Jonnie Irwin and Jasmine Harman on who really wears the trousers when a couple go house-hunting

Jonnie Irwin and Jasmine Harman on who really wears the trousers when a couple go house-hunting

Jasmine: The very nature of the show means that we meet many couples who are having difficulty agreeing which country to buy in, but sometimes it can get even more complicated. Take Bob and Denise: she wanted a houseboat in Lancashire and he wanted a farmhouse in Italy. It was clear from the start that it would be difficult to reconcile these two very different goals, especially when neither was willing to compromise.

Jonnie: I must admit I was quite surprised when I saw the brief that week. I fully expected it to be the fella who wanted to live on something with an engine but maybe he had the Italian ladies in mind! Either way, it makes for an interesting househunt if couples can't decide on what they want.

Jasmine: This is why it is so important to sit down together and write up a list of everything you are looking for in a property, before you start. It is important that you understand each other's ideas, and accept what is a deal-breaker and what each of you are willing compromise on. For him, a shed, off-street parking or proximity to the nearest pub might be essential. While for her an en-suite bathroom, a gas oven or a south-facing garden could be at the top of her priorities. Of course we are totally generalising
here and there are exceptions to every rule. Having filmed around 200 episodes of A Place in the Sun: Home or Away?, I have learned that you can never second-guess what reaction you will get when you arrive at a property.

Jonnie: I certainly think the priorities have changed for men and women. When I first started filming some seven years ago, very often the lady would be discussing the interiors and the outside was very much the man's domain. Now when I see peoples wishlist there's often a requirement for a veggie patch or chicken coop for the Mrs – so much for us guys being the hunter gatherers then. And whilst we are outside, the first question I get from the man is how far back the garden or the land goes and where exactly the boundaries are – I suppose this goes back to the “an Englishman's home is his castle” saying.

Jasmine: Quite often, a woman will be hoping to get a feeling from a property; that indescribable something that makes a house feel like home (and also makes mine and Jonnie's jobs really difficult). Men can sometimes be more practical and if a property ticks all the boxes, they can't see why they shouldn't just go for it, even though their wife complains that it is soulless. Frequently, just when we think we understand them and have hit the nail on the head, they'll switch, and Mr Practical will become Mr Sensitive, and Mrs Emotional will become Mrs Realistic and we're back to square one!

Jonnie: One thing I often witness is the man's desire to knock walls down and talk about DIY projects that he'd like to embark on, which is often met with disdainful comments from his wife, especially regarding his ability and previous DIY “work”, or lack of it.

Jasmine: One couple that threw all of our stereotypes out of the window were Yorkshireman Ron and his wife Brenda who were house-hunting in Cornwall and Carcassonne in France. Ron also brought his (French) “spirit guide” along to help… while Brenda respected her husband's beliefs, she wanted to stay in Cornwall. What has also emerged, on the odd occasion when a couple chooses Home over Away, it is very often because the woman says it would be too much of a wrench to move away from family, and the thought of leaving children and grandchildren behind is too painful.

Jonnie: Yes, off camera I usually try to get them to imagine their grandchildren's faces as they wave goodbye – it normally gets them on side.

Jasmine: More than ever though, the lines are becoming blurred between what men and women want from a home abroad. It seems to depend more on the personalities of the individuals rather than gender differences.

Jonnie: I remember one couple, Stuart and Lynne Walder. Stuart wanted me to find them a house in the Peak District and Lynne wanted somewhere in Portugal. Stuart's choice seemed to be entirely based around his interests in outdoor sports, but with the strong will of Lynne and the beautiful weather that Jas was offering, I knew I didn't stand much chance. And frankly I was right. However, I like to think Stuart lost that battle but won the war, as we bumped into them at the recent A Place in the Sun Live exhibition and they are now selling the house that Jas found them and moving lock, stock and barrel to New Zealand, a mecca for outdoor and adrenelin sports.

Jasmine: I think that's an exception that proves the rule, as there is one thing I doubt will ever change: in the end, the woman always gets her own way. As the saying goes, he wears the trousers, but she tells him which colour! A woman can usually persuade her
other half to succumb to her wishes – probably because he knows what is good for him!

To find out how Stuart and Lynne Walder get on, pick up the December 2010 issue of A Place in the Sun magazine


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