A Village Sign

Today we went looking for a nearby Village Sign cache. With a similar concept to the  Church Micro, Village Signs, as the name suggests, involve – sometimes tenuously – village signs erected in, um, villages. These signs tell the visitor something about the village. I think that just about covers the idea of this cache series!

OK, so we went to Potten End to find VS#73 (GC51PA8). Many VS caches are Multis, like CMs, and this was one such. Problem was: whilst we could find one of the objects needed to obtain the required numbers, the other (a dedicated bench) was missing. We did, however, manage to work out the missing numbers and figure out the coords for the final. While we sat in my Freelander working out the coords, a spot of googling unearthed the information that the bench ‘in absentia’ was due to be replaced. I think the locals had formed a committee to deal with the matter. Meanwhile I think the CO may have to update her cache page!

Anyway, off we went in search of the final which, once we’d waited for a muggle to finish her phone call and move on from GZ (!) was soon found. I guess it just goes to show that no matter how well the CO researches and prepares their cache, elements of a Multi can always go missing without notice. Of course with our huge brains we were able to deduce the required info anyway! 🙂

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A bit of geocaching

At last, I can report a bit of geocaching by yours truly. On Wednesday I attended a BBHBR event (one of our local group’s events) and found a couple of caches. Those were the first finds of 2016 for me and the first event I’ve been to since one back in July ’15.

That made me check my matrix and I decided to see if I could fill in the remaining blank days for this month, so on Thursday & Friday I found a local trad each day, then today I went hunting for a couple of nearby trads which had been bugging me last year by sitting defiantly on my GC map. I hadn’t bothered with them last year because they had a bit of a reputation for being in a poor location (see my post which explains why I dislike and often avoid poorly executed urban caches), in addition one of them had very dodgy coordinates. This particular one had: as many DNFs as finds (11), not been found since April ’15, a knuckle-rapping from our local reviewer.

So as you can imagine, I didn’t hold out much hope with that one but I decided I’d have a quick look before moving on to another cache with better prospects. One cacher who had found it – last January! – had posted revised coords. He’s someone I know well and, with very many finds to his credit, is worth taking note of; so instead of going where nearly everyone else had gone, I went to the suggested coords and used my cacher’s instinct to search close by in a likely spot. Even I was surprised when I spotted the cache after a couple of minutes searching.

So in summary, this week I have: broken my 2016 duck, built up a 4 day streak and filled in 3 matrix days. Very happy with that.

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! 🙂

 

2 Anniversaries yesterday

First anniversary: the tenth anniversary of the Buncefield Explosion. The largest explosion in England since WWII. Here’s my original post on the subject.

 

view of buncefield explosion

And, for more depth, here’s a link to my other posts for that December.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention, when they finally reopened the road next to the oil depot, I set a geocache to celebrate. GC56V75.

Second anniversary: One year ago I was in Addenbrooke’s hospital having retinal surgery. Funny remembering my consultant saying the chances of it happening again was 1 in 10,000.

 

 

Getting The Freelander Muddy

My off-roading chums organised a green lane trip on Salisbury Plain.

The gang

It was billed as “non-damaging” so I decided to take my Freelander 2 (which we call “R2”).

Freelander2

The Freelander doesn’t have the ground clearance of the Range Rover or Discovery 3’s in our group but, apart from a couple of lanes with deep ruts (which I dealt with by straddling the ruts) and a water splash which looked very deep from where I was (and which I chose to miss out), R2 took everything in his stride. Most of the time I had Grass/Gravel/Snow selected on the Terrain Response, switching to Mud/Ruts when required. At one section – which was a bit of an axle twister – R2 had one wheel in the air several times! When we encountered a steep climb I let R2 negotiate the start in first gear with the engine pulling along at idle, once it got steeper I just gave him a bit of welly and he simply shot up the slope with no drama.

Here’s our navigator checking the byway signs. As the Plain is a military training area, access to civilians is controlled and we had to ensure the byway we wanted to drive was open. We didn’t want to get shot at!

Checking the Byway signs

The only lane I had a problem with was a fairly narrow one enclosed by hedges and small trees and it was inevitable that these would rub along the side of the vehicle.

A bit of a narrow lane

Half way along, we encountered a huge pile of fly-tipped rubbish. It’s so disappointing; some unscrupulous people will fly tip anywhere just to save a few bucks. Getting past this obstacle wasn’t easy to do without risking a scratch or too and unfortunately I collected a few. No lasting damage though. Now that I’ve washed the mud off I’m sure the scratches will polish out with a bit of elbow grease.

I love the openness of the Plain. If the weather’s nice you’ve got all that “Big Sky”.

Front and back

In the middle distance, lots of evidence of the Army’s tank training:

Big sky

We didn’t see any tanks. 😦 The only Army activity we saw were a couple of platoons of squaddies doing some running, some of them carrying bergens or mortar ammo. At their RV they had a strategically placed Land Rover ambulance! 🙂

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”.

TFTC

As a CO (Cache Owner) it’s annoying when someone logs finding your cache with nothing more than TFTC. Or so I thought.

I have now discovered that something more annoying is when someone logs the find on the GC website with “I forgot my pen”. In this particular case, the cache in question is a nano and you’d know this up front from the cache page. You need to bring your own writing implement. So there’s no excuse really.

The general rule is “No signy, no findy” and some COs will delete a GC log where there is no corresponding physical log. I know many cachers who will make a mark on the log with whatever is to hand, mud. ash, dung, their own blood… and I’ve done this myself on a FTF (mud, not blood!). If that’s not possible then we’d take a photo of the cache to send to the CO if they ask for proof.

The cacher in this case seems new to the game so I’m letting it go this time but if I get a lot of these I may well start deleting their logs!

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!

 

Caching Etiquette

Whilst working my way round the Chiltern Hundreds I DNFd a few caches. I bookmarked those caches to a “DNF” list which has a watch on it. That way I can keep tabs on future visits, I get notified when (or if) subsequent cachers find them. There are a few which have lots of DNF logs on them so imagine my surprise when someone logged a “found”. In a couple of cases this cacher found the cache the same day I failed to find it.

Or did they?

When I looked at the logs I found that although they were marked as “Found”, the cacher had left notes on their logs such as “No luck here” and “This one has gone“.

So, either

(a) they are inexperienced at logging DNFs, i.e. an honest mistake but look, it’s not really that difficult:

not difficult is it

or

(b) they are claiming the find anyway, perhaps reasoning that they looked hard enough in the correct place and they would have found it if it had been there.

Oh well, rant over. 😉 If they want to cheat they are, to coin a phrase, only cheating themselves.

Personally, I have always thought that the correct etiquette was “No signy, no findy”.