Austrey Amble

Austrey Amble

So the second May Bank Holiday and we were up at my folks’ house in Measham for a couple of days while Kas hacked through a bit of work at home. On one of those days the kids and the parents decided they were off to Tamworth for a bit of shopping, so I thought I’d have a go at a new series of caches around the corner from their house in Austrey. It looked like it could be done fairly easily in a “long” morning, so I set off fairly early in the morning and promised to meet them in Tamworth when I’d finished.

It was an interesting series of caches, to be honest, with some challenges and interesting terrain, and it passed through a couple of beautiful little villages, Austrey and Newton Regis.

One highlight was returning via the big arched bridge over the M42 that is our usual marker for being “nearly there” when we drive up this way. I didn’t find the cache that was supposed to be there, and it was surprising to see that this fairly big bridge just carries a farm track over the motorway, but it was a long way down from the top.

I remember it being fairly warm during the walk and, of course, I’d totally failed to take drinks or snacks with me. I was therefore very ready for a drink and some lunch once I packed up and went to Tamworth to meet the older and younger members of the family.

The caches I found on the day were :

Ami’s Class Assembly

Ami’s Class Assembly

It was a class assembly.

Ami was playing an ancient Egyptian priest, so she got to wear a big shaggy wig and some nice eye makeup.

As you can see from the pictures, the wig actually suited me and Izzy as well.

I haven’t had that much hair since I was a greasy, head-banging, walnut-leather-jacket wearing student in the mid-80’s.

Nice !

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The Giddings

The Giddings

This weekend I originally planned a trip to a caching event in Oundle on Sunday, which the good lady wife said would be OK, but I then noticed I had a “Matrix” day on Saturday and not on Sunday, so I revised plans a bit.

I’ve spent a chunk of the week persuading Ami she wanted to come on a numbers day with me and by Thursday she was suitably warmed up to the idea. Just a question of where to go, really.  Up near Oundle there’s an 8 mile circuit with 53 caches, which might have been fine except we’d need to have left home really early (Sunday) to make sure we got round in time and still make it to the event. But going on Saturday instead of Sunday meant we had the whole range of UK caches to have a go at, most of which, to be honest, are quite close to Peterborough courtesy of three cachers called Poshrule,  IzaakWilson and MarcusMaximi.

Having had a look around, and with some judicious use of for distance estimation, I plumped for the 10km, 45 cache “Giddings and Back” series, with an option for a 5km, 24 cache extension around “Another Gidding Gander” – I know Ami has the legs for that kind of distance because she’s done it before.

So we did our usual trip to Parkrun on Saturday morning but we nicked Kas’s marshalling slot and forced her to do the run – I made my knee ache on Thursday night and Ami would struggle with energy later on – so not a good idea for either of us to be doing a run first thing. Then we were off, having had a decent breakfast (as ever) at Cafe 146 and being suitably tooled up with a heap of snacks, drinks and caching paraphernalia.

The drive up was what you would expect. It involved roads. And driving. Now they have completed the A421 dual carriageway all the way from the M1 to St Neots it takes remarkably little time to get up into the “just south of Peterborough” area, so a lot less driving than there used to be.

On parking up in Great Gidding the first call, as ever, was to find a toilet. We parked up over the road from the only pub, making the assumption that like at home, all pubs are open all day from breakfast onwards. This one wasn’t, but the nice ladies in the kitchen let us go in to use the toilet.

And then back off down the main road for a bit of caching. The planned circuit had 40 caches, with an option on 4 Church Micros plus the “corner” off another circuit. We originally had in mind a little extension around the “Another Gidding Gander” loop too, but once we set off it became quickly clear to me that we weren’t going to have the time. Progress over the first 10 or so caches was quite slow, thanks to lots of photo taking, a couple of quite slow searches, and adapting ourselves to the weather conditions. The forecast said it was going to be mainly dry with the chance of a few showers, which is what it was, but it was also windy, and debatable whether a coat was needed, either for warmth or dryness. We left coats in the car, which I think was the right choice as we only had big heavy winter ones with us.

As we worked our way through the series we got progressively faster, with the first 10 taking 70 minutes, the next 60, the next 50 and the last 45.

The countryside around here is very gently rolling hills and our route was mainly quite flat. It’s quite pretty in an English-countryside way, and it was better than some walks I’ve done in that there was an absence of local fly-tipping haunts and general filth. Excellent. There also weren’t any fields with inquisitive or unpleasant animals in. Nor their droppings.

Most of the caches were very straightforward, as they tend to be in this area, and we only missed one out of 45 attempts. I managed to drop a bunch of TBs I acquired at an event in Aylesbury last week, but only found one other to pick up. Never mind. It’s a travelling dog that wants to go to as many places as possible, so next week it can go to Blackpool with me. Bet it’s never been there before.

When we’d done all that lot we needed another toilet stop, but this time there was no sign of anyone at the pub (despite being 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon) so we had to drive somewhere else.  We were still harbouring thoughts of doing a few more (maybe a few drive-bys to get Ami’s total near to 500), so we didn’t want to waste too much time. We tried a nearby Zoo / Wildlife Park as the next closest viable opportunity but they wanted us to pay the full entrance fee just to use the toilets. No way. Not paying £16 for a wee, so I’m afraid it was a quick trip behind the bushes over the road. It’s times like that when you appreciate the relative convenience of living in or near a town. You’re rarely far from a khazi when you’re in town.

After this, with time marching on and Ami looking a bit done in, I suggested we just give up and go home rather than staying out, even though Kas said she’d have been happy with us gone all day. Ami was very ready to jack it in, so with 44 finds out of 45 we decided we’d had enough and we went home. Ami fell asleep before we got back onto the A14 and stayed that way until we were in Milton Keynes, so she wasn’t much company on the ride home, but at least when we got there she was perked up ready for going out again later. She did well. I had my Garmin GPS watch on and I measured the walk at 12km. That’s quite a lot over rough ground for a nine-year-old.

Whereupon we had baths/showers and then all four of us scooted up to Pizza Hut for a diet-busting tea.

Both kids slept like a log, which was nice after the rough night we had the night before. Izzy, in fact, slept off her cold with 2 hours in bed in the afternoon, and then a full 12 hours sleep overnight.

The caches we found on the day were :

MK Marathon 2013

MK Marathon 2013

A very warm day for running – good job we were only watching.

We chose to go down to the 15 mile mark next to the Peace Pagoda, and to take a picnic with us. It was “headquarters” for the David Lloyd Redway Runners volunteer marshaling section, so we had a couple of (busy) friends down there, and it made a good spot to sit with our picnic.

It sure was warm, and as Kev was the only one to bother with suncream, he was the only one to survive unscathed. Everyone else had a bit of a colour. In fact, so did Kev, just less than it would have been without the suncream. Don’t touch the head !

A couple of things stand out from my day.

  • Most people had an excellent time at the event.
  • Some people are too bloody-minded to make any allowance.

By which, I mean, you’d have thought that the presence of a marathon event with official road closures, marshalls everywhere, and 3000 runners would be enough to make you think Willen wasn’t a great place to go if you weren’t going to watch the Marathon, but sure enough there were a load of people who got most upset at the thought they should be asked to stand off the Redway for a bit while the runners came past.

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World Wide Flash Mob X

World Wide Flash Mob X

Quack !

WWFM is an annual event in May for cachers to assemble at various locations and do something daft for 15 minutes.

In Aylesbury, the form seems to be that you turn up at a certain water feature in the middle of town and float some rubber ducks.

For us, the form was also that Kas needed some time to get a bit of work done, so me and the kids shot off for the afternoon to do a bit of caching. Well we couldn’t  just do a 15 minute event, so we went for the afternoon.

After a couple of drive-by caches we ended up in Bierton, which promised much – quite a few caches, in fact – but the reality was rather disappointing, with half of them missing or not findable or needing half a day. The highlight was my first FTF in ages on Zombie Saint.

The event was good fun though, as evidenced by the photos. We still have the ducks…….

The caches we found were :

Aerial Extreme

Aerial Extreme

The Emerson Valley Brownies went over to Willen Lake for a bit of R&R at Aerial Extreme.

Ami was, as expected, showing off her 50% monkey DNA by moving around the place really quickly, but to her credit she got stuck behind a couple of less confident kids without getting upset.

And then we had a weird discussion about whether she could go up the “big tower” (why would I stop her ?).

And so she went up. And came back down.

They finished a bit late, but thankfully Brown Owl was still there, and so were the drinks and biscuits.

We walked back to the car with Lola and her dad and I had to resist some serious pressure to buy an ice cream from the van (which wasn’t there).

Oh, and I’d dashed off and found 4 caches in the meantime, so not a bad evening all-in-all.

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