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”.

 

 

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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

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.

alan

My Lego goes geocaching!

Just before Christmas, my slightly Lego-obsessed friend David (see his blog here) sent me some brilliant customised Lego on a geocaching theme. I promised him I’d set up a Mini-figure geocaching adventure.  I’m sorry it’s taken so long but here it is!

comic strip 1comic strip 2comic strip 3comic strip 4

Thank you once again David for the mini geocaching supplies – I think these may feature in my online logs for some future (full sized) geocaches! 🙂

 

Oh, Bugger. Another geocaching slump.

Back in September we had a late family holiday after the school holidays ended. By now I would have posted something about my geocaching activities (especially as I managed to drag Mrs. WP and both my daughters along on a caching trip). So, where is that very interesting post? I hear you ask. (Ok so you might not actually have vocalised that particular question but it’s a convenient link).

Soon after we got back from Devon I had another retinal detachment, this time in my left eye.

My eye post surgery

While I could see perfectly well before the surgery, afterwards I couldn’t see a thing for a couple of weeks and it is only recently that my eye has recovered sufficiently to return me to something approaching normal allowing me to break radio silence.

Last time, my enforced sabbatical from geocaching resulted in a slump (no finds) of 49 days. As of today, I’ve equalled my existing record and if I don’t find a cache tomorrow I will have set a new one. While I’ve been tempted to take a leaf out of the book of the only blind geocacher I know, the intrepid Washknight, my eye has not yet fully recovered from its surgery so I’m not ready to risk getting it poked with a branch or some such while I rummage under the hedgerow for a small item of tupperware. I am, however suffering from the geocaching equivalent of cabin fever.

Maybe I’ll get around to writing that Devon geocaching post to stop myself looking at all those new caches on the map…

 

Un-Common Caching

Last week I finally managed to solve a puzzle cache that had been bugging me, Hope2pigs’ Conjuring Card Cache (GC5CDAZ). Not a subject I was at all familiar with (I’m still not!) but once more I’ve learned about something hitherto unknown thanks to Geocaching. Actually, it turned out I’d been on the right track with my solving method and it was a simple error with my maths that had prevented geochecker from giving me the green light. Hope2pigs had set a small series around Bricket Wood Common and I had visited there once on a FTF attempt (we got STF) but I had held off going back for the others, until now.

Having done a spot of research, I decided to go for the Multi of the series first for reasons which will become clear. Bricket Wood Common has SSSI classification, so is an interesting location. You can find more information about the Common here.

So Skye and I parked the Freelander in one of the designated parking spots and headed off towards the first cache, Hear or There (GC570QC). I had decided to do this one first as I suspected it might take some time and I wanted to make sure I bagged the “important” ones first in case I ran out of time. The cache page describes quite well what is required without giving the game away completely, so I’m not going to spoil it for you (should you wish to attempt it for yourself). The task is first to locate the first stage (at the published coords) which I did without difficulty. Once I had retrieved the container and opened it, I was then in possession of a “tool” (as the CO describes it). I’m not giving anything way by saying that I had to operate the “tool” and listen for a response. As the CO states, this cache is not suitable for the hard of hearing. Not knowing what to expect, I stood motionless and waited for what passed for silence before operating the tool. Nothing. I moved a few paces away and tried again. At which point the birds started singing. Then a truck trundled along the nearby road. Silence descended once more. I operated the tool. Just as I did so the birds started tweeting again. Damn! I waited for the next quiet period and tried again. As I strained my ears to listen (not actually knowing what I was listening for) Skye decided she was a bit bored of standing around and she started scuffling about in the leaves. “BE QUIET, SKYE!”. Hmm, that didn’t help. Once more I moved my position, thinking, correctly as it turned out, that my range to the “thing” might be critical. Then, faintly, I heard it! For a minute or two I moved around, homing in on the source…

After a bit more to-ing and fro-ing, I identified the location of the final but, before I could move in for the “kill”, a chap appeared along the nearby path with his German Shepherd. What now! Trying to be nonchalant, Skye and I engaged him and his canine companion in a friendly conversation until he decided to move on. Once he was a safe distance away I homed in on where I thought the final cache would be, at which point it was easily spotted behind some camouflage. Result! Once I had signed the log etc. we retraced out steps and replaced the “tool” in its hiding place. That is one novel, well thought out and prepared cache.

Next, it was on to the Conjuring Card Cache, by way of a small detour to pick up First Class?, a more traditional cache. Even this “Trad” was cleverly constructed, so much so that it was really hidden in plain sight. I love those!

Anyway, on to the puzzle cache. The coords were spot on, I think this may have been helped by us attempting these before the trees develop their full foliage and bugger up the GPS signal. As it was, it seemed a short search indeed before I spotted the very well constructed natural camouflaged container.

Once we’d put everything back, it was time to cross the railway line (via a footbridge) for a longer, circular, walk around another part of the common where we picked up three more caches (Will you take offence?, nano sect and Uncommon in the common), all of which had ingenious containers. Then it was back to the car – which we found without drama – a relief as I had failed to waypoint it before we left it.

The Common is a lovely location only minutes from main roads and houses, yet it seems a world away. The woodland, soon to be carpeted in bluebells (I hope) and the birdsong soundtrack make this a great place to find a few caches. The containers and their camouflage are brilliantly designed and constructed and a joy to find. I recommend a visit, just as soon as you’ve solved that Card puzzle!

Geocaching once more

In which I get my geocaching mojo back.

Two months after my retina detached itself, curtailing my geocaching activities, I finally made it out onto the footpaths of Bucks.

Obviously I can see where I’m going but I was sceptical about my ability to spot a nano in an ICT, so I decided that I’d go for slightly larger containers on my first outing. I’d been following with interest the fate of some Chiltern Hundred caches which I had previously DNFd. Fortunately, my fellow cacher (and geo-blogger), Washknight, had started to work his way round the series and was actively undertaking maintenance when necessary. So I figured if a blind man could manage it, a one-and-three-quarter-sighted bloke like myself should have no problems. Actually (and of course you’ll know this if you read his blog) Washknight is actually Paul, his wife/partner-in-crime and his son, but you get my drift. 🙂

So, having parked up somewhere familiar once more, Skye and I set off along a footpath towards CH002 – Chiltern Hundred, bridge. This one was a bit out on its own for us but a necessary find for completeness. This turned out to be the smallest cache of the trip and it did involve Ivy! After that we retraced our route towards the car, picking up CH005 – Chiltern Hundred, Chesham back and CH003 – Chiltern Hundred, Chesham heights. Stopping for coffee and a biscuit by the car, we then set off to find CH008 – Chiltern Hundred, bridleway. Last time we were here, the bridleway was a quagmire of gloopy mud and Skye got completely covered in mud. It was such heavy going that I ended up carrying her. And of course we couldn’t find the cache.  Since then the path has been resurfaced and we found it to be mud free. Until we got to within 50 yards of GZ. There must be something strange going on from a geological point of view because that section of path was very muddy. Significant churning up by passing horses didn’t help the situation. This time I decided to pick Skye up before she got muddy and I’m sure she appreciated the lift. When we got to GZ I could see that there was only one place that the cache could be and it was. Very pleased to get a quick find. As we returned back the way we came, we made a detour into a small wood (owned and looked after by The Woodland Trust) which bypassed the muddy section of path. Result!

The next two caches I wanted to find were up near the village of Botley, so we went back to the car and drove there, parking in the carpark of the Hen & Chicken pub. From there it was a short walk to CH012 – Chiltern Hundred, Lee farm although spotting the footpath sign pointing into what looked like a private farm yard took me a few minutes. Finding the cache took a further few minutes but having the knowledge that Washknight had been there and maintained the cache just a couple of days before gave me the confidence to a) search in an exposed area and b) ignore the many muggle vehicles which drove past me. Of course nobody paid me the slightest attention! After that it was on to the last one of the day, CH013 – Chiltern Hundred, Codmore view. The funny thing about this one was that Washknight had found 2 containers on his visit. He performed maintenance on the original container and removed the other, temporary, one. I was therefore surprised to spot the container in a place which didn’t fit the hint and was a few metres off. A look at the log showed me that this was yet another “throw-down”, albeit a nice container and not just a film pot. Shortly afterwards I located the correct, original, container with Washknight’s new log and laminated card with the bonus code! So I signed that log and removed the other container. I wonder if there are any more?

I was pleased with the day. Skye had a really nice long walk and I got my caching eye back in. I filled in a matrix day and my six finds brought my total Chiltern Hundred finds up to 99, excluding the bonus. I really just need to find one more of my DNFs and that will be sufficient, I think.

Lastly, a big thank you to team Washknight for their cache maintenance which certainly helped to make those DNFs more “findable”.

Site for Sore Eyes

Two weeks ago I suffered a detached retina which needed emergency surgery. Since then I’ve not been able to see the screen, much less type anything so this is the first reasonable chance I’ve had to post something. I’m still waiting for my vision to improve but over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting bits of the story which I think you might find interesting.

Keep your eyes peeled. 🙂

Taxi

On Saturday night I went to pick my daughter up after her works do.

I arrived at the hotel venue just before pumpkin time, parking discreetly slightly back from the reception entrance/exit where a few revellers were mincing about. Then, shortly after midnight, the noise from the disco ceased abruptly. Chucking out time! Small groups of partygoers started leaving and cabs started arriving.

So there I was, sitting there contentedly waiting for my daughter to appear, when a slightly inebreated chap, accompanied by his girlfriend tottering on very high heels, approached my vehicle. He tapped on the front passenger window. I thought, he’ll realise his error shortly, I’ll ignore him.  He rapped on the window again so I gave him what I call my dismissive wave. By this time his girlfriend had made it to the rear door and they both started trying the door handles but were unable to open the doors (my doors lock automatically when I drive off so they were still locked). They both seemed perplexed by this development and tried the doors again. They’d obviously not read the memo about not getting into unknown cars. So I opened the passenger window an inch and engaged them in conversation.

 

taxi
This is a taxi

Me: “I’m not a cab.”

Bloke: “Uh?”

Me: “I’m not a cab. Or a taxi.”

Bloke: “You’re not a cab then?”

(Bear in mind he’s trying to get into a muddy Freelander)

 

lr
This is not a taxi. You can see how they’d get confused.

Me: “No. I’m waiting for someone.”

Bloke: “Who you waiting for then?”

Me (still trying to be polite): “That’s none of your business.”

Bloke: “Uh, ok.”

Girl: “He not a cab then?”

Bloke: “No, he’s not a cab.”

After a minute or so of just standing there looking bemused, they wandered off. Luckily, at that moment my daughter arrived so I unlocked the doors, she hopped in and I drove off before any more drunks tried to join us. You can’t make this stuff up!