To get to the city centre from the B&B is pretty straightforward. You just follow the sidewalk down to a pedestrian underpass, cross through, make your way over a bridge, and continue a few blocks until you find yourself in a kind of market area mere yards from the Roman Baths. You’re there before you know it.
A 10 min walk. Easy enough.
The walk to the pedestrian underpass was pleasantly downhill, with trees to the right arcing overhead, shedding leaves when the wind blew. Fall is something I miss from my years on the east coast, so this is particularly nice. It’s a lovely day, sun periodically breaking through the clouds and sending beams of golden light over the town, just visible over the railway bridge to the north.
And then we got to the pedestrian underpass.
And looked up.
Clinging to the walls, corners, and light fixtures, spiders had taken over the underpass and turned it into an arachnid gauntlet.
Apparently getting to the city centre meant passing through Aragog’s den. There were hundreds of spiders. The ones clinging to the light fixtures on each side of the wall were easiest to spot, and the backlighting made them seem even larger than they were– not that they needed any assistance. Those, at least, you could see. Forewarned is forearmed.
I was seriously considering taking my chances with the speeding cars, blind corners, and narrow streets above.
Joe, of course, found this a prime invitation to try to get the spiders to move by blowing on their webs. Because that’s a good idea with inch and a half long spiders whose species you’re unfamiliar with. Excellent.
As if it wasn’t terrifying enough.
To make it even better, both Joe and I had recent read several recent news stories about a surge in bad-news incidents involving venomous “false widow” spiders in the UK.
I’m sure it was fine, though. I mean, it’s not like they’re the most venomous spider in the UK , or they’re most common in the southern part of the country, or they make webs in corners high from the ground, or they’ll kill your rabbit (and almost kill your cat), or give you necrotizing wounds that scar you for life, or poison you so badly you are a leg drain away from amputation. And they certainly don’t close down schools when they find infestations or anything. Anyway, it’s the wasps you have to worry about.
The spiders’ obvious presence along the upper corners created a natural funnel, pushing us (me, anyway), to the center of the walkway. Were there spiders unnoticed on the ceiling above us? Probably. But at least you couldn’t see them. And I certainly wasn’t looking. Sometimes ignorance is what keeps you sane.
Heebie-jeebies only marginally in check, we pressed deeper into the subterranean den. I couldn’t wait to get through and out and into the daylight once more. There would be no loitering– I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. So, imagine my surprise when we turned a corner to find a homeless person curled up against a wall, wrapped up in a sleeping bag, dozing away. It’s not uncommon to find hobos, beggars, and buskers in pedestrian underpasses, but fast asleep in the land of Acromantulas? I’m not sure you could pay me enough.
After what seemed like an interminable 50 feet, we made it through the tunnels unscathed and emerged into the blessèd daylight.
Bath, here we come!