Having lived in Brighton and Indonesia, the couple were keen to live somewhere where there was a friendly community feel.
Eve, 61, grew up in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, while Bruce’s roots began in Weybridge, Surrey.
Eve said: “We met at the Drift Inn, Seaton Burn 29 years ago when Bruce was working here on a contract. We initially lived down south, but then got the chance to move to the North East. One of the most important things for us was to move somewhere that had a good community feel about it.”
It was only after flicking through the pages of homemaker that Bruce and Eve found their ideal home in an idyllic part of Northumberland.
Eve said: “We’d been looking at properties in Netherton and Morpeth initially. We wanted somewhere that was detached with a bit of land as we were upgrading. We picked up a copy of the homemaker and that’s when we saw Mill Cottage. I mentioned the property to Bruce as I used to go to Brownrigg Boarding School in the area.”
When Eve and Bruce visited the stone-built home they knew it was for them. “We knew it had potential when we viewed it. The village had a lovely feel and the house was in good condition and only needed updating cosmetically.”
Since moving to Mill Cottage, Boat Road, Bellingham, Eve has flung herself into the community spirit of things by becoming treasurer of the town hall among other voluntary roles.
Meanwhile, Bruce, 60, has concentrated on his work as an electronics engineer.
They have made some changes to the property over the years, including transforming a former workshop into a second lounge with patio doors, updating the bathroom with a walk-in shower and roll-top bath, and replacing the old electric fire with a log-burner.
The historic property is thought to have been built around 1785 as a working flour mill and its grounds extend to more than three acres.
A double-glazed doorway with stained-glass leads to the entrance hallway with doors through to the kitchen and one of two living rooms. One living room has two arched windows with a view over the countryside and river. The focal point of the room is a wood-burning stove set into a deep recess with chimney piece and spiral staircase to the first floor.
“The log-burner is lovely in winter and especially at Christmas time when the family have been here,” said Eve.
The second sitting room has a wall-mounted electric modern fire and double doors which open out to the rear of the property.
Eve said: “We have two lounges which is great when I want to have the girls around for wine. It means that Bruce can go and relax in the other lounge to watch the football.”
All together, there are five flexible reception rooms. The spacious dining room has laminate flooring throughout and exposed stonework to one wall. The property also has a conservatory, breakfasting kitchen fitted with modern units, and an office.
There are four bedrooms with en suites The master bedroom has double doors leading out on to a balcony.
Between them the couple have four children, who have all flown the nest now, and 10 grandchildren.
Eve said: “The location makes it easy for us to be able to fly down to Gatwick to see the children who all live down south now. It’s only a 40-minute drive to Newcastle airport, so it’s great.”
The property is on the banks of the River North Tyne and the gardens lead down to the river which is a haven for wildlife.
Fishing rights are owned by Ferryhill and District Angling Club with the owners of Mill Cottage being granted fishing rights for themselves only.
Close to the border of the Northumbrian National Park, Bellingham is within easy reach of Kielder Walk and Forest Park. Amenities include a middle school, swimming pool, golf course, butcher, and Co-op store.
Eve said: “We love Bellingham, but we made a plan and we always said that we would like a place in the sun when we retired. We are now looking at moving abroad. It could be Tenerife due to the climate, or possibly the south of France. We’re going to explore all of our options before making a decision, and we might even consider renting before buying anywhere too.”
Mill Cottage, Boat Road, Bellingham, Northumberland, is for sale through SmithsGore at £550,000, tel: 01434 632404.