Easy Like Sunday Caching

Kas planned to take the kids away to her mum’s for a few days to finish off their summer holiday and I was due a couple of days to go caching, having managed to worm my way into a two-day pass as a result of some good behaviour at some point.

I planned to head down into Kent to have a pop at a lot of puzzle caches all in one day. I thought if I was lucky I’d be able to manage to do 100 puzzles in one day. Yeah, I know! That’s an aggressive target, especially if you’re starting your day a hundred miles away. But not to be deterred, I left home while it was still dark and made it into Kent the fastest I have ever done. It’s funny how the M25 is fairly quiet at 5 am on a Sunday. The QEII Bridge was also kind of quiet, and a sailed through it quickly as a result of them having installed a cunning ANPR system, which means you no longer have to stop to pay a toll. You do have to remember to pay online within a certain time though, or, as I did, you have to set up an account on direct debit so they charge you whenever you cross. I’d set up an account a couple of months previously after our trips to Dover ( see Doing Dover ).

So meanwhile, back at the plot, my first target was the “Cool Cuban Spirit” series, which I started by parking in West Kingsdown and walking around in a big clockwise loop. It was quite easy aside from the three that I couldn’t find. 58 finds up in about 4.5 hours was a pretty decent start to my attempt at 100 puzzles in a day.

I then ventured into West Kingsdown village and parked up to do a bunch of Church Micros (puzzles, pre-solved) and a couple of nearby Challenge caches. Again, so far, so good.

But then in the early afternoon it all started to go a bit Pete Tong. I’d set aside whole groups of puzzles and challenges just to the west of West Kingsdown that looked like easy walks and easy finds, however I started to get bitten by the twin bugs of caches not being there, and me not being able to find them. I became increasingly grumpy at the high DNF rate and at about 5 pm I had concluded that the 100-in-a-day target was a no-hoper. There was one series of 10 or so challenges where half were either missing or too awkward to get at. Then there was another series based around the Solar System where I missed 4 or the first 7, and couldn’t be bothered to try the remaining ones.

Up to this point I’d made 80 puzzle finds and 3 random others, and whilst there was still some daylight left, the 16 DNFs I’d had on puzzles I had banked on finding now meant that I’d have to drive 30 minutes and start a whole new series to be able to get even close to the 100 target, so at that point I basically decided enough was enough, and I just drove down to my hotel for the evening. Had I found half of the ones I’d DNF’d I might well have kept going, but once it got to 6:30-7 pm I decided I didn’t have the will to try to find a further 20 puzzles. So I gave up on 83 finds, 80 of which were puzzles.

The hotel was the clean, tidy but uninspiring Campanile that sits right under the Kentish end of the QEII Bridge. At least you couldn’t hear any road noise.

Quite Close to Drowning

Monday (the August Bank Holiday) began quite wet. From there it degenerated into “exceedingly wet” around lunchtime, before starting to improve a bit towards the middle of the afternoon.

On my radar for the day I had the Assiduous series of Challenge Caches over in Scadbury Park, which proved to be a little gem – a part of south-east London I’ve never been to before. I found all of them bar one, although there’s several I’m not actually eligible for, but I’ve signed them anyway, just in case I have a day where I do multiple tree climbing or swimming caches on the same day at some point in the future.

From there I drove back up the A20 towards te M25 feeling as miserable as sin, what with me being totally soaked and rather cold. I was on the verge of going home because of the wet, so I stopped at a McDonalds to grab some lunch and phone Kas, to give me the opportunity to get warmer and drier before spending 2 hours in the car to get home. While I was there, the weather started to improve a bit and I got a second wind, so I decided I’d go attack a few more rather than just giving up.

There was a small series of mainly challenge caches that was accessible by parking in the car park at Hall Place just outside Bexley. As with the morning session, there were a couple of challenges here that I didn’t qualify for but signed them anyway, as they looked like things I might well qualify for in the future. As it happens, I do qualify now, so I converted the “Write Note” logs to finds.

After this there was a good looking series of 12 puzzles on a French theme over at Dartford Heath, so I moved the car and went for a pop at these. By this time it had actually properly stopped raining and I was feeling a bit better about the world. The caches were good fun, mainly because the heathland terrain was a bit different to everywhere else I’d been over the weekend, and I actually enjoyed these ones. I didn’t enjoy that I couldn’t find the bonus cache for the series though. Grrrrrrr!

And after all that lot, it was most definitely time to start heading home. I’d got half a mind to stop somewhere easy in Essex on the way home to colour in that county, but when I got through the tunnel on the way home I’d got nice and warm and cosy in the car and quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered to stop again.

When I gave up I’d bagged a further 37 finds (making 120 total for the two days) and have subsequently been able to convert a couple of the speculatively signed challenges into actual finds, now that I qualify for them. One of those 37 was the conversion of a challenge that I’d speculatively signed in Hampshire in 2014. It required the finding of 10 other challenges on the same day, which we’d spectacularly failed at on the day we were in Hampshire. On my two days in Kent I’d bagged 8 challenges on the first and 20 on the second. The 20 is now 22. The 8 would have been 14, had I been able to find them.

The caches I found over the course of the weekend were :