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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530 years ago, the King and Queen of England
crossed the moat of this magnificent
Tudor mansion to stay with its owners.
The family that welcomed them then still live here today.
Find out where I am, in just a moment.
It's a nautical passion drawing today's house-buyers from a busy life in a
town towards a stunning pocket of rural England,
and we do well to fulfil the property shopping list.
So if I've got you the double garage and the log burner,
-you're moving in, right?
-You're not doing bad!
And the smiles continue as things get better and better.
This is the kitchen we imagined.
-You wouldn't want to do anything to it, would you?
-When can we move in?
Today, we're in Norfolk, and this is the impressive Oxburgh Hall.
Although it's now managed by the National Trust,
the Bedingfeld family have lived here for some 600 years.
Now, back in Tudor times, brick was an expensive option,
so this was a clear sign of their status within the royal circle.
In fact, the family became guardians of the exiled Catherine of Aragon
and then to the future Elizabeth I.
Royal connections aside, there are plenty of other rural gems
to celebrate here in this historic county.
Norfolk sits to the east of England, sharing a border with the North Sea.
Known for its expansive, flat landscapes,
huge skies and majestic windmills,
the county's footprint is mainly agricultural,
with crops such as wheat and sugar beet a familiar sight.
The architectural mark of the region is its many striking buildings and
cottages built from brick and local Norfolk flint.
These include those proudly on display in many towns and villages,
such as the Georgian market town of Holt in the north-east of the county
or the coastal village of Blakeney in the north,
which is a protected environment renowned for its wildlife and beauty.
The Blakeney National Nature Reserve is one of the largest areas of
undeveloped coastal habitat of its type in Europe.
Inland, the scenic Norfolk Broads is a network of man-made rivers and
lakes, featuring more than 125 miles of navigable waterways,
which are home to a quarter of the UK's rarest species.
So whether just visiting Norfolk, like 30 million tourists a year,
or choosing it as a place to lay down roots,
the county offers not only architectural delights
but outstanding natural beauty, too.
the average cost of a detached home here in Norfolk is around £30,000
less than the national figure, which is pretty good value for money.
But in the last year alone, property prices here have soared by 10%,
largely fuelled by second-home-owners and retirees.
In fact, it's estimated a tenth of all property on the county's north
coast are used as holiday homes.
Now, today's buyers want to make this county their permanent home,
so they have everyday access to those scenic attractions that draw
scores of visitors every year.
Paths first crossed for company director Paul and his
administrator wife Victoria six years ago.
They met when she became the office manager at the security company Paul
-used to work for.
-We got on really well, good friends,
had a really good relationship at work.
It just sort of went from there, didn't it?
Within a month, you'd moved in with me.
-I moved in, yeah.
-Within six months, we'd bought this house.
-Bought a house.
-Before that, we got engaged.
-And then, just after a year of being together, we got married.
Six months later, we got married.
The pair live in Rayleigh in Essex,
but after visiting friends in the Norfolk countryside three years ago,
they've had their eyes opened to a different way of life.
Our friends, they've got a boat on the Broads.
They kept asking us, "Come down, come and see the boat,"
and neither of us were really sure.
We went down there, absolutely loved it.
We left that weekend, sort of come away and it was,
"Right, when are we getting a boat?"
So after falling in love with all Norfolk has to offer,
Victoria and Paul are looking forward to laying down roots in the county.
Why put it off? You know, we both sort of looked at each other and said,
"Shall we? Yeah, OK."
-"Let's do it."
-"Let's do it." And that was it!
The couple will continue to work in their current jobs and don't want
more than a two-hour commute,
but they're pretty flexible on where in Norfolk they live.
I think it's the house that will dictate where we end up.
It's not a specific area as such, other than being Norfolk.
If it could be within an hour or so of the Norfolk Broads,
where we've got the boat, that'd be great.
And when they've found their dream home,
the boat lovers are also looking forward to indulging in some other
pursuits on dry land.
Just got too many hobbies and not enough time at the moment.
Motorcycling, just got back into that again after a brief period off,
so we've got some nice, lovely rides, sort of Norfolk area, some open fields,
some nice country lanes, some nice places to go and visit,
-so that would be great.
-I do sewing. Actual machine sewing.
And then cross stitching as well. And some bits of knitting.
I'd like to carry that on
and probably do a lot more of that, I'd like to think, having more time.
So, with their house on the market and their boat waiting for them on
the Broads, Paul and Victoria are ready to begin the search for their
next big purchase. And it should be a pleasurable experience,
as shopping is one of their favourite hobbies.
We're extremely impulsive buyers. We're very good at that.
We'll go out to look at something and have no intention of buying or
spending any money, see something, think, "We want that,
-"let's buy it. Shall we buy it? Yeah, let's buy it."
-We bought several cars like that.
-Yeah, cars, boats...
-And a few boats.
Yeah, you never know, maybe houses as well, but...
Victoria and Paul would like to live within an hour's drive of their
boat on the Broads and are willing to take on a two-hour commute to their jobs
in Essex and Kent, so we've taken that into account in our search.
And before we embark on our tour of Norfolk,
we're catching up to go over exactly what they're looking for
in their new home.
Well, Paul and Victoria, I'd say
this is a beautiful day for house-hunting
in Norfolk. And I hear this is all about a boat.
-It is, yeah.
Yeah, we bought a boat a couple of years ago, started coming up here,
fell in love with the area and decided it's where we wanted to move
-Let's talk about the house itself.
Yeah, that's the most important thing for him.
Or room to build and budget to build one.
Yeah, minimum of three bedrooms, with a study, or four bedrooms,
to use as the study. I'd like a kitchen/diner, open-plan.
-And quite a lot of nice, open living space.
-We'd love a log burner.
-We'd really like a log burner.
-Very country and rural, isn't it?
-We like the idea of that.
Yeah. Nice enough garden for the dog.
Apart from that, I think we're quite easy!
Is there anything you won't compromise on?
-I need to know these things.
-Don't want a thatched roof,
-because they scare the life out of me.
-Grade II listed.
-Grade II listed. And loads...
-You DON'T want Grade II listed?
-Don't want a house that needs total renovation.
We want something that we can pretty much move into,
with a little bit of decorating.
And low ceilings. I don't want to walk around like that all the time.
-And not near a main road.
-And remind me of your budget.
The top end of our budget is about 440,000.
-If that's the right location, the right house, that's the top.
So anything, really, up to that.
Fantastic. Well, we have some lovely properties to show you, so,
if you're ready, it's going to be a busy couple of days. Let's go.
For their budget of £440,000, Victoria and Paul would like
a detached property with a kitchen/diner,
open-plan living and a log burner.
They want three bedrooms and a separate study,
a pleasant, manageable garden that's suitable for dog Maxi
and a double garage for Paul.
Location-wise, they'd be happy in a rural setting
but need to be able to get to their boat and their jobs.
We've assembled a wonderful assortment of properties to present
to Victoria and Paul, and after they've completed a tour of each,
I'll reveal its price.
The final visit to the Mystery House is bound to turn things on their
head but could provide just the ticket to country living.
What's great about your move is that you're not waiting until you're
retiring to live this kind of life that you want to live.
I think the problem is you can...
..keep putting it off, you can keep going, wait until we're older...
..until we stop working.
No, let's do it now, let's, you know,
try and bring a bit of tranquillity into the mayhem, as it were, now,
and then it's the beginning.
We're travelling to the village of Cranworth in Mid Norfolk.
Ten minutes away is the larger village of Hingham,
once the property of William the Conqueror.
It's said that a fire destroyed many
of the town's buildings in the 18th century,
which led to the construction of many of the handsome Georgian houses
on display today. A journey of just over three miles takes us to this
attractive character cottage.
We are an hour from your boat here...
-..under a couple of hours back to Essex.
-Paul, you are taken care of, because the house comes with...
-..a double garage!
-Yes, it does!
-So you're happy.
Yeah, that looks good. That's a good start.
What do you think of the cottage itself?
-I like it.
-Yeah. Looks good so far.
I like the windows - sounds funny, but... It's got character.
-Yeah, it's got character, yeah.
-Shall we go inside and see if you like the
-Look forward to that.
This rendered detached cottage is built from brick and flint and dates
back to 1890,
and the welcome double garage has a former life as a blacksmith's.
As we're about to see, the home has been beautifully decorated throughout.
We're heading in through the front door,
which takes us via the porch to the main body of the house,
where we're beginning our tour.
If I bring you into the sitting room first...
..because of what you've just seen! VICTORIA LAUGHS
-A log burner.
Nice. It's not a bad size, is it?
-I like the size.
-So, if I've got you the double garage and the log burner,
-I mean, you're moving in, right?
-You're not doing bad!
-I like it.
-Yeah, it's quite nice. I like it, actually.
Still keeps the sort of little bit of the country...
-..but modern as well.
So you can imagine sitting here, relaxing?
-Yeah. Log burner on. Little nap on the settee, perfect.
The smiles are getting wider. I'm liking this!
OK, let's see what happens next. Follow me.
So, it's not the kitchen/diner that you wanted,
but it's a very modern country kitchen,
which leads straight through to a summer room.
Nice. Yeah, it is nice. Yeah, I like that.
So, you've got two sitting/living areas, really.
-Which would sort of compensate for not being the kitchen/diner.
You've still got the social bit with the dining room.
-But you've got beautiful views from here.
-Not overlooked at all.
-And you can keep an eye on Paul in the garage!
-That's very true.
I can sit there and look out at you.
We could move straight in, put furniture in.
We wouldn't have to do any work!
-It's getting better all the time!
You've also got a shower room downstairs.
-Shall we head on upstairs?
On the first floor of this charming cottage, a pretty family bathroom,
complete with roll-top bath, serves three bedrooms.
There's a beautifully bright double overlooking the front of the house,
with a smaller room at the back.
And we're headed to the largest of the three,
a dual-aspect double which I've earmarked for Victoria and Paul.
-It's quite a nice-sized room.
-Yeah. I like it.
-Yeah, it's not bad. I'm not sure it's big enough, but, yeah...
-Do you have a super-king?
-Yes, we do, yeah.
Just going to make the room slightly smaller.
-But it is a nice-sized room.
-Is it somewhere you could live?
-I think so.
-Yeah, I think it's ticking a lot of the boxes.
-I sense hesitation, though.
-Not sure it ticks them all.
-No, not quite.
I haven't seen anywhere for your office yet.
-But overall, I think it's a lovely house.
-Yeah, no, it is. Yeah.
OK. Shall we head back outside and talk about the price?
-Lead the way.
The gardens are set to the front and side of the property.
There's a well-kept lawn, a patio, a pond with a water feature
and a wood store, and it's all surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.
-The possibility of doing something outside...
-Same as a study,
may be able to extend above the garage and put that there, possibly.
-You've also got this wood store, so...
-Yeah, convert those, so...
-Well, let's see how much of a possibility it might be.
How much do you think this cottage is on the market for?
I think about 395.
-That's my guess.
-I'd like to hope maybe it's a little bit less,
so that then there's the options for us to do things, so I'll go 390.
I love that look!
You're both a little off.
But Paul is a little closer.
It's on the market for £425,000.
-Do you want to have a good look around, with the price in mind?
-And then I'll be out here when you're ready.
OK. Lovely, thank you.
This well-maintained 19th-century cottage has come in £15,000 under
budget. It's got that all-important log burner and a fabulous
summer room-cum-dining room offering additional living space.
It has three bedrooms, and outside there's a private,
manageable garden with a double garage for Paul.
Amenities are just a short drive away.
First impressions, really liked it, nice from outside.
Nice little garden. The best part, I think,
really, is probably the kitchen through to the summer room, and the lounge
is really nice. It flows really well.
The first impressions of the house, loved it.
The windows, a lovely feature.
It was just walking in, a real country feel, and obviously
the log burner just really finished it
off. Still having the modern features, having the best of both worlds, really.
The upstairs is not quite big enough and we've got no study or
spare room, which I would need as an office, so that's the biggest downside
with this property, but really nice other than that.
-Yes, I think so.
-And the good news is we've got plenty more to see.
The stunning Broads that Norfolk is famous for have earned the moniker
the Venice of the East.
Surprisingly, there are actually more miles of waterway here than those
that ebb and flow around the Italian city.
Experiencing more of the Broads is the major pull for Victoria and
Paul's move to the area. We've arranged for them to visit Norfolk's largest lake,
Hickling Broad, to learn about the ongoing conservation project here.
They're meeting Andrea Kelly, senior ecologist of the Broads Authority.
So, the Broads, they're a wetland, and over the years,
that wetland has deteriorated in terms of the water quality in particular,
and it's really important that we restore the quality of the water so
it's benefiting wildlife and it's benefiting people.
What's changed in the water quality in the Broads?
Well, what it was like about 50 or 60 years ago is
we had clear water and we had lots and lots of water plants, and that
attracted a huge amount of wildlife, and over the years,
gradually we've had waste water go in, and all that extra nutrient that's
come has resulted in algae causing very green water, shading out the
water plants, and the water plants are the foundation of the ecosystem.
Andrea and her team members,
along with other organisations, including the Wildlife Trust,
are working hard to clean up the Broads.
Doing things like removing sediment.
We remove equivalent to the Wembley Stadium of sediment per year.
Also looking at the amount of water that we have,
working with people to conserve water.
Reducing home use of water benefits the environment.
The Broads attract an abundance of wildlife.
Around 230 nationally important invertebrates or minibeasts can be
found here. These include Britain's largest butterfly, the swallowtail,
and the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly.
There are also eight species of fish that swim in the waters, including
the European eel. Some of Andrea's team members are on the water,
raking the bed of the lake.
They're collecting water samples and plants.
Well, this is a particularly common plant.
We were hoping to find some of the rare plants, but where they were
water sampling they just didn't happen to find a patch of those rare plants.
So, this is called spiked water milfoil.
Have a little bit of it. It's quite characteristic,
it's got stems and then whirls that come out at points on the stem.
How long can this grow up to?
Well, it can grow almost to the surface here in Hickling Broad. So, Hickling
is a shallow broad.
It grows at the bottom and towers up through the water, and it's great to
see them. They're great food for wildfowl.
This spiked water milfoil is an important water plant.
Conservationists want to rid the water of algae so that such plants,
which, crucially, provide food for wildlife, are able to flourish.
So, what changes have you noticed?
There's been a real improvement in water quality, and with that water
quality improvement, we're seeing more of these plants,
which is great news for our wildlife.
I think we're seeing a general recovery.
There's still more to do, but it's a good-news story.
What can the everyday visitor do to protect the Broads?
We've got a boat, so what can we do to help?
I think something really easy for people to do is to join the local
just to give some support to people who are managing the areas.
Also, if you have got a boat,
you've got to recognise that some of your waste water from the sinks and
so on flushes straight out,
so look for phosphate-free detergents and chemicals that you use that are
-That can help.
-Armed with some valuable knowledge for their next
boat trip, it's time for Victoria and Paul to get back to their house-hunt.
We're on our way to Necton, towards the west of the county.
The village is home to many buildings built from brick and local flint
and has a friendly community feel.
There's a welcoming pub and a handful of shops.
The beautiful All Saints Church in the centre of the village is
Grade I listed, with one wall dating back as far as Norman times.
Just over an hour away from the pretty village is Victoria and Paul's boat,
and it's less than two hours back to Essex.
A mile from the centre of the village,
we find this impressive former 18th-century chapel.
-Wasn't expecting that.
No, that's very country-style, isn't it, with the shutters?
-Very different, yeah.
-A big driveway for all your vehicles.
VICTORIA CHUCKLES And you've got a long...
-..driveway up there as well.
-Yeah, I saw that. Leading to a garage?
No, not yet.
-It looks quite grand, doesn't it?
-It looks a bit posh!
No, it's really nice.
-I want to get inside.
-Let's get inside, then.
This striking property has had more than one former life.
Originally built from brick and flint in 1785,
it became a family home 14 years ago, but before that,
it's been used as a chapel, a school and a barn.
The front door takes us into a beautiful entrance hall, where you can just
imagine the home in its former guise as a place of worship.
That is superb. Walk in, that's superb.
-He looks happier.
-No, I really like that.
It is a wow factor when you walk in.
A big box ticked.
-Let's see more.
-Let's go and see if there's a kitchen/diner for you!
-It's the kitchen/diner!
-It's the kitchen/diner.
It's lovely. The country-style.
-This is what you had in mind.
-Exactly what we had in mind, yeah.
-This is it.
-You wouldn't want to do anything to it, would you?
-When can we move in?
It's lovely, isn't it? This is the kitchen we imagined.
I haven't seen you smile this wide, Paul.
-Yeah, I know.
-Let's go and see more, then. Follow me.
Back across the stunning hallway is the dual-aspect sitting room.
-Nice. And with a log burner again.
-Yeah, I like that.
So, that is a gas burner.
-But, of course, you can just get a log burner put in.
And this connects nicely to the sun room.
Brilliant. That's really nice.
Yeah, it is, yeah, really nice.
And on top of all of that, there's an office downstairs.
-Brilliant, now you're talking.
-We just passed it in the hallway.
-That's superb, that is.
-So, you like the downstairs?
-Let's go see if upstairs suits.
The sweeping staircase leads to a galleried landing on the first floor. And...
-..a sewing nook.
-I was just about to say that.
-Oh, look at that!
-Oh, it's brilliant.
I could think of worse views to do sewing to.
It would be perfect. And, no, you're not having it for your office!
It would make a nice view, sat there looking out there.
-It would be a lovely office.
-It would, it would.
I'll let you fight it out.
Also on this floor is a smart family bathroom and two good-sized double
bedrooms, along with a smaller room in use as a study.
That just leaves the bright and spacious master, which might just
accommodate Victoria and Paul's super-sized bed.
I really like the exposed brickwork. Two nice windows, a lovely view.
We could squeeze our bed in somehow, do you think?
-I think this is big enough for your super-king.
-And the fourth bedroom could just become a dressing room.
-I like it.
-..to wake up to them views.
-Nice space. I really like it.
And there's an en-suite bathroom.
-Oh, even better.
-Right, let's go back outside,
see if there's enough space for your garage
-and work out how much this house is going to cost you.
The garden here extends to around a third of an acre.
It's extremely well-kept and divided by manicured hedges into various
areas from which to drink in the views.
There's a garden shed, too, and only one thing that's missing.
It's lovely. Really nice.
It ticks every box but one at the moment.
Other than the garage, it's ticking them all. A small, manageable garden...
Yeah, everything about it, nice. Drive, space, it's got it all.
But even with the garage,
you could move in and store your motorbike in the shed.
-Yeah, there is some storage.
-There's so much space for the cars.
Yeah, that's true.
How much are you going to have to spend to live here?
And I feel like in your heads you've moved in already.
I reckon it's got to be at the top end of our budget, 440.
I possibly think more. 445.
But I'd like to hope that you're going to surprise us and be nice!
It's on the market for £450,000.
And apart from the garage, it really does have everything.
-It does, yeah.
-I think, have a good look around,
-discuss it between you two, have a think.
-And I'll come and find you. Or you come and find me!
-Lovely, thank you.
This 18th-century restored chapel has a prize tag £10,000 above
budget but it offers Victoria
and Paul just about everything they want.
It has a spacious kitchen/diner and a study.
There are four bedrooms and a well-looked-after large garden.
Location-wise, it's in a rural
position but not too far from amenities.
First walking up, it was just amazing.
It was just really full of character.
It wasn't a square, it was all the shaping of it and everything.
And then the entrance really representing the old chapel,
-it was lovely.
-Yeah, loved it. Really good kerb appeal for me.
A bit different, a bit of character. Really nice, yeah.
The house has got some great features.
Really nice. I really like it.
I think we definitely could live here.
It just has everything that we want within a house and so much more.
Beaming smiles all round.
-A great house, yeah, I could see us living there. Yeah.
Really? I love ending the day on a high!
It's the second day of our trip around Norfolk on the hunt for a
country home for Victoria and Paul from Rayleigh in Essex.
They've got a budget of £440,000 to find a home that will allow them to
spend more time on their beloved boat, which is moored on the
county's beautiful Broads.
Still to come, things could go topsy-turvy when we reveal our Mystery House.
You wouldn't necessarily ever think of doing that.
-But now that it's there, doesn't it look beautiful?
The mystery has done its job, really.
And I'll be learning how bovine waste can create energy used to make
one of my favourite delicacies.
So it's put back into the system,
-so everything goes full circle here on this farm?
It's day two of our property search and time to reveal our final home.
It does offer Paul and Victoria a style they're familiar with, but it's the
Mystery Property, so we're flipping things around.
Our last stop, to the Mystery House, takes us to Geldeston near Norfolk's
border with Suffolk. Villagers can enjoy the delicacies available in
the local farm shop or sample the food and refreshments on offer in
the nearby pub, which is close to pleasant country walks.
The rural setting also boasts the pretty River Waveney,
which can be appreciated in all its glory by taking a boat trip along
the waters. In the heart of the village is where we find our final offering.
-Welcome to the Mystery House.
-It's quite big.
-It does look big.
-It's different to what we've seen, that's for sure.
-It's nice, though.
-A nice shape?
-Can you guess the mystery?
-That is a mystery I can't see.
-The mystery can only be seen from inside.
-And I'll give you a clue, it's something to do with layout.
This redbrick house was built in the '80s and had a makeover just a few
years ago. And the mystery will reveal itself as soon as we enter and head
straight UPSTAIRS to the kitchen and family room.
Ah! Upside down!
Upside down. I've brought you upstairs because it's an upside-down house.
Not looked at an upside-down house at all.
-The reason they've done this is because of the views. And you've got
-balconies - a balcony here and in the sitting room.
So obviously you can see a very open living space.
-But there's also a separate dining room.
-I do love this idea.
I think it just brings a different quirkiness to it. I like it.
Fortunately, Victoria and Paul don't seem to be fazed by this alternative
As well as the open-plan elements,
it has a beautiful separate sitting room, which runs from the front to
the back of the house, with rural views from both ends.
The sitting room also has a log burner as well as the dining room,
so, actually, you have your choice of where to have your sitting room.
This is quite a nice sitting room, actually.
It's a comfortable-feeling room.
-Yeah, I think it's better than cosy.
It's bigger than cosy, isn't it?
It's cosy but actually still light and airy.
You have that beautiful little nook, so I was thinking about your sewing.
-Nice light for that.
-Draw the curtains behind you and not know you're there!
Could you see yourself in a place like this?
-Definitely, with what we've seen.
-I like the open-plan flow.
Yeah. Looking good. It's more modern but it doesn't feel it.
Well, I'm glad you like the living space.
Now time to head downstairs to the bedrooms.
Moving down to the ground floor of our upside-down Mystery House,
the rooms all fan off from a central hallway.
There's a well-equipped utility room and a smart family bathroom for two
of the three bedrooms.
There are two snug doubles, and we're going to the largest of the three.
-It's quite big.
-I wasn't quite expecting that.
-And you've got a lovely garden room.
-Off the bedroom!
-Off the bedroom.
-Really strange, but it makes it a really big space.
-You wouldn't necessarily ever think of doing that.
-But now that it's there, doesn't it look beautiful?
-You can bring me tea in the morning.
-Lets so much light in.
Well, exactly, you've got your own breakfast room there.
-And there's an en-suite bathroom.
-It's all looking good.
-Really like it.
The mystery has done its job, really.
-Well, shall we go through the garden room into the garden?
The landscaped gardens surround the house and are mainly laid to lawn
front and back, bordered by pretty flowerbeds, shrubs and trees.
There's a terrace, a shed and an integrated double garage.
-Yeah, lovely garden.
-It is really nice.
-Pretty. Very pretty.
-And it goes all the way around, which is quite nice,
which is why you have those lovely views from all sides of the house.
Yeah, I think it's really a strong contender.
-Is it a strong contender, in your opinion?
-It could be, yes.
-Depending on the price.
-Depending on the price.
Well, we might as well discuss that.
I reckon it's on for about 440.
-OK. Bang on your top budget?
I'm going to go for less...
..considerably. I'm hoping for about 410.
Well, because you keep hoping and guessing...
..Paul is right again.
The guide price says £440,000 to £460,000.
We've spoken to the vendors and they will accept £440,000.
-I think it's worth that all day long.
All the right things in all the right places.
Well, there's a lot of living space to see, so why don't you have another
-look around, with the price in mind, and come and find me?
Our quirky upside-down Mystery House has rung in on the nose of the
top budget. It has a large kitchen-cum-family room,
two further reception rooms and three bedrooms,
including a master suite with an unexpected garden room.
This charming house also comes with an integrated double garage,
perfect for Paul.
Ah, that's it, a proper garage.
That'll do. See? Bench, car, bike, job done!
I think it's really quirky.
When we first walked in, I thought, "Ooh, an upside-down house!"
It was really strange. We've not looked at one, not been in one.
But really liked it. Open-plan... It looked good, didn't it?
Yeah. And the views front and back really sort of made it different
and made it work upside down.
-What I like most is the way it flows.
-It does flow really well.
All the rooms seem connected, it's really open-plan living...
-..which... I think, my favourite bit.
-So, upside-down living might be for you?
-It could be.
-Yeah, could be.
Well, the weather's not great, so let's go somewhere warm and grab a cup of tea.
The nation is always looking for ways to save on energy costs and
create affordable energy,
and on one pioneering dairy farm in Wighton, in the north of Norfolk,
renewable energy is being created from a variety of waste.
Energy is harnessed from food and cow manure using a machine called an
The 500-acre farm is owned and run by Stephen Temple and his wife
Catherine. Their herd of brown Swiss cows produces not only waste but
award-winning dairy produce, too.
Stephen, thank you very much for having me on the farm today.
-You're very welcome.
-Tell me more about it.
-It's a family farm.
My great-grandfather started the business in 1912
and my grandfather and my father built it up from then on.
I ran away to Africa to work for 22 years and my father said, "Well,
"I'm getting older, can you come and help me?"
So I came back and did a little bit on the farm and we've been keeping
-the dairy herd going here ever since.
-The big difference with this farm
-is the digester.
-I originally got the interest in Africa.
I've had an interest in anaerobic digestion from the late '70s.
Anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down
biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen.
This creates a gas which can be used to produce what's essentially free energy.
It's a group of bugs that grow in a digester which are very similar to
-the bugs that grow in a cow's stomach.
an anaerobic digester is a giant cow's stomach on life support.
-But in the digester,
another group of bugs called archaea then digest the fatty acids and turn
-them into methane.
-And with the digester, you use that methane,
-you turn that into energy?
Well, it all sounds very clever and very scientific.
Stephen is going to let me get up close so I can see how it works for myself.
It holds about 720 tonnes of slurry.
-We put the cow manure into the big hopper behind you here...
..and that gets fed into the digester with liquid.
We also put maize silage, and in the winter, we put beet in there as well.
The cows get the choice pick of the maize and the lower-quality stuff
gets fed to the digester, which is not quite so fussy.
Around 2.5 tonnes of gas is produced a day,
which is passed into the big, spherical gas holder.
It's then sent to the generator to create electricity and heat.
How many other farms have a system like this?
When we started, there were very few.
Now there's getting on for about 250.
And so the energy, you sell some of the energy, the rest feeds the farm
-and heats the farm?
-Yes, and, of course, producing heat for making the cheese.
For making the cheese, another one of your exports.
-Like the electricity.
The farm churns out over 30 tonnes of celebrated cheese a year.
It's Stephen's wife Catherine
who's in charge of this area, and she has 16 years' experience.
Today, she's working on the Binham Blue.
-Hi! Welcome to our cheese room.
-Making cheese is quite a lengthy process. So, on day one
we turn the milk into cheese, and on day two
we put the salt on the cheese.
It looks like I'm putting rather a
lot on, but when we're making cheese,
we're essentially drying milk out to preserve it.
From every ten litres of milk,
we get one kilo of cheese and nine litres of whey,
which is actually quite a rich
substance with protein and sugar in it.
But it doesn't go to waste.
We send it down to the digester and it's a fuel for making electricity.
So it's put back into the system,
so everything goes full circle here on this farm?
Yes, well, we try to use our assets to our best advantage and to the
planet's best advantage.
When Catherine's finished salting the cheese,
it'll go into the store room for five weeks to grow blue veins and
develop its distinctive taste.
It's just one of seven varieties
of cheese made here, which is mainly sold locally.
So, this is all my favourite cheeses on a plate.
-Which would you like to try first?
-I'm a hard-cheese and a feta fan.
Our hard cheese is called Walsingham,
after a neighbouring pilgrim village.
-That one's a year old.
Cheddar is better the older it is.
But this one is just gorgeous with things like raspberries.
-See, I do feta and watermelon. That's a good tip.
Mm, lovely. Thank you so much, Catherine. I'm not going anywhere!
We'll find some Norfolk apple juice to go with it.
It's been an inspiring visit to this farm, where a passionate focus on
sustainability has led to a successful,
efficient and environmentally friendly cheesemaking enterprise.
For now, it's time to put our energy into finding out if our house-hunt
has been a success.
Well, it seems Paul and Victoria are keen on two houses that are very
different in terms of age and style,
so which one will edge it? Time to find out.
I'd say it's been a successful week of house-hunting, because by my
reckoning there are two houses that pretty much fit the bill.
-Am I right?
-I think so.
-Yeah, that's about right, fair to say.
Let's talk about the chapel first. Do you still love it as much?
-Yeah, without doubt.
-I think it's slightly above the Mystery.
But they are two very different houses, and I think that's half the
problem. For us,
I think it's possibly a case of going back and looking at them both again.
I sense you each have a favourite.
-Mine initially, probably after the viewings, was the Mystery.
-But coming away from it, I think I'm edging back towards the chapel.
Mine's the chapel. It's nearly perfect, house-wise, for me.
-In terms of nothing to do once you move in?
-The layout's superb,
the space is superb and the wow factor when I walk in the door,
-no doubts with that one.
-Yeah, you seem very sure, don't you?
-Yeah, he is, isn't he?
I think there's a possibility after looking at it a second time we may
well then put an offer in.
Are you quite keen to move this forward quickly?
We're going to aim to come back within the next three or four days to look
at the chapel again and take it from there.
Well, I hope it works out, because you both seem really,
really keen on the chapel, in a kind of relaxed way.
I feel I want to urge you along a little bit!
I wish you luck, and I can't wait to hear that you've moved in.
-Come for tea.
-You can come for tea, yeah.
I'll take the invite with both hands!
-But good luck. Honestly, and let me know.
-Will do. Thank you.
Before our house-hunt here in Norfolk,
Paul and Victoria were fairly easy-going about location and style
of property, but they knew exactly which amenities they wanted from
their home, which is why I'm so pleased that two of our houses suited their needs.
It was lovely to see their faces light up as they walked around
the chapel. As Paul said, sometimes it's the house that picks you.
They looked very much at home there and I hope it becomes exactly that
for them. Thank you for joining us here in Norfolk.
See you next time on Escape To The Country.
Victoria and Paul were planning to put an offer in on the former chapel,
but, sadly for them,
another buyer pipped them at the post and had their offer accepted first.
Now their house-hunt continues, and
we wish them the very best of luck with their search.
If you'd like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland, Scotland,
Wales or England, and need our help, you can apply online...
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.