Northumberland Escape to the Country


Northumberland

Alistair Appleton is on a house-hunting mission in Northumberland with a couple looking for a character stone property with holiday let potential for £475,000.


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Transcript


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If you were to stroll with me beyond these gates into the garden,

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then you might not come out alive. Find out why and where I am

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in just a moment.

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As their work life winds down,

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today's house-hunters are stepping up their search for a new life

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and a new venture.

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As our property search begins, there's excitement in the air.

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Wow! Can I say "wow" lots of times?

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You've said it three times. That's great!

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Here comes a fourth - wow!

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And it's very much about what's OUTSIDE our houses.

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This is a room with an astounding view.

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It's invigorating.

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Today, we're in Northumberland, and this is the Poison Garden,

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part of the superb gardens next to Alnwick Castle.

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It's based on a medieval herbalist's plan, but with a twist,

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because all the species here are potentially lethal.

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Some of them are so deadly they require a licence,

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and are cultivated inside cages to protect the visitors.

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But don't worry, there are plenty of other vistas and landscapes in this

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great county without such a sting in their tail.

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As England's northernmost county, Northumberland borders Scotland,

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and to the east, looks out over the North Sea.

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Its beautiful and rugged coastline extends for some 64 miles,

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and its natural splendour has earned its status as

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an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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The most sparsely populated county in England,

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there are just over 160 people per square mile,

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with around a quarter of the landmass given over to

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the Northumberland National Park.

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The population gathers in its towns and villages,

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such as Alnwick and Allendale,

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whose main streets are lined with a harmonious mix of stone buildings.

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With its proximity to neighbouring Scotland,

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history books tell of border wars in the 14th to 16th centuries,

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with castles and ruins stark reminders of those times of conflict.

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In fact, the county boasts over 70 castle sites,

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more than any other in the country.

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With its mix of dramatic landscapes and history,

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Northumberland is well worth the journey for those truly wanting

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an escape.

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If you are looking for beautiful, wide-open landscape like this

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without a hefty price tag,

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then Northumberland might be the place to explore.

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The average price for a detached house

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in England's northernmost county is £244,000.

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That's £80,000 less than the rest of the country.

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Now, down south, and by the coast, your pennies might feel the pinch,

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but there is no shortage of open space for a rural retreat,

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and that's definitely one of the factors that attracted

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our house-buyers today, so let's meet them.

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Executive assistant Feargha and husband Graham,

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a furniture restorer,

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have lived in their four-bedroom mid-terrace property in Croydon,

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south London, for 13 years.

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Their paths first crossed in cyberspace.

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We met online through an online dating agency.

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He sent me an e-mail, and I answered,

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and we got talking on the phone,

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and the relationship grew from there.

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And then we got married in Rome in September 2003.

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And after saying ciao to Italy, they've never looked back.

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She's got a bubbly personality, a heart of gold.

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Graham's my best friend.

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He's great company to be with, very kind, very warm personality.

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The couple both work full time,

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but with Graham's retirement around the corner and Feargha lessening her

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working week, they've decided they want to up sticks and relocate.

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Northumberland is the area we're looking at.

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There are some wonderful places around there,

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so we're hoping we manage to get the perfect property.

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Graham's formative years were spent in Nottinghamshire,

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and he is looking forward to heading north.

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The north, to me, is my homeland.

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-Your home.

-It's where I grew up, and I have a lot of friends there.

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They'll also be closer to Graham's son and grandchildren

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in North Yorkshire.

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As far as we want to be in relation to them,

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we want to be about an hour and a quarter, an hour and a half away.

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So we're close, but not on their doorstep,

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so that we can come together and share family times

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and good times together, and that they know us.

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We love them to bits, and, you know, we're very close.

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After the restrictions of urban living,

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Feargha and Graham look forward to enjoying their hobbies

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with a bit more space.

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I love being out in the garden,

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and what I'd like is something bigger with more...

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-That you can get your teeth into.

-Exactly, yes.

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And we've always had an interest in stargazing,

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and one thing about Northumberland is they have

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what they call dark sky night, a protected area,

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and it's got the least light pollution.

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So you've got the best skies, and it's renowned now for stargazing.

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But it won't all be down time.

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Feargha will be commuting to her job in London,

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and Graham will still do some work from home,

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where they've also got plans to set up a new business.

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One of our key things was to have an annexe and to set up a holiday let,

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and that's why location, I think, was very key for us

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in that it's in the right area,

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so that we have natural beauty around us that people

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will actually want to come and see.

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So, with their property about to go on the market,

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the couple are ready to start their house-hunt in earnest.

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I am really ready now to go to the country to kind of take a breath,

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exhale and enjoy the pursuits of the country.

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I think there comes a time in life

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where you've done all the hard work,

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life can literally be not one long holiday,

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but much more enjoyable and doing natural things...

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-Which we hope to do.

-..as soon as you step out the door

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in an area which...

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-We love.

-..we love.

-Mm-hm.

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Feargha and Graham's friends are towards the north of Northumberland,

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and Feargha will be travelling to London to work and to stay there

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three days a week. But they're open to considering

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anywhere in the county, so we're taking all that into account.

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Welcome to Northumberland!

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-Thank you.

-Thank you very much, thank you.

-It's a little cold.

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-And wet.

-Cold and wet.

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But, you know, that is probably a feature of Northumberland.

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-We have to get used to it.

-It's a gorgeous county.

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It's just stunning, even in the wet and the rain and the wind,

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and I think if you can like it then, when the sun shines,

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-it's even better.

-So it's a good time of life to be moving,

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particularly for you, Graham,

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because you've got more free time as you work less.

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Yes, Alistair, yes, I am looking to slow down as I near retirement.

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And you are going to be commuting back and forth to London!

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-I am, three days a week.

-What sort of a commute are you looking for?

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What time is acceptable?

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To get to the station, I don't mind,

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because I think the house we'll have is our forever home,

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and so I can live with the travelling.

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So within an hour.

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And in terms of the house, you said it's going to be your forever home.

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What are you looking for?

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Internally, minimum three bedrooms we'd like.

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Big rooms, or big-ish rooms.

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Kitchen - big kitchen, I would love a big kitchen.

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It can be a kitchen-diner, or it can be two separate rooms,

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and a nice big reception room.

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I'd love an inglenook, but I know that's probably asking too much.

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So a fireplace of any kind that we can make it our own would be fine.

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A utility room! Would love to have a utility room.

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-What about outside?

-You're looking for a little business venture?

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I think on the outside, yes.

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We are looking to perhaps develop a holiday let, annexe situation,

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with the house, whether it's something that's existing already

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in the house, or something that we can convert from outbuildings.

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To get all of that might be a little bit of a squeeze.

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Anything where you would be able to compromise?

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Of course. We'll look at anything.

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The thing we don't want to compromise on

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-is the land and annexe.

-How much land do you want?

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-Well, you said half an acre, plus.

-I think half an acre, plus, really.

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I think half an acre would give me the chance to develop a nice garden.

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In terms of the location, what are you looking for?

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In the middle of nowhere with amazing views, or do you want to be in a town?

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On the edge of a village. Or outside, two or three miles outside,

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-we don't mind.

-No.

-Views is definitely something I've really hankered at having.

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I'd love to be able to walk out my back door and there is just this rolling countryside.

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-So you want it all.

-I do, absolutely. Why not?

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Views, annexe, land...

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Exactly. We might as well start up and then we can work our way down.

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What's your budget for all this?

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Well, we'd like 440, but if that's not possible, 475.

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So we've got a bit of everything lined up for you.

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-Great.

-And I can't wait to show you.

-Likewise.

-Come with me. This way.

-Thank you.

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For the top budget of £475,000,

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Feargha and Graham would love a character stone property,

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a big kitchen and a minimum of three bedrooms.

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Outside, they'd like a garden that Graham can get to work in,

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and a workshop space,

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plus an annexe or the potential to create a space

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to use as a holiday let.

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They're hoping for wonderful views and an edge-of-village location.

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I'll be showing Feargha and Graham a fabulous selection of properties,

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and once we've completed a tour of each, I'll reveal the asking price.

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Our final visit will take them to a very special Mystery House,

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which you could say is the ultimate escape.

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I want to know about this business.

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We did talk about a B&B initially,

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but because Feargha's travelling down to London

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for the next 18 months, we thought an annexe would be better.

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-Because your cooking's terrible!

-Then people can come in and it would be self-contained.

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-Yeah, it is!

-You can't do breakfast?

-The content's there,

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but it's the presentation, Alistair!

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To kick-start our Northumberland journey,

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we're heading to the village of Haydon Bridge,

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towards the south of the county.

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Surrounded by lush green countryside,

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today's village is divided by the River South Tyne,

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and linked by its elegant bridge.

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But the original village lay a mile to the north.

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There's a good sense of community here,

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and a variety of independent shops and eateries.

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The train station allows for an easy journey to London,

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and it's just a ten minute walk from our first property.

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Perched on the edge of the village, it overlooks the Tyne Valley.

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-Very nice.

-Righty-ho, house number one.

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-Yeah.

-Built from scratch by the present owners and, as you see,

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it really makes a lot of the fantastic views.

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-Yes.

-It doesn't have an annexe.

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-Right.

-Mm-hm.

-You'd have to think about doing something here,

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with this big garage.

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-Yes.

-Oh, right. The house is lovely, and the views are stunning.

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-So we don't need to go in? Sold?

-No. No, not yet. Nearly.

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-We'll see.

-Well, you WILL see...

-We WILL see.

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..when we go through the door.

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This handsome stone house, with its smart slate roof, was built in 2001,

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but its facade has the character of a home much older.

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We're entering into a large hallway

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and going straight to the sitting room at the back of the house.

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It really sets the tone for how this property makes the most of its

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surroundings. I wanted to bring you in here first...

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-Wow!

-..because this is what this house is all about.

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-Yes. Wonderful views.

-Fantastic.

-Isn't it great?

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Amazing views!

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Open space. I like the window, you know, the picture window.

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I love the whole stone look, that really is what we love, isn't it?

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There's another, more formal reception room at the front of the property,

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and next stop for us is the kitchen just behind us.

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Its internal window means the sitting room's view can be enjoyed from here.

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A bit smaller than I had hoped for, but still very usable, yeah.

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My thoughts about the kitchen is that it's...

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You could perhaps open it up to make more of that space.

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Yes, so you have the whole open kitchen-diner living area,

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which would be very nice, because you would have those amazing views.

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-Yes.

-On the other side here,

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you've got a utility room pretty much the same size as the kitchen,

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but you might want to use that utility room

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as the kitchen facilities for the...

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-Ah, yes, of course.

-..annexe.

-Of course, the garage.

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A huge garage which you could convert into living space.

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Adjoining the utility room,

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the double garage is currently used for storage.

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And there's also a study on this floor.

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Then, moving upstairs, there's a family bathroom,

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servicing three of four bedrooms.

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They're all at the back of the house,

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each benefiting from views across the valley.

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A dressing room leads to the largest of the four bedrooms.

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-Very nice. Nice big room.

-Nice high ceiling.

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And because you've got the dressing room,

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you've plenty of storage without

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encroaching on the bedroom with wardrobes and that.

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-And there's a nice big en suite through there.

-Lovely.

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-But again, it's all about the views.

-It is. The views are amazing.

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I like my bedroom to be my sanctuary.

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This is half as big again as what we have now.

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It is, yeah. It is, it's lovely.

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With warm reactions to the inside of the house,

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it's now time to take in the sunshine,

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where the breathtaking views are best appreciated

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from the rear garden.

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It's surrounded by flower beds, low hedges and patio areas.

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There's a large shingle driveway to the front, which offers further

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possibilities, and the whole plot is about a third of an acre.

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-It's pretty nice, huh?

-Oh, goodness, wow, you know?

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Another view. Nice open space.

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It's fantastic.

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It's quite a chunk of house from the back, isn't it?

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-Yes.

-It's huge. You don't realise when you're standing at the front

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-how much it goes back.

-Now, the garden, Graham.

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-Is this enough, or is this too small?

-I think, initially,

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I would be thinking about looking at something slightly bigger,

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and perhaps slightly more level.

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It would be a challenge, but it's not something

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-I'd be worried about taking on.

-Because, also,

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there's no workshop for your furniture business, either.

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No. Workshops can be built or bought.

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What do you think the price is?

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-How much would you have to pay to own it?

-495,000.

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-Over your budget?

-Yes, yes.

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I, on the other hand, am optimistic, so I'm going to go under our budget

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and say 430. 430,000.

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430,000.

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Well, the actual asking price is £450,000.

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-Oh, OK.

-Why don't you go round, have a look, and when you're done,

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-I'll meet you out the front?

-OK, great.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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Under the top budget by £25,000,

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this four-bedroom stone property is all about one thing - the views.

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There are options for a great kitchen-diner,

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and the larger sitting room has a spectacular picture window.

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Along with a pretty garden, there's money left over,

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and space for Graham to build his workshop.

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All this with amenities nearby, including a station for Feargha.

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This is a big space, isn't it?

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-Yeah.

-This would be ideal as the annexe.

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You could use the utility room,

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then put a wonderful window in there

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which makes the most of the views.

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-Yeah.

-Beautiful house, lovely stone character property

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with a wonderful living room and an amazing big window.

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Yeah, I could see myself living here.

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-It's a lovely house.

-I think the lounge is the room for me,

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with the working fireplace, somewhere to relax.

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We've not had a fireplace in our house for many years,

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and so that is my favourite room.

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It's nice and large, and good to relax in.

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Yeah, I think we both can see the potential.

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I think the downside probably for Graham will be the land.

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And a little bit for me, but I think we could make it work.

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Oh, it's lovely in Northumberland!

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I'm so glad they chose to buy a house here.

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-Are you all done?

-Absolutely.

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-Wonderful.

-Mm, well, that's house number one done and dusted.

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-Uh-huh.

-Let's head off for house number two.

-Great.

-Great.

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This stunning Northumberland landscape is

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what's drawing Feargha and Graham to the county,

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and they hope it will be a draw for holiday-let guests, too.

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They're also planning on growing their own produce,

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which their visitors can enjoy.

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One local who makes the most of not only home-grown but wild produce

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is Linus Morton.

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He's been foraging since he was a child, and for the past five years,

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he's been running courses in foraging and wild food

0:16:350:16:38

in the heart of the Northumberland countryside.

0:16:380:16:41

Feargha and Graham are meeting him

0:16:410:16:43

on a friend's glamping site in the Tarset Valley.

0:16:430:16:46

So, Linus, why is Northumberland so good for foraging

0:16:460:16:50

-and picking wild foods?

-We've got so many different habitats,

0:16:500:16:53

we've got wonderful woodlands and pastures.

0:16:530:16:55

I see you've got a combination of plants in your basket,

0:16:550:16:58

but the thing that would concern me, I think,

0:16:580:17:00

would be, how do you know what's not poisonous, what is,

0:17:000:17:03

-what's good for you?

-The best way, if you are unsure,

0:17:030:17:06

is to come out with an expert,

0:17:060:17:07

somebody who can show you how to identify all the wild plants,

0:17:070:17:11

and also show you how to find them.

0:17:110:17:13

So what goodies have you got in the basket, Linus?

0:17:130:17:15

I've got a few wild plants that are quite common around here.

0:17:150:17:18

This is a common sorrel, which is quite an interesting flavour.

0:17:180:17:22

-If you'd like to try.

-Can I try it?

-Yeah.

0:17:220:17:25

So it's got a very sharp, lemon-y flavour to it.

0:17:250:17:27

And we have this quite pretty plant, which is lady's smock.

0:17:270:17:32

Lady's smock. Just take the top off?

0:17:320:17:34

Yes, just take the top part and have a try of that.

0:17:340:17:37

And it's got quite a surprising little punch.

0:17:370:17:39

That's really nice.

0:17:390:17:41

-Mm.

-Yeah, it's lovely.

0:17:410:17:43

-Peppery. Ooh!

-That's a strong taste, very strong, very pungent.

0:17:430:17:47

With foraging off the menu today because of the wet weather,

0:17:470:17:50

Linus's wife Louise has prepared a wild lunch in their food wagon,

0:17:500:17:55

a bespoke mobile kitchen.

0:17:550:17:57

It's being served in a yurt,

0:17:570:17:59

and it's a chance to stay dry and find out a little about their

0:17:590:18:02

self-sufficient lifestyle and business.

0:18:020:18:05

This all looks fabulous. What are we going to be eating now?

0:18:050:18:08

We've got nettle seed bread, topped with lacto-fermented garlic leaf,

0:18:080:18:12

elderberry balsamic vinegar,

0:18:120:18:13

wild mushroom pate from the mushrooms from the woods

0:18:130:18:16

that you've just been through.

0:18:160:18:18

How did you get involved in this lifestyle in the country?

0:18:180:18:21

There's so much here, just in Northumberland.

0:18:210:18:23

-Yeah.

-We'd been living in Newcastle for years,

0:18:230:18:26

and eventually we just went, "Why don't we moved to the country?"

0:18:260:18:30

So that's your chosen lifestyle,

0:18:300:18:31

and now you're looking to educate other people through your business.

0:18:310:18:35

Yeah, and inspire them to do this themselves,

0:18:350:18:37

to come out and see what's in the landscape,

0:18:370:18:40

because foraging is a great way of engaging more deeply

0:18:400:18:42

with the landscape. It's kind of a walk with a purpose,

0:18:420:18:46

you're going outside, you're enjoying the countryside

0:18:460:18:48

and the beautiful place, but at the same time,

0:18:480:18:51

you're learning more deeply about the species that are present there,

0:18:510:18:55

and also, you're bringing back some delicious, healthy food.

0:18:550:18:59

What kind of clientele do you get?

0:18:590:19:01

Mainly people from, I would say,

0:19:010:19:03

urban dwellers and people from the city...

0:19:030:19:05

-Us!

-..who are coming out to experience a day in the country.

0:19:050:19:09

One of the things that, when we move to the country, we're going to

0:19:090:19:12

hopefully have is a holiday let.

0:19:120:19:15

Do you think that there has been

0:19:150:19:16

a surge in tourism in Northumberland?

0:19:160:19:19

Northumberland for a long time was just a day destination.

0:19:190:19:22

People used to come out, do a bit of walking, activities,

0:19:220:19:25

and then go home at the end of it.

0:19:250:19:27

Now, with the expansion of many developments such as this

0:19:270:19:30

providing accommodation for people,

0:19:300:19:32

Northumberland is now becoming much more of a destination

0:19:320:19:35

for people to come and stay for weekends and weeks and take breaks.

0:19:350:19:39

It's such a beautiful place.

0:19:390:19:40

It feels like you have the place to yourself.

0:19:400:19:42

-Yeah.

-And you can go out and walk all day,

0:19:420:19:44

and all you can experience is the landscape.

0:19:440:19:47

Quite a special experience.

0:19:470:19:48

-Looking forward to it.

-We are lucky,

0:19:480:19:50

because, not only does the countryside provide us

0:19:500:19:52

with a wonderful lifestyle, but wonderful food, too.

0:19:520:19:55

Yeah, looks delicious. Can we get stuck in?

0:19:550:19:58

ALISTAIR: Our couple seem inspired by the quality of life

0:19:580:20:01

their move here would mean.

0:20:010:20:02

Having sampled Northumberland's wild harvest,

0:20:020:20:06

it's time to resume our house-hunt.

0:20:060:20:08

For our next property stop, we're heading to the hamlet of Redpath

0:20:120:20:16

in the south-west of the county.

0:20:160:20:18

Two miles away is the small town of Haltwhistle,

0:20:180:20:21

whose charming streets offer a good selection of essentials.

0:20:210:20:25

It's one of two areas laying claim to being located

0:20:250:20:28

in the geographical centre of Great Britain,

0:20:280:20:30

and there are reminders at every turn.

0:20:300:20:33

Just under a ten-minute drive takes us to our second offering.

0:20:330:20:38

Less than two miles from the local station,

0:20:380:20:40

and just over a mile from Hadrian's Wall,

0:20:400:20:43

is this double-fronted stone cottage.

0:20:430:20:46

-Oh!

-Wow!

0:20:470:20:48

House number two.

0:20:480:20:50

Wow! Wow! Can I say "wow" lots of times?

0:20:500:20:52

You've said it three times. That's great!

0:20:520:20:55

Right, here comes the fourth - wow!

0:20:550:20:57

-This is a lovely house.

-This is a beautiful house.

0:20:570:21:00

So, not the edge of a village, we're a little bit more remote.

0:21:000:21:03

Can we afford it?

0:21:030:21:05

You'll find out.

0:21:050:21:07

So the core of the building goes back to the 1800s.

0:21:070:21:10

It would've been three agricultural workers' families

0:21:100:21:13

-lived on each floor.

-Wow.

0:21:130:21:15

Big plot, just under an acre, 0.8 of an acre.

0:21:150:21:18

-Mm-hm.

-Big double garage for your workshop.

0:21:180:21:21

-Mm-hm.

-Yes.

-Yeah.

-That's not all! Follow me.

0:21:210:21:26

Not only am I showing them the stone-built house they've asked for,

0:21:260:21:30

but it also comes with a pretty stone holiday cottage or bothy,

0:21:300:21:34

which is just opposite the house.

0:21:340:21:36

-Your very own bothy.

-Wow, lovely bothy.

0:21:360:21:39

Right, fantastic.

0:21:390:21:41

-Let's have a look inside.

-Love to.

0:21:410:21:43

The bothy is detached, and has its own cottage garden.

0:21:430:21:47

Come on in.

0:21:490:21:50

They've kept it very, very simple, which I think is a good thing.

0:21:520:21:55

It's just a bedroom, and a little en suite through here.

0:21:550:21:59

-Wonderful.

-No kitchenette,

0:21:590:22:00

they give them breakfast in a little basket on the porch.

0:22:000:22:03

It's gorgeous, it's just my taste.

0:22:030:22:05

It's minimalist, but stylish.

0:22:050:22:07

-Stunning, I love it.

-And they do it very low-key through the internet,

0:22:070:22:12

they don't really push it, they don't advertise,

0:22:120:22:15

-they make three grand a year.

-Mm-hm, yes.

-That's all right.

0:22:150:22:17

That's OK. So, in fact, if you did push it,

0:22:170:22:21

you could probably do a lot better.

0:22:210:22:23

Holiday let sorted, now back across the lane to the main house,

0:22:230:22:27

which was extended in the 1980s and is laid out over three levels.

0:22:270:22:33

We're starting on the ground floor,

0:22:330:22:35

where there's a dining room and drawing room at the front,

0:22:350:22:38

and a kitchen with utility at the back.

0:22:380:22:41

Come into the kitchen, first of all.

0:22:430:22:46

What do you think of this?

0:22:470:22:49

-Triple wow.

-Triple wow!

0:22:490:22:51

Triple wow. Great space, isn't it?

0:22:510:22:54

Look at the view as well.

0:22:540:22:56

I'm not usually lost for words, but this is...

0:22:560:23:00

-This is gorgeous.

-So the layout is very lovely here,

0:23:000:23:03

because you've got a beautiful front room,

0:23:030:23:06

south-facing, the sun comes in that side.

0:23:060:23:08

-Yeah.

-Then the dining room on the other side.

0:23:080:23:11

-You've got the kitchen, nice big utility room here.

-Oh, you do?

-Yeah.

0:23:110:23:14

Upstairs, we've got two bedrooms.

0:23:140:23:16

This is a three-storey house.

0:23:160:23:19

So we've got another storey beneath us?

0:23:190:23:21

-She's on the ball.

-Fantastic!

0:23:210:23:23

Up on the first floor,

0:23:250:23:26

the bright master bedroom has its own stylish en suite

0:23:260:23:29

shower room, and there's a beautifully finished bathroom

0:23:290:23:32

for the second bedroom, also a double.

0:23:320:23:35

Down on the lower-ground floor,

0:23:360:23:38

there's a third, smaller bedroom with a neighbouring shower room,

0:23:380:23:41

and there's a study next door.

0:23:410:23:44

In addition, there's a rather large, impressive sitting room.

0:23:440:23:48

-Wow!

-Look at this!

0:23:500:23:52

-Fantastic!

-It's Aladdin's cave, isn't it?

0:23:520:23:54

-Yeah!

-What a wonderful building, lovely house.

0:23:540:23:57

And three levels makes it much more interesting,

0:23:570:23:59

and they've used the space so fantastically well.

0:23:590:24:03

One nice feature is that you can go straight into the garden from here.

0:24:030:24:06

Oh, that's good.

0:24:060:24:07

Outside, there's a large terrace, a summer house, a bordered lawn

0:24:090:24:14

and, of course, the views Feargha spotted earlier.

0:24:140:24:16

Out in the beautiful garden, you can see the real height of the property.

0:24:180:24:21

Those three storeys really add up from back here.

0:24:210:24:24

It's a solid, really solid house.

0:24:240:24:26

Beautiful house. Beautiful.

0:24:260:24:27

The garden is nicely zoned. You've got this beautiful drystone wall

0:24:270:24:30

down one side, then there's a woodland, which is yours,

0:24:300:24:33

and also, the slope down...not quite to the field is also yours.

0:24:330:24:37

I think it's a good size,

0:24:370:24:39

I think because the house gives us everything we want,

0:24:390:24:42

we've got the bothy, we've got the bedrooms,

0:24:420:24:44

it'd be nice to think that the garden could be dedicated to borders

0:24:440:24:49

-and focal points, really.

-What do you think it's on the market for?

0:24:490:24:53

475.

0:24:530:24:56

I think it's right on our budget, if not above, but I'll go 475.

0:24:560:25:00

475? I think I'll go for 500. 500,000.

0:25:000:25:04

Graham is a little closer.

0:25:040:25:05

Unfortunately, it IS over budget.

0:25:050:25:07

-Yeah.

-It's on at 495.

0:25:070:25:10

-Not surprising. Not surprising.

-So £495,000.

0:25:100:25:13

But the owners are keen to move, and they're willing to take an offer.

0:25:130:25:17

Right. Yeah, I'm overcome with excitement.

0:25:170:25:21

Well, have a stroll around your three floors

0:25:210:25:24

and your less than an acre of land,

0:25:240:25:26

and I will catch you when you're done.

0:25:260:25:28

-That might be some time.

-I think it will be.

0:25:280:25:30

-I think we'll be having a good stroll through.

-Have another look.

0:25:300:25:33

OK.

0:25:330:25:35

Granted, this gorgeous 19th-century stone property might be £20,000

0:25:360:25:40

above their budget, but with the vendor open to offers,

0:25:400:25:44

it could be within reach.

0:25:440:25:46

It has both character and style, with a superb kitchen-diner,

0:25:460:25:50

three reception rooms and three bedrooms.

0:25:500:25:54

Outside, there's not only a pretty garden with views,

0:25:540:25:57

but also a detached holiday cottage for paying guests.

0:25:570:26:01

The nearest amenities are less than two miles away.

0:26:010:26:05

This is gorgeous!

0:26:070:26:09

Look at it again, all those windows and...

0:26:090:26:12

-Nice fireplace. Beautiful fireplace.

-A log-burner, perfect!

0:26:120:26:16

This just hits everything I wanted apart from a massive amount of land,

0:26:160:26:20

and the house is just beautiful. It's beautifully done.

0:26:200:26:23

It's the style we love, the rooms are all a really good size.

0:26:230:26:28

The kitchen is gorgeous.

0:26:280:26:30

I could wax lyrical about it for ages,

0:26:300:26:33

it's just such a lovely, lovely home.

0:26:330:26:36

As soon as we turned up outside,

0:26:360:26:38

this house really gave me a tingle in the stomach.

0:26:380:26:41

I know it affected Feargha slightly more emotionally but, yes,

0:26:410:26:45

it's really got everything that we're looking for in a house.

0:26:450:26:48

This is a magical spot.

0:26:500:26:52

I so hope they can sort out the finances and get this house.

0:26:520:26:56

-Hello!

-Hello.

-I was just singing the praises of this house

0:26:560:26:59

-and how happy you seem in it.

-Yes.

0:26:590:27:01

Yes, I do seem very happy in it. I think it was made for me.

0:27:010:27:04

Well, let's take the evening off,

0:27:040:27:06

-because tomorrow is the Mystery House, and you never know.

-Yes!

0:27:060:27:09

It's the second day of our Northumberland journey on the hunt

0:27:220:27:25

for a country pad for Feargha and Graham from Croydon, south London.

0:27:250:27:29

For their top budget of £475,000,

0:27:290:27:33

they'd like a character stone property with the potential for a

0:27:330:27:37

holiday let.

0:27:370:27:39

Still to come, we brave the elements on the way to our Mystery House...

0:27:390:27:43

-Quite remote.

-Very!

-Yes.

0:27:430:27:46

Not overlooked.

0:27:460:27:47

..and I'll be getting to grips with 2,000-year-old armour.

0:27:470:27:51

When you touch things like that, chills go down your spine.

0:27:510:27:54

Day two of our property hunt in Northumberland,

0:27:570:27:59

and the weather's a little bit damper than yesterday,

0:27:590:28:02

but it's not dampening our spirits,

0:28:020:28:04

because Graham and Feargha seemed to really fall in love with

0:28:040:28:07

house number two yesterday.

0:28:070:28:08

Even though it wasn't really in a village,

0:28:080:28:10

or even on the edge of a village,

0:28:100:28:12

it did offer them pretty much everything they wanted.

0:28:120:28:15

The Mystery House, however, is a very different offering.

0:28:150:28:18

Properties like this do not come on the market very often,

0:28:180:28:21

so we have to show it to them,

0:28:210:28:23

but will it be a step too far when it comes to being in the wilderness?

0:28:230:28:27

For the Mystery Property,

0:28:290:28:30

we're travelling to the historic hamlet of Coalcleugh

0:28:300:28:33

in the south of the county.

0:28:330:28:35

In the heart of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

0:28:360:28:40

it's just a couple of miles away

0:28:400:28:42

from the small village of Nenthead in Cumbria.

0:28:420:28:45

Built in the mid-1700s,

0:28:450:28:47

it was one of the earliest purpose-built industrial villages

0:28:470:28:50

in Britain. It was a centre for lead and silver mining.

0:28:500:28:54

Our remote Mystery House was originally

0:28:540:28:57

two mine workers' cottages, and dates back to the 1820s.

0:28:570:29:01

Elevated almost 1,800 feet above sea level,

0:29:010:29:04

it offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

0:29:040:29:08

This is your Mystery House.

0:29:100:29:12

-Wow.

-It's very striking, Alistair, very striking.

0:29:120:29:15

It IS striking, isn't it? Quite remote.

0:29:150:29:17

-Very!

-Yes.

0:29:170:29:19

-Not overlooked.

-It's definitely not overlooked.

0:29:190:29:21

We wanted to show you this because it's quite unique. And very high up.

0:29:210:29:25

This used to be the highest village in England, we think.

0:29:250:29:28

And it was a lead-mining community back in the day, in the 1800s.

0:29:280:29:31

Now there's just a couple of properties scattered around.

0:29:310:29:34

-Yes.

-But what's unique about this is that it's cost neutral.

0:29:340:29:38

-Wow. So it's an eco house?

-It's an eco house.

0:29:380:29:41

The wind turbine generates all the energy that you need,

0:29:410:29:44

and you get paid a subsidy for the energy that you create.

0:29:440:29:47

-Right.

-That's a good benefit!

-A very good benefit.

0:29:470:29:51

-So all we have to do is pick our way across the valley together.

-Great!

0:29:510:29:54

The wild weather seems rather fitting on this expanse of moorland,

0:29:570:30:01

as we are blown towards our Mystery House,

0:30:010:30:04

which has been renovated extensively by the current owners.

0:30:040:30:07

The front porch takes us straight into the kitchen.

0:30:070:30:10

-Oh!

-Freezing!

-So come into the warm.

0:30:110:30:14

It's beautiful, and it's really cosy.

0:30:140:30:16

-Stone flag floors.

-Gorgeous.

0:30:160:30:18

These are the original flags.

0:30:180:30:20

-Nice kitchen.

-Lovely kitchen.

0:30:200:30:22

-Yes.

-Very country kitchen.

-You've got to understand,

0:30:220:30:25

this is a very different offering

0:30:250:30:27

from the other properties we've shown you.

0:30:270:30:29

It's not quite what you asked for,

0:30:290:30:31

but that's what the Mystery House often is.

0:30:310:30:33

-Yes.

-Because this is really much more like

0:30:330:30:36

you're way out into the wild, open expanses.

0:30:360:30:39

You're very self-contained and you're very self-sufficient.

0:30:390:30:44

-Is it attractive?

-Yeah, I think it is.

0:30:440:30:45

-I think so.

-Yeah.

0:30:450:30:47

It's such a beautiful place,

0:30:470:30:48

and the landscape reminds me very much of Ireland.

0:30:480:30:51

It's very similar, so there's kind of an emotional connection there.

0:30:510:30:54

So keep a very open mind, it's a very different offering,

0:30:540:30:57

but it's this end I want to show you next.

0:30:570:30:59

Off the kitchen, there's a boot room and a utility,

0:31:010:31:04

both with access to the outside,

0:31:040:31:06

and off the utility is a handy little study.

0:31:060:31:10

Moving to the other side of the kitchen,

0:31:100:31:13

we're passing through a large family room to a beautiful sitting room

0:31:130:31:16

with the most stunning outlook.

0:31:160:31:19

Feast your eyes on this!

0:31:190:31:22

-Impressive room to relax and unwind.

-This is unbelievable,

0:31:240:31:27

and this is a room with a view again!

0:31:270:31:29

This IS a room with a view.

0:31:290:31:31

And in fact, this is a room with... an astounding view.

0:31:310:31:34

-It's invigorating.

-It is.

0:31:340:31:36

Got a little log-burner here, just the right size for a room this size.

0:31:360:31:41

You could just move right in and be so comfortable and so happy in

0:31:410:31:44

somewhere like this, and it's a real home.

0:31:440:31:46

It's a really loving home.

0:31:460:31:48

In many ways, the package is really for you, it doesn't have an annexe.

0:31:480:31:52

-No.

-But if you were to, you know, have a holiday let, I mean,

0:31:520:31:56

it's a great draw, because it's just uninterrupted views,

0:31:560:31:59

fantastic walking and amazing stargazing.

0:31:590:32:01

Yes, I bet you've absolutely no... or little light pollution out here.

0:32:010:32:05

Probably no light pollution at all.

0:32:050:32:07

So when you get the starry nights, they must be stunning.

0:32:070:32:10

-Yeah.

-Let's have a look upstairs.

0:32:100:32:11

The remote location of our Mystery House

0:32:140:32:16

brings with it so many plusses,

0:32:160:32:18

and I'm pleased that Feargha and Graham are embracing them.

0:32:180:32:21

It's hard not to.

0:32:210:32:23

On the first floor, there's a family bath and shower room,

0:32:230:32:26

servicing three double bedrooms, all with spectacular views.

0:32:260:32:30

Time to explore the master.

0:32:300:32:32

This is the biggest, the one they use.

0:32:350:32:37

It's got all the fitted wardrobes all the way around.

0:32:370:32:40

Plenty storage space. Great views.

0:32:400:32:42

-Good size.

-Yeah. It's gorgeous.

0:32:420:32:44

-It's one of those houses you think about when you're thinking about retirement.

-Yes.

0:32:440:32:47

Your own little bolthole.

0:32:470:32:49

-Yes.

-It is a bit crazy, because we are snug and warm inside,

0:32:490:32:52

but let's head outside and we can look at all the magical

0:32:520:32:55

green, wind and turbine apparatus.

0:32:550:32:58

-OK.

-And talk about the price.

0:32:580:33:01

The house has an integral garage, potentially a workshop for Graham.

0:33:030:33:07

The front garden is laid to lawn, and surrounded by drystone walling,

0:33:070:33:11

and there are seating areas to enjoy the view from every angle.

0:33:110:33:15

To the rear, there's the terrace.

0:33:150:33:18

The small stone building in front of the wind turbine was once used to

0:33:180:33:21

store explosives for the lead miners,

0:33:210:33:24

and now houses the working of the turbine.

0:33:240:33:27

Behind it, there's an extra parcel of land.

0:33:270:33:30

I won't keep you out here too long,

0:33:300:33:32

but what do you think the price tag for this one is?

0:33:320:33:35

I haven't got the foggiest notion, Alistair,

0:33:350:33:38

but I'm going to go with 445,000.

0:33:380:33:40

-Graham?

-I'm going to go slightly less.

0:33:400:33:42

I'm going to go for 425.

0:33:420:33:44

Very good. Well, in this case, the price may be a cruncher,

0:33:440:33:48

-because it's on at £495,000.

-495?

0:33:480:33:52

-Yeah.

-But it's a unique property, we had to bring you here.

0:33:520:33:55

Incredible, it's an incredible property.

0:33:550:33:57

So why don't you go and explore?

0:33:570:33:58

You can look at the turbine, you can tinker around in all the spaces,

0:33:580:34:01

and we'll find somewhere dry to reconvene.

0:34:010:34:04

OK, all right.

0:34:040:34:06

Great, thank you.

0:34:060:34:07

Our remote eco Mystery House has rung in £20,000 above budget,

0:34:100:34:15

although its energy-saving features mean it's a money-saver.

0:34:150:34:19

It's full of character inside, with a great country kitchen,

0:34:190:34:22

a sitting room with a fabulous outlook, and three bedrooms.

0:34:220:34:26

Outside, the property's isolated location

0:34:260:34:28

means it comes with 360-degree views of dramatic open moorland.

0:34:280:34:35

So cosy and so warm and homely.

0:34:360:34:39

-Yeah.

-And I don't know if it's just me being fanciful,

0:34:390:34:41

but it's got an amazing energy about it.

0:34:410:34:43

My first thoughts was,

0:34:430:34:45

unbelievably stunning situation

0:34:450:34:48

with the amazing countryside around it,

0:34:480:34:51

the hills, and a gorgeous stone property.

0:34:510:34:54

Beautiful. Just took my breath away.

0:34:540:34:57

As we have gone through the house, it's just, you know,

0:34:570:35:00

every room has been a delight.

0:35:000:35:02

As a house, it's fantastic.

0:35:020:35:05

It's cosy, it's warm, and it's the type of structure that we like.

0:35:050:35:09

Its beams, its stone and its big thick walls and log-burners.

0:35:090:35:13

Yesterday, I thought we'd found the one.

0:35:130:35:15

But coming here today, and being in this property,

0:35:150:35:18

it's definitely thrown a spanner in the works,

0:35:180:35:21

and we will have to give it some serious consideration.

0:35:210:35:24

Right, come on, then, let's get you somewhere nice warm and dry,

0:35:280:35:31

-and we can discuss all the houses.

-Great.

0:35:310:35:35

Northumberland's position bordering Scotland has seen it experience

0:35:380:35:41

many turbulent times.

0:35:410:35:44

One of the most fascinating iconic monuments has to be Hadrian's Wall.

0:35:440:35:48

Built in the second century in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian,

0:35:480:35:52

it was the northern frontier of the Roman Empire,

0:35:520:35:55

stretching from east to west coast, covering 73 miles.

0:35:550:36:00

Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site.

0:36:000:36:03

I've come to the remains of a Roman settlement in Corbridge,

0:36:050:36:08

close to the wall, to meet historian Dr Frances McIntosh.

0:36:080:36:13

I love Roman history, particularly in Britain,

0:36:130:36:15

because it was such a flourishing civilisation,

0:36:150:36:18

then it sort of vanished. Tell me about Corbridge.

0:36:180:36:20

Hadrian's Wall two miles north, we were here before Hadrian's Wall,

0:36:200:36:23

we quite like that claim to fame.

0:36:230:36:25

The Romans settled at Corbridge around the late 70s AD,

0:36:250:36:27

and there were successive forts right through till about the 160s.

0:36:270:36:31

-OK, so there's a big fort here...

-Uh-huh.

-Lots of centurions.

0:36:310:36:34

Are they sort of people from Italy who have come all this way?

0:36:340:36:37

No, at that stage,

0:36:370:36:38

most of the soldiers might not have been from Italy.

0:36:380:36:41

They were legions of soldiers and auxiliaries,

0:36:410:36:43

part of the invasion force, a real mixture.

0:36:430:36:45

And then the wall is built when?

0:36:450:36:47

122 - building starts, but it's finished by the 130s.

0:36:470:36:51

Mid-way through the second century AD,

0:36:510:36:54

Hadrian's Wall was permanently garrisoned,

0:36:540:36:56

meaning no need for a fort at Corbridge.

0:36:560:36:59

And that's when the fort fell out of use.

0:36:590:37:01

The civilians who were living in the town outside the fort move in,

0:37:010:37:04

and it becomes a fully civilian settlement.

0:37:040:37:06

When did it all come to its end?

0:37:060:37:09

Well, officially, the end of Roman Britain is 410,

0:37:090:37:11

so we know that Hadrian's Wall was de-garrisoned by that point,

0:37:110:37:15

and Corbridge the same.

0:37:150:37:16

It kind of slides into decline from the early fifth century.

0:37:160:37:20

And when was it rediscovered?

0:37:200:37:21

Because there are some impressive ruins you've got here.

0:37:210:37:24

The first serious excavations were in 1906.

0:37:240:37:26

The footprint of this town is one of the most significant finds

0:37:260:37:29

in British Roman history,

0:37:290:37:31

and provides vital archaeological evidence of how our ancestors lived.

0:37:310:37:35

-So exciting!

-I know, we've made it to the granaries.

0:37:370:37:40

-This is the granaries?

-That's right, yeah.

0:37:400:37:42

We're standing on the floor the dried goods would have been on,

0:37:420:37:45

but this raised floor allowed air circulation

0:37:450:37:47

and it also keeps it away from vermin - rats and things.

0:37:470:37:49

This is incredible. So these are original Roman flags?

0:37:490:37:52

Absolutely, yeah.

0:37:520:37:54

It's amazing how they built to last. This is 2,000 years old.

0:37:540:37:57

-Exactly.

-What are we talking about, in terms of the inhabitants?

0:37:570:38:00

Are the Romans now married to the British?

0:38:000:38:03

I think there's a lot more blurring of lines,

0:38:030:38:05

particularly on Hadrian's Wall.

0:38:050:38:06

We know lots of soldiers had families with them.

0:38:060:38:09

Some of them would have been local.

0:38:090:38:11

Here, we have got traders coming in from all over the Empire.

0:38:110:38:14

We know we had people from Greece living here,

0:38:140:38:16

people coming in from different regions to sell material to the soldiers.

0:38:160:38:20

It's a lot less black and white.

0:38:200:38:22

Just over half a century ago,

0:38:220:38:24

one of the most important Roman time capsules ever discovered was

0:38:240:38:27

unearthed, allowing a unique insight into those times.

0:38:270:38:31

In 1964, the remains of a wooden chest were discovered,

0:38:310:38:35

containing artefacts that became known as the Corbridge Hoard.

0:38:350:38:39

They're just some of the 34,000 pieces at the museum here,

0:38:390:38:43

too many to display all at once,

0:38:430:38:46

so Frances is going to show me some hidden treasures.

0:38:460:38:50

-This is actual Roman centurion armour.

-Yeah.

0:38:500:38:53

You see this bit here is curved?

0:38:530:38:56

That's because that part would have been near your neck.

0:38:560:38:58

Unbelievable that that's lasted so long.

0:38:580:39:01

You know, 2,000 years old.

0:39:010:39:02

Yeah, pretty much.

0:39:020:39:04

When you touch things like that, chills go down your spine.

0:39:040:39:07

What else have we got? Some jewellery.

0:39:070:39:09

This is a penannular brooch, made from copper alloy.

0:39:090:39:13

And it would've been worn up near the shoulder, to hold the cloak on.

0:39:130:39:17

They didn't have zips, you know, they didn't have Velcro,

0:39:170:39:20

so if you need to hold your clothes on,

0:39:200:39:21

these are the only things you've got.

0:39:210:39:23

Do you have any other favourite finds?

0:39:230:39:25

Yeah, one of the pieces is this little vessel.

0:39:250:39:29

So this is a Roman perfume or oil flask.

0:39:290:39:33

These flasks are very, very rare.

0:39:330:39:35

There are less than 20 of them in the Empire,

0:39:350:39:38

so we're really lucky to have such a great example.

0:39:380:39:41

-And this...

-Oh, wow. What's that?

0:39:410:39:43

It's a dodecahedron, so a 12-sided object.

0:39:430:39:46

It's a descriptive name, for its shape,

0:39:460:39:48

but nobody knows what it's for.

0:39:480:39:50

Lots of theories out there,

0:39:500:39:52

from candlesticks to predicting the time of the harvest.

0:39:520:39:55

He's quite chunky compared to the armour.

0:39:550:39:57

-Oh, yes.

-He's not very corroded. So he's made from copper alloy.

0:39:570:40:00

And it's in remarkable condition.

0:40:000:40:02

That is so wonderful that we don't know what it is.

0:40:020:40:05

-Yeah.

-It's like a mystery object.

-Exactly.

0:40:050:40:07

I think that's my favourite item ever. The dodecahedron.

0:40:070:40:11

-Yeah.

-Thank you so much for giving us a peek behind the scenes.

0:40:110:40:14

-Not at all.

-It's a real privilege.

0:40:140:40:16

-Glad you enjoyed it.

-History rocks, huh?

0:40:160:40:18

Yes, it does.

0:40:180:40:20

How fascinating to witness such a well-preserved

0:40:200:40:23

slice of Roman history hidden for 2,000 years,

0:40:230:40:27

giving us an insight today into a civilisation gone by.

0:40:270:40:30

So I've got Feargha and Graham inside keeping warm by the fire,

0:40:330:40:36

and let's find out which of the houses they fell in love with.

0:40:360:40:39

We are finally warm and dry.

0:40:450:40:46

Yes. Yeah, at last.

0:40:460:40:48

But it is part of Northumberland, bit of rain, bit of wind.

0:40:480:40:52

How has it been? Have you got a favourite?

0:40:520:40:55

-Yes, we do.

-Yes, we have.

-I don't think it's any secret.

0:40:550:40:58

House two, house number two.

0:40:580:40:59

-House two, yes.

-It was stunning, beautifully put together.

0:40:590:41:03

Fantastic. Everything we wanted.

0:41:030:41:05

As soon as I saw it, I liked the construction.

0:41:050:41:08

The stone was great, the garden looked fabulous.

0:41:080:41:10

And you've got the bothy. As I say, it had everything that we wanted,

0:41:100:41:14

and I can see myself keeping myself busy there for many years to come.

0:41:140:41:18

It did feel like a perfect fit for you two.

0:41:180:41:20

We worried it might be a bit remote, but that doesn't seem to bother you.

0:41:200:41:23

I didn't think it was remote at all.

0:41:230:41:25

I mean, in comparison to house three, it wasn't remote at all.

0:41:250:41:28

Nothing is remote compared to the Mystery House!

0:41:280:41:31

And what happens next?

0:41:310:41:33

We'd like to go back and have another look at house number two.

0:41:330:41:37

-And then make an offer.

-Make an offer!

0:41:370:41:40

I know, it's music to your ears, Alistair!

0:41:400:41:43

We felt at home straightaway, as soon as we went in to the front.

0:41:430:41:46

I don't think we are going to better it.

0:41:460:41:48

No matter how long we look, I don't think we'll better that one.

0:41:480:41:50

We're ready to go. I mean, we're mentally ready,

0:41:500:41:53

and it's just a case of now getting the stars aligned so we can move on,

0:41:530:41:58

and then start saying my prayers on the rosary beads

0:41:580:42:01

-that our house sells very quickly.

-I do hope that all the ducks line up,

0:42:010:42:05

because it's a beautiful house for you two,

0:42:050:42:07

and I can imagine you having a very happy, long stretch there.

0:42:070:42:10

Yes, I think so, too, so thank you very much.

0:42:100:42:14

It's been a great experience this week.

0:42:140:42:16

-We've loved every minute of it, haven't we?

-Yes.

-Yeah.

0:42:160:42:19

I'm so delighted that Feargha and Graham's house-hunt brought us up to

0:42:210:42:25

Northumberland. It's a wonderful county, even under summer rain,

0:42:250:42:28

and we don't come here half enough.

0:42:280:42:31

I could tell that that second house will be a perfect fit for them.

0:42:310:42:34

The minute I saw Feargha see the bothy, her eyes lit up,

0:42:340:42:37

and the same thing happened with Graham and that garden.

0:42:370:42:40

So I hope that their house sale in Croydon goes through smoothly,

0:42:400:42:44

and I hope you join us next time for more Escape To The Country.

0:42:440:42:48

And I'm thrilled to report that Feargha and Graham's offer

0:42:490:42:52

on house number two was accepted,

0:42:520:42:54

so, all being well and good, it'll soon become theirs,

0:42:540:42:57

and we wish them the very best of luck

0:42:570:42:59

with their move to Northumberland.

0:42:590:43:02

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

0:43:020:43:05

Wales or Northern Ireland and need our help, you can apply online at...

0:43:050:43:11

Alistair Appleton is on a house-hunting mission in the Northumberland countryside with a dynamic couple who are looking for a character stone property with holiday let potential for their £475,000 budget.

While in the county, Alistair visits the Roman town of Corbridge along Hadrian's Wall, and gets up close to some of the thousands of artefacts that form the Corbridge Roman Hoard, which was unearthed during the 1960s.


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