πevents³ = 1000 milestone

This Saturday just gone was PI day. What the heck is that I hear you ask. Well, if you subscribe to the american date format, which america assume the entire world does but actually only they do, then the date was 3.14.15 as it was march 14th in 2015. Anyone worth their weight in calculators will recognize that sequence of numbers as being PI. If you were a true puritan then you would celebrate the exact moment at 9.26 on the day as this would produce the even more pleasing 3.14.15 9.26 which is the first 8 digits of PI. So PI, what is it good for? absolutely nothing? Wrong actually it is a stunningly useful constant if you need to calculate pretty much anything to do with circles. π multiplied by the diameter of a circle equals its circumference. π multiplied by a circle’s radius squared eqals the area of a circle. Four thirds multiplied by π multiplied by the radius cubed equals the volume of a sphere. Surface area of a sphere, volume of a cone… the list goes on. Pretty amazing really.
“But what has this got to do with geocaching and more importantly your 1000 milestone?” I hear you thinking. Well groundspeak decided that they would celebrate PI day by putting up for grabs 2 souvenirs for people to collect. The first for attending an event on the day and the second for solving and logging a mystery cache. Having had to log a DNF earlier in the week when trying to find our milestone, a new plan formed in my head. Perhaps we could attend an event instead, that would be pretty special for our 1000 milestone, and if we could get a souvenir as well then what could be better than that? But where was the nearest event? Well a brief search of geocaching.com showed that the nearest event on PI day was in Cassiobury Park…. in Watford… just over a kilometre away. This had to be fate!
And so it was that we got to obtain a souvenir and rack up our 1000 cache milestone in the company of other geocaches. We met up with some old friends and got to meet lots more new ones. It was great to attend a local event and get to meet so many of the names that we had been seeing in logs for so long, not least of all the event hosts gigglesloube+1 who had bagged the FTF on Sam’s Church Micro cache recently. It was a little cold, standing in the park but it was great to chat to likeminded people and nab a milestone and a souvenir at the same time.

PI day Souvenir

PI day Souvenir

Oh and if you thought the equation in the heading was just random think again, with a little bit of mathamatical artistic license, I can make it work…
number of events found = 6
number of trads found = 828
number of trads / 1000 = 0.828
add that to the events to get 6.828
cubed that = 318.33
multiply that by π = 1000!
I thank you!

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching, Geocaching Events | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Our 1000 milestone… a DNF!

In which we head to the Ashridge Estate in search of the oldest mystery cache in the UK and fail entirely to find it.

The above sentence isn’t far off being all there is to report in this blog entry to be honest. Having finally decided that for our 1000 milestone we would attempt to find the oldest mystery cache in the UK, Shar and I made the 30 minute journey to the Ashridge Estate after dropping Sam at school on Wednesday full of hope and optimism to find Tim’s No 2 – The second Attempt (GC18BC).

In order to be able to locate the cache you first need to find another very old cache, also located in the Ashridge Estate. Tim & John’s 1st Re-Stashed (GC177) is the second oldest cache in England and we managed to locate it back in January when we went to Ashridge for the BBH Cake Race closing event (See Cake Race Closing Event and two historic caches). Inside the container which is hidden in the pretty woods, are directions that you have to follow to be able to find the mystery cache. The directions include a number of steps in the form, walk this many paces on this bearing, turn this way, walk so many paces again and so on. Well, Shar and I spent over two hours interpreting the instructions every which way we could and still we were unable to work out where the cache was. It wasn’t a great amount of distance involved but the directions were a bit ambiguous in places and open to multiple interpretations.

In the end I placed a PAF to our friend Bones1 who despite having found the cache almost 10 years ago, was able to give some very detailed instructions and enabled us to identify the lanmark tree noted in the hopelessly vague directions as provided by the original cache owner, and give us a very good indication as to where we should be looking. Alas, we still didn’t managed to find the thing, but we now reckon we have a pretty good idea where it should be and plan to return at some point. We decided to retreat home and make new plans for our 1000 milestone, Sharlene was in no mood to be changing plans in the middle of the woods. She doesn’t like DNFs, bless her, especially ones that have stolen two hours of your day tromping around the woods, although I do have to say the weather was ok and the woods certainly were very pretty.

We have found 999 caches so far in our geocaching career and in all that time, just under 2 years, have logged only 79 DNFs, many of which we later converted into finds. It was a bit disappointing therefore to have to be logging one that was intended to be our 1000 milestone. Having said that I did subsequently formulate a new plan for our milestone and I have to say I liked that one even more, not least because there was absolutely no chance at all of having to log a DNF on it. But, you’ll have to wait till next time for the info on that one.

This geocaching (non)adventure took place on Wednesday 11th March 2015 and did nothing for our cache count which still stands at 999.

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Chiltern Hundred Leg 3

In which we head back to Chesham to do some more of the Chiltern Hundred, find way too many Scouts and far too few ostriches.

As the weekend rolled around and the weather forecast looked extremely favourable we made plans to take another chunk out of the Chiltern Hundred. For more information about this series and our previous outings to chip away at it, see previous Chiltern Hundred blog entries.

The weekend before on our Pugwash adventure, Another day, another duck, we had found 19 caches and that took our cache total to 987. A glance at the caches I had planned for this outing showed 16. Hmmmm. A bit of re-planning and our new proposed total was 13 which would take us up to 999 and set us up nicely for doing something special for our 1000 milestone. At that stage I still had no idea what it was we were actually going to do but at least now I knew that we would stick to our plan of honouring our milestones.

Despite this being our third visit to the Chiltern hundred, we were still on the Chesham ring which is only the first of three rings that make up the entire series. The plan was to go for caches 021 thru 031 this time. Being a straight line my plan was to park not far from 31 and walk via a different route to 21 and then cache all the way back to the car. The route from the car took in 2 non Chiltern hundred caches so that would at least break up the long walk to start with.

We parked the car in Great Hivings which is just a little north of the main town of Chesham. As we approached the planned parking spot we drove down into a valley and then up rather steeply. The hill peaked just as we pulled the car into a space next to a small parade of shops and I couldn’t help but think that if we were at the top of a hill then we would most likely be walking down to do our caching and that meant we would be walking back up to get to the car. I expect Shar might have been thinking this too but she wasn’t saying anything and I sure as heck wasn’t going to bring it up. As we booted up the sun warmed us and the breeze was gentle. The temperature were in the mid-teens which for an early march day in the UK is pretty amazing.
We set off and within 5 minutes we were leaving the residential streets and heading along a footpath at a gentle downward slope. This footpath soon opened out into fields and the decline got ever so slightly steeper. Remembering the map that I had studied at home, I thought this might be Chesham Vale and then I realised that it being a vale would suggest that it was indeed going to be surrounded by hills… that is how vales work. As we got closer to our first cache the footpath ended at a road which we crossed and then joined another path which now went up. Ah hah this is the whole vale thing in action. The path was so steep it prompted Sam to suggest it might be vertical! I explained that our ability to continue ascending without the need for ropes an crampons kind of ruled out that but agreed that it was indeed very steep.

Shar and Sam walk down into Chesham Vale. The path down doesn't look that steep but beyond a road in the distance the hill opposite can be seen rising up sharply, the side of it covered in trees.

Chesham Vale

Thankfully Chesham Vale – Whitehorn’s Farm. (GC338W5) wasn’t too far up the hill and it gave us an opportunity to take a break. A brief search of the trees to the right of the path soon turned up the cache hiding in an ivy covered tree. After signing and re-hiding, we continued on up the hill but turned left quite soon and followed another path through the trees that thankfully was nowhere near as steep as the previous one. Sam was in sullen pre-teen mode, had been all morning to be honest. I suspect that he would have rather stayed at home and plugged himself into his Xbox all day but there was no way we were going to do that, not on such a great day. Still, Shar and I kept our cool and counted to 10,sometimes more and pushed on. Shar was the one who made the find at Chesham Vale – Francis Wood. (GC338WD) which was hidden in the roots of a gnarly tree just to the left of the path. Both Sam and I had gone too far, blaming our mistake on the poor GPS coverage due to the trees, but Shar just nodded and smirked.

From there we had a longish walk up to the footpath where the Chiltern hundred caches were placed along but once we were there it would be a straight run all the way back to the car picking up 11 caches hopefully. Getting out of the woods was our first challenge though and one that took us a few attempts. There were lots of little paths and on more than one occasion Shar announced that after studying the map on her phone again, that we were going the wrong way. This did little to lighten the mood of cranky Sam and just before we did manage to find our way out of the trees I felt that a few words needed to be said. I appraised him of his attitude and told him to pull his socks up… or words to that effect. To his credit, it did seem to do the trick and he was generally in a much more positive and pleasant mood for the remainder of the walk.

As we made our way along a very narrow long path out of the woods I managed to bump my head 4 time son the overhanging branches. Sometimes I wished that I was the same height as Shar and Sam then they would always remember to tell me to duck. The way Sam is growing it may only be a few more years before that might actually be a reality. Shar, on the other hand, will always be a short arse. Finally, we emerged out onto a road just a hundred metres or so from our first Chiltern hundred cache. What we found was a lot of people in hi vis jackets manning some sort of check point. As we made our way towards CH021 – A416(GC1ECR3) we kept seeing more and more highly visible people walking around. As we got to GZ which was at a kissing gate where the footpath was intersected by the road, we saw streams of these walkers coming along the footpath and heading for the checkpoint. We worked out that they were Explorer scouts and that they were on some sort of hiking challenge and they were all hiking along exactly the footpath that we wanted to be caching along. This was going to be interesting. It took an extreme amount of stealth and patience for Sam to retrieve the cache which was right next to the kissing gate and even more for us to sign the log and carry out our maintenance as we had done for all the other Chiltern Hundred caches we had found so far.

We quickly replaced the cache and cross the road to pick up the footpath, hoping that this might be the end of the Explorer scout walk and not just a checkpoint but it wasn’t long before a group of 4 scouts came speed walking past us. Another group came up behind us and as we took the footpath to the next cache, they veered off to the right on a different trail. We sighed with relief but then a few minutes later we realised that they had made a mistake and soon could be heard trotting up behind us. Allowing them to pass we then stopped and I plucked CH022 Pressmore farm (GC1ECR7) from its hiding place in the top of a tall stump that lurked just beyond a strand of barbed wire. After this, it being around lunchtime, we decided to lay out the ground sheet in a field just a short way from the path and watch the scouts trot by whilst enjoying the warm sunshine and lack of ginger cake. I mean I was polite and accepted the replacement digestive biscuits from Shar with a smile and assured her it was ok but quite frankly if there is no cake on the next caching day out, I might be contacting my solicitor.

After lunch, during which Sharlene had amusingly tipped hot chocolate over herself, presumably for our enjoyment, we packed up and got back on the trail of caches. We noted that the whole time we had been eating lunch, we hadn’t seen any explorer scouts go past and hoped that we had seen the last of them. It was not to be however, as we had only been walking for a few minutes when another small group of them came barrelling past.

Paul and Sam stand in a field just after lunch

Refuelled after lunch

On reading previous logs for CH023 – boardwalk. (GC1ECRA) it appeared that it would not be a straight forward cache to find. There were a higher number of DNF logs than on other Chiltern Hundred caches. I had taken a look at the hint before leaving home, as I always do – my blindness is enough of an obstacle in finding caches without trying to do it without the hints – and knew exactly what it was referring to. The hint asked “How many trombones”. To me this made perfect sense, but that’s because I remember a song from my childhood called “76 trombones”. I admit it is a fairly obscure clue but I suspect that there will be at least one or two of you reading this that remember the song. are you one of them? Coupled with this knowledge and the name of the cache I suspected that we would need to be counting planks to find our cache. I told Shar and Sam this and as we neared GZ we did indeed find that a wooden boardwalk had been placed along the path, presumably to cope with a part of the footpath that had a greater propensity than normal to get overly muddy in wet weather. I adopted my smug face and we started to count. At 76 we started searching at the sides of the planks and underneath but to no avail. Feeling slightly less smug now I started a more thorough search getting on my hands and knees and shoving my hand as far under the boards as I could. Pausing briefly to allow yet more scouts go past I continued to search but still found nothing. Shar suggested that perhaps it was 76 from the other end and off she went to count. I continued to search, thinking that Shar’s idea would indicate a rather evil thinking cache owner. It was just a couple of minutes later that Shar called out, confirming that drsolly did indeed have a warped and twisted mind when it came to placing caches. At the end of the day, we didn’t mind because we had found the cache.
Sam and Shar stand on the footpath near the boardwalk cache. In the distance can just be seen a hi vis jacket of a retreating Scout. The Chilterns stretch out beyond.

Treading the boards

Continuing on along the footpath we started to descend rather steeply, obviously heading back into the vale of Chesham that we had traversed earlier coming from the opposite direction. Thankfully a break in the scouts allowed us to make a quick find in a stump of ch024 – Little Pressmore Farm (GC1ECRF). It was Sam who made the find this time and I am happy to report that he was in a much better mood now, probably because he had recently eaten and also because, technically, we were heading back toward the car now even though we still had 7 caches to go.

The last stage of the descent into the vale of Chesham was quite hard going. The footpath was quite narrow and the ground under our feet was rutted and broken up from the damage that water no doubt has caused when it runs down the hill. With just one more pause to allow yet more scouts go past, we finally reach the bottom and crossed over a lane to re-join the footpath and arrive at the GZ of CH025 – Chesham vale (GC1ECRK). Due to an administrative cock-up on my part, reading the wrong cache page, I had advised people to search the ivy covered tree to the left, but in fact the cache was hidden in the end of the metal crash barrier to the right of the path. Ah well, even I’m not perfect… all the time.

Being now in the vale of Chesham, there was only one way to go and that was back up out of the vale. The path up the hill was more gentle than the one we had just descended but it did tend to go on a bit longer. I think if presented with a choice between a long gentle ascent or a short steep one, I would generally pick the short steep one, getting the hard work over with quicker. Shar on the other hand would pick neither. At the GZ of CH026 – Bower farm (GC1ECRQ), we were introduced to the infamous dog that is mentioned in most people’s logs. The Doberman, thankfully, enclosed by a fence, made his presence known vocally as we started to search the ivy covered tree… yes the one I thought was at the previous cache. The dog soon got bored when he realised we weren’t scared of him. Even less scared of him was the cat that was stretched out in the sun on the other side of the same fence. I expect that the dog was rather miffed with the cat, blaming it for undermining his authority. The cat was probably totally unconcerned with what the dog thought… cats are like that… they rarely give a crap about anything. The cache was quickly found nestling just above head height in the tree and we did the sign and maintain dance before bidding farewell to the dog and cat who were both totally uninterested in us now. I have just been distracted by a thought and went searching previous logs for mention of the dog or cat. The dog gets quite a lot of mentions and the cat too got a few words here and there. I gave up when I got back to June of 2012 and realised that the cache has over 600 logs and there was no way I was going to search through them all. My conclusion is that the dog got way more mentions than the cat, but the cat gets lot more positive sentiments. Read into that what you will… I presume nothing, in fact I would be surprised if you are still reading at all.

I had been looking forward to the next cache all day. As the name suggest, ch027 – ostrich farm (GC1ECRX) was placed alongside an Ostrich farm. I had never realised such farms existed and was keen to try and catch sight of the long legged birds. Alas no birds found here. It didn’t look like there had been any for a while but on returning home it appears the farm is very much still going so I guess it must have been the time of year, or perhaps they are kept in a field further away from the path these days. The cache didn’t prove to be that easy to find either. The hint was simply “Ostriches are wild animals” which made me think we were looking for a sign with that phrase on it but there was no sign anywhere near GZ. In the end we resorted to reading past logs and when a previous finder suggested that the coords had initially led him to the wrong side of the path we focussed our attentions on the treeline to the left of the path. After a few minutes, Sam found the black tub hiding in amongst the undergrowth.

Sam is pictured searching in the bushes for a geocache.

Searching for Osteriches… or geocaches?

The path to our next cache, CH028 – ramscoat wood (GC1ECT1), climbed steeply with glorious views of the Chilterns to our left and a wooded area to our right. As we counted down the metres we realised that the cache appeared to be in the wooded area which lay on the other side of a high barbed wire fence. It appears that we probably could have taken a different route after the last cache to get here but not wanting to go back down the hill only to have to climb it again we continued on up in the hope that we would find another way in. Sure enough as we crested the hill we found a path leading back into the woods and we took it, travelling a hundred metres or so back to GZ. About 30 metres from the cache we left the path and picked our way through the trees and fallen branches to get to the hide. The cache was located snugly in amongst the trunks of a multi trunked tree. I was called to “stick your hand in there” and the container was retrieved. After a short water and Haribo break to boost flagging sugar levels we headed back out of the woods.

Sam made the find at CH029 – leaving ramscoat (GC1ECTB), which was hidden inside a stump at the side of the path. The hint had indicated that it had a stone on top of the stump but when we found it, the stone was next to it. There followed a discussion between Sam and Shar about whether the stone should be put back on top of the stump. Shar argued that to match the hint it should and Sam argued that it shouldn’t. When pressed as to his reasoning it transpired that he had none other than it would wind his mum up. Don’t you just love kids.

Our penultimate cache, CH030 – swing high (GC1ECTH) was one that I was concerned might not be there. Reading the logs there was evidence to suggest that the cache container might have been broken and that there appeared to be no trace of it at all at GZ. With the CO’s number in my phone I was expecting to have to call him to confirm the location so that we could replace the cache but when we arrived we discovered that the cache was indeed there. I can understand that because it is not a straight forward type of hide that a lot of people get confused into thinking it is not there but seeing as we have a hide that is similar to this one, all three of us quickly switched from searching the metal sign post for a magnetic cache, to looking for a string that hung down inside the pole with a cache on the end of it. Sure enough the string was there and after carefully pulling it up, a cache popped into view. I think that one of the problems with a series that is as big as this is that because most of the hides are standard nook and cranny hides when people come across something different they often don’t switch their brain into creative cache hide mode and assume that it is missing. Basically what I am trying to say is that we are amazing, versatile geocachers that kick-ass. True story!

Despite it being a relatively short walk, I think the hills and the unusually warm weather had drained us more than usual and as we made our way to our last cache of the day, I think we were all happy to be on the final stretch. Whilst Sam fished a rogue stone out of his boot at the side of the path, Shar and I continued on and made the find of the small square box at the base of a post at CH031 – great hivings (GC1ECTM). Whilst Shar signed the log and we did our maintenance I also chose to remove a golf ball that was taking up almost all the space in the container. From here it was just a short walk back to the car where we gladly shed our boots and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate before heading home. It won’t be long before it will be cool refreshing drinks back at the car rather than warming ones.

After this, our third outing to find and maintain the Chiltern hundred caches we have now found 35 of the 109 hides which means we are just under a third of the way to completing our challenge that we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. Happy Days.

This geocaching adventure took place on Saturday 7th March 2015 and took our total cache count to 999

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Another Day, Another Duck – Pugwash back on the Aylesbury Ring

In which we embark on another Pugwash adventure to Aylesbury, have two arguments, meet a tree wearing knitwear and fall over (again).

Our monthly geocaching outings with our friends Geoff and Melissa which have become known, through the combining of our caching names, as our PugWash Adventures , took a brief hiatus in January as they were having car trouble. It wasn’t until almost the end of February that a new cachemobile was in place, and all the planets and diaries aligned and we were able to head out, once more, into the great outdoors in search of excitement, danger and Tupperware. The plan was to continue with our ongoing project of completing the Aylesbury Ring, this time taking on the Pochard section that runs from Wendover to Kimble Wick. This is quite a long stretch and so we agreed to set out to do just over half of it and then assess whether we had the stamina to continue on or whether we would leave the remainder for another time. As is the case with all of the sections of the Aylesbury ring they are linear and need to be tackled either by employing a “there and back” approach or by using more than one car. Having two cars the plan was to meet at Great Kimble which was in between number 13 and 14 on the 22 cache section and then leave one car there and travel to Wendover to begin our walk.

As we left Watford, the rain started and didn’t let up until we got about 10 minutes from Great Kimble whereupon the clouds thinned out allowing a weak sunshine to break through. After meeting and greeting team Smokeypugs, we all piled into our car and drove to Wendover. Our parking spot was familiar to us as we had been there on a previous PugWash adventure. Wendover is not only the start of the Pochard section but also the end of the Mandarin leg, and this we had tackled back in November (see Zen and the Art of Canal Walking). The Pochard section doesn’t actually start until the other side of Wendover, about a kilometre or so from where we parked but we had some unfinished business with Mandarin first. On our last visit we had failed to find the penultimate cache, AR23 Mandarin – Through the Keyhole (GC4Q7NZ), but a subsequent found it log from our friend Bones1 made us determined to grab it this time no matter how long it took. It took precisely 20 seconds from the time we arrived at GZ for Sharlene to spot and retrieve the container which left us all scratching our heads as to why we couldn’t find it the last time we were here. We can only assume that we were all tired and probably hungry and just wanted to go home by that stage.

Delighted to have made such a good start we then headed back along the canal tow path to near where the car was parked to start the last cache in the Mandarin section, AR24 Mandarin – Roger of Wendover the Early Years (GC4Q7QF), which was a multi that took us on a walk around the small town of Wendover. We did not attempt this one last time because, quite frankly, we were all knackered and couldn’t be arsed. This time, however we were all raring to go and quickly collected the first couple of bits of information we needed before Shar and I decided to have an argument about what we were supposed to do with them. Sharlene maintains that my instructions to her were far from clear but seeing as this is my blog, I was totally in the right and she was in the wrong. It didn’t matter thankfully as Geoff and Melissa were also recording the information so Shar and I could concentrate on giving each other the silent treatment for the next 10 minutes as we continued to go in search of the rest of the clues. Sharlene complains that if we are walking together and we have an argument that she feels she can’t walk away to calm down because that might leave me in a vulnerable situation. This time however, she was able to ask Sam to guide me so that she wouldn’t have to hold my hand for the duration of the mutual snubbing.

After collecting the next couple of clues which were in the centre of the town near a very striking clock tower we paused to find, Where’s Halton? (GC45KNR), which was a straight forward magnetic container on the back of a sign that stood right next to the clock tower. As we spotted the hide we were annoyed to find a muggle standing right next to it having a loud phone conversation. We hung around for a bit and then as he wandered round the corner we moved in like a shot. A moment later, the muggle turned round to return to his spot, still on the phone, and was shocked to find 5 people and a dog standing there. It was on the walk to the next couple of clues for the multi that Sharlene and I made up, just in case you were worried. Wendover is a pleasant enough place but we were all keen to get away from the Saturday morning shoppers and traffic noise and get out into the open countryside. Not least of all, Smokey was straining at the lead and desperate to run free. As we collected the last piece of information from a notice board outside the library a local woman came over and, showing interest in what we were doing, proceeded to recite, almost verbatim, the information from the board. To what end, I am not sure. We calculated the final coords and after a short walk through a housing estate and into a park, we arrived at GZ. Sam and I got down to search the roots of a large tree, him using his new Super Stick Mark II, which he had been given by his granddad in Norfolk the week before, to poke around in the hollows. After a moment or so, I discovered the fake rock nestling in amongst the gnarly roots and the Mandarin section of the Aylesbury ring was done.

Sam stands at the side of a path in a park holding his new trackable Super Stick mark II

Sam with Super Stick MKII

Well actually that isn’t quite true, it was complete for team Smokeypugs, but Sam, Shar and I still needed to find numbers 1 to 10 at some point, but that could wait for another day. We were happy now to be heading back through Wendover to where the Pochard section started. As we passed through we met the same woman who had talked to us before and she greeted us with a cheery, “Still here are you?” Difficult to know how to answer that one really.

A short walk through the town and over a bridge that crossed a busy A road and we were at the beginning of a footpath at would take us to our first cache on the Pochard section. The general hubbub of the town was gone but we still had the road noise to contend with. However as we began walking along the path and into a small wooded area, that faded too and it was finally quiet. AR01 Pochard – The Start
was a quick and easy find for young Sam who had the cache in hand, retrieved from a tree at the side of the path, even before Shar and I had arrived at GZ. Shar, Sam and Geoff were in charge of navigating, Geoff was also responsible for recording bonus numbers and Smokey was in charge of peeing on things. Me? I was taking it easy this time. I had decided not to navigate to the caches but instead to concentrate on making notes for this blog and taking pictures and generally enjoying myself. The first two I did with a reasonable amount of success, mostly, and the last I did splendidly. As we walked towards the next cache we saw a cold tree. Or at least I assume it was. Either that or it had an over protective mother who never let it go out without a scarf, regardless of the weather.

This picture shows a tree with scarf tied around it.

“Wrap up dear… keep your bark warm”

Speaking of the weather, at this stage it was ok. The clouds had thickened and darkened a little but it was still dry although the wind was rather sharp. As we continued on towards the next cache I discovered that the backpack containing the lunch that Shar was wearing, was almost luminous, and that in the shade of the trees it was providing an excellent contrast against the surrounding vegetation and acting as a great beacon for me to be able to follow the rest of the group. This was an interesting discovery and one that we hadn’t made up until now as I generally carried the lunch, and not in this particular bag. It meant that as long as we were in the woods I would be able to follow Shar with considerably more ease than I normally do. As it turned out, this was the only patch of trees we would encounter for the whole day, the rest of the walk being through open fields and exposed footpaths. Ah well, never mind.

Mel made the find at AR02 Pochard – Cricket Pitch (GC4PNCN) which was a relief as when we initially arrived at the end of the wooded path onto the edge of a massive open field, it looked as if GZ had been cleared right back and we feared the cache might have gone. The wind was bitter as it blew through us at GZ and it only got worse as we headed across the field towards the next cache. The field was muddy, not overly wet mud, but sticky, very sticky. The field was probably about 600 metres and within the first 50 or so, layers of sticky mud were starting to build up around the soles and sides of our boots. Within another 50 metres our shoes seemed to have grown about 4 sizes and the weight of them doubled. It was hard going as we stomped through the field and then it started to rain. By the time we reach the fence at the other side, leg muscles were burning, clothing was damp from the mizzly (cross between drizzly and misty) rain and we all looked like we had mud slippers on. After a few minutes spent “de-clagging” our shoes we found AR03 Pochard – Spike (GC4PNCP) on the far side of the stile that was now covered in our scraped off mud.

Another field lay beyond the stile but thankfully this one wasn’t quite as bad or as big as the first one but the mizzle kept on and there was a few grumbles from the group about this not being as enjoyable as it could be. After Shar plucked AR04 Pochard – Wellwick Farm (GC4PNCY) from its hiding place next to a rather nasty looking rusty fence spike, we stopped and tried to work out the route the footpath took to the next cache which was quite a distance away. While we were standing there a group of walkers came behind us and we exchanged pleasantries with them. We wondered if they knew which way the path went and they said that they had been planning on following us. After a few moments Geoff and Shar worked out the route which was to turn right and follow the fence line to a lane which would take us through some farm buildings to where the footpath would be found, but the other party decided that this was not the route and turned left instead. Well, we got it right and we never saw them again so perhaps they are still lost in that field. The mizzle eased up and the sun broke through the clouds as we made our way along the lane and through the horse related farm buildings as Geoff and Shar reminisced about Hay bale fortresses from their youth. Once beyond the buildings and back on the footpath we decided that this was as good a time as any for a spot of lunch and so broke out the sandwiches whilst we sat at the side of the path. Whilst we had only found 4 caches on the Pochard section so far the terrain was pretty challenging and we were all grateful of the rest and food to refuel our bodies.

After lunch we continued on and found AR05 Pochard – Bushy (GC4PND2) although I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. I can’t even remember where it was, or how we got there. I remember eating lunch and I definitely remember the cache after this one for reasons that will become clear, but have no recollection of this cache, or who found it at all. I assume it was in a bush but only because of its name.

I remember the next one well because after we had walked across a field we met a couple of muggles with a Dalmatian dog at the next stile. We all climbed over, one at a time and then, with an audience, I slipped over and fell on my arse in the mud. Perfect. If you are going to fall over, why not make sure that there are some strangers there to enjoy the show. The only thing missing was a vendor selling popcorn and soft drinks. The cache, AR06 Pochard – Chalkshire
, was to the side of the path and the finding and signing was done whilst I was distracting the muggles with my acrobatics.

The walk to AR07 Pochard – Eeeh VIL (GC4PNDN) was very muddy again and there was another communal boot scraping session held once we had reached the stile at the other side. Buckinghamshire need to get their act together and replace all these bloody stiles with kissing gates, it is a right pain having to clamber over them. After boot scraping and a brief pause for some photos, oh and the finding and signing of the cache, it was onwards towards AR08 Pochard – Posted (GC4PNEF) which I think Sam found in the top of a post. The group was starting to show signs of fatigue at this stage and it was clear that people were not going to be up for doing more than the first planned section as there were still half a dozen caches left to do and feet were starting to ache.
Next our route took us across a road and onto another footpath that was narrow and flanked on both sides by wooden fences. There was only enough space to walk single file and barely a foot of even ground to walk along. It was hard going and it wasn’t just me that almost lost balance a couple of times. Thankfully the fencing didn’t last too long and it ended pretty much right at the GZ of AR09 Pochard – Home Close Farm (GC4PNEK) where someone, I forget who, made a quick find.

Geoff and Melissa had already found AR10 Pochard – The Springs (GC4PNEW), in fact they had logged the FTF on it when the cache had been published. When we arrived at GZ after a much more comfortable walk, they stood back and Sam was the one that located the cache on the Ivy covered Posts. From here we continued on and after a while Geoff mentioned that if we wanted to grab an extra Church Micro we could take a detour using a footpath to the left. As we approached the turn we all looked at the wickedly steep hill that the footpath ascended and, as one, declared that perhaps we would leave it for another time. We were all starting to flag now, but we could see the end in our sights and didn’t want to push our luck. It was a straight walk along a relatively easy footpath to pick up AR11 Pochard – Ellesborough (GC4PNEX) and AR12 Pochard – Back of the houses (GC4PNF6). The former was easily found at a kissing gate and the latter underneath a triangular rock at a point where the footpath met a road. A previous log had stated that the cache was not hidden where the hint suggested but it turned out to be exactly where the hint said it would be so we were left scratching our heads a little.

We were on the last stretch now, the car lay less than a kilometre away and the walking would be easier in that it was along pavements. On our way to the next Pochard cache we walked right past Church Micro 1996…Little Kimble (GC4MMPT) and so we took a detour onto the church grounds to find the info needed for this simple multi. Mel and Sharlene slumped in the doorway of the church and said they would wait there while someone else gathered the info. Geoff, Sam and I proved that the men were up to the job and made our way round to the back of the church where we found a very handy bench right opposite the monument containing the info we needed. We jotted down the numbers and then sat for a short while and enjoyed a bit of peaceful and relaxing woman-free time. All good things must come to an end though, and so collecting the girls on our way back round, we headed out of the churchyard and across the road to the final location. We made a quick find of a decent sized container hidden in a lovely crack in a large tree. We signed the log and grabbed out a TB that was in there and then set off in search of the next cache.

Just when you think you are on the final easy path, someone throws a massive big hill in your way. It was exactly what we could have done without, tromping up a steep hill next to a busy road, but it had to be done. As we approached the top we made a quick find of AR13 Pochard – Great Kimble (GC4PNFB), which also gave us a chance to catch our breath before finishing off the rest of the hill and covering the short distance back to the car.

But we weren’t quite done yet. We had parked right next to another church and wouldn’t you know it, there was a cache at this one too. Church Micro 1970…Great Kimble (GC4MMW5) was another multi and so with a yearning glance towards the car we trudged off into the churchyard to collect the numbers. As if to remind us of how far we had come today Geoff and Melissa honoured the memory of the argument Shar and I had at the beginning of the day by having one of their own about what to do with the numbers for the multi. Shar and I shared an ironic giggle as the final coordinates were being calculated. But these weren’t quite the final coords. This multi was a little different. The coordinates we had, took us back past the car and down a lane a short way where we found a container which held within it the formula needed to calculate the final final coords. My brain was getting a bit fried at this stage but thankfully Geoff was on to it enough to stay with the plot and soon we had final final coordinates in hand and, more usefully, loaded into phones. And so you would think we would head to get it yes? Nope. There was a discussion about doing one more on the Pochard leg as this would benefit us greatly when next we decided to tackle the remainder of the section. Despite everyone feeling tired and really wanting to get boots off and relax, we all agreed it made sense to grab it and so off we went down the hill. It was a quiet country lane that had a small school on one side of it. As we walked, we noted that the children had been busy creating custom “SLOW” signs to warn the motorists about their speed. It got me to thinking as to what other art and craft related activities they could have turned to road safety. I suggested to the group that perhaps the kids could have made speed bumps out of papier-mâché but this was met with little enthusiasm and it was a couple of minutes later that I realised the flaw in my plan, especially being in a country that experiences so much rain. The lane continued down to a point where a footpath ran down the side of a railway line and this is where we went in search of AR14 Pochard – Off the rails (GC4PNFQ). A couple of hundred metres along the path Geoff made the find and then it was back up towards the car. Sam pointed out to me that on this particular train line there was a footpath that actually led across the track. Not on a footbridge but just a point where there had been boarding placed in-between the tracks allowing people to walk across. This was a proper official crossing point. I had never seen anything like this before. It might be just because I grew up in Suburban London and that this sort of thing is common place in more rural locations but it astounded me that you could just walk across the tracks.

On our way back up the hill to the car, we branched off down another footpath that would take us to the final final of the Church Micro. It is a shame we were all so knackered as this would have been a great place to take our time and enjoy the walk. The route took us past chickens and Geese and along the banks of a body of water. It was quiet and picturesque but all we wanted to do was find this last cache and get back to the car. Of all the caches of the day, this had to be the hardest to find. In the end Geoff contacted a previous finder for a PAF and then found the cache in a place he had already looked… in fact we had all looked there.

After that it was back to Geoff’s car and then a short drive to Wendover where we had left ours. It was such a good feeling to finally get my boots off and slurp a cup of hot chocolate at the roadside before heading home. I reckoned we walked about 8km which doesn’t sound like much but with the extra challenge of the muddy fields and a few hills thrown in it was enough to have muscles aching by the end of the day and indeed on the next day too. But when you find 19 caches with no DNFs, it is a satisfying and contented ache. Happy Days.

This geocache adventure took place on Saturday February 28th 2015 and took our cache count up to 986.

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

50 Faves of Wall Hall

I can’t help myself… I am trying to be modest but sometimes you just have to blow your own trumpet… right? I am so proud to report that one of our caches, Wall Hall 10 – We’re getting the hang of this (GC53X65) on our Wall Hall series has now amassed 50 favourite points in just under 8 months.wall hall 10 50 favourites It is such a good feeling to know that people appreciate the time and effort that went into building and deploying the cache. For details of the actual cache, see my previous blog entry, Wall Hall Caches Explained, but only if you don’t mind having the surprise spoiled.

According to Project GC the cache is the second most favourited cache in Hertfordshire with a very popular night cache being the only one with more FPs. Bragging aside I find the feature of Project GC that allows you to search for caches by FPs in any chosen area a great way to find those caches that offer something a little different or special. Go on, give it a try for your area Project GC Favourite Search.

I think that the FPs and all the great logs that we have received on this cache serve as a great motivator to come up with more inventive hides which can only be a good thing for geocaching in general. I do have a good few ideas knocking around in my head, the question is can I find a great place to put them and a way to actually build them. I guess only time will tell :)

Posted in Geocaching, Hiding Geocaches | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Who’s Home in Greenwood Park?

We stay local, find a truly special container, come close to breaking geocaching rule number 1 and find a favourite point that has been lost down the back of the sofa for the last 18 months.

At the beginning of the last week of February our cache count was at 966 and my thoughts, again, turned to what we might do for our 1000 milestone. I quickly realised that another problem was presenting itself, which was trying to work out exactly when it would happen and how to try and ensure that it didn’t occur on a boring micro, or even worse, a micro on the bottom of a rubbish bin (shudder). I knew we had a caching day planned with our friends Geoff and Melissa on the 28th which could potentially yield 28 smilies taking us to within 6 of the milestone. This meant that if we wanted to do something special for our 1000, Shar and I wouldn’t be able to find more than a couple of caches in the run up to our day out with Smokeypugs. Hmmm, not sure I like this restricting ourselves to the number of caches we can find thing. To avoid having to think about it too much more, I suggested that we do a multi during the week as this would provide us with a good opportunity to get out and spend a bit of time enjoying the fresh air but still get a happy face into the bargain. We agreed, and said that we would worry about the milestone thingy after the weekend when we knew how far from it we would be. It was starting to feel a bit like the 1000 milestone was dictating how and when we cache and part of me resented that, however I am still very aware of my promise to honour our milestones this year.

After dropping Sam at school we drove over to Greenwood Park in St. Albans which is only about a 15 minute journey. We had been there once before back in September 2013 to grab a clutch of trads that were placed all around the park. When writing this I was surprised to find that I hadn’t blogged about it but I think I was still quite new to the blogging world and not as onto it as I am now about reporting our caching adventures. Funny because I remember vividly one of the caches in particular, Julian’s Tangle (GC4FJ3Z), as it was inside a small copse of trees and you had to scramble up a very steep earth bank to reach the cache which was hidden in some tree roots. I remember all of us both managing to make the ascent but Shar gave up after a short search and ran squealing back down the slope. She stayed at the bottom and took photos. I also remember that I found the cache and getting down was far more tricky and I think was only achieved by Sam bum sliding and me edging down backwards very slowly even though I wanted nothing more than to let myself run down like Shar had. . I revisited my log for that cache and it made me smile. I noted that I had mentioned I was awarding it a favourite point but when I looked the cache doesn’t appear to have any favourite points at all. I can only think that I forgot to tick the box to add a favourite point and can only apologise to Hope2pigs, the cache owner, for allowing her to think that I was going to award an FP but never doing so. I have rectified the situation now and am surprised that the cache doesn’t have more FPs to be honest.

Paul hangs from a tree up a very steep bank

In A Tangle

Anyway, I appear to have become side-tracked and am blithering like a senile aunt who can remember every single minute of the blitz in great detail, but nothing from the last 7 days. Perhaps a small sherry might focus me… hmmm perhaps not. So, Shar and I were at Greenwood park to do WHO’S HOME (GC57TZ2)and as we parked up we were surprised at how many other people were there too. It took us a short while to realise that the car park was also in use by parents dropping off kids at a nearby school. Thankfully it slowly emptied out and we booted up and set off in pursuit of our first waypoint. It was here at a sun dial that we realised that we didn’t have a pen. I know, I know, a geocacher without a pen. Shar is the writer of words so she normally brings one. I do normally have a couple of spares in the bag that I always carry but no matter how much Shar searched it she couldn’t find one anywhere. Our last hope was that there was one back in the car. We made a mental note of the information we needed for the cache and trotted back to the car park. No pen in the car either. I decided to take a last look in the bag, just to be absolutely sure. I found not one pen, but two. After a short period of shaking my head at Shar and smirking, we headed off towards the next waypoint.

The next set of numbers was found on an information board further in the park. Whilst we collected the required numbers we marvelled at how popular the park was with dog walkers. A friendly dog came sniffing around us and was closely followed by its owner assuring us that the muzzle was there not because he was aggressive but because he was an “eater”. She mistook our politeness for interest and proceeded to regale us of his recent escapades in consuming a rubber glove and how the vet had only just recently removed it from the poor dog’s innards. The mental images of what a rubber glove could do to the digestive system of a dog were not ones I wanted at 9.30 on a cold Tuesday morning, or any morning for that matter.

Our third waypoint was the site of a time capsule that had been buried to celebrate the new millennium and our fourth and last stop was a bench at the top edge of a field that was both sheltered from the wind and well positioned to enjoyed the wide open vista to the south east towards London. We sat on the bench while Shar calculated the coordinates for the final and then I found I simply didn’t want to move. I know, I’ve said it before and I know you must be thinking what can it possibly mean for a blind man with almost no useable vision to sit and admire the view but it simply is one of the most peaceful and enjoyable things I can think of. I get a sense of the vastness of a decent vista, of the enormity of the landscape stretching out before me. I don’t need to see the features to realise that they are there, that all these small details fit into a massive bigger picture. I’m not sure what I used to get out of admiring breath-taking views in the past, or even if I took the time to stop and enjoy them, but now they remind me of our insignificance in the world. How we are just tiny, miniscule invading specs that inhabit this planet and it will quite happily carry on being fantastic and enormous without us. We were brought back to reality by another passing visit from glove swallowing dog and its owner. Time to find a geocache.

A wide open vista stretches before the lens. The foreground is not filled with much other than a field but the view stretches into the distance towards, presumably, London in the distance.

Humbling View

The coordinates led us to a small clump of trees in the middle of a grassy field and upon entering it, I was immediately struck at how clear the ground was. The trees were not those with large root clusters protruding from the ground and there were little if any fallen logs. Not really anywhere to hide a regular sized container. I pulled out my phone and set about feeding our numbers into the geocheck just to make sure we had the right place, but before I could finish, Shar had made the find. The cache wasn’t at ground level and blended into its environment beautifully. Upon opening it we found a cool custom made man constructed out of plastic about 8 inches tall holding a pencil in one hand and a thin tube in his other. The latter contained the log. The container also included a neat sliding drawer for people to leave swaps and trackables, it was a true piece of art, a most unexpected discovery that warranted the immediate allocation of favourite points.

I can thoroughly recommend this multi, it would be fantastic for kids particularly, the walk isn’t too long, takes you to some interesting places around the park and the container is guaranteed to elicit oohs and ahs. It was truly a case of quality over quantity for our caching adventure in Greenwood Park. Happy Days.

This geocaching adventure took place on Tuesday February 24th and took our cache count to 967.

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


According to the stats page in WordPress, my blog has 100 followers, how on earth did that happen? When you compare this to celebrity sites or famous twittererers who may have thousands if not millions of followers it may not seem like much but I am thoroughly delighted that anyone at all has taken an interest in my blog let alone a hundred of you. I just want to take a moment to thank you, yeah I’m talking to you, thank you for taking the time every now and then to check in and see what I have to say. I’d love to hear from you, about anything, geocaching or otherwise, so please feel free to comment or contact me using the form on the “about” page. Even if you just want to say hi. Either way, it’s great to know that you are out there. Thank You.

Posted in Geocaching | Tagged , , | 3 Comments