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Property: Stepping Stones; One Couple's Property Story

EDNA AND Stephen Cotgrove have bought and sold five properties but started life together in London's Old Kent Road, when their weekly rent was 18 shillings: "The floor sloped and it was pretty derelict," recalls Edna.

In 1949, life took a turn for the better when they inherited a turn-of- the-century semi in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, valued then at pounds 750. With the arrival of three children, the couple had outgrown their home, which they sold in 1957 for pounds 1,300. They spent pounds 3,000 on a detached, 1920s four-bedroom property "up the hill". This needed renovation and the Cotgroves knocked down walls and uncovered fireplaces. "We were there for 10 years and it was a very happy time."

A new post for Stephen meant moving to Bath, though Edna was less than keen: "I had to be carried there kicking and screaming, and was adamant that I would not live in a house made of Bath stone." In 1967 they sold their 1920s house for pounds 7,500 and for pounds 9,300 bought a detached property with five bedrooms, half an acre and tennis courts - importantly for Edna, it was white.

By 1981 the children had left home and Stephen had retired. They sold their detached house for pounds 67,000 and, for pounds 75,000, "settled for a six- bedroom mansion with fantastic views" - and in need of renovation - on the edge of Bath.

In 1985, Edna retired from teaching and the couple decided to return to the east coast. They sold for pounds 150,000, doubling their money in four years, and bought a grade II listed house in Woodbridge, Suffolk for pounds 160,000.

They have been here for 14 years, but after a fall Edna has decided that the three-storey home may be impractical in spite of Stephen's kind adaptation: "a thick mat at the foot of the stairs". They are now selling for pounds 430,000 and are about to buy a nearby property crafted from the wing of a Georgian house.

Edna is pleased with their purchases and has this advice for today's buyers: "Whatever you buy, even if it is a house on an estate, make it different and special."

Ginetta Vedrickas

Those moves in brief

1949 - inherited semi valued at pounds 750, sold for pounds 1,300.

1957 - bought detached four-bedroom for pounds 3,000, sold for pounds 7,500.

1967 - bought five-bedroom house in Bath for pounds 9,300, sold for pounds 67,000.

1981 - bought six-bedroom mansion for pounds 75,000, sold for pounds 150,000.

1985 - bought grade II Woodbridge house for pounds 160,000, sold for pounds 430,000 in February 1999.

If you would like your moves to be featured write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be awarded for the best story printed before 31 March 1999