Stowe Maintenance

Stowe Maintenance

So after a couple of warnings about my geocaches at Stowe being in need of some TLC, and after a couple months of finding instead of hiding, it was about time I paid a visit and fixed a couple of things. I got up earlier than I have since giving up work before Christmas and Ami and myself headed off, with a plan to meet Kas and Izzy in the New Inn for lunch later. Obviously there was a bit of time to find a few too, while we were there. It would be impolite not to, and I need to do a few to fill in a gap on my “days I’ve been caching” matrix.

We started round the north side to have a go at Stowe: Dead or Alive and Stowe: Field Boundary, both of which had been reported missing and both of which actually were missing. This walk drew us up through a field full of cows and over to the Wolfe Monument and Trig Point on top of the hill. The ground was absolutely soaking as a result of recent rain, and because there were cows in the field rather than sheep (cows are somewhat heavier) the grass had been cut up into a quagmire. It was hard walking, and Ami was wearing her trainers, which aren’t great for wading through ankle deep slop.

On this little route we passed three of the other caches, all of which were fine. We also passed a Number 22 Routemaster bus to Parsons Green. Must have been something on at the school that required a bus.

After this we drove out on the road traveling away from the old access road (now the access to Stowe School but to nowhere else). The Stowe Safari series are all inside toy animal containers, but are hidden in traditional ways rather than being hidden by the container itself, if that makes sense. Aside from the fact that there’s nowhere to park down there, they were quite easy. When I got home in the evening, I discovered that there are now two more Stowe Safari caches, which I could have done today if I’d known they were there.

Our second circuit at Stowe started at the New Inn and required the fixing of Stowe: Roadside and Stowe: Last Post. I have given up on the second one of these because every time somebody did it, they put it back in a different place, which made it a bit unpredictable. So I decided to trash it, and will maybe replace it with a new cache on another visit. We checked 6 others on the way. One of these was Stowe: Bridge, which was the site of an initially irritating, and then quite humorous episode in which I advised Ami not to follow me through the sludge, but she then decided to follow me and got her feet stuck in the crud on the way out. This lead her to fall over in the mud and her camera went splat. Thankfully she had the lens cap on so no damage done there. It has been suitably cleaned up with a couple of Mr Sheen wipes. Sadly, Ami herself had no such luck. She was rather covered. We’d already asked Kas to bring a change of shoes, socks and trousers for her, as she was getting a bit cold and mucky, but that fall was the clincher. She was covered.

After this the rate of walking was even slower than it had been before so we felt the need to just get back to the cafe as soon as we could. Kas arrived just as we got there, so Ami changed in the car and we dived into the cafe for some lunch.

For my afternoon, I decided to try a few caches in Buckingham. I have to say they weren’t that inspiring, and when it started getting dark and I had my first DNF I just decided to give up and go home. It gets my year of caching off to a start anyway, so not too bothered. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to finish the series in Buckingham though.

During the day I found the following caches. Ami was with me for the first 4, which are close to Stowe. The others are in Buckingham and I did them on my own :

New Years Day 2013

New Year Wander

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New Year’s Day, and all is quiet.

Well, not quite. We went for a walk around Willen Lake and actually it was a bit busy. I suppose the bright sunshine, fresh air and post New Year’s Eve hangover contributed to it.

Ami had her new twin-dooberry scooter, which proved useful, and Izzy decided to walk, as she does, and once again we had a clutch of new cameras to take with us. See attached photos.

We parked up by LA Fitness and decided to walk clockwise around the south lake, including walking out around the little knobbly bit around the bandstand, near to the cafe. We started separating from each other fairly quickly here, with Ami scooting off, and then not scooting off, and Kas and Kev trying to take a few photos, and Izzy plodding around with Kas whilst constantly expressing a desire to go faster. Or slower. Or faster.

We managed to avoid stopping at the cafe on the way past.

From here we moved around towards the Siemens building and then onto the section around the north where the parkrun course goes. Last Saturday it was flooded and parkrun was cancelled, mainly because for the second time in a month the lake was up over the path on this section. It was passable today, but only just. We alternated between walking on the path, diverting around the grass and scooting through the puddles. Conditions on the grass would be described as “heavy”, if this was horse racing. Judging by the state of the course, it’s looking like Parkrun might be a bit dodgy for this week too, not that I’ll be there.

The bit that is likely to stop parkrun would be the little bit over the wooden bridge at the far end. Why ? Because the path is more like a ford. It’s a bit wet. The deepest water was about 3-4 inches deep. Izzy had to be carried through that bit. She stole a piggy-back off Kas. Ami went over on her scooter, being pushed by Kev. So Ami got over with dry feet. Kev and Kas had big heavy boots on. Izzy got her feet wet having a little plodge. So Izzy started suffering from cold feet from here onwards.

By the time we were here then there’s no merit in turning back. We’d have to ford that stream again and it’s not any shorter. So we decided to keep going round the lake and the parkrun course. I’m glad we did. If we hadn’t, I wouldn’t have got this excellent shot from under the bridge.

As we made our way around the far side of the South Lake Ami was playing a game of “following the lake”, meaning that she was walking along the tide line of crud that the overfull lake deposited in the previous week. You don’t notice the little ups and downs in the pathway until you see the tide line wandering backwards and forwards over the path.

By the time we got to the south end it was starting to get very dusky, being about 3:30 or so. By this time Ami was mainly walking while Kas pushed the scooter. She was also lingering behind a bit. Not sure whether she was lingering behind Kas or streaking in front of me. I’m going with “lingering” because both kids normally prefer Kas’s company to mine. I did manage to get this rather nice shot across the lake all the way through to the Peace Pagoda by the North Lake, though.

As we walked our way back in front of the buildings it was getting distinctly dark, but the kids had definitely got their eyes on the prize – an ice cream. Sadly they didn’t have the scoopy-outey variety available, so they had to put up with a Magnum, but they survived.

Here are some of the photos from today.

If you look closely at them you can see that I was experimenting with various settings on the camera.