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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Take a walk through these mournful mountains
and you may just catch a glimpse of a mythical fawn,
a talking lion, or even a white witch.
In was this wonderful landscape that inspired a local writer to
pen one of this generation's most loved children's books. Where am I?
Well, find out in just the moment,
as we embark on yet another fantastical Escape To The Country.
Today, we're helping two retirees swap city suburbs for scenic vistas.
Winter or summer, that is a fabulous view.
But it won't be a walk in the park.
I'm getting the feeling that you're not getting the feeling.
If you know what I mean.
So, will we ever deliver the perfect retirement package?
-Really? Where do I sign?
Have you got your cheque book with you?
Today, I've leapt over the Irish Sea
to explore all that Narnia has to offer.
Well, actually, I'm in the Mourne Mountains
in County Down, Northern Ireland.
You might excuse the confusion because it was this wonderful
landscape that Belfast-born CS Lewis based his magical world.
First published in 1950, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
was one of a series of books from the Chronicles Of Narnia,
which has been published in 41 different languages
and has sold 120 million copies.
But it's quite easy to see why such flights of fancy
were inspired by these wonderful mountains
that so famously and poetically sweep down to the sea.
With the Irish Sea making up its eastern border
and the counties Armagh and Antrim to the north and west,
I think County Down has plenty to write home about.
The 12 peaks of the Mourne Mountains are Northern Ireland's
highest points and plans are afoot
to make in the region's very first national park.
These granite monoliths give way to a very rural county
where both arable and dairy farming play a vital role in the economy
and provide a near endless picture of rolling green pastures
and large tranquil Loughs.
An excellent river network,
especially the rivers Bann and Lagan, helped shape the agricultural
and industrial landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Giving rise to a textile industry that saw many villages and towns flourish.
Such as Downpatrick, the county town,
believed to be the last resting-place
of patron saint St Patrick.
However, if you come to the region looking for traditional Irish stone properties
with slate roofs or thatches,
then you may be in for a rough ride.
Houses here are typically constructed from block
and rough cast rendering.
Farm houses and bungalows are not in short supply.
As for the views, well, they could have been painted by the old masters.
If you're thinking that a move over to Northern Ireland
would be the cheap option, then think again.
Prices here are pretty much the same as average prices
in England and Wales, running at around £166,000.
And if you think County Down might be your preferred location,
then you've got quite expensive tastes.
Prices can go up to about £200,000 for your average house,
which is pretty much the same as Hampshire in the south of England.
So, for all of that money, just what do you get? Let's find out.
If you've got deep pockets,
how about three properties for the price of one?
Your main residence is a four-bedroom 18th century cottage,
rebuilt and beautifully refurbished by the current owners.
Guests can really make themselves at home
in not one but two self-contained outbuildings.
And it's all set in a whopping six acres.
As you can imagine, it comes with a whopper of a price-tag.
£1.5 million. Don't worry if your money won't stretch that far.
This 19th century four-bedroom house near Crawfordsburn
could be yours for just under £700,000.
You get the best of both worlds,
with plenty of period features and some very contemporary twists.
It also comes with half an acre, so lots of room to sit back and relax.
If you want to go the whole modern hog,
then this executive residence could be just the thing.
There's no shortage of space, with three reception rooms,
a contemporary kitchen with all the mod cons and four bedrooms.
It's on the market for just under half a million pounds.
Well, there's something for everyone's tastes there,
which should suit this week's buyers who are ready to kick back
and make this Emerald Isle their home.
Born-and-bred Irish Cailin Marguerite and her husband Roger
have lived in and around Nottingham for 45 years.
But now they've both retired, Marguerite is longing to return to her roots.
I came from a little town called Rathfriland,
which is in County Down in Northern Ireland.
I came over to England when I was 17 and stayed with my aunt.
So I really would like to go back to my family.
I've got six sisters based around Northern Ireland.
Nephews and nieces. And we would really like to be part of that family again.
So with family ties pulling them to County Down
and with their grown-up son now living in Australia,
they've decided to swap their suburban four-bedroom home
of the last 22 years for a country pad across the Irish Sea.
But what exactly do they have in mind?
The dream property would be a three-bedroom bungalow,
set in a nice little piece of land, overlooking the mountains of Mourne
or just overlooking some nice scenery.
And there is loads of nice scenery in County Down.
They'd like this to be their last move,
so we'd better get the particulars spot-on.
In my next house, I obviously wouldn't need four bedrooms, but three would be very nice.
Marguerite is quite happy with her current kitchen in terms of style and size.
But she does have some big ideas elsewhere.
I would like a nice lounge and a separate dining room.
I'd like to keep their cats out of that.
Be able to close the door.
A nice garden. Not too big of a garden.
No, not too big, because I've got to look after it!
Doesn't sound like Roger is particularly green-fingered,
but that doesn't mean he wouldn't like outside space.
This is my current garage here.
It's a double.
Not really big enough for what I am hoping to do in the future.
I'd like to buy a little sports car or something similar
to mess about with and tinker about with in the warmer weather.
And this garage just isn't big enough for that sort of thing.
Now, as frequent visitors to County Down to see family,
I'm assuming Marguerite and Roger have a location in mind.
The area we'd like to move to is a little town called Banbridge.
A lot of my sisters are based around that area,
so we would really like to be within maybe a 10-mile radius of Banbridge.
Looking for somewhere fairly rural, villagey,
on the outskirts of a town or a village,
with neighbours not too close.
Just somewhere in a nice rural position.
One very important point is it must not be on a main road because we have the cats.
So that's one property no-no,
but are there any others we need to heed?
We're not really keen on beams, that sort of thing.
So the property needs to be fairly newish.
We're not into pine ceilings and those very heavy sort of things.
Basically light and airy.
Well, before we can find them their country home,
Roger and Marguerite need to know how much their current house is worth.
So we've invited a local agent round to give them a valuation.
This is a well-presented four-bedroomed detached family house, set in a good location.
The area has good schools and good amenities.
I value this property between £320,000 and £330,000.
With that in mind, what's the final figure for the big move?
My budget for the new property is up to £270,000.
So, Roger and Marguerite do not want one of these.
They're after living on one floor.
And the good news for them is the average price for a bungalow
here in Northern Ireland is around £213,000.
Let's face it, it doesn't sound like they're after the average bungalow.
At least three reception rooms, three bedrooms
and outside, room for a double garage.
It sounds like they could be pushing their budget
here a little bit. I think there might be a compromise ahead.
With family in and around Banbridge, Marguerite has asked us
to stay within a 10-mile radius of the town,
which is quite a limited search area.
We've managed to track down
a fabulous line-up of single-storey dwellings to view.
As always, I won't be revealing
their asking prices until the end of the tours.
And finally, there's a mystery property which will be a challenge,
but will it be a step too far?
Good morning, guys. Welcome to County Down.
-Now, old ground for you, isn't it?
-It is indeed.
-You come here quite a lot, don't you?
How soon are we looking to move over here?
-As soon as we can.
So, with a house up for sale, you've got your budget in mind of what?
-270, yes. We can be a little flexible.
Good. That's a relief. Because you do want quite a lot for your money.
But there's a good variation of property
that we've got to show you today. Of course, we've also
got the mystery house to show you, which could be absolutely anything.
-Quite excited about that one. Shall we get on the road?
-Yes. Let's go.
So, for a top budget of £270,000, Roger and Marguerite
want a modern, three-bedroom detached bungalow
in a semi-rural location.
Their must-haves include a good-sized kitchen,
a separate dining room, a living room and a sun room
or family room, which adds up to an awful lot of reception rooms.
Roger has his heart set on a double garage so he can buy a sports car.
And they'd both like far-reaching views.
They want all of this within a 10-mile radius of Banbridge,
so the pressure is really on.
We're kicking off our County Down property search
in the countryside just outside Hillsborough.
Which, at 13 miles from Banbridge and Marguerite's family,
is stretching the commute just a tad.
But Hillsborough is something of a showpiece.
With its colourful high street brimming with gorgeous Georgian buildings
and independent shops and eateries. It's also home to a stunning 18th century parish church.
However, the bungalow we're viewing
is two miles away in prime County Down countryside.
So, our first property for you is this rather sweet bungalow.
Very nice. Very nice indeed.
I like the look of it. I like the windows and the front door.
-First impressions good.
-I can see the scenery over there is going to be gorgeous.
-Lovely scenery out the back by the look of things.
-Want to look inside?
Built eight years ago, this bungalow is beautifully presented inside.
It doesn't quite have all the space they've asked for, but there are options.
So hopefully they'll see the potential.
OK. The living room, or living area if you like.
-Very nice. Nice fireplace.
-Nice room, yeah.
They put the white oak floorboards in themselves.
Which, I think, helps with the theme of this room
because it does go round next door. Let me show you.
Oh, lovely. Look at that. Separate dining room, which is what I wanted.
I think the real advantage of this room and this house at the moment
-is you see that sundeck out there?
Underneath that decking are foundations for a sun room.
Because the foundations are done, the work has been started,
that planning consent will stay with this property in perpetuity.
So you can build on to that a sun room
at any time in the future. Is that something you'd want to do?
Definitely. It would be nice to have a flow out through the doors
there into a nice conservatory and what a fabulous view it is out there.
A lot of this house I think benefits from fantastic views.
This isn't the only room that uses them.
Let me take you to the kitchen.
Pretty modern kitchen.
-Very nice. Good size. Eating kitchen.
It's a lovely kitchen. I like the flooring.
So you wouldn't change it? Kitchens are very personal, aren't they?
Ideal looking out over that lovely view.
You would be getting a lot of that view in, Roger,
because that's where the washing up's done.
-That's my job, definitely.
I was keeping that quiet! There is an integrated dishwasher as well, if you wanted to give him a day off.
I like the cooker range. I do a lot of the cooking.
That's a lovely big cooker.
-Next door you've got a good size utility room.
Fabulous. That's great.
You've got a door there going straight out to the garden as well.
-That's where my cats will go.
-Happy so far?
-Let's keep looking round, shall we?
'So, with a big thumbs-up for the kitchen, it's so far so good.
'Plus this property comes with the must-have three bedrooms too.
'Off the hallway is a good-sized double guestroom-cum-study and there's a single bedroom.'
OK. Just quick peek into this bathroom. What do we think?
Very nice. Very clean.
-Separate shower. That's good.
-Like the tiles.
Now, I'm not going to wow you with en-suites.
I'm sorry. This is your only bathroom. Will it suffice?
-This is big enough.
-I would prefer another one.
It's big enough for just the two of us anyway.
OK, yeah. Let's see what you think of the master bedroom. Right.
OK, so the master bedroom.
Now, what about when you wake up every morning?
Winter or summer, that is a fabulous view.
It's very special. Very special.
'I'd say that's a thumbs up all round, and I can't see the outside space disappointing.
'The property sits on a half acre plot in all, but for once I'm hoping that won't be too big.'
Well, isn't this lovely out here.
-This is absolutely fabulous.
-This is ideal.
Not too big. I'm not that much into gardening, but I do like a nice lawn.
Well, I know what you are into, Roger, and that's your motor car.
-Now that is not a shed, that, believe it or not, is a garage.
-My own thoughts were that you would probably put
a garden shed to the back of it, get all the garden stuff out of there,
and that becomes Roger's domain, where Marguerite never shall step.
-My little kingdom.
-So, how much does a house like this cost, I wonder?
Very, very difficult to value.
I would go for 259.
I think I'd go slightly less.
I think I'd go 249,950.
Well, it's just been reduced to 225.
-Very good. Very good.
-That's very good. That's good value.
And you get these fantastic views.
-Yes. Can't be bad.
The views are worth a bob or two, aren't they.
Well, now it's your time to have a scoot around here on your own.
Look into all the rooms and think, you know, if your furniture will fit,
-and obviously you'll want to have a scoot in that garage.
-I will, yes.
I'll catch you in a bit.
What a great start. Under budget at £225,000,
Roger and Marguerite would have £45,000 in spare change
to tackle any work, like adding that sun room.
After that, there would be little to do, as it's superbly finished
and comes with a must-have three bedrooms.
A good size kitchen.
A separate dining room leading off the living room
and the views are unbeatable.
This move is a downsize for them, but will this bungalow be
big enough to fit all of Marguerite's visiting family?
Oh, it's a little on the small side really.
I couldn't get three cars in here. You'd struggle to get one.
You're not going to have three cars!
I love the location, I think it's absolutely fabulous.
You couldn't have chose a much better location.
The views are stunning. Stunning.
It's a lovely room, Rog, but I don't think our furniture would fit in here, do you?
No. Looking round, the size of our three-piece suite would drown the rooms.
It would. The other thing is when all the family come down, there's no way, there really isn't enough room.
-How did you get on?
-Very good, thank you.
-Had a good look around?
-Very good look around.
-We have, yes.
Let's hit the road, shall we? OK.
Farming has been big business in County Down for centuries.
However, back in the 17th century one specific crop changed
both the physical and economic landscape of this region for good.
The crop was flax, the raw material in linen.
When an English bill was passed in 1699 banning the export of wool,
punishable by death, the Lord Deputy of Ireland encouraged farmers to swap sheep
and arable crops for flax, creating an entire new textile industry which boomed for well over 200 years.
Marguerite and Roger know the area very well, but they know nothing of the origins of the linen trade.
So to find out more, they headed to a mill museum at Dromore,
and met Eugene McColville whose family have milled flax for over three generations.
Counties Down and Antrim and Tyrone, there was mills everywhere, but this mill of ours here
was a typical mill of what would have been in those days.
-How many people did you employ?
-Oh, my late father employed actually over 50 workers.
-At all the various stages of flax.
-At this mill?
-At this mill and the other mill across the road.
Although the industry had all but declined by the mid-1900s, thanks
to the advent of artificial fibres, in the 18th and 19th centuries it accounted for over
half of Ireland's total experts, and over 100,000 individuals were employed in linen production.
To turn flax into cloth was quite some process though.
First the seeds needed to be removed by rippling.
That is what we're after now, that linen there. That linen there.
See that there.
It then had to be scutched. Brushed with a wooden
pallet knife to remove the hard outer sheath and separate the linen fibres from the flax stalk.
-Have I got a job, Eugene?
-You've got a job, yes. I'll keep you in mind.
Good, thank you.
Luckily, advancements in technology
meant the whole process could be done by machine.
It's amazing the process it goes through
to eventually being a nice piece of Irish linen.
Well, that wasn't even half the job.
To become linen, it needed to be woven.
In many rural areas entire families were involved in the whole process from farming to the loom.
When the industry went belly up in the early 20th century, to make sure this
combination of agricultural and industrial heritage wasn't lost,
in 1958 the Ulster Transport and Folk Museum was built.
A working replica of a 19th century milling town and weaving village.
And it's well worth a visit or a glimpse into a bygone era.
For our second bungalow of the day,
we're heading much closer to Banbridge.
In fact, it's situated just a few miles away
in the countryside on the outskirts of Donaghcloney.
A linen village back in the 19th century, today it's a quiet,
pretty place with a population of around 1,000 people.
Amenities here include a parish church and a couple of decent local shops.
For our viewing we need to head a couple of miles south of this village into the open countryside.
So here you go. Our second offering to you.
-What do we think?
-Very nice. Yes.
It looks very nice. I would like to maybe brighten it up a little bit. Perhaps a lick of paint.
OK. Now look, we're almost at the top of this hill,
but look at the landscapes we've got behind us.
Fantastic. Fabulous view. It is.
This is the sort of area, sort of location we're looking for, yes.
-So apart from a lick of paint.
-We're in here, are we?
-We're looking good.
Good. Let's look inside.
'Size was an issue with our first bungalow, so we are increasing the floor print with this property.
'It still doesn't have all the reception rooms Marguerite is after, but room dimensions
'are much bigger, so plenty of space for all the family.'
OK. I think we've got a very different kind of home.
What do we think?
Well, good size and gorgeous views again.
Look at that. Beautiful.
Now, this is bigger.
-But in the first house, whilst it was smaller,
you seemed a lot more vocal, you almost gave it a warmer reception.
I'm just not feeling the same as I did in the first house.
Even though it's bigger, it's just something about it.
It's not quite got that certain something.
Try and keep an open mind, but I am aware that it has to have the right feel.
-Let's have a look in the kitchen.
You get a good size reception hall, don't you.
It is a lovely sized hallway, yes, it is nice.
The kitchen is a very different affair.
Different affair? It certainly is.
My goodness gracious me.
-I know you didn't want a farmhouse kitchen.
-No, I didn't.
But it doesn't scare me showing you this, because it's all cosmetic.
You don't have to have wood effect everywhere.
I want you to look at this through eyes of maybe doing this kitchen up
or maybe taking the farmhouse feel out and putting a modern one in.
It's a fabulous size of kitchen, you could do an awful lot with it.
And you don't have to build a conservatory on, you have a bit of a sun room here.
So this at the moment, well, it's trying to do two jobs
and I think it only needs to do one.
You've got a massive kitchen,
so maybe take the washing machines out
and put them into the big kitchen, and then this could be then
a dining room, and you could lead out on to that sun deck.
-You could actually make this into a nice dining room.
-Yes, you could.
'Cosmetics aside, the space here seems to be hitting the mark and decor is so easily changed.
'This bungalow also comes with three bedrooms,
'including a double guest bedroom, a good sized single bedroom,
'and a modern shared bathroom.'
OK then, master bedroom.
-Not a bad size.
-It's a good size.
Good sized room, yes. Very nice.
I'm getting the feeling that you're not getting the feeling, if you know what I mean.
Just something and it's just not quite doing it for me.
I don't know what it is, I can't put my finger on it.
I'd just like something more modern.
So that's it. OK, modern.
-That is probably the word, yes, more modern.
-There's probably too much woodwork.
-You got it.
'That's the problem, almost too much character, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle.
'They could easily modernise here by painting the wood if they liked,
'so there are options, and this gives them the space.
'Even better, outside is something that might just sway Roger.'
Now then Roger, what do we see here before us?
Oh yes. Nice big shed/garage, yes.
-That looks a good space.
Now we do have a substantial, well, a substantial plot here certainly.
I would say it's fairly low maintenance.
There's not lots of beds here, but it might give you an excuse to buy a ride-on mower, you never know.
Now there's half an acre all in all of plot size.
-Let's go and have a look at the top bit.
So with all this land, Roger could put a super-size garage if needs be.
Up here, you can see we've got some fantastic views, haven't we.
-Beautiful. Really lovely.
What do you think of how much it might be on the market for?
I think this is on the market for £249,000.
OK. All right.
I think I'd go a little bit higher.
OK. Substantially more than the first property we had the look at.
-Well, it's bigger.
-It's bigger, yeah.
-It's a lot bigger.
Well, it's actually on the market, before I get blown off this hill,
it's on the market for around £235,000.
That's reasonable. Very good value.
For the amount of land you get.
And the size of it.
Considering the size of it, it is worth that.
Look, my suggestion to you is, go back in there
and see if you could modernise it to your own tastes.
See what you would be prepared to do and whether or not you could make this your ideal home. OK?
At offers around £235,000, this rustic bungalow
is really spacious with a large living room,
a big kitchen diner, a separate dining room and three bedrooms.
The location and views are obviously a hit and with
half an acre, there's plenty of space to build a double garage.
Cosmetically it could be changed to suit their taste, but at £35,000
under budget, they'd have plenty of spare change to do it.
Setting-wise, it's absolutely perfect.
It's a lovely location, great scenery. Lovely views.
The hills, the mountains in of Mourne in the background there.
It really is a fabulous location.
-Cupboards are nice. I like the cupboards.
-Cupboards are nice.
-And this is a Belfast sink.
-You like the sink, don't you?
Yes, I do. That's lovely.
Yes, and the worktops.
Nice and easy to look after.
It's just these beams that are bugging me. It's wonderful.
It is a lovely, big home for a family. But I really want something
modern and no work to be done.
Well, whether it's good or bad, they seem to be taking their time.
-Are you all done?
Well, that's it for the house tours for today. Let's hit the road.
So, that's it for day one.
We're two properties down as the sun sets over County Down.
Coming up next in our search for the perfect bungalow,
we have the mystery house.
That's a strange kitchen, Jonnie.
Yeah, it's a strange kitchen and at the moment you might
be boiling a kettle and eating noodles out of a pot!
But will it rise to the occasion?
I like it.
So, to sum up, yesterday's properties started off pretty well.
Lovely interiors, but maybe not big enough.
The second property, certainly big enough,
didn't get the right feel for the interiors.
That leaves us with the final property,
which is the mystery house.
As you might expect, there are some quite sizable compromises with the mystery house.
But there are some major plusses.
Can't wait to see their reactions.
What do you think the mystery house might be?
I can't imagine. I think it may be a house,
cos we asked for a bungalow. It may be a house.
It could be an apartment.
Would it be a disaster if it was a house?
Not really, as long as it was in the right location.
Well, that's a good job,
as Marguerite is very close to the mark.
We're heading just a few miles south of Banbridge
to the rural outskirts of Loughbrickland.
No prizes for guessing the village is the name after nearby lake,
Loughbrickland, which is famed for its speckled trout.
The village itself is stocked with a Post Office and a church,
and thirsts can be quenched either in a pub or in the local tea rooms.
Right, then. You asked for new. We've got new.
-What about this?
-That is wonderful.
There's a lot of property here, guys.
Yes. Liking the garage.
It's brand spanking new.
So new, in fact, that it's not quite finished.
The guy that built the so far is a builder.
He will finish it off for you, but there'll be some extras to pay.
So these are big compromises I'm talking about, I appreciate.
Knowing what we know, are you still prepared to have a look around?
Absolutely, yeah. Fine.
'Well, Marguerite said she wanted modern, and you don't get much more modern than this chalet bungalow.
'I'm going to let you into a secret.
'This is over budget, but it's so spacious and delivers everything they wanted and more.
'We just had to show it to them.'
Now then. You've got something that's quite rare to find in a bungalow,
a set of stairs! Quite grand, aren't they?
-Huge, lovely staircase.
-I don't often say wow, but this is wow.
-Very, very nice.
-I think the whole house is impressive.
-Do you want to have a look?
-Sure. Yeah, please.
So, what would you use this room for?
-A lounge. Yes. Very nice.
-There is nothing to do apart from stick a fire surround in there.
Nothing. Nothing at all.
-So you reckon this would be your living room? Yeah?
-I think so.
Now, you've not seen the rest of the house yet,
so you might well change your mind.
You've got options here.
Speechless! It's huge.
Good heavens. What a space.
-There's a few spaces, aren't they?
There are, yes.
If you think about sun rooms,
you couldn't get a better one, could you?
No, glass all the way around.
-So now, you've got a sun room, you've got a living room, dining room.
What's that going to be?
A study. A little study.
Now, so far,
there's wood flooring throughout.
Wood skirting. You've not mentioned that.
-I like this wood flooring, actually.
I like it. It's not overpowering.
-Everywhere's white. It's nice.
Nice and light. You could really, really put your own stamp on this.
-I think so.
-Do you want to keep looking?
That's a strange kitchen, Jonnie.
Yes, it's a strange kitchen, in as much that
at the moment you might be boiling a kettle
-and eating noodles out of a pot!
-It looks that way.
But the hard work, believe it or not, has been done again.
Everything in this house is plumbed in.
All it is now is buying the kitchen units, the worktops.
You can choose whatever kind of kitchen you want.
-It's a lot to take on, I know.
'There's a lot to take in, too.
'The rest of the ground floor consists of two bedrooms, a single bedroom
'and a guest bedroom with a shower room which is yet to be plumbed in.'
So, going up the stairs for the first time.
-How does it feel?
-They are, aren't they.
And up the stairs we go.
We've got two bedrooms on this floor.
This is clearly your master room.
Look at the size of it. Beautiful.
-Yes, it is nice shape.
And, look at those views. Every morning. It's almost like it's framed, isn't it?
-It is, it's almost like a picture hanging on the wall.
Yes, which will change throughout the year.
Yes, change with the seasons.
Well, there are more far reaching views
from the fourth bedroom, which is also a double.
Both rooms share what will be a sizable bathroom.
However, it's that very sizable garage
I know Roger just can't wait to check out.
It's almost like a separate house, this.
-What about this?
What a nice space. I like it!
-You could live out here.
-Is that a request?
Just through there you've got plumbing for a loo as well.
-Oh, well, self contained.
-Yeah, very happy.
'I think I hear boxes being ticked right, left and centre.
'Now, there's one last element to get right, the garden.
'With a large veranda and a small lawn, it's entirely manageable and,
'once again, there are views to ooh and aah over.'
I thought yesterday's scenery was nice. This is even better.
And you look at the back of the house from here, I think it looks better from here.
-It's impressive, isn't it? Stands beautifully.
Oh dear. Oh dear.
-Now comes the crunch.
How much do you think this house is on the market for?
I think its way, way over budget, and I would say it's £395,000.
Oh, goodness. I would go, £325,000.
-I want a bargain!
-Well, you're after a bargain, aren't you?
I'm afraid it's bad news for both of you. You are both out.
Because it's under that.
It's on the market for £298,000.
-Where do I sign?
-Have you got your cheque book with you?
I'm here to keep your feet on the floor as well.
I want you to find the right place for you guys.
But it's over budget and there's still money to be spent on it.
So start thinking about what piggy banks have got what.
Go in there and have a chat, and I'll probably catch you in a while.
-You might not find us!
-See you in a bit.
Well, I'm chuffed because...
I knew they'd like it, it's a fantastic building,
but what I'm chuffed at is that they weren't hugely put off by the price.
This is a fantastic opportunity.
Yes, it's going to stretch them financially,
but they'd never want to leave, would they?
On the market for £298,000, this ultra-modern chalet bungalow
is a stretch over budget,
but delivers everything they've asked for and then some.
Or, it will do once it's finished.
It has four reception rooms, with an open plan flow, four bedrooms,
one of which will be en suite, a large kitchen to be completed,
and it has an absolutely massive double garage.
As a bonus, it also comes with a nine years builders warranty.
They obviously love it, but when reality bites,
will they think it's worth the extra outlay?
It's fantastic. It's wonderful, it really is something special.
More than I ever dreamt of, really.
Your cooker would ... The cooker would probably be on this wall.
That's all ready for electricity.
Plenty of sockets, aren't there?
It would take some furnishing, a kitchen this size.
The mystery property has certainly been a mystery property.
It is absolutely amazing.
So, I feel very, very good about it, actually.
Wouldn't it be marvellous if we could afford this, Roger?
It really is a dream property.
I knew I'd find you either looking at the house or at these views.
The views are fantastic.
Whichever way you look, it's fantastic.
I think I need to take you away from this wonderful setting.
You need to have a bit of a chat
-and maybe we'll have a discussion later on as well.
Let's hit the road.
Now, big gardens and veggie plots are usually a top priority
for most of our buyers, but not today.
I'm missing out on my usual fill of botanical delights,
so during the week I couldn't resist the chance
to visit the 90 acre garden at Mount Stuart on the edge of Strangford Lough.
Preserved by the National Trust since the late 1950s,
today there are open to the public to be enjoyed by all.
Head gardener Phil Rollinson kindly offered to show me around.
So, Phil, what brought about this inspiration, if you like,
for these magnificent gardens?
These are the creation of Edith, Lady Londonderry,
who came to live here just after the end of the First World War.
She realised that we got quite a unique micro-climate here,
because we're very close to sea water,
we're right on the shores of Strangford Lough.
And not far away from the Irish Sea.
So she discovered that she could actually grow things here that you'd
only really find growing in the south-west of England.
It's got this exotic feel to it.
Well-educated and well-travelled, Lady Londonderry took inspiration
from all over the world to design many gardens within one garden.
As well as the dodo terrace and Italian garden,
she created the Spanish gardens,
so called for its green roofed summer house and cypress tree arches.
A nod to the Alhambra Palace in Granada.
Whilst the sunken garden, with its flame-coloured azaleas and blue delphiniums,
was her most colourful and most stylised effort,
she really let her playful side loose in the Shamrock Garden.
This area here is all about symbolism, so you've got this shape
of a shamrock and the hedges accentuate that as well.
And then you've got this amazing red hand.
The red hand relates to the legend of the two giants that were racing
across the Irish Sea from Scotland to lay claim to the land of Ulster,
and they had a bet that the first one
that would lay his hand on the land would get it.
And the one that was losing the race could see
that he was going to lose so he chopped off his
left hand and flung it to the shore where it landed,
and that's where this legend of the red hand comes from.
And we try and emulate that with plants.
So we've just missed it at its best.
Just missed it, the tulips have just gone over.
-That will give me an excuse to come back.
'And I definitely will revisit.
'But now, it's crunch time.
'Will Marguerite and Roger be planting their feet at any of the properties we have shown them?'
Well, I've got a pretty good idea, as I'm sure you have, of which of
the three properties will be the favourite for Roger and Marguerite.
But let's face it, it comes with some huge compromises
that may yet affect their decision.
It's time to find out.
You had a lot to think about, haven't you?
A lot, Jonnie, yes. We certainly have.
So, let's talk about the properties.
Cast your minds back to yesterday morning.
We drove up to the top of that road and we saw that lovely bungalow with those views.
The bungalow itself was beautiful. It was in a lovely area.
The inside of the property was beautifully presented,
but the rooms were a little bit on the small side
for what we actually were looking for.
It had potential for the sun room, but you'd need something on top.
-You would you really, yes.
-OK, moving on from there. We then went to
a much larger property with quite a lot of wood in it.
-You could say that.
-But it was big, wasn't it?
-It was big.
But it didn't seem to have the right feel for you, certainly, Marguerite?
It didn't, no. As soon as I went in I just didn't feel right about it.
You get certain vibes, don't you, when you walk into a place
and that just wasn't doing it for me either.
Today brought new challenges,
and new emotions came to the fore, didn't they?
What do you think of the mystery house
now you've come away from there?
A house like that you'd be extremely proud to have anybody come and see you.
But, in the back of my mind, I always knew it was over budget.
Money just didn't seem to matter when I saw that property!
It did blow me away.
It seems a silly question. That's your favourite property, isn't it?
-So, what's the next move for you guys?
We've just got to get our feet back on the ground and just think,
how much more needs spending on it?
i.e. the kitchen, the rest of your furnishings,
and just generally weigh that expense up, really.
Well, look, very exciting. There's lots of homework to do.
Homework you probably didn't envisage.
But you could have the most amazing of homes, couldn't you?
-We certainly could.
Please keep in touch, and let us know how you get on.
We will. Thank you for all your help.
It's funny, isn't it? In the second property,
Roger and Marguerite said they didn't want to do any work.
Cosmetic, or whatever it was, there had to be the finished product.
Take them to the mystery house, and they completely changed their minds.
But that's because they get the right feel.
The house had the right location, it gave them all the space and more.
Now, they've got the choice of taking on a house that,
whilst it's over budget, they might able to
negotiate it down towards their price, but they have a house
that they can finish to their very own specification,
and that's a really exciting project for them.
I wish them both the very best of luck.
But from me, and from County Down, that's about it.
We'll see you next time.
'Marguerite and Roger revisited the mystery house, but sadly decided
'it would push their budget too far to get the high-spec finish
'they felt the house warranted.
'However, it certainly gave them ideas, as they have now found a house -
yes, a house, not a bungalow - near the Mourne mountains.
We wish them the very best of luck.
If you'd like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland,
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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.