Thursday, 20 February 2014

Keeping busy: The First izaacwilson loop! - Photo heavy!

I hadn't intended on doing a lot of Geocaching this week... shows you how wrong you can be!

I had dropped my Anticaching OH at my parents for a driving lesson with my mother, and they planned to be out all day. I had bought lots of work to do to get on with while they were out, but the moment I sat down the sun began to shine... Who am I to resist?!

I checked up on a cache of mine (GC4QHGH Stamford and Deepings' Canal - Not Another Tree) after it was reportedly stuck in the tree trunk. A lot of fiddling, and a fear of loosing my arm 127-hours style in the tree trunk and I had retrieved it, but it couldn't go back where it was! I've relocated it to a new tree.

Izaacwilson's West Deeping and Back series had been published a little while ago, which dismayed me slightly - it took a lot of the route I was going to use for the Stamford and Deepings' Canal, but I should have got there sooner! I've since spoken to Izaac, and he's happy for me to direct Stamford and Deepings' Canal walkers along his route.

With the sun shining and my Geodog eager to go (for once!), we set off and started with #14. Ironically, I had stood at GZ earlier today on my way back from my maintenance run and idly looked, knowing there was a cache somewhere here but not properly knowing what I was looking for or where it was. Now I knew, it was a quick find. We were joined by a red kite here soaring directly above us (and very low!) but I just wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch it.

I know this walk well and it's a pleasant one. We quickly pick up #13 and #12 along the route the dog regularly walks. From here, we join the path of the canal (which is why the field moves in a strange, curvy route) and there are more quick finds.

Coming towards Tallington, the farmer has set up a small wooded area; when we used to walk this walk regularly, there was often a gentleman with two small, pitbull-esque dogs who we eventually reported to the police for harassment; he used to follow my mother and myself around the field making horrible sexual comments or shouting abuse. It's the main reason we stopped walking it. I have no idea if he's still around, but I thankfully didn't encounter him today. I did, however, find the first caterpillar I've seen this year!
From here I cut across the field (naughty! But it's not being used at the moment) to the railway line. The new boards here say that they are eliminating the footpath across the line entirely (a path that has been temporarily disabled for 2 years) and making the permissive footpaths permanent. About time they did something!

At the next cache (#7) is one of my favourite local curiosities, a camouflaged ladder!
One of the local farms tells me it's a hide for shooting from. He's probably right. There's a lot of animal traps around here too. The Geodog likes the bridge, but not the water; she's not a great fan but wants a drink. In the end, her fear wins out and she gives up trying to reach over the bridge to the water.
This is the first point I really experience any trouble with the Geodog too. She won't get over the stile! In the end I lift her over, but she objects greatly to this and ensures that I'm aware of it.

This part of the walk is one of my favourites. I love the river here, but the field usually houses sheep. I wonder where they are over the winter? The dog gets down to the river here, but the ground it's as secure as she thinks and she ends up shoulder deep in water, which put her off the entire mission! She also ended up covered in mud, which she hates....
 ... But not as much as she hated being stuck in the mud at #3!
She waded around in the water while I signed the log, and then found she had sunk and couldn't get herself out! I was worried that I would have to wade in myself and pull her out, but thankfully she worked herself free before it came to it. The field in between #2 and #3 usually has cattle in, but again they're not here today. Again, I had to physically lift the dog over the stile here, but only because she was too lazy to jump over it; most dogs should manage it, both big and small.

This joins the route of the canal again, and while the rain has been so heavy the canal itself has re-flooded. and the footpath walks along the old towpath, with the river on one side and the canal on the other.

It was a lovely walk and I enjoyed it, and although the caches will pull people in to walk it (which is great!), they're not exceptional and become very predictable. It would be nice to see some variety in the containers Nevertheless, it's a nice series and I look forward to putting it to good use alongside my own caches! :)

-Finds Today: 14
-Total Finds: 340

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Playing Bingo, and a long trek south....

Following on from our recent disappointment on a day out caching, I have spurred myself into new ways of finding Geocaching to be "not all about the numbers" - the smilies are great and all, but it's not the be all and end all. Since the new year Pip_Squeek and I have been aiming to fill up out D/T grids, but that's not enough for me.

Heading down to celebrate a friend's birthday, I searched around Bluewater in Kent for any caches I may have a go at while I'm there, and stumbled up GC2XRTH - Blockbuster-Stylee Bingoish Challenge. This looks like just the thing I'm after! I'm in the area regularly visiting said friend, so I can claim the cache when it's complete. I sign up. :)

Yesterday, I headed down south to celebrate. This was the perfect opportunity to fill a box - 2 caches 100km apart in a day. Before I leave the Fenland, I head up and claim GC2J3M1 - Poppies on Parade - Friday Bridge. Pip_Squeek had this one a little while back, I had never got around to it, so this is the perfect opportunity. It gives me a starting point, and as long as I claim a cache in Greenhithe or the surrounding area, I can fill that square.

Heading down, I usually stop Birchanger Green for a rest, but a little bit of Geo-searching locates GC1VBN7 The Takeley Heathen Stone, an EarthCache nearby which I decide to pick up instead. I had worried about this, as Earthcaches have been known to take a while, but this is a quick one. It also gives me two different types of Geocaches... I could be onto another square here, 4 different types of geocaches in one day.

After battling the QE2 Bridge, with an accident halfway across causing chaos, I pick up my friend and persuade him that Geocaching is something he really, really wants to do on his birthday. Naturally he gives in and we head out for a multi; GC4Y2JA Church Micro 5171 - South Darenth St George. I'm the second to find, and the on-site puzzle is nice here. A good little cache. :)

The final cache needed to be different... There is a letterbox cache close to Bluewater, but my Anticacher isn't keen on geocaching, let alone geocaching and walking. Instead, I have a puzzle on standby that I had solved last time I had visited my sister, but had never got around to claiming, so we grab that one instead.

Overall, I feel it's been a really productive day. It's been so nice to chase purpose, not numbers, and this is something I can see myself really getting into.. :)

-Finds today: 4
- Finals total: 326

Monday, 17 February 2014

The curse of the Beach Hut

With half term upon us, we decided to spend a day out Geocaching and clearing up a bit more of Peterborough. We had 42 to beat our single day record, and Pip_Squeek needs 48 to reach 300.

Having grabbed breakfast at McDonalds, we decided to start at Eye and work our way inwards. We headed up to GC2E0J1 - Top of tree!, excited by the prospect of something different but it was not to be - we couldn't find the cache, and instead found lots of evidence of it missing completely. :( Little did we know it would set the tone for the day!

Finding we didn't have a pair of tweezers between us (El-Woodio had used his for something different and left them behind, mine were in my house and Pip_Squeek had lost hers around the Linwood Loop yesterday), we headed into Eye to buy some new ones. However, we had no luck and headed first to Sainsburys, then up to Tesco Extra at Serpentine Green.

Well, while we're here, we may as well try Beach Hut's new puzzle this way, GC4Y971 - Posh Piccie Promenade 2. It looks to be really interesting and logistically, it couldn't be that hard, surely?! We located all the points we needed quickly, but then spent over an hour going back and forth trying to find the right spot. I have a natural curse of BH's caches, I now have 4 of his caches that I have all the information for, and mostly co-ordinates (just this one missing!), and not a single cache signed! It's turning out to be a true problem of mine! Eventually we quit here, but Beach Hut has since informed me that we were tantalizingly close...

We move on and collect a few caches around Orton Malbourne, and across into Woodston. Woodston in particular was muggle-packed, between lorry drivers and office workers I think we only really had about a 60% success rate here.

By lunchtime, we were feeling pretty dejected. My mum lives in an outerlying village and, loosing our mojo, we decided to pack up for the day. Pip_Squeek and El-woodio grabbed my newest cache at my parents and we idly flick through a few puzzles. We looked at GC2P5X5 Happy Birthday Mr Beach Hut, as I had already solved it, and Pip_Squeek's mathematical brain quickly had it sussed. We packed up from my mum's and headed out again. El-Woodio doesn't have a premium membership, so Pip_Squeek and I are on our own hunting at GZ. We were originally in the wrong place, and after 10 minutes searching I'm ready to quit in a fit of rage. Heading back to the car, Pip_Squeek checks one last place and suddenly she has it! The curse is broken!! We pick up another cache in Langtoft and head out.

Feeling buoyant with our success, I suggest GC40PYV - The Old A15.... Renewed, another Beach Hut cache I have struggled with. At GZ the rain set in and Pip_Squeek was cold, we tried our best but another DNF here for us, even after resorting to a fingertip search.

Our luck turned, however, at GC2GYYQ - GSV1. We had solved this one in August last year but hadn't claimed it then, and the last time we had tried to claim it, it was missing and w passed Beach_Hut by just an hour as he replaced it after our visit! Today we had more luck and managed to get it signed! Hooray!

Now to battle our way back home through the heavy rush hour traffic... :(

-Finds today: RFF - 11; PS - 12; EW - 10
-Total Finds; RFF - 322; PS - 263; EW - 130.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Lab Caches

Lab Caches are a new, exciting trial that Geocaching are investigating. The basic premise is that you place a geocache that only one person can find, and that they can take away with them. Only they have the co-ordinates and it's up to them to find them.

The Peterborough Geocachers UK Facebook group decided to take the opportunity to use this for a "Secret Santa" type affair, where those who want to be involved could be assigned a cacher to set up a Lab Geocache for.

Naturally, I signed up! GobbyandWhinge got me drawn out of the hat, and today Hazel of G&W contacted me to let me know that my cache was ready, and could I please pick it up that night. It was 7:30 already, but I was prepared to go! The cache was in the middle of the very beautiful Gault Woods, and it was an area I knew well, but given the darkness and fearing for my own security I persuaded my Anticacher to come along!

The woods were "locked" (there appears to be pedestrian access through an unlocked side gate) so we left the car on the road and walked to the woods. It was exceptionally dark, and it was a pleasure to see the stars so beautifully. The local wildlife were very vocal, both in cries and calls as well as moving around. I can only assume it was owls leaping around the tree tops as they sounded huge!

Walking to GZ, I was telling my anticacher that, in one of the attempts to find GC1M5MC - Gault Wood Walk, I had scouted the whole area we were heading to (It was too far out, but I was desperate at the time!). We came up to GZ, and there was something beautiful in the tree stump...

They had left me a beautiful pot of fireflies, glowing in the darkness! We retrieved the pot and walked back to the car, admiring them as we went.
Back at home, we got a better look at the home made fireflies....
and had an anagram puzzle to solve, made of beautiful magnet mini-buttons.

I'm so grateful to have such a beautiful cache just for me! I intend to treasure it for a very long time. :)

-Finds Today: RFF - 1
-Total Finds: RFF - 312

Adopting Geocaches!

Pip_Squeek and I were very sad recently to learn that one of our favourite series' had been archived; The Linwood Loop took a nice walk across the south of March and into Wimblington, and it was one of the first long walks we had done as Geocachers.

We contacted the owner, PhilBirdBoys, who agreed to let us adopt the caches. We went through the process during the week and today, we went out to walk the route and check on our new caches.

It was a gorgeous walk, the weather was beautiful and we were joined by our two significant others and the smallest geodog. We did manage to get covered in mud, and I nearly fell over more than once(!). The geodog had just been clipped and he managed to get coated in the stickiest mud I've ever seen! All this, though, didn't dampen our fun and we enjoyed the great little circuit.

Most are in place, although we need to relocate #17 and reorder a cache for #8. All the cache pages are up to date, I've fiddled the attributes and some of the hints and we're all set!

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Rutland Geocaching!

Over the last week, Pip_Squeek and I decided to do a day's geocaching out in environment she isn't used to; She has always been a Fenland girl and so I decided to take her back to my home area, and we planned to head out to Seaton and Rutland water.
We had planned to hit lots of caches, and give PS, who is still learning to drive, experience of hills and different road types. However, Saturday rolled around and I felt really run down; I had been to Doddington out of hours GP the night before, feeling under the weather and concerned about scarlet fever (which is going around my class at work). I was given the all clear, but still wasn't feel great so I passed on caching on Saturday; instead, Pip_Squeek went out with her anti-caching parents and cleared up around Newborough.

Sunday rolled around and I decided to go out anyway; it only felt like a head cold and maybe the fresh air would clear my head. We tottered over to Seaton, and meandered around, picking up a few of izaacwilson's Morcott and Back series that we could grab with the car. Pip_Squeek was impressed with the view over Seaton and Harringworth, and rightly so.
We also headed up to grab GC1Z3RG Beady Eye, but we couldn't find it. I hadn't been this side of the valley though, and the views were just as lovely. :)
From here, we headed down to Rutland water and across the Hambleton Peninsula. It's a lovely little place and the church is particularly noteworthy for its beauty, the snowdrops are stunning. :) We grabbed the three main caches on the roads and left the others for another day.

By this point, I'm feeling pretty rotten. We've only got 7 caches but I've had enough, and we head home. Bumping our count up to 8, we stopped off at a Newborough cache that Pip_Squeek wasn't sure she had got on Saturday (She hadn't) and logged that one too.

(Turns out I had shingles, by the way. Horrible. :( )

- Finds today: RFF - 8; PS - 8.
- Total finds to date: RFF - 311; PS - 252.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A second FTF!

This lunchtime, casually sat at my desk, Kinzey23 messages me. "I've got something for you." How exciting! He won't tell me more, but promises me to reveal all.

Pip_Squeek and I are relaxing at my flat that evening when my phones goes again. Kinzey has gifted me GC4Y26E - FireFlies - Can't resist a First To Find on that one, right?

Pip_Squeek and I hit the road quickly. It's very close to home for me, and we swing by and pick up El-Woodio on the way. We're desperate for that FTF, as it'll be Pip_Squeek's and El-Woodio's first, and this is a cache just for me!

We arrive at GZ very quickly and start scanning obvious places. I put my hand on the cache and pulled it, but it didn't move and I discarded the idea. Pip_Squeek did the same, and after ten minutes of pacing around GZ we come back to this particular place again. I try it one more time, discussing it with El-Woodio, and in fact say to him at one point; "I really want it to be this. It so looks like it should be".

I turn my back to look elsewhere when there is a whoop from El-Woodio - he not only has the cache, but he's followed my instinct and if  I had just looked a little closer, I would have had it!!

We sign the log and are back on our way.

I love that Kinzey was kind enough to place a cache for me, I'm really enjoying his style.

Now, to get him back... :D

-Total Finds Today: 1 each
- Total Finds to Date: RFF - 303; PS - 235 (caught up on logging!); EW - 119.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Realfireflies' First FTF!

Let me make one thing clear; I'm not a natural puzzler. If an answer doesn't come to me quickly, I lose heart and give up. I don't think in particularly logical ways and I'm not a natural mathematician. Overall, puzzlers are my nemesis.
After yesterday's successful day hardcore Geocaching, Kinsey23 put me onto another of his caches, GC4XMYX - Round and Round to have a go at. It hadn't been found yet and he was frustrated, as he claimed the puzzle was easy...!

I spent a few hours last night going backwards and forwards with various ideas, anything from radar patterns to rounding numbers, to roundabouts themselves! (One of these may or may not be the correct solution. ;) ) I was becoming increasingly frustrated; at one point I was so sure I had it, and the Geochecker rejected me. It was very demoralizing.

I slept on it, and had another look at it this morning. I was becoming even more frustrated with answers I felt were so close and yet seemed so far away. Talking to some caching friends, I had a nudge which suggested how to reduce the numbers I had in front of me into co-ordinates. Suddenly, I had it!
Rang Pip_Squeek.. No, she's busy! Rang El-Woodio... No, he's at work. Looks like this FTF is a solo one for me!

On my way out, I passed GC4RGHQ A-road Anarchy: A47 Thorney bypass. Every time I've passed it recently there have been muggles at GZ, but not today. I swung by and grabbed a quick pick up while I had the chance, as it's a busy stretch of road that often has people in the layby.
Back to Round and Round. I arrived at GZ and wandered around with the GPS for a bit. It kept bringing me back to a spot that looked totally in-viable, and so I focused my attention slightly elsewhere. With the idea that geokids would not want to attempt this from the cache description, I considered where I wouldn't be happy sending my 7 and 5 year old, and quickly I had an idea. I spent some time assessing the area and decided that I could see the cache, but it would be difficult to get to. There's water all around me from recent rainfall and I had decided against wellies before I arrived...! In the end, I decide to plough on through - I didn't come this far to give up now. Eventually I have when I thought to be the cache in hand, but it turns out to be a discarded glass bottle. Sometimes, I hate caching.

I returned to the geocar. Do I give up? I went back to the cache description to check that I had transferred the co-ordinates from the geochecker to my GPS correctly, when I noticed something that looked familiar. Hmm. Back I go (I still haven't checked those co-ordinates...!!).

I searched in the wrong place initially, dislodging a giant spider (ARGH! So glad Pip_Squeek wasn't with me now!) I'm really fed up now. I search again, in a slightly different place, and still no luck. That's it. I give up. I'll come back again with Pip_Squeek (I won't tell her about the spider...) and El-Woodio and get them to help. I come away from my search area, and as I start back to the car a thought occurs to me. Within seconds, I could *see* the cache - how frustrating that I missed it before - and within minutes it was signed. (By this point my pen has been dropped in water several times and threatens not to work... I don't think so! A bit of scribbling brings it back to life!)
At least I made a new friend...

I'm so pleased I managed to get that FTF - It's something I've wanted for so long!


Total Finds Today: RFF - 2.

Total Finds to Date: RFF - 302

Saturday, 1 February 2014

RealFireFlies finally gets 300!

At the end of last year, myself, Pip_Squeek and two of the AntiCachers went out to finish Thorney's Road Trip and collect a new and exciting cache - GC4VKER - 4.5m up a tree. We finished the series off and went out to check this cache, but it was too high to simply climb (much to my AntiCacher's dismay) and we had to return another day. I was approaching 300, so we decided that we would assign this special cache to the special milestone.

Recently El-Woodio and I had been out on a very rainy day to collect the Doddington Bypass series which never got blogged, and collected a few of the Hello Huntingdonshire caches - a series I desperately want to complete - which took me up to 298.

This morning would be the day, we decided. One of the AntiCachers is resident in Lincoln, and was visiting for the weekend, and we had perfect weather. With a folding ladder packed into the GeoCar, we swung by GC4MVDN - Thorney Fen Micro to grab a quick find for #299 before heading to GZ.

Recent logs had left us puzzled on this cache; when we visited before we had found in simple to spot and our GPSr, although taking some time to settle, did find the correct tree. Today it located the right tree almost instantly and again, the cache was easily spotted from the ground, as promised. The anticachers set the ladder up, and although we experienced high winds which made me highly uncomfortable as my AntiCacher opted to climb the ladder, we quickly had the cache in hand, signed and replaced!

The Anti-Cachers scale the tree...

Kinzey23 has a lovely little cache here and it definitely comes highly recommended from us! It has also given me a chance to chat to him and get some hints on some his puzzles... None of us are particularly puzzle orientated, so hopefully this will help us!

-Total Finds Today RFF - 2 // PS - 2
-Total Finds To Date - RFF - 300!!!!!!! // PS - 218... But she has 14 not logged...!