holiday homes.

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Now, today's buyers want to make this county their permanent home,

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so they have everyday access to those scenic attractions that draw

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scores of visitors every year.

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Paths first crossed for company director Paul and his

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administrator wife Victoria six years ago.

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They met when she became the office manager at the security company Paul

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-used to work for.

-We got on really well, good friends,

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had a really good relationship at work.

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It just sort of went from there, didn't it?

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Within a month, you'd moved in with me.

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-I moved in, yeah.

-Within six months, we'd bought this house.

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-Bought a house.

-Before that, we got engaged.

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-Engaged.

-And then, just after a year of being together, we got married.

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Six months later, we got married.

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The pair live in Rayleigh in Essex,

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but after visiting friends in the Norfolk countryside three years ago,

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they've had their eyes opened to a different way of life.

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Our friends, they've got a boat on the Broads.

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They kept asking us, "Come down, come and see the boat,"

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and neither of us were really sure.

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We went down there, absolutely loved it.

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We left that weekend, sort of come away and it was,

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"Right, when are we getting a boat?"

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So after falling in love with all Norfolk has to offer,

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Victoria and Paul are looking forward to laying down roots in the county.

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Why put it off? You know, we both sort of looked at each other and said,

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"Shall we? Yeah, OK."

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-"Let's do it."

-"Let's do it." And that was it!

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The couple will continue to work in their current jobs and don't want

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more than a two-hour commute,

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but they're pretty flexible on where in Norfolk they live.

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I think it's the house that will dictate where we end up.

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It's not a specific area as such, other than being Norfolk.

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If it could be within an hour or so of the Norfolk Broads,

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where we've got the boat, that'd be great.

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And when they've found their dream home,

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the boat lovers are also looking forward to indulging in some other

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pursuits on dry land.

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Just got too many hobbies and not enough time at the moment.

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Motorcycling, just got back into that again after a brief period off,

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so we've got some nice, lovely rides, sort of Norfolk area, some open fields,

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some nice country lanes, some nice places to go and visit,

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-so that would be great.

-I do sewing. Actual machine sewing.

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And then cross stitching as well. And some bits of knitting.

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I'd like to carry that on

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and probably do a lot more of that, I'd like to think, having more time.

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So, with their house on the market and their boat waiting for them on

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the Broads, Paul and Victoria are ready to begin the search for their

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next big purchase. And it should be a pleasurable experience,

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as shopping is one of their favourite hobbies.

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We're extremely impulsive buyers. We're very good at that.

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We'll go out to look at something and have no intention of buying or

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spending any money, see something, think, "We want that,

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-"let's buy it. Shall we buy it? Yeah, let's buy it."

-We bought several cars like that.

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-Yeah, cars, boats...

-And a few boats.

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Yeah, you never know, maybe houses as well, but...

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Victoria and Paul would like to live within an hour's drive of their

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boat on the Broads and are willing to take on a two-hour commute to their jobs

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in Essex and Kent, so we've taken that into account in our search.

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And before we embark on our tour of Norfolk,

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we're catching up to go over exactly what they're looking for

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in their new home.

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Well, Paul and Victoria, I'd say

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this is a beautiful day for house-hunting

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in Norfolk. And I hear this is all about a boat.

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-Mainly!

-It is, yeah.

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Yeah, we bought a boat a couple of years ago, started coming up here,

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fell in love with the area and decided it's where we wanted to move

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-to, really.

-Let's talk about the house itself.

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-OK.

-Double garage!

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Yeah, that's the most important thing for him.

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Or room to build and budget to build one.

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Yeah, minimum of three bedrooms, with a study, or four bedrooms,

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to use as the study. I'd like a kitchen/diner, open-plan.

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-Mmm.

-And quite a lot of nice, open living space.

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-Yeah.

-Log burner.

-We'd love a log burner.

-We'd really like a log burner.

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-Very country and rural, isn't it?

-Yeah.

-We like the idea of that.

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Yeah. Nice enough garden for the dog.

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Apart from that, I think we're quite easy!

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Is there anything you won't compromise on?

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-I need to know these things.

-Oh, yes.

-Yes!

-Don't want a thatched roof,

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-because they scare the life out of me.

-OK.

-Grade II listed.

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-Grade II listed. And loads...

-You DON'T want Grade II listed?

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-No.

-OK.

-No.

-Don't want a house that needs total renovation.

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We want something that we can pretty much move into,

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with a little bit of decorating.

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And low ceilings. I don't want to walk around like that all the time.

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-And not near a main road.

-No.

-And remind me of your budget.

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The top end of our budget is about 440,000.

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-OK.

-If that's the right location, the right house, that's the top.

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So anything, really, up to that.

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Fantastic. Well, we have some lovely properties to show you, so,

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if you're ready, it's going to be a busy couple of days. Let's go.

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For their budget of £440,000, Victoria and Paul would like

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a detached property with a kitchen/diner,

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open-plan living and a log burner.

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They want three bedrooms and a separate study,

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a pleasant, manageable garden that's suitable for dog Maxi

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and a double garage for Paul.

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Location-wise, they'd be happy in a rural setting

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but need to be able to get to their boat and their jobs.

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We've assembled a wonderful assortment of properties to present

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to Victoria and Paul, and after they've completed a tour of each,

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I'll reveal its price.

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The final visit to the Mystery House is bound to turn things on their

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head but could provide just the ticket to country living.

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What's great about your move is that you're not waiting until you're

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retiring to live this kind of life that you want to live.

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I think the problem is you can...

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..keep putting it off, you can keep going, wait until we're older...

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..until we stop working.

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No, let's do it now, let's, you know,

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try and bring a bit of tranquillity into the mayhem, as it were, now,

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and then it's the beginning.

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We're travelling to the village of Cranworth in Mid Norfolk.

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Ten minutes away is the larger village of Hingham,

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once the property of William the Conqueror.

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It's said that a fire destroyed many

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of the town's buildings in the 18th century,

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which led to the construction of many of the handsome Georgian houses

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on display today. A journey of just over three miles takes us to this

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attractive character cottage.

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We are an hour from your boat here...

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-OK.

-..under a couple of hours back to Essex.

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-Good, good.

-Paul, you are taken care of, because the house comes with...

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-..a double garage!

-Yes, it does!

-So you're happy.

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Yeah, that looks good. That's a good start.

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What do you think of the cottage itself?

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-I like it.

-Yeah. Looks good so far.

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I like the windows - sounds funny, but... It's got character.

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-Yeah, it's got character, yeah.

-Shall we go inside and see if you like the

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-inside?

-Yeah!

-Yeah.

-Look forward to that.

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This rendered detached cottage is built from brick and flint and dates

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back to 1890,

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and the welcome double garage has a former life as a blacksmith's.

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As we're about to see, the home has been beautifully decorated throughout.

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We're heading in through the front door,

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which takes us via the porch to the main body of the house,

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where we're beginning our tour.

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If I bring you into the sitting room first...

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..because of what you've just seen! VICTORIA LAUGHS

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-Log burner!

-A log burner.

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Nice. It's not a bad size, is it?

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-I like the size.

-So, if I've got you the double garage and the log burner,

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-I mean, you're moving in, right?

-Almost.

-You're not doing bad!

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-I like it.

-Yeah, it's quite nice. I like it, actually.

-Yeah.

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Still keeps the sort of little bit of the country...

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-Yeah.

-..but modern as well.

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So you can imagine sitting here, relaxing?

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-Yeah.

-Yeah. Log burner on. Little nap on the settee, perfect.

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The smiles are getting wider. I'm liking this!

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OK, let's see what happens next. Follow me.

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So, it's not the kitchen/diner that you wanted,

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but it's a very modern country kitchen,

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which leads straight through to a summer room.

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Nice. Yeah, it is nice. Yeah, I like that.

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So, you've got two sitting/living areas, really.

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-Yeah.

-Which would sort of compensate for not being the kitchen/diner.

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You've still got the social bit with the dining room.

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-But you've got beautiful views from here.

-Not overlooked at all.

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-No.

-And you can keep an eye on Paul in the garage!

-That's very true.

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THEY LAUGH

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I can sit there and look out at you.

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We could move straight in, put furniture in.

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We wouldn't have to do any work!

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-No.

-It's getting better all the time!

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You've also got a shower room downstairs.

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-Oh, OK!

-OK.

-Shall we head on upstairs?

-Shall we?

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On the first floor of this charming cottage, a pretty family bathroom,

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complete with roll-top bath, serves three bedrooms.

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There's a beautifully bright double overlooking the front of the house,

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with a smaller room at the back.

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And we're headed to the largest of the three,

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a dual-aspect double which I've earmarked for Victoria and Paul.

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-It's quite a nice-sized room.

-Yeah. I like it.

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-Very light.

-Yeah, it's not bad. I'm not sure it's big enough, but, yeah...

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-Do you have a super-king?

-Yes, we do, yeah.

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Just going to make the room slightly smaller.

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-But it is a nice-sized room.

-Yes.

-Is it somewhere you could live?

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-I think so.

-Yeah, I think it's ticking a lot of the boxes.

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-Yeah.

-I sense hesitation, though.

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-Not sure it ticks them all.

-No, not quite.

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I haven't seen anywhere for your office yet.

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-But overall, I think it's a lovely house.

-Yeah, no, it is. Yeah.

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OK. Shall we head back outside and talk about the price?

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-Yeah, lovely.

-Lead the way.

-Thank you.

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The gardens are set to the front and side of the property.

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There's a well-kept lawn, a patio, a pond with a water feature

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and a wood store, and it's all surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.

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-The possibility of doing something outside...

-Mmm.

-Same as a study,

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may be able to extend above the garage and put that there, possibly.

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-You've also got this wood store, so...

-Yeah, convert those, so...

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-Possibilities.

-Well, let's see how much of a possibility it might be.

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How much do you think this cottage is on the market for?

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I think about 395.

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-That's my guess.

-I'd like to hope maybe it's a little bit less,

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so that then there's the options for us to do things, so I'll go 390.

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I love that look!

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You're both a little off.

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But Paul is a little closer.

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It's on the market for £425,000.

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-OK.

-Do you want to have a good look around, with the price in mind?

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-And then I'll be out here when you're ready.

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OK. Lovely, thank you.

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This well-maintained 19th-century cottage has come in £15,000 under

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budget. It's got that all-important log burner and a fabulous

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summer room-cum-dining room offering additional living space.

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It has three bedrooms, and outside there's a private,

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manageable garden with a double garage for Paul.

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Amenities are just a short drive away.

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First impressions, really liked it, nice from outside.

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Nice little garden. The best part, I think,

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really, is probably the kitchen through to the summer room, and the lounge

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is really nice. It flows really well.

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The first impressions of the house, loved it.

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The windows, a lovely feature.

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It was just walking in, a real country feel, and obviously

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the log burner just really finished it

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off. Still having the modern features, having the best of both worlds, really.

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The upstairs is not quite big enough and we've got no study or

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spare room, which I would need as an office, so that's the biggest downside

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with this property, but really nice other than that.

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-All done?

-Yes, I think so.

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-Lovely.

-And the good news is we've got plenty more to see.

-Perfect.

-Great.

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The stunning Broads that Norfolk is famous for have earned the moniker

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the Venice of the East.

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Surprisingly, there are actually more miles of waterway here than those

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that ebb and flow around the Italian city.

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Experiencing more of the Broads is the major pull for Victoria and

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Paul's move to the area. We've arranged for them to visit Norfolk's largest lake,

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Hickling Broad, to learn about the ongoing conservation project here.

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They're meeting Andrea Kelly, senior ecologist of the Broads Authority.

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So, the Broads, they're a wetland, and over the years,

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that wetland has deteriorated in terms of the water quality in particular,

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and it's really important that we restore the quality of the water so

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it's benefiting wildlife and it's benefiting people.

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What's changed in the water quality in the Broads?

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Well, what it was like about 50 or 60 years ago is

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we had clear water and we had lots and lots of water plants, and that

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attracted a huge amount of wildlife, and over the years,

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gradually we've had waste water go in, and all that extra nutrient that's

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come has resulted in algae causing very green water, shading out the

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water plants, and the water plants are the foundation of the ecosystem.

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Andrea and her team members,

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along with other organisations, including the Wildlife Trust,

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are working hard to clean up the Broads.

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Doing things like removing sediment.

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We remove equivalent to the Wembley Stadium of sediment per year.

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Also looking at the amount of water that we have,

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working with people to conserve water.

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Reducing home use of water benefits the environment.

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The Broads attract an abundance of wildlife.

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Around 230 nationally important invertebrates or minibeasts can be

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found here. These include Britain's largest butterfly, the swallowtail,

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and the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly.

0:17:540:17:57

There are also eight species of fish that swim in the waters, including

0:17:570:18:01

the European eel. Some of Andrea's team members are on the water,

0:18:010:18:05

raking the bed of the lake.

0:18:050:18:07

They're collecting water samples and plants.

0:18:070:18:10

Well, this is a particularly common plant.

0:18:100:18:13

We were hoping to find some of the rare plants, but where they were

0:18:130:18:17

water sampling they just didn't happen to find a patch of those rare plants.

0:18:170:18:22

So, this is called spiked water milfoil.

0:18:220:18:26

Have a little bit of it. It's quite characteristic,

0:18:260:18:29

it's got stems and then whirls that come out at points on the stem.

0:18:290:18:33

How long can this grow up to?

0:18:330:18:35

Well, it can grow almost to the surface here in Hickling Broad. So, Hickling

0:18:350:18:39

is a shallow broad.

0:18:390:18:41

It grows at the bottom and towers up through the water, and it's great to

0:18:410:18:45

see them. They're great food for wildfowl.

0:18:450:18:48

This spiked water milfoil is an important water plant.

0:18:490:18:53

Conservationists want to rid the water of algae so that such plants,

0:18:530:18:57

which, crucially, provide food for wildlife, are able to flourish.

0:18:570:19:01

So, what changes have you noticed?

0:19:010:19:03

There's been a real improvement in water quality, and with that water

0:19:030:19:08

quality improvement, we're seeing more of these plants,

0:19:080:19:10

which is great news for our wildlife.

0:19:100:19:13

I think we're seeing a general recovery.

0:19:130:19:15

There's still more to do, but it's a good-news story.

0:19:150:19:19

What can the everyday visitor do to protect the Broads?

0:19:190:19:21

We've got a boat, so what can we do to help?

0:19:210:19:24

I think something really easy for people to do is to join the local

0:19:240:19:28

Wildlife Trust,

0:19:280:19:29

just to give some support to people who are managing the areas.

0:19:290:19:32

Also, if you have got a boat,

0:19:320:19:35

you've got to recognise that some of your waste water from the sinks and

0:19:350:19:39

so on flushes straight out,

0:19:390:19:41

so look for phosphate-free detergents and chemicals that you use that are

0:19:410:19:46

environmentally friendly.

0:19:460:19:48

-That can help.

-Armed with some valuable knowledge for their next

0:19:480:19:52

boat trip, it's time for Victoria and Paul to get back to their house-hunt.

0:19:520:19:55

We're on our way to Necton, towards the west of the county.

0:19:590:20:03

The village is home to many buildings built from brick and local flint

0:20:040:20:08

and has a friendly community feel.

0:20:080:20:11

There's a welcoming pub and a handful of shops.

0:20:110:20:13

The beautiful All Saints Church in the centre of the village is

0:20:130:20:17

Grade I listed, with one wall dating back as far as Norman times.

0:20:170:20:22

Just over an hour away from the pretty village is Victoria and Paul's boat,

0:20:220:20:26

and it's less than two hours back to Essex.

0:20:260:20:28

A mile from the centre of the village,

0:20:300:20:31

we find this impressive former 18th-century chapel.

0:20:310:20:36

-Wow!

-Nice.

0:20:360:20:38

-Wasn't expecting that.

-No!

0:20:380:20:40

No, that's very country-style, isn't it, with the shutters?

0:20:400:20:44

-Very different, yeah.

-A big driveway for all your vehicles.

-Yep.

0:20:440:20:48

VICTORIA CHUCKLES And you've got a long...

0:20:480:20:50

-..driveway up there as well.

-Yeah, I saw that. Leading to a garage?

0:20:510:20:55

No, not yet.

0:20:550:20:57

-Right.

-It looks quite grand, doesn't it?

-It looks a bit posh!

0:20:570:21:01

No, it's really nice.

0:21:030:21:04

-I want to get inside.

-Let's get inside, then.

0:21:040:21:06

This striking property has had more than one former life.

0:21:090:21:13

Originally built from brick and flint in 1785,

0:21:130:21:17

it became a family home 14 years ago, but before that,

0:21:170:21:21

it's been used as a chapel, a school and a barn.

0:21:210:21:24

The front door takes us into a beautiful entrance hall, where you can just

0:21:250:21:29

imagine the home in its former guise as a place of worship.

0:21:290:21:32

That is superb. Walk in, that's superb.

0:21:340:21:37

-He looks happier.

-No, I really like that.

0:21:370:21:41

It is a wow factor when you walk in.

0:21:410:21:43

A big box ticked.

0:21:430:21:46

-Let's see more.

-Let's go and see if there's a kitchen/diner for you!

0:21:460:21:49

-It's the kitchen/diner!

-It's the kitchen/diner.

0:21:550:21:58

It's lovely. The country-style.

0:21:580:22:00

-Perfection.

-Yeah.

-This is what you had in mind.

0:22:000:22:02

-Exactly what we had in mind, yeah.

-This is it.

0:22:020:22:04

-You wouldn't want to do anything to it, would you?

-When can we move in?

0:22:040:22:07

It's lovely, isn't it? This is the kitchen we imagined.

0:22:090:22:12

I haven't seen you smile this wide, Paul.

0:22:120:22:14

-Yeah, I know.

-Let's go and see more, then. Follow me.

0:22:140:22:18

Back across the stunning hallway is the dual-aspect sitting room.

0:22:190:22:23

-Nice. And with a log burner again.

-Yeah, I like that.

0:22:240:22:27

So, that is a gas burner.

0:22:270:22:29

-OK.

-But, of course, you can just get a log burner put in.

0:22:290:22:33

And this connects nicely to the sun room.

0:22:330:22:37

Brilliant. That's really nice.

0:22:370:22:40

Yeah, it is, yeah, really nice.

0:22:400:22:42

And on top of all of that, there's an office downstairs.

0:22:420:22:46

-Brilliant, now you're talking.

-We just passed it in the hallway.

0:22:460:22:49

-That's superb, that is.

-So, you like the downstairs?

0:22:490:22:52

-Yes.

-So far.

-Let's go see if upstairs suits.

0:22:520:22:55

The sweeping staircase leads to a galleried landing on the first floor. And...

0:22:590:23:06

-And

-..a sewing nook.

-I was just about to say that.

-Oh, look at that!

0:23:060:23:10

-Unbelievable!

-Oh, it's brilliant.

0:23:110:23:13

I could think of worse views to do sewing to.

0:23:130:23:16

It would be perfect. And, no, you're not having it for your office!

0:23:160:23:19

It would make a nice view, sat there looking out there.

0:23:190:23:21

-It would be a lovely office.

-It would, it would.

0:23:210:23:24

I'll let you fight it out.

0:23:240:23:25

Also on this floor is a smart family bathroom and two good-sized double

0:23:270:23:32

bedrooms, along with a smaller room in use as a study.

0:23:320:23:35

That just leaves the bright and spacious master, which might just

0:23:370:23:41

accommodate Victoria and Paul's super-sized bed.

0:23:410:23:44

I really like the exposed brickwork. Two nice windows, a lovely view.

0:23:450:23:49

We could squeeze our bed in somehow, do you think?

0:23:490:23:51

-Yeah.

-I think this is big enough for your super-king.

0:23:510:23:54

-Definitely.

-And the fourth bedroom could just become a dressing room.

0:23:540:23:57

-Nice idea!

-Really nice...

-I like it.

0:23:580:24:02

-..to wake up to them views.

-Nice space. I really like it.

0:24:020:24:04

And there's an en-suite bathroom.

0:24:040:24:06

-Oh, even better.

-Right, let's go back outside,

0:24:060:24:09

see if there's enough space for your garage

0:24:090:24:11

-and work out how much this house is going to cost you.

-Ohhh...!

0:24:110:24:15

The garden here extends to around a third of an acre.

0:24:180:24:22

It's extremely well-kept and divided by manicured hedges into various

0:24:220:24:26

areas from which to drink in the views.

0:24:260:24:29

There's a garden shed, too, and only one thing that's missing.

0:24:290:24:33

It's lovely. Really nice.

0:24:350:24:37

It ticks every box but one at the moment.

0:24:370:24:40

Other than the garage, it's ticking them all. A small, manageable garden...

0:24:400:24:44

Yeah, everything about it, nice. Drive, space, it's got it all.

0:24:440:24:48

But even with the garage,

0:24:480:24:50

you could move in and store your motorbike in the shed.

0:24:500:24:53

-Yeah, there is some storage.

-There's so much space for the cars.

0:24:530:24:57

Yeah, that's true.

0:24:570:24:59

How much are you going to have to spend to live here?

0:24:590:25:02

And I feel like in your heads you've moved in already.

0:25:020:25:05

I reckon it's got to be at the top end of our budget, 440.

0:25:050:25:10

I possibly think more. 445.

0:25:110:25:14

But I'd like to hope that you're going to surprise us and be nice!

0:25:150:25:18

It's on the market for £450,000.

0:25:210:25:25

And apart from the garage, it really does have everything.

0:25:260:25:30

-It does, yeah.

-I think, have a good look around,

0:25:300:25:34

-discuss it between you two, have a think.

-Yes, perfect.

-Will do.

0:25:340:25:38

-And I'll come and find you. Or you come and find me!

-Lovely, thank you.

0:25:380:25:42

This 18th-century restored chapel has a prize tag £10,000 above

0:25:460:25:50

budget but it offers Victoria

0:25:500:25:52

and Paul just about everything they want.

0:25:520:25:55

It has a spacious kitchen/diner and a study.

0:25:550:25:58

There are four bedrooms and a well-looked-after large garden.

0:25:590:26:03

Location-wise, it's in a rural

0:26:030:26:04

position but not too far from amenities.

0:26:040:26:07

First walking up, it was just amazing.

0:26:080:26:11

It was just really full of character.

0:26:110:26:14

It wasn't a square, it was all the shaping of it and everything.

0:26:140:26:18

And then the entrance really representing the old chapel,

0:26:180:26:21

-it was lovely.

-Yeah, loved it. Really good kerb appeal for me.

0:26:210:26:25

A bit different, a bit of character. Really nice, yeah.

0:26:250:26:29

The house has got some great features.

0:26:290:26:31

Really nice. I really like it.

0:26:310:26:33

I think we definitely could live here.

0:26:330:26:35

It just has everything that we want within a house and so much more.

0:26:350:26:40

Beaming smiles all round.

0:26:420:26:44

-Yes.

-A great house, yeah, I could see us living there. Yeah.

0:26:440:26:48

Really? I love ending the day on a high!

0:26:480:26:51

It's the second day of our trip around Norfolk on the hunt for a

0:27:040:27:08

country home for Victoria and Paul from Rayleigh in Essex.

0:27:080:27:11

They've got a budget of £440,000 to find a home that will allow them to

0:27:110:27:16

spend more time on their beloved boat, which is moored on the

0:27:160:27:20

county's beautiful Broads.

0:27:200:27:22

Still to come, things could go topsy-turvy when we reveal our Mystery House.

0:27:220:27:26

You wouldn't necessarily ever think of doing that.

0:27:260:27:30

-No.

-But now that it's there, doesn't it look beautiful?

0:27:300:27:34

The mystery has done its job, really.

0:27:340:27:35

And I'll be learning how bovine waste can create energy used to make

0:27:350:27:40

one of my favourite delicacies.

0:27:400:27:42

So it's put back into the system,

0:27:420:27:44

-so everything goes full circle here on this farm?

-Yes.

0:27:440:27:47

It's day two of our property search and time to reveal our final home.

0:27:480:27:53

It does offer Paul and Victoria a style they're familiar with, but it's the

0:27:530:27:57

Mystery Property, so we're flipping things around.

0:27:570:27:59

Our last stop, to the Mystery House, takes us to Geldeston near Norfolk's

0:28:010:28:05

border with Suffolk. Villagers can enjoy the delicacies available in

0:28:050:28:09

the local farm shop or sample the food and refreshments on offer in

0:28:090:28:14

the nearby pub, which is close to pleasant country walks.

0:28:140:28:18

The rural setting also boasts the pretty River Waveney,

0:28:180:28:21

which can be appreciated in all its glory by taking a boat trip along

0:28:210:28:25

the waters. In the heart of the village is where we find our final offering.

0:28:250:28:31

-Welcome to the Mystery House.

-It's quite big.

-It does look big.

0:28:310:28:35

-It's different to what we've seen, that's for sure.

-Completely different.

-Yeah.

0:28:350:28:38

-It's nice, though.

-A nice shape?

-Yeah.

-Can you guess the mystery?

0:28:380:28:42

-That is a mystery I can't see.

-The mystery can only be seen from inside.

0:28:420:28:48

-Ooh!

-And I'll give you a clue, it's something to do with layout.

0:28:480:28:52

-Follow me.

-Intrigued.

0:28:520:28:54

This redbrick house was built in the '80s and had a makeover just a few

0:28:560:29:00

years ago. And the mystery will reveal itself as soon as we enter and head

0:29:000:29:05

straight UPSTAIRS to the kitchen and family room.

0:29:050:29:09

-Ooh!

-VICTORIA LAUGHS

0:29:120:29:14

Ah! Upside down!

0:29:140:29:15

Upside down. I've brought you upstairs because it's an upside-down house.

0:29:150:29:20

Not looked at an upside-down house at all.

0:29:200:29:22

-No.

-The reason they've done this is because of the views. And you've got

0:29:220:29:26

-balconies - a balcony here and in the sitting room.

-Oh, right.

0:29:260:29:29

So obviously you can see a very open living space.

0:29:290:29:32

-Yes.

-But there's also a separate dining room.

-I do love this idea.

0:29:320:29:36

I think it just brings a different quirkiness to it. I like it.

0:29:360:29:41

Fortunately, Victoria and Paul don't seem to be fazed by this alternative

0:29:410:29:45

house arrangement.

0:29:450:29:47

As well as the open-plan elements,

0:29:470:29:48

it has a beautiful separate sitting room, which runs from the front to

0:29:480:29:53

the back of the house, with rural views from both ends.

0:29:530:29:56

The sitting room also has a log burner as well as the dining room,

0:29:560:30:00

so, actually, you have your choice of where to have your sitting room.

0:30:000:30:04

This is quite a nice sitting room, actually.

0:30:040:30:07

It's a comfortable-feeling room.

0:30:070:30:09

-Cosy.

-Yeah, I think it's better than cosy.

0:30:100:30:13

It's bigger than cosy, isn't it?

0:30:130:30:15

It's cosy but actually still light and airy.

0:30:150:30:17

You have that beautiful little nook, so I was thinking about your sewing.

0:30:170:30:21

-Nice light for that.

-Draw the curtains behind you and not know you're there!

0:30:210:30:24

Could you see yourself in a place like this?

0:30:240:30:27

-Oh, definitely.

-Definitely, with what we've seen.

0:30:270:30:31

-I like the open-plan flow.

-Yeah.

0:30:310:30:33

Yeah. Looking good. It's more modern but it doesn't feel it.

0:30:330:30:36

Well, I'm glad you like the living space.

0:30:360:30:39

Now time to head downstairs to the bedrooms.

0:30:390:30:42

Moving down to the ground floor of our upside-down Mystery House,

0:30:450:30:49

the rooms all fan off from a central hallway.

0:30:490:30:51

There's a well-equipped utility room and a smart family bathroom for two

0:30:520:30:56

of the three bedrooms.

0:30:560:30:59

There are two snug doubles, and we're going to the largest of the three.

0:30:590:31:02

-The master.

-Ooh!

-It's quite big.

-I wasn't quite expecting that.

0:31:040:31:08

-And you've got a lovely garden room.

-Off the bedroom!

0:31:080:31:11

-Off the bedroom.

-Really strange, but it makes it a really big space.

0:31:110:31:14

-Doesn't it?

-You wouldn't necessarily ever think of doing that.

0:31:140:31:18

-No.

-But now that it's there, doesn't it look beautiful?

0:31:180:31:23

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-You can bring me tea in the morning.

-Lets so much light in.

0:31:230:31:26

Well, exactly, you've got your own breakfast room there.

0:31:260:31:29

-And there's an en-suite bathroom.

-Oh, lovely.

-Even better.

-Yeah!

0:31:290:31:33

-It's all looking good.

-Really like it.

0:31:330:31:35

The mystery has done its job, really.

0:31:350:31:37

-Well, shall we go through the garden room into the garden?

-Perfect.

0:31:370:31:41

The landscaped gardens surround the house and are mainly laid to lawn

0:31:450:31:49

front and back, bordered by pretty flowerbeds, shrubs and trees.

0:31:490:31:54

There's a terrace, a shed and an integrated double garage.

0:31:540:31:58

-Yeah, lovely garden.

-It is really nice.

0:32:010:32:02

-Pretty. Very pretty.

-And it goes all the way around, which is quite nice,

0:32:020:32:05

which is why you have those lovely views from all sides of the house.

0:32:050:32:09

Yeah, I think it's really a strong contender.

0:32:090:32:14

-Is it a strong contender, in your opinion?

-It could be, yes.

0:32:140:32:18

-Depending on the price.

-Depending on the price.

0:32:180:32:20

Well, we might as well discuss that.

0:32:200:32:23

I reckon it's on for about 440.

0:32:230:32:26

-OK. Bang on your top budget?

-Yeah.

0:32:260:32:30

I'm going to go for less...

0:32:300:32:32

..considerably. I'm hoping for about 410.

0:32:340:32:38

Well, because you keep hoping and guessing...

0:32:380:32:40

..Paul is right again.

0:32:410:32:43

The guide price says £440,000 to £460,000.

0:32:430:32:48

We've spoken to the vendors and they will accept £440,000.

0:32:480:32:53

-OK.

-Yeah.

-I think it's worth that all day long.

0:32:530:32:55

All the right things in all the right places.

0:32:550:32:57

Well, there's a lot of living space to see, so why don't you have another

0:32:570:33:00

-look around, with the price in mind, and come and find me?

-Will do.

-Thank you.

0:33:000:33:05

Our quirky upside-down Mystery House has rung in on the nose of the

0:33:080:33:12

top budget. It has a large kitchen-cum-family room,

0:33:120:33:16

two further reception rooms and three bedrooms,

0:33:160:33:19

including a master suite with an unexpected garden room.

0:33:190:33:22

This charming house also comes with an integrated double garage,

0:33:240:33:27

perfect for Paul.

0:33:270:33:29

Ah, that's it, a proper garage.

0:33:310:33:34

That'll do. See? Bench, car, bike, job done!

0:33:340:33:38

VICTORIA LAUGHS

0:33:380:33:40

I think it's really quirky.

0:33:400:33:42

When we first walked in, I thought, "Ooh, an upside-down house!"

0:33:420:33:45

It was really strange. We've not looked at one, not been in one.

0:33:450:33:48

But really liked it. Open-plan... It looked good, didn't it?

0:33:480:33:52

Yeah. And the views front and back really sort of made it different

0:33:520:33:56

and made it work upside down.

0:33:560:33:59

-What I like most is the way it flows.

-It does flow really well.

0:33:590:34:03

All the rooms seem connected, it's really open-plan living...

0:34:030:34:08

-..which... I think, my favourite bit.

-Yeah.

0:34:080:34:11

-So, upside-down living might be for you?

-It could be.

-Yeah, could be.

0:34:150:34:20

Well, the weather's not great, so let's go somewhere warm and grab a cup of tea.

0:34:200:34:23

The nation is always looking for ways to save on energy costs and

0:34:310:34:36

create affordable energy,

0:34:360:34:38

and on one pioneering dairy farm in Wighton, in the north of Norfolk,

0:34:380:34:42

renewable energy is being created from a variety of waste.

0:34:420:34:46

Energy is harnessed from food and cow manure using a machine called an

0:34:460:34:51

anaerobic digester.

0:34:510:34:53

The 500-acre farm is owned and run by Stephen Temple and his wife

0:34:530:34:58

Catherine. Their herd of brown Swiss cows produces not only waste but

0:34:580:35:03

award-winning dairy produce, too.

0:35:030:35:06

Stephen, thank you very much for having me on the farm today.

0:35:060:35:08

-You're very welcome.

-Tell me more about it.

-It's a family farm.

0:35:080:35:12

My great-grandfather started the business in 1912

0:35:120:35:17

and my grandfather and my father built it up from then on.

0:35:170:35:20

I ran away to Africa to work for 22 years and my father said, "Well,

0:35:200:35:25

"I'm getting older, can you come and help me?"

0:35:250:35:27

So I came back and did a little bit on the farm and we've been keeping

0:35:270:35:31

-the dairy herd going here ever since.

-The big difference with this farm

0:35:310:35:36

-is the digester.

-I originally got the interest in Africa.

0:35:360:35:39

I've had an interest in anaerobic digestion from the late '70s.

0:35:390:35:44

Anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down

0:35:450:35:49

biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen.

0:35:490:35:53

This creates a gas which can be used to produce what's essentially free energy.

0:35:530:35:59

It's a group of bugs that grow in a digester which are very similar to

0:35:590:36:03

-the bugs that grow in a cow's stomach.

-OK.

-So effectively,

0:36:030:36:06

an anaerobic digester is a giant cow's stomach on life support.

0:36:060:36:10

-OK!

-But in the digester,

0:36:100:36:12

another group of bugs called archaea then digest the fatty acids and turn

0:36:120:36:16

-them into methane.

-And with the digester, you use that methane,

0:36:160:36:20

-you turn that into energy?

-Yes, yes.

-Wow.

0:36:200:36:23

Well, it all sounds very clever and very scientific.

0:36:250:36:28

Stephen is going to let me get up close so I can see how it works for myself.

0:36:280:36:32

It holds about 720 tonnes of slurry.

0:36:340:36:38

-Wow.

-We put the cow manure into the big hopper behind you here...

0:36:380:36:44

..and that gets fed into the digester with liquid.

0:36:440:36:48

We also put maize silage, and in the winter, we put beet in there as well.

0:36:480:36:53

The cows get the choice pick of the maize and the lower-quality stuff

0:36:530:36:58

gets fed to the digester, which is not quite so fussy.

0:36:580:37:01

Around 2.5 tonnes of gas is produced a day,

0:37:010:37:04

which is passed into the big, spherical gas holder.

0:37:040:37:08

It's then sent to the generator to create electricity and heat.

0:37:080:37:12

How many other farms have a system like this?

0:37:140:37:16

When we started, there were very few.

0:37:160:37:19

Now there's getting on for about 250.

0:37:190:37:21

And so the energy, you sell some of the energy, the rest feeds the farm

0:37:210:37:27

-and heats the farm?

-Yes, and, of course, producing heat for making the cheese.

0:37:270:37:31

For making the cheese, another one of your exports.

0:37:310:37:34

-That's right.

-Like the electricity.

-Yes.

0:37:340:37:37

The farm churns out over 30 tonnes of celebrated cheese a year.

0:37:370:37:42

It's Stephen's wife Catherine

0:37:420:37:43

who's in charge of this area, and she has 16 years' experience.

0:37:430:37:48

Today, she's working on the Binham Blue.

0:37:480:37:50

-Hi, Catherine.

-Hi! Welcome to our cheese room.

0:37:510:37:54

-Thank you.

-Making cheese is quite a lengthy process. So, on day one

0:37:540:37:58

we turn the milk into cheese, and on day two

0:37:580:38:01

we put the salt on the cheese.

0:38:010:38:03

It looks like I'm putting rather a

0:38:030:38:05

lot on, but when we're making cheese,

0:38:050:38:08

we're essentially drying milk out to preserve it.

0:38:080:38:12

From every ten litres of milk,

0:38:120:38:14

we get one kilo of cheese and nine litres of whey,

0:38:140:38:19

which is actually quite a rich

0:38:190:38:22

substance with protein and sugar in it.

0:38:220:38:25

But it doesn't go to waste.

0:38:250:38:27

We send it down to the digester and it's a fuel for making electricity.

0:38:270:38:31

So it's put back into the system,

0:38:310:38:34

so everything goes full circle here on this farm?

0:38:340:38:36

Yes, well, we try to use our assets to our best advantage and to the

0:38:360:38:39

planet's best advantage.

0:38:390:38:41

When Catherine's finished salting the cheese,

0:38:420:38:45

it'll go into the store room for five weeks to grow blue veins and

0:38:450:38:49

develop its distinctive taste.

0:38:490:38:52

It's just one of seven varieties

0:38:520:38:54

of cheese made here, which is mainly sold locally.

0:38:540:38:58

So, this is all my favourite cheeses on a plate.

0:38:580:39:00

-Which would you like to try first?

-I'm a hard-cheese and a feta fan.

0:39:000:39:05

Our hard cheese is called Walsingham,

0:39:050:39:07

after a neighbouring pilgrim village.

0:39:070:39:10

-Mm!

-That one's a year old.

0:39:130:39:16

Cheddar is better the older it is.

0:39:160:39:18

But this one is just gorgeous with things like raspberries.

0:39:180:39:22

-Oh, really?

-Mm.

-See, I do feta and watermelon. That's a good tip.

0:39:220:39:26

Mm, lovely. Thank you so much, Catherine. I'm not going anywhere!

0:39:300:39:34

SONALI LAUGHS

0:39:340:39:35

We'll find some Norfolk apple juice to go with it.

0:39:350:39:38

It's been an inspiring visit to this farm, where a passionate focus on

0:39:390:39:43

sustainability has led to a successful,

0:39:430:39:46

efficient and environmentally friendly cheesemaking enterprise.

0:39:460:39:51

For now, it's time to put our energy into finding out if our house-hunt

0:39:510:39:55

has been a success.

0:39:550:39:57

Well, it seems Paul and Victoria are keen on two houses that are very

0:40:010:40:05

different in terms of age and style,

0:40:050:40:08

so which one will edge it? Time to find out.

0:40:080:40:10

I'd say it's been a successful week of house-hunting, because by my

0:40:180:40:22

reckoning there are two houses that pretty much fit the bill.

0:40:220:40:26

-Am I right?

-I think so.

-Yeah, that's about right, fair to say.

0:40:260:40:30

Let's talk about the chapel first. Do you still love it as much?

0:40:310:40:36

-Yeah.

-Yeah, without doubt.

-I think it's slightly above the Mystery.

0:40:360:40:41

-Is it?

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:40:410:40:43

But they are two very different houses, and I think that's half the

0:40:430:40:47

problem. For us,

0:40:470:40:48

I think it's possibly a case of going back and looking at them both again.

0:40:480:40:52

I sense you each have a favourite.

0:40:520:40:54

-Mine initially, probably after the viewings, was the Mystery.

-Mm.

0:40:550:41:00

-But coming away from it, I think I'm edging back towards the chapel.

-OK.

0:41:000:41:05

Mine's the chapel. It's nearly perfect, house-wise, for me.

0:41:060:41:11

-In terms of nothing to do once you move in?

-The layout's superb,

0:41:110:41:16

the space is superb and the wow factor when I walk in the door,

0:41:160:41:19

-no doubts with that one.

-Yeah, you seem very sure, don't you?

-Yeah, he is, isn't he?

0:41:190:41:25

I think there's a possibility after looking at it a second time we may

0:41:250:41:28

well then put an offer in.

0:41:280:41:29

Are you quite keen to move this forward quickly?

0:41:290:41:32

We're going to aim to come back within the next three or four days to look

0:41:320:41:35

at the chapel again and take it from there.

0:41:350:41:40

Well, I hope it works out, because you both seem really,

0:41:400:41:42

really keen on the chapel, in a kind of relaxed way.

0:41:420:41:48

I feel I want to urge you along a little bit!

0:41:480:41:50

I wish you luck, and I can't wait to hear that you've moved in.

0:41:500:41:54

-Yeah!

-Come for tea.

-You can come for tea, yeah.

0:41:540:41:57

I'll take the invite with both hands!

0:41:570:42:00

-But good luck. Honestly, and let me know.

-Thank you.

-Will do. Thank you.

0:42:000:42:02

Before our house-hunt here in Norfolk,

0:42:090:42:11

Paul and Victoria were fairly easy-going about location and style

0:42:110:42:15

of property, but they knew exactly which amenities they wanted from

0:42:150:42:19

their home, which is why I'm so pleased that two of our houses suited their needs.

0:42:190:42:23

It was lovely to see their faces light up as they walked around

0:42:230:42:28

the chapel. As Paul said, sometimes it's the house that picks you.

0:42:280:42:32

They looked very much at home there and I hope it becomes exactly that

0:42:320:42:36

for them. Thank you for joining us here in Norfolk.

0:42:360:42:39

See you next time on Escape To The Country.

0:42:390:42:41

Victoria and Paul were planning to put an offer in on the former chapel,

0:42:420:42:46

but, sadly for them,

0:42:460:42:47

another buyer pipped them at the post and had their offer accepted first.

0:42:470:42:52

Now their house-hunt continues, and

0:42:520:42:54

we wish them the very best of luck with their search.

0:42:540:42:57

If you'd like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland, Scotland,

0:42:570:43:01

Wales or England, and need our help, you can apply online...

0:43:010:43:05

Sonali Shah is house-hunting in the Norfolk countryside with a couple who want their £440,000 budget to buy them a character country property close to the Broads so they can enjoy more time on their boat.

While in the county, Sonali visits a pioneering dairy farm in north Norfolk, which has looked beyond everyday cheese-making and is also creating renewable energy from the dairy herd's waste.


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