Archive for the ‘Caching’ Category

Pictures

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

M’colleague Bellend has been complaining that there’s been no bloggy goodness for a while…so, given that a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a mega-entry to catch up…what we did at the weekend:

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We saw some very regal swans…

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And cute cygnets

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And a proud duck.

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We saw some excellent views (while geocaching, needless to say)

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And I got a new Facebook profile picture, courtesy of the photographic skills of m’lovely Purple Fred (whom I love very much!)

St Pancras

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

I mentioned in a recent post on The Facebook, “I truly loathe St Pancras railway station”

I know St Panc is a Marmite thing – you either love or hate it – and I suppose it all depends on what you look for in a railway station. When I pass through, I’m not looking for a ten-course fine dining experience or the chance to buy French groceries, and I’m certainly not in the market for tacky souvenirs of a tacky sports event that hasn’t happened yet, and I (and most Londoners) will be keeping clear of when it does.

When I’m on a railway station, the most I want to buy is a bacon roll and maybe a newspaper – but what I really want, and would gladly sacrifice the chance to buy anything for, is to be able to get from the station entrance (and in London, the Underground terminal) to the train as quickly as possible, with the minimum fuss. Whoever designed the refurbished StP was so fixated on making it a major experience that the only way to fit in all the shops and overpriced eateries was to put the platforms so far from the station access that by the time you get on the train, you’ve already walked halfway to where you were going.

Incidentally, you can get a decent bacon roll at St Panc, from the Camden Food Company by the upstairs platforms. Just don’t be in a hurry.

If the designers of this commuters’ nightmare want some ideas for what a railway station eatery should look like, they need to go back in time and visit Kings Cross before the recent “improvements”. They’ll find a lovely old inn called the Duke of Wellington, with reasonably priced food and free wi-fi…all gone now, of course, in the need for modernisation.

But my favourite railway station food place is the sushi bar at Paddington. Not for the food, although I do like sushi, but for the statue of Paddington Bear in the middle. Of course the fact that the statue is also a virtual geocache helps!

Holiday

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Gosh, it’s been a while since I last blogged, hasn’t it? Still, I’ve got a good excuse…here’s a clue:

Gottle at Cinderella’s Castle

Yes, we’ve been to Orlando to visit theme parks! That’s me in the silly hat, by the way. We had a fabby time, and visited all the main attractions, as well as taking a drive across to the East coast for the Kennedy Space Centre (clicky the piccy for bigness)…

Space shuttle Discovery

…and to the West coast (of Florida) to swim with manatees, have an airboat ride and wrestle with fierce wild creatures…

Paul, ‘gator wrestling

…(I know what this looks like but I’m not really strangling it…that was how the handler told us to hold them). We also visited Gatorland, which the guidebook described as a good way to spend the morning, if you’ve got an afternoon flight. We’d have happily spent all day there, especially as there were not only alligators…

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…and white alligators…

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… but also turtles,

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…baby birds of extreme cuteness…

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…and even what my ornithologist friend Mark the Buddhist would’ve called “Little Brown Jobs” (and no, that isn’t a euphemism for manatee poo, although we saw plenty of that as well)

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Of coure we also did all of the theme parks, and my favourites were Epcot (for the sciency stuff), Animal Kingdom (for the safari ride, which I could’ve spent the whole day going round and round), and Disney Hollywood, especially for the stunt show

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We stayed at the Lake Buena Vista Resort and Spa hotel, which we selected for no better reason than that it has a pirate ship in the swimming pool, and contrary to what we later read on Trip Advisor, we really couldn’t fault it.

American food needs a mention…although to be fair these comments obviously only really apply to public eateries available in the Orlando area and not to the whole of the USA)…it’s a carnivore’s dream, although I was a bit upset when Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much) told me up front that I wasn’t allowed barbecue ribs three times a day for the whole fortnight…she knows me so well…so I had to vary the menu a bit. For the Vegetarian In You Life (Whom I Love Very Much) it was a bit of a nightmare, and she was in danger of surviving the whole fifteen days on Caesar Salad and cheesy chips, until we discovered that Frankie Finlays Authentic Irish Theme Pub (which was about as Irish as the Statue of Liberty, but there y’go) did a Portobello Burger which she liked – basically a beefburger but with a giant portobello mushroom instead of the meat.

Oh yeah, and I got four caches while we were there. I wasn’t trying very hard.

So there we are…I may not blog so often these days, but when I do, it’s a good one.

Oh, and hello to my work colleagues Bellend and Dumbass, who discovered this blog by some means while I was away!

Belsize Park, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Tuna Fish

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

There was an interesting piece on the BBC news website the other day about new research into earworms.

These, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, are those annoying tunes that get stuck in your head and go round for ages. The research looked at what causes them to embed themselves, and what triggers them. It could be hearing a bit of the tune, of course, or a sight or smell, most commonly associated with the first time you heard the tune. On which subject, I have what might be called a reverse earworm – or maybe,
rather grossly, a noseworm – as every time I hear Crosby, Stills & Nash singing Marrakesh Express, I can smell microwave tuna pasta bake. Don’t ask.

My most common earworm trigger is the phrase “Belsize Park”, which always starts Marillion’s Kayleigh running in my head.

Do you remember, barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars
Do you remember, loving on the floor in Belsize Park

As I see maps of the London Underground quite a lot, I’m exposed to the words “Belsize Park” more than you might think – it’s an area of London with a station on the Northern line. I even tried going up there one morning before work (and doing a cache there, naturally) in an attempt to root the worm out, but it didn’t work.

It’s lucky I like Marillion really, although I prefer Lavender to Kayleigh. At least it isn’t Marrakesh Express.

Can anyone smell tuna?

MDCC / 365

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

So much going on…but as you’ll see if you check my geocaching stats, I found my 1700th geocache today! And, like many centenary caches before, I found it in the excellent company of Purple Fred and Mini Fred. In fact every centenary cache except 200 has been found with one group of good geocaching chums or other – either Team Tate, who got me into caching in the first place, Rockin Rob – with or without other members of Paws4Thought – and Purple Fred, with or without Mini Fred. Oops – and of course one, number 500, with King Omally of Sweden, geocacher extraordinare.

Much of my caching activity lately has been driven by the 365 days of caching project: through the good offices of the geocaching website, every cacher can access a spreadsheet showing how many caches they’ve found on each date of the year, since they’ve been caching – since cachers by definition love a challenge, the target immediately becomes to fill in the gaps so there are no zeros. I’ve been filling in the gaps since June of this year, and although I’ve missed a few, I’m doing pretty well.

The 365 days project hasn’t only got me out caching when I mightn’t otherwise have bothered – it’s affected my other caching activities too. For example, any cache near enough to work to be achievable in a lunchtime has to be left for emergencies – i.e. a Fail to Find in the morning before work! I’ve also started working on some Puzzle and Multi caches, to give me a few more “Ready to Finds”.

All being well, the 365 days project should finish next September. We’ll see.

Crooze

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Well, as some of you will already know, I’ve been on a fabby cruise, with the lovely Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much), and the excellent MiniFred. We went around the Western Mediterranean, as this display from channel one on the cabin TV shows:

Map

We went with P&O on the good ship “Azura” and really had an excellent time. We visited

  • Cadiz, – with a visit to a sherry producer and the Royal Spanish Riding School
  • Barcelona – where PF(WILVM) sang the appropriate Freddie Mercury song quite a lot
  • Cannes – where we walked down the red carpet, found a geocache, saw the place where the film festival happens, and were charged film star prices for Croque Monsieur
  • Pisa – where the tower was leaning spectacularly
  • Florence – which was really pretty and old, and we visited an art gallery, found a geocache and ate genuine Florentine pizza
  • Rome – where some scumbag nicked my wallet, and we saw the coliseum and the forum, and threw coins in the Trevy Fountain
  • Alicante – where we went on a coach trip to Guadaleste, a pretty mountain village which was our favourite destination of the holiday, and we met a friendly pair of cats and found a geocache
  • Gibraltar – where we met the famous Barbary apes and one of them tried to do to PF(WILVM)’s glasses what a Roman scumbag had done with my wallet
  • We also enjoyed the facilities of the ship, including the theatre, the casino, the bingo, the pools, the open air cinema, and of course the five-course silver service meals every night.

    And an important added feature – for people who like minimal fuss – is that it all started and finished in Southampton, a mere fifteen minutes from home :-)

    There’s a good chance of photos at some point…

Dull

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Not this blog entry – at least not intentionally – but the conference I went to yesterday.

It was aimed at representatives of various government departments and was aimed at helping us meet our obligations under the Carbon Reduction Commitment – you’ll remember I’ve picked up Environmental Management as a little bolt-on to my portfolio of tasks, so it looked like a good idea. I was wrong about that.

Although the attendees were all representatives of the public sector one way or the other, no-one seemed to have told the speakers, all of whose talks were based on selling us expensive bits of kit next time we commission a new building. Since none of us actually have enough money to fulfil our organisations’ core operational requirements I don’t think new buildings are really on the cards (although I notice the Environment Agency have just moved into a new building) but I suppose these sales folk have to dream.

A lot of time was spent telling us how important carbon reduction and energy efficiency is, and why we should all be playing our parts. We were all thinking “We’re public sector – we have to do it because David Cameron says we have to do it. Move on.”. One talk – and I promise this is true – was aimed at “Making your operation Carbon Neutral”, which seemed interesting. The talk consisted of:

  1. Why it’s increasingly important in the current climate to become more energy efficient without spending wads of cash (we know, get on with it)
  2. The instruction “Be more energy efficient and reduce waste”
  3. Fifteen minutes of “If you employ our building management company we can make all this happen for you”

Even the freebies were pretty carp, I managed to score two pens and a notepad; Even the lunch wasn’t really worth going for.

On the good side, the conference was in a bit of London I don’t normally visit, so I managed to score three new geocaches in the lunchbreak!

Chrimbo

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Keep CalmNo, this isn’t the world’s latest blog (or even the world’s most late blog, since of course at the moment of publication it WILL be the world’s latest blog) ahem, anyway, this is a blog about the lovely (slightly late) Christmas pressie my Mum gave me yesterday.

She’s clever, my Mum, isn’t she? Clicky the picky for a big version to see her cleverness in even more detail.

Fun

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Gosh, I haven’t blogged for a while have I?

I’ve had an exciting time: Christmas Day was split between my ancestral mansion and that of m’lovely Purple Fred, and then New Year was a quiet time a deux – we’d have slept the New Year in if it hadn’t been for the fireworks, we thought the Royal Artillery had set up camp outside!

There’ve also been a few caches but the best geocacharama was today, when I not only hit eight caches with PF and MiniFred, but we took our chum Adam along on his first caching trip. We think he’s hooked :-)

Happy New Year everyone.

Crete – part two

Monday, September 6th, 2010

100906a.jpgFollowing on from my previous blog, Lord Hutton commented “Ooh I have 2 caches on Crete! Did you find them?” Sadly not, Hutters – we didn’t get to those bits of the island, although if we’d realised you had caches there we might have made an effort!

Anyway, to today’s topic…

Gottle’s Guide to Geocaching on Crete
As you can see from the picture, some Crete caches have little hints to help you find them – although in the case of this one we’d already spent some time looking in the wrong place! The caches we did find were :-

Crete: Gerapotamos Bridge and Beach, a fun cache only about five minutes from our hotel. I whacked the car’s sump on a rock after doirg this one.

El Greco, close to a museum dedicated to the painter El Greco. We enjoyed the cache but couldn’t visit the museum as it’s only open on days when the village has electricity!

CretAquarium – can you guess which tourist attraction this one is close to? We parked in the aquarium car park, and I checked the GPS just in case there was a cache close to our route home: Nearest cache 500 feet away – it would’ve been rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Arkadi Urlaubscache – close to the car park for the Arkadi monastery, and with a brilliant view of the winding hairpinned road that’s the only way up. And lots of cats!

Aptera – close to some Roman ruins with amazing baths, vaulted cisterns and a theatre. Also close to a pretty village with an excellent cafe.

Apokorona Vista – next to a fort left over from the Turkish occupation, and with a lovely 270-degree panorama over the island the Aegean Sea.

Karen’s Chania Cache – in the back of a shop in the town of Chania – the sign outside was a bit of a giveaway, once we spotted it.

We certainly enjoyed all the caches we found on Crete – we had a fail to find as well (it’s been confirmed missing), and one we couldn’t get to – but hey, at least three of them took us places we wouldn’t have seen without caching, and that’s what it’s all about.

Above Average

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Today is the 201st day of the year. And today I found my 202nd, 203rd and 204th caches of the year. I also failed to find two caches, but we’ll draw a veil over those…

It’s the first time in the year I’ve been ahead of the one-cache-a-day average, although I don’t expect it to last – New Wine starts this Friday and there’s no way I’ll maintain one a day there. But I’m happy with where I am for now, and averaging one a day would see me end the year on 1591.

I can feel a Christmas 1600 coming on…

Cachepedition

Monday, July 12th, 2010
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Well all right, it wasn’t quite a cachepedition, but close to it: when m’lovely Purple Fred (we love each other very much) asked me what I wanted to do at the weekend, I commented “Well whatever else we do, I’d like to grab three caches – I’m on 1397″ (where possible I like to do centenary numbers with sepcial chums).

So, after we’d had lunch at one of our favourite places, we had a look at the map, and guess what? A recently placed 6 mile circular route of 20 caches – plus three more along the way that had been there before the series was placed :-) . It was a hot old day, and even with several stops for water and a stop at a tea shoppe (Titchfield Haven Visitor Centre), we were flagging by the end. PF wasn’t at all impressed when I told her a decent runner would do that distance in about thirty five minutes!

We had a lovely curry and a glass of wine when we got home :-)

GrandCache

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

…or in other words, someone I introduced to caching, has placed their own first cache!

Of course, there’s already the excellent Pay Closer Attention 007, by Paws for Thought, as well as the two predecessors to that cache. But now…

Ya ta ta TAAAAA…

M’lovely Purple Fred – whom I love VERY much – and MiniFred have placed Fred and Mini’s Series Number 1, close to one of our favourite New Forest pubs. And well done to Seeking Salters, who found it on the day it was published!

There’s something else quite exciting, but I can’t tell you that until the weekend…

Caches…

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

…I found ‘em!

The train was on time this morning, and it was only raining a bit, and that was good enough for me. One of the caches I found was a bit of a novelty…as you’ll see if you check out the cache page – you don’t have to be a cacher to spot the uniqueness, it’s pretty obvious!

And then – in a moment of serendipity worthy of the twilight zone – I drew Germany in the office World Cup sweepstake!

Beaten by the Weather

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I had two caches lined up for this morning.

Unfortunately the train was late getting in to London, and then it was chucking with rain when I got there – I like caching, but not enough to be late for work AND spend the day in wet clothes for it. I’m hoping to get my average up to one a day for the year, but even at my current rate it’s going to take a while!

Still, those two will still be there tomorrow.

Success

Monday, June 7th, 2010

That picture I told you about yesterday? I found it! And here it is :-)

And on to last weekend: With the weather being so nice, m’darling Purple Fred1 and I decided that finding somewhere nice to snooze in the sun would be good, so after a bit of research we headed for The Vyne, an NT property near Basingstoke (and also close to the Royal Palace of Sweden [Hampshire Edition]), where we did indeed slob in the sun. And of course, the fact that The Vyne has two geocaches in the grounds had nothing whatever to do with our decision to go there.

Back in the car park, in the hedge alongside where we were parked, PF spotted some ladybirds…umm…making more ladybirds. Or at least, trying to – one of them seemed to be a bit of a beginner, to say the least. The male of the other pair, much to PF’s amusement, knew a very clever trick with his back legs!

On Sunday I was being an important Raynet person on a fundraising event for Marie Curie: PF and MF came and joined me as I was about to stand down from my checkpoint, although as I wasn’t quite ready they went and did a cache without me, before coming back to collect me and heading off for lunch at a lovely New Forest pub.

And then we collected two more New Forest caches on the way home, and two more in Southampton.

So, we had fun in the sun, found geocaches, helped out at a charity event,, and PF had a real success on her ebay sales. So that was our successful weekend :-)

Oh, and here’s another picture I took at the Vyne…

1 And yes, I still love her very much :-)

Look Before you Leap

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I saw an advert for car insurance in one of the caravan magazines. Insurance cover included free roadside recovery for car and caravan, 24/7, 365 days a year.

I think their website is www.nogoodinleapyears.insurance.com

In other news, yesterday I went to a work-related conference in a different area of London to my normal haunts. I –
Found a cache I’d previously failed on.
Found a multicache I’d never looked for before.
Found the first stage of a multicache near the conference venue.

Went to the conference:
Blah blah waffle COFFEE
Blah blah waffle LUNCH

Went for a walk and found the next stage of the multi, then went back to the conference.
Blah blah waffle FINISHING TIME

Then I finished the multi, and before going home I started another one – only being defeated when the plaque at the third stage was obstructed by roadworks :-)

Sorry…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

…I haven’t blogged for so long. Over the weekend I was too busy having fun to tell you about the fun I was having, and I meant to blog last night – but some train related entertainment, combined with a rather long job that I had to do last night, meant I never got to it.

The train was late. In fact, due to a number of signal-related problems, nearly every train in the south of England was running late. And then when I did get on it, I wasn’t thinking straight and sat on the wrong side, so I was by the window that had the sun all the way home. And the cooling on the train wasn’t working. And by the time the train got into Southampton, it was late enough that Southampton busses were on the “one bus whenever we feel like it, which isn’t very often” timetable. It would’ve been quicker to walk, but it was still warm and I was wilting, so I bought a litre of water from the Co-Op, and drank it before the bus arrived.

Cool dudeAnyway, as this fabby picture (taken by m’lovely Purple Fred, whom I continue to love in increasing amounts) shows, we had some fun at the weekend. Saturday was my Luvvly Mum’s birthday, so we took her out to lunch. Sorry by the way to the excellent Bel, whose surprise party I couldn’t attend – I’m afraid my Mum got first dibs on me being at her birthday!

Then PF and MiniFred and I went to the beach and found a geocache, and I came home with half the beach in my socks. I wasn’t wearing them – they were being used as handy bags to carry the stones and shells that had been collected on the beach.

And on Sunday I was being a Raynet person at the Marwell 10k race, so while I was working hard, PF and MF looked round the zoo, and tell me they had a lovely time. And then we rounded the weekend off with stuffing envelopes for the next drama group production mailshot.

I received a letter from the drama group today with a mailshot in it. There’s one envelope we needn’t have stuffed!

You Only Live Twice

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I did a London cache this evening which requires, not only that you find and log the cache, but that you include in your log a “Doctor, doctor” joke. My own effort was a bit feeble, but original – and if the cache owner has to read it, so do you:

Doctor, doctor, I
Can only express myself
in Haiku: Please help!

Wait your turn, young man.
These folk are just the same, so
queue, and form three lines.

And before anyone (Stu) says it, I know the pure Japanese form of Haiku does the 5/7/5 structure in a single line – but it’s an English joke so you get the English Haiku form!

I did another cache which was much easier and only required finding and logging :-)

Oh, and five points to anyone who can tell me (without recourse to Google), the relevance of today’s title. Sally-J gets the points automatically ‘cos I know she’ll know!

Sparkle

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

My car is gleamingly clean :-)

That’s not totally true, but it’s needed a wash for a while – I’ve kept meaning to do it, but other more interesting important things have come along so it hasn’t been done.

So yesterday, I was driving back to PF’s from working on the caravan when I spotted that the local fire station were having a charity car wash. The two off-duty watches had come in and were cleaning cars, to raise money for the memorial fund for Alan Bannon and James Shears, two firefighters who died in a fire just up the road from where I live. That was a good enough cause to liberate some folding spondo from my wallet, so I joined the queue of cars going in.

Having given the fireman on the gate my money, I was still winding the window up when the first fire hose struck. The car had possibly the best rinse any car’s ever had, then it was on to the main wash: Five firemen with sponges and buckets. Then another rinse from two more fire hoses and I was on my way.

I was telling PF and a friend of ours about it last night – they both seemed to think what I’d paid was worth it for being surrounded by firemen, without getting the car cleaned as well.

And today, PF and I went geocaching in the New Forest and found my 1300th cache!

Frustrating

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I walked past two caches today – didn’t even consider looking at either of them!

After the cachemania of the last couple of weeks, that was a bit unusual – but it’s all in a good cause. If you have a look at my caching stats up there on the top right, you’ll see that I’m on 1299 finds…and I’m planning on going caching with m’lovely PF this weekend. I like doing landmark numbers with chums.

I’m on a course at the moment, so they weren’t even caches in my normal coverage area – alright, they’re in Southampton and less than a mile from my house, but they’re not somewhere I pass that often. I’m doing my first aid refresher course – and so far only a couple of things have changed. But we’re doing CPR tomorrow – and that ALWAYS changes!