One Lovely Blog Award

one-lovely-blogThank you to Robbinn Geocaching for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award. A quick search of the internet reveals the “award” for what it is, which is a good way for people to get to know their fellow bloggers and to spread the word about their own blogs. I appreciate being in the thoughts of anyone else out there and as such will grace you with 7 random facts about myself.

1. I am blind. Although to be fair you should probably already know this. But you might not know that I was fully sighted until my mid 20s and would give my right arm to be able to drive again. Well maybe not my arm, but some other part of me that I don’t need so much.

2 I have a total of 12 siblings and 1st cousins, all of them born in this country. Exactly half of them now live abroad in places like Israel, Ireland, Thailand, Japan and America

3. In the late 70s I once appeared on Songs of Praise singing with a group of other kids from my Sunday school. I stopped going to church shortly after that.

4. I can fall asleep in pretty much any chair, sofa, bed, bench in a matter of minutes. You might see this as a blessing but it is also a curse. I am unable to read in bed, something that I used to love doing when I was a kid. If I try now and bear in mind I listen to audiobooks, I keep having to rewind the book the next day to find the bit I fell asleep at, invariably just a couple of minutes after I started.

5. In our house, I do all the washing but none of the cooking.

6. I own a guitar but cannot play it, though wish I could.

7. I consider myself to be almost a wannabe author. As to whether I will ever be a published author, that remains to be seen.

I would like to nominate the following people to “receive” the award… if they want to.
The muminator
Geo-mumma Kel
Blind Girl in the Big City

Posted in Blindness, Personal | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Pimlico Brief

In which we get stung, hot, stung and stung in Pimlico… no the other Pimlico.

I thought I might try a different tact today. Regular readers of my blog will know that I tend towards the more detailed and, let’s face it, waffly descriptions of our geocaching adventures. Today I thought I would be brief, concise and, not to beat around the bush, or indeed stray from the focus of the discussion, as I am want to do, from time to time… hmmm, what was I talking about? Oh Yes, being brief, concise and to the point. I attempt this not out of a desire to write less, or because I can’t be bothered but instead because I believe that some of the photos we took should really take centre stage.

“Get on with it,” I hear you cry… and quite right too.

On Tuesday we went to Pimlico, in Hertfordshire, to do 8 geocaches, including a simple offset multi and a short series of 5 caches set along a footpath through farm land. The weather was very warm with only the gentlest of breezes.

First we picked up two easy trads not far from the car, before walking to the start of a multi. The walk took us across farmland where we saw this majestic lone tree. This, for me is such a typical English countryside scene, and conjures up hazy summer afternoons lying in the shade of the huge bows of the ancient Oak.

A single large Oak tree stands tall and majestic in the middle of a field.

Typically English

The multi took us into Blackwood, an ancient 12th century wood owned by The Crown and the Bluebells were amazing.
A carpet of bluebells lay on the ground amongst the trees in this ancient wood

Bluebells in Blackwood

Paul stands on a woodland path with patches of Bluebells on either side

It brings out the blue in my eyes

From here we found the footpath where a small series of caches had been placed back in 2010 to tie in with a local event. We got stung by nettles a lot, although crawling on my belly into a bush probably didn’t help. Shar took this picture below and I love the way the yellow rapeseed field is frame by the over-hanging branches of the tree line, Even I can make out the contrasting components of this photo.
A sea of yellow extends beyond the framing of the low hanging branches. This picture is taken from inside the trees out across rolling farmers crop fields

Perfectly framed Farmland

And our adventure wasn’t without it’s curiosities. We found this partial kissing gate, swinging freely in the breeze with no fence to nuzzle against it. I wonder why they left the gate?
Shar stands in the shade of the trees next to half a kissing gate that is open on all sides. There is no fence.

Gate to the past

And there you have it, our caching day in Pimlico. It was a lovely few hours caching, warm dry weather, quiet and peaceful with my best girlie by my side and smilies to put on the map… and a few nettle rashes to take home. Happy days.

Caches found:
Bones 19 (dog walk) (GCZK1A)
Elaine and Pete Got Married (GC2V1PP)
Bones2 Blackmoor (GCR34V)
St.Patrick’s Day Cache 1 – Hedge (GC24YV4)
St. Patrick’s Day Cache 2 – Drink (GC24YV8)
St. Patrick’s Day Cache 3 – The Real Thing (GC24YVB)
St. Patrick’s Day Cache 4 – Gap (GC24YVE)
St. Patrick’s Day Cache 5 – Trunked (GC24YVH)

This geocaching adventure took place on 13th May 2015 and took our total cache count to 1047

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

When did I go to Norway?

Generally when we DNF a cache I add a watch on it to see how other people get on so that I can decide if it is worth a return visit at some point or not. I had become a bit remiss at doing this of late so I decided to go through all our DNF logs and make sure they were all on watch. I noticed two things as I was doing this. Firstly that with 1039 finds we only have 31 outstanding DNFs. That is to say that of all the caches we have logged DNFs on only 31 still remain active and unfound by us. Either we have returned and found them or they have since been archived due to being missing or other similar reasons. to me 1039 found and 31 DNF sounds like a pretty staggering ratio and one that I am pretty proud of.



The other thing that I noticed was that I had apparently visited Norway in November last year and logged a DNF on Rivers meeting Grimsdalen (GC35ZZB). This surprised me because I have not logged any DNFs in Norway for the simple reason that I have never been to Norway. I can only assume that I incorrectly entered a GC code whilst doing my logging. I read my log which waffled on about not being able to tell the difference between different tree species and laughed at what the CO must have thought. All the other logs appear to be in Norwegian although a few are just TFTC and that seems to be the same whichever language you spell it in. I half hoped that it would be a really tough 5/5 cache or something but reading the translation of the description (included below) it seems to be a fairly normal cache that doesn’t get visited very often.

Just made me giggle was all. I thought about deleting the log and then I decided not to, just to see if the CO ever questioned it.

Google Translation of description

Between Dovre and Folldal is “Grimsdalen”, one of the longest seats valleys which at all times has been a gjennomfartsdal between Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen. People’s use of the area has left its mark on the valley. From Dovre followed ferda people paths and tracks through the valley to Folldal. Here were the work getting in the mines. Delivery of food, charcoal and timber laid the foundations for shipping routes through the valley. Grimsdalen has an interesting Quaternary with many landscape formations from the last ice age. Here meet rivers Haverdalsåi and Grimsa in a deep and exciting current. It has poured many a liter of water through this canyon over the years. Many interesting plants and birds can be found here. When we put out the cache, there sat a Dialed Rost on edge and sang their little mournful tones. Do not go too far out on the edge, since there is steeply into the river.

This geocaching adventure took place in an alternative dimension in November 2014, didn’t increase my total cache count and I didn’t enjoy Norway at all.

Posted in Geocaching | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Chiltern Hundred Leg 5 – 15 years on

In which we celebrate 15 years since the birth of geocaching by staying in and watching the telly. Nah, just kidding. We went caching.

On May 2nd the United States government flicked a switch and the GPS satellite network, which had been restricted to military use only, was made available for anyone to use to pinpoint their position on the planet. The next day a man called Dave Ulmer hid a bucket of goodies in Orgon and posted the coordinates, N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800, on an internet newsgroup and the hobby of geocaching was born. To celebrate the 15th birthday, Groundspeak were offering a special souvenir to anyone who could find a cache on May 2nd or May 3rd. As well as the souvenir, it was promised that unlocking the graphic would reveal what their annual summer challenge would be this year. Not that we need an extra incentive to go caching, but this seemed like a good day to head back to Chesham and find some more caches in the Chiltern Hundred. You can use the following link to read all about our previous Chiltern Hundred Adventures.

Our plan was to try and complete the first ring. The Chesham ring has 49 caches in it and we only had 6 left to get in order to finish it. One of those is number 37 which we had to log a DNF on last outing but the others would be new to us. Studying the map I then plotted us a route back to the car that would take us past some caches on one of the other loops, the Chartridge ring. I am starting to feel as if Chesham is a sort of second home, now that we have visited so many times over the last few months. Even Sam is starting to recognize some of the landmarks as we drive into the area. This time he remembered the pub that Shar had incorrectly parked at in on our last adventure. She just loved being reminded of that one.

Sometimes your planned circular walk isn’t quite evenly distributed with caches, some parts of the walk have clusters of hides and other parts have none at all, that is just the way it is when you are making up your own caching trails. I have long since learned that if there is a particularly long section without caches then it is best to start with this bit first. The last thing you want to be doing after you find your last cache is to then have to walk a long way back to the car. That is to say that I have learnt that in order to keep Shar and Sam in good moods that is the best thing to do. Whilst bodies are fresh and resolve is strong I hit them with the worst of the walk and then it can only get better from then on it. So that is exactly what we did.

After parking the car we then had a walk of just over a kilometre to get to our first cache. I knew however that this meant that when we finished our last cache of the day we would be less than 50 metres away from the spot where we parked. It has to be said that we probably couldn’t afford to live in this part of Chesham, judging by some of the houses that we copped an eye of as we set off on a gentle downward slope, although lack of consistent 3G signal means I could never live there anyway so it is purely academic.

CH039 – To Rose Acre (GC1EHEC) is one of the more urban caches that we have encountered on the Chiltern hundred so far. 95% of the hides are along footpaths and in woods, but sometimes, I guess, suburbia just gets in the way. To be fair it was still hidden in a tree so that is sort of rural, but the tree was right at the side of a 4 way junction. Thankfully it was a quick find and Sam was determined to grab it, even if he had to stretch right up on tip toes to claim it. As always with our Chiltern Hundred caching, we got down to the signing and maintenance shuffle, placing a fresh log sheet and laminated bonus code card into the container before securing it back safely in its hiding place.

The route to our next cache took us off the road and onto a narrow footpath that led between houses. It started off at quite a gentle slope downwards but soon it became very steep indeed and we were glad that the ground under foot was dry and firm. travelling up or down that footpath in wet and muddy weather must be treacherous. Sam eventually found CH040 – Pednor road view (GC1EHEF) after a short search, the hint confusing us all as it said it was at the height of my pipik. I confess I had to google what my pipik is. Even after we did know, it still took a while to find the well hidden cache. Do you know where your Pipik is?

After this the footpath broke out from between the houses and continued downward, albeit not so sharply into a vale. To our right the views were pretty impressive overlooking a farm and the countryside beyond. Both CH041 – Pednor Mead farm view (GC1EHEN) and CH042 – Rose Acre view (GC1EHEX) were both found in the tree line to the left of us as we made our way down, enjoying the good views and decent weather.

Shar appears at the bottom left of the photo which is entirely taken up with a view down into a valley where a farm sits

Farm View

We found a lovely spot to have some lunch near the GZ of CH043 – single tree (GC1EHF2), however it was barely just gone 11 o’clock and a little early so we resolved to wait a while. The tree where we found the cache was a gloriously massive lone tree that was protected all around its base by undergrowth. The trunk was a veritable treasure trove of places to hide a geocache. I could have hidden 10 caches in that tree just as easily as the one we found. For us this cache marked the completion of the Chesham ring of the Chiltern Hundred. We have visited all 49 of the caches on this section now and just have niggling number 37 to revisit, which we planned to do later this day.

Arriving in the bottom of the vale we turned right onto a lane for a short walk where we could link up with a part of the Chartridge ring which would allow us to cache back to the car. The Chartridge ring starts at number 83 in the series but not wanting to do anything the conventional way we picked up at CH099 – Pednor Road (GC1EWC0), which we found without much problem after a pleasant, and flat 800 metres walk along the lane. We had a much harder time at CH100 – Great Friar’s Hill (GC1EWCB) which was a bit further along the lane though. Using the hint we located a couple of very likely hiding spots, one on either side of the road. But despite 15 minutes of searching, the cache was nowhere to be found. Being convinced that we were looking in the place indicated by the hint, in the end we elected to put out a replacement container. Reading lots of logs we realised that the original container had been replaced a couple of years ago and it just so happened that I had a container that matched the replacement one that had now gone missing. We are generally very reluctant to put out replacement caches and we tend not to do it at all when we are out caching normally, but as we have undertaken to maintain the Chiltern Hundred caches, with the CO’s blessing, as we find them, we are keen to make sure that, if at all possible, every single one of them is available to find for future cachers.

Sam and Shar walk away from the camera along a narrow country lane that winds into the distance

Wait for me

The lane turned out to be quite busy, although not with cars, but instead all manner of other recreational road users. We saw walkers, joggers, horsey muggles and loads and loads of cyclists. There is nothing more surprising than to emerge from a bush at the sider of the road to find a family of bi-wheeled muggles whizz past you with various choruses of “morning” or “thank you”. They should fit bikes with sound generators so that I know when they are coming. Despite all this traffic, we made a quick find at CH101 – Wych Elm Farm view (GC1EWCK), actually Shar found it as Sam and I had past it blissfully unaware that we had gone too far.

Still further along the lane, we had real problems at CH102 – Wych Elm Farm (GC1EWCT). To the right of the road was a short line of trees covering a small bank. From the hint and the logs we knew that the cache was somewhere in those trees. We broke through up the bank so that we were behind the trees and searched every nook and cranny for about 20 minutes before finally we admitted defeat. Unlike ch100, where we were convinced we had found the hide, here we just weren’t sure that we hadn’t just looked in the right place yet. There was a lot of branches to search and after Shar stepped in some poo left by an unknown beast, we all started searching a little less vigorously. This one has gone on our list of caches to return to for another go some time.

From a frustrating DNF to a staggeringly easy find at CH103 – Westdean Lane view (GC1EWD0). This one was nestling in the branches of a tree at the road side and was extremely visible, although not to me – I did not regain my sight whilst on the road to Chartridge. Shar and Sam spotted it way before we had fully arrived at GZ. I am amazed that it remains unmuggled, but it seems to evade detection somehow.

A little further along the lane we turned right and started the climb up the hill towards the place we had left the car. After descending into the vale and then walking along the bottom of it for the last 5 caches, there was no avoiding the inevitable. A couple of horsey muggles trotted past us, one of the riders apologising for just “sitting there nattering to her friend” while we struggled on foot. I thought about this but then thought that at least I didn’t have to clean up horse poo when I got home… well most of the time I don’t. Shar spotted CH104 – Westdean Lane (GC1EWD3) nestling up in a tree but thankfully it was reachable from the ground. Sam spotted a couple of loose golf balls lying near the container but both were damaged which he was a bit disappointed about. He needn’t have worried though as on our walk up to the car we must have spotted about 20 balls in the bushes and lining the road, we were walking alongside a golf course and it appeared the members were lacking a little ball control.

Finally at the top of the hill, and just a stone’s throw from the car we were at our last GZ of the day, CH050 – Westdean Lane (GC1ER4K), which is technically on neither the Chartridge or Chesham rings but instead on the Asheridge ring. It turned out to be a very clever hide indeed. A quick search found nothing much at first except a tall sign post that was hinted at in the description. There was nowhere on the sign that a cache the size of a coke can could be hidden and so we were scratching our heads when Shar suggested that perhaps the cache was inside the pole. I reached up but was disappointed to find that the post was capped with a hardened plastic top. On a whim I tried to remove it and found to my shock that it came off with ease and low and behold the cache was wedged in the lid. It was a perfect fit for the large bore of the post and a most excellent and muggle proof cache. It was a good way to end our caching for the day and due to my brilliant planning we were now only a few metres from the waiting car. Due to my less than perfect planning we hadn’t found anywhere to stop to have lunch so we sat and ate it in the car instead.

After eating we returned to ch037 to give it another go and see if the intelligence we had acquired about being on the correct side of the barb wire fence would help us. Alas it did not, we had been on the right side of the fence the first time and it was horribly apparent that going away and coming back with fresh eyes had done no good at all. We are tending towards this being a replacement but still I was not sure so we have put the cache on watch which means we will get emails if there is any activity over the coming weeks. If anyone finds it, we can contact them to try and get a nudge in the right direction.

15 years of Geocaching

15 years of Geocaching

All in all it was a lovely days caching in the beautiful countryside of Buckinghamshire and we did more than enough to earn our 15 year souvenir.
As for the big reveal about what Groundspeak has in store for us over the summer, well it went live on the official blog the day before anyway so it is probably fairly common knowledge by now. Over the summer there will be five challenges to find a cache with over 10 favourite points, a D5 or T5 cache, a mystery cache, an event, mega or giga and either and EarthCache or CITO. Achieving all 5 challenges will earn you a sixth souvenir as well. If you want the full info you can check out the Geocaching 2015 Road Trip announcement on the geocaching blog. It looks pretty achievable and could be fun collecting 6 new souvenirs over the summer. Happy Days.

This geocaching adventure took place on 2nd May 2015 and took our geocache total to 1039.

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Our hides get a visit from a geocaching celebrity

drsolly currently has the most finds logged of any UK geocacher at just under 41,000. He has held this position for quite some time only occasionally being knocked off the top for short periods of time. On Friday, he came to Watford and did our Street Name Scramble and Wall Hall caches as well as Sam’s Church Micro. I am so glad that we had recently done maintenance on all our caches and that they were in tip top condition when he found them. I guess it really shouldn’t make any difference, after all drsolly is just another geocacher and it is just as important that our hides are in good condition for any and all our visitors, but it somehow does feel slightly different. There is no doubt that he is famous in Geocaching circles and it therefore feels kind of cool that he came to do our caches.

As if this didn’t make me smug enough, he also awarded one of our caches a favourite point. As a cache owner, you always want people to enjoy your hides and the awarding of favourite points is one clear way that finders can express their thanks for the effort that the owner has put in. If high profile cachers such as drsolly come and find our caches then there is a chance that they might recommend them to their caching friends and this means more finds for us, which is all good.

Happy days indeed!

Posted in Geocaching, Hiding Geocaches | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Chipping away at Chipperfield

In which we encounter a displaced London Routemaster Bus, rent Pulp Fiction on VHS from a red phone box and cross time and space to fill the pretty village of Chipperfield with smilies.

On Tuesday, we once more drove the short distance to Chipperfield to see if we could find the remaining 11 caches that would effectively mark the village as done and dusted. But wait, I hear you say, return? When did you first go to Chipperfield. Well in order to answer that question I must invite you to join me in a bit of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and take you on a journey back into the dim and distant past of….er… 4 weeks ago. Ready? got your time travelling trousers on?

wibbly wibbly wibbly wobbly wobbly wobbly.

And here we are, on Wednesday this week (1st April), we decided to get our cache on and so we headed for the nearby village of Chipperfield. When I say nearby, I really mean it is close, only about 7km away, so close it even has a WD postcode prefix, the same as Watford. That probably doesn’t impress you people who live out in the sticks where one postcode prefix covers the whole county but trust me, in Hertfordshire we have plenty prefixes to go round and the WD only really covers Watford and the immediate surrounds.

My usual planning and research session had determined that I could break up Chipperfield into 4 chunks and on this day we decided to tackle the largest section containing 7 caches in a basically circular walk starting and ending at a very handy car park right next to Chipperfield Common. Parking the car and getting our boots on Sharlene described the scene of children arriving at the church next door, most of them carrying violin cases prompting me to hypothesize that Chipperfield might be the Hertfordshire bases for training young machine gun toting mobsters. Sharlene suggested it was too early for any of my nonsense! Quite right too.

Our first cache, , was the final of a puzzle, A Cache with a view (GC4XEW3), that was easy enough to solve with the use of fingers and the internet – the fingers were to type in search terms in case you wondered. It was cold but dry as we walked the few hundred metres to GZ and when we got there it took us almost 15 minutes before we were able to find the cleverly hidden cache. With very little to search, there being just a fence and a bush and a sign at the side of a road you would think that it would be an easy search but the CO has a fiendish mind and it was only by luck that I managed to feel the tiny container on one pass. To keep an air of mystery about the hide I will not disclose whether the cache was found on the fence, the sign or in the bush. As the name suggest though, the location did afford you with some pretty good views across fields towards Kings Langley, but it was a bit too chilly to stop and stare, we had caches to find and fingers and toes to keep warm.

The next four caches were all along the same road which we reach by walking across the fields from the GZ of the first cache. Whilst the sun did break through the clouds the wind more than made up for whatever little warmth that its rays carried. Upon reaching the road we first turned right and headed down a hill to pick up the first of the four, A Cache with a view too (GC5NXZT). It was a relatively easy find although I did spend a few minutes deep searching the top of a hollow post to no avail. I did find a yoghurt pot, a crisp packet, lots of bark and an empty tobacco pouch, but it was Shar that found the cache somewhere else. After signing we turned tail and walked back up the steep hill with much puffing and panting.

Thankfully the other three caches on that road were on relatively level ground. The first, Hedera diagonal (GC5CFK2), was a devilishly tricky hide on an ivy covered fence that had us finger feeling it for 10 minutes before finally finding it. The second, The Jasmin Cache (GC5CFFY), took us along a bridle path next to a road and Shar made the find on the other side of the path from where I was searching… isn’t it always the way that the cache turns out to be on the other side of the path.

We were rather surprised to spot a london routemaster bus whilst walking to the next cache. It was all a bit cliff Richard, Summer Holiday and for a few moments I entertained the idea of having a red bus as a caching camper. How cool would that be, although I had to conclude that its height might cause some problems with low bridges and getting a bus up a country lane to do countryside caching would be a flippin’ nightmare… perhaps not then.

A double decker bus, the type normally found in London about 20 years ago is parked in a driveway in Chipperfield

We’re all going on a Caching Holiday

The cache, We Can See You (GC5PCG7), turned out to be a cool in plain sight hide near the entrance to a garden centre. The description suggested that the CO could watch our search from where they were so it would appear that they either live in the houses opposite or work at the garden centre perhaps. Either way Shar made such a super quick find of the clever magnetic cache that we were in, signed and out within about a minute.

From here we had just two caches left and were heading back in the direction of the car now. The first of the two was The Bus stop Dash (GC3A90K) and on arriving at GZ we discovered a bus shelter big enough to seat about 10 people with lots and lots of nooks and crannies to search. I think I must have pissed off a billion spiders during my 10 minute search judging by the amount of cobwebs I disturbed whilst feeling around in the rafters. You know the expression that you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look. It is a dumb saying because you obviously stop looking when you find something but it has to be said that when I finally did find the cache, Shar spotting it, I had indeed already searched there and therefore I found the cache in the 4th of 50 places that I searched as I carried on looking well after I had found the hiding place. With a brief apology to arachnids of Chipperfield and much brushing myself down, we moved on to our last cache, Too Common To Park (GC4KCT0), which we found with ease at the edge of a pub car park. And that was that, 7 smilies and a grudging respect for the deviousness of the hides of elainealex who is CO on 6 of the 7 caches we found.

wobbly wobbly wobbly wibbly, wibbly, wibbly

… and you’re back in the room. Everyone made it back ok from the past? Hang on, you didn’t have a beard when you left, how long were you stuck back there? Well, glad you made it back to the present anyway. So now back to how we finished off Chipperfield on Tuesday (28th April).

We had three separate legs planned for our adventure. The first leg started at the same car park as last time, right on Chipperfield common, and we were there, putting on our boots, straight after dropping Sam off at school. As we headed for the first cache which took us across the common and the cricket pitch towards a small patch of woods, we cringed at the amount of dog walkers around. The place was swarming with doggy muggles. This could be a problem.

Our first cache, Feeling stumped by The Apostles (GC52QXR) went smoothly enough, once we were under the cover of trees we were soon at GZ and as the title of the cache suggests we were looking for a stump. There was a smack in the face, couldn’t be more obvious one just off the path and within seconds of arriving at it, I had cache in hand. 1-0 to the blind man. I tried not to get to excited as I invariably find only around 1 in 20 of the caches we go for but at this stage I was still allowing myself a small internal victory dance.

A pleasant walk through the pretty woods with the sun weakly breaking through the trees, led us to the GZ of our second cache, Screwed Over (GC5B52E). That is to say as we approached GZ, Shar said just to hang on a second as there was a group of walkers approaching and she wasn’t kidding. We stood to the side of the narrow footpath and waited as about 30 ramblers hiked past us, most of them of a more mature age, obviously a local rambling club. They just seemed to keep coming and coming as we patiently waited, answering the many choruses of “morning” from them. Finally they were gone into the woods and then a runner came barrelling along the path and as we eventually started searching, we heard the calls of the ramblers bringing up the rear of the pack that a runner was approaching. It was like someone being called to court, the cries echoed all the way through the group as they all warned each other to get out of the way. As for the cache with a name like screwed over it was fairly obvious what we were looking for but with a long fence at GZ, searching every point where an appropriate cache might be hidden could take a long time. Thankfully I reached over the fence and laid my hand right on the cache in the first spot I tried. My mental celebration was now going external as I allowed myself a small gloat at having found 2 caches to Sharlene’s 0.

The Cart and Horses public house was a short walk away and the GZ of our next cache, Don’t Put The Cart Before The Horses (GC5B0KW). From the description we knew we were looking for a magnetic cache. The pub was quiet although there were a few cars parked outside. The lane it was located on was free from traffic and so Shar got down to searching the only metallic object she could find, but with no success. We scratched heads and wandered around a bit but all the time we kept returning to the metal post at GZ. I made to search it just to convince myself that it really wasn’t there but just as I did a woman in a car pulled up in the road outside the pub and just sat in the car with the engine running, not 20 feet from us. We started fiddling with our phones and tried to look natural. Shar had a smoke and I, well I just stood there trying to convince Shar to relax, we weren’t doing anything wrong and she would drive off soon. After 5 minutes even I had to admit that it was starting to look weird and so we elected to move on, regrettably not finding the cache. We started walking away down the lane and as we did so the woman in the car pulled in behind us following us very slowly. This was very odd, but we kept walking and she kept driving, not passing us even though she could. In the end we stepped to the side of the road and just stopped to see what she would do. Slowly she drew alongside us and then finally drove off leaving us shaking our heads in confusion. Seeing an opportunity, I turned us around and walked back to the cache to search that pole that we had waited so patiently at. I found the cache nestling safely at the bottom of it and the score went to 3-0. Get in there! Blind man 3, sighted woman 0.

To complete the first leg, we had two more caches to find although they were a bit of a walk, but when I was studying the map I concluded that it would be criminal to leave them out as they would just sit there and taunt us as isolated caches in a forest of smilies. The walk to the next cache was about a kilometre but it was shaping up to be a lovely morning and so we didn’t mind strolling along the quiet lane that turned into a footpath. We elected to skip the first cache we came to, choosing to pick it up on the walk back to the car, giving us something to break up the longer return walk. As we approached GZ, having passed a happy muggle who greeted us along the way and a couple of horsey muggles, the flat footpath sloped into a steep paved affair down to the little neighbouring village of Belsize. As we arrived at the GZ of The Belsize Nano(GC34C09), I was excited to find an old red telephone box.

Paul is pictured standing outside an old red phonebox in Belsize

It’s for you

You don’t see many of these nowadays and so it is cool to find one. Even better, we realised, the cache was in it. I dove in and started searching, pissing off more spiders but after a few minutes I hadn’t found it. I did find a small stack of 3 VHS video tapes on top of the phone though, including pulp fiction. Weird.
A piicture of the interior of the phonebox shows three VHS video tapes stacked on top of the telephone

Movie anyone?

Shar opened the door to see how I was getting on and immediately spotted the cache, it was hiding in a place that you could only see with the door open, clever. So that made it 3-1 to me.

Back up the hill, puff puff, pant pant and then after a few hundred metres we arrived at the GZ of Hornet’s Hide 3A – Penman’s Green (GCMDB3), a cache dating back to 2005. I really wanted to find this one as The Hornet is a legendary cacher from the early days and placed a lot of caches around Watford and the surrounding areas. Alas only a few of them still remain and so I think it is quite special when we are able to find one. Finding it was a different matter though. The GZ was in amongst a patch of trees at the side of the footpath and searching for the regular cache was difficult due to the uneven ground and dense trees. I bounced off the woodwork as Shar slowly got further and further from me, searching in ever increasing circles. I had got myself thoroughly turned around and lost when I finally heard Shar’s victorious cry. It then took me 5 minutes to get to her and in the end she had to come find me and lead me to the cache which was off the path, through the trees, up a steep bank, through more trees and try not to slip down the bank. I can see why this cache has survived for over 10 years and I hope it does so for another 10. 3-2… bugger, please don’t let the first three finds be a fluke!

Having made pretty good time so far we decided to drive to our next spot just up the road at the Boot Tavern. Back in the summer of last year we had attended an event at this pub and one of the caches we were going for had been published to coincide with the event but we had been far more interested in drinking and socialising with other cachers to actually go and find it. Besides, it was a puzzle cache and I am only able to solve these when I can take my time and use my own computer at home that has all my familiar blindness enhancements, speech and magnification etc. Shar… well Shar doesn’t do puzzle caches other than to help me with the ones that require eyes and only then if it can be solved quickly and simply. The puzzle, Tanks for the Letterbox (GC59GDG), was set by our good friends Smokeypugs, involved tanks and translating things from German. It took me a little while with google translate and some image recognition websites but in the end I had some coords and it turned out to be an easy walk down a footpath next to the pub. Shar made a quick find at GZ and the scores were tied at 3-3.

We walked back past the car and crossed over the main road to find an easy traditional that was placed down a narrow country lane in amongst some trees. With the competition between us increasing we both wanted to be the one that found the next one and move into the lead. Shar spotted Up a Bridleway (GC3B3WE),but asked me to retrieve it. I challenged her that this would mean a find for me but she told me that was rubbish and the score was hers regardless of who actually picked the container up. That was me told! 4-3 to team sighted stroppy female.

We returned to the car and broke out the half time sandwiches. I had to eat with one foot out of the car as I had stepped in some horse poo at some point and the smell of it was not a nice thing to have while you were eating. If I hadn’t been so hungry I might have taken the time to scrape it off first but leaving the offending boot outside the car did the job… bloody horsey muggles.

After lunch we relocated the car a short distance away at the entrance to Scatterdell Woods where we were planning to search for the last 4 caches of the day. This was good for a number of reasons, not least of all so I could get the opportunity to scrape the poo off my boots over the course of walking a couple of kilometres through pretty woodland. And the woods were seriously pretty, especially as the bluebells were out too.

A woodland view through the trees where the bluebells can be clearly seen

Bluebells in Scatterdells

The first cache, Scatterdells – Hydroelectric Power (GC4D1VV), was a very clever hide near a water hydrant sign just at the entrance to the woods. We kind of had an idea what we were looking for based on the name – something to do with electricity near the water sign. It still took us a couple of searches to find the small custom container but eventually I found it in the place I had first searched. Woo Hoo, team blind man Poo fights his way back to 4 – 4.

After another short walk through the woods and up a bit of a steep hill we eventually found ourselves at the GZ of Scatterdells – Hornbeam Hollow (GC4D1KC). We were looking for a mossy stump and wouldn’t you know it there was no shortage of places to start looking. Shar left me near one such stump and dashed off to powder her nose and wouldn’t you know it, I reached down and found the cache. This was easy pickings. 5-4 to me and only two caches left, this was getting seriously interesting.

A bit of down the hill and up the hill and we were soon at the GZ of Scatterdells Swirl (GC4CERV), where Shar practically shoulder barged me to the ground in order to search the very obvious tree where the cache was no doubt hidden. Despite the underhanded tactics and the fact that I had to actually retrieve the cache due to the possibility of Boris the Spider residing in the hollowed out tree, she insisted on claiming the find, levelling up the contest at 5 caches each with only one more to decide the ultimate caching champion… of Chipperfield… on that day…. out of me and her.

Thanks to a bit of lateral thinking by Shar, we took an alternative route to our last cache, thus avoiding walking down a massive hill and then back up it again. Instead we skirted around the top of the hill which was a slightly longer way to go but didn’t involve the use of oxygen and Sherpas. Hang ’em high (GC5CFM0) was another one placed by queen CO of Chipperfield elainalex and so we knew it would be something a little out of the ordinary and based on the name of the cache and the description we knew it would be hanging in a tree somewhere. With tensions running high, Shar and I instantly split up at GZ and got down to searching for the cache, both wanting to get the last find. It wasn’t a quick find though and gradually minutes stretched into… more minutes and we found ourselves wandering in circles searching the same trees. I turned to the logs of previous finders and although one or two of them had something interesting to say, none of them were much help in finding the right tree. I was starting to think that neither of us were going to find the cache when finally Shar called out that she had indeed found it. My emotions were mixed, relieved at not having to log a DNF, but disappointed at having come runner up in the Chipperfield Caching Challenge 2015. Team sighted Woman 6 – Team Blind Man Poo 5. I was honourable in defeat and congratulated Shar as we set off for the kilometre walk back to the car.

And so, after two visits and a bit of time travelling, Chipperfield is all smilies. No wait, is that an unsolved puzzle cache lurking just next to the common. Bugger! Ah well, at least that will give us an excuse to return to this lovely village another day. Happy Days.

The first trip to Chipperfield took place on April 1st and took our cache count from 1000 to 1007. The second visit to Chipperfield took place on April 28th and took our count from 1017 to 1028

Posted in Blindness, Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

We’ve got fleaz!

There, I’ve admitted it. And as strange as it sounds, I have a good feeling about it. Now stop scratching and pay attention while I explain. GeoFleaz formerly known as TravelFleas are tiny metal tags that are engraved with your caching name. The concept is that you attach them to Travel Bugs that you come into contact with so that they can travel around with the trackable item. Much like the real world nasty, GeoFleaz are simply parasites, living and travelling on the back of larger beings. The GeoFleaz themselves aren’t trackable and once released, the owner never really knows what happens to them, but they are just one more way that geocachers can personalise their caching experience, like calling cards or signature swaps.

To be honest, they probably aren’t something I would shell out actual money for, but as it turns out we didn’t have to. I entered a competition on The Oh Beep! Geocaching Podcast a few months ago and was lucky enough to win a pack of 12 personalised GeoFleaz. Yay!

In a moment of true generosity and Father son love, I arranged for the GeoFleaz to be engraved with Sam’s caching name, MiniKnight. I didn’t tell him at the time of ordering, but instead when they actually arrived in the post to much surprise and smiles. So now we are infected with a dozen tiny travellers that we are itching to find some TBs for them to hitch along with.

MiniKnight has Fleaz

MiniKnight has Fleaz

So there you go, and if you are still itching then it is nothing to do with me! Stop scratching!

Posted in Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments