Saturday, 7 July 2007
This photo was taken a couple of years ago at our house in SandyBay - well, mum and dad's house technically, but you know - where I grew up. Now you are probably thinking : gee, weird place to put a fence. Well yeah. This fence was put there one day by our neighbour who got it into her head that boundary between her and our property actually went down the driveway (funnily enough she'd lived next door for at least 20 years before coming to this conclusion). Anyway - like any reasonable person, she just went straight ahead and got some guys in to build a fence straight down the driveway so that no car could go up or down. Now this driveway is quite steep - I remember many cold winter mornings of my youth where I would be desperately trying to stay upright during my desent of the icy drive relying on nothing more than the cold metal hand rail (to which my clammy hand was stuck), and the grip of my grosby school shoes (not favoured by arctic explorers I might point out). Funnily enough I remember almost as many mornings where I would find myself ascending the icy driveway (hand over hand on the metal railing) in order to change my ripped stockings, treat my bleeding wounds and then crash through the hedge down to the roadway and rush off to school in a fruitless attempt to avoid a late pass. Oh those were the days. So anyway what I'm trying to say is that this drive is steep, and longer than your average driveway. In fact, I also remember one day when Denny and I (we were maybe around 10 or so) picked up an old car tyre from way up in the back garden, and gave it a little push.... I remember the feeling of terror as we watched the tyre gaining speed as it bounced down past the side of the garden, skillfully negotiating the small gap between the garage and the side of the house and then positively FLEW down the driveway, down St Canice Avenue, then bounced across Sandy Bay road, which even in those days was normally pretty busy. I'm not sure where it ended up after it bounced over a fence on the other side of the road, but it was definately one of those moments which could have changed our lives forever but by pure luck (bad and good) nothing bad happened. phew.
Anyway - in the last few years the driveway became a bit of a local tourist attraction as people came to admire the arrogance of our neighbour - even if it WAS her land, who the heck would put a fence right down someones access to their house and cause the aging residents to carry all the shopping up the drive, denny and Robin had to carry the kids up every time they visited, dad had to carry up all his wood every time he started a new project, and some people like Great Granny and Grandfather just couldn't visit at all during this time. It made me cross just to think about it but mum and dad showed great restraint (in not ripping down the fence and blowing up her house) and persued legal action in order to 1) prove the boundary was in the original, logical place and 2) get her to pull down her stupid fence. Six months or so after the fence went up, the neighbour pulled it down but by then the costs to both sides had been fairly hefty so there were still claims to be made and legal paths to follow. So FINALLY on Friday, after a lot of mediation sessions and letters between lawyers, a settlement has been reached. mum and dad are forgoing what could be a substantial damages claim in order to settle now with our neighbour agreeing to pay all costs and go halves in a new fence in the original position. We've estimated this will have set her back in total about 20k. What a fool. And the weird thing is, it's not like there had ever been any ongoing dispute before she built the fence. Anyway. We're all glad it's over.