February 29 – Just Ducky

February 29th started early as we had found our way into the JJEF cache The Bridge House (Tool Required). In this cache we found a squashed soft toy trackable, Just Ducky.

Just Ducky

Just Ducky

We held onto it during our caching adventures that morning, and had it in our possession at the lunchtime Leap Year’s Day meet (just yards from where we had found it). During the meet, JJEF remarked that he had placed Just Ducky in his cache late the night before and yet it gone ! We knew where it was and showed the assembled crowd.

Being a duck, the trackable really wants to visit rivers and ponds so what he was doing in a pub car park is a little strange! Just Ducky has had quite a journey since April 2006 when it was first placed in a cache in Northern Wisconsin, USA. Early on it visited Iceland, and then Switzerland before returning to the States where it criss-crossed from coast to coast from Los Angeles to Washington and much besides. Occasionally it has been in a cache for many months without moving and has on at least one occasion been declared ‘Lost’. Found again relatively recently, it was taken to Northern Ireland, where JJEF found it before placing in his cache.

We will move it on fairly quickly to prevent it being ‘lost’ once again.

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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!

February 29 : Leap Year weekend part III

Gluttony.

Pure geocaching gluttony.

We only needed one cache to fill our date grid for February 29th.

We only needed to attend a cacher’s meet to acquire a geocaching souvenir.

Technically attending the meet would do both but…

Footpath near Winkfield / Jealott's Hill

Footpath near Winkfield / Jealott’s Hill

… let’s celebrate the date in style! And what better than undertaking caches set by JJEF, whose caches are arguably the most memorable and local to us!

The first JJEF cache of the day was coincidentally placed at the pub where a lunchtime (Leap Year Day) meet was being held. JJEF caches are so good that they have to be savoured, we thought attempting the cache 3 hours before the meet will give us full enjoyment.

Nail Required!

Nail Required!


We were not to be disappointed. We took along a tool (a nail) and, as requested, connected it to two protruding nails from the cache. How could this possibly give us a 4 digit number, to unlock a padlock ? Well, we are not going to tell you (sorry)! But when we did find our way into the cache we removed a trackable, Just Ducky, and resealed the lock. Then, as we were leaving, we were approached by a member of pub staff. We knew the pub staff were told of the cache…but this one clearly had missed the briefing. Two people trying to break into a ‘bird-box’ in a car park looked suspicious … so we explained about geocaching and had to re-open the padlock to show the Tupperware contained within. Hey ho!

We then drove off, to undertake a mini-series of JJEF caches (some of which we had DNFed previously), and a few others set by other cache owners.

Our second cache of the day was another JJEF cache. Another padlock. This time a set of over 10 different possible numbers to try. Somehow it took us three passes through the numbers to open the cache. Whoops!

Which number will open the lock ?

Which number will open the lock ?


Our next JJEF cache and yet another padlock. This time the cache had a series of random letters on each side of the box, but try as we might we couldn’t convert a subset of the letters to a valid 4 digit number. We decided to leave the cache as our planned walk would finish at this site, so we would have another opportunity to crack the code.
The Letter Cache

The Letter Cache

Our next few caches were not JJEF caches. Mainly simple hides, in varying size containers. Some hidden by posts, under stickoflage, in tree roots. A pleasant walk through woodland occasionally seeing horse riders and a pair of dog walkers sharing the path with us. (Makes it easy at GZ when its that quiet!)

Our only gripe of the walk was the terrain rating of one of the caches. Marked as terrain 1, the easiest, terrain of all. We understood terrain 1 broadly means ‘wheelchair accessible’. This cache failed on two counts- the first being the footpath, not the flattest or driest in Berkshire, and the access to the cache… it meant climbing over a fallen tree! In fairness this cache was placed over 10 years ago so some allowances might have to be made!

Our final three caches were JJEF caches, two we had failed at 18 months ago, and the letter decode cache from earlier in our walk. Surprisingly we found the next two very easily. how we missed them 18 months ago we don’t know.. but we think that happens with every geocacher… doesn’t it?

JJEF caches seem to fall into two categories : a wooden box creation with a puzzle to get into it or a wooden natural object shaped around the cache container. And so by picking up a very natural piece of bark, and a very natural looking stick we acquired two more caches…just the letter cache to go…

Natural Bark

Natural Bark


We took the cache to the car. We wrote down every letter. We converted each to a number (A=1 etc) we tried endless variations and then…and then… we realised the most simplest of solutions may yield the answer. A couple of trial combinations later and we were in! Phew ! 8 caches attempted and 8 caches found and successfully opened. Fantastic ! And all in time for the lunchtime meet. Anyone for a pint ?

Other caches we found :

February 28 : Leap Year weekend part II

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Leap Year Weekend Caching Souvenir

Leap Year Weekend Caching Souvenir


Our original plan for caching on the Leap Year weekend was to find a cache – any cache – on February 29th, to fill that one day in the caching calendar that is only up for grabs once every four years. But somewhere in our planning, there had been a bit of ‘scope creep’ and out we went again, on the second day in the weekend, to look for geocaches.
Puzzle cache solved

Puzzle cache solved


Once more, we had decided on just two local caches. The first was another puzzle cache from the ‘Berkshire Residents’ series, with the final cache somewhere off a path leading from Nine Mile Ride. (Editor’s note: that’s not a very big clue as Nine Mile Ride is about seven and a half miles long!) Some of the cryptic clues which had enabled us to solve this puzzle involved ‘sports champion’ and ‘multiple jobs’. We left the geocar and headed off down a track, then grovelled around in the trees on either side, eventually finding the cache some little way from where the GPS said it should be. Ho hum. As we headed back to the geocar, we had to step aside smartly as a 4×4 came trundling up the track, before stopping to move a fallen branch. This didn’t seem quite right – surely this wasn’t a road? But the 4×4 driver assured us that he was in the right and we didn’t feel inclined to argue. Ho hum again.
Somewhere along Nine Mile Ride ...

Somewhere along Nine Mile Ride …


Back to the geocar, and time for the next cache, which was also along Nine Mile Ride. This cache is one that Mr Hg137 has covertly attempted, without a GPS (and without success) on previous occasions when passing by while working. Time for a concerted attempt by team Hg137. The cache title is ‘It’s with 20m of the coordinates specified’, so we stood at the spot of said coordinates and then fanned out to search for the cache. Mr Hg137 struck lucky and had the cache, seemingly within seconds, while I was still staring vaguely at the nearest tree to the coordinates. Ho hum for a third time. So, two caches, two successes, and another day bagged in the Leap Year weekend.

February 27 – Nachtuil

The Church Micro at St Michael’s and All Angels, Sandhurst contained many trackables. We took two, the first being Alex’s First Bug. The second we took was a small, metallic, almost badge-like Nachtuil (Night Owl).

Nachtuil

Nachtuil

Nachtuil started flying just over 6 months ago at the beginning of September 2015. It was originally placed in a cache in mid-Belgium. It then headed into Brussels where I’m sure it visited the many places of interest – however the cache that caught my eye (and in fairness didn’t need too much translation was Le Musée de l’Erotisme de Bruxelles Sadly this cache has been archived – but what a strange juxtaposition where 21st century gaming met Erotic Art!

After the Museum, the Night Owl flew around Belgium visiting lots of caches predominantly staying to rural locations rather than city centres. It arrived in the UK in January 2016 having had a month long stay in Meribel in France.
Its UK locations have been in Hampshire and Berkshire and we will move it onto another location soon.

February 27 – Alex’s First Bug

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

“Go far” – a simple mission statement, written on the tag of this trackable that we found in a Church Micro cache in Sandhurst, not far from where we live, while we were out caching over the Leap Year weekend.

Alex's First Bug

Alex’s First Bug


Attached to the tag is a letter A, for Alex. Since setting off from Colorado in late January 2012, this bug has indeed travelled far. By October 2012 it had reached Texas – then 10 days later, it was in Germany. Between January and March 2013 one dedicated cacher had taken it to Belgium, Iceland, back to Germany and Ireland. Then another equally committed person picked it up and March and April saw it visit Slovenia and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzogovina, and Slovakia, then the Czech Republic and Hungary in June 2013. (This sounds a bit like a round-up of Eurovision Song Contest entrants, doesn’t it?)

In July 2013 it made the leap across the English Channel to England, visiting several caches associated with William Shakespeare. By August 2013 it was in South Wales. After that it’s all a bit confused for almost a year, when it was found in Cornwall and moved to Berkshire. By the end of 2014 it had moved to Sussex – how, records don’t show. During 2015 it hung around for a few weeks at a time, then moving a lot, visiting the Lake District and Devon, and South Wales (again). Another committed cacher took it all around southern England over the winter of 2015/6, finally dropping it off near the Devil’s Dyke, just north of Brighton. It made its way, via a cacher’s meet in London and a few more caches, to us.

That’s quite a journey, just under 20,000 miles in all. We will move this trackable, which is certainly “going far”, to a part of England it has not yet visited.

February 27 – Leap Year Weekend Part I

Geocaching is an odd hobby. In its simplest form the game involves “finding Tupperware in the woods”. In its extended form there are lots of challenges, and lots of numbers, lots of targets to cross off like a giant bingo card.

One such target is the ‘date grid’ – that is to say finding a cache on every day of the year. We have never set out to fill our ‘date grid’ intentionally, but because we started geocaching 6 months after the last Leap Year day, we knew we didn’t want to wait until 4 years to fill complete our date grid.

Luckily enough http://www.geocaching.com were offering electronic souvenirs for geocaching over the 2016 leap year weekend. One souvenir could be claimed if a cache was found between February 27-February 29th, and another if one attended a cacher’s meet on Leap Year Day itself, February 29.

St Michael's and All Angels, Sandhurst

St Michael’s and All Angels, Sandhurst


We thought we would claim the first souvenir early by attempting 2 local caches.
The first was a Church Micro hidden in St Michael’s and All Angels Sandhurst. This cache was odd for several reasons..

Firstly it was a replacement cache! One of the first 30 caches we undertook was at this Church, but that cache has been archived and a new cache is now hidden in a different location.

Secondly, and unusually the cache is hidden within the Church property. We cannot remember a Church Micro that was hidden on Church grounds. Most have been placed some yards away from the Church.

A Micro-cache ? Really ?

A Micro-cache ? Really ?

Thirdly.. this Micro was HUGE! Normally the container is perhaps a 35mm container. but this was a large Tupperware container! Indeed inside the Tupperware container was another Tupperware container designed to hold trackables! Never have we seen such demarcation within a cache!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A really fab start to our Leap Year Weekend’s caching!

Our second cache was one of the ‘Berkshire Residents’ puzzle caches. Here the cache owner cryptically defines a personality who lives/had lived in Berkshire. Using key dates in their life, co-ordinates are calculated. (Because its a puzzle cache we are not giving anything away but two of the cryptic clues involve ‘a council flat’ and ‘charity work’. We’d solved this cache before Leap Year Weekend and realised the final cache container was hidden about half a mile from St Michaels and All Angels Church.

Which Famous Berkshire Resident led us here ?

Which Famous Berkshire Resident led us here ?


A quick easy find (the cache was clearly visible as we approached) and our two caches were completed… and a souvenir gained!

Leap Year Weekend Caching Souvenir

Leap Year Weekend Caching Souvenir