Every year there is an “official” UK Mega geocaching event. The Lincolnshire Mega is this year’s iteration, and was to be held at the Lincolnshire Showground. A lot of cachers go and camp for a few days at the UK Mega. This group was enticed this year by the annual Piratemania event being held the weekend before and within 10 miles. So some went up for two weekends, with a change of location halfway through. I didn’t. I’m not a camping fan, and anyway I only wanted to take one day off work.
I’d arranged to spend the Friday and Saturday nights at my brother’s place in Southwell, which is only about 40 minutes from the event site. A few days beforehand though, I decided I’d like to get an early start on the Friday, so I booked a cheap(ish) hotel in the centre of Lincoln just for the Thursday night. That meant leaving home as soon as I finished work on Thursday. Lincoln is about 2 hours drive from home.
The car park at the hotel caused some swearing because it had online payments. The website told me I couldn’t book a space for “now” because it was full (it was actually half empty). The telephone service was useless because I don’t know how to type a registration number on a phone keypad. Eventually, after wasting ages, I decided to go and ask for help in the hotel. Whereupon I spotted the “old skool” card payment machine next to the hotel entrance. D’oh!
Anyway, I managed to get checked in to the hotel eventually. I had a huge 20 minutes to get back downstairs to order food before they shut the restaurant. I sat eating a substantial burger and drinking a beer or two whilst watching it rain cats and dogs. My mind turned to how much caching we’d get done on Friday if the rain stayed. The weather forecast said the rain was set in for the weekend.
Friday Caching in Lincoln
Friday morning still looked a bit damp. The hotel supplied a substantial breakfast, which was most welcome. Which left me a while to pack the car and wait for Pesh to arrive. I’d arranged to meet him to cache in Lincoln on Friday. While I was waiting I walked off to find a couple of caches. One wasn’t there. The other was on the tank memorial, right outside the hotel.
The sketch for Friday was to work our way around Lincoln. There are six sets of Adventure Labs in the centre. Plus we could do any other caches that we passed. Once this was done, the plans were unformed.
Pesh was a bit later than we’d arranged, but we eventually got off some time between 10 and 10:30. My hotel was at the bottom of the big hill, and there was one set of Labs that required you to walk up the hill (and do the points in sequence), so we started with that series.
There was a flashmob event outside Lincoln Cathedral late in the morning, so that set our time window for the morning caching. We managed to get most of the caches to the east of the central “uphill” bit. At the event it was my first opportunity to meet up with old caching friends that I hadn’t seen for months.
After the event there was another set of Ad Labs in the “uphill” area that had to be done in sequence. The last of these was closest to the cathedral, so it was a bit of a hack to get them right. I also discovered the pain of trying to run multiple Ad Labs series concurrently. It’s hard to remember which points are where, and which series to have open in the app at any given time. I’ve solved that now by creating laminated QR codes for each target series so I can just open the Ad Labs app when I need it.
There was very little sign of the promised rain. We had one 15 minute shower at about midday and another an hour later, but the rest of the time it was quite bright. I wore sunglasses most of the day. Fair enough when it did rain, it rained hard, but it didn’t rain for long.
Our route took us on an anti-clockwise loop to the north of the cathedral and around to Lincoln Castle. We didn’t linger there though, because time was moving on and Pesh wanted to get out to the Cache-In-Trash-Out event mid-afternoon.
There was some delay searching for a solved wherigo when it turned out that the final zone of the wherigo is not the same place as the cache location. That took a while, but we got there eventually. We finished off in the town centre by walking down Steep Hill to Brayford Pool.
Heading for the Hills
I wasn’t bothered about going to the CITO event, but I was quite keen to do a load more caches. There was a big series of 81 challenge caches out to the south-east. I’d reviewed them and confirmed that I qualified for nearly all of them. They were notionally set up as drive-bys, so that seemed like good news after a busy morning of walking.
In practice, the parking wasn’t great at most of them and there were lots of other cachers around. It was slow going and I missed a few. I eventually found 30 more caches, of which 25 were from the Challenge series. At this point, I basically got bored and decided it was time for the evening to begin. I stopped at an earthcache on the Lincoln Edge on the way past. By the time I stopped caching I’d made 81 finds, which counts as a decent day.
Homeward Bound, Sort of
The drive over to Southwell was uneventful apart from having the strange feeling that everything has got smaller since I was young. Maybe it’s just that both me and my car are somewhat larger. Anyway, it always feels to me that things have got smaller than I remember them as a kid. The roads, the houses, the whole town, whatever. So driving into Southwell felt a bit peculiar at first.
I wasn’t sure whether my bro would be home yet, so I pulled into the nearest car park and checked my phone, which had been charging in the car for a while after getting drained right down to the last electron whilst doing all those Adventure Labs earlier. Anyway, he’d texted a while back to say he was home already, so I was able to pull off the car park and head into his flat. He has gated entry, and I didn’t have a doo-dad to open it.
I hadn’t seen my brother in ages (in fact, I can’t even remember when it was), so it was good to catch up for a bit. I got showered and changed quickly so we could head off out for a couple of beers and a curry.
Be Careful Not to Drink Too Much
As I’d been out caching all day the beers disappeared rather quickly. Rather more quickly than I could have done with, if truth be told.
But back at the plot, the conversation turned to the weather. Not because of that particular English obsession, but for the more practical reason of how it might affect Saturday’s plans. I was due to be caching all day, and as I was “in the zone” I was going to the event regardless. Bro had got tickets for the Test Match at Trent Bridge, and the weather forecast was that there’d basically be no play at all. When he goes to the cricket he likes to avail himself of the onsite hospitality, and that is incompatible with driving there (or with driving home, anyway). So he normally gets a taxi. How lucky did he feel about paying for a taxi both ways if the weather forecast was a 90% chance of no play at all? So while we were in the pub he cancelled the taxi and decided not to go.
While I was in the pub, I met a few of the bro’s friends. I’m sure I’ve met some of them before, but so long ago that I couldn’t remember. I also consumed too much beer. By the time it was curry o’clock I was in need of a change of scenery. One of the bro’s friends came across with us. One who was also supposed to have been going to the cricket in the taxi.
The food in the Indian was good, but they don’t do dhansak like my local does 🙂
Saturday is Event Day
I woke up on Saturday morning with a stinking hangover (it serves me right). It was much earlier than I really wanted. I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep and the bro was still in bed, so I decided to go for a walk around Southwell to grab a few caches. There were about a dozen on the radar that I reckoned I could find in an hour or so. It’s not that big a place. The morning was quite bright and there was no sign of the predicted rain. In fact, it was gorgeous, and the cool morning air did wonders for my head.
By the time I got back, bro was out of bed and offered me a bacon sandwich, which I was powerless to resist. All of this happened prior to 9 am. I really did wake up far too early.
I left shortly afterwards and found myself at the Lincolnshire Showground about 20 minutes before the event formally started. Spot on, I’d say.
My first order of business was to find a coffee. The second order of business was to go and find the Beds, Bucks & Herts caming group, otherwise known as “Team Cake” during mega event week. They’re easy to spot if you know your English county flags. Anyway, Pesh was there too, and his caravan was surrounded by massive rainbow flags. That made it kind of easy to navigate to them. Most of Team Cake were in residence that early in the morning, so having coffee, some washing up after breakfast, and some having just returned from parkrun. So I sat and nattered for a while until the event site was properly open.
The Actual Event
Inside the event there was the usual array of geocaching supplies traders and caching knick-knacks. There was an “official” Signal the Frog banner, which allows you to gain a very rare locationless cache by posting a photo of yourself next to it. I collected my supporters pack from the team and promptly gave them a load more money for geocoins because there were extra designs that weren’t included in my pack already. In the traders’ hall there was a set of 10 adventure labs that required you to visit stalls and (somehow) obtain a password. Those took a while, but partly because I kept spending more money on geocoins.
Once I’d done all the ad labs indoors and chatted to a few old friends it was time to go and wander around the site to do all the daytime adventures. There were another two sets of ten, one on the theme of bears, and one on a theme of birds. I got all of the birds but somehow failed to log the tenth bear, so now I have a set on my profile that will remain forever unfinished. D’oh!
I was toying with how to spend my afternoon. Some fellow Team Cakers advised they’d done the new Lincolnshire Legends series of traditional caches that were close to the event site, and it had taken them about 3-4 hours. That sounded like a good use of time, so I set off across the extensive car parks to find a way out.
The Great and the Good
It was a mainly very easy series. At the start I caught up with a guy from London who was doing the first few. Then about halfway round I caught up with TonyDev, who’d started partway around. We walked together until we were joined a couple of others that he knew, and we made a team of four for the rest of the route. With four of us it was quick going.
It’s fair to say that the weather all day was a lot better than predicted. In fact, whilst it was a bit breezy, it was sunny most of the time and I got sunburnt. There was one shower that lasted about 10 minutes. If bro had gone to the cricket he’d have seen more or less a full day.
By the time I got back to the event site it was all packing up, so I said a quick goodbye to the BBH crew and headed off back to bro’s house. He was at home watching the Rugby Test Match between the Lions and the Springboks. I arrived just around half time. He already had a selection of food in the house that was good to eat whilst watching a sporting event, so we were sorted.
In the evening, because bro had already shifted a few beers and I’d had a long walk, we couldn’t really be bothered to go out. We stayed in and I typed up all my caching logs whilst drinking a couple more beers and watching baseball on the telly. I’d found another 85 caches during the course of the day, so I reckoned that was enough.
On Sunday I’d promised my parents I’d go see them for lunch. The ladies of the house weren’t coming up because Kas had some stuff to do during the day, so the folks arranged to go out for lunch in Tamworth at an Italian restaurant they fancied trying.
Before I left I took the opportunity to find a few more caches in Southwell. I had a change of clothes handy so I wasn’t bothered if I got a bit mucky caching in the morning. I could always shower when I got to their house, if I needed.
After four caches in and around Southwell I set the car sat nav going. It took me a rather creative route around the outside of Nottingham, but I was happy with that as it can be difficult to follow when you’re in a town anyway.
Once at the folks’ house we had a short elevenses break before setting off for Tamworth. The restaurant was an Italian that they’d been eyeing up for a while. It was nice. There was some mucking about trying to find car parks, but that’s not the restaurant’s fault.
In the final reckoning I’d found 170 caches over the weekend, which is somewhat more than I was expecting. They are shown in the maps below.