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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FTF !

These days, I normally don’t react to the new cache alerts and one I received today was no exception. This is because our local FTF champions are usually on QRA and are hard to compete against.

However…

This evening Bob contacted me suggesting that a nearby cache was still unfound, so it was that a short while later we were in his car and heading towards Berkhamstead. This was a Bus Stop nano and at 21.30 we had the place to ourselves. After a short search I found the cache, something of a rarity when I’m out with Bob. A clean logbook – Yay!

That followed on nicely from yesterday, when I’d been out with Skye for a country walk. (we are both out of practice and need to build our walking up once again). We combined the walk (We? Who am I kidding, Skye doesn’t know anything about route planning) with a few local caches. 6 found and a nice walk to boot. So I’m hoping this is the start of me getting out caching a lot more this year.

Today I actually went caching

Well, actually, I started to go caching yesterday. It was a lovely sunny day so Skye and I headed off to the park for our walk. While there, I remembered that a new cache had been published at the nearby church. There used to be a multi there but that has now been replaced by a new Church Micro (GC65YV7 – Church Micro 8651).

So off we went, Skye hunting the pesky squirrels whilst I sought out the required info.

Skye - 1

Once I had all the info, it was on to the final. However, when we got there we decided there was too much muggle activity for a proper, stealthy search. So this evening, under cover of darkness,  I went back to GZ. At first I confess to being a bit misled by the clue (Hmm. I know the CO is tall but the T rating is low, so…) when I realised my mistake. After that a quick search was all it took. I think it’s all connected with my somewhat sporadic geocaching outings of late. Well that’s what I’m blaming it on anyway.

And when I went to log it I found that it filled in another day on my grid. Excellent!

 

Geolympix 2016

Geolympix banner

This is a plug for ‘our’ very own local MEGA Event. Created by a dedicated team of super Beds, Bucks and Herts geocachers, this year’s Geolympix will carry on where the first Geolympix (Oxford 2012) left off.

With more than 300 ‘Will Attend’ logs, the event has already been awarded ‘MEGA’ status. It promises to be an awesome day so if you can make it I hope to see you there!

Here are a couple of very useful links:

The GC5XXYY cache page to log your ‘Will Attend’.

The official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site – with more information, how to get involved and more.

 

 

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! 🙂

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.

Devon caches

So, back in early September we had a glorious week in Devon. We stayed in a fantastic house and saw the most amazing sunsets from our roof terrace. Here’s one.

Sunset

I managed a bit of geocaching. The most interesting was above Woolacombe beach.

There’s a geocache in them there hills:woolacombe beach view

Hang glider Heaven (GCVB8T), as the name implied, involved a bit of a walk up that hill you can see in the distance. Luckily I had parked near the start of the trail but as Skye and I made our way up the track it was obvious that the going was getting steeper. I soon realised I was seriously out of condition.

footpath sign

By the time I reached this sign and the incline levelled out I was knackered. Skye, on the other hand, was still raring to go so, after a brief pause, we continued onwards and upwards.

a view of the cache site

After a while, we arrived at the rough location of  GZ. The cache appeared to be in the middle of an impenetrable swathe of small trees, gorse bushes and bracken. While Skye tried unsuccessfully to hoover up some nearby rabbit droppings (I wouldn’t let her!), I boxed around the area with one eye on the arrow. Finding a way in, I began to burrow until the narrow, brambly opening developed into a hidden path which was surprisingly easy to negotiate.

Once “inside” and completely hidden from view, we hunted around until I spotted a small outcrop of naturally occurring slate. Moving a couple of likely rocks aside revealed the cache! Once I’d done the biz, I extricated myself (and Skye). Before walking away I checked out the interesting geocoin I had liberated; only to discover that the coin had to stay in the cache! Grr! Back in I go! At least I had checked this out while I was still at GZ, I would have been less than happy to find that out when I was back at the bottom of the hill!

IMG_5041

At least our return journey was downhill!

 

 

Bordering on a Pension (or three)

The event on Tuesday went well. Loads of cachers turned up and a good time was had by all. Bob, Martin and I had set a few new caches in the surrounding area to keep everyone busy during the evening (although the usual FTF hounds were out early in the morning as soon as they were published!).

Bob and I decided to go out with a small group to find some of the caches, I then discovered that Martin had gone as well which meant all three COs had left their own event. Oops! (Closely followed by “Oh well!”). We started with one of my caches near the pub, A Crooked Sign, which I didn’t find, obviously, before striking off along the lane to find one of Martin’s – Bolivar’s Epaulettes. I think the idea up until now was to find that one and go back to the event, but somehow we all agreed to carry on for “just one more”. Well I expect you’ve heard that phrase before! So of course we found the next one, Che’s Beret, which was closely followed by Zapata’s Moustache.

By now we had met up with another gaggle of cachers from the event so with some encouragement from Martin we went in search of the bonus cache, Morpheus’ Shades. I don’t know whether there being lots of us milling about, plus a couple of geohounds getting in the way made finding the cache more difficult but a fair bit of chaos ensued, with the CO standing back, grinning and telling us we were “cold” “warmish” etc. Suddenly one of our number – the agile Simply Paul – cried out “Found!” He stayed in the tree while the rest of us signed the log.

It was getting gloomy in the woods as we set off back to base, stopping for the last time at my other cache A Crooked Lane. Now it was my turn to stand back while everyone tried to find it, which was actually quite fun. Still, they found it OK and we set off back to the pub.

The side story to this last cache is this. Prior to the event Bob, Martin and I had divided the area up so that we knew who was placing caches where. Simples! After I’d submitted mine I mentioned this to Martin. In the ensuing chat we discovered that we had both placed one of our caches in exactly the same place! His was underneath a large object and mine was… well that is something you’ll have to find for yourself! Anyway Martin agreed to move his elsewhere. What a Gent!

Keysafe

I was walking along with Skye, scouting for new cache locations. We stopped by a metal farm gate and I automatically looked around the base of its substantial metal posts. At the base of one there was a small rock…

Unknown cache? I wondered…

So I lifted the rock and underneath it was the key for the gate’s padlock. I’d deduce that farmer isn’t a geocacher!

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! 🙂