Travel and Adventure – Part II (Home to the shores of Loch Cuan)

There is something very special about returning home to where it all began.

When I round the bend and see this huge gorse bush I know I am truly home (image by Sabi Style)

When I round the bend and see this huge gorse bush I know I am truly home (image by Sabi Style)

 

I grew up in Northern Ireland and my early childhood was spent by the shores of Loch Cuan, an island studded sea lough.

It is more commonly known by its Old Norse name Strangford Lough. The fact that it has an Old Norse name gives you an indication to its rich history (of which Viking raiders play only a part).

 

Map of Belfast and surrounding area (image by Sabi Style)

Map of Belfast and surrounding area. image by Sabi Style

 

Strangford Lough’s archaeological heritage is breathtaking, a 10,000 year spectrum spanning Mesolithic flint and shell middens, prehistoric tombs; Celtic raths (dwelling places belonging to the nobles of the day), medieval monasteries, Tower houses from the Middle Ages and right the way through to magnificent 17th and 18th century estates with their manor houses and beautiful gardens…

 

Sketrick Castle on Sketrick Island, Killinchy (image by Sabi Style)

Sketrick Castle on Sketrick Island, Killinchy (image by Sabi Style)

 

Just like any child, my immediate world was a giant playground ready to be explored and those surrounding islands were to play host to some amazing maritime adventures. To this day the smell of the ocean or the roll of waves washing onto a beach fills me with joy.

 

Strangford Lough - out on the water (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough – out on the water (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough - view through the trees of Rainey Island (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough – view through the trees of Rainey Island (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough - view from Sketrick Island  (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough – view from Sketrick Island (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough - green fields and surrounding islands (image by Sabi Style)

Strangford Lough – green fields and surrounding islands (image by Sabi Style)

 

One of my favourite sights that lets me know I am home is the Lightship Petrel in Ballydorn Bay on Stangford Lough. It is home to the Down Cruising Club and has played host to some truly legendary parties in its time!

 

The beacon of the lightship Petrel now retired and serving as the clubhouse for the Down Cruising Club at Ballydorn Bay on Strangford Lough (image by Sabi Style)

The beacon of the lightship Petrel at Ballydorn Bay on Strangford Lough (image by Sabi Style)

The lightship Petrel built in 1913 now retired she serves as the clubhouse for the Down Cruising Club at Ballydorn on Strangford Lough (image by Sabi Style)

The lightship Petrel built in 1913 now retired she serves as the clubhouse for the Down Cruising Club at Ballydorn on Strangford Lough (image by Sabi Style)

 

From a design perspective, a real highlight of my trip home was the opportunity to stay at Florida Manor or more accurately its stable block. It has been beautifully restored and cleverly converted into apartments. A small iron plaque was uncovered during the restoration and now sits proudly on the stable wall. It is dated July 18th, 1676

 

Entrance to Florida Manor in Killinchy (image by Sabi Style)

Entrance to Florida Manor in Killinchy (image by Sabi Style)

Florida Manor's recently refurbished stable block (image by Sabi Style)

Florida Manor’s recently refurbished stable block (image by Sabi Style)

Owl like... the round windows of the stables at Florida Manor (image by Sabi Style)

Owl like… the round windows of the stables at Florida Manor (image by Sabi Style)

The morning light coming through the gate (image by Sabi Style)

The morning light coming through the gate (image by Sabi Style)

 

The main manor house is about to be restored. Now there is a project I would love to be working on!

 

Florida Manor House... The restoration begins (image by Sabi Style)

Florida Manor House… The restoration begins (image by Sabi Style)

 

I am always saddened when I mention Northern Ireland and people immediately think of the Troubles. It was definitely a part of my life and I am sure everyone who lived through it felt its impact in some way no matter how removed they were from its front lines. I saw community divided and on some level I am sure that prompted my desire to see spaces and people united.

 

When I suggest to Australian friends that they include Northern Ireland in their travel plans to the UK not all think it is a such a great idea... (image by Sabi Style)

When I suggest to Australian friends that they include Northern Ireland in their travel plans to the UK not all think it is a such a great idea… (image by Sabi Style)

 

Our world is not perfect and nor will it ever be. Rather than focus on the airbrushed perfection of that image in your favourite magazine it is better to embrace the imperfections
They are what adds the true character.

One part of interior design that I am most passionate about is that the spaces you occupy should reflect you and your story.

Otherwise it’s just a nicely designed/styled house but never truly your home.

 

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