At first, depending on which road you take, you'll see either nothing but endless fields of corn on one side, wheat on the other, or beautiful orchards of every fruit tree you can think of. Apples, oranges, cherries, bananas, pears... Beyond the orchards are the grape vineyard, small cranberry bog, and the giant garden of watermelons and berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, to be exact). Past the corn and wheat are the fields of vegetables and alfalfa. If for some reason you decide to come from the North, all you'll see is the wind farm, and beyond that, my back wall. XD
To the South and East, though, past the fruit and veggies, are the animals. Cows, horses, and sheep are out happily grazing, while pigs, chickens, and turkeys are kept a little closer to the barn. Once you get to the fields where the larger animals are left to wander during the day, you'll see a few buildings in the distance. A barn, silo, stables, and bakery will be the first structures you encounter as you come nearer to the West side of the land. There's also a greenhouse behind the barn, with a few small plants as backup for when some of the veggies are out of season. You might notice a fenced off garden between the barn and the greenhouse; that's where all the spices are grown. Thankfully, Shadow and Peanut don't like them much (though they freaking love tomatoes XD weirdos), so they do a good job of guarding it from the other animals while they're not out herding or inside with me.
Before you get to the castle, you'll encounter three more buildings. One is Rin's house, which was built to suit just about her every whim. I don't actually know what it looks like inside, since it's her special sanctuary, and I have no reason to go inside. We live on the same land, and being inside when there's so much to do outside makes no sense. Near her house is the bakery she and Kate run, where you will find the freshest, most delicious baked yummyness you've ever had. <3 Her cherry chocolate chip cookies are to die for. ^-^ Finally, more to the South, is the guest house. I'm not fond of entertaining guests in the castle, so if anyone besides my niece wants to spend any significant time on the farm with me, they stay in the guest house. Don't worry, I didn't make it cheap or cramped. ^.~ It's actually closer to a guest mansion.
Aaaand then, at last, we come to my home/temple/animal sanctuary/Garden of Eden. There is only one way in or out, and that is the South gate. As the castle is made out of rock, I'm not all that concerned about a fire XD Be careful not to touch the outer wall on your way in, as there's high voltage wire strung across it, all the way around. And make sure to take in the breathtaking ocean view to the West. The castle sits beside a cliff that goes straight down to the rocks and crashing waves off the coast of Ireland.
From the outside, it's a rather formidable looking place. Aside from the lovely little device next to the gate that allows me to screen who gets in (basically a video intercom thingy), there is nothing that makes it look like there's any hope of entry. I purposely had it built so that the outer wall seems to say "YOU ARE NOT WELCOME." without actually having anything written there (except the necessary "Danger: High Voltage" signs all over). Inside, however, is an entirely different story.
Once you step past the wall surrounding the castle, it appears as though you've stepped into another world entirely. Roses of every color imaginable (though mostly blue) grow up the walls on all sides, the unearthly beauty of the flowers doing wonders to hide their true purpose: the thick nest of razor sharp thorns acting as a natural barbed wire, should anyone actually scale the wall and make it past the electricity and the actual barbed wire on top.
Tear your eyes from the roses, and you will see more beauty than the human eye is accustomed to taking in (mostly because people keep destroying it). Buttercups, lily of the valley, and bleeding hearts grow seemingly wild across the front lawn, and all around the castle are sakura, Japanese red maple, red dogwood, rose of Sharon, and butterfly bushes. The cobble-stone driveway leads up to and around a rotary of sorts in front of what looks like the front door with forsythia and mock orange growing around a large fountain, which is in the shape of a dragon, wings spread, looking as though the water spraying from its powerful jaws is the fire the legendary beasts breathed. The illusion is aided by the colorful LED lights inside the dragon's mouth, which make the water look orange and yellow. If you look up, you will see a beautiful, Gothic structure with four imposing towers that seem to be reaching for the sky itself.
Just when you think you've made it to the front door and into the house, you're instead met by the sight of the fire garden. All around you are butterfly weed, red, orange, and yellow roses, tiger lilies, Asian lilies, and California poppies. If you look, you might notice little lizards skittering around, or sunbathing on small rocks, and at night, the garden is set ablaze by fireflies. A smaller fountain, in the shape of a phoenix, is the centerpiece of this garden, and framing the path from the outer door to (finally) the front door of the castle, are torches that seem as though they sense when you will need them. During the day, they lie dormant, but if you enter at night, pressure switches in the ground light the torches nearest to you, and extinguish them once you've passed.
At last, you reach the castle proper. Through towering double doors you will find the grand hall. Left largely open, the front of the castle appears to have nothing in it except the large curved staircases leading to the floors above. Between the two sets of stairs leading to the second floor, you can clearly see the glass wall that surrounds the spirit garden, and the (locked) doors leading inside. If you look carefully, under the stairs on each side, there is a small door. Those two doors open to reveal the coat closets. Shoes are to be removed before entering my home, no matter what. If you're uncomfortable with leaving them out in the garden, you may carry them over to the closet to be safely hidden away with your jacket. Just make sure you don't put them back on until you're safely out the front door and on the stone path to the outside. Rule #1: NEVER wear shoes in my house.
Rule #2: Stay the hell out of my center garden. But that won't be a problem, I'm sure, as all entrances are kept locked at all times. I made sure that every wall separating the garden from the rest of the house is made out of glass, so that anyone can enjoy the beauty of the spirit garden without actually entering it. Not even Alex is allowed in there. But still, as it's the most beautiful area of the entire property, I'd never dream of closing it off in a way that others can't see it. Purple roses, bleeding hearts, pokeweed, and butterfly bushes can be seen throughout the garden, and at the center of it all, surrounded by four fountains, is a beautiful sakura tree. The fountains each represent an element, and are a sort of map in a way, showing which elemental garden is in which direction. The first one you would see, since you enter from the South, is the smaller variation of the dragon out front (merely in a different position, and with only red lights in the mouth). Representing water are two beautiful dolphins leaping around the fountain to the west of the tree, and to the east, representing earth, is a coiled snake, simply watching the world around it, while a majestic eagle sits to the north with wings outstretched, seeming ready to take flight at any moment. Everywhere in the air, you can see gorgeous butterflies of varying size, shape, and color flitting about, and you might even catch sight of Kit, Sascha, and Dragon playfully chasing them.
If at any point you are able to tear your eyes from the garden and go to the right of the front door, the first thing you'll encounter is a locked door leading into the Southeast tower. Hidden away within are my private recording and dance studios, as well as a few secret passages to other areas of the house. The house is littered with those, not that I'll ever tell you exactly where. ^.~ Further along the hall are a couple of elevators for the truly lazy, and then the living room, games room/bar, and one of the downstairs bathrooms. In the living room, naturally, there's a large TV, a DVD player, surround-sound system, DVDs, and, believe it or not, one or two video game consoles. There's also two large, luxurious couches, a coffee table, and a few overstuffed chairs. If you keep going straight through the living room, you'll find the games room, but what's the fun in going straight there? First, if you turn to the right again, you'll see large sliding glass doors leading out to yet another garden.
Facing East, we have the Earth garden. Not quite as extravagant as some of the others, the Earth garden consists mainly of rose of Sharon, buttercups, forsythia, pansies, and azalea. Like all the others, this garden has a main feature in the middle, though some may not find it all that interesting; it's a boulder. ^^; What can I say? It's freaking Earth! Be careful where you step if you go out, though, as you're likely to encounter little snakes and snails slithering around. Rule #3: NEVER let the snakes in, or my rodents out. If you get my precious rat eaten, I will kick the shit out of you. K? K. Moving on...
At the doors of each of these gardens, I keep several pairs of slippers or sandals. This is so that you can walk around out there without tracking dirt in. The footwear never comes back inside, so as you re-enter the living room, please remember to leave the sandals (or whatever) at the door on the outside, okay? Thanks a bunch. <3
Going back through the living room and heading North once again will take you to two doors. One leads to the bathroom. The other leads to the games room, which contains stereo equipment, pool tables, a dart board, and a large open area to dance. On the far side, just before you hit the Northeast tower, there's a bar, set up to look just like a traditional Irish pub. <3
Once you leave the games room, you'll notice there's really nothing else on the North side. The Northeast tower has very little in it; merely an art room (with tons of windows so I can see the farm, back yard, and windmills), and above that, a giant water slide that slopes from the top story down to the deepest part of the nearly Olympic-sized swimming pool in the yard below.
Naturally, on this side there's a garden, as well. It's the air garden, with beautiful vine-covered gates that lead out into the back yard. The air garden has a lot of herbs and spices that are known to have healing properties (like mint, garlic, dog rose, etc), as well as white roses and little pinwheels. Ladybugs roam free here, and in the spring, you can actually see hummingbirds and sparrows. I normally hate birds, but I don't mind them. They're relatively quiet, and so damned CUTE! <33
Past the air garden and through the gates, you'll likely find my dogs running amok in the back yard. (except Cael, the lazy moose. and Giggles, cuz he's really shy). For about twenty feet past the gate, a lovely archway of sakura, their branches intertwining, line the path. Through the trees, you can see the pool to your right, with a fence around it to keep the dogs out, and a patio with a grill and a few picnic tables and chairs and such on the left. Around the pool is a large open area, where a volleyball net and (closer to the house) a small basketball court are the only things taking up room. The rest is just open, grassy land. A quick walk off the patio, though, brings you into a lagoon of sorts, with beautiful weeping willows framing a small pond, and a dense, wild-looking forest. Of course, the trees were all carefully planned and strategically placed to be comforting for myself and the dogs, and also to be as beautiful as possible.
Maple, oak, pine, cherry trees, dogwood, red dogwood, Japanese red maple, rose of sharon, buttercups, forsythia, bumblebee abelia, mock orange (between the willows), butterfly bushes... everything you could possibly think of that you'd find in my house, you can find in the woods in the backyard.
Let's not get distracted by the wonders outside just yet though, ok? Lets at least finish the tour of the house first. XD
Heading back inside and toward the West end of the house, you'll first encounter yet another tower door. In the Northwest tower, there's a spa at the top, and the rest is basically a giant freezer. All the meat and veggies for the house that haven't been used yet (and aren't likely to within the next day or so) are kept in there, as it's the tower closest to the kitchen. So, obviously, if you continue back towards the South, you'll find a huge, restaurant-grade kitchen, and then the giant dining hall.
The dining hall, like the living room, features giant sliding glass doors that open out to the fifth and final garden, the water garden. As its name suggests, this garden's centerpiece is a tiny waterfall that flows down into a small koi pond. Blue roses, mock orange, and bumblebee abelia grow here, while adorable dragonflies buzz around, keeping the pest problem nonexistent.
Back inside and past the dining hall, closer to the front door, is what I affectionately dubbed the Camelot room. The centerpiece of sorts is a huge round table made of granite. The center is left hollow, so that an entertainer (or server) can stand in the center and reach everyone.
The rooms on the West side, however, don't get used much. They're only really there in case I have a huge party and decide to hire cooks and such.
Our final stop on the first floor is the Southwest tower, which holds my own personal gym, and a dojo (because I plan on learning martial arts). Oh, and between the Camelot room and the tower is the other downstairs bathroom lol.
If you come around front again and head for the stairs, you'll find guest rooms (not likely to be used. ever. but just in case XD), the room where Fuzz, Giz, Zombie, and Stairmaster's cages are kept. As the South and North sides, like downstairs, are left largely open (the South side is left open to below, same with the third floor, and the North wall is nothing but glass, with sliding doors out onto a balcony), there's not a whole hell of a lot up here. ^^;
There's even less on the third floor. The West side is taken up by my suite, which has a sitting room (the first one you'll see upon entering), my office/computer room to the left, and a small kitchen to the right. Straight through the sitting room is my bedroom, which has a lovely balcony from which you can see my beloved Atlantic. To the right, connected to the bedroom and the kitchen, is the bathroom, and to the left is a large walk-in closet for all my clothes and random other crap I couldn't find a place for.
Like the second floor, the North and South sides are merely there to see out and/or down. The East side is taken up by Alex's suite, set aside for any time she feels like coming to visit.
Phew! that took me hours to write. x.X I can only imagine how long it'll take to read. If you actually bother, you are insane, and I love you. XD But if you don't, I certainly don't blame you.
Now. On to watch Mrs. Doubtfire. Later! ^-^