Autumn is rolling around again, it’s getting cooler, darker and I’m hoping to goodness it means my children may be able to sleep in past 5:30am. However, it’s always a time of trepidation, no, I’m not going to mince my words – terror – in our house and many others I know. I’m not afraid of the dark (anymore) and I’ve just about recovered from watching The Woman in Black a week after moving into our Victorian property (just about may be a slight exaggeration). But this, happens every year.
The first year I was a mum, I got repeatedly chased around my living room by a particularly speedy eight legged fiend, no matter where it appeared I couldn’t catch it. It must have gone on for 6 weeks until one day I pulled forward the bouncy chair holding my boy and found this underneath.
Hardly heroic. I still screamed and did a lap of the room waving my arms about. And yes, I actually put a glass over the top in case it wasn’t dead and then sent the photo to my husband. Five years later this still makes me shudder.
But this time last year was a different kettle of fish entirely. Whatever this autumn throws at me, pales into insignificance compared to last year.
When we found out we were expecting baby number 3 we put the house on the market. Unexpectedly it sold much quicker than we had thought. This meant we had an overlap of a month, before our purchase was complete. The month of September…
Husband: I’ve found us the perfect rental cottage. It’s a bit in the sticks and on a working farm… but it’s such a bargain!
You don’t say.
So the furniture went into storage, the children (4 years, 20 months and 6 weeks old) were excited about a ‘home holiday’ and we left our lovely, warm, one-spider-per-winter home and moved a mere 6 miles to THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
Seriously, my friend came to visit and thought she’d driven off the end of the earth, she had no mobile phone signal and was pale and shaking when she arrived. I honestly think she panicked as there was literally no light in her rear-view – she thought she was living out a horror movie… and that was before she stepped over the threshold.
My husband moved our temporary bits and pieces (whilst I stayed with the little ones at Mum’s) and got us set up. When we arrived, I asked if everything was as it should be.
“Errrrm. Yeah, it’s ok.”
“You don’t sound convinced.”
“It just needs a bit of a makeover. And TLC I guess.”
“You’ve never said that about any place, anytime, anywhere, in your life.”
“It’s fine. Just a bit cobwebby.”
That was about as truthful as the time I asked him in labour if I was being a drama queen and he said I was being very brave.
The first couple of days passed without incident (much as happens in those horror films) I was lulled into thinking country life was ok. No washer, dishwasher and the wifi was as useful as the 1999 internet connection – where if your Dad picked up the phone to phone Gran, he lost his hearing for a week from the noise and you had to wait another 35 screechy minutes to ‘dial up’ again.
Realising I’d not yet taken in the entire situation my husband remained silent on the subject of our lodgers. He probably (wisely) realised he’d hear enough about it at a later date. The first night of autumnal downpour and it began.
“What the hell is that?!”
“It’s a giant spider the size of a cat. Have you not noticed? They’re everywhere.”
GETRIDOFITGETRIDOFIT!!!” running up the stairs, closely followed by my husband I suddenly stopped in my tracks
“What do you mean everywhere?!”
He was right.
We’d be sat there of an evening watching TV and at about 8pm – they’d start. 7, 8, or 9 of them every night running from all different directions: on the sofas, up the curtains, on the bed, IN THE COTS. It was horrendous. One particularly bad night I rang my dad, over 300 miles away in tears:
“How could you?”
“What do you mean love?”
“Most likely, but you’ll have to be more specific.”
“Spiders! You always told me the big ones can’t climb, if they’re big, they get too heavy and fall off.”
“Didn’t I tell you that when you were about 5?”
“Yes, your point being..?”
“You’re 30 now. Had you not figured that out for yourself yet?”
Well I had now.
The babies were covered in suspect bites, our older daughter at 20 months put on her coat every time a visitor left and solemnly took their hand and said “This is not my home. Take me home.” I regularly found myself running into low beams, jumping at every sudden movement and learned the hard way to beat my shoes against the wall, before putting them on.
Even the boy got remarkably brave at rescuing mummy from ‘Mr Skinny Legs’. I’ll never forget the day he calmly rolled up his sleeves and took a pint glass to this bad boy.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud. After 3 weeks it was apparent that we were nowhere near completion and had at least another month of being ‘homeless’. I’d had enough. Supermum zoomed down the M5 with her Marks and Spencer cape fluttering behind her. She hates spiders, always has, I felt as though sympathy was finally on the way. When she arrived, she sat me down and gave me the ‘Come on, love’ talk, the one I usually get when I have a hangover, or when I’ve snapped at my Dad/sister/husband/children unnecessarily.
“Come on you, it’s not so bad. You’ve been through worse than this. It’s only a few spiders. The children are getting a complex and you are a nightmare to sit next to on the sofa. You’ll be ok!”
8pm, husband and I slowly curled our feet up onto the sofa simultaneously, without communication.
“It’s not a mouse, Mum.”
Long pause as the spider-cat sashayed across the floor, waving a ‘come on then?’ banner and dragging a miniature can of Stella. Up she got, calmly, composed and purposeful. Mum extended the hoover pipe with such aggression, it was like watching a middle aged vigilante prepare to bring down anyone who has ever had a bad word to say about Gary Barlow in the history of the world: ever.
She plugged it in swiftly and approached the spider silently, expertly kicking the on switch without even looking, as the pipe was a hair’s breadth from the cocky, swaggering brute. Over the noise of the hoover and the ‘SCHWUMP’ of the spider, you could just about make out:
“Not on my watch, sunshine!” Hoover off, sleeves rolled down. She patted the hoover like you might a treasured hunting dog. “I think I might just leave this next to me… if no one minds.”