Valley of Gold

View - The Golden Valley panorama

As part of this summer’s Geolympix event, the team set some caches in the gorgeous ‘Golden Valley’ on the Ashridge Estate. Landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the Golden Valley is a lovely place to walk with magnificent views of Ashridge House.

Well, I missed the Geolympix due to eye ops, and today was the first chance I’ve had to start the huge, hopefully enjoyable, task of seeking out all the geocaches set for the Geolympix. I thought I’d start small with this mini series of 5 caches. Having said that, I started with a cache which had nothing to do with the Geolympix, a cache placed recently by my mate Bob – GC6P5ZD A Fine Pair #652 – Little Gaddesden. The national ‘Fine Pair’ series is all about combining a red telephone box with a red post box (more info on the cache page). That was an easy find so then Skye and I set off the the Golden Valley.

View - back along the valley

Aiming for the first cache, GC6K9ZE – VoG1: The Valley of Green, I arrived at the waypoint to find I hadn’t. What I was expecting wasn’t there, which was a bit puzzling until I realised I was at the second stage of a different cache. I must have selected the wrong WP! Knowing I would eventually need it later, I made a note of the information before plugging the correct WP for VoG1 into my GPSR and off we went again! VoG1 was itself a multi-stage and so first we had to get to its first stage. Once there I spotted an AAND which to be honest, based on the hint, was not what I was expecting. So I duly worked out the coords for the final and off we went again!

Finding the final was easy enough and I then thought, well I have part of the info I need for  VoG5 so I may as well pick up the rest. I had planned to do the caches in numerical order but what the heck! The second stage of VoG5 required me to find a plaque but arriving at the general location, a substantial brick-built bridge, there wasn’t anything which ‘leapt out’ at me. Skye and I spent a while scouting all around the bridge before I finally spotted the plaque. That gave me the info I needed so it was then time to ‘do the arithmetic’ and obtain the final coords.

view of the valley from an old bridge

Off we go again! From the map it was clear that this cache was not in the general direction of the remaining caches. I didn’t have time to do all of them on this trip so I decided to complete VoG5 and return for the others another day. And so it was that I arrived at GZ for GC6KA4R – The Hill of Pain. I have to say that yes, it was a steep hill but no, it wasn’t painful to climb. Maybe because I hadn’t walked the entire route. Whatever, the wet grass did make for a sometimes interesting ascent but, once we were on the flat once more, it was an easy walk to GZ. Now you know that I don’t include spoilers in my caching tales. Following the hint I homed in on the location. Low down in what I can only describe as a very bushy tree, there was the hint item and a convenient dark hollow. Which was empty! Casting my eyes around and about I spotted another likely hiding place and was rewarded with a tupperware box. Yay!

So that was it for today. It’s a great location and I now have to come back to get the other three caches. I promise pictures next time.



I had to take my Freelander into my Land Rover dealer today. I needed them to fix the passenger side exterior mirror. They’d replaced the glass and motor a while back but the adjustment controls were all muddled up: moving the joystick down made the mirror go up instead of down, and vice versa. It was driving me nuts but this was the first chance I’d had to go back.

It took two of the dealer’s excellent Americanos before they’d finished but it was worth the wait, as I had time to check out the local geocaches on my iPhone App. There was one cache very close by which I had been meaning to do on previous occasions (it had been temped last time I was here) so once my Land Rover visit was complete I made the short journey to GZ for a very easy find.

Funny thing was, the cache had been renewed within the last few weeks and only had one find between then and me finding it today. That last cacher had signed the cache page with a ‘no pen’ log, which I found puzzling as there was a perfectly serviceable pencil in the cache container. Then I noticed that their last find – just the day before that- had been a geocache in Zanzibar. Armchair cacher? Owner of a teleport device? Or maybe they got their dates mixed up.

Ho hum. I was just pleased to get a cache, something of a rarity for me these days.

Time to get back in the (caching) saddle

It’s been a long time since I did any geocaching (because of my eye surgery). So I thought I’d start things off by doing a bit of maintenance on some of my own caches. I figured that it would be a good test, e.g. to see if I could find some of my own caches before hunting for someone else’s!

I knew from a recent log that one of my Green Lane caches needed some TLC, so I started with that one. The container for GC5454Y (a small screw top container) was broken so I replaced that (plus a new log). The second one I wanted to look at (GC54558) was my “mystery” cache in the series, this hadn’t been found since December ’15 so I was a bit concerned. I began by checking the final. Well, I couldn’t find it. After a lengthy search I decided that it really was missing so I replaced the container (etc.). This cache is a sort of multi, except that the values you need to collect in order to calculate the final coords are “hidden” on a couple of AANDs*. If you happen to have copies of these in your possession you can work out the final without visiting the stages. This makes the geocache slightly different to a standard multi. Anyway, I digress.

I made my way to the other two stages and checked that the ANNDs were still there (they were), so job done.

Funny thing was, this AAND cache replaced the original one I set back in 2013. That one had 3 stages, using red, green and blue AANDs. I had to archive it when the green one went missing back in May ’14. Anyway, as I was walking to the final of the current cache, I spotted a footpath signpost poking out from a large bramble thicket – the very post to which I had affixed the green AAND in 2013! I assume someone had found it and propped it upright (sort of) roughly where it used to be. I had a look around the post and – surprise – there was my green AAND! I thought, maybe I can remove it and keep it for reuse elsewhere. Out came my trusty Leatherman and a brief tussle with the rusty nail I had used to fix the AAND in place ensued. I was just thinking, this could be tricky, I need to be careful that it doesn’t ping free unexpectedly and shoot off into the brambles, when… oh bugger. There was no way I would be able to find it now! Ah, well, I had already lost it previously so I’m no worse off.

Anyway, the cache is now repaired, enabled and ready to be found. I think it’s quite a good one (it has quite a few FPs) but if it goes AWOL again I will probably archive it.

*  Aluminium Alpha Numeric Disks, originally an invention of the 2012 Geolympix.


So I’m not the master of timing…

In our local geocaching circles, the Geolympix 2016 has been a long time coming and has been something I have been looking forward to. As it turned out, something better has taken priority in the form of the NHS. They gave me a date of Thursday 28th July for my second cataract operation which, for me, was fantastic and not something I would postpone for anything. It’s so good to get my “proper” sight back but it’s a pity that I can’t sensibly attend the Geolympix. The hospital’s do’s & don’ts mean it’s unadvisable to risk damage or infection by going geocaching, plus there’s the issue of regular application of eye drops, etc…

So I’m reluctantly going to be missing out on this Mega Event. Once I’m “allowed out” again I fully intend to mop up all the new geocaches the Geolympix team have placed specifically for the Mega. It will be fantastic to be able to search for caches using the unbeatable “Human Eyeball Mk I” once again!

By the way, there was another special moment this evening:  an excellent overhead pass by the International Space Station which I was able to see with my newly restored vision. Haven’t seen one of those for a long while. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Anyway, in case this is the first you’ve heard, here’s a last minute plug for my dear friends’ Mega Event:

Geolympix banner

If you haven’t heard and fancy going, see these links:

The GC5XXYY cache page and the official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site

And if you know nothing about the Geolympix or Geocaching, there’s this on the BBC.

Oh, and if you are interested in reading more about the saga of my retinal surgery, etc., you are welcome to visit my eye surgery blog, see the link towards the bottom of the sidebar under “Quite Interesting”.



The 4th Element

So this evening the oven element went U/S. Luckily we had just turned it on and hadn’t put any food in. I’ve ordered one for next day delivery so at least we will be able to cook stuff but what about the long term future of this piece of kitchen crap?

I’m not happy, TBH. The original element failed and was replaced under warranty, then that one blew last December.Now its replacement has gone. So this latest replacement will be the 4th element. Time to junk the oven for something more reliable? Or just wait for the 5th element?

5th element

Spitfire parts

I’ve been constructing more small parts for the Spitfire build. Everything starts off laser cut from flat sheets of balsa, so items thicker than that are made up by laminating 2 or more parts together. For added strength some of these laminations are cross grained. Once the glue has hardened, the part can be shaped to achieve the desired profile. For this I’ve been using a combination of modelling files, scalpel and fine glass paper.

Here are some of the items I made earlier:

small spitfire parts

From left to right: Undercarriage assembly (with the legs and wheels already shaped), Oil cooler, Air intake and Radiator. Above those are the exhaust pipes. All these have yet to be sanded to the correct shape.

The big radiator was a bit of a pig, as you can see it is curved and the flat rectangular panel has to be glued to the curved sides to create the correct shape. Of course the balsa has a natural desire to stay flat, so it has to be clamped onto the sides by hand until the glue sets. This proved impossible as for once the PVA refused to hold and the panel kept pinging off. After a couple of goes I grew impatient and resorted to using cyano adhesive. Job done!

Not shown here is the propeller assembly which has also received some attention.

I’m nearly ready for the next major milestone: covering the airframe. Can’t wait!

One binned, one recycled

Yep, the old seagate drive is kaput. Having removed it from the enclosure I had an idea. After a bit of a rummage I dug out a spare 2.5″ drive I had left over from a MacBook drive upgrade. Both that and the dud drive had the same SATA interface so I thought, why not?

10 minutes later I had a perfectly serviceable network drive ready to go. It’s nowhere near as big as the old one, either in capacity or physical dimensions, but it will come in handy as a shared drive for odd storage jobs.

Now all I have to do is take the dud one apart before it goes to the Council tip for recycling.

Moar Drive Trouble

Today I noticed that the external hard drive connected to my router was making strange noises so I powered it off. When I powered it up again it sounded like this. Oh dear.

I think this is even more terminal than the last time this drive failed with the seagate 7200.11 error, the fix for which I explained in this post. Nevertheless, I will connect it directly to my Mac just to see whether I can identify the problem, although I doubt it’s worth salvaging. I am pretty sure it is time to give this recalcitrant drive the old heave ho.




Too busy to cache

Well I haven’t done any caching since the middle of May. Many other things occupying my time, even including doing some interior decorating (still not completed!) which I was determined to get underway before my latest trip to the eye surgeon.

Then there has been my recent procedure to remove the cataract from my right eye, which now means I have to be careful (no poking my face into bushes in search of tupperware) and I can’t drive for a week, either. Hopefully once all this eye stuff is out of the way I can get on with some serious geocaching. Once I’ve finished the decorating…