Red in tooth and claw.

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So, deadly wildlife, then...

Casting a vacuum cleaner around the living room today, I decided to 'do' behind the sofa. as I heaved it out of the way, I came face to face with one of nature's deadly assassins.

It was a scary moment; me and a redback spider, soon to be locked in mortal combat. We both knew that only one could emerge from this battle with their life. There was a palpable tension in the air, as we circled each other, looking for weakness; a sign that one of us had made a terrible error in our tactical assessment of the other. Who would attack first? Who had the better reaction times?

Or, I saw it nestled against the skirting board and we dropped a book on it before hoovering up the squished remains.

It was a rather mundane experience, where the main significant difference to my normal behaviour was that I made no attempt to trap and release the spider with a glass. However, it was a timely reminder that my daily habits will have to change.

The thing that puzzles me most is what would happen if I was bitten in a paralysed area by a spider or snake without my knowing. Obviously this is less likely to happen with a shark or a crocodile, but I feel that the medical emergency presented in either of those scenarios would also be more obvious; limb missing, shark/crocodile hanging off bloody stump, etc.

I suspect I might spot the odd snake coiled up on my wheelchair cushion too, but if there were a spider in my shoe when I got dressed in the morning, I would be unaware until I developed the symptoms, which are all very unpleasant. And this doesn't just go for the deadly ones. There are also white-tips and wolf spiders that can give you an unpleasant bite without being fatal.

Luckily, I have been training for just this eventuality. On several occasions, I have left a sock inside my shoe at the end of a long day, only to cram my foot into it again the following morning. Usually, the extra struggle of getting the shoe on is enough to alert me to the stray item, but there have a couple of times when I have been over enthusiastic in my dressing techinque, and my poor toes have done a twelve hour stint folded up like a podiatrist's nightmare. Luckily, I haven't broken any of the poor little fellers yet, and I have managed to modify my routines so that I check my shoes first.

However, jamming hand into the shoes and having a rummage might not be the best approach when it comes to spiders, so from now on, it's a firm tap on the ground for my size tens.

In other news, we went for a swim in one of the best pools on the planet today. Well, in my modest opinion, anyway. The rockpool at Boat Harbour is cut into a rock shelf, and is filled and refreshed by the ocean on high tides. This means I get all the pleasures of swimming in the sea without feeling like I've been dumped in a washing maching full of grit and gravel.

The added bonus is a series of natural rockpools full of tiny starfish, anenomes, crabs and other delights for the kids, all on the same natural shelf of rock, which means I can roll up to them and join in the exploring. All with the aid of my home-made front wheel attachment, which gives me a 20" front wheel with handlebars and a brake, rather than struggling on 4" casters. It's such a vital piece of kit in my adventures that it deserves a post all of its' own at some point in the not too distant future.

Upon our return home, we found a Peewee chick on the drive, below the tree that houses its' nest. It was very small, and didn't look like it had much fight in it, with ants already crawling all over, like eager scrap metal dealers around a car with two flat tyres. However, we have an eight year old daughter, so it was inevitable that we should intervene and try and save the little bugger. We managed to keep it ant-free and warm, mainly by me holding it for an hour while we waited for someone from the wildlife rescue network to come and advise us or provide refuge. I doubt it will make it through the night, but it felt good to be trying to help Australian wildlife instead of working out how best to despatch it.

Summing up then: I wasn't poisoned, and I didn't drown. That's a good day in Australia, no?

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"Summing up then: I wasn't poisoned, and I didn't drown. That's a good day in Australia, no?"

You're not through, yet. How are the bushfires up your way?

You're one step ahead of me, I've never actually seen a live redback. We're like you with suspected white tails though, any suspicion of that and they miss out on the trip outdoors.

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