After finally bagging a cache on Christmas day this year, and with various family commitments planned thereafter, I really didn’t expect to be getting any more smilies before the end of the year. But as Sam and I sat in my mum’s car travelling along the A10 towards the West Norfolk Coast where we would be saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016, the conversation inevitably turned to geocaching and before I knew it plans were being made. We were staying with mum till Saturday, the 2nd, and I knew there would be no time for finding a nearby series, but there might be no harm in picking up the odd cache or two… over the course of the 3 days… say one a day… to help with our calendar? *smiling innocently*
As it happens, mum had been asked to check on a cache near where she lived by the cache owner who both my mum and I have met separately on a number of occasions at various events, and seeing as I hadn’t previously logged this cache, that would fit the bill wonderfully for ticking off the 30th of December. But even before we reached our intended target of the village sign at Thornham, mum was turning off the coast road and driving down a narrow lane, saying that there was one down here that we could pick up on the way… just in case the village sign one isn’t there? Good thinking mum!
As we stepped out of the car on the deserted lane , the wind took me completely by surprise. In the shelter of the car, I had not realised how strong it was, and it took me a moment to regain my equilibrium as Sam led me across the road to the GZ of Twilight’s Shocking Discovery (GC59DNQ). Sam had already found this one on a previous visit to stay with Nanny but he couldn’t really avoid finding it this time as he practically fell over it. The container had drifted somewhat from its intended hiding place, quite possibly due to a combination of the vicious wind that was whipping through my flimsy jacket and it being badly replaced by the previous finders. I stood holding the small plastic box and started to shiver uncontrollably as Sam added my name to the log. Retreating quickly to the shelter of the car I mentally scribbled on the chart affixed to the fridge back home in Watford, filling in the tiny box that aligned with the 30th day of the 12th month. nice!
We drove the short distance to VS #132 Thornham (GC587BV) and all assembled around the small tree which stood on the triangle of grass that was home to the sign. We then performed a little ritual amongst the three of us where we all took it in turns to bend down, fumble at the base of the tree and then shuffle around a bit. Eventually mum and Sam drifted away to investigate other possible hides of which there were none. Their hearts weren’t really in it though as they had both previously found this cache and, therefore, had a pretty good idea of where it should be. And that is exactly where it was, as I discovered a short while later as I “properly” searched the base of the tree, a search that actually involved using my hands to move some of the leaf litter and turn over a piece of bark rather than just staring at the ground and hoping that the cache would pop up and wave. A hand-sized plastic turtle was uncovered and the log extracted from its innards. On examining the list of names and dates, it turns out that the spate of DNFs that had caused the CO to ask mum to check it out were obviously as a result of lazy searching, as in addition to us, the cache had actually been found twice in the last couple of days. I mentally coloured in the box for the 30th day of the 12 month and then realised that I had already done this and had now mentally shaded in the wrong day… I mentally rubbed it out and then mentally told myself to get a grip.
We hadn’t even properly arrived at mum’s place yet and we had already found two caches. A pretty good start if you ask me. We didn’t do any more caching that day, but instead went into Hunstanton for fish and chips and a glass or two of a cheeky wine that described itself as “smooth and supple”, before indulging in that quaint British tradition of Pantomime. We clapped and laughed and shouted out in all the right places, and even some of the wrong places thanks to the wine, as the cast worked very hard to tell the tale of Aladdin to an audience that was made up of suspiciously more adults than children.
The next day was New Year’s Eve, but prior to the festivities that mum had planned for the evening we decided to “get out” for a bit. We had a plan… I definitely get my liking of plans from my mum- and our destination was Sheringham, a small seaside town on the North Norfolk coast. We jumped in the car and mum drove us to Holt… which isn’t Sheringham… but it is where you catch the train to Sheringham. Yeah, yeah, so what? You took a train. But hold on a minute, let me describe this for you.
You step onto the platform of the small station set in amongst the surrounding woodland of holt. The decor is old and charming. Not just 70s old in need of tarting up. This is 50s old and meant to be that way. It looks clean, just the way it would have done back then. There is a small crowd milling up and down the platform, happy voices and restless children. There is a sense of excitement moving through the people and you can’t help but let it infect you too. A sharp whistle blows a short distance away and, as one, the crowd turns to look down the length of the platform where a puffing steam train slowly chugs into the station, steam wafting from its stack into the cloudless winter sky.
People bustle off the train smiling and laughing and you are soon climbing into one of the old carriages and taking your seat on a seat that is sprung with a real spring… you can feel it. As you wait, the small black engine chugs past you on an adjacent track, heading to the end of the train to be coupled up to your coaches. There is a tantalising wait as people settle down ready for the journey and then you hear the loud sharp whistle from the engine and an enormous cloud of steam wafts back down the length of the train as the boiler is vented, preparing to transfer its immense pressure into kinetic energy that will spin the heavy iron wheels and drag the train from the station.
You hear the slow “Chug Chug” steadily increase as you feel the train move under you and the station disappears behind you. Within minutes you are travelling at quite a speed through the idyllic Norfolk countryside and as you look out of the window you can see the shadow of the train on the ground and wisps of steam passing by as both shadow and, above you, real water vapour. Your heart lifts and even though you have never been on a steam train before, this is exactly how you expected it to be. How every old movie has portrayed it to you. This is the Railway Children! Not a flimsy, modernised, simulation or a virtual cinema experience at some theme park. You can smell the steam mixing with the smoke from the coal burning in the boiler. And as you try not to bounce up and down on your seat like a small child, the whistle sounds once more as you flash across a level crossing, through the English countryside and back in time towards Sheringham.
After the delights of the train ride we made our way through the narrow and busy high street of Sheringham, which really isn’t very accessible for someone trying to guide a blind person, down to the sea front. The tide was very high and reached almost to the steps leading down from the prom. Our reason for coming to this specific spot was… you guessed it… a geocache. Sheringham – Art and Sculpture 1 (GC3RT3X) was a nice simple multi that required us to collect a bunch of information from a mural that had been painted along the prom wall.
Between mum and Sam, we soon had the coordinates of the final and as we made our way towards GZ, I worked out what the hide was going to be from the hint which simply said “Do’s and Don’ts”. After signing the log we turned around to find a cafe tempting us in to its warm and fragrant interior an so we celebrated our find with a spot of lunch.
The return home was made even more salubrious by the complimentary warm mince pie and glass of sherry that was served to us on the train ride back to holt. Whilst our last cache of 2015 was a fairly run of the mill off-set multi, I will certainly remember the day we found it with great fondness.
After a suitable lie in the following morning, it was agreed that we needed to step out for a bit of fresh air and so we headed to Holkham Hall, just a short drive away for an enjoyable, if somewhat chilly, stroll around the lake admiring the ducks and geese and trying to sneak up on the large herd of deer that idly grazed on the open grassland. On our way there we took a short detour to Brancaster to grab our first cache of 2016, National Trust Norfolk Coast – Oh Buoy (GC4J3Q3). We barely needed to get out of the car for this one as it was hidden on an old buoy that stood in the car park and seeing as it was so convenient we took it back to the warm car to extract the tiny log from the magnetic nano so that we could sign it. Tweezers would have been really handy but, ever resourceful, Nanny produced a safety pin from somewhere and the pesky log was soon in our hands and the first smiley of the year was claimed. As a bonus, we were in receipt of two souvenirs, one for the last day of the year and one for the first of the new one. Neat!
Only 4 caches in 3 days is by no means a massive haul, but they were spread over 3 difficult to fill days on our calendar and seeing as we had blocked out Christmas Day as well, things were looking good for making inroads towards completing our caching calendar in 2016???!! No chance mate. Its January 8th as I write this and we missed the 3rd and 4th and 5th and 6th and 7th and 8th so it won’t be getting completed this year that’s for sure. Oh well, I’m not so bothered, just as long as there are still caches to be found and adventures to be had. Happy days.
These geocaching adventures took place in Norfolk between 30th December 2015 and 1st January 2016 and took our total cache count up to 1381