County Down Escape to the Country


County Down

Jonnie Irwin visits the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland, to find a three-bedroom modern bungalow, overlooking the mountains, for £270,000.


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Transcript


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Take a walk through these mournful mountains

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and you may just catch a glimpse of a mythical fawn,

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a talking lion, or even a white witch.

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In was this wonderful landscape that inspired a local writer to

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pen one of this generation's most loved children's books. Where am I?

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Well, find out in just the moment,

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as we embark on yet another fantastical Escape To The Country.

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Today, we're helping two retirees swap city suburbs for scenic vistas.

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Winter or summer, that is a fabulous view.

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But it won't be a walk in the park.

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I'm getting the feeling that you're not getting the feeling.

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If you know what I mean.

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So, will we ever deliver the perfect retirement package?

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-You're joking.

-Really? Where do I sign?

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Have you got your cheque book with you?

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Today, I've leapt over the Irish Sea

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to explore all that Narnia has to offer.

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Well, actually, I'm in the Mourne Mountains

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in County Down, Northern Ireland.

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You might excuse the confusion because it was this wonderful

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landscape that Belfast-born CS Lewis based his magical world.

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First published in 1950, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

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was one of a series of books from the Chronicles Of Narnia,

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which has been published in 41 different languages

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and has sold 120 million copies.

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But it's quite easy to see why such flights of fancy

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were inspired by these wonderful mountains

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that so famously and poetically sweep down to the sea.

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With the Irish Sea making up its eastern border

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and the counties Armagh and Antrim to the north and west,

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I think County Down has plenty to write home about.

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The 12 peaks of the Mourne Mountains are Northern Ireland's

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highest points and plans are afoot

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to make in the region's very first national park.

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These granite monoliths give way to a very rural county

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where both arable and dairy farming play a vital role in the economy

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and provide a near endless picture of rolling green pastures

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and large tranquil Loughs.

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An excellent river network,

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especially the rivers Bann and Lagan, helped shape the agricultural

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and industrial landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Giving rise to a textile industry that saw many villages and towns flourish.

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Such as Downpatrick, the county town,

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believed to be the last resting-place

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of patron saint St Patrick.

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However, if you come to the region looking for traditional Irish stone properties

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with slate roofs or thatches,

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then you may be in for a rough ride.

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Houses here are typically constructed from block

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and rough cast rendering.

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Farm houses and bungalows are not in short supply.

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As for the views, well, they could have been painted by the old masters.

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If you're thinking that a move over to Northern Ireland

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would be the cheap option, then think again.

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Prices here are pretty much the same as average prices

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in England and Wales, running at around £166,000.

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And if you think County Down might be your preferred location,

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then you've got quite expensive tastes.

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Prices can go up to about £200,000 for your average house,

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which is pretty much the same as Hampshire in the south of England.

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So, for all of that money, just what do you get? Let's find out.

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If you've got deep pockets,

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how about three properties for the price of one?

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Your main residence is a four-bedroom 18th century cottage,

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rebuilt and beautifully refurbished by the current owners.

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Guests can really make themselves at home

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in not one but two self-contained outbuildings.

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And it's all set in a whopping six acres.

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As you can imagine, it comes with a whopper of a price-tag.

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£1.5 million. Don't worry if your money won't stretch that far.

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This 19th century four-bedroom house near Crawfordsburn

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could be yours for just under £700,000.

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You get the best of both worlds,

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with plenty of period features and some very contemporary twists.

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It also comes with half an acre, so lots of room to sit back and relax.

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If you want to go the whole modern hog,

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then this executive residence could be just the thing.

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There's no shortage of space, with three reception rooms,

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a contemporary kitchen with all the mod cons and four bedrooms.

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It's on the market for just under half a million pounds.

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Well, there's something for everyone's tastes there,

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which should suit this week's buyers who are ready to kick back

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and make this Emerald Isle their home.

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Born-and-bred Irish Cailin Marguerite and her husband Roger

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have lived in and around Nottingham for 45 years.

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But now they've both retired, Marguerite is longing to return to her roots.

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I came from a little town called Rathfriland,

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which is in County Down in Northern Ireland.

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I came over to England when I was 17 and stayed with my aunt.

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So I really would like to go back to my family.

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I've got six sisters based around Northern Ireland.

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Nephews and nieces. And we would really like to be part of that family again.

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So with family ties pulling them to County Down

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and with their grown-up son now living in Australia,

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they've decided to swap their suburban four-bedroom home

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of the last 22 years for a country pad across the Irish Sea.

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But what exactly do they have in mind?

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The dream property would be a three-bedroom bungalow,

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set in a nice little piece of land, overlooking the mountains of Mourne

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or just overlooking some nice scenery.

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And there is loads of nice scenery in County Down.

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They'd like this to be their last move,

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so we'd better get the particulars spot-on.

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In my next house, I obviously wouldn't need four bedrooms, but three would be very nice.

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Marguerite is quite happy with her current kitchen in terms of style and size.

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But she does have some big ideas elsewhere.

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I would like a nice lounge and a separate dining room.

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I'd like to keep their cats out of that.

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Be able to close the door.

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A nice garden. Not too big of a garden.

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No, not too big, because I've got to look after it!

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Doesn't sound like Roger is particularly green-fingered,

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but that doesn't mean he wouldn't like outside space.

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This is my current garage here.

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It's a double.

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Not really big enough for what I am hoping to do in the future.

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I'd like to buy a little sports car or something similar

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to mess about with and tinker about with in the warmer weather.

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And this garage just isn't big enough for that sort of thing.

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Now, as frequent visitors to County Down to see family,

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I'm assuming Marguerite and Roger have a location in mind.

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The area we'd like to move to is a little town called Banbridge.

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A lot of my sisters are based around that area,

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so we would really like to be within maybe a 10-mile radius of Banbridge.

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Looking for somewhere fairly rural, villagey,

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on the outskirts of a town or a village,

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with neighbours not too close.

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Just somewhere in a nice rural position.

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One very important point is it must not be on a main road because we have the cats.

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So that's one property no-no,

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but are there any others we need to heed?

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We're not really keen on beams, that sort of thing.

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So the property needs to be fairly newish.

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We're not into pine ceilings and those very heavy sort of things.

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Basically light and airy.

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Well, before we can find them their country home,

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Roger and Marguerite need to know how much their current house is worth.

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So we've invited a local agent round to give them a valuation.

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This is a well-presented four-bedroomed detached family house, set in a good location.

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The area has good schools and good amenities.

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I value this property between £320,000 and £330,000.

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With that in mind, what's the final figure for the big move?

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My budget for the new property is up to £270,000.

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-Max.

-Maximum.

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So, Roger and Marguerite do not want one of these.

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They're after living on one floor.

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And the good news for them is the average price for a bungalow

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here in Northern Ireland is around £213,000.

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Let's face it, it doesn't sound like they're after the average bungalow.

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At least three reception rooms, three bedrooms

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and outside, room for a double garage.

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It sounds like they could be pushing their budget

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here a little bit. I think there might be a compromise ahead.

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With family in and around Banbridge, Marguerite has asked us

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to stay within a 10-mile radius of the town,

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which is quite a limited search area.

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We've managed to track down

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a fabulous line-up of single-storey dwellings to view.

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As always, I won't be revealing

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their asking prices until the end of the tours.

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And finally, there's a mystery property which will be a challenge,

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but will it be a step too far?

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Good morning, guys. Welcome to County Down.

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-Now, old ground for you, isn't it?

-It is indeed.

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-You come here quite a lot, don't you?

-We do.

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How soon are we looking to move over here?

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-As soon as we can.

-Really?

-Yes, absolutely.

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So, with a house up for sale, you've got your budget in mind of what?

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-270?

-270, yes. We can be a little flexible.

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Good. That's a relief. Because you do want quite a lot for your money.

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But there's a good variation of property

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that we've got to show you today. Of course, we've also

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got the mystery house to show you, which could be absolutely anything.

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-Quite excited about that one. Shall we get on the road?

-Yes. Let's go.

-Good.

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So, for a top budget of £270,000, Roger and Marguerite

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want a modern, three-bedroom detached bungalow

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in a semi-rural location.

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Their must-haves include a good-sized kitchen,

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a separate dining room, a living room and a sun room

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or family room, which adds up to an awful lot of reception rooms.

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Roger has his heart set on a double garage so he can buy a sports car.

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And they'd both like far-reaching views.

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They want all of this within a 10-mile radius of Banbridge,

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so the pressure is really on.

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We're kicking off our County Down property search

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in the countryside just outside Hillsborough.

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Which, at 13 miles from Banbridge and Marguerite's family,

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is stretching the commute just a tad.

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But Hillsborough is something of a showpiece.

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With its colourful high street brimming with gorgeous Georgian buildings

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and independent shops and eateries. It's also home to a stunning 18th century parish church.

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However, the bungalow we're viewing

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is two miles away in prime County Down countryside.

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So, our first property for you is this rather sweet bungalow.

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Very nice. Very nice indeed.

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I like the look of it. I like the windows and the front door.

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-First impressions good.

-I can see the scenery over there is going to be gorgeous.

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-Lovely scenery out the back by the look of things.

-Want to look inside?

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-Please, yes.

-Excellent.

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Built eight years ago, this bungalow is beautifully presented inside.

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It doesn't quite have all the space they've asked for, but there are options.

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So hopefully they'll see the potential.

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OK. The living room, or living area if you like.

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-Yeah.

-Very nice. Nice fireplace.

-Nice room, yeah.

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They put the white oak floorboards in themselves.

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Which, I think, helps with the theme of this room

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because it does go round next door. Let me show you.

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Oh, lovely. Look at that. Separate dining room, which is what I wanted.

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I think the real advantage of this room and this house at the moment

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-is you see that sundeck out there?

-Yes.

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Underneath that decking are foundations for a sun room.

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-That's good.

-Ideal.

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Because the foundations are done, the work has been started,

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that planning consent will stay with this property in perpetuity.

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So you can build on to that a sun room

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at any time in the future. Is that something you'd want to do?

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Definitely. It would be nice to have a flow out through the doors

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there into a nice conservatory and what a fabulous view it is out there.

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-Gorgeous.

-Fantastic, yeah.

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A lot of this house I think benefits from fantastic views.

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This isn't the only room that uses them.

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Let me take you to the kitchen.

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Pretty modern kitchen.

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-Very nice. Good size. Eating kitchen.

-Ideal.

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It's a lovely kitchen. I like the flooring.

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So you wouldn't change it? Kitchens are very personal, aren't they?

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Ideal looking out over that lovely view.

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You would be getting a lot of that view in, Roger,

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because that's where the washing up's done.

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-That's my job, definitely.

-No dishwasher?

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I was keeping that quiet! There is an integrated dishwasher as well, if you wanted to give him a day off.

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I like the cooker range. I do a lot of the cooking.

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That's a lovely big cooker.

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-Next door you've got a good size utility room.

-Yes.

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Fabulous. That's great.

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You've got a door there going straight out to the garden as well.

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-That's where my cats will go.

-Happy so far?

-Absolutely.

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-Let's keep looking round, shall we?

-Yes.

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'So, with a big thumbs-up for the kitchen, it's so far so good.

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'Plus this property comes with the must-have three bedrooms too.

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'Off the hallway is a good-sized double guestroom-cum-study and there's a single bedroom.'

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OK. Just quick peek into this bathroom. What do we think?

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Very nice. Very clean.

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-Separate shower. That's good.

-Like the tiles.

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Now, I'm not going to wow you with en-suites.

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I'm sorry. This is your only bathroom. Will it suffice?

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-This is big enough.

-I would prefer another one.

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It's big enough for just the two of us anyway.

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OK, yeah. Let's see what you think of the master bedroom. Right.

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OK, so the master bedroom.

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Very nice.

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-Lovely size.

-Ideal size.

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Now, what about when you wake up every morning?

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Winter or summer, that is a fabulous view.

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It's very special. Very special.

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'I'd say that's a thumbs up all round, and I can't see the outside space disappointing.

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'The property sits on a half acre plot in all, but for once I'm hoping that won't be too big.'

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Well, isn't this lovely out here.

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-Beautiful.

-This is absolutely fabulous.

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-This is ideal.

-Lovely size.

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Not too big. I'm not that much into gardening, but I do like a nice lawn.

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Well, I know what you are into, Roger, and that's your motor car.

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-I am.

-Now that is not a shed, that, believe it or not, is a garage.

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-OK, yes.

-My own thoughts were that you would probably put

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a garden shed to the back of it, get all the garden stuff out of there,

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and that becomes Roger's domain, where Marguerite never shall step.

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-My little kingdom.

-So, how much does a house like this cost, I wonder?

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Very, very difficult to value.

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I would go for 259.

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I think I'd go slightly less.

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I think I'd go 249,950.

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Well, it's just been reduced to 225.

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-Really?

-Very good. Very good.

-That's very good. That's good value.

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And you get these fantastic views.

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-Yes.

-Yes. Can't be bad.

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The views are worth a bob or two, aren't they.

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Well, now it's your time to have a scoot around here on your own.

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Look into all the rooms and think, you know, if your furniture will fit,

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-and obviously you'll want to have a scoot in that garage.

-I will, yes.

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I'll catch you in a bit.

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What a great start. Under budget at £225,000,

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Roger and Marguerite would have £45,000 in spare change

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to tackle any work, like adding that sun room.

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After that, there would be little to do, as it's superbly finished

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and comes with a must-have three bedrooms.

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A good size kitchen.

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A separate dining room leading off the living room

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and the views are unbeatable.

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This move is a downsize for them, but will this bungalow be

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big enough to fit all of Marguerite's visiting family?

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Oh, it's a little on the small side really.

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I couldn't get three cars in here. You'd struggle to get one.

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You're not going to have three cars!

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I love the location, I think it's absolutely fabulous.

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You couldn't have chose a much better location.

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The views are stunning. Stunning.

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It's a lovely room, Rog, but I don't think our furniture would fit in here, do you?

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No. Looking round, the size of our three-piece suite would drown the rooms.

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It would. The other thing is when all the family come down, there's no way, there really isn't enough room.

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-How did you get on?

-Very good, thank you.

-Very good.

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-Yes.

-Had a good look around?

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-Very good look around.

-We have, yes.

-Good.

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Let's hit the road, shall we? OK.

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Farming has been big business in County Down for centuries.

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However, back in the 17th century one specific crop changed

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both the physical and economic landscape of this region for good.

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The crop was flax, the raw material in linen.

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When an English bill was passed in 1699 banning the export of wool,

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punishable by death, the Lord Deputy of Ireland encouraged farmers to swap sheep

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and arable crops for flax, creating an entire new textile industry which boomed for well over 200 years.

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Marguerite and Roger know the area very well, but they know nothing of the origins of the linen trade.

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So to find out more, they headed to a mill museum at Dromore,

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and met Eugene McColville whose family have milled flax for over three generations.

0:18:000:18:05

Counties Down and Antrim and Tyrone, there was mills everywhere, but this mill of ours here

0:18:090:18:15

was a typical mill of what would have been in those days.

0:18:150:18:19

-How many people did you employ?

-Oh, my late father employed actually over 50 workers.

0:18:190:18:25

-Really?

-At all the various stages of flax.

0:18:250:18:27

-At this mill?

-At this mill and the other mill across the road.

0:18:270:18:32

Although the industry had all but declined by the mid-1900s, thanks

0:18:320:18:36

to the advent of artificial fibres, in the 18th and 19th centuries it accounted for over

0:18:360:18:41

half of Ireland's total experts, and over 100,000 individuals were employed in linen production.

0:18:410:18:48

To turn flax into cloth was quite some process though.

0:18:480:18:51

First the seeds needed to be removed by rippling.

0:18:510:18:55

That is what we're after now, that linen there. That linen there.

0:18:550:18:59

See that there.

0:18:590:19:01

It then had to be scutched. Brushed with a wooden

0:19:010:19:04

pallet knife to remove the hard outer sheath and separate the linen fibres from the flax stalk.

0:19:040:19:09

-Have I got a job, Eugene?

-You've got a job, yes. I'll keep you in mind.

0:19:100:19:15

Good, thank you.

0:19:150:19:16

Luckily, advancements in technology

0:19:160:19:19

meant the whole process could be done by machine.

0:19:190:19:22

It's amazing the process it goes through

0:19:220:19:25

to eventually being a nice piece of Irish linen.

0:19:250:19:28

Well, that wasn't even half the job.

0:19:290:19:31

To become linen, it needed to be woven.

0:19:310:19:34

In many rural areas entire families were involved in the whole process from farming to the loom.

0:19:340:19:40

When the industry went belly up in the early 20th century, to make sure this

0:19:400:19:44

combination of agricultural and industrial heritage wasn't lost,

0:19:440:19:48

in 1958 the Ulster Transport and Folk Museum was built.

0:19:480:19:51

A working replica of a 19th century milling town and weaving village.

0:19:510:19:56

And it's well worth a visit or a glimpse into a bygone era.

0:19:560:19:59

For our second bungalow of the day,

0:20:100:20:11

we're heading much closer to Banbridge.

0:20:110:20:14

In fact, it's situated just a few miles away

0:20:140:20:16

in the countryside on the outskirts of Donaghcloney.

0:20:160:20:19

A linen village back in the 19th century, today it's a quiet,

0:20:190:20:22

pretty place with a population of around 1,000 people.

0:20:220:20:26

Amenities here include a parish church and a couple of decent local shops.

0:20:260:20:30

For our viewing we need to head a couple of miles south of this village into the open countryside.

0:20:300:20:37

So here you go. Our second offering to you.

0:20:370:20:42

-What do we think?

-Very nice. Yes.

0:20:420:20:45

It looks very nice. I would like to maybe brighten it up a little bit. Perhaps a lick of paint.

0:20:450:20:50

OK. Now look, we're almost at the top of this hill,

0:20:500:20:52

but look at the landscapes we've got behind us.

0:20:520:20:55

Fantastic. Fabulous view. It is.

0:20:550:20:58

This is the sort of area, sort of location we're looking for, yes.

0:20:580:21:01

-Spot on.

-So apart from a lick of paint.

0:21:010:21:03

-Yes.

-We're in here, are we?

-That's right.

-We're looking good.

0:21:030:21:07

Good. Let's look inside.

0:21:070:21:08

'Size was an issue with our first bungalow, so we are increasing the floor print with this property.

0:21:090:21:14

'It still doesn't have all the reception rooms Marguerite is after, but room dimensions

0:21:140:21:19

'are much bigger, so plenty of space for all the family.'

0:21:190:21:23

OK. I think we've got a very different kind of home.

0:21:250:21:28

What do we think?

0:21:280:21:30

Well, good size and gorgeous views again.

0:21:300:21:33

Look at that. Beautiful.

0:21:330:21:35

Now, this is bigger.

0:21:350:21:37

-It is.

-But in the first house, whilst it was smaller,

0:21:370:21:41

you seemed a lot more vocal, you almost gave it a warmer reception.

0:21:410:21:46

I'm just not feeling the same as I did in the first house.

0:21:460:21:50

Even though it's bigger, it's just something about it.

0:21:500:21:53

It's not quite got that certain something.

0:21:530:21:57

Try and keep an open mind, but I am aware that it has to have the right feel.

0:21:570:22:01

-Yes.

-Sure.

-Let's have a look in the kitchen.

-OK.

0:22:010:22:04

You get a good size reception hall, don't you.

0:22:050:22:08

It is a lovely sized hallway, yes, it is nice.

0:22:080:22:11

The kitchen is a very different affair.

0:22:110:22:13

Different affair? It certainly is.

0:22:130:22:16

My goodness gracious me.

0:22:160:22:19

-I know you didn't want a farmhouse kitchen.

-No, I didn't.

0:22:190:22:22

But it doesn't scare me showing you this, because it's all cosmetic.

0:22:220:22:26

You don't have to have wood effect everywhere.

0:22:260:22:28

I want you to look at this through eyes of maybe doing this kitchen up

0:22:280:22:32

or maybe taking the farmhouse feel out and putting a modern one in.

0:22:320:22:35

It's a fabulous size of kitchen, you could do an awful lot with it.

0:22:350:22:39

And you don't have to build a conservatory on, you have a bit of a sun room here.

0:22:390:22:43

-Yes.

-Follow me.

0:22:430:22:46

So this at the moment, well, it's trying to do two jobs

0:22:480:22:52

and I think it only needs to do one.

0:22:520:22:54

You've got a massive kitchen,

0:22:540:22:56

so maybe take the washing machines out

0:22:560:22:58

and put them into the big kitchen, and then this could be then

0:22:580:23:03

a dining room, and you could lead out on to that sun deck.

0:23:030:23:06

-Yes.

-Lovely.

0:23:060:23:07

-You could actually make this into a nice dining room.

-Yes, you could.

0:23:070:23:11

'Cosmetics aside, the space here seems to be hitting the mark and decor is so easily changed.

0:23:110:23:18

'This bungalow also comes with three bedrooms,

0:23:180:23:21

'including a double guest bedroom, a good sized single bedroom,

0:23:210:23:26

'and a modern shared bathroom.'

0:23:260:23:28

OK then, master bedroom.

0:23:290:23:32

-Not a bad size.

-It's a good size.

0:23:320:23:34

Good sized room, yes. Very nice.

0:23:340:23:36

I'm getting the feeling that you're not getting the feeling, if you know what I mean.

0:23:360:23:41

Just something and it's just not quite doing it for me.

0:23:410:23:44

I don't know what it is, I can't put my finger on it.

0:23:440:23:46

I'd just like something more modern.

0:23:460:23:48

So that's it. OK, modern.

0:23:480:23:50

-More modern.

-That is probably the word, yes, more modern.

0:23:500:23:54

-There's probably too much woodwork.

-You got it.

0:23:540:23:57

'That's the problem, almost too much character, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle.

0:23:590:24:04

'They could easily modernise here by painting the wood if they liked,

0:24:040:24:08

'so there are options, and this gives them the space.

0:24:080:24:11

'Even better, outside is something that might just sway Roger.'

0:24:110:24:14

Now then Roger, what do we see here before us?

0:24:170:24:20

Oh yes. Nice big shed/garage, yes.

0:24:200:24:23

-That looks a good space.

-Good.

0:24:230:24:26

Now we do have a substantial, well, a substantial plot here certainly.

0:24:260:24:30

I would say it's fairly low maintenance.

0:24:300:24:32

There's not lots of beds here, but it might give you an excuse to buy a ride-on mower, you never know.

0:24:320:24:37

Now there's half an acre all in all of plot size.

0:24:370:24:41

-Let's go and have a look at the top bit.

-OK.

0:24:410:24:43

So with all this land, Roger could put a super-size garage if needs be.

0:24:450:24:49

Up here, you can see we've got some fantastic views, haven't we.

0:24:490:24:52

-Absolutely.

-Lovely.

-Beautiful. Really lovely.

0:24:520:24:55

What do you think of how much it might be on the market for?

0:24:550:24:58

I think this is on the market for £249,000.

0:25:000:25:07

OK. All right.

0:25:070:25:08

I think I'd go a little bit higher.

0:25:080:25:10

260,000?

0:25:100:25:12

OK. Substantially more than the first property we had the look at.

0:25:120:25:16

-Well, it's bigger.

-It's bigger, yeah.

-It's a lot bigger.

0:25:160:25:19

Well, it's actually on the market, before I get blown off this hill,

0:25:190:25:22

it's on the market for around £235,000.

0:25:220:25:27

That's reasonable. Very good value.

0:25:270:25:29

For the amount of land you get.

0:25:290:25:31

And the size of it.

0:25:310:25:33

Considering the size of it, it is worth that.

0:25:330:25:36

Look, my suggestion to you is, go back in there

0:25:360:25:38

and see if you could modernise it to your own tastes.

0:25:380:25:41

See what you would be prepared to do and whether or not you could make this your ideal home. OK?

0:25:410:25:47

Thank you.

0:25:470:25:49

At offers around £235,000, this rustic bungalow

0:25:500:25:55

is really spacious with a large living room,

0:25:550:25:58

a big kitchen diner, a separate dining room and three bedrooms.

0:25:580:26:03

The location and views are obviously a hit and with

0:26:030:26:06

half an acre, there's plenty of space to build a double garage.

0:26:060:26:10

Cosmetically it could be changed to suit their taste, but at £35,000

0:26:100:26:15

under budget, they'd have plenty of spare change to do it.

0:26:150:26:19

Setting-wise, it's absolutely perfect.

0:26:190:26:22

It's a lovely location, great scenery. Lovely views.

0:26:220:26:25

The hills, the mountains in of Mourne in the background there.

0:26:250:26:29

It really is a fabulous location.

0:26:290:26:32

-Cupboards are nice. I like the cupboards.

-Cupboards are nice.

0:26:320:26:35

-And this is a Belfast sink.

-You like the sink, don't you?

0:26:350:26:38

Yes, I do. That's lovely.

0:26:380:26:41

Yes, and the worktops.

0:26:410:26:42

Nice and easy to look after.

0:26:420:26:44

It's just these beams that are bugging me. It's wonderful.

0:26:440:26:48

It is a lovely, big home for a family. But I really want something

0:26:480:26:53

modern and no work to be done.

0:26:530:26:56

Well, whether it's good or bad, they seem to be taking their time.

0:26:560:27:00

-Are you all done?

-Yes.

0:27:000:27:02

Well, that's it for the house tours for today. Let's hit the road.

0:27:020:27:06

So, that's it for day one.

0:27:170:27:20

We're two properties down as the sun sets over County Down.

0:27:200:27:24

Coming up next in our search for the perfect bungalow,

0:27:280:27:32

we have the mystery house.

0:27:320:27:33

That's a strange kitchen, Jonnie.

0:27:330:27:35

Yeah, it's a strange kitchen and at the moment you might

0:27:350:27:40

be boiling a kettle and eating noodles out of a pot!

0:27:400:27:43

But will it rise to the occasion?

0:27:430:27:45

I like it.

0:27:450:27:47

So, to sum up, yesterday's properties started off pretty well.

0:27:500:27:54

Lovely interiors, but maybe not big enough.

0:27:540:27:57

The second property, certainly big enough,

0:27:570:27:59

didn't get the right feel for the interiors.

0:27:590:28:02

That leaves us with the final property,

0:28:020:28:04

which is the mystery house.

0:28:040:28:06

As you might expect, there are some quite sizable compromises with the mystery house.

0:28:060:28:10

But there are some major plusses.

0:28:100:28:13

Can't wait to see their reactions.

0:28:130:28:14

What do you think the mystery house might be?

0:28:170:28:21

I can't imagine. I think it may be a house,

0:28:210:28:24

cos we asked for a bungalow. It may be a house.

0:28:240:28:27

It could be an apartment.

0:28:270:28:29

Would it be a disaster if it was a house?

0:28:290:28:31

Not really, as long as it was in the right location.

0:28:310:28:35

Well, that's a good job,

0:28:360:28:38

as Marguerite is very close to the mark.

0:28:380:28:40

We're heading just a few miles south of Banbridge

0:28:400:28:43

to the rural outskirts of Loughbrickland.

0:28:430:28:45

No prizes for guessing the village is the name after nearby lake,

0:28:450:28:49

Loughbrickland, which is famed for its speckled trout.

0:28:490:28:52

The village itself is stocked with a Post Office and a church,

0:28:520:28:55

and thirsts can be quenched either in a pub or in the local tea rooms.

0:28:550:29:00

Right, then. You asked for new. We've got new.

0:29:000:29:05

-What about this?

-That is wonderful.

0:29:050:29:08

There's a lot of property here, guys.

0:29:080:29:10

Yes. Liking the garage.

0:29:100:29:12

It's brand spanking new.

0:29:120:29:14

So new, in fact, that it's not quite finished.

0:29:160:29:18

-Right.

-OK.

0:29:180:29:20

The guy that built the so far is a builder.

0:29:200:29:23

He will finish it off for you, but there'll be some extras to pay.

0:29:230:29:28

So these are big compromises I'm talking about, I appreciate.

0:29:280:29:32

Knowing what we know, are you still prepared to have a look around?

0:29:320:29:35

Absolutely, yeah. Fine.

0:29:350:29:37

'Well, Marguerite said she wanted modern, and you don't get much more modern than this chalet bungalow.

0:29:370:29:42

'I'm going to let you into a secret.

0:29:420:29:44

'This is over budget, but it's so spacious and delivers everything they wanted and more.

0:29:440:29:50

'We just had to show it to them.'

0:29:500:29:52

Now then. You've got something that's quite rare to find in a bungalow,

0:29:520:29:58

a set of stairs! Quite grand, aren't they?

0:29:580:30:01

-It is.

-Huge, lovely staircase.

0:30:010:30:05

-Really impressive.

-I don't often say wow, but this is wow.

0:30:050:30:09

-Very, very nice.

-I think the whole house is impressive.

0:30:090:30:12

-Do you want to have a look?

-Sure. Yeah, please.

0:30:120:30:14

So, what would you use this room for?

0:30:180:30:20

-A lounge. Yes. Very nice.

-Super.

0:30:200:30:23

-There is nothing to do apart from stick a fire surround in there.

-That's right.

0:30:230:30:27

Nothing. Nothing at all.

0:30:270:30:29

-So you reckon this would be your living room? Yeah?

-I think so.

0:30:290:30:32

Now, you've not seen the rest of the house yet,

0:30:320:30:35

so you might well change your mind.

0:30:350:30:37

You've got options here.

0:30:370:30:39

Wonderful.

0:30:390:30:41

Wow.

0:30:430:30:44

Goodness.

0:30:440:30:46

Speechless! It's huge.

0:30:460:30:49

Good heavens. What a space.

0:30:490:30:51

-Wonderful space.

-There's a few spaces, aren't they?

0:30:510:30:54

There are, yes.

0:30:540:30:55

If you think about sun rooms,

0:30:550:30:57

you couldn't get a better one, could you?

0:30:570:31:00

No, glass all the way around.

0:31:000:31:02

-Fabulous.

-So now, you've got a sun room, you've got a living room, dining room.

0:31:020:31:06

What's that going to be?

0:31:060:31:08

A study. A little study.

0:31:080:31:10

Now, so far,

0:31:100:31:13

there's wood flooring throughout.

0:31:130:31:15

Wood skirting. You've not mentioned that.

0:31:150:31:18

-No.

-I like this wood flooring, actually.

0:31:180:31:22

I like it. It's not overpowering.

0:31:220:31:24

-No.

-Everywhere's white. It's nice.

0:31:240:31:27

Nice and light. You could really, really put your own stamp on this.

0:31:270:31:32

-I think so.

-Absolutely.

-Do you want to keep looking?

-Please.

0:31:320:31:36

Kitchen's next.

0:31:360:31:38

That's a strange kitchen, Jonnie.

0:31:380:31:41

Yes, it's a strange kitchen, in as much that

0:31:410:31:44

at the moment you might be boiling a kettle

0:31:440:31:46

-and eating noodles out of a pot!

-It looks that way.

0:31:460:31:50

But the hard work, believe it or not, has been done again.

0:31:500:31:54

Everything in this house is plumbed in.

0:31:540:31:57

All it is now is buying the kitchen units, the worktops.

0:31:570:32:00

You can choose whatever kind of kitchen you want.

0:32:000:32:03

-Yes.

-It's a lot to take on, I know.

0:32:030:32:05

'There's a lot to take in, too.

0:32:050:32:07

'The rest of the ground floor consists of two bedrooms, a single bedroom

0:32:070:32:11

'and a guest bedroom with a shower room which is yet to be plumbed in.'

0:32:110:32:17

So, going up the stairs for the first time.

0:32:170:32:20

-Yes.

-How does it feel?

-Wonderful.

0:32:200:32:24

-Very grand.

-They are, aren't they.

0:32:240:32:26

And up the stairs we go.

0:32:260:32:30

We've got two bedrooms on this floor.

0:32:300:32:32

This is clearly your master room.

0:32:320:32:36

That's fantastic.

0:32:360:32:39

Look at the size of it. Beautiful.

0:32:390:32:41

-Nice shape.

-Yes, it is nice shape.

0:32:410:32:43

And, look at those views. Every morning. It's almost like it's framed, isn't it?

0:32:430:32:48

-Yeah.

-It is, it's almost like a picture hanging on the wall.

0:32:480:32:51

Yes, which will change throughout the year.

0:32:510:32:53

That's right.

0:32:530:32:55

Yes, change with the seasons.

0:32:550:32:58

Well, there are more far reaching views

0:32:580:33:00

from the fourth bedroom, which is also a double.

0:33:000:33:03

Both rooms share what will be a sizable bathroom.

0:33:030:33:05

However, it's that very sizable garage

0:33:050:33:08

I know Roger just can't wait to check out.

0:33:080:33:11

It's almost like a separate house, this.

0:33:110:33:14

-Well then.

-Wow.

0:33:150:33:18

-What about this?

-Ooooh, yes.

0:33:180:33:20

What a nice space. I like it!

0:33:200:33:24

-You could live out here.

-I could.

0:33:240:33:27

-Is that a request?

-Might be!

0:33:270:33:29

Granted!

0:33:290:33:31

Just through there you've got plumbing for a loo as well.

0:33:310:33:35

-Oh, well, self contained.

-You happy?

-Yeah, very happy.

0:33:350:33:39

'I think I hear boxes being ticked right, left and centre.

0:33:390:33:43

'Now, there's one last element to get right, the garden.

0:33:430:33:47

'With a large veranda and a small lawn, it's entirely manageable and,

0:33:470:33:51

'once again, there are views to ooh and aah over.'

0:33:510:33:55

I thought yesterday's scenery was nice. This is even better.

0:33:550:33:59

And you look at the back of the house from here, I think it looks better from here.

0:33:590:34:03

-It's impressive, isn't it? Stands beautifully.

-So?

0:34:030:34:07

Oh dear. Oh dear.

0:34:070:34:09

-So?

-Now comes the crunch.

0:34:090:34:13

How much do you think this house is on the market for?

0:34:130:34:16

I think its way, way over budget, and I would say it's £395,000.

0:34:160:34:24

Oh, goodness. I would go, £325,000.

0:34:240:34:28

-I want a bargain!

-Well, you're after a bargain, aren't you?

0:34:280:34:31

I'm afraid it's bad news for both of you. You are both out.

0:34:310:34:35

Because it's under that.

0:34:350:34:37

It's on the market for £298,000.

0:34:370:34:40

-You're joking!

-Really?

0:34:400:34:42

-Where do I sign?

-Have you got your cheque book with you?

0:34:420:34:46

I'm here to keep your feet on the floor as well.

0:34:460:34:49

I want you to find the right place for you guys.

0:34:490:34:52

But it's over budget and there's still money to be spent on it.

0:34:520:34:57

So start thinking about what piggy banks have got what.

0:34:570:35:00

Go in there and have a chat, and I'll probably catch you in a while.

0:35:000:35:05

-You might not find us!

-See you in a bit.

0:35:050:35:07

OK.

0:35:070:35:09

Well, I'm chuffed because...

0:35:100:35:13

I knew they'd like it, it's a fantastic building,

0:35:130:35:17

but what I'm chuffed at is that they weren't hugely put off by the price.

0:35:170:35:22

This is a fantastic opportunity.

0:35:220:35:23

Yes, it's going to stretch them financially,

0:35:230:35:26

but they'd never want to leave, would they?

0:35:260:35:28

On the market for £298,000, this ultra-modern chalet bungalow

0:35:310:35:36

is a stretch over budget,

0:35:360:35:38

but delivers everything they've asked for and then some.

0:35:380:35:41

Or, it will do once it's finished.

0:35:410:35:43

It has four reception rooms, with an open plan flow, four bedrooms,

0:35:430:35:47

one of which will be en suite, a large kitchen to be completed,

0:35:470:35:51

and it has an absolutely massive double garage.

0:35:510:35:55

As a bonus, it also comes with a nine years builders warranty.

0:35:550:35:59

They obviously love it, but when reality bites,

0:35:590:36:02

will they think it's worth the extra outlay?

0:36:020:36:05

It's fantastic. It's wonderful, it really is something special.

0:36:050:36:10

More than I ever dreamt of, really.

0:36:100:36:12

Your cooker would ... The cooker would probably be on this wall.

0:36:120:36:15

That's all ready for electricity.

0:36:150:36:20

Plenty of sockets, aren't there?

0:36:200:36:23

It would take some furnishing, a kitchen this size.

0:36:230:36:26

The mystery property has certainly been a mystery property.

0:36:260:36:29

It is absolutely amazing.

0:36:290:36:32

So, I feel very, very good about it, actually.

0:36:320:36:35

Wouldn't it be marvellous if we could afford this, Roger?

0:36:350:36:38

It really is a dream property.

0:36:380:36:41

I knew I'd find you either looking at the house or at these views.

0:36:410:36:44

The views are fantastic.

0:36:440:36:46

Whichever way you look, it's fantastic.

0:36:460:36:48

I think I need to take you away from this wonderful setting.

0:36:480:36:52

You need to have a bit of a chat

0:36:520:36:53

-and maybe we'll have a discussion later on as well.

-OK.

0:36:530:36:56

Let's hit the road.

0:36:560:36:58

Now, big gardens and veggie plots are usually a top priority

0:37:090:37:12

for most of our buyers, but not today.

0:37:120:37:15

I'm missing out on my usual fill of botanical delights,

0:37:150:37:18

so during the week I couldn't resist the chance

0:37:180:37:21

to visit the 90 acre garden at Mount Stuart on the edge of Strangford Lough.

0:37:210:37:25

Preserved by the National Trust since the late 1950s,

0:37:250:37:29

today there are open to the public to be enjoyed by all.

0:37:290:37:32

Head gardener Phil Rollinson kindly offered to show me around.

0:37:320:37:37

So, Phil, what brought about this inspiration, if you like,

0:37:370:37:40

for these magnificent gardens?

0:37:400:37:42

These are the creation of Edith, Lady Londonderry,

0:37:420:37:45

who came to live here just after the end of the First World War.

0:37:450:37:49

She realised that we got quite a unique micro-climate here,

0:37:490:37:52

because we're very close to sea water,

0:37:520:37:54

we're right on the shores of Strangford Lough.

0:37:540:37:57

And not far away from the Irish Sea.

0:37:570:37:59

So she discovered that she could actually grow things here that you'd

0:37:590:38:02

only really find growing in the south-west of England.

0:38:020:38:05

It's got this exotic feel to it.

0:38:050:38:08

Well-educated and well-travelled, Lady Londonderry took inspiration

0:38:080:38:12

from all over the world to design many gardens within one garden.

0:38:120:38:16

As well as the dodo terrace and Italian garden,

0:38:160:38:19

she created the Spanish gardens,

0:38:190:38:21

so called for its green roofed summer house and cypress tree arches.

0:38:210:38:25

A nod to the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

0:38:250:38:28

Whilst the sunken garden, with its flame-coloured azaleas and blue delphiniums,

0:38:280:38:32

was her most colourful and most stylised effort,

0:38:320:38:36

she really let her playful side loose in the Shamrock Garden.

0:38:360:38:40

This area here is all about symbolism, so you've got this shape

0:38:400:38:45

of a shamrock and the hedges accentuate that as well.

0:38:450:38:49

And then you've got this amazing red hand.

0:38:490:38:53

The red hand relates to the legend of the two giants that were racing

0:38:530:38:57

across the Irish Sea from Scotland to lay claim to the land of Ulster,

0:38:570:39:02

and they had a bet that the first one

0:39:020:39:05

that would lay his hand on the land would get it.

0:39:050:39:07

And the one that was losing the race could see

0:39:070:39:11

that he was going to lose so he chopped off his

0:39:110:39:14

left hand and flung it to the shore where it landed,

0:39:140:39:17

and that's where this legend of the red hand comes from.

0:39:170:39:20

And we try and emulate that with plants.

0:39:200:39:24

So we've just missed it at its best.

0:39:240:39:26

Just missed it, the tulips have just gone over.

0:39:260:39:28

-That will give me an excuse to come back.

-Absolutely.

-Lovely.

0:39:280:39:31

'And I definitely will revisit.

0:39:310:39:33

'But now, it's crunch time.

0:39:330:39:35

'Will Marguerite and Roger be planting their feet at any of the properties we have shown them?'

0:39:350:39:41

Well, I've got a pretty good idea, as I'm sure you have, of which of

0:39:470:39:50

the three properties will be the favourite for Roger and Marguerite.

0:39:500:39:53

But let's face it, it comes with some huge compromises

0:39:530:39:56

that may yet affect their decision.

0:39:560:39:59

It's time to find out.

0:39:590:40:01

You had a lot to think about, haven't you?

0:40:080:40:11

A lot, Jonnie, yes. We certainly have.

0:40:110:40:13

So, let's talk about the properties.

0:40:130:40:15

Cast your minds back to yesterday morning.

0:40:150:40:17

We drove up to the top of that road and we saw that lovely bungalow with those views.

0:40:170:40:22

The bungalow itself was beautiful. It was in a lovely area.

0:40:220:40:25

The inside of the property was beautifully presented,

0:40:250:40:30

but the rooms were a little bit on the small side

0:40:300:40:32

for what we actually were looking for.

0:40:320:40:34

It had potential for the sun room, but you'd need something on top.

0:40:340:40:38

-You would you really, yes.

-OK, moving on from there. We then went to

0:40:380:40:42

a much larger property with quite a lot of wood in it.

0:40:420:40:46

-You could say that.

-Very woody.

0:40:460:40:48

-But it was big, wasn't it?

-It was big.

0:40:480:40:50

But it didn't seem to have the right feel for you, certainly, Marguerite?

0:40:500:40:53

It didn't, no. As soon as I went in I just didn't feel right about it.

0:40:530:40:57

You get certain vibes, don't you, when you walk into a place

0:40:570:41:00

and that just wasn't doing it for me either.

0:41:000:41:03

Today brought new challenges,

0:41:030:41:05

and new emotions came to the fore, didn't they?

0:41:050:41:08

What do you think of the mystery house

0:41:080:41:10

now you've come away from there?

0:41:100:41:12

BOTH: Wow!

0:41:120:41:13

Yeah.

0:41:130:41:15

Absolutely wow.

0:41:150:41:17

A house like that you'd be extremely proud to have anybody come and see you.

0:41:170:41:21

But, in the back of my mind, I always knew it was over budget.

0:41:210:41:25

Money just didn't seem to matter when I saw that property!

0:41:250:41:29

It did blow me away.

0:41:290:41:30

It seems a silly question. That's your favourite property, isn't it?

0:41:300:41:34

-Oh, yes.

-So, what's the next move for you guys?

0:41:340:41:37

We've just got to get our feet back on the ground and just think,

0:41:370:41:41

how much more needs spending on it?

0:41:410:41:43

i.e. the kitchen, the rest of your furnishings,

0:41:430:41:46

and just generally weigh that expense up, really.

0:41:460:41:51

Well, look, very exciting. There's lots of homework to do.

0:41:510:41:55

Homework you probably didn't envisage.

0:41:550:41:57

But you could have the most amazing of homes, couldn't you?

0:41:570:42:00

-We could.

-We certainly could.

0:42:000:42:02

Please keep in touch, and let us know how you get on.

0:42:020:42:04

We will. Thank you for all your help.

0:42:040:42:06

My pleasure.

0:42:060:42:08

It's funny, isn't it? In the second property,

0:42:130:42:16

Roger and Marguerite said they didn't want to do any work.

0:42:160:42:19

Cosmetic, or whatever it was, there had to be the finished product.

0:42:190:42:23

Take them to the mystery house, and they completely changed their minds.

0:42:230:42:27

But that's because they get the right feel.

0:42:270:42:29

The house had the right location, it gave them all the space and more.

0:42:290:42:33

Now, they've got the choice of taking on a house that,

0:42:330:42:36

whilst it's over budget, they might able to

0:42:360:42:38

negotiate it down towards their price, but they have a house

0:42:380:42:41

that they can finish to their very own specification,

0:42:410:42:44

and that's a really exciting project for them.

0:42:440:42:47

I wish them both the very best of luck.

0:42:470:42:49

But from me, and from County Down, that's about it.

0:42:490:42:52

We'll see you next time.

0:42:520:42:53

'Marguerite and Roger revisited the mystery house, but sadly decided

0:42:560:43:00

'it would push their budget too far to get the high-spec finish

0:43:000:43:04

'they felt the house warranted.

0:43:040:43:05

'However, it certainly gave them ideas, as they have now found a house -

0:43:050:43:09

yes, a house, not a bungalow - near the Mourne mountains.

0:43:090:43:13

We wish them the very best of luck.

0:43:130:43:15

If you'd like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland,

0:43:170:43:20

Wales, Scotland or England,

0:43:200:43:21

and need our help, please apply online.

0:43:210:43:25

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:480:43:51

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:510:43:54

Jonnie Irwin hops over the Irish Sea to the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland. With £270,000 in the budget, he's on the lookout for the perfect retirement package - a three-bedroom modern bungalow, with double garage, overlooking the mountains.


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