The Plan

A Sunday afternoon out just before Christmas to fill in one of the few remaining days from The Matrix. The day turned into a bit of a disaster. It resulted in me making a fairly momentous decision about my future geocaching life. I was in Ellington, in Cambridgeshire.

There were a couple of massive series over near Grafham Water called S2E2 and the Woolley Mammoth. There seemed to be a point at which the two series intersected around the village of Ellington so I decided to go and give some of them a go. I hadn’t really planned how many. I just set off thinking I’d keep going right up to the point where I’d have to start walking back to beat the darkness.

Walking and Caching

I headed south and west of Ellington in a vaguely clockwise loop and was going fine until I crossed the main road leading to Grafham village. As I crossed the road there I started getting some very strange behaviour from my iPhone, in that it kept moaning to me about low battery even though I’d been charging it from the battery pack for a while. Basically, it wasn’t happy.

At that point I’d done over 20 caches and it was mid-afternoon. So I decided the best thing to do would be to simply walk back to the car in Ellington while the phone still had enough ziggies to find my way there. The walk back was all along roads, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but there were a few caches to hand and the phone did a decent job of eeking it out to the very last second. It finally died a death just as I was approaching my final possible target for the day.

Fix My Phone

I took the phone to my local Apple store the next day. They told me that the battery in it was basically shot. It was most likely a result of being charged up too many times. They have a design life, apparently, and I’d exceeded it. I had a moan at them and played the “merchantable goods” card – i.e. the one under UK consumer law which says that for a period of up to 7 years you can get stuff replaced by the retailer if you’d have a reasonable expectation that it wouldn’t break in that time. They agreed with me but told me I’d need to contact the retailer (which was the Three phone company). To their credit, Three told me immediately to just get it fixed at the Apple store. I sent them the bill and they deducted it from my next month’s bill. That all worked fine.

The momentous decision I made was that I couldn’t afford at any point to break my phone or to get stranded somewhere without the ability to get home, so I decided to invest in a handheld GPS, both to save the battery in my phone and to ensure I was carrying a device which could easily be recharged just by stuffing in a few more AA batteries. Anyway, I didn’t actually invest much in it. It was coming up to Christmas and I hadn’t decided what I wanted at that point.

It’s always quite a big deal for me around that time. My birthday is a couple of days after Christmas, so I’m used to a) being offered money and b) getting a combined Christmas and birthday present. So in the case of this year, everybody contributed to the purchase of a spangly new Garmin Montana 650T. The rest is, as they say, history. Although given that it’s a handheld GPS, it might be more accurate to say that the rest is geography.

The caches I managed to find around Ellington before the phone gave up were: