Saturday, 26 September 2009

Luxurious Northern Ireland

Just returned from a couple of days staying the luxurious Galgorm Manor resort and spa in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

It was a chance to combine a bit of business with pleasure as we recently supplied the hotel with approx 30 framed works of art for the public areas of the resort.

As well as providing an opportunity for a bit of relaxation (and a deep-tissue massage from a little Irish girl with surprising strength!) it was also interesting to visit Northern Ireland for the first time.

The Galgorm is in a stunning location next to a fast running stretch of the river Maine next to a stunning waterfall - about 20 minutes from Belfast International Airport.

Arriving at Belfast Airport was a bit like stepping back into the 1970's - it looks a bit tired to say the least.

Immediately we left the airport by taxi we found ourselves plunged into lush green countryside (no major road here) as our talkative driver careered down country lanes regaling us with his views on a wide range of issues.

He talked about how Northern Ireland had, until recently, taken-off in the last ten years since the end of 'The Troubles'. We zoomed past a number of posh housing estates, all of which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and he explained how a huge influx of investment had driven property prices to wild heights, only for them to come crashing down last year. He pointed out a particular group of large executive homes that were selling in 2008 for over £500k but were now struggling to sell for less than £250k..

I don't suppose, unless a business related reason had arisen, I would have visited Northern Ireland but I am glad I did. Unsurprisingly it looks and feels just like Southern Ireland but with the pound as it's currency and UK style road-signs.

I did wonder how long it can be before the historical accident of this land being part of the United Kingdom will be consigned to history? In the long term, it seems just as logical that Northern Ireland should be part of the Country of Ireland as it does that Normandy should be part of France rather than England..

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