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Behind me is a lough, and at its inland head lies a city port
which has provided the chance of a new life for thousands of people
through the ships that once graced its docks.
And one iconic ship was launched off these very waters back in 1911.
So, where am I, and which ship was she?
Find out in just a moment.
Today, it's family ties luring our house hunters
to a new life in a new land.
And our property search is full of surprises.
Oh, my God. I didn't expect anything like that.
But it's not just our couple we're accommodating.
So, how many alpacas can we get on there?
-Oh, we'd get loads on there.
Today, I'm in Northern Ireland, and this is Belfast Lough,
where the River Lagan runs into the Irish Sea.
Now, at the mouth of the river stands the great city of Belfast,
renowned both as an exit port for immigrants to New World destinations
and its illustrious shipbuilding past -
in particular, the construction of perhaps the most famous ship
in the whole world - the RMS Titanic.
Now, later on in the programme, I'll be finding out more about
this country's glorious shipbuilding heritage
and visiting the place where the story of the Titanic first began.
There are six historic counties that make up
the country of Northern Ireland,
spanning nearly 5,500 square miles.
Bordering five of these is a Lough Neagh.
Lying at the heart of the country,
it's the largest freshwater lake in the UK.
Covering 220 square miles of moorland and woodland,
the highest point is found in the Mourne Mountains,
a brooding landscape that inspired much of CS Lewis's mythical Narnia.
Curious natural phenomena draws visitors to the Giant's Causeway
on Antrim's northern shore,
a spectacular formation of hexagonal basalt columns
that rise dramatically from the sea.
Of Northern Ireland's 1.8 million population, a third are fortunate
to enjoy the quality of life that can only be found in
the unsurpassed rural enchantment of this beautiful Emerald Isle.
Despite its mesmerising natural beauty,
Northern Ireland boasts some of the best-valued property in the UK.
The average price of detached homes here come in at around £189,000.
But, as with anywhere, this part of the world
also has its hot spots.
For example, County Down has the capital, it has the coast,
it also has two airports, so homes there tend to be
the most sought-after and typically come at a premium.
Today, we have a family that are so keen to buy a slice of
this beautiful countryside that they're travelling
over 200 miles to be here.
Ruth and Stewart from Hartlepool in County Durham
are both mental-health nurses.
They've been married for 16 years.
-We met on the wards, didn't we?
You were the nurse in charge, I think, on my first day.
-So we tried to keep it secret.
-And I think...
-Arranging dates over the dinner trolley.
They've spent a lifetime in Hartlepool, and 5½ years
in their current four-bedroom detached coastal home.
But with Stewart's imminent retirement,
they've decided it's time to up sticks and start afresh.
I'm quite open to moving to anywhere in the countryside, really.
Initially looked at Scotland,
and then I think you mentioned Ireland.
The countryside's just so green, it's beautiful,
and everyone's really friendly.
Their 14-year-old son, rugby enthusiast Charlie,
and Ruth's mum Gillian will be crossing the water, too.
But it's Gillian's family ties that are driving
the move to Northern Ireland.
With me mam coming, originating from Ireland,
if we were going to make that big move,
-it seemed to make sense to take Mam back to Ireland...
..and to be with our family over there.
And with their relocation on the cards,
there are also plans for a complete life change.
The dream. It's The Good Life.
It's being as self-sufficient as we possibly can be
and enjoying family time.
We just want to enjoy the lifestyle and have enough money
-so we can do that, don't we?
We've looked at glamping.
I thought either the glamping or holiday cottages,
something like that.
They're also hoping to keep a variety of animals
and have already got a head start on their menagerie.
They'll be taking their four dogs and five alpacas with them.
We went to the glamping show just to get some ideas,
didn't we, last September, and there was an alpaca stand there.
And Ruth, as soon as she them, she said, "I would love them alpacas."
And from there, really, it became a big idea for us.
We'd like to become serious breeders, I think, really.
So, with big plans for their small holding, an offer on their house
and family ties pulling them westwards, the family is
getting ready for their new life surrounded by those who matter most.
I think it's took me a little while to realise that
things don't make you happy -
it's kind of the people around you that do.
So it's having time together and enjoying life, really.
I'm looking forward to a new chapter in me life, really.
-I'm very keen to get away and get started.
Ruth and Stewart are happy to consider anywhere
in Northern Ireland to lay down roots,
so the country's our oyster as we begin our search.
I'm catching up with them to discuss the finer details
of their property wish list.
Welcome to Northern Ireland.
So, Ruth, this isn't just about bricks and mortar
-for the whole family, is it?
-It's about changing the way you live your lives.
Ruth works in quite an intense place,
where, at times, it gets very stressful,
so we just want to try and take some of that stress off her, really.
-But you're in a good place, aren't you?
-Because your mum's sold her house...
-..yours is going through.
So we know the pressure is on to find you this perfect property.
What exactly are we looking for with the property itself?
We're looking for somewhere with some land.
The style of the house, we're quite open-minded, aren't we, really?
-How many bedrooms would you like?
-At least three.
And taking with the family, the extended family,
-Yeah, that would be lovely.
We're looking at somewhere with, like, an annexe or something
that we could develop for Ruth's mam to live in.
And land, how many acres exactly?
-Minimum ten acres.
-Whoa! We're talking a lot, aren't we?
Ideally, I'd like to do, sort of,
an old barn holiday cottage, or something like that.
And you don't mind a bit of work, a bit of a project?
-I was a bricklayer before I was a nurse, so...
..something like that would be ideal.
And also, location-wise, obviously, you're looking at being
-sort of semirural with that much land...
-..but mindful of Charlie, with schools...
Charlie's a keen rugby player,
-so we need to get somewhere what's got a good rugby club going.
Let's remind ourselves how much we've got to spend with this move.
Yeah... Up to 500,000.
Um, if we go to 500,000, we would hope that would have
sort of a business attached to it already.
-Let's see how we get on.
For their top budget of £500,000, Ruth and Stewart are looking for
a property with land where they can keep animals
and welcome paying guests.
They're looking for a home with a large kitchen-diner
and at least three bedrooms.
Ideally, there'll be an annexe for Ruth's mum Gillian,
or the potential to create living quarters for her.
And location-wise, they need to be within easy reach of a school
for their son Charlie.
We've gathered a fabulous selection of properties for Ruth
and Stewart to tour, but only after they've viewed each one
will I reveal its price tag.
The final visit to the Mystery House
will go above and beyond their requirements,
and could be just the ticket to set them off on their new path.
We're heading to Coleraine, right up in the north of the country.
It's a location that's close to the coast
and situated on the River Bann.
The town square, known as The Diamond, is home to the town hall.
There are plenty of good schools here and a rugby club.
Ruth's extended family is also nearby.
We're travelling just over five miles away to a rural setting,
where we find this handsome house.
So you can now take a look at your first property.
-Oh, my God. I didn't expect anything like that.
-A bit of a surprise.
We're elevated, so you do get a spectacular view.
-Now, can't lie, there is a main road at the bottom.
But if you're thinking of business opportunities, you know,
-for your son to catch the bus...
-Yeah. Yeah, that's true.
-I bet you're very keen to get in, aren't you?
-We are, yeah.
-Shall we start?
This grand and substantial house was built in the Georgian style
just ten years ago.
As such, it's got all the modern conveniences
and is ready to move straight into.
So, a very pleasing hallway here.
Which leads us through... a large dining room.
But let's start off the tour off with this, the main sitting room.
-Yeah, it's lovely, isn't it?
-Not what we were expecting.
-What were you expecting?
Something small, weren't we?
Yeah, we were thinking we were going to have to
-get rid of all our furniture!
-Think you might have to buy some more if you buy this property!
A cracking start to our first house. Long may it continue.
-Let's take a look at the kitchen.
So, you do have a second sitting room there, stroke snug.
-Which is wonderful because...
..leads into the kitchen.
-So all the family can be together.
Yes, it's lovely, isn't it?
-Especially with the two rooms onto it, as well.
-Makes it nice and cosy.
-Yeah, it's nice, yeah.
Everything an extra, really, by the looks of it.
Wonderful reactions to what we've seen so far.
And also situated on the ground floor is a sunroom
to one side of the kitchen...
..plus a study to the other.
Moving upstairs, there's an attractive contemporary
family bathroom, servicing four of the six double bedrooms.
There are two on one side of the landing -
one at the front of the house, and one at the back.
Beyond these two rooms is a small nursery,
a shower room,
and what's currently in use as a games room.
On the other side of the house there's a double
with a feature window and an en suite.
But we're heading to the master, which also has an en suite
and a pretty sizeable dressing room.
-Oh, it's lovely.
-Nice and light, isn't it?
-So I've earmarked this space for the two of you.
-Six bedrooms, all of them are a really good size.
-Plus a games room up here, as well.
But also the games room has access downstairs.
One, that could be fantastic for Charlie,
especially as he gets older.
-Two, it could be fantastic for Gillian, your mum.
My third thought was, business opportunities.
Because it has a separate entrance you could actually let that out.
-Oh, right. So a holiday let sort of thing.
-Are we surprising you?
-Very much so!
Didn't expect a house this size at all.
Above us on the second floor there's even more.
Bedroom numbers five and six are both loft rooms.
But we're heading outside which for Stewart could be
even more important than the house.
To the front is a lawned garden
which overlooks a three-acre paddock ideal for glamping...
..and to take in the views.
There's also an outbuilding divided into three separate spaces,
including an office.
And now to address the burning question of acreage.
Ideally, you asked me for ten.
We're probably going to be giving you about half of that
-with this property.
You know, if you wanted chickens or pigs or a vegetable patch,
the land is here.
-Perhaps not the acreage that ideally you were after.
-But you could certainly easily change it.
Let's see what price we're going to put on this property and see
if there's enough money left in the pot for you perhaps
to buy some additional land or even lease it.
-What are we thinking?
I think around 450.
£450,000, interesting, OK.
I'm going to say 425.
Ooh, you're very good at this, aren't you?
The asking price is £425,000.
Fancy having another look around on your own?
-Oh, yes, please.
-Go on, then.
This impressive home has come in a generous £75,000 under budget.
It's beautifully finished throughout with an open-plan kitchen,
five reception rooms and six bedrooms,
plus an additional room that has its own access.
Outside offers scope for a new business with five acres of land.
This is definitely more house than I thought
I was going to get for my budget.
I really thought we would be downsizing,
but actually, yep, from four beds to six beds!
A little bit disappointed with the land.
I think I would probably prefer half the house and double the land.
-Yes, very much so, yeah.
-Yeah, thanks, lovely.
Takes a while to get round that property, doesn't it?
-Yeah, you get lost.
-You do get lost, yeah.
-But I've found you and we're going to head off now. Come on.
Ruth and Stewart are counting down to being as self-sufficient
as possible when they make their move
and to witness first-hand how it's done, they've come to meet
Claire and Steve Golemboski-Byrne who try to make as little impact
on the environment as possible on their six-acre smallholding.
-Nice to meet you.
-Welcome to Lackan Cottage Farm.
It's located in a stunning spot in the shadow of the
Mourne Mountains in County Down.
-Yeah, you've got a gorgeous spot here.
How long have you been here for?
-We've been here five years now.
-Right, and what do you do here?
-Well, it's our home, we live off-grid.
And we also run courses.
-We do things like woodworking, we do lots of crafts.
Willow basket making.
But that's not all.
Claire and Steve also make it possible for others to sample
their sustainable way of life by renting out a cottage on their land.
-We're Northern Ireland's only off-grid self kitchen.
So, why did you choose to go off-grid?
We just wanted to be responsible for our own energy production.
So we have the wind turbine, we have the solar panels.
You're more in tune with the weather.
Ruth and Stewart are considering holiday lets themselves
in their new property...
..so they're keen to have a look inside Claire
and Steve's unique cottage, which they renovated themselves.
Because of the way it runs it has absolutely no utility bills.
Beautiful, it wasn't what I expected.
-Yeah, it's really cosy, especially with the log burner.
How does it work with being off-grid, then,
having the holiday cottage?
Well, all the electricity we generate on-site,
-so it comes from the wind turbine and solar panels.
And then the hot water in the underfloor
comes from solar panels on the roof...
-..from the sun, and the little wood burner.
As well as all-year-round bookings for the cottage,
this eco-friendly pair also offer popular courses.
They're run from their classroom which has been built
using natural local materials.
Ruth and Stewart will be getting hands-on with one of these courses,
learning how to make a willow fence.
-So do you cut that willow yourself, then?
-Yeah, we grow it here on site.
-It's really simple.
So what we do, we just weave this willow in and out of the upright.
-And then once we've got a few in, we can bend them over
and tuck them in and it will hold itself together
so there's no need for any string or anything, it just sits here.
The willow grown here is organic and flexible.
Not only practical, it will ultimately decompose
and become fertiliser -
all part of the sustainable philosophy at work here.
-Have I done that right?
-That one looks too low.
-That one that way.
-That one... Push it down.
-Just push it down to the line.
-That's it. The trick is using stuff that's available.
-Yeah, it's getting there, isn't it?
-Yeah, it soon starts to...
-It gets a little bit more sturdy as you go.
-It will get easier as you get further up, doesn't it?
-And push them down.
-Erm... I think we need to be...
-Yeah, do a second.
-So, is it this bit that goes...?
-Yeah, so tuck it down there.
-So, is this how you finish them off, then?
Turn them over and then we'll just thread the end through here...
-..and that will hold it tightly enough.
-We done that.
-That was great.
-Yeah, thanks very much.
-It's really good.
-OK, thanks for your help.
-And good luck with the house-hunting.
With a new skill under their belts, and full of inspiration
after their visit, it's back to the search
for a slice of the Northern Irish good life for Ruth and Stewart.
We're on our way to Ballymoney in Antrim towards the north-east
of the country.
It's a small town that's awash with independent shops and eateries
and there's also a high school and rugby club.
On the outskirts of the town in a peaceful setting,
a long gravel driveway leads us to this double-fronted,
rather smart property.
Take a look at your house.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Wow. Yeah. Lovely.
-I like it. Yeah.
But it is a splendid property.
-Oh, this feels good.
And shall I let you into a little secret right at the beginning?
So you've got your house here, you've got a garage there.
But I'm going to take you inside, show you the house where
-you're going to live and then we'll worry about the animals.
-Lovely. Yeah, deal.
This somewhat stately home was built in 2006
and is finished to a very high standard.
As we enter the property through double oak doors, we're greeted
by a grand hallway which leads us to a triple-aspect sitting room.
-It's lovely. I like the fire. That's really nice.
That's an open fire. SHE GASPS
-Oh, lovely, that's what we want.
-That would be nice, yeah.
I could see our furniture in here.
-And you've got two reception rooms.
You've got one at the other side, as well,
which is perhaps a tad smaller.
A good start, brilliant.
And I don't think you are going to be disappointed with the kitchen.
-A practical tiled floor for the four dogs...
..that are going to be moving in.
That's a good size, isn't it...?
-This is good, I like this.
-..the dining room bit.
-The dining table... Our table would go in there, wouldn't it?
-It would fit in there lovely.
-There's a bit more to it.
Round the side there's an additional room.
I'm going to call it the sun room
because I think it would be fantastic to read in that room,
but it could be a study, it could be another sitting room.
It feels like we could fit in here, doesn't it? It feels...
Yeah, it's got a good feeling. Definitely.
Well, a successful tour downstairs.
May it continue when I show you the bedrooms.
A beautiful bespoke glazed-oak staircase leads us
upstairs to a long hallway with solid wood floors.
There's a stylish family bath and shower room
that serves four of the five bedrooms.
There are three spacious doubles, all dual aspect,
allowing in lots of light.
Then there's the smaller double bedroom which just leaves
the largest of the five, the master.
So this is the main bedroom with its own en suite.
A rather large bathroom there.
-And you've got a dressing room just behind you, too.
-Charlie would be wanting the en suite, wouldn't he?
-We'd be fighting over it.
-Does it feel like somewhere that you could all live?
-I think so, yeah.
-I think so, yeah.
-Yeah. Plenty of room.
-Yeah, there is.
Now, if you all wanted to live under one roof you could do it here
but I know Gillian would ideally like her own space...
-Yes, she would.
-..and her own independence.
But, you know, we do have some options
so keep that in the back of your mind.
The interior of this fabulous home has Ruth and Stewart
making all the right noises and I think that'll continue
as we head outside to take in the ten acres of land,
which includes a raised deck...
..two large paddocks...
..and an extensive lawn area.
All in all, plenty of space for alpacas and glamping.
There's also a double detached garage with what could be
an office above it, or even a bedroom.
Just standing out here, the sun's come out, it's shining,
peace and quiet. Is this what you had in mind?
-It's just perfect, isn't it?
-You can hear the birds singing, can't you?
The current owners applied for planning permission to build
-a separate building, and it was granted.
Well, that sounds interesting.
-Now, you did say you used to be a bricklayer, is that right?
So if the budget allows, you don't have to do it straightaway,
you could actually build another property there for the family.
-How would Gillian feel about living here?
-Mam would love it, wouldn't she?
-Yeah, she'd love it.
-And close to family, as well.
-It's a lot to think about, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
It's a lot to think about. Is it a lot to pay?
I think it's top of the budget.
I'm going to say £500,000.
I think I'm going to go a bit lower.
I'm going to hopefully say 425.
Oh, you are hopeful, aren't you? Very hopeful!
Well, the asking price is still way under your top budget.
-They're asking for £449,950.
-That doesn't sound too bad, does it?
Hands up who wants to have another look? Go, please.
Have a wander. I'll see you later.
This beautifully kitted-out detached home has a price tag
some £50,000 under Ruth and Stewart's budget.
It's finished to a high standard and comes with a large
kitchen/diner, three reception rooms and five bedrooms.
It all sits in ten acres of land.
Plus there's planning permission in place to build a second dwelling.
This house is absolutely beautiful.
It's got a beautiful house, it's got potential in the land,
it's got ten acres, which we asked for.
And a possible kind of area for me mam
and planning permission for another house.
It's got lots of potential.
The setting, I like the setting.
I am more around the setting and the land than the house.
It's just the setting, it's so peaceful and beautiful, isn't it?
Because there's obviously lots of potential for development with the
building plot and the garage there, a possible annexe for Ruth's mum.
I could really see my family here, I really can. Yeah.
So that's it for today.
-Ending on a high note, I wonder?
-And guess what? I've got more to show you tomorrow.
It's day two of our tour around Northern Ireland, searching out
a home to entice Ruth and Stewart from Hartlepool to cross the water.
And with a budget of £500,000, they are on the hunt for a house
with land for themselves, their son, and Ruth's mum, Gillian.
We've still got a big surprise to come with our Mystery House.
-Are we allowed to look yet?
-You are allowed to look. Come on.
It's the mystery!
And I'll be learning about one of the most majestic
and tragic vessels in the world.
We are actually standing on the birthplace of Titanic.
This is where she was actually built from the ground floor up.
It's day two of our house search,
and we have still got the Mystery House to come, and I've got
a feeling it's going to offer Stewart more than he ever imagined.
For our final stop on our property quest in Northern Ireland,
we're travelling to Portadown in Armagh in the centre of the country.
Surrounded by countryside, the provincial town is home to a
rugby club and is a short drive from the tranquil setting of Lough Neagh.
And just over ten minutes away from our next house,
there's a senior school. Even closer is a small cluster of shops,
providing local residents with all the basic amenities.
On the outskirts of Portadown, a narrow country lane
in a peaceful location leads us to our Mystery House.
-Are we are allowed to look yet?
-You are allowed to look. Come on.
-It's the mystery.
-This is looking more like it.
Is there a smile on your face?
Yeah, I can see little buildings behind and things.
-This is the dream?
-Ruth, you're getting emotional there, aren't you?
I said I wouldn't do this, but it's just...
But that's the sign, isn't it?
If you start to well up and you can feel those emotions -
Stewart is not far behind you, I'll make sure -
that shows how serious you are about this move,
and perhaps we are tantalisingly close. Before we step inside,
I just want to let you know this is a small farm.
-So, farmhouses have...
-Outbuildings and land.
-And land. Yeah.
-The first signs are good?
-The Mystery House might deliver?
Let's step inside and see what you think.
Our handsome mystery farmhouse was built in the early 1900s.
It's said that a local resident who made his fortune in America
sent money back to build it for his family. It's currently vacant.
So, let's start off in one of the sitting rooms,
because as you walk through, you've got one to one side,
and one to the other.
Now, undecorated, but you can see it for what it is.
-Yeah, it doesn't faze me, this.
-You like a challenge, don't you?
-And how is that for a fireplace?
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
So you've got a fireplace in here, and you've also got
a beautiful fireplace in the other reception room.
Any idea why it's the Mystery House?
It's got buildings and land.
-How much land did you want?
-A little bit more?
-The more the better for me.
-I feel anxious!
-Oh, brilliant. That's more like it.
It is not often I can say that with a Mystery House,
but that's what it is. It's on a very, very large plot.
-Brilliant, that sounds great.
-It's all going so well, may it continue.
With our super-sized surprise revealed, we're heading
back across the hallway to the rear of the house.
So you've got a third reception room,
which we're probably going to call the dining room.
-And then it brings us into the kitchen.
Now, my first question is, would you change the kitchen?
Got a utility room next door.
I'm guessing that used to be a larder-scullery area,
but what you could do is if you literally took that wall out and
joined up that with this, you could have a really good-sized kitchen.
Yeah, that's a good idea. Hmm. I'm quite excited.
-Feels like we could do lots in here.
Upstairs in this blank canvas of a house is a sizeable family bathroom,
with tongue-and-groove panelling, and three bedrooms.
They're all bright doubles, and two are furnished with
feature fireplaces, the largest of which could be the master.
We've made our way outside, so I can show Ruth and Stewart
the complete package on offer here -
the huge acreage that gives the property its Mystery House title.
Now, this is where it gets exciting for the two of you.
It seems I can throw anything at you,
and you're going to be going, "Yes, yes, give me more!"
-There's your mum in there!
Well, in actual fact, I'm laughing, but you're right.
Because originally, when the house was built, which we know was around
the 1900s, this was used, as well, as a dwelling,
so that could be holiday let
potential, but also could be a great place for Gillian, as well.
You've got a massive courtyard, as you can see, where we're standing.
-Do you want a big barn?
-Yeah? Stables. Whatever you like in there.
Behind us, you can see we've got an orchard, already established.
Old, isn't it?
And then in front of us we have the original milking parlour,
which, again, you can seek planning permission and you can change that.
-This is what we wanted. This is it.
-You've done it.
-Could it be yours?
Well, let's have a wander, and then we'll discuss it in further detail.
Just beyond the farm buildings are four large paddocks, ideal for
Ruth and Stewart's plans for both animals and their business ideas.
-Have we left the best till last?
-Let's hope the price is the same!
-We hope so, yeah.
Hope so for your sake! Right, serious times. What are we thinking?
It's difficult, isn't it?
Because we've moved away from the more touristy areas and the city,
but we've got more land.
Erm... Thinking around about 450.
OK, £450,000. Right. Ruth?
I was going to say 450 but that's wishful thinking.
-I think you're going to be ecstatic.
-Asking price, £400,000.
-Wow! That's good.
Look at that face. She's going! You're going, Ruth!
-Oh, you ARE going. I can see.
No, that's good. It's better than good. This is what it's all about.
-I don't want to leave.
-Do you want to have a wander?
-All right. See you in a minute.
I say "see you in a minute" -
-I think I'm going to see them in about two hours!
Our brick-built mystery farmhouse is priced £100,000 below budget,
and is just waiting for someone to turn it into a family home.
It's got three reception rooms,
the potential for a great kitchen/diner, and three bedrooms.
Outside, there are a number of outbuildings offering
the chance for additional living quarters and business opportunities,
and all this in a rambling 16 acres of countryside.
I've got an image of all our polytunnels. Here they are.
-The top corner, yeah.
-Yeah. All our veg and things.
-Wow! This is a big area, isn't it, actually?
-So, a little bit glamping.
Maybe do one of the barns up as a holiday cottage.
And we'll be set, won't we? A few animals, a few pigs, sheep, goats.
Yeah, the Mystery House has... It's been spot-on.
It's exactly what we wanted. Somewhere for Gillian to stay,
plenty of room for our animals, everything we wanted, so, yeah.
This property has got so much potential
that we won't have to make any compromises.
We can do the development, we can have our animals,
we can think about glamping, and it's got space for everything.
I'm excited, yeah.
I want to get stuck into them barns and things, and get going.
I can really see the whole family living here, and we're actually
really, really close to one of my aunties, which is just fabulous.
We could pop in for a cuppa, which is great!
-I don't want to take you two away.
-I don't want to go!
-I don't think we are going.
-Are you not?
-Have we left the best till last?
I am so looking forward to our conversation. OK, let's go.
The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast,
is the country's largest city.
Its industrial past includes linen, rope-making and shipbuilding,
and in the early 20th century, it was the birthplace of RMS Titanic.
The huge iconic passenger ship was built by Harland and Wolff
and sank on her maiden voyage in 1912,
when she set sail from Southampton to New York.
I've come to the Titanic Belfast exhibition to meet Phil.
He's a visitor experience leader here, who's going to tell me more
about this fascinating and tragic slice of Northern Irish history.
Phil, Belfast has such a legacy when it comes to shipbuilding.
Why is that, and when did it all start?
There was a man from Scotland called Hexham, and the merchants of Belfast
asked him to open up a yard to start building ships
because of the industry back then.
In 1794, Belfast had exported over 24.7 million yards of linen.
-In fact, it was known as Linen-opolis.
So they had to get their goods to the new lands -
to Europe, to America.
And with that there, the shipbuilding continued.
Well, we're actually standing on the birthplace of Titanic.
This is where she was actually built from the ground floor up.
They wanted to build the most luxurious ship in the world.
-It was not about speed, it was about luxury.
-How big a ship was she?
Well, you can see an exact outline, as we go down here,
of the vessel itself.
So imagine this building here,
all the way to the water's edge, surrounded by...
-All this way?
-All the way.
-So this would have been the bow?
This would have been the bow, that's correct.
And if you imagine our building here,
Titanic Belfast is the same height as Titanic from keel to boat deck.
It would have been seen from everywhere in Belfast,
this huge, floating, gigantic vessel.
RMS Titanic was the biggest ship in the world at the time.
It was her empty shell which was built on the expansive concourse
before she was moved to the dry dock to be fitted.
It's in the dry dock I'm meeting Mervyn Watley,
who's the estate manager here.
Obviously there was huge cost implications to building Titanic,
and also, I suppose, time frames.
Yes, a lot of pressure on time,
and actually Titanic's exit from Belfast was delayed.
-Yes, her sister ship, Olympic, had an impact at sea
and she had to be brought back to Belfast, so
Titanic had to go out of the dock, Olympic had to come back in again.
That delayed Titanic's exit from Belfast by a number of weeks,
which in turn had a knock-on impact on her departure,
on her maiden voyage from Southampton,
and if that delay hadn't happened, it's highly unlikely that she
would have had a collision with an iceberg because the icebergs
wouldn't have been as far south at that time of the year.
I had no idea. So, in actual fact, there could have been
a very different outcome from that maiden voyage?
Very much so.
Tragically, although she was billed as virtually unsinkable,
five days into her journey,
Titanic hit the iceberg which ended her ill-fated and short career.
One person who feels the full weight of the tragedy is Susie Miller.
I'm meeting her on board SS Nomadic.
She transported Titanic passengers from port to ship,
and is the largest remaining Titanic artefact in the world.
My great-grandfather, Tommy Miller,
was an assistant deck engineer on Titanic.
He'd helped to build the ship,
in particular the engines for Titanic,
and then he decided he wanted to become a marine engineer and go
to sea, in the hope of starting a new life in New York City.
So he decided he would leave his children at home.
And did he leave any mementos,
any legacy of his time working on the ship?
So Tommy gave them each two pennies from 1912, and he said,
"Don't spend those until we are all together again".
So my grandfather describes how he stood on the shores
of Belfast Lough, and he was clutching those pennies so
tightly in his hand that the date of 1912 was nearly burnt into his palm.
Oh, my goodness! And that would have been the last time he ever saw him.
Yes, yes, because then a few weeks later,
news came back that the Titanic had hit the iceberg.
What an incredible story. Incredible.
And do we know what happened to the pennies?
My grandfather was true to his word.
He promised his dad he never would spend those two pennies,
and he didn't.
And I'm sure, as a family, it's really important to all of you to
keep the story alive and make sure it's told in the right way.
Yes, my father and now me,
we're very active members of Belfast Titanic Society and our role
there is really to preserve and protect the story of Titanic.
Long may it continue and be respected.
-Susie, thank you very much indeed.
Over 1,500 people died that fateful night, affecting countless families,
but it's heartening that, more than a century later,
the memory of those that perished still lives on.
Well, that was a really, really successful house tour,
and I've given Ruth and Stewart some time
so they can contemplate what their next move is going to be.
I hope they're not going to disappoint me on this one.
Well, we've shown you quite a broad range of properties, but I think...
I think it would be fair for me to say that there was one.
I thought there was going to be two, but then there was one
that really hit home and, of course, it was our Mystery House.
For me, it had everything that we dreamt of, really.
There's no compromising on what we can do.
We can do glamping, we can have the animals,
we can build another property, possibly.
You know, there's lots of things that we could do.
I wanted that project, I wanted them rundown down barns
so I could do them up.
-That's what I wanted, yeah.
-What happens next?
We're planning on going back tomorrow, have a look around
tomorrow before we go back home.
-We've already spoke to Charlie, and Ruth's mum.
They're desperate to get out to look at it,
so we're looking at organising that in the next couple of weeks.
-So you really are prepared to move quickly?
Our house has just gone through, we've just found out today,
so we're looking at completing on that in the next two weeks.
So we're waiting on Gillian to say yes, Charlie to say yes, and then
if everything goes according to plan, say those magic words.
-Yeah, we're looking at putting an offer in.
The Mystery House has worked its magic.
Well, may it work its magic on the rest of the family as well.
-We'll be rooting for you.
-Do let us know, won't you?
And I'd like an invite, actually, because I want
any excuse to come back to this beautiful part of the world.
-Want to see how you're getting on when you move in.
-Thank you very much.
I hope it all goes really well for you. I'm sure it will.
I had a feeling when I saw tears of joy at the start of the
house tour and smiles of relief on guess-the-price that we were
onto a winner, and it's certainly been the case with Ruth and Stewart.
They both adore our mystery farmhouse, and if the rest
of the family agree, they could be living in beautiful Northern Ireland
very soon, enjoying the kind of lifestyle that they all so crave.
I'm keeping everything crossed for them. That's it from me.
It's been the most wonderful few days
and I'll see you again soon on Escape To The Country.
Ruth and Stewart did revisit the Mystery House, and
made an offer for the asking price, but lost out to another buyer.
So, sadly, their house-hunt continues,
and we wish them the very best of luck.
If you would like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland,
Scotland, Wales or England, and need our help, why not apply online?