Geocache Finds 2023-11-19

Geocache Finds 2023-11-19

Geocache Finds 2023-11-05

Geocache Finds 2023-11-05

Geocache Finds 2023-10-21

Geocache Finds 2023-10-21

Geocache Finds 2023-10-08

Geocache Finds 2023-10-08

Geocache Finds 2023-09-24

Geocache Finds 2023-09-24

Geocache Finds 2023-09-24

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 2023-09-16

Geocache Finds 2023-09-16

Geocache Finds 2023-09-16

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.



Geocache Finds 2023-09-15

Geocache Finds 2023-09-15

Geocache Finds 2023-09-15

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.