My Yearly FTF

Let’s be clear about this, I’m no FTF hound. True, it is fun to get a FTF every now and again but I’m just not that dedicated/focussed/obsessed/mad. According to what I’ve learnt from those who are one (maybe all) of the above, I’d have to remain permanently sober, sleep in a chair with my caching trousers and boots on at all times and… You get the idea. (to my FTF crazy friends: I’m only joking. About the sober bit. Honest.).

Let’s apply some perspective: my last FTF was on 22 March 2016. Yes, that is more than a year ago.

Now, I’m always interested in drsolly’s puzzle caches as they often have an IT element which of course appeals to my inner nerd. Yesterday the good doctor published a new cache – n/\m. At the time I couldn’t make any headway solving it but this morning I was taking Skye for a walk when a solution popped into my brain. I had to wait until I got home to crack open my Mac before I could try it out, with… Success! Cue one short, restrained, happy dance. Nobody saw that? Good. Moving on…

Then it was a question of waiting until I could find a suitable window to go look for it, all the while being everso slightly worried that someone else might solve it…

So, it wasn’t until this afternoon that I was able to whizz out in the Freelander, collect Bob (who has considerably more FTFs than me^) and drive over to the location. Once at GZ the cache itself was an easy find. Even better, we were rewarded with a clean logbook. Excellent!

On our way back home, we stopped at another drsolly cache we’d both solved when it was published about 10 days ago. We still managed to be Second To Find on that one!

 

^ 700, as I write this.

 

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.

 

DIY SLR

The tech industry has spent millions on the development of camera technology to enable people to take sharp, properly exposed photographs where they can see the results almost instantly. Gone were the days of getting your prints back from the D&P lab to find they were fuzzy and discoloured, not to mention that you cut off the top of Aunt Mabel’s head. Long gone, that is, until now. Lomography (as you probably already know) is an offshoot photography hobby where these “old fashioned” photographic results are the intended end product.

I was once tempted to buy a Lo-Mo camera but frankly they were a bit pricey as well as looking suitably rubbish so I didn’t. Now enter the DIY SLR kit!

As you may know, I like making stuff, so I thought it’s only £25 for a kit which “should” result in a working camera so what’s not to like?

So for a bit of fun, here are my build photographs!

There are lots of parts, just like an Airfix kit:

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I set to assembling the various parts, the only tool needed was a small screwdriver (which was supplied so I didn’t even have to get my tool box). Here’s (most of) the film winding mechanism:

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The main body taking shape. The top plate with the matt focusing screen:

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There is a bayonet mount for the lens, here you can see the reflex mirror:

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The finished article!

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Looks pretty good eh? OK so it’s nothing like my old Nikon FM (how I wish I had kept that one!)

There are a few drawbacks to the design, which I guess are there to keep the cost down and make it simple to assemble, so operation is not what you’d get with a modern camera. The lens is a fixed aperture (f10) as is the shutter speed (1/80th) and the simple lens is, unsurprisingly, not glass. It will be interesting to see what the images look like once I have put a film through it.

When I eventually get something back from the D&P lab I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Happy 10th Birthday, England’s oldest cache!

This geocaching lark is great fun. Yesterday evening I attended a geocaching event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of England’s oldest surviving cache, “View from Coombe Hill”.

We all met up at the Russell Arms at Butlers Cross near Wendover for a couple of beers before leaving the pub at about 10.30 and making the night-time trek up Coombe Hill in the dark to the monument at the top. The route was marked out with glo-sticks but negotiating the very muddy terrain, especially the very steep bit, was both great fun and knackering at the same time.

When we had all got to the top, major fireworks were set off in celebration (Oooh! Aaah!). Standing on the top of the hill we had a fantastic view of the surrounding area, with the twinkling streetlights and the well-illuminated Chequers. We wondered what the PM would make of the fireworks…

We then set off to find a celebratory cache and then to the site of the oldest cache itself to wish it a happy birthday, before heading back down to the pub.

On the way up I had thought, “this hill is going to be interesting going back down” and I wasn’t wrong. It seemed even steeper to descend and, what with the very wet and muddy ground, it was only a matter of time before I ended up on my arse. Boot fail! Still, no harm done and I wasn’t the only one by any means. In fact judging by the shrieks of laughter from further up the hill, I think one or two people slid the whole way down on their bums rather than try to stand up! We finally got back to the pub car park at about midnight.

All in all a great night!