Coast couple's winter escape to feature on UK television
THE cold, dark winters of England have lured a Coast couple into featuring on a UK television show.
Alan and Gwenda Tudman's journey started in 2016 in a Cotton Tree cafe.
"One hot, sticky February morning I was bemoaning the heat and humidity to a lady sitting near me with whom I'd struck up a conversation," Mrs Tudman said.
She was surprised to learn the woman and her husband lived in England and were on their annual Cotton Tree escape of the UK's coldest months.
"She very kindly offered us the use of their house in the charming village of Woolpit, Suffolk, to escape the summer heat while they were in Australia next year if we were interested."
Mr and Mrs Tudman, 71 and 70, took them up on their offer early last year.
She applied to be on Escape to the Country, a show aired in the UK and Australia which finds possible new properties for people wanting a change in lifestyle.
The show was a favourite of hers and applying was an idea she had toyed with previously.
"I figured we were going to be in the UK for two months anyway so let's give it a shot... a long shot.
They didn't hear anything back from the production company for a fair while so thought they must have been overlooked.
"We were totally blown away when, a week prior to our departure we received an email from the Escape to the Country researcher to arrange a suitable time to take a phone call from the UK."
"They were curious to know about us and why we would be wanting to leave our own wonderful country to escape to the English country."
Mr and Mrs Tudman met a production crew after arriving in England and shot their introductory interview at their friends' Woolpit home.
Filming continued at a few other locations in the picturesque village including the local pub The Swan.
The footage was then taken back to producers to see if they wanted the couple to be on the show proper.
Again there was a long wait, during which time the Tudmans continued their holiday.
Confirmation of their success only came from the production company a week before they were due to fly back to Australia.
Mr and Mrs Tudman were put up with the show's production crew and host Jules Hudson in Manor House in West Brexington.
They spent a day filming a point-of-interest segment at agricultural school Kingston Maurward College before starting their property selection process.
The first of the three properties sourced by the show's producers was a modern townhouse in the village of Sutton Poyntz.
Mrs Tudman said it was lovely but a bit small and not in keeping with their criteria.
They were later taken to a quaint stone cottage in Martinstown, closer to Dorchester.
"This house had a wonderful stone fireplace, low ceilings, and impressive English country garden."
They were excited by its potential but concerned they might not be able to renovate the building due to heritage restrictions.
The next day they were taken to a mystery house in the village of Cattistock.
"We were walked up the street eyes closed.
"On opening our eyes, (we) immediately fell in love with the thatched cottage in front of us.
"Its charm extended to indoors and before the filming was even finished in the beautifully manicured English garden we'd decided to put in an offer."
It was a change of tune from when they had left thatched roof homes out of their search criteria due to difficulties involved in maintenance and insurance as well as their complete lack of experience with them.
But the vendors were not amenable to their initial offer.
Negotiations continued but they were unable to close the deal.
The property is no longer listed for sale but the Tudman's will return to Dorset in late January to continue their search.
They will also have a look in Yorkshire before spending a few weeks in France.
"Alan may yet achieve his dream of living in France where he can indulge his passion for wine and good food."
Mrs Tudman said the episode featuring her and her husband was likely to air on the BBC early in the new year. "It seems like it happened to somebody else now we are back home."