The Sketch

The day after returning from two weeks in Crete I was off again for the annual UK Mega Event. This year’s event was being held in Uttoxeter but was branded as the “West Midlands” event. Well, I guess Uttoxeter is in the West Midlands, so time I moved on with the action. The Event Team had released a few days earlier a big series of puzzles out in the countryside. They were called the Knotty Problems. They are a series of varied puzzles amounting to 69 caches in total. They’re spread across more or less of a linear route to the south-west of Uttoxeter.

Getting Going

As the planned series was accessible by car I searched for an in-car companion to do the doings. I don’t like doing drive-bys alone when in the countryside, because there’s too much scope for getting in someone’s way. So the offer was made on Facebook while we were in Crete. Simply Paul volunteered to ride shotgun, so the deal was done. I arranged to meet him on the event site at 10am.

Uttoxeter is maybe 90 minutes drive from home, which meant getting out quite early. As ever though, when a caching day is promised I couldn’t really sleep. I got up early enough to wash my car and still get out of the house before 7am.

My normal routine was disrupted a little by the fact that the nearest fuel stop was shut for maintenance. I therefore had to drive up to Northampton Services to make my stop for fuel, drinks and snacks.

It was obvious that I was going to arrive way early.  I texted Paul from Northampton to ask if he could make it an hour earlier than planned. It wouldn’t have bothered me if he couldn’t make it though, to be honest. I’d never cached up here so I could easily keep myself busy, but Paul responded in the positive.

Off with the Knotty

The Knotty Problems started a bit to the south-west of town. There were a couple just off a main road (a very busy one) and then the rest were along quiet country lanes. We began at #67. which was in a layby on the main road, and then picked our way down to #68. Near here there were a few other caches and one stage of an Ad Labs series the mega event had created. One of the caches here was a “Chirp” and whilke we were parked up figuring it out we bumped into the DoBunnis.

Just down from here there was a kids open farm sort of place and we took the opportunity for a service break. We legged it from their car park out to grab Knotty #1 and then got back in the car to attack the main series.

Most of the Knotty Problems were quite easy finds and were close to somewhere the car could be parked off the road. We were moving at high speed through these and despite passing several other groups of cachers we didn’t really stop or take any breaks. There was one moment where I nearly got totalled by a massive tractor though. Even after I backed up and got off the road a bit he didn’t exactly pick his way passed delicately. I had visions of going to pick a wing mirror up off the road, but thankfully he missed me by all of 15cm.

For Your Information

When we finished the Knotty Problems it was only just after midday. We were planning to attend an event back in Uttoxeter at 2:30pm, so we had an hour and a half or so to kill. We spent it wandering around a manicured public park on the west side of Uttoxeter finding four caches form the FYI series. These are usually short offset multis based on information boards found in various public places.

While we were here we bumped into another pair of cachers, and we sat for a while with them whilst eating an ice cream.

I just don’t know what to do with myself

The event was based around circus skills, which I wasn’t really interested in, so I signed the log and moved on. I had a quick look around the event site to see if there were any cachers I know around, but I couldn’t see anyone. So I wasn’t quite sure what to do.

There was a series of walkable caches available from the event site but I wasn’t really up for that. There were also a number of caches and Ad Labs in the centre of Uttoxeter. I’d sort of agreed to do those with Candleford at some point so I plumped for doing the shortest walk available from the event site. Obviously, I could have given up and gone to my hotel. But it was only 3:30. It seemed a bit of a waste to give up so early, even if I had been out of the house for 8 hours already.

So I strolled off in a slightly grumpy, Billy No Mates kind of way. The walk initially took me towards the centre of Uttoxeter. And then one of those moments of minor salvation that sometimes happens. As I was walking up the road, Candleford appeared in her car just coming back from somewhere. She was with two Sussex cachers that she’d spent some of the morning with. They were Steve of Church Micro fame, and Andy The Long Man.

So with half a sniff of an alternate plan I was happy to ditch the long walk and instead go into Uttoxeter to grab a handful of caches and a 10-stage Ad Lab. There was supposedly another set of labs too that had disappeared overnight for some reason. That made for about 17 finds in under an hour, and was enough for this part of the day.

Hotel Time

I was staying at the Boar’s Head in Sudbury. It didn’t look much from the outside and it turned out that the hotel rooms were fairly average. They weren’t bad, they were just a bit dated. However, the same could not be said of their restaurant. The food was wonderfully good.

Candleford was staying in the same place, but she was scooting back out to an evening event which I didn’t have the energy for. So I sat in the bar with my PC creating caching logs and drinking a couple of beers.

I managed to really mess up the automated logging of caches from GSAK. I somehow messed up the template. As a result I had to go back and manually edit 96 of them. That took a while. Just as well I had nice beers and food to keep me company.

I finally jacked it in at around 10:30, having logged 109 finds in the day.