Knee-deep in wildlife
Our house has a rather lovely garden, although some of the fixtures are a little on the dated side. We recently had fences put up so we can release The Hound into the yard without fear of him escaping or marauding the neighbours’ back yards. And another job that’s been lurking silently is to do something about the skanky old decking/pergola in the back corner – one of those lovely wooden things which people all put up during the same sunny fortnight in the early 2000s and then all became slippery deathtraps as they turned bright green with mossy stuff. I thought I’d capitalise on a brief spell of non-rainy-weather to make a start on its demise.
Armed with a keenly-priced 36-inch crowbar from a well-known internet retailer, I set about prising the boards up – mildly fearful of what eldritch horrors I might unearth. Our garden seems quite well-populated by arachnids. Here’s one of the little pale-arsed blighters:
My prior experiences with demolishing garden fixtures in Bristol suggested that I’d probably find some things in there which I’d be reluctant to sustain any long-term relationships with – I remember the things that came out of the storage bench at our old house, and that garden didn’t even have any garden to it (it was more of a yard). Our current house is a sprawling country estate by comparison.
And, true to expectations, with every successive board I flipped over I saw something which looked… well… more like a spider that I’m accustomed to (i.e. what Australians would think of as a spider) than the apologetic wheezy arachnids they have here. In South Africa they have a brand of spray to kill spiders called DOOM, presumably as urgently toxic as the spiders probably are. In Australia, as I’ve previously reported, the best approach is to give them a solid tonk with a cricket bat – but make sure you get them on the first go, or you’ll just piss them off. In Britain you can’t even get spider killing spray – the best you can do is something that may as well be called “Run along now, that’s the chap!”, which I think is designed just to annoy them into leaving (after they’ve ignored you for the first 10 minutes). But not so the inhabitants of the decking. I was considering not taking out the final plank for fear of what might be lurking under there.
Of course, leaving a mostly deconstructed deck lying around with all of its vertical rusty nails is an unfathomably stupid idea, so I eventually got it all to bits (and many of those bits ended up covered in gooey spider guts and innumerable legs), and started sorting out any wood I could salvage.
And then out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. Something quite large.
Turning around, I couldn’t see anything, so explained it away as maybe a bit of weed cloth flapping in the nonexistent breeze. But a few seconds later I thought I saw it again. Adopting a safe distance I circled around to get a better vantage point, and was greeted with…
About the size of a cricket ball, I reckon.
I suppose it makes sense – it was formerly a cool, dark, damp place to exist – and there was a ready diet of things for him to take his pick from.
I was a little wary of him, because my only other toad experience is from the singularly ugly Cane Toad from Queensland. Plus, I didn’t want to squish him because I can only begin to imagine how excited Larry would’ve been to devour his amphibian carcass. I tried encouraging him to hop over toward the fence although he seemed reluctant to go. But eventually must have figured that his silent protest was gaining no traction, and away he slowly hopped.
So, that was a bit different.