Somerset Escape to the Country


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Somerset

Nicki Chapman is country property-shopping in Somerset with a couple who have already sold up and are desperate to invest £425,000 in their perfect rural retreat.


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Transcript


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"In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning."

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That line beautifully encapsulates a 300-year journey that brought

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which poet to rest here?

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Find out where we are and who that was in just a moment.

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On today's show, a resounding seal of approval...

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Hands up if we like this room?

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-Two hands.

-Without a doubt.

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..as I'm with a couple who've spent six long months searching,

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but are yet to find their perfect property.

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Have you had this reaction like this before?

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-No.

-No.

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Hand on heart, no.

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But, with our help, their luck might be about to change.

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-I feel rather emotional.

-Yeah.

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It's absolutely gorgeous.

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Today we're in Somerset

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and this is the Church of St Michael and All Angels in East Coker,

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the final resting place

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for the celebrated 20th century poet TS Eliot.

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Now, born in the United States,

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Eliot adopted England as his home

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and spent his life teaching and writing in London.

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On his death, he requested that his ashes were brought here,

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to East Coker, from where his ancestors had emigrated to America

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some 300 years before.

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So, let's discover why Somerset is where so many house-hunters end up

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finding their new beginnings.

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Somerset sits on the Bristol Channel coast

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in the heart of England's West Country.

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One of the least populated countries in the UK,

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it's home to England's first

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designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Quantock Hills,

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and the second longest stretch of sand in Europe,

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which runs from Burnham-on-Sea to Brean Down.

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In the north, Exmoor National Park

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extends west into the neighbouring county of Devon.

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Here, vast expanses of open moorland inspired RD Blackmore,

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who used the landscape as the setting for his novel, Lorna Doone.

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Scattered across the county,

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the picture-postcard villages and market towns are known

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for their character cottages,

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adorned with the warm hues of local hamstone from Ham Hill -

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from Somerton, which gave its name to the county, to Hinton St George,

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where schoolmaster Henry Fowler resided whilst compiling

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the Oxford English Dictionary.

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From language to literature, photography and architecture,

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it's easy to see how Somerset's varied landscape

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has inspired its residents and visitors for generations.

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Somerset's relatively unspoiled landscape presents a pretty picture

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of rural English charm, but it also has good transport links,

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making the county a popular spot

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to balance a quiet yet well connected country life.

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And compared to the neighbouring counties of Devon and Dorset,

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Somerset is also good value.

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The current average price of detached homes here

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come in around £335,000.

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Now, that's £36,000 below the figure

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for the whole of the south-west region.

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But that popularity, especially in the south of the country,

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means perfect properties are hard to find,

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as today's buyers have found out.

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Terry, a semi-retired educational adviser and football scout,

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met Annie, an exam invigilator,

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23 years ago through some mutual friends.

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They hit it off straightaway.

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Terry is unassuming but very loyal and loving.

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When we first met,

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he was already a member of a tennis club

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and invited me along, and I just took to it from then.

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Since then, we've been playing, we play regularly.

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For the last ten years they've lived

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in the Somerset market town of Yeovil,

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but six months ago decided it was time to sell up

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in search of a countryside retreat.

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We wanted a more rural lifestyle.

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We wanted to be able to look out of our kitchen window

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and see a better view than we had.

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It's wonderful, once you're able to just enjoy nature

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and everything that the country has to offer.

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Although Annie can work as an invigilator anywhere,

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Terry's job ties him to the colleges

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and football clubs in the south-west.

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So they've set their sights on the villages of south Somerset.

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When we were living in Yeovil anyway

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we used to travel out to the various villages, look for country pubs.

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It's quite nice to go to individual villages around

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that have got their own shops.

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After just two weeks on the market, their property sold,

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forcing them to vacate with nowhere to go.

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For five months they've been renting a friend's barn annexe

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and storage unit in North Perrott, in the heart of their search area.

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Well, we have actually got our main furniture.

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We've got our sofas and our dining table and our clothing.

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So we have to trip out to the storage containers every so often

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to rescue something that we need.

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I think what I'm looking forward to most

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is the opportunity to be able to find things again.

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Things that we've put away that I'm not sure where they are.

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And have an office space because wherever we've been,

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the space has been gazumped every time.

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So I'm looking forward to having...

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I don't know what you mean!

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As long as I have room to work,

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and play my congas, then I will be absolutely fine.

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While Terry will be content with a man cave to play his drums,

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Annie's focused on starting afresh.

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Finding themselves living in limbo,

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the couple are desperate to put down roots,

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but, even so, aren't willing to settle for less than perfection.

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We've looked since October

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and we haven't found the one that says, "Yes."

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No, that's true.

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-We've found a garden, but we haven't found a house.

-Yes.

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Or we've found a house and haven't found the garden.

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So we're looking for that complete package.

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Terry and Annie are happy to look at property

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anywhere between Frome, Dorchester and Exeter,

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stretching our search area from south Somerset to Dorset and Devon.

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With the pressure on, I'm meeting up with them to find out

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the make-up of their elusive dream property.

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Well, Terry and Annie, I have to say a very warm welcome to Somerset.

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So you've pulled us in to help you with this search.

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Has it been frustrating?

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Cos you've probably looked at quite at few properties, I'm guessing.

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Well, we must have seen about 20, would you say?

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If not more. Between 20 and 30, I would think.

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I think it would be about 20. Yeah.

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You've got to be realistic.

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-Yes.

-There are certain things that we are happy to compromise on,

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but there are certain things that we really want to have

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that we're not prepared to compromise on.

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Can you give me some details about your perfect home?

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What does it look like in your mind?

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Hopefully something with a bit of character,

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but we won't rule out new builds

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if the builder has been thoughtful about how they've put it together

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and they've given the building a bit of character.

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How many bedrooms are we after?

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Two, basically. Two plus.

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It would be nice to have two bathrooms.

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What about the outside space, the garden?

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-The garden...

-It is important.

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It's important to us because we both like outdoors.

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We both like gardening.

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We have a new grandson,

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so we're looking for space for Cooper to play

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and we'd just like to develop our own vegetables.

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-Yes.

-We'd like to do a lot more in the garden than we have done.

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Are we looking for an outbuilding for these congas and the drum kit?

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We're looking for an outbuilding for the congas, yes.

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Otherwise your neighbours aren't going to like you, are they?

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-OK. That's a passion, isn't it?

-Yes.

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If we've got somewhere nearby with maybe a tennis club,

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-that would be ideal.

-That would be perfect.

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Let's remind ourselves of how much we've got to spend.

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-What is our top budget?

-Top budget, really, is 425.

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We do have some rather splendid properties lined up to show you,

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which of course is important because I don't need to tell you that

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you're homeless at the moment, do I? Shall we get started?

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-Yes.

-Come on, then.

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For their maximum budget of £425,000,

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Annie and Terry would like an older property or one with character,

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with at least two bedrooms

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and a study or separate space for Terry to play his drums.

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The outside space is of equal importance,

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as they want a large garden for entertaining and growing vegetables,

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and they'd like to have a tennis club nearby.

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We've got some wonderful properties ready for them to view.

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At each one, I'll be asking them to guess the price before I reveal it

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and, as always, our final property will add a twist to our search.

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But this time, it's not so much the house that's the mystery,

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but that crucial garden.

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The first stop on our property tour of south Somerset

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is in the small village of East Chinnock.

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The village was historically known for a nearby salt spring.

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Large quantities of salt were

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produced and manufactured in the area until the mid 19th century.

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A range of amenities and independent shops are available

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just over a mile away in West Coker.

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But back in East Chinnock,

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Terry and Annie will be pleased to hear there is a popular pub

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just a short stroll from house number one.

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So may I introduce you to our first property?

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-It's beautiful.

-I like the thatch, yes.

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It looks wonderful from the outside, really pretty.

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The thatch, the ridge has been looked after,

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which is absolutely key to a thatch.

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-Yes.

-That was just done a few years ago.

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So you've probably, guesstimating,

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you've got about 15 more years on the thatch itself.

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Now, I'm pretty confident you haven't seen this cottage

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because it has only just come on the market.

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-Would I be right, Terry?

-Absolutely, we've not seen it.

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We would have definitely come to look at this.

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-Would you?

-Absolutely, yes.

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Are you intrigued? Would you like to step inside?

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-Very much so.

-We'd love to.

-Surprised and delighted.

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Good! What a start.

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Dating back to around 1640,

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originally this property would have been two separate cottages.

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Inside, it's retained a host of period features,

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which I hope will impress as much as the exterior has.

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Come on in. We're going to start off...

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..in the sitting-room-cum-dining-room.

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I love the fireplace. Isn't it amazing?

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It's not a bad sized room in actual fact, is it?

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-It's not, actually.

-It's an L shape.

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It feels comfortable.

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-Yes.

-There's actually another sitting room next door,

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which is of a good size.

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So two rooms, which, again,

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-when you're looking at properties of this age, is unusual.

-Yes.

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Joining these two cottages together has created a good sized family home

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with two reception rooms.

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The kitchen is part of a later extension,

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added around 100 years after the property was built.

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So this extension gives you this long kitchen

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with another dining area and the utility behind us.

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-Oh, yes.

-And a range as well.

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-Do you both cook?

-Yes.

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-Yes, we do.

-Terry's a very good cook.

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Are you? How's this kitchen for you, Terry? Is this workable?

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-This is workable.

-Chef's happy.

-Yes.

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Also on the ground floor is a bathroom,

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which would be useful for guests or visiting grandchildren.

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Now, the staircase is just up here.

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Ah.

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And on the first floor there are three characterful bedrooms,

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complete with beam ceilings

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and, although of typical cottage proportions, all doubles.

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There's also another bathroom,

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conveniently just across the hall from the largest of the bedrooms.

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This is the master bedroom. It doesn't have an en-suite,

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but there is a bathroom right next door.

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So you can negotiate with your guests -

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they use the downstairs bathroom and you keep that for yourselves.

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Yes, good idea.

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-Yes.

-It's lovely having the two aspects, actually.

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A lot of natural light coming into the room.

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For me, it's a little small.

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Yes. I notice that there is a wardrobe here,

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but maybe there's a possibility of converting another room

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into a dressing room. I don't know.

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Yes, definitely. Because you've got the three bedrooms,

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you only need two, that would be a fantastic idea.

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Your study has gone, sir. We have a walk-in wardrobe.

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-There we go.

-Sorry.

-The story of my life.

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The most important thing about the move is to get the house right,

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but also the outside space.

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-Yes.

-Let's see how we get on.

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Terry might think he's lost out yet again when it comes to his study

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but, outside, the large well-kept gardens are home to a shed,

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a stone outhouse and a garage.

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So there is hope for his man cave yet

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plus, with a vegetable plot and some wonderful views,

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I think it's a space that will really appeal.

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Now, I'm thinking this has to be one of the most idyllic gardens.

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I'm hoping you're going to agree with me.

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-Completely.

-Yeah?

-It is really, really lovely.

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Really nice size.

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Just morning coffee, lunchtime beer, evening gin and tonic - I'm sold.

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You've got it all worked out. How wonderful!

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So, top budget of £425,000.

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-Yes.

-What are we thinking for this, our very first property?

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I would say around about £415,000.

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Right. Terry?

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I'm going to say £410,000.

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The good news is, it's under that.

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£400,000.

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-Oh.

-Oh, OK.

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That's food for thought.

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-Yeah.

-Who fancies having another look around, this time on your own?

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-Yes.

-Love to.

-I thought you might. Be my guests.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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£25,000 under budget,

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this charming Grade II listed cottage

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is packed with period features

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and would give Terry and Annie an extra bedroom and a large garden

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with wonderful countryside views.

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It's on the outskirts of a village

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just a 15-minute drive from their current tennis club.

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The size of the garden is terrific.

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I think the fact that it has open views,

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you can see into the field next door, the pasture land.

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I just think it's lovely.

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Location is great because we both play tennis in a village

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about five, ten minutes from here.

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We've got a bridle track just outside the door.

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So it is, for me, a good location.

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I think that there will always be a compromise and I'm happy to think

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about compromise, but because we have quite a lot of furniture

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already sitting in storage,

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maybe having to get rid of just about all of our furniture

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to accommodate the size of the rooms upstairs could possibly be,

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maybe, a step too far.

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-Seen enough?

-Yes, I think so.

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Have you been won over by our thatch?

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Well, hold that thought, because we've still got more to show you.

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Great.

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The West Country is renowned for being the home of British cider.

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In Somerset alone there are some 32 farms dedicated to producing the

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bold, fruity flavours of the fermented apple drink.

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But one local baker has taken the leap into vegetable fermentation.

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Katie Venner has been producing sourdough bread with her husband,

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Gordon, from their home near Wellington for nearly ten years.

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But her enthusiasm for sour tastes and healthy eating led her to

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experiment with fermenting vegetables four years ago.

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As Terry and Annie are also keen to grow their own when they move,

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we've sent them to find out more.

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-Hello, Katie.

-Hi, welcome.

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Why do we ferment foods, then?

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We ferment foods because it means that we can preserve for winter the

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vegetables that we have in the summer.

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Fermentation is the process where bacteria,

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the live bacteria that are on plants, are broken down.

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It enhances the B vitamins, it makes the vegetables more digestible.

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The tradition of fermenting to preserve vegetables

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goes back centuries.

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In fact, Captain Cook famously took barrels of sauerkraut on his voyage

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to Australia in 1768.

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Rich in vitamin C, although unknown at the time,

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it was commonly given to sailors on long sea voyages to prevent

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and cure scurvy.

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Today, Katie is going to show Terry and Annie how to make her take on

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the German staple.

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Great. So, OK, so I'm going to show you how to make a simple kraut.

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Sauerkraut is the German word,

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but the kind of krauts that I make are a hybrid.

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So we're going to...

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..chop our cabbage up fine.

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I'm going to teach you how to salt your kraut by taste and we want to

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ensure that we have the right amount of salt to keep our vegetables

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really crunchy and to create the right environment

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for the lacto bacteria to grow,

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multiply and do their work to make our delicious kraut.

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I'm going to give you a cabbage here, both of you.

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So we are using a hard cabbage as the base for our kraut.

0:17:450:17:49

We're going to add some salt because the salt is going to draw the juices

0:17:490:17:54

out of the cabbage,

0:17:540:17:55

and we're going to do a kind of scrunching movement.

0:17:550:17:59

Our scrunching is getting the juices running as well.

0:17:590:18:03

Until we get it to the point where we can hold it up,

0:18:030:18:08

squeeze it and we get the juices running.

0:18:080:18:10

So that is just cabbage juice.

0:18:100:18:12

To ensure nothing interferes with the fermentation process,

0:18:120:18:16

Katie opts for vegetables that are free from pesticides,

0:18:160:18:19

so the bacteria can thrive.

0:18:190:18:22

While Annie scrunches,

0:18:220:18:23

Katie adds spring onion to the cabbage, followed by wild garlic,

0:18:230:18:27

then it's over to Terry to sample.

0:18:270:18:30

How does that taste to you?

0:18:300:18:32

-Quite salty?

-Quite salty, yes.

0:18:320:18:34

Quite salty. I can taste the salt,

0:18:340:18:37

but it's not enough for a fermented kraut.

0:18:370:18:40

So I'm going to add a little bit more salt.

0:18:400:18:41

-OK.

-Once happy with the balance of salt,

0:18:410:18:45

Katie packs the cabbage mixture firmly into a jar,

0:18:450:18:48

as airtight as possible, before she adds a layer of wild garlic flowers.

0:18:480:18:52

I really like wild garlic flowers, I think they look really pretty.

0:18:530:18:58

So the secret for good,

0:18:580:19:00

crunchy krauts is that you keep all the vegetables under the liquid,

0:19:000:19:04

away from the air. So we're going to do that by using our reserved

0:19:040:19:08

cabbage leaf here,

0:19:080:19:10

just to hold all the vegetables down then we're going to use the end

0:19:100:19:15

of the cabbage because that pokes up inside the concave of the jar top.

0:19:150:19:21

-Right.

-Then we're going to close it.

0:19:210:19:24

So here we are, so you can see all the juices now,

0:19:240:19:27

covering up the cabbage.

0:19:270:19:29

-It looks wonderful.

-It will be ready to eat in three to five weeks.

0:19:290:19:32

In the meantime, Katie has a selection of fermented vegetables

0:19:320:19:35

ready for Annie and Terry to try, including

0:19:350:19:39

South Korean kimchi,

0:19:390:19:41

and rhubarb fermented with ginger and cardamom.

0:19:410:19:45

So, Katie, what would you eat these with?

0:19:450:19:47

With all of these, you can eat them just like you would a pickle or a

0:19:470:19:50

chutney. You'd have them on the table.

0:19:500:19:52

For example, when we've got a soup, this is a cauliflower soup,

0:19:520:19:55

then I might add a little bit of this piccalilli to it.

0:19:550:20:00

And eating it with something else just means that you're not going to

0:20:000:20:03

-get the full thwack of that sour flavour.

-Mm!

0:20:030:20:08

It's absolutely delicious.

0:20:080:20:10

-You've got the crunch.

-Exactly!

0:20:100:20:12

-Which is lovely.

-And the texture and the flavour.

0:20:120:20:14

And that's because we've got the right amount of salt to keep the

0:20:140:20:17

vegetables crunchy under the liquid, all that time.

0:20:170:20:21

Katie believes the benefits of fermented vegetables are huge.

0:20:210:20:25

They are packed with all the essential vitamins of raw produce,

0:20:250:20:28

but are far easier to digest.

0:20:280:20:31

And with research telling us how important a healthy gut is to our

0:20:310:20:34

overall wellbeing, it's no wonder such veg is cropping up on menus

0:20:340:20:39

across the UK.

0:20:390:20:40

If it's OK with you, can we stay for lunch?

0:20:400:20:43

-Brilliant.

-We can carry on eating.

0:20:430:20:45

-You're very welcome.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:20:450:20:48

We're in the West Country with Annie and Terry, who have sold their

0:20:560:20:59

property in Yeovil, and, desperate to ditch their rental

0:20:590:21:02

accommodation, are searching for a countryside retreat of their own.

0:21:020:21:07

Armed with a budget of £425,000,

0:21:070:21:11

the pressure is on to find them their dream property.

0:21:110:21:14

Still to come, our mystery house reveals a sight for sore eyes.

0:21:140:21:20

-Wow.

-How fantastic!

0:21:200:21:22

-How's that for a surprise?

-I'm absolutely gobsmacked.

0:21:220:21:25

Gobsmacked.

0:21:250:21:27

And I take to the skies to enjoy a beautiful bird's-eye view of the

0:21:270:21:32

region. This is quite something to be seen, it?

0:21:320:21:36

Not bad, is it?

0:21:370:21:39

It's the second day of our house hunt here in Somerset,

0:21:420:21:45

and I don't think we've hit the mark quite yet.

0:21:450:21:48

Between us, we may have exhausted the search

0:21:480:21:51

in this part of the county.

0:21:510:21:52

So we decided to take Terry and Annie a little bit further afield.

0:21:520:21:57

But will our mystery house be a step too far, I wonder?

0:21:570:22:02

Interesting one, that.

0:22:020:22:03

But first, I'm going to show them a real rural retreat,

0:22:030:22:07

with views to match.

0:22:070:22:09

We're border-hopping into Dorset for our next property.

0:22:110:22:14

The small village of Seaborough is on the edge of the county's

0:22:140:22:18

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

0:22:180:22:20

The nearest shop is a ten-minute drive away in Broadwindsor,

0:22:200:22:23

but the closer village of Drimpton has a pub,

0:22:230:22:26

and is perfectly positioned for a number of the county's popular

0:22:260:22:30

walking routes. These include the local Drimpton trail,

0:22:300:22:34

and the long-distance Monarch's Way footpath,

0:22:340:22:36

which traces the escape route of Charles II

0:22:360:22:40

after his defeat in the 1651 Battle of Worcester.

0:22:400:22:43

But let's hope the next property won't send our buyers running for

0:22:430:22:47

the hills. Now for something completely different.

0:22:470:22:52

-Oh, yes.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:22:520:22:54

Yes. I like this.

0:22:540:22:57

-I like this a lot.

-It's great. It's lovely.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:22:570:23:00

And, as you can see, we are nestled on the top of a hill,

0:23:000:23:03

surrounded by borrowed views.

0:23:030:23:06

-Yes!

-Yeah, and it has a rill.

0:23:060:23:08

You're right. It's an unusual word as well, isn't it?

0:23:080:23:11

You know your gardens. You know your streams.

0:23:110:23:13

THEY CHUCKLE

0:23:130:23:15

So, that's a very strong start.

0:23:150:23:17

Let's continue inside.

0:23:170:23:19

This house is an interesting mix of period character,

0:23:210:23:24

with some more modern additions and styling.

0:23:240:23:27

The main entrance is via a conservatory to the front of the

0:23:270:23:30

house, which leads to the original entrance hall.

0:23:300:23:33

So we have two sitting rooms off the front door.

0:23:330:23:37

This is the smaller of the two.

0:23:370:23:40

So you've got the original floor.

0:23:400:23:42

-Lovely floor!

-Floor, yeah.

-Look at those flags, fabulous.

0:23:420:23:44

Do you like the idea of having two reception rooms?

0:23:440:23:48

Yes, that makes life more adaptable.

0:23:480:23:50

So we can decide whether or not we want to keep it as such

0:23:500:23:54

or change it, and maybe have it as a study or whatever.

0:23:540:23:58

We'll have to see how big the other one is.

0:23:580:24:01

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-The study word.

0:24:010:24:02

Hm. It's always been taken away from me.

0:24:020:24:05

-Has it?

-Yes.

-This would make a fabulous study.

0:24:050:24:08

-Yes.

-Good.

-OK, well, first room - so good, so far.

0:24:080:24:11

Let's see how we get on next door.

0:24:110:24:14

This is your second sitting room, leading on to a dining room.

0:24:160:24:22

-Characterful, isn't it?

-It is, it is.

-Bold.

-Yeah.

0:24:220:24:26

And I like the log burner.

0:24:260:24:27

It's a very strong house, with lots of characterful features,

0:24:270:24:31

like the chimney breast here, and the exposed wall.

0:24:310:24:33

-Yes.

-Which will take us to the kitchen.

0:24:330:24:35

So it flows, the kitchen, into the dining room.

0:24:390:24:42

Quite handy for when you are entertaining.

0:24:420:24:44

Yes. I do like this.

0:24:440:24:46

-There is a lot of storage here, by the look of things.

-Yeah.

0:24:460:24:48

So that's great. But, yes, we haven't been able to use any of our

0:24:480:24:52

-equipment for some time.

-What did you take with you

0:24:520:24:54

when you packed everything up from the kitchen?

0:24:540:24:56

Oh, the essentials. Knife, fork, corkscrew.

0:24:560:24:59

-That's about it.

-That's it. Knife, fork, corkscrew!

0:25:000:25:02

Corkscrew! The essentials.

0:25:020:25:04

The upstairs of the property should have more than enough

0:25:040:25:08

space for their belongings,

0:25:080:25:10

with yet more high ceilings and three double bedrooms -

0:25:100:25:13

one already in use as a study.

0:25:130:25:16

There's also a large, modern family bathroom

0:25:160:25:18

with separate bath and shower.

0:25:180:25:20

Master bedroom time.

0:25:210:25:23

Very nice.

0:25:230:25:24

That looks like a king-sized bed.

0:25:240:25:26

-Which...

-Win-win!

0:25:260:25:28

-The bed, yes!

-And look at the way it's facing - you wake up,

0:25:280:25:30

-and you've got the views again.

-Yes. Perfect.

0:25:300:25:34

-I'm happy.

-Good.

0:25:340:25:35

I'm happy if you're happy.

0:25:350:25:37

-Yes!

-May it continue outside.

0:25:370:25:40

It's a thumbs-up for the inside,

0:25:420:25:44

now to find out if the garden gets the go-ahead.

0:25:440:25:47

The rural setting means the outside space enjoys great privacy,

0:25:470:25:51

there's a patio seating area, surrounded by a raised lawn,

0:25:510:25:55

and plenty of space to build an outbuilding for Terry, if required.

0:25:550:26:00

So here is your back garden.

0:26:000:26:02

A nice space.

0:26:020:26:04

-Oh, yes.

-Entertaining space.

-Yeah.

0:26:040:26:07

Wonderful spot, looking out.

0:26:070:26:08

It isn't the biggest of gardens.

0:26:080:26:10

The front certainly is a lot larger than the back,

0:26:100:26:13

but with these borrowed views, you might not mind too much.

0:26:130:26:17

-Yes, well, I agree with you.

-It's the best of both worlds.

0:26:170:26:19

Now I'm going to have to focus your mind on the price.

0:26:190:26:23

-What do we think?

-I think I would go 390.

0:26:230:26:28

Maybe £405,000.

0:26:280:26:31

OK. Well, the asking price is...

0:26:310:26:35

-..a little bit above that.

-Ah!

0:26:350:26:37

It's at the top of your budget.

0:26:370:26:39

£425,000.

0:26:390:26:42

-Right.

-Right.

0:26:420:26:44

-OK.

-Would you like an opportunity to have another little wander around on

0:26:440:26:47

-your own this time?

-Yes, please.

0:26:470:26:49

-Yes.

-It's worth it, isn't it?

-Yes, definitely.

0:26:490:26:51

-Thank you.

-See you later. I'm going to sit here in the sunshine.

0:26:510:26:53

Lovely.

0:26:530:26:55

Bang on budget, this detached house would give Terry and Annie

0:26:560:26:59

the two bedrooms they asked for,

0:26:590:27:01

and options for a music room on the third,

0:27:010:27:04

or in one of the downstairs reception rooms.

0:27:040:27:06

The modernised interior offers plenty of entertaining space,

0:27:060:27:10

with yet more outside.

0:27:100:27:12

It's in a picturesque rural spot, just a mile from the nearest pub.

0:27:120:27:16

I love the facade initially, from the outside.

0:27:160:27:18

As soon as I walked in, I thought,

0:27:180:27:21

"Gosh, we've got high ceilings."

0:27:210:27:22

I must mention the flag floors as well.

0:27:220:27:25

In the sitting room, I love that.

0:27:250:27:28

Because then you really get a feeling for the age of the property.

0:27:280:27:32

I think the location is probably a little more rural than we would have

0:27:320:27:36

considered, but having said that, it's not isolated.

0:27:360:27:40

As long as there's a pub that's not too far away, then it's all good!

0:27:400:27:44

Are you happy, happy you've seen enough of the house?

0:27:450:27:48

Well, yes.

0:27:480:27:50

If we have to go, we must.

0:27:500:27:51

-Oh!

-Yeah, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes for us.

0:27:510:27:54

Good. Good. Let's go.

0:27:540:27:56

Just across the Somerset border into East Devon, Dunkeswell Aerodrome is

0:28:020:28:07

set in the heart of the Blackdown Hills.

0:28:070:28:09

Built in 1943, it was used by the US Navy during the war,

0:28:090:28:13

then later by the RAF.

0:28:130:28:16

In the late 1950s,

0:28:160:28:17

it was decommissioned and it became a popular civilian airfield.

0:28:170:28:21

Somerset Microlights was set up here by Jim Greenshields in 1985.

0:28:210:28:26

Today, he's invited me along to get a taste of the high life.

0:28:260:28:31

I am very, very excited about today.

0:28:310:28:34

-So am I!

-Good!

0:28:340:28:36

So, tell me, how long have you been flying for?

0:28:360:28:39

Cos I know I'm in good hands, but how good hands?

0:28:390:28:42

I think it's just coming up to 40 years.

0:28:420:28:44

-Is it?

-I first started when I found out that my uncle was in

0:28:440:28:47

the Battle of Britain.

0:28:470:28:48

And I thought, "Well, that's quite a big deal."

0:28:480:28:50

And I found out that my father flew after the Second World War,

0:28:500:28:55

and I also found out that my great-uncle flew

0:28:550:28:58

in the First World War.

0:28:580:28:59

So I thought, "Oh, well, I'd better go flying, then,

0:28:590:29:02

"because everyone else has been doing it,"

0:29:020:29:04

and it kind of started from there. That was when my interest started.

0:29:040:29:07

I'm just wondering - is it a hobby that once you start,

0:29:070:29:10

you just can't stop?

0:29:100:29:11

Very much so. I guess it's the old cliche about feeling freedom.

0:29:110:29:16

For over 30 years now, Jim has been flying microlights,

0:29:160:29:20

one- or two-seater aircraft, which weigh around 265 kilos at most.

0:29:200:29:26

Inspired by hang-gliding in the late 1970s and '80s,

0:29:260:29:29

microlighting became a more affordable way

0:29:290:29:32

for pilots to get airborne.

0:29:320:29:33

And there she is!

0:29:400:29:42

First impressions, it's much smaller than I thought it was going to be.

0:29:420:29:47

It's not a 747, is it?

0:29:470:29:49

No, no. What's it made of?

0:29:490:29:52

Mostly Duralumin, which is a very strong form of aluminium.

0:29:520:29:55

The sail is Dacron, that's the ripstop Dacron, incredibly strong.

0:29:550:29:59

And it's easy to handle when you're up in the air?

0:29:590:30:01

-Very easy to fly, yeah.

-So how does it actually work?

0:30:010:30:05

Well, it's tandem seating, so we're going to pop you in the back-seat

0:30:050:30:08

today, I'll be sat in the front,

0:30:080:30:10

and I'm holding on to the control frame,

0:30:100:30:12

which is exactly the same as a hang-glider.

0:30:120:30:15

So you're actually holding this?

0:30:150:30:16

Yes, so I'm sat, holding on to the bar at the front of it,

0:30:160:30:20

and then we are moving the control frame around to give us

0:30:200:30:24

-the desired effect.

-My goodness!

0:30:240:30:26

Microlights make up around 20% of the UK's civilian aircraft,

0:30:260:30:30

with more than 2,500 registered pilots.

0:30:300:30:34

-Put your left foot on the foot rest over there.

-Mm-hm.

0:30:340:30:37

And just lower yourself into the seat.

0:30:370:30:39

Do you know what, I've got butterflies!

0:30:420:30:44

To qualify for a National Private Pilot's Licence,

0:30:460:30:50

Jim tells me it would take around 35 hours of training.

0:30:500:30:53

And once you're qualified, the world is your oyster.

0:30:550:30:59

This is it! Here we go!

0:30:590:31:02

Woohoo!

0:31:020:31:04

See what I mean? It goes up really quick.

0:31:050:31:07

It goes up REALLY quick!

0:31:070:31:09

With the most incredible view!

0:31:110:31:13

Not only is he a first-class flyer,

0:31:160:31:19

but Jim also holds a number of world records,

0:31:190:31:22

including the most aircraft flown by one person in one day -

0:31:220:31:26

an incredible 43 planes.

0:31:260:31:30

We're just coming up to the edge of the Blackdown Hills here and then

0:31:300:31:33

we'll be turning right towards Taunton, roughly.

0:31:330:31:35

People talk about the countryside looking like a patchwork quilt,

0:31:370:31:40

and that's such an accurate description, isn't it?

0:31:400:31:43

It is at this time of year.

0:31:430:31:45

In the winter, it's kind of uniform green, and then in the summer,

0:31:450:31:48

it all goes very patchwork-y as they cut the grass.

0:31:480:31:51

That's good, just climb above the cloud.

0:31:530:31:56

As we reach a height of 2,500 feet...

0:31:560:32:00

This is quite something to be seen, isn't it?

0:32:000:32:04

Not bad, is it?

0:32:040:32:06

..Jim passes control over to me.

0:32:060:32:09

-Put one hand on there.

-OK.

0:32:090:32:10

Oh!

0:32:100:32:12

-One hand on there.

-OK.

0:32:120:32:14

-Yeah.

-Your mission now is to fly in a dead straight line.

0:32:140:32:17

Oh, OK.

0:32:170:32:19

-So, relax again.

-Nice and relaxed.

0:32:190:32:22

-How's that?

-Pretty good.

0:32:220:32:24

-I'll have a little snooze now, then.

-No!

0:32:250:32:28

You're my ears and eyes! You're my safety blanket!

0:32:280:32:31

-I'm enjoying this.

-Beautiful.

0:32:330:32:36

A microlight like this one could fly for up to five hours nonstop at

0:32:360:32:40

speeds of 70 to 90mph -

0:32:400:32:43

that's the equivalent of going from here to the South of France.

0:32:430:32:48

But it's time for me to head back down to earth and get back to the

0:32:480:32:51

pressing matter of property.

0:32:510:32:53

Oh, here we go!

0:32:530:32:55

That was smooth, sir!

0:32:580:33:01

That was smooth!

0:33:010:33:03

I don't know, I had my eyes shut.

0:33:030:33:06

SHE LAUGHS

0:33:060:33:08

-Wonderful. Thank you.

-Pleasure.

0:33:080:33:11

For our mystery house, I'm taking Annie and Terry to South Perrott,

0:33:150:33:19

a village they are very familiar with,

0:33:190:33:21

as it's just three miles from North Perrott,

0:33:210:33:24

where they are currently renting.

0:33:240:33:26

The picturesque village has a population of around 250 and takes

0:33:260:33:30

its name from the River Parrett that runs through it,

0:33:300:33:33

whose banks are lined with pretty 17th and 18th century

0:33:330:33:37

wisteria-clad cottages.

0:33:370:33:40

Our mystery house lies alongside the Grade I listed village church.

0:33:400:33:44

So the final house on our house hunt is always going to be a mystery

0:33:460:33:51

property, and here she is.

0:33:510:33:53

-South Perrott.

-You know it, do you?

0:33:530:33:55

-I know it very well.

-You know this village.

0:33:550:33:57

-Yeah.

-But we haven't seen this house.

0:33:570:34:00

-Have you not?

-No.

-Phew!

-No. Looks good from the outside.

0:34:000:34:03

I'm looking at the size of the windows and thinking they are

0:34:030:34:06

a good-sized window, really, for a cottage of this age.

0:34:060:34:08

So, I'm hoping it's going to be light inside.

0:34:080:34:10

Well, let's see if you are right, shall we?

0:34:100:34:12

-Oh, yes.

-For the final time, step inside.

0:34:120:34:15

This attractive, thatched cottage was built in the 1800s from local

0:34:150:34:20

hamstone, but as it's our mystery house,

0:34:200:34:23

there's more to it than meets the eye, which I'll reveal in good time.

0:34:230:34:27

For now, I want to show them the interior,

0:34:270:34:30

which has been brought right up-to-date,

0:34:300:34:32

a balance I think will suit our couple.

0:34:320:34:34

The one thing I like about all the properties we've shown you is

0:34:340:34:38

every single one is very different.

0:34:380:34:41

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:34:410:34:42

-This is lovely.

-Oh, what a great fireplace.

0:34:420:34:45

-The flagged floor is fabulous.

-Yeah.

0:34:450:34:47

-This is a good choice. I love it.

-It's lovely.

0:34:470:34:51

-It's a great size room. I love it.

-Yeah.

0:34:510:34:53

Right. OK, if you'd like to follow me.

0:34:530:34:55

-More flags as you come through.

-Yes.

0:34:570:35:00

Ooh. Nice hallway, yeah.

0:35:000:35:02

Oh, I love it.

0:35:020:35:03

-Do you?

-It gets better.

-I do.

-Yeah. It does get better. Great.

0:35:030:35:08

Well, you've excelled yourself.

0:35:080:35:10

Now, of all the properties that you've seen,

0:35:100:35:12

and we guess it's about 30,

0:35:120:35:14

-isn't it?

-Yeah.

-I think it probably is, yeah.

0:35:140:35:16

Have you had this reaction before?

0:35:160:35:19

-No.

-No.

-No, hand on heart, no.

0:35:190:35:21

There is no way that we've walked into and immediately both looked at

0:35:210:35:24

-one another and thought...

-Yeah.

0:35:240:35:26

This is... Excited. It's fabulous.

0:35:260:35:28

And it's right on our doorstep.

0:35:280:35:30

I know! How has this happened?!

0:35:300:35:32

-I don't have to sell you the area, do I?

-No.

0:35:320:35:35

-You know it well, you're locals.

-Yeah.

0:35:350:35:37

Annie and Terry's faces have positively lit up.

0:35:370:35:40

And to think, this property was right under their noses.

0:35:400:35:44

So do you want to tell me about this room?

0:35:470:35:50

I love it. I love the clean lines,

0:35:500:35:55

the window. Stable door, fabulous.

0:35:550:35:59

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-Utility.

-Yeah.

0:35:590:36:01

-Good-sized utility.

-Oh, that's a nice feature.

0:36:010:36:04

And at the end, you've got a downstairs cloakroom.

0:36:040:36:06

-Oh.

-Perfect.

-And there's enough space for two or three people to

0:36:060:36:10

work and you can still have a chat in the dining room while people are

0:36:100:36:13

-in the kitchen.

-Yeah.

-The space works really well.

-Yes, yeah.

0:36:130:36:15

And it continues all the way round,

0:36:150:36:17

so we're going to go back via the sitting room and then I'll take you

0:36:170:36:20

-upstairs and show you the bedrooms.

-Great.

-OK.

0:36:200:36:23

I'm thrilled our buyers already seem at home in our mystery cottage.

0:36:250:36:30

Hopefully, they'll find the upstairs just as comfortable.

0:36:300:36:33

There are two well-presented double bedrooms and a large, light,

0:36:330:36:37

modern family bathroom.

0:36:370:36:39

Your main bedroom.

0:36:400:36:43

-Is it big enough?

-Oh, it's big enough.

0:36:430:36:45

-Yes.

-It's big enough.

-It's a big yes from me.

0:36:450:36:48

-Absolutely.

-And me.

0:36:480:36:50

Hands up if we like this room.

0:36:500:36:52

-Two hands!

-Without a doubt, look at the space.

0:36:520:36:56

They've chosen not to put any wardrobes in here.

0:36:560:36:59

The good news is, behind that wall, because of the eaves,

0:36:590:37:02

they've made it into a cupboard. All along there is storage space.

0:37:020:37:06

-Oh.

-Good to know.

-I'm feeling quietly confident.

0:37:060:37:10

-Yes.

-I wonder whether I should.

0:37:100:37:12

Fingers crossed.

0:37:120:37:14

Outside, the property benefits from a single garage to the side,

0:37:170:37:21

which could be Terry's man cave,

0:37:210:37:24

and there's an enclosed garden to the rear,

0:37:240:37:26

with a number of raised beds,

0:37:260:37:28

plus a patio area to soak up the morning sun.

0:37:280:37:31

So, from the back door, you have

0:37:320:37:35

this beautiful,

0:37:350:37:37

pretty private garden.

0:37:370:37:39

Yes. Not overlooked at all, actually.

0:37:390:37:42

-No, you're not, are you?

-Do you like it?

-Yes.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

0:37:420:37:44

I would like it to have been a little bigger, but that being said,

0:37:460:37:51

the house is fabulous.

0:37:510:37:53

So maybe it's a compromise that maybe we are willing to reach.

0:37:530:37:58

-Yeah.

-I am so pleased you said that,

0:37:580:38:02

because it is the mystery house...

0:38:020:38:04

-Yes.

-..so there's always something else up our sleeve,

0:38:040:38:07

and if you'd like to follow me, I'll show you.

0:38:070:38:10

No!

0:38:100:38:11

Now, I think you should lead.

0:38:150:38:17

After you.

0:38:170:38:18

Just across the lane to the side of the property, behind the garage,

0:38:210:38:24

our mystery house comes with a separate and very special

0:38:240:38:28

mystery garden.

0:38:280:38:29

Wow. Look at that.

0:38:310:38:33

Oh. This is...

0:38:330:38:35

This is... This is with the house?

0:38:350:38:38

-Does this actually belong to the property?

-It does.

-Wow!

0:38:380:38:41

Oh, fantastic!

0:38:410:38:43

How's that for a surprise?!

0:38:430:38:45

-I'm absolutely gobsmacked.

-Gobsmacked.

0:38:450:38:48

-So now we've got the heart beating...

-Mm-hm.

0:38:480:38:50

-Yes.

-Nearly everything that you've wanted,

0:38:500:38:52

I'm going to have to bring you back down to earth

0:38:520:38:55

because we've got to put a price on our mystery house with this rather

0:38:550:38:59

special garden.

0:38:590:39:00

I would think about £435,000.

0:39:010:39:06

So £10,000 above your top budget.

0:39:060:39:08

-Yes.

-OK.

-I would say round about the same, 435,

0:39:080:39:12

440 even, because of the...

0:39:120:39:15

Maybe it's because I love it so much that I think I can't have it.

0:39:150:39:18

NICKI CHUCKLES I can hardly contain myself.

0:39:180:39:20

I'm going to get straight to the point. The asking price is...

0:39:200:39:24

£375,000.

0:39:240:39:26

-No way!

-For all of this?

0:39:260:39:28

-For all of this.

-You are kidding.

-No.

0:39:280:39:31

Well, that's it, then.

0:39:320:39:34

That's...

0:39:340:39:36

-I'm speechless.

-I am absolutely blown away.

0:39:360:39:38

-Absolutely speechless.

-Wow.

0:39:380:39:40

-I feel rather emotional.

-Yeah.

0:39:400:39:42

I know, I can see.

0:39:420:39:43

You're going, aren't you?

0:39:430:39:45

-Yeah.

-Ooh.

0:39:450:39:46

This is the house.

0:39:460:39:48

-OK.

-It's absolutely gorgeous.

0:39:480:39:51

Thank you. Thank you so... Oh, it's gorgeous.

0:39:510:39:54

You're allowed. You haven't had a home for many, many months.

0:39:540:39:58

-No.

-And hopefully we've just found you your new one.

0:39:580:40:00

-Thank you.

-Oh.

0:40:000:40:02

I think those tears say everything, so on that note,

0:40:030:40:06

-enjoy your second viewing.

-Thank you.

0:40:060:40:08

For a staggering £50,000 below budget,

0:40:110:40:15

this beautifully presented mystery cottage

0:40:150:40:18

has blown Terry and Annie away.

0:40:180:40:20

It's got two bedrooms as well as two separate gardens.

0:40:200:40:24

It's in a quiet village

0:40:240:40:25

just three miles from where they're currently renting.

0:40:250:40:29

We know the village, but we didn't know this house existed.

0:40:290:40:33

I immediately felt, "Oh, my word, I can picture myself here."

0:40:330:40:38

It was like a physical feeling, as though...

0:40:380:40:42

"We've found it. I think we've found it."

0:40:420:40:44

-That's how I felt.

-This is the one for us.

0:40:440:40:46

Once we walked through and into this fantastic garden,

0:40:460:40:50

I was in disbelief.

0:40:500:40:52

-Absolutely glorious.

-Yes.

0:40:520:40:53

-Great.

-Really wonderful.

0:40:530:40:55

Yeah.

0:40:550:40:57

I'm going to have to drag you two away, I'm afraid.

0:40:570:41:00

Oh, must we go?

0:41:000:41:01

Yeah, you do, and I should think you need some time to mull things over,

0:41:010:41:04

don't you?

0:41:040:41:06

Well, I was just going to make some gin and tonics!

0:41:060:41:08

-Sounds good.

-Yeah.

-Let's hit the road.

0:41:100:41:12

Well, emotions were definitely running high with Terry and Annie,

0:41:160:41:20

but I wonder - now they've had a little while to think about it,

0:41:200:41:23

do they still feel the same way?

0:41:230:41:26

Let's find out.

0:41:260:41:27

Well, this all looks very nice.

0:41:360:41:38

Terry and Annie, it seems like it's been quite a long house search,

0:41:380:41:43

doesn't it, for this next property of yours.

0:41:430:41:46

We've only come in at the tail end of it,

0:41:460:41:48

but I wonder whether there's been a conclusion.

0:41:480:41:52

It's been a great week because we've seen properties that have started

0:41:520:41:56

with possibilities,

0:41:560:41:58

probabilities, and now we've got to the mystery house and, for us,

0:41:580:42:02

we think that could be ours.

0:42:020:42:04

So much so that we've actually made an arrangement for a second viewing.

0:42:040:42:08

That is the best news. How quickly are you going to go and see it?

0:42:080:42:12

-BOTH:

-Tomorrow.

-Oh, yes.

0:42:120:42:14

We don't want to risk losing it. Yes.

0:42:140:42:17

The garden has been the clincher, really, there, with that property.

0:42:170:42:20

-Once we saw it...

-It...

-..it was a done deal, really.

0:42:200:42:24

I think exciting times ahead

0:42:240:42:27

and I can't wait to come back and visit you

0:42:270:42:28

-in your mystery house, how about that?

-That would be wonderful.

0:42:280:42:31

It has been fantastic.

0:42:310:42:33

-Thank you, both.

-Thank you.

-It's been wonderful.

-Yeah.

0:42:330:42:36

So, what a conclusion and I am thrilled for Terry and Annie.

0:42:400:42:46

We showed them such an eclectic mix of houses, and it just goes to show

0:42:460:42:51

it really does pay to push the boundaries,

0:42:510:42:54

especially with a garden like that.

0:42:540:42:57

I'll see you again soon on Escape To The Country.

0:42:570:43:00

If you would like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland,

0:43:010:43:04

Scotland, Wales or in England, and need our help,

0:43:040:43:07

why not apply online at...

0:43:070:43:10

Nicki Chapman is country property-shopping in Somerset with a couple who have already sold up and are desperate to invest £425,000 in their perfect rural retreat after months of staying with friends.

While in the south west, Nicki visits Dunkeswell Aerodrome, a former RAF airbase which is now a civilian airfield, where she takes to the skies in a microlight and sees the countryside from a completely different perspective.