These large, and very beautiful, Wasp Spiders are not uncommon in the garden; this female above I found whilst trimming some Ivy. What I've not seen before, however, is the accompanying walnut-sized striped 'egg sack'. It's HUGE.
I understand that Wasp Spiders, especially the males, can give a nasty bite, but they're not venomous. Several friends who are normally a bit iffy about spiders have found them to be fascinating. Maybe the Wasp Spider is the answer to arachnophobia.
It's not easy to measure spiders, but this one (from front to back legs) was about 3.5 inches.
I've just noticed that there are several egg sacks dotted around in the ivy. Are we about to have a Wasp Spider population explosion?