"We decided to follow the renovation route to improve our prospects and create our own pension fund," he says. Older properties in surrounding villages offered choice and value, so for pounds 12,500 they bought a "charming and original" Victorian terrace-end in Olney. Restoration cost pounds 3,000, but they more than recouped this by selling for pounds 23,500 in 1983.
"With better salaries, we wanted a bigger project," recalls Nigel, whose interest in motorsport took them to Silverstone, Northants, where they bought Chequers Inn, a four-bedroomed property for pounds 39,995.
It was certainly a big project. "Slates fell off the roof nightly, and it had broken windows, local cats, wet rot, damp and woodworm. Mind you, there was a Christmas pudding in the larder, and beer, spirits and barrels in the cellar, from 1963 - the year it closed," recalls Sue.
Over the next five years the couple restored the inn, at a cost of pounds 30,000. Their son James was born there and Nigel took up racing: "We watched Grand Prix on TV, turned down the sound and opened the windows. Wonderful!"
In 1989 the couple paid pounds 48,950 for a flat in Malvern with views of the hills. In 1990 they sold Chequers Inn for pounds 210,000, after the property boom peaked. "With money in the bank at 15 per cent interest we waited for the house of our dreams to come our way."
Not everything was rosy. They lost pounds 4,000 on selling their flat in August 1991. But later that year in Devon they found their dream house, Bradford Manor. Sue recalls the day they walked through the empty Victorian house, built from stone and brick in 1868 (above).
Sue and Nigel paid pounds 200,000 for the 20-roomed house and three acres of gardens, now worth more than pounds 500,000. They have since had another boy, William. And they say that their sons will not let them move again.
Those moves in brief
1980 - bought Olney terrace-end for pounds 12,500, sold for pounds 23,500.
1983 - bought Chequers Inn for pounds 39,995, sold for pounds 210,00 in 1990.
1989 - bought Malvern flat for pounds 48,950, sold for pounds 47,500.
1991 - bought Bradford Manor for pounds 200,000, now worth pounds 500,000.
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