Summer, or should I say the better weather, is here in the UK and the neighbour's children are out in the garden attempting to hone their football skills.
A few weeks ago I had opened the gate at the side of our house in the expectation of doing some gardening in our front garden after I had done some work in the back garden. I was working in the back of one of the side borders, hidden behind the lilac tree when for some reason I looked up and saw a figure, clad in black, striding down our garden. At first I thought that it was the wife from next door who I had earlier seen in their garden dressed in black. I wondered what she could be doing in our garden, then realised that the hair was the wrong colour. It was not her. It was Del Boy Junior, the neighbour's son, from the other side. I was dumb struck! What was he doing striding down our garden? Eventually my brain engaged my tongue and I managed to stutter out something about asking before walking into some one's garden. He said something about knocking on the door and getting no reply. With an unanswered front door and the gate wide open I would have thought that it was obvious that we were in the garden. He had kicked a ball over the hedge into our garden and wanted it back. This was just one of several incidents that we have had with Del Boy Junior and a football.
The day that Del Boy and family moved next door we had a taste of what was to come. It was November and it was dark and wet but that did not stop Del Boy Junior and friends from knocking a ball around in their new garden, as Dad had rigged up some flood lights so that they could play football when it was dark. It was early evening when we had a knock on the door and a request to look for a ball in our back garden, in the dark. Reluctantly my husband put on his anorak and went out with a torch for a rummage around. But before he managed to get out there one of the football players was already in our garden flailing amongst the plants. There are no lights in our back garden and they couldn't find the ball. At that point we did not have the side gate and I have to say that this incident put the requirement for a lockable side gate at the top of our to do list, otherwise we could see that our garden would become a free for all scavenging ground for balls when we were not there.
We had had experiences of stray footballs at our previous house. Initially the children, who lived in the house at the back of us used to politely ask for their ball back. However, they became bold and one gloomy wet evening I saw them climbing over the fence in an attempt to retrieve a ball. How did I manage to see them? Their white trainers glowed in the dark. The next thing that I remember happened when we returned from holiday. As I walked from the hall into the kitchen I thought something was different. Initially I could not work out what it was. Then I noticed that there was broken glass all over the kitchen floor and a large, round, football shaped hole in the kitchen window. This was before we had done any work on the house and it was an old single glazed window. It was obvious who the culprits were. We never had an apology and they never asked for another ball to be returned to them. By the time that we moved from that house, about six years later, we had a collection of half a dozen balls which I gave to a charity shop.
So now we have some rules relating to the return of stray balls which are that we will return one ball per day before 8 pm in the evening, in response to a polite request for the ball to be returned.