Barren Broughton

Barren Broughton

We failed at A Random Bench #8 by Wavvy on a lunchtime saunter. This bit of Broughton is a 3G free zone.

The big round park in the middle of Broughton that is home to the Broughton Bunny Hop is also a 3G free zone, apparently.

And by the time we got to Taking the Pea by niccademus well, there was just too much traffic and time was running out.

So basically, a totally fruitless trip.

Still, it’s nice to get away from work for a bit and see some of the family – not an altogether wasted trip.

You know what ? I think we need a better GPS device. Just as well the Mrs has ordered one off the InterWeb………………..

Stony Strut

Stony Strut

A sunny but windy Saturday in Milton Keynes. Must be a good day to indulge the new habit of Geocaching then. So we had a moderate to lazy morning and then packed up a picnic and headed off to Stony Stratford to try to do some of Wavvy’s Ouse Valley Walk series.

Stop #1 was in the car park round the back of the High Street, where we found this to be one area of MK where free parking still remains. So to the caching.

We deliberately parked where we did so we were close to target cache #1 – Stony Stratford – take a seat. We did find it, and it is both weird and full of history, and rather a surprising item to find just here. Actually, Kas spotted it from a distance while Kev was floundering close up. Before this though, we had the customary 10 minute wander in random direction while the iPhone tried to figure out where we were. We don’t look at all suspicious doing that…….

And so off into the Ouse Valley Park via the nearest entry point. Our plan was to initially walk to the south end to pick up Ouse Valley Walk – Stumpy, but as we were walking that way the iPhone couldn’t decide whether this had been retired or not. It eventually settled on “retired”, so we turned back around, especially seeing as we could also tell the distance up to the car park and the kids were starting to moan about it being lunchtime. So bum to that.

Next target was therefore Ouse Valley Walk – Stony sluice. As the name suggests this is by a sluice in the river. As per logs, the actual site and the hint are totally incompatible and the correct location is given by the coordinates, not the hint. This was a cunning little beggar that we came across in a few minutes (the iPhone was struggling). It was also muggle central as it was a very sunny day. They were loads of kids very safely clambering over the sluice. And then a bunch of park rangers politely advising them there might be better places to play. Don’t they know we’re trying to be stealthy ? Easy enough find, I guess, but quite tricky to keep secret, especially when the kids get over excited about the find.

Just on from here is a big open flat area with a kids play park so we decided to break out the picnic. The area was also full of about 5 large muggle families having a birthday party. They seemed oblivious to the presence of anyone else, as evidenced by them playing football all around us, throwing frisbees around us and standing right next to us smoking. Now I don’t mind any of these activities in themselves, it’s just that this is a big open space and they feel the need to occupy the same bit as us, even though we’re eating. They also had brought music generating devices with them, but apparently only the one track , Abba’s Honey Honey (being played over and over and over again).

Lunch involved a selection of cheese, wheat based products and fruit, all of which were avoided by the daughters in favour of the crisps. Oh well ! Also having spent the whole trip so far moaning they were hungry it was then amazing to see how they now weren’t hungry at all but wanted to play instead.

We had a nice long break. After 30-40 mins Kev grabbed the iPhone and tracked down the nearby Ouse Valley Walk – Mill Stream, which proved to be just where the hint said. On return, Kas was dispatched across the field to look for Ouse Valley Walk – Bridge to Passenham. This proved slightly more difficult but she eventually found it by using the Force. Where would I put it if it was me ? That’ll be the one then….. Go have a look for yourself.

Next up was Ouse Valley Walk – Willow. For this one we got to roughly the right area and then gave Ami the hint to see if she could find it herself. Easy peasy. She was round the back of said item like a ferret up a drainpipe and came back quickly with clip box in hand. Well done. Signed log, swapped a few goodies and left some redundant European coinage and then moved on.

Next up was Ouse Valley Walk – Flood Plain, which proved rather elusive. Tree identification issues mainly due to inherent inaccuracy in the iPhone. After 15 mins or so we signed it off as a bad job and moved on. Let’s come back on another day when we have a proper GPS device.

And so on to Ouse Valley Walk – Watling Street.  Kas popped this one practically before we got there, but then stuffed it back so Ami could find it as well. Bit of a quickie, but aren’t those magnetic nanos small ?

With the girls still going strong we decided to cross the road and try a couple more. Next in line was Ouse Valley Walk – Pipe dream. This one involves a bit of off-piste work and due to an excess of vegetation we were a bit lost. The old iPhone compass was doing a good impression of a helicopter. After 10 mins each we gave up and moved on.

Time for one more before the iPhone finally runs out of juice ? OK then. Can’t finish on a failure. So next in line was Ouse Valley Walk – A short pause. It is a little further off the path than the text suggests but we got there eventually. At which point the iPhone finally gave up the ghost and switched itself off. Good timing huh ?

By this time though, we were a most of a mile from the car and the daughters were getting a bit hacked off. We tried a bit of double-dipping in the buggy with Izzy sitting in Ami’s lap, which meant we could make some progress out of the park and back to the main road. Then Ami jumped up and managed to walk all the way down Stony High Street and through the car park.

Is that a new curry house we haven’t been to yet ?

Linear Luck

Linear Luck

This was just a little jaunt up the Tattenhoe Linear Park in search of one of our previous failures – Linear Trek #3 by odysseyboy123. This was a solo effort by Kev one Tuesday evening once the girls were bedded down for the night and Kas was busy working. A welcome break from football overload, in fact.  We had visited this as a family once and Kev had subsequently tried one evening and failed again.

Anyway, this time Kev went alone and totally unaided by any form of technology. To quote Obi-Wan, “use the Force, Kev”

Turns out the old Jedi-shuffle did the trick. I’m sure that the flaming thing wasn’t there on the previous two visits. It must have been somewhere else, because on this trip it might as well have been painted bright orange and playing a vuvuzela. Stevie Wonder could have found it.

So, sign the log and scoot off home again.

Oh, and after we failed to find Linear Trek #5 again a week ago, we reported it (or we’re terminally stupid). Result is that odysseyboy123 paid it a visit and has confirmed it isn’t there, or at least it isn’t where he left it. It never got replaced and as soon as it was archived we replaced it with one of our own – not at the exact same spot but definitely within 568ft of there. Have a look at the Tyne Tunnel.

Donisthorpe Donder

Donisthorpe Donder

Ahhhh ! A happy weekend up at the folks house for a bit of a lie in and a random wander around some nicely redeveloped former spoil heaps searching for little plastic boxes. So it was Sunday morning and we were suitably tooled up with a bit of a picnic, two kids, two parents and an iPhone.

We parked up at the church at Donisthorpe and crossed the road for a bit of a stroll. The folks were new to the whole idea of caching, much like ourselves, so after a bit of explaining the rules, off we went, iPhone in hand. Our first target was Donisthorpe Pit Head. It proved to be the easiest of the day. Simple find, functioning iPhone app, no bother. Signed the log and dumped a trackable we extracted from some random place in Milton Keynes. Seem to remember it was a metal washer that was trying to get to Norway. Well, Donisthorpe is further north than Milton Keynes, so that must count as a positive contribution. Ami took out a hamburger yo-yo, which has so far proven to be the best thing extracted from a cache EVER !

Next up we targetted a few of geohunter-x’s Waterside Wander series. I won’t run through the failures though, because there were many. Not because they were hard to find, but mainly because this is a 3G free zone so the old iPhone was absolutely no help. About as much use as a chocolate teapot. So even though we knew roughly where things were supposed to be, we were shooting blind on Waterside Wander numbers 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 |& 11, even though we walked within a few yards of each of them. Doh !

So we ended up by Moira Furnace where we decided to jack it in and have our picnic at a table right up by the canal. The girls did their usual trick of eating a balanced diet between them. Cheese lumps for Izzy, crackers & bread for Ami. But, of course, crisps for all. Kev and Kas also popped off to the nearby cafe and returned armed with a selection of drinks and cakes. Mainly cakes. Mmmmm ! Cakes !

So suitably refreshed and with kids getting restless we decided to cut our losses and head home. We took the alternate route along the canalside and had another pop (or blind guess, really) and #5 before progressing round to The Big Green Thing. Electrical substation jobby, I think. Anyway, this is the supposed home of  Waterside Wander 6 The Big Green Thing. It was also a convenient place for parents and kids to grab a seat while Kev & Kas caught up. Somehow the slow ones got in front. A bit of rummaging around the Green Thing itself which proved fruitless despite being aware of the hint, but then Kev has a flash of inspiration and cast the net a bit wider. Hey Presto ! There it was, as obvious as an obvious thing. Signed log and had the (now mandatory) grief with the kids wanting to take loads of stuff out but put nothing in.

So off we went for a bit more walking. Kev had vague inklings about some of the others, mainly #9, but couldn’t remember whether there was 1 or 2 more before getting there. It’s 2, but we didn’t remember that (because we couldn’t even remember the numbers). So we missed 7 & 8 but got to the bridge that is the home of Waterside Wander 9 Over the Bridge. Kev remembered the hint but this narrowed it down to still 4 locations (bear in mind no GPS assistance available). Guess what – it was at the fourth possibility and was discovered about 2 nanoseconds before the impending explosion of children into a fit of irritating whinging. The find was sufficient to calm them down enough to get back to the car without further grief.

So we got back to the car and had a couple of theories about the nearby Grizzlies at St John’s, but the iPhone was still struggling and to be honest, if you don’t have a GPS you are never going to find anything hidden in vegetation, because you always get lost in the old “which tree” scenario.

Still, on the bright side, the parents seemed to enjoy getting out for a walk, which will all be very useful for when we go to France in a few weeks time.

Three finds is quite impressive when the iPhone could only help with the first. Shame nobody took a hat or suncream, so we were all a bit lobster coloured.

Cache & Dash ?

Cache & Dash ?

It started out as a quick cache and dash after school to the cache that is hidden in the woods near Ami’s school – Giles Brook Primary School. The whole family was present, with Kev having taken the day off work to fit a new dishwasher, which was done all bar the superficial “making it look nice” bits.

The plan was to find the cache Linear Trek #3, do some swaps and then return home, possibly via the park. Having researched this cache after the previous failure we had discovered that we were probably searching the wrong side of the path last time. We quickly found Ground Zero again and started to search the opposite side of the path to last time. Et voila! Less than two minutes later the cache was ours. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

We decided not to do any swaps at this one, we had been hoping that we would be able to pick up a Geocoin to leave somewhere else but it was sadly missing from the cache. It was far too easy, so we had to have a go at some more. Can’t be giving up that early.

So off we set in the general direction of Linear Trek #2, which is much further up the Linear Park at the far end of Tattenhoe Park. This involved a kilometre bike ride from the last stop and some rummaging in the undergrowth. The biking was OK except Ami was being a bit weird. Once we got vaguely close and GZ established on the iPhone it was actually a really easy find. Sign the log, stick it back, and off we go. Well, off we go with Ami choosing to fall off the bike and drop it in the grass every five yards.

At this point we could either go home, or we could try a few more. More sounds a good idea. Ami was suitably persuaded by the possibility of having a drink and Cheddars next time we stop. Izzy, as ever, seems perfectly happy to sit on the back of Kas’s bike.

We set The End of the Road …(nee The Road) as the next target. This was the closest to where we were at the time. It involves a lot of uphill cycling, but only 10 minutes of it. It also involves some rummaging in the bushes. The iPhone, as often happens, was struggling a bit with location. We gave the description, logs and hint a good read and thought we knew where we were heading. But when you get there the iPhone is lost because of the trees. So we tried to triangulate from outside on the grass, with Kev pointing iPhone and Kas & Ami in the undergrowth. Just as Kev was about to shout up with a location Kas shouted “Found It” Cool. That could have taken weeks. So we brought the box out onto the grass in an extremely quiet spot and had a nosey through the goodies. Ami got her promised cheddars and drink.

So what to do now ? Well, by now we were some distance from home and the route home could be chosen to pass a couple of other caches without adding distance. Westcroft was close, so we headed off in search of the interesting sounding Westcroft Water Monster. The Water Monster itself is some kind of bubbly, holey, thingy that alternatiely sucks and spouts water. The cache itself is one of those cunning magnetic nano jobbies. The hint is a giveaway, and Kas located it easily. However, some sneaky-ness was required because of the (assumed) muggle family getting in their nearby cars. Quick, grab it and lets crash on the grass and try not to look too out of place. Sign the log, back on the bikes, onwards to home.

Except home requires passing the Troll Hole. Kev remembered the description for this and so we were getting into the right location faster than you could say “where is it?” There were lots of muggles passing up and down the nearby Redway so some stealth and hiding was required, along with whipping out the drinks and Cheddars again to give some apparent excuse for sitting on the grass just here. Sign the log, swap a few jobbies, nick a few trinket toys and off we go home.

Five successes in one night, any more might be pushing our luck and would risk the girls getting well upset, so we decided to ride home by progressing down to the side of V2 and then along that Redway to home. Sorted, except that crossing the entrance road to Westcroft shopping centre took forever and we ended up getting off and walking across half a road at a time.

All in all it was a good night of exploring. The girls seemed to enjoy the chase, and it is good that this caching lark can be done as a family, or a couple, or individually, or anywhere in between. Time for bath, bed and that kind of stuff.

Furzton Frenzy

Furzton Frenzy

Our first successful venture on home turf was on Sunday 13th June in the afternoon.  We fooled the girls by using the “going to the pub” ruse, which always works because the pub in question has a good play area. Both kids decided they wanted to use the old bike caravan, which we thought we had managed to decommission since Ami got a decent bike and Izzy got a seat on the back of Mummy’s. Doesn’t matter though, it’s just a bit like hard work towing them around.

Our target for the afternoon was a clutch of caches around Furzton Lake – a short ride down the park from home.

To get in the mood. we started by (once again) failing to find odysseyboy123’s Linear Trek #3, which is supposed to be within spitting distance of our house. In fact, Ami, Izzy and Kev had a look for this while Kas cycled home to fetch her iPhone. Bit useless trying to cache without a GPS device. Silly mummy.

Enough of that, so let’s go find another one instead. We tried ParRathorne’s Splish Splash Area 51, which appears to be right next to the path running past the “pointy end” of Furzton Lake. We parked the bikes up and dismounted to find Kas had called us up about 200 feet short of target. Oh well, the girls can have a plodge up the path. Don’t want to spoil, but the location can (probably) be approached from two sides. We approached from the lakeside path. The Mrs and Ami did the searching, and actually found it both quickly and without incident.  Wey-hey, our first ever successful find in the UK. A nice big cache in a location you definitely wouldn’t trip over. We exchanged a few goodies and set off again.

Next up, we decided, would be mafiu’s Area 51 Stargazing. This is a puzzler, the coords given are in a distinctly wet and difficult to search kind of a place. So you need to read the hint. And when you do, you need to take a punt on whereabouts to start looking.  Actually, I think we had made up our minds beforehand because we are locals, and we were right, but there’s still a bit of sleuthing to do when you get there. You will also find that the internet is of absolutely no use here. Neither is local knowledge. Just go there and look around a bit…………….

Next up was saleagl’s Regatta Sails. This was a first attempt at a nano. The hint makes is pretty easy, but nevertheless, aren’t they small. Smaller than small Jack McSmall. So small, you could quite easily forget to put it back. Unfortunately, in trying to return it to the correct site Kev dropped it somewhere and couldn’t get his enormous ham-fists at. Help required from she of the smaller hands variety.

Next up was MKCurryMan’s No Swim, No Fear. Aside from being a busy location this was pretty easy find. Although the girls spent a lot of their time ripping flowers off a nearby bush. We really must teach them sometime that nature can be appreciated from a distance.

Last up for the day was MKCurryMan’s Furzton Lake View. This one is also Muggle Central but Kas spotted it fairly quickly and Ami retrieved it so we could retire to a conveniently safe bench to have a shufty. Some swapping. The girls extracted a mini puzzle thingy and did their best to shout to everyone about what we were doing. More instruction on sneaky caching required, methinks. Anyway, bung the cache back in the location and retire to the Furzton pub for beer and comestibles.

All in all, a successful afternoon’s caching, with the only downside being that it rained on the way back and we got wet. Plus the girls were a bit late in bed, but hey, Kas gets to deal with that kind of thing……………..

Linear Luck

Tattenhoe Trials

The Gardners second geocaching trip was the first full family, bike mounted affair and was performed on a balmy Friday night in June.

It seemed a simple objective really. Find three geocaches within spitting distance of our home, all listed as easy finds. The reality, however, was rather different.

The three items in question are all from odysseyboy123’s Linear Trek series, and we decided to attempt them in order of distance from our house. In fact, when we set off, we probably only meant to go to the closest – Linear Trek #3. But we didn’t find it.  We searched all the obvious places and it wasn’t there. We searched a few less obvious places and it wasn’t there either.  I think the problem is twofold. First fold is the iPhone’s limited positioning ability. Second fold is that (as we now know) this is a nano-cache, and nano-caches aren’t very big.  It is a magnetic one, but the area is fairly short on ferrous objects, so we wondered whether it is some sort of cunning vegetable magnet. Eventually we reached the kids’ tolerance limit and got back on the bikes for another pop.

Linear Trek #1  is further along the park near to the bandstand. The inaccuracy of the iPhone positioning here gave the fairly serious problem of which side of the stream was required, and then which piece of vegetation. Whatever ! Problem with vegetated areas and no useful hints is that there’s quite a big area to search. Which meant we couldn’t find it. Bananas ! Back on the bikes.

The final opportunity in Tattenhoe is Linear Trek #3, which is meant to be in the woods below Giles Brook School at the south-west end of the estate. Again, the iPhone’s inaccurate positioning and the lack of signal in the woods meant a lot of fruitless searching. We did, however, provide a very substantial meal for the numerous insect life forms thereabouts. Which is not brilliant, I can tell you. In fact, the insects were very hungry.

So all in all, this was a bit of a frustrating evening, and it’s fair to say that we were beginning to lose the faith by the end of it. We retired home for some consolatory beverages and to force the kids reluctantly into their beds. Maybe we’ll have more luck on another day.