Archive for the ‘Raynet’ Category

The Power of Blogg

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Well, how about that? The event referred to in my last entry have decided they want Raynet after all, enough to accept us as they have before. So how about that?

Actually, I’m not sure it was my blog that did it – I’m not really sure what the whole thing has been about, but one way or another I’m looking forward to it.

Now where are my extra-heavy-duty thermals?

Feeling Unwanted

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Long term readers will know that I volunteer, through Raynet, on an event in early December every year. It’s always amazingly hard work, as well as being cold and usually wet, but also great fun :-) .

We’re normally all organised and know exactly who’s doing which job by the middle of September, so when I hadn’t heard anything I e-mailed the Raynet person who’s our liason with the organisers. He replied that there was still a problem he was trying to sort out and he’d be in touch soon.

Well it turns out that the organisers have decided not to use Raynet this year – or rather, they’ve imposed conditions on Raynet which are impossible to fulfil in the time allowed. Basically they’re insisting that all Raynet people not only have CRB – which most of us do – but have CRB issued by their organisation. Since CRB takes at least four weeks, and starts with everyone turning up in person to present their personal ID docs, it was never going to happen with a team of volunteers from all over England – at least, not in the time available before this year’s event.

For my non-UK readers, CRB is a “Criminal Records Bureau” check, by which people who work or volunteer in positions which bring them into contact with vulnerable people have to prove they’ve never been caught doing anything nasty. As I’ve blogged before, the system is heavily flawed, produces huge numbers of false negatives and positives, only picks up those who’ve already been caught, and worst of all lulls parents and carers into a false sense of security about who’s looking after their young ones.

So, Raynet won’t be doing that one this year, in spite of the fact that most of us do have current CRB and are anyway never in a situation of being alone with vulnerable people. In the nature of such things, I suspect we won’t be asked back. And then, at the start of this week, I heard that another event which I’ve volunteered on since time immemorial won’t be needing me next year either1.

Which is why today’s piece is entitled “Feeling Unwanted”.

1 To be strictly accurate, the organisation that runs the event has sacked the team members who did the actual organisation. Since that now puts the event in the hands of people who make Brownian Motion look organised, I’ve decided they can do without me as well..


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 :-)


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!

Bleep Bleep!

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Well, I know where the final location of the cache is :-)

That is, I think I do – I visited the site this morning but couldn’t find it, but all the clues fitted so I’m sure I was in the right place. I’ll email the cache owner and check I was in the right spot, and try again later in the week.

Didn’t it hammer down over the weekend? I was out on the Meon Valley Plod, and had to drive through some really deep floods to get there. I’ll tell you how cold and wet it was…I didn’t do any caches afterwards!

Busy Busy Busy

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Well, I’ve been hugely busy.

I wrote some Chrismas cards this evening – I know many of you will agree with Purple Fred that it’s insanely early to be writing Christmas cards, but I want to get the ones that need to be posted done nice and early in case the Communication Workers start playing silly devils again. Oh, and I’ve started sorting the gear I need to take on the big Raynet in a couple of weeks time. As I explained to PF – whom I love very much – packing gear usually involves at least a couple of hissy fits running around and yelling “Where have I put that, and why can’t I find it?”. If I’m going to do that, I’d rather it was a couple of weeks before the event, and not half past eleven the night before!

And I’ve bought three Christmas presents and I’m partway through sorting out a fourth.

Meanwhile there are some longer term projects that have been on the back burner for rather too long that I need to get sorted –
– getting Evie B fitted with a towbar
– getting the caravan booked in for the annual service
– making a start on the winter caravan jobs before it gets too cold to want to get over there
– studying for my environmental qualification
– sorting out my application for Chartered status
– finishing the stats for New Wine that I promised about six weeks ago.

And that’s why blogging’s been a bit sparse lately :-)


Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Well, I had a text from Jenny last night, enquiring “Fort u woz getting a noo car…where izit?”, which I think translates to “Please could you post some pictures of your new car on your blog?”.

Always ready to please, here she is…Evie.

And here she is again, earning her keep today on the New Forest Marathon.

That isn’t my caravan…Julian, my chum wot I was working with, brought his along for the day.

More pictures…including the exciting photo-story of the fitting of the radio technology…when I have five minutes.

Wot I Did This Weekend

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

…not as much as we might have done, due to the lovely Purple Fred not being too well…apparently she caught the minor cold I had last weekend, only in her case it turned into the flu :-(

Still and all, it didn’t stop us enjoying an evening out last night, in the company of Sarah, Steve, Becky, George, Jenny and Chris. A pretty fab pub meal was had by all, and PF discovered a new favourite pudding in eton mess.

And today we went a-Raynetting, on the Meon Valley Plod, a luvvly 20-mile cross country run around the Meon Valley, featuring glorious scenery and the best weather I’ve ever seen for this event…in as much as the temperature was above freezing and it didn’t rain!

And needless to say we managed a couple of caches…
Another Meon View on the way to the event, and
Pint of HSB and a cache please on the way home.

Get well soon PF darling…we have an adventure to plan for next Saturday!

Lots of Things

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

SOOO much has happened since I last blogged…

Grunty has been in for a service, and been checked over for the work that’s needed before the MOT. And then of course, Saturday was Valentine’s Day…which could only mean geocaching activity with Purple Fred, and some family and friends :-)

On Sunday I was Raynetting in the north of the county, and on the way I called in at a shop near PF’s house for a pie: I bought a steak and onion pie with the rather unusual slogan “Specialising in Sandwiches”. I thought that was rather an odd slogan for a pie, but having eaten it I think they’re right…they should stick to sandwiches :-(

The event over, it was time for some caching…
SideTracked – Mortimer Station, Berkshire and
Elf Yourself were straightforward enough, apart from the VERY agricultural smells at Elf Yourself…then it was on to
The Devil’s Highway. This is along a byway (an off-road track which it’s legal to drive) which the cache description says is recently resurfaced and driveable in all types of vehicle.

Normally the rule in off-roading is “never drive anything for the first time on your own, unless you’ve walked it first”, but with a recommendation like that I was prepared to chance it, especially as it started so promisingly…

And it was going so well untill literally a few yards from the end, when I came to the huge fallen tree blocking the path. At which point I remembered that in the whole mile-and-a-half there’d only been one place to turn round. Reversing for threequarters of a mile off-road is…um…exciting!

And then on the way home I stopped at Winchester Services for
Motorway Mayhem-M3 Winchester Services Southbound, which was much easier and offered a chance for coffee and biscuits!


Monday, January 19th, 2009

Well what a lovely weekend that was :-)

It started with getting the caravan moved to its permanent storage location, which was a major job off my to-do list, and then I helped Purple Fred do a couple of items on her to-do list. And then after lunch, we changed into our getting-muddy gear (which proved to be a sensible move) and went geocaching!

First was
My ‘ampshire no. 7, a clever little hide where we bumped into old caching chums Kitty Hawk and family. Then came
My ‘ampshire no. 6, after which I suggested retiring to a tea shoppe for hot chocklit: PF, however, is made of sterner stuff, and may be just a little bit geocaching-obsessed, so we carried on and did
My ‘ampshire no. 5, where we met new caching chums MuppetMel and family, and then
My ‘ampshire no. 3.

On Sunday we helped out at the Stubbington Green 10k race and did a couple more caches:
Solent Way: Hill Head Steps and
Norseman Unplugged, as well as dlscovering a rather nice new lunch venue. As I said, a LOVELY weekend!

Oh, and this morning I achieved another cache,
Back on the Grid, on the way to work!

Is it Holiday Time yet?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

No, but almost :-)

I had another busy day yesterday: Huge fun, but busy. For the first eight hours or so, I was being an important Raynet person at the New Forest Marathon: We normally reckon this takes fifteen Raynet people out on the course, and a minimum of two – preferably three – in Control. Yesterday, as a result of illness, holidays and other last minute factors, there was me in Control, and six others out on the course. Running Control on your own is hard enough at the best of times, requiring the skills of an octopus in a paper-hanging contest, but on an event the size of this one…anyway, it would’ve been nice if you HAD stopped, Matt, and I’d probably have given you a job!

Once I escaped from there, I headed to my diet buddy’s house to eat hot dogs, watch Garfield II on DVD, and other fun activities :-) . And then I went home to bed.

And this morning, WorstBus Southampton failed to run the number 10, which meant I missed the train to work. Bummer.

Tri, tri again

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Today I have mostly been being an important Raynet person on the ForestMan – a full ironman triathlon in the New Forest, consisting of a 3.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile run. The fun started just before six in the morning as the competitors were plunging into Ellingham Lakes, and finished in glorious evening sunshine at ten – with a buffet that was more like a banquet for all the helpers who hadn’t gone home to bed.

One of the runners lost half an hour when a bull chased her into a bog, but that’s the kind of thing that could happen to anyone, isn’t it.

Round Up

Monday, May 5th, 2008

So anyway…Sunday morning I was again being an important Raynet person, this time on a triathlon in the New Forest. I was on my first checkpoint at eight o’clock :-( – But I left home a bit earlier than I needed to, so I had time on the way for Two Rivers – Godshill on the way!

Then I stood by the side of the road, chatting to a Californian race marshal called Travis, and watching 500 cyclists going past.

Then I stood by the side of a different road and watched 500 runners go past.

And then I had time for an afternoon caching! There was a little pocket of caches around Fordingbridge that I hadn’t done, including one that I’d previously failed to find, so I headed for them first:
Nuts About Caching
Off The Rails
Yule Log
A Teeny Bit in Suspense – this was the one I’d failed to find on a previous visit, and I thought I was going to repeat the experience. I even went so far as to text my old chum Nobby “the Nobster” Nobbs for a bit of help – and then I spotted it! So that was alright.

Then on the way home I stopped at the car park for the first one of the day, this time for a longer walk, confusingly to another cache also called
Godshill – near to which, I spotted this rather dramatic tree:

And then as I was passing, I stopped for
Woe Betide
on my way to the chinese takeaway!

Today I was due to be visiting friends, but they had to cancel because of illness – it was a shame, but I wasn’t going to waste what turned out to be a nice afternoon! First – and in spite of some rather odd technology problems that I still haven’t really solved – was
Woods Corner, followed by
Duck or Gorse
A Boggy Cache
A Finlay Fix
Great Pines

Then I had an ice cream, and went home :-)


Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Hefty thunderstorms in the Hampshire area today – and at least one friend of mine has lost their broadband connection to a lightning strike :-( . No such problem at Gottle HQ thank goodness – the only effect the storm had on me was that I was out in it and had to scurry for cover in Grunty!

I was busy being an important Raynet person on the Marwell 10k race – sitting in the tail car and watching the back end of the slowest runners! Still, the weather had kept the really slow ones at home so it was soon all over, leaving me free to head for a few caches.

I was hoping for four and that’s what I achieved – although not the four I’d intended. The one I’d planned as number one, I drove straight past – the recommended parking turned out to be an illegal and totally inconsiderate parking spot, so I moved to what had been intended as number two:
I Would Walk 500 Miles, owned by our good chum Esscafe. Plenty of mud on the track, I wish Rob and Sarah had been there – but a nice cache to do.

Then it was on to Hambledon, for a circular walk taking in three caches:
Pop Goes the Cache, which was nice and easy.
Bees Knees Beware of the Trees, which wasn’t easy, and
A Sign of the Times.

Then back to the gym, and home for a chinese takeaway. Another nice day :-)


Sunday, February 17th, 2008

In spite of Rob’s comment, I’m quite glad I missed Basingstoke last night. My throat was still rough when I got up this morning and I hadn’t slept as well as I could. Still, I’d agreed to go and work on the Meon Valley Plod, so off I went.

It was a fantastic day – the ice was over an inch thick on some of the puddles, but the sunshine was glorious. There were paragliders over Small Down, visible from checkpoint one, and towards the end of the afternoon there were a couple of hot air balloons overhead. And I took Grunty offroad, over Teglease Down :-)

The bad news was that I didn’t get to the caching chums meet, which was only a couple of miles away. I got held up on the event, and by the time I phoned Sally-J to see if the meet was still going on, it wasn’t.

I did find a cache on the way to the race, though! Wild West End is a fun little puzzle, and a lovely location.

Koff koff


Sunday, January 13th, 2008

When a tree gets old and gnarly, you can sometimes see faces in the wood. They’re not often as realistic as this though…

As you might guess, yesterday afternoon I went caching with Rob and Sarah. They’d never done one of my caches, Bob’s Box, and I wanted to go and do a maintenance visit, so off we plodded through the mud.

Having changed the cache camera for a fresh one, we headed off for a nearby cache which none of us had done, Knockin’ on Oven’s Door. The tree in the picture had an oven door cut from it many years ago, and that’s what made it the interesting shape it is now.

And then we went to the pub :-)

This morning I was being a Raynet person on the Stubbington Green 10k Race, after which I enjoyed an afternoon’s geocaching – and as you can see it was a bit wet – I’d just crossed this bridge! There’s a lovely series of caches along a stretch of the Solent Way, and in an eight mile walk, I found
Solent Way – Cliff Top
Solent Way – Brownwich Farm
Solent Way – Wight View
Solent Way – Solent Breezes
Solent Way – Calshot View
Solent Way – Hook Park
Solent Way – Old Wall
Solent Way – Titchfield Haven

And then I went to the car wash to give Grunty a bath, and then I went home and had one myself. Is it bed time yet?

Santa Claus is Coming to…Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

There were seventy-five of them, allegedly – I can’t claim to have counted them all. I was too busy wondering if there was an open fire I could roast my chestnuts on – or any other way I could warm up, basically.

The whole thing was a sponsored walk for a local hospice, and I was Raynet-ing on one of the checkpoints. It was a nice sunny day, but freezing cold – even the pond was frozen over – and the hot chocklit and mince pies after the event were very welcome :-)

Needless to say I couldn’t travel to the other side of the county and not try for a cache or two. There was one in the park itself, just along the track from my checkpoint: I wasn’t expecting to find it as it had already been reported probably missing, but I had to have a look: I don’t think it’s there either.

So I moved on to Long Live the Ammo Box!, named for the fact that most caches these days are micros or tupperware. Then on to
The South Downs Way Jolly Up no. 5 – we met the owner of this one the day we did the Itchen Navigation caches. And finally in this corner of the countryside,
Coombe Across a Cache, by our friends Esscafe. Sarah always places excellent caches, and this one is no exception!

I mentioned the Itchen Navigation series – there were still two I hadn’t done, so on the way home I called in at Miniature Railway – Itchen Navigation Series. One to go!


Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

It occurred to me, while I was telling the tale at work today, that only a couple of you know how I got into this whole working-on-events thing.

Back in my serious running days, I saw an advertisement for the South Downs Way Race, and thought it might be a fun thing to try. This event was exactly what it said on the tin: competitors started at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield (which used to be the start of the South Downs Way, in those days) on Saturday morning, and finished in Eastbourne, 80 miles away, anything up to 27 hours later.

After a couple of years taking part, I came to my senses and realised that it wasn’t such a fun thing to take part in, and contacted the organiser to offer to help instead. The first year I helped with the start, and took on more year by year until I ended up as Assistant Race Director – a job that involved being on the go from 6:00 AM Saturday until midday Sunday – and then driving home!

Event communications was provided by Raynet, and I got to know some of the Raynet people pretty well. What they did looked like fun and I hadn’t learned from previous experiences so I joined them.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Sadly the South Downs Race is also history, but it was fun while it lasted. And that’s why I’m a radio ham, why I’m in Raynet, and why I like the big, long, hard working events so much.

Wild Weekend

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

I met this little chap at about half past one Sunday morning, in a village hall in the middle of nowhere. As you can see, we have something in common – we both like playing with radio aerials. We’re also both friendly and cuddly, but that’s another story…

So yes, it’s that time of year for Raynetting on Tour de Trigs – for new readers, or those who don’t remember last year, this is a fifty-mile overnight walk in horribly muddy conditions. It’s sort of competitive, in that there are prizes for the fastest teams, but the real challenge is just completing it. To give you an idea what it’s like, everyone walks in teams, and if someone from your team drops out, you have to team up with someone else so that no-one is ever left on their own (or you can choose to drop out yourself, of course). And even then, anyone who makes it past 60% of the total distance gets a congratulations certificate. This is a TOUGH event!

Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J – team size is three – whaddya think for next year?

Anyway, I normally work on one of the rescue teams for this event, but there’d been a staff shuffle this year and I was on the Roving Marshal’s team instead. It was still 24 hours non-stop activity, but at least this year on Saturday night, instead of finding a chippy that was still open (which is what the rescue teams do), we went back to the house of one of the team members where his wife had made us a curry. And then we sat and watched a repeat of CSI until we were called out again :-)

And then I caught the train home, had a chinese (after a weekend like that I can’t be bothered to pretend it was salad!), and went to bed at half past six. And didn’t wake up until half past eight this morning. Lucky I’d had the sense to pre-book today off work!

Kingly Fashion

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Yesterday’s main activity was joining in with Raynet, providing safety support to the Kingley Vale Moonlight Walk, a sponsored walk in aid of the Breast Cancer Unit at St Richard’s Hospital. As the title suggests, it was all after dark and we had a fine view of several firework displays on the low ground. So, we walked up the hill, had our mug of soup, and walked back down again, before heading for the pub!

Of course, there was no way I was going to go that far from home without a cache or two, so I headed down there a bit early to get some bonus walking in before it was dark. First was
LQ: West Sussex, where I arrived to find someone already sitting on what I thought was probably the hiding place. He did his best to look innocent, but we quickly agreed that we were both there for the same reason, and that made it an easy find.

I’d hoped from there to be able to walk along the ridge top to Collie’s Climb – unfortunately what the map hadn’t shown was a field full of cattle, and a big sign saying “PRIVATE – KEEP OUT – BEWARE OF THE BULL”. In true Fetchez les vaches style I decided the best tactic was to Run Away, so I took the long way round on a public footpath.

Last – and conveniently on the route back to the car – was Sending out an SOS, an easy find and a fun little cache to do :-)

Today – apart from church this morning – was spent doing maintenance visits on two of my own caches: Blog Standard: The Blogger’s Bog was reported missing, and sure enough it IS missing :-( . I’ll replace it soon. Meanwhile, A Walk in the Park has been missing for a while, so I replaced it today. So one out, one in!

And then when I got home I met this little chap. Sorry the picure’s a bit rubbish, I only had my camera phone with me, but I thought it was worth it!

News Of All Kinds

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

So – we had the Raynet group AGM last night. I’m no longer group controller! Most of you know that I’d planned to not stand again, and a perfectly able candidate put themselves forward, so “Yay and woo!”. I haven’t left Raynet – in fact I’ll be carrying on as group webmaster – but I’m clear of all the bits of that job that I didn’t like. Like the wombatting politics.

In feeling-a-bit-crap related news, I’m still coughing for England. I had to deliver a training session this morning, and I can honestly say they didn’t get of my best: It all conspired a bit, the technology didn’t work properly and I was feeling rubbish just as I was presenting to my biggest group since I started this job – also the group most likely to be critical of what I had to say. Ah well, these things happen.

And in feeling-good related news – I have theatre tickets! That’s really only good news for Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J…and me, of course :-)

Think it’ll be an early night tonight.