WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018

2 11 2018

Last year I participated in my first Mega event which was Mega Sweden FAD 2017 as it ws not too far away from home. As I still had some frequent flyer miles to use I decided to visit WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018 as it was conveniently located less than an hours drive away from one of my brothers, and more relevantly the one that geocaches. He is half of ”zelger” and they had never participated in a mega and when I told them about my positive experience at FAD they were in.

I am not a keen myst solver and neither are they, however, we scratched our heads on the Friday evening and solved a handful of mysts. There was some lively discussion about how a myst can be listed as a letterbox/hybrid cache and even if we agreed it was stupid to give them that classification just because the CO stuck a stamp in the cache container of what is clearly a myst. It should be classed as a myst. Yes, I have read the geocaching guidelines, but I don’t need to like them. Rant over.

We started our journey mid morning and as always in England there is heavy traffic on most roads. When we got to Berkhamsted a closed road got us stuck in long queues. We finally made it and found a good spot to park on the road that passed by the night cache hub near Ringshall. Our reasoning was that there was probably going to be less traffic leaving from there than the main road in to the event site.

Even though there is no ”Allemansrätt” (free right of way) in England the woods were open for all to use and even though there are many paths we needed to leave them from time to time. As we meandered towards the event location we logged a few of the handful of mysts/letterbox hybrids we had solved including Hotter/Colder – WG2018: “Ice Cold in Ashridge!“and some of the Big G mysts such as Big G: Hanjie

Ashridge is a National Trust site where the Bridgewater Monument can be found. The main estate is popular for walking free in a forest which is not so easily done in England.

Bridgewater Monument

As we approached the event location we wondered if everything had been called off. There was a small party tent with no walls for registering at the event and for TB and geocoin exchange. There was no-one looking after that so if you were interested in trackables you just had to hang around and assume that everything there was dropped. When we were there, I was able to find nine trackables. I’m sure that if I had hung around more would have turned up. There was a stall selling a wide array of geocaching goodies and JJEF demonstrating his gadget caches of which I have found quite a few on earlier visits to England. We had a good chat.

JJEF caches

Otherwise, there were just a couple more stalls and a couple of lab caches that we didn’t bother with. We could log one lab cache and that was by pure luck. As we walked towards the event we met a guy in a green sweatshirt with a word printed on the front of it. We had no idea it was Simply Paul the main organiser. We then found that a lab cache consisted of finding Simply Paul and using the word on his sweatshirt as the key to the lab cache. Easy, peasy as a famous TV chef would say.

Not hugely impressed, we headed off to find Read The Flippin’… Yada Yada: WinterGeolympix’18. We couldn’t have missed it if we tried.

A “Large” cache

Our path then took us towards Tim & Jon’s 1st Re-Stashed (UK’s 3rd oldest/Eng#2) via The Mossy Tree which was house in an ammo can, a not too common site these days.

The Mossy Tree: Join the queue to log it.

A few years ago half of zelger and I had been in the area to find Coombe Hill, which is the oldest cache in England together with a very interesting visit to Bletchley Park, so it was great to now find England’s 2nd oldest cache.

I’m used to wandering around Sweden’s evergreen forests so it was quite a change to be walking through a forest of deciduous trees. Many of them were sweet chestnuts and there were a few people out picking them up from the ground. Roast sweet chestnuts are a delicacy.

We wandered back to the cafe and joind a long queue to get a cup of tea. The coffee was terrible by all accounts. We also took the opportunity to find a letterbox/hybrid cache Rescue This & Save the World! Winter Geolympix ’18 located indoors where we probably spent more time logging the find than was needed, but it was much warmer than outdoors.

A letterbox/hybrid in a warm location

Of course, we arrived on a dry day that gradually changed for the worse. After early afternoon drizzle we were treated to rain most of the afternoon that got heavier as dusk fell. We found our favourite cache of the day TrOll FREE in the dark as the rain turned to sleet. We headed back towards the car arriving there at 18:30 where we decided that another bunch of night caches probably wasn’t our ”cup of tea” so we left and headed back to zelgers home for a meal and a beer.

Will I visit again if the Mega is repeated? I suspect not and it had nothing to do with the weather, just that the set-up mostly based on mysts was not to my liking.

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Sandhurst

1 11 2018

After our pleasant family day out in London I spent part of Thursday on my own as the others had to work. I took a local train to Sandhurst which lies about 50 km to the west-south-west of London city. From the station I made an anti-clockwise circuit around the Yately Lake fishing ponds and the nearby Swan Lake Park.

Sandhurst circuit around the ponds

The pleasant walk of about 5km took me to 15 caches of which 12 were placed by the same cacher, VR7. They all had a consistent theme and that was wood. Most were gadget caches or camoflaged in some way, so it certainly made a pleasant change to the PET-preforms that are now so ubiquitous. There were a number of fishermen in the area but it seems that they know that there are caches along the paths so they are used to people ”foraging” in the bushes.

At BRPW No 3 I made my 7000th find. The cache was a birdbox with a simple mechanism to release the container but it was a little different. I wondered what BRPW meant and it stands for Blackwater River Path Walk, so now you know too.

My 7000th find!

The next cache along, BRPW No 2, was also a birdbox and of course had a different mechanism.

A well constructed birdbox.

The only cache that gave me some head scratching was Under wood. If I had read the clue I would have known where to look and the small log would have been an obvious cache container. I won’t spoil all the caches by showing photos of them so that means I won’t say which cache this sneaky little hide was found at.

A sneaky litte hide barely visible where it was placed.

Needless to say all the caches were in good condition and it was a good warm up for Geolympix on the Saturday.





Clerkenwell London EC1

31 10 2018

My last visit to England was in April but I had no opportunities for geocaching. This visit was made in order to participate in GC75FTF WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018. As it is about an hours drive from where my brother lives it was a great opportunity to catch up with family and make a couple of small geocaching outings.

On Wednesday both my brothers, one with his wife and one of the daughters in tow descended on Kings Cross station for a wander around the nearby area of Clerkenwell using the CAMRA Guide to real ale pubs in London as our starting point.

As we were starting our wander at Kings Cross Station it was only natural that we should visit Platform 9 ¾. There was a long queue of Harry Potter fans waiting to have their photos taken with wand in hand. I sidestepped the queue and took my selfie from the side then moved on.

Platform 9 3/4

From here we walked north to the Regent Canal and the new gasholder apartments that have been built. The whole area was industrial wasteland for a long time but is now a super trendy and extremely expensive place to live. A penthouse apartment was on the market for £7 million!

A lock on Regent Canal


Expensive gasholder apartments

We followed the canal eastwards aiming for the first pub on our list. Along the canal bank we found Narrow Minded which both zelger (my brother and wife geocaching team) and I gave favourite points to due to it’s construction and placement. I won’t post a spolier photo.

After finding the cache GC3Y2QD Calthorpe at the gates of a small park we wandered on to the next corner and the Calthorpe Arms. Lunch was great value in this pub as was the quality of the beer.

Calthorpe Arms

From there we passed through a couple more pubs where real ale was served before walking down the pleasant street Exmoouth Market with small ethnic shops, stalls and cafes arriving via a short stop at the Exmouth Arms, at Bone House in Spa Field Park just as a police drugs bust was going on.

As zelger really enjoy multis we decided to try The Smoothe Field Mystery and spent an hour or so visiting 7 waypoints before arriving at the cache. As we were also sightseeing it was a great way to see parts of Clerkenwell that we would otherwise have missed.

For example, at step 4 we found this bed of nails and behind it a colourful wall mural. The spike were painless according to my youngest brother who tried it out.

Resting on a bed of nails

Decorative ironwork at Smithfield Market

An alien in London

Another alien in London

I found the alien mosaics fascinating and it seems that they are a very common sight in Paris but can be found all over the world. I recall seeing one on an earlier occasion but don’t remember where.

Near to the starting spot for the multi was a virtual from 2001 that we just had to visit. A Meating place for Martyrs. Yes, the spelling is correct as it is close to the Smithfield meat market.

We were now happy with our day in London and headed for the nearby Farringdon tube station to start our journey back out of London.





Pompeii

11 06 2018

A visit to central Italy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Pompeii so on Wednesday we duly set off on the journey there. Firstly we took the Metro to the main Termini railway station in Rome then an Intercity train to Naples.

Intercity to Neaples

It took about 2 hours, so twice the time the high speed train takes but at about 65% of the price. Between Naples and Pompeii we took a local train. It all looked very easy when I read about it on the Man in Seat 61 site and basically is was. The Circumversuviana trains are small EMU’s that are completely graffiti covered and very basic. There were 21 stops on the 35 minute trip and I stood all the way in sweltering heat on a packed train. It was great to get off and have a cold beer before entering the ruins at Pompeii.

It was suggested that we pay €12 for a guide on top of the €15 entrance fee but we were happy to wander around on our own looking at the ruins and building our own impression of what it looked like 2000 years ago.

The first view of Pompeii

Pompeii square

Dog preserved in ashes

The visit was primarily of general interest but of course I had to find a couple of caches while we were there. It was no surprise that there was an earthcache on the site Mt.Vesuvius- Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii earthcache

but I was reaslly pleased to find a regular size traditional hidden by the theatre. What’s on stage today at the Theater of Pompeii?

Cache found at theatre in Pompeii

The local train back to Naples wasn’t quite as full as on the journey out and it didn’t stop at all stations so we were quickly back in Naples. We then had a dilemma. Should we spend some time there, including dinner, then take a train back to Rome or take the train back to Rome in time for dinner there. As mentioned there are different classes of trains running between Rome and Naples. High speed – 1 hour and €46, Intercity – 2 hours and €27 or local – 3 hours and €14. Because of the time of day and availability of trains in the coming few hours we decided to splash out and take the high speed train so we would have time for dinner in Rome. The onboard screen indicated we were travelling at speeds up to 280 kph. Not quite at the Shinkansen speeds but OK.





Rome

11 06 2018

My business travel dried up in 2011 as a result of a change in my work assignment and as a result I have not collected many frequent flier miles since then and those I have were about to expire. As a result I booked a couple of tickets to Rome as my partner has never been there but it was on her wish list. A quick check tells me I have visited Italy nearly forty times on business but never on holiday so I was also pleased to be able to do some sightseeing in the capital city.

I would have been happier to have been able to go there a little earlier in the year before the tourists arrive but we had used that time slot (end of April) to visit England with friends. Not only were we in tourist season but it was an unseasonably hot period both at home and in Rome. We had temperatures between 27 and 31 C every day and the evenings were around 18-24 C. Fantastic!

I was also looking forward to the trip as my goal was to find at least one cache in Italy and one in the Vatican State, both of which were new geocaching countries for me. I didn’t really know what urban caching in Italy would be like so my first precedent was to look for earthcaches as there were quite a few in the city.

We were staying in the north of the city about twenty minutes walk from the Vatican but as our first full day in Rome was a Sunday we decided it was not a good day to visit the Vatican. We turned east instead and walked through the Borghese park then south to the Spanish steps and back over the river by San Angelos castle. That is where my first find was made. GC6ZE8T Ricixxx-Ponte Umberto I. As expected for an urban cache it was a micro, but none the less it was hidden out of sight from muggles but in an obvious place for a geocacher. Nice.

Castell San’Angelo

We made our way to the Vatican State on Monday and this is where I was pleasantly surprised to see that there would be an event there in the afternoon as a complement to the two earthcaches in St. Peters Square. As you can see from the logs (GC7PC5Y The innocent have nothing to fear!) we were three cachers there, Freddo the organiser, Papa_Francis_I and myself.

The earthcaches were typical for Rome and focus was on granite and travertine. Many of the buildings are built from the light cream coloured travertine. The two earthcaches were GC487RN AGT 40: VATICAN OBELISK and GC71Q8V Travertino di Piazza San Pietro.

St Peter’s Obelisk earthcache

A cache just outside St. Peter’s square was well constructed, so a muggle wouldn’t suspect anything, yet was in Italy not the Vatican State. Well, at least I got three smilies from my visit to one of the religious capitols of the world!

Bolt cache just outside St. Peter’s square

The day was rounded off with a further two earthcaches.

GC71RGF Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and GC65JY4 Ricixxx- Obelisco Flaminio

Quatrro Fiumi earthcache

During the week I found one more earthcache, this time not at a granite obelisk but at a marble column! GC71WT8 Colonna di Marco Aurelio

Marco Aurelia column earthcache

A further three traditional urban caches were found. The picture below shows one of them.

Urban rock microcache

Even though the main reason for the week in Italy was vacation I was pleased to find a few caches.

Forum Romana

Colosseum

Since getting back to Sweden my geocaching activity has reverted to zero with the exception of some cache maintenance.





Southwest England

6 06 2018

Why no posts for a while? Blame it on Apple. I haven’t fathomed out how to convert the new photo format in IOS 11 that I have been using until now! I have changed the settings so photos are saved in jpg format for future use.

A week’s holiday in the south of England at the end of April with three muggles! Would geocaching be at all possible?

The answer to that is ”not really.” I am not complaining about the company, we had a great time and I managed to sneak in a number of virtuals that they didn’t even realise were geocaches. Hunting and finding two trads was tolerated but only just.

So where were the virtuals? We arrived at Gatwick just after lunch on Wednesday afternoon where we picked up a rental car. The car class said Citroen C4 so I was wondering if we and our luggage would fit in. Luckily we were upgraded to a Mercedes C200 which was a great improvement. We stopped for a late lunch in Herford where I made sure we visited the cathedral where we examined Luminous Motion even sending a text message to change the colour of the sculpture. It worked!

Luminous Motion virtual

From there we continued on to where we were staying in Salisbury but saved the next virtuals until the day after. Here I have to write what we all know as geocachers. ”I wouldn’t have found this place unless I had been geocaching”. We had Stonehenge on the agenda but I found a virtual at Woodhenge so drove my friends there first and said it was to build up the excitement of seeing Stonehenge.

ds8300 at Woodhenge virtual

They were not that impressed by Woodhenge (as I rightly guessed) but they really appreciated Stonehenge which of course as well as being a mega tourist attraction in it’s own right has a virtaul there too! Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Naturally a visit to Salisbury Cathedral to see the Magna Carter was on the agenda so we also posed in front of Salisbury Cathedral Revisited (Wilts), my friends not being any the wiser!

ds8300 at Salisbury virtual

A couple of main attractions on our agenda were The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan but unfortunately they didn’t give me any opportunities to hunt for caches.

Eden Project domes

Eden Project sculpture

Rhododenrons at Heligan

A couple of days later we were in Marazion with the intention of visiting St Michaels Mount. I just couldn’t resist grabbing Fordh Sen Myghal 93 which was conveniently placed right next to the path we were on.

Causeway to St. Michaels Mount

We also visited the northern coast of Cornwall including St. Ives and Tintagel.

St. Ives

Tintagel’s rugged coastline

Several other places were visited bu no more caches came across my path until we reached Bath. I wasn’t too unhappy though as I was able to play Ingress everywhere we went and found a handful of Munzees as well. In Bath I had to rest on a park bench and a micro just happened to appear in my hand Royal Crescent (Bath, NE Somerset). That made a nice addition to the virtual The First King of England (Bath).

ds8300 at Bath virtual


Georgian crescent in Bath

Lessons learned? Geocaching and muggle friends may mor may not be compatible. In this case it was dubious. Never mind, a new trip is looming up and if all goes well it will give me two new countries where I have found caches, bring the total up to 48. Then as soon as that is done I have to start planning for getting to fifty countries with found caches!





Geraldine Mountain Bike Trail (G.M.T.B trail)

25 01 2018

Walking 15-16 km in the heat was Ok but I was still kicking myself for not having my helmet with me so I could bike the trail. For the next trail close to Geraldine (starting with Hangmans Row) on the extended G.M.T.B. trail I was geared up correctly. Nice eh?

Ready for action!

I looked for somewhere to stay in Geraldine but most places were quite expensive so I decided that the airbnb place in Methven at 250 SEK/night would be ideal. It was a drive of about 40 minutes from where I was staying so no big hassle. The place I stayed at in Methven was great. The family I stayed with were really hospitable and a cooked breakfast in the mornings was the dot over the “i”!

I stopped in Mayfield to put petrol in the car and just had to take a photo of the local “antique” shop. It was an unbelievable sight.

Mayfield antiques.

Once at the Orari River Bridge, I pulled the bike out of the car boot and set off. Again the majority of the containers were micros. In this case the CO had taken two PET bottle necks and caps and glued them together. The solution was not ideal and a fair number of logbooks were wet on a scale from damp to mush. I logged the condition of the logbook on each cache so that the CO could do some maintenance where needed. My favourite cache along the trail was a “Small” and the clue “91” had me wondering until I found the cache location then it became obvious.

The cache is there somewhere.

Now I know what the hint “91” meant.

Before I set off I had looked at Google Maps, thinking that I could start at the top of the trail and bike south. It wasn’t quite the case. Despite Google wanting me to believe it there is no bridge across the Orari River at Orari Gorge.

Orari Gorge according to Google.

Orari Gorge according ESRI..

Orari Gorge in real life.

After doing the northern end of the trail I visited Geraldine for some food and some Ingressing before returning to Methven via Hinds, Tinwall and Ashburton where I also had Ingress on the agenda. Why no geocaching you may ask? Well, I have found most of the caches of interest in those places. Today, as everywhere, the caches are mostly micros in boring places. I had intended to do the geotrail in Ashburton but decided against it. The only cache I stopped for was at the 44 degrees South sign.

44 degrees South at Hinds.

I had a pleasant evening in Methven and on Sunday (21/1) I started off my geocaching day with Buildings of The Past#9 The Pipe Shed. There is an interesting story attached to this cache that made it worthwhile hunting for it.

Pipe shed in Methven

Once again at Orari Bridge I started off along the western bank of the river on the south leg of the G.M.T.B trail at G.M.B.T #16 – stockbank. All was progressing well until I got as far as G.M.B.T # 30 – Out of the woods where the trail was closed by the farmer who owned the land due to harvesting. Luckily there was a loop on the trail so I could grab a further handful of caches on my way back to the car at Orari Bridge.

The G.M.T.B series of caches.

There was a further series of cache on the eastern side of the river but as I anticipated that it would be just more of the same I decided not to bother and decided to drive down to Timaru on the coast. Again, it’s a place where I have found a number of caches so Ingress was in focus this time.








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