April 10 : Trackable – Get A Grip !

At the Farnborough meet there was the customary pile of trackables and geocoins to be admired and moved on. Amongst the pile GET A GRIP! caught our eye.

GET A GRIP!

GET A GRIP!


It was a small pair of grips or pliers, perfectly functional as a tool! Attached to it was laminated piece card stating that the trackable was in a race from Nottingham US to Nottingham UK. We knew we would be in Leicester (just 30 miles from Nottingham UK) over Easter so it seemed right we should take it.

When we got home, we discovered it had reached Nottingham many years ago!

Originally, back in 2011, it left Nottingham US (New Hampshire) bound for the UK in a trackable race. Before it reached Europe it travelled through some the Easternmost states in the US before leaving Florida in August 2012. It then went to Germany in Europe until March 2015 ! Eventually the grips made it to England but took a long route to Nottingham.. via South Wales!

After 8 months in the UK, the pair of grips made it to Nottingham…but its target cache had been disabled! It was placed in a nearby cache as a substitute. It is not clear whether this trackable won the race, or which other trackables it was competing against..but reaching the destination city is no mean feat.

Since reaching Nottingham it has travelled extensively in the UK, not helped by people believing it still needs to go to Nottingham! It has though visited Scotland and Marrakesh in Morocco!

We’ve emailed the trackable owner and the grips have a new mission… to travel the world.. perhaps Egypt? Italy? Japan? Australia? Here’s hoping it has further GRIPping adventures!

April 10 : Farnborough cacher’s meet

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Plough and Horses, Cove, Farnborough

Plough and Horses, Cove, Farnborough


When did we last attend a geocacher’s meet? We thought about it, and it had been a while, years, Leap Year Day 2016. We’d noticed that there was a meet coming to a place near us, the Plough and Horses at Cove, Farnborough. A little bit of research showed us that there were two Church Micro multicaches very close to the pub. As we didn’t fancy an extended search of a graveyard later on, in failing light, and so we didn’t get lost, searching fruitlessly in the dark, we also did a daytime recce of the area, spotted the pub, and collected all the information we needed to find the caches later.

Early in the evening, we returned to Cove, and stopped a little way short of the pub, to look for the Church Micro based on St. John the Baptist. We parked near a parade of shops, then walked off a little way to wait for a gap in the dog walkers and joggers to dive, hopefully unsuspiciously, behind a tree to find the cache: our research was correct.

St John the Baptist, Cove, Farnbourough

St John the Baptist, Cove, Farnbourough


From there it wasn’t far to the pub. There were no spaces in the car park: that was a good sign. We went in, past the group of people watching football on a big screen in the bar, to a dining area at the rear. It was FULL of cachers, some we recognised, and some new to us. We were greeted by the organiser, Reggiecat, and signed the attendance log to claim our cache find. After getting drinks and a bowl of chips to share, we joined a table, to have a chat to Woking Wonders (we’ve done lots of their caches, many of them Church Micros) and DTJM (we’d done one of their caches earlier that evening). JJEF was there, to showcase his fiendishly clever wooden caches (take a look at them here https://www.quirkycaches.co.uk/apps/webstore/products )

Buzio, a cacher new to us, stood up and gave a short talk on caching in Myanmar. Those at our table joined in with tales of derring do, including, I think, a story about setting sail on the Thames dressed as a pirate to find a cache on an island. The pirate costume was a disguise as it was ‘Children in Need’ weekend – at least I think that’s the excuse that was given! Adam Redshaw turned up, accompanied by Tabzcake and Barry the very well-behaved geodog. Adam publishes a geocaching magazine and does loads of other caching related stuff http://www.ukcachemag.com/

Anyway, enough caching name-dropping, we still had one more cache to find, so we said our goodbyes and left. It was pretty dark now, a good cover to find our second Church Micro of the day (Cove – Baptist), hidden in some street furniture. … No-one spotted us …

A good evening – pleasant company – great stories.

Here are two Church Micro caches, against bland backgrounds, for anonymity.

February 29 : Leap Year weekend part IV

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Bridge Inn

Bridge Inn


And finally for the Leap weekend extravaganza – a cacher’s meet, at lunchtime on Leap Year’s Day, February 29th, to gain another geocacing souvenir. By now, I was looking forward to a pint … We returned to the Bridge Inn, the starting point for our caching trip that morning. By now, the car park was far from empty. A steady stream of cachers were crowding around the first cache we visited just three hours earlier, then turning aside to file into the pub.

Leap Year Day geocaching souvenir

Leap Year Day geocaching souvenir

Once inside, we soon recognised JJEF, the organiser of the cacher’s meeting, said our hellos and signed the log for the meet. The pub gradually filled with caching faces, both familiar and unfamiliar. The bar staff weren’t expecting this many people. They were overwhelmed. We ordered food and a drink each. Mr Hg137 got his drink, but my pint (that one I had been looking forward to with such eagerness) was not available immediately.

Molemon

Molemon


We sat down and got into conversation with other cachers. Quite a few were going from cacher’s meeting … to cacher’s meeting … to cacher’s meeting. (We hadn’t thought to do that.) Most extreme of these multiple event cachers was Molemon, a slightly shell-shocked looking young couple, who appeared in the pub for a few minutes, and then moved on to caches new – their plan was to visit as many meetings as possible (I think they got to 11) and to visit as many different cache types (they managed 9) as possible in 24 hours. It was just after midday when we saw them, they had started at a few minutes past midnight, and it looked as if the pace was beginning to tell.

Molemon's trackable teddy

Molemon’s trackable teddy


My pint still hadn’t appeared. I went to ask for it. It wasn’t ready yet. Ho hum. More conversation with geocachers and their friends – the impeccably behaved Crumpit, a small white terrier, and then a reviewer, La Lunatica, who described how caches are reviewed and who handed us a free trackable.

Our food arrived, and not long after, my long-awaited pint. My Thai curry was very good indeed, packing a good bit of spice. And that pint was especially welcome!

May 4 – Star Wars Day

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was Star Wars Day – may the fourth be with you (get it???), and a geocaching event was taking place in nearby Yateley to honour the occasion. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so we bought some light sabres and started practising; best not to show ourselves up when amongst the other Jedi … I can’t do better than to quote the itinerary for the event from the geocaching website http://www.geocaching.com

11:45 – 11:58 am
Wait patiently in your car or stroll around the area.
STAY AWAY from ground zero and act like a muggle as much as you can!

11:59 am
Make your way towards the event coordinates.

12:00 NOON exactly
Take out your lightsabres and start a duel with another nearby cacher using the Force within you to defeat the dark side!

12:10 pm
We will gather and take a group photo of everyone and their lightsabres.

12:15 pm
The event area will be evacuated without a trace.

We turned up early, about 11:15, found a church micro at the adjacent St Peter’s Church, and then sat on a bench overlooking the green, and inconspicuously (we hoped) watched the world go by. As time passed, there seemed to be more people just sort of hanging around the area than would be expected by chance alone … that middle-aged couple, portable chair bags over their shoulders, intently perusing a shop window … those two families, spending a very long time over a short conversation … that man, sitting outside the pub with his dog … that person, wandering up and down on the other side of the road …

Then the appointed hour arrived … folk erupted from cars, brandishing light sabres, that harmless window-browsing couple turned, drew their sabres from the chair bags and joined the fray, and Jedi, many in full costume, swarmed from all directions to join the full blooded light sabre fight. Passing motorists were bemused, as was that muggle man, sitting outside the pub with his muggle dog. Much fighting and chatting and picture taking took place … then it was 12:15, and we all melted away. Great event!

Here are links to pictures of the event, taken by others, from the logs of the event on the geocaching website.




March 29 – Geocacher’s flash mob … and a swing bridge

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.

Time for something different: a geocacher’s flash mob.  The location was described on the event cache (a sort of time-limited geocache) with the hint  ‘Look for the big brick thing over the canal.’   And so we arrived in Church Crookham, at Poulter’s Bridge over the Basingstoke Canal, where a motley bunch of geocachers and geodogs were assembling.  We stood around for a chat in the warm spring sunshine – soooo different to yesterday – and talked to friends old and new; we’ve met up with quite a few other geocachers now in various places and ways (in the field, in the pub, via email etc) and it’s always good to put a face to a name.   Then it was time to sign the log, take part in the group photo, and to spread out into the surrounding area to claim some local geocaches.

 

Inventive cache container

Inventive cache container

A short series of five new and unusual geocaches had been released especially for this event and we found them all.  It wasn’t that hard, really, as there was a sort of extended crocodile of geocachers making their way from the flash mob around the circuit.  Many plaudits must go to ‘The Mad Cacher 007’ for such an inventive set of caches.  After finishing the circuit, we walked back along the towpath towards the geocar, arriving at a swing bridge over the canal.

The swing bridge

The swing bridge

Well, we already knew about this swing bridge because we knew that there was a geocache right underneath it, but it is very hard to reach, difficulty 4.5 out of 5.  The approved method is to approach in a boat, though the more agile get to the cache by climbing under the bridge, suspended above the water.  We didn’t have a boat and we didn’t fancy the climb … but I did have a key, which had been languishing on my keyring since the days when I did a lot of walking along canal towpaths … and it opened the padlock on the bridge.  We were thinking about what to do next – bridges are heavy – when a posse of other geocachers came into view.   A unanimous decision was made to go for the cache. The bridge was manhandled open and swung round.

Another discussion followed about where exactly the cache container might be and how to get to it (thanks to ‘Fay, R+R’) and then Mr Hg137 and others crawled underneath, emerging some little while later with the cache and quite a bit of the towpath mud. Log signed, cache replaced, and bridge swung back and locked again.

Job well done. Smiles all round. Teamwork!

PS Mr Hg137 was NOT allowed back into the geocar in his muddy state.  He was required to partially disrobe before entering the car!

December 29 – Arcus

Arcus

Arcus

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

At the cacher’s gathering in Imber, there was the usual box where trackables could be deposited and swapped. We took the Arcus trackable from the box – actually a Cadbury’s Roses tin – and we will help it on its mission, which was to start in France, visit Rennes, and then move on to see the rest of the world.

Tin for trackables ... slightly overflowing ...

Tin for trackables … slightly overflowing

December 29 Day 362 Caches Found 5, Cacher’s Meet 1 Cumulative Total 422 (+1 bonus, +4 cachers’ meets)

St Giles, Imber

St Giles, Imber

Imber.

A quiet, deserted village on Salisbury Plain.

Wrong! Wrong ! Wrong !

Imber was a healthy village on the Salisbury Plain until WWII, when the Army commandeered the Plain and the village, and ordered the village evacuation. The Army still own the land and the villagers have never returned. For about 50 days a year the Army allow access (Christmas, Easter, some Summer Days, Remembrance Sunday) otherwise the village is out of bounds.

Today, 29 December was probably one of the busiest in the last 70 years of the village’s history as 5 separate groups converged on the lost village. A quiet, deserted village it was not!

Our caching plan was to drive down early, visit three caches before heading to the cacher’s meet in Imber. Two of these early caches were part of a series called ‘Ridgeway’.. although we think this is the Wiltshire Ridgeway as it some miles from the Ridgeway Long Distance path which we walked in 2012. The third of our early caches was a puzzle cache, which technically should have meant us visiting Imber first. However with a bit of internet searching, the puzzle was solved and the co-ordinates were derived and visited.

We sat in the car near this cache and drank some coffee before heading to Imber. Just as were about to leave two cars drew up. They were cachers too. We exchanged greetings with Candleford and WalkingWood and expected to see them again at Imber. (We didn’t but our paths did spookily cross).

Peaceful scenes on Salisbury Plain

Peaceful scenes on Salisbury Plain

Onto Imber. Already quite busy at 10:20 and we just managed to squeeze a Mondeo into the parking space of a mini. First cache was a ‘virtual’ where we had to take a ‘selfie’ and answer a question (posted to the cache owner after the event) to prove we were there.

Next up, signing the cacher’s meet attendance log. We were about the 24th on the list … we believe the actual number was approximately 250. (Some of these groups were one person, others were groups of 2 like us, others families of 4). It is therefore likely there were well over 500 cachers present!

Our last cache was a church micro based on the village Church, St Giles. Sadly our GPS didn’t store enough information for us to solve the clues. We joined up with spooney15 and we resolved the clues together. Sadly our arithmetic was poor, and our answers were verified by another team! The actual GZ was about 3 miles away, not in the village.

Inside the church

Inside the church

We left the church and were confronted by a very busy road. Loads of cachers had arrived, 85 runners were road racing, some vintage motor bikes roared through, then an off-road cycle race were headed in the opposite direction (how there weren’t any accidents on what was a narrow road is beyond us). Then some off-road motor-bikers turned up. There were also ornithologists and ‘muggles’ just visiting this quiet, deserted village! We estimate 800-1000 must have visited that day!

A quiet village scene ?!

A quiet village scene ?!

We had a picnic lunch, awaited the raffle draw (didn’t win) and then headed off to find the GZ for the St Giles Church. SO DID EVERYBODY ELSE !
The road was single track and the village of West Lavington didn’t know what had hit it! We had no problem finding the cache as when we arrived it was being passed from cacher to cacher!

A fantastic day out to end a fantastic year’s caching!

Footnote :
At the event there were well over 150 trackables deposited in a large tin. We placed our two trackables ‘Movie Collector’ and “Huhnergott” there for other cachers to take. As we left the Church we took the last remaining trackable,”Arcus”
When we checked afterwards…. “Arcus” had been deposited by WalkingWood and “Huhnergott” had been taken by the other cacher team we saw prior to Imber – Candleford. Spooky eh ?