Paris in the springtime

17 04 2014

I can confirm that a good time to be in Paris is in the springtime. Most of the trees were green and many were in full bloom. The temperature was comfortable, even though I would have liked more warmth and the hoards of tourists that Paris is renowned for hadn’t all arrived. I’m sure that at Easter and onwards it will be completely different. The trip was a long weekend with partner and eldest grandson and the focus was on sightseeing. All the usual stuff of course. It meant lots of walking and many journeys on the Metro. The Metro was a great cheap way of getting around the city.

My partner’s grandson has been caching for over nine years (he started when he was 7 months old) and was pleased when we found a couple of micros in the centre of the city but didn’t really understood what a virtual and earthcache were all about. That’s all that was done in the way of geocaching on this trip even though I was hoping for more.

Arc de Triumphe

Arc de Triumphe

Eiffel tower as seen from the Arc de Triumphe

Eiffel tower as seen from the Arc de Triumphe

We started off at Arc de Triumphe and walked down Champs E’lysée to the Louvre finding our first cache Remember Votez Piments ! just outside Theatre Marigny which is in the park on Av. des Champs-Elysées. We then wandered on to the earthcache Les crapauds de l’obélisque de la concorde. at Place de la Concorde. Apart from the impressive obelisk there were a few rather strange looking people there as well.

The Egyptian heiroglyphics made no sense

The Egyptian heiroglyphics made no sense

The obelisk

The obelisk

There is an alien theory surrounding obelisks

There is an alien theory surrounding obelisks

Our walk continued on through the park past the Grand Bassin Rond and the virtual cache Who is she?

ds8300 and the Cezanne virtual cache

ds8300 and the Cezanne virtual cache

then on to the glass pyramid at the Louvre. Our caching for the day was over but we continued on through the central parts of Paris before returning to the hotel for the night.

The pyramid at the Louvre was pretty light

The pyramid at the Louvre was pretty light

Looking along the Champes-Elysees

Looking along the Champes-Elysees

The day after started with an hour standing in the queue at the Eiffel Tower before we could take the lift up to the viewing platform. The views from all sides were fantastic and we were all impressed. Shortly after coming back down to terra firma we found our second traditional cache Gustave et la Tour nestled into a corner together with a Munzee. We located a second cache in the Champ de March park but didn’t have the required bottle of water with us that was needed to extract the cache from it’s hidey hole.

Looking up the Eiffel Tower

Looking up the Eiffel Tower

Join 18038 parts together to make a tower

Join 18038 parts together to make a tower

Champ de March park

Champ de March park

Jardin du Trocadero

Jardin du Trocadero

Leon with the log for GC4HAV3 - Gustave et la Tour

Leon with the log for GC4HAV3 – Gustave et la Tour

From there on visits to Montparnasse, Sacreceur and other parts of central Paris were made using the Metro for transporting us around. We ended the day at La Defense. Very little geocaching but an enjoyable weekend none the less.

La Grande Arche De La Defense

La Grande Arche De La Defense





Odds and ends

11 04 2014

It may seem strange putting a visit to England’s oldest cache under the heading of “Odds and ends” but that’s how it worked out. zelger and I made a Saturday trip to the North east of his home location through Princes Risborough and the nearby Coombe Hill then on to Studham in the county of Bedfordshire. There were two goals for the day – find England’s oldest cache for me and finds some caches in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire for zelger. I had found some caches in Bedfordshire in 2005 on a trip to England that brought me in through Luton. OK, I admit it – I flew with Ryanair – please forgive me.

The drive to Princes Risborough was cross country for a fair part so we enjoyed some great scenery on the way. The first cache of the day was the earthcache The Prince’s Pudding!. This was a block of the fascinating Hertfordshire pudding stone that is prevalent in the area.

Hertfordshire pudding stone

Hertfordshire pudding stone

From there it was just a short drive up to the top of Coombe Hill where GC171 – View from Coombe Hill is located. The cache was placed on 2001-01-14 making it the oldest cache in England and the 13th oldest cache that I have found.

Welcome to Coombe Hill the home of England's oldest cache

Welcome to Coombe Hill the home of England’s oldest cache

ds8300 with England's oldest geoache

ds8300 with England’s oldest geoache

Half of team zelger at the site of England's oldest cache

Half of team zelger at the site of England’s oldest cache

A creative traditional cache on Coombe Hill

A creative traditional cache on Coombe Hill

We found a couple more caches at the top of the Hill and DNF’d a couple more before driving on towards Hertfordshire. We just had to log the virtual cache Fly By at RAF Halton as they are so uncommon then another pudding stone earthcache. A minor detour was made to log “Flat Cache” – No.3 -> Speeding Ticket just to see what the cache looked like. The log was completely full so the CO will need to make a maintenance visit. It was more or less as expected but fun none the less. The earthcache and this traditional cache gave zelger two caches in Hertfordshire.

We failed to find Entology but later read that it wasn’t at the posted coordinates. How smart is that? At least we saw plenty of wildlife in the woods.

Wildlife in Rail Copse, east of Tring

Wildlife in Rail Copse, east of Tring

From there we drove the five kilometers into Bedforshire where we joined a couple of trails together for a couple of hours walk in the countryside. The trails were the Studham Church Circular (link is to #1) and Our Common Goal (link is to #1).

More wildlife north-west of Studham.

More wildlife north-west of Studham.

For those of you not familiar with the wildlife or the geography of England the wallaby and joey are natives of Australia :-) and were in a field at the rear of Whipsnade Zoo just up the road from where we were caching. They were quite unconcerned about us passing by

Perhaps all the above belong to the “Odds” so now on to the “Ends”. The day after I moved location from Berkshire to Nottinghamshire where the day out was to find an earthcache but ended up not only finding oil but 50 thousand year old dinosaurs.

Whilst browsing for caches near to where I was staying with my other brother in the village of Barlborough, I reacted to the name of an earthcache not too far away. The UK’s first Oil Field. In my mind all UK oil was offshore so this sounded interesting, and it was. We walked the muddy track to GZ passing a few small nodding donkeys on the way. The history for this site and the geological formation that lead to the oil deposits was fascinating. Well worth the visit.

Nodding donkey at site of Englands first oilfield

Nodding donkey at site of Englands first oilfield

The oil formation at Dukes Wood

The oil formation at Dukes Wood

On the way back to Barlborough we decided to visit Creswell Crags (link to #1) where there was a short circular trail and half a dozen caches to be found. Most were standard fare but this one was a real teaser.

Creative cache at Cresswell Crags

Creative cache at Cresswell Crags

Man wasn't first on-site at the crags

Man wasn’t first on-site at the crags


We opted not to go into the caves but found it fascinating to think that they had been inhabited by both animals and people for many thousands of years. More can be read of the history of the crags and caves in the cache description. A well thought out visitor center has been built for EU money.

In all my long weekend in England netted sixty six finds of which a dozen were really creative traditionals, seven were letter-box/hybrids and four were earthcaches. Last but not least, we found England’s oldest cache. Yes!





Letter-boxes.

10 04 2014

There is something a little special about a letter-box/hybrid cache. Perhaps it’s because it is a modern implementation of a hundred year old game played on Dartmoor or maybe it’s just the collecting of colourful stamps that makes it fun. During the eleven years I have been geocaching I have found just eleven letter-box hybrids. They seem to be limited to certain areas where pockets of them can occur. I own two close to home that were placed for an event a couple of years ago and they are relatively well visited as they are rather uncommon in my area.

Anyway as I was in England, the home of the original letter-boxes, it felt appropriate that after a morning of caching close to Wokingham where a number of very creative caches were found three of us decided to do something a little different to the usual “let’s grab a load of trads”. Half of team “Zelger”, or to be more precise the “ger” part of the team, his son and I set off on the 70 km drive to West Berkshire and aimed for the small town of Lambourn with the aim of hunting primarily for letter-box caches. The trail we followed was creatively called “Lambourn”. On more or less the same route were another half dozen traditional caches that formed part of a longer trail.

The letter-box route.

The letter-box route.

The first letter-box cache was in a front garden of a house, which turned out to be the owner of all the letter-boxes in the area, and was quickly found and stamps exchanged. Our stamp was a less than awe inspiring date stamp as I had left mine at home and zelger don’t have one. The next letter-box was unfortunately in need of drying out so all I got was red fingers and no stamp on my notebook nor the map we were following.

Could there be a letter-box in here somewhere?

Could there be a letter-box in here somewhere?

Yes, there was a letter-box and a stamp.

Yes, there was a letter-box and a stamp.

We had better luck as we enjoyed our walk along the country lanes interspersing letter-box caches with traditional caches that were basically on the same route. The whole walk took a couple of hours and we found all the caches we were looking for. It was a somewhat cloudy spring day but the temperature was perfect for walking and the scenery was magnificent.

The majority of the bushes were in full bloom. Great!

The majority of the bushes were in full bloom. Great!

The final cache of the day in hand.

The final cache of the day in hand.

A lively discussion was held. Is this really a race horse?

A lively discussion was held. Is this really a race horse?

After our walk we got confirmation that the horse we saw might have been a race horse. :-)

After our walk we got confirmation that the horse we saw might have been a race horse. :-)

I have now found 18 letter-boxes – 63% up on my earlier total and all managed in a couple of hours.





Creative caches

9 04 2014

I spent a long weekend in England visiting my brothers and their families. It’s been quite a time since I got over from Sweden but I finally made it. As there are thousands of caches to choose from some kind of filtering was needed in order to get a good geocaching experience for both them and for me. One family geocaches, the other doesn’t but willingly take me out to places of interest that I can combine with geocaching.

Half of Team “zelger”, the ones interested in geocaching, had proposed that we went for quality rather than quantity and arrived at roughly the same list of traditional caches with lots of favourite points that I did. I also noted that there were a few earthcaches and letterbox hybrids that I found interesting. For a number of reasons we settled on a Friday morning out with just one cacher’s caches on our list. They were all close to Wokingham and all had a good number of favourite points. The hider was “JJEF” and the caches were all innovative. Normally I don’t limit my caching in this way so today was a good exception. The caches are listed below in the order we did them but the photographs are mixed up. JJEF is quite happy with me showing them as they don’t point to each specific cache.

Twin Lanes Trail W1
Twin Lanes Trail W2
Twin Lanes Trail W3
Twin Lanes Trail N2
Twin Lanes Trail N3
Twin Lanes Trail N4
Twin Lanes Trail N1
Folly At The Ford
Kerplunk
Magnetic Attraction
WriggleStick

These are the JJEF caches we found.

These are the JJEF caches we found.

I can definitely say that this was an exceptionally good geocaching experience and would recommend these caches to anyone who is in the area. Our afternoon was quite different as the theme changed to letterbox hybrids.

Nope, try again. Not in this hole so where is it?

Nope, try again. Not in this hole so where is it?

A tool on each side to wiggle the cache out of the tube

A tool on each side to wiggle the cache out of the tube

Lots of dowels and a cache in a tube.

Lots of dowels and a cache in a tube.

Balance an air pump and yourself over the fetid water and hope for the best.

Balance an air pump and yourself over the fetid water and hope for the best.

zelger would never have done this but I thought it was great!

zelger would never have done this but I thought it was great!

Guide this rod up a tube.

Guide this rod up a tube.

Pinball! Three of us had fast enough reactions to grab the cache as it popped up.

Pinball! Three of us had fast enough reactions to grab the cache as it popped up.

A neat way to keep little fingers out. A screw is needed to remove the block.

A neat way to keep little fingers out. A screw is needed to remove the block.

Wind the handle and the cache appears like magic

Wind the handle and the cache appears like magic





Malta

2 04 2014

I’m not a historian nor am I really interested in archeological ruins. However, I couldn’t help but feel awed as I stood at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra and saw what had been created there 5500 years ago. The chambers on the left are aligned so that the sun at midsummer, midwinter and the equinoxes falls on specific places in the temple.

Mnajdra from above

Mnajdra from above

Malta is a country that I have intended to visit for ages but originally the idea was to do this in the summer. For various reasons it became a trip in late March. As with most tourists we booked a hotel in Sliema just opposite the ferry terminal. A ferry crossed over to Valletta twice an hour for the greater part of the day. Our choice of hotel location turned out to be a good decision as it gave us access to a great number of buses that traversed all over the island for the astounding price of €6.50 for a weeks whole island coverage. In fact on some busses the drivers didn’t even want to see the ticket.

It took us all of fifteen minutes from checking in to finding the first cache – Sail Away – it was literally less than 70 m from the hotel, just on the water front. The majority of the vacation was actually spent doing tourist stuff such as sightseeing, shopping (not me but my partner) and dining. I can’t say that I was overly impressed by the local beers but the locally produced Merlot was quite drinkable.

The blue boat is the ferry between Valletta and Sliema

The blue boat is the ferry between Valletta and Sliema

View towards Valletta from hotel balcony

View towards Valletta from hotel balcony


We decided to visit Valletta starting with St. John’s Co-cathedral and of course the close-by Little Johnny’s Co-Cache.

Interior of St. Johns Co-cathedral

Interior of St. Johns Co-cathedral

Detail from gravestone in St. Johns Co-cathedral

Detail from gravestone in St. Johns Co-cathedral

It is obvious that the country has had a strategic military position in the mediterranean sea for a few thousand years as there is great evidence of fortifications all over the place.

Cruise ship passing Valloriosa

Cruise ship passing Valloriosa

Typical street in Valletta

Typical street in Valletta


When we got to the Lascaris War Rooms we decided to pass by as it was considered of no interest to my partner. As a consequence we ended up in the huge “ditch” between Valletta city and the rest of the peninsula. After a little detour we found ourselves in the basement of the newly built government building much to the mirth of the construction workers. We were shown the way back out to street level where we promptly stopped at the nearest cafe for refreshments.

Walking along the trench outside Valletta city

Walking along the trench outside Valletta city

Getting out of the fortifications of Valletta

Getting out of the fortifications of Valletta

New government building being built

New government building being built

We went for a walk down at the bottom

We went for a walk down at the bottom

As we had unlimited access to busses our next tour was to the Maltese Island of Gozo and to the earthcaches Azure Window and The DWEJRA – GOZO. Both were excellent places to study and admire. The walk up to the top of the 100m high cliff above the inland lake was invigorating and the views were astounding.

A fossil in the rocks at the Azure Window

A fossil in the rocks at the Azure Window

The Azure Window on Gozo

The Azure Window on Gozo

Inland sea at Dwerja

Inland sea at Dwerja. Note that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A big wave nearly filling the tunnel at Dwerja

A big wave nearly filling the tunnel

Wave crashing through the tunnel at Dwerja

Wave crashing through the tunnel

View from the top of the cliffs at Dwerja

View from the top of the cliffs at Dwerja

From here we took the bus back to Victoria and visited The Citadel which was a fascinating place with great views over most of the island.

View from the citadel in Victoria

View from the citadel in Victoria

The day after we took the bus to Mdina and Rabat on a sightseeing trip. Mdina was worth the visit but what we saw of Rabat was not so interesting. Maybe the catacombs would have been worth a visit but it felt better to be out in the sun. We found the cache Knights’ Wash Room just outside the walls of the Mdina.

A clock showing days and months on a church in the Mdina

A clock showing the seasons on a church in the Mdina

From Rabat we took another bus to Dingli and walked along a stretch of the cliffs passing by rosie’s magnetic geocache at a miniscule church on the edge of the cliffs and Faqqanija a little further along the road. It was a great walk back to Dingli where again we hopped on the bus back to Sliema.

View along the Dingli cliffs

View along the Dingli cliffs

Our final day was again spent on a number of busses getting to the Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. After logging The Blue Grotto – Il-Hnejja I noticed a guy on the cliff edge. I wonder if he knew how high up from the sea he was?

Small boat leaving the Blue Grotto

Small boat leaving the Blue Grotto

Guy standing on the cliff above the Blue Grotto

Guy standing on the cliff above the Blue Grotto

The busses on normal routes were modern, with the exception of the X1 – X7 buses that trafficked the airport. They were tatty old UK coaches from the seventies and eighties that were completely unsuitable for their purpose. How their owners got the contracts to traffic the airport is a mystery. It was a shame that all the quaint old busses have gone though. This one was turned into a souvenir shop.

A bus in the old colours

A bus in the old colours

I was pleased to find three earthcaches as they were at really interesting and scenic spots on the islands. Otherwise, we only found six traditional caches but that’s OK when much of our time on the islands was spent doing other things than caching.

Next week I will be making another trip abroad and I hope that a lot more caches will be found.





Dust off your gear

17 03 2014

Snow on Saturday and snow today on Monday. Not usually uncommon in Sweden at this time of year but this winter has been different and we haven’t seen snow for the last month. Luckily the snow that came on Saturday was just a little and most melted away quickly. Sunday was a glorious day, despite the wind. A few degrees above zero and a clear blue sky. Perfect for a T5 event!

With Yari as passenger I drove over to Hedemora, a trip of about 90 minutes, for the event Damma av utrustningen. I missed the event last year so really wanted to be there this year. What was the location of the event, you may ask? At the top of the silo – 169 steps to the top and a rope to come back down. :-)

The event started at the top of the silo

The event started at the top of the silo

As we arrived early we decided to find a couple of local caches with a good collection of favourite points. The random choices were Gamla silon and Motorstatnen #4 Matsbokurvan. Once we had found them we returned to the silo for the event. After climbing the 169 steps to the top of the silo we were welcomed by Knatos, the event organiser.

Most of the participants at the event.

Most of the participants at the event. (Photo: Svedjan)

After talking to those there, both known and unknown cachers we decided to start the downward journey. I have never abseilled down a pipe before so it was a novel experience. Popping out of the bottom end and finding oneself hanging freely in the air about 15 m above terra firma is quite an experience.

Daylight at the end of the tunnel, er, pipe.

Daylight at the end of the tunnel, er, pipe.

After the indoor abseil it was time for the outdoor run. Luckily it was the lee side we were abseilling down as it was quite windy. Getting over the edge wasn’t too difficult as there was a great ladder to grab onto. Then it was a 35 m walk down the side of the silo. Great fun. The procedure was repeated a couple of times, the main limiting factor being the climb up those steps!

Now I'm halfway down the silo.

Now I’m halfway down the silo.

Mr. Adventurer starting his descent. Note the passenger in his rucksack.

Mr. Adventurer starting his descent. Note the passenger in his rucksack. (Photo: Svedjan)


A couple more groups of cachers came from Gävle to the event, the young guys who love anything called T5 – you know who you are! Then there was the other group who were curious about abseilling and candidates for a premier trip. None of them actually tried, but they now know what it entails

After a few runs we decided to have a coffee break and then practice ascending. I still haven’t got my gear completely sorted so MR ZZ loaned me his and gave a few tips on technique. By then we were ready to grab a couple more favourited caches and as we saw PKA, Ironhawk67, Olleoljud and Kråkan1 about 200m looking for a cache we decided to catch up with them and see if they wanted to join us. When we got to them they were just about ready to DNF the cache. I looked at the hint and glanced around. Bingo! There was the cache! As I pulled it up I heard cheers but not from our friends looking for the cache but half a dozen cachers standing on the top of the silon watching the proceedings. I have never found a cache with such an enthusiastic public before.

We continued on to Hälla Vandrarhem, Svedjan and Slagruta as they also had high favourite points and weren’t disappointed. According to the cache description a visit to Slagrutan the day of a full moon is directly dangerous but we had just come from a T5 cache and felt we were strong today. We survived and I’m pretty sure this cache will get an FP from all six of us that defied the warning.

A further visit to Hedemora hunting for caches this summer is definitely on the cards, as there is such a wide variety of creative caches to hunt for.





Not a tree

11 03 2014

Not a tree in the middle of the forest

It would be a shame to call this an extreme cache but it was fun. After nearly a full weekend of looking after two small grandchildren it was great to get out for an hour and grab a cache in the forest that was a bit out of the ordinary. Spring seems to have arrived here in Gävle and it was 13C late on Sunday afternoon when I called the CO and we agreed to meet at the cache. Not knowing exactly what to expect I took both my ladder and climbing gear along the six hundred meter walk through the forest to the cache. Just as I arrived at ground zero I heard a voice behind me saying that the ladder wasn’t allowed. Of course, it was the CO who had caught up with me.

The previous two finders had used a ladder, which is of course “equipment”, the pre-requisite for a T5 cache. As they are in their seventies it is fully understandable. Actually carrying in the ladder to the cache was the hardest part of the adventure. Anyway, it didn’t take long to rig my abseiling gear and start off down the cliff. Er, did I say cliff? This was a very short descent and even taking into account the time needed to sign the log it was over in no time at all. The CO had a great laugh and I recharged my internal batteries that had been drained by two very active kids.

Easy peasy descent

Easy peasy descent








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