Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat

Start Me Up



Royal Mile

Royal Mile

Start Me Up



New Town

New Town

Let the Fun Begin

Well, technically it began yesterday, I guess, but that was a whole day spent in the car, so I’m not going to talk about it. So today was the first day of the actual holidaying. My plan was to mooch around the New Town finding as many geocaches as I could. The kids had decided they were going shopping. They had money, so I was happy to leave them to it.

We were staying at a Premier Inn on York Place, at the west end of the New Town. I picked that mainly because it was reasonably close to a secure covered car park. None of the hotels in central Edinburgh have their own car park and I like a nice secure one. So I was parked in the Q-Park OMNI. It’s underground and has entrance doors that require a parking ticket. Plus it has security cameras inside.

In the Morning

I hadn’t pre-paid for breakfast. I’d intended we try a few different places. As Edinburgh is a capital city, it has a wealth of options. On this first morning though, we just went for the Premier Inn Full Monty. It’s always a good start to a day.

By the way, as a side-note for this whole holiday, you will have to forgive me if I drift off into nostalgia for times passed. In 1990 through to 1992 I lived in the middle of Edinburgh. Whilst I’d made a couple of flying visits since then, I had forgotten much of it. What I found, and maybe it’s a function of being older or that my eyes have changed, but everything seemed and felt smaller than I remembered. But at various points I am sure I will wander off topic a bit. Well, even more than I normally do.

The East End

In the whole time I lived in Edinburgh I don’t remember ever going up Calton Hill at the east end of Princes Street. That clearly was a situation that needed to be addressed. So for my first stretch of geocaching I split from the kids on St Andrew Square and walked down to the Scott Monument. From there I turned east along Princes Street. It was a particularly indirect route towards Calton Hill though.

After a few caches at the Scott Monument I then got very literally sidetracked with a set of labs in Waverley Station.

Back on Princes Street I continued eastwards, picking up more caches at practically ever building I walked by. I don’t ever remember walking further out than the North Bridge either, when I lived in town. I passed the old Scottish Government building, the somewhat dilapidated Old Royal High School and the Burns Monument. It was a nice warm spring day and the light was great. From this part of the road there’s a fantastic view across to Arthur’s Seat and down onto Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament building. I was ticking off the tourist sites pretty quickly, albeit from a distance.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill sits above the east end of Princes Street and commands a fine view all around the city and across the river to Fife. The hilltop is covered in monuments and an observatory. I’m not going to describe those though, because they’re all on the wikipedia page. But there’s a bit of a confusion of things on top of the hill which you can’t really see from street level. As it was a Friday and a Bank Holiday at the start of Easter, it was really busy up there too, which is just as well, because on reading the wikipedia page I just discovered that the hilltop has a bit of a reputation.

But anyway, I found pretty much all of the geocaches up there except for one stage of a multi (which I guessed, correctly, and found later). It had ticked round to lunchtime and while I was up there I received a call from Daughterus Minimus. So I agreed I’d go meet them back at the Scott Monument and find somewhere for lunch.

A Bit of a Break

We wandered back eastwards again looking for somewhere to get lunch. We spotted the Society Bar and Kitchen on the corner of Leith Street, Waterloo Place and Princes Street. It was busy but they said they could seat us in 30 minutes or so. We ummmmmed and ahhhhhed a bit and then talked them up to 40 minutes, which would give us time to dash back to the hotel and drop off the very many shopping bags that the kids had acquired during the morning. They’d obviously been busy. Lunch was “well nice”, as they say in the vernacular.

Moving On

It clearly wasn’t acceptable for me to stop caching just yet, so I wandered off in a westerly direction to go visit the far end of Princes Street Gardens and around the back of the castle. I did this by wandering through the heart of the New Town, along Thistle Street and George Street for a while before cutting through to Rose Street and Charlotte Square before arriving at the old Caledonian Hotel.

That was a bit of nostalgia right there. Rose Street, in particular, was a favourite haunt when I lived in the city because of it’s mix of excellent restaurants and small boutique shops. I took the opportunity while I was on Rose Street to check out a couple of restaurants. It was Easter weekend so we weren’t 100% sure who would be open and when. That was quickly fixed by asking at a couple of places. In general, yes, everywhere was open all weekend. Some were booked on certain nights. In the end, though, we never quite made it up here for dinner.

Princes Street Gardens

My travels took me along the Lothian Road for a bit and then off along Castle Terrace and a loop back around the Usher Hall. I was mainly working on multiple sets of adventure labs, but there were a few odds of other things thrown in. All were easy, and the weather stayed good all day. Along Castle Terrace there were two caches that earned themselves a favourite point. One was a bike lock fastened to the railings and the other was a dummy key safe. In both cases you needed to know the PIN to get in. That was part of the puzzle that needed to be solved in the cache page. Very cleverly done.

From Usher Hall I shuffled my way back across Lothian Road to get into the west end of Princes Street Gardens. Despite being quite busy, it’s still one of my favourite bits of central Edinburgh. It’s low enough down that the road noise from Princes Street isn’t too bad. And the view up to the castle is terrific.

In the gardens there were a further 8-9 caches. They were mainly labs, but also an interesting couple of earth caches and a virtual dedicated to a bear that was a corporal in the Polish Army. Really? Really! Wojtek was a hero at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Dinner Time

By the time I got back to the Scott Monument, it was well past time for giving up. I called Daughterus Minimus to advise of my whereabouts and then walked home. It turns out they’d finished with retail therapy quite early in the afternoon, and had shuffled home for a rest.

For dinner we ambled round the corner to a local Italian called Giulianos. It was busy but they managed to seat us in a few minutes. Continuing the theme for the weekend so far, the food was excellent.



Edinburgh 2024

Edinburgh 2024

Moffat 2024

May 3rd to 7th 2024

A long weekend in southern Scotland attending the Caledonian Cachefest event.

The weather was suspect at best, but it’s a beautiful area and the company was great.

Cumbrian Coast

Leadhills

Moffat Dale

Kendal

Lancaster

New Town

Let the Fun Begin

Well, technically it began yesterday, I guess, but that was a whole day spent in the car, so I’m not going to talk about it. So today was the first day of the actual holidaying. My plan was to mooch around the New Town finding as many geocaches as I could. The kids had decided they were going shopping. They had money, so I was happy to leave them to it.

We were staying at a Premier Inn on York Place, at the west end of the New Town. I picked that mainly because it was reasonably close to a secure covered car park. None of the hotels in central Edinburgh have their own car park and I like a nice secure one. So I was parked in the Q-Park OMNI. It’s underground and has entrance doors that require a parking ticket. Plus it has security cameras inside.

In the Morning

I hadn’t pre-paid for breakfast. I’d intended we try a few different places. As Edinburgh is a capital city, it has a wealth of options. On this first morning though, we just went for the Premier Inn Full Monty. It’s always a good start to a day.

By the way, as a side-note for this whole holiday, you will have to forgive me if I drift off into nostalgia for times passed. In 1990 through to 1992 I lived in the middle of Edinburgh. Whilst I’d made a couple of flying visits since then, I had forgotten much of it. What I found, and maybe it’s a function of being older or that my eyes have changed, but everything seemed and felt smaller than I remembered. But at various points I am sure I will wander off topic a bit. Well, even more than I normally do.

The East End

In the whole time I lived in Edinburgh I don’t remember ever going up Calton Hill at the east end of Princes Street. That clearly was a situation that needed to be addressed. So for my first stretch of geocaching I split from the kids on St Andrew Square and walked down to the Scott Monument. From there I turned east along Princes Street. It was a particularly indirect route towards Calton Hill though.

After a few caches at the Scott Monument I then got very literally sidetracked with a set of labs in Waverley Station.

Back on Princes Street I continued eastwards, picking up more caches at practically ever building I walked by. I don’t ever remember walking further out than the North Bridge either, when I lived in town. I passed the old Scottish Government building, the somewhat dilapidated Old Royal High School and the Burns Monument. It was a nice warm spring day and the light was great. From this part of the road there’s a fantastic view across to Arthur’s Seat and down onto Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament building. I was ticking off the tourist sites pretty quickly, albeit from a distance.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill sits above the east end of Princes Street and commands a fine view all around the city and across the river to Fife. The hilltop is covered in monuments and an observatory. I’m not going to describe those though, because they’re all on the wikipedia page. But there’s a bit of a confusion of things on top of the hill which you can’t really see from street level. As it was a Friday and a Bank Holiday at the start of Easter, it was really busy up there too, which is just as well, because on reading the wikipedia page I just discovered that the hilltop has a bit of a reputation.

But anyway, I found pretty much all of the geocaches up there except for one stage of a multi (which I guessed, correctly, and found later). It had ticked round to lunchtime and while I was up there I received a call from Daughterus Minimus. So I agreed I’d go meet them back at the Scott Monument and find somewhere for lunch.

A Bit of a Break

We wandered back eastwards again looking for somewhere to get lunch. We spotted the Society Bar and Kitchen on the corner of Leith Street, Waterloo Place and Princes Street. It was busy but they said they could seat us in 30 minutes or so. We ummmmmed and ahhhhhed a bit and then talked them up to 40 minutes, which would give us time to dash back to the hotel and drop off the very many shopping bags that the kids had acquired during the morning. They’d obviously been busy. Lunch was “well nice”, as they say in the vernacular.

Moving On

It clearly wasn’t acceptable for me to stop caching just yet, so I wandered off in a westerly direction to go visit the far end of Princes Street Gardens and around the back of the castle. I did this by wandering through the heart of the New Town, along Thistle Street and George Street for a while before cutting through to Rose Street and Charlotte Square before arriving at the old Caledonian Hotel.

That was a bit of nostalgia right there. Rose Street, in particular, was a favourite haunt when I lived in the city because of it’s mix of excellent restaurants and small boutique shops. I took the opportunity while I was on Rose Street to check out a couple of restaurants. It was Easter weekend so we weren’t 100% sure who would be open and when. That was quickly fixed by asking at a couple of places. In general, yes, everywhere was open all weekend. Some were booked on certain nights. In the end, though, we never quite made it up here for dinner.

Princes Street Gardens

My travels took me along the Lothian Road for a bit and then off along Castle Terrace and a loop back around the Usher Hall. I was mainly working on multiple sets of adventure labs, but there were a few odds of other things thrown in. All were easy, and the weather stayed good all day. Along Castle Terrace there were two caches that earned themselves a favourite point. One was a bike lock fastened to the railings and the other was a dummy key safe. In both cases you needed to know the PIN to get in. That was part of the puzzle that needed to be solved in the cache page. Very cleverly done.

From Usher Hall I shuffled my way back across Lothian Road to get into the west end of Princes Street Gardens. Despite being quite busy, it’s still one of my favourite bits of central Edinburgh. It’s low enough down that the road noise from Princes Street isn’t too bad. And the view up to the castle is terrific.

In the gardens there were a further 8-9 caches. They were mainly labs, but also an interesting couple of earth caches and a virtual dedicated to a bear that was a corporal in the Polish Army. Really? Really! Wojtek was a hero at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Dinner Time

By the time I got back to the Scott Monument, it was well past time for giving up. I called Daughterus Minimus to advise of my whereabouts and then walked home. It turns out they’d finished with retail therapy quite early in the afternoon, and had shuffled home for a rest.

For dinner we ambled round the corner to a local Italian called Giulianos. It was busy but they managed to seat us in a few minutes. Continuing the theme for the weekend so far, the food was excellent.



Royal Mile

Start Me Up



Arthur’s Seat

Start Me Up



Stockbridge

Start Me Up



Geocache Finds 2024-03-24

Geocache Finds 2024-03-24

Geocache Finds 2024-03-16

Geocache Finds 2024-03-16

2023 Caching Diary

2023 Caching Diary

Objectives

So here is my caching diary for 2023.

Where 2022 had been about numbers, lots of numbers, 2023 proved rather more restrained. Don’t get me wrong, it still had some epic days, but for different reasons.

My year began with some personal trauma that reduced my enthusiasm for a while, and during that period I was faffing about with what to do with my caching during the year. Eventually I decided that finishing of the D/T matrix would be good, so that’s kind of the only target I set.

It was also, of course, the year that the UK Mega Event came to my home town of Milton Keynes after 5 years of very meticulous planning by the committee, which had managed to keep itself going despite several changes of face and a global pandemic. So that was good.

MonthTotal FindsBlog Posts
January55Poppy's Ponderings - A trudge round an old airfield near Corby
February24
March87Nuthampstead - Legging it round three small series in Ryoland
April198Grand Union - Ladders and hooky poles up the side of the canal
London Calling - Wandering round Marylebone and Regent's Park
May64Chili Series - A full day with the hooky poles
June22
July172A family holiday in The Lake District
Piratemania - Pretending to be a pirate, but only a little bit. Kind of half-arrrrrghsed, in fact.
August201MK Mega
September179Lincoln - Keeping myself busy in Lincoln while one of the kids was occupied.
Swim Serpentine - Legging it round The Smoke whilst the Mrs was swimming it round Hyde Park
Beachamwell - Up near Downham Market again
October15308/10/23 OVT Series
21/10/23 Norwich
November8605/11/23 OVT Series
18-20/10/23 Lads Trip to Bayeux
December6802/12/23 Newport Pagnell
17/12/23 Olney
Totals1309

Summary

So there we have it, my 2023 Caching Diary. So what did I actually achieve:

  • A total of 1,309 finds
  • No new countries
  • Completion of a first lap around the Difficulty/Terrain Matrix
  • 11 days ticked off my Shifty Fifty Challenge
  • A meagre 2 days of more than 100 finds

Again, I’m calling that a satisfactory year of caching. I have no choice.

What I’ll attempt in 2024 is yet to be decided.


Geocaching 2023

Geocaching 2023

Geocaching 2023

Another year on the hunt.

I guess the main achievement of the year was that I finally finished my Difficulty/Terrain Grid for the first time.

Poppy's Ponderings

Nuthampstead

Grand Union

London Calling

Chili Series

Piratemania

Lincoln

Swim Serpentine

Beachamwell

Caching Diary 2023

Objectives

So here is my caching diary for 2023.

Where 2022 had been about numbers, lots of numbers, 2023 proved rather more restrained. Don’t get me wrong, it still had some epic days, but for different reasons.

My year began with some personal trauma that reduced my enthusiasm for a while, and during that period I was faffing about with what to do with my caching during the year. Eventually I decided that finishing of the D/T matrix would be good, so that’s kind of the only target I set.

It was also, of course, the year that the UK Mega Event came to my home town of Milton Keynes after 5 years of very meticulous planning by the committee, which had managed to keep itself going despite several changes of face and a global pandemic. So that was good.

MonthTotal FindsBlog Posts
January55Poppy's Ponderings - A trudge round an old airfield near Corby
February24
March87Nuthampstead - Legging it round three small series in Ryoland
April198Grand Union - Ladders and hooky poles up the side of the canal
London Calling - Wandering round Marylebone and Regent's Park
May64Chili Series - A full day with the hooky poles
June22
July172A family holiday in The Lake District
Piratemania - Pretending to be a pirate, but only a little bit. Kind of half-arrrrrghsed, in fact.
August201MK Mega
September179Lincoln - Keeping myself busy in Lincoln while one of the kids was occupied.
Swim Serpentine - Legging it round The Smoke whilst the Mrs was swimming it round Hyde Park
Beachamwell - Up near Downham Market again
October15308/10/23 OVT Series
21/10/23 Norwich
November8605/11/23 OVT Series
18-20/10/23 Lads Trip to Bayeux
December6802/12/23 Newport Pagnell
17/12/23 Olney
Totals1309

Summary

So there we have it, my 2023 Caching Diary. So what did I actually achieve:

  • A total of 1,309 finds
  • No new countries
  • Completion of a first lap around the Difficulty/Terrain Matrix
  • 11 days ticked off my Shifty Fifty Challenge
  • A meagre 2 days of more than 100 finds

Again, I’m calling that a satisfactory year of caching. I have no choice.

What I’ll attempt in 2024 is yet to be decided.


Poppy’s Ponderings

The Sketch

Two weeks into the year and my first “serious” day of caching. I drove over towards Corby to have a go at the Poppy’s Ponderings series. It was a day when, to be quite honest, my mind was not 100% engaged with geocaching.

It was another jaunt out with Candleford. We travelled up separately and met in the marked parking. This turned out to be (as it often is) an unpaved layby at the side of the road. Still, it was hard enough to park on and it was handy for the series.

The Series

Poppy’s Ponderings is a series of just over 40 caches spread over what I’m assuming was once an airfield. It’s flat and there’s a bunch of paved roads around what seems otherwise to be fields. That’s normally a sign of previous RAF use.

The good side of this is that most of the caches are accessible without having to stray of the hard surfaces. That’s ideal on a winter’s day in England. Low likelihood of ending up neck deep in mud.

The series, as I remember it, was decent but not special. Worthy of the drive up, because 40 something is really all that can be done this early in the year.

We met a bunch of other cachers working their way around when we were maybe 3/4 of the way through them. Don’t ask me who, though. Most were people I’d either never met, or hadn’t met often enough to associate the name with the face.

Grumpy McGrump from Grumpyville

As we were approaching the end we still had a couple of hours of daylight left and Candleford asked if I was up for a few more after the walk. Normally I’d keep going, but to be honest on this day I couldn’t wait to get home. My mum had gone into hospital and I was worried about her (putting it mildly). My heart really wasn’t with the caching, so I decided to be a party-pooper and just drive home. Apologies to Candleford, but when you’re not right, you’re not right.

The house and the remaining members of the family where pretty much where I’d left them, so that was all good.



Nuthampstead

The Sketch

A Saturday in early March, and time for another attempt at a big day out. This time the plan was to go to Ryoland, and specifically Nuthampstead. There were two new series here and it also gave me the chance to finish off the “No Cheese Grommit!” series that I’d started two years ago.

I was accompanied by Candleford again, as often has been the case in the last two years. On this occasion, I was trying to be a bit better company. Last time out, in January, I was a big ball of grumpiness. That was caused by mum being in hospital and very unwell. By March, the situation had become much, much worse, but I guess I had had more time to adjust.

Anstey Antics

The first series for the day was Anstey Antics. This was a short series of 17 caches with few associated hangers-on in the village. We parked right in the centre of the vilage and first walked south before coming back to the village and walking the remainder in number order (clockwise). Ryo had recently walked around and changed the logs, so most were in good condition and, as ever, they were all where they should be.

Nuthampstead

The second series of the day involved moving vehicles up to Nuthampstead. This was a series of 18 spread over an extended clockwise loop, plus a couple of extras from favourite national series.

About 3/4 of this loop was over paved roads, so progress across the ground was quick.

Barkway

I’d previously made two attempts at the “No Cheese, Grommit!” series at Barkway ( see Animated and Plasticine). Those were both long walks, but somehow the layout of the land meant I’d left a chunk of them to the north east of Barkway.


Grand Union

The Sketch

A Saturday in April, and we’d got older daugher back from university for the Easter break. Our plan was to go and meet up with SortingHat and attempt a series of his caches along the Grand Union canal that required some special equipment. Special equipment means high terrain, usually, so I was up for it as the series offered the chance for me to fill in a couple of missing slots on my Difficulty/Terrain Grid.

The Preamble

We’d arranged to meet SortingHat quite late in the morning, so we had time to go do a few drive-bys beforehand, as you do. These include a bunch of multis in Whilton and Great Brington and then a set of Ad Labs up in Long Buckby. That passed the time a little bit and got us 10 finds on the board before the official start of the caching day.

The Main Event

The special equipment required along the canal consisted of a ladder for the first five caches and pole with a hook on the end for the next five. Both of these were in the owner’s possession and were of the “extending” variety, meaning that they’d fit into a car.

It was an out-and-back walk, but not too far and there were four of us, so it was easy to spread the load of carrying equipment.

The ladder-climbing ones were all entertaining. We all had a go, but as ever, Ami elobowed her way to the front every time there was one that was a long way up.

The poles were something I’d never done before. He’d hung the caches a very long way up (too high for a ladder). What was required was a long extendable pole with a hook on the end. That allowed us to lift each cache off a branch and gently lower it down. There was exception to this general format. Rather than being upwards, one of them was on the other side of the canal. It’s surprising how much strength you need to hold an 8m flagpole horizontally. We also had to wait a while for canal barges to pass us. We thought it would be impolite to stick a flagpole across the water as they were passing us. Anyway, that one took longer than the others and involved significant risk of dropping the cache in the water.

Afters

When we were done with ladders and poles, SortingHat accompanied us up Daventry to do a D4/T3.5 puzzle of his, and then we took him back to his car and started to pick our way home.

We clearly couldn’t go straight home though. We drove our way through Farthingstone and Litchborough before getting back on the A5 and picking off a few near the roadside just north of Towcester.

It was a good day overall, with decent weather (cool but sunny). Not a huge number of finds, but it did my D/T grid some good and the ladders and poles were definitely something I’d not done before.


London Calling 2023

The Sketch

London Calling 2023 was the second instance of the capital’s biggest and best Mega geocaching event. The previous one had been a bit of a monster day of caching, involving walking some considerable distance and finding what was then a new personal best of caches in a single day. This was the second instance, and it promised to be another day of mad caching. Probably.

Setting Off

The day began with a train down to London followed by meeting up with a few other cachers outside of Kings Cross Station.

Present for this phase were Alibags, Candleford and The Long Man. So between us we’ve got some fairly large total of finds. Not that this would be any guarantee of success, but some experienced eyes at least.

Our plan, such as it was, was to walk around north London, north of Euston Road. That’s a big area, so we probably needed a bit of focus, but to some extent the route was planned for us. Ultimately, we were trying to get to St Mary’s Church in Marylebone, which was maybe a mile and a half west of where we met. The area north of Euston Road is actually a bit devoid of caches by Central London standards, so we reckoned we could more or less everything between King’s Cross, up to Camden Town, Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park and then on to the event.

That’s a fair walk, so I guess we better get going.

Stations

The first objective was to clear the Ad Labs and other bits and bobs around the two stations, King’s Cross and it’s near neighbour St Pancras. The King’s Cross labs were quite easy, as was the virtual celebrating a certain fictional boy wizard’s commute to school.

St Pancras proved more tricky because it was a sequential lab that involved getting to the right GPS coordinates and also the right floor. We got them done eventually though, and hence were able to run over the Euston Road to grab the bonus cache.

Down the Town

Next up was a walk northwards via a couple of DNFs and also an easy find at the “world famous” Mornington Crescent. Or maybe it was at Mornington Crescent. It certainly wasn’t at Mornington Crescent, anyway.

Up (or down) at Camden Town, there was another set of Ad Labs, a virtual, an earthcache and a puzzle. Cool. There’s also, of course, the world famous Camden Market, home of multiple boutique stands stocking a variety of less mainstream items. I’d honestly never been there before. But we weren’t there for retail therapy, so we didn’t stay long and it might be a while before I go back.

This put us on the very edge of Primrose Hill. Technically, Primrose Hill is the park, I think, but the name seems to have been adopted by the local streets too. Anyway, at a point where a footbridge crosses the West Coast Mainline running into Euston, we stopped for a coffee and a cake. We’d been going a while by this stage, and it was a warm day. The coffee was nice.

A Bit Parky

Not in the sense of it being cold, obviously. No. I just said it was quite warm. No, it’s just that we were walking through two parks next.

The first was Primrose Hill, and we genuinely did just walk through it. On one edge there’s a couple of caches. They are somehow at exactly the same place. Well, within a few feet. That somehow slipped through the reviewers net. Both are “Old Skool” legacy caches that have been there since the dawn of time.

The next park was Regents Park. That’s home to the London Zoo, and that’s the side where we entered. It honks a bit, to be honest.

The London Calling 2023 committee had set a bunch of 10 ad labs in the park, which when added to the pre-existing set made 15 in the park. Plus a virtual. By this stage it was quite late in the morning (maybe early afternoon) and it was really quite warm. I was struggling a bit because of the heat and because we’d been walking for a while. And Regents Park is a lot bigger than I thought it was.

Waxworks

Eventually we managed to finish off in the park and break out onto Baker Street. Notice we weren’t winding our way down there. Not even I’m that cheesy. Well, I might be. But not right then. I was light in the head and dead on my feet.

Anyway, moving on.

There was a set of labs from the event at the junction of Baker Street near to the famous place that does the wax sculptures of people. I had a bit of a sense of humour crisis here. I couldn’t get a good enough phone signal to do the doings. Eventually I got there, but there was some swearing involved. Enough that I invited the rest of the team to leave me to it. I could catch them up in the event.

The Main Reason for Being Here

London Calling 2023 was the second instance of the event. They’d moved from Westminster up into Marylebone, and as a result they’d decided to theme the whole thing on Sherlock Holmes.

The event was held in the quite large space of St Mary’s Church, Marylebone. It was spread over two floors, in fact. And there were a load more labs – some in the church and some out in the local streets.

So I met up with the rest of the morning crew inside and mooched around in the event for a while, chatting with familiar faces and looking for stuff to buy. I got evented-out after a couple of hours though, so went out for a walk to do the labs around the streets and then retiring to a nearby pub with Candleford, The Long Man and Mr Sadexploration for a couple of swift halves and some well-earned food.

The Evening Event

Back at the event location there was another event in the evening, and some more ad labs to do. These took a little bit longer than usual as a result of being a couple of beers up in the game. They got done though.

After that, Candleford and Long Man were going back to the pub. I was starting to feel the call of home, so I decided to head off. It was a fairly fuzzy-minded walk back to Euston, but I got there safely enough and the train home was fine.

It had been a long day though, and I was ready for bed when I eventually got there.



The Chili Series

The Sketch

I heard a rumour there was an entire series of caches down near Winchester that had quite high terrain ratings. That’s a good thing for me. At the time I had yet to complete a first lap around the Difficulty/Terrain Matrix. Filling in a bunch of slots in the matrix was a concious choice rather than going somewhere else for another easy series in the countryside. So this is (was) the Chili Series – a collection of puzzles and wherigo caches.

Off We Go

The high terrain ratings on this series were caused by the fact that all the caches were hanging in trees. They were high enough up that the most effective technique would be to use a long pole with a hook on the end. The guidelines were that the caches were somewhere between 6m and 10m high, and most were in locations that couldn’t be climbed to, even if you felt that was appropriate.

One thing I should also add is that wherever high terrain caches are available, I can normally persuade Ami to join me. And indeed, she did join us. We’d recovered her from Lincoln a couple of days previously, and she’d been around home long enough to want something to do.

We were joined by Candleford, and her two big sticks. Well, not big sticks so much as extendable poles. One was quite rigid, of the type you might use for cleaning your upstairs windows. The other was most definitely a fibre-glass flagpole. Both had been fitted with bendy, curly, metal hooks. These were cunningly attached with duck tape – the geocacher’s friend.

So we were all tooled up and ready to go. It was a bit early in the day, because after all, Winchester is a couple of hours from Milton Keynes. I think we left our house at about 7am and stopped at the M4 junction for a service break on the way.

Doing the Doings

We parked up at the recommended parking and then headed off in a northerly direction to begin the series. We took both poles as well as hearty stocks of food and drinks. The plan was to walk all the way round in one go. We’d heard we should budget 5-6 hours for the walk, so we needed to carry lunch.

In general, we took a few minutes to spot each cache. Most were higher up than I expected, and the leaves were fully out on all the trees. As a result, many of the caches just required you to be standing in the right place. If you weren’t right, you’d never spot it.

The chili series walk took us north first and then east. After nine or so finds we’d been going long enough for a lunch break. What swung it for us was a “Moby Dick” cache. We stood staring into the trees for a good 15 minutes, wandering in and out to change perspective. But we couldn’t spot it. So we sat in the roadway for 15 minutes to eat lunch and then had another go. We still didn’t spot it. It happened that this cache was on and out-and-back, so we tried for a third time on the “back” before giving up. If we’d stayed there we wouldn’t finish the series in a day.

So off we went in a westerly direction into an area that was across a few fields rather than tree-lined lanes. This took us to our closest encounter with Winchester before turning around and walking back down a long, straight path that had tall trees down one side and fileds down the other. There were a couple of tricky little caches down there too.

One for the Road

When we eventually made it back to the car there was one of the chili series remaining that was in the other direction. We chucked all our bags in the car and just walked down with the poles. The final one proved to be easy to spot but very difficult to retrieve. It was probably the highest of the bunch. Most of the caches had been reachable with the 6m extendable pole. We’d only used the flagpole a couple of times. This last one, however, required the flagpole, extended up to the max. It was very difficult to get back in place. A fibre-glass flagpole of 10m in length is designed to flex and bend. And so it did. Getting it stable enough to replace the cache took some patience.

Enough of the Walking

So, back at the car, we’d sort of had enough apart from a Church Micro and a trad round the corner in Compton. That made us 34 finds for the day, but they took ages, so we were done.

On the way back we made another stop at Chieveley Services to attempt a supposed climbing cache in the grounds. We took a pole but it wasn’t really suitable, so we gave up and went home. Sometimes you have to accept you’re not getting there.



Piratemania

The Sketch

For a number of years now the annual UK Mega event has been preceeded by another event, held the Saturday before. Recently they have come to (vaguely) synchronizing their sites so that one is within easy driving distance of the other. This other (earlier) mega event is Piratemania.

As its name suggests, it is themed around pirates. People turn up in comedy pirate costumes and pretend for the weekend that they are not, in fact, camping in a field. Anyway, I’d never been before, but because this year’s was close to MK I could go without having to spend a night away. Game on then.

The Morning

After a fairly early drive up, and finding a space on a reasonably empty grassy car park, I found myself at Naseby Sports and Social Club, wandering around for someone to go caching with. I teamed up with a group of 5-6, some familiar and some not so.

The first job was to wander around Naseby village completing a set of Ad Labs that the Piratemania event committee had set. It was a little surreal walking around. One wonders if the locals were aware beforehand of their village being full of people wandering around in bad pirate costumes.

Back at the plot, it was a quick walk around the village, and we were soon back at the site. Time for a coffee and a bit of a chill before hitting the bigger circuits.

Walking to the West

The event committee had placed two sets of new caches for the event. Well, two loops. I think they were named as a single series. Anyway, the bigger loop was to the west of Naseby. It was quite a few miles round and had about 25 caches on it. About half of those were on roads or other paved routes, so good speed was made. We kind of needed good speed though. It felt like a long way for the number of caches involved. It took well over three hours to get round, I think.

By this time I was in a somewhat larger group, but we were all “of a certain mind” – it was good company anyway, so it didn’t seem too long a time while we were walking.

My feet were struggling a bit when we got back to the Piratemania event site, so I welcomed an hour or so getting off my feet and having some lunch.

The Afternoon

Later in the afternoon I set off again with a different party of cachers to attack the second loop of event caches, to the east of the village.

On this circuit my feet were seriously giving me some gyp. It was probably another 3-4 miles round and contributed a further 20 caches to the total. I had slowed down to a snails pace by the end though. In fact, up the final straight the others all got away from me because I was suffering a bit. I hadn’t carried enough drinks with me either.

Summary

I’d never been to Piratemania. Having now been once, I sort of know what it’s about, so I’m not sure about going again. It was OK as events go. I tend not to spend long in the actual events anyway, but maybe because I was only there for the day I kind of ran out of enthusiasm quite quickly.

Maybe I’ll go again in a couple of years.



Lincoln

The Sketch

I had a couple of days holiday booked to spend in Lincoln with Ami. She had a couple of days of training for a mentoring job she’s doing, so someone needed to take her up there. As it turned out, she was also able to get the keys for this year’s flat. She successfully negotiated Year 1 of University, so she’s now heading into Year 2. I was heading into a couple of days of geocaching.

The drive up involved the usual stop at a local garage to refuel and get a “mobile” breakfast. This was followed by a slightly fraught drive up the motorway. Why? Well, my car decided today was a good time to tell me the tyres needed some more air. I suspect it was maybe because of carrying half of Ami’s worldly possessions in the back, but also maybe just because I hadn’t checked them for a while.

Anyway, I was on edge for the whole drive up, but when I got to Lincoln I got a grip and realised I couldn’t possibly have got three punctures, so it must just be that they needed a pump up. We arrived in Lincoln in time for breakfast, but neither of us wanted any. So we went to Morrison’s garage to fill the tyres up instead. And from there we still had half an hour, so we went just up the road to collect the key for Ami’s flat. We had an afternoon slot booked to empty the car, but figured that would be quicker if we already had the key.

After all that, I dropped Ami off at her venue and headed off for some caching.

Around Town

Just after I dropped Ami off the weather took a turn for the worse. It looked like I was going to be spending my day in the wet.

I started off at a cemetery to the south-east of the city centre, where there was a quick series of Labs. I toyed with walking around the larger park here (on the Lincoln Edge), but it was much bigger than it looked on the map, and I didn’t fancy it in the rain.

So I moved myself down to Hartsholme Country Park. On the way, the car was still moaning about the rear tyre pressure. I guess the tyres would still be warm when I did them before, so I decided to go to another garage and give them another go. Hartsholme was a pleasant walk around, despite the rain, because it was mainly under trees. It had a mix of lab caches and regular caches, so it was a fruitful walk. By the time I finished there it was about 12:30. Ami was due to finish at about 2:30, or maybe earlier, so I decided I didn’t have much time left.

Stinky

I ventured over to Boultham Park, where there was supposedly another set of labs and a handful of regular ones. I started on the western side, where there were two outliers.  The lab cache wasI got the lab easily enough, but I didn’t find the other one.

Anyway, back to the car to move around the other side of the park, and I immediately became aware of an unpleasant smell.

Turns out I’d stood in some dog poop and then climbed into the car. I’d smeared the stuff onto the floor mat of the car.  That needed attention immediately, because frankly it smelled gross. One advantage of having Ami’s stuff in the car was that I had all her cleaning materials. So I nicked a cleaning cloth and proceeded to use the nearby puddles as a source of dampness, taking care to rinse in a different puddle from where I was “wetting up”.

It was rudimentary, but it got enough off the carpet and shoes to allow me to more on. I’d lost the urge a bit though, and anyway Ami had pinged to say she would be free at 2 pm. So I dashed round the park and then set off to fetch Ami back.

Unloading

After all the messing around, I needed a quick break, so Ami and me walked over to the High Street so I could wash my hands properly, and we grabbed a Maccy D’s for lunch. This filled all the time until we could go and unload the car.

It was general “moving in” weekend at Lincoln University, so they were being a bit tight on parking cars at any of the main student residences. We had a one hour slot from 3 pm. They told me they would be strict on that, even though there was frankly nobody else there.

Anyway, her new flat has stairs instead of a lift, and that meant there was no advantage to getting a luggage trolley. We just took stuff through by hand. She only had about 10 boxes/bags anyway, so it didn’t take long. We discovered we’d taken two duvets instead on one duvet and one mattress topper, so that would have to be corrected over the weekend.

This year she’s in a shared flat with people she already knows. One of the others was also moving in on Thursday, so we had some company.

We got it all done within the allotted time, and so we were ready to go and find out hotel.

Thursday Evening

We were booked into the Lincoln Hotel. We normally don’t stay here, but our usual choices were all booked up, and it looked fine.

It turned out that the rooms were a bit dated but otherwise pleasant. However the view was quite good. We were on the top floor and had a balcony, from which we could stare straight out at the north side of the cathedral. We had a bit of a snooze before getting ready.

Ami had booked us into a tapas restaurant around the other side of the castle which turned out to be very nice, although they were really quick with service, so we weren’t there for long. We were back at the hotel before 8 pm and sat for a while with a beer. I would say I read for a while, but I didn’t really.

I called Kas and by then Ami was done, so we decided to give up. Back at the room it was a warm night so we stood out on our balcony and had a discussion about change ringing and Westminster Quarters. And we had to try to count the bells – Thursday night was obvious bell ringers’ practice night. As we were only 100m or so away from the main tower, the bongs were extremely loud.

Friday Morning

Thankfully, the main bongs seem to stop at about 11 pm and the change ringers went home. So we got some sleep, and were ready for some breakfast at about 8 am.

Breakfast was good and we were ready to get out fairly early to get Ami down to a different building. The morning had been foggy, but as the sun rose it was clearing the fog quickly and it looked like it would be a lovely day. The fog drifting around the cathedral looked very impressive from the balcony, though. We should come here again.

Arboreal

After dropping Ami off, I started my caching morning at the Lincoln Arboretum, which was totally beautiful on a bright, sunny morning.

I parked on the north (uphill) side. On a map, you sort of expect that somewhere in Lincoln will be flat, except, of course, there’s the Lincoln Edge. The arboretum was built on the Lincoln Edge, and so faces southwards and is on a very steep slope.

The first cache I had to find was right down at the bottom, but I figured I should do the set of labs in order. So down the bottom I went. And then I climbed all the way back up again. The last of the labs was down at the bottom again, as was the bonus for the series. And so I had to climb up again to get back to the car. That was a lot of upping and downing.

Hykeham

I’d decided not to stray too far from central Lincoln again, as we were expecting Ami to finish at 2pm again. So next up I drove all the way round to the southern edge of Hykeham and parked up for a walk around the Millenium Lake. Much like the previous day’s walk around Hartsholme, this involved a circular walk around a lake with a mix of traditional caches and labs. Unlke yesterday though, it was warm. Very warm. I picked up the details for a multi before I set off, but it wasn’t on the walk.

The walk was very pleasant, and I was back at the car in an hour or so. I was running out of planning options but there was that multi, plus another series of lab caches that were a bit spread out. I decided to drive around those, and discovered they were a humourous fake “history of Hykeham” – it made me chuckle a little bit to see what the owner had done to make it look like various everyday objects were (in the description) items of great historical significance. Have yourself a Scooby Snack for that one.

The last of that series was at a small local shopping centre, so I took the opportunity to grab myself a chilled drink while I was there. I noticed it was past 1pm, so I didn’t really have time for much else, and I ended up just driving back to the agreed pick-up point and waiting in the car for Ami to come out. It was nice just having a snooze for a while.

One for the Road

We had one more diversion to make on our way home. For most of this year I’ve been tracking my Difficulty/Terrain grid. I had about 3 gaps when the year started, and up to this point I’d filled two of those. One was on a day of heisting caches out of trees down near Winchester and the other was an earthcache in the Lake District. So I had one left to go. I needed a D4.5/T5. Those are quite rare beasts, but I noticed (or “I was told”) that there was one near Sleaford that I should do.

The cache concerned is a challenge cache, and therefore its difficulty and terrain reflect the difficulty of completing the challenge, not the difficulty of getting this one cache. The challenge was to have cached on 365 different days of the year. I completed that task away back in 2014, but I’d never noticed this challenge, and nor would I have made a special journey for it apart from it filling my D/T grid. So that was the plan.

The cache itself was a couple of miles to the east of Sleaford, along a pathway beside the River Slea. It was a pretty easy find, that was in the second place I searched. So that was the end of my first lap around the D/T grid. My 17,946th total find completed my frst lap around the D/T. Maybe I should try to spread it around a bit more. I hope it doesn’t take me another 18,000 finds to make the second lap. That all depends, I suppose, on my ability to find T4.5 and T5 caches that I’m able to do. Most require a boat or some climbing ropes.

Enough

Anyway, enough of that. The drive home was a bit quieter than I might expect for a Friday night. We were back home at 5pm. I’d made 49 finds over the two days.



Swim Serpentine

The Sketch

Why am I writing a post about one of London’s premier open water swimming events in my memoires of geocaching? Mainly because whilst Kas had a place in Swim Serpentine, I don’t really swim. I certainly don’t do open water swimming. However, it afforded me the opportunity to spend a day “down the smoke” for a bit of geocaching.

So I wasn’t swimming, other than in geocaches. But we move on.

The Morning

Kas set off at some awful time of the morning because she’d arranged to go to Ilford (I think) to do a parkrun. Because, you know, a 2 mile swim in the afternoon isn’t enough. So she was out of the house while it was still dark. I got up at a more leisurely time. I headed off to the station for a train at about 9 am. That’s still (currently) an early time for me on a Saturday. I’d made a point after the Lincoln trip of getting myself in bed early.

The train down was, well, train-ish. All was going well until we got past Wembley, at which point a freight train apparently pulled out onto the main line in front of us, and slowed us down. And once that was out of the way, we incurred a further delay because routes into Euston Station were considerably slowed down by engineering works, which meant they closed masses of the approaches and there was a bottleneck getting trains in and out of the platforms. It’s just as well I’d grabbed coffee and pastries at MK station before setting off.

University College

My first caching stop was at the main campus of University College London, which is literally over the road from Euston. There was a set of 5 lab caches around the campus. They turned out to be a little challenging to do. Whilst the campus is apparently open-access, and that was enhanced by it being an open day for new students, I get a kind of creepy feeling wandering around a campus on a weekend when I’m not a student. Also, a couple of the key entrances weren’t open, and I wasn’t comfortable just walking through a door to see what happened.

So I circled around the campus to do a series of dashes in and out from the adjacent roads. I did spend some time wandering around inside following signs, but frankly the signs weren’t great and I was uncomfortable every time I went inside a building. So I was glad when I’d done them. From here, I jumped on the Hammersmith and City Line from Euston Square to Paddington.

No Comment

I can’t comment too much on the campus itself, nor the institution that occupies it, because I’m an Imperial College man. When I was there it was a part of the University of London, much like UCL. A few years back they voted to leave the University of London.

Back at the plot, Imperial is ranked the 5th best college in the UK and the second best in London (after London School of Economics). UCL languishes in a very lowly 8th place (3rd in London). My point being, obviously, that I consider walking around UCL to be a bit like walking around Scumbag College off the Young Ones. Harsh, I know, but one has to champion one’s own successes.

I have no idea how LSE can come first. Don’t they just play with spreadsheets and guess what large numbers of people will do with their money?

I digress. Digression is my middle name.

Bear Necessities

OK, that is a poor pun, but I’m well known for those.

Paddington Station is one of those London stations that seems to be in a permanent state of rebuilding. I guess they recently put the Elizabeth Line through it, and I know they’ve been extending it with new platforms for the Heathrow Express and other things, but somehow it manages to combine spangly new extensions with Victorian brickwork and scaffolding in roughly equal proportions.

My quest was to find two sets of lab caches plus a few other bits and bobs in the area before walking towards Hyde Park. One set of those was entirely within the station. Those were quick to do despite me suffering my usual semi-panic, semi-frustrated “isn’t London busy?” phase there. Many parts of London are very busy. I tend to get out of the semi-panic phase by either a) stopping for coffee / beer or b) walking a street or so off the main drag to somewhere that’s quieter.

St Mary’s

The second set of labs fell into category b). It started south of the station and moved northwards, and the route took me once again to a bit of my history. Playing back to my university days, when I was at Imperial College it covered all physical sciences and engineering disciplines except for medicine. It had grown out of more pure science and engineering colleges, but the lack of medical school seemed an omission for one of the UK’s premier scientific establishments. There’s rumour they merged with a medical school just to increase the proportion of female undergraduates. When I was there, it was very much of a male dominated establishment. One would hope things have changed in the last 36 years since I left.

They addressed that issue in 1988, the year after I left, by merging with the St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. St Mary’s is the hospital next to Paddington. OK, so this bit isn’t part of my history, and I make no claim of responsibility on Imperial deciding to diversify into medicine, but it was a convenient segway between bits of this post. And, indeed, there’s more of that coming later.

The end of the set of labs had me standing by the side of the Westway just to the east of Paddington. It was time to go elsewhere.

Heading Southwards

After walking as quickly as possible back across Westway and through Paddington I found myself in the Hyde Park Estate, one of London’s more upmarket areas. Thankfully here the streets were a little quieter than at Paddington and I was able to move quickly and search more freely. Rather unfortunately though, I couldn’t seem to find any of the caches that were supposed to be there. That was a bit irritating. One in particular was the final of a whole series of virtual caches that I’ve been picking my way through ever since I began caching.

So I left the posh area feeling a bit the worse for wear, and looking forward to notching up a few more finds. Salvation was found in the walk from Marble Arch down Park Lane. Down here there was a set of labs placed by the London Calling crew that I’d not had time to do on London Calling day back in April. Today was the perfect day.

To continue the theme of disappointment with physical caches though, I’d got the final coordinates for two wherigos that require you to travel round the whole of London and randomly open the wherigo cartridge at anywhere vaguely touristy to see if was one of the required zones. I’d been doing that cartridge for donkey’s years too. There was a final point and an extra bonus final, both of which I thought were on Park Lane. I couldn’t find diddly at either location.

Random Acts of Kindness

While I was in this phase, I assisted a lovely but rather confused lady from Oregon who was wandering around London on holiday, but was struggling because she didn’t have a phone signal, and didn’t really know where she was. Anyway, ultimately she produced a key card from her hotel and I googled the location and pointed which way she needed to go. It wasn’t far, but when she met me she was walking away from it.

I sincerely hope she got back to her hotel and enjoyed the rest of her visit. Or, indeed, that she is still enjoying her visit.

Going Round in Circles

At the bottom end of Park Lane is Hyde Park Corner. Fundamentally it’s a massive traffic island filled with war memorials, but as a geocacher it jumps out at you because of the number of caches there. There’s a set of labs and 2 or 3 earthcaches, and a virtual, so the small area contains 10 or so caches. I did them fairly quickly and then sat down on the end of the memorial to Bomber Command (which is technically on Piccadilly rather than Hyde Park Corner). I needed a rest, and my phone needed to be recharged, and I needed to find out where Kas was and whether I needed to walk across to meet her.

All was fairly good on the Kas front. She was chillin’ with friends under a tree and I’d still got nearly two hours before her race was die to start. So I was good for a bit more caching.

Serious Nostalgia

I decided to leg it along Knightsbridge and Kensington Gore to the Royal Albert Hall. There were a couple of caches on the way, and the Albert Hall is where, in 1987, I got to impress my parents by having my graduation ceremony there. It’s a fine location for a graduation ceremony.

On the way, I had to find a way around the largest mobile crane I’ve ever seen, and then pick my way through a clutch of police and protesters outside the Iranian Embassy on Prince’s Gate. It’s the same building that was stormed by the SAS in 1980. Anyway, there was a peaceful protest of several hundred taking place over the road, and the police were happily letting people walk by. It didn’t feel unsafe.

At the Albert Hall, I found one cache and then ducked out of another that appeared to need a tree climb. Then a little further on there was another, before returning to the Albert Memorial for a couple more. I had forgotten how large and incredibly fiddly the Albert Memorial is. One thing you can certainly say about the Victorian era is that they weren’t keen on plainness. The more fiddly the better.

Where’s the Mrs?

Well, I knew where she was. But before I went to meet her I took a walk through Kensington Gardens following another set of lab caches. Kensington Gardens is where we used to do our lunchtime football training while I was a student. It doesn’t look like they let people run around in studded boots any more, but I may be wrong.

This set of labs took me round the Round Pond and then to the top end of the Serpentine – actually, it’s called “The Long Water” up at that end, but who’s counting? Anyway, the labs finished in the Italian Gardens and that meant I could walk down the north side of the Serpentine directly to where Kas had been camped out all afternoon. Marvellous.

Lazing Around

I met up with Kas and a couple of others she’d been spending the day with. I then immediately disappeared to buy more drinks and a snack to keep me happy. It was a warm day and I was finding I needed to drink a lot, even though I wasn’t at all hungry. So I got coffee, coke and water, and some crisps.

Back at the plot, Kas was getting into her wetsuit and generally preparing for some swimming. I wandered off to the start with her just so I knew where to go at the end. There’s no point in trying to watch an open water swimming event, because fundamentally it’s a load of splashing a pink hats moving serenely through the water. You can’t tell who is who. So when she started I went back and lay beneath a tree, drinking my drinks and munching my crisps. Anyway, my GPS said I’d walked 16km at least, so I’d earned a sit down. And a snooze. In fact, I was so ready for a snooze that I decided I should set an alarm just in case.

Kas finished in good time and I was able to spot her coming out of the water. We met up and then I went back to the tree while she got changed.

Dinner

The swimming members of the crew were ready for some food. I probably was too, so that was a deal. We started walking in the general direction of Oxford Street. By this time it was about 6:30 and the place was heaving. So I didn’t enjoy that bit very much, but at least the rest meant my feet weren’t hurting at all.

We ended up in a Pizza Express, the one at the bottom end of Thayer Street. The pizzas were pizza-flavoured. I didn’t bother getting my glasses out to read the menu. I could discern “American Hot” without them, so that was enough. There was a bewildering array of options I wasn’t expecting. I’m sure an American Hot just used to be an American Hot, but anyway, it was good. The others had beer, but I’d made the mistake of taking my car to the station, so I didn’t have beer.

After dinner we were all on a mission to get back to Euston to get home. My motivation was that the Co-Op shuts at 10pm, and I wanted to get there in time to buy beer.

Quick Walk, Slow Train

So we legged it all the way up Thayer Street and along Marylebone Road/Euston Road to get back to the station. One of our number had done some googling. The best train for us would be one due to leave at 8:25. Time was a bit tight all the way, and when we got to the station we ended up sprinting along the platform to get on it. We made it though, but there were no seats because of all the delays and consequent train overcrowding.

And then we waited. Apparently, on top of all the engineering works they also managed a signalling failure. That meant we didn’t get out of Euston until nearly 9 pm. We were joined in our by-the-doors space by a young woman from Birmingham. She, like us, was just trying to get home. She was having a bit of a mare because she only had a ticket on her phone and her phone ran out of juice. She’d sponged enough ziggies at a seat in the Premium Standard seats but had then received a glare and some less than choice words from the train manager because she’d dared to take a sip of the free water she’d been offered.

Seriously?

Things went downhill as we made an unscheduled stop at Watford so they could get the Transport Police on. They wanted to remove some people who’d camped in the premium seats and were refusing to pay the upgrade fee. I can see their point, but really? The train was only full because they’d spent all day delaying and cancelling them. So it seemed a bit off to threaten to cancel a train containing several hundred paying passengers on the basis that they had half a dozen people who didn’t want to pay an upgrade for seats that would otherwise have sat empty. Sometimes things like this make me laugh. Sometimes.

Back at MK, the car was where I left it. We made a tactical trip into a off-license at the station to get beer. We would have made it to the Co-Op in time, but only just. So I sat typing up caching logs, drinking beer, and listening to Match of the Day. A perfect end to a busy day.



Beachamwell

The Sketch

A day in Beachamwell, close to Downham Market, for a bit of geocaching action as ever.

The Target

The objective was a bunch of series close to Beachamwell, including the Beachamwell Bandicoot, the Beachamwell Bijou, and possibly a couple of puzzle series nearby. My companion, as has often been the case in the last year, was Candleford.

The Walk

It was a beautiful morning, to be honest. A little cloudy and breezy but warm and the threatened rain stayed away all day.

We parked up in Beachamwell village next to the church, and then walked in a clockwise loop around the Beachamwell Bandicoot series first. The first dozen or so were really quick as they were along roads, so minimal time spent in between each one.

After the road there was a stretch along a bridleway before crossing the road again and then back to the bridleway. By “bridleway” what I mean actually is a broad grassy road with occasional field entries and hedges down both sides. The English countryside is littered with them, especially in arable areas rather than livestock areas, and there were plenty of them around here. I mean, they have them in areas of livestock farming too, but they tend to be more rough underfoot and, shall we say, aromatic.

Anyway, the caching was quick, as it usually is with poshrule series. So we were done in a while and we had plenty of time to go do another one. I, however, didn’t have the legs for another walking series. I was struggling a bit, so we decided to give my legs a break by doing something else.

Something Else

The first “something else” was to do a few drive-bys in the villages of Gooderstone, Oxborough and Stoke Ferry. This gave my legs a well needed break from walking whilst keeping the numbers ticking over. In Oxborough there was a set of Ad Labs as well as a couple of “normal” jobs. Anyway, it gave my legs a bit of a break.

More Something Else

We still had a fair amount of time left, and since last time I’d been up to Downham there’d been not one, not two, but three whole new sets of Ad Labs released. They were all in the town centre, so it made a worthy trip despite having finished all the other caches in town on a previous trip. We were able to park in the local supermarket and walk round all three sets in under an hour.

So overall that made a decent day out, aside from having to drive home again. That takes me a while, but the drive up and back is worth it for an area with so many caches in such a small area.

At the time of writing, there’s still more than enough caches within 10 miles of Downham to warrant three or four more trips.



Geocache Finds 2023-12-17

Geocache Finds 2023-12-17

Geocache Finds 2023-12-02

Geocache Finds 2023-12-02