I was repotting plants and found a pair of large spiders under the rim of a pot. They were obviously male and female and had apparently built themselves a nice "honeymoon suite" of tangled threads in the space under teh rim. The female looked at least 2 cm long without the legs.
I also managed to take a picture of a much smaller spider in the garden. We always used to call them "potato spiders" (not to be confused with harvest mites) because the abdomen looks ratehr like a tiny whiteish potato. The spider was trying to run away so this picture isn't so good. It was probably only a bout 3 mm long.
Thanks, yes the big ones must be a species of Tegenaria. They did look similar to ordinary house spiders, but not quite the same - larger in the body and less dusty-looking with clearer markings.
On reading up on Tegenaria it seems the male stays with the female for a few weeks in the breeding season. So my comment of a "honeymoon suite" wasn't far off. AAAAAW!
I still can't post a picture of the "potato spider", without starting a new thread, (can anyone tell me how?) but it is very like pics of E. ovata, except the markings had no red in them.
Just posted a new thread for the "potato spider", http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/message/23709#23709. Unlike Tegenaria it's a pretty little thing!