29 May 2013

Escaping to the Country - the TV show that found our home

It was really interesting watching the airing of the TV show that found us our new home.
I'm pleased that I didn't come over as too much of a numpty - how many viewers spotted that un-ironed tablecloth of mine? *laugh*.
What is interesting are the several things that have changed since our original ideas... running a business for one.
That idea was soon dropped!

Our back garden 27th May 2013
Brief outline for those who haven't been following this diary: we had a bit of a Camelot generated windfall last year (on the opening night of the Olympics) and decided to use the money to buy our own home - preferably with land and stables. We decided on Devon, looked at a few houses but also applied to the house hunt show Escape to the Country for help - and were delighted to be accepted.

The front garden April 2013
The show with Us on it was aired on BBC 1 in late May 2013
Here is a link to watch again on-line Click Here

The front gate

So my thoughts on seeing ourselves on TV?

Not giving any spoilers away, but we bought the first house that we saw - I fell in love with it the moment we walked through the front gate. By the time we walked into the fabulously cosy sitting room, I knew this was going to be our home: but while filming we had to keep an open mind just in case something else cropped up. As it happened, the other two houses were not suitable - the mystery house was very nice and will make someone a beautiful home, but it wasn't right for our horses.

View outside my  study West Window
It seems strange typing this in the very same study that Jonnie Irwen showed us!

There was a couple of things wrong and several that have since changed. The budget was a bit more than what we eventually paid (actually a lot more!) and the house we bought has a downstairs shower room and loo, while the show gave the impression it had only one bathroom. Also the idea of converting the Old Dairy is a complete no-no (too small, too impractical & why would we want to pull such a lovely old building down?)

Kathy (and Adam - who didn't feature on the show) is quite happy in the "West Wing", at least for now. There may be alternative building ideas, or maybe they will buy a cottage in the village - that's for the future though. And interesting that at the time of filming (October 2012) Kathy and Adam weren't even an 'item'! Kathy had (more or less) just split from the guy she'd been with so was on her own...

the old dairy
...hence our original idea to find something that could provide a business opportunity for her - a livery yard perhaps, but when we looked into things it became obvious that we didn't really want that, and finding our home (which I call Windfall Farm on line) changed our mind completely. It is too quiet, peaceful and secluded here to even think of running a business in this lovely place. Plus the lane is far too narrow for extra traffic, so the livery yard thought was soon well and truly dropped. Rather pleased it was - I'm enjoying doing what we want, not running around after others!

our new dog, Baz, and the horses 
So we went on the show, bought the property and moved in on January 18th - on the day it snowed here in Devon!

The one frustrating thing about the filming was that every time there was a different camera angle the camera had to be re-positioned, so while it looks on the show that everything is slick, smooth and done in one shot, we lost track of how many times we had to walk into a room and exclaim, "Oh, how lovely!"

By the end I wanted to just be left alone to look round. I don't remember much of the second house - but this might be because it was not what we were looking for - far too modern and "tidy" LOL

And the shots in the car? Mostly we went around with Matt, one of the film crew team. I think we spent about 10 minutes with Jonnie in his car, filming that short sequence. They did give us a whole wadge of other properties that they had short-listed. Some were rejected because the owners didn't want to be on TV, some because they were not suitable for TV (i.e. not film-worthy I suppose) Some were a bit too dark or small for filming - all those sort of reasons.

I'm so pleased that Sue & Richard the previous owners agreed to the crew coming to our new home though - thanks you two - and thank you to the EttC team!

Windfall Farm, Devon, the whole caboodle is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us.

The house smiled when we walked through the door and hugged us. The atmosphere is one of welcome - the people who built it in the late 1700's and who have lived here through the years must have been happy, nice, nice, people - for they have left their energy footprint behind - one of laughter that has filled this house for several generations and still echoes round the walls.

Long may it continue to do so!

Mab at my bedroom window

The "Windfall" (our stream)

Training the Exmoor pony to pull a trap -
 who needs a car to drive? LOL


  1. I think our East Lothian farmhouse must be the Scottish equivalent of your Devon 'windfall'. It, too, hugged us when we first walked in and was built around the same time as yours. There is something about a door with a window either side and three above that makes a house seem happy. The kind of house a child draws for his/her home. I hope you enjoy it for ever and a day!

  2. Hi Helen
    I watched the show yesterday and hey, you and your family appeared very sympathetic. Hehe, I knew immediately which house you would choose, because I read your blog before :o). I can imagine that it was tearing on the nerves to repeat and repeat sequences again. I really would love to see an ETC behind the scenes or even a Making Of... but I guess they won't show those scenes to us.
    Anyway, I wish you and your family a happy life in your lovely home.
    Greetings from Switzerland

  3. that's an interesting thought Joanna - the typical "smiley" house that a child draws (yet actually there are not many houses like this!

    Thanks Alex - I think a 'behind the scenes edition would be great fun!

  4. I just saw the episode where you and your family found your dream home. And what a lovely one it is! Thank you for sharing your behind the scenes story of the show. I wish you lots of inspiration and happy years in your Windfall Farm.
    Greeting from The Netherlands.

    1. Thank you! We love it here in Devon (even when it rains!) We made a few changes since we first saw the property (that will be three years ago in October!) The most noticeable is that we've added an extension for Kathy and her husband (she got married March 2014) You'll see the result under The Build on the top menu bar.

  5. Thanks for your insight into the process of being involved with ETTC. I found it quite interesting.

    Best wishes, Dirk

    1. Thank you D.G. - very many happy memories for us!

  6. Anonymous3:31 am

    Greetings from Victoria, Canada. Today, December 3rd 2017 your Escape to the Country episode has just aired. I read your name on the spines of the books they showed and immediately found you here.
    You and Kathy were delightful on the show and if you had picked the second house (the not so pretty one) I would have thrown something at my TV!
    I read that you received a book of Ruby Ferguson's when in 1963 and it brought back memories for me. When I was a little girl in the early 1950's we lived in Jersey and my Mum worked as a cleaner and maid for Ruby Ferguson and I remember on New Years Eve sitting in the kitchen there while the cook prepared a feast for all the company.

    1. Thank you! That second house was very nice, but.... what bit of 'I don't want modern' did the organisers not understand? One of the things I absolutely love about the first house (which, of course, we bought) is the feel and continuity of the past. That's delightful about Ruby Ferguson - thank you for sharing! :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment your interest is very much appreciated! It will be published as soon as possible - depending on whether I am at my computer or walking up the lane, or being chased by the goose or helping mend fences after the pony has broken through YET AGAIN.... :-)