In August 2013 Hemel Hempstead was voted the ugliest town in the UK! Now I realise that being blind, I am not very qualified to dispute this fact, nevertheless I think that is a load of tosh. Admittedly we have not spent any time in the actual town yet so my opinion is based purely on the parts we have visited but as far as I am concerned it has some pretty impressive vistas. Those of you who read my previous blog entry, Caching in Hemel – Hills, Trees, Hills, Trees, Hills, Trees will remember that I commented that Hills and trees feature quite prominently, and it is fair to say that it is these very hills and trees that make Hemel the beautiful place that it is. Hmmm, do I sound like the Hemel Tourist board? Well seeing as I am not getting paid to say these things then I will leave it there. If however you would like to pay me to say these things then please get in touch.
And so it was, that we returned to Hemel today to try and collect a cache that we had to DNF on our last visit. As always I try to prepare a list of caches that we can do, time permitting. So also on our list today was a series of 7 puzzles that I had solved and which form part of a short circular route. And finally I wanted to visit a cache called Diamond Geezer and a puzzle called Codice Ossa both placed by Smokeypugs. Basically this trip was to try and pick up the caches that we had failed to get on our previous visit due to lack of time.
However, before we headed to Hemel we stopped in at a nearby location to home, that Shar had identified as a possible site for a cache or two. It turned out to be very promising and we hope to investigate this further and probably set some traditionals there. Skip to the bottom now if you want to take a look at the locations for these new caches.
Our first challenge in Hemel was to tackle Yogi Scone (GCGC4NCV6) again. We had logged a DNF on this one previously and this time we were determined to crack it. After our failure to find, Big G Wiz who had managed to find the cache on the day we had failed was kind enough to contact us and offer some advice with regards to the location of the hide. With this new info we set of from the car to climb the hill to GZ. Sigh… all seems very familiar this I thought to myself. “That’s because we have been here before, you berk,” Shar told me. Funny, I could have sworn I just thought that and not said it out loud.
On top of the hill we entered the tree line again and as is most often the case in these situations, Shar went one way and I went the other. There are two reasons for this. Firstly it is a pain in the neck to try and search where someone else is searching, they just get in the way. This is even more of an issue for us as I use my cane a lot when searching and this can cause accidents if you are in sweeping range. The other reasons is that we both really want to be the one to find it and you can’t do that very well when the other person is staring over your shoulder ready to pounce on your find and claim it at the slightest chance. The Phrase “well you may have seen it first, but I touched it first” has been used more than once, I can tell you… and even sometimes when we are geocaching too!
Do I worry about wandering off and getting lost? No of course not, I have a GPS in my hand that is pointing me to the GZ all the time, if I stray too far, I just follow it back and eventually bump into Shar, sometimes literally. So with renewed determination we started our search. One tree, 2, 3, 4 moving slowly away from GZ in ever widening semi circles… 5, 6, hang on, I have felt this tree before. Start again and do it properly this time… find a tree, ow! low branch… well at least I found a tree. Find the trunk, pretty easy really, all branches lead to the trunk even if some do lead you through nettles to get there. Next don’t be afraid to reach out and touch your tree and feel its bark. Get your arms around the trunk and get down low, don’t miss bits, now slowly move up the trunk and back down again, if you think you missed a bit then go back up and down and up and down up and down and up and …oh dear that must look so wrong to anyone watching! Also don’t forget to get right to the floor and feel around the base and slowly move away from the tree not missing bits, feeling for anything that appears out of place or manmade.
After 10 minutes, the feeling of determination was starting to falter and I found myself thinking that we were no further on than the last time we were here. Funny how when at home you feel that a new nugget of information has given you the insight into where the cache is hidden and when you get out in the field again, or in this case copse, it all turns out to be nothing and you are back to slowly and methodically pleasuring trees.
Periodically Shar and I would cross paths as we moved towards and away from the GZ in different directions and we would grunt something to one another along the lines of “any luck yet?” or “starting to bug me again” or “I have a bad feeling about this.” Finally Shar called out that she had found it and I rushed to her side to see the cache. Well that is to say I slowly moved toward the sound of her voice, rerouting 2 times after getting entangled with the branches of a tree. Shar had left the hide undisturbed for me to investigate myself and I must say it was an excellent example of this type of hide. Very subtle but also bold at the same time. Annoyingly I decided that I had “only just searched that bloody tree” and must have missed the cache by mere inches with my hand. Ah well all is sorted now as log was signed and another DNF could be ticked off the list. Many thanks to Yogi and Mags for the cache, an exceptional hide. Also a big thank you to Big G Wiz for the guidance towards the location of the tree in question, turns out the information you gave us was bang on, but for some reason it still took us about 15 minutes to find it.
We retreated back to the car and broke out the cheese and ham rolls and upon seeing a cheeky squirrel dashing around not far from the car, pondered the question of squirrel preferences for foodstuffs. I was interested to know whether squirrels would prefer a handful of nuts or whether some ham and cheese roll would be more appealing. I hypothesised that the intense flavours of the processed foods with all there artificial seasoning and the like would probably be all too much for this humble creature and the blander flavour of nuts would be more of a pleasant meal for our furry friend. At this point an ice cream van drove into the car park and thousands of squirrels came scampering out of the trees and queued up for ice creams, presumably with crushed nuts. We sat in silence for a moment and mused on how sometimes real life is stranger than fiction… although not in this case… pass the ginger cake please!
It was a short drive from here to our next stop which was the site of a series of puzzle caches set by Shadylady. The puzzle caches have been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks on and off and I was looking forward to now picking up these and signing the logs. I must say it was an excellent selection of puzzles including crossword, picture puzzles, number logic puzzles and even one that had me researching the Mr Men characters. In addition to the puzzles the caches had encoded text on them using various methods of encryption such as substitute cypher, Morse code etc. I thoroughly enjoyed solving all these puzzles and only needed to get Shar to help on the picture one for obvious reasons. The Shadylady Solve and Search caches as as follows :- GC4CQGK, GC4CYNQ, GC4CZ04, GC4DHGA, GC4DQCX, GC4DQVV and the bonus GC4EJN0. We sailed round the walk nice and easy, doing a little bit of cache maintenance at number 2 where the log was sodden to a pulp, so we replaced it with some paper.
Sheep 1: Baa Baa Baa Baa.
Sheep 2: Oh stop messing about Brian and talk properly!
Sheep 1: Sorry Kev, it’s just that I didn’t want those muggles over there to hear us talking.
Sheep 2: Which muggles… oh yeah over by the Kissing gate you mean?
Sheep 1: Yeah they’ve been there for about 10 minutes rubbing the metal and walking in circles.
Sheep 2. Bloody weirdos!
Sheep 1: I reckon they are looking for that geocache.
Sheep 2: Oh no not again, sick of these people coming here looking for it.
Sheep 1: Well they aren’t going to find it are they Kev?
Sheep 2: It’s not my fault I ate it, you were muttering away to me and I just lost focus and then next thing I know, I have a nasty taste of steel in my mouth and a bad feeling about my next poo!
Sheep 1: Any movement there yet… so to speak. Ba Ba.
Sheep 2 Oh shut up Brian and …. Wait… act natural, here they come… oh no he’s got a bloody camera. Baa Baa Baa
Sheep 1: Baa Baa Baa
The rest of the hides were quite easy to locate with the help of the hints and I was delighted to see how well the caches had been hidden to blend in with their surroundings using natural materials where possible for the hides. Kudos to Shadylady for the hard work that must have gone into these. We finished off with the bonus cache in the series which took us on a right little ramble round the back of some houses emerging from the bushes into a small park must to the surprise of a local dog walker. Finding the cache was a little tricky and we were rapidly running out of time before we had to leave to collect Sam from school but luckily Shar spotted in the nick of time and we happily signed the log and headed back to the car.
Alas we didn’t have time to get to the Smokeypugs caches today but this gives us a good reason to return to Hemel again sometime soon. I must say I enjoy our visits to the ugliest town in the UK very much indeed.
New Cache Locations
If you skipped here from the text above expecting to see maps or coordinates of our new cache locations then you are out of your mind. As if I would publish that info before the caches go live. LOL I bet I can think of at least 1 person who jumped straight to the bottom. Comment on this entry and confess, if you dare!