For the third episode of the series Christine heads back home to Strangford Lough where she visits an enchanted garden, dodges whirlpools on the lough and discovers that seaweed could be the answer to future world energy problems.
Christine says: “This place is full of happy memories for me. This is where I grew up, this is where we holidayed, it’s where we went for Sunday drives, ice-creams at the weekend with mum and dad. Funnily enough, it’s not until you leave this part of the world, and you come back every so often, it’s then that you really appreciate how beautiful it is.”
Christine begins at Mount Stewart, an 18th Century country house with a fairy-tale enchanted garden thanks to a micro-climate in the area. Christine enjoys exploring the beautiful gardens and seeing the unusual statues that were put there by Lady Londonderry in the 1920s. Plus, the presenter has a go at maintaining the lawns on a ride-on lawnmower.
Next Christine heads to Portaferry at the southern part of the lough, where it narrows and has an incredibly powerful tidal force. Jeremy Rogers takes Christine out onto lough and shows her the area where the water appears to boil as there is so much activity under the surface. As they sit in the boat they can see whirlpools appearing ahead of them. Jeremy reassures Christine that the currents at that moment are not too strong, but that boats can be pulled into the pools on a bad day. Jeremy also takes Christine to see a turbine that has been built to harness the power of the lough.
Christine tells the programme that folklore has it that there are 365 islands on the lough, one for everyday of the year. Many of them can be visited and people can even stay over night, but only one is a full-time home. Christine meets Michael and Lynne Falkner who have turned their family holiday home, which was originally a pre-fabricated prisoner of war hut, into a permanent residence.
Michael explains the ups and downs of island life. He says: “You’re dependent on the tide and you’re dependent on the weather. You wouldn’t know whether you were going to wake up and find that it is impossible to leave the island for a day or two, and that would happen a few times a year.”
Christine looks around the home before enjoying cup of tea on the terrace with the stunning view of the lough.
For her final stop in Northern Ireland, Christine discovers something that she never knew was going on so close to where she grew up. With the worldwide race to discover a sustainable energy source to provide us with power for the future, she discovers that the solution may have been found beneath this lough in Northern Ireland. Bio-chemists Emma and Karen take Christine paddling in the edges of the lough looking for a special species of seaweed which could be developed for bio-fuel as it can convert sunlight into energy.
Christine says: ‘Even though I thought I knew this area, I’ve been surprised about what I’ve found on the shores, out on the water and even under the surface. This lough has the power to fascinate and enchant those that live and work around it. And as for that magic I felt as I child? I think it’s still there.”