Travelling Ava was taking a day off from adventure. She had a new deck chair and wanted to test it out in the garden. It was a beautiful day. The mid-morning sun was gently warming the air. Maud the Spider was already busy making herself a web. She was a spider on a mission. She had heard about a Darwin Bark Spider that had spun 25 meters wide across a river.
My dear readers the garden isn’t 25 meters wide but there is a lot of fences and Maud had gotten up early to build a world record-breaking web all around the favourite.
“Hello Maud,” said Ava cheerily. “What do you think of my new deck chair?”
“Very nice” replied Maud. “Don’t get in the way of my web” She warned Ava.
“I won’t” replied Ava. “I’m just going to sit here and try out my new deck and listen to the bees.”
Maud continued her web making and Ava slipped off her shoes, warming her toes in the sun.
As we already know, our Ava doesn’t like to sit still for long. Although the deck chair was very comfortable with it’s blue and white nautical stripes she could only sit still for so long before getting restless. She wished she could help Maud make her web. Ava can’t make webs and it is probably against the rules for the world record attempt. She needed a project to fill her day. The bumble bees continued to buzz about the clump of Lavender collecting their pollen. Ava decided her project. She was going to draw a picture of the bumble bees. It might not fill up a whole day but it would help to pass the time.
She went inside to collect her paper and pencils. Setting her deck chair up in front of the Lavender patch she began to draw. Maud was happily swinging between the fence posts spinning her web. She was determined to break the world record. The sun continued to warm the garden and all was peaceful.
Ava is not a good artist. She is an epic explorer but not so good at drawing. The bees kept moving around so it was difficult for Ava to get a good likeness. She was concentrating very hard when she heard a pop. For a split second, she thought she had seen a creature in the Lavender.
“What was that?” wondered Ava aloud.
“What was what?” Called Maud. She had successfully covered a whole fence panel. Quite an achievement for an Orb Weaver Spider. She was now at the back of the garden working in a tricky corner.
Did you know dear reader there are over 650 different species of spiders in the UK? That is a lot of spiders. Sorry, I digress, let’s get back to the story.
“I’m not sure” replied Ava. “It was there for just a moment. I can’t even describe it, it popped in and out of the Lavender so quickly I didn’t get a good look” explained Ava.
“Sorry Ava I was concentrating in this corner” replied Maud.
Ava got up from her deck chair to take a closer look at the Lavender patch but she couldn’t see anything unusual. There was no evidence of any funny little creatures that she could see. She had a quick look at the rest of the garden. Nothing.
She sat back in her stripy chair picking up her paper and pencils. She was still only halfway through her third attempt at drawing a bee. She was determined to finish it but she was finding it hard to concentrate.
“What was it I saw?” She wondered to herself.
She loves a good mystery as we know dear reader.
Ava left Maud outside, it was getting too hot to sit and draw. She had waited to see if the little creature returned but it hadn’t. Maud continued her world record attempt.
Ava spent the afternoon indoors. Her bee picture completed she started planning her next adventure. It was a quiet afternoon. She did venture into the garden once or twice. She was checking on Maud and her web but what she was really doing was some creature spotting. Still no sign of anything out of the ordinary. Maud’s web now spanned two-thirds of the garden. She had given up swinging from the fence posts making big webs. It was taking too long, it was time-consuming swinging backwards and forwards.
“How did the Darwin Bark Spider do it across a river?” wondered Maud. Perhaps Ava could find out for her after tea. Maybe there would be a video on YouTube and she could get some tips. Her current web building strategy involved making a series of smaller webs that, would join together later to make a big. She hoped this would count for the world record. She would get Ava to search online for that too.
The afternoon sun had slipped down towards the horizon. The air was cooler and Ava was sitting inside munching on jammy toast, drinking tea and searching online for web building information for Maud. All of a sudden there was a loud howl. Ava jumped up and rushed out into the garden. The air was filled with loud pops, like someone popping a bunch of balloons one after the other. The howling continued and this was added to by Maud shouting. Ava rushed over towards the cause of all the noise and commotion.
Trapped in Maud’s sticky web was a funny little green and blue creature. Ava was momentarily stopped in her tracks. She had never seen anything like it before. Quickly though she got to work untangling it from Maud’s web.
“It’s okay, get you out” reassured Ava.
She carefully removed the web trying not to get tangled herself. The creature has stopped howling and the popping noise had also stopped. Maud was not a happy spider. Her beautiful web now had a big hole in it.
“Hello I’m Ava, and this is Maud,” she said, indicating in the direction of the spider.
“I’m Philip” replied the creature linking its large eye.
Philip looked like an old-fashioned light bulb turned upside down. He had two little legs, no arms and a single large eye. He also had a tuft of bottle green hair on top of his head and a large bottle green moustache to match.
“Lovely to meet you Phillip, sorry you got trapped, are you okay? Inquired Ava.
“I think so,” said Philip. He blinked his large eye again. “I just need to rest.”
“Would you like a cup of tea?” Ava asked. She was relieved the little creature was okay and was feeling very excited to meet him.
“Yes please, lots of milk and sugar, and biscuits if you have them.”
Ava returned back to the garden with a big pot of tea and a plate of biscuits. Maud had calmed down a bit. Her web could be repaired. Ava poured the tea into the cups. The sun had finally set, day giving way to night. The garden was illuminated by strings of fairy lights glowing and twinkling behind Maud web.
“I thought I saw you in the garden this morning?” Ava asked Philip.
“You did” he replied slurping his tea through a bendy straw.
“I knew it. What are you doing in the garden?” Ava asked. Her curiosity needed to be satisfied, she was full of questions.
“I’m a Garden Gonk” replied Philip as if this answer would explain everything.
Maud looked up from her web repairs “a garden what?” she asked.
“Gonk” he replied.
“What is a Garden Gonk?” asked Ava as politely as she could.
“I am. It is my job to look after the garden and make sure the flowers grow.”
“You look after the garden?” Ava asked, surprised to hear this.
I am not surprised to hear this. I’m very lucky I have a beautiful garden with lots of beautiful flowers. I’m not very good at gardening. I don’t have a green thumb or any other green fingers. A Garden Gonk looking after my garden explains a lot but Ava hadn’t given this much thought or she too wouldn’t be surprised.
Ava poured some more tea out of the pot.
“Do you look after it all by yourself?” She asked
“Yes, it’s not a very big garden replied Philip taking another noisy slurp of his tea.
“How do you do it?” asked Ava.
“Old fairy magic. Garden Gonks used to look after all of the flowers everywhere but now we just look after gardens. We use old fairy magic to help us do this.”
“How does it work? How many Garden Gonks are there? Do you live in the garden? Why haven’t I seen you before? What’s your favourite flower?” Ava listed her questions without taking a breath. She had so many.
Philip nibbled a biscuit.
“It just works. If you think about how magic works it stops being magic. All I know is I blink my eye and magic happens. It’s a fairy secret how it works and they don’t tell anyone.” Explained Phillip.
“Is that what the popping sound is, magic happening?” Asked Ava recalling the popping she had heard earlier.
“Yes and no. Magic doesn’t have a sound but I can think about where I want to be, blink my eye and I’m there. This can be the other side of the garden or the top of the Blackpool tower. Transporting myself that way makes a popping noise. For some reason on hot days the popping is louder but most people don’t notice it.”
“Wow, that really is magic.” Marveled Ava.
“I don’t know how many Garden Gonks there is but I’ve got 12 brothers and 8 sisters. We all have big families, a lot of birthdays to celebrate.”
“That’s amazing” Maud had stopped repairing her web to join the conversation. Maud had always lived in the garden she didn’t even know Garden Gonks existed. How had she never seen Phillip before?
Phillip slurped some more tea. Answering all Ava’s questions was thirsty work.
“I don’t live in the garden. I live in a magical tree with the rest of my family. I mostly work at night. It is much cooler and magic works better at night. We also hibernate in the winter months. Not all Garden Gonks, it depends on the temperature. We are usually very good at hiding. Of course, you don’t expect to get trapped in a giant web. Normally you can just pop out of sight.”
Maud felt bad or trapping Philip with her web. She still wanted to break the World Record though.
“My favourite flower is English Lavender, I love the smell.”
“Is there anything else you would like to know?” asked Philip
Ava sat crossed legged trying to absorb all this information. It was a lot to process in one go.
“Yes, what’s your favourite biscuit?”
“What’s your favourite colour?”
“What’s your favourite animal?”
“I don’t know, I’ve not thought about it.” said Philip.
Ava poured the last of the tea out. She had thought today was going to be a quiet, adventure free day. She was very wrong about that. Maud had finished repairing her web. Even if it wasn’t the world’s largest web it was still an impressive sight. Philip was now fully recovered from his ordeal. He was ready to get to work. After all, the reason he had popped into the garden in the first place was to do some work, using old fairy magic to look after the flowers.
It was time for Ava to go inside to bed. It had been a busy day full of discovery. She had even made a new friend. What an amazing day. She said goodnight to Maud and Philip. She carefully carried the tea tray inside before heading to bed. Our little explorer fell into a deep sleep dreaming of her next adventure.