February 23 : Swiss Mountain Cow

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Swiss Mountain Cow

Swiss Mountain Cow


We found this perky little cow in an ammo can in a quiet spot near a cemetery near Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. But as travelling trackable cows go, she is quite mature, having left Switzerland just over seven years ago, in February 2011, to undertake the following mission:
“I was born in the Swiss mountains at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level. The place I come from is the paradise on earth. My education is not very high but I am sure that I am very intelligent. So please show me the world.”

The little cow has travelled over 30,000 miles in the last seven years, visiting Germany, extensive travels in the USA, including the East Coast, Alaska, up to the Arctic Circle, and Hawaii), also the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Isle of Wight was the first time this trackable had ever made landfall in the UK, having just returned from New York. A globe-trotting little cow indeed!

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February 23 – Havenstreet, Isle of Wight

Havenstreet Church

Every year we play in a weekend Scrabble tournament on the Isle of Wight. Like previous years our plan was to undertake a few Isle of Wight caches before the tournament started, and find a few more on the way home after the tournament had finished.

So much for a plan!

We were within 20 minutes of the ferry crossing when we received a phone call telling us that the tournament had been cancelled due to illness at the hotel. We had to decide whether to turn round and head for home or cross to the Isle of Wight, find an alternative hotel, and find more caches than we had anticipated.

We chose the latter alternative!

Our original itinerary included a couple of caches in the small town of Havenstreet. We had cached (unsuccessfully) there before and wanted to turn a DNF to smiley face on the geocaching map.

Havenstreet station, on the Isle of Wight steam railway – was our destination. We parked the car and wandered over to GZ.

Its not a film canister is it ?

We were expecting to search for a film canister but very visibly on show was a clear plastic container.

Matching the hint.

Containing swag.

Containing a notebook.

But nothing that said “this is a geocache”.

We read the logs on http://www.geocaching.com and saw nothing that said the container had changed. We took photos, signed the notebook and claimed the cache.
There is still a chance our log will be revoked, but it looked and felt like a cache but we had the niggling feeling it wasn’t right. Time will tell!

Our next cache was the Havenstreet Church Micro. This was a multi and required us to find two objects with dates and ages on. We stumbled around a bit too long looking for the first object. But it did give us the opportunity to go inside the church and marvel at the spiral staircase leading to a small bell-ringer’s platform. (If this platform had been in a house, it would have been called a minstrel’s gallery). Eventually we did find the numbers we required to calculate our final destination…a short walk back into the village. Here we saw a few shops, a pub and a bus-stop-turned-book-swap-shop. Mrs Hg137 had to be dragged bodily away from the myriad of titles on display and reminded that she was supposed to be looking for a cache! We did find the small nano … but much more unexpected was the bus stop! Caching does take you near to interesting buildings!

Stop reading – we’ve got to find a cache!

A short distance on was our third Havenstreet cache. This was one we hadn’t prepared for (as – based on our original schedule – we didn’t think we would have time). However we soon discovered the route to “Little Bridges 1140 Blackbridge Brook” was muddier than our footwear would bear, so we retreated. We did though make friends with four horses: Jack, Ginger, Olly and Nagona all of whom came over to check us out for food. Jack even stood on Mrs Hg137 shoe and almost removed it from her foot!

On the outskirts of a cemetery on the Isle of Wight …

Our final cache was a puzzle we had solved from home. The solution was near to Havenstreet next to a cemetery. We spent 10 minutes scouring the trees and undergrowth until Mrs Hg137 caught sight of a good-sized cache. How we hadn’t tripped over it in our searching up to then we shall never know! We even found a trackable in the cache – a Swiss Cow!

So an eventful day – we had got over the tournament cancellation by finding three caches, making friends with four horses, finding a plastic cow, and reading book titles in a bus stop ! Isn’t geocaching surreal!

 

February 17 : FAST morning in Farnborough

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FAST - English Electric Lightning

FAST – English Electric Lightning


On a sparkling bright morning, we set of for Farnborough, not very far away, for a morning’s urban caching.


Our starting point was ‘The FAST and the Furious’, a very popular cache with clues to the coordinates based on numbers on the planes on show outside the FAST aircraft museum in South Farnborough. http://www.airsciences.org.uk You could probably find all the answers for the cache coordinates by peering through the fence in various places. But you would have a much more enjoyable time if you visited the museum and looked round properly. There are loads and loads of things to see and enthusiastic volunteers to explain what you are seeing. There’s a well-stocked shop, parking, refreshments, flight simulators (ever fancied piloting Concorde?) and the chance to climb into the pilot’s seat of iconic aircraft such as the Harrier. The museum is open at weekends and Bank Holidays and it is FREE!

Climb into a Hawker Harrier ...

Climb into a Hawker Harrier …

... or the cockpit of a helicopter

… or the cockpit of a helicopter


Emerging from the museum … you could spend hours there … we worked out the coordinates and walked the short distance to the cache location, finding it just where we had calculated. Result!

Just outside the entrance to the museum is a quite new statue of Samuel Franklin Cody, who made the first heavier than air flight in the UK in 1908 a very few yards from where we were standing. Mr Cody had an eventful life, read about it here http://www.sfcody.org.uk/aero.html

Samuel Franklin Cody

Samuel Franklin Cody

Cody's Flyer - so fragile ...

Cody’s Flyer (a replica) – so fragile …


We had obviously spent too much time looking at aircraft and aviators, or we were distracted by the aircraft whizzing low overhead as they came in to land, as our cache finding skills now vanished. Our next FOUR attempts at cache finding yielded nothing – two DNFs (did not find), one set of coordinates some distance away in the wrong direction, and one complete failure to spot the item which would have directed us to the cache. We decided to finish our morning’s caching and return home. Of course, our finding skills miraculously returned at this point, and we found three caches, including two Church Micros, on our way back to the geocar.

So, a mixed morning, with only four caches found out of eight attempts. At least that means there are still a selection of unfound (unfound by us, anyway) caches in the area for us to find on a second visit!

Church Micro

Church Micro

...and the location of another Church Micro

…and the location of another Church Micro


PS The pictures of the aircraft at the museum are reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Brian Luff from FAST.

PPS And here are some of the other caches we found.

December 9 : Yateley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On a frosty, crisp, sunny winter’s morning, we decided to get out into the fresh air and do a spot of caching. Mr Hg137 had spotted six caches, close together, a short drive away that all appeared to be well thought of by previous finders. (Editor’s note: you can award a ‘favourite’ point to a cache that you especially enjoy – for the location, for the cache container, or for any especially fun aspect of the cache. )


Having parked the geocar, we set off up Cricket Hill Lane for our first cache, ‘Pond View’. Both of us have driven along this road many times and have both failed to spot the little wildlife pond and the wooden carvings of various animals and plants. Geocaching does take you to new places … or makes you see familiar ones in a new light … The cache was nearby, in a container made from natural materials that blended well into the background.


Turning off the main road onto a narrow lane, we were immediately past the edge of Yateley and into countryside, and soon reached our next target, ‘Leap Of Faith’. We weren’t sure what that might imply, but it turned out to involve a large tree, lots of roots, many fallen leaves, and a bit of scrambling up and down a bank. After lots of searching, the cache was uncovered in a spot that both of us had already searched. Oh well. A little further on was ‘Outpost’, a cache with a hint that said (‘title should do it”). So we searched every conceivable object that could possibly be the place, but without success. (Editor’s note: the cache had gone missing and has subsequently been replaced.)

Can't find that cache!

Can’t find that cache!

Next up was ‘Long Forgotten St Barnabas’. Until 1980 a corrugated iron chapel (aka ‘Tin Tabernacle’) stood near here, and the cache name commemorates this. http://yateleylocalhistory.pbworks.com/f/TiceReminiscencesA5Bookletformat.pdf (Editor’s note: my – limited – local knowledge has just expanded a little.) Anyway, the actual cache wasn’t made of tin, but was another of those clever items built out of natural materials that blend seamlessly into the area around them. More rootling in trees and bushes, and we found it.

We crossed the road and set off up Prior’s Lane. Most of the roads around here seem to be called ‘Lane’ regardless of how large or small, busy or quiet they are! This one was both small and quiet, a narrow road that passed a few houses, became a track and then a footpath. Along here were our last two caches of the day. The first, ‘Crossword’ was somewhere outside a scout hut, where all the clues were in the puzzle supplied in the cache description. We arrived at the destination and surveyed various likely items. One kept catching my eye. It just looked … overconstructed … for what it needed to be. I prodded it and felt it and tried to find loose bits, and eventually something moved, and there was the cache. Well done to the cache setter – we’ve never seen one quite like that before.
(Editor’s note: it’s hard to describe caches without spoiling it for future finders! There is much, much more that I could have said here.)
(Editor’s note 2: a picture of this cache will very likely appear in our end of year post ‘Caches of the Year’ where we show some of the most interesting, exciting, unusual, or just plain daft caches that we have come across.)

Then it was time to find our last cache of the day, ‘Old Man Dawson’ (no, we don’t know who he was!). We had to determine some numbers – we had done the research on that beforehand – and then use those to open the cache. We arrived at the appointed place. I searched briefly and unsuccessfully at the foot of a tree. Mr Hg137 fell about laughing, and pointed to an item at about chest height. Doh! The cache was right there in plain view. And then it was just a matter of applying those numbers and opening the cache, simple enough, except that it was quite stiff and I broke a nail while opening it. Doh again!

And that was it for the morning. Five out of six caches found and time for a late lunch.

Here are some of the caches we found:

September 30 : Popham Perambulation

It had been some weeks since our last all-day geocaching expedition, and with Autumn taking hold, the Popham Perambulation seemed an ideal route to complete before the weather and daylight succumbed to Winter.

Fantastic views around the farmland


Popham is a small village just outside of Basingstoke near to both the M3 and A30. It has an airfield though we only saw one aircraft all day and that was at lunchtime. The Perambulation circuit consists of 16 caches, a bonus cache (based on numbers collected from caches along the way), and also a Church Micro: 18 caches, 5 miles.

The route took us around farmland – we must have gone round at least half a dozen fields, many of which had boundary hedgerows (ideally hiding places!). The route also crossed through several small copses (again ideal caching locations).

While we were on route to cache 1 we were aware of several vehicles driving into the first farm.
What were they going to ?

What is that vehicle doing ?

It was only much later we saw lots of pheasants (doing a good guard job over a cache) and heard guns firing. Then, we realised our route was close to a day’s shoot. Indeed while we were attempting caches 14, 15, and 16 the shooting party were preparing to shoot within yards of where we were looking. Minutes later and we would have been in the firing line! Phew !

The numbers that we needed to find the bonus cache had been placed in various caches on route. We were grateful that the numbers were duplicated in various caches, as we failed to find 4 of the 16 caches! Two of these DNFs were in ivy and after 10-15 minutes searching we gave up at each location. Another of our DNFs had genuinely gone missing and has subsequently been replaced.

Somewhere in the ivy, is a cache. Sadly we didn’t find it!

Many of the caches we found were relatively small and it took us a few cache finds until we found a cache big enough to fit the Schlumpfi trackable inside.

Farewell Schlumpfi!

St James, Woodmancott


The Church Micro was an easy find, as it was out in the open, so we hid it better. Our only disappointment was that the Church was closed, presumably for the following day’s Harvest Festival. The Church did have an unusual way of displaying parish notices!

The Church seats were an ideal place to have lunch, and it was here a light aircraft flew overhead, towing a banner advertising Winchester shopping centre!

After cache 16 we checked the numbers we had found, and discovered more by luck than judgement, our car was parked a few yards from the final hiding place.

Although we didn’t find all the caches which was disappointing, the walk around the chalk farmland around Hampshire was great circuit with some expansive views which we thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the caches we found included :

August 19 : Monkey Magic

The second trackable we found on the Hampshire/Berkshire border was this cute monkey.

Who can resist his charming smile and playful demeanour? A real fun trackable.

The Monkey started off its journey back in March 2013 in Leinster, Ireland. Since then, according to its geocaching map, it has staying with Ireland and the UK and travelled nearly 3000 miles.

The furthest south it travelled was only a few miles south of where we found it, but the furthest north was in Grantown on Spey, Central Scotland. But, according to the logs it has been to a mega in Canada, and to Spain, yet these locations don’t appear on the map. Strange !

The Monkey now wants to head back home to Ireland, so hopefully we can move it that direction.

August 19 : Geocacher’s World Geocoin, yellow abatete version (plus a surprise bonus)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Geocacher's world geocoin, side 1

Geocacher’s world geocoin, side 1


Geocacher's world geocoin, side 2

Geocacher’s world geocoin, side 2


First, my apologies for the not very good pictures. This trackable was really hard to photograph… It’s a copy of a geocoin that looks like a German stamp, with a picture of the Reichstag. To feel and hold it was like a credit card, but a bit smaller and sort of squidgy and rubbery, not at all like most trackables, which are metal. Most of the ones we’ve found have been metal, anyway, usually attached to some larger object as a travel companion and to help it not get lost.

Having found this trackable right on the border of Hampshire and Berkshire, we checked on its mission, which is to “just travel”. As we are planning a walking holiday soon, we contacted the owner to ask if it was OK to take it with us – and we got this reply:
abatete Aug 19, 2017 4:18 PM
Hi hg137,thank you for your nice log for ‘Geocacher’s World Geocoin, yellow abatete version’. To answer your question: I’d be really pleased by having my TB brought to Shropshire. Do you not only like moving TBs, but also discovering? In that case you may like to discover the following one, which I use to thank for nice TB logs: https://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=XXXXXXXX with tracking number XXXXXX.Have a nice treasure hunt in Shropshire,Angela alias abatete

So there was a bonus trackable for us to discover and it was this one, Abatete Winter Dream:

Abatete Winter Dream

Abatete Winter Dream


This one lives with its owner in Hessen, Germany, and goes out with them on their caching trips. We got to discover this one too. We haven’t been offered this before, and it was a pleasant surprise.