Escape to the Country

Those of you who follow my tweets know I’m a fan of daytime TV. My favourite shows are Homes under the Hammer and Escape to the Country. When I watch EtotheC I can’t help but hope the couple has a big wishlist. Preferably on a small budget. Because those wishes make for some pretty hilarious TV. Some of the couples do too, but since it’s too easy to bash the couples (remember the grandpa with the midlife-chrysler and the girlfriend young enough to be his daughter? Or the husband who wanted a big lawn, just so he could get a ride-on mower?) I thought I’d do a little post on my ten favourite wishes on EtotheC.

10. We want a cottage with big rooms (or high ceilings)

Let’s face it. How many cottages are there with big rooms? Not many, i can tell you. There may be a few, but most houses with big rooms are big Georgian houses or new builds. Same with high ceilings. You always hear couples ask for a nice cottage, but since the husband is 6’2″ high ceilings are an absolute must. Funny to say the least. There’s always a low beam or doorway that is a deal breaker in such houses.

9. We want land for horses/alpacas/goats

The age old land debacle. People think a bit of land is such a nice thing to have in their new home. They can have their horse close to home. Or they simply want to keep goats or alpacas or even pigs. Needless to say, they have absolutely no idea how to care for those animals. And they have no idea how to care for their land too. There have been couples who thought goats would do the same job as a lawnmower… Yeah, good luck with that! Of course, the idea of having a few animals is appealing, I would love to own a few alpacas, but I know I can’t care for them. But you will have to think very carefully before you make a decision about having enough land for the animals. When you have animals you can’t go on holiday, you need to have people there to look after your animals. So when a couple said they’d wanted to go to Florida for a few months each year AND wanted land for alpacas, cue me laughing.

8. We don’t want to be overlooked

Oh yes, neighbours overlooking your garden or property.  For many people this is a deal breaker. I, for one, can’t see why this would be such a bad thing. Why would anyone be so afraid to be overlooked? Do you run around the garden naked? Do you have lots of outdoor sex in your garden? Or are you the type of person who is always spying on his/her neighbours and thinks they’d do the same to you? I remember this couple who said no to a house because they could see another house, about 2 miles from theirs…

7. We want to be rural/ isolated

Couples from the city, who live in suburbia, who think it’d be lovely to buy a house that’s totally remote. And I really mean remote. They want to be miles and miles from the nearest village, because the peace and quiet is so idyllic. And of course, a road is a huge no-no. We wouldn’t want to be on a road! How could anyone think they’d want a road close to their home? I’m not sure if it was on EtotheC, but I once saw a couple that absolutely did NOT want a road close to their home. They went to see a house that had a 2 mile long driveway, but they discarded the house, because it was on a road. They then went to see a house that had no road leading to it. Only a pathway. The house stood on an island and it was literally in the middle of nowhere. Guess what their problem with this house was?! They couldn’t park their cars close to the house… No shit, Sherlock. I’m always amazed by the presenters, who keep their cool in such situations. I would have long since pulled my hair out and ran away screaming bloody murder. Although in the former case the presenter did suggest a helipad… But how can anyone think a very remote location would be lovely? Or am I the only one who thinks about winter and how are you going to get to the shops when the snow is 3 foot high outside?!

6. We want a stream/swimming pool/ lake

A stream to fish in. The husband loves to fish, so he needs a stream. Or a lake. A lake is fine too. But it must contain fish. And it must be a good size. A tiny, fast flowing stream is no good. Because you can’t fish it that. So the “stream” must be about the size of the Thames and it can’t flow to quickly. And of course it can’t flood. Because if there’s the slightest possibility of flooding the wife gets out her doom scenario book and doesn’t want to touch the house with a ten foot pole. And there are the couples that think a swimming pool would be great. Because, of course, the weather in the UK is always sunny and perfect for swimming outside…

5. We don’t like thatched/barn conversion/whatever you can think of

Then there are the “we don’t want/like” wishes. Perfect for a mystery house, of course, but why would you limit your search in this way? Maybe that thatched house is the perfect house in the perfect location. Or that bar conversion might just have that cottage-y feeling with the big rooms and high ceilings. Of course, you’ll never know, because you discarded that house before viewing it. (admitted, I did the exact same thing when we were looking for a home. I didn’t want wooden floors because in our old house there were quite a few rotten floorboards).

4. We want the perfect home

Aah, the elusive perfect home. “This is our last move, so the house must be perfect.” It’s always the wife that says this… first I want to talk about the first part of this sentence. Your last move? Are you sure? You think you can stay in a house when your really old and sick and disabled? These cottages don’t have much room for a stair lift of a downstairs bedroom, you know. Of course there are some really great couples who simply ask for a bungalow, so they’ll have all the rooms they need on one level. But the majority of people has no idea what they’ll be going through in the last phase of their life. And then the last part of the sentence. Your perfect home. With the emphasis on “perfect”. Perfect homes don’t exist. You make your perfect home. There’s nobody else that can do that for you. So you’ll never going to find your perfect home. You’ll only find a home that can be your perfect home with whatever you want to do with it. Maybe a complete renovation, maybe updating a kitchen or bathroom, or simply painting a few walls. But you have to do it. You make your perfect home, nobody else can!

3.  We want a business

Craigend B&B has a great blog post up on this subject. The couple always wants to run a B&B, as it’s so romantic. I, for one, start laughing already at the thought of them, sweating over a good old english breakfast at 7.30 AM every morning, wondering where it all went to terribly wrong. A business is a great way for getting some extra money in. But you need to make sure you know what you’re taking on. And I don’t think most couples realise what it’ll take to run a B&B or whatever business they’d had in mind. Of course, there’s a couple every once in a while that already owns a business and knows exactly what it’ll take, but most of them have no idea. The couple that was on EtotheC yesterday (repeated for the umpteenth time) thought they could run a B&B and have plenty of time to go hiking, pick up some hobbies and be involved in the local community. I wish you good luck. Or the couple that had lived for several years in a flat, somewhere in London, and thought they’d open a camping site. 20 acres was what they were after. They didn’t even have a clue as to how much that actually was… The presenter (I think it was Jules) quietly pushed them towards the idea of a few holiday cottages and away from the gigantic camp site idea they had.

2. We want to downsize

No, I’ve been watching EtotheC for quite some years now. Maybe even from the first series on, I remember the time when couples were sitting at the kitchen table with a laptop, while Denise or any other presenter showed 3 houses (or was it 4). They then had to choose which 2 they wanted to see in person. Anyway, at first I thought downsizing meant buying a smaller house. But I’ve come a long way since then, and I now realise downsizing means buying a bigger house on a smaller budget. Because lots of couples want to downsize. They say they want less bedrooms and smaller rooms, but when they see the houses selected for them, you can see their spirits drop. You can see the woman thinking “oh no. Only 3 bedrooms? Where will our 3 kids sleep when they come over?” And you can see the husband thinking “oh no. I don’t want to watch those TV shows my wife watches. I need a TV room for myself.” Remember the couple that wanted to downsize to a 2 bedroom cottage, but still wanted room to have 12 guests over for a dinner party? ROFL.

1. We want an 18 bedroom mansion for a 2 bedroom cottage price

This is my all-time favourite. People with a small/modest budget and a wish-list longer then the producer can fit on the screen. Then, when they’re viewing the houses the there’s not enough bedrooms, the kitchen is too small, the living room need a conservatory added, the bathroom needs at least twice this big, the garden is too small, the garage is too big, but okay, that could be a workshop. Or a bedroom for the eldest daughter, so she can have friends over (the eldest daughter, of course, is about 10). And when the presenter cautiously tells them that they might need to make compromises, they always come up with the same excuse… “I know the house we are looking for is out there, somewhere.” Yes, somewhere in Bulgaria maybe, just not in the UK, unless you are upping your budget by quite a bit.

I’m really admiring Jules, Alistair, Denise, Nicki and all the other presenters. For their courage, their sensibility and for not loosing their calm with the people who they are showing around the houses. I wouldn’t be able to do the job they do. I really hope EtotheC will be on for a very long time, with the outrages wishes these couples all have!

3 Replies to “Escape to the Country”

  1. Loving this blog post. Hope you don’t mind but I am going to post a link to this in the Jules Hudson Fans facebook group and twitter page for the others to read. It’s great that the new series is out right now. I think Escape To The Country will be around for a long time 🙂

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