Far be it from me to start one of my blog entries by discussing something other than the recent weather and what we planned to do as a result. The weather on Wednesday was looking like it was going to be very good, with even the promise of a little sun, so we made a plan to tackle a series of geocaches called Flutey’s Trail in Hillingdon, Uxbridge which is to the west of London.
We have been to Uxbridge once before; on a very cold and blustery day at the end of last year when we set out to try the Uxbridge Stroll caches. We were left less than impressed with what the area had to offer. It has to be said that it was a very cold day and trying to find much that was positive to take away from what is essentially urban caching is very difficult, or at least that is what we are coming to conclude. Having said that we were keen to give the pplace another go, to give it the benefit of the doubt and not right it off completely, plus, as always, we were lured there with the promise of smileys.
According to the descriptions of the Flutey’s Trail Caches this walks designed to take you round some of the nicer parts of Hillingdon and we were therefore a little surprised that the parking coordinates took us to an enormous sports and leisure centre right slap bang next to the A40 Westway. In all honesty I wasn’t too surprised that it was so close to the A40, after all I did look at the map before we went, staring at maps for hours on end is of course what geocachers do, when they are not geocaching. …Read the full article here-!>
On Saturday we attended a geocaching event to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Village Signs cache series. This series has over 70 caches in it now and was created by our friends Geoff and Melissa who go by the caching name of Smokeypugs. Whilst they have created many of the caches themselves anyone can add to the series by creating their own village sign cache anywhere in the world… all you need is a village sign.
In the UK, the tradition of village signs is believed to have started in Norfolk early in the 20th century when Edward VII suggested that village signs would aid motorists and give a feature of interest on the Royal Estate of Sandringham. The spread of interest beyond Norfolk can be attributed to Prince Albert, Duke of York who gave a speech to the Royal Academy in 1920 promoting the wider use of village signs. Since then signs have started appearing in villages and towns all over the country with great numbers of them being created around times of national importance such as the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and subsequent jubilees as well as the turn of the Millennium.
The signs themselves ar often great works of art and tell many stories of their own, particular to the villages and towns that they are being used to represent. The Village Sign geocaches are generally placed very close to the actual signs and as well as being the source of another smiley for you you can often learn some very interesting information about the sign and indeed the location where it is placed from the cache description. For example Take the village sign cache at Ringstead in Norfolk (VS# 13 Ringstead – GC4C2JB) which We logged last year as it is not far from where my mum lives. From the cache description we can learn the following :-
Ringstead Village Sign
“The village sign is made to represent the villages many constitute parts. Starting with the roundels, the cross keys represent St Peters church sadly now a ruin with just a part of the tower standing as a listed building. The other roundel with a white cross represents our remaining church of St Andrew watching sedately over the village in the high street. Moving up the sign we come to the central area depicting on the lower left in beige the main cereal crop at the time of manufacture, barley, then a white line representing Ringstead’s position on Peddars Way. To the right of Peddars Way the green area depicts the other main crop at the time, sugar beet. A vintage tractor symbolizing the villages long standing farming traditions completes the lower portion of the inner circle. At the top of the inner circle starting from the left is St Peters tower, the chapel, St Andrews church, Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee tree and the windmill are depicted. The inner circle symbolises the main village and the outer circle represents the outer fringes of the parish.”
So far we have found about half a dozen of the VS caches and hope to be able to find many more in the future. There are quite a number of them not too far away and even though they all belong to a single series the caches themselves are all very different, some being traditionals whilst others are multis or even puzzle caches. It was great to attend the event which was luckily not too far away from us in a Pub, and we got to put a few more faces to names in our local caching community as well as catch up with some we already knew. On top of all that I got to have a nice pint of Real Ale into the bargain.
So take a look around your local area, you might find a Village Sign geocache not too far away from you. If not, and your town or village has a sign then why not create a VS cache yourself. If you are interested in adding to the series them please contact smokeypugs via their geocaching.com profile so that they can keep track of numbers etc.
On Sunday it was time for another Pugwash adventure. The name Pugwash is a mish-mash of the caching name of our friends Geoff and Melissa who are Smokeypugs and our caching name which is washknight. Some of you may remember that there was a children’s cartoon called Captain Pugwash back in the early 1970s on the BBC, but if not, fear not, you can learn all about the legend on the Captain Pugwash Wikipedia page.The TV series was accompanied with a jaunty theme tune and one or more of us can be heard mimicking it on the days when Smokeypugs and Washknight team up to go geocaching as team Pugwash.
Unlike the good captain, our adventure was to be on land this time, although at times you would be forgiven for thinking that the sea was not far off as the ground in places was awash with mud and puddles. After forgoing our original plan of heading to Langley Park, which is to the west of London on the Buckinghamshire / Berkshire border due to reports of some of it being under considerable amounts of water, we plumped for a series called the Royal Standard of England, in a place called Forty Green not far from Penn in Buckinghamshire. The series is so called as it forms a figure of eight with a pub of the same name as the series at its centre.
The Royal Standard of England is one of a number of establishments in England that lays claim to being the oldest pub in the country. The details of the argument are far too technical to actually care about and the lengths to which some people seem to have gone to prove the case of one or another establishment seem somewhat disproportionate to be honest. A Wikipedia entry concerning the dispute between the Royal Standard and another nearby drinking house about who was the oldest pub in Buckinghamshire alone had to be removed from the site after the argument became too heated. Other drinking establishments claiming to be the oldest include “The Trip to Jerusalem” in Nottingham and Ye old Fighting Cocks in St Albans, Hertfordshire, the latter of which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest ale house in the country being thought to be an 11th century building on an 8th century site.
It is probably wildly unfair of me to state that the lack of capacity of the sewage facilities in the Village of Manea has been a constant concern to the parish council and residents alike for a very long time… but my lacklustre internet research leads me to believe this not only to be true, but also to be amongst the ten most interesting things about the place. It is, however, a good job that most of the other things on the list are compelling enough to warrant a visit to the small village that nestles in amongst the Ouse wash area of Fenland in Cambridgeshire. Whilst the existence of twenty geocaches in and around the farms, churches and nature reserve of the region might not feature high on many of the residents list of reasons to visit, it was, however, the main reason why we were there.
Manea is about a 2 hour drive from where we live and you might be wondering, therefore, why we were so far from home as there are hundreds if not thousands of caches in our local area as I have previously mentioned. This week was half term and we had arranged to meet my mum in a location that was roughly equidistant between our homes for some geocaching fun. We picked the best day in terms of weather and checked to see that there was little or no evidence of flooding on route and made a plan to tackle the Manea Meander series of caches which is laid out in a figure of eight route around the village. Oh and before we go any further, it is pronounced “May knee” not Manea as it is spelt. It is Important to get that right off the bat so you don’t sound like a clueless tourist, should you ever visit.
It is hard to believe that it has been less than 9 months since we started geocaching and yet here we are logging our 500th find. When we first started, every cache seemed to be an accomplishment in its own right, and as our enjoyment for the pastime has grown so has the sense of achievement at reaching each official milestone. We chose a multi cache called Combination Conundrum in Hemel Hempstead to mark the occasion. We specifically selected a multi to ensure we would have a different type than those that we have done for our previous milestones. There is a challenge cache that requires you to find 6 different cache types for your milestones and including this one for our 500th, that means we now have 3 being traditional, puzzle and multi. The down side is that our next milestone is 1000, then 2000 and then 3000 so it will be a long time before we could potentially qualify for that challenge, but you have to start somewhere.
The cache itself was a really pleasant one, a short walk around a suburban area of Hemel collecting numbers from various pieces of street furniture and then on to the final hide which turned out to be a very cute box fixed to a fence with a combination lock.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes us to reach the 1000 milestone. In some cases where people start close to home and slowly work further away almost always finding their closest cache. It could conceivably take longer to reach the higher milestone due to the extended distance that would need to be travelled for each cache. In our case, whilst we have found a lot of local caches we have also done a lot of caching days that are slightly further afield and therefore we hopefully won’t suffer that same problem. Either way I would be surprised if we weren’t celebrating our 1000 milestone by the end of 2014.
It has been a few months now since our Street Name Scramble Series has been out there for all to find and I thought it might be interesting to review what has been going on with them. If you want to know more about the caches then look back through the blog entries in the Hiding Geocaches Category. There are 6 hides in all, 5 scrambles containing clues to lead you to the bonus cache.
Since they have been placed we have had 13 cachers come searching for one or more of the hides. In total there have been 55 find logs over the 6 caches with number 1 being the most found, a total of 12 times. 6 people have found all of the hides and a few more people have just one or two left to find. Considering it is winter now I have been pleased to see that cachers are still making the effort to do our caches even though it is few than you would expect if the weather was better. pah… don’t get me started on the weather.
We have had our fair share of containers go missing already. Both Number one and 2 went missing almost as soon as they were placed. Number 5 went missing when the bush it was placed in became subject to some serious cutting back by the council. We did think number 3 had gone walkies as well and after going there ourselves to try and locate it due to the large amount of fallen leaves we came away without being able to confirm whether it was there or not. To our surprise a few days later a local cacher logged a find on it so we can rest easy on that one for a while. As I write this number 1 is temporarily disabled as it has gone missing again and I hope to get a replacement container out there soon.
I have to admit that my plan of placing decent sized containers in an urban environment is proving to involve a fair amount of container replacement as caches get muggled. I am going to persevere with them at the moment and review the situation after a year to see if it is still viable to keep the containers as they are or whether it might be prudent to admit a partial defeat and revert to smaller micro or nano containers.
The thing that I am most proud of though is that across the 6 hides we have received a total of 17 favourite points with all the caches receiving at least 2. This is proof that the concept is a good one and that people are enjoying the experience of locating them. In addition to the favourite points I have received lots of nice logs detailing the antics of those attempting to find our caches.
All in all being a cache owner is a very rewarding experience although it can be a bit stressful at times. We are a lot more relaxed about things now but when we placed our first one we were very sensitive to every little comment made in the logs and at times it got a bit tense. Thanks to some good advice from our caching friends Smokeypugs and the encouragement of the local geocachers we are now a lot more confident in our ability to be good cache owners.
We have big plans for future hides and weather and funds permitting we hope to be placing containers sometime over the next couple of months. These ones are going to be traditional caches placed in the more common surroundings of footpaths and woods and I am in no doubt that they will bring their own unique blend of problems and challenges to overcome… Bring it on!