Grand, Double Grand

Grand, Double Grand

Friday, no work, Kas is out all day, kids at school. Must be cache o’clock.

Today’s plan, because Kas is out all day, and therefore not able to ferry me around the place, is to go hoover up a few of my collection of un-done caches around the north of Milton Keynes.

There are about 40 caches in MK I haven’t done, and 37 of them are north of the H5. Which is quite a lot.

My other plan, more of an objective really, is to meet the twin targets of 2000 total caches and 1000 caches this year. This requires completion of 18 and 22 caches respectively. On the face of it, not a huge number to do in a whole day. But that doesn’t allow for geographical spread. Or them not being there. Or me not being able to find them. Or the fact that the ones I haven’t done yet are all the ones I failed on previously, so they’re probably quite hard, or something. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

I also didn’t allow for the fact that we had what could only be described as “a fair amount of rain” the previous night. So Milton Keynes was kind of like a group of islands at the time.

So back to the plot, the scene being well and truly set. Set to death, probably.

I decided to start up in Two Mile Ash for This Sporting Life – Golf, next to the golf course, funnily enough. Easy find, but somewhat squelchy on the way over from the car. And when I got to GZ, the ground was actually frosty. The photo looks like it was taken in the evening, but it was actually taken at 9.26am – just a trick of the light that makes it look like evening.

Next up I popped round to Keep Your Chins Up – this is one I’d been too before and failed with. It turns out I failed last time because I read in too much complexity and forgot to check the bleedin’ obvious. A quick call for a PAF confirmed that, although I’d already been over the stream by this time. Which was closely followed up by some dodgy parking at Daytona for a quick walk round to Let’s go orienteering – 6 – a series that sprung up a couple months ago in various bits of MK. I seem to have done quite a few of them today.

And then along a bit further to grab Ills n Olla’s, which is near the site of a previous search. This one took a while because of a bit of Helicopter GPS syndrome. And because I went to the wrong place. And it was wet. Really wet. And slippy.

But I found it eventually, in a pretty obvious place really.

Which then lead me up to Heelands for another go at not one, but two previous failures. There’s 3 multis based around a weird castle on a stick, birdhouse thing in Heelands. I got the second on my first attempt, but not the first and third. I rechecked my coords, like you do, and wandered off down to the site of Castle in the Air 1, but once again couldn’t find it, despite it having been relocated. Mumble, mumble. A failure. Breaks my run and makes life harder. So I moved the car a bit and tried Castle in the Air 3. This time I did find this one. This, too, has been moved. It says it moved a bit. It was about 30 yards from my first search, so I guess I calculated wrongly last time.

The next obvious location from here was to go have a pop at Linford Wood. Four in there I haven’t found yet, so that would move me along quite well. Only a Little Saunter proved tricky, and I picked it up on my way back after a bit of inspiration from other logs. The Lone Pond required jumping a very wet ditch and scrambling out of the wood to get to the correct pathway. Cache in a Dash was quite easy, as was Leap the ditch – Coz we had too.

So far it’s all going quite well, I think. A bit slow, but 8 finds and one failure. On reflection then, only searching for 9 caches in nearly 3 hours isn’t so hot, is it.

Better get a shift on then. Stop rambling, man !

Campbell Park is the home too Let’s go orienteering – 4, and I was surprised to find a Munzee thingy in there too, so I have now logged my first Munzee, after umpty-twelve months of membership.

And then up to get Welcome to Pennyland! 2, which wasn’t the best ever but at least it was quick.
I have long looked at Brick Outhouse and somehow (I don’t know why) I had a picture in my mind of some kilns in the middle of a field surrounded by long grass. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The kilns are in a quiet little space between trees and houses next to a pathway and quite close to the canal. Can’t say where the cache was though. Didn’t find it. D’oh ! Two failures. But thankfully Let’s go orienteering – 3 was a nice easy one to get me back on the straight and narrow.

Tongwell Lake is another one of those balancing lake thingies that stops all the houses and streets from getting flooded every time it rains for more than 2 minutes. It’s the source of a couple of previous failed visits. Blake Friday 2 was a previous failure but I can say with great authority that it was definitely not at this location last time I came. sticky trickster is one I have not tried before. And now I found it, I guess I won’t have to try it again. Lakeside Hill Stash was another failure – spent about 20 minutes, with no success. Did a couple of PAFs by text and voice but probably won’t go back unless I’m doing maintenance on the one of my own which is nearby. I’d already moved on to football match and to be honest, time was marching on and I couldn’t be bothered to go back. 2pm and only 15 finds in nearly 5 hours.

A chance call with Wavvy put me off attempting the one in Newport that’s up a tree, but Push the button! looked easy and quick, so off I went. It wasn’t. I didn’t find it. Bum. More wasted time. Still, I did pop over into the bargain booze shop nearby to acquire lunch – a very healthy snack of crisps, chocolate and coke. And one of those crunchy peanut caramel bar things. I love them – when I see one, I have to buy it.

From here I tried to drive past Newport Pagnell Services to get to a couple of missing ones on the Stanton Low series, but I was greeted by some signs, a bunch of cars executing dodgy 3 point turns, and a lot of water.

But back at the plot, I circled back and had a go at STANTON LOW SERIES: GATEWAY, which proved remarkably easy when you’re on the right side. By now I was obviously progressing my way along the road from Newport to Wolverton, like you do. So and obvious next stop would be somewhere near Zebedee’s gone trad ! and Brian’s gone trad ! – both of which I found, although Brian took a bit of time as a result of him not being where he should be. He seemed at home where he was, but the owner said I should put him back where he was meant to be.

Park Life was very close to being a failure – the field was rather on the damp side, but thankfully the host item was a little way away from the wet bit. A little way.

Another previous failure was SIDETRACKED – WOLVERTON. I parked some God awful distance from it, having passed right by a few others, and walked back about 500 metres in failing light. It was there this time. MK Aeolian #1: Wolverton Park takes the award for worst location of the day. Not just because I couldn’t find it, just a bad location, I thought.

From there I legged it round to Tall Trees, which was definitely there and I found it easily, as was New Bradwell Park – Laurel n Log, near where the stream in spate photo was taken.

Cache versus Trash ? eluded me. I kinda know what it is supposed to be, but couldn’t see it. Light was failing anyway so I didn’t spend long. It’s not a great location.

Which left me just with Colley’s Mill. It requires a walk around a nice old windmill in Bradwell to gather some info, then a short walk over. Previous logs indicate that it wasn’t in place, so when I thought I had the coords I walked over, checked around a bit (using my torch) and decided it wasn’t there. I left a temporary replacement there in the hope the owner let’s me claim it as a find.

Not the Best Night Ever

Not the Best Night Ever

So I got back to my swanky hotel in Blackpool fairly early. Dark, but fairly early. Some caching beckoned, and I toyed with driving back down to Lytham to have a hack at the 20 new caches down there, but I eventually plumped for Carleton and Norcross. On reflection, I’d probably have done better in Lytham, but you just don’t know what the form will be when you go somewhere new, and the thing about caching is that you’re always going somewhere new. And if it’s rubbish, you don’t have to go back.

My stats for the evening were a truly abysmal 10 finds and 10 DNFs. There were several points when I swore, and a couple of moments where I nearly jacked it in. Like when I’d been out for an hour and had found precisely nothing. And when I got back from wading through ankle deep mud for 100 yards looking for what turned out to be find #4. And when I reached 10 finds. Actually, for that last one, I really did jack it in, but it was nearly a nearly, because I nearly kept going.

I toiled my way through muggles, ivy covered trees, dodgy dark alleyways and a total absence of convenient parking. The result was wet boots and wet trousers, and a few suspicious locals, I think.

But I was rewarded at the end with a couple of easy finds on puzzles I solved 3 weeks ago (on their release day, when I wasn’t here) – two of Chuffbert’s Board Game series. And then I decided to “settle for one point” as they say in the footballing game, and I retired to the hotel for beer, calamari, burger, chips and football.

All of which goes to show that night caching in an urban setting in winter is not the best combination. Or it proves I’m rubbish at caching in the dark. Or maybe it proves precisely nothing other than “stuff happens”

It is frankly too painful to list the caches I tried, so I’ll spare you the agony. Anyway, the barman is now hoovering, so it’s probably time I was in bed.

Around and About

Around and About

Sunday afternoon in winter. Not a lot to do, having cleared my way through the European Ironing Mountain for nearly 4 hours yesterday, so a spot of caching seemed in order, especially seeing as I’m still a few shy of my 1000 for the year and I’ve been doing my best to fail at that one recently by not taking my Friday holidays and generally doing other stuff.

So after a morning of cleaning up, making pancakes with Ami, and then clearing out a cupboard in the kitchen (livin’ the dream), I managed to persuade Izzy to come caching with me on the understanding that there would be cake involved.

I didn’t really have much of a plan, but I had a few reports of missing caches in Milton Keynes so I thought we’d go and do a bit of maintenance. Izzy has her own account now (Wandering Primrose) so while I’m searching and replacing, she’s getting her stats up ready for when she’s old enough to actually care. Well, she enjoys coming out for a walk occasionally. Very occasionally.

So off we pootled to see what we could find. I asked her if she wanted to do maintenance or a find first, and she was squarely in the “find” camp. She made this decision just in time as we were passing St Mary’s Bletchley – my closest non-smiley – so it seemed like a good place to go first.

The coordinates took us somewhere into the churchyard, to a very unpromising looking spot which we quickly dismissed. So we looked about for some places matching the hint, and at the same time read other people’s logs about the coordinates, and quickly ended up at a much better looking spot. Made a meal of it though. I actually moved the cache container out of the way, not realizing that it was the cache, and then searched fruitlessly for 10 minutes before picking up and actually looking at the thing I previously moved. Oh yes, one of those then……

So next a couple of maintenance trips to puzzles of mine in Bletchley. MK Schooldays: Statistics didn’t really need maintenance because Dr Solly found it a few days ago, but we were passing, so why not. One in the bag for Wandering Primrose, anyway, with a log that says something like “I smiled at Daddy in a cute way and he said I could log it as a find and solve the puzzle when I’m old enough”

Abundant Woodyard Users did need a look, because nobody has found it since I moved it in February, indeed nobody had found it for nearly 13 months, and then someone went for a look and reported it wasn’t there. Plus I know a certain Slovakian gentleman also has the solution and was aiming to go for a look. So I thought I’d go check. Once I’d estblished where I actually put the thing 9 months ago it then took me a good 20 minutes to find it. Even though it’s mine, and I have the hint. Not impressive. In fact, I actually gave up and wrote out a new log roll, put it in a new container and then started rummaging around the tree for a nice hidey hole before finding the original one stuck in the ivy right where I left it – apparently untouched by human hand since I left it there in February. Cool – the person who logged the DNF will have to come again and find it properly then. I am happy to award “gimme” finds to people who can’t find caches because they’re not there, but I’m not giving finds to people who can’t locate ones that are there, even if they are a bit on the tricky side. So mailed the DNF’er to say they better come for another look, and mailed the certain Slovakian gentleman to tell him it’s kosher if he wants to come for a look. He mailed back later to say he didn’t find it about 2 hours after I was there. Guess it’s a good one then.

Next was a quick “drive by” at Little Herbert – the site of a previous cache-related adventure and a relatively easy find which involved me picking Izzy up so she could stretch up for it. Very public location, surprised it has lasted more than a couple of days, but maybe the general suspension of reality concept applies, even in Bletchley.

So onwards to Caldecotte Lake to have a pop at Let’s Go Orienteering! – 2. Suffice to say I won’t be taking up orienteering any time soon with map reading skills like that. Should have checked the quickest way over the river, but instead ended up walking a good 300m too far down the lakeside and then coming back again. I gave Izzy the phone about 100m out and she negotiated her way to the little red pin. Then I told her the hint and she bent down and picked the cache up. Cool. She listens !

So on to another maintenance job. This time, MK Schooldays: English Literature, which was reported missing in the week. And missing it was. The general area is a lot more messy than I remember when setting it, and not really suitable. However, armed with a little store of pots covered in camo duck tape, we found a nice little spot about 10-15m away which will do us nicely, thankyou very much. Wrote out a new log sheet, chucked it in. Stuck on the MK Schooldays Bonus Code we thoughtfully printed out before leaving home, and Bob’s Yer Teapot, as it were. Except, of course, this one is the poem cipher, so the puzzle needed changing too. I was expecting a painful night finding a copy of the cipher poem, then reworking all the words, and recalculating the whole shebang, but in a fit of efficiency when I created these puzzles I actually recorded the whole solution in a spreadsheet when I set them up. I just had to type in the new location and hey presto, it told me what to change the codes to. Blimey ! Sometimes it’s almost like I’m clever.

Almost !

And with that, Izzy came out with a lovely comment about her energy level needing to be up to her boobs and it actually being down in her feet, which is a very convoluted way of telling me she was cold and she wanted that cake I promised her earlier. So we drove off down to Kingston Tescos for a quick coffee and were surprised to see Kas and Ami just getting into the car having finished off the shopping. Not that surprised, I suppose, and it was Izzy that saw them, not me. But nevertheless, coffee and cake for 4, not 2. We were late enough that they would only serve drinks in takeaway cups, ‘cos they’d already got the dishwasher on.

Izzy decided this was enough for one day, so she went home with Kas and Ami while I took the slow route home along the H8, picking up a few on the way. 3 to be precise, as follows :

  • Let’s Go Orienteering – 5 – a multi for that I gathered a couple of months ago, then ran home and realised I’d passed the final on the way. D’oh!
  • Pretty Canal Bridge – a nice little trad that was an easy find, even in the failing light with a UV torch, the only one in my bag having managed to forget to pack any of the others.
  • H is for … – a tricky little puzzle that I’ve had the answer to for ages, but which has been lost in action on both my previous visits. Found it today though.

So all in all not a bad afternoon, I reckon – 3 maintained/checked and 6 found. And cake.

And, of course, an afternoon with my gorgeous little Izzy. I’ve spent a fair amount of the weekend with Izzy, and it’s always a pleasure.