Friday, August 06, 2010

Geocaching adventures, part 3 - just June

Last time I blogged specifically about geocaching, I decided that the blog post was way too long, and promised to only write about selected, particularly exciting caches next time around, not all of them.

The trouble is, we’ve done LOADS of “particularly exciting” caches over the past couple of months. And my borderline-OCD need for completeness won’t let me leave any out :)

So you’d better find a comfy chair and get yourself a cuppa and a biscuit – this is going to be a long ‘un!  and it's only the month of June!  there's still July to come, when I get around to it....

I left you last time with cache #74 for the Chaos Crew – up on the Marlborough Downs.
This is what we have got up to since:

2nd and 3rd June – a couple of opportunistic grabs

#75 Box Clever - I had been to visit Michelle and Tracy, and had the GPS on in the car as I drove away from their house...and realised there was a new (ish) cache about 100 feet from their front door! It was a bit of a no brainer to stop and try to find it. This one was as clever as the name suggests, can you spot it in this picture? Yup, that’s right, the warning sign is the cache – it’s magnetic, and the log sheet is secured behind it in a ziplock baggie.
#76 Middleton Hill Prison - Connor and I were driving over to Jay’s one evening, and spotted a cache showing up very close to our route, so we decided to make a slight detour and take a look. The description of this one sounded very interesting – with tales of an old prison on the site – I hoped to find ruins, but no luck. There was a really cool view down onto the railway though, and Connor enjoyed running around through the trees while I hunted the cache down, so it was well worth the detour.

4th June – more solo lunchtime expeditions close to work

On this Friday lunch break, I first decided to finally track down the final for #77 Sheep - the multi that I solved the clues for weeks ago. This was my second attempt at the final, as the first time I had tried to walk to it from work, but realised two thirds of the way there that I didn’t have time to get to it and back in my lunch hour, so I diverted and found the closer Izzy’s Run instead. This time I cheated, and drove most of the way there, just walking the last 300 feet or so. I was glad to finally finish this one off, as I had particularly enjoyed the clue gathering part of this multi – it took me to all sorts of interesting places around Cirencester town. This geocaching lark is like a free tourist guide sometimes :)

These are some of the sights from the clue gathering part of the cache:

One of the clue points in particular, the 17th century wool merchant’s house in the bottom left of the collage above, was around 50 yards from my office, yet I’ve never even noticed it before.  Here's the view of my office, from standing just by that blue plaque.  You can see my window, *waves*, hello working me :)  Mine is the one with its blind half up, directly above the door.

After Sheep, I still had over half an hour left of my lunch break, and it was a lovely sunny day so I was in no rush to go back to the office. So I drove on to a nearby village called Stratton, and found a churchyard cache there – #78 Benefice United – St Peters Stratton.

There was nobody about, so I had no problem searching for and locating the cache. After signing the log, I sat for a while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere before heading back to work.  I particularly liked the inscription on the bench: "sometimes I just sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits" :)

5th June – Lacock – DNF’d two, found one

We were in the gorgeous National Trust owned village of Lacock for sightseeing and photography reasons more than geocaching reasons (you can see all about it a few blog posts back as part of the letter L) – but as we prepared to leave, we fired up the GPS just to see if there were any caches in the village, and we found two. First we looked for Blind House - Lacock. We looked for a while for this one before I read the logs properly and saw that the last log was the owner disabling it, as it had been muggled, and he hadn’t yet got around to replacing it.

Never mind, the Blind House was fascinating anyway, and well worth a visit.

From the cache page: Blind houses are miniature lockups employed for the short term detention of miscreants. Although most could barely accommodate one person, often several detainees were locked up, possibly with a guard. There are over a hundred in England and have several names including round house, lockup or clink. They provided a place for the local constable to put drunks, vagrants, brawlers and disreputable women as well as those more serious offenders in transit to the county assizes. Windows are always absent, hence the name, with light and ventilation coming only from tiny grilles. Most were free-standing, constructed of stone with heavy wooden nailed doors. Most Wiltshire blind houses date from the 18th century although there are a couple somewhat older.

Next we wandered around the corner to look for Comunicazione Rosso - Lacock. We messed up on this one big time. All the clues were there to point us straight to where the cache actually was. But we allowed ourselves to be misled by a geotrail, the GPS pointing us 10 feet or so away, and the fact that there were other, to us, more likely hiding spots nearby. We also got spooked / pressured by lots of muggles walking past which stopped us being able to relax and have a good look. So we gave up on this one and DNF’d it. An email from the cache owner later confirmed it was still there and pretty much told me where it was – the one place we didn’t look, but with hindsight, so obvious :) This is the kind of situation where our relative inexperience at geocaching really shows.

After two DNFs we were itching for a find, so we set the GPS for the closest low difficulty cache that wasn’t a micro, and drove round to it. This was #79 Watch Out - Friendly Troll. We guessed from the name that it would be near or under a bridge, and so it was. A pretty little bridge over a pretty little stream, unfortunately surrounded by pretty little nettles that gave me some pretty little stings. I hadn’t dressed for caching today, after all. Never mind, it was worth the trip, as the cache contained both a travel bug (sheep themed, if only I had had this one in hand to drop off when I found the Sheep cache the day before) and a geocoin, and we always enjoy moving trackables along.

6th June – revisiting a previous DNF

Whenever we post a DNF (Did Not Find) on a cache - which thankfully, despite the indications to the contrary yesterday, is rare – I tend to pop it on our watch list for a while, to see if subsequent finders manage to locate it ok. This is mainly so if it turns out it had been muggled and wasn’t there to find, I can feel a whole lot better about the fact I drew a blank on it :)

There was a cache in Swindon town centre that Connor and I had failed to find on the 1st June while out shopping – #80 Up or Down - and this morning a log popped up on it from the cache owner saying he had checked on it and it was definitely still there. So we just had to go back for a second attempt.

Now I don’t know what had happened to this one, but the first time we looked we looked for AGES, especially in and around the one obvious hiding place at the location which was empty. This time we went back, and there it was, in that hidey hole, clear as day. It definitely wasn’t there the first time, or anywhere nearby, as I scoured the area with a fine toothed comb. I wonder if maybe someone else had taken it away to log it? Or muggles had picked it up, then on opening it realised it was harmless / worth nothing and later replaced it? I’ll probably never know.

The only annoying thing about all this is that the CO probably thinks I’m stupid now for posting a DNF on such a straightforward find :)

11th June – our letterbox gets its FTF, and my near death experience :)

view from the Preston Penny-Farthing
During the previous evening, our own letterbox-hybrid cache the Preston Penny-Farthing was published. So this morning I dropped Connor at school a tad earlier than usual so that I would have time to go and check on the cache before work (it’s on my route from home to the office). It had been raining heavily for a couple of nights so I wanted to check that it was still nice and dry (it was), and to see if anyone had found it yet (they hadn’t). Ironically, we could have got the FTF on this one, if it wasn’t ours :)

It actually got found later on that morning by a local cacher who I have chatted with in the past – Slogger007 – the hider of the letterbox cache that we found on the Downs back in May. Ten other cachers have found it since then, and it’s getting some good reviews, which makes me happy.

So I turned up at work that morning all covered in mud and bits of corn from wading through the fields to the cache, nobody seemed to notice. But it was nothing compared to how messed up I got at lunchtime!

I wanted to do a cache that was related to the letter L, as it was L fortnight on our A-Z thing – so when I found one listed that was less than a mile from work, hidden by the Lydford Locators, and plonked dead on the second Line of Longitude, it seemed too good to be true :)

Here’s my log from the cache, #81 Two Degrees West – Ewen Intersection:

Blimey, I earned this smiley, alright! When mother nature reclaims her own, she certainly does it with a vengeance. Especially at this time of year.

For long, complicated reasons (an A-Z challenge of sorts), we needed to do an L-related cache this week, but I don’t think we’ll have the time / energy to do any caching extra to our existing plans at the weekend as a family. So, I had a look around for an appropriate cache not too far from my place of work that I could tackle on my lunchbreak, and spotted this one – “Lydford Locators” gives me a double whammy of Ls, perfect :)

I was also keen to find one of the 2 Degrees West caches, as I remember a friend of mine recommending the book years ago. I never got around to reading it then, I think maybe I ought to try to track down a copy… (aside: result, found one online for £2, free shipping, ordered…). And besides, “line of longitude” gives me another 2 Ls, and “lunchbreak” another one :)

So – anyway – I drove out there today and parked at the recommended parking spot, and in through the closest thing to a footpath I could find (right by the parking layby). I found the towpath and walked along what was presumably once the railway? Or was it once the canal and the railway crossed it? Either way, it’s neither any more, it’s just a big channel full of the tallest nettles I’ve ever seen.

As I got closer to the cache, the thorns and nettles up on the path were becoming more of a problem. Both in terms of scratching and stinging (I managed to get stung on my face and I wasn’t even bending over, they are like triffids! :) ), but also in terms of obscuring what was underfoot – there are a lot of loose bricks around and I was wobbling about on them while getting all tangled up in thorns and vines. It was quite an adventure! I do wish I was better dressed for it though, I didn’t really have the right footwear and was a lot more exposed to the plants on my arms than I would have liked. Hiking boots, gardening gloves and perhaps a full set of armour next time ;)

I wasn’t going to give up though – no siree - but I did have to use the (very good) hint, as my GPS reception was a little random as I approached GZ. I was then faced with the unusual problem of knowing exactly where the cache was, and being able to see precisely where I needed to go, but, despite trying various approaches, not being able to get to it. In the end, after going back and forth over that crumbly old wall a few times trying different ways in through the triffids, I got to it from the bottom path climbing up, so I didn’t need to lean over the wall from the other side like previous finders have done (I just don’t know how they managed to get to the wall from that side, it was so overgrown! Well done to them).

I didn’t feel entirely safe climbing up (even less so going back down), as the rocks underfoot were wobbling about. But I think that’s more down to me being not blessed with the world’s best sense of balance :) I’m sure it would have been no trouble at all for somebody more nimble on their feet. And I survived :D

Please don’t read this as a moaning log – I thoroughly enjoyed this cache – I like the ones that make me work :) I did get some funny looks when I got back to the office covered in dirt and with thorns stuck all over my clothes, but not one of them asked what I’d been doing lol. Anyone else attempting this one at this time of year, though, ought to be aware that it is pretty jungle-like at the moment.

After all that, then, thanks lots for the cache – signed log, took nothing, left with nothing but stings and geostripes :D Oh – and a photo of my GPSr displaying my location as precisely W 002° 00.000 , which is very cool in a geeky kind of way :)

Annoyingly, I lost said geeky-cool photo, as well as one of the wild undergrowth, as they were on the phone I gave to Darby, forgetting to take my pics off first, and he deleted them all. You’ll just have to imagine.

What the log above doesn’t tell you was that at one point one of the vines tripped me right over, and trapped my foot, and as I sat there in the nettles trying to disentangle myself, I had a genuine “what on earth am I doing????” moment. Nobody on earth knew I was there, I hadn’t told anyone that I was even going caching, let alone exactly whereabouts. I was far enough from the road that if I had seriously hurt myself I wouldn’t be able to call out for help, and I wasn’t exactly in a spot where there would be frequent passers by. Eeek. I did have my phone of course, but what if I had fallen badly and dropped/lost my phone? It did make me wonder if perhaps I should let people know where I’m going when I head off on these solo caching trips….

Well anyway, I survived, and this was probably one of my favourite caches to date, purely for the excitement factor :)

And the Two Degrees West book which I have since read is excellent – I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s by Nicholas Crane, from that Coast series on BBC.

12th June – the Red Down series

Unusually for a Saturday, we didn’t have any big day out planned for today, and the weather was just right for caching (sunny and dry but not too hot). So we thought we would take in a local series and have a picnic half way round. Sandra from the Lydford Locators recommended RoobyDoo’s Red Down series – 12 caches in a circular walk of around 4 miles over varied terrain near Highworth, just outside Swindon. (The cache listings say 3.5 miles, the track on my GPS says we walked 4.5, I’m splitting the difference). I will have to ask Sandra for more recommendations, as this little outing was just perfect. Enough caches, of varied sizes, to keep the kids interested, and just the right length of walk. It took us 4 and a half hours at a nice gentle pace, including the time it took us to find the 12 caches, and stopping for lunch. And, as is always the case with RoobyDoo’s caches, all the boxes were dry and in good order. There’s nothing worse than slimy, soggy, grubby caches.

We did the 12 caches in order, and found them all – hooray! – so this series took us up to find #93.

Here is the link for the first in the series: #82 Red Down 01. And here is our GPS track on the map:

we started at the built up area in the top right, and worked our way clockwise around the red line
The walk starts at the Highworth rec fields, which were particularly busy with mini-muggles on this particular day, as there was some sort of family fun day going on, complete with bouncy castle.

Luckily the first cache was down a bit of a side alley that managed to stay onlooker-free for long enough for us to retrieve it uncompromised. We were off to a good start with this cache, although only small, being well stocked with goodies, and there was also a travel bug that the boys picked up for their own new geocaching account (“a little bit of chaos”).

The lads played in the park for a while before we set off onto the golf course for caches #2 and #3.

And then it was up the big hill onto the downs:

You can see what a gorgeous day it was.

We found a couple more caches (not sure what was in that bush that spooked Connor but he came out like a bat outta hell :) ), and came across some purty poppies, before having a rest and a picnic between numbers 5 and 6.

Unusually, the boys favourite cache on this series wasn’t a big regular stuffed silly with toys (although there was one of those on the way), but a micro (#89 Red Down 08). It’s in this picture, can you spot it?

Yup – it’s a fake stone, clever, huh? The lads were very impressed indeed with this one. The other good thing about this cache was that the logbook had just been replaced, so we could kid ourselves we had got a FTF :D

If the fake rock was the boys’ favourite, the next one (#90 Red Down 09) was mine.

I do love me an urban ruin, and I have a particular thing about man-made structures reclaimed by nature. This cache took us to an old abandoned railway platform that I never would have found on my own in a zillion years. Even when we were walking right alongside it, we couldn’t see it, it was so overgrown.

Here’s me bravely wading through the nettles towards the platform, at this point it was maybe 4 or 5 feet in front of me but I defy you to spot it. I then had to climb up onto a 4 foot or so high platform that was covered in nettles and brambles, without even a long sleeved top to protect me, I managed to only get stung 2 or 3 times, which I thought was quite good going really.

Behind the platform was a pretty little stream, and a well hidden regular-sized cache. I managed to persuade the others to battle through the jungle and join me (it was a bit easier now that I had trampled down a trail for them, and even Connor was ok but he did insist on putting on Jay’s jacket and putting the hood up to ensure he was fully sting proof):

And Reece decided that this would be a good cache from which to launch a little bit of chaos’s first travel bug – a Pokemon whose goal is to get home to Japan:

Onward we went, past some horses (where there was a particularly hard to find micro which we grown ups had given up on before Reece triumphantly produced it), and then through a very nice wooded area with a little river running through.

The kids played by the water for a while, and then it was back out into the fields and back down into Highworth, where the last cache (#93 Red Down 12) was by the lovely little church that you can just see in this last piccie. 

What a fantastic (and free, if you discount the cost of the picnic, but we would have had to have eaten anyway) way to spend an afternoon.

13th June -  a quick one after a day out

#94 St Leonard Old Church. I wasn’t sure whether the boys would have the energy to do any geocaching after a full on day at Longleat, and to be honest by the time we got there I think Reece had definitely had enough, hence he isn’t in these pics (he gets fed up of my paparazzi ways when he’s tired). But this one was virtually a park-and-grab, it began with L (we were still in L fortnight), previous logs indicated it was a good sized ammo can (who doesn’t love those?), and there were ruins there!!, and arches!!!, and ruined arches!!!! So I just couldn’t resist :)

Gorgeous old church, here’s the history from the cache page:

The first record of a church in Sutton Veny occurs in 1240 which was dedicated to St Leonard, and this served the parish until the end of the 19th century. Despite a major restoration in 1831, the low lying damp ground caused the foundations to be extremely unstable, and it was decided in 1866 that St Leonards should be abandoned for a new church built on higher ground 700 yards further to the north west. Today St Leonards with the exception of the chancel has fallen into ruins. The chancel has been well maintained and there is a sign on the door giving the address of the key holder. The arches of the crossing and lancet windows on the north wall of the chancel date from the 13th century.

June 16th – attempting to be sociable, and failing again

our esteemed hostess - Jaki from the Middleleaze Moles
I think I wrote in my last mega Geocaching round up post, about the fact we had gone to our first “event”, a picnic at Lydiard Park to celebrate the 10th birthday of the hobby. Unfortunately we turned up late to that one, and I drew a total blank on talking to anyone I didn’t already know, preferring the safety of chatting to existing friends.

So, when I saw another event listed for Swindon - #95 the first of the Swindon Soirees - I thought I’d better go along and make a bit more of an effort this time.

It was just me and Connor going, as it was on a Wednesday evening, and I thought that this would force me to talk to people a bit more, as Cons would probably go off and play, leaving me on my own with nobody else to hide behind.

Unfortunately my plan totally backfired, as when we arrived at the pub I bumped into an old friend (not at the geocaching event, just in the same pub), and so I spent 99% of the evening talking to her. Doh :)

Next time I promise I will talk to some geocachers for longer than “hello, I’m Sarah from the Chaos Crew, nice to meet you, bye”. At least I did get to meet, albeit briefly, the famous Mrs Blorenge, our hosts the Middleleaze Moles, and also Sandra from the Lydford Locators who I have been chatting to online and is very lovely.

One rather exciting aspect to this event was the arrival of a team from BBC Radio 4, who proceeded to interview a number of the more “advanced” geocachers amongst us (ie not me! lol) for a radio programme all about geocaching. This was finally broadcast last week, and I missed it. Boo. The original broadcast time was while I was at work, and then it took them a while to get it working on the iplayer, and then it was only one there for 2 or 3 days and it disappeared again before I’d gotten around to listening. Those who did listen said it was good, but I’m not sure how much footage they used in the end from the Swindon event.

19th/20th June – gallivanting around Gloucestershire

This Saturday was the day we went to visit spooky old Woodchester Mansion – see this blog post for more details – and I thought it would be a good day to also tackle the nearby multi-cache Divide The View, which we have had on our to do list for some time. To find this one, you first have to find a topograph up at a spectacular local viewpoint with views over the River Severn and the Malvern Hills. There are various landmarks inscribed on this topograph, along with their distances, and these give the answers to the clues you need to solve to get to the co-ordinates of the cache.

We duly did all this, and ooohed and aaahed appropriately at the gorgeous view, and larked about a bit :)

But then, on reading the cache description more fully, we realised that the cache itself was deep back in the Woodchester grounds, where we had just been, and we all had fairly tired legs by this point, so we decided to find it another day. (One problem with that – when I later, at home, deciphered the co-ordinates from all our clue solving, it placed the final cache about 35 miles away from where it should have been – so we clearly had got at least one answer wrong, and we’re actually going to have to start from sratch again, oops!)

But all was not lost….very close to the topograph there just happens to be a neolithic long barrow – yay! We love those. Especially ones like these where the kids can read about all the skeletons they found in there, they like their history to be on the grisly side :)

And the long barrow has a cache – double yay!! So we still managed to pick up a smiley today - #96 Nympsfield Long Barrow.

The background blurb from the cache page: This neolithic burial chamber dates back to about 2900 BC. The site was excavated in 1937 and 1974 and has since been partly restored. The barrow was constructed using local limestone, which incorporated burial chambers formed by a combination of large stone slabs and dry stone walling. Remains of at least 16 skeletons were found in the chambers. The Nympsfield long barrow is just one example of a neolithic "Cotswold-Severn" chambered tomb of which nearly one hundred are known in the Cotswold region.

We stayed at the site until the sun started to set, enabling me to nab a piccie of the moon directly above the long barrow, which I was happy about.

The following day we went to visit the Roman Villa at Chedworth, which rather than the one or two hours of interest that I expected it to provide, turned out to be a full day’s worth of entertainment (helped by the fact they had a big event on for Father’s Day, with all sorts of fun things going on like gladiator battles and the like). So after all that, nobody seemed all that keen on the idea of the multi-cache I had picked out that involved a 3 mile walk – lightweights :)

But never mind, we did what anyone else would do in the circumstances, we cheated :D

We did walk up into the woods from the Roman Villa’s car park to collect all the clues – and we were glad we did because although it was a bit of a climb, the disused railway section that we found in there was really cool. But once we had the co-ordinates of the final cache we went back to the car and drove to it, rather than taking that long walk (which I’m sure would have been fab as it’s a gorgeous part of the world).

By doing so, we managed to cut our walk down to probably around a mile all in which was about all we were up to that day.

The cache itself - #97 Railways & Romans, Bivalves & Brachiopods - was a good sized one in a lovely location, and the boys got some good trades. I also put in a (presumably replica, as it only cost me 50p) Roman coin that I had bought in the National Trust gift shop at the villa.

In case you are wondering about the “bivalves and brachiopods” in the cache name, the disused railway line was built on Jurassic era rock which used to be under the sea – so it is reputedly an excellent hunting ground for fossils of ancient marine molluscs. And also mollusc-related, here’s what the cache owner says: look out for the extra large Roman edible snails which inhabit the woods around these parts, descendants of the ones the villa occupants used to eat!

Unfortunately we didn’t see a single giant snail (I think it was too sunny and dry for their liking), or find any fossils, so my hopes of getting another M for M-fortnight were dashed. Pah

22nd & 23rd June – Delightful Dublin!

I’ve already blogged about our trip to Dublin in general, so some of the below will be a little repetitive if you have read that post, but here are the specifics on the caches we picked up there:

The first was #98 Castle Rock, which, as the name suggests, is very close to Dublin Castle. As the name also suggests, it’s in a fake rock, which, despite being large, was surprisingly hard to spot (NB it wasn’t in the location where I am posing with it in the photo). The rock seemed to be made of fibre glass, and was very well done. Inside was a decon container, large enough for small swaps. We dropped off a London Eye geocoin here as its mission is to visit cities with big wheels. The Dublin big wheel isn’t actually up and running yet, but we did see it being built next to the O2, so it’s definitely coming. This cache is the most visited physical cache in Ireland, apparently, and I can well believe that as it seems to get logged almost every day.

Our second find on the Tuesday was a nice easy virtual, which just required us to pose with GPS in hand at the base of the Millenium Spire, colloquially known as the Stiffy by the Liffey (our number 99). We specifically needed to get to 99 finds today, as tomorrow we had a V.I.C. (very important cache) to visit, and we wanted that one to mark our 100th cache milestone. The spire is pretty amazing, pictures can’t convey just how haaaaayuuuuuge that thing is! It did amuse me to hear that in typical laid back allergic-to-deadlines Dublin fashion (I used to work there, and I know the “it’ll be done when it’s done” culture well), this Millenium feature wasn’t actually finished and put in place until 2003 :)

The following day was our big caching day – not that we were going on a numbers run after a ton of caches – nope, we just wanted one. But a very exciting one. The first geocache ever placed in Europe, back in 2000. With a 2 digit GC-code to boot - #100 GC43 – Europe’s First. This one truly is a little piece of history, and despite the fact that it would use up pretty much our entire second day to find it (it required a train journey out of Dublin to Bray, and a long-ish walk, and we needed to be back at the airport by mid afternoon), it was a no brainer that we had to find it while we were here. And the chance to engineer it to be our 100th find was unmissable.

Our log:

Thanks to a well timed trip to Dublin, to see Pearl Jam at the O2, we were able to engineer this historic cache to be our #100 milestone, I can't think of any that would have been more perfect to mark our century.

We took a trip out to Bray on the DART, along the sea front, and then a nice walk up to the cache.

The final approach was a bit of a steep scramble, but we really enjoyed it :)

thank you very much to the owners for maintaining this little piece of history.

This would have been a great cache even if it wasn’t so historic, the views from up on Bray Head were gorgeous, and it was a really nice walk, well, until the last bit which was a bit too much like rock climbing for my old and unsteady legs lol, I did it though :)

We also got a very unexciting micro cache on the walk back down, we wouldn’t have bothered but as we were going right past it, why not - #101 Covo Loco #0035 . This was one of those caches where you just can’t figure out what the hider was thinking. All around there were great hiding places with lovely views, instead, he chose to put it in a grubby car park. Made no sense at all…

25th June – another lunchtime jaunt

Today I thought it would be nice to visit another of the “Benefice United” series of church caches near Cirencester where I work. In the end I managed to visit two.
#102 Benefice United – St. Margaret’s Bagendon 

This one threw me a little as the cache write up said You are looking for a 1 litre tupperware box near St Margaret's Church in the village of Bagendon. The cache is only accessible from outside, which I took to mean do not go into the church grounds. The co-ordinates took me to a wall/gate in front of the church and I started searching on the outer edge of both.

The cache page also said The village of Bagendon is extremely venerable, being the capital of the local Cornivii tribe in pre-Roman times - today it is an idyllic rural back-water. Which does draw attention to people looking for caches, so be sensitive to locals when rummaging around, and be careful for watchers.  Because of this, I was very much on muggle look out. When anybody walked past I stopped cache-hunting and took photos instead. And faffed around with the photo editor on my phone until they had gone by. Hence:
(I don’t think Andy Warhol would need to give up his day job, if he was still with us)

In the end I gave in and looked at the hint (I hate looking at the hint!), and it turned out the cache was inside the church grounds after all, in a tree that I couldn’t possibly have reached from outside. So I’m not sure what the cache owner meant. But never mind, I got there in the end, and picked up a cool “travel racer” racing car travel bug too.

This was a lovely little church in a very pretty village, but the next one was even nicer:

#103 Benefice United – St Mary Magdalene, Baunton

Unlike the muggle-rich environment of the first village, here I was completely alone, and it was so lovely and peaceful. I found the cache fairly quickly, and then went inside the gorgeous Norman church to see the 14th century painting of St Christopher that had been mentioned on the cache page. I was stunned by this, totally unprepared for how huge it was going to be (15-20 feet tall) and how well preserved. My photo, just taken on my phone which doesn’t cope well indoors, doesn’t do it justice at all. There was nobody at all in the church, and I sat in there quietly for a while.

Later that same day, after dropping Connor off at his dad’s house, I went after what would have been, had I found it, my first 5 star cache. It is a puzzle cache with no text, no hints, no nothing. All you have to go on is the name of the cache: 802.11g. Being the nerd that I am, I recognised that as to do with computer networking, so I had a hunch to drive to the initial co-ordinates provided by the cache page, and use my phone to look for nearby wireless networks. Woohoo! Result! There was a network in range with a set of co-ordinates as its name.

Excellent, thought I, all I have to do is go to these new co-ords and bag me a cache with 5 difficulty stars!

But of course it wasn’t that easy. The new co-ords lead me to pretty much the middle of nowhere, all there is there is a roadsign and I can’t find any sign of either a cache (which must be a reasonable size as there is a travel bug in there at the moment that looks quite big) or clues to lead me to a further location.

I logged a DNF this evening, and have been back to the location a couple of times since hoping that inspiration will strike, but so far, no luck.

I’ll get there in the end, this one’s bugging me!

26th and 27th June – a nice quiet weekend at Jay’s

We had a bit of a weekend off this weekend – no big all singing all dancing days out or weekends away like we usually do. This gave us time to catch up with things like visiting relatives and just chill out a bit. But it also gave us time to wander around and find a few not too taxing local caches, which we very much enjoyed.

Our first stop was Cheltenham. We had paid a visit to Jay’s grandparents and then went for a walk around nearby Pitville park. We found two caches in there. It would have been more but there seems to have been a recent spate of muggling and the three other caches in the same park had been disabled.

First off was #104 All Saints’ Scout Group (10th Cheltenham), a micro near a scout hut. The boys found this one on their own – their first unassisted micro find I think….

This was taken very close to the cache site:

Then we found #105 Barking Mad. This was a trickly lil bugger to spot, being wedged right into a hole in tree (and there were lots of trees to check). But eventually we saw a glint of silver and out it came. And promptly took up residence in Jay’s hat :)

There was a really nice play-park near this cache, and a pretty little waterfall, it doesn’t feel like it’s in the middle of a large town at all.

The following day we got a bit more caching done, although we didn’t start till late afternoon, having had a very chilled morning doing not much at all.

First we wandered down to check out a micro that’s spitting distance from Jay’s house, #106 Across The Barricades. This is hidden on the site of RAF housing that seems to have been abandoned now. No doubt it will be built on eventually. The road into here is all blocked off, hence the cache name, but I don’t think there is an issue with pedestrians as you see plenty of people using this as a walking short cut. So fingers crossed we weren’t trespassing on military land.

Then we checked out a regular by the canal that’s also very close to Jay’s, and had been on our to do list for a while - #107 Troll. We were expecting an amazingly inventive and entertaining hide or container, given that a previous finder had written this in their log: laughed out loud when I found the cache! But it just turned out to be a fairly standard box in a pretty normal (and obvious) hiding place. A nice location all the same, but I can only conclude that the previous finder is VERY easily amused :)

After these two we went for a clamber up the big hill that is Robinswood Hill Country Park – or as I call it “Robin Hood’s Wood”, or as Connor calls it “the broccoli hill”.

We found two caches up on the hill, #108 Akela’s Den, our second Scout cache in as many days, and #109 Robin’s Secret Hideaway.

The first was inside a huge hollow tree.  I was glad we had the kids with us as I don't think either of us rather generously proportioned grown ups would have fitted in there to fetch the cache!  Apparently this one was hidden by a troop of cubs, I don't suppose they had any trouble getting in there either.  

The second was a pleasant surprise - it was listed as a "small" geocache, but in reality it was huge, bigger than most "regular" ones we have found, and it was really well stocked.  The kids each had a lot of fun choosing which toy to keep.

The broccoli hill is fab, I'd like to go back up there one day and find all its other caches, and the petting farm that's supposed to be up there somewhere.

And then, later that same day, our last cache of the month was #110 Pirates Treasure - MOO (more a Quack now) .  Yes that really is its name :)  We liked the look of this one, as it was called “moo” and was in Matson Park – and it was M fortnight and we were scrabbling around for more Ms to add to our tally. But a quick check on the most recent logs on my GPS indicated that it was temporarily disabled after a string of DNFs :(

There was a note from the cache owner, though, saying he was hoping to replace the cache on June 26th. As it was now June 27th, I fired up t’internet on my fancy new android phone (which I love with all my heart!), and sure as anything there was a log from the night before saying the cache was up and running again – woohoo :)

This was a quick easy find and we stayed a while in the park while the kids had a play – it looks like a nice place. We particularly liked the outer cache container, which was one of those cool punky chicken things that you get ice cream in at theme parks. The boys have since insisted on us buying a few of these for future potential cache usage (and for the ice cream too of course :) ). They aren’t watertight but they work well as the outer “camouflage” for a micro.

So - that wraps up June - I was wondering at the end of May if we would reach #100 by the end of June, and we managed that, and some.  The question is now - how many can we find by the end of the year?  I'm hoping we can get to 200 by Christmas.  Watch this space.


Hannah said...

Wow, that is an excellent set of caches and write ups. Really nice to read another caching blog. I was looking at one of the Swindon Soirees, can't make this month but will try in September. Please come and do our series- it is just under 4 miles with 9 (plus 3 extra) caches. I must head over and find your caches.
All the best, Hannah (MamaDippy)!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading all that, it made me tired thinking about it but I bet it was as much fun as it looked. Please don't tell your worry wart bww about scrambling up and down wobbly rocks alone, I have seen you over balance on a double yellow line :) You are very brave to wade through head high nettles too, I would have sent Jay in :) I think the ones in Ireland and the multi in Ciren are my faves :)