A Very Handy TravelBug

handtbI simply could not resist posting something about what I consider to be the coolest trackable on the planet. KJWX, a cacher based in New Zealand, a few months ago became the first person to have a trackable implant! (The Mark of The Geocacher ((TB60ZG6))) The small chip that uses the NFC technology is embedded under the skin of her hand. In order to log it you need a smartphone that supports the NFC system such as an android, blackberry, windows phone and FIMALLY (thanks Apple for joining the party eventually) the iPhone 6. By placing the phone against her hand you will be able to get the tracking code necessary to log it!

For more info about this futuristic TB check out the blog at It’s Not About The Numbers which she maintains together with her brother.

I hereby challenge the only geocacher / blogger based in NZ that I know, travelgypsynz, to go seek out this TB and log it… you have to do it, if only to see on geocaching that you have discover the TB “in the hands” of the owner! :)

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Of Mice and Men

It has only been just over a week since we last found a geocache, but for some reason it seems like a lot longer. If everything had gone according to plan then last Sunday we would have gone out with our friends Geoff and Melissa to start some of the Aylesbury Ring. Then, probably, during the week Sharlene and I would have planned a caching day out for just the two of us. But as Robert Burns wisely wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley!” Unfortunately all our plans went out the window last Friday evening when Sharlene took a fall on the stairs. Thankfully there was no lasting damage done, but she was left with some considerable back pain and a very bruised bottom. Consequently there has been no caching for us this week and as a result we are both now feeling rather cache deprived. She is well on the mend now and hopefully next weekend we will be able to get back out and find some geocaches.

That is not to say that our world of geocaching has stood entirely still over the last 7 days. On Tuesday, Sharlene was starting to feel a bit better and whilst was in no fit state to be bending down and searching for caches, she was happy to go out walking. It was a perfect opportunity to test out a new walk that extends from our Wall Hall series of caches to assess the potential for placing new hides sometime in the future. We ended up walking a route that was about 8km long around some very nice countryside and spotted lots of likely looking hiding places. Hopefully over the next few weeks and months I can get around to making some more definitive plans for the caches. I am trying to decide if there will be a theme to these ones or maybe even a bonus cache.

In other news, I was chuffed to bits to discover that I have finally attained my Sapphire gem stone Author award on project-gc.com. This website is not directly connected to geocaching.com but has been developed by a third party to entertain those geocachers that are statistic obsessed. It allows you to analyse your finds and hides in all sorts of ways and compare yourself to the rest of your area or country etc. People use it to help them track their progress for achieving various challenges such as finding a cache on every unique date of the year or finding at least one of every Difficulty and Terrain rating. There is another site called badgegem which breaks down all your geocaching activities into areas and awards you points and badges/gem stones as you progress. It is all virtual and there are no prizes or real world awards but it is fun and is great at allowing you to make yourself specific challenges to keep the interest going.

The Author award is all about how long your logs are. Some people really don’t see log writing as an exciting or fun part of the hobby and tend to write very short and meaningless entries. I on the other hand think it is an integral part of the game and one that I enjoy greatly. I suspect that this is because it plays to my passion of writing and seeing as I am not so good at certain aspects of geocaching, being blind, this is one area that I have no excuse about not being able to do well at. The Sapphire gem stone is the third highest level with only emerald and Diamond above it and indicates that my average log length is over 80 words now. I hope to be reporting my Emerald status and then Diamond before too long as it is my current personal mission to ‘make it so’.

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The Cache Doctors go Walkabout in Abbots Langley

Now that Sam is back at school after the summer holidays, on Tuesday it was just Shar and I that headed off to Abbots Langley to do a little geocaching. We had greatly enjoyed our visit to the area earlier this year (see Philosophy and something Squidgy)and so I planned this return trip to attempt some of the remaining caches. Being just a few kilometres from Sam’s school we made our way directly there after dropping him off.

One of the geocaches on our hit list for the day was the multi, bones17 Abbots walkabout (GCJRMV) and this provided us with a perfect place to park… a car park. Amazingly, it was a free car park too. Having lived in urbanised areas all my life I was used to not being able to find a free car park that is anywhere near where you actually want to be, but this one was slap bang in the middle of the village and had plenty of free spaces. Even though we started our walk from this place I have to admit that we didn’t follow the waypoints of the multi. Reading the logs I had noted that a couple of the clue items of the cache were now no longer available, but helpful cachers had indicated that the final hide could be calculated by reading previous logs and using some logic. We had spent time the previous evening doing just that and with the help of Google Street view to snag one of the clues, a website that transcribed the carvings on a war memorial in the town, and some good old fashion logic and deduction we had derived some very plausible coordinates. I noted that this location was very close to the last cache I had planned for the day’s walk and so we set out in the opposite direction along the high street in search of a trad, The view across the horse field (GC4KM5W).

On our last visit to the area we had failed to find this cache but now with confirmation from the owner that the container was still there, we were returning to give it another go. Our walk from the car actually took us past a few of the waypoints of the multi cache so I didn’t feel so bad about arm chair solving it as we were getting to see the intended locations anyway. Soon we cut off the busy high street and down a track that eventually led into a footpath along the side of the field where the eponymous horses were distinctly absent. With a crispness in the air indicating that summer was on the way out and autumn would soon be here, and yet blue skies and the sun warming us from above we ambled down the footpath towards GZ. I am happy to report that once there, it was only a matter of minutes before Shar had the cache in hand and we were able to sign the log and tick off a DNF from our list. Always a good start to find the first cache of the day and a very pleasant feeling when it is a previous DNF.

Shar stands next to the horse field and gazes down the path. There are no horses in the field

No Horses Today

From here we turned tail and headed back towards the main road, crossed it and found another footpath that would take us to our next cache. The walk was quiet and easy as we passed down the side of a school before arriving at a cross paths where we turned right and headed through a farm field in the direction of our old friend the M25 motorway. As we walked my nostrils were filled with the tantalising sweet smell of blackberries and Shar confirmed to me that they were indeed growing on the brambles to our right. We really must remember to pack an empty container in future to snap up some of this free fruit while it is in season… thing is we are a bit short on plastic containers, because we keep hiding them in the woods. Soon the bramble was left behind and we crossed the rest of the field with the merest hint of sprouting crops on both sides, which we hypothesised to be some variety of winter veg. Aside from a dog walker we saw no one else as we reached, and then crossed over, the M25. The path led us across more arable land to a T junction of paths where we turned right and marched on toward our second cache of the day which was simply called A View (GC2HQZT).

With a name like this our expectations of the vista that would present itself upon reaching GZ were high as we hiked along the wide track towards a point where hedges marked a boundary in the fields and flanked the path on both sides. Our hint directed us to look at the bottom of a post but we struggled to find any posts at all. The cache had not been found since January and as had been indicated by previous cachers, the area was very overgrown. On closer inspection Shar spotted some posts on the left of the track but searching these revealed nothing. Eventually she managed to spot some posts on the other side of the path but was dismayed to find that they were buried about six feet into the dense and prickly hedge.

Paul is pictured on his hands an knees with only his backside visible to the camera. The rest of him is buried deep in the hedge in search of the cache

Explain this to a muggle!

There was nothing else for it but to get down on my hands and knees and get in the hedge in order to check out the posts. The first one yielded nothing and after a painful extraction we moved to the left and tried the next one. This turned up nothing either. Feeling somewhat scratched and battered Shar directed me the other way to a likely looking corner post that she had spotted. Again on my hands and knees and almost at full stretch, I was at last rewarded with the feel of a small metal bison tube hanging from the wire at the bottom of the post. When I unscrewed the body of the container from the cap, I found that the log inside was so wet as to be practically pulp and there was no way we were going to be able to sign it. I stayed in this rather compromising position while Sharlene fetched a fresh log sheet and tissue from my bag so I could perform a little cache maintenance. Having done my good turn for the day and feeling pleased as punch to have found a cache that hadn’t been found previously for such a long time, I then set about removing myself from the hedge. The smug feeling lasted only about 10 seconds as I then proceeded to mistake a pile of horse poo for my rucksack and stuck my hand in it… perfect! As for the view… well Shar reckons it was ‘nice enough’, what do you think?
The view from the GZ of A VIEW is across farm fields with the M25 in the distance and more fields and the rest of south west hertfordshire beyond.

The view from A VIEW

After a little personal maintenance to wipe the horse poo from my fingers, we headed back towards the t junction of paths and continued on towards our next cache, Boulder hide (GC2HMQR). On the way we passed a woman leading two horses whilst having a conversation on her mobile phone. This got me to thinking, is it legal to use a mobile phone whilst on a horse. Internet to the rescue. Turns out it isn’t technically illegal to use a phone whilst on a horse just bloody stupid. It is however illegal to use a phone that isn’t hands free in a car or on a bike so horse riders have a distinct advantage there. On a slight tangent, it is, however, illegal to be drunk in charge of a horse on a public highway… just saying! I am unsure whether it is a crime or not to be in charge of a drunk horse.

This slightly bonkers line of conversation caused us to almost walk past the GZ and miss the cache. Once we realised this Shar quickly spotted a tell-tale pile of rocks that could only be the hide. Sure enough upon sticking my hand in the hole I pulled out the cache. This too was sopping wet, with water actually collecting in the bottom of the container and all the contents being mush. Out with the cache maintenance kit again and soon the lock n’ lock box was being replaced in its hiding place with a fresh log sheet inside a protective plastic bag. I hid the box a little better and wrestled a rock across the opening to conceal it a bit more and to perhaps protect it a little from the elements.

Carrying on along the path our next cache, View the wind turbine (GC2KNPZ), was to be found nestled in the bowl of a tree just to the side of the path. As this container was off the floor, the condition of the log and the rest of the contents were much better than the previous caches so the maintenance kit stayed in the bag this time. As for the title of the cache, there was indeed a very good view of, what I believe to be Hertfordshire’s biggest and possibly only Wind turbine. Little did I know it but we would get a lot closer to the turbine at the site of our next cache.

This Wind Turbine is far away!

This Wind Turbine is far away!

After replacing the container we strode on towards the next cache. Even though the direct line of sight distance to this cache was only about 500 metres we knew we would have to follow the path around the edge of the farm fields which would more than double that distance. We didn’t mind though as the weather was good and the walking was relatively easy, although there was probably one or two more uphill slopes than Sharlene would have liked. The footpath soon turned into a dirt track, which eventually widened and then joined up with a road just before it crossed the nearby railway line. We did have the option to divert over the railway and along the canal that ran next to it to pick up a cache at the old Ovaltine factory but we opted to leave this one for a day when we were walking the canal. If you don’t know what Ovaltine is, it is a hot malty eggy drink thing… ok that isn’t a great description but the Wikipedia entry for Ovaltine can do a better job. Suffice to say that when they first started making it in this country in 1909 they built a factory on the banks of the Grand Union canal next to the train line. The factory is now luxury apartments and duplexes but part of the facade of the factory still remains.

Our route took us away from the site of the factory and down Egg farm lane. I have now realised with a head slapping ‘doh!’ moment that when the Ovaltine factory was still in operation they would have needed a hell of a lot of eggs and what better way to achieve this than to have your own egg farm, which is what they did. The farm no longer exists and on its site now is the headquarters of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) which is a company that builds wind farms around the world. They are the owners of the aforementioned wind turbine which provides enough power to fulfil their needs and pipe a bit back into the national grid too. The walk to GZ took us right past the turbine and I have to say that it is quite a sight to see up close… even I could manage to make out its shape. The turbine itself was purchased by RES from a farm in Holland and they have turned the story of how ‘Lofty’ came to be nestling on the side of the M25 in Kings Langley into a really cute online children’s book called Lofty Finds A New Home.



As for the cache,What no view of the M25 (GC2M7M4) we found it easy enough just behind a tree at the side of the road. Shar was surprised to see how exposed it was to passers-by and so we re-hid it a bit better before carrying on down the lane which eventually took us back over the M25. We had just 3 more caches left to do before we could head back to the car where sandwiches and cake would be waiting.

On the other side of the motorway we were soon once again on a footpath that led us back through farm fields towards our next cache, The Dog Walkers’ path (GC2HDHD). Once at GZ we started searching behind fence posts as directed and soon had the sample tube container in hand. Shar was slightly confused to find none of the names of the cachers who had found it recently listed on the log. We checked on the geocaching app and it appears that after a string of DNFs, the cache owner had put a new replacement container out in April this year, but we had actually managed to locate the old container that apparently no one else could find. We were a little perplexed as the hide had not been a particularly tricky one and then we started wondering whether the replacement container could be found as well. After a bit of rooting around in the undergrowth at the base of the same post, sure enough I pulled out a 35mm film pot. We were a little confused as to what to do next but in the end we resolved to re-hide both containers and contact the cache owner to let him know that the old sample tube had reappeared and if he wanted to reclaim the replacement cache it was sitting snuggly next to it.

Backtracking a little we then turned onto a path that after a short way led us back into the civilisation of the houses of Abbots Langley. We didn’t have to suffer this urbanisation for long though :) as the arrow soon took us into a small patch of woodland that nestled on to the edge of the village. We started off following a well laid path but soon found ourselves on smaller and less distinct trails as we threaded our way up a steep slope into the trees. With a name like Tom’s Tricky Treasure (GC31PEY) we got the feeling that this was not going to be an easy find. We split up and started trying to zero in on the cache but the poor GPS coverage had us zig zagging back and forth. The cache was described as being somewhat off the path and so we started venturing in amongst the undergrowth and trees. I found the terrain pretty difficult going to be honest as whilst trees and bushes don’t normally present me much of a problem the unevenness of the ground kept catching me out. Ditches and slopes just kept appearing out of the greenery with no warning and one minute I was suddenly stumbling into a hollow and the next I was struggling to stay upright as I tried to clamber up a slope; all the time being scratched and snagged by nature. I managed to fall over whilst standing still which really takes some doing I can tell you. One minute I was upright and the next I shifted my weight slightly and my feet were sliding away from me and I landed rather heavily on my right hip. No lasting damage although I do feel a significant area of bruising there now.

Little by little Shar and I were getting further apart caught up in our own search for the cache and being constantly deceived by our GPS devices. My tolerance was starting to wear down when I heard Shar call something to me. I could barely hear her and it took a few minutes of us both shouting to actually be able to find one another again. She had found a likely spot but needed me to ‘go in’ and check it out. So yet again I was on my hands and knees and crawling into the undergrowth in pursuit of ‘something blue’ that Shar had noticed. Unfortunately it turned out to be some random bit of plastic and not a container. By this point I had reached my limit and said that I was ready to give up but by the time I had extracted myself from the bushes and brushed myself off, Shar had vanished and was calling to me from somewhere else. This time she had found the cache! Apparently in a spot that she was sure I had already checked… this is extremely likely as my searches are less than thorough sometimes. It didn’t matter though as the cache was in hand and I could drop off the Interception TB that I had been holding on to for over a week now.

Our last destination of the day was to be the final of the multi cache bones17 Abbots walkabout (GCJRMV). It was very nearby to our current position and in fact was only just over the minimum distance that the rules state that physical stages of caches should be apart. We followed a handful of winding trails through the trees until we met up with a wide and most definitely man made path that led us to within 20 metres of GZ. The hint said that we were looking for a fallen tree and there was a massive one right to the left of the path. After fighting our way in through the trees we located the tree and evidence that the locals had been using this spot for the odd party or two… but no cache. After a while we turned to the logs and noticed more than one comment stating that they had been initially distracted by the massive red herring. Obviously this large tree was not the hide and so we set about looking for something else nearby. Again we split up but it wasn’t long before Shar was calling me over, not to tell me she had found the cache, but that she had found the log sheet. Sure enough she held a tattered log in her hands that showed signs of being attacked by a dog or similar wild animal. Just to the side of the path at this point Shar could see a fallen tree in amongst the undergrowth and when we got in there we discovered the container and lid on the ground. Feeling like the veritable Red Cross of geocaches today we again set about maintenance and placing the still usable log in a protective plastic bag we reunited it with the container and hid it back where the hint suggested it should have been.

Delighted at having found all eight of our planned caches and feeling good about the maintenance that we had carried out today we headed off back to the car where a much needed pack lunch awaited us.

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A Fistfull of Muggles

On Sunday we took our friend Nina and her two children, Bela (11) and Alek (10) out on their first ever geocaching adventure. I chose some of the CaptainJack Common Wood caches near Hazlemere in Buckinghamshire as I felt that the short distance between the hides and beautiful countryside surroundings to be an excellent backdrop in which to demonstrate the wonders of geocaching to a family of muggles. :)

When you have a hobby that you really enjoy, such as geocaching, often you find yourself wanting to encourage your friends to take it up too, or at least give it a go. One reason for this, I believe, is that many pastimes are often enhanced when they are shared, enabling joint experiences and alternative perspectives to be experienced. If, dear reader, you too are a geocacher then I expect that at some point you have considered introducing one or more of your friends to the hobby. Whether you realise it or not the process of converting a muggle is normally made up of a few distinct stages.

Stage 1 is when the topic of what you did at the weekend comes up in conversation, and for the first time you reveal to your friend that you are a geocacher. The most likely response to this is, “GeoWhat?” So you spend a few minutes explaining it to them and their reaction will determine if you progress to stage 2. If they laugh at you, think the whole thing is silly, lose interest, or change the subject then you probably write them off as a terminal muggle. If however they show some interest, even if it is in conjunction with seeming a bit bemused by it all then you file this away and as some point escalate to the next level.

Stage 2 occurs when next the topic of geocaching comes up. If they bring it up asking whether you have been again since the last time you talked about it, or mention that they looked at the website after you spoke then you know you are well and truly progressing. Now you feel able to talk in a little more detail about your experiences of geocaching, the finer mechanics of it, the benefits and how it can be enjoyed in so many different ways depending on what sort of person you are. At the end of this conversation you throw out a teaser like “Perhaps you could come along some time?” or “I bet your kids would love it, I could show you the ropes if you like?” Their response to this varies enormously ranging from “Great, I’ll get my coat.” to “err, I don’t think so.” and everything in between. Assuming they don’t laugh in your face or immediately show you the door, then all that remains is to progress to the final phase.

Stage 3 is to actually take them out and show them the wonders of geocaching. Moving between stages 2 and 3 can take just a few hours or alternatively might drag out for days weeks or even months. But when it finally happens you then get the chance to prove that you weren’t just making it all up. You pray for good weather, caches that are all there, no technical problems, no injuries, a gentle downward slope and the wind behind you. And then… finally then… it is up to them; they either like it or they don’t!

And so it was that we arranged a caching adventure for Nina and the kids. First things first, you have to get the prep work done. I did all the cache planning, map squinting and parking spot selection as normal; no point just taking them to a forest and just winging it, that is bound to end badly. They came over to our place first so that we could help Nina get C:GEO installed on her phone and the caches stored for offline use. Getting the app working took a little while, for some reason it wasn’t quite storing the geocaches properly and we weren’t getting a compass icon which would allow her to actually navigate to the hides. Nina, being a swot, had already set up her geocaching.com free account and so when the app was installed she just needed to log in with her new caching name, Fistfull. We eventually got the glitch sorted; not really sure what the resolution was but reinstalling the app seemed to do the trick. With all the prep done, we headed off to Buckinghamshire to see if we could convert our muggle friends into geocachers. :)

Common Wood in Buckinghamshire is a beautiful area of woodland with well-defined paths running all around and through it, along which had been placed 23 caches. We had planned to take on 12 of them and as we left the car and headed into the woods the weather was perfect, the going underfoot was firm and dry. And the kids sounded excited. It was great for Sam to have two friends around his age to explore the woods with and while we introduced Nina to the basic of C:GEO they disappeared off into the trees laughing; eager to find hidden treasure. Soon we were approaching our first hide and after explaining to Bela and Alek what sort of thing to look for they scrambled around along with Sam, all wanting to make the first find. It was Bela who found the cache, and it was great to hear the excitement as it was retrieved and its contents examined. Once everything had been pulled out, inspected and then replaced, the log book was signed and off we went to find more caches.

Bela and Sam inspect the cache with Alek in the background

First find for Fistfull

We spent the next few hours in the woods searching for tupperware, the sounds of children laughing and shouting filling our ears. Nina soon got to grips with the app and how it all worked and both Bela and Alek took turns in following the compass arrow. Whilst Nina was a little timid about getting amongst nature her enquiring mind and curiosity had her searching high and low, if not actually amongst the undergrowth then from the path with a keen eye. Bela and Alek on the other hand were quite happy to head off the path and get in amongst the nettles and bushes. Sticks were found and employed as poking devices for the more sinister looking holes but no stone was left unturned in order to find the treasure.
Sam, Bela and Alek search for the woods with sticks

Leaving no stone unturned

Bela, Alek and Sam all found caches and even Sharlene managed to find a couple which was not easy seeing as the kids were normally all over the GZ like a swarm of bees long before us adults had even arrived. Only Nina, and myself didn’t manage to claim a find on the day but I suspect that she was OK with that for the moment, just seeing Bela and Alek having a good time was reward enough. Aside from the geocaching, there was much fun had in the woods with the kids finding interesting bits and bobs all around such as a feather that sported almost camouflage style colouring and a fossil imprinted into a stone. Perhaps the find of the afternoon was the tyre swings that were discovered right next to the last find of the day.
Alek is a blur in mid swing while Sam climbs on to the swing next door as Shar watches

Kids enjoy the Tyre Swing

Nine is silhouetted swinging on the tyre swing

Big kid enjoys the tyre swing

I couldn’t have planned a better introduction to geocaching really. The surroundings were lovely, the weather good, there were lots of easy finds, sadly but inevitably a DNF and we even bumped into some other geocachers on the way round too.

Like I said when it comes down to it, you can’t force people to like something you can just introduce them to it and hope they find the experience enjoyable. I think our friends did enjoy themselves, Bela certainly seems to have a natural ability for locating caches, finding 5 of the 11 caches on the day. Alek seemed to have fun too although I think he got a little frustrated at how many his sister kept finding before he had a chance to start searching. But boys being boys, he and Sam always had their favourite pastime of attacking the woods with sticks to fall back on. I know Sam certainly enjoyed having his friends along providing chat and perspectives much more in line with his own rather than those of Mum and Dad as normal.

Alek, Bela and Sam pose in the woods

The Geokids

Shar and I certainly relished having the company of a good friend to enrich the geocaching experience and I like to think Nina had a great time too. I don’t know if they will make the full transition from muggles to geocachers but if nothing else it was a fantastic afternoon out in the great British countryside with friends, nature, sandwiches and tupperware. Happy days indeed.
Shar and Nina

Shar and Nina

Now crack the whip Nina and get Bela and Alek writing those logs!

As I am such a nice friend here are the links to the geocaches on geocaching.com in the order we did them.
Horses (GC3CQKD)
Fallen Again (GC3CQKV)
A Common Hide (GC3CQKX)
Rooted to the spot (GC3CQME)
Post a field note (GC3CQN3)
Little Penn (GC3CQNF)
Lion’s Farm (GC3CQNP) This was our only DNF
Behind (GC4EVB2)
Flint (GC4EVC0)
Base (GC4EVCD)
Fallen (GC3CQk7)
Swinging (GC3BYVT)

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It is always intriguing when something a little different falls into your lap, that is of course assuming that that the something different isn’t an annoyed cat with claws at full extension! Thankfully it was not a perturbed pussy having a hissy fit that found its way into my metaphorical lap recently, but a travel bug, more specifically, Interception Bug 2.

In conjunction with its counterparts, Interception Bug 1 and Interception Bug 3, it is possible to determine a shiny set of coordinates where the mystery cache, Interception (GCGY6N), can be found. The TBs are just pieces of card that have been laminated, but it is what is written on them that is of interest. Each one contains 3 unique values that, when combined with those on the other two cards and inserted into a formula, will reveal the location of the geocache container. In order to find the cache you need to physically find all three of the travel bugs. This is easier than it sounds as, in theory, they could be anywhere in the country. The rules state that the travel bugs must remain within the UK, but otherwise that they are free to be moved around like any other trackable item.

I knew none of this until we drove to Ely to meet my mother (Lavender Bill) who was “handing back” Sam who had been spending a week up in Norfolk with her and Granddad Peter. Whilst out caching local to where they live, they had happened upon this TB and grabbed it. That is how it came to be in my possession, but it wasn’t until I got home and plugged in the old internet thingy that the full story became clear.

My first eyebrow raising moment came when I found out who had dropped the TB in Norfolk. It happened to be none other than Bones1, who is a local cacher to us and one who I have had cause to mention on more than one occasion in this blog, most notably as being the first geocacher we ever met in the flesh after only having been caching for about a week or so. Bones1 had been visiting Norfolk to attend an annual event, Bucket and spade time Again!! (GC57A6V), held on the beach in Old Hunstanton. He wasn’t aware that my mother lives not far from there and he didn’t, therefore, realise that he had dropped the TB in the cache closest to her home. So a cacher who lives just a few miles from us in Watford, travelled approximately 90 miles to attend an event and dropped a TB into a cache less than a mile from where my mum resides, who then retrieves it and brings it to us, resulting in the TB ending up back in Watford just a short distance from where it started off less than 2 weeks ago.

So having discovered the purpose of the TB my attention turned to where the others were. I feared that they could be anywhere in the country and was prepared to resign myself to not finding them. On the contrary, it turned out that Interception Bug 1 was currently languishing in Portland (GC51PB8), not too far away, on the other side of Hemel Hempstead. On a hunch I contacted our friends Smokeypugs who knew of the cache and said that it was pretty much on his route to work and offered to go retrieve it the next day. True to his word he did and a few days later we were able to meet so that we could “discover” each other’s TBs. So now we both had the information from Interception Bugs 1 and 2… that just left number 3.

Interception Bug 3 turned out to be in the hands of connie159, who I had communicated with once before when we did their Stubbings Wood series of caches in Tring (Stubbings Wood – Do bogeys smell of fish?). I could see my chance here to get my hands on the missing TB but before I could contact them, they dropped it off. The geocache that they had left the TB in was in St. Albans which is only a short drive away, so I let Smokeypugs know and also made plans for us to travel over there to retrieve the TB in the next day or so. Before we could get there though it moved again and I groaned as I realised that it could end up going anywhere.

Luckily though the person who collected it, JDOT67, had investigated its recent history and also that of the other 2 bugs and knew that I was wanting to get my hands on it. My eyebrows shifted even higher and were in danger of leaving my head altogether as fantastically, he is also a member of our local Facebook group – Beds, Bucks and Herts Geocachers. I was delighted to see a message pop onto the group stating that he had retrieved the bug, knew that I was looking for it and would be dropping it into a Watford cache over the next day or so. Sure enough yesterday I got a watch notification to say that the TB had been placed in Garage for birds and frogs (GC4MCF9), which was a cache I knew well, in fact it had been our 200th (see 200th Geocache), almost exactly a year ago, and so we were able to grab it later that day.

Amazingly we have managed to locate all three of the TBs and now are in possession of the necessary information to go find the container. I have worked out the coordinates and the cache is somewhere in the vicinity of Tring which is about a half hour drive away and so I am currently in search of a good reason to head out that way to be able to snap up this interesting geocache and complete another caching adventure… I will keep you posted.

So dear reader, have you had any similar, interesting Mystery cache experiences that require travel bugs in order to locate the container?

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Our Kicks on Route 66… in Chorleywood

With Sam having a fantastic time up in Norfolk with his Nanny and after Shar and I had spent a couple of days being wonderfully lazy we thought it was time we did something slightly more energetic than lifting the remote control or walking between the computer and the dining table. Feeling particularly daring we decided to challenge ourselves to try and beat our record for the number of geocaches that we could find in a single day. After considering a few alternatives, I decided on a series called Route 66 which is in the Chorleywood area, just a few miles to the west of where we live. There are 17 trads in the series and I had identified a further 6 that were either on the walking route or would only require a short detour to reach. Assuming we could find all of these then that would make a total of 23 finds which would better our current personal best by two.

With the caches loaded onto our phones, sandwiches and snacks packed and a complete lack of urgency we ambled out of the house just before lunchtime. During the short drive to Chorleywood I was surprised that the sat nav woman who normally is obsessed with taking us on the motorway even if we are only travelling a mile or so, had today decided to avoid the M25 and take us on normal A roads to our destination. I was particularly surprised by this, not because I am some sort of OCD freak that constantly monitors what the sat nav does; no honest, I am not; but because I knew that the Route 66 series crossed the M25 right by junction 17 and therefore I would assume that Mistress Sat Nav would conclude that the only logical option was to take us on it, but she didn’t!

OK enough about the bloody sat nav already!

We arrived at the parking coordinates which was the car park of the William Penn Leisure Centre. Having spent the last year geocaching in and around Buckinghamshire I have noticed quite a few references to Penn. There is a wood called Penn Wood and a whole area called Penn and road and street names with Penn in them and now a very modern Leisure centre named after William Penn… so what is it all about?

[clackerty clackerty] [click click] [clackerty clackerty]

Yada Yada Yada, load of history stuff upshot of it seems to be a connection to the Penn Family around the time of Elizabeth the first. It’s the same family as William Penn who Pennsylvania is named after in America. Not sure why the namesake of an US state gets a leisure centre named after him, but there you go. Interestingly it appears that no one who was involved in creating the website for the leisure centre knew or cared why it was named after this man as there is no mention of it at all. I realise that I am waffling again, sorry about that. After parking up we immediately got down to the geocaching… after we had eaten some lunch.

The beginning of the Route 66 series was just a few hundred metres from the parking coordinates but, helpfully, there were two unconnected caches to find before we got there, the first of which, William Penn (GC1PPEJ), was barely out of the car park. Skirting around the edge of some tennis courts we found ourselves at the beginning of a footpath that led around a large field. We could see the M25 in the distance and I knew that the first of the Route 66 caches lay in that direction, but our attention was on the matter in hand which was to locate a 35mm film pot that was right near the start of the footpath. It being a magnetic hide and there only being a finite amount of metal to search, it wasn’t long before we had the cache in hand and were signing our first log of the day. So to add to the town, civil parish, wood, street and road names and leisure centre we could now add a geocache to the list of eponymous items relating to Mr Penn.

From here we walked around the edge of the field and then parallel with a road that wound towards the Motorway up ahead of us. Cutting through the hedge at a convenient point and crossing the road put us on the right side of the street and less than 100 metres from our second cache of the day, Quite Stylish – not any more (GC1PPHF). The name suggested that we would be seeking out if not the remains of an old stile, then at least the spot where one used to be and we quickly found the start of a footpath that led away from the road. The phones confirmed that this was indeed GZ and we commenced our search for another magnetic micro. Feeling a little exposed, being directly in between a house and some other sort of larger building we had hoped for a quick find, but it took us close to 5 minutes before we finally located the little bleeder hidden in amongst the foliage at the side of the path, obviously clinging to a lump of metal. I guess this was possibly the site of an old stile; now removed; because we sure as hellfire couldn’t see the remains of one anywhere.

As we left GZ to get to our next cache we noticed that the building we had been searching next to was in fact a Jehovah’s Witness place of worship so we were lucky to get out of there without being pounced upon or at the very least clutching a copy of the watch tower magazine. Amusingly, next door to this was the Chorleywood Working Men’s club and this conjured up some wonderful images of Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to preach the word to the half cut working men of Chorleywood. Either that or the Witnesses becoming tempted by the draw of the alcohol and sounds of revelry coming from the working club, sneaking out in between bible classes for a swift half and a whiskey chaser!

Leaving these bizarre thoughts behind we walked further down the road to where it passed under the hulking mass of the M25. Following the provided instructions we climbed the steps just before this and turned left to walk alongside the motorway towards the first of the Route 66 caches. I was expecting the roar of the traffic to be unbearable here but it was amazingly quiet. As we walked, we couldn’t quite see the carriageway due to it being slightly elevated above our position and the banking being covered in trees and bushes. Glad to be starting the series proper now we strode out along the footpath with some fantastic views to our left across open fields towards the urban sprawl in the distance. The sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds and when the sun broke through it was warm on our faces. Gradually the path started to incline as it passed into a small cluster of trees and our phones told us that the GZ of Route 66- 1 – Yosemite National Park (GC2A6V4) was very close. It was hard to get a fix at first and eventually we decided that we needed to leave the path and head into the trees a little. We made our way down a slope through the trees and were soon getting readings of a couple of metres. We were looking for a dreaded micro in an Ivy covered tree and there were quite a few to choose from. There was nothing else for it but to get started looking so Shar and I found a tree each and got on with it. 20 minutes and a lot of trees later and we still didn’t have the cache in hand. Sharlene had pointed out to me a couple of very distinctive looking trees and I spent the best part of 10 of those minutes feeling every inch of their numerous limbs to no avail. Neither of us wanted to give up but it seemed inevitable that we would have to mark the first one down as a DNF. Just as we were working our way back up to the path Sharlene spotted the cache tucked in amongst the ivy vines around a tree. We had been fooled into thinking we were looking for a tree with full on ivy all over it but this tree merely had the twirling vines wrapped around it with no actual leaves. With a massive sigh of relief Shar plucked it from its hiding place and we signed the log.

A pleasant countryside stretches out in front of the camera. In the distance somewhere is bound to be a town.

The view away from the M25

After we made our way back up through the trees we continued on along the path in search of Route 66 – 2 – Central Park, NYC (GC2A6WV). As we walked, the path came level with the M25 and we could see the carriageways through a gap in the trees to our right. As we stopped at the GZ we soon realised that the reason for the low noise levels was mainly due to the fact that the nearest of the two carriageways was at a complete standstill. Craning to see along the road Shar could see that the traffic jam stretched into the distance in both directions. Not wanting to bring up the whole sat nav thing again, but perhaps this is the reason why she decided to avoid the motorway today in favour of the A roads as I think she does receive alerts of heavy traffic and reroutes accordingly. While I stood blindly gazing in the direction of the cars and Shar bent down searching for the cache which was hidden under some bits of rock, the relative quietness allowed me to recognize the tell-tale sound of a horse blowing behind me. I was somewhat surprised to be meeting a horse along here but not as surprised as Shar when she stood up sharply upon hearing the sound. Apparently according to google when a horse makes the blowing sound it means they are curious which seems entirely plausible. The horse was effectively saying, what the heck are you two nutters doing looking under those stones. We stepped aside and exchange pleasantries with the horse’s rider and then after they had left we signed the log and replaced the cache.
Traffic stretches into teh distance

We were moving faster than the traffic on the M25

Route 66 – 3 – Hollywood Boulevard (GC2A6XB) Was further along the same path and I would love to offer commentary on the search and retrieval of the cache but by the time I had arrived at GZ which was to the left of the path, just a few paces behind Shar, she had already plucked the 35mm film pot from its hiding place which I am reliably told was inside a small hole near the base of a tree concealed by some rock-a-flauge. We continued on along the side of the motorway although the path deviated a little away from the road to negotiate an electricity substation and then cross over a road that intersected the motorway. The Route 66 – 4 – Forks (GC2A6XJ) was also quickly spotted by Shar to the left of the path but she asked me to retrieve this one from its tall stump as it looked to be home to far too many creepy crawlies for her liking.

The fifth cache in the route 66 series would take us onto a bridge that would lead us over the motorway, but before we did that we continued on along the path and into the woods to try and find another unconnected cache that would be necessary if we were to hit our target for the day. A pot in the woods (GC3A54A) was located just a couple of hundred metres along the path and was placed there by MJS64, who it had been our pleasure to meet at an event just a couple of days before. When the phones told us we were at GZ it was obvious we had to leave the path to find this one but the question was where and how to do this? I opted for the “as the blind man flies” approach and waded in to the undergrowth predictably getting myself hopelessly stuck in a few short moments. Shar on the other hand backtracked along the path and found a small track leading in towards a likely looking hint item. She calmly and with only a little weariness in her voice directed me back out of the undergrowth and back to her via the easier route and then told me to stick my hand in there. I did so and then my forearm and then practically my whole arm disappeared into the hole in the tree before my hands finally touched plastic. I pulled out the cache and passed it to Shar to do the honours.

A few minutes later we were back at the bridge, the point at which we had deviated from the Route 66 series, and were presently at the GZ of Route 66 – 5 – Golden Gate Bridge (GC2A6XV) which was quickly found by Shar to the side of the path just before the actual structure of the bridge started. We signed the log and then walked over the bridge smiling smugly down at the still backed up traffic that lined the carriageway on one side. Once across we quickly found “Old Shire lane”, an ancient right of way that would be our route for the next 4 caches in the series. This thoroughfare is believed to have originally been the dividing line between the old English kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia but now forms the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

The sounds of the motorway slowly diminished as we walked along the edge of a rolling field that spread to our left. To our right a thick line of trees and bushes shielded us from the back gardens of what we would later discover to be some pretty breath-taking properties in the affluent area known as heronsgate. A few cows ambled in the distance and the sun Shon weakly as our ears were again treated to the tweets of birds and the soft sound of the breeze in the trees. Route 66 – 6 – Roswell (GC2A6YB) was easily found hiding under a bush to the right of the path and it looked like Route 66 – 7 – Los Angeles (GC2A6ZN) would be a quick find too as we approached the obvious GZ that was at the site of a stile. The only problem was that there was a family trying to lift not one, but two pushchairs over the stile and so we took our time and waited for them to pass before I then got down to the important job of sticking my foot squarely in a cow pat whereupon I was rewarded with a resounding squelch confirming to me the freshness of the offending pile. Shar retrieved the cache while I hopped around wiping my foot on clumps of grass like some kind of drunken Michael Flatley.

Route 66 – 8 – California Desert (GC2A70G) was just a few hundred metres of cow poo smeared grass clumps away and seemed easy enough from the hint. It was obviously on the fence to our left somewhere near the ground on one of the diagonals. We both thought this would be a quick find and were therefore frustrated as hell to spend about 10 minutes searching in vane. We widened our search but all the time the phones brought us back out into the open where the accuracy was excellent and the fence matched the hint. Finally when I thought I was going completely bonkers Shar spotted a tiny nano cache hanging on the fence. It took all my self-control not to hurl the bleeding thing into the field; the search had been so utterly confounding. As to why anyone would put a nano out in the middle of the beautiful countryside where you could have put a small or even a regular cache is beyond me. Actually, I know exactly what type of person puts nanos in these environments…. Geocachers! I have to admit at having done it on our wall hall series although to be fair that is a magnetic nano and there isn’t that much metal where it is placed. All I can say is that if there ever was a series that was entirely nano caches in the woods then I DO NOT want to hear about it… no really, I don’t.

Thankfully Route 66 – 9 – Slot Canyon (GC2a70N) was a far more predictable small sized container in a hole in a tree, much more what you would expect in these sorts of surroundings. Remembering the map, I knew that this was about the furthest point from the car we were going to get and after a short walk through an urban area we would be back onto footpaths for the long walk back to the car. The next cache was The Swillet (GC1W8J0) and was another one of those essential additional caches that would help us achieve our goal. So far we were on track for 23 still as we had not had to record any DNFs. From reading the logs of this cache I had noted that it was not too far from a children’s playground and we agreed that after finding it we would go in search of a bench to take a break before starting the second leg of our challenge.

Finding the cache was the first obstacle to be overcome though and one that was not easy, as it was described as being in amongst the trees beside a path. There were two possible points of entry about 10 metres apart and both were ferociously guarded by bracken and thick tangles of bushes. Shar examined each entry point closely and decided that the second point looked good and started toward it, then changed her mind and chose the first. Not convinced she backed out and went back to the second point before again reversing her decision. I think we again switched openings once more before finally forcing our way in through the bracken, under some very low tree limbs into a small clearing behind the treeline. From here she confessed that actually the other point would probably have been the better option and so we broke our way out to the path again and I attempted to gain entry where she indicated. This proved quite tricky due to the amount of sharp pointy things but eventually I had fought my way in and started searching for the actual cache. It was described as being in a camo bag hanging in a tree and it has to be said that hanging caches are my all-time least favourites, even lower down on the list than nanos in the woods. After a few minutes of finding nothing except lots of thorns, Shar declared she was coming in and promptly found the cache the moment she arrived. Glad to be able to put this one to bed and go and have a sit down I wasted no time in extracting myself back onto the path.

We allowed ourselves a 10 minute relaxation break sitting on a bench next to the playground where I chomped on some salty nut roll and we took a selfie and uploaded it to Facebook reporting that we had so far found 12 caches with 11 left to go. Actually I was wrong, we had found 13 by this stage but it doesn’t matter, it’s not as if people were checking up on us on Facebook… at least I assume they weren’t.

Paul and Shar sit close together for a selfie at the halfway stage of the walk.

Halfway Selfie

Feeling revitalised we set off again to find Route 66 – 10 – MacDonalds – Free WiFi (GC2A711) which had nothing at all to do with the fast food restaurant but instead referenced the MacDonald’s nursery that was located near GZ. The cache was a magnetic keysafe and had recently been replaced by the CO so we knew it would be there. There was a large gate, some fence and a big sign to search and so I got on with it. There was also a lot of bracken which quite happily attached itself to me at every opportunity. I tried to think logically and decided that seeing as the keysafes were flat it would more than likely be stuck to a flat surface. I searched every flat surface I could find with no luck but eventually found it clinging to the back of a round metal post. Bugger

The footpath gave way to an urban street here and in hindsight we should have turned right and followed the road around to the site of the next cache. Instead we decided to cross the road and carry on down another footpath that passed through some garages and along the back of some houses before then coming out onto another street, as this looked more direct. It wasn’t, and not only that but we soon found ourselves descending at an ever increasing gradient. Down and down we went while the pointer swung further and further right. We pushed on hoping to find a road on the right soon which would take us closer to the cache. Eventually we did and upon turning into it, had to trudge up one of the steepest urban streets I think I have ever walked up. It took us about 300 metres of lateral travelling to get down to the elevation where we turned into this road, but we gained all that elevation back in a distance of less than 100 metres. When we finally made it to the top of the hill we collectively decided not to blame each other for choosing the route we did, we simply didn’t have the energy or the breath to have an argument. Instead we crossed the road, plucked Route 66 – 11 – Alcatraz (GC2A715) from its hiding place and tried to avoid getting run over by the cars as we stood on the narrow pavement.

A view down a steep hill.

I promise you this hill is steeper than it looks

After replacing the cache we turned left and walked along a narrow road without pavements for a short distance before then meeting up with a wide track on the right that led past some derelict farm buildings on our way to Route 66 – 12 – Chicago (GC2A71D), which we found quite easily at the side of the path. Had we not been trying for our personal best the rest of our caches would all be along this track now as it travelled in a straight line all the way back to the M25 where the series finishes and beyond that where the car was parked. But if we had done that then we would have only equalled our personal best of twenty one and so I had identified a couple of unconnected caches that were in a small hamlet that lay off the track to the right. We found the footpath that would lead us to these two caches at the GZ of Route 66 – 13 – Empire State Building (GC2A71K) which we vowed to collect on our return. The footpath dissected two fields and led us out onto a narrow lane. Opposite there was an even narrower lane and we followed it as the cache was directly ahead of us. Our walk took us past some very expensive houses indeed. It was apparent that some very wealthy people lived down here and I felt just a little out of place as we made our way to our destination. Thankfully all the houses were hidden mainly behind fences and lots of trees and high bushes but I expect more than one or two of the properties were monitored by CCTV. With a reference to the fire brigade in the hint of Football Focus #14 Tricky Trees {Forest} (GC46N8K) we suspected we would be looking for a water hydrant sign and sure enough right at the end of the road we saw one and reaching my hand down behind it soon revealed a fake rock cache nestling there. It was a relief to make a quick find here as I didn’t really fancy spending too much time poking around in the bushes.

Turning right we headed up a gentle slope towards the second of our additional caches, Football Focus #15 The Bantams (GC46N8X) and I remarked that the residents probably did not take kindly to people doing these as cache and dashes as the lanes were so narrow that cachers probably ended up using driveways as turning points. Upon reaching the corner of the road Sharlene made a very speedy find of a hanging cache and I reached up and retrieved it for her, holding on to the twig that it was hidden on so as not to forget where to replace it. It took her a little while to sign the log and after a bit my arm started to get tired. I fidgeted a bit and then had a horrible image of me snapping the twig off and so pulled myself together and relaxed my grip just a little.

As we retraced our steps through the hamlet we overheard the crackly sound of a radio playing the commentary to a football match. Sharlene said it was coming from a shed on the other side of a nearby fence. The reception on the radio was awful, you could barely work out what was being said and I marvelled at how this person could afford a stonking massive house in this expensive area but not splash out for a decent radio to listen to the football on.

As we met up with the footpath again I made a quick find of Route 66 – 13 – Empire State Building (GC2A71K) in the top of a wooden post and the weather did its best to deteriorate on us. Standing at the edge of the fields and looking out along the track that we now had to travel the clouds looked ominous and a few spots of rain cooled my skin before quickly evaporating. We pushed on, aware that we were leaving the protection of some trees to be out in the open with the possibility of a downpour but I think we didn’t really mind. The day had been fun and carefree so far and I don’t think a bit of rain could have spoilt it for us now.

Route 66 – 14 – Niagra Falls (GC2A71V) was described as being near water and as we made our way along the deserted track Shar spotted an old water trough to the left of the path. We knew for certain that the cache would be there somewhere and it wasn’t long before it was found and the log duly signed. As we left GZ and started to make our way towards Route 66 – 15 – Grand Canyon (GC2A721) the dark clouds seemed to swirl all around us. In the distance the rain could be seen pouring from the clouds but where we stood at that moment it was dry and the view was pretty breath-taking. Shar took a photo and I did my best Sarah Connor pose from the end of the film Terminator. If you remember, to prove that he is from the future, Kyle Reece describes a photograph that her son, John, gives him to recognize her by when he travels back to her time period to help her defeat the Terminator. It is a picture taken right at the end of the movie when she has defeated the Terminator and Kyle is dead. She is recording audio tapes to help her unborn son understand what has happened here. She is trying to decide what to tell her son about his father who is actually Kyle. As she struggles with this and contemplates the wars and trouble that will beset the world in the future whilst she sits in her beaten up car at a gas station heading into Mexico, a small boy snaps her picture and offers to sell her the photo. This is the picture that she will later give to John… so it can be shown to Kyle later on. Anyway the point is that the photo depicts her staring off into the distance, her face a mask of foreboding and concern, seemingly older beyond her 19 years as she fears for the life of her son and the future of the human race. To heighten the poignancy of the moment a storm is gathering in the distance. It amazes me that I can still remember the photo so clearly now and that moment in the film when the significance of it is truly felt. A truly beautiful piece of filmmaking if you ask me and a moment that I choose to imitate whenever I am presented with a dramatic vista such as the one we had on this day. Sharlene just thinks I look like some sort of model from a frumpy clothing catalogue or middle aged clothes store… sort of “man at C&A”

Paul stands with a lone tree and dark foreboding clouds gathering all around. He stares off to his left into the distance with a contemplative expression on his face.

Contemplating the fate of the planet or Man at C&A

Meanwhile back on the ranch…

The hint said the cache would be found in the crack of the tree and this was the only tree for hundreds of metres. When we reached the tree we started walking round it and Shar soon spotted the deep split that ran from around 6 foot up, down to the base of the trunk. I got to work, pressing my fingers into the split and probing for any sign of the 35mm film pot that we were looking for. After reaching the base of the tree I was confused and perplexed not to have found it and resolved that I must have skipped over it somehow. Again I searched but found nothing and the seed of a DNF started to germinate in my gut. Neither of us wanted to admit that it wasn’t there but the hint was so obvious it simply couldn’t be anywhere else and it wasn’t here. Eventually after we had both search again and even scoured the ground in case it had fallen out, we had to give in and call it a DNF. I did some quick maths… we had currently found 20 caches and there were only 2 more left. That means that we HAD to find both of them in order to set our new record. We could still do it. The two extra caches we had just found had given us a cushion, but that was gone now… there could be no more DNFs.

Nature had done her bit to increase the drama with the fantastic setting and the moody skies and now this DNF had turned a sure gone conclusion into a situation that could go either way. The soundtrack was building again as we made our way to the GZ of Route 66 – 16 – Montreal (GC2A728) which took us right back to the M25, this time on the opposite side of the carriageways to that of where we were before. On the way to this cache the battery on my phone died and whilst I had my external battery to charge it, I shoved the phone in the bag as we walked to avoid trailing a charging lead. Shar was already on her spare battery and now hers was the only phone that was pointing us to the cache. Luckily the coordinates were good and the hint plain and simple and as the cars roared past just a few metres away beyond the trees we signed the log of our 21st cache of the day. We needed just one more… and there was just one more chance left.

Turning left, we walked parallel to the motorway using Shar’s phone to point us in the right direction. The hint told us we would find Route 66 – 17 – Yellowstone National Park (GC2A72F) under a pile of rocks. As we got close, the metres counting down, Shar spotted a likely looking clump of rock-o-flauge and I sighed, relieved that we were going to do it. I squatted down and started pulling away the rocks. All too soon I was down to the earth and there was no cache to be found. I turned over all the rocks thinking it might be a fake rock cache, but nothing. I checked again… still nothing. Shar started scouting for alternatives but there was nothing much at all around us within 10 metres or so. I desperately just started checking any likely spot, rocks or not. Base of posts, under a bush… no luck. My heart sank and the tension increased as we both knew that we wouldn’t be beating our record today. Sighing, we started to trudge up along the path in the general direction of the bridge that would take us to the other side of the motorway but as we did so, Shar spotted another pile of rocks just beyond where we had searched before. She pushed the top stones aside and there nestling like the proverbial Holy Grail was our geocache. A wash of adrenalin ran through me and we whooped and cheered raising our arms to the heavens in celebration of finding our 22nd cache of the day. I practically did a jig as Shar signed the log and we continued to laugh and joke as we made our way under the M25 and back to the car.

Its only 22 geocaches. Lots of people find many many more than that in a day… every day. But it was our challenge… our goal and achieving it was a fantastic way to end a great day out in the English countryside enjoying the excitement of geocaching and all that nature has to offer, with the love of my life by my side and the merest of a remnant of cow poo on the sole of my boot. Happy Days indeed!

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300 in the Dark for MiniKnight

Whilst staying in Norfolk with his Nanny, Sam (MiniKnight) did his first ever night cache, Sandringham Nights (GC4Y4GP). You would be forgiven for thinking that a night cache was simply a geocache that you find at night. It is in fact one that can usually ONLY be found at night, or more precisely, when it is dark. Generally you will be given starting coordinates and then instructed to follow the path as indicated by reflective marker tacks that have been fixed to objects such as posts or trees. During the daytime you will be hard pressed to find these markers but when it is dark and with the aid of a powerful torch or two, a hidden trail of markers will be revealed to you, leading you, hopefully, to the cache. Other types of night caches use writing and symbols that can only be seen under UV light and in order to do these caches you will need some device that emits UV light. I am a little jealous to be honest as Sam managed to do a night cache even before I have, but I am very proud of him and indeed his Nanny and Granddad who accompanied him in the spooky woods of the Sandringham Estate. Click here to read more

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