BBC, JJEF and FF40

24 04 2017

Once my trip to the Isle of Man and England was known to zelger, he suggested an outing close to his home with a group that he is involved in: WKMU3A. U3A is the abbreviation for University of the third age and is for active people who have retired. WKM is for Wokingham where most live. I am still working but my younger brother and his wife who form “zelger” are both retired. Go figure.

I was given a list of potential walking loops of about 5 km that ended at suitable eating and drinking establishements. One that caught my eye was north of Reading and was a series of 40 mystery caches. I looked at them and found about half to be doable. The rest I just gave up on. That meant I had a list of around twenty caches in nice woodland. However, mysteries are not something that zelger or the WKMU3A group are keen on so the idea was parked.

We arrived at Gatwick after an uneventful flight from Ronaldsway airport on the Isle of Man and took the direct train from Gatwick to Wokingham. It’s very convenient as it completely misses out on having to go into London. zelger had some things to sort out in the afternoon so he sent me off out on the BBC trail. Now, for me BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation, but in this case it meant Binfield Bridal Bicycle Circuit and consisted of a mixture of twenty six traditional, mystery and letterbox hybrid caches. zelger thought it was too complicated for them so they had parked it. I thought it was great fun. In the first two caches BBC#1 and #2 were laminated cards that gave the coordinates of BBC#3 and #4 which were mystery caches. Got it? All along the trail new coordinates were given so you are forced to follow the series in numerical order.

Spring had really arrived and it was great walking along the country lanes and bridal paths that the caches were placed along.

Country lane on BBC trail

I managed to get to BBC#8 which was a letterbox/hybrid cache before my time was up and I had to meet up with my brother again for the evening activities. In the middle of the trail were a couple of JJEF caches, The ATM cache and Bobbing Pot. Our plan for the following day was that with zelger and WKMU3A we would attempt a series of JJEF caches in the morning ending with lunch and that zelger (both members of the team) and I would do a further series in the afternoon.

We met up with three of the potential fourteen members of WKMU3A (not counting zelger who are also members) and started off for Rampant Rhododendron. When we got to GZ it looked as though a tornado had passed through the forest. Not a rhododendron in sight!

Now where is that rhododendron?

We had better luck at Opposites Attract which Bernie was keen to find.

Bernie – Gone fishing

From there we moved on to The Green Hill No. 2 which was a block of wood hung up in a tree with a cable lock on it. There were letters carved on the wood that translated into the code for the lock. The look on everyones faces when they cracked the number at the first attempt was priceless.

Neat construction

The Green Hill No. 3 was equally well constructed. This was a wooden box with a similar kind of lock and a block of wood with numbers on it. It was necessary to divide a huge number with a smaller number to get the code for the lock. I was just pulling up my smartphone in order to work out the answer when one of the U3A team whisked up a calculator out of their bag. A calculator! I haven’t seen one for years!

Locked box

Still dazed by the sight of the calculator we moved on to the remaining caches in the series and The Green Hill No. 4 was even better than the previous three caches that we had found. A padlocked birdbox hanging in a tree had a nearby plastic tube containing the key. I won’t spoil the game by telling you how to get hold of the key but everyone was really wound up by the caches we had found. This was much better than a film canister in an ivy covered tree.

Cache hanging upper right, lock lower centre

We carried on and found a couple more caches by the same owner and DNF’d two more. Can you spot the last cache the group found?

Can you see the cache?

There was a lot of talk over lunch about the experience from the morning and how much fun it had been. So, after lunch both halves of zelger and I set off on the six caches that comrpised the Fifield Frolic series. The trail passed along open and not so open paths in the area. Again, there were no two caches that looked or functioned in same way and all were well made. They were placed four years ago and a lot of growth of the vegetation had occured making some of them a little more well hidden than they would have been when placed.

Overgrown paths

After a full day of JJEF caches we had a quiet evening and spent the Friday morning sorting out the TB’s and geocoins we had found before moving off north towards Sonning Common and FamousEccles Favourite Forty mystery caches!

Typical FF40 beechwood cache

The puzzles I could solve were fun and the caches were located in a beech forest which luckily was still in it’s winter overcoat with little undergrowth. It will be a different story in a few weeks time. As we followed the paths an animal jumped across the path ahead of us. Was it a deer? Or a dog? It ran over to another of it’s kind and I learnt then that it was a muntjac. It’s an Indian deer that is proliferating at a great rate in England and is now quite a pest. I took a photo but it’s not worth publishing.

We also saw other wild animals including this golden pheasant and a rabbit. They didn’t seem to mind each others company.

Golden Pheasant and rabbit

So the day ended with a visit to my brothers daughter and grandson on the way to catching a train to Heathrow and the flight home. The following days were spent logging over a hundred caches and a dozen or more TB’s plus updating my blog. Phew!

END

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