This month I have dragged my spotlight out of the cupboard and aimed it into the eyes of another Geoblogging team to try and find out a little bit about why they love to cache and also what possessed them to start blogging about their adventures.
In case you were wondering I have replaced the 100 watt bulb with a sup eco-friendly low energy LED alternative now so the human race is once again safe. You’re welcome!
Jennifer, Rob and their 3 children cache as the gilmourfamily and are based in Hull in the UK. They started during June 2017 and in less than a year have already racked up over 200 finds, 8 hides and a funny and entertaining blog to into the bargain. A family with a real enthusiasm for geocaching and it shows in their blog entries, not least of all in the great video clips from 8 year old Sophie.
Head on over to their blog and see how they handled the low energy, cool temperature, soft glare of the interrogation spotlight An interview with us GilmourFamily, and don’t forget to hit the follow button while you are there so you don’t miss out on any of their future blog posts.
You can easily find all my previous posts listing other bloggers that have taken the interrogation challenge using this tag search – Washknight Interrogates.
They go geocaching.
Well, most of them probably do.
At least, some of them might.
Anyway, whatever. We did!
We didn’t go far and it was one of those classic geocaching scenarios where you end up finding something unexpected right on your doorstep. Just the other side of Croxley Green is Rickmansworth and what we found there was a tiny little riverside paradise.
A short stroll from the convenient parking area, through a meadow, took us along a footpath that ran alongside a section of the river Chess. Gently sloping grassy banks fell away into the shallow waters and a handful of families had plotted up along its length to enjoy the warm weather and easily accessible river. As we made our way to our first of two caches, Cache for the birders (GC3GMJV), children happily laughed and squealed as they paddled and splashed about in the cool water. If only we had known about this place when Sam had been younger; it would have been a perfect place to while away a couple of hours every now and then.
After a brief pause to read an information board about the area in the warm sunshine, we made our way to our first GZ which was located on a tree covered section of path just beyond a small wooden bridge that crossed the river.
Did you know?
Ten minutes later we were still there and despite much searching in amongst many ivy covered stumps we still did not have cache in hand. I did have rather a lot of disturbed dust and dried plant matter up my nose causing some serious sneezes, but no geocache. We separated and started searching further afield but soon wandered back to the original spot and it was clear that we were all independently thinking it was about time to admit defeat.
And then a miracle! Well miracle might be overstating it just a tad. But Sharlene did find the cache which was a relief and did serve to lift our spirits once more.
We turned tail, and after a short stop to play a round of Pooh Sticks on the bridge, which I claim I won but Sam and Shar say I most certainly lost, we made our way back along the same path in search of our second cache of the day, Ahoy there landlubbers (GC24EE8).
Following the arrow and the guidance of the hint and some previous logs, we searched all the multi trunk trees in the indicated area extensively with no luck. With some skilful direction from Shar, I made my way a bit deeper into the trees and continued to seek out the cache, but still with no luck. We then started checking all the places that each other had already checked, a practice that generally happens in groups only after a certain amount of time has passed so as not to insult the searching abilities of the original searcher, and the cache was duly found by Shar in a place that both Sam and I had previously thoroughly examined. Sam’s excuse was that he had spotted the battered ice cream container on his initial search and had dismissed it merely as a piece of rubbish. My excuse was… well I don’t really need an excuse, I’m blind and I am happy to come out of the trees with only a couple of bruises and minimal scarring from my search. Actually being the one to find the geocache falls very much in the category of “Bertie Bonus” for me.
Even though the container was battered and had a small split in the bottom, the contents were in remarkably good condition. We signed the logged and re-hid the rubbish for the next geocacher to find and mentally chalked up another find to our cache counts.
With that done and dusted we ambled back across the meadow to the car. All told we were only out for somewhere in the region of 90 minutes but it was enough to allow us to connect again as a family and enjoy the great British summertime away from the distractions of Princes, balls and black ops agents with amnesia. Happy days!
This geocaching adventure took place on Sunday the 20th of May and lifted our total cache count up to 1869.
For our GeoDate this week, Shar and I went to London Colney. I know what you are thinking… oh the glamour! Well glamourous it may not be but it suited us down to the ground. I had spotted a couple of caches set by a local scout group as part of the requirement for their geocaching badge. Having been through this process with Sam a while back (see Scouts geocaching badge), I thought it would be nice to go and find some placed by some other scouts.
After parking on a verge down a quietish lane we entered the woods and took a pleasant walk around the edge of some fields to get to the first cache, LC Scout Cache 4. Side of the woods (GC7EX04). Admittedly there was a bit of a constant hum of the nearby M25 and a couple of other roads but it wasn’t that bad and the weather was just about perfect for caching, the sun popping out every now and then but not for long enough to melt skin.
After about 1km we reached GZ and then ducked into the trees in search of the cache. Well, I ducked into the trees and Shar held back, wary of the rather high stingers and such that guarded the treeline. Logistically this meant that as I ventured in, Sharlene attempted to shout general directions to me where she thought the cache might be. Not the easiest of tasks but pretty standard stuff for us and so we got on with it. After about 5 mins Shar braved the stingers and despite the two of us searching around we still found nothing.
Then we realised that we might have ducked into the trees a little too soon and so fought our way back out and followed the arrow staying outside the trees for as long as we could. Sure enough we got down to about 3 metres and there was a likely looking tree right there in front of us. Job done.
After replacing the cache we went back to the path just in time to meet a large group of rambling old people, although as Sharlene pointed out they didn’t really look like proper ramblers so more like just amblers. As the group filed past we paused for some water and when the tail-enders got to us, they stopped and enquired as to whether we were with them, as they were meant to wait for stragglers and not let the group get split up. We explained that we were indeed not part of their group, a fact which you would think perhaps they should know, and off they trotted.
Thinking about this as we walked to the next cache I wondered if we somehow looked as if we fitted into their group and Sharlene said that no, the entire group was much older looking than us. Hmmm, not sure whether or not to be insulted by this, surely we don’t look like we belong to a group of ambling oldies do we? Maybe it was the white cane that lumped us into their demographic, perhaps being disabled qualified us to be a part of the group.
Honorary ambling crumbly
Next one, LC Scout Cache 5. Corner of a field (GC7EX0H), was a frustrating DNF with us not even being able to find GZ let alone the cache. Various logs had stated that the coordinates were way off and despite about 30 minutes of searching we couldn’t find anything that matched the description of the massive tree that was supposed to mark the hide. Sometimes you just gotta know when to give up and move on, not always an easy thing.
Thankfully the last cache we attempted, Tribute to Bonnie Boo Boos (GC1E31C), was there and in good condition. It was a regular container but could probably pass for a large and it was nestled safely in the crack of a tree at the side of the path. I only endured a half a dozen or so nettle stings to retrieve it, so that wasn’t so bad. Pro tip: When you retrieve a cache in a nettle infested area, don’t put the sticks that were covering it down on the ground in the nettles while you extract the log, cos then you have to pick the bloody things up again and get another couple nettle stings into the bargain.
No pain, no gain
Ironic really, finding such a large cache, as I have been trying to find one for months to drop off a cumbersome TB and then last week I finally dropped it off in one of our own hides just to be rid of it, and pretty much the next cache we find is a super large one and would have been perfect.
Two out of three found and back home in time for a curry lunch. Happy days.
This geocaching adventure took place on Thursday May 10th, 2018 and took our total geocache count up to 1867.
May Day Bank holiday weekend and the weather was set to be stonking hot! The desire to geocache was there but this was coupled with not wanting to expire in the heat. So we decided to stay local and tackle a couple of multis in nearby Bushey, getting out relatively early and thus avoiding the hotter parts of the day.
I was looking forward to getting out for some cache time with Sam and Shar and I therefore felt it was unnecessary of the cat to vomit in one of my slippers just prior to leaving. I didn’t need any extra motivation to leave the house for a bit, but I certainly got it. Perhaps we could swing by the pet store while we were out and see if they would be interested in part exchanging the cat for something a little more friendly, like a big snake or a spider.
First up was a village sign cache placed by our good friends Smokeypugs, VS#235 Bushey (GC5MK6H). I love the village sign series, you always get to learn something interesting about the location and by their very nature, they are usually situated in pleasant surroundings. We spent a short time looking at the sign and reading the description before then collecting all the information we needed to calculate the final coordinates. It was a relatively straight forward process but it did require some team work and quite a bit of concentration to keep track of all the numbers and how to substitute them into the formula, but we had the job done and dusted in less than 10 minutes and we didn’t even have an argument while doing it.
Bushey Village Sign
We trotted off, metaphorically of course as there was no reason to rush and doing so in the rapidly increasing heat would have just been silly, and soon found ourselves at GZ on a leafy residential street a short distance away. The location of the hide was clear and we were certain we had the right spot, but alas there was no container to be found. A brief conversation with Smokeypugs via messenger and our suspicions were confirmed that it looked like this one had gone walkies. We searched a bit longer in case it had got lost in the leaf litter on the ground but by this point we were attracting a bit of attention from a local busy body resident who came out and just stood by her gate staring at us.
Sharlene wasn’t going to be phased by this though and after making eye contact with the woman called over a cheery “Hi” which no doubt disarmed her a bit to start with. She called back “hi” and asked if we were ok in a suspicious tone of voice, to which Sharlene just replied “yes thanks.”. There is little place to go from here. The woman obviously wanted to know more, but she wasn’t getting it from us and so had to retreat back to her house.
It was however time to leave, the cache wasn’t anywhere to be found and so it would be a reluctant DNF log on this one. I did check my bag and discovered I had a spare cache container but the Smokeypugs had used a magnetic fixing for the hide and I didn’t have any magnets in my bag, and there really was no other way to affix a cache at gz despite the fact that I even had some spare cable ties with me, so we couldn’t even offer to replace the container.
Seeing as we had unwittingly parked the car only a short distance away from gz, we hopped back in and drove a short distance to a handy car park that was near our next cache, Church Micro 10237 Bushey – St James (GC6XKK3). It certainly seemed to be the day for doing national series caches today, first a village sign, now a church micro. As we approached the church we were greeted by the sound of the church bells, presumably a bit of campanology practice as there didn’t actually seem to be anything going on in the church itself.
We made speedy work of the number collection for the multi and after some simple formula work we had the coordinates which were just a short distance away along a footpath through the churchyard. Once at GZ we made a quick find of the tiny container on a fence post and took a break to sign the log and step aside as a large group of ramblers came barrelling through at quite a pace.
We were making excellent time and so decided to go for a nearby trad, On The Edge (GC7AKZ8), that was a short stroll away through the woods. When we were about 70 metres away we came onto a road which we had to cross and then head into a field which looked as if it played host to cows from time to time. Shar elected to stay back and wait for us, siting unsuitable footwear as her reasoning, so Sam and I left her to amuse herself with her phone for a bit and we set off.
Sam did a great job of making sure I didn’t stray into any cow pats and it wasn’t long before we were at gz and searching anything metal as the description said it was a magnetic hide. We were next to a small wooden bridge that spanned a stream and there was a metal fence running through the tree line that sat either side of it. A closer inspection of the description and we found that the cache was on the site of an old boundary marker and after a quick search we located it, slowly being reclaimed by the rapidly growing nettles. It was indeed metal and braving the stingers I managed to retrieve the micro from the bottom of the marker. Geocaching isn’t geocaching without a couple of nettle stings after all.
Collecting Shar on the way back, we retraced our steps through the churchyard, stopping only to snap a pic, and then made our way back to the car.
One DNF two smileys and no one got sunburn, and so to celebrate we offset all the good ness of the fresh air and exercise by stopping in for a Macdonalds on the way home! Happy days.
After receiving some needs maintenance logs on a couple of our caches recently and seeing that the weather was starting to improve, we decided it was time to head over to Aldenham and do a maintenance run.
It has been almost 4 years since we put the Wall Hall caches out and we have had very little cause to revisit them other than for general cleaning, drying and log replacements. Having said that though, we never see having to return to the series as a chore as we always enjoy the chance to walk the route through the pretty surroundings, and this is just about one of the nicest times of year to do it, with spring most definitely springing.
Looking back at our previous maintenance logs I was astounded to find that without actually intending it, it always seems to be this time of year that we revisit the caches. For the last three years we have ventured out armed with fresh logs and kitchen roll in either April or May every time.
It was interesting to note how much things have changed in 4 years and this was brought home to us at the first cache in the series where the hole in the tree where we had hidden the original cache was very much different. Part of the root system of the tree seems to have collapsed and I wasn’t even sure we found the original hole, but instead found a beauty of an alternative that seemed to go much further back into the innards of the trunk than I ever remember. The original container had gone walkies, so we put a new one there, this one was a birthday present from a friend and had been fashioned from a small screw lid pot and had a friendly rubber worm affixed to its outside. Just perfect for the hole.
It took us a while to find number 2, as it always does, and not least because the bush has definitely become somewhat more Bushey than it used to be when we placed the cache. We actually found the container half buried in the ground and after a thorough clean we hid it a bit better and covered it over with some stick-o-flauge.
Another replacement at number 3 which is a pole cache with the container suspended on a line inside it. This is the third time we have put a new container here and I imagine there are now 2 caches lodged at the bottom of the hollow pole now. This time I used some heavy duty elasticated cord rather than fishing line which just didn’t seem to stand up to the abuse. Hopefully this one will last longer.
We strolled through the tiny cluster of houses that makes up Wall Hall and checked on number 4 and 5 which were pretty much ok. As too, was number 6 which ran along the wide footpath that ran alongside the river Colne. Number 7 we found in a tree which was interesting as we had hidden it on the floor near the base of the tree, but on reflection we agreed that four years on there was enough ivy growth to support the concealment of it in the branches and so after checking it out we put it back in its new hiding place.
Then we made our way into Berrygrove woods, arguably the prettiest part of the walk and the location of 4 of the caches in the series. A few new log sheets and a bit of wiping out was all it took to bring them back up to tip top condition, and a bit of a lubrication at number 10 eased the progress of the tape measure retrieval mechanism. I am still surprised that the tape measure cache has survived the weather as well as it has and even though this is the second mechanism after the first one failed pretty quickly after being hidden, this one has lasted through the best part of 3 winters so far with no more than a bit of 3-in-1 oil every so often. The fact that it has 103 favourite points certainly makes it worth the effort to keep it maintained as it is clear that cachers appreciate the “something different” nature of the hide.
The last in the series, number 12, was also found in excellent condition, a testament to the fact that ASDA hot chocolate pots make pretty dam good cache containers at little more than the cost of just buying an empty pot, and there was the added bonus that I was finally able to drop of a travel bug that I have had for 9 months and haven’t found a big enough cache to drop it off so far.
There is a lovely feeling of satisfaction after walking your own series and then returning home to post owner maintenance logs on them all, knowing that all is ready for future cachers to enjoy. The walk was most appreciated too and reminded me of how much I enjoy our caching walks and I have resolved to get back to planning some more days out for us soon.
Time to dig out my trumpet, dust it off and give it a little blow.
I am delighted, and a little bemused, to report that I was fortunate enough to be among the winners of a National Geocaching Award (NGA) this year as announced at the recent UK MEGA in Devon.
Over 1000 people voted in the months running up to the MEGA and on average apparently some 400 people voted in each category of which there were over 20 highlighting all sorts of different achievements within the hobby of geocaching.
I won the award in the category called “Special caching Achievement” which was explained as being for “Someone who did something remarkable and inspiring in pursuit of tupperware, as either a Lifetime Achievement award, or for someone who’s Overcome Adversity to cache”.
I wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony but would just like to say a massive thank you to whoever it was that nominated me in the first place and to everyone who subsequently voted for me, and of course I need to thank Shar and Sam for helping me to indulge in the hobby that has given us so many good times over the last 4 years.
Okay, that’s that done, I can put my trumpet away now and get back to caching.
Schooooools out for ever! Well for the summer at least. With Sam on 6 weeks holiday it is always a challenge to find things to do to stop him and his loving parents, ahem yes that’s me and Shar, from climbing the walls. Although he would probably be happy to attach himself to his Xbox for the entire time, that is not going to happen, not on my watch baby!
What better way to start off the hols than with a spot of geocaching. And besides I was itching to take my new Mountain Warehouse friend Jimmy Talon out to begin his adventures. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out my previous post, Meet Jimmy Talon for more details.
Oh, and talking of Mountain Warehouse, it is thanks to them that I was able to actually go geocaching wearing more than just my boxer shorts, as when we did leave the house heading for nearby Tring, I was wearing my new combat trousers, as supplied by them, and feeling ready to take on the world… or at least find some tupperware… same difference.
The area around Cholesbury and St. Leonards near Tring in Hertfordshire is one we have visited a number of times before for geocaching. In fact it is not too far from there that Shar and I got engaged, after finding a multi cache.
For whatever reasons, the mood and spirit in our team was less than 100% today so we decided to not plan too much and just take a lunch and do as many or as few caches as we felt like. The main thing was to get out and get some fresh air into our lungs. And fill my lungs with it I did as I stepped out of the car, with ease and comfort thanks to the nice elasticated waist and generous cut of the new trousers. With lungs full of air and nostrils filled with the smell of … err sheep poo, I booted up and we gathered our bits and bobs and headed off towards our first cache of the day, Church Micro 3510 Cholesbury (GC4A6ET).
I love church micros that involve collecting information from gravestones in sleepy village churchyards. Mainly because I get to sit on a bench in the peaceful grounds, while those with eyes that work, namely Sam and Shar, go in search of the information. So there I sat, in the warm sunshine listening to the birds tweet and the groundsman strimming back the weeds and I allowed my mind to drift.
But I didn’t get too much time in my own head as Sam and Shar soon returned with some of the information and complaints about not being able to find some of the other numbers. The curiosity of the groundsman got the better of him at this point and he came over to enquire if he could be of any help. A short while later after one of those slightly awkward conversations about what a geocache is and why we are looking at gravestones and he is able to help us find one of the numbers we need. Nice work fella.
With just a couple of numbers left to find I sat back down and listened as Shar and Sam did slow but steady laps of the church pausing only to grumble as the reached me each time. I felt I needed to do something to help and so after reading the cache description, I turned to Siri to see if she could help. One of the numbers needed was associated with a renowned doctor who was very influential in the field of world health and family planning. I got to work and promptly got thwarted when my single 3G reception bar disappeared and I was left with GPRS and the iPhone ground to a halt. hmmmm.
A bit of experimental moving around trying to find a better signal and soon I was back in business on 3G. Siri was put to work with a search based on the birth and death years of the doctor along with the keywords renowned doctor family planning. She was very helpful in returning a number of web results telling me all about cheap prescriptions and how and where to get free family planning advice and failing that, the morning after pill. Well not exactly what I was looking for.
After a little thought, a more careful choice of keywords and some improvised phone signal search jazz dance moves, I was able to pull up a name and the required number we needed to complete the formula, which was good because Sam and Shar were just about ready to give up.
We sat back down and worked out the numbers and discovered that our destination for the final location was within about 20 metres of where we had parked the car!!! We nodded to the groundsman and made our way back to GZ and after a short search managed to find the cache well hidden in a small clump of trees at the side of the parking area. This fun but time consuming process had taken us up to lunchtime, so we plotted up on the nearby handy benches and broke out the sandwiches.
Revived and refuelled after lunch, but still lacking a little mojo for some reason, we decided to pick off one or two nearby caches and see how we felt. We packed up and strolled across the nearby cricket pitch and into the trees to make our next find. A relatively simple base of tree cache but well hidden in a patch of nettles nonetheless. After this we took a decision that rather than push on and risk turning lack of mojo into bad moods we would call it a day. We took a roundabout route back in the direction of the car and just enjoyed the walk as we went.
We bumped into this lady as we were heading back to the car and took a moment to introduce her to Jimmy Talon.
“Meryl? Meryl Sheep, is that you?” – “Jimmy Talon, What are you doing in my field and who is that berk holding you?”
Back at home I tagged the picture with the required hash tags and uploaded it to twitter as per the Mountain Warehouse competition instructions. Okay, it was nothing special, but it is a start for Jimmy, and I feel sure that bigger and better things are just around the corner for him.
This geocaching adventure took place on Sunday the 23rd of July and took our total cache count up to 1728.