Geolympix Ashridge 2016 – We’re Going!

geolympixWhat is the Geolympix? In a nutshell… it is a geocaching event held to coincide with the Summer Olympics. It was first held in 2012 and proved to be such a success that the organisers plan to hold it every four years. This year it is being held on Sunday, 31st July in the Ashridge country park which is just a 30 minute drive from us, and this time it is gong MEGA. Oooooo exciting ūüôā

“But Paul,” I hear you cry, “You don’t really like mega events.”

Well, you are right, I have gone on record saying that Mega events just don’t seem to be our thing, but there are a few reasons why we are choosing to attend this one.

Firstly, it is on our doorstep. If we get bored or aren’t enjoying it, we can be at home with feet up sipping wine/vodka/lemonade in 30 minutes.

Secondly, we are not really going intending to cache. We plan to go sometime in the afternoon, sign the mega log, browse around the stalls, take a look at the special attractions laid on, and maybe sniff the odd lab cache or two. So our expectations are much more basic.

Thirdly, we reckon we will know a good handful of people there. As it is on our doorstep and being organised by some people we know through the BBH Facebook group, the likelihood of us bumping into people we know is a lot higher. Plus there is a chance of meeting people who we know through the internet who are going too. Sarah, The Geocaching Junkie, has said she will be there as part of her whirlwind 3 Mega events in a week trip, and also Graham and Helen who write the Sandhurst Geocachers blog are going to and I hope I get the chance to bump into them and put a voice to a blog as it were.

And lastly, the National Geocaching Awards event is being hosted there in the late afternoon and I am very interested to see what sort of a do this is going to turn out to be. Whether in future years I will be proud to say I was at the first ever NGAs or whether I will be laughing at what a total dog’s breakfast it was. Either way, it interests me. Oh, and mumble… mumble… I may have been nominated in one of the award categories mumble… mumble.

So, we will be there, and if you are going too, look out for the man with the trackable white cane, it will probably be me.

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Washknight: Geocaching From A Different Perspective

Many thanks to Sarah for inviting me to appear on her blog.

The Geocaching Junkie

If you Google ‚Äėstarting a blog‚Äô, you are sure to come across the well-cited ‚Äėfact‚Äô that most blogs do not last longer than 3 months. There are, ironically, countlessblogs detailinghow to be a good and successful blogger and I read lots of them before starting my own. Onepiece of advice that appeared repeatedlywas to read other blogson your chosen subject. So I startedreading. There are a plethora of geocaching blogs out there and lots of really good ones too. One that I stumbled uponearly on,and have been followingever since, isPaul Weston‚Äôs great site.

Meet Paul

Paul, a.k.a. Washknight, is based in Watford, England and started caching in May 2013 when he read about it in his 9-year-old son’s geography book:

There was a single paragraph in the book about geocaching being like a scavenger hunt that you use a GPS device to play. Being a very techy person, this…

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As per my post from last week, Pok√©mon Go? iPhone says Pok√©mon No!, it was clear that playing Pok√©mon Go on our current phones was not going to happen. On Thursday we went into town and I came home with a new iPhone SE and totally unexpectedly, Shar also came home with a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy J3. So there we were, in possession of two shiny new top of the range phones… time to catch some Pok√©mon.

I know what you are thinking. This is a geocaching blog. And you would be right, but bear with me for a moment. We hit the town on Saturday and Shar and Sam got straight into catching all manner of weird named creatures and racking up experience points, candy, dust eggs, incense and all other sorts of weird stuff, that I am struggling to understand. Long and short of it is that they both love it, Shar surprisingly more than Sam it appears, a fact that I discovered later that evening when she returned in from having a smoke and casually informed me that she had “popped round the block” to pick up a few Pok√©mon.

I am delighted they enjoy it, and I am happy to tag along for the walk when they go out, especially if we can swing by the odd geocache or two when we go. You see what I am getting at here? When I suggested that perhaps we could walk to the library and look for the cache near there, I was not greeted with groans or grumbling but instead agreement and excitement as there were two Pokéstops over there too. I was mentally rubbing my hands together and planning the hoovering up of many an isolated urban cache around Watford even before we had left the house.

So far, the plan is working. We have been out twice “throwing balls at monsters” and each time we have managed to pick up a cache on the way. So whilst, Pok√©mon itself is not accessible to me and of little more interest than seeing my family enjoy it, I can see a way that the diminutive virtual monsters might be of great use to me after all.

[Cue close up on my face as my eyes sparkle and I laugh manically]

This weird Geo-Poké-cach-mon-ing adventure took both Sam and Shar to level8 and our cache count up to 1495.

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Pok√©mon Go? iPhone says Pok√©mon No!

As a geocacher, the idea of getting out and about with phones in hand is second nature. We were keen to try out what Pok√©mon Go was all about but sadly our household is rather technology retro at the moment. We were dismayed to discover that neither Shar’s android or Sam’s iPhone 4 stood a chance in hell of running the app. Sam could run it on his iPad but what was the use of that seeing as it has no cellular modem or dedicated GPS chip which means as soon as you stray from the comfort zone of Wi-Fi then you are knackered.

I thought perhaps we might be in luck with my iPhone 4s, but it turns out you need IOS 9 minimum to run the app and I was on 7. I gritted my teeth and took the plunge and ran the update to take it up to 9.037456493.3.2 or whatever the hell arbitrary number Apple have come up for the latest update and to my utter horror, all went well and my phone didn’t become a “brick” during the process. So then we could play Pok√©mon? Err, no.

Despite plenty of trying and occasional moments of euphoria when we thought it would work, it continued to crash all the time. We spent a frustrating hour in the park constantly loading the app and going strange listening to the annoying music.

Long and short of it is, the app only supports iPhone 5 and above, even if you do manage to get IOS 9 on your 4S, it still ain’t’ gonna work.

So, it looks like I am getting a new phone. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT upgrading my phone just to play Pok√©mon. An upgrade has been on the table for a long time now and I have been putting it off until I could emotionally prepare myself for the stress of it all. Blimey I am starting to sound like an old fuddy duddy. It is quite possible that by the time you read this I will be the proud owner of an IPhone SE, although I probably won’t be able to use it because Sam will be “catching em all”

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Showcasing the GeoBlogosphere #8

Below is another great selection of articles to be found on geocaching blogs around the internet recently. Don’t forget to check out my extensive list of geocaching blogs.

Brave little LAGeek
a bad case of Ophidiophobia for LAGeek resulted in one of those blog entries that you know you shouldn’t laugh at, but do anyway.

Kel gets creative for the Bugs
Some people are just far too clever for their own good. This is a fascinating article about how Kel created her TravelBug hotel. I have a vested interst in this one as Here’s Cheers to the GeoBlogosphere became one of the first residents.

Growth is not Sticky
While we are “down under” check out this interesting article i found on Ontario cacher R’s blog talking about geocaching in Oz.

Sandhurst goes to Devon
Back in the UK with the Sandhurst Geocachers on their recent holiday to Devon and Cornwall. Of the numerous articles on their blog about the trip, this one was my favourite because it demonstrates how easy it is to bump into other cachers sometimes.

And now for something a little different.
Normally I focus on articles from purely geocaching blogs in this feature but this time I wanted to include some cool articles that I came across on blogs that aren’t solely about geocaching. We went geocaching and I lost my cool is an article that I am sure a lot of us can identify with. Obsession, frustration and flared tempers, thankfully related here through the humourous slant of hindsight. A Good Day is an article that touched me both for how geocaching can be such a simple pleasure but also because of the deeper story that accompanies it of how a mother copes with bringing up a child who has very challenging needs. And lastly Special dates with Sam and Nate is just a heart warming story of how geocaching can be a fantastic way to spend time wiht the grandchildren.

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Half Term Geocaching – Lee Gate Part 2

Having cached already once in the half term, I was pleasantly surprised that the family was all up for a second outing before Sam went back to school. Seeing as we had enjoyed our first visit to the Lee Gate area a few days earlier, we decided to return to pick up the remaining nine geocaches.

In true British weather style, where we had needed jackets at the beginning of the week, just a few days later and it was much warmer which meant I was back to trying to decide whether a t-shirt was enough or if a jumper would be needed as well. As experienced cachers know, this decision is not always an easy one even when the sun is out and the temperature is lovely and warm. The extra thing to consider is how much protection do you want on your arms. Along with the showers of spring/summer and the occasional bursts of sunshine comes the explosion of nettles, bracken, thorns and all manner of other nasty things. Going short sleeved can be a real tough decision sometimes.

We parked at the same pub as before, but headed off in a slightly different direction this time in search of our first cache, Swan Lane (GC3BYR5)>. Straight away I was glad that I had elected to keep my arms covered as the first hide was buried deep in amongst some holly.

Next it was into the woods proper and a pleasant if somewhat surprisingly muddy walk towards Lordling wood (GC3BYRW). The area obviously suffered from drainage problems as the amount of mud we encountered over the next few caches was vastly disproportionate to the amount of rain we had received over the last few days and weeks. Our phones pointed us off the path and into the undergrowth a short distance and it was quite some time before we finally did make the find, the patchy GPS coverage not helping either as the phones were jumping all over the place.

It didn’t get any easier at Brun Grange (GC3BYT8) either. Once we had reached GZ, having to squelch through another patch of mud on the way, the arrow again pointed us off path and deep into the dense undergrowth. Another long search was almost abandoned when just by chance I managed to knock the half-buried cache with my foot. You instinctively know when you have kicked something that isn’t a branch or a rock, the feel of it and the sound of it is just not what you would expect for the environment.

A little bit of backtracking and then a climb up a long gentle hill, through yet more mud, took us toTP (GC3BYVB). Sam made the find quickly at the side of the path, but I was far more intrigued by the object that stood on the opposite side. It was a trig point. Only the second one I have ever come across “out in the wild”.

In case you didn’t know, trig points are concrete pillars erected, usually on hills and higher ground, to facilitate the accurate establishment of position. The modern trig point network was built between 1932 and 1960 and comprises over 6000 pillars placed all over the UK. In theory, weather conditions permitting, you should be able to see at least 2 other trig points from any one pillar, or at least that was the case back when they were built. Alas, now many are not visible at all due to encroaching vegetation. Whilst these things are a relic of the past, as modern satellite and laser measuring systems can provide much more accurate positioning information, you have to give a nod to the map makers of the past for creating a system that could allow the development of the national grid system, on which all the ordnance survey maps are based in the UK. I noted with interest the grooves and hooks on the pillar and later discovered this would be how a theodolite was mounted to allow for the measurement of angles between other nearby trig points.

Sam stands next to the concrete pillar that is the trig point on a hill in Lee Gate.

Trig Point

From here we turned tail again and headed back down the hill, and through the mud, to our next couple of caches, Edge of Widmoor Wood (GC3bytj) and Timberley Again (GC3BYX6). Both of them we found, but I don’t really have much of a recollection of them. Not every cache can be memorable I suppose.

Just A Tree (GC3BYXM), I do remember, as it was so nearly a DNF. We had reached a less dense part of the wood and the arrow was pointing us to a club of trees surrounded by narrow paths. An obvious looking tree or two provided places to search but Sam and I both came up with nothing. Shar wasn’t having much luck either and after about 10 minutes we were all ready to give up. We took a moment just to reread some logs and gave it one more search, digging just a little deeper in the ankle deep leaf littler that was all around and Shar came up with the goods.

We broke out of the woods and walked along a lane for a short distance before making an easy find of Gate (GC3BYQ1 ) at a kissing gate leading into a field. Once through the gate and even though we only had one more cache to go, we opted to stop for a picnic in the half shade of a big tree. So many of our lunches are staged with half the groundsheet in the sun and half in the shade. I love the warmth of the sun on me, but Shar is not so keen. As you can imagine, if we stay for any length of time, this involves a certain amount of getting up and moving the groundsheet every so often to maintain the even distribution of sun and shade.

Refuelled and refreshed we packed up and started for the last cache, Another Gate (GC3BYQK), and a longish walk back to the car. On arriving at GZ which was a gate in a hedgerow between two fields I was told that I had stepped in some cow poo on the way. I shifted instinctively and promptly put my foot in another nearby pile of poo. Consequently I spent the remainder of the walk back to the car, after we failed to find the cache, dragging my feet through the grass and generally looking like a bit of a weirdo. Not much change there then.

It was a shame to end on a DNF but Sam and Shar both agreed that it was a good way to spend a few ours together. Aside from getting cow poo all over my boots, I couldn’t agree with them more.

This geocaching adventure took place on 5th June 2016 and took our cache count up to 1480.

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Half Term Geocaching – Lee Gate Part 1

The half term holidays were upon us and so it was time for a little family geocaching. Amazingly, for once, it wasn’t me that found the caches for us to do, but rather Shar was the one to spot the Lee Gate cluster of CaptainJack caches, located not far from Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. My 3 second research turns up but one fact about the village of Lee Gate, which was that the local pub was once a filming location for Midsomer Murders; a programme that I have never seen and have no inclination to do so.

Our parking location was, indeed, in the car park of a local pub, but before you ask, I have no idea if it was the aforementioned “Midsomer” pub… oh you weren’t going to ask? Never mind then. Prior to leaving the house I had considered whether or not to wear a jumper as the weather was looking quite agreeable, but as we started putting boots on, I was glad that I had not only opted to wear the jumper, but also that I brought a jacket as well. The sun was vaguely trying to make an appearance, but the cool breeze was enough to strip any heat from its rays. This was almost June, so it was probably wise on my part to err on the side of caution when it comes to weather.

There are 23 caches in total in the Lee Gate series, but we knew we wouldn’t be up for tackling them all in one go, so we divided them into two chunks and, on this day, set off with 14 caches loaded into our phones. After a short walk along a footpath down the side of the pub, we were through a kissing gate and encountering our first taste of wildlife. The field was full of what, at first, we thought were llamas, but were actually alpacas. I so wanted them to be llamas so I could do my “bad llama” quotes from Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove, but alas it was not to bee. I was not to be put off though and did my quotes anyway.

We were in good spirits and walked with a spring in our step as we made our way towards GZ. I popped our collective bubble then by accidentally stepping on Sam’s “Super Stick” and snapping the bottom couple of inches off. It went very quiet for a few moments as the damaged article was examined before surprisingly, Sam shrugged it off, and we continued on. I had expected a bit of a strop at the very least, he being rather attached to the stick, as it was a wonderfully straight and sturdy one that he had acquired whilst visiting Nanny a couple of years before, but as he pointed out very maturely, the stick was a bit short for him now as he was getting taller, and it was probably time to look for a new one anyway. It is most off putting when your children act with common sense and maturity!

The llamas… sorry alpacas seemed very interested in what we were doing and trotted over en masse and stood about five metres away just staring at us as we searched for A Little Drink (gc3g8wj), which was hidden behind a water trough. They weren’t moving or doing anything in particular, but it was starting to get a bit creepy with 20 alpacas chaperoning us, so I was glad we made the find quickly and were able to head on out of the field. The alpacas followed us right until we got to the gate then they trotted off to the left into the tree line. It was like they were escorting us through their field, making sure we didn’t mess with anything we shouldn’t be. With a little relief we got through the gate and then took the footpath left whereupon we came face to face with the alpacas staring at us from the other side of the fence. Freaky!

Sam stands in a field with a group of alpacas watching him from behind.

Team Alpaca is watching you!

The footpath took us in between two fields, one containing sheep and the other one containing more alpacas, although these ones seemed far less interested in us. It also took us past two more caches, Captains Log (gc3g8x0)and Triple Trunk Tree (GC3G8X), both of which were relatively easy finds for Sam who was on good form today.

The path, which was obviously leading us through a farm continued into an area which had a few large open farm buildings. They seemed to be used as shelters for a collection of huge farming machinery and we stood for a while and mused at how expensive it must be to buy and maintain such huge specialised vehicles.

A little further on, the path took a sharp left turn and descended into a valley, but before we followed it, there was a cache to be found right on the corner. To the left of the path there was a huge mass of prickly looking undergrowth and we just knew that it was going to be in there. Spare (GC3G8Xj) turned out to be a real team effort in the end. Sam did loads of poking around and searching and eliminated a lot of options, until Shar finally spotted the hint which was an old tyre half buried in the ground. Getting to it was another problem though as the undergrowth was quite dense and rather vicious. That’s when I was called for and thrust into the proceedings, quite literally. Head down and cane in front of me I fought my way through the stingers and thorns to reach the tyre and then rooted around under it and found the cache. A nice welt of stings on my hand was my reward but the log was signed so it was worth it in the end.

Sam and Shar try to fight their way in through the undergrowth to get to a cache.

It’s in there somewhere

We followed the path down into the valley and picked up a small country lane in the direction of the next cache. It really was a narrow lane and a number of times we had to stop and scramble into the bushes at the side of the road to allow vehicles to pass. At one point a 4×4 passed us and then about 30 seconds later it passed us again, this time reversing back up the road. We were confused until we then saw another car coming up the lane in the direction the 4×4 was now reversing. After a minute or so the 4×4 passed us once more and this time did not return, either forwards or backwards. Whereas Team Washknight had prevailed and beaten the thorns and stingers at the last cache, alas they got the better of us at Topov (GC3G8YC). We narrowed the possible hides down to one of 3 locations and searched for about 10 minutes in the dense undergrowth but found it almost impenetrable in places. In the end, scratched and frustrated, we elected to log a DNF and move on.

What you really need after a frustrating DNF is a nice quick find and thankfully that is exactly what we got. Sam had a brief fight with the tree that was the guardian of Arrewig Tree (GC3G8YP) before pulling the container from its hiding place in amongst the roots. It is amazing how quickly the mood can be lifted again and thoughts of nasty DNFs forgotten once the next cache has been found.

Having descended into the valley, it was now time to turn right and head back up, as we were reaching the point furthest from the car and the remainder of our route would generally be heading back towards our starting point. The hill that took us out of the valley was a bit of a killer and once we had almost reached the top and entered into a tree line, our group seemed to suddenly need all sorts of maintenance. There was boot emptying and refitting, bathroom breaks and high energy snack and water being taken on. After everyone was happy again we tackled the last tiny bit of the hill and made another quick find atBray’s Wood (GC3G8Z4).

Now that we were back up the hill, the walk through the treeline to the next cache was very pleasant indeed. As we neared GZ we could hear a road a short distance away and just before we left the woods and joined it we broke off the path to find Cornered (GC3G8ZH), which was a good sized container hidden in amongst some dense trees next to a meadow. Seeing as the trees were sheltering the meadow from the cool breeze and the sun was making a fleeting appearance and it was about that time, we broke out the groundsheet and settled down in the meadow for some lunch and ginger cake.

After lunch, we joined the road for a short stretch before re-joining a footpath at the GZ of Inside (GC3G90D) which we found nice and quick inside a tree next to a kissing gate. Further along the path another easy, if slightly prickly find was made at Under (GC3G90Y) that was located at the base of a tree surrounded by holly.

A brief stint of walking along footpath, lane, footpath took us through the buildings of another farm, or possibly the same farm for all I know, where we encountered a rather vicious dog that exploded into loud barking as we approached. Thankfully the animal was chained up out of reach of us, which was a relief, if a little worrying. We scurried past the animal and further along the path where we located Vee (GC3G920), aptly hidden in the vee of a tree. At least with CaptainJack, nine times out of ten, you already know where you should be looking just from the cache name. Some might say this is uncreative and lazy hiding, but I think it was a very astute move on his/her part as the numerous caches he/she has hidden over the years are more often than not regularly found and kept alive by cachers despite very little CO maintenance. If they had been harder to find, I expect a lot more of them would have been lost and archived already.
Sam and Shar pose standing next to a tree by a kising gate.
Legs were starting to ache a bit now as we made our way through a wooded area to our last two caches that would take us back to the car. Sam made yet another find at End (GC3G92F), this time in the end of a hollow log to the side of the path at the first. The gods of geocaching weren’t quite done with us yet though, as we encountered our only patch of mud on the walk to the last cache of the day. When your legs are tired and aching, having the extra strain of squelching mud seems a little unfair, but despite this, there was only the smallest amount of grumbling, most of it from me to be honest. I was tired and just wanted to be done now and so took very little notice of the last find of the day, Rockin (GC3G94R), which was a rock cache that thankfully was quickly found by… you know what? I have no idea at all who did find it!

13 out of 14 caches found and a thoroughly enjoyable day in the Buckinghamshire countryside was had by all. Not bad for the first day of the half term holidays.

This geocaching adventure took place on 29th May 2016 and took our total cache count up to 1472.

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GeoDate – The Reconciliation

One of our recent GeoDates was somewhat of a disaster, which you can read about on my previous blog entry When geocaching despair leads to thoughts of cannibalism. Since then we had enjoyed a good family day out caching, but Sharlene and I were keen to embark on another GeoDate and vanquish the memory of that dark day in the Misbourne valley.

I picked out a cluster of caches in the St. Leonards / Cholesbury area which is just a stone’s throw from Tring in Hertfordshire, although I am not sure they would permit anything as raucous as the throwing of stones in Tring, oh dear me no. Most of the hides belonged to CaptainJack, a cache owner that I have mentioned countless times on this blog, as we have attempted hundreds of his caches in the past. Actually, I really should check how many of his we have found…but not now. There were a couple of caches there were part of a series called Universally Challenge, which is a series dating back to 2005.

Originally the series had 10 caches in it all named after celestial bodies, 9 of them containing bonus numbers which would enable you to find number 10, the sun. It is quite rare to see a series that dates as far back as this one does and it is considered somewhat required caching amongst the locals. Eventually everyone does them, or at least should do. The hides are placed quite a distance apart, as was the norm back then and this allowed the likes of CaptainJack to come along in subsequent years and pepper the surrounding countryside with easy trads to give you something to do on the way to each cache in the series. Last summer we did cache in the area and attempted to pick up a couple in the series but had no success at all, and I wondered whether we would even reattempt them. You can read about that day on my previous blog entry, Playing with planets and getting scorched by The Sun. Considering our previous failure with the Universally Challenged caches and factoring in our desire for a pleasant, re-energizing caching day, it might seem odd that I was suggesting these particular hides. Well, they weren’t the same ones from the series that we attempted last time and my attitude this time was different. We were there mainly for the CaptainJack caches and the prospect of a nice woodland walk, if we managed to find the Universally Challenged caches, that would be a bonus.

As we parked on a small patch of clear ground next to a gate and set about putting our boots on, I was hopeful that this was going to be a good day. The weather was comfortable, not hot, nor cold and no sign of rain in the forecast. Just beyond the gate lay wide footpaths leading off into the woodland and all that could be heard was the birds tweeting in the trees. This was exactly the sort of caching I was hoping for.

And we weren’t disappointed, the walking was easy and enjoyable and the first 3 caches were found with no trouble at all. The sheer joy of the peaceful surroundings allowed the stress of everyday family life in a busy town to just slip away. The biggest problem we experienced was that the relatively high density of trees made for somewhat troublesome GPS readings and we had to use our caching instinct rather than rely on accurate readings in some cases, but if that is the only problem then that is no problem at all really.

Sharlene is barely visible in amongst the holly looking for a cache

Spot The Shar. She is buried in there somewhere!

At The pit we got a bit confused as we were looking for a large pit, maybe the result of gravel quarrying (hmmm that doesn’t even sound like it is a thing) and so were somewhat bemused to eventually find the cache nestled in the side of what can only be described as a depression in the ground. I made a note on my voice recorder to that effect and then tried to record the sound of the peaceful woodland for posterity.

In case you were wondering,, that is the voiceover function on my iPhone and although both Shar and I tend to tune out her wafflings having live with her for so many years, she does have a habit of chipping in right at the wrong moment. As an aside, my choice of voice is an Australian female, picked over the other choices which were English British and English American. I have always had a thing for antipodean accents, which is no more evident in my choice of Sharlene as the person I want to share my llife with. Her accent is softening a lot now as she has been here for almost exactly the same amount of time she has spent in NZ. For the record, there was no option for me to select English New Zealand for my VoiceOver voice.

The cache after this was one of the Universally Challenged caches and whilst it was a little tough to locate, , find it we did and made a note of the first bonus number, I wonder if we will ever get all the numbers. Could be tricky, especially as Mars has been missing for a number of years now. What? are you mad? How on earth could you even think there is a chance of completing the series then? Well as I said before it has proved a very popular series over the years and I am certain that many of our friends on the local BBH Facebook group will have the codes about their persons somewhere, so a small amount of bribery, probably with cake, should secure the missing code should we need it.

After another straightforward CaptainJack cache it was time to try and find the next Universally Challenge cache. This one was a bit trickier, it being hidden at the centre of an enormous Rhododendron bush. “Bush” really doesn’t do the thing justice. It was massive covering an area of about 50 feet square I would say. This thing could audition for the part of creepy, blood thirsty, alien thing on Doctor Who any day of the week hell it could probably get its own film. It took us about 10 minutes to find our way to the middle of the thing and then we were rewarded with a very nice sized cache that was in pretty good condition considering how long it had been there. Two planets down, two bonus numbers logged. This day was going very well indeed.

Paul is sitting on a horizintal tree limb resting his weary bones.

When you see a tree limb like this, how can you not take advantage of it?

All that remained now was a pleasant walk back to the car through the woods, stopping to pick up one last cache that we had intentionally skipped on the way round to allow us to break up the last stretch. It was an easy find deep in a hollow of a post next to a gate and it was just a shame the majority of other people to pass this way had decided to use the hollow as a rubbish bin. Come on people, just take it home with you!

Eight caches found and no DNFS, but more importantly both Shar and I agreed that it had restored our faith in the concept of the GeoDate. Happy Days.

This geocaching adventure took place on Tuesday 17th May and took our total cache count up to 1459.

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GeoDate – Relationship Counselling

After our disastrous GeoDate recently (See When Geocaching Despair leads to Thoughts of Cannibalism), it was time to try and patch things up, if we wanted to rebuild our relationship with geocaching at all. After doing a couple of much needed maintenance container replacements on our own caches we headed over to nearby Howe Wood to try and find just a couple of caches. We didn’t want to rush back into things… we needed to take it slow. So a metaphorical dipping of toes in the water was called for. Funnily enough the first cache we chose could have so easily been a literal dipping of toes in the water. Here are my logs for those two caches.

Wet Paws (GC4HYHP )

#1450 Out for a lovely walk after doing some maintenance on some of our own nearby caches. A lovely morning and a beautiful walk. Cache found quickly and in good condition. I was 2 steps from walking into the pond apparently according to the other half while searching for this. I suspect she was a heartbeat from pushing me in. TFTC

Palm Tree

#1451 The birds chirping and sun starting to get warm as we walked along side the school playground to get here. Snippets of shouted conversations could be heard over the joyful yelps and screams of the kids as they played. “Good one basher”, “5 more then you can have a go”, Turn round first”, GET HER” and the slightly panicked voice of a teacher calling “Callum! don’t do that!”. As we neared gz the bell rang and silence descended upon us once more. The walk to the cache was very nice and the hiding spot a lovely place. Love the cache hide have a fav point. TFTC

both caches belong to Hope2pigs, a woman who has stolen more favourite points from me than any other cache owner.

So how did it go? Well, there were no arguments, no getting lost, no massive hills, no busy roads and no hunger fuelled grumpy blind man so it went well. Whilst it is early days, we both agree that our relationship with geocaching may be on the men.

This geocaching relate session took place on Thursday 12th May and took our cache count up to 1451.

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Crouching Potter, Hidden Tupperware

The first Monday in May is always a public holiday, or Bank Holiday as we call them in the UK for some reason, and what better way to make the most of a three day weekend than to do a bit of family geocaching. I had in my sights a small cluster of unconnected caches in the delightfully named village of Potters Crouch. One can only speculate as to the origins of the name of this small hamlet that lies just to the south west of St. Albans in Hertfordshire. It seems certain that it is in some way linked to a potter who had at some point set up in the area. As for the crouch part of the name, well perhaps he was not rich enough to afford high ceilings and this meant he had to squat down a lot. Or maybe Crouch is an evolved word and previously it might have been cross or crotch! Hmmm, well the less said about the latter the better me thinks.

The area is typical of Hertfordshire in that it is rural but not too far from a larger town or city. Open fields and farmland are flanked by little clusters of modestly sized but probably not modestly priced houses and footpaths criss-cross the landscape making it a paradise for cyclists, walkers and of course geocachers. The weather was “stable” with a glint of hope on the horizon that the sun might make an appearance and disprove the old saying that it always rains on Bank Holiday weekends.

Our improvised route along lanes, footpaths and over fields would take us past 7 geocaches and the first of these Bones10 Rose Garden (GCTWF9) was just a couple of hundred metres from our parking spot, along a footpath that ran down the side of a field. We didn’t quite make it to the GZ before the familiar strains of “There’s something in my shoe” was heard from Sam and so we spent the next couple of minutes doing field maintenance on the shoe and surgery on the imperceptibly injured foot.

Sam sits at the sie of the path with shoe off and Shar tries to see what is causing the problem

“I Swear there is a scopion in there or something!”

With cache found in good condition at the side of the path, plaster applied to foot, shoe emptied of 200 grams of broken glass )or so you would think), the sun attempting to break through the clouds and the smell of burning rubbish wafting across the field, I breathed deep and realised that I had missed all this and was happy to be out, getting amongst it again, once more in search of dirty tupperware.

Hmmm, Dirty Tupperware sounds like it should be the name of a trashy romance novel.

The walk to our next cache was probably the longest gap between caches, it being about 1km or so but as we always say, “get the long walks between caches out the way early on”. We happily chatted and horsed around as we made our way along the edge of the field and over a small lane to pick up the path again that could barely be made out heading diagonally through a arable field. We plodded on and then found that the terrain suddenly got a lot easier. It had gone from being rutted earth and strewn with rocks to being smooth with a uniform grassy surface. It was well maintained too and seemed extremely out of place. The piece of loving manicured land seemed to extend away from us in a wide strip in a very straight line right to the far corner of the field where a couple of large indistinct buildings could be seen.

“I think we might be on an airfield guys!”


“This looks very suspiciously like a runway, albeit a small grassy one.”

“Oh shhhh, you are right!”

We quickly made our way off the manicured grass and onto the uneven rutted part of the field and after searching in the distance for a moment, Shar was able to locate the correct route of the footpath that would allow us to traverse the field without causing a minor air disaster. To be fair the footpath does take you to within literally 20 feet of the end of the strip and there didn’t seem to be any evidence of a sign alerting walkers to its existence. Whatever type of aircraft used this field couldn’t be very big though as the runway was only a few hundred metres long at most.

Safely at the far side of the field, we crossed a quiet lane and found our next cache, Creatures Great and Small (GC5PPKT), which was a fake snail clinging to the underside of a metal gate. I was happy to claim this one as a find and bore only a few thorn wounds as evidence of the hunt.

The sun was out and doing a grand job now of warming us as we strolled along the peaceful country lane towards our next cache. We pause briefly to watch a small plane take off from the airfield where we had just been walking and gave just a little thanks that we had passed by when we did and not at this time. A short way up the lane we came to a small triangle of grass in the middle of a three way junction. On the grass was a sign and hidden on the sign was our next cache, Bedmond Tipping (GC632WK).

Back on the lane we had to dodge numerous cyclists and walkers, but very few cars, as we headed in search of our next cache, Cotoneaster Island (GC5KW60). Here our knowledge let us down again as we searched in vain for 10 minutes before we realised that Cotoneaster was in fact a shrub. Even armed with this knowledge we were no better off and despite searching the 50 foot triangle of trees and shrubs nestled at the junction of another 3 lanes, we did not turn up the cache. Having given up, I did enjoy a moment the sound of a group of noisy Explorer scouts hiking past and heading off down one lane only then to return a few minutes later and go down the other one. What made it funnier was that a second group of explorers did exactly the same thing a few minutes later. I weep for the map reading abilities of our youth today. Just think these are the next generation of geocachers. *shudder*

After admitting defeat finally we wound our way along some narrow footpaths that twisted and turned amongst a few houses before finding ourselves on a footpath that would be the location of our last three caches of the day. The first two, Caution Barbed Wire (GC632QK) and Fraxinus has a Rocky neighbour (GC632MZ) were both hidden inside fake rocks at the side of the path. The former was hidden underneath a “caution barbed wire” sign and the latter was opposite a Fraxinus, whatever that is. I believe it is green and plant like.

A slightly long walk to the last cache gave Sam and I the opportunity for a few photos. Stick me and Sam in front of a camera and there will inevitably be a certain amount of larking around…

Paul and Sam pose for the photo, Paul is holding his cap in front of Sam's face

Trust me, you look better “like this”

OK, let’s try again…
Paul and Sam pose again, this time Paul has a very serious expression on his face.

Looks like someone just got told off after that last photo

One more time…
Sam and Paul are hugging. Sam looks very freaked out by the experience

“OK, this is way too much physical contact. How the hell even are you?”

Oh forget it!

Our last cache of the day, Going Somewhere (GC62Y5T), made us smile. It was hidden inside a pole and fixed by means of a modified clothes hanger and as such, shared some similarities with one of our own caches. I enjoyed it so much I gave it a favourite point. I think partly for the cache itself and also as a general expression of what an enjoyable couple of hours I had just spent in the countryside geocaching with my family. Happy Days.

This geocaching adventure took place on Sunday 1st May 2016 and took our total cache count up to 1447.

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