I F*ing love Hogwarts!

Flourish & Blotts - Diagon Alley

Just under 2 weeks ago we went back to the Harry Potter Studios. This was our 3rd visit. It’s worth doing a return trip every once in a while because Warner Bros. add things and change sets around every so often. This time we got to go on The Hogwarts Express!

inside Hogwarts Express

In Olivander’s, every wand box bears the name of a cast or crew member. This visit was especially poignant.



London caches

Last Tuesday we all went up to town as Mrs. WizzardPrang and our daughters had a tickets to the Alexander McQueen exhibition in the Victoria & Albert Museum. I just tagged along for the ride, the plan was to meet up for lunch afterwards.

So, while I was waiting for them to complete their visit, what to do?

Hmm. Oh, wait!

I only had an hour and a half but I managed:

  • The Virtual in the V&A
  • A Church Micro Multi
  • 2 Earth Caches at the Natural History Museum
  • A Trad at the Albert Hall.

Not a bad morning’s work.

See Lions?

Today we went to Whipsnade Zoo which is always a great place to visit. Even better it’s just a 20 minute drive for us.

As usual all the lions were asleep, so we didn’t stay watching them for long.

I was going to post a photo or two of the baby elephants but I took so many photos that I haven’t edited them yet. Maybe later.

So, amongst the various animals we saw were the sea lions (these are on our shortlist of favourite animals), this produced an amusing tale. What happened was this: we arrived about 20 minutes before the sea lion display and the poolside area was packed to the gunwales with noisy children and their equally noisy parents. Well, we hadn’t come to see them so we bypassed the outdoor pool arena and headed inside the sea lion’s building, where the sea lions were amusing themselves in their indoor pool. As the time for the display approached, they became more excited, presumably at the prospect of getting to eat lots of fish, swimming, jumping and diving around the pool, they also kept jumping out of the water and going to wait by the door through which their keeper would emerge with her buckets of fish.

We found it amusing that we had the place almost to ourselves and we got to see the sea lions swimming playfully around in a more natural way than they would be in the subsequent staged display, meanwhile all the audience were sat outside staring at an empty pool for half an hour! 🙂

I took some video which I’ll hopefully post shortly, in the meantime here are a couple of photos.


Aren’t sea lions super?

Back to my park

We recently had a family holiday in Manhattan. NYC is one of our favourite places and we had an awesome time. Unfortunately as soon as we got home, I found that my mother had been taken ill and I’ve spent the last week dealing with that. So rather than basking in a post-holiday afterglow all I got was jet lag and the NHS.

This just goes to prove how important it is to grab that holiday moment and enjoy where you are and what you are doing when you are doing it. Good old Carpe Diem, as they say.

Hence, it has taken a while to get around to posting anything and I have yet to complete the edit of my holiday snaps. Meanwhile, as I sit in front of my Mac with this


bringing back memories of last week, here’s a “postcard from New York”.

When in Manhattan we always seem to gravitate to Bryant Park. Unlike Central Park it is a small, friendly rectangle of green at the back of the Library where New York’s natives go to sunbathe, read, eat lunch, play chess or listen to the lunchtime pianist. Incidentely, here’s a sign you will never see in an English park.

bryant park

In case you were waiting for some tales of geocaching, I must say right now that this was not a caching holiday.



No geocaching.

On pain of death.


We did find one cache, mainly so that Daughter.1 could get a USA cache and the NY State souvenir. One lunchtime we found Bryant Park Micro. Caching in Manhattan is not easy, the GPS is mostly rubbish due to the tall buildings (much worse than London, which you would expect) and most of the caches are either micros or nanos. Plus, as you already know, New York never sleeps. There are always hundreds of people milling about. Luckily this one could be completed using the hint and some dead reckoning (read the page) and in fact having read it up in the hotel I didn’t get my GPS out at all. The container was pretty big by Manhattan standards – a mag key safe – although with the park being full of people, retrieving it was not easy. Still, with a bit of subterfuge/bare-faced cheek, job done.

With the geocaching out of our system, so to speak, it was on with the sightseeing. Back on 5th I found this. A ready-made business for me if ever there was one.

my shop

Our hotel was pretty close to the Empire State Building. Here’s a hand-held shot of it from our roof terrace on Labor Day evening. Sorry I didn’t have a tripod. In case you didn’t know, the ESB people light up the top in a wide range of colour combinations to mark special events.

ESB on Labor Day

And here it is the next morning, taken before breakfast. <sigh>.

ESB day

Talking of food, I had a lot of these (but not for breakfast).


Yum. 🙂

Once I get my photographic act together I’ll post a few more New York snaps.

Bye for now. 😉

World War One – Centenary: Lights Out

My Grandfather

One hundred years ago today Great Britain was pitched into the darkness that became the first world war. I felt that this evening would be an appropriate moment to post an old photograph of my Grandfather, who served in the 17th/21st Lancers during the First World War. He was wounded in action but luckily he survived, otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing this.

On the evening of 3rd August 1914, the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, watched the street lights being lit outside his office in Whitehall. He turned to his friend and said, ” The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.

Tonight at 10pm, everyone in the UK is invited to join in a remembrance of this event by turning out all their lights except one.

So, my family and I will be extinguishing our house lights in remembrance of all those who gave their lives or were injured in what was once optimistically known as “The War To End All Wars”.

We will remember them.

The Royal British Legion website.



Last week I haz been mainly…

This last week I have been mainly decorating my Mother in Law’s new pad; whilst at home, amongst other things, I mended a wardrobe door, re-washered a tap and had the Freelander serviced.

What with doing all that plus the usual household admin there hasn’t been any time for caching at all. Not good!

I have solved a puzzle cache although as it’s not local I have yet to go and find it.  At least other local cachers have been a bit more productive, my new series in particular has had a few visitors. Which is nice.

Treasure Hunt

Spoiler alert: This post has nothing to do with geocaching.

Alright, so you are still reading this despite the above. After the excitement of the family wedding, we found ourselves with some spare days before the sun stopped shining and we had to head back to Hertfordshire. We decided to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, which would involve either a very long detour around the rivers Fal and Tresillian or a short cut across the Fal via the King Harry Ferry. We took the second option.

The King Harry Ferry is not really a boat, it’s  a chain ferry – more of a moving bridge in fact – and it has has been in operation since 1888. I can vaguely remember making the crossing as a lad when on holiday with my parents. No, not in the 1800’s you cheeky sod! Luckily being out of season we didn’t have to wait long to board the ferry and we were soon enjoying the peace and quiet of the crossing.

king harry ferry 1 king harry ferry 2 king harry ferry 3

Once on the other bank,we set off for the seal sanctuary. We had a good wander around before watching the sanctuary care team feeding the seals. The sanctuary do a sterling job of rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned and injured seals, always with the aim of releasing them back into the wild once they are ready.

seals1 seals 3 seals 2

More details on their website and I recommend a visit if you are ever down that way. They also have some resident otters – another endangered species thanks to the gradual loss of their natural habitat.


After leaving the seals we drove past RNAS Culdrose which, because the Royal Navy always names its bases like ships, is also known as HMS Seahawk. The Navy have thoughtfully provided a legitimate viewing area on the perimeter so we parked up for a while and watched the SAR Sea Kings and the more tactical Merlins coming and going. I’ve posted a few pictures although they aren’t brilliant (I hadn’t packed my long lens – we had more than enough luggage already).

SAR sea king Merlin  culdrose merlin 2culdrose merlin 3

Earlier, while we were enjoying the sights and smells of the seal sanctuary, my wife and I had realised that this was the location of an episode of the TV programme “Treasure Hunt”. Actually, my wife told me she knew all along and was just waiting for the penny to drop in my head before mentioning it.

Anyway, those of you who are old enough may remember this programme; Kenneth Kendall in the studio with a couple of contestants and a room full of reference books (don’t forget this was very definitely pre-google!) guiding Anneka Rice in her helicopter from one clue to the next. No? Well this may help. Anyway, in this particular episode from 1984, Anneka had to fly to HMS Seahawk for a clue then on to the seal sanctuary where she had to jump into one of the seal pools to retrieve the treasure. At this point I must ‘fess up and admit that I haven’t remembered all the details from 1984, we happened to see this particular episode a few weeks back on (I think) the Challenge TV channel. Ahh, the inexhaustible benefits of cable TV.

 (credit Martin Underwood)

Now I’m wondering, did watching Treasure Hunt all those years ago embed something in my subconscious which, many years later, developed into an interest in geocaching?