2012 Caching Diary

2012 Caching Diary

My third year of caching, and the possibility of hitting a couple of milestones. So as ever on these posts, let’s start by posting a pictorial representation of the year.

Days Found

My matrix at the end of 2012 looks like this.

End of Year Summary – Increased from 184 to 235 different days, so 51 new days, including (for the first time) a February 29th.

Days Placed

This one is all about filling in dates in the year when caches were placed rather than when I found them. At the end of 2012 my matrix looked like this.

End of Year Summary – Increased from 268 to 340 days. This one seems to be remarkably easy to fill up. Another 72 days done this year.

Months Placed

The matrix of months since caching started. Now this one is a bit tricky to complete because it requires finding some quite old caches. There aren’t so many of them around and it takes careful choice. However, as I discovered recently, if you go for older caches you tend to find bigger boxes and more spectacular locations, on average. My status at the end of 2012 was like this.

28 months acquired over a period of 12 months.

Difficulty/Terrain

Caches are rated 1-5 for difficulty and 1-5 for terrain, with half points awarded, so that makes a matrix of 9×9. This looks quite tricky to complete.

Here is the snapshot of my efforts at the end of 2012.

End of Year Summary – Risen to 54 out of 81 – an increase of 11. Quite a productive year then, given that this challenge gets harder and harder as you have to find caches matching the D/T combinations that your actually willing to have a pop at.

UK and Ireland Counties

And finally the counties map.

I had absolutely no expectation of being able to finish this off as it requires traveling to the furthest extents of the UK to finish.

Here is my snapshot of this matrix at the end of 2012.

End of Year Summary – 23 counties completed in total, and 4 new ones acquired during the year.

New Countries

We went to Portugal for a running event in the spring.

Month-by-Month

So what did I actually do on the caching front in 2012 then ?

January (53 finds)

  • On January 5th I dashed out at lunchtime for a quick find – 1 find
  • On January 14th I went to fetch a nearby cache in MK – 1 find
  • On January 21st I went for a couple of long walks around the countryside to the south of Leighton Buzzard – 32 finds
  • On January 31st I was on a business trip to Blackpool and had plenty of time to go caching in the evening – 19 finds

February (99 finds)

  • On February 4th I drove out to the far side of Buckingham for a few – 9 finds
  • On February 7th I was on a business trip to Blackpool and felt obliged to go out caching again – 12 finds
  • On February 11th I had a record-setting day up near Peterborough (see Peterborough Splurge) – 63 finds
  • On February 21st I collected a local puzzle that had been bugging local cachers for 9 months – 1 find
  • On February 27th I went out in the evening to grab a couple of caches – 2 finds
  • On February 29th I left work ealy to attack a new local series and then attend an event – 12 finds

March (51 finds)

  • On March 6th I headed down towards Mursley after work – 6 finds
  • On March 9th I went out at lunchtime to grab a local puzzle – 1 find
  • On March 10th I drove to the top of Northampton for what turned out to be quite a frustrating day – 15 finds
  • On March 12th and 13th I grabbed individual caches on workdays – 2 find
  • On March 14th I had a longer drive around at lunchtime followed by an evening event – 6 finds
  • On March 15th and 17th I grabbed individual caches on workdays – 2 find
  • On March 23rd to 25th we were in Lisbon over the weekend and collected a few (see Lisbon Half Marathon) – 13 finds
  • On March 29th I went out at lunchtime – 3 finds
  • On March 31st I visited Stowe for planning my own caches and grabbed a few on the way by – 3 finds

April (66 finds)

May (97 finds)

  • On May 3rd I went out at lunchtime and somehow scraped an FTF – 1 find
  • On May 5th we were up in the north-east fopr the Bank Holiday weekend and went for a drive – 15 finds
  • On May 6th we were still up north and I found a few more – 2 finds
  • On May 7th we grabbed a couple more on our way home – 2 finds
  • On May 9th and 10th I was in Blackpool and grabbed a load over the course of the two days – 17 finds
  • On May 12th there was a new series up near Newport Pagnell – 16 finds
  • On May 13th I found a couple close to home – 2 finds
  • On May 16th I was in Blackpool again, with similar results to last time – 16 finds
  • On May 21st I found 4 near home at varying parts of the day – 4 finds
  • On May 22nd I was getting sick of going to Blackpool but thankfully not getting sick of going caching there – 20 finds
  • On May 27th we were down The Smoke while Kas did a run – I looked after the kids – 2 finds

June (96 finds)

  • On June 3rd I went up into the Cachemuda Triangle with Wavvy for a bit of a biggy (see Alconbury and Buckworth)- 56 finds
  • On June 6th and 7th I was back in Blackpool again – I used to go there quite a lot – 18 finds
  • On June 9th and 10th we were up at my folks over the weekend – 6 finds
  • On June 14th and 16th I went out in the evening to hoover up some local ones – 12 finds
  • On June 23rd I was in Pune on a business trip and snaffled a couple before flying to Chennai via Hyderabad in the evening – 2 finds
  • I was back home on June 30th and found one close to home and another out in the sticks – 2 finds

July (63 finds)

  • On July 3rd and 4th guess where I was ? It begins with a “Black” and ends with a “pool”, although to be honest, on most of these trips, it ended with a headache – 19 finds
  • On July 6th I was back home and did a single cache in the eveniong that needed some special equipment (water) – 1 find
  • On July 17th I was back there again (groan!) – 15 finds
  • On July 22nd it was the first ever Geolympix – Wavvy volunteered to drive for an attempt at the 11 in 11 challenge (see Geolympix 2012) – 22 finds
  • On July 23rd I ventured out for an hour near home – 4 finds
  • On July 29th we were at my folks and I had to go fetch Kas back from a 24 hour running event in Burton upon Trent – 2 finds

August (182 finds)

  • On August 4th I began the substantial Geolympix Marathon series on my way down to the airport (see Geolympix Marathon) – 44 finds
  • On August 10th I returned home from India and hacked round the rest of the Marathon (see Geolympix Marathon) – 66 finds
  • On August 11th the girls were all still away so I went caching again (see Midshires Meander) – 37 finds
  • On August 12th I was off setting a bunch of my own (see MKBW Magenta) and found a couple on the way – 2 finds
  • On August 18th we “coloured in” Norfolk with a trip over for an event on the beach – 5 finds
  • On August 19th there was a new one close to home – 1 find
  • On August 21st I was on a business trip in Durham and went for a walk in the evening – 22 finds
  • On August 23rd there was an event down near Hemel Hempstead and I took Ami down for the evening – 4 finds
  • On August 31st we were up at my folks for the Bank Holiday weekend – 1 find

September (94 finds)

  • We were still up at my folks on September 1st – 12 finds
  • On September 5th I was on a busines trip to Warrington – 7 finds
  • On September 11th and 12th I was back in Blackpool – 29 finds
  • On September 14th I found one at the end of setting a load of my own – 1 find
  • On September 20th I grabbed a quickie near home – 1 find
  • On September 26th I was back in Blackpool again – 16 finds
  • On September 28th and 29th I had a hack at the newly released MKBW Turquoise and Violet series (see MKBW Turquoise)- 28 finds

October (152 finds)

  • On October 4th there was an event down at Edlesborough – 1 find
  • On October 6th I had to fix a couple of my own up near Weston Underwood and grabbed a couple on the way – 2 finds
  • On October 12th I had a hack at some more of the MKBW Violet series (see MKBW Violet)- 30 finds
  • On October 20th I grabbed a couple whilst finishing off the setting of some of my own (see MKBW Blue)- 2 finds
  • On October 23rd I was in flippin’ Blackpool again and attended a local event- 2 finds
  • On October 27th I attended my first ever mega event (see Halloween Hides and Creepy Caches 2012)- 60 finds
  • On October 28th I hadn’t had enough, so I went out again (see Bletsoe Bombing Run) – 45 finds
  • On October 31st we were up at my folks in Measham – 10 finds

November (44 finds)

  • On November 3rd we were still up at my folks in Measham – 3 finds
  • On November 11th I made a single find in the middle of the day – 1 find
  • On November 14th I hosted an event in Stony Stratford – 1 find
  • On November 18th I did a random bunch of caches in Milton Keynes with Izzy whilst maintaining a few of my own (see Around and About)- 6 finds
  • On November 21st I was back in Blackppol again – it wasn’t a great night (see Not the Best Night Ever) – 10 finds
  • On November 23rd I made an attempt on both 1,000 finds for the year, and 2,000 finds in total (see Grand, Double Grand) – 23 finds

December (94 finds)

  • On December 5th I took a day off work during some snow – I went up to Ashridge and didn’t enjoy it, so I came back home and did a short series there – 10 finds
  • On December 6th I was still off work and decided to go caching again, this time on a long walking series round a part of the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk (see Trees, Golf and Mud)- 44 finds
  • On December 10th, oh come on, please let it be the last trip of the year to Blackpool – 11 finds
  • On December 12th there was an event down in Aylesbury – 3 finds
  • On December 15th I started a fairly poor series in north MK with BingBongLong – 7 finds
  • On December 16th I did a random one owned by BingBongLong – 1 find
  • On December 21st, for some reason I went and finished the rubbish series – 6 finds
  • On December 24th and 25th we were up in the north-east for Christmas – 6 finds
  • On December 30th and 31st I went out locally to grab a few final ones for the year (see Filling a Gap) – 6 finds

Filling a Gap

Filling a Gap

A day of generally messing around was punctuated by a quick trip out to grab a few new caches over in Woughton-on-the-Green, and to fill another gap in the “Days I’ve Been Caching” matrix on the stats page.

I had unexpected and very welcome company provided by Izzy, or Wandering Primrose as she’s known in caching circles. It’s always a joy when one of the girls comes with me. Ami was sadly rather ill after having a cold and then wanting to do Parkrun in Bedford yesterday.

Izzy and I parked up in the little car park just by the pond at the north end of Woughton and togged up suitably. Izzy brought along her trusty old scooter, mainly because her spangly new one was locked in Kas’s car and I didn’t have the keys handy. So off we set for a quick jaunt in the sunshine.

Just as we got back to the car we were standing next to a guy on a bike who was just about set off on a ride somewhere, when Izzy decided it would be a good idea to talk to him about going back to school tomorrow. Which she isn’t. But it makes for good conversation.

We did the following three caches :

  • My Local Park 4 – A quick cache, but one where I unfortunately came a cropper trying to jump a ditch to what proved to be the wrong tree.
  • My Local Park 3 – Another easy one stuck in a tree at Izzy’s eye height, after I had originally gone a-wandering off around the wrong side of a fence and found myself in some fairly impenetrable vegetation.
  • Waterside…the return – A location I have visited before, but where the owner bizarrely decided to create a completely new cache rather than to re-enable the existing one. The first time round I had the very tall Gary from CASH and Gary with me to do the reaching in, but this time I had to do it myself.

Here’s a few random photos taken on today’s short walk.

So now there’s two more in this series over the other side of the V7 in Woolstone, which I might do tomorrow so that I can fill in December 31st on my “Days I’ve Been Caching” matrix too.


Yule Blog

Yule Blog

Merida.jpgChristmas in Whitburn, as part of our three-way regular rotation of Christmas visits.  We’ve actually been here since Saturday and are stopping until Thursday, but I thought I’d write about Christmas Day itself – partly because the other days so far have been unremarkable, and partly because today I have my new camera, and hence I am duty bound to play with it.

Before we go anywhere else, though, I’d first like to start by thanking my mum-in-law Denise for hosting us for most of the week, and particularly for yesterday and today for preparing enough lovely food to keep us all happy, contented, and gently groaning all day. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow the Mrs will make me run again.

Our day began relatively late when Ami wandered into our room at 7.10 wondering if it was time to go downstairs to open presents yet. No Ami, it isn’t. So she crashed in our bed for another half hour, chatting to Kas about the pretty rippling patterns made by the street lights reflecting off the pools of rainwater on the garage roof outside, asking if it was light yet, and playing Wurdle on Kas’s iPhone.

We eventually relented at around 7.45, at which point Ami went to wake up the still snoozing Izzy ready for a team adventure downstairs to see what Santa left.

And what a lot he left !

Christmas_Whitburn_10.JPGAmi had a lot of jewellery and a new scooter and a bath bomb and a Coolkardz kit, and a phone, and a number of other things.

Izzy had a scooter and a bath bomb and a Coolkardz kit and a lot of Merida stuff. You know, the flame-haired Scottish star of the Disney cartoon Brave. See the thumbnail at the top of this post – the resemblance is remarkable. She’s now got a dress, cape, wig, doll and bow-and-arrow set.

Kas had some new jewellery and Kev had a new camera, one function of which is to do the “black-and-white-with-only-one-colour” shot shown here. It does red, green or yellow as well.

We had a light breakfast, whilst wading around the lounge knee deep in abandoned wrapping paper. Then we unwrapped a few more things and this lead us nicely to the part of the morning where it seemed like we ought to go play with a few things while Denise was slaving away on our behalf. Izzy decided she’d rather not go out – which I think was a decision made after a very brief glance out of the window at the rain. No such from Ami though. She has a new scooter to test. Can’t let a bit of rain stop that. So Ami and I went off into the rain for the combination scooter/camera testing session. Oh, did I mention that there’s also a new geocache within 200m of Denise’s house, and hence a perfect opportunity to fill in a gap on the “days I’ve been caching” matrix. Aside from not mastering “uphill” Ami did well on the scooter. Well enough that we made it a full kilometre down the coast to the start of Seaburn Beach, and another geocache. Blimey, two finds on Christmas Day. Don’t tell the Mrs.

After this we scooted and photographed our way back home and arrived just in time for Ami to quickly get dried and changed into her new clothes and new jewellery before Nicola, Ian, Ben and Jamie arrived for lunch. When Ami and Izzy see Ben and Jamie for the first time after a few months there’s normally a bit of an explosion of over-excitedness, shrieking, running around and general Herberting around.

Christmas_Whitburn_15.JPGHowever we minimised the Herberting phase today as a result of having got them together briefly last night and also as a result of all of them having new toys to play with. There was a bit of showing off to each other, some self-entertainment, and a very brief session of playing Monopoly when none of them understood the rules, but generally they were well behaved all day. There was a very funny highlight when Jamie announced he was going upstairs to “see what the children we doing”, which is the kind of thing we’re used to hearing Izzy say, but given that we only see Jamie every few months it’s funny to see the second youngest describing the others as “children”.

And then it was lunchtime. So we all picked our personal selection of likes and dislikes from a grand array of all kinds of savouries, beverages and sweets. Izzy didn’t eat much, after being a bit ill yesterday, but she wasn’t acting ill, just a bit drained.

We decided a bit of fresh air would be good later in the afternoon, and all four kids had new scooters to try out, so we legged it down to the nearby Cornthwaite Park. Izzy scooted for a few yards then handed her scooter over to be carried. The other three scooted most of the way. Nothing new there.

The park could be described as a bit damp after the recent rain. In fact the path down one side was flooded and impassable. Good job they weren’t scooting down that side.

At least by the time we went out in the afternoon the rain had cleared up and there was a nice sunset.

After which we retired back home so the kids could have chicken nuggets and chips for tea and play with each other a bit more before the inevitable. Then we watched the Strictly Christmas Special (we picked the winner) and it as time for the kids to go to bed, having had a strop-free day, for the most part.

So all-in-all a good day. And once again, many thanks to Denise for hosting us and feeding us.

Christmas_Whitburn_01.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_02.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_03.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_04.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_05.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_06.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_07.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_08.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_09.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_11.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_12.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_13.JPG Christmas_Whitburn_14.JPG

Trees, Golf and Mud

Trees, Golf and Mud

Brrrr ! What a cold day !

I had a holiday spare in December, having saved one up in case the girls had a teachers strike or an illness, but none materialized so I decided December 6th was late enough in the year to risk it. In fact, this was the second day in a row that I’d taken as holiday to go caching. On the previous day I’d had a fairly disastrous day at the Ashridge Estate and then in Milton Keynes, during which I’d found only 10 caches in about 5 hours and eventually gave up in despair.

I had been thinking for a couple of days about how much of the MK Boundary Walk geocaches I could get done in a single day at this time of the year, and I reckoned I could make it from the woods above Bow Brickhill all the way round to Newton Longville, passing through Great Brickhill. This gave me about 40 caches to go at – the “higher” end of the MKBW Orange Section and the whole of the MKBW Red Section. It looked like around 9-10 miles, so should be achievable in around 5 hours.

I parked my car up in Newton Longville (with a spare pair of shoes) and then Kas picked me up and drove me up to the top of the hill above Bow Brickhill to the point where the road intersects the Greensand Ridge bridleway/path, just around the back of the Woburn Golf Courses.

From here I initially walked more deeply into the woods along the bridleway to pick up a couple of Orange Section caches – filling in most of the distance over from Woburn Sands – and after these first three I turned around and started to head clockwise around the boundary walk. The initial target was to finish off the top of the Orange Section, which runs from here around to the A5. This section includes some multi caches as it passes on a public footpath that passes through the middle of the golf courses. In fact, that was a persistent problem for Kitey when he set this section. His allocated route has to make its way across the golf courses at Wavendon and Aspley Guise as well as the famous Woburn club.

As I was crossing the Woburn section there weren’t many golfers (well, it was 9:30 on a cold morning in December, so it might have been off season), but there was some irritating re-routing on one of the paths where there was a bit of tree engineering in progress and there was a bloke tending the greens. I have to admit I didn’t feel comfortable walking across there really, like that part in Falling Down where Michael Douglas struts through the middle of a country club scaring rich blokes, only the other way round. Just had the feeling I wasn’t supposed to be there. The caches were all fairly easy though, so at least I got through there as quickly as possible.

Once you pass through the golf course you are going quite sharply downhill towards the A5 – you come out onto a small road and then cut back again across a couple more fields, which proved to be extremely muddy despite the freezing temperatures.

Once at the A5 I diverted straight up the road for 300 yards to pick up a cache in a lay-by there, and then rejoined the footpaths at the start of the Orange Section, placed by Dave’s Piglings. The first part of this section is, shall we say, a bit agricultural. Which means at this time of year it’s muddy. One of the first ones was stuck to the bottom of a drinking trough, but as it was in a recently used field there was basically a 12 inch deep lake of sloppy mud with cow footprints for a radius of about 10 yards around it. The only reason I got there without drowning in the mud is that there’d been some frost, and just here quite a lot of the surface had frozen over solid. Not all of it, but enough to stand on without sinking in, so long as you stepped on the right parts. It was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. I imagined if I stepped on the wrong place I’d just sink in up to my neck and I’d need a bloke with a whip to come and rescue me from certain death. Thankfully I managed to get there without too much incident, although while I was signing the cache I was definitely sinking in.

All the caches from here through to Great Brickhill were muddy but straightforward apart from one where I needed to phone for help – it involved some steps and a stile, and a bit of ambiguity in the hint.

At Great Brickhill there was another multi and trad and then I descended further down into the valley of the Ouzel. Once away from the village the section took the road here. At the crossing of the Ouzel I had a DNF as a result of recent floods, which had totally removed the initial cache. The replacement for this one was set at a much greater height in an attempt to avoid future flooding issues. The water was still really high.

Where the road reaches the Grand Union Canal the caches take a north turn along the canal up into the bottom end of Bletchley at Water Eaton. The canal had ducks walking on the top. From Water Eaton the route runs along the roadside in a westerly direction until it reaches the West Coast Main Line and the new Newton Leys estate. At the time Newton Leys was very new. They had put in a couple of the access roads and what was probably “Wave 1” of the housing, but it was still, mainly, a muddy building site. One of the caches was right in the middle of a load of building works and I had to be careful. And from there the footpath had been, erm, “diverted” by the builders through a nearby mudbath that was masquerading as a field. Eventually this not-quite-a-footpath rejoined where it was supposed to be and turned into something more credible (by which I mean walkable). Around here though I hit a few problems with hints I didn’t understand and locations I didn’t like much – consisting mainly of caches in hedgerows that were still rife with late-season nettles and spikey things. I did find them all but a few of them were quite painful.

This continued all the way until about half a mile before Newton Longville. By that time I’d had enough, and it was going dark anyway.

Thankfully my car was where I’d left it and I returned home having found a total of 44 caches, which isn’t bad for a winter’s day.

The caches I found were: