Kyle, thee kids and I live in our large Victorian house in County Durham, (Called Squirrel Lodge) which was left to my parents (adopted) when my Great Aunt Constance died. (I never met her, but this has been my family home since I was adopted.) My mum is now a widow now and the upkeep of the house proved difficult for here, so she moved into the annex next to the garage and Kyle and I remained in the main house, as we began to start our own family and over the years, we have done the house up. Thee house is very large and is over 4 floors. (Including the cellar) The house has 7 large bedrooms, a large living room. plus we have a playroom, filled with toys, games, 2 computers, a flatscreen TV, Sky, DVD and games consoles. The house was built in the 1800s and is Grade II listed. The Annex and Garage was build in the early 1980s. The annex is joined to the main house via a long corridor, passing the garage, a toilet and laundry room along the way. The corridor has large windows to the rear, looking out across the 90ft garden.
The main house is over 4 floors, which includes the cellar. The boys either have their own rooms or share. Thee younger boys have their rooms on the 1st floor, while the older boys have their rooms on the top floor. Both thee upstairs floors have 2 bathrooms and a separate toilet. As well as this, our bedroom, (1st floor) is en-suite and so is our Live In Carer’s (Jenny) room; which is on the 2nd floor. We have slowly done the house up over the years and we have also uncovered a few surprises, including original parquet floors, wooden paneling and dreaded asbestos. (Which has now been removed)
For Toby, we have had a lift installed, so he can get upstairs and he also has his own specially adapted bathroom. Most of the rooms in the house also have period fireplaces!
Our house sits in a 2 ache plot of land. At the back, there are large lawned areas, which include a play area for the kids. (Including climbing equipment, a slide and swings. At the side of my Mum’s Annex, is our veg plot and greenhouses. Mum loves to grow veg and in the summer, we grow all sorts, including potatoes, courgettes, onions, tomatoes, cabbages and peppers.
On a Saturday, my Mum takes the kids, (who do not need close supervision at all times) to the local market, where we sell eggs laid by our Chickens, Ginger, Babs, Henrietta, Hatty and Trixy. We always have fresh eggs every morning and you can’t beat a fresh boiled egg in the morning! Our Chickens live in a fox proof hen enclosure with it’s own Hen House. (The base is concrete and extends a metre beyond the perimeter, so foxes cannot tunnel underneath. The mesh is also strengthened so foxes can’t try and chew their way in.) There is also a floodlight on the side of the annex, which comes on when you approach the hen enclosure. We also have a device that omits the sound of dogs barking, it scares off foxes every time!
Beyond the lawn, is the stream, which runs through the grounds. The other side of the bridge, is our own mini woods. It is not very big, but is where the kids have built various dens. They also have a treehouse, with a tire swing, that goes over the stream.
The whole garden is walled in, (The woods have 8 metre metal fences with spikes at the top, which surrounds the end perimeter) and has a large gate at the top of the garden. The outside of the house is protected by Colour CCTV Cameras and the inner porch door is intercom controlled, while thee outer porch door is locked after 10pm. (this is because of the type of kids Kyle and I foster, so we need to take a few extra precautions. – For this reason, the kids are not allowed their own front door \ gate keys.) The house is also alarmed and we have panic alarms fitted for emergencies. The kids do live normal lives and enjoy on site and off site activities and also enjoy friends coming over, family visits and activities with thee boarder at school.
We try to do an activity every evening, such as watching DVD, cooking, BBQ’s etc. On weekends, we like to go places,such as to the beach, the petting farm and theme parks! There are very few house rules and we try to keep thing very relaxed. However, we do have the a handful of rules, which the kids know they need to stick by and are based on common sense.