Greenway Gallivant

Greenway Gallivant

The teachers were on strike, so someone had to look after the kids. I did my bit by taking Ami with me to Letchworth for a bit of caching on our bikes.

Letchworth has a cycling route called the Letchworth Greenway running all the way around its outside, and someone went to the trouble of setting a series of caches all the way around. There were quite a lot of them.

Anyway, Ami and I packed our bikes into the back of the cache mobile fairly early in the day and drove over for a bit of an adventure. I’d recently bought a handlebar mount for my GPS so that I could navigate and cycle at the same time.

It was a cold day, but more of that later.

The first few caches seemed to be in the housing estates rather than around the outside of town. They weren’t actually on the Greenway Gallivant series, which probably explains why they weren’t on the Greenway. After the first 10 or so we got out into the countryside and started to motor a little bit. Most of the caches were close enough to the Greenway that I didn’t need to take the GPS off the mount. It was a question of simply riding as close as I could get, reading the hint, and getting off the bike to pick up the cache. This was made even easier by the fact that both of us had stands on our bike, so we didn’t even have to find any conveniently placed railings, trees or other props to rest the bikes against. For quite a few of the caches only one of us got off their bike at all.

We rode round the south side of town, going around the Greenway in an anticlockwise direction, and the going was remarkably good until we were pretty much halfway around. We weren’t finding caches any faster than normal, but we weren’t getting tired doing it.

We even had time at about one third distance to cycle off the Greenway and up to a local shopping centre to buy some snacks and to find a toilet.

There’s a point at halfway where the Greenway comes back into the edge of town, squeezed in between the town and the A1. Just after this point, the Greenway branches out into the countryside again, and it was at this point that the weather turned against us. By that, I mean it started to snow big, wet, heavy snowflakes. We were getting quite cold and quite wet. By this time we’d made 60 finds though, which is not bad for the time of year, so Ami looked at me, and I looked at Ami, and we decided we’d had enough. The unfortunate part was that we were at the exact opposite side of town from where we’d parked, so we still had quite a way to go on the bikes and had to ride all the way through the centre of town. I guess we could have just gone straight back around he Greenway again, but we decided to go through town instead.

Not long before we arrived back at the car there was an unfortunate incident involving some uneven kerbs on the path, where Ami thought she was OK, but ended up dropping off into some soft grass and suddenly finding a significant difference in speed between herself and her bike. Onto the floor it was, then. Thankfully though, she wasn’t really hurt other than her pride, and she got pretty much straight back on so we could cycle back to the car and set off home.

While sitting in the car we counted up the caches we’d found and I counted 59, so we decided we couldn’t possibly finish on 59 – that’s an amateur’s number – so we stopped off in Henlow to do the church micro there.

When I got home and started typing up the logs I realised I’d miscounted and we’d already done 60 when we were sitting in the car, so we needn’t have stopped, but by then the snow had stopped and the sun had come out, so it wasn’t an unpleasant 5 minutes.

The caches we found were :

Oh Simple Thing

Oh Simple Thing

Ami’s been singing a certain well known song written by Keane and covered by Lily Allen for several weeks now, because it’s going to be included in the school assembly her class will be doing at some point this year, along with Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida

Whilst watching my geocaching inbox through February I kept noticing new caches pop up near Northampton which are titled by lyrics from the Keane song. One or two of them were coming up every day, so I was keeping an eye out and trying to figure out how many more would be coming, and when.

On a subsequent day out I made an idle comment to a friend about waiting for them all to come out before going to find them, and he told me that the cache owner is someone that he knows (although presumably not someone that only he knows), and that as there are 28 days in February, and 28 lines in the song lyrics, it should be plain when they’re all released.

And so it proved. By the 1st of March there were 28 caches. I solved the two of them that are puzzles, and I traced the complete route on a map by going from one lyric line to the next. About 5-6 miles round, with 30-32 caches, and hence a nice little afternoon out. Or so went the theory.

Now, at this point in one of my blog posts, I’d be getting into some long rambling stuff about what we did on our day out and how it all went, but in this instance it might be more fun to rewrite the lyrics of the song using the names of the caches we actually found, in the order we found them, and ignoring the ones we didn’t. We started off trying to sing the relevant lyric line each time we found one. By the time we reached “pub o’clock” halfway round we’d sort of lost track a bit.

If you know the song well enough you’ll notice there’s a few lines missing from our version (3 we couldn’t find, 1 we just missed) and some others are out of order. But we made up the difference by chucking in a few caches from other series. The end result was a good afternoon’s caching for a sunny, breezy Saturday in March, although it took muck longer than I anticipated, and a few of the caches were, in my opinion, somewhat more difficult than their rating might suggest.

Somewhere Only Cachers Go

Roade Rail – THE END
M1 J15: Trainspotting
I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting tired and I need someone to rely on

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?

And if you have a minute why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
So why don’t we go
Somewhere only we know
Somewhere only we know

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need someone to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute why don’t we go
Somewhere only we know?
Keep to the Path
‘Cause this could be the end of everything,
So why don’t we go
Fox’s Trail Series – 1
Fox’s Trail Series – 0.5

* 2014 Remixed Lyrics by Kevin and Ami Gardner based on Geocaches by Burncache and others.

** Although, to be honest, I think Keane’s version scans a bit better than ours.

*** Good job he didn’t do the Katy Perry song instead – there’s twice as many lyric lines, so we’d never have finished them in an afternoon.

Church Pilgrimage

Church Pilgrimage

Apparently one should go to church on a Sunday. I’m not sure if it counts when you go to 7 different churches and all you do when you get there is to look for tupperware, but I guess sometimes caching takes faith. So me and Izzy decided we’d spend an otherwise boring but quite sunny afternoon making our way around some new CMs that our good caching buddy BingBongLong had placed around the north side of Milton Keynes.

We dashed round the following ones :

Reading Half 2014

Reading Half 2014

As part of her entry into the Virgin London Marathon that Kas won with Lucozade Sport they gave her entry into a couple of other half marathons (as training runs, I suppose). One was in Brighton. The second was going to be at Silverstone, but that was already full and they got her a place at Reading instead. As it happens, I think Reading was the better deal.

Reading isn’t exactly close to our house, though, and Kas needed to be there at some uncomfortably early time of the morning, so we decided we’d try to grab a Premier Inn nearby. The closest sensible one was in Bracknell, which was only a few miles away from the race. We rolled up there on the Saturday night and discovered that (this time) we’d have plenty of time to get breakfast in the hotel before leaving. There was also the small matter of finding a Zizzi’s for dinner. The closest was a few miles away in Wokingham, but it was close enough. This is becoming a bit of a habit.

Back at the plot, we parked in our designated parking location, which was some distance away on the office site of a large commercial organisation. So we had a 10 minute bus ride back again before then having to mooch about through lots of traffic to find where Kas was supposed to be checking in. The race centre was up at the Madejski Stadium. One of the attractions of this particular race is the big stadium finish. They have several thousand entrants, and I guess the stadium is the best place to host all the friends and families that want to come and support the runners.

The start of the race seemed an unreasonably large distance away from the stadium, so the girls and I left Kas to it and went off to grab a few nearby geocaches, like you do. We found three in total.

We also spent ages waiting by the side of a road that I thought was the outbound route for the runners. Some time later when I saw thousands of people streaming across a roundabout 500 yards away I realised that we were standing at the inbound route, so no-one was coming here for ages. D’oh ! Must read the map next time. At least where we were standing there was a steel band playing away to keep us entertained through the relative cold.

So from there we plodged back towards the stadium, having suitably missed Kas’s start. We made a dodgy dash between the waves of runners and proceeded to the car park of a nearby DIY store (who’s name rhymes with Wee and Poo) for another cache before retiring to the stadium for mid-morning snacks and to wait for Kas.

In the event, waiting in the stadium was OK and the kids seemed quite happy. And Kas finished in a new PB of around 1.48, despite the course being “somewhat more hilly” than advertised.

Grabbing the bags was easy, getting the bus back to the car was easy, and getting out of Reading was also easy.

From there we drove up to Henley round to see Kas’s old work friend Sarah, who lives there now with her husband and two boys. She’d done us some very nice lunch, which hit the spot nicely.