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Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Of all the things that could have happened two days after flying swallows, screaming women, and giant monster spiders, I did not expect to see the same spider again. You would think, after being kicked out of the house, it would find somewhere else to go. Apparently not. There I was, just getting ready to wander to the shops, and then there it was. Just as giant, just as monstrous, it was crawling along right near my backpack.

I dropped the thing, letting it fall back to the floor, and what does the spider do? It goes right on ahead and crawls into my backpack. It didn't scurry away and hide under anything, it climbed into my backpack. I could almost hear it laughing at me, as I'm stood there trying not to scream and wake up my husband. He, apparently, is a monster hunter because of his efforts with the swallows and the giant spider, but he was sleeping.

Gingerly, with the very tips of my fingers on the very ends of my out-stretched arms, I picked up the bag and raced towards the front door. Throwing the bag to the ground, I stood there, in the front garden, wondering how I was supposed to get the spider out and make it to the shop in time to get milk.

There are a few standard thins that I carry in my backpack, as I walk a fair bit, and all of those things ended up scattered along the front garden. I was stood there, bag up on end, as far away from me as possible, trying to get this spider out of my bag so that I could go and get milk. So not only did we have a night of surreal proportions on Sunday, but the spider liked it so much that he paid another visit to the house.

Next time, I'm letting my cat have the thing. He's supposed to be the monster hunter in the house, but her certainly isn't earning his keep of late.

Posted By Michelle Birbeck

There are things in life that are so comical and unexpected that no one could ever hope to imitate it. Sunday night in my house was one of those nights.

The night started with a celebration, celebrating nine years of marriage and my husband's birthday. A nice meal and several drinks later, we returned home, just another evening. My neighbour popped around to say hi, and we were sat in my living room quite happily chatting away, just a tad tipsy.

The next thing we know is that there is this gigantic spider casually crawling up the wall and onto a unit that sits next to me. Not being the biggest fan of the eight-legged monsters, I beat a hasty retreat into the kitchen, all the while pointing out the sure to soon attack spider. My neighbour is also very afraid of said monsters.

Being the man of the house, and as every good husband on their anniversary would do, despite not being so fond of spiders either, my husband volunteered to catch the giant beast and dispose of it. By dispose of it, I mean catch it and take it into the garden. The only thing we happened to have large enough to cage the beast was the coffee pot.

It took several tries, and the pulling out of everything in the living room to catch the slippery devil. Once safely caged inside the impenetrable coffee pot, the monster was soon to be discovering the joys of an August night in the rain. However, seeing two scared women in the kitchen, the child in all men decided to put in an appearance in my husband.

He started towards the kitchen at no slow pace, spider and coffee pot in hand. Being just a little panicked by this, I went for the back door, flinging it open and preparing to make a hasty escape and experience the rain myself. Except that things got a touch interesting. We've had birds nesting in the side ally for a couple of years, and this year a second next appeared, dead opposite the back door. So when I opened the door, trying to escape the wrath of the caged monster spider, the nesting swallows panicked. Being as they are day faring creatures, naturally the mother headed for the light, the light being the kitchen.

So there we were, sobriety not being a big factor, with a wild swallow swooping around the kitchen and a giant spider in a coffee pot. The spider was soon introduced to the front garden, and my husband commenced discussing the possibility of leaving with the swallow. She, however, was not interesting and seemed quite content to swoop around the pans and land on the curtain rail.

Just as it seemed as though we would have an overnight visitor, the swallow took another tour of the kitchen, and managed to land herself squarely on the fly paper, that horrible looking sticky stuff.


Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Well, we all panicked. There was this beautiful swallow, flying around the kitchen, and suddenly she was stopped dead, caught. Now, we have fairly high ceilings in our kitchen, and we had to drag the stool through before we could get the flypaper off the ceiling. Once that task was accomplished, the bird started to panic a bit, which was completely understandable.

With both wings and her tail stuck to the paper, it was looking more and more likely that the newly fledged swallows would be losing one of their parents. It looked even more likely when she managed to re-stick one of her wings after it had been freed. Not wanting the poor thing to scare herself to death in an attempt to be free, I ended up gently holding her and talking to her whilst my husband carefully pried her away from the paper.

However, once she was mostly free, things took another turn. Hearing their mother's plight, one of the chicks took flight. I have no idea what it intended to do, but it ended up swooping around our newly flypaper free kitchen.

Well, there wasn't time to worry about a second swallow in the house, as the last of their mother's feathers came free. Keeping the bird in my hands, ensuring that we didn't end up with two flying around, I raced out into the back garden and released her. Fortunately she flew on the first try, but she didn't get too far. After a brief stop only a few feet away from the back door, she took flight once more and managed to gain some height and distance.

Which left the chick in a frenzied flight round and round the kitchen. Being only a young bird, and not having had much practice at landing or flying, the chick didn't seem to want to leave the house either. Eventually, after much talking to, the chick landed behind the kettle. Fortunately I have some rather strange items in my house, including a butterfly net.

With flypaper adhesive still clinging to his hands, my husband manned the net, and I crept up on the finally settled bird. The net was above it, and my hands were creeping up on either side. With a final lunge, and nowhere to go, the chick finally ended up in my hands and out the back door, which was promptly slammed shut and locked in case of repeat visitors.

No sooner had we finished evacuating the local bird population, than the Chinese take out arrived. And there the three of us sat, eating Chinese in the middle of the living room, surrounded by the remnants of the spider hunt, and discussing the amount of bird poo that would need cleaning out of the kitchen.

I am very glad to report, that all of the birds have been sighted today, flying around no worse for wear. In fact, it would not surprise me to discover them gossiping about the three humans trying to talk them out of their house and who caught them with the aid of fly paper and butterfly nets.

Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Well, the wait is over. No more sleepless nights wondering if I managed to get all my information correct in the final exam. No more wondering if I passed and what grade I got. As with the thousands of A Level students across the UK that waited in line for that dreaded envelope, I did the same. it's been more than ten years since I left school, and being back has been interesting. Waiting for results was a lot worse than I remembered. It didn't seem to matter as much when I was waiting for my GCSE results. Of course, I'd spent most of my GCSE year suffering from glandular fever and didn't have overly high hopes for my exam results. However, despite that I did mange to pass them with grades that surprised both my teachers and myself.

So, eleven years later, and I was a lot more nervous about the results. I was utterly convinced that I had done appallingly badly on the final exam. Being ill on the day and suffering from a coughing fit in the middle of it did not do me any favours. All in all, however, it didn't really affect what I came out with. Which was... B.

After only one year of lessons, eleven years after leaving college, I did a full A Level in half the time and with fewer lessons that you would normally get in sixth form, and I passed overall with a B.

Next year I am off to start my English Literature A Level, which I am looking forward to.