A busy old day this. Under the “old” scheme of things, it was a day for doing a bit of caching to contribute to “The Matrix”, so we planned a bit of caching in Newcastle after Kas did Parkrun. We had spare clothes for Kas in the car and off we went.

At Parkrun, Kas was running alone with the intention of running as fast as she could. It was a nice cold morning and what is known to be a fast course around the Town Moor. I’m not sure how many people were running but it looked like around 200.

Kas settled into the middle of the pack at the start. When she did get back she had run a PB by about 12 seconds. Top effort.

The kids occupied themselves by getting their boots and trousers muddy and collecting up sticks. Something about building a nest.

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The next stop after this was breakfast and warming up. We drove over to Gateshead and parked at the Sage, then crossed over the Millenium Bridge and queued outside a likely looking pub/restaurant until they opened at 10am. It proved to be a good place to stop. The kids ate hearily. As usual, not being familiar with the portion sizes, we ordered a bit too much. Izzy had bacon, and the beans off my Full English. Kas had toast. Ami had a jam bagel, some toast, and some more toast and hash brown off my Full English. And I had the non-carbohydrate parts of a Full English, including sausages, bacon, mushroom and fried eggs. An Atkins feast.

After initially sitting by the bar, where there was an open door and a “disco bloke” installing extra speakers and cables, we relocated to the other end and sat on a table with two great big upholstered chairs, right next to the fire. Just as the fire got going the sun came out, so we were being doubly toasted from the fire on one side and the sun on the other. Mmmmm !

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And so to a bit of caching and walking.

We dropped off Kas’s bag at the car and then proceeded to pretend we were tourists. It’s a while since I’ve been to central Newcastle, and have never really explored any of it with a cacher’s eye, so the experience was quite new. In caching terms though, it wasn’t so hot. Three finds and three DNFs.

First find was by a sculpture behind the Baltic Centre. Excellent spot for a cache.

Next up was a failure outside the Sage and then a walk over the Swing Bridge and then up to the Castle – the kids were intrigued that this castle could ever have been new enough for the city to be named after it.

Just here (where we stopped for a cache on the end of the High Level Bridge) Kas noticed a suspicious looking bit of railway hardware on top of the nearby viaduct. A bona fide steam train. It was accompanied by a couple of enthusiasts who were following it around (but not riding on it) for the day.

If we’re being absolutely proper about this, it had two locomotives, one pulling and one pushing, and a good selection of venerable carriages in the middle.

For the real purists, the locos were the LNER Thompson Peppercorn class K1 62005 “Lord of the Isles” at the front and the LNER class K4 61994 “The Great Marquess” at the back. By far and away the biggest steam locos we’ve seen running.

At the castle we managed to dissuade the girls from going inside. Paying £8 to walk up the stairs seemed excessive. They would most likely not have wanted to look at any of the museum exhibits.

Next cache was supposed to be around the back of the cathedral, but we couldn’t find it. Nice Vampire Rabbit on the building though.

And then another failure before finding A Daring Defenestration, which celebrates a famous elopement.

After this the kids had had their fill, so we retired to a nice little coffee shop on the Quayside and then back to the car and home to Whitburn. It was nice to spend a day with the girls and to enjoy wandering about slowly, and generally meandering.

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Seaham Beach

Seaham Beach

We were staying at Kas’s mum’s house for the Easter weekend. It must have been Easter because we were in the North-East for at least 3 days. So by definition this must have been Good Friday. We’d driven up in the morning (must have done, because we logged a geocache on the M1 near Sheffield).

We decided we’d go down to the beach at Seaham to collect a bit of sea-worn glass and similar substances, and to get a bit of fresh air while we could. And on Seaham beach at this time of year the air is normally quite fresh. But the kids enjoyed it and, in a cold, windy sort of way, so did I.

We did a token geocache in Seaham (Seaham’s Noble Connections) after we’d been on the beach. Well, it had to be done. It was right next to where we’d parked.

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I managed to lure Ami out of the house for a bit of geocaching on the promise of getting a McDonalds afterwards. Quite an easy lure really.

I planned a dash up to Towcester because there’s quite a few there that I haven’t done, and it’s not that far away. There’s enough for an afternoon or so, or in this case, a couple of hours while Kas has a bit of quality time with Izzy.

Our first stop was in a side street where the A5 enters from the south, to find a little nano stuck to the road sign. This was our first experience this afternoon of the cold. Real cold. Finger freezing cold. Not helped by getting my gloves wet by rummaging in the snow. That’ll be cold fingers all afternoon then.

We then parked up around the west side for what turned out to be a very muddy walk down the Grafton Way bridlepath. We found 3 down there but got seriously muddy in the process. There was a moment where Ami nearly lost a boot in the squelch. Nice !

So after 3 finds we decided to back track up to the path and out onto the road rather than face what looked like a particularly muddy bit. And from here we had a handful of failures. Three in a row.

The first was a bridge over a stream, and the terrain rating indicated it might be underneath. I may be daft but there’s no way I’m going under a bridge and into a wintry stream in spate. The second failure was a micro where we know we were in the right place but just couldn’t see anything. The last one celebrates a peculiar type of road crossing – a Pegasus Crossing – I subsequently discovered that the cache may well be 50-60 feet further along the fence than GZ indicates, which is disappointing.

So after three failures we decided to mooch back to the car via one further cache, which proved to be the best of the day. Can’t say too much because I don’t want to give the game away, but it involved a bit of false pipework.

And once back at the car we scooted straight round to the McDonalds we saw when failing at the Pegasus Crossing. Ami had her usual, and because I’m on an Atkins Diet, I had a coffee. And a chip. And one bite from a Chicken Select. Ami had the rest of it.

No, really, she did !

The caches we found were :

Chiki Ceramiki

Chiki Ceramiki

I decided it might be nice to get my mum something personal for her birthday, so to combine this with a nice morning out for the kids, we decided to go to Chiki Ceramiki in Oxley Park – the kids have been before and they enjoy it.

So on arriving the initial job was to decide which pieces we were going to do. The girls were itching to buy all kinds of stuff, so I agreed we could go back again on another day so they could do something for themselves. Today we need to focus on doing something for Granny.

They picked large platters / plates, which should be slightly decorative and also functional. We have some pieces from here in our own house and they are great – dishwashable and very colourful.

Izzy needed a bit of support writing the wording on hers and tidying a few of the colour splodges, and Ami pretty much did her own design but enlisted Kas to colour in a few of the “twiddly bits”. Secretly, I think both me and Kas enjoyed doing it. Might be nice to go back without the kids one day, it’s probably really relaxing.

Here’s a few pictures of the afternoon.

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Sawtry Splurge

Sawtry Splurge

So the good lady wife said it was OK if I had a day out caching on the condition that a) she could still do parkrun and b) some unspecified form of repayment at some unspecified future date, all off which sounded fine to me. Anyway, the ladies of the house were all off to have their hair done – an activity which has long since been unnecessary for myself – and Ami was off to a friend’s house for tea. So I’d probably have spent most of the day on my own anyway.

I arranged to pick out Wavvy just after Parkrun and we made some plans to go hit a bit more of the Peterborough area, home of the UK’s densest caching zone. Much like the last time I went to Peterborough with Wavvy, the weather could best be described as “inclement” when we set off – all horizontal rain and near-zero temperatures. Nice. Why do we do this?

Our target area was Sawtry, a small village not far off the A1 and home to a couple of series. I had planned this as a “numbers” day, thinking that 9 hours free with a 40 minutes drive each way might mean about 40 caches at a push. We left MK at 10 and Wavvy needed to be home at 7, so whilst not exactly running to a tight schedule, it equally wasn’t going to be a “full” day out.

Wavvy had come armed with some cunning in-car GPS thingy and a laptop, so he was able to talk me into a good parking space interactively. This turned out to be an as yet unopened access to an industrial park, on a roundabout. Well out of the way on a Saturday lunchtime.

We were aiming at the Sawtry Fen Fumble – a circuit of 26 caches with a couple of add-ons over a course of under 4 miles. A good density for the UK. And whilst the caches themselves weren’t that inspiring (all 35mm film pots), the walk would be quite nice on a summer day. Just a shame it was cold wet and windy this day. Suffering for the sport again.

However, on a numbers day, it proved to be a great place to start. We started off just before 11 and were back at the car at 1 pm having already bagged 29 finds and no DNF’s. OK, one was a replacement, but nevertheless.

So all of a sudden the idea of 40 or so looked vanishingly small, and while we sat on the tailgate having lunch the estimates were going up rapidly. Just how to achieve it!

The chosen plan was to drive down the old A1 picking up bits of the MWM series, and the Woodwalton Walkies series by car. As it happens, we strayed over into the Wennington Walkies series a bit as well.

And so it turned out. We drove over to Wennington and then back around to Woodwalton. By the end of the day we’d done 75 caches in total and it was my new PB for caches found in a single day.

The caches we found on the day were:

MK Spring Half 2013

MK Spring Half 2013

MK Half day, and once again it’s freezing. Same as last year only without the rain.

Also this year, it’s without me. I entered, but have been struggling with breathing for a few weeks and couldn’t face the pain.

Kas went for it though. Ooooh, did she ever go for it ?

So I was “logistics support” and “photographer” for the morning while Kas went off to do the doings.

I managed to stave off the cold for much off it by being invited in for a sneaky coffee at Gillian’s mum’s house in Woolstone, right next to the official DLRR cheering point at the Cross Keys. Can’t be bad.

Kas made a PB by about 3 minutes.

Blimey was it cold ?

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MK Parkrun

MK Parkrun

I took my new (ish) camera down to MK parkrun this morning. I’m still not running ‘cos I still haven’t sorted my breathing after the cold I caught 3 weeks ago, and Kas was helping with registration ‘cos she’s running a half marathon tomorrow.

So I got a few nice photos at the start but then tried to be clever and use the “sports predictive-focus” mode for the others, which resulted in every single one being blurred. Guess that’s not the right option.

Anyway, here are the photos I did manage to capture.

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