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This stretch of the Thames is home to one of the most famous regattas in the world.
Nathan and Mike both take part. And we'll give them a little push off. There you go, guys.
It's also royal, it was given royal status in 1851, that's another clue.
Find out where we are in just a moment.
In today's show I'll be helping a couple
from Germany find their very own corner of the English countryside.
After having rented for ten months, they're ready to make their first property purchase in the UK.
I love the thatched house, really I love it.
I'll be testing their knowledge on must-have country accoutrements.
What kind of sink is it?
And I'll introduce them to something they've never experienced before.
Today Escape To The Country has come to Oxfordshire, and here in Henley
every summer the crews battle it out at the Royal Regatta to get their hands on the Grand Challenge Cup.
Now, Henley is all about rowing, but Oxfordshire has lots more to offer.
The county's probably most famous for its university, founded over 900 years ago.
Its courtyards and colleges have frequently been used
as a backdrop for TV dramas and films,
but it's also the most rural county in the south east of England.
Both the Chiltern Hills and the Cotswolds have been designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
And, within easy reach of London and Heathrow, it's become a very popular place to live and work.
Oxfordshire has some cracking property, especially along the Thames, like here at Wallingford,
but it isn't cheap.
an average detached house here costs £385,000,
which is 40% above the national average.
So I'm hoping that our house-buyers today are ready to compromise.
Ninka and Andreas have recently moved from Germany to the UK because of their jobs.
They're currently in rented accommodation, and this will be
their first experience of buying a property in England.
The reason why we want to move to the country is we have a dog,
we have two cats, and we look for a nice rural setting.
And we both have very busy jobs, Andreas works in downtown London,
I travel a lot, we really want to come home and crash
in a really quiet and peaceful setting.
For both of them, it's the quirkiness of English country houses
that they've fallen in love with.
We look for a sort of period cottage. Open fireplace would be
very nice. I would love to have a large kitchen with an Aga.
It's a very British thing, and we don't have that on the Continent.
A table in there as well, to sit and chat.
We're looking for space in the living room, we've got loads of furniture.
That's a pretty hefty list of requirements,
and we haven't even got to Andreas's plans for the garden.
I'm very keen on cooking, so having my own vegetables,
being more self-sufficient, would be very nice.
And for Ninka old-fashioned tranquillity is top of the list.
This is really busy here, and we'd really like to get out somewhere
without this traffic and the buildings.
And we mustn't forget about their Weimaraner -
it's going to need exercise, so a good dog-walking spot is a must.
So they know what they're looking for, but will they be able to agree?
I think we're both very decisive, so when we met, after two weeks,
we decided to get married, and still we are, after seven years now.
And I think if property is what we're really looking for,
we make our decision quite quickly.
'Yes, we have the same tastes, so we tend to always up agreeing.'
There's never an issue with wanting totally different things,
cos we look for the same things.
Speedy decisions are good, and in a buyers' market
they'll be able to move quickly if they find the right property.
We're lucky that we don't have to worry about selling a property,
cos we're living in rented accommodation at the moment.
So if we find a house that we're looking for, three or four bedrooms,
large kitchen, large garden, rural setting, we'd be looking at a budget of £600,000.
Ninka and Andreas are looking for something that's quite ambitious -
they want a lovely rural property that's close to London,
but still has all that countryside tranquillity, and of course
the Thames Valley does have those properties,
but they're very expensive. I think our couple's German sensibilities
are about to get a shock from British prices.
With Andreas commuting to London, and Ninka working in Maidenhead,
transport links are vital, so we're going to focus our property search
around Henley on Thames.
In today's show, I'll be taking Andreas and Ninka to view
three properties that I hope will meet their expectations
of an ideal English retreat,
but I'll only reveal the price after they've seen each house.
And the final of the three, the mystery property,
will offer them a unique take on country living.
Along the Thames Valley there's always the option of a houseboat,
but if you're more of a landlubber, don't panic,
there are plenty of beautiful properties on the market.
Take a look at these.
If you've got just shy of £2 million to spend,
then how about this Edwardian pile just outside Henley.
It has five reception rooms, a large open-plan kitchen-diner,
and, if that's not enough, you've even got your own private mooring on the River Thames.
If you're looking for the quintessential English cottage,
this property near Sonning Common is on the market for £730,000.
It has three bedrooms and a wealth of period features,
including open fireplaces and beamed ceilings.
And west into the Cotswolds, there's this three-bedroom terraced cottage
in the village of Kingham.
This house will set you back just under £400,000,
and has a modern kitchen and a good-sized sitting room.
Welcome to the Thames Valley. Well, you already live here.
-Yes, we do.
-But you're going to put down roots, properly live here.
-That's right, in our own place, not rented.
-In lovely sunny England?
For a change! THEY LAUGH
Why this bit of England?
We love the countryside,
and it's not too far from London, where I work,
and it's not too far from Maidenhead, where Ninka works,
so that's a part of England we'd really like to live.
How much money have we got to spend?
Well, we have £600,000 to spend.
Are you shocked you have to spend that much?
Yes, it's quite different to the house market in Germany.
What could you get for £600,000 in Germany?
-You'd get a castle.
We've got some nice properties lined up, including a mystery house,
which as the name suggests is slightly mysterious,
-but, before the flood waters rise, let's go.
So we've got a budget of up to £600,000 to play with.
They're looking for a three- to four-bedroom period property
with a large farmhouse-style kitchen where Andreas can get experimental with his cooking.
A good sized garden is also important, so they can grow their own vegetables,
and the house needs to be pet-friendly.
You've got a very specific wish list about what you want in a property.
What are you expecting to get from the show?
Well, we certainly expect to learn a lot. Some things in English houses
that you don't have on the Continent, like, er...
We'd never heard about a Belfast sink, so what's that?
We're bound to come across some of those.
Yes, so do you also have a Dublin toilet lid, or something?
I think this'll be a steep learning curve for Andreas and Ninka.
Our first stop is the rather unusual sounding village of Nettlebed,
just five miles west of Henley.
Historically, the clay pits nearby meant it was an important place
for brick making, and today you can still see one of the remaining pottery kilns.
As well as a village post office, Nettlebed also has a pub
for meeting the locals. So let's see what they make of the house.
-Step on in.
-If you step over here...
this is the first property, clearly it doesn't tick all the boxes,
I know you don't want to be by a road, and we are by a road,
but I wanted to show you this cos it's the closest
we can get to Henley to get some of the things that you want,
so there's a bit of compromise.
We're 25 minutes from Maidenhead, good links into London, very good road links...
-And this is the property I want to show you.
Yes, I like the diamond windows.
You like the leaded windows?
-Don't like to clean them, but they look nice.
-They're a pain.
The property dates from about 1800, it's not massively old.
It was extended in two steps in the Victorian period, which we'll see.
-Most of it is at the back of the property.
-Yes, it's cute, it's nice
from the outside. As you said, well, the road might be an issue,
but let's have a look inside.
Let's be honest, the road is definitely an issue!
It's a busy road, you have animals, but these people have animals too.
-So shall we have a look inside?
Come through into the office.
This is the office?
This could be your office.
This was the oldest part of the house. It would have been a very simple, two-up-two-down cottage,
and so there's a lot of original features,
including this inglenook fireplace, we call it an inglenook.
Why...does that have a meaning?
Inglenook... It's nice showing you round, cos I have to explain all the things.
An inglenook is one of these sit-in fireplaces, it's basically where you
have a very deep hearth, and there would have been a fire and a flue,
with places to sit on either side, technically that's an inglenook.
What do we feel about the ceilings?
-Well, we're not so tall.
-Yes, this is good.
My father would probably knock his head.
I like it, it's cosy.
Yes, absolutely, it's cosy, I like it.
-I would change, maybe, put the carpet out and tile it.
This is the main staircase in the house, it's actually not original,
it's been put in later, but it's this lovely kind of awled wood,
-this hewn wood. Shall we go through?
Now we're moving into the Victorian part of the house,
1800 to 1830s, it's not actually such a big leap,
but you can see some nice details, all sort of mix and match.
This is a very sort of typical later Victorian detail in the door,
-it matches in the door sill.
-The door sill, yes.
And the ceilings are a little bit higher.
Yes, it's nice, but it's a bit tiny for a living room, isn't it?
This house is strange, there's a lot of space downstairs.
In fact just across the hallway there are another two rooms,
currently being used as bedrooms.
And don't panic, Andreas, this isn't the only sitting room.
This is great.
-Is this more what you were expecting?
It's a lovely space, where the family spend most of their time.
Lots of light coming in from this side, lots of storage,
lots of the original features which have been kind of brought out.
You can still see what we call wattle and daub,
the oldest way of building. You've got brick, and reclaimed beams,
and then there's this panelling, so they're all from different periods.
Yes, it's nice.
All sort of brought together in the last 20 years.
-That's a normal open fireplace, right?
-A normal open fire.
But this is what I think you want to look at, isn't it?
-This is fantastic, this is really nice.
-And it's got an Aga.
-Yes, a big one.
-A lovely colour as well, I like that colour.
Now, this is a country kitchen.
-Oh, yes, this is fantastic.
The floor is very nice, I love the wooden floor.
I think I could spend hours in there, hours.
-You're a big cook, aren't you?
-Well, yes, I love cooking.
-He'll do five hours just making the sauce.
-And don't get bored, while I can sit there and watch TV.
Well, I have a bottle of wine with me.
-It goes in the sauce, and in the cook.
-So this would be lovely for you?
And in keeping with expectations, there's even a Belfast sink.
I think downstairs is winning them over, but what about upstairs?
This is the master bedroom.
It's in the old part of the house, and you see the real bones of the old property.
You can hear the road.
Which is a drawback, but the size is quite good.
We wouldn't fit our wardrobes in here, and we've got loads of stuff,
so we'd probably use one bedroom as a dressing room and ironing room.
Which might be ideal through here.
OK, yeah, this might work,
sort of a big walk-in wardrobe!
Also upstairs, there's another good-sized bedroom,
and a family bathroom.
I think this needs some refurbishment, to be honest.
This has got tiles, and not carpet.
And not carpet, yes.
There's no carpets, yes.
And no mixer taps.
So you're particular about bathrooms?
I mean, it's very unpractical to have separate taps, because one is too hot and the other is just too cold.
-That's how you mix them.
I'd prefer it to be one!
'Aha! I'm starting to learn more about their German sensibilities.
'Mixer taps are an obvious must and carpets a big no-no.'
-Ah, the sun shines on the house by us.
The one nice thing about this property is, or many nice things about this property, is that
you have a garden that's not massive, so you don't have to do lots of upkeep,
but with these incredible views, so it looks like they belong to you,
but it doesn't. And also because,
just through this little path here, you come onto a public footpath
which takes you into a walk all the way through these woods,
so it's a great dog-walking locale.
Fantastic for the dog, yes.
You've got a space out there to eat outside during the summer.
-There's room for a veggie patch.
-Yes, plenty of room to do that.
And we don't have the time really
to do extensive gardening, so this is fine.
I'm sure you've thought about prices in England, and how expensive things are?
We're still recovering from the shock!
Still recovering. Here we go. What do you think this property's on the market for?
Bearing in mind that we're quite close to Henley, which is very expensive.
I think it would be at the top end of our budget,
about £550,000 to £600,000?
-Probably even over £600,000.
-It's 595. OK.
So just a shade under. But they've just dropped it from 650, so they're not going to go any under that.
So why don't you have a look around the house,
particularly the kitchen, then I'll meet you at the front and then we can push on.
All right, thank you.
That was good. I think they seemed to like the garden space,
and the kitchen is fantastic, and clearly, Andreas is a great cook.
It's just whether they can live with that road.
So for the asking price of £595,000 you get five bedrooms,
two reception rooms and a fantastic kitchen-diner with a range cooker.
There's plenty of space outside for Andreas's vegetable garden,
and views overlooking the fields,
but will that busy road be the stumbling block?
What concerns me most is the road.
Having a look at it more close inside,
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
That's a really nice fireplace.
-The kitchen is really just what I dreamed of.
-So we know now what a Belfast sink is.
I have to say, this is a real encouraging start,
and I'm looking forward to seeing the other houses.
Ah! Come on, guys, hate to bring you out to the road, but it's nice and quiet.
Let's move on.
When Andreas and Ninka find their rural retreat,
there's going to be plenty for them to discover,
and they haven't wasted any time exploring Wallingford,
a small market town between Oxford and Henley.
Because of its position on the Thames, it's rich in history.
William the Conqueror passed through in 1066, and a year later,
commissioned a castle.
However, today, not much remains as Henry VIII shipped the timbers
down river when he was busy expanding Windsor Castle.
Now all you can see is the ruins of St Nicholas's Priory
set in the old castle gardens.
It's beautiful, isn't it?
So Henry took all the timber, but he forgot that one.
Just downstream is the rowing museum at Henley on Thames.
It's a celebration of international rowing, housing the boats that
Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsett won gold in at the Sydney Olympics.
Amazing, look how narrow it is.
-It says they're all so big.
We all know Germany is famous for its beer gardens, beer cellars
and festivals, so here in Britain, what better way to relax
than sampling a traditional Oxfordshire bitter?
I'm not really a fan of British beer, but this is quite nice.
Yeah, and I don't normally drink beer at all, this is actually quite good.
Being new to the housing game here,
Andreas and Ninka are getting used to the peculiarities
of buying property in the UK.
Have you been having fun with English estate-agent speak?
Oh yes. We have to learn the language, really.
So when it's got loads of potential,
you know you've got a lot of work ahead of you.
It's a derelict wreck.
It's got loads of character, it's small.
Character, yes, very good.
-Ripe for redevelopment.
Our next property is in the village of Streatley, just over
the border in West Berkshire.
On the opposite side of the river is its larger neighbour, Goring.
Here, there are plenty of shops and restaurants,
but its real appeal is in its riverside setting.
Every year, it hosts the popular Goring and Streatley Regatta.
More importantly for Andreas are the easy rail links into London.
This is the property I want to show you.
As you can see, it's semi-detached, but it's a substantial property.
It looks nice.
The original cottage would have been these two frontages here,
and this is all an extension on both sides.
You're only looking at this part here.
It's a sort of Edwardian property.
I can recognise Georgian but that's about it.
Other than that, I do just likes and dislikes.
This style with the hung tiles
and the eaves is very typical Edwardian.
Nicely done. Shall we look inside?
'This is shaping up to be an historical adventure.
'Let's see what they make of the Edwardian era.'
Nice. Lovely tiles.
The tiles are lovely.
Very roomy with the high ceilings everywhere.
It is unusual to have such a big hall these days, because remember,
this is the modern part of the house,
so it was very luxuriously planned, to have all the space.
Lots of light, you've got this very striking three-turn staircase.
It's not cottagey, it's not lacy.
Let's go into the sitting room,
this is the original part of the house
although it's a testament to how well it was extended
that you don't ever feel one part is old, one part is new.
It is a bit dark with just the French windows there.
But it is a bit overgrown, so maybe that takes away the light.
Is this fireplace working?
It's an original fireplace, an original Edwardian fireplace.
It is working, all the fireplaces work throughout the house.
They might require a bit of sweeping. But they do work.
Then you have lots of storage, lots of bookcases.
That's good, we've got loads of books.
This is sort of a winter room, I'd imagine.
Sort of snuggle up and warm room.
The room where you'll be doing most of your living and cooking
-is on the other side.
This is a lovely country kitchen.
It is. With a range cooker.
A much more modern surround,
a Victorian Edwardian surround.
I like the tiles on the floor.
Quarry tiles, typical, these are new but these are exactly the kind
you'd have in an Edwardian kitchen.
Eating space here, they've used a pew from a church.
That is a really good size for a dining table.
It's a really nice size, you won't get this in Germany.
It's really nice.
A Belfast sink.
Yes. So many things to learn in this house.
Another great quirky English thing that we have here
and a very fine specimen, is the utility room.
-Shall we have a look at that?
There you go. Do you not have utility rooms in Germany?
Er, in farmhouses, you would have them, but not in all houses.
But you don't have back doors in Germany either.
That's really handy to have.
How do you get in the garden?
You may have French windows, but you don't have a back door.
Everything comes in the front door.
Everything comes in the back door in English houses.
Yeah. We noticed.
There's one more room downstairs that could be used as a study,
but I wanted to take you upstairs, as there's quite a bit of room.
'They're liking all the quirks in this house.
'Let's see what they make of the bedrooms.'
This is the master bedroom.
-It's a good size.
-It's a good size, yes.
Built-in wardrobe there. Lots of nice light coming in.
Yes, big windows.
There are four bedrooms upstairs, and the family bathroom.
-Shall we check on that?
What do you think?
The bathtub's got claws.
Ball and claw, have you not come across that before?
I've seen one in a hotel in Berlin once, but not seen it in a house.
It was very popular in the Victorian and Edwardian period, that style,
and this is a cast-iron enamel bath, it's extremely heavy.
Here we come to another brilliantly idiosyncratic bit of England.
-You don't get those in Germany?
Germans would say it's not well done, and bad insulation.
-It's to dry your clothes!
Genius. Genius. That's how we got our empire.
I wanted to show you this little room.
-It is little.
It's like a closet.
See, in British estate agent speak, this is a small double.
Next door is another child's room, a more reasonably sized double.
You could certainly get a double bed in here.
Could be a guest room.
Yeah, I guess so.
There's another almost the same size on the other size, a bit bigger.
You get a lovely view here.
-Yes, beautiful view.
Talking of views, there's a great view from the garden,
-which I think we should look at next.
Very brave having the Ming vases on the staircase.
Well, if the airing cupboard isn't enough to win them over,
I think the best is still to come.
-Again, you've got free views.
Isn't that great?
-It's quite a slopey garden.
But that does give you the lovely elevated views over the hills on the other side.
You'll have to mow uphill.
You'll have to mow uphill.
-No danger of flooding.
Absolutely. Very nice.
Very quiet. It's not a vast garden.
Obviously, it's got lots of children's equipment in
but you could easily get a veggie patch going here.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
What do you think its market value is?
Well, I think it might be on the market for 550 to 570.
I would think, it's a lot further away from London
or Henley, and also it's semi-detached.
So I'd reckon about 530.
Well, you might be surprised to find out that it's 595.
Could be a challenge for the owner, I think.
-To sell at that price?
Well, why don't you have a look around, it might grow on you,
it might not. And then we can compare notes.
OK, thank you.
It's funny, I thought they'd love this house, but it's quite English
on reflection, it's very Edwardian,
so perhaps that doesn't go down for the Germans quite as well.
This Edwardian house is priced at £595,000.
For that you get four bedrooms and a large kitchen diner.
The garden is south facing and has stunning views over rolling countryside.
All right. Nice patio.
Big one. Lots of storage space there.
The kitchen is wonderful.
It's really beautiful, I love the tiles,
I love the tiles in the entrance hall.
It's not as cuddly, it's more formal.
It speaks to me less individual.
I'm not so sure about the style of the house,
and I'm not so sure about buying a property where a similar one
is to the right and left.
It's nice, but it's not quite our style.
Ah, so not so enthusiastic about this one.
Never mind, onwards and upwards.
Meet Mulligan, Robin and Pepsi.
Ninka can't wait to take up riding again, so we've taken some time out
to come down to the Bradfield Riding Centre,
where Sarah McNicoll's busy saddling up the mounts.
Sarah, so whose horse is this going to be?
-This will be yours!
-What's the horse called?
-This is Tequila.
Hello, Tequila. Lucky girl. Or boy?
So Andreas and Ninka are coming to Oxfordshire,
and...you're a keen rider, aren't you?
Yes, I haven't ridden for a bit now, but I've ridden since I was a child.
-I've ridden once, which wasn't very successful.
We're putting Andreas on the nervous filly, the skittish stallion.
No, we have our old carthorse for you, Andreas, you'll be quite safe!
-I always wonder what they're thinking, horses.
-They look like they're thinking a lot.
It would be fabulous to know that. It really would.
-I'm sure they're thinking, "Get off!"
-Shall we do it?
-Yes, absolutely, let's crack on.
-Tequila, it's your lucky day.
'Andreas is looking pretty nervous, but I'm sure Sarah's schooling
'will put him at his ease, and I've got some tips as well.'
Fashion is always important when you're riding.
-One, two, three... and gently on his back, super job. Walk on.
'Andreas looks like he's got over his initial anxiety, and is sitting comfortably.
'A few laps round the school yard and, as it's known in horsey circles,
'I think we're ready to "hack out".
'The great thing about riding round here is that the Englefield Estate
'offers miles of traffic-free routes where you can trot away.
'How come I got the really short horse?
'All very leisurely, but now that Ninka's back in the saddle, I'm sure she'll be keen to step up the pace.'
Andreas has decided he's not going to join us for our trot today.
-He's not trot-worthy?
-So we'll just walk up there,
turn round, when you're happy we'll move forward to the working trot.
-If you just think to yourself, up, down.
-Keep your bum back?
Yes, just watch the arch at the front of the saddle, apparently. I don't know - but apparently!
'Poor Ninka, it looks like she got the skittish filly after all.'
Just look forwards, Ninka!
-It's all right!
-She just wanted to go for a canter there!
'Still, she's managed to get the hang of it.'
Good! Up, down, up, down, up, down.
It's been a busy start, and with the day drawing to a close, it's time
for Andreas and Ninka to head back to the hotel and discuss the
properties they've seen so far.
What do you think? The white cottage? I think it's quite nice.
The kitchen and the living room, it looked like the Balkan version.
Yeah, with the high ceilings.
It was really, really nice.
Lovely views out of the back,
with the footpath to the fields there.
It was quite noisy in the garden.
You do hear the traffic, yeah.
So what about the Edwardian one?
I think the setting's perfect.
Very remote, and cat proof.
The size of the garden...
The mowing uphill, or downhill might be a challenge.
That would be my job!
Technically, it had a lot of good things,
but it wasn't really cosy enough.
Let's see what we see tomorrow.
Yes, fingers crossed.
'Andreas and Ninka have recently moved from Germany
'and are about to buy their first ever house in the UK.
'They have a budget of up to £600,000,
'and so far have seen two very different properties.
'Coming up, we manage to impress Andreas.'
The whole place, the fireplace is really amazing!
'But he can't have everything.'
The range cooker is missing.
That's what's missing, yes, I knew you'd spot that!
'And the mystery house catches them off-guard.'
I love a surprise!
Yesterday, I quite was surprised you didn't like the Edwardian farmhouse.
What are you looking forward to today?
Not an Edwardian farmhouse!
-Hopefully some more cottagey...
-Yeah, some nice cottage.
-Something like that would be nice.
'I don't think our house hunters are going to be disappointed.
'Our next property is in the village of Cumnor.
'We've come a little bit further from Henley on Thames,
'approximately 28 miles.
'It's further from transport links, but being off the beaten track means that this village
'has a charm and tranquillity that Ninka and Andreas are after.
'The village is well served by two pubs and a local shop, so let's see what they make of the house.'
And this is the property I want to show you.
-We like thatched.
-Are you pleased?
-It looks really nice.
-If you step onto the lawn,
we get a better view of the actual history of the house.
It's a very old property, probably... I'm not entirely sure,
-but probably about more than 300 years old at base.
It was three workers' cottages, you can see from the three eyebrows of the thatch,
and each of those would have been a single one-up, one-down cottage unit for workers.
-This big bulging thing that you see in the side is a bread oven.
-So we suspect that the worker who lived in the middle was probably a baker.
-Shall we go?
So straight into the dining hall.
-That's the bread oven that we saw from outside?
Absolutely, you can see this is the original hearth,
with this incredible beam that goes across, which is probably 300-plus years old.
All the brickwork has been... A little bit of restoration, but is genuinely original,
and then that's the bread oven that you see at the back in the corner.
The whole place, the fireplace is amazing!
-I like the brickwork.
-Yes, the brickwork.
-Very much our style.
-Very much our style.
Good, this house, there's some things that you might want to do,
-particularly in the kitchen.
-Do you think?
What do you think?
It's fairly small.
-The range cooker is missing.
-That's what's missing, yes, I knew you'd spot that!
We're missing the range cooker. The kitchen is not as great as some of the others I've shown you.
I'd say it's a project, something where you could make your mark
and get exactly what you wanted.
Yes, I think this would be a project for me to do some changes here.
Great, let's look at the rest of the downstairs.
-You come next door, this is a transition room really, but it's a good space.
-It is, yes.
Nice and light, the doors out into the garden.
Is it too small to use it as a living room?
-Ah, you don't need to use it as a living room...
Don't need a living room, here's your living room!
-This is enormous! Very nice.
-Isn't it great?
So this is the new extension that they put on in the '80s, but as you can see they've taken the cue
from this lovely recovered beam, and then they've put these, which are obviously not old,
beams right across all the way down the room.
-You've got double doors that take you out into the patio.
-Yes, very nice.
-There's beams over the doors as well.
-I think this room would be very good to fit a lot of our stuff in.
-Yes, absolutely, I agree.
Good. You've got a little downstairs toilet and shower there. Let's take a look at upstairs.
'I think this cottage is really in tune with the English feeling they've been searching for.
'Time to get a little bit closer to that thatch, and check out the bedrooms.'
Here we have the master bedroom.
-It's a good size.
-Yes, it is.
-It's a good size, again you can see through the thickness of the walls, probably wattle and daub.
But it will be difficult to put a wardrobe in. But...
Well, there are three bedrooms up here, so let's take a look at the one next to us, smaller.
Have a little peak in here, it's not a huge room, but certainly big enough for a guest room.
-Yes, it's a really nice dressing room, maybe?
And this is going to be the answer to your study worries.
-This is lovely.
-That is nice.
-You could use it as a study or a guest room.
-Or a guest bedroom, but that means we'd have to put the study downstairs.
So do you think the inside space of the property works for you?
-It's very roomy, plenty of room.
Plenty of room, that's really good.
-And all the wooden floors and the tiles...
-..that's really good.
-And there's not too much carpet!
-I know you don't like carpeting!
-Let's take a look outside.
'This house is meeting almost all their requirements, but will the garden measure up?'
It's a pretty self-explanatory garden
in the sense that it's just this nice big square garden,
-a bit like the house really, it's quite easy to understand...
..it's not terribly complicated or higgledy-piggledy.
-No. I think the size is...
-The size is plenty.
There's a nice sort of corner for a veggie patch.
Looking back at the house, the big question is, how much is it going to cost?
Well, I guess it might be slightly over budget.
My guess is between 620 and 640.
-Yes, I would think probably maybe even 650, because it's very roomy, and with the thatch.
Well, this property is...
on at 595!
Oh, the standard price around here!
It's the standard price around here.
So just a little bit under budget.
-And of course, in the present climate, you might be able to make an offer
-to reflect what you might want to change, in terms of the kitchen, for example.
It's very, very nice. I love the thatched house, really I love it.
It's very, very English.
Yes, well, you see it in Germany, but mainly in the north of Germany.
Right, they've probably nicked it from us.
Have a look round the garden, particularly the patio, cos it's quite spacious,
-and inside the house, and we'll regroup afterwards.
This thatched cottage is on the market for £595,000.
It has three bedrooms, a large living room,
a dining room with original beams and an inglenook fireplace,
but is this going to be the one for Andreas, Ninka and their animals?
I'd like a door there.
-Yes, would be ideal for the dog.
-A doggy one?
When I saw the house first, I said, "Wow!"
From the outside, it's really, really nice.
The living room is really impressive, because it's much bigger than you'd expect.
I love the tiles and the beams and everything,
so it's really impressive.
It's got loads of space, and we have loads of stuff, so this will work very nicely.
-Hmm, we could be onto a winner here! Hello, guys.
I'm going to have to whisk you away, but big smiles, we like that!
One of the big attractions for Andreas moving to Oxfordshire
is the opportunity to indulge in his passion for fly fishing.
Ninka's a complete novice, but he's hoping she's going to catch the bug as well,
so they've come to Westlake to meet Ian Hockley, who's going to show them the ropes.
Right, we're just going to get you started today doing some very basic casting, on the grass,
just to get you started before we go fishing.
'Good on Ninka, she's got stuck in straight away. Let's see how she gets on.'
Pause, now we need to pause to allow that line to straighten out behind us, OK?
So, for someone that's not done it before, that's very good.
It seems she's a bit of a natural.
Now time for Andreas to show us how it's really done.
Whoops! You're stuck.
You've hit the fence.
-Boy, I thought my motor skills were bad, but you caught the fence!
-It's the catch of the day!
So that's enough practice, it's time to try and catch some fish.
Fashion first - they've got their safety specs on.
Ian's tied his artificial fly onto the hook, so what happens next?
We cast it out, and then we retrieve it in little twitchy movements,
so it looks like a bug in the water,
-and attracts things like it's something to eat.
To avoid catching another fence, Ian casts off,
and then it's all about patience, timing, and a bit of luck.
Sometimes they just grab it and you feel it, normally if they take it and just swim away a bit...
-That's it, we're in.
-Wow, it pulls really hard!
That's it, there you go.
There's your fish.
Well done, Ninka. What a catch, a beautiful rainbow trout!
OK, so you're not going to take him home, so we'll put him back.
-That was very good for a first attempt.
-Thank you. I didn't realise they were so strong,
it was pulling really hard, but I'm really proud, my first fish, it was really good.
I get this very strong impression that what Ninka and Andreas loved
about that last property was its simplicity and functionality, which makes me really intrigued
to find out what they think of the mystery house, because simple and functional...it's not.
So what have you learnt about English property in the last day and a half?
-A lot about different styles.
Which came first, Victorian or Edwardian?
We learnt our lesson!
Our mystery property is just outside the village of Longworth,
50 minutes' drive from Henley.
The streets are lined with stone houses,
and the village pub is the main attraction, serving traditional ales and food.
Apart from the local church, that's about it.
Come and take a look.
My God, what's that?
-Now, you wanted charming, English property?
-We've pulled out all the stops for you here.
This really is as charming and English as it gets.
-Look at the view!
-But it is fantastic!
-Lovely village, very quiet.
-And this is an extraordinary property.
We'll come to the caravan later...!
What do you think of the actual cottage?
-It looks nice, it looks old.
-It is old, isn't it?
It's not the oldest property I've shown you, it's probably around 1800.
-It's sort of a bit crooked.
-It's nice, it's really nice, yeah.
-I like it!
-Let's go in.
It looks a bit like a museum.
Like a gift shop, with a range cooker.
Yes, let me just talk you through this property. It's a mystery house,
so it's unusual. It belongs to an interior designer,
and it's full of her creations and her ideas, so it might not all be
to your taste, but you have to think through what's here
and look at the actual structure of the building, which, as you can see, is white.
-It's actually quite nice, we like white.
You've got a range in white, you've got a very deep recess there
with a huge fridge.
Throughout you've got this lovely white limestone tiling.
-Yes, they're pretty, actually, very nice.
-And a nice new ceramic sink, and a mixer tap!
-A mixer tap!
-Oh, we're thrilled!
I like the kitchen.
It's a bit tiny.
And everything is so clean in here. Did anybody ever cooked in here,
because it looks different when I've finished with cooking!
-Absolutely, yes. Shall we look at the living room?
-White? Did you say white?
-Quite white, yes.
-A few original features here, the original ceilings.
-Wood panelling. And the original fireplace, which was opened up and made deeper.
-And it does work.
-It does work.
-But it hasn't worked recently.
-Hasn't worked recently, yes.
-It doesn't look that off-and-on.
With dogs, that's really practical. You'll have noses all over.
That's true, in the mirror they'd be looking and barking at themselves.
The room itself's nice.
-Let's look at the rest of the ground floor.
-So you see, the limestone goes throughout.
-It's beautiful, yes.
-This is the downstairs bathroom.
-This is a characteristic of many English properties,
they have their bathrooms outside or downstairs.
Step that way a little...
Look at this!
That is great.
-That's pretty good?
-That is lovely, nice.
-Good for washing the dog?
I don't think she'll like that.
And, through here, I think you might like this feature. This is what we call the boot room,
for obvious reasons, because it's full of boots.
This actually was the laundry of the old building, because you see here, we've got a little fire here,
-and you would have had a copper which heated up the water, and you did all the washing.
But that's closed off now, I suppose.
-But you do have...
-What kind of sink is it?
Quite low ceilings, I can just about stand up.
Yes, well, we have no issue with that.
-This is nice.
-You've got this nice little feature fireplace, doesn't work...
-And beautiful views over the fields.
-Yeah, that's fantastic, yes.
Because you don't have an extra reception room downstairs, they've put the study upstairs.
-So it's next door.
-So they've turned this into another sitting room, but it could be a study.
How do you think about the layout of the rooms? Cos obviously they're not huge, and nor are they numerous.
Yes, that might be critical, because obviously even if you said, OK, we'll combine office and guest room,
-there wouldn't be room to fit everything in that we have.
-Yes, that's right, yeah.
-But would you be happy with that size for your master bedroom?
Yes, the size is quite good, but that's what you get in a cottage.
But it isn't, Andreas...
take a look behind you.
Is that more stairs?
This is a master bedroom suite.
Really, really beautiful.
No messing around going down to the shower downstairs, you've got your bathtub...
-What a bathtub is that?
-It's beautiful, it's really a designer piece.
And then the long, high... It's high and narrow,
-but it's still a beautifully snug master suite.
-It's very, very cosy.
Well, but from a practical point of view, there's no door in here,
and it's carpet...in the bathroom!
Oh me, oh my, yes, but this is the genteel bathroom, you see,
-this is more the sort of like... scented flowers bathroom.
-You'd go downstairs to do your dirty work.
-Shall we take a look outside?
'I suspect the designer chic is not winning them over.
'Let's check out the garden.'
If you're worried about where to put your guests, you can always billet them in the Romany caravan.
Hmm, I thought it was a hearse.
A hearse?! Everybody has to... This is the must-have country accoutrement.
-All right, OK.
-Andreas, where have you been?
-It's got a log burner inside.
-Oh, you're kidding?
-No, no, go and look.
-Look, it's literally got one in it. I wonder if it's working?
-I can't believe it.
Maybe we can have broadband in here... Checking e-mails, yeah?
The garden is pretty immaculate, like everything else about this property,
even the tread of the lawn, and you've got space here, formal lawn,
-and then around the side there's a sort of pergola seating area, so you could sit out.
You know, it'd be a brave man to dig this up and put a veggie patch here...
-You might do it, Andreas, you just might.
So obviously, it's an unusual property, it is the mystery house,
and I can see that you've had ambivalent feelings about it as we've gone round it,
but what do you think this sort of property is on the market for?
-It's difficult to say,
because obviously it's very high end, the way it's been done, so around 620?
I would guess more than that, I would say between 650 and 680.
you're not going to be surprised, this is in the market for 595!
That's a joke!
-It's just a fluke that all the properties are the same price.
-OK, that surprises me pleasantly.
What's interesting is that all the extras could be yours for an extra 55 grand,
-so if you wanted to pay 650, you could get the house and everything including the caravan.
Cart? How dare you!
I know you want to explore, can you just put your sunglasses back on,
-and go back into the white house, and I'll see you on the steps of the caravan.
-OK. See you.
It is an extraordinary property, and I have to say the location is stunning, and you know,
them with their dogs and cats, in a while it would become all scuffed up and nice and comfy.
So I think by now you know the price - £595,000.
For that, you get three bedrooms, including a master en-suite in the attic.
Downstairs there's a kitchen with a range cooker,
and this house has stunning views,
but will Andreas and Ninka be able to see past the designer styling?
I'm a bit...worrying about the space,
it's nicely done, but the size of the kitchen, it's quite tiny.
It's beautiful, I like the layout, but it's not very practical.
Yes, the flooring is nice, but you would see paw prints everywhere.
It's all sort of very nicely done. I'm not sure that it is us.
The outside's probably more us than the inside.
-This is a nice room. It's probably a bit too immaculate for us.
-Yes, I agree.
-Here we are, so you've seen all the properties now?
-Time for a little reflection, regrouping, maybe even some decisions?
Andreas and Ninka have now viewed all the properties,
and this could be the first house they buy in the UK,
so I'll give them some time to mull over all they've seen.
It's quite difficult to gauge which one Ninka and Andreas are going to go for.
If I had to put my money on any of them,
I think it would probably be the thatched cottage, but let's find out.
It's been very illuminating, showing you around
the magical British world of airing cupboards and Belfast sinks.
-Has it been as illuminating for you?
-Yes, learnt a lot.
-The first property I showed you was the cottage close to Henley,
but also close to the road.
-What were your thoughts about that property now?
-I think it's grown on us.
It's got this fantastic layout with the sitting room and the kitchen,
and you literally don't have to go on the road if you want to walk the dog, just go out the garden gate.
The next house we looked at was the Edwardian property,
the red brick property. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it was not our style, not quite our thing.
Obviously, the location was brilliant with all the fields around.
It was beautiful.
What about the house this morning? It was thatched, it couldn't have been more authentic.
-I have to say, when we stood outside, I said, "Wow."
The fireplace obviously is just breathtaking.
Kitchen, obviously not quite the size that we'd like.
In England, we like a project. I got the impression that
you just want to move in and have a house all ready?
Well, we're very busy, absolutely hopeless in manual work. I can change a light bulb, and that's about it.
How about the mystery house? No project there, you could move straight in.
Absolutely. Very nice, cosy rooms, but I'm afraid it's too small.
So, if you look overall at all the properties that we've looked at, is there a clear front runner?
You won't believe it, but we might revisit the first one.
Wow, that's a surprise!
-It ticks almost all the boxes.
There would be projects, but not major ones.
It's been a real pleasure showing you round, and I hope that you find the English house of your dreams,
and may it have mixer taps!
-Thank you very much.
Well, look at that, Ninka and Andreas confounded my expectations
and went for the cottage by the main road.
Well, this show's always full of surprises, and if you'd like more adventures in rural Britain,
then join us again next time for another Escape To The Country.
And remember, if you want to escape to the country and need our help,
please contact us through our website -
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