Archive for November, 2008

A trip to Ikea?

Mrs Bolas Heathens wanted to go to Ikea this morning. I was not keen as I hate the place but we struck a deal – we’d find a few caches on the way!

We opted to look for the new “CAMO” caches near Essington and all were nice easy finds with the exception of one, which turned out to be hidden in undergrowth. Not a normal way of hiding a cache as it tends to result in the area getting bushwacked by cachers. We gave up on it and then spotted something on the logs at the next cache, which gave us the hint we needed. We returned for a quick find.

Then, it was off for one final cache before arriving at Ikea. Another nice easy one that we’ve been meaning to find for ages. An interesting spot for a cache too – an old graveyard resulting from a cholera outbreak in the 1800’s.

Now for the boring part – the trek round Ikea :-(.

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Yesterday was my birthday and we were due round at the in-laws with the children for a lovely birthday tea. As I was driving over (the children had gone ahead with Sarah), I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to do a cache on my birthday, but that there were none anywhere around that we had not already found.

Later on, we’d just finished the meal and I had a quick check of my emails. Unbelievably, there was a new cache not 2 miles from the in-laws house and it had literally just been published. We finished up and said our goodbye’s before I headed off to find the new cache while Sarah and the kids went home.

I was soon as GZ and got out the torch for the quick walk over the churchyard to GZ. The cache was an easy find and I was delighted to find I was FTF! What a birthday present.

On the way back to the Jeep, I checked the iPhone and could not believe it when I spotted another new cache, right on my way home from the first one.

A short drive later and I was at GZ for the second one. This one took a bit more finding as the co-ords were 275 feet off, but the hint was clear and I only had two candidates to check. I found the cache in the first one I looked at – wooohoooo – two FTF’s on my birthday.

Now to go home and relax in front of a log fire to watch Spooks – perfect :-).

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Middlewood Circular Trail

The Middlewood Circular series of caches was our target for this weekend. The series follows an old railway line (now a walking path) from Marple down to Macclesfield and then back to Marple along the Macclesfield canal.

The cache owner has split it up into three chunks to make it more manageable and only parts 1 and 2 have been published so far. This takes you as far south as Bollington, which is still a substantial walk.

We opted to use our bikes as the old railway path looked to be good and the towpath on the way back would be ok for us. I’m not sure of our total mileage but it will probably be around 13-15 miles.

On the way to the start we picked up the replacement cache at Tesco’s in Stockport. A *much* better placement than it’s predecessor, which was just chucked in the undergrowth.

It was only about 3 degrees so we put hats, gloves, fleeces and coats on and set off. All the caches were easy finds, with a nice variety of sizes and hide styles.

We struggled with one called Wood End, which already had a DNF on (it looks to have been muggled by some wildlife before FTF) and then one called Iron Bridge on the way back up the canal. You guessed it, it was a micro hidden magnetically on a big metal bridge. Tons of places it could be. We looked all over and could not see it.

By the time we’d finished the series it was part way through going dark so we cycled back to the starting point for a nice cup of warming soup from our flask.

Just time to get the other two nearby caches, which could be done as cache and dashes.

On the way back to the M6 and home, I could not resist a quick diversion to find a nano this side of Knutsford. I wanted to get the nearby new Pieman one as it had to be found by tomorrow but Isaac was insistent he wanted to get home in time for Merlin on the TV, so that one will have to wait for another day.

A fab day out with a lot of cycling in some lovely countryside and virtually no mud all the way round, which is good for this time of year.

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Groundspeak renewal due

We’ve just had the annual email saying our Groundspeak subscription is due to expire next month. We’ve got it set to auto-renew and wish they would say this in the email as it’s a bit convoluted going to the site and trying to work out if this is set or not.

Will we renew? Of course we will. It’s a total no-brainer. $30 for a full year of access to something absolutely vital to our hobby. A total bargain as it’s easily worth several times that amount!

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We had to take Isaac to Stafford for an interview at the Grammar School as part of his 11-Plus this morning, so took the chance to find the two new caches in Stafford. These have been our closest to home Not Found’s ever since they came out.

The first was a replacement cache in the Retirement Plan series, which we finished ages ago. This cache is themed around B&Q (it’s called “Orange Wednesday’s”) and B&Q moved to a new site in Stafford a while ago, so the cache had to be moved. We were supposed to go to two earlier caches in the series to get the co-ords for the new cache, but the cache owner’s kindly provided us with the details needed so we were saved the extra leg-work.

The second cache was a really easy cache and dash on Doxey Marshes, not too far from the M6. A lovely area for walking and absolutely tons of wildlife around the Nature Reserve. I spotted the hide as I walked up and went in for an instant find. Pity the cache was only on the edges of the Nature Reserve and not further in, but I guess permission issues dictated it’s placement.

All too soon we were on the road home and the day’s work that was awaiting me.

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What a co-incidence!

We were taking Isaac and a friend to see the new James Bond film in Shrewsbury this afternoon and arrived a few minutes early so thought we’d fill up with diesel at the Asda just down the road from the cinema.

I’d just started to fill up when the guy filling up the other side of the petrol pump said “Hello John”. It was Ben – thefortytwa on geocaching.com. What a total co-incidence as I’d only been thinking the other day that it was a while since we’d seen any logs from them.

We had a quick geo-chat while we were both filling up our cars before going on our way.

Hope you get chance to do some more caching soon Ben – and maybe hide some more caches as we really enjoyed your last ones.

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Isaac was sitting his 11-Plus at Stafford Grammar School this morning so I was caching on my own today. I dropped him off in Stafford at the school, wished him luck and then set off down the M6 to start off with the new M6 Toll caches.

The first cache was one of snerdbe’s and the container was one originally from our own Cache Dispenser cache, which they had re-used after archiving the initial cache it had been used for. The M6 Toll caches are *always* hidden in the same style but this one was nowhere to be seen. I phoned Des up and he confirmed where it should be. Looks to be muggled. Not a good start with a DNF on my first cache of the day.

It got better from there as I found the next one, but the third cache was also muggled. Hmmm! My luck changed from the better from there and I found all the other caches I was looking for.

I was soon as the start of a new series of caches and parked up in a village called Hints near Tamworth – how very appropriate! I set off on foot for a beautiful circular walk in lovely rolling countryside (definitely our kind of caching). Just over half way round I bumped into Des and Bren (snerdbe), who were doing the series the opposite way round. Great to meet you both again. Some fab hides on this series too – well recommended if anyone is in the area.

Next, it was off for the 5 new Drayton canal caches. Lots of Lollybob style hides which were fun. I enjoyed the ride down the towpath finding them all.

I then set off to clear a few other ones nearby before stopping for some lunch.

Next it was over towards Sutton Coldfield to clear up a DNF on a Sidetracked cache (it had been muggled) before heading off towards the junction of the M5 and M6 and the Rushall Junction series.

I’d never been to this area of Brum and was pleasantly surprised as it’s very nice – it always looks so run down and industrial from the motorway as you go past, but don’t be fooled. I opted to cycle round these ones as it’s on NCR5 so the paths should be reasonable.

All nice quick finds apart from the last one where the co-ords were way out and pointing to the wrong side of the path. A quick PAF soon had me sorted though. I then carried on up the canal to another cache, which was not a great one – REALLY overgrown, with brambles and dead trees lying all over the place. The co-ords were pants too, so it took a good while to find the cache.

It was just going dark, but I just about had time for the 3 caches in Merrion Wood as we’ve been eyeing these for a while. What a beautiful spot – a really well kept nature reserve with tons of wildlife to see as you walk along.

After that, it was back to the nearby M6 junction and homewards. Isaac had told me earlier that the exam went well and we found out the results a few days later – he’d passed with flying colours and has been offered a place at the school – we’re *very* proud of him.

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Frustrated geocacher!

On Thursday, we had to go to my Uncle George’s funeral in Grappenhall, near Warrington.

As you do, I’d checked which caches we have not found nearby and downloaded them to the Oregon. I did not know if we’d have time to find any of them but you never know…

By the time we got there, we had to go straight to the church so as not to be late. I knew there was a cache by the canal on the road into the village and sure enough, we drove past it on the way. I resisted stopping to find it as being late for funeral’s is not nice.

After the funeral, we headed off in the funeral procession to the crematorium at Walton. We passed the cache again – I could literally see where it was likely to be as we drove past.

As we approached the crem, I could also see where one of the Walton towpath caches we needed to find was, but did not have time to stop for that either. Hmmmm…

After the crem, we headed off for the do at a pub near Grappenhall and you guessed it, we passed the cache again, but did not have time to stop.

After the do, there was absolutely no way we were going home without finding the cache as it had frustrated me all day. Thankfully it was an easy find and we were soon on our way, very happy to have found it.

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On Saturday we fancied another good long walk and the chance to go for two circular walks near to each other, whilst also finally bagging the LQ West Midlands cache was too good to resist.

After a quick drive to the cache area via the M6 Toll we arrived at the first cache of the day. This was a dead easy drive-by with the trickiest thing being finding somewhere to ark the Jeep. We then found LQ West Midlands (now a normal lock ‘n’ lock box but the original was more elaborate – we still don’t know what it was and are very curious).

Next on the list was the Middle England series, near Meriden, the rumoured centre of England. The first one was missing but we’d emailed the cache owners during the week to check if it contained details we needed for the bonus cache. As part of this we offered to pop a new micro in for the cache, to save the cache owner a trip out.

The walk round the caches was really lovely, with lots of great views and a variety of terrain. We stopped to eat our soup and sandwiches about half way round, with some great views over an old quarry area. All too soon we were back at the Jeep and on our way to the next area.

On the way to the Webbie Womble series, we stopped to find a Wykenwizard cache – Wot No Mud. This was down an old road that is now blocked off and used as a bridleway. We don’t usually do multi’s when away from home and did not realise this was a multi-puzzle cache until we arrived at the first stage. Not to worry as the final cache was only about 500ft further on so no hassle at all.

We then parked in a familiar spot in Hampton on Arden (we’d parked here ages ago to do a few now archived caches) and set off for the Webbie Womble. Another really nice circular walk although very muddy in parts. We just found the bonus cache in the last remains of daylight but still fancied a few more caches before giving up for the day.

A quick check of Memory Map revealed 5 easy drive-by / cache and dashes not too far away so we set off to find them. All were found with no problems and the last put us handily right by a junction for the M42 and the journey home.

Tonight was the cubs bonfire and fireworks at the Newport Showgrounds so we headed off to the in-laws in Blymhill for some tea, before going to meet Mrs Bolas Heathens and Freya for the fireworks.

Yet another fab day caching. We absolutely love the circular walks with lots of caches to find on the way.

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We had another great day’s caching on Saturday. This week we fancied a good long walk in the countryside so the area just south of Birmingham, near Redditch stood out as there are several new trails to get our teeth into.

We started the day with some “What’s Wrong With Bromsgrove” caches – two dead easy drive-by’s which were at places the cache setter liked when they were a child.

We moved over to do a short trail of 5 caches not too far away. A great walk – we particularly enjoyed the cache by the ford and just had to drive the Jeep through the ford later on :-). Unfortunately we had yet another run in with a NIMBY who did not like us parking on a quiet lane. I should be starting to get paranoid about my parking by now as this is the third run in we’ve had in as many weeks! Each time we have parked really considerately and left tons of space for farm machinery to get past. I guess some people just don’t like their lanes being used.

A short drive through Redditch later (how the heck do you get on the dual carriageway that runs West / East through the town?) and we were at the Webbie Walkabout caches. This is a set of 10 or so caches on a circular walk in lovely countryside, just how we like them. We loved the walk and the changing scenery – our only complaint would be that all the caches were micros :-(. At least the bonus cache was a Small, which was good.

Then it was on to the final feature of the day – the Oversley Trail near Alcester. On the way we spotted a Sidetracked cache by the road in Wootten Wawen so stopped to find it (and how do you say Wootten Wawen without sounding like Jonathan Ross??).

Before we set off, we sat down on a handy bench near the first in the series to have our soup and sandwiches. We’d decided to use the bikes for this series as it looked bike-able on Google Earth and Isaac has been told by the Doctor not to do too much walking, while the tendons in his ankle heal.

All started well, apart from me not paying attention and riding right into a bush on the narrow path – ouch! We continued up the side of the beautiful woods, finding the caches as we passed them. It was then that we realised the clocks had gone back last weekend and it was going dark – and more importantly, we’d left the torches in the Jeep – doh!

We ended up doing the rest of the series in the dark, with the light of the PDA to help. We must have been up to date on our carrot’s as once your eyes got adjusted to things we could see really well. After doing the bonus cache, we bumped into the cache owner himself, who had come out to say hello as we’d spoken to him as a PAF earlier. Great to meet you again Mark :-).

On the way back up to the M42 and onwards to home, we spotted another cache as we drove by, so stopped to find it.

A great day out in some beautiful countryside.

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