JJEF circuits

24 04 2015

Spring is here and a visit to England was on the cards. I was last there in April 2014 and discovered a number of highly creative caches close to where my brother lives in Berkshire, a county lying to the west of London. So once again team “zelger”, (my brother and his wife) and I went out into the nearby countryside to pick up som more JJEF caches.

We started off mid-morning on a bright and sunny day by following the small circuit trail Shurlock Stroll, where zelger had already visited the five caches in the series. They had a good chuckle watching me struggle with the first cache. When they did it there was no water in the stream. I had to hang over the water and not fall in. Three of the remaining caches had been “reboxed” so it was a new experience for them to find the caches again after their initial finds last year.

We took a clockwise walk around Shurlock Stroll starting at the question mark

We took a clockwise walk around Shurlock Stroll starting at the question mark

Part of the path with flowering hawthorn all over the place

Part of the path with flowering hawthorn all over the place

Wild primroses

Wild primroses

We decided to eat lunch before going on to Hogoak Lane and this where England beats Sweden every time. We ate a simple yet tasty lunch together with a glass of real ale sitting in the garden of the pub situated in Shurlock Row.

Lunch. I had eaten half before I decided to take the photo

Lunch. I had eaten half before I decided to take the photo

The pub in Shurlock Row

The pub in Shurlock Row

The caches on Hogoak Lane are spread over a walk of two or three kilomters of lovely undulating fields and woodland surroundings with good views of the countryside.

We made an anti-clockwise circuit of Hogoak Lane

We made an anti-clockwise circuit of Hogoak Lane

The woods were full of bluebells

The woods were full of bluebells


In addition to the caches on Hogoak Lane there were a few other caches by JJEF and other cachers on our route. Without identifying them individually here are a couple of examples.

A box with a fun locking solution

A box with a fun locking solution

Solve the code and open the lock

Solve the code and open the lock

You hid it where?

You hid it where?

Natural camoflague

Natural camoflague

I will replicate a couple of the boxes and place them on my Hemlingby Trail series but probably not using wood as it tends to swell and distort when exposed to weather over a long period. I have started to use marine plywood but have heard that there is some man-made decking material that is a better alternative.

The day after our stroll half of team zelger and I paid a trip to Bletchley Park, on which the film “The Imitation Game” was based.





How long to publish a cache?

14 04 2015

In order to celebrate having been a geocacher for ten years in 2013 I decided to publish two Challenge caches: “1 line D/T challenge ” and “3 line D/T challenge”. I had seen similar caches in New Zealand but nothing like them here.

However, due to the feedback from the Swedish reviewers which I guess was based on revised rules/guidelines from geocaching.com, I had to really water down the requirements and the cache that was published is in my own opinion rather trivial. In it’s original form it was much more of a challenge and worth finding. This is my cache and this is the original. See the difference!

Anyway, I placed two physical caches, one of which just sat there waiting for me to do something with it. The date it was placed you may ask? 2013-04-06! In other words over two years ago. There are’t a lot of interesting things to see at the spot it was hidden, just like so many other caches, so I guess that’s no big deal, but I wanted it to be different.

The cache, a bird box, now contains clues to three mystery caches and a fourth one will come later. Again, you won’t be enthralled, by where the caches are placed, but hopefully you will have fun finding them and if I may add, a little frustrated at times on the journey there. ;-) It only took me slightly more that two years to get them placed but I doubt if it will take that long before they are found.

This is the view you will get from the cache. You will walk this path a few times. :-)

This is the view you will get from the cache. You will walk this path a few times. :-)

I was on my way to the cache and was complaining to myself about dog owners that didn't clean up after their dogs, when the "poo" jumped away.

I was on my way to the cache and was complaining to myself about dog owners that didn’t clean up after their dogs, when the “poo” jumped away.





Pi-day

16 03 2015

Pi-day is my brother’s birthday so I never forget it. However, I nearly forgot that I could collect two souvenirs on the same day. That there was a Pi-day event was easy to spot but it wasn’t until I got there that I learnt about the Pi-day souvenir for finding a myst on the same day.

Pi Day Event Souvenir

Pi Day Event Souvenir

Pi Day Mystery Souvenir

Pi Day Mystery Souvenir

The local event  Pi som i pizzalunch was held at a food court in the centre of Gävle and was the initiative of a relatively new geocacher, Udenius. Great initiative. About 25 people turned up so it was quite a task to find a group of tables to sit at. I didn’t get the opportunity to say hi to everyone but I think we all managed to get a place and good food during the couple of hours that most of us were there. I ate a tuna salad so not a lot of “pi” in that. So here are the souvenirs. Rather stylistic and simple.

I had recently had a failed search for Madchicken’s Bearlake mystery caches that I cursed and swore about at the time – see my post Bear-lake and was now over the moon as I was able to go back today and find a couple more of the caches in order to earn my souvenir. I was still not able to solve all of the mysteries but that wasn’t a problem for today as the finds picture was a pie!

Bear Lake Pie

Bear Lake Pie

I tried hard to fish for tips on the remaining two unsolved mysteries one of which was  Bear Lake #6 – P13 – a pi-mystery of course. It was like getting blood from a stone as the CO was as tight as a mussel, just to use a couple of often used euphemisms.

Finally to round off pi-day I had a look at the new geocache GC31415 but my video skills are too poor to even think about sending in an entry. Actually, Pi-day spilled over into the Ides of March as I found a newly released cache Pi-dagen 2015 the morning after the official pi-day unlike a team who shall be nameless who logged it a year ago. :-)





Bear Lake

9 03 2015

I completed the 366 dates of the year challenge a couple of years ago but decided late last year in a moment of boredom that I could at least have two finds as a minimum on every date. If I didn’t miss any dates, even though that’s unlikely, I should be able to complete the second round on 29th February 2016, another leap year. Theoretically I should easily have been able to find a cache on the few dates each month where I have gaps but life tends to get in the way and I still have plenty of dates to work on. I started with 64 dates and have now whittled that down to twenty five.

Yesterday was one such day so I decided to look for not one cache, but seven on the mystery trail around Björsjön or in geocaching terms Bear Lake. It wasn’t a day with 13 C and sun that SMHI forecast a couple of days ago but it was around 10C and cloudy which was still quite pleasant for walking.

MadChicken placed a series of caches around the lake late last year and after solving a couple of the easy mysteries I decided that I would wait until I had solved them all before going out to the lake. Two of the caches are still on my unsolved list but I decided to go out to the lake anyway. On some days it is not possible to drive to the lake and on others it is. Today the barrier at the Järvsta end of the road was up so I drove in and parked close to the first trail head. What struck me most was that there was no snow, or very little at least, in the forest. Some short stretches of path had some ice on them where the snow had been packed by walkers but otherwise it was dry underfoot.

A snow free forest at the beginning of March

A snow free forest at the beginning of March

The first cache was Bear Lake #9 – Blues Brothers which told me I was doing the series in reverse! It was quickly located even if my GPS pointed me a little off GZ. As I approached Bear Lake #8 – Battlefield I realized why. The batteries were dying and that’s why the coords were way out. A fresh set of batteries cured that problem. I was busy changing batteries as I skirted a fallen tree so wasn’t really looking around me. I turned back after about ten meters and saw that I had walked under a fallen tree that was precariously leaning against a tree by the path. It could easily have fallen in the one of the many gusts of wind that yesterday brought with it. Beware, you who walk here in the next few days.

Don't walk under the tree!

Don’t walk under the tree!

Cache finds three and four for the day Bear Lake #7 – Picross II and Bear Lake #4 – C64 demanded a good search method as they were also not quite where my GPS was pointing, but nonetheless easy to spot when you looked in the right direction. The only hinder on the way was a bridge of sorts over a fast flowing stream that was more than half a meter deep. Luckily none of the tree trunks rotated or slipped so I got to the other side without getting wet.

Rather rickety bridge

Rather rickety bridge

This was where the fun stopped though. The remaining three caches in the series that I had solved had not been entered onto my GPS correctly which was quite evident from where the GPS was pointing me as it differed completely from what I remembered seeing on the map after I had solved the mysteries. Never mind. I enjoyed the walk which took me about an hour including the time needed to hunt for the caches and will come back here again after solving the final two mysteries. I can then log all five caches that remain.

I look forward to seeing more trails like this and of course now that more paths are open after the winter I will continue to build on my series in Hemlingby, the last one being Hemlingby Trail #13 – Child Proof





Semlor

17 02 2015

Now that I am back at work I have only had the opportunity to find a couple of local caches and on this past Monday (Feb 16) participate in a local Geocaching event. The event, hosted by Olleoljud was at Cafe Lido in Gävle and was centred around “semlor”. In it’s original version a semla is a sweet bun filled with cream and almond paste. Today, there are many variations.

Needless to say Fira Blåmåndag! was a great success and the twenty or so cachers who were there filled the cafe.

Of course, a pile of TB’s and geocoins made the rounds and I was pleased to be able to drop off the two TB’s I had carried around New Zealand for about a month. My favourite geocoin was this one.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

I think it will be my geocaching motto for the rest of the year.





Fire

4 02 2015

Not quite geocaching, but as I was relaxing on my last day in New Zealand I heard a number of helicopters overhead. It didn’t attract my interest at first as I am staying quite near to the airport.

It’s been a very hot day with really strong winds blowing in from the northwest which always increases the risk that any small fires that start become rather large very quickly.

What made me react was the smell of smoke and that got me moving.What was happening was that a large grassfire had started just a few hundred meters away and the helicopters were in action trying to put it out. They were collecting water from the minute swimming pool at Gilbertthorpe school just across the road.

Rough area of fire

Rough area of fire

Smoke from grass fire

Smoke from grass fire

Helicopter collecting water from school swimming pool

Helicopter collecting water from school swimming pool

Swimming pool that helicopters collected water from

Swimming pool that helicopters collected water from

Apparently 2 homes were burnt down and 100 homes evacuated. Now at 16:30 local NZ time all seems to be under control.





West coast

1 02 2015

Again it was time to get hold of a relocation rental car deal. I had thought about taking the bus to Queenstown and then getting a car back as that is the direction in which they are available. It was not to be this time though. When I looked at the beginning of January there were cars available every day. When I looked again in the third week in January there was nothing available until mid February! That gave me the choice of Greymouth or Nelson and as I had just been up to Nelson I chose Greymouth. When I left Christchurch it was raining, which for this years vacation was the first day I had encountered it. However, the three kilometer walk to the airport where I picked up the little Toyota Yaris soaked me through to the skin and wet all my clothes in my rucksack. Once I was about 20km to the west of Christchurch the rain stopped abruptly and the sun came out. The temperature as I approached the west coast soared to around 30C and all my stuff that was spread out on the back seat of the car quickly dried off.

On the way out of Christchurch I drove along the Old West Coast Road in order to pick up the eight monthly spelling challenge caches that I qualified for, the first one being January Spelling Challenge. I remember well the first time I found a cache along that road. It was Moneydork’s Yellow Submarine, the first submersed cache I found, and yes it was yellow. The year was 2007.

One of the attractions of the west coast from a geocaching perspective is a fairly new power trail with the title (first cache in the series) Know When to Hold ‘Em ( – 2 of Hearts). It was a series of 52 traditionals and four mysteries, one for each suite of cards. I had worked out that the caches would be on the left side of the road in the direction of travel which meant that I would have to go round the car each time. I decided to start from the far end which meant that the caches were on the drivers side albeit across the road. It worked out fine although six of the caches had gone AWOL so I didn’t bother doing the mysteries as they were dependent on picking up clues amongst the tradional caches. The 32 km trail took med 5 ½ hours which was plenty enough for me.

Know When to Hold 'Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(

Seen on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

Seen on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

I followed the Grey River down to the Brunner mine where I stopped to do the earthache Brunner’s Black Gold. It was fascinating to think that the coal mine was so large in it’s heyday. Very little remains 120 years on but it’s worth remembering what it had done for the area.

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Even Greymouth itself is presumably a shadow of it’s former self. The stop banks are witness to the flooding of recent years but no more large ships find their way to the quays and coal is taken by train to Lyttelton. I looked at the remains of the old railway bridge and wondered how it had managed to stay in place for so long. It didn’t look at all safe.

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Greymouth harbour inactivity - remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour inactivity – remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour activity

Greymouth harbour activity


The day after the power trail I felt more in need of a walk so after dropping off the Yaris at the Station/i-Site/car rental company I walked west out of Greymouth centre picking up caches on the way.

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

The colorful West Coast Watsonia - a kind of iris that is bountiful here

The colorful West Coast Watsonia – a kind of iris that is bountiful here

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

Gold mining in the 1800's

Gold mining in the 1800’s

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

As I was waiting for the bus the Trans Alpine Express train came into the station and I regretted not looking more into the cost for returning to Christchurch by train instead of the bus. Now afterwards I see that the train costs 199 NZD as opposed to the bus’ cost of 52 NZD so I made the right choice.

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station








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