I’ve done some work with Jimmy to help with a project he’s been working on since he retired – the Berrynarbor Newsletter.
While we were away on our traditional “lads weekend” in 2022, we spent an afternoon walking along Hurst Spit. We were down in Dorset and it was a beautiful morning. Freezing cold, but with bright sunshine and virtually no wind. We really are very good at doing this, because pretty much every year we’ve done a lads weekend we’ve had sparklingly good weather on the Saturday. The exception was in 2019 in the Brecon Beacons. When we were there the weather was rougher than a roofer’s glove all weekend. We walked up Pen y Fan in fog (and with snow on the ground), and as a result we couldn’t see diddly from the top. But I digress, as I often do. The point of this is that when we walked along Hurst Spit it was a lovely day.
A part of the walk was spent talking to Jimmy about the Berrynarbor website. He mentioned one particular aspect I thought I might be able to help with. It’s interesting to me to be able to apply some of the skills and techniques I use for geocaching to a different environment.
Jimmy’s mum (Judie) has been the editor of a local newsletter in their village since forever. Well, not quite that long, but for 33 years and 200 editions up to October 2022. That’s a lot of editing. She decided to stop working on it a while back, for various reasons, and the result was that the continued production of a printed version has now ceased. Over the last year or so, Jimmy has been helping her by creating an online archive of the work that she’d compiled into all those editions.
The Job at Hand
The newsletter was originally released in print only, and because of that, there is a significant risk that it all would be lost at some point. Printed copies degenerate eventually, even if you look after them well. And because it’s a local newsletter, it’s unlikely it would attract the attention of any institution that specializes in preserving printed media. So what can you do?
Well, what Jimmy has been doing is digitizing every issue to create an online archive. This has been, by his own admission, a labour of love, but the process has resulted in something which really is unique.
Why unique? Retained print media normally covers the big stuff. In the same way that when you’re taught history at school you’re taught the big stuff. Well, when I was a kid we were taught the big stuff anyway. Kings and queens, governments, wars, politics, religion, empire. Changes at a global geopolitical level. And, in more recent years, international sports, soap operas, celebrities and the social history of books, film and music, because in today’s world, those things are as much a part of our collective history as anything else.
History on a Local Scale
Everything at a (shall we say) lower level than that is essentially the preserve of archaeologists and of Baldrick. He’s spent much of his post-Blackadder years extrapolating a smashed bit of pottery and half a shoe into a complex description of village life in medieval rural England.
What I mean is that there is very little written (or at least, very little that has survived) about the actual lives of the ordinary person. The age of social media means there’s now much more available, but then there can be too much of a (cough) good thing. Most of that content is, with the very greatest of respect, like a never-ending safari in the Dunning-Kruger National Park.
What’s in the Berrynarbor Newsletter then?
So back in Berrynarbor, the newsletter is a 33-year long record of comings and goings at a very local level. It’s an expression of a local community.
Apart from the editor, it’s had many regular contributors. They have given their time to write articles or provide artwork to enrich the content through much of that time.
The newsletter has lots of regular features about local history, people, events, and diary-style descriptions of people’s travels. It’s basically a one-off. It’s full of various forms of lovingly-written content that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else. For instance, one contributor (Tom Bartlett) provided a collection of postcards with images taken in and around the village, or that were mailed locally. Along with each postcard, he added some notes about the content and provenance of the card – where the images were captured, who published or created them, when they were mailed, and so on. Another contributor (Paul Swailes) created custom artwork for many of the articles based on a brief provided by Judie. Many of these were done by the artist physically visiting locations described in the article and creating artwork to match both the theme and the location.
Other regular articles include a series of local walks (by Sue H) and, by way of balance, recipes for cakes and other sweet things (by Wendy Applegate).
How Does it Work?
Jimmy has been working through all of these editions to bring the content online. That will preserve it, but as part of the process it’s also being enriched.
As the originals were done in printed media, and weren’t done by professional print shops, there was a lot of effort involved in bringing it online. He processed the text using character-recognition technology, but this can tend to be a bit flakey, so it’s all been proof-read (“old skool”) by Judie to ensure the content is as it was originally published.
In addition, most of the artwork was only available from the original print copy. So they’ve put loads of effort into sourcing decent-quality copies of all the images and then scanning those so that the online version contains better images than the printed original.
So What am I Doing?
As well as polishing up the content that was originally in the printed versions, moving online gives the opportunity to enrich the content with new things that were not previously there. And this is where my own particular niche skills offered something which might be of use.
One of the regular features in the newsletter is the series of local walks. These were written by a single contributor (Sue H) from the perspective of the experience of engaging in the walk (the weather, the nature, the changing landscape, and so on). However, while we were walking along Hurst Spit (remember the start of this post?) I mused that it would be possible to make some useful additions which could be done with tools that I play with most days.
I suggested it might look richer if each walk was accompanied by a map of the walking route, and, for the technologically minded, a downloadable GPX file of that route. This would enhance the original content by displaying (especially for non-locals) the exact routes that the original author took. I am working on that from the perspective of what I personally would want if I was going to attempt the walk. The key features I’d want to know are:
- Where should I park?
- How long is the walk?
- How hilly is it?
The experiences of each walk are beautifully described in the articles already. There was no need to rework any of that. However, we felt the walks could be made more immediately accessible by adding those three things.
How do I do that?
Some of the articles don’t contain a detailed description of the actual walking route. However, most have enough to figure out where to start from and describe key locations you would visit. That means that with a decent map it’s possible to capture a route. It might not be the exact route the author originally took, but generally enough to pass each of the places mentioned.
I already use tools that are capable of doing what we needed. The main one I’ve used is Memory-Map. I use this for geocaching to plan walking routes and set up what I need onto my handheld-GPS device. You can read other posts in this “techie” part of this site to explain why I use a handheld. But anyway, in Memory-Map I have access to a full UK copy of the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 “Explorer” maps . These have been fully calibrated to GPS coordinates. They are still raster maps rather than vector maps, but at the scale required here (and for geocaching) they are more than adequate.
What this allows me to do is two things:
- Draw a “route” onto the map which superimposes a set of directions onto the underlying map
- Output that route to a GPX file containing the exact GPS coordinates of points on the route
Multiple apps are available that will allow you to upload a GPX file and then navigate your way around it. These cover most types of devices from Android, Apple and Garmin. It’s a very convenient way of publishing a route. The GPX file means also that the route is not specifically tied to the OS maps in Memory-Map. It just uses GPS coordinates and will therefore overlay onto whatever base map the app supports.
The Way In
If you look at the local walks section of the newsletter you can see how Jimmy has used a single map to provide a means of access to the individual walk articles. It looks a bit busy on the macro-scale, but there’s a lot of content in the newsletters. You can zoom in and out to your heart’s content though.
So I’m very happy to be a small cog in a somewhat larger wheel. The job of preparing the walking routes is maybe only 10% done at the time of writing this post. But now Jimmy has the original content ready, the addition of walking routes can be progressive. Hopefully that means we’re not subject to any time constraints. He’s done it in such a way that the content is displayed from a database. That means I can progressively add rows to that database. Jimmy can then upload those without having to do any more work on the presentation. That bit is already done, and I like the way it looks. Hopefully Jimmy and Judie like it too.
Follow some of the links on this page to see what Jimmy has been doing. All of the things I’ve personally helped with are in the local walks section.
Time to sign off on my 2022 Caching Diary. It’s been a busy year.
2021 was a somewhat improved year compared to 2020, what with there being no pandemic lockdowns for most of the year and with me having the time and energy to meet up with friends and go out caching. 2022 looked like it ought to be even better.
My plan for 2022 was mainly to suck it and see. I mean, planning is tricky while this whole pandemic thing is still around. You don’t know quite what’s going to happen or when. Anyway, I planned to find loads of caches. Over the winter I was planning to stay on roads and paths. I’m done with being knee-deep in clart. The “agricultural” series could all wait until spring and summer. There’s several hundred available within an hour’s drive that are designed for bikes, and hence won’t involve muddy fields.
I’ve kept this post up to date and have moved its date of authoring forward as the year progresses. I’ve been doing some work on presentation of my own find statistics, and as a result I’m now in a much better position to make amendments to this post quickly.
So here we go. A whistlestop tour of my year in tupperware, in the form of a list with links to specific blog posts for the longer days (i.e. those where the caching was significant enough to warrant an individual post).
January (160 finds) – My best ever January
- 1st January – Pesh’s traditional “Pastries at the Pagoda” event – This year a “Community Celebration” – 1 find
- 2nd January – Ticking off a day from the Shifty Fifty Challenge in Yaxley (see Yaxley Peloton) – 61 finds
- 9th January – A quick trip up to Blisworth for a set of Ad Labs and a few traditionals – 15 finds
- 13th January – An evening event in Milton Keynes – 1 find
- 16th January – A bit of a day out in Hertfordshire (see Animated) – 82 finds
February (386 finds) – My best ever February
- 3rd February – A quick one while one of the kids was at Art Club – 1 find
- 5th February – If you’re going, go big! (see Brandon) – 90 finds
- 13th February – Hacking around a bit more of the “No cheese, Gromit!” series (see Plasticine) – 68 finds
- 14th February – Completing my 360° from Home Challenge (see Full Circle) – 18 finds
- 22th February – An event and a dash around Towcester for Twosday – 9 finds
- 26th February – A monstrously massive day doing poshrule’s peloton (see Peloton) – 200 finds
March (122 finds)
- 7th March – A single find for my first ever Traditional on March 7th – 1 find
- 12th March – Finishing the Grand Tour by completing poshrule’s peloton (see Pelotoff) – 115 finds
- 13th March – A single find for my first ever Traditional on March 13th – 1 find
- 19th March – A handful of finds whilst testing out my new bike in Milton Keynes – 4 finds
- 31st March – An evening event in Milton Keynes – 1 find
April (236 finds)
- 1st April – A single find whilst planning / setting some of my Only Connect puzzles – 1 find
- 3rd April – Testing out the new bike in earnest, over at Cambridge (see Girton) – 86 finds
- 9th April – Pounding round the Northamptonshire countryside (see Brigstock) – 93 finds
- 19th April – I solved an Only Connect puzzle from CASH & Gary, and then dashed for an evening FTF – 1 find
- 21st April – I solved another Only Connect puzzle from CASH & Gary, and popped out to find it in my lunch hour – 1 find
- 23rd April – I was in London for an event in the Olympic Park – 7 finds
- 24th April – I made heavy work of a walk around Harlington and then had some issues with phone signal in Woburn – 43 finds
- 30th April – A lunchtime event in Tattenhoe followed by a dash to Wavendon to complete the Shifty Fifty for today – 4 finds
May (108 finds)
- 1st May – A return dash to Wavendon on a break between house maintenance tasks – 3 finds
- 2nd May – A walk around Rushmere and Stockgrove with the family – 6 finds
- 6th May – An evening event and a few local caches – 5 finds
- 7th May – The 2022 MK Mini Geocoin Fair – 1 find
- 8th May – A morning event after the fair – 1 find
- 13th May – A new Ad Labs series at Caldecotte Lake – 8 finds
- 15th May – A handful on my way up to see my parents – 11 finds
- 17th May – A “Roundabout Milton Keynes” event – 1 find
- 22nd May – A birthday bash over in Ashwell for Ryo62 – a day that saw me pass 1,000 finds for the year and 15,000 in total (see Ashwell) – 63 finds
- 30th May – A new Ad Labs series in Milton Keynes plus a couple of others – 8 finds
- 31st May – One of Pesh’s “Pause for Art” events in Campbell Park – 1 find
June (521 finds – My best ever)
- 4th June – A day of insanity driving around the EHB Series (see EHB Series) – 384 finds
- 11th June – A single cache required to complete the Shifty Fifty for today – 1 find
- 14th June – Four caches required to complete the Shifty Fifty for today, but I did an Ad Lab series, so – 5 finds
- 25th June – Finishing off the month with another big day out over towards Royston – 131 finds
July (129 finds)
- 17th July – A bike trip round the Letchworth Greenway in ridiculous heat – 62 finds
- 18th July – A few local finds – 3 finds
- 21st to 31st July – On holiday in Crete – 64 finds
August (530 finds)
- 1st to 4th August – Still on holiday in Crete) – 50 finds
- 5th August – Up to Uttoxeter for the West Midlands Mega (see Knotty) – 109 finds
- 6th August – The day of the actual UK Mega in Uttoxeter, spent mainly in Lichfield (see Mega Day) – 83 finds
- 7th August – Walking from Sudbury to Tutbury followed by some Ad Labs near East Midlands Airport. Somewhere here I passed 16,000 total finds (see Sudbury to Tutbury) – 68 finds
- 10th August – An event in Milton Keynes to celebrate Sidetracked day – 1 find
- 13th August – A handful needed to make the Shifty Fifty – Done at Haversham – 9 finds
- 14th August – 29 needed for the Shifty Fifty – Mainly done in Great Brickhill – 30 finds
- 20th August – Logging the locationless cache GC9FAVE on International Geocaching Day, to get the souvenirs, but frankly because I forgot to do an actual physical cache – 1 find
- 27th August – A monster bike and car-based hack near Downham Market (see Norfolk Villages) – 160 finds
- 31st August – One of Pesh’s “Pause for Art” series on an afternoon where I’d earned a bit of time off – 19 finds
September (116 finds)
- 3rd September – A wander round the woods at West Harling near Thetford (see West Harling) – 106 finds
- 10th September – A Roundabout MK event near Wolverton, followed by a new series of Ad Labs up in Haversham – 7 finds
- 17th September – A couple of quick ones near Measham on a trip to see my folks – 2 finds
- 30th September – One of Pesh’s “Pause for Art” event series in Milton Keynes – 1 find
October (328 finds)
- 1st October – Another big day up near Downham Market (see Bouncing Butterflies) – 101 finds
- 22nd & 23rd October – A weekend with the family in Leeds doing Ad Labs in the rain – 54 finds
- 25th October – Another monster day up near Downham Market (see Pentney PedalAthon) – 109 finds
- 29th October – A day of multiple Ad Labs and other caches near Bedford (see Bedford Walkabout) – 63 finds
- 31st October – One of Pesh’s “Pause for Art” event series in Milton Keynes – 1 find
November (139 finds)
- 5th November – A walk around Milton Keynes collecting a new series of puzzles – 18 finds
- 19th November – A trip to Bury St Edmunds for a load of Ad Labs and an event (see Bury St Edmunds) – 71 finds
- 27th November – A strenuous walk near Cambridge around a series that was in bad condition and probably won’t survive the winter – 50 finds
December (251 finds)
- 2nd December – A walk Therfield and Kelshall (see Therfield) as a final (probably) mud-plugging day of the year – 105 finds
- 3rd December – Down “the Smoke” for a day of Ad Labs (see London Labs). Somewhere here I passed 17,000 total finds – 96 finds
- 9th to 12th December – A weekend in Dorset with the blokes – 14 finds
- 24th December – A set of labs in Buckingham – 5 finds
- 26th December – A few labs and other in Milton Keynes – 16 finds
- 28th December – A quick jaunt out for an hour on my birthday – 9 finds
- 30th December – A set of Ad Labs in London that (cough) doesn’t actually require you to be in London – 5 finds
- 31st December – Pesh’s traditional end-of-month (and this time, end-of-year) Pause for Art event – 1 find
So there we have it, my 2022 Caching Diary. So what did I actually achieve:
- A total of 3,026 finds
- One new country (Greece)
- 102 sets of Adventure Labs finished
- 26 days ticked off my Shifty Fifty Challenge
- 10 days of more than 100 finds
- A new one-day high of 384 finds when doing the EHB Series in June
I’m calling that a satisfactory year of caching. I haven’t (still) finished the Difficulty/Terrain grid and I still haven’t finished the “Full English” because I’ve not been setting out specifically to do that. Maybe that can be a target for next year (at least one of the two).
Having spent a day of vacation walking around Therfield on the previous day I decided I still hadn’t done enough caches in the year, so I headed of for a day doing London labs.
I’d studied the form to some extent and knew I could find a large number of stages of Adventure Labs if I walked eastwards from Euston, then south and back westwards towards Westminster. Beyond that, there was no real plan, to be honest. It was a Sauturday and I had all day available. However it was December, so it would be dark not long after 4pm. That set some parameters for me.
I began by getting a very early train from Milton Keynes down to London. Clearly. I would have done a lot of caching if I’d tried to walk to London first. I grabbed some coffee and pastries at the station to eat on the train.
The train trip was dull, as ever, and I arrived in London just as it was getting light.
After a couple of quick finds near the station I progressed on to Tavistock Square and then on to St George’s Gardens, heading east from Euston. I was quite surprised when I came across the Foundling Hospital and the associated playing fields. Those were busy with loads of kids playing some Saturday morning football. It was surprising to see such a large area right in the middle of the city, I guess.
A Religious Experience
I made my way from the King’s Cross area through Farringdon and down towards The Temple. My biggest problem here was finding a way in. Once I did, again I was surprised the the pristine and peaceful nature of the place. I mean, the church appears in The Da Vinci Code but I’d never really considered that might be an “actual” place in the middle of London. Nor that it would be so quiet. I guess barristers don’t work on Saturdays.
I was in there because there was a set of lab caches in the area. It’s public access, despite being the home of two of the Inns of Court. It took me ages, to be honest, to find the way in. I wasted an amount of time there. I also struggled with a couple of the pieces of information required. And to cap it all, I then couldn’t figure out how to get out. One piece of information I needed was near the exit out to The Strand, but you could only get out with an electronic pass, and I clearly didn’t have one. Thankfully, after a while, someone arrived who did have one, and they were happy to let me tailgate out. The information was on the outside not the inside.
Into the Afternoon
As time moved on into the afternoon I found myself wandering towards the West End and picking up a few caches that I’d failed with on the last time I was in London. That was London Calling day, back in August 2021. I failed those due to a lack of time, a lack of patience, or a lack of phone signal.
Some of those issues were still present on this trip, especially the phone signal, and I once again found myself wandering around aimlessly trying to find a free wi-fi to enable me to complete what I needed. I got there eventually, but it was slow and there was some swearing involved.
After this, I was getting a bit tired and needed a sit down. I availed my self of some lunch at a certain well-known multinational chain whose name rhymes with Pack Ronalds. That was right next to Charing Cross Station. It wasn’t an entirely pleasant experience, to be honest. It took ages to get served and then I couldn’t find a seat for ages.
From here I picked my way down Whitehall to Parliament Square, where there were a few new sets of Adventure Labs that weren’t there on London Calling day. I also didn’t have time on that day to walk through the area to the south of the Houses of Parliament nor round St James’s Park. The park was quite nice. It was a little busy, and it was starting to go a little dark by this time, but it was good. There was one locaiton where I struggled to find the information, but got there eventually.
I needed another rest, so sat on a bench for 15 minutes to give my feet a rest. This gave me a final burst of energy, and I used it to walk through Waterloo Place and up to Piccadilly Circus, then throuogh Soho.
It was “proper dark” by this time and frankly my legs had had enough, but I wanted to walk round everywhere. Well, I didn’t want to have to use the tube on a Saturday evening, to be honest. So I legged it up to Tottenham Court Road and then along Goodge Street back to where I’d started.
I was kind of glad to get back to Euston and also to be able to catch a train back fairly quickly. All-in-all another excellent day of caching with a disgusting quantity of finds, as you can see from the map.
The house and the remaining members of the family where pretty much where I’d left them, so that was all good.
A day walking around the countryside near Therfield, south of Royston. This is the very heart of Ryoland, and to make the experience more real, the man himself was in the party. That meant the walk was fast and all of the finds were guaranteed. It made for a big day of caching.
It was a Friday and I’d taken the day off work because I had a few holidays left to use before the end of the year.
The day began with a meet up in the village of Therfield. Candleford had been to fetch Ryo62 on the way and they were waiting for me when I arrived. So after a quick change into my walking boots we were off on our way. The plan was to walk around the series at Therfield and then to move the cars round to the other nearby series at Kelshall.
We started our walk heading west and then north, tidying up a few caches there before heading off around the extended figure-8 shape of the series along it’s left side. There were a few “hangers-on” on the route too. Much as expected, the caching was quick. The weather was dry and the underfoot conditions were firm, so progress over the ground was easy. Searching was also easy. Ryo’s caches are generally easy to find, with good coordinates and useful hints. Obviously in this case it was made even easier by Ryo being with us. He walks quickly and remembers pretty much every location. Candleford had also suggested that we should aim for a 100 finds in the day (at least for me) and with that in mind we were basically on a bit of a mission.
On this section we walked about 12km over 4.5 hours and found over 40 caches. That was a decent start and it was therefore deemed to be lunchtime when we got back to the cars. We treated ourselves to a fairly unhealthy lunch sitting in Candleford’s car.
We moved Candleford’s car round to the Village Hall in Kelshall for the second loop of the day. I left mine on the road outside the pub in Therfield, where it had been all morning. It looked perfectly safe there.
This second loop of the day was 7.7km long and took us well under 3 hours to complete. It yielded a further 34 finds. That put me just over 80 finds. By this time it was after 3:30pm and the light was closing in, so we switched to hunting in Candleford’s car.
Time for Drive-Bys
Ryo suggested we could make a good number of easy drive-bys if we headed for Nuthampstead, so that’s where we went. We found 13 in double-quick time there and then headed to Royston to complete a set of Ad Labs. Those could be done in the car.
By this time it was well after 5pm and I was pooped, so I got Candleford to drive me back to my car and we went our separate ways.
My separate way didn’t involve going straight home though. There was an event being held in a pub that was sort of on my way home, so I went straight there for half an hour before finally packing up. I’d got a long day planned for the following day, so didn’t want to leave it too late.
When I added everything up, I’d found 105 caches during the day. That was by far and away the most I’d ever found on a December day, so I was happy as.
Disa Urg was hosting a Community Celebration event over in Bury St Edmunds. Those are quite rare beasts, so combined with St Edmundsbury being an English cathedral I’d never visited, I snapped up the opportunity to go.
The plan was to meet Candleford and Makaraka at some awful time of the morning, and to grab a couple of caches with peculiar D/T ratings near Stow cum Quy on the way. The event in Bury St Edmunds wasn’t until quite late in the morning, so we reckoned we could get a dawn walk in and also walk around Bury before the event started.
At Stow cum Quy we did also walk over to a cache that’s a field puzzle. It was one of those three-dimensional mazes made by a 3-D printer. They are quite cunning, but to be honest if you don’t figure it out in the first few seconds you could be there for ages. We gave up after 30 minutes, because we just weren’t getting any closer to a solution and we had other things we wanted to do. I knew we shouldn’t have walked to it.
Bury St Edmunds
Ah! The home of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, which like many English cathedrals, is actually a mish-mash of styles and ages. It’s had more extensions added to it than you could get away with and didn’t actually become a cathedral until 1914.
None of us had been caching here before, so potentially anything and everything was on the radar. Parking looked variable, and we had some information it might be possible to park free at the station. You could park for free. However, you had to get a “free” ticket out of the machine to put in your window. That took some time to figure out.
So off we went for a bit of a walk around town. There were three sets of Ad Labs on top of a selection of Church Micros, War Memorials, and other typical “in town” caches. This kept us busy until over halfway past the start of the event, but we had decided to complete chunks of the walk before going to the event, so that’s what we did.
The event was in the cathedral gardens, at the furthest point from the car. The walk back was quicker though, because we’d done all the caches apart from a couple.
After Bury, we’d decided to head for Newmarket, but to get there via Barrow, where there was a set of labs as well as a Village Sign, a Village Hall, Church Micro and a War Memorial. That’s got to be worth a trip. As it turned out, it was a pretty quick way of grabbing 10 finds.
Where They Do the Horses
Newmarket wouldn’t really be worthy of much note except that it’s considered to be the original home of, and still a major global centre for, thoroughbred horse racing. Not a sport I’m interested in, other than the geographical aspects. The geography of things is always interesting to me. It’s what I do. But the actual racing of horses, and the wagering of money on it, are of no interest to me.
Anyway, we got there around the main road and followed a long straight road alongside some of the gallops. It has a bunch of caches at places that were (cough) suitable for Candleford to park at.
Once we got into the town centre there was a set of Ad Labs that required walking. So we parked “behind the shops” and went for a bit of a walk. It was a short walk around a smallish town centre. And then once we were done with that we drove to the west end of the main street to finish off one of the sets of labs. By this time it was nearly 5pm and it was getting close to darkness.
Well, we can’t finish yet
Well, just because it’s dark, that doesn’t mean we have to stop.
So Candleford “forced” us to do another set of Ad Labs in Eaton Socon as part of the drive back to her house (where me and Makaraka had parked). Well, it would be rude not to.
In total, the day yielded 71 finds, which was somewhat more than I’d anticipated. I was only expecting 30-40, but that was based on us only going to Bury St Edmunds. Adding all the others into that pushed me well clear of my expectation.