13 August 2016

Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland

Every blogger secretly wants to discover hidden gems right? I mean it's practically in the job description: Chatterbox required for hours sat in front of a screen editing words and photos about unusual things. Must bring own mug and discover 'hidden gems'.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Mount Stewart isn't a hidden gem, it is one of Northern Ireland's diadem rocks, second to the actual rocks of the Giant's Causeway. The opening hours were flexible (to say the least) on the rainy day that we visited, so we wandered through the gardens whilst the grey clouds threatened.

Warning: I also somehow managed to get every photo slightly askew.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Inbetween the rumbling clouds, we explored the sprawling gardens, restored to the splendour of their original planting in the 1920s (overseen) by Edith, Lady Londonderry. 
 Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

The greenery was interspersed with a scattering of fascinating statuary, politically planted flower beds (featuring the harp and red hand of Ulster) and a beguiling smattering of paths.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

We were the only people foolish hardy enough to be wandering through, and took our sweet time (with a close eye on those clouds.)

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Out damned spot, or off damned raindrop, rather.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Behind large leafy fronds, concrete faces smiled out at us in a variety of curious gazes.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

With the threatened rain drops beginning to splodge, we made our way inside the hallowed halls where the current generation family still live, after a National Trust regeneration of £8 or so million pounds. Running into Lady Rose Lauritzen, a direct descendant of the Marquesses of Londonderry, we took our time to explore each of the rooms.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

The interior is all the glorious opulence I have come to expect of titled family estates usually established for longer than New Zealand has history (with some of that history caused by mischievous generations...)

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Just a casual set of armour on the walls...

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

...titles on the dining room table...

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

...priceless artwork hanging on the stairwells...

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

...and galleons whimsically hung from the light fittings (an optical illusion that would sit on the nearby lake before the trees grew so high)

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi
 
Though with animal snacks dotted around the living rooms, and silver-plated dog bowls, I feel like these would be my people.

I did wonder what these two dudes were discussing "OMG, did you SEE that volunteer's skirt clashing with her jumper?" < Why I can never work in a museum...

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

...before we finished the house tour with a peek into the family chapel hung with lions rampant.

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Oh, and we couldn't get a seat in the cafe for a spot of tea and scones because when we wandered in it was swarming with elderly people. Does the disappointment make me an elderly people?
Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Mount Stewart National Trust Belfast Northern Ireland Adventures of a London Kiwi

Luckily our friend and local guide extraordinaire knew of nearby village that purveys the most ridiculous cinnamon scones so all was not lost on our last morning of Northern Ireland rambling...

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